Translated by Barbara and David Forbes
Cuban â€œdissidenceâ€ is presented in the international press as consisting of a brave group of â€œhuman rights activistsâ€ whose sole concern is to work for a â€œdemocratisationâ€ of Cuban society. Entirely invented by the Section of North American Interests in Havana, Cuban â€œdissidenceâ€ enjoys an international media halo only because through financial motives it declares itself opposed to the revolutionary process backed by the vast majority of the islandâ€™s population. With no political project other than that of joining in the destabilisation of the nation, of which Washington is a vigorous proponent, Cuban â€œcivil societyâ€ has not taken long to show its true face. (1)
Several dissident â€œstarsâ€ such as Vladimiro Roca, RaÃºl Rivero, Oswaldo PayÃ¡ and Martha Beatriz Roque have taken part in a ceremony organised by the Cuban-American National Foundation, a terrorist group which has organised several attacks against Cuba and which is in favour with the US authorities. These people have expressed their support and gratitude to the fascist radical right-wing Cuban exiles. (2)
Oswaldo PayÃ¡, one of the most prestigious figures in the world of Cuban â€œdissidenceâ€ and director of the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Cristiano de LiberaciÃ³n), has shown on several occasions the importance he gives to democratic values. For example, in April 2002 he did not hesitate, in an open letter, to give his support to members of the fascist junta behind the coup against President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. In the afore-mentioned letter, Paya was profuse in his congratulations to the authors of the armed coup. Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for democracy, a massive popular movement made it possible for Chavez to return to his presidential post 48 hours after the coup, which had been organised by the USA and the extremist Venezuelan opposition. (3) A few months later, the European Parliament granted the Sakharov Prize to PayÃ¡ in gratitude for his stand â€for democracy and human rightsâ€.
PayÃ¡ also had an opportunity to let the international community judge his commitment to democracy when he launched a newly created â€œNational Dialogue Committeeâ€, whose goal is to organise a transitional programme perfectly in line with the plan President Bush has put in place for snuffing out the Cuban nation. The said committee is made up of around 110 members of the Cuban extreme right, several of whom have a broad experience in international terrorism against the Cuban people. (4)
Among these is Carlos Alberto Montaner, a former CIA agent who received a military training at Fort Benning, and currently president of the Cuban Liberal Union whose headquarters is in Madrid. The organisation he directs is financed by the CIA and has the aim of promoting US foreign policy against Cuba within European and Latin-American administrations. (5)
PayÃ¡ has also sought the collaboration of JosÃ© Basulto LeÃ³n, one of the directors of the terrorist organisation Hermanos al Rescate, which has, on many occasions, violated Cuban airspace and, on 24th February 1996, almost triggered an armed conflict between Havana and Washington after the Cuban authorities shot down two of the self-same organisationâ€™s planes which were breaching the countryâ€™s security. Basulto also displays a long criminal record: he was trained by the CIA, took part in the mercenary invasion of the Bay of Pigs in April 1961 and, amongst other things, made a bazooka attack on the Blanquita Theatre in Havana on 24th August 1962 when it was full of people. (6)
Far from being satisfied with the presence of these two individuals, the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement has called on such members of the Cuban-American National Foundation as Joe GarcÃa and RamÃ³n Humberto Colas. (7) PayÃ¡ has openly expressed his delight at gathering together such â€œillustriousâ€ personalities: â€œIt is the first time that Cubans from inside and outside are working together as a single people with a single aimâ€. The declared â€œaimâ€ is set out clearly in detail in the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, prepared by the former Secretary of State Colin Powell: the elimination of the Cuban revolution. (8)
Oswaldo PayÃ¡ is too perceptive an individual to overlook the smallest detail of the past history of the members of his committee with their links to terrorist activities, but he has deliberately chosen to align himself with the most backward-looking section of the Cuban exiles. He has formally declared his goal of establishing â€œa market economyâ€ in Cuba, as outlined in his Varela Project, falsely claimed in the media as being a Cuban initiative when in fact it was created in Washington. (10)
PayÃ¡, who is very voluble before the microphones of the international press, has â€œlaunched a challenge to the regimeâ€ by demanding fifteen minutes on Cuban national television in order to explain his political project. â€œI am challenging them yet again â€“ to give me just fifteen minutes on the television which we, the Cuban people, pay for through our workâ€, he said. (11) At the same time, this opposition figure from the Christian Liberation Movement announced that he would refuse to stand at the municipal elections. The reason for this avoidance, by someone who claims to represent a broad segment of the Cuban population, is simple: he has absolutely no local support. In fact PayÃ¡, like every â€œdissidentâ€, can stand and be elected, as Ricardo AlarcÃ³n, president of the Cuban National Assembly, has emphasised. (12) However, this type of election, where there is no need for an election campaign or for astronomical finances, but where the candidates are directly elected by those who live in the same district, interests the â€œhuman right activistsâ€ only minimally. They know full well that they are totally unknown by the Cubans and that the only support they enjoy on the island is within the US Interests Section.
