Forum for Rights and Freedoms: Declaration
VII Summit of the Americas
Violations of fundamental rights in Cuba are enshrined in the current legal system. The full exercise of these fundamental rights is considered directly opposed to the interests “of the Cuban people in building socialism and communism.”
The so-called constitution establishes the ownership and control of the State and the Communist Party over the communication media and mass distribution. The Law of Protection of National Independence and the Economy of Cuba, known as the Gag Law, sets sentences of up to 20 years for those who attempt to violate this provision.
Trade unions, civic, professional and human rights associations that do not profess the official ideology are not recognized. Those who attempt to organize meetings or found independent associations can suffer imprisonment, dismissal, harassment or intimidation. Thousands of Cubans have paid, even with their lives, for trying to exercise their freedoms.
The Penal Code defines “pre-criminal dangerousness” and applies it according to the standards of a supposed “socialist morality.” Arrests, imprisonments and beatings of human rights activists, political opponents and independent journalists are recurring.
The use of violence on the part of paralegal groups as a form of social control has been one of the most abhorrent practices of the Castro regime. This deplorable experience has been exported to other Latin American nations, as was the case of the Dignity Brigades 25 years ago in Panama, and the so-called Collectives in Venezuela today.
Economic rights are also violated and the entrepreneurial capacity and character of Cubans struggling against a regime obsessed with control. Corruption, taxes that smother micro-businesses, total State control over imports and exports, the absence of property rights, make up a part of our scenario. The economic situation is dire.
The regime has ratified dozens of international treaties on the issue of Human Rights, although it refuses to ratify the Human Rights Covenants of the United Nations. However, the majority of these standards have not been applied to the legal system, becoming a dead letter. The Castro regime continues to hide fugitives from justice for common crimes and terrorism. It violates international norms as in in the case of the recent arms trafficking and maintains a “complicit silence” about the trafficking of Cubans to the United States through third countries.
We do not accept the mutation of a neo-Castro authoritarianism, where the old elite transfers power to its political and family heirs.
The sovereignty of our country does not rest on a despotic and corrupt regime. It rests in the people and, in particular, in those of us who fight for a true democracy: with political pluralism, an independent judiciary, freedom and human rights. Where we Cubans can define our destinies through consultations and free and transparent electoral processes, as set out in important opposition documents such as: The Agreement for Democracy, or the Forum for Rights and Freedoms Roadmap.
No society can be viable if it oppresses the human being. To accept that there are different interpretations of our freedoms constitutes a tactic that validates authoritarianism as an alternate form to democracy on our continent.
We appeal to the solidarity and the just support of the entire regional and international community to initiate the urgent path to the democratization of our nation.