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New U.S. Rights Report Slams Cuba, Venezuela

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Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department in Washington to release it’s annual human rights reports, June 25, 2015.

News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. June 26, 2015: The United States labeled both Cuba and Venezuela as human rights abusers in the Americas even as it sought to improve relations with Cuba and set up an embassy there.

In the long-delayed annual human rights report released Thursday, the State Department cited Cuba and Venezuela as the only countries in the Caribbean and Latin America that violated citizens’ basic freedoms in 2014.

“In 2014, the Cuban government reportedly used threats, physical assault, intimidation, violent government-organized counter-protests against peaceful dissent, harassment, and detentions to restrict the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly,” the Department’s report released by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated.

The U.S. also said that civil society in Cuba “recorded the highest number of arbitrary, short-term detentions over the last five years at nearly 9,000” even as the Raoul Castro government continues to block citizens’ access to uncensored, independent information in general and to restrict the availability of the Internet.

The Department also lashed out at Venezuela’s Security forces and armed pro-government groups for committing human rights abuses against participants in protests that took place across the country between February and May.

The Nicolás Maduro Moros government was also accused of using the judiciary to intimidate and selectively prosecute political, civil society, union and business leaders who were critical of government policies and impeding freedom of expression and the press.