Friday, March 27, 2015

Cuba, US to launch human rights dialogue Tuesday

Cuba, US to launch human rights dialogue Tuesday
03/26/2015 10:21 PM 03/26/2015 10:21 PM

Cuba and the United States will debate human rights at a meeting in
Washington on Tuesday in another sign of the thaw between the countries
as they try to re-establish normal diplomatic relations after a 50-year

The discussions seem unlikely to lead to short-term changes in the way
either country views rights issues. The U.S. is expected to press Cuba
to allow its citizens greater freedom of speech, assembly and political
activity. Cuba likely will respond with its own critiques of poverty,
insufficient health-care coverage and excessive police force in the
United States.

But observers say even the start of a dialogue is an indication of
progress in the countries' broader move to normalize relations.

The U.S. had hoped to open an embassy in Havana by next month's Summit
of the Americas in Panama. Both sides have gone silent on the state of
negotiations with two weeks until the summit, raising the question of
whether restoring full diplomatic relations will be more complicated
than some initially hoped.

Other tracks, however, appear to be moving ahead as planned. A U.S.
delegation of government telecommunications experts on Thursday wrapped
up a three-day trip to Havana that included meetings with Cuban
officials and academics to explain a new policy permitting greater
American private sector dealings with the island's state-run telecoms

The U.S. policy is designed to increase connectivity between the outside
world and Cuba, which has one of the world's lowest rates of Internet
use and steep international calling costs that make calling family
abroad out of bounds for many people here.

Pedro Luis Pedroso, Cuba's deputy director for multilateral affairs and
international law, told reporters Thursday that "these conversations
about human rights show that Cuba is ready to discuss any topic with the
U.S., despite our differences, and from a basis of equality."

U.S. and Cuban diplomats have said they expect human rights talks to
become an ongoing feature of their countries' relationship.

Cuba is also holding continuing talks on human rights as part of broader
discussions with the European Union. John Caulfield, who led the U.S.
Interests Section in Havana until last summer, said he believed that
regular discussion of rights could have a moderating effect on Cuba's
treatment of dissidents, who regularly undergo short-term detentions in
response to protests.

"The very fact, I think, that Cuba is in a formal process where they
agreed to talk about human rights to the European Union and the United
States makes it more difficult for them to do the heavy-handed stuff
they've done in the past," Caulfied said.

Source: Cuba, US to launch human rights dialogue Tuesday | Miami Herald
Miami Herald -

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