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Repression in Cuba: Indifference is Unacceptable
February 4, 2014
By Gabriel C. Salvia

During the recent Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit, held in Havana on January 27th-29th, the Cuban regime obscenely violated this new regional organization’s “Special Declaration on the Defense of Democracy”. It demonstrated its dogmatic rejection of political openness by suppressing an attempt to peacefully practice the universal human rights to freedom of assembly and expression and reconfirmed its disinterest in democratically integrating itself into the Latin American community.

Effectively, the II Democratic Forum on International Relations and Human Rights, an alternative event to the CELAC summit, was previously planned to be held Tuesday, January 28th in Havana. It was organized by the Buenos Aires based Centro para la Apertura y el Desarrollo de América Latina (CADAL), along with local co-sponsors Arco Progresista, the Comité Ciudadano por la Integración Racial and Nuevo País.

In light of this peaceful initiative, which was to be held in a private residence and with a limited number of participants, the antidemocratic Cuban regime reacted by arbitrarily detaining the majority of local participants that had confirmed attendance and in other cases preventing them from leaving their homes. All of this took place while Chiefs of State from democratic countries which make up the CELAC were present on the island, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and José Miguel Insulza of the OAS!

In that regard, on Monday the 27th, Amnesty International, the same organization which denounced the human rights violations during the last military dictatorship in Argentina, issued a statement titled “Cuba intensifies repression in the hours leading up to CELAC summit,” emphasizing that “the Cuban authorities must end their campaign of repression against opponents and dissidents and allow peaceful activities to take place during the second Community of Latin American States (CELAC) summit.”

This convincing statement, signed by Javier Zúñiga, special advisor for Amenty International’s regional programs, warned that “the actions of the Cuban authorities is an insulting attack on the freedoms of expression and assembly and must not pass by unnoticed by the many leaders currently congregating in Havana.” For that reason, he added that “It is outrageous that those who do not agree with the Cuban government may not express themselves publicly and collectively. The chiefs of state from CELAC member states and senior-officials of regional and international organizations like UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, must not ignore the fact that while they are arriving to Havana to participate in the summit, Cuban activists are being repressed by their government.”

To top off its unpunished repressive work within the framework of the CELAC summit, the Cuban dictatorship initiated a criminal investigation against Manuel Cuesta Morúa, the spokesman for Arco Progresista in Cuba and the island’s main organizer of the alternative meeting, planned for Tuesday, the 28th.

After being detained arbitrarily for five days, Custa Morúa was accused of the Orwellian crime of “spreading false information against world peace.” Additionally, this implies that the progressive Cuban, whose party is an observer of Socialist International, will not be allowed to leave the country. Consequently, Cuesta Morúa, who has an appointment in the Argentine consulate in Havana on Thursday, February 6th at 9’ o clock in order to process his visa upon invitation by CADAL, will not be able to visit our country.

In the face of this grotesque episode and the responsibility of the majority of Latin American governments, the words of Manuel Cuesta Morúa in the fourth quarter of 2013’s edition of the Diálogo Latino Cubano are more relevant than ever: “Cuba is the sign that Latin America’s democracies are still weak… My theory is that the Latin American Governments have yet to understand the strong democratic concepts which understand the governed people as citizens of political legitimacy. While societies open and citizenship grows in its many forms, Latin American Governments, with the exception of just two or three, continue to close themselves off as corporate groups behind the traditional curtain of populism”.

Gabriel C Salvia is the president of CADAL. Last Monday, the 27th of January, he arrived to the airport in Havana and was declared “inadmissible” the Cuban dictatorship.

Translated by Alexander Doler.