Ciego de Avila, Cuba. June 2005
TO THE EUROPEAN UNION
My name is Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leiva. I'm a blind Cuban lawyer, president of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights, presently constrained within the limited territory of the province of Ciego de Avila, after languishing 26 endless months in prison where I suffered physical torture at the hands of the military personnel of Cuban State Security.
I send to you greetings filled with gratitude, respect and admiration for all the well being that the peoples and the governments of Europe have bestowed upon the world.
The European Union recently decided to postpone, for another year, the sanctions placed against the Cuban government in 2003. Due to the implications this decision entails for me and for all those in an internal opposition that grows under great repression, I must respond from my own humble social context in Cuba in order to express to all members of the European Union the realities and dangers we face.
There still remain in prison 61 victims of the criminal wave of repression of 2003, when they were all imprisoned in good health. Two years later, the medical records of most of these detainees reveal a pathetic state of health. Four hundred political prisoners are psychologically crushed on a daily basis in Cuban prisons, where most of their human rights are denied. There, they are victims of the government's hate and revenge. Prison conditions could not be worse: crowded cells full of insects and rodents, lack of running water, rotten food, physical mistreatments, insults, and the inability to rest and sleep, turn these penitentiaries into centers of terror and annihilation of a wide sector of the Cuban population which the authorities describe as "antisocial."
More than 500 young men were sent to prison in the last two months accused of the hideous legal term called "dangerous conduct". That is, the Cuban government continues to condemn hundreds of innocent young Cubans to up to four years and confines them in maximum security prisons, even in violation of the Cuban penal code, which stipulates their detention in re-education centers where they are supposed to study and work. Many of these detainees are human rights activists and political dissidents.
Far from an honest and sincere policy of opening up to the world, the government of Havana continues to bet on the martyred resistance of an entire nation, presenting a false image of our reality, which is filtered and manipulated before being projected before the world.
This resolution approved by the European Union, within the framework of its due rights, has not diminished my high esteem for Europe. Nevertheless, as a Cuban who loves his country, I highly disapprove a fatal decision that forsakes, at a crucial moment, more than 500 Cuban political prisoners. In addition, it places the Cuban government in a favorable position to attack with violence the defenseless people of Cuba who struggle peacefully for the respect of human rights, God's liberties, democracy and the rule of law.
We are still convalescing from our "black March" of 2003, and expect at any moment the vindictive blow proposed by Fidel Castro to the Cuban dissidence in the past days before Cuban television cameras in the program "Mesa Redonda."
May God bless the World,
JUAN CARLOS GONZALEZ LEIVA
President of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights under house arrest
(hat tip to netforcuba.org)