Sunday, February 19, 2012

February in Cuba: Month of Martyrs

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living." - Cicero

"To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” - Elie Wiesel, Night

People ask what is one to think of changes in Cuba? One change that has taken place over the past two years is the rising body count of nonviolent dissidents dead under sinister circumstances.

The month of February is particularly poignant this year:


One month ago today Cuban pro-democracy activist Wilman Villar Mendoza age 31, husband to Maritza Pelegrino Cabrera and father of 2 little girls died on hunger strike in Cuba. He was a prisoner of conscience, but the regime as it had done earlier with the case of Orlando Zapata Tamayo carried out a campaign to slander the martyred activist.


Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a human rights defender, died two years ago on February 23, 2010 after being systematically tortured and driven into a hunger strike as a last recourse to save his life and dignity. During the water only hunger strike prison officials took his water away contributing to his death. The dictatorship then engaged in an international slander campaign against him and his family.


Laura Inés Pollán Toledo would've turned 64 years old on February 13 but instead she died, under what her husband Hector Maseda described as strange circumstances, on October 14, 2011. Laura Pollán was one of the founders of the Ladies in White, a movement that forced the Cuban government to the negotiating table to release their loved ones beginning in July 2010. Laura had the leadership skills to be an alternative to the Castro brothers.

Armando, Mario, Carlos and Pablo

Finally, the 24th of this month marks the day sixteen years ago that two Brothers to the Rescue planes, part of an organization that saved thousands of fleeing rafters, were shot down over international airspace on the orders of Fidel and Raul Castro killing Armando Alejandre Jr. (age 45), Carlos Alberto Costa ( age 29), Mario Manuel de la Peña (age 24), and Pablo Morales (age 29). This act of state terrorism was achieved thanks in part to intelligence gathered by a Cuban spy network codenamed "Avispa" which means "Wasp" in English.

People of goodwill have an obligation to remember the victims of injustice and speak for those who no longer can in demanding justice. Join the call to action.

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