A Nobel Protest

Joel Bleifuss

In the wake of Cuba’s campaign against pro-democracy dissidents, José Saramago, the Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese novelist, sent the following letter to Spain’s El Pais:I have come this far. From now on Cuba shall keep its own course, but I will have no part in it. To dissent is a right affirmed in invisible ink upon every past, present and future declaration of human rights. To dissent is an inalienable right of conscience. Dissent can lead to treason, but this must always be demonstrated through irrefutable evidence. I do not believe that the rulings of a recent trial, in which Cuban dissidents were served with disproportionate sentences, were reached beyond a reasonable doubt of guilt. Nor do I understand why the head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana has not been expelled from the country, given his alleged role in the conspiracy.And now come the executions. To hijack a boat or airplane is a severely punishable crime in any country of the world, but the hijackers should not have been sentenced to death, especially given that there were no fatalities. Cuba has not won a heroic battle in shooting those three men, it has lost my faith, spoiled my hopes and defrauded my dreams. I have come this far.

Joel Bleifuss, a former director of the Peace Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the editor & publisher of In These Times, where he has worked since October 1986.

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