Cuban Dissident Calls New US-Cuba Relations a Fraud
By John Cádiz Klemack
Updated at 8:58 PM PST on Friday, Feb 13, 2015
He’s been called the “Nelson Mandela of Cuba,” and he takes that title
and uses it to promote an agenda he says is the truth about what’s
happening in Cuba.
Jorge Luis Pérez Antunez, known on the island simply as “Antunez,” spent
17 years and 38 days in a Cuban prison for what he says was his basic
human right to have an opinion.
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Antunez says in 1990, at age 25, he stood in a public plaza in Havana,
listening to Communist propaganda over a loud speaker and chose to speak
“I yelled as loud as I could that Communism was a mistake and Cuba
needed reforms,” he says.
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He would not see his family again for nearly two decades.
Released in 2007, Antunez says he will not stop speaking out, knowing it
could land him back behind bars at any moment. He claims the Cuban
government routinely visits his home to ransack the house and has left a
large hole in his front door for the purpose of being able to keep an
eye on him.
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On Feb. 2, Orange County Congressman Edward Royce, R-CA, who heads up
the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, invited
Antunez and his wife, Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, to Washington to
testify in a hearing called “Human Rights in Cuba: A Squandered
While in D.C., Antunez met with outspoken Congressman (and son of Cuban
immigrants) Marco Rubio as well.
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Antunez says Cuba is not the romantic island so many foreigners believe
it to be and he says the crimes of the Cuban government continue even
after Obama’s Dec. 17 executive order.
“We feel abandoned,” Antunez says of the renewed relations, believing
Obama has green-lighted the Castro regime’s violations of human rights.
“The regime is stronger now,” he says since the announcement, “and
oppression is on the rise.”
On the topic of the 50-year embargo against the island, Antunez says
Obama is wrong that it’s a failed policy.
Instead, Antunez says the embargo is the only proof that the U.S. backs
those he calls the “true people of Cuba.”
Antunez’s wife calls the renewed talks a “farce,” pointing to the lack
of food and things as commonplace in the U.S. as soap and laundry
detergent. But that’s exactly the Obama Administration’s argument for
easing sanctions – that the Cuba government has blamed the U.S. embargo
for the island’s economic woes.
Antunez spent the morning admiring a statue at LA’s Echo Park. The
statue was placed there in the 1970s, the area once home to a growing
number of Cuban refugees after the 1960s exodus.
It is a bust of Cuban Revolutionary Hero, Jose Martí. Antunez says
seeing it gives him hope.
“So far from Cuba in a place like Los Angeles,” he says. “It shows us
the cause is not lost.”
Antunez returns to Miami next week and to Cuba in March, where he says
he believes the Cuban government may arrest him for having spoken out
while in the U.S., but he says he’s ready.
“I will not be silenced and I will not leave my Cuba,” he says.
Published at 7:26 PM PST on Feb 13, 2015
Source: Cuban Dissident Calls New US-Cuba Relations a Fraud | NBC
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