[SOUTH FLORIDA] – The Caribbean Bar Association stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, in Cuba and Haiti, suffering from grave human rights violations, racial injustice, political and economic disenfranchisement, and other social inequalities.
Protest in Cuba
As the people of Cuba engage in large scale peaceful protests, we stand in support of their right to freedom in their pursuit of political, economic and social advancement. We echo their cries of “Libertad!” in pursuit of their right to life, liberty, security, freedom of speech and of the press. We condemn the Cuban Government’s brutal response to peaceful protests and universally condemn the use of state sponsored violence and the criminalization of peaceful civil disobedience in opposition to human rights abuses and violations.
The Future of Haiti
We similarly stand with the people of Haiti as they face an uncertain future in the wake of President Jovenel Moïse’s brutal assassination. Haiti’s future must be decided by the people of Haiti as they have the right to freely pursue their political, economic and social development, free of governmental intimidation and oppression.
We know the road ahead will be long and arduous. But it was the Haitian people’s tenacity in freeing themselves from the grip of colonial France that not only transformed the geopolitics of the New World but also provided an authoritative example of what collective action and sheer determination could achieve. We stand with Haiti, not only in mourning the death of President Moïse, but also in the enduring hope that the promise of 1804 will begin to be delivered through economic and political stability.
The Caribbean region with its diverse and complex history, created through a multiplicity of colonial experiences, is in many ways a microcosm of the world. “As long as poverty, injustice, and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest,” because “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” At no time in our collective history has this been truer!
And, while these truths should be evident, recent increases in hate crimes, suppression of protests for human and civil rights and calls for social and economic justice remind us that we must affirmatively reach outside of our silos of operation. The social unrests precipitated here in the United States by the murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and the killing by police of Breonna Taylor should not be
viewed in isolation. Neither should the deepening anxiety and political turmoil unleashed by the savage and brutal assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and the critical wounding of First Lady Martine Moïse. And neither should the ongoing protests of human rights abuses in Cuba and the cries for political and economic freedom.
These are all cries for liberty, freedom and human dignity—all crystallized and re-surfaced—in the United States, in Haiti, and in Cuba, after years of oppression and sustained economic hardships, anxiety, and emotional upheaval exacerbated in the crucible of a global pandemic.
As we continue to protest centuries of systemic and institutional racism and years of socio-economic inequalities here in the United States and demand the unfettered ideal that all are created equal and are endowed with inalienable human rights, so we stand with our marginalized brothers and sisters in Haiti and in Cuba for the same rights and freedoms.
The humanitarian crises in Cuba and Haiti require immediate intervention of charitable contributions of food and medicines from international agencies and individuals alike. We call upon the Caribbean community and the wider international community to activate emergency relief supplies to these countries to stem the deepening fallout from their current economic, political and social upheaval. We call upon the U.S. State Department to use all available diplomatic channels to facilitate a system of accountability and logistical support for the efficient distribution of aid to targeted vulnerable groups in both countries.
We are America, we are Haiti, we are Cuba!
Tricia-Gaye L. Cotterell
President, The Caribbean Bar Association