• Robert Spicer

Fidel Castro and social and economic human rights

Fidel Castro: revolutionary hero or tyrannical dictator

It is clear that Castro was a supreme guerrilla fighter who led the overthrow of the fascist Batista regime in Cuba in 1959. The victory of the revolutionaries was enthusiastically welcomed by most Cubans. It is also generally accepted that Cuba’s health and education system is superior to that of many developed countries. Castro’s regime has been criticised for human rights violations. This illustrates the contradiction between individual human rights and social and economic rights. We have consistently argued for the extension of human rights law in the social and economic field, for example the right to housing, health, food and education, which is ignored by current UK human rights legislation. Whether this contradiction can ever be resolved remains to be seen – perhaps the 1996 constitution of South Africa, which guarantees individual, social and economic rights, comes closest. As Albie Sachs commented, individual human rights can guarantee to people dying of hunger the inalienable right to use their last breath freely to curse the government.

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