The United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Friday July 16 for the urgent release of those arrested during protests in Cuba. Michelle Bachelet calls for dialogue, while calling for the lifting of the sanctions affecting the country.
The Cuban population is facing serious shortages, made worse by the economic crisis that is hitting the country – the worst in thirty years. The island was shaken on July 11 by historic demonstrations, on a scale unprecedented since the 1959 revolution.
One dead and a hundred arrests
“I urge the government to respond to the demands of the demonstrators through dialogue and to fully respect and protect the rights of all individuals to peaceful assembly and to freedom of opinion and expression”said Mme Bachelet in a press release.
“I deeply regret the death of a protester in the context of the protests in Havana; it is important that an independent, transparent and effective investigation is carried out and that those responsible are punished ”, she added. The former president of Chile also reiterated “His call for the lifting of unilateral sectoral sanctions, given their negative impact on human rights, including the right to health”.
Havana, under US sanctions since 1962, attributed the responsibility for these excesses to Washington, which is pursuing a “Economic strangulation policy to provoke social unrest”. The Cuban government announced on Wednesday a first round of measures to appease the population, in particular by facilitating the entry to the island of food and medicine.
The mobilizations, some of which continued on Monday, left one dead and more than a hundred detained, causing concern in the international community. “I am very concerned about the alleged excessive use of force against demonstrators in Cuba and the arrest of a large number of people, including several journalists”, underlined Mme Bachelet. “It is particularly worrying that among them are people believed to be held incommunicado and people whose whereabouts are not known. All those detained for exercising their rights must be released as a matter of urgency ”, she added.
Joe Biden ready to “help the people of Cuba”
The President of the United States responded Thursday to criticism addressed to his administration concerning the reaction of the United States to this crisis. Joe Biden assured at a joint press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel that he was considering ” Several things (…) to help the people of Cuba ”, a “Failed state which oppresses its citizens”.
In particular, he announced that he was ready to send “Significant quantities” anti-Covid-19 vaccines “If, in fact, [il était] certain that an international organization would administer these vaccines and do so in a way that citizens have access to these vaccines ”, Cuba not having joined the UN Covax program. The United States is also checking whether it has the “Technological capabilities” necessary for “Recovery” mobile Internet cut off on the Communist Island, he added.
Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, after a brief reconciliation between 2014 and 2016, are at their lowest since the tenure of Donald Trump. During the time spent at the head of the country, the former President of the United States reinforced the embargo in force since 1962, denouncing human rights violations and Havana’s support for the government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. . These sanctions, as well as the absence of tourists due to the pandemic, plunged Cuba into a deep economic crisis and generated a strong social unrest, followed closely in Washington and on the American continent.