Monday, December 5, 2016

Victims of Castroism remembered on Sunday in Miami and Washington DC

Remembering the victims of communism in Cuba on day Castro laid to rest

Last night I had the honor of taking part in a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the victims of Fidel Castro in Cuba organized by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. At the vigil were posters with the images of Laura PollánOswaldo Payá and Mario de la Peña. Present among the participants was Basilio Guzman, a former political prisoner who served 22 years in Castro's prisons.

In Miami and Washington DC people of goodwill gathered to remember the victims of Castroism in Cuba. While many in the media observed the end of the funeral procession for Fidel Castro, without providing historical context, others did provide that necessary analysis.

Posters of  Laura Pollán, Mario de la Peña and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas
Sadly the need for such acts of remembrance by victims of Castroism became painfully evident when the French Environment Minister Segolence Royal representing France at a tribute to Fidel Castro in Santiago, Cuba engaged in the denial of human rights violations in Cuba claiming that there is "religious freedom" and "freedom of conscience."

Minister Royal's claims of "religious freedom" in Cuba comes amidst a report by Christian Solidarity Worldwide that documents 1,606 separate freedom of religion or belief violations between January and July 2016 in Cuba. This marks a worsening of religious repression in Cuba.

Worse yet is her claim of "freedom of conscience" at the very moment that Cubans are being brutally beaten up, arrested, and threatened with 15 year prison terms for expressing their criticism of Fidel Castro's legacy or for just not being mournful enough. Between January and November of 2016 there have been at least 9,125 politically motivated arbitrary detentions in Cuba.

Remembering Oswaldo and other victims of repression
Castroism is a tropical version of Stalinism and has a lot more in common with the regime in North Korea then democratic France. The Castro regime broadcast its mass executions at the start of the dictatorship in 1959 and continued the firing squads until at least 2003. There have also been extrajudicial killings of nonviolent opposition figures such as Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero in 2012. Nonviolent dissidents like Sirley Ávila León in 2015 have been targets of brutal machete attacks in order to silence them.

The death of Fidel Castro was an exercise in symbolism over substance the despite all its efforts the dictatorship failed to pull off when the jeep carrying Castro's remains broke down during the funeral procession and had to be physically pushed by soldiers. It is a fitting metaphor for this failed dictatorship that generated so much terror and harm in Cuba and around the world but failed in providing Cubans with basic services.

Washington DC vigil for victims of communism in Cuba 

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