"Senator Dodd is not concerned about the hardship of the Cuban people, he is just interested in business." This quote does not come from the Cuban American exiles but from the Human Rights Lawton Foundation in Havana last May 11, after Christopher Dodd’s visit to the communist ruled island.

In a document replying to Senator Dodd’s recommendations for the lifting of the US embargo signed by Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet, Migdalia Rosado Hernández and Rolando Muñoz Yyobre addressed to the people of the US – but not reported by the US media – the directors of the human rights foundation expressed their consternation about Dodd’s statements.

The document says that "the lifting of the embargo has to be conditioned to respect the human rights of the Cuban people, the freedom of all political prisoners, a multi-party system and free elections, because these principles must take precedence over business."

What the Lawton Foundation expresses is the overwhelming desire of all pro-democracy organizations inside Cuba and the majority of the Cubans, as well as the exiles not only in the US but in other countries.

While opinions differ as to the means to achieve the goal, it is unquestionable that the vast majority of Cubans are united in their democratic desires. After all, four decades ago Castro stole what many believed to be a renaissance of democracy in Cuba.

Cubans in general – based on their first hand experience – are better informed about the Cuban reality and can make a better assessment than a foreigner who, quite naturally, is not as well acquainted with the history and the mechanisms at work within Castro’s Cuba. The opinion of the ordinary Cubans should be the primary consideration before adding mistakes to the many already made by the US during this 40-year example of the failure of communism.

According to the Lawton Foundation and the judgement of better informed Cuban sources, Senator Dodd twisted the Cuban reality to favor unscrupulous US businessmen who are willing to exploit the cheap semi-slave labor that Castro is offering in order to enrich themselves. They stated that Dodd’s intention as well as the ones of other US politicians recalls those of the "Nazi-communist pact signed by Ribbentrop and Molotov."

Dodd said that the lifting of the US embargo would be "good business" for Americans. But the human rights foundation says, "Christopher Dodd and his followers are showing their disdain for the principles of freedom. The communist system is the origin and cause of the dire situation of the Cubans."

Echoing what others on the island have been saying for years, the Lawton Foundation states, "the humanitarian aid donated to relieve the Cuban people is being sold at the stores and pharmacies for US dollars only" to benefit Castro’s regime.

"The Cuban people are hostages of the Castro-communist dictatorship," and they urge the "support and solidarity of the American people and the international community." The document points out that "Castro voted in favor of the embargo against the government of South Africa," and question, "Why lift the US embargo of Castro while in Cuba there reigns an ethnic, political, economic, social and informational apartheid?"

The Lawton Foundation document was "not newsworthy" to the US media and was obviously ignored by Dodd and his followers who treat Cubans’ reasoning as a nuisance to be dismissed.

Senator Dodd - who later claimed he only was responsible for the reservation of the room - was involved in the reception to honor María de Ia Luz B’Hamel, the Director of Trade Policy for North America from Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Igor Montero Britto, the Vice President and Chief Commodity Buyer for ALIMPORT, both agencies of Castro’s regime. This "people-to-people" contact with Castro’s cronies was shamefully held on July 21 at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill and was sponsored by the anti-US embargo Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy, the American Farm Bureau Federation and several grain commodity groups.

This inflammatory action by Senator Dodd and the American farmers prompted protests from Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Bob Menendez, the three Cuban American members of the House of Representatives and a demonstration championed by Cuban Americans in front of the Dirksen Senate Office Building held on July 21.

The peaceful demonstration was organized by Israel Moya of and the Mothers & Women Against Repression for Cuba (M.A.R.) based in Miami. A delegation of women dressed in black for the event flew from Miami, headed by its president, Sylvia G. Iriondo. Also present were members of the Alliance of Young Cubans.

What is phony about the rush to establish business arrangements with Castro’s regime at the end of the Clinton Administration is that the ordinary Cubans are left out. This is not free enterprise. Ordinary citizens are forbidden to participate in business ventures with foreigners.

The supposedly non-governmental companies in Cuba that are authorized to make business are front companies owned and operated by Castro’s regime and his cronies from the army and security forces – in charge of repressing the people. Therefore, all business that Dodd and his followers want to do in Cuba directly benefits Castro’s regime helping him to stay in power against the will of the people. In fact, they would be supporting a tyranny. Ordinary Cuban citizens stand to gain more repression from these business deals. Nothing more.

Anybody who really knows the mechanisms at work in Castro’s Cuba knows that fact. But Dodd and his followers apparently are playing with the ignorance of the misinformed American people. And who is responsible for this ignorance? The US media, who for decades has been avoiding to expose the reality of Castro’s regime. Cubans and their suffering seem to be inconsequential to many.

Rolando Muñoz Yyobre, one of the signatories of the Havana-based Human Rights Lawton Foundation’s document says, "The embargo is not against people, but against the government." Also Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet added that, "the embargo is one of the arms of non-violent civic resistance" against Castro’s tyranny.

On June 7 Dr. Biscet and five others began a 40-day hunger strike – one for each year of tyranny – at Migdalia Rosado Hernández’ humble apartment at Tamarindo 34 in Havana asking for the respect of human rights and the liberation of all political prisoners in Cuba. Hundreds of people throughout Cuba and abroad joined in that effort.

Unfortunately, silence was the rule of the US media and Cubans once more were deprived of the solidarity that would have helped to make a difference. Also, the publicity would have served to alert Dodd and his followers that business with Castro’s Cuba would not be morally acceptable. Those politicians and businessmen who play in the uncharted muddy waters with the tyrant, eventually will pay a price.


Agustín Blázquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton
Mr. Blázquez is the Producer/Director of the documentary COVERING CUBA
ABIP 1999

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