USA, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Human Rights

By Fernando Ravsberg

HAVANA TIMES – In Saudi Arabia, 14 men accused of participating in protests face imminent execution. One of them, Munir al-Adam, is partially deaf and partly blind, while another, Mujtaba’a al-Sweikat, was barely 17 when he was sentenced to death five years ago.

In 2012, al-Sweikat was arrested at the Saudi Arabian airport on his way to Western Michigan University, where he was later admitted. He is now facing execution presumably for attending a pro-democracy rally in 2012. Following a visit by US President Donald Trump this year, a Saudi criminal court upheld several death sentences that had been handed down against demonstrators.

It is a true paradox that after visiting Saudi Arabia, the President of the United States breaks off agreements with Cuba (made under the Obama administration), citing violations of human rights. Donald Trump made no mention of Human Rights in his contacts with the Saudi monarchy and sold them US $100 billion in armaments.

Very little seems to have changed in Washington over the last 100 years. The postulate of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt is still valid. He proclaimed that Nicaragua’s “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch.” Based on this “principle”, he was granted all military support and even received an honorary degree from an American university.

The international community will not be able to establish an effective policy for the defense of human rights as long as it remains influenced by the political and economic interests of one country or another. While for the main world powers there are both good and bad violators of human rights, who fight for democracy, no one will take them seriously.
[Editor’s Note: In an interesting additional twist to this issue, in recent years Saudi Arabia and Cuba have reached several economic agreements. Neither of the two countries seemed concerned about human rights issues in their meetings.  Cuba and Saudi Arabia sign important economic agreement].

33 thoughts on “USA, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Human Rights

  • …again with the personal attacks?

  • So Nick, you see no relationship between the Saudis funding a mosque and their pursuit of their interpretation of Islam? I do not support the Saudis or the Castros in their denial of human rights or their forms of dictatorship. Although some endeavor to hold the US responsible for Saudi Arabia denying human rights, they don’t pretend that the US is responsible for the denial of human rights in Cuba? Dual morality or schizophrenia?

  • In case you hadn’t noticed, I just did. You’re obviously completely oblivious as well. And not name-calling… just telling you like it is. But I realize that means nothing to a man like you who is without a conscience.

  • But enough about me. Can you make a cogent counterargument against what I have written? Or is your tactic simply name-calling?

  • No, your conscience and your integrity are both overly simplistic for even suggesting such a load of hypocritical BS. Really, Moses, sometimes I wonder how you can keep a straight face when repeatedly blubbering such rubbish while also believing that your delusional double-standard of an explanation is somehow at all credible, understandable, and/or acceptable. If anything, your credibility as an intelligent and responsible human being continues to take a self-inflicted direct hit each time. That’s more the reality that you’re “resigned to”. You’re merely a puppet of your own hypocritical government, and too blind and unconscionable to even recognize it.

  • The US is guilty of both a double standard in how it deals with SA and Cuba; and of supreme hypocrisy in criticizing only selective countries for human rights abuses, turning a blind eye on other countries HR abuse, and perpetrating human rights abuses to its own citizens: selective prosecutions, convictions and incarcerations, along with its outrageous treatment of citizens (especially persons of color) by its “law enforcement” personnel. It would do well to clean up its own sh$* before preaching to others- or just give up its claim to superiority in these issues.
    And Moses, you support selectively addressing countries’ HR abuses differently? “Ignoring” or “allowing” horrid treatment of SA citizens but condemning other countries you wish to be punished? For what, profit motives? It’s no wonder you wish to see the US take back control of Cuba.
    Nick, you are correct in that the “human rights” policy of the US actually has absolutely nothing to do with human rights. It’s solely politics and profit- true capitalism.

  • Upon being informed that there were more Muslims in the ‘British Empire’ than Christians, Winston Churchill (celebrated and maligned in equal proportions and in both cases for very good reasons – just like fellow cigar aficionado Fidel Castro) agreed that London should follow other parts of The UK by building a mosque. A proportion of the funding came from the Saudis.
    I have no problem with the Saudis funding mosques.
    But there is most definitely an issue with them furthering an ultra conservative interpretatation of the Islamic faith.
    There are currently enough followers of this faith in Cuba to warrant a Place of Worship. So let em get on with it.
    I do not personally pursue any supernatural explanation for this life regardless of any brand or denomination, but that’s just me.
    But getting back to US double standards:
    US presidents use ‘human rights’ as a pretext with which to continue out of date policies toward Cuba in order to win FLA electoral college votes.
    The USA (like the UK) ignore massive human rights violations in Saudi Arabia in order to make boat loads of money by selling weapons to them.
    Surely you get this?

