Cuba: Communists Burn Copies of U.N. Human Rights Declaration Before
by FRANCES MARTEL24 Jan 2016
Cuban anti-communist dissidents have denounced communist agents – many,
they say, Cuban soldiers disguised as civilians – for attacking the
headquarters of the Ladies in White group, setting a fire in front of
the building, and burning copies of the United Nations Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.
Ángel Moya, a dissident ally of the Ladies in White group and husband of
the group's leader, Berta Soler, told the Spain-based Diario de Cuba
that the attack occurred in the morning hours of Thursday, when the
group had convened for a literary tea event. A communist mob formed in
front of the group's headquarters, threatening the dissidents and
shouting insults, to which the Ladies in White responded by throwing
pamphlets out their window containing information on international human
rights law. In addition to pro-democracy literature, the women
distributed copies of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"They made a bonfire," Moya told the newspaper, with the pro-democracy
literature. "They were all soldiers dressed as civilians or people the
Party took out of their jobs to come here… none were from our
community," he noted. Martí Noticias, an American outlet headquartered
in Florida, published a photograph of the bonfire made with copies of
the UN Declaration:
Soler's group attends Catholic Mass together weekly, where they are
routinely arrested en masse and released after suffering numerous
abuses. During Pope Francis's visit to Cuba last year, Soler testified
that communist agents arrived at the headquarters with a bus, into which
they dragged the women who were hoping to attend the pope's mass in the
Plaza of the Revolution. As Soler was their leader, "they grabbed me by
the hair, by the neck, and shoved my violently into a car," to be
separated from the other women. The others arrested attested to violent
beatings once trapped in the bus.
Soler has become one of Cuba's most prominent critics of President
Barack Obama. "This won't do us any good," Soler said in July, in
response to President Obama's decision to normalize relations with the
Cuban communist regime. "We demand that violence against human rights
activists cease, especially against women." she added, "There have not
yet been any statements from either government about this."
In his announcement on December 17, 2014, the president said he was
"convinced that through a policy of engagement, we can more effectively
stand up for our values and help the Cuban people help themselves as
they move into the 21st century."
The U.S. State Department has confirmed that Cuba has made no advances
towards improving their human rights situation since President Obama
announced the policy change in 2014. In detailing human rights abuses on
the island, a report released in June noted, "the government sometimes
placed healthy prisoners, including political prisoners, in cells with
mentally disturbed inmates as punishment. Political prisoners also
reported being threatened or harassed by fellow inmates whom they
believed were acting on orders of prison authorities."
The White House has not been specific in how it has approached which
changes it seeks the Cuban government to make regarding human rights.
Speaking with reporters earlier this month, White House deputy national
security adviser Ben Rhodes said only that the United States expects
Cuba will be able to enact "some degree of change" that could be
considered "consistent with their revolution."
The Cuban government has remained steadfast in insisting they will not
alter their disposition towards violating the human rights of their
citizens, decrying outside pressure to abide by international human
rights norms. "Decision of an internal nature are not negotiable and
will never be on a conversational agenda with the United State to
negotiate over," top Cuban diplomat for U.S. affairs Josefina Vidal
said in August, following a series of talks between diplomats of the two
Source: Cuba: Communists Burn Copies of U.N. Human Rights Decree -