Cuban dissidents uneasy after U.N. vote
A Cuban dissident is taken away by police
Measure condemning human rights record fails in world body
April 23, 1998
Web posted at: 8:19 p.m. EDT (0019 GMT)
From Correspondent Susan Candiotti
HAVANA (CNN) -- The Cuban government is claiming victory following Tuesday's failure by a U.N. commission to pass a resolution condemning the country for its human rights abuses.
But Cuban dissidents say the world still needs to keep a close eye on unfavorable conditions on the
communist-controlled island that they say demand renewed oversight.
"Cuban dissidents live in a permanent state of fear for their own safety and the safety of their families," said Hector Palacios, who, by his own count, has been detained 86 times and spent 14 months in jail for his political activities.
On Tuesday, the U.N. Human Rights Commission turned down a resolution, sponsored by the United States, that criticized the Cuban government for its human rights record. It failed by a margin of three votes, with 18 countries abstaining.
Palacios and his fellow dissidents say they weren't surprised by the U.N. vote in Geneva. But with an estimated 300 political prisoners still in jail, Palacios says he prays the vote won't prompt the government to impose new sanctions on people who speak out.
He notes that even talking with a CNN journalist "is a crime according to our penal code."
At first, a Cuban government spokesman said an official would talk to CNN about the Geneva vote -- but then said no one was available.
The state-run newspaper, Granma, ran a front-page editorial praising the decision and saying that "time, reason and history are with us."
The paper also blasted what it labeled as the imperialist policies of the United States, saying U.S. sanctions against Cuba "have failed to isolate us."
Elizardo Sanchez, a leading human rights activist, said the failure of the international community to condemn Cuba is designed to send U.S. officials the message that "their policy to isolate and force the Cuban government to kneel down has not been a proper policy."