Cuban dissident movement

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The Cuban dissident movement is a political movement in Cuba whose aim is to replace the current regime with a more democratic form of government. [1] According to Human Rights Watch, the Cuban government represses nearly all forms of political dissent. [2]

Political movement movement to obtain a political goal

In the social sciences, a political movement is a social group that operates together to obtain a political goal, on a local, regional, national, or international scope. Political movements develop, coordinate, promulgate, revise, amend, interpret, and produce materials that are intended to address the goals of the base of the movement. A social movement in the area of politics can be organized around a single issue or set of issues, or around a set of shared concerns of a social group. In a political party, a political organization seeks to influence, or control, government policy, usually by nominating their candidates and seating candidates in politics and governmental offices. Additionally, parties participate in electoral campaigns and educational outreach or protest actions aiming to convince citizens or governments to take action on the issues and concerns which are the focus of the movement. Parties often espouse an ideology, expressed in a party program, bolstered by a written platform with specific goals, forming a [coalition] among disparate interests.

Cuba Country in the Caribbean

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometers (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometers (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.

Human Rights Watch New York City-based non-governmental organisation

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organization, headquartered in New York City, that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. The group pressures some governments, policy makers and human rights abusers to denounce abuse and respect human rights, and the group often works on behalf of refugees, children, migrants and political prisoners.

Contents

Background

1959 Cuban Revolution

Fidel Castro came to power with the Cuban Revolution of 1959. By the end of 1960, according to Paul H. Lewis in Authoritarian Regimes in Latin America, all opposition newspaper had been closed down and all radio and television stations were in state control. [3] Lewis states that moderate teachers and professors were purged, about 20,000 dissidents were held and tortured in prisons. [3]

Fidel Castro Former First Secretary of the Communist Party and President of Cuba

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was a Cuban communist revolutionary and politician who governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008. A Marxist–Leninist and Cuban nationalist, Castro also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Under his administration, Cuba became a one-party communist state, while industry and business were nationalized and state socialist reforms were implemented throughout society.

Cuban Revolution Revolution in Cuba between 1953 and 1959

The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt conducted by Fidel Castro's revolutionary 26th of July Movement and its allies against the military dictatorship of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista. The revolution began in July 1953, and continued sporadically until the rebels finally ousted Batista on 31 December 1958, replacing his government with a revolutionary socialist state. 26 July 1953 is celebrated in Cuba as the Day of the Revolution. The 26th of July Movement later reformed along communist lines, becoming the Communist Party in October 1965.

Paul H. Lewis is Professor of Political Science at Tulane University. Among his publications are: Paraguay under Stroessner (1980); Socialism, Liberalism, and Dictatorship in Paraguay (1982); The Crisis of Argentine Capitalism (1990); Latin Fascist Elites. The Mussolini, Franco and Salazar Regimes (2003); Guerrillas and Generals, The Agony of Argentine Capitalism: From Menem to the Kirchners and Authoritarian Regimes in Latin America: Dictators, Despots, and Tyrants.

Homosexuals as well as other "deviant" groups who were barred from military conscription, were forced to conduct their compulsory military service in camps called "Military Units to Aid Production" in the 1960s, and were subjected to political "reeducation". [4] [5] [6] Some of Castro's military commanders brutalized the inmates. [7]

Military Units to Aid Production or UMAPs were agricultural labor camps operated by the Cuban government from November 1965 to July 1968 in the province of Camagüey. The UMAP camps served as a form of alternative civilian service for Cubans who could not serve in the military due to being, conscientious objectors, Christians and other religious people, homosexuals, or political enemies of Fidel Castro or his communist revolution. The language used in the title can be misleading, as pointed by historian Abel Sierra Madero, "The hybrid structure of work camps cum military units served to camouflage the true objectives of the recruitment effort and to distance the UMAPs from the legacy of forced labor." There is no official account of the internships of the UMAP's, but it has been estimated that the majority of the servicemen were conscientious objectors. Around a small portion or about 8% to 9% of the inmates probably were homosexual men, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, Catholic priests and Protestant ministers, intellectuals, farmers who resisted collectivization, as well as anyone else considered "anti-social" or "counter-revolutionary". Former Intelligence Directorate agent Norberto Fuentes estimated that of approximately 35,000 internees, 507 ended up in psychiatric wards, 72 died from torture, and 180 committed suicide. A 1967 human rights report from the Organization of American States found that over 30,000 internees are "forced to work for free in state farms from 10 to 12 hours a day, from sunrise to sunset, seven days per week, poor alimentation with rice and spoiled food, unhealthy water, unclean plates, congested barracks, no electricity, latrines, no showers, inmates are given the same treatment as political prisoners." The report concludes that the UMAP camps’ two objectives are "facilitating free labor for the state" and "punishing young people who refuse to join communist organizations." The Cuban government maintained that the UMAPs are not labor camps, but part of military service. In a 2010 interview with La Jornada, Fidel Castro admitted in response to a question about the UMAP camps that "Yes, there were moments of great injustice, great injustice!" Historically the Cuban government has presented UMAPs as a mistake, but according to Abel Sierra Madero, this institution has to be understood as part of a project of “social engineering” tailored for political and social control. Sophisticated methodologies were deployed that incorporated judicial, military, educational, medical and psychiatric apparatuses."

In nearly all areas of government, loyalty to the regime became the primary criterion for all appointments. [8]

Government authority

  • The media is operated under the Cuban Communist Party’s Department of Revolutionary Orientation, which "develops and coordinates propaganda strategies". [9]
  • A Human Rights Watch 1999 report on Cuba notes that Cuba has penalties for anyone who "threatens, libels or slanders, defames, affronts (injuria) or in any other way insults (ultraje) or offends, with the spoken word or in writing, the dignity or decorum of an authority, public functionary, or his agents or auxiliaries". There are even harsher penalties for those who show contempt for the President of the Council of the State, the President of the National Assembly of Popular Power, the members of the Council of the State or the Council of Ministers, or the Deputies of the National Assembly of the Popular Power. [10]
  • There is a three-month to one-year sentence for anyone who "publicly defames, denigrates, or scorns the Republic's institutions, the political, mass, or social organizations of the country, or the heroes or martyrs of the nation". [10]
  • Cubans are not allowed to produce, distribute or store publications without telling to authorities. [10]
  • Social dangerousness, defined as violations of socialist morality, can warrant "pre-criminal measures" and "therapeutic measures". [11]
  • Regarding institutions, the Human Rights Watch report notes that the Interior Ministry has principal responsibility for monitoring the Cuban population for signs of dissent. [12]
  • In 1991, two new mechanisms for internal surveillance and control emerged. Communist Party leaders organized the Singular Systems of Vigilance and Protection (Sistema Unico de Vigilancia y Protección, SUVP). Rapid Action Brigades (Brigadas de Acción Rapida, also referred to as Rapid Response Brigades, or Brigadas de Respuesta Rápida) observe and control dissidents. [12] The regime also "maintains academic and labor files (expedientes escolares y laborales) for each citizen, in which officials record actions or statements that may bear on the person's loyalty to the regime. Before advancing to a new school or position, the individual's record must first be deemed acceptable". [12]

Department of Revolutionary Orientation (DOR) is a division of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba.

Social dangerousness is a category of anti-social behaviour on the basis of detectors of dangerousness that, in some democracy, enable the judicial authorities to justify the need for a particular control by the police authorities.

Dissent sentiment or philosophy of non-agreement or opposition

Dissent is a sentiment or philosophy of non-agreement or opposition to a prevailing idea or an entity. The term's antonyms include agreement, consensus and consent, when one party agrees to a proposition made by another.

Situation today

In 2017, Cuba was described as one of only two "authoritarian regimes" in the Americas by The Economist's 2017 Democracy Index. [13] The island had the second highest number of imprisoned journalists in the world in 2008, second only to the People's Republic of China, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an international press organization. [14] The military of Cuba is a central organization; it controls 60 percent of the economy and is Raúl Castro's base. [15]

Americas Landmass comprising North America, Central America and South America

The Americas comprise the totality of the continents of North and South America. Together, they make up most of the land in Earth's western hemisphere and comprise the New World.

<i>The Economist</i> English weekly news and international affairs publication

The Economist is an English-language weekly magazine-format newspaper owned by the Economist Group and edited at offices in London. Continuous publication began under its founder James Wilson in September 1843. In 2015, its average weekly circulation was a little over 1.5 million, about half of which were sold in the United States. Pearson PLC held a 50% shareholding via The Financial Times Limited until August 2015. At that time, Pearson sold their share in the Economist. The Agnelli family's Exor paid £287m to raise their stake from 4.7% to 43.4% while the Economist paid £182m for the balance of 5.04m shares which will be distributed to current shareholders. Aside from the Agnelli family, smaller shareholders in the company include Cadbury, Rothschild (21%), Schroder, Layton and other family interests as well as a number of staff and former staff shareholders.

