Rosa Maria Paya of Cuba and for Cuba

11 04 2015

Statement from Rosa María Payá at the Summit of the Americas
Panama, 10 April 2015

Good day.

I would like to thank everyone for their willingness to dialog. We came willing to dialog. We wanted to listen to our Cuban brothers and sisters, who we know are in the same condition as ourselves.

I want to ask forgiveness from everyone in the name of the Cuban people for what just happened in the conference hall. Despite what you saw, we Cubans are a generous and caring people. Even those people who were there were also deprived of their rights. They also cannot decide. And probably did not decide to be there. These are the aberrations that occur when you live in a dictatorship.

My father, who was killed in an attack from the Cuban government just over two years ago, said that rights have no political color. Nor do dictatorships have a political color. And we are here today wanting to promote solutions to a problem that is no longer only Cuban, nor only Venezuelan. It is a regional problem, like that we just had here. Because we have all been affected by an intolerance that we do not share.

There are two points I would like to put forward.

The first is affecting us in several countries in the region: it is the issue of impunity. We see young people disappearing in Mexico. We see prosecutors who die the day before they present their evidence. We see children murdered on the streets of Caracas. My best friend and my father were murdered in an attack two and a half years ago, and we don’t even have an autopsy report. We know it is also an issue in Nicaragua and in Guatemala. I would like to settle our point in favor of stopping the impunity and calling attention to the political leadership of Latin America to stop this impunity and take impartial measures.

My second point perhaps could be understood as very particular, because it has to do with Cuba. But from Cuba there has been a marked interference (as there has been from other countries, such as the United States, but I am Cuban) and we have to stop the interference that in some places in Latin America, particularly in Venezuela, the Cuba government is engaging in right now.

My point is in favor of the right of Cubans to decide. Cubans have not decided in free and plural elections for more than 60 years. We are asking for support for the right of Cubans to decide in a plebiscite.

In two days time, a general will arrive here to converse with the presidents of Latin America: a person who has never been chosen by the people. We also want to hear him, but we want the people to be listened to. So we ask for your support for a plebiscite in Cuba and that Cubans be asked if they want free and plural elections, if they want the recognition of political parties, if they want access to the media. If they want this process in impartial conditions.

To support the right to decide of Cubans is also to support the right to decide, the right to development and democracy for the entire region.

Many thanks.

Rosa María Payá Acevedo

Video in Spanish

Advertisements




Castroism is Facism

9 04 2015

Castro supporters and Castro opponents fight in front of the Cuban embassy in Panama

8 April 2015





Cuba Decide

5 04 2015

Video in Spanish with Rosa Maria Paya

5 April 2015





Diplomacy, yes. Democracy, what for? / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

1 04 2015

The potential complications 
of the renewed diplomatic relations
between the U.S. and Cuba.
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

It was about time. Uber taxi drives agree. Academics agree. Minority leaders agree. American social activists agree. Radio, TV and press editors agree. Even comedians agree. It’s the only point of consensus in the polarized US politics. No need to argue anymore. The left was right and the right was wrong. Time to move forward. At least in this issue: Yes, We Can (a cloned slogan from the socialist Sí Se Puede in the posters and parades of La Habana). After 50-plus years of US diplomatic stalemate and economic sanctions against Cuba, with Fidel Castro almost a nonagenarian and his brother Raul to step down from presidency in 2018, the road to transitions on the Island, as in 1898, starts in Washington, DC.

A secret agenda had been held for 18 months, unbeknownst to the US Congress and the Cuban Parliament, but sanctified by the first Latin American pope. In a reenactment of the US-China ping-pong engagement, even the sperm of a Castro’s spy was gently exported from a US federal prison to beget a new life in Revolution Square. The long-sought family reunification as the libidinous metaphor of the national reconciliation about to come.

The climactic hallmark was on December 17th, as a fulfilled promise on the day of San Lázaro Babalú Ayé, with two simultaneous speeches running in parallel windows of millions of web-connected computers all around the world except in Cuba: in one, the democratically-elected American president Barack Obama; in the other, the dynastically-appointed Cuban general Raul Castro. The former wearing the civil elegance of his suit and a hi-tech reading device; the latter in military uniform, rescuing a picture from his violent years before the Revolution in the fabulous fifties, and reading from pile of paper. Quite a pluribus duo, without liberty but with diplomacy for all.

Calls immediately exhausted the batteries of my Chinese mobile. Everybody rushed for a quote about the end of the Castrozoic Cold War Era. Only The New York Times was involved enough as to bet on a series of op-eds published weeks in advance (by the way, for over a decade now they also have prêt-à-porter the obituary of Fidel Castro by Anthony De Palma). Some American Cubanologists, like Peter Kornbluh and David E. Guggenheim were conveniently located on the Island that noon. The popular reaction was overwhelming, they claimed. Tears should have come to my eyes, according to the emotional interrogation imposed to me until my smartphone was silenced.

A silence that lasts until today.

Barack Obama told the truth in his allocution: “The United States will reestablish an embassy in Havana, and high-ranking officials will visit Cuba.” Raul Castro lied with impassive impunity: “We have also agreed to renew diplomatic relations.” But this is still not the case.

It’s too early to pretend to demonstrate my skepticism. Or cynicism. As a good Castro subject I know that time on the Island means not money, but more system’s status quo. To keep begging for US bank credits, the Revolution first needs to buy time. This is what biopolitics is all about. A family fighting to secure a second Castro generation in complete control after Fidel’s and Raul’s eventual deaths. Necropolitics.

Obama’s hope was to reopen an embassy in Havana ahead of the Americas summit on April 10th, as he declared to Reuters on March 2nd. In fact, the US Interests Section in Havana has been for years the largest diplomatic mission in Cuba, and no special budget needs to be considered to reestablish the formal status lost in 1961.

