One more Cuban martyr – and Latin America’s leadership turns a blind eye
The day of reckoning will inevitably come for the tribunal of History to deliver the last word with respect to the Cuban ordeal. On that day, some of Latin America's leaders will receive a moral condemnation
Whoever has endured the yoke of a long and cruel dictatorship knows that one of the most comforting feelings one may experience under those circumstances is to be able to count on the solidarity of people and institutions from the outside world. That solidarity gives strength to those who struggle from within.
All too naturally, when those like-minded voices go missing or run low; when the crimes of the dictatorship fail to arouse international indignation; when those who lead countries living in democracy turn a blind eye, it is revulsion which, most understandably, springs from the hearts of dissidents thus abandoned to the mercy of a tyrant.
Such revulsion is what the Cuban people must be feeling vis-à-vis the leaders of Latin America. Cubans have received only sporadic scraps of sympathy and support from within their own region, as the bulk of Latin American governments and regional organizations tend to shun – whether by fear or by convenience – any quarrel with the longest tyranny in the history of that continent.
That indifference is all the more reprehensible as it comes from a continent with seasoned experience in struggling against military dictatorships. Its democratically-elected leaders, therefore, should have been in the forefront of international initiatives aimed at assisting the Cubans in their fight to rid themselves from the claws of Castroism.
Instead, Latin American leaders contemplate detachedly, practically without saying a word of reprobation, how entire generations of Cubans have, over 53 years, been deprived from fundamental human rights such as those of electing their government, having a free press and forming independent trade unions.
Sheltered by the apathy of the region’s leaders, and notwithstanding the hype over Raul Castro’s vacuous “readjustments”, repression continues unabatedly on its course in Cuba, with its unbounded sequel of victims and injustices; with the “Ladies in White” being insulted and harassed every time they take to the streets to manifest their yearning for Liberty; with detentions and house arrests on the rise; with dissidents being recurrently subjected to beatings.
Concomitantly, proving to the regime and to the world as a whole that the dissidence will not give in, Cubans have gone all out, to the point of enduring the supreme sacrifice if need be – as did Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died on a hunger strike in February 2010 without receiving due medical care – rather than continuing to live in Castro’s gulag.
Today, two years after the demise of Zapata Tamayo, we are the witnesses, once again, to the infamous silence of the leaders of Latin America; a silence observed this time with the death, after a 50-day hunger strike, of the 31-year-old dissident Wilman Villar Mendoza.A quick surf of the Internet exposes the dearth of reactions, among Latin America’s governments and institutions, vis-à-vis this new victim of Castroism.
Not a word, for instance, from Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who, in his last official trip to Havana as Brazil’s head of State, both refused to receive 50 Cuban dissidents who had requested to meet him and, most outrageously, declined to intercede on behalf of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who, at that time, was still alive.
Not a word, either, from Dilma Roussef, Brazil’s current president, who, having been tortured in her youth by the military junta that ran her country in those times, is expected to condemn the abuses to which Cuban dissidents and protestors are submitted to.
Not a word, finally, from José Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS) and, as such, entrusted to work towards the implementation of the Inter-American Democratic Chart, which provides for the promotion and protection of human rights in our region.
Be that as it may, in spite of this endless saraband of indifference and complicity, there should be no doubt - as proven yesterday in Eastern Europe, and today in North Africa and the Middle East – that the day of reckoning will inevitably come for the tribunal of History to deliver the last word with respect to the Cuban ordeal.
On that fateful day, the names of some heads of State and executive directors of institutions of the region will receive a moral condemnation for having left an entire people to hold out alone, with courage as the sole weapon, against a tyrant who, in the name of a failed ideology, betrayed each and every pledge of democratic conviction he had made before seizing power.
Fabio Rafael Fiallo is a Dominican-born economist, writer and former UN official. The author of four books, he has contributed articles, among others, to The Commentator, The Wall Street Journal, Real Clear World, and The Jerusalem Post. This article is due to be published in Spanish in ‘Diario de Cuba’
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