“The regime continues to violate human rights in Cuba in the absence of a global consensus that condemns it”
This week Human Rights Watch (HRW) has submitted its report on
the situation of human rights in the world in 2021, in which he denounced the increase in repression and the “good moment” enjoyed by autocrats, given the lack of commitment from democratic leaders, more concerned with “short-term” interests. In the report, the NGO also refers to the alarming setback of basic freedoms in Latin America, as well as the “extraordinary” role of human rights defenders and journalists in exposing abuses, for what it does a call to continue supporting “the crucial efforts” carried out by these people to protect the rule of law, fundamental freedoms and democratic institutions in a period of grave risks for the region”
In the section dedicated to the violation of rights in Cuba, the NGO underlines the continuity of repression in 2021. A year marked by the largest civil protests in recent decades, which triggered an extraordinary campaign of repression – made visible by social networks around the world. In its report, HRW denounces the arbitrary arrests and short-term imprisonment, the control of the media and the restriction of access to information from abroad, as well as the blocking of websites and blogs within the island. It also refers to the “summary criminal proceedings” suffered by those arrested for participating peacefully in the demonstrations on July 11.
In 2021, Cuba experienced the biggest protests in decades.
The regime responded brutally: arbitrary arrests, mistreatment, arbitrary persecution and more censorship.
– Juan Pappier (@JuanPappierHRW) January 13, 2022
“The year 2021 in Cuba was marked by these historic protests and by an increase in demonstrations by citizens that they have lost their fear and that they want change, but also by a brutal repression by the regime, which is clinging to the ‘status quo ‘, does not want to accept this change and is holding it back by force of repression, censorship and forcing anyone who dares to censor the regime into exile, “he explains to ABC, Juan Pappier, senior researcher at HRW’s Division for the Americas.
The explosion of protests in Cuba, put this, thanks to the complaints on social networks and the work of independent journalists, on the international agenda, although this has not achieved any substantive change in the country in terms of improving human rights. humans. “So far the international community’s response to Cuba has been dysfunctional. On the one hand, there is the US embargo, which generates a huge distraction, because it allows Cuba to show itself as a victim, when in reality they are responsible for gross human rights violations. And, on the other, we have a politics of the European Union that condemns the embargo, that sometimes has strong voices in relation to Cuba, but they are not consistent”, says Pappier.
Added to this, the role of the UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, «which has had a rather weak position on Cuba. It has only been pronounced once throughout his mandate ». In his opinion, this “lack of global consensus to condemn the violation of human rights.” it is what allows the regime to continue committing these violations. HRW defends the lifting of the embargo, “ending this distraction”, and achieving “a multilateral and coordinated policy of condemnation” against what is happening in Cuba.
Do you think that the regime cares about international condemnations? “He doesn’t care about the condemnation of some actors, but I think he does care about the condemnation of the EU, of Bachelet and of center-left governments in Latin America.”
The truth is that the EU has an instrument, the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement with Cuba, that according to one of its clauses must be interrupted if the rights of citizenship are violated. It is a resource to help the island economically, while at the same time ensuring the well-being of the population. Despite the repression of the regime, so far the EU has not used this clause. “Until now, the EU’s dialogue with Cuba has failed to produce significant results. That’s clear,” admits Pappier.
As for what you think the year 2022 could be like, which has begun with the holding of more trials, in which sentences of up to 30 years are requested for participating in last year’s protests, and in which even to minors, under the charge of sedition –which can lead to a sentence of 15 years in prison–, he confesses that “I am not very optimistic about the situation in Cuba. All the critical voices that have dared to raise their voices, whether they are the leaders of the San Isidro Movement (MSI) or of 27-N, or journalists and activists, who have dared to denounce abuses, are mostly either imprisoned or exiled. That is why it is going to be very difficult to manage to coordinate Cuban civil society, those who want there to be a change in Cuba, so that they can carry out demonstrations and expressions of discontent. I think that thanks to this dysfunctional response from the international community, Diaz-Canel is getting away with it,” he lamented.