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Cuba

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The Cuban democracy 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]

Contents

Background

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1959- the 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]

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 "re-education".[4][5][6] Castro's military commanders brutalized the inmates.[7]

One estimate from The Black Book of Communism is that throughout Cuba 15,000-17,000 people were executed.[8] Meanwhile, in nearly all areas of government, loyalty to the regime became the primary criterion for all appointments.[9]

Tools of repression

As early as September 1959, Valdim Kotchergin (or Kochergin), a KGB agent, was seen in Cuba.[10][11] Jorge Luis Vasquez, a Cuban who was imprisoned in East Germany, states that the Stasi trained the personnel of the Cuban Interior Ministry.[12]

  • The media is operated under the Cuban Communist Party’s Department of Revolutionary Orientation, which "develops and coordinates propaganda strategies".[13]
  • 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.[14]
  • 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". This appears designed solely to preserve the current government's power.[14]
  • Cubans are not allowed to produce, distribute or store publications without telling to authorities.[14]
  • Social dangerousness, defined as violations of socialist morality, can warrant "pre-criminal measures" and "therapeutic measures".[15]
    Rapid Brigades beating dissidents in 1980
  • Regarding institutions, the Human Rights Watch report notes that the Interior Ministry has principal responsibility for monitoring the Cuban population for signs of dissent.[16]
  • 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.[16] 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".[16]

1989: Communism ends in Europe, but not in Cuba

While the communist governments in Europe fell, Cuba continued communism.

Gorbachev, who had unsuccessfully tried to replace hardline communists in Eastern Europe with reformers, might have supported Arnaldo Ochoa, a general who was executed on charges of drug trafficking. Ochoa was an obvious candidate because he had studied in the Soviet Union, spoke Russian, and had worked with Soviets before. Executing Ochoa might have been a warning to Moscow. Cuba banned Soviet publications Sputnik and Moscow News in August 1989 because they were accused of "justifying bourgeois democracy".[17]

In 1991 Castro stated that Cuba should "forget [the] world's criteria" for democracy. Castro alleged that Western "bourgeois democracy" has nothing to do with democracy and is "complete garbage".[18]

Thousands of Cubans protested in Havana and chanted "Libertad!" ("Freedom") during the Maleconazo uprising on August 5, 1994. The uprising lasted a few hours before it was dispersed by the regime's security forces.[19] A paper published in the Journal of Democracy states that this was the closest that the Cuban opposition could come to asserting itself decisively.[19]

Cuban dissidents formed the Concilio Cubano in late 1995. The Concilio planned to hold a meeting on February 24, 1996, a plan which was blocked by the regime. The regime arrested many of the leading activists and labeled them as "counterrevolutionary grouplets".[19]

The Varela Project started in 1998.

Situation today

Cuba is the only authoritarian country in the Americas, according to the The Economist's 2008 Democracy Index. The island was the second largest prison in the world for journalists in 2008, second only to the People's Republic of China, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an international press organization.[20] Military of Cuba is a central organization; it controls 60 percent of the economy and is Raúl Castro's base.[19]

According to a paper published in 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."[21]

The paper Can Cuba Change? on the 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".[19] Working people are a critical source of discontent.[19] The only allowed trade union is controlled by the government and strikes are banned.[19]. Afro-Cuban dissidents have risen, fueled by racism in Cuba.[19]

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.

Dissidents

Guillermo Fariñas. He did a seven-month hunger strike against the pervasive Internet censorship.

During the "Black Spring" in 2003, the regime imprisoned 75 dissidents, including 29 journalists.[25][26][27][28]

The Foreign Policy magazine named Yoani Sánchez one of the 10 Most Influential Intellectuals of Latin America, the only woman on the list.[29] An article in El Nuevo Herald by Ivette Leyva Martinez,[30] 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 democractic Cuba today:

Amid the paralysis of the dissidence, bloggers, with Yoani Sanchez in the lead, rebel artists such as the writer Orlando Luis Pardo, and musicians such as Gorki Aguila are a promising sign of growing civic resistance to the Cuban dictatorship. And el castrismo, without doubt, has taken note. Will they succeed in sparking a popular movement, or at least consciousness of the need for democracy in Cuba? Who knows. The youngest sector of Cuban society is the one least committed to the dictatorship but at the same time the most apolitical, the one most permeated with political skepticism, escapism, and other similar 'isms.' It would seem, however, that after 50 years of dictatorship, public rejection of that regime is taking on more original and independent forms. Finally, a breeze of fresh, hopeful air.

