Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Open Letter to President Obama from Cuban Dissident

Jorge Luis Garcma Pirez (Antunez), one of Cuba's dissident who had been released from prison in 2008 after serving 17 years for speaking out against the Castro regime, has written a letter to President Obama shortly after or before being hospitalized following a 24 day hunger strike he had started from his prison cell to demand better treatment of prisoners. The letter is copied verbatim from Sunrise in Havana:

"Open Letter to the President of the United States

Mr President, I write to you from Cuba, this small Caribbean island, Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez", one of the thousands of former political prisoners in Cuban prisons who suffered torture and all forms of repression by the prison guards in their inordinate desire to destroy and break our will to struggle and resist.

I am one of many Cubans who inspired by the struggle of Martin Luther Kin, is on the streets calling for the Cuban civic resistance and civil disobedience as a strategy to achieve the much-awaited and necessary change to democracy in my country where there is a tyranny now in power for half a century, contravening the fundamental freedoms of its citizens, imprisoning alternative voices, and pushing people to extreme poverty, both economic and moral.

Mr President, I must stress that I the author of this letter, was arrested by combined forces of the political police on the eve of your ascension as president, with the deliberate purpose of preventing me from attending an embassy, which had invited me, along with the peaceful opposition also LORETO HERNÁNDEZ GARCÍA too witnessed this important historical event, your inauguration as the democratically elected president.

It is ironic and embarrassing for many a paradox that while in the grand and hospitable country, a black man took the highest judiciary, just 90 miles away, two black youths were also arrested, confined in filthy cells, by organs of political repression for almost 72 hours.

Imagine how many letters you received and will continue to receive, Cubans inside and outside the island. In my humble letter I would like, on behalf of hundreds and hundreds of my brothers imprisoned for their ideas, the beaten, harassed and punished for fighting in a peaceful and open manner, suggesting that the government in Havana is continuing and will remain faithful to its traditional vocation anti-democratic and dictatorial. This is evidenced by the arrests and the escalation of repression against their people who maintain peaceful opposition.

Mr President, the dictatorship in Havana was reluctant to give the smallest opening that it brings into play and the only thing you must know is: the regime will perpetuate itself in power at the expense of pain, suffering and sacrifice of an entire people.

History has shown, so do not forget that any relaxation of policy towards the Castro regime is equivalent to the oxygenation of his government and law enforcement apparatus.

On the other hand, I'm among those who believe that the initiatives for dialogue and understanding are positive and indicate strong qualities of those who promote them. But it has been shown that a dialogue with the deaf and intransigent counterproductive, and even more risky when done without real and concrete conditions for the repressors.

In that sense I believe that the basic and essential condition to require the dictatorship of the Castro, is the urgent and immediate release of all political prisoners in Cuba, as well as the sincere assurances of implementing an immediate and effective program for deep and radical reform political, economic and social changes that are aimed at establishing a democratic society with a genuine rule of law, and assure you with great respect and responsibility that it would prolong this long and difficult ordeal than 5 decades the Cuban people suffer.

I can not ignore, which in the opinion of all my compatriots are and must always be our main demand and ask: the freedom of each and every political prisoners in Cuba. Know that hundreds and hundreds of my brothers are dying in filthy and solitary cells, starvation, disease and abuse, men and women whose only crime was to defend the fundamental rights and freedoms of man, advocate and fight for a free society.

We hope you and your government solidarity to them and their families. We hope that your administration not overlook a detail, and really as obvious as a fundamental and pernicious that the main restrictions that our people suffer are those that we just applied a system that refuses the liberation of markets, free enterprise, and with the poverty that creates a constant outflow causes, above all things and blame others for the damage they are causing their own people.

Cubans as lovers of freedom, we do not oppose all such noble initiatives aimed at bringing fence and reunification of Cuban families separated, much less that can be helped in such difficult times.

I do not believe that decent and patriotic, is that many continue to use the so-called flight of the community to swell the coffers of the repressive apparatus to gain the privileges enjoyed by foreign tourists who visit Cuba at the expense of domestic crude.

The freedom to leave their country and return a basic right is universally recognized, but when used against those who suffer oppression, when passion or personal interest strengthens the oppressor, it falls on something as serious as it is unpatriotic.

Mr. President, for the Cuban homeland is much bigger and important than ourselves, and after this long and disastrous totalitarian experience we arrived at the full conviction, that similarity of the civil rights movement in the U.S., we just Cubans We shall be free when we are ready for the greatest sacrifices, and vicissitudes.

Although the solution to the problem of Cuba is not a democrat or republican, but the effort and determination of the Cubans, we are aware that the solidarity and support of a president of his intelligence, charisma and prestige could help to accelerate change both the longs Cubans.

I wish him every success in their governance, and reiterating that and do not forget to follow up these people and their struggle for freedom.

* Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez.

Former Cuban political prisoner who stayed 17 years and 38 days in punishment cells and confinement, subjected to the cruelest torture of all kinds to maintain his dignity as a defender of Human Rights"

Muchacho Enfermo

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