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
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
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
than four decades of failed efforts to do so.
But strong criticism of Cuba's actions has come not only from Western government's
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