Freecubanow 2011-05-14 18:31:44
Posted on Sat, Jul. 26, 2003
Nonviolent activists writing Castro’s final chapter
Today, Fidel Castro will celebrate with rallies and speeches the 50th
anniversary of the violent act that helped establish his dictatorship.
In 1998 the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights was observed by beating and arresting activists.
Fifty-five years ago, a Cuban delegation representing a constitutional
independence; and had large numbers of newspapers and radio stations
with diverse political and ideological viewpoints.
After Fulgencio Batista destroyed the constitutional order with his
dictatorship, the Cuban people fell for a charismatic young lawyer who
promised the return of democracy through violence. On Jan. 1, 1959
Castro came to power and has remained there 44 years.
What of the values of the men who, in good faith, used violence to
effect democratic change? They did not fare so well. Mario Chanes de
Armas, for example, survived the Moncada barracks attack — whose
anniversary is today — along with Fidel Castro. The two served in
prison, trained in Mexico and returned to Cuba on the Granma yacht to
Chanes could have had any position in the new regime, but opted to
return to his brewery job. After two years of watching Castro betray
their movement, Chanes spoke out against the communist influence.
Chanes was tried as a counterrevolutionary and imprisoned for 30
The men and women who battled Batista’s dictatorship had hoped for the
restoration of Cuba’s Constitution of 1940 and its republic. They got
a totalitarian dictatorship instead. They then fought Castro for six
years in a civil war with casualties on both sides substantially
higher than the struggle against Batista. This opposition ended up in
exile, graves or imprisoned. Within those cells, Cuba’s human-rights
movement was forged.
A movement that saw the power of nonviolent resistance exercised by
the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. practiced it in Castro’s dungeons and
saw it as a means to mobilize the Cuban populace. It grew into a
national civic movement challenging the dictatorship’s monopoly of
Its means and ends are a civic, nonviolent struggle that educates
citizens, rebuilds democratic culture, reclaims human rights, refuses
to accept injustice and challenges repression. Members expose the
dictatorship’s internal contradictions by demanding that it respect
the democratic provisions of its own constitution.
Oswaldo Pay , a movement leader, observes: “What we are seeing with
this crackdown is the last chapter of this system.”
Executive Committee Member,
Cuban Democratic Directorate