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Cuba: Halt Repression in Advance of Pope’s Visit PDF Print E-mail

HRW: Halt Repression Now

Saturday, March 24, 2012

From Human Rights Watch:

Cuba: Halt Repression in Advance of Pope’s Visit

Archdiocese Should Condemn Abuse of Protesters Expelled from Church

The Cuban government should immediately halt repression aimed at silencing dissent before and during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Cuba, Human Rights Watch said.

Dissidents in Havana, Holguín, Guantanamo, Matanzas, Palma Soriano, Pinar del Río, Sancti Spíritus, and Santiago de Cuba described to Human Rights Watch the repressive tactics currently being used by the Cuban government. They said that when they sought to exercise their basic rights to speak up about human rights concerns and hold rallies over the past few weeks, the authorities responded with beatings, detentions, harassment, and other repressive measures. Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to be in Cuba from March 26 to March 28, 2012, to visit Havana and Santiago de Cuba.

"The arrests, beatings, and threats against dissidents in the lead up to the pope’s visit suggest the Cuban government will do everything in its power to quash any dissent while the world’s attention is on the island,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “These repressive acts underscore just how little space there is in Cuba for any view that doesn’t align with the Castro government.”

State security officers arrested and beat 13 dissidents who were expelled from a Catholic church in Havana, where they had sought refuge while promoting demands to respect human rights in Cuba. Church officials asked government authorities to remove the dissidents, who told Human Rights Watch police threatened them with long prison sentences.

More than 80 women from the Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), a human rights group consisting of wives, mothers, and daughters of political prisoners, were detained when they attempted to march on the anniversary of the Black Spring. During that crackdown, in March 2003, the government sentenced more than 75 independent journalists, human rights defenders, trade unionists, and other dissidents to jail for an average of 19 years under draconian laws for exercising their fundamental rights.

One of the damas described being held with 21 other women for more than four hours in a cell that was so tightly packed that all of the women had to remain standing. They had been detained for participating in a peaceful march, and were beaten by uniformed police officers and civilians in plainclothes before being taken to the police station, she said.

Dissidents in Cuba told Human Rights Watch that government repression, surveillance, and threats have increased in the run up to the pope’s visit. Several of those interviewed told Human Rights Watch they had been denied permission to travel outside of the cities where they lived, as well as warned explicitly that they would be punished severely if they tried to carry out any “counterrevolutionary” activities during the pope’s visit.

Among the episodes described to Human Rights Watch:

- Caridad Caballero Batista, 39, a Dama de Blanco from Holguín, told Human Rights Watch she had been detained on March 16 with her son, Erik Esteban Sández Caballero, 19, and her husband, Esteban Sández Suarez, when they attempted to travel to Havana to participate in marches commemorating the Black Spring. She said she was held in solitary confinement in a small, unsanitary cell without windows for three days. Her husband was imprisoned in a cell with common criminals, she said. He refused to stand up and salute guards as they walked by, as a result of which he was thrown to the ground and beaten.

- Leticia Ramos, 42, a Dama de Blanco from Matanzas, told Human Rights Watch she had been arbitrarily detained three times in the last two weeks and warned that if she attempted to travel to Havana for the pope’s visit, she would be arrested. After a severe beating at the hands of police on March 18, she was taken to a hospital, where a doctor told her that she had a broken rib, which is causing her a great deal of pain, she told Human Rights Watch.

- Rogelio Tavío Ramírez, 22, from Guantanamo, told Human Rights Watch that his father, Rogelio Tavío López, 48, had been detained since March 2. Both are members of the dissident group the Movement of Resistance and Democracy (Movimiento de Resistencia y Democracia). Tavío Ramirez said his father was charged with public disorder and “actions against the norm in the development of a minor” (acciones contra el normal desarrollo del menor) – a crime in Cuba’s Criminal Code that punishes parents and guardians for failing in “their responsibilities related to the respect and love of the homeland” – charges his son said were motivated by his political activities. Rogelio Tavío López has been on hunger strike since he was detained, his son said, to protest what he views as his unjust prosecution and the fabricated charges against him.

- Obel Luís Ramos Acosta, 28, who founded a dissident group in Santiago, Cuba, told Human Rights Watch he was recently detained for handing out copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and an independent – and therefore illegal – publication called the “Voice of the East” (La Voz de Oriente). He said he was held incommunicado and without charge for three days at a police station, where he was beaten and ordered amid threats to abandon his activities.

On March 13, the 13 dissidents occupied the Basílica Menor de La Caridad – a Roman Catholic church in Havana. They told Human Rights Watch they had gone to the church hoping it would provide a refuge from which to issue a call for fundamental rights. Their call, which included demands of respect for freedom of speech, assembly, and access to information, would have led to their arrest and punishment if made in public, they said.

In a news release issued on March 14, a representative of the Archdiocese of Havana said that, “No one has the right to convert churches into political trenches,” and called the dissidents’ action “illegitimate and irresponsible.” The archdiocese issued another news release on March 15 saying Cardinal Jaime Ortega had “appealed to the corresponding authorities to invite the occupants to abandon the church.”

According to the archdiocese’s news release, the dissidents left the church voluntarily when government authorities arrived. The archdiocese also said the Cuban government had assured church officials that the dissidents would be transferred to a police station and then to their homes, and that they would not be punished.

However, four dissidents in the group told Human Rights Watch that dozens of police officers beat the activists inside the church, forcibly ejected them, and transported them to a police station. There, they were forcibly strip-searched in front of police officers, which they found humiliating and degrading.

The dissidents said they were then shown a case file that featured their names and outlined charges against them, which authorities told them could be used to prosecute them under the Law for the Protection of Cuban National Independence and the Economy. That law punishes any action deemed to support, facilitate, or advance the objective of the US embargo on Cuba. Police warned the dissidents they could be prosecuted after the pope leaves.

The dissidents were returned to their homes on the morning of March 16. They told Human Rights Watch that they have suffered persistent harassment by authorities ever since. Several of their family members have been beaten or threatened, they said. And on March 20, when the 13 dissidents were meeting in a home they use for gatherings, a police chief arrived and told them they would be arrested again if they did not immediately return to their individual homes. They said church officials have made no effort to contact them since they were expelled from the church and detained.

“When dissidents went to the church to seek sanctuary and express their views, church officials turned them over to the very government authorities from whom they were seeking refuge,” Vivanco said. “The least church authorities can do now is to condemn the entirely predictable abusive response by the police, and call on the government to end its harassment of these and other peaceful dissidents.”

A Cuban's Prayer for Pope Benedict-THE WALL STREET JOURNAL PDF Print E-mail

A Cuban's Prayer for Pope Benedict

What will the Castro brothers hear during the first papal visit in over a decade?

Havana, Cuba

Next week, Pope Benedict XVI is coming here to Cuba, marking the first papal visit to my country in over a decade. During the planned three-day trip, His Holiness is set to meet with both Castro brothers and their subordinates, and to bring his spiritual message to the Cuban people.

The stakes couldn't be higher. This trip is a unique opportunity for the leader of the Catholic Church to leverage his considerable prestige and influence to support the oppressed and help the Cuban people claim our liberty and establish democracy.

My country continues to be run by a brutal regime that oppresses the people, systematically violating our basic freedoms. That regime is a relic of the Cold War, and there's little hope for change without substantial international pressure.

Cuba is a police state. Government agents spy on and harass anyone advocating for human rights. They beat and imprison anyone seeking peaceful political change. They arbitrarily arrest and detain Cubans for Orwellian infractions like "disrespecting patriotic symbols" and "insulting symbols of the fatherland."

Cuban state security closely monitors citizens' daily life, including all of our incoming mail, telephone calls and emails. The only legal press and the only newspaper are run by the dictatorship. Independent journalists who seek to challenge state propaganda are threatened and jailed.

Cuban jails are living hells in which flagrant violations of human dignity occur daily. I've spent over 12 years incarcerated, most recently for "crimes against state security"—that is, asking the Cuban state to respect the fundamental human rights of every Cuban citizen.

Related Video

Columnist Mary O'Grady on the Pope's visit to Cuba and decision not to meet with dissidents.


The prison system in Cuba flagrantly violates the minimum requirements for prisoner care established by the United Nations. During my years in prison, I personally witnessed prisoners left for 12-24 hours with their hands and feet handcuffed behind their backs, stripped naked in groups without any regard for human modesty, tortured physically and psychologically with tasers, beaten to death for requesting basic medical attention, and kept for months in cells without ventilation, natural light, drinkable water or restroom facilities.

If prisoners attempt to push for better treatment, they risk death. In one case in 2010, on the second floor of the Combinado del Este prison in Havana, a young prisoner who suffered from two chronic medical conditions—asthma and cardiac problems related to valve pathologies—was beaten and died after complaining that he was not allowed to see a doctor. While I was imprisoned, three prisoners tried to assassinate me on different occasions. Two of them later told me that they had been hired to do so by military officials.

I continue to witness the personal ruin that the regime inflicts on anyone who offers an alternative voice. For me, the harassment started in 1998 when, while giving a conference at a hospital on the right to life, I was violently attacked and expelled by a mob dispatched by the Communist Party. Since then, I've been denied the ability to practice medicine.

My wife and son have had their lives threatened and have been pressured to abandon me. We have been evicted from our house. I had my right foot fractured from a beating by state police.

Yet there are still thousands of brave Cubans standing up to the Castro brothers and demanding their basic rights, even under threat of torture and death. Our ranks are growing. But we need the help of the international community.

The Arab Spring is simply the latest demonstration that organic, people-driven democratic change is possible. In past years we have seen peaceful, democratic movements succeed in the rest of Latin America and in the former Soviet bloc. In most places, their advent has brought freedom, national reconciliation and prosperity. We can achieve the same results in Cuba, and we will do just that—building a Cuba where the people are free and sovereign.

The international community, for its part, has the responsibility to provide the attention and diplomatic resources that the movement can't muster from here.

The Pope's visit is important because the Catholic Church has played a crucial role in expanding and protecting Cuban freedoms in the past. My own most recent release from prison, along with that of other dissidents, was chiefly negotiated by the Catholic Church.

For those of us desiring a free Cuba, our demands are simple: free speech, freedom of association and assembly, free and fair multiparty elections, and a country from which no person will ever again be exiled for political beliefs.

Pope Benedict's visit represents a unique opportunity for the Cuban people to pressure their tyrants to hold elections in which all Cubans can unite with the free and democratic countries of the world. I ask Pope Benedict to focus on this idea so that there can be rapid change in my country, and so we can live in freedom. I pray that he will succeed.

Dr. Biscet, a physician, is president of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights. While in prison in 2007, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.



Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet

President of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights

Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Your false sense of tranquility is transfigured quickly. Could not withstand the challenge of state policy. He did not mind at all that the judgment was supported by twenty Heads of State or Government. He thought that angry and yell insults against the president of a nation would slow the resolution condemning the terrorist group ETA.

These unusual events occurred during the Tenth Ibero-American Summit in Panama in 2000. Starring the irascible and profane President Fidel Castro. The victim of unjustified verbal, Salvadoran President Francisco Flores. The latter, by deploying their Christian principles, followed the advice of King Solomon: "Answer a fool according to his folly lest he be wise in his own eyes."

All the deep knowledge acquired by Flowers in the universities of Oxford and Harvard in the U.S., more the domain of philosophical thought Hinduism, served to maintain equanimity and respond wisely profundad this despicable dictator who behaved like a madman.

On many previous occasions Castro had used language in their diplomatic exchanges despotic and violated the civilized standards of conduct and protocol in its dealings with other heads of states. The most noticeable when the publicity given to private telephone conversation with President of Mexico Vicente Fox His attitude was treacherous revenge on the Mexican president who asked not to create an embarrassing situation with then-President Bush at the Monterrey conference in April 2002.

