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Posted August 12, 2008 by publisher in Oswaldo Paya

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By email from Oswaldo Paya’s Christian Liberation Movement

With all due respect to the American side—as the country where many Cuban exiles have found a home and many with Cuban ancestry are sons and daughters of that nation by birth—I would like to discuss the Cuban dimension of the so-called Cuban-American family.
In the most complete and just sense of family, these Cuban-American families are an inseparable part of the Cuban family. For us, no one is “almost family” but simply family. When one part of the family suffers, regardless of where it may be, so does the other.
If anything has marked world history and the history of the Cuban people, it is Cubans’ almost obsessive rootedness and love for Cuba that can only be compared to the Hebrew people in their defense of their identity and belonging. No one denies that a fundamental aspect of that character is the strength and permanence of the Cuban family. This is how we are. So what?
It is not possible to defend the Cuban-American family without defending the entire Cuban family that includes the family living in exile and the one living in Cuba.
On June 25th, I read a full-page article in Granma written by Mr. Gabriel Molina entitled “A Challenge to Anti-Cuban Prohibitions.” In it, he refers to electoral matters in the counties of southern Florida. This is not my topic, as regarding electoral issues, what we defend are the rights denied to Cubans to nominate directly their representatives and to elect and be elected through an electoral law. This is what the Varela Project proposes—that the people may decide, freely and democratically, who should represent them.
Remember that in Cuba, the right to popular sovereignty is denied: not only through a climate of fear and a lack of respect for fundamental rights, but also through Electoral Law #72. This law establishes that 614 candidates for the National Assembly are to be selected by committees of organizations controlled (or not?) by the Communist Party, from which voters may select 614 representatives (this is what the Electoral Law dictates; this is not a commentary of mine.) Imagine: one candidate for each seat! But this was not the topic of the article, nor of the elections in Florida and the rest of the United States—elections that Cuba’s official press has covered with much interest.
What interested me most about the article, which was filled with quotes, is the issue of family rights. This issue, among others, was addressed in a conference hosted by the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C. The conference apparently focused heavily on electoral issues, something I have already admitted is not my topic.
According to Granma, during that conference Mr. Alvaro Fernandez, representing the Cuban-American Commission for Family Rights and other conference participants, stated, “…we all agreed on the following: the cruelty of the restrictions that limit family travel to Cuba…”
Should I believe that this consensus condemnation includes the cruelty on the part of the Cuban government not to allow my brothers to visit Cuba to see our mother—suffering from cancer—before she dies? Or the detention of my nephew—a Cuban living in Spain—when he arrived at José Martí airport [in Havana] and his deportation two days later? For Cubans, entering or leaving Cuba is not a recognized right.
All of us within the Christian Liberation Movement have defended, and will continue to defend, the right of all Cubans to travel to any country and to enter and exit Cuba freely. We are therefore against any restriction that prevents Cubans from coming to Cuba whenever they desire, without conditions.
Respecting the right of Cubans who live outside of Cuba to come to Cuba should not be conditioned on change in Cuba; this would inflict double punishment on the same victim. But Cubans living outside of Cuba must act in solidarity with their brothers and demand all the rights of Cubans living in Cuba, for in doing so, they are demanding their own rights.
If fear reaches them outside of Cuba, and they decide to pay the price of silence—or even feign complacency—to be allowed to enter their own country as “visitors,” they will only contribute to the extension of the humiliation of all. If they do not see it this way, they should look at the passport they used to leave Cuba and explain why it says “definitive exit.” Who established that clause of exile? In any case, everyone must respect the decision and right of all Cubans to come to their country.
A little more than six months ago—on December 18, 2007—we made the first civic demand of the Cuban Forum Campaign. We presented to the offices of the National Assembly a proposal for a bill of National Reconciliation titled the “Heredia Project.” Cubans can explain to their children and non-Cubans why it is named HEREDIA (http://www.oswaldopaya.org ).
The Law of National Reconciliation recognizes all Cuban exiles—or émigrés for whatever reason—and their children as Cubans, and therefore recognizes all their rights as Cuban citizens. It also guarantees the right of all Cubans—living inside or outside of Cuba—to enter and exit Cuba freely and to return to live here, in their country. The law proclaims the end of the punishing category of “definitive exit,” the end of confiscations or looting of properties of Cubans who emigrate from that moment on, and the end of the need for permission for Cubans to exit and enter Cuba. This law also eliminates all the humiliating discriminations we suffer as Cubans in our own country.
This Heredia Project, which does not suffer from partial moral paralysis, would have served as a timely clarification at that conference in Washington. If one speaks of justice and against cruelty, it is a priority to demand the release of those jailed in Cuba for defending the Cuban family and all Cubans who defend their rights.
Neither Granma—which is funded by public money—nor the areas where many Cuban exiles live has published or talked much about the Heredia Project.
We will continue to struggle from here for the rights of all, including our beloved and inseparable Cuban family in the diaspora—which is the same Cuban family, one family, like the one people that we are. Above all, we must remember that this state, the state of their ancestors, does not recognize their civil rights and has imposed upon them—in practice—the condition of refugees. Many families have been separated cruelly and arbitrarily as punishment against so-called “deserters”; this is just one example of many.
The Cuban Forum Campaign continues the demands of the Varela Project. All Cubans, yes, would like to live in Cuba, but as free men and women with all their rights. It is a campaign for peace because it is a campaign for justice and liberty. It is a campaign for reconciliation because it declares a sincere dialogue where all have a voice. It is a campaign for fraternity to announce, in turn, a true liberation.
If they silence those of us who, with transparency and determination, demand the rights to liberty and the respect of the dignity of all Cubans, other voices will speak for the people that does not have voice—and not necessarily to demand their rights.
No one should say only, “the Christian Liberation Movement wants to end restrictions of Cubans traveling to Cuba.” This is true, but only part of the truth. Better would be for all to say bravely, “let’s support the Heredia Project, the right of Cubans to all rights wherever they may be, their right to travel to Cuba without restrictions, to enter Cuba and to live in Cuba without restrictions, and to leave Cuba, to express themselves freely and, above all, the right to be free and to enjoy all their rights in their own country. That is liberation.
Oswaldo Jose Payá Sardiñas is the national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement

Christian Liberation Movement
Julio A. Hernández, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) , (787) 549-1805
Francisco de Armas, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) , (787) 447-1878
Carlos A. Payá, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

  1. Follow up post #1 added on August 12, 2008 by abh

    The “Definitive Exit” policy is definitely something that should be high on the priority of things to dissolve.
    It adds to the pain of Cubans who leave and one must acknowledge that it adds to the “Brain Drain” and any other type of drain that Cuba has felt acutely, ever since the first wave of doctors and other professionals left after the revolution.
    This is a relic of the cold war policy that dominates Cuba till this day and as the nation changes and hopefully normalizes relations with the US I hope to see this “Definitve” status discontinued.

  2. Follow up post #2 added on August 13, 2008 by cubanpete with 127 total posts

    A nation’s use of exit visas is a hallmark of any dictatorship.

    For change (cambio) we can believe in.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on August 13, 2008 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    and a nation’s use of policies that keeps its citizens from visiting countries they wish to visit is a hallmark of ....... ?

  4. Follow up post #4 added on August 13, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    stupid policy but not a dictatorship.

    Cuba consulting services

  5. Follow up post #5 added on August 17, 2008 by bluemarlinon with 8 total posts

    all americans not just cuban americans would like to see thier democratic right to travel anywhere they see fit to. if cuban americans would join the rest of us just plain americans in our fight to due away with this unjust embargo we all would have our rights back. its just that simple.

  6. Follow up post #6 added on August 18, 2008 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    if only it were that simple…
    seems there is a strong cuban american lobby that wants the embargo and thats why gwb strengthened it and does the strong anti-castro rhetoric - for that all important florida vote.

  7. Follow up post #7 added on August 18, 2008 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Lot of comments about the limitations for Cuban-Americans and Americans to visit Cuba. However not enough is said about the restrictions and prohibitions that the Cuban Government keeps in place (violating the UN Chapter of Rights) for the Cubans living in the Island and elsewhere.

    I’m personally against the embargo, simply because there is not such thing. Is a failed policy that does not work.
    The fact is that Cuba buys and exports to whichever country they like except the US and even the US is now one of the prime Cuban trade partners for agricultural products.

