HAVANA Ė The United Nations independent expert on human rights and national solidarity began on Tuesday her first visit to Cuba, where she met with representatives of official civil society organizations and authorities from the fields of education and sports.
Virginia Dandan is the United Nationsí second independent expert to visit the island in recent months, following the expert on people trafficking, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, who made the trip last April.
These visits, both at the invitation of the islandís authorities, mark a new stage in relations between the UN and Cuba, which had not received any independent expert from the UN Human Rights Council in the past 10 years.
The expertís visit began Tuesday at the Cuban Association of the United Nations, an umbrella group of the islandís official civil society organizations, including the Cuban Womenís Federation (FMC), Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), the National Small Farmers Association (ANAP), the Writers and Artists Union (UNEAC), and the Jurists Union.
The independent expert also had separate meetings with the first deputy minister of education, Cira PiŮeiro, and with the deputy minister of higher education, Oberto Santin, to discuss the islandís free and universal educational system, one of the chief banners of the revolution.
During her visit, which will continue until Friday, she will also meet with top government officials including Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and Foreign Commerce and Foreign Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca.
Organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch list the Caribbean island, governed since 1965 by the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), the only one that is legal, among the countries where peopleís political and social rights and freedoms are regularly violated.
The Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, the only organization that records these incidents in Cuba, said in its report for last June that at least 380 arrests were made for political reasons and the highest number of violations of freedom of movement were committed in several years.