Commentary: No reason to cheer on Cuba's independence day

This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.

In South Florida, there will be proclamations and receptions Wednesday marking the 107th anniversary of Cuba's independence from Spain.

But in Cuba, now in its 50th year of totalitarian rule under Fidel and Raul Castro, there will be nothing but more repression. Cuba doesn't commemorate the date, based on the brothers' outrageous belief that only their 1959 revolution brought "freedom."

It is in this surreal totalitarian landscape that 11 million Cubans must navigate day after day, in between standing in line for food rations and trying to find cement on the black market to patch up decaying homes. Those who complain publicly about their country's sorry state and lack of freedom can expect harassment and jail time.

The universal rights of freedom of speech, association and assembly are systematically violated in Cuba's one-party state, but you wouldn't know that from the regime's apologists in this hemisphere.

As for political prisoners, which international human-rights groups estimate at about 200, Cuba maintains there are none. Just last month, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez told European Union foreign ministers to lift all sanctions imposed after Cuba arrested 75 dissidents in 2003.

Yet Cuba has done little to deserve better relations. Fifty-four independent journalists, librarians and human-rights activists remain in prison six years later, unfairly accused of being U.S. mercenaries. This week, three Cubans were arrested for their democratic ideals – a sign that the regime refuses to live up to the universal declaration of human rights it has committed to sign.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.