Truth and memory
|Protesters march across Cuba in July 2021 [REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini]|
The July 11, 2021, national nonviolent protests in Cuba marked a before and after in Cuban history. Tens of thousands of Cubans across the island demanded an end to the dictatorship, rejected the official slogan Patria o Muerte (Homeland or Death) and chanted Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life).
The reaction of the totalitarian regime was swift and brutal. The Boinas Negras (black berets), formally known as the National Special Brigade of the Ministry of the Interior, were captured on video firing on unarmed protesters.
The dictatorship handed out clubs to regime agents to attack demonstrators. Thousands of nonviolent protesters were detained. Hundreds remain jailed, facing summary trials with prison sentences in excess of 25 years.
The lack of transparency in Cuba has taken on a new urgency in the current context. The International Committee of the Red Cross has not been allowed in Cuban prisons since 1989, and that was a brief period between 1988 and 1989. In comparison, the prison for Al Qaeda prisoners at the U.S. Guantanamo Naval Base had over 100 visits between 2002 and 2014, and continues to the present date.
Cuba is the only country in the Americas where Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other international and regional human rights organizations are unable to visit.
|Prisoner of conscience Virgilio Mantilla Arango|
We remain deeply concerned with the plight of political prisoners such as Virgilio Mantilla Arango, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, and Maykel Castillo Pérez (Osorbo), and their health status. It is also no coincidence that all are black Cubans.
|Maykel Castillo Pérez (Osorbo) and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara|
The one Cuban that the Cuban government recognized was killed during the protests on July 12, 2021, was Diubis Laurencio Tejeda, an unarmed 36-year old Black man, who was shot in the back by a Castro regime official.
The largest numbers of Cubans arrested and processed following the July protests are from predominantly black neighborhoods such as La Güinera, which government officials call “marginal.”
|Diubis Laurencio Tejeda, (age 36) shot in the back by regime officials on July 12, 2021.|
These and other cases raise questions about the racist nature of the Castro regime.
According to the January 13, 2020 article by EuropaPress, based on the Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research, Cuba today has the largest per capita prison population in the world. Although official data is unavailable, it is known that a disproportionate number are black Cubans.
On March 22, 1959, Fidel Castro declared that racism no longer existed in Cuba. To contradict the maximum leader was to be a counter-revolutionary and subject to punishment.
|Castro regime's publication Verde Olivo 1, no. 29 (October 1, 1960)|
Over the next six decades, the communist dictatorship repeatedly claimed that there was no racism in Cuba, despite the fact that poverty disproportionately affects black Cubans, with 95% having the lowest incomes compared to 58% of white Cubans, and black voices continue to be silenced.
This is another reason why we are calling on UN General Assembly members to expel Cuba from the UN Human Rights Council.