Wednesday, February 22, 2017 | 10:38 AM
WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Cuban authorities have denied a visa
to the head of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, to
travel to the communist-ruled island to receive a prize from a dissident
organisation, he said Wednesday.
Almagro had been invited to receive a prize named for dissident Oswaldo
Paya, who died in 2012 in a car crash under mysterious circumstances.
"My request for a visa for the official OAS passport was denied by the
Cuban consulate in Washington," Almagro said in a letter to Paya's
daughter Rosa Maria, who organised the ceremony to confer the prize.
Almagro said he was informed by Cuban consular authorities that he would
be denied a visa even if he travelled on his Uruguayan diplomatic passport.
The Cubans conveyed to a representative of Almagro that they regarded
the motive of his visit an "unacceptable provocation," and expressed
"astonishment" at the OAS's involvement in what they deemed anti-Cuban
activities, he said.
Almagro said he asked that the decision be reversed, arguing that his
trip to Cuba was no different from events he had participated in other
countries of the region.
Two other political figures who wanted to travel to Cuba for the award
ceremony — Mexico's former president Felipe Calderon and former Chilean
education minister Mariana Aylwin — said they also had been denied visas.
Cuba was suspended from the OAS in 1962 at the height of the Cold War,
and has declined to return despite having been readmitted in 2009.
Since Cuba's suspension, the only OAS secretary general to visit the
island was Jose Miguel Insulza, a Chilean who attended a Latin American
summit in Havana in 2014.
Source: OAS chief denied visa to visit Cuba - News - JamaicaObserver.com
- http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/OAS-chief-denied-visa-to-visit-Cuba Continue reading
Cuba stoked tensions across Latin America on Tuesday by blocking a
former Chilean minister and one of Mexico's ex-presidents from traveling
to the island to attend an award ceremony hosted by political dissidents.
Chile said it was recalling its ambassador to Cuba for consultation and
asking the Cuban government why Mariana Aylwin, a former education
minister and daughter of an ex-president, was blocked from entering Cuba
on Monday night.
Aylwin was traveling to the island to receive a prize on behalf of her
father. The event, planned for Wednesday, was organized by the Latin
American Network of Youth for Democracy, a group opposed to the
Cuba opposes anything that legitimizes dissidents, which it claims are
funded by U.S. interests. The government is bracing for a tougher U.S.
approach to the island under President Donald Trump.
"Exercising the right (to travel between nations) should not be
interfered with, especially given that Chile has recognized the feats of
various figures in Cuban history and politics," Chile's Foreign
Relations Ministry said in a statement.
Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon tweeted on Tuesday that Cuban
immigration prevented him from boarding a flight from Mexico City to
Havana to attend the same meeting.
Aylwin was prevented from checking in to her flight in Chile's capital,
Santiago, apparently at the request of the Cuban authorities, she told
journalists on Tuesday.
Calderon, from Mexico's conservative National Action Party, ruled Mexico
from 2006 to 2012 and improved relations with Cuba, which had been
severely tested by his predecessor.
Mexico's foreign ministry said on its Twitter account that it
"regretted" Cuba's decision to block Calderon's entry.
The group, known as JuventudLAC, has also invited Luis Almagro, the head
of the Organization of American States, which suspended Cuba in 1962 for
being Communist. It agreed in 2009 to lift the ruling, but Cuba declined
to rejoin the Washington-based group, which it deems an instrument of
its former Cold War foe the United States.
"The behavior of the Cuban government is deeply gross, vulgar and rude,"
Rosa Maria Paya, the group's leader and daughter of dissident Oswaldo
Paya, who died in 2012, told Chilean media.
"We have all received information that (invited guests) are receiving
pressure from the Cuban government."
Mariana Aylwin is seen as an ideological leader of the most conservative
segment of Chile's center-left ruling coalition. Her father was Chile's
first democratically elected president after the 1973 to 1990
dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
(Reporting by Gram Slattery in Santiago; Additional reporting by Sarah
Marsh in Havana; Editing by James Dalgleish and Richard Chang)
Source: Cuba blocks Chilean, Mexican former officials from entry |
Reuters - http://www.reuters.com/article/us-chile-cuba-idUSKBN1602IB Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 19 February 2017 — Some fifty Ladies in White were
detained this Sunday on the Island, according to members of that
Former political prisoner and regime opponent Angel Moya told 14ymedio
by phone that Berta Soler had been arrested by members of a State
Security operation and the police surrounding her Lawton house. The
incident happened shortly after three in the afternoon on Sunday, when
Soler left the movement's site in the company of the Lady in White
Moya added that in Havana the Ladies in White Yordanka Santana and Norma
Cruz were "abandoned to their fate*" on the ExpoCuba and Cotorro
highways respectively, after being released. According to the same
source, as of 6:00 in the evening 23 Ladies in White had been arrested
in the capital, although that number could be increased by some "who
still haven't called in."
Moya also reported on a Lady in White detained in Bayamo and eight in
Palma Soriano, while in Matanzas there were 22. In that locality Leticia
Ramos and Marisol Fernandez were arrested twice in a single day and he
said that the whereabouts of both women was still unknown.
The opponent also reported that from the province of Ciego te Avila
Lucia Lopez complained that she was "beaten at the time of her arrest"
by State Security agents and "stripped of her blouse and bra before
being released," in a "clear act of indignity," said Moya.
Meanwhile, Iván Hernández Carrillo reported from his Twitter account of
the arrest in the city of Cárdenas of Odalis Hernandez, Hortensia
Alfonso, Cira de la Vega and Mercedes de la Guardia. Likewise, from
Columbus the activist denounced the arrest of his mother Asunción
Carrillo and Caridad Burunate when they were on their way to the church.
At two o'clock on Sunday afternoon, minutes before being detained, the
leader of the Ladies in White women's movement, Berta Soler, informed
the media that there were already more than twenty detained in Havana to
"prevent them from reaching the site." She mentioned that two of them
were "released on the road to Pinar del Rio*," despite living in the
capital. "Since last Wednesday morning there has been a constant [State
Security and Police] operation outside," the organization's headquarters.
She also mentioned the particular case of Berta Lucrecia Martínez, who
was detained at noon hours after a solo protest in Calabazar
Park. According to the information that Soler has received, the activist
stood for "more than 35 minutes" with a poster regarding Human Rights
and shouting anti-government slogans.
Lucrecia Martinez is one of the Ladies in White who has repeatedly been
prevented from attending Sunday Mass or reaching the headquarters of his
organization. Until the moment of not knowing the place to where it was
led by the police patrol that stopped it.
Calabazar park is a very busy wifi area. As reported to this newspaper
by the activist Agustín López Canino, many people "filmed and
photographed the moment of protest."
Last year, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National
Reconciliation (CCDHRN) documented a total of 9,940 arbitrary
detentions, a figure that "places the Government of Cuba in first place
in all of Latin America" at the head of such arrests, according to a
report by the independent organization.
*Translator's note: Cuban police/State Security often arrest dissidents
and drive them a long way outside the city where they are arrested and
then put them out of the car in the "middle of nowhere," to find their
own way home.
Source: Cuba's Ladies In White Report 50 Arrests This Sunday / 14ymedio
– Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cubas-ladies-in-white-report-50-arrests-this-sunday-14ymedio/ Continue reading
February 14, 2017
By Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — On February 7th, the Cuban Communist Party's (PCC) press
published several articles about the reporting behavior of young people
belonging to the government's journalism sector. Before that, on January
20th, a comment made by Yeilen Delgado Calvo in Juventud Rebelde under
the heading "I declare myself a dissident" caught a lot of attention.
It's clear why the aged leadership is concerned with the behavior of
their inevitable successors.
Basically, the cited journalist is referring to a friend, annoyed
because after criticizing problems which were never specified in a
direct and clear manner, he was called a dissident. His response, always
using the same lingo and characteristic allegories of the Cuban
"communist" press, can be summarized as the following:
"I know he is a dissident of many things: of wrong-doings, sloppiness,
conformity, people who talk a lot about the Homeland but don't hold this
within their hearts."
"The question isn't about being a dissident, but in what being a
"We have let ourselves get carried away with the word "dissident" by
those who know very little about principles and patriotism. A dissident
is somebody who dissents, to dissent is to separate yourself from the
mainstream doctrine, belief or behavior."
"I am a dissident of stagnation, of demagogy, of complacent people, as
well as of hypocrites, of those who hide information, of empty speeches,
of a lack of effort, of scarce commitment, of inertia…"
What do you make of that sentence? It's hard not to be in favor of this
in theory, but as Marx and Lenin hammered home hard, the issue has to be
resolved in practice, the criterion of truth.