Yet, Castro’s hope might be to push back the US engagement to an intolerable limit of stagnation. Havana insists now that the term “normalization” will remain an absurdity while the US keeps Cuba on the list of states that sponsor terrorism. A list currently under expedited revision, as to the State Department to please the Cuban demands. The Democratic White House cannot afford to welcome a Republican president without having its job done —with or without Gitmo, for or against Radio Martí, plus or less the billions requested by Cuba as a historical compensation for decades of US embargo.

As the good-spirited Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson flies to and from Havana, she’s been forced to smile for a selfie with Josefina Vidal and Gustavo Machín, her counterparts of the Cuban foreign ministry. Technically, her company is sign of prepotency in the time of appeasement, since in November 2002 Machín was expelled from the US in retaliation for the Ana Belen Montes case —a Castro top-level spy at the Pentagon— while in May 2003 Vidal voluntarily left the US, when her husband Jose Anselmo Lopez Perera —First Secretary of the Cuban consulate in DC— was also expelled for espionage.

After the mass media catharsis of the first round of talks last January, the third one ended in a hermetic “professional atmosphere” according to the Cuban official report, as abruptly as it was announced, and “with no breakthrough on sticking points in an atmosphere of rising tension over Venezuela”, as recognized with concern by the The New York Times.

The State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to explain why she announced “positive and constructive” progress in the discussions. She has now renounced to setting any “timeline or a deadline.” Again, totalitarianism is as much about tyranny as about manipulation of time.

The last speech of Raul Castro in Caracas in support of the regime of Nicolás Maduro came as an ice bucket water challenge: “The United States should understand once and for all that it is impossible to seduce or buy Cuba nor intimidate Venezuela” [APPLAUSE] and “we won’t concede one iota in the defense of our sovereignty and independence, nor tolerate any interference or conditioning in our internal affairs” [OVATION]. With their monologic belligerency in the Summit of the Americas in Panama, they will “expose the mercenaries who present themselves as Cuban civil society as well as their employers.”

I won’t travel to Panama this time, but I am worried of what could happen to my colleague and friends there, faces with the para-civil society that the regime is organizing as platoons of governmental NGOs, as we all know that on this Island to “expose the mercenaries” means routine repression by the political police: family harassment (Omni Zona Franca Community Poetry Festival), censorship (Hip Hop Rotilla Annual Festival), defamation (independent blogger Ernesto Morales), job dismissal (intellectual Boris Gonzalez Arenas), imprisonment for years with or without charges or trial (Sonia Garro), not paramilitary but paracivil beatings (Roberto de Jesus Guerra, director of Hablemos Press free-lance agency), temporary or permanent invalidation of travel documents (activist Antonio Rodiles and performer artist Tania Bruguera), repudiation mobs with or without throwing red paint (Mercedes La Guardia Hernandez) or tar (Digna Rodríguez Ibañez) on the dissidents, most of the time women —despite pro-Revolution feminists worldwide— and Afro Cubans —despite pro-Castro race activists worldwide, and selective extrajudicial killing (Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero from the Christian Liberation Movement in July 2012).

Besides, after the nth resurrection of Fidel Castro last month he left an untimely text for the record: against “the eccentric politics” and “brutal plans of US government” Cubans and Venezuelans are united and “ready to shed the last drop of their blood for their country”. It was not only the senile nightmare of a García-Márquez caudillo, because a Cuban government official note denounced the executive order to consider Venezuela a US national security threat as an “arbitrary, interventionist and aggressive” move from President Obama.

Maybe we’ll see in Cuba the masquerade of new investments and markets and local licenses for businesses and more access to the internet and even an electoral reform after the migratory reform, but each and every one understood as concessions, with no fundamental freedoms guaranteed as long as one and only one Communist Party keeps monopolizing all political life, with State Security from the Ministry of the Interior as the real source of governance of a model based on coercion more than in a responsible citizenry, able to self-organize to participate in life after Fidel.

Is the Cuban self-transition from dictatorship to dictatocracy under way with the US as a new geopolitical ally? Time will tell. It will not be the first example of authoritarian regimes mutating into Socialist State capitalism for the sake of regional stability. As the assassinated leader Oswaldo Payá stated many times, we Cubans have the right to have all of our rights recognized beyond any dispute or complicity among power elites. Why what has been good for Americans since the Eighteenth Century is not good for Cubans today? Is it too impolite to peacefully demand that the Cuban people be consulted in a free and safe referendum about the destiny of our nation?

Democracies seem guilty of their duty to foster democracy worldwide, but Castroism is more than proud to Castrify democratic countries and still play the victim. Anyway, even if this is a small step for democracy, it’s also a giant leap against decency, since Cuban sovereignty is sequestered by a government that cannot be held accountable by our own people. Maybe this is another victory for The End of History: from our War against Spain to the anti-Imperialist Revolution, the growing “Common Marketization” of international relations is what really counts at the end.

Certainly it is good news for America that the cry of “Yankees, come home” echoes for the first time in our continent. In fact, as we keep on leaving in migratory waves to the US —both legal and illegal— Cubans are making space for Americans to reforest the Island. Since the nuclear missile crisis of October 1962, these “human missiles” have been used as a pressuring position by Havana in its undiplomatic relations with Washington, DC, at least while the Cuban Adjustment Act, which privileges Cubans to apply for a permanent resident status after one year and a day in America, remains in place.

Unfortunately we Cubans got accustomed to voting with our feet in a sort of pedestrian’s plebiscite. Let’s see what the US embassy will imply in terms of profits and principles for the labyrinth of Cuban liberty.

31 March 2015





Recognizing Cuba – Frank Calzon and Marifeli Perez-Stable

1 04 2015

29 March 2015