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Prison

Appeasement Never Works
by GEORGE WEIGEL February 25, 2017 4:00 AM

And it's making matters worse in Cuba.
At first blush, Luis Almagro would seem an unlikely candidate for the
disfavor of the current Cuban regime. A man of the political Left, he
took office as the tenth secretary general of the Organization of
American States in 2015, vowing to use his term of office to reduce
inequality throughout the hemisphere. Yet Secretary General Almagro was
recently denied a visa to enter Cuba. Why? Because he had been invited
to accept an award named in honor of Cuban democracy activist Oswaldo
Payá, who died in 2012 in an "automobile accident" that virtually
everyone not on the payroll of the Castro regime's security services
regards to this day as an act of state-sanctioned murder. Payá's "crime"
was to organize the Varela Project, a public campaign for basic civil
liberties and free elections on the island prison, and he paid for it
with his life.

The regime's refusal of a visa for the head of the OAS caused a brief
flurry of comment in those shrinking parts of the commentariat that
still pay attention to Cuba, now that Cuban relations with the United
States have been more or less "normalized." But there was another facet
of this nasty little episode that deserves further attention: While
Almagro's entry into Cuba was being blocked, a U.S. congressional
delegation was on the island and, insofar as is known, did nothing to
protest the Cuban government's punitive action against the secretary
general of the OAS.

According to a release from the office of Representative Jim McGovern
(D., Mass.), the CoDel, which also included Senators Patrick Leahy (D.,
Vt.), Thad Cochran (R., Miss.), Michael Bennet (D., Colo.), and Tom
Udall (D.,N.M.), and Representative Seth Moulton (D.,Mass.), intended to
"continue the progress begun by President Obama to bring U.S.–Cuba
relations into the 21st Century and explore new opportunities to promote
U.S. economic development with Cuba," including "economic opportunities
for American companies in the agriculture and health sectors." I've no
idea whether those economic goals were advanced by this junket. What was
certainly not advanced by the CoDel's public silence on the Almagro
Affair while they were in the country was the cause of a free Cuba.

There were and continue to be legitimate arguments on both sides of the
question of whether the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba should be lifted.
And those pushing for a full recission of the embargo are not simply
conscience-lite men and women with dollar signs in their eyes. They
include pro-democracy people who sincerely believe that flooding the
zone in Cuba with American products, American technology, and American
culture will so undermine the Castro regime that a process of
self-liberation will necessarily follow. That this seems not to have
been the case with China is a powerful counterargument. Meanwhile, my
own decidedly minority view — that the embargo should have been
gradually rolled back over the past decade and a half in exchange for
specific, concrete, and irreversible improvements in human rights and
the rule of law, leading to real political pluralization in Cuba — seems
to have fallen completely through the floorboards of the debate.

But as pressures to "normalize" U.S.–Cuba relations across the board
increase, there ought to be broad, bipartisan agreement that Cuban
repression, which has in fact intensified since the Obama initiative two
years ago, should have its costs. If, as Congressman McGovern averred,
he and others want to move Cuba–America relations into the 21st century,
then let him and others who share that goal agree that Cuba should be
treated like any other country: meaning that when it does bad things, it
gets hammered by criticism and pressures are brought to bear to induce
or compel better behavior in the future.

"Opening up" without pressure has never worked with Communist regimes.
It didn't work when the Vatican tried it in east-central Europe in the
1970s; the Ostpolitik of Pope Paul VI made matters worse for the
Catholic Church in Czechoslovakia and Hungary. It didn't work vis-à-vis
the Soviet Union in the years of détente, which coincided with some of
the worst Soviet assaults on human-rights activists. It hasn't worked
with China, where, as in Cuba, repression has increased in recent years.

To will the end — a 21st-century Cuba where the government behaves in a
civilized fashion and economic opportunity is available to all Cubans,
not just those favored by the regime — necessarily involves, at least
for morally and politically serious people, willing the means: which
must include holding the current Cuban regime to account when "opening
up" does not extend to basic civil liberties for the Cuban people, and
when "opening up" does not include a decent respect for the hemispheric
proprieties, such that the head of the OAS is summarily refused entry
into Cuba.

That the Almagro Affair had to do with an award named for Oswaldo Payá,
a true martyr in the cause of freedom who was inspired by Christian
Democratic convictions, suggests that the Castro regime and those who
wish to inherit its power are nervous. Authoritarians confident of their
position would not have reacted so stupidly to an award being given to a
left-leaning, Spanish-speaking, Latin American politician — unless, that
is, they were afraid that the memory of Oswaldo Payá would be rekindled
in the ceremony in which Almagro received the Payá Award. All the more
reason, then, for congressional delegations and others to end the
Neville Chamberlain routine, stop appeasing the Castro regime, and start
taking steps to ensure that what Congressman McGovern called "the
progress begun by President Obama" is, in fact, progress in Cuba — and
not just economic progress, but progress in human rights and the rule of
law.

— George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington's Ethics
and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in
Catholic Studies.

