This essay, this plea for a response from fellow liberals (think of the label in its classic definition here) to the plight of Cubans, was written shortly after the murder of Cuban dissident Laura Pollán. It is all the more applicable today because of the continuing acts of violent oppression occurring in Cuba: arrests, beatings, imprisonments, and murder of known dissidents.
Between October 2011 and August 2012 three Cuban dissidents have died by known methods of eliminating Enemies of the State.
October 14, 2011, Laura Pollán died of mysterious virus, after numerous threats, including being rammed from the rear while a passenger in an auto.
Political prisoner Wilmar Villar Mendoza died January 19-2012 during a hunger strike.
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas died July 22, 2012 in an auto accident. Confusing pictures of the wrecked car and familiy testimony counter the official cause of the accident, but the most damning indication that Payá was murdered is the official statements and behavior of the regime.
You have to fear for those who are next on the Castro’s hit list.
I’m posting this not because I beleive this very eloquent essay will bring forth a wave of support for Human Rights in Cuba, but because there are certain crucial moments in history that present an opportunity to deny evil; moments wherein an event, had there been a different action by one or a few individuals, the suffering of millions could have been avoided. I believe that the murder of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas presents such a moment.
From Union Liberal Cubana
Responsibility to freedom in Cuba
by Arturo G. Dorado
We are here to discuss the responsibility to protect. The first word of the topic already reveals the very essence of the issue, that of responsibility, which reflects the ethical dimension of human and political action.
We, as liberals, rely on a belief -a belief in freedom. This belief cannot be proven as a definitive fact, but ultimately is supported on faith, on which we have no better word to name that the human spirit.
We believe that the values of freedom are not constrained to a particular group, culture or religion, but that they are intrinsic to human nature, and that they are applicable for all. We also believe that human beings have the ability to choose between good and evil, in other words, we believe in human responsibility.
We assume then that freedom is a primary election, irreducible to other considerations. And although we know that there is no certitude to confirm that freedom is a necessary destination of humanity, experience has proven that it is infinitely better to live in free societies than in authoritarian and closed ones.
On that experience, on that faith, the responsibility of the liberals to promote, sustain and defend democracy and freedom has its foundation and strength.
Other parties, other groups or associations may remain silent, and even collaborate with those who restrain the freedom, with those who kill, repress and limit the expression of their own people, liberals cannot. We cannot betray ourselves, we cannot avoid responsibility to those, wherever it could be, who are fighting and sometimes dying for freedom; we cannot forget that freedom remains as one of the highest and most sacred aspirations of the human adventure.
At this time in Cuba an unprecedented wave of repression has been unleashed. According to the latest report of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, in September 2011 there were nearly 600 arrests for political reasons, the highest number in thirty years.
Right now defenseless women, only armed with their courage, dressed in white, with flowers in their hands, are being savagely beaten, arrested, harassed, intimidated; peaceful citizens are being imprisoned and physically attacked for the sole crime of daring to express discontent with the disastrous situation in Cuba. And now, as has happened far too often in our history, the response of the international community has been nothing but silence.
At this moment then, the responsibility to protect, to defend and to promote freedom is being tested in Cuba. It is a test to see whether the liberals and the democrats of the free world will speak out for those who are giving the maximum extent of their devotion, for those who refuse to uphold the absurdity and the misfortune of our nation, or whether cowardice, self- interest and lies will ultimately prevail.
When we are talking about Cuba we are not talking about a small island facing the attack of the United States of America, as the official propaganda tries to make us believe. No, we are talking about a government that for more than fifty years has denied basic rights to its own citizens and which has massively denied them freedoms. We are talking about a system that degraded one of the most prosperous nations of Latin America into one of the poorest, most hopeless and miserable of the entire continent. A system that has imprisoned, killed, repressed and damaged its own citizens. We are talking about a government that has promoted, supported and funded international terrorism, which is directly responsible for the subversion in Latin America, that cost tens of thousands of people their lives during the 1960?s, 70?s and 80?s. A government that has been linked with every dictatorship and political barbarity that has darkened and continues to darken the international scene. We speak of a government that brought the world to the brink of the worst catastrophe in its history after the Second World War: the Missile Crisis of 1962. We are talking about a government that strongly defended a dictator and criminal like Mohamed Gaddafi; a government that in recent days has clearly expressed its support to the bloodshed of innocent citizens in Syria. We are talking, in other words, of totalitarianism, of the evil that is communist totalitarianism.
