Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Letter from Members of Cuba's Civil Society to Members of the U.S. Congress, May 30, 2010

This letter, which I missed when it was released 10 days ago, was circulated again today (June 9, 2010) by the Cuba Study Group.

Though the signatories recognize that we, not they, should be responsible for making (and changing) U.S. policy (just as they, not we, should be responsible for making and changing Cuban reality), their opinions and arguments should be taken seriously into account as we reconsider our approach, strategy, and policy vis-a-vis Cuba. They have sacrificed much and risk more by making their voices heard in this way.

Among the letter's 74 signatories are many of the most strident, bona fide critics of the regime, a number of whom have spent time in prison or been attacked in various ways by the Cuban government.

The names that stand out to me are:

The bloggers associated with DesdeCuba/VocesCubanas.com Juan Juan Almeida, Claudia Cadelo, Dimas Castellanos, Miriam Celaya, Martha Cortizas, Reinaldo Escobar, Eugenio Leal, Pablo Pacheco, and Yoani Sánchez;

The well-known government critics and opposition figures Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Héctor Palacios, Oscar Espinosa Chepe, Miriam Leiva, Guillermo Fariñas, and Félix Bonne Carcassés;

Leaders of Convivencia (the new on-line project of the original Vitral group) Karina Gálvez, Virgilio Toledo, and Dagoberto Valdés;

And the Santiago priest José Conrado.

Go here to read the letter in Spanish.

Letter from Members of Cuba's Civil Society to Members of the U.S. Congress

Havana, Cuba - May 30, 2010


Honorable Members of the United States House of Representatives
Honorable Members of the Agriculture Committee of the House of Representatives United States House of Representatives


Washington, DC 20515


Honorable Representatives:


We the members of Cuban civil society, who are signing this letter as individuals, have learned that you are currently considering the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act (H.R. 4645), to end travel restrictions on all Americans to Cuba and to remove obstacles to legal sales of United States agricultural commodities to Cuba.


We understand that this bill has the support of Republicans and Democrats in the Congress of the United States. We also know that for this bill to be considered by the full House of Representatives, it must first be passed through the House Committee on Agriculture.


We know that major non-governmental organizations support this bill, including, to name only a few: The United States Chamber of Commerce, the American Farm Bureau Federation, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Cuba Study Group and many other human rights organizations.


We share the opinion that the isolation of the people of Cuba benefits the most inflexible interests of its government, while any opening serves to inform and empower the Cuban people and helps to further strengthen our civil society.


We value the experience of all the western countries, including the United States, who favored opening and trade with all the countries of the former Eastern Europe. We are sure that isolation does not foster relationships of respect and support for people and groups around the world who are in favor of democratic changes in Cuba.


We would like to recall the memorable words of Pope John Paul II who, in his own life, had experienced a totalitarian and closed system: "Let Cuba open itself to the world and let the world open itself to Cuba."


Over time we have seen that the Cuban regime does not open itself fully to the world, nor to its own citizens, because what it fears most is an opening, of free trade and of free enterprise, and the direct flow of information and communication between peoples.


Those who oppose H.R. 4645 argue that lifting these restrictions would be a concession to the Cuban regime and a source of foreign income that could be used to repress the Cuban people. They also argue that given the ongoing violations of human rights and the repeated acts of repression, lifting these prohibitions would be an abandonment of Cuban civil society.


It is true that repression and systematic violations of Human Rights have recently increased in a cruel and public way. It is true that these funds could also be used to support and even worsen repression.


We believe, however, that if the citizens of the United States, like those of the rest of the world, increased their presence on our streets, visited the families of the political prisoners and other members of the nascent Cuban civil society they could: first, serve as witnesses to the suffering of the Cuban people; second, be even more sensitized to the need for changes in Cuba; and third, offer solidarity and a bridge to facilitate the transition we Cubans so greatly desire.


The supportive presence of American citizens, their direct help, and the many opportunities for exchange, used effectively and in the desired direction, would not be an abandonment of Cuban civil society but rather a force to strengthen it.  Similarly, to further facilitate the sale of agricultural products would help alleviate the food shortages we now suffer.


Above all, we believe that defending each and every Human Right for all people must be an absolute priority, ahead of any political or economic consideration, and that no restriction of these rights can be justified on economic, political or social grounds. We believe that rights are protected with rights.


Because the ability to travel freely is the right of every human being, we support this bill. The current Cuban government has always violated this right and in recent years has justified its actions with the fact that the government of the United States also restricts its citizens' freedom to travel. The passage of this bill would remove this spurious justification.


Finally, Honorable Representatives, we strongly believe that the problems of Cuba and its path to freedom and democracy are a responsibility and a labor that belongs to all Cubans, those of us who live on the Island as well as those who suffer in exile in the Diaspora, who also love this nation we all share.


In the world today, all peoples of the earth are interconnected, even when their decisions are their sovereign right. These principles – of responsibility for our beloved country and of universal fraternity – encourage us to respectfully communicate our views to you with regards to this bill, because although it is the responsibility of Americans, it affects the Cuban people.


We thank you for your attention and respect.


What follows is a list of 74 Cuban citizens, each of whom signs this letter as an individual. Among those listed here are political prisoners, independent librarians, bloggers, and journalists, magazine editors, members of the clergy, intellectuals, artists, civil society activists, and members of political organizations.


1 Juan Juan Almeida García
2 José Alberto Álvarez Bravo
3 Silvio Benítez Márquez
4 Juan Carmelo Bermúdez
5 Servando Blanco Martínez
6 Félix Bonne Carcassés
7 Luis Cáceres Piñero
8 Claudia Cadelo de Nevis
9 Leonardo Calvo Cárdenas
10 Eleanor Calvo Martínez
11 Marcelo Cano Rodríguez
12 Cecilio Dimas Castellanos
13 Miriam Celaya González
14 Francisco Chaviano González
15 Hortensia Cires Díaz
16 Martha Cortizas Jiménez
17 Manuel Cuesta Morúa
18 Roberto De Miranda
19 Gisela Delgado Sablón
20 Reinaldo Escobar Casas
21 Oscar Espinosa Chepe
22 Guillermo Fariñas Hernández
23 Guedy Carlos Fernández
24 Juan Carlos Fernández
25 Karina Gálvez Chiu
26 Livia Gálvez Chiu
27 Margarita Gálvez Martínez
28 Julio César Gálvez Rodríguez
29 Joisy García Martínez
30 José Luis García Paneque
31 Juan del Pilar Goberna
32 Ricardo González Alfonso
33 Iván Hernández Carrillo
34 Maikel Iglesias Rodríguez
35 Irene Jerez Castillo
36 Yusnaymi Jorge Soca
37 Eugenio Leal García
38 Miriam Leiva
39 Gloria Llopis Prendes
40 Olga Lidia López Lazo
41 Yasnay Losada Castañeda
42 Luis Ricardo Luaces
43 Juan A. Madrazo Luna
44 Ainí Martínez Valero
45 Katia Sonia Martínez Véliz
46 Ricardo Santiago Medina, clergy
47 Manuel Alberto Morejón, clergy
48 Félix Navarro Rodríguez
49 Jorge Olivera Castillo
50 Pablo Pacheco Ávila
51 Leonardo Padrón Comptiz
52 Héctor Palacios Ruíz
53 Gustavo Pardo Valdés
54 Yisel Peña Rodríguez
55 Ana Margarita Perdigón
56 Arturo Pérez de Alejo
57 Juana Yamilia Pérez Estrella
58 Tomás Ramos Rodríguez
59 Soledad Rivas Verdecia
60 José Conrado Rodríguez, clergy
61 María Esperanza Rodríguez
62 Lázaro Rosales Rojas
63 Elena Rosito Yaruk
64 Yoani Sánchez Cordero
65 Fernando Sánchez López
66 Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz
67 Mayra Sánchez Soria
68 Pedro Antonio Scull
69 Sergio Abel Suárez García
70 Virgilio Toledo López
71 Dagoberto Valdés Hernández
72 Wilfredo Vallín Almeida
73 Alida Viso Bello
74 Liset Zamora

