Fifteen years ago today, Cubans took to the streets in protests along Havana’s famed Malecon, demanding Freedom. You can see video here.
Today, fifteen years later, the people of Cuba are no closer to that freedom, still slaves to the state and in bondage.
Please take this solemn anniversary to help spread the word about the plight of the Cuban people, about the plight of Cuba’s brave dissidents and the plight of Cuban political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
Update: Instalancho! Gracias, Glenn. Welcome Instapundit readers and friends. Thanks for coming by and thanks for helping spread the word.
From our best and steadfast voice for Cuba’s dissidents in exile, Marc Masferrer:
One of the front lines of the Cuban resistance today is the gulag, where hundreds, if not thousands of Cuban men and women are imprisoned not because of any real crime they might have committed, but because they have dared to oppose the Castro dictatorship and demand a better future for themselves, their families and their Cuba.
To commemorate this important anniversary, I am again paying tribute to 55 political prisoners who have been jailed since the “black spring” crackdown of 2003.
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 dictatorship.
And the world barely raised a whisper of protest. The United Nations subsequently elected Cuba to its Human Rights Council and the European Union repealed diplomatic sanctions implemented in response to the crackdown, even though most of those arrested remained in jail. And last year, the Vatican’s No. 2 man 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.
Today, on Cuban Resistance Day, you can do something by joining in the call of those, in Cuba and around the world, opposed to tyranny and fighting for liberty:
“We are the resistance!”
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.
Updated Aug. 5, 2009.