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New on the Freedom Collection: José Luis García Paneque
Vea esta entrada de blog en español aquí.Watch the new interview with José Luis García Paneque, a Cuban dissident and former prisoner of conscience, on the Freedom Collection. Dr. García Paneque studied and practiced medicine, specializing in plastic surgery. In 1998, he became active as a dissident, joining the Freedom Press Agency, an alternative journalism project. In 2000, he became the initiative’s director. For his activism, he was removed from his position at the hospital where he worked. Dr. García Paneque describes his journey to becoming a dissident: “I realized that the system under which I lived was a lie. It was all false. From that moment on my life started being totally different. The Berlin Wall came down. The regime fell into a crisis. Opposing groups started appearing within the island. People began to have other ideas and other interests. And it is really here that my activism began.“ In March 2003, Dr. García Paneque was among the 75 dissidents who were arrested in the crackdown known as the Black Spring. He was summarily sentenced to 24 years in prison. He was imprisoned for seven years and four months, two years of which were in solitary confinement. The harsh conditions in prison caused him to lose half of his body weight, posing life-threatening consequences to his health. He discusses the conditions of his imprisonment: “I was in a 3 square meter cell with poor ventilation and with water service for only 5 minutes once a day. I was held in this type of cell for 23 hours per day and I was allowed to go out for one hour to other cells without a roof so that I could see the sunlight. The rest of the time I was sent again to my cell and I was kept in isolation. Nobody could talk to me. I could not communicate with anybody; I simply was there.” In 2010, he was released in negotiations brokered by the Roman Catholic Church. As a condition of his release, Dr. García Paneque was required to leave Cuba. Since leaving his homeland, Dr. García Paneque has overseen the Freedom Observatory project, which is associated with the Institute of Strategic and International Studies at the Catholic University of Valencia in Spain. He currently lives in Florida. Watch his interview here. Vea esta entrada de blog en español aquí. This post was written by Lindsay Lloyd, Program Director of the Freedom Collection. Follow him on Twitter at@WLindsayLloyd.
Lindsay Lloyd is the Deputy Director of the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, where he manages original research and programmatic efforts to advance freedom and democracy in the world. Lindsay currently leads the Bush Institute’s Freedom in North Korea project, which raises awareness of human rights violations in North Korea, proposes new policy solutions, and engages leaders to help improve the lives of the North Korean people. Lindsay is also responsible for managing the Freedom Collection, a multimedia archive that documents the stories of nonviolent freedom advocates from around the word.
Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Lindsay served for 16 years at the International Republican Institute (IRI), most recently as senior advisor for policy. Previously, he was IRI’s regional director for Europe and co-director of the regional program for Central and Eastern Europe, which was based in Slovakia. At IRI, Lindsay worked with candidates, elected officials, political parties, and civil society activists to develop lasting democratic institutions.
Before joining IRI, Lindsay worked for several members and the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives, as political director for a political action committee, and for Jack Kemp’s 1988 presidential campaign. He graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.Full Bio
Chinese Prisoner’s Death Holds a Message for Americans and China
Liu Xiaobo, China’s most prominent dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner died this week. His death holds a message for Americans and for China.
Release of Chinese Political Prisoner a Timely Reminder to Support Freedom Advocates Abroad
More than half the world’s population still lives in countries where basic political rights and civil liberties are only partly respected, if at all.
Bringing Freedom to the Forefront of 21st Century Politics
Is the global liberal democratic order in danger? Purposefully constructed in the aftermath of World War II, this order -- and the American leadership that is central to its success --has contributed to securing peace and expanding prosperity in the United States and around the world. Today, that order appears to be dissolving. This crisis is not new or sudden; it has been mounting for several years. Global challenges like authoritarian capitalism, violent extremism, demographic pressures, and displaced populations have placed global freedom in decline. Fraying traditional alliances united by core values of freedom are increasingly weak to respond. It is alarming that the downdraft in democratic resilience over the past decade or more includes countries that have long been part of the consolidated democratic West. This is democratic deconsolidation. In much of the Western world, we see a rise in demagogic populism, illiberalism, nationalism, protectionism, and waning conf
The Importance of Speaking Truth to Tyrants
What the president of the United States says matters. Even during the realpolitik policies of détente under Richard Nixon, it was still clear that American policy was based on a set of core values. Nixon’s practical goals of reaching deals with America’s adversaries was never based on the “great chemistry” with himself or praising the Soviet or Communist Chinese leadership doing a “fantastic job.” When the president aligns himself with the autocrats and dictators, he aligns America with their oppression. He sends a message that corruption and brutality are not our concern. Contrast that with how Ronald Reagan defied much of world opinion in calling out the brutality of the Soviet system. Natan Sharansky, then a refusenik imprisoned in a Soviet gulag, later wrote for the Weekly Standard of his thoughts on Reagan’s pronouncement that the USSR was an evil empire: “It was the great, brilliant moment whe