The Latin-America I Acknowlege / Miriam Celaya

Latin American Youth for Democracy at the Summit of the Americas in Panama responding to Cuban government demonstrators trying to block the civil society forum
Latin American Youth for Democracy at the Summit of the Americas in Panama responding to Cuban government demonstrators trying to block the civil society forum

Miriam Celaya, 13 April, 2015 — The Americas Summit in Panama will remain in my memory in the form of many images. Six intense days, which, for better or worse, strengthened and delighted me, all things considered, for I had the privilege to witness to a historical event: the Cuban presence at the most important hemispheric gathering, to have the honor to participate in it as part of independent civil society on the Island.

I won’t repeat the unhappy episodes brought about by government groups disguised as civil society, led by Mr. Abel Prieto, former Minister of Culture and current adviser to the General-President, who undertook to prove, beyond all doubt, the reactionary and exclusionary nature of the regime they represented. Let this minutest amount of data infer what kind of “superior” culture includes the public (and offshore) show of rudeness and violence of the indoctrinated and blinded Castro pack against a differing opinion.

They played their ridiculous role, because, while they barked madly at the supposed “historical enemies of our nation,” while they distributed the rags they called publications and CD’s, attempting to disqualify with offenses those whom they could not confront with arguments, and while they presented demands that were not included in the registered recommendations recorded in the Summit’s procedure guidelines, their masters – striving after the hated dollars of the Empire — shook hands and imparted smiles to the representative of the same “enemy.” It is the fate of the slave.

Now Latin American democrats have a vivid sample in the bud of what we the opposition inside Cuba are experiencing, but what they saw was barely a pale reflection of the repression they apply day after day over hundreds of Cubans. No decent subject emerged untouched by the emotions of these unforgettable days. We feel as if we almost have to thank the dictatorship and its hordes for the favor of its show.

But aside from all forums, meetings with political and social leaders from across the continent, of the satisfaction of seeing so many fellow countrymen living in Cuba fairly represented and the undisputed empathy that all of us, inside and outside Cuba, abide by, united by the common aspiration of a free Cuba, perhaps most impressive was the sublime moment when, in the middle of a harassment session by the Castro hoards, we saw dozens of representatives of the Latin American Youth for Democracy appear carrying signs that read “Democracy is respect” and “Respect is Democracy,” which they held firmly in the face of the enraged Castro Yeomen and the drunken dumb smile of Abel Prieto.

I will not forget that instant because the image of those young democrats from almost all Latin American countries offering their solidarity even when they were boycotted and harassed in their parallel venues, and bravely withstanding all pressures, filled me with hope. Thanks to them I have found that this continent is not a simple sum of idiots like sheep following the poisonous myth of the Cuban Revolution, and that, in fact, none of us is alone. Just to experience such a beautiful act, The Americas Summit in Panama would have been well worth the effort.

Translated by Norma Whiting