HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban government presented today in Havana its report on the human rights situation on the island, which will be submitted to the May 1st Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council.
The report of over 120 pages and presented in three languages, does not address the issue of political prisoners on the island. Raul Castro’s government officially denies the existence of political prisoners.
Cuban officials insisted on the need for a “respectful dialogue” and criticized the “double standards” and the “politicization” of the subject of human rights in relation to Cuba. Havana also called the US embargo as the main obstacle for the defense of human rights on the island.
Ruled by a single party regime for more than half a century, the Cuban government is criticized internationally for the persecution of political dissent.
In his country’s defense, Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno said that Cuba is a “society where there are broad freedoms.” Moreno will be presenting the report at the Geneva meeting.
“The Cuban Revolution was made for the protection and defense of human rights,” he added. Havana defends the social and cultural rights it has guaranteed its citizens for decades.
Moreno also said that his government supports the “clash of ideas” but rejected “divergent views” to “promote subversion.”
For many years the Cuban government has accused dissidents of being “mercenaries” financed from abroad to destabilize the country.
In Brussels, meanwhile, the opposition group Ladies in White today received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament awarded them eight years ago.
The activists opposed to the Castro regime were able to travel under the government’s immigration reform that took effect and eliminated the exit permit needed for decades for Cubans to travel abroad.
The Ladies in White are a group of wives of former political prisoners and was founded in 2003 following a wave of 75 arrests dubbed as the “Black Spring”. They received the Sakharov Prize in 2005 for their peaceful protests to demand the release of the political prisoners, who were eventually released in 2010 through mediation of the Catholic Church and the government of Spain.