International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

April 17, 2003

April 17, 2003





** Fidel Castro "took advantage" of the world's attention on Iraq to launch another "wave of repression" in Cuba and deserves condemnation by the UNCHR.


** Argentine commentary judged President Duhalde's decision to abstain from voting against Cuba a "serious mistake" and a "lamentable change of policy" guided by the "electoral wind."


** Brazilian writers found the Lula administration's "timid" stance "deplorable" and "ridiculous," others agreed that abstention in the face of Castro's human rights violations was "cowardice."


** Defending their "traditional non-intervention" and "right to be different," Mexican writers leaned toward abstention, arguing there are other means to "move" Cuba toward democracy.




Cuba the 'worst kind of dictatorship,' Fidel can no longer play 'victim'-- Latin papers denounced Castro's "abominable persecution and execution of dissidents" and stressed the "gratuity of the aggression."  Brazil's right-of-center O Globo asserted that "this new blow to freedom of opinion in Cuba must be rejected by all," especially in Latin America "which worked hard to revitalize democracy after a long institutional short circuit."  Chile's leading La Tercera insisted that the policy to condemn Cuba "be kept and even hardened" as a sign of rejection of the island's "flagrant human rights violations."  Colombia's leading El Tiempo concluded that as long as Castro "is alive," there will be "no openness to democracy" in Cuba.


Castro 'exploited' the opportunity to tighten his grip when attention was on Iraq--  Rather than seizing the moment when "most of the world opposes his greatest enemy: the U.S."  to reiterate Cuba's demands, Fidel "acted with the myopia typical of petty tyrants" and "preferred to use force, in a criminal way."  Ireland's centrist Sunday Tribune observed that "Castro's brutality may not be as overt as that of Saddam Hussein, but brutality it still is."  While a Mexican daily speculated that Castro was trying to "provoke" the U.S., Canada's leading Globe and Mail instead suggested that Washington's "man in Havana" Carson had "goaded" Castro's regime into its "harshest crackdown on peaceful dissent." 


UNCHR 'dilemma': It's a vote about the 'tyrant' and human rights not U.S. Cuba policy-- The decision to vote against Cuba should be "congruent" with the reality of human rights on the island, not made "out of spite" just to "snub" the U.S.  Papers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala and Panama urged their governments to condemn Cuba.  Duhalde's abstention and Lula's "hedging" were portrayed as cowardice.  Argentine papers decided Duhalde's position was part of an "election strategy" led by "popular anti-U.S." sentiment.  Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo held that "only a perfect idiot" would equate voting against Castro with "selling out to imperialism."  Mexican writers were conflicted but rationalized abstention by insisting that it sent a message against both the U.S.' "abusive and imperialist  politics" and "the abusive and totalitarian policies of Cuba."  Havana Cubavision, meanwhile, vowed Cuba would not be affected by the "felonies" of the "empire" and its "lackey accomplices." 


EDITOR:  Irene Marr


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This report is based on 61 reports from 19 countries, March 18-April 17.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




CUBA:  "Informative Note Accuses U.S. Of Blackmail In Geneva"


Government owned, government-controlled television station Havana Cubavision read the following "Informative Note" (4/15): "Tomorrow...the vote will be held in Geneva on the tired issue of human rights in Cuba. The United States Government is exercising colossal pressures on Latin American, African and other Third World countries.  As usual, NATO [members], with their proverbial and cynical hypocrisy, are supporting as a block the anti-Cuban resolution presented by despicable lackeys of the empire, which are in this occasion the governments of Peru, Uruguay and Costa Rica, using as an excuse the legitimate measures adopted against the mercenaries who, at the service of the empire that pays them as has been amply proven, commit acts of treason against the Fatherland. They have gone so far as to spread the news worldwide that the hijackers of the passenger boat on 2 April with 36 people on board, sentenced to capital punishment, were three political dissidents....The Revolution has been forced to adopt harsh measures, which it did not want but were unavoidable, within the strict framework of the law and without any spirit of vengeance, which does not fit in the soul of a people determined to fight until the last drop of blood in defense of its ideals of justice, brotherhood, solidarity, and humanism, which have been amply demonstrated throughout 44 years of combat....


The United States is exercising all of its power through blackmail of every kind.... Despite the colossal machinery of intimidation and blackmail deployed by the United States and its allies, at a moment when its hegemonic control of the world has been strengthened, it can be foreseen that the vote against Cuba will be decided by a relatively close margin. Cuba is not affected by the felonies committed against it. It has been able to withstand bloody aggressions, blockade and economic war, slander and infamies, with nothing able to break it. Its morals, its authority, and its prestige grow stronger each day with the masses, inside and outside the country. The fascist clique probably thinks that its hegemony and the support of its lackey accomplices, who betray the honor and the interests of their own people and of humanity, will be eternal. History will not delay in demonstrating the opposite."


"'Official Note' Rejects Constant Provocations of USIS Director James Cason"


An "Official Note" read by station announcer for government-owned Havana Cubavision declared (3/18):  "Our people have met with profound indignation, the public complaints and the  shameless and constant provocation of the chief of the US Interests Section [USINT in Cuba.   These actions have obviously been conceived and carried out as part of the current administration's hostile and aggressive policy toward our country, with the close cooperation and support of the terrorist mafia in Miami, and the extreme rightwing in the United States.... 

 In  response to the open and shameless goal of organizing from inside [the USINT] a mercenary force like the one that invaded us in Giron, which fulfilled orders from a foreign government...and planted terror and grief in our country -- this time disguised as apparently innocent and harmless lambs...let there be no doubt that the revolution will implement with the necessary rigor and to the extent that the circumstances demand, the laws create to defend itself from new and old tactics and strategies against Cuba.  For these reasons, several dozen individuals directly linked to the conspiratorial activities of Mr. James Cason, have been arrested by the pertinent authorities and will stand trial in our courts of justice.  The revolution has often been generous and tolerant by virtue of its great political strength and its ability to resist any form of aggression on any grounds.... Those who know the Cuban revolution know very well that it never bluffs nor is there a force in the world capable of intimidating it."


CANADA:  "Why Did Washington Goad Cuba?"


Paul Knox commented in the leading Globe and Mail (Internent version) (4/11): "When James Cason was named last year as the senior U.S. diplomat in Cuba, he said he planned to be 'creative, active and vigorous' in the job. The chief result of his vigorous creativity is that dozens of political activists and journalists have been imprisoned for outrageously long terms after being convicted of conspiring with Mr. Cason to overthrow the regime of President Fidel Castro....  No one should be surprised about the Cuban crackdown -- least of all in Washington. But if it was foreseen by U.S. strategists, what's the plan? Remember, this is the Bush administration. The same folks who are bombing the bejesus out of Baghdad to deliver democracy to the Arab world. The same ones who vow never again to betray opponents of a tyrannical regime the way Iraqi foes of Saddam Husayn were hung out to dry by the U.S.-led coalition in 1991. I can't believe the U.S. government plans to seriously ratchet up pressure on Mr. Castro at the same time as it is heavily engaged halfway around the world....  What will the Bushites do now to back up Mr. Cason's new friends? Please, no more military action. But since domestic politics preclude dropping the embargo, the options for peaceful pressure are severely limited.  Cutting off money transfers to Cuba would impose further hardship on long-suffering Cubans and enrage their relatives in exile. There seems little point in further tightening travel restrictions.  Perhaps the jailed dissidents know what Washington is up to. At any rate, they've got plenty of time to think about it."


ARGENTINA:  "The President Made The Wrong Choice"


An editorial in independent La Prensa read (4/17): "On this occasion, Argentina decides to abstain; this means, it endorses torture and the arbitrary decision of Cuba's supreme will. In a frightening and light attitude, President Duhalde chose to follow electoral demands and mediocrity, with the excuse that he was coordinating with his partner Brazil, in order to snub - and this is the key word - the U.S. again. This is painful. The GOA not only ignores that the national interest will never be defended if it confronts with the dominant superpower. Aligning with the world's worst members also implies an ethical disorder."


"Duhalde Privileges His Candidate"


Mariano Obarrio, political columnist of daily-of-record La Nacion wrote (4/16): "President Duhalde's decision not to question Cuba and vote at the UN against what the U.S. requests is due to the fact that Duhalde made prevail the opinion of his presidential candidate, Nestor Kirchner, with whom he talked about the positive electoral impact of his decision. The members of the Duhalde administration preferred to publicly omit the political aspect of his decision, and decided to emphasize that Duhalde prioritized the Argentine alliance with Brazil."


"Duhalde Decided Not To Vote In Favor Of Condemning Cuba At The UN"


Ana Gerschenson and Atilio Bleta, political columnists of leading Clarin wrote (4/16) "Yesterday, President Duhalde ordered Argentina to abstain from accusing Cuba of human rights violations at the UN Commission in Geneva. It is a turning point in the Argentine position after 13 years of condemnation of the Castro regime.... Duhalde's abstention could gain votes for his 'progressive' candidate, Nestor Kirchner.... The truth is that, through his decision, Duhalde repositioned Argentina's foreign policy. It took Argentina away from its automatic alignment with the U.S. - started by Menem in the '90s - and prioritized the country's regional alliance with Brazil... Duhalde's decision showed some disagreement in the national cabinet. Foreign Minister Ruckauf was concerned about the political and economic repercussions of the Argentine decision in its future relationship with countries like the US or Spain."


"It Was An Election Gesture"


Business-financial Ambito Financiero carried an opinion piece by Argentine former vice Foreign Minister Andres Cisneros, who wrote (4/16): "The change in Argentina's vote on Cuba has an election odor incompatible with the governmental decision-making process in a serious country. Not even the Alianza dared so much.  Lamentable as it is, today's decision took place in the framework of an increasing process of bastardization of human rights... In his decision, Duhalde took into account opinion surveys, consultations with Lula and the status of Cuba as a 'small country suffering a blockade.' First and foremost, Cuba does not suffer a blockade but an embargo, and there is no need to vote in this way to oppose the embargo: Argentina has attacked the embargo for 12 years. One thing is not related to the other. To think that it is right for the Cuban regime to violate its citizens' human rights under the excuse that the regime suffers an embargo implies an alarming conceptual disorder... We should consider that the only element Duhalde should have taken into account to decide his vote is whether human rights are violated or not in Cuba. Everything else should be left out. He took into account everything else and left out the human rights issue."


"A Vote With Mercosur For Abstention"


Fernando Cibeira, political columnist of left-of-center Pagina 12 stressed (4/16) "In a decision that changes the direction of the Argentine foreign policy of the past twelve years, President Eduardo Duhalde announced that Argentina would abstain from condemning the Cuban regime at the UN Human Rights Commission for human rights violations in line with Brazil's usual position. With impeccable logic, the President said that 'Argentina will not condemn a small country that suffers a blockade,' and explained that 'he considered inopportune considering this war in Iraq that is a unilateral violation of human rights'... Duhalde emphasized that his decision was related to what had been agreed between the two main Mercosur partners regarding a common position on foreign policy issues."


"Cuba And Human Rights"


An editorial in daily-of-record La Nacion read (4/16): "Argentina has decided to change its vote on human rights violations in Cuba at the UN Human Rights Commission after having condemned the Castro regime three times in a row.... Therefore, our country will not be aligned with the countries condemning Castro's crimes.... There is no reason to justify this lamentable change of position.... President Duhalde has made a serious mistake by abandoning the already traditional Argentine position of condemnation of the Castro regime.... In the current Argentine political context, it is hard to avoid the suspicion that this change of position has been decided due to some election that some sectors of the population show a critical view of Washington policies in the international field.... If this is the case, a very serious distortion of reality has occurred. What is being analyzed at the UNCHR is not Washington's strategic behavior but the Cuban situation. It is not the U.S. policy that we are talking about, but Castro's dictatorship... The USG - who traditionally promotes the condemnation vote against Cuba - made public its disappointment due to Argentina's change of position. Beyond this predictable repercussion, our country's step means a lamentable retreat."


"Argentina's Favorable Vote For Cuba: A Serious Mistake"


An editorial in business-financial El Cronista reads (4/16):  "Duhalde's attitude is very serious for many reasons. First, for a reason of principles.... The second is related to the serious human rights violations that have happened in Cuba for years....  A democratic country like Argentina should not be cowardly or indifferent toward government and countries infringing on human rights. Let's not be confused: this is not an ideological or economic issue. Any dictatorship, whether it is right or left-wing, should be severely criticized. Also, the current president has no legitimacy to change a traditional position that has been maintained during three administrations against Cuba. In order to modify a State policy, like this one..., Duhalde should have been supported by the popular vote."


"Cuba And Argentina's Vote"


An editorial in independent La Prensa read (4/3): "Argentina's final decision (regarding the Cuba vote at the UNHRC) won't be the country's position but that of the politician who's currently ruling it. This means that, on this issue at least, Argentina lacks identity. President Duhalde... has already expressed he will possibly change Argentina's vote to an abstention. In doing this he would be changing our previous position, which condemned Cuba for its human rights violations.... Duhalde is actually bearing in mind what the U.S. reaction will be, because he hopes Argentina won't suffer U.S. retaliation on this issue. Our abstention vis-à-vis Cuba is, however, absolutely coherent with our neutrality regarding Iraq. We remain halfway, we don't choose between one side and the other; a comfortable position, apparently with no dangerous commitments, but also imbued with fears and a degree of cowardice.... Duhalde's idea is to side with Brazilian President Lula's 'abstention' position, presenting it as a joint position of Mercosur countries."


BRAZIL: "The Constraints of Timidity"


Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo editorialized (4/17): "The timidity with which President Lula da Silva's administration is dealing with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's abominable persecution and execution of dissidents is deplorable.  In a reflection of its double-standard stance toward the Marxist narco-guerrillas [FARC] in Colombia, Brazil's hedging on this subject gives the impression that nostalgia for the revolutionary, authoritarian and left-wing guerrilla still exists in the Workers' Party [President Lula's party]. Brazil must not hesitate in opposing the hateful actions of a tyrannical regime like that of the Cuban.... The U.S.-sponsored economic embargo against the island, which has submitted Cubans to intolerable privations, must be condemned, as well as U.S. retaliations against nations conducting business with Havana. But the dictatorial nature of Castro's regime must be condemned as well."


"Fidel Unmasked"


The lead editorial in center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo maintained (4/17): "Dictatorships arrest and kill people because this is their nature.... In fact, imprisonment for political reasons has always been part of the Cuban 'administrative' routine.... There is no doubt that the economic embargo has kept Fidel Castro in power. There is no doubt either that if it all depended on the Congress, and pressure from U.S. export industries, the embargo would have ended already. But this will not happen in the Bush administration.... The anti-Castro lobby in Washington has become stronger. Consequently, the new wave of repression in Havana is a reckless provocation of Bush's America.... But Castro seems to fear domestic dissidents more than the neighboring superpower and his enemies in Miami.... It is deplorable that President Lula da Silva has not directed the Brazilian delegation at the UN's HR Commission to vote for monitoring Cuba. It would have been an action consistent with extraordinary moral greatness."


"It's Not Concern, It's Horror"


Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo political columnist Clovis Rossi held (4/17): "The official Brazilian position of viewing with 'concern' the recent wave of human rights violations in Cuba is ridiculous.  It should be viewed with horror, disavowal, in any other way that is more forceful. Concern should be reserved for other types of problems, such as those emerging about the U.S. and how it is treating prisoners in Guantanamo.... Concern should also be reserved for the many actions that took place during the massacre in Iraq. Another type of behavior is expected from democracies.  Nothing but violence can be expected from a dictatorship like that of the Cuban, and it does not engender concern -- it engenders rejection.... The violation of human rights and the economic embargo are separate issues.  Violation of human rights is an intrinsic part of every dictatorship. If the Brazilian government does not want to be party to a supposed U.S. conspiracy against Cuba, then it should at least present a motion that denounces and/or call for an investigation of the situation of prisoners in Guantanamo, or of the crimes committed by U.S. troops in Iraq. It is not possible to allow exceptions with regard with human rights when those who violate them oppose the U.S. Only a perfect idiot would say that if Brazil votes against Cuba on human rights issues, it has sold out to imperialism."


"Brazil 'Concerned' With Cuba"


Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo observed (4/16): "Criticized for [not speaking out about] the repressive measures aimed at those who oppose Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba, the Brazilian government will take an unusual diplomatic measure in Geneva today. It will present to the UN's Human Rights Commission a declaration expressing 'strong concern' about the recent wave of repression on the island.... Brazil has adopted abstention as a practice when motions against the Cuban government are considered, because it believes that the topic is always politicized by the USG's influence.... There will be another abstention today, but the declaration demonstrates that the repression exerted in Cuba is beginning to bother both the GOB and its Foreign Ministry. The GOB has been criticized by its opposition in the Congress, which wants it to issue a condemnation of the Cuban government. Several GOB officials, such as President Lula da Silva and Minister Jose Dirceu, have personal ties with Cuba and Fidel Castro.... Despite the criticism, Brazil's declaration will not explicitly condemn the Castro regime or request any type of sanction against Cuba."




Center-left Jornal do Brasil asserted (4/16): "In its slow agony Fidel Castro's regime is returning to the bloody impetuosity which fed it at the beginning....  While protests against this intolerance that sacrifices the lives of political prisoners are being repeated throughout the world, representatives of the Brazilian people decided to invite the Cuban Ambassador in Brazil, Jorge Lexano Peres, to explain this wave of intolerance in Cuba to the Brazilian Senate.  It's a waste of time.  There is no way to explain the inexplicable.  Brazil has already pledged its commitment to democracy even in Paraguay.  It should now send a word of reality to its friend Fidel Castro, guest at the 'Granja do Torto' barbecue (the Brazilian presidential country house) when Lula took office. The Brazilian president has the personal authority to dissuade him of his ruthlessness in exterminating the opposition.... There's no time to lose."


