I went to Geneva to leave testimony (for posterity, given the demonstrable inefficacy of this august UN body), but I didn’t expect that the dictatorships represented in the room would behave like a perfectly choreographed set of villains, as one would expect dictatorships to behave. I was unable to finish but I didn’t have to — they proved my point.
Outside the council, several country delegates approached me and thanked me for my “courage.” How pitiable that it is considered courageous, inside the United Nations, which sits in a free country, Switzerland, to say a few words that could upset governments that should be pariahs. And to think that those who came over to me said they had to do so discreetly fearing that the Cuban delegation “might give us a lot of trouble.” No less than two European powers are afraid of a bankrupt police state in the Caribbean whose main exports are broken dreams, exiled political prisoners and failed revolutionary ideas. No wonder the Human Rights Council is so dysfunctional. The only delegate to interact with me on the floor of the council was a diplomat from Sweden.
Venezuela will most likely succeed in obtaining a seat on the council this coming fall. And on Venezuelan state television they will boast of membership at the highest UN body addressing human rights — making it clear to any observer that the UN will not address human rights matters there. Remarkably, they have not once lived up to the dictates of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which has published findings of political persecution. Already, Venezuela has indicated it wishes to leave the highest human rights court in the Western Hemisphere — the Inter-American Court for Human Rights. Why? Because it loses, time and time and time again. At the UN they will take Cuba’s seat as chief interrupter.
The experience was a powerful reminder that those who fear freedom of speech are those with something to hide. The truth, in Russia, China, Cuba and Venezuela, is a frightful thing to the criminals in charge.