International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

May 15, 2003

May 15, 2003





**  By its "timid" resolution against Cuba, the UNCHR is enabling a "hideous tyranny."


**  While the strongest criticism of Castro emanated from conservative outlets, even erstwhile Castro sympathizers on the Latin American left could not excuse his recent abuses.


**  Liberal Latin and European papers were especially careful to note that censuring the Castro regime was not doing the U.S. a favor but "showing solidarity" with the Cuban people.


** Argentine, Brazilian and Chilean writers found their government's "ambivalence" shameful.




UNCHR decision 'cowardly,' Cuba's re-election to commission 'improper'-- Observers were dismayed that after Cuba's "worst crackdown" in a decade, the UNCHR merely "limited itself" to the same requirement previously ignored by Castro rather than accept the Costa Rican amendment.  They shared Chile's conservative El Mercurio's view that the resolution might make sense if "the accused government had any intention of cooperating with the UN."  The organization's "usual acrobatics" plus the "favor the Castro regime enjoys" in some countries, Spain's left-of-center El Pais explained, "resulted in a vote that can only satisfy Castro."


Castro 'betrayed' the revolution-- Papers in the hemisphere and in Europe widely condemned the "brutality" of Castro's repression and decided that "in this day and age" Cuba was nothing but "an approved tyranny."  Dismissing him as "anachronistic" and "paranoid," writers claimed Castro was responsible for the "final blow" to his own legacy.  Capturing the common disillusionment, Ecuador's leading centrist El Comercio said "the stodgy and criminal stupidity of Castro has killed the myth."  Observers also noticed that Castro's "ever faithful" on the left could no longer remain "silent" sympathizers of a group that remains in power in the name of "a betrayed revolution."  Writers insisted, however, that damning Castro was not a "pro-yankee" stance.  While Brazil's center-right O Globo declared "Bush has invented the preventive war," and "Fidel has invented the preventive execution," conservative El Panama America held: "We cannot condemn the Colossus of the North and keep silent over what Castro did."


Hemisphere leaders criticized for 'ambivalence'--  Argentine editorials portrayed Duhalde's "craven" position as part of an election strategy to demonstrate "non-alignment" with the U.S. which could prove "damaging."  The English-language Buenos Aires Herald noted that Duhalde missed a "simple opportunity" to break an "alarming run of anti-U.S. decisions" since the default.  Brazilian papers judged Lula's "embarrassing silence" a mistake and a "morally wrong and unsustainable policy," with center-left Jornal do Brasil asserting Lula had "lost an opportunity to be on the side of democracy."  While Chilean papers considered the Lagos vote a "contradiction," a Canadian daily faulted Chretien for his "business as usual" response. Meanwhile, Mexico's left-leaning La Jornada gave Fox credit for "renewing the fundamental principles" of respect for human rights and reinforcement of multilateral organizations. 

EDITOR:  Irene Marr


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 70 reports from 23 countries, April 18-May 14.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




CANADA:  "Castro's Game Up"


Peter Hadekel argued in the right-of-center Montreal Gazette (Internet version) (4/24):  "With Canadian foreign policy listed as missing in action since the Iraq hostilities began, you'd think Canada would be looking for some issue, any issue, to assert itself....  Let's talk about Cuba, and what Canada can do to head off the alarming human-rights crisis in that country.... Ottawa has the credibility in Havana that Washington lacks, so the Chretien government should be making a particularly forceful case against the recent wave of repression....  Yet Prime Minister Chretien's response is to shrug and declare business as usual....  Castro has clearly hoped that the rest of the world would be distracted by the war in Iraq and wouldn't make a fuss over his crude squelching of dissent....   But when people are prosecuted for surfing the Internet or for possessing such books as George Orwell's Animal Farm, it's time for civilized governments to make a stand.  Canada's 'strong' protests in diplomatic channels are not going to be enough.  We should be working with the European and Latin nations Castro deals with to deliver a strong message: that it will not be business as usual until Cubans get the basic freedoms they deserve."


"Castro Is At It Again"


Editorialist Serge Truffaut in the liberal Le Devoir opined (4/18): "During the past month, Castro's regime has orchestrated the biggest wave of repression Cuba has seen in the past ten years. Nearly 80 dissidents have been arrested, others have been shot....  But the Human Rights Commission has reacted timidly if not cowardly...with a resolution that mentions neither the wave of arrests nor the thousands of political prisoners but limits itself to what it requested a year ago, namely that the government accept the presence of an emissary....  All of this repression is taking place while the country is in the grasp of one of the most severe economic crisis...thousands of people are living in misery. It is only natural that they ask for changes and improvements. But once more, Castro uses force to repress them."


ARGENTINA:  "U.S. Asks Kirchner To Move His Position Closer To U.S."


Mara Laudonia, Washington-based correspondent for business-financial El Cronista wrote (5/12): "[T]he Bush administration is carefully following Kirchner's next steps regarding the US/Argentine bilateral relationship. The truth is that so far Washington has not liked the tone of Kirchner's election campaign.... According to Miguel Diaz, head of the Mercosur Project at the Center of Strategic and International studies...Kirchner's challenge is 'to place himself in a position of being helped by the USG, and this starts with a deal with the IMF,' in order to remove uncertainty about the economic program....  The human rights situation in Cuba is an issue on which Kirchner will have to make a public statement. But Duhalde's decision - as per Kirchner's request - to abstain in the recent UN voting alarmed many in the U.S....  Also, the new prevailing atmosphere in Washington should not be disregarded.  According to Diaz, 'if the countries are not in line with us, our president could damage the US relationship with them.'"


"Foreign Policy Decisions"


An editorial in daily-of-record La Nacion read (5/2): "A few days ago, the Duhalde administration took a negative step when it avoided a condemnation of Cuba for its human rights violations at the UN Human Rights Commission.... It seemed a measured related to an election strategy aimed at producing a gesture of non-alignment with the U.S. while the war in Iraq was being waged.  Neither election issues nor selfish political interests should govern foreign policy standards. It is necessary to make prevail ethical, Republican and democratic principles... along with the deepest national interest when defining our foreign policy."


"Controversial Re-election Of Cuba On UN Human Rights Commission"


Alberto Armendariz, New York-based correspondent for daily-of-record La Nacion wrote (4/30): "The re-election of Cuba to be part of the UN Human Rights Commission sparked great indignation in the USG now that the Castro regime faces harsh international criticism due to the abuses committed against domestic political opponents. 'Having Cuba again at the UN Human Rights Commission is like appointing Al Capone to be in charge of a bank's security ' said Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesperson. This is an improper action that does not serve the human rights cause in Cuba or at the UN.... This will likely unleash greater distance between Washington and the UN, whose relations have already been fairly damaged while handling the crisis with Iraq."


"A Cowardly Vote"


Alberto Benegas Lynch, vice-president of the Hayek Foundation, wrote in business-financial Infobae (4/21) "(Argentina's abstention) is a cowardly vote based on absurd justifications. The Argentine President mentioned that Cuba is a 'small country, suffering an embargo.' We must underscore that the U.S. embargo is a mistake because, despite triangular operations, it gives the Cuban dictator an excuse to justify the impoverished situation of its people. Duhalde also said he voted the way he did due to the unilateral war in Iraq. Again, the President overlooks the real dimension of the problem. In other columns I expressed that I don’t endorse the war against Iraq for other reasons than the President's, but this has nothing to do with the Cuba vote. It's not a matter of doing the U.S. a favor. The issue is showing solidarity towards a people who have been suffering the curtailment of their rights. We would be doing ourselves a favor, because by voting in support of the Cuban people we would be defending our right too....  In the case of the Cuban people, their human rights are systematically trampled."


"Solidarity with Cuba?"


An editorial in liberal, English-language Buenos Aires Herald read (4/19): "Many critics of Duhalde's abstention decision, who direly mutter that Argentina will suffer massive U.S. reprisals and could be blacklisted for years or even decades, have exaggerated the consequences.  In fact, Washington merely sees Duhalde's craven call as confirming its low opinion of a president who has only a month to go and will retain an open mind as fast as the next government goes. Nevertheless, Duhalde's decision remains damaging because he thus missed a simple opportunity to break an alarming run of anti-U.S. decisions since default 15 months ago. That default was extremely hard to avoid at the time...and it would have been patently absurd to expect Duhalde's caretaker government to take Argentina into the highly unpopular Iraq war on the U.S. side but voting against Cuba would have been completely painless by comparison.  And yet Duhalde missed this simple chance to show some real solidarity with the Cuban people."


"Argentina's Position On Human Rights"


An editorial in leading Clarin stated (4/19):  "Argentina's abstention resumes the country's traditional position within Latin America.  It's also consistent with the idea of a more independent foreign policy vis-à-vis recent years' alignment with the U.S. in an attempt to obtain a preferential alliance with the superpower....  This, under no circumstance, means that Argentina will disregard the serious human rights violations that took place in Cuba or its need for democratization, demanded each year.... There's been an obvious erosion of human rights in Cuba.... Another unavoidable and key aspect of the Cuba vote was the war against Iraq and U.S. unilateral offensive.... In the case of Cuba, given the closeness and high exposure of U.S. foreign policy decisions, the possibility of avoiding violent solutions or cruel procedures in the future is an issue of concern....  We need to place these circumstantial factors in their real dimension and put foreign policy decisions in the right place: bearing in mind national and regional interests, acting in a coherent and autonomous manner, and defending those permanent and shared principles in international fora."


"Human Rights: UN's Lukewarm Vote Against Cuba"


Leading Clarin stated (4/18): "Yesterday, and by a narrow margin, the UNCHR in Geneva passed a moderate resolution against Cuba, in which it makes no reference to the recent detention of opponents of Castro's regime, nor to the recent killing of dissidents. The document urges Havana to 'receive the UN's special High Commissioner, Christine Chanet, and to provide all the necessary means which will help her carry out her job of 'informing on the island's human rights situation.'  But...Cuba rejected this possibility....   In Havana's opinion, Washington was defeated via a last minute amendment introduced by Costa Rica, rejected by a vast majority. This initiative wanted a strong anti-Cuba vote and the rejection of the recent wave of arrests of dissidents, in addition to their liberation. But the amendment was rejected by 31 negative votes, 15 positive ones and 7 abstentions."


BRAZIL:  "The Remedy Is Worse Than The Disease"


Byline by journalist Zuenir Ventura in right-of-center O Globo (5/14): "It would be better if Fidel Castro had kept his mouth shut than have us listen to his excuse about the death penalty imposed to three of his government opponents.  The silence would have not given their lives back, but would be less offensive to our intelligence and the memory of the dead whom he blames for what has occurred, as is common for killers who always claim self-defense.

As the bombs in Iraq that have been shot to make terrorists stop from threatening the U.S. and end up by amputating a boy's arms, the dissidents have been killed so that Cuba would not be attacked by the Americans.  Bush has invented the preventive war;  Fidel has invented the preventive execution. The dictator took advantage of the occasion to complain about writer José Saramago, a former ally who broke up with him because of the episode. Fidel has said, 'it really hurts he hasn't understood the reality in which Cuba and the world live in.' What may have really hurt was to know that the Nobel Prize winner has expressed a whole generation feeling about the end of a dream and of innocence.  Oh, yes.  Fidel has also expressed his 'annoyance with death penalty' He is against it.  Just imagine if he were in favor of it."


"There Is No Dictatorship In Cuba"


A byline by Cuban Ambassador to Brazil Jorge Lezcano Perez ran in right-of-center O Globo (5/12):  "During 44 years, the Cuban people have faced systematically sabotage and terrorist attacks organized by Cuban contra-revolutionary groups in Miami, with support or tolerance of the CIA and USG which have already caused the death of 3,478 Cubans and mutilation of another 2,099. The Cuban revolution...has taught the Cuban people to read rather than to believe, and has transformed them into one of the most educated people of the world.... Therefore, one cannot fool the Cuban people...nor make it believe that Capitalism is the world's salvation.  Neither can anyone give them lessons of democracy nor to teach them what is a dictatorial government from a distance.  No one should ignore that this educated people is also the same people which the government gave arms and trained so that Cuba will never again be ruled by a dictatorship from within or abroad.  For all those reasons, to assert naively or not, that there's a dictatorship in Cuba is to seriously offend the Cuban people."


"Market Reserve"


A byline by Merval Pereira, Executive Editor of right-of-center O Globo noted (5/11): "Today, with President Bush's hegemonic policy and the FTAA negotiations promising to be very tough, Brazilian foreign policy is in a precarious balance. The Cuba case is an example of how members of the PT can be emotional and put themselves at the service of a government and be mistaken.  Due to the embarrassment of having to criticize a country that once protected them as political exiles...the Foreign Ministry has put itself at a dubious service of the abusive repression of Castro against dissidents. Instead of criticizing the attack on human rights and rejecting the alleged threat of an American invasion of the island...the GOB remains on sitting on the fence....The Cold War that persists between the Cuban government and the U.S. produces a type of tunnel of time where logic doesn't have too much room."


"More Realism Toward Cuba"


Columnist Miguel Jorge commented in independent Jornal da Tarde (5/10): "It is obvious that the most recent case of dissidents...who were summarily and arbitrarily executed, must be toughly and immediately condemned by the international community.  Such a condemnation must be even greater because the Castro regime has demonstrated that it is light-years behind a democracy.... But if practically no one believes that Cuba lives in a dictatorship, there are fewer doubts that the U.S. posture in regards to Havana has always been an ambiguous one. Before the ongoing economic embargo, the U.S. administrations 'protected' the Cuban regime and even hid its problems when this attitude was in accordance to their interest.... Washington now plans to reinforce the economic embargo if the measure does not imply in risks to the political support of the Cuban community in the U.S., which is in the center of its domestic policy."      


"Viva Fidel"


Columnist Joao Mellao Neto held in center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo (5/9): "Something is going badly, very badly, with the Lula da Silva administration's foreign policy. Our president has already made four serious mistakes after only four months in power.... The problem is certainly the disastrous influence exerted by a small group entrenched in power, whose leader is the president's international affairs adviser, Marco Antonio Garcia.... His geopolitical strategy is singular and peremptory: those who are enemies of the U.S. are friends of Brazil, full stop.... While Fidel executes and arrests, a fascinated Mr. Garcia and an enchanted group of Brazilian intellectuals can think only to applaud."


"Fidel Is Afraid He May Be Next"


Center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo senior reporter Lourival Santanna reported from Havana (5/4): "Fidel Castro is nervous. After watching what happened to Saddam Hussein, he fears that his time is coming. Careful in his analysis of each U.S. step, Fidel sees signs everywhere.... The loyalty of each Cuban citizen is a matter of life or death, in his own words. This is why Fidel executed three people and imprisoned 73 dissidents.... It is impossible to live decently in Cuba without committing any kind of offense.... The police usually close their eyes to the minor crimes that everyone commits. However, frightened by the executions and imprisonments, the Cubans are cornered.... It was Fidel Castro himself who made the connection between the wave of repression he has generated and the Bush administration's appetite for changing regimes that do not please it.... Baghdad's quick fall almost without a fight has disconcerted Fidel, who is now talking about 'one hundred years' war' in case the U.S. invades Cuba.... The more Fidel tries to show that Cuba is not Iraq, the more his rhetoric resembles that of Saddam."


 "An Immoral Vote"


Center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo observed (4/28):  "Foreign Minister Celso Amorim's efforts to explain the GOB's reasons for abstaining from condemning Cuba for human rights violations have not convinced anyone....  Cuba has been ruled for 43 years by a dictatorship that does not respect human rights....  The GOB rejected two opportunities--at the UN and the OAS--to correct a wrong and morally unsustainable policy....  Amorim said that Brazil prefers to maintain its policy of 'constructive engagement,' a policy that has not produced results for four decades....  What really highlights the mental confusion that has dominated those who formulate Brazil's foreign policy is the argument that three people were executed and 78 sentenced to extended imprisonment because the U.S. embargo on Cuba has created a 'psychology of siege' and 'strengthens more rigid trends' in the Cuban regime. I n other words, Fidel has oppressed his people because the U.S. does not maintain business relations with Cuba.  [Statements like this] underestimate the intelligence of the Brazilian people."


"Silence Gives Consent"         


 Antonio Sepulveda contended in center-left Jornal do Brasil (4/25):  "The brutal execution of three fugitives from the so-called 'Cuban paradise,' carried out in during the vacuum of the Iraq war, gives us the exact dimension of the brutality of Fidel Castro's methods.... One expected on April 16, in Geneva--during the vote on Cuba's flagrant lack of respect to human rights--that Brazilian diplomacy would raise a voice to protest--as Lula did against deposing Saddam Hussein by the Anglo-American coalition.  That was the moment for the PT-government to prove their horror and censorship were not exclusively directed against the U.S....  Nevertheless, and to our shame, Brazil abstained.  Lula da Silva's option was an embarrassing silence in view of the hideous acts of the tyrannical regime prevailing in Cuba.  Lula da Silva has lost an excellent opportunity to be on the side of democracy and respect of human rights.  With that attitude of 'pals' he showed the world the tender conviction that 'that's what friends are for.'  Human rights violations are repulsive in any situation.  It's an intrinsic part of all dictatorships, no matter what the ignominious ideology that supports it.  Whoever is silent gives consent and feels eager to applaud." 



"Lula's Foreign Policy And Democracy In Cuba"


Business-oriented Valor Economico opined (4/22): "Public apathy and the inaction with which the GOB has reacted to recent Fidel Castro's authoritarian moves in Cuba have been disappointing. Since many in Lula da Silva administration have privileged access to Castro, they should be acting at all levels to dissuade him from adopting anti-democratic practices and arguing about the need to ensure that Cubans have the right of free speech and of opposing the government. What is expected from the Lula da Silva administration is an effort to liberalize Castro's regime.... It is on the American continent, especially in South America, that GOB action is necessary and relevant....  Inaction by the Lula da Silva administration in this regard will be deplorable."


"Cuba Has Punished Crimes, Not Ideas"


Cuban Ambassador to Brazil, Jorge Lescano Perez, had an article in center-left Jornal do Brasil (4/21):  "The increase of such hijackings follows Washington's plan to stimulate illegal exits from Cuba, to promote terrorist acts against those crafts and create conditions that allows the ending of the migratory accord in force between the two countries.... This explains why Cuban legislation has to be so tough with certain crimes that could endanger our country's national security. In any place of the world kidnapping and hostage taking by armed criminals is considered hideous crime.  Why shouldn't Cuba judge those facts and condemn the responsible ones according to its own laws?"


"A Long Story"


Right-of-center O Globo runs byline by Luis Fernando Verissimo (4/21): "Cuba is an obsession of the right and a challenge to the Brazilian left.... For those unable to rationalize and forgive the contradictions of Cuba, the embarrassment over news such as imprisoning dissidents and now executions gets inserted in the old question of disagreement between the ideal and its perversion or, as [the Portuguese writer] Saramago asserted, up to what point can an ideal tolerate being warped?  It's a long story, this disappointment over the libertarian and egalitarian idea and its bad consequences.... Many Brazilian intellectuals force themselves to develop variations on the theme to be able to reconcile their faith in the promise of redemption through Communism with the resulting Soviet totalitarianism -- in other words, preserve the ideal through misinterpreting it.  But for some, sooner than for others, the time has come.  The lesson for those who want to continue believing without being disappointed may be to simplify the illusion: To commit themselves with the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, the basic French [principles], but disconnect from the terror and always keep skepticism handy."


"Rooting For The Tyrants"


Center-left Jornal do Brasil ran a byline by businessman, Orlando Correa (4/21): "The veto power of current UN. member countries, U.S., England, France, Russia and China, has already concealed many criminal actions and made possible, in practice, that the UN. were inoperative in the crises of the last 50 years: Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Suez, Tibet, Cambodia, Rwanda, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Kosovo, Israel/Palestine, Iraq, etc.  The vetoing countries refuse to change the rules and at the same time were always ready to accuse their peers of discretionary unilateralism according to their interests in the crisis.  Those five apostles are above laws dictated by the Council, but sometimes cynically demand that the U.N. sponsor a determined action.  The UN role historically of omission and/or inaction in a crisis, doesn't allow the argument that the lack of approval by the Council to be taken very seriously. We have to analyze the crisis through other aspects.  Here, inconceivably, we start rooting for tyrants against democratically established governments, who are forced to account for their acts, in countries with free public opinion, critical press with the tradition of fighting for liberties and human rights....  We root for the Cuban dictator, in power for 44 years in a police state, with 150,000 executions, apologist of prostitution and still arresting dissidents.  Criticizing positions of free and democratic states should occur.  What's hard is to root for tyrants."


MEXICO:  “Galeano, Dietrich And Martí”


Octavio Rodríguez Araujo wrote in left-of-center Jornada (5/8):  “Cuba obtained its independence from Spain in 1899, from the U.S. three times in 1902, 1934 and 1959.  Do the Cuban people need a party of State to achieve unity?  I am not sure that regimes that have a single party have been a guarantor of independence, national defense and self-determination.  But, I am certain that the Cuban revolution achieved its goal of creating a new country, as Martí said in the book 'Bases del Partido Revolucionario Cubano,' this country will defend with its life its independence which has cost a lot, no matter whether there exists a party.  Is it really necessary, as Pérez Roque said on April 9, for a single party to defend the revolution?  Is it not enough for the people themselves to defend it?”


"Congruence As A Challenge To Mexican Foreign Policy"


Jorge Santibáñez Romellón wrote in left-of-center Jornada (4/28):  “Mexico voted recently, in the UN, in favor of a resolution to send a mission to Cuba to verify the respect of human rights there.  With this attitude, Mexico renewed two of its fundamental principles: the respect of human rights and the reinforcement of the role of the multilateral organisms.  The reaction of the Cuban government, presented by its Chancellor, contains two elements: first, they stated Mexico is a servile country of the U.S., second, they condemned the violations of human rights against Mexican immigrants due to American migratory policy.  With this action the Cuban government tries to deviate from the point....  The USG can argue that its migratory policy defends its sovereignty, however, one could prove that none of those immigrants are a real danger for its internal security or its sovereignty.  The USG can also argue that its migratory policy is not focused on Mexico....  In theory, it applies to everybody, but in the practice it is focused on Mexico....  If a country violates the human rights of another country, and if that is a systematic practice, we should condemn it even if it is our neighbor and main commercial partner.  Perhaps the Cuban Chancellor is right.”


"Fidel’s Fears"


Myriam Vachez commented in El Norte  (4/25):  “Castro is convinced that, after Iraq, Pres. Bush could have Cuba in sight: proof is that while in the last years Cuban government has multiplied its 'goodwill' gestures towards the U.S. and the American people, Bush's hawks accused Cuba of developing a chemical weapons program.  Meanwhile the U.S. ambassador in the Dominican Republic utters a barely concealed threat....  It is sad Fidel Castro has taken such barbaric decisions.  It is sad, above all, because with this he is maybe provoking what he wants to avoid.”


"Cuba And The Death Penalty"


Jose Steinsleger argued in left-of-center Jornada (4/21):  "The open or covert U.S. war against Cuba forces us to ask if there ever was a wartime situation in which an injured nation has offered shelter and legitimacy to national groups making deals with the enemy.  In this sense, the USG has its wartime law, such as the Trading with the Enemy and Cuba has its own.  And who are these dissidents?  Some hope to perfect socialism and discuss its own internal problems…others hope to end the Revolution and turn Cuba into a neocolonial state like Puerto Rico and Central American nations…historical experience indicates that imperialism and the Christian Liberal-Conservative Right is anathema to the social achievements of a people, while social-democracy has specialized in burying them."


“Castro’s Fan”  


Javier Livas argued in independent El Norte (4/21): "What is happening in Cuba should worry us (Mexico) due to a double motive.  First, Mexico requires taking a condemnatory and firm position when human rights are violated and what we see is hesitant and weak posturing....  Second, the positions of Castro’s Mexican fans are indicative of the long road yet to travel towards our own democratic culture...however, Cubans, don’t only lack their liberty, but have also lost their hope of getting freedom....  There is no impediment  for Mexico to take an assertive an open position condemning human rights violations performed by the dictator Fidel Castro."


"Bush And Castro"


Ludolfo Paramio stressed in nationalist Milenio (4/20):  "Cuba has always received exceptional treatment from Mexico and Spain.  This is product of their resistance to U.S. pressures, more than their recognition to the Cuban regime's virtues.  But now it seems as if that sympathies for Cuba are favoring a group that remains in power in the name of a betrayed revolution, at least since 1969, and Castro is deliberately trying to copy the more sinister details of the last years of Franco.  It would be better to mark distance than to wait for Fidel's death so that a new dream awakens, revealing a nightmare for Cubans of flesh and bone."


CUBA:  "This Cuba That Enlightens Us"


Carlos Aznarez penned this editorial in official Communist Party daily Granma (Internet Version) (4/22):  "No term has ever been more appropriate than the term used by Commander Fidel Castro to describe the attitude of those who vote against Cuba [in the UN Human Rights Commission] but at the same time choose to ignore the continuous criminal actions perpetrated by the United States and its allies: boot-licker.  This is exactly what they are, no more and no less....    Now, in response to the new campaign launched against the island and as a result of their logical reaction against the domestic plotters...and those who over a span of 44 years have done everything possible, from Washington as well as from Florida, to undermine the people's resistance, the rebelliousness of the people...has risen up once again to confront the recent infamous vote taken at the Human Rights Commission of a non-existent institution known as the United Nations.  While they were busy condemning Cuba, the vast majority of peoples in Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia continued to line up alongside one of the few countries in the world (along with Bolivarian Venezuela) that dares to stand up to the hangman of the peoples of the world.  To fence Cuba in, make it look like a criminal, infiltrate it, and finally regain colonial power over it.  This is the underlying strategy behind all of the most recent actions taken by the Cuban-American mafia, its allies in Geneva, and those who on the international level have just finished the massacre of the Iraqi people."


CHILE:  "Relations With Cuba"


Conservative newspaper of record El Mercurio remarked (5/11):  "The Cuban government's repeated unfriendly acts toward Chile, the imprisonment of almost 80 Cubans...and the execution of three alleged kidnappers...are making relations with Cuba very difficult....  Relations with Cuba have been a source of permanent controversy given Cuba's persistent human rights violations and serious interference in Chile's internal affairs....  The exchange of ambassadors between Chile and Cuba cannot be seen as an endorsement of a regime that has deprived its people of basic rights for almost half a century, nor can it inhibit official complaints in response to interferences and offenses.... The repeated offenses on the part of the Cuban government should lead to a review of the level of our bilateral ties."


