(Miami-Dade County, FL) -- The public is invited to join the Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department and Miami-Dade County District 10 Commissioner Senator Javier D. Souto, at 11:00 a.m., on Sunday, December 16, 2012, for the unveiling of two commemorative markers at Francisco Human Rights Park, in remembrance of famed freedom advocates Father Miguel Angel Loredo (a Cuban-born Franciscan friar) and Václav Havel (former President of the Czech Republic), who both recently passed away. Two markers will be placed in the park, commemorating the "Father Miguel Angel Loredo Domino Pavilion" and the "Václav Havel Rotunda." This recognition is the result of two Miami-Dade County resolutions sponsored by Commissioner Souto.
"These were two truly courageous and inspiring freedom advocates who are highly respected by our own Miami-Dade Cuban Exile community for their defense of democratic principles and human rights," said Commissioner Souto. "These are the same ideals shared by Cuban freedom fighter Rogelio Gonzalez Corzo ("Francisco"), after whom the park is named, so it is only fitting that these two men are remembered in these special park spaces."
Father Loredo, a Franciscan friar for 51 years and a priest for 47, was a tireless promoter of democratic liberties on the island of Cuba, and a spiritual pillar in the Cuban exile community. He passed away on September 10, 2011 at age 72. He had been in serious condition since suffering a stroke in July. Father Loredo was born November 30, 1938, in Havana, Cuba, the son of prominent physician Miguel Angel Loredo Serra and Emma Garcia. Attracted by the ideals of St. Francis, he entered the Franciscan seminary in Santiago de las Vegas. He was later sent to the Church of St. Francis in Havana and was also pastor in the city of Guanabacoa. His fiery sermons against atheism and Communism enraged Cuban officials. They arrested him in 1966, and accused him of being a spy for the CIA, hiding weapons and participating in a counter-revolutionary conspiracy. Father Loredo always maintained his innocence, but after a fraudulent trial he was sentenced to 15 years. He spent time in numerous prisons, where he underwent forced labor and beatings for not accepting the "re-education" that the government tried to force upon him. During his confinement, he painted on scraps of paper and on the back of the few letters he was allowed to receive; he also wrote poetry. He is survived by his sister, Silvia Fernandez, who lives in Miami.
Václav Havel, a noted Czech playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and politician, passed away on December 18, 2011. He was the ninth and last president of Czechoslovakia (1989-1992) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1993-2003). After the democratic stirrings of the Prague Spring were crushed by Soviet tanks in 1968, Havel's plays were banned along with all other voices of dissent. His work continued to circulate secretly, and in 1977 he co-authored the human rights manifesto Charter 77, one of the seminal works of the growing underground dissident movement. His 1978 essay "Power and the Powerless" advocated that ordinary people stop conforming to Soviet sloganeering and start "living in truth." Havel's frequent police detainments and more than four years in jail only increased his stature as a hero of the underground. When hundreds of thousands of Czechs and Slovaks finally marched in the streets in 1989, he played a vital role in the negotiations that led to the end of communist rule. Not a single shot was fired, and the smooth transition was dubbed the Velvet Revolution.
At the time of his death Havel was Chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation. Among his numerous credits, awards and distinctions, he is known for being: the founding signatory of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, that proposed the establishment of the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism; and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. He was also a recipient of the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Gandhi Peace Prize, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Order of Canada, the freedom medal of the Four Freedoms Award, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, and was voted 4th in Prospect magazine's 2005 global poll of the world's top 100 intellectuals. In all, Havel has authored 20 plays and numerous non-fiction works that have been translated internationally.
Francisco Human Rights Park is located at 9445 SW 24 St. (Coral Way), Miami. For more information about recreational programs and activities at Francisco Human Rights Park, call 305-666-5883 (A.D. Barnes Park), or visit www.miamidade.gov/parks.
About Francisco Human Rights Park:
Francisco Human Rights Park is named after Rogelio Gonzalez Corzo. At the University of Havana, Rogelio became an active member of the Agrupacion Catolica Universitaria. Known in the clandestine Cuban forces as "Francisco" he was the leader (Coordinador Nacional) in Cuba of the anti-Castro "Movimiento de Recuperación Revolucionaria (MRR). In a secret meeting held on July 6, 1960, "Francisco" was elected national coordinator of the Democratic Revolutionary Front, (Frente Revolucionario Democratico FRD) a coalition of the main underground resistance groups. In 1961 he was designated as National Military Coordinator (Coordinador Militar Nacional del Consejo Revolucionario).
On the afternoon of Saturday, March 18, 1961, Rogelio ("Francisco") was arrested in a supposed "safe house" where he and other leaders of the underground movement were discussing strategies to intensify their campaign against Castro's armed forces. The morning of April 20, Rogelio was executed in La Cabana, after a one-day secret trial and sentencing. His last words were "¡Viva Cuba, Viva Cristo Rey!"
About the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces Department:
Nationally accredited, a three-time winner of the NRPA National Gold Medal Award and winner of the 2009 Florida Governor's Sterling Award for excellence in management and operations, Miami-Dade County Parks is the third largest county park system in the United States, consisting of 260 parks and 12,825 acres of land. It is one of the most unique park and recreation systems in the world. Made up of more than just playgrounds and athletic fields, it also comprises out-of-school,
sports-development, and summer-camp programs; programs for seniors and people with disabilities; educational nature centers and nature preserves; environmental restoration efforts; arts and culture programs and events; the renowned Zoo Miami and the Deering Estate at Cutler; the Crandon Tennis Center, home of the Sony Open; golf courses; beaches; marinas; campgrounds; pools; and more. For information about Miami-Dade County Parks call 3-1-1, or visit www.miamidade.gov/parks/.
Miami-Dade County Parks is supported by The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade a non-profit 501(c)3 organization supporting the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department's efforts to further develop Miami-Dade County's world-class parks system for residents and visitors. Its mission is to create a healthier, more livable and sustainable Miami community by ensuring the implementation of the Parks Open Space Master Plan and the development of year-round park and recreation programs for local children, adults and people with disabilities. For more information on the Parks Foundation, please visit www.parksfoundationofmiami-dade.com.
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