THE DISSIDENTS’ GALA
By Manuel E. Yepe*
In the first half of December 2006, several events took place simultaneously in Havana, which highly impressed a married couple of Latin-American friends visiting Cuba for the first time.
They arrived on time to witness the military parade and the popular demonstration for the 50th Anniversary of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, which were also the culmination of the events for the celebration of Fidel Castro’s 80th birthday, organized by the Guayasamin Foundation, from Ecuador. They went back to their country after the 28th edition of the New Latin-American Film Festival ended. In this Festival, more than one hundred films were in contest, and a large number of cinema stars from the continent and their best film makers also participated. My friends felt happy to have chosen this time of the year for learning not only about the landscape, but also about the soul of this nation, so vilified for such a long time by the media of their country.
On Sunday evening, while we were talking about the activities of the day and about the presence in Cuba of the writer Gore Vidal with a very outstanding group of intellectuals from the United States, as well as about the attendance of a delegation of US congressmen from both parties that alternate power in that nation, they decided to check on the Internet to see if the press from their country was properly showing what was causing such a great impression on them.
When they did so, they burst out in annoyance when they found on the first page of the main newspaper of their country, of liberal approach, just a note with a very striking title:
“ Dissidents Beaten in Cuba on the Day of Human Rights ”.
The Spanish news agency EFE, reported as follows:
“Groups akin to the Cuban government, using violence, avoided yesterday the celebration of a peaceful march summoned by a group of dissidents in Havana, coinciding with the International Day of Human Rights. Incidents took place when about one dozen persons, called by the National Patriotic Front, tried to march through a park in the Havana section of Vedado, where about 200 persons participated in trainings on the National Defense Day. The dissidents, without posters or banns, could start their route around the park, but when they were about half-way, they started being insulted and later attacked by revolutionary sympathizers that jumped on the march calling “Long live the Revolution!” and “Long Live Fidel”.
"How is it possible that with so many really interesting news features taking place here, only such an irrelevant thing is published?" asked he.
But his wife gave a view from another angle: "How is it possible that authorities here permit that a dozen dissidents come to bother a large group of citizens precisely when they are fulfilling the civic duty of training themselves to defend their threatened homeland?"
I then explained that this type of show is not unusual and that, with no more information about the incident, it was possible to decode the news published in these terms:
“On the Day of Human Rights, the US Interests Section, after summoning reporters and photographers from all the foreign and local media in Havana, instructed a group of regular “dissidents” to make an antigovernment demonstration and chose the same place and timing where a centrically located neighborhood would be holding their military training exercises, as part of preparations to fight a home-by-home battle by all the population in case of a foreign aggression. As it always happens when such provocations take place, the neighbors themselves were the ones to answer and the police only intervened in case that people exceed in their indignation and may cause physical damage to the “dissidents”, who are always the same well known persons that have this as their means of subsistence.”
The greater part of the multimillionaire budget that the US Administration yearly allocates “for the promotion of democracy in Cuba” stays in Miami, increasing the wealth of the leaders of the ultra right Cuban American organizations. But a small part of it gets through to the groups mobilized by the US Interests Section in Havana, in fact, the sole leader of the Cuban opposition.
Governmental organizations as USAID and NGOs as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which are actually CIA covert organizations, as well as other subversion, intelligence and counterintelligence agencies, are being used to channel these funds by different ways.
In Cuba, as in any other democratic order, all citizens have the right to disagree from the governmental policies and decisions, based on the principle that the government responds to the will of the majority of the citizens and not necessarily to all the citizens.
Dissidents can use multiple means to express their disagreement in a peaceful way and in the framework established by law. Furthermore, the Cuban socio-political system, stemming from its participatory character, considers a large number of spaces and ways to convey suggestions and discrepancies. These scenarios could be wider, but the hostile policies that the different US administrations have practiced towards Cuba limit them.
As all national legislations establish, Cuban laws require that any actions opposing the national establishment must be absolutely independent from any alien government, as an elemental requisite of respect to national sovereignty, legal equity among states and non-intervention in national matters.
In all countries, without exceptions, the attitude towards national citizens registered as agents of alien governments is completely different, because they do not have the rights that the dissidents have. National legislations restrict the spaces of the former, limiting their movements in a way in which they cannot go where they want or talk to whoever they decide.
In those cases where there is an open hostility between the national government and the one whom the agents serve, they are put on permanent vigilance by the national authorities to guarantee that they abide to the strict space to which their movements have been limited to. There is also a call to the population to collaborate in their vigilance, as a form of expressing patriotism.
Therefore, in order to understand the situation of the so called “Cuban dissidents” portrayed by the foreign media, mainly the one controlled or influenced by the campaigns orchestrated by the US against the Revolution during the last fifty years, it is necessary to determine their true identity.
Are they really dissidents or are they agents of an alien and hostile country?
If they were actually honest citizens with points of view differing from the official ones wanting to express their views to contribute to rectify some governmental policies or directives; if they were persons willing to peacefully meet with other citizens who also disagree with the course taken by the nation in order to solve the difficulties that the society is suffering; if they would have no links of dependence with a foreign government; if they were not moved by material stimulus or promises to be accepted in other countries in response to their opposing activities, or if they were not instructed by alien sources, then they could be considered “dissidents”. In that case, they would be respected as such category deserves, in spite of the fact that the US policy towards Cuba has disparaged this term to an extent that is has been assimilated in the feelings of Cubans to the term “mercenary”.
These “Cuban dissidents”, who are really nothing but agents of a clearly hostile government that has been fighting an undeclared war against the government of this nation and its citizens for more that 48 years, have never been prosecuted for expressing ideas or thinking different. In fact, the treatment they are granted is an evidence of the very high grade of humanitarianism of the Cuban revolutionary project.
It should be taken in consideration that it is not any foreign government that these agents serve but a superpower that for more than 40 years has publicly declared its intention to overthrow the Cuban government, has attempted against the life of its leaders and presently has official plans to promote and finance the dismounting of the social order that Cubans have given themselves with great sacrifices. They serve a government that has no respect whatsoever for the international law and considers itself on top of the United Nations for whose decisions it has no respect at all.
In practice, the dissidents’ farce -the alleged opposition party leaders; independent journalists; independents librarians; and the self proclaimed human rights watchers- have absolutely no representativeness or support in any place except in Miami.
When they exceed the limits of tolerance set to them by Cuban authorities and incur in serious crimes and, therefore, they are sentenced to prison following every criminal and procedural warranty established by Cuban laws, the media serving the US campaign against Cuba calls them “prisoners of conscience”.
Ultimately, the individuals identified as “Cuban dissidents” by the media that constantly denigrates the Cuban revolution do not constitute a new category in Cuban history, because this country has suffered opportunist annexationism as an endemic evil since its first wars for independence. Those now existing are unprincipled persons that serve the enemies of their motherland and objectively obstruct the development of Cuban socialist democracy, constantly moving towards its improvement since 1959 until our days.
*Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and social scientist. He is an Associate Professor at the Raul Roa Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana. He served as Ambassador, Director General of the Prensa Latina News Agency, Vice President of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television, founding National Director of UNDP’s Technological Information Pilot System (TIPS) in Cuba and Secretary of the Cuban Peace Movement.
Havana, January 2007.
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