Czech envoy vows to continue pressure on Cuba
BY JANE BUSSEY
Despite speculation to the contrary, the Czech Republic announced
Friday that it
would once again this year sponsor a resolution condemning Cuba's human rights
record at the annual meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Commission in April.
For the past two years, the Czech Republic, along with Poland,
the anti-Cuba resolution at the meeting in Geneva, but diplomatic negotiations
leading to the release last week of two prominent Czech citizens jailed in Cuba
prompted reports that the Prague government had quietly agreed to alter its
In a telephone interview with The Herald, the Czech ambassador
to the United
States, Alexandr Vondra, said his country would continue its activist role in
pressuring Cuba to improve its human rights record.
``Of course we will. Today the spokesman for the Czech Foreign
announced that the Czech Republic will sponsor the draft of the resolution again,''
Czech legislator Ivan Pilip and former student leader Jan Bubenik
Jan. 12 in Cuba for meeting with island dissidents, but instead of being placed on
trial in a revolutionary court, they were released 10 days ago after days of quiet
negotiations that involved diplomats from several countries.
Vondra said the Cuban government yielded to international pressure
to put an end
to the diplomatic row.
``What Castro definitely did not like was the reaction to the
Perhaps he underestimated the public reaction and the media reaction and the
expressions of solidarity,'' Vondra said.
The Czech envoy said that at the same time that international
rising, Castro held a six-hour meeting with Czech Senate Chairman Pit Pithart
and also received a group from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which has a
meeting planned for Cuba in April.
Vondra said there was little doubt that the arrest of a Czech
parliament -- and the subsequent outcry from the European Union and other
leaders in Europe -- placed that meeting in doubt.
``The fact is there were two dialogues with the Cubans,'' Vondra said.
``One was the Czech dialogue. At the same time there was the delegation
Inter-Parliamentary Union, and they met with Castro as well. I think that they
played a role in the release.''