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Cuba has been under siege for forty years. The situation in Cuba has worsened in the past ten years with the loss of trade from the Communist block and the increased pressure due to the heightened US economic embargo. It has been shown, through the Freedom of Information Act, that the CIA has attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro on several occasions and that the US government was complicit in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Cuban expatriates, with the aid and encouragement of the US government have attacked Cuba, killed Cubans, attempted to destabilize the government by planting bombs, and even destroyed crops. They have also attempted to provoke the Cuban Airforce into action by ignoring warnings not to fly into Cuban airspace and drop leaflets urging people to revolt against the government of Cuba. When the Cuban government acts on their threats, as they did with the so-called "brothers to the rescue," the US government uses the Cuban retaliation to take even stronger measures against them.
In spite of the resulting siege mentality, which the majority of the Cuban people experience, there is general support among the Cuban people for the policies that curtail public protest against them and their government. Many journalists and political pundits have suggested that the actions by the US government to isolate and contain Cuba have helped keep Castro in power for 40 years. Others assert that Castro is simply reflecting the will of his people by punishing those that advocate the overthrow of the government. Clearly, people who disagree with the government's policies and choose to protest publicly are breaking the law and will be punished for it, and punishment includes imprisonment.
Human right organizations are necessary and help serve people who do not have a voice in their country. People in such organizations are advocates such as lawyers, journalists, peasant leaders, trade unionists, students, relatives of victims and many others who denounce and investigate violations. They support and protect the victims, fight to end impunity, promote human rights education, and mobilize their communities in campaigns to stop violations of human rights.
Yet, we must exercise caution when we accuse others of committing human rights abuses. All too often, the act of branding a particular country as having human rights violations is simply a political act. The struggle for power at the global level often results in countries using alleged human rights as justifications for repressive policies, economic isolation, and even war. Claims of abuse are not always fair, nor evenly applied.
World opinion in regards to Cuba and human rights abuses has shifted in recent years. In the spring of 1998, the United Nations removed Cuba from its list of countries that abuses the human rights of its citizens. The majority of delegates came to the conclusion that Cuba was not involved in human rights abuses and that it was time that the world community acknowledged the reality of Cuba's domestic policies.

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