A courageous hero for human rights in Cuba speaks before the UN Human Rights Council

John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Witnessing a hero in action at the United Nations Human Rights Council: Juan Carlos González Leiva

My life is my message. – Mohandas Gandhi

Juan Carlos González Leiva with Mohandas Gandhi in Geneva

Today I was honored and humbled to witness a courageous man in action at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Juan Carlos González Leiva is an attorney and human rights activist who has spent the past 20 years defending the rights of Cubans inside the island. He has been consistently threatened with death, suffered arbitrary detention for two years without trial, received death threats and been subjected that amounts to torture. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Frontline Defenders and the Coalition of Cuban American Women have documented his plight over this time. His family has also been a target of harassment by the dictatorship in Cuba. Many have fled into exile, but Juan Carlos remains in Cuba carrying on the struggle for human rights. The Harvard Crimson in 2003 described him as the conscience of Cuba.

What is remarkable is that a man who lost his sight completely in 1986, at the age of 21 (he had suffered with vision problems since birth) would eight years later begin the life of a dissident and human rights defender in Cuba. Below is the statement that he gave today and in the video one can witness the hostility of the dictatorship towards this man and his courage confronting it. Reading the document in braille he demonstrated a far seeing vision into the reality of Cuba that many with sight refuse or are unable to see.

In a world where so many heroes are manufactured and false it is a powerful experience to see one in action. Listen to the exchange with the diplomat of the Castro regime below at 31:45.

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