Attn: Annual Human Rights Consultations. Ottawa, 2003
Roundtable about CUBA.
THE WRONG BEGINNING
When Fulgencio Batista resigned and fled Cuba, a provisional government
was established and Fidel Castro took over the power on January
1959. In the early weeks of his regime, military tribunals tried
many former Batista associates, and some 550 were executed.
Despite his popular support, the revolutionary
government proceeded with asevere program and suppressed all remaining
public opposition. Fidel Castro violated and later changed The Constitution.
He dissolved the political structures promising free elections the
following two years. But unlike Batista he never did it, and never
granted amnesty to political prisoners.
CCF Delegation to the Annual
Human Rights Consultation. (Ottawa 2003)
Castro’s Cuba has the oldest political prisoner
in the world, Mario Chanes de Armas. He spent 30 years in jail after
helping Castro to get power. Another name we can add, is the revolution
major Hubert Matos, with 20 years behind bars, for expressing his
disagreement about the communist system that Castro was implanting.
THE COMMUNIST COLLAPSE.
In the late 1980s CubanSoviet relations became distanced as the
Soviets moved toward more liberal policy positions. With the dissolution
of the Soviet Union in 1991, Cuba lost its primary source of aid,
and with the collapse of the whole Soviet bloc, Cuba largely lost
its main sources of hard currency and oil and its principal markets
for sugar. Castro apparently remained in firm control of the country.
Most of those who had initially opposed him had fled the island
(between Dec., 1965, and Apr., 1973, a Cuban government–controlled
airlift carried more than 250,000 people between Havana and Miami).
Some think that despite Cuba's economic problems, Castro enjoyed
some popularity for his social programs. However, Cuba's decision
to allow further emigration in 1980 resulted in an exodus of more
than 125,000 people from Mariel, Cuba, to Florida before it was
halted, indicating a significant level of popular discontent. The
economy was down. However, the repression was increasing and the
opposition against Castro’s regime was increasing too and it is
higher every day.
In February 1996, the Cuban air force shot down two civilian planes
operated by a group of Cuban exiles in Miami known as «Brothers
to the Rescue» and four people died. U.S-Cuba tensions increased.
With this abusive action Fidel Castro provoked the approval of the
Helms-Burton law, a harder embargo from the U.S., but foreign entrepreneurs
continued to invest in Cuba, using various subterfuges. Unlike what
some people think, Castro wants the US embargo so that he can justify
his own mistakes. By the way, the only embargo that our Cuban people
are suffering is Castro’s embargo against all freedoms. Please do
not forget this.
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS CONDEMN DICTATORSHIP CRIMES.
Amnesty International denounced the imprisonment of several people
linked to the Cuban Council. According to Amnesty, the Council included
140 groups of opponents, independent journalists, independent farmers,
professionals and union activists.
A recent example is Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. During his imprisonment,
his Bible was taken away several times and all his mail was intercepted,
read, and confiscated. Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, is a devout Christian,
follower of Ghandi and Martin Luther King, and presides the Lawton
Foundation for Human Rights, a humanitarian organization (considered
illegal by Cuban authorities) that promotes the defence of all human
rights, particularly the right to life, through nonviolent means.
Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet has repeatedly been subject to hostile
acts against his physical and mental integrity since March of 1998.
He got his release after spending his long condemn, but believe
it or not, he is in jail again after participating in a peaceful
demonstration and waiting for a new trial.
Amnesty International said some weeks ago:
“While welcoming the recent release of former political prisoner
Oscar Elias Biscet, whom the organization had adopted as a "prisoner
of conscience"- Amnesty International published today a new
report detailing several cases of people detained in connection
with their political activities.
Two of them: Leonardo Bruzón Avila and Carlos Alberto Domínguez
González , are also considered by Amnesty International to
be "prisoners of conscience," detained solely for the
nonviolent exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and
Furthermore, Castro agreed with estimates by Amnesty International
that 600 Cubans are in prison for reasons of conscience. One of
them was Sebastian Arcos Bergnes, a leader of the Cuban Committee
for Human Rights (CCPDH). His organization, according to the Castro
government, is guilty of cataloguing human rights offenses committed
by the Revolution and spreading this "enemy propaganda"
to such subversive groups as Amnesty International and Human Rights
Watch. Unfortunately he died in jail, a victim of rectal cancer.
He died and others like him are dying in the Cuban political prison
by not getting early medical care.
Ironically, among the policy goals of the Castro’s regime
are the provisions of adequate medical care and education. However,
the Inter- American Commission on Human Rights from Organization
of American States, declared in several reports the following abuses
of Castro´s regime against the Cuban people.
“Denunciations have been received over the years of cases
of students and teachers who have been expelled or who have lost
their jobs for not accepting the political or ideological requirements
approved by the State.
Thus, in April 1971, a Cultural and Educational Congress was held
in Havana, and its final declaration established that school personnel
at all levels would observe the political, ideological and moral
views established by the State. The Government issued Law Decree
No. 34 which establishes that students, teachers and workers may
be expelled from educational institutions for “defaming or
publicly ridiculing the institutions of the Republic and the political,
social and mass organizations of the country, as well as its heroes
and martyrs.” In other words, to express an opinion may eliminate
the possibility of access to education as well as to employment.
Likewise, for example, 411 students who passed the admission exam
for medical school with high scores were not allowed to continue
their education, because they had “bad political attitudes.”
Others have also been denied admission for being considered “morally
deficient,” which in Cuba has the connotation of homosexuality...
Nevertheless, educational discrimination for political and even
religious reasons is a continuing phenomenon and one which must
be emphatically condemned.
