Human Rights and
International Democratic Solidarity


Promotion of the Political Opening in Cuba


The winner of the 2023 edition of the Award for Committed Human Rights Diplomacy in Cuba is a Swiss citizen

Mauro Reina served as Swiss Ambassador to Cuba from December 2019 to July 2023. »I dedicate the Award to all Cuban women and men who fight for a better future despite the risks to their freedom and security,» the Swiss diplomat said.

Mauro Reina set himself apart by recognizing and supporting Democratic leaders, speaking out in a public statement about the suppression of the massive protests on July 11 and 12, 2021, and the forced exile of critical voices.

In this regard, CADAL highlights the Swiss Embassy in Cuba’s post on X (formerly known as Twitter) from July 15, 2021: MANIFESTATIONS IN CUBA: POSITION TAKEN BY SWITZERLAND "Switzerland follows with concern the demonstrations of the last few days in Cuba. It calls on the authorities to respect human rights - including freedom of assembly and expression - and to release all persons who have demonstrated peacefully. It encourages the Cuban authorities to engage in an inclusive dialogue with the demonstrators about their concerns."

Later the next year, on February 23, 2022, the Embassy of Switzerland in Cuba published the following: EXPRESSION OF GRATITUDE TO DR. FERNÁNDEZ ESTRADA "A few days ago we received the sad news of Dr. Julio Antonio Fernández Estrada's departure from the country. More than a jurist and historian of the first order, Dr. Fernandez Estrada was a close contact of the Swiss Embassy, contributing not only his academic vision of many issues of the events of the island, but also his personal qualities and his constructive disposition to a transparent exchange of ideas. Dr. Fernandez Estrada, who contributed so much to his country - whether from a classroom or from an opinion column - leaves us the living image of the high intellectual quality that still inhabits the Cuban academic environment, even if it often remains outside an Institution or a University. It was an honor for the Swiss Embassy to spend time and discussions with him and we hope for his academic and personal success in the near future. We also regret the recurrent news of colleagues and citizens in general, who are now emigrating in significant numbers from Cuba to other nations, at a time when the country is going through a serious multidimensional crisis that the Government of Switzerland, through its cooperation program, humbly contributes to mitigate, in solidarity with the people and the Government of Cuba.The growing departure of intellectuals, artists and young people brings negative consequences to the future of the country, affecting the population's aging, the lack of productive work forces, the absence of political, economic and cultural renewal, and unfortunately affecting families and individuals in general. In order to face the challenges of the contemporary world, governmental efforts and political will will not be enough, but the strength of a diverse, inclusive and free civil society that can work fully for the benefit of the community is almost vitally needed. The Embassy of Switzerland bids a grateful farewell to Dr. Fernandez Estrada and follows, attentively, Cuban events".


Regarding the work of the awarded diplomat, Julio Antonio Fernández Estrada said the following: "Ambassador Mauro Reina, ambassador of the Swiss Confederation in Cuba, has been an example throughout his mission on the largest island in the Caribbean of committed diplomacy with the diligence of his responsibilities to his government and of respect and sensitivity to the problems of the Cuban people. It is not common to find ambassadors who fully understand the pains and greatness of the Cuban people, our humility and our values, the beauty of our culture and the deterioration of that same culture, which is why Mr. Reina has stood out so much during the years of his mission in Havana. The way in which the Swiss embassy has reacted to political events in Cuba in which there has been a violation of such dear human rights as freedom of speech, of the press, of political thought, of demonstration and of association, among others, has been an example that it is possible to find diplomatic missions in Cuba that understand the drama that the Cuban people are going through. From a completely personal point of view, it was surprising to read the note of gratitude and sorrow from the Swiss embassy upon learning of my forced departure from Cuba. I believe that beyond what it meant to me as an individual, it was a completely extraordinary position of high dignity and political decorum in the scenario of ordinary diplomacy.”

The journalist Abraham Jimenez Enoa, in turn, declared: "In a moment of great importance for Cuban citizens, such as the years 2021 and 2022, Mauro Reina not only cared to understand the importance of the events, but also accompanied and supported those who were striving to change the course of life in Cuba. A gesture worthy of gratitude. A gesture that very few foreign diplomats in Cuba have the courage to make.”

Meanwhile the historian Manuel Cuesta Morúa noted: "With tireless discretion, Ambassador Mauro Reina showed at all times his sensitivity to the major problems facing Cuba, as well as to democratization and civil society. With tact, which was probably demanded from his government, he knew how to show himself openly with many of us, sending the message that Switzerland, the neutral country par excellence, knows how to choose which side of history to be on. We thank Mauro Reina for being there for us, in the hope that Cubans, who are more important than Cuba, will be in his thoughts in his work. Wherever his next destination may be.”

Finally, CADAL's General Director, Gabriel C. Salvia, stated : "From the first contact by e-mail I noticed that Ambassador Reina was a committed diplomat and during his mission in Cuba I verified that he was one of those people that, in defense of human rights, René Cassin defined as 'good-hearted'. They are the kind of human beings who make a difference, who in different complicated historical contexts were few in number and unfortunately still are. It is a great honor for CADAL to grant him this well-deserved Award".

Mauro Reina - Premio a la Diplomacia Comprometida con los Derechos Humanos en Cuba

Mauro Reina was born in Sorengo (Switzerland) in 1964. A native of Lugano (Switzerland), he holds a law degree from the University of Geneva. He joined the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAE) in 1990 and completed his two years of diplomatic practice in Berne, London and Geneva. In 1992 he was assigned to headquarters as diplomatic assistant to the General Secretariat and later as coordinator of international refugee policy in the Political Directorate. In 1996, he was transferred to Buenos Aires as First Secretary, in charge of Cultural Affairs. In 1998, he returned to Geneva to work at the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the WTO and EFTA. In 2002, he was appointed Counselor for Political Affairs in Madrid. Since July 2006, he was Deputy Head of Protocol in Bern and since June 2009, Deputy Head of Embassy in Rome. From February 2013 to July 2016, Ambassador Reina was Head of Mission in Astana (Kazakhstan), with dual accreditation in Tajikistan. Returning to Bern in August 2016, he was until November 2019 Chief of Protocol of the FDFA, with the title of Ambassador. From December 2019 to July 2023 he was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Switzerland to Cuba and Jamaica, with residence in Havana. Since August 2023, he has been Head of Mission to the Kingdom of Denmark.Jorge Edwards

Since the creation of this Award, 16 foreign diplomats who served in Cuba have received it -one of them anonymously- and a special one has been granted to Chilean Jorge Edwards, author of Persona Non Grata and pioneer of committed human rights diplomacy in Cuba. Between 2003 and 2023, diplomats from Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, the United States and now Switzerland were awarded. The anonymous awardee is from a European country.

The purpose of the award is to recognize the work of diplomats accredited in Cuba whose performance has been characterized by their recognition, support and encouragement of Cuban democratic actors and their efforts in the defense of human rights and political pluralism.

This initiative of CADAL remembers the humanitarian gestures of several foreign diplomats during the military dictatorships of the Southern Cone and the importance of international solidarity in the light of the outrages suffered by people living in countries governed by regimes that repress fundamental freedoms.


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