Fighting for Cuba with Guillermo Fariñas Hernández

Cuban Psychologist and journalist, Guillermo Fariñas Hernández, who has endured 23 hunger strikes and 11 years in prison for his defiance of the Cuban regime, addresses the 10th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks.

On lack of democracy in Cuba:

“Please, don’t be deceived by the supposed changes in my country. In Cuba, people are not free to choose their President.”

“Many people say that the devil is in Venezuela but his head is in Cuba.”

On being a Cuban dissident:

“Many prisoners were able to leave because of our hunger strikes.”

“My repressors saw that each detention was only strengthening my resolve, so they set people to attack me and discourage me.”

“I am encouraging Cubans to fight… We have hundreds of political prisoners [in Cuba], more than 118.”

Full Remarks in Spanish. See below for English.

Señores y señoras que presiden la Cumbre de Ginebra sobre los Derechos Humanos y la Democracia del  2018.

Luchadores por la Democracia y los Derechos Humanos de cualquier parte del mundo.

Organizaciones No Gubernamentales aquí presentes.

Personalidades invitadas a la Cumbre.

Asistentes a la Cumbre.

Especiales agradecimientos a mis patrocinadores que me trajeron aquí de la United Nations Watch.

¿Por qué me hice un anticastrista consecuente con mis ideales, donde he estado y estoy dispuesto hasta a entregar mi vida y a defender la Democracia Representativa, y que acierto al denunciar cada día la crueldad del sistema político al que enfrento?. Pregunta que viene dada por mi propio origen político-social, porque yo soy hijo de dos guerreros contra la tirania de Fulgencio Batista, mi padre Guillermo Fariñas Key, ya fallecido, y mi madre Alicia Hernández Cabeza. Ambos combatieron a la misma tiranía que combatió Fidel Castro y fueron sus seguidores en el Movimiento 26 de Julio (M-26-7). Mis padres se montaron en en “El Carro de la Revolución” y lucharon en distintos frentes a favor del Castrismo. Mi progenitor incluso luchó en El Congo Belga con el Che Guevara, en 1965, y mi madre fue enfermera internacionalista en Argelia, en 1973, o sea, quien les habla hoy aquí, es «El Hombre Nuevo», solo que demócrata y no un autócrata.

Fui un «Castrista Ingenuo y Convencido», hasta el mes abril de 1980, cuando como militar y pre-cadete me movilizaron para La Habana a estabilizar el país, porque unos 3 millones cubanos querían huir del infierno que es mi Patria, los Sucesos de la Embajada del Perú, que derivaron en 130. 000 compatriotas que se largaron por el puerto del Mariel. Yo custodié una repleta Embajada del Perú y allí repartí alimentos a los asilados, pero también en mi visión provinciana me pregunté con terror a ser delatado: ¿Qué está pasando en Cuba, que tantas personas se quieren ir a un país ajeno y desconocido? Si les soy sincero; durante meses y meses, no era capaz de hacerme tal cuestionamiento, pues me aterrorizaba la obvia respuesta, pero me moría de miedo de que alguno de mis compañeros militares adivinara mis pensamientos. Esa sin dudas fue mi primera disidencia, muy interna y secreta, les recuerdo que solo tenía 18 años de edad.

Mi segunda disidencia, que también fue secreta, y se desarrolló en una guerra, fue en las selvas y sabanas de Angola. Allí observé como las aldeas de campesinos angoleños eran arrasadas por la tropas cubanas antiguerrilleras del «Frente Olivo». Allí miré la muerte ocasionada a mis semejantes como algo necesario, allí ví como los hombres eran los victimarios de sus semejantes y conviví con el odio más feroz que he visto en mi vida. Aunque mi función en Angola no consistió en matar personas, y si en volar puentes, fui parte de la barbarie que llevó el Comunismo esos lugares y cada vez que converso con algún angolano de los que estudian en mi país, les pido disculpas por lo que allí hicimos los cubanos. Debo dejar bien sentado que, los cubanos que se atrevieron a desacatar órdenes en Ángola por considerarlas inhumanas, fueron fusilados sumarísimamente y después a sus familiares se les aseguró… que habían caído en combate.

