Cuba: Manifesto against Silence, for Justice

HAVANA TIMES – A group of renowned Cuban intellectuals and artists living on the archipelago – who belong to official cultural institutions – wrote a public letter they called “Manifesto against silence, for justice”, the main objective of which is to demand the release of the July 11th protestors sentenced to prison. Intellectuals and academics from the diaspora community also joined the spirit and purpose of the document.

This manifesto has essentially become a protest. It also seeks to report, yet again, state repression deployed to calm down protests on July 11th and 12th 2021; as well as sentences given to make examples of those taken to trial. The letter explains that it is a humanist duty to condemn every act of violence and arbitrariness, regardless of the ideology of the Government that commits it.

The document calls upon intellectuals and artists to join it and make this complaint their own, so victims of the State can be supported, and the Cuban government’s punitive actions come to a halt.

Signees include filmmakers such as Fernando Perez and Juan Pin Vilar; historians Alina Fernandez, Mario Navia and Leonardo Fernandez; poets Alex Fleites and Jorge Fernandez Era; as well as activists – some of whom are outside Cuba for the time being but are permanent residents on the island – linked to different public protests that have challenged the State’s power recently.

Here, is the full manifesto:

To Cuba’s artistic and intellectual community:

On July 11th and 12th 2021, Cuba was shaken by a social uprising that was responded to by the State’s deployment of its military forces and their repressive actions. These events led to excessive violence which resulted in the death of citizen Diubis Laurencio Tejada, the forced entry of homes, protestors being beaten and over 1000 citizens arrested, as a direct consequence. This episode of civil disobedience was followed by the prosecution of over 500 citizens who have been given sentences to set an example, over 20 years in prison in many cases.

Despite the Government’s announcement, the right to protest exists but is still pending regulation. Faced with the 11/12J protests, the State responded with excessive and methodological political and legal violence that went beyond the one-off and spontaneous acts of violence committed during the uprising by some citizens. The responsibilities of a protestor damaging an object or another person’s property doesn’t compare to that of somebody attacking another person (and the attackers being law enforcement officers or civilians).

Given the above, the signees below declare:

I- These Cubans have only exercised their right to have rights, the same way citizens protest every day in our region of Latin America and in the world. When excesses take place in protests in any country, those involved – whether they are citizens or public officials – need to be taken to trial with due process and according to the Law, it should never aim for excessive punishment.

II- Sentences given publicly ridicule all Cuban society – going beyond ideological beliefs or political membership – and stop any attempt for people to actively take control of their lives in their country. The young people taken to trial mostly come from vulnerable neighborhoods, hit hard by severe economic crisis and poor government administration. Sentences, violations of due process – according to Cuban and international Law – and government media coverage of these trials to set an example, are excessive.

III- It is the intellectual duty of every academic and artist, during any period of time and in any society, to condemn violence and arbitrariness without double standards, without ideological exemptions or realpolitik subterfuges. We need to condemn it because the victims of this violence are almost always those whose lives, needs and interests are the object of our research and work.

IV- It is our social responsibility to accompany victims of State violence if we understand what happened between July 11th-12th as a social uprising, like we would in all of Latin America, expressed with civil disobedience, and the result of the Government’s poor administration of the economy and authoritarian means of managing conflict and socio-political participation in Cuba.

V- At this unprecedented and sad moment in Cuban history, we are calling upon our intellectual and artistic colleagues to join us. These prisoners are – or could be – our relatives, neighbors, friends. Ourselves even. During this age of online connections, we all know what’s going on. Nobody is disconnected from recent events, testimonies and how things have unfolded.

You can condemn or support the State’s violence from any ideological standpoint. Under-handedness, silence, or passivity with the punitive trials of protestors during the social uprising, instead of defending vulnerable citizens and making the authorities answer for their actions, will only perpetuate and extend abuse and conflict. We, people of ideas and words, will become accomplices of violence and injustice, consciously or underhandedly.

For that reason, given the prolongation and corruption of these trials, the punitive essence of these, and lessons from similar processes in our region, we demand the release of our fellow Cubans. Likewise, previous delimitation needs to be established for private and public responsibilities for the violence related to these protests. The real way to begin this process – by an amnesty or something similar – is up for discussion, but not its essence. The Law can’t subordinate justice. 

Adriana Ortega Normand

Alberto Abreu Arcia

Alex Fleites Rodriguez

Alexander Hall Lujardo

Alexei Padilla Herrera

Alfredo Lopez de la Rocha

Alina Barbara Lopez Hernandez.

Amaury Pacheco Del Monte

Armando Chaguaceda Noriega

Camila Cabrera Rodriguez

Carmelo Mesa-Lago

Carolina Barrero Ferrer

Dany Roque Gavilla s.j

Eloy Viera Cañive

Fernando Perez Valdes

Harold Cardenas Lema

Haroldo Dilla Alfonso

Helen Ochoa Calvo

Ivette Garcia Gonzalez

Jorge Fernandez Era

Jose Manuel Gonzalez Rubines

Juan Pin Vilar

Leonardo Manuel Fernandez Otaño

Leonardo Romero Negrin

Mario Valdes Navia

Marta Maria Ramirez Garcia

Mauricio de Miranda Parrondo

Miguel Alejandro Hayes

Omar Everleny Perez Villanueva

Pedro Manuel Monreal Gonzalez

Rafael Rojas Gutierrez

Raul Prado Rodriguez

Sandra Ceballos

Tania Bruguera

Teresa Diaz Canals

Uva de Aragon y Hernandez-Cata

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