“The Cuban Revolution has dignified its people, ensuring all basic human rights, like the right to food security, free access to health and education services, as well as to the culture, sport and other fundamental rights.” – Cuban Ambassador Juan Carlos Arencibia Corrales
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – The Cuban ambassador to the Philippines has called on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Fr. Joaquin Bernas to deepen their understanding of Cuba and its revolution.
This came after Bernas likened President Benigno S. Aquino III to Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Bernas said Aquino, in his tirades against the Supreme Court, “sounded like the Cuba’s former president.”
In defense of Aquino, De Lima said, “I don’t think this president has the tendency or the psyche to be autocratic or dictatorial if that is what Bernas meant regarding Castro.”
In an interview with Bulatlat.com, Cuban ambassador to the Philippines Juan Carlos Arencibia Corrales said: “Fr. Bernas and De Lima have shown great ignorance of the Cuban history, as evident by their malicious statements against Fidel Castro.”
Arencibia said his office would be sending a note to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to express their disappointment over such unfortunate incident. “We are asking for official response from the Philippine government, given that Ms. De Lima is a senior government official,” Arencibia told Bulatlat.com.
In his press release, Arencibia said that while “Cuba is fully committed to the principle of the strict respect to the internal affairs of the Philippines, it flatly rejects the gross and infamous defamation, manipulations and disrespect against its historic leader Fidel Castro, our current President Raul Castro and all members of the Revolution leadership.”
Arencibia said “such attitudes and projections show total disregard of their country and only serve and satisfy the spurious interests of those who are seeking to demonize and destroy the Cuban revolution.”
Arencibia said Bernas should be reminded of the historical fact that Fidel Castro fought the brutal dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and that the revolution led by Fidel Castro overturned the sorry situation of Cuba.
“…[D]espite the genocidal economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed upon us by powerful northern neighbor for over 50 years and attacks of various kinds that have had to suffer, the Cuban Revolution has gotten many achievements for the benefit of its people, which are recognized around the world,” Arencibia said.
“The Cuban Revolution has dignified its people, ensuring all basic human rights, like the right to food security, free access to health and education services, as well as to the culture, sport and other fundamental rights. At the same time, Cuba has been able to assist other peoples of the world, offering them a generous and selfless help. On the other hand, the Cuban Revolution eradicated forever the practices of tortures, forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and other abominable practices of previous dictatorial and neocolonial governments,” Arencibia said.
In its recent report entitled Progress for Children: A Report Card on Nutrition, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said Cuba is the only country in Latin America and the Caribbean that has eliminated malnutrition of children.
Arencibia said they have received 60,000 foreign students from 120 countries on full scholarship. Cuba has been sending medical assistance and other forms of humanitarian aid to other countries.
“Our leader has always set a good example of sacrifice,” Arencibia said, referring to Fidel Castro. “When President Aquino was still a child, Fidel Castro was already waging the revolution.”
‘Democracy for the Cuban people’
Contrary to what Arencibia called as “global propaganda campaign against Cuba,” Cuba practices “inclusive democracy.”
“We cannot accept [the accusation] that in Cuba, we have a dictatorship,” Arencibia said.
He said that in Cuba, the people nominate and elect their representatives, from the base to the national Parliament. Through the National Assembly, he said, citizens can air their views regarding bills before the approval of the Parliament.
“It is not a democracy for the rich but a democracy for the working class, peasants, students, etc,” he said.
Asked why Fidel Castro served as president for 32 years, Arencibia replied: “Because he has the overwhelming support of the people. He was elected by the people. It was a result of free elections.” Cuba holds elections every five years.
Regarding claims that Fidel Castro chose his brother Raul Castro to replace him as president, Arencibia said: “Raul Castro is another historic leader of the Cuban revolution. He was elected based on his own merits and not because he is Fidel’s brother.”
Arencibia said Raul Castro joined the Moncada attacks against the Batista dictatorhip in 1953. Raul, like Fidel was also imprisoned and sent to exile in Mexico after the attacks. He went back to Cuba in 1956 and had been in the mountains fighting until the final defeat of the Batista dictatorship in 1959.
Arencibia said Fidel and Raul’s other brother, Ramon, who had not participated in the revolution, was never assigned or elected to any position in government.
The Cuban ambassador also expressed disappointment over the dependence of most media outfits in the Philippines on Western media. He said some newspapers re-echo the anti-Cuba propaganda peddled by the Western media.