"Fidel's Crimes"


Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo held (4/15): "Taking advantage of the fact that the world's attention had turned to U.S. excesses in Iraq, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro decided to consolidate his power and launched another wave of repression on the island.... Havana condemned to death and executed three people who had hijacked a passenger boat.... One must recognize that...the hijackers committed a serious crime.  But this is not enough to justify the application of the death penalty for a crime that involved no deaths. Fidel Castro should have taken advantage of the moment when most of world public opinion opposes his greatest enemy - the U.S. - to reiterate Cuba's demands.... But acting with the myopia typical of petty tyrants, Fidel preferred to use force, in a criminal way that has already condemned him internationally. The UN's Human Rights Commission will examine the case in the next few days. But no one should expect much from a human rights commission headed by Muhammar Kaddafi's Libya. This is but more evidence of the confused times in which we live."  


"A Regime With Sclerosis"


Center-left Jornal do Brasil noted (4/14):  "The violence of the Cuban regime against its dissidents is not surprising.... What's most revolting in Fidel Castro's current attack against human rights is the gratuity of the aggression.  Nowadays the one-single-island of Communism is ridiculous.  The Cuban regime is hardened, has sclerosis..... Brazilian diplomacy, with rare exceptions, has been careful not to look condescendingly at Castro....Cuba is a worst kind of dictatorship."


"The Myth That Time Disgraced"


Editor Augusto Nunes wrote in center-left Jornal do Brasil (4/13): "During his reign of 45 years there were splendid moments...and also heinous ones.  The brutal offensive against political dissidents figures in the latter, in which a small multitude of journalists were rounded up when the world was fixed on Iraq.  An exhibitionist, Fidel can be discreet when he needs to be....Freedom of expression and thought is a victory of civilized men.  It's only a crime for dictators, like Fidel in his twilight years."


"Terror In Havana"


Calling upon the GOB to condemn Castro's recent actions against the opposition, right-of-center O Globo  stressed (4/11):  "Fidel Castro's regime took advantage of public opinion being turned towards developments in Iraq and hauled in the nets filled with prisoners from the opposition.... Fidel's Cuba doesn't adapt itself to an international environment in which there is little room for dictatorial systems..... This new blow to freedom of opinion in Cuba must be rejected by all, especially in Latin America, a region that worked hard to revitalize democracy after a long institutional short-circuit.  Brazil, with aspirations to consolidate itself as the region's leader, cannot stand aside as it did in the coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.  Even if that may cause embarrassment to the group of Cuban friends in the upper echelons of government, to defend democracy is a matter of State. The newly-designated Brazilian Ambassador in Havana, Tilden Santiago, one of those friends of the Island, should have privileged access to Cuban leaders.  He has all means to approach the issue.  Unless this is a subject not to be treated with friends."


MEXICO: "Castro's Friends"


Juan Molinar Horcasitas wrote in old-guard nationalist Universal (4/16): "The GOM should firmly and clearly defend human rights in Geneva, voting in favor of the U.N. human rights resolution that asks the Cuban government to accept the visit of a U.N. human rights envoy.  Even though we haven't lacked those who oppose this action, everything indicates that Castro's infamous authoritarian regime is becoming more and more isolated, because his actions are increasingly indefensible, even for his most loyal friends in Mexico and Latin America.  I think that no human rights crusader could remain unaffected by what is happening in Cuba.  I hope that international pressure on Cuba creates positive effects for the defense of human rights."




Carlos Fuentes wrote in independent Reforma (4/16):  "The fact is that every time a

U.S. president -Carter, Clinton-sent an exploratory peace dove to Cuba, Fidel made sure it was shot down.  Fidel needs his American ogre, and in George W. Bush, he has one almost as if Hollywood had designed him.  I maintain the position I have held since 1966, when the Cuban literary bureaucracy, manipulated by Roberto Fernandez Retamar, denounced Pablo Neruda and me for attending a PEN Club Congress led by Arthur Miller....  I maintain this position today:  against the abusive and imperial politics of the USG against Cuba.  And against the abusive and totalitarian politics of Cuba against its own citizens.  I am Mexican and I cannot accept that Washington tell us how to conduct our foreign policy, nor can I accept the Cuban example of a suffocating dictatorship, without free press, without opinion, dissidence, or free association.  I congratulate (Nobel Prize Winner) Saramago for stating his position.  I announce mine:  I am against Bush and against Castro."


"Iron Fists"


An editorial in business-oriented El Financiero read (4/16):  "The war crimes in Iraq could not hide the severe sentences meted against 75 Cuban dissidents, or the unexpected execution in Havana of the three kidnappers of a ferry.  Troubled by isolation, and terrified by the recent demonstration of strength by the White House, Fidel Castro closed his iron fist to align himself with George W. Bush in terms of human rights.  If one of them ignored the UNSC to begin his adventure, the other one forgot to listen the claims of the Cuban Revolution, and violated agreements he had signed within the Untied Nations Human Rights Commission.  History will judge both individuals and certainly they will not be absolved in spite of their arguments, even though there could be extenuating circumstances.  In any case, the American continent's liberty was violated."


“Same Measure”


Luis F. Salazar commented in conservative El Siglo de Torreon (4/16): "Mexican deputies (who traveled to Cuba last week) concluded that Mexico should abstain of voting in favor (of the resolution condemning Cuba for human rights violations at the upcoming U.N. Human Rights Assembly), which is inadmissible due the severe nature of the facts.… If we wish for an improved international legal system, we should start by establishing objective behavioral measures that are valid for everyone, in Mexico as in the U.S. and Cuba and in any other part of the world. The double standard should be left behind.”


"Dilemma Over Cuba"


Ramon Cota Meza stressed in old-guard nationalist Universal (4/15):  "A few hours away from the vote in Geneva, the cards are already on the table.  We believe that the least worst option would be to ratify last year’s vote condemning Cuba, and call for Castro to strengthen the UN....  A team of human rights inspectors from the UN and the Catholic Church would at least guarantee some international support for Cuba...but Castro is ahead of us in the worst way, by cracking down on dissidents and preparing for a 100-year war with the United States.  If there are attentive ears in Washington, remind them that the transition to democracy from dying dictatorships is bloodless, but a very certain way to build the future political order…the case of Spain, that only began the path to democracy when Gen. Franco capitulated ahead of time."


“Hypocrisy And Barbarism”


An editorial from left-of-center La Jornada argued (4/15): “To Washington and its henchmen, human rights, international legality and the values of civilization are concepts that can be manipulated to their convenience.…  Why must we condemn Cuba and not the U.S., Israel, or even Mexico, countries where there have been serious violations of Human Rights? Certainly the execution of three kidnappers in Cuba is a brutal and reprehensible action that repeats the same inhuman and totalitarian actions that socialism has fought against.  Such executions are unacceptable and unjustif ied, but this condemnation must not be used to play along with the imperialist interests of the US or to perpetuate general hypocrisy.”


“Cuba Has Few Ideas But All Of Them Are Confused”


 Federico Arreola wrote in nationalist Milenio (4/15): “In Mexico the left is more democratic than right, that is why one is surprised that our left loves Fidel Castro so much, one of the dictators in power for the longest time… The left in Mexico admires the Cuban people because of their supposedly sovereign decision of rejecting the values of a consumerist society, but when they visit Havana or the beaches of Varadero, those Mexicans perceive a great truth: nowadays the true heroes for Cubans are not Martí, El Che or Fidel but Hamilton, Lincoln, Franklin, Washington, and all the icons of the American culture… The ideas about Cuba expressed by the Mexican left are not many, but all of them are very confused, maybe that is why they are so attractive.” 


"Cuba: The Right To Be Different"


 Humberto Musacchio held in independent Reforma (4/15):  "Mexico’s vote in Geneva should be guided by national interests, not Cuban interests or even less, the permanent U.S. campaign against Fidel Castro’s government.  Today, Mexico’s position faces the risk of being subordinated to U.S. interests once again.  Of course, to not cast a vote against Cuba does not mean that we are validating what is happening on the island...  The author of this article belongs to a generation that defended Mexicans’ right to dissent and at the same time we vindicated Cuba’s sovereign right to be different, the same right that is denied to Cubans.  All of this is known, but even so, if Mexico and the Human Rights Commission condemn Cuba and continued to cynically overlook similar violations by those who are more powerful, they will become discredited and renounce all use of their voice in the international arena...and will weaken the capacity of international organizations to stop those who do not recognize any other law than their bombs and cannons."


"Rights In Cuba"


Sergio Sarmiento commented in independent Reforma (4/15):  "The most probable outcome is that Mexico will vote in favor of the resolution against Cuba that will be known tomorrow or soon after that…Foreign Relations Secretary (SRE) Luis Ernesto Derbez has said that the recent crackdown against Cuban dissidents will weigh heavily upon Mexico’s vote.  But my impression is that these events are simply justifying a decision that was made some time ago, which has less to do with what is happening in Cuba ands more with the fact that after the Mexico-U.S. clash in the United Nations over Iraq, Vicente Fox’s administration simply does not want to add another thorn to the bilateral relationship.  The fact that I propose that Mexico resuscitate its traditional non-intervention doctrine and abstain from the vote at Geneva does not mean that I agree with Mexican politicians who show more loyalty to Fidel Castro than the Mexican people.  I am convinced that Cuba can being to move toward a more democratic political system and show gr eater respect to human rights...but pressures such as the vote in Geneva or the U.S. trade embargo do not do anything but toughen the stance of hardliners in the Cuban regime."


“Mexico And The Vote on Cuba”


An editorial in independent Vanguardia (4/15) observed: "We cannot put on a slant the fact that voting against (the resolution condemning Cuba for human rights violations at the upcoming U.N. Human Rights Assembly) would represent an additional element of deterioration in the Mexico-U.S. relationship, a relationship that beyond ideological similarities, is more important to us in all senses. We have here the opportunity to heal the wounds that the war on Iraq has caused to our relationship with our principal trade partner. The option seems very clear: Mexico should vote in favor of the resolution."


“The Romantic Cuba” 


Federico Arreola wrote in nationalist Milenio (4/14): “I received a letter from a student, saying that ‘In Mexico they have the old, useless and romantic idea that the relationship with Cuba is very important; a consequence of the period when Mexico was the only country who had bilateral relations with Cuba. Nowadays the relationship with Cuba is as indifferent as the relationship with Mozambique, because Cuba is not an important or strategic partner.... Cuba has an aberrant regime, and all its actions are condemnable because it does not allow to its people to express freely and to live in freedom.” 


“A Vote Against Fidel’s Regime” 


Jorge Fernández Menéndez argued in sensationalist Milenio (4/14): “There are no indications that Cuba is one of the objectives of the anti-terrorist war of George Bush, in the short and long run, but it looks like Castro wants to provoke the United States.…Fox administration has the ethical and political duty to vote in favor of the resolution that demands that the Cuban government reviews Human Rights in Cuba. The argument that Cuba is being attacked by special counterrevolutionary forces is invalid: all dissidents who condemned and arrested reject the US embargo against the island, none of them propose a violent alternative to bring down the regime, on the contrary, all of them s upport a peaceful political transit ion. This position is what provokes that the Castro’s regime consider these people dangerous, and this is why he adopts extreme measures to incite international disgust.”  


“Deplorable Decision Of The Cuban Government”


Editorial from the old-guard nationalist Universal (4/12): "Cuba feels itself unjustly besieged, the recent actions confirm this conviction. It feels the affront of many of its citizens that are in prison in the US for political reasons, Cuba perceives that international solidarity, which it used to have, is wearing out because of the fear and fatigue of countries that love peace. The decision to sacrifice the kidnappers without appeal is a sad mistake; this action does not leave any margin of maneuver to groups in Mexico that tried to convince President Fox to avoid the voting against Cuba; nowadays it is practically impossible that Fox accept that position.”  


“Baghdad, Bush And Cuba”


Jorge Fernández Menéndez wrote in nationalist Milenio (4/10):  "The attention of diplomats and of Mexican international policy is focused on what is happening on Iraq; next week Mexico will have to adopt a decision that will signal how it wants to vote on the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva about Human Rights in Cuba… Last year Mexican government condemned the violation Cuba, today when the resolution project is lighter than the last one, and when recent abuses against dissidence were committed: Would Mexico have to change its vote in order to support Cuba? Wouldn’t this indication make evident a non-serious and unstable foreign policy? Wouldn’t it be a direct message of a growing distance from Mexico to Washington? These hard questions do not accept an easy answer.”


