Caecilia Wijgers, Ingemar Cederberg and Volker Pellet were the foreign diplomats mostly considered for their humanitarian work in Cuba until 1009 and 2010, according to a survey by the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL) to 135 referents of the Cuban civic movement between September and November this year.
After the end of their mission in Havana, on the International Day of Human Rights, Wijgers, Cederberg and Pellet receive the 2009-2010 Award to Committed Diplomacy in Cuba . The award is an initiative by CADAL that stresses out the work of foreign diplomats accredited in Havana, acknowledging those characterized by showing solidarity to democrats in the Island and for carrying on actions against the human rights violations in that country.
The award had a vast participation of Cuban Democrats, among them “Ladies in White”, Oswaldo Payá, Yoani Sánchez, Vladimiro Roca, Elizardo Sánchez, René Gómez Manzano, Guillermo Fariñas, Dagoberto Valdés and Félix Bonne Carcasses. At the same time the whole country was represented including Havana, Camagüey, Guantánamo, Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus, Holguín, Pinar del Río, Matanzas, Las Tunas, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba .
In total, 16 foreign diplomats in Cuba were nominated. They represented the following countries: Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Spain, United States, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic and Canada . Since there were no limits to the quantity of nominations from each participant, the officer from Netherlands received 85 votes, the Swedish 43 and the German 29.
The selection of the winners of the Award had into account the number of votes received by the diplomats and having been nominated by different groups. The presentation of the award, consistent of a commemorative plaque, is subject to the acceptance of the winner or his respective Ministry, having on this occasion the conformity of all of them.
On the importance of this initiative, Elizardo Sánchez, important referent of the peaceful struggle for human rights in Cuba, stated: “The Castro regime also exercises its huge capacity of intimidation on the diplomats and foreign correspondents: most of the diplomats decide to ‘look for no troubles', and have the best time possible. This reality reinforces the necessity and legitimacy of the Award to Committed Diplomacy”.
This initiative was quoted in the chapter about Cuba on the Manual for Diplomats, published by the Community of Democracies and is part of the Democratic Bridge project of CADAL. With the presentation of the award, CADAL reminds the importance of the gestures of international solidarity from governments and foreign officers during military dictatorships in the South Cone. In those harsh years, several foreign diplomats gained importance for their committed actions, like the Swedish Harad Edelstam in Chile, the North American Allen “ Tex ” Harris in Argentina and the Italian Enrico Calamai in Santiago and Buenos Aires .
Caecilia Wijgers (Netherlands). Born in 1967. She Works for the Dutch Foreign Ministry. She studied public administration with specialization on international law in Leiden, Holland . She began her career as a consultant for the European Commission in Riga, Latvia in 1992. After being admitted in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Netherlands she got a job at Hague. Since 1998 on, she served alternatively as political and human rights consultant in the Dutch Embassy at Islamabad, Pakistan . Then she was first secretary at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, followed by four years of deputy subsitute of the mission in Havana, Cuba . She is currently under director of the political division on the UN of the Dutch Ministry in Hague. She is married nad has three children.
Ingemar Cederberg (Sweden). Born in 1943. He studied at the University of Lund, Sweden, between 1963 and 1970 for a BA in Spanish and English and Social Science. He was coordinator of the reception of refugees in Sweden and other functions, at the Immigration Service of the Programs for refugees in Central America, ACNUR in San José Costa Rica between 1980 and 1983. He was also coordinator for human rights programs of Asdi, Sweden, from the Swedish Embassy in Chile between 1987 and 1991; under director of MINREX Sweden in cooperation programs of United Nations 1991-1993, under director of humanitarian projects 1993-1997, First secretary of the Swedish Embassy in Guatemala 1997-1999, under director for the Latin American Department of MINREX, Sweden 1999-2001, Ministry and Chief of Mission of the Swedish Embassy in Bogotá between 2001 and 2005, and he occupied the same post in the Swedish Embassy in Havana between 2005 and September 2010.
During his mission in Santiago, during the Chilean transition, he was in charge of cooperation programs of human rights and democratization. The police of Dictator Augusto Pinochet persecuted all the Chileans from the opposition who went to his house.
