Sunday, January 22, 2006

Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet González

I took this photo, which I call "Understanding at an Early Age," in July, 2003, at a vigil on behalf of Cuban political prisoners that was held outside the Miami Convention Center during the NAACP National Convention. My dear friend, Laida Carro, several Afro-Cuban exiles (two of whom were ex-political prisoners), and I spoke to an official delegation of the NAACP leadership (including its CEO, Kwesi Mfume, and Director of the Washington Bureau, Hilary Shelton) and others who had recently traveled to Cuba. Our goal was to get the NAACP to speak out in favor of the political prisoners and gain the organization's support for a call to release of all Cuban political prisoners. (Unfortunately, our meeting produced little more than a token recognition by the NAACP officials, and later we were to learn that the same officials with whom we had spoken and who had visited Dr. Biscet and other political prisoners while in Havana had brokered a trade agreement with the Cuban government.)

The postcard the young boy holds shows the photo of Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet González, a Cuban physician who has been imprisoned for all but a few months since the late 1990's. Dr. Biscet, an advocate of non-violent civil disobedience, is a student of Ghandi, the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King...He is truly a man of peace.

I post this blog in honor of Dr. Biscet and all he represents for the Cuban people. After spending months in solitary confinement for refusing to wear the uniform of the common prisoner, Dr. Biscet remains in prison, his spirit unbroken and his call for democracy in Cuba reverberating in the hearts of many courageous people on the island. His faith and love of his beloved Cuba sustain him; from his prison cell, he lives a life of service to the Cuban people, and his message is one that authorities in Cuba have not been able to repress.

I didn't get the name of the boy in the photo---I only know that he was there with his family. But, for some reason, I saw in his face the face of the man in the postcard he was holding, and at that point, I knew that Dr. Biscet was there among us, guiding us in silence, in peace, and with dignity.

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