Re: on Cuba

From: Bill Cochrane (billc@WAIKATO.AC.NZ)
Date: Wed May 21 2003 - 18:52:57 EDT

A point on the discussion on Cuba:
Maybe some body has suggested this before but in terms of the relative
human rights situation in Cuba might I suggest comparing the Amnesty
International country report for Cuba with some of its surrounding
countries. Taking Mexico for instance the 2002 report summary states
"A leading human rights defender was murdered and many others received
death threats. New legislation on indigenous rights failed to resolve
the conflict in Chiapas. Arbitrary detention and torture remained
widespread. There were reports of ''disappearances' and extrajudicial
executions. Impunity for such crimes remained the norm. Pressure
increased for full and effective investigations of past human rights
violations. More military personnel were assigned posts in the Attorney
General's Office. Intense international and national pressure led to the
release of two prisoners of conscience, but their convictions were not
overturned nor their torturers brought to justice. Another prisoner of
conscience remained in prison. At the end of the year the Senate
approved the ratification of a number of international human rights
treaties. Ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal
Court remained pending."
Or Jamaica
" Reports of police brutality and excessive use of force continued. At
least 148 people were killed by the police, many in disputed
circumstances. Detention without charge or trial and ill-treatment were
reported. Conditions of detention frequently amounted to cruel and
inhuman treatment. At least 50 people were on death row at the end of
the year. Twenty-seven people, including two soldiers, were killed in
disturbances in Kingston in July."
While for Cuba 
"A number of prisoners of conscience were released in 2001, but several
new arrests indicated that the Cuban authorities had not renounced curbs
on the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, association and
assembly. Short-term detention and other forms of harassment continued
to be used to repress the activities of journalists, political activists
and others. An unofficial moratorium on executions was said to be in
force. No executions were reported during 2001, although the courts
continued to hand down death sentences. The four-decades-old embargo
against Cuba by the USA continued to contribute to a climate in which
fundamental rights were denied. However, for the first time the USA sold
agricultural commodities to Cuba in the wake of a hurricane in November.
Both countries denied that this signified a change in overall relations.
In November, UN General Assembly members voted overwhelmingly to condemn
the embargo, for the 10th consecutive year."
Though any abuse of human rights is reprehensible I would suggest that
when looking at the human rights record of neighbouring Central American
countries I feel I'd probably stand a better chance of survival, as a
habitual dissenter, at the hands of the Cuban authorities than the
Mexican in Chiapas.
Bill Cochrane

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