Sonia, Ramón, and Niurka, Prisoners of Raúl Castro. By Tania Quintero.
Before the Pope’s visit to Cuba this past March, dozens of regime opposition members were arrested in various provinces. Among those violently detained in Havana were Sonia Garro Alfonso and her husband Ramon Alejandro Muñoz Gonzalez, social and anti-racism activists, along with Niurka Luque Alvarez, who like Sonia, is part of the Ladies in White movement.
Almost all of those arrested were released once the visit by Benedict XVI concluded. However, Sonia, Ramon, and Niurka remain behind bars. The women are in the women’s prison Manto Negro, and he is in the Combinado del Este. They are being held in prison as they wait for their trials. They intend to charge them with “public disorder” and “attempted murder” in order to sentence them to 10 or more years in prison.With these cases, the government of Raul Castro intends to send a message: To give the Cuban dissidence a “lesson,” particularly to those who are the most courageous and spirited.
Nine years after the wave of repression ordered by Fidel Castro in March of 2003 when 75 dissidents and independent journalists were tried and sentenced to long prison terms, once again the support of world public opinion is necessary. This time in support of the release of Sonia Garro, Ramon Muñoz, and Niurka Luque.
Sonia is a black woman. Niurka and Ramon are mulattoes. Their only “crime” is their lack of fear to say out loud what the majority of the population, out of fear, only whispers in their homes: That they are tired of 53 years of poverty, prisons, and repression.
The current generation of Cubans does not want to emigrate. And they want their country to have a democratic and tolerant government; a developing economy; a society where human rights are respected, where there is freedom of association and expression, and the people can eat and live decently without the need to steal, bribe, or participate in the present corruption that exists in all spheres of national life.