Why did Cuban dictator Fidel Castro lead what he called a protest march to the U.S. diplomatic office in Havana? Mr. Castro was angry about an electronic message board that has been posted on the side of the building that houses the U.S. Interest Section. And what was the board displaying that got the Cuban dictator so mad? Passages from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and quotes from the late American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Here is U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack:
"I find it ironic that the Cuban government is organizing these protests against these messages that are being put up on the U.S. Interests Section in Havana with quotes about freedom from Martin Luther King and other topics. I don't see why that should be such a source of concern for the Cuban government, but nonetheless they have seen it fit to organize these large protests in against, essentially, freedom. So I think it's more of the same from the Cuban government."
Castro's complaint about a sign that flashes the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are an attempt to distract the world from seeing the reality of life in Cuba today -- a reality in which free speech is nonexistent. In recent months, mobs have stepped up attacks on Cuban democracy advocates. Dissidents on the island tell the Miami Herald newspaper that there have been more than fifty such attacks in the past six months. They have also reported evictions, detentions, random acts of violence, and arrests.
Take the case of dissident journalist Guillermo Farinas, who was confronted by a mob that asked him if he "had the nerve to denounce Fidel Castro in front of them." As Mr. Farinas told the Miami Herald, "I got on my knees and said, `Down With Fidel!' They started kicking and beating me, bruising my back, arm, and head. They stopped when they saw I would not lose my dignity and say things I didn't feel."
It is this kind of violence leveled against peaceful, freedom-loving Cubans that is worthy of protest, not the posting of a sign that displays messages of freedom and hope. But the only protests allowed in Fidel Castro's Cuba are those organized by the state. And the only messages Castro wants Cubans to hear are those that he has written and approved. So much for the people's revolution.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.