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Monday, August 26, 2013

Free Cuba Foundation at 20

“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.” - Mohandas Gandhi

Twenty years ago tonight on August 26, 1993  two Cuban-American students from Florida International University organized a five-hour candlelight vigil that began at 6 p.m. in front of the Mexican Consulate that mobilized hundreds to protest Mexico's deportation to Cuba of eight Cuban refugees who survived when their boat sank off the Mexican coast the previous week. As we look back twenty years ago and look around today at Cuban refugees being mistreated in the Bahamas and being deported back to the dictatorship that is still in power in Cuba it is a reasonable question to ask: What have we accomplished? Aren't we in the same position that we were two decades ago?

The answer is found in Gandhi's epigram at the top of this blog entry and in the words of the great English poet T.S. Eliott: "If we take the widest and wisest view of a Cause, there is no such thing as a Lost Cause, because there is no such thing as a Gained Cause. We fight for lost causes because we know that our defeat and dismay may be the preface to our successors' victory, though that victory itself will be temporary; we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation that it will triumph."

The Free Cuba Foundation has been a steadfast and independent voice in favor nonviolent resistance to injustice and tyranny. We have consistently spoken up for victims of the dictatorship demanding justice while at the same time advocating both freedom and national reconciliation. We have remained true to our mission statement.

What the future may hold is uncertain because we are free to decide and nothing is written in stone.

However, the past 20 years have demonstrated that young Cubans, Cuban-Americans,Cuban-Spaniards, Peruvians, and other people of good will have not acquired the "amnesia of Coca Cola" as some on the island describe the forgetfulness of some who leave for freedom and forget their friends and family back home.

The student leaders moved on after graduating and were replaced by new ones.

Augusto Monge, FCF Chairman 1993 -1994

John Suarez, FCF Chairman 1995

Jose Raul Carro, FCF Chairman 1996

 Xavier Utset, FCF Chairman 1997-1998

Susana Mendiola, FCF Chairwoman 1998-1999

Helen Castro, FCF Chairwoman 1999-2000

Neri Ann Martinez, FCF Chairwoman 2001-2004

Michel Betancourt, FCF Chairman 2004 -2005

Pedro Ross, FCF Chairman 2006-2008

Susana Navajas, FCF Chairwoman 2008- 2009

Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr., FCF Co-Chair 2009-2010
Julio Menache, FCF Co-Chair 2009 - 2010

Kristan Patton, FCF Chairman 2011 - 2013

Their testimony is evidence that the struggle continues because new generations have sought to carry the torch for the cause of freedom in Cuba over the past half century and continue to do so today.

We will continue to denounce the crimes being committed by the dictatorship in Cuba while at the same time letting the world know of brave activists who have sacrificed everything in the cause of Cuba's freedom.We will make use of this milestone to reflect on what has been done well. What needs to be improved and what needs to be done in the future to achieve the goal of a free Cuba where human rights and dignity are both recognized and respected.

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