When some think these are the characteristics of the temperament of the Caribbean dictator are not far from reality. But the tragedy is not just about his character but his ability to have printed the same kind of intolerance to a totalitarian system that has led more than half a century.

In a related matter, on 16 February this year I was honored to testify at the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, the Subcommittee on Africa, General Health and Human Rights. One of the things I discussed was my support for the independence of the Kosovar people. And claimed the same solidarity with the Cuban people in their struggle for freedom and democracy.

This sincere and worthy desire, plus the strong criticism of the Stalinist dictatorship that oppresses castro my country, unleashed in the faithful spokesmen of the regime a number of comments not only false that distorted my statements but even the world history.

Let's review the words with the same accuracy when they were exposed at the time:

"Tomorrow we will celebrate with pride the fourth anniversary of the independence of Kosovo. Five years ago you Americans promised him the strong support for Albanian independence. They did it with such conviction, honor and love that many countries joined in this just cause and triumphed. "

"This is the support that I ask of you to my people be free and sovereign."

The Yeomen of the tyrannical regime have been saying that the U.S. Congress asked the military intervention in Cuba a la Kosovo or bombing my country like NATO to Serbia. To reinforce that idea tildarme went as far as mentally ill as did his Fuhrer Fidel Castro in 1999.

Although baseless all these words are said to confuse and stifle the hopes of freedom of the Cuban people live under the constant lies and deliberate misinformation of the Castro government. These parrots underpaid should know that history can be twisted to benefit the whims of despots because it would be itself without its scientific foundations. Let's see.

In the historiography described here there are two moments on Kosovo independent of each other. The first related to the Kosovo War in 1999, and the other with its Declaration of Independence, in 2008.


Slobodan Milosevic was president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, comprising Serbia, including Kosovo and Montenegro, 1997-2000. He was a communist and based its power on the Serbian nationalist exaltation. Her dreams of creating the Great Serbian Empire and the Great Serbia were frustrated to see the disintegration of their nation.

Moreover, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia consisted of six autonomous republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) from 1945 to 1992. Milosevic revoked the autonomy of the province of Kosovo in 1989. The central government of Serbia began promoting a policy of terror and ethnic cleansing against Kosovo Albanians in 1998.

In order to stop the carnage, the United Nations declared Milosevic guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. After the failure of negotiations to resolve by political and diplomatic ways this conflict, NATO and other countries intervened militarily in Yugoslavia between March and June 1999.

Resolution 1244 of the Security Council of the UN gave the green light to stop the crimes of Milosevic maintained the status quo in the province of Kosovo in Serbia. A multinational force was deployed for peacekeeping in Kosovo (KFOR). The twenty-six NATO member countries and seven non-members of this pact formed the KFOR.

As a result of this initiative, Milosevic was handed over by the government of his country to the Hague International Tribunal for the crimes charged in the conflicts in Kosovo, Croatia (1991-1992) and Bosnia (1992-1995). The process began in February 2002, but could not be concluded by his sudden death on March 11, 2006.

This butcher of the Albanians and disciple Hitler, escaped the punishment of human tribunals, but not the condemnation of history, let alone the justice of God.


In this period there was peace on this land. Kosovo's parliament declared independence unilaterally on Feb. 17, 2008, and formed the Democratic Republic of Kosovo. According to Hashin Thaci, prime minister, the republic is characterized as "democratic, multiethnic and non-discriminatory" and said "respect for minorities and human rights and citizens under the European convention of human rights."

In 2007 President George Bush was received by the Albanian people in Fushe Kruje near Tirana. They promised the independence of Kosovo and entry into NATO of Albania. Both are realities today. The Albanians received him with much love and joy that the tyrant in chief of Cuba bother with this beautiful fact. The proposal for Kosovo's independence promoted by Bush, was supported by 69 countries of the 192 that make up the United Nations. And until February 10, 2012 the 88 countries supported.

