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WikiLeaks cables: Cuba's 'best friends forever' ignore human rights

Australia, Canada, Switzerland and Spain among countries damned by diplomat for 'kowtowing' in hope of trade favours

    Fidel-Castro-greeting-the-007.jpg Fidel Castro greeting then Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien in 1998. A WikiLeaks cable rails against Canada's softened position on Cuba. Photograph: Gary Hershorn/Reuters Australia, Canada and several European countries have stopped pressuring Cuba over human rights in the hope of winning commercial favours from Havana, according to confidential US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
    The western governments continued to pay lip service to concerns about political prisoners and censorship, but in reality were appeasing the island's communist rulers, said Jonathan Farrar, the US head of mission.
    The diplomat made scathing remarks about his colleagues shunning democracy activists, "kowtowing" to the Castro regime and joining what he scornfully termed the "best friends forever" camp.
    "The Cuban government has been able to stonewall its independent civil society from foreign visitors who have, for the large part, been all too ready to give in to Cuban bullying and give up on these encounters," Farrar said.
    He named and shamed the countries Washington considers offenders in its battle, started half a century ago by JFK, to keep an international squeeze on the island.
    "The Australian foreign minister, Switzerland's human rights special envoy and the Canadian cabinet level minister of the Americas not only failed to meet with non-government Cubans, they didn't even bother to publicly call for more freedoms after visiting Cuba in November," Farrar wrote.
    Canada had softened its position over the past year, he said, with newly arrived diplomats minimizing civil society contacts. "Promoting democracy may play well in political circles in Ottawa 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."
    He railed against the European commission for sitting "snugly in the best friends forever" camp and siding with Spain – which seeks warmer ties with Havana – against more hawkish EU members. "Their functionaries share with us their reproach of the 'radical' Swedes and Czechs, with their human rights priorities, and can't wait for 'moderate' Spain to take over the EU presidency."
    The US envoy mocked those who claimed to push for human rights in private meetings with Cuban officials. "The truth is that most of these countries do not press the issue at all in Cuba. The GOC [government of Cuba] … deploys considerable resources to bluff and bully many missions and their visitors into silence."
    The criticized governments are likely to reject the memo as an example of sour grapes from a country that has seen its Caribbean foe embraced by Africa, Latin America, Asia and increasingly the west. Even Washington's allies consider its embargo a cold war anachronism. "Demented," as one European ambassador put it.
    Cuba's opposition is small, fractious and powerless – split between groups who favor hardline US policy and those who think the softer approach of other governments will do more to open up the island.
    The confidential US memo said the Castro government was determined to drive a wedge into the EU's common policy on Cuba, which in theory obliges member states to lobby hard for human rights. Britain is among countries that refuse to send a minister to Havana without concessions.
    Farrar approvingly categorised this as the "take your visit and shove it" approach. "Germany, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom may pay a price in terms of lost business and access from their principled stance. Others who stand in this camp have less to lose from sticking it to the Cubans, and include Poland and Sweden."
    There is no mention of William Hague, the then British shadow foreign secretary, and Lord Ashcroft meeting senior Cuban officials in Havana last year. The pair did not meet democracy activists, but since taking office Hague has promised to continue the British policy of not sending ministers.
    Farrar said those foreign delegations that shunned civil society activists and avoided mention of political prisoners reaped few dividends. "For the most part the rewards for acquiescing to GOC 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 GOC."
    In a separate cable, Arnold Chacon, the American charge d'affaires in Spain, noted Croatia's effort to placate the US by playing down the importance of a trumpeted visit to Havana last year by Stjepan Mesić, Croatia's president at the time. Croatia's ambassador assured the US envoy that the trip had "zero value" and that the visitors were in fact "embarrassed" by the red carpet treatment.

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I can't think of any democracy whose elites did not put their own wealth ahead of human rights. Now having appeased my loyalty to a fictional community which exists in imaginary lines....

I don't know anything about Canada's relationship with Cuba but I'm sure there are plenty of skeletons in closets.

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Take a look at the list after the story!!

Kenya, Africa, Arap Moi and the looted billions

by oblonski | August 31, 2007 at 05:38 am A post from the Wikileaks mailing list details the looting of that country's coffers by the Daniel Arap Moi regime. It reads like a high-finance political thriller, and what precipitated the leak was the fact that the new president has now gotten into an alliance with Arap Moi and suppressed the report on corruption that it commissioned itself after coming to power on an anti-corruption and good governance ticket.

The disturbing thing about all this is not the fact that this comes out now, or that it substantiates what many suspected all along, but that this is probably only a small indication of what is really happening on the African continent, and that one need not invoke colonialism and European malice to blame for Africa's problems anymore, since African leaders are capable enough on their own, to destroy their own countries' economies and letting the ordinary people who were tricked into voting for them live in horrible conditions and circumstances.

We also see the trend emerging in South Africa, the 58 billion rand weapons scandal springs to mind, where the new "liberators" of the country start helping themselves to the taxpayer's resources, seemingly with impunity and with apparent disregard for ethics, morals, laws and common human decency.

A review of the Mail & Guardian newspaper's headlines over the span of a couple of weeks will normally give an indication of the sick state that the country is in economically, socially, politically, and with leaders refusing to take a stand against Zimbabwe's dictator, their affinity for all things Chinese and their support for Iran to have nuclear capacity, one cannot but have a sense of evil foreboding for the African continent.


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