A recent episode in Cuba has the friends of that nation quite upset. As I understand it, a 15-year-old girl named Berenice Héctor González was defending her aunt, a member of the Ladies in White. The Ladies in White are a group made up of wives, sisters, daughters, and other relatives of political prisoners. They do such things as march silently through the streets and hold candlelight vigils. The dictatorship considers them a great threat, and attacks them, physically, often.
For the offense of defending her aunt and other Ladies in White against taunts — “Putas,” etc. — Berenice was sliced up, with a knife, by the daughter of a state-security official. Berenice was sliced all over her body, basically. When she and her family went to seek justice — again, as I understand it — they were beaten. This is absolutely standard operating procedure in the Castros’ paradise.
For those who can bear it, an article is here, and a video (in Spanish) is here. I now await the usual mail from the American Left telling me that 15-year-old Berenice is a Batista stooge (that dictator having been removed from power in 1959, almost 40 years before Berenice was born).
A friend of mine in Miami, a Cuban exile, wrote me in particular despair. She said, “What can we do? What is the best way to stop this?” I don’t know. The Cuban people — like other peoples under totalitarian dictatorship — seem helpless before their persecutors. Most of the world is indifferent. Che Guevara’s face graces, or defaces, a billion T-shirts. Fidel Castro receives warmest treatment in American universities, and, personally, from many members of our political establishment (Congressman Rangel, Congressman Serrano, and so on).
For three years, Alan Gross, an American aid worker, has been held hostage in Cuba. The United States either can’t do anything or won’t do anything. For a National Review piece last year, I asked Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, about the matter. I said, “Why doesn’t the Castro government pay a price for this? I mean, we’re the United States, and they’re holding an aid worker of ours hostage? Are we a superpower or what?”
She said, in essence, “Jay, what are you talking about? They killed three U.S. citizens and one permanent resident. They blew them out of the skies, when they were in international airspace. [These were Brothers to the Rescue pilots, looking for wretches on rafts to pick up, before they drowned.] The dictatorship paid basically no price for that. You think they’re going to pay a price for holding an aid worker hostage?”
Ah — when you put it that way . . .
P.S. A happy, laudable thing occurred in 2005: The Ladies in White won the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. This is given by the European Parliament. If the Ladies or a dissident such as Oscar Biscet won the Nobel prize, that would rock Cuba, I think. But you remember what Armando Valladares (one of the greatest of the dissidents) said: “If the Cuban dictatorship were right-wing instead of left-wing, we’d have won two or three Nobel prizes already.” For sure.
The one and only.