[News] Cuba - Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Dec 11 16:06:53 EST 2007


Felipe Pérez: Good morning. We would like to 
thank all local and foreign correspondents for being here with us today.

             We have asked you to come to inform 
that, shortly, Cuba will become a signatory to 
the International Covenant on Economic, Social 
and Cultural Rights and to the International 
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is the 
political decision made by our country today, 10 
December, World Day of Human Rights, when we 
celebrate the 59th anniversary of the 
proclamation by the UN General Assembly of the 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

             The rights contained in both 
covenants, which are some of the most important 
international instruments in terms of human 
rights, are extensively covered by our national 
legislation and, particularly, by the work and 
performance of the Cuban Revolution right from its victory on 1 January 1959.

             This decision, which should 
materialize in the coming months, is indicative 
that our country will always maintain close 
cooperation with the UN system, on the basis of 
respect for our national sovereignty and for the 
right of the Cuban people to self-determination.

             While the manipulations against Cuba 
persisted in the field of human rights; while the 
US Government turned the former Commission on 
Human Rights into an Inquisition tribunal to 
persecute the countries that rebelled against 
imperial domination; while attempts were made to 
manipulate the human rights issue against Cuba to 
justify the blockade and the aggressions against 
our country; while the anti-Cuban practice in the 
area of human rights continued to prevail, 
particularly in Geneva, at the former Commission, 
where the US imposed a resolution every year 
through ruthless pressures and blackmail; while 
all of that happened, there were no conditions 
whatsoever to assess new commitments by Cuba to 
the UN machinery in the area of human rights. 
However, that situation has changed radically 
with the inception of the new Human Rights 
Council, of which Cuba was a founding member, 
with the vote of over two-thirds of the members 
of the international community – and because, as 
known, the spurious mandate imposed by the US to 
monitor the Cuban situation was also discontinued.

             Since a new situation has arisen, in 
which the issue is not manipulated against Cuba, 
in which there has been failure after failure of 
the anti-Cuban schemes by the US, after twenty 
years of battle by Cuba in favor of the truth and 
in defense of our principles and our dignity, 
conditions are now ripe to take new steps 
indicative of Cuba’s political will to cooperate 
with the UN and to make its contribution and 
experience available to the international community in this matter.

             Cuba has never acted and will never 
act under pressure. Once the Human Rights Council 
decided and the Third Committee of the UN General 
Assembly confirmed the discontinuation of that 
spurious anti-Cuban mandate, our country then 
advanced several initiatives for international 
cooperation in the field of human rights. Thus, 
we were recently visited by the UN rapporteur for 
the right to food; thus, we announce today the 
decision of the Cuban Government to sign, in the 
first quarter of next year, these two human 
rights covenants: the International Covenant on 
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the 
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

             And, also, in the future, our 
country will extend invitations to other figures 
that represent special procedures in the Human 
Rights Council, as an indication that in a 
scenario in which there is no longer any 
manipulation of the issue against our country, 
where the twenty-year-long scheme by the US 
Government was utterly defeated, our country can 
send clear signals and attest to its will to 
cooperate and emphasize its commitment to the 
international defense of human rights.

             The decision to move forward in 
enhancing the formal commitment – because the 
real commitment has always existed and because it 
was the Cuban Revolution that guaranteed the 
respect for the human rights of the Cubans – by 
signing the two covenants is another example of 
what our country can do without any political 
conditionalities and without being subjected to that unfair practice.

             So today, 10 December, World Day of 
Human Rights, our country – in a free and 
sovereign fashion, without any outside pressures 
and keeping in line with our own conscience, with 
the acts of our own free will, exercising our 
sovereignty – announces, as a new step in Cuba’s 
commitment, the signing of these two important human rights instruments.

             Pursuant to the commitment that we 
entered into by signing the inception of the new 
Human Rights Council and its procedures, we are 
also getting ready to report, in March 2009, on 
our performance and be part of the universal 
periodic review mechanism established by the new 
Council. Under the draw conducted on an equal 
footing for all countries, ours has to report in 
March 2009. We are seriously getting ready to 
reach that moment in a spirit of cooperation and 
with the will to display our results, our 
accomplishments, our shortcomings and 
difficulties, and also to hear the views and 
opinions of other players on this issue.

