14ymedio, Havana, February 24, 2021 — A group of former military officers from the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Cuban Ministry of the Interior have published a manifesto in which they declare themselves to be conscientious objectors, denouncing the Cuban regime for having unleashed “a war against the people and their economic initiatives.”
The document, released by Radio and Television Martí, alleges that military elites control “all profitable activities of the Gaesa monopoly without any oversight of its operations or income” and that its profits are not “being invested for the benefit of the people.”
“In the face of widespread poverty throughout the country, a caste of corrupt senior officials and bureaucrats have established a mafia state and are enjoying a life of leisure,” write the signatories. These include former brigadier general Rafael del Pino, former lieutenant colonels Omar Ruiz Matoses (father of dissidents Ariel and Omara Ruiz Urquiola), Mario Riva Morales and Alfredo Lima Perez, and former first-lieutenant Angel Madrazo Giro.
The authors state, “We oppose any order or plan to use military force to repress legitimate protests and demands by the public,” adding that they are also against weapons “being used to attack the people.”
“No one should follow orders which repress our families, neighbors, friends and other citizens. We urge anyone who can do so to request discharge or retirement from these bodies. The time has come to end the repression of women, seniors, children and young people who demand a dignified life.”
They also expressed their opposition to the Armed Forces continued recruitment of young people for military sevice in the midst of the current Covid-19 health crisis.
“The only real and immediate threat to the nation is widespread hunger,” they insist. “Families need to be able to rely on their young members to support them in their multiple endeavors for daily survival.”
As far as Gaesa’s activities go, they ask that the conglomerate’s profits be treated as part of the public domain. They charge that an elite cadre of corrupt soldiers and civilians “continues to speak on behalf of a revolution that they themselves buried long ago while while the puplic — especially retirees — is left to suffer in the most abject poverty. There is no longer any revolution or socialism to defend. Enough is enough!”
“What we want is ’homeland and life,’”* repeating a phrase from the song by the group Gente de Zona. A video of it performed by group members Yotuel Romero, Descemer Bueno, El Osorbo and El Funky has gone viral.
The manifesto was published on February 24 to coincide with the 126th anniversary of the Cry of Baire, “the definitive starting point in the struggle for independence which would lead to the founding of the homeland [José] Martí wanted to achieve.”
*Translator’s note: a twist on the well-known Cuban communist slogan “Patria o Muerte” (Homeland or Death.)
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