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    Human Rights in Cuba – Nothing Has Changed

    Human Rights in Cuba: Nothing Has Changed / Jeovany Jimenez Vega
    Posted on January 17, 2016

    Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 11 December 2015 — Seven years have passed since
    the signing of two United Nations’ covenants on civil, political,
    economic, social and cultural rights, and exactly one week from the
    first anniversary of the announcement of the resumption of diplomatic
    relations between Cuba and the United States. Now at the threshold of
    2016, it would be worth reminding ourselves how we got here.

    In the past year some have advocated lifting the tools of political
    pressure to which the Cuban government is still subject. Basically these
    are understood to be the US embargo and the European Union’s common
    position. However, the alleged reforms undertaken by Raul Castro in
    recent years are still a frequent source of argument.

    If we accept the premise that since 1959 Cuba has been a one-party state
    — and evidence indicates that the presidency of Raul Castro is in
    essence a continuation of the presidency of Fidel Castro — we can also
    assume with a high degree of certainty that the psychology of the regime
    is exactly the same as it has always been. This logically leads to the
    following question: Is there reason to hope that, if the sanctions were
    lifted, the military oligarchs would finally grant the Cuban people the
    rights outlined in the above-mentioned UN conventions, whose
    ratification and implementation by Cuba have been pending since February

    Optimists would point to the reforms initiated by Raul, but anyone who
    takes a closer look at the so-called “transformations” would see that
    very few of them led to a practical, beneficial or immediate turnaround
    in the lives of Cubans inside or outside the country.

    But if we approach this in good faith, we would have to acknowledge that
    some measures represent a more drastic and positive turnaround than
    others. Among them are the restoration of the right to travel overseas
    and authorization for private individuals to buy and sell their homes.

    We cannot forget, however, that the 2013 emigration law stipulates that
    some professionals may not travel freely “in light of regulations aimed
    at preserving a qualified work force.”

    Nor can we dismiss the fact that the Cuban government may also prevent
    persons from entering the country who have been accused of “organizing,
    encouraging, carrying out or participating in actions hostile to the
    Cuban state… when reasons of defense and national security so suggest;”
    or that the government may “bar entry into the country to those who have
    been declared undesirable or who have been expelled.” This makes clear
    just how wide a margin this delicious tool of coercion gives the
    repressors to maneuver.

    In terms of the authorization to buy and sell houses, let us remember
    that this law is saddled with a series of burdensome regulations
    pertaining to sale prices that allow the government to meddle in
    something in which it has no business, a reminder that here nothing good
    ever lasts for very long.

    However, a glance at the rest of the package does reveal a curious
    mindset in these so-called reforms. It is extremely difficult to accept
    the sincerity of the “authorization” to buy used cars when they are set
    at stratospheric prices; or the corrupt approach by the managements of
    new cooperative businesses when they remain subordinate to inefficient
    state enterprises; or the imposition of exorbitant taxes on private
    businesses when they are deprived of a wholesale commodity market; or
    all the limitations that have led to an obviously failed agricultural
    policy, to name a few

    But more serious than these economic trifles is the persistence of
    repressive policies that continue to promote the duet between the
    Communist Party and State Security. From the offices of what is still
    the only legally recognized political party, they are still drafting
    tactics and strategies that will later be put into practice in the
    street by the political police’s henchmen.

    Arbitrary arrests and the weakest of legal protections are persistent
    problems in Cuba in 2015. They are the bastard offspring that result
    when there is no separation of powers. Physical assaults and acts of
    repudiation are still being perpetrated with impunity while no one in
    authority can be bothered to intervene.

    Government henchmen are ordered to stab opposition leaders and harass in
    broad daylight women who are carrying no weapons other than white
    gladiolas. An iron-fisted and absolute censorship of dissident thought
    persists while the regime continues to exercise a tight monopoly on the
    media and the press.

    It still vetoes easy access to the internet, something now well-advanced
    in the second decade of the 21st century. We can therefore conclude that
    the changes that have been introduced in Cuba up to this point are
    insubstantial and of a purely cosmetic nature.

    These military oddballs are no longer capable of offering up anything
    new, so it is only logical to question their good intentions for the
    future and their ability to conceive a plan for real prosperity,
    especially if the formula requires any change of course.

    It remains to be seen whether these reforms reflect a sincere desire to
    open the door to a globalized economy for the Cuban people. It is more
    reasonable to assume that they amount an endless series of delaying
    tactics by the same old oligarchs to hold onto power.

    But in the event that the international community, the Cuban people and
    the Cuban opposition decide to give them a vote of confidence, would
    this guarantee that the above-mentioned UN conventions would be ratified
    and implemented, and that this would result in a turn towards democracy?

    In the light of psychological mindset thus far exhibited by the regime,
    logical reasoning would lead to the undeniable and unmistakable
    conclusion that this would never happen, that it would only result in a
    sudden transfusion to all the repressive resources of the regime and its
    receiving unwarranted international recognition.

    There is no chance the Cuban government will become any more
    economically efficient, only that it can rely on having more resources
    to squander and more millions in its overseas accounts to feed its
    delusions of grandeur. Once a beast has tasted blood, nothing else will do.

    And once liberated from these instruments of political pressure — and
    with the tacit international approval that this implies — an autocratic
    government like that of the Castros will never ratify the UN
    conventions. On the contrary, it will become even more vicious, as has
    already been made clear by its repression of dissidents from a
    comfortable and relaxed position.

    History has definitively shown us that some people never change. Three
    decades of marriage to the Soviet Union demonstrated that the Cuban
    people were never the intended recipients of all that wealth. If it was
    not the case then, why would we suppose it would be any different now,
    especially after so many years of corrupt and lethargic governance?

    Clearly, freedom in Cuba is not dependent on the actions of any foreign
    government. Instead, it depends on the courage and wisdom demonstrated
    by its people. But unconditionally accepting every international
    condition without the island’s people having to suffer, struggle or
    expect anything would not seem to necessarily be helpful.

    2015 ends without there being the slightest indication of accommodation
    regarding our civil rights or of even something as basic as ratification
    of the aforementioned human rights conventions. In this context, making
    unconditional concessions to the totalitarian regime in Havana, just as
    Caracas is teetering on the brink, would be a strategic disaster for my
    people and would delay by several decades the arrival of democracy, for
    which as the Cuban nation has waited so long.

    Source: Human Rights in Cuba: Nothing Has Changed / Jeovany Jimenez Vega
    | Translating Cuba –

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