Monday, March 30, 2009

Amnesty International critical of Cuba’s exclusion from the Summit of the Americas

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Monday, March 30 2009

AMNESTY International in a public statement said the exclusion of Cuba from the Fifth Summit of the Americas is not helpful in achieving improved respect for human rights in Cuba.

Heads of State and Government of all countries in the Americas, except for Cuba, will gather for the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, April 17 to 19. They will discuss some of the most serious challenges facing the region and advance a regional agenda for the promotion of human prosperity, energy security and environmental sustainability.

The absence of Cuba, the only country to be excluded, Amnesty International said will diminish attempts to find regional solutions to regional problems.

“The battle of ideologies in the context of the Cold War that led to the exclusion of Cuba in 1962 from the Organisation of American States no longer prevails. While all Latin American and Caribbean nations have slowly bridged their differences with Cuba, the US government maintains a policy of isolation that has reached its limits, has not achieved its stated objectives and is impeding Cuba’s growth and development. The USA is now the only country in the Americas not to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba.” the organisation noted.

Amnesty International urged the US government to lift the nearly five-decade long economic and trade embargo against Cuba “as it is detrimental to the fulfilment of the economic and social rights of the Cuban people.

“It obstructs and constrains efforts by the Cuban government to purchase essential medicines, medical equipment and supplies, food and agricultural products, construction materials and access to new technologies. The embargo also denies Cuban-Americans their right to travel freely to their country of origin. The embargo has been overwhelmingly rejected by the United Nations General Assembly for the past seventeen years,” the organisation said.

“Although the US administration has recently eased remittances and travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans, and has allowed US companies more flexibility in selling food and medicine to Cuba, these measures are limited to the end of the current fiscal year.”

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