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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 -
http://translatingcuba.com/dozens-of-ladies-in-white-arrested-on-the-100th-day-of-todosmarchamos/ Continue reading
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
"State Security Doctors Constantly Mistreated Us"

14ymedio, Havana, 4 April 2017 — Maydolys Leyva can breath easy for the
first time since last March 7. Her three children have abandoned their
hunger strike after being released on parole. This Monday, their mother
prepared a meal of mild creamed vegetables, root vegetables and meat for
her daughter Anairis and son Fidel Batista, as they began to resume
eating. Her other daughter, Adairis Miranda, is still in intermediate care.

From her bed at Vladimir Ilich Lenin Teaching Hospital in Holguín,
where she is recovering, Anairis Miranda spoke via telephone with 14ymedio.

14ymedio. What led you to undertake the hunger strike?

Anairis. We spent 27 days without food and continued to demand the
immediate release of our family because we never accepted the unjust
sentence of a year of deprivation of liberty imposed on us.

We are also demanding the release of the political prisoners of the
Cuban Reflection Movement to which we belong with pride and whose
national leader is Librado Linares. We also demand the immediate release
of the national leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, Eduardo
Cardet. In response to these demands we obtained parole for health reasons.

14ymedio. Are you still under surveillance?

Anairis. Right now, here in the hospital, there is no presence of State
Security. As of Sunday, when they delivered the parole documents to us,
they took their repressors and left.

14ymedio. What were the most difficult moments during the strike?

Anairis. We suffered a lot of repression by State Security. They made
threats against our mother's life. The official in charge of
confrontation in the province of Holguin, Fredy Agüero, threatened to
take custody of my sister's two children, who were being looked after by
our mom. He said they would arrest her and kill her in prison.

14ymedio. How is your sister right now?

Anairis. Adairis is now in intermediate therapy in the surgical clinic,
she has a monitor and an IV. We all have very low blood pressure. We
weigh 66 pounds and are continuing to lose weight. My brother has very
unstable blood pressure, it goes up and down. My brother and I are
suffering from ischemic heart disease as a sequel to the strike. I have
some vaginal bleeding and diarrhea. I am still very ill, just like my
siblings.

14ymedio. How has the treatment from the doctors been from a humane
point of view?

Anairis. Some doctors have treated us well, those who are not from the
Ministry of the Interior. The doctors of the State Security, who
constantly mistreated us, have already left. They tried to misrepresent
everything about our health and to overshadow everything. Now, since
they left, we have noticed the change in the treatment of the hospital
doctors and the people who have come to see us. Before they didn't let
anyone approach us.

14ymedio. How many days do the doctors expect you to remain hospitalized?

Anairis. They tell us that we have to stay in the hospital about ten
more days because we could suffer a heart attack or different
complications can occur, although in the case of my sister it could be
longer depending on the improvement in her immune system.

14ymedio. How did you receive evidence of solidarity?

Anairis. I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to the international
public for their solidarity and to all the brother and sister activists
of both the diaspora and the country. Of course, also the journalists
who reported what happened.

Source: "State Security Doctors Constantly Mistreated Us" – Translating
Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/state-security-doctors-constantly-mistreated-us/ Continue reading
Exercising Independent Journalism In Cuba Is A State Crime / Iván García

Iván García, 30 March 2017 — Fear has the habit of first knocking on
your door. On any night, in a work center or a house, an official of
State Security can give a citizen an official citation with an
intimidating look.

It could be your sister, a close relative, childhood friends or a
neighbor. The strategy is always the same. The assassination of the
dissident journalist's reputation by combining half-truths with
treacherous lies.

They play all their cards. From one's commitment to the Revolution to
blackmail and social isolation.

Since I began a relationship with my wife, a telecommunications
engineer, her professional career has been stalled. They control her
email and the contents of her work through a magnifying glass. The same
thing happens with friends who collaborate on my journalistic notes.
It's an insolent and arbitrary harassment.

The political policy officials in Cuba know they have an all-reaching
power. They perform, Olympically, the violation of their own laws of
autocracy.

An official of the National Revolutionary Police told me about the
problems the State Security agents cause among their staff instructors.
"They consider themselves to be above good and evil. They come into the
unit and mobilize personnel and resources to detain or repress someone
in the opposition. Or they take over an office without even asking
permission. They're a bunch of thugs."

If you want to know the methods they use to create tensions among
families and friends and to cause marital problems, I recommend that you
see the documentary on political prisoners in Cuba, Avatares de la
familia, made by Palenque Visión and recently premiered in Miami.

When someone gets involved in peaceful dissidence or exercises
independent journalism, the family pays the price. If it's not enough to
create concern when a mother, father, spouse or son isn't going to sleep
at home one night; the treacherous State Security tries to dynamite
intimate relations with accusations of marital infidelity.

The Regime surely washes its hand like Pontius Pilate when it declares,
in international forums, that the Island doesn't assassinate the
opposition or independent journalists. But the fabrication of files with
false proof is also a punishable crime.

The beatings of dissident women on public streets or in front of their
children have increased. The occupation of work teams and the harassment
of independent journalists have become a habitual practice of the
political police.

Creed, religion or ideology doesn't matter. It's the same repression for
neo-communist bloggers like Harold Cárdenas (El Toque Cuba), foreign
correspondents like Fernando Rasvberg (Cartas Desde Cuba) or pure
reporters like Elaine Díaz, who founded a digital newspaper (Periodismo
de Barrio), which covers the country's vulnerable communities.

For Raúl Castro's government, disagreeing is a symptom of
insubordination and the first step toward dissidence. In the midst of
the 21st century, the olive-green State affirms its right to give
permission about what should be written or expressed. Anyone who doesn't
fulfill this precept is a criminal outside the law. Of course, for the
openly anti-Castro journalists, the repression is more ferocious.

In the spring of 2003, 14 years ago, Fidel Castro ordered the
incarceration of 75 peaceful opponents, 27 of which were independent
journalists, among them the poet Raúl Rivero, whose "weapon" was a stack
of ballpoint pens, an Olivetti Lettera typewriter and a collection of
literature from universal writers.

Some colleagues who write without State permission and with different
doctrines believe that the subject of the dissidence in Cuba — although
it is packed with problems, divided but real — is hidden by the
ideological police, and that those who support the status quo, the
cultural policies and ideological thought on the Island, are rewarded.

Recent facts show that the mantle of intolerance, which at times
resembles fascist behavior, has no borders. They insult Rasvberg with
crude swearwords and detained Elaine and several of her colleagues from
Periodismo de Barro when they tried to report on the aftermath of
Hurricane Matthew in Baracoa, just as they systematically harass the
independent journalist from Cama gagüey, Henry Constantín Ferreiro, who
has been the regional Vice President of the Sociedad Interamericana de
Prensa for some months.

I know Henry personally. He's a quiet guy, unaffected and creative, and
right now the authorities are trying to accuse him of "usurpation of
legal capacity," the same as his colleague, Sol García Basulto. His
"crime" is to exercise independent journalism and direct a magazine
without State sponsorship.

We Cuban journalists should show solidarity with each other when the
State tries to roll over us and shut us up. It doesn't matter what each
of us thinks. We all have the right to freely express our opinions.

To paraphrase Martin Luther King: You don't have to love me, I only ask
that you don't lynch me.



Translated by Regina Anavy

Source: Exercising Independent Journalism In Cuba Is A State Crime /
Iván García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/exercising-independent-journalism-in-cuba-is-a-state-crime-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Warning to the Repressors: "We Are Watching You"

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 31 March 2017 — The Foundation for Human
Rights in Cuba (FDHC) launched its new program Artists For Rights in
Miami on Friday and sent a strong message to the Cuban government's
"repressors": You are being watched and your actions will not go unnoticed.

