CSC responds to Cuba critics' letter
Campaign News | Tuesday, 18 March 2008
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign has produced the following response to a letter in the Guardian (18.2.08) signed by seven writers and the President of English PEN calling for the release of Cuban journalists.
This letter contains several factual inaccuracies:
1. The letter refers to “approximately 90 critics of Castro’s regime” being arrested and tried in the Spring of 2003.
Fact: The actual figure was 75. Although 87 people were originally arrested, 12 of them were double agents who had infiltrated this group to collect information on the role and influence of the US government and Miami based organisation in funding and organising these “dissidents”.
2. The letter states that the arrested received “hearings behind closed doors, with the accused denied time to put together cogent defences.”
Fact: The individuals were tried for treason under the Law of Protection of National Independence passed in 1999. All had the right to name a defence attorney and those who did not were assigned a professional lawyer. All 75 of the "dissidents" were tried in an open court. Only foreign journalists and foreign diplomats were denied access. Members of the public, including the defendants' families were admitted to watch the proceedings. In June 2003, the Cuban Supreme Court heard the appeals against sentences and upheld the sentences.
3. “Of those arrested, 35 were writers, journalists and librarians.”
Fact: None of the group were tried for their political beliefs / journalistic endeavour or occupations. They were tried for accepting money from an enemy power. On their arrest some of the accused were found to be in possession of special passes for unrestricted entry to the US Office of Interest in Havana; one of them had US$13,500 in his pockets, another had US$5,000 in a jar at home - none could not explain the origin of these monies.
US funding of Cuba’s “dissidents”
In 2003, Felipe Pérez Roque, Cuban foreign affairs minister, said the US Agency for International Development, an official US government body, had stated that $22 million represented "'just a tiny part of the funds channelled to Cuba,"' which supported "subversion" in Cuba. USAID records show that from 1996 to 2001, the agency provided $12 million to 22 groups to promote transition in Cuba.
Writing on these events in 2003, Seamus Milne of the Guardian commented on the role of the US within Cuba: "The US's huge quasi-embassy mainly provided equipment and facilities, but millions of dollars of US government aid also appears to have been channelled to the dissidents through Miami-based exile groups" (http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1009384,00.html)
Like any other sovereign nation, Cuba refuses to accept direct interference from a foreign power - namely the US. It has the right to defend itself from aggression. The US has spent millions of dollars on creating and funding groups around the world and within Cuba to attack Cuba.
For more details of the US Commission for a Free Cuba and planned US expenditure on attacking Cuba:
Cuba views those who take money from the US to attack Cuba's sovereignty as traitors and mercenaries. The UK and the US deal similarly with people who are guilty of treason (defined as “betraying of the government or an attempt to overthrow it, stir up a foreign invasion?”) and have similar laws as Cuba to punish offenders. It is a fact that Cuba has a real 'war' to contend with in the form of the illegal blockade and numerous acts of aggression. Terrorist attacks against Cuba, mainly emanating from anti-Castro groups in Florida, have resulted in the deaths of more than 3,000 Cubans since the 1959 revolution.
The illegal economic and political blockade imposed by successive US administrations on the island for the past 46 years, has caused an estimated $89 billion damage to Cuba's economy, and inflicted unnecessary suffering on the most vulnerable in Cuban society.