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Act of repudiation

Cuba's New Minister of the Interior Inaugurates His Tenure With a
Repressive Wave Across the Country / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Havana/Miami, 11 January 2017 — While in the
United States Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of
State, made it clear that human rights will be an important part of
Washington's policy toward Cuba, the island's police forces carried out
repressive actions in different parts of the country.

"The increase in repression is due to several causes, among them a push
that the government is making in the last days of Barack Obama's
administration to make it clear to Trump that they do not care about the
policy change he has announced towards Cuba," said José Daniel Ferrer,
leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu) speaking from Santiago de
Cuba.

Ferrer denounced the arrest of Jesús Romero and Alexis Rodríguez,
activists of his organization who were accused of "posting an opposition
sign in the center of the city."

Among Unpacu members recently detained are also its coordinator, Ovidio
Martín Castellanos, and the singer Yuniel Aguilera.

"After the death of his brother, Raul Castro needs to increase terror
levels to maintain power," says Ferrer, who says the government is
willing to do anything to eliminate any hint of dissent.

"They know people are tired of the same thing. When in April we
mobilized more than 1,000 people the political police told us that we
would never do something like that again," he adds.

At the other end of the island, the editor of the magazine Convivencia
(Coexistence), Karina Galvez, was the victim of search of her home,
which ended up being sealed. Galvez herself, age 48 and an economist by
profession, is under arrest for the alleged crime of tax evasion.

The director of the Center for Coexistence Studies, Dagoberto Valdés
Hernández, called the escalation against the civic project he leads –
including the suspension of a planned meeting and multiple arrests –
acts of "harassment" by State Security.

Also arrested this day was regime opponent Óscar Elías Biscet, founder
of the Emilia Project, which seeks the change of government in the
island by means of a popular uprising. After a few hours, Dr. Biscet,
who has spent long years in jail, was released.

Activists Eduardo Quintana Suarez, Jose Omar Lorenzo Pimienta and Yoan
Alvares, who belong to the same organization, were also arrested, as
reported by El Nuevo Herald.

Activist Martha Beatriz Roque was arrested when she attempted to attend
the scattering of the ashes of the recently deceased opponent Felix
Antonio Bonne Carcassés. She explained to 14ymedio that her detention
lasted until two on Wednesday afternoon.

Opponent René Gómez Manzano told this newspaper that they "appealed" to
his sanity so that he would not attend the ceremony where the ashes
would be scattered, although he finally succeeded in doing so.

According to a press release from Democratic Directorate in the city of
Holguín, human rights activist Maydolis Leiva Portelles, together with
her three children, under arrest since November 27, 2016, were brought
to trial.

The entire family, according to the press release, including two minors,
was the subject of an act of repudiation that included "violent raiding
of the home, beatings, and robbery of personal property."

This repressive wave has been unfolding within a few hours of the
replacement of the recently deceased Interior Minister, Carlos Fernández
Gondín, by Vice Admiral Julio César Gandarilla. Among other
prerogatives, the person who controls the portfolio of the Interior
Ministry also exercises command over State Security and the National
Revolutionary Police.

"With the [previous minister] repression was quite extensive, although
it must be said that in Cuba a minister cannot do anything without Raul
Castro authorizing it. The policy carried out by Gondín continues with
Gandarilla. We will have more repression as the discontent increases,"
says José Daniel Ferrer.

Source: Cuba's New Minister of the Interior Inaugurates His Tenure With
a Repressive Wave Across the Country / 14ymedio, Mario Penton –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cubas-new-minister-of-the-interior-inaugurates-his-tenure-with-a-repressive-wave-across-the-country-14ymedio-mario-penton/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Havana/Miami, 11 January 2017 — While in the United States Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, made it clear that human rights will be an important part of Washington’s policy toward Cuba, the island’s police forces carried out repressive actions in different parts of the country. “The increase in … Continue reading "Cuba’s New Minister of the Interior Inaugurates His Tenure With a Repressive Wave Across the Country / 14ymedio, Mario Penton" Continue reading
How much truth can a man take? Friedrich Nietzsche Somos+, Roberto Camba, 12 September 2016 — They say it began with the fight to return the young rescued rafter Elian Gonzalez from the United States to Cuba. Really it was much earlier, since the strategy never changes: silence and ignore the adversary, incessantly repeat lies until … Continue reading "Fidel Castro’s Battle of Ideas… Political Pantomime / Somos+, Roberto Camba" Continue reading
You bring out the Cuban in me, Randy!
BY FABIOLA SANTIAGO
fsantiago@miamiherald.com

Dear Randy,

What a sweet name for such a nasty character.

For me, it conjures the infectious loud laugh of a football player I
knew in high school, a friend during a time when I was still privately
heartsick over losing country and family but reveling in the adventure
of becoming an American.

It's not every day that you see a committed soldier of the failed Cuban
Revolution with an American name like Randy, a throwback to the time
when Cuban culture flirted with Americana, and it was oh, so fabulously
chic. With that name, Randy Alonso, you've had to work overtime to climb
the Cuban government's career propagandist ladder to host "Mesa
Redonda," the national television talk show used to indoctrinate Cubans
on what they're supposed to believe.

Branding to demean is your signature talent. You've dubbed us "the Cuban
mafia in Miami" and referred to us as gusanos — worms — but never the
butterflies we became when we began to visit the island laden with gifts
and began to subsidize families to the tune of hundreds of million of
dollars a year. It was the Cuban people who nicknamed us the latter,
their crafty humor intact despite the bitter lies pounded into their psyche.

And now, suffering from a bout of Olympics sour grapes, you've coined a
new term to diminish exiles, immigrants, defectors and hyphenated Cubans
around the world: excubano.

The motive for your trantrum and odious comment? Runner Orlando Ortega,
who won a silver medal for Spain and, in victory, the Cuban native
refused to wrap himself in the Cuban flag. Your disdain only grew as
more Cuban athletes living as far away as Turkey to Azerbaijan won more
medals for their adopted countries, and they had nothing but praise and
gratitude for the refuge and acceptance. No win was sweeter than Danell
Leyva's two silver medals in gymnastics for the USA — Matanzas' loss and
Miami's gain. I felt double the dose of hometown pride.

Embracing as our own those who gave us refuge from oppression doesn't
make us any less Cuban. Wasn't the most heralded Cuban of them all, Jose
Martí, an exile in the United States for many years?

How little you know us, Randy.

If being Cuban is measured by succumbing to the subhuman category the
Cuban government has created for you, then luckily, no, I'm not that
kind of Cuban. I live in a country where I'm not banned from hotel and
beaches, as native-born are in Cuba. I live in a city where I can buy a
ticket to sail along Biscayne Bay on a tour boat full of tourists who
can't wait for the stop in front of a Star Island home to scream and
wave: "Gloria! Gloria!"

That would be the cubanaza Gloria Estefan who has taken Cuban music all
the way to Broadway and the Billboard charts. Believe me, she is no
ex-Cuban.

You, unfortunately, have to live on an island where foreigners are
kings. They enjoy your hotels, your tours of those beautiful archipelago
islets on the Camagüey coast — the ones that not even the Cuban woman
who sells the tour tickets can visit. You, "real Cuban," live in a
national prison where your musicians have to pay tribute to the
comandante if they want to get top bookings on their own turf. The
repressive government you defend is master of all things, even the
culture you're allowed to consume.

By supporting a government that demeans Cubans who don't think like
them, by trying to paint us as the enemy at a time many Cuban-Americans
are building even more bridges, you, Randy, are the pauper who serves them.

When I travel abroad and people ask me where I'm from, I say proudly:
The Independent Republic of Miami. They always want to know more: Where
am I really from? I'm Cuban, I say with equal pride.

But you really want to know how Cuban I am, Randy?

So Cuban that the other day, I angered some of my people when I said
that Cuban supporters of Donald Trump suffer from supremacy syndrome —
and they let me have it. I was treated to one of those hideous things
you invented on the island, the acto de repudio. The act of repudiation
against me, however, had something yours lacks: Internet access, zero
violence and international cachét — the glamour that comes from being
castigated all the way from Paris. To be worthy of repudiation by the
author of a classic Cuban novel — a writer I defended when other Cubans
called her a vulgar Communist — is the ultimate Cuban experience.

Such is the glory of democracy. It has room for everything, something a
repressed person like you, who accepts his master without question,
wouldn't understand. I'm so damn Cuban that I feel empowered to
criticize us — without losing an iota of my "Cubanhood" — when we lose
our way and support an unhinged cretin. And so American that I'm willing
to die defending their right to disagree with me.

If I weren't so Cuban, I would have kept that to myself, written theses
lines with the intellectual serenity of my American persona.

But, Randy, you bring out the Cuban in me.

I'm so Cuban — and I'm surrounded by so much cubanía every day of my
American life in Miami, capital of Cuban exiles — that sometimes, to
tell you the truth, it smothers me.

But to my great fortune, I am Cuban-plus, and like the Olympic athletes,
I'm free to escape into the embrace of another land I love.

Fabiola Santiago: fsantiago@miamiherald.com, @fabiolasantiago

Source: Host of official Cuban television show brands expatriate Olympic
winner 'excubano' – and Cuban-Americans answer: #YoNoSoyExCubano | In
Cuba Today - http://www.incubatoday.com/news/article97965777.html Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario J. Penton, Miami, 21 July 2016 — With blood-stained clothes and wounds and bruises on her arms, Ana Margarito Perdigon Brito returned to Miami from Havana’s Jose Marti Airport this past June. No one knew how to rationalize that the Cuban government prohibited her, a citizen of that country whose paperwork was in … Continue reading "The Emigrant Must Earn Brownie Points to Enter Cuba / 14ymedio, Mario Penton" Continue reading
State Security Tactics in Cuba / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 11 May 2016 — Daniel Llorente Miranda, 52, is a spontaneous
dissident. He doesn't belong to any opposition party, nor is he an
un-gagged journalist. He is on his own.

Last 22 March, with the stars and stripes on his shoulders, Llorente
found himself in the area of the United State Embassy, waiting to greet
President Barack Obama, after he met with a group of opponents,
activists and alternative journalists.

Mixed race, a little overweight and short, Daniel defends authentic
democracy, believes in freedom of expression and is openly anti-Castro.
He shares his narrative peacefully.

On Monday, 2 May, among the many people gathered at the Avenida del
Puerto to greet the Adonia cruise ship, again flying the stars and
stripes, Daniel Llorente was interviewed by the foreign corespondents
when, apparently spontaneously, a thin man with a gray cap, interfered
in his exchange with the press, first contradicting him, second act,
triggers a blast of support for the regime and he ends up insulting it.

Nearby, five or six brawny guys looking like military in plainclothes
join the dispute with the typical verbal verbal lynching: Mercenary!
Traitor! Turncoat! 'breaking' Llorente's interview with the foreign press.

Then, an undercover agent summoned a police car and the spontaneous
dissident was arrested. Before they put him in the car he got a few slaps.

You don't have to be very insightful to understand that everything was
staged. When the altercation got hot, the act of repudiation was joined
by people who, supposedly, are not used to different opinions because of
their doctrinaire education.

The line of plainclothes agents was in the immediate vicinity of where
the independent and foreign press were working. When hearing critical
opinions of the government by those being interviewed, we hear shouts of
Viva Cuba. But nothing is by chance.

According to a resident of San Isidro, a neighborhood a stone's throw
from the cruise ship terminal., "The lady that was asked to throw water
on the guy (Daniel Llorente) sells clothes in the black market. She was
formally warned by the police several times and they tried to make her
work with them to denounce those selling drugs and prostituting in the
area. The black guy with the tattoo is also shameless and corrupt, he
was in the war in Angola and belongs the soldier's association, like the
old many who started the discussion, a hard-line member of the CDR
(Committee for the Defense of the Revolution)."

