Marching for Cambio
Val Prieto, in a December 10 piece for Pajamas Media, describes what the Cuban dissidents who planned to protest on International Human Rights Day were up against:
Imagine you tried to leave your home this morning, only to find two or three dozen very angry people at your front door, yelling all kinds of epithets and physically preventing you from going anywhere. Imagine your government considering you a “social danger,” arresting you for “dangerousness” and then extraditing you to somewhere out in the boonies, without allowing you to return to your hometown. Imagine you somehow manage to take to the streets to protest something you consider wrong and your government dispatches a rapid response brigade, which in turn berates you verbally and assails you and your fellow protesters while beating you with rocks, sticks and fists.
Those are just three examples of repression in Cuba. Three examples of what dissidents – those who oppose the Castro regime’s systematical violation of human rights and their system of apartheid – face every time they try to call attention to their plight via a peaceful march or protest. There are many other examples of the Castro regime’s repressive machinery. For those you need only go here, here and here.
Despite all the oppressive tactics, however, today, International Human Rights Day, many of these Cuban dissidents are attempting to take to the streets at 11 AM, in a peaceful march demanding CAMBIO – CHANGE. They want an end to the violation of their human rights. They want an end to their repression. They want an end to the apartheid.
According to the BBC, the Castro regime yesterday pledged to sign two major UN human rights agreements. Fulfilling these commitments would involve "allowing freedom of expression and association and the right to travel abroad, among other things." If the regime actually follows through on this, it would be welcome indeed.
Unfortunately, there is plenty of room for skepticism. The same article notes that while Cuba's foreign minister was announcing these plans the regime's thugs responded to the human rights demonstration just as Prieto predicted:
But as he spoke, just a few streets from the foreign ministry a small group of opposition activists were mobbed and shouted down by government supporters, as they tried to hold a march.
Dissidents reported that police also picked up several key march organisers in the hours before the event, apparently in an attempt to prevent it taking place.
The treatment of the protesters, the BBC's Michael Voss reports from Havana, was a reminder that old approaches continue.