There were, however, contradictory situations like the fact that countries that participated in the military campaign such as Spain, Slovakia and Greece, no later acknowledged the sovereignty of Kosovo. Another unexplained event was that the Kosovo Albanians declared independence in 1990 was recognized only by their ethnic brethren Albanians. This is a town of religious Muslim majority and I think Bush, a true hero and he erected a statue in Fushe Kruje in 2011.

In another of these strange events of history, the United States supported the independence of Albania in 1912, as opposed to predatory European powers did their best to erase the map of Europe to the Albanians.

Likewise, the International Court of Justice in The Hague said the Kosovo declaration of independence did not violate international law, nor resolution 1244 the Security Council of the United Nations.

Serbia with a new policy approach but has not recognized Kosovo, has stated that it was a legal process. Both countries are interested in joining the European Union. Russia, China, Iran, Cuba and a few others refuse to recognize that independence.

Castro-Stalinist dictatorship has been involved with many events evil of mankind as the refusal to recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Albanian people, one of the oldest in Europe.

But the spokesmen of the autocratic regime of Havana have never questioned why F. Castro had given him the highest distinction of the State Council, the Order of Jose Marti, the infamous character despised by their people as Nicolae Ceausescu, Eric Honecker, Robert Mugabe and Muammar Gaddafi.

My thoughts related to freedom and democracy for Cuba has been exposed very clearly in my writings and statements. As a devoted disciple of Gandhi say: "We must be the expression of our proposals." This is the true meaning of my life and the main reason to stand firm in fighting for the freedom of my country and for human rights in the world

Cuba’s Conscience PDF Print E-mail
March 12, 2012
Oscar Biscet in his own words


On March 11, 2011 Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet was released from a maximum-security prison outside Havana. The release of Dr. Biscet, who had spent all but 36 days of the past 11 years in a Cuban prison cell, was negotiated with the help of the Catholic Church and the government of Spain. Dr. Biscet has been called the number-one enemy of the Castro brothers for his non-violent opposition to the Cuban government’s human rights violations and its systematic use of forced abortion. In 2007, Dr. Biscet received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the United States, and he is a finalist for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. Because the Cuban government allows its citizens only very limited use of the Internet and other technologies, this interview with CWR was conducted over several weeks and has been translated from Spanish into English.

[Editor's Note: This interview originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of Catholic World Report.]


Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet

Six months have now passed since you were released from prison. Can you tell us what this time has been like for you and your family, both spiritually and in terms of everyday life?

Oscar Biscet: You mention two important terms in this question—one is freedom and the other one is the family. Both of them are the product of God’s boundless love for human beings. In the Book of Genesis it says: “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness’… male and female he created them.” This poetic expression encompasses a profound philosophy and a scientific approach to understanding the world, so necessary nowadays for the behavior of the human race. God is the father of the human family and a paradigm of absolute freedom in the universe. For that reason I positively value having been released in order to be able to live daily life, good [and] bad, with my wife and with the rest of my family—and above all to be able to [work for] fundamental rights for my family and for my people.

Of the 75 opposition leaders, journalists, and librarians arrested during Cuba’s 2003 Black Spring, you were one of the last prisoners of conscience to be released. Can you describe the process of your release? During this process, you consistently refused release in exchange for exile. Was that a difficult decision?

Biscet: The process for my release was long, traumatic, and distressing for many.… The institutions involved were not able to carry out a balanced negotiation to benefit the political prisoners while they were waiting to be released. I had made the decision not to leave my country 14 years ago, when in 1998, I was expelled from the hospital where I was working for the mere fact that I peacefully defended the life of the unborn children. They also retaliated against my family. Friends from other nations offered me political asylum but I rejected their proposals. This was very hard because at that time my relatives were being tortured by the Castro regime.

Can you describe your emotions after finally being released in March?

