14ymedio, Madrid, 10 October 2023 — Despite the numerous complaints against its candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council, Cuba obtained 146 votes in its favor on Tuesday. The Island, systematically accused of violating basic rights and freedoms, and with 784 political prisoners, will be part of the Council from 2024 to 2026.
The Cuban Foreign Ministry celebrated that the country “had the most votes,” which it attributed to the “indisputable” recognition that the international community gives to the regime. It is the sixth time that Havana has received the necessary ballots to occupy a position on the Council, to which Brazil and the Dominican Republic were also elected.
Other countries with a documented record of human rights violations also won a seat. This is the case of China – the most controversial candidate along with Russia – which won 154 votes.
The 47 member states, “responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights around the world” elected their board, which includes France, Japan, the Netherlands and the Ivory Coast.
As the vote was secret, it is unknown whether Putin’s allies, such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela or Belarus, supported Cuba’s candidacy
Peru was left out, overwhelmed by political instability since the attempted coup d’état perpetrated by former President Pedro Castillo in 2022, as was Russia, expelled from the Council since that same year, after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. However, Moscow managed to get 83 countries to endorse its request, which required 97 votes.
Since the vote was secret, it is unknown whether Putin’s allies, such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela or Belarus, supported the candidacy. In the case of Peru, which obtained 108 votes – more than necessary – it was surpassed by the other applicants in the region.
Several institutions and personalities had criticized Cuba’s candidacy to the Council’s board of directors. The Demo Amlat platform lamented Cuba’s entry into the Council and pointed out that “the Cuban regime criminalizes dissent and systematically persecutes human rights defenders.”
Hours before the results were known, activist Carolina Barrero had pointed out that “if Cuba is re-elected in the Human Rights Council, it will be with the support of complicit states… Cubans, human rights organizations and activists condemn the re-election of a bloody dictatorship that has plunged our country into misery and oppression,” she added.
“In a slap in the face to the democratic aspirations of the Cuban people, the longest-running dictatorship in the hemisphere has been re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council right in the midst of an escalation of violence against its citizens. A real shame,” stressed fellow activist Magdiel Jorge Castro.
Hours before the results were known, activist Carolina Barrero had pointed out that “if Cuba is re-elected to the Human Rights Council it will be with the support of complicit states
For his part, the exile Félix Llerena had said days ago that “the perpetrators (of violations of rights) cannot be the guarantors of compliance with international law.”
The Human Rights Watch organization reminded the international community of Havana’s treatment of its dissidents and the “thousands of political prisoners,” prosecuted for demonstrating peacefully, and asked them to vote against Cuba.
With a view to the vote, the Government and the Chancellery of the Island had undertaken an international campaign aimed at promoting Cuba as a state that defends rights. In the main lobby of the UN headquarters in New York, an exhibition entitled “Cuba, a sustained commitment to all human rights for all,” by Cuban visual artist Yosvany Martínez, was curated.
“The Cuban people own their own destiny, exercise full power and control over the life of the country, and actively participate as the main actor in an effective system of socialist democracy and social justice that they support and endorse,” said the presentation brochure of the exhibition, signed by the Deputy Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba and Permanent Representative to the UN, Gerardo Peñalver Portal.
Among posters alluding to the “benevolent” Cuban Criminal Code – which intensified the sentences of the protesters in the protests of July 11, 2021 – the exhibition invited the UN to “feel pride” in Cuba’s role in the defense of human rights.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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