14ymedio, Havana, 18 June 2020 — The Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) believes that the chapter dedicated to Cuba in the Annual Report on Human Rights of the European Union (EU), released this week, is a step forward in the European approach to the situation on the island.
In a statement released Thursday, the OCDH highlights that the EU text emphasizes that in 2019, in Cuba, “freedom of expression, association and assembly continued to be subject to significant restrictions, with reports of numerous arbitrary arrests, as well as with the imprisonment of several prisoners of conscience designated by Amnesty International, including the prominent dissident leader José Daniel Ferrer.”
The European report, as the Madrid-based organization points out, also comments on the restrictions to travel both within the country and abroad suffered by independent activists and journalists, and on Decree-Law 370, the so-called “scourge law,” because “it could be used to restrict independent media.”
Furthermore, the report denounces that the defenders of voting no or abstaining from the new Constitution “were excluded from the public debate and discredited by the Government.” The new Constitution, which preserves the current one-party socialist system, is also criticized in the report.
The non-ratification by Cuba of the United Nations International Conventions on Civil and Political Rights, and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the concern of UN rapporteurs for the working and living conditions of Cuban doctors sent to missions abroad, are also addressed in the European report.
Another element that the OCDH highlights in the European document is that it does not classify Cuba as “a one-party democracy,” as was stated in the when Federica Mogherini was the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and although it refers to the “broadly positive record in terms of economic and social rights, particularly in health and education,” it acknowledges that currently “universal coverage is being eroded.”
With regards to this, it establishes at least three causes: “financial scarcity, economic inefficiencies, and the impact of the United States embargo.”
“We cannot subscribe to what is stated on that point, with respect to the supposed history, or that the current problem is only a coverage problem,” says Alejandro Rodríguez Raga, executive director of the Observatory. For him, “the causes are deeper, structural and not only temporary, and they have to do with the general failure of a system that has not placed the human being at its center and that is inefficient by nature.” However, he concludes: “We understand that the European document marks a turning point in the vision of social rights in Cuba, having previously found them totally idyllic and aligned with the official Cuban discourse.”
The OCDH presented last week the Second Report on the State of Social Rights in Cuba, whose data reveals that 80% of the Cuban population lives in a situation of serious economic crisis.
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