Biscet: It was very pleasant. I was happy and calm because I was returning to my home. At the same time, I was worried, as I had my hopes pinned on [securing] human rights and the freedom of the Cuban people.

How are inmates, both political prisoners and general prisoners, treated inside Cuban prisons? Do you have any stories to share from your time as a prisoner of conscience?

Biscet: The penitentiary system in Cuba is a clear reflection of the socialist society. They violate all the international agreements on human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. In Cuban prisons [the government] tortures [inmates] and provides cruel and inhuman treatment to the prisoners. There are many horrible and shameful stories regarding the attitudes of the military staff within the prisons. Usually in prisons we find drug trafficking. One of the ways to obtain [drugs] is to [procure] them from the treatment of sick inmates. On one occasion a prisoner claimed [he needed drugs] for his medical treatment and they denied it. His way to protest was to inflict damage to himself. He cut a small artery of his hand and blood gushed out. The authorities were aware of this case but they did not pay any attention. Given this difficult situation I protested vigorously and only then was he taken to the hospital.

How did you spend your time in prison? How were you able to nourish your spiritual life? How did you remain strong?

Biscet: Before being imprisoned I was a man with a deep love for the God of the Bible. The Jewish-Christian philosophy was part of my daily life and this enabled me to resist with dignity the hard times in prison. I was able to know in practice the merciful love of God through the forgiveness of sins, upholding the humble in spirit over the arrogant, and searching for the best of the human being. Only my faith and hope in that loving God who wants the good for all his sons enabled me to grow in spirit and strengthened me for the ups and downs of life. That is why I was able to succeed and I thank my Lord again and again. Hope is what fills people with optimism and this is what I transmitted to all the inmates. Those who were imprisoned for having committed crimes I encouraged to change their way of life and to be good citizens, which will eventually help to change the nation for good. With reference to the prisoners of conscience, the hope that we would soon be released and that then we would be followed by our people was the conviction that kept [us] happy in that dark world. This state of happiness was reflected in my face, and this was visible and contagious. This profound feeling prevented me from abandoning my homeland and thus destroying the hopes of my people.

After having spent the better part of the last 11 years in prison, do you believe the Cuban government has made any substantial changes in the way it treats its citizens?

Biscet: Currently in Cuba we have the same dictatorship we’ve had during the last 52 years, Castro’s Stalinist dictatorship. What we’ve seen in the country’s government is the succession of one ruler to another. Recently, Fidel Castro was [succeeded] by his brother, Raul. Since then, state terrorism has also increased. They have even beaten women, and they have murdered people, like Orlando Zapata Tamayo and Juan W. Soto, who were [working] in a peaceful manner for human rights. The communist regime is the same as in 1959. It’s repressive, unproductive, and corrupt. Its governor, Raul Castro, has the same characteristics as five decades ago. He’s perverse, cruel, and a murderer.

How do you interpret Raul Castro’s recent decisions to allow limited private jobs and private land?

Biscet: These decisions are due to a profound economic crisis through which his system is going. Don’t take this as a sign of economic freedom, because this process is reversible; besides, there are other cruel dictatorships that have also had private firms, and this has not led to the respect of civil or political rights.

Churches in Cuba are restricted in many ways. Have you witnessed any new opportunities for churches to reach the people with the word of Christ? What is the state of the Cuban people’s faith?

Biscet: Cuba does not have a real religious freedom. You can’t build temples freely. You cannot broadcast the biblical message autonomously. Religious schools are forbidden. Cuban printers have never printed the Bible, and you cannot preach in parks and open spaces. Priests who [object to] their social status are expelled from their institutions due to the pressure exercised by the government. Cuban people desire significant changes in their lives, not just from the economic point of view, but also from a perspective [of] human dignity. That is to say, they desire to have civil and political rights. Until now state terrorism has held back their dreams, but this will not last for a long time. Many of us have [prayed] for the favor of the God of the Bible to accomplish this liberating venture, and we have faith that we will be able to make these dreams come true.

