Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights’

Voices: Cubans impatient to see benefits from thaw with U.S.

| April 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »
USA TODAY

By Alan Gomez

HAVANA – When I last came to Cuba in late December, I detected a sentiment among the island’s people that I had never encountered before: optimism.

President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro had just announced their historic pact to re-establish diplomatic relations between the two countries, and every Cuban I encountered ticked off ways they felt the new opening could foster their economic well-being.

Now, four months later, I’ve run into something else: impatience.

As the two governments slowly work through their respective bureaucracies to enact sweeping changes, the impact on the daily lives of Cubans has so far been non-existent. The only segment of the population that has seen any benefit is the tourism industry, as more American business people, government officials and curious travelers have come to the island in the months since the announcement.

“At first, it was euphoria,” Ricardo Torres Pérez, an economist at the Havana-based Center for Studies ... Read More

Why Is Obama Parroting Castro Talking Points?

| April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
National Review

BY MONA CHARENTwo relatively recent photos of Barack Obama with foreign leaders reveal much about his deep-dyed leftism. The first features President Obama and democratically-elected prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of one of America’s most loyal friends. Obama looks strained. His face is stiff, and his eyes are veiled. The second is a snap of Obama at the recent Summit of the Americas in Panama. He’s seated with “President” Raul Castro, leader of a bitter enemy, who has never received a single free vote. Obama is grinning, his eyes dancing with pleasure.In contrast to the bitterness with which Obama addresses Netanyahu, he is all honey with Castro. “So I want to thank President Castro for the spirit of openness and courtesy that he has shown during our interactions . . . President Castro earlier today spoke about the significant hardships that the people of Cuba have undergone over many decades. I can say with ... Read More

Where Does U.S. Policy Toward Cuba Go From Here?

| April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

With this week’s perfunctory delisting of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, it is clear President Obama can’t give away the store fast enough. The apparently antiquated diplomatic notion that when engaging an adversary you use your leverage to try and exact concessions that get you closer to your objective is evidently not for him. Instead, as the Wall Street Journal put it, “Mr. Obama’s Cuban diplomacy has been one unreciprocated offering after another.”

Even worse than that, the administration now finds itself in the humiliating position where the Castro regime is placing conditions on the United States to upgrade diplomatic relations: i.e., ending the terrorism designation, returning the Guantánamo naval base, ending support for dissidents, and so on.

What we are witnessing is a truly remarkable, perhaps unprecedented, piece of statecraft. Give your adversary everything he wants and then see what happens, historical experience be damned. In his own ... Read More

President Obama’s use of farce on Cuba

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
AEI

President Obama issued a “certification” yesterday under US law that Cuba should no longer be listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. He states, in part, “the Government of Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.” Of course, Cuba has insisted for 30 years that it does not support terrorism, despite reams of evidence to the contrary, i.e. support for Colombian and Basque terror groups in addition to US cop-killers. So, yesterday, the president of the United States essentially certified his own gullibility.

Let’s just say that Obama’s White House is not a stickler for facts or the law. On March 9th, the president issued a detailed, formal declaration that the lawlessness in Venezuela “constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States. Less than a month later, White House advisor Ben Rhodes flatly contradicted the president’s declaration. A State Department official ... Read More

Normalizing Cuba Ties Doesn’t Erase Castro’s Legacy

| April 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
IBD

Leadership: The sight of President Obama glad-handing Cuban dictator Raul Castro showed just how far American diplomacy has sunk. Far from being a Nixon-goes-to-China moment, this was a craven capitulation.

There’s a reason 10 presidents of both parties kept Cuba’s Castros on America’s bad-guys’ list for more than 50 years. Each leader understood a basic truth: Totalitarian Cuba is a sworn enemy of the U.S., a violent threat to the Western Hemisphere’s peace and prosperity and an ally of our worst enemies — including the former USSR.

Hearing an American president now apologize — as Obama did over the weekend at the Summit of the Americas — for past U.S. efforts to protect our homeland and our militarily weak neighbors from Cuba’s aggression is bizarre and disgraceful.

No move to repair ties with the Castro regime should have been made until that country agreed to real, major reforms — including the release of all ... Read More

For U.S., Brazil ‘aligned’ itself with human rights violators at the U.N.

| April 13th, 2015 | 1 Comment »
Estadao Brazil

By Jamil Chade

[Translation by IASW]

The Human Rights Council voted resolutions on various crises around the world and Brazil abstained to vote in cases involving Syria and Iran.

