Drought-struck Cuba feeling relief

Campaign News | Friday, 12 May 2006

Heavy rains repenish reservoirs

Santiago de Cuba, May 24 (ACN) The intense drought that hit the eastern part of the island has diminished in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, where five of its municipalities have recovered their reservoir levels; they are currently at 97 percent capacity.

<its first meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on June 19.


Cuba's election to Human Rights Council makes impact

Havana, 11 May (Prensa Latina): Cuba’s election by the UN General Assembly to the new UN Human Rights Council has had an extraordinary positive international effect, Cuban foreign diplomatic officials reported.

During a Cuban TV broadcast Wednesday, ambassadors of the Cuban mission to the UN in New York and Geneva, Rodrigo Malmierca and Juan Antonio Fernandez, respectively, emphasized the support received at the Cuban diplomatic victory.

Both ambassadors expressed satisfaction for the examples of encouragement and gratitude shown to Cuba by the international community, which defeated US manipulations to impede it take a seat in that important UN body.

That was a “Bay of Pigs” victory of Cuban foreign policy (referring to the defeated 1961 invasion of the Island), the official stated, which has prompted continuous calls from representatives of friendly African, Asian, Latin American, and even some western countries that recognize the importance of this triumph.

From Geneva, Fernandez emphasized that Cuba won in the secret and free UN balloting, for its struggle and resistance, its over 15-year labor at the former Human Rights Commission and its firm dissent against the imperial order Washington is trying to impose.

Cuba, stated the diplomat, will continue defending real principles that should concern this international organization building toward the aspiration of a different and better world, where human rights are respected, above all those of excluded Third World people.


Cuba elected to new UN Rights Council

Island receives 135 votes - more than two thirds

UNITED NATIONS May 9 (PL)- By 135 votes Cuba was today elected onto the new UN Human Rights Council, in the first round of voting by the General Assembly.

The Caribbean nation is to occupy one of the eight seats reserved for the Latin American and Caribbean group, together with Brazil (165), Argentina (158), Mexico (154), Peru (145), Guatemala (142), Uruguay (141) and Ecuador (128).

44 new members elected to new Human Rights Council


UNITED NATIONS, May 9 (PL).- The United Nations General Assembly today elected 44 of the 47 members of its new Human Rights Council, with participation by 191 member states and without a single ballot annulled.

The mass participation in this process, which virtually ends months of heated debate, was identified by the Assembly’s president, Swiss foreign minister Jan Eliasson, as a reflection of everyone’s interest in this relevant issue.

In this first round, all groups were completely elected, with the exception of Eastern Europe, which elected three of its six seats: Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic.

For Latin America, those elected were Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

Cuba, with 135 votes, won with a majority of more than two-thirds of votes cast, in spite of insistent campaigns by the United States and its European allies to prevent that country’s entry into the HRC, Cuban Ambassador Rodrigo Malmierca told Prensa Latina.

The African region, with 13 seats, is made up of Ghana, Zambia, Senegal, South Africa, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Gabon, Djibouti, Cameroon, Tunis, Nigeria and Algeria.

The Asians, also with 13 slots, will be represented by India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea, China, Jordan, the Philippines, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka.

Finally, for the Western European and other states, those elected were Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Canada and Switzerland.

In the case of the Eastern European group, for which 13 countries aspired to six seats, another round will be held to determine who occupies the remaining three seats.

Those who wish to do so include Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Slovenia, the Ukraine, Romania and Hungary.

In order to be part of the Human Rights Council, aspiring countries must receive at least 96 votes.


New York 9 May - Cuba, China and Russia were voted onto the United Nations' new Human Rights Council, and Iran and Venezuela were rejected, in elections by secret ballot.

The Human Rights Council replaces the discredited Commission on Human Rights that "cast a shadow on the reputation" of the UN, according to Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Creation of the council is part of an effort to improve UN management and overhaul the world body, steps that were endorsed by world leaders at a summit in New York last year.

Election required 96 votes in the General Assembly, consisting of all 191 UN member governments, and was based on a geographic distribution. Africa and Asia each got 13 seats; Latin America and the Caribbean, eight; the U.S. and Western Europe, seven, and Eastern Europe, six.

There was no immediate explanation of why Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest oil-exporting country, was rejected in the balloting. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been outspoken in his opposition to U.S. policies under George W. Bush, and he moved this week to boost taxes on foreign oil producers.

The US didn't seek a seat after pressing for the panel's creation and then voting in March against the final version of the General Assembly resolution that established membership criteria.

"The U.S. would have had trouble getting elected because it has chosen to use cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners and at times torture," Kenneth Roth, executive director of New York-based Human Rights Watch said, referring to the handling of some detainees in Iraq. Still, he called the U.S. decision not to seek a seat 'childish.'"

The US sought to elect governments by a two-thirds vote and wanted about 30 members on a human rights panel that would promote democracy and exclude proven abusers of their citizens.

