Fill out the brief form below for access to the free report.
The Castro brothers are still laughing at the world. On November 12, the United Nations General Assembly elected Cuba to its discredited Human Rights Council. Meanwhile, violations of basic human freedoms remain the norm on the island.
According to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, an illegal NGO that the Cuban regime tolerates, there were in the month of October “at least 909 political arrests, one of the highest figures for one single month in the last two decades.”
For the past 19 weeks, the Ladies in White in the province of Matanzas have been arrested, beaten, and denounced by pro-regime supporters stationed in front of their homes to prevent them from participating in demonstrations after Sunday Mass. The Ladies in White of Villa Clara province and those from Santiago de Cuba have suffered the same fate. There are daily reports and testimonies of rights violations from all across the island.
Unfortunately, supporters of the Cuban government ignore these facts, while many international media outlets treat selective changes as more sweeping reforms.
One of these “changes” is the government’s decision after 50 years of tight control to give more Cubans the right to travel abroad and return home. But little is said about the regime’s selective policy of issuing passports to those who wish to travel. None of the former prisoners from the Black Spring who were sent into exile in 2010 have been allowed to reenter Cuba. And of the former prisoners who did not accept exile as a condition of their release, none have been permitted to leave Cuba.
The most recent case is that of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, who was invited by President Barack Obama to the 50th anniversary celebrations and 2013 award ceremony for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2007, Dr. Biscet became the first Cuban to ever receive this prestigious honor. President George W. Bush awarded the medal to Dr. Biscet in absentia because he was serving a 25-year prison sentence as a victim of the Black Spring crackdown. He was released and put under house arrest in 2011 as part of the negotiations between the regime in Havana and the government of Spain and the Catholic Church in Cuba. Although Dr. Biscet applied for a passport to attend last week’s ceremony in Washington, DC, the Cuban government did not allow him to go. “The government still considers me a prisoner,” Dr. Biscet expressed in a telephone call [with Normando Hernández] .
Stories like this are not signs of change but of stagnation and decline; one wonders how the United Nations justifies such a noxious representative on its Human Rights Council.
Normando Hernández is a Freedom Advocate Fellow at the George W. Bush Institute. He is also a Cuban dissident and former prisoner of conscience. Learn more about his story here.
Normando Hernandez is a Freedom Advocate Fellow with the George W. Bush Institute. A former political prisoner, Normando has been a key figure in advancing the cause of freedom in his native Cuba.
Normando is an independent journalist who has dedicated himself to providing alternate sources of news and information in Cuba. In 1999, he cofounded the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights. In 2000, he established the Camaguey Association of Journalists, the first independent organization of that type in the Camaguey province since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. He was the youngest of 75 dissidents arrested by Cuban authorities on March 18, 2003, a day that became known as the “Black Spring.” Normando was sentenced to 25 years in prison for writing about the condition of state-run services in Cuba and criticizing the government’s management of issues such as tourism, agriculture, and fishing. Normando was exiled to Spain in 2010 and has since relocated to the United States with his wife and daughter.
Most recently, Normando was a Spring 2012 Reagan-Fascell Fellow with the National Endowment for Democracy, where he focused on the monopoly of communications by the Cuban regime and how independent journalists can combat totalitarianism. Normando is the author of numerous publications, including the book The Art of Torture: Memories of a Former Prisoner of Conscience. He has received several awards for his work in journalism and human rights, including, the Norwegian Writer’s Association’s Freedom of Expression Award, the PEN American Center’s Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award and a special mention by the Inter-American Press Association for excellence in journalism. Normando is also featured in the Bush Institute’s Freedom Collection.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