Sorry! We have moved! The new URL is:

You will be redirected to the new address in five seconds.

If you see this message for more than 5 seconds, please click on the link above!

Social Icons

twitterfacebookgoogle pluslinkedinrss feedemail

Saturday, December 18, 2010

U.S. envoy criticizes Canada over Cuba

The Cuban government bluffed and bullied a Canadian cabinet minister into silence over Cuba's human rights record during an official visit last year, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.
Peter Kent, Canada's minister of state for the Americas, knuckled under to Cuban government pressure during his November 2009 visit and did not raise human rights issues publicly, according to the cable, written by U.S. head of mission Jonathan Farrar.

The Canadian delegation, the cable noted "not only failed to meet with non-government Cubans, they didn't even bother to publicly call for more freedoms after visiting Cuba."

"Kent left town saying little, a style that ‘works better for the (Cuban government),' our northerly neighbours assured us."

The confidential memo, one of more than 250,000 made public on the WikiLeaks online whistle-blower site, was reprinted Saturday in the British newspaper The Guardian.

In it, Farrar called the Canadian silence on human rights "surprising, since Kent and Prime Minister (Stephen) Harper had been publicly critical of Cuba's human rights record."

But in another note, the U.S. envoy suggested Canada -- and other nations -- may be softening criticism of the regime of Fidel Castro, which has run Cuba for more than 50 years, in order to gain an edge in trade or commercial ties with Cuba.

"Promoting democracy may play well in political circles in Ottawa," Farrar noted. "But the Canadian government appears to have decided that doing anything serious about it in Cuba under the current regime could jeopardize the advancement of Canada's other interests."

The document does say that Kent reportedly raised the issue of political prisoners in private meetings with his Cuban counterparts, but said that the discussion quickly went downhill.

"Canadian officials in Havana told us that Kent raised the issue of Cuba's political prisoners but that the (Cuban government) had immediately turned the discussion into one of definitions."

Cuba has long maintained that all of its political prisoners are criminals, an idea the memo sardonically called "an interesting debate, our Canadian counterparts claimed."

The U.S. envoy went on to mock those who claimed to press Cuban officials on human rights in private meetings. "The truth is that most of these countries do not press the issue at all in Cuba. The [government of Cuba] … deploys considerable resources to bluff and bully many missions and their visitors into silence."

Farrar said Canada now appears to be dealing with Cuba by taking "the keep-it-private approach: say nothing publicly."

Australia and Switzerland were also slammed in the same set of cables for being too soft on Cuba for its human rights record.

Farrar contrasted the Canadian and others' approach with that of Germany, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom, which he approvingly called "take your visit and shove it."

But even those foreign delegations that "kowtow" to Cuban authorities, refusing to meet with human rights advocates or raising the issue, gain little from the exercise.

"The rewards for acquiescing to (government of Cuba) demands are risible: pomp-full dinners and meetings and, for the most pliant, a photo op with one of the Castro brothers. In terms of substance or economic benefits they fare little better than those who stand up to the (government of Cuba)."

There are no fewer than 251,287 cables from more than 250 U.S. embassies around the world, obtained by WikiLeaks.

The website has come under enormous pressure over the leaks, attacked by hackers, forced to find new servers and facing growing economic stress.

Bank of America said Saturday that it will no longer process transactions for WikiLeaks, following similar actions by several other financial institutions.

The bank said in a statement that it believes that the site "may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments."


Post a Comment



Blog Archive

Total Pageviews