Cuba resident Ruhama Fernandez, an activist and YouTuber, says that she dared criticized communist Cuba on YouTube, and ended up in prison for it.
What are the details?
In a widely read op-ed for USA Today, Fernandez said that she was at home on Aug. 10 when members of the Cuban regime arrived at her home and detained her.
She was held in isolation, she recalled, and her belongings were taken from her — and this wasn't the first time.
"In truth, the Cuban regime has persecuted my family and me for years," she wrote. "In 2020, I began posting YouTube videos of daily life in Cuba, exposing the failures of communism and how the system established by the Castro brothers hurts everyday people. I decided to post videos online because I was fed up living in a communist country where it is impossible to thrive, innovate, and progress. I chose to accept the risks in the name of freedom."
Fernandez said that she received punishment in response to her videos.
"Leading up to my arrest, the regime sent threats and intimidated my friends and family unless I stopped criticizing the government," she recalled, but she was undeterred from her mission even though the regime cut off her internet.
She continued, "[O]n Aug. 10, I was at home with my family when the regime arrived, rebuked me, and took me away. I was separated from my family without any respect for my legal rights (which are regularly violated by the regime). I was taken to a prison where I was detained for two days."
Fernandez said that she was released after two days, but vowed to continue speaking out against the communist country's oppression and persecution of its people.
"In Cuba, the victims of communism are crying for help – yet again," she insisted, pointing out that hundreds of Cubans remained behind bars as of Aug. 12. "I am not alone: More than one month after nationwide protests beginning July 11 united thousands of Cubans in opposition to the regime, the Cuban government has continued to gradually, quietly crack down on the dissenters."
Fernandez said that Cubans need Americans to support them, which to her means "unequivocally condemning the communist regime."
"Ignoring or sugarcoating the problem undermines the Cubans fighting back and risking their lives," she added. "This is not a Democratic or Republican issue: All Americans can and must speak up for freedom — the freedom they enjoy in the states. Cubans deserve that same freedom."
She added, "Led by President Joe Biden, U.S. policymakers have a unique opportunity to denounce a political system that has killed more than 100 million people around the world. For example, the Biden administration should speed up its efforts to provide uncensored Internet access to the people of Cuba and issuing targeted sanctions against our oppressors. Biden must also strengthen the U.S. commercial embargo, putting pressure on Cuba's leaders to advance long-overdue reforms. Through it all, the Biden administration should meet regularly with Cuban American leaders, gaining insight into the situation on the island."
"It is time to fight back against communism," Fernandez concluded her impassioned editorial. "It was time yesterday. Political activists like me should not be imprisoned simply for making YouTube videos."