After President Obama posed for a picture in Cuba in front of a giant mural honoring the murderous Che Guevara, outrage erupted in the Twittersphere.
But it’s worse than that.
As Ethan Epstein of The Weekly Standard points out, the mural in the Plaza de la Revolucion is painted on the wall of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior, which runs the National Revolutionary Police, Cuba’s version of the secret police. Britannica.com writes, “The Cuban Ministry of the Interior (MININT), which was modeled on the Soviet KGB, rivaled the East German Stasi for effectiveness and ruthlessness.”
Former Cuban Interior Minister Abelardo Colomé Ibarra has been described by the Miami Herald as “one of the island’s most powerful and feared figures.” As Yoani Sanchez, the publisher of 14ymedio, an independent newspaper in Cuba, wrote in The Huffington Post, “How can a citizen protect himself from a State that has the police, the courts, the rapid response brigades, the mass media, the capacity to defame and lie, the power to socially lynch him and turn him into someone defeated and apologetic?” Sanchez has written that she has been kidnaped and beaten by plainclothes State Security agents.
Human Rights Watch offered a report on the Cuban government’s repression. It stated:
The Interior Ministry has principal responsibility for monitoring the Cuban population for signs of dissent. Reportedly, the ministry employs two central offices for this purpose: the General Directorate of Counter-Intelligence and the General Directorate of Internal Order. The former supervises the activities of the Department of State Security, also known as the Political Police, reportedly dividing its counter-intelligence operations into specialized units. One of the units—known as “Department Four”—reportedly focuses on the “ideological sector,” which includes religious groups, writers, and artists … The second Interior Ministry office monitoring suspected dissident activity, the Directorate of Internal Order, supervises two police units with internal surveillance responsibilities, the National Revolutionary Police and the Technical Department of Investigation (Departamento Técnico de Investigaciones, DTI). Once authorities give an activist an official warning, Cuban law permits the National Revolutionary Police to monitor that person’s activities.
Dissidents willing to criticize the government publicly risk serious consequences, from the trauma of wrongful arrests and potential prosecutions, to the loss of their homes and sources of income, as well as the significant emotional costs wrought by so-called repudiations, and the deprivation of contact with family, community, and culture through forced exile.