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Mexico's Fox to Support UN Human Rights Resolution Against Cuba - 2003-04-15


Published reports in Mexico indicate that the government of President Vicente Fox is planning to vote in favor of a resolution criticizing Cuba at the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva this week.

Newspaper reports citing sources in the Mexican government and at the Cuban embassy say that Mexico is likely to vote in favor of a resolution being presented in Geneva by a group of Latin American nations. The resolution would call for sending a special U.N. representative to the island nation to report on the human rights situation there.

A similar resolution was approved last year, with Mexico for the first time voting in favor, but the government of Cuban President Fidel Castro refused to allow any representative into the country and denounced the vote in Geneva as unfair. President Castro took special aim at Mexico and its then Foreign Minister, Jorge Castaneda, for what he viewed as betrayal.

Mr. Castaneda resigned earlier this year and it was widely expected that Mexico would abstain at this year's session in Geneva. Opposition senators, in fact, have called on the Fox government to abstain, citing what they call Mexico's tradition of non-intervention.

But the Fox government issued a statement on Monday condemning the Cuban government's execution of three men on Friday after a summary trial in which they were convicted of hijacking a ferry boat. No one was injured in the incident, but it was the third case in a two-week period in which Cubans seeking to leave the country had attempted a hijacking.

The execution of the three men came on the heels of a crackdown on dissidents in which dozens of political activists, independent journalists and supporters of an open, democratic system were rounded up, given summary trials and sentenced to as much as 27 years in prison.

Cuba's most prominent human rights activist, Elizardo Sanchez, has called the crackdown the worst act of repression in Cuba's history.

The executions and the suppression of dissent have drawn condemnation from foreign governments and human rights organizations worldwide.

On Monday, one of the most prominent European defenders of Cuba's system, Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese author Jose Saramago, published a letter expressing bitter criticism of the Castro government for executing the three accused hijackers. In the letter, Mr. Saramago said, "Cuba has won no victory by executing these three men, but it has lost my confidence, damaged my hopes, robbed me of my illusions."

The European Union, which opened a mission in Havana earlier this year, has also criticized the executions, as have the foreign ministries of most European countries. The resolution being presented at the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva is sponsored by Peru, Uruguay, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The original draft only called for sending a U.N. representative to Cuba, but there are indications that these nations may be modifying the draft to make a stronger statement condemning Cuba's recent wave of repression.