Cuban Civil Society’s Political Proposal to the EU

Letter #17 by Emilio Almaguer de la Cruz.

In July 2019, Civil Rights Defenders invited Cuban human rights defenders and civil society organisations to contribute with texts on how the European Union should work towards Cuba. This text is written by Emilio Almaguer de la Cruz.

Cuban Civil Society’s Political Proposal to the EU

How could the institutions of the European Union and the member states cooperate with Cuban civil society, which openly promotes democratisation and respect for human rights? And how could they promote cooperation between Cuban civil society and European civil society?

There is much talk about the disrespect for international agreements and violations of human rights on the island of Cuba. The desire for cooperation by independent civil society is testimony of their hard work, but this cooperation is denied by the island’s regime that catalogues them as blunders, slags or mercenaries.

There is a number of actions that could help believe the good intentions of compliance with international treaties by the island’s government. Below we list some of the proposed actions:

– Visit the State entities that should comply with the agreements in order to verify their work.

Unfortunately, there are many cases that demonstrate the lack of willingness and the economic benefit that support aid projects for the development, directed to Cuba after climate disasters. For example, in 2016, the NGO OXFAM donated materials for the easternmost area, Baracoa, Mata constituency, Guandao, to encourage self-employment, more aid in supplies, roofs, household equipment, in order to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants affected by Hurricane Matthew. Nowadays, these people do not yet enjoy habitable housing due to incompetence and mishandling of these donations by government officials in charge of fulfilling these tasks. Many roofs pertaining to said donation can be found in State entities, such as shopping centres or the homes of some individuals who bought these materials from government officials.

– Ensure that independent civil society can contribute with its work, in the cooperation dialogues; whether as independent press, human rights activists, opposition groups, art or cooperative associates for the development of self-employment.

– Guarantee the fulfilment of the programs. That equipment, materials or cash are not destined to other tasks; in many cases it ends up in the hands of unscrupulous officials of the government of the island that, in addition to profit, hinder and stop the success of aid projects, aimed at improving the life quality of the community.

It is a shame not being able to disprove projects proposed by official bodies, which, with little analysis proves unfeasible and of scarce effectiveness in society; a society that currently suffers and that is prevented from achieving the desired development. Let’s consider, for example, how it could be possible that political interest is revealed as a maximum goal, when for 60 years we have been experiencing failures, to which they continue to cling on, and not realising that the cure that is supposed to heal us is the one that is actually killing us.

It is time to think on the benefits for those in the most vulnerable conditions, the one who reaches the end of the month alive but without the strength to continue. The basic basket of goods, a project that the island government executes to supposedly help the community, is nothing more than a subjugation strategy that is not enough for many, but to others is their only guarantee of life. Cuban society is a faithful example of Stockholm syndrome.

We must achieve an inclusive society where we can all have an equal opportunities, as Raul Castro said: “It is time to develop the art of living with our differences.” Words that do not fit the living reality at all. That is the method used by government officials, they express ideas and show difficulties, but never solve the crises generated by wrong practices that are geared to preserve policies implemented for 60 years.

We want to be participants, an a force, in the future of our children and in social development, not to continue losing lives at border crossings seeking the American dream. We must stop thinking that others must solve our problems just because we feel unable to achieve something that would contribute to the collective good. The State controls everything through the Communist Party of Cuba, who responds to the interests of the leaders in power while the people sink into misery and necessity.

The worker, before the triumph of the revolution, had rights to strike in pursuit of work improvements, salary or to rest and leisure. These rights were lost. We trusted this revolutionary process so much that they have killed our right to think as they think for us, they speak for us; to the point that the Cuban citizen does not know who they are anymore. Young people that risk their lives crossing borders, claim and strike in the countries that host them, but they are afraid to face those who oppress us in the land where they were born.

Without support or safeguard to a free press, opponents and dissidents will be extinct. We will not be those who advocate for the fundamental rights of men. Cuba will be completely silenced. The rights to receive and disseminate information, and to association and meeting, are the most infringed on the island.

The true Cuban civil society, without support, safeguard and protection from the European Union, will be soon the reflection of something that never existed.

Projects could be developed in support of all those that contribute to change. It is sad that the main reason of losing members in our ranks is for not having international support; and then because of the pressure Cuban regime exercises against them.

The true independent civil society must be included in the implementation of projects that contribute to the common well-being. Therefore, we ask for your support and cooperation, with a focus on motivating young people that are willing to fight for achieving an excellent quality of life, where multi-party, democracy and independent press can exist.

There should be reports at municipal and provincial level, so that everyone who contributes to the change can feel protected and safeguarded by international organisations, when their rights are violated. This would prevent increasing the number of political prisoners in Cuba, an issue that the dictatorial regime always denies.

It would be helpful to try to ensure that observers can visit the east of Cuban, where there is no international press or embassies and the disrespect for human rights is larger. That countries supporting our cause maintain an open-door policy in their embassies, since in many cases, we aim to visit an embassy and it is not possible due to the requirement of booking visits in advance.

Of course, in order to achieve this exchange with EU member countries, a project must be developed by which municipalities and provinces, throughout the island, are included as the true representatives of independent civil society, in the process of seeking protection and security against the human rights violations carried out by the regime.

The free press must have support and protection to reach government officials, who instead of improving society put obstacles and profit from their positions, forgetting their true functions of providing protection and security to the less favoured, thus guaranteeing compliance with agreements and agreed projects.

Being able to intertwine the independent civil society of the island with that of the EU will give us the possibility of expanding knowledge in the realisation of projects aimed at raising our quality of life. In case of being able to receive preparatory courses aimed at motivating our independent civil society, the community could participate via the internet or by exchanging information through USB sticks or other alternative means.

Support programs in education and work could be implemented together with member countries willing to give employment contracts to professionals of the true Cuban civil society, which the government denies the right to work and persecutes in order to drown us economically, to push us to exile or silence.

It is time to create projects together where we can have the possibility to participate, demonstrating to the community that we are people eager to achieve well-being and prosperity, thus motivating ordinary people.

If the true Cuban civil society is capable of being economically independent from the State, by means of international labour and cooperation agreements, either inside or outside the national territory, the government will lose the economic control that it could exercise over us.

In the face of cooperation agreements between member countries and Cuba, Cuban independent civil society can be appointed to participate, with the intention of ensuring that treaties, agreements and projects to be executed are developed in a transparent manner and meet their programmed objectives.

For us to be able to shine, we shall bring light to those who walk in gloom.

Emilio Almaguer de la Cruz

About Emilio Almaguer de la Cruz

Emilio Almaguer de la Cruz is a freelance journalist, developing an audio-visual project: “Alternative vision”, which gives the community the possibility to participate with a view to curbing injustices, mistreatment, abuse and human rights violations, by state officials who abuse their positions. These works are shown on social networks, press agencies and on news channels.