Wednesday, April 22, 2009


NEW YORK (April 22, 2009)— The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) sent a legal opinion and letter to José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), asking that he stop promoting the violation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. His recent declarations that he “will request” that member states of the OAS “eliminate” the “obsolete” 1962 resolution that excluded Cuba from participation in the OAS show not only negligence in the fulfillment of his duties but also a blatant disregard for the democratic commitment of the OAS.

"It is a scandal that Mr. Insulza would support Latin America’s worst human rights violator and ask that OAS member states defy the Democratic Charter," said Javier El-Hage, HRF’s General Counsel. “Article 19 of the Charter prohibits the participation of an antidemocratic government in the OAS, but Mr. Insulza seems determined to erase with the stroke of a pen a compromise that took decades of suffering and sacrifice,” added El-Hage.

HRF’s letter details how Cuba has not complied with a single essential element of democracy as set forth by Article 3 of the Democratic Charter. With respect to the requirement that it “respect rights and fundamental freedoms,” HRF cites seven reports by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights stating that the current Cuban government has perpetrated a number of grave crimes. These crimes include summary executions, arbitrary detentions, torture, rape, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of men and women who have been persecuted and incarcerated solely for political reasons. With regard to freedom of the press, HRF cites special reports that show that, after China, Cuba has the highest number of incarcerated journalists in the world and that it ranks as one of the top ten censors of the press, along with North Korea and Libya.

Regarding the requirement that countries hold democratic free elections, maintain a pluralistic system of political parties, and govern in accordance with the rule of law, the letter states that the Cuban people have not been able to elect their leaders democratically for more than half a century. In 1948, Fulgencio Batista forced his way to power until his overthrow in 1959, when Fidel Castro forced his own rule, which lasts until today. The letter also highlights that Cuba maintains a single-party regime with all powers concentrated in the Communist Party, which continues to be led by Fidel Castro, as well as in the State Council, which effectively controls the state's legislative and judicial powers, and which was presided by Fidel Castro until 2006.
"For nearly half a century the Cuban people have been forced to endure an extreme situation that cruelly confirms that democracy is absolutely indispensable for the effective exercise of human rights," said El-Hage. “This situation, according to the Democratic Charter, ‘constitutes an insurmountable obstacle’ for the Cuban government to participate in the OAS. However, rather than exercising his duty under the Charter, Mr. Insulza seeks support for the most antidemocratic government in the hemisphere. His actions are breathtakingly preposterous,” concluded El-Hage.

“The Inter-American Democratic Charter and Mr. Insulza” project consists of monthly digests to Secretary General Insulza detailing violations of human rights and essential elements of democracy in the continent, with the hope that he will fulfill his obligation and implement the Democratic Clause in defense of democracy and human rights in the Americas.

HRF is an international nonpartisan organization devoted to defending human rights in the Americas. It centers its work on the twin concepts of freedom of self-determination and freedom from tyranny. These ideals include the belief that all human beings have the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF does not support nor condone violence.
HRF’s International Council includes former prisoners of conscience Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Armando Valladares, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.
Read the April 21, 2009
letter sent by HRF to Secretary General Insulza here.

Contact: Javier El-Hage, Human Rights Foundation
(212) 246.8486

Contact: José Miguel Insulza
Organization of American States
(202) 458-6836

Human Rights Foundation
350 Fifth Avenue,
#4515New York, NY 10118
Phone: (212) 246-8486
Fax: (212) 643-4278

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