Guyana rejects US calls for Caribbean to lobby Cuba on human rights, democracy

Guyana on Friday dismissed calls by the United States (US) for the Caribbean to tell Cuba that it must address concerns about democracy, human rights and civil liberties.

“I don’t know that there is a one-size-fits-all where democracy is concerned. I see that many of the countries have partners with other countries that don’t have our brand of democracy as well,” said Foreign Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett.

The Caribbean has over the years benefitted from millions of US dollars worth of assistance in the area of scholarships, health care and education personnel.

The US and communist-ruled China enjoy good diplomatic relations.

She said that the Caribbean, on the very issue of human rights, would like to see the matter of resettlement of deportees being addressed. A Foreign Ministry source noted that the US is not a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Guyana's Foreign Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues Birkett and US Ambassador to Guyana, Brent Hardt.
FACE-TO-FACE: Telling it like it is on Cuba… Guyana’s Foreign Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues Birkett and US Ambassador to Guyana, Brent Hardt.

US Plenipotentiary Representative to the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassador Brent Hardt, however, maintained that the region should tell Cuba, its friend of more than 40 years, that it must embrace democracy and improve human rights.

Asked how could the US justify its call to CARICOM when Washington has been implicated in the killing of thousands of persons with drones, the rendition of wanted persons and torture at its Guantanamo Base in Cuba; the American envoy to Guyana acknowledged that his country was “not perfect.”

“We’re no perfect and we are trying to deal with some very serious security threats as well but we are a staunch defender of human rights throughout the world,” said Hardt.

He said the US was not trying to tell Caribbean countries how to conduct their relations with Cuba, apart from urging the communist-ruled island to follow in their foot-steps in a number of areas. They include trade union representation, diverse and effective media and democracy.

“It has always struck me that there is great potential for this region to help to move Cuba to a place where its people can also share those same values, those same freedoms.

Because the Caribbean is such a good friend and partner with Cuba, I think they would be more inclined to listen to folks from this region than they might be if they were to hear the same thing from us,” he said.

Since Fidel Castro stepped down as President of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean island in 2008, his brother and successor, Raul Castro, has implemented a number of reforms in the area of private enterprise and more recently immigration.

While the US maintains a commercial and economic blockade on the island, the Barack Obama administration has slackened its grip on travel to the island.

Courtesy Demerara Waves
Written by Denis Scott Chabrol
Saturday, 02 February 2013 15:55