Black Spring sixteen years later

75 opponents are arrested and imprisoned

A police raid that covered practically the entire national territory giving rise to what in the world became known as the Black Spring of Cuba.

Dozens of opponents of the Castro regime were arrested, and 75 of them, sentenced to deprivation of liberty. They had sanctions of between six and twenty-eight years in prison, leading Amnesty International to declare that, “the condemned were prisoners of conscience,” given that the conduct of which they were accused was “peaceful and within the parameters of the legitimate exercise of fundamental freedoms guaranteed by international norms.

Considering, furthermore, that the charges were “politically motivated and disproportionate to the alleged crimes”.

The condemned were 74 men and one woman. Fidel Castro called her “one of the most notorious counterrevolutionary leaders”. At his home on February 24, 2003, a group of opponents gathered to commemorate the 108th anniversary of the War of Independence.

That patriotic act, called by the opposition, in which James Cason, then head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, also participated, Fidel Castro took it as an insult.

Martha Beatriz, an economist, sentenced to prison in the Black Spring and later with an extrapenal license, refused to leave Cuba, exiled, after the Group of 75 to be released.

But neither Martha Beatriz nor the rest of the opponents of the Group of 75 who remain in Cuba, technically, the extra-criminal license exempts them from the main sanction imposed nor from the accessories, so they are deprived of their rights, among which are the right to active and passive suffrage. In an election process they cannot elect or be elected.

Sixteen years ago, police cars braked, abruptly and ostentatiously, or with the utmost secrecy, in front of the houses of the opponents previously sentenced to prison. In their houses drawers were emptied, papers, books, old typewriters were seized, and then families saw their loved ones, guarded by policemen, depart for the dungeons.

I was not and I am not a “counterrevolutionary ringleader”, according to the late Fidel Castro, I am only captain of myself, but threatening me for having written the novel Bucaneros, the lieutenant colonel Abel Cervantes Palomino, at that time chief of penal processes in Las Tunas, very proudly told me: “We got the highest sanction of the 75”.

He was referring to Luis Enrique Ferrer García, detained in Puerto Padre, sentenced to 28 years in prison, after celebrating something like a Roman circus at the Universidad de Ciencias Médicas de Las Tunas.

And on days like this, I can only call Martha Beatriz to say to her: “Martha, the woman has in her favor femininity and at the same time the spiritual strength that allows her to appreciate an event with the subtlety that men often lack, then… How did you appreciate the arrests in 2003 and how do you appreciate the consequences of those arrests 16 years later?

“They took the prisoners from one end of the country to the other; but if the regime thought of bending the opposition, the shot went out the window. Instead of diminishing opposition increased, and led to the emergence of the Ladies in White, which are the visible face of opposition in exile, and in many parts of the world.

Martha Beatriz, Fidel Castro himself admitted that in February and March 2003 “we were already worse than in the days before that August 5, 1994,” when hundreds of Cubans protested at the Havana Malecon, accusing you of the “idea of unleashing a massive emigration, which would be the argument for an aggression against the country” on the part of the United States.

“There have been a few mass migrations in Cuba, but the opponents have never had anything to do with them.”

According to Roque Cabello, the only woman in the Group of 75, the arrests of the 2003 Black Spring occurred at a time of “weakness” of the regime, like the one living “now.

It is no secret, and even less so for the Castro regime, the growing discontent of the population as a result of the progressive shortage of supplies that Cuba is experiencing today, dissatisfactions exacerbated by the overflowing bureaucratism of an authoritarian regime that, in order to remain in power, decrees even how theatrical performances and painting exhibitions should be.

It is worth asking oneself: In order to silence Cubans, will castrism opt in 2019 for massive imprisonments such as those of the Black Spring of 2003?

Because of the international condemnation of that time and the determination of not a few opponents to die on hunger strike before carrying out unjust sanctions, large harvests of prisoners are not to be expected.

But the existence of Castro’sism is subordinated to the applause, or at least to the silence of the Cubans, and in order to maintain that applause or silence, given that Castro’s expertise is not the production of food or other goods but the construction of prisons, it is to be expected that the imprisonment and harassment of as many people as the Castro’s bloodhounds smell opposition will not cease, as it has been throughout these 60 years.

“In the life of a people, the turning point is when people let power go to criminals,” Willy Brad said. And as long as castrism exists in Cuba, no one who opposes the regime is safe. History has shown it from 1959 to the present day.

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