Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cuba: The Continuing Tragedy

Cuba's Prisoners of Conscience

Rescue crews at plane crash site in Cuba
In the midst of mourning for the 68 passengers who died this past Thursday in a plane crash in Central Cuba we must not forget another ongoing tragedy that continues to unfold. Despite a pledge to free all the prisoners of conscience arrested in 2003 the Cuban dictatorship has not fulfilled its promise.

Meeting between representatives of Catholic Church and Cuban dictatorship

According to the agreement reached with the Catholic Church on July 7, 2010 the Cuban regime pledged that "the 47 remaining prisoners of those who were arrested in 2003, will be released and may leave the country." The agreement went on to specify that the prisoners would be released within "three to four months from now." The four month mark has been reached and 13 prisoners of conscience arrested in 2003 are still in prison, apparently because they want to stay in Cuba.

Rafael Ibarra Roque, unjustly imprisoned for 14 years

A fourteenth prisoner of conscience, Rafael Ibarra Roque, who has served 14 years of a 20 year prison sentence was offered his freedom conditioned upon going into exile which he refused and denounced as blackmail.

Furthermore, Miami's Archbishop Thomas Wenski returned from Cuba with sobering news. Raul Castro disapproved of Archbishop Wenski's statement in the El Nuevo Herald that the July 7 agreement with the Cuban Catholic Church was a step towards greater civil society participation in Cuba.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo

The bottom line is that it was the sacrifice of Orlando Zapata Tamayo combined with the brutal assaults on the Ladies in White that led to both national and international pressures being brought to bear on the dictatorship that forced the regime to the negotiating table with the Catholic Church in July 2010.

Ladies in White

Anatoli Marchenko, the Soviet dissident who died on hunger strike in 1986, was correct in his observation with regards to the Soviet Union when he said: "I am convinced that publicity is the sole effective means of combating the evil and lawlessness which is rampant in my country today." Sadly, it appears to apply to Cuba today.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Also, today in Burma (Myanmar) sham "elections" are being held in a desperate attempt by the military junta (dictatorship) to legitimize itself, but thankfully the world is not buying into the lie. In honor of Aung San Suu Kyi, the last actual democratically elected president still under house arrest, remember her words for Burma and also apply them to Cuba: 'please use your liberty to promote ours'.

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