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14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 20 November 2017 — Several impounded trucks and numerous drivers demanding respect for the law have been the results of the stiffening of police controls, in recent weeks, on the transport of agricultural products in the municipality of Alquízar, located in Artemisa province. Around a dozen truck owners complained to 14ymedio … Continue reading "Alquízar’s Truckers Challenge the Police, Showing Them the Wording of the Law" Continue reading
… be occurring in Cuba each and every day,” declared Cuban-American Rep. Ileana … ” within the Cuban regime of depriving anti-Castro people in Cuba of the … who has been sent to Havana’s notorious mental institution Mazorra … yelling, “freedom for Cuba!” Zúñiga described Llorente “a Cuban dissident” who was … Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 17 November 2017 — While several business owners from the island connected to the internet in the lobby of the EB Miami hotel a stone’s throw from the international airport, and others drank beer at nine dollars at the bar, a Cuban dissident lawyer who spent more than a decade in Puerto Rico and … Continue reading "The Private Sector, the Most Powerful in Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
Barcelona, November 9 (RHC)-- Strikes and protests are taking place throughout Catalonia to demand the region’s independence and the release of several former Catalan authorities and independence activists who protesters describe as political prisoners.   … Continue reading
Pedro Campos, Miami, 2 November 2017 – Once again, as expected, the United Nations condemns the United States embargo on Cuba. This annual exercise is part of the diversionary masquerade of the Castro regime to try to make the naïve believe that it is the United States that is the main culprit in Cuba’s economic and … Continue reading "The US Embargo and Cuba’s Internal Blockade in Times of Halloween" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 30 October 2017 — The leaden sky presaging rain did not stop Hector, 79, from roasting chicken breasts and a snapper over charcoal. In his house in Víbora Park in the Arroyo Naranjo neighborhood in the south of Havana, the atmosphere was festive. His brother Humberto, who has lived in Canada for 20 years, was visiting … Continue reading "How Cubans Remember the Missile Crisis / Iván García" Continue reading
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 30 October 2017 – On Monday, Concepción González was waiting another day at the immigration office at 3rd and 22nd Streets, in Havana’s Playa municipality. The travel and immigration measures announced this Saturday brings to reality her old dream of reuniting with her rafter son. On Saturday, during the IV Meeting of … Continue reading "Coming Changes Emphasize the Contradictions of Cuban Migration Policy" Continue reading
… requested the withdrawal of Cuban embassy staff in Havana, accusing the communist … the embassy in Havana and have not blamed Cuba for the attacks … . Former Cuban political prisoners have testified to being tortured by Cuban officials … further condemned the expulsion of Cuban diplomats as “eminently political” and … Continue reading
Mario Lleonart, 29 September 2017 — The regime is already starting to unleash its blind fury over the U.S. government’s decision in response to the dictatorship’s inescapable and treacherous complicity in the attack on its diplomats. Iván Hernández Carrillo was visited this morning by a bailiff of the Municipal Tribunal of Colón, who delivered an official summons … Continue reading "The Cuban Regime Begins Slapping Its Tail On Dissidents In Response To U.S. Decision / Mario Lleonart" Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 29 August 2017 — Five opposition organizations have withdrawn from the coalition of more than seventy independent groups that form the Democratic Action Roundatable (MUAD), as well as the #Otro18 (another 2018) campaign, which is demanding a new electoral law in Cuba. The split has become “irreversible” according to comments from the veteran dissident … Continue reading "Five Cuban Opposition Organizations Break With MUAD and #Otro18" Continue reading
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 2 August 2017 — The Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) is celebrating its six years in the midst of the complicated situation faced by the island’s opposition, assaulted by repression and limited by laws that penalize any form of organized dissidence. Under the leadership of José Daniel Ferrer, UNPACU was born in … Continue reading "Opposition Organization UNPACU Turns Six In Very Difficult Circumstances" Continue reading
… member of any Cuban dissident or pro-democracy organization—the Cuban government did … ship came to shore in Havana. At the time, Llorente brought … without a trial, indefinitely. The Cuban regime has become significantly more … number of political prisoners in Cuba doubled between April 2016 and … Continue reading
Havana, August 12 (RHC-PL) --   The Cuban Parliament's Friendship Group … .    In a statement, issued Friday, Cuban deputies urged the release of … . The statement issued by the Cuban parliamentary friendship group  states that … Continue reading
… he’d received from Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Russia. Maduro has … much of your sovereignty to Cuba,” said Rubio, a Florida Republican … Continue reading
… building democracies in Venezuela and Cuba, despite President Trump’s budget … funding for the programs in Cuba and Venezuela entirely. “The promotion … support for the Venezuelan and Cuban people.” “Now is the time … to political prisoners in Cuba and help train Cuban dissidents to document … Continue reading
Cuba's Raul Castro dismisses harsher US tone under Trump
- Castro's comments to Cuba's National Assembly were his first on
Trump's June announcement of a partial rollback of the Cuba-U.S. detente
- He also rejected any "lessons" on human rights from the U.S., saying
his country "has a lot to be proud about" on the issue
The Associated Press

Cuban President Raul Castro denounced President Donald Trump's tougher
line on relations with Havana on Friday, calling it a setback but
promising to continue working to normalize ties between the former Cold
War rivals.

Castro's comments to Cuba's National Assembly were his first on Trump's
June announcement of a partial rollback of the Cuba-U.S. detente
achieved by then-President Barack Obama. They contained echoes of the
harsh rhetoric of the past.

"Any strategy that seeks to destroy the revolution either through
coercion or pressure or through more subtle methods will fail," Cuba's
president told legislators.

He also rejected any "lessons" on human rights from the U.S., saying his
country "has a lot to be proud about" on the issue.

Surrounded by Cuban-American exiles and Cuban dissidents in Miami, Trump
announced last month that the U.S. would impose new limits on U.S.
travelers to the island and ban any payments to the military-linked
conglomerate that controls much of the island's tourism industry. He
said the U.S. would consider lifting those and other restrictions only
after Cuba returned fugitives and made a series of other internal
changes including freeing political prisoners, allowing freedom of
assembly and holding free elections.

Trump's policy retained elements of Obama's reforms but tightened
restrictions on travel and employed harsh rhetoric on human rights.

On Friday in Washington, the Trump administration said it was suspending
for another six months a provision of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

The State Department said it told Congress that it will keep suspending
a provision of the Helms-Burton Act that deals with property seized from
Americans. The provision lets Americans use U.S. courts to sue
non-American companies that operate and deal with property confiscated
after Fidel Castro's revolution.

Speaking to the National Assembly, Castro called the Trump
administration's policies a "setback," though he reiterated his
government's position that it would work to normalize relations with
Washington.

Earlier in the legislative session, Economy Minister Ricardo Cabrisas
announced that Cuba's economy is growing again after a dip last year.

Cabrisas said the economy grew around 1 percent in the first half of
2017. That puts GDP growth on track to hit 2 percent for the year.

The government said the economy shrank last year by 1 percent amid
falling support from troubled Venezuela. That was the first decrease
reported in two decades. Cabrisas said that instability in the supply of
Venezuelan oil weighs on the country but tourism, construction,
transportation and communications were growing.

Foreign media did not have access to the National Assembly session.

Source: Cuba's Raul Castro dismisses harsher US tone under Trump -
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/15/cubas-raul-castro-dismisses-harsher-us-tone-under-trump.html Continue reading
Cuba policy change: Poultry exports could be impacted
By Mary Sell Montgomery Bureau Jun 25, 2017

MONTGOMERY – Agriculture officials and industry leaders in Alabama for
years have lobbied for expanded exports to socialist Cuba, a country
where they see a promising market for the state's poultry products.

Now they're waiting to see what President Donald Trump's recent, more
restrictive policy change with Cuba will mean for the millions of tons
of poultry that leave Mobile for the island nation every month.

Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan last week said exports to
Cuba could be impacted by that country's response to the president's
directive.

"Particularly, with Raul Castro stepping down in early '18," McMillan
said. "We're going to be anxious to see what the Cuban government's
policy is going to be.

"If something undesirable happens there, that would be on the Cuba
side," he said. "We hope that doesn't happen."

Earlier this month, Trump said the U.S. would impose new limits on U.S.
travelers to the island, and ban any payments to the military-linked
conglomerate that controls much of the island's tourism industry, the
Associated Press reported.

Trump also declared "the harboring of criminals and fugitives will end.
You have no choice. It will end."

He said the U.S. would consider lifting those and other restrictions
only after Cuba returned fugitives and made a series of other internal
changes, including freeing political prisoners, allowing freedom of
assembly, and holding free elections.

Cuba's foreign minister later rejected the policy change, saying, "We
will never negotiate under pressure or under threat." He also said Cuba
refuses to return U.S. fugitives who have received asylum in Cuba.

About 7 million tons of poultry are shipped from the Port of Mobile each
month to Cuba. But Cuba has other options for importing agriculture
products, McMillan said, including Mexico, South America and Canada.

"They have choices. Some of those choices may be more expensive, that
may be our advantage," said McMillan, who has taken multiple trips to
Cuba and advocated for expanded agriculture exports.

There are human rights violations in China, but no one is cutting off
trade there, McMillan said.

"The bottom line, I think, is that the best way to format change down
there is to continue trade with them," he said.

Armando de Quesada of Hartselle disagrees. He was 10 when he fled Cuba
in 1962. On this issue, he agrees with Trump.

"Any dollars that go to Cuba automatically go to the Castro regime,"
Quesada said. "It's not like here. Over there, the government owns
everything. There's no benefit to the Cuban people."

Growth of private industry is limited, and Quesada doesn't think opening
relations between the two countries will effect change.