  • You have repeatedly made strong criticism of Saudi Arabia Nick. But when it comes to funding a mosque – which no doubt will be Wahabi, you find their
    money acceptable. You obviously approve the growing relationship between the Castro regime and Saudi Arabia, I don’t. There will in my opinion be a quid pro quo. You probably don’t recall the Saudi funding of the mosque in Regent’s Park complete with dome sheathed in gold. There is a quid pro quo – the UK supplies arms! I have no objection to any religion constructing places of worship. But I also believe in separation of church and state.

  • Thank you for sharing these impeccable credentials.
    I have had the great good fortune to have spent a deal of time in Canada and regard it as a wonderful and fascinating place. Alas I have never been to Edmonton, Alberta. Maybe one day.
    Back to Cuba, I must admit to being slightly confused.
    A couple of days ago you were referring to the previous repression of religion in Cuba. Now you appear to have an issue with the construction of a new place of worship there.
    Perhaps you need to make your mind up Mr MacD?

  • I think you need to try and keep up Mr MacD.
    Perhaps you could start by reading the article again. Maybe even a couple of times.
    I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that there have never been any issues regarding human rights in Cuba.
    The article and debate are concerned with the USA’s relative policies toward Cuba and Saudi Arabia and the fact that ‘human rights’ concerns are simply a pretext for US policy toward Cuba.
    Let me try and break it down for you:

    Cuba – historical human rights problem – certain current human rights issues – US embargo.

    Saudi Arabia – massive current human rights issues – slaughter and starvation in Yemen – funding of global terrorism – US President visits – kisses butt – does weird sword dance not in synch to music – boost to US weaponry sales to Saudis.

  • Come on Moses… really out yo “.lunch” …..AGAIN

  • HUMAN RIGHTS…..are …HUMAN RIGHTS……by OUR standards are the SAME everywhere……what a “lame” response from you……It’s NOT just
    Picking and choosing……..

  • I did not misunderstand the article, but obviously unlike yourself Nick, I read the Editor’s comment. Note my comment of two days ago (below).

  • My point which is valid Steady Eddie, is that both Saudi Arabia and Cuba are guilty of denying human rights for their citizens. There is a difference of degree, but both are guilty.
    Time does not excuse actions!
    There are those here who endeavour to excuse the Castro regime of Cuba for its repression of its citizens and its dictatorship. They try to justify their views by comparing Cuba with those countries that are even worse!
    For example, Cuba currently holds 11th place in countries which practice media censorship. So there are ten – which I could list – that are even worse. Does that excuse Cuba? Havana Times is about CUBA.

  • Carlyle,

    To clarify, I am not on here as an apologist for the Cuban regime. I follow to try to form a balanced view of Cuba which I have only visited once myself. I don’t understand the relevance of some act the dead leader of Cuba did half a century ago to the article under discussion.

    Trying to look objectively, Saudi is much more of a threat to the world in general than Cuba – on a different scale which I think is the point the article is making. Saudi gave us the 9/11 bombers, treats its women appalling and is busy killing civilians in Yemen right now (

  • And Steady Eddie, it was Fidel Castro who urged a first nuclear strike upon the USA.

  • Well for your interest Nick, the oldest mosque in Canada is in Edmonton, Alberta. The first Muslim appointed as a Minister of the Crown in Canada was in Alberta. As Director at Large of the City’s multicultural society, I have worked with the Muslim – particularly Somali community – I even spoke to one of them today. Because I spend most of my time at home in Cuba, my time of involvement in Canada is however small, but I still have contact with the widow of that first Muslim Minister.
    If you were paying attention, you will recall Havana Times reporting that Raul Castro was giving Saudi Arabia permission to build a mosque in a prominent position in Havana. Raul likes the money!
    Raul Castro has been cosying up to the Saudi’s – or maybe you didn’t notice. I deplore both Saudi Arabia and Cuba for their denial of human rights for their citizens, I realise that folks like you like to point out that it is a matter of different levels of denial, but that is little excuse.

  • I think perhaps you misunderstand the article and misunderstand Fernandino’s comment??
    You keep mentioning a mosque.
    Do you not like mosques?

  • I think you perhaps misunderstand the article?
    The article is about US double standards regarding their stance on human rights in Saudi/Cuba and their respective foreign policies.
    Is that not what the article is about and is that not what people are commenting on?

