July 2007: Cuban Ambassador replies to my call for information on alleged Prisoners of Conscience in Cuban jails
During my visit to Cuba in August 2006, I had arranged to send the Cuban Minister of Justice, Roberto Sotolongo, information from Amnesty International on alleged cases of people being imprisoned in Cuban jails for no other crime than disagreeing with the current administration (so called Prisoners of Conscience - POCs).
After sending an email to the Minister in November, and having received no reply, I sent an email and further letters to the Cuban Ambassador, René Mujica Cantelar. I was pleased to finally receive a formal response this month. Unfortunately the Ambassador refused to answer the allegations from Amnesty that there are 69 POCs in Cuban jails nor the specific information I provided on the cases of Pablo Pacheco Avila, Oscar Elías Biscet González and Omar Rodríguez Saludes. The Ambassador stated:
"The subject of your above mentioned letters has to be considered in the context of what is for Cuba a complex international political situation that puts her at risk. For Cuba the sole dignifed and practical option in the matter has been to draw a line of principle and not engage in argument about slanderous charges. While this may baffle some of Cuba's friends, it is part of how Cuba, in defending herself from the onslaught of those advesaries, protects herself from playing into their hands. We are confident that, in the end, the truth will prevail."
The Ambassador's letter also attached two press statements from the Cuban administration, one defends its Human Rights record, and the other provides its position on perceived foreign threats to the Revolution from abroad.
I am dissapointed that Cuba has decided not to acknowledge the concerns of an objective and balanced organisation such as Amnesty International. To dismiss such enquiries, I believe, actually does a disservice to Cuba as it provides amunition for her enemies to foster suspicion of her in the eyes of the international community.
As I outline in my report of my visit to Cuba, there are some stunning successes to the Revolution, such as the number of doctors and standard of education. I deeply admire these achievements and believe they should serve as an example to the rest of the world. But until Cuba becomes more open and transparent, I believe these successes will be overshadowed by concerns that the administration does not uphold the Human Rights of its citizens.
So that each view is fairly represented, the below links will take you to the Ambassador's letter, the report of my visit to Cuba and Amnesty's assessment of the Human Rights situation in the country.
Click here to read my report on my visit to Cuba
Cuban Ambassador letter p1, p2, p3, p4, p5, p6
Click here to read Amnesty International's assessment of the state of Human Rights in Cuba
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