Friday, February 18, 2011

U.N. Official Urges Cuba to Heed Events in Egypt, Tunisia

U.N. Official Urges Cuba to Heed Events in Egypt, Tunisia
Published February 18, 2011

The rapporteur of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination on Thursday asked Cuba to learn from the example of
recent events in the Arab world to carry out democratic reforms on the
communist island.

Pastor Elías Murillo Martínez said that what has occurred in countries
like Egypt and Tunisia constitutes, "despite the historical and cultural
differences, a call to all governments of the world to choose the road
of democracy."

Murillo made his remarks during his speech at the session of the
Committee to review the report in which Cuba displays its respect for
the international convention on the elimination of racial discrimination.

"For decades, the international community, at the same time that it has
condemned the (U.S. economic) embargo against Cuba, has not ceased to
anxiously hope that the country will democratize itself. Therefore, the
entire world expects much of the large (Communist Party) Congress that
the Cuban government has announced for April this year, where it is
forecast that they will announce big reforms," the rapporteur said.

With regard to that, Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno
Fernandez declared that "in the last 50 years, Cuba has served as an
example of what the promotion of democracy means."

"The crisis of the traditional parties stems from the fact that those
parties have very strong links with the great centers of power and that
is not democracy," Moreno insisted.

In the area of racial discrimination, Murillo said that even if
institutional racism does not exist in Cuba, Afro-Cubans still suffer
from marginalization.

"The descendents of African slaves still suffer from structural
discrimination that is reflected in the large socioeconomic gap that
separates them from the average population," he said.

He also said that the Cuban population of African origin is
underrepresented in decision-making bodies.

In his first speech, on Wednesday, before the Committee, Deputy Minister
Moreno emphasized Cuba's advances in eliminating racial discrimination,
but he acknowledged that "certain racial prejudices derived from
historical and sociocultural factors still persist."

The Committee will release its conclusions on the Cuban report on March 11.

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