"I don't think enriching them helps the cause of freedom," he said. "It
doesn't help the people."

Ag shipments to Cuba weren't part of former President Barack Obama's
policy with the socialist country. In 2000, Congress began allowing a
limited amount of agriculture exports to Cuba.

"We've been trading with them for some time," said Johnny Adams,
executive director of the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association. While
Obama made it easier, it's still cumbersome, he said.

"We're not allowed to give them credit. They have to pay us up front
through a third party," Adams said. "Normalizing trade would make it a
lot easier."

Like McMillan, Adams has been to Cuba multiple times.

"We have the highest quality, most reasonably priced poultry in the
world and we're 90 miles away," Adams said.

"Hopefully, everyone can sit down and work things out between the two
countries," Adams said. "We've enjoyed our relationship with the Cuban
people, and would like to see it get better."

Source: Cuba policy change: Poultry exports could be impacted | State
Capital | timesdaily.com -
http://www.timesdaily.com/news/state-capital/cuba-policy-change-poultry-exports-could-be-impacted/article_b5b4e281-978f-5f8c-bf8d-79e2643e2440.html Continue reading
Commentary: The real reason Trump wanted Cuba restrictions
OPINION By Jonathan C. Brown - Special to the American-Statesman
LYNNE SLADKY
Posted: 4:00 p.m. Saturday, June 24, 2017

President Donald Trump's reversal of his predecessor's Cuban policies
proves once again that all politics are local. The White House says that
the regime of Raúl Castro should reform its own political structure,
become more democratic and release political prisoners. However, the
U.S. does not impose these broad internal reforms on other nations such
as Russia and Saudi Arabia. Why treat Cuba differently?
Only one American serviceman has died confronting Havana. He was an Air
Force pilot shot down in Cuban airspace during the 1962 missile crisis.
On the other hand, Washington has renewed political and trade relations
with the autocratic regimes in China and Vietnam despite their armed
forces having killed thousands of American soldiers in the Korean and
Vietnamese wars.

Washington continues to punish Cuba because of U.S. domestic politics.
Nearly a million refugees fled from Cuba since 1959, and most settled in
South Florida. Those who came for political reasons formed a powerful
lobby that has been instrumental in the making of every Republican
president from Richard Nixon to, yes, Trump. Republican Party debts
remain more important in the U.S. relationship with Cuba than the
island's actual behavior on the international scene.

Here is where domestic politics enters the equation. Punishing Cuba
satisfies only one dwindling constituency in this nation — Cuban
refugees mainly from the first two decades of the revolution. U.S. Rep.
Mario Díaz-Balart — who stood prominently at Trump's side as he signed
the renewed restrictions — serves as a case in point.

In the 1950s, the congressman's father, Rafael Díaz-Balart, served as
Fulgencio Batista's deputy minister of the interior, the ministry
responsible for internal security and running the prisons. Rafael
Díaz-Balart and other officers of Batista's dictatorship fled from Cuba
during the first weeks of the Cuban Revolution in January 1959.

What is more, the elder Díaz-Balart's sons have family ties to the
Castros. Mario and his brother Lincoln, the ex-U.S. congressman from
South Florida, are cousins of Fidel Castro's first-born son, Fidelito,
who remains loyal to the revolution. They owe this family link to their
aunt, Mirta Díaz-Balart, who married Fidel before he began his rebellion
against the Batista regime. The couple divorced in 1954 while Fidel was
spending time in brother-in-law Rafael's prisons.

This first wave of pro-Batista refugees established several anti-Castro
movements in the Miami and New York areas as early as 1959. Soon
thereafter, they were joined in exile by a massive wave of politicos who
had opposed Batista along with Fidel but found themselves pushed aside
as Castro's guerrilla revolutionaries seized control of most
governmental institutions. Among the refugees were Catholic activists
and middle-class youths from the universities whose departure from Cuba
by the thousands was financed by the CIA and other U.S. agencies. For
more than a half century they have been taking their revenge on those
countrymen who remained with Fidel.

By 1981, the most politicized of these two groups — the Batistianos and
the exiled moderate revolutionists — joined together in the Cuban
American National Foundation (CANF).

Modeled on pro-Israeli Jewish groups, the CANF dedicated itself to
lobbying the U.S. government to tighten restrictions on American travel
and trade with Cuba. The foundation raised money for political
candidates mainly but not exclusively from the Republican Party who
promised no quarter for Castro's communist dictatorship. Their effective
anti-communist campaign lasted well beyond the fall of Fidel's chief
benefactor, the Soviet Union.

Yet, Fidel did not fall. Fidel was able to rule for 47 years, retire
peacefully and leave power to his brother.

Trump's directive will achieve two out of three of its intentions. 1) It
will reduce U.S. investments and tourism in Cuba. 2) It will satisfy the
resentments of the first generation Cuban-Americans for the loss of
their homeland to the revolutionaries; in gratitude, they will support
the president's re-election in 2020.

But the new Cuba policy will not promote democracy on the island but
reinforce autocracy at the expense of the average Cuban's well-being.
This has been the legacy of the U.S. economic blockade of the past 60 years.

Brown is a professor of history at the University of Texas.

Source: Commentary: The real reason Trump wanted Cuba restrictions -
http://www.mystatesman.com/news/opinion/commentary-the-real-reason-trump-wanted-cuba-restrictions/hAIPJBqNcqdk9fw7G7o28K/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 20 June 2017 — The recent decision by the president of the United States to limit commercial relations with Cuban companies controlled by the military highlights a rarely explored corner of the national reality. Anyone who knows the Island minimally knows that there is nothing like what can be called a … Continue reading "Trump, The Military And The Division Of Powers In Cuba" Continue reading
… relations with Cuba, which he is against. "I am Cuban but … in 1996 by the Cuban government. When Cuba's opposition leaders … de Cuba, a Tampa organization made up primarily of former Cuban political prisoners. Rafael Pizano, a spokesman for Casa de CubaContinue reading
… with the EU, including Slovakia, Cuban Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodriguez … :Slovakia inks agreement on settling Cuban debt Relations are “cordial” Slovak-Cuban … reforms recently taking place in Cuba, including pardons for political prisoners … Continue reading
Trump Rolls Back 'Completely One-Sided' Cuba Policy
By TERESA FRONTADO & NANCY KLINGENER & ADRIANNE GONZALEZ & HOLLY PRETSKY
& ISABELLA CUETO • JUN 16, 2017

President Donald Trump Friday announced new restrictions on travel and
business with Cuba, reversing some of the relaxed new relations
instituted two years ago by President Barack Obama.

"Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration's
completely one-sided deal with Cuba," Trump said.

"It's hard to think of a policy that makes less sense than the prior
administration's terrible deal with the Castro regime," he said "They
made a deal with a government that spreads violence and instability in
the region."

"Our policy will seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and the
United States of America," he said. "Our new policy begins with strictly
enforcing U.S. law."

He also called for the release of political prisoners and the scheduling
of free elections.

"We will enforce the ban on tourism. We will enforce the embargo," he said.

"We now hold the cards. The previous administration's easing of
restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people. They
only enrich the Cuban regime," he said. "The profits from investment and
tourism flowed directly to the military."

The new moves primarily affect anyone doing business with the Cuban
military, which controls some of the major tourism infrastructure in the
country, as well as individual travelers who were able to visit the
country more freely under "people-to-people" exchanges.

Trump announced the changes in front of a supportive crowd at the Manuel
Artime Theater in the heart of Little Havana. The theater is named in
honor of a leader of Brigade 2506, who participated in the Bay of Pigs
invasion of Cuba in April 1961.

"We will work for the day when a new generation of leaders brings this
long reign of suffering to an end," Trump said. "And I do believe that
end is in the very near future."

He challenged Cuba to "come to the table" for a new agreement that was
in the best interest "of their people and our people and also
Cuban-Americans."

"Stop jailing innocent people. Open yourselves to political and economic
freedoms," he said. "Return the fugitives of American justice."

"When Cuba is ready to take concrete steps to these ends, we will be
ready willing and able to come to the table to negotiate that much
better deal for Cubans and Americans," he said. "Our embassy remains
open in the hope that our countries can forge a much stronger and better
path."

Praise from Florida politicians

Sen. Marco Rubio praised his onetime rival for the Republican
Presidential nomination.

"You will no longer have to endure the spectacle of an American
president doing the wave with a ruthless dictator in a baseball game,"
Rubio said, referring to Obama's historic visit to Cuba last year.

"This sends a strong message," Rubio said. "We will work with the people
of Cuba but we will not empower their oppressors."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott also praised Trump's changed position.

"Today we have a president that understands America must stand for
freedom," Scott said. He said Obama's deal with Cuba was "a capitulation."

Trump's new directive leaves many of the Obama-era policies unchanged.
The new embassies in Cuba and Washington, D.C. will remain open and the
wet-foot dry-foot policy will not be reinstated. Cuban-Americans will
continue to be able to travel to the island and send remittances to
their families still in Cuba.

The crowd at the theater in Little Havana were appreciative of Trump.
Fermin Vazquez was born in Cuba and has been a U.S. citizen for 40
years. He arrived at 6:45 a.m. to be first in line. "I would follow
Trump everywhere," he said.

At Versailles, the restaurant on Calle Ocho that has become a
traditional gathering point when Cuba is in the national news, some
exiles passionately debated the U.S. policy toward the island:

Oswaldo Inguanzo, 80, a veteran from Brigade 2506, was part of the group
that met with candidate Trump last year to discuss Cuba and America's
approach to the island.

"The Brigade had never supported a presidential candidate before," he
said. "But we sent two letters, one to the then-President Obama, who
didn't even acknowledge us, and the other to Trump, who immediately
accepted."

"He didn't disappoint me," Inguanzo said after Trump's speech. "I felt
he was sincere, so I came here today to see that he fulfills his promise."

Outside near the theater, people began gathering hours before Trump
arrived. Some waited out the rain under awnings and overhangs. Others
allowed themselves to be soaked.

'The Cuban people are the ones that are going to be harmed'

Marla Recio said she has a business in Cuba called Havana Reverie. It
organizes weddings, birthday parties and corporate events for visiting
Americans in Cuba.

"If he decreases travel and cuts that out completely, that means the end
of my business. I'll have to do something else in another different
industry. Right now, most of Cuban entrepreneurs are relying a lot on
American visitors," she said. "The Cuban people are the ones that are
going to be harmed, the ones that are going to suffer. And all of the
families that depend on those businesses."

Ernesto Medina is with the People's Progressive Caucus of Miami-Dade.

"I think what President Trump is doing, rolling back the policy that
President Obama implemented, it's going to hurt business in Cuba," he
said. "A lot of jobs have been created in the private sector to serve
the people traveling to Cuba. That increases the prosperity of the Cuban
people, which is what we all should want to the Cubans."

Medina said he also objects to what he called the "hypocrisy" of
Republicans who tout the benefits of small government.

"Now they're going to be scrutinizing every single American citizen that
travels to Cuba, to see which category they fall under to go there," he
said. "This is an infringement of personal freedoms. We should be able
to travel anywhere we want."

'More of a politician that what we expected'

Some of those gathered outside the theater supported Trump. But Laura
Vianello, a Cuban exile who has lived in Miami since 1960, said she
wished he was doing more.

"I noticed that Trump has become more of a politician than what we
expected from him — to be himself," she said. "We really liked the man
because he has a mind of his own, but we expected more."

Across the street, an anti-Trump protester disagreed.

Bernardo Guitierrez, 70, was also born in Cuba. He said Obama's policies
had helped Cubans.

"I visit Cuba because I still have family there, and I know they're
doing much better," he said. "Little by little, but better."

Cuban exiles also gathered at some of the restaurants on Calle Ocho that
have become synonymous with Little Havana. Jorge Naranja was at
Versailles. He said he voted for Trump in November — but he doesn't
think the policy changes announced on Friday will lead to meaningful
change in Cuba.

He came from Cuba in 1994 and he hasn't been back since, because he
thinks any kind of travel there will just "inject money into the
system," he said.

He said he'd like to see the U.S. either close the door completely to
Cuba, or open up 100 percent if it gets a good offer from the Cuban
government — but he doesn't expect that to happen.

Source: Trump Rolls Back 'Completely One-Sided' Cuba Policy | WLRN -
http://wlrn.org/post/trump-rolls-back-completely-one-sided-cuba-policy?nopop=1 Continue reading
Cuba Won't Negotiate Trump's New Policy
At a Monday news conference, the nation's foreign minister called the
latest deal "a grotesque spectacle straight from the Cold War."
ARIA BENDIX JUN 19, 2017 NEWS

Speaking at a news conference in Vienna, Austria on Monday, Cuba's
foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, said his nation was not interested in
negotiating with the Trump administration over a newly-proposed policy
to limit tourism and trade to the island. Cuba "will never negotiate
under pressure or under threat," Rodriquez said, while also refusing to
return U.S. fugitives to whom Cuba has granted asylum. "Cuba conceded
political asylum or refuge to U.S. fighters for civil rights," Rodriguez
said. "These persons will not be returned to the United States."

At a Friday speech in Miami's Little Havana district, President Trump
announced he was "canceling the last administration's completely
one-sided deal with Cuba" in an effort to undermine the nation's current
regime, led by President Raúl Castro. "With God's help," Trump said, "a
free Cuba is what we will soon achieve." While many of the specifics
have yet to be worked out, the new policy intends to reinstate travel
restrictions that were loosened under the Obama administration. The
policy also aims to prevent U.S. companies from doing business with
Cuba's Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA)— a conglomerate
tied to many sectors of Cuba's economy, including tourism.

On Friday, Trump said the deal could be subject to negotiation—with the
exception of a few key demands. "To the Cuban government, I say, put an
end to the abuse of dissidents, release the political prisoners, stop
jailing innocent people, open yourselves to political and economic
freedoms, [and] return the fugitives from American justice," Trump said.
"When Cuba is ready to take concrete steps to these ends, we will be
ready, willing, and able to come to the table to negotiate that much
better deal for Cubans, for Americans."

Trump also used his speech to call for the return of "the cop–killer
Joanne Chesimard," otherwise known as Assata Shakur. Chesimard, a black
nationalist, was granted asylum in Cuba in 1984 after receiving a life
sentence for the death of a New Jersey state trooper. On Monday,
Rodriquez directly responded to Trump's order, arguing that the U.S. had
no "legal or moral basis" to demand Chesimard's return or that of any
other U.S. fugitive.

While Cuba has previously expressed a willingness to negotiate bilateral
issues with the Trump administration, their tone changed dramatically
with the unveiling of the new policy on Friday. The Castro government
has since released a statement saying that the U.S. is "not in the
condition to lecture us" on human rights abuses, citing the GOP health
care plan and police brutality as examples of the U.S.'s own violations.
Rodriquez reinforced this message on Monday, stating that "Cuba will
make no concessions on its sovereignty and its independence, will not
negotiate over its principles, and will never accept [imposed] conditions."

While Rodriquez admitted that Trump's new policy "will wreak economic
damage" on Cuban companies and private sector workers, he argued that it
would only serve to further unite his government. Rodriquez also noted
that U.S. companies and citizens would suffer from limited economic and
cultural exchange with Cuba. Indeed, this very thinking motivated the
Obama administration to open the lines of trade and communication with
Cuba in 2014, following a 50-year-old embargo that did little to improve
conditions in the nation. As a result, the administration paved the way
for major companies like Airbnb and Starwood to access the Cuban market,
while spurring entrepreneurship among Cuban citizens.

Trump's new policy threatens to stymie this growth while placing
high-level U.S.-Cuba negotiations on the chopping block. With Rodriquez
now calling Trump's policy "a grotesque spectacle straight from the Cold
War," it seems the lines of dialogue between top U.S. and Cuban
officials have already begun to close—and, with them, the chance to
witness the long-term results of improved diplomatic relations.

Source: Cuba Won't Negotiate Trump's New Policy - The Atlantic -
https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2017/06/cuba-wont-negotiate-trumps-new-policy/530847/ Continue reading
Trump rolls back some, not all, changes in US-Cuba relations
Darlene Superville, Michael Weissenstein and Josh Lederman, Associated
Press, Associated Press • June 17, 2017

MIAMI (AP) -- Pressing "pause" on a historic detente, President Donald
Trump thrust the U.S. and Cuba back on a path toward open hostility with
a blistering denunciation of the island's communist government. He
clamped down on some commerce and travel but left intact many new
avenues President Barack Obama had opened.

The Cuban government responded by rejecting what it called Trump's
"hostile rhetoric." Still, Cuba said it is willing to continue
"respectful dialogue" with on topics of mutual interest.

Even as Trump predicted a quick end to President Raul Castro's regime,
he challenged Cuba to negotiate better agreements for Americans, Cubans
and those whose identities lie somewhere in between. Diplomatic
relations, restored only two years ago, will remain intact. But, in a
shift from Obama's approach, Trump said trade and other penalties would
stay in place until a long list of prerequisites was met.

"America has rejected the Cuban people's oppressors," Trump said Friday
in Miami's Little Havana, the cradle of Cuban-American resistance to
Castro's government. "Officially, today, they are rejected."

Declaring Obama's pact with Castro a "completely one-sided deal," Trump
said he was canceling it. In practice, however, many recent changes to
boost ties to Cuba will stay as they are. Trump cast that as a sign the
U.S. still wanted to engage with Cuba in hopes of forging "a much
stronger and better path."

In a statement released Friday evening on government-run websites and
television, Cuban President Raul Castro's administration said Trump's
speech was "loaded with hostile rhetoric that recalls the times of open
confrontation."

The lengthy statement went on to strike a conciliatory tone, saying Cuba
wants to continue negotiations with the U.S. on a variety of subjects.
"The last two years have shown that the two countries can cooperate and
coexist in a civilized way," it said.

Embassies in Havana and Washington will remain open. U.S. airlines and
cruise ships will still be allowed to serve the island 90 miles south of
Florida. The "wet foot, dry foot" policy, which once let most Cuban
migrants stay if they made it to U.S. soil but was terminated under
Obama, will remain terminated. Remittances from people in America to
Cubans won't be cut off.

But individual "people-to-people" trips by Americans to Cuba, allowed by
Obama for the first time in decades, will again be prohibited. And the
U.S. government will police other trips to ensure travelers are pursuing
a "full-time schedule of educational exchange activities."

The changes won't go into effect until new documents laying out details
are issued. Once implemented Trump's policy is expected to curtail U.S.
travel by creating a maze of rules for Americans to obey. The policy
bans most financial transactions with a yet-unreleased list of entities
associated with Cuba's military and state security, including a
conglomerate that dominates much of Cuba's economy, such as many hotels,
state-run restaurants and tour buses.

Surrounded by Florida Republican officials, the president was unabashed
about the political overtones of his election victory and Friday's
announcement:

"You went out and you voted, and here I am, like I promised."

Cheered by Cuba hardliners in both parties, Trump's new policy is
broadly opposed by U.S. businesses eager to invest in Cuba.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, typically supportive of GOP presidents,
predicted the changes would limit prospects for "positive change on the
island," while Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., said Trump's policy was
"misguided" and will hurt the U.S. economically.

Trump's declaration in a crowded, sweltering auditorium was a direct
rebuke to Obama, for whom the diplomatic opening with Cuba was a central
accomplishment of his presidency.

Yet it also exposed the shortcomings in Obama's approach.

Unable to persuade Congress to lift the decades-old trade embargo, Obama
had used his power to adjust the rules that implement the embargo to
expand built-in loopholes. Obama and his aides argued that commerce and
travel between the countries, which has blossomed since he relaxed the
rules, would make his policy irreversible.

Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security adviser who negotiated
Obama's opening with the Cubans, said it was disappointing Trump was
halting the momentum that had built but added that it could have been worse.

"This is a limitation on what we did, not a reversal of what we did,"
Rhodes said in an interview.

For Cubans, the shift risks stifling a nascent middle class that has
started to rise as Americans have flocked to the island on airlines,
patronizing thousands of private bed-and-breakfasts.

"When he's cutting back on travel, he's hurting us, the Cuban
entrepreneurs," said Camilo Diaz, a 44-year-old waiter in a restaurant
in Havana. "We're the ones who are hurt."

Granma, the official organ of Cuba's Communist Party, described Trump's
declarations in real-time blog coverage Friday as "a return to
imperialist rhetoric and unilateral demands." Cuba's government may not
formally respond to Trump's speech until a speech Monday by its foreign
minister.

The Castro government is certain to reject Trump's list of demands,
which includes releasing political prisoners, halting what the U.S. says
is abuse of dissidents and allowing greater freedom of expression.
Refusing to negotiate domestic reforms in exchange for U.S. concessions
is perhaps the most fundamental plank of Cuba's policy toward the U.S.

Cuba functioned as a virtual U.S. colony for much of the 20th century,
and even reform-minded Cubans are highly sensitive to perceived U.S.
infringements on national sovereignty. Trump, on the other hand,
described his move as an effort to bring about a "free Cuba" after more
than half a century of communism.

"I do believe that end is in the very near future," he said.

Cuba's 1,470-word statement Friday night labeled Trump a hypocrite for
calling on Cuba to improve human rights, saying the U.S. government "is
threatening more limits on health care that would leave 23 million
people without insurance ... and marginalizes immigrants and refugees,
particular those from Islamic countries."

The statement reiterates Cuba's commitment to "the necessary changes
that we're making now as part of the updating of our socio-economic
model," but says "they will continue being decided in a sovereign way by
the Cuban people."

The U.S. severed ties with Cuba in 1961 after Fidel Castro's revolution,
and spent decades trying to either overthrow the government or isolate
the island, including by toughening an economic embargo first imposed by
President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Obama announced in December 2014 that he and Castro were restoring ties.
Less than a year later, the U.S. Embassy in Havana re-opened, and Obama
paid a historic visit to Havana in 2016.

___

Weissenstein reported from Havana and Lederman from Washington.

Source: Trump rolls back some, not all, changes in US-Cuba relations -
https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-rolls-back-not-changes-us-cuba-relations-073828473--politics.html Continue reading
Cuba Says President Trump's Speech Was 'Loaded With Hostile Rhetoric'
Associated Press
8:39 AM ET

(WASHINGTON) — The Cuban government is rejecting what it calls the
"hostile rhetoric" of President Donald Trump's speech announcing a new
U.S. policy toward the island, but says it is willing to continue
"respectful dialogue" with the U.S. on topics of mutual interest.
In a statement released on government-run websites and television Friday
evening, President Raul Castro's administration says Trump's speech was
"loaded with hostile rhetoric that recalls the times of open confrontation."
The lengthy statement goes on to strike a conciliatory tone, saying Cuba
wants to continue negotiations with the U.S. on a variety of subjects.
Cuba says "the last two years have shown that the two countries can
cooperate and coexist in a civilized way."
Trump announced a series of changes to the Obama-era Cuba policy and is
challenging the Cuban government to negotiate a better deal.
Trump said in a speech in Miami that the U.S. will not lift sanctions on
Cuba until it releases all political prisoners and respects the Cuban
people's right to freedom of assembly and expression.
Trump is also calling for the legalization of all political parties, and
free and internationally supervised elections.
The president says his new policy will also restrict the flow of
American dollars to the military, security and intelligence services
that are the core of the government led by Raul Castro.He has challenged
Cuba to "come to the table" to strike a deal that serves both country's
interests.

Source: Cuba Rejects Donald Trump's 'Hostile Rhetoric' | Time.com -
http://time.com/4822663/donald-trump-cuba-policy-raul-castro/ Continue reading
National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of
the United States Toward Cuba

MEMORANDUM FOR THE VICE PRESIDENT
THE SECRETARY OF STATE
THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR
THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE
THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE
THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
THE SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION
THE SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY
THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
THE DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OF STAFF
THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT
AND BUDGET
THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR
NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS
THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR
HOMELAND SECURITY AND COUNTERTERRORISM
THE COUNSEL TO THE PRESIDENT
THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT
FOR ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF SCIENCE
AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY
THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNITED STATES
TO THE UNITED NATIONS
THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE SMALL BUSINESS
ADMINISTRATION
THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE UNITED STATES AGENCY
FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF PERSONNEL
MANAGEMENT

Section 1. Purpose.

The United States recognizes the need for more freedom and democracy,
improved respect for human rights, and increased free enterprise in
Cuba. The Cuban people have long suffered under a Communist regime that
suppresses their legitimate aspirations for freedom and prosperity and
fails to respect their essential human dignity.

My Administration's policy will be guided by the national security and
foreign policy interests of the United States, as well as solidarity
with the Cuban people. I will seek to promote a stable, prosperous, and
free country for the Cuban people. To that end, we must channel funds
toward the Cuban people and away from a regime that has failed to meet
the most basic requirements of a free and just society.

In Cuba, dissidents and peaceful protesters are arbitrarily detained and
held in terrible prison conditions. Violence and intimidation against
dissidents occurs with impunity. Families of political prisoners are
not allowed to assemble or peacefully protest the improper confinement
of their loved ones. Worshippers are harassed, and free association by
civil society organizations is blocked. The right to speak freely,
including through access to the internet, is denied, and there is no
free press. The United States condemns these abuses.

The initial actions set forth in this memorandum, including restricting
certain financial transactions and travel, encourage the Cuban
government to address these abuses. My Administration will continue to
evaluate its policies so as to improve human rights, encourage the rule
of law, foster free markets and free enterprise, and promote democracy
in Cuba.

Sec. 2. Policy.

It shall be the policy of the executive branch to:

(a) End economic practices that disproportionately benefit the
Cuban government or its military, intelligence, or security agencies or
personnel at the expense of the Cuban people.

(b) Ensure adherence to the statutory ban on tourism to Cuba.

(c) Support the economic embargo of Cuba described in section
4(7) of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of
1996 (the embargo), including by opposing measures that call for an end
to the embargo at the United Nations and other international forums and
through regular reporting on whether the conditions of a transition
government exist in Cuba.

(d) Amplify efforts to support the Cuban people through the
expansion of internet services, free press, free enterprise, free
association, and lawful travel.

(e) Not reinstate the "Wet Foot, Dry Foot" policy, which
encouraged untold thousands of Cuban nationals to risk their lives to
travel unlawfully to the United States.

(f) Ensure that engagement between the United States and Cuba
advances the interests of the United States and the Cuban people. These
interests include: advancing Cuban human rights; encouraging the growth
of a Cuban private sector independent of government control; enforcing
final orders of removal against Cuban nationals in the United States;
protecting the national security and public health and safety of the
United States, including through proper engagement on criminal cases and
working to ensure the return of fugitives from American justice living
in Cuba or being harbored by the Cuban government; supporting United
States agriculture and protecting plant and animal health; advancing the
understanding of the United States regarding scientific and
environmental challenges; and facilitating safe civil aviation.

Sec. 3. Implementation.

The heads of departments and agencies shall begin to implement the
policy set forth in section 2 of this memorandum as follows:

(a) Within 30 days of the date of this memorandum, the Secretary
of the Treasury and the Secretary of Commerce, as appropriate and in
coordination with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of
Transportation, shall initiate a process to adjust current regulations
regarding transactions with Cuba.

(i) As part of the regulatory changes described in this
subsection, the Secretary of State shall identify the entities or
subentities, as appropriate, that are under the control of, or act for
or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services
or personnel (such as Grupo de Administracion Empresarial S.A. (GAESA),
its affiliates, subsidiaries, and successors), and publish a list of
those identified entities and subentities with which direct financial
transactions would disproportionately benefit such services or personnel
at the expense of the Cuban people or private enterprise in Cuba.

(ii) Except as provided in subsection (a)(iii) of this
section, the regulatory changes described in this subsection shall
prohibit direct financial transactions with those entities or
subentities on the list published pursuant to subsection (a)(i) of this
section.

(iii) The regulatory changes shall not prohibit
transactions that the Secretary of the Treasury or the Secretary of
Commerce, in coordination with the Secretary of State, determines are
consistent with the policy set forth in section 2 of this memorandum and:

(A) concern Federal Government operations, including
Naval Station Guantanamo Bay and the United States mission in Havana;

(B) support programs to build democracy in Cuba;

(C) concern air and sea operations that support
permissible travel, cargo, or trade;

(D) support the acquisition of visas for permissible
travel;

(E) support the expansion of direct
telecommunications and internet access for the Cuban people;

(F) support the sale of agricultural commodities,
medicines, and medical devices sold to Cuba consistent with the Trade
Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7201 et
seq.) and the Cuban Democracy Act of 2002 (22 U.S.C. 6001 et seq.);

(G) relate to sending, processing, or receiving
authorized remittances;

(H) otherwise further the national security or
foreign policy interests of the United States; or

(I) are required by law.

(b) Within 30 days of the date of this memorandum, the Secretary
of the Treasury, in coordination with the Secretary of State, shall
initiate a process to adjust current regulations to ensure adherence to
the statutory ban on tourism to Cuba.

(i) The amended regulations shall require that
educational travel be for legitimate educational purposes. Except for
educational travel that was permitted by regulation in effect on January
27, 2011, all educational travel shall be under the auspices of an
organization subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and all
such travelers must be accompanied by a representative of the sponsoring
organization.

(ii) The regulations shall further require that those
traveling for the permissible purposes of non academic education or to
provide support for the Cuban people:

(A) engage in a full-time schedule of activities that
enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or
promote the Cuban people's independence from Cuban authorities; and

(B) meaningfully interact with individuals in Cuba.

(iii) The regulations shall continue to provide that every
person engaging in travel to Cuba shall keep full and accurate records
of all transactions related to authorized travel, regardless of whether
they were effected pursuant to license or otherwise, and such records
shall be available for examination by the Department of the Treasury for
at least 5 years after the date they occur.
(iv) The Secretary of State, the Secretary of the
Treasury, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Secretary of Transportation
shall review their agency's enforcement of all categories of permissible
travel within 90 days of the date the regulations described in this
subsection are finalized to ensure such enforcement accords with the
policies outlined in section 2 of this memorandum.

(c) The Secretary of the Treasury shall regularly audit travel
to Cuba to ensure that travelers are complying with relevant statutes
and regulations. The Secretary of the Treasury shall request that the
Inspector General of the Department of the Treasury inspect the
activities taken by the Department of the Treasury to implement this
audit requirement. The Inspector General of the Department of the
Treasury shall provide a report to the President, through the Secretary
of the Treasury, summarizing the results of that inspection within 180
days of the adjustment of current regulations described in subsection
(b) of this section and annually thereafter.

(d) The Secretary of the Treasury shall adjust the Department of
the Treasury's current regulation defining the term "prohibited
officials of the Government of Cuba" so that, for purposes of title 31,
part 515 of the Code of Federal Regulations, it includes Ministers and
Vice-Ministers, members of the Council of State and the Council of
Ministers; members and employees of the National Assembly of People's
Power; members of any provincial assembly; local sector chiefs of the
Committees for the Defense of the Revolution; Director Generals and
sub–Director Generals and higher of all Cuban ministries and state
agencies; employees of the Ministry of the Interior (MININT); employees
of the Ministry of Defense (MINFAR); secretaries and first secretaries
of the Confederation of Labor of Cuba (CTC) and its component unions;
chief editors, editors, and deputy editors of Cuban state-run media
organizations and programs, including newspapers, television, and radio;
and members and employees of the Supreme Court (Tribuno Supremo Nacional).

(e) The Secretary of State and the Representative of the United
States to the United Nations shall oppose efforts at the United Nations
or (with respect to the Secretary of State) any other international
forum to lift the embargo until a transition government in Cuba, as
described in section 205 of the LIBERTAD Act, exists.

(f) The Secretary of State, in coordination with the Attorney
General, shall provide a report to the President assessing whether and
to what degree the Cuban government has satisfied the requirements of a
transition government as described in section 205(a) of the LIBERTAD
Act, taking into account the additional factors listed in section 205(b)
of that Act. This report shall include a review of human rights abuses
committed against the Cuban people, such as unlawful detentions,
arbitrary arrests, and inhumane treatment.

(g) The Attorney General shall, within 90 days of the date of
this memorandum, issue a report to the President on issues related to
fugitives from American justice living in Cuba or being harbored by the
Cuban government.

(h) The Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United
States Agency for International Development shall review all democracy
development programs of the Federal Government in Cuba to ensure that
they align with the criteria set forth in section 109(a) of the LIBERTAD
Act.

(i) The Secretary of State shall convene a task force, composed
of relevant departments and agencies, including the Office of Cuba
Broadcasting, and appropriate non-governmental organizations and
private-sector entities, to examine the technological challenges and
opportunities for expanding internet access in Cuba, including through
Federal Government support of programs and activities that encourage
freedom of expression through independent media and internet freedom so
that the Cuban people can enjoy the free and unregulated flow of
information.

(j) The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland
Security shall continue to discourage dangerous, unlawful migration that
puts Cuban and American lives at risk. The Secretary of Defense shall
continue to provide support, as necessary, to the Department of State
and the Department of Homeland Security in carrying out the duties
regarding interdiction of migrants.

(k) The Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary
of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the
Secretary of Commerce, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall
annually report to the President regarding the engagement of the United
States with Cuba to ensure that engagement is advancing the interests of
the United States.

(l) All activities conducted pursuant to subsections (a) through
(k) of this section shall be carried out in a manner that furthers the
interests of the United States, including by appropriately protecting
sensitive sources, methods, and operations of the Federal Government.


Sec. 4. Earlier Presidential Actions.

(a) This memorandum supersedes and replaces both National
Security Presidential Directive-52 of June 28, 2007, U.S. Policy toward
Cuba, and Presidential Policy Directive-43 of October 14, 2016, United
States-Cuba Normalization.

(b) This memorandum does not affect either Executive Order 12807
of May 24, 1992, Interdiction of Illegal Aliens, or Executive Order
13276 of November 15, 2002, Delegation of Responsibilities Concerning
Undocumented Aliens Interdicted or Intercepted in the Caribbean Region.

Sec. 5. General Provisions.

(a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or
otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive
department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of
Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or
legislative proposals.

(b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with
applicable laws and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any
right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in
equity by any party against the United States, its departments,
agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other
person.
(d) The Secretary of State is hereby authorized and directed to
publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

DONALD J. TRUMP

Source: National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the
Policy of the United States Toward Cuba | whitehouse.gov -
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/06/16/national-security-presidential-memorandum-strengthening-policy-united Continue reading
… revolution," Havana said. 'A speech aimed at Cuban Americans… to Cuba and a clampdown on US business dealings with the Cuban … human rights grounds, calling on Cuba to release political prisoners and … Cuban people will continue deciding itself on the changes necessary for CubaContinue reading
… revolution," Havana said. 'A speech aimed at Cuban Americans… to Cuba and a clampdown on US business dealings with the Cuban … human rights grounds, calling on Cuba to release political prisoners and … Cuban people will continue deciding itself on the changes necessary for CubaContinue reading
… Friday pledged Venezuelan solidarity with Cuba via regional blocs including the … tweets blasting Trump and praising Cuba. Fellow leftist President Evo Morales … said. "Instead of asking Cuba to free political prisoners, Trump … moderate line, urging Washington and Havana to resolve their differences … Continue reading
… to the Obama-era Cuba policy and is challenging the Cuban government to … on Cuba until it releases all political prisoners and respects the Cuban … back the Obama-era detente with Havana. Flake has warned that returning … . policy on Cuba. We are going to empower the Cuban people and … Continue reading
… to the Obama-era Cuba policy and is challenging the Cuban government to … on Cuba until it releases all political prisoners and respects the Cuban … back the Obama-era detente with Havana. Flake has warned that returning … . policy on Cuba. We are going to empower the Cuban people and … Continue reading
14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 23 May 2017 — Her grey hair and blue eyes suggest a picture of a grandmother out of a children’s story, but Marta Cortizas is actually a native of Havana who, after emigrating to the United States, found a way to be useful to her countrymen. From her apartment in Kendall … Continue reading "Marta’s List" Continue reading
14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 22 May 2017 — The saleswoman described her merchandise in a murmur: loggerhead turtle steaks, beef and shrimp. The man salivated, but replied that he could not buy any of those products, the most persecuted in the informal market. Every opponent knows that the authorities would want to try him for an … Continue reading "Economic Crime, the Pitfall in the Path" Continue reading
Cuba's Proxy War in Venezuela
Mary Anastasia O'Grady in The Wall Street Journal

The commitment to Maduro among soldiers and police is breaking down

Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro is responding to mass demonstrations
by selectively killing civilians. If, as a result, some branch of the
military breaks with the regime, the country will descend into civil
war. But until then it's a one-sided slaughter.

It's also a Cuban proxy war. More than a dozen high-ranking Cuban
officers are said to be in Venezuela, along with thousands of Cuban
intelligence agents. Their job is to keep Venezuelan army officers under
constant surveillance to prevent the feared military uprising to restore
democracy. If the international community wants to head off disaster, a
good place to start would be in Havana.

On Thursday Miami's El Nuevo Herald reported it has a recording of
Venezuelan generals—at a meeting in Barquisimeto three weeks ago—"giving
orders to use snipers to control demonstrators." According to the Herald
they did so "with the argument that they find themselves on the
threshold of a civil war."

Maybe the generals know something not yet acknowledged publicly—that the
commitment to Mr. Maduro among the nation's soldiers and police is
breaking down.

It happened once before, in April 2002, when snipers backing the regime
picked off protesters during a demonstration in Caracas. When some
members of the army refused to help then-President Hugo Chávez crack
down on the crowd, he was forced to step aside, albeit temporarily.

Once back in power, Chávez accelerated the recruitment and arming of
paramilitaries. Thousands now show up at antigovernment protests, firing
weapons into crowds and using their motorcycles to run down
demonstrators. If the Cubans remain the power behind the throne, there
will be no one to stop these trained killers from slitting the throats
of the opposition.

The possibility of a break inside the armed forces seems to be on the
rise. As the Journal's Anatoly Kurmanaev reported on Wednesday, National
Guard riot police are worn down from taking on thousands of street
protesters almost daily since the beginning of April. Rank-and-file
soldiers also are not immune to the hardship and hunger caused by Mr.
Maduro's senseless economic policies. They say they too are underpaid
and underfed.

