Jorge Luis García Pérez and Sarah Marta Fonseca had to walk many miles, hiding behind trees and bushes to get to their destination: the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.
Their mission was to speak truth to Cuba’s despots and tell the world, by way of a live video conference during testimony to a Senate subcommittee hearing in Washington, about Cuba’s long assault on human rights. They were among four Cuban dissidents and opposition leaders who testified about being harassed, beaten and jailed for disagreeing with the communist government.
Cuba’s response was swift — and not unexpected for a regime that has for more than half a century oppressed its people. Mr. García Pérez, known as “Antúnez,” was arrested on Saturday, beaten in police lock up and held for several days.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, along with Cuban-American Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Marco Rubio, R-Fl., chastised Raúl Castro’s government. “I want to be crystal clear that I strongly condemn any efforts to intimidate Mr. Perez or any other Cuban citizen into silence,” Sen. Kerry said. “I echo the calls of my Senate colleagues, demanding an end to repression in Cuba and urging international observers to conduct an investigation into his detention.”
If only that were possible. Attempts by the United Nations and the International Red Cross to check on the island’s human-rights violations and the conditions of Cuba’s prisons have gone nowhere for decades.
Meanwhile, Cuba continues to insist that it is a “free and democratic” one-party state that just want Americans to come on down and party. Yet it jails Americans like USAID subcontractor Alan Gross, whose “crime” was to bring computers, cell phones and other equipment to help Cuba’s small Jewish community connect with the outside world. He’s now serving a 15-year sentence.
Mr. García Pérez was released Wednesday but now faces phony charges of “spreading false information” and “resistance.” That’s life in Cuba for brave souls who won’t be knocked into submission.