Monday, November 09, 2009

Voices of Freedom Attacked
Yoani Sánchez & Orlando Luis Pardo Beaten in Cuba

UPDATES, 3:00 pm, 342 pm, 11/09/09, below:
NBC News is reporting that last Friday, Yoani Sánchez, the Cuban "Generation Y" blogger and a few of her friends, including Orlando Luis Pardo, were physically detained last Friday by the Cuban state security officials, and she and Pardo were then beaten. More from the Miami Herald, here.

Sánchez and Pardo were singled out from their small group, shoved in a car, and were physically beaten by the officials -- which she later described as the employment of "professional violence." The two of them were then reportedly driven around for about 20 minutes, and only then released.

At the time they were first accosted and detained, the state security thugs warned a few concerned onlookers off, claiming that Sánchez and Pardo were "counter-revolutionaries." They and a few other friends were being physically prevented at the time from attending what was to be a mild anti-violence demonstration. It is a familiar tactic of totalitarian communist regimes. All too familiar for those who remember the Cold War.

Obviously, the Cuban regime did not want the powerful messenger that Yoani Sánchez has become, delivering a description of events at the demonstration. When Sánchez and Pardo challenged the authority of the "officials" who had detained them, demanding identification and warrants, the officials called in for orders. Apparently having received the go-ahead, the "officials" then proceeded to physically attack and beat the two of them in the back of a vehicle.

Sánchez later described the incident here on her blog, which she entitled "A gangland style kidnapping." Prepare to be outraged as you read it.

A few months ago, we included a link here to her translated site on our blog roll, as have many American bloggers. And inspired by her courage and her skill as a writer, we also posted a quotation from her website on our site.

"After speaking your mind, you can't one fine day return to silence."

-- Yoani Sánchez, Cuban blogger quoted here.


Where, one wonders, is the public voice of outrage from our State Department, whose motto is Diplomacy in Action? After all, has the Secretary of State not been attending the celebration ceremonies marking 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall?

No, we're not her heavy involvement in talking with this Sanchez . . .

At this past Friday's State Department press briefing, there was no mention of the incident regarding Yoani Sánchez, as it was apparently too soon. But as of this writing, nothing has yet been posted on the website of the Department of State about the matter.

How about "just a "tweet" from the Secretary of State of the United States?

The topic index at the official website of the Secretary of State (located at the top) has no entree for "freedom of speech" -- none. And if you look under the broader topic of "civil rights" all recent posts there are about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender pride month issues.

Nothing about free speech. Too old-fashioned?

Then, if you look under country-by-country postings, the latest posting indexed for some mention of "Cuba" was for the daily briefing on October 26th, but it only mentioned Guantanamo Bay.

As for recent official State Department press releases on Cuba, as of this writing, there are none since September.

Finally, one wonders, where is the voice of the President of the United States, if his Secretary of State insists on remaining silent?

Will he speak up for freedom of speech?

Will he condemn the official violence in Cuba against a few lonely and courageous voices, including a brave young woman who has now been administered an official beating by the thugs the President says he is trying to engage?

UPDATE, 3:00 pm, 11/09/09: And speaking of voices that should be speaking out, where is the voice of United States Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who was born in New York, a child of Cuban immigrants? At least as of this writing, even he has remained silent.

UPDATE II: 3:42 pm, 11/09/09: Now there is a brand new interview with Yoani Sánchez, by Jose Simian found here at MEDIAite . . . where she describes in additional detail exactly what happened last Friday (ht, Big Government found here).

During the interview, Yoani also addresses what she sees as the fears of the repressive Cuban regime in attempting to deal with the internet phenomenon.

Please read the whole thing, but here is just an example of her thought:

"I don't think they are afraid of me, because I'm just a little person that they can easily eliminate. What they are afraid of is the phenomenon of the alternative blogosphere, the phenomenon that more and more young people are projecting their voices: that is tremendously contagious. This is why they may be attempting to make a sort of 'prevention,' applying some sort of vaccine, so the blogger virus, the virus of opinions, does not spread. I don't think their attack is against the person of Yoani Sánchez, but rather against the blogger phenomenon, a phenomenon of different opinions that is taking place in Cuba. They want to paralyze as many people as possible with a preventive strike."

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