Fariñas is arrested

Guillermo Fariñas

Debating and arguing about Cuba, and what the United States should do, is about taking sides.
Do you side not with the dictatorship — sometimes, it is too simplistic to dismiss those who disagree with us as “idiots” — but with the business interests, and their political allies, who see Cuba as an untapped market waiting to be exploited?
Or do you side with the freedom fighters, Cuban men and women of extraordinary courage, like the independent journalist Guillermo “Coco” Fariñas, who again has demonstrated why so many of us are proud to be on his side.
Independent journalist Ahmed Rodríguez Albacia is reporting that Fariñas this past Saturday was arrested and detained for about six hours.
Fariñas, no stranger to the dictatorship, apparently was caught up in a recent roundup of dissidents in Santa Clara. Rodríguez reported that Fariñas was told by police that he was not being allowed to participate in “counter-revolutionary” activities, i.e. a ceremony commemorating the second anniversary of the Marta Abreu Women’s Movement.
During an interrogation at a local jail, a police official told Fariñas that he was considered a “high danger,” to the stability of the dictatorship, and issued the journalist a written warning to stop.
Police, perhaps knowing there is nothing they can do to sway a giant like Fariñas, then gave him a ride home.
Like I said, it’s an easy choice.
Independent journalist Tania Maceda Guerra has more on the recent arrests in Santa Clara.
(Cross-posted at Uncommon Sense)

8 thoughts on “Fariñas is arrested”

  1. May God Bless “Coco,” and all these brave heroes. How can you NOT stand with them? I refuse to settle for the China model, or any model for Cuba that denies freedom for Cubans, I don’t care how many “perks” come with the package. The men and women who are risking their lives for libertad, and all Cuban martyrs deserve all our support and aide. fidel is not running Cuba, the time is now!!!

  2. “sometimes, it is too simplistic to dismiss those who disagree with us as idiots”
    But most often you do. Too often I get the feeling that this blog believes it is impossible to stand for human rights in Cuba without supporting the embargo.
    Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily a simple choice between “siding with the dictatorship” (your euphemism for those who want a diplomatic or commercial opening) and “standing for freedom.” Why can’t I disagree with you on U.S.-Cuba policy – as a number of notable and brave dissidents do – but still stand with those political prisoners fighting for justice? I admit that many of those critical of the embargo look on Cuba as a market, nothing more. But many of us do not. Please don’t insult our intelligence by insisting on a false dichotomy.
    A lot of us want freedom in Cuba no less than Reagan wanted freedom in the Soviet Union. But even he maintained opened diplomacy with the kremlin and engaged the Russians in commercial trade. All U.S. presidents during the Cold War did the same to varying extents.

  3. Busta,
    Please tell me in detail, how will lifting the embargo work against the Cuban government and for the regular Cuban? I really want to know how you view it.

  4. Lori,
    Can’t tell if your comment was sarcastic or not, but I’m going to assume no, as I hope you’re interested in engaging in a discussion. I certainly am.
    First, when I say that I’m critical of the embargo, it doesn’t mean I think that all sanctions are bad. In all honesty, it’s something I struggle with, as do many others I know. I am certainly someone who does not believe that lifting the embargo will bring freedom/democracy 1 2 3. All that bs about flooding Cuba with U.S. tourists and cubans being so impressed with consumerism – i dont buy it – above all because it is ironic. Was it not a perception of U.S. dominance and an overbearing U.S. tourist presence that in part contributed to the nationalist and anti-American sentiment of the so-called Revolution?
    The argument is more of a long term proposal, one which recognizes that sanctions have rarely been effective in bringing about change in repressive societies. South Africa is one exception, you could argue, but those sanctions were supported internationally. U.S. Cuba policy is not, and will not be any time in the future, so it will fail, as it has for the past 50 years, to bring about the change we want to see. As with the Soviet Union, limited trade, diplomacy, and people-to-people exchanges can increase contacts and in the future potentially give the U.S. some leverage when Cubans themselves decided to push for change. Currently, we have none.
    I also believe that freeing up trade and diplomacy may take away the scape goat that the Cuban government uses domestically to explain away all of its problems. Rightly or wrongly, most Cubans I met on the island when I was there for 3 months do believe that the embargo adversely affects them and is responsible for most of the island’s severe economic problems. If there were no embargo, this argument would be moot. Things might improve for a time, but eventually the innate inefficiency of the centralized system would, I hope, build pressures for greater change. In addition, Cuba’s authorities justify their tight hold on government by resorting to a national security rationale. We have an enemy 90 miles from our shores set to destroy us. If that enemy were no longer perceived as the enemy, maybe just maybe Cubans might push for broader change.
    That said, I do feel uncomfortable with this argument because it is “strategic” in nature and does push the majority of Cuba’s every day citizens to the sidelines for the foreseeable future. But I also believe that opening some trade and diplomacy does not mean that the U.S. should stop criticizing Cuba’s human rights record. Nor does it mean that the U.S. should stop supporting dissidents. Again, in the Soviet Union, we did both. In fact, if we were to open trade and diplomacy, other governments that have been loathe to be seen as allied with the U.S. on this issue might be more willing to bring greater pressure to bear on Cuba’s horrible human rights record.
    There are no easy solutions. So I guess I would flip your question on its head. How does the embargo damage the Cuban government and help the everyday Cuban? It does neither in my view. Yes, it denies the government crucial resources. But with high commodity prices, the Chavez oil subsidy, and a general climate of anti-Americanism around the world due to the war in Iraq and other things, the government actually feels quite secure in its global position. It feels confident. The embargo ironically boosts their position strategically rather than hurts it.
    As for the Cuban people, I certainly hold the Cuban government responsible for the island’s current economic disaster. Yet to say that the embargo has had no role in economic suffering is unrealistic. Though the policy was a response to nationalizations, it was designed to undermine the Cuban government by creating economic difficulties and fomenting unrest. Declassified CIA documents say as much. The sad truth is that whatever effects the embargo has had on the Cuban economy (especially in regards to access to medicines and other goods available most easily in the U.S.), those effects have mostly been born by the Cuban people, not the government.
    So is diplomacy and trade a fail safe alternative? Hardly. But it may be better. But aside from this debate, my broader point was simply that those of us who question the embargo or think about alternative approaches are not invariably che-loving commie sympathizers, nor are we incapable of thinking critically about the pluses and pitfalls of our positions. We can be, and many of us are, equally committed to human rights and the freedom of political prisoners.

