I get a lot of email about Cuba. It’s hard to read it all. A lot of it is in Spanish, so I have to really be interested in the content to spend the time to translate it. Well tonight I received one such email. It’s a letter from Independent Journalist, Jaime Leygonier Fernández to Teresa Heinz-Kerry. Two things struck me about this letter. First off, how well it is written and how cutting the author’s remarks are at the end. The other is the method in which it was written. A God-knows-how-many-years-old typewriter was used. Notice how the typewriter is missing the “R” key and all Rs had to be hand-written. He could have hand-written the entire letter but I assume he felt it would be more professional type-written. Also look at the paper he used. These miserable pieces of scrap paper, that don’t even match each other, were probably among this writer’s most prized posessions along with that typewriter.
What follows is my best translation of the letter. UPDATE: I was given some corrections to the translation which have been incorporated below.
Havana, March [sic] 6th 2006
Mrs. Teresa Heinz-Kerry:
Directors, shareholders and person related to I.G.C. and A.P.C.:
All persons that sympathize with a man who dies for protesting the denial of his rights:
I direct these comments firstly to Mrs. Heinz-Kerry and the above mentioned entities because for benevolent or profit motives you connected the Cuban government to the Internet which permits said government to privilege a few with state permits to communicate via Internet while discriminating against the majority of Cubans. Effectuating propaganda internationally to deceive world public opinion about the problems and violations of human rights occurring in Cuba. Influencing with its propaganda to achieve its well known ends of exporting the Cuban “model” so that it can metastasize in [Latin] America and the world.
This Internet connection also permits those fighting for human rights and independent journalists to transmit news about the Cuban reality, communicating by way of foreign embassies, which the State uses to accuse us of being “mercenaries in the service of foreign powers” and jail us under this pretext.
One prisoner of conscience, an independent journalist under house arrest, is about to die because of his hunger strike in which he demands free access to the Internet so he can complete his duties and have the human right to information be observed. A right that is enjoyed by any schoolkid in other countries. His hunger strike has lasted 62 days, and so he may die at any moment, even if he abandons the strike. He was already suffering paralysis as a result of conditions in the presidio in Cuba and other strikes, he now suffers irreversible damage to his health, and quality of life. His name is Guillermo Fariñas Hernandez.
Mistreatment and humiliation drive these extreme protests.
Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, another journalist condemned to 20 years of prison for exercising freedom of the press has joined this protest, beaten by his jailers, he stitched mouth shut on the 23rd of March. On the 30th of March he had been on a hunger strike for 25 days.
Amnesty International is aware of their cases and has classified them as prisoners of conscience, Reporters Without Borders reported this tragedy, and called for the Castro regime to have mercy.
You are involved in the political and discriminatory use of the Internet by the Cuban state, it depends on you for this use.
You can, and I believe you have the moral obligation to, join the call for mercy and to prevent the use of your computer networks for violating such elementary human rights and for use as a mechanism of harassment in the hands of the political police, that will cost Guillermo Fariñas his life because of his act of rebellion.
Do for Fariñas, Herrera Acosta and the Cubans what you would do for any animal in danger of extinction.
I use this example because it seems that the centuries of legalities and the enjoyment of rights and material well-being makes people of certain countries like Canada excessively neutral in the face of these miseries.
Therefore, please pretend that we Cubans are not human beings, but animals whose deaths by hunger and mistreatment can inspire your sympathy.
You can save these lives, plead for rights in Cuba or wash your hands like those Swiss bankers who very neutrally kept in their bank vaults the gold teeth that the Third Reich pulled from the Jews in its concentration camps.
Jaime Leygonier Fernández
Note that although the letter is dated March 6th I believe the author meant April. The lengths of the hunger strikes mentioned in the letter would not match if it were written on March 6th.
Ziva has more.