2006-09-01 / José Riberio e Castro
It is our problem too
Unlike us, Cubans are not yet citizens of the world. Rather, they are prisoners on their own island. This is not only a problem for Cubans on the island but must rather be seen as our problem too, a problem we must all help solve.
We owe our determination to the people that suffer and we owe it to our values and principles. We also owe it to our people, to our younger generations and to our cultural freedom. There is much work to do both top-down and bottom-up. Top down, we must increase the public’s awareness of the situation in Cuba and bottom-up, we must maintain pressure on political decision makers so that they do not ignore future attacks on human dignity.
A year ago, the European Council recognized in writing that changes in EU policy had not produced any positive change in Cuba and had even had negative effects. In addition, the European Commission recently acknowledged that the results in this matter were disappointing. These conclusions strongly reflect my own position on changes in EU policy.
The events of June 12, 2006 were yet another sad moment for European diplomacy. The results of the Council's meeting demonstrated the EU's ineffectiveness in the field of democracy and human rights. The Council's conclusions regarding Cuba are frustrating, disappointing and shameful to all freedom-loving Europeans. EU representatives at the highest level were incapable of recognizing the validity of the numerous appeals made by Cuban democrats, world leaders, members of the European Parliament and of National Parliaments, political parties and human rights NGOs. In contradiction to its own factual justification, June’s decision does not even respect the European Parliament's resolutions on the subject and demonstrates an appalling lack of commitment to the EU's basic values.
The expression "constructive engagement and a critical and comprehensive dialogue with Cuba" will continue to lack a practical meaning, unless we immediately resume the invitation of dissidents as our guests to events organized by the embassies of member states and the Commission's delegation in Havana. In this difficult context, we must grant Oswaldo Payá and Damas de Blanco the position of EU guests of honour in our open diplomatic headquarters. This may be a means to signify to the Cuban regime that the European people have not abandoned the winners of the 2002 and 2005 Sakharov Prize. These invitations cannot be regarded as sanctions but as a simple and indispensable expression of our own freedom. The Cuban authorities must accept that we are the ones that decide what to do in our own houses.
We must persevere in this line of action and provide access to the outside world for those who suffer. It is essential that there be an EU effort to grant access to the internet for Cubans that are prevented from having contact with the outside world and to support the creation and maintenance of independent libraries. Lisewise, the EU must implement regular visits to political prisoners and their families by European diplomats, human rights NGOs and humanitarian agencies, namely the Red Cross. Without these two conditions, the Council's words will be only words rather than actions.
Therefore, if the European Union wishes to be democratic, it must finally recognise the European Parliament's resolutions on Cuba and resume official and transparent meetings with the democratic opposition and civil society representatives abandoned in January 2005. European leaders should feel obliged to share in our indignation and adopt at least some of the sound and coherent recommendations for European Union mid-term strategy presented in this bulletin.
We must persist until we succeed. It is our duty to show Cuban democrats that they are not alone.
2013-04-22 / The Miami Herald
U.S.: Short-term detentions in Cuba reach record levels
Cuba saw a record number of “politically motivated and at times violent short-term detentions” during 2012, according to the U.S. State Department’s “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,” which was released Friday...more
2013-04-18 / The Washington Post
Cuba’s Ladies in White due in Brussels to receive 2005 Sakharov human rights award
Members of Cuba’s Ladies in White opposition group will finally pick up Europe’s top human rights prize from 2005 in person next week in Belgium, the European Union and the daughter of the group’s former leader said Wednesday...more
2013-04-16 / The Washington Post
Cuba avoids oil cutoff for now as Chavez ally narrowly wins Venezuela presidential election
Cubans were relieved Monday by the announcement that the late leader Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor had been elected Venezuela’s new president, apparently allowing their country to dodge a threatened cutoff of billions of dollars in subsidized oil...more