Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Free Access To Embassies, The Decisive Test
“Folha de S. Paulo”, April, 27th 1980
The present juncture in Cuba is complex. The situation of the unfortunate refugees in the Peruvian embassy appears to be resolving itself as the desperate ten thousand leave one by one, or rather, in bunches. Their misfortune, however, is no more than one aspect of what really ought to be called "the Cuban scandal." There is much more to it: the martyrdom of Cuba as a whole.
Let us put it this way. I know nothing about orogenisis. I do know that every island in the sea is the peak of a mountain rising from the depths. It is generally affirmed, moreover, that great mountains do not rise up alone, but occur in ranges. Likewise, around every island there are lesser mountains below the surface which really are frustrated "islands" that didn't make it to the light of day.
Certain phenomena in the deep waters of public opinion are analogous to this. At times passionate movements among a people remain hidden like frustrated "archipelagos" that fail to reach the surface. However small an island may be, it indicates the proximity of a vast, wrinkled and irregular ocean floor; likewise, the great explosions of public unrest are evidence of widespread discontent and even muted but real convulsions.
I don't know whether what was said here about islands and mountains is scientifically sound. But it certainly expresses very well what I feel about the Cuban scandal.
Ten thousand refugees (or10,800, if you will) flee panic-stricken through the first embassy door they can get through. They anxiously rush home just long enough to pick up their relatives and flee. The sick, the old, and children are among the unfortunates who stay out in the open, starving, crushed together night and day in the most repugnant filth, rather than return to their homes — comparatively tiny Eldorados where bed, cleanliness and food await them. They prefer to bear this veritable hell on earth and suffer the insults, curses, threats and even objects the Castroite hoods hurl at them from outside the embassy. I do not know of one single case just like this ever having happened in any embassy.
All of this is much more than merely a proof that these ten thousand Cubans were suffering physical or moral torture. What mountain ranges of suffering and hatred must exist around such an "island" of inconformity! As a whole, Cuba is a concentration island, a Lubianka.
It is not, then, a question of freeing the 10,000, but rather of freeing the whole island.
This is the terrible reality that the "pragmatic" West, grown soft and cowardly, apparently does not want to see.
The third element in the picture is the "marches of solidarity" that Fidel Castro put on as he tried to coverup the obvious. Once a whole nation has been terrorized, what could be easier for a tyrant than to pressure ten thousand, a hundred thousand, or even a million pitiful "pragmatists" into the streets to applaud and shout vivas for him? And then issue tendentious reports of such a "triumph" to the media?
In fact, after the tragic episode in the embassy of Peru, there would be only one possible way for Fidel Castro to prove his popularity: publish an official announcement that, for one month, access to the several foreign embassies would be absolutely open to anyone wanting to seek asylum. At the same time, he would have to invite a high level international commission for an on-the-spot verification that there really was free access to the embassies. If, under these conditions only an insignificant minority took refuge in the embassies, he would have successfully proven that only… ten thousand Cubans were discontented!
Furthermore, if the embassies overflowed with refugees, Castro should publicly resign. This, and only this, would be significant. Why doesn't he do it?
As a Brazilian, I have a right to suggest such a test. After all, in Brazil no police are posted at the gates of any embassy to keep desperate crowds out. The reason is, very simply, that there aren't any.
This is true of all embassies in every country of the free world. So they have grounds not only to suggest, but also to demand, reciprocity for their respective embassies in Cuba.
There is more. All of the free nations are entitled to demand, if they wish, that Soviet Russia and its "satellites" submit to the same test of popularity that I propose for Cuba. What an enormous gain it would be for them who spend fortunes to spread communist propaganda all over the world, if they were to grant their subjects — under the indispensable observation of an international commission — free access to the embassies of non-communist countries! What a direct and triumphant propaganda coup the communist world would make by proving that their peoples are happy under their Marxist regimes. Can you believe any communist state would do such a thing?
After the Cuban explosion, free access to embassies has become the decisive test of the excellence of a regime. This test, that the West passes routinely and even without realizing it, is a real fright for any communist government.
I ask myself why Carter — who pretends to be a missionary of moderate centrism in Latin America — has still done nothing to dismantle the dictatorship of Cuban extremism, by far the most terrible ever known in the Americas.
I also ask the bishops, priests and nuns who stir up agitation with their so-called "basic Christian communities": Aren't you afraid that Brazil may fall into a regime like that of Cuba, so much more sinister than anything you can affirm or may want to conjure up, about the Brazilian situation? Why is it then — since you proclaim yourselves the friends of the poor — that you do not fight against Communism but rather applaud it and trustingly collaborate with it?
Don't wonder at my reference to applause. That was precisely what was seen, for example, during the scandalous "Sandinist Night" held in the theater of the Pontifical Catholic University in Sao Paulo. During that session, Bishop Pedro Casaldaliga donned a guerrilla uniform that was presented to him. Why all this sympathy with the reds? Is it so that some day there will also be patrols guarding the embassies here from unfortunate crowds avidly desiring to enter?