What would you suggest the international communitythe US government, the EUdo to help bring about democratic change in Cuba? Also, what can the leadership of the Catholic Church (both in Cuba and at the Vatican) do to support Christians and those working non-violently for freedom in Cuba?

Biscet: Freedom is the most precious asset that human beings have because it…makes them independent both individually and socially. For this reason, free countries should clearly support people, groups of people, or institutions that [work] for human and fundamental rights. Solidarity with human beings who suffer a dictatorship is ethical and fair, and their support is indispensable. An action like the one carried out for racist South Africa is ideal to help the Cuban people.

I believe that if the Catholic Church honors the legacy of Pope John Paul II…and works together with the long-suffering Cuban people and puts aside the favoritism toward the government of Havana, it would greatly contribute to the freedom of its people. I would very much like [to see] the leaders of the Catholic Church, both in Cuba and the Vatican, encourage the government of [Cuba] to sign and put into practice the international agreement on civil, political, and human rights. They should also urge them to hold free and democratic elections.

What can Christians around the world do to support your cause?

Biscet: The first action of any Christian is to show their solidarity through prayers to the Lord God in favor of all those who suffer. Next, they should inform [others], through any means of communication, [about] the lack of freedom and the violation of basic human rights [in Cuba].

What are your plans for the future? Do you have any initiatives forthcoming?

Biscet: [I will continue to find] feasible ways for my people to live in freedom, peace, and prosperity. This can be attained through the civil nonviolent struggle. That is to say, massive, nonviolent political action that disintegrates the dictatorship and establishes democracy and freedom guaranteed by the democratic rule of law.



Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet

President of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights

Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Senator Jesse Helms introduced the Law of Liberty and Democratic Solidarity with Cuba for approval by the United States Senate in the final days of 1995. To support their important proposal showed his colleagues a list with the signatures of several dissidents living in Cuba. I was honored to be among the pro-democracy activists who risked their lives to find political and moral support and a viable solution for the freedom of the Cuban people.

He was also honorable and patriotic for me to provide testimony a few days directly to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Subcommittee on Africa, General Health, and Human Rights of the House of Representatives of the United States. I was glad to talk to congressmen intellectual and moral stature of Chris Smith, David Rivera, Albio Sires, and Mrs. Smith. It was also exciting to listen to my countryman and brother cause Hernández, as well as knowing the testimony in favor of the prisoners of the communist regime by that great friend of freedom of Cuba who is the representative Dan Burton.

Despite several interruptions by phone calls cuts could explain our need for global solidarity and boost with refreshing blast measures leading to permanent changes designed to achieve democracy and freedom for all Cubans. To expose the importance of the Law of Freedom and its application without exception is a fitting tribute to the spirit of discretion and security of people not only in Cuba but throughout the world.

From the moment I gave my first support for this law knew it would be a precedent and an essential barrier to prevent confiscation of property of a political and / or without compensation by any government in the world. This reaffirmation of support from the moral positions, political, ideological, economic contained in the presentations of numerous academic and scientists of international renown.


Jaime Suchlicki, Professor of History and Director of the Institute of Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami, told the Senate Finance Committee of the United States that lifting the trade embargo and travel ban to Cuba not report benefits of transition to democracy to the Cuban people. The title of his testimony was: "The impact of lifting the embargo and travel ban to Cuba." It was featured on December 11, 2007. Only I will refer to his conclusions and I invite you to read it for its great importance.