Source: Luis Almagro -- Cuba Blocks Visa for Oswaldo Paya Award |
National Review -
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/445238/luis-almagro-cuba-blocks-visa-oswaldo-paya-award-organization-american-states Continue reading
Felipe Calderón: "I Ask The Cuban Government To Rectify This Absurdity"
/ 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 22 February 2017 — Just five years ago, Mexican
President Felipe Calderón was greeted warmly in Havana during an
official visit. However, this week the now former president was denied
entry to the island to participate in the Oswaldo Payá "Freedom and
Life" awards to be held this Wednesday.

"I deeply regret not being able to be with them at this tribute" to the
deceased opponent, the politician conservative National Action Party
(PAN). "The Cuban immigration authorities asked Aeromexico" not to seat
me on the flight, telling them I was an "inadmissible passenger" on Tuesday.

Prior to the trip, the former president alerted the Mexican Foreign
Ministry of his intention, because he did not want to "arrive as if he
were a tourist." He reported on his departure to Cuba's ambassador to
Mexico, Pedro Núñez, and his country's representative in Havana, Enrique
Martínez.

This is the first time that the Plaza of the Revolution has prevented a
former Mexican president from entering the country, an event that has
raised a diplomatic dust storm, including a tweet from the Mexican
Foreign Ministry in which he "regrets the decision of the Government of
Cuba not to authorize the visit to Havana of former President Felipe
Calderón."

Calderón recalls that he supported "Oswaldo Payá many years ago without
having met him, by spreading the Varela Project and collecting
signatures in Mexico for him." In those years he saw "with great sadness
how the Cubans involved in the project were persecuted."

The politician evokes with special aggravation the Black Spring of 2003
and his indignation to learn that 75 dissidents had been arrested and
sentenced to long prison terms under the so-called Gag Law.

In one of his previous visits to the island, Calderón asked President
Raúl Castro to let him speak with Oswaldo Payá, leader of the Christian
Liberation Movement (MCL). However, "the Cuban government always
resisted," he recalls. He believes that the "diplomatic complications
obstructed" this longed-for encounter.

"I ask the Cuban government to rectify this absurdity," said the former
president, who maintains his idea of ​​meeting "with Oswaldo's family"
whom he admired for being "an example of congruence, civility and love
of neighbor."

The former Chilean foreign minister Mariana Aylwin experienced a similar
situation on Wednesday when she was prevented from boarding a flight
from her country to participate in the ceremony where a posthumous
recognition will be made to her father, Patricio Aylwin, the first
president under democracy in Chile after the dictatorship of Augusto
Pinochet.

The Chilean Foreign Ministry said that the government "will make the
Cuban authorities aware of their displeasure at this action" because the
purpose of Mariana Aylwin's trip "was to receive from a civic
organization the testimony of recognition of her father… The exercise of
this right should not be impeded, especially when in Chile there have
been various acknowledgments of Cuban historical and political figures."

According to Rosa María Payá, Uruguayan Luis Almagro, Secretary General
of the Organization of American States (OAS), has confirmed his presence
at the event today to receive the Freedom and Life Award for his
"outstanding performance in defense of democracy," although he has not
made a statement on the matter.

The award ceremony, which is due to be held on Wednesday, is being led
by the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy, an organization
headed by Rosa María Payá, daughter of the late dissident.

Nationally, the government also prevented independent journalists Sol
García Basulto and Henry Constantin from Camagüey from traveling to
Havana, where they planned to fly to attend the award ceremony. The
Inter American Press Association (IAPA), of which Constantin is regional
vice president for Cuba, issued a protest statement demanding the
release of the reporter, who until yesterday remained detained.

Source: Felipe Calderón: "I Ask The Cuban Government To Rectify This
Absurdity" / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/felipe-calderon-i-ask-the-cuban-government-to-rectify-this-absurdity-14ymedio/ Continue reading
… plans for the facility in Cuba were consistent with his campaign … Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 22 February 2017 — Just five years ago, Mexican President Felipe Calderón was greeted warmly in Havana during an official visit. However, this week the now former president was denied entry to the island to participate in the Oswaldo Payá “Freedom and Life” awards to be held this Wednesday. “I deeply regret not being able … Continue reading "Felipe Calderón: “I Ask The Cuban Government To Rectify This Absurdity” / 14ymedio" Continue reading
Broken Dreams / Cubalex

Translator's note: The references here to the empty offices and the
inability to work relate to a police raid that occurred in September of
last year, during which much of the organization's equipment was
confiscated.

Cubalex, 20 February 2017 – It is an ordinary November day. Cubalex
members are visiting the headquarters, the emptiness of the offices
hardly bearable, their faces are not the same as before, but they
continue to be united.

"A letter has arrived," says an assistant. "Read it out loud," everyone
says. "It is a new case, I don't recall the name," she affirms. "But
start reading it," exclaimed the investigator.

"OK, I'll start," she says. "Havana, 16 November 2016, Dear Laritza and
the Cubalex team, I recently wrote to you, another inmate gave me the
address. Today I received an answer from you in which you explained the
process to be able to help me.

"And I felt like the happiest prisoner in the world. I had written to
all the state institutions and none responded to me. I am speaking to
you from my heart, that you have given me back my hope and a desire to
go on living."

