Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

21 de Marzo del 2000

AN ENSLAVED PEOPLE DEMAND JUSTICE AND CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT. For Cuba Free Press by Rene Montes de Oca Martinez, Secretary of the Pro-Human Rights Party, an affiliate of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation.

Havana.- Imagine a person being pushed to the edge of an abyss by an armed mob that tells him, "If you don't jump, we'll kill you!" Should he jump, or should he confront the mob and die anyway?

What a horrible drama! But it's true, nonetheless. This is the situation like what thousands of Cubans find themselves in today at the very instant you are reading this. It applies especially to those Cubans who have chosen to join an opposition movement or have decided to defend the human rights of an entire people and their nation.

Take the case of Rene Rojas Gonzalez. Behind Rene is this precipice: He was fined 4,000 pesos (about $200) because government agents found him with 45 grams of shrimp that he caught himself.

Through the support of our party, Pro-Human Rights, affiliated with the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, Rojas was able to obtain the money to pay the fine, even though he felt he had been unjustly fined. Rojas had appealed the fine. But when he went to pay the fine before the appeal had been made, the Tribunal informed him that now the fine had doubled to 8,000 pesos or about $400.

As one can imagine, Rojas is not willing to pay an 8,000-peso fine for no crime. He is caught between the precipice and jail. This is the position that the Cuban officials and the repressive police have put him in.

There is no law against fishing 45 grams of shrimp for which he has been fined in Gibara township. This is a fishing port where most of the inhabitants make a living by fishing. There exists a critical situation there. They are in state of "intensive care" insofar as food is concerned. It is therefore an injustice that this gentleman has been penalized for fishing to survive.

Rene Rojas Gonzalez is married to Virginia Salvia Segura and is therefore the son-in-law of Israel Salvia Ricardo of Gibara. She is the Holguin delegate of the Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba. This family has always been involved in human rights activities and in the struggle to reestablish human rights in our country.

The fine in this case simply proves that the people in charge of maintaining public order are committing crimes and causing public disorders in Cuba. Our party calls this a public disorder because it is the only way to classify arbitrary legislation where executive power rules all.

There is no separation of judicial, legislative and executive branches. One branch decides all. The police inspector, the state security agents and the police officials are all manipulated, since all political organisms answer only to the use of power by force, threats and repression.

What other proof does one need that Rojas Gonzalez, an aviation mechanic by profession, a warehouse manager, a C-class machinist and a construction worker is barred from any of these fields because of his activities in the human rights struggle.

Our party finds this inconceivable, unjust and inhumane. It's Catch 22: He is kept from gaining lawful employment but if he doesn't work he can be labeled with a "social dangerousness index," an aberrant judicial law. Rene has his back to the precipice and a gun pointed at his head. What shall he do?

This is "Socialism or Death" personified. There is no way out. Bullet or precipice.

The party denounces the way the government treats Rene Rojas Gonzalez, thereby violating all his human rights. But let no one think for a moment that Rojas Gonzalez is the only one suffering from such injustice.

Manuel de Jesus Reina Castillo de Manzanillos finds himself in similar circumstances. He is serving a six-month sentence because he was unable to pay an unjust fine of 1,500 pesos. Once in prison, he was given an additional three-month sentence.

Such is also the case of the vice-delegate of the Pro-Human Rights Party in Manzanillo.

It is obvious that this is an attack against the members of the Pro-Human Rights Party in Cuba. The National Executive Board of the party scheduled a meeting today to discuss these arbitrary actions and take appropriate action to defend our own. If we have to hold a national fast, we will, just as we did in Santa Clara in 1998.

If Rene decides to fast, we as well as our brothers and sisters of Gibara and all the other political prisoners will stand behind him, both spiritually and physically.

We also will begin a national lobbying process where we will call to action all our brothers and sisters from the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Villa Clara, Havana City, Holguin and Manzanillo to start communicating with the provincial delegates led by the People's Power of the Communist Party, and all state departments and the nation that we do not hate them since we are devout Marti followers and Christians. But we also say we don't fear those who are unlawfully in power today.

If they opt to use physical force, the brutal force of repression, coercion, threats and detentions, then we will opt to defend ourselves based on justice and love but will never renounce the politics we carry within ourselves. Let there be no doubt that we will continue with our brothers and sisters to retake the path that many in our country have walked in our peaceful struggle for human rights.

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet and Maritza Lugo are two compatriots who, through their recent example of courage, valor and fearlessness with which they left their children and their homes, were willing to go to prison in defense of the rights of a nation.

We call all our brothers and sisters without exception to unite together spiritually; and at a future date, we will let the world know where we will be holding the fast and prayers. And we will be holding a constant vigil against these abuses and crimes that are being committed against the defenders of human rights in Cuba.

We believe reason will impose itself. Truth and justice will overcome. We cannot continue to allow more of our brothers and sisters to be sent unjustly to prison, no matter what the cost. We know what the consequences may be but we will not let ourselves be intimidated. We ask for the support of all our brothers and sisters everywhere.

Rene Montes de Oca Martinez, Secretary of the Pro-Human Rights party, an affiliate of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, for Cuba Free Press.

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