Rosa Maria Paya Opposes Cuba’s Election to the UNHRC

Remarks of Rosa Maria Paya at UN Watch Press Conference, October 9, 2020

Speaking at UN Watch’s press conference today concerning next week’s elections to the 47-nation U.N. Human Rights Council, Cuban rights activist Rosa Maria Paya urged countries not to elect Cuba. See her remarks below. UN Watch published a detailed report on the elections which examines the pledges and human rights record of each country running. Click here for the report.

Greetings to you all, and a special thanks to Hillel and UN Watch for providing this opportunity.

In 2013, Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, received and circulated a petition to create an international committee in order to conduct an independent investigation into the killing of Cuban political activist Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas. July 22 will mark nine years since my father, Oswaldo Payá, was assassinated by the Cuban communist regime. The investigation has yet to be conducted by the UN while the Cuban regime is again seeking a seat on the Human Rights Council, from where they pretend to protect their impunity and ensure sure that the multiple accusations against them, or against the rest of their criminal friends, in Venezuela, China, Russia, Belarus, etc. do not prosper.

We know that as a fact, because that impunity has been guaranteed each time the Cuban regime has been seated in the Council. Personally, I have been publicly interrupted, attacked, and even threatened by the ambassadors of the dictatorship in coordination with representatives from other regimes such as Russia, China, and Venezuela while addressing the plenary session of the Human Rights Council. All of these regimes act in gangs, conspiring together to cover their backs and deplete the mission of the Human Rights Council of content and effectiveness.

 The existence of a candidacy without competition of the Cuban dictatorship is not only an outrage against the Cuban people, but also a shame on the governments that sit in the United Nations. So, my words today are especially addressed to the member states of the European Union and the democracies of the Americas which should not legitimize with their vote the presence in the Human Rights Council of the longest dictatorship in our hemisphere. We urge you to vote against the Cuban dictatorship in the highest human rights body.

Actually, the 60-year tolerance of totalitarianism in Cuba demonstrated by the free world has impeded the stability of democracy in our continent and caused serious threats to the national security of several states. As has been widely documented, the Cuban intelligence apparatus of the Castro regime infiltrated the entire hemisphere, from social movements to guerrillas and criminal organizations. During these years, Cuba has served as a center for the dissemination of authoritarian models, such as the so-called “21st century socialism.” The Cuban dictators are involved in criminal and terrorist activities: drug trafficking, trafficking persons through the Communists Medical Brigades, corruption, and providing sanctuary and support to terrorists as recently denounced by the Colombian government.

 In fact, last year, the attacks on democratic regimes in Latin America have been especially intense and even violent, according to the allegations of the OAS General Secretariat. That entity that was forced to make itself available to “the member states in their efforts to confront the destabilizing actions organized by the Venezuelan and Cuban dictatorships.”

Solidarity is crucial now because Cuba is in crisis. Families are living through a deep humanitarian crisis and political repression, a crisis caused by the existence of a corrupt and criminal regime and aggravated by the Covid-19. However, amid hunger and medicine shortages, Cuban regime authorities have been blocking the release of humanitarian aid sent by the Cuban exile community in a citizen-led initiative to help their brothers and sisters on the island. For months now, Castro and Diaz Canel have been arbitrarily withholding the cargo, demonstrating that the dictatorship is the true blockade between the aid and the Cuban people.

We are talking about a regime that imposes a single-party system and prohibits the exercise of politics, freedom of expression and association, and even religious freedom.

All the democracies of the world, especially those that sit in the OAS and in the European Union, must vote against the Cuban dictators.  Josep Borrell and Michelle Bachelet must publicly protest against this candidacy. To do otherwise would be an act of complicity with criminals, an act of treason to the Cuban people and, frankly, a sabotage of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.

It is imperative that all of the nations in the free world support the Cuban people’s fight for change because the victory of democracy in Cuba is essential to open the path to peace, prosperity and stability in the whole hemisphere.

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