That's why Jesus Arencibia Lorenzo's review about an intervention made
before February 7th, where renowned reporters from Latin America's
left-wing press attended, Stella Calloni and Alberto Salcedo Ramos, was
surprising. The former was an Argentinian, too closely linked to the
Cuban government to say anything interesting. That wasn't the case with
the Colombian though who ended up moving away from what Yeilen labeled
"common doctrine, belief or behavior", talking about his and our country."
Among other things, repeated by Arencibia Lorenzo in Juventud Rebelde on
February 7th, Salcedo said:
"I'm a journalist because I like to listen and tell stories. Because I
like to know what is going on beyond my nose. Because it's extremely
hard for me to keep quiet. Because I like to leave memories behind, a
testimony which can help us understand what we're like, where we come
from, why we are the way we are."
"I believe that this profession has been wasting a lot of time trying to
make affirmations. It's always seemed very suspicious to me that
philosophers doubt and journalists affirm."
"I like journalists who go out looking for the truth, but I don't trust
those who believe they have found it."
"It's about writing stories, chronicles, articles, to place the news
within a context, within a reason of why it's happening, that goes
beyond the basic facts."
Dealing with the country's current reality, it can be concluded: no
philosophical truths which have been placed in doubt for some time now,
zero phrasing and a lot of concrete, raw reality, just like we are
The Colombian journalist, used to risking his life in an extreme
country, ended by saying: "And I believe that no tricks, from any
ideology, are good."
It seems that there is a call for dissidence within the PCC press, but
those who really practice this aren't rubbing their hands together just
yet because in Cuba, from time to time, a lot of noise is made but
that's all it is, noise.
It is simply needed to cool the pressure cooker because real dissidents
within the world of Cuban information are increasing everyday, including
irreverent young people who are working for government media, some of
whom are made an example of and punished for their daring behavior.
For now, signing off this present article, I will also take what was
written in Juventud Rebelde as my own: I also declare myself a dissident.
Vicente Morin Aguado: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Official Journalism in Cuba: Empty Nutshells - Havana Times.org
- http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=123647 Continue reading
/ EFE, 14ymedio
EFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 1 Februday 2017 — The global
organization Amnesty International on Tuesday called for the "immediate
and unconditional" release of Cuban dissident Eduardo Cardet, who has
been detained for two months accused of the crime of assault.
Amnesty International believes that Cardet, the national coordinator of
the illegal Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), is a prisoner of
conscience who is imprisoned "solely for the peaceful exercise of his
right to freedom of expression," according to a statement EFE had access to.
He also says that Cardet was violently arrested when he returned from
visiting his mother on November 30, five days after Fidel Castro's
death, and since then has been held in a prison in the eastern province
Cardet, according to his wife, Yaimaris Vecino, cited by Amnesty
International, is accused of attacking an agent of the authority, so
that the prosecution could seek a three-year prison sentence.
In the middle of this month, Amnesty International also called for the
release of Cuban dissident graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El
Sexto (The Sixth), also considered a prisoner of conscience who was
imprisoned without trial in the high security Combinado del Este in Havana.
El Sexto was released without charge on January 21 after spending nearly
two months in prison for having written the phrase "He's gone" on a wall
of the Habana Libre hotel in the capital on November 26, 2016, after the
death of Fidel Castro.
Source: Amnesty International Calls For Release Of Cuban Opponent
Eduardo Cardet / EFE, 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/amnesty-international-calls-for-release-of-cuban-opponent-eduardo-cardet-efe-14ymedio/ Continue reading
DEMAND RELEASE OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER
Five days after Fidel Castro's death, human rights defender Eduardo
Cardet was detained and has since been held in provisional detention in
Holguín, south-east Cuba.
He is a prisoner of conscience who must be released immediately and
Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción, leader of the Christian Liberation
Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación,
MCL) since 2014 was arrested in Holguín on 30 November 2016, five days
after the death of the former leader of
Cuba, Fidel Castro. Eduardo Cardet has spent two months in the
provisional prison (prisión provisional) of Holguín.
He has been refused bail on three occasions, according to his wife.
According to five witnesses who spoke to Amnesty International by
telephone on the condition of anonymity,
Eduardo Cardet was pushed off his bicycle and violently detained in the
early evening of 30 November by at least
four plain clothed and one uniformed police officer as he returned home
after visiting his mother. It is not clear on
what grounds Eduardo Cardet was initially detained. According to his
wife, who witnessed her husband's detention
with their two children, Eduardo Cardet is charged with attacking an
official of the state (atentado). This offence is
covered under Article 142.1 of the Criminal Code. One officer is
alleging that Eduardo Cardet pushed him during
his arrest. All witnesses who spoke with Amnesty International counter
this allegation, and state that Eduardo
Cardet was quickly and violently restrained by plain clothed officials,
placed in handcuffs, and beaten, and had no
opportunity for self-defence. The witnesses believe that Eduardo Cardet
was arrested for his beliefs and ideas.
Prior to his arrest, Eduardo Cardet had given interviews published in
international media in which he had been
critical of the Cuban government. In an interview with Madrid-based
radio station esRadio, aired two days before
his arrest, he described the mourning in Cuba following the death of
Fidel Castro as imposed, and said: "Castro
was a very controversial man, very much hated and rejected by our
people". According to the MCL's website,
Eduardo Cardet's lawyer informed the family on 27 January that the
Public Prosecutor is seeking three years of
Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:
- Calling on the authorities to release Dr. Eduardo Cardet immediately
and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of
conscience, imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to
freedom of expression;
- Calling on them to guarantee the peaceful right to freedom of
expression, assembly and association including
for dissident, opponent or activist voices and to repeal all legislation
which unduly limits these rights;
- Urging them to ensure that, pending his release, he is provided with
any medical care he may require; that he is
not tortured or otherwise ill-treated; and that he is granted regular
access to family and lawyers of his choosing.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 14 MARCH 2017 TO:
President of the Republic
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: email@example.com (c/o Cuban Mission
Salutation: Your Excellency
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/
Señor Fiscal General
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country
https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr25/5601/2017/en/ Continue reading
14ymedio, 28 January 2017 – On the 164th anniversary of the birth of
José Martí, the day was marked by house arrests of several activists and
the arrest of the regime opponent Manuel Cuesta Morúa. The most intense
operation has been against those involved in a global action to demand
the release of political prisoners and demand access to the internet.
The initiative is promoted with the slogan "Occupy Your WiFi Point,"
urging Cubans to use the wireless internet connection areas as spaces to
claim greater freedoms. One of the main promoters of the campaign,
scientist Oscar Casanella, was warned by the police early in the day
that they would not let him leave his house.
Opposition leader Manuel Cuesta Morúa, a member of the Democratic Action
Roundtable (MUAD), was arrested on Saturday afternoon outside the home
of an activist from the organization at Neptuno and San Francisco, in
Central Havana, as reported to this newspaper by Ileana Hernandez
program director Lens Cubano .
Hernandez said that the arrest occurred around 4:30 in the afternoon
when Cuesta Morúa interceded for her before two men in civilian clothes
who were preventing her from accessing the house of dissident Aída
Valdés Santana, a member of MUAD.
"They threw him on the ground and called a police patrol to take him
away," Hernandez says.
"It was not political at all what was going to happen here, we were just
going to eat," says the activist.
A witness later spotted Cuesta Morúa when he was transferred to the
police car on San Lázaro Avenue. This newspaper called the official
telephone number where Cubans can inquire about people arrested, but was
told that Cuesta Morua is not registered.
The leader of the Somos+ (We Are More) Movement, Eliécer Ávila,
denounced that fact that as of Saturday morning three members of State
Security had warned him that they would not allow him to leave his
house. "They have been been in the hallway to the outside to prevent us
from going to the street," the activist said.
"They told me that although they had no confirmation that there was
going to be a public event, they were here for safety," Ávila
explains. Officers told him that this January 28 was "a very important
day for the Revolution" and they would not allow "provocations."
A similar situation was experienced by Luis Alberto Mariño, known as
Tito, a member of the initiative Cuba Decides and one of the most
visible faces of the call for civic action this January 28.
"Yesterday an officer came to warn me that I could not go out, and he is
now out there and says if I go out he will arrest me," he told 14ymedio.
Activist Lia Villares also reported that "two state security agents on a
motorcycle" visited her to threaten her and they remained "on guard" to
prevent her from leaving her home in Vedado.
From Matanzas the ex-prisioner of the Black Spring, Iván Hernández
Carrillo, reported the arrest of regime opponents Sayli Navarro, Félix
Navarro and Francisco Rangel, who also participated in the campaign.
In Palmarito del Cauto the coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba
(Unpacu), Jorge Cervantes García, was arrested according to a report in
the Twitter account of the dissident Carlos Amel Oliva.
