CubaBrief: Cuban dissident and other victims of communism meet President Trump at the White House on the National Day for the Victims of Communism, 2019

Victims of communism from Cuba, North Korea, Poland, Venezuela, and Vietnam met with President Trump at The White House today. Earlier in the day, The White House issued a Presidential Message on the National Day for the Victims of Communism, 2019 to ” remember the more than 100 million people who have died as a result of communist oppression.”

The following persons met with President Trump today: Sirley Avila Leon from Cuba; Grace Jo from North Korea, Daniel Di Martino from Venezuela, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh from Vietnam, and Aldona Zofia Wos from Poland. Following their meeting they met with the press and took their questions. Sirley Ávila León explained that “I have come to see President Trump to thank him for what he has done to eliminate the flow of capital to the dictatorship and to tell the world that there is no democracy in Cuba.”

Brief background on Cuban dissident Sirley Avila LeonSirley Ávila León was a delegate to the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power in Cuba from June 2005, for the rural area of Limones until 2012 when the regime gerrymandered her district out of existence. The Castro regime removed her from her position because she had fought to reopen a school in her district, but been ignored by official channels and had reached out to international media. Her son, Yoerlis Peña Ávila, who had an 18 year distinguished career in the Cuban military was forced out when he refused to declare his mother insane and have her committed to a psychiatric facility.

Sirley joined the ranks of the democratic opposition, and repression against her increased dramatically. On May 24, 2015 she was the victim of a brutal machete attack carried out by Osmany Carriòn, with the complicit assistance of his wife, that led to the loss of her left hand, right upper arm nearly severed, and knees slashed into leaving her crippled. Following the attack she did not receive adequate medical care and was told quietly by medical doctors in Cuba that if she wanted to get better that she would need to leave the country.

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On March 8, 2016 she arrived in Miami and began a course of treatments over the next six months during which she was able to walk once again although still limited due to her injuries. She returned to Cuba on September 7, 2016 only to find her home occupied by strangers and her attacker free and bragging that he would finish the job. She moved in with her mother and within a short time a camera and microphone were set up across from her mother’s home on a post. The Victims of Communism interviewed her and produced the video below.

Threats against Sirley’s life intensified leading her to flee Cuba to the United States on October 28, 2016.

Below is The White House Statement from today.

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Presidential Message on the National Day for the Victims of Communism, 2019


 Issued on: November 7, 2019

On this National Day for the Victims of Communism, we remember the more than 100 million people who have died as a result of communist oppression.  Today, we renew our commitment to helping secure for all people a future of peace and prosperity founded on the core tenets of democracy—liberty, justice, and a deep respect for the value of every human life.

This year’s National Day for the Victims of Communism coincides with the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  On November 9, 1989, determined men and women put President Ronald Reagan’s powerful words into momentous action, tearing down that symbol of totalitarianism and sending a message to the entire world that democracy and the rule of law will always triumph over oppression and tyranny.  As we commemorate this milestone for human rights, we resolve to continue working with our allies and partners to ensure that the flames of freedom keep burning as a beacon of hope and opportunity around the globe.

As we pause on this day of remembrance to honor victims of communism everywhere, we must resolve always to safeguard the cherished liberties that foster peace and unleash unparalleled prosperity.  Together, we can build a future free from the evils of communism.