The Cuban Dissidents.
Recent news about political prisoners in Cuba
Recent news about prisoners of Conscience in Cuba
The dissident movement basically is made up of three main groups:
the political dissidents
the independent journalists
the independent librarians
1. The political dissidents.
Cuba has always know political dissent. From the "comandantes" of the anti-Batista eliminated after the revolution by the Castro - Communist alliance over the millions that "voted with their feet" and fled Cuba to those that tried - in vain - to change the system from within. The "rebellion of the Escambray" by (1960 - 1965) that Castro tries to reduce to acts by a few "bandits" while admitting in the museum of "banditismo" in Cuba how widespread it was and how it could only be put down with Russian arms and the failed "bay of pigs" invasion are just expressions of dissent. Lack of information due to the "news blockade" by the Castro regime and genuine disinterest by the international community more occupied with the cold war in Europe have for years ensured that only those with direct contacts with Cuba have been aware of the extent of dissent in Cuba. Only the massive events like the 1980 Mariel boat lift made headlines.
It was only with the fall of the Berlin wall and the end to the Soviet empire that Cuba moved a little more in to the spotlight. The economic need to open Cuba to the world through tourism and trade combined with the urgent need of aid ensured that cracks appeared in the "wall" and that information came out raising awareness and interest. The "May 1968" image of Cuba in Europe was shattered and people started taken an interest in human rights in that once forgotten part of the globe - at least from an European perspective. This increased hardship of the Cuban people and the increased focus on Cuba lead to a more bold expression of dissent in Cuba where popular discontent with the "special economic period" - actually the "normal" economic period for Cuba without 30 to 35% of GNP in subsidies - lead to violent expressions of dissent like the "maleconazo" of August 1994. An event I witnessed and that has marked my view of the Castro regime forever. From those days onwards the dissident movement in Cuba has been recognized by more and more people as a legitimate struggle for freedom. It is striking that that the Czech nation is one of those that have taken the Cuban struggle most to heart. Their own history has thought them a lesson that most of us that have only lived in the "free west" have never learned first hand: there is no "good" dictator.
The basic document serving as the inspiration of the Cuban dissidents is (arguably) "La Patria es de Todos" or "The Homeland belongs to Us All". This document was issued in 1997 by some of the main political dissidents of the time. It sets out a series of principles for the future of Cuba and it's transition from the current dictatorship to a free society.
The Cuban dissidents have always faced repression by the Cuban regime. The Cuban state can not tolerate freedom of expression. Political dissent is punished. The Cuban government has an array of repressive laws that are used to silence all dissent. Cuba has no free and fair elections. As such the current regime is not representative of the people and has no legitimacy. It rules "de facto" but without moral base.
As the regime is illegitimate it can not allow the Cubans the respect of their human rights. It strength lies in its system of repression set up with - amongst others - the help of the East German Stasi. The Cuban regime controls all aspects of life from food over education to housing and work. there is - literally - no escape.
Lots of people have taken up the struggle for democracy in Cuba. All suffered at the hands of the Cuban regime starting be it petty harassment or brutal repression. People lost their jobs, their children lost educational opportunities and lots went to prison. Some were forced to leave their country. The aim is to honor all by focusing on some. To name them all would require another website. On this site I will gradually expand the list of biographies. This in no way diminishes my respect for all of them.
2. The independent journalists.
For more information see the Independent Journalists page
Raul Rivero, a prominent Cuban independent journalist and poet that was forced in to exile in 2005, said in April 2006 after a mob (made up of non-students) stopped him from speaking out at the University of Seville: "The Cuban government is based on lies and cheap propaganda. That's why it is afraid of words and the truth.".(see press report)
That fear of "uncontrolled speech" has led the Cuban regime to repress all aspects of Freedom of speech in Cuba. Independent journalists are incarcerated, prosecuted an harassed. The "information embargo" of the Cuban government is enforced against both Cuban and foreign journalists in Cuba today as it always has been. The Cuban government and its supporters do not stop there and - as I can confirm from personal experience - attacks and threatens even those that exercise their freedom of expression in democratic countries. In order to "shut up" those that expose the lies the Cuban regime and it's apologists will stop at nothing. In France complaints have been filed against Castro supporters for crimes ranging from defamation to threats to kill people. Stalking, abuse of websites, personal threats are rife.
3. The independent librarians.
For more information see the "Independent Libraries" page.
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