Europa Press (via 14ymedio), Madrid, 4 March 2022 — The prominent Cuban government opponent Guillermo Fariñas has detailed this Friday that there is not “sufficient capacity in Cuba for so many political prisoners” and has claimed that the country is experiencing a “battle situation,” something that he considers “good to know.”
In a press conference organized by the Cuban Human Rights Observatory (OCDH) in Madrid, the dissident explained that currently “the most essential” part of the situation in Cuba is “the high level of social protests” that are taking place, especially against as a result of the demonstrations of July 11, which has led to the indictment of almost 800 people.
Thus, he highlights the attitude, especially, of the younger population, who are in a “confrontational position” and carry out vandalism or urban guerrilla acts, burning down fundamentally state-owned premises, as he explained.
“It is good that it is known that Cuba is in a battle situation,” he clarified before pointing out that the main groups in power are experiencing “problems.” “There is a group that is disappearing for obvious reasons, that of the generals of the Army Corps. The dynamics of confrontation make the foundation of their group repression,” he said before saying that the Cuban people “are being ignored.”
The Cuban people “do not have the right to power, to opinion, to prosperity, to free enterprise… Because the creation of small businesses is generally carried out by relatives of people with a high political profile in support of the Government,” he lamented. In this sense, he has stated that from the United Anti-Totalitarian Forum (Fantu), an organization he leads, we find ourselves before “a military junta, which sometimes wears civilian clothes but every time we go to investigate it becomes military.”
Fariñas affirmed that this, “added to the fact that the young and not so young spontaneously took to the streets, makes them afraid of losing all their earnings in convertible currency… That is why we find ourselves in a situation of real repression. Because they have come to understand that the people who are protesting must be picked up and taken away, withdrawn, threatened (…) and the repression continues,” he said.
In addition, he stated that since 1980 there had not been such a high number of political prisoners –currently around a thousand — which shows that “they are willing to use the ultimate consequences to maintain their power… It is important that the Cuban nation is seen as a single entity,” he added.
“When the other social outbreaks that are going to occur occur,” he says in relation to a situation that he considers unsustainable, we will have “a high-pressure cooker with no escape valve because there is a quarter of the population that can receive aid, but the other three quarters don’t, and those are the ones who are protesting.”
The opponent stressed that this is the message that he has comuicated to the European Parliament during his visit this week to Brussels, where he has met with the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, and has stated that it is important to protect those who have defended the cause even from the European institutions.
“Europe is under attack. It is now at the level of Ukraine but it is not known where it will end,” he stressed in relation to the Russian invasion of the territory, which began more than a week ago.
Likewise, he pointed out that “friends must be seen especially in these circumstances” and has defended that the opposition has tried to sit down with all political groups, “even with those who call us mercenaries.”
In Spain, he insists, United We Can and the United Left have refused to meet. “If they had wanted, we would have debated. (…) We do it with anyone, because if we are capable of dialoguing with those who oppress us, we do it with everyone because we are representing the entire Cuban society, and there are different spectrums.”
Fariñas applauds, in turn, the possibility of having signed the Madrid Charter in defense of freedom and democracy, a document prepared by the Disenso Foundation and led by the leader of Vox, Santiago Abascal. For the opponent, the current situation in Europe could lead to changes when dealing with the Cuban reality, especially from the European Union: “It is indisputable that the fact that the president of the European Parliament has decided to meet with us highlights the importance of this visit.”
Regarding his experience as an opponent, Fariñas admits that “he has always had problems… Those of us who put our bodies. We have to take the risks because it’s been 63 years of dictatorship,” he stressed before emphasizing that “it is indisputable that there will continue to be reprisals.”
Likewise, he has expressed that “there is no capacity for so many political prisoners… it is not convenient for them to have 7,000 prisoners because the prisons become unmanageable… I have been imprisoned three times and a political prisoner really destabilizes the system because he is always protesting, that is the function of a political prisoner. So, the tactic is to threaten and destabilize families and threaten relatives (…) to beat and torture so that people leave (the country). That way they get rid of the problem.”
Fariñas affirmed that this “decimates the internal opposition, which currently does not have the muscle or the amount that it had before because people need to survive, and that should not be criticized, but we believe that the work to be done is political proselytism with those people who can’t leave [the country] or don’t have the capacity to do so and are unhappy.”
In this sense, he claimed that what is important is not so much “taking to the streets” but to give arguments “to the dissatisfied people so that they are the ones who take to the streets” and he said that they aspire to a “democratic transition,” something that “historically it begins with the release of political prisoners… It is the first step to negotiating with a tyranny.”
Alejandro González Raga, director of the OCDH, who also attended the meeting, stressed the need to “emphasize that the families of political prisoners are also suffering terribly… [The regime] does not want the real dimension of the repression to be known,” he stressed, while warning that “the persecution of mothers, fathers and friends of the detainees is tremendous,” a “truly dramatic” situation.
Thus, González makes an appeal to Europe, which he has urged to “make a decision on which side they want to be on,” whether “on the side that oppresses or on the side of the oppressed… Europe now has this great responsibility,” he insisted, while detailing that Russia is “one of the few allies the regime has left.”
In addition, he ventured that the conflict in Ukraine “will cause a rethinking of relations” at the international level, which may be “positive” for countries like Cuba, although he has recognized that, for the moment, “the regime prefers to be against the European Union.”
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