Distribute and Act on to Save the Live of El Sexto / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

26 09 2015

Danilo Maldonado Machado, also known as “El Sexto” (The Sixth) is a graffiti artist in Cuba, imprisoned since December 25, 2014 for attempting to perform an artistic action in a public space.

Danilo has spent 9 months in the Valle Grande prison, charged with the crime of Contempt, and is waiting for a judicial process, where he faces a possible sentence of 1 to 3 years imprisonment.

For six years Danilo has suffered police harassment, successive arbitrary arrests, detentions for more than 72 hours, searches of his home and confiscation of his works and his working materials. He suffers from bronchial asthma and has been affected by pneumonia.

  • We remind the Cuban authorities that the right to freedom is indispensable for expression and artistic creation in virtue of Articles 19 and 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; protected by Article 15 of the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Cuba is a signatory and both of which are considered binding.
  • We insist that the authorities eliminate the restrictions on freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
  • We express our concern because Danilo Maldonado has been detained solely for exercising his artistic activity, and urge that he be released immediately and without conditions, because he is a prisoner of conscience; he has been confined for his peaceful activism in the rescue of fundamental freedoms in Cuba.
  • We insist that the Cuban authorities drop the case immediately.
  • We ask the Cuban authorities to stop harassing and intimidating all the rest of the citizens who peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful association.
  • We insist that the Cuban authorities promote and protect the right to freedom of artistic creation, and the right to participate in the cultural life, to access culture and respect for cultural diversity.

Additional Information

The graffiti artist and activist Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as “El Sexto” (The Sixth), was arrested on December 25, 2014, when he took two animals painted with the names of Fidel and Raul and was about to drop them off in Havana’s Central Park, usually crowded, for a street intervention. He is formally charged with “Contempt” [1] and is awaiting trial. He faces a sentence of 1 to 3 years in prison.

The right to participate in public demonstrations is not recognized in the Cuban Constitution nor is it legally developed. The Penal Code, protecting individual rights [2] includes the right to demonstrate and sanctions anyone who, in violation of the law, impedes the holding of a lawful meeting or demonstration, or a person from attending them. If the crime is committed by a public official, it is an abuse of office and the penalty is doubled.

However, the legal body [3] itself considers that a crime is committed against public order by anyone who participates in meetings or demonstrations held in violation of the dispositions that regulate the exercise of this right, dispositions that do not exist. Sanctions are tripled for the organizers.

There is no procedure to notify or solicit authorization to hold a protest, nor legal recourses to appeal the refusal. However, there are frequently marches along central avenues, called and organized by the government itself, with a marked political-ideological character. The restrictions imposed on this right by the state, are not provided in law.

The situation of human rights in Cuba has deteriorated sharply in recent months, with ever more repressive practices entrenched mainly against the Ladies in White dissident movement and the activists who support them, and the government’s contempt has become ever more flagrant toward the recommendations made by the States parties before the Universal Human Rights Council during the periodic review, in which the priorities are the ratification and implementation of the Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and their optional protocols.

In Cuba, “The educational and cultural policy is based on the Marxist ideology” and is tied to the “promotion of patriotic education and the communist training of new generations and the preparation of children, young people and adults for social life. The State, in order to raise the culture of the people, concerns itself with promotion and developing artistic education, the vocation for creation and the cultivation of art and the capacity to appreciate it.” [4]

In 1961 Fidel Castro marked a limit for the full enjoyment and realization of the cultural rights of Cubans. In his speech “Words to the Intellectuals” his iconic phrase, “Within the Revolution, everything, outside the Revolution, no rights,” paraphrased the dictator Mussolini.

Our Constitution says, “Artistic creativity is free as long as its content is not contrary to the Revolution,” contradicting itself as it continues: “The forms of expression in art are free.” [5]

We believe that the imprisonment of the artist is an excessive punitive measure in response to the peaceful expression of the politically critical art of Danilo Maldonado and it is an attempt to silence and censor even more the artistic scene within the country.

We believe that society has the right for its public spaces to be spaces for creativity, for artistic expression; because they are also collective spaces of knowledge and debate. The public space belongs to civil society and not to governments, corporations or religious institutions.

We believe that it is the duty of the State to protect artists as key actors in social change and to defend their right to dissent, instead of gagging them, persecuting them and imprisoning them, when they have a critical attitude toward the government, which is also part of their role as artists: to question the reality that surrounds them and to be an active part of its evolutionary transformation.

Other government practices that threaten the enjoyment and full exercise of cultural rights and artistic-creative freedom in Cuba are:

  • Institutional censorship with regard to almost all artistic manifestations.
  • The theft of artist identity (in the case of independent festivals) by the State.
  • The right of admission to cinemas, theaters, museums, galleries, theoretical lectures, denying entrance and participation in public spaces to people labeled as dissidents or Human Rights activists.
  • The use of aesthetic criteria as political conditions through official censors charged with justifying censorship.
  • Manipulation of artists and intellectuals committing them to position themselves with exclusively political measures like the execution of three young men who hijacked a boat (2003).
  • The social isolation of the artistic guild from smear campaigns and the intimidation of others.
  • The State monopoly on public spaces and institutions that give authorization to engage in public activities.
  • Discrimination and social cancellation of a person as reprisal for their critical attitude.
  • With all institutions controlled by the State, if there is forced expulsion there is no other institution than can take in the person.
  • Limitations on the freedom of movement: people are blocked from moving to alternative spaces when they suffer from police harassment. Refusal of permission to leave or enter the country, confiscation of passports, arbitrary detentions, etc.
  • Expulsion from schools, workplaces, institutions that protect artists, for political reasons.
  • The application of self-censorship to daily behavior. (People naturally assume it: censorship is ordinary.)
  • Physical violence in arbitrary arrests, home detentions, threats, home searches, confiscation of works and the means of work, police interrogations, prison, aggression against the family.
  • Lack of official response to legal demands and citizen complaints that permit the exhaustion of domestic legal recourses.
  • The right the authorities take for themselves to impose a single interpretation on an artistic work.
  • The lack of legal recourses that permit the public recognition of initiatives independent of or alternative to the Ministry of Culture.
  • Participation in political activities and military training is compulsory in the Cuban educational system.
  • Ideological conditioning in arts education. Forced expulsions.
  • The impact of the Ministry of the Interior in the development and implementation of cultural policies and in the behavior of arts institutions.
  • The use of artist and intellectuals in the spaces of political repression.
  • The promotion and support of the professional careers of artists and intellectuals is conditioned by their demonstrated compliance with official policy (policies related to publication, movie production, exhibition spaces).
  • Independent NGOs are not entitled to receive funding under the “New Law of Cultural Investment,” requiring all financing to pass through the Ministry of Culture.
  • Demonization of financing secured by artists officially discriminated against.
  • Use of art as popular recreation and not as a method of critical questioning and a space for promoting freedom.

Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz
President of the Republic of Cuba Havana,
Cuba E-mail .: f_castro@cuba.gov.cu
cuba@un.int (c / o Mission of Cuba to the UN)
Fax: +53 33 085 July 83 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Salutation: Your Excellency

General Abelardo Colome Ibarra
Minister of the Interior and Prisons
Ministry of Interior, Plaza de la Revolution, Havana, Cuba
Fax: +537 85 56 621 (pressed “send” when you hear the voice in Spanish)
Email .: correominint@mn.mn.co.cu
Salutation: Your Excellency

Dr. Dario Delgado Cura
Attorney General of the Republic
Attorney General’s Office, Amistad 552, e/ Monte and Estrella,
Centro Habana,
Havana, Cuba
Fax: + 537 669485 / + 537 333164
Salutation: Dear Attorney General

Maria Esther Reus González
Minister of Justice
Salutation: Ms. Minister of Justice

