Cuban “Steps Forward” and the PSOE’s Warm Washcloths / Miriam Celaya

Wilfredo Vallín, President of the Cuban Law Association

While reading some information on recent statements by the Cuban Foreign Minister in the framework of the UN General Assembly, in which he once again makes charges against the European Union, I join, without hesitation, the side of those who consider insufficient the measure and steps of the Cuban government, and come out in favor of maintaining the Common Position. I see with surprise that some people talk about “the changes that have occurred in Cuba,” and I am almost tempted to remain silent before such disrespect. What changes are they talking about? Perhaps the slow release of political prisoners who should never have been incarcerated? Maybe those changes that a sharp commentator in the on-line newspaper Diario de Cuba has nicknamed “cambios timbiriches”*?

A brief review of certain events that have taken place in Cuba in the last week shows how false the “steps” of the Cuban dictatorship are, and brings out the official incompetence in matters of political and civil rights. In line with the ridiculous arrogance of the puppet up at bat nominally covering the Foreign Affairs folder, there has been an increase in the persecution and pressures on individuals and groups engaging in internal dissent, as in the case of attorney Wilfredo Vallín, President of the Cuban Law Association (not officially recognized) and the arrest of Reina Luisa Tamayo, along with 40 other activists in the eastern city of Banes, to cite only two known and very recent examples.

It’s well known that attorney Vallín, in addition to legal counsel, serves as an independent professor in various fields related to civil law. In his academic program various relevant issues are disclosed, including the laws themselves of the current Cuban Constitution and the Criminal Procedure Act, among others, so often violated by the authorities responsible for ensuring their compliance. The Blogger Academy was honored to have Vallín in its faculty, and several of the groups of civil independent society that have organized self-improvement courses among their members have also benefited from his experience. Since the government feels it is so “dangerous” for the people to learn their rights, on Friday, October 29th, the regular repressors prevented professor Vallín from lecturing at a conference about UN Covenants before a group of citizens from various sectors and trends of thought. An entire operation was deployed to sabotage a completely legal activity, though one admittedly uncomfortable for the government. This is not the first time that elements from State Security have hindered the teaching-information activities of Attorney Vallín. Recently, they prevented him from appearing before the group from Convivencia Magazine, which the renowned scholar Dagoberto Valdés successfully publishes from Pinar del Río, proof of the official will to not just refuse an opening in civic or political matters, but to prevent the population from being exposed to the universal principles of Human Rights which, hypocritically, and as an occasional act of mere formality, the dictatorship has signed, though not ratified.

On the other hand, the arrest of Reina Luisa Tamayo and her colleagues on October 30th in Banes is, in addition to an outrage, another sign of the impotence of the authorities against the growing expressions of resistance of Cubans who insist in speaking out in spite of the repression.

Both cases are the clear government response to the European Union: the centers of world politics should be content with the proposed “patched-together street stand changes” that grocer Raúl Castro intends to implement. Rights in Cuba will not be tolerated. Well, then, we will see what warm washcloths the PSOE (the Spanish Socialist Workers Party) and other permissive organizations will place, mercifully, on the battered face of the Caribbean dictatorship.

*Translator’s note: Impromptu street vendor’s stand, hut, or kiosk. Used to describe the changes, it implies the changes are improvised and unstable.

Translated by: Norma Whiting

November 3, 2010