Last year, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National
Reconciliation (CCDHRN) documented a total of 9,940 arbitrary arrests
throughout the country. A figure that "puts the Government of Cuba in
first place in all of Latin America," said the report of the independent
Source: Jose Marti's Birthday Is Marked By House Arrests / 14ymedio –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/jose-martis-birthday-is-marked-by-house-arrests-14ymedio/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Miami, 25 January 2017 — The former political prisoner Arturo
Perez de Alejo, who was part of the Group of 75, died Wednesday in Miami
at 66, as reported by MartíNoticias .
Pérez Alejo was born in Manicaragua, in the then province of Las Villas,
on 23 May 1951 to a peasant family.
During the nineties, in the middle of the Special Period, he began his
dissident activity. He participated actively in the Democratic Action
Movement, the Nationalist Action Party and the Independent Democratic Front.
In addition, he founded the Escambray Independent Organization For The
Defense Of Human Rights, of which he held the presidency, and he was
noted for his dissemination of the Varela Project, a civic initiative
promoted by the late Oswaldo Payá to demand more liberties in the island.
In 2003 he was imprisoned in the 2003 repressive wave known as the Black
Spring. He was imprisoned for five years, and the conditions of his
imprisonment greatly undermined his health.
During his imprisonment he was recognized as a prisoner of conscience by
Amnesty International. In June 2010, through the efforts of the Catholic
Church, he was released and exiled to Spain.
He later moved to Miami, where he resided until his death. He spent his
last years closely linked to the work of organizations of the Cuban exile.
Source: Former Political Prisoner Arturo Pérez De Alejo Dies / 14ymedio
– Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/former-political-prisoner-arturo-perez-de-alejo-dies-14ymedio/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 23 January 2017 — The leader of the
Dignity Movement, Belkis Cantillo, who was arrested last Thursday was
released Monday afternoon, as confirmed to 14ymedio by Moraima Diaz, an
activist of the same movement.
Shortly after being released, in a telephone conversation with this
newspaper, Cantillo explained that she was given a warning letter that
he refused to sign.
According to the activist, the document stated that she could not "meet
with anyone" or be visited by "counterrevolutionaries." The police also
prevented her from carrying out "public demonstrations."
About her days in custody, she says that they removed the mattress and
that she was "sleeping on the cement" which caused an "increase of the
pain she already suffered due to renal colic." The activist reports
that, after insisting, she was visited by a lawyer.
After her release she was summoned to appear next Saturday before the
offices of the State Security in the municipality Julio A. Mella.
According to Moraima Díaz, members of the Dignity Movement cannot leave
their homes without State Security agents "persecuting them."
"We have agents at every corner of the house. It is a police siege to
which we are subjected," she adds.
"We have been told that if we leave the house, our families will be the
ones who will pay the consequences," she says from Palmarito de Cauto, a
town in the province of Santiago de Cuba.
"The situation here is extreme. The police have taken the town so that
there are no dissident demonstrations," says the activist.
The women of the Dignity Movement have experienced days of intense
repression since they created their movement in the Sanctuary of the
Virgin of Charity of Cobre on Saturday, January 14. They call for, among
other things, immediate and unconditional amnesty for all those who
today are serving prison sentences for "pre-criminal dangerousness" and
for this concept which they consider to be "arbitrary" to be eliminated
from the Penal Code.
Amel Carlos Oliva, youth leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba,
told 14ymedio that in the early hours of the morning the police raided
the house of Thomas Madariaga Nunez, 66, an active member of his
Right now, Madariaga is in custody.
Source: Belkis Cantillo, Leader Of The Dignity Movement Released /
14ymedio, Luz Escobar – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/belkis-cantillo-leader-of-the-dignity-movement-released-14ymedio-luz-escobar/ Continue reading
be released Jan. 28
By Elizabeth Llorente Published January 18, 2017 FoxNews.com
A prominent graffiti artist in Cuba who was jailed the day after Fidel
Castro died for actions that appeared to celebrate the late Cuban
leader's passing, reportedly will be released on Jan. 28, his girlfriend
Danilo Maldonado, known as "El Sexto," has been transported to various
jails since his arrest on Nov. 26. The 33-year-old dissident has not
been charged with any crimes, those close to him say. He is being held
in a maximum-security jail on the outskirts of Havana, according to
Amnesty International, which has been monitoring Maldonado's
imprisonment and on Tuesday demanded his release.
His girlfriend, Alexandra Martinez, who lives in Miami, said she is
hopeful but leery about news that Maldonado will be released. Martinez
said Maldonado told her in a telephone call on Tuesday night that Cuban
authorities told him they were freeing him on Jan. 28.
"We don't know if this is just more psychological torture," she said.
"Last week, he called me screaming that they told him they were going to
execute him. So it was shocking to hear yesterday that they are
Cuban authorities have accused Maldonado of damaging state property,
though no formal charges have been pressed, according to those close to
him as well as Cuban exile groups and international human rights
organizations that have been tracking his situation.
Cuba-based news media reported that Maldonado had created graffiti on a
wall in Havana that read: "He's gone," which was seen as a disrespectful
act by Cuban authorities.
"He is a prisoner of conscience who must be released immediately and
unconditionally," said Amnesty International in its Tuesday statement.
Amnesty International noted that it has been denied access to Cuban
jails since 1988. It describes the jail that is housing Maldonado as a
place "where convicted murderers and political prisoners being punished
for their political views are traditionally held."
Meanwhile, Martinez said she is looking toward Jan. 28.
"I fully expect and demand that they follow through" with the promise of
release, she said.
Source: Artist jailed in Cuba since November for anti-Fidel Castro
graffiti may be released Jan. 28 | Fox News -
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/01/18/artist-jailed-in-cuba-since-november-for-anti-fidel-castro-graffiti-may-be-released-jan-28.html Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 2 January 2017 — A spring rainstorm with light gusts of
wind fell over metropolitan Havana on Sunday, March 20th, when at 4:30
PM Air Force One landed at the first terminal of the José Martí
International Airport carrying President Barack Obama to one of the
final redoubts of communism in the world.
While a Secret Service agent opened Obama's umbrella at the foot of the
airplane stairs as he greeted Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez,
two hours earlier in Miramar, west of Havana, State security agents had
fiercely repressed a group of forty women and two dozen men who were
demanding democracy and freedom for political prisoners.
The dissident movement Ladies in White was instrumental in the
olive-green autocracy's calculated political reforms before the
Raúl Castro, hand-picked for the presidency in the summer of 2006 by his
brother Fidel, took the brunt of the escalating violence, and in three
way negotiations with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos
and the National Catholic Church in 2010, he freed 75 dissidents and
sent the majority into exile.
Castro II changed the rules of the game. The repressive modus operandi
of the regime began using brief detentions and returned, in a worrisome
way, to beatings, death threats, and verbal attacks on its opposition.
The afternoon that The Beast rolled into Old Havana, where Obama ate
dinner with his family in a private restaurant, the regime sent a
message back to Washington: the reforms — if they can be called reforms
— would be made at the convenience of the Palace of the Revolution, not
the White House.
On December 17, 2014, Raúl Castro and Barack Obama decided to
reestablish diplomatic relations and to turn around the anachronistic
policies of the Cold War.
The strategy of Obama proved indecipherable to the Taliban of Castroism.
He did not threaten to deploy gunboats nor subvert the state of affairs.
In his memorable speech at the Grand Theater of Havana on the 22nd of
March, he simply offered things that the majority of Cubans desire, and
of course did not renounce the doctrines that sustain American
democracy, of supporting private businesses and political rights.
Obama said what he thought looking into the eyes of Raúl Castro,
squatted in an armchair on the second balcony of the theater and
surrounded by the military junta that has administered Cuba for almost
The 48 hours of his visit shook Havana. Neither the strong security
measures nor the Communist Party's strategy for minimizing the impact of
Obama's speech prevented the spontaneous reception of the people of
Havana that greeted the president wherever Cadillac One passed.
But official reactions to the visit were not long in coming. Fidel
Castro, retired from power, sick and waiting for death in his
residential complex of Punto Cero, opined that Obama's outstretched hand
was poisoned candy.
The propaganda machinery of the regime began to corrode, and some signs
of economic backlash against intermediaries and private sellers of
agriculture products, which began in early January, were reinforced in
the following months.
Obama's visit entrenched the hard-core of the island's totalitarianism.
The gang closed ranks, they returned to the spent Soviet language, and
began to render to Castro I a cult of personality modeled on a North
It was assumed that the arrival of the president to Havana would be the
event of 2016 in Cuba, but at 10 PM on the night of November 25th,
according to the government, Fidel Castro died.
His death was no surprise. With 90 years and various ailments, the death
of the ex-guerilla was imminent. For better or for worse, he placed Cuba
on the world political map, confronting it with strategies of subversion
against the United States.
His revolution was more political than economic. He could never erect a
robust economy, and the architecture and textile factories during his
extensive rule, only produced things of shoddy and bad taste. Any
reasonable person should analyze the benefits and prejudices of the
regime of Fidel Castro. Sovereignty powered by cheap nationalism.
