Presidents Obama and Castro at a brief encounter at the funeral of Nelson Mandela.

HAVANA TIMES (dpa) — A group of Cuban dissidents said Thursday at the US Congress that they felt betrayed by the agreement reached in December by Washington and Havana to restore diplomatic relations and urged Congress not to lift the embargo on the island.

Three Cuban dissidents, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez”, Berta Soler Fernandez and Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo testified before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Human Rights on the third day of hearings on Capitol Hill devoted to analyzing the new White House policy towards the island and its consequences.

“These agreements, considered by an important part of the Cuban resistance as a betrayal of the libertarian aspirations of a people, are unacceptable, because the principles and freedom of a country are not owned by any government no matter how powerful or influential,” said Antunez during the hearing in the House.

However, not all dissidents are against the rapprochement. Human rights activist Miriam Leiva and Manuel Cuesta Morua, the spokesman for Arco Progresista, support the thaw between Havana and Washington, as made clear Tuesday in another hearing in the Senate.

Antunez reported that “there is an international effort, expressed by the Obama-Castro agreements to promote an alleged evolution within the Castro regime.” He warned that it is “an illusion manipulated by the dictatorship, quite simply to remain in power.”

“The Castro dictatorship is a system beyond reform, based on the rejection of democratic society and all that it represents. It is a tyranny that seeks not only to control the Cuban people, but also export this repression to other countries, such as Venezuela,” added Antunez, who during the hearing showed the congress members photos of political prisoners still held in Cuba.

Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, said that the demands of the opposition to the Castro dictatorship are very specific: “freedom for all political prisoners, recognition of civil society, removing all legal provisions that criminalize freedom of expression and association, and the right of the people of Cuba to choose their future through free and multiparty elections.”

Sara Marta Fonseca, of the Cuban opposition in exile also participated. She urged Congress not to lift the embargo.

“Why deal with a dictatorship without regard to the people and their existence? What about all those years of suffering, the beatings by the political police of the opposition and people demanding freedom and democracy? Are we to forget the political prisoners, the murdered and the disappeared? What is giving Raúl Castro in return? “asked Fonseca Quevedo.

This segment of the opposition believes that before Congress lifts the economic and commercial embargo on the island certain conditions should be met.

“Only after the release of all political prisoners, only when all political parties and independent trade unions are legalized, only when multi-party democratic elections are held, only when human rights are respected, only then, should the embargo be lifted,” said Sara Fonseca.

Meanwhile, Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen congratulated the dissidents for their “courageous witness” in the lower house.

Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American, opposes any concession to the Castro brothers. She called Berta Soler, Sara Fonseca and Antunez “champions of freedom for the island” and “the face of a future democratic Cuba.”

“It’s easy for the President (Obama) to change his policy sitting in his ivory towers, but these are the faces that suffer now under the Castro regime, revitalized by the policies and injections of money from President Obama,” said the congresswoman from Florida, where the majority of the Cuban exiles living in the United States reside.


30 thoughts on “Cuban Dissidents Shout Betrayal

  • Note: tho

    As far as the polls go: various experts on Cuba have embraced the IRI and Gallup polls that show that there is wide discontent in Cuba. Researchers from amongst others the Lexington Institute had no problems with it.

    Polling in Cuba is indeed an imperfect thing because of the repressive nature of the regime.

    As far as the so-called “referendum” on the constitution goes: it is widely reported that Cubans often “do as told” to avoid getting in to trouble. It has as such no value.

    “That referendum was approved by 98.97 percent of the voters, which as everyone knows was the result of pressure applied on citizens and most people’s unfamiliarity with the real reason for the amendment.”
    Cuba: Petitions and Apprehensions, Dariela Aquique, August 20, 2012,
    http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=76812

    The fact that the regime does not allow the constitutionally mandated
    Varela Project referendum shows – as do the total control of the
    “elections” – that the Cuban regime fears the free expression of the
    will of the people.

    Note that your source misrepresents the Varela Project when it says that:
    “(the much touted “Varela” petition), signed by only 11,000 people ”
    http://www.iammyownreporter.com/Survey1.htm

    It had in fact 25,000 signatures:
    Source: “In Cuba, Oswaldo Payá’s name lives on – Opinion – The Prague Post” – http://www.praguepost.com/opinion/16744-in-cuba-oswaldo-payas-name-lives-on.html

  • On the Cuban “elections”, I suggest you look at this:
    The UN’s assessment of the so called elections is correct:
    “the electoral process is so tightly controlled that the final phase, the voting itself, could be dispensed with without the final result being substantially affected”
    See: E/CN.4/1998/69
    UNITED NATIONS,
    30 January 1998
    COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
    Report on the situation of human rights in Cuba submitted by the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Carl-Johan Groth, in accordancewith Commission resolution 1997/6
    http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G98/103/75/PDF/G9810375.pdf?OpenElement

    I would also like to quote Circles here:

    “The candidates are only permitted to post resumes/synopses of their
    adult life. Voters are asked to cast their ballot for them because they
    were selected by nomination committees as the most qualified to support
    the central government’s policies and programs.

    National Assembly of People’s Power there are 612
    preselected candidates. For the different Provincial Assemblies of
    People Power there are a total of 1,269 candidates for 1,269 seats.

    Then the National Assembly members will elect a Council of State
    including the president of the country and several vice presidents.”

    “Voting itself is very easy. Registration is automatic for all
    citizens 16 or over and over 90 percent of the population routinely
    vote, which is voluntary, but many believe that those who don’t
    participate could face future reprisals.”

    “Seen as a strength by most of the Party leadership, this type of unity doesn’t wash with a growing segment of the Cuban population, especially its youth, who in turn are apathetic to the process – even if they vote so as to not attract attention.”

    Why Cuba’s Elections Draw Little Interest, Tuesday, January 29, 2013
    By Circles Robinson
    http://circlesonline.blogspot.de/

  • Now I know you are not for real. The point is they go back to Cuba because in reality they can speak their minds but the problem that they are having is that they cant even get the flies in Cuba to follow them. They have no support whatsoever among the Cuban people. The USA is trying to prop them up like they are some big important dissidents and you and know what the objective of the US government is and it has nothing to do with democracy.

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