Thursday, November 14, 2019

King and Queen of Spain are ignoring Cuban dissidents

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." -  Desmond Tutu

The Miami Herald, November 13, 2019

King and Queen of Spain are turning a blind eye to Cuba’s oppression | Opinion 

Diaz-Canel, left, with Spain’s King Felipe VI review troops in Havana, Cuba, AP

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Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia arrived in Cuba for an official visit on Nov. 11, just days before the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana by Spanish representatives.

Before the royal visit it was announced that the Royal couple would not meet with dissidents.

Amnesty International sent King Felipe a letter, made public on Nov. 8, petitioning him to make four requests during his visit to Cuba: Release six Cuban prisoners of conscience, José Pilot Guide , Silverio Portal Contreras, Mitzael Díaz Paseiro, Eliecer Bandera Barrera, Edilberto Ronal Azuaga, and Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces and repeal their sentences; Inform José Daniel Ferrer García of the charges against him or release him. Meanwhile, ensure that he has access to his family, lawyer and medical care; End harassment of Cuban artists Luis Manuel Otero and Amaury Pacheco; Repeal Decree 349 that prohibits all artistic activity without prior approval from the regime.

Spain is a constitutional monarchy, and the king must do what Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, the ultimate political authority, instructs. Unfortunately, Sánchez is a member of the Spanish Socialist Party.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez with representative of Castro dictatorship in 2018
He visited Cuba in November 2018 and failed to speak publicly for Cuban prisoner of conscience Eduardo Cardet or address the July 22, 2012, murder of Spanish Cuban dual citizen Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas. Instead, Sánchez pledged to pour money into the Cuban dictatorship that strengthened the military and police state that oppresses Cubans and Venezuelans. This has been the first visit to Cuba by a Spanish prime minister in 20 years. Unlike his predecessor, José María Aznar, he did not meet with Cuban dissidents. He has now instructed King Felipe to do the same. This is a sad time for those of us who have affection for the Spanish people.

Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar with Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas

The Spanish prime minister’s failure to be consistent on human rights is appalling. On Oct. 24, Sanchez presided over the exhumation of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco from the Valley of the Fallen and said this “ends a moral affront — the exaltation of a dictator in a public place.” But this politician’s outrage did not extend to Fidel Castro’s regime declaring three days of mourning when Francisco Franco died in 1975, or the “special relationship” between the two despots. Moral blindness is found across the political spectrum, but Sanchez reached new lows in his relationship with the Castro dictatorship. 
Che Guevara attends bull fight with Franco's secret police in 1959
The so-called “special relationship” between Castro and Franco, which saw Che Guevara attending a bull fight with members of Franco’s secret police, was not so special on the Cuban side. In their 2017 book,  History of a challenge five decades of relentless struggle of the Civil Guard against ETA (Historia de un desafío: Cinco décadas de lucha sin cuartel de la Guardia Civil contra ETA), Manuel Sánchez and Manuela Simón reveal that, “In the spring of 1964, ETA militants received training in Cuba with lessons on kidnappings, subversion and sabotage. Thus began the ideological and terrorist training that would later be a constant in the history of the terrorist band.” 
The Cuban Communist dictatorship has a long history of sponsoring and engaging in terrorism around the world, and Spain was not exempt.
ETA terrorists were trained by Cubans in 1964 according to 2017 book.
This year, the great city of Havana deserves to be honored on its 500th anniversary and its origins remembered. Havana was founded at its present location by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar in 1519. The city would thrive and flourish for centuries, but the arrival of the Castro regime in 1959 ushered in six decades of decay and destruction that continue. Communist rule has been hard on the historic city, with many sections falling apart.

Sadly, it’s all too clear why Havana inspired German filmmaker Florian Borchmeyer in 2006 to make a documentary titled “Havana — The New Art of Making Ruins.”

Parts of old Havana are literally crumbling away.

John Suarez is executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba, based in Falls Church, Virginia.

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