Democracy Index Wikipedia list article

The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a UK-based company. Its intention is to measure the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 164 are UN member states.

According to a paper published in the Harvard International Review , dissident groups are weak and infiltrated by Cuban state security. Media is totally state-controlled. Dissidents find it difficult to organize and "Many of their leaders have shown enormous courage in defying the regime. Yet, time and again, the security apparatus has discredited or destroyed them. They do not represent a major threat to the regime." [16]

Jorge Luis Garcia Perez assailed the Cuban thaw as a capitulation to the Castro's regime Press conference, Havana.jpg
Jorge Luis García Pérez assailed the Cuban thaw as a capitulation to the Castro's regime

The paper Can Cuba Change? in the National Endowment for Democracy's Journal of Democracy states that about nine-tenths of the populace forms an economically and politically oppressed underclass and "Using the principles of democracy and human rights to unite and mobilize this vast, dispossessed majority in the face of a highly repressive regime is the key to peaceful change". [15] Working people are a critical source of discontent. [15] The only legal trade union is controlled by the government and strikes are banned. [15] Afro-Cuban dissidents have also risen, fueled by racism in Cuba. [15]

In 2012, Amnesty International warned that repression of Cuban dissidents was on the rise over the past two years, citing the Wilmar Villar hunger strike death, as well as the arrests of prisoners of conscience Yasmin Conyedo Riveron, Yusmani Rafael Alvarez Esmori, and Antonio Michel and Marcos Máiquel Lima Cruz. [17] The Cuban Commission of Human Rights reported that there were 6,602 detentions of government opponents in 2012, up from 4,123 in 2011. [18]

Dissident groups

There are a number of opposition parties and groups that campaign for political change in Cuba. Though amendments to the Cuban Constitution of 1992 decriminalized the right to form political parties other than the Communist Party of Cuba, these parties are not permitted to engage in public political activities on the island.[ citation needed ]

Dissidents

During the "Black Spring" in 2003, the regime imprisoned 75 dissidents, including 29 journalists. [27] [28] [29] [30] Their cases were reviewed by Amnesty International who officially adopted them as prisoners of conscience. [31] To the original list of 75 prisoners of conscience resulting from the wave of arrests in spring 2003, Amnesty International added four more dissidents in January 2004. They had been arrested in the same context as the other 75 but did not receive their sentences until much later. [32] These prisoners have since been released in the face of international pressure. Tripartite talks between the Cuban government, the Catholic Church in Cuba and the Spanish government were initiated in spring 2010 in reaction to the controversial death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo in February 2010 following a hunger strike amid reports of massive abuse at the hands of prison staff. These negotiations resulted in a July 2010 agreement that all remaining prisoners of the 'Group of 75' would be freed. Spain offered to receive those prisoners who would agree to be released and immediately exiled together with their families. Of the 79 prisoners of conscience 56 were still behind bars at the time of the agreement. Of the total group, 21 are still living in Cuba today whereas the others are in exile, most of them in Spain. The final two prisoners were released on 23 March 2011. [33]

Independent bloggers

The Foreign Policy magazine named Yoani Sánchez one of the 10 Most Influential Intellectuals of Latin America, the only woman on the list. [34] An article in El Nuevo Herald by Ivette Leyva Martinez, [35] speaks to the role played by Yoani Sanchez and other young people, outside the Cuban opposition and dissidence movements, in working towards a free and democratic Cuba today:

On 29 March 2009, Yoani Sánchez, at Tania Bruguera's performance where a podium with an open mic was staged for people to have one minute of uncensored public speech, Sánchez was among people to publicly criticize censorship and said that "the time has come to jump over the wall of control". The government condemned the event. [36] [37]

Yoani Sánchez is under permanent surveillance by Cuba's police force, which camps outside her home. [38]

