Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina
Released by Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Directorate
Havana, Cuba, December 7, 1998
Honorable representatives of the four international human rights organizations which have together brought about this world conference, Distinguished members of the Organizational Committee, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In name of the suffering people of Cuba, of the hundreds of prisoners of conscience who suffer the most terrible ostracism in the jails of the current regime in Cuba, and in name of the Cuban human rights movement both inside and outside the island, I wish to extend a most sincere and fraternal salutation to all those of you who have come together in Paris to honor with your presence this Human Rights Conference; you are the defenders of what could be called the most noble and just cause in favor of freedom, justice, and peace.
The intolerance, censorship, lack of political transparency, lack of civism, and the systematic violation of human rights by the anachronistic totalitarian regime in Cuba, have made impossible my presence in this conference to which I feel honored to be invited. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my personal gratitude to the sponsoring organizations for this invitation.
Fifty years have passed since 48 governments understood, after the last world war, that when men are guided by common sense, the spirit of dialogue, and nonviolence, the best solutions become possible for their people. We believe that the fiftieth anniversary of the Magna Carta of the United Nations should be an important moment for the international community to reflect on the necessity of creating a world wide network of resistance, (as is proposed in one of the objectives of this conference), for a greater and more effective protection of human rights activists. This step should lead to a unity of action by the entire international human rights movement, as a practical method for protecting the active militancy from the dangers to which they are exposed, from arbitrary and excessive reprisals by governments, among other adversities.
We believe that not only should attempts to impede human rights activists from carrying out their work be considered an attack on the rights proclaimed in the Declaration, but that also a pragmatic plan should be developed to demand before the General Assembly of United Nations, direct sanctions against those governments with a history of repeated violations of these basic rights. It is also fundamental to achieve greater protection guarantees for activists, as well as carrying out an initiative to declare human rights activists, at least those with a certain visibility, as voluntary activists of the United Nations.
Taking into account that one of the objectives of this conference is to ensure that international agreements are justly applied in cases related to human rights activists, and since Cuba is the only country in the American continent with an elevated number of prisoners of conscience which include more than a hundred human rights activists, it is necessary for a document to be elaborated in this forum to be signed by the participants, to urgently demand from the Cuban government an immediate and unconditional general amnisty for all Cuban political prisoners.
The Cuban human rights movement has demonstrated, from its beginning, its adherence to the principal ideas and challenges of this International Human Rights Conference.
Cuba, as we commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, lives under a dictatorship. After the fall of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe in 1989 and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Cuba continues to be the last bastion of totalitarianism in the context of our culture, existing in a world of civilized and democratic nations. Eleven million human beings inside the island, struggle to survive daily in the midst of an infinite number of difficulties and extreme scarcity product of the ineffective system of government and the extreme and persistent structural and institutional blockade carried out by the governing elite in detriment to the rights and basic liberties of the Cuban people. This totalitarian system which has existed now for four decades without there being a ray of hope for the Cuban people, is the cause of the suffering in Cuba and not what the government tries to convince the world, that the economic and financial embargo by a superpower is the fundamental cause, independently of whether this external policy could be condemnable or of questionable morality.
The difficult circumstances being experienced in Cuba make more urgent the need to put into practice and rescue the exercise of the basic freedoms which have been suppressed for forty years by the official controls structure. In spite of the exoneration of responsibility of the Cuban government during the last session of the U.N. Commission of Human Rights, after being condemned for 7 consecutive years before that, the issue of human rights violations in Cuba continues to be not only a matter of worry, but it demands urgency. There is also the example of the thousands of Cubans who have been obligated to leave the country as a result of the political intolerance. Its not just for the defenseless Cuban people to continue to give innocent victims as a result of the methods and mechanisms of violence and repression be the governing group.
In Cuba, the extreme poverty is acquiring disproportionate and unprecedented characteristics, not allowing the citizens to satisfy their most elemental needs. The Cuban people have been denied the opportunity to create an economic, political, and judicial structure which would allow the integral development of the human being.
In the case of education, educational projects from the earliest ages of children are politicized and programmed in a way to serve the official dogma, causing families to be denied the right to offer their children an alternate education, in accord with their beliefs and desires.
Many Cuban women find themselves obligated from adolescence to practice prostitution, since they have no access to the products of basic necessity.
Religious intolerance continues to be practiced by the authorities even after the visit of Pope John Paul II.
Finally, I would like to make a special plea to the conscience of all those who are participating in this conference to listen to the cry for freedom and justice from the political prisoners in Cuba who are subject to horrible living conditions and must endure lack of nutrition and medical assistance; in many instances there is no medical assistance at all. The political prisoners and of conscience are confined and severely punished by being placed in enclosed solitary confinement cells, are often severely beaten, and often endure physical and psychological torture, among other cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment.
However, in spite of all this, and in spite of the survival in Cuba of a model of thought which has been a historical failure, the Cuban government persists in surviving with a Constitution, Penal Code, and a Law of Penal Procedures along with an series of other laws which are contrary to internationally subscribed cannons and conventions. Now we find out that, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the government of the island has expressed its intention of declaring a new Magna Carta for the U.N., which will permit it to continue violatng the human rights and the civil and political rights of the Cuban people. This initiative is a sort of desertion of the concept of human rights with the objective of legitimizing the dictatorship's peculiar interpretation of the concept. In the face of such and inconceivable project of the regime, the Cuban people cry out to the conscience of the world, so that this cry may be taken to the free, civilized and democratic world, through this Human Rights Conference. This is the cry for freedom, justice, and peace of the Cuban people.
We wish you much success in the final results of this conference. Thank you and may God bless you.
Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina
Human Rights activist, ex prisoner of conscience recognized by Amnesty International
President of the Cuban Movement of Young People for Democracy
University Students Without Borders
Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Directorate
Po Box 110235
Hialeah, Fl 33011
Los Cubanos Para Cuba Y Cuba Para La