The dictatorship is clearly worried about this and recognizes it will
lose a war of attrition. One source in Caracas who marched in the
streets Thursday observed a noted increase in regime repression.

In recent weeks government enforcers also have launched attacks on lower
middle-class neighborhoods where Maduro critics live. They break down
gates and doors, rampage through apartment complexes, fire tear-gas
canisters through windows and loot homes.

On May 7 the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional reported that between
April 4 and May 5 the National Guard, together with National Bolivarian
Police and chavista militia, invaded 11 different residential areas in
Caracas. One family of four in the El Paraíso district, requesting
anonymity, told of how they cowered together in a bathroom for eight
hours to keep from being asphyxiated by the tear gas that had inundated
the rest of their apartment.

It wasn't the first blitz on the building complex known as Terrazas del
Paraíso. On April 19 pro-government thugs smashed an iron grille to get
in and rob one of the neighbors. On April 26 civilian-clothed militia
entered the complex and fired rubber bullets, injuring some residents.
"But it was to frighten us, because they didn't steal anything," one of
the victims told the newspaper.

On May 11 El Nacional reported that since this most recent wave of
protests began, state security forces and paramilitary have engaged in
similar violence and theft against 13 condominiums in six cities
including Maracay, Valencia, Barquisimeto and Merida. Forty-seven people
have been killed in the violence perpetrated by the antiriot squads and
paramilitary madmen since early April.

This is state terrorism. But it may not have its intended effect. Most
of the country is solidly against the government, and this includes
low-income Venezuelans, once the base for chavismo. Paradoxically the
repression seems to be strengthening opposition resolve. Perhaps
Venezuelans have reached a tipping point. They will get new elections
and freedom for political prisoners, or are ready to die trying.

The brutality also may be eroding the confidence of the men and women in
uniform. Many seem not to have the stomach for the cruelty their Cuban
handlers expect from their South American protégés. On May 5 opposition
leader Henrique Capriles said 85 members of the armed forces, including
some young captains and sergeants, had been detained by the regime for
criticizing the repression. On May 19 a member of the National Guard was
arrested in Táchira for having crossed over to defend protesters.

The international community has the power, through sanctions, to rein in
Cuba. If it fails to do so, the Venezuelan opposition will be massacred.

Source: Cuba's proxy war in Venezuela | Babalú Blog -
https://www.babalublog.com/2017/05/22/cubas-proxy-war-in-venezuela/ Continue reading
El Sexto' Will Stay In The US But Will Continue To Fight Against
Arbitrary Detentions In Cuba

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 15 May 2017 — The artist Danilo
Maldonado, known as 'El Sexto' (The Sixth), announced his desire to
reside in the United States, although he will remain attentive to what
happens in Cuba to be able to denounce the arbitrary detentions.

Maldonado, whose girlfriend, Alexandra Martinez, is a US citizen,
declined to respond to a request from 14ymedio to confirm his decision
to remain in the United States. For her part, Martinez said that the
artist was not going to give statements on the matter.

El Sexto recently concluded the exhibition Angels and Demons in San
Francisco, where he staged a three-day performance in which he was
enclosed in a replica of the punishment cell in Havana's Combinado del
Este prison where he was held.

In 2014 he tried to stage a performance titled "Animal Farm," in which
he intended to release two pigs with the names Fidel and Raul painted on
their sides. Although he never managed to stage the performance, it cost
him 10 months in Valle Grande prison, on the outskirts of Havana.

The artist has been arrested three times for political reasons

In the dark hours of the morning after the announcement of the death of
Fidel Castro, Danilo wrote "He left" on one of the walls of the Habana
Libre Hotel, which cost him another 55 days in prison.

"This can not be a one-day protest, right now this is happening in many
countries, even our neighbors, and we have to report it," Maldonado told
EFE in reference to repressive actions against dissidents and human
rights activists.

During the 36 hours of the performance in San Francisco,
titled Amnesty, El Sexto remained without food in solidarity with the
Cuban political prisoners Eduardo Cardet and Julio Ferrer, among
others. The artist also dedicated his hunger strike to Leopoldo López
and the other Venezuelan political prisoners.

Maldonado took the pseudonym El Sexto (The Sixth), with which he signed
his graffiti on the streets of Havana, as an ironic response to the
Cuban government's campaign for the return of the so-called "Cuban
Five," five spies who were then in prison in the United States.

In 2015, Danilo Maldonado, 34, received the Vaclav Havel Prize for
Creative Dissent, awarded to activists "who engage in creative dissent,
exhibiting courage and creativity to challenge injustice and live in truth."

Source: 'El Sexto' Will Stay In The US But Will Continue To Fight
Against Arbitrary Detentions In Cuba – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/el-sexto-will-stay-in-the-us-but-will-continue-to-fight-against-arbitrary-detentions-in-cuba/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 15 May 2017 — The artist Danilo Maldonado, known as ‘El Sexto’ (The Sixth), announced his desire to reside in the United States, although he will remain attentive to what happens in Cuba to be able to denounce the arbitrary detentions. Maldonado, whose girlfriend, Alexandra Martinez, is a US citizen, declined to respond … Continue reading "‘El Sexto’ Will Stay In The US But Will Continue To Fight Against Arbitrary Detentions In Cuba" Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 8 May 2017 – The number of political prisoners has doubled this year, according to the most recent report from the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), which counts 140 people charged for these reasons in April, compared to 70 for the same months in 2016. The organization’s monthly accounting … Continue reading "Number of Political Prisoners Doubles In Last Year, According To Human Rights Group" Continue reading
Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado is in San Francisco, planning for the opening of his art exhibit, “Angels and Demons,” at the Immersive ART LAB, 3255A Third Street, May 11, 6-10pm. His exhibit is sponsored by the Human Rights Foundation as part of its Art in Protest series. This interview took place with the translation help … Continue reading "Interview with El Sexto (Danilo Maldonado) in San Francisco" Continue reading
Dozens Of Ladies In White Arrested On The 100th Day Of TodosMarchamos

14ymedio, Havana, 8 May 2017 – At least 38 Ladies in White were arrested
this Sunday in Havana, Matanzas, Guantanamo, Ciego de Avila and Santa
Clara, during the 100th day of the #TodosMarchamos (We All March)
campaign for the release of Cuba's political prisoners.

The leader of the group, Berta Soler, was arrested along with three
other activists outside the group's headquarters in Havana's Lawton
neighborhood. The women carried posters denouncing the harassment
against their movement, dissident Deisy Artiles told 14ymedio.

Soler was leaving the headquarters along with to Yamilet Garro, Aliuska
Gómez and Sodrelis Turruella when they were intercepted and arrested by
the police. Inside the house were Artiles, along with Ladies in White
Zenaida Hidalgo and Cecilia Guerra.

The police also detained, in the vicinity of the headquarters, the
former political prisoner Angel Moya Acosta and the activist Jose Oscar
Sánchez.

"The operation started on Friday morning," Artiles said, adding that "an
act of repudiation was carried out [against Berta Soler] at the time of
her arrest."

Dissident Ada Lopez was also arrested outside her home when she tried to
reach the headquarters of the movement. Her husband reported the arrest
and managed to photograph the moment she was taken to a police car.

In Matanzas, at least a dozen of the movement's women managed to reach
the church to attend Sunday Mass, while 19 were arrested on the way to
the parish.

"We have had an operation since Saturday in front of the houses of the
Ladies in White," said Matanzas activist Leticia Ramos Herrería.

The police "have been embroiled in trying to end our movement," says the
opponent. "The threats they are making against the activists and their
families are serious. Many are being fined for simply evading the police
cordon in front of their homes."

In the town of Palma Soriano, in Santiago de Cuba, a dozen members of
the group were arrested, while in Ciego de Avila the police violently
arrested the dissidents Lucía López Rondón and Mayden Maidique Cruz.

On Thursday, the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) issued a
report in which it stated there were 1,809 arbitrary detentions in the
island during the first four months of 2017.

Throughout the month of April the organization documented 467 arbitrary
arrests, of which 335 were women and 132 were men. 147 of those arrested
were black and ten of them were "beaten brutally," according to the text.

The OCDH emphasizes that a climate of repression prevails "at a time
when the Cuban Government has achieved important international support
such as that from the European Union and the Government of Spain," and
warns that "in the coming months the political climate may be aggravated
because of the government's nervousness over the difficult economic and
social situation that Cuba is facing."

Source: Dozens Of Ladies In White Arrested On The 100th Day Of
#TodosMarchamos – Translating Cuba -
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Brussels, May 8 (RHC)-- Human rights advocates and groups from across Europe are sacrificing their health for the sake of solidarity, refusing food and joining the indefinite hunger strike by 1,700 Palestinian political prisoners.   The hunger strikers … Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 8 May 2017 – At least 38 Ladies in White were arrested this Sunday in Havana, Matanzas, Guantanamo, Ciego de Avila and Santa Clara, during the 100th day of the #TodosMarchamos (We All March) campaign for the release of Cuba’s political prisoners. The leader of the group, Berta Soler, was arrested along with … Continue reading "Dozens Of Ladies In White Arrested On The 100th Day Of #TodosMarchamos" Continue reading
Spain's King Felipe and PM Rajoy to visit Cuba "as soon as possible"
Cuban foreign minister describes ongoing talks between Havana and Madrid
"beneficial"
JAVIER CASQUEIRO
Madrid 18 ABR 2017 - 12:11 CEST

Spain's King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy have accepted an
official invitation to make an official visit to Cuba, which the Foreign
Ministry says will take place "as soon as possible," probably at the end
of this year, ahead of the retirement of the Caribbean island's leader,
Raúl Castro, in February 2018.

