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Monday, June 01, 2009


Human Rights Watch and their "higher collective standard"

Human Rights Watch (HRW) today urged the OAS not to readmit Cuba because "OAS members have made an explicit commitment to promote human rights and the rule of law in the region." They go on to say that "Instead of lowering the region's bar to accommodate Cuba, the OAS should press Cuba to raise its respect for human rights to meet a higher collective standard."

Yes, we all know about that "higher standard" that permeates the OAS. Like that of its leading member, the United States, which has demonstrated its commitment to the "rule of law" by illegally invading other countries and causing the death of more than a million people; the United States, which has demonstrated its commitment to human rights by using its unwanted possession of a portion of Cuban territory to imprison literally hundreds of people without charges, trial, or pretty much any rights at all (and what rights they do have tenaciously won by lawyers, not through any concession by the U.S. government), and which has acknowledged 28 confirmed or suspected homicides of detainees in their custody, people literally tortured to death, with many more unacknowledged. That's the "higher collective standard" that HRW aspires to.

Meanwhile HRW slanders Cuba with the charge that "for nearly five decades, the Cuban government has enforced political conformity with criminal prosecutions, long- and short-term detentions, mob harassment, physical abuse, and surveillance." This is an out-and-out lie. There is no one in Cuba who has been criminally prosecuted for "political nonconformity"; unlike the U.S. prison in Cuba (Guantanamo), everyone in prison in Cuba has been charged, tried, and convicted for violating existing laws.

Not, by the way, that the U.S. is the only offender in the OAS. On its front page today, HRW features an article describing "an epidemic of violence against transgender people" in Honduras. Meanwhile in Cuba just two weeks ago there was a celebration and march for the International Day against Homophobia, as well as an announcement that government-paid sex-change operations will soon be underway.

Want to improve the average human rights level of the members of the OAS? Try expelling the U.S. And to really improve the level, readmit Cuba, the country where respect for the right to education, housing, health care, and a job are placed before the "right" to make a profit.

Addendum: One of the leading criticisms that one hears of Cuban human rights is their imprisonment of 75 "journalists." Now the definition of a "journalist" is open to debate, I'm pretty sure I've written more words publicly about news events than any of those 75 ever did. But that's beside the point, because the 75 were not put in prison for being journalists (or even "journalists") or for anything they wrote; if that were the case, the West's favorite Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez would have been in jail long ago.

The reality is that the 75 were imprisoned for meeting with, and taking money from, agents of a foreign government whose stated policy towards Cuba is "regime change" - the United States. And, not coincidentally, the arrests of those 75 occurred just days before the U.S. demonstrated to the world the lengths it was willing to go to implement "regime change" by invading Iraq. And, unlike the people imprisoned in Guantanamo, the 75 were charged with actual, existing crimes, and were tried, convicted, and given defined sentences.

For more about that incident, you can read a short explanation in an interview of Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcón by Saul Landau, or an exhaustively detailed, day-by-day account from Fidel Castro himself.

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