The damage that totalitarianism has done to humanity defies articulation. Totalitarianism and communism have the effect of degrading, drying out, and wearying the lives of the societies that has had the misfortune of suffering under them. As a sociologist friend of mine who lives in Cuba once stated, it is a radical attack to the human soul. And here is the perversion, the most terrible injury to societies that live under communism, because the evil of totalitarianism is beyond mere physical violence. It is the slow destruction of peoples, the conversion of peoples who live under it into mere subjects who -through oppression- cannot assume the role of citizens. This is an evil that is able to mask itself, that is so difficult to understand for those who have always lived in freedom, and that slowly works its destruction and degradation through entire generations.
Those of you present here who have lived under a communist dictatorship may remember the feeling of unreality, of the nightmare of life under communism; as well as the desperate loneliness, and constant presence of fear in that life. You may recall the eagerness with which the news from abroad is expected, and then the bitter disappointment and demoralization produced by the silence that very often surrounds the atrocities committed by the system. This system that renders the majority unable to resist the positions of double standard and duplicity that pervade their whole reality. In particular you may recall the extreme importance of external support, the one that often prevents total despair, brutal repression, surrendering, and sometimes death.
Yet, the faith that sustains the aspiration to liberty subsists in the darkness of totalitarianism. Although most accept their fate, though moral and spiritual degradation is the norm in communist societies, the belief in freedom of some is notwithstanding able to change the reality.
However, such faith needs the support from outside to survives, grows and succeeds. Those who are now trying to make freedom once again a reality in Cuba, need the support of the democracies of the world, they need to know that the free world stretches out its hand to them, that the outrages of repression do not find a complicit silence abroad, and that the democrats of the world, especially the liberals, assume their responsibility to the uncompromising defense of freedom.
From this inescapable responsibility, that responsibility essential to the very existence of the liberals, I then ask for support for my country.
As a delegate of the Cuban Liberal Union, on behalf of our president, Carlos Alberto Montaner, vice president of the organization that brought us together now, and as a Cuban citizen, I ask you to issue a resolution condemning the repression against those who peacefully are defending freedom in Cuba. I also ask the representatives of the Liberal Parties present here to reach out to your countries’ governments and relay your concern about the Cuban situation, and solicit your parliaments to issue motions condemning the repression against those who are trying to make freedom a reality in Cuba.
I particularly want to enlist the support of the British liberals. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and North Ireland, the cradle of liberal ideas, cannot, must not attend passively to human rights violations, to the absurdity and destruction that befall all orders of society and are a constant of life in Cuba. Now, here, under the shadow of so many great personalities who made it possible for the idea of freedom to spread across the globe, I ask the British Liberal Democratic Party not to abandon the Cubans.
I ask you, as members of the coalition in the current government of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, to highlight to the Prime Minister and the rest of the cabinet in government, your concern about the violence and repression experienced by Cuban democrats. To ask the Foreign Secretary to instruct the British Ambassador in Havana to give every assistance possible to the freedom fighters in Cuba. I urgently implore you to present in the House of Commons a motion asking for a resolution condemning the repression of the Cuban government against its citizens, in order to make it clear to the Cuban government and to international public opinion, that the UK does not condone or remain silent about the lack of freedom, the dictatorship that has enshrouded Cuba for more than 50 years.
I ask you finally, like liberals, to assume the responsibility of freedom in Cuba.
It is absolutely necessary and appropriate to do this now. We must not wait until the repression collects more victims, it must not be allowed that more men and women continue to be imprisoned, harassed, persecuted for expressing their opinions, for aspiring to a better country; that a nation continues being deprived of the possibility of joining the community of democracies of the world due to the whim and obstinacy of those who have no other aim than to hold on to power at any cost.
Here, in the very fact of doing what is right and necessary, lies the essence of our responsibility to freedom, to the belief that is the very reason of the existence of the liberal parties, the belief in freedom.
The support for the Cuban democrats is not a matter of delay or oblivion; those who struggle for freedom in Cuba, who suffer the disgrace of living under communism, urgently need the help of the liberals of the world. They need that help not in a year, not in a month, but now, at this moment, at this hour.