"The Obsession With Cuba"


An op-ed by Socialist Party Senator Alejandro Navarro, appeared in government-owned, editorially independent La Nacion (5/3):  "The U.S. has an obsession with Cuba....  What divine right authorizes U.S. presidents to harass Cuba for 44 years?...  Can Cuba, which has fewer inhabitants than Chile, be a threat to U.S. national security?  The threat for the world is not Cuba, Iraq, Syria, Venezuela, or Lula's Brazil.  The threat to the world comes from the one who acts as the world's savior...and will continue to be a threat as long as there is no international counterweight....  Washington has also said it cannot assure that there are no biological or chemical weapons in the island.  The question then becomes, 'Where are the chemical and biological weapons that Iraq had?'....  (Some countries) have refused to accept that Cuba is doing what few countries in the world dare do: be themselves....  Let Cuba follow its own destiny....  It's never good business to align with the weak--furthermore, it's a risk--but in life there are some risks worth taking.  Cuba is one of them."


"Relations With Cuba, Not The Best"


Conservative newspaper-of-record El Mercurio (4/25):  "Minister Soledad Alvear admitted that relations with Cuba 'are not at their best.'   Asked about Chile willingness to discuss human rights in the OAS, when it had a different stance on the matter, Alvear said:  "Because it is consistent with the position we had in Geneva.  Human rights are inherent to Chile's foreign policy.  This is why we approve the entry of an observer to the island and why - when the issue was discussed in the OAS - we did not avoid the subject, especially in view of the arrests and summary trials in the island."  Asked whether she was worried about U.S. 'disappointment' and Ambassador Brownfield's remarks that nothing has happened to modify this disappointment, Alvear said:  "It is evident that the United States would have preferred that we agreed with the resolution submitted to the UNSC.  But in a constructive spirit the government of Chile drafted a proposal that unfortunately did not prosper."


"Not Enough In Geneva"


Conservative Santiago newspaper-of-record El Mercurio editorialized (4/24):  "For over 40 years, the situation in Cuba has been one of a systematic violation of basic human rights....  Castro's regime deserves to be clearly condemned, as has been done repeatedly in the past with less extreme cases.  The resolution passed...would make sense if the accused government had any intention of cooperating with the UN....  But Cuba did not allow an observer last year and will not allow one this year either, which renders the resolution ineffective....  Chile voted in favor of the resolution, based on its concern over the trial of the dissidents and the absence of due process....  However, it abstained in the vote on Costa Rica's amendment....  Chile was an active co-author of the Universal Human Rights Declaration and an active member of all those instruments that have given the declaration expression, consequently cooperating in most difficult situations.  That contradicts the way it voted in Geneva."


"Diplomatic Crossroad"


Leading-circulation, popular, independent Santiago La Tercera (4/21): "Chile's ambivalence in regard to the vote on Cuba was because it needed to show the United States it is its ally -- which was also wink at Washington to move forward on the FTA -- while at the same time supporting coalition party allies, especially the Socialist Party, that oppose condemning Cuba.   The moderate resolution finally passed was a relief that allowed Chile to smooth the rough edges with Washington without damaging sensibilities in some sectors of the government."


"Resolutions On Cuba"


Conservative afternoon La Segunda editorialized (4/17): "The evidence provided by Castro himself has shown that the designation of a special observer is unnecessary.  The (Chilean) Congress' decision to favor a resolution explicitly condemning Cuba does not reflect only the moral opinion of our congress, but also the general public opinion."


COLOMBIA:  "Fidel In His Island"


Antonio Caballero argued in influential weekly Semana (5/7): "If [the left and the right] are criticizing him now it is not because they are shocked that he is ordering executions, something he has been doing all along.  Rather it's because they are disgusted that he is still doing something else that he has always done:  competing with the hegemonic power of the United States.  In whose name, rather against whose name, he himself exerts his local power:  if it were not for that enemy, Fidel would not exist.  He knows it and because of this is trying to say the the captures and deaths are Bush's fault, with the same cynicism that leads Bush to say that the Iraq deaths are Saddam's fault and would say tomorrow, after invading Cuba, that the deaths from that war were Fidel Castro's fault.   As there is no doubt that the imperial power of the United States poses a threat to Cuba: it always has, as it is for the rest of the world....  But I believe there are better ways than...jail.  Precisely with the very methods that Castro rejects: freedom.... The very same freedoms that Bush and his flock of fascists are dismantling not just around the world with bombs, but even in the United States by using 'patriotism,' the 'war against terrorism,' and in 'defense of national security.' The same arguments which Castro wields  for Cuba.   And for the same motives: because the enemy of freedom."  'Formal' freedoms? Yes...  But neither Bush nor Castro believes in them.  Jose Marti did.... The Founding Fathers did...  They believed int the possibility of freedom because they had confidence in the intelligence of people.  I do as well.  Bush and Fidel don't."


DOMINICAN REPUBLIC:  "Cubans At International Book Fair Not Independent"


Journalist and former Fernandez Administration Press Minister, Miguel Guerrero, commented in his column in conservative El Caribe (4/25):   “The Cuban Ambassador in the DR, a well-known Cuban intelligence agent who for years led the ill-fated American Division, said that the Cuban journalist and writers condemned...for the crime of criticizing the revolution and opposing it, are not dissidents, but ‘contra-revolutionaries.’  If one coldly analyzes this remark, one concludes that this sinister character is right, since there is not a chance of dissent in a regime that is already 44 years old.  That is why all the intellectuals sent by Castro to represent him at the fair are unconditional servers of tyranny.... That intellectual trash has used the most ridiculous and empty arguments to justify the illegal and unfair imprisonment of tens of its own colleagues.... The intellectual Castro cast of this fair, which just began, will make it a forum for propaganda....  The truth is that, if this fair had been dedicated to the U.S., which it well deserves, its venue would have been full of posters against the Iraq war.  It is a pity that an event of writers and academics has focused on silencing the reality in which the people live whom they are trying to honor at this event.”


ECUADOR: "Enough Is Enough"


An opinion column by Fausto Segovia Baus in Guayaquil's leading center-right El Universo (5/9):  "The phrase, Enough is Enough,' has different meanings for the revolution and for the world that looks at Castro and criticizes his 'drastic' actions against human rights.  But one thing is certainly true: the Cuban Government's strategy was wrong in executing men who longed to be free."


"The Myth is Over"


An opinion column by Xavier Lasso in leading centrist El Comercio (5/2): "We know now that the United States, since the great scare of September 11, is not the best example to use when talking about human rights.  It was fear that has led them to commit brutal killings, like that of 15 civilians from Iraq who were protesting against the occupation of their country....  And that this very same, powerful country is protesting because of the inopportune nomination of a member of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations, doesn't disqualify anyone, and much less many intellectuals and artists of distinct tendencies, who today distance themselves from Cuba precisely because of attempts against life, against the right to dissent, and that all this is sinking the island in fear of the already anachronistic Fidel Castro.... What does change, because blocking the sun with one finger is not every effective, are the political positions towards a person who did not understand in time that he should leave.  The stodgy and criminal stupidity of Castro has killed the myth.  The revolution that seemed to have been manufactured among games, laughter, singing and over.  But none of this means that it should be the 'gringos,' with another invasion, who should have the last world."


"A Universal Right"


An opinion column by Susana Klinkicht in center-left Hoy  (4/21): "Many countries and organizations, such as the Inter American Press Society and Reporters Without Borders will feel disappointed with the resolution taken against Cuba, because they expected a stronger statement against the execution of three individuals that kidnapped a boat with 20 people on board, and the incarceration of 75 dissidents, 24 journalists among them, who received the longest sentences."


"Cuba And Rights, An Illusion"


An editorial in leading centrist El Comercio remarked (4/19):  "The decision made (at the UN Human Rights Commission) is certainly a triumph for Castro, because his diplomacy obtained a numerical result that will allow the prolongation of an illusion increasingly harder to maintain, internally and externally."


"State Terrorism"


An opinion column by Orlando Alcivar Santos in Guayaquil's (and Ecuador's) leading center-right El Universo (4/18):  "Numerous countries around the world have expressed their repulsion, as well as intellectuals of international prestige who support socialism or the so-called political left, because no civilized citizen may remain impassive to this type of state terrorism."


GUATEMALA: "Castro Must Meditate”


Jorge Palmieri remarked in influential El Periodico (5/5):  “Cuban dictator Fidel Castro must meditate...on the relentless way in which the U.S. overthrew Saddam Hussein...and on the fact that Colin Powell called his regime an ‘aberration’.... The war, which now is verbal, between the U.S. and Cuba could turn into a real war; nothing would please Cuban exiles more.”


“The Timely Reaction of Castro’s Friends”


Conservative, business-oriented Siglo Veintiuno (5/4): “The severe criticisms expressed by some of Fidel Castro’s closest friends, regarding his decision to execute and incarcerate a group of dissidents, has left Castro the only recourse to complain against the United States…Castro should learn, although it may be too late for him, that violence must not be fought with violence.…  The censure of Castro’s former friends has had a much more profound effect that a simple condemnation: It has marked the new dimension that the relations between Cuba...and the rest of the world must have.”


“Tyranny By Consent”


Moderate, leading Prensa Libre printed an op-ed by weekly columnist Francisco Beltranena (5/2):  "We cannot accept the existence of criminals.…  Nor can we accept the tyranny of a dictatorship like Fidel Castro’s that does not allow his citizens the sacred right to freedom, punishes those who dissent with him with execution, or with jail for those who dare (express freely).  We cannot tolerate such tyranny, much less consent to it.  In this day and age, Cuba is nothing but an approved tyranny.”


“To Defend The Indefensible”


Influential morning  El Periodico published a comment by staff writer Jorge Palmieri (4/30):  "Each time supporters of the despicable dictator refer to his ‘revolution’ they allege.… ‘Since the beginning of the Revolution, health, security, and education have been guaranteed; there are no street children, no one appears dead on the streets, there are no crimes or shootings’.  Undoubtedly, Cuba has achieved great advances in these aspects, but nothing compensates for the lack of free expression or to be able to leave the island whenever....  Anyone who has recently visited Havana has felt a mixture of sadness and repugnancy when they see prostitutes sitting in the lobbies of the main hotels...willing to sell their bodies for a few dollars.”


“Fear And Intolerance”


Carmen Rosa de Leon commented in her op-ed for conservative business-oriented Siglo Veintiuno (4/30):“Fidel Castro has broken all hope.  His fear of Cuba not continuing with its lifestyle after his death, has  made him take the punishment for those who don’t agree with him to extremes.”


“Unquestionable Merit”


Influential El Periodico published a comment by staff columnist Jorge Palmieri (4/29): "It is inconceivable that at this point in time, and despite everything, someone with half a brain would dare to publish an apology for the despotic communist dictator who has enslaved the Cuban people over the past 44 years, only a few days after he sentenced tens of dissidents to many years of prison, and he executed three people who tried to flee the island.”


"Fidel’s Blow"


Moderate, leading Prensa Libre judged (4/27):  “Fidel and his cowardly maneuvers took advantage of the fact that the world’s attention was focused on Iraq to unleash the greatest repression of recent history....  Didn’t Castro foresee the consequences?  Of course he did.  But in fact, the old dictator benefits from the confrontation with Washington....  If the UN wants to turn into a respected rector of international life, it must begin by substituting the diplomatic ‘circus’ by a committee of experienced and independent people who may issue censure with total authority.”


"Cynical Lies By The Cuban Ambassador"


Jorge Palmieri penned this op-ed in influential  El Periodico (4/26):   “The Cuban ambassador to Guatemala has once again tried to manipulate the situation by reminding us of the number of Cuban doctors who are helping the needy (in Guatemala).  If they are working here it is because in Cuba they have no wages and even if it is true that the school of medicine in Havana has enrolled many Guatemalans, if Castro and his ambassador demand that Guatemala be an accomplice to human rights violations against the Cuban people, it will be best for the doctors to return to Cuba, and for Guatemalan students to return to our country."


"The Omnipotent Fidel Castro"


Rodrigo Castillo observed in moderate, leading Prensa Libre (4/25):  “Forty years after coming into power, the government of omnipotent Fidel Castro continues to prosecute its dissidents for the peaceful expression of their ideas.  Free speech and association are typified as crimes....  Cubans are judged by crimes such as ‘enemy propaganda and insubordination.’....  Fidel Castro’s dictatorship deserves a clear censure."


JAMAICA: “Wake The Town And Tell The People” 


Writing his regular column in the centrist,  business-oriented Sunday Observer, Veteran journalist John Maxwell mounts a defensive to questions from local  AP stringer Stevenson Jacobs about his continual pro-Cuba commentary (5/11): "When Fidel Castro came to Michael Manley's funeral the people of Jamaica spontaneously acclaimed and honoured him and showed the world how they felt about him. The Jamaicans knew who he was, knew what he had done for his own people and for the poor and disadvantaged people in Southern Africa and the world.  When Nelson Mandela went to Cuba on his first official visit abroad, it was not because he was anti-American--though he certainly had cause to be--it was because he was honouring Fidel Castro as a Liberator and honouring Cuba as an example of what poor, developing countries could accomplish.… I happen to agree with Mandela and the Jamaican people and I am certain that, were I a Cuban, I would be neither a dissident nor a spy, but a man secure in my own dignity as a citizen, like Juan Gonzales, father of Elian.”


