Saturday, May 23, 2009
Open letter to Queen's University
May 21, 2009
Dear Catherine Krull,
Almost two weeks after Queen’s University hosted “The Measure of a Revolution. Cuba, 1959-2009”, I am addressing you on my double condition of Cuban native and Canadian citizen.
As a Cuban, I have to say that I was appalled to see how a reputable institution like Queen’s University had no problem organizing a totally one-sided event that was supposed to be of an academic nature. It was indeed embarrassing to lend a precinct that symbolizes debate, openness and free speech to host an event promoting a “revolution” that have made oppression and poverty the trademarks of an island formerly known as The Pearl of the Antilles.
As a Canadian, I feel shocked to know that our federal government sponsored a “cultural and academic” festivity that welcomed the victimizers while bypassing the chance to have the victims (the people of Cuba) express their understanding of the Measure of a Revolution.
When Canadian faculties like yours at Queen’s University do not understand their role in molding future generations of citizens in the virtue of truth, the way to the destruction of liberty and democracy is paved. If our future politicians, bureaucrats and opinion makers are not taught to be fair and dig the facts out of a manufactured and propagandized surface (i.e. communism) then our entire society will be jeopardized by the empire of cynicism and moral relativism.
I would like to suggest to you and to the faculty at Queen’s University to organize a follow up event in which members of Cuba’s courageous and forgotten civil society are invited to expose their side of the story. That story will surely give students and scholars at Queen’s the hidden facts of the so-called achievements of the revolution (health care and education) while teaching us all not to take our freedoms for granted. Because they are willing to pay the highest price for speaking their minds, Queen’s University owes them the chance to be heard.
The following is a list of members of Cuba’s civil society that could be taken into consideration. Their contact information would follow, should your institution be interested in the proposal.
Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello
Coordinator of Agenda Para la Transición
In 1997, she published a paper titled "The Homeland Belongs to All", for which she suffered 3 years of prison after being sentenced with sedition.
Rearrested during the Black Spring of 2003 and sentenced to 20 years of prison, but released on medical license.
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas
Founder of the Christian Liberation Movement and the Varela Project.
Awarded The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought from the European Parliament, 2002; W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award from U.S. National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, 2003; One of the 15 Champions of World Democracy by the Europe-based magazine A Different View, 2008
Vladimiro Roca Antúnez
Founder and president of the illegal Social Democrat Party of Cuba. In 1997, he published "The Homeland Belongs to All", for which he suffered 3 years of prison after being sentenced with sedition. Son of the late Blas Roca, member of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party.
Leader of Ladies in White, a movement formed with relatives of dissidents incarcerated after the 2003 crackdown known as Black Spring. Awarded the 2005 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Philologist and blogger. Awarded the Ortega y Gasset Journalism Award. In 2008, Time magazine considered her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Her blog, Generation Y received the top prize at The BOBs (an annual international weblog award) sponsored by Deutsche Welle. 2008 El Pais, 100 Most Notable Hispanoamericans. 2008 Foreign Policy, 10 Most Influential Latin American Intellectuals. Time Magazine/CNN, 25 Best Blogs, 2009.
Leader of the rock and roll band Porno para Ricardo. In August 2008, Águila was arrested with the charge of "dangerousness", which allows detention of people deemed likely to commit crimes. After an unprecedented and overwhelming international outcry, led by followers and free speech sympathizers, he was eventually ordered to pay a $30 fine and let go.
Nelson Taylor Sol