It was eleven years ago, on a spring morning not much different than today’s morning, when the apartheid Castro dictatorship in Cuba launched its island-wide operation to violently crackdown on Cuban opposition leaders and independent journalists. By the time it was all said and done, 75 innocent Cubans were arrested and given long prison sentences — as much as 25 years — for the counterrevolutionary act of exercising free speech. That day, March 18, 2003, was named and continues to be known as the Black Spring of 2003.
Yet another anniversary of Cuba’s Black Spring is upon us but not much has changed in Cuba. The Castro dictatorship is not only as brutal and repressive as it was eleven years ago, in many ways it has become even more brutal and repressive. The prisons continue to overflow with political prisoners and they continue to be tortured and beaten on an almost daily basis. This past year, like the year before it, and the year before that, and so on and so on, human rights activists were arrested by the thousands and dozens of female opposition members were viciously attacked and some even sexually violated by Castro State Security forces. And most disturbing of all, the Castro dictatorship continues to murder and assassinate its opponents.
The eleventh anniversary of the Black Spring is yet another reminder that Cuba remains smothered under the same darkness that enveloped the island fifty-five years ago.
A statement from the offices of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on this dark anniversary:
“This week we recognize that 11 years ago, the brutal Castro regime undertook a violent crackdown on 75 peaceful pro democracy advocates throughout the island, beating and unjustly arresting them to silence their call for freedom. The Castro brothers’ maintain their stranglehold over society in Cuba, demonstrated by their continued persecution of the peaceful Ladies in White whose loved ones were arrested that day, and its arrest of over 1,000 advocates in just 60 days.
“The tyrannical Castro regime hasn’t stopped its continued intimidation, harassment, and persecution of pro-democracy leaders seeking freedom and justice on the island. The Black Spring is a reminder of the brutal tactics of the Castro brothers and should make the Obama Administration reconsider its failed policy of appeasing the Havana regime. The continuing gross human rights violations of the Castro brothers show that until the Cuban people enjoy the freedom to exercise their basic rights, we must remember that this regime is a brutal, violent dictatorship that cannot tolerate dissent.”