             This will of Cuba will remain as 
long as the current situation prevails, which we 
hope will not change – of not being singled out, 
of non-selectivity, non-discrimination and 
politicization of the human rights issue to 
attack and justify the aggressions against those 
countries that do not yield to the imperial 
diktat. As long as that situation prevails, as 
now, our country will be free to move forward down this path.

             If, unfortunately and against our 
desire and our aspirations, the issue is once 
again politicized and the atmosphere of 
cooperation and respect for the countries now 
prevailing in the Human Rights Council becomes 
rarified, our country would be compelled – and 
would not hesitate to stand its ground again – to 
hoist the flags that we victoriously defended for 
twenty years until we managed to utterly and 
definitely defeat the practice orchestrated by 
successive US Administrations against Cuba.

             In addition to this announcement, on 
the 59th anniversary of the proclamation of the 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN 
General Assembly and when we start the year to 
celebrate its 60th anniversary, Cuba reiterates 
today its demand that the US Government cease its 
ruthless economic, financial and commercial 
blockade, imposed on our people for almost 50 
years, which is a flagrant, massive and 
systematic violation of the human rights of our 
people – as has been overwhelmingly demanded by 
the UN General Assembly in 16 successive resolutions.

             On a day like today, it is worth 
recalling that our people will soon move into its 
fifth decade of suffering from the brutal and 
genocidal blockade that attempts to subdue us through starvation and disease.

             On the day that the world 
commemorates the World Day of Human Rights, we 
reiterate our demand that the US Government heed 
the opinion of the international community and lift the blockade on Cuba.

             Secondly, on behalf of the Cuban 
people, we demand that the US Government 
immediately close, without any further delays or 
justifications, the shameful torture center that 
it continues to operate at its naval base in 
Guantánamo, where all sorts of harassment and 
vexation have been carried out, as well as cruel, 
inhumane and degrading treatment against the 
prisoners, in breach of all the guarantees 
provided for by International Law for detained 
people. In addition to the closing of this 
shameful center, we demand that the US Government 
return to our country the territory that it 
currently occupies in an illegal manner against 
our will in Guantánamo, taking away from Cuba the 
practice of the right to sovereignty in that portion of our soil.

             We demand today, on the World Day of 
Human Rights, that the President of the United 
States and that the US Government close down the 
torture center in Guantánamo and return to our 
homeland the territory that they occupy illegally.

             Thirdly, on a day like today, we 
demand the immediate release of the Five Cuban 
Heroes: Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino 
Salazar, Fernando González Llort, Antonio 
Guerrero Rodríguez and René González Sehwerert, 
political prisoners held in US jails, subjected 
to unjust and harsh convictions, subjected to 
isolation cells for long periods of time and to 
other cruel, inhumane and degrading actions for 
over nine years – and we now demand, as they are 
going through their tenth year in captivity, that they be released.

             On behalf of the Cuban people, we 
particularly demand that Adriana Pérez O’Connor, 
the wife of Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, and Olga 
Salanueva Arango, the wife of René González 
Sehwerert, be able to visit their husbands, whom 
they last saw in 1998. We demand respect for 
their rights and we challenge the President of 
the United States and the US Government to allow 
these two women, daughters of our nation, to 
visit their husbands in the prisons where they are now serving harsh sentences.

             Fourthly, on behalf of the Cuban 
families mourning the loss of their loved ones, 
as a result of the acts of terrorism by Luis 
Posada Carriles; on behalf of those families that 
lost children, parents and siblings, we demand 
that the US Government detain international 
terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, who is walking 
freely in the city of Miami protected by the Bush 
Administration, and try him for terrorism and 
send him to prison; or that he be extradited to 
Venezuela, as has demanded that country’s government.

             Lastly, I would like to express our 
satisfaction over the news that the Cuban Medical 
Brigade currently working in Guatemala, composed 
of some 300 health workers, stationed there since 
Hurricane Mitch swept through Central America in 
1998, was presented with the National Human 
Rights Awards, bestowed by that brotherly country.

