CubaBrief: Observing Black Ribbon Day in remembrance of victims of totalitarianism and the 33rd anniversary of the Baltic Way’s nonviolent triumph

Tuesday marked two anniversaries. It was the “Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes,” and it was also a day to celebrate the “Baltic Way.” These two observances are connected through history, and the Castro regime has a connection to the first.

Eighty three years ago on August 23, 1939 Josef Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, the first communist regime, signed a treaty with Adolph Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany it was named after their respective foreign ministers, V.M. Molotov and Joachim von Ribbentrop, as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Eventually it also became known as the Hitler-Stalin Pact.

It contained secret protocols to invade and conquer Poland, and split up the rest of Central and Eastern Europe into spheres of influence for Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union.

Stalin present to witness the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on August 23, 1999

Nine days later on September 1, 1939 Nazi Germany invaded Poland and World War II started. Sixteen days later the Soviet Union exercising its secret agreement with the Germans invaded Poland from the East and met their Nazi allies on September 22, 1939 in a joint military parade in Brest-Litovsk to celebrate their victory.

230,000 Polish soldiers and officers and thousands of military service representatives were taken captive by the Soviets. On March 5, 1940 the order to shoot the prisoners was signed by seven members of the All- Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) authorities: Joseph Stalin, Lavrentiy Beria (proposer), Kliment Voroshilov, Vyacheslav Molotov, Anastas Mikoyan, Mikhail Kalinin and Lazar Kaganovich. Thousands of Polish Army officers and intellectual leaders were taken into the Katyn Forest near Smolensk in the Soviet Union, shot in the back of the head or in the neck and buried in mass graves.

Months later, the Soviet Union invaded and annexed the Baltic States in June 1940.

This arrangement only ended on July 22, 1941 when the Nazis double crossed their Soviet allies and launched Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. This alliance cost 22 to 28 million Russian lives in World War Two.

However it also ended with the Soviet Union retaking and absorbing the Baltic states for decades, and Poland firmly under Soviet control as a satellite state. This was a legacy of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that did not end until fifty years later.

Czechoslovakia, a Soviet satellite since 1948, had its Prague Spring in 1968, a moment when reformers in the government sought socialism with a human face and it was ended on August 21, 1968 with the arrival of Warsaw Pact tanks on Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev’s orders followed by an occupation that crushed the reformist initiative.

Fidel Castro backed Brezhnev’s crushing of the Prague Spring on 29th anniversary of Molotov-Ribbentrop

Two days after the Soviet led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 23, 1968 Fidel Castro publicly supported the invasion and occupation of the central European country. Castro’s support of Soviet imperialism on the 29th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact revealed the true nature of the regime in Cuba.

On June 4, 1989 the Solidarity labor movement won in free elections and the Polish people finally regained their sovereignty from Soviet domination through nonviolent means.

The Baltic Way protest on August 23, 1999 brought an end to one legacy of Molotov Ribbentrop

Thirty three years ago today two million Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians joined hands together in a giant human chain stretching 370 miles on August 23, 1989. Fifty years to the day after the treaty that brought them so much grief had been signed. This non-violent act of defiance was a crucial event that led to the liberation of the Baltic States and their restored independence.

In 2019 on the fiftieth anniversary of the Baltic Way, across the world from Hong Kong to Washington DC people gathered together and joined hands to recreate this human chain in a celebration of freedom, democracy, rule of law and self-determination. In Hong Kong people formed a 44 kilometer human chain across the city, and over the Lion Rock Mountain. In Washington D.C. a delegation from the Center for a Free Cuba led by former Cuban political prisoner Basilio Guzmán and former CFC Executive Director Frank Calzon formed part of the 800 person chain, under pouring rain, on the west side of the U.S. Capitol.

Ex-Cuban political prisoner Basilio Guzmán and Frank Calzon attend Baltic Way protest at the U.S. Capitol

Today, the European Union observes this anniversary in memory of all the victims of totalitarianism and authoritarianism in the world. This includes the victims of communism in Cuba.

Sadly, the Castro regime continues to back Russian imperial ventures in Europe, this time in Ukraine.

Miguel Diaz-Canel and Vladimir Putin during the signing of bilateral agreements. File photo: EFE

Latvian Public Broadcasting, August 23, 2022

33 years since the Baltic Way changed the world

Photo: No LNVM krājuma

August 23, 2022 marks 33 years since the historic Baltic Way, also known as the Baltic Chain – a human chain weaving through all three Baltic States August 23, 1989.

Authors: eng.lsm.lv (Latvian Public Broadcasting)

Approximately two million people joined hands, forming a chain of over 600 kilometers through Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, in peaceful protest against the Soviet occupation. 

The biggest achievement of the protest campaign was getting the USSR to admit to past crimes. The USSR acknowledged the existence of the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and declared it invalid. It was one of the most important steps towards the restoration of independence in the Baltics, and a landmark in the history of peaceful protest worldwide.

Dainis Īvāns, the former deputy speaker of the transitional parliament of independent Latvia (the Supreme Council), told Latvian Radio broadcast on August 23: “Everything, as we know, happened – people went into this live chain. These electricized feelings, the self-confidence of the Baltics, this one-off cure from insecurities, and his sense of power in these two minutes focused like a huge lightning strike through all of us.”

“First of all, it was a huge impression on the West, because it was immediately followed by a letter from President Bush to Gorbachev, in which he wrote that Gorbachev could act however he wanted but in the case of the Baltic States and Poland he needed to maintain caution and fairness. The Baltic Way showed the West that we are going forward very reasonably, but swiftly and triumphantly,” said Īvāns.

Three years ago, when the Baltic Way celebrated its 30th anniversary, LSM published a comprehensive story about the historic day. You can read it here, to find out more about this monumental event impacting the lives of many.

We also offer this short documentary with English subtitles on the subject.

https://eng.lsm.lv/article/culture/history/33-years-since-the-baltic-way-changed-the-world.a470517/

Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter, August 23, 2022

Black Ribbon Day 2022: Day of Remembrance for the Victims of All Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes.

To commemorate the Europe Union’s Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, President von der Leyen issued the following statement excerpted here:

“On 23 August, we honour the memory of the victims of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, in Europe and beyond. Today, on the 83rd anniversary of the signature of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, this date carries a special significance. This year, Putin brought the horrors of war back to Europe, along with the reminder that peace cannot be taken for granted.[ Rest of statement here ].

The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was named after the two signers, Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and Nazi foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. It contained secret protocols that divided Eastern and Central Europe between the two totalitarian regimes. What they called a “peace treaty”signed on August 23, 1939 started World War 2 with the invasion and conquest of Poland by the Nazis and Soviets days later in September 1939.

Nazi foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov..

Czechoslovakia, a Soviet satellite since 1948, had its Prague Spring in 1968, a moment when reformers in the government sought socialism with a human face and it was ended on August 21, 1968 with the arrival of Warsaw Pact tanks on Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev’s orders followed by an occupation that crushed the reformist initiative.

Two days after the Soviet led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 23, 1968 Fidel Castro publicly supported the invasion and occupation of the central European country. Castro’s support of Soviet imperialism on the 29th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact revealed the true nature of the regime in Cuba.

Leonid Brezhnev and Fidel Castro.

Havana also supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Today let us also remember the Cubans murdered by the totalitarian dictatorship in Cuba.

[ Rest of article here ]