by Agustin Blazquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton

This is a revealing case that is indicative of what the Castro regime thinks about the importance of the institution known as the family: Sandra is a girl held hostage in Cuba for four years to punish her parents who now live in Brazil.

Sandra’s case, very much publicized in Brazil, has also received media attention in Latin America and Europe, but has been all but ignored by the U.S. media who last year exploited the case of 6 year-old Elian Gonzalez tilting public opinion in favor of Castro while maligning Cuban American exiles.

Sandra is not the first child to be held hostage by Castro. Over the last 42 years there have been thousands who suffered the trauma of being separated from their parents in a country where the state (Castro) has all the rights over the children and their education. The Cuban Communist Constitution spells it all out clearly for anyone interested enough to research the subject. Cubans on the island and abroad understand it all too well after living in that society.

Sandra is the daughter of Zaida Jova and Vicente Becerra. Both are Cuban engineers sent by the Castro regime for postgraduate studies at Brazil’s University of Campinas, near Sao Paulo. As customarily required by Castro’s regime, the young couple’s daughter, Sandra, had to remain in Cuba to make sure they didn’t try to defect and to keep them silent about the atrocities and violations of human rights on the island.

But, according to Brazil’s laws, after the birth in Brazil of Zaida’s and Vicente’s son Daniel three years ago, the couple automatically received residence status which also extended to Sandra in Cuba, indicative of Brazil’s strong belief in keeping families together. The young couple made the decision to stay in Brazil for good. Since then, Zaida and Vicente have been trying to get their daughter out of Cuba. But Castro’s regime refused to issue the exit permit to Sandra, now 11, who has been forced to live without her parents.

After many unsuccessful and humiliating tries with the Castro regime, Sandra’s parents decided to take the drastic and risky step of talking to the Brazilian press, therefore, exposing Castro’s scheme to the world. After learning about their case, the Brazilian people gave their support and solidarity to the point that last April the Brazilian government interceded in favor of the release of Sandra. As Castro refused again, the people of Brazil became upset and exasperated at his regime. And the Sandra story transcended to all Latin America and Europe, embarrassing Castro’s regime internationally.

There are other Cuban parents studying in Brazil in the same situation as Sandra’s parents, but they remained silent because of their concern for the well being and safety of their sons and daughters as well as other family members trapped on the island under Castro’s blackmail schemes. In the same delicate family situation, there are other Cuban parents in the U.S. and in many other countries throughout the world. And these family situations have been going on for decades.

According to the news agency CubDest, on June 3, 2001, in San Jose, Costa Rica, at the 31st General Assembly of the OAS, of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, Dr. Claudio F. Benedí, author of the book Human Rights: The Theme of Our Times said, "For the citizens of Brazil, the case of 11 year-old Sandra Becerra Jova, who the Havana regime does not allow to leave Cuba to reunite with her parents, constitutes the literal kidnapping of a minor."

Dr. Benedí, a veteran advocate of human rights, solicited the Commission to take the case of Sandra and denounce the injustice to the world, as one more example of the "institutional violation of human rights exercised by the Cuban communists over a defenseless population."

Sandra’s mother told the Brazilian press that the same Havana regime that organized the massive demonstrations to demand the return of Elian Gonzalez to Cuba claiming "family reunification," is the one that "with cruelty has kept me separated from my daughter for 4 years."

The Sandra story, due of the publicity received in Brazil and abroad (except in the U.S.), unmasked Castro’s fake concern for children and family reunification. This was another myth propagandized during the Elian Gonzalez case by the U.S. media and Castro’s agents like Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, the National Council of Churches and Pastors for Peace, as well as his supporters in the U.S. Congress like Democrats Charles Rangel, Jose Serrano, Christopher Dodd, Maxine Waters and Sheila Jackson Lee, as well as political activists like Rev. Jesse Jackson and Randall Robinson, and a bunch of silly airheads in Hollywood.

Thanks to the valiant decision of Zaida Jova and Vicente Becerra on behalf of the freedom of their 11 year-old daughter, Castro has been exposed for what he really is. And one more myth created, nurtured and preserved by the U.S. media has collapsed.

The current silence of the U.S. media about the reality in Cuba results in more Cuban children suffering and more families separated, as well as more abuses and injustices against democratic Cubans.

For example, on November 23, 2000, CNN videotaped but refused to air a 150-person gathering in Havana protesting Castro’s regime. Afterward, the protestors were beaten and jailed by Castro’s thugs during a religious gathering. According to Jay Nordlinger’s article A Protest in the Dark published in the National Review Online on May 16, 2001, many of them later reported that they felt "incensed and betrayed" by CNN. They complained that CNN is consistently pro-Castro and that Ted Turner is a "friend and admirer" of their country’s tyrant.

The U.S. media, by refusing to report a demonstration like this is denying attention, international recognition and solidarity with these brave individuals risking their lives inside a brutal totalitarian regime as they struggle for human rights, justice, freedom and democracy.

With their silence and misinformation about Cuba, the U.S. media is doing a disservice to the American people by keeping them ignorant of a reality 90 miles away. The result is a fostering of animosity and misunderstanding for what Cuban Americans stand for on behalf of their families held hostage in Cuba.

This U.S. media’s silence is encouraging more violations of human rights on the island by allowing Castro to act with impunity. The result is more imprisonment and torture of advocates of human rights and democracy in Cuba, more apartheid, humiliation and misery for the population on the island and more people drowning and being eaten by sharks while trying to escape Cuba in the Florida Straits.

Because communist regimes are based on lies, deceptions and a fake image, they are very concerned of being exposed at international levels, and they cave in if challenge by the world. Due to the international condemnation - sadly except from the U.S. - Castro finally decided to release Sandra to her parents in Brazil.

The return of Elian to Castro was a shameful page in U.S. history. In contrast, the more open and humane attitude of Brazil will lead to the eventual release of 11 year-old Sandra, accomplishing a real family reunification in a free environment. This will give some hope to the many Cuban families that are still separated from their children in similar situations. Unfortunately, Cuban Americans cannot count on the same open and humane support and treatment in the U.S.

© 2001 ABIP

Agustin Blazquez, Producer/Director of the documentaries:

COVERING CUBA, COVERING CUBA 2: The New Generation & the upcoming COVERING CUBA 3

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