For many years the Organization of American States was a dictators' club, where the rule was "you don't criticize my human rights abuses and I won't criticize yours." And the secretaries-general of the organization went along with this.
Happily those days are over, and the current secretary-general, Luis Almagro, a former foreign minister of Uruguay, has been a stalwart defender of human rights. At the beginning of this year he delivered a superb speech exposing the dictatorship in Cuba, and it is available on YouTube (in Spanish). Almagro pulled no punches; he told the brutal truth about the "Cuban revolution." I've tried my hand at translating his speech, and with apologies to Sr. Almagro for any errors, here it is:
The dictatorship present in Cuba is probably the most perfect example of the mythology of misery and human rights violations. That the people of Cuba regain sovereignty is fundamental in a continent that should definitely not host dictatorships, crimes against humanity, or unsustainable social conditions for its people. The end of the dictatorship implies that the process of the revolution that introduced an unsuccessful system must give way to new opportunities for people to enjoy their rights, must give way so that people can be free, without total control of public and private life by a totalitarian and corrupt state.
The Cuban dictatorship has failed in access to rights and equity, its productive system has failed, its financial management has failed, its management of the economy has failed and the only way to melt away its social deficiencies is to push its people into exile; it is a system that is incapable of giving dignified and honest work to its people, that is unable to open its youth to enterprise, unable to generate a competitive productive system and unable to achieve solutions for the simplest financial issues such as the operation of a real exchange rate.
The Castro revolution has survived on the basis of its parasitism, first of the Soviet Union and second of Venezuela. It is an extreme parasitism because even after having, for example, killed the Bolivarian revolution they continue to feed off it for their benefit. It is the fundamental concept of the prostituted revolution, to live on what they take from others even in the most sordid way, even providing the most infamous services such as suppression, conducting repressive internal intelligence activities or torture.
It is essential that the dictatorship fall because that is the only way to end impunity in terms of corruption, violations of human rights and crimes against humanity on the island. It is the only way to demonstrate their lies and the facade they try to present to the world, such as the past fraudulent elections, or the illegitimate constitutional referendum, whose results will be illegitimate, without guarantees of political and civil rights.
It is necessary to end a revolution that cost the lives of tens of thousands of people shot. Executed for having a different political opinion. The Castro revolution in its six decades has never allowed Cuban men and women to think, choose, and decide freely. The most basic individual freedom is nonexistent on the island.
It is a system that maintains its internal repression even against the most peaceful and pacifist movements of all, the Ladies in White; through punishment and imprisonment of opponents, from political intimidation through threats and torture. It is a regime that does not admit to being judged and does not admit the least scrutiny by its own people, because to silence dissident voices is the way to sustain the impunity of dictators. Dictatorships contaminate, they contaminate democratic political systems with authoritarian practices in politicians, political parties, pressure groups and unions. They pollute with corruption, pushing the spurious financial logic of campaigns and parties to an extreme. It was the first dictatorship in the continent that involved itself in drug trafficking and organized crime—you will remember the execution of General Ochoa, [whether he is] a martyr of the revolution or a champion of Castro's drug trafficking.
The legacy of this dictatorship is disastrous. It leaves us thousands of drowned and disappeared in the sea, the Marielitos, and also leaves us several failed revolutionary attempts in all of Latin America with a very high cost of deaths, human rights violations, and suffering of the people.
Its great legacy is people dying in the sea. Its legacy is the executions, the victims of torture, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detentions in the American continent, the distribution of misery, the absolute lack of freedoms and fundamental guarantees.
We don’t want any of this. We don’t wish any of it on the Cuban people. We wish that they can finally be a democracy, that every Cuban has the possibility of dignified work, that every Cuban can enjoy his fundamental rights no matter what he thinks politically, that every Cuban can hope and decide for a better life without the interference of a totalitarian state in his way.
The Cuban people lived the hope of change. Their revolution, the comandantes did not do it, all Cubans did, it was done by everyone and not just a few.
The true sovereign, the Cuban people, never chose that destiny. The true sovereign, the people who seek to survive day by day with the little they receive, who preserve their dignity despite so many years of deception and deprivation of their civil and political rights, did not choose to replace one dictatorship with another.
That sovereign deserves to recover and never lose again its right to vote and to be elected, to express themselves freely and without fear of repression, to be truly free, to make their individual revolution every day without resigning themselves to what is provided to them. They do not deserve to continue subordinating their future to the decision of the privileged, who stopped a long time ago fighting for the interests of their people.
The Cuban people, the sovereign, deserve the opportunity to choose their destiny, to exercise their right to democracy. That is too great to continue being subjugated to oppression.