It's not new that the marginals and delinquents collaborate with State
Security. Nor are acts of repudiation something new. Many analysts
believe they started in 1980 with the emigration of twenty-five thousand
Cubans through the Mariel Boatlift.

But the date goes back further. As far back as the spring of 1959, when
Fidel Castro supporters, with permission from the authorities, burned
newspapers and magazines that reproached the government.

These mobs arrived to injure the journalists critical of Castro. And
they were part of the stating of the "people outraged by the unpatriotic
role of the press."

They mobilized sectors of the people to confront those who disagreed and
to support Castro's measures. They did the same to homosexuals, lovers
of rock music, and the owners of french fry stands.

The year 1980 marked a turning point in the acts of repudiation. And
those who were not outcasts nor bourgeoisie. Nor "mercenaries" nor
"counterrevolutionaries." They were par of this silent mass who
apparently applauded a cause, but at the first opportunity fled their
homeland.

These verbal lynchings came to be very violent. Dozens were reported
injured by beatings and stones thrown by enraged people.

Currently, this reprehensible method is used principally against the
dissidence. The site of the Ladies in White in Lawton, or Antonio
Rodiles' house in Miramar, have been surrounded by children and school
kids from nearby schools who attend without even knowing the background
of the event. They staged a wild party with music to disrupt the
activities planned by the opposition.

On 20 March, just when Barack Obama's Air Force One took off for Havana
from Andrews Military Base in the United States, the cowboys of the
political police formed their human shield with about three hundred
people, to repudiate the Ladies and White and dissident activists.

This has occurred every Sunday for more than a year. After the opponents
leave Santa Rita church, the insults, beatings and arrests start. The
police authorities can arrest the dissidents alleging any reason,
without having to resort to violence or the show.

But it makes up a part of the decalog of the autocracy" counterposing
the political differences with a swarm always superior in numbers, of
revolutionaries 'disgusted' with those who oppose the Castro.

The public money, with no consultation with the ordinary people, is
spent preparing the act of repudiation. Urban buses are diverted and
commerce in the area is paralyzed. Hundreds of students are workers from
the area are mobilized, mixed with the paramilitaries of the so-called
Rapid Response Brigades.

The expert officials from the Department of State Security manage all
the threads. They are worn out strategies. Every dissident or
independent journalist has suffered the same thing. Their function
continues to be intimidating the opposition and engaging their supporters.

The purpose, very simple: the street and public spaces belong
exclusively to Fidel Castro's supporters. It may not be fascism. But
it's close.

Source: State Security Tactics in Cuba / Iván García – Translating Cuba
- http://translatingcuba.com/state-security-tactics-in-cuba-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 11 May 2016 — Daniel Llorente Miranda, 52, is a spontaneous dissident. He doesn’t belong to any opposition party, nor is he an un-gagged journalist. He is on his own. Last 22 March, with the stars and stripes on his shoulders, Llorente found himself in the area of the United State Embassy, waiting … Continue reading "State Security Tactics in Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
To guarantee the prevalence of solidarity and respect, a bill is urgently needed that would penalize acts of repudiation, and hold their perpetrators and accomplices criminally responsible. Help me to promote this bill. Act of Repudiation A Bill to Penalize … Continue reading Continue reading
Is Cuba ready to come in from the cold?
14 April 2015, 17:44 UTC
By Robin Guittard, Caribbean Campaigner at Amnesty International

The Cuban government marked a historic first in Panama over the weekend,
as the Caribbean island's President, Raúl Castro, joined leaders from
around the region at the Summit of the Americas. Despite all the past
wounds and ongoing tensions, all 35 countries sat down together for the
first time.

To understand the significance of this moment, it is important to look
back and take stock of the progress Cuba and the region as a whole have
made. In 1962, during a meeting in Uruguay, the Organization of American
States (OAS), which held this weekend's Summit, decided to kick Cuba out
of the regional club after Fidel Castro and his followers led a
revolution to seize power in the Caribbean nation.

Amid the height of Cold War tensions, the OAS bluntly stated its
rationale for such a drastic decision: "The present Government of Cuba,
which has officially identified itself as a Marxist-Leninist government,
is incompatible with the principles and objectives of the Inter-American
system."

At the time, military juntas were mushrooming up across the continent,
making it hard to believe that human rights, freedoms and dignity drove
this regional decision. Over the coming decades, from Cuba's Caribbean
neighbours Haiti and the Dominican Republic, to Central America, to the
Southern Cone, the Americas saw some of its most horrific governments.
But for much of this time, Cuba alone was singled out as a pariah.

"Despite being historic, President Castro's recent trip to Panama was an
opportunity not to dwell on the past, but rather to ask what comes next
for the Cuban people."
Robin Guittard, Caribbean Campaigner at Amnesty International

"Despite being historic, President Castro's recent trip to Panama was an
opportunity not to dwell on the past, but rather to ask what comes next
for the Cuban people.

What does the future hold? This is perhaps one of the constant questions
that Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez asks himself from his prison cell in
Villa Clara province in central Cuba. Amnesty International recently
named him the latest in a long line of prisoners of conscience on the
island, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his legitimate
rights to freedom of expression and demonstration.

A dissident activist, Ciro was arrested in June 2014 while on his way to
his father's house to celebrate Fathers' Day. Last December he was found
guilty of "public disorder" and sentenced to a year in prison. His
crime: holding a peaceful one-man demonstration against the Cuban
government in the streets of his hometown, Placetas. He is now counting
the days until his release in June.

"In today's Cuba, it remains virtually impossible for anyone to
peacefully express ideas opposing the Cuban government."
Robin Guittard

In today's Cuba, it remains virtually impossible for anyone to
peacefully express ideas opposing the Cuban government. All media are
under the strict control of the state, as are unions. Despite the
subsequent release of dozens of political prisoners early this year,
short-term arrests and harassment of political dissidents and human
rights activists remain a troubling reality on the island.

The harassment of dissidents sometimes takes the form of acts of
repudiation (actos de repudio). These acts are government-coordinated
demonstrations, usually carried out in front of the homes of political
opponents. During an act of repudiation, political opponents and human
rights activists are subjected to verbal and physical abuse by groups of
people chanting pro-government slogans.

The leaders of the OAS should press Cuba to improve its human rights
record. Governments across the region need to drive home the message
that, even if Cuba is inching its way back into the political fold of
the OAS, it should be complemented by adhering to the Inter-American
human rights system.

Through its bodies – the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and
the Inter-American Court of Human Rights – this regional system has
formed a crucial element to complement the human rights protections
provided by national bodies in the Americas. Over the years, thousands
of victims of human rights violations and their families throughout the
continent have found their last hope for justice in these regional
courts after being denied it at the national level.

Working within this system, Cuba's government could send the world a
message it now welcomes accountability, transparency, and independent
monitoring. But so far the message it has been sending is a very
different one. Last month when the Inter-American Commission held a
hearing on Cuba's human rights record, the seats reserved for the Cuban
government delegation remained empty, just like in previous hearings.

"Last month when the Inter-American Commission held a hearing on Cuba's
human rights record, the seats reserved for the Cuban government
delegation remained empty, just like in previous hearings."
Robin Guittard

This conspicuous absence speaks volumes about Cuba's ongoing
unwillingness to be held to the same degree of scrutiny as its peers
across the Americas.

For a country to defend its human rights record, it must be accountable
to the Inter-American system. A good way to start showing this would be
for Cuba to free Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez immediately and
unconditionally, and to make sure he is the last Cuban prisoner of
conscience. The time has come to ensure that all opinions can finally be
peacefully expressed on the island.

Source: Is Cuba ready to come in from the cold? | Amnesty International
-
https://www.amnesty.org/en/articles/blogs/2015/04/cuba-summit-of-the-americas/ Continue reading
[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8YgSXnE76k&feature=youtu.be[/embed] The video shows Cubans affiliated with the Castro regime screaming "GET OUT!" and "Down with the worms!" and "Murderer!" and singing Cuba's National Anthem at Cubans not affiliated with the Castro regime, in the Hotel Panama during the Americas Summit Published on 10 April 2015 on Yoani Sanchez's Twitter account Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_39500" align="alignleft" width="600"] [1] Posters from acts of repudiation during the Mariel Boatlift (1980)[/caption] Against the “scum,” acts of repudiation, beatings and humiliations. Against Florida, an invasion of the unemployed Cubanet.org, Roberto Jesus Quinones Haces, Guantanamo, 1 April 2015 – On the first of April 1980 a bus was driven through the entrance to the Peruvian embassy in Havana; its occupants entered and sought political asylum. Unfortunately, the non-commissioned officer of the PNR (National Revolutionary Police), Pedro Ortiz Cabrera, lost his life in the event. The event was followed by others extremely traumatic for many Cubans due to their violence. All would be indelibly recorded in the nation’s collective memory and would reveal the terrorist nature of the Cuban regime. Fidel Castro demanded that the Peruvian government immediately hand over the people who had forcibly entered the diplomatic headquarters. To have pleased him, long jail sentences and execution by firing squad undoubtedly would have been the sanctions applied. But the government of Peru did not agree, and the Cuban regime adopted a measure that, like the others taken in those days, made it seem to their proxies that the ball had been placed in the opponent’s court. The Measures Taken by Fidel Fidel Castro ordered the withdrawal of protection and monitoring from around the diplomatic headquarters, inciting all Cubans who wanted to emigrate to enter it. Very soon, thousands of people from all the cities and towns of the country crammed into the place turning it into a tangible reservoir of the discontent that now was sapping society. [caption id="attachment_39501" align="aligncenter" width="500"] [2] Mariel Boatlift act of Repudiation. "Cuba for the workers. Those who live on our sweat, let them go." (Left side: "Let the scum go")[/caption] The increase in the number of countrymen who wanted to emigrate was made evident, and the government, with the objective of discouraging the exits that it had sponsored, made terror its deterrent method par excellence. It was the first time that acts of repudiation were applied on the Cuban public stage. The beatings and humiliations abounded everywhere. The masses, encouraged by powerful groups and directed by individuals of doubtful social behavior, violated the most basic norms of respect for human dignity, and the country lived through several weeks of fascist practices that kept it on edge until the international community strongly protested. The government demanded the refugees in the embassy and all those who desired to emigrate to present themselves at their places of employment or study in order to be given leave. The unemployed had to seek the document from the CDRs (Committees in Defense of the Revolution). That was the indispensable requisite in order to obtain the exit permit, and it would allow the mobs to intercept the petitioners in order to attack them. Another Shameless Political Action Some years had to pass to have access to other reports and above all to read and listen to the irrefutable testimonies on Radio Marti and right here, in order to understand the magnitude of the events and the perversity of the government in those demeaning days of our history. With the single purpose of getting the advantage in a confrontation where he would always be seen as the victim due to the political, military, economic and moral grandeur of the opponent, Fidel Castro took dangerous offenders from the jails and put them in the embassy in order to create chaos, and then he demanded that the boats that came in search of relatives take these people as well. Together with them travelled not a few mentally ill, it was later learned. It was a clever move, but of ephemeral value and revealing of the unethical essence of the regime whose immediate objective was to discredit the new emigrants, whom the government elite called “scum.” But also it tried to clean out the Cuban jails and export to the US potential disruptive social elements that Hollywood would portray in popular films like Scarface. Time Relentlessly Passed Thirty-five years after these events -- which came to be known in the United States as the Mariel Boatlift -- many of the Cubans who were catalogued as “scum,” thanks to their honest work and a society that is not perfect but that does guarantee all human liberties, enjoy a life in the US where maybe nostalgia for the home country occupies an important place, but one in which they live according to their way of thinking, with dignity. [caption id="attachment_39502" align="aligncenter" width="640"] [3] Act of repudiation against the Ladies in White in recent times.[/caption] The Mariel Boatlift was not a success of the Castro regime; to the contrary. One highly placed leader from that time, Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, admitted to a Mexican magazine that the Revolution had nothing to be proud of with respect to what happened. It is rumored that it was the catalyst for the suicide of Haydee Santamaria [4] and the object of analysis in the farewell letter that Osvaldo Dorticos [5] wrote to Fidel Catro before dying from another gunshot. It was a Pyrrhic victory that very soon lost the artificial shine of the trappings that the Castro regime figureheads dished out in order to praise the supposed genius of the leader. His abuses, still unpunished crimes and inequities were unmasked to reveal the fascist essence of the methods used by the mobs encouraged and supported by the police and political leaders. Since then the acts of repudiation against officially disfavored diplomatic headquarters and the peaceful opposition, especially the extraordinary Ladies in White and the brave members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), are still practiced in the streets and before the homes of those harassed. This, together with repression and constant vigilance by the state security forces as well as the government’s refusal to respect political and fundamental civil rights, shows that state terrorism is a practice entrenched in the Castro regime. The Americans should not forget it, especially now when, behind the abundant dividends, they try to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. About the author [6]Roberto Jesus Quinones Haces was born in the city of Cienfuegos September 20, 1957. Law graduate. He was sentenced in 1999 in an unfair and illegal way to eight years incarceration and since then has been prohibited from practicing as a lawyer. He has published the books of poetry “The Flight of the Deer” (1995 Editorial Oriente), “Written from jail” (2001, Ediciones Vitral), “The Folds of Dawn” (2008, Editorial Oriente) and “The Water of Life” (2008 Editorial El Mar y La Montana). He got the Vitral Grand Prize for Poetry in 2001 for his book “Written from Jail” as well as Mention and Special Recognition by the Nosside Juried International Poetry Competition in 2006 and 2008, respectively. His poems appear in the UNEAC Anthology of 1994, in the Nosside Competition Anthology of 2006 and in the selected ten-line stanzas “This Jail of Pure Air” produced by Waldo Gonzalez in 2009. Translated by MLK [1] http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Mariel-cover-1-cubanet-by-mlk.jpg [2] http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Mariel-OK-Cubanet-by-MLK.jpg [3] http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Acto-de-repudio-contra-las-Damas-de-Blanco-Cubanet-by-MLK.jpg [4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayd%C3%A9e_Santamar%C3%ADa [5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osvaldo_Dortic%C3%B3s_Torrado [6] http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/jesus-quinones-haces.thumbnail.jpeg Continue reading
The Ladies in White Should Change Their Political Profile / Ivan Garcia
Posted on March 20, 2015

