Acton Institute Powerblog

Human Rights in Cuba

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Emerging signs of renewed democratic action in Cuba prompted this Wall Street Journal editorial today (subscription required), which calls for the Organization of American States to "do far more to support Cuban democrats." Bringing external political pressure to bear on Cuba only represents part of the solution to human rights violations in Cuba.

As Rev. Robert Sirico wrote previously, "Everyone, except perhaps the National Council of Churches, knows it is true that Cuba has a terrible human-rights record." We might add to that list two Congressman from New York, who said the following:

"[American politicians] refuse to give the [Cuban] government the respect that it deserves."
–Rep. Charlie Rangel, NY.

"Castro is harmful to no one."
–Rep. Maurice Hinchey, NY.

Hinchey does go on to make a somewhat more valid point, however, in that the continuation of the US embargo of Cuba undermines the situation of oppressed Cubans. "To the extent that any harm is being done, it’s the continuation of this policy over the last five decades now," he said, referring to the American embargo. While its completely incredible to claim that Castro is innocent of human rights violations, this does not entail that an embargo is the best policy to pursue.

The answer, of course, is to neither gloss over the crimes of Casto’s government, nor to ignore the possibilities that lifting the embargo might have for improving the condition of Cuba’s poorest. As Rev. Sirico wrote nearly five years ago, "Opening trade relations–or, at the very least, permitting an inflow of food and medicine–actually holds out the prospect of breaking a long-running impasse. There are many issues to be worked out, of course. However, the fact remains that in Cuba, as in China, free trade gives hope to the people who suffer the most from governments that violate human rights."

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty, where he also serves as executive editor the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary. He has authored articles in academic publications such as The Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, and Journal of Scholarly Publishing, and has written popular pieces for newspapers including the Detroit News, Orange County Register, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In 2006, Jordan was profiled in the book, The Relevant Nation: 50 Activists, Artists And Innovators Who Are Changing The World Through Faith. Jordan's scholarly interests include Reformation studies, church-state relations, theological anthropology, social ethics, theology and economics, and research methodology. Jordan is a member of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), and he resides in Jenison, Michigan with his wife and three children.

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