Cuban Dissidents Shout Betrayal

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,

    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 ”

    It had in fact 25,000 signatures:
    Source: “In Cuba, Oswaldo Payá’s name lives on – Opinion – The Prague Post” –

  • 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
    30 January 1998
    Report on the situation of human rights in Cuba submitted by the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Carl-Johan Groth, in accordancewith Commission resolution 1997/6

    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

  • 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.

  • They go back to visit family and friends. They can hate the Castros yet hold their noses long enough to see Grandma.

  • Listen to yourself, these mercernaries are in the United States promoting the overthrow of the Cuban Revolution but yet they will go back to CUba. It cant be so bad then!

  • what polls. lol

  • Polls have shown that the majority of Cubans have lost faith in the Castro dictatorship. There is therefore a lot of sympathy for the points of view of the Cuban dissidents. They say out loud what most people in Cuba only dare to whisper. It is the repression that holds the Cuban people back, not its desire for change.

  • As I said before: DC is blatantly misrepresenting the views of Oswaldo Paya, killed by the dictatorship he admires, in support of the same dictatorship Paya wanted an “immediate and unconditional” end to.
    It is comforting to see that Paya’s daughter continues her father’s struggle.
    May his dreams one day be reality and may his name no longer be abused for abject propaganda for the Castro dictatorship by immoral people.

  • You wrote:

    “The United States of America, as a first urgent step, should lift the Embargo on Cuba, with respect to medicines and food, without conditions, and initiate a process to quickly eliminate the Embargo and the laws known as ‘Torricelli’ and ‘Helms Burton.'” (1999)

    That confirms in fact that:
    – the only thing Paya wanted to end “immediately and without conditions” was the sanctions disallowing the sale of food and medicines. Since 2000-2002 Cuba can buy what it wants. The US acceded at what Paya asked.
    – Paya saw the end of the remainder of the sanctions as the result of a “process”. That meats not unconditional and certainly not immediate.

    You are caught again falsifying the record.

  • Your longtime lies exposed by the daughter of Oswaldo Paya:

    “If you are extending a hand to Cuba you must demand that the hands of Cubans are no longer tied”.

    The daughter of Oswaldo Paya, using the same words as her father, clearly shows that the “shackles” are the one ones that the Castro regime has imposed on the Cuba people.

    Rosa María Payá: “Si se le tiende una mano a Cuba se le debe reclamar que las manos de los cubanos no sigan atadas”

  • The text and the various quotes there show clearly that Paya referred to the Castro regime as the one imposing shackles on the Cuban people.

    Your blatant misquotes are intolerable.

    From the link you posted:

    Fort those that speak Spanish it is clear that Paya talks about the Castro regime that “shackles” the Cuban people, denies then free speech (muzzle) and tries to keep them on their knees with repression.

  • If you read the original text, the “shackles” Paya he refers is a clear reference to the US embargo itself. See:

    At no time did Paya ever put conditions on lifting the embargo or express any kind of support for for these cruel and inhumane sanctions even as a temporary measure.

    From the above text, Paya wrote:

    “The United States of America, as a first urgent step, should lift the Embargo on Cuba, with respect to medicines and food, without conditions, and initiate a process to quickly eliminate the Embargo and the laws known as ‘Torricelli’ and ‘Helms Burton.'” (1999)

    In a January 2003 Reuters report, on the subject of the US embargo, Paya was quoted, “”We do not support any kind of foreign pressure from abroad as a factor for change in Cuba.”

    In a written statement in July 2007, he wrote: “As Cubans we do not accept that another country or group of countries impose its rules on the lives of our people, neither with unjust pressure nor economic isolation, be they embargos, sanctions or other types of measures.”

    In 2009, he was quoted, “[The US embargo] must be lifted without conditions because it is not the solution.”

    This shows a consistent pattern over the years of Paya opposing these cruel and inhumane sanctions of yours.

    As your hero, Elizardo Sanchez, pointed out, “Most of the dissident groups and leaders in Cuba do not support the economic sanctions imposed unilaterally by the government of the United States over the government of Cuba.” Was he lying? If so, what other lies has he told?

    As for your beloved genocidal embargo, it seems you are STILL in denial even after all these years. The intent to kill was obvious in reports from Amnesty International (see above). Sadly, for all you embargo boosters, to this date, no one, not Amnesty International, not even your closest allies at the UN have bought into your lies and rationalizations for these cruel and inhumane sanctions. (See above.) Must be frustrating as hell for you.

  • Stop misrepresenting Paya’s true stance.
    His life’s work is carried on by his daughter and she wants continued pressure on the Castro regime for the rights of Cubans.
    She demands a plebiscite as part of the process. She also wants the killing of her father investigated.
    like her father she says yes to engagement, but conditions change on clear moves from the Cuban regime on human rights and political freedom.

  • Coherent or not, they were simply sharing their views on what they believe is best for Cuba. For doing so, they risk their freedoms and perhaps their very lives. The Castro tyrannical regime does not take kindly to folks who disagree with them.

  • I am not the only lying, you are.
    Elizardo Sanchez and Paya both believe(d) in dialogue, but as Paya once said: “first unshackle our hands”.
    Very few dissidents want and immediate and unconditional end to trade sanctions as you falsely claim. Most want a process in which changes in the repressive system are rewarded with gradual changes in the sanctions regime. That is why some of to top dissidents recently bluntly stated they felt betrayed by Obama in congressional hearings.
    Anyway: Obama’s initiative is dead in the water with the extreme demands Raul put forward (trillions in “compensation”, …) and the continued repression on the island.
    As far as your repeating your false claim the sanctions are genocide: that has been exposed over and over again by the facts that:
    – no reputable international organization (including those whose names you abuse) has ever referred to the trade sanctions as genocide as they don’t meet the standard of the convention
    – there is no intent on the part of the US to kill Cubans as the convention requires, on the contrary: it are the remittances from the US that help Cubans survive. In 2008 the US even was Cuba’s largest food supplier.
    – it is the CAstro regime that is listed by the international watchdog on genocide: Genocide Watch as guilty of genocide.

