Remembering the victims of communism in Cuba: Wilman Villar Mendoza

John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Remembering some of the victims of Cuban communism: Wilman Villar Mendoza

“When one man dies it’s a tragedy. When thousands die it’s statistics.” – Josef Stalin

Wilman Villar Mendoza: May 30, 1980 – January 19, 2012

Some psychologists argue that as the number of victims increase into the hundreds, and thousands that compassion collapses out of the human fear of being overwhelmed. Soviet dictator Josef Stalin put it more succinctly: “When one man dies it’s a tragedy. When thousands die it’s statistics.” In the case of Cuba the communist regime has killed tens of thousands, and many have become numb in the face of this horror. Therefore on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the first communist regime in Russia, that caused so much harm around the world, will focus on the small corner of Cuba and on an infinitesimal sampling of some of the victims of Cuban communism.

In this fifth entry will focus on a Amnesty International prisoner of conscience who died on hunger strike protesting his unjust imprisonment in 2012.

Previous entries in this series where about Cubans trying to change the system nonviolently. The first entry concerned Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a humble bricklayer turned courageous human rights defender who paid the ultimate price in 2010 for speaking truth to power. The second entry focused on Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, a Catholic lay activist, nonviolence icon, husband, father of three and the founder of a Cuban opposition movement that shook up the Castro regime with a petition drive demanding that human rights be respected and recognized in Cuba. This action and speaking truth to power led to his extrajudicial killing in 2012. The third entry focused on one of the great crimes of the Castro regime that has been well documented by international human rights organizations and reported on ABC News Nightline that claimed the lives of 37 men, women, and children. They were trying to flee the despotism in Cuba to live in freedom and were extrajudicially executed. In the fourth focused on an act of state terrorism when two planes were shot down on a Saturday afternoon at 3:21 and 3:27 on February 24, 1996 over international airspace while engaged in a search and rescue flight for Cuban rafters killing four humanitarians. Their planes were destroyed by air-to-air missiles fired by a Cuban MiG-29 aircraft on the orders of Raul and Fidel Castro.

On Sunday, January 15, 2012 (on Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday) a large group of the Ladies in White were brutally beaten up and detained as they marched from the Cobre to the hospital Juan Bruno Zayas calling for the release of Wilman Villar Mendoza and that his life be saved. Wilman has been on a hunger strike for over 50 days protesting his unjust imprisonment. Comparisons are being drawn between his plight and that of the late prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo.

Four days later he was dead. On January 19, 2012 two little girls lost their dad; a young wife her husband; and a mother her son. Wilman Villar Mendoza died after his kidneys and other organs failed. He died, the result of a prolonged hunger strike provoked by outrage over a profound injustice committed against him by the communist regime in Cuba. He was just 31 years old.

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