Last year on May 20, people around the world celebrated the first annual Solidarity with Cuba Day. The day was already significant; it is the same day that Cuba won its independence from Spain. Today, Cubans seek an independence from the brutal human rights conditions of the Castro regime.
While the original Solidarity with Cuba Day had a purpose in calling for the release of all prisoners of conscience–of which there are at least 200 today, and likely more–today the day marks a day of hope.
People are speaking out. Cubans are fighting against the regime that denies them the right to vote, to receive fair trials, and the freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. Former political prisoners are giving the silenced a voice, and the world is finally hearing from Cuban citizens.
And from a country that controls 90% of its own economic activity, denies freedom of expression, assembly and free association, and even imprisons bloggers for distributing information, this sound is desperately needed.
Executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas Sarah Stephens says, “The right way to advance our values is to engage with Cuba’s people and its government, enable all Americans to travel to Cuba, and encourage real exchanges about our values and ideals.”
With the restrictions on Cuban flights being loosened by the Obama administration, further engagement with Cuban citizens–and perhaps aid–is possible.
Cubans believe that that day is coming soon, and reiterate that belief with the song by Cuban-born Willy Chirino, “Nuestro Dia, Ya Viene Llegando” (Our Day: It is Coming Soon).