Why the United Nations Covenants?
Why the United Nations Covenants? / Antonio Rodiles
Posted on March 3, 2014
On 28 February 2008, the Havana regime signed, as a propaganda maneuver,
the United Nations Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. At that time Raul Castro was
seeking to legitimate his figure in the international arena and to
project himself as a future option for the country.
Six years later, Raul Castro can no longer be taken as a reformist. He
now sells himself as the person who can close a chapter in Cuba’s
history, offering the international community and the country’s allies a
supposed controlled transition and offering his heirs as the only option
for “governability” and “stability.” However, the hereditary group
represents only the extension of a decadent system plagued by corruption.
Backed by this logic, a new anti-embargo offensive is gaining traction.
Several actors and influence groups in the United States are seeking a
blank check for the ruling elite and their beneficiaries. Elite who bear
the main responsibility for the national disaster and the systematic
violation of fundamental rights and freedoms. The offensive is also
passing through Europe and Latin America. In the latter case, the main
chess piece is beginning to be Brazil, now that Venezuela, in its
decline, ceases to be a partner that guarantees stability in the medium
However, the recent “desertions” of Cuban professionals from the
Brazilian “More Doctors” program, and its possible legal consequences,
are evidence that the Brazilian situation is very different from that of
the “Bolivarian brother,” and that it could quickly become more complex
than expected. Brazil, with its ambition to establish itself as a
regional power, is focused on a much longer term scenario. In order to
sustain and widen its business presence, it needs a smooth transition
process on the island, resulting in at least a stable free market system
and full reestablishment of relations between the government in Havana
and the United States.
On the other hand, negotiations with the European Union on a bilateral
accord are moving forward, although according to statements from
representatives of the EU, we’re looking at a process that could take at
least two years. Sadly, some of the countries involved have bought into
the ideas of “governability” and “stability” mentioned above, in the
short term. Ignoring the terrible consequences of supporting a system
sustained by corruption and state violence. Others, however, continue to
demand a focus on human rights as a minimum guarantee for an eventual
Meanwhile, the regime is silent before the European proposal, choosing a
surgical repression on the island to avoid widespread discontent
beginning to capitalize on open demands to the system. Repressing
against activists is increasing and promises to worsen as the scenario
becomes more complex.
At the same time, the Cuban Catholic Church, after a pastoral letter
where it seemed to shift its questionable performance, continues to
maintain a complicit silence in the face of repression. Recently the
editors of the magazine Lay Space, a Catholic platform, declared that
respect for human rights should not be a condition for relations with
Havana. Regrettable statements from an institution that should assume
respect for human dignity as its principle premise. No one should forget
that legitimacy within a society is not achieved spontaneously.
To promote the false hope that a regime like the current one will evolve
naturally into a modern democracy is at the very least naive, especially
if what is blindingly obvious in Cuba is the construction of an
authoritarian capitalism, sustained by State violence, corruption and
and political patronage. To freely award room to maneuver to those who
know no respect or ethics and who immediately show their criminal
profile, is a mistake.
At the recent summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean
States (CELAC), one of the few statements that carried any weight was
the request from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon that the
Cuban regime ratify the UN Covenants. The campaign “For Another Cuba,”
an initiative begun on the island almost two years ago, is working in
this direction, looking not only for ratification but for implementation
of these international covenants. In the context described above, it
would give us a magnificent tool for the political game inside and
outside the island.
Clearly the results still don’t reach the hoped for level, but the more
than 4,000 signatures, the work of promoting and distributing the
“Citizen Demand” inside the country, the request of Ban Ki Moon, as well
at the possible bilateral accord proposed by the European Union, create
an excellent environment to continue to focus on this campaign.
Cubans on island are fed up with a totally decadent regime, but they
fear being the target of the excessive violence of the State and its
paramilitary groups. The Covenants as a civic demand is a campaign that,
precisely because it involves ordinary citizens, carries an implicit
international legitimacy. The demand for these covenants also provides
democratic and friendly governments a target for a direct and specific
demand to the Havana regime. At the same time, implementation would
serve as a road map to advance the process of democratization through
changes in the whole constitutional and legal structure, pegged to the
binding nature of such agreements.
To demand the ratification and implementation of the Covenants is an
interesting tool that we have barely explored. The “For Another Cuba”
campaign has borne only its initial fruits. Those who want to help
democratic change in Cuba from abroad, should pay attention to this
effort undertaken on the island and take a careful reading of the
interior pulse, so as not to contribute to efforts that are fracturing
and dismantling. If we want to be objective and work with real
variables, without creating false expectations, we have to observe the
tempos that, on the island, are marked not only by the opponents, but
also by the citizens.
Antonio Rodiles, 3 March 2014
Source: Why the United Nations Covenants? / Antonio Rodiles |
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