Cuba: Violations of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms – Fear and Intimidation

Remarks by
Ambassador Francisco O. Mora
April 18, 2023

Secretary General Almagro, thank you so much for your support and warm words of welcome opening this important event.

To our distinguished panelists, on behalf of the United States, please know you have my deep gratitude for your participation today. Some of you traveled great distances to join us, and have suffered repression and imprisonment for simply expressing yourselves freely.

We will never fully understand the pain and suffering you endured, but I’m confident your testimonies here today will transmit a powerful message to the family of democracies worldwide.

Distinguished members of Congress, thank you for your attendance here today.

Commissioner Ralón, I thank you for your presence with us this morning, and thank you Special Rapporteur Pedro Vaca for moderating this distinguished panel. I also want to acknowledge the ongoing work of Special Rapporteur Soledad García Muñoz, for helping to bring attention to the appalling state of labor rights in Cuba.

Ambassadors, Permanent Representatives, and Permanent Observers, thank you for your support and attendance.

Lastly, I’d like to thank Maria Mellenkamp and Carlos Casanova of the OAS Secretariat, who worked so hard to bring this event to fruition. Thank you to members of my colleagues at the U.S. Mission to the OAS as well who saw this through.

Colleagues, the democratically-elected governments of the Americas — as caretakers of the OAS Charter’s promise — have an important responsibility to remember those in Cuba who still languish under tyranny, denied the most fundamental, basic freedoms and human dignity. As the great Cuban patriot José Martí, whose bust is proudly displayed outside this hall in the Gallery of Heroes, declared, “it is a sin not to do what one is capable of doing.”

The OAS’ Inter-American Democratic Charter clearly states that all the peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy, and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it. Yet, sadly, for the people of Cuba, the realities envisioned in the Democratic Charter remain a distant hope.

The Cuban people are entitled to enjoy the rights enshrined in the OAS Charter, the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, and the Inter-American Democratic Charter. We fully hope that one day these principles will serve as the roadmap for a democratic Cuba’s full reintegration into the inter-American system.

Consistent with this roadmap, the OAS must prepare to play a constructive role supporting the legitimate aspirations of the Cuban people to live in freedom and assist with a genuine transition to democracy in Cuba. This includes the holding of genuine, free and fair elections.

Colleagues, we remain a partner of hope to the Cuban people. They are not alone, and the inter-American community is well prepared to assist them in building a new, modern democratic state.

Today, we express our solidarity with the legitimate aspirations of all peoples of the Americas, including the people of Cuba, to live in democracy and enjoy the rights and benefits enumerated in the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

We strongly support the continuing work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to monitor and promote the observance and defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba.

And yet, the world watches as the oppressive Cuban regime continues to harass, arrest, and abuse peaceful protesters, journalists, and independent voices. The United States will continue to urge the OAS and its member states to stand behind the Cuban people by supporting the rights of Cubans to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

The situation in Cuba is also personal for me. Many years ago, my parents fled communist Cuba to provide a better life for my brother and I in the United States. It remains truly heartbreaking for me to witness the continuing, and appalling, human rights abuses and violations on the island.

To our panelists, I am indebted to your sacrifices and work on behalf of the Cuban people, and very much look forward to hearing from you soon.

As President Biden has said, “the Cuban Americans are hurting. They’re hurting because their loved ones are suffering. And it’s, quite frankly, intolerable … We see your pain, we hear your voices, and we hear the cries of freedom coming from the island.”

I am confident that, one day, Cuba will return to the OAS and our family of democracies, taking its rightful place among us here in the Hall of the Americas.

Thank you. Y con mucha esperanza por, algún día, una Cuba libre para todos.