Esta entrada también está disponible en: Español
By a count of 393 to 150, the European Parliament voted on Thursday, December 16, to condemn the communist regime in Cuba for its brutal crackdown following the Civic March for Change (15N) on November 15. Even including the 119 abstentions, the European deputies solidly supported chastising the Cuban dictatorship’s reaction to the popular demands for systemic change on the island. Additionally, the parliament’s declaration called for the release of the over 800 political prisoners languishing in jail since the 11th of July Cuban Insurrection (11J).
The same day, the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) issued a statement requisitioning the unconditional release of Cuban political prisoners. In the document, the OAS General Secretariat also stated that it “urges Cuba to immediately allow a visit to the country by a Humanitarian Mission of the universal and/or inter-American system for the protection of Human Rights that can verify the state and situation of political prisoners.”
These diplomatic courses are of great moral fortitude. The symbolism behind the world’s most successful democracies repudiating Castro-Communism’s survival maneuvers exercised against the Cuban people is impacting. Are they, however, sufficient remedies? Can diplomatic moral reprimands bring about the end, or even the minimization, of human rights abuses? Experience tells us this is not the case when dealing with totalitarian models of political operation.
Dictatorships to survive need to repress and promote inefficacy within the opposition forces. This requires a lot of money. Socialist countries are parasitic and unproductive, except for modern China and Vietnam who have mastered the art of crafting a Marxist-Leninist state with a planned hybrid economy that exploits the market. Directly or indirectly, the free world with its capitalist formulation of the economy generates the wealth that is partially distributed into the coffers of regimes such as that in power in Cuba.
"*" indicates required fields
The European Union’s (EU) public funds continue to benefit Cuban communism. Between 2014 and 2020, the EU’s Multi-annual Indicative Program which is designed to promote “sustainable agriculture and food security”, “climate change” sustainability initiatives, and support for “economic and social modernization” has contributed 50 million euros. None of these focuses will expand civil and political rights for Cubans, the area of major existential threat.
Cuba’s main trading partners are Venezuela, China, Canada, Spain, Brazil, the Netherlands, the United States, México, Italy, France, Germany, and Russia. Venezuela is not really a trading partner, but rather a colony. The Castro-Chavista regime aside, 9 of 11 remaining are democracies which are European and hemispheric. In other words, this group of countries all fall under either the realm of the EU or the OAS. If one were to include the European businesses which invest mightily on the island and help sustain the Cuban Communist Party military-run economy, it can be argued that the moral high ground, when limited to political discourse, is futile.
Here is the bottom line. Cuba is not free and has been under the yoke of a brutal communist dictatorship for over 62 years. Currently, there are well over 800 political prisoners held captive since the 11J protests alone. The Castro regime is levying charges against the peaceful protesters of “public disorder”, “instigation to commit a crime”, “robbery with force”, “resistance”, “assault”, “injury”, “contempt of court”, “damage to property” and “propagation of epidemics.” 137 people, including 13 minors, are facing “sedition” charges which are the most atrocious. These carry sentences of 10 to 20 years and even the death penalty.
The people of Cuba, inside and in exile, appreciate the ethical gesture of support for basic decency. This, however, is insufficient. Why doesn’t the EP and OAS give meaning to their expressed desire that Cuban lives matter? That will take more than speeches and declarations.
Julio M Shiling, political scientist, writer, director of Patria de Martí and The Cuban American Voice, lecturer and media commentator. A native of Cuba, he currently lives in the United States. Twitter: @JulioMShiling // Julio es politólogo, escritor, director de Patria de Martí y The Cuban American Voice. Conferenciante y comentarista en los medios. Natural de Cuba, vive actualmente en EE UU.