From the Wall Street Journal:
Conscience Against Castro
Cuba tries to silence a dissident ahead of Pope Benedict’s visit.
The Castro brothers have given a homework assignment to Benedict XVI. On Thursday morning, days before the Pope is due to visit Cuba, Havana’s political police delivered a summons to the home of Oscar Elías Biscet, one of the country’s most eloquent dissidents.
A devout Christian, Dr. Biscet has spent most of his days since 1999 in one dungeon or another. He’s been out of prison since last March, but Thursday’s police visit comes one day after he published an op-ed on these pages, “A Cuban’s Prayer for Pope Benedict.” Our information at press time was that he had not answered the summons.
Dr. Biscet’s activism was driven initially by opposition to Cuba’s widespread use of abortifacients. One such drug, rivanol, often resulted in live births—followed by the gruesome hospital murder of the newborns.
In short order he lost his job and his home, saw his wife harassed, suffered beatings from Castro’s men, and entered Cuba’s penal system. There he documented the treatment of political prisoners.
From his op-ed this week: “I personally witnessed prisoners left for 12-24 hours with their hands and feet handcuffed behind their backs, stripped naked in groups without any regard for human modesty, tortured physically and psychologically with tasers, beaten to death for requesting basic medical attention, and kept for months in cells without ventilation, natural light, drinkable water or restroom facilities. If prisoners attempt to push for better treatment, they risk death.”
Having noted that the Catholic Church helped secure his release from prison last year, Dr. Biscet asked Pope Benedict to focus his trip on the Cuban people’s right to free elections. Now Castro’s goons have forced the Vatican’s trip planners to turn at least partial attention to keeping Dr. Biscet out of police hands.
President Obama can keep the pressure on, too. Dr. Biscet was awarded America’s Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007. He was in prison then, and it would be a particular outrage if he were now to return to it with the whole world watching.