For more than sixty years, the totalitarian regime of the Republic of Cuba has violated the human rights of all people in one way or another. On the other hand, it is worth highlighting the efforts of the country’s activists, who have stood up for fundamental rights for more than six decades, under constant repression and persecution by security services of the State. These violations are done in a systematic way and based on the orders of the day, sometimes even endangering the physical wellbeing of those who are bravely confronting the dictatorship that is tearing Cuba apart today.
The situation continues to be extremely difficult these days, as there is no path in sight that allows for the implementation of fundamental rights since the government and its repressive apparatus go about their business like clockwork. Campaigns of lies in international forums, acts of repudiation, beatings, trumped up charges based on made up crimes, and the imposition of fines so severe that they cannot possibly be paid and land the person of interest by the regime in prison, are part of the harsh reality that human rights defenders live in Cuba.
This author, Henry Couto Guzman, who resides in Guantánamo, the easternmost province in Cuba, lives with the indignation that comes from the repression and the lack of freedom to which Cubans from all over the island are subjected. “I was abducted, beaten, threatened, they tore my clothes to shreds and nothing happened,” claimed the young man, alluding to the kidnapping he suffered and saying that to date he has continued to receive threats and ongoing acts of repression. Defending human rights in Cuba is an odyssey, like Homer’s.
Dear reader, this story is just one example of the millions that could be expressed in this text, but then it would be endless. The Cuban regime does not respect, nor will it respect the rights of human beings. The dictatorship only seeks its own perpetuity and brutally attacks any person who thinks differently, or who confronts it through peaceful protest seeking change on the island. You might ask yourself, why is thinking differently an act of terrorism for the communists?
In 2021, the reasons for this harsh and uncertain reality are hardly a secret. Cuba is going through the greatest crisis in its history, in all areas of one’s life, the regime with its repressive apparatus continues to demonize activists in the official media outlets, calling them mercenaries or spies, when the reality is quite different. But what can be done to change the landscape of uncertainty? I think and hope that you would agree that there are many things that can be done to empower the Cuban people. First, expose the constant violations of people’s rights to the media and organizations; and train activists on the use of the legal tools for doing their work and on the ways to the disseminate this knowledge to other people, so that together we can achieve freedom and respect for rights.
In Cuba, human rights activists and defenders deal with acts of repression almost on a daily basis. However, their efforts are recognized and respected by many people, who see in these courageous individuals the light at the end of the tunnel and have faith that change is the only option to free their homeland from a regime that is set against them, does not provide opportunities for human development, aims to keep millions of people in abject poverty and make them into modern-day slaves. Together we can successfully bring about a Cuba that is free of dictatorship and serve as an example of love, peace, and human rights.