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Cuba rejects EU criticism of its human rights

(Xinhua)

10:57, February 08, 2012

HAVANA, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Cuban Foreign Ministry Tuesday rejected criticism by the European Union of the island country's human rights record as "misguided" and said such comments only served to "interfere" in Cuban sovereignty.

"We categorically reject such statements, which constitute a new round of interference in Cuba's internal affairs," Elio Rodriguez, director of European relations at the foreign ministry, told local media.

The comments came after a statement by the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who on Saturday said a "recent outbreak of temporary arrests of peaceful protesters in Cuba" had raised concerns in EU member countries.

Ashton also called on Havana to ensure Cuba would move towards "full respect of civil and political rights, including freedom of expression" of its 10 million population.

"Mrs. Ashton interferes in issues that only concern Cubans," said Rodriguez, adding "Cuban authorities do not recognize moral or political authority" of the EU in criticizing such internal matters.

He urged the EU to first "solve its own serious problems," which included the ongoing debt crisis in the eurozone, the EU's growing anti-immigration policy, and the increasing social exclusion of the unemployed and low-income earners.

Cuba has for the past several weeks rejected what it says is a "defamation campaign" against the island over human rights issues led by the United States, the EU and Chile following the death of prison inmate Wilman Villa.

Human rights activists said Villa was a political prisoner who died because of a prolonged hunger strike, but Cuban authorities said he was convicted to 4 years in jail after being found guilty of beating his wife.

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