Castro says that that economic difficulties are not obstacle to
school attendance and education still free. But that’s not
true. Education in Cuba is paid by the Cuban people. It is not possible
considering that education is free when the worker does not receive
just payment for his work. Something only would be free when the
worker can take a right payment before receiving these so called
The same situation confronts the health care. Nothing is free in
Cuba. The average salary is equivalent to ten dollars a month. As
a result the Cuban people are suffering a double exploitation and
humilation, as a worker and as a person, because they are hurt in
their dignity all the time, because free expression and free national
elections are not possible there.
In every annual report of the Human Rights Commission of the United
Nations, Castro’s regime is condemned for many and reiterative
violations of Human Rights. We today can also condemn him by understanding
the reality in Cuba and supporting our struggle.
Many Cubans in Canada are suffering the arbitrary procedure of the
Cuban regime. A significant case might be, Dr. Lucila Nicot, 54,
Toronto, Ontario. Castro’s regime denied her entrance to Cuba
to attend her mother’s funeral. In addition, her daughter
Delia Sanz Nicot lost her Canadian visa, after going 14 times to
Emigration Office in Havana to get a permit to leave Cuba.
In fact, the government policy is to keep family, children and relatives
as hostages to pressure on the Cuban exile around the world. Right
now the most dramatic situation about children hostages is the case
of Dr. Juan Lopez Linares, Cuban Physicist, 31 years old, who actually
courses a post-doctorate study at Campinas` University, Sao Paulo,
Brazil. When he finished the PhD he decided to stay in Brazil and
continue to do other post graduate studies. He has a son in Cuba,
Joao Paulo Lopez Fiallo, 4 years old whom he has not known, because
the Cuban government does not allow him to go to Cuba or bring his
son with him. After four years he continues to fight for his rights.
Many NGOs around the world support Dr. Lopez Linares`s struggle
to get Castro’s permission to enter his country, at least,
to kiss his son. But that’s impossible, because nobody knows
that a dictator may have “good feelings”. A dictator
needs, over all, to punish those that do not follow him. Maritza
Sixto, a computer scientist, who defected in the United States in
2000, after a brief assignment at the Pan-American Health Organization
in Washington, in February 2002, after 16 months, she was able to
reunite with her daughter in her new American home. She was battling
with Fidel Castro`s government during almost two years to bring
her daughter with her. Only with an international scandal it was
possible to have her daughter. That is the real policy of the Cuban
government, no matter what Fidel Castro says. It is not possible
to believe the word of someone who tries to deceive all the time.
CANADA AND CUBA: THE DOUBLE MESSAGE
After four years with freezing relations, Canada decides to defrost
her relations with the Cuban Dictatorship, without finding any positive
sign or good will to change into democracy and without any result
on Human Rights improvement. The “Constructive Engagement
Policy” has never been working on the right direction in the
Cuban case. Why? In this small report you can find the answer. (look
for main report, 30 pages) Canada decides to defrost the relations
in the worst year of Human rights violations in Cuba. We must remember
the message to Mr. Chretien when he did a formal petition to release
the four dissidents, well known as “Group of four,”
from Cuba prisons, in 1998. Fidel Castro simply denied it. It has
been a very rude remark from the Dean of the Dictators in America.
When Fidel Castro decided, in 2002, to release the four dissidents,
after spending most of the sentence, was not for the sake Chretien`s
petition but by international pressure. Fidel Castro accused the
Chretien government to be “the most northern imperialism”
and has never shown any respect or consideration for the infamous
“Constructive Engagement Policy.”
Despite this rude remark Canada continues to develop a strong economic
relation and, in this moment, is the second investor in Cuba with
more of 1,500 million dollars. Almost 400,000 Canadians went to
Cuba in 2002 to enjoy all the island treasures that the Cuban people
As John Turley-Ewart wrote in The National Post on January 9, 2003:
“Under Castro's rules, foreign companies employing Cubans
must pay hard currency to Cuba, not directly to those they employ.
In turn, Castro's bureaucrats pay the workers at going Cuban rates,
but in Cuban currency, worth a tiny fraction of what Castro puts
in his tills. Cuban exiles and others are already counting the days
when they can take Canadian companies to court and sue them in class-action
cases as accomplices in Castro's scheme to rob to workers of their
The Cuban Canadian Foundation does not want that situation to happen.
Canada needs to bet on the democratic and free Cuba of the future.
But the only way to ensure economic investments is investing freedom
in free countries. We are Cuban-Canadian citizens, this is our homeland
too and we would like that Canada changes the fictional “Constructive
Engagement” and choose the Cuban people in the first place.
We do not only want a vote every year in the Human Rights Consultation
in Geneva. As Cuban-Canadian and thousands of Canadians that support
our struggle, we would like that Canada bets on the future of Cuba
and not on any dictatorial present.We want to advocate for John
Paul II’s words in 1986: “It is impossible to reform
communism from inside the system.” In fact, there are no reasons
to improve the relations with the past, because Fidel Castro is
the past. We call the Canadian government and some people of this
society to change their wrong vision about Cuba and think seriously
on the future. Forty four years of absolute power in Cuba are enough.
Enough is enough. The Cuban Canadian Foundation is defending the
view of the Cuban community in Canada. Most of 20, 000 Cubans living
in Canada want to help for a free and democratic Cuba. We need to
send a right message to the Canadian government and all NGOs participating
in this annual event of Human Rights Consultations. At the same
time, we are sending a right message to the Cuban people to support
their right to have Human Rights and a new and free society.
Cuban Canadian Foundation
January 28, 2003