  5. Busta,
    I was not being sarcastic, and I’m glad you answered.
    You used South Africa as the only time and embargo worked, and you agree that it is because the whole world participated. Why did the whole world participate? The answer is because word was spread throughout the world in one voice.
    If all of us, you included, who feel as strongly as you wrote about the atrocities the Cuban regime has done for the past 50 years, were to get together and denounce said regime, instead of bicker wether the embargo is good or bad, we’d get the whole world to back us up. The bickering only serves to send a mixed message to the world. It is enough we have to contend with that crap propaganda which is unified and the one reason why it hass kicked us in the butt for so many years. Why instead of wanting the US to lift the embargo don’t we make it a point or a goal for the rest of the world to see the truth and support the embargo? Why can’t we be as unified and as strong in our conviction to bring the truth to the world as the propagandists?

  6. Lori,
    We can try to get everyone to rally behind us and impose similar sanctions. But when the U.S. tried this is the early 60s, it failed. Cuba was kicked out of the OAS and still is, but countries in the hemisphere gradually reestablished diplomatic relations, often for domestic political reasons. Call me a cynic, but I just dont think its practical or feasible to unite the world around the embargo. Not going to happen. Given that reality, what policy makes the most sense? I dont think it’s the one we have. It just gives the Cuban government cover for its failures and abuses.
    For me it’s not about bickering at all. My point was simply that the embargo isn’t the same as denouncing the atrocities of the regime, and one doesn’t have to support the embargo to denounce the atrocities of the regime. That is often overlooked.
    And I agree the whole word should be able to stand behind our denunciations of the Cuban regime independent of whether or not the embargo exists. But this is unfortunately again not feasible. The embargo itself, because it is so polarizing, often prevents this kind of collaboration. As such, it cannot be ignored. Moreover, because the embargo’s impact (or at least the perception of its impact) in Cuba influences Cubans’ opinions of the U.S./Cuban-Americans, it is intimately related to any effort at national reconciliation in the future.

  7. Busta,
    I don’t see how lifting the embargo can help anyone other than the Cuban government, just as it helped the Chinese government entrench itself in China. There is no hope of China ever coming out of that system, and there are still political prisoners there, there are still dissidents and there is still only one political party. That is inevitably what Cuba would become if we lifted the embargo.
    Travel? There has been almost no restrictions on travel to Cuba for the better part of the last 25 years and it has brought absolutely no change in Cuba. It has on the other hand brought much more corruption and inequality. The differences between living in Havana and living in any other town have never been so different or unequal, as they are today.
    Lifting the embargo only means that US businesses can conduct business with the CUBAN government on credit, it will not allow the regular Cuban to do business with any foreign entity. Lifting the embargo means extending credit to the same government that already has 60 billion dollars in unpaid debt world wide. The rest of the world has continued to do business with Cuba and it has not helped the Cubans, because Cubans are not the ones conducting business.
    Why should I support a move that would only serve to authenticate an illegal government and create a massive debt to my country, the same country that took my parents in? Why should I support a move that would put more cash into the pocket of the very people responsible for the deaths of some of my family memebers? Why should I support a move that would help the very people who have Dr. Oscar E. Biscet in prison? Why should I support a move that would only serve to enslave Cubans even more than they already are?
    We can try to convince each other ’til we’re both blue in the face. I won’t see it your way and you won’t see it my way.
    Regards,

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