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President Castro, release political prisoners in Cuba!

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Editor: Mr. Mike Browne’s admiration for Cuba is well known. Like so many of our political cronies connected to the present Government, Browne, a former Minister of National Mobilization and driving power behind the ‘Educational Revolution’, has spent formative time in Cuba, which indeed did bring him success in the political life of St.Vincent since 2001.{{more}}

Clearly, Mr. Browne is indebted to his patrons, hence his appeal in last week’s papers to President Obama on behalf of ‘the Cuban Five’.

As much as it is lamentable to be innocently imprisoned anywhere, the crucial question to ask is: has fair trial and retrial been given in front of an independent court of law, not tinted by a political system? Was there proper coverage by the media and Human Right organizations, and were the accused represented by independent attorneys? From all what we know, the ‘Cuban Five’ had the privilege of all of the above, but have been found guilty of espionage for the Castro Regime.

In Cuba, only a few miles south of Florida, trials take place in secrecy or do not take place at all. Fair trials are being denied in order to enforce political conformity while using criminal prosecution. There are scores of political prisoners in Cuba, the exact figures unknown as kept strictly secret, most put away in sham trials, many of them with no trial at all. Cuba has more journalists locked up than any other country in the world, with the exception of Iran, the country our PM opened diplomatic relations with not to long ago.

According to The Human Rights Watch World Report 2011: “Cuba remains the only country in Latin America that represses virtually all forms of political dissent” (dissent meaning here, disagreement with the Communists in power). The Cuban Government continues to suppress Human Rights, e.g. freedom of expression, freedom of movement and exercises all sorts of harassment, torture and extrajudicial execution. Cubans require permission to leave their country, which is generally denied when classified a ‘counterrevolutionary’ and not being a member of the communist establishment.

For over 50 years, the Castro Government has been very effective in repressing dissidents and preventing critics from publishing or broadcasting their views. Yet in recent years, the ‘blogoshere’ (see Egypt’s young men and women) has created a new way of political criticism that is hard to control, even for dictators. Young Yoani Sanchez, now internationally acknowledged for her courage and innovative skills in using her blog: ‘Generation Y’ against the dictatorial Cuban regime, has won the Human Rights Prize in Oct. 2010. Sadly, she was not allowed to leave Cuba to receive her award. The same Obama Mr. Browne is appealing to: “Yoni’s blog provides the world a unique window into the realities of daily life in Cuba”.

Then there is Dr. Guillermo Farinas, an independent journalist imprisoned for years on end, who won Europe’s highly recognized ‘Sakharov Price for Freedom of Thought’, but was subsequently forced into exile by the Cuban regime. There are hundreds more.

Mr. Mike Browne, is it not legitimate to ask: “Why are you not also appealing to your Communist Friends, with which you have much closer contact than Obama, to release the scores of innocent Cubans, incarcerated in Cuba’s prisons?”.