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Yesterday in Cuba

Cuban dissident Óscar Elías Biscet walks with his wife, Elsa Morejón, as he flashes a victory sign to reporters after meeting former U.S. president Jimmy Carter in Havana, March 30, 2011. (Desmond Boylan / Reuters)

I have an Impromptus column today, touching on an array of issues, as usual — most of them touchy. I begin with the issue of presidential pardons (and commutations). Rod Blagojevich, a former governor of Illinois, and a former contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice, is the latest to receive clemency. Upon his release, he said, “If you’re asking what my party affiliation is, I’m a Trumpocrat.”

If you can stand some more talk about Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, I have some of that. Plus talk about the Defense Department, abortion, music, and more.

On the Corner today, I wanted to mention Óscar Biscet, with whom National Review readers are well familiar. Óscar Elías Biscet is a Cuban physician and democracy leader. He was imprisoned for a total of twelve years. In 2007, George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in absentia. That was a huge service: to Biscet himself; to the Cuban democracy movement; and to human rights in general.

What political prisoners want most is to be remembered; what their persecutors want most is that the prisoners be forgotten.

Thanks to international pressure, Biscet was released in 2011. I immediately interviewed him, here. In 2016, Bush was able to hang the medal around Biscet’s neck personally, in a ceremony held in Dallas.

Yesterday, Biscet was arrested again. They broke in at 7:30 in the morning and ransacked his home. They confiscated computers and anything else they liked. They drove him off somewhere, as they are infamous for doing. Meanwhile, his wife, Elsa Morejón, and friends were able to notify the broader world: “Biscet is missing.”

Supporters of Cuban democracy in Washington and elsewhere were able to amplify the news further. They let the regime know that people were watching, including some important people (U.S. senators and the like).

That afternoon, Biscet was returned home.

Yesterday’s episode was a reminder of the arbitrariness of dictatorial rule. They can swoop in anytime for any reason, or no reason at all. It was a reminder of the vulnerability of democracy campaigners. And of the importance of paying attention, to the extent possible.

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