By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — Cuba is fighting a fierce diplomatic battle in Geneva. Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and his “Elite Squad” have been charged with the mission of highlighting the positive side of the Cuban government, maximizing and sugarcoating its social achievements and reducing and distorting those which represent human rights violations.
Our government hasn’t gone to the United Nations to listen to suggestions, to take the sentiments of our civil society into account, nor the complaints made by human rights advocates. It has gone to counteract them as if it were a pitched battle. They don’t have the slightest intention to build a better Cuba “with everyone and for the wellbeing of everyone”, which would be more inclusive and respect all human rights.
It’s a shame that this revolution, which was conceived as a grand progressive idea, has ended up being so conservative and extreme. They want to continue on with this kind of political Apartheid which has the country at a standstill, divided, in a “cold”, sterile civil war and worse yet, people emigrating with no hope left. Everything would be different if government leaders decided to break their static and rigid position to really drive us towards a revolutionary political, economic and social system, which Cuba is in desperate need of.
It’s appalling to see our diplomats, who are very skilled with words, label human rights advocates “mercenaries” or “on Imperialism’s payroll” because they file complaints. They don’t attack the content of the message; they are rather aiming at the messenger: this is an old manipulation technique.
What does being a mercenary mean?
According to RAE (Real Academia Espanolsa): “A person who does any job in exchange of financial compensation, their only goal being to earn money and they lack ideological motivation.
Our government is constantly accusing every Cuban who confronts it, both inside the island or abroad, of being a mercenary. However, it’s clear that nobody fits into this concept. Who could believe that these human rights advocates or advocacy groups who are in Geneva trying to make their work visible are therefore mercenaries? Clearly, they have their own interests and ideological motivations. However, the Cuban ambassador is very skilled at manipulating speeches, in repeating baseless accusations and creating false stigma such as the “mercenary”.
According to our diplomats, “the Cuban government doesn’t forbid any Cuban from traveling; it’s the United States who is doing this by withdrawing their consulate staff.” So, is the United States the ones who prevent me from traveling, for example, not even allowing me to renew my passport.
In the days leading up to the Summit of the Americas in Lima, independent press denounced the fact that around 200 Cubans had been prevented from traveling abroad. The government was afraid that those who were going to the event from civil society would counter the official delegation’s show. Was it the United States that trampled all over this right, to move freely, or was it the Cuban government?
There were even three human rights advocates who needed to take part in an event in Switzerland, held before the high level UN session, but they were not allowed to leave the country, tickets in hand at the airport. We were the only country unable to attend. And that’s just served to show me how badly human rights issues are here.
The right to travel, to move freely, isn’t an unalienable human right here in Cuba; it’s a gift which we citizens obtain with our tolerant attitude towards the ruling political system or at least with our neutral stance. If you decide to exercise your rights of freedom of speech or political thought, then you lose the right to move freely. Relinquishing our rights over their conditioning is the most normal thing to do.
There are many more cases of violations: restrictions on financial rights, fighting wealth more than poverty and freedom of association is not allowed. Workers can’t form or join independent unions instead of pro-government ones, where you find a straitjacket and government interests taking priority, which are the same as any workplace management. There are so many violations.
However, we can’t take our complaints to Geneva. It’s impossible for us to organize ourselves without any support from abroad as the repression we suffer is vicious and very effective. And if you receive support, then you are called a “mercenary.” Just take a look at how innocent Bruno Rodriguez’s team is.
They use many countries’ denouncing US actions considered imperialist or Trump’s questionable policies, to put the just struggle for a better Cuba in the same bag, or to counter real, systematic violations which are endemic to the Cuban system against our people. Many people end up believing this conspiracy theory, the one where Goliath wants to crush good David, and that’s how they end up supporting the crime.
The Cuban revolution, this system which we have established, doesn’t have the ideological capacity to sit down and start a national dialogue. Only a miracle would make them change. The only way forward towards the future is the embarrassing subjugation and servile compliance in everything which doesn’t agree with their doctrines, which are also an economic and social failure.
Emigrating and being stripped of every right, only receiving the gift of being able to visit your family if you behave well abroad; or continue fighting here for change, being considered an outcast in your own land without any human rights which the government should respect.
I urge the International Community to support the Cuban people more, but this won’t happen while the government’s diplomatic service continues to suppress the ability of citizens to denounce and make visible the reality of human rights in Cuba. We have to keep on working with a great deal of perseverance and intelligence