Division of families. Polarization of society. Relentless with its
enemies and local opposition.
Agriculture declined, he buried the sugar industry and it is difficult
to find any economic, sports or social sector that has not gone
downhill. There was no political honesty in recognizing his failures. On
the contrary, the regime entrenched itself in what it knows best: odes,
panegyrics and trying to enshrine its absurdities in gothic lettering.
And then, 2016 was the year of Raul Castro's diplomatic apparatus, the
most outstanding in his decade as president of the republic. In the last
five years he has reaped success. The secret negotiations for the
reestablishment of relations between the United States and Cuba. The
intermediation of peace in Colombia, with the Roman Catholic Church and
the Russian Orthodox Church. The cancellation of financial debts and
negotiation of a new deal with the Paris Club. And he even managed to
blow up the Common Position of the European Union. Unobjectionable
triumphs of Castro's advisers in international relations.
But those same advisers misjudged their strategy against the United
States. Like the American media and pollsters, they failed to discern
the Donald Trump phenomenon. They may now regret that they have not made
enough progress during Obama's term.
Trump is unpredictable. He repeals the agreements reached with the
United States saying he will make a better one. But something is clear
to the regime. To negotiate benefits you have to make concessions. No
In 2016 there was much more. Mick Jagger unfolded his unusual physical
energy in a mega-concert, scenes of the movie Fast and Furious were
filmed in Cuba, and almost every day a celebrity landed in Havana.
In May, Chanel offered a haute couture show in the Paseo del Prado in a
country where the majority of inhabitants earn $25 a month and not
everyone can see Chanel models in fashion magazines.
Cruises began arriving from Miami as did regular flights from the United
States. There were more than 1,200 cultural and academic exchanges, and
the visits by weighty figures of both governments have been numerous.
The meetings and negotiations have been constant; as constant as the
repression. According to the National Commission of Human Rights and
Reconciliation, in the month of November there were 359 arbitrary
detentions of dissidents, activists, and independent journalists.
The détente is not about to land on the Cuban table. Markets continue to
be out of stock, two meals a day is still a luxury, and one hour of
surfing the internet is equivalent to the wages of a day and a half of
work by a professional.
The year 2017 will be a key year. Barack Obama, the conciliator, will
not be in the White House, and in Cuba the old leader Fidel Castro will
not be there either.
Source: Cuba 2016: The Visit of Barack Obama and Death of Fidel Castro /
Iván García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-2016-the-visit-of-barack-obama-and-death-of-fidel-castro-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
DDC | Madrid | 13 de Enero de 2017 - 11:31 CET.
Félix Bonne Carcassés and Carlos Fernández Gondín died at the end of
last week, just a few hours apart, in Havana. The former was a
professor at the University of Havana for 20 years, ousted for his
political views and imprisoned for "sedition and actions against the
security of the Cuban state." The latter, a division general, had been
Interior Minister since 2015. Both were cremated.
The funerary honors for Fernández Gondín featured all the due pomp and
circumstance: an urn exhibited at the Pantheon of Veterans at Columbus
Cemetery, prior to their burial in the Mausoleum of the Second Front.
The ashes of Bonne Carcasses, in contrast, were to be scattered at sea,
in a quiet corner of the Malecón. But such a simple ceremony was
prohibited by authorities at the ministry which Fernandez Gondín headed
until his death, which arrested friends and colleagues who came to pay
their final tribute to Bonne Carcassés.
There is widespread fear among the Cuban regime's elite, which
recommends the cremation of every deceased leader's body. This fear
spurs the regime to pursue and repress a simple ceremony involving the
ashes of a dissident. It is fear of the future. Fear of the desecration
of corpses, and fear of ending up as a corpse.
This is the reason for the simultaneous police arrests and searches and
threats around the country. And this is the reason for the escalation
of repression against dissidents. It is not, as one might think, a
product of the tension generated by Donald Trump, the naming of Cuban
Americans to his transition team and the rethinking of Washington's
policies towards Cuba promised by soon-to-be Secretary of State Rex
"The increase in repression in Cuba began, not a few days ago, and not
motivated by statements by Trump or his team, but during the Obama
Administration." And it was Minister Fernández Gondín who was behind it.
Tracing the origin of repression in Cuba to recent external threats is a
subterfuge. The origin of repression is firmly within the regime: the
fear of the future its leaders feel, their fear of being cadavers, and
receiving a dreaded punishment –even after their deaths.
Source: Editorial: The ashes of a dissident and of a minister | Diario
de Cuba - http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1484303471_28097.html Continue reading
Félix Bonne Carcassés and Carlos Fernández Gondín died at the end of last week, just a few hours apart, in Havana. The former was a professor at the University of Havana for 20 years, ousted for his political views and imprisoned for "sedition and actions against the security of the Cuban state." The latter, a division general, had been Interior Minister since 2015. Both were cremated.Continue reading
International Business Times January 12, 2017
Biscet and four other dissidents were arrested by Cuban security agents
as they prepared to hand out leaflets promoting the Emilia Project.
A U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom winner was arrested and held
briefly Wednesday by Cuban security agents who threatened him with
imprisonment if he continued to push efforts to create a free parliament
to replace the National Assembly of People's Power, the Inspire
America Foundation said.
Dr. Oscar Biscet, a political dissident and human rights advocate who
was imprisoned in 2002 for crimes against sovereignty and the integrity
of the Cuban territory, was arrested outside his Havana home by four
police and two state security agents, the Miami Herald reported. He was
released several hours later.
"While in custody he was told to give up his work and that he was
getting old and that he was being watched and would go to prison if he
continued," said Marcell Felipe, founder of the foundation. Three other
dissidents also were detained.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted the arrest proved the failure of
U.S. President Barack Obama's overtures to Cuba.
The dissidents had planned to meet in a Havana park to pass out a
newsletter on the Emilia Project, a campaign to gather signatures on a
document seeking to establish a new democratic and free parliament and
write a new constitution based on principles of freedom and democracy.
Biscet was awarded the Medal of Freedom in absentia in 2007 by
then-President George W. Bush but was not able to pick it up until 2011
when he was freed from prison, having served nine years of a 25-year
In his visit to Washington during the summer, Biscet told the Washington
Examiner he was excited about the Emilia Project.
"I have a moral and ethical commitment to return. I can't leave my
people enslaved," he said.
Wednesday's arrests came just hours after Obama delivered his farewell
address in Chicago, in part hailing the reopening of relations with Cuba
as "a new chapter."
But Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson testified President-elect
Donald Trump plans to re-examine the rapprochement with Cuba, adding he
would support a veto of a bill to lift the travel ban to the island. He
also said Cuba hasn't made enough progress on human rights since
relations have thawed.
Source: Cuban Dissident Arrested For Democracy Campaign -
https://www.yahoo.com/news/cuban-dissident-arrested-democracy-campaign-004049743.html Continue reading
By DANIEL ALLOTT (@DANIELALLOTT) • 1/11/17 6:39 PM
"If I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban
people…you might have said our sights were set a little too high."
So said President Obama in his farewell address to the country Tuesday
night. Obama often touts his administration's actions on Cuba as
evidence that his approach to diplomacy has worked. The Obama
administration did open up a new chapter with the Cuban regime —
restoring diplomatic relations with the government and making it easier
for Americans to travel and do business there. Unfortunately, the new
chapter reads like something out of a Stephen King novel.
Cuban dissident and human rights activist Dr. Oscar Biscet was arrested
Wednesday morning by state police in his home in Havana. He was released
after six hours and told that he'd be imprisoned if he did not stop
organizing for Project Emelia, an initiative he recently launched to
help teach Cubans how to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience.
Biscet is a leading advocate of nonviolent resistance to the Castro
regime and of a peaceful transition to democracy on the island. Biscet
is a physician and human rights activist who has spent 13 years in the
state's prisons. He has been imprisoned for a variety of "crimes,"
including exposing the gruesome practice of partial-birth abortion,
displaying the Cuban flag upside down in an act of protest and
organizing to carry out nonviolent acts of civil disobedience. This last
act earned him a 25-year prison term, for which he served 8 years.
Biscet has been awarded numerous awards for his work, including the
Presidential Medal of Freedom, bestowed by President Bush in 2007.
Biscet left the island for the first time last year and arrived in
Washington D.C., visiting the Washington Examiner's offices in June. He
told the Washington Examiner that Obama's outreach had been "a strategic
error" because it rewarded the regime and got the Cuban people nothing
in return. He warned that the reforms Raul Castro had enacted were
mostly cosmetic and that true change would only come once all Cubans had
secured the basic rights of free speech, religion, assembly and a free
Biscet is hardly alone in being targeted by state police. As Obama has
"open[ed] a new chapter" with Cuba, the Cuban regime is still reading
from the old playbook when it comes to political repression. As Amnesty
International put it about Cuba last year, "Despite increasingly open
diplomatic relations, severe restrictions on freedoms of expression,
association and movement continued. Thousands of cases of harassment of
government critics and arbitrary arrests and detentions were reported."