The artistic project seeks to sensitize artists and the Cuban people in
general about the difficult situation of human rights in the island.
More than 30 artists have contributed to the project's first activity,
among them artists who are in Cuba, in exile and in other countries such
as Venezuela, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.

"In the gallery there will be pictures of all kinds, not necessarily
political. What we consider to be political is the artist's decision to
contribute his art to the promotion of human rights in Cuba," said Juan
Antonio Blanco, president of the Foundation.

The first action of this new project is an exhibition of fine art open
to the public at Calle 8 in Miami, the hub of the Cuban diaspora in the
city.

Among the artists who will exhibit their works at the Cuban Art Club
Gallery are Ramón Unzueta, Danilo Maldonado known as El Sexto, Claudia
Di Paolo, Rolando Paciel, Yovani Bauta, Roxana Brizuela and Ramon
Willians. The exhibition will be open from April 1st to 15th, and
admission will be free

Blanco also talked about the Foundation's project to identify and
document the repressors that the Cuban government uses to muzzle the
opposition.

"We have numerous documented cases of repressors, with photos and
archives proving their participation in activities against civil society
and human rights activists on the island," he said.

"Publicity isn't important to us, rather we want to have a psychological
impact on military and paramilitary repressors. We want our message to
reach those who carry out the acts of repudiation in exchange for a
sandwich or for a T-shirt, so that they think about it three times," he
added.

According to the FDHC, in Cuba there are more than 70,000 prisoners,
which is why it ranks as the sixth country in the world in prisoners per
capita.

"There are thousands of prisoners who are in prison under the charge of
'dangerousness' [without having committed a crime] so they do not have
to call them political prisoners," he added.

According to Blanco, the Foundation is undertaking "quiet diplomacy" to
ensure that these people who have been identified as repressors are not
able to obtain visas for the United States or European countries.

The detailing of the record or repressors has not been without conflict.

"In Miami we have received denunciations against repressors, but we
always ask the denouncer to sign a notarized affidavit that the
repressor is accused of having carried out that work in Cuba," he explained.

According to Blanco, his organization has had to face maneuvers by the
Cuban government to delegitimize the work they are doing, by 'leaking'
the names of people who are not repressors.

"The Havana regime wants to keep it quiet, it is not a priority, but
that is precisely what we do not want. We seek to focus on violations of
human rights in Cuba and we want Cuba to be a priority," he insisted.

Source: Warning to the Repressors: "We Are Watching You" – Translating
Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/warning-to-the-repressors-we-are-watching-you/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 31 March 2017 — The Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FDHC) launched its new program Artists For Rights in Miami on Friday and sent a strong message to the Cuban government’s “repressors”: You are being watched and your actions will not go unnoticed. The artistic project seeks to sensitize artists … Continue reading "Warning to the Repressors: “We Are Watching You”" Continue reading
Cuba: Thugs Beat Pregnant Pro-Democracy Dissident 'in the Belly,' Put
Father in the Hospital
by FRANCES MARTEL29 Mar 2017110
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An unidentified mob attacked two members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba
(UNPACU) – a pregnant teen and her activist father – on Sunday night,
hurling bottles at them and reportedly punching the woman in the belly.
The activists in question are 52-year-old Ángel López Figueroa and his
18-year-old daughter Ariadna López Sotolongo, who is six months
pregnant. According to Sotolongo's father-in-law, who spoke to the
Miami-based Martí Noticias, a mob formed outside the family home in
Havana on Sunday night and began attempting to break into the house.

"They began throwing bottles at the house, that is when they hurt the
father. They tried to open the front door, managed to pry it open and
attack Ángel," according to Roberto Pérez Rodríguez. Sotolongo,
meanwhile, "received blows to the belly" and injured her hand trying to
fight off the mob. Her 13-year-old sister also received unspecified
injuries, according to Pérez.

Images UNPACU has circulated on social media of Figueroa after the
attack indicate that he sustained grave injuries to the head and may be
suffering a concussion.

Journalist Liu Santiesteban writes on Facebook that Figueroa was "left
for almost dead" following the incident and Sotolongo "barely showed
vital signs" upon arriving at the hospital and "almost lost the fetus."

Pérez told Martí that his family struggled to convince their local
clinic to take in the dissidents. "The doctor said things were not that
way, that he had to [receive care] at the hospital… that the ultrasound
had problems," he explained. "Yesterday we had problems, today they told
me the woman who had to work here didn't come in today. That is how
things are with us dissidents."

The Cuban government often recruits civilian members of the Communist
Party – not police – to commit "actos de repudio," or "acts of
repudiation," against dissident headquarters. These acts typically
involve mob attacks on unarmed dissidents in which they are pelted with
garbage, physically attacked, tarred, and insulted with vulgar epithets.

Given its size and its presence throughout the island, UNPACU is one of
the primary targets of the Cuban government's repression efforts against
the pro-democracy opposition, along with the Ladies in White and the
Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) dissident groups. UNPACU is believed
to have more prisoners of conscience among their members than any other
dissident group.

UNPACU suffered a violent attack on its headquarters in Santiago, on the
eastern end of the island, in early March, in which UNPACU leader José
Daniel Ferrer was arrested and "disappeared" to an undisclosed location.
This attack, unlike typical actos de repudio, was executed by Cuban
National Revolutionary Police (PNR). When Ferrer resurfaced, he
described the holding cell police placed him in as akin to a "horror
movie for how much blood there was on the walls, of prisoners who were
beaten and the mosquitos killed by prisoners."

During that raid, police confiscated over one thousand pounds of food
goods – including rice, sugar, vegetables, and meat, all difficult to
procure for the average Cuban.

Ferrer nonetheless told local media that "the majority of our activists
are in high spirits, this type of attack does not discourage them."

This month, UNPACU lost prisoner of conscience Hamell Santiago Maz
Hernández while imprisoned without due process; Maz was facing charges
of "disrespect," a catch-all crime the Cuban police use to imprison
anti-communist dissidents. UNPACU members told media they did not
believe the official story of his demise, "cardiac arrest," and would
continue investigating the incident.

Violence against anti-communist dissidents has skyrocketed since
President Barack Obama visited Cuba a year ago, attending a baseball
game with Raúl Castro and standing silently beside him as he denied the
existence of political prisoners on the island. In addition to
emboldening the Castro regime by promoting business ties with the
dictatorship, President Obama repealed the longstanding refugee policy
known as "wet foot/dry foot," eliminating the little hope Cubans had of
escaping the island, albeit through the dangerous Florida strait. The
last-minute policy change has stranded hundreds of known Cuban nationals
throughout Mexico, Central, and South America.

"We Cubans gave him our heart and he betrayed us," Luis Pedroso, a Cuban
stranded in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, told the Cuban independent outlet 14 y
Medio. "I lost my life."

Source: Cuba: Thugs Beat Pregnant Pro-Democracy Dissident 'in the
Belly,' Put Father in the Hospital - Breitbart -
http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/03/29/cuba-police-beat-pregnant-dissident/ Continue reading
14ymedio Havana, 27 March 2017 — The health of the siblings Fidel Batista Leyva, and Anairis and Adairis Miranda Leyva is worsening, as Monday marked their 21 days on a hunger strike, according to their mother, Maydolis Leyva Portelles, who spoke with 14ymedio. Members of the Cuban Reflection Movement, the three siblings are experiencing “a … Continue reading "Health Of Three Siblings On Hunger Strike In Cuba Worsens" Continue reading
The Cuban Regime Survives by Fear / Iván García

Iván García, 21 March 2017 — In the slum of Lawton, south of Havana, the
need for housing has converted an old collective residence with narrow
passageways into a bunkhouse. With dividers made from cardboard or
bricks recovered from demolished buildings, "apartments" have appeared
where a dozen families reside, living on the razor's edge.

Among the blasting Reggaeton music and illegal businesses, cane alcohol,
stolen the night before from a state distillery, is sold and later used
in the preparation of home-made rum; or clothing with pirated labels,
bought in bulk from stalls in Colón, a stone's throw from the Panama
Canal. A while back, when cattle were slaughtered in the Lawton or
Virgen del Camino slaughterhouses, you could get beef at the wholesale
price.

These overpopulated townships in the capital are cradles of
prostitution, drugs and illegal gambling. Lawton, like no other
neighborhood in Havana, is the "model" for marginalization and crime.
People live from robbing state institutions, selling junk or whatever
falls from a truck.

But don't talk to them about political reforms, ask them to endorse a
dissident party or protest about the brutal beatings that the political
police give a few blocks away to the Ladies in White, who every Sunday
speak about political prisoners and democracy in Cuba.

Let's call him Miguel, a guy who earns money selling marijuana,
psychotropic substances or cambolo, a lethal mix of cocaine with a small
dose of bicarbonate. He's been in prison almost a third of his life. He
had plans to emigrate to the United States but interrupted them after
Obama's repeal of the "wet foot-dry foot" policy.

Miguel has few topics of conversation. Women, sports, under-the-table
businesses. His life is a fixed portrait: alcohol, sex and "flying,"
with reddened eyes from smoking marijuana.

When you ask his opinion about the dissident movement and the continued
repression against the Ladies in White, he coughs slightly, scratches
his chin, and says: "Man, get off that channel. Those women are crazy.
This government of sons of bitches that we have, you aren't going to
bring it down with marches or speeches. If they don't grab a gun, the
security forces will always kick them down. They're brave, but it's not
going to change this shitty country."

Most of the neighbors in the converted bunkhouse think the same way.
They're capable of jumping the fence of a State factory to rob two
gallons of alcohol, but don't talk to them about politics, human rights
or freedom of expression.

"Mi amor, who wants to get into trouble? The police have gone nuts with
the businesses and prostitution. But when you go down the path of human
rights, you're in trouble for life," comments Denia, a matron.

She prefers to speak about her business. From a black bag she brings out
her Huawei telephone and shows several photos of half-nude girls while
chanting out the price. "Look how much money. Over there, whoever wants
can beat them up," says Denia, referring to the Ladies in White.

Generally, with a few exceptions, the citizens of the Republic of Cuba
have become immune or prefer to opt for amnesia when the subjects of
dissidence, freedom and democracy are brought up.

"There are several reasons. Pathological fear, which certainly infuses
authoritarian societies like the Cuban one. You must add to that the
fact that the Government media has known very well how to sell the story
of an opposition that is minimal, divided and corrupt, interested only
in American dollars," affirms Carlos, a sociologist.

Also, the dissidence is operating on an uneven playing field. It doesn't
have hours of radio or television coverage to spread its political
programs. The repression has obligated hundreds of political opponents
to leave the country. And State Security has infiltrated moles in almost
all the dissident groups.

"The special services efficiently short-circuit the relation of the
neighbors of the barrio and the people who support the dissidence. How
do you overcome that abyss? By expanding bridges to the interior of the
Island. I believe the opposition is more focused on political crusades
toward the exterior. The other is to amplify what the majority of Cubans
want to hear: There isn't food; to buy a change of clothing costs a
three months' salary; the terrible transport service; the water
shortage….There is a long list of subjects the dissidents can exploit,"
says Enrique.

I perceive that around 80 percent of the population has important common
ground with the local opposition. The timid economic openings and
repeals of absurd regulations were always claimed by the dissidence,
from greater autonomy for private work, foreign travel or being tourists
in their own country.

According to some dissidents, many neighbors approach them to say hello
and delve into the motives for their detentions after a brutal verbal
lynching or a beating. But there aren't enough.

Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, the leader of the Alianza Democrática
Oriental (Eastern Democratic Alliance) and director of Palenque Visión
(Palenque Vision), felt frustrated when street protests demanding rights
for everybody were taking place, and people were only watching from the
curb of a sidewalk.

"One night I was in the hospital's emergency room, since my son had a
high fever, and I initiated a protest because of the poor medical
attention. Several patients were in the same situation. But no one
raised their voice when the patrols arrived and the political police
detained me by force. That night I realized that I had to change my
method to reach ordinary Cubans. Perhaps the independent press is a more
effective way," Lobaina told me several months ago in Guantánamo.

Although independent journalists reflect that other Cuba that the
autocracy pretends to ignore, their notes, reports or complaints have a
limited reach because of the lack of Internet service and the
precariousness of their daily lives.

For the majority of citizens, democracy, human rights and freedom of
expression are not synonymous with a plate of food, but with repression.
How to awaken a Cuban from indifference is a good question for a debate.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Source: The Cuban Regime Survives by Fear / Iván García – Translating
Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-cuban-regime-survives-by-fear-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Iván García, 21 March 2017 — In the slum of Lawton, south of Havana, the need for housing has converted an old collective residence with narrow passageways into a bunkhouse. With dividers made from cardboard or bricks recovered from demolished buildings, “apartments” have appeared where a dozen families reside, living on the razor’s edge. Among … Continue reading "The Cuban Regime Survives by Fear / Iván García" Continue reading
El senador estadounidense reiteró que EEUU debe exigir su libertad Continue reading
José Daniel Ferrer: "This Type Of Assault Does Not Discourage Us" / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 9 March 2017 — The leader of the Patriotic Union of
Cuba, José Daniel Ferrer, was released Thursday after being detained for
more than 24 hours. The opponent denounced an "increase in
the repression" against the activists of his movement, in a phone call
to 14ymedio a few minutes after his release.

"The search of the homes began at six in the morning," explains Ferrer,
who was taken out of his home at eight o'clock in the morning this
Wednesday and taken to the First Police Unit of Santiago de Cuba, known
as Micro 9.

The former prisoner of the Black Spring explains that the police raided
six properties of UNPACU members. They seized "food, a hard disc,
several USB memories, two laptops, five cellphones, seven wireless
devices, a stereo, a large refrigerator, an electric typewriter and a
camera."

"I spent more than six hours in an office with a guard," Ferrer recalls.
"Then they put me in a cell where you could have filmed a horror movie
for the amount of blood on the walls of someone who had been cut."

The dissident was interrogated by an official who identified himself as
Captain Quiñones, who threatened to send him to prison for "incitement
to violence," in a recent video posted on Twitter. Ferrer flatly denies
the accusation.

During the operation they also confiscated medications such as aspirin,
duralgine, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

"Most of our activists are in high spirits," says Ferrer. "This type of
assault does not discourage us," he adds. He says that "from November
2015 to date, there have been more than 140" raids of houses of members
of the organization.

On 18 December, at least nine houses of members of the opposition
movement were searched and numerous personal belongings seized by
members of the Ministry of Interior.

Among those who still have not been released are the activists Jorge
Cervantes, coordinator of UNPACU in Las Tunas, and Juan Salgado, both of
whom are being held in the third police unit in that eastern city. The
whereabouts of opponent Esquizander Benítez remain unknown. In addition,
about 50 of UNPACU's militants are being held in several prisons in the
country, which makes the it the opposition organization with the most
political prisoners in the country.

Source: José Daniel Ferrer: "This Type Of Assault Does Not Discourage
Us" / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/jose-daniel-ferrer-this-type-of-assault-does-not-discourage-us-14ymedio/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 9 March 2017 — The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, José Daniel Ferrer, was released Thursday after being detained for more than 24 hours. The opponent denounced an “increase in the repression” against the activists of his movement, in a phone call to 14ymedio a few minutes after his release. “The search of … Continue reading "José Daniel Ferrer: “This Type Of Assault Does Not Discourage Us” / 14ymedio" Continue reading
Cuban Human Rights Group Denounces The Death Of A Political Prisoner
Pending Trial / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 7 March 2017 — The Cuban Commission for Human Rights
and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) has denounced the death of
political prisoner Hamel Santiago Maz Hernández, an activist from
UNPACU, who died* on February 24 at Combinado del Este prison in
Havana. The opponent had been imprisoned for eight months without trial
for the alleged offense of contempt.

The CCDHRN has released its report for the month of February in which it
says that "there have been thousands of cases of Cubans killed in
government custody," a situation for which the authorities bear all the
"moral and legal responsibility."

The report includes the 482 arbitrary arrests of dissidents last month,
a "slightly higher figure than in January."

The CCDHRN also documented 16 cases of physical aggression and 18 of
harassment, "by the secret political police and para-police agents,"
with the victims being peaceful opponents, adds the report.

The text clarifies that, given "the closed nature of the regime that has
ruled Cuba for almost 60 years," it is "impossible to record the
thousands of violations of fundamental rights" that occur throughout the
island each month.

Nevertheless, it reports that the Ladies in White and the Patriotic
Union of Cuba (UNPACU) are once again the organizations most
repressed. In the case of the women's organization, they have been
"subjected to humiliations and other abuses" over and over. For its
part, 54 members of the UNPACU "are political prisoners, most of whom
remain imprisoned without formal charges or pending trial."

During 2016, the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National
Reconciliation (CCDHRN) documented 9,940 arbitrary detentions. This
figure "places the Government of Cuba in the first place in all of Latin
America," according to the independent organization.

*Translator's note: Cuban State Security informed his wife that he died
of a heart attack.

Source: Cuban Human Rights Group Denounces The Death Of A Political
Prisoner Pending Trial / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuban-human-rights-group-denounces-the-death-of-a-political-prisoner-pending-trial-14ymedio/ Continue reading
Raúl Castro slams Trump – and I'm forced to agree with the dictator. How
sick is that?
BY FABIOLA SANTIAGO
fsantiago@miamiherald.com

Cuban dictator Raúl Castro has no moral authority to condemn any
democratically elected world leader.

Not when the most distinguishing trait of his and his late brother's
legacy is death, prison and exile for millions of his critics and
opponents. Not when, as if the Castros didn't already have enough blood
on their hands, there's another dissident who has died amid questionable
circumstances.

Hamell Santiago Mas Hernández, 45, walked into one of Cuba's most brutal
prisons as a healthy man after being arrested in June for a catch-all
offense dubbed desacato — disrespect — widely used as an excuse to pick
up dissidents. Eight months later, he died awaiting trial, supposedly of
a heart attack. He had developed a kidney infection and had lost 35
pounds in three weeks. His wife has denounced conditions at the
Combinado del Este prison, where not even the water is fit to drink. The
Castros have for decades refused to let independent monitors inspect
prisons where political prisoners are kept in inhumane conditions.

So I repeat: Cuban dictator Raúl Castro has no moral authority to
condemn any U.S. president.

But President Donald Trump is an easy target — and Castro is no fool.

He smells the weakness — and opportunity — handed to him on a silver
platter by Trump acting like the hemisphere's new bully on the block.

In a regional summit with leftist leaders in Caracas on Sunday, Castro
lashed out at Trump's immigration and trade policies, calling his plan
to build a wall along the Mexican border "irrational."

"The new agenda of the U.S. government threatens to unleash an extreme
and egotistical trade policy that will impact the competitiveness of our
foreign trade, violate environmental agreements to favor the profits of
transnational [companies], hunt down and deport migrants," Castro said.

And here I am, critic and exile, being forced to agree with the dictator
— a first.

How sick is that?

It's repulsive, but Trump rose to power on an agenda that puts this
country at odds with the rest of the Americas, including our allies. His
first 1 ½ months in office have been like nothing Americans have ever
seen, with Draconian executive orders being signed amid a growing
scandal about Russia's tampering with the U.S. election to benefit him,
and the lingering questions: How much did Trump know? Did he participate?

It's especially notable that Castro has chosen to break his silence on
Trump at a time when the Trump administration is in the middle of "a
full review" of President Obama's U.S.-Cuba policy — and before any
changes are announced. Castro's only comment after Trump took office was
cordial (and, as always, pompous) indicating Cuba's willingness to
"continue negotiating bilateral issues with the United States on a basis
of equality and respect of our country's sovereignty and independence."
Cuba's ambassador attended Trump's inauguration and tweeted from it. At
least two of Trump's White House advisors have been to Cuba and were
ecstatic about doing business there during the Obama years.

But Cuban Americans in Congress have been pressuring Trump to get tough
on Castro and return to the isolation polices of the late 1990s and
early 2000s. That didn't yield much change, and certainly no end to the
58-year-old dictatorship. But during Obama's tenure — and under
unrelenting internal pressure from dissidents, independent journalists,
and a population that simply can't stand the oppression anymore — Raúl
Castro began some reforms, even if the quashing of opponents seldom
relented.

It would be a regrettable turn of events if, at this critical juncture,
Trump's protective nationalist policies gave new combative fodder to
Castro — who has promised to finally leave his post in 2018 — or to
those waiting in the wings to take over Cuba.

I'll say it again: Raúl Castro — head of one of the longest-lasting
dictatorships in the world — is no one to talk.

Yet, here I am, to quote Blue Oyster Cult, giving the devil his due.

Fabiola Santiago: fsantiago@miamiherald.com, @fabiolasantiago

Source: Cuban dictator Raul Castro slams Trump's immigration and trade
policy | Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/fabiola-santiago/article137006518.html Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 7 March 2017 — The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) has denounced the death of political prisoner Hamel Santiago Maz Hernández, an activist from UNPACU, who died* on February 24 at Combinado del Este prison in Havana. The opponent had been imprisoned for eight months without trial for the alleged … Continue reading "Cuban Human Rights Group Denounces The Death Of A Political Prisoner Pending Trial / 14ymedio" Continue reading
Cuba: 50 Ladies in White Arrested After Communist Mob Stones HQ
Kyodo via AP Images
by FRANCES MARTEL 6 Mar 2017

The Cuban anti-Communist group Ladies in White reports at least 50 of
its members were arrested this weekend following a mob attack on their
headquarters in Havana, in which the dissidents were forced to hide as
the mob hurled large stones into the building.
"They called us mercenaries, paid for by the Empire [the United States],
told us to get on a raft and go," Ladies in White member María Cristina
Labrada told the Spain-based publication Diario de Cuba.

"They shouted obscenities at us, called us whores, lesbians, told us to
come out so they could beat us." Labrada added that the group, which she
estimated to be about 200 people, ran to the other side of the building
in which they typically congregate on Sundays to avoid coming "under
fire with stones… they threw large rocks, we had to cover up the TV and
get away."

Ultimately, the women needed to leave the building. Labrada says the mob
beat those who left, ensuring to cover up any cell phone cameras that
could capture the attack.

The government reportedly organized the mob at a nearby park under the
guise of an International Women's Day celebration. "I think the goal was
to organize people at that activity and bring them here," Labrada said
from the Ladies in White headquarters.

Miami's Martí Noticias cited a different Lady in White, Denia Fernández,
who confirmed the event as an attempt to keep the Ladies from attending
Catholic Mass on Sundays. The group, founded during the Black Spring of
2003, began as a support group for the wives, daughters, sisters, and
mothers of political prisoners. The Ladies in White attend Catholic Mass
every Sunday carrying the portraits of their relatives who remain
imprisoned for opposing Communism. The government often intervenes to
prevent them from attending Mass, even during holiday seasons like Lent.

Violence against the Ladies in White is common in Cuba. In an incident
in December, for example, Lady in White Ivonne Lemus lost consciousness
after a Cuban state police officer repeatedly slammed her head on the
pavement while arresting her. During high-profile visits like those of
Pope Francis and former U.S. President Barack Obama, police beat and
temporarily detained Ladies in White members to prevent them from
attending welcome event for the prominent individuals. The women would
be beaten and driven hours away from their homes, abandoned with no way
of returning to their families.

During Pope Francis's visit in 2015, Ladies in White leader Berta Soler
recalled: "They grabbed me by the hair, by the neck, and shoved my
violently into a car."

That same year, a Communist mob attacked Lady in White Digna Rodríguez
Ibañez and doused her in tar as a form of humiliation.

While President Obama claimed that opening the United States up for
further interaction with the dictatorship of Raúl Castro would help the
Cuban people, extreme repression of dissidents has continued, and
worsened, since his "normalization" announcement in December 2014. The
Cuban Observatory for Human Rights documented 484
arbitrary/politically-motivated arrests in February 2017 alone. Largely
driven by Ladies in White activity, 77 percent of those arrested were women.

The 2016 U.S. State Department Human Rights Report on Cuba found
multiple incidents of police torture of dissidents, including an
incident in March 2016 in which "police officers allegedly beat two
members of the Damas de Blanco with cables" and multiple reports of
"head injuries, bites, bruises, and other injuries during
government-sponsored counter protests and detentions."

Source: Cuba: 50 Ladies in White Arrested After Communist Mob Stoning -
http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/03/06/cuba-communist-mob-stones-ladies-white-way-church/ Continue reading
Editorial: Rosa María Payá and Castroism's fear
DDC | Madrid | 23 de Febrero de 2017 - 12:37 CET.

In Havana, Rosa María Payá, President of the Latin American Youth
Network for Democracy, was going to bestow the Oswaldo Payá Freedom and
Life Award on Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS, and to honor
late Chilean President Patricio Aylwin, represented by his daughter,
former minister and ex-representative Mariana Aylwin.

In 2002 Oswaldo Payá submitted 11,020 signatures to the Cuban National
Assembly and, in 2004, 14,000 additional ones demanding the freedom of
association, the freedom of speech and press, free elections, and
amnesty for political prisoners. Securing the support of such a large
number of people under circumstances like Cuba's entailed a complex
mobilization effort headed up by the leader of the Varela Project, the
largest undertaken by the democratic opposition in Cuba.

The response of the National Assembly to this request resulted in a
modification of the Constitution, with socialism being described as
"irreversible" in Cuba.

Oswaldo Payá perished on July 22, 2012 on a road near Bayamo. His family
reported that the car he was traveling in was hit by a State Security
vehicle. The circumstances of his death remain unclear. The regime has
never allowed an investigation by international experts, and sought to
close the case with a farcical trial.

Thereafter, while upholding her father and his legacy, Rosa María Payá
has continued her struggle for the democratization of Cuba, framing it
in a continental context. This has helped to overturn the tendency to
approach Cuba separately, as unique exception, in the region. Payá has
shown solidarity with the causes and challenges facing youth and
activists from other countries, obtaining the same in return.

The result of this has been a wave of condemnations and expressions of
solidarity from figures such as former Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright, and former presidents Sebastián Piñera (Chile) and Felipe
Calderón (Mexico), to the obstacles placed by the regime against the
awards ceremony, to be held in Havana. Once again Castroism has shown
that it is, irreversibly, a dictatorship. Denying entry to the Secretary
General of the OAS and other international invitees merely evidences its
desperation and fear.

Source: Editorial: Rosa María Payá and Castroism's fear | Diario de Cuba
- http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1487849877_29173.html Continue reading
Editorial: The Catholic Church takes a good step
DDC | Madrid | 20 de Febrero de 2017 - 09:41 CET.

Ever since the trip to Cuba taken by Pope John Paul II, the Cuban
Catholic Church's dedication to the defense of human rights has clearly
been insufficient. Understandably, some have come to describe this
failure as constituting collusion with the dictatorship, especially
during the years and years under Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, who
decided to advance the Church's position on the Island at the expense of
not denouncing the social, political and economic crisis induced by the
dictatorship. Ortega Alamino even went so far as to deny the existence
of political prisoners in Cuba, and to serve as a spokesman for the
regime in various international forums.

While Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Cuba yielded few advances in the
struggle for human rights, that by Pope Francis was downright
regrettable, with the pontiff solely focused on repairing relations
between Cuba and the US, without even acknowledging the main problems
haunting the country: the lack of freedom and permanent violations of
human rights.

On Wednesday, however, the current Archbishop of Havana, Juan de la
Caridad Garcia, received representatives of the Ladies in White and
spoke with them, thereby sending an encouraging signal.

Hopefully this dialogue will help to lessen the harassment this group of
women regularly receives from civil society, and the Catholic Church,
without renouncing its ecclesiastical work and promotion of the faith,
will speak out regarding the injustices suffered by the Cuban people at
the regime's hands.

The trail blazed by Archbishop Juan de la Caridad García must be trod
again in the near future, for the sake of the Catholic Church, and for
the good of the Cuban people, both believers and nonbelievers.

Source: Editorial: The Catholic Church takes a good step | Diario de
Cuba - http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1487580115_29087.html Continue reading
The Spirit Of The Executions Still Haunts La Cabaña / Cubanet, Tania
Diaz Castro

Cubanet, Tania Diaz castro, 14 February 2017 — Nelson Rodríguez Leiva,
26, was shot in La Fortaleza de la Cabaña in 1971, along with his
dearest friend, Angelito de Jesús Rabí, 17.

Also in the same place, but a century earlier, the poet Juan Clemente
Zenea was shot.

It did not help Nelson that, in 1960 he had been a teacher in the
Literacy Campaign in the mountains of Oriente, or that in 1964 he
already had an excellent book of stories published by Virgilio Piñera,
in Ediciones R, or that his mother Ada Leiva wrote a letter to Fidel
Castro asking for clemency for her son, or that another book of Nelson's
poems was pending publication.

Just a few days ago El Nuevo Herald in Miami published an extensive
report about the exposition of the writer Juan Abreu, with one hundred
portraits of those executed by the Castro regime, painted by him, and
presented at the headquarters of the European Parliament in Brussels,
Belgium.

Perhaps Nelson's face was there.

Abreu received the respect and admiration of former political prisoners
such as Pedro Corso, director of the Cuban Institute of Historical
Memory Against Totalitarianism, and the poet Angel Cuadra, who said that
Abreu's Exposition "… is like making history talk through the faces, to
rescue them and give them new life." He would have also received the
support of the writer Reinaldo Arenas, a dear friend, who lamentably
died in New York and who always remembered his friend Nelson.

It's about, said Abreu, "… not conventional portraits, but an approach
to the faces, so often blurred, conserved in old photos."

Abreu's project is a history of the Cuban regime, today in the hands of
Raul Castro, who wants to erase, above all, those days when this place
was used for executions after summary trials, to make examples or simply
for revenge or fear of a fierce opposition that arose among all the
political opponents condemned to death. Bringing it to the European
Parliament must be considered a victory.

The number of five thousand individuals shot dead hangs like a Sword of
Damocles over Cuba. The spirit of all these who faced the firing squad
hangs over La Cabana Fortress, no matter how many parties are held
there, no matter who much fun and excitement and hullabaloo there is, no
matter how many books are sold at the book fair that the executioner
government hold every year, for a people who are so busy just trying to
survive that they don't have time to read.

In this fortress, with a history as dark as the dictatorship itself, the
Book Fair is celebrated, strategic project of Fidel Castro to clean the
blood off their graves, cells, bars and walls, as if history could be
made to disappear.

The two young writers, Nelson and Angelito, were tied up there, their
eyes closed, so as not to see the rifles of the night, close together,
as they asked to die.

Not long ago, someone who knew them, told me that Nelson was very
romantic, that he wept with the melodies of The Beatles, and even
resembled a bit James Dean, the American actor of the fifties and that
Angelito, converted Into his noble page, had the face of a child.

Through the sad streets of La Cabaña Fortress, where Nelson and his
friend walked towards death, today walk the "grateful" who ignore this
story. They are looking for a book to read. Not precisely Nelson's book
of stories, The Gift, or those pages smeared with tears that someone
picked up from an empty dungeon.

Source: The Spirit Of The Executions Still Haunts La Cabaña / Cubanet,
Tania Diaz Castro – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-spirit-of-the-executions-still-haunts-la-cabana-cubanet-tania-diaz-castro/ Continue reading
Cubanet, Tania Diaz castro, 14 February 2017 — Nelson Rodríguez Leiva, 26, was shot in La Fortaleza de la Cabaña in 1971, along with his dearest friend, Angelito de Jesús Rabí, 17. Also in the same place, but a century earlier, the poet Juan Clemente Zenea was shot. It did not help Nelson that, in … Continue reading "The Spirit Of The Executions Still Haunts La Cabaña / Cubanet, Tania Diaz Castro" Continue reading
14ymedio, Miami, 16 February 2017 — US President Donald Trump referred to the Cuban-American community during a press conference on Thursday, stating “Cuba was very good to me” and said that he was referring to the role in the US elections of the “Cuban-American people.” Trump won the Florida vote in last November’s election and … Continue reading "Donald Trump: “Cuba Was Very Good To Me” / 14ymedio" Continue reading
The video of Maldenado’s remarks is here. His prepared remarks begin at 01:18:00, and can be read here in English. He then answers questions at 2:18:31. 14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 16 February 2017 — Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto, a well-known Cuban graffiti artist and human rights activist, appeared before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, … Continue reading "‘El Sexto’ Appears Before US Senate to Speak of Human Rights / 14ymedio, Mario Penton" Continue reading
More Than 50% Of Cuba's Political Prisoners Belong To UNPACU, According
To Human Rights Group / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 6 February 2017 – A report released this Monday by the
National Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation
(CCDHRN) counts 478 arbitrary arrests against dissidents throughout the
island during the month of January. The text states that during the past
month, there were 20 arrests more than in December 2016.

The independent body documents "12 cases of physical aggression and 11
cases of harassment" of opponents, a situation that is part of the
"policy of intimidating repression" that "has prevailed in Cuba for
nearly six decades."

The CCDHRN affirms that the Ladies in White movement continues to be a
priority target of political repression, although the Patriotic Union of
Cuba (UNPACU) also is a particular target of "the arbitrary arrests and
destructive raids against its members."

UNPACU, an opposition organization with a strong presence in the east of
the country, has been the victim of "plundering of their means of work
(laptops , cameras, mobile phones, etc.)." These police acts have been
carried out "with a great deal of political hatred," the Commission
points out.

The report conveys the concern of the CCDHRN on "the situation in prison
of Dr. Eduardo Cardet, general coordinator of the Christian Liberation
Movement, who has just been adopted as a prisoner of conscience by
Amnesty International."

For ordinary prisoners, "material conditions and abuse continue to
worsen" in the nearly two hundred prisons and prison camps on the island

The concern extends to the "arbitrary detention for several days, of
Karina Galvez," a member of the editorial board of the
magazine Coexistence, accused of the crime of tax evasion and now
awaiting trial. The economist was released on bail on January 17 after
six days of detention.

The Commission states that "the number of politically motivated
prisoners in Cuba is still over 100, of which 55 are active members of
the Patriotic Union of Cuba." For ordinary prisoners, "material
conditions and abuse continue to worsen" in the nearly two hundred
prisons and prison camps on the island.

The text states that the Government "continues to use prisoners as
semi-skilled labor in various jobs for commercial purposes," including
"the production of charcoal for export, mainly to Europe and the United
States of America," referring to the recent shipment of charcoal made
from the invasive marabou week to the United States.

Last year the CCDHRN documented a total of 9,940 arbitrary arrests, a
figure that "places the Government of Cuba in the first place in all
of Latin America" with regards to arrests of this type, according to a
report by the independent organization.

Source: More Than 50% Of Cuba's Political Prisoners Belong To UNPACU,
According To Human Rights Group / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/more-than-50-of-cubas-political-prisoners-belong-to-unpacu-according-to-human-rights-group-14ymedio/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 6 February 2017 – A report released this Monday by the National Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) counts 478 arbitrary arrests against dissidents throughout the island during the month of January. The text states that during the past month, there were 20 arrests more than in December 2016. The independent body … Continue reading "More Than 50% Of Cuba’s Political Prisoners Belong To UNPACU, According To Human Rights Group / 14ymedio" Continue reading
"I come from the street, but I did not want to stay there," says 'El
Sexto' / 14ymedio, Mario Penton


Danilo Maldonado (El Sexto) after his release from prison. (14ymedio)
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 3 February 2017 — The uniform haircut
imposed upon entering the Combinado del Este prison contrasts with the
stains of fresh paint on the shoes of the super tall man, who stands
nearly 6'5″. Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as 'El Sexto' (The Sixth),
a graffiti artist and human rights activist in Cuba, embodies the
antithesis of the New Man forged by the Revolution.

After being imprisoned for 55 days for painting graffiti on a wall of
the Habana Libre hotel, Maldonado was released on 21 January. He is
currently visiting Miami to promote his art and to thank the Cuban
community there for their support.

His life has not been easy. He was born in 1983 and grew up in the years
of the Special Period when the Soviet subsidies ended and the island was
plunged into misery. Originally from Camaguey, he had to share a roof in
Havana with another family and take on the weight of a home without a
father.

His art is street art. He never went to an academy. As a child he tried
but was rejected for being "very small"

"In those years I was selling milk caramels in the neighborhood to help
my mother get by," he recalls.

"Sometimes we did not even have fifty cents to buy milk. The rebellion
against poverty and oppression began at that time."

His art is street art. He never went to an academy. As a child he tried
but was rejected for being "very small." Leonel, a teacher in the House
of Culture in his neighborhood, took him under his wing and showed him
the first strokes.

"From there I wanted to get out what I had inside, but I did not know
how," he says.

The first time that Maldonado went to prison was due to a robbery at a
warehouse on a Cuban Army tank base. At that time he was serving his
compulsory military service. He was sentenced to six years in
prison. The prison experience changed him "forever."

"Prison is a place where you find many types of people, with different
cultures and points of view. Learning to live among them, to live
together, is one of the great lessons that experience left me with," he
says.

His artistic name, El Sexto (The Sixth) occurred to him in the midst of
the Cuban government's campaign to bring back "The Cuban Five" – spies
imprisoned in the U.S.

In prison he also learned that respect is not gained through violence
but "with principles and with acting in the right way of."

Maldonado does not hide that he had a troubled past.

"I have been involved in many things in my life that have made me what I
am. I do not come from a monastery. I come from the street but that is
not where I wanted to stay," he answers when asked about the campaign
against him pushed by bloggers working for the Cuban government who
accuse him of being addicted to drugs.

"People change, they have the right to do it. I do not like even the
smell of drinking," adds the artist.

His artistic name, El Sexto (the Sixth), came in the midst of the
campaign by the Cuban government to bring back the five Wasp Network
spies imprisoned in the United States, who were known in Cuba as "The
Five Heroes."

He called himself "The Sixth Hero," who represented the voice of the
Cuban people, "the hostage" of the dictatorship, according to Maldonado.

Maldonado has been arrested three times for political reasons

"They (the Government) put them on television, like they are part of
your family. I want people to know the message of freedom and to open
their eyes. So I understood I had to come to them with a message that
was sarcastic and that everyone could understand," he says.

"You cross out my things, I cross out yours," he wrote, about the stupid
black spots that officialdom uses to try to hide graffit in the capital.
In addition, he distributed leaflets with subservise phrases and invited
the whole world to be free and happy.

"I am doing my work: being free. I would like others to see that it is
possible to be free and to break with the government," he says when
asked about his role in Cuban culture.

Maldonado has been arrested three times for political reasons. In 2014
he attempted to stage a street performance titled Animal Farm. He
proposed to release two pigs in Havana's Central Park. On the backs of
piglets, which were painted green, the names of the Cuban rulers were
also painted: Fidel on one piglet and Raúl on the other.

The idea was that whoever captured the piglets could keep them as a
prize. It was easy to imagine what the winners would do with them. The
daring act, which never came to fruition, cost him ten months'
imprisonment in the Valle Grande prison.

El Sexto has been imprisoned for joining the Ladies in White in their
Sunday protest marches to demand the release of political prisoners

The conditions in the Cuban prisons, the dirt, the bad food and the
degrading treatment to the inmates were documented by him in a diary. In
addition, the artist was able to take photographs that he clandestinely
sneaked out of Valle Grande to support his complaints.

Art and his activism go hand in hand. Sometimes both activities are
scandalous.

"There are people who accuse me of calling the flag a 'rag' or reproach
me for a work of art made with the bust of José Martí. For me what is
truly sacred is human life, above any other symbol created by society. I
believe in life and in respect for it," says Maldonado.

El Sexto has been imprisoned for joining the Ladies in White in their
Sunday protest marches to demand the release of political prisoners, and
has been part of the 'We All March' campaign.

Laura Pollán, the deceased leader of the Ladies in White and Oswaldo
Payá, the deceased leader of the Christian Liberation Movement,
are tattooed on his skin, along with a petition for the release of
Leopoldo López, a Venezuelan politician currently a political prisoner
in that country.

In 2015, Danilo Maldonado received the Vaclav Havel Prize, for "creative
dissent, the display of courage and creativity to challenge injustice
and live in truth"

"I am worried about the situation of political prisoners in Cuba,
Eduardo Cardet and many others," he says. He is also trying to sensitize
the international community to the drama of thousands of Cubans who were
stranded in Latin America following Barack Obama's repeal of the wet
foot/dry foot policy, shortly before he left office.

"These are our brothers, we should unite to help them. As long as we
Cubans do not join together, we will not change the situation of our
country," he laments.

In 2015, Danilo Maldonado received the Vaclav Havel Prize, awarded to
people "who participate in creative dissent, display courage and
creativity to challenge injustice and live in truth."

Currently, El Sexto is preparing an art exhibition in the United
States. He also plans to travel to Geneva to talk about human rights in
Cuba and plans to attend the Oslo Freedom Forum.

_______________________________

This article is part of an agreement between 14ymedio and the Nuevo Herald.

Source: "I come from the street, but I did not want to stay there," says
'El Sexto' / 14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/i-come-from-the-street-but-i-did-not-want-to-stay-there-says-el-sexto-14ymedio-mario-penton/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 3 February 2017 — The uniform haircut imposed upon entering the Combinado del Este prison contrasts with the stains of fresh paint on the shoes of the super tall man, who stands nearly 6’5″. Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as ‘El Sexto’ (The Sixth), a graffiti artist and human rights activist in Cuba, embodies … Continue reading "“I come from the street, but I did not want to stay there,” says ‘El Sexto’ / 14ymedio, Mario Penton" Continue reading
The Struggle for Freedom Continues in Cuba
by MARIO T. DE LA PENA February 5, 2017 4:00 AM

Fidel Castro is dead, but Castroism still needs to be defeated

Fidel Castro died on November 25, but Castroism — the one-party,
neo-Stalinist system that has tyrannized Cuba for more than half a
century — still needs to be defeated.

Fidel's brother, Raúl, "president" of the island nation for most of the
last decade, has shown no signs of ending the political oppression and
human-rights violations that define the regime. To be sure, Raúl has
made a few minor reforms out of necessity, to open up the economy. But
those changes have not been accompanied by political reforms.

The Obama administration restored diplomatic relations with the Cuban
government and made it easier for Americans to travel and do business
there. On January 12 of this year, the administration announced that it
was ending the longstanding "wet foot, dry foot" policy that grants
permanent-resident status to any Cuban who makes it to the U.S. shore.
And back in October, the Obama administration announced the
implementation of Presidential Policy Directive 43, which directs the
Department of Defense to expand its relationship with Havana.

Other changes include permitting Americans to bring back as much Cuban
rum and cigars as they like from Cuba. "Already we are seeing what the
United States and Cuba can accomplish when we put aside the past and
work to build a brighter future," U.S. National Security Adviser Susan
Rice said at the time. "You can now celebrate with Cuban rum and Cuban
cigars!"

But Cubans aren't celebrating. Under Castroism, Cuba's main
accomplishments have been the highest per-capita rates of suicide,
abortion, and refugees in the Western Hemisphere. Cuba has the oldest
population in Latin America. Cuba ages and withers away, strangled by
Castro's tyranny.

The problem with Obama's overtures is that they have not been
reciprocated by the Cuban regime. There is still no respect for human
rights or political freedom. As Amnesty International put it recently:

Despite increasingly open diplomatic relations, severe restrictions on
freedoms of expression, association and movement continued. Thousands of
cases of harassment of government critics and arbitrary arrests and
detentions were reported.

But the situation is not hopeless. Cubans of different generations and
backgrounds are committed like never before to working for a free Cuba.

There are many things Cubans, Cuban Americans, and other people of
goodwill can do. They can support the resistance by encouraging those
who are involved in direct civic action on the island. For instance, the
Ladies in White, a group of wives, mothers, and sisters of jailed
dissidents, continue to suffer beatings, harassment, and jailing at the
hands of the government for their silent, non-violent marches. Such
protests are an indispensable means through which Cubans' rights will be
regained.

What must happen for Cuba to be free? The regime must give general
amnesty for all political prisoners. That means full rights to free
expression, access to information, assembly, association, peaceful
protest, profession, and worship.

Other essential rights include the right to collective bargaining, the
rule of law, checks and balances, and the balance of power, including an
independent judiciary.

A free Cuba will be realized only when multi-party elections are held
and the right to vote and the privacy of the ballot are respected. For
that to happen, a constitutional process must take place that includes a
constitutional convention and a referendum on a new constitution.

Many Cuban Americans hope that President Trump will be a stronger
advocate for human rights than Barack Obama was. During the campaign,
Trump promised to "stand with the Cuban people in their fight against
Communist oppression" and criticized the "concessions" that Barack Obama
made to the Castros. He promised to secure a "better deal" between the
two countries than the one Obama negotiated.

Trump should make it clear that he will sever diplomatic relations with
the Cuban government unless it makes progress to end political
repression, opens its markets, protects freedom of religion, and
releases all political prisoners.

The public may believe that, now that Fidel and Obama are gone, Cuba is
well on its way to being free. But Castroism didn't die with Fidel. The
repression and violence against the Cuban people continues. Economic
changes alone will not bring about democracy. They are important, but
only respect for human rights and political liberty will truly make Cuba
free.

— Mario T. de la Peña is an advocate for a free and democratic Cuba who
has lived in the United States since 1962.

Source: Cuba Post-Castro: Repression Continues | National Review -
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444622/cuba-post-castro-repression-continues Continue reading
… ' POLICY FOR CUBAN REFUGEES Every day the Cubans gather there, just … ; (people traffickers) along the way. CUBAN-AMERICANS BOTH CELEBRATE, DEPLORE END OF … Lester Diaz, who lived in Havana. "It's unfair … deportation, Sara Ramos said "Cuba supposedly has no political prisoners … Continue reading
Jose Marti's Birthday Is Marked By House Arrests / 14ymedio

14ymedio, 28 January 2017 – On the 164th anniversary of the birth of
José Martí, the day was marked by house arrests of several activists and
the arrest of the regime opponent Manuel Cuesta Morúa. The most intense
operation has been against those involved in a global action to demand
the release of political prisoners and demand access to the internet.

