Defenders of Some Human Rights

Armando Chaguaceda

In Old Havana. Photo: Caridad
In Old Havana. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — He is a Cuban lawyer and an indigenous peoples’ rights defender who works for a well-known Mexican human rights NGO. She is a Salvadoran activist devoted to defend her countrypeople under threat. Both have a clear history of commitment with just social causes and have paid a high personal price for it. He lives far away from his native country; she is in constant danger of being eliminated by the powerful of her country.

Both, however, share a deplorable quality: the inability to recognize any legitimacy in the demands put forward by those who do not share their vision of the world. And they are together in their lack of support of any denunciation coming from actors that they consider to be “from the right”. They understand human rights from a restrictive perspective, marked by the binary friend/enemy logic. Which leaves little space to the victims’ condition, which is key to the evaluation of the situation of these issues in any part of the world.

In trying to keep our old friendship alive, I have had more than one discussion with him. I have known her as a result of the criticisms that she voiced with an editor working for an international NGO who had interviewed us both to receive our views regarding the human rights situation in our respective countries.

Both he, a participant in new social movements and struggles, and she, a former guerrilla member, do not recognize that Cuba lacks the conditions allowing for the existence of NGOs such as those that give them shelter and aid. They claim that on the island “nobody gets killed”, when civil assassination and, on occasion, physical death – either in prison or as a result repression and illegal actions – are the debts of an unrestrained, unaccountable state. They talk about the regime’s social conquests when their deplorable state and the impossibility to supervise and defend them are readily apparent, precisely as a result of the authoritarian order that prevails on the island.

Repudiating ARENA’s genocidal leaders in El Salvador or the PRI’s corruption in Mexico does not equal turning a blind eye to the Castro regime.  Rejecting neoliberal policies does not entail turning our backs to the human rights violations committed by the so-called (inaccurately) progressive governments. The way democracy is defended is by fleeing false equivalences and mechanical solidarity. Freedoms are under threat wherever a single victim has her rights infringed upon.

Human rights (all of them) are the language and the subject matter of the new century’s progressive struggles. Only from there -and not from behind the bars of complicity and dogmas- is it worth defending our own ideologies.

He and she will keep promoting their agendas, and I will keep showing solidarity with them. Unfortunately, all that Cuban Human Rights defenders will receive from them will be incoherent diatribes and complicit silence.

Published originally in Spanish in La Razon.

32 thoughts on “Defenders of Some Human Rights

  • September 18, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Just to keep you up-to-date bjmack, currently there is a serious shortage of both fruit and vegetables in Cuba. Yet, there are those millions of acres reverting to bush and heavy rainfall which is just allowed to flow away.

  • September 16, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    The difficulty in seeking solutions bjmack is that the regime and the beliefs that it espouses are firmly entrenched. Those beliefs are contrary to the acceptance or encouragement of individual freedom of thought and action.
    Cuba and its people are under the power and control of political dinosaurs who genuinely believe that they have the right to exert their power and control over every aspect of the lives of the “mass” and are blind to their own obvious failures.
    The obvious solution is the extinction of the dinosaurs, that is easy to say, but how can it be implemented?
    We who discuss or chat about the evident lack of human rights and opportunity for Cubans who are caught in the dilemma of trying to survive and to daily “resolver” being unable to use their intellect and abilities to even partial effect, can recognise the multitude of faults of the communist system. But persuading the regime to change is impossible. The degree of self-delusion was ably demonstrated in the letter supposedly written by Fidel Castro on 28th March 2016 which repudiated the endeavours of Barack Obama. The final sentence read:
    “We are capable of producing the food and material wealth that we need with the work and intelligence of our people.”
    That is self evidently delusional. Cuba has now to import 80% of its food. The regime as part of its promoted beliefs is opposed to the concept of “material wealth”. As illustrated in article after article in the Havana Times, the regime denies its people opportunity to utilize their intelligence and only permits work that is to its own benefit.

  • September 16, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    Cuban’s from both side of the straits Carlyle are wonderful, brilliant and enlightened people. Our family now has a family, half of which, came from Cuba. Dad came as a child so it’s difficult for him to return but it will take time and God willing he will. I pray that the change that is needed to morph Cuba into the greatest of countries will happen in my lifetime and that includes all, not just some of its citizens. Criticism is easy but the hardest part of change is to present solutions. Circles, in my opinion, who started Havana Times has done a great service bringing together so many diverse opinions.

  • September 16, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Yes bjmack the discussion is a real eye-opener. But, that is why free speech is opposed by the Castro regime. Open expression of views leads to differences of opinions as illustrated here, but in Cuba only those opinions which agree with and support the imposition of communism are acceptable – with jail as an alternative. You will have noted that there is general agreement that serious crime levels in Cuba are very low, and yet Cuba has the fourth highest level of incarceration in the world – consequent to criticism of the regime being criminal.
    We who are free to openly express our views are privileged!

  • September 15, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    Excellent discussion, always feel enlightened reading various opinions especially from those who live in Cuba. It is a tad disappointing this cannot transpire in Cuba without looking both ways. Thanks Armando for generating an excellent debate.

  • September 13, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    “… And again, as I said, I’m sure there is much more to the story… there always is…”

    Nope. there’s nothing else to the story. And it has nothing nothing to do with yumas.

    Two Cuban punk musicians, in jail, right now, because they might think about committing some undefined crime sometime in the future.

    Wake up.

  • September 12, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Sorry Terry but we just have one small pooch, but given the opportunity she laps up Bucanero. Way back in history my then small boy showed our English Bull Terrier – with success, as you will know, they have a head like a coffin but she was quite smart. Your esposa must find the conditions for most dogs in Cuba distressing , I know that it is for me. I’ve actually written about twenty sketches about them, one for example entitled “Dogs on the roof” – but not published. No veterinarians in the family, but the local vet is a good friend with an encyclopedic knowledge of 20th century music from Nat King Cole, through Sinatra, the Beetles et al, but also opera – he also has a good voice – lovely to listen too under the night sky (especially with a glass in hand).
    No I am not a Cristal type – regarding the viewpoint of mujeres, my esposa describes it as “pee pee”. I have to say that I put Heineken into the same category – even at CUC 1.65.
    Now that we have agreed about cerveza qualities, I guess we can get back to disagreeing?

  • September 12, 2016 at 5:42 am

    Eden, When you’re finished with your juvenile over-the-top hysterics, maybe then you can also be a bit more respectful and intelligent. The only one who seems desperate here is you.

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