Chilean President Bachelet Ignores Cuban Opposition, Human Rights Concerns During Havana Visit

January 11, 2018

January, 9 2018 (Panampost)

Criticism of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet continues following a recent trip to Cuba to meet with Cuban dictator Raúl Castro.

Bachelet’s visit to Cuba, which ended on Monday, January 8, caused public outcry from both sides of the aisle due to the seeming pointlessness of the trip. Some demanded that she reject human rights violations on the island — something she ultimately neglected to do.

President-elect Sebastián Piñera criticized Bachelet for not meeting with the Cuban dissidents, saying that if he were to travel to Cuba, he would not have hesitated to schedule the meeting. “I would meet with the opposition and with the Cubans who are struggling to recover their own freedom, democracy and the rule of law,” he said.

Piñera, who will take office in March 2018, recalled his trip to Cuba during the Celac summit in 2014. He took the opportunity to meet with opposition leaders such as Berta Soler, a member of the Ladies in White. Piñera compared the absence of freedom in Venezuela with the situation in Cuba: “In Cuba there is no democracy, there are no freedoms, and there is no respect for human rights.”

Bachelet held a meeting with Castro under the guise of strengthening ties between the two countries in health, culture and the economy, among other things. With only a few months remaining in her term, it seems that she didn’t mind the criticism that resulted from such a one-sided visit.

Cuban opposition leader Rosa María Payá asked Bachelet to do the right thing and meet with the opposition during her trip to the island, but that request was completely ignored.
Tweet: The text I just published on the President of #Chile’s president to #Cuba “Michelle Bachelet’s Blindness”: a trip that closes a cycle of fidelity to the Plaza de la Revolución and that it has more to do with her emotional attachment the Cuban government than any pragmatic political purpose.

For Payá, an invitation from Castro is nothing more than a “desperate measure to regain legitimacy a few months before choosing Castro’s next heir.”

Senator Juan Antonio Coloma of the right-wing Independent Democratic Union party said that the trip had little political importance and was “deeply inopportune.”