UN rights envoy: US economic embargo against Cuba hampers political rights effort
GENEVA (Reuters) – A special U.N. rights envoy expressed alarm on Tuesday at allegations of ill treatment in Cuban jails, but said that a U.S. economic embargo was hampering attempts to improve Cuba’s respect for political rights.
“The extreme tension between Cuba and the United States has created a climate which is far from conducive to the development of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly,” French magistrate Christine Chanet said.
In a new report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Chanet said her main concern was still the detention of dozens of dissidents whose arrest while working as journalists, writers and members of associations in March and April 2003 caused an international uproar.
She said she was “alarmed at the allegations of ill-treatment in detention” submitted by prisoners’ families.
“Food and hygiene are substandard and medical care either unavailable or inappropriate,” said Chanet, whose post was created in 2002.
Furthermore, more people had been arrested over the past year for expressing opinions, added the magistrate, who has yet to be allowed to visit the Caribbean communist state.
But Chanet, whose report was posted on the Commission’s Web site, pointed to a number of “positive” developments in the areas of economic, social and cultural rights, especially in education and health.
Infant mortality had been lowered and life expectancy extended. All Cuban children attended school and illiteracy had been virtually eradicated, she added.
This was despite the 40-year-old U.S. embargo, which had had disastrous economic and social effects as well as causing harm to civil and political rights.
Sidenote: That last sentence – specifically as it relates to “causing harm to civil and political rights” – sounds like an opinion expressed by the writer of the Reuters piece, rather than established fact. Perhaps the author mistakenly left out “she [Chanet] said”?
In any event, what Chanet doesn’t seem to get is that US economic embargo or not, communist Cuba under the rule of Fidel Castro would still harbor a stifling climate of oppression because, well, that’s just one of many things communists like to do.
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