Volker Pellet (Germany). Born in 1961. He studied Law in Bonn and Goettingen, and then he received his Ph.D. He worked as a lawyer in Hamburg and began in 1993 the diplomatic career. He served in designations in Belgrade (Consul), Bonn/Berlin (adjunct spokesman), New York (Counselor/Security Council), Berlin (office of the Federal Chancellery, Havana (Chief of mission) and Berlin (Director of political foundations). He is married and has three children.
On the labor of the three diplomats in Cuba , the democratic referents in the Island , expressed the following:
The members of Proyecto Convivencia , among them Dagoberto Valdés, nominated Caecilia Wijgers “for her service to the establishment of bridges among the peoples of the Netherlands and Cuba . For her generouspassionate and coherent commitment in the defense of human rights and civic education for every Cuban without exception. For her contacts and respectful and systematic relations with leaders of the Cuban civil society, with human rights activists and other people committed with the present and future of Cuba . For her sacrificed work in the interior of the country and honest and profound comprehension of the situation of Cuba and the everyday life of the Cubans and for the immense love that she and her family personally gave to thousands of simple and important people of our country. Every work of the Cuban civil society has an imprint of her closeness and effective and discreet solidarity. She was a counselor according to the diplomacy of the news days when human rights have primacy over commercial and ideological interests. She visited our project in several occasions and considerably contributed to its development. Her simplicity and politeness opened the Cuban doors and closed others who were never able to understand her life's and work authenticity. We will never forget her”.
Regarding the Swedish diplomat they highlighted that “he maintained a dialogue with the different activists in the Cuban civil society. His cordiality and punctual attention made of him a diplomat very well informed and close to the real Cuba and its complex problems. He visited our project every year and in every occasion he listened with attention the diverse points of view and analysis of Cuban reality that would serve him for his diplomatic labor. He listened and asked with respect and intelligence. His support to the opening of an internet place in the Swedish embassy was a great job of hard patience and perseverance. At the end he managed to inaugurate “La trastienda” named that way because of its place by the familiarity of Yoani Sánchez and Reinaldo Escobar, well known Cuban bloggers. His simplicity and that of his inseparable and effective wife Mona Cederberg, allowed him to build bridges of friendship with many Cubans. He was a diplomat committed with the peoples of Sweden and Cuba and not only with the respective governments. He stamped for years the discreet and effective pace of the Swedish delegation in Cuba ”.
René Gómez Manzano , important lawyer and human rights activist in Cuba stated that “Dr. Pellet was characterized for his practical solidarity with pro democratic dissidents. One must keep in mind that the Cuban public TV presented him on different occasions while he was attending to the demonstration of the Ladies in White”.
On his turn, Elizardo Sánchez , representing the Executive Council of Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional stated that “During her stay in Cuba, Mrs. Wijgers held a behavior of true human solidarity with the Cuban people and of moral support to our peaceful efforts to improve the human rights situation in the Island . We will always remember her for the total disposition to listen with all the patience in the world and for her perseverance in order to identify concrete ways to express the solidarity of her and other European countries towards us. I have been over 43 years in the non-violent resistance against the regime: believe me that I have never met a diplomat more committed to the human rights and democracy cause while being accredited in our country, with the risk of expulsion”.
Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez , highlighted on CAECILIA WIJGERS: “her dynamism, laboriousness and her affinity with the Cuban temperament, were important elements for her to establish work and friendship bonds with our citizenry. She promoted and supported, both in word and work, numerous projects such as the magazine Convivencia, the alternative blogosphere, independent journalism and civil society in general. She organized many conferences and exchanges among dissidents groups who otherwise would not have had a place of tolerance where to meet”.
Regarding the Swedish diplomat, the blogger expressed: “He stood out for his commitment and support towards Cuban civil society groups. During his stay in Cuba he promoted the dialogue with the opposition and other political, artistic and informative events. We owe him the opening of the Internet center in the Swedish embassy that over a hundred people make use of every week. He came to be a great expert on our country's culture, he is a man of a great sensibility for the arts and letters. At his home many events, meetings, remembrances and numerous exchanges took place, just when many other diplomats closed their doors to civil society and opposition”.
