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.

Armando Chaguaceda

Armando Chaguaceda: My curriculum vitae presents me as a historian and political scientist. I'm from an unclassifiable generation who collected the achievements, frustrations and promises of the Cuban Revolution and now resists on the island or contributes through numerous websites, trying to remain human without dying in the attempt.

32 thoughts on “Defenders of Some Human Rights

  • 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.

  • 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.

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