A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of speaking in a Havana hotel with a foreign journalist who had written a long article against me. The chat was very enjoyable, although I reproached him for having written such a long article without having interviewed, beforehand, the object of his diatribe, a living person easily reachable in Havana. After two hours of questions and answers, we realized that we both want essentially the same thing: an atmosphere of respect for our ideas. He engages in a campaign against the prevailing hegemonic media in his country, and I work so that Cubans can rid themselves of the State’s information monopoly. Seen in this light, our aspirations are similar.

Among the strategies most used in the official discourse in Cuba is to compartmentalize citizens. To the extent that each disconnected group refuses to listen to the others, they cannot see that they have similar observations about their reality and a shared desire to improve the country. Thus, criticism is demonized and is not allowed among the official journalists invited to television studios to participate in those boring panel discussions where everyone has the same point of view. Repeating the tactic of “pitting one against another,” people sitting over a cup of coffee would confirm their similarities rather than examine in depth their differences. Every time I hear someone denigrated with incendiary adjectives such as “mercenary” or “traitor” I realize that the person tossing out these calumnies is afraid, inside, of any debate where they would have to stop shouting and instead make the case for their ideas. The offenders are generally those who fear healthy debate because they are lacking in reasons.

I read with surprise and optimism the exchange of letters between Silvio Rodriguez and Carlos Alberto Montaner. When two figures who have been placed at the far extremes can engage in an argument without resorting to shouts or threats, it is a sign that the injections of tension are no longer working. Suddenly we have seen how the singer of “Utopia” and the “archenemy” of the government have begun to correspond and debate their views. I wonder if this is a sign of a new start, that a member of the Communist Party from within the country can sit down to a dialog with someone belonging to an opposition group. Are we witnessing the collapse of the interior walls that isolate us from each other? How many more would be willing to set aside insult and sit down and talk? I would like to believe that yes, the mere fact of responding to an opponent is proof that he is respected, the best way to validate his existence and his right to express himself.

Translator’s notes:
Silvio Rodriguez (on the left in the photos above), born in 1946 in Cuba, is one of Cuba’s best known singer-songwriters. He lives in Cuba, where he serves in parliament.
Carlos Alberto Montaner (on the right in the photos above), born in 1943 in Havana, now lives in exile in Spain. An early supporter of the Cuban Revolution, he is now best known as an anti-Castro journalist and author.


42 thoughts on “Belligerance

  1. … missed the point my dear fellow …
    “BELLIGERANCE” the title of this particular blogg …

  2. Oh you want to talk about belligerence? Let’s talk about something we call the Tea Party movement in the United States.

    Let’s talk about how a Tea Party person literally crashed his car into someone with an Obama sticking, trying to kill the man and his daughter:

    Let’s talk about how they painted a four foot tall Swastika on the office of an African-American Congressman:

    Let’s talk about how they publicly called an African American politician the N word, and spit on him:

    Let’s talk about hate crimes in the US- against atheists, muslims, gays, racial minorities, and women conducted across the entire US on a daily basis. In fact, if you go around with a Pro-Communist, or even Leftist or Atheist shirt in the US there is a good chance some random nut might attack you. And the cops will defend him.

    Or how if you are African American you are 50% less likely to get a job:

    I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced real bigotry before, but over there at least you get some protection. Over here a white supremacist or Fundamentalist can attack you, for whatever hateful reason, and 9 out of 10 times get away with it. In fact the cops might even defend him.

  3. All of you who are so adept at hurling insults & abuse while using the mantle of freedom while defending the present cuban regime: stop & think about how you come across.
    Most of the time if not always, your message gets lost & eventually ignored.
    The responsibility for that is square on your shoulders & on the shoulders of the people you represent ITS NOT SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT.
    Hide not behind your intellectual frustrations or passion; don’t use this as a justification for your behavior.
    You do not convince people by force, that is impossing your will.
    If you expect constructive results: you converse, not argue, you exchange thoughts in an atmosphere of mutual respect, you don’t insult and bully.
    Thgin & think hard! in itself, the need to justify is an admission of wrong.
    As the need to defend is an admission of failure.

