Compatriots, the European Union is requiring the Cuban government to make a transition towards democracy as a condition for improved relations. This is the essence of the Common Position of the European Union, which the Spanish government, an ally of Castro-ism, has fruitlessly tried to invalidate.
With similar arguments, the United States limits its commerce with Cuba in terms of food and medicine, in addition to also prohibiting its citizens from traveling to Cuba as tourists, using these means to avoid enriching the dictatorship with billions of dollars. There are also powerful personalities in the US who are trying to repeal that restriction.
Both political approaches, that of the EU and the US, are products of their frustrating experiences with the Castro government. Europeans and Americans are concerned with the shameful situation of the Cuban people. They wish to help Cubans enjoy the freedom and progress which they enjoy under a democratic system. Of course, the threats hurled to them by the old tyrannical and corrupt figures who surround Raul Castro and what is left of his brother do not affect them in the least bit.
The recent sacrifice of Orlando Zapata, just like the inexcusable acts of repression against the Ladies in White are what guide the criticisms from Europe and Washington which state that they cannot unilaterally give in to the tyranny as long as it does not give any authentic signs of moving towards democracy. Experience and logic indicate that democratic Cubans should be thankful for such politics and support and enforce them.
During the past few months, the democratic Cuban opposition, on and off the island, has been able to reach a level of affinity or a tacit understanding of great importance. In these circumstances, what is reasonable is that opposition groups inside and outside of Cuba will calibrate their actions in a manner that is far from creating any sort of imbalance within that very implicit or virtual opposition coalition, they should strengthen it while avoiding actions or controversies that will pit us against each other.
This does not mean that the right of each person to organize or express an idea must be curtailed. Instead, it means that priority must be given to the affinities that unite us over those that separate us. It also does not imply that we can’t dialogue among each other, openly and respectfully, about important issues and strategies for the future of democracy in Cuba. It is only through that very dialogue that we will be able to construct common positions that will strengthen our fight.
A recent document addressed to the Congress of the United States, signed by a respectable group of dissidents on the island, has proposed, among other things, the support of a project which would allow US tourists to travel to Cuba, suggesting that this would help us in the transition towards democracy.
It is understandable that with the isolation and repression that we live through in this island, a gesture of an opening could seem to be positive. That general idea is probably what inspired them to make such suggestions, without a doubt with good-willed intentions. However, if one reasons in a more thorough manner, it is inevitable to conclude that opening in this fashion would only help to make the dictatorship stronger.
Tourism in a democratic country is one thing, where each citizen has the option to participate in that industry with legal guarantees and financial options, where an open work force allows the youth to engage in multiple labor opportunities. Tourism in a totalitarian country like ours is different. The government and their allied foreign capitalists have monopolized the industry.
We all know that tourism has created a profound social wound in our country. It has increased the scandalous situation of prostitution among young people of both genders, and the corruption of a sector which benefits under the hand of the dictatorship. It is obvious to all of us that the Castro tyranny, together with their foreign allies, are the ones who consume the majority of the wealth in convertible currency from the more than 2 million tourists that annually travel to Cuba, easing the repressive and political monopoly exercised by the government while they exploit the population with salaries that leave them hungry.
More tourists will not be synonymous with more freedoms, nor more food for the country, nor more medicines or housing for the majority that needs it. While in Cuba there is no existing democracy, an increase in tourism would mean an increase in prostitution, more privileges, and more corruption.
For various decades now, Cuba has received visits from millions of Canadians, Europeans, and Latin-Americans. Sadly, we are all witnesses of the real and lacerating consequences of that tourism of our society. Tourists are not ambassadors of freedom and democracy. They have not been such in Cuba, the same way they were not during Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, or Greece during its military dictatorships. Tourists travel to seek enjoyment, and they are very cautious to not upset the regime of the country they visit. No one wants to spend their vacations in jail.
The path towards freedom for Cuba will not be defined by an opening towards tourism, but instead will stem from the unity of the opposition and by the firmness and seriousness which we carry out our supportive positions, like that of the EU and the US. Before international public opinion, the task of us Cubans is to stay united to demand the immediate liberation of all prisoners with unjust sentences, the end of political repression, and the beginning of a democratic transition.
Country, People, and Freedom
From the National Executive:
Roberto Marrero La Rosa
Reinaldo Villafana Villavicencio
Ricardo Medina Salabarria
Katia Sonia Martin Veliz
Nivaldo Amado Ramirez
Jorge Estable Rodriguez
Cesar Gonzalez Figueredo
Alejandro Cabrera Cruz
Liliana Bencomo Menendez
Marlene Bermudez Sardinas
Camaguey, June 14th 2010
Translated by Raul G.