Ivan Garcia, 11 March 2015 — During the hot summer of 2013 I remember
Blanca Reyes, wife of the poet and journalist Raul Rivero, writing
letters to the pope in the Vatican, to the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo
in Argentina and to Nelson Mandela in South Africa, reminding them that
Fidel Castro had sentenced Rivero to twenty years behind bars for
writing without approval.

Reyes was speaking on behalf her husband and seventy-four other
prisoners of conscience detained in March 2003. I saw up close the
suffering of these women. At mid-morning, armed with baskets of food and
toiletries, they traveled hundreds of kilometers to visit their
husbands, fathers, sons and brothers in jail.

They were also prisoners of the system. Later they decided to organize.
They were like a clan. Laura Pollán was a natural leader who began
acting as the spokesperson for the group.

Never before in the history of Cuba's peaceful dissident movement has
there been an organization with as much international reach as the
Ladies in White. They have compelling reasons for marching gladiolas in
hand, demanding freedom for their loved ones.

They were subjected to physical assaults, humiliations and verbal abuse
by paramilitaries. Their symbolism and courage were key considerations
in leading the Castro regime to ask the Catholic church to act as
intermediary with the women after the death of Orlando Zapata in prison
from a hunger strike.

With participation of Cuba's Cardinal Jaime Ortega and Spain's
Chancellor Miguel Ángel Moratinos the Ladies in White forced the
government to negotiate the release of prisoners arrested during the
2003 crackdown on dissidents known as the Black Spring.

They wrangled another concession from the regime: the right to march on
Sundays through an area of Fifth Avenue in Havana's Miramar district.
But with most of the prisoners of conscience having gone into exile, the
time has come for the Ladies in White to refocus and reorganize themselves.

There are several options available. One would be to form a political
party and focus their efforts on addressing other issues. In today's
society it is not only those who are imprisoned for criticizing the
regime who suffer. Prostitution and violence in general have increased.

In Cuba working women are paid poverty-level wages. They, like
housewives, have to struggle daily just to survive, especially when it
comes to looking for food. Besides handling domestic chores and seeing
to their children's education, they must also care for elderly and sick
parents and relatives.

The Ladies in White might become an advocacy organization for Cuban
women by trying to address the many problems they have today.

Their current platform includes a demand for democracy and freedom for
so-called prisoners of conscience. This is something that should be
better defined since it is not at all clear whether a former
counter-intelligence official and someone who hijacks a boat belong in
the same category. Nevertheless, there are already groups within the
dissident movement who fulfill this function.

What is lacking are organizations which can serve as voices of the
community. Dilapidated and dark streets, poor public transportation,
water and food shortages, low salaries, and health care and educational
systems in free fall affect both supporters and critics of the regime.

These are areas in which the Ladies in White might focus their efforts.
In the regime's farsical elections scheduled April 19 to select
municipal and neighborhood delegates, the Ladies in White could
encourage citizens to vote blank ballots.

Under the current election law any citizen can monitor the vote count.
The day that the number of citizens voting blank ballots reaches a high
percentage is the day that we have the potential to gain real power to
foster change.

These days the dissident movement is all smoke and mirrors. It is more
media-savvy than effective. It cannot expect to play a role in future
negotiations if it is not capable of mobilizing people in the thousands.
Given their ability to organize, the ideal situation would be for the
Ladies in White to concentrate their efforts in neighborhoods.

I do not believe focusing on conversations between Cuba and the United
States is the right strategy. Political lobbying should left to those
dissidents who are better prepared.

Berta Soler is a woman to be reckoned with. She is not, however,
comfortable in front of a microphone. Engaging in politics, travelling
overseas and riding the information wave are more rewarding.

But what is needed on the island are boots on the ground working at the
grassroots level. Raising awareness of issues among the large silent
majority of non-conformists who prefer to sit on the sidelines is what
is required. This is something the Ladies in White and other dissident
organizations could do.

The row between Berta Soler and Alejandrina García was badly handled.*
Using an act of repudiation to undercut García was unfortunate. I
applaud Soler's decision to hold internal elections within the group.

It is a healthy practice and the rest of the dissident movement should
take note. If they want credibility, the political opposition should
adopt bylaws and practice transparency.

Most conflicts within the Cuban opposition are results of nepotism,
trafficking in favors and corruption. There are opposition leaders who
talk like democrats but who act quite differently. Meanwhile, their
followers often serve as a chorus of extras whose only purpose is to
provide applause and adulation.

The genesis of the Damas de Blanco was collectivism and authenticity.
Without a strategic change course, the movement — founded twelve years
ago — may simply peter out. That would be a shame.

*Translator's note: A video from December 16 was released showing a
group of Ladies in White surrounding Garcia, a founder of the
organization, and shouting "down with traitors" at the movement's
headquarters. As a result, sixteen exiled founders of the movement
signed a letter asking Soler to resign and hold elections to give the
group a new direction. They called the incident "an abominable act of
repudiation" and described it as a "communist" and "fascist" reaction.
Source: Miami Herald

Source: The Ladies in White Should Change Their Political Profile / Ivan
Garcia | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-ladies-in-white-should-change-their-political-profile-ivan-garcia/ Continue reading
[1]Ivan Garcia, 11 March 2015 — During the hot summer of 2013 I remember Blanca Reyes, wife of the poet and journalist Raul Rivero, writing letters to the pope in the Vatican, to the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina and to Nelson Mandela in South Africa, reminding them that Fidel Castro had sentenced Rivero to twenty years behind bars for writing without approval. Reyes was speaking on behalf her husband and seventy-four other prisoners of conscience detained in March 2003. I saw up close the suffering of these women. At mid-morning, armed with baskets of food and toiletries, they traveled hundreds of kilometers to visit their husbands, fathers, sons and brothers in jail. They were also prisoners of the system. Later they decided to organize. They were like a clan. Laura Pollán was a natural leader who began acting as the spokesperson for the group. Never before in the history of Cuba’s peaceful dissident movement has there been an organization with as much international reach as the Ladies in White. They have compelling reasons for marching gladiolas in hand, demanding freedom for their loved ones. They were subjected to physical assaults, humiliations and verbal abuse by paramilitaries. Their symbolism and courage were key considerations in leading the Castro regime to ask the Catholic church to act as intermediary with the women after the death of Orlando Zapata in prison from a hunger strike. With participation of Cuba’s Cardinal Jaime Ortega and Spain’s Chancellor Miguel Ángel Moratinos the Ladies in White forced the government to negotiate the release of prisoners arrested during the 2003 crackdown on dissidents known as the Black Spring. They wrangled another concession from the regime: the right to march on Sundays through an area of Fifth Avenue in Havana’s Miramar district. But with most of the prisoners of conscience having gone into exile, the time has come for the Ladies in White to refocus and reorganize themselves. There are several options available. One would be to form a political party and focus their efforts on addressing other issues. In today’s society it is not only those who are imprisoned for criticizing the regime who suffer. Prostitution and violence in general have increased. In Cuba working women are paid poverty-level wages. They, like housewives, have to struggle daily just to survive, especially when it comes to looking for food. Besides handling domestic chores and seeing to their children’s education, they must also care for elderly and sick parents and relatives. The Ladies in White might become an advocacy organization for Cuban women by trying to address the many problems they have today. Their current platform includes a demand for democracy and freedom for so-called prisoners of conscience. This is something that should be better defined since it is not at all clear whether a former counter-intelligence official and someone who hijacks a boat belong in the same category. Nevertheless, there are already groups within the dissident movement who fulfill this function. What is lacking are organizations which can serve as voices of the community. Dilapidated and dark streets, poor public transportation, water and food shortages, low salaries, and health care and educational systems in free fall affect both supporters and critics of the regime. These are areas in which the Ladies in White might focus their efforts. In the regime’s farsical elections scheduled April 19 to select municipal and neighborhood delegates, the Ladies in White could encourage citizens to vote blank ballots. Under the current election law any citizen can monitor the vote count. The day that the number of citizens voting blank ballots reaches a high percentage is the day that we have the potential to gain real power to foster change. These days the dissident movement is all smoke and mirrors. It is more media-savvy than effective. It cannot expect to play a role in future negotiations if it is not capable of mobilizing people in the thousands. Given their ability to organize, the ideal situation would be for the Ladies in White to concentrate their efforts in neighborhoods. I do not believe focusing on conversations between Cuba and the United States is the right strategy. Political lobbying should left to those dissidents who are better prepared. Berta Soler is a woman to be reckoned with. She is not, however, comfortable in front of a microphone. Engaging in politics, travelling overseas and riding the information wave are more rewarding. But what is needed on the island are boots on the ground working at the grassroots level. Raising awareness of issues among the large silent majority of non-conformists who prefer to sit on the sidelines is what is required. This is something the Ladies in White and other dissident organizations could do. The row between Berta Soler and Alejandrina García was badly handled.* Using an act of repudiation to undercut García was unfortunate. I applaud Soler’s decision to hold internal elections within the group. It is a healthy practice and the rest of the dissident movement should take note. If they want credibility, the political opposition should adopt bylaws and practice transparency. Most conflicts within the Cuban opposition are results of nepotism, trafficking in favors and corruption. There are opposition leaders who talk like democrats but who act quite differently. Meanwhile, their followers often serve as a chorus of extras whose only purpose is to provide applause and adulation. The genesis of the Damas de Blanco was collectivism and authenticity. Without a strategic change course, the movement — founded twelve years ago — may simply peter out. That would be a shame. *Translator’s note: A video from December 16 was released showing a group of Ladies in White surrounding Garcia, a founder of the organization, and shouting “down with traitors” at the movement’s headquarters. As a result, sixteen exiled founders of the movement signed a letter asking Soler to resign and hold elections to give the group a new direction. They called the incident “an abominable act of repudiation” and described it as a “communist” and “fascist” reaction. Source: Miami Herald [2] [1] https://desdelahabanaivan.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/damas-de-blanco-por-la-quinta-avenida-_mn-620x330.jpg [2] http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article10644872.html Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_39236" align="aligncenter" width="623"] [1] Laura Labrada during the press conference at the headquarters of the Ladies in White (14ymedio)[/caption] [2]14ymedio, Havana, 19 March 2015 -- In a press conference Thursday in Havana, the Lady in White Laura Labrada, daughter of the late Laura Pollán, announced the creation of a foundation with the name of her mother said she wouldn’t allow "Berta Soler to use the name of [her] mother in her movement." In a long document, read in front of independent journalists and foreign correspondents, Labrada accused Soler of poor leadership of the movement and “adopting irreverent conduct.” She added, “I respect from a distance what [Soler] does and her effort, for this she should use her own name, which history will view with mistrust.” The foundation, which will be created shortly, will have as its objective support for the most disadvantaged people, according to Labrada, especially children and the elderly. During the round of questions, the Lady in White said that in making these decisions she counted on the support of “more than a hundred women,” belonging to the movement. "There have been lamentable events, which have challenged not only the prestige of the organization but also its intended purpose" In the first point of the statement, Labrada says that since the death of her mother, “There have been lamentable events, which have challenged not only the prestige of the organization but also its intended purpose and its methods.” She highlighted, “Unjustified expulsions, resignations for mistreatment, misunderstandings and the lack of democracy. The intrusions of people from outside the movement in decision-making, fights between men and incitements to violence, internal repudiation rallies in the style of the Castro regime, and disqualifications.” The conference has taken place a few weeks since a hundred women, among them Labrada herself, signed a letter in which they asked for changes within the Ladies in White. The organization was going through “a very difficult situation with undemocratic procedures that are happening in the headquarters of our organization,” the document asserted. Berta Soler, who assumed the leadership of the group after the death of Laura Pollán, responded to the call for a referendum on her leadership. She received a widely favorable result, getting 180 votes out of a total of 201. The organization has faced other problems in the past year. In September 2014, a group of women in the province of Santiago de Cuba, led by Belkis Cantillo, founded Citizens for Democracy. This decision was taken following the disagreements between Belkis Cantillo and Berta Soler that caused the separation of dozens of women from the Ladies in White. The Ladies in White movement arose after the arrests of the Black Spring [3], exactly 12 years ago. A group of women dressed in white marched after attending mass at the Santa Rita parish in the Miramar neighborhood, to peacefully protest and give visibility to the situation of the political prisoners jailed that March of 2003. Laura Pollán stood out, together with Miriam Leyva and Gisela Delgado, and became the leader of the group and the most recognized figure internationally. The Ladies in White received the European Parliament’s Sakharov Price, which they did not collect until 2013, as the Government did not allow them to travel to participate in the award ceremony. The house at 963 Neptune Street "cannot be returned to the women who participated in the act of repudiation against Alejandrina García de la Riva" In her statements, Labrada referred to the negotiations between the governments of Cuba and the United States and said that “we support and recognize the decision of the United States government, a historic event that offers new opportunities to establish true democracy in Cuba. Then it will depend on us, the people, to know how to take advantage of it to construct a strong civil society that visualizes the path to freedom." To a question from 14ymedio about the property at 963 Neptune, Laura Labrada said that this house “cannot be returned to the women who participated in an act of repudiation against Alejandrina García de la Riva.” The house, located in Cental Havana, has been the headquarters of the Ladies in White since it emerged in 2003 and, until her death in 2011, the leader of the movement Laura Pollán lived there. The house has been the direct target of acts of repudiation, monitoring and control by the political police during all those years, and in it have been carried out numerous activities such as literary teas – the most important meetings of the organization – and tributes or memorials to other figures of the opposition movement. In addition, the place served as a shelter for women activists who came from other provinces to the capital. Currently living in the house is Laura Pollán’s widower, Hector Masada, who was one of the 75 opponents imprisoned during the Black Spring. [1] http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Laura-Labrada-conferencia-Damas-Blanco_CYMIMA20150319_0008_13.jpg [2] http://www.14ymedio.com/ [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Spring_%28Cuba%29 Continue reading
Berta Soler announces recall referendum on her tenure as head of the
Ladies in White / 14ymedio
Posted on February 23, 2015

14ymedio, Havana, 22 February 2015 — During a press conference this
afternoon, Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, announced that a
recall referendum would be held within the organization to define her
continuity at the head of this Human Rights movement.

Surrounded fifty Ladies in White, Soler read a statement to several
foreign correspondents and independent media gathered near the Church of
Santa Rita, in the Havana neighborhood of Miramar.

According to the activist, she will submit her leadership at the head of
the organization to a recall referendum. The date of the consultation
will be this coming March 16, but she did not detail how the procedure
would be carried out.

In her statement, Berta Soler also invited the Ladies in White living in
Miami who signed a letter last week asking for her resignation to
"return to Cuba to fight."

In a letter published last Wednesday by the newspaper El Nuevo Herald,
several founders of the Ladies in White in exile felt that the group
needed a new direction and requested the resignation of Soler. According
to the newspaper, 16 members of the organization in the United States
defended Alejandrina Garcia de la Riva, another member of the group in
disagreement with Soler.

At the conclusion of the press conference on Sunday, the Ladies in White
cheered Berta Soler and chanted her name.

Soler explained that today's march was dedicated to Orlando Zapata
Tamayo, an activist who died in February 2010 after a prolonged hunger
strike. The leader of the Ladies in White also said that once the press
conference ended, the women would continue their pilgrimage beyond
Avenida Quintera towards the neighborhood of Vedado.

This newspaper was able to confirm that minutes after crossing the Calle
Linea tunnel, an act of repudiation was carried out against the Ladies
in White who, for fifteen minutes, were surrounded by people carrying
posters with official slogans and screaming out against them. The women
were then forced into several buses waiting near the site and driven off
to a unknown destination.

Source: Berta Soler announces recall referendum on her tenure as head of
the Ladies in White / 14ymedio | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/berta-soler-announces-recall-referendum-on-her-tenure-as-head-of-the-ladies-in-white-14ymedio/ Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_38717" align="aligncenter" width="623"] [1] Berta Soler during Sunday's press conference (Photo: 14ymedio)[/caption] [2]14ymedio, Havana, 22 February 2015 -- During a press conference this afternoon, Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White [3], announced that a recall referendum would be held within the organization to define her continuity at the head of this Human Rights movement. Surrounded fifty Ladies in White, Soler read a statement to several foreign correspondents and independent media gathered near the Church of Santa Rita, in the Havana neighborhood of Miramar. According to the activist, she will submit her leadership at the head of the organization to a recall referendum. The date of the consultation will be this coming March 16, but she did not detail how the procedure would be carried out. In her statement, Berta Soler also invited the Ladies in White living in Miami who signed a letter last week asking for her resignation to “return to Cuba to fight.” In a letter published last Wednesday by the newspaper El Nuevo Herald, several founders of the Ladies in White in exile felt that the group needed a new direction and requested the resignation of Soler. According to the newspaper, 16 members of the organization in the United States defended Alejandrina Garcia de la Riva, another member of the group in disagreement with Soler. At the conclusion of the press conference on Sunday, the Ladies in White cheered Berta Soler and chanted her name. Soler explained that today's march was dedicated to Orlando Zapata Tamayo, an activist who died in February 2010 after a prolonged hunger strike. The leader of the Ladies in White also said that once the press conference ended, the women would continue their pilgrimage beyond Avenida Quintera towards the neighborhood of Vedado. This newspaper was able to confirm that minutes after crossing the Calle Linea tunnel, an act of repudiation was carried out against the Ladies in White who, for fifteen minutes, were surrounded by people carrying posters with official slogans and screaming out against them. The women were then forced into several buses waiting near the site and driven off to a unknown destination. [caption id="attachment_38716" align="aligncenter" width="623"] [4] Act of repudiation against Ladies in White near the Calle Linea tunnel (14ymedio)[/caption] [1] http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Berta-Soler-conferencia-domingo-Foto_CYMIMA20150222_0001_16.jpg [2] http://www.14ymedio.com/ [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladies_in_White [4] http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Acto-Damas-Blanco-Calle-Linea_CYMIMA20150222_0002_16.jpg Continue reading
Exiled Ladies in White members demand leader's resignation after YouTube
video
NORA GÁMEZ TORRES NGAMEZTORRES@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM
02/18/2015 7:38 PM 02/18/2015 11:07 PM

After appearing before two recent U.S. congressional hearings seeking
freedom for political prisoners and respect for human rights in Cuba,
the leader of Ladies in White now faces calls for her resignation from
exiled members of the organization.

The controversy began after a YouTube video was posted showing a large
group of Ladies in White members booing Alejandrina García de la Riva
and screaming "Down with traitors!" on Dec. 16 at the organization's
headquarters in Havana.

After entering the building, several women surrounded De La Riva,
yelling "traitor" as she remained silent.

De La Riva, who lives in Matanzas, is founder of the movement that was
originally started by wives and family members of the 75 dissidents
arrested during the spring of 2003. Her husband, Diosdado González
Marrero, was one of them, serving a 20-year prison sentence.

De La Riva had expressed disagreement with the direction of the
organization, headed by Berta Soler.

Sixteen founders of the movement who live in exile have signed a letter
asking Soler to resign and hold elections to give the group a new
direction because of the way De La Riva was treated. They called it "an
abominable act of repudiation."

Such actions are signs of "communist" and "fascist" behavior, they say,
"and not of people who fight for democracy and human rights."

The signers of the letter emphasized the "courageous trajectory" of De
La Riva "in the struggle to free all members of the group of 75," and
asked that all women who participated in the protest be expelled from
the organization.

In Miami, Aniley Puentes, one of the Ladies in White who signed the
letter, said that "it was not appropriate" for Soler to continue leading
the movement after "having thrown mud on the name of the Ladies in
White" with "this act of repudiation typical of Communist behavior."

Puentes, who left Cuba for Spain in 2010 with her husband, former
political prisoner Fidel Suárez Cruz, and a year later moved to Miami,
said that she was unaware how Soler was elected to head the movement
after the death of Laura Pollán in 2011.

"We don't know how Berta was elected," she said. "We were not consulted
and we don't know the way to hold an election in Cuba. If Berta resigns,
which I doubt, it must be a problem of the women there to hold an election."

Contacted by el Nuevo Herald, Soler dismissed the request for her
resignation. "Resign? Never," she said. "Those who really count here are
the women of the Ladies in White movement who live in Cuba, who are more
than 250, and they have not considered elections."

Soler said she "respected the freedom of expression of those women in
exile." She also acknowledged that "maybe the way [the protest] was done
was not correct," but that "it was not an act of repudiation against
Alejandrina de la Riva," but rather a "rejection, because we didn't want
to listen to her and she had been warned" that she had to wait for a
meeting with the national board to express her disagreement over Soler's
leadership.

Soler said that De La Riva went to the movement's headquarters to
"provoke a situation" and also referred to the precedent set by the
State Security when they used members of opposing groups to attack their
leaders. Soler underlined that De La Riva had expressed her opinions
previously and that the rejection of her statements prompted the angry
reaction of the Ladies in White who were present.

"What would you do with a person who enters a place and is not accepted,
not wanted and is asked to leave?" Soler asked. "Call the police, beat
her, leave her alone or scream at her?"

