- News and Notes
NED Democracy Awards
On June 17, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) presented its annual Democracy Award to five Cuban activists "for their courage, sacrifice, and determination to build a free and democratic Cuba." José Daniel Ferrer García, Iván Hernández Carrillo, Librado Linares García, Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez," and Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilar were honored in absentia. Antúnez, a leader of Cuba's civic resistance movement who was imprisoned for seventeen years until 2007, and Pérez, who founded the Rosa Parks Women's Movement, are both under house arrest. Ferrer (a youth activist and member of the Christian Liberation Movement), Carrillo (an independent labor activist), and Linares (a young intellectual and founder of the Cuban Reflection Movement) are all in prison after being arrested in the 2003 "Black Spring" crackdown on democratic activists.
Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-FL), along with Kenneth Wollack of the National Democratic Institute, spoke at the award ceremony on Capitol Hill. NED Board Chairman Richard Gephardt presented the awards, which were accepted on behalf of the honorees by Bertha Antúnez Pernet, Antúnez's sister and a leader of the National Movement of Civic Resistance "Pedro Luis Boitel," and Orlando Gutierrez, cofounder of the Cuban Democratic Directorate (Directorio). Antúnez also briefly spoke by phone during the presentation of his award.
The presentations were preceded by a roundtable discussion entitled "Toward a Free Cuba: The Prospect for Democracy after 50 Years of Dictatorship." In addition, a documentary about the awardees entitled "The Courage to be Free" was shown before the presentation of the awards. The film includes a message from Carrillo that was [End Page 183] smuggled out of prison. For more information and to view the film, please see: http://www.ned.org/events/demaward/demaward2009.html.
Leszek Kolakowski (1927–2009)
Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, a member of the Journal's International Advisory Committee, died in Oxford, England, on July 17. Best known for his three-volume work Main Currents of Marxism: Its Rise, Growth and Dissolution, he was a fellow at Oxford University's All Souls College. In 1998, he was awarded Poland's highest honor, the Order of the White Eagle, and in 2003 he was the first recipient of the U.S. Library of Congress's John W. Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities and Social Sciences. A memorial program in his honor is scheduled to be held at the National Endowment for Democracy on October 15, an event that will be reported in a future issue.
Three Leaders of Democracy Pass Away
Three important leaders of the Third Wave of democratization passed away this year. Former Argentine president Raúl Alfonsín died in Buenos Aires on March 31 at age 82. Elected in 1983 after the fall of the military dictatorship, he served until 1989.
Corazon Aquino, former president of the Philippines, died on August 1. The widow of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., a leading figure in the political opposition against President Ferdinand Marcos, she came to power during the People Power Revolution in 1986 and worked toward restoring the country's democratic institutions.
Former Korean president Kim Dae Jung died on August 17. A democracy activist and member of the opposition for four decades, he was finally elected president in 1997. He fought tirelessly for democracy in Korea, famously writing in Foreign Affairs in 1994: "Culture is not necessarily our destiny. Democracy is."
On June 2, the NED, together with the Laogai Research Foundation, organized a half-day conference entitled "Commemorating the Unforgettable: Tiananmen 20 Years On." The panels addressed "Refinement of Repression: How Tiananmen Square Has Shaped the Chinese Media" and "From Tiananmen Square to Charter 08: The Potential for Political Reform in China." Speakers included Xu Wenli, democracy activist and senior fellow at the Watson Institute at Brown University; Lucie Morillon of Reporters Without Borders; Ethan Gutmann, adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; author Gordon Chang; and journalist Jonathan Mirsky. [End Page 184]
On May 5 in...