What Happens When Obama Downgrades Freedom and Human Rights

Friday, February 5, 2016
Excerpt by Rebeca Morla in The PanAm Post:

Freedom House Declares 2015 the Worst Year in a Decade

The year 2015 saw the largest decline in global freedom in the past decade — so asserts human-rights NGO Freedom House in their latest report, “Freedom in the World 2016: Anxious Dictators, Wavering Democracies.”

Each year, the US-based organization evaluates the state of freedom in 195 countries and 15 territories across the globe. By taking into account political rights and civil liberties, they categorize each jurisdiction as Free, Partly Free, or Not Free.

In this latest edition, 86 countries (44 percent) were rated as Free, 59 (30 percent) as Partly Free, and 50 (26 percent) as Not Free. That means 72 countries declined in freedom from the previous year, whereas only 43 improved.

The report further states that over the last decade, “105 countries have seen a net decline, and only 61 have experienced a net improvement.”

Corruption, Populism Mar the Americas

The United States remains at the top of the ranking for the Americas, given its high ratings for political rights and civil liberties. However, Freedom House reports that the country did register some issues in 2015, including “certain deficiencies in the electoral system, the influence of private money in election campaigns and the legislative process … the Obama administration’s failure to fulfill promises of enhanced government openness, and fresh evidence of instances of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.” As a result, the report includes the United States in the countries with a downward trend for 2015.

In addition, corruption scandals and violence throughout the region also characterized last year, especially in Brazil, with Dilma Rousseff’s involvement in Petrobras’ bribery scandal; Chile, with the corruption case around Michelle Bachelet’s son; and Mexico, whose government has not been able to combat organized crime.

Regarding Cuba, the report reads that despite the resumption of diplomatic relations with the United States, there has been no significant progress toward democratic reforms in the island.