Reported by Joseph Manzaneda, Coordinator of Cubainformación.

Translated by Rock around the Blockade

On 23 May, the Cuban ‘dissident’ ex prisoner Diosiris Santana described a scene of police brutality towards several of his compatriots: ‘They were dragged on the floor, hit in the face and arm, one has been left with a broken nose and foot’ (1).

Anyone would think that his accusation was directed against the Cuban police. But no, Santana told of the actions of the Municipal Police of Madrid during the arrest of four Cuban ex-prisoners camped outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain.

‘I am concerned by this situation; I had never seen this in Spain,’ said another of the ‘dissidents’, Francisco Bacallao, referring to the police violence. A somewhat cynical comment in this case, given that Bacallao has lived for years in Madrid where, just days before National Police had evicted, with much greater violence, dozens of people from the 15M movement in the nearby Puerta del Sol (2).

The Cubans were protesting due to the end of the financial support that the 115 ex-prisoners and their 647 family members had received from the Government of Spain during 2010 and 2011. This was following an agreement with the previous Government and the Catholic Church in Cuba (3.) Recall that, within days of arriving in Madrid, the exiles broke with the government of Rodriguez Zapatero, which had welcomed them. Several others travelled to Brussels with assistance from the opposition-Popular Party to defend the hard-line policy and sanctions against Cuba contained in the so-called European Common Position (4). Ironically, now the Popular Party is in government, at the height of budget cuts, it has decided not to extend the economic aid, finishing the 18 months of provision signed in the host agreement. The Popular Party has even rejected a proposal of the group Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) to allocate 2.5 million Euros to these Cubans. (5)

And so it is that those who call for the establishment of a capitalist free market system in Cuba are now being devoured by it in Spain.

In April, one of them, Alberto Santiago Du Bouchet (6), committed suicide in the Canaries Islands. His family stated that he ‘could not cope’ with the uncertainty following the announcement of the end of the financial support (7). Most of this group has experienced economic hardship. Bárbara Pura Yurubi Dueñas, a family member of one of the exiles, wrote in desperation in a letter that she may lose custody of her daughter as she was financially unable to look after her (8). Several members of the group have expressed their desire to return to Cuba (9).

For others, however, the solution is ... in the US. One of the ‘ladies in white’ Sabina Martín demanded a few months ago to be taken there: ‘Since we came to Spain, none of what we were promised has been fulfilled by this government. We want to go to the US where democracy and human rights are truly defended’ (10). She continues to be presented in the Spanish media as a ‘fighter for human rights’ in Cuba (11). The website of Union, Progress and Democracy Party (UPyD) has made opposition to Castro a key tenet of its politics, has supported several of the dissidents. It describes Sabina Martin as a ‘freedom fighter’ and a ‘woman (...) with great common sense’ (12). Let’s review some examples of her ‘common sense’.

In June 2011, Martín was expelled, with her family, from centre of the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR) in the city of Malaga for physical aggression, including threats and insults to workers, taking alcohol and knives into the centre and not attending employment workshops (13). Sabina Martín told the Spanish news agency EFE that behind her expulsion from the CEAR centre of Malaga was - of course! - the Cuban government (14).  Martín’s husband, showing the same great ‘common sense’, accused the CEAR of expelling the family by a ‘military deployment’ (15).

During their tent protest in Madrid, Sabina Martín claimed that her and her families lives were in danger (16). The Miami media even reported that ‘undercover agents’ threatened their safety (17).

The ‘lady in white’ also blamed the Cuban government for her current situation, for not having informed its citizens about the economics problems in Europe. ‘In Cuba, no one knows that in Spain there are so many unemployed and things are so bad,’ she told the press, adding that had she known she would not have agreed to come (18). Anyone who watches Cuban television, which reports almost daily about unemployment in Europe, will know this is a ridiculous comment.

Those who have always accused the Cuban media of exaggerating the problems of capitalism, now complain that they don’t do enough. The accusation is absurd and  can be disproved simply by watching Cuban TV, whose news programs on the crisis and unemployment in Europe are almost daily (19).

Despite being a grotesque case, the drama of this group is the repetition of an old story: the political utilisation of a group of people who the US government financed and organized as a battering ram against the Cuban government (20), the European right-wing institutions and media used them to justify the policy of sanctions against Cuba; and they have now been left stranded.

The names of many of these people, like Diosiris Santana, the same man who denounced the violence of the Municipal Police of Madrid, appear in manifestos supporting the most extreme positions against their own country: for the maintenance of Europe’s Common Position (21), the ban on travel to Cuba from US (22), and ultimately the economic blockade of the island (23).

It's an old story repeated for over 50 years, first in Miami, now in Madrid.