Cuba Must End “Apartheid Against Its Citizens” / Oscar Arias, Laura
The undersigned, Latin Americans and diverse in our allegiances,
professions and interests, but united by a common aspiration for
freedom, democracy, equality and well-being throughout the hemisphere,
address our fellow citizens and governments, especially those in Cuba,
to express the following:
We celebrate the growing process of normalization in Cuban-American
relations and the willingness of other democratic states to increase
their interaction with the authorities in Havana. We see an opportunity
in this process to encourage a greater inclusion of Cuba in the world
and to improve the living conditions of its citizens.
At the same time, we condemn the systematic and continuous violation of
human rights on the island; the persistence of a political model
centered on the control of a single party; the open repression against
those who deviate from the official line, and the continuing
discrimination against Cubans in favor of foreigners, in areas ranging
from economic rights to free access to communications and information.
The time for an act of reciprocity with the democratic world has come,
but above all, as an inescapable duty to its own people, it is time for
the regime headed by President Raul Castro to begin a genuine process of
political and social openness and to listen to the initiatives for
change from its citizens, and to reactivate the timid economic changes
announced with enthusiasm, but paralyzed amid rigidity, fear and
The time has come for Cuba to open itself to its own people.
There is no justification to continue preventing Cubans from asserting
the basic rights and freedoms that belong to them, and that are widely
recognized by universal instruments of human rights. Many of which,
paradoxically, have been signed by their own government.
The road to full democracy must be taken without delay. Each new setback
prolongs the precariousness and limitations of the people, hinders the
chances of success and raises the risks of internal conflicts. Thus, it
is time to begin to open the path, recognizing, at least, the following
guarantees for all Cubans:
Freedom of expression, understood as the right to seek, receive and
impart information, opinions and other content by any means without
limitations, censorship or subsequent repression.
Freedom of association, assembly and demonstration.
Freedom of movement inside and outside the country.
The right to petition the authorities and public powers.
The right to elect and be elected in a multi-party environment for all
The right not to be arbitrarily arrested and detained, to have fair
trials before independent courts and have mechanisms for an effective
The right not to be discriminated against in education, employment or
social areas because of political or religious beliefs, or for any other
The elimination of ideological control over education.
The freedom to undertake professional, labor and business initiatives
without restrictions, and for Cubans to have at least the same
opportunities offered to foreign investors or traders. The virtual
economic apartheid, but also social and political apartheid, prevailing
on the island against its citizens must end without delay.
None of these very basic rights, which are part of everyday life in the
vast majority of our countries, can be exercised in Cuba. Worse still,
those who dare to claim them are the targets of open repression and
In its 2016 World Report, the NGO Human Rights Watch highlights and
documents several cases that “in recent years have significantly
increased the short-term arbitrary detentions of human rights defenders,
independent journalists and others.” Between January and October 2015,
the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and Reconciliation, declared
illegal by the government, received more than 6,200 complaints of
arbitrary arrests, which were exacerbated prior to the visit of Pope
Francis to the island in September of the same year.
The report also reveals the existence of a difficult to determine number
of political prisoners, given the absence of reliable information;
beatings and assaults against non-governmental protesters in the street;
prison overcrowding; case-by-case restrictions on travel within and
outside of Cuban territory; the inability to form independent unions;
and the refusal to recognize the defense of human rights as a legitimate
The sad conclusion is that, despite the world and particularly the
United States, increasingly having become more open to Cuba, the regime
has not opened to its own population, which, with some exceptions of
privilege, remains mired in insecurity, controls, lack of opportunities
and political and social asphyxiation. This closure must be dismantled;
the political, economic and social embargo of the Cuban regime against
Cubans must be eliminated.
Direct responsibility to end this situation belongs to the elite that
has dominated Cuba since its one-party and monolithic state. However, it
extends to the governments of Latin America, so far passive actors and
even accomplices to chronic arbitrariness and paralysis of the regime.
“Our America” which the hero of Cuban independence José Martí proclaimed
as an ideal of Latin American unity, cannot become reality as long as
there persists in Cuba a government that is impervious to citizens
rights, and that displays a double standard before the world.
In proclaiming these concerns, we express our desire for Cubans to be
able to build, in peace and freedom, a new democratic, peaceful and
Oscar Arias (Costa Rica), former president and Nobel Peace Prize in
1987. Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica), former president. Graciela
Fernandez Meijide (Argentina), was Secretary of the National Commission
on the Disappearance of Persons. Jaime Malamud Goti (Argentina ), jurist
and one of the masterminds of the trial of the military junta in
Argentina. Eduardo Ulibarri (Costa Rica), journalist and former
Ambassador to the United Nations. Ricardo Gil Lavedra (Argentina),
lawyer and politician, member in 1985 of the court that sentenced the
military juntas of Argentina’s dictatorship. Beatriz Sarlo (Argentina),
essayist and journalist. Carlos H. Acuna(Argentina), political scientist
specializing in State and public policy and member of human rights
organizations in Argentina from 1977. Roberto Gargarella (Argentina),
lawyer and sociologist, CONICET researcher and teacher. José Manuel
Quijano (Uruguay), Economist and former director of the Sectorial
Commission and the General Secretariat of Mercosur. Sergio Fausto
(Brazil), political scientist and Executive Superintedent of the
Fernando Henrique Cardoso Institute. Roberto Ampuero (Chile), writer,
columnist, former Minister of Culture and former Ambassador of Chile,
lived in Cuba between 1974 and 1979. Rodolfo Rodil (Argentina), former
vice president of the national Chamber of Deputies. Facundo Guardado (El
Salvador), former member of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation
Front and former presidential candidate. Daniel Sabsay (Argentina),
professor of Constitutional law at the Faculty of law of the University
of Buenos Aires. Liliana Riz (Argentina), sociologist and senior
researcher of CONICET. Luis Alberto Romero (Argentina), historian,
National Academy of History. María Matilde Ollier (Argentina), political
scientist, teacher and researcher. Eduardo Viola (Brazil), professor of
international relations at the University of Brasilia. Hector Schamis
(Argentina), political scientist, teacher, researcher and columnist.
Aníbal Pérez Liñán (Argentina), political scientist, teacher and
researcher. Vicente Palermo (Argentina), sociologist, writer and
researcher with CONICET. Marcos Novaro (Argentina), sociologist,
professor and researcher with CONICET. Alejandro Katz (Argentina),
essayist and editor. Roberto Garcia Moritán (Argentina), diplomat and
former Vice-Chancellor. Fernando Petrella (Argentina), diplomat and
former Vice-Chancellor. Jorge Edwards (Chile), writer and diplomat.
Osvaldo Guariglia (Argentina), philosopher and researcher with CONICET.
María Sáenz Quesada (Argentina), historian, writer and former Minister
of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires. Lilia Puig (Argentina),
Congresswoman in Parlasur and former national Congresswoman. Juan
Octavio Gauna (Argentina), lawyer and politician, former Attorney
General and National Deputy. Fernando Pedrosa (Argentina), historian,
teacher and researcher. Raquel Gamus (Venezuela), anthropologist,
political scientist and journalist. Patricio Navia (Chile), political
scientist, teacher and researcher. Adolfo Garce (Uruguay), political
scientist, teacher and researcher. Daniel Muchnik (Argentina),
journalist, historian and writer. Carlos Gervasoni (Argentina),
political scientist, teacher and researcher .Armando Chaguaceda (Cuba),
political scientist, teacher and researcher. Daniel Perez (Argentina),
designer and painter, published a testimony on the Cuban military
intervention in Latin America during the 60s and 70s. Jessica Valentini
(Argentina), lawyer and former Ombudswoman in the city of Cordoba.
Sabrina Ajmechet (Argentina), sociologist, teacher and researcher. Jorge
Elias (Argentina), journalist, writer and researcher. Alejandro Oropeza
(Venezuela), political scientist, teacher and researcher. Francisco
Quintana (Argentina), lawyer and legislator of the Autonomous City of
Buenos Aires. Luis Gregorich (Argentina), journalist and writer. Manuel
Mora y Araujo (Argentina), sociologist and communications consultant and
public opinion relations. Marta Velarde (Argentina), lawyer and former
Congresswoman. Carlos Facal (Argentina), lawyer and former president of
the Citizens Power Foundation. Andrés Cañizález (Venezuela), journalist,
teacher and researcher. Eduardo Amadeo (Argentina), National Deputy,
diplomat, economist and former Minister of Social Development. Gabriel
Palumbo (Argentina), sociologist, teacher and researcher. César Ricaurte
(Ecuador), journalist and activist for freedom of speech and the press.
Nicolas Joseph Isola (Argentina), Doctor of Social Sciences and
columnist in various media. Romeo Pérez Anton (Uruguay), political
scientist, teacher and researcher. Ignacio Labaqui (Argentina),
political scientist, teacher and researcher. Aleardo Laría(Argentina),
lawyer and journalist, political exile during Argentina ‘s military
dictatorship. Antonio Camou (Argentina), Sociologist, teacher and
researcher. Javier Valdez Cardenas (Mexico), journalist. Alejandro Páez
Varela (Mexico), journalist. Rolando Rodriguez (Panama), journalist.
Maria Sirvent (Mexico), human rights activist. Jose Ruben Zamora
(Guatemala), journalist. Rafael Rojas (Cuba), historian, teacher and
researcher. Leandro Dear (Argentina), political scientist, professor and
head of the NGO electoral transparency. Fernando Ruiz (Argentina),
political scientist, teacher and researcher. Martin Landi (Argentina),
political scientist and activist freedom of expression. Hugo Machin
(Uruguay), journalist and former political prisoner during the military
dictatorship in Uruguay. Rogelio Alaniz (Argentina), journalist.
Source: Cuba Must End “Apartheid Against Its Citizens” / Oscar Arias,
Laura Chinchilla – Translating Cuba –