NEW YORK—Reverend Al Sharpton stood with several Afro-Cubans adjacent to the Cuban Mission to the United Nations yesterday to protest the jailing of Afro-Cuban political dissidents by the Cuban government.
The imprisonment of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez,” and other Afro-Cuban dissenters and opposition leaders has prompted Sharpton to speak out against Cuba’s many human rights abuses and to ask to meet with Cuban representatives.
“I want to extend an invitation to [President of Cuba] Raul Castro for an open dialogue,” said Sharpton.
Charlie King, acting Executive Director for Sharpton’s nonprofit civil rights organization National Action Network (NAN), spoke on Sharpton and the NAN’s behalf.
“We’re going to investigate the facts of this troubling civil rights issue. If these allegations are true, we will send a request for a humanitarian mission to be sent to Cuba, and we will do anything and everything we can to [ensure justice],” he said.
According to the Cuba Solidarity Movement, Dr. Biscet was detained in Cuba for “25 years for speaking out against the Castro regime, [and was] subjected to torture and extended stays in vermin-infested solitary confinement cells.”
Antunez, on the other hand, has been “harassed and beaten repeatedly by Cuban government agents since his release (after serving a 17-year sentence).”
“Let’s not forget Dr. [Martin Luther] King’s famous quote, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’” said King.
Sharpton’s latest demonstration came hours after news leaked that federal prosecutors would stop looking into Sharpton’s and NAN’s tax records for tax fraud. Sharpton will, however, pay millions of dollars in back taxes.
When cornered on the issue, Sharpton and his lawyers stated that even though Sharpton won’t be going to jail and that the criminal investigation is over, that doesn’t mean he can sleep soundly at night.
“Just the fact that the criminal investigation is over doesn’t mean that there is a civil resolution,” said a representative of Sharpton at the press conference. “It’s never all over.”