The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Freedom, democracy and prosperity in Cuba depend on support for Cuban dissidents
Voice of free thinkers in Cuba becoming louder
Vaclav Havel, Former President of the Czech Republic,
Arpad Göncz, Former President of Hungary,
Lech Walesa, Former President of Poland • 18 September 2003

Exactly six months ago today, Fidel Castro's regime imprisoned 75 representatives of the Cuban opposition. More than 40 co-ordinators of the Varela project and over 20 journalists, together with other representatives of various pro-democracy movements, landed in jail. All of them were sentenced in mock trials to prison terms ranging from six to 28 years - merely for daring to express an opinion other than the official one.

Yet the voice of free-thinking Cubans is growing louder, which is precisely what Castro and his government deservedly must be worried about.

Despite the omnipresent secret police and government propaganda, thousands of Cubans have demonstrated their courage by signing the Varela project, which draws on the Cuban constitution and calls for a referendum on the freedom of speech and assembly, the release of political prisoners, the freedom of enterprise and free elections.

The response of the regime to the Varela project, as well as other initiatives, however, is at best disregard and at worst persecution.

The latest wave of confrontations, accompanied by anti-European diatribes by Cuba's political leaders, can be regarded as nothing but an expression of weakness and desperation. The regime is running short of breath - just like what happened to the party rulers in Iron Curtain countries at the end of the 1980s.

Internal opposition is growing - even police raids in March failed to bring it to its knees. The times are changing, the revolution is ageing together with its leaders, the regime is nervous. Castro knows only too well that there will come a day when the revolution will perish together with him.

No one knows exactly what will happen then, but it is clear in Brussels, Washington, Mexico, among the exiles as well as Cuban residents themselves, that freedom, democracy and prosperity in Cuba depend on support for Cuban dissidents, and that such support will increase the chances of Cuba's peaceful transition to democracy.

Today it is the responsibility of the democratic world to support representatives of the Cuban opposition, irrespective of how long the Cuban Stalinists manage to cling to power.

The Cuban opposition must enjoy the same international support as political dissidents did in divided Europe.

It cannot be claimed that the US embargo of Cuba has brought about the desired result. Neither can this be said about the European policy, which has been considerably more forthcoming towards the Cuban regime.

It is time to put aside transatlantic disputes about the embargo of Cuba and to concentrate on direct support for Cuban dissidents, prisoners of conscience and their families.

Europe ought to make it unambiguously clear that Castro is a dictator and that, for democratic countries, a dictatorship cannot become a partner until it begins a process of political liberalisation.

At the same time, European countries should establish a "Cuban democracy fund" to support the emergence of a civil society in Cuba. Such a fund would be ready for instant use in the event of political changes on the island.

Europe's peaceful transitions from dictatorship to democracy, first in Spain and later in the East, have been an inspiration for the Cuban opposition, so Europe should not hesitate now. Its own history obliges it to act.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

18 September 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others
Eamon Sweeney


Members of 32CSM and IRPWA Physically Assaulted by RUC/PSNI
Andy Martin


Report: Belfast Anti Racist Meeting
Davy Carlin


The Shadows
Carrie Twomey


DHSS Lives
Liam O Ruairc


Freedom and Democracy in Cuba Depend on Support for Dissidents
Vaclav Havel, Arpad Göncz, Lech Walesa


Cancun - Whose Setback and Whose Opportunity?
Michael Youlton


How Do You Like Your Elections - Fixed and Murky?
Toni Solo


Armed Struggle
Anthony McIntyre


Republican Sinn Fein commemorates Robert Emmet


16 September 2003


In The Shadow of Fear
Anthony McIntyre


Derry's Disappeared
Deaglán Ó Donghaile


Bangers on the Blanket?
Kathleen O Halloran


Dialectics of Terror
M Shaid Alam


Prison Segregation
Republican Prisoners Support Network


Letter to the Chief Constable
British Irish Rights Watch


A Jackboot on my Presscard
Anthony McIntyre


The Letters Page has been updated.




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