It is the sad plight of the proud Cuban people to live under the yoke of the Cuban Communist regime. May 20, 2010 marks the 108th year of Cuba’s independence. This year is also the 51st year of the Castro dictatorship.
The people of Cuban – vibrant, ethnically-diverse and enterprising – are shackled hand and foot by a system conceived in the 19th century utopian musings of Marx but actually forged and perfected by the great totalitarians of the 20th century.
In History’s light, Havana’s aging dictators – Fidel and Raul Castro – are the living descendants of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong. Cubans in the tens of thousands are as much victims of crimes and misdeeds of Communism as were those of the Stalinist Purges, the Soviet Gulag, and Mao’s Great Cultural Revolution.
As the world changed – with fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the USSR, and the capitalist awakening in China – the Cuban people, governed by the boundless hubris of the Castro brothers, were made to suffer any hardship, bear any price in order to sustain a political and economic system that manifestly failed to meet their needs. They were ordered to stand still when the world around them changed dramatically.
In 2010 Cuba survives on foreign handouts and belt-tightening. Ordinary life is made grim by the cruelty and banality of the police state. Acts of repudiation, intimidation, spying, censorship, and kangaroo courts protect the regime from honest dissent. Devoid of rights or voice, the Cuban people are listless and disillusioned by the cynicism and inefficiency of the Communist elite.
Nevertheless, the Cuban tragedy has created a fierce but non-violent resistance movement that is growing in strength. The movement is animated by the same fierce spirit found in the defenders and martyrs of human freedom over the centuries. It is the spirit that inspired a Gandhi, a Martin Luther King, or a Nelson Mandela.
Cuba Solidarity Day commemorates lives unselfishly sacrificed to shine a light on communist repression. It honors dissident and hunger striker Orlando Zapata Tamayo, whose death on February 23 shocked and saddened the world.
On Cuba Solidarity Day, the world unites in demanding the immediate, unconditional release of all Cuban prisoners of conscience. It also calls for the release of U.S. citizen Alan P. Gross, unjustly detained and languishing in a Cuban jail on a false charge of espionage.
It is also a day to remind President Obama and the Congress of the commitment made by the White House to support “the simple desire of the Cuban people to freely determine their future and to enjoy the rights and freedoms that define the Americas, and that should be universal to all human beings.”