As noted by CNN reporter Daniel Matamala, UN Watch was the first in the world to raise the problematic ties of new UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet with Latin America’s human rights abusing dictatorships, including Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
UN Watch’s tweets on the subject — in English and Spanish — went viral, and were widely shared among influencers concerned with human rights in those abuser states.
GENEVA, August 8, 2018 — In reaction to the news of @MBachelet's nomination as the next @UNHumanRights chief, UN Watch said it had “serious concerns” over her spotty record on supporting human rights in #Cuba, #Nicaragua, and #Venezuelahttps://t.co/g8QU4UgTi2
— UN Watch (@UNWatch) August 8, 2018
• U.S. SPEAKS OUT: In wake of UN Watch’s press release (see below), the U.S. delegation to the UN issued a powerful statement calling on the new UN rights chief to address Cuba and Venezuela. “The UN system has failed to adequately address major human rights crises in Iran, North Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and elsewhere, or stop its chronic, disproportionate obsession with Israel. It is up to Ms. Bachelet to speak out against these failures rather than accept the status quo.”
• MEDIA REPORTS: UN Watch’s statement on Bachelet was quoted by leading Spanish newspapers La Vanguardia and ABC, Fox News, Eurasia Review, CNS News, as well as Diario de Cuba, Martí Noticias and Diario Concepción.
• HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS: The Human Rights Foundation tweeted that it “shares UN Watch’s concern over Bachelet’s fitness to hold the highest UN human rights office, due to her track record cozying up to Latin American dictators.”
Italy’s Matteo Angioli, Secretary of the Global Committee for the Rule of Law and activist with the Non-Violent Radical Party, also posted UN Watch’s statement. Dissident Rosa Maria Paya noted that Cuba and Venezuela praised Bachelet’s appointment.
Human Rights Watch chief Ken Roth initially had only praise for Bachelet. But under pressure after UN Watch reminded him how his own Latin American director had previously slammed Bachelet’s record on both Cuba and Venezuela, Roth reversed course and shared a sharp critique by Cuban dissident Yoani Sanchez. He acknowledged that Bachelet had “downplayed repression by leftist Latin American governments such as Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.”
• INFLUENCERS: Major influencers who shared UN Watch’s Bachelet concerns on social media included fearless Florida congresswoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Mary Anastasia O’Grady, Venezuelan journalist Alberto Rodriguez, Venezuelan author Leonardo Padrón, NYU professor Patricio Navia, Chilean lawyer and ex-presidential candidate José Antonio Kast, Chilean lawyer and politician Tomás Jocelyn-Holt, Chilean activist and lawyer Luis Mariano Rendón, Venezuelan author Karl Krispin and German writer Alex Feuerherdt.
No joke: @UN says @MBachelet's close ties to Maduro & Castro dictatorships is a #good thing—because, as UN rights chief, "the important point is to reach out to all leaders and be able to have a dialogue with them…" All in reaction to UN Watch's release: https://t.co/NRQtd0lG0Q pic.twitter.com/ATwjlfa4hV
— UN Watch (@UNWatch) August 13, 2018
• UN SPOX ON DEFENSIVE: Amid the backlash, UN spokesman Farhan Haq was put on the defensive (video) over Bachelet’s appointment. Asked at his daily press briefing about UN Watch’s concerns over Bachelet’s ties to the Castro and Maduro regimes, Haq stumbled to find a response. Then he settled on portraying her proximity to the human rights abusers as a good thing — because, in her new post as UN rights chief, “the important point is to reach out to all leaders and be able to have a dialogue with them…”
GINEBRA, 8/8/2018 – Frente a noticia de la nominación de @mbachelet para ser Alta Comisionada para los Derechos Humanos de ONU, UN Watch dijo tener “serias preocupaciones” sobre su historial en relación a defender los DDHH en #Cuba, #Nicaragua y #Venezuelahttps://t.co/mQCGOikLXx
— UN Watch en Español (@UNWatch_es) August 9, 2018