Jewish World Review May 16, 2005/ 7 Iyar,
Castro: Rule by fear
Among the delegates to that May 20 meeting are two librarians from
Eastern Cuba Elio Enrique Chavez and Luis Elio de la Paz. They cannot
attend, however, because in a secret trial they were sentenced to prison
on a charge of dangerousness (peligrosidad). Castro does indeed see the
attendees to this Assembly, as well as other resisters across the
country, as a danger to his brutal regime.
In a statement on the librarians' imprisonment, the executive committee
of the Civil Assembly reports to the world: "This case demonstrates that
Fidel Castro and his regime are employing all their resources and
methods to frustrate the preparations and ultimately prevent the General
Meeting of the Assembly to Promote the Civil Society in Cuba on May 20th.
"We are calling the attention of the international organizations and
community in general to the risks facing the participants of the Assembly."
As is his practice, Castro has undoubtedly inserted spies among the
planners of, and delegates to, the assembly, with the obvious intentions
of limiting the attendance and spurring the fear of resistance
throughout the country.
Castro still fears hostile international reaction especially from the
European Union to the savagery of his dictatorship. In the May 6 Wall
Street Journal, Mary Anastasia O'Grady, a ceaseless recorder of Castro's
cruelties, quotes an example of that savagery as reported in the March
30 Toronto Globe and Mail by Marcus Gee:
"Amnesty (International) says prison guards beat one handcuffed
dissident by stomping on his throat till he lost consciousness."
But Castro's continuing sensitivity to international disapproval of his
thuggery has been revealed in a letter smuggled out of their prison by
librarians Chavez and de la Paz. As reported on the Web site
"The police told the defendants that their prison terms would be
publicized as a government work/study program rather than a form of
punishment," According to the prisoners, "(The colonel said) it would be
made known that we are not prisoners, that it (i.e., their detainment)
was for a work/study program of the Revolution; we told him we did not
agree, that we weren't going to work or study but that they were
sentencing us for our political position. ... We're going to serve our
sentence behind bars."
Their refusal to be broken by Castro is also exemplified by others in
the dictator's gulag, and by those who, as of this writing, will be
facing is police, overt and secret, on May 20. Oswaldo Paya, whose
Varela Project got more than 10,000 brave Cubans to sign his petition
for democracy, told the Associated Press in March:
"When Cubans are capable of saying that, beyond our fear, we want
change, that hits the nucleus of power." What also can cause Castro more
fear is if the international media covers the May 20 Assembly to Promote
Civil Society in Cuba. Though time is short, surely the resourceful
executives at American television and cable networks can try to get
their cameras into Havana by that fateful day.
It would also be a great impetus to the further dissipation of what
Oswaldo Paya calls "the culture of fear" in Cuba if the world can see on
television what Mary Anastasia O'Grady describes in her Wall Street
"For more than two years now, Fidel Castro has faced a frightening scene
in Havana every Sunday. Some 30 women dressed all in white meet at St.
Rita's church; when Mass is over they form a silent procession and walk
10 blocks to a nearby park. This is the kind of stuff that keeps
dictators up at night.
"They are the Ladies in White, wives of prisoners of conscience doing
time in Castro's gulags. The ladies are appealing for the release of all
political prisoners, in the name of justice and humanity. Their pleas go
unheeded. But that doesn't mean that their act of defiance hasn't been
effective. Indeed, sources say that similar groups of women decked out
in white have begun forming processions in other cities around the country."
What a wonderful, liberating final chorus it would be for Ted Koppel's
"Nightline" (soon to be banished by ABC-TV in an act of nonpublic
service) to be in Havana on May 20, with Koppel on-site reporting live
on the assembly, or the assault on it by Castro's hoodlums.
Maybe some of the American entertainment and literary elite, who have
basked in Fidel's glowing presence, will also be there to provide the
maximum leader with their amoral support.
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