Editorial, Informativo Operario, TFP, Sao Paulo, June 2, 2003 (translated from the original in Portuguese)
President Lula and the "untouchability" of communist Cuba
To judge by the words and actions of President Lula and high-ranking officials from his government, communist Cuba is benefiting with a mysterious mantle of protection and also one of "untouchability," even though the violent repression, in Stalinist style, has but grown in Cuba with the detentions of human rights activists and journalists, and the summary killing by firing squad of three people whose only sin was to try to escape from the prison-island.
This is the delicate matter that broad sectors of the international and Brazilian public opinion are facing in an urgent way.
We should remember some recent events, in chronological order, that illustrate this protection of "untouchability" to dictator Fidel Castro and his regime of injustice, misery and bloodshed, even after the recent repressive wave that aggravated the situation of 11 million unfortunate Cubans.
The Minister of Governmental Affairs, José Dirceu, avoided any criticism directed against the Havana regime, alleging it was an embarrassing situation for him, as he is beholden to Cuba from his days as a guerrilla, having lived in the island for some years to the point of feeling like a Cuban-Brazilian. The leader of the Senate, Tião Viana, from the Workers Party (Partido de los Trabajadores), rejected a motion to repudiate the government of Havana presented by the PFL Party - and similar attitude was adopted by the Workers Party in the House of Deputies, together with the Communist Party of Brazil. Chancellor Celso Amorim gave instructions to the Brazilian ambassador at the Human Rights Commission of U.N., in Geneva, to abstain from voting to condemn the dictatorial regime, alleging that with Castro it was better to continue insisting on a "constructive dialogue."
But even worse is the fact that the same President Lula, when the meeting of the Group of Rio ended - which brings together 19 Latin American dignitaries elected democratically - defended the participation of Fidel Castro in the next gathering that will take place in Brazil, alleging that he sees "no sense" in the absence of the dictator, and added that he does not know "what the reasons are" why he (Castro) was not invited...
With due respect to the highest ranking civil authority of Brazil, either President Lula does not know that there has been a communist dictatorship in Cuba, without free elections, for more than 40 years, or he simply does not think that the regime is a dictatorship. Both hypotheses are simply incredible.
The "untouchability" in which the Brazilian government protects communist Cuba, at a moment when the international leadership of Brazil is being affirmed, establishes an important and worrisome mantle over the course of our foreign policy, with obvious repercussions in internal Brazilian affairs. Maybe there is a hint to understanding the root of the problem. It is in the recent affirmation made by President Lula to foreign journalists, recognizing that in reality he did not change his ideology.