Primavera Negra
November 2009
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Freedom has no double standard

Posted on Saturday, 11.21.09
Freedom has no double standard

Among the few things that Cubans can count on after 50 years under the
rule of the Castro brothers is the subhuman, Draconian methods with
which the regime lashes out against those who dare disagree.

The deafening silence from supposed freedom lovers around the globe, the
United States and, yes, here in South Florida, is just as disturbing as
the regime's repressive tactics.

The accusations, condemnations and punishments justly proposed and cast
against totalitarian rulers on the right of the political spectrum —
Chile's Pinochet, Spain's Franco and the military juntas of the 1970s in
Argentina and Brazil — are hypocritically stowed away and muted when it
comes to Cuba's dictatorship.

A couple of weeks ago, the regime in Havana once again harassed,
threatened and beat Yoani Sánchez, an insightful 34-year-old blogger who
takes issue with the government's obtuse rule and writes about it in her
well-read blog, Generación Y. This year, the University of Columbia in
New York recognized Sanchez's cry for justice by awarding her the Maria
Moors Cabot prize for journalism.

Predictably, the regime denied her an exit visa to travel to New York to
receive the distinction. Ironically, the same week, two Cuban artists —
pianist Chucho Valdes and singer Omara Portuondo — were both awarded
Latin Grammys at a lavish ceremony held in Las Vegas. The Cuban
authorities granted both aritists the right to travel abroad, and both
received visas from the American government allowing them to enter and
freely travel within the United States — which I support.

But where's the parity, the fairness? Travel in and out of Cuba should
be open — for people on both sides of the Florida Straits.

I wonder where all the civil libertarians were when it came to defending
Sanchez's right to not to be physically beaten for her beliefs and to
travel abroad to collect her award.

Where's the outcry to this injustice from the participants of the
unprecedented Juanes concert that played in Havana Sept. 20? Where are
the vigorous demands for the beleaguered blogger's rights from the many
that so vehemently promoted the jam at Havana's revolutionary plaza?

Since Fidel Castro's announcement that he was stepping down and ceding
power to his brother Raúl, Cubanologists, those so-called “experts,''
have wishfully written about how much of a reformist little brother Raúl
is. Unfortunately for the Cuban people and for the revisionist scholars'
credibility, the record shows a rather alarming yet consistent trend.

Repression is still Cuba's modus operandi under Raul's reign, as noted
in this week's report by Human Rights Watch. Most of the 75 independent
journalists summarily jailed in the repressive wave of 2003, known as
Cuba's “Black Spring,'' are still imprisoned and facing long sentences.

As world leaders, particularly Latin American presidents — along with
U.S. congressmen and senators — plead Cuba's case against the U.S.
embargo to the Obama administration, the cries of the island's jailed
and repressed opposition seem to not fit the anti-embargo crowd's narrow
and myopic political agenda.

The plight of 39-year-old Darsi Ferrer, a doctor who recently ended an
18-day hunger strike protesting the miserable conditions in which he is
unjustly detained doesn't much matter to Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake
of Arizona or to Massachusetts Congressman Bill Delahunt, a Democrat.
Both adamantly argue in favor of the unrestricted lifting of U.S.
sanctions against Cuba.

Obviously, the struggle of Yoani Sánchez and the thousands of Cubans who
have paid a steep price for demanding the most fundamental freedoms,
seemingly aren't seen or heard by those who energetically and
shamelessly ignore Cuba's human-rights reality. A common, kitchen table
saying passed on for generations perfectly sums up the indifference: No
hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver o sordo que el que no quiera oír
— There is no worse blind person than one who refuses to see or deaf
person who refuses to hear.

Thanks to Sánchez's courage, the darkness is lifting, and Cuba's
youthful voices are rising.

Freedom has no double standard – Other Views – (21
November 2009)

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