Hon. Mr. Alejandro Gonzalez GALEANO
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Paseo. de la Habana, 194, 28036 – MADRID
Phone: 91 359 25 00 Fax: 91 359 61 45
E-mail: secreembajada@ecubamad.com

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cuba to the United Nations Office at Geneva
100 chemin de Valérie, Chambésy 1292
Fax: +41 22 758 9431
Email: embacubaginebra@missioncuba.ch

Diplomatic Mission of the Republic of Cuba in Brussels
77 rue Roberts Jones
1180 Uccle, Belgium
Fax: + 32 2 344 9661
Email: mision@embacuba.be

[1] Article 144.1 and 144.2 of the Criminal Code, Section Three:

  1. Anyone who threatens, slanders, defames, insults or in any way outrages or offends, orally or in writing, the dignity or decorum of a public authority, public official, or their agents or auxiliaries, in the exercise of their functions or on the occasion or by reason of them, shall be punished by imprisonment of three months to one year or a fine of one hundred to three hundred shares, or both.
  2. If the action described in the preceding paragraph is committed against the President of the State Council, the President of the National Assembly of People’s Power, members of the State Council or the Council of Ministers or the Deputies of the National Assembly of People’s Power, the penalty is imprisonment of one to three years.

[2] Article 292 Penal Code

[3] Article 209 Penal Code

[4] Constitution of the Republic of Cuba. Chapter V. Education and Culture, Article 39

[5] Constitution of the Republic of Cuba. Chapter V. Education and Culture, Article 39





Let Us Save the Life of El Sexto Now! / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

25 09 2015

sextotattoosOrlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 25 September 2015 — Please, let’s call at all times to Valle Grande Prison, and claim respectfully but firmly for the life of Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado Machado (the street artist El Sexto). He has been jailed since December 2014 in Cuba, without trial, and now he is on a hunger strike and he’s being tortured in solitary confinement, with cramps, shivering and headaches.

+ 537-2020406

+ 537-2020407

+ 537-2020417

+ 537-2020418

+ 537-2020609

+ 537-2020748

+ 537-2020797

Valle Grande Penitentiary, Arroyo Arenas, CP 11200, Havana, Cuba.

1. P-4K / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

25 09 2015

Chess champion Bobby Fischer’s grave in Iceland

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
25 September 2015

I came to Reykjavik because I was told that my father was still alive. It’s true; I saw him. Here he lives. Him, and the rest of my wasted words.

Sounds with no meaning that breathe again around me. In the lonely violence of the landscapes. In the vertigo of each night, as I look out at the abyss of this planet from the balcony. In the smoke of a bay that is all the bays and is none, and is exclusively that that evaporates in the putrid and puta mouth of Havana.

To smell his beard. To seek refuge under his shirt while he rocked me in the oldest armchair in town; wooden melodies. To recall the scary stories he told me before dawn to soothe my asthma and my fear of dying; stories full of mystery or perhaps myths about an invented island he called Íslandi. Ice, andi, spirit, ís. Tender and strange lands pronounced in the same way he pronounced my name: Landi

A nowhere where God wasn’t shy as in the tropics, so He talked each and every day in a fire language about His long-lasting love for the Son of Man. Which for us meant His long-lasting love for a man in Cuba and his Cuban son. Which in turn meant that death wouldn’t be true, although it already was. At least not mine; at least not my father’s. As a child I longed for not ever to die and for dad not ever to leave me behind. Papi, pipo, pabbi, papá.

I came to Reykjavik because we left unsolved a painful puzzle of chess. Anguish and August; summer in Cuba is the cruelest month. Though my father was generous enough as to play the role of a cold Russian villain, Boris. While he allowed me to play the role of a hot American hero, Bobby. The seventies in socialism were meant to last forever. We two were much of Spassky losing to Fischer. Unlikely lives, biographies devoid of dates. Words never to be lost that we couldn’t find ever after. Miracles of the magic hat of the Moomin family. Marvels out of the thousand and one dear dictionaries that were of so little help: fortíðarþrá, skak, fjarlægð, eyjan.