During his summer visit to D.C., Biscet told the Washington Examiner
that he was anxious to return to Cuba to launch Project Emelia. "I have
a moral and ethical commitment to return. I can't leave my people enslaved."
Daniel Allott is deputy commentary editor for the Washington Examiner
Source: So much for Obama's 'new chapter' with Cuba | Washington
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/so-much-for-obamas-new-chapter-with-cuba/article/2611608 Continue reading
Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 29 November 2016 — The dictator Fidel Castro died
last Friday at the age of 90. The extensive news coverage was to be
expected. After all, he was both the object of the most romantic,
idealized love and the most scathing, caustic hatred. Gone was the man
who, over the last six decades, had left his imprint on Cuban history, a
man who was unquestionably one of the most controversial figures of the
There is little to say that has not already been said about this tyrant,
so there is little point in now rehashing extensive accounts of his
life. It seems more prudent to ask a basic question that might summarize
what imprint this man had on Cuban society.
What did Fidel Castro leave behind? What did Cubans inherit from his
more than half-century legacy? The answer is not always a simple one
because almost nothing is simple in Cuba, where the reality itself is
often tinged with varying shades of light and shadow.
From Fidel Castro's point of view, he leaves behind a country with
virtually no illiteracy and an educational system accessible to everyone
everywhere within the country's borders. It seems idyllic, especially in
light of the repeated positive assessments by UNICEF. But let's not
forget an essential point: Not everything here is so rosy.
There is only one centralized, compulsory system of education, imposed
on everyone, which provides no alternative. Parents cannot choose what
kind of schooling their children will receive. Every day children must
swear an oath: "Pioneers for Communism; we will be like Che!" They are
taught by educators suffering from enormous personal frustration. In
exchange for their enormous efforts, teachers receive paltry salaries,
working under the most inadequate of conditions in schools that are in
near ruin. Additionally, every child is subjected to political
indoctrination, which is responsible in large part for the unfortunate
loss of civic culture paralyzing Cuban society today.
And what is there to say about public health? The country which boasts
of its achievements in biotechnology, universal childhood vaccination
and state-of-the-art clinics catering to foreigners — comparable only to
those reserved for exclusive use by elite government officials — is the
same country whose neighborhood medical clinics stand empty and whose
pharmacies suffer from a constant shortage of medications.
Its excellent doctors are paid poverty-level wages, must deal with
unimaginable scarcities and work under deplorable conditions in
hospitals which are structurally unsound and which, in many instances,
should be demolished.
The government of Fidel Castro has always relied on its medical missions
to more than sixty countries — "in search of the world's poor" — as its
trump card. Under the heel of Raul Castro, those same missions greedily
skim 70% off the salaries of its overseas medical personnel.
This slave trade generates between 8 to 10 billion dollars a year.
Meanwhile, the government shamelessly rails, with characteristic
cynicism, against worldwide capitalist exploitation.
The very serious crisis in Cuban sport is so obvious that it is scarcely
worth discussing. The defections of more than two-hundred top-flight
baseball players to the "brutal north" in search of better opportunities
in recent years are a slap in the face of the deceased, who used sport
as a weapon of propaganda. But the humiliating and mediocre performances
of a wide range of athletes in international arenas suggest that things
could hardly get much worse.
And what has the "invincible" comandante left behind on the field of
economics? Anything one might say on such a potent and cruel topic risks
sounding redundant. The profound economic damage resulting from the
endless trail of Fidel Castro's erratic policies continues to have
ongoing repercussions. So absurd and systemic was the damage that it has
become insoluble, at least under the current rules of the game imposed
by the military dictatorship, which subordinates everything to its
perverse predilection for control.
In spite of having enjoyed the world's most generous subsidies —
courtesy of the former Soviet Union —for its first three decades, Cuba
has never experienced a period of real economic independence or credible
growth during the entire Castro era. It later suckled on the nipple
provided by Hugo Chavez, who always had to cradle the drooling mouth of
the silly child because it never learned to support itself.
It is an undeniable fact that the comandante's government, like that of
its successor, never managed to overcome its prodigious parasitic
habits. Its survival always depended on an outside supplier. In short,
the dictator leaves behind a desolated country, perpetually in the red
and without a a credible development plan in sight.
Did the comandante opt for persuasion, for convincing argument, in order
to govern? Did he exercise his power through normal, healthy and
necessary confrontation — free of judgment — with a dissenting
legislature in which opposition was a daily reality, as in all free
societies? Certainly not. From the very beginning, he penalized
difference of opinion and buried the press under a blanket of hermetic
He monopolized national editorial policy and all mass media, maintaining
an iron-fisted stranglehold which he never eased. Under his totalitarian
dictatorship there was never anything that might be called a parliament.
Instead, a circus of marionettes met once a year to give consent —
always by unanimous vote — to orders previously approved by the Central
Committee of his Communist Party.
The shocking human rights situation has been a constant for the entirety
of the Castro regime. It represents a very long saga of systematic
abuse, a logical consequence of having no separation of powers. The
noteworthy indices of political repression have been the immutable
backdrop of Cuban society for more than five decades, though they have
become something of a scandal since the thaw in relations with the
United States was announced. The dearly departed leaves behind, as
testament to his despotism, about a hundred political prisoners in jail
cells, to say nothing of the thousands who preceded them.
The comandante also bequeathed to Cuban history four great waves of
emigration, confirming his scandalous failure as a ruler. Young people
fled in terror from their enslavement, an eloquent expression of an
entire people's discontent. Well organized exoduses were augmented by an
endless string of drownings from sunken rafts in the Florida Straits, a
deeply painful saga for the Cuban people caused, once again, by Fidel
But let's try to shed light on at least one small aspect of the genius
which frontmen and toadies attribute to him. Let's look at the tactical
"solutions" the tyrant imposed as well as their practical and permanent
long-term consequences. For example, no sooner had revolutionaries won
than they found themselves with a housing problem. Did the comandante
promote a coherent national program of building new housing to meet the
demand? No. It was easier to steal long-held properties from their
rightful owners through to the Urban Reform Law. The consequences? Even
today, half a century later, housing remains one of the country's most
serious problems and perhaps the hardest one to solve.
In 1959 the newly triumphant comandante also found himself facing the
problem of land distribution. But once the Agrarian Reform Law was
adopted, did it create the conditions necessary for small-scale farmers
to flourish? Did it vigorously stimulate agricultural and livestock
production throughout the country? No. Instead it imposed one absurd
regulation after another in order to impede, by any means necessary,
agricultural producers' financial success. It created multiple
mechanisms to limit their profits and unleashed the Attorney General's
watchdogs on any misguided soul who had acquired wealth by dint of his
own legitimate efforts.
The consequences? Even today, meager harvests rot in the fields thanks
to the well-documented irresponsibility of the Empresa Nacional de
Acopio (National Harvest Company) — an ineffective monopoly and the sole
entity in charge agricultural harvesting. Even today, as an indefensibly
large proportion of the country's arable land remains plagued by maribu
weed, Cuba imports millions of dollars worth of food, including — of all
things — sugar. Fields lie untended due to, as always, the whims and
stubbornness of the country's rulers. Meanwhile, shortages of basic
staples set new records week after week.
An uninterrupted mass exodus began in early 1959, most notably of
professionals, when a segment of the population felt disappointed by the
first populist measures. What did the newly-inaugurated prime minister,
Fidel Castro, do to halt or discourage it? Did he improve working
conditions or offer better salaries to those professionals? No. He
chose, as usual, to restrict the the right of all Cubans to travel
freely for decades and prohibited any overseas travel that did not have
official authorization. The consequences? The island literally became
one vast prison, serving as Fidel Castro's private gulag for more than
fifty years. During that time the despot deprived us of the universal
right to freely come and go from our own country.
It is also worth remembering one fateful moment: When faced with the
challenge of a democratic election in 1960, did he fulfill the promise
he made in the Sierra Maestra to hold elections after eighteen months in
power? Never! Instead he coined that celebrated slogan "Elections for
what?" The unfortunate consequences of that failure translate into an
absence of political freedom today. The consequences? Since then, there
has been a complete disregard by Cuba's military/political elite for our
natural right to free thought and for many of the most basic human
rights, an offensive contempt resulting from, above all, the twisted
personality of Fidel Castro.
Faced with the persistence of tens of thousands of private businesses
and family micro-enterprises throughout the country, did the comandante
develop a parallel national system of consumer services that would
compete on an equal footing with those of the extensive private sector?
