Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cuban dissidents to U.S.: Keep the pressure on the Castro brothers

Tug of war over U.S. policy toward Cuba

Nearly 500 dissidents in Cuba have signed a letter opposing a House proposal to lift the travel ban, Capitol Hill Cubans reports.
The blog said those signing the letter include:
  • Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez," a young Afro-Cuban pro-democracy leader, who spent nearly half his life (17 years) as a political prisoner.
  • Reina Luis Tamayo, member of the Ladies in White and mother of Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died in February pursuant to an 85-day hunger strike.
  • Ariel Sigler Amaya, Cuban political prisoner who was released this past weekend.
  • Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina, former political prisoner and head of the Cuban Youth for Democracy Movement.
According to Capitol Hill Cubans, the letter they signed read:
...Freedom of Cuba will not arrive by means of the pocket-book nor the lips of libidinous tourists... For that reason we suggest that you maintain a firm and coherent policy of pressure and condemnation against the tyranny in Havana.
Dissidents who support U.S. policy risk landing in jail in Cuba. I respect their willingness to state their beliefs despite the perils.
That said, I wonder if any dissidents support U.S. sanctions because the American government pays them or gives them some kind of economic or material aid via private companies or non-profits that have U.S. pro-democracy contracts.
Pardon me if that's a cynical view, but the thought occurred to me.
I also wonder if some small percentage of the signers are actually undercover state security agents who back U.S. sanctions as a way of bolstering their credibility as dissidents.
Whatever the case, it's clear there are divisions in the dissident movement in Cuba. This only hurts their overall cause, making it easier for Cuban authorities to play them off each other and undermine their activities.
End result: The U.S.-Cuba grudge match goes on with no end in sight.

Postscript: The Associated Press played down the importance of the letter, saying of the signers, "most were little-known, even among the island's small and divided dissident and political opposition community.

The Cuban Liberty Council published a press release about the letter and the list of 494 dissidents and pro-democracy activists who signed it. A copy of the release and list is here.

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