Dissidents in Cuba
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May 2009
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Cuban Dissidents Shut Out of Conference on Cuban Revolution

Cuban Dissidents Shut Out of Conference on Cuban Revolution
By Kathy Xu
Epoch Times staff May 13, 2009

Despite the rain, a crowd of Cuban dissidents showed up to protest a
conference marking the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Cuban Revolution at
Queen's University in Kingston on Saturday.

Around 200 academics, business representatives, and Cuban government
officials attended "The Measure of a Revolution: Cuba, 1959-2009," a
three-day conference covering a variety of social and economic topics.

Surprised by the presence of the demonstrators on the last day of the
conference, some attendees expressed annoyance even though they agreed
that Cuban dissidents had the right to protest.

One lady suggested that the protesters could better get their message
across by attending the conference. However, a Cuban protestor who tried
to register was denied admission by the organizers.

The dissidents were mainly protesting against the presence of Ricardo
Alarcón, president of the National Assembly of Cuba, who they see as the
chief propagandist for the Cuban regime. Alarcón is an expert on North
American issues and has served twice as permanent representative for the
UN and later as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

While seeing the U.S. as the overpowering bully in the Cuba – U.S.
relationship, the conference attendees showed little interest in
engaging Cuban dissidents outside the conference hall. Such remarks as
"stupid" and "why don't you go to school" were heard from the attendees
when approached by the protesters.

However, hooting from the sidewalk across the street, the protesters
were not to be ignored by the scholars and businessmen in attendance.
Nelson Taylor Sol of the Cuban Canadian Foundation was critical that
dissidents were excluded from the conference.

While the regime is celebrating the legacy of the revolution, he said,
the revolution has "made every Cuban a dissident." Cubans have been
fleeing their country since 1959.

The few conference attendees who agreed to comment shied away from the
issues of human rights violations and political repression in Cuba. They
directed most of their criticisms toward America's Cuba policies.

They regard U.S. economic sanctions as the main obstacle to Cuba's
economic development rather than the failure of Cuba's own economic
model. While Cuba is free to trade with most other nations in the world,
by June 2009 the U.S. will be the only country that does not have a
formal diplomatic relationship with Cuba.

Mr. Sol, however, said Cuba's economy has been completely bankrupted and
most Cubans are living in poverty, a vast departure from the prosperous
nation in the pre-revolutionary period.

Dave Thomas of the Cuban-Canadian Friendship Association, who attended
the conference, said 800,000 Canadians visited Cuba last year and he is
glad that Canada has had long and friendly relations with the country.

But as Mr. Sol sees it, the money Canadians are pumping into the country
prolongs the dictatorship and in turn the suffering of the Cuban people.
He said that with many of the corporations that have businesses in Cuba,
the workers are only paid a fraction of what the government actually
receives from these foreign companies.

In a country where no election has been held since the 1959 revolution,
to Cubans the Cuban Communist Party is still a dictatorship with no
legitimacy, Mr. Sol said.

Epoch Times – Cuban Dissidents Shut Out of Conference on Cuban
Revolution (14 May 2009)


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