The following was written by Marc Masferrer and published at Uncommon Sense in recognition of the sixth anniversary of the 2003 crackdown on independent journalists and dissidents in Cuba known as the 75. This post will remain at the top today, for newer posts, please scroll down.
Today, the 6-year anniversary of the start of the “black spring,” show your support for Cuban political prisoners and the Damas De Blanco (“Ladies In White”), which have dedicated themselves to advocating for their imprisoned loved ones, by wearing something white. Please spread the word.
Some 75 Cuban journalists, librarians, human rights activists and other dissidents were arrested and imprisoned during the “black spring,” which started March 18, 2003. Fifty-four of them remain in Raul Castro’s gulag. (The 55th, Oscar Elias Biscet, was actually arrested in December 2002, and during the “black spring” was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison.)
There are hundreds, if not thousands more political prisoners jailed in Cuba because of their opposition to tyranny and dedication to freedom. Their suffering is no less that that experienced by those arrested during the “black spring,” and they are no less deserving of your prayers and solidarity. (You can read about many of them by clicking on the names on the right side of this page.)
But the Group of 75 — which now stands at 55, after a series of medical paroles and Reinaldo Labrada Peña completing his sentence — is deserving of special consideration because they were at the front lines of the struggle to bring real change to Cuba, to bring nothing less than real democracy, freedom and human rights, whether they were activists gathering signatures for the Varela Project or journalists telling the story of Cuba, the real Cuba, for the world to know.
The dictatorship could not stand it so, as the world focused on the imminent U.S. invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003, Fidel Castro, the Darth Vader of the Caribbean, struck back, and struck back hard, arresting 75 dissidents and sentencing them to prison terms of up to 28 years for daring to oppose his dicatorship.
And the world barely raised a whisper of protest. The United Nations subsequently elected Cuba to its Human Rights Council, the European Union repealed diplomatic sanctions against Havana and the Vatican’s No. 2 man has even praised Raul Castro as some sort of reformer!
Fidel Castro’s action in 2003 was not just an attack on Cuban liberty, it was an assault of freedom everywhere. As long as a single Cuban is jailed because of something he wrote or because he believed every Cuban should have a real vote, we are all less free.
To appease the tyranny in Havana and expect a change in behavior by the dictatorship is as deplorable as the crimes committed by the Castros.
So that’s why it is incumbent we all do something on behalf of the Group of 55:
Tell someone why the embargo should remain in place.
Tell someone that Raul Castro is no different than his big brother.
Tell someone Oscar Biscet’s story. And those of his fellow prisoners.
Say a prayer.
Do something. Your freedom, our freedom, the freedom of the Group of 55, depends on it.
The Group of 55 is:
*Oscar Elias Biscet was arrested in December 2002, and during the “black spring” he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison.