In the New York Review of Books, Nik Steinberg and Daniel Wilkinson of Human Rights Watch have written an interesting essay on the human rights situation in
“Invoking national sovereignty may be the most common tactic used by governments around the globe—and across the political spectrum—to counter criticism of their abusive practices. It is the international equivalent of the ‘states’ rights’ claim that segregationists in the US South used for years to defend their racist laws and policies. The aim is to shift the focus of public concern from the rights of abuse victims to the rights (real and imagined) of the states that abuse them.
“What sets the Castro government apart from most others that employ this tactic is the fact that
I don’t agree that the embargo in and of itself threatens Cuban sovereignty; it’s an expression of American sovereignty to decide not to trade with another country. In this case it’s
But the part about Helms-Burton is actually little worse than described. The Helms-Burton law says that even if
One could write this off as old history – who can remember 1996, after all? – but the Helms-Burton law lives on in many ways.
One is in the political message that it continues to send, as Steinberg and Wilkinson describe.
Another is in the program that sent USAID contractor Alan Gross to
What is surprising is that the Obama Administration keeps the USAID program going, using a regime-change framework to attempt to carry out programs that it seems to conceive as mainly humanitarian.