I came to Reykjavik because the force of ungravity leaves no choice. Memory is like a broken magnet with northalgia corroding the hope of any orientation. Here the death of my father regains the lucid lightness of its unreality. Here the death of his son is to be less orphan and more unique. Here our hands hold again our heads leaning over the boreal board. Here I clean once more the short-sighted snowflakes from his glasses of a Grandmaster with no title at all. Only to challenge him more, to defend myself more from him, with no farewell and no despair: Pawn-King 4.

Dad, papi, pipo, pabbi, papá, it’s your turn.

Translated by the author himself

Cubans as Carrion from the Hunt / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

22 09 2015
As long as Cuban laws remain unchanged, the Castro brothers will continue to use political prisoners as foreign-policy leverage. (Mdzol)

As long as Cuban laws remain unchanged, the Castro brothers will continue to use political prisoners as foreign-policy leverage. (Mdzol)

From September 19 to 22, the Catholic Pope will visit Cuba for the third time, and as is customary, the Castro regime has had a sudden merciful change of heart.

This time, Cuban jails have released 3,522 prisoners. That’s 500 prisoners more than in March 2012, when Benedict XVI came to the island, and 3,000 more than those released thanks to John Paul II’s visit in January 1998. In each case, the whole world celebrated the gesture as if it were a human-rights victory.

Similarly, General Raúl Castro freed 53 political prisoners as a “gift” to Barack Obama for his announcement to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba on December 17, 2014. Some of them, like Afro-Cuban activist Sonia Garro and her husband Ramón Alejandro Muñoz, had been behind bars for nearly three years, without a trial.

In other words, the state kidnapped them during a perverse and hypocritical wave of repression, while, ironically, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated mass on the island. But never mind that. Everyone applauded Castros’s “gesture of good will” in light of the diplomatic transition and the opening of Cuba’s Marxist markets for Uncle Sam.

Over the past two decades, Cuban prisons have held between 50,000 and 60,000 inmates, producing an alarmingly high ratio of 500 prisoners for every 100,000 residents. However, that disheartening figure is the least of it.

The worst part is that the repressive and backward Cuban laws remain untouched and unquestioned. The death penalty, crimes of contempt against the commander in chief, censorship laws that criminalize dissent as “the enemy’s propaganda,” and punishments for “pre-crime” reminiscent of Italian fascism are all still on the books.

Meanwhile, the state’s paramilitary groups ensure — with complete disregard for the penal code — that the threat of imprisonment reaches every Cuban citizen: beggars, ministers, former agents, and exiles alike.

This means that if there were no political prisoners in Cuba, the regime would have to invent them. Otherwise, the dictatorship would have no leverage to negotiate with the European Union, the United States, and, of course, God’s representative on Earth.

This brutal, tyrannical regime has been in power for so long, happily executing thousands and forcing nearly one-fifth of its population to leave, that it now must somehow manufacture political prisoners. That’s why the regime puts on a show whenever it cracks down on a peaceful demonstration in Cuban streets.

These periodic protests and arrests pose no threat to the Castro brothers’ reign. Instead, officials turn it all into a convenient tool to manipulate the international agenda, depending on whether they want to look like the good cop or the bad cop.

As long as there is no separation of powers in Cuba, the slightest tolerance for freedom of expression or association, or a civil society independent of the corporate-military elite; as long as the Constitution does not allow for questioning why socialism should be the eternal “irrevocable” model of the country, then, it really doesn’t make a difference whether five or 50,000 prisoners are released.

We are not dealing with some sort of amnesty brought on by social pressures. It more resembles a kind of royal pardon that takes us all by surprise: a gesture as oppressive as the thumbs-up or thumbs-down of a Roman emperor in a bloody coliseum.

Berta Soler, the leader of the Ladies in White, astutely summed it up when she said: “the Cuban government is clever; it won’t be the first time … that they will spend months imprisoning people for petty crimes, only to inflate the figures of those released.”