Pero mi tercera disidencia me convirtió en el anticomunista que soy, ésta paradógicamente transcurrió en una academia militar de la ciudad rusa de Tambov y conviví con los habitantes de esa región. Donde miré de cerca las crueldades del Comunismo. Pero mi cosmovisión cambió por el trato del Comunismo a los habitantes de Tambov, desde que se rebelaron contra el hambre en 1921 y se convirtieron en los legendarios guerrilleros anticomunistas llamados «Los Lobos de Tambov», escuche de mujeres violadas, pozos envenenados y familias enteras enviadas a los GULAP.

Un accidente no me permitió graduarme como oficial del ejército castrista, y fui evacuado a Cuba desde la Unión Soviética, ya en mi Patria conversé con mis padres sobre el cambio político producido en mi, y me sorpredí al saber que mi progénitor también estaba desilusionado políticamente, él me pidió que me titulara en algo, así estudié una Licenciatura en Psicología, en la Universidad Central «Marta Abreu» de Las Villas. Universidad donde estuve a punto de ser expulsado en 3 ocasiones. Si no me sacaron de la universidad fue porque antes me habían presentado como un condecorado combatiente internacionalista en Angola y de seguro Dios también puso su mano.

Durante mis 29 años de enfrentamiento frontal al totalitarismo comunista en Cuba, soy más conocido mediáticamente por mis 25 huelgas de hambre, un Método de Lucha No Violenta, de los 198 métodos descriptos por Gene Sharp.

En unas huelgas de hambre no he conseguido las demandas exigidas y en otras si he logrado las exigencias, las más conocida de las victorias es el ayuno de alimentos del año 2010, donde fueron sacados de las cárceles 116 prisioneros políticos, donde la mayoría de ellos decidió salir del país. Ese triunfo me hizo merecedor del Premio «Andrei Sajarov» del Parlamento Europeo a la Libertad de Pensamiento, galardón que no lo veo como personal, sino como reconocimiento a la perenne rebeldía de los cubanos y como un compromiso mio por lo simbólico del galardón.

Han usado distintos métodos represivos contra mi en éstos casi 30 años de desafiar a su poder totalitario, en un principio intentaron que me convirtiera en un despreciable delator de mis hermanos de ideas democráticas, cuando se percataron que eso no era posible, entonces usaron la violencia física y así lograr que me exiliara, al ver que no saldría de mi tierra, optaron por encarcelarme y lo hicieron en 3 ocasiones, mis represores vieron que cada condena me fortalecía, así decidieron desanimarme en mi lucha prodemocrática, al manipular a antiguos compañeros de rutas, para que sacasen contra mi persona sus miserias humanas y yo me desanimase. En el momento actual, la represión contra mi persona se centra en intentar desprestigiarme ante la opinión pública nacional e internacional, para ello han invadido espuriamente las redes sociales, cuyo objetivo es que mi lucha y que lo realizado por los cubanos anticastristas como yo no trasienda.

Por favor; no se dejen engañar con las especulaciones actuales sobre posibles cambios en mí país. En mi Patria existe una Junta Militar que pretende mantenerse tras El Nuevo Presidente de Turno, ese es desde ya el verdadero Poder. En Cuba los ciudadanos no son libres de elegir directamente a su Presidente y mucho menos de tener posibilidad de escoger entre varias opciones políticas. Desde esta tribuna les pido solidaridad para con el pueblo cubano, pues las denuncias y presiones internacionales son las que harán cambiar la cosas allí, junto con nuestra lucha por lograr la Libertad y la Democracia Representativa.

A aquellos funcionarios del Sistema de Naciones Unidas les hago saber que, quienes desgobiernan en mi Patria son personas con una Metalidad Autocrática al negociar. En mi experiencia El Comunismo no busca nunca el bienestar de sus ciudadanos, solo le interesa mantener el control social y para ello necesitan la complicidad y contaminar a otros países. Por eso, es que debemos ver la lucha por la Democracia Representativa de modo internacional y no solo nacional, es por eso que pido aquí que piensen en Cuba y se solidaricen con Venezuela. El Apostol Cubano, José Martí y Pérez escribió: «Patria es Humanidad».

Quisiera reconocer aquí la postura a favor de la Democracia Representativa del señor Luis Almagro, Secretario General de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), quien ha sido capaz de poner por encima de sus ideas de Izquierda Política la defensa de los cánones democráticos. Postura con la que está evitando la guerra desvastadora en toda América Latina

Muchos amigos demócratas me preguntan: ¿Cómo posees fuerza, de dónde sacas coraje y cuál es tu inspiración para continuar luchando a pesar de las adversidades? Mi respuesta siempre ha salido de mi amor a Cuba y a la Democracia en el mundo, yo veo mi lucha como una enorme responsabilidad ante El Altar de Servir a la Patria y a la Humanidad, y estas obligaciones solo se delegan con la muerte. El deber perpetuo que me he autoimpuesto de ver a Cuba Libre y Democrática, es lo que día a día me inspira.

Muchas Gracias.

Full Remarks in English.

Ladies and gentlemen presiding over the 2018 Geneva Summit on Human Rights and Democracy; fighters for democracy and human rights from anywhere in the world; non-governmental organizations present here; dear guests invited to the Summit; Summit attendees. 

Special thanks to my sponsors – United Nations Watch – who brought me here. 

Why did I become a Castroist dissident? Why have I been and still am willing to even give my life to defend representative democracy, and why am I right to denounce every single day the cruelty of the political system I face? Questions that are provided by my own political-social origin, because I am the son of two warriors against the tyranny of Fulgencio Batista – my late father Guillermo Fariñas Key and my mother Alicia Hernández Cabeza. Both fought the same tyranny that Fidel Castro fought and were his followers in the 26th of July Movement (“Movimiento 26 de Julio”). My parents “went on board the revolution train” and fought on different fronts in favor of Castroism. My father even fought in the Belgian Congo with Che Guevara in 1965, and my mother was an internationalist nurse in Algeria in 1973. That is, the person who speaks to you here today is “The New Man,” who is only a democrat and not an autocrat.   

I was a naive and convinced Castroist until April 1980, when as a soldier and a trainee officer, I was mobilized to Havana to stabilize the country, because some 3 million Cubans wanted to flee from the hell that is my homeland following the events of the Embassy of Peru, which resulted in 130,000 compatriots fleeing through the port of Mariel. I guarded the Embassy of Peru, which was full of people, and I distributed food to the refugees, but also I asked myself, based on my limited understanding and fearful of being betrayed: “What is happening in Cuba that has caused so many people to want to flee to a foreign and unknown country?” If I’m being honest, for months and months, I was not able to ask myself such a question, because I was terrified of the obvious answer. However, I was dying of fear that one of my fellow soldiers would guess my thoughts. That, undoubtedly, was my first dissidence, very internal and secret. I remind you that I was only 18 years old at the time. 

My second dissidence, which was also secret, and developed into a war, took place in the jungles and savannahs of Angola. There I observed how the villages of Angolan peasants were devastated by the Cuban anti-guerrilla troops of the “Frente Olivo.” There I saw the death caused to my fellow men as something necessary. There I saw how men were the victimizers of their fellow men and I lived with the fiercest hatred in my life for what I have seen. 

