- The Washington Times - Friday, March 15, 2002

The Bush administration has asked Peru to sponsor a resolution condemning Cuba at the annual session of the U.N. Human Rights Commission opening in Geneva on Monday.
The move came amid a new crackdown by Havana on dissidents in advance of the meeting, the State Department and human rights groups said.
"A resolution that comes from the region has a better chance of being passed," a State Department official said on the condition of anonymity.
"We believe [Peruvian] President [Alejandro] Toledo has the moral and political authority to lead the region on the issue of democratic freedom and human rights."
A year ago, the United States lost its seat on the commission for the first time in the commission's 50-year history.
Cuba has been condemned at the annual meeting in each of the last three years, but the vote has been close.
The resolutions have usually been sponsored, with strong U.S. backing, by a European country.
However, President Bush will visit Lima this weekend prior to the commission's opening session.
Mr. Bush is visiting Peru, in part, to highlight Peru's success in overcoming the authoritarian rule of ousted President Alberto Fujimori, whose regime routinely trampled democratic principles and human rights.
Mr. Bush, who is to arrive in Peru tomorrow, will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Andean nation.
"We believe a resolution from a Latin American nation would sail through," said another State Department official, also on the condition of anonymity.
Peruvian Ambassador Allan Wagner, who had meetings at the White House on Wednesday to perpare for Mr. Bush's visit, had no comment on whether Peru would sponsor the resolution.
Meanwhile State Department officials and human rights activists said the Cuban government has begun a crackdown on dissidents and human rights activists in advance of the Geneva meeting.
State security police on Wednesday arrested Roberto Larramendi in Havana, one day after his independent teachers' organization released a report detailing how teachers who disagree with the government are fired.
The report, written for distribution at the U.N. commission, called for the "rehabilitation" of Cuba's education system.
The arrest of Mr. Larramendi, who is vice president of the teachers group with over 300 members, was reported by Roberto Miranda, the organization's president, to Graciella Cruz-Taura, a history professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
As they spoke on the telephone, Cuban state security police took Mr. Larramendi away.
"Roberto Miranda is afraid he is next," Mrs. Cruz-Taura said.
The State Department said it had independent reports of arrests in recent days, where dissidents were picked up and then released.
The Castro government has said it has some 100 people in custody for trying to obtain asylum by crashing a bus into the Mexican Embassy compound in Havana last week.
U.S. officials said the number detained is two or three times that figure.
Orlando Gutierrez of Directorio, an authoritative Miami-based organization that monitors dissident activity and arrests on the island, said a sweep is under way.
"About 30 people have been arrested recently, and they have been told they will be charged," said Mr. Gutierrez.
He said that 10 persons were arrested in Ciego de Avila province one week ago, inculding well-known blind dissident Juan Carlos Gonzalez-Leyva.
"Our information says they were severely beaten in prison," Mr. Gutierrez said.


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