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El Imperio

By Cindy Sheehan

Since my son, Casey was a victim of the US Military Empire in 2004, I have traveled the world and met with people in almost 20 countries that have also been victimized by the US.

Whether it was the First Nation people in Honolulu who could no longer fish or swim in their ancestral waters of Pearl Harbor because of the toxic contamination by the Navy, or my brothers and sisters in Daichuri, South Korea whose village was being destroyed so the nearby Army base, Camp Humprhey could build a golf course, I always walk away from these encounters with an extra steely resolve to try and confront the US Military Industrial Complex wherever I can, and to try and ease the suffering of so many people.

Today, I am in Havana, Cuba for an international gathering of human rights activists on the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Human Rights. Besides Cuban activists, we heard testimony from activists from: Guatamala, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Spain, Puerto Rico, among others. In the translator hanging off of my ear, I heard time and time again, The Empire. Or, el imperio. The Empire is of course the United States of America. No question about it.

The US has been meddling in the affairs of these South American and Latin American countries for centuries. We have installed dictators after overthrowing democratically elected and popular governments. We have used these countries as a dumping ground for our toxic products and have used the IMF and World Bank to impoverish governments so they would be crushed by debt after we unleashed Economic Hitman on these already poor countries. We steal their natural resources and if any Latin American leader dare stand up to The Empire, he will be either executed, or demonized as we try to undermine his effectiveness.

Today, I heard the testimony of Camilo whose father was killed in the terrorist attack by Luis Posada Carriles on a Cuban airliner. Carriles is being harbored by the US and refuses to extradite him to Venezuela to face charges for the murder of 73 Cubans. But, but, but, I thought the US did not harbor terrorists? I also met again with family members of the Cuban 5 who have been in US prisons for 10 years after being arrested for espionage while they were ferreting out terrorism against Cuba in Miami.

On Human Rights Day, we should be celebrating the fact that we live in a country that practices peace over war, economic justice over rancid capitalism, environmental protection over ecologic degradation, and human rights over torture, occupation, oppression and murder.

However, if one takes the time to read the entire document of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it becomes apparent that the US is the biggest violator of the UDHR on the planet.

No country is perfect, but the people of the USA, my brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, must take leadership in first internalizing, then fostering and the precepts of the UDHR.

Every human deserves basic rights. No one human deserves more and certainly no one deserves less.

With more and more of our fellow citizens becoming unemployed, uninsured and food insecure, we may soon join the ranks of these third world countries that have had to suffer deprivation while we consumed an over-excess of the worlds resources.

Eleven million children around the world, over 30,000 per day, die before their 5th birthdays each year.

That is not a statistic that I can live with. I hope it will also spur you to confront The Empire in every way possible.

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Although I appreciate your good intentions for attending the International Conference on Human Rights in Cuba, I find it very ironic that this meeting of human rights activists is taking place in Cuba of all places. Communist Cuba is a country that does not allow its regular citizens to travel abroad, for any kind of reason, unless they are part of religious group, sports team, or arts organization. Even then, these travelers have to prove their loyalty to the government before they get their visas. Had that law be applied to you here, you'd never pass that test (something I commend you for). Married couples are not allowed to travel together because the Cuban government fears they will never go back and
the average Cuban is not allowed to use the Internet or watch any TV programs from abroad (not to say that there aren't some indomitable spirits who do manage to "steal" cable risking search and seizure of any electronic equipment found, plus encarceration and fine.
Cuba in the present state should be the last country to be holding a conference on human rights when so many Cubans are being held captive in the Castro brothers' farm.
Like someone said "nobody is free when others are oppressed"

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