The U.S. had been a member of the old commission since the body's formation in 1946, except for one year, 2002. European nations didn't support the US that year because of the Bush administration's opposition to establishment of the International Criminal Court.

The council's first session is set to begin on June 19 in Geneva and last two weeks. Craig Mokhiber, a senior aide to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the council would probably meet for eight more weeks this year.

Other nations elected include Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa and South Korea.


New UN Human Rights Council elected today

United Nations, 9 May (Prensa Latina) The UN General Assembly will select 47 new members of the new Human Rights Council, from among more than 60 candidates, to begin meeting in Geneva next month.

Over the opposition of the United States, this mechanism was approved in March and the old Human Rights Commission closed, suffering a credibility crisis due to its selective and political manipulation by the powerful nation against those in development.

Cuba, one of the candidates for the new Council, argues that it has fought to create this new mechanism and to see that “the pernicious practices of the Commission” do not become part ot the new Council.

The seats on the Human Rights Council are to be distributed geographically, 13 to Africa, 13 to Asia, 6 for Eastern Europe, and 8 for Latin America and the Caribbean. Seven seats will be divided between the 25 members of the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The US is not up for consideration today as it has to respond to a human rights panel on accusations of torture in its war against terrorism.

The Latin American and Caribbean candidates (8 seats) are Cuba, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mwxico, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Council members will serve for three years, but only for two consecutive (elected) terms.


Cuba and Human Rights, official statement

Statement from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Cuba has a long and dignified history in the sphere of international cooperation in human rights matters. This history, however, has been suppressed and, what is worse, distorted by the hegemonic superpower’s propaganda machine.

Through concrete actions, Cuba has always demonstrated an unequivocal willingness to engage in frank and open dialogue on the basis of mutual respect on all topics, including that of human rights.

In spite of our principled opposition to the selective, discriminatory and unfair treatment the United States advocates against Cuba in matters concerning human rights, Cuba has continued with its traditional cooperation with any mechanisms in this area that are applied in a universal and non-discriminatory way.

As an example of this; in 1988, at the invitation of the Cuban government, a mission headed by the president of the Commission on Human Rights and made up of five other members of that organisation came to Cuba in order to observe the human rights situation in our country and to report back to the Commission. This offer was included in the decision 1988/106, adopted by the Commission on Human Rights.

The visit took place from 16 to 25 September of that same year and the Cuban government provided it with every amenity and guarantee to undertake both the preparatory work and the actual work in our country. The mission’s report acknowledged the positive attitude and good will shown by Cuban authorities and clearly stated that there did not exist a human rights situation in Cuba which would in any way justify a special follow-up process.

The following year (1989) and because of Commission decision 1989/113, Cuba clearly expressed its willingness to continue cooperating with the United Nations Secretary General in following up on the recommendations included in the mission’s report. This process was interrupted, however, by the United States’ decision to manipulate it for the purpose of anti-Cuban propaganda by forcing an unfair resolution condemning Cuba through the Commission.

The US’ unjust confrontational manoeuvre against and unfounded condemnation of Cuba met with an honourable and principled response from the Cuban people. Cuba does not yield to pressure, coercion or blackmail. It will never recognize nor cooperate with an anti-Cuban manoeuvre like the one led by the United States in the CHR - clearly illegitimate, illegal and unjust in its conception, motivations and methods.

This non-negotiable determination notwithstanding, Cuba continued to cooperate with the Commission on Human Rights and other human rights bodies of the United Nations system, availing itself of the broad range of opportunities offered by the numerous mechanisms, bodies and organizations which are non-selective and adhere to a universal standard in their work.

The invitation extended to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Cuba in 1994 was another step taken by Cuba to foster international cooperation in the sphere of human rights.

Cuba was one of the first countries to receive a High Commissioner, Mr. José Ayala Lasso, in 1994, only a few months after this position was created in the UN structure.

As part of the extensive program prepared for his visit, the High Commissioner met with various government representatives and other actors and visited numerous centres of interest, where he was able to speak freely with many Cubans. At the end of his tour through Cuba, the then High Commissioner emphasized the receptiveness of the Cuban government and its willingness to follow the main suggestions made during his visit.

In 1995, the Cuban government invited a delegation of international non-governmental organizations to visit our country. This visit took place from 28 April to 5 May that year. The mission was made up of the organizations France Libertés, the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, World Doctors and Human Rights Watch.

While carrying out their work in Cuba, the representatives of these organizations were given all possible support by the Cuban authorities and managed to meet all the goals they had set themselves including visits to several jails and meetings with prisoners in whom they were interested.

In 1998, when the anti-Cuban draft resolution wanted by the United States was defeated, Cuba extended invitations to the Commission’s special rapporteurs on the use of mercenaries and violence against women to visit the country, visits which took place in 1999.

