The recent trial and imprisonment of so-called Cuban "dissidents" has led to strong reaction from the media, governments and critics of the Revolution. There is always, of course, more to the story.
We highly recommend taking the time to read through this transcription of Felipe Pérez Roque's Press Conference from April 9th. It is a detailed and extremely interesting account of the activities of U.S. diplomat James Cason and the support - financial and otherwise - given to Cuban "dissidents."
Ambassador of Cuba to Canada, Carlos Fernández de Cossío, CNC co-chair Marvin Glass (#1, #2), and CNC member Lisa Makarchuk respond to recent media editorials and articles in Canada.
April 8, 2003
Letters to the Editor,
The Globe and Mail.
In the April 8 editorial, "Locked up in Cuba with Castro's Key", The Globe and Mail opines that "dissent has no place in Fidel Castro's Cuba." Well, it does have a place, and to understand where that is, context is everything.
First, everyone knows that in 1961 the U.S. invaded Cuba. And in 1963 it almost caused WW III by insisting on the removal of weapons in Cuba meant precisely to deter another such illegal and immoral invasion. Since then, as the U.S. Senate Committee headed by Frank Church revealed, the CIA has organized and financed numerous Miami-based terrorist actions against Cuba, including one Havana hotel bomb incident that led to the death of a Canadian tourist. And the current U.S. government is continuing the 44 year history of turning a selective blind eye to Cuban-Americans who violate the U.S. Neutrality Act against launching de-stabilizing actions against any foreign country. Indeed, here it one-upped its political predecessors by handing out life sentences to two of the five Cuban-Americans and Cubans whose Œcrime' was to inform the F.B.I. about more of these imminent violations. Why has Mr. Graham's government remained silent about the severity of these sentences?
In any case, under these historical conditions, Cuba's determination to decide its own future, i.e., its exercise of its sovereignty, manifests itself in a law that effectively prevents the U.S. from funneling massive funding to a non-government Œalternative' press which, by sheerest coincidence, would turn out to echo the economic and political views on Cuba of the U.S. State Department--the kind they are now destroying Iraq to promote.
The blatant attempts of the U.S. government to cause civil unrest in Cuba--what even a former chief U.S. diplomat in Cuba called Œprovocations' (but what you euphemistically refer to as "President George Bush has toughened the U.S. stand on Cuba")--are the real story here, not the justified self-defense policies of the Cuban nation.
Co-Chair, The Canadian Network on Cuba
Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 11:06 AM
Subject: Why did Washington Goad Cuba?
Dear Paul Knox,
I quite enjoyed your piece in today's Globe. I daresay the answer to your question is that, from the point of view of the George Bush/Jeb Bush/Miami Mafia axis, the imprisonment of Cuban dissidents is a small price to pay to show the world what Cuba thinks of (U.S. instigated and financed) dissent. If they really worried about ordinary Cubans, the U.S. would long ago have ended the immoral and illegal blockade of that country.
You say that the sentences are far too harsh. Perhaps they are. But if these are harsh sentences worth mentioning in your column, how about the five Cuban Americans and Cubans now languishing in U.S. jails, with sentences ranging from 15 years to two life sentences + 25 years. They were arrested after the Cuban gov't turned over documents to the FBI detailing terrorist plots against Cuba originating in Miami. What did the FBI do about these imminent violations of the U.S. Neutrality Act? They arrested those who gathered the information, gave them show trials in Miami--the last place in the U.S. where they could have received a fair trial--and then handed out these draconian sentences. This story is at least as important as the one you wrote and yet it has been impossible for it to find even mildly sympathetic space in any mainstream North American media. Perhaps this is because it casts significant doubt on the purported attitude of the USA towards terrorism at a time when, as you put it, they are "bombing the bejesus out of Bagdad to deliver democracy to the Arab world."
If you are interested, I can supply you with more details about the case of "the Cuban Five."
Co-chair, The Canadian Network on Cuba
Letter to the Editor,
Apr. 15, 2003 Cuba "crackdown" wholly defensive
Re: Wave of repression sweeps Cuba
Oscar Espinosa Chepe was not put in jail for "having a mind of his own."
The 75 people who were arrested in Cuba were breaking the laws of the country by working with a hostile, foreign power (the U.S.) in an attempt to destabilize Cuba.
Cuba has been under terrorist attack from groups in the U.S. since 1959 and its citizens have suffered thousands of deaths, maiming and injuries as a result of these attacks.
Despite this undercover war against Cuba, the country tolerates expressions of dissent:
Oswaldo Paya, a "dissident," went to Washington to receive the Averell Harriman Award from the Center for Democratic Studies. Cuban law is broken, however, by provocative manoeuvrings in a deliberate campaign to bring about disorder and instability at the behest and the pay of a hostile foreign power.
According to Manuel Urban, a Portuguese journalist residing in Cuba, some of the mercenary "dissidents" had 24-hour passes into the U.S. Interests Section in Havana; one of them had $13,600 (U.S.) in his pocket, while another had some $5,000 in a container with no credible explanation as to where the money came from.
Documents were later to prove irrefutably that the money came from U.S. organizations interested in promoting counter-revolutionary groups to overthrow the Cuban government and assassinate Fidel Castro.
We may disagree with the severity of sentences but, when refracted through issues of national interest, maybe they were not so severe -- unlike what one could say about the double life sentences and other horrendously long ones meted out to five Cuban prisoners held in U.S. jails for attempting to prevent further terrorist attacks against their people.
Lisa Makarchuk, Toronto