Thursday, April 18, 2013

WSCC highlights human rights violations in Cuba

WSCC highlights human rights violations in Cuba
April 18, 2013
By JASMINE ROGERS , The Marietta Times

MARIETTA - In hopes of raising awareness about the ongoing human rights
violations taking place in Cuba, Washington State Community College is
hosting a trio of Cuban human rights activists for a series of
discussions that start today and lead up to an open forum to be held at
the college Saturday.

The three-day event is part of the Evergreen Arts and Humanities series.

"In our area, we don't hear a lot about human rights violations. We may
hear something about China, or North Korea or Burma. But rarely is the
issue addressed concerning Cuba, which is only 90 miles away from
American soil," said Tanya Wilder, chair of the Evergreen Arts and
Humanities series.

The event will feature John Suarez, the International Secretary for the
Cuban Democratic Directorate, Anna Lee, the Christian Solidarity
Worldwide Advocacy officer for Latin America and Laido Carro, president
of the Coalition of Cuban-American Women and a Cuban exile.

Cuba has been under a totalitarian regime for 54 years, the longest
running tyranny currently suffered by any country, said Carro, who fled
the country at age 12 shortly after the Cuban Revolution began.

"The brutality of what is going on over there is not known because of
the propaganda, because this is a police state that uses all its
resources to make sure the world thinks otherwise," said Carro, who
regularly communicates with activists still in Cuba.

The recent transfer of power from Fidel Castro to his brother Raul in
2011 was followed by a loosening of restrictions for Cubans who wanted
to travel outside of the country.

However, the move was purely tactical, said Carro.

The government routinely kills and tortures dissidents who speak out
against the Communist regime, she said.

"When you talk to people in other counties they don't believe you. It is
a priority to make sure everyone understands what is there 90 miles
away," said Carro.

In addition, there have been talks in the news of loosening tourism
restrictions that America has in place to prohibit Americans from
traveling to Cuba without the proper licenses.

But foreign visitors are simply led from place to place by the
government and shown only what the government wants them to see,
according to Carro.

Florida Republican politicians recently criticized married musicians
Jay-Z and Beyonce for their early April trip to Cuba.

"Despite the clear prohibition against tourism in Cuba, numerous press
reports described the couple's trip as tourism, and the Castro regime
touted it as such in its propaganda," wrote U.S. Representatives Ileana
Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart.

What is worse is the couple did nothing to meet with activists or raise
awareness about the Cuban plight, said Carro.

"They just go around looking pretty and the government has more to write
about in the one Cuban newspaper," she said.

The three days of discussions in Marietta will offer several
opportunities for students and the community to meet with the three
activists and discuss human rights issues in general and as they relate
to the problems in Cuba, said Wilder.

Friday will offer four breakout sessions to take place in Washington
State's Graham Auditorium at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

On Friday, a roundtable discussion with Carro, Suarez, and Lee will take
place at 3 p.m. in Marietta College's Thomas Hall, room 113.

Saturday night's open forum will feature short topical discussions by
each of the three speakers before transitioning into a question and
answer session.

Suarez, who recently gave the closing remarks at the annual Geneva
Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, will be talking about human
rights and what is happening in Cuba.

Lee will be giving the latest report on religious persecution in the
country, which has not fully rebounded from the three decades of state
enforced atheism which ended in the early 1990s.

Carro will be talking about human rights violations directed at
children, she said.

"This brutal police state uses their citizens from birth to death in
order to make sure they stay in power and they've been very successful,"
she said.

Children of those who resist the regime are sometimes tortured in order
to force their families to flee, said Carro.

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