|Helen Castro wearing black t-shirt "We will never forget"|
It is a great privilege to have been president of the Free Cuba Foundation during 1999 through 2000. The many successes during my time are owed to the collaborative effort of hardworking, self-sacrificing students who boldly stood up for what they believed in combating against impossible odds.
It was a fierce year politically at the pinnacle was the highly publicized Elian Gonzalez case.
Sadly, many mainstream media outlets distorted truths. However, we worked diligently to rectify this misinformation that seemed insurmountable. Critical events were portrayed incorrectly more so in the English broadcasting and rarely in the Spanish broadcasting. This was never uncommon since it preceded us and is still goes o today, it is an arduous battle we must endure in ensuring the truth is known.
In the year we conducted many massive marches and we organized one with over a thousand participants on South Beach on April 25, 2000. We traveled to the capital, Washington D.C. to lobby, march, and denounce human rights violations. We disseminated information about many inhumane activities conducted by the despotic Cuban government. We worked on many rewarding charitable activities to help the suffering oppressed groups within Cuba who heroically strive for basic human rights that sometimes many take for granted in our free country.
We also cooperated to help those who had fled the island to live here or overseas. We published our first issue of İYARA! magazine. We contributed to the arts, a vital expressionistic vehicle to protest and release all bottled up frustrations and suffering due to the tyrannical oppression endured by the Cuban people. Looking back no one expected and could not plan for the rate that we were growing.
Our growth was exponential with members enlisting many were not part of the university: In order to address this, we established a non-profit organization for non-University students under the state of Florida with the same goal. There was so much nation-wide attention from politicians, international groups, artists, journalist, etc ; it was a revival of hope for freedom and change in Cuba. It is not new that within our Free Cuba Foundation organization any member at any level will have the privilege to meet some great and powerful people. However, the intensity that year was beyond what I could have expected.
Nothing could have prepared me for that even with my previous experience as a prior Free Cuba Foundation member. We put in so much hard work, sleepless nights, tears, sweat, and still Cuba is not free and there are so many vicious attacks on the native born Cuban that many individuals are still unaware of.
There is nothing more heart breaking than to hear a person say that, “I’ve been to Cuba and I don’t see any oppression just poverty.” This is just an indication that the truth has not reached them. It is true there is poverty in Cuba but there is governmental terrorism woven into the daily Cuban native’s life that is rarely understood unless experienced.
Consider the fact that in the USA so many crimes go unreported because victims are often afraid to report crimes and never talk even to close loved ones. Some talk 20 or 30 years after the event and some never do. Now imagine this is the behavior in this free country, how much more rare would it be that any Cuban native would openly report or denounce any oppression when the crimes committed against them are done by their own government? And those who are open, what do you think the Cuban government will do to them?
The concept of free elections is a fraud, anyone who says Fidel Castro or Raul Castro or anyone associated to them is or has been president is ignorant. There are no free elections in a country where for approximately 50 years it has been the same "president" and then the "newly elected president" is the previous one’s brother.
It does not take much to recognize that many who speak about Cuba and their lack of human rights are truthful when all TV, internet and communications is state run and owned and carefully used as an added tool in their brainwashing techniques.
I applaud the courageous efforts of Cuban natives with undaunted courage. They stand up and speak out; knowing that they and their loved ones will always become a target of the Cuban government anywhere in the world they travel.
The Cuban government has been known to manipulate statistics, to coerce powerful personalities, to bribe, to incriminate innocent people, to circumvent laws, to stage public disorder, manipulate the press and deceive the public view by conducting their horrific activities under disguise. Sadly, many activists have suffered extrajudicial killings, so called "accidents", "natural deaths, brainwashing (beyond the norm), suicides, insanity, sickness, etc. many of which were discovered to be acts committed by the Cuban regime.
To ignore the problem in Cuba is unfortunate because dictatorships, like school yard bullies, are contagious. When there is one bully then a few others tend join in, where there is one dictatorship there are too many. Look at our human history, take a global map, examine areas where dictatorships exist and notice how nearby countries sprung up dictatorships too.
While dictators exist it is a threat to our own freedoms in our own free country.
FCF Chairwoman 1999-2000
August 18, 2013