Cuban artists and dissidents presented testimony to the European Parliament Friday claiming violations of human rights by the Cuban government. They testified, based on their own experiences, about the censorship each of them has suffered because of their political beliefs.
The event was hosted by MPs Dita Charanzová and Leopoldo López Gil. Members of the European Parliament stated their concerns about the situation in Cuba and showed solidarity with the Cuban cause. The meeting was scheduled after the attacks Cuban artists have suffered following the release of the song “Patria y Vida” (Homeland and Life).
On February 16, Grammy winner Yotuel Romero and his compatriots December Bueno, Gente de Zona with the collaboration of dissident rappers from Cuba Maykel Osorbo and El Funky—members of the San Isidro Movement—joined their voices to launch the song, which advocates for the dignity and freedom of the Cuban people. The title of the song is a complete turn to the famous phrase that dictator Fidel Castro repeated until it was worn out–”Patria o Muerte” (Homeland or Death). Since 1959, that phrase has been present in every regime propaganda and must be repeated at schools, work centers, and television.
The song has rattled the Cuban regime. Since it was published, the Cuban media, and especially those related to the government, launched insults and criticism against the authors of “Patria y Vida,” calling the song “an aggression against the national security of Cuba” and “trash” and calling its authors “whores” and “mercenaries.” They have condemned the song through television reports and social media comments, including three tweets in a single day from Cuban dictator Miguel Diaz Canel.
In response to those attacks and to condemn daily human rights violations in Cuba, Yotuel Romero secured a conversation with the European Parliament. He stated that “we Cubans have the right to life. With this song what we do is claim the right to live. And if the Government of our country does not agree, it is because all these fundamental rights are being violated.”
Participants in the event included Luis Manuel Alcantara (member of San Isidro Movement), Alexis Valdes (famous comedian), Willy Chirino (singer), Anamely Ramos (artist), Ariel Ruiz Urquiola (scientific), Yoel Romero (athlete), Wendy Guerra (writer), Randy Malcom (member of duo Gente de Zona), Asiel Babastro (audiovisual director), Arturo Sandoval (singer). Venezuelan leader, Juan Guaidó, also participated in the event.
Alexis Valdes, stated “I’m a Cuban comedian who nobody can see in a Cuban theatre because I have been denied entry to Cuba for more than 15 years, why? Because I have opinions that are different from those of the Cuban government and I expressed them; in other words, for trying to be an honest man.” He further stated “that honesty in Cuba is penalized.” Every person in Cuba who expresses the truth is “prosecuted, defamed, tortured, incarcerated.” The Cuban government “has taught Cubans to lie, to live in a double morality to survive; it has separated families, destroyed traditions, prosecuted based on political beliefs, artistic affiliations, or sexual orientations.”
Valdes further stated that “the majority of Cubans who are here today are not exiled, we’re banished because we cannot go back to our land, we are banished in the 21st century which is a flagrant violation of our human rights.” “To buy food in Cuba is almost impossible, commute to work is a challenge, to get medications is an adventure; and besides those material necessities there is a lack of freedom.” He asked for a democratic process in Cuba “where differences are respected, and that there are political options from where the Cuban people can choose the one that better represents them, and for that, we need the European support, the whole world cannot continue to turn its back on what is happening in Cuba, to what so many Cubans suffer.”
Meanwhile in Cuba, Jose Daniel Ferrer, Cuban human rights activist and UNPACU leader was being forcedly arrested in his house.
Human rights in Cuba are under the scrutiny of human rights organizations, which accuse the Cuban government of committing systematic human rights abuses against the Cuban people, including arbitrary imprisonment and unfair trials. The Cuban government repudiates and punishes any type of dissent and public criticism by means of public shaming, travel restrictions, short-term detention, fines, online harassment, surveillance, beatings, and termination of employment.
This article was translated from English into Spanish by JURIST Editor Daniela Comesanas Carmona. To view the translated article in Spanish click here.
Este artículo fue traducido de Inglés a Español por la editora de JURIST Daniela Comesanas Carmona. Para ver el artículo traducido en Español, da click aquí.