Thursday, February 25, 2010

A different view of Holguin, Cuba...

I was scanning the various news sites this morning, when I came upon the following from the CBC. Considering that I have only just returned from a sojourn in Holguin, Cuba, it certainly gives me some pause for reflexion.

Cuban dissident's death condemned by Canada
'Release all political prisoners,' Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon says
Last Updated: Thursday, February 25, 2010 9:29 AM ET

CBC News

The Canadian government has joined the United States and European nations in condemning the death of a jailed Cuban dissident after a lengthy hunger strike.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo's death has prompted international outcry and an unprecedented statement of regret from Cuban President Raul Castro.

In a statement Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Canada is "profoundly saddened" by the death of the Cuban "prisoner of conscience."

"Canada regrets this tragedy and calls on the Cuban government to release all political prisoners and to show greater tolerance for Cubans who express opposing views," Cannon said.

Zapata Tamayo was one of the 75 people arrested and jailed in 2003 as part of a government crackdown on opposition groups. The 42-year-old dissident persisted in an 85-day hunger strike and finally died Tuesday afternoon, becoming the first imprisoned opposition figure to die after a hunger strike in nearly four decades.

The hunger strike was in protest of what he said were poor prison conditions on the island.
In a statement released Wednesday by the Cuban Foreign Ministry, the Cuban president said Zapata Tamayo's death "is a result of the relationship with the United States," but did not elaborate.

According to Cuban human rights leader Elizardo Sanchez, Zapata Tamayo was arrested in 2003 and held for months without charge before being sentenced to three years in prison in his native Holguin province for disrespecting police authority.

Zapata Tamayo was subsequently sentenced to 25 years behind bars, Sanchez said, and was deemed by Amnesty International to be "a prisoner of conscience."


Yes... there were a couple of comments either drawing parallels between Cuban jails and ours, or fairly pointing out how this individual basically committed suicide. Then there was the following, more than likely from a Canadian 'armchair-communist' who knows nothing of Cuba, but who is still enamoured with the lofty ideals of an egalitarian society:

"Although I support the Cuban Socialist Revoltion I have to join Canada and the EU in the condemnation of this death. jailing your opponents is not fighting fair. Cuba has nothing to be proud of today ."

He could have continued to say: "... in fact, Cuba has had nothing to be proud of since 26 julio 1956". Cubans have been forced to live in a world of make-believe ever since.

Well I for one do not support Cuba's "socialist revolution". All it amounts to is the enslavement of the people by a different set of totalitarian masters. I would not have been a big fan of how the Batista regime did business back in the day, either. I do support the Cuban people and wish a better future for them, but no one has prospered or enjoyed even the simplest of human freedoms under any so-called 'socialist' regime. Cuba clearly is no different. I knew that before I went there and I certainly know it even moreso, now that I have been.
But please... do not take my word for it. With the advent of the internet these days, nobody can silence the voices of Cubans who want the rest of the world to know of their reality. I found one of perhaps hundreds/thousands of blogs out there, which will give you a glimpse inside the real Cuba:

I find it somewhat unsettling to think that unbeknownst to me, while I was having a second helping of huevos revueltas, Orlando Zapata was starving to death nearby.
The shame of it all...

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