Previous entries in this series were about Cubans trying to change the system nonviolently. The first entry concerned Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a humble bricklayer turned courageous human rights defender who paid the ultimate price in 2010 for speaking truth to power. The second entry focused on Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, a Catholic lay activist, nonviolence icon, husband, father of three and the founder of a Cuban opposition movement that shook up the Castro regime with a petition drive demanding that human rights be respected and recognized in Cuba. This action and speaking truth to power led to his extrajudicial killing in 2012. The third entry focused on one of the great crimes of the Castro regime that has been well documented by international human rights organizations and reported on ABC News Nightline that claimed the lives of 37 men, women, and children. They were trying to flee the despotism in Cuba to live in freedom and were extrajudicially executed. In the fourth focused on an act of state terrorism when two planes were shot down on a Saturday afternoon at 3:21 and 3:27 on February 24, 1996 over international airspace while engaged in a search and rescue flight for Cuban rafters killing four humanitarians. Their planes were destroyed by air-to-air missiles fired by a Cuban MiG-29 aircraft on the orders of Raul and Fidel Castro.
In the fifth focused on Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Wilman Villar Mendoza who died on hunger strike protesting his unjust imprisonment on January 19, 2012 at the age of 31 left behind two little girls, a young wife and grieving mother. The sixth entry focused on one of the many non-Cuban victims of Cuban communism. Joachim Løvschall was studying Spanish in Havana in the spring of 1997. He was gunned down by a soldier of the Castro regime in Havana, Cuba twenty years ago. The identity of the soldier was never revealed to Joachim's family. No one was ever brought to justice. The seventh entry focused on a young woman, Yunisledy Lopez Rodriguez, who tried to warn a friend who was being targeted by the secret police for a violent end. They went to the authorities to make a formal complaint, but nothing happened. Four months later she was murdered in front of her two children stabbed 18 times. Eight months later her friend was the victim of a brutal machete attack and nearly killed. Yunisledy was just 23 years old. The eighth entry focused on Yuriniesky Martínez Reina, a young men shot in the back and killed by a state security agent in 2015. His "crime"? Building a boat with other friends to flee the Castro dictatorship and live in freedom. The ninth entry focused on student leader Pedro Luis Boitel, who fought by Fidel Castro's side to bring an end to the Batista dictatorship and restore Cuban democracy. However as Castro came to impose a communist regime on Cuba and to achieve that the University could no longer be a bastion of academic freedom and independent student activism. This led to this young man opposing the regime and being sent to prison for 11 years in 1961. He served his sentence, but the dictatorship refused to free him. This drove Pedro Luis Boitel to start a hunger strike that ended in his death in 1972.
|Fidel Castro lounging with Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia in 1977|
During 1977-78, a conservative estimate of over 30,000 Africans perished as a result of the Red Terror unleashed in Ethiopia by the communists and their Cuban allies. Amnesty International concluded that "this campaign resulted in several thousand to perhaps tens of thousands of men, women, and children killed, tortured, and imprisoned." Sweden's Save the Children Fund lodged a formal protest in early 1978 denouncing the execution of 1,000 children, many below the age of thirteen, whom the communist government had labeled "liaison agents of the counter revolutionaries." Donald R. Katz in the September 21, 1978 Rolling Stone article "Ethiopia After the Revolution: Vultures Return to the Land of Sheba" gave the following description of the wave of terror and repression unleashed by Mengistu.
"Toward the middle of last year , Mengistu pulled out all the stops. "It is an historical obligation," he said then, "to clean up vigilantly using the revolutionary sword." He announced that the shooting was about to start and that anyone in the middle would be caught in the cross fire. In what came to be known as the "Red Terror," he proceeded to round up all those who opposed the military regime. According to Amnesty International, the Dergue killed over 10,000 people by the end of the year. One anti-government party, mostly made up of students and teachers, was singled out as 'the opposition.'"
Fidel and Raul Castro were both deeply involved in sending 17,000 Cuban troops to South Africa to assist Mengistu in consolidating his rule and eliminating actual and potential opposition. The last Cuban troops did not leave Ethiopia until 1989 and were present and complicit in the engineered famine that took place there. Cuban troops would round up starving Ethiopian farmers when they got close to the cities, with grain stores, and drove them back out into the countryside to starve.
|Raul and Fidel Castro with war criminal Mengistu|
Africa Watch (the precursor to Human Rights Watch’s Africa Division) analyzed Ethiopian counter-insurgency operations in this period and found that they followed a four-pronged approach: i) the forced displacement of much of the civilian population into shelters and protected villages; ii) military offensives against people and economic assets outside the shelters; iii) the sponsoring of insurgent groups against the WSLF and Somali government; and iv) attempts to promote the repatriation of refugees.23 In December 1979, a new Ethiopian military offensive, this time including Soviet advisors and Cuban troops, “was more specifically directed against the population’s means of survival, including poisoning and bombing waterholes and machine gunning herds of cattle.”24Mengistu was found guilty of genocide in Ethiopia on December 12, 2006, and was sentenced to life in prison in January 2007. He was sentenced to death in absentia on May 26, 2008 following an appeal. Mengistu currently resides in Zimbabwe under the protection of African dictator Robert Mugabe. Question now arises that if Mugabe is forced to resign, will the new government turnover the now 80-year old war criminal to Ethiopian authorities to face justice?
In the same manner that Fidel Castro defended the revolution in Cuba in the early 1960s exterminating Cuban peasants who resisted the imposition of communist rule, with the critical help of 400 Russian advisors, and forcibly moved populations around. This practice was repeated in Ethiopia. "Resettlement was portrayed as a key part of the government’s relief efforts, although it was in fact a component of their counterinsurgency strategy (similar resettlement programs had occurred in southeast Ethiopia and Eritrea). This blunt policy of “draining the sea to catch the fish” occurred in three phases: November 1984 – May 1985, October 1985 – January 1986, and November 1987 – March, 1988."
|The Castro brothers were involved in genocide and terror in Ethiopia|
Mengistu participated in a successful military coup against the U.S.-backed Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, eventually seizing power on Feb. 3, 1977,by massacring his rivals in the officer corps. Castro admired this bloody deed as a preemptive strike against “rightists” that showed “wisdom” and cleared the way for Cuba to support Mengistu “without any constraints,” as he explained to East German dictator Erich Honecker in an April 1977 meeting whose minutes became public after the fall of European communism. [...] With the Cuban forces watching his back, Mengistu wrapped up his bloody campaign of domestic repression, known as “the Red Terror,” and sent his own Soviet-equipped, Cuban-trained troops to crush a rebellion in Eritrea. The last Cuban troops did not leave Ethiopia until September 1989; they were still on hand as hundreds of thousands died during the 1983-1985 famine exacerbated by Mengistu’s collectivization of agriculture.