Cuba applauds UN human rights watchdog's decision to stop investigating the island
2007-06-19 23:58:04 -
HAVANA (AP) - Cuba claimed a «historic victory» Tuesday after the U.N.'s new human rights watchdog agreed to halt efforts to monitor its human rights record.
The U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva decided to discontinue examinations of the rights situation in Cuba and Belarus, and to continue its scrutiny of Israel. The council was formed last year to replace the U.N. Human Rights Commission, where the United States had more political influence. The U.S. is only an observer to the new 47-nation council.
The decision angered Cuban-American politicians in the United States, where Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, said she would seek to cut off any U.S. funding to the council.
«To its shame, the U.N. Human Rights Council celebrated its first birthday by giving gifts to Fidel Castro, the authoritarian regime in Belarus and the enemies of the democratic state of Israel,» she said.
But Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque called it «a historic victory in the fight of our people for justice.
The decision ends «the anti-Cuban practice that the United States created solely as a pretext to maintain and exacerbate the political genocide that are its blockade and aggressions against Cuba.
Washington's 45-year-old embargo chokes off nearly all U.S. commerce with communist-run Cuba.
The U.S. and the now-defunct commission have accused Havana of numerous rights violations, including the jailing of critics and limits on speech.
But Perez Roque says the Cuban government respects human rights more than many wealthy nations by guaranteeing its citizens broad social services such as largely free health care, housing and education, and heavily subsidized food and transportation. He also noted the global criticism for the U.S. treatment of suspects in its prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
JG: From now on this blog is subtitled 'La Loba Feroz Watch.'