Human Rights Day / Pablo Pacheco

While the world celebrated Human Rights Day, in Cuba the government was repressing peaceful dissent and the Ladies in White. Some of us former political prisoners, exiled to Spain last summer, also raised our voices that day, in support of democracy, respect for the fundamental rights of all Cubans, and for the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience on the island.

Several weeks ago, the Amnesty International group in Huelva extended an invitation to me to mark the day. Fortunately, I was able to arrive on time after missing the train, and so was able to describe the harsh reality of my country. I managed to help at least a dozen people to understand that in Cuba there is no government for the people, as Havana has tried to convince people for several decades, but a cruel dictatorship that systematically violates human rights and has turned Cuba into a nation in ruins.

It is the ideal time for the democratic world to support the Cuban people. To understand that we care less about the ideologies of left, right, liberal or otherwise. We just want to live like human beings, with freedom, dignity and by the sweat of our brow. The regime, which has enslaved us for years, is weak and isolated. To miss this opportunity may cost us many years of suffering.

Much news filled that day. The greatest media coverage was about the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobao, whose government prevented him from collecting his Nobel Peace Prize. Personally, I do not think his seat was empty as the press reported. It is true that his body was absent, but his soul was there in the empty chair, and although the communist regime in Beijing has him behind bars, he is a free man. Human freedom begins with our thoughts and they can only imprison us when we allow our thoughts to be chained. The names of the countries who boycotted the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony does not surprise me, because their governments are also enemies of freedom.

December 17, 2010

Note: Pablo Pacheco formerly blogged in “Voices Behind the Bars” when he was a political prisoner in Cuba. He has now been released and forcibly exiled to Spain, and has a new blog, “Cuban Voices from Exile.” We will continue to post him here, for a time, until his faithful readers have found their way to his new home.