The Chief of Mission for the U.S. Interests Section, James C. Cason, came to UM to speak to the Cuban Transition Project about the struggle for human rights in Cuba.
Cason, a career foreign service officer, has spent the last eight months in Havana, Cuba, seeing first-hand the life of the average Cuban citizen and how it can be improved.
Following Fidel Castro’s recent crackdown on the regime opposition, the U.S. is focusing its policy toward Cuba on bringing back the citizens’ rights and opportunities.
“All of our allies agree that their policy goal in Cuba is, ultimately, the same as ours,” Cason said. “They want rapid and peaceful transition to a democratic government characterized by strong support for human rights and an open market economy.”
According to Cason, it was unclear what type of support the U.S. will offer Cuban citizens in the future, but in the past, the U.S. has interacted with many different members of society by inviting civil society representatives to participate in events. The U.S has also provided citizens with information on democratic ways via books, news clippings and Internet access, not readily available in Cuba.
UM students agree that most Cubans are facing a life of poverty and the U.S. needs to take an active role to get the citizens of Cuba their rights back.
Karen Salazar, junior, mentioned that some citizens ignore the fight for obtaining human rights.
“Some people are sucking up to the government to live a cushioned life,” Salazar said. “The majority are not so fortunate and are forced to live a life of poverty.”
Other students believe that the U.S. should take an active interest in Cuba, especially since it is so close to the U.S.
“Even though the U.S. made a few mistakes in its interactions with Cuba early on by letting Castro continue to gain power, they need to step up and help take Castro out of power now,” Michelle Panting, sophomore, said. “If we can go all the way to Iraq we can certainly help Cuba who is right there.”
Carson ended his speech with the idea that the Cuban people will have to decide how the Cuban government changes.
“Cubans will decide how the Cuba of tomorrow takes shape, and more importantly, the role that each Cuban will have in it,” Carson said.
Erin Wright can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.