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Sea Change In US-Cuba Relations Makes Waves Deep In Desert

US Backed Repression

The Moroccan occupation of the Western Sahara is rife with human rights abuses condemned in reports by the Obama Administration and other monitoring organizations like Amnesty International. Sahrawi inside the Western Sahara are routinely beaten savagely and imprisoned by Moroccan authorities for peaceful protests. Women and children are frequent targets of beatings on the streets that include baton strikes, kicks, punches and stomping by riot-gear-clad police. Sahrawi in West Sahara endure high unemployment and other forms of discrimination.

The 2014 democracy/human rights rankings issued by Freedom House list Cuba as better than Moroccan domination in the Western Sahara. The Washington, DC-based Freedom House gives Moroccan occupation with its worst ratings in the categories of freedom; civil liberties and political rights. Cuba, meanwhile, received the worst rating in only Freedom House's political rights category. Freedom House, a research institute, was co-founded in 1941 by then U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

For decades the U.S. denounced the allegedly autocratic control of Cuba by Cuba's revolutionary leader and long-time president Fidel Castro. Yet, Morocco is a monarchy ruled for centuries by absolutist kings, while the Polisario Front has democratically elected officials at the local and national levels.

The residents of Morocco, the Western Sahara and the refugee camps outside Tinduf share the same religion – Islam -- and even belong to the same Sunni Islamic sect.

“The U.S. having better relations with Cuba is in the interest of the entire world,” Brahim Mojtar, SADR’s Minister of Cooperation said. Mojtar has held SADR posts in the U.S. and many countries across West, East and Southern Africa.

“The time must come for the U.S. to realize it is in its interest to put an end to this impasse and put the U.N. referendum in place,” Mojtar said.

That U.N. supervised referendum for the Western Sahara would enable the Sahrawi to vote for three options: independence for the Western Sahara, autonomy of that nation under Moroccan control or complete integration within Morocco.

Morocco contends it has an ancient claim over the Western Sahara dating from when the Kingdom of Morocco was dominant in a section of North Africa prior to European colonization. International legal and political bodies have consistently rejected those claims to the Western Sahara, which is located south of Morocco on the Atlantic Ocean coast of North Africa.

The African Union, the body representing 54 nations in Africa, supports the call for a U.N.-backed vote to determine the future of the Western Sahara. Morocco is the only country on the African continent that does not belong to the AU – having left the AU’s predecessor (the Organization of Africa Unity) in 1984 when the OAU recognized the SADR’s claims on the Western Sahara.

Morocco has been able to defy the United Nations and other bodies demanding a referendum due to overt support from France and tacit support from the United States.

Morocco’s position to extend autonomy to the Western Sahara enjoys bi-partisan on Capitol Hill –- support that embraces strange bedfellows. For example liberal black Democratic Congressman from South Carolina James Clyburn, a staunch supporter of President Obama, supports Morocco’s autonomy scheme as does South Carolina conservative white Republican Congressman Joe Wilson, who uttered the infamous “You Lie!” insult at Obama during the president's 2009 State of the Union address.



story | by Dr. Radut