Sydney Morning Herald (Autralia)
May 3 2003

Intellectuals spring to Cuba's support

                   By Marc Frank in Havana
                   More than 160 artists and intellectuals, including the Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia
                   Marquez, have come out in defence of Cuba even as many of their peers condemn recent
                   repression by the communist regime.

                   Latin American Nobel laureates Garcia Marquez, Rigoberta Menchu, Adolfo Perez Esquivel and
                   the South African writer Nadine Gordimer, also a Nobel prize winner, have signed a declaration
                   of support, said Pablo Gonzalez, a Mexican sociologist.

                   The singer Harry Belafonte and the actor Danny Glover are also among the personalities who
                   so far have signed the two-paragraph declaration "To the Conscience of the World", Gonzalez
                   told a May Day rally in Havana on Thursday.

                   "A single power is inflicting grave damage to the norms of understanding, debate and mediation
                   among countries," the declaration says, referring to the United States and the war in Iraq.

                   "At this very moment a strong campaign of destabilisation against a Latin American nation has
                   been unleashed. The harassment against Cuba could serve as a pretext for an invasion."

                   President Fidel Castro's Government has come under international criticism following the
                   sentencing of 75 dissidents to long prison terms last month, and the execution of three men
                   who hijacked a ferry in a failed attempt to reach the US.

                   Cuba has said the crackdown is in response to a US plot to topple the government after more
                   than four decades of failed efforts to do so.

                   But strong criticism of Cuba's actions has come not only from Western government's such as
                   the US, but also from disillusioned foreign writers and artists, apparently sparking the pro-Cuba

                   The Portuguese Nobel Prize winning novelist Jose Saramago, a long-time supporter of Dr
                   Castro, wrote last month that, "from now on, Cuba can follow its own course, and leave me
                   out", adding that Cuba had cheated his illusions.

                   At Thursday's rally Dr Castro told critics that their words could be used to justify a US invasion.

                   The intellectuals who signed the declaration defending Cuba apparently agree, although they
                   did not specifically express support for Dr Castro's policies.

                   Dr Castro also claimed the US was out to assassinate him or invade the country. "In Miami and
                   Washington they are now discussing where, how and when Cuba will be attacked," he said in
                   a speech at the May Day celebrations.

                   "On behalf of the 1 million people gathered here this May Day, I want to convey a message to
                   the world and the American people: We do not want the blood of Cubans and Americans to be
                   shed in a war."

                   The declaration ended with a call to governments and others to "uphold the universal principles
                   of national sovereignty, respect for territorial integrity and self-determination, essential to just
                   and peaceful co-existence among nations."

                   Gonzalez did not say who originated the declaration but that it would continue to be circulated
                   among cultural figures around the world.

                   Reuters, Associated Press