Human Rights and
International Democratic Solidarity


Promotion of the Political Opening in Cuba


Fidel Castro and the Integrity of Estela de Carlotto in the Defence of Human Rights

(Infobae) A human rights figure cannot be indifferent towards human rights violations that take place in the remaining dictatorships nor they can ignore such evident facts to defend the indefensible.
By Gabriel C. Salvia

(Infobae) Leaving aside her Kirchner partisanship, a fact that always casted doubt over the credibility and honesty in the defence of human rights by the main organizations who fought for rights under the military dictatorship in Argentina, has been their indifference towards those suffering under repressive regimes in various places in the world.

Unfortunately, the list of the remaining dictatorships and authoritarian regimes is rather long: North Korea, China, Cuba, Belarus, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Equatorial Guinea, Laos, Bahrain, Venezuela, Russia and Nicaragua, to mention a few cases which will never be criticised by human rights organisations in Argentina.

In some cases, such as Cuba, organisations like Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo actively defend the one party system and its state policy of violations of human rights. This is even more incomprehensible since Cuba had a well-documented alliance with the military regime in Argentina.

In fact, in 1979, Cuba did not condemn the Argentinean military leadership in the UN Commission on Human Rights, the predecessor organisation of the UN Human Rights Council. Furthermore, the two states supported each other in election bids to international organisations; Argentinean exiles had to move away from Cuba to Mexico in order to continue criticising the military government in Buenos Aires; and Castro himself invited the head of Argentina, Jorge Rafael Videla, to a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Havana in order to receive his support.

The latest proof for Cuban complicity with the Argentinean dictatorship comes from the declassification of archives of the foreign ministry, a task that was realised under the supervision of the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) during the administration of Hector Timerman.

Since then, it has been apparent that Argentina's military had a commercial partnership with the Soviet Union in which Cuba acted as an intermediary between the military dictatorship

and the Soviet bloc. Moreover, during this period of military dictatorships in Latin America, Cuba upheld diplomatic relations with only three Latin American countries among which was, unsurprisingly, Videla's Argentina.

Consequently, if Cuba continuously violates human rights, something claimed by renowned international organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and was allied with Videla's military dictatorship, then the Argentinean human rights organisations would have to be utterly critical of the government in Cuba and highly supportive of Cuban activists and political prisoners.

On the other side, there is Fidel Castro’s cynicism. He trained many young revolutionaries that later participated in the political violence in Argentina which was aimed at overthrowing a system that repressed, tortured, assassinated and abducted people. Even in the light of this disgraceful betrayal, human rights organisations in Argentina continue to defend the Cuban regime.

In addition, after Castro died, the president of Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, Estela de Carlotto, published an article in Pagina/12 entitled "My encounters with a Man of Integrity". In this article, she states: "He knew who we were because we were the Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and he knew why they had killed our children, our revolutionaries." The incredible thing is she starts the article confirming that she encountered Castro for the first time when the Federation of Women of the Revolution invited the grandmothers to Cuba in 1984. This indicates that he was reluctant to invite them to the island during Argentina's dictatorship due to the alliance he had with Argentine government. Until 1982, Castro even received the foreign minister of Argentina, Nicanor Costa Méndez, as he sought to support their invasion of the Falkland Islands.

These contradictions of human rights organisations in Argentina are usually not significant. However, what is true is that they do not share the liberal progressive ideology of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN on December 1948. For them, these political and civil rights, known as rights of first generation, continue to be bourgeois liberties against which many of those people fought and then became victims of illegal repression during Argentina's military dictatorship. Most of the leading figures who were involved in the armed struggle of the 1970s, such as the Uruguayan Rovira-Grieco, do not have the decency to criticise Cuba and admit that their loved ones lost their lives fighting for an illusion.

The fact is that it is neither possible for a human rights activist to remain indifferent towards violations that occur in dictatorial countries nowadays, nor is it feasible to categorically ignore historical facts in order to defend the undefendable. It is time to question the credibility of Estela de Carlotto who just recently, after an interview with La Nación which dealt with the official number of disappeared people in Argentina, confirmed that they were trying to make her look like a liar. While doing so, it became clear that it is her, with her action and words, who demonstrates that she is lacking integrity in the fight for human rights.

Gabriel C. Salvia
Gabriel C. Salvia
General Director
International human rights activist. Since 1992 he has served as director of Civil Society Organizations and is a founding member of CADAL. As a journalist he worked in graphics, radio and TV. Compiled several books, among them "Diplomacy and Human Rights in Cuba" (2011) and "Human rights in international relations and foreign policy" (2021), and he is the author of "Dancing for a mirage: notes on politics, economics and diplomacy in the governments of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner" (2017). He is also the author of several reports, including " The chairs of the Council: authoritarianism and democracies in the evolution of the integration of the UN Human Rights body" and "Memory closed: The complicity of the Cuban revolution with the Argentine military dictatorship".

More by Gabriel C. Salvia
More about the project Promotion of the Political Opening in Cuba
Latest videos