Monday, April 14, 2003

With Cuba on my mind, I've been googling around rather more than usual today, & offer the following, in more or less random order:

A statement on recent events in Cuba by the Committee to Protect Journalists; a letter to Fidel Castro from the International Press Institute; a statement by the International Federation of Journalists.


A report from the organisation Friends of Cuban Libraries on the arrest of fourteen independent librarians & the confiscation of thousands of books during the recent crackdown on dissidents. (Another report on this site says that Animal Farm & Nineteen Eighty-four are, appropriately, among the most popular books distributed by Cuba's independent library movement.)


A report from Reporters sans frontieres on the protest action undertaken in Paris on 4 April by activists from that organisation. (Read RSF's 2002 annual report on Cuba here.)


From Oswaldo Paya's speech to the European Parliament last December, on the occasion of his receiving the Sakharov Prize:

I have not come here to ask you to support those who oppose the Cuban Government or to condemn those who persecute us. It is of no help to Cuba that some people in the world side with the country's government or with the latter's opponents on the basis of an ideological standpoint. We want others to side with the Cuban people--with all Cubans--and this means upholding all their rights, supporting openness, supporting our demand that our people should be consulted via the ballot box regarding the changes we are calling for....

There are still those who perpetuate the myth that the exercising of political and civil rights is an alternative to a society's ability to achieve social justice and development. They are not mutually exclusive. The absence of any civil and political rights in Cuba has had serious consequences such as inequality, the poverty of the majority and privileges of a minority and the deterioration of certain services, even though these were conceived as a positive system to benefit to the people....

This state of affairs cannot be justified by saying that the Cuban people have adopted this system out of choice. You will all know that none of the peoples represented in this Parliament, and no people in the world, would ever give up the right to exercise their fundamental freedoms.

A democracy is not genuine and complete if it cannot initiate and sustain a process that raises the quality of live of all its citizens, because no people would freely vote for the kind of poverty and inequality that results in the masses becoming disadvantaged and marginalised.... any method or model which purportedly aims to achieve justice, development and efficiency but takes precedence over the individual or cancels out any of the fundamental right leads to a form of oppression and to exclusion and is calamitous for the people.

(Reproduced in the English-language section of the magazine Carta de Cuba, published out of Puerto Rico.)

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