OUR OPINION: World leaders should back peaceful protesters
In a democracy, people can disagree. They can march to protest their
government, they can chastise their elected officials in public forums,
they can walk down the street carrying placards voicing their opinions.
They can do all those things and as long as they aren't rioting, the
police will respect their fundamental human rights.
Not in Cuba. Never in Cuba.
Once again, the Cuban regime has notched up its police state to break up
peaceful protests by the Ladies in White -- the wives, mothers,
daughters, aunts, sisters and cousins of political prisoners. Leading
the march was the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, whose son died last
month in a hunger strike protesting Cuba's ill treatment of political
Remembering `Black Spring'
The Ladies vow to continue their weeklong marches in commemoration of
the 2003 ``Black Spring'' when Cuba's communist dictatorship accused 75
human rights activists and independent journalists and librarians of
being in cahoots with U.S. ``imperialists'' and sentenced most of them
to more than 20 years in prison.
On Wednesday, the Ladies were again punched, kicked and dragged to
government vans from their walk down the streets of Havana by security
agents and pro-regime mob squads yelling, ``The streets belong to Fidel.
Down with the worms.''
It is Cuba's half-century paradox: a so-called socialist government
where the power is supposed to reside with ``the people'' has so
indoctrinated some folks that they would hand the ``people's
revolution'' to one caudillo who has not let go in 51 years -- Fidel Castro.
Make voices heard
From Europe to Latin America, several prominent artists who have been
sympathetic to the regime in the past have finally spoken up against
these latest tactics coming on the heels of Mr. Zapata's death. Their
governments need to speak up, too.
Already the European Union has turned down Spain's push to have the EU
open up to more trade with Cuba, reasoning that Cuba's brutal response
to dissent must not be rewarded. Latin American governments that for too
long have ignored the Castros' abuses are losing any credibililty they
had with their own people in supporting such brutality.
Only a concerted effort by democratic governments -- from the left and
the right -- can show Raúl and Fidel Castro that their free ride of
terror is coming to an end.