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  EDITORIAL

A Real Gulag at Guantanamo Next Door

For almost five years now the U.S Naval Base in Guantanamo, Cuba, has been highlighted by the international news media after 600 militants of the Afghanistan's dictatorial group known as The Taliban and the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda were jailed in the base for interrogation. In a foreword to Amnesty International's International Report 2005, the Secretary General, Irene Khan, made a passing reference to the Guantanamo Bay prison as "the gulag of our times," breaking an internal AI policy on not comparing different human rights abuses. The report reflected ongoing claims of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo and other military prisons.

Just a few miles north of the U.S. Naval Base you will find Cuba, a small country ruled by a Communist regime since 1959. Since the early 1960s, more than 100,000 Cubans have been jailed for political reasons, and about 12,000 have been executed by firing squads or killed by security forces. According to Amnesty International there are 400 political prisoners in Cuba at this very moment, most of them "prisoners of conscience" whose crime has been to become human rights activists. They are serving sentences of up to 28 years after well known undue processes.

At least three generations of Cubans have lived without the fundamental freedoms most Western countries enjoy. In Cuba, you may go to jail for speaking your mind; you have only one employer, the Cuban government; you are not allowed to access the Internet; you are not allowed to watch foreign TV or read foreign newspapers and magazines; you are not allowed to travel to a foreign country without a government authorization; you are not allowed to own a private company. Furthermore, you are not allowed to be a Communist by your own, you are a Communist only if you follow the rules of the Cuban Communist Party, the only political organization legally authorized to operate in Cuba.

According to Reporters Without Borders, "on March 18, 2003, an unprecedented wave of repression broke over Cuban dissidents. For three days, ninety opponents of the regime were arrested on grounds that they were "agents of the American enemy." Among them were twenty-seven journalists. Nearly all of them were tried under the "88 Law" of February 1999, which protects the "national independence and economy of Cuba," and were given prison sentences ranging from 14 to 27 years."

Almost half a century after Fidel Castro became the dictator of Cuba, it is time for the international community to help the Cuban people recover their fundamental freedoms and rights, because Cuba is the real Gulag of the West.

© Contacto Magazine
Published on February 21, 2007




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