Cuba’s Human Rights Achievements are Highlighted in Geneva

This week, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla presented at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva for the fourth time the nation’s report on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a mechanism that evaluates member countries in the field of human rights. Despite Washington’s increased aggression and its impact on all areas of society, the island showed its achievements and received the support of important allies.

“The national report we present today is the result of a broad and participatory process of consultations with state institutions and organizations of our civil society. Since the previous Review (2018), Cuba has taken significant steps in updating its legal and institutional framework for the fulfillment of all human rights for all Cubans,” the minister commented at the global event, previously held in February 2009, April 2013, and May 2018.

According to the minister, 215 of the 226 recommendations accepted in the previous UPR have been fulfilled, representing 95 percent. Implementation of the remaining 11 are currently underway.

In 2019, the Cuban people adopted a new Constitution through a popular referendum, which expanded the list of rights and guarantees for the people, who widely supported the constitutional text, with a 90% turnout and an 86% approval. Moreover, in the last four years, 129 higher-ranking legal norms have been approved, an unprecedented accomplishment in Cuba for such a short period. It would be hard to find a country that has a constitution that is more democratic, representative and inclusive of everyone than Cuba’s.

Significant progress has also been made in criminal legislation, and comprehensive reports have been submitted on Cuba’s efforts to tackle racial discrimination and to protect the rights of disabled persons and minors.

All this has been possible despite a worsening economic situation on the island, aggravated especially by the tightening of the US economic and financial blockade and the impact of the pandemic,the inflation on the international market, and many other internal challenges.

“The blockade against Cuba constitutes a massive, flagrant, and systematic violation of Cubans’ human rights. Since the previous review, the blockade has significantly intensified with the application of more than 240 additional unilateral coercive measures and the fraudulent inclusion of Cuba in the spurious list of countries sponsoring terrorism drawn up by the US State Department,” the minister noted.

According to official figures, from April 2018 to February 2023, the blockade caused damages estimated in US$24.7 billion. The cumulative effects of more than 60 years of blockade exceed $159 billion dollars.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, sanctions against Cuba were deliberately tightened to extreme levels, unlike what happened to the rest of the world. The island was prevented from acquiring pulmonary ventilators from subsidiaries of US companies. It was denied from purchasing parts, pieces, and inputs for the industrial production of the Cuban vaccines. The acquisition of medical oxygen in third countries was also hindered.

Reactions to Cuba’s achievements were immediate. Almost a dozen countries recognized Cuba’s efforts to promote and protect human rights. Nicaragua, for example, highlighted Cuba’s commitment and resistance to the blockade, which it described as criminal. Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Jordan, and Kenya expressed admiration for the island’s struggle against racism.

Mexico highlighted the recent approval of a program for women’s empowerment in the Caribbean country. It also assured that Cuba’s recent insertion in the Human Rights Council – a decision announced last October – is a recognition of the island’s efforts to protect the human rights of all Cubans.

“Despite Cuba’s progress since the previous review, we are dissatisfied and strive to improve, promote full dignity and justice, and face the current challenges,” Rodriguez added.

Cuba has not stopped despite the obstacles. It will continue to improve its institutional and legal framework to protect human rights and promote the construction of a society that is increasingly free, democratic, just, supportive, participatory, and socialist.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – English