Cuban Democracy Will Come
May 2002 saw a remarkably courageous event take place in Cuba. Under the leadership
of Oswaldo Paya and a committee of pro-democracy advocates, boxes with over 11,000
Signatures were physically presented to the puppet legislature in Havana simply asking
for a referendum permitting democratic reforms. This was more than the number
stipulated in the ornamental Cuban constitution. How were these brave Cuban patriots
rewarded for their peaceful and legal act? Like any Marxist dictatorship when it feels
threatened, they were savagely repressed. In mid-March of 2003 over eighty pro-
democracy activists were brutally detained by Castromore than half of which were
committee members involved in the May 2002 petition. (Please see www.cubafacts.com,
the article by Dan Moffett, Palm Beach Post, Sunday, April 6, 2003, regarding Cuban
journalist Raul Rivero Castaneda.)
Following this Gestapo-like round-up, in less than two weeks Castros kangaroo courts
sentenced these harbingers of Cuban democracy to jail terms ranging from six to twenty-
eight years a badge of courage for this brave contingent of poets, journalists and other
activists. Fidel thought he could stifle the democratic aspirations of eleven million
Cubans, but he only enflamed their passions. It was an act of desperation and fear.
Vladimiro Roca put it well, a former Cuban air force pilot and son of revolutionary leader
Blas Roca: I see this as an act to terrify the people and dissidents who are trying to find
a solution to this situation by peaceful means.
No one was spared by Castros secret police. Private libraries were shut down which
were lending books written by forbidden authors such as Martin Luther King.
Independent journalists such as Raul Rivero were detained. Their crime? Simply
reporting what Cubans were doing to peacefully change a four-decades-old one-man
dictatorship. The home of Marta Beatriz Roque was searched again, and she was
detained. This magnificent fifty-eight-year-old economist dared to hold a meeting of
forty democracy activists in her home after she had already served three years in
Castros prisons for speaking out.
Now heres the kicker. All this oppression happened in March and April, 2003. At the
end of April our wonderful United Nations decided to reelect Cuba to its Commission on
Human Rights! The fox remains in the hen house. Castro must be laughing up his sleeve!
In 2002 Oswaldo Paya received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought awarded by
the European Parliament for his Varela Project described above. This December, 2005,
also in conjunction with the International Humans Rights Day, the courageous Las
Damas En Blanco (Ladies in White) will receive the same award for their peaceful every-
Sunday protest against the cruel imprisonment of their husbands, fathers and brothers still
in Castros putrid jails since his crackdown in 2003. True to form, the Cuban so-called
government (read dictatorship) denied representatives of Las Damas En Blanco the
courtesy to receive their prize in Europe. (Please see www.netforcuba.org)