- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 30, 2003

To the casual observer, September’s edition of the magazine De Cuba (From Cuba) is no more than 60 pages of prose on cheap paper with low-tech graphics. To those more familiar with current conditions in Cuba, publication of De Cuba represents devotion to freedom and defiance of Fidel Castro’s repressive regime.

The first page of the magazine lists the staff. Next to the names of three staffers, including the managing editor, are the words “in prison” in Spanish in parentheses. These Cubans have been victims of Mr. Castro’s April crackdown and have been sentenced to 27 years, in the case of the director, and 20 years for Raul Rivero and Omar Rodriguez. Amazingly, the remaining staffers managed to put out a third edition of De Cuba. The wife of one dissident, Claudia Marquez, became acting managing editor for this edition, along with Tania Quintero.

The magazine gives the testimonials of the undaunted. Yolanda Huerga is one of them. Her husband was one of those taken and, during his April “trial,” received an 18-year sentence. “They were not hard knocks,” she said of the rapping on the door by the agents of State Security on March 19. But the knocks, she said, contrasted with the police offensive launched to imprison her husband, Manuel Vazquez, whose only crime was to write in independent journals what Mr. Castro wanted unspoken. “When, in the morning, he would leave for work, I would kiss him good-bye, and follow him with my sight, thinking my eyes could protect him,” she wrote in Spanish. Yolanda goes on to describe how neighbors shunned her, and how her 9-year-old son grappled with the stigma of having an imprisoned father. ” ‘What is it that mom always told you about dad?’ ” Yolanda said she asked her son. ” ‘What should you be proud of?’ ” He, “with a breaking voice and a with a low, low voice, said: ‘Because he is a hero.’ ”

The accompanying editorial said: “Liberty is not granted by or suppressed by any government. It is a personal feeling, which is exercised, even behind bars.” De Cuba is a worldwide call to conscience. If individuals in Fidel Castro’s Cuba can confront a dictator and risk imprisonment for the cause of freedom and to champion their ideological comrades, the free world, from the safety of democracies, must push for their release. Those involved in De Cuba truly are heroes of freedom and democracy.

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