The National Lawyers Guild’s Cuba Subcommittee sent the letter below in response to Hilary Clinton’s assertions on Cuba, in an attack on Bernie Sanders in their March 9th Miami debate. The letter was sent to the Clinton campaign on March 13, 2016, and has been picked up by a number of groups concerned with Cuba and accuracy. No response has yet been received.
To the Clinton Presidential Campaign:
(If you are not able to timely handle this request, please route this to the appropriate office to respond to such inquiries, & so advise.)
I represent two organizations, one based in Wisconsin, the other national, and both communicate regularly to the public on related issues of public concern. I am writing to request a response regarding Hillary Clinton’s assertion in the Miami debate on March 9, 2016 that the Cuban government “has disappeared and even killed people” for expressing their political views. Specifically, in attacking Sen. Sanders for having stated in 1985 that the Cuban revolution had brought not only healthcare and other benefits but also an accompanying revolution in values, Secty. Clinton stated:
“You know, if the values are that you oppress people, you disappear people, you imprison people or even kill people for expressing their opinions, for expressing freedom of speech, that is not the kind of revolution or values that I ever want to see anywhere,” Clinton said to loud cheers in the room. (Emphasis added, see e.g., http://www.npr.org/2016/03/09/469866027/watch-a-resurgent-sanders-looks-to-knock-down-clinton-in-tonights-debate)
We are aware of many instances in recent decades when journalists, as well as political, LGTB and indigenous activists, have been “disappeared” or killed after expressing their political views, or just being part of an unfavored community, in other parts of Latin America including Mexico, Guatemala — and notably Honduras after the 2009 coup, mostly recently as highlighted by the assassination of indigenous and environmental activist Berta Caceres. The same is true in other regions, as this morning, NPR’s correspondent reported that 1,000’s of residents in Egypt have been been disappeared, tortured and killed (see “5 Years Later, Egypt Government Crackdown On Dissent Persists“), and Egypt continues to be one of the largest recipients of U.S. aid. You are clearly aware of the national movements of Black Lives Matter activists, generated by the persistent pattern of U.S. police authorities taking the lives of our citizens of color under very suspect circumstances. But aside from the speedy trials in 1959 of people accused of being killers or torturers under Batista, which have been widely criticized, we do not know of credible evidence to support Secty. Clinton’s assertions highlighted above, and not in the last 25 years.
We therefore request credible documentation for instances and individuals who have been “disappeared” or killed for expressing their political views in Cuba in the last 25 years. If this cannot be supplied, we respectfully request that Secty. Clinton clarify and correct her assertion, consistent with the way that she and other candidates have corrected statements in which they “misspoke.” We further request a definitive response on this matter ASAP, but no later than March 24, 2016. After that date, we will circulate whatever response has or has not been received.
For your information, the Wisconsin Coalition to Normalize Relations with Cuba has been active since 1994, composed of religious and civic organizations, and will circulate any such response to 1,000’s of concerned voters in this state prior to the April 5th Wisconsin primary. The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state. It and its Cuba Subcommittee will likewise share this information appropriately.
Thank you kindly for your consideration.