Was their promise finally fulfilled, providing better services to the
people? Absolutely not. Instead, he launched the notorious Revolutionary
Offensive in March 1968, which in a few months swept away the legacy of
millions of entrepreneurs who had amassed their fortunes as a result of
generations of honest work.
This wave of brazen confiscation, followed by widespread institutional
laziness, led to a dramatic and irreversible decline in the food service
industry and every possible consumer service from Cabo San Antonio to
Punta Maisí. The consequences? Even today, this sector remains one of
the most eloquent testimonials to the inefficiency and corruption of a
system as centralized as that of Cuba.
In other words, this bearded reprobate always opted for the easiest,
most mediocre, most simplistic solution — coincidentally, usually the
one he had come up with — that in the long run would lead to the worst
Where is the supposed genius in leading the country into absurdist
economic ruin, trampling on people's human rights, putting power in the
hands of an arrogant oligarchy with bourgeois tastes, creating a
disturbed, dysfunctional society and turning it into a quagmire of moral
ruin? What fanciful argument could purport that a life so aberrant and
demonstrably harmful to the Cuban people was virtuous?
Other than stores in several countries being closed, there was nothing
memorable about last Friday, November 25, except for the day's top
story. Nothing of consequence will happen in Cuba after this date
because it marked an outcome for which the dictatorship has had
sufficient time to prepare. The military will, for now, keep everything
under control and business will continue as its usual.
The tyrant died but he left behind an intact dictatorship, with an
organized army of henchmen and repressors well-trained in all manner of
coercion, intimidation and blackmail. It acts like an eager, arrogant
hitman who has his finger on the trigger, always at the ready. In his
profound alienation, he would not hesitate to calmly pull it as soon as
the order was received.
The dictatorship's capacity for repression remains intact; the people
remain totally defenselessness against the divine designs of the
dictator on duty. We carry with us the execrable consequences of massive
social indoctrination, which will require the passing of more than a
generation to overcome its imprint of immorality once freedom finally
arrives. Society still lacks the vital independent mechanisms to
seriously address the true aspirations of the Cuban people.
All this notwithstanding, there have been many messages of condolence
from a wide range of political and religious figures including Vladimir
Putin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Xi Jinping, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Frei
Betto and Pope Francis. Other diverse figures include soccer star Diego
Maradona, every leftist president from Latin America and King Felipe of
There will undoubtedly also be hundreds of condolences from all over the
globe, from people of varied ancestries who nevertheless all have one
thing in common: none have personally suffered the consequences of the
Stalinist madness of the deceased.
None of these grieving mourners were the father of a young man who was
shot. None were humiliated for a being believer or a homosexual and
sentenced to hard labor in the Military Units to Aid Production (UMAP).
In fact, not one of them will even know what the UMAP was. None of them
were forced to support their families on twenty dollars a month or
experience the hell of a ration book.
None of these very disturbed friends of the dictator had family on the
'13 de Marzo' tugboat; none was sentenced to more than 20 years in
prison during the Black Spring; none has seen their mother, their wife
or their daughter dragged by the fascists hordes during a march of the
Ladies in White; none is a dissident besieged or beaten with impunity by
the Cuban political police; none has been imprisoned for weeks or months
without even knowing what charges are imputed to them, and then released
without trial or further explanation; none has been expelled from their
job due to political differences nor had a child expelled from their
university career for the same reason.
None suffered a raid on their home without having engaged in punishable
offenses; none has witnessed the degrading repudiation rallies organized
by the political police and the Communist Party of its
Commander-in-Chief against peaceful opponents. In short, none of them is
surnamed Zapata, Payá, Boitel, Soto García, or Pollán.
But the inevitable finally occurred and dust returned to dust. Fidel
Castro exerted absolute power using brutal methods for half a
century. His achievement, such as it is, was that he always appealed on
the most mean-spirited, despicable and lowly aspects of human nature.
Camouflaged by his extraordinary capacity for simulation and guided by a
highly refined ability to discern a person's basest instincts, he
manipulated people for his personal advantage in order to satisfy the
pathological impulses of his deeply narcissistic personality, his
insatiable egotism and an uncontrollable need for recognition of his
The despot has left to face God's judgement but leaves behind a painful
legacy. The monster has died but the damage he caused remains. In spite
of all this, Cuba will one day find the true pathway toward democracy.
While we will try to never again hate, we are obliged not to forget. The
dictator leaves this world, as many of his kind often do, without
summary judgment, without having faced earthly justice. But the tyrant
will never escape to the moral judgment of a people who have, at least
so far, not definitively absolved him. History, however, has already
firmly condemned him.
Source: Fidel Castro: The Tyrant Exits but the Damage Remains / Jeovany
Jimenez Vega – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/fidel-castro-the-tyrant-exits-but-the-damage-remains-jeovany-jimenez-vega/ Continue reading
2016 / EFE,14ymedio
EFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 5 January 2017 — The Cuban Commission for
Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), a dissident group,
denounced today that it had documented at least 9,940 arbitrary arrests
for "political reasons" in 2016, the highest figure of the last six years.
With a monthly average of 827 arrests, the opposition organization said
that Cuba is in "first place" in Latin America for this type of
In its monthly report, the CCDHRN reports that in December there were
458 arbitrary arrests of "peaceful dissidents," up from 359 in the
previous month, but a much lower figure than in other months of last
year; data from January to April showed more than 1,000 arrests a month.
According to this organization, in December there were also 14 physical
assaults by political repression groups against peaceful opponents, 37
acts of harassment and intimidation, and two acts of repudiation, "true
civil lynchings without the loss of human lives until now."
The commission notes that the opposition groups most punished by this
harassment are the Ladies in White, who march every Sunday to demand
respect for human rights on the island, and the Cuban Patriotic Union
(UNPACU), which has suffered "vandalism and robbery by the police" at
its headquarters in Santiago de Cuba and at the homes of some of its
The CCDHRN also expressed concern over the situation of two political
prisoners imprisoned since November: Eduado Cardet, coordinator of the
Christian Liberation Movement, and Danilo Maldonado, the graffiti artist
known as "El Sexto," who is considered a prisoner of conscience by
"El Sexto" has been detained since the early hours of November 26 for
painting "He's gone" in a central place in Havana on the occasion of the
death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. He is being held in a maximum
security prison without trial.
The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, led
by the well-known dissident Elizardo Sánchez, is the only group to
record and report the numbers of these incidents in Cuba.
The Cuban government considers dissidents "counterrevolutionaries" and
Source: Dissident Group Denounces At Least 9,940 Arbitrary Arrests In
Cuba In 2016 / EFE,14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/dissident-group-denounces-at-least-9940-arbitrary-arrests-in-cuba-in-2016-efe14ymedio/ Continue reading
for Cuba / 14ymedio
14ymedio, 30 December 2016 — The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA)
has named independent journalist Henry Constantín Ferreiro as regional
vice president for Cuba. Director of the magazine La Hora de Cuba and a
resident of the city of Camagüey, the reporter told 14ymedio that he
intends to defend and spread "the reality of journalism" on the island
from his new responsibility.
A few hours after the announcement, Constantín told this newspaper via
phone that he received the news with a mixture of "surprise and pride"
and said he was grateful to be part of an organization that "has engaged
in numerous battles over the freedom of the press in the region."
Born in 1984, Constantín is a contributor to several independent media,
including the magazine Coexistence. He studied journalism for several
semester as an undergraduate and also the specialty of film direction at
the Higher Institute of Art (ISA).
The reporter feels that the journalism in Cuba is going through "a
special moment" marked by "an increasing plurality, although still
restrained by the government." On the island there are "media that cover
almost the entire political spectrum," says the new vice president of
"In this new year we will have to defend the national press because
although the context is new, the threats are the same and some of them
are even growing," Constantín points out.
Upon his appointment, the reporter will be responsible for reporting the
violations of press freedom that occur in the country and for drafting
the report that is published each semester by IAPA.
Previously, the vice president for Cuba was occupied by journalist and
director of 14ymedio Yoani Sanchez, who assumed the responsibility in 2012.
Last November, Henry Constantín was detained at Customs at the Ignacio
Agramonte International Airport in Camaguey, on his arrival from
Miami. The dissident was taken to a police station where his mobile
phone and his laptop were confiscated.
Source: Inter-American Press Association Names Henry Constantin Vice
President for Cuba / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/inter-american-press-association-names-henry-constantin-vice-president-for-cuba-14ymedio/ Continue reading
/ Juan Juan Almeida
Juan Juan Almeida, 15 December 2016 — Thirteen months before his
anticipated retirement, General Raúl Castro is setting the agenda for an
individual who, even within the ranks of the Communist Party, provokes a
rare mix of opposing opinions and strong reactions.
Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez is today the person most likely to be
the next President of the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba and
curiously has already come up with a series of measures that should
guarantee an awkward form of popular approval.
