They write letters . . . : Ricardo Bofill fought for human rights in Cuba

Ricardo Bofill

A letter to the editors of The Miami Herald by the Executive Director of the Center for a Free Cuba, John Suarez:

Ricardo Bofill, the founder of the human-rights movement in Cuba, passed away in Miami on July 12. Friends of freedom owe him a debt of gratitude. On Jan. 28, 1976, a new type of struggle for freedom was initiated when Bofill founded the Cuban Committee for Human Rights.

The committee began to document human-rights cases and send them to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International and other organizations at a time that executions were taking place.

These reports led to a visit by the U.N. Human Rights Commission to Cuba in 1988. Bofill was able to reach Cubans on the island in large numbers through Radio Martí, informing them they had a right to meet with the visiting delegation.

Many victims of repression met with the commission. This led to a more than 400-page report on systematic human-rights violations in Cuba.

I had the honor of meeting Bofill while a student at Florida International University in the early 1990s, as I was beginning the journey to learn about the freedom struggle in Cuba.

I visited him in his humble home in the Shenandoah neighborhood where I met his devoted wife, Yolanda, who cared for him through all these years. I video-interviewed him and asked him about the origins of the Committee.

Hours before his death, while testifying before a Congressional hearing, I was asked about the importance of Radio Martí.

I referred to Bofill’s observation that the station marked a before-and-after in the Cuban freedom movement: Cubans were able to listen to voices of Cuban human-rights defenders transmitted to the island. One of those voices was Ricardo Bofill’s.

John Suarez,
executive director,
Center for a Free Cuba
Falls Church, VA

1 thought on “They write letters . . . : Ricardo Bofill fought for human rights in Cuba”

  1. Bofill hasn’t received due credit for being such a pioneer when doing so was even riskier than now. Initially the regime tried to smear him and discredit him on the island, but that only made him better known there. The tactic changed to continual harassment, so that he basically couldn’t leave his house–until he was driven to leave the island, which is what the bastards wanted. However, he remained active and effective in denouncing human rights abuses in forums like Geneva, until his health deteriorated. May he rest in peace.

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