In Pierre's view, Caribbean leaders who fail to condemn evil in their own neighborhood become ''collaborators, in effect,'' with Castro.
''When Castro can do a thing like that and not have anybody come down on him, he can be encouraged to even greater excesses,'' Pierre said. ``We must tell our friends when they are good and we must tell them when they are wrong.''
''Sometimes, there's a respect for Cuba in this part of the world because it stands up against the United States,'' Joel Simon, the acting director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told me. ``But that's no excuse.''
Days before the UNESCO-sponsored conference, members of the United Nations voted Cuba back onto its human-rights committee, giving a perverse legitimacy to the region's hypocrisy on Cuba. The failure to condemn Castro ultimately reflects an unhealthy characteristic in many developing countries: political leaders and well-connected ''elites'' who define themselves not by what they support -- but by what they oppose.
In Jamaica, many university-educated elites promote a 1970s leftist worldview and pontificate endlessly about the evils supposedly perpetrated by U.S. foreign policy. Yet they often seem loath to discuss the grim day-to-day realities of ordinary Jamaicans: an unacceptably high level of extra-judicial police killings, rampant crime and a lack of decent jobs and public services.
After the Sept. 11 terror attacks, President Bush took the moral high road, declaring that the world's leaders must decide whether they are with the terrorists or against them, and not equivocate on the issue.
Caribbean leaders and intellectuals would do well to consider that advice -- for the sake of Raúl Rivero and other pro-democracy activists and journalists rotting in Cuba's jails. ***
"No dictatorship can exist without external support but no dictatorship can be brought down either without external support," said Alina Fernandez, an exiled daughter of Castro, who will lead the trip. "We are asking the world to help us with the situation in Cuba," said Blanca Gonzalez, whose journalist son, Normando Gonzalez, was recently sentenced to 25 years in a Cuban prison. Tears streaming down her cheeks another dissident's relative said she would tell European leaders that "Fidel Castro is a murderer." "Until now, they have been blind and deaf to the tragedy in Cuba," said Isabel Roque, her voice choked with emotion.
Klayman also called for the ouster of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. "Chavez is a terrorist, removing him in any particular way would probably be beneficial," he said. ***