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Cuba on Human Rights

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by Olga Chamero Trias
Ambassador for Cuba to St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The 10th of December all countries of the world celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of the Human Rights, a document approved in Paris in 1848, by virtue of Article 68 of the Charter of United Nations. Cuba was an earlier member of the United Nations and signed this Declaration amongst the first State members of the UN.{{more}}

Of the 26 Treaties identified as fundamental in relation with Human Rights, my country is part of more than 20, being the more recently subscribed those concerning Civil, Political, Social and Cultural Rights. Cuba’s Principles concerning Human Rights are objectivity, impartiality and non-selectivity. Also, the respect of diversity, understanding of nationals and regional’s particularities, and the right to every nation to choose its own economic, social and political system. Cuba, as the President of the Non Aligned Movement, had played in the name of all States members an important role in the institutional construction of the new Council of Human Rights.

Since the Decade of the Eighties, Cuba had been a victim of a selected exercise for so called violations of Human Rights. In 2007, after twenty years of demonizing Cuba and condemning it in the late Human Rights Commission of the United Nations, the international community by a majority vote put and end to this Exercise and elected my country as a member of the new Council of Human Rights. The United States, the main force behind all those years of unjust condemnation of Cuba, retired its aspiration to integrate the Council, knowing that the scandals of Abu-Graigh in Iraq and the use of the Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba, as a center of torture, will not allow them to be elected.

On the other hand, the Cuban Expert on Human Rights, Dr. Miguel Alfonso Martinez, working with the Human Rights Commission for more than twenty years, was elected by acclamation of States members, Advisor of the new Council.

The efforts of my country to cooperate with the late Human Rights Commission were shown with different initiatives. During the nineties Cuba invited the High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Cuba, and also a group of Non Governmental organizations, related to the late Human Rights Commission. In 1998, Special Relators from the Commission, in matters concerning the Use of Mercenaries and Violence against Women, visited Cuba and saw the work done by my Government. By the same token, Jean Ziegles, Relator of the new council for the Right to Food, visited Cuba this year and testified about the fact that the Cuban Government guarantees a decent and appropriated nourishment to its population. Next year Cuba will present herself to the new mechanism of Periodical Universal Examination about Human Rights that the new Council had established.

Cuba is ready, as usual, to cooperate with the mechanism of the Human Rights Council, especially now that the selective and discriminatory exercise against my country had ceased. Now that Cuba is not any more the victim of a discriminatory and selective exercise, it can work together for the benefits of guaranteeing Human Rights for all.

During the 50 years that the Cuban Revolution had been in power, the defense of Human Rights had been its paradigm. First of all, by declaring the country Free of Illiteracy in 1960, by making two Land Reforms who gave the land to those who work it, by also making and Urban Reform and nationalizing the fundamental resources of the country at that time in the hand of the American and other countries, and also by guaranteeing the right to all Cubans to a decent house, and outstanding education and integral health System, accompany by a Social and Security Systems who provides protection to all, specially those in the society who need it more.

Elections in Cuba are held every four years for the Parliament, and every two years for the Municipal and Provincial Assemblies. The Vote is direct and secret and the electoral age is 16 years old. Cuba had approved by national Referendums its Constitution of 1976. Again in 1992 and important constitutional Reform was also submitted to the approval of its people.

The fact that the Cuba had been able to comply with the Project Health for All of the World Health Organization for the year 2000, in year 1983, speaks volumes of the priority giving to this sphere in country, placing Cuba, in the Biotechnology and the Pharmaceutical industries among the ranks of Developed Countries. A new Research and production Center for Vaccines with a capacity of 100 million doses of vaccines yearly had recently been inaugurated in Havana.

The attention paid to children and adolescent, to the rights of women, which today constitute 44% of the national work force in the civil Sector, 72% of the workers in the Educational Sector, 67% in the health care Sector and 44.5% in the Scientific Sector, proved the priority giving by the Cuban government to the development of the Cuban population. Sports and culture are other spheres where Cuba had distinguished herself.

In Cuba, culture is the domain of the masses, with equal opportunities for all, allowing the talents of its inhabitants to be cultivated in Arts Schools existing in all Provinces, all through the Island. In Sport, Cuba is located amongst the 30 countries in the world that have won most Olympic Medals per inhabitant in the entire history of the Olympic Games.

On the 10th December in Havana, an International Workshop on Human Rights is being held. It was inaugurated 10th December, 2007, sponsored by the Cuban National Commission of the United Nation for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO). Some participants in this workshop include former US presidential candidate for the Green Party, Cynthia Mackinney, Brazilian Priest Frei Breto, and many others outstanding personalities and fighters for the rights of theirs people. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Felipe Perez Roque, opened the Workshop exposing all the work done by the Cuban Government in matters relating to Human Rights within a holistic conceptual approach to these relevant rights.

Cuba reiterates its willingness to fully cooperate with the work of the new Council of Human Rights, within the framework of the multiple mechanisms existing to ensure them, and guaranteeing its universal character, non discriminatory and no selective treatment and within an strict respect to nationals sovereignties.