Her husband, former political prisoner Ángel Moya, posted on YouTube
another clip from the incident where Soler and De La Riva argued over
the distribution of food and aid. One of the Ladies in White who was
present vehemently denied that Soler had left "food for the State
Security" at customs when she returned to Cuba from the United States,
as De La Riva claimed.

"It's important to watch the complete video," Soler said. "Because the
Cuban government only posted a clip to create confusion about the Ladies
in White."

It's not the only crisis facing the movement, which in 2005 was awarded
the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Conscience.

In August, Eastern region representative Belkis Cantillo resigned after
clashing with Soler, which prompted about 30 women to leave the
organization and create a new movement named Citizens for Democracy.

Beyond internal conflicts and divisions, this incident points to a
deeper issue in the country's political life, says Sebastián Arcos,
former political prisoner and deputy director of Florida International
University's Cuban Research Institute.

"Three generations of Cubans have been living in a political environment
where debates have not existed and which constantly incites verbal
aggression," he said. "That is the political culture under which Cubans
have grown after 1959. It is not a heritage of the republic; it's a
heritage of the Castro regime."

Source: Exiled Ladies in White members demand leader's resignation after
YouTube video | The Miami Herald The Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article10644872.html Continue reading
Fabiola Santiago: In Havana, a wicked, unexpected act
BY FABIOLA SANTIAGO FSANTIAGO@MIAMIHERALD.COM
02/17/2015 7:08 PM 02/17/2015 7:27 PM

In Cuban Miami, the past is never too far away.

One of the most poignant stories my mother tells about our lives in
1960s Cuba begins with her standing at the bread line in the
neighborhood bodega of our lovely seaside Matanzas.

Every family was allowed, per the ration book, one quarter piece of
bread per member. We were four: my mother, father, brother and I, and
that's how the grocer proceeded to fill the order.

But a woman came out of her place in line and stopped him. My mother was
only entitled to three pieces, she argued, because my father had been
sent to work in the agricultural fields as punishment for declaring his
intention to leave the country. He was not at home to eat the bread.

The woman demanded that the grocer take away his share, or she would
report him to the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution for being
a friend of traitors.

In those small, dehumanizing moments and with the complicity of
neighbors — people who had known you all your life — Fidel Castro
solidified his grip on power. Through repeat performances — different
decades, new supporting characters, same methods — he and his brother
Raúl sustained their dynastic dictatorship.

I can barely stand to hear my mother tell the bread story without a
terrible sense of hopelessness taking hold — and now, in the midst of
hopeful change, a disgraceful video out of Havana brings back that
feeling with wicked force. Circulating in Miami and the Cuban diaspora,
the video shows a group of Ladies in White last month shouting epithets
and staging an acto de repudio, an act of repudiation, against one of
the group's founding members, now an outcast.

"Traitor, traitor," they yelled. "We don't want to listen to you."

The loathsome behavior by otherwise brave Damas de Blanco, so lovingly
hosted at the Freedom Tower and welcomed in Miami, is what you'd call
the work of the devil himself. Or, perhaps, it's only another instance
of that national character flaw that filmmaker Néstor Almendros so
perfectly defined as "the Fidelito we all carry inside of us."

Like so many here, I'm struggling to understand why leader Berta Soler
would ever allow, much less encourage, the vulgar and angry protest
against the presence of founding member Alejandrina García de la Riva at
the Ladies' headquarters, the home of the late founder Laura Pollán.
Soler acknowledges that she had a falling out with García over the
direction of the group. Others say the breakup was over things like money.

Either way, Soler voices little regret for the acto de repudio nor
offers an apology.

How sad.

These valiant women won the world's respect for their peaceful silent
marches in Havana, armed with nothing but gladioli and human rights
principles to prove that their dissident husbands, fathers, sons and
brothers didn't belong in prison.

Their disintegration is heartbreaking.

There's no presidential decree, no bilateral agreement, no thaw that
will ever change Cuba for the better until the undignified fight for
that metaphorical piece of bread ends. In a country with an unsavory
history and a frail future, the last thing dissidents need is to fight
each other using the appalling methods of the dictatorship.

It's as if intolerance is our only destiny, the past never a lesson,
always lurking, ready for a return.

When I wearily called my mother Tuesday as I was writing this, she
didn't hesitate to re-tell me her story of the woman who tried to take
away a piece of bread in the name of the Revolution.

"Oh yes, Carmen. She was my best friend," my mother said. They went to
parties and places together before the revolution, the only one of her
friends my grandmother trusted.

And I realized then that I had exiled their friendship from my memory of
the bread story, severed it, as if by doing so, I could take the sting
out of the despicable — for all of us.

Source: Fabiola Santiago: In Havana, a wicked, unexpected act | The
Miami Herald The Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/fabiola-santiago/article10555457.html Continue reading
El Crítico: Music as a subversive instrument in Cuba
02/06/2015 2:38 PM 02/06/2015 10:08 PM

HAVANA
During his years behind bars, Angel Yunier Remón Arzuaga staged a 27-day
hunger strike and refused to wear the prison uniform. Now, as the rapper
known as "El Critico" returns to his music, he plans to do so with a
strong message against the Castro regime.

After an almost 14-hour trip from his native Bayamo — the city in
eastern Cuba that was the cradle of the national anthem and independence
from Spain —"El Crítico" and dissident Alexander Otero recently
celebrated their freedom in a bar in Old Havana. They were on a list of
53 political prisoners the the United States requested released as part
of an effort to normalize relations between the two countries.

Just two weeks after being released for launching a war of words against
the Raúl Castro government, they are ready for renewed combat.

Remón is the only musician on the list of freed political prisoners. His
crime was to write "Down with the dictatorship" on the door of his house.

A member of the hip-hop group "Los Hijos que Nadie Quiso" (The Children
No One Wanted), Remón charged against the regime's official propaganda
as if wielding a machete — forcefully and unapologetically:

"I did not invent the acts of repudiation/ I did not sink the tugboat 13
de marzo/ I did not assassinate Boitel/ I'm not responsible for the
Mariel..."

His "freedom" has conditions. Anything the 31-year-old performer may do
that the government sees as outside the revolutionary standards will
have consequences. But he's planning to bring his music of
dissatisfaction to Havana.

"I believe that this dialogue will be very positive and satisfactory for
the Cuban people," says Remón about the diplomatic talks between Havana
and Washington, in his first interview with a Miami newspaper.

"And it will be beneficial for our people, because we'll have a chance
to exchange ideas with people who live in a democracy."

For his part, Otero, 38, who displays a tattoo on his right arm saying
"No to the Castros," says that the mistreatment he suffered during more
than 18 months in prison will not deter him from continuing to demand
improvements for the island.

"They beat me very hard several times in prison, to the point that they
almost gave me a cerebral ischemia," Otero says. "They beat us for our
critical stance to a system that doesn't tolerate different voices. What
we now hope is that, with these negotiations with the United States, we
Cubans may express ourselves without being beaten for thinking differently."

THEIR CRIMES

Remón and Otero were arrested March 26, 2013, on charges of contempt of
authority and resisting arrest. That morning, Remón says, he had been
the victim of an act of repudiation. The front of his house, in Bayamos'
Ciro Redondo neighborhood, was daubed with tar and asphalt.

The masked men who soiled his house were not identified, and Remón's
complaints to the leaders of the neighborhood Committee for the Defense
of the Revolution (CDR) went for naught. Shortly thereafter, he wrote on
his door, "Down with the dictatorship."

"People gathered to see what had happened to me and all of a sudden an
agent pounced on me," says Remón, who is a coordinator in Bayamo for the
opposition group Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).

"But then the agent claimed that I attacked him first, so they took me
to jail."

Hearing about the incident, Otero went to defend Remón. He even shouted
complaints about the authorities' abuses against the dissidents.

"We demand that the Cuban government give way to the new generations,"
Otero says that he shouted on the street that day. "Because a Cuban who
steals from the government is innocent; because a man who steals from a
thief is forgiven for his sin; because this is a corrupt government."

Shortly thereafter, both were sent to the Las Mangas Prison in Bayamo.
Between October and November 2013, El Crítico staged a hunger strike in
support of his demand for an oral trial.

After the hunger strike, which was replicated on Miami's Calle Ocho, the
Cuban courts in October 2014 sentenced Otero to five years' imprisonment
and El Crítico to eight.

The beatings by guards made prison a torment, they said. On occasion,
Remón was forbidden to receive visits from relatives. He was hard put to
control his anger.

"Alex [Otero] and I did not obey the disciplinary rules to which common
prisoners were subjected, such as wearing gray uniforms," Remón says.
"We dressed in white, but several times we were punished and made to
wear only our underwear."

"I don't repress those who think differently/ I didn't imprison 75
innocents..."

Thanks to UNPACU's active media strategy, El Crítico's denunciations
from prison reached the Internet and YouTube. His case had enough
international repercussion that the United States advocated for him to
the Castro government.

CROSSING BORDERS

El Crítico is not an isolated case in a growing trend of the
politicization of the arts and culture in Cuba.

In more than two decades, the hip-hop movement in Cuba has crossed the
borders of the speech tolerated by the authorities and has broached
controversial topics ranging from racism and police harassment to the
dangerous questioning of Fidel and Raúl Castro's authority.

Increasingly, musicians, writers, audiovisual producers and plastic
artists seek to move the island's political "floor," despite the serious
consequences.

Artist Tania Bruguera, who spends most of her time outside Cuba, has
been barred from leaving the country since December for trying to stage
a street performance with an open microphone at Revolution Square.

Another protest rapper, Maikel Oksobo (El Dkano) was recently sent to
prison on charges of "pre-crime dangerousness." They join graffiti
artist Danilo Maldonado and writer Angel Santiesteban, autor of the book
of prison tales, The Children No One Wanted, which inspired Remón to
name his rap duet, created with Yudier Blanco Pacheco.

"Look how many crimes you have shelved/ this is my crime: to talk about
what you keep silent."

Unlike other artistic expressions, which need training and resources,
hip-hop was born in Cuba from the concerns of young people in troubled
social environments and economic hardship, such as Remón, whose house
burned down.

When he was barely 18, he was imprisoned for stealing clothing from a
store and sentenced to six years. There, he says, he honed his critical
spirit, which is now reflected in the lyrics of many of his songs.

"My record was dirtied by those who harass us; my prison record comes
from the prison of my education. Bayamenses, we'll see hope or steal
it," sings El Crítico in The Reality of Bayamo.

Remón, who has been writing protest songs since 2012, says that he plans
to sing in Havana and, later, on the international circuit.

"When I came out of prison, I was very happy to reunite with my family,"
says Remón, "but at this stage of negotiation between Cuba and the
United States, I plan to remain an activist in the struggle for
democracy and social justice in our country."

Source: El Crítico: Music as a subversive instrument in Cuba | The Miami
Herald The Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article9403688.html Continue reading
Are You One of Those Human Rights People? / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on December 15, 2014

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 9 December 2014 — Victims of
political illiteracy — as so aptly described by Dagoberto Valdés — many
people do not know the difference between being a member of an
opposition party, a civil society activist, an independent journalist or
a protester in their own right. All are usually accommodated under a
single definition: "Those human rights people."

I'm not going to give a history here — which needs to be written – of
the Cuban movement in defense of human rights. In the last thirty years,
several have specialized in researching, noting and reporting on
violations committed in the country of those rights enshrined in the
United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights issued on 10
December 1948.

Such has been the hostility of the Cuban authorities to these claims,
that in more than one act of repudiation voices have been heard to
vociferously scream the infamous slogan, "Down with Human Rights!" This
demonization has reached such an extreme that for many years the mere
allusion that you have a right to something has been seen as suspicious.

