Solidarity with Rafael / Miriam Celaya

An open letter is circulating around the web these days. The letter was written by cinematographer Ismael de Diego and addressed to Camilla Vallejo, the Chilean communist student who recently visited Cuba as a guest of the Union of Young Communists. Of course, we Cubans don’t know what sources of income the organization might have that allow it to fund invitations to foreigners, but now this comment is not about that … deep down we know that we are the ones who pay.

I would subscribe to every point on Ismael’s letter, and would also sign the one that I am duplicating here, which I want to share with you. The referenced document is also an open letter, sent to me via e-mail, directed at General Raúl Castro, Cuba’s so-called president (lower case intentional) by a Cuban doctor residing in Canada, a regular reader of this blog. Since he had posted it on Facebook beforehand, I will assume it’s OK if I post it here. At any rate, I think it’s good to disclose all the abuse and humiliation to which we Cubans are all subjected, both inside and outside the Island, in order to pierce and destroy the false image of justice, democracy and generosity of the Cuban government.

Dr. Rafael Ángel González Pupo has not been allowed to visit Cuba, but businessman Carlos Saladrigas has. All Rafael wants to do is to visit his elderly parents, not to invest money. And, for the record, I support, with all my being, the right of entry of all Cubans to Cuba… and also permission for their departure. These days spy René González has also been in Cuba, under controlled freedom, while thousands of Cuban exiles have been unable to visit relatives in Cuba over the years. The terrible Empire allowed him to leave the United States for humanitarian reasons.

Some time ago I published another letter, similar to Raphael’s, that of a doctor named Osmel. I will never tire of denouncing these events, and I consider it a civic obligation to multiply our claims against government abuses, though it’s clear that humanitarian appeal to a regime like Cuba is to hope in vain.

I therefore apologize to Rafael for having taken the liberty to present his case, but this is my way of showing solidarity with him. I respected the structure, grammar and spelling of the original he sent me. Above all, I thank him and Ismael de Diego for asserting their voices in a public and valid way: they fill me with hope for the Cuba I dream about. May all Cubans here and in exile decide to do the same. Increasingly, it is more criminal to remain silent: let’s not become part of the plot.

Here is Rafael’s letter:

Toronto, March 21, 2012
To: Mr. Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State and Ministers.
From: Dr. Rafael González Pupo, a Cuban citizen residing abroad.
Subject: Circumstances for entering the country on humanitarian grounds.

I am Dr. Rafael A. Pupo González, and I graduated with honors and as a student of exceptional academic performance in 1994, specializing in general and cardiovascular surgery. I served in that capacity at the Hospital Hermanos Ameijeiras from 1999 to 2007. That year, I came to Canada for cardiac surgery training, fully funded by the University of Toronto, and in 2009, at the end of the course, decided not to return to Cuba. My reason? Economic emigration, like so many hundreds of thousands of Cubans who now number 1.5 million living in exile. Exile was once the worst punishment for Cuban emigrants, or those expatriated for political reasons, and today has become the greatest desire of our best citizens…. who are asphyxiated and disillusioned.

I had a salary equivalent to 20 CUC in Cuba, and that was not sufficient to support our family and my 90 year-old parents, whose only income was 100 pesos a month, and this situation became untenable to me.

According to the obsolete, rigid, inhuman and anti-constitutional immigration laws in force, you have denied passport-authorization for me to visit Cuba, my country, the country that belongs to all Cubans and not the private island of the caste in power.

Faced with this refusal, His Excellency, Mr. Raúl Delgado Concepción, Consul of the Republic of Cuba in Toronto, explained to me that my family could initiate proceedings for an entry permit on humanitarian grounds, which is negotiated in cases of serious illness or the death of a close family member.

My mother died a year ago, and my elderly father is now 94 and very sick. He has prostate neoplasia, ischemic heart disease, aneurysm of the Valsalva sinus, bilateral glaucoma, with loss of vision in one eye and, of course, severe depressive anxiety, because he wishes to see me, his son, before he dies. In accordance with your immigration regulations, my family initiated those efforts in June of 2011.

