On the heels of Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s speech slamming Arizona’s immigration law, Cuban leaders and Venezuela’s president are adding to the chorus and calling the law ‘racist and xenophobic” – but they’re carrying their own human rights baggage.
Cuban parliamentarians passed a resolution last week denouncing Arizona’s new law as “racist and xenophobic,” as well as a “brutal violation of human rights.” Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, meanwhile, reportedly blasted the law through his minister of foreign affairs, demanding that it be “repealed” and that America move away from its “old habits of racism.”
Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said immigrants in the U.S. are treated in a manner that’s “inconsistent with human rights … a perennial violation against our fellow Latin Americans,” CNSNews.com reported.
Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said those criticisms are misguided given the state of human rights in both Cuba and Venezuela.
“They’re not fair and they are obviously politically motivated,” Mehlman said. “Obviously, [Chavez and Cuban lawmakers] do not have the best interests of the United States at heart. They have appalling human rights records and their criticisms ought not to be taken seriously.”
Cuba, the communist-run island of roughly 11 million, has long been condemned for its human rights record, including the jailing of roughly 200 political prisoners, the banning of a free press and the outlawing of opposition political parties. Cuban citizens also are mandated to carry identification at all times and can be stopped by authorities and sent home if they are found in a part of the island where they don’t belong, the Associated Press reports.
“It’s hypocritical of the worst dictatorship in the Western hemisphere to criticize Arizona’s immigration law,” said Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based conservative think tank. “Cuba’s human rights record dealing with Hispanics is significantly worse than the United States in general, so perhaps they should clean up their own ship before they criticize others.”
Nowrasteh said many Hispanics fled Fidel and Raul Castro’s socialist state for the “supposedly racist and xenophobic” United States.
“They chose with their feet,” he said.
Recent statements by Cuban politicians and Chavez are an attempt to connect with a “very small segment” of the American political scene that listens to what they have to say. He noted Chavez’s usage of a Twitter account to reach the masses much easier.
“With modern technology, it’s so much easier,” Nowrasteh said.