From Cuba: An Overwhelming Response Against Lifting Sanctions

Friday, May 30, 2014
By Cuban democracy leader and head of Estado de SATS, Antonio Rodiles, in Diario de Cuba:

Judge or Participant?

The debate set off by the letter from more than 40 personalities asking for the relaxation of restrictions towards the Havana regime has been copious. There has been an intense response from those who advocate, as a premise, that Cubans must first regain their fundamental rights and freedoms. They have been very explicit in declaring that it would be members of the regime who would have the most to gain from relaxing restrictions. Meanwhile, the silence of those who support this document on the Island has been noteworthy. I haven’t read a single article defending it.

Amid the controversy, I came across an interview today on the new site of Yoani Sanchez, who in the past has expressed support for the agenda of Carlos Saladrigas, one of the principle promoters of the anti-embargo missive. The interview refers to the debate and its headline caught my attention. I quote:

The proposal has unleashed passions and speculation, also fueled by the imminent arrival in Havana of representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Cuban society, however, seems to remain on the margins of the headlines, the hot articles, the replies — or support — like the so-called 'letter of the 40' already circulating on the networks and in emails. Thinking about this uninformed population submerged in the big problems of everyday life, I did this interview with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who received me in Washington a few weeks before the launch of 14ymedio.”

Cuban society has not remained on the margins. More and more one hears the opinions of citizens of “this uninformed population submerged in the big problems of everyday life,” who openly acknowledge that it is not the embargo that is responsible for so much hardship, but a dictatorship intent on continuing to prey on the country.

The writers, intellectuals, journalists, activists, political prisoners, readers and forum members, from outside and within the island, who have recently expressed their views on the subject through articles and comments in DiariodeCuba.com, Cubanet.org and other sites, also make up the Cuban nation. Those who offer their opinions from within, support projects and other independent media, and who constantly confront the repression of the dictator and his regime, also belong to Cuban society.

Amid this intense debate and without even taking part in it, to pretend to be to be the voice or the channel that can enlighten the Cuban people about what is happening is pretentious and disrespectful toward those who have engaged in this controversy.

The need for political honesty is fundamental. Fifty-five years of Castrismo has been too long a time for simulation. Now is the time for greater transparency and clarity. Hopefully, frankness will be an essential part of the political game, even if it hurts. Hopefully those in Cuba who have their agendas, and their companions, will lend something of interest to the just demand for rights of those who are totally defenseless, and don't resort to justifying themselves in relativism.

When the future of a nation is at stake, it is important to respect diverse opinions and visions. But it is also essential to pay special attention to those, well summarized in an phrase by the journalist Raul Rivero, who are “very close to the fire.”

The debate about the embargo occupies a primordial space in Cuba today. But it should contain as an essential element the demand for our basic rights. And there we have the United Nations Covenants as fundamental tools. Ratifying them and implementing them would give us a real scenario of change and then, perhaps, we could begin to catch a glimpse of another Cuba.