Who are those who dare to approach, to jump the barriers of fear?
Strangers who knock on the door, telephone calls from prison, old
friends who reappear. Anyone who has seen their rights violated and has
dared to go through their own Via Cruces of legal appeals, including the
useless visit to the Council of State's Office of Attention to the
Population, or the call to the prosecutor's new phone numbers when there
is no other recourse, then he or she seeks out one of those "human
rights people."

The moral force of this dreaded spectrum, typecast as mercenaries in the
pay of the empire, has been growing. I know of cases that are invoked as
a threat, "If you don't resolve this problem I'm going to go to those
human rights people, and see what you are going to do about it!" says
the lady who built an bedroom extension on her house that they now want
to make her demolish; or the worker in the process of retiring who
claims a few years of service are missing from his file; or those
convicted without proof, fined for no reason, the self-employed worker
whose license they are going to revoke, someone who suffers a
confiscation, a search; in short, all those being run over.

It is not enough to explain that others dedicate themselves to this
issue, including journalists, independent librarians, or the creators of
a political platform. In the end they don't understand and they say to
you, "I know you are one of those human rights people," and there is no
way to convince them that they should approach another specialist on
this issue. We end up hearing the case and helping the injured.

How would you react? Would you, perhaps, tell me that you aren't one of
those human rights people either?

Source: Are You One of Those Human Rights People? / 14ymedio, Reinaldo
Escobar | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/are-you-one-of-those-human-rights-people-14ymedio-reinaldo-escobar/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 9 December 2014 — Victims of political illiteracy — as so aptly described by Dagoberto Valdés — many people do not know the difference between being a member of an opposition party, a civil society activist, … Continue reading Continue reading
Activists Denounce Act of Repudiation Held During Child's Birthday Party
/ 14ymedio

Posted on November 30, 2014
This morning several activists reported an act of repudiation against
members of the Network of Community Journalists and Communicators in the
eastern city of Manzanillo.

According to reports by those to whom this newspaper had access,
Leonardo Cancio had organized the celebration in his home for the
birthday of a six-year old nephew and invited his colleagues from the
Network.

From the day before he could see around his home several women who the
activists say were convened by State Security to communicate to them
that they would not permit "a party for children organized by the
counter-revolution," and also they visited neighbors' houses to warn
them not to send their children to said activity.

From early hours a crowd, calculated at some three hundred individuals
by the members of the Network, surrounded Cancio's house in order to
impede access by the invitees. Nevertheless, some activists like Tania
de la Torre, accompanied by her daughter and granddaughter, managed to
arrive in advance. De la Torre explains that "the State Security agents
called Alexis and Julio" on seeing them come out of the house "pushed us
against the crowd" where they would have received blows and threats of
future reprisals.

In statements offered to 14ymedio by Martha Beatriz Roque, leader of
this group of independent journalists, the dissident remarked, "That is
the Cuba that the Spanish Chancellor Margallo comes to visit, where
human rights are trampled unceremoniously."

Translated by MLK

Source: Activists Denounce Act of Repudiation Held During Child's
Birthday Party / 14ymedio | Translating Cuba -
<http://translatingcuba.com/activists-denounce-act-of-repudiation-held-during-childs-birthday-party-14ymedio/> Continue reading
This morning several activists reported an act of repudiation against members of the Network of Community Journalists and Communicators in the eastern city of Manzanillo. According to reports by those to whom this newspaper had access, Leonardo Cancio had organized … Continue reading Continue reading
Activists denounce acts of repudiation during a child's birthday party /
14ymedio
Posted on November 25, 2014

14ymedio, Manzanillo, 22 November 2014 – This morning several activists
reported an act of repudiation against the members of the Community
Network of Journalists and Communicators in the eastern city of Manzanillo.

According to the testimony of those whom this newspaper had access,
Leonardo Cancio had organized a celebration in his home for a
six-year-old niece and invited his colleagues from the Network. From the
previous day, there were several women surrounding the house, whom the
activists said were summoned by State Security, to communicate that they
would not allow "a party for children organized by the
counterrevolution," and they also visited the homes of neighbors to warn
them not to send their children to such an activity.

Since the early hours a crowd, estimated by the Network to be some three
hundred people, surrounded Cancio's house to block access to the guests.
However, some activists like Tania de la Torre, accompanied her daughter
and granddaughter, had managed to arrive well in advance. De la Torre
explained that "the State Security agents names Alexis and Julio" on
seeing them leave the house, "pushed us into the crowd" where they were
beaten and threatened with future retaliation.

In statements given to 14ymedio by Martha Beatriz Roque, leader of this
group of independent journalists, the dissident commented that, "this is
the Cuba that the Spanish Foreign Minister Margallo is coming to visit,
where human rights are trampled without consideration."

Source: Activists denounce acts of repudiation during a child's birthday
party / 14ymedio | Translating Cuba -
<http://translatingcuba.com/activists-denounce-acts-of-repudiation-during-a-childs-birthday-party-14ymedio/> Continue reading
14ymedio, Manzanillo, 22 November 2014 – This morning several activists reported an act of repudiation against the members of the Community Network of Journalists and Communicators in the eastern city of Manzanillo. According to the testimony of those whom this newspaper … Continue reading Continue reading
Crisis Among Cuban Dissidents? / Ivan Garcia
Posted on October 19, 2014

The egos and grandstanding are projecting an uncertain outlook within
the peaceful opposition in Cuba. It's like a symphony orchestra without
a conductor, where musicians play their own tunes.

It's not for lack of political programs that Cuban activists cede space.
They are overflowing with ideas, projects and platforms aimed at
democratic change. Some are more consistent than others.

And although all platforms and political parties are entitled to have
their doctrines and programs, the reality in Cuba has demonstrated the
ineffectiveness of dissident theses.

Born deformed as a matter of genesis. They have no popular support.
There are ever fewer reports about them in the Florida media, the
Spanish press and the BBC.

Indeed, to be an opponent on the island is an act of unquestionable
value. Hanging in the air of the Republic is a dark law that sanctions
with up to twenty years behind bars those who oppose the regime or write
without permission.

But the repression, fierce or subtle, the lack of public space, has
transformed the dissidents into a group of coffee klatchers, without
support in their neighborhoods.

The evidence of their incompetence is that they're out of sync with the
average Cuban. Never before in the 55 years of the Castro brothers'
government, has the percentage the citizenry who disapprove been higher.

Any survey or conversation with people on the street serves to confirm
it. But political proselytizing has failed to organize that anger.

Their interests are different although they sound analogous. Carlos, a
carpenter, also wants democracy. He feels that the military autocracy
has hijacked the future of his family with unfulfilled promises. Be he
has no confidence in the discourse and narrative of the Cuban opposition.

In the old taxis in Havana, in the lines for bureaucratic paperwork, or
at a baseball stadium, people talk to you without hesitation about a
radical change to improve the economy and the precarious quality of life.

Some have read or heard about an opposition paper. But it does not
excite them. They see it as distant as a government minister. Although
the dissidents are neighbors on their same block, they have done little
for his district or municipality.

They are disconnected, like a cosmonaut from the Earth. The particular
world of dissent is to generate news, report meetings, make suggestions
or report police abuse, but they lack a basic foundation to become
legitimate actors for the future that is upon us.

The fate of the Island will be decided in the next five years. Perhaps
earlier. The great majority of those in European Union, the United
States and Latin America also want a democratic Cuba.

But the opposition's raw material to manage the future is tenuous. So
the strategy of the international community is to agree to a bizarre
transition from totalitarianism to authoritarianism with Castro
supporters. According to their perception, it is the least bad way.

On issues ranging from the repression to the shamelessness, the
opposition has degenerated into a "swallow" dissent who at the first
change ask for political asylum, preferably in the United States.

Those who remain are tough, but have adapted to the rules dictated by
the regime.

There is an unwritten law of what can be done within the magical realism
of autocracy.

The elderly rulers have gone from an anachronistic and authoritarian
totalitarian system to another with a veneer of modernity and more
flexible laws.

In 2014 you won't be sent to prison for writing articles critical of the
government. The most that will happen is a short detention in a police
dungeon, an act of repudiation, or screams on the public street from an
enraged assassin.

Depending on the circumstances, the dissidence is allowed to hold
discussions, forums and debates in private homes. For two years, just
for dissenting, Sonia Garro and her husband Ramón Alejandro Munoz, both
black, have been held in jail. Another dozen activists are also
prisoners or awaiting sentencing.

But the playing field is much wider today than before 2003. Since
February 2013, most opponents and independent journalists are allowed to
travel abroad.

A golden opportunity for more effective political lobbying. And they are
not taking advantage of it. Everything stays in sterile encounters.
Probably the most consistent program is led by Antonio G. Rodiles with
his Citizen Demand For Another Cuba.

(http://www.porotracuba.org/demanda-citizen-by-another-Cuba-2/).

It is reasonable, because it has a grip on reality and not in the
political science fiction of other groups with their outlandish appeals.
Rodiles uses a primary logic.

If we want Cuba to change, the government must ratify the United
Nations' international covenants signed in 2008. This is the gateway to
legalizing a future civil society where, in addition to freedoms and
human rights, there is political pluralism.

All opponents should support Rodiles and the Campaign for Another Cuba.
But egos and grandstanding prevails. Each dissident leader is surrounded
by a cloud of minions who defend their project as if it were an island
under siege.

In turn, they attack and discredit contrary proposals. The worst of
these brawls is that they don't generate any credible proposals. Just
bluster and platitudes. And behind them are the special services with
their strategy of division.

Unfortunately, the Lades in White, an organization whose street marches
in 2010 forced the government to release the 75 dissidents imprisoned in
the 2003 Black Spring, has been split by intrigues and intemperate
personalities.

This scrapping also extends to other dissident groups. More than an
internal crisis or one of leadership, the Cuban opposition suffers from
paralysis and the inability to join with the citizens.

When I read that some opposition groups claim to have the support of
thousands of followers, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. An event
that triggers a massive protest needs capable leaders Any event that
triggers a massive protest only need capable leaders. And that is what
we're lacking.

Iván García

Photo: Antonio G. Rodiles, Coyula Regina and Ivan Garcia in a panel of
independent journalism in Cuba organized by Estado de SATS in Havana on
September 4, 2014.

9 October 2014

Source: Crisis Among Cuban Dissidents? / Ivan Garcia | Translating Cuba
- http://translatingcuba.com/crisis-among-cuban-dissidents-ivan-garcia/ Continue reading
The egos and grandstanding are projecting an uncertain outlook within the peaceful opposition in Cuba. It’s like a symphony orchestra without a conductor, where musicians play their own tunes. It’s not for lack of political programs that Cuban activists cede … Continue reading Continue reading
Angel Yunier Remon, "El Critico" Imprisoned Cuban rap singer/political activist Angel Yunier "El Critico" Remon has been sentenced to 6 years in prison. El Critico and several family members had been in jail since March 26, 2013, after they were... Continue reading
Female Caricature / Yoani Sanchez
Posted on August 23, 2014

14yMEDIO, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 22 August 2014 – A woman on national
television said that her husband "helps" her with some household chores.
To many, the phrase may sound like the highest aspiration of every
woman. Another lady asserts that her husband behaves like a "Federated
man," an allusion to the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), which today is
celebrating its 54th anniversary. As for me, on this side of the screen,
I feel sorry for them in the face of such meekness. Instead of the
urgent demands they should mention, all I hear is this appreciation
directed to a power as manly as it is deaf.

It's not about "helping" to wash a plate or watch the kids, nor tiny
illusory gender quotas that hide so much discrimination like a slap. The
problem is that economic and political power remains mainly in masculine
hands. What percentage of car owners are women? How many acres of land
are owned or leased by women. How many Cuban ambassadors on missions
abroad wear skirts? Can anyone recite the number of men who request
paternity leave to take care of their newborns? How many young men are
stopped by the police each day to warn them they can't walk with a
tourist? Who mostly attends the parent meetings at the schools?

