Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Death of Cuban Hunger Striker Part of Larger Wave of Repression in Cuba

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Another Cuban, Wilmar Villar, died in a hunger strike on the island last week protesting the abuses of the Castro regime.  His wife was not permitted to see his body.  Yoani Sanchez, the Cuban blogger who has received several international awards and who is not permitted to travel abroad, reported his death on the Internet.

For weeks Cuban exiles had been calling on governments and  human rights organizations for help. We do not know if Cardinal Ortega Alamino, who has access to General Raúl Castro, interceded privately with him on behalf of Wilmar who is the father of two children;  or if the Cuban Cardinal, who participated in the arrangement where Cuba released political prisoners and forced many of them and their families, including children, into banishment in Spain, alerted the Holy See about the impending death.

The Cuban regime can no longer murder in secrecy; it fears the Internet and the Cubans who are willing to die demanding respect for human rights. But the regime continues to enjoy international impunity for its unspeakable deeds. The opening to Havana sponsored by the Obama Administration has emboldened the Castro brothers who are engaged in a widespread human rights crackdown.  Right now Senator Richard Durbin is in Havana, presumably discussing ways of further lessening of U.S. sanctions with Cuban authorities.

Another Cuban, a gay man, was beaten to death by Cuban police earlier in the week.  A few days ago, many of the Ladies in White, the group of mothers, wives and daughters of political prisoners who attend mass dressed in white were detained  by police in Havana and other provinces when they tried to travel to a meeting of the group. The leader of the group, Laura Pollan, who had been beaten and harassed repeatedly by the police, died under unclear circumstances in a Cuban hospital last year.

All of this is happening while the eyes of the world focus elsewhere. May the assassins be brought to justice in a free Cuba.  And may all the victims rest in peace.

Frank Calzon is a guest blogger to AQ Online. He is the Executive Director of the Center for a Free Cuba in Washington DC.

Tags: Cuba, Human Rights, Laura Pollan, Raul Castro
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