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HAPPY AT 90 MILES » The rhetoric of prison countries
May
24
2009

The rhetoric of prison countries

cuba_bars
image credit: International Society For Human Rights

The necessity of imprisoning one’s people because they are liable to emigrate en masse if given half a chance is nothing but a sad admittance of failure. All societies exercise some level of coercion over their citizens in order to ensure order, but the ultimate proof of tyranny is a closed border. It is a capitulation of faith, replaced by a grim certitude that people must be prevented from voting with their feet.

I came across a piece of East German propaganda that attacks the motivations of those who would want to leave the “worker’s paradise”. It is called “He Who Leaves the German Democratic Republic Joins the Warmongers”. This pamphlet was distributed in 1955. It is sad that so many years later Cubans still suffer under similarly tired slogans and laws.


“Both from the moral standpoint as well as in terms of the interests of the whole German nation, leaving the GDR is an act of political and moral backwardness and depravity.
Those who let themselves be recruited objectively serve West German Reaction and militarism, whether they know it or not. Is it not despicable when for the sake of a few alluring job offers or other false promises about a “guaranteed future” one leaves a country in which the seed for a new and more beautiful life is sprouting, and is already showing the first fruits, for the place that favors a new war and destruction?
Is it not an act of political depravity when citizens, whether young people, workers, or members of the intelligentsia, leave and betray what our people have created through common labor in our republic to offer themselves to the American or British secret services or work for the West German factory owners, Junkers, or militarists? Does not leaving the land of progress for the morass of an historically outdated social order demonstrate political backwardness and blindness? …
[W]orkers throughout Germany will demand punishment for those who today leave the German Democratic Republic, the strong bastion of the fight for peace, to serve the deadly enemy of the German people, the imperialists and militarists.”

This echoes the criticism of the Cuban Government of the “Cuban Adjustment Act” which grants immediate residency to Cubans who make it ashore in the United States. Cuba accuses Washington of “murderously inciting massive illegal emigration from the island” putting the thousand of rafters at risk.
From Granma International: “One of the mechanisms used by the United States to provoke the Cuban government and destabilize the island’s society is emigration. U.S. policy is based on providing incentives and encouraging violent and spectacular emigration attempts projecting an image of desperation to the rest of the world.”

Meanwhile Cuba continues to deny their citizens the “white cards” needed to exit via normal channels.

This year alone, Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez has been prevented from attending speaking engagements at book fairs in Turin and Madrid, or at the University of New York, since she’s been denied an exit visa for the third time by the Cuban Government. Only one of many prisoners, but her voice reaches far.

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