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Oscar Biscet: One Year Later By: Myles Kantor
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, December 26, 2003


Dreams are hazardous in brutal lands.

Former Czech dissident and president Vaclav Havel has observed:

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…communism [in Eastern Europe] was far from being simply the dictatorship of one group of people over another.šIt was a genuinely totalitarian system—that is, it penetrated every aspect of life and deformed everything it touched, including all the natural ways people had developed of living together.

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This is a good description of Cuba, where Fidel Castro’s regime has deformed and suffocated national life for what will be 45 years next month.

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Italians can criticize Silvio Berluconi; Englishmen can criticize Tony Blair; Argentines can criticize Nestor Kichner; Americans can criticize George W. Bush.šThey can establish organizations and assemble to protest their polices; they can publish articles and books and make broadcasts advocating different ideas.šIf these citizens find their governments intolerable, they can move to another country.

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Cubans have none of these rights.šIt is a crime to criticize Fidel Castro and his functionaries, a crime to criticize communism, and a crime to leave Cuba without permission.šš

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As over 150 left-wing writers noted in a December 4 letter to The New York Times, the Castro regime “does not trust the Cuban people to distinguish truth from falsehood, fact from disinformation.”šSavage cowardice is the essence of this system.š

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On December 6 last year, Dr. Oscar Biscet went to a home in Havana to discuss human rights violations in Cuba with other people of conscience.šHe hoped to establish such “Friends of Human Rights” clubs throughout Cuba and promote civil society.

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A month before the December 6 meeting, Biscet held a press conference on abuse of Cuban prisoners.šHe has terrible knowledge of this subject, having been a prisoner of conscience from November 3, 1999 until October 31, 2002.šHe suffered over twenty detentions before the November arrest.

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Biscet was arrested again on December 6 and sentenced in April to 25 years as part of a mass imprisonment of human rights activists.šFirst sent to the maximum security Kilo 5 ½ prison, he was transferred last month to Kilo 8 prison for protesting mistreatment of a prisoner’s family and put in a punishment cell with a violent prisoner.šHe was put in solitary confinement this month for not acknowledging prison guards and officials during a count.šššš

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“Remember that never will I betray a just cause: that of human rights,” Biscet wrote in a June letter.š“My inspiration is alive: God and the great teachers of non-violence, present today more than ever.”

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Biscet has seen crimes and suffered crimes in prison, but he has not broken.

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In his epistle to Titus, the apostle Paul refers to people “zealous of good works” and others “living in malice,” a pair of phrases which characterize Biscet and his persecutors.šFor what is tyranny but malice perpetrated on a massive level?

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“When I was arrested, I felt liberated.šI felt free,” Congressman John Lewis says of his resistance to segregation as a young man.š“Never again would I obey segregated customs, regulations, or laws.”š

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Castro’s thugs control and abuse Oscar Biscet’s body, but his dreams of justice and peace endure.šIn the profoundest sense, he is free.


Myles Kantor is a columnist for FrontPageMagazine.com and editor-at-large for Pureplay Press, which publishes books about Cuban history and culture. His e-mail address is myles.kantor@gmail.com.


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