Fernández dodges question on protesters, slams Cuba embargo
President slammed by opposition for failing to support protesters as he delivers first comments on Cuban unrest: “I don’t know what is happening, but let’s end the blockade.”
President Alberto Fernández has come under fire after failing to condemn the Cuban government’s actions in response to recent demonstrations by citizens.
More than 100 people, including independent journalists and opposition activists, have been arrested in Cuba during unprecedented anti-government protests, with some remaining in detention, various sources said.
Speaking in an interview, Argentina’s president responded to questioning about alleged human rights violations by describing the Us-imposed trade embargo with Cuba as “inhumane.” He rejected calls for any foreign intervention into politics on the island.
“I don’t know what is happening in Cuba, but let’s end the embargo. The people must decide the way in which they want to live, if we are to favour their peace. There is nothing more inhumane in a pandemic than a blockade,” the Peronist leader said in an interview with Radio 10.
Cuba leader Miguel Díaz-canel said Monday that Washington is behind the demonstrations that have erupted over the weekend. The rallies erupted spontaneously, as the country endures its worst economic crisis in 30 years, with chronic shortages of electricity, food and medicine and a recent worsening of the coronavirus epidemic.
Pushed to comment on the rallies, Fernández said that “these things have to be resolved by the people.”
“I am not the one who has to tell people what to do,” he argued. “It is not Argentina’s place or any country in the world. We have to promote peace among people and find dialogue and ways out.”
The remarks were criticised by Human Rights Watch’s José Miguel Vivanco, who accused Fernández of “double standards.”
“It is surprising that Alberto Fernández has such a selective and opportunistic curiosity about the subject of human rights, because if he is aware of human rights violations by carabineros in Chile, or the violations in Colombia,” Vivanco, the NGO’S Americas director, told La Nación. “And yet, surprisingly, in the case of Cuba, it would seem that the only thing that matters to them is the foreign policy of the United States, the embargo.”
Former foreign minister Andrés Cisneros described the president’s comments as “a bit of a pity,” adding: “The Argentine government criticises [Augusto] Pinochet but not Fidel Castro, who is another criminal.”
On Wednesday, former president Mauricio Macri expressed his solidarity with the protesters.
“I want to support the Cuban people who took to the streets to demand the end of the dictatorship and an urgent improvement in their living conditions,” said the opposition leader.