Face-off for Cuba in Geneva over Human Rights

By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.  Photo: Minrex

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

15 thoughts on “Face-off for Cuba in Geneva over Human Rights

  • To deal with the easy part first John L. I have seen no evidence that Cuba is “the drug gateway from South America to the US”. Do you have any? I do know about Columbia, Mexico and Jamaica.
    I also know that Cuba takes measures to prevent tourists bringing in drugs – all baggage is X-rayed and there are sniffer dogs, also I know that there is drug prevention with the Police in Canada – the country which provides the highest percentage of tourists.
    I disagree with your opinion that all that Cubans seek is greater wealth, not freedom. For example,
    currently there is here on Havana Times, an article by Luis Rondon Paz. Do read it and the reasons why he has now chosen to leave Cuba!
    As one who lives in Cuba and has very strong connections with children and education, I have yet to see any Cuban “children lying there with an overdose”.
    We can agree that those with power in Cuba seek greater wealth and higher living standards for themselves although denying it for the “mass”. Can you recall when the National Assembly last address improving living standards? Fidel Castro had his five house compound with swimming pool and tennis court in Siboney plus his two island retreat of Cayo Piedra where he kept his yacht Aquarama II and RAFIN SA – (RA = Raul Fi = Fidel) paid $706 million for a 27% holding in ETECSA the monopoly telecommunications company. If you keep in contact with Cuban TV, you will note the standards of dress which those in echelons of power achieve (although most of the Generals in that group wear uniform) and the ever increasing girth of those who eat a lot of hot dinners with visiting dignitaries, Bruno Rodriguez for example.
    I stated that freedom of expression is a pearl beyond price. You and I when not in Cuba, have it – as evidenced here, but many of those who have always had it do not comprehend its value.

  • Carlyle, it is not a matter of would have to or not, Cuba can not (emphatizied) and will be not able to choose a model like US, even if they wanted it. Neither did Mexico, nor the other Latin American countries, and they are still trying. Simply for the same reason why we all cannot be millionaires.
    This model, with all its problems, it way better for the people in US than other tryied so far, just for that reason want so many to go there. And of course, it can and should be updated if necessary. I will not fool myself into judging that, this decision is up to people in the US. But what I sould and must judge is what i said: “No country has the right to force another country to rule a certain way”. But I deviate from the topic: Cuba.
    The majority of the people ar not seeking for freedom, they are seeking for prosperity and without to dive in the deep of human psychology each one wish more of that for themselve than for others.
    The many that are on the way to the US or Western Europe don’t care that they already have freedom of expression in their countries, they only want the prosperity that they hope to find in the richest countries.
    I do not know anybody who emigrated from Cuba because he/she wanted freedom of expression. I know nobody in Cuba that wants freedom of expression, what everyone wants is to consume and of course the money to do so. I believe that everyone in Cuba, unfortunately, believes that in a capitalistic Cuba everyone will have it. Well, we have already had a capitalistic Cuba, an it ended in a revolution, not why we have been moved to it by the russian, but because it was not good for the many, but for the few (these few are who I mean with “they”). And now we have learned that socialism is not the way out of poverty, but nor is it the Latin American capitalism.
    Dr. Ernesto “Che” … was already dead as I was born, but what I know is that he is more cultically revered in west europe as in Cuba self (I can not say anything this about for the US). He probably knew of the human susceptibility for “wanting more than the others” and he wanted to change it, that’s how I heard it, but I mean, he chose the really worst way to do it, and he failed.
    How many money the Cuban government has wasted for the cult, I don’t know. What his opinion was, i dont know too. As child in Cuba I don’t have had access to these information. And today I am skeptical about what is being told everywhere. I have my opinion, but it is not the matter here, and I think it not matter for the future of Cuba, he is a ghost, and they are scary but only at night. Most frightening, however, is that Cuba is in the drug gateway from South America to the US. What do it mean for the future of Cuba? Will be of importance to have freedom of expression if a corrupted government don’t hear it? If your children are lying there with a overdose and do have hardly no opinion or the interest for it?
    IMO, we need freedom of expression, but what we need the most is the freedom to choose our own path, without outside interference, and the ability to accept that in a democracy the others could also be elected and we have to wait for the next elections (see Venezuela or Bolivia or Ucraina or or …). It could be good for Cuba if they choose the old way, no more experiments. But if they choose to experiment there are very good new models. But I think the Cubans would say that it’s now up to others to experiment. They have enough. I just hope that the old way does not bring back the old problems.

  • John L, I totally agree that a free Cuba would not have to model itself upon the US. The US political model is at times almost farcical because it is based upon a Constitution that is in dire need of revision, but which because it is a ‘holy cow’ is left untouched.
    You also say: “no government can force the governed to live in a certain way.” and with that I disagree using Cuba to demonstrate my view. The Castro defined form of communism imposed upon the people of Cuba, does undeniably force the vast majority of the population to live in a certain way. That way is one of endeavors to exist day by day on a pittance and to stay mute!
    Anybody with a degree of common sense, knows that the distribution of wealth in the capitalist countries is out of whack. But even the poorest in those countries have freedom of expression – hence their ability to demonstrate – a freedom denied for Cubans.
    It will always be possible to point the finger at “they” whoever “they” may be, but by far the majority of people seek freedom and by far the majority reject the concept of communism when given the opportunity.
    The Castro regime has spent many millions of dollars in promotion of the cult of Dr. Ernesto “Che” Guevara de Serna Lynch to encourage belief in his expressed opinions.
    They include:

    “To send men to the firing squad judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail.”
    “Hatred is an element of struggle, relentless hatred of the enemy that impels us over and beyond the natural limitations of man”
    “We must do away with all newspapers. A revolution cannot be accomplished with freedom of the press.”
    “Youth should learn to think as a mass. It is criminal to think as an individual.”

    As one married to a Cuban, with our home in Cuba, I share many of your concerns, but always remember that Cubans are not permitted freedom of expression – which is a pearl beyond price!

  • The problem is that all those who want a “free Cuba” think of a Cuba like the US, but the reality is that it will become like the other Latin American countries: poor, with no future, with high infant mortality, with corrupt democracy etc. I could list more, but I hope you know what I mean. In all these countries, many people also want to emigrate to the USA. I do not want this situation for Cuba, I do not want for Cuba that its resources (human and natural) ends up in the pockets of the rich of the First World, but rather serves for the development of Cuba. The revolution has certainly failed, I myself have been living in Germany for more than 30 years, and I wish it had not been necessary, but I do not think I would return if Cuba were like Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile, etc .. Will those who now live in the US or one of the other countries of the First World do so? Will they return? I think no! I hope and give the people in Cuba my confidence to find a way out that they can live with. Above all, to find this way without interference from those who hope to enrich themselves without regard to those who you want to see free right now. They do not want freedom, justice or wealthness for Cuba, just as they did not want it for Lybia, Iraq, Afganistan, and others when they talked about the need for wars for human rights and democracy. What did they achieve there? What do they expect to achieve in Cuba?
    No country has the right to force another country to rule a certain way, but no government can force the governed to live a certain way. Cuba has to be free, but it does not have to be the freedom to wealth of a few.

  • Isn’t it amazing how rabid communist supporters like jon keller either through ignorance about the reality of Cuba or dissatisfaction with their own personal lot, constantly attack the USA rather than addressing the repression of the people of Cuba. If those communist supporters (fellow travellers) had any real morality, they would move themselves to communist countries – for example, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and potentially Venezuela. But they don’t!
    Their preference is to shelter in the capitalist world, which although having faults, offers freedoms which are denied to people in communist countries. Have they asked themselves why it is that those who record their opinions here in HT do not include people living in Cuba itself? Yes, Cubans write articles for HT, but with the exception of Repatriado who has experienced freedom in Spain, others are either unable because of Internet cost, censorship or fear to express their opinions in discussion. Elio Delgado Legon serves as an example, for although an ardent supporter of the Castro regime, he is quite apparently unable to respond to comments here. Note I give Elio the credit for being the author of his articles which so closely resemble the views of the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba!
    I agree with the view expressed by Repatriado that one could find ten Cubans (or more) seeking to live in the freedom of the capitalist world for every single person (jon keller?) who would seek to live in Cuba.
    As one who spends the majority of his time in Cuba at home with my wife, I commute because I will not make myself subject to the power and control of the communist regime, One consequence is that when not in Cuba but in capitalist countries, I am able to express my opinions here. However, unlike Repatriado, I understand jon keller using the expression “the Cuban experiment”.

    “experiment: (noun) a scientific procedure undertaken to make a discovery, test a hypothesis, or demonstrate a known fact.
    a course of action tentatively adopted without being sure of the eventual outcome.
    (verb) perform a scientific procedure especially in a laboratory, to determine something.”

    Oxford English Dictionary

    In Cuba the communist regime refrains from performing its scientific procedures upon animals, preferring to use its own citizens. So jon keller can sit back and enjoy the repression being imposed upon the people of Cuba whilst basking in the benefits of capitalism.

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