The Black Spring of 2003 — Eight Years Later
In the early morning hours of a Tuesday eight years ago today, a black wave of repression began to roll over the island of Cuba from one end to the other. The unstoppable and sinister wave took three days to complete its pass across the archipelago, and when it was over and the damage was assessed, 75 courageous members of the Cuban opposition found themselves behind bars. None of the victims of this brutal crackdown by the Castro regime -- which came to be known as the Black Spring of 2003 -- used violence to bring an end to the communist dictatorship, but were instead peaceful democracy activists, independent journalists, and librarians. To the regime, however, these men represent the most dangerous threat to their stranglehold on power since they wield the only weapon they are vulnerable to and defenseless against: the truth.
Ariel Sigler Amaya has told me the story of those fateful three days in Cuba; on that black spring morning he was one of the first opposition leaders to be arrested. Later that same day, his brothers Miguel and Guido were also arrested and within days the three brothers, along with the rest of the 75, had been charged, tried, and sentenced to more than two decades in a Castro gulag. We have documented the incredible and inspiring story of Ariel and his two brothers here at Babalú many times, but there is nothing I can write that can describe the pain and anguish felt by their mother upon learning that three of her boys had been arrested and condemned to decades of torture and humiliation in a Castro dungeon.
Eight years later, not much has changed in Cuba since those fateful days in 2003. Although most of the 75 brave men arrested during that wave of repression are no longer in a Castro prison, their country continues to be under the yoke of a tyrannical dictatorship. Only a few of the 75 remain in Cuba as the rest have either had to leave the island to seek medical treatment, or have been deported by the regime and forced into exile. Regardless of where these men reside, not one of them believes they are free because eight years later, neither they nor the Cuban people are free in their own country.
Today we remember the anniversary of one of the many dark days in Cuba's history these past 52 years. It is unfortunately, one of many, but one that will nevertheless be remembered along with the rest with sadness as well as reverence. One day soon Cuba will be free, and these 75 men, along with the tens of thousands who stood up to tyranny before them and the many who confronted the brutal dictatorship after them, will be honored and revered as true Cuban patriots. These men and women have never lost hope, and they will never surrender the freedom of Cuba to a diabolical regime. What more can you ask from true patriots?