PRAGUE, Czech Republic (Reuters) -- The Czech Republic defended on Monday
move to censure its one-time ally Cuba for human rights violations at a United Nations
On Sunday Cuban leader Fidel Castro said his government could end relations
Prague if it tabled a resolution criticizing Cuba at the U.N. Human Rights Commission
But in a statement on Monday the Czech Foreign Ministry defended its intention
seek censure of the Caribbean island nation after Havana failed to heed a call by the
U.N. to release political prisoners last year.
"The situation...has not improved. On the contrary, during 1999, demands
political prisoners from jail were not fulfilled and the number tried and convicted for
political reasons rose," the ministry said.
"The Czech Republic's actions...are not led by animosity toward the Cuban
the contrary, it considers the resolution to be an offer of dialogue with Cuban
authorities which could lead to the improvement of human rights in Cuba."
The ministry added the resolution was being prepared jointly with Poland.
Cuba considers opponents of the government as counter-revolutionaries backed
the United States and jails them under laws that effectively outlaw active political
opposition outside the ruling Communist Party, headed by Castro.
During a five-hour speech to university students on Sunday, Castro lambasted
Czech call for censure and accused Prague of acting as a puppet of the United States.
Since communist rule ended in then Czechoslovakia in the 1989 bloodless
Revolution," the Czech Republic and Cuba have clashed publicly several times over
Copyright 2000 Reuters.