President Correa and human rights lawyer Margarita Labarca Goddart respond to Beatríz Sanchez on Cuba and Fidel Castro

 

Caracas, May 4, 2017.-

 

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa thanked Cuba for inspiration and example by visiting the tomb of Fidel Castro on his last trip to the Caribbean nation on Thursday before handing over power.

 

"This is my last visit as president of the Republic of Ecuador to that sister republic, compañera, the Republic of Cuba. I can only thank the Cubans, their government, for the accompaniment, for the inspiration, for the example, "he said.

 

"Cuba always gave us its free hand. Fidel always gave it to us. Raul continues to give us, "he said in his visit to the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba, in the east of the island, where the ashes of the leader of the Cuban Revolution are buried, international agencies report.

 

Correa arrived Wednesday night in Santiago de Cuba, where he will carry out various activities.

 

Chilean left lawyer Margarita Labarca G. She lives in Mexico because of his exile. Specialist in human rights. I am for the Constituent Assembly, responds to Beatriz Sanchez on Cuba and Fidel Castro.

 

By Margarita Labarca G. @margaritalabarc

 
 
 
 
 
  
 
Look, Mrs. Sánchez-I can not call her my friend-I'm going to answer what you said about Fidel Castro, but the answer will have to be long because the subject is.
 
For you, with much confidence, are allowed to make statements in which disqualifies the commander Fidel Castro, having no idea what he is saying.
 
It seems evident that you are based on information from El Mercurio and other related press, since in Chile there is almost no independent press. But that does not exempt her from responsibility, because one can get informed in many ways, if she wants to.
 
It seems strange to me that you, who are a modest and politically inexperienced person, get involved with Cuba and Fidel with such disrespect.
 
I will tell you that I have lived six years in Cuba with my family and I know the situation that prevails there, because I have also worried about reading about it. I believe you have not done so and you are allowed to insult the memory of one of America's most illustrious men.
 
That way you will not win the odds and instead you will lose the few honest left-wing people who could have supported you. What I hope is that their position is at the individual level and not the Broad Front.
 
Well, I'm going to start answering.
 
 
1. You say that Fidel Castro "resolved" to remain forever and refused the elections.
 
 
The one who decided that Fidel was staying was the people of Cuba, who respected and loved him deeply and with good reason. But the fact is that in Cuba there are periodic elections, much more democratic than in Chile and in the United States.
 
In this regard I wrote an article in the number 867 of the magazine Punto Final, December 23, 2016, which I recommend reading. You will find it on the internet. I can not reproduce here as long as this would come, but I'll copy some paragraphs:
 
"Trump wants Cuba to advance in democracy. What interests him most are the elections, and he puts as an example those of the USA, in which the one who loses, wins.
 
Mr. Trump also wants Cuba to have "free press". For example, as in Chile, where El Mercurio and Copesa receive government notices, and the opposition press nothing. "
 
Bravo, Dona Beatriz, I see you very much agree with Trump.
 
Also in that article I explained that Cuba has established an increasingly democratic electoral system. First the municipal assemblies of the People's Power are elected, in the election of which all those older than 16 years who live in a district, which is a small territory in which all or almost all practically know each other.
 
Attendees are simple people, who are especially concerned about the job merits of the candidates and that they can raise and defend the interests of the sector that chooses them. I have seen those assemblies because they invited me.
 
There are no election campaigns. In the assembly itself, the person proposing a candidate has to give his reasons. If someone does not agree or wants to oppose, it does. Each voter can express his or her judgment for or against the proposed partner.
 
The Cuban Communist Party does not present candidates. The representative bodies of state power are renewable; The elected have to account for their actions and can be revoked at any time during their term. Vote almost everyone, there is very little abstention.
 
The deputies and delegates are not professionals, therefore do not collect salary.
They must continue to carry out their usual work, in parallel with the position of delegate or deputy. The legislative initiative can be exercised by many people, such as trade unions, students, women, social organizations in general, and citizens themselves. In the latter case, at least ten thousand citizens are required to exercise the legislative initiative.
 
For the election of the delegates to the Provincial Assemblies of the People's Power or the deputies to the National Assembly, there are the nomination commissions, which are in charge of organizing the process and refer to the municipal assemblies the proposals of one and other, They also organize the election of the National Assembly.
 
These nomination commissions are made up of the most important of the social organizations of the Cuban people: representatives of the Central of Cuban Workers, Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the Federation of Cuban Women, the National Association of Small Farmers, the Federation Of Students of the Average Education, and the Student Federation University.
 
It is as if in Chile, instead of Servel, the elections will be organized and supervised by the CUT, the Anef, the Fech, the Federation of Secondary Students, and others.
 
The National Assembly of People's Power, which is the highest body of power, elects, among its deputies, the Council of State and the president of the same. The president of the Council of State is head of state and head of government. The head of the Cuban Government must first have been elected deputy by the population.
 
The Cuban electoral system looks a little like some European countries, it is a kind of parliamentary system. In theory, the English prime minister could be re-elected for 40 years or more, if health and luck accompany him.
 
And how did they elect Fidel Castro? Fidel proposed it in their respective municipality or district, and was elected. Why? Because Fidel was respected and loved by his people, but nothing obliged to choose it.
 
 
2. You affirm that Fidel controlled all the powers of the State but does not say in what bases such a pilgrim affirmation.
 
 
I believed that honest journalists had an obligation to substantiate their claims. Well, none of that has been done. But note that as I have explained, the main power of the Cuban State is the National Assembly of People's Power, made up of 612 deputies, to which I have already referred.
Of course, I will not deny that Fidel Castro was a man of such intellectual, moral and cultural level that he dominated everything by his very presence.
 
Any person of absolutely contrary ideology who has frequented it, was completely subjugated by his intelligence and personality, in addition to his personal charm. But you, I do not know with what authority, are allowed to offend your memory.
 
 
3. That Fidel appointed his heirs, and finally left his brother Raul.
 
 
Raúl Castro has appointed President of the Council of State and Head of Government, the National Assembly of People's Power, just as in any country with a parliamentary system, since he is also a deputy elected by the people. Was Raul elected him deputy because he was Fidel's brother? No lady, Fidel Castro has several other brothers and several children, none of whom is a deputy or occupy any important position, as far as I know.
 
Raul was chosen because he participated in the assault on the Moncada Barracks, was in the Sierra Maestra since he was young, was a prisoner of Batista's dictatorship and fought valiantly for the revolution along with Fidel.
 
And later it was the one that was in charge of organizing the army of Cuba, an institution that works like a clock in the island. Raúl Castro is well respected by everyone, can be proven by anyone who goes there.
 
That Fidel did not let the people of Cuba leave nor did he let anyone he wanted to enter.
I go for the easiest thing: the Cuban government, like all the governments of the world, lets enter its country to whom it seems and does not let enter who does not seem to him. I will not dwell on this because it is an absolute nonsense.
 
Do not you let people out? Well, look, Mrs. Sanchez, this is absolutely false. I'm going to have to extend a little, unfortunately. The thing is this: before the revolution, Cubans had a very close relationship with the United States. People with money traveled almost weekly to Miami, and everything was bought there, including butter.
 
They admired America, the cars, the best wages, and all the products of the developed world. Many people wanted to go to live and work there, as Mexicans want and as most of the inhabitants of the third world would want.
 
Every year, hundreds of thousands of Mexican migrants and peasants travel through Mexico, trying to illegally cross the border into the American dream, now a nightmare.
 
Cubans were required visas from before the revolution. Well, afterwards, the visas and the normal flights and means of transport were terminated, since the blockade began.
 
This is how many people went in very precarious and dangerous conditions, not because the Cuban government would not let it go, but because there was no way to travel.
 
They seized airplanes and maritime transport. Of course, the Yankees did not return the planes and boats hijacked.
 
The Cuban government had to take some restrictive measures to prevent these abductions, which were generally hostage.
 
Many people went offshore in rafts or improper boats and if it did arrive, they were well received and they quickly gave them the Green card.
 
But if the immigrant authorities captured them before arriving, they did not receive them and returned them to Cuba. That was the cruel reality of the Cuban Adjustment Act, called "dry feet / wet feet" that apparently has now been repealed.
 
The Cuban government made a lot of efforts to regularize this situation. President Reagan promised to give 20,000 visas a year, but if he gave 1,500 it was a lot.
 
That's why people were leaving in dangerous conditions. This is how the Mexicans and Central Americans go, but they do not receive them there. They have to traverse the Arizona desert that is so hostile, that many die on the voyage.
 
The fault of all this is not therefore the Cuban government. Naturally, it tries to prevent a group of people, including children, from leaving on a raft that is not suitable for navigation on the high seas.
 
Thus came the famous case of the child Elián González, that the mother and other people took him to a raft to reach the United States.
 
The raft was shipwrecked, the mother and others were drowned and the child was rescued by the US Coast Guard, who gave it to his family in Miami.
 
