in CUBA and the americas
in CUBA and the americas
From the moment that Castro took power, Cubans have been rebelling. In the 1960s this rebellion came in the form of armed struggle in the Escambray mountains. By the 1980s, the opposition concentrated in Miami, and was largely political and international, until the early 1990s. By then, a new generation of non-violent, but fiercely defiant men and women took to openly denouncing, the government's repression. Like their predecessors these brave men and women have been tortured, imprisoned and even murdered. Yet numbers have been growing. This new reality, combined with international nominations to the Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize, have brought the confrontation closer to the climax and the Regime closer to the edge. Their next step could be their last.
Below is a list of some of most well known members of the opposition. The list is not exclusive, and a continually changing.
Dr. Oscar E. Biscet
The recipient of the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a candidate to the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Biscet is perhaps the most well known and emblematic figure of the Cuban opposition -even U2's Bono dedicated a concert to his name. Biscet, began by exposing the regime's practice of pressuring women with problem pregnancies to have abortions. He has served over 12 years of prison, but refused an offer to be released if he agreed to be exiled. Often compared to Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr., he promotes non-violent defiance. He is the only high profile leader in the opposition, who openly rejects any reformation of the system, advocating instead for its full extinction.
Dr. Antonio Rodiles
Antonio Rodiles is a Cuban dissident and founder of Estado de Stas, an organization dedicated to holding civic seminars in Cuba, which are prohibited by the Regime.
Rodiles was a university professor at the University of Florida, when he decided to return to Cuba and take up the cause. Rodiles is also the main coordinator of the Citizen Demand for Another Cuba.
Jorge Luis Perez Antunez
The co-recipient of the Democracy Award of the National Edowment for Democracy, Antunez has spent over 17 years in prison and has been extensively tortured for his activities. In prison, he refused to wear the uniform and participate in "communist re-education", which meant a violent beating, nine months in solitary confinement and more years in prison. While in prison he founded a new organization of political prisoners. Pope John Paul and many other world leaders campaigned for his release. Antunez, has been a strong critic of the Obama policy, describing it as a capitulation to the regime. His wife is also a well known member of the oppostion.
Jose Daniel Ferrer
The co-recipient of the Democracy Award of the National Endowment for Democracy, Ferrer began his opposition to the regime as a member of the Varela Project. He was imprisoned as part of the Black Spring of 2003 and sentenced to 25 years. Like Biscet, he refused an offer to be released directly into exile, and under pressure, the regime released him 2011. Today, Ferrer leads UNPACU, perhaps the most organized opposition group in Cuba, and operating mostly on the eastern half of the island. UNPACUs strategy consists not only of the defiant exercise of political rights, such as free speech, but also of social assistance projects, such as toy drives, and assisting needy neighbors.
Rosa Maria Paya
Rosa María Payá Acevedo is a Cuban activist for freedom and human rights. The daughter of activist Oswaldo Payá, head of the Christian Liberation Movement, she took up much of his activist work after he died under mysterious circumstances on 22 July 2012. The magazine “People en Español” named her one of the 25 most powerful Latin women of 2014, along with such celebrities as Jennifer López and Sofía Vergara. She is a great strategists.
After the assassination of Laura Pollan, Berta Soler became the current leader of Ladies in White, a group originally composed of wives and female relatives of political prisoners who protested on their behalf which has since 2011 transformed into a more general human rights group open to Cuban women. Almost every week the Ladies in White are beaten and harassed by the Regime.
Marta Beatriz Roque
Marta Beatriz Roque is a Cuban political dissident. She is an economist by training, and the founder as well as director of the Cuban Institute of Independent Economists. In 1997, Roque, Vladimiro Roca, Felix Bonne and Rene Gomez Manzano published a paper titled "The Homeland Belongs to All," which discussed Cuba's human rights situation and called for political and economic reforms. They also called for a boycott of elections in Cuba's one-party system and for investors to avoid Cuba.The four were detained without trial for nineteenth months.
Dr. Guillermo Farinas
Guillermo Farinas is the recipient of the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize. In 2010, when fellow dissident, Orlando Zapata Tamayo died of a hunger strike asking for the release of 53 political prisoners, Farinas, took up his cause, declaring himself in an indefinite hunger strike until his death or until their release. Ultimately, the government released the prisoners.