UN official to Cuba: Heed events in Egypt, Tunisia


Geneva : The rapporteur of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has asked Cuba to take lessons from recent events in the Arab world to carry out democratic reforms on the communist island.

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According to Pastor Elias Murillo Martinez, what has occurred in countries like Egypt and Tunisia constitutes, “despite the historical and cultural differences, a call to all governments of the world to choose the road of democracy”.

Murillo made the remarks during his speech at the session of the Committee to review the report in which Cuba displays its respect for the international convention on the elimination of racial discrimination.

“For decades, the international community, at the same time that it has condemned the (US economic) embargo against Cuba, has not ceased to anxiously hope that the country will democratise itself. Therefore, the entire world expects much of the large (Communist Party) Congress that the Cuban government has announced for April this year, where it is forecast that they will announce big reforms,” the rapporteur said.

With regard to that, Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno Fernandez declared that “in the last 50 years, Cuba has served as an example of what the promotion of democracy means”.

“The crisis of the traditional parties stems from the fact that those parties have very strong links with the great centers of power and that is not democracy,” Moreno insisted.

In the area of racial discrimination, Murillo said that institutional racism may not exist in Cuba but Afro-Cubans still suffer from marginalisation.

“The descendents of African slaves still suffer from structural discrimination that is reflected in the large socio-economic gap that separates them from the average population,” he said.

He also said that the Cuban population of African origin is underrepresented in decision-making bodies.

In his first speech before the Committee Wednesday, Deputy Minister Moreno emphasised Cuba’s advances in eliminating racial discrimination. But he acknowledged that “certain racial prejudices derived from historical and sociocultural factors still persist.”

The committee will release its conclusions on the Cuban report March 11.