Last Sunday, the Young Cubans in Action rallied in Miami to support Freedom in Belarus. They were joined by organizations all around the world who came out to support Independence Day in Belarus, August 25th. They were joined by local Young Republican and other Free Cuba organizations.
In America, we celebrate an Independence Day as well, on July 4th. However, America has retained its democracy for nearly 250 years. Belarus, however only became independent from Russia in 1991. Now, twenty years later, Belarus is anything but independent. In 1994, only 3 years after severing her ties to Russia, Alexander Lukashenko (who the BBC calls the last European Dictator) won the election as President. He has won every election after that as well. In 1996, nearly half of the Belarus parliament signed a petition to impeach Lukashenko for violating the constitution. Only a few months later, a referendum was made to the constitution giving Lukashenko increased power to the point of legal dictatorship and has been mostly unrecognized by international governments. The referendum passed popular vote by 70%, but in the years since, Lukashenko’s corruption has become more apparent. He regularly coerces votes, releases made-up statics and hunts down those who vote against him through government backed programs. The people of Belarus began protesting this same year.
Since Lukashenko’s election, many candidates have run against him. Though often these candidates face bodily injury or arrest. Lukashenko employs media attacks from his government and Russia, he releases false voting numbers before all ballots have been cast, as well as using student groups as government puppets. He is known for numerous human rights violations.
The people of Belarus are caught in a terrible predicament where violence and corruption silence their voice. Stemming from the Color Revolutions, a student group called Zubr has led the way in protesting against the current government. The Color Revolution included a number of countries previously tied to the USSR, these movements included anti-communist protests mostly supported by student organizations. Belarus has tried to build on that success with Zubr.
To show solidarity, and to raise awareness, the International Young Democrat Union, a center-right global youth organization decided to rally for Belarus on August 25th. A number of affiliated organizations around the world participated, including Cuban activists in Miami.
The Young Cubans in Action participated with a number of right-leaning organizations in the South Florida area to stand together in support of Belarus. The Cubans feel that their families and friends in Cuba are in a a similar state of disenfranchisement to Belarus.
It is important to remember that not every country is as lucky as America. While we may disagree with our government, we still have rights. Learn more about what happened on August 25th at IYDU’s blog and find out more about Belarus’s fight for freedom by following Belarus news on Twitter.