Jul. 24, 2003: Diario Las Américas, Miami (translated from original in Spanish)

Cuba: Lula Supports Castro's Internal "Blockade"

by Armando F. Valladares

In the first two weeks of July the president of Brazil, Mr. Lula da Silva; his chancellor, Celso Amorim; and their ambassador in Cuba, Tilden Santiago (a former priest, a follower of the theology of liberation, and intimate friend of the dictator Fidel Castro), made important pronouncements that favor, try to justify, and lend support to the bloody communist dictatorship of Cuba, which for more than forty years has oppressed twelve million of my Cuban brothers. During his visit to London, Lula harshly blamed exiled Cubans "who live in Miami" for maintaining what he called "the Cuban blockade" on the part of the United States; in Madrid, his chancellor, after affirming generically that "we defend human rights and democracy," tried to justify the brutal socio-political situation of Cuba alleging that "we recognize advances in the social sphere" and "we believe that a good part of the problems of Cuba are due to the American embargo"; in Brasilia, the ambassador Santiago said cynically that the recent barbaric shootings and imprisoning of opponents were a valid recourse of the Communist state to defend itself against American efforts "to destabilize the Cuban State."

Days before, the Brazilian president, in a symbolic gesture, placed on his head the cap of the pro-Castro Without-Land Movement (MST), during the visit of its leaders to the presidential palace; he received at a dinner two of the most important figures of the Cuban regime, the vice-president Carlos Lage and the chancellor Felipe Pérez, who heard from the Brazilian government its commitment to continue collaborating economically and politically with the regime; and, shortly afterward, he announced his trip to Havana, for next September.

The highest civilian authorities of Brazil, at the time that they accept and repeat the official argument of Communist Cuba that the American "blockade" is the cause of a large part of Cuban problems, seem to omit the fact that the cause and root of the problem of Cuba is the internal "blockade" through which the Communist state asphyxiates, by blood and fire, an entire people, condemned to live in an island prison from which one can only flee by putting his life in serious risk.

President Lula and Chancellor Amorim, following to the letter the Castro-Communist "script," transform a million exiled Cubans, the majority of whom live in Miami, into those principally responsible for the present Cuban drama; and the killer, that international criminal and Communist dictator called Fidel Castro, into a victim a little less than innocent. The inversion of roles, of criteria of analysis, of logical and moral principles, could not be greater. The famous American "blockade" or "embargo" is taken by the Communist state as a pretext to justify its economic failure and internal repression. Already it has been said by the Franciscan priest Miguel Angel Loredo - who was a heroic Cuban political prisoner for many years - on rebuking the dictator Castro who, in demagogic fashion in the tribunal of the FAO, blamed the American "embargo": "The true embargo is the internal one, the one that Castro applies to the people of Cuba. He prohibits entering and leaving the island, initiating relations, developing economic initiatives." Also affirming that truth, a truth as great as it is silenced, were the economist Martha Beatriz Roque, at present a political prisoner in the Black Cloak Women's Prison, Province of Marianao, Cuba, where she agonized over bad treatment and lack of medical attention; and also the political prisoner Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet, who lies in a dungeon of the Five and a Half Kilo Jail, in the Luis Lazo Highway, province of Pinar del Río. Likewise denouncing the artificiality of the Castro publicity farce on the external "blockade" were two Catholic bishops of the island, Bishops Alfredo Petit and Héctor Luis Peña; the economist, Carmelo Mesa-Lago, also in exile; and the prize-winning exiled writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante, who affirmed: "Cuba is not a poor country, it is a country impoverished by the politics of Castro, who has destroyed the economy. To believe that the cause is the American embargo, besides being ridiculous, is a shame, because Cuba buys products from many countries of the world." Showing all of this, with figures and arguments, was the most timely "Manual of the Latin American Useful Idiot." Recognizing this was the dictator Castro himself, who, in one of his raptures of verbiage, confessed to the American journalist María Schriver, of NBC, that one "mock" the prohibition of commerce with the United States as often as one likes.

President Lula already wore the cap of the pro-Castro MST; now, with vows, he wore that of the bloodthirsty Cuban dictator himself. Mr. Lula da Silva, as president of Brazil, has become the main political support of the Castro regime, with all the moral responsibility that it implies. In what refers to Cuba, everything mentioned here confirms my apprehensions declared in the article of September of 2002, regarding which Mr. Lula tried to disqualify me with the epitaph of " 'picareta' of Miami," during a well known television program of the journalist Boris Casoy (cf. A. Valladares, "Ironies of the new Lula give no replies and confirm apprehensions on the alliance with Castro and Chávez," Diario Las Américas, Miami, Oct. 11, 2002).

If President Lula wants to deny with facts, and not with words, that he has been transformed into the greatest international supporter of the Communist regime of Cuba - with all the grave responsibility that it implies before the Cuban people and the generous, cordial and intuitive Brazilian people, but, above all, before God - let him take clear diplomatic measures to contribute to the liberation of hundreds and perhaps thousands of Cuban political prisoners. Let him do something significant to save the lives of the political prisoners Martha Beatriz Castle and Oscar Biscet, who agonize in the Cuban jails, waiting thus the public call that has just been made by the Cuban organization United Cuba, of Miami. Let him not cross his arms before the drama of the Cuban physicist, Dr. López Linares, currently living in Brazil, who fruitlessly wrote to the Brazilian president asking for his intervention to be able to travel to Cuba to meet his little son Juan Paolo, four years of age. Let him not try to put tepid cloths on the crimes of Castro alleging the external "blockade" or the supposed "advances in the social sphere," such as health and education, that in reality are two implacable instruments of ideological, mental, political and police control of the unfortunate Cubans. Let him, in short, contribute, without euphemisms, toward the urgent liberation of Cuba.

In the meantime, we will continue taking literally as true the affirmation attributed to Mr. Lula by the communications media, during his trip to Havana, in December of 2001, to participate together along with the dictator Castro at the tenth meeting of the Forum of São Paulo (FSP), side by side with the chief Colombian drug guerrillas Rodolfo González (FARC) and Ramiro Vargas (ELN) and more than three hundred Communist leaders of the continent: "In spite of the fact that your face is already marked by wrinkles, Fidel, your soul remains clean because you never betrayed the interests of your people"; "thanks, Fidel, thanks because you continue to exist."

In view of all that has been related here, it is at the same time expressive and enigmatic that the American ambassador in Brasilia, Donna Hrinak, has just proposed that President Lula be the leader of Latin America.

Armando Valladares, former political prisoner of Cuba, author of the book Against All Hope, was American ambassador before the Commission of Human Rights of the UN, in Geneva, during the Reagan and Bush administrations.