Saturday, March 05, 2005

I am happy that Amnesty International has taken on the cases of the 75 men arrested and held in jail in Cuba for political dissidence, as the wife of one of them reports in this article in the Washington Post - Standing Up to a Dictator , but I eagerly await the opportunity to hear from the American left to protest against the Cuban dictator. It continues to be amazing to me that various groups, including ones in the Jewish community in America, sponsor "educational" trips to Cuba without protesting Castro's dictatorship. (See, for example, this 1998 press release from the president of the AJCongress, which nowhere mentions political repression in Cuba). Is oppression only really oppression if a right-wing dictatorship (for example, like the former Argentinian regime) engages in it, while a leftist dictatorship somehow escapes condemnation because of its universal health care?

Berta Soler Fernandez reports of her husband, "My husband, Angel Moya Acosta, is enduring his fourth detention since 1999, when he openly declared his dissent -- a not-so-frequent attitude among black people in Cuba. Until then, he was a simple technician earning his 135 pesos ($5) a month, although I must say that after fighting for a year and a half in Angola he was less convinced of the rightness of everything the Cuban regime was doing."

And where is the leftist condemnation of the Cuban regime's past military intervention in Angola?

I have to say that I have always found it disgusting when people on the left refuse to criticize leftist dictatorships, while people on the right refuse to criticize rightist dictatorship. It makes all of their agitating for human rights suspect, as if there is not a universal standard of human rights, but only one that is dependent on one's politics. Another version of the same thing is pro-Palestinian activists who condemn every human rights violation by Israel, but pay no attention to human rights violations by the Palestinian Authority, or pro-Israel activists who point out every murder of a Palestinian collaborator with Israel by Palestinians, but pay no attention to the torture of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

I think that if one is a partisan of a particular cause that one must be careful to hold one's own side to a high standard of human rights. As someone who is pro-Israel, it is important for me to see Israel act in a fashion that as much as possible safeguards human rights for Palestinians. Otherwise, it seems to me, Israel loses much of its ability to argue on its own behalf. And the same is true for people who argue against the U.S. embargo on Cuba - they must hold Castro and the Cuban regime to a high standard of human rights, rather than simply condemning the U.S. government for what it is doing.

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