A Protest Against U.S. Threats to Cuba

Campaign for Peace and Democracy

[from New Politics, vol. 9, no. 3 (new series),
whole no. 35, Summer 2003]


FLUSH WITH ITS MILITARY VICTORY in Iraq, the Bush administration seems more determined than ever to assert U.S. hegemony over the entire globe. A future military invasion of Cuba cannot be ruled out. In the meantime, there has been a clear and ominous escalation of U.S. threats to the island.

The Bush administration has threatened to impose further restrictions on travel to Cuba and to curtail the remittances that Cubans in the United States can send to their relatives on the island. Increased travel restrictions will serve only to further isolate the Cuban people, and they constitute another outrageous limitation on the right of people living in the U.S. to travel freely. Curtailing remittances will undermine the economic well-being of tens of thousands of Cubans, who depend on these payments to alleviate the poverty that is to a significant extent the result of U.S. sanctions.

Cuba has been the target of travel restrictions and embargo -- not to mention U.S.-sponsored terrorism and other forms of subversion -- for more than four decades now; it is clear that such actions punish ordinary Cubans and do nothing to advance the cause of Cuban democracy. In fact, their effect has been precisely the opposite: to strengthen undemocratic tendencies. The recent expulsion of 14 Cuban diplomats from the United States is yet another ratcheting up of the level of U.S. threats against Cuba, and is no more likely than the rest to promote democracy on the island.

As supporters of democracy in Cuba, we condemn the recent arrests of scores of Cubans for their nonviolent political activities, and the shockingly long prison sentences -- some as high as 28 years -- imposed after unfair trials. We also protest the trial and execution of three alleged hijackers in a week's time, both for the lack of due process and because we oppose capital punishment on principle. But we condemn just as strongly all attempts by the Bush administration to intimidate Cuba. Washington's recent actions -- like those of all previous administrations -- have nothing to do with promoting democracy in Cuba and everything to do with expanding the U.S. empire.

We call on the Castro government to release all political prisoners and to let the Cuban people write, speak and organize freely.

We would note that the Bush administration is especially unqualified to demand democratic rights and due process in Cuba. The Administration's hypocrisy is shown by its own behavior in Guantanamo, where prisoners are held with neither the rights guaranteed to prisoners of war by the Geneva Convention nor with the protections of U.S. law; recent reports (as yet unconfirmed) suggest that some of those incarcerated on Guantanamo may even face execution there. At home, the Patriot Act and the proposed Patriot Act II drastically undermine civil liberties for both citizens and non- citizens of the United States.

As advocates of democratic rights and liberties everywhere, including Cuba, we strongly believe that democratic change in Cuba must be achieved by the Cuban people themselves, not by threats, embargoes or intervention by a U.S. government bent on reasserting its domination over that country. We call on the Bush administration to respect the right of Cuba, and all other countries, to self- determination.

June 9, 2003


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