President Lula told action on Cuba should no longer be Latin American taboo as Havana continues to crack down

first_img Organisation Mr. Luiz Inácio Lula da SilvaPresident of the Federative Republic of BrazilPlanalto Palace, Brasília, D.F.Dear Mr. President,Appeals were addressed to you by Cuban dissidents following imprisoned dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s tragic death on 23 February. You were in Havana when Zapata died after more than 80 days on hunger strike. Some people accused you of taking too long to express your regrets at Zapata’s demise. Your comments nonetheless gave rise to hopes that you could act as a mediator with the Cuban authorities on the question of prisoners of conscience, as shown by the letter from a new Orlando Zapata Committee that the Brazilian embassy in Havana received on 9 March.Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends press freedom worldwide, supports this initiative and urges you to act on it, despite your reluctance. Brazil and the community of Latin American countries are the only ones with the ability to influence the Cuban government’s position on human rights and media freedom. Zapata’s death personally affected you as a former government opponent who was a victim of Brazil’s military dictatorship. At the same time, you said you wanted to respect a key principle of Brazilian diplomacy, which is to abstain from any direct interference in another country’s internal affairs. But in what way could reminding the Cuban authorities of fundamental and universal principles – such as the right to express one’s views freely, the right to freedom of movement and the right not to be arrested because of what one says or writes – be regarded as targeted and discriminatory interference?In the course of a dialogue with Spain, the current holder of the European Union’s rotating presidency, the Cuban authorities subscribed to these principles by signing two United Nations conventions on civil and political rights. But it now refuses to ratify them. Why?Like us, you rightly condemned the extremely grave human rights violations in Honduras after the June 2009 coup d’état. Brazil even allowed its embassy to be a refuge for the democratically-elected president who was overthrown by force. The Honduran de facto authorities accused you of interference but all you did was take a stand against injustice.Must it be otherwise for Cuba, where 200 people are in prison solely because they think differently from their leaders? They include 25 journalists, bloggers and intellectuals who are serving long sentences just because they wanted to report the news without being controlled by the government. One of them is our own correspondent, Ricardo González Alfonso, who was given a 20-year jail sentence during the March 2003 “Black Spring.” How could your government, which defends freedom of expression and access to information for its own citizens, ignore this appeal?We are aware that Cuba has long been a symbol in Latin America. The 1959 revolution overthrew a dictatorship. For the past 50 years, Cuba has been subjected to an absurd embargo that is unfair for the population but useful to the government. During a recent visit to Haiti, which owes a lot to the Brazilian presence, we were able to see the real effectiveness of the Cuban medical brigades – a source of national pride – in the assistance they were giving to the victims of the earthquake.But none of this absolves the Cuban government of the fate it inflicts on its opponents. It does not excuse the brutal treatment and humiliation of journalists, activists, trade unionists and their families. It does not justify the fact that Cubans are unable to access the Internet freely or travel abroad without permission. But anyone pointing out this other Cuban reality is unfortunately exposed to hate propaganda from those who think they are protecting Cuba’s honour but are in fact just defending a regime that that has run out of arguments.The future of Cuba and its institutions is a matter for Cubans, but Cuba’s human rights violations concern the international community and the conscience of the world, as they do in any country where these rights are flouted. To be respected, the Cuban government must be respectable. That is the meaning of the resolution that was adopted by the European Parliament on 11 March, in an almost unanimous vote involving all of it political currents.The need to act is urgent. The journalist Guillermo Fariñas Hernández has begun a hunger strike in Zapata’s memory to press for the release of prisoners of conscience. We urge him to stop but he says he is ready to die. Other dissidents will do the same in the absence of any effort by the Cuban authorities and if the silence from Cuba’s brother countries in Latin America continues.How does the Cuban government respond to the distress of these people? By persisting in its efforts to smear their reputation. Latin America, which has embarked on the road of unity and regional integration, used to suffer from dictatorships and repression. The Latin American democracies cannot continue to watch this situation drag on in Cuba without reacting. On this sad seventh anniversary of the “Black Spring,” Cuba is no longer a symbol. Cuba is no longer a taboo.I thank you in advance for your reply, which I undertake to publish, with your agreement.Respectfully,Jean-François JulliardReporters Without Borders secretary-generalPhoto : AFP Follow the news on Cuba News Help by sharing this information New press freedom predators elected to UN Human Rights Council News October 12, 2018 Find out more March 17, 2010 – Updated on January 20, 2016 President Lula told action on Cuba should no longer be Latin American taboo as Havana continues to crack down to go further May 6, 2020 Find out morecenter_img CubaAmericas October 15, 2020 Find out more Receive email alerts RSF_en Cuba and its Decree Law 370: annihilating freedom of expression on the Internet News RSF and Fundamedios welcome US asylum ruling in favor of Cuban journalist Serafin Moran Santiago CubaAmericas Newslast_img read more