For nine months they applied in the city of Holguín, where they presented their documents, and at the National Emigration Department, and they were told that our request had been sent to a higher level for evaluation, and they were even told to be very patient, because the negotiations could take a year. Logically, we answered that, in that time, a sick person might die, and they replied that, in that instance, we would have to provide them with the death certificate. We ask ourselves if those procedures have such an implicit long delay with the purpose of prolonging our suffering. What objective do undertaking these applications have, created by the same official body that creates false expectations, if, at the end, nothing gets resolved? What humanitarian value do they have?

Today, March 21st, 2012, my family visited the National Emigration Department and they were informed that MY ENTRY TO THE COUNTRY HAS BEEN DENIED as of March 14th. When they asked why, they explained that it was because of my status as “deserter” physician, and that I was out of the country for only three years. I ask myself where your humanity is, and what is the treachery against emigrating doctors, when you are the ones who have forced us to take this decision.

We continue not to understand so unpleasant a situation. On more than one occasion you, in particular, referring to the peak emigration issue, have indicated that current regulations fulfilled their target in previous decades, that they were established for reasons very different than today’s, and that changing them is currently under consideration. When will those promised changes take place?

I want to point out the importance of some of the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on December 10th, 1948 by the United Nations, all of which you are in violation of in this case in particular and against the people of Cuba in mass. There are many more.

  • Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
  • Article 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, or to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone is entitled to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
  • Article 13: Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the territory of a State. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
  • Article 16.3: The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and it’s entitled to protection by society and the state.
  • Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion: this right includes freedom to change religion or belief, and freedom to manifest religion or belief, individually and collectively, both in public or private, teaching, practice, worship and observance.
  • Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression: this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek their opinions, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers, by any means of expression.
  • Article 22: Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and realization, through national effort and international cooperation in view of the organization and resources of each State, of the economic social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
  • Article 23.3: Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration, ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

I am a deserter? I find that description very inappropriate. Knowing that Cuba is a signatory to the Universal Declaration I decided to establish my residence abroad. If Cuba signed these agreements, why, then am I labeled so contemptuously? Why do we have to endure such maltreatment and the violations we are suffering?

Is it that, in Cuba, the resolutions dictated by a Ministry are above the constitution and the RIGHTS (recognized by Cuba) under which life is organized in the civilized world? I have not betrayed anyone. I am not a worm. Thinking differently is not a crime, it’s a right. If I am a Cuban citizen, why then do I need an entry permit? Why could I not attend my mother’s funeral? How is it possible for you to deny my humanitarian entry permit to visit my elderly and ailing father, or to cry on my mother’s grave, dead for over a year?

I don’t understand how the world’s most “heinous and ruthless” government (the US, according to you) has authorized René González, hero and convicted spy, to visit his sick brother in Cuba under conditional freedom, but you, “the paradigm of human rights” will not allow me to see my father?

I have not committed any act of aggression against Cuba. I just wanted to provide our family and my parents the essential resources which I could not acquire while earning a token salary, the token salary of almost 12 million Cubans for 54 years of post-revolution.

I believe that political issues should not be mixed with those that are purely humanitarian. I think you have established a regime so inflexible and callous that you have forgotten the real HUMAN reasons the Revolution took place. In order to maintain power at all costs, you have betrayed yourselves and, worse yet, you have betrayed our people. You are like Saturn, devouring his own children, and your destination is the same as all totalitarian regimes: disappearance. Look at yourself in Libya’s, Syria’s or Egypt’s mirror. Why are you waiting to change? Can’t you see that the people are suffering, needing, and in the thrones of death? You have created a monster that is devouring and choking us, but worse than that is that you lost control of your own Frankenstein.

Our plea is the same. History will absolve us…. from you.

Most disappointed with the world, and praying to our lord Jesus Christ for a better Cuba, in your absence:

Dr. Rafael Ángel González Pupo

Translated by Norma Whiting

April 13 2012