Lies, damned lies and Cuban ‘diplomacy’
OUR OPINION: U.N. body’s questions put Cuba in the dock
Even by the standards of Cuban diplomacy — a web of deceit and cover for espionage — the performance of the Castro representive before the Geneva-based Convention on Torture last week has been a mind-lowing exercise in hypocrisy and Orwellian double-talk.
• To the committee’s questions about penalties against dissent, Cuban representative Rafael Pino Becquer, deputy attorney general, said no one declared “socially dangerous” by law has been sanctioned: “Rather, they were influenced by education programs and thus re-educated.” File that under punishment by another name.
• How about Cubans detained without notice and held incommunicado? According to the Convention’s own report of the session, Pino said incommunicado detention does not exist, and that “detention upon arrest may not exceed 24 hours and that every detainee had access to a doctor.” Deny, deny, deny.
• Asked about harassment of human rights defenders and independent journalists, Cuba’s representatives simply declared that they “were not genuine human rights defenders.” An outright lie.
And so it went. The entire Cuban reply to the questions posed by members of the U.N.-affiliated body consisted of a series of clumsy evasions and pants-on-fire whoppers. (“The intelligence services did not [i.e., do not] detain people.” Or this one: “Any person who suffered damage or prejudice caused by State officials acting within their official function could claim reparation and compensation by law.”) The trick there is “by law” — not by practice. The reality of Cuba is that the law on any given day is whatever the Castro brothers ordain.
To listen to Cuban officials, the island is a virtual civil liberties utopia, with habeas corpus enshrined in law and rigorously enforced (as if), and their prisons model venues of rehabilitation: “Cuba had a progressive approach to detention.”
If the latter is true, why does Cuba forbid the International Red Cross to visit the island’s prisons? Why has Manfred Nowak, the U.N.’s expert on torture, repeatedly been denied access to those prisons, despite a supposed “invitation” from Cuba back in 2009?
Maybe it’s because conditions in those prisons are so horribly wretched, as a video smuggled out of the prison and posted on The Miami Herald website makes plain, that Mr. Nowak would be nauseated if Cuba allowed him to conduct a genuine inspection.
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