Thursday, January 22, 2015

Historic meeting between American and Cuban human rights defenders

Rep. John Lewis, Eddy Acevedo,  Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez, Yris Pérez Aguilera,
Today Mario Diaz-Balart tweeted the image of American civil rights icon Representative John Lewis seated at a table with Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez and  Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera remarking "What a historic moment: Three civil and human rights heroes meeting "  There are images that shock and uplift the imagination. The image above is one of these.

The congressman who half a century ago was being beaten bloody and unjustly jailed while engaged in a nonviolent struggle to end Jim Crow segregation in the Deep South in what became known as the Freedom Rides and later marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965 in the Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights.

Sitting across from him at the same table was Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" who suffered beatings, and spent 17 years and 38 days in prison for his nonviolent defiance of the communist totalitarian dictatorship in Cuba. In 1990 Jorge Luis stood up in a public plaza and called for reforms and was jailed for oral enemy propaganda and would not be released into freedom until 2007. 

Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, whose brother Mario was also a political prisoner, would go on to found the Rosa Parks Women's Movement inspired by the woman whose act of defiance in 1955 propelled a young Baptist minister, Martin Luther King Jr. to national prominence following the Montgomery bus boycott. Yris met her future husband, Antúnez, while visiting her brother in prison. Over the past 15 years she has suffered numerous detentions, beatings, and death threats for her defense of human rights.

Seeing the three of them together seated at the same table is a powerful image.

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