from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Rousseff’s Shameful Sojourn in Cuba

February 1, 2012

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The president of Brazil has been visiting Cuba this week. It should not be necessary to remind anyone that Brazil itself lived for years under a military dictatorship, or that Cuba is one of the few remaining dictatorships in this hemisphere. It would have been reasonable to expect some slight sympathy or solidarity for the people of Cuba, especially when human rights abuses there are so awful. It is only a matter of days since the death of political prisoner Wilmar Villar at age 31. He had been jailed for the crime of paticipating in a demonstration. Such is life in Cuba.

But President Rousseff did not utter one word criticizing human rights abuses by the Cuban regime. The Wall Street Journal reported on what she did while in Cuba.

during Tuesday’s visit, Ms. Rousseff criticized the existence of the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, where terror suspects are held, and the U.S. trade embargo, which she said contributes to poverty on the island....She declined requests for meetings by Cuban dissidents, and has said she won’t press the Castro brothers on the island’s human-rights record.

"Human rights aren’t a stone to be thrown from one side to another," she said in Havana on Tuesday. This week, Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said human rights aren’t an "emergency" issue in Cuba.

Really? They were an "emergency" issue for Wilmar Villar. To express Brazil’s solidarity with the dictators, to indulge in cheap criticism of the United States, and to ignore the suffering of those struggling for freedom in Cuba, add up to a shameful performance by Ms. Rousseff and the government of Brazil.

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