"The U.S. Is 'Spooked' by Cuba" 


Journalist John Maxwell wrote in the business-oriented, centrist Sunday Observer (5/4):  "Cuba has been chosen anew by the U.S. as a Fidel said, the events of 9/11 served as a pretext for the implementation of a neo-fascist policy and was carefully conceived and developed before the terrorist event. Cuba denounced this as the blueprint for the idea of a global military dictatorship imposed through brute force, outside of international laws and institutions of any kind. In a speech last June, Fidel went further: The power and prerogatives of  [the US President] are so extensive, and the economic, technological and military power network in that nation is so pervasive that due to circumstances that fully escape the will of the American people, the world is coming under the rule of Nazi concepts and methods.

In a world with a free press we should have been able to hear that warning.... It was an important statement, whether true or false. We should have known about it. We never heard those words, never had an opportunity to debate them, accept or reject them. Outside of Cuba, obviously, the world's press is largely and enthusiastically free. That, at any rate, is what we are told. And of course, never forget: Free and open debate is the essence of democracy."


"You're wrong, President Castro"


The Editor-in-Chief of the centrist, business-oriented Jamaica Observer argued (4/29): "America's 40-year embargo on Cuba, as we have argued before, is both anachronistic and anomalous. But we do not believe that America's simplistic and narrow-minded foreign policy towards its Cuban neighbour is an appropriate excuse for every domestic faux pas made by Fidel Castro's government. That, though, is what President Castro has sought to do following Cuba's recent execution, by firing squad, of three men who attempted to hijack a Cuban ferry to the United States....  Of course, we insist on Cuba's right to self-determination and to follow a political process of its own choosing, so long as that is the will of the Cuban people."


PANAMA:  "Barbarism From Right And Left"


Dr. Carlos Abadia concluded in conservative El Panama America (4/24):  "The year 2003 will always be remembered for the barbarism carried out by both the right and the left.  The war against Iraq is one of the most harmful events that has happened to humanity....  On the other side, the execution of three individuals by Fidel Castro' government, and the imprisonment of 80 Cubans for only wishing to live in freedom, is a barbarism that we should reject with the same intensity as we do what the U.S. did [in Iraq]....  The silence of leftist movements and the rest of the world towards the barbarism of the left, morally and ethically disqualifies them, because we cannot condemn the atrocity of the 'Colossus of the North' and keep silent over what Castro did."


PARAGUAY:  "Castro's Left And The New Age"


Second-largest, conservative Noticias ran a guest column asserting (4/22): "Today, everything that is written about Fidel Castro's abuses and Saddam Hussein's outrageous behavior is considered 'rightist,' 'pro-yankee' or 'imperialistic.'  The pressure the 'leftist' followers exercise is strong, because many of them are in the media and exert influence so that 'anti-rightist' sentiments remain healthy and growing.  It doesn't matter that Fidel Castro has been killing thousands of Cubans throughout his bloody career.... He kills or imprisons people who want to exercise their right to think, to be free, to participate in clean politics."


TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO:  "Caricom Tells Cuba To Go Easy"


A report on the sixth Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR)of Caricom Foreign Ministers commented in mass circulation, independent Trinidad Express observed (5/12):  "According to the statement, they urged the government of Cuba to ensure greater transparency in its criminal justice system and to promote open debate and discussion in order to further social, political and economic progress.  However, the statement said, the ministers felt that as long as the Cuban government remains excluded from participating in the Inter-American system and from voting in the activities of the Organization of American States (OAS), judgment on the issue should not be debated since the Cuban government was deprived of its right to present its position in accordance with natural justice."


VENEZUELA: "The End Of The Revolutionary Pretext"


Leading conservative national daily of record El Universal  editorialized (5/4): "Venezuelans are being submitted to a dizzying revolutionary process, of totalitarian aspects....  How is this being sustained? The answer is simple.  It is sustained because inside and outside there are those who have managed to put an end to the revolutionary pretexts.  It is impossible to exaggerate that every element of civil society, through its political leadership, that keeps silent or enters into deals, in essence is sponsoring this tragedy.  The same goes for those of the Armed Forces who advocate the revolution...those who do not tell the world what is happening here, just like in the controversial case of CNN in Iraq; the hemispheric system, incapable of even mouthing a word about the summary executions in Cuba.  All of these are responsible, these people who, like the Germans after the Nazi era, will be 'surprised' when the horrors of this regime are revealed."




Leading, conservative daily of record El Universal published an op-ed by Omar Estacio stating (4/21): "Men and women of the world who love freedom have the obligation, not only to protest the crushing of the Varela project, but to help those actions that bring an end to Castro's tyranny.  Let's trust in the domino effect.  When we depose his emulator in [Venezuelan presidential seat] Miraflores, his [Venezuelan President Chavez's] fall will surely bring down the Cuban dictatorship.  After all, Castro is surviving, barely, thanks to our petroleum."




BRITAIN:  "Cuba's Crackdown"


The conservative Times maintained (4/29):  "It has long been fashionable among European politicians and Latin American intellectuals to see Cuba as a maligned and victimized society....  Cuba, many argued, may be authoritarian, but its society is more equal and dignified than others in Latin America.  Such delusions have now been exposed.  The recent execution of three men who hijacked a ferry and the sentencing of 75 dissidents to prison terms of up to 26 years give the true picture of the regime.  The willful blindness to President Castro's repression has been underlined by the shock at the recent crackdown....  The disillusion is as widespread, and almost as fatal, as the Soviet repression of the Hungarian uprising was to European communists.  The swift allied victory [in Iraq], however, has provoked considerable alarm.  The paranoid Cuban leadership fears that an emboldened Washington may even be contemplating a military assault, avenging the Bay of Pigs.  There is little evidence for this, but Castro now sees only threats at home and abroad.  His crackdown was intended to cow the opposition.  But it has emboldened his many enemies, who insist that this totalitarian regime cannot last.  And nowadays, there will be fewer in the salons of Europe and Latin America to regret its fall."


ITALY: "Bush Strengthens Sanctions Against Cuba”


Stefano Trincia from New York wrote in Rome, centrist Il Messaggero (4/18): “Now that Saddam is defeated, George Bush is targeting the most tenacious, hated...dictator: Fidel Castro.  (The President) is aiming at responding strongly to the terrible crackdown ordered by the ‘leader maximus’ on the dissidents....  The White House has announced measures against Cuba....  Bush’s clampdown...arrives at a politically useful time for the White House, and at a very inconvenient time for Cuba.  For quite sometime, especially from inside the Republican Party as well as Congress...some were asking to ease the U.S. embargo on Cuba in the name of free trade....  (But) the ‘hawks’ of the Administration, as well as Bush himself were quite skeptical to the idea of an opening...towards their eternal foe.”


AUSTRIA:  "The Cuban Crisis Game"


Foreign affairs writer Christoph Prantner held in liberal  Der Standard (4/27):  “The rules of the game are old, there are winners and losers on both sides.  With his measures against the inner enemy--the dissidents--Castro has moved the outer enemy--the U.S.--into position once again.  His regime has things firmly in hand again after years of insidious loss of authority....  Washington, on the other hand, can justifiably accuse Havana of human rights abuses.  The embargo against Cuba--now more or less useless both on a political and an economic level--must not be questioned under any circumstances, but even the Americans know that precisely this embargo has kept Castro in power for over 40 years.  Thank God, no part seems to have been written for the Europeans in all this.  This could mean that only they have a chance of ending this game once and for all.  Although the new wave of repression has put a stop to their attempts to open up the country, the Europeans should not give in.  Osvaldo Payá, one of the few dissidents who is not behind bars, is convinced that Castro’s regime will not be ended through violence, but constant pressure and publicity.”


HUNGARY:  "The Old Enemy Again"


Foreign affairs writer Levente Sitkei took this view in conservative Magyar Nemzet (4/22):  "Havana again has recently imprisoned hundreds of anti-Castro opposition members, as well as journalists and human rights activists because they criticized the Castro regime.  On April 11 three men were sentenced to death and executed.  So President Bush hit the table of the Oval Office and pledged new sanctions against Castro’s Cuba.  This development, it appears, is one of the United States’ (which behaves as imperial power in Iraq) most important daily routine fights.  It will not hit the headline news in CNN, as it will not be followed by any military intervention either.  There is no need for an extensive propaganda campaign in the United States to legitimize the new sanctions against Cuba.  Because the Cubans have been smart in combining modern market-based economy with the now enduring revolutionary belief.  Cuba, the pearl of the Caribbean has, to the deepest sorrow of the United States developed into a flourishing tourist paradise.”


POLAND:  "Victims Were Forgotten"


Tomasz Surdel wrote from Geneva in leading, independent Gazeta Wyborcza (4/28):  "The UN Human Rights Commission session that ended on 25 April exposed like never before the increasing reluctance of the international community to defend these rights....  There is not a word in the documents about the situation in China, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, Ivory Coast, or about the wave of repression in Cuba....  The Washington delegation, headed by 76-year-old Jane Kirkpatrick...arrived there with two tasks to accomplish.   The first one was to ensure the adoption of a resolution on Cuba.  The second task was to prevent any debate on human rights in Iraq.  She managed to carry out both tasks.  It should be added that the Americans do not care about issues such as the fact that the Cuban resolution did not include a single word to condemn the Castro regime for the most recent wave of repression.... [O]ne cannot help but think that the sole reason for passing this resolution was to help the Washington administration present some achievements to the extremely strong internal anti-Castro lobby.  It will certainly not help victims of the regime in Havana."


“Scandal In Geneva”


Maciej Stasinski opined in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (4/18): “[The resolution on Cuba] is a monument to political meanness. Two weeks ago Fidel Castro, in one stroke, jailed 79 persons who disapprove of his regime....  And here we have the UN Human Rights Committee convening but remaining silent. Costa Rica wanted to add condemnation of [Cuba’s] trials, but Cuba persuaded the majority of countries that there are worse plagues-wars, economic sanctions. So the UN adopted a resolution calling upon Cuba to let in a mission to investigate the status of freedom for Cuban citizens. What for? Castro does not conceal anything-the sentences were overt, and they provide evidence of Castro’s attitude to respecting the freedoms the UN wants to find out about.”


PORTUGAL:  "God Didn’t Enter Havana"

Associate editor Eduardo Dâmaso penned this editorial in influential center-left daily Público (4/28):  "By advancing in a wave of repression that would possibly only have its parallel in the 70s and in the worst moments gone by...Castro decreed the end of all the possibilities of a democratic transition...the way of reconciling as far as possible Castro himself and a decent exit from the historic stage.  Pure utopia, as now can be seen.  God didn’t enter into Cuba, contrary to all the humanizing hopes of the regime created some years ago by the visit of John Paul II to the Cuban capital....  'He reminded all of us, especially Cubans, of his old disdain for human life and his enormous seduction with state violence....  Castro didn’t learn, or else didn’t want to, that to clear out dissidence is bread for today, but hunger for tomorrow."


"The End Of Illusions"


In his regular "Black and White" column in top-circulation centrist weekly Expresso, associate editor Fernando Madrinha maintained (4/19):  "The brutality of Castro's repression of his moderate opposition – people who are not fighting the regime with bombs or promoting 'invasions' from Miami, but limit themselves to using the power of words and persuasion in favor of freedom and democracy – is a fatal blow to the vague expectation of an opening that Fidel had been encouraging....  Perhaps frightened by the Bush-Blair doctrine and the prospect that his anachronistic regime might also become a military target, Fidel Castro is rehearsing a show of force that strips ridiculously bare his own fear and profound weakness....  It undoes all the illusions – and not just for Portugal's most illustrious Castroite, José Saramago....  The hope of Cubans for democracy will only arrive with what is usually called 'the biological solution' – that is, the death of Fidel."


SPAIN:  "For Liberty"


Right-of-center La Razon editorialized (Internet version) (4/26):  "From Europe, and fundamentally from Spain and the rest of Ibero-America, we must send a clear message to the old Caribbean tyrant that he can not ignore.  And that is that Cuba needs to face up to a liberating change in which all its citizens are free to participate, including the two million exiles.  If external pressure becomes the only means of  crushing the dictatorship, we must confront it....  For liberty."


"The Oldest Dictator"


Left-of-center El Pais wrote (4/18): "The UN Commission on Human Rights was not able to condemn on Thursday the wave of repression unleashed in Cuba one month ago.  The usual acrobatics that take place in the organization, plus the favor the Castro regime enjoys in some countries, resulted in a vote that can only satisfy Castro....  The repressive tide...  is the response of the regime to the demands by groups of moderate opponents for Castro to start a process of opening policy.  The oldest dictator of the world... is not willing; as he pathetically shouted some years ago, 'Marxism-Leninism or death!'   The mobilization against the war in Iraq has been used now to present the internal opponents as 'lackeys of imperialism.'  The opportunistic and sinister use of international public opinion deserved a clear reaction of those who supported the mobilizations...  [T]his new display deserved an unequivocal reaction from the UN commission supposedly specializing in the defense of human rights.  [It has been] of little use for the system of the United Nations, for the cause of human rights and for those who suffer the oppression of the Castro boot."



AUSTRALIA: “Castro, Gaddafi And Human Rights”

An editorial in the liberal Age read (5/5): “While the United Nations Human Rights Commission was holding its annual meeting in Geneva last month - and while the United States was preoccupied with its military action in Iraq - Cuba was conducting one of the worst crackdowns of its political dissidents in memory…. None of these things of course prevented Cuba being re-elected last week to the UN Human Rights Commission, any more than Libya's atrocious record of human rights abuses and sponsorship of terrorism prevented it being elected chairman of the commission in January. Indeed, the international body charged with upholding the human rights of the world's peoples has become a bad joke."


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