In addition to welcoming missions to the country, Cuba has cooperated intensively with UN human rights mechanisms in other ways and methods. One way Cuban authorities have been unfailingly cooperating in this sphere at the international level has been by systematically providing information to universal and non-discriminatory CHR mechanisms and to organisations created by virtue of international human rights treaties.

In keeping with its historical commitment to cooperate with and be an active member of the Commission, the Cuban government has responded to requests for information about alleged violations of human rights which have been sent to it through the different procedures and mechanisms of the Commission and the mechanism set in place by Social, Economic and Social Council’s resolution 1503.

In 2004, after consulting with the competent authorities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent information regarding twelve alleged cases of human rights violations to the Commission’s special rapporteurs on freedom of opinion and expression, torture and health and to the special representative of human rights defenders.

Cuba has conveyed the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights its points of view and feedback and has responded to a significant number of information requests arising from thematic resolutions adopted by the Commission on Human Rights.

Cuba has honoured its commitment, as few countries have done, to submit regular reports to organizations established by virtue of international human rights treaties. Recently, Cuba submitted both its fifth and sixth regular reports to the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Within the next twelve months, it will also submit its reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Committee against Torture (CAT).

Our country has ratified a significant number of international instruments relating to human rights. Cuba is State party to 15 of the 26 treaties considered to be the most important in this area, namely:

? Convention On The Rights Of The Child

? Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children and Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

? Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

? Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

? Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

? Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity,

? International Convention on The Supression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid

? Convention on the Political Rights of Women

? 1926 Slavery Convention and the Protocol Amending the Convention on Slavery

? Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and the Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, signed in Geneva on 25 September 1926.

? Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of others.

Cuba has likewise signed the following instruments:

? Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

? Optional Convention to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts.

Cuba has ratified other instruments in the sphere of labour rights related to the tropic of human rights:

? Convention on Freedom of Association and the Protection of the Right to Unionize (N. 87)

? Convention on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (N.98)

? Worker's Representatives Convention (N. 135)

? Labour Relations (Public Service) Convention (N. 151).

? Convention concerning Employment Policy (N. 122).

Cuba reaffirms its commitment to the contents of international covenants on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights which it assumed when the respective texts were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The rights protected by the aforementioned instruments are fully enshrined for each and every Cuban citizen in the Constitution and laws of our country. There are large number of state programs and policies aimed especially at protecting and promoting the aforementioned rights for Cubans.

Nevertheless, Cuba will not take on new international responsibilities in a climate of confrontation and politically-motivated manipulation of international cooperation over human rights matters. Cuba is open to dialogue with all interested countries on a basis of mutual respect and has stuck to its course of bilateral cooperation in this area with those whose approach to dialogue is respectful and serious. In its own region, Latin America, Cuba has had periodic exchanges on various subjects, including human rights related matters.

Another example of Cuba’s willingness to remain open to international cooperation in human rights matters while rejecting pressure and intrusions was the visit of various representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in Havana to different penitentiaries in Cuba during October 2004. During this visit, the diplomats were able to appreciate the characteristics of Cuba’s penitentiary system and how the human rights of all prisoners are protected in practice, without any kind of discrimination.

The visitors conversed with prisoners and security officers and verified, first hand, the quality of the facilities and medical personnel who attend to prisoners and the satisfactory state of health of the latter. They were also able to appreciate the impact had by new educational, sport and cultural programmes aimed at improving the process of re-educating and re-inserting all prisoners into Cuban society.

Cuba will continue to promote the right to food, international solidarity, the establishment of an equitable and democratic international order in which all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can become a reality for all human beings and all nations; the right to development for all nations and individuals; the right of all nations to peace and international cultural cooperation which respects our rich heritage of diversity.

Cuban representatives will continue to raise the question of the impact of the foreign debt on Third World countries’ enjoyment of human rights; will oppose the use of mercenaries as a means to constrain nations from exercising their right to self-determination and oppose the application of unilateral coercive measures.

Cuba will support initiatives aimed at protecting all human rights in accordance with principles of universality, indivisibility and interdependence. Furthermore, Cuba will defend the efforts of developing countries to promote the broad spectrum of economic, social and cultural rights.

Cuba will continue to hold an eminent position because of the number and quality of its contributions to the High Commissioner’s requests for information and will continue to reply in a systematic way to communications sent through the Commission’s mechanisms.

The Cuban government will never tolerate any attempt to single it out unfairly or to trample its people’s right to self-determination; neither will it tolerate that the sovereign equality of the Cuban state, established by the will of the Cuban people, be ignored, in flagrant violation of international law.

To sum up, the Cuban government will remain true to its commitment to multilateralism in international relations, particularly in the field of human rights and this implies resolutely confronting any maneuver aimed at manipulation in order to attain hegemonic domination of the international system.

At the same time, Cuba will continue to be true to the teachings of its national hero, José Martí, who proclaimed that the “first law of the Republic must be the reverence paid to man’s full dignity”.

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