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UN Official Urges Cuba to Heed Events in Egypt, Tunisia

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UN Official Urges Cuba to Heed Events in Egypt, Tunisia*

GENEVA – The rapporteur of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Thursday asked Cuba to learn from the example of recent events in the Arab world to carry out democratic reforms on the communist island.

Pastor Elias Murillo Martinez said that what has occurred in countries like Egypt and Tunisia constitutes, “despite the historical and cultural differences, a call to all governments of the world to choose the road of democracy.”

Murillo made his remarks during his speech at the session of the Committee to review the report in which Cuba displays its respect for the international convention on the elimination of racial discrimination.

“For decades, the international community, at the same time that it has condemned the (U.S. economic) embargo against Cuba, has not ceased to anxiously hope that the country will democratize itself. Therefore, the entire world expects much of the large (Communist Party) Congress that the Cuban government has announced for April this year, where it is forecast that they will announce big reforms,” the rapporteur said.

With regard to that, Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno Fernandez declared that “in the last 50 years, Cuba has served as an example of what the promotion of democracy means.”

“The crisis of the traditional parties stems from the fact that those parties have very strong links with the great centers of power and that is not democracy,” Moreno insisted.

In the area of racial discrimination, Murillo said that even if institutional racism does not exist in Cuba, Afro-Cubans still suffer from marginalization.

“The descendents of African slaves still suffer from structural discrimination that is reflected in the large socioeconomic gap that separates them from the average population,” he said.

He also said that the Cuban population of African origin is underrepresented in decision-making bodies.

In his first speech, on Wednesday, before the Committee, Deputy Minister Moreno emphasized Cuba’s advances in eliminating racial discrimination, but he acknowledged that “certain racial prejudices derived from historical and sociocultural factors still persist.”

The Committee will release its conclusions on the Cuban report on March 11. EFE

*SOURCE: http://laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=387317&CategoryId=14510