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For decades we have honored the heroes of the 1968 Prague Spring and their righteous fight against the Soviet Union. And just this decade, we have watched reformers adopt the mantle of the Arab Spring and throw off decades of oppressive rule. However, we are reminded that winter sometimes follows a political spring. It would take another 20 years for Prague and the rest of Eastern Europe finally to throw the Soviets out. And the revolutions in the Arab world are still in the process of defining themselves, particularly in Egypt and Libya. But the heroes of Cuba’s Black Spring deserve particular honor as we mark the tenth anniversary of their protests. We can only hope that the suffering they have endured will soon be over, ushering in a season of freedom.
This week in 2003, a group of courageous activists peacefully petitioned the government of Cuba, asking for political reforms and respect for basic human rights. In reaction, Castro’s government tossed 75 of them into jail, where torture and mistreatment were reported (here and here). In his Freedom Collection interview, Regis Iglesias Ramirez described his “trial” as a “judicial farce.” The last of the brave 75 was released in 2011, but countless other political prisoners remain locked away for no reason other than their desire to live in a free nation.
In a welcome coincidence, Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez was in the United States this week. Sanchez was one of the first dissidents to take advantage of the new opportunity to travel outside of Cuba. Much less publicized has been the visit of Rosa Maria Paya to Europe, where she has put the spotlight on the circumstances surrounding the death in 2012 of her father, dissident Oswaldo Paya. Ms. Paya contends her father’s death was not an accident and is attempting to gather the evidence.
The cynical Castro regime has claimed that they will allow Cubans to travel freely as part of their “reform” effort, but we can be sure that the decision to allow Sanchez, Paya, and others to travel was less about freedom and more about hard currency and the desire to embarrass their opponents. As we could have expected, some dissidents, including Dr. Oscar Biscet, have not been allowed to take advantage of this “reform” and are still being denied the right to go abroad by the regime.
Sanchez and Paya’s time abroad should be a priceless reminder that there are many fighting both within and outside Cuba for the beginning of a true spring of freedom.
This post was written by Kent Patton, the Freedom Collection Blog Editor.
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