And finally, on the German diplomat, the many times awarded for her defense of freedom of expression in Cuba, acknowledged that “his stay in Cuba coincided with moments of a lot of tension and high levels of repression against dissident groups. Voker was victim of a defamation campaign, his face and name appeared on Cuban television accompanied by strong accusations. Many times he joined Ladies in White in their demonstrations and he was a persistent promoter of new ways of information and expression”.
Eugenio Leal , from Grupo Veritas of psicosocial research in Cuba, pointed out that thanks to Mrs. Caecilia Wijgers “we all had a 2 hour access to Internet in a fixed weekday, in the place she opened for that end in the embassy. Moreover, she was always available to listen and very respectfully help us. She stimulated us and helped in the approval of several projects to develop activities and organizations by the emerging civil society. It was usual for her to carry in her car supplies and other materials for independent journalists, librarians and other social promoters in the interior of the country.
Participants of the Cuban civic movement who voted for this award:
Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez (Hablemos Press)
Bárbara Estrabao Bichilí (CCDHRN)
Juan del Pilar Goberna (CCDHRN)
Máximo Omar Ruíz Matoses, ex-prisionero político (CCDHRN)
José Agramonte Leyva, Observatorio para las Provincias Centro-Orientales (CCDHRN)
Arturo Acosta Guillén, Observatorio para las Provincias Orientales (CCDHRN)
Jesús Escandell, ex-líder sindical a nivel nacional (CCDHRN)
Víctor Escobar González (CCDHRN)
Domingo Pellicer Ocen (CCDHRN)
Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz (CCDHRN)
Ricardo del Pino Barban (Comité Cubano Pro derechos Humanos en Cuba)
Aimée Cabrera (periodista)
Vladimiro Roca (PSDC)
Héctor Palacios Ruiz (periodista)
René Gómez Manzano, ex preso político (abogado)
Idania Yañez Contreras
Jorge Olivera Castillo, ex preso político (periodista)
Julio Aleaga Pesant
Ana Margarita Perdigón Brito (Periodista independiente)
Miriam Leiva (periodista)
Oscar Espinosa Chepe, ex preso político (economista)
Gustavo Pardo Valdés (Academia Cubana de Altos Estudios Masónicos)
Miguel Iturria Savón (bloguero Voces Cubanas)
Guillermo Fariñas Hernández (Grupo Veritas)
Licet Zamora Carrandi (Grupo Veritas)
Carlos Valhueldi Obregón (Grupo Veritas)
Rafael Pérez González (Grupo Veritas)
Filiberto Pérez del Sol (Grupo Veritas)
Ramón Jiménez Arencibia (Grupo Veritas)
Clara Pérez Gómez (Grupo Veritas)
Ismeli Iglesias Martínez (Grupo Veritas)
Hugo Araña Sanchoyerto (Grupo Veritas)
Dimas Castellano Martí (Grupo Veritas)
Miriam Celaya González (Grupo Veritas)
Katia Sonia Martinez Véliz (Grupo Veritas)
Ricardo Santiago Medina Salabaria (Grupo Veritas)
Lidia Marta Cortizas Jiménez (Grupo Veritas)
Juan Eugenio Leal García (Grupo Veritas)
Lucas Garve (periodista independiente)
Leonel Alberto Pérez Belette
Laura Pollán (Damas de Blanco)
Laritza Diversent (periodista)
Odelin Alfonso Torna
Juan Carlos Linares Balmaseda
Aini Martin Valero
Luis Felipe Rojas
Juan González Febles (periodista)
Berta Soler (Dama de Blanco)
Oswaldo Payá (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación)