PayÃ¡ prefers to launch diatribes against the government, pamphlets which are cheerfully taken up by the international press, even the most absurd such as the one which consists of accusing the Cuban authorities of causing people to disappear: â€œIn Cuba, people have disappearedâ€¦. More than twenty children have been assassinatedâ€, it stated with a completely straight face. Here the pupil has surpassed the teacher, as not even the government of the USA has ever accused Cuba of being responsible for disappearances or assassinations. (13)
It would be very difficult for PayÃ¡ to be elected by the Cuban people as, even within the world of the â€œdissidentsâ€, he lacks universal backing. The opposition market is a very competitive world where blows below the belt abound because of the financial interests at stake. Facing competition from the group of Martha Beatriz Roque, president of the Assembly for the Promotion of Civil Society (Asamblea para Promover la Sociedad Civil), PayÃ¡ has decided to go on the offensive by violently attacking his work-mate and accusing her of stirring up â€œcalumny and confusionâ€. â€œ Groups and individuals who do not represent the majority are developing a systematic campaign of public attacks and provocation in order to discredit the National Dialogue,â€ he claimed, referring to Beatriz Roqueâ€™s Assembly. (14) Unhappy at being put in the shade by this competition, PayÃ¡ has called publicly for a boycott of Beatriz Roqueâ€™s organisation while, for her part, she openly claims to be benefiting from the support of the US government and has no hesitation in expressing her admiration for President Bush. (15)
For her part, Beatriz Roque set the date of 20th May 2005 for a â€œdissidenceâ€ congress in Havana in order to discuss the resources required for â€œspeeding up Cubaâ€™s transitionâ€. Many well-known personalities who have shown their hostility to the Cuban revolution, such has Messrs Havel and Walesa, agreed to attend. In calling this meeting, the organiser of the Assembly was only following the orders she receives daily from the US authorities present in Cuba. (16)
Beatriz Roque even went so far as to report on her activities to the US Congress by telephone from the US Interests Section in the company of RenÃ© GÃ³mez Manzano and FÃ©lix Bonne, two other â€œdissidence specialistsâ€. When they spoke, they confirmed their unconditional support for the policies of George W. Bush, including the restrictions which strongly affect families who will now only be able to visit their relatives in Cuba once every three years. Beatriz Roque praised James Cason, head of the Section for North American Interests : â€œHe is a great man, with a great heart.â€ She also claimed to be â€œthe scapegoat for the hatred which the leadership of this country feels towards the USAâ€. GÃ³mez Manzana emphasised that the Cuban people need â€œthe firm hand of the US governmentâ€. As for Bonne, he explained that his only goal was â€œto defend the interests of the Cuban peopleâ€ and that he was â€œa simple soldier for freedom and democracyâ€. â€œDefend the interest of the Cuban peopleâ€ from the US Interest Section by supporting President Bushâ€™s extremist policies? Obscenity and intellectual prostitution know no bounds. (18)
The alliance between Cuban â€œdissidenceâ€ and the fascistic component of the Cuban exile is not surprising once one takes a closer look at their real objectives. Their avowed aim is the destruction of the Cuban revolution, and all alliances, whatever they may be, are welcome. Nor is it remarkable that a Miami television channel, Canal 22, has publicly and openly called for the assassination of Hugo ChÃ¡vez. In fact, during the programme â€œMaria Elvira Confrontaâ€, FÃ©lix RodrÃguez, the Cuban-origin guest, the former CIA agent notorious for carrying out assassination of Ernesto Che Guevara in Bolivia in October 1967, declared that Washington had a plan to get rid of ChÃ¡vez. â€œAt a particular moment, [President Bush] can order a military air strikeâ€ against the president of Venezuela.â€ (19) The Cuban â€œdissidenceâ€ cannot but rejoice at this.
