Thursday, 13 May 2010


The other weekend (2nd May), largely unnoticed especially by the usually vocal yet sycophantic apologists for the repressive Cuban Communist dictatorship, who were somewhat understandably preoccupied with the final days of the Westminster general election, the wives and mothers of various political prisoners held in Cuba were finally allowed to hold their weekly protest for the first time in three weeks without being harassed.

Previously Communist Government supporters had blocked the women, known as Ladies in White, from marching on the previous two Sundays. It takes real courage to confront a dictatorship that imprisons without trial (well save for show trials) and detains people who dissent. Perhaps this is a beginning the Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina and Charter 77 in old Czechoslovakia were small in number but managed to see out their respective dictatorships. 

The BBC notes that the archbishop of Havana had intervened on behalf of the women, stating that Cardinal Jaime Ortega said the Communist authorities had agreed to allow the marches during the month of May, after which they would review their decision. On Sunday 25th, the women were blocked from marching by government supporters who corralled them into a park, where they shouted insults at them for hours.

For some years the 'ladies in white', a group of wives of political prisoners in Cuba, have been courageously staging weekly marches in the capital Havana. On the 26th April they were blocked and taunted by government supporters, and finally led away to a police bus. The Cuban government has routinely described the dissidents as common criminals who were paid by the US to destabilise the country. 

Cuba (just in case our home grown niavatistas have forgotten) is a repressive Communist dictatorship, earlier this year on 18th March which happens to be the anniversary of the mass arrests in 2003, the majority of whom remain detained remain behind bars, there were protests. This year the anniversary would probably have passed unnoticed save for the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo was the first Cuban activist to starve himself to death in protest in nearly 40 years.

Even the European Parliament was moved to vote to condemn his death. In response the state controlled Cuban media, ran with a series of highly critical articles which appeared on the front page of the official newspaper Granma almost every day since then the EU vote. The EU has ineffectually called for a policy of engagement and dialogue with the communist-run island, a policy that sits in stark opposite to the continuing US trade embargo.

The US trade embargo has only hurt the long suffering ordinary people most rather than the members and dependants of the Communist Government and its elite, needs to come to an end. There is a pressing need for free and fully democratic elections in Cuba - perhaps this last Communist dictatorship may yet be finally consigned into the dustbin of historywhere it belongs - either way the decision needs to be made neither by the US Government or the Communist Dictatorship, but, by the Cuban people themselves.

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