On March 29, 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.[31][32]

Yoani Sánchez is under permanent surveillance by Cuba's police force, which camps outside her home.[33]

Notable people

Hunger strikes

Pedro Luis Boitel, a poet who died on hunger strike.[35]

On April 3, 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 May 25, 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.[36] Reporters Without Borders awarded its cyber-freedom prize to Guillermo Fariñas in 2006.[37]

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.[38][39]

Amnesty International's 75 prisoners of conscience

In 2003, Amnesty International declared 75 prisoners of conscience.[40] Many of them have been released in the face of international pressure.

Cuban exiles

More than one million Cubans of all social classes have left the island to the United States,[41] and to Spain, The U.K., Canada, Mexico and other countries. Because leaving requires exit permit and substantial amount of money, most Cubans can never leave Cuban soil.

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

See also

References

  1. ^ "Cuban Democracy movement"
  2. ^ "Cuba". Human Rights Watch. 2006. http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/01/18/cuba12207.htm.  
  3. ^ a b Paul H. Lewis. Authoritarian regimes in Latin America.  
  4. ^ Katherine Hirschfeld. Health, politics, and revolution in Cuba since 1898.  
  5. ^ Ian Lumsden. Machos, Maricones, and Gays.  
  6. ^ Dilip K. Das, Michael Palmiotto. World Police Encyclopedia. p. 217.  
  7. ^ Ian Lumsden. Machos, Maricones, and Gays. p. 70.  
  8. ^ Black Book of Communism. p. 664.
  9. ^ Clifford L. Staten. The history of Cuba.  
  10. ^ (British Foreign Office. Chancery American Department, Foreign Office, London September 2, 1959 (2181/59) to British Embassy Havana classified as restricted Released 2000 by among British Foreign Office papers FOREIGN OFFICES FILES FOR CUBA Part 1: Revolution in Cuba “in our letter 1011/59 May 6 we mentioned that a Russian workers' delegation had been invited to participate in the May Day celebrations here, but had been delayed. The interpreter with the party, which arrived later and stayed in Cuba a few days, was called Vadim Kotchergin although he was at the time using what he subsequently claimed was his mother's name of Liston (?). He remained in the background, and did not attract any attention..”
  11. ^ El campo de entrenamiento "Punto Cero" donde el Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC) adiestra a terroristas nacionales e internacionales. Cuban American Foundation. http://www.canf.org/2005/1es/noticias-de-Cuba/2005-nov-07-el-campo-de-entrenamiento.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-08.   (English title: The training camp "Point Zero" where the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) trained national and international terrorists)
    “... Los coroneles soviéticos de la KGB Vadim Kochergin y Victor Simonov (ascendido a general en 1970) fueron entrenadores en "Punto Cero" desde finales de los años 60 del siglo pasado. Uno de los" graduados" por Simonov en este campo de entrenamiento es Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, más conocido como "Carlos El Chacal". Otro "alumno" de esta instalación del terror es el mexicano Rafael Sebastián Guillén, alias "subcomandante Marcos", quien se "graduó" en "Punto Cero" a principio de los años 80.”
  12. ^ Levitin, Michael (November 4, 2007) ( – Scholar search). La Stasi entrenó a la Seguridad cubana. Nuevo Herald. http://www.elnuevoherald.com/209/story/112259.html.  
  13. ^ "10 most censored countries". http://www.cpj.org/censored/censored_06.html.  
  14. ^ a b c "III. IMPEDIMENTS TO HUMAN RIGHTS IN CUBAN LAW". Human Rights Watch. 1999. http://www.hrw.org/legacy/reports/1999/cuba/Cuba996-03.htm#P642_91747.  
  15. ^ "II. CUBA'S INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS OBLIGATIONS". Human Rights Watch. http://www.hrw.org/legacy/reports/1999/cuba/Cuba996-02.htm#P536_69587.  
  16. ^ a b c "VIII. ROUTINE REPRESSION". Human Rights Watch. 1999. http://www.hrw.org/legacy/reports/1999/cuba/Cuba996-08.htm#P1517_344135.  
