Letter from Cuban Pro-Democracy Leaders to the U.S. Congress

Friday, September 25, 2015
Letter from Cuban Pro-Democracy Leaders to the Congress of the United States

It is with profound concern that we implore the Congress of the United States of America to read this letter directed against the strong campaign being waged to unconditionally lift the economic sanctions that weigh upon the Cuban dictatorship.

This campaign seeks to unconditionally lift sanctions with no requirement or guarantee from the dictatorship that it first take a step in the direction of respecting human rights and the promotion of democracy.

We are aware that this campaign is also currently being conducted within the Congress of the United States of America.

We consider it of vital importance that members of Congress know that since last December the repression on our island has escalated. Since the Summit of the Americas held in April, the regime has deployed a renewed campaign of repression, marked by violence and brutality, with the objective of suffocating the opposition movement. This violence has been directed especially towards groups demanding the exercise of basic human rights and that a general amnesty law be decreed that would serve as the initial step toward a process of real changes, such has been the case with the national coalition known as the Forum for Rights and Freedoms, which carries out the #TodosMarchamos campaign for a General Amnesty.

The regime fully opposes these demands, refusing to implement any policy which would have a positive impact on the Cuban people, including economic liberalization. State controls, excessive taxation, corruption, political loyalty, are all factors that are expressly designed to impede the development of micro-enterprises. In contrast, the military elite control the most profitable businesses and establish mixed enterprises with foreign companies. The sole logic of the Castro family and their close allies is to maintain full control of Cuba.

Raul Castro has been emphatic in his speeches and actions: "We will not cede even a millimeter." The Foreign Minister of the dictatorship emphasized it clearly in Washington: "The changes already occurred in 1959."

The United States as a nation has declared time and again its total commitment to the defense of democracy and fundamental liberties. The president affirms that his present policy is guided by the values of the founding fathers and that reestablishing relations will help create a greater responsibility for the regime in the topic of the respect for human rights. However, the reality of the current situation contradicts this idea and paints a completely different picture. This unconditional rapprochement has only served to legitimize the longest lived and most destructive dictatorship in the history of the hemisphere, and has served to reinforce the violation of fundamental freedoms.

The lifting of the embargo, as proposed by the current administration, will permit the old ruling elite to transfer their power to their political heirs and families, giving little recourse to the Cuban people in confronting this despotic power. Totalitarian communism will mutate into a totalitarian state adopting minimal market reforms that will serve only to accentuate the existing social inequality in the midst of an increasingly uncertain future.

Within the Cuban Catholic Church some representatives have played a fundamental role in these political developments. Cardinal Jaime Ortega has been a key actor, who regrettably, has on multiple occasions denigrated the work of the democratic opposition and denied the existence of political prisoners on the island.

Pope Francis has demonstrated that he is in favor of this policy and has played a key role in this process. His recent visit has demonstrated that the regime will continue oppressing and perpetrating violent abuses with no respect for the dignity of human beings. Silence before these criminal acts is a detriment to the Cuban people. The dictatorship continues gaining time and entitlements.

Accepting the primacy of this false pragmatism before a real commitment with the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Cuban nation is a troubling position. We address ourselves with all due respect to the Congress of the United States, and implore you to support the cause of democracy in Cuba and not a mistaken policy that can cause a profound harm to our nation. If a coherent policy does not exist toward the regime, we Cubans will pay a greater price on our path toward the democratization of our nation.

Angel Moya
Former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience
Cuban Liberty and Democracy Movement

Raul Borges
Christian Democratic Unity Party

Hugo Damian Prieto
Civic Action Front

Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez"
Former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience
National Resistance Front

Jose Diaz Silva
Movement for a New Republic

Felix Navarro
Former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience
Democratic Party

Berta Soler
The Ladies in White

Antonio Rodiles
Estado de Sats

Egberto Escobedo
Political Prisoner Association of Cuba

Damaris Moya
Central Democratic Coalition

Guillermo Farinas Hernandez
Sakharov Prize recipient
United Anti-Totalitarian Front

Roberto Rodriguez Lobaina
Eastern Democracy Alliance

Angel Santiesteban Prats

Gorki Aguila Carrasco