  • Brave? I don’t think so. I saw the hearings. Their speeches were barely coherent.

  • yes you can can argue against that. I bet you know nothing about how the Cuban government system actually works. The reason these so called dissidents are irrelevant is because they have no support inside the island. They are propped up by forces in the US and elsewhere. This is against the law in most countries including the US

  • As we have seen repeatedly in the past, and contrary to your lies, most dissidents in Cuba do NOT support these cruel and inhumane sanctions.

    Top dissident, Elizardo Sanchez, for example is in on record saying, “The vast majority of us on the island who oppose the Government believe that a dialogue and a relaxation of tensions between the United States and Cuba would better facilitate a transformation. Unfortunately, the Helms-Burton Act, which among other things mandates sanctions against foreign companies that do business in Cuba, makes it very difficult for the United States to take part in such a dialogue.”

    He also wrote: “Most of the dissident groups and leaders in Cuba do not support the economic sanctions imposed unilaterally by the government of the United States over the government of Cuba.”

    Former top dissident, your hero, the late Oswaldo Paya said, in what I believe was his last public statement on the matter to the international media, “[The US embargo] must be lifted without conditions because it is not the solution.”

    Only the minority of so-called “dissdents”, such as those dredged up in Washington recently, are criminals and traitors to their people in their support of these sanctions. This will now be obvious to everyone.

    Sadly, for you promoters of these genocidal sanctions, the entire international community has repeatedly rejected your lies and self-serving rationalizations in support of them. Last year, only Israel voted with your political masters against resolution at the UN. Tellingly though, they refused to speak against the resolution in debate. They also continue to trade freely with Cuba. On these cruel and inhumane sanctions then, the US regime is completely isolated on the world stage. All the Americas, all of Europe, including your own country, all off Asia and Africa, as Paya did, are calling for the immediate and unconditional lifting of these cruel and inhumane sanctions of yours

  • As shown in the past: the majority of Cuban dissidents – including many of the top dissidents – do not support ending the trade sanctions without real changes on human rights.

    The ones on the side of US – Cuban mercantilism are those demanding an end to the embargo without changes to the human rights situation in Cuba. That is were “big US agro business” now is: it stands in alliance with the Castro elite.

    The real problem for the prosperity and development of Cuba is the “internal embargo” the Castro regime imposes on the Cuban people.

    As far as the United Nations and Amnesty International – from whose sites you abuse some snippets go – they have condemned the Cuban human rights abuses and have demanded and immediate and unconditional end to those. Why do you want to hide the complete message?

    You show you “true priority” here: the survival of the Castro elite.

  • So these “dissidents” are now promoting current US sanctions targeting every man, woman and child on the island, about which even Amnesty International has reported:

    “The US government is acting CONTRARY to the Charter of the United Nations [i.e. it is acting illegally] by restricting the direct import of medicine and medical equipment and supplies, and by imposing those restrictions on companies operating in third countries.”

    “The RESTRICTIONS IMPOSED BY THE EMBARGO help to deprive Cuba of vital access to medicines, new scientific and medical technology, food, chemical water treatment and electricity.”

    “The US embargo against Cuba is IMMORAL and should be lifted. It’s preventing millions of Cubans from benefiting from vital medicines and medical equipment essential for their health.”

    What great “patriots” these hateful clowns are! Just whose “freedoms” are they fighting for? The heirs of Batista, Trafficante and United Fruit? No wonder their neighbours hate them. Now the whole world will be onto them, too. Every year, for over two decades now, the vast majority of the UN General Assembly has seen through US lies and propaganda and voted to condemn these cruel and inhumane sanctions. Now these “dissidents” have shown their true colours and their true priorities.

  • These courageous Cuban dissidents are working to bring democracy and human rights to Cuba. You can’t argue against that, so you resort to childish insults and a lame attempt to bring the long dead Batista into this discussion. If that’s the best you Castro supporters can do, then it gives hope the goal of a free & democratic Cuba is near.

  • Is there such a thing as an “ex-Cuban”? Really? Does one lose their birthright simply because they openly disagree with their government? In that case, there are a lots of commenters here at HT who are “EX-Americans”!

  • Nice. There’s that anti-freedom of speech thing you do so well that is popular among the Castro bootlicker crowd.

  • In reality, IF they choose to return to Cuba, they should be made to feel as welcome as flatulence in a space suit.

  • well said

  • I hope President Obama and his circle of advisors are listening to these courageous Cuban dissidents. The Cuban people deserve to live in freedom & dignity with a government of their choosing which respects all their human rights.

    Watch this video… …of Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobson squirm under the questioning of Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen over the swap of the 3 Cuban spies for Allen Gross. Ross-Lehtinen hammers Jacobson over her lies to the family of the murdered Cuban-American, Armando Alejandre.

    Pathetic. And this is the diplomat who is supposed to represent US interests in negotiations with the Cubans? Like chum to sharks.

  • Typica selfishl ex-Cubans……being in this country and working against our own interest….dreaming to installl a new Batista…..agains the overall interst of REAL Cubans

  • Three very brave Cubans. I wish them well upon their return to Cuba.

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