committed to its irrevocable decision to advance its
socialist, national, original, democratic and freely
participative socialist development
by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign
Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, at the presentation
of the national report to the Human Rights Council’s
Universal Periodic Review
Geneva, May 1, 2013
Cuba is honored to present its
second National Report to the Human Rights Council
Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism. It does
so proud of its humanistic work and its achievements
in guaranteeing the exercise of all human rights for
all its citizens.
On the main
dais of the UN Geneva
assembly hall, Cuban Foreign Minister
Bruno Rodríguez (third from left),
with Ambassador Anayansi Rodríguez,
Deputy Attorney General Rafael Pino
Bécquer and Rosa Fernanda Charró,
Deputy Minister of Justice.
(Photo: Carmen Esquivel/ Prensa Latina)
The economic, political and media
blockade imposed by the United States, which Cuba
has resisted, undefeated, for more than 50 years, is
a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of
human rights which provokes damage, shortages and
suffering, but it has not detained the country’s
equal opportunities, equity in the distribution of
wealth, or social justice.
Persistent efforts on the part of
the United States to impose a "regime change" on
Cuba are a serious violation of the nation’s right
to self-determination. These efforts have been
unable to prevent the active, democratic and direct
participation of its citizens in the construction of
constitutional order, in government decisions and in
the election of its authorities.
Before this Council is a country
without homeless persons or people deprived of
dignity, in which no child lacks an education of
quality, the sick enjoy sterling medical attention
and the elderly social protection. A nation in which
the rights of workers, farmers, intellectuals and
students are protected by law. A country with
citizens’ security, without organized crime, or
drugs. Before this Council is a united people, with
profound social cohesion. A state in which no one
has been executed without trial, tortured or
disappeared, and there are no kidnappings or secret
This exercise coincides with
International Workers’ Day, joyfully celebrated in
Cuba’s plazas and streets by millions of compatriots
and hundreds of friends from all over the world.
They do so as free women and men, in defense of
rights that have been won. They are not masses of
justly angry people, workers on strike, students
besieged by education costs and debt, immigrants
persecuted by self-interest, racism and xenophobia.
We offer our solidarity to all those fighting –
everywhere on the planet – for human rights for all,
for peace, for development, for the survival of
humanity, threatened by colossal military arsenals
and climate change.
This report is the result of a wide-ranging
and participative consultation process which
involved countless government institutions,
Parliament, civil society organizations and other
The follow up on the recommendations
accepted in the first UPR cycle was the principal
objective of the work of the National Group, which
coordinated the process and prepared the report.
From Cuba’s first presentation to
this mechanism in 2009 through today, significant
changes have taken place in the economy and society.
Advances have been made in the institutional
perfection process, greater citizens’ participation
and control as a fundamental aspect of our democracy,
and the undertaking to achieve sustainable
development with social justice has been maintained.
Cuba remains committed to its
irrevocable decision to advance its socialist,
national, original, democratic and freely
participative socialist development.
We did not come here to present a
completed task, nor do we pretend that the Cuban
socialist model should be considered for anyone or
everyone. Nor do we accept that there is a unique or
universal model of democracy, and far less the
imposition of the political system of Western
industrialized countries which have entered into
crisis. We likewise reject the political
manipulation, hypocrisy and double standards
frequently present in the debate on human rights
One of the most significant events
since the previous session is the adoption by the
National Assembly of People's Power of the Economic
and Social Policy Guidelines, which constitute a
body of decisions essential to the updating of the
Cuban economic and social model and a government
The guidelines were adopted after an
extremely wide-ranging popular debate in which
millions of Cuban women and men formulated, with
total freedom, more than 400,000 amendments
modifying two thirds of the draft document, and
voted on each one of its 12 chapters. This was a
unique experience of citizens’ direct popular
consultation in order to reach consensus on
government economic, monetary and social policies,
in con junction with measures to overcome the
effects of the global economic crisis and problems
of the Cuban economy without neoliberal austerity
formulas, without saving banks at the cost of unjust
Cuba has continued strengthening the
democratic nature of its institutionality with laws,
policies and programs of a popular and participative
nature, in accordance with the people’s aspirations.
New regulations have been adopted to
expand the legislative base of human rights, such as
those related to social security, housing,
employment and exclusively self-employed work, the
granting of land in usufruct, among others. In
parallel, advances are being made in perfecting and
updating the country’s legal system, by implementing
a number of modifications responding to the needs of
Cuban society and the highest international
standards in this context.
Outstanding among these amendments
is the Migration and Travel Act, which has had a
notable impact and has benefited the Cuban nation’s
relations with its émigré community, despite
constant manipulation of the migration issue.
The legal system for the protection
of human rights in Cuba is not confined to their
constitutional drafting. The system is duly
developed and implemented in other substantive,
procedural regulations, in accordance with rights
recognized in the Universal Declaration and other
international human rights instruments.
Cuba has made significant advances
in the realization of economic, social and cultural
rights. Education has is universally accessible and
is free of charge at all levels of teaching.
Through its various programs, the
Cuban state guarantees every girl, boy and young
adult the possibility and right to study within the
National Education System and to continue in their
education as far as their aptitudes and efforts
allow them, with equality of opportunity. The First
Vice President of the Council of State and Ministers
was invested with the responsibility to protect and
supervise children’s rights.
The right to education is assured
for every child and young adult with any kind of
mental or physical disability through the Special
Education Program, in cases where the full
integration of differently-abled children in general
educational institutions is not possible. Attention
is given to these children throughout the country in
different forms and at all levels of teaching.
In the most recent UNESCO World
Report on the follow-up of Education for All (2012),
Cuba appears in 16th place, given its educational
development indices. UNESCO recognized Cuba as the
Latin American and Caribbean country to direct the
highest proportion of its national budget to
Under the Martí doctrine of "being
educated in order to be free," Cuba is outstanding
in terms of its cultural development, its population’s
full access to art and literature, for the
preservation and defense of our culture and the
enrichment of our spiritual values.
Cuba is equally recognized for its
outstanding results and the high quality of its
public health system, with universal coverage and
free medical attention. With an infant mortality
rate of 4.6 per 1,000 live births, Cuba has
established indicators higher than those of many
industrialized countries. With one doctor for every
137 inhabitants, Cuba is – according to the World
Health Organization – the most endowed nation in
From 2009 through 2011, 19,371
mothers of children with severe disabilities
received social security protection, thus giving
them the possibility of personally caring for their
Attention to older adults is a
priority and for that reason, multidisciplinary and
cross-sector work is underway to guarantee quality
of life for this growing population sector. Life
expectancy at birth stands at an average of 78 years.
In the next decade, more than 87% of Cubans will
have exceeded 60 years of age.
Rights to life, freedom and personal
security are sustained by the principle of respect
for human dignity and constitute pillars in the
conduct of Cuban authorities and the functioning of
the entire society.
The five Cuban anti-terrorist
fighters who are enduring unjust and long prison
terms in the United States lack protection. They
were tried without guarantees of due process, in an
atmosphere of revenge and hatred, under a slanderous
press campaign paid for by the District Attorney’s
Office, subjected to prolonged solitary confinement,
impediments to their legal defense, cruel, inhuman
and degrading treatment, and a number of them have
been deprived of visits from their families.
We are deeply concerned at the legal
impasse which is sustaining the permanent and
atrocious violation of human rights occurring on the
illegal Guantánamo Naval Base, Cuban territory
usurped by the United States, a center of torture
and deaths in custody, where 166 detainees have been
held for 10 years, without guarantees, a trial or
defense. Currently, 100 of them are on hunger strike,
with 17 of these, whose lives are in danger, being
force fed through tubes. This prison and military
base must be closed and this territory returned to
Cuba recognizes, respects and
guarantees religious freedoms without discrimination
of any kind.
Approximately 400 religions and
religious institutions exist in the country.
The freedoms of opinion, expression,
access to information and the press are recognized
for all citizens. The high educational and cultural
level of the people; the social and public nature of
communications media; the inexistence of giant for-profit
media corporations which in other places impose
economic and political interests; the absence of
generally stultifying commercial publicity; and the
exercise of popular power, all facilitate the
material conditions which allow for the enjoyment of
The right to truthful information,
free of charge, should be guaranteed by the state.
The democratization of internet, the transference of
resources and technology appropriate for social
communication, is an urgent need. The technological
and content monopoly; the political and military use
of networks; linguistic and cultural discrimination
must be ended. The digital gap must be closed.
The blockade prevents Cuba from
connecting to nearby underwater cables, making
services more expensive and access for the
population more difficult. It prohibits
international providers from supplying Cuba with
services, software and technology. Our country is
denied, for example, diverse Google services and
access to international digital platforms.
Between 2010 and 2013, the United
States has, as well, allocated 191.7 million dollars
to finance organizations, paid agents, the
subversive use of information technology and illegal
radio and television broadcasts promoting regime
change in Cuba. Additionally, millions more are
channeled through special services and private
groups. Some U.S. allies participate in this effort.
In Cuba, equality and non-discriminatory
policies are fully guaranteed. Advances in terms of
gender equality are outstanding. The Cuban
government continues to implement numerous laws,
policies and programs directed toward reaffirming
The percentage of Cuban women in the
National Assembly of People’s Power, our Parliament,
has reached 48.86%. Cuba occupies second place on a
world scale in terms of the percentage of female
parliamentarians. For the first time, two women are
now Council of State Vice Presidents, and women
constitute 41.9% of this body. A third of our
ministries are headed by women.
Institutional racism has been
eradicated, ample opportunities for development and
concrete benefits are provided for less favored
sectors, and we are struggling to assure complete,
effective equality of opportunity to sectors
historically marginalized and to dysfunctional
families. Not yet overcome are certain racial
prejudices and stereotypes surviving from slavery
during our colonial past and a neocolonial regime
which institutionalized racism and racial
Complementary to government efforts
and full protection under the law, a decision was
made to assign a Council of State Vice President the
task of following up on and supervising the struggle
against racism and racial discrimination.
We are proud of our African heritage.
We share, in a disinterested fashion, the fate of
our African brothers and sisters in their battle
against colonialism and apartheid.
Another area in which sustained
progress is being made is the struggle against
discrimination based on sexual orientation. The
National Sexual Education Program has incorporated
an ongoing educational strategy promoting respect
for all sexual orientations and gender identities,
establishing multiple opportunities for exchange
based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination.
In relation to the promotion and
protection of the rights of disabled persons, we
have assured that the majority are able to access
education and join the workforce. Support is offered
in diverse arenas of social activity.
Cuba’s penitentiary system is based
on the principle of human betterment. Cuba fulfils
all precepts of the Standard Minimum Rules
for the Treatment of Prisoners and
prioritizes a preventative focus through a number of
social programs, among them those directed toward
converting prisons into educational centers.
All inmates are guaranteed medical
and dental attention free of charge, under the same
conditions as the rest of Cuba’s population. They
receive a wage commensurate with the work they
In Cuba, 27,000,095 inmates,
approximately half of the total, are studying at
different levels in every penal institution in the
country. Many of them are additionally learning a
trade. This educational system has supported inmates’
reintegration into society and the workforce.
Despite shortages and difficulties,
in a disinterested fashion, our people have shared
and share what we have with other nations, offering
solidarity to contribute to the realization of human
rights of other peoples around the world.
Since 2004, tens of thousands of
citizens have regained their sight through Operation
Miracle and 2.4 million ophthalmologic surgeries
have been performed in 34 Latin American, Caribbean
and African countries.
Since 2005, the (Henry Reeve)
International Contingent of Doctors Specializing in
Disaster and Serious Epidemic Situations has offered
medical assistance to more than three million
Cooperation with Haiti, a sister
Caribbean country in need of resources for
reconstruction and development, has been maintained.
More than 12,000 Cuban collaborators have worked
Beginning in 2004, cooperation has
expanded in literacy learning and development
through the Cuban programs Yes, I can (UNESCO
King Sejong Prize), I can read and write now
and Yes, I can do more. As of November, 2012,
6.9 million people had completed the basic Yes I
can literacy program and 976,000 had completed
Yes, I can do more.
Cuba maintains a high level of
cooperation and interaction within procedures and
structures established by the United Nations in
terms of human rights, which are universally
applicable, on a non-discriminatory basis.
We have always demonstrated out
unequivocal openness to dialogue on all issues, with
all states, on the basis of mutual respect,
sovereign equality and recognition of the right to
Cuba has established a positive
dialogue with bodies created in accordance with
international treaties in the area of human rights.
Since 2009, five National Reports
have been prepared; three of which have been
presented before the respective committees.
Currently in the final stages of revision are Cuba’s
Initial Report in accordance with the Optional
Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of Children
in relation to the sale of children, child
prostitution and the use of children in pornography;
as well as our Initial Report in compliance with the
Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons.
Cuba is a signatory to 42
international human rights treaties and has complied
with all of their stipulations. Other human rights
instruments, including two Pacts, are being studied
by relevant authorities.
Our country maintains cooperative
relations with diverse humanitarian and human rights
organizations throughout the world, both within our
own territory and in the development of
collaborative missions internationally.
We are open to constructive,
respectful dialogue which adheres to the facts. We
will provide necessary information and
Thank you very much.