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
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
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