CUBA SAYS: 'HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS' ARE MADE IN U.S.A.
By Portia Seigelbaum
HAVANA -- Washington has announced that Cuban "human rights violations"
will be its top priority when the U.N. Human Rights Commission meets
this month in Geneva. In response, Cuban officials bitterly complained
that the play being acted out in Geneva has been "held over several
seasons too long."
While Cuban authorities have taken new measures to combat
counter-revolutionary activity by Miami-based "contras," observers here
say that the Cuban government "has simply decided to take preventative
measures." That opinion appears confirmed by a Communist Party
spokesman who says protecting lives and avoiding the destruction of
state or private property is the top priority.
During a recent Havana conference to review the 1962 missile
crisis, Robert McNamara, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, told
journalists, "Cuba doesn't violate human rights," although he said there
"could be some quarrel over the way civil rights are observed."
The U.S. is using the Jan. 20 execution of Eduardo Diaz
Betancourt to fan the anti-Cuban flames.
Betancourt, the confessed head of a three-man infiltration and
sabotage team, was picked up last December in Cuba's Matanzas Province.
The news of the infiltrators' capture coincided with a bloody triple
murder at a seaside children's camp east of Havana for which seven
people have been arrested.
Cuban officials, and ordinary citizens alike, express outrage
over the killings. All blame U.S. policy.
"If Washington didn't give the exiles free reign, this wouldn't
happen," said one University of Havana scholar. An old woman who had
lined up to walk past the casket of the three victims, told me, "The
U.S. is to blame. They welcome every crook and rapist who steals a boat
or a raft and makes their way to Miami."
The anger is fanned by reports carried by CNN and echoed in news
service stories from Mexico giving wide coverage to the military
training of Cuban exiles in South Florida. Scenes of simulated
invasions of Cuba have been given wide coverage in the media, as have
public boasts of self-styled "freedom fighters" such as Tony Cuesta. In
the aftermath of the capture of the Matanza Three, Cuesta and his group,
Commando L (Liberty) took credit for the operation and said more
infiltrations were in the wings.
Cubans are particularly incensed at the link between
infiltrations and home grown dissidents. An address book found in the
possession of Betancourt contained the names, telephone numbers and
addresses of two Havana "human rights activists." In court testimony,
Betancourt revealed that contra leaders in Miami instructed him to
contact those men if needed.
Officials here say that groups such as the newly formed Third
Option "are cut from the same cloth" as the rest. Formed by a handful
of intellectuals professing a social democratic line, the Third Option
has already moved to form an alliance with the equally small Committee
for Human Rights and National Reconciliation headed by Elizardo Sanchez
Sanchez' close ally, Sebastian Arcos, openly calls for sabotage
inside the country.
Efforts by this reporter to check out the alleged existence of
two independent unions, one in a seaport and another in the countryside,
have turned up only one man with illusions of being Lech Walesa who has
Nevertheless, Radio Marti and the U.S. make much of Cuba's
reported repression of these trade union rights. "These are 'made in
the U.S.A.' criticisms," say union officials here.
In the view of many U.N. observers, "the current uni-polar
world" makes it "almost impossible" to prevent the Commission from
adopting some kind of U.S.-sponsored resolution.
At the very least, Havana expects to be chastised for ignoring
last year's resolution on the subject.
Source: People's Weekly World (212) 924-2523 Feb. 15 issue
235 West 23 St., New York, NY 10011
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