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    Cuba Gets Historic Criticism From Chile's Socialist Party

    Cuba Gets Historic Criticism From 's Socialist Party
    Written by Mira Galanova
    Monday, 22 March 2010 05:21

    Socialist deputies express concern over violations

    Chile's Socialist Party (PS) is condemning the regime of Cuban President
    for its abuse of human rights — a historic change in the
    attitude of Chile's most important left-wing party, which had never been
    critical of this communist country before.

    "Our sympathy for Cuba doesn't make us to forget that the human rights
    proclaimed and established in the 1948 charter (Universal Declaration of
    Human Rights) are of the first priority," reads a declaration of the
    Socialist Party (PS) deputies published last week.

    Although the PS acknowledged "the show of solidarity that the Cuban
    people and authorities have shown towards the Chilean people in various
    historical circumstances," Chile's PS also said this doesn't mean they
    "should or could hold back from just criticism."

    The PS deputies expressed their concern over "prisoners of conscience,"
    requesting their immediate and unconditional liberation, to the Cuban
    ambassador in Chile.

    The declaration brings up the case of Cuban Orlando
    Tamayo who died in February after a 85-day hunger strike. This
    was the first time in nearly 40 years that a Cuban activist starved
    himself to death to protest against government abuses.

    Cuba's () Human Rights Commission says there are about 200
    political prisoners still held in Cuba, about one-third less than when
    Raul Castro took over as president from his brother Fidel. However, the
    group says that the harassment of dissidents has increased over last year.

    The chief of the Socialist Party's parliamentary committee, Dep. Sergio
    Aguiló, described last week's declaration as historic. "This is the
    first time in 20 years of the democracy in Chile that we, the
    Socialists, are speaking critically on this topic," he said.

    Previously, the closest the PS got to criticism was in 1996 when Cuba's
    then-President visited Chile to attend the 6th
    Iberoamerican Summit. At that time the widow of former socialist
    president Salvador Allende, Hortensia Bussi, called for political
    opening and democratic liberty on the Caribbean island. Castro´s regime
    interpreted the episode as a political manoeuvre of the Socialist Party
    and the relationship between Cuba and the Allende family became tense.

    Current Chilean President Sebastian Piñera criticized his PS
    predecessor, Michelle Bachelet, for refusing to meet with Cuban
    dissidents on her official visit to the nation in 2009.

    He affirmed that his government would strongly defend human rights
    giving much more attention to Cuba. Still, he did not rule out a future
    official visit to Havana and stated a willingness to meet with leading
    authorities as well as with dissidents (ST, Feb. 17).

    The PS last week also decided to postpone internal party election until
    June because about one third of its membership is located in the
    earthquake devastated south central part of the country. The PS also
    debated whether or not to extend an invitation to PS Marco
    Enriquez-Ominami (MEO) to future PS meetings, reaching no final conclusion.

    MEO, 36, bolted the party last year when PS leadership would not allow
    him to run as a primary candidate in the nation's presidential primary
    and won 20 percent of the national vote as an independent last December,

    By Mira Galanova

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