Mona Charen

Here's the Black Book of Communism again on treatment of prisoners in Cuba: "The violence of the prison regime affected both political prisoners and common criminals. Violence began with the interrogations conducted by the Departamento Tecnico de Investigaciones (DTI). The DTI used solitary confinement and played on the phobias of the detainees: one woman who was afraid of insects was locked in a cell infested with cockroaches. The DTI also used physical violence. Prisoners were forced to climb a staircase wearing shoes filled with lead and were then thrown back down the stairs. Psychological torture was also used, often observed by a medical team. ... The children of detainees were banned from higher education, and spouses were often fired from their jobs."

The U.S. Department of State reported in February 2009 about continuing appalling conditions in Cuba's prisons: "Health conditions and hygiene at prisons were very poor. Many prisoners, such as Tomas Ramos Rodriguez, released in June after serving 17 years, said that cell floors had standing pools of water contaminated with sewage. There were several reports that toilets were essentially wooden platforms above an open sewer, with no process for treating the waste. Family members reported widespread serious disease and illnesses among political prisoners, for which the prison staff sometimes withheld treatment. Digestive disorders, dengue fever, and outbreaks of skin diseases caused by contaminated water were frequent."

The CBC didn't ask to visit political prisoners. Perhaps they might have made time to see the brave Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) who have gathered -- or attempted to gather -- every year since 2003 to draw attention to their imprisoned spouses. In 2003, 75 pro-democracy demonstrators were arrested, summarily tried, and sentenced to long prison terms. Their wives and other supporters have been dressing in white and marching in Havana to call attention to their plight. In 2005, the Damas de Blanco were awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament. The Castro regime (the first name isn't so important) has responded by ransacking the women's homes, forcibly removing them from public busses as they made their way to Havana, and detaining them.

Cubans who dare to oppose the regime pay a terrible price. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., who led this delegation and has been a Castro apologist for decades, should be deeply ashamed. So should they all.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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