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El American had the opportunity, as part of its series of short interviews, to talk with Cuban dissident and human rights activist José Daniel Ferrer. During the spring of 2003, he was unjustly arrested in the so-called Black Spring Of Cuba cause and, consequently, these courageous opponents became known as the Group of 75, after the number of those imprisoned on that occasion.
Among numerous distinctions, Ferrer has received the XIII International Human Rights Award from the Fundación Hispano-Cubana and the Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy.
Ferrer endured political imprisonment for eight long years in which he was subjected to numerous tortures and carried out a number of hunger strikes in Castro’s dungeons. The patriotic tasks have never ceased. Nor have the arbitrary arrests, the torture, the harassment of him and his family by the Cuban dictatorship and hunger strikes as a method of struggle. The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), an organization Ferrer helped found in 2011, is considered by many to be the largest with an active opposition force within the island and represented in exile in numerous countries.
Standing out in the answer to the first question, it was a repeated emphasis by Ferrer. “It is well worth it to be in the opposition”. When asked to describe what it is like to be in the opposition in communist Cuba today, despite all the hardships, harassments, constant attacks by pro-government mobs, social ostracism, and continuous arrests, the prominent UNPACU leader insists on placing morality above adversity. That, undoubtedly, weighs on his decision to remain in Cuba and confront the bloody tyranny in power.
The interviewee recognizes that the task of Castro-communism, like that of any totalitarian regime, is of trying to domesticate and keep the population in submission. It has been a systemic priority and, unfortunately, quite effective in that perverse feat. Nevertheless, Ferrer highlights the notion that one cannot live under the boot of a dictatorship forever and points out that patriotic awareness is on the rise.
Asked about his optimism regarding Cuba’s liberation, Ferrer was quick to point out that Cuba will definitely be free. He spoke of democratization, but also insisted on the foundation of a “reconstruction”. This is fundamental. Ferrer understands that the democratization process is only a beginning. The big task is the refoundation of the nation. The UNPACU leader outlined several courses for that realization. With a Ghandian harmony, Ferrer makes it clear that the work is for many and that it requires, among many things, will, intelligence, wisdom and love for Cuba.
Julio M Shiling, political scientist, writer, director of Patria de Martí and The Cuban American Voice, lecturer and media commentator. A native of Cuba, he currently lives in the United States. Twitter: @JulioMShiling // Julio es politólogo, escritor, director de Patria de Martí y The Cuban American Voice. Conferenciante y comentarista en los medios. Natural de Cuba, vive actualmente en EE UU.