Castro defends Cuba’s human rights record; hits out at US and other countries

Cuban President Raul Castro

 

HAVANA, Cuba, Tuesday March 22, 2016 – Strongly defending his country against accusations of human rights violations, Cuban President Raul Castro yesterday pointed out that not one single country is fully compliant with all 61 international instruments regarding human rights.

And he said one of Cuba’s main accusers, the United States, was falling short of protecting its own citizens.

Castro made his views on the issue clear as he responded to a question at a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama, following talks between the two leaders in Havana yesterday – a day after the American leader arrived in the island for his historic two-day visit.

“There are 61 international instruments recognized.  How many countries in the world comply with all the human rights and civil rights that have been included in these 61 instruments?  What country complies with them all?  Do you know how many? I do. None,” he said.

“Out of these 61 instruments, Cuba has complied with 47 of these human rights instruments. There are countries that may comply with more, there are those that comply with less.”

And he said while the US was pointing fingers at Cuba, there were shortcomings in that country when it came to tackling poverty, inequality and race relations.

Castro highlighted protection provided for Cubans that demonstrated the government’s interest in protecting its citizens.

“Do you think there’s any more sacred right than the right to health, so that billions of children don’t die just for the lack of a vaccine or a drug or a medication? Do you agree with the right to free education for all those born anywhere in the world or in any country? I think many countries don’t think this is a human right,” he said.

“In Cuba, all children are born in a hospital and they are registered that same day, because when mothers are in advance pregnancy they go to hospitals days before, many days before delivery, so that all children are born in hospitals. It doesn’t matter if they live in faraway places or in mountains or hills. We have many other rights – a right to health, the right to education,” he continued, adding that women and men in Cuba also receive the same pay that men get for the same work, unlike in some other countries.

Castro therefore insisted that the human rights issue should not be politicized.

“I don’t think we can use the argument of human rights for political confrontation. That is not fair; it’s not correct,” he contended.

 

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