These stories, via Wikileaks, if true are rather curious for a few key players. Western states are proven once again to largely ignore human rights (money is the key factor). And Michael Moore, for a film that certainly glorified the Cuban health system, is looking a little sheepish.
Australia, Canada and several European countries have stopped pressuring Cuba over human rights in the hope of winning commercial favours from Havana, according to confidential US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
The western governments continued to pay lip service to concerns about political prisoners and censorship, but in reality were appeasing the island’s communist rulers, said Jonathan Farrar, the US head of mission.
The diplomat made scathing remarks about his colleagues shunning democracy activists, “kowtowing” to the Castro regime and joining what he scornfully termed the “best friends forever” camp.
“The Cuban government has been able to stonewall its independent civil society from foreign visitors who have, for the large part, been all too ready to give in to Cuban bullying and give up on these encounters,” Farrar said.
He named and shamed the countries Washington considers offenders in its battle, started half a century ago by JFK, to keep an international squeeze on the island.
“The Australian foreign minister, Switzerland‘s human rights special envoy and the Canadian cabinet level minister of the Americas not only failed to meet with non-government Cubans, they didn’t even bother to publicly call for more freedoms after visiting Cuba in November,” Farrar wrote.
Cuba banned Michael Moore‘s 2007 documentary, Sicko, because it painted such a “mythically” favourable picture of Cuba’s healthcare system that the authorities feared it could lead to a “popular backlash”, according to US diplomats in Havana.
The revelation, contained in a confidential US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks , is surprising, given that the film attempted to discredit the US healthcare system by highlighting what it claimed was the excellence of the Cuban system.
But the memo reveals that when the film was shown to a group of Cuban doctors, some became so “disturbed at the blatant misrepresentation of healthcare in Cuba that they left the room”.
Castro’s government apparently went on to ban the film because, the leaked cable claims, it “knows the film is a myth and does not want to risk a popular backlash by showing to Cubans facilities that are clearly not available to the vast majority of them.”
Sicko investigated healthcare in the US by comparing the for-profit, non-universal US system with the non-profit universal health care systems of other countries, including Cuba, France and the UK.
UPDATE: Actually, writes Mike Moore, Sicko was never banned in Cuba and this proves how unreliable US diplomats can be.