Powell Wants Anti-Castro Resolution Adopted By United Nations

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:09 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Secretary of State Colin Powell is intervening personally in hopes of removing criticism of the U.S economic embargo against Cuba that's being considered by the United Nations Human Rights Commission. The Commission will be meeting in Geneva next week.

Powell, according to State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, is intervening personally to remove the anti-embargo language. He has spoken with Czech President Vaclav Havel on the matter. The Czech Republic is the chief sponsor of the resolution.

"I would confirm the Secretary did talk to President Havel over the weekend. They discussed the issue of the Cuba resolution at the UN Human Rights Commission this year. The United States' view in working with the Czechs and with a variety of others who are involved in this resolution has been that it should be quite clear about the human rights situation in Cuba, and it should not mix in other factors such as economic issues," Boucher said.

Boucher added, "I think we do look to working with the Czech government because we do think that their views on the Cuban human rights situation are quite clear and that they understand quite well the problems and difficulties presented on the human rights front by the Government in Cuba."

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairman of the House International Relations Subcommittee on Human Rights supports Powell's efforts, according to her spokesman Rudy Fernandez. "She is a big embargo supporter," Fernandez said.

Ros-Lehtinen is a Cuban exile.

Steve Johnson, Latin American policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation in Washington called Powell's intervention "a positive sign."

"Obviously, that's a positive sign that the [Bush] Administration is trying to separate out the issue of human rights and the embargo in something that could be a resolution that would have a rather confusing purpose. Human rights and the [economic] embargo are two different things," Johnson said.

However, Radio Havana reported Monday that Roberto Madrazo, the leader of Mexico's PRI opposition party, said the United States is in no position to criticize anyone about issues related to human rights.

Madrazo, speaking in Havana, said that the United States is "promoting a well-funded campaign to condemn Cuba before the United Nations Human Rights Commission."

The United States, according to Madrazo, should not need to be reminded about international criticism of its treatment of illegal Mexican immigrants. He believes the U.S. treatment of Mexican immigrants is one of the most "difficult points" in Mexico's relations with the U.S.

Madrazo asked how can the United States "seriously question" Cuba or any other country when the United States constantly violates human rights of other countries. He also believes Mexico will respect Cuba's position on human rights like it has in the past.