Carlos Fernández de Cossío on "Dissidents" Print

To the Editor of the Globe and Mail
Re: Locked up in Cuba with Castro's key, April 8, 2003.

The individuals arrested, prosecuted and sentenced in Cuba in recent days were not accused, nor were they detained, tried and sentenced for being economists, journalist, human rights activists or for expressing their opinion and dissent. They have violated laws clearly known by them that are aimed to legitimately protect Cuba from the attempt by the US Government to destabilize the country, undermine and destroy Cuba's Constitutional order, its Government, its independence and its Socialist society.

Unfortunately Cuba is still forced to defend its independence form US aggression and to face a hostility that has escalated to dangerous levels in recent months. It is illegal in Cuba to act in detriment of the independence of the Cuban state or the integrity of its territory in the interest of a foreign state. It is illegal to render to the US government information that facilitates the implementation of the Helms-Burton law and other provisions of US hostility toward Cuba. It is illegal to seek classified information to help the implementation of Helms-Burton. It is illegal to reproduce and distribute information materials of the US government conceived to support the economic war against Cuba and disturb the internal order of the country. It is illegal to take actions in support of Helms-Burton that damage or obstruct the economic, industrial, commercial and financial relations of Cuban entities with the international community.

The US does not have the right in Cuba and should not have the right anywhere to instruct their diplomats to interfere in the domestic affairs of a foreign country. It is not acceptable to Cuba for the chief US diplomat in Havana to act as an organizer or agitator against the Government and to have Cuban citizens acting not only in complicity but also as instruments of the policy of hostility of the US against Cuba. The US Government has dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars and still dedicates millions of dollars today to destabilize the Cuban nation. It is a publicly documented fact. The actions for which these individuals have faced the law are organized, financed, and conceived by the US government. Cuba has the right to defend itself against such powerful foe and protect the stability, security and the lives of its citizens. US hostility against Cuba has cost already hundreds of lives, pain to many families, immense economic damage and instability to the region. No country that respects itself would allow its nation to face such dangers without protection.

It is not true that the accused did not enjoy proper defense, in most cases designated by them and in the absence of such designation, assigned by the Government. It is not true that they were uninformed about the charges before the trials. It is not true that the trials were held in secret or closed doors. Relatives and other Cuban citizens were present in all of the trials. These were indeed summary trials, conducted in accordance with the law, with full guarantees and based on provisions for summary procedure similar to those existing in over one hundred countries, including the United States.

Some Governments and international figures have expressed public concern about these trials, apparently driven by lack of information, misguided advice or a double standard when looking at justice. In contrast, they express public silence in regard to the most powerful nation on Earth. No action similar to the abuses of Afghans, Arabs and citizens from different countries detained in Guantanamo base has taken place in Cuba. No secret military trial like the ones established in the United States has been nor can be carried out in Cuba. There do not exist thousands of detainees still unaware of the charges against them and whose names have not been released in totality, as is happening in the United States since September 11, 2001. None of the individuals tried in Cuba has been submitted to solitary confinement, to psychological torture or cruel separation from their families like the five Cuban unjustly suffering prison in the United States. The 75 Cuban individuals and their attorneys have had full access to the information used against them by the prosecution, in contrast with the five Cubans condemned to abusive sentences in the US who are still waiting to read over 50 per cent of the documentation used to incriminate them because it was declared secret.

This is not an issue of human rights, liberty or freedom of expression; it is about the right of a nation to build a just society protected from foreign aggression. International Law is on Cuba's side. The government that has supported some of the most brutal regimes of the 20th century, that disregards international law, that steps over the UN, that carries out a criminal war for economic and geopolitical ambitions, that possesses the greatest arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons cannot and should not be allowed to assume that Cuba's integrity and sovereignty are for sale.

Carlos Fernández de Cossío
Ambassador of Cuba to Canada