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Allies join US in urging Cuba to respect rights

(AFP)

Right-leaning Latin American governments and other US allies joined Washington on Monday in urging Cuba to respect rights and free people detained in unprecedented mass protests.

Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador were among 20 nations that joined US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a call on the communist government to “respect the legally guaranteed rights and freedoms of the Cuban people” and to “release those detained for exercising their rights to peaceful protests.”

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“We urge the Cuban government to heed the voices and demands of the Cuban people,” said a joint statement, which also called for an end to internet restrictions.

“The international community will not waver in its support of the Cuban people and all those who stand up for the basic freedoms all people deserve.”

Other Latin American nations to sign the statement were Guatemala and Honduras, both closely aligned with US foreign policy, while US ally South Korea was the one Asian nation to join.

Several European nations also signed including Austria, Poland and Greece, which has been reversing course from the previous government’s championing of left-wing causes.

But the statement did not include close US allies such as Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Spain despite their general eagerness to work closely with President Joe Biden following turbulence under his predecessor Donald Trump.

Biden has put a priority on rallying allies but the United States has historically been isolated on Cuba, with years of lopsided votes at the United Nations criticizing the half-century US embargo on the island.

The Biden administration last week imposed sanctions on Cuba’s defense minister and says it is looking for ways to restore internet access and to let Cuban-Americans send back money without the government taking a cut.

Mass protests erupted on July 11 as the island suffers its worst economic crisis in years, brought in part by stringent measures against Covid-19.

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