    Again: read BELLIGERANCE”, don’t read mechanically or anticipating the wrongs in the statement … read & try to comprehend what is been communicated, as a whole, within context.
    Open your mind, be as it where a “doubting Thomas” … you may learn something …

  4. … lack of suporting arguments? your answer: hurl insults …
    … unable to speak w/truth? your answer:be abusive …
    … to know you are wrong & not admit it? your answer: shout as loud as you can …
    … inferiority complex? your answeranswer: reasure yourself by yourself of your “large stature” …
    Isn’t this a kodak moment …

  5. Simba Sez: jane # 37 My gosh. Are you stuttering? I’m afraid that statement, or whatever that gibberish was, made no sense to me. Please try to respond in sentences. I realize you are having a problem with your warped thinking, but calm down, and everything will work out with your intellectual problems.

  6. #4 What the fuck? No wonder you call yourself Simple. Like name like character but oyu are in good company here amongst the other Frauds, Yobbos, Fat Alberts and Hubris

  7. “NOT GOING TO WASTE MY TYPING SKILLS RESPONDING TO YOU..” and yet Humbug instead of searching for daddy you keep doing so. Guess thst is what displacement is all about?

  8. Juan,

    Go and get yourself a haircut! I heard that is the new BIG CHANGE “LA CHINA” has proposed to beat THE YANKEES! Maybe your neurons will get some fresh air and you will say something meaningful and truthful!

  9. Simba Sez: juan # 32 “hen there is a choice between conspiracy and fuck-up the latter is always the most likely.” I’ll slightly paraphrase you to say, “When there is a choice between conspiracy and extreme error the latter is always the most likely.” A conspiracy is an agreement to perform together an illegal, treacherous, or evil act. So, apparently you are saying that if you have a choice between performing an illegal, treacherous, or evil act, or making an extreme error you would rather do the latter. Why you and your ilk would rather do either is beyond me, but I’ll try to keep that in mind when reading your incredibly deleterious remarks in the future. Have a nice day.

  10. Actually Humbug you responded to an alleged spelling error! in my original post not the other way round. Wow you must be very clever to do that – daddy would be very proud if you knew who the real one was. So by all means ignore what I write that WOULD make me happy.

  11. #31 and Simple you and your ilk might have some crediblity beyond the narrow confines of your ghetto if could even attempt a clarification of your alleged differences between my paraphrase and the actual quotes.
    Loguically why would I intentionally misrepresent aquote when it could so easily be checked at source.hen there is a choice between conspiracy and fuck-up the latter is always the most likely.

  12. Simba Sez: juan # 25 To explain the difference to the simple-minded. When you say something, practically no one listens or cares because you are insignificant. When Hilary Rodham Clinton, the Secretary of State of the most powerful nation on earth, speaks, the entire educated world population takes heed. With your inane attempt to twist her musings into something that suits your purpose, and place the blame on her, it proves your willingness to spin the facts.
    You say you were paraphrasing, but you did not say that in its original form. You apologize if you left the impression it was a direct quote. There was no impression, you flat out stated it was a quote. It was not, and that makes you a liar, my friend. Therefore your credibility is worthless.


    THE SPOOF; Cuba liberalises hairdressers

    Cubans this morning woke to the news that Raul Castro is going to privatize State owned hairdressers shops throughout the country.

    “As part of the liberalization process currently underway in our country, citizens are no longer required to wear government approved ‘Fidel’ beards. This has led to a massive drop in the requirement to collect the human hair needed to make them and we must face the fact that it is no longer economically viable for the State to continue funding the hairdressing sector.” said a government spokesman.

    Hairdressing salons will now become private institutions and will pay taxes. “We see this as a perfect way to improve the economic situation in Cuba”, said Raul Castro, “People cannot stop their hair growing so we will have a never-ending source of revenue.”

    In conjunction with the announcement it was also revealed that substantial stocks of Rogain and Propecia will be purchased on the International market to deal with potential revenue loss through male-pattern baldness.

    While the ‘Fidel’ beard may have become an outdated relic, the newly released on the market ‘Raul’ moustache is becoming increasingly fashionable and is being toted as the ‘new way forward’.

    “We have no intention of forcing our citizens to buy or wear these moustaches. But citizens will be actively encouraged to support the Cuban economy in these difficult times and to think very carefully about their families and loved ones.” said Mr Cubalibre, the head of the State Security Ministry.

    The changes to the hairdressing industry are widely thought to be part of an ongoing attempt by Raul Castro to undermine the influence of his older brother and stamp his own personal touch upon his presidency.

    Comment has not been forthcoming from Fidel himself but ‘insiders’ have reported that he is still very much alive, despite many rumours to the contrary, and is ‘shocked and deeply saddened’ by his brother’s actions.

  14. GUARDIAN UK: Cuban state-owned barber shops face new style: privatisation
    First time state-run retail outlets have been ceded to staff since Fidel Castro nationalised small businesses in 1968.

    Cuba’s centrally planned socialist economy is getting a trim: hundreds of state-owned barbershops and beauty salons are being handed over to employees and, in effect, privatised.
    Shops and salons with three or fewer chairs will be allowed to rent the space and pay taxes instead of getting a monthly wage in what could presage further economic liberalisation. It is the first time state-run, retail-level outlets have been ceded to employees since Fidel Castro nationalised small businesses in 1968.

    The measure, discreetly implemented and not officially announced, suggests president Raúl Castro is inching ahead with reforms signalled when he succeeded his ailing older brother last year.

    Clipping back communist controls will, it is hoped, give the former employees an incentive to work harder, improve dismal service and inject a bit of dynamism into a moribund economy.

    Under the new system, a tiny but telling ideological break from Fidel’s era, barbers, hairdressers and beauticians will no longer receive a state wage and be able to charge what they like. They are likely to earn a lot more than the average monthly wage of about $20 (£13).

    In return they must pay tax and rent which will be based on 15% of the average revenue generated by haircutting and styling in each area. Barbers and manicurists will pay less than hairdressers.

    Daisy, a hairdresser in easternmost Guantánamo province, told Reuters that under the old system the government took in $234 per month per hairdresser. Now she will pay the government $35 per month and keep any earnings above that.

    “We have to pay water, electricity and for supplies but it seems like a good idea,” Daisy said.

    The plan did not turn the shops into co-operatives but employees would have to team up to decorate and maintain the establishments.

  15. Juan, Juan, Juan,


  16. Juana

    Despite other contributors grammatical errors or “lack of understanding”, or that you write in a semi-coherent way doesn’t change the fact that you are a dispicable apologist for the castros. You are a simpleton who lacks the ability to generate any semblence of original thought, always falling back on others discredited arguements and propaganda. You provide no credible arguement of your own to justify the crimes that your heroes in Cuba have been perpetrating on Cubans for over 50 years. But please by all means, keeping excercising your democratic right and keep posting “your” views little man.

  17. Perhaps there is a need to read again … specially the closing words to this particular blogg …
    It stars with -” How many more would be willing to set aside insult & sit down & talk …
    While the rebolutionaries “show” their passion in their contributions to this blogg (perhaps LOUD so their bosses can see how faithful they are) in their adeptness to quote facts & figures … from other countries.
    They do not quote facts & figures from their own … I guess they are affraid to “give anything away”

  18. #23 Simple of course I was paraphrasing – my apologies if I gave the impression that it was direct quote. If it had been I would have provided the source.

    However if you think that Clinton says “Cuba does not want embargo lifted. It is in their interests to have it maintained.
    Therefore the USA should maintain the embargo!!”

    … in any significant essence different from…

    Clinton said that the Castro brothers “do not want to see an end to the embargo and do not want to see normalization with the United States because they would then lose all their excuses for what hasn’t happened in Cuba in the last 50 years..”

    …………………then please explain.

  19. Despite US efforts to “enhance cooperation,” Clinton said that the Castro brothers “do not want to see an end to the embargo and do not want to see normalization with the United States because they would then lose all their excuses for what hasn’t happened in Cuba in the last 50 years,” Clinton said.

    “I find that very sad, because there should be an opportunity for a transition” to democracy in Cuba,” said Clinton, who was answering a student’s question during a visit to the University of Louisville in the state of Kentucky.


  20. Simba Sez: Juan # 16
    Clinton say “Cuba does not want embargo lifted. It is in their interests to have it maintained.”

    “Therefore the USA should maintain the embargo!!”

    I wonder if you can possibly help me in locating those quotes you have attributed to Clinton. I can’t seem to locate either, in any context, spoken by Hilary Rodham Clinton, United States Secretary of State, either in her remarks of last week or at any other time. It might seem that you have fabricated them for whatever reason, and then are attempting to use your concocted quote to prove a point. I don’t think a lie can be supportive of a point of view.

  21. Humbug there was no unintentional “error”.

    You clearly can’t read english very well which is probably why you resort to re-printing long articles – often several times -rather than articulating a cogent argument.

    Have you EVER posted here something that didn’t consist of either personal abuse and/or a reprint from elsewhere?


  23. Yep Humbug concentrate on ironical spelling not the substance because the latter would require some intellect?

    And do you think residing in LA excludes you from the “ilk”?! Perhaps consult a dictionary as you keep displaying your ignorance on this matter.

  24. Juan! Have another drink! Maybe “CHISPATREN” (this is the name given to one of Cuba’s “moonshine” rums)!
    “Only the rabid Mimai mafia and their ilk do.” MIAMI! M I A M I! I’m from L.A.!

  25. UNCOMMON SENSE: Cuban political Darsi Ferrer ends hunger strike after dictatorship meets demands

    Cuban political prisoner Dr. Darsi Ferrer, one of my personal heroes in the struggle for freedom on the island, has scored a big victory against the Castro regime.

    Ferrer, a physician, journalist and human rights activist in jail since last July, on Monday ended a hunger strike he started March 20, after officials said they would meet his demands, according various media reports.

    Prison officials told Ferrer, 40, that he would receive medical treatment needed for a mouth infection.

    Also, prosecutors assured Ferrer that he soon would get a hearing on his case, which has been stalled in the Cuban court system since his arrest.

    No formal charges have been filed, but Ferrer reportedly was arrested for buying a couple of bags of cement so he could make repairs to his residence, which was damaged during a prior police raid.

    Opposition activists, however, have said they believe Ferrer was arrested because of his anti-government activism, including the organizing of human rights demonstrations. His arrest may have squashed his activities, but it also further elevated the status of a man I consider a giant of the opposition.


    I understand the desperation Ferrer and other hunger strikers must feel when they decide to start such a protest. They are fighting back with their lives, the only weapon they have.

    However, the irrationality of it all is amplified when considering that such a protest is aimed at an audience, at a regime, in no mood to negotiate, and might well be relieved if a hunger strike ends with the protester’s death. In fact, just last week, officials had tossed Ferrer into an isolation cell at the Valle Grande prison.

    That the dictatorship acceded to Ferrer’s demands was the result of Ferrer’s persistence, a judgment by the regime his demands could be met at political or public relations costs or a miracle — or some combination of the three.

    Whatever it was, it was a win for freedom, and for one of Cuba’s grandest freedom fighters.

    I would never trust anything a Castro dictatorship official tells me, and I cannot help but think that Ferrer is at least a bit skeptical about the assurances he was given.

    But it was enough for him to end his hunger strike, which is good news for him and his family, and good news for freedom in Cuba.

  26. There are some Parrots in this blog that keep repeating phrases coming out of “Granma”, like Miami Mafia.

  27. Clinton say “Cuba does not want embargo lifted. It is in their interests to have it maintained.”

    “Therefore the USA should maintain the embargo!!”

    Hmmm – is there something wrong with this logic??

    Does Yoani Sanchez support the maintenance of the embargo? No of course she doesn’t.

    Only the rabid Mimai mafia and their ilk do.


    THE WASHINGTON POST: Cuba: Clinton’s comments on Castros ‘cynical’
    By WILL WEISSERTThe Associated Press -Monday, April 12,

    HAVANA — Cuban state media dismissed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as a cynic on Monday for her assertion that Fidel and Raul Castro don’t want Washington’s 48-year embargo lifted because they would no longer be able to blame America for their country’s problems.

    Clinton’s comment last week “mixed ignorance and falsehoods at an infinite level,” state-run Radio Reloj said.

    “If cynicism needed an expression that would immortalize it, the American secretary of state gave it,” the station said in a report read over the air and posted on its Web site.

    Clinton’s remarks also appeared without further commentary on Cubadebate, the government Internet site where Fidel Castro publishes frequent opinion pieces. The elder Castro dropped out of public view after undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006, and his brother Raul has since taken over the presidency.

    Following a speech on nuclear terrorism at the University of Louisville on Friday, Clinton said, “it is my personal belief that the Castros do not want to see an end to the embargo and do not want to see normalization with the United States because they would lose all of their excuses for what hasn’t happened in Cuba in the last 50 years.”

    Cuban officials of ranks high and low routinely fault the embargo for the vast majority of daily difficulties on the island – from shortages of housing, food and domestic goods to severely limited Internet access and spotty public transpiration.

    The communist government says the U.S. policy, which took its current form in 1962 and chokes off trade between both countries – with some exceptions for food and agricultural goods – has cost it at least $96 billion to date.

    Clinton said Cuba should be given an opportunity for a transition to full democracy, but that may not happen anytime soon under an “intransigent, entrenched regime.”

    Whenever it looks like normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations could be a possibility, she added, “the Castro regime does something to try to stymie it.”

    The Obama administration says it has worked to thaw nearly a half-century of ice-cold U.S. relations with Cuba in a number of ways, including easing limits on Cuban-Americans who want to travel or send money to the island that were imposed by George W. Bush. Top officials from both countries have also met to discuss resuming direct mail service and tackle immigration issues, as well as relief efforts in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

    Obama says Washington has no intention of lifting the embargo unless Cuba embraces democratic and human rights reforms and frees its political prisoners, who independent human rights groups on the island say number around 200.

    Cuba’s government counters that it holds no political prisoners and protects human rights better than most countries since its communist system provides free health care and education through college to all Cubans, as well as heavily subsidized housing, utilities, food and transportation.

  29. Siggy
    Hope you are wrong.
    It seems to me that while the group at Havana Times does seem to support the revolution they do know the problems they have and are open in a way the regime is not.
    So far they keep admitting my comments. As you know I am very critical of the regime maybe as critical as you are so not sure why they banned you.
    I do like the postings by many of the people there.
    Many times I used to wonder about these so call “revolutionaries” if they actually saw anything wrong with their system. They answer that question. Yes they do. They were just too afraid to tell. But now their voices are loud and clear. They are critical from within the system. They think the system can be save if they do some changes.

    But we know better.
    There is no salvation for a system like that. Hopefully one day they will come to that realization themselves.

    I keep re thinking in my head. All the sacrifice for just health care and education that in the end are given as awards to those that are faithful to those in power so that they can keep themselves in power! and that again as we explained they also end up paying for these so called “free education” and “free health care” the whole life with the slave salaries they get paid.
    The price to pay is to high.
    Loose of personal liberty to a paternalistic state that knows best and keeps people misinformed about everything out of Cuba and about Cuba.

    too high a price to pay!

  30. There is certainly no sign of a new start in Cuban state media.

    Despite the enormous amount of space provided by El Pais for Silvio Rodriquez to air his views, Granma launches yet another tirade against the newspaper for its supposed attack on Silvio Rodriguez:

    “A great country and a shoddy El País

    Pedro de la Hoz

    IT is no secret to anyone that the Spanish Prisa media group, which once prided itself on being left wing but, for some time now, has responded to the canon of armchair lefties, is one of the battering rams of the U.S. policy – and of the obsequious Spanish right – of attempting to discredit Cuban society.

    The Saturday concerts in the José Martí Anti-Imperialist Tribunal and the esplanade of the former Moncada Garrison were a hard bone for its editors to chew. They masticated the information but didn’t swallow it. They had to have realized what happened at the two extremes of the island, but annotated the usual commonplaces.

    For the El País newspaper, instead of artists and intellectuals who, on their own initiative, expressed their sentiments with full liberty and integrity, it was “the government of General Raúl Castro (that) decided to organize two concerts in unison.”

    In continuation, in a supposedly informative note, they tried to have a go at Silvio Rodríguez, for having “been announced by the official media as the artist who was to open the Havana concert” and to come “onstage to read out a statement of his previously circulated on the Internet, but who did not sing.” You don’t have to be too experienced to note an attempt to reduce the participation of the emblematic New Trova singer-songwriter.”

  31. From Yoani’s Twitts

    “Me pregunto que significa la baja asistencia al Concierto por la Patria del sabado pasado: apatia o repulsa? Habia mucho sol o poca ilusion?”

    I wonder what is the meaning of the low numbers of people attending the concert for the homeland last Saturday” Apathy or repulse? There was too much sun or too little illusion?

  32. 2Julio de la Yncera (Silent Voice)

    Abril 11th, 2010 at 18:32

    ….I am sure people in Cuba will love to see some debate like that.
    A real one…….

    Forget it dear one…. castrofascism knows it can’t open the minimum breach in the wall….. the pressure behind the wall will convert a tiny hole into a small crack and the small crack will quickly become a big hole that will cause a rumble and destruction of the whole wall…. that’s why the trench policy, that’s why the savagery against a group of old ladies ……
    By the way….. I am now sure I am banned from Havana Times….. it seems they do not allow people like me that comes out with uncomfortable facts many times backed with official documents that put the true nature of castrofascism under the sun. They want only soft criticism there, the kind of criticism of those that affirms it is possible to change regime without putting the nomenclature in exile or jail, a change with no justice for the thousands of death and the millions of documented crimes and abuses a few of them have committed, a change with castros in power!!!
    You are more lucky than me…. but you will be banned too soon…. will see.

  33. Bastante…es bastante.

    Que hacemos? Los hermanos Castro…are tyrants and murderers AND LIARS.

    Si. Bastante es bastante. Tenemos que usar otras “medios” hasta la libertad.

    For God’s sake this cannot go on.


  34. Castrofascists thugs non habemus !!!!!….. they must be receiving an intensive curse about ideological stupidity……. “How to lie without feel shame”…… “Principles of disinformation for retarded”……. “To be a successful cyber thug”……. I bet my tax devolution that “losada brigade”, johnny and the reinforcements they got recently does not pass the tests!!!!! (final test is here…. and here they always gets a F+++)

  35. Dear Yoani!
    I am sure changes will come to Cuba after Castros’ death. Then communists will decide it’s time for “democratization”.
    That time will be very important.
    You will have to prevent that people who hold power now retain their power.
    Otherwise Cuba after 20 years will be ruled by SDEMAFIA.See my blog about the situation in media in Slovenia (and Europe) 20 years after the first democratic election.