After an arduous judicial struggle, the father, a revolutionary who was in Cuba, got his son back, who is now a great young man studying at the University of Havana.
 
Mrs. Sanchez, you do not know anything about Cuba. In the 1950s it had illiteracy rates in excess of 70 per cent, only 15 per cent of the population had running water, and parasites and diseases were ablated.
 
In addition most of the peasants did not consume proteins and rarely had vegetables. In the Sierra Maestra, the focus of the revolutionary movement, the living conditions of the rural proletariat were in desperation. They suffered exploitation, robberies, and often police brutality.
 
And on the other hand I will tell you that Cuba is a country very poor in natural resources. It has no oil, no waterfalls, no power source.
 
They are now trying to use solar energy, but nobody sells them the essential elements to make the solar panels and they have to weld them by hand.
 
They do not have valuable minerals like the copper of Chile, nor other similar riches. Their agriculture produces good fruit, but try to understand that in a tropical country, the distribution of these products would require a large fleet of refrigerated trucks, which they can not acquire because of the blockade.
 
The price of sugar has plummeted due to artificial sweeteners and many other countries have also begun to produce and sell sugar.
 
And this people, which after the revolution and because of the blockade, depended on their trade with the socialist countries, overnight remained without suppliers and without buyers, when the USSR and so-called socialist countries of Eastern Europe fell . And yet the people continued to support the revolutionary government, endured and moved forward.
 
They have already largely surpassed them - that very hard stage called "special period", but without becoming normalized.
 
Cuba's greatest wealth lies in its people, in its scientists, in its doctors who have managed to produce some of the most important medicines and treatments, such as those of the neurological area, which is one of the best in the world; A vaccine against lung cancer that can not be marketed abroad because the blockage prevents it.
 
And his pre-eminence in the arts is obvious, particularly in music and ballet.
 
Look at some of the results of the "dictatorship" that you have prevailed in Cuba:
 
- One of the countries with the highest human development index (UN)
 
-54% of the budget for social services
 
Of the 200 million children who sleep on the streets, none are Cuban.
 
-The best educational system in Latin America
 
-Twenty students per teacher
 
-The country that contributes most of the GDP to education
 
-University of America without malnutrition (UNICEF)
 
-Health system, an example for the world
 
- The lowest infant mortality rate in the Americas
 
- 130,000 doctors graduated since 1961
 
-Development of four cancer vaccines
 
- First country to eliminate HIV transmission from mother to child.
 
And also, and perhaps most important of that Cuba directed by the companion Fidel Castro, is that it is deeply internationalist, solidary and generous.
 
The most important features of the Cuban Revolution are dignity and its inexhaustible capacity to solidarity with the suffering and needs of other peoples.
 
 
This dignity, fruit of the courage and patriotism of the people and their leaders, has been shown in a calm and resolute way in each of the many difficult and risky circumstances that it has had to face in its first half century.
 
On the other hand, the generous and unconditional solidarity of Cuba with other peoples is perhaps the most beautiful fruit of a revolution that has emphasized the ethical transformation of society.
 
It is very difficult to find "another people capable, like the Cuban, of giving up their own bread" to alleviate the hunger and need of their brothers in distant lands.
 
In addition, after the coup of 1973 came the enormous solidarity with those persecuted by the Chilean dictatorship.
 
We were not the only ones that Cuba provided shelter in that dark time of Latin America. There were also the Argentinian, Uruguayan, Bolivian, Peruvian, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Haitian, Colombian, Honduran families fleeing terror, imprisonment and death in their countries.
 
We were thousands of Latin Americans refugees on the island while Cuba "faced the rigors of the US blockade.
 
Being Chilean was almost a privilege that made us feel surrounded by friendship and "love, never alone or abandoned to our fate.
 
Cuba is one of the countries that have suffered the most from terrorism (about 3,500 dead) and has suffered most from terrorism in the last 60 years. In the face of such a permanent attack, the Cuban authorities have called for unity in the interior.
 
And they have applied in their own way the old motto of St. Ignatius of Loyola: "In a besieged fortress, all dissent is treason." But there was never, until Fidel's death, any cult of personality.
 
Fidel Castro not only placed Cuba on the world stage and gave dignity to all Cubans, but was the author of the liberation of many African countries like Angola and Namibia; Contributed to the independence of Ethiopia and the end of apartheid in South Africa.
 
Under his leadership, his small country (100,000 square kilometers, 11 million inhabitants) was able to conduct a policy of great power on a global scale, throwing up a pulse with the United States, whose leaders failed to overthrow or eliminate it, or even change the direction of The Cuban Revolution.
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