Skip to comments.Castro's execution of 3 raises specter of racism
Posted on 06/15/2003 12:30:34 AM PDT by Cincinatus' WifeEdited on 07/12/2004 4:03:48 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
The execution of three blacks by a Cuban government firing squad in April for attempting to hijack a boat to Miami is raising questions about racism on the communist island.
It was the first time anyone, black or white, had been executed for trying to flee Cuba.
(Excerpt) Read more at washtimes.com ...
If she still lives in Cuba, she may regret saying that. Fidel will get her too.
Cardinal Jaime Ortega also called for reconciliation among Cuban believers during a Thursday night conference attended by hundreds of people. In the audience was U.S. Interests Section Chief James Cason, a frequent target of criticism by the government. Foreign diplomats, opposition members and well-known cultural figures tied to Fidel Castro's government, also attended the conference.
''The church's mission is not to be on the side of the opposition,'' said Ortega, the Archbishop of Havana and the island's only Roman Catholic cardinal. ``In the same way, you cannot ask the church to support the government.''
Ortega's comments came a week after a Czech bishop and former anti-communist dissident criticized the church in Cuba for not supporting the opposition movement here. Ortega said his Czech colleague did not visit him during a recent stay here.
''The church leadership is very reserved toward the opposition movement,'' Bishop Vaclav Maly told reporters on May 21, hours after he returned from a 10-day visit to Cuba. ''From my point of view, it's a big mistake,'' Maly said.
Maly noted that while a church should not engage in politics, ``in a dictatorship, it's always good when people of goodwill unite.''
Maly, chairman of a Czech rights group run by the Roman Catholic Church, traveled to Cuba after 75 government opponents were sentenced to long prison terms and three men were executed after quick trials for trying to hijack a ferry.
At the time, Cuba's Roman Catholic bishops issued a statement questioning both the executions and the political crackdown.
''Violence is not eliminated with more violence,'' the Cuban bishops said, adding that they were also concerned about ``long prison sentences imposed on political opponents.''
Ortega said that the mother of one of the executed men had later met with him. The prelate said he was impressed by her lack of rancor and called on believers to replace their hatred with a similar spirit of reconciliation.
Maly, 52, a signatory of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto co-authored by former President Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic, was jailed numerous times by the former communist regime. [End]
Amazingly, many left-wing artists, activists and intellectuals have come out in support of Uncle Fidel. We need a Nobel Prize for stupidity. Led by Harry Belafonte, the usual suspects have predictably figured out a way to blame America for Castro's housecleaning of his opposition several days after the start of the war in Iraq. It was a United States diplomat who was "agitating" the dissidents. He met with them. He was planning to "topple Fidel."
Ridiculous. The Varela Project and other efforts to amend the Cuban constitution have been going on for years. This was the noble opposition, looking for a peaceful change. The Sakharovs and Walesas of their time. Castro simply waited for the world's attention to be diverted, then he "executed" his plan. And, by the way, the 75 he jailed were also activists and intellectuals. And journalists. Some got 28 years. Nelson Mandela did 27. I guess Castro will not be surpassed at anything.
The solution to Castro's past misbehavior, according to some -- including the Sentinel's own Myriam Marquez -- was to send Americans with pockets full of money to show those backward Cubans what liberty is all about. Strangely enough, the Canadians, Latin Americans, Europeans and some Americans who've been traveling to Cuba for decades have not been able to do that. My God, even the pope tried! And yet, American tourists in their Bermuda shorts and camcorders are going to make Castro see the light. Sure, Castro will fall -- on his knees, laughing.***
United States should deal with Cuba through third parties*** For three black Cubans who hijack a Havana ferry in a desperate attempt to reach U.S. shores, it's death by firing squad, but we don't hear a peep from civil-rights activist Jesse Jackson or any other black U.S. leaders who would normally cry racism. Cuba predictably blames its carnage on Uncle Sam. There are protests the world over, even from several of Castro's old commie friends. The U.S. government weighs its options. It expels 14 Cuban diplomats - a record - for spying. Round and round we go in this tit-for-tat diplomacy. Will Cuba kick out James Cason, our man in Havana?***
After all, Black Caucus members have made frequent visits to Cuba and offered praise of President Fidel Castro, the foundation's least favorite person. Some have pushed to end the embargo against Cuba and ease travel restrictions that prevent Americans from traveling there legally.
But Tuesday, the foundation's Washington office brought a half-dozen black Cuban dissidents living in the United States to meet with several members of the Black Caucus and their staffs. The objective was to convince them that Castro's Cuba is not a paradise for blacks.
"We have to break this myth of Fidel Castro being the savior of blacks in Cuba," said Omar Lopez Montenegro, who said he moved to the United States nine years ago after being politically persecuted in Cuba.
Montenegro contends blacks and those of mixed race, who make up about 60 percent of Cuba's population, are overrepresented in the island's political prisons and underrepresented in powerful positions in the government and Communist Party.
As evidence, Montenegro and others point to jailed dissidents such as Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet and Vladimiro Roca.
They think the Black Caucus can help.
"We know there are many members of Congress who can talk to Castro so that he will free political prisoners," said Magdelivia Hidalgo, who is not black but who worked with several black dissidents on the island before she was forced to leave. Hidalgo helped found the movement of independent libraries that has grown in Cuba.
Reaction from members of the Black Caucus and their staffs was mixed, said Dennis Hays, who runs the foundation's Washington office.
Selby McCash, a spokesman for Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), said the congressman could not meet with the foundation but would get a briefing.
"They laid out what they laid out to the others, that there is racial inequality in Cuba, and asked that the congressman be aware of this," McCash said.
McCash and a staff member from another congressional office said some of the information on discrimination in Cuba was news to their offices.
The foundation's leaders want members of the Black Caucus to intercede on behalf of political prisoners, to lobby the Cuban government to promote more blacks into positions of power and to support sending aid to dissidents on the island.
The Black Caucus has been an irritant to anti-Castro groups for years. This April, American students arrived to study medicine in Cuba as part of a program first proposed during a meeting between Castro and several caucus members.
Last year, several members of the Black Caucus said Elian Gonzalez should be returned to his father in Cuba, angering many Cuban-Americans. Several members have argued that Cuba has improved the lives of black residents with better health care and education.
The evidence is not decisive. A study by the Caribbean Project at the Center of Latin American Studies at Georgetown University found that by 1981 more blacks and mixed-race Cubans had graduated from high school than whites. But that study and others also back up Montenegro's argument that blacks make up a very small proportion of the island's top leaders and a large proportion of its prisoners. [End]
Jay Nordlinger: Who Cares About Cuba? ..A DICTATORSHIP AND DOUBLE STANDARDS So, there are a couple of names named: Rene Montes de Oca Martija and Jose Orlando Gonzalez Bridon. There are thousands of others, belonging to thousands of other political prisoners. Hear (merely) three more: Vladimiro Roca, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, and Maritza Lugo Fernandez. These names mean nothing in our country, except to Cuban-Americans.
Perhaps the most inspiring name of all is that of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet Gonzalez, a virtual saint of the resistance. Biscet is a practitioner of civil disobedience in the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, his avowed models. He has been imprisoned and tortured since 1998. We know, through his wife, that he has blessed and forgiven his torturers even as they have tortured him. Here is a man-Biscet-whose name should be on many lips. Cuban dissidents complain bitterly that if he were a prisoner of a right-wing regime he would be a worldwide cause. Yet he is anonymous; not even his dark skin seems able to help him. The stream of American celebrities who go to Havana to sup, smoke, and banter with "Fidel" are oblivious.***
Too soon we forget how the old Comblock countries used barbed wire, guard towers, attack dogs and machine guns to prevent their own citizens from fleeing the "worker's paradise" to the West.
Cuba is no different.
The info from the referenced link indicated that, in addition to the sentences for murder and attempted murder, Sara Jane Olson received 10 years each for two counts of bomb-making to be served consecutively.
She will be in prison for many many years. Interesting link, although curiously sympathetic to Olson.