I could not be happier for my fellow countrymen who are now out of jail. However, it makes me sad that millions of Cubans don’t yet understand that not a single one of us has been truly freed, and that the world continues to applaud the bounds of our curtailed liberty.

Originally appeared in PanAm Post translated by Vanessa Arit

The Campaign to Have a Plebiscite for Freedom in Cuba Begins

23 08 2015

Maurice Ferré: The solution for Cuba and Puerto Rico: plebiscites.

From El Nuevo Herald, August 15, 2015

Although both were the booty of war, the results for Cuba and Puerto Rico were different in the Treaty of Paris (1898) at the end of the Spanish-American War.

The Republic of Cuba was established in 1903. As a republic, Cuba prospered for 37 years. With the Constitution of 1940, eliminating the despicable Platt Amendment, Cuba advanced. But by 1959 Cuba was already a corrupt country. After 55 years of Castro-communism, Cuba went from being one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America to place itself, currently, among the poorest.

Puerto Rico did better. Washington cultivated Puerto Rico as a military base, guarding the Panama Canal. In 1917, the U.S. Congress unilaterally gave U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans. In 1922 the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, William Howard Taft (before being President of the U.S.), presented the majority opinion in the last Insular Case (about the relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico), Balzac v. Porto Rico, concluding that although Puerto Ricans were U.S. citizens, they didn’t have all the guarantees of the U.S. Constitution. Puerto Rico would continue “belonging to the United States but not being part of the United States.”* This infamy of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1922 is still alive in 2015.

In 1952, the North American Congress conceded autonomy to Puerto Rico in local matters, creating the Associated Free State (AFS). In 62 years of self-governing with bad judgments by its governors and responsible financial counselors and with lucrative contracts for friends of the government in attendance, Puerto Rico had an external debt of $73 billion, more than the annual GDP of the island. On August 1, the island, for the first time, failed to comply with a Wall Street bank debt. As a result of the precarious financial situation, Wall Street Hedge Funds and vulture investors bought up Puerto Rico’s junk bonds. Puerto Rico fell into the hands of the “savage capitalists” that Pope Francis has criticized so much.

The President of the United States, Barack Obama, who insists on the opening with Cuba, ignores Puerto Rico’s fatal condition. The North American Congress, presently in the hands of the Republicans, insists that the Cuban political system be modified to one that establishes the consent of the governed, but ignores that in an internal plebiscite in 2012, Puerto Rico, with 78 per cent participation, voted 54 percent to not consent to the system of government presently alive on the island, the AFS.

Among Cuba’s dissidents, Rosa María Payá, daughter of the fallen martyr, Oswaldo Payá-Sardiñas, has created a new opposition entity called “Cuba Decides,” which has numerous followers on the island. Payá, with her group, attended an important meeting of Cuban dissidence in San Juan: First National Cuban Meeting, which met on August 11, 12 and 13.

Cuba Decides presented, in Puerto Rico, a continuation of Oswaldo Payá’s patriotic vision: a plebiscite for Cuba. The questions, although not finalized, ironically are similar to the active questions in Puerto Rico: consent of the governed and the preferred form of government on the island.

Cuba is a sovereign nation where its citizens, internally, don’t have individual liberties.

For its part, Puerto Rico doesn’t enjoy sovereignty, since it’s an unincorporated territory of the United States, whose citizens are governed under the plenary powers of the U.S. Congress under its territorial clause. But Puerto Ricans who reside on the island do enjoy individual liberty.

In order to resolve these incongruencies with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the U.S. Constitution, in the case of Puerto Rico separate plebiscites should be performed. Both plebiscites should entail compliance with conditions, previously agreed upon by the respective governments.

In the case of Puerto Rico, President Obama has recommended and the U.S. Congress has accepted an appropriation of $2.5 million to “educate” voters on the alternative conditions of the plebiscite. Because of the results of the 2012 island plebiscite, in which 61 percent chose federated statehood as a political status, the question of the new plebiscite would simply be: Statehood, yes or no?

