Another Broken Promise / Miriam Celaya

March of The Ladies in White

The deadline that the Cuban authorities established for the release of all 75 political prisoners of the Black Spring, as formally agreed in their talks with the Catholic Church and reported by the media and abroad, expired at the stroke of midnight last November 7th . Thirteen of these 75 Cubans, however, remain in prison. They are, not by chance, precisely those who refused to leave Cuba when they were “liberated.” Obviously, it is very dangerous in the current conditions to have such free thought within the Island, especially with all the moral authority that these prisoners carry.

Once again, the government has proven that it doesn’t know how to honor its commitments. It mocks the public and leaves those who have wanted to wash the face of the most tenacious dictatorship this hemisphere has known standing in their underwear before the international organizations Placing these 75 Cubans in jail in March of 2003 took only a few hours. Four months have not been enough to get them out of jail, while the struggle for their liberation has raged over seven years and threatens to take even longer. Meanwhile, evidencing that the essence of the government is repression, the harassment against private individuals and groups of independent civil society continues. How do we explain such arrogance and stupidity? Because of the impunity the regime has enjoyed for over 50 years of absolute power in the face of the fear of the Cuban people and the world’s patient tolerance.

The imprisonment and the “judicial processes” followed in that painful spring against citizens who had committed no other crimes than to express what they were thinking was a move that took a heavy political toll on the Castro regime, as some of the darkest spots of the system were put under a magnifying glass. It was, in addition, an incentive for other Cubans bent on disclosing to the world the material and moral deficiency of this government. However, used as hostages of government policy, the 75 continue to be a boomerang for the arrogant old men in uniform.

Now, when thanks to those imprisoned journalists and others who live in the relative “freedom” of our streets, much of the world knows about the Cuban reality, the long-lived military cabinet fears that these truths might make their way to the Cubans on the Island. That is why they repress every civic movement, even the small and humane gesture of a mother in the town of Banes visiting her son’s grave, a victim of the dictatorship, able to move solidarity and support from the simple people of her village.

But we know that the government is deaf and mute to the demands of the Cubans, so let’s ask the Mediator: what can the top hierarchy of the Catholic Church, as the official interlocutor of the conflict, tell us about this new broken promise? Do the ecclesiastic authorities deem the inauguration of the new Seminary a sufficient government concession, or will they insist on the government’s fulfillment of the commitment for which the Archdiocese was the spokesman? Can they give us a release date for our brothers and give us guarantees of complying with it, or must we be happy with just praying?

At the present time, it is necessary to keep the pressure on the dictatorship. Governments, individuals and civilized societies should not be in spiritual intimacy with tyrants. The Cuban government must ratify the pacts it signed on February 2008, comply with its principles, and stop persecuting the deserving Cuban people who have the courage to confront it. It is the Cuban dictatorship that must take steps down this path, beginning with the immediate release of all political prisoners.

Translated by Norma Whiting

November 8,2010