Cuba says US has won a pyhrric victory in Geneva

Campaign News | Saturday, 17 April 2004

US motion is passed by just one vote

GENEVA April 16 - Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque told a news conference in Havana that the vote at the UN criticising Cuba was "a pyrrhic victory" for Washington.

"The resolution 'does not use the words `condemn Cuba,' it does not use the word 'scold,' it does not use the word 'reprimand.'", he said

The United Nations human rights body voted by the narrowlest of margins on Thursday April 15 to criticise Cuba over its alleged human rights record .

The motion at the Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights, which was written by the US and presented by Honduras, passed by just one vote - 22 to 21, with 10 abstentions.

Cuba is therefore claiming a moral victory in that the number of abstentions added to the votes against means that a clear majority of the commission did not vote for it.

The aftermath of the vote has resulted in a bitter row after it was alleged that one of the Cuban delegation attacked and punched the Cuban-American anti-Castro actuivist Frank Calzon.

Calzon, a former would be assassin of Fidel castro, a CIA operative and the head of a Washington-funded organisation called the Center for a Free Cuba, claims to have been knocked out by a piunch thrown at him by a Cuban diplomat.

Cuban Ambassador Ivan Mora Godoy said he did not see the incident but had heard "there was a provocation" by Calzón against a female Cuban diplomat "and he received the due response from our Cuban delegation."

Seven Latin American countries - Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Peru supported Honduras, the United States and the European Union in voting for the resolution. Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay abstained. Venezuela voted against it.

Russia, China and most African countries also voted against the resolution.

It is known that the UK helped the US to pressure other countries to support the vote.

The Cuban Ambassador, Ivan Mora, said the United States had used the "most incredible pressure tactics" against small nations to force a vote against Cuba.

He said that Honduras had presented the resolution under heavy pressure from the United States and it was "a fresh episode in a farce which the United States government has been imposing on the commission for a decade now."

Not content with a virtual siege of some nations? delegations in Geneva, threatening loss of economic aid or application of sanctions, White House envoys in selected countries were also pressuring their political leaders, he said.

US President George W. Bush had also been on the telephone, using strong-arm tactics of bribery and threat to obtain votes for its anti-Cuban resolution.

"We are outraged at the shameful role of the Honduran government," senior Cuban foreign ministry official Juan Antonio Fernandez told the commission.

The motion calls on Cuba to guarantee "freedom of expression and religion and to begin a dialogue with Cuban political groups and thinkers in order to develop democratic institutions and civil liberties."

It urges the island to accept a visit from a special UN investigator.

The Cuban government has refused to allow the investigator, French magistrate Christine Chanet, who was appointed last year, to travel to the island.

Cuba accused the commission of double standards and said that instead of criticizing Havana it should be condemning Washington for running a "concentration" camp at the Guantanamo naval base on Cuban territory, where hundreds of suspected al Qaeda and Taliban fighters are being held.



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