11 February 2007

Freedom and Fariñas

A visitor commented the other day that freedom was a subjective term.

Freedom is a term, a word, that can have many meanings to those that have it and have the luxury of writing that middle school social studies essay “What Freedom Means to Me” by Lilly Whitebottom.

Freedom becomes a real concrete concept and an objective, measurable absolute once it is taken from you. Then, it becomes something to fight and die for.

Someone who can teach us about the longing and the struggle for FREDOM is Guillermo Fariñas. Fariñas is getting the recognition he deserves here in the US where hopefully he will become a household name like Mandela.

Fariñas fights to eliminate the apartheid that exists in modern day Cuba. He fights to eradicate the inequalities that exist in the supposed “egalitarian” society of the Castros.

Today in the Sun Sentinel, Doreen Hemlock, profiles Fariñas and his non violent struggle for freedom, justice and equality for all Cubans.

Dissident: `Down with corruption, I'm on hunger strike'
Fariñas uses nonviolence in bid to force change in Cuba

A psychologist by training, Fariñas has repeatedly stopped eating and drinking to express his dissent with Cuba's communist government and to appeal for democracy. The peaceful protests spark solidarity within the country and worldwide, he said.

Fariñas said he launched his most recent strike on Jan. 31, 2006, after the government denied Cubans access to the one Internet café in Santa Clara. Fellow independent journalists had filed an e-mail reportfrom the café, claiming authorities depleted the local blood bank to ship blood to Pakistan with Cuban medical teams. Without the café, Fariñas and his colleagues can only phone and fax reports abroad, delaying publication.

Why does he go on hunger strikes?:

"The only way I find to fight is the hunger strike because it earns admiration both from those like me who resist and others who repress," said Fariñas. "And it moves international public opinion because it's an extreme way to press for rights."

The Toll:

During the seven-month hunger strike that ended Aug. 31, Fariñas said he lost 66 pounds. One of his lungs filled with blood, he said, and doctors had to break three ribs and operate to drain it. He was in a coma for five days.

Now, he is recuperating, but remains thin and weak. With continued
physical therapy, he hopes to walk this month.

The Goal:

… he vows not to give in, just as blacks in the United States including Martin Luther King did not waver in their struggle for civil rights.

"I want pluralism in Cuba," Fariñas said, "not only Internet access."


You can express moral support and to Fariñas and all Cuban dissidents by participating in the Friday Morning Fast for Political prisoners started by Alfredo at El Cafe Cubano.

The dissidents know about the fast and are very appreciative.

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come, he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

(The bright line)
(It's all ready mate)
(It's the right time)

Early morning,
April 4Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love


Anonymous said...

Yes, good comments on freedom. Certainly, everyone should have freedom of expression and NO ONE should be put in jail for their thoughts (point taken).

However, there are more nebulous perspectives to this debate - is freedom subjective?

what about poverty rates? are those child in dire poverty in DC or other parts of USA, totally free? are they as free as you or I? middle class professionals. In terms of freedom of expression - yes, but ...

look at a recent press reports (based on US census statistics).

us has the highest poverty rate in industrialized world, and the highest percentage without health insurance (are those people free? free to express, yes, but what good is that if you are worrying every day about survival - like most of cubans - who also don't have freedom of expression).

Linked is a census document (the most objective standard one can get) detailing how many in our own country are much more "free" than others, epsecially in terms of health care.


Another counterpoint: Miami hardliners often strees those couragous cubans willing to risk their lives to escape to US via raft. This is true, however, what they neglect to stress is that there are many more Mexicans and other nationalites who also risk their lives to come to US?

So, is it the lack of freedoms in Mexico that pushes them to risk their lives to cross the border? no, its economic opportunity. .
Are those mexicans who risk their lives "freedom fighters" just like you call the cubans who come on the rafts? anyway, I stray from my original point.

yesm, freedom can be objective (from ther point of view) you mention.. freedom of expression, but there are other types of freedom.

Freedom to live in safe and secure environment for example. (yet I don't have this freedom, I am scared to go to many areas in the US).