             The Cuban doctors, since their 
arrival in the rural and mountainous areas, in 
the farthest and most remote places of the 
Guatemalan geography, have had over 22 million 
appointments and performed more than 55,000 
deliveries. In this recognition of their noble 
endeavor, there is also recognition of all the 
Cubans who throughout the world are currently 
making their generous contribution to the respect 
for human rights; particularly, for the right of millions of people to life.

             I would like to recall today, on the 
World Day of Human Rights, that as we speak there 
are 37,000 Cuban health workers providing 
services in 79 countries. Of those, over 18,000 
are medical doctors. There are 37,000 health 
cooperators in 79 countries and over 18,000 of 
them are doctors! In a few days, we will hit the 
target figure of 1 million patients with free 
surgeries through Operation Miracle. A million 
patients from 32 countries have regained their 
eyesight over the last few years as a result of 
the implementation of Operation Miracle, fostered 
by our country. These patients have been operated 
on by Cuban doctors, nurses and technicians, 
either in Cuba or in their respective countries.

             I would also like to underscore the 
fact that our universities have provided 
government-sponsored scholarships to nearly 
30,000 students from 121 countries that are 
currently enrolled in them. These are children 
from poor families, on many occasions from rural 
areas in their countries. Of those nearly 30,000 
students, some 23,000 are being trained in Cuba as doctors.

             In recalling that our country has 
graduated more than 45,000 Third-World youths in 
these years of the Revolution, of which almost 
35,000 are from Africa, we must evoke Fidel’s 
remarks: “Without culture, there is no freedom 
possible”. And we must recall Martí, who said 
that “Being educated is the only one to be free.” 
And I must also underscore – because of what I 
have just said – that with the Cuban literacy 
method Yes, I Can, designed by Cuban professors 
and implemented with the participation of 
thousands of Cuban pedagogical advisers, some 2.7 
million illiterate people in 22 countries have 
been taught to read and write; and another 
600,000 illiterate people are currently studying, 
learning to read and write in the languages of 
their countries, not only in Spanish.

             In recalling these figures and 
confirming with modesty but with healthy pride 
that the Cubans are not only fighting to build a 
society with all fairness and full equality of 
opportunities for all its children, a socialist 
society with equality of opportunity for all, 
where justice can be attained, I must also 
express our pride in knowing that our fellow 
countrymen and women did go to cure, to teach and 
to fight off apartheid and colonialism in Africa 
– where over 350,000 Cuban voluntary fighters, 
both men and women, went to defeat the troops of 
apartheid, making it possible to obliterate, 
right in the midst of the 20th century, a brutal 
form of discrimination and exclusion of men over 
skin color, where more than 2,000 sons and 
daughters of our nation laid down their lives 
fighting and were instrumental in preserving 
Angola’s territorial integrity, in the inception 
of Namibia as an independent country, in the 
release of Nelson Mandela and the dismantling of 
the cruel apartheid system, which was kept alive 
through the shameful support of many who now try 
to forget that past in which they were 
accessories to the apartheid regime, which they 
provided with weapons and which they helped 
violate UN resolutions, the first of all being 
the US Government. Therefore, in doing so, I 
would like to express our pride that we are not 
only working for and defending in Cuba the civil, 
political, economic, social and cultural rights 
for our people, but that we are also fighting in 
other countries of the world so that these can 
finally become real rights within everyone’s 
reach and stop being rights just proclaimed in paper.

             Today, we express our certainty that 
neither the manipulations schemed by the US 
Government with the participation of a handful of 
mercenaries, who they pay and instruct in our 
country, nor the threats or its abundant money to 
pay for defections and disloyalty, nor its media 
campaigns or its might over the international 
mass media, nor its pressures against other 
governments to follow them in their anti-Cuba 
campaigns, will cause our people to stay off 
course in defending human rights for our country and for other countries.

             Cuba celebrates this day, 10 
December, World Day of Human Rights, standing 
tall and with the conviction that its people has 
maintained and will always maintain in victory a 
Revolution that truthfully ushered in for our 
people the real enjoyment of human rights, of all 
human rights for all the children of our homeland!

             Thank you very much (Ovation).

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