“Brazil has aligned itself with the position taken by some of the biggest human rights violators in the world” by choosing not to support resolutions condemning Syria and Iran. The statement was made by US representative to the UN Human Rights Council, Keith Harper, in an exclusive interview in which he doesn’t hide his frustration over the political choices of the Brazilian government. But he also took the opportunity to insist on areas in which Washington and Brazil can collaborate.

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council voted on resolutions on a number of crises around the world. Brazil abstained to vote on matters dealing with Syria and Iran, prompting criticism from NGOs. Now, with a direct speech and without diplomatic language, the American representative ... Read More

Obama Puts the Heat on Chavistas

| April 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

By Fabio Rafael Fiallo

On March 9, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order that qualifies Venezuela’s regime as a threat to U.S. internal security and foreign policy. The order imposes asset freezes and visa bans against seven high-ranking officials, mostly from the military and the police, for their role in violations of human rights.

Caracas’ reaction was predictable enough. The Venezuelan government and its regional allies (Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua at the forefront) swiftly dismissed the claim that Venezuela could be a threat to the United States and accused Obama of interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs. Never mind that, as emphasized by Chile’s former President Ricardo Lagos, “as regards human rights, there aren’t frontiers, and wherever such rights are violated, someone has to cry foul”. (Lagos was discussing Venezuela when he made the statement.)

Neither have all critics of Chavismo applauded Obama’s move. More than a few contend that the ... Read More

Summiting With Raúl

| April 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

President Obama arrived in Panama on Thursday for the 7th Summit of the Americas, where he will share the limelight and probably some public interaction with Raúl Castro. Mark it down as another legacy moment for the U.S. President, whose predecessors since 1959 have refused to legitimize the Cuban regime. So many dictators, so little time left before Jan. 20, 2017.

The meet-and-greet continues Mr. Obama’s attempt to reconcile with Cuba’s Communist regime, though the Castros are proving to be hard negotiators—like, you know, the Iranians. Mr. Obama has offered an economic lifeline and the promise of diplomatic recognition, while asking nothing in return. Raúl has responded by raising his demands.

Fidel’s little brother now says he won’t move on normalization until Mr. Obama hands over Guantanamo and takes Cuba off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Mr. Obama is waiting for a review of a State Department analysis on the terror list, but he’s ... Read More

Castro’s Trunk Monkeys

| April 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
IBD

Diplomacy: The dawn of U.S.-Cuba rapprochement has come with a dreary reminder of what we’re dealing with — as Cuban agents beat up dissidents at a hemispheric summit in Panama, just as they do back home in Havana.

Just before the grand opening of the Summit of the Americas in Panama this year, hemispheric leaders were treated to an unseemly spectacle:

Cuban agents — including a top intelligence official, according to the Capitol Hill Cubans blog — massed near a peaceful protest of dissident groups, also from Cuba, in Panama City. There, they showed how they treat dissenters back home — hurling objects, screaming “counterrevolutionary,” “mercenary” and “imperialist,” and beating the civil society participants with their fists — all to send a message.

In Havana, it’s what’s known as “an act of repudiation.” Incredibly, they got away with it. Anyplace else, they’d be charged with assault.

Perhaps that’s because this is the summit where Cuba’s ... Read More

Mr. Obama’s opportunity in Panama

| April 8th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post By Editorial Board

PRESIDENT OBAMA’s move to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba in December was supposed to improve political and economic conditions for average Cubans and remove an irritant in U.S. relations with other Latin American nations, which have been pushing to end the isolation of the Castro regime. Four months later — a short time, admittedly — there is no sign of those benefits. According to Cuban human rights groups, political detentions have increased: There were more than 600 in March alone. More than 50 long-term political prisoners are still being held. Several Cuban opposition leaders are banned from leaving the country, which means they cannot attend this week’s Summit of the Americas in Panama.

