Some 75 Cuban journalists, librarians, human rights activists and other dissidents were arrested and imprisoned during the "black spring," which started March 18, 2003. Fifty-five of them remain in Raul Castro's gulag. (The 56th, Oscar Elias Biscet, was actually arrested in December 2002, and during the "black spring" was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison.)
There are hundreds, if not thousands more political prisoners jailed in Cuba because of their opposition to tyranny and dedication to freedom. Their suffering is no less that that experienced by those arrested during the "black spring," and they are no less deserving of your prayers and solidarity. (You can read about many of them by clicking on the names on the right side of this page.)
But the Group of 75 — which now stands at 56, after a series of medical paroles — is deserving of special consideration because they were at the frontlines of the struggle to bring real change to Cuba, to bring nothing less than real democracy, freedom and human rights, whether they were activists gathering signatures for the Varela Project or journalists telling the story of Cuba, the real Cuba, for the world to know.
The dictatorship could not stand it so, as the world focused on the imminent U.S. invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003, Fidel Castro, the Darth Vader of the Caribbean, struck back, and struck back hard, arresting 75 dissidents and sentencing them to prison terms of up to 28 years for daring to oppose his dicatorship.
And the world barely raised a whisper of protest. The United Nations even elected Cuba to its Human Rights Council, and the Vatican's No. 2 man even praised Raul Castro as some sort of reformer!
Fidel Castro's action five years ago was not just an attack on Cuban liberty, it was an assault of freedom everywhere. As long as a single Cuban is jailed because of something he wrote or because he believed every Cuban should have a real vote, we are all less free.
So that's why it is incumbent we all do something on behalf of the Group of 56:
Tell someone why the embargo should remain in place.
Tell someone that Raul Castro is no different than his big brother.
Tell someone Oscar Biscet's story. And those of his fellow prisoners.
Say a prayer.
Do something this week. Your freedom, our freedom, the freedom of the Group of 55, depends on it.
The Group of 56 is:
*Oscar Elias Biscet was arrested in December 2002, and during the "black spring" he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison.