Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Significance of Signing Human Rights Covenants

Excerpt from On Human Rights, Democratic Centralism and Foreign Policy
12/31/07 - Cuba-L Analysis (Albuquerque) -By Nelson P. Valdes and Robert Sandels

US press misses the point

Meanwhile, the announcement was given cursory coverage in the US
media. The New York Times devoted one paragraph to it, part of which
was a description of a confrontation between protestors and
government supporters in Havana on the occasion of Human Rights

The Miami Herald wrote a lengthier report but concentrated on the
confrontation and on criticism by dissidents like Martha Beatriz
Roque, who was interviewed by the Herald from the home of US
Interests Section chief Michael Parmly.[6]

Coming just days after his own foreign minister announced Cuba's
intention to sign without mentioning the longstanding objections to
the labor and education articles, it is obvious that Castro does not
agree with the decision. This in turn suggests that Castro was either
not involved in the discussion or that he was outvoted. "History will
decide who is right," the title he gives to the 2001 remarks, is a
classic rejoinder of the one who lost an argument. In any case, he
apparently stands opposed to an important policy decision of the
government he heads. He, in other words, accepted the decision. So
much for the picture of Fidel as dictator.

By going public, Castro might have believed he could stop the process
more effectively than he could from inside the government.
Alternatively, he might have pitched his argument to members of the
Communists Party of Cuba (PCC) in order to further educate that
sector of the population.

Should his public disagreement over the covenants prove persuasive to
the party, one of several scenarios could reverse the decision to
sign. The Foreign Ministry could backtrack, the National Assembly
could vote against ratification, or the Council of State could act
against it.

It may be that besides Castro's specific objections to the labor and
education articles, he has a more generic distaste for rights
declared by capitalist countries led by the United States. Why else
would he choose to begin his letter to Alonso by citing an Argentine
filmmaker's "deconstruction" of capitalism's "lies of democracy and
human rights"? After all, the United States is in violation of almost
all of the enumerated rights in the two covenants and could not
implement them under the species of capitalism it now practices.

Lastly, it should be noted that the Cuban political leadership has a
long view of foreign policy matters. The covenants probably will be
adopted by Cuba in mid-2008. If adopted, they will be enforced by
2009. A very practical result would be the Cuban government inviting
United Nations' human rights observers to the island. Such visits,
without a doubt, would have a profound impact on European Union and
Canadian foreign policy toward Havana. If the United States
government, at the time, is dominated by a Democratic Congress and
presidency, then a very important political debate will ensue on
bilateral relations with the island. The potential prospects of
having a political climate to finally end the United States blockade
might be guiding political debate within the island. Or, as Henry of
Navarre said, "Paris vaut bien une messe."

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