The questions for the Cuban process are very complex because they require acceptance by the Government of a future plebiscite in Cuba, without the presence of the Castros.

Cuban exiles and dissidents on the island, some of whom reunited this week in San Juan, should carefully study Rosa María Payá’s presentation and persistently demand of the Cuban Government a plebiscite that determines the consent of the Cuban people. Then Cuban citizens will decide if they want a socialist government or a democratic, pluralist republic and a free market.

Declaration of San Juan

The text of the declaration can be found in English here, along with the list of signatories.

*Puerto Rico was not incorporated into the Union.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Everyone Bears Your Name, Fidel / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

12 07 2015

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 10 April 2015

We Cubans are going to miss Fidel a lot.

Fidel was a spontaneous, almost infantile, assassin with an irresistible charisma that eroticized even his bodyguards. Meanwhile, he could kill just out of a curiosity to see his victims’ last expression of panic or rage. Like someone who naively opens up a lizard from Birán* or the virginal vagina of an adulterous woman from Havana.

With Fidel deceased–in one of those fecal spectacles of running around between stretchers and Mercedes Benzes–today, we as a people have ended up alone with a one-eyed psychopath* and the pathetic pedophile, Eusebio Leal.

Fidel was always covered in mud. He got in and out of military jeeps and helicopters whose blades decapitated the rest of the leaders of the Revolution. He cut sugar cane with gusto. He drank water from wooden cups containing the saliva of peasants. He shot three-point baskets. And thirteen-point baskets. He expelled priests and sent gays to concentration camps. Or both.

He caught marlins like Hemingway and he was an ace at cross-breeding cattle. He smoked and smoked and dodged cancer cells. He planted everything and had a talent for reaping nothing; that cycle of sterile stubbornness toward the Cuban people was a symptom of closeness. Fidel was a loser that never lost, a Cuban from the ’hood.

Fidel was me. A guy that diverted hurricanes and brought AIDS to Cuba from the African bush, in the white blood cells of his little hetero, ebony-colored soldiers. He cloned interferon and solidified the amorphous formula of Spirulina. He deported half the country and put it to work for him in malls from Miami to Melbourne. And that’s not counting that he sent the first black man into orbit. Fidel, my friends, was fearless.

Now in 2015, Cuba is on its way to democracy. The government in Havana is saturated in rich white people who have made pacts with the rich whites of the Cuban-American ex-exile community. The commanders of the Revolution are being cremated on a regular basis and the holocaust archives have not only disappeared, they’ve been quickly rewritten. The future belongs entirely to that past that never made its debut.

The only thing we can hope for from the grim, one-eyed Alejandro Castro Espín** and his Zionist zetas is massacre, but those thousands of dead matter less than Eusebio Leal’s robes. The grand nineteenth-century gentleman, the despicable thief who made off with the property of Dulce María Loynaz, Lage’s pal and other so-called reformers who ended up in pajamas*** and powerless even to give interviews, the historian who was punished for being corrupt and for making an embassy joke about taking Old Havana to the “Granma Yacht mausoleum,” in short, the parish priest who shoves his pedigreed dollars up the asses of Lolitas… he judges the Cuban people in public–a people whose mass stampede abroad has been our only revenge against the tyrant–barely equal to a speck of dirt on his Lord Spengler rain coat.

As a result, the neo-marketization between Brickell’s*** totalitarian tycoons and the corporate mafia bosses of Siboney****, must imply recycling the best minds of my generation in the laundry room of a high security prison. Nothing that happens in Cuba is believable. The first democrats to reach democracy on the Island will simply be the fast food items that Fidelism currently teaches at its world summits.

As a Cuban, I miss Fidel a lot. I miss his cadavers, who are my last contemporaries. The maximum leader of the Third World calls us “lumpen,” “scum,” “worms.” Yet he never stopped covering himself in our excrement, the excrement of a prostituted nation during half a millenium of despotism without government and without God.

It also makes me sad that, in his death, Fidel is going to really miss us, his Cubans.

Translator’s notes:
*Birán is the place in eastern Cuba where the Castro brothers were born and raised.
**Refers to Raúl Castro’s son, Alejandro Castro Espín, who lost an eye during military training in Algeria and is currently a colonel in Cuba’s interior ministry.
*** In Cuba when someone in power is ousted (but not imprisoned) their “retirement” is colloquially referred to as “the pajama plan.”
****Brickell is a street in Miami where the superrich live, and Siboney is a neighborhood in Havana where the elites live and ordinary Cubans are not allowed.

Translated by: Kathy Fox

MCl Leader for the Freedom of a Cuba without Castros / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

4 07 2015

Interview with Rosa Maria Paya

Leader of the Christian Liberation Movement and Cuba Decides

From El Pais

 “The United States is negotiating with the Cuban caste.”

Cuban regime opponent, daughter of Oswaldo Para, speaks of the shortcomings of the thaw.

Alba Casas

Madrid, 3 July 2015, 23:03 CEST

To Rosa Maria Paya (b. January 1989, Havana), daughter of the late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya and a member of the Christian Liberation Movement — founded by her father — is not afraid to say the thaw will not end “the embargo on freedoms” that the Cuban Executive imposes on its inhabitants. “The United States is talking with the Government and those surrounding it. But civil society is left outside. It is a privilege reserved for the Cuban caste. For the rest, it is a situation of exclusion,” she says.

Although she looks favorably on the advance in relations between both countries — in her own words: “And attempt to include Cuba as part of the international community is good, provided the inclusion is of all of Cuba, not just the government.” Paya believes that the reestablishment of the talks offers a “halo of legitimacy to a Government that every day violates the rights of its citizens.”

And she defends, over and over again, the need for this process to come with a change for society. “The confrontation with the United States is the excise the government has used to justify some of its repressive measures. Now the excuse has fallen but the situation continues the same, which shows that it was not the United States that was oppressing Cubans, but rather the government itself.”

Among the North American giant’s motives, according to Paya, should be to defend “the opening of Cuba to Cubans themselves,” to offer legal security to entrepreneurs who want to embark on new commercial activities on the island.

“Totalitarianism is a tacit threat to them, like negotiating with the mafia. I don’t expect an altruism from foreign investors, but to negotiate without the guarantees of democracy is to accept the rules of the Cuban government,” says this young woman of 26, with some political ideas of her own who spend this same time leading rallies in front of the cameras.

In drawing a parallel between this “game that follows the rules of the Cuban government,” with the current situation of the thaw in which the United States, despite its initial demand to ensure the rights of Cubans, has finalized the embargo and removed Cuba from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, without a real advance in freedoms for society.

Paya says, “It is terrible when talking becomes more important than the objectives of the talks. When this happens, the impunity is total and the government feels free to assassinate a Sakharov Prize winner and nothing happens.” She is referring to her father, Oswaldo Paya, who died in 2012 in strange circumstances in a traffic accident. “To call it an accident is to use the government’s words,” she says.

Paya’s criticism against the executives who prefer “to ignore the violations of human rights” is not directed solely at the North American giant. The young woman even links to “the 15 years of recession experienced by the democracies in the region,” with the Cuban dictatorship.

“I’m not saying it’s the only reason, but it is a common denominator. And you can observe the complicit silence of the senior Latin American politicians with all the crimes of the region, not only those of Cuba,” she says.

The instrument that the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement proposed to achieve that advance in rights and initiate a process of the democratic transition is to hold a plebiscite to ask the citizens of the island if they want to participate in free elections, in which any citizen can stand as a candidate of the opposition, with full media coverage and, above all, “with guarantees for the voters that there will be no consequences from the powers-that-be.”

Looking at this utopian scenario cannot, however, ensure that Cubans taking to the polls is going to translate into the end of the Castro mandate. “I believe that if Cubans could vote, they would vote for freedom. But if they do not do it, all we can do is to give them the tool. Cubans will be free when they want to be so.”


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