December 14, 2001
Mr. President: Fidel Castro Ruz
During the Elián Gonzalez saga, you
and members of the Cuban government defended that right of children to be
raised by their parents, and held that no State had the moral authority to
break or interfere with the sacred bond of the family. Additionally, on
scores of occasions for many decades, you and your government have
insisted, "Cubans who have visas and wish to leave the country can do
so." Furthermore, you and the Cuban government have continually
attacked the existence of the “Law of Adjustment”, since this
supposedly stimulates illegal emigration. The correct practice should be to let whomever wishes to
leave Cuba do so peacefully and adhering to norms of emigration.
In a speech before Cuban children at the Jose
Echevarria Social Club on the 23rd of December, 1999 and in a press
conference at the closing function of the 2nd International
Havana Cigar Festival, at PABEXPO,
on March 4, 2000, you said, "The policy pursued by the Revolution is
that anyone who wants to leave our country and go somewhere else can do so
if they are given permission to enter the other country. Our country does
not prevent any family from emigrating because the construction of a
evolutionary and just society in socialism is a voluntary and free
course, children are not at all to blame for this kind of problem.
Children are just children; they are growing and learning, they are not
adults, and we respect the right of the family to decide for them. If a
family wants to travel to another place in the world, it travels with the
children. Nobody is prevented from doing this.”
have never prohibited legal migration, never!
We have allowed free migration….. On more than one occasion, when
families have been separated, we have been the ones to pressure for their
reunification. In other words, we have fully and absolutely respected
The objective of this letter is to
inform you that nothing mentioned above has been honored in the case of my
three-year old daughter, Elizabeth Manero Sixto, and my husband, Fernando
David Manero, both of whom are currently in possession of visas granted by
the United States. I submit
that they are being retained in Cuba against their will.
My name is Maritza Sixto. I am 31 years
old, and until a few months ago, was a part of the Union of Young
Communist People. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and
until leaving Cuba, was working in the Center for the State Control Drugs.
In September 2000 I was legally authorized to traveled to Washington, D.C.
to assist the Pan-American Health Organization with a project related to
my specialty. After
completing my tasks, I decided to remain in the United States.
The intention of this public letter is not to create a
political debate, but to demand that my family’s right to live together
be honored. I have been told that because of my defection, a strange term,
since I am neither a member of the armed forces nor do I belong to the
high ranks of the government, I am being punished by being separated from
my daughter and my husband. Why? Where does the Cuban Penal Code state
that individuals should be punished by separation from family members
because one of them decides to live outside the country?
As you know and continually reiterated to a point of
exhaustion during the Elián Gonzalez case, no one has the right to punish
children for the actions of their parents.
My three-year old daughter is suffering from the unjust separation
of her from her mother. Please
note that I have had an open file in Office of Cuban Immigration for more
than 8 months. My husband has also done nothing wrong. He is an adult who
no longer desires to remain in Cuba.
He also possesses a visa that allows him to emigrate. Why are you
preventing him from doing so? Why are you punishing them? Do you really
believe that the rights of children should vary depending on the political
ideas of their parents?
Are the rights of children to live with parents not
those we so ardently fought for when Elián Gonzales was illegally held in
the United States? According to your own words, and those that we heard so
many times in the crowded marches in which I participated, I submit to you
that they are the same rights. How can it be explained that the same Cuban
government officials who pleaded so eloquently for the rights of the
reunification of the Gonzalez family fail to respond when a father and a
three-year old girl are denied the right to family reunification?
Cuba is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of the
Human Rights and is therefore committed to respecting the right of free
movement for all human beings. What is censorable about a person which
decides to live outside her country and chooses another society and
another State? Was not your own father a Spanish immigrant from Sarria,
Lugo? Do you not have sisters, nephews, a daughter and a granddaughter
abroad? Why not respect such rights that your own family had one day?
For months, my husband and I have quietly and
respectfully requested the Cuban Government comply with both Cuban and
international law and allow my husband and daughter to legally emigrate to
the United States. Even after demonstrating my daughter’s ongoing health
problems and the substandard housing conditions in which she is living,
your government has ignored our requests knowing full well that your
inaction is directly harming a three-year old child and an innocent man,
whose only sin is his desire to leave Cuba. Perhaps publishing this letter
is the only way for you to become aware of my case and take action to
rectify the situation. I am Cuban, having been born and bred by the
Revolution. As a Cuban and
with the force of my ideas, reasons and rights, I am going to fight with
all my might and with the rights granted to me by law as a mother and as a
citizen; I am going to publicize this case in any and all legal tribunes,
in any forum and present the facts to anyone who will listen to me so that
the deplorable behavior of the Cuban government can be duly judged and