2 comments:

  1. OPEN LETTER TO CHEPE AND FARINAS

    THE FREEDOM OF THOUGHT AND ACTION, FOR WHICH ALL WHO LIVE IN UNITED STATES PAY FOR, HAS ALLOWED THE PENDULUM OFTHE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT THINKING REPRESENTATION OF TODAY, TO SWING TOWARDS JUSTICE. CUBAN AMERICAN GENERATIONS, RAISED HERE IN CUBANISM AND TRAINED IN AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES, SUPPORT YOUR PETITION. SOON THEY WILL BE APPROVED HERE, AND WE CAN SHARE, WITH CONFORT, TO THINK AND BUILT A FUTURE OF FREEDOM OF THOUGHT AND ACTION FOR ALL CUBANS.

    GREED, RACISM, HATE, THE ABUSE OF THE STATUS QUO, IS FALLING OUT OF FASHION IN UNITED STATES. THE NEW CONJUGATION OF THE IMPERIAL GOVERNMENT SEEK TO USE EMPATY IN RESOLVING PROBLEMS. YOUR PROPOTITION IS ACCEPTED ALREADY, IN THE IMPERIAL THINKING OF TODAY. SOON, MORE OF US CAN VISIT AND SHARE WITH YOU, OTHER DISSIDENTS, 26 OF JULY MEMBERS, MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNMENT, OUR EXPERIENCES AND PLANS FOR THE FUTURE, WITHOUT RANCOR OR HATE. CUBAN FUTURE CAN BE IN FREEDOM OF THOUGHT AND ACTION FOR ALL, WITH NO OTHER EMPIRE RULING, THAN OUR LOYAL KNOWING AND UNDERSTANDING OF THINGS.

    WHEN I SAY MORE OF US, DON'T MEAN THE OLD GENERATIONS, BUT OUR CONSTANTELY ARRIVING, AND BORN HERE CUBANS. WE, AS YOU, ARE OSTRACIZED, WATCHED AND WERE PERSECUTED BY ALL AGENCIES OF PAST NORTHAMERICAN GOVERNMENTS, WHILE WE WAGED OUR INSURRECTION FROM HERE; WITHOUT BOWING TO THEIR IMPERIALISTIC GOVERNMENT'S DESIGNS. EVEN TODAY, WE HAVE EDUARDO AROCENA, A CUBAN WARRIOR, IMPRISONED IN UNITED STATES FOR OVER 30 YEARS. LIKE YOU, MAINTAINING OUR INSURRECTIONAL CONDUCT AND NOT BEING HYPOCRITICAL WITH THE EMPIRE'S GOVERNMENTS, HAD OUR IDEAS HIDDEN AND OUR FAMILIES IGNORED BY THE STATUS QUO, FORCED BY THE "BELIGERANT CUBAN EXILE" WHO TREATED US WITH THE HYPOCRICY OF THE STATUS QUO, AS THE 26 OF JULY GENERALS TREAT YOU.

    OUR LOYAL KNOWING AND UNDERSTANDING OF THINGS IS STRONGER THAN THOSE WHO ORGANIZE TO ABUSE, BECAUSE THERE IS DIVINITY IN PEOLOLE'S LOYAL KNOWING AND UNDERSTANDING OF THINGS, THAT IS LACKING IN ORGANAIZED ABUSE.

    HECTOR CORNILLOT

    PLEASE, PRAY A FEW SECONDS FOR EDUARDO AROCENA FAMILY; AROCENA IS A CUBAN WARRIOR PRISONER IN UNITED STATES

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