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‘Dictarorships Only Respond to Pressure’: Interview with Cuban Activist Michael Lima

Las dictaduras solo responden a la presión: activista cubano

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Democratic Spaces is a freedom-supporting grass roots project based in Canada and directed by Michael Lima. The idea surged in social media. Its focus is providing awareness to Canadians of the realities of captive nations, particularly Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. For the human rights activist, researcher, and director of the organization, who has lived exiled in Canada since the 1990’s, fighting the false perception of communist regimes among his adopted country’s citizens remains a challenge.

In this interview for El American, Lima emphasized the difficulties of challenging the false perceptions that many Canadians have of communist regimes, particularly, the case of Cuba. Canada never severed relations with the Cuban Marxist dictatorship and consistently has remained one of the Island’s most active trading partners among the Western democracies, as well as a key investment partner and source of tourist dollars for the regime. The current Canadian Prime Minister’s father, Pierre Trudeau, a former prime minister (1968-1979, 1980-1984) was a friend of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and an avowed admirer.  

When asked about the Canadian government’s approach to critiquing human rights violations in Cuba, Lima replies with disappointment that Canada has sought in the Cuban case, to exert pressure through “private channels.”

The worthlessness of these intimate exchanges between the Canadian authorities and the Cuban dictatorship is precisely what Democratic Spaces is trying to change. “Without pressure,” states Lima, “there can be no change.” This must be done in the public realm, the interviewee added.

When the issue of attempting to explain Canada’s morally deviant position and arguably complicit relationship with Cuban communism as a distinctive factor that seeks separation from American foreign policy, Lima notes that nation’s can elaborate their own foreign policy objectives, however, he adds that “human rights are universal.”

Democratic Spaces’ latest project, Petition e-3274, calls upon Canada’s House of Commons to publicly condemn human rights abuses in Cuba and express support for the opposition. This is something that Canada has done with other socialist regimes.

Petition e-3274, should it garner the required signatures by June 16th, 2021, would have the opportunity to implement a policy of solidarity with Cuban human rights activists. Canadians have a right and a moral duty to relay upon their elected officials a change in their governments amoral attitude towards the Castro-Communist regime.

As Lima suggested, all freedom-loving Canadians should partake in this endeavor to align Canada with the civilized course of condemning human rights violations and upholding basic democratic precepts.     

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.

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