The emotion was visible on everyone's face, after so many days without
being able to do our work this letter filled the space and all of us
with emotion. It was the first pleasant emotion we had felt after more
than 90 days of anguish.

"A million thanks," she continued reading, "love and blessings to
you all, a thousand thanks for the help you can offer me, I have no way
to thank you. I once again want to live. In you, I have found different
human beings.

"I will send you all the documents you asked me for, I am serving a
sentence for a crime I didn't commit, while the real culprit walks free.
They accused me of the theft and slaughter of cattle, and condemned me
to 12 years* and I swear to you I am innocent.

"Soon I will turn 21, you are my best gift, just by responding to my
letters. I was planning to go on a hunger strike, but I knew of
Cubalex's existence and the help you have given to many inmates
here. May God always accompany you and thousands of blessings to you,"
she concluded reading.

"He's just a kid," said the group's senior sadly. "Where is it from?"
"From Agüica," replied the reader, looking at the envelope. "We have to
answer him," said the psychologist, "even if it's on a blank sheet and
with a pen. We must explain what happened at our headquarters on
September 23. He has his hopes set on us."

"I have an envelope, and I saw that they left the stamps on the day of
the [police] operation, you'll find them in my drawer," said the
secretary to the assistant.

"Who will answer him?" She asked. "I will," was the answer that was
heard in chorus. "That's like pouring a bucket of cold water," said
secretary said. "It would be better if the psychologist answered."

The silence was an expression of the anguish captivated them. "Send him
the phone number to call us," advised the Director. "At least we can
guide him. Let's keep the letter, to show it to the teacher Julio on the
next visit to the prison. By the way, who is going to make this visit?"

"I am," replied the social investigator. "Don't worry, I'll give it to him."

*Translator's note: the penalties for unauthorized slaughter of cattle
in Cuba are very severe, and it is literally true that a person
may serve more time for killing a cow than someone else serves for
killing a person.

Source: Broken Dreams / Cubalex – Translating Cuba -
https://translatingcuba.com/broken-dreams-cubalex/ Continue reading
Translator’s note: The references here to the empty offices and the inability to work relate to a police raid that occurred in September of last year, during which much of the organization’s equipment was confiscated. Cubalex, 20 February 2017 – It is an ordinary November day. Cubalex members are visiting the headquarters, the emptiness of the … Continue reading "Broken Dreams / Cubalex" Continue reading
Trump: Rubio and I have 'very similar views on Cuba'
BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

President Donald Trump said during a press conference Thursday that he
shares Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio's views on Cuba.

"We had dinner with Senator Rubio and his wife, who was by the way,
lovely, and we had a very good discussion about Cuba because we have
very similar views on Cuba," Trump told journalists.

"Cuba has been very good to me, in the Florida elections, you know, the
Cuban people, Americans," he added in reference to the support of Cuban
American voters.

Former rival Rubio and his wife had dinner with Trump and First Lady
Melania on Wednesday night, after the president received Lilian Tintori,
the wife of the Venezuelan political prisoner Leopoldo López in the
White House. A smiling Rubio posed for a photo with Trump, Vice
President Mike Pence and Tintori.

The comment suggests a possible change in Cuba policy since Rubio was
one of the staunchest critics of former President Barack Obama's
engagement with Cuba, especially in the area of human rights.

Rubio and New Jersey Democrat Senator Bob Menéndez, also Cuban American,
introduced a bill this week to "reform" the human trafficking report
produced annually by the State Department. Both senators expressed their
displeasure with the improvement of Cuba's ranking in the report, from
the worst level to the "tier 2 watch list" in 2015. Several proposals
included in the bill would likely affect Cuba's position in the report.

Rubio, who was reappointed as chairman of the Western Hemisphere
Subcommittee in the Senate, has also been one of the most active
politicians in Washington on Venezuela. On Monday, he gave a speech on
the Senate's floor in which he called for the release of López and
stated his hope for new sanctions to come against the government of
Nicolás Maduro. Earlier this week, the Trump administration froze the
assets of Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami for alleged links
to drug trafficking.

During his campaign, Trump promised that he would negotiate a "better
deal" with the Cuban government or would reverse Obama's measures. White
House Spokesman Sean Spicer has said that Cuba policy was under review
and that human rights would be a priority.

On Thursday afternoon, Rubio was scheduled to chair a hearing on the
need for U.S. leadership on democracy and human rights in the Americas.
Among the speakers was Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto,
who was recently released from prison in Havana following his arrest for
using street art to celebrate the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

FOLLOW NORA GÁMEZ TORRES ON TWITTER: @NGAMEZTORRES

Source: Trump: Rubio and I have 'very similar views on Cuba' | Miami
Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article133193594.html 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
Cuba, because we have very similar views on Cuba,” Trump told journalists. “Cuba … Republican Senator Bob Menéndez, also Cuban American, introduced a bill this … Americas. Among the speakers was Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado, known as … recently released from prison in Havana following his arrest for using … Continue reading
El presidente de EEUU recibió en la Casa Blanca a Lilian Tintori Continue reading
Extortions, Kidnappings And Limbo: Daily Life Of Cubans Stranded In
Mexico / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 14 February 2017 — Hundreds of Cubans
were stranded in Mexico after the Obama administration ended the
wet-foot/dry-foot policy that favored Cuban's immigration to the United
States, but for the 90 who are detained at the 21st Century Migrant
Station in Tapachula, and for their relatives in the United States, the
American dream has become a nightmare of extortion and disappearances. A
hope against all hope.

"For weeks a person has been calling us to ask for money if we want to
see our families again," says the mother of one of those stranded who
asked not to be identified to protect her son.

The woman, who lives in Miami, recounts how within half an hour of
receiving a call from her son from the Migration Station the phone
started to ring from different numbers in Mexico.

The voice on the other side of the device identified himself as "lawyer
Padilla." She said, "He tried to learn the names of our family members
and told us he could help get them out of there for a sum of money."

To Yuniel, stranded in southern Mexico, those responsible for these
calls are the agents themselves from Mexico's National Institute of
Migration (INM).

"We all know that the migration officials have some way of knowing the
numbers of the people we call in the United States. Somehow, they figure
out the numbers and then take advantage of that to extort the families,"
he says

The telephones set up for international calls at the Migration Station
are public, but at least three relatives of different migrants consulted
by this newspaper affirmed that they had received calls in which people
calling themselves officials asked them for money for the freedom of the
Cubans.

"We are afraid for their fate, they are in the hands of mafiosos. Last
week three Cubans 'disappeared' from the same prison. As of today, we
haven't heard anything from them," says the mother of a Cuban migrant.

An IMF official confirmed to 14ymedio that there are currently 90 Cubans
at the 2st Century Migration Station. Of these, 59 asked for protection
before a judge and 23 asked for refuge from the Mexican authorities. The
remaining eight are awaiting the decision of the Cuban embassy in that
country. If Havana recognizes their citizenship, under migratory
agreements between the two countries they must be deported back to Cuba.

With regards to the absence, since last Wednesday, of three Cubans
(Armando Daniel Tejeda, Daniel Benet Báez and Yosvany Leyva Velázquez)
the official said that it was an escape, which is why they are not
considered missing. So far the relatives of the Cubans do not know the
whereabouts of these migrants.

With regards to the accusations against the INM officials, the
representative of the Mexican government made it clear that "they are
lies." According to her, the immigration agents do not even have guns or
clubs.

"They (the Cubans) are very desperate. We aren't trying to justify
ourselves, but we believe that is the cause. "

"Two of them had sought refuge and one was waiting for the legal
process. Both of them escaped and the corresponding authorities were
given notice."

It was the migrants themselves in the 21st Century center who discovered
that three Cubans were missing and, given the silence of the
authorities, they began a protest that was brutally repressed, according
to those stranded. The police and the Mexican army participated in
putting down the revolt.

"They were beaten, their blankets and mattresses were taken away,
forcing them to sleep in cement bunks. They are being watched and held
as if they were criminals," the migrant's mother told the newspaper.

"My son may disappear, just as those have disappeared," she adds.

Last week a group of eleven Cubans was kidnapped by a criminal gang and
later released under conditions not made clear in Reynosa, northern Mexico.

Corruption prevails in Tapachula, according to the testimony of Yuniel,
one of the stranded, who has been waiting for more than a month for a
safe conduct to continue to the north of Mexico.

"Receiving money from abroad is impossible without mediations," explains
the migrant. If you do not have the corresponding visa, the transfers
made by Western Union carry a charge from locals who are awarded a
commission of 5% for the transaction.

The hope that Trump will reinstate the wet-foot/dry-foot policy or
declare an amnesty for stranded Cubans is increasingly remote, according
to Yuniel, even though that the number of Cubans arriving in Mexico from
Central America "has taken a nosedive."

"All that's left for me is to surrender to the authorities and ask for
political asylum. I have nothing to lose because I have lost
everything," he says.

Some relatives in the United States who have contracted legal services
in Tapachula to avoid the repatriation of the stranded complain of the
slowness of the processes and even of scams.

"The attorney José Roberto Escobar Ross allegedly filed an protection
petition for our relatives not to be repatriated to Cuba, and demanded
the payment of $120. To this day, they are still being detained," says
the girlfriend in Miami of one of those held in Tapachula, Karla Ramírez.

Escobar, via telephone, explained that he has in his hands the 59
protection orders for Cubans and that he is doing his best to get them
released as soon as possible.

"The judge gave Migration three days to solve the case of the Cubans but
until now we see no response, they haven't even been released," he said.

The INM official made clear that there will be no releases until the
legal proceeding has been held and a judge determines the fate of the
Cubans.

"It is not the fault of the INM that they are detained. By law, these
people cannot be released until the trial is held." It costs Mexico to
for these people to be there, to feed them, to care for them and so on."

In the case of Cubans who asked for refuge, the National Commission for
Refugee Assistance is responsible for analyzing their cases.

For Ramírez, the girlfriend of one of the detainees, this is a maneuver:
"They are trying to delay their release as much as possible so that they
have no choice but to return to Cuba or they run out of money. It's a
hell for us Cubans."

