Sunday, April 26, 2009

Political Prisoners in Cuba

As an advocate of socialism, it pains me to see so-called socialist
governments jailing people for expressing political dissent.

With this in mind, I hope to encourage anti-Castro, anti-socialist
critics to help me out with this. As I look into this, what seems to
emerge is information that Cuba is not holding political prisoners as
much as they are holding(at least some of them)bona fide terrorists.

What has piqued my curiosity are reports that the majority of
prisoners in Cuban jails want nothing to do with a Cuban proposed
prisoner swap after President Obama said that Cuba should release its political
prisoners and the Cubans suggested a swap. "It's nearly unanimous
among the prisoners that they not be exchanged for military men
arrested red-handed in espionage activities in the United States,"
said Elizardo Sanchez of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and
Reconciliation. "They would rather stay in prison."

This obviously indicates that the USA is also holding 'political
prisoners'. Five Cubans have been arrested on espionage charges. Along
with the five Cubans, who had allegedly been spying among the Miami
mafia to ward off further attacks on Cuba, the USA is holding many
Muslims prisoner without trial. The USA has plenty of dirt on its
hands in terms of political prisoners.

The Cubans are holding over 200 alleged political prisoners. Human Rights
Watch reports: "Belinda Salas, president of the Latin American
Federation of Rural Women (FLAMUR) – a Cuban organization – said she
was with three other dissidents on December 9 when eight security
officers assaulted them, with no warning. Her husband, Lazaro Alonso,
a former political prisoner, was hit repeatedly in the groin and
beaten in the face and head until he was unconscious. Officers tore
Salas’s shirt from her body and fractured her hand in the assault.
Salas was not arrested, but her husband and two others were detained
by security forces.

Other dissidents were reportedly visited by state security agents and
given verbal warnings in advance of International Human Rights Day
that they would suffer beatings, imprisonment, or other punishments if
they took part in any of the planned activities. Some of the detainees
have since been released, though the current number of those arrested
in the last few days and where they are being held remain unknown."

According to Human Rights Watch, "the Cuban government still needs to
take concrete steps to decriminalize political dissent, Human Rights
Watch said. Specifically, it should unconditionally release all
political dissidents. It should also repeal the provisions of the
penal code that provide the basis for gross violations of human
rights." This Human Rights Watch article suggests that this was not actually
written by Human Rights Watch(eg. Human Rights Watch said)and a look through
their material on Cuba isn't impressive. There is not much in terms of
hard information and there is plenty of rhetoric. Perhaps somebody can
provide a link to more detailed information about Cuba's political

William Blum does provide some information here:

Info on the five Cubas held in US jails:

List of prisoners held in Cuban jails:

There is no doubt that some of the prisoners held in Cuba are
terrorists. But what about those that merely expressed political
dissent? Is there an element of this or are they all criminals?

Then there is the reality that Cuba has been under attack from the USA
for five decades. Are the Cubans actually jailing dissenters or are
they jailing terrorists? Does America's attacks on Cuba excuse them
for being authoritarian?

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