“I do not agree with giving mercenaries the same rights as intellectuals,” claimed the writer Miguel Barnet, president of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) and member of the Communist Party Central Committee, at the 30th Conference of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) held in San Francisco, California, this May.
Barnet’s aggressiveness was in response to a statement from sociologist Ted Henken, professor at Baruch College, University of New York (CUNY), who demanded the same rights for all Cubans to participate in the event of LASA, citing the cases of blogger Yoani Sanchez and Oscar Espinosa Chepe, to whom the Cuban government has denied their participation in previous conferences held by LASA.
This happened during the meeting of the Cuba Session of LASA, which focused on creating a resolution condemning the U.S. government for denying visas to 10 academics and intellectuals from Cuba, ignoring the fact that 65 of the participants received visas, including Dr. Mariela Castro Espin (Raul Castro’s daughter) and Eusebio Leal, Historian of Havana.
Professor Henken had stated: “If we, as an organization that exists to promote scientific and cultural exchanges between the U.S. and Cuba, have taken a public stand in favor of these bilateral academic exchanges and against the political manipulation of these programs, then this must be applied for both sides and for all the people.”
It is extravagant that Mr. Barnet accused peaceful people of being “mercenaries,” people who, throughout the years, have been committed to analyzing — despite the repression — the situation on the island at the national level and with strong arguments, based on information and official statistics, people who have warned us and demonstrated that Cuba has been dragged to “the edge of the abyss,” as President Raul Castro himself has recognized.
But, what can you expect from a person who, on April 19, 2003, signed a message directed to world figures which legitimized the brutal repression carried out in March of that year against 75 peaceful Cuban dissidents and human right activists, who were then sentenced to up to 28 years in prison, as well as the execution of three young men who mistakenly tried to hijack a boat to flee the island, without causing bloodshed?
The writer, as well as all of those who signed that message, will never be freed of the thoughts of the injustices committed, the assassinations, and the suffering of all the families. This document received responses from well-known intellectuals and artists with “Dear friends (from within and outside of Cuba)”, on April 28, highlighting the evilness and hypocrisy of the Cuban government’s henchmen, with a scathing definition: “Stop using as shield the atrocities of the enemy to commit your own in impunity. The injustices and the crimes against humanity will be denounced by all citizens, without regard to where the perpetrators come from or who they are.”
Throughout many years, we have supported a system that seemed to have brought hope to the Cuban people. But with the same determination, after we understood that road had taken a wrong turn and turned Cuba into a living hell, we have been making an effort to help forge a path of opportunities for all Cubans and prosperity for our country. We have always defended its independence and sovereignty, and rejected any foreign intervention.
Barnet, and unfortunately, other Cuban intellectuals and artists, became servants of a repressive regime headed by people exclusively interested in remaining in power, under any consequences and at all costs, under the fake banner of an apocryphal socialism. Barnet is of the same nature as the servants of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Batista, who rose to their positions through flattery, being submissive, and selling their talents to those in power, ignoring the suffering of their people.
We all know how totalitarianism pays for these “valuable services.” These unpatriotic behaviors are rewarded with a special status, they suffer none of the scarcities, they have cars, privileges and trips abroad, while the Cuban people are being deprived of their fundamental rights and continue to sink deeper in misery.
When for workers the equivalent of $ 18.00 US dollars is the average of monthly salary and those who are retired don’t even get $ 12.00 US dollars, and, on top of that, they are paid in a currency that the State does not accept in most of its stores, this is a scenario where the economic, political, social, environmental, demographic and spiritual situations are increasingly becoming more chaotic and threatening the foundations of the nation.
Of course, the President of the UNEAC does not write or talk about these basic issues. He is only interested in maintaining his privileges, protecting his framework, at a time of persecution of the true artistic and intellectual glories of Cuba. So then, who is the mercenary?
Translated by Chabeli
5 June 2012