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Costa Rica Urges Nicaragua to Reconsider Border Dispute

first_imgBy Dialogo December 18, 2012 Costa Rica hopes that Nicaragua will “reconsider” the inconvenience of maintaining personnel in a territory disputed at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), to restore a harmonious relationship at their common border, Costa Rican Minister of Foreign Affairs Enrique Castillo stated on December 14. “We keep the faith that Nicaragua will reconsider and understand how inconvenient it is to keep personnel in a prohibited area belonging to Costa Rica, and defying the ICJ order; it is a dagger stabbed in the heart of the Costa Rican people,” said Castillo in a statement. On December 14, the minister inaugurated the Costa Rican diplomatic headquarters in Managua, which represents “a message of Costa Rica’s presence to defend its interests,” he said. “Nicaragua has deliberately offended us, and we do not even understand the reasons,” Castillo added, while insisting that Nicaraguan authorities must clear the border area that generated the dispute being settled at the ICJ. On December 13, Castillo traveled to Managua to participate in a Central American summit representing President Laura Chinchilla, who declined to attend due to the referendum. Since October 2010, both nations have been involved in a dispute over a small territory in the eastern sector of its common frontier, called Isla Calero or Isla Portillo, which was “invaded” by Nicaragua according to San Jose’s authorities. President Daniel Ortega’s government rejects that view, and assures that the area is Nicaraguan territory. The issue is being raised in the ICJ at The Hague; however, the process is very long and could take several years before the Court issues a ruling. The bilateral conflict became heated after Costa Rica decided to build a road parallel to the San Juan River, of Nicaraguan sovereignty, which demarcates the border. According to Managua, the works caused environmental damages to the basin, which caused the Central American Court to penalize Costa Rica, the jurisdiction of which is unknown to San Jose.last_img read more

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Argentine Military Offers Humanitarian Aid to La Plata Flood Victims

first_img BUENOS AIRES — Nearly a month after a deadly storm hit La Plata, the capital of Buenos Aires province, Argentina’s Armed Forces are still involved in a massive humanitarian effort to assist the survivors. The flood, which devastated parts of Argentina on April 2, left 52 dead and disrupted the lives of another 350,000, according to official figures — roughly one-third the city’s population. More than 1,200 Army soldiers have been mobilized to distribute food, provide transport, remove debris and evacuate personnel, said the Argentine Ministry of Defense. The effort has involved 50 trucks, 16 dump trucks, 15 Unimog multi-purpose vehicles, two buses and four ambulances, as well as mechanical shovels from the Army and the Air Force. Troops participating in this effort belong to the 1st Armored Brigade Command, the Mechanical Infantry Regiment, the Armored Cavalry Exploration Squadron, the 8th Tank Cavalry Regiment and the Communications Group 601, among other military units. “Several thousand hot-food rations have been offered in different evacuation centers, as well as drinking water,” the Defense Ministry said in a public statement. Arana and City Bell garrisons are still receiving donations from all over the country and distributing emergency supplies to those in need. In the City Bell neighborhood, Army personnel work at three warehouses receiving and sorting food, bottled water and other materials, which are then transferred to the main distribution points by trucks. Teams of engineers and scientists assist the soldiers, with the 601st Engineering Battalion carrying out water purification and distribution. In turn, the Arana Regiment helps wash and dry clothes for people affected by the flood. “To that end, [the military] put into operation two laundry machines, with a capacity of more than 30 kilograms each, two industrial dryers, and 20 ironing boards,” the Army said. Joint security operation Buenos Aires State Police [Policía Bonaerense], the Argentine Naval Prefecture and the Argentine National Gendarmerie are also assisting victims of the tragedy in La Plata. Ricardo Casal, security minister of the Province of Buenos Aires, said a special joint security operation has been launched in the most affected areas to maintain order at night. “More than 400 policemen are been deployed in Los Hornos, Villa Elvira, San Carlos and Tolosa neighborhoods,” Casal told local media. He said the stepped-up police presence is key to preventing looting. On April 2, the day of the flood, about 100 people looted a local supermarket. The torment that hit La Plata was one of the most violent in Argentine history. Between 300 and 400 millimeters of rain fell over the course of three hours, according to authorities. A preliminary report by the municipal government said the flood damaged 58,000 properties, or one-fourth of all buildings in the city. Of that total, 55,761 were households and the remaining 2,846 shops and garages. Daniel Scioli, governor of Buenos Aires province, said the situation is unprecedented. “We’ve never seen anything like this,” Scioli said. “People were taken by surprise, and some didn’t have time to escape this deadly trap.” By Dialogo April 29, 2013last_img read more

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