Cuba yesterday signed a pair of legally binding human rights agreements, promising, among other things, to allow its citizens free speech, free association, and the right to travel, the BBC reports. Coming mere days after Raul Castro became president, the gesture could signal a shift in Cuba’s policy, though Cuba insists it is only “formalizing” rights Cubans have long held.
Until recently, Cuba rejected the UN Human Rights Commission as US-biased, but now it has opened itself up for a 2009 inspection from its recently established replacement, the UN Human Rights Council. The two pacts, which Cuba agreed to sign in December, guarantee civil, political, social, and economic rights. But critics say the pacts will mean little unless Cuba releases its political prisoners.