A decade ago, a visionary dissident, Oswaldo Payá, launched the Varela Project in Cuba, an initiative seeking a legal plebiscite on democracy, free speech and release of political prisoners. More than 11,000 people courageously signed his petition at the time — more than 25,000 back it today — and the regime reacted with cruel disdain. In the “Black Spring” wave of arrests and repression in early 2003, some 75 activists were sentenced to long prison terms. Wisely, the E.U. reacted with disgust to the crackdown, and relations with Cuba soured.
Cuba’s Government unleashed a wave of political repression against dissidents between days 23 and 26 of this month to muzzle the peaceful opposition to face the CELAC Summit