Please, don't try to "put us to sleep" with figures in the style of,
"65% of our cadres and 50% of our grassroots leaders are women." The
only thing this statistic means is that more responsibility falls on our
shoulders, which means neither a high decision-making level nor greater
rights. At least such a triumphalist phrase clarifies that there are
"grassroots leaders," because we know that decisions at the highest
level are made by men who grew up under the precepts that we women are
beautiful ornaments to have at hand…always and as long as we keep our
mouths shut.

I feel sorry for the docile and timid feminist movement that exists in
my country. Ashamed for those ladies with their ridiculous necklaces and
abundant makeup who appear in the official media to tell us that "the
Cuban woman has been the greatest ally of the Revolution." Words spoken
at the same moment when a company director is sexually harassing his
secretary, when a beaten woman can't get a restraining order against her
abusive husband, when a policeman tells the victim of a sexual assault,
"Well, with that skirt you're wearing…" and the government recruits
shock troops for an act of repudiation against the Ladies in White.

Women are the sector of the population that has the most reason to shout
their displeasure. Because half a century after the founding of the
caricature of an organization that is the Federation of Cuban Women, we
are neither more free, nor more powerful, nor even more independent.

Source: Female Caricature / Yoani Sanchez | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/female-caricature-yoani-sanchez/ Continue reading
14yMEDIO, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 22 August 2014 – A woman on national television said that her husband “helps” her with some household chores. To many, the phrase may sound like the highest aspiration of every woman. Another lady asserts that her … Continue reading Continue reading
DOCUMENT - FURTHER INFORMATION: CUBA: SENTENCING OF THREE BROTHERS POSTPONED

Further information on UA: 201/13 Index: AMR 25/003/2014 Cuba Date: 15 July 2014
URGENT ACTION
sentencing of three brothers postponed

The sentencing of three prisoners of conscience originally scheduled for 1 July has been postponed with no further information. They are prisoners of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally.
Twenty-two-year-old Alexeis Vargas Martín and his two 18-year-old twin brothers, Vianco Vargas Martín and Django Vargas Martín, were tried on 13 June at the Provincial Court in Santiago de Cuba, south-eastern Cuba, under the charges of public disorder of a continuous nature (alteración del orden público de carácter continuado).
The sentencing was scheduled for 1 July but was postponed with no indication of a new date. The mother of the three brothers visited the Court on 1 July in order to collect the sentencing documents but they were not finalised. According to local activists the authorities may try to convince the three brothers to give up their activism and this could be the reason behind the postponement.
Amnesty International believes that their arrest and detention is in response to their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and that it is intended to send a message of intimidation to other government critics, particularly other members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU). The three brothers are prisoners of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released.
Please write immediately in Spanish, English or your own language:
Calling on the authorities to release Alexeis Vargas Martín, Vianco Vargas Martín and Django Vargas Martín immediately and unconditionally, as they are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression;
Urging them to allow the free exercise of the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, without fear of reprisal.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 26 AUGUST 2014 TO:

Head of State and Government
Raúl Castro Ruz
Presidente de la República de Cuba
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +41 22 758 9431 (Cuba office in Geneva); +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Email: cuba@un.int (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Your Excellency
Attorney General
Dr. Darío Delgado Cura
Fiscal General de la República Fiscalía General de la República Amistad 552, e/Monte y Estrella Centro Habana
La Habana, Cuba
Salutation: Dear Attorney General
And copies to:
UNPACU
Calle 9 no. 10, entre E y G
Altamira, Santiago de Cuba
Cuba C.P. 90200
Email: leonardoramirez1973@gmail.com

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the second update of UA 201/13. Further information: http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR25/002/2014/en
URGENT ACTION
sentencing of three brothers postponed
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

According to information received by Amnesty International, the Public Prosecutor has asked for Alexeis Vargas Martín to be sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and three years for Vianco and Django Vargas Martín, who were 16 at the time of arrest. They were reportedly subjected to a summary trial, with none of the witnesses for the defence being allowed to testify. In political trials such as these it is typical for the judge to pass the sentences requested by the public prosecutor.
The brothers, from the city of Santiago de Cuba, are all members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU), a civil society organization which advocates for greater civil liberties in the country. Since their detention, Alexeis Vargas Martín is being held at Aguadores Prison in Santiago de Cuba province, while Vianco and Django Vargas Martín are held at the Mar Verde prison in the same province.
In the afternoon of 27 November 2012, Alexeis was returning to his house where a government-sanctioned demonstration (acto de repudio) was underway at the time. The house was surrounded by government supporters as his mother, Miraida Martín Calderín, a member of the Ladies in White protest group, was meeting with other members of the same organization. Alexeis was refused entry to his own home and was arrested by police and officials from the Department of State Security. On 2 December, Vianco and Django Vargas Martín – then only 16 years old – were also arrested when they went with friends to protest outside the Micro 9 police station in the city of Santiago de Cuba against the detention of their brother. In early July 2013, officials from the Department of State Security told the brothers’ family that they could be released on bail. The three brothers, however, have refused this as they reject the charges made by the police and insist on their innocence.
Miraida Martín Calderín was also arrested on 2 December 2012 as she protested outside the Tercera Unidad police station in the city of Santiago de Cuba and charged by police with public disorder (desorden público). She was held at the Mar Verde prison for women and released pending trial on 20 February 2013. Miraida Martín Calderín appeared in court alongside her sons on 13 June facing charges of public disorder and defaming institutions, heroes and martyrs (difamación de las instituciones, héroes y mártires). She may face a sentence of over two years to home arrests.
The right to a fair trial in Cuba is affected, especially in trials with political connotations, as courts and prosecutors are under government control. Cuba’s National Assembly elects the President, Vice-President and the other judges of the Peoples’ Supreme Court, as well as the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General. In addition, all courts are subordinate to the National Assembly and the Council of State, raising concerns over internationally recognised standards for fair trial and the right to trial by an independent and impartial tribunal.
Acts of repudiation (actos de repudio) are government-coordinated demonstrations, usually carried out in front of the homes of government critics, attended by government supporters, state officials and law enforcement agencies, aimed at harassing and intimidating opponents of the government, and are often used to prevent them from travelling to take part in activities. During an act of repudiation, political opponents and human rights activists are subjected to verbal and physical abuse by groups of people chanting pro-government slogans. Police are usually present but do not intervene to stop the assaults. Such incidents frequently involve the Rapid Response Brigades (Brigadas de Respuesta Rápida), a structure set up in 1991 and composed of Communist Party volunteers whose task is to deal with any sign of "counter-revolution". Local human rights activists and others believe these incidents are orchestrated by Cuba's security services to intimidate any opposition. Miraida Martin Calderin has told Amnesty International that members of the Rapid Response Brigade threw stones at her house during the act of repudiation on 27 November 2012.
Names: Alexeis Vargas Martín, Vianco Vargas Martín and Django Vargas Martín
Gender (m/f): m
Further information on UA: 201/13 Index: AMR 25/003/2014 Issue Date: 15 July 2014

Source: Document - Further information: Cuba: Sentencing of three brothers postponed | Amnesty International - http://amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/003/2014/en/af538db9-db11-4abf-ada9-3938b092b75d/amr250032014en.html Continue reading
Another UNEAC* Congress has come and gone and our reality remains immovable. The existential problems do not mutate; the intellectuals continue speaking sotto voce, watching their backs to make sure they are not overheard and then betrayed by their own colleagues, … Continue reading Continue reading
#CUBA El PP Jorge Ramirez esta HH desde el 23 pq no le dan medicamentos y atencion medica n prision Manacas VC — Librado Linares (@LibradoLinares) April 30, 2014 From Cuba, via Twitter, anti-Castro activist and former prisoner of conscience... Continue reading
Yoani Sanchez - Award-winning Cuban blogger

Cuba's Culture of Violence: A Dangerous Spiral
Posted: 04/20/2014 12:44 am EDT Updated: 04/20/2014 12:59 am EDT

A woman hits a child, who appears to be her son, on one corner. The
passersby who see it don't get involved. A hundred yards further on, two
men get in a fight because one stepped on the other's shoe. I arrive
home thinking about this aggressiveness, just under the skin, that I
feel in the street. To relax my tension I read the latest issue of the
magazine Coexistence, which just celebrated six years since its
founding. I find in its pages an article by Miriam Celaya, who
coincidentally addresses this "dangerous spiral" of blows, screams and
irritation that surrounds us.

Under the title "Notes on the anthropological origins of violence in
Cuba," the scathing analyst delves into the historical and cultural
antecedents of the phenomenon. Our own national trajectory, steeped in
"blood and fire," does not help much when it comes time to promote
attitudes like pacifism, harmony and reconciliation. From the horrors of
slavery during the colonial period, through the wars of independence
with their machete charges and their high-handed caudillos, up to the
violent events that also characterized the republic. A long list of
fury, blows, weapons and insults shaped our character and are
masterfully enumerated by the journalist in her text.

The process that started in 1959 deserves special mention, as it made
class hatred and the elimination of those who are different fundamental
pillars of the political discourse. Thus, even today, the greater part
of the anniversaries commemorated by the government refer to battles,
wars, deaths or "flagrant defeats inflicted" on the opponent. The cult
of anger is such that the official language itself no longer realizes
the rage it promotes and transmits.

But take care! Hatred cannot be "remotely controlled" once fomented.
When rancor is kindled against another country, it ends up also
validating the grudge against the neighbor whose wall adjoins ours.
Those of us who grew up in a society where the act of repudiation has
been justified as the "legitimate defense of a revolutionary people,"
may think that blows and screams are the way to relate to what we don't
understand. In this environment of violence, for us harmony becomes
synonymous with capitulation and peaceful coexistence is a trap that we
want to make "the enemy" to fall into.

19 April 2014

Follow Yoani Sanchez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/yoanifromcuba

Source: Cuba's Culture of Violence: A Dangerous Spiral | Yoani Sanchez -
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yoani-sanchez/cubas-culture-of-violence_b_5180610.html Continue reading
A woman hits a child, who appears to be her son, on one corner. The passersby who see it don’t get involved. A hundred yards further on, two men get in a fight because one stepped on the other’s shoe. … Continue reading Continue reading
The Documentary "Worm" Goes Undercover on the Island / Manuel Guerra Perez
Posted on March 14, 2014

In digital format and DVD media, it is alarming part of the population
that says it is unaware of the siege of the dissidents.

HAVANA, Cuba – The documentary "Gusano" (Worm), produced by Estado de
Sats, is being shared hand-to-hand on DVD and digitally and has
generated many reactions among people who are not dissidents – at least
openly – in the capital.

The documentary is about the acts of repudiation in Cuba and mainly what
happened last December 10-11 outside the Estado de Sats (State of Sats)
site, where an event was being held: the First International Meeting on
the United Nations Human Rights Covenants. The video has been shared
with dissimilar people across the capital regardless of their political
persuasion.

The audiovisual shows how the residence of Antonio Rodiles, director of
the independent project, is besieged in an act of repudiation organized
by the government, where the Ministry of Education (children and
adolescents) participates, along with the Ministry of Culture, the Young
Communist Union, the National Revolutionary Police and agents from the
Department of State Security, all with the aim of neutralizing the
event. In the film we see Rodiles being beaten and the arrests of other
participants in the independent meeting held by the Cuban dissidence.

"The documentary has been taken to the streets to denounce the
government, and show abuses and violations of international rules
committed, like using children for repressive acts," said Ailer
Gonzales, Rodiles's wife and one of the organizers. In the street,
Cubanet collected some opinions:

"I didn't know that this happened in this country, I still don't
understand it," said Erick Chirino, 24.

"The repression used to block this activity is typical of a
dictatorship," said Yordanis Barceló Silva, 36.

