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realclearworld

Cuba’s Black Spring of 2003: 10 years later

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Ten years ago today the Castro dictatorship in Cuba launched an island-wide operation to violently crackdown on Cuban opposition leaders and independent journalist. In total, 75 innocent Cubans were arrested and given long prison sentences -- as much as 25 years -- simply for exercising free speech. The day, March 18, 2003, came to be known as the Black Spring of 2003 and it sparked an international backlash against the Castro dictatorship that they did not expect.

In spite of the severe criticism, many of these brave human rights activists remained imprisoned by the Castro dictatorship until 2011. That is when Cuba's Catholic Church, led by Cardinal Jaime Ortega, intervened and worked out a sinister plan with dictator Raul Castro to finally deal with the regime's public relations disaster. The plan was to release all the remaining prisoners incarcerated during the Black Spring and forcibly send them into permanent exile in another country. After years of beatings and tortures in a Castro gulag, many of the prisoners of conscience understandably accepted the terms of their release. A handful, however, like Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, Guido Sigler Amaya, and Angel Moya, refused to trade their unjust imprisonment for unjust forced exile. Naturally, these political prisoners were the last to be released, and to this day, they remain on "parole," not allowed to leave the country unless it is permanently and their every move carefully watched.

Other prisoners of conscience were not so lucky. Orlando Zapata Tamayo never lived long enough to be offered expulsion from his own country in exchange for liberty. In 2010, the Castro dictatorship murdered Zapata Tamayo in prison. His body severely weakened by a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment, the Cuban regime denied Zapata Tamayo water while subjecting him to vicious beatings. It was only when his organs began to fail that the Cuban authorities transferred him to a prison hospital. By then, however, it was too late.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo was martyred on February 23, 2010.

Ten years after Cuba's Black Spring, not much has changed in Cuba. The Castro dictatorship remains as brutal and repressive as it was ten years ago. The prisons on the island remain filled with political prisoners who are tortured and beaten on an almost daily basis. Yearly, human rights activists are arrested by the thousands and dozens of female opposition members are sexually violated. And sadly, the Castro dictatorship continues to murder its opponents.

The tenth anniversary of the Black Spring is a reminder that Cuba remains smothered under the same darkness.

More coverage of the 10th Anniversary of Cuba's Black Spring:

Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter: The Cuban Black Spring: A Personal Reflection

Uncommon Sense: 10 years later, Cuba remains under the Castro 'black spring'

Punt de Vista: 10 aniversario de la Primavera Negra de #Cuba

Yoani Sanchez in The Miami Herald: Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez recalls Black Spring detentions

1 comment to Cuba’s Black Spring of 2003: 10 years later

  • Gallardo

    Rest assure, Cuba had more than 75 political prisoners in 2003 (and every year), these are simply the ones that went balls out and made a name for themselves; and as a result, they are the ones that cause a "public relations" problem. Yet, what "public relations problem"? Do people still don't know that Cuba is under a stalinist tyranny since 1959/60? For how long are the likes of Canada, Spain, and the entire joke of the U.N. willing to play stupid? What "Black Spring", it's been more like Cuba's Dark Ages since 1959.

    All of it is ultimately more heat and embarrassment for foreign nations that do business with Castro than to the very Castros. If you ask me, Spain had more interest in getting those people out of Cuba and looking humanitarian for it.

    The poor negro in the street who one day said something a little too loud, the adolescent recorded on camera desecrating a propaganda poster with an anti-revolutionary message after snapping from hearing enough bullshit at school, or the one who told the neighborhood snitch to go f*ck herself along with Castro will also be processed but will not be in any picture outside of Cuba.

    Granted, many times these incidents happen and the police lets them slide because they happen daily and after 54 years neither do they feel scared by them but once in a while they must strike to keep people in fear and not have it escalade beyond their control.

    The fact is that when the communists took over Cuba the island only had 11 prisons, today it has over 300. In a policed state that is allegedly exempt from drug related crime we know why the prisons are full, plenty, and all housing much more than 75 political prisoners.

    Castro has done in Cuba as he pleased and with the support and financing of the entire world for the last 23 years (the allege representatives of democracy). That is something Cuba must never forget specially when it finally comes time to make up for it.

    If it was me "Yes, we launder money, look the other way on traffickers, have become a tax haven, allow everyone to be armed, and if you don't like it go eat a d%ck. Anyone of you is going to invade now? Let's see it and let's see how much more foreign mingling and hallow talk of "friendship" the Cuban population is willing to take from people who carelessly and needlessly implanted and protected a slavish communist clan for 54 years which has agonized and ruined our republic- the result of an utilitarian and two-face foreign policy that irresponsibly betrayed a corrupt yet productive and friendly government, who like its people, erroneously favored, yielded, and trusted in USA despite never deserving neither."