The Guardian May 16, 2001


US resolution against Cuba: "Phyrric Victory"

Just two weeks before it was thrown off the United Nations Human Rights 
Commission (UNHRC) on May 3 the US forced through a resolution condemning 
the "human rights' situation in Cuba. Felipe Perez Roque, Minister of 
Foreign Relations of the Republic of Cuba, at a round table discussion held 
in the Television Cubana studios on April 20, gave the background to the 
vote against Cuba at the April 18 UNHRC meeting in Geneva. The following 
are extracts from his contribution.

We should establish, first of all, the very real fact that this exercise 
against Cuba in Geneva, which is one of the last weapons left for the 
United States Government to use against Cuba, given the failure of all the 
others, like the military option, the economic blockade, and the campaigns 
of lies, is an exercise that has worn itself out.

That is to say, everyone in the world is fully aware that the US resolution 
against Cuba in Geneva has no foundation, no real explanation, no support 
other than the power of those who actually propose and impose it, namely 
the US Government. And getting this resolution adopted has become 
increasingly difficult, and has come at an ever higher political cost for 
them.

This is the basis for comrade Fidel's assertion that this is but a pyrrhic 
victory, because the cost of achieving the condemnation of Cuba in Geneva 
is becoming increasingly difficult to pay for the United States.

The United States imposed this resolution for the first time in 1990, 
coinciding with the most difficult moments in the history of the 
Revolution. It managed to continue imposing it in more or less the same way 
up until 1997.

In 1998, however, the United States failed to realise that this exercise 
had lost all credibility, and that year Cuba defeated the resolution.

In 1999, it used the Czech Republic, and managed to get the resolution 
adopted by a vote of 21 to 20, through the use of enormous pressure and 
blackmail.

Last year it succeeded in getting it through with a vote of 21 to 18.

This year, prospects looked unfavourable for them, and this led [US 
Secretary of State] Powell to make the comments that have given us such 
pride, when he said that this was a goal of the highest priority, that it 
was a tough battle, and that they were gathering forces against Cuba.

Of the 53 member countries of the Commission, eight cosponsored the draft 
resolution: the United States, obviously, the Czechs who submitted it, 
Germany, Latvia, the United Kingdom, Poland, Canada and Japan.

The Yankees also managed to get 15 other countries to cosponsor the 
resolution even though they are not members. These countries are Hungary, 
the Netherlands, Iceland, Bulgaria, Nicaragua  the only Latin American 
country to participate  Sweden, Lithuania, Denmark, Slovenia, Albania, 
Israel, Australia, Slovakia and Finland.

The resolution was adopted by a vote of 22 in favour, 20 against, 10 
abstentions, and one absence  31 did not vote in favour.

In other words, of the 53 member countries, 60 percent did not accompany 
the United States in this anti-Cuban manoeuvre, despite the unprecedented 
pressure unleashed by the United States around the world.

There are the 16 votes it has wrapped up: the United States and Canada, 
that makes two; Japan and South Korea, four; the eight countries of western 
Europe, 12; and four votes from eastern European countries. In addition, it 
got the votes of Argentina, Uruguay and Costa Rica, which were predictable; 
it also got Guatemala's vote at the last minute. And it got the final boost 
it needed through the tremendous pressure that was exerted on Africa, which 
garnered votes from two African countries: Cameroon and Madagascar.

Cuba maintained the support of 10 countries that voted against the 
resolution last year and that stood firm against all the pressures to vote 
against it once again, namely Burundi, China, India, Indonesia, Liberia, 
Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Venezuela and Zambia.

In addition, seven countries that newly joined the Commission this year 
also voted against the draft resolution: Algeria, Libya, Malaysia, Saudi 
Arabia, South Africa, Syria and Vietnam. And two countries that abstained 
last year voted against the resolution this year: Swaziland and Qatar. So 
these were the 20 votes obtained by our country.

This is the truth of the matter: on the morning of the day of the vote, at 
9:00 in the morning Cuban time, we had the commitment of 24 countries to 
vote against the resolution, and the United States had the votes of 19 
countries.

Brutal pressure

The only way the United States could impose the resolution was by doing 
what it did, unleashing brutal pressure in the final hours, when they 
realised that they did not have enough support in Geneva.

President Bush joined in, along with the Vice President, the Secretary of 
State, the State Department officials. They launched an operation that 
ultimately succeeded in getting seven countries to break down and change 
their position. [Cameroon, Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal, Guatemala, Niger, 
Democratic Republic of Congo  Ed]

"Felipe Perez Roque then outlined how each of these countries was pressured 
into either abstaining or voting against Cuba. We give two examples here  
Ed." Kenya

We are dealing here with a country suffering from a drought that has 
plummeted four million people into starvation, a country with 1.6 million 
people infected with AIDS. And the United States put the pressure on.

Kenya desperately needs the International Monetary Fund to approve a credit 
of $150 million, and this will require US approval. The Monetary Fund will 
not give them the money if the United States does not authorise it, and 
they used this to pressure them.

And listen to this report, which just happens to be from April 17, the day 
before the vote: "The World Bank and other donors have promised some $98 
million to Kenya to curb the spread of AIDS."

The source quotes the Kenyan Minister of the presidential office, who said 
that the World Bank was granting another 50 million and the British 
Government"  the British were the ones who directly pressured Kenya on 
the United States' behalf  "through the Department for International 
Development would offer another $37 million".

They used this to pressure Kenya, a country with 1.6 million people 
infected with AIDS, a country where an estimated 12 percent of the adult 
population is infected with AIDS.

They pressured them with the International Monetary Fund credit, with the 
money to fight AIDS, and they succeeded in getting Kenya, which had 
committed its support to Cuba, to ultimately abstain.

Niger

Niger is the second poorest country in the world. We are talking about a 
country with a per capita GDP of $190, that is the kind of country we are 
talking about. Average life expectancy, 49 years. Infant mortality, 166 per 
1000 live births before one year of age. Niger was brutally pressured.

Last year Niger voted against the anti-Cuban resolution.

Then, the US embassy in Niger recommended measures like these to the US 
State Department: "We should reopen the USAID office here in Niger, to 
create the hope that we are going to resume development aid: we should 
promise them an economic aid package; we should invite the President to 
visit the United States."

These were the kind of measures that the Yankee embassy was using in 
conjunction with the State Department, as we discovered on April 16.

The State Department exerted tremendous pressure in the end. I am going to 
read the report from our ambassador:

"The Prime Minister told our ambassador than the US Under-Secretary of 
State for Africa had called him twice in the early hours of the morning, to 
tell him that if they did not vote against Cuba, Niger would not benefit 
from the African trade law, and that all of its plans for financial 
development with the Monetary Fund and the World Bank would be boycotted, 
which would make Niger's future extremely difficult and uncertain.

"The Prime Minister told him that they could not vote against Cuba, and in 
an urgent meeting with the President, they ultimately adopted the decision 
to abstain, out of fear of reprisals from the United States."

This was how they pressured Niger; this is the explanation they themselves 
gave to our ambassador.

I think I have spoken extensively enough about how the pressure was applied 
in Africa. Nevertheless, I must mention  although I cannot tell you her 
name  a diplomat who afterwards, in tears, when we were alone, showed us 
the instructions she had received to vote for Cuba.

Then she told us about the moment when they changed her instructions. She 
said that after the vote, the US ambassador had come up to her to thank 
her, and she told him that he should not thank her, because she was only 
following instructions, but she did not agree with them, and she ended the 
conversation.

There are examples of three or four African countries whose representatives 
came up to us after and told us about a lot of these things, and that 
allowed us to see the brutal and unscrupulous way in which the United 
States imposed this resolution.

We should remember that we talking about countries that are facing truly 
unbearable situations.

There were Foreign Ministers who were woken up in the early hours of the 
morning. We know that the Under-Secretary of State for Africa called the 
Prime Minister of Niger in the middle of the night, at 4:00 in the 
morning... That is the way they behaved.

There are countless stories like these. And so, to conclude, I think that 
our people should have no doubt that the only thing the United States 
achieved in this worn-out exercise, imposed on the basis of brutal 
pressure, was in fact a pyrrhic victory.

The moral victory, prestige and authority belong to our country. We have 
received countless messages from the United Nations congratulating us, 
expressing that this has been a victory for Cuba that has stood up to and 
fought back against the imperial superpower.

I believe that the young Cuban diplomats who have been there together with 
Ambassador Amat, who represent the generation made by the Revolution, have 
earned the admiration of our people, and are certainly a worthy example of 
the generation made by the Revolution.

On a day like today, we could say that the current generations of Cubans 
defend the Revolution with as much passion, as much conviction, as much 
revolutionary enthusiasm as the generation that defeated the Yankees at the 
Bay of Pigs 40 years ago."

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