By Joan Trevor
In March and April the Cuban government arrested dozens of oppositionists for allegedly working with the US to overthrow Fidel Castro's regime. Many of those arrested were quickly tried and have received long prison sentences. Human rights organisations have protested against the crackdown on these 'dissidents', who range from opposition leaders to grassroots human rights activists. The Campaign for Peace and Democracy, the US based organisation that originally developed the 'No to war, no to Saddam Hussein' statement circulated by the Alliance for Workers' Liberty, has protested as well.
It has issued a statement, signed, among others, by Michael Albert, Noam Chomsky, Rabbi Michael Lerner and Howard Zinn.
The CPD has been criticised by many US leftists who argue that Fidel Castro, besieged by the US, has a right to defend his Stalinist revolution by any means. They point to the unpleasant politics of some of those the regime is persecuting. They are wrong about the former, probably right about the latter. But the AWL thinks people should sign the CPD statement - an extract is printed below.
The best ally that the Cubans could find in their struggle against the US ruling class is the US working class. But leftists will not persuade US workers to break with the right on Cuba by apologising for the lack of democracy in Cuba. The Castro regime serves itself and often does it brutally, cracking down on attempts by workers to organise as well as on dissident intellectuals.
From the CPD statement, Anti-war, social justice and human rights advocates oppose repression in Cuba:
"As anti-war, social justice and human rights advocates, we condemned the brutal Saddam Hussein regime, and we oppose the United States occupation of Iraq. We support civil liberties and democratic rights everywhere, regardless of the country's economic, political or social system. We believe it is imperative to be consistent in opposing repression wherever it takes place, whether in Iraq or Saudi Arabia, Israel or Cuba, Turkey or the United States. Democratic change in Cuba needs to be achieved by the Cuban people themselves. The Cuban government's violations of democratic rights do not justify sanctions or any other form of intervention by the United States in Cuba. The government of the United States - which employs the rhetoric of human rights when doing so promotes its imperial goals, but maintains a discreet silence or makes only token protests when US allies are involved, and which fully supports the barbaric practice of capital punishment, routinely inflicted in the US - is hardly in a position to preach democracy and human rights."
- To sign the statement and find out more visit the CPD web site