State of Sats is an independent project where artists and dissident
thinkers come together on the island, and has been repeatedly besieged
by the State Security (the political police). The headquarters is
located in the town of Playa in the Cuban capital.

Cubanet, 4 March 2014, Manuel Guerra Pérez

Source: The Documentary "Worm" Goes Undercover on the Island / Manuel
Guerra Perez | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-documentary-worm-goes-undercover-on-the-island-manuel-guerra-perez/ Continue reading
In digital format and DVD media, it is alarming part of the population that says it is unaware of the siege of the dissidents. HAVANA, Cuba – The documentary “Gusano” (Worm), produced by Estado de Sats, is being shared hand-to-hand … Continue reading Continue reading
Vladimir Morera Bacallao On hunger strike for almost two months, Cuban political prisoner Vladimir Morera Bacallao on Saturday was transferred to the provincial hospital in Villa Clara, his sister told Radio Marti. Morera, an independent trade unionist, in November was... Continue reading
CUBANET – The house of opposition leader Jorge Luis García (Antúnez) has just been sacked this morning after State Security foreces (political police) carried off him and his wife, Iris Tamara Perez, as well as the noted activist’s brother Loreto … Continue reading Continue reading
Vladimir Morera Bacallao Cuban independent trade unionist Vladimir Morea Bacallao in November was sentenced to eight years in prison after a court found him guilty of "public disorder," "assault," "disrespect" and "injuries," each a supposed crime the regime regularly uses... Continue reading
Posted on Thursday, 12.26.13

Man who shouted "Down with communism!" during pope's visit to Cuba is
now in Chattanooga
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
JTAMAYO@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM

Andrés Carrión Alvarez says he knew it would be up to him to shatter the
image of peace and order clamped on Cuba by government security agents
when then Pope Benedict XVI said Mass last year in Santiago de Cuba.

"I could not allow the international news media there to think
everything was OK," said Carrión, the man seen in a memorable video
shouting "Down with communism!" before the Mass and then being pummeled
and hauled away by plainclothes agents.

Carrión, 41, and his wife, physician Ariuska Galán, 38, received U.S.
refugee visas and arrived Nov. 21 in Chattanooga, Tenn., where they have
been filling out papers for work permits, Social Security numbers and
medical checkups.

They had some initial concerns about the crime-ridden and racist
capitalist society that Cuba's official news media always portrays, but
found the city to be safe. Americans smile a lot, Carrión said, and even
say "Excuse me" when they bump into people.

"You are even treated very well in the shops, not at all like in Cuba,"
he said. His Facebook page shows him in gloves and hat pulled way down
over his ears, hugging a store Santa Claus and pointing at a reindeer in
a shop window.

"But most of all I am breathing freedom, an incredible sense of
freedom," Carrion told El Nuevo Herald in his first interview since
leaving Cuba.

That was not what he was breathing in Cuba after his notorious outburst
minutes before Benedict began the Mass in Santiago on March 26, 2012, on
the first leg of a three-day visit to Cuba, the first papal tour of the
communist-ruled nation since John Paul II visited in 1998.

Government officials threatened to kill him, fired his wife from a
public clinic and evicted them from their apartment above the clinic.
Two State Security infiltrators tried to get close to him. And an
Interior Ministry car seemed to try to run him over, he said.

Carrión said he was not active in dissident groups before his outburst.
A physical therapist who lived with his wife quietly in Santiago, Cuba's
second-largest city, he had been dismissed from his job as part of a
government belt-tightening, and was unemployed.

"I was a normal person, with some political worries, but then little by
little came an increase in my political consciousness," he said in a
telephone interview.

He realized he would have the perfect opportunity to attack the
government publicly when it was announced that Benedict would say Mass
in Santiago — an event sure to be attended by the international news
media and Cuba's ruling elites, but not by dissidents.

Carrión was right. Following past procedures, police detained hundreds
of dissidents and blocked their phones during Benedict's visit to make
sure they could not get anywhere near the pope in Santiago and Havana.

"I took advantage of that moment because I was a person unknown in the
political world," he said. "If not, I could not have reached that spot."

Carrión said he got cold feet on the morning of March 26 and almost
abandoned his plan. But he got to the Antonio Maceo Revolution Plaza at
11 a.m. and found a spot by the innermost security railing long before
Benedict's late-afternoon Mass.

Security was tight but not overwhelming. Maybe the guards "did not
believe that someone would have the audacity to do something so
dangerous," he said. On a previous visit to the plaza, he said, he saw
snipers posted on nearby buildings.

The pope had not arrived at the plaza when someone on the altar asked
for a minute of silence for something — Carrión was so nervous he cannot
remember what — so he slipped past the security railing and ran toward
the altar shouting at the top of his lungs.

Carrión recalled shouting "Down with communism" and "Down with the
Castro dictatorship," as well as "Cubans are not free. Don't be fooled.
We are slaves."

Television videos shows him being pummeled by several government
sympathizers, including a man wearing a Cuban Red Cross vest and
carrying a folded stretcher, before plainclothes security agents carried
him out of the cameras' view.

One security officer then cuffed him tightly, threw him into an Interior
Ministry car and told him the outburst "was going to cost me my life,"
Carrión said. "He told me, 'I myself will shoot you in the head' . . . I
did not think I was going to get out alive."

But his captors' demeanor changed abruptly after he was taken to
Versailles, a notorious State Security interrogation center in Santiago,
and a senior official arrived to take over his case.

Guards offered him food, got him a chair and asked whether he was in
good general health, he said. They ran alcohol and drug tests. They
called in a psychiatrist and told him "the revolution was benevolent."

They clearly did not want to give him reason to complain about his
treatment after he was released, Carrión said.

He was charged with public disorder but never tried, and was freed after
18 days at Versailles and after signing a promise not to give media
interviews and not to utter "hurtful words" about Cuban leaders. He
promptly violated all the promises.

When he told the taxi driver that took him home from Versailles why he
had been at the State Security center, he was told the ride was free.
His neighbors were clearly scared of being seen with him, Carrión said,
but offered secret support.

"They sent me little notes at night, or they visited me at home at
night," he said. They asked him to let them know if he ever needed
anything like money or food, he added, "but always through another
person, someone trusted, not in person."

Cuba's security services, meanwhile, continued to breathe heavily down
his neck.

Carrión said that while he was in Versailles, Santiago lawyer and
"dissident" Ernesto Vera urged Galán to appoint him as Carrión's
exclusive representative and leave all public comments to him. She
refused, and the dissident Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) later said it
had solid proof that Vera is a State Security collaborator. Vera denies
the allegation.

As Carrión crossed a Santiago street with a friend, a car from the
Ministry of Interior, in charge of State Security, seemed to go out of
its way to run them down, he said. His wife was followed. State Security
agents asked neighbors for the name of his dentist.

Soon enough, a government-organized mob of about 500 people turned up
outside their apartment for an "act of repudiation" against the couple.
Galán was fired the next day, and the couple was ordered to vacate the
government-owned apartment.

Carrión and Galán, who have no children, moved to her parents' home in
Palma Soriano, 18 miles northwest of Santiago. The local State Security
agents tried to poison the well there as well.

"On the very day that we arrived, the State Security told [Palma
residents] that one of the worst terrorists had arrived there," Carrión
said. At first, the residents "would not even say hello to me, but
little by little they realized that I was not a monster."

He joined UNPACU and traveled to Havana several times to tell his story
to the U.S., Canadian, Spanish and other diplomatic missions in meetings
arranged by Elizardo Sanchez, head of the Cuban Commission for Human
Rights and National Reconciliation.

But Carrión's life was growing increasingly difficult.

An UNPACU member suspected of being a State Security collaborator kept
turning up at his house and asking about any planned protests. Galán
sensed she was watched almost everywhere she went.

Both were unemployed, but were leery of engaging in the semi-legal
schemes most Cubans regularly use to make ends meet, knowing that State
Security could throw them in prison for a "common crime" with the
slightest excuse.

"My family was experiencing hunger," Carrión said.

The couple decided to apply for political asylum in the United States,
and got it in two months. U.S. authorities resettled them in Chattanooga.

Living in exile is tough, and so is learning English, Carrión said. He
and his wife have yet to decide what they will do or where they will
settle eventually, but have been in touch with some of the anti-Castro
groups in Miami to figure out where he fits in.

"The only thing I know," he said, "is that I will not stop working for
the freedom of my country.

Source: Man who shouted "Down with communism!" during pope's visit to
Cuba is now in Chattanooga - Cuba - MiamiHerald.com -
http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/12/26/3838907/man-who-shouted-down-with-communism.html#storylink=misearch Continue reading
Cuba Without Rights on Human Rights Day / Luis Felipe Rojas
Posted on December 11, 2013

The Cuban government has cracked down hard on dissidents who dared to go
out on December 10th, the day when the world celebrated Human Rights
Day, according to sources from the island who have posted on the social
networks.

In Baracoa, Jorge Feria Jardinez and Roneidis Leyva Salas, activists
with the Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO) and the John Paul the 2nd
Movement, were arrested while distributing leaflets about this issue,
said Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, ADO Coordinator, in his Twitter account
(@ Lobainacuba).

On the same social network, Lobaina reported arrests, beatings, and acts
of repudiation in locations around Buenaventura, with the detention of
Nelson Avila Almaguer, Ramón Aguilera, Jorge Carmenate, and Nirma Peña,
all four with ADO. He added that activists were stationed in front of
the town's police station demanding the release of their brothers in the
cause. In the same province, but in the village of Velazco in the
municipality of Gibara, paramilitary mobs in coordination with State
Security and the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) attacked the house
of activist Damaris García, fired tear gas, and beat and arrested
peaceful activists.

Among those arrested with Damaris were Marta Alina Rodríguez Pérez,
Walfrido Pérez García and Gelasio Pupo Verdecia, all from the same
opposition alliance.

In the capital arrests occurred when activists, artists, and other
members of the independent civil society tried to reach the headquarters
of the Estado de Sats Project, led by Antonio Rodiles. According to the
twitter account of Ailer María (@ ailermaria), his wife and arts
coordinator of the project, they had learned of more than a dozen
arrests that occurred starting on December 9th when participants in the
1st International Conference on Human Rights tried to approach the site.
The venue was harassed by an act of repudiation, a military siege, and a
"revolutionary act" by the well-known orchestra "Arnaldo y su talisman,"
according to reports arriving from Havana. Other groups suffered
persecution, harassment, and abuse at their homes.

Bertah Soler, leader of the Ladies in White and 2005 Sakharov Prize
winner, was arrested along with her husband, Angel Moya Acosta, when she
had summoned her members and the entire civil society to march and
gather on the corner of 23rd and L, across from the Coppelia ice cream
parlor. Those who made it were violently arrested and transported to
remote places; Soler was taken to the village of Tarara.

On the morning of December 10th, President Raul Castro attended the
funeral of South African president Nelson Mandela. He was greeted with
an unanticipated "handshake" by U.S. President Barack Obama, who said in
his speech: "There are leaders who support Mandela and do not tolerate
dissent," a clear allusion to the Cuban dictator and to the President of
Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, also present at the gathering.

Translated by Tomás A.

11 December 2013

Source: "Cuba Without Rights on Human Rights Day / Luis Felipe Rojas |
Translating Cuba" -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-without-rights-on-human-rights-day-luis-felipe-rojas/ Continue reading
Camilo Ernesto Olivera, a member of the team of Estado de SATS, was stopped as he left his home on Dec. 7. Most alarming is how these things are happening in Cuba: going from one moment to another in a state … Continue reading Continue reading
The Cuban government has cracked down hard on dissidents who dared to go out on December 10th, the day when the world celebrated Human Rights Day, according to sources from the island who have posted on the social networks. In … Continue reading Continue reading
The following video shows the violent arrests of Ladies in White and the scene in front of Estado de SATS, with a short interview of Antonio Rodiles inside the conference. 11 December 2013 Continue reading