JOINT DECLARATION BY THE COMMITTEE OF CUBAN
POLITICAL EX-PRISONERS AND CUBA FRIENDS AND CUBAN CANADIAN FOUNDATION
AGAINST THE LAWS THAT PERSECUTE AND CONDEMN FREEDOM IN CUBA.
This February 15th Fidel
Castro's communist regime passed the "Law for the Protection
of Cuban National Independence and Economy" which legalizes
repressive actions against independent journalists, human rights
activists and dissidents in Cuba. According to the stipulations
of this law, passed by a group of marionettes that the regime calls
National Assembly of People's Power, "direct collaboration
or through a third party, with radio stations, television channels,
newspapers, magazines or other mass media", will not be considered
a simple crime but a crime that may be punished with a sentence
of 20 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.00 pesos.
This January, six journalists
were imprisoned in less than 10 days; others are serving prison
sentences on charges of "disobedience", "false information"
and/or "enemy propaganda", and have been deemed prisoners
of conscience by Amnesty International. Many more may now be running
the same risk if the international community, particularly, the
world press, ignores this new affront of Castro's tyranny to the
community of civilized nations. Let us put aside half-measures;
we all know what communist dictatorships are capable of. It is necessary
for the Canadian government, in its position as Cuba's main socio-economic
ally, to be more objective in its analysis of what's occurring in
Cuba and take drastic measures. This is the right time for prestigious
mass media in this country and the whole world to show their solidarity,
at least on a professional level, with men and women who had been
so far, from inside Cuba, showing the world the other face of the
coin, the neither official nor propagandistic angle of news.
This has been and is the only crime committed by these dignified
individuals. Now they will go to prison due to that arbitrary law
that has just been passed in Cuba. The centre left Italian newspaper
La Republica had an editorial a few days ago, in which it referred
to Cuba by saying that "a country that does not respect freedom
of press has nothing to share with the consensus of democratic nations."
Also, concerning the harassment suffered by independent journalists,
the same editorial declared that "these provocations to good
sense do not scandalize an international community that has decided
to grant an undeserved credit to Fidel Castro." The Cuban magazine
CONTACTO in California just stated in a crushing editorial about
this law that "it is time that the international community
admits that it has been manipulated by a regime that is repressive
by nature and it is unfair that the Cuban people is, after 40 years,
still suffering the silence of those that should be rightfully on
their side, not on the side of repression."
In this joint declaration
by the Committee of Cuban Political Ex-prisoners and Cuba Friends
and Cuban Canadian Foundation express our repudiation against the
persecution and imprisonment of independent journalists in Cuba
and make an urgent call to the international community to protest
against this atrocity and other laws that repress the dignity of
the Cuban people in order to keep a totalitarian system in power,
a system that has failed, a system that wants to justify its existence
with the US blockade and that intends to keep ruining the country
with the real blockade in existence: the internal blockade to all
Given in the City of Metropolitan
Toronto, Canada, February 19th, 1999.