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There's Still A Good Liberal
Monday, June 06, 2005   By: Juan Paxety

In my youth, there were a lot of good liberals who fought for the freedom of various peoples around the world. Unfortunately, far too many liberals now allow their domestic politics to color their view of the world. They've adopted an attitude of "if you oppose Bush, I'm with you."

One liberal who still keeps his commitment to freedom is Nat Henthoff, who writes in the Village Voice a very good article on The Assembly for A Civil Society meeting in Havana last month.

You wouldn't know it from The New York Times or nearly all the media in New York (the purported center of communications for this nation), but in Havana on May 20—for the first time in Fidel Castro's 46 years of brutal rule—there was a public mass meeting, with subversive shouts of "Freedom! Freedom!"

As Anita Snow reported for the Associated Press, "A little more than half [of the 200] present [for the Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba] were delegates from diverse opposition groups around the island. The rest were organizers, international journalists, diplomats and other special guests."

The resident dictator was clearly concerned at the refusal by these Cubans to be silenced for fear of being thrown into his gulags. He tried to keep the resistance quiet. As the Financial Times noted, "Cuba denied visas to dozens of European politicians and Cuban American leaders who sought to attend the meeting, and expelled four European deputies."

Henthoff points out the fear fidel had of the Assembly because he knew the EU was watching.  The EU is considering what it will do about trade sanctions against fidel's dictatorship. Henthoff also notes a couple of arrests that have gotten little publicity elsewhere.

Among the Cubans intending to come who were arrested beforehand were two independent librarians from eastern Cuba, Elio Enrique Chávez and Luis Elio de la Paz. In a quick, secret trial, they were charged and convicted for the crime of "dangerousness" (peligrosidad). They were a danger to his dictatorship.

In a letter smuggled out from their cells, the prisoners wrote that their captors told them their prison terms would not be publicly described as punishment but rather as a government work-study program. The librarians refused to be part of that cover-up and insisted to their jailers that they were being sentenced for their political positions.

Henthoff points out, properly, that it's fidel who maintains the gulag in Cuba.  You really should take the time to read the whole thing.


(c)1968- today j.e. simmons or michael warren