“The Untouchable”


Bruno Ferrari asserts in independent El Norte (4/10): “One of the questions that attracts the most attention is the reason for George W. Bush’s preoccupation focused on Saddam Hussein when there is a handful of other ruffians in the world that commit similar or even worse deeds that are still living under impunity.… I don’t know if it’s the oil or the vindication of that other chore his father left pending, but the reality is not all dictators have the same luck. … (The case) that comes to mind the most is that of Cuba.… Will Castro have the same or similar luck as Saddam Hussein or will he continue to be, regardless of what he does, a reason for the U.S. government to reflect on who will decide who will or will not be judged and punished or halt the people’s march towards freedom and democracy.”


“Jailed Cubans”


Miguel Angel Granados Chapa wrote in independent Reforma (4/9):  “The Cuban Republic, so fragile since its birth, resolutely in search of its authentic independence fifty years ago, is legitimately hurting over the unfair prison sentences that the USG has imposed on five of its children in Florida.  However, in a terrible similarity—and let’s be careful with these words—Cuba is handing out prison sentences against freedom of expression, by summarily convicting 15 dissidents out of the dozens of Cubans that oppose the revolutionary regime arrested last month.  I express my solidarity with the five Cubans jailed in Florida…but my position would not be worth anything if I did not manifest the same opinion about the dozens arrested in Cuba since March....  Havana has not used the conditions against its regime imposed by the U.S. embargo for decades as an authoritarian resource…but its survival is not threatened by increasing dissidence, which is abiding by basic rules for its development.  If Havana is not Washington, let it not seem that way.”


CHILE:  "Vote On Cuba"


An editorial in conservative, influential newspaper-of-record El Mercurio stressed (4/16): "Although over the last ten years Chile has established regular diplomatic relations with Cuba, it has always - except once - voted in favor of resolutions that promote human rights on the island....  In the upcoming vote Chile will do the same.  This decision has the support of the opposition parties and several government coalition parties....  In view of the rejection that nations have expressed over the latest events in Cuba, all nations should decide to promote another resolution that explicitly calls for the respect of human rights on the island....  But the political approach to human rights that prevails in the U.N. has made it impossible to create a substitute for the current weak resolution."


"Cuba Issue Causes Split In Chile's Governing Coalition"


Conservative newspaper-of-record El Mercurio (Internet version) carried a comment by Nelly Yanez asserting (4/11): "A serious point of conflict arose in the Governing Coalition as to how Chile will vote next week at the United Nations on the human rights situation in Cuba.  While the Christian Democracy [DC] considers a 'condemnation' is necessary after the arrest of 78 dissidents, the Socialist Party is opposed because it feels that creating a conflict [with Cuba] will not help advance democracy; because they do not agree with the blockade imposed by the United States; and because they have not forgotten that the Castro administration took them in after 11 September 1973 [reference to the military coup]....  To date, La Moneda's position has been to support the resolution presented by Costa Rica, Peru, Uruguay, and Nicaragua, calling for the deployment of a special observer to review the situation of the arrested dissidents, although Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear did not dismiss yesterday the idea of studying the dissidents' situation if necessary."


"Condemning Cuba"


Leading-circulation, popular La Tercera ran an editorial stating (4/9): "Over the last week, the Cuban government has unleashed the greatest wave of repression in decades....  There is therefore, no reason why the Chilean government should change its position from last year, when it supported the vote against the island.  On the contrary, the policy to condemn Cuba must be kept and even hardened as a sign of rejection of the flagrant human rights violations committed on the island and the regime's complete disinterest in improving in that area.  The government and the Foreign Ministry must be clear and not lend themselves to games or ambivalent positions....  La Moneda must be firm and determined...and ignore the political pressure that will surely increase over the next days."


COLOMBIA: "Cuba Strength Or Weakness?"


Leading El Tiempo (Internet Version) commented (4/16): "The repression in Cuba demonstrates that, so long as Fidel Castro is alive, there will be no openness to democracy....  It was initially thought that what lay behind the new repressive face of the Cuban regime was the intention to send the signal to Washington that the U.S. shows of force in various parts of the world (and especially in Iraq) have not crushed Havana's revolutionary spirit.   It also was thought that Castro had, specifically, taken advantage of the crisis in the Persian Gulf to launch the attack against his weak internal opposition.... However, it would appear that the objective is far more clear and direct: with the execution of the hijackers, convicted virtually without any type of trial, and the prison sentences imposed on the intellectuals, headed by Raul Rivero...the Castro regime is clearing opponents from its path to ensure the government's transition to the one whom everyone in Cuba considers as Castro's successor: his brother, Raul.... But anyone who thought that the regime was losing its strength for this reason was mistaken.   On the contrary, as is being proven by the actions these days, the ironclad control that Castro has maintained over Cuba still remains as absolute as it was at the peak times of the revolution."     


GUATEMALA:  “A Vote Based on Principle in the Case of Cuba”


Moderate, leading Prensa Libre stated in its main editorial (4/16):  "In a regime that skillfully uses demagogy and fallacies to gain sympathy, it is not surprising to learn of yesterday’s laments by the Cuban Ambassador to Guatemala, who said ‘it was very painful that countries that were friends’ would vote against  (Cuba) in Geneva, anticipating the possibility that Guatemala’s position would not favor his country.  As a matter of fact, Guatemala’s vote should be to condemn (Cuba)… the decision should be congruent with the reality of respect for human rights on the island, and not out of spite for the United States for its charges of corruption against Alfonso Portillo’s administration.”


“A Parody of Justice in Cuba”


Influential El Periodico published a column by staff writer Jorge Palmieri (4/16):  "In Cuba it is impossible to speak of a free press, based on the fact that it is prohibited for a private citizen to own any media outlet, because these may be owned exclusively by the government…  Today Guatemala must vote in Geneva, and if the government wants to become an accomplice to Castro it will vote against a resolution presented by Nicaragua...or it will abstain.”