Felipe's father and predecessor, Juan Carlos, led a Spanish delegation
that attended the funeral of Fidel Castro in November 2016. During Juan
Carlos's 39 years in power, between 1975 and 2014, he only visited
Havana once: in 1999, when Cuba hosted the IX Ibero-American Summit.
José María Aznar, who was prime minister with Spain's conservative
Popular Party between 1996 and 2004, has said publicly that he refused
to sanction further visits by Juan Carlos to Cuba given the politician's
ideological differences with the regime in Havana.

King Felipe and Rajoy intend to visit Cuba "as soon as possible,"
according to official sources. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez
gave King Felipe the invitation at a meeting in the Zarzuela official
royal residence in Madrid on Monday during a private visit to the
Spanish capital. He later met with Rajoy.

The invitation comes after a May 2016 visit by the then-Spanish foreign
minister, José Manuel García-Margallo.

King Felipe and Queen Leticia are making a state visit to the United
Kingdom between June 6 and June 8, which means the visit to Cuba could
take place after summer, toward the end of the year.

During their conversation, Rodríguez and King Felipe discussed the
worsening situation in Venezuela where protesters have taken to the
streets after the opposition-controlled national congress was briefly
stripped off its powers. Speaking at a press conference afterward,
Rodríguez said Cuba would continue supporting the government of
President Nicolás Maduro to find the best "solutions and decisions." He
also referred to the 2002 coup that briefly toppled Maduro's
predecessor, Hugo Chávez.

Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said after meeting with
Rodríguez that the invitation "symbolizes the will of Cuba to increase
links with Spain." He added that following the end of the year-long
political stalemate in Spain in October produced by two inconclusive
elections, Prime Minister Rajoy intended to "strengthen and intensify"
political, social, economic, trade, cultural, family and other ties
between the two countries.

In December, Spain raised the issue of renewing the EU's agreement with
Cuba, leaving behind the approach of the Aznar government and its focus
on human-rights issues. Rodríguez described talks between Madrid and
Havana as "multi-faceted", "promising," "cordial," "productive,"
"useful," and "beneficial."

Spain is Cuba's third-major trading partner and the
eighth-most-important source of tourists. Rodríguez praised Spain and
the EU's position regarding the ongoing US embargo.

Dastis pointed out that Spanish governments over the years have not
supported the trade embargo and hoped that the Trump administration
would continue the thaw begun by Barack Obama. On the subject of
political prisoners and human rights in Cuba, Dastis, who has offered to
travel to Cuba ahead of the visit, said both governments would address
all issues "with respect andtrust, and pragmatically."

English version by Nick Lyne.

Source: Spanish head of state visit to Cuba: Spain's King Felipe and PM
Rajoy to visit Cuba "as soon as possible" | In English | EL PAÍS -
http://elpais.com/elpais/2017/04/18/inenglish/1492502808_481245.html Continue reading
What the Future Holds for U.S.-Cuba Relations
Apr 11, 2017 Latin America North America

When the Obama administration reestablished U.S. diplomatic relations
with Cuba in December 2014, many experts predicted that it would bring a
flood of new money to the island, transforming its economy and political
culture for the better. Almost two-and-a-half years later, U.S. trade
with Cuba continues to languish, and a handful of executive orders on
the part of President Donald Trump could soon set back the clock to the
days when hardline opposition to ties with Cuba's communist regime was
the norm in Washington. What is the future of U.S.-Cuba ties now that
the honeymoon that began under Obama is over? Which aspects, if any, of
the Obama administration campaign to open up Cuba are most likely to
survive?

On the one hand, during his presidential campaign, "Trump certainly
talked about repudiating what Obama has done with Cuba," says Stephen
Kobrin, Wharton emeritus management professor. "Clearly, with the stroke
of a pen, he could eliminate a lot of the liberalization that occurred
under Obama," which was enacted as executive orders, not congressionally
sanctioned legislation. On the other hand, "the streets have not exactly
been paved with gold in Cuba," Kobrin notes. "There hasn't been a great
rush to do business in Cuba. Right now, there is not a huge amount of
interest." Of the dramatic rapprochement with Cuba undertaken by
President Obama, Kobrin adds: "It was an historical event that seems to
have come and gone."

Cuban-American attorney Gustavo Arnavat, senior adviser at the Center
for Strategic and International Studies, notes, "One of the missed
opportunities is that not as many deals were done" as anticipated.
"That's bad for a number of different reasons. One, I think U.S.
companies have missed out. I think the Cuban people and the Cuban
government have missed out on great U.S. products and services." He adds
that now — just as the Trump administration is reviewing its Cuba policy
— instead of having 100 U.S. companies advocating for liberalization by
going to their congressional representatives and saying, 'Look, we have
this business now in Cuba,' "you only have 25 or 30 or so." (Editor's
note: Arnavat, who recently returned from Cuba, addressed this topic at
the 2017 Wharton Latin American Conference, where Knowledge@Wharton
interviewed him. The interview will be published soon.)

Uncertainty and Disappointment

"The impact of Donald Trump's victory can be defined by one word:
'uncertainty,'" notes John Kavulich, president of the New York-based
U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council. "That uncertainty has negatively
impacted interest by U.S. companies [in Cuba]."

In both countries, disappointment has been fueled by misunderstanding of
the potential impact of their mutual ties. Charles Shapiro, president of
the World Affairs Council of Atlanta, says that "U.S. business people
thought that they were going to go to Cuba and see hundred dollar bills
floating down the streets. Just as Americans thought that Cuba was going
to change pretty quickly after December 2014, individual Cubans also
thought that their standard of living was going to change [right away] …
[that] their lives were going to get better. Both of those expectations
were wrong; real life is more complicated."

Many Americans imagined that the Cuban government would soon liberate
political prisoners and make political reforms. When that didn't happen,
critics argued that the U.S. was making all the concessions, but the
Cubans were doing nothing to open their economy. Notes Kavulich,
"Basically, an overall negative narrative has been created."

And while uncertainty is growing over which measures Trump might take to
unwind the Obama administration's efforts, "the Cuban government is not
doing its part to mitigate any of the uncertainty," Kavulich notes.
"What it could do would be to allow more U.S. companies to have a
presence in Cuba, more U.S. companies to directly engage with the
licensed independent sector in Cuba. They are not allowing that." Adds
Arnavat, "If you look at Cuba's plan for economic development, [foreign
direct investment] just doesn't quite fit into their priorities. And
then even if it's the right kind of company, and the right opportunity,
they still blame the embargo, right?"

It's not just the Americans who aren't investing in Cuba now, notes
Shapiro. "The Chinese are not investing in Cuba," nor are the
Brazilians or the Europeans. "It's because you can make more money
investing in Singapore or Atlanta, Georgia" or many other places under
the current system in Cuba. He adds, "One gets the sense that the
government of Cuba doesn't understand that foreign direct investment is
a competition — that the investor gets to decide where he is going to
get the best return on his money. There are not people out there wanting
to throw their money at Cuba in a way that doesn't allow them to make a
competitive return on their investment. That's the issue."

In the travel sector, explains Kavulich, "The airlines, in their
exuberance and enthusiasm to get as many routes as possible, far
exceeded what the reality was going to be. All the airlines asked for
far more seats than they were going to be able to fill. They asked for
approximately three million seats, when the agreement with the Cubans
was for about one to 1.2 million. From the beginning, it was out of
whack, but the airlines were all trying to grab as many of the routes as
they could."

As international hotel companies signed building contracts, U.S.
arrivals in Cuba ballooned 34% between 2015 and 2016. Hotel rates soared
by between 100% and 400%, with rooms previously priced at $150 per night
skyrocketing to $650, according to New York-based tour operator Insight
Cuba. American Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit and other carriers started
operating daily flights to 10 cities, including airports that hadn't
welcomed U.S. airlines in decades. But the novelty has worn off, and
hotel rates have normalized. Airlines that overestimated demand for Cuba
are cutting back on their routes and using smaller planes.

Two major factors have changed since the high-profile restoration of
diplomatic ties during the Obama administration, says Wharton management
professor Mauro Guillen. "The first is the change in the U.S.
administration. The second is that Raul Castro has said that he will
step down in a couple of years. There is a power struggle going on in
Cuba between those who are traditional and others who believe, like
Raul, that there should be a change towards more freedoms in Cuba. Both
factors are making it difficult to get things moving in that direction."

Guillen adds: "Trump has not been president for even 100 days yet; we're
going to have to wait and see. It's not so much that [everyone has] lost
interest, but that there are so many other things going on that require
the attention" of lobbyists and policy makers in the U.S.

Travel: 'A Bad Telenovela'

Trump's first statement about changes in U.S. policy is expected soon,
but no one knows for sure what to expect. The Trump administration is
"not going to sit around with a majority in the [U.S.] House, Senate and
… the Supreme Court — and not do anything. They're taking their time
until they think the President and people around him have time to act,"
says David Lewis, president of Manchester Trade, a Washington
consultancy. "My view is that they are not going to leave this
[situation] as it is." That doesn't necessarily mean that Trump will
undo every policy change made by Obama, he adds.

According to Kavulich, "If they decide to go with increased enforcement
[of the travel rules] — which it seems they will do — that could lead to
the demise of the 'self-defined trips' that have become a popular way
for Americans to visit Cuba," despite the official ban on tourism. "One
change the Obama administration made was to allow people to go to Cuba
on their own. They didn't have to go with a group, and they could
self-certify. It was the honor system on steroids."

