SPRING STRAIGHT TO WINTER IN CASTRO’S CUBA
For decades we have honored the heroes of the 1968 Prague Spring and their righteous fight against the Soviet Union. And just this decade, we have watched reformers adopt the mantle of the Arab Spring and throw off decades of oppressive rule. However, we are reminded that winter sometimes follows a political spring. It would take another 20 years for Prague and the rest of Eastern Europe finally to throw the Soviets out. And the revolutions in the Arab world are still in the process of defining themselves, particularly in Egypt and Libya. But the heroes of Cuba’s Black Spring deserve particular honor as we mark the tenth anniversary of their protests. We can only hope that the suffering they have endured will soon be over, ushering in a season of freedom.
This week in 2003, a group of courageous activists peacefully petitioned the government of Cuba, asking for political reforms and respect for basic human rights. In reaction, Castro’s government tossed 75 of them into jail, where torture and mistreatment were reported (here and here). In his Freedom Collection interview, Regis Iglesias Ramirez described his “trial” as a “judicial farce.” The last of the brave 75 was released in 2011 but countless other political prisoners remain locked away for no reason other than their desire to live in a free nation.
In a welcome coincidence, Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez was in the United States this week. Sanchez was one of the first dissidents to take advantage of the new opportunity to travel outside of Cuba. Much less publicized has been the visit of Rosa Maria Paya to Europe, where she has put the spotlight on the circumstances surrounding the death in 2012 of her father, dissident Oswaldo Paya. Ms. Paya contends her father’s death was not an accident and is attempting to gather the evidence.
The cynical Castro regime has claimed that they will allow Cubans to travel freely as part of their “reform” effort, but we can be sure that the decision to allow Sanchez, Paya, and others to travel was less about freedom and more about hard currency and the desire to embarrass their opponents. As we could have expected, some dissidents, including Dr. Oscar Biscet, have not been allowed to take advantage of this “reform” and are still being denied the right to go abroad by the regime.
Sanchez and Paya’s time abroad should be a priceless reminder that there are many fighting both within and outside Cuba for the beginning of a true spring of freedom.
Kent Patton is the Freedom Collection Blog Editor.
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