April 14, 2017

Dear Ms. Giammarinaro,

As we mentioned in our previous letter, we duly appreciate the difficulties of any fact finding mission to Cuba when your host, the Cuban Government, organizes the program and agenda and precludes other voices to be heard. You were no exception to that rule.

For barely five days they showed you what they wanted you to see, arranged for meetings with those who they wanted you to hear, and carefully drafted the narratives they thought would persuade you to give them a green pass in this field. At the end, tweaking words here and there, they were able to harvest the headlines they needed for their international image. Under the circumstances that was almost inevitable, even when you tried to take prudent distance from some of the “information” fed to your delegation.

But yet in those circumstances you honestly pointed some of the things we also mentioned in our previous letter (such as the unacceptable age of 16 years old to establish legal consent). We fully agree with your most comprehensive assessment: Cuban national legislation is insufficient in this field and still has to be reformed to be based on international human rights standards. On that note we also welcome your call to open the doors to other special rapporteurs of the UN human rights system, such as Juan E. Mendez. Only a comprehensive assessment by all human rights rapporteurs can provide a fair judgment on the Cuban government rhetoric and practices.

The good news is that you still have enough time to access other sources and opinions before your office issues its final official report on Cuba in June 2018.

Thus, there is no point to now argue via e-mail if Cubans are “likely” to be less vulnerable than the population in other countries due to their “free” educational system and welfare institutions. Neither it will be professionally serious to debate at distance if the health personnel of the island’s international brigades are free to join and leave the contracts they are served – as you said Cuban officials “guaranteed to you” that is the case. Nevertheless, allow me to say –and I am sure you will agree – that your mission is not accomplished yet. You still need to listen to other views. Those of the victims.

We have not withdrawn our faith in your honest search of truth. We are now reiterating our willingness to facilitate directs meetings with victims and witnesses that can directly provide you the non official view of these realities. We are not imposing their views on your office; we are just pointing out that your comments at a press conference closing a four days visit to Cuba cannot be selectively quoted to be construed as the final assessment of your office on this issue.  That is what, sadly, the Cuban controlled media is doing right now.

Please take note of the following: we are a human rights organization, not a political party. We are trying to connect you directly with the pain of individuals who were or are abused by an institutional arrangement that is sold abroad as exemplary. Without the reflection of their perspectives your report would lack the credibility it deserves. I honestly believe you are open to that experience and we look forward to assist you on this matter.


Dr. Juan A. Blanco

Executive Director Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba

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