Talk of lifting Cuba embargo brings memories of brutality

Guillermo Martinez in the Sun-Sentinel:

Talk of lifting Cuba embargo brings memories of brutality

“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” (George Santayana)

A good friend includes the quote from George Santayana at the end of all his e-mails.

It is worthwhile remembering it as those seeking rapprochement with Cuba push ahead with their campaign to have President Barack Obama ease restrictions on travel and commerce with Cuba, inasmuch as they don’t have the support in Congress to lift the embargo.

The latest to join the fray is former first lady, former Secretary of State and likely presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who in her recently released book argues that the Cuban embargo is “holding back our broader agenda across Latin America.”

One could ask Ms. Clinton: “What Latin American agenda.” That would be unfair, for the United States hasn’t had one in decades.

What is most troubling about what Ms. Clinton and other academics, politicians, and some Cuban millionaires do not talk about is what has happened each time the subject of lifting the embargo comes up.

In May of 2014, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation reported the detention of 1,120 dissidents in May alone. More than in any other month other than December of 2013 when 1,123 dissidents had been detained, beaten and harassed.

“A record 3,821 short-term arrests of Cuban dissidents were reported in the first four months of this year, continuing a surprisingly sharp increase in detentions under ruler Raúl Castro,” the island’s top human rights group reported.

Among those arrested were some of Cuba’s best-known pro-democracy activists. They include: Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, also known as “Antúnez,” his wife, Yris Perez Aguilera, Ladies in White spokesperson Berta Soler, and her husband, Angel Moya.

Antúnez, who spent 17 years in jail as a prisoner of conscience, has been frequently detained, beaten and harassed by the Cuban government. This time he was interrogated, thrown against walls, strangled twice until he passed out and injected with unknown substances. The only difference is that this time he and his wife Iris were not released after a brief detention.

This time the Cuban government is holding them for trial, accused of promoting a document signed by 830 democracy advocates in Cuba opposing recent efforts to ease U.S. sanctions towards Cuba.

They are not alone.

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