U.S. and Cuban officials have yet to agree on the terms for reopening embassies. But the Castro regime has nevertheless reaped some substantial gains. Raúl Castro will be welcomed to the Americas summit for the first time; Mr. Obama will shake his ... Read More

Venezuela: The Price of Revolution

| April 8th, 2015 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Nathan Crooks

Venezuela has more oil than Saudi Arabia and more poverty than Brazil. As the world’s only left-wing petrostate, it hopes to light a revolutionary path to prosperity for Latin America’s poor. The country’s an economic and social mess, though, with inflation pushing 70 percent, the world’s highest rate, and a homicide rate second only to Honduras. With the price of oil falling by half in the second half of 2014, the legacy of the late President Hugo Chavez is at risk as his hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, struggles to keep providing cheap oil and other subsidies to buy influence abroad and popular support at home. Citizens wait in long lines to find scarce household items from deodorant to toilet paper. Congressional elections expected later this year will give Maduro’s government its first major electoral test.

The Situation

With oil revenue accounting for 95 percent of the country’s foreign currency earnings and an economy that produces little else, the Caribbean nation of 30 million people found itself with 60 percent less cash ... Read More

Venezuela: Stop Harassing Human Rights Defenders

| April 8th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article appeared in Human Rights Watch

(Panama City) – Venezuela is intimidating and harassing human rights defenders, and making unsubstantiated allegations that they are seeking to undermine Venezuelan democracy, 28 international and Latin American human rights organizations said today. The authorities’ allegations concern the groups’ legitimate functions of documenting abuses and representing victims before international human rights bodies.Venezuelan authorities should cease this tactic immediately, the groups said. Governments participating in the Summit of the Americas in Panama on April 10-11, 2015, should press the administration of Nicolás Maduro to ensure that human rights defenders can do their job without fear of reprisals, the organizations said.The government harassment is clearly intended to discredit and intimidate groups that document human rights violations, the groups said.On February 12, Diosdado Cabello, president of the National Assembly and member of the governing party, stated on the website of his weekly TV show, Con el Mazo Dando, aired on the state-run Venezolana de Televisión, that “NGO representatives from the ... Read More

Venezuela Urged by Former Leaders to Free Jailed Politicians

| April 7th, 2015 | No Comments »
ABC News

Nineteen former leaders from Latin America and Spain are pressuring Venezuela to release opposition politicians who have been detained.

In a statement released by the foundation of former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, the leaders called for the politicians’ immediate release and for groups like the Organization of American States and the United Nations to craft “an alternative solution that respects constitutional principles and international standards.”

The statement was released on Monday, four days before the Summit of the Americas starts in Panama. Leaders from 35 nations, including Latin American and Caribbean countries, the U.S. and Canada, are expected to attend.

The detentions in Venezuela are sure to be a summit issue. The biggest theme is the thaw in relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

Click here for original ... Read More

Andres Oppenheimer: Obama on defensive at summit

| April 6th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY ANDRES OPPENHEIMER

Until a few weeks ago, it looked like next weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Panama would be a golden opportunity for President Barack Obama to seal his announced normalization of ties with Cuba, and remove a decades-long sore point in U.S.-Latin American relations. But with few days to go before the 34-country summit, Obama’s prospects of emerging a big winner look bleak.

Several developments in the past few weeks will put Obama on the defensive at the mega-summit, a rare occasion where the U.S. president will meet collectively with all his Western Hemisphere counterparts. Since the first of these meetings was held in Miami in 1994, they have taken place only every three or four years.

First, the March 9 Obama executive order denying U.S. visas and freezing U.S. assets of seven Venezuelan government figures accused of human rights abuses or public corruption has led Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro ... Read More

Have U.S. Sanctions Against Venezuela Actually Helped Maduro?

| March 30th, 2015 | No Comments »
Jose Cardenas

When President Obama announced human rights sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials on March 9, a number of Latin Americanists and others criticized the measure, arguing that the president just handed beleaguered Venezuelan Nicolas Maduro a huge propaganda victory. The thinking went that Washington’s heavy-handed interference in Venezuela would allow Maduro to rally his base, deflect attention away from their dire economic predicament, and otherwise strengthen his teetering government.

Today, three weeks later, is as good a time as any to see whether Maduro has benefited in any way from U.S. sanctions. According to recent polls, the answer is a resounding no.

According to a recent poll by the Venezuelan firm Datanalisis, for all Maduro’s bombast since the sanctions were announced, his already low popularity barely budged from 23 percent to 25 percent, likely within the margin for error; in other words, there hasn’t been any measurable improvement. This is all the more ... Read More

Cuban dissidents will head to Summit of the Americas

| March 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

Cuban opposition leaders and activists Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Guillermo Fariñas, and Berta Soler will take part in civil-society events at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, according to the Miami-based Cuban Soul Foundation.

The foundation — which promotes independent Cuban artists and musicians — is hosting, together with the Human Rights Foundation in Cuba and the Panama campus of Florida State University, a conference titled The Road Ahead in the Fight for Human Rights on April 8.

Independent journalist Myriam Celaya and philologist Yusmila Reyna Ferrer, a member of Cuba’s Patriotic Union, UNPACU, will also take part with Soler and Saily Navarro, both representing the Ladies in White, in a panel discussion on women’s human-rights activism. Celaya, Reyna, and Soler participated last week in a similar conference at Florida International University.

Blogger Henry Constantin and UNPACU activist Amel Oliva will discuss with Morúa, leader of Arco Progresista, and Fariñas, representative ... Read More

The left must speak out about the horror in Venezuela

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
New Statesman

Venezuela is a mess. Inflation is running at 70 per cent or higher and in the capital Caracas citizens have to stand in queues for hours just to pick up the basics from increasingly empty shops. This comes on the back of a decade-long oil boom in which Venezuela earned over $800 billion in oil revenues. Accusing the government of profligacy somehow doesn’t cut it.

But Venezuela isn’t just a crumbling mess teetering on the brink of economic and social collapse. It also happens to be a country in which many western leftists have over the past decade invested their hopes for a better future.

The governments of the late Hugo Chavez and now Nicolas Maduro certainly have achievements to their name. Between 1998 and 2012 there was a reduction in the poverty rate from 50 per cent to approximately 30 per cent. The closeness of the Venezuelan government’s ties to Cuba, and the ... Read More

Venezuelan leader’s popularity inches up to 25 percent – poll

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
Swiss Info

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s popularity inched up to 25 percent in March, according to leading local pollster Datanalisis, after the United States declared Venezuela a security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials.

The measures from Washington provided an unlikely helping hand to the socialist leader at one of the worst moments for the ruling “Chavismo” movement.

Maduro has cranked up revolutionary rhetoric against so-called “imperialist” aggression to fire up supporters and unite his disparate coalition ahead of parliamentary elections, a strategy that seems to have triggered a modest popularity bounce.

“Maduro has a 25 percent popularity level,” Datanalisis said in a tweet on Tuesday, citing its president Luis Vicente Leon.

That’s up from the low 20s, though Leon suggested the difference was within the margin of error. He did not provide the poll’s margin of error or sample size.

... Read More

The Maduro Smokescreen

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
The London Economic

By Max Bluer

The sweeping presidential powers, the detention of political opponents, even the troop mobilisations are empty gestures. President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela’s main goal is now to distract his people, and the world, from his country’s problems.  

Highly dangerous. A power grab. A smokescreen. The response from internal opponents and the international community to the Venezuelan Congress’ decision to grant President Nicolás Maduro new decree powers has been overwhelmingly critical. The law, which in its preamble specifies its objective as ‘protecting national sovereignty from foreign interventions’, allows the executive to bypass Congress in areas of ‘freedom, equality, justice and international peace, independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national self-determination’.

The vague wording of the new legislation – freedom, equality and independence are terms that can mean just about anything – has scared many both within and outside Venezuela. The fear is that Maduro will go beyond the law’s ... Read More

Venezuela: Lack of justice for protest abuses gives green light to more violence

| March 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
Amnesty International

Venezuela’s failure to effectively investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of 43 people and the injury and torture of hundreds during protests in 2014, is effectively giving a green light to more abuses and violence, said Amnesty International in a new report today.

The faces of impunity: A year after the protests, victims still await justice examines the stories of those who died or were arbitrarily arrested and tortured in detention during and after the protests that rocked the country between February and July 2014. Amongst the dead and injured were protesters, passers-by and members of the security forces. Some are still behind bars pending trial.

“Every day that passes without addressing the catalogue of human rights abuses that took place during the protests is another day of heart-breaking injustice for the victims and their families. This must stop.”

During the protests 3,351 people were detained, ... Read More

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