Source: Extortions, Kidnappings And Limbo: Daily Life Of Cubans Stranded
In Mexico / 14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/extortions-kidnappings-and-limbo-daily-life-of-cubans-stranded-in-mexico-14ymedio-mario-penton/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 14 February 2017 — Hundreds of Cubans were stranded in Mexico after the Obama administration ended the wet-foot/dry-foot policy that favored Cuban’s immigration to the United States, but for the 90 who are detained at the 21st Century Migrant Station in Tapachula, and for their relatives in the United States, the … Continue reading "Extortions, Kidnappings And Limbo: Daily Life Of Cubans Stranded In Mexico / 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
Clinic operator who fled to Cuba returns to face $130M healthcare fraud case BY JAY WEAVER jweaver@miamiherald.com Soon after the feds broke up a family-run chain of clinics that tried to steal $130 million from Miami-Dade Public Schools and a string of major U.S. companies, a trio of Cuban immigrants fled to Mexico and eventually […] 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
… Combinado del Este facility in Havana now contrasts with the fresh … Camagüey in eastern Cuba, he had to share a Havana house with … prison on the outskirts of Havana. While in prison, he wrote … made with the bust of [Cuban patriot] José Martí,” Maldonado said … Continue reading
Danilo Maldonado, the Cuban graffiti artist and human rights activist known as El Sexto, is the very antithesis of the communist “new man” the Castro revolution was supposed to create. … Click to Continue » Continue reading
Brasilia, February 2 (RHC)-- Defense ministers from Brazil and Colombia agreed to step up their fight against drug traffickers at a meeting in the Brazilian city of Manaus, where feuding drug gangs set off a recent string of deadly prison riots.  The … Continue reading
Amnesty International Calls For Release Of Cuban Opponent Eduardo Cardet
/ EFE, 14ymedio

EFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 1 Februday 2017 — The global
organization Amnesty International on Tuesday called for the "immediate
and unconditional" release of Cuban dissident Eduardo Cardet, who has
been detained for two months accused of the crime of assault.

Amnesty International believes that Cardet, the national coordinator of
the illegal Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), is a prisoner of
conscience who is imprisoned "solely for the peaceful exercise of his
right to freedom of expression," according to a statement EFE had access to.

He also says that Cardet was violently arrested when he returned from
visiting his mother on November 30, five days after Fidel Castro's
death, and since then has been held in a prison in the eastern province
of Holguin.

Cardet, according to his wife, Yaimaris Vecino, cited by Amnesty
International, is accused of attacking an agent of the authority, so
that the prosecution could seek a three-year prison sentence.

In the middle of this month, Amnesty International also called for the
release of Cuban dissident graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El
Sexto (The Sixth), also considered a prisoner of conscience who was
imprisoned without trial in the high security Combinado del Este in Havana.

El Sexto was released without charge on January 21 after spending nearly
two months in prison for having written the phrase "He's gone" on a wall
of the Habana Libre hotel in the capital on November 26, 2016, after the
death of Fidel Castro.

Source: Amnesty International Calls For Release Of Cuban Opponent
Eduardo Cardet / EFE, 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/amnesty-international-calls-for-release-of-cuban-opponent-eduardo-cardet-efe-14ymedio/ Continue reading
EFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 1 Februday 2017 — The global organization Amnesty International on Tuesday called for the “immediate and unconditional” release of Cuban dissident Eduardo Cardet, who has been detained for two months accused of the crime of assault. Amnesty International believes that Cardet, the national coordinator of the illegal Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), is a prisoner of … Continue reading "Amnesty International Calls For Release Of Cuban Opponent Eduardo Cardet / EFE, 14ymedio" Continue reading
On Notice: Cuban Repressor Dainier Suarez Pagan / Foundation for Human
Rights in Cuba

Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba, 30 January 2017 — To Mr. Suarez
Pagan: For six months, since we took the initiative to identify those
people who exercise the repression of the Cuban tyranny, your name is
repeated more often than any other, associated with the use of methods
that stand out for their brutal violence against peaceful citizens.

We have accusations against you that have been issued by your numerous
victims and that are validated by photos, videos and medical opinions.
However, your more recent act of intimidation intended to recruit as an
informant the young woman Liset Maria Santos, from the recently formed
Dignity Movement, has exceeded all limits.

You have told her that you released the criminal who raped her when she
was 11-years-old, and have given her the choice of informing against her
friends or facing the consequences of what this criminal might do to her
or even to her daughter. To brag about your total control over the lives
of others you tell her that, if she cooperates, you can put the rapist
back in prison (he hasn't served even half of his sentence for that and
other crimes) or even kill him.

You believe yourself to be immune for being a part of the national
repressive machinery. But you are wrong Mr. Suarez Pagan.

You are a cog in that machine, it is true, but you are inescapably
personally responsible for your actions. Even your superiors – if they
consider it convenient to their own interests – could take the
initiative to prosecute you at any time to distance themselves from your
abominable crimes.

You may believe that the current non-violent vocation of the regime's
opponents assures you of a peaceful future. But you are wrong there,
too. No one is going to forget or forgive your crimes. For repressors
like you there will be no amnesty.

You are personally responsible for any and all of the detestable
assaults you have perpetrated against peaceful opponents. Do not forget
that. This has happened historically since the trials of the Nazis in
Nuremberg. Each person is legally obliged to take individual
responsibility for their actions and no one can excuse themselves
afterwards with the justification that they "carried out orders from my
superiors."

You told young Liset Maria Santos that it was within your reach that
nothing would happen to her or her family. Make it so.

You believe yourself omnipotent because you know where each opponent
lives. We also have the facts and reliable proofs of your despicable career.

Know that we are already working to apply various international
sanctions and we will do the same with any superior of yours who is
implicated in this and other sadistic actions. We are not going to wait
for things to change in Cuba. And they will change, Mr. Dainier Suárez
Pagán. Keep that in mind.

Source: On Notice: Cuban Repressor Dainier Suarez Pagan / Foundation for
Human Rights in Cuba – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/on-notice-cuban-repressor-dainier-suarez-pagan-foundation-for-human-rights-in-cuba/ Continue reading
Editorial: Ports deserve state support in dealing with Cuba
Posted: 5:43 p.m. Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Port of Palm Beach officials see an opportunity in normalizing relations
with the communist island of Cuba. As well they should.
The port is in an advantageous position geographically. It has a deep
and rich history of trade with the island, pre-Fidel Castro. And most
important, the 156-acre port has room to expand and accommodate any
future growth in a relationship.

This is no pie-in-the-sky proposal. This is a well-thought-out growth
plan led by Port Executive Director Manuel Almira, who was born in Cuba.
For example, ground was broken in July 2016 on a $10.4 million mini-slip
at the port's southernmost berth that could eventually serve as a base
for cargo service to Cuba — and boost local businesses.

This economic potential deserves the state's support, not to be held
hostage to politics of the moment. But Gov. Rick Scott, who has made job
growth the focal point of his two terms in office, has unfortunately
lost focus when it comes to the state's ports doing business with Cuba.

Days before a delegation of Cuban maritime leaders was to arrive for
separate meetings with officials of three Florida ports — Palm Beach,
Port Everglades and Port Tampa Bay — Scott issued a threat, via Twitter
no less, to cut funding for port operators that do business with Cuba.

That threat risks $920,000 this year for the Port of Palm Beach.

"Disappointed some FL ports would enter into any agreement with Cuban
dictatorship," Scott wrote in a series of tweets on Jan. 25. "I will
recommend restricting state funds for ports that work with Cuba in my
budget. We cannot condone Raul Castro's oppressive behavior. Serious
security/human rights concerns."

Though laudable, the governor's reasoning smacks of hypocrisy. The Cuban
government indeed remains an oppressive regime under President Raul
Castro, despite the movement toward normalization of relations begun by
President Barack Obama two years ago. But more than a half century of
Cold War relations, centered on a draconian trade embargo, hasn't done
much to bring democracy to the island's 11 million residents either.

Moreover, Cuba is not the only oppressive communist regime the United
States — and Florida — would do business with.

China, the United States' largest trading partner, is well known for its
iron hand and shows little sign of changing. "The outlook for
fundamental human rights, including freedoms of expression, assembly,
association and religion, remains dire," says the nongovernmental Human
Rights Watch in its latest world report.

The government controls the media, restricts the internet, arrests
dissidents, regulates religious practice. There is only one political
party. Human rights lawyers and activists are detained, their forced
"confessions" shown on nationwide TV, and punished with stiff prison
sentences.

Yet the People's Republic of China is a land of McDonald's, Starbucks,
KFC, Pizza Hut and Wal-Mart. General Motors and other major American
giants do big business there. It's where iPhones and iPads are
manufactured, where the all-American Barbies and G.I. Joes are made.

Was Scott thinking of any of these contradictions when, on human rights
grounds, he slammed the ports' plans to sign a memorandum of
understanding (MOU) with the National Port Administration of Cuba to
cover future cooperation?

"There's no human rights down there. I don't believe our ports should be
doing business with a brutal dictator," Scott said last week. "We should
say to ourselves, 'We are going to do business where they are not doing
what Raul Castro is doing.' "

Did Scott somehow forget that he has personally courted China during
trade missions for the state of Florida?

As Almira told The Post's Susan Salisbury: "Private businesses based at
ports do business with Cuba, not the ports themselves. The port's role
is to help with that."

The state's role is to help expand Florida trade and grow Florida jobs.
Not pick winners and losers based on politics.

Though laudable, the governor's reasoning smacks of hypocrisy.

Source: Florida ports deserve state support in dealing with Cuba -
http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/opinion/editorial-ports-deserve-state-support-dealing-with-cuba/nx6GJslfTZl2Q17LItjXwN/ Continue reading
URGENT ACTION
DEMAND RELEASE OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER

Five days after Fidel Castro's death, human rights defender Eduardo
Cardet was detained and has since been held in provisional detention in
Holguín, south-east Cuba.
He is a prisoner of conscience who must be released immediately and
unconditionally.

Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción, leader of the Christian Liberation
Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación,
MCL) since 2014 was arrested in Holguín on 30 November 2016, five days
after the death of the former leader of
Cuba, Fidel Castro. Eduardo Cardet has spent two months in the
provisional prison (prisión provisional) of Holguín.
He has been refused bail on three occasions, according to his wife.
According to five witnesses who spoke to Amnesty International by
telephone on the condition of anonymity,
Eduardo Cardet was pushed off his bicycle and violently detained in the
early evening of 30 November by at least
four plain clothed and one uniformed police officer as he returned home
after visiting his mother. It is not clear on
what grounds Eduardo Cardet was initially detained. According to his
wife, who witnessed her husband's detention
with their two children, Eduardo Cardet is charged with attacking an
official of the state (atentado). This offence is
covered under Article 142.1 of the Criminal Code. One officer is
alleging that Eduardo Cardet pushed him during
his arrest. All witnesses who spoke with Amnesty International counter
this allegation, and state that Eduardo
Cardet was quickly and violently restrained by plain clothed officials,
placed in handcuffs, and beaten, and had no
opportunity for self-defence. The witnesses believe that Eduardo Cardet
was arrested for his beliefs and ideas.
Prior to his arrest, Eduardo Cardet had given interviews published in
international media in which he had been
critical of the Cuban government. In an interview with Madrid-based
radio station esRadio, aired two days before
his arrest, he described the mourning in Cuba following the death of
Fidel Castro as imposed, and said: "Castro
was a very controversial man, very much hated and rejected by our
people". According to the MCL's website,
Eduardo Cardet's lawyer informed the family on 27 January that the
Public Prosecutor is seeking three years of
prison.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:
- Calling on the authorities to release Dr. Eduardo Cardet immediately
and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of
conscience, imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to
freedom of expression;
- Calling on them to guarantee the peaceful right to freedom of
expression, assembly and association including
for dissident, opponent or activist voices and to repeal all legislation
which unduly limits these rights;
- Urging them to ensure that, pending his release, he is provided with
any medical care he may require; that he is
not tortured or otherwise ill-treated; and that he is granted regular
access to family and lawyers of his choosing.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 14 MARCH 2017 TO:
President of the Republic
Raúl Castro Ruz
Presidente de la República de Cuba
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +41 22 758 9431 (Cuba Office in
Geneva); +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban
Mission to UN)
Email: cuba@un.int (c/o Cuban Mission
to UN)
Salutation: Your Excellency
Attorney General
Dr. Darío Delgado Cura
Fiscal General de la República
Fiscalía General de la República
Amistad 552, e/Monte y Estrella
Centro Habana, La Habana, Cuba
Salutation: Dear Attorney General/
Señor Fiscal General
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country

https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr25/5601/2017/en/ Continue reading
Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba, 30 January 2017 — To Mr. Suarez Pagan: For six months, since we took the initiative to identify those people who exercise the repression of the Cuban tyranny, your name is repeated more often than any other, associated with the use of methods that stand out for their brutal violence against … Continue reading "On Notice: Cuban Repressor Dainier Suarez Pagan / Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba" Continue reading
"That day, like the kids, I went out to play," says El Sexto / 14ymedio,
Luz Escobar

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 27 January 2017 — Since late last
November Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto, has lived a nightmare. He passed
from one police station to another until he reached the dreaded
Combinado del Este jail in Havana. His crime: to write on several walls
a graffiti that read "He left," a few hours after the death of former
President Fidel Castro.

Last Saturday the street artist was released. A few hours after chatting
with 14ymedio, on Thursday, the Office Immigration and Aliens renewed
his passport and announced that he could leave the country. This
Friday, El Sexto traveled to Miami in the company of his romantic partner.

14ymedio. How did the news of the death of Fidel Castro hit you?

El Sexto. That day they woke me up with the news and I could not believe
it. The musician Gorki Aguila called me first, then other friends and
then my sister who told me, "Hey, Fidel died, really."

I dressed and, like the children, I went out to play. First I painted on
a wall of a bodega in the corner of 23 and F, and also in other places
until I arrived at the Habana Libre Hotel where a person who was
connected to the Wi-Fi zone transmitted it live by Facebook. From then,
the moment I made a graffiti with the phrase "He left" on the wall, spread.

Soon I went to my house, it was almost dawn and everything was very
quiet. When I was lying down, the police opened the door of the room and
took me by force. They beat me and threw me into their patrol car.

14ymedio. Did they ever explain the reason for the arrest?

El Sexto. They did not give me any explanation during the arrest and
they moved me to a unit in La Lisa, then to Guanabacoa, where they took
my phone, which has not yet reappeared. There they talked to me about a
crime of "damages. They then took me to the Zapata and C station, and
later to Vivac. From there to the prison in Valle Grande where on the
weekend of December 10, Human Rights Day, they put me in an isolation cell.

Then came Combinado del Este, where they received me with blows. They
practically hanged me and took all the civilian clothes I had. I was
forced to wear prison clothes.

14ymedio. Did you have any special surveillance in jail?

El Sexto. Every time I spoke on the phone, I was monitored. A
re-educator told me they would release me soon, but I realized that it
was to keep me calm and silent.

14ymedio. How did the other prisoners react?

El Sexto. They showed incredible solidarity. I painted a lot and tried
to get my drawings out of the jail. It was also good to know that so
many people were watching my case. In particular, I want to thank Yulier
Rodríguez, the graffiti artist, who was aware of my situation.

14ymedio. What plans do you have for now that you are back on the street?

El Sexto. The most immediate thing is to do everything to be able see my
daughter. In addition, I want to compile some of the drawings I did in
prison and make a book with those short texts and illustrations. The
children need to see other beautiful things, different from what they
see in that dogma with which they learn to read.

Source: "That day, like the kids, I went out to play," says El Sexto /
14ymedio, Luz Escobar – Translating Cuba -
https://translatingcuba.com/that-day-like-the-kids-i-went-out-to-play-says-el-sexto-14ymedio-luz-escobar/ 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
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 27 January 2017 — Since late last November Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto, has lived a nightmare. He passed from one police station to another until he reached the dreaded Combinado del Este jail in Havana. His crime: to write on several walls a graffiti that read “He left,” a few hours after the … Continue reading "“That day, like the kids, I went out to play,” says El Sexto / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar" 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
Belkis Cantillo, Leader Of The Dignity Movement Released / 14ymedio, Luz
Escobar

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 23 January 2017 — The leader of the
Dignity Movement, Belkis Cantillo, who was arrested last Thursday was
released Monday afternoon, as confirmed to 14ymedio by Moraima Diaz, an
activist of the same movement.

Shortly after being released, in a telephone conversation with this
newspaper, Cantillo explained that she was given a warning letter that
he refused to sign.

According to the activist, the document stated that she could not "meet
with anyone" or be visited by "counterrevolutionaries." The police also
prevented her from carrying out "public demonstrations."

About her days in custody, she says that they removed the mattress and
that she was "sleeping on the cement" which caused an "increase of the
pain she already suffered due to renal colic." The activist reports
that, after insisting, she was visited by a lawyer.

After her release she was summoned to appear next Saturday before the
offices of the State Security in the municipality Julio A. Mella.

According to Moraima Díaz, members of the Dignity Movement cannot leave
their homes without State Security agents "persecuting them."

"We have agents at every corner of the house. It is a police siege to
which we are subjected," she adds.

"We have been told that if we leave the house, our families will be the
ones who will pay the consequences," she says from Palmarito de Cauto, a
town in the province of Santiago de Cuba.

"The situation here is extreme. The police have taken the town so that
there are no dissident demonstrations," says the activist.

The women of the Dignity Movement have experienced days of intense
repression since they created their movement in the Sanctuary of the
Virgin of Charity of Cobre on Saturday, January 14. They call for, among
other things, immediate and unconditional amnesty for all those who
today are serving prison sentences for "pre-criminal dangerousness" and
for this concept which they consider to be "arbitrary" to be eliminated
from the Penal Code.

Amel Carlos Oliva, youth leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba,
told 14ymedio that in the early hours of the morning the police raided
the house of Thomas Madariaga Nunez, 66, an active member of his
organization.

Right now, Madariaga is in custody.

Source: Belkis Cantillo, Leader Of The Dignity Movement Released /
14ymedio, Luz Escobar – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/belkis-cantillo-leader-of-the-dignity-movement-released-14ymedio-luz-escobar/ Continue reading
The Punk Who Didn't Cry For Fidel / 14ymedio, Pablo De LLano

14ymedio, Pablo de Llano, Miami, 22 January 2017 — Minutes after the
announcement of the death of Fidel Castro, last November 25, Danilo
Maldonado Machado passed by his mother's house and knocked on the window
of her room. Maria Victoria Machado opened and her son asked: "Mom, are
you afraid?" She, who had heard the news, told him no: "You know this is
my bedtime." He continued: "Well, I'm going to warm up the track." Mrs.
Machado assumed that her son was going to paint some anti-Castro slogan
in a city, Havana, that that night had been mute, silent, empty. Free
for the cats and for the crazies.

"Have you ever asked him not to expose himself so much?"

"No," said the mother from Havana. "I admire my son."

El Sexto, the artistic alias of Maldonado, left and reappeared a while
later at the side of the Habana Libre Hotel. With a mobile phone, he
broadcast live on Faceboo, speaking directly to the screen and mocking
Fidel and Raul Castro, recalling dead regime opponents, moving through
the desolate streets: "Nobody it outside," he said. "Rare," he
scoffed. "Nobody wants to talk. But how long will you not want to talk,
gentlemen?"

He wore a white Panama hat. Sunglasses hanging from his shirt. Under the
right eyelid, tattooed barbed wire. Headphones around his neck. He was
an eccentric putting on a comedian-politician show in an empty but
guarded theater. The most risky sitcom of the year in Havana. Then he
asked some squire, "Papi, where's my can?"

El Sexto took out a spray can and on a side wall of the Habana Libre,
the former Havana Hