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Freedom for Cuban political prisoners

Argentinian anti-imperialists meet with the Cuban ambassador

A translation of a recent press release from the FIT-U about the April 4, 2024 meeting between leaders of the FIT-U and the Cuban Ambassador to Argentina. From an anti-imperialist standpoint, the FIT-U called for the freedom of prisoners still being held in the aftermath of massive popular political protests in July 2021. The release has been slightly edited, with links and footnotes, for readability.

In Argentina, deputies and leaders of the Frente de Izquierda y de Trabajadores – Unidad/Workers and Left Front – Unity (FIT-U) met on Wednesday, April 3, with the Cuban ambassador to Argentina, Pedro Prada, and other officials from the Cuban Embassy. This included the national deputies Myriam Bregman (from the Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas/Socialist Workers’ Party [PTS]), Romina del Pla (from the Partido Obrero/Workers’ Party [PO]) and Christian Castillo (PTS) participated on behalf of the FIT-U; the legislator for the Buenos Aires (CABA) Celeste Fierro (from the Movimiento Socialista de los Trabajadores/Movement of Socialist Workers’ [MST]); the elected deputies Juan Carlos Giordano, Mercedes de Mendieta and Pablo Almeida (from the Izquierda Socialista/Socialist Left [IS]), Pablo Heller and Luis Brunetto (PO) and Guillermo Pacagnini (MST).

During the meeting, the FIT-U delegation called for the freedom of hundreds of Cuban workers, youth, professionals, and intellectuals convicted for participating in the popular protests of July 11, 2021 and for the right to protest on the island. The ambassador himself acknowledged that there are 564 accused protesters currently being punished, of which 297 are being deprived of their liberty, with sentences of up to several years in prison.

The FIT-U delegation asked the ambassador for a complete list of the names of the prisoners, the crimes for which they were convicted, and the sentences handed down. The delegation also conveyed their concern about the detention conditions reported by relatives of the prisoners. They highlighted the cases of Brenda Díaz, a trans prisoner, who is serving her sentence in a men’s prison and who is identified by her birth name. The delegation also raised the situation of the renowned critical leftist historian Alina López (detained soon after July 2021), who has been told that if she leaves the country she would not be allowed to return, among others.

Ambassador Prada promised to transmit to the Cuban government the concerns expressed by the FIT-U delegation and to provide information about the prisoners, taking account of the issues raised  by the FIT-U delegation.

The FIT-U delegation also raised the possibility of traveling to the island to make contact with families of the prisoners and to visit the detention centers where the sentences are being served, as well as to hold meetings in this regard with the Cuban authorities. This was, in principle, welcomed positively by the ambassador.

The delegation of the FIT-U, the only political bloc in the country that refuses to meet with Marc Stanley and the representatives of Yankee imperialism, reiterated its repudiation of the United State blockade suffered by Cuba and the hypocrisy with which the U.S. claims to stand for  human rights while, among other horrors, supporting and supplying weapons to the Zionist regime to crush the Palestinian people through genocidal methods.

However, the representatives of the FIT-U stated that imperialist aggression cannot be an excuse to curtail the legitimate rights of the Cuban working class to protest. The demonstrations, which occurred during the COVID period, encompassed broad layers of the population and reflected—as the Cuban government itself admitted—popular unrest originating from very severe hardships. Of course, we cannot lose sight of the effects of the U.S. blockade at any time. At the same time, we cannot ignore the consequences derived from the austerity measures adopted by the Cuban government within the framework of the Decree of “monetary regulation”1 from the end of 2020. In this context, the FIT-U representatives maintained that the protests of July 11 cannot be classified as a conspiracy orchestrated by imperialism, as the Cuban government maintains, despite the attempts to use it by some on the right.

Our demand for the freedom of the July 11 prisoners is from the standpoint of our  opposition to Yankee imperialism (and its allies), and solidarity with the suffering Cuban people, workers, and its youth, therefore, from an anti-imperialist and socialist perspective. Those of us who make up the FIT-U defend the right to protest within the framework of the defense of the full freedom of political and union organization of Cuban workers.

Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores Unidad
Buenos Aires, 4/4/2024

Featured image credit: RawPixel; modified by Tempest.

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Frente de Izquierda y de Trabajadores-Unidad/Workers and Left Front - Unity (FIT-U) is an Argentinian political coalition and electoral front of revolutionary socialist parties.