Sunday, February 28, 2010

Orlando Zapata Tamayo

Cuban dissidents are rotting in prison. Has anybody noticed?

There's a regime out there where people are routinely sentenced to 36 years in jail on the grounds that they're political opponents. People get thrown in jail with charges such as "contempt", "criticism" and "alteration of order".

This same regime has never held free elections. Not once. The same family (two brothers) has been at the helm for fifty years now, outwearing most dictatorships you can think of, including Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Pinochet, Ceaucescu and many others.

You'd have thought that this type of regime would garner little sympathy from most people on the left.

Instead, would you believe it, this one-party state is actively supported by a lot of well-meaning people all over the Western World, the same people who are consistently vocal in support of freedom and the rights of the oppressed; people who call themselves "liberal", "progressive" and "socialist".

There are acclaimed, intelligent leftist bands endorsing it, trade unions organising support rallies and progressive MPs writing eulogies. In case you hadn't clocked it, we're talking about Cuba.

This week, the Castro regime allowed a peaceful 42-year-old bricklayer and democracy activist (Amnesty International had declared him "a prisoner of conscience" after his arrest in 2003) to die after an 86-day hunger strike in protest against government abuses, prison torture and brutal treatment of political opponents.

The brave freedom campaigner was called Orlando Zapata Tamayo.


socialist sam said...

This is one breathtakingly shallow portrayal of Cuban politics.

Zero words on the crippling and unethical 48-year-long US embargo. Nothing about a health system with no equals across both North and South America. Nothing on the excellent literacy levels and the general pro-Castro attitude of the Cuban People.

The masses of jailed political dissidents? You mean 200 people out of a population of 11.5 million?

Perhaps you're thinking of Guantanamo Bay as the model of democracy the Cubans should look up to?

I expect you to write a similar piece about political dissidents in Europe too. The Basque Country and Ulster to begin with.

Paul said...

Good article Claude. Check out Derek Wall's blog 'Another Green World' for an insight into how a senior member of a UK political party provides undiluted support for the Cuban regime. Predictably enough however the supporters of Cuba will engage in obfuscation and not answer any of your well articulated points.

claude said...

200 people eh, socialist sam? You should try to find out more about it, because 200 is simply the number of the long term ones. Brief spells in prison are run of the mill amongst dissidents. 1,500 were recorded alone in 2008.

You also forgot to mention the exodus of more than 1 million people between 1959 and 2000 mainly to the United States but also to Europe.

Out of a population of 11.5m that's hardly an endorsement of Cuban socialism, or is it?

How can a self-professed "socialist" like you, stick up for a country that requires an expensive "exit permit" if you want to leave and explore "abroad"?

How can you not see a regime where vast underclasses are run by a political elite?

How can you not despise this: the second top country in the world for number of imprisoned journalists and reporters?

claude said...

BTW, Paul.
I checked out the blog you mentioned. No comment.

Emma said...

The Manics actually now regret and feel a bit embarrassed about their pro-Cuba rhetoric of 2001 and have openly said so in interviews. Just to clarify!

Paul said...

Claude, Wall comments extensively on Cuba on his blog and is always supportive of the regime. However when challenged to debate the lack of democracy in Cuba he falls silent or plays the 'you are trolling card'. It may be possible to deduce from this that some Greens at least favour the authoritarian imposition of Socialist rule, along the lines of the Cuban model.