June 2010 letter to United States Congress

On Thursday, 10 June 2010, seventy-four of Cuba's dissidents signed a letter to the United States Congress in support of a bill that would lift the US travel ban for Americans wishing to visit Cuba. The signers include blogger Yoani Sanchez and hunger striker Guillermo Farinas, as well as Elizardo Sanchez, head of Cuba's most prominent human rights group and Miriam Leiva, who helped found the Damas de Blanco, or Ladies in White, a group of wives and mothers of jailed dissidents. The letter supports a bill introduced on 23 February by Rep. Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, that would bar the president from prohibiting travel to Cuba or blocking transactions required to make such trips. It also would bar the White House from stopping direct transfers between US and Cuban banks. The signers stated that:

We share the opinion that the isolation of the people of Cuba benefits the most inflexible interests of its government, while any opening serves to inform and empower the Cuban people and helps to further strengthen our civil society. [39]

The Center for Democracy in the Americas, a Washington-based group supporting the bill, issued a press release stating that "74 of Cuba's most prominent political dissidents have endorsed the Peterson-Moran legislation to end the travel ban and expand food exports to Cuba because in their words it is good for human rights, good for alleviating hunger, and good for spreading information and showing solidarity with the Cuban people. Their letter answers every argument the pro-embargo forces use to oppose this legislation. This, itself, answers the question 'who is speaking for the Cuban people in this debate?' - those who want to send food and Americans to visit the island and stand with ordinary Cubans, or those who don't. If Cuba's best known bloggers, dissidents, hunger strikers, and other activists for human rights want this legislation enacted, what else needs be said?" [40] [41] The Center also hosts English [42] as well as the Spanish [43] version of the letter signed by the 74 dissidents.

Notable people

Antonio Rodiles, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez and Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat in 2017 Radio Republica.jpg
Antonio Rodiles, Jorge Luis García Pérez and Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat in 2017

Hunger strikes

Pedro Luis Boitel, a poet who died on hunger strike. Pedro-Luis-Boitel.jpg
Pedro Luis Boitel, a poet who died on hunger strike.

On 3 April 1972, Pedro Luis Boitel, an imprisoned poet and dissident, declared himself on hunger strike. After 53 days on hunger strike without receiving medical assistance and receiving only liquids, he died of starvation on 25 May 1972. His last days were related by his close friend, poet Armando Valladares. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the Cólon Cemetery in Havana.

Guillermo Fariñas did a seven-month hunger strike to protest against the extensive Internet censorship in Cuba. He ended it in Autumn 2006, with severe health problems although still conscious. [46] Reporters Without Borders awarded its cyber-freedom prize to Guillermo Fariñas in 2006. [47]

Jorge Luis García Pérez (known as Antúnez) has done hunger strikes. In 2009, following the end of his 17-year imprisonment, Antúnez, his wife Iris, and Diosiris Santana Pérez started a hunger strike to support other political prisoners. Leaders from Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Argentina declared their support for Antúnez. [48] [49]

Orlando Zapata Tamayo, an imprisoned activist and dissident, died while on a hunger strike for more than 80 days. [50] Zapata went on the strike in protest against the Cuban government for having denied him the choice of wearing white dissident clothes instead of the designated prisoner uniform, as well as denouncing the living conditions of other prisoners. As part of his claim, Zapata was asking for the prisoners conditions to be comparable to those that Fidel Castro had while incarcerated after his 1953 attack against the Moncada Barracks. [51]

In 2012, Wilmar Villar Mendoza died after a 50+ day hunger strike. [52]

Cuban exiles

More than one million Cubans of all social classes have left the island to the United States, [53] and to Spain, the UK, Canada, Mexico and other countries. Because leaving required exit permit and a substantial amount of money, most Cubans could never leave Cuban soil.

Many Cuban exiles have actively campaigned for a change of government in Cuba.

See also

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  48. "Additional Latin American Leaders Join in Solidarity with Antúnez". Archived from the original on 27 October 2012.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  49. "Young Uruguayans Support Antúnez, Cuban Political Prisoners". Archived from the original on 27 October 2012.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  50. "BBS News: Americas". BBC News. 24 February 2010. Archived from the original on 16 August 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2010.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  51. The Prison Letters of Fidel Castro, by Ann Louisse Bardach and Luis Conte Aguero
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  53. Pedraza, Silvia 2007 Political Disaffection in Cuba's Revolution and Exodus (Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics)) Cambridge University Press ISBN   978-0-521-68729-4, ISBN   978-0-521-68729-4 p. 2 and many other sections of this book

Opposition groups