Freedom to associate with whom I want. Yet, the travel restrictions dont' give me this right.

of course they don't have this right in cuba, but does that mean my own country has the right to take the right to assoicate freely away from me.

Anonymous said...

the above person is a bit confused but interesting comments.

I take freedom from human rights watch, which has recommednations for both cuban and USA; (i like the recommendations to th USA , since most of the time in Miami we only here of our "demands" for the cuban government (negotiation, i always thought goes both ways).

To the Cuban Government

The Cuban government should abolish restrictions on travel that violate the right of any individual to leave his or her country and to return to it. In particular, the government should reform its criminal code to eliminate the crimes of illegal exit and illegal entry (articles 216 and 217) for Cuban nationals.

The government should also end all policies and regulations that serve to separate families. In particular, the government should abolish the restriction, in place since 1999, barring those who have left without permission or overstayed their travel authorizations from returning to Cuba for five years.

The government should end the practice of obliging those traveling abroad to leave their children behind in Cuba.
The government should reform the Public Health Ministry’s “Resolution 54,” which prevents doctors and other health care professionals from leaving the island for three to five years from the time that they apply for permission to leave.

Any new regulation should provide for less coercive ways to encourage doctors to practice medicine in Cuba before emigrating, such as creating economic incentives or establishing a residency requirement for medical students to obtain their degrees.

Exceptions should be considered, moreover, for doctors and other health care professionals seeking reunification with children abroad.

Any regulations limiting travel should be made public. Although many Cubans we interviewed had been told that “Resolution 54” prevented their leaving, none had ever seen a copy of it.
In cases of Cuban children whose parents live outside the country, the only factor determining whether or not the children may leave should be the best interests of the child.

Under no circumstances should a child be kept in Cuba as punishment for the actions of one or more of his or her parents.

To the U.S. Government

The U.S. government should terminate the economic embargo on Cuba.

The embargo is not a calibrated policy intended to produce specific reforms, but a sledgehammer approach aimed at nothing short of overthrowing the government. While failing at its central objective, the embargo's indiscriminate nature has hurt the population as a whole, and provided the government with a justification for its repressive policies.

Until this step is taken, the U.S. government should eliminate restrictions on travel that undermine family unity and the right of individuals to return to their country of origin.

In particular, the U.S. government should eliminate restrictions on travel to Cuba by Cubans—including Cuban Americans who were born in Cuba or have relatives on the island.

Until the travel restrictions are eliminated, the U.S. government should provide humanitarian exceptions that would allow individuals to obtain permission to visit relatives in Cuba who are facing grave medical or other emergency conditions.

El Gusano said...


Awesome and articulate points by everyone.(except me)
This is what I wish for Cubans.
It may sound childish and simplistic but really that’s my only wish.


I don’t mean this as an insult.

But, I think your view of freedom is materialistic in the sense that you equate people’s freedom with their economic opportunity. Using this world view, you will invariably measure freedom and equality by possessions rather than by potential which is the downfall of Marxism and Capitalism. Freedom is not having the same as everybody else.
Which requires a government to ensure it and police it and governments tend to do two things well: kill and take away freedom.

Luckily we’ve gotten away from that in western societies.(though I gather you feel the US should do more)

I’m talking more about freedom to pursue happiness. Rights that all humans are born with that are not bestowed upon them by their rulers.

Should society strive to create an environment where there’s political opportunity for everyone?: Absolutely.

It’s what I do everyday.

You know I really don’t understand this whole “hardline” label. but, as to Miami “hardliners” and Mexicans. There are two sides to that coin. I will not speak ill of other latins and I’ll leave it at that. I will say that it’s difficult for Cuban Americans to side with people speaking ill of the US and wearing Che shirts.

I will concede your last two points 


Agreed very interesting and articultate comments.

They definitely got me thinking about economic opportunity vs. freedom

You know if the Cuban government would just give a few inches great things would happen in US-Cuba relations. The American people want to embrace Cuba and see Cubans have the same opportunities they have. I really believe this.

I am afraid that is exactly what the Cuban regime doesn’t want, thus the Miami reaction.

If the Cuban regime would respect human rights, there would be no US “embargo”. And you would not have to listen to us Cuban Americans drone on and on and on….