I do not know if the Cuban government is planning an early transition of
power. I anticipated surprises but I don't know if they are preparing
for something else. There is, however, a rumor circulating in the halls
of power that a presidential agenda is already being prepared for
The new leader's work schedule includes repealing certain regulations
and creating others, such as reforming the country's financial system,
passing a new law on foreign investment, implementing labor reform
focused on drastically increasing the quality of the Cuban workforce,
generating more private sector employment and ostensibly improving
I asked a few acquaintances about the rumor and this was one response:
"It could be; he is a quiet guy. He keeps to himself and his strategy
for getting ahead amounts to keeping his mouth shut. But he is still a
good man," says one.
Another said, "I heard something but I don't believe he is genuine
reformist who suddenly appeared on the scene after lying low. He has no
leadership abilities. Díaz-Canel is an opportunist who has molded
himself to please Raul Castro."
But opinions vary. The measures being planned seem quite attractive but,
without severing ties to family members of the country's longtime
leaders, I doubt they will do much to improve the island's financial system.
A new investment law more appropriate to our times, one that offered
financial benefits, could incentivize serious investors. But it could
also be a magnet for scoundrels and astute money launderers.
Labor reform would increase productivity. Since Cuba has one of highest
proportions of elderly in Latin America, improving retirement benefits
for pensioners would also provide hope for the larger population. But
increasing their income and extending their coverage seems misleading to
me. After all, it is the unstoppable emigration of younger people and
the decline in the birthrate that has given rise to a progressively
aging population, a development which threatens the financial
sustainability of the pension system. Its resources are completely
inadequate to cover the retirement needs of any elderly Cuban.
Increasing the paltry benefits they receive today would be nothing more
than a semantic trick. Due to currency devaluation, done to reflect the
currency's true value, any increase would actually be a big decrease.
It is not enough to have an agenda that, on simple inspection, seems
designed to confuse the public, add a new element to US-Cuba relations,
play with people's uncertainties and destroy dissident proposals through
reforms that seem significant but have very little to offer.
It is difficult to predict but I feel that Díaz-Canel who now serves as
vice-president of the Council of State and Council of Ministers, lacks
the political will to become the magician who will transform today's
troubling reality into a more pluralistic, inclusive and productive Cuba.
Source: Is Raul Castro Preparing for a Handover to Diaz-Canel or
Something Else? / Juan Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/is-raul-castro-preparing-for-a-handover-to-diaz-canel-or-something-else-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
Street artist "El Sexto" was jailed for writing "Se fue" (He's gone) on
BY ANTHONY L. FISHER ON 12/19/16 AT 11:30 AM
Cuba's nine days of official mourning for its deceased former dictator
Fidel Castro has mercifully concluded, but his penchant for locking up
artists who aren't sufficiently appreciative of the island prison
state's health care and education lives on.
Danilo Maldonado Machado, the Cuban street artist also known as "El
Sexto," has reportedly been locked up since the day after Castro's death
for the crime of spray-painting " Se fue " (He's gone) on the wall of a
El Sexto's mother, Maria Victoria Machado, says his neighbors had told
her authorities invaded his apartment and "violently dragged him down
the stairs into an awaiting patrol car, all while punching him in the
stomach and torso," the CBC reports.
Machado also claims her son has been beaten while in detention, and
refuses to eat the food his jailers are offering out of fear that it is
laced with drugs meant to keep him compliant.
Although pro-government graffiti can be found all over Cuba, for "damage
to public property," El Sexto could be held for 60 days.
Related: How Trump violated the U.S. embargo on Cuba
This isn't the first time the 33-year-old dissident has been locked up
for artistic expression, he also spent 10 months in jail for painting
the names "Fidel" and "Raul" on two pigs, with the intention of
releasing them in public. He was arrested before his stunt could be
accomplished, but his efforts did not go unnoticed. Human Rights
Foundation awarded him the Václav Havel International Prize for Creative
Dissent in 2015.
Anthony L. Fisher is an associate editor for Reason.com.
Source: Post-Castro Cuba Continues to Lock Up Dissenting Artists -
http://europe.newsweek.com/post-castro-cuba-continues-lock-dissenting-artists-531896 Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 15 December 2016 –The leader of the Ladies in White,
Berta Soler, was arrested Thursday in the morning when she was about to
leave the headquarters of the organization in the neighborhood of
Lawton, Havana, in order to connect to the Internet.
Angel Moya, a former prisoner of the Cause of 75 from the 2003 Black
Spring and Soler's husband, told this newspaper that neighborhood
witnesses confirmed to him that the arrest had been made with excessive
use of force. "She was arrested violently, neighbors testify that they
even beat her," says the dissident who was not at home at the time of
Moya speculates that Soler was taken to the detention center in Alamar,
but was unable to confirm the information.
The former prisoner of the Black Spring told 14ymedio that the Ladies in
White movement has not programmed any activities for today. "Right now,
the only thing Berta did was to launch a call for Tuesday, 19 December,
at two in the afternoon in Central Park, for the traditional Literary
Tea, if State Security continues to operate around the group's
headquarters in Lawton, and prevents the activists from accessing it.
Around two in the afternoon the political police arrested another Lady
in White, Marlen Gonazalez, when she went out with her husband to buy
food at the agricultural market. "A patrol car came and asked for her ID
card and they took her prisoner," said her neighbors in the San Miguel
de Padron area.
While all this was going on, at Jose Marti Airport the activist Jose
Diaz Silva, a Cuban delegate to the Democracy Movement, he was
approached by police before taking a flight to the United
States. According to a report from the dissident, the officials warned
him that on his return from Miami he would encounter very serious
reprisals and that from now on the opposition's "days are numbered."
The latest report of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National
Reconciliation (CCDHRN) said that during November there were at least
359 arbitrary arrests of peaceful opponents on the island, over a
hundred cases fewer than in October. However, the independent
organization warns of a possible increase in repression following the
death of former President Fidel Castro.
Source: Threats and Arrests if Dissidents Continue in Cuba / 14ymedio –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/threats-and-arrests-if-dissidents-continue-in-cuba-14ymedio/ Continue reading
UA: 273/16 Index: AMR 25/5244/2016 Cuba Date: 29 November 2016
CUBAN GRAFFITI ARTIST ARRESTED AGAIN
Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado Machado ('El Sexto') – named a
prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International in 2015 – was
re-arrested on 26 November, shortly after the announcement of Fidel
Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado Machado (also known as 'El
Sexto') was arrested at his home in Havana, the capital, at
approximately 11.15 am on 26 November, hours after the announcement of
Fidel Castro's death. Danilo Maldonado was on the phone with his
girlfriend when state officials forced their way into his apartment.
According to his mother, Maria Victoria Machado, she and his sister were
initially unable to locate him, before they eventually located him at a
prison later that afternoon. Danilo Maldonado's mother says he is
currently detained in Guanabacoa, Eastern Havana. When Maria Machado
visited him on 27 November, officials did not give reasons for his arrest.
On 26 November, according to Cuba-based newspaper 14 y medio, Danilo
Maldonado had graffitied the words "He's gone" (Se fue) on a wall in
Havana. The news outlet reported that El Sexto's graffiti was one of the
first public demonstrations outside of the state-organized
demonstrations of mourning following the announcement of Fidel Castro's
Short-term arbitrary arrests remain a common tactic to restrict freedom
of expression in Cuba. In October, the Cuban Commission of Human Rights
and National Reconciliation, which like other human rights organizations
is not recognized by Cuban authorities, reported 620 arbitrary
detentions of peaceful protestors and opposition activists.
Provisions of the Cuban Criminal Code, such as contempt of a public
official (desacato), resistance to public officials carrying out their
duties (resistencia) and public disorder (desórdenes públicos) are
frequently used to stifle free speech, assembly and association.
Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:
Calling on the authorities to release Danilo Maldonado Machado ('El
Sexto') immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of
conscience, imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to
freedom of expression;
Calling on them to guarantee the right to freedom of expression,
including for dissident, opponent or activist voices.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 10 JANUARY 2017 TO:
President of the Republic
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: firstname.lastname@example.org (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Your Excellency
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/ Señor Fiscal General
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
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above
CUBAN GRAFFITI ARTIST ARRESTED AGAIN
On 20 October 2015, Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado Machado ('El
Sexto') was released after spending almost 10 months in prison without
trial following accusations of "aggravated contempt". Amnesty
International considered him a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely
for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression (see:
Danilo Maldonado Machado was accused of "aggravated contempt" after
being arrested on 25 December 2014 for transporting two pigs with the
names "Raúl" and "Fidel" painted on them, which he intended to release
in an art show in Havana's Central Park. He was never formally charged
nor brought before a court during the almost 10 months he spent in
Name: Danilo Maldonado Machado, also known as 'El Sexto'
Gender m/f: male
UA: 273/16 Index: AMR 25/5244/2016 Issue Date: 29 November 2016
Source: Amnesty International: Where to Write for Release of El Sexto –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/amnesty-international-where-to-write-for-release-of-el-sexto/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 14 December 2016 – Yesterday, Tuesday afternoon,
Carlos Amel Oliva checked in well in advance with his ticket to take Air
Europe Flight 052 that was leaving for Madrid just after 10:00 PM,
intending to connect from the Spanish capital to travel on to Poland.
