Asked about the Repression of Journalists in Cuba, Lula Criticizes the US*

Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva gave a press conference Monday, Nov. 15, at the European Parliament in Brussels.

At the press conference, Lula was asked by a reporter from Spanish news agency EFE about his opinion on the recent protests in Cuba and the repression of journalists on the Caribbean island. The Havana government revoked the media accreditation of five journalists with the Spanish news agency. This happened shortly before this past Monday’s Civic March for Change, a protest by dissident groups calling for greater rights. The government in Havana had sought to ban the march from taking place.

Lula did not comment on the case of the repression of journalists. Instead, he chose to make his well-known demand for the end of the U.S. embargo against Cuba and made a subtle criticism of the Cuban government, which has violently repressed the demonstrations. He said, “Cubans also know that when there is a protest there is a need to talk and find out why.”

“It’s the people’s right to say what they like and what they don’t like. I know we were all annoyed. All politicians love applause. All politicians hate boos and disagreements, but sadly that’s how politics works. When you are running for election, you ride in an open car waving to the people. When you win, you get into an armored car, you can’t even greet the people anymore. That guy who is booing you is a guy who possibly voted for you. It’s a person who is unhappy about something,” he said.

Lula devoted part of his time in response to criticizing the United States and the embargo. According to him, the island “has a singularity that we can never accept. It is not fair, normal, democratic or prudent, as far as human rights are concerned, for an embargo to last 60 years. It is not normal for the United States not to accept that the Americans lost the revolution to the Cubans and that it needs to allow the Cubans to decide their own future,” he said.

He recalled that he discussed the matter in a meeting with former President George W. Bush when both were serving their respective countries as presidents. “Why isn’t the U.S. thinking about democratically opening up its relationship with Cuba? What is the problem? It’s an eternal Cold War, an eternal persecution. As if they were imprisoning a rebellious child tied to a chair. It makes me sad to know that Americans don’t show magnanimity, to understand that Cubans must be free to decide their own destiny. I’m going to spend the rest of my days demanding the end of the embargo,” he said.

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