Cuban Scientist Ariel Ruiz at the UN Human Rights Council

By Lynn Cruz

Ariel Ruiz Urquiola at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

HAVANA TIMES – Cuban scientist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola’s feat, after holding a hunger and thirst strike for five days, outside the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, teaches us just how far one person can go in the fight for their rights. 

I have been following Ruiz Urquiola’s struggle since the very beginning. I am 100% sure that his testimony is true. I can attest to this wherever he may be attacked or discredited. Not just as an act of solidarity, but because of the way things have played out. I remember when Omara, his sister, told me over the phone that he had passed out because of a drip.

During his time in jail as a prisoner of conscience, back in 2018, Ruiz Urquiola also held another hunger and thirst strike, to demand his release. He spent 16 days doing this, and was then transferred to the criminal ward at the Abel Santamaria Hospital, in the province of Pinar del Rio. At that time, the scientist proved that doctors were lying when they said that the drip he was being administered only had dextrose in it.

But I could have never imagined the lengths of the Cuban government’s cruelty. That said, I will give you the example of a video by visual artist Lazaro Saavedra, which features a pile of beans. A bean escapes the pile and is crushed with a hammer. This hammer represents power. This would be the analogy for Ruiz Urquiola’s intervention at the UN. He arrived like a free electron and created chaos in those offices. Politicians hate anarchy. He had everything going against him.

Then comes the part that those of us following him never saw: the decision that Ruiz Urquiola entered on the Council agenda topic of people trafficking, presented by the NGO Engineers of the World, based in Florida.

I would like to focus on this point now. The Cuban government has passed on its story from generation to generation, just like the Catholic Church has. Somewhere between the myth of David against Goliath, you can find the fact of discrediting emigres for 61 years.

Then you look for information that is available online in regard to the organizations and foundations that are financing political opponents on the island, and you realize that these funds mostly come from the White House. If you dig a little further, you discover the coupling of Donald Trump with Cuban-American senator Marco Rubio.

It doesn’t matter that the scientist is working in Germany and receiving a salary that has nothing to do with funds that come from the US government’s Department of State. 

Circumstances have changed Ruiz Urquiola’s discourse. He was demanding attention with regard to the crimes against humanity that was committed against him and his sister. Medical malpractice with Omara’s cancer, and Ruiz Urquila being injected with the HIV virus in an alleged dextrose drip. 

However, the scientist hasn’t studied and worked in politics. He has only been the victim of his libertarian nature. He treated and cured his sister with his own hands when oncologists had given up on her.

Ruiz Urquiola is also an environmental activist. Ecologists aren’t wanted anywhere, and the Cuban government has proven that it is no different. The people attacking Ariel at the UN were public officials who know these codes inside out and have analyzed his profile beforehand.

His speech was interrupted, he was barely given the chance to speak. He began by denouncing Cuba’s medical missions, because of the political agenda they form a part of. As he hasn’t been a medical missionary, nor has he ever suffered the injustice of this exploitation, his argument lost standing. His truth was distorted and the Cuban government’s minions that were sent to represent them, diverted attention away from his testimony.

In spite of this Florida organization’s best intentions, supporting the scientist’s solitude and helping to give a voice to his demand, only the Australian delegation sympathized with him. Engineers of the World… served the perfect platter of arguments for the Cuban government to come at him with everything they had, inflating their story. Because the Cuban government has handled the pandemic really well, using repression of course, and it has also supported many other countries, in spite of the price that Cuban doctors have to pay for this solidarity. 

Of course, Ruiz Urquiola was telling the truth about human trafficking. Cuban doctors receive 25% of their wages, while the government pockets the other 75%. This is why the argument that there isn’t any money for cancer treatments is unbearable, like in the case of Ariel’s sister Omara.  The government blames the embargo. Again, the vicious cycle because the Cuban government doesn’t even pay its suppliers, so how do you think it will clear its debts with old Cuban landowners?

Politics in this world of negotiations has nothing to do with justice, or truth. While the Cuban people continue to be defenseless, only a few people will complain, so the Cuban government will continue to win. Why? Because Cuba is a poor country, which only matters to decent Cubans.  There are a large number of fellow citizens who go about their own business, given the impossibility of changing this reality. This is how the government can vilify and crush any noble cause.


Lynn Cruz

It's not art that imitates life, its life that imitates art," said Oscar Wilde. And art always goes a step further. I am an actress and writer. For me, art, especially writing, is a way of exorcising demons. It is something intimate. However, I decided to write journalism because I realized that I did not exist. In Cuba, only the people authorized by the government have the right to express themselves publicly. Havana Times is an example of coexistence within a democracy and since I consider myself a democrat, my dream is to integrate this publication’s philosophy into the reality of my country.

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