"The embargo is not the cause of Cuba's economic misery. What suffocates the Cuban economy is a failed economic system similar to what existed in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and lack of productivity and incentives. "

"Tourism will not take American democracy to Cuba. During the past decade hundreds of thousands American tourists, Canadians and Europeans have visited the island, but Cuba today is not democratic but totalitarian in any case because the state machinery and its control have been strengthened by the influx of tourist dollars. "

"Limited economic reforms took effect in Cuba in the early 1990's. Castro reforms ceased once the economy began to stabilize in 1996 as a result of tourism, foreign investments and remittances of money from Cuban exiles. "

"The embargo and travel ban should remain in negotiating with a future government in the island. Deleting not received any significant concessions in return, the U.S. will be without any influence on events in Cuba. "

"They should keep the embargo and travel ban on Cuba until there is a regime willing to grant concessions irreversible human rights, democratization and market economy. Castro brothers give concessions unilaterally without any real changes on the island is a gift that they do not deserve or have earned. "


Gene Sharp, Ph.D. in political science and director of the Albert Einstein Institute in the United States, has written many books on civil disobedience or nonviolent civic struggle. This intellectual scientific icon nonviolent mass political defiance. Those who want to break up a tyranny with nonviolent methods should study his book "From Dictatorship to Democracy." I am sure that, through its domain and implementation, the Cuban people can open up paths of freedom in the course of their actions not possible by any other method.

Nonviolent struggle is a technique that uses varied and complex political weapons, economic, social and psychological, applied by the people and institutions of society. Governments alone can govern when they have cooperation, submission and obedience of the population and other institutions of society. This in direct terms, there can be no government without consent of the governed. Therefore, the political challenge is the ideal instrument for denying access to the scheme to these sources of power.

Nonviolence requires on the one hand, citizens who have lost their fear and gained greater control over itself. This strengthens their effectiveness against the government and its brutal repression. This loss of fear, or control over himself, is a key element to destroy the power that dictators have on the general population. Keeping non-violent discipline against violent opponents facilitates the work of the four mechanisms of change in nonviolent struggle (conversion, accommodation, nonviolent coercion and disintegration).

The mass noncooperation and defiance can change the political or social situation, so that dictators lose the ability to control the economic, social and political aspects of government and society. Meanwhile, Sharp, lists more than two hundred non-violent methods of struggle reflected in three broad categories:

Method of Protest and Persuasion (54).

Method of Non-Cooperation (social, 16; economic, 49, not political cooperation, 38).

Nonviolent intervention method (how psychological, social, economic and political: 41).

To increase the chances of success, resistance leaders will need to formulate a comprehensive action plan to strengthen the capacity of people suffering, weaken the dictatorship, then destroy, and eventually build a true democracy.

Moreover, the Law of Liberty and Democratic Solidarity with Cuba and Helms-Burton is a paradigm of action for the American people with the Cubans. This law takes the non-economic cooperation on the part of governments that has several sub classifications: domestic embargo, blacklist merchants, vendors Embargo international buyers however, international trade embargo.

Today there are favorable conditions for implementing the political cooperation not communist tyranny in Cuba such as denying the invitation to the Conference of the Americas until they respect the basic freedoms of its people. The dictatorial regime of Castro was in total collapse that led to the paralysis of the country to disappear their economic and political supporters of the European communist camp in the early nineties.

Given this irreversible crisis currencies were provided by capitalist countries that saved the Castro regime and its failure lasted for two decades. Today, despite Chavez's Venezuela is the main financial supporter along with China and various nations of the Western world, the Cuban economy is in stagnation and the edge with possible collapse will be reflected in all spheres of social life .

The supporters of the dictatorship of Havana should think more about the Cuban people and imitate the most successful man among entrepreneurs in real estate in the world, Donald Trump. Fidel Castro invited him to invest with extreme facility unseen elsewhere in the world that violated the fundamental right of ordinary citizens. Trump rejection of the privileged business for not exploiting the misery of the Cuban and further enrich the Castro. These are the real business people that uplift human life.

This is the time to take the Reaganites postulates applied to the Soviet Union. An opportunity to compete in freedoms to overcome this horrible nightmare of the Castro dictatorship.

In the same way for decades there are people who have stood by the Cuban in condemning his government by adhering to the embargo at the United Nations. The U.S. and Israel are the two nations that advocate for freedom and democracy in Cuba. All free nations should emulate these examples.

These two countries make me recall the famous nonviolent activist Mahatma Gandhi: "In a matter of conscience, no place for the majority rule."

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