CNC Statement on "Dissidents" Print

The Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) is deeply concerned with the dramatic increase of hostility and harassment of Cuba by the Bush administration. While the world has been helplessly following the illegal U.S. military actions in Iraq, a very busy head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, James Cason, has continued and accelerated U.S. efforts to manufacture a non-existent 'opposition' to the Cuban government financed and directed by the U.S. government. Armed with the blueprint of the Helms-Burton Law and a large supply of dollars, Mr. Cason has recruited Cuban citizens to pose as dissidents.

The Helms-Burton Law has clearly been criticized by the majority of the countries for its extraterritoriality to the point that the Canadian government saw it fit to amend the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act, in 1996, to protect Canadian interests. Similarly, the Cuban government has laws that protect Cuban interests. In particular, Law No. 88 on the Protection of National Independence and the Economy of Cuba is meant to counter Paragraph 109 of the Helms-Burton Law which explicitly allows the U.S. government to use money for subversion in Cuba. Accepting money from a foreign state for the purpose of subversion is illegal in Cuba and the recent events show that Cuba is determined to implement its legislation.

While Cuba abides by established international and national laws, the U.S. government is determined to use its diplomatic mission in order to interfere in Cuba's internal affairs. Diplomatic notes to Mr. Cason have not produced any changes in this situation. On the contrary, a series of hijackings occurred and the hijackers were not returned to Cuba as per U.S.-Cuba agreements.

Consequently for security reasons, Cuba had to proceed to arrest and charge 75 Cuban citizens who had received money from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana and/or were acting as agents of the U.S. government. After a fair trial the maximum prison term was 28 years. This has to be seen in the context of more than two life terms given to one of the five anti-terrorist Cubans unfairly kept in U.S. jails. In a separate incident, Cuba apprehended and tried a group of armed men who hijacked a passenger ferry. Three of the hijackers were executed.

The Canadian Network on Cuba does not consider the use of executions in Cuba to be an element of discord between the U.S. and Cuba since both countries have the death penalty. The context of U.S. aggression against Cuba is purely economic and political

In a recent press conference, Cuba's Foreign Minister, Felipe Perez Roque, stated, "we have the right to legitimate defense established in the Charter of the United Nations, and we are the victims of an economic, political and propaganda war. Anyone who collaborates here in Cuba with those objectives has to know they are committing a crime." In the same press conference he also stated, "...we have chosen our own way and we demand that it be respected."

The CNC, as a collective of solidarity organizations across Canada, is fully aware of the long history of terrorist and other aggressive actions against Cuba sponsored or directed by the U.S. government. These actions are a continuous threat to Cuba's future as a sovereign country.

The CNC stands firmly in solidarity with Cuba, recognizes Cuba's right to self-determination and respects Cuba's chosen path for its own social, political, economic and cultural development.

May 7, 2003

Canadian Network on Cuba
www.canadiannetworkoncuba.ca
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