Finally, there's a little MSM recognition of the Assembly for a Civil Society - the Orlando Sentinel publishes an editorial by Alberto Bustamante. He points out that tomorrow marks the 103rd anniversary of Cuba's independence from Spain.
This memorable day has not been celebrated for many years, but the island's democracy movement, represented by 365 independent civil-society groups, has decided to hold a general meeting on that date to promote a civil society in Cuba.
Just two years ago, after the infamous crackdown that landed 75 peaceful dissidents in jail, the "Ladies in White," wives of prisoners of conscience doing time in Fidel Castro's gulags, appealed for the release of the prisoners in the name of freedom, justice and humanity.
Their plea was ignored by the regime, but their defiance has been effective, inspiring other groups of women in cities around the country.
Bustamante relates all the issues we've covered here - the Palm Sunday attack on The Ladies in White, the jailing of Dr.Oscar Elias Biscet, and the rice cookers with no rice. He concludes:
Friday could be a turning point in Cuba's history.
The Cuban dissidents need the support of the Free World -- their dreams of freedom and democracy are the same as ours, and this support will shorten the struggle and suffering of the Cuban people.
In Lakeland, Florida, the Ledger interviews Gustavo Arcos Bergnes, whom it calls the most veteran of Cuba's opposition leaders. He's excited about the Assembly, even though poor health will keep him from attending.
"I'd tell them, thanks to all of you for what you're doing in the name of everyone," Arcos said of participants. "Thank you for your courage."
Update - Mora, blogging at Babalu, has found another article in Investors.com.
Update - MSNBC also has a story online.
Approximately 500 people have been invited to attend the Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba, representing over 300 groups on the island opposed to the Castro government including illegal political parties, human rights organizations and independent libraries.
The coalition hopes to take steps toward forging unity in Cuba’s fractured pro-democracy movement still recovering from a government beating in 2003.
Assembly Gets European Support
PRESS RELEASE # 8
FIRST INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS ARE IN HAVANA
International Support for Assembly Increases
Support and Information Center, Miami, Florida, May 18, 2005, Press Advisory - 7 PM - According to a Reuters wire story, Karen Schwarzenberg and Arnold Vaatz, two members of the Czech Parliament are already in Cuba to participate in the May 20th General Meeting of the Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba.
The Information Center has also received a letter from the Radical Party, signed by 10 Italian members of the European Parliament and Senators representing the most important government political and opposition parties in support of Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello, Felix Bonne Carcasses and Rene Gomez Manzano, who head the Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba Executive Group.
Polish Legislators Ejected, Call For EU Sanctions
But all delegates have not been allowed to attend. Two Polish legislators who planned to attend the Assembly were ejected from the island.
Boguslaw Sonik and Jacek Protasiewicz, both members of Poland's Parliament, arrived Tuesday in Havana to attend a May 20 meeting of Cuban democracy activists, the EUobserver reported Wednesday.
They said they entered the country as tourists because Havana denied them diplomatic permits. Once at the airport, however, they said they were "frog-marched" to a plane headed for Mexico.
The legislators say they thought that since the EU caved in to fidel during the spring in settling the Cocktail Wars, that they would be welcomed by the castro government. They learned differently. They now plan to call on the EU to reimpose sanctions.
The Epoch Times has another interesting tidbit.
"Despite the fact that we showed our diplomatic passports, they ejected us out of Cuba where we went to as tourists to take part in a meeting of Havana citizens," he told Reuters in Warsaw.
Update - Radio Polonia reports The European Commission is unhappy:
The European Commission has deplored Cuba’s decision to deny entry and turn back two Polish members of the European Parliament. Boguslaw Sonik and Jacek Protasiewicz were invited as observers to a meeting of the opposition Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba. The Commission’s spokesman Amadeu Tardio said that this incident does not go in the direction set by the European Union - namely political dialogue, which is the way to reach the planned objectives based on democracy and respect of fundamental rights. .
fidel Fights Back
fidel, of course, is trying to generate news himself. Presna Latina reports that 1.2-million people marched yesterday against what fidel called U.S. terrorism.
And one final note. This article says Cuba is switching its computers from Windows to Linux, the favorite operating system of at least one reader of this site. The article says the island has 1,500 computers running Linux at this time. 1,500? I'll bet my city of Jacksonville alone has more than 1,500 computers running Linux. Another sign of how fidel smothers the people.