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Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Action on Cuba's human rights record

Following the tragic death on hunger strike of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, I have requested a meeting with the Cuban embassy, to discuss Cuba's appalling human rights record. Something can and must be done to improve the fate of the dissidents being harrassed by the Castro regime, including the 200 prisoners of conscience. The Castro regime's human rights abuses are just as disgusting as any that might be carried out by any fascist regime. My email follows below:
For the attention of: Counsellor (Political Affairs) Mr.Luís Jesús Marrón Oroza

I just telephoned the Cuban Embassy and pressed the button to be put through to your office. It put me through to a mailbox that said it was full. I telephoned again and pressed the button to be put through to the main switchboard. That too took me through to a mailbox that said it was full, so I am writing to the embassy’s general email address, in the hope that somebody is ‘in’ today. Perhaps today is some sort of national holiday in Cuba.

If so, then it is not merited, for this is a day of shame for Cuba, owing to the death on hunger strike of the Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo ( Furthermore, Amnesty International reported, on 17 February 2010 (, that: “At least six members of a coalition of Cuban civil society organizations have been detained to prevent them from taking part in events to mark the anniversary of the coalition's foundation. Two are still in detention.”

I am emailing to make the following points: 
1.      The detention of political prisoners is a stain on Cuba’s good name – I don’t care how marvellous your country’s health service and literacy rate might be, if your country’s government is locking people up for their political views;  
2.      I wish to be informed of what has happened to the people detained according to the Amnesty report – specifically, could you please inform me whether or not the two people referred to by Amnesty as “still in detention” have been released, or are due to be released? 
3.      I would like to meet someone from the Embassy’s Political Affairs department to discuss the 200 political prisoners who are said (by a Cuban pressure group called the Human Rights Commission) to remain locked up in Cuba, and the harassment of dissidents in your country.  
You may ask why your country’s internal affairs are any of my business. As my grandparents came to Britain as refugees from Nazi oppression, I care deeply about human rights abuses anywhere in the world, so I believe that this is the business of external critics of Cuba like myself. Were Britain ever to start locking up “prisoners of conscience”, I would expect their release to be campaigned for by people overseas, including Cuban Parliamentary candidates – were Cuba ever to have free and fair Parliamentary elections. Indeed, I look forward to the day when opposition parties can operate in Cuba with such freedom that there will be Cuban people equivalent to myself, free to campaign to for election and able to write to foreign embassies about matters of legitimate concern.

I look forward to receiving a response to my email (including my request for a meeting) soon.

Yours sincerely

Matthew Harris

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Hendon



  1. Amen to that! Thanks from the Cuban community for your interest in doing something positive and good for the poor and oppressed.

  2. Thank you very much for your supportive comments. Do you live in Hendon yourself? Either way, your comments are very welcome.

  3. Cuba's human rights record? Mr Harris, I believe your time would be better spend questioning UK and USA human rights record.

    From what you have written above just hightlights you dont have all the facts and an understand of cuba history or the political landscape in Cuba.

    It easy to point the finger, but don't lecture the cuban Gov, the Cuban people or myself (Cuban) on Human rights when the UK Gov Immigration removal centres detente children, mothers and fathers.

    UK support of USA kidnapping of UK citizens around the world and sending them to Guantánamo Bay.

    What about the human rights of iraqi, afghani and libyan citizens. Do you writen and telephone campaign for these people. Have you connected the saudi arabia embassy about the same? If so, where the blog about that?

    You talk like the UK and yourself created democracy. Cuban Parliamentary system is more democratic than the UK or USA.

    You need more political education,read Politics by Aristotle and the works from karl marx. You dont need to agree with them but understand.

  4. Thank you, Sacha.

    I do sometimes question the UK's own record on human rights:

    I addressed the detention of child asylum seekers here:

    I care about the human rights of all people, and, on a particular day in 2010, chose to take action on particular problem, as I cannot deal with all problems simultaneously; the problem concerned was one involving Cuban human rights.

    I gave particular attention to Saudi Arabia here:

    I should indeed read much more political philosophy, as should we all, so thanks for suggesting that. I recommend John Stuart Mill and Isaiah Berlin, in addition to the authors that you have recommended.

    You write that Cuba's Parliamentary system is more democratic than the UK's. Cuba is a one-party state; Reporters Without Borders has called the country's press freedom situation "disastrous" - I totally refute your assertion that Cuba is "democratic".

    This is the reality: