At UN, US Turns Tables on Cuban Complaint

Responds to protest of American embargo with demand for human rights
October 29, 2018 Updated: October 30, 2018

Every year like clockwork, Cuba submits its resolution to the United Nations demanding the end of the economic, commercial, and financial embargo imposed by the United States. And for more than a decade, the resolution has passed without challenge.

But this year, the United States is standing up to Cuba. In an amendment submitted Oct. 23, the United States is calling out the communist country for its egregious human-rights violations and is demanding change.

In the amendment, the United States asked the U.N. to consider new language. The amendment expressed concern about “the severe lack of access to information and freedom of expression, the complete absence of judicial independence, and arbitrary arrests and detentions.”

Epoch Times Photo
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez speaks during a press conference, objecting to a U.S. report used to justify the embargo on Cuba, in Havana, on Oct. 24, 2018. (ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)

It cited U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 16, which is designed to promote peaceful and inclusive societies and provide access to justice for all, something the Cuban regime isn’t abiding by.

The United States also expressed concern about the absence of women in Cuba’s most powerful decision-making bodies, saying the lack of gender diversity severely undermines efforts to implement U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 5, which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

The United States also expressed concern about the prohibition on workers’ strikes, restrictions on collective bargaining, and the fact that government authorities have the final say on all agreements. The United States cited Sustainable Development Goal 8, which promotes sustained and inclusive economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.

The United States is calling on Cuba to grant its citizens “internationally recognized civil, political and economic rights and freedoms, including freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and free access to information,” and it is urging an end to restrictions on those rights, both online and offline.

In addition, the United States calls on Cuba to release prisoners detained for exercising their human rights, and urges Cuba to begin a comprehensive accountability process to address all cases of serious human-rights violations.

“These new amendments mark an important moment, and we hope a majority of member states will rise to the occasion.” Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based U.N. Watch, said in a release. “Failure to adopt the provisions for human-rights victims in Cuba will cast a shadow on the U.N.’s credibility.”

The move marks only the second time a nation has stood up to the annual Cuban-led condemnation of the United States. In 2006, Australia’s delegation introduced a similar amendment, citing a lack of democracy and political freedom in Cuba.

That provision called on Cuba to release all political prisoners, cooperate with international human-rights bodies, and to comply with all human-rights treaties Cuba had signed. The move was killed in November 2006, when a no-action motion passed 126–51.

The U.S.-led amendment will need to be voted on and could face a similar fate. The Epoch Times reached out to the U.N. and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations to determine when a vote would be held, however, emails weren’t returned by press time.

The amendment is the latest example of the Trump administration’s tough stance on Cuba. In June 2017, it re-tightened restrictions and sanctions that had been made lax under former President Barack Obama.

The Trump administration believed those policies were enriching the Cuban military and intelligence services that contribute to the oppression of the Cuban people.

Trump’s policy pulls economic activities away from the Cuban military but allows Americans to develop economic ties to the private small business sector in Cuba.