Cuba protests US event at UN on political prisoners

2 min

United Nations (United States) (AFP)

Cuba has asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to cancel plans by the United States to launch a campaign at the United Nations on the plight of Cuban political prisoners.

Cuban Ambassador Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo wrote a letter at the weekend to Guterres arguing that the event scheduled for Tuesday was in violation of UN rules about the use of its premises.

The ambassador asked Guterres' office to "cancel the holding of the event," the Cuban mission to the United Nations said in a press release.

UN officials will meet Cuban diplomats to discuss their concerns, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday.

He noted that there are administrative rules for holding such events on UN premises and "that's the guidance the secretary-general will follow."

"We will be in touch with them to answer those concerns," Dujarric said.

The rules are vague and specify only that meetings and events held on UN premises must be "consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations" and be non-commercial.

A US spokesman said the event entitled "Jailed for What?" will go ahead as scheduled on Tuesday to draw attention to the plight of an estimated 130 political prisoners held in Cuba.

The meeting will be held at the UN's Economic and Social Council and the US representative to the council, Kelley Currie, will deliver remarks.

The US move comes just weeks before the General Assembly is scheduled to hold its annual vote on ending the US embargo on Cuba, which last year was adopted by a vote of 191 to 2, with only the United States and Israel voting against.

In 2016, the US abstained, marking in a major shift as the administration of former president Barack Obama worked to end decades of enmity with Havana.