  17. ^ Jay Mallin. Covering Castro: rise and decline of Cuba's communist dictator. p. 175.  
  18. ^ "Defiant Castro Calls Western Democracy 'Complete Garbage'". New York Times. October 14, 1991. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/10/14/world/defiant-castro-calls-western-democracy-complete-garbage.html.  
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h Carl Gershman and Orlando Gutierrez. "Can Cuba Change?". Journal of Democracy January 2009, Volume 20, Number 1. http://www.journalofdemocracy.org/articles/gratis/Gutierrez-20-1.pdf.  
  20. ^ "CPJ's 2008 prison census: Online and in jail". Committee to Protect Journalists. http://cpj.org/reports/2008/12/cpjs-2008-prison-census-online-and-in-jail.php.  
  21. ^ "Challenges to a Post-Castro Cuba". Harvard International Review. http://ctp.iccas.miami.edu/website_documents/Challenges.pdf.  
  22. ^ "Cuba - Massive crackdown on dissent". Amnesty International. August 28 2003. http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR250082003?open&of=ENG-CUB. Retrieved 2006-10-22.  
  23. ^ "Cuba backs permanent socialism". BBC News. June 27, 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2069057.stm. Retrieved 2006-10-22.  
  24. ^ "Yo No Coopero Con La Dictadura website". http://www.nocooperacion.org/.  
  25. ^ Carlos Lauria, Monica Campbell, and María Salazar (March 18, 2008). "Cuba's Long Black Spring". The Committee To Protect Journalists. http://cpj.org/reports/2008/03/cuba-press-crackdown.php.  
  26. ^ "Black Spring of 2003: A former Cuban prisoner speaks". The Committee to Protect Journalists. http://cpj.org/blog/2009/03/the-black-spring-of-2003-a-former-cuban-prisoner-s.php.  
  27. ^ "Three years after "black spring" the independent press refuses to remain in the dark". The Reporters Without Borders. http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=16771.  
  28. ^ "Cuba - No surrender by independent journalists, five years on from “black spring”". The Reporters Without Borders. March 2008. http://www.rsf.org/IMG/pdf/Cuba_report.pdf.  
  29. ^ "Foreign Policy Espanol: Los 10 intelectuales mas influyentes de iberoamerica". http://www.fp-es.org/los-10-intelectuales-mas-influyentes-de-iberoamerica. Retrieved Feb 21 2009.  
  30. ^ "El Nuevo Herald: The wall of the dissidence". http://www.elnuevoherald.com/noticias/mundo/columnas_de_opinion/story/390227.html. Retrieved Feb 25 2009.  
  31. ^ "Cuba accuses blogger of "provocation"". Reuters. April 1, 2009. http://uk.reuters.com/article/internetNews/idUKTRE5306OQ20090401.  
  32. ^ "Participants in art show branded as `dissidents'". Miami Herald. April 1, 2009. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/americas/cuba/story/978051.html.  
  33. ^ "Yoani sends a thank you note to her spies". France24. http://observers.france24.com/en/content/20090217-yoani-sanchez-sends-thank-you-note-spies-cuba.  
  34. ^ "Castro opponent free after 17 years in jail". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSN2331960920070423.  
  35. ^ "Foreword to 'Boitel Vive'". http://www.cadal.org/english/nota.asp?id_nota=1007.  
  36. ^ "Guillermo Fariñas ends seven-month-old hunger strike for Internet access". Reporters Without Borders. 1 September 2006. http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=16397.  
  37. ^ "Cyber-freedom prize for 2006 awarded to Guillermo Fariñas of Cuba". Reporters Without Borders. http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=20125.  
  38. ^ "Additional Latin American Leaders Join in Solidarity with Antúnez". http://www.directorio.org/pressreleases/note.php?note_id=2389.  
  39. ^ "Young Uruguayans Support Antúnez, Cuban Political Prisoners". http://www.directorio.org/pressreleases/note.php?note_id=2357.  
  40. ^ "Cuba: One year too many: prisoners of conscience from the March 2003 crackdown". Amnesty International. 16 March 2004. http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR25/005/2004.  
  41. ^ Pedraza, Silvia 2007 Political Disaffection in Cuba's Revolution and Exodus (Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics)) Cambridge University Press ISBN 0521687292, ISBN 978-0521687294 p. 2 and many other sections of this book

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