Just to follow-up on that AP story: These quotes stood out among many that sounded like they were written by Castro’s propagandists:
Conviction and dread aside, many Cubans find genuine comfort in the communist system, and reject U.S.-style democracy and values.[…]
Some Cubans retort that a system allowing President Bush to ‘’steal’’ elections and wage wars without the people’s support is certainly more flawed than their own.
What’s even more stunning than the blatant cheerleading for communism and anti-U.S. sentiments are the misleading and erroneous claims about life under Castro:
There are, of course, hundreds of dissidents and political prisoners on the island of 11 million who abhor the system and feel a desperate need for rapid change. But most Cubans would not list political repression among their most immediate concerns.
For all its flaws, life in Castro’s Cuba has its comforts, and unknown alternatives are not automatically more attractive.
Perhaps the AP should look at the most recent (2005) State Department human rights report on Cuba. Specifically, passages describing human rights violations:
- beatings and abuse of detainees and prisoners, including human rights activists, carried out with impunity
- extremely harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, including denial of medical care
- arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights advocates and members of independent professional organizations
- domestic violence, underage prostitution, and sex tourism
- discrimination against persons of African descent
- severe restrictions on worker rights, including the right to form independent unions
Here’s a little more:
On February 19, a “reeducation specialist” forced political prisoner Fidel Garcia Roldan into a cell, pushed him against the wall, then hit him repeatedly in the head.
On March 2, Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, a prisoner at Kilo 8 prison in Camaguey, was handcuffed and dragged more than 120 feet across the floor of the prison; he suffered severe cuts and abrasions. As of that date, Herrera Acosta had not been exposed to sunlight for more than one year.
Throughout March and April, authorities subjected political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia to deafeningly loud music and noise from a speaker placed by the guards at the entrance to his cell from the early morning until late each night; as of April 28, he had been denied exposure to sunlight for seven months.
In August a prison guard beat dissident Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique. On September 26, a guard at Camaguey’s Kilo 8 prison punched and broke the nose of political prisoner Lamberto Hernandez Plana […]
The government continued to subject persons who disagreed with it to “acts of repudiation.” At government instigation members of state-controlled mass organizations, fellow workers, or neighbors of victims staged public protests against those who dissented from the government’s policies by shouting obscenities and causing damage to the homes and property of those targeted. Physical attacks on victims or their family members sometimes occurred. Police and State Security agents often were present but took no action to prevent or end the attacks. Those who refused to participate in these actions faced disciplinary action, including loss of employment.
That’s only the first page of about twenty. And, how can we forget about this:
Child prostitution was a problem, with young girls engaging in prostitution to help support themselves and their families (see section 5, Trafficking).
I’ll let you read Section 5, Trafficking. The AP should do basic research next time.
UPDATE: Via The Corner, one of the Toronto Star’s reporters was detained, questioned, and threatened on a recent trip to Cuba.
For three days here, the Star was prevented from reporting on the situation in this country, even as other journalists arrived on tourist visas and reported without official detection. […]
The fact that the interior ministry could immediately find me at a hotel restaurant — not in my room — led me to believe that I had been closely monitored during my stay here. […]
It was made clear that if I wrote anything about Castro, I would be gone, “bye, bye,” the one man said as the other chuckled sardonically, but the tone also suggested that my penalty would not be an air-conditioned limousine ride to the airport.
Strange that the AP reporter, who probably entered Cuba on a tourist visa, didn’t make any mention of that in his story.
UPDATE II: Again via The Corner, 150 foreign journalists are not allowed into Cuba, making it all the more likely that the AP reporter was one of the few that managed to make it by the Cuban authorities.