More repression in Cuba
OUR OPINION: Cubans' pent-up frustration met with violence
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 some 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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