I am going to endorse Val Prieto's appeal to all Cubans, regardless of parochial differences, to sign the petition calling for the release of Cuba's political prisoners which is being promoted by a coalition of human rights and civic organizations on the island, in exile and internationally, including Amnesty International, CANF, El Nuevo Herald, Freedom House, Las Damas en Blanco, Plantados and scores of other groups that do not always coalesce on the subject of Cuba. It is their objective to collect 1 million signatures in support of the petition. They could collect 100 million and it would not influence the Castro regime to cease being what it is and has always been -- the scourge of the Cuban people. I do not think that even those who are circulating the petition can have even the slightest hope that it will accomplish its stated end. What it will do, and what it has already done, is to unite disparate groups in common cause on behalf of Cuba, which is as important as obtaining the release of 220 Cuban political prisoners. So do sign the petition: it cannot do any harm and it has already done some good.
That much said, I would be less than honest if I did not point out that it is absolutely ridiculous, outrageous and inexcusable to claim that there are only 220 political prisoners in Castro's jails. That is like saying that there were only 660 inmates in Hitler's concentration camps (which, in fact, some Holocaust revisionists contend). In fact, most prisoners in Cuban jails are political prisoners because they have been convicted of "crimes" which are not penalized anywhere else but in Communist Cuba. It would be closer to the truth to say that every prisoner incarcerated by Castro is a political prisoner than to claim that only 220 are. Where there is no Rule of Law, there can be no justice. When the administration of what passes as "law" is in the hands of criminals and the State itself is a criminal enterprise, no man convicted under such a dispensation can be considered guilty and no sanction imposed on him legitimate. It is offensive to any concept of morality to claim that there could be one group of prisoners that received "justice" at the hands of a criminal State and another that did not.
Add three zeros to the end of "220" figure and you would be infinitely closer to the truth than without the three zeros. If the figure of "220" is all that these hundred-odd human rights groups could agree upon, then unity has been purchased at the price of historical accuracy, to put it as charitably as possible. Still, it is better to do something than to do nothing, to speak out than to remain silent. We do not always have the luxury of standing on principle when human lives are at stake. Sometimes the principle must be shunted aside in order to save the life. Better to save one drowning man from a shipwreck because one can than to let him drown because one cannot save the others.
So go ahead and sign the petition for the sake of the 220 and hope that by highlighting their plight you might be able to advance the cause of the other 220,000, or, indeed, 12 million: