Are the Swiss socialists politically naive? An answer through Mayor Stöckli
By Carlos Wotzkow
Translated by Sarah McKiver
Hans Stöckli is the Mayor of the city of Bienne. His admiration for Fidel Castro is well-known by the Swiss and the Cuban exiles that live in this country, since it has been divulged by the national (1) and local press (2), as well as by several web pages of the Cuban exiles. In the months before the opening of the Expo 02, Mr. Stöckli was running between Bienne and Bern after the Cuban ambassador in order to get the Cuban dictator to come to the economic disaster that was the aforementioned exhibition (3).
In January 2002, I wrote an article in which I was questioning the good sense of Mr. Stöckli on having insisted on inviting such an assassin to Switzerland (4). In December of the same year, I wrote another article (5) denouncing the injustice of Switzerland wanting to deport Cubans back to a country in which the political idol of Stöckli was carrying out an unprecedented indecent wave of repression.
Each time that my articles were published, I usually printed them from the original WebPages and sent it by certified post to the office of Mr. Stöckli, perhaps, with the hope that the socialist politician may start a conversation on the matter. Nevertheless, the Mayor of Bienne never acknowledged the receipt of the letters.
On October 23 of this year, the Federal Police Department grant me the Swiss nationality. One month later, the office of the Mayor was inviting me to the ceremony that would take place on December 1 in the foyer of the Municipal Theater. Later when Mr. Stöckli had finished his speech, I approached him to thanks him for his invitation and to say to him that I was confident that in the near future I could invite him to a Free Cuba without assassins in power.
I was thinking that my words would pass through the brain of Mr. Stöckli without interference. Or, I believed that my words would go in one ear and out the other, but the Mayor looked at me puzzled and requested to have a separate conversation with me. Immediately he asked me for the motive of such a comment and here is more or less the conversation that began.
CW. Mr. Stöckli, I believe that you are a nice and a democratic person, but since you invited Fidel Castro to the Expo 02 I only could imagine that you do not have a clue of what is happening in the communist countries and much less in Cuba.
HS. Why would you say something like that?
CW. Mr. Mayor, do you know what a drawer (a type of punishment cell) in Castro's prisons is? It is a hole done in the ground whose dimensions do not exceed 3 meters in length by 70 cm in width. Castro puts the prisoners in them, and forces them to remain there, on top of their own urine and feces, for weeks. In order for one of these recluses to sleep, it is necessary that the other 3 remain standing up. This, Mr. Stöckli, is only an example of the atrocities that your "Máximo Líder" commits in Cuba.
HS. Well, that is very bad; I did not know that in Cuba things like this could happen.
CW. Mr. Mayor, I would like to think that your answer is sincere, but it surprises me that a civil servant like you with the political ambition that is characteristic of you, does not question who he invites to sleep in his own house.
HS. But the invitation was not only to show him the exhibition, but I also had the intention of proposing to him a debate over the values of freedom and democracy.
CW. Excuse me Mr. Stöckli, but what the press of Bienne reflected in those days (1-3) was that you wanted Fidel Castro to give a lesson in history to the Swiss youth.
HS. Well, yes but…
CW. Well then Mr. Mayor: What you wanted is Fidel Castro speaking about the history of the torture in Cuba?, or about the concentration camps for homosexuals?, or on the imprisonment history that has led to my country having the highest record of political prisoners rotting in his dungeons? Do you know how many prisoners of conscience are in Castro's jails Mr. Stöckli?
HS. No, how many?
CW. According to the denunciations that have origin in Cuba and are published every day on the Internet, we are speaking of more than 11'000 political prisoners inside a penal population who surpasses the 125'000 mark (6).
HS. Eleven thousand political prisoners? I knew that he had executed a few people, but not...
CW. No Mr. Mayor, he did not execute a few people, when the European deputies were very concerned for the summary execution of 3 Cubans whose only crime was wanting to escape from the communist hell, the bloody dictator that you wanted to have as a guest said he did not understand why the Europeans were making such a fuss over the luck of three simple blacks.
HS. Did he say something like that? That's not right either.
CW. And do you not know Mr. Mayor that Castro is the most racist dictator that the American continent has endured? Did you not know what he and Che Guevara were doing in Cuba? Did you know that what Pinochet did in Santiago of Chile during the coup d'état can only be described as a caress compared to the executions that the criminal Guevara carried out during the internment of Cubans in the Latin-American stadium in April, 1961, and in the Fort of La Cabaña until 1962?
HS. Good, but that thing about Pinochet was horrible and ... did Che execute the people in Cuba? No, I cannot believe it. Did you know that Castro is coming now to Switzerland?
CW. Yes Mr. Stöckli, but don't change the subject. Did you know that Fidel Castro has been the promoter of 33 guerrilla wars in 4 continents? How would you call a war like that in Angola in which Cuba supported 130'000 mercenaries without salary for 14 years? Is this not perhaps an imperialistic war, in which the Russians supplied the weapons arsenal and the Cubans supplied the dead bodies? Pinochet, as it is said, murdered 3'000 Chileans, but Castro is reaching 100'000 Cubans. How would you explain this difference?
HS. Thirty three guerrillas? Che arranging executions?
From these two questions, the frown of the Mayor Stöckli began to show skepticism. As if the words of the speaker were too exaggerated, the Swiss Socialist adopted a similar tone as the politicians who instead of discussing the facts prefer to continue moving away with their planned agendas. Little he should care about the prisoners and the violations of the human rights in Cuba. He didn't even know that in France, his companions of the socialistic party had begun to support the independent imprisoned journalists. I wouldn't dare to dream that he may know about them.
HS. But speaking about Fidel's trip to Switzerland, do you know where he will stay in Geneva?
CW. No, but I hope to receive him as he deserves. Maybe in the Continental Hotel? Where he feels so comfortable surrounded by the safety that the bodyguards of his North American friends offer him... as was offered during the ex-president Clinton visit to that city.
HS. No I do not believe he will be there
CW. To be honest with you Mr. Mayor, I could not care less and it does not matter to me. But since I see that you are more aware of those details, and that you are gasping to meet him for the first time, I would like to ask you for a favor. I would like you to say to him that of the 50,502 inhabitants of Bienne, there is one, at least one, who would be delighted by see him dead.
HS. Would you like to kill him?
CW. Mr. Mayor, since a few days ago I have become a civilized Swiss citizen, and I am not any more this potential Cuban savage who can only be formed in a cruel dictatorship as the one that oppresses my country. Though I confess, and I hope you do not take this badly, that it would not be a bad idea at all, don't you think? A nervous smile and a shy look is the last image that I kept of this meeting with the Socialist Mayor Hans Stöckli.
Will all the Swiss Socialists be like him? Will they be so candid as they seem, or will it be a pure political strategy that thing of seeming to be uninformed? What can a politician gain from being pictured with a legendary criminal? Is this legend even given the title that he deserves? And though they were gaining something politically: what is the moral and ethical limit of a Swiss Socialist? I do not have an answer to all these questions but I am sure some of those answers will be given to me by the same Mr. Stöckli in the coming days.
December 1, 2003
(1) Jacobsen, C. 2002. Fidel an der Expo. Kleiner flirt mit der Revolution. Zeit Punkt, Samstag 12, Januar 2002.
(2) Anonymous. 2002. Fidel in Biel. Biel/Bienne, News. 9/10 januar 2002.
(3) Idem. 2002. Biel/ Bienne, Section Aktuell. 12 September 2002.
(4) Wotzkow, C. 2002. Bienne: Cuartel General de los tontos en Suiza. La Nueva Cuba. Enero 24, 2002.
(5) Wotzkow, C. 2002. Switzerland, what a shame! La Nueva Cuba. December 5, 2002.
(6) If the numbers that this article offers do not seem to be exact, I would request that the readers investigate the real ones. Any research on the human rights violations in Cuba will always be a negative blow to Castro's image and a very positive step to finish with this "ignorance" and political "naïveté" behind which so many politicians of the left shield themselves in Europe.