Dissidents in Cuba
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Cuba Kills Another Dissident

Cuba Kills Another Dissident
After Obama’s detente: More tourists on the island and more repression.
By Mary Anastasia O’Grady
March 5, 2017 5:08 p.m. ET

Score another kill for the Cuban military dictatorship: Last month it
eliminated Afro-Cuban dissident Hamell Santiago Más Hernández, an inmate
of one of its most notoriously brutal prisons.

The remarkable thing was not the death of a critic. That’s routine in a
police state that holds all the guns, bayonets, money and food. What’s
noteworthy is that the world hardly blinked, which is to say that two
years after President Obama’s detente with Raúl Castro, the regime still
dispatches adversaries with impunity. It also routinely blocks visitors
to the island, even of the leftist stripe—more on this in a moment—in
order to keep the population isolated. “Normalization” to the contrary,
Cuba is the same totalitarian hellhole that it has been for the past 58
years.
Cuba’s now-President Raul Castro at Revolution Square in Havana during a
2006 military parade.
Cuba’s now-President Raul Castro at Revolution Square in Havana during a
2006 military parade. Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Forty-five-year-old Más Hernández was a member of the Patriotic Union of
Cuba, a group working for a peaceful transition to democracy. He was
healthy when he was arrested in June and sentenced to four years in
prison for “disrespect for authority”—a k a failure to bow to the
masters of the slave plantation. His real crime was advocating for a
free Cuba while black. There are few more lethal combinations.

The black Cuban is supposed to show gratitude to the revolution to
sustain the myth that he has been elevated by communism. The grim
reality is the opposite, but heaven help those who dare to say so.

In November, Más Hernández was transferred to Combinado del Este prison,
a dungeon not fit for animals. There he developed a kidney infection.
His wife told the independent media in Cuba that he lost almost 35
pounds. According to his overlords he died on Feb. 24 of a “heart
attack.” Funny, that epidemic of heart disease among those who cross Castro.

His death ought to prick the conscience of the free world. But while the
island is crawling with foreign news bureaus, the story has not appeared
in the English-language press. President Obama may have opened Cuba to
more tourists, but the regime takes pains to keep its 11 million captive
souls and their misery invisible.

The Castro family is a crime syndicate and many American businesses want
a piece of the action. Sheraton Four Points now runs a hotel owned by
the military regime. The luggage company Tumi spent the winter promoting
Cuba travel on its website. (Note to self: Buy that new suitcase from
someone who isn’t blind to tyranny.) The upshot is that more U.S.
dollars flow to Cuba’s military coffers than ever before.

Mr. Obama argued that more contact with outsiders would empower Cubans.
The regime agrees. It has been open to foreign tourism and investment
since the end of Soviet subsidies in the early 1990s, and millions of
Europeans, Latin Americans and Asians have flooded the country. But its
secret police keep a tight leash on visitors.

British real-estate developer Stephen Purvis, Canadian businessmen Cy
Tokmakjian and Sarkis Yacoubian and U.S. Agency for International
Development contractor Alan Gross all did time in Cuban jails for being
too independent of the mob boss.

Last month Castro took the audacious step of refusing visas to three
prominent Latin American politicians who could hardly be regarded as
enemies of Cuba.

Organization of American States Secretary-General Luis Almagro was
invited to Cuba by Rosa María Payá. She is the daughter of the late
Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, who was killed in a suspicious car
accident in the summer of 2012. Mr. Almagro was slated to receive an
award named for Ms. Payá’s father from the Latin America Youth Network
for Democracy. But Mr. Almagro, who is a Uruguayan leftist, was denied
entry to the island.

The regime also blocked Mariana Aylwin, the daughter of Patricio Aylwin,
the first elected Chilean president post-Pinochet. Ms. Aylwin is a
Christian Democrat and a former education minister and was to accept a
posthumous award for her late father. She remains an important voice in
the Chilean Christian Democrat Party, which is a member, with the
Communist Party among others, of the governing coalition.

Ms. Payá also invited former Mexican President Felipe Calderón to the
event. Mr. Calderón is a member of Mexico’s center-right PAN, but as
head of state he was friendly toward Cuba. One memorable moment was when
he welcomed Raúl at the Rio Group summit on the Mayan Riviera in 2010 at
a time when Orlando Zapata, another black Cuban dissident, lay dying in
a military prison. Mr. Calderón was also denied a visa.

Cuba is not reforming. As always, dissidents are sent to prison death
traps, and now Castro insults highly placed onetime friends by refusing
them access to the island. Tourists are welcome, but only to drink state
propaganda and leave behind hard currency. Any suggestion that Cubans
have a right to self-determination remains a crime against the state.

Write to O’Grady@wsj.com.

Source: Cuba Kills Another Dissident – WSJ –
www.wsj.com/articles/cuba-kills-another-dissident-1488751707

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