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Cuba Reclaims The Right To Self Determination

An open letter to Kofi Annan
Cuba Reclaims the Right to Self Determination

From Julie Webb-Pullman

NOTE: There is a march today NZ time (Friday 14 May) along the Malecon past the US interests Section in Havana, expected to have over a million protesting at the measures.

UN Secretary General
United Nations
New York

Dear Kofi Annan,

I was so reassured to hear your statement in New York on 03 May 2004 marking World Press Freedom Day, when you said "Just as it should not take the collapse of a state for the international community to act, so it should not take a full-fledged crisis to attract the media spotlight. We should not, by our action or inaction, by what we report or do not, send a message - especially to those countries and people in need who struggle along in good faith - that only widespread bloodshed or total dysfunction will get them attention and help."

I am sure many people in Rawanda, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Haiti would echo your sentiments – if only they were alive to hear them. But there are at least eleven million Cubans alive today, and under direct threat from the United States, who I am sure would appreciate your “attention and help”.

I guess you probably don’t have a lot of time for reading or watching TV, being so busy with your UN business and all, but a couple of days after you made that statement, George Bush announced a series of measures against Cuba that, given their stated intent, should have you and the media you were addressing that day literally launching yourselves into the fray. ( But things have remained eerily silent, so I figure you (and they) must have missed it. Of course as Head Honcho you need to know this stuff, especially when it breaches so many of your organisations’ rules and regulations - and if there is one thing that we have come to expect from you, Kofi, it is that you will be fair, and apply your organisations’ precepts without fear or favour, so I am sure you will want to know from me what’s going on.

Kofs, I know you have a lot on your plate so I’ll try to make it easy for you. Pretend a country is a woman, and then think about her rights to physical, cultural, psychological and emotional integrity. Think about her right to determine what happens to her body. Think about her right to live her life according the choices she freely makes. Think about the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) as a sort of microcosm of all of the international UN thingies that apply to countries. And then think about Cuba as this woman. And think about what the US has done, and is proposing to do to her. You starting to get the picture?

Okay, okay, I’ll explain. This woman must surely fall into the category of ‘battered neighbour’ syndrome – she has been subjected to 45 years of physical and biological attacks by her neighbour, and he has also attacked her visitors, killing at least one Italian one, and causing her significant physical, psychological and emotional harm. In my country, that would be grounds for a non-molestation order at the very least, but maybe they do things differently in the UN world.

This neighbour has also blocked access to her property, so that deliveries of food, medicines, and other necessities of life have been denied her, and he has just announced that he intends to increase such activities. Not satisfied with that, he has also stalked her for years, flying over her house dropping offensive, and sometimes even dangerous material, as well as using electronic equipment to interfere with her radio and television reception – and he has just announced that he is buying a big new airplane to do an even better job of ensuring that she does not have the quiet enjoyment of her home but is forced to listen to and watch the programmes of his choice. In my country, both stalking and interfering with radio and television signals are criminal offences, and given the wealth of available evidence, this perpetrator should now be cooling his heels in a prison cell…but instead he remains free, and has now widely and publicly announced his intention to completely possess her, for his own gratification. ( course this is in her own best interests, she is just asking for it – just look at her behaviour, she needs a good fuck, or fucking over at least. But in my country this is called rape.

And not only is he planning on raping her himself, but he is inviting anyone else who wants, to join in the fun. Now Kofi, in my country putting someone on the block happens in some gangs, but they are not the gangs I expect you to belong to. And when such behaviour does make it to the court system in civilised countries, it usually receives pretty strong condemnation, as in Sydney, Australia last year.

So Kofi, I hope you are getting the picture here, because this woman has made it loud and clear that she does not wish to adopt her neighbour’s lifestyle, and she does not want him dictating to her what sort of economic life or social life or political choices she should make. She has been doing her best for many years under extreme duress to exercise self-determination, to make her own choices, and to have her physical, psychological, cultural and emotional integrity respected. She just wishes to live in respectful neighbourly peace, free from intimidation, and assault.

I am sure these concepts of physical, psychological, and emotional integrity are not alien to you, Kofi, I am sure you will find them in CEDAW. I believe you will understand the concern and outrage I and many others feel at the treatment our sister has received, and continues to receive, at the hands of this pathological bully. I hope that today your media friends will find the time to cover the biggest ‘Reclaim the Night’ march in the history of the world, along the Malecon in Havana, Cuba, and that you, Kofi, will find the time to watch it on TV, and think about what I have said. I especially hope that you will put your money where your mouth is, and actually provide some attention and help to these Cuban “…people in need who struggle along in good faith”, and get this psychopath off their back. After all, you’re the Head Honcho, right…..?

Yours in sisterhood
Julie Webb-Pullman


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