Solidarity with Rafael / Miriam Celaya
Solidarity with Rafael / Miriam Celaya
Miriam Celaya, Translator: Norma Whiting
An open letter is circulating around the web these days. The letter was
written by cinematographer Ismael de Diego and addressed to Camilla
Vallejo, the Chilean communist student who recently visited Cuba as a
guest of the Union of Young Communists. Of course, we Cubans don't know
what sources of income the organization might have that allow it to fund
invitations to foreigners, but now this comment is not about that … deep
down we know that we are the ones who pay.
I would subscribe to every point on Ismael's letter, and would also sign
the one that I am duplicating here, which I want to share with you. The
referenced document is also an open letter, sent to me via e-mail,
directed at General Raúl Castro, Cuba's so-called president (lower case
intentional) by a Cuban doctor residing in Canada, a regular reader of
this blog. Since he had posted it on Facebook beforehand, I will assume
it's OK if I post it here. At any rate, I think it's good to disclose
all the abuse and humiliation to which we Cubans are all subjected, both
inside and outside the Island, in order to pierce and destroy the false
image of justice, democracy and generosity of the Cuban government.
Dr. Rafael Ángel González Pupo has not been allowed to visit Cuba, but
businessman Carlos Saladrigas has. All Rafael wants to do is to visit
his elderly parents, not to invest money. And, for the record, I
support, with all my being, the right of entry of all Cubans to Cuba…
and also permission for their departure. These days spy René González
has also been in Cuba, under controlled freedom, while thousands of
Cuban exiles have been unable to visit relatives in Cuba over the years.
The terrible Empire allowed him to leave the United States for
Some time ago I published another letter, similar to Raphael's, that of
a doctor named Osmel. I will never tire of denouncing these events, and
I consider it a civic obligation to multiply our claims against
government abuses, though it's clear that humanitarian appeal to a
regime like Cuba is to hope in vain.
I therefore apologize to Rafael for having taken the liberty to present
his case, but this is my way of showing solidarity with him. I respected
the structure, grammar and spelling of the original he sent me. Above
all, I thank him and Ismael de Diego for asserting their voices in a
public and valid way: they fill me with hope for the Cuba I dream about.
May all Cubans here and in exile decide to do the same. Increasingly, it
is more criminal to remain silent: let's not become part of the plot.
Here is Rafael's letter:
Toronto, March 21, 2012
To: Mr. Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State and Ministers.
From: Dr. Rafael González Pupo, a Cuban citizen residing abroad.
Subject: Circumstances for entering the country on humanitarian grounds.
I am Dr. Rafael A. Pupo González, and I graduated with honors and as a
student of exceptional academic performance in 1994, specializing in
general and cardiovascular surgery. I served in that capacity at the
Hospital Hermanos Ameijeiras from 1999 to 2007. That year, I came to
Canada for cardiac surgery training, fully funded by the University of
Toronto, and in 2009, at the end of the course, decided not to return to
Cuba. My reason? Economic emigration, like so many hundreds of thousands
of Cubans who now number 1.5 million living in exile. Exile was once the
worst punishment for Cuban emigrants, or those expatriated for political
reasons, and today has become the greatest desire of our best citizens….
who are asphyxiated and disillusioned.
I had a salary equivalent to 20 CUC in Cuba, and that was not sufficient
to support our family and my 90 year-old parents, whose only income was
100 pesos a month, and this situation became untenable to me.
According to the obsolete, rigid, inhuman and anti-constitutional
immigration laws in force, you have denied passport-authorization for me
to visit Cuba, my country, the country that belongs to all Cubans and
not the private island of the caste in power.
Faced with this refusal, His Excellency, Mr. Raúl Delgado Concepción,
Consul of the Republic of Cuba in Toronto, explained to me that my
family could initiate proceedings for an entry permit on humanitarian
grounds, which is negotiated in cases of serious illness or the death of
a close family member.
My mother died a year ago, and my elderly father is now 94 and very
sick. He has prostate neoplasia, ischemic heart disease, aneurysm of the
Valsalva sinus, bilateral glaucoma, with loss of vision in one eye and,
of course, severe depressive anxiety, because he wishes to see me, his
son, before he dies. In accordance with your immigration regulations, my
family initiated those efforts in June of 2011.
For nine months they applied in the city of Holguín, where they
presented their documents, and at the National Emigration Department,
and they were told that our request had been sent to a higher level for
evaluation, and they were even told to be very patient, because the
negotiations could take a year. Logically, we answered that, in that
time, a sick person might die, and they replied that, in that instance,
we would have to provide them with the death certificate. We ask
ourselves if those procedures have such an implicit long delay with the
purpose of prolonging our suffering. What objective do undertaking these
applications have, created by the same official body that creates false
expectations, if, at the end, nothing gets resolved? What humanitarian
value do they have?
Today, March 21st, 2012, my family visited the National Emigration
Department and they were informed that MY ENTRY TO THE COUNTRY HAS BEEN
DENIED as of March 14th. When they asked why, they explained that it was
because of my status as "deserter" physician, and that I was out of the
country for only three years. I ask myself where your humanity is, and
what is the treachery against emigrating doctors, when you are the ones
who have forced us to take this decision.
We continue not to understand so unpleasant a situation. On more than
one occasion you, in particular, referring to the peak emigration issue,
have indicated that current regulations fulfilled their target in
previous decades, that they were established for reasons very different
than today's, and that changing them is currently under consideration.
When will those promised changes take place?
I want to point out the importance of some of the articles of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on December 10th, 1948 by
the United Nations, all of which you are in violation of in this case in
particular and against the people of Cuba in mass. There are many more.
Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention
Article 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference
with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, or to attacks upon his
honor and reputation. Everyone is entitled to the protection of the law
against such interference or attacks.
Article 13: Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and
residence within the territory of a State. Everyone has the right to
leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Article 16.3: The family is the natural and fundamental group unit
of society and it's entitled to protection by society and the state.
Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought,
conscience and religion: this right includes freedom to change religion
or belief, and freedom to manifest religion or belief, individually and
collectively, both in public or private, teaching, practice, worship and
Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
expression: this right includes freedom to hold opinions without
interference and to seek their opinions, receive and impart information
and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers, by any means of
Article 22: Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to
social security and realization, through national effort and
international cooperation in view of the organization and resources of
each State, of the economic social and cultural rights indispensable for
his dignity and the free development of his personality.
Article 23.3: Everyone who works has the right to just and
favorable remuneration, ensuring for himself and his family an existence
worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means
of social protection.
I am a deserter? I find that description very inappropriate. Knowing
that Cuba is a signatory to the Universal Declaration I decided to
establish my residence abroad. If Cuba signed these agreements, why,
then am I labeled so contemptuously? Why do we have to endure such
maltreatment and the violations we are suffering?
Is it that, in Cuba, the resolutions dictated by a Ministry are above
the constitution and the RIGHTS (recognized by Cuba) under which life is
organized in the civilized world? I have not betrayed anyone. I am not a
worm. Thinking differently is not a crime, it's a right. If I am a Cuban
citizen, why then do I need an entry permit? Why could I not attend my
mother's funeral? How is it possible for you to deny my humanitarian
entry permit to visit my elderly and ailing father, or to cry on my
mother's grave, dead for over a year?
I don't understand how the world's most "heinous and ruthless"
government (the US, according to you) has authorized René González, hero
and convicted spy, to visit his sick brother in Cuba under conditional
freedom, but you, "the paradigm of human rights" will not allow me to
see my father?
I have not committed any act of aggression against Cuba. I just wanted
to provide our family and my parents the essential resources which I
could not acquire while earning a token salary, the token salary of
almost 12 million Cubans for 54 years of post-revolution.
I believe that political issues should not be mixed with those that are
purely humanitarian. I think you have established a regime so inflexible
and callous that you have forgotten the real HUMAN reasons the
Revolution took place. In order to maintain power at all costs, you have
betrayed yourselves and, worse yet, you have betrayed our people. You
are like Saturn, devouring his own children, and your destination is the
same as all totalitarian regimes: disappearance. Look at yourself in
Libya's, Syria's or Egypt's mirror. Why are you waiting to change? Can't
you see that the people are suffering, needing, and in the thrones of
death? You have created a monster that is devouring and choking us, but
worse than that is that you lost control of your own Frankenstein.
Our plea is the same. History will absolve us…. from you.
Most disappointed with the world, and praying to our lord Jesus Christ
for a better Cuba, in your absence:
Dr. Rafael Ángel González Pupo
Translated by Norma Whiting
April 13 2012