    A lot is being said about the embargo but most people don’t realize that the Government of Cuba is not interested in removing the embargo. The Government of Cuba is not interested in millions of US Citizens flocking its beaches and bringing lots of USD but also the ideas of freedom.

    Is very clear that the Cuban Government has never cared about the wellbeing of their people. They only care about their own well being, keeping themselves in power and the US Embargo helps them with their propaganda machine.

    Sometimes I wonder why the Pro-Castro speakers here in this forum never talks about the limitations for the Cubans to leave Cuba whenever they want or for the Cubans that has left Cuba to return to their country whenever they want and for the length of time that they want like in most countries in the world including Venezuela and Bolivia.

  8. Follow up post #8 added on August 26, 2008 by Juan M. Gonzalez-Piloto

    As stated by Yeyo, above, there is no “embargo” in place.  The only embargo is the fact that Cuba’s monarchy does not recognize the citizenship of person naturalized in the U.S., nor does it recognize the U.S. citizenship of U.S.-born children of this group.  See, http://havana.usinterestsection.gov/acs.html.  This causes this group to have to apply for a “Cuban” passport and entry permit for over $600.00 per person.  If a so-called Cuban “citizen” living in Mexico or any other county that fee would be only around $200.00 and if they had Mexican citizenship would not even have to get a Cuban Passport, just the Tourist visa, as long as they lied and stated that they were NOT going to visit family or friends.  What’s the difference.  WOW! if U.S. Citizens had to get and paid $1.00 for an entry permit to return to the U.S., no one would allow that.  The fact of the matter, travel restrictions are placed on American Citizens by the monarchy and NOT the other way around.  If you are a non-“former Cuban U.S. Citizen” (this term is defined as any previously having Cuban nationality or born to persons that formerly had Cuban nationality no matter where you’re born—In other words, the monarchy in Cuba determines even though you are born in the U.S., you are NOT a U.S. Citizen and subject to various Cuban-only laws, including being drafted into their military) you would only pay $50.00 for a visa, as long as you are not visiting relatives or friends.  See, http://embacu.cubaminrex.cu/Default.aspx?alias=embacu.cubaminrex.cu/sicw.  So who is restricting “non-tourist” humanitarian travel??  The answer is clearly the monarchy.  This easing of policy is only a ploy by the monarchy to earn much needed hard currency, it is not intended to be for any humanitarian purposes.  Even people that the monarchy determines to be U.S. Citizen have to lie and state that you are NOT visiting friends as tourist visas are not authorized for visiting friends or family otherwise you have to pay an additional entry tax the “former Cuban U.S. Citizens” have to pay.  I bet you and your readers were not aware of this.  We Americans are so gullible.

  9. Follow up post #9 added on August 26, 2008 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    Actually Cuba is not alone in not accepting your loss of citizenship when you take up another citizenship. Many people have discovered this when they visit their born-countries and discover they have to fulfil an obligatory military service (France and Greece come to mind).

    Also its not unusual to have to obtain a “real” visa for non-touristic visits (and going for the purpose of visiting family is not a touristic thing.

    This having been said, its sad that both the US and Cuban governments use Cuban-Americans for various political ploys.  Hopefully the day will come soon when this is a past practice of both governments.

  10. Follow up post #10 added on August 26, 2008 by Juan M. Gonzalez-Piloto


  11. Follow up post #11 added on August 26, 2008 by Juan M. Gonzalez-Piloto


  12. Follow up post #12 added on August 26, 2008 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    Juan , you are probably right with that specifically, but i just wanted to point out that some other countries also have special rules that apply to Naturalized Americans when they return to their home countries.

  13. Follow up post #13 added on August 26, 2008 by Juan M. Gonzalez-Piloto

    Manfredz, I just checked both the Greek and French embassy websites and what you said is just patently FALSE.  See, http://www.greekembassy.org/embassy/content/en/Root.aspx?office=11 and http://ambafrance-us.org/spip.php?rubrique2.  Only the Cuban Monarchy requires its former-citizens to travel with false Cuban passports, in violation of all international accords.  Stop defending the most corrupt system ever.    FREED GORKI - PORNO PARA RICARDO— http://zoevaldes.wordpress.com/2008/08/26/¡free-gorki/

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