Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cuban dissident blogger beaten

From the Wall Street Journal:

Yoani Sánchez, Cuba's most prominent dissident blogger, was walking along a Havana street last Friday along with two other bloggers and a friend when two men she says were Cuban agents in civilian clothes forced her inside an unmarked black car and beat her, telling her to stop criticizing the government.

The assault, believed to be the first against the growing blogger movement on the island, has cast a spotlight on the country's record of repression, highlighting how little change there has been in political freedoms during the nearly three years since Raúl Castro took over as president from retired dictator Fidel Castro. (snip)
Ms. Sánchez is a 34 year-old whose poignant vignettes of daily life in Cuba -- and the resulting aggravations, humiliations and suffering -- have proved to be far more effective criticisms of the Castro regime than the bluster and bravado from Cuba's exile community in Miami.

Earlier this year, she won a top journalism prize from Columbia University but was barred by the government from traveling to New York to accept the award.

Ms. Sánchez wasn't cowed by the incident and has blogged in the days since. After being thrown from the car with another blogger, she worried about her son.

"We hugged and cried, and I thought about Teo. How in God's name would I explain my bruises? How can I tell him he lives in a country where this happens?" she wrote.
This is a brave woman. Here is an excerpt of her account of the abduction and beating as posted on her blog Generation Y.
After an attack there are certain myopics who blame the victim herself for what happened. If it is a woman who has been raped, someone explains that her skirt was very short or that she strutted provocatively. If it is a robbery, there are those who will say a flashy purse or shiny earrings provoked the criminal’s greed. In the case of someone who has been the object of political repression, there is no lack of people who will justify it, saying that imprudence was the cause of such an “energetic” response. In the face of these attitudes, the victim feels doubly assaulted.

The dozens of eyes that watched as Orlando and I were forced into a car with blows would prefer not to testify, and so they put themselves on the side of the criminal.

The doctor who does not make a record of an act of physical mistreatment, having already been warned that in this “case” there must be no document to prove the injuries received, is violating his Hippocratic oath and, with that wink, becomes the culprit’s accomplice. To those who feel there should be more bruises and even fractures before they can feel compassion for the person attacked, not only are they quantifying the pain, they are also saying to the attacker, “You have to leave more signs, you must be more aggressive.”
Read the whole thing.

I wonder if Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover heard about this?  The UNICEF Good Will Ambassadors recently visited Cuba to inaugurate an itinerant festival of Caribbean Cinema and attend a concert organized by Colombian singer, Juanes, and the Cuban Music Institute.  Belafonte said of Juanes:
“I’m absolutely delighted that the young artist from Colombia wanted this and took the game this far in spite of all the threats,” Belafonte said. “He stood in his own space of courage and wouldn’t be intimidated.”
Well Harry, that's because Juanes lives in Colombia, a democratic republic with a long history of constitutional government.  Ask Ms. Sanchez about threats, intimidation and courage.

When the Congressional Black Caucus visited Cuba back in April, the returning representatives gushed about Cuba and particularly Fidel Castro:
"It was quite a moment to behold," Lee (Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Ca) said, recalling her moments with Castro.

“It was almost like listening to an old friend,” said Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Il.), adding that he found Castro’s home to be modest and Castro’s wife to be particularly hospitable.

“In my household I told Castro he is known as the ultimate survivor,” Rush said.
Indeed he is.  And thinking people understand why.

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