However, the activist was not able to board because an immigration
official told him he was prohibited from leaving.
Oliva was invited to participate in the third edition of Warsaw
Democratic Dialogue as a representative of the Patriotic Union of Cuba
Upon reaching the immigration controls he was separated from the line.
"They took me to an office where there was an official who was
apparently the shift manager, who explained that I appeared in their
computer system as a person prohibited from leaving," he explained to
Carlos Amel asked for an explanation, which he felt he deserved, but the
control officials responded that they "didn't work on that part."
The dissident told this newspaper what had happened a few yards from the
check-in desk for his flight. "[The official] suggested that I direct
myself to the appropriate entities, such as the prosecutor, so that I
could find out the reasons and I replied that I already knew, because
surely the only possible reason was my status as a dissident, a peaceful
"I do not have any unpaid fines, nor am I in the midst of a judicial or
police investigative process," Amel Oliva stated, rejecting that he was
subject to these established reasons for being denied the right to travel.
On December 10, International Human Rights Day, his father, also named
Carlos, was also unable to take his plane at Terminal 2 at José Martí
International Airport, heading to a meeting sponsored by Freedom House
and the Venezuelan Institute of Parliamentary Studies that was being
held in the United States. The UNPACU youth leader's father also did not
receive any satisfactory explanation.
"Obviously," Carlos Amel Oliva commented before leaving the terminal to
return to Santiago de Cuba, "this measure I have been the victim of is
not consistent with the signing of agreements between Cuba and the
European Union, which has set aside its so-called Common Position. The
European Union has done something that could be called a goodwill
gesture, having ceased to condition its relations with the Cuban
government on issues of human rights, but this is how the government
repays the gesture: preventing a peaceful dissident from attending an
event organized by civil society in a European country," he lamented.
The current Cuban immigration law, in force since January 2013,
established different reasons for denying a Cuban citizen the ability to
leave the country. Among them are motives of public interest or national
security, or being subject to a pending court case, as with the former
prisoners of the Black Spring of 2003 who refused to leave the country
as a condition of their release, and so remain in Cuba on parole. They,
however, were each granted the right to make one trip abroad earlier
A common method to prevent a civil society activist or regime opponent
from traveling abroad, is to detain them at a police station on the day
they are planning to travel and to release them after their flight has
Source: Cuban Authorities Block Travel Of Dissident Amel Carlos Oliva /
14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuban-authorities-block-travel-of-dissident-amel-carlos-oliva-14ymedio/ Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 10 December 2016 — In a country sculpted by slogans,
intolerance and symbols, the departure of Fidel Castro — absolute ruler
and founding father of the Cuban Revolution — changes the rules of the game.
Nothing will ever be the same again. No future autocrat will be able to
summon a million people to a public square, call for enormous sugar
harvests, tell huge lies or launch wars of emancipation far from our shores.
Fidel Castro's death is the signature on the death certificate of his
Revolution. Castro himself perverted it in 1976 when the country
formally adopted a Soviet-style system. The whole process can be divided
into seven different phases.
The first phase was romantic. Fidel and his bearded soldiers were like
the Three Wise Men bearing a simple political message: democracy, free
elections and social justice.
Most people applauded the deception. Fidel deceived the public by
appearing to distance himself from communism and seducing a large swath
of the world's intellectuals.
Then there was his own version of the Storming of the Bastille. Red
tides, confrontations, executions of opponents, a phony civil war in the
Bay of Pigs and seven years of uprisings in the Escambray Mountains.
Large industries were nationalized as an astute Fidel Castro entered
into a strategic geopolitical alliance with the Soviet Union. It was the
most violent phase of his rule, with 50,000 political prisoners. He
governed the country as though it were his private estate and
transformed Havana into the Mecca of anti-colonial guerrilla movements.
One day, when the secret archives of the state sanctum are opened and
their contents are dispassionately examined, we will see how
irresponsible Castro was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Urging Nikita
Khrushchev to launch the first atomic missile strike, thus condemning
his own people to extermination, was no small detail.
The years 1968 to 1976 marked Fidel Castro's most radical phase. He
confiscated small businesses, anesthetized art and culture, and
accumulated total power.
From that date until 1991 he began building Soviet Cuba. The army grew
to a million men, four thousand tanks and two-hundred-fifty MIG fighter
Espionage became professionalized and social control began to be applied
with scientific precision. Cuban intelligence services ultimately had
agents operating in half the world's countries and about five thousand
in Florida alone.
The arrival of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Kremlin, along with his policies
of perestroika and glasnost, heralded the decline of Castro's personal
empire. Already in the fifth phase, Cuba suddenly found itself face to
face with reality. It was a nation that had been impoverished by
economic delusions and Fidel's wars in Africa and Latin America.
Thus began a painful period of deprivation. People fainted from hunger
in the streets, oxen replaced tractors in the fields and daily blackouts
lasted for twelve hours or more.
In spite of thousands of Cubans fleeing by air, land and sea, as well as
an attempted popular uprising in 1994, Fidel Castro was able to govern
without major disruption due to the efficiency of his propaganda and
The sixth phase was a gift from Santa Claus. Hugo Chavez — a former
parachutist from the Venezuelan city of Barina, a man of disjointed
speeches with the obsessions of a visionary hero — attempted to revive
socialism by combining a handful of theoretical inanities by Heinz
Dietrich with a bogus religiosity and odes to Simon Bolivar.
In his twilight years Fidel Castro achieved his crowning achievement:
Venezuela. It was perhaps as significant as the victory at Cuito
Cuanavale, a key battle against the South African army, which he had
commanded from ten thousand kilometers away.
The Venezuelan case is worthy of study by political scientists and
instructors in espionage. Castro conquered Caracas without firing a
shot. His recipe? Ideology and backroom consultations.
Fidel remade himself into a kind of Caribbean Rasputin. Never in human
history has a nation with an army of has-beens managed to colonize
another nation with three times the population and four times the GDP.
The symbolism and message it offered were enough. Chavez opened the
doors of his presidential palace to Cuban military advisers and the
South American country got thirty thousand doctors and medical personnel.
Half of this aid was paid for with petroleum, the other half with
dollars. The current Venezuelan crisis, a perfect storm, arose from the
fall in petroleum prices but was aggravated by interference from Cuba.
The seventh and current stage began with the political death of Fidel
Castro on July 31, 2006. His brother and hand-picked successor, Raul, is
trying to dismantle the operation and get the machinery of production
back in order.
In the international arena, Cuba put away the pistols and began the
diplomatic dialogue. Raul Castro, always operating from behind the
scenes, negotiated the release of a handful of political prisoners with
the Catholic church and the Spanish government. Cuba held secret talks
with the United States, which made possible the reestablishment of
diplomatic relations with its old enemy. It helped mediate an end to the
civil war in Colombia. It alleviated burdensome international financial
debts and it allowed Cubans to be tourists in their own country. Believe
me, all this was no small feat.
It did all this while still repressing dissenting voices. The repressive
model of the Raul era is different and probably more efficient.
Opponents can travel overseas and, if they are detained, it is often
only for a few hours in police holding cells except in unusual
By the time Fidel Castro had died — from causes still unknown — on the
night of November 25, a quarter of a million Cubans had emigrated over
the previous four years, the economy had run aground, corruption had
become endemic, the country faced an eminent demographic time bomb,
apathy and discontent were widespread and an amateurish dissident
movement was as disorganized as it was distracted.
With the death of Fidel Castro, things are bound to change in Cuba. One
cannot continue to expect good results from the same old economic,
political and social recipes.
Fidel Castro was the past. When he came to power, there were no such
things as cell phones, the internet or gay marriage. Some nations were
still colonies and electronic commerce was something out of science fiction.
The European Union was but a dream in the head of the French president,
General Charles de Gaulle, and no one foresaw the end of Russian
communism. Raul Castro announced that he will retire in February 2018, a
year and two months from now.
According to Cuba watchers, the possible subsequent scenarios range from
neo-Castroism to state capitalism to a family dynasty. And any of the
three, they predict, could lead to democracy in the not too distant future.
The reason is simple: we have already hit bottom.
Marti Noticias, December 7, 2016
Source: The Seven Phases of Fidel Castro / Iván García – Translating
http://translatingcuba.com/the-seven-phases-of-fidel-castro-ivn-garca/ Continue reading