News and Facts about Cuba

Amnesty International meets in Miami to discuss world’s most pressing human rights issues

Amnesty International meets in Miami to discuss world’s most pressing
issues

The meeting has brought together more than 1,000 activists
Panelists take on the question of human rights in Cuba
Amnesty says undermines human rights on the island
BY MIMI WHITEFIELD

With a new U.S.-Cuba relationship opening up the possibility of change,
lawyer Laritza Diversent Cambara thinks it’s an advantageous time for
civil society groups like hers to press for legal recognition and more
space.

Not only does Diversent, director of Cubalex, a Havana-based
organization that gives legal and human rights advice, want the group to
be legally recognized but she also thinks it should participate in the
political process in Cuba.

Diversent took part in a a panel on of , dissent and
the in Cuba Friday during the opening day of Amnesty
International USA’s annual meeting in Miami.

The meeting, which is being held at the Doubletree Miami &
Convention Center, has brought together more than 1,000 human rights
activists to discuss everything from protecting Central American
migrants and Cuban dissidents to gun in the Americas and
women’s rights. It concludes Sunday.

“Through our voices, our actions, our advocacy, our art, we have the
power to create a world that truly values human rights,” said Ann
Burroughs, chairman of AIUSA. “Whether this means urging our leaders to
respect the rights of refugees, protect freedom of expression, or end
mass incarceration, together we can make an impact on this city, this
country and the entire world.”

Diversent said the most pressing human rights problem in Cuba now is
repression against human rights activists. The number of short-term
detentions has climbed steadily in the past year.

“You can’t talk about development and security unless human rights are
respected in a country,” she said.

Cuban officials have said that human rights should be viewed through the
prism of social well-being and point to Cuba’s healthcare system, free
and international medical missions. But Diversent said free
education and healthcare don’t excuse repression.

During the Seventh Congress of Cuba’s Communist Party later this month,
electoral reform is one of the topics and a new electoral law governing
the 2018 elections is expected to be adopted.

As an independent civil society organization, Cubalex has proposed three
electoral reforms it would like to see adopted, including allowing
candidates for office at all levels to represent a movement, a political
party or political civic organization and to carry out campaigns.

Andro Nodarse-Leon, vice of the Cuban American National
Foundation, said it’s impossible to bring about change with the current
political structure in Cuba. What’s needed, he said, is a decoupling of
the Cuban government from its “omni-presence in the lives of Cubans,”
especially its role as the main employer on the island.

Although Amnesty opposes the embargo against Cuba and says it undermines
human rights, Nodarse-Leon said now isn’t the time to lift it. First, he
said, conditions must be created in Cuba to ensure that the Cuban people
benefit rather than a handful of people. If the embargo were lifted
tomorrow, he said, “the outcome wouldn’t be a good one for the Cuban
people.”

The GDP might go up, he said, but Cuba would fall short in realizing its
true potential if the embargo were lifted now.

But Mavis Anderson, a senior associate at the Latin American Working
Group, an activist organization, said now is the time to work toward
ending the embargo. She outlined the bills pending in Congress to allow
free by Americans to the island and to reduce some of the
business restrictions imposed by the embargo.

“There is some new energy in Congress [for changes in Cuba policy]
believe it or not, especially among Republicans,” she said.

While she said the changes made by the Obama administration to allow
more travel and commerce with Cuba are positive, they “need to be
written into law” so they cannot be changed at whim by the next president.

She cited polls showing growing public support for lifting the embargo
and said, “Congress needs to catch up with its constituents.”

Her advice to those in the audience: “Travel to Cuba yourself, talk to
the Cuban people and bring their message back to your legislators at home.”

Source: Amnesty International meets in Miami to discuss world’s most
pressing human rights issues | Miami Herald –
www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article69576512.html

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