Challenges and opportunities for Cuban democrats at the UN General Assembly and Forum 2000
There is an international crisis that finds both human rights and democracy in retreat around the globe. The roots of this crisis are found both externally, with the rise of communist China as a great power, and an internal crisis of values in established democracies.
On October 17th at the United Nations the 193-member General Assembly, elected Brazil and Venezuela to the region’s two vacant spots. Brazil obtained 153 votes, followed by Venezuela with 105 votes both beating Costa Rica, that obtained only 96 votes. The two countries will each serve three-year terms on the UN Human Rights Council beginning January 1, 2020. Costa Rica has the best human rights records of the three candidates, but did not garner enough votes to get elected.
The Washington Post reported on the consequences of this vote and quoted U.N. director at Human Rights Watch, Louis Charbonneau, who observed that “with the seat, Venezuela will try to undermine scrutiny of its abuses and the abuses of its allies,” and that in “votes on some issues can be close, so we don’t need countries like Venezuela who try to undermine the good work.” This vote is an insult to international human rights standards.
Meanwhile in Cuba, U.S. economic sanctions are impacting the Castro regime and forcing it to open up the economy to obtain more hard currency for the dictatorship. The prices of household appliances and other items have been lowered, but Cubans will have to purchase them in dollars.This is part of an effort to limit US economic leverage. The United States has tightened sanctions over the Cuban dictatorship to push for the Castro regime to end its bad actions in Venezuela. Paradoxically it is forcing the regime to open up to its own population.
Despite Cuba’s role as a bad actor in Venezuela, and the unfolding crisis there, the European Union has pursued an engagement policy with the Castro regime while marginalizing the role of the Cuban opposition both at diplomatic gatherings in Cuba and international meetings in Europe.
European civil society has maintained its commitment to Cuban democrats and independent civil society.Earlier this week, over two days on October 15th and 16th in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, Forum 2000 gathered to analyze the challenges to a democratic world order that defends human rights. Forum 2000 is a joint initiative of the late Czech President Václav Havel, Japanese philanthropist Yohei Sasakawa, and the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel that was founded in 1996.
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