The initiative is promoted with the slogan "Occupy Your WiFi Point,"
urging Cubans to use the wireless internet connection areas as spaces to
claim greater freedoms. One of the main promoters of the campaign,
scientist Oscar Casanella, was warned by the police early in the day
that they would not let him leave his house.

Opposition leader Manuel Cuesta Morúa, a member of the Democratic Action
Roundtable (MUAD), was arrested on Saturday afternoon outside the home
of an activist from the organization at Neptuno and San Francisco, in
Central Havana, as reported to this newspaper by Ileana Hernandez
program director Lens Cubano .

Hernandez said that the arrest occurred around 4:30 in the afternoon
when Cuesta Morúa interceded for her before two men in civilian clothes
who were preventing her from accessing the house of dissident Aída
Valdés Santana, a member of MUAD.

"They threw him on the ground and called a police patrol to take him
away," Hernandez says.

"It was not political at all what was going to happen here, we were just
going to eat," says the activist.

A witness later spotted Cuesta Morúa when he was transferred to the
police car on San Lázaro Avenue. This newspaper called the official
telephone number where Cubans can inquire about people arrested, but was
told that Cuesta Morua is not registered.

The leader of the Somos+ (We Are More) Movement, Eliécer Ávila,
denounced that fact that as of Saturday morning three members of State
Security had warned him that they would not allow him to leave his
house. "They have been been in the hallway to the outside to prevent us
from going to the street," the activist said.

"They told me that although they had no confirmation that there was
going to be a public event, they were here for safety," Ávila
explains. Officers told him that this January 28 was "a very important
day for the Revolution" and they would not allow "provocations."

A similar situation was experienced by Luis Alberto Mariño, known as
Tito, a member of the initiative Cuba Decides and one of the most
visible faces of the call for civic action this January 28.

"Yesterday an officer came to warn me that I could not go out, and he is
now out there and says if I go out he will arrest me," he told 14ymedio.

Activist Lia Villares also reported that "two state security agents on a
motorcycle" visited her to threaten her and they remained "on guard" to
prevent her from leaving her home in Vedado.

From Matanzas the ex-prisioner of the Black Spring, Iván Hernández
Carrillo, reported the arrest of regime opponents Sayli Navarro, Félix
Navarro and Francisco Rangel, who also participated in the campaign.

In Palmarito del Cauto the coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba
(Unpacu), Jorge Cervantes García, was arrested according to a report in
the Twitter account of the dissident Carlos Amel Oliva.

Last year, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National
Reconciliation (CCDHRN) documented a total of 9,940 arbitrary arrests
throughout the country. A figure that "puts the Government of Cuba in
first place in all of Latin America," said the report of the independent
organization.

Source: Jose Marti's Birthday Is Marked By House Arrests / 14ymedio –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/jose-martis-birthday-is-marked-by-house-arrests-14ymedio/ Continue reading
14ymedio, 28 January 2017 – On the 164th anniversary of the birth of José Martí, the day was marked by house arrests of several activists and the arrest of the regime opponent Manuel Cuesta Morúa. The most intense operation has been against those involved in a global action to demand the release of political prisoners and … Continue reading "Jose Marti’s Birthday Is Marked By House Arrests / 14ymedio" Continue reading
21 km for Cuban Political Prisoners / Luis Felipe Rojas

Luis Felipe Rojas, 21 January 2017 — This 29th of January I will be
running the Miami Half Marathon. It will be 21 kilometers of puffing and
panting while I think about the people who are in jail in Cuba because
of their opinions.

My legs and ankles will get unscrewed, my liver will tell me to stop
throughout the entire 13.1 miles of the run, which I will try to
survive. I come from an island where you are not allowed to criticise
whichever dictator happens to be there. Isn't 58 years a dreadfully long
time to dictate peoples' lives?

I am going to run for those who held up an anti-government
sign, those who uttered a slogan which clashed with the chorus of sheep
who say yes and think no. Also, for those who once took arms against the
oldest dictatorship in the west: the two Castro brothers.

I have spent exactly a year puffing away along the road for more than
two hours, in the stifling humidity of the Miami swamps, and the sun
which doesn't understand which season is which. Weights, treadmills,
long runs, speed runs, and running barefoot. I want to run through the
21 kilometers of this beautiful city and the endless alleys where you
can breathe the humidity of the Cuban jails.

I want to get to the 8 mile point, which will totally wear me out, like
somebody who gets put in the Guantánamo Penal Institution, "Combinado",
as it is known, the dismal jail in Boniato, Santiago de Cuba, or the
monstrous model prison at Km 8 in Camagüey.

I can do more, I know, but it's a gesture which will do for now. I only
want to invite you to watch the 15th Miami Marathon and Half Marathon. I
will run slowly, to savour and suffer every mile, every pace within the
pack of runners. This Sunday, more than a hundred Cuban political
prisoners will hear the shout Count! and some will be beaten.

The country that is Cuba which will be subdued by each kick, each
beating. A lock will be fastened. Someone will run along the road in
Miami to open it.

Translated by GH

Source: 21 km for Cuban Political Prisoners / Luis Felipe Rojas –
Translating Cuba -
https://translatingcuba.com/21-km-for-cuban-political-prisoners-luis-felipe-rojas/ Continue reading
Luis Felipe Rojas, 21 January 2017 — This 29th of January I will be running the Miami Half Marathon. It will be 21 kilometers of puffing and panting while I think about the people who are in jail in Cuba because of their opinions. My legs and ankles will get unscrewed, my liver will tell me to … Continue reading "21 km for Cuban Political Prisoners / Luis Felipe Rojas" Continue reading
PolitiFact: Were there five times the number of political arrests in
Cuba in 2015 as there were in 2010?

PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter rates a claim about political arrests in
Cuba, and whether or not there have been five times as many in 2015 as
there were in 2010.
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 10:57 AM EST

POLITIFACT RULING

Were there five times as many political arrests in Cuba in 2015 than
there were in 2010?
The recent death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro has raised questions
about the future direction of the country, and whether or not the seeds
of democracy will be planted by the influx of American visitors and
American dollars.

In the view of Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R), it's a "not-so-fast"
situation, because, as Cruz puts it, Cuba is still a dangerous country,
especially when it comes to people who publicly don't agree with the
government. Cruz made this statement about political prisoners in Cuba:

"In 2015, roughly 10,000 political arrests occurred in Cuba. That is
five times as many as occurred in 2010, when there were only about 2,000."

Our partners at PolitiFact Florida took a look at this claim to see if
it was accurate. PolitiFact reporter Allison Graves says that Cruz's
claim rates MOSTLY TRUE on the Truth-O-Meter. Graves says that Cruz,
for the most part, gets the numbers and the gist of the claim correct.

"Sen. Cruz's numbers are mainly accurate, but he would have been more
accurate to cite numbers from 2016, which show more than 10,000
arrests," said Graves. "The data comes from the Cuban Commission for
Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which is a widely respected
organization based in Havana."

Despite being widely respected, Graves says that there are some caveats
with the data. "One of the issues we had with the data is defining the
length of time the government detains you to type you as a political
prisoner," said Graves. "Cuba has a sort of revolving door system, where
they can hold people for months, days, or even hours, and they could
still be considered political prisoners. It raises the question as to
how many of the arrests led to significant time being held as a
political prisoner."

Graves notes, though, that in the broader scheme of things, political
arrests have risen since 2010, and it's not a stretch to make that
claim. PolitiFact rates Cruz's claim MOSTLY TRUE on the Truth-O-Meter.

Source: PolitiFact: Cuban political arrests on the rise? -
http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2017/1/23/politifact_cuba_pris.html Continue reading