Thursday, May 12, 2005

Crackdown on Cuba's disaffected youth

Posted on Thu, May. 12, 2005

Crackdown on Cuba's disaffected youth


Cuba's government is repressive. Its latest crackdown targets so-called ''anti-social'' youths, most of them black. Since January more than 400 people have been imprisoned, almost every one of them black.

The rationale for the arrests is that this is a ''pre-offense security measure,'' for not complying with the ''norms of socialist morality.'' This explains why there are no charges filed. Even the Cuban government can't file a charge for a crime that has not been committed -- but they can and do arrest you just in case.

The presumed crime is ''dangerousness.'' Kids are being jailed because they didn't attend mass rallies, listen to speeches by Fidel Castro or join the Communist Youth Union.

That's like having your teenage son thrown in prison for listening to rap instead of going to a government-sponsored march in support of changes to the Social Security system.

No civilized society locks up people who haven't committed a crime. But Cuba goes further. It has confined the youths to high-security cell blocks.

So where are the voices of international protest? Where is Brazil's President, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, or Argentina's President Néstor Kirchner on this? Nowhere. Has Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez protested the preemptive jailing of black youths in Cuba? Of course not. Will the United Nations Commission on Human Rights take up the cause of these kids, demand their release and put an end to this abuse? Don't count on it.

Though the Cuban government continues to repress Cubans, the European Commission has resumed diplomatic relations. The leader of the Spanish government visits with Fidel Castro while most of the 75 people infamously jailed in the 2003 crackdown on dissidents languish in jail.

What is wrong with this picture? What is it about Castro that lulls people into acceptance of his repressions with a ''well, that's Fidel'' kind of shrug of the shoulders?

International pressure is the best hope for freeing Cuba's unjustly imprisoned youths and other political prisoners. Courage and intellectual integrity are required, however, for that international pressure not only to be brought to bear, but to have the moral force to move this mountain in Havana.

We cannot fail to hope, but we see little reason to believe, that leaders who are playing political footsie with Castro will rediscover enough moral core to protest along with us.

Click here: 05/12/2005 Crackdown on Cuba's disaffected youth

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