Opinions

Who can deny that there are a great number of prisoners in Cuba suffering the most severe jail conditions existing in today’s world? For them there is neither day nor night because they are blindfolded and in complete darkness. Their ears are also plugged and they remain in complete silence. They are deprived of all tactile sensations because their hands are covered with a kind of gloves. There are hundreds of prisoners whose names have not been published and nobody knows what they are accused of. They have not been put on trial much less sentenced. Furthermore, they have no attorney and are serving limitless terms.

These prisoners in Cuba are not in jail because of Fidel Castro but are instead prisoners of President Bush in Guantanamo (U.S. Naval Base). They are in individual cells and dressed in red suits that we have all seen, but we know no more about them. Since they are Bush’s prisoners and not Fidel Castro’s, the U.S. press says nothing about them. And I ask if the European Union has protested on behalf of these people imprisoned in Cuba. Has the European Union demanded the U.S. release them, as it has demanded Cuba immediately release 75 prisoners?

Another question I ask is if terrorism is protected in Cuba, and I answer it saying, by all means. Terrorism is protected in Cuba by President Bush through the Cuban Adjustment Act, which is not Cuban but North American and is only implemented for Cuba and not any other country. According to this law, those who arrive in the U.S. after having hijacked a Cuban plane or ship are immediately given the right to residency and receive immediate employment. The Cuban people do not receive visas to enter the U.S. normally but if they do it illegally they are awarded a prize. Doesn’t this promote terrorism in Cuba? However, Bush, not Fidel, is the one who promotes it. Those who reach the U.S. to live from any other part of the world are called immigrants, but those who come from Cuba are called exiles.

A common practice of the U.S. government is to falsify language, fabricate words, changing one name for another – in fact openly lying. For example, instead of using the word “conquer” they use the word “liberate.” Now they have invented a new word used in relation to Cuba, the word “dissident.” The real sense of this word is disagree, think differently. But the word is used for those involved in conspiracies that promote subversion and try to overthrow the Cuban regime. “To promote transition” is another way to say it. I ask: Who protests when in another country (not Cuba) those who want to overthrow the regime are put in prison?

A short time ago, I read in the newspaper that six people were condemned to death in Guatemala. It was a very small, 6-column-inch article. After that news appeared, there was no protest in that newspaper nor in any other. My other question is the following: To what extent is the opposition to the death penalty sincere if six people were shot by a firing squad in Guatemala and nobody says anything, but if three people are shot in Cuba, there is a worldwide scandal of incredible proportions? Maybe the world press is not mobilized against the death penalty but against Cuba and Fidel Castro? And what about the intellectuals who should be aware – don’t they realize it?

According to the 2002 Amnesty International report, death sentences last year totaled 1,560 worldwide. None of them was in Cuba. How many protests took place because of those 1,560 executions? Now that there were three in Cuba there was an avalanche of protest. Haven’t those intellectuals realized they were used by the anti-Cuban campaign? The three executions in Cuba and the arrest of 75 persons happened in special circumstances and honest people could not ignore them. We are talking about a country on full alert, facing the danger of being invaded. At the moment when the U.S. was waging war on Iraq, the Bush government declared that Cuba is on the list of military objectives for possible invasion and mass destruction. Meanwhile, the anti-Castro Cubans in the United States launched the slogan “Iraq today, Cuba tomorrow.” Those accusing Cuba of human rights violations were the ones committing in Iraq the greatest violation of human rights that the world has seen since the times of Hitler. And those who condemned Cuba for shooting three people by firing squad were destroying Baghdad in a way that had not occurred since the 13th century when the Mongols invaded. And they also declared that they were willing to do the same in other countries including Cuba. My questions are merely those of a newspaper reader.

Ernesto Cardenal is a noted poet and former minister of culture in the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. This is a translation of an essay that originally appeared in El Nuevo Diario, Managua, Nicaragua.

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