Press Statement by James P. Rubin, Spokesman
April 18, 2000

U.S. Response to Decision of UNCHR To Pass Cuba Resolution

The following is the text of a statement issued by Harold Hongju Koh, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and Amb. Nancy Rubin, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights, at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, in response to the decision of the Commission to pass the resolution on Cuba. We congratulate those Commission members who supported this resolution and took a principled stand for human rights.

"The United States applauds today's decision by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to approve a resolution on the human rights situation in Cuba. This year's resolution, which was sponsored by the Governments of Poland and the Czech Republic and co-sponsored by more than a dozen countries including the United States, has again drawn the world's attention to the many courageous human rights defenders and independent journalists who risk their freedom in order to speak out for a democratic Cuba."

"These courageous individuals have done nothing wrong, nor have they encouraged violence. Their only crime has been to express their belief in the freedom and dignity of all individuals. The United States joins world opinion in calling on the Government of Cuba to release all those currently detained for the peaceful expression of their political beliefs, including Marta Beatriz Roque, Jose Gomez Manzano, Felix Bonne, Vladimiro Roca, and Oscar Biscet."

"The Czech Republic and Poland deserve the thanks of all free individuals for drawing attention to the growing seriousness of the human rights situation in Cuba. Their tireless efforts to secure passage of this important resolution once again demonstrates their profound commitment to democracy and their deep conviction that human rights are inalienable and universal. The vote also reflects the Czech and Polish peoples' experience that sustained Commission examination can promote a dictatorial government's peaceful transition to democracy."

"Today's vote is not merely an indictment of the human rights record of the government of Cuba, it is also expresses solidarity with the people of Cuba, a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. U.S. organizations and individuals are the largest source of humanitarian aid to Cuba, and remittances from the U.S. are the largest source of net income to the Cuban economy. While U.S. funds and assistance do not go to the regime itself, they are intended to bolster civil society and to enhance the lives of Cubans living under the oppressive conditions described in this resolution. Towards this same end, we have also promoted a wide range of cultural, professional and academic exchanges with Cuba; altogether more than 160,000 people traveled from the United States to Cuba over the last year."

"President Clinton has made it clear that if the Cuban regime were to undertake the fundamental reforms necessary to ensure a transition to democracy and respect for human rights, the United States would respond with positive changes in its own policies towards the government. We continue to look forward to the day when Cuba will join the family of democratic nations, and multilateral efforts to draw attentions to the human rights situation will no longer be necessary. We again encourage the Government of Cuba to respect human rights and prepare for a peaceful transition to representative democracy."