Ladies in white see through Raul Castro
Among the bravest and most persistent protesters against dictatorial regimes have been, for years, the Ladies in White of Cuba. With Fidel presumably sidelined, his brother Raul carries on the brutish family tradition of crushing dissent, as seen in his attacks against this non-violent group.
Ladies in White members are comprised of relatives of caged political prisoners, as well as unyielding Cuban human rights activists. For an ongoing account of what they have to endure while much of the world -- including America -- now largely ignores the victims of this ruthless "Revolution,? read the account below:
On Aug. 7, 20 Ladies in White bearing flowers (never weapons) began their march on the streets of the city of Santiago de Cuba after leaving its cathedral.
Government-organized mobs battered the women and pushed them into buses headed for an unknown destination. More of these hoodlums, also assembled by the Ministry of the Interior, also beat up Ladies in White that day in the city of Palmarito del Cauto. ("Activists With Fractures Are Hospitalized After Brutal Attack," Aug. 7, netforcuba.org).
For their "disloyalty" to the Castro regime, six Ladies in White and other human-rights dissidents were hospitalized. And dig this if you have been led to believe that Cuba's rulers have been "humanized" in recent years:
"By orders of the political police, doctors refused to provide these wounded activists with a medical certificate, which they need in order to accuse Cuban authorities of the violence perpetrated against them." (Raul seems to be becoming more meticulous in denying charges of cruelty.)
One of the few U.S. newspapers still covering the Stalinist beat in Cuba is The Miami Herald ("Cuban dissidents say cops again beat women," miamiherald.com, Aug. 16). These violently enforced gag rules "marked the fourth weekend in a row that authorities have used physical force and even violence to break up the women?s attempt to establish their right to protest in eastern Cuba."
And this is how utterly insistent on squashing dissent the Castro administration remains after all these bloody decades, as reported by The Miami Herald:
"Police also detained another seven Ladies in White supporters before they could get to the cathedral (in Santiago), including three who tried to sneak out of their homes around 2 a.m. in hopes of evading the security forces," said Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, a recently freed political prisoner. "One of the women fainted when confronted with a police guard dog."
Is Raul Castro, shown enlisting combative dogs, becoming insecure?
Another rare U.S. news source staying on the Castro brothers' revolutionary crusade against free speech is The Wall Street Journal ("On Cuba's Capital Steps," Aug. 27). The week before, there were four Cubans "who took to the steps of the Capitol in Havana ... chanting 'liberty' for 40 minutes" -- until dragged into patrol cars by uniformed Castro state security thugs.
One of them, Sara Marta Fonseca -- a member of Cuba's Rosa Parks Feminist Movement for Civil Rights -- in a telephone interview with Diario de Cuba, a Spain-based online newspaper, said she was pleased with the results of her arrest "because she heard the crowd crying 'abuser, leave them alone, they are peaceful and they are telling the truth.'"
Fonseca explained: "I am very happy because in spite of being beaten and dragged, we could see that the people were ready to join us."
However, she does admit: "Realistically, we do not have the strength and the power to defeat the dictatorship. The strength and the power are to be found in the unity of the people. In this we put all our faith, in that this people will cross the barrier of fear and join the opposition to reclaim freedom."
These Cuban forces of freedom, however, will continue to get no support from, gosh, the American Library Association (ALA), despite its mantra "The Freedom to Read." The ALA resolutely will not condemn the Castros' attacks on Cuban independent librarians.
Because I've long reported on this shame of the ALA, the world's largest organization of librarians -- by contrast with library associations in other countries rebuking Cuba -- I've been scorned by Eliades Costa, the director of the Cuban National Library, where biographies of Martin Luther King Jr. are banned there.
Said Costa: "What does Mr. Hentoff know of the real Cuba?"
My public answer (The Friends of Cuban Libraries, "Defenders of Intellectual Freedom," Aug. 28, 2011): "I know that if I were a Cuban, I'd be in prison."
I also damn well know that I'm right about the ALA's silence on Castro courts ordering the burning of books seized from arrested Cuban independent librarians -- and that these raids continue. From Friends of Cuban Libraries late-breaking news section, on April 9: "Jose Ramon Rivera, the director of an independent library in Pinar del Rio Province, complains that a State Security major named Rafael and two police agents entered his house at #655 Garmendia St. and, without showing a warrant, took away four boxes of books."
Now hear this: On April 30, in New York, ALA activist Rhonda Neugebauer, when asked why in 20 years of visits to Cuba she hasn't been able to find any censorship of books, said: "The question does not deserve an answer."
Fortunately, Americans still find public libraries essential. Next time you're in one, ask the librarian to insist that the American Library Association help Cubans gain their right of freedom to read by speaking the truth about the Castros!
And why has so much of our online, print and electronic media let the ALA get away with this naked hypocrisy? I can only imagine that the smiling Castro brothers approve of the august ALA's silence.
Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights.