Cuba Libre? Not so fast.

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In 2010, the government of Cuba, in response to international pressure caused by the death of Cuban dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo and the subsequent defiance of dissident Guillermo “Coco” Fariñas, released around two dozen political prisoners.

After the  release, the Cuban government forcibly exiled the dissidents. These releases are, as an isolated event, a victory. Individuals unjustifiably imprisoned were released. That’s that. But the government that placed them in prison is still in power, and has, according to press releases, not relented in its ideological stranglehold.

According to CIH press, at the same time that the release of prisoners was taking place, the Cuban government continued to actively repress opponents of the revolution:

On the 11th and 12th of August, the State Security organized political repudiations in Baracoa, Guantánamo, and subsequent to beating them, arrested them. five of them(Nestor and Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, Enyor Diaz Allen, Francisco Luis Manzanet Ortiz and Robertyo Gonzalez Pelegren are still in prison, accused of the crime of public disorder.

In Havana, five youths were arrested on August 16th, after protesting on the steps of the University of Havana. Three of them(Michel Irois Rodriguez Ruiz, Eduardo Perez Flores and Luis Enrique Labrador Diaz) were brought to jail and could be sentenced between one and three years of prison

Overall, according to the report, there were 861 politically motivated arrests in the year of 2010; 103 alone in August. Most of those arrested have been released, but as can be seen above 8 remain in prison charged with facially dubious crimes.

Faced with the ongoing government repression in Cuba, the  release of political prisoners cannot be seen as a good-faith step on their part. Rather, the Cuban government shrewdly acted so that international pressure was temporarily alleviated, allowing them to improve their public image while concurrently maintaining strict control of all of the people of Cuba.

But unlike past wholesale releases of political prisoners in Cuba, the context has changed, and the Castro regime will not be let off the hook so easily.

Yoani Sanchez and the many bloggers/independent journalists in Cuba–with the help of twitter, blogs, and facebook–have opened up an irreversible pipeline of raw, up-to-the minute, information on what is going on in Cuba.

We who have our eyes open around the world will continue to stand witness to whatever wrongs the Cuban government commits upon its own people, and thus the pressure will come back, if not increase, for a Cuba where the people are not subject to the whims of a defunct ideology.

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One Response to “Cuba Libre? Not so fast.”

  1. Jeffrey Goldberg writes hagiography on Fidel Castro « El Gringo Gigante Says:

    […] who is still directly complicit in grave crimes against his own people. As I mentioned in a post earlier, the Cuban government is still repressing its opponents at a stead pace. Nothing, in terms of […]

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