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New on the Freedom Collection: Fidel Suarez Cruz

November 14, 2013 by Christopher Walsh

This post originally appeared on the Freedom Collection. Follow the Freedom Collection on Twitter @FRDMCollection.

Without provocation you’re surrounded by state security agents, apprehended, and subjected to weeks of brutal interrogation.  Government agents invade your home and confiscate 1,000 of your personal books because they’re banned by law.  Your crime?  Having the audacity to decry your government’s draconian policies and encouraging others to engage in nonviolent dissidence.  For such crimes, you’re ramrodded through a farcical judicial system (your guilt is predetermined by the government) and seven years of your life are lost in a network of hellish prisons.  Welcome to Cuba.  This is the story of Cuban dissident Fidel Suarez Cruz and it is now part of the Freedom Collection. 

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As a young man, Fidel Suarez Cruz questioned the policies of Cuba’s communist government. In 1994, Fidel became active in the nonviolent opposition, including the Máximo Gómez Human Rights Front and the Human Rights Front Affiliated with the Andrei Sakharov Foundation. He also established and ran an independent library in his hometown.

On March 19, 2003, Fidel was arrested, along with 74 other nonviolent opposition activists (the Group of 75) in the crackdown known as the Black Spring. He was sentenced to twenty years in prison, serving time with common criminals in maximum security prisons in Matanzas and Pinar del Río. Like other prisoners of conscience, he suffered brutal treatment and was physically and psychologically tortured. In 2005, he was subjected to nineteen beatings within a four month period, causing him many permanent health problems.

Fidel’s relatives would travel hundreds of kilometers to visit him in prison, but were sometimes denied permission to see him. When Fidel was first imprisoned his son was only fourteen days old. Fidel’s wife joined other female relatives of the Group of 75 prisoners of conscience in establishing the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco), conducting vigils and other activities to raise awareness of the Group of 75 and press for their release.

After more than seven years in prison, Fidel Suarez and the other Group of 75 prisoners were released in an agreement negotiated between the Roman Catholic Church and the governments of Cuba and Spain. On October 6, 2010, Fidel was released from prison and exiled to Spain with his family.  In 2011, he moved to the United States, where he and his family live in the city of Hialeah, Florida. He remains active in the movement for Cuban freedom. Learn more about his struggle and the Black Spring on the Freedom Collection:


Christopher Walsh is the Program Coordinator for the Freedom Collection. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisJamesWalsh.

 

 


Author

Christopher Walsh
Christopher Walsh

Christopher Walsh serves as a Manager for the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute.  In this role, Christopher manages communications, evaluation, and public policy research projects that advance freedom and democracy in the world. He also develops and implements efforts to make the Bush Institute a welcoming place for today’s generation of dissidents and democracy advocates, overseeing visits for training, inspiration, and insight. 

Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Christopher worked with the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. As IRI’s program officer for Central and Eastern Europe, he coordinated political party building and civic advocacy programs in the Balkans and Turkey.

A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Christopher is a graduate of American University with a B.A. in International Studies.  He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three young children.

Full Bio

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