Cuba, Mexico and the UN vote on human rights
By Barnard R. Thompson
Cuban officials persist in their recurrent suppression of truth
regarding abuses of human rights committed by the Communist government led by Fidel Castro.
This as the annual April vote on a resolution — sponsored this year by Honduras — before the Geneva-based
United Nations Commission on Human Rights, condemning human rights practices on the island, approaches.
To all intents and purposes the Cuban actions and reactions have
become a yearly routine, as irreverent officials and supposed lobbyists revile the U.S., claiming among other things that
it drafted the Honduran resolution. As well, they berate members of the 53-nation
commission in an effort to intimidate or finagle their representatives into voting in Cuba’s favor or to abstain.
And again this year the opponents of accountability are targeting
Mexico, this time with an odd hypocrisy.
Early in April self-proclaimed presidential candidate Jorge Castañeda,
Mexico’s Foreign Relations secretary from December 2000 until he resigned in January 2003, said that it would be “unthinkable”
for Mexico not to vote in favor of human rights in Cuba, in exchange for the extradition of Carlos Ahumada Kurtz. Castañeda’s remark came as a result of news commentary and speculation circulating in Mexico.
Ahumada is the fugitive businessman wanted in Mexico for questioning
in connection with corruption and graft uncovered in the government of Mexico City mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Authorities in Cuba detained Ahumada on March 30 at Mexico’s request, where
he is currently being held in one of four luxury suite-like cells in the otherwise draconian Villa Maristas detention facility
as he awaits possible extradition.
In a prompt rejoinder to Castañeda’s comments, Cuban foreign
minister Felipe Pérez Roque made a statement that reeks of interventionism in the politics of Mexico — to say nothing
of a cheap shot at the U.S. Pérez said “Castañeda cannot promote himself
as an independent (presidential) candidate in Mexico, as he is dependent upon the most suspicious interests of the U.S.”
“Castañeda is not an independent candidate, he is a Washington
lackey of the most imperialistic and reactionary sectors of the U.S. government,” Pérez added. And he denied any Cuban effort in “trying to get Mexico to abstain in Geneva in exchange for Ahumada.”
“Cuba would never link the will of the Mexican government
in the Commission on Human Rights with the issue of Ahumada,” Pérez went on. “We
would never use that issue for blackmail or him as a piece to exchange. These
are not our methods, it is not our ethic.”
An April 6 article in the Cuban Communist Party daily Granma
concluded with the following: “The Public Prosecutor’s Office believes that the matter is a delicate one, with
undoubted political connotations of interest to Mexico and in an international context….
At the same time, those deeds place the security of the Cuban State at risk at a particularly dangerous juncture for
Cuba, a country that is the victim of constant disinformation campaigns aimed at disorienting international public opinion
and injuring the island’s prestige and credibility. The Cuban state has
always followed a consistent policy of defending the truth with absolute transparency, based on a principle of rejecting political
manipulation, and impeccable conduct in terms of meeting its international obligations.”
It should be mentioned that Castañeda, a left-leaning intellectual,
was once the darling of the Cubans — but that fizzled out during the March
2002 development and financing summit in Monterrey, Mexico. The divorce came,
according to the Cuban government, because Castañeda was the “diabolical and cynical architect” who forced Castro’s
early departure so that he would not run afoul of George W. Bush during the summit’s concluding events.
Miguel Hakim Simón, Mexican Under-secretary for Latin America
and the Caribbean, told EFE of Spain on April 6 that “Mexico will express its vote on a UN resolution regarding human
rights in Cuba once there is a definitive text.” As to the Honduran resolution
condemning Cuba, he noted that the text has yet to go through expected modifications.
Through all of this however a basic fact has been kept from much
of the public debate, while hopefully it is key to the discussions in Geneva — violations of human rights are a fact
of life among Cuba’s repressed population. In this regard, in her report
to the 60th session of the Commission, the Personal Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Christine Chanet,
calls the ongoing Cuba situation an “unprecedented wave of oppression.”
Cuban officials of course reject the testimony, with a foreign
ministry spokesman referring to Chanet’s UN report as “hypocritical accusations.”