Once again, Normando Hernandez Gonzalez has written an article in regards to the position taken by the European Union towards Cuba and his meeting with the Mr. Christian Leffler, the General Director of the Iberian Sector of the EU’s Representative of Exterior and Political Security. While some European officials have lobbied for the “improvement” of relations with the island, Hernandez argues that, instead of approaching the totalitarian Castro government, the best option would be to assume a position which would “initiate an open and plural dialogue with the real Cuban civil society and with the peaceful opposition groups which fight for the freedom and democracy of Cuba, whether they do it from in or outside the island…”
In his own words:
Leffler, Hopefully his Words Will not Fall on Deaf Ears
by Normando Hernandez, Cuban ex-prisoner of conscience
In Cuba, the Castro-organized mobs were taking turns as if they were alternating work shifts. They outrageously shouted insults, harassed, and displayed a vicious hatred against the Ladies in White simply because these women wanted to exercise their inalienable rights to commemorate the repressive acts which took place during the Black Spring of 2003. The mob attack started on the 18th of March and concluded 48 hours later.
While they “exorcised” the dignified Ladies in White in the largest of the Antilles, in Spain 5 Cuban ex-prisoners of conscience and one Spanish official met at the offices of the European Union in Madrid. They were meeting with Mr. Christian Leffler, the General Director of the Iberian Sector of the European Union’s Representative of Exterior and Political Security.
The objective of the meeting was to inform Baroness Catherine Ashton that there are Cubans who have different points of view from that of the government in regards to the EU’s improvement of ties with the Castro regime. We turned in a 94 page report regarding this topic.
In the document we exhorted the Exterior and Political Security Representative of the European Union to “initiate an open and plural dialogue with the real Cuban civil society and with the peaceful opposition groups which fight for the freedom and democracy of Cuba, whether they do it from in or outside the island”.
In the report, titled Human Rights Situation in Cuba, we made it clear that the violations of the most elemental and basic rights of Cubans is institutionalized in the Penal Code and the Constitution of the Cuban Republic.
Among the 8 points of the document, we also attached the report made by Human Rights Watch in regards to Cuba. It states that, “Cuba continues to be the only country in Latin America which oppresses nearly all forms of political dissent”. We echoed the criticism of this NGO, which is consultative to the UN and which specializes on the subject that affects us, stating that “dictatorships cannot be handled with silk gloves”.
We could not leave out the reports made from within Cuba by the outlawed National Cuban Human Rights and Reconciliation Commission which has pointed out that repression in the largest of the Antilles has increased in comparison to last year.
We also included the three points which we feel are fundamental and must be immediately implemented by the Cuban government if they are really in a “process of change”:
1. The unconditional freedom of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and the repeal of all the sentenced imposed upon them, as well as the abolition of the laws which took them there in the first place.
2. Guarantee that the Cuban Constitution provides individual, collective, social, economic, political, and all other fundamental rights for all its citizens. Also, the Penal Code must be modified, Law 88 must be eliminated, as well as any other similar law which restricts Cubans from exercising their freedoms and their ability to work in favor of a coexistence among all those who seek freedom and democracy.
3. Making any necessary changes in the laws, such as ratifying and applying the International Human Rights Pacts and Covenants, which are:
*The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
*The International Covenant on Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights.
The former prisoner of conscience and spokesperson for the Christian Liberation Movement Regis Iglesias turned in a letter to Mr. Leffler. Last year, that same letter was also sent to the Baroness. In his own right, Juan Carlos Herrera, who is also a former political prisoner of conscience, turned in another letter in which he carefully explained the situation of the political prisoner and leader of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy, Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina.
Representative Teofilo de Luis pointed out to the convoy of Catherine Ashton the 2nd point of the parliamentary initiative which was debated in the Commission of Exterior Relations of the Representative Congress of Spain (unanimously voted upon) which “pressures the government to support mechanisms which promote the exercise of fundamental freedoms for all people- especially the right to opinion, creation, and diffusion, as well as guaranteeing respect for all other human rights”.
Mr. Christian Leffler assured all of us who were present (which also included the former prisoners of conscience Fabio Preto, Marcelo Cano, and Normando Hernandez in representation of the 23 former prisoners who had signed the document being turned in) that the improvement of ties between the European Union and Cuba falls under the context of its Common Position. He also let us know that there is no legal chance for the 27 members of the EU to lift the previously mentioned position.
In the hallway, as we stretched out our hands to bid farewell, we continued insisting that Mr. Leffler go and meet with the peaceful dissidents which fight for the good of all from within Cuba. It was then that we heard these words: “Yes, we will go and meet with the Cuban dissidents. It will not be in the near future, but we will meet with them”.
God willingly, the words of Mr. Leffler will not fall on deaf ears and hopefully Baroness Catherine Ashton will draw up an impartial report which contains the opinions of those who fight to bring freedom and democracy to Cuba, that nation which has suffered under a Stalinist totalitarian regime for 52 years. Amen.