Ahead of the President Obama’s trip to Cuba next week — the first by a sitting U.S. president in 90 years — as well as his trip to Argentina, Amnesty International urged that human rights be at the forefront of discussions with both Cuban President Raul Castro and Argentine President Mauricio Marcri. The organization issued an open letter to all three presidents outlining its top concerns in each country including the detention site at Guantánamo Bay, the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, migrant rights and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Since Obama cannot lift the embargo by executive action alone, Amnesty is calling on the U.S. Congress to pass bipartisan bills including Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015, The Cuba Trade Act of 2015, and The Cuba Digital and Telecommunications Advancement Act.
The open letter says, in part:
“In the interest of transparency and to facilitate independent and objective monitoring and reporting on a range of human rights issues in Cuba, independent human rights organizations should be able to enter the country. While we welcome the new dialogue between Cuba and the international community, we urge that this dialogue includes international human rights actors, as a way to advance the protection and promotion of the human rights of the Cuban people. Working with human rights organizations, Cuba could also send a message to the world that it welcomes accountability and transparency, and that it is willing to be held to the same degree of scrutiny as its peers across the Americas.”
“This is a critical and historic opportunity for President Obama to raise key human rights issues directly with Presidents Castro and Marcri. Moreover, his visit could open the door for future visits from international human rights organizations and the lifting of a needless economic embargo that bars Cubans from receiving basic necessities,” said Marselha Gonçalves Margerin, Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director for the Americas. “Politically motivated arrests have been increasing both in Cuba and Argentina in recent years, and President Obama must stress that the freedom to peacefully protest the government must be protected.”
The full letter can be found here: http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/amr_01.3666.2016_open_letter_usa.cuba_.argentina.pdf