Cuba, holding 1,000 political prisoners, wants to be on the UN Human Rights Council

Cuba, a dictatorship holding 1,000 political prisoners after 64 years in power, has announced its candidacy to join the UN Human Rights Council for the period of 2024 to 2026.

The Human Rights Council election will take place in October. Among the candidates are multiple countries that trample on democracy and disregard basic civil rights — Cuba, China, Russia and Côte d’Ivoire are among them.

The Cuban regime has been repressing, imprisoning and exiling its own people for 64 years. According to the Cuban Human Rights Observatory, in 2022, 5,499 attacks by the regime upon activists and dissidents were documented.

The dictatorships of Cuba and Nicaragua are leading one of the most vicious attacks on religious freedom in the Americas. Both regimes launched more than 1,400 attacks on preachers and parishioners last year. The goal is to strangle the prophetic voice of the church.

But it is a measure of this regime’s failure that it has to harass people of faith in this manner, and to confine so many political prisoners, more than six decades after it promised a workers’ paradise.

Prisoners Defenders, a human rights organization based in Spain, reports that the Cuban regime practices prison torture, including deprivation of medical attention, forced labor, solitary confinement, intentional disorientation and sleep disturbance, among other atrocities.

Cuba gets rid of independent activists by repressing and even killing them. It subjects human rights defenders to violence, harassment, surveillance, attempts upon their lives and — as in the cases of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero — murder.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights identified serious and sufficient evidence to conclude that state agents participated in the 2012 death of Payá and Cepero in a car crash. What happened to the victims was framed in the context of persecution and state repression that exists on the island.

Cuba is also one of the few countries in the world that implements capital punishment as a legally established standard of punishment. The regime even renewed this legal provision in its Penal Code approved in 2022.

Cuba’s dictatorship also practices a form of slavery. Its medical brigades began in 1963. The Cuban Ministry of Health has said that the medical brigades have served in 165 countries with more than 605,698 “collaborators.” Many of the doctors do not know where they are going, and the government confiscates up to 80 percent of their earnings. In 2019, the United Nations also ruled on the forced labor of this and other “volunteer brigades” in Cuba, addressing abundant historical and current complaints about this form of modern slavery.

As for the doctors’ good works, they only begin to offset all the violence and death that the Cuban regime has exported, particularly in Latin America and Africa, in the form of ideologues, military trainers, intelligence agents and “solidarity guerrillas.”

Cuba is a warlike regime. The allegations of Cuban mercenaries fighting for Russia in Ukraine are nothing new. Since its beginning, the Cuban dictatorship has sent military troops to countries such as Angola, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Grenada and many more. In those days, the regime did not hide behind a narrative about “human trafficking,” but openly exported violence in the name of “solidarity.”

The people also pay a huge price domestically. Finding a medical specialist in Cuba is nearly impossible. All or almost all qualified doctors have gone to other countries. During the pandemic, Mexico disbursed $6 million for “volunteer” doctors sent by the Marxist dictatorship.

The U.S. government has included the Cuban government on the blacklist of countries that do not meet the minimum standards to respond to human trafficking.

Organizations such as Human Rights Watch highlight that Cuba continues to repress and punish virtually all forms of dissent and public criticism, as Cubans endure a dire economic crisis affecting their rights. The regime responded with brutal, systematic repression and censorship when thousands of citizens took to the streets to protest in July 2021.

The Cuban dictatorship has been one of the main threats to democracy in Latin America and to the security of the U.S. Since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, following the Russian spy base established in Lourdes, the Bejucal facility, and finally with the 2019 chapter involving Chinese espionage, Havana’s regime has continued to open its doors to America’s most dangerous geopolitical adversaries.

The Castro-Diaz-Canel regime is the largest jailer of political prisoners on the continent. It executes prisoners, implements the dead penalty, bans free speech, promotes modern slavery and attacks religious freedom. It also maintains alliances with Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela.

Cuba’s list of human rights violations and crimes are as old as the regime. Despite this, the dictatorship seeks a seat on the UN Human Rights Council to silence the truth and change the global narrative.

Cuba is not a victim, but a victimizer — a repressive hand, responsible for countless crimes and the unjust imprisonment of more than 1,000 political prisoners who want justice and freedom.

Arturo McFields Yescas is an exiled journalist, former Nicaraguan ambassador to the OAS and former member of the Norwegian Peace Corps.

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.