Thursday, February 23, 2017

Cuba Refuses OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro Entry To The Island

Cuba Refuses OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro Entry To The Island /

14ymedio, Havana, 22 February 2017 — The Secretary General of the
Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, has published
a letter explaining why he can not attend the Oswaldo Payá "Freedom and
Life" Award ceremony. In the letter, addressed to Rosa Maria Paya,
Almagro states that he will not come after the refusal of the Havana
authorities to grant him an entry visa to Cuba.

The Cuban consulate also denied Almagro entrance to the country using
his Uruguayan passport, with which it would not need entrance visa.

According to the Secretary General of the OAS, an official of the
Organization, Chris Hernández-Roy, was summoned to a meeting last
Thursday by the Consul of Cuba in Washington and the First Secretary of
the Consulate in which he expressed, also, the Cuban authorities'
surprise over the reason for the visit and its astonishment at the
"involvement" of Almagro in anti-Cuban activities.

The award is not recognized by the Cuban State and the activities of
Cuba Decide, an organization led by Rosa Maria Payá, "undermines the
Cuban electoral system," according to what they told the OAS.

For all these reasons, the authorities refused to grant Almagro a visa
and warned him that he would not be admitted to the country if he
attempted to board a flight bound for the island.

"We have responded to these arguments by pointing out that the only
interest on our part has been, is and will be to facilitate Cuba's
rapprochement with the values ​​and principles of the inter-American
system, both as regards the defense of democracy and the promotion and
respect for human rights, while expanding Cuba's achievements in
science, health and education to our region," said Almagro.

Almagro laments in his missive the "analysis as superficial as it is
alarmist," that has led to his visit being interpreted as a problem for
relations with the United States. He considers it "rather ridiculous"
that bilateral relations between the two countries depend simply on the
holding of the award ceremony.

He emphasizes, furthermore, that his presence on the island scheduled
for Tuesday has nothing to do with a desire to evaluate the internal
situation of Cuba or its political or ideological trends, issues on
which he says he does not consider himself competent to give an opinion.

As Almagro writes in the letter, this is not the first time an act of
this kind has been carried out in other countries of the region, and so,
he says, he has made it known to the Cuban authorities. According to the
secretary general of the OAS, these acts in other countries "are carried
out without the government necessarily supporting them, but without
censoring them, because they are part of the tolerance of democratic
systems and values," he argues.

His only concern, he says, is that he hopes that as a result of the
Cuban government's boycott of the Oswaldo Payá Award, there will be no
repression of those who organized the event. "This would be absolutely
unfair and undesirable," he warns.

Almagro argued that his presence and activities are not anti-Cuban "in
any case" and, on the contrary, his interest is that the country
develops at all levels, not forgetting the guarantee of all the rights
of its citizens.

For that reason, the Secretary General of the OAS also rejects the
"criminalization" of Cuba Decides and notes that his intention was to
honor the memory of Oswaldo Payá, so he asked that the authorities
reconsider their decision and allow him to enter the Island. "But that
was not possible," he laments.

Almagro closes his letter by reiterating to Rosa Maria Payá the high
regard he has for her, in addition to his desire to "continue working
within the framework of cooperation established between the Latin
American Network of Youth for Democracy," of which she is the current
president, "and the OAS."

The relationship of the Secretary General of the OAS with the Cuban
Government has gone through distinct phases. In November of 2014 Almagro
visited the Island for fourth time, in his role foreign minister of the
Republic of Uruguay. On that occasion he was interviewed by Cuban
Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez. However, on assuming his current
position in the OAS he became a frequent target of criticism in the
official press.

The OAS and the Government of the Island have had tense encounters for
decades, since the country was excluded from the regional organization
in January 1962, after defining its Marxist-Leninist course. In 2009 the
OAS lifted the suspension that weighed on the Island and supported its
eventual rejoining of the organization.

Almagro reiterated the invitation to Havana in early 2016 when he stated
that his heart felt that Cuba "should be back" in the body, although his
brain indicated that the process "will not go that fast."

During a meeting of the Association of Caribbean States held in Havana,
President Raúl Castro reiterated that "the OAS from its foundation was,
is and will be an instrument of imperialist domination and that no
reform could change its nature or its history. Cuba will never return to
the OAS. "

Source: Cuba Refuses OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro Entry To The
Island / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -

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