To the Editors:
We are women and men of the democratic left, united by our commitment to human rights, democratic government, and social justice, in our own nations and around the world. In solidarity with the people of Cuba, we condemn the Cuban state’s current repression of independent thinkers and writers, human rights activists and democrats. For “crimes” such as the authorship of essays critical of the government and meeting with delegations of foreign political leaders, some eighty nonviolent political dissidents have been arrested, summarily tried in a closed court, without adequate notice or counsel, convicted, and given cruel, harsh sentences of decades of imprisonment. These are violations of the most elementary norms of due process of law, reminiscent of the Moscow trials of the Soviet Union under the rule of Stalin.
The democratic left worldwide has opposed the US embargo on Cuba as counterproductive, more harmful to the interests of the Cuban people than helpful to political democratization. The Cuban state’s current repression of political dissidents amounts to collaboration with the most reactionary elements of the US administration in their efforts to maintain sanctions and to institute even more punitive measures against Cuba.
The only conclusion that we can draw from this brute repression is that the Cu-ban government does not trust the Cuban people to distinguish truth from falsehood, fact from disinformation. A government of the left must have the support of the people: it must guarantee human rights and champion the widest possible democracy, including the right to dissent, as well as promote social justice. By its actions, the Cuban state declares that it is not a government of the left, despite its claims of social progress in education and health care, but just one more dictatorship, concerned with maintaining its monopoly of power above all else.
Eric Alterman, Stanley Aronowitz, Marshall Berman, Paul Berman, Mitchell Cohen, Bogdan Denitch, Mel Dubofsky, Gertrude Ezorsky, David Garrow, Peter Gay, Todd Gitlin, Maurice Isserman, Martin Jay, Ira Katznelson, Michael Kazin, Mark Crispin Miller, Erika Munk, Katha Pollitt, Samantha Power, Michael Walzer, Ellen Willis, Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, and more than 150 others
December 4, 2003