HAVANA (AP) Official media in Cuba celebrated the country's election to the U.N. Human Rights Council as a vindication of the Communist-run nation's principles on Wednesday.

A day after the Caribbean country was picked for a three-year term on the 47-seat Geneva-based body, headlines in Communist Party newspaper Granma called it "a new victory for the Cuban people."

Havana's ambassador to international organizations in Geneva, Anayansi Rodriguez, agreed.

"Cuba's selection is nothing less than a recognition of its consistent stance of rejecting double standards and the persistent efforts by Western powers to use the Council for political ends, to manipulate the issue of human rights in service of its interests and to convert this body into an inquisitor tribunal for the nations of the (global) South who don't submit to their designs," Rodriguez told Granma.


The election of Cuba, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Algeria to the council elicited some protests from outside human rights groups who said their inclusion hurts the body's credibility.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, said in a statement that some countries, without naming names, had been picked "that commit significant violations of the rights the Council is designed to advance and protect."

And Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a staunch opponent of the Castro government, accused Cuba of being a "flagrant violator of human rights" for its treatment of political dissidents.

"It is obvious that hypocrisy rules the day in the U.N.," she said in a press release.

Cuba counters criticism of its record by saying its system upholds the will of the people. It advocates a conception of human rights that prioritizes guaranteeing things such as food, shelter, education, health care and culture.

"There are no unique systems for democracy," Rodriguez was quoted as saying. "Every (country) has the right to determine in a sovereign way which is the most appropriate system for the full realization of human rights."


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