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Courage in Cuba

February 20, 2012 by Amanda Schnetzer

An extraordinary thing happened last Thursday, February 16, before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights.  Appearing live by telephone from Havana, former political prisoner Oscar Elías Biscet testified on the violation of human rights in Cuba. Biscet, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007, described inhumane prison conditions and the use of torture against Cuba’s political prisoners—practices that have been well documented by the U.S. Department of State and others. “The Cuba in which I live is a society full of fear,” he said. “We are looking for [liberty] and democracy.” When asked about the visit to Cuba next month of Pope Benedict XVI, Biscet said that he would love for the Pontiff “to lobby for our freedom of speech and a multiparty system.” Thursday’s hearing also featured journalist Normando Hernández González, who was jailed with Biscet and 73 other freedom advocates in 2003 during the “Black Spring.” You can watch their testimony here. The Bush Institute's Human Freedom Initiative recently welcomed several freedom advocates from Cuba at the Voices Of Freedom Luncheon. This post was written by Amanda Schnetzer, Director of Human Freedom at the George W. Bush Institute.


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Amanda Schnetzer
Amanda Schnetzer

Amanda Schnetzer serves as Fellow, Global Initiatives at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas.

Previously, Amanda served as Director Global Initiatives after serving as founding director of the Human Freedom Initiative. In this role, she was responsible for developing innovative research, programmatic, and policy efforts to advance societies rooted in political and economic freedom and to empower women to lead in their communities and countries.

Amanda has twenty years of experience in the international arena and a background in public policy research and analysis, public affairs, and management of diverse, high-level stakeholders. As senior fellow and director of studies at Freedom House in New York, Amanda guided research for the organization’s definitive studies of freedom. She began her career at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, supporting research on U.S. foreign policy and international politics. Amanda is a published writer and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds degrees from Georgetown University and Southern Methodist University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

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