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Black Spring (Cuba)

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Cubans protesting in Madrid in 2010

Black Spring was the 2003 crackdown by the Cuban Government on Cuban dissidents.[1][2][3][4] The government imprisoned 75 dissidents, including 29 journalists on the basis that they were acting as agents of the United States by accepting funds from the US government and George W. Bush's administration at the time.[1] Amnesty International described the 75 Cubans as "prisoners of conscience".[5] The Cuban government stated at the time: "the 75 individuals arrested, tried and sentenced in March/April 2003... are demonstrably not independent thinkers, writers or human rights activists, but persons directly in the pay of the US government. [...] [T]hose who were arrested and tried were charged not with criticizing the [Cuban] government, but for receiving American government funds and collaborating with U.S. diplomats".[6]

The crackdown on dissidents began on 18 March, during the US invasion of Iraq, and lasted two days.[1] It received international condemnation from several countries, with critical statements coming from George W. Bush's administration, the European Union, the United Nations and various human rights groups. Responding to the crackdown, the European Union imposed sanctions on Cuba in 2003, which were then lifted in January 2008.[7] The European Union declared at the time that the arrests "constituted a breach of the most elementary human rights, especially as regards freedom of expression and political association".[8]

All of the dissidents were eventually released, most of whom were exiled to Spain starting in 2010.[9][10]

Imprisoned people[edit]

Demonstrators holding up signs of imprisoned people during the Black Spring

Manuel Vázquez Portal received the International Press Freedom Award in 2003.[11] Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez received the same prize in 2008, while locked up in a maximum-security prison.[12]

List of 75 jailed dissidents and their prison sentences:[5]

Related movements[edit]

The wives of imprisoned activists, led by Laura Pollán, formed a movement called Ladies in White. The movement received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought from the European Parliament in 2005.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Carlos Lauria; Monica Campbell & María Salazar (18 March 2008). "Cuba's Long Black Spring". The Committee To Protect Journalists.
  2. ^ "Black Spring of 2003: A former Cuban prisoner speaks". The Committee to Protect Journalists.
  3. ^ "Three years after "black spring" the independent press refuses to remain in the dark". The Reporters Without Borders. Archived from the original on 21 March 2009.
  4. ^ "Cuba - No surrender by independent journalists, five years on from "black spring"" (PDF). The Reporters Without Borders. March 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 July 2009.
  5. ^ a b "Cuba: "Essential measures"? Human rights crackdown in the name of security". Amnesty International. 2 June 2003. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012.
  6. ^ "ON RECENT EVENTS IN CUBA Statement by the Nova Scotia Cuba Association". Granma.cu. 8 May 2003. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008.
  7. ^ "EU lifts sanctions against Cuba". BBC. 20 June 2008.
  8. ^ "Sakharov nominee: Cuban women who protest against unjust imprisonment". European Parliament.
  9. ^ "Dissidents' release draws line under Cuba crackdown". BBC News. 24 March 2011.
  10. ^ "World Report - Cuba". Reporters Without Borders. April 2011. Archived from the original on 23 January 2013. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  11. ^ "Awards 2003 - Vazquez Portal". The Committee to Protect Journalists.
  12. ^ "Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, Founder and contributor, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro". The Committee to Protect Journalists.
  13. ^ "2001 - 2010 | Laureates | Sakharov Prize | European Parliament". sakharovprize. Retrieved 20 January 2021.

External links[edit]