Lewis argues that the changes made in the travel sector "are going to
remain as is — not because [the Trump administration] thinks it's good,
but because to try and reverse travel is going to be a major quagmire, a
whirlpool, like a bad telenovela that will never end. You're going to
have to start fighting with the nuns who go to Cuba, with the college
kids who go to Cuba, with the NGOs. It will be a never-ending mad house,
which could engulf [the administration's] limited bench."

However, in order to pressure the Cuban government to liberalize its
economy, the Trump administration could tighten the screws on U.S.
visitors in various ways. Kavulich notes that it may try to make travel
harder for U.S. visitors to Cuba who don't comply with the official
rules, which make it impossible for Americans to visit as a tourist, by
requiring them to go through several inspections at customs. Overall,
the Trump administration "can do a lot without seeming as though they
are being punitive, simply by enforcing the regulations."

The Trump administration could also "make it clear that no further
licenses will be given to any [U.S.] company that wants to engage with
the Cuban military, which controls the Cuban hospitality sector," adds
Kavulich. "If they act retroactively, that means the Sheraton [in
Havana, the first hotel to operate under a U.S. brand since the 1959
revolution] gets closed; U.S. cruise ships can't dock at the ports; and
U.S. [air] carriers can't land at the airports because the Cuban
military controls all of it."

"With Trump, you're reading tea leaves," says Kobrin. "You never know
what's real and isn't. But he is not viscerally anti-communist. He isn't
part of the old Republican Cold War establishment. He doesn't seem to
have trouble dealing with Hungary, for example, and his problems with
China have more to do with what he perceives as 'American first' and
U.S. interests, rather than their political system." Moreover, "the
opposition to establishing relations with Cuba comes especially from
Congress and Cuban-American members of Congress, who are concerned about
the political system."

Reasons for Optimism

Originally, the expectation was that an announcement by the
administration regarding Cuba would be made in early February and then
March. "It seems as though the announcement is being held hostage to
whatever events are happening each day," Kobrin says. "It could end up
that the decision could be a tweet that is a response to something the
Cuban government does that we don't know about yet."

Overall, Kobrin says, "I've always felt that once liberalization occurs,
Cuba is just another island in the sun. It has some advantages in terms
of its medical system, the education of the populace, and so forth, but
then it has to compete with every other Caribbean island, once the
novelty has worn off. Cuba is not a logical place to put much in the way
of manufacturing or other sorts of industry, [except] maybe some health
care initiatives."

Shapiro is more optimistic. "The private sector in Cuba is growing.
Cubans call [self-employed workers] cuentapropistas — which means they
are 'working on their own account.' And they are [becoming] a larger
percentage of the work force. Lots of people in Cuba have their
government job, but they are doing other things as well. They can't
exist on a government salary.… Everybody in Cuba is working a deal."
Internet access has actually skyrocketed, he adds, with Wi-Fi hot spots
available in parks around the country. "Lots of people use them, and
they are owned by the government. Unlike the case in China, you can
access The New York Times in Cuba, and more importantly, El Pais from
Spain."

"I'm still a little bit hopeful and optimistic," Guillen says. "At
least, a framework has been established for the basic relationships….
Now we have cruise ships going through Havana, we have regularly
scheduled flights, and we have some broadening of the kinds of trade
that can be done. Let's give this first round of reforms some time to
sink in. Then, the [Trump] administration will have a better idea of
what it wants to do."

Source: What the Future Holds for U.S.-Cuba Relations -
Knowledge@Wharton -
http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/future-holds-u-s-cuba-relations/ Continue reading
'We have an advantage. We're not scared.' A former political prisoner to
run in the 'elections'
YUSIMÍ RODRÍGUEZ LÓPEZ | La Habana | 12 de Abril de 2017 - 12:10 CEST.

'We will take the voter's voice wherever necessary', says José Díaz Silva.

For his anti-Government activism José Díaz Silva has received four jail
sentences totaling 16 years. He is the leader of various internal
dissidence organizations, and frequently ends up in jail. Now he plans
to be a candidate to serve as a Poder Popular (national assembly)
delegate, running on the #Otro18 independent platform, exercising his
right, as stipulated in the Constitution, to elect and to be elected.

Never before had he thought about taking a step of this type. "I do not
belong to the CDR, nor did I use to vote. Years back, we wanted to be
observers. We went here to the Electoral Board close to here, and they
threw us out. I will run here and now because we want to define the
difference between their [pro-Government] candidates and ours," he
explains. In this way, we will not change the system, but we will act as
spokespeople for the community, which complains about its lack of say.
We know that they will (...) describe us as delinquents and
contrarrevolutionaries. They also claim that we are paid by the Empire.
A lie, and they know it," says Díaz Silva.

"I get help from my family in the US: two children (also former
political prisoners, for writing 'down with Fidel', as stated in their
court records), five siblings, and my mother. My wife has five siblings
there. There I have friends there who want to see a free and democratic
Cuba. They help human rights organizations and political prisoners. They
send food," he explains.

Díaz Silva is the president ofOpositores por una Nueva República,a
national delegate of the Movimiento Democracia, a national coordinator
of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Frente de Resistencia y Desobediencia
Civil, and one of the coordinators of the Democratic Action Unity Bureau
(MUAD).

"The way you entered through, I clear it with a mower I brought from the
United States. Where is the money assigned for that? It is robbed by
Áreas Verdes, Comunales, the municipal government. They report that the
highway is kept clean. But it is cleaned by a human rights activist," he
explains.

"We want to know where the budget assigned to each municipality goes,
which comes from taxes," he affirms.

He is already suffering retaliation for his intention to run for office
in his district.

"They have threatened us, telling us that they could easily tie us up in
the courts, which would prevent us from exercising our right. Manuel
Velásquez Licea and Eduardo Herrera Hernández, also candidates, have
been incarcerated for the past six months", he explains.

"On Tuesday, 28 March, at 4:35 a.m., they knocked on my door. They came
to conduct a search. The paper indicated 'electronic equipment and
others.' To make it legal, they have to look for something specific. The
witnesses were people they have used before to carry out acts of
rejection, brought from Santiago de las Vegas. This is a violation, as
the witnesses must be from the community," he complains.

"I told them to wait, as I was going to get cleaned up. They kicked the
door in. They injured my hand and fingers, throwing me against the wall.
My head was swollen, but it subsided. I bled from my nose. They
handcuffed me. They burned our brochures. They took books, legal
documents (like sentences), two laptops, a mini laptop belonging to my
daughter, and another to my granddaughter, a disk drive, CDs; money,
mine and my daughter's; two chains worth some 1,200 CUC, my pressure
gauging device, two little short-wave radios, a printer, a television
set antenna, a large television set that my son bought and that entered
legally, through Customs. They left the one in the living room. They
broke the door to my daughter's room, to which I do not have a key. She
came when the neighbors told her, and they wouldn't let her in. From the
refrigerator they took a tin of Spam, packages of noodles, six or seven
bars of chocolate, and two of peanut butter, sent for the prisoners," he
explains.

"The police officers' ID numbers were 29140 and 29113, two captains. And
lieutenant 29156. There was an official from the MININT who, while the
search was carried out, lit up a cigarette. I told him that he was
showing a lack of respect, that in my house nobody smoked. He went
outside to smoke, very annoyed, and when he returned he said to me: 'you
people, for us, you are animals, dogs, and we are going to do away with
you.' I asked why he didn't say that on television, so that the people
could know their position. He responded: 'that's just what you'd like.'"

Díaz Silva says that he was taken to Santiago de las Vegas. The
authorities, he indicates, made eight copies of what they took from his
house, but did not give him one.

State Security agents Bruno and Raymo, who had threatened him before,
said to him: 'Have you seen how what we said is happening?'" the
activist recalls.

"The police fined me for handling stolen goods. They let me go the next
day, a 6:00 in the afternoon. Here there are no laws. They could kill us
and nothing would happen."

Do you think any members of your community will dare to nominate or vote
for you?

A family told me that they were going to nominate me. But it remains to
be seen, as they can take measures against the family… but residents
told me that I can count on their votes, and I think that they will dare
to follow through. When the Police entered my house, some neighbors
expressed their indignation to me. It was they who alerted my daughter.
And they are not dissenters.

Many presidents of the CDR and women with the Federation (FMC) approach
us, as dissidents, to tell us that we have their votes." There are even
police who tell us to "continue fighting, because you are right. They
see that what the regime says, that we are delinquents, is a lie.

How did Fidel and Raúl deal with this? With force. They killed. They
killed police heads, informers. It is in the documentaries that they
broadcast. We don't do those things. We are pursuing what Fidel Castro
claimed he wanted in History will Acquit Me: a state based on the rule
of law.

Traditional delegates, many eager to work, face barriers, like the lack
of resources. Will a dissident be able to do more for the community?

We don't promise anything, and we don't have conditions. After all, the
system is our enemy. But we will take the voice of the voter wherever it
is necessary. The community's vote will give us the right us to demand
solutions to problems before bodies. In this way we have an advantage,
because we are not scared, and we know the laws a little better.

In spite of your intention to run, you say that the way to remove the
Castros' Communist regime from power is with people in the streets.

They will always look for mechanisms to thwart anything that we do. We
have the example of Oswaldo Payá. It was necessary to change the law,
because he presented the signatures. I was a promoter of the Varela
Project. When it reached [the National Assembly], they said that the
Cuban socialist system was irrevocable, and the Constitution said so.
They mocked what they themselves had written, because they wrote that
Constitution and Penal Code. Now they will do the same thing, but this
is a way to tell the people that we have the right to change this
through peaceful channels.

Source: 'We have an advantage. We're not scared.' A former political
prisoner to run in the 'elections' | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1491991825_30312.html Continue reading
… War: The Story of the Cuban Five,” by Fernando Morais, as … tells the story of five Cuban political prisoners, who had been … Continue reading