1 Martha Beatriz Roque, « Mensaje de Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello », FundaciÃ³n Nacional Cubano Americana, 5 March 2005. www.canf.org/2005/principal.htm (site consulted 21 March 2005).
2 FundaciÃ³n Nacional Cubano Americana, « Mensaje de Vladimiro Roca », « Mensaje de RaÃºl Rivero », « Mensaje de Oswaldo PayÃ¡ SardiÃ±asâ€, « Mensaje de Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello », www.canfnet.org (site consulted 10 March 2005).
3 Pascual Serrano, « El lÃder anticastrista Osvaldo PayÃ¡ apoyÃ³ el golpe de Estado de Venezuela en abril del 2002â€, RebeliÃ³n, 16 February 2005. www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=11455 (site consulted le 21 mars 2005).
4 El Nuevo Herald, « La isla y el exilio unidas en un plan para la transiciÃ³n », 18 February 2005.
5 El Nuevo Herald, â€œConciliados exiliados se unen al paln de PayÃ¡â€, 18 February 2005, p. 21A.
6 Rosa Miriam Elizalde, Los â€œdisidentesâ€ (Havana: Editora PolÃtica, 2003), p. 79.
7 Salim Lamrani, Cuba face Ã lâ€™Empire: Propagande, guerre Ã©conomique et terrorisme dâ€™Etat (Outremont: LanctÃ´t, 2005), chapter III.
8 El Nuevo Herald, « La isla y el exilio unidas en un plan para la transiciÃ³n », op.cit.
9 Colin L. Powell, Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, (Washington: United States Department of State, mai 2004). www.state.gov/documents/organization/32334.pdf (site consulted 7 May 2004).
10 Vanessa Arrington, â€œPayÃ¡: â€˜Cultura al miedoâ€™ obstÃ¡culo mÃ¡s importante para cubanosâ€, Associated Press, 8 March 2005.
11 El Nuevo Herald, « PayÃ¡ lanza un nuevo reto al rÃ©gimen », 11 March 2005, p. 17A.
12 El Nuevo Herald, â€œAlarcÃ³n afirma que â€˜los disidentes pueden votarâ€™â€, 7 March 2005, p. 25A.
13 El Nuevo Herald, â€œMensaje de PayÃ¡ destaca que en la isla hay desaparecidosâ€, 18 March 2005, p. 23A.
14 El Nuevo Herald, â€œFustiga PayÃ¡ a lÃderes disidentesâ€, 3 March 2005, p. 21A.
15 Vanessa Arrigton, â€œCuba: disidentes sufren rivalidades internas al recuperar impulsoâ€, El Nuevo Herald, 17 March 2005.
16 Ernesto F. Betancourt, â€œHay que apoyar la convocatoria del 20 de mayoâ€, El Nuevo Herald, 5 March 2005, p. 15A.
16 El Nuevo Herald, â€œLos opositores firmes en sus reclamosâ€, 13 March 2005, p. 21A.
17 Pablo Bachelet, â€œCastro Foes Testify, Support the USâ€, The Miami Herald, 4 March 2005, p.1A.
18 Canal 22, â€œMaria Elvira Confrontaâ€, 10 mars 2005. www.vive.ve/paginas/documentos/tvmiami.htm (site consulted 17 March 2005).