Opponents of Cuba’s communist government, grouping themselves as the Forum for Rights and Freedoms, have issued a video in which several well-known opponents of the Castro Brothers -- Fidel and Raul -- expressly celebrate Donald Trump’s electoral victory of last week. The group is closely associated with the "Ladies in White" (Damas de Blanco) -- a group of dissidents founded by the friends and familiy members of political prisoners in Cuba. The group was aware that if Hillary Clinton had won, they said that she would have followed President Barack Obama’s policy towards Cuba, which they say has ignored the plight of dissidents. i“We hope that the issue of political prisoners will again be a priority,” said Jorge Garcia Perez, who is a member of the Forum. “I think that with the arrival of Trump to the White House, we can rescue that ally we always had, which is the United States.” Trump’s victory has provided “new hope among those who had lost it,” he said, according to article that appeared in Spanish at El Nuevo Herald.
 
“I think in Cuba, almost all the people who suffer the consequences of the regime are happy,” said Adrian Sosa, who is another member of the opposition. One of the coordinators of the Forum, Antonio G. Rodiles, was critical of Obama’s attitude towards Cuba. “It was very frustrating to see how the Obama administration allowed the regime to gain economic (and) political space and leave the Cuban people and their demands off to one side,” said Rodiles. “These two year have been a very difficult time,” he said. “Hillary Clinton said she would continue President Obama’s policy for Cuba … which is broad, has meant beatings, rapes, harassment and a lot of silence by the Obama administration and the European Union.”
 
In contrast, Rodiles praised Trump. He said, “Trump came out and publicly acknowledged the Cuban opposition, spoke specifically about the Ladies in White — which for us is an emblematic group — and said he would support real change in Cuba.”
 
Activist Ailer Gonzalez said that “women have suffered greatly from these two years of reestablishment (of diplomatic relations).” Gonzalez added, “We can not do it alone,” and added,  “We are living under a 57-year dictatorship and a disjointed society.”
 
Ever since the Obama Administration began to show signs of rapprochement with communist Cuba in December 2014, human rights and democracy advocates on the island warned of increased repression. According to the independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, Cuban authorities have carried out 17,741 arbitrary arrests of activists and opponents during the alleged “thaw” in relations. Repression continues in Cuba, despite President Barack Obama’s visit this year. “Repression has increased a lot,” Rodiles said. “There are statistics but there is also the form of repression that does not get included in statistics. A temporary arrest is not the same as a violent arrest, with blows. State security is much more violent, harassment is much greater.”
 


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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