José Antonio Fornaris
Amarilis C. Rey
César Antonio de la Osa
Teresa de Paz
Adolfo Pablo Borraza Chaple
Yoani Sánchez (Generación Y)
Reinaldo Escobar (periodista)
Virgilio Toledo López (Revista Convivencia)
Karina Gálvez (Revista Convivencia)
Jesuhadín Pérez (Revista Convivencia)
Maikel Iglesias (Revista Convivencia)
Livia Gálvez (Revista Convivencia)
Olga Lidia López Lazo (Revista Convivencia)
Juan Carlos Fernández (Proyecto VideoConvivencia)
Irene Jerez, (Proyecto VideoConvivencia)
Arian Domínguez (Proyecto VideoConvivencia)
Sergio Abel Suárez (Proyecto VideoConvivencia)
Margarita Galvez (Proyecto "Imprima una")
Hortensia Cires (Proyecto "Imprima una")
Luis Cáceres (Proyecto "Imprima una")
Marianela Gómez, (Proyecto "Imprima una")
Sironay González, (Proyecto "Imprima una")
Elena Rosito, (Tertulias de Formación Cívica)
Fernando Martínez Heredia, (Programa cultural Libertad y Revista Renacer)
Dagoberto Valdez Jr., (Revista Convivencia)
Dagoberto Valdez, (Revista Convivencia)
Gueddy Carlos Fernández, (Grupo Musical Verde Granuja)
Néstor Pérez, (Cooperativa Campesina La Isleña)
Juan Pablo Pérez, (Cooperativa Campesina La Isleña)
Ariel Pérez, (Cooperativa Campesina La Isleña)
Luisa Pérez, (Cooperativa Campesina La Isleña)
Alfredo Pérez, (Cooperativa Campesina La Isleña)
Servando Blanco Martínez, (Proyecto Estudio de Grabaciones Musicales y Videos)
José Alberto Alvarez Bravo, (Casa del Periodista Independiente)
Julio Antonio Rojas Portal, (periodista)
Víctor Manuel Domínguez García
Alejandrina García de la Rivas, (Dama de Blanco)
Magaly Norvis Otero Suarez, (periodista)
Yanerys Pérez Rey, (Dama de Blanco)
Doralis Alvarez Soto, (periodista)
Enilda Tanquero, (Dama de Blanco)
Miriam Espinosa del Valle, (Dama de Blanco)
Odalys Sanabria Rodríguez, (Dama de Blanco)
Lázara Mitjans Cruz, (Dama de Blanco)
Mercedes Fresneda Castillo, (Activista de DDHH)
Sonia Garro Alfonso, (Activista de DDHH)
Maira Morejón Hernández, (Dama de Apoyo)
Ivonne Malleza Galano, (Dama de Apoyo)
Juana Gómez Riego, (Dama de Apoyo)
Marielys Pérez Torres, (Dama de Apoyo)
Margarita Almírola, (Dama de Apoyo)
Petra Serafina Díaz, (Dama de Blanco)
Julia Estrella Aramburo Taboas, (Dama de Blanco)
Belkis Nuñez Fajardo, (Dama de Blanco)
Jeydi Coca Quesada, (Dama de apoyo)
Inés Quezada Lemur, (Dama de apoyo)
Lilia Castañer Hernández, (Dama de Blanco)
Niurka Luque Alvarez, (Dama de Blanco)
Maritza Castro, (Dama de Blanco)
Duquesa Suárez, (Dama de apoyo)
Blanca Hernández Moya, (Dama de Blanco)
Nancy Pérez Avila, (Dama de apoyo)
Ana Rosa Ledea Ríos, (Dama de Blanco)
Laura María Labrada Pollán, (Dama de Blanco)
Yadira Rodríguez Bombino, (Dama de apoyo)
Rosario Rosales Gonzalez, (Dama de apoyo)
Dulce María Díaz Quintana, (Dama de apoyo)
Loyda Valdés, (Dama de Blanco)
Odalys González Maya, (Dama de apoyo)
Camila Arnajo Molina, (Dama de apoyo)
María Elena González Fernández, (Dama de apoyo)
María Julia Villate Alvarez, (Activista de DDHH)
Yordis Riva Sepúlveda, (Dama de apoyo)
María Cristina Labrada Varona, (Dama de Blanco)
Sandra Guerra, (Dama de apoyo)
Marlene Guerra, (Dama de apoyo)
Leonor Reina, (Dama de apoyo)
Mirta Colá, (Dama de apoyo)
Tania Maceda, (Dama de Blanco)
Felix Bonne Carcasses, (Activista de DDHH)