“Castro Helped Portillo’s Decision”


Nationalistic and often anti-American afternoon La Hora ran a column by editor Oscar Clemente Marroquin stating (4/15):  “In the past, when (Guatemalan) President (Alfonso) Portillo made the decision to vote against Cuba in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, he did so because of relatively friendly pressure from the United States… In the present circumstances, the U.S. Embassy in our country has not acted with the diplomatic reserve customary in these cases. In a public and open way it has exerted pressure at a time when it is evident that the Guatemalan government must bend over backward to be able to change the decertification (of its drug cooperation) that causes so much damage to our country.”


“Conspirators’ Silence”


Moderate, leading Prensa Libre weekly editorialist Jose Raul Gonzalez Merlo asserted (4/15): "What happened in Cuba is nothing new.  It has been happening for more than 40 years and everyone knows it and says nothing.… If for one second these people would put themselves in the place of Cuban political prisoners and feel what it feels like to be imprisoned for speaking what they feel or they think.  Or they would consider that the prisoner could be their husband, their mother, daughter or brother.  Then they would march in a campaign calling for international solidarity.…  But in the case of Cuba.… they rather ‘not intervene in matters of a sovereign nation’...the ultimate show of hypocrisy.”


“Stalinist Trials in Communist Cuba”


In his column in influential morning El Periodico Jorge Palmieri noted (4/15):  "Portillo’s administration is angry with Washington because of decertification (on counter-narcotics cooperation). In reprisal, Vice President Reyes traveled to Havana to visit Fidel and later, Foreign Minister Edgar Gutierrez welcomed his Cuban counterpart (to Guatemala), demonstrating with this that everything he has fought for regarding human rights does not apply to the Cuban dictatorship.  In order to demonstrate to the world it couldn’t care less how the Human Rights Commission in Geneva votes, the Cuban dictatorship has recently tried almost 100 dissidents, including many journalists, whose only crime is not to agree with Castro.”


“The Hunt in Cuba”


Sunday editor Haroldo Shetemul argued in moderate, leading Prensa Libre (4/13): "No regime can justifiably institute censure and crime; to support it and keep quiet would be to allow these despicable acts.  That is why I consider it necessary for the U.N. to approve the visit of a Human Rights observer in Cuba to verify the situation on the island.”


“Unanimous Censure to Castro’s Regime”


In its main editorial, Prensa Libre stressed (4/14): “The free, democratic, and civilized world...was shocked, outraged and disappointed by the execution in Cuba of three people who tried to hijack a boat last April 2.…  This heinous crime, which motivated the world’s unanimous condemnation, must bring the leaders of democracies together to censure this dreadful regime, because its existence, in this day and age, is a shameful insult to humanity.” 


“No More Tolerance for Fidel Castro”


Conservative, business-oriented Siglo Veintiuno commented (4/12): “The series of detentions and sentences against those who oppose the dictatorial regime of Fidel Castro in the last weeks has paled in comparison to yesterday’s execution of three people captured while trying to leave the island on a boat, something that has shocked the world and demonstrates the irrationality that characterizes the socialist leader…  These swift executions demand a firm attitude by the community of nations in the next vote by the U.N. Human Rights Commission that will take place in Geneva, Switzerland.”


“Cuba and Human Rights”


Influential morning El Periodico ran an op-ed by staff columnist Gonzalo de Villa (4/11):  “In the next few days the United Nations Commission on Human Rights will vote on the state of human rights in Cuba....  The pressure from the United States will be colossal in requesting Guatemala to vote against Cuba, and following this vote, important consequences will come.  Cuba, for its part, does not dare to ask for a yes and will settle for abstention.… The simple question is:  Are there advances for the respect of human rights in Cuba?  The simple answer is no.  If the matter to consider was pleasing the United States is more important for Guatemala than pleasing Cuba, the answer is yes, like it or not.  If the question was, does Guatemala owe gratitude to Cuba for the presence of Cuban doctors, the answer is also yes.  Now, if the final question is whether many countries lack the moral authority to condemn Cuba, the answer would also be yes.  But we must remember, in all honesty, what the question is:  Are there advances for the respect of human rights in Cuba?  With the same honesty we must answer, despite political calculations that twist lies until they seem true.”


NICARAGUA: "U.S. Is Like Cuban Regime"


An op-ed in leftist El Nuevo Diario claimed (4/15):  "Those who cultivate hypocrisy,   with no compassion or love for life and plenty of political opportunism, pronounce themselves against the Cuban cruelty with the same ink with which they write congratulations to the empire for its  'victory' over Iraq, even though there is plenty of evidence that it achieved the 'victory' through destroying the lives of hundreds of children and adults, as well as a large part of the historical and cultural patrimony of the country"


PANAMA: "Iraq And Cuba: Double Standards"


Conservative El Panama America editorialized (4/16):  "The double political standard of certain organizations and people are shown in their attitudes toward the Iraq war and the executions and imprisonments in Cuba.  Those critics of the U.S. military intervention in Iraq have been freely expressing themselves everywhere...however, we note that these same organizations and anti-U.S. critics have kept silent on what is happening Cuba.… We reproach the economic blockade to Cuba, which suffocates its people, as well as the persecution of dissidents and journalists by the regime that rules them."


"Fidel Once Again"


Sensationalist tabloid Critica Libre observed (4/11):  "The world clock never stops.  Times are changing...but in Cuba there seems to be no room for liberty...the government violates all civil, political and economic rights, including the brutal decision to imprison Cubans involved in Plan Varela.… For Cubans, world organizations have no credibility."


PARAGUAY:  "Vote Against The Dictator"


A staff writer commentary in left-leaning Asuncion Ultima Hora  criticizing Fidel Castro and urging the Paraguayan government to demand a UNCHR representative be allowed into Cuba stated (4/10): "After this brutal blow to human rights -- that reminds so many of us of the days of the Tyranosaurus (Stroessner) and his Law 209 -- one is obliged to universally condemn Castro's government."


VENEZUELA:  "The Iraqi Mirror"


Leading conservative daily of record El Universal ran an op-ed by Antonio Cova stating (4/9): "Precisely when the British and the Americans seem to be completely absorbed by the problem to get rid of the Iraqi tyranny, the oldest and most obstinate tyranny of the Caribbean insists on demonstrating that it neither learns nor gives in....  [N]othing is more terrifying for a tyranny than the spread of the opinion that it can no longer administer terror. It is precisely at this point that we connect to Fidel Castro’s dictatorship in Cuba.... And what can be said about his protégé, Chavez? In such difficult times for maintaining an already-established, self-styled revolutionary tyranny, the efforts - out of time and out of place- to 'install' a new one where today’s victorious empire has never tolerated a challenge of such nature, can be, frankly, suicide.  That’s why the advice, attributed to Castro, to solve the current Venezuelan impasse by speeding up the revolutionary process is, by all means, a very risky endeavor, even more amid an ever-increasing opposition and the most serious economic crisis in the history of the country....  Therefore I insist: the only future left for Chavism is to accept free elections as soon as possible, since that is the only thing that will save it from extermination."




BELGIUM:  "Abuses Of The Cuban Regime"


In the wake of the recent Cuban crackdown on Cuban opponents and in light of the ongoing meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Olivier Mouton editorialized in independent La Libre Belgique (4/15): “Within the UN, where many Southern countries support the Cuban ‘resistance’ to American unilateralism, discussions are likely to be tense. Yet, there cannot be another choice than to very clearly condemn Fidel Castro’s recent decisions. Criticism that one can address to Washington can in no way legitimize the abuses of the Cuban regime....As far as the EU -- and Belgium in particular -- is concerned, it must clearly indicate that the reconciliation that recently began cannot continue with a country that so blatantly flouts the most elementary human rights.”


IRELAND:"It Is Up To The UN To Try To Bring Justice To The World's Worst Regime"


The centrist weekly Sunday Tribune reflected (4/13): "Fidel Castro has, for many years, been portrayed as some kind of victim. While there is little justification for the level of sanctions imposed on Cuba by the United States, there is an urgent and desperate need for the world to take a long, hard look at Cuba other than in holiday brochures....  Cuba is run by a self-serving and brutal dictator: Castro's brutality may not be as overt as that of Saddam Hussein, but brutality it still is....It is not the sanctions alone that cause the hardship for the Cuban people...We do not, however bad things are, need the United States doing to those countries what it did and is doing to Iraq. What we do need is a strong United Nations. But thanks to American impatience to get to war, it may just be too late to hope for that."


CZECH REPUBLIC: Reasons to Demonstrate


Pavel Verner in the center left daily Pravo (4/11): "Demonstrators for world peace are terribly disappointed by the Iraqis who are not opposeing the invadors as predicted. There are other reasons why people should go out into the streets now - the mad dictator in Cuba has just staged a judicial farce with 78 dissidents and independent journalists. Why don't these advocates of human rights go to the streets over this matter? Or are protests against injustice limited only against the Americans?" 


PORTUGAL: "Dead For All Af Us"


In a signed editorial, influential moderate-left Público, editor-in-chief José Manuel Fernandes wrote (4/9):  "The search for the truth of this war is being paid in a great deal of blood.  Journalists' blood....  Their sacrifice provides us with a tragic dimension of the conflict and, at the same time, expresses the power of the democracies we live in....  It is these legions of journalists [in Iraq] that allows us to have, in the Western press, a plural vision of events -- exactly the opposite of what is happening in the Iraqi 'media', where the only 'truth' are the bald-faced lies of the Minister of Information.   But these journalists that have fallen are not the only victims these days of the freedom to inform.  On the other side of the world, in Cuba, an abominable regime took advantage of the media distraction provoked by the war to arrest journalists and sentence them to heavy prison terms.... It is at times like this, when some of us are dying while doing what they most want to do, and others are arrested for the crime of having an opinion, that we best understand the superiority of a democracy.  And how democracy, at times, also demands its tribute in sacrifice and blood."


SWEDEN:  "One Less Tyrant In The World"


The conservative Stockholm morning Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) editorialized (4/11): "There will likely be other battles between democracy and dictatorships...Saddam Hussein likely will not be the last tyrant who must leave his palace in a hurry. Not only in Cuba, Iran, and North Korea do oppressors and their supporting troops have all the reason to be worried. The world needs more 9 Aprils and less 9/11s."




CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Castro The Only Winner Of Cuba's Revolution"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (4/13):  "Dr. Castro's paranoia that the U.S. will stage an Iraq-style invasion or infiltrate his communist regime with spies and bring about its collapse is undiminished four decades after he took power.  To ensure his political survival, the veteran revolutionary is flouting fundamental human rights norms....  Castro and the U.S. have been just as stubborn in their standoff.  The U.S. still encourages asylum seekers from the island and refuses to lift a trade embargo.  Cuba, despite grinding poverty, resists the pull of the global economy and uses its police force to ensure opponents are silenced....  It is time Dr. Castro and the U.S. ended their war.  Concessions can easily be made so that Cuba's people can take their rightful place in the world community."




PAKISTAN:  "Iraq Is Finished, Now On To North Korea And Cuba"


An op-ed by columnist Madhav Gadkari in the Mumbai edition of left-of-center Marathi Dainik Lokmat judged (4/10):  "War is America's biggest industry.  It is obvious that America needs to keep the war fires going at different places around the globe to sustain its economy.  The Iraq war is almost over ... The aggression against Iraq is just one of a series by the U.S. which is aimed at establishing its hegemony over the world and also to establish its control over sources of crude oil ... America will not stop now.  Its next target is North Korea and then Fidel Castro's Cuba.  The U.S. chooses smaller nations to demonstrate its military might.  However, when the U.S. targets North Korea, China will have to take a stand.  China will in all probably throw its weight behind North Korea and take on the American might....  America has now arrogated itself the right to decide who shouldrule which country."    


Commentary from ...
Middle East
East Asia
South Asia
Western Hemisphere

This site is produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State. Links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Back To Top

blue rule
IIP Home  |  Issue Focus Home