The United States welcomes the opportunity to comment on the adoption of the Working Group’s report.
We regret that the Cuban delegation dedicated considerable time and attention to distorting the United States’ policy toward Cuba. The United States is a deep and abiding friend of the Cuban people, a fact that runs quite counter to the narrative the Cuban delegation tries vigorously to promote. The United States is one of Cuba’s principal trading partners and in 2012, the United States was Cuba’s largest supplier of food and agricultural products. The United States is the second largest source of foreign visitors to Cuba and U.S. citizens are the largest source of direct private assistance for Cuban families, sending billions of dollars in remittances and goods from the United States.
We note the Government’s will to examine all recommendations made at the working group and we look forward to thoughtful responses that reflect the reality on the island.
During the review, several states recommended that the government halt short-term, extra-judicial detentions, harassments and other repressive measures against human rights defenders and independent civil society activists, including the use of government-organized mobs or acts of repudiation. Cuban authorities frequently prevent the freedom of peaceful assembly by members of Cuba’s independent civil society. Democracy advocate Oswaldo Payá was often a target of the Cuban government’s propaganda and repudiation tactics. We again call on the Cuban government to allow an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the July 2012 deaths of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.
We note that the Cuban delegation claimed the government – a one party state where all but the Communist Party are banned – recognized all citizens’ rights to freedoms of opinion and expression. However, a significant number of States made recommendations on the need to remove restrictions on freedom of expression, including for members of the press, and the free flow of information to, from, and within the island, including via the Internet. [Note: The time was graveled at this point in the statement and the full intervention could not be read.]
- Cross posted at U.S. Mission Geneva