  • I think you are largely kidding yourself.
    The USA is not alone in using ‘human rights’ as a pretext for foreign policy as and when it is deemed suitable or convenient to do so.
    Once again it needs to be pointed out that the USA’s policy regarding Cuba has little to do with ‘human rights’ and everything to do with the fact that Florida is such a key swing state.
    It is most unusual for a candidate to get to the White House without those FLA Electoral College votes.

  • There are ‘cultural’ differences between Saudi Arabia and Cuba.
    But you are most correct to point out that there is no comparison between ‘human rights violations’ in the two countries.

  • But the Castro regime seeks to allow Saudi Arabia to build a mosque in Havana and seeks trading relationship? Is that not a dual morality Fernandino?

  • Below are a series of attacks upon the morality of US and UK relations with Saudi Arabia.
    But this is Havana Times, so why are there no attacks upon the morality of the Castro regimes relations with Saudi Arabia?

  • I tend to agree with you curt9954, the morality of Castro and Trump with regard to Saudi Arabia is about equal. But in the case of Castro, he is in any case in violation of Human Rights in his own country, denying his own citizens those rights. He certainly isn’t maintaining the higher standards you mention.

  • Even when Cuba had and maybe still have (not living in there for more than 16 years) many violations in H.R’s I believe comparing the Saudis with the Cubans have no comparison. The Saudis violate almost every H.R’s at least by Western standards. Now they arrest and they will prosecute a lady just for wear a skirt in public; and that never happened in Cuba, not even during the :dark decades” as I call the 60’s and the 70’s and the first half of the 80’s.

  • Steady Eddie,
    You are absolutely right to point this out.
    The Saudis are an export destination for UK arms exports.
    The scandal from a UK point of view is not limited to the Saudi human rights record
    There was a recent UK Government report into direct Saudi funding of UK homegrown Islamist terrorist cells and direct Saudi funding of wahabi-ist indoctrination-schooling of British youngsters.
    Seemingly due to Saudi Arabia being such a big purchaser of British weaponry this report remains unpublished. It has been repressed by the current Government which is causing a fearful backlash from angry opposition and public. Particularly in the light of recent terrorist atrocities in the UK.
    With specific reference to Cuba:
    British policy regarding Cuba focuses on normal relations and there has been a consistent British vote in the UN against US sanctions/embargo.
    A key difference here is that there is obviously no influence of any Florida-style right wing anti-Cuban Government vote in UK elections. (Thankfully so as the UK probably has enough malign electoral influences of it’s own!)
    You are 100% correct to point out that the British Government is infected by ‘double standards’ regarding Saudi Arabia for economic/arms sales reasons.
    100% correct.

  • The “standard” is the same. The manner and intensity of our reaction to HR abuses is the difference. What we are willing to allow (but not ignore) over a longer time period in Saudi Arabia is likely to provoke a reaction in Cuba.

  • The reverberations of Castro tyranny in Cuba are directly felt by Cuban-Americans. Regardless of the administration in power in Washington at the time, the politics of Human rights abuses in Cuba are far closer to home than the what takes place in Saudi Arabia. That’s the reality that I am “resigned to”.

  • We see the same hypocrisy from the UK government, completely ignore the human rights abuses by the Saudi regime so they can sell them weapons to commit more abuses. This is the country that gave us 15 of the 9/11 bombers.

  • You suggest that ‘(Fernando) Ravsberg’s straight comparison is overly simplistic’.
    Perhaps what we are really talking about is that the reality is even more simplistic still?
    Does the US policy on ‘Human Rights’ have nothing to do with human rights?
    Is it really all about who got da dollar?
    Is the US policy regarding human rights to be bought, sold and traded with it’s value open to being upped and downed according to the fluctuations of the market just the same as a gallon of crude?
    In 2017 is the US policy on human rights merely a commodity like any other?
    It would seem from your brief comment Mr P, that you are resigned to this??
    As a natural optimist I would hope for a better and less cynical reality.

  • I think that Circles Robinson has put his finger on the proverbial nail. Both Saudi Arabia and Cuba are in disregard of human rights. Cuba wants the money and will accept the construction of a mosque – no doubt in a prominent position in Havana as a quid pro quo with Saudi Arabia.

  • How is it different? We shouldn’t hold a higher standard for certain countries over others.

  • US foreign policy is not nor should it be “one size fits all”. How we relate to Saudí Arabia and how we relate to Cuba is understandably different. Ravsberg’s straight comparison is overly simplistic.

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