Friday, March 19, 2010

Black Spring 2010

The Ladies in White have been marching this entire week protesting the arrest of 75 Cuban dissidents in 2003. The massive political repression seven years ago, now known as the "Black Spring," was (and continues to be) widely condemned across the world, but has left its direct victims and families without recourse, and desperate.

Amnesty International again has called for the release of all Cuban political prisoners, many of whom were arrested in 2003, and to revoke its laws that authorize political repression. But, it should be clear to readers that Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have long ago presented their recommendations on improving the plight of Cuba's political dissidents.

I have addressed them before and will repeat them:

- AI believes "the US embargo has helped to undermine the enjoyment of key civil and political rights in Cuba by fueling a climate in which such fundamental rights as freedom of association, expression and assembly are routinely denied" and that "any tightening of the existing sanctions would only heighten the negative human rights impact of the embargo." Thus, US policy creates "a situation in which perceived external aggression is met with increased internal repression of dissent." [AI 2003 report that recommends the end of the U.S. embargo.]

- HRW believes "the US must end its failed embargo policy. It should shift the goal of its Cuba strategy away from regime change and toward promoting human rights. In particular, it should replace its sweeping bans on travel and trade with Cuba with more effective forms of pressure." [HRW 2009 report that recommends a multilateral policy of smart sanctions.]

It should come to no surprise then that the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has recently written a letter to the European Union, and not the White House, urging the European countries to pressure Cuba to release political prisoners and enact reforms.

With our current policy the U.S. has no influence over Cuba, and has virtually abandoned the Ladies in White.

[CPJ 2008 Report on "Cuba's Long Black Spring"]
[BBC report on Wednesday's protest (video)]
[Photo of Reina Luisa Tamayo, mother of Orlando Zapata, by Javier Galeano/AP]

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