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Column 082712 Brewer

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cuban Dissidents Condemn Castro's Chronic Rights Violations

By Jerry Brewer

It is abundantly clear that current and former Cuban citizens of the world continue to speak out against the Castro regime, citing executions, torture and an oppression that has held and degraded the Cuban homeland since Fidel Castro came to power with his revolution in 1959.

As leftist leaders, such as President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, claim a devotion, emulating and glorifying Castro's revolution as their own, the Castro brother's tenure of a dictatorial lack of humane leadership and ruin of the Cuban homeland remains constant chatter by those that have lived the nightmare.

Many voices have recently emerged from the walls of silence in Cuba, and from those that have escaped to a safer and better quality of life. From former government officials and Cuban spies that led Castro's sinister and deadly agendas of revolution throughout Latin America and other locations in the world, the stories all tend to correlate into what appears to be a true and real picture of a continuing deadly regime.

Yoani Sanchez, a brave dissident who continues to blog to the free world of her personal observations within Cuba, in 2009 publicly criticized Castro's censorship and announced from a public podium microphone, "the time has come to jump over the wall of control." The government was quick to condemn the event, and Sanchez was rewarded with tailing and "permanent surveillance by Cuba's police force, which camps outside her home."

Many waiting out the Castro's seemingly perpetual rule of oppression and human rights abuses have died of hunger strikes. On May 25, 1972 Pedro Luis Boitel, known as a poet, died after 53 days of a hunger strike "without receiving medical assistance." Guillermo Farinas died in 2006 of a hunger strike and was honored by Reporters Without Borders with its Cyber-Freedom Prize.

Following the end of a 17 year sentence of imprisonment in 2009, a valiant Jorge Luis Garcia Perez also led hunger strikes. While imprisoned he "refused to wear the uniform and participate in "communist reeducation," which meant a violent beating, nine months in solitary confinement and more years in prison." One charge he faced was the failure to respect Fidel Castro. In 2012 Wilman Villar Mendoza died after a hunger strike of over 50 days. He had been serving time from an arrest on November 14, 2011 while participating in an anti-government protest.

Gladys Bensimon, an award winning multilingual producer, director and president of HBR productions near New York City, has spent much of her career exposing dictators and associated human rights violators. 

Her most recent film, "Celebrating Life in Union," was selected by the New York City International Film Festival. The 90 minute documentary was screened to a full house in a Tribeca Cinemas' theater on August 14, 2012, as part of the festival.

The film and powerfully courageous story follows a group of ex-Cuban political prisoners through their memories of imprisonment, physical and mental torture, and their half-century fight with the aging, tyrannical and oppressive Castro regime. It is a powerful and touching story of human resilience, community and brotherhood, told by the victims that survived.

Andy Garcia [56], the famed Cuban American actor, is the narrator of this important and factual docudrama told by the victims with a passionate and strong emotional fervor.

In a recent interview by this author with the director, Gladys Bensimon, for, she told me, "Fidel betrayed them. They believed in democracy and when Fidel Castro decided not to call for elections after the first 18 month in power, and after Huber Matos resigned because of the same reason, they decided to take up arms against Castro."

Bensimon's voice is emotional as she responds to a question as to how this project affected her personally.

"When I met with, and entered their association and network and conducted my research, I was shocked and moved. There were hundreds of pictures of young men and some women who were murdered by Fidel's firing squads.  This story needed to be told now.  I am a filmmaker and an activist. I will continue to expose their oppression and others who believe in absolute power to support their corruptive systems.  More projects will come to expose oppression," she said.

Bensimon also said that her event was attended "by a few from the Cuban mission, who were sent to check on us."

The July 22, 2012 death in Cuba of Oswaldo Paya [60], a key leader of the Cuban democratic opposition, has sparked yet more controversy. Paya died in a traffic accident near the city of Bayamo when his car slammed into a tree. Cuban authorities claim it was simply an accident.

However Paya's 23-year-old daughter, Rosa Maria Paya, challenges that version. On July 23 she told The Guardian (UK) that "the vehicle was deliberately rammed." As well, Rosa Maria Paya told the Miami-based El Nuevo Herald "that passengers in the car at the time of the crash had told the family of a second vehicle that had tried to force their car off the road," according to the MercoPress news agency (July 25, 2012). 


Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.  His website is located at

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