Friday, June 16, 2017

President Trumps Cuba Speech and New Policy Video

As the Miami Herald editorial board lays out this morning, the Obama administration failed to make a deal with the Castro regime that would actually improve human rights for the Cuban people.

LISTEN TO Speech
Miami Herald: “…the United States has made most of the concessions, while Cuban president Raúl Castro given very little, especially in the realm of human rights, in return.” In the two and a half years since the Obama administration announced the thaw, which we applauded — and still do — the United States has made most of the concessions, while Cuban president Raúl Castro given very little, especially in the realm of human rights, in return. … As reported by El Nuevo Herald’s Nora Gámez Torres this week, “Cuban dissidents of various political stripes agree that the United States must make changes to apply pressure to the Raúl Castro regime.” They are the ones on the front lines, being censored, imprisoned, harassed, beaten. It’s only right that their words resound the loudest in formulating our country’s revised policy. (The Miami Herald, 6/16/17)
According to the executive director of Human Rights Watch, President Obama’s eagerness to tout his accomplishments resulted in two major mistakes on human rights.
· President Obama was so “eager to celebrate his accomplishments” that he “did little to press Raúl Castro’s government to show concrete results.” While in Cuba, Obama addressed the need for progress on human rights but, eager to celebrate his accomplishments, did little to press Raúl Castro’s government to show concrete results. (Human Rights Watch, 1/9/17)
· President Obama failed to generate international pressure on Cuba to make real progress on human rights. Nor did the administration work with other governments to generate multilateral pressure for reform. (Human Rights Watch, 1/9/17)
Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2017 details how human rights abuses have grown worse since President Obama’s policies took effect.
In recent years, the Cuban government has been making more and more “arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, independent journalists, and others.” The Cuban government continues to repress dissent and punish public criticism. It now relies less than in past years on long-term prison sentences to punish its critics, but short-term arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, independent journalists, and others have increased dramatically in recent years. Other repressive tactics employed by the government include beatings, public shaming, and termination of employment. (Human Rights Watch, World Report 2017)
From January through August 2016, the government made more arbitrary detentions than it had in the past six years. The government continues to rely on arbitrary detention to harass and intimidate critics, independent activists, political opponents, and others. The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, an independent human rights group that lacks official authorization and is therefore considered illegal by the government, received more than 7,900 reports of arbitrary detentions from January through August 2016. This represents the highest monthly average of detentions in the past six years. (Human Rights Watch, World Report 2017)
· Dozens of political prisoners remain behind bars, and human rights groups believe the Castro regime is hiding even more. Despite the release of the 53 political prisoners in conjunction with the agreement to normalize relations with the US, dozens more remain in Cuban prisons, according to local human rights groups. The government denies access to its prisons by independent human rights groups, which believe that additional political prisoners, whose cases they cannot document, remain locked up. (Human Rights Watch, World Report 2017)
Despite the Castro regime’s changes to travel restrictions in 2013, authorities still prevent people who express dissent from leaving the country. Nonetheless, the reforms gave the government broad discretionary powers to restrict the right to travel on the grounds of “defense and national security” or “other reasons of public interest.” Such measures have allowed authorities to deny exit to people who express dissent. (Human Rights Watch, World Report 2017)
“The Cuban government still refuses to recognize human rights monitoring as a legitimate activity and denies legal status to local human rights groups.” Government authorities harass, assault, and imprison human rights defenders who attempt to document abuses. In September, police raided Cubalex, a six-year-old organization that investigates human rights violations and provides free legal services to free-expression activists, migrants, and human-rights defenders. Officers confiscated files, strip-searched four men and a woman, and arrested two attorneys, one of whom was still in detention at time of writing. (Human Rights Watch, World Report 2017)

The Cuban government still opposes UN resolutions aimed at scrutinizing human rights abuses in places like North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Ukraine. As a member of the UN Human Rights Council from 2006 to 2012 and from 2014 to the present, Cuba has regularly voted to prevent scrutiny of serious human rights abuses around the world—opposing resolutions spotlighting abuses in North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Ukraine. (Human Rights Watch, World Report 2017)

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