OAS secretary general: ‘We cannot allow the Cuban people to continue to be oppressed’

The Cuban government's participation in the Summits of the Americas has long been surrounded by controversy.

14 Apr OAS secretary general: ‘We cannot allow the Cuban people to continue to be oppressed’

“Let’s continue to put pressure on the regime,” he said. “Let’s not recognize the rules for succession that the dictatorship wants to impose on its people.”

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The event where Almagro spoke also featured a video about Cuban activist Rosa María Payá and the death of her father, dissident Oswaldo Payá, in a car crash that was never fully clarified.

Payá said her father “gave his life for the cause of freedom for all Cubans, and we have been slowly learning that the freedom of Cubans also means freedom for Latin Americans.”

“I hope that the message sent by the former presidents … can be heard again at the Summit of the Americas, from the mouths of those who today have the power in the region and who continue in some way to try to stand aside, to avoid taking the bull by the horns and speaking the truth,” she added. “The reality is that it’s time to put the brakes on the Castro influence over the region.”

The Cuban government’s participation in the Summits of the Americas, launched by former President Bill Clinton, has long been surrounded by controversy. In 2012, ALBA member countries threatened to boycott the gathering unless Cuba was invited. In the last summit, held in Panama in 2015, Castro met with then-President Barack Obama but members of his delegation clashed with Cuban dissidents who attended a parallel summit of civil society groups.

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Almagro also condemned the Cuban delegation in Lima for an outburst of screams and slogans on Thursday that forced him and civil society activists to move a meeting to a closed-off hall. The Cuban delegates shouted “liar” at Almagro and “down with the worms” at the Cuban opposition activists in the room.

“Today we had a very clear example of the levels of intolerance and how they want to silence the voice of dissidents in Cuba,” said the OAS secretary general.

“They brought intolerance to our system, brought the voice of hatred, the voice that certainly tries to drown other voices. They have tried to dismantle our own democracy, the functioning of the Summit of the Americas. And that we cannot allow,” Almagro said. “And we cannot allow that in Cuba. It would not be ethical.”

Havana’s large delegation has complained to organizers of the civil society gathering, which until Thursday had kept Cuban government supporters and opponents apart to avoid confrontations.

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Frank Rodriguez Junior
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