Advocates of human rights in Cuba launch campaign to inform Canadians, Western Europeans on realities of repression and oppression against the Cuban people

  • Assembly of the Cuban Resistance kicks off long-term public education campaign giving voice to the oppressed, setting the record straight on the island
  • Under the cover of COVID and the invasion of Ukraine, Cuba's regime has ratcheted up repression of its people

TORONTO, June 14, 2022 /CNW/ – Advocates of human rights in Cuba took to the streets of Toronto today to issue a plea to all Canadians – reconsider your support of a totalitarian, undemocratic and fearful government that continuously abuses its people and denies them their freedoms. The call is part of a long-term public education campaign, #UnlockCuba, initiated today in France, Spain, Italy and Canada that will include a variety of facts-based activities aimed at shedding light on the realities of heavy-handed government action and injustices in Cuba. It also aims to increase awareness on how ordinary citizens from these and other northern countries can help Cubans achieve the basic human rights that should be afforded to every person, in every country. Visiting from the U.S. and Mexico, the activists also met with community leaders, human rights groups and media to discuss how Canadians, much to their surprise, have played an important role in funding a six decade-long military regime that has trampled on human rights and basic freedoms since coming to power in 1959.

"Cubans, like Canadians and everyone around the world, deserve universal rights and freedoms," said Dr. Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat, one of the members of the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance, the coalition of human rights groups inside and outside Cuba that is leading the campaign. "We are convinced the timing is right for Canadians to consider the small but concrete actions they can take to help Cubans find freedom. Year after year, decade after decade, the regime has lorded over our people and has done so with the financial support of individuals, business and even governments that are not aware of the realities on the island."

Through ad campaigns, social media, educational events and engagement with political and civic leaders, the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance will share accurate information – a key element it believes is required to resist the intense form of communism that has a stronghold on the island.

Canadians represent more than 40% of tourists to Cuba. Trade between Cuba and Canada is at its highest levels in years, representing more than $1 billion per year.

"We see Canadians standing up firmly and valiantly in the face of injustice in places all around the world," said former Cuban political prisoner Luis Zuñiga. "This is good. As your neighbours to the south, from our island that is so beloved by so many, we're asking you to take notice of how our people are suffering and to do something concrete about it, even if only a small gesture – and to sustain it until we are freed."

On July 11, 2021, spontaneous non-violent protests broke out across the island. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans, especially youth, took to the streets in cities like Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Cienfuegos and Camaguey chanting "Libertad" in response to the country's worsening state of human rights. To quell the movement, the government engaged in indiscriminate mass arrests, sentencing some protestors to nearly two decades in prison.

"How many rounds and decades of repression must the Cuban people endure?" said René F. Bolio, Chairman of the Mexican Commission for Human Rights who travelled to Canada to participate in the demonstration. "The regime in Havana has taken advantage of the current crisis in Ukraine and, before that, COVID, to summarily sentence in secret scores of young Cubans to decades-long prison terms simply for asking for their basic freedoms. It's time we shine light on what's truly happening."

Courageous Cuban nationals, both inside and outside of the island, are increasingly raising their voices to invite members of the international community of nations to see the continuous political injustices prevalent throughout Cuban society that are only intensified by tourist dollars, trade, and the many forms of capital investments Canadians direct to the island.

"Most Canadians do not know where their dollars are going when they vacation in Cuba or invest there," concludes Dr. Gutiérrez Boronat. "The military almost exclusively owns the resorts and hotels and are the ones who see 80 – 90% of the money, not the Cuban people."

The campaign's first images include prisoners of the July 11, 2021, protests who were sentenced to jail time and hard labour for expressing their discontentment with the communist, non-representative and undemocratic government.

Spanish speakers in Canada are invited to listen to the group's online radio channel, Radio Republica, to be connected to facts and real stories from and related to the island and its people.

The delegation heads to Ottawa tomorrow for a first round of meetings with Members of Parliament.

The Assembly of the Cuban Resistance is a parliament in exile, made up of a host of non-governmental organizations working together to bring freedom to the oppressed people of Cuba. 

The press event, delivered in Toronto, today, June 14, is available on the Facebook page of The Cuban Democratic Directorate (Directorio Democratico Cubano), or directly at https://www.facebook.com/directoriodemocraticocubano/videos/552480199808389/

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Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat, centre, from the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance, stands in front of the Cuba Tourist Board of Canada in Toronto, June 14, with René Bolio, left, Mexican attorney and chairman of the Justice Cuba Commission and Luis Zúñiga Rey, human rights activist and a political prisoner who lived through 19 years of jail time in Cuba. The group travelled to Toronto to help promote freedom to the oppressed people of Cuba.

SOURCE Assembly of the Cuban Resistance

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