Although my role in Angola did not consist of killing people but instead blowing up bridges, I was part of the barbarism that communism brought to those places. Every time I talk to an Angolan student in my country, I apologize for what we, the Cubans, did there. I must make it clear that the Cubans who dared to disobey orders in Angola, considering them inhumane, were shot on the spot, and later their relatives were assured… that they had fallen in combat.  

But my third dissidence turned me into the anti-communist that I am. This paradoxically took place in a military academy in the Russian city of Tambov, where I lived with the inhabitants of that region. I was able to observe closely the cruelties of communism. However, my worldview changed because of communism’s treatment of the inhabitants of Tambov, since they rebelled against hunger in 1921 and became the legendary anti-communist guerrillas called “The Wolves of Tambov.” I heard of raped women, poisoned wells and entire families sent to the Gulags. 

An accident prevented me from graduating as an officer in Castro’s army and I was evacuated to Cuba from the Soviet Union. Back in my homeland, I talked with my parents about the political change that had occurred in me, and I was surprised to realize that my father was also politically disillusioned. He asked me to pursue my studies, so I undertook a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the Central University “Marta Abreu” of Las Villas. I was almost expelled from that university three times. The reason why I was not expelled from there was that they had previously presented me as a decorated internationalist fighter in Angola and surely God also put his hand.  

During my 29 years of conflict with communist totalitarianism in Cuba, I am best known in the media for my 25 hunger strikes, a method of nonviolent struggle, which is one of the 198 methods described by Gene Sharp.  

In some hunger strikes, I did not have my demands fulfilled, however in others I have been successful. The best known of the victories is the food fast of 2010, where 116 political prisoners were released from prison, of which the majority decided to leave the country. That triumph made me worthy of the Andrei Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament for Freedom of Thought, an award that I do not see as personal, but as recognition of the perennial rebellion of Cubans and as a commitment of mine to the symbolic nature of the award.  

They have used different repressive methods against me in almost 30 years of challenging their totalitarian power: At first, they tried to turn me into a despicable informer against my brothers who hold democratic ideas. When they realized that this was not possible, they used physical violence and eventually got me exiled. Realizing that I would not leave my land, they went ahead and imprisoned me on three separate occasions. My opponents realized that each conviction strengthened me, so they decided to discourage me in my pro-democracy struggle by manipulating former comrades of mine so that they would bring out their worst instincts against me and I would lose my courage. At the present moment, the fight against me is focused on trying to discredit me before national and international public opinion and for this, they have spuriously invaded social networks, disenfranchising my fight and that of anti-Castro Cubans like myself.  

Please; don’t be fooled by current speculation about possible changes in my country. In my country, there is a military junta that intends to stay behind the new president who already holds the actual power. In Cuba, citizens are not free to directly elect their president, much less have the possibility to choose between various political options. From this platform, I ask for solidarity with the Cuban people, since international condemnations and pressure will make things change there together with our struggle to achieve freedom and representative democracy.     

I wish to inform officials of the United Nations system that those who misgovern my country are people with an autocratic mentality when negotiating. In my experience, communism never seeks the welfare of its citizens. It is only interested in maintaining social control and for this, they need to achieve complicity and also contaminate other countries. That is why we must see the struggle for representative democracy internationally and not only nationally. That is why I ask here that you think of Cuba and stand in solidarity with Venezuela. The Cuban Apostle, José Martí y Pérez wrote: “Homeland is humanity.”  

I would like to recognize here the position in favor of representative democracy of Mr. Luis Almagro, Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), who has been able to put the defense of democratic canons above his ideas of the political left, a position with which he is avoiding the devastating war in all of Latin America. 

Many democrat friends ask me: How do you still have strength, where do you get courage, and what is your inspiration to continue fighting despite adversity? My response has always come from my love for Cuba and for democracy in the world. I see my struggle as an enormous responsibility before the altar of serving the homeland and humanity, and these obligations are only delegated with death. The perpetual duty that I have imposed on myself to see Cuba free and democratic is what inspires me every day.  

Thank you so much.

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