  36. Hank,

    There is nothing more sacred to Cuban Men (and women) than their mother and their women! THAT IS THE BIGGEST MISTAKE “LA CHINA” & “THE MUMMY” MADE. GOOD FOR US!

  37. I commented to my wife this evening, it is the women in Cuba who are driving the change. She said, “Por supuesto” (of course).

    I read about them, I translate what they say and write, and I am in awe of them. Shear and utter awe. The castros do not stand a chance.

  38. People of Cuba speak UP, your time is now to be heard. Yoani and all those who make this site possible. God bless you.

  39. Apreenson.Esse el maior problema para quem esta distante mas vive a ler e procurar saber das atrocidades praticads pelos que se dizem socialista mas não passam de ditadores e assassinos.Talvez o povo cubano vivesse melhor tendo Baptista como seu ditador que aturar os Castros mandando na ilha há sessenta anos.Quantas fámilias fuziladas por não aceitarem ser submetidas a censura?Quantos jovens mortos nos carceres por não fazerem parte dessa corja que afundaram o País e mata de fome os pais de fámilia com seus miseros sálarios de fome?A iLha existe para quem vai a turismo mas,para quem tentar viver,sera um inferno pois falta de tudo e o pouco que se ganha,não dá para o minimo.Não existe comida,papel higienico carros confortaveis e moradia digna para aqueles que se bateram por uma revolucão que não passou de balela.Que esse povo sofrido seja visto como gente e não como animais.Que os paises vizinhos ajudem cada um desses que precisam e a ONU possa levar o necessario para cada um desses que hoje depende de ajuda.Estamos ligados e atentos e não compactuamos com ás tolices ditas pelo presidente brasileiro,que é um puxa-saco desse governante tirano.Abaixo os Castro,Viva os que querem a liberdade.

  40. That will be an interesting debate if in the round table you could seat two opposing view points and really discuss about the Cuban reality.
    I think Randy will not be up to the task. I am not sure who could do that job on their side.

    I am sure people in Cuba will love to see some debate like that.
    A real one.

  41. Septimo aniversario del fusilamiento de los tres jovenes
    (7th anniversary of the execution of the 3 young men who hijacked a ferry boat in order to leave Cuba)!

    George Gautier (videos)!/video/video.php?v=1237584709367&ref=nf

    Pope condemns Cuban executions

    Pope John Paul II has added his voice to international condemnations of Cuba’s crackdown on dissidents, including the execution of three hijackers.
    Saturday, 26 April, 2003, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK

    In a letter to Cuban President Fidel Castro, released by the Vatican, the pontiff expressed his “deep pain” at the executions, and appealed for clemency for 75 imprisoned dissidents.

    On Friday, Mr Castro said the death penalty had been intended to deter further hijackings.

    The men had seized a ferry and tried to force the crew to go to the United States.

    Eleven people took part in the attempted hijack, in which nobody was hurt.

    Mr Castro accused the United States of seeking to provoke a mass exodus of Cubans from their homeland.

    The executions ended a three-year moratorium on capital punishment in Cuba, and were condemned by governments and human rights groups around the world.
    The pope’s appeal was dated 13 April, but released only on Saturday by the Vatican, through its secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

    The message asked President Castro for “a significant gesture of clemency toward those convicted”.

    “I am sure that you share also share with me the conviction that only a sincere and constructive confrontation between the citizens and the civil authorities can guarantee the promotion of a modern and democratic Cuba,” the pope said.

    John-Paul II, who became the first pontiff to visit Cuba in 1998, is a staunch opponent of the death penalty.

    In a lengthy speech on Friday, Mr Castro accused America of trying to destabilise Cuba and provide an excuse for military intervention

    He said the 75 Cuban dissidents sentenced to prison terms of up to 28 years were mercenaries in the pay of the enemy.

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