Outside editorial: More repression in Cuba

Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The following editorial appeared in the Miami Herald:

President Obama's condemnation of repression in Cuba is a welcome if somewhat belated acknowledgement of the campaign of "intensified harassment" that the Castro-run government is directing at Cubans who dare to demand freedom and engage in nonviolent protests.

Such campaigns are business as usual for Cuba's rulers. Fidel Castro's regime is characterized by repression designed to stifle any form of independent activity. At other times, Castro has seized on the pretext of "intervention" from other countries, real or imagined, to tighten the screws on his own people.

The "black spring" of March 2003, when 75 dissidents were rounded up and thrown in prison for years, was his petulant reaction to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

What is unusual about the current wave of repression is that it responds to a completely spontaneous outburst of pent-up frustration inside the country. More and more Cubans are just plain fed up.

The death of hunger striker Orlando Zapata Tamayo one month ago was the most dramatic example of this, but the courage of the Ladies in White who repeatedly dare to confront Castro's baton-wielding goons may represent a greater threat in Castro's eyes. Their example tugs at the conscience of their countrymen and inspires respect and admiration.

The repression should spur other governments to join with President Obama to demand the immediate, unconditional release of political prisoners in Cuba. Castro's police state is a consistent and unapologetic violator of human rights, abetted in its behavior by all those who turn a blind eye to its crimes.

The death or Orlando Zapata prompted the European Union to suspend efforts to improve relations with Cuba. Its member countries should go further to demand that the Cuban people be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

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