By: Ron Ridenour
“Cuban President Receives Counterpart from Sri Lanka” read the Prensa Latina headline of June 17. The agency reported that the four-day official visit by President Mahinda Rajapaksa was at the invitation of President Raul Castro.
Does this mean that the “honored guest”—widely known to be one of the world’s most brutal government leaders, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths of the Tamil people, who is also selling much of his country to foreign multi-nationals corporations, and whose main export partner is the United States—is made of the same stuff as his “counterpart”?
“Cuba is acting immorally and in contradiction to its long-time solidarity with the oppressed and exploited peoples of the world,” I wrote in “Cuba outvoted at UN Human Rights Council over Sri Lanka-Tamils”. (See also “Cuba’s Contradictory Stance on Tamils”)
There is ample evidence that Sri Lankan governments have long been discriminating against, oppressing and murdering Tamils. Besides physical violence, the government has passed laws making Tamils second-class citizens. They are denied equal access to education and employment; their religions and language are not on an equal footing with Sinhalese and their aggressiv version of Buddhism. My recent book, “Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka”, outlines this sordid history.
So, why is the Cuban government supporting this brute and the previous Sinhalese chauvinist governments? Havana Times offers some answers in “Will Sri Lanka Tamils get justice from the UN?”
The foreign politics of the Cuban government is based, in large part and understandably so, on its rancor with the United States for its permanent intrusion in Cuban affairs as well as that of many other peoples and governments who do not buckle under its domination. Recently, the US has leveled complaints that the Sri Lanka government overstepped its right to destroy the guerrilla organization Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by bombing civilians. Most of the 47 governments on the Human Rights Council, including six Latin American governments, agreed. This is not to be construed as an offering of applause to the world’s greatest terrorist state, for the US makes this “human rights” gesture for its own hypocritical geo-political reasons, which the writing above explains.
Since the US-UK axis makes an insignificant complaint about this, Cuba’s government, in a knee jerk fashion, is all the more enthusiastic about being chummy with a government that systematically eliminates Tamils in a genocidal pattern. By so reacting, Cuba has turned its back on its own solidarity principles of standing beside all oppressed and exploited peoples.
As a long-time supporter of the Cuban revolution—since my first demonstration, which took place in April 1961 in front of a US federal building as the Yankees invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, and through to working for Prensa Latina and Editorial José Martí in the 1980s-90s, and with hundreds of articles and six books on Cuba to my credit—I am sickened by the Cuban government’s hypocritical support of Rajapaksa and his family regime and, consequently, the immoral acceptance of the genocide against a minority people. I am certain that if Che Guevara were around he would rant and rave, and that is what I ask all solidarity supporters of Cuba to do.
- “Those who are exploited are our compatriots all over the world; and the exploiters all over the world are our enemies.” Fidel Castro told Lee Lockwood in “Castro’s Cuba, Cuba’s Fidel”.
About the author: Ron Ridenour, a veteran journalist, author and editor, has worked as an activist for decades against imperialist ideology and its wars with a special focus on Latin American affairs. Ridenour is the author of several books including‘Cuba Beyond the Crossroads’ (2006), ‘Cuba at Sea’ (2008) and Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka. A collection of his writings on the Sri Lanka-Tamil conflict has been published in India. Click here to visit his website.