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 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8533350.stm). Furthermore, Amnesty International reported, on 17 February 2010 (http://www.amnesty.org/library/info/AMR25/002/2010/en), 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 sincerelyMatthew HarrisLiberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Hendon