Conversations with the Cuban government, which have been maintained for decades by U.S. congressmen, lobbies, nongovernmental organizations, businessmen, journalists, religious leaders, intelligence and government officers, have hardly served democracy in Cuba. Neither has the U.S. trade embargo.
What Wayne S. Smith, Cuba project director for the Center for International Policy, said in an Oct. 26 letter [“Keep the trade embargo?”] is a Cuban move “toward liberalization,” my father, Oswaldo Payá, called “fraudulent change.” The Cuban dictatorship that is supposedly changing is the one responsible for taking the life of my father and Harold Cepero on July 22, 2012. They refuse to allow an investigation of these deaths.
How can anyone know what “the overwhelming majority” of Cubans agree on if we have no access to mass media on the island and no citizen under the age of 80 has ever voted in free and pluralistic elections? Cubans deserve and have asked for a plebiscite to change our law so that we can choose a legitimate government and hold it accountable.
Lifting the U.S. embargo is not the solution because it is not the cause of our lack of political and economic rights. I’m in favor of coherent communication, but engagement and dialogue should not be a reward for the military elite from Havana that imposes its monologic agenda on my people while fostering intolerance and hostility with absolute impunity.
Let’s not speak for the Cubans but support the right of Cubans to have a voice in Cuba.
Rosa María Payá, Miami
The writer is a member of the coordinating council of the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement.
The Oct. 21 editorial “Truth and freedom in Cuba” said that the Cuban government “continues to imprison Alan Gross on false charges.” Mr. Gross is a development aid subcontractor who was sentenced to 15 years for giving a satellite telephone and laptop computer to a handful of Cuban Jews seeking access to the Internet. I hope President Obama and his foreign policy advisers read the editorial carefully.
Mr. Gross is a U.S. hostage trapped in Cuba. He committed no internationally recognized crime and was held more than a year before charges were made against him. His “trial” was a sham, and his sentence is the same as the one imposed on Fidel Castro in 1953 for attacking an Army base where many died. Mr. Castro served less than two years. Mr. Gross has served more than four years, lost 100 pounds and vision in one eye and cannot walk. He was denied a compassionate furlough to visit his dying mother in the United States. Yet a Cuban spy convicted of infiltrating U.S. military bases was allowed to visit his sick mother in Cuba.
Mr. Gross’s emotional state is deteriorating. If Mr. Gross dies in prison, Raúl Castro, who now heads Cuba’s government, should be held personally responsible.
The Post is absolutely right when it says “fully lifting the embargo now would reward and ratify [Havana’s] intransigence.”
Frank Calzon, Washington
The writer is executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba.