|Berta Soler testifies on Cuba in Washington, DC. Watch full hearing on US Foreign Relations Senate Committee website: 3 hours, 52 minutes, Soler from 2:58:25. (From Senate.gov)|
February 3, 2015
We are presently living through a particularly defining moment for the future of our country in the wake of the recent announced reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States.
I am appearing here as the leader of the Ladies in White, a group of women activists who support change towards democracy in our country through non-violent means, inspired by the example of women such as Rosa Parks and Coretta King, among others, who with courage and determination blazed paths for the full enjoyment of civil rights in this country. Now 50 years after the events in Selma, Alabama, and testifying before a Subcommittee who mandate includes Global Women's Issues, it is a great honor and an historic opportunity for me to appear before you.
I also speak on behalf of numerous leaders and activists from Cuban civil society who have entrusted me with speaking for them before you. It is a civil society that is particularly repressed by the intolerance of a government whose exercise of power consists of the systematic violation of the human rights of the Cuban people. Just before I left Cuba to be here, last January 28th, the day we celebrate the birth of our Founding Father José Martí, dozens of activists were arrested in Havana and other provinces for attempting to place offerings of flowers at statues of José Martí. In its totalitarian vision, the dictatorship seeks a monopoly on our national identity through the use of force against all independent activists.
The most respected international human rights organizations have documented violations of human rights in Cuba. On October 23, 2013, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued an injunction on behalf of members of the Ladies in White, to afford protection in the face of systematic repression by Cuban authorities.
Our aspirations are legitimate because they are undergirded by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Cuba is a party, and the signed international pacts on civil and political rights which have not been ratified by the dictatorship. Our demands are quite concrete: freedom for political prisoners, recognition of civil society, the elimination of all criminal dispositions that penalize freedom of expression and association and the right of the Cuban people to choose their future through free, multiparty elections.
We believe these demands are just and valid. Even more importantly, for us they represent the most concrete exercise of politics, a step in the direction of democratic coexistence. Cuba will change when the laws that enable and protect the criminal behavior of the forces of repression and corrupt elements that sustain the regime change.
In the name of those who have been executed by the firing squads.
In the name of Cuban political prisoners.
In the name of the pilots from the humanitarian organization, Brothers to the Rescue, murdered on Fidel Castro's orders.
In the name of the victims from the "13 de Marzo" tugboat.
In the name of the victims of Cuba's Communist regime.
Cuba yes, Castro no.
Full testimony in PDF format