New student group seeks to highlight Cuban issues

A new student group is doing their part to bring attention to the issues of Cuba, a country that has been largely shrouded in mystery for almost a half-century.

Students for a Free Cuba was founded last month by junior Brittney Arroyo Morrett and sophomores Rudolfo Mayor and James Tanner. Tanner, the organization’s treasurer who had interned at Center for a Free Cuba, described the group as “a nonpartisan organization working towards promoting human rights and democracy in Cuba.”

The organization emerged out of an effort to get signatures for the release of the political prisoner Oscar Elias Biscet, a promoter of human rights in Cuba. The students collected more than 130 signatures and attempted to turn the signature cards in to the consulate in the Cuban Interests Section in D.C.

“They denied us,” Mayor recalled. “They told us we had to leave and mail them in.”

Mayor said that after the cards were rejected at the Cuban consulate, he realized the need to “create an organization that could educate about the abuses of the regime, but that could also act on behalf of the Cuban people at a local level here in our nation’s capital.”

The students said the goals of the organization are primarily educational, although student activism does play a significant part.

“There is a lot of mis-info about Cuba and those involved in the Cuban Revolution and mis-info about the Cuban government and people,” Mayor wrote in an e-mail. “It is important to educate about Che [Guevara] and Fidel [Castro] and communism and the way people live on the island.”

To spread their message and educate the GW population, the group and its now more than 50 members plan to host Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., who has been invited to speak to students on March 30 in the Marvin Center Amphitheater. After the talk, they will screen the film “El Mayor Deseo” – Spanish for “The Great Desire” – the story of Cuban democratic leader Oswaldo Paya.

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