Thursday, May 18, 2017

Totalitarian repression on the march in Cuba: Claiming new victims and martyrs

Old patterns of repression continue to ensnare new generations 

Clockwise: Harold Cepero, Sayli Navarro, David Mauri, Fếlix Yuniel, Karla Pérez,
Cuban students are expelled from school for refusing to repeat the old tired cliches of the revolution. Fếlix Yuniel Llerena López, a 20 year-old religious freedom defender, was expelled from the Enrique José Varona Pedagogical University in Havana on May 8, 2017 following a visit to the United States. 18-year-old journalism student, Karla Pérez González, was expelled from Marta Abreu University of Santa Clara for “political reasons” on April 12, 2017 and her expulsion ratified three days later on April 15th. 24 year old David Mauri Cardoso was expelled from the University of Cienfuegos in February of 2017 after he honestly answered politically loaded questions in what was supposed to be a Spanish literature exam.

This is not a new tactic. Expelling students and denying them an education for their political orientation has a long and shameful history, too often ignored. Sayli Navarro was expelled from her university in Matanzas for her political views in 2009. On  November 13, 2002 Harold Cepero Escalante and Yoan Columbié Rodriguez,  students in their fourth year of Veterinary Medicine, were expelled from the University of Camagüey and subjected to an act of repudiation after having signed a legal petition for human rights reforms called the Varela Project. This practice is not new. Fidel Castro declared in June of 1961 that outside of the revolution there are no rights. The regime also declared that universities are for revolutionaries.

Prisoner of conscience Eduardo Cardet serving unjust three year prison sentence
It does not end with school. Even professionals who dissent that have life giving skills are imprisoned and not allowed to practice their profession. A medical doctor, Eduardo Cardet, has been jailed since November 30, 2016 for speaking critically about Fidel Castro's legacy in Cuba. There is no independent judiciary in Cuba and the puppet court according to his attorney has affirmed Eduardo's three year prison sentence.  No more appeals.

Pastor Ramon Rigal (on the right) serving a year in prison for homeschooling his kids.
In Cuba not only are students expelled from school for refusing to tow the official line, but parents are jailed for trying to home school. Pastor Ramon Rigal was sentenced on April 25, 2017 to one year in prison for the "crime" of homeschooling his own kids.

Peaceful dissent, and self-expression do not only invite expulsion from school and prison but can lead to an untimely death. Harold Cepero, the 2002 expelled veterinary student, was murdered along with Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, the founding leader of the Christian Liberation Movement,  on July 22, 2012. Less than ten years after his expulsion.

This is Cuba today a totalitarian nightmare that many still try to flee and a few remain to courageously resist. There is nothing romantic about a 58 year old repressive dictatorship.

No comments:

Post a Comment