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Dignity without freedom?

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by Observer 14.MAY.10

In last week’s Searchlight article: ‘Who is Fidel Castro?’ the following statement appears: “He(Castro)has given the Cubans their dignity and their independence.” Unfortunately, the vast majority of Vincentians do not know Cuba. They have never been to Cuba. They don’t know that one can not travel out of Cuba when and where one wants, that one can’t hold a passport unless being part of the Communist Establishment, that you can’t choose, go and say as you like.{{more}}

On the contrary, the Vincentians who do know Cuba don’t talk! Why? Because they owe scholarships, medical treatments, free holidays, degrees, doctorates and careers to the Communist Regime of Cuba.

Let’s quote from ‘Human Rights First’, an independent organization, one of many to be found on the Internet such as Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, Campaign for Freedom etc: “CUBA REMAINS THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE TO EFFECTIVELY OUTLAW PEACEFUL ADVOCACY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRATIC REFORM…” In other words; Cuba happens to be the country where people have the least freedom of democratic rights. Mind you, in Cuba there is…NO Freedom of Movement, such as travelling abroad. (Travel documents, choice of school, workplace etc being denied) No Freedom of Speech. Severe limitations to press, TV, Radio, Internet and even private conversation. Authorities monitor and censor citizens, Civil Servants and visitors, their emails as well as they block independent websites. If u dare to disagree with the Communist Regime, you are labelled “Counterrevolutionary” and locked up for “Dangerousness”, often without being charged or given legal assistance.

Over 5000 citizens serve sentences for “Dangerousness”. There are no rights or freedom of assembly or demonstration, no workers rights or independent unions. Recently, the now infamous ‘Ladies in White’ stood silently in Havana, demanding freedom for their politically imprisoned husbands and sons, when a party-organized mob ridiculed and heckled them.

Cellphone pictures went all over the world, similar to in Iran during the last so-called elections there. Talking elections… In Cuba there is no freedom of choosing political parties other than the Communist Party. At the last Cuban elections, when the CP made 98%(!) of the votes, there was no alternative party to vote for, no choice of changing the Government democratically through free elections.

There is no freedom for international organizations to examine Human Rights, fair elections or monitoring the prisons in Cuba, where dissidents are being held. If Cubans love Castro so much, as some commentators maintain, why doesn’t he allow people of different political opinion to run for office as well?

It is true, for propaganda reasons, medical assistance to other countries has been offered generously, while inside Cuba, according to independent reports and Cuban family members, sanitary and medical conditions in numerous detention centres are deplorable. Are all those reports lies?

Cuba pays the lowest wages in the Caribbean, e.g. a doctor gets the equivalent of EC$500 a month; teachers, nurses, labourers, everyone gets a fraction of what people earn in St.Vincent let alone elsewhere. Hence, the high numbers of runaways; thousands taking to the sea, many drowning.

In Cuba there is discrimination against persons of African decent. About 1/3 of Cuba’s population is of mixed race or black. How come, that the Communist Establishment is predominantly white, while the lesser functions left to the blacks. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate, rather than ranting at Europe, that our PM mentions Cuba and Venezuela, where a relatively small White Upper Class is running the show?

This brings us to the mighty USA: Not everything in USA is gold that glitters, we know. Their financial system is riddled with greed and fraud, their infrastructure outdated. Their medical system way behind. However, here we have the First Black President in history, the most powerful man on the planet, our brother, who, within a year’s time demonstrated that he’s doing what promised: taking on the ‘sharks’ in the system, the ‘maggots’ on Wall-Street, the bankers, the insurance- and pharma giants. Following election, Obama said, that he’s willing to enter in a dialogue with Cuba in order to normalize the long strained relations and subsequently issued a memorandum to lesser the embargo.

After one year, Obama insists, that in spite his efforts, the Cuban Regime remained nonnegotiable when it came to Human Rights and Freedom of Speech. Does this make Castro a genius in “his understanding of world affairs and history…an expert in international diplomacy”?

Castro, “attending Catholic Schools where he learned values and discipline”,… are you kidding me? The facts: in Cuba, state security exercises total control of all aspects of human life. With all the shortcomings, in USA one at least has a choice. That’s why Vincentians in the thousands live in USA, the UK and Canada. Why don’t they go to ‘paradise’ Cuba?

Yes, Castro overthrew dictator Batista in 1959 only to became dictator himself. With his fellow ‘Commandantes’ Che and Camilo out of the picture, he could do as he liked. He organized a communist military state, imitating his role model, the then “Glorious Soviet Union”, inviting them to install nuclear missiles and in doing so did manage to bring the world on the brink of nuclear war. You call that: “a master of political as well as military strategy…”, when the entire world almost went up in flames? Quite correct, “it is difficult to find his equal in the annals of human history.” Correct, Castro proves strong stamina. But calling this “miraculous” and that “he has defied the laws of logic”…what kind of ‘logic’ is that? How many 86 year old and older people do live happily in blessed St.Vincent? Are they all defying the laws of logic? What pseudo-intellectual garb is this?

And to bring in ancient Greece to justify Castro as “an exceptional human being and one of the most exceptional leaders of the 20th century” is not only ridiculous but nothing short of irony; the Greek gave us Democracy, Castro took it away. How brainwashed, blindfolded, and most of all, poorly educated one has to be to come to such conclusions while de facto Castro has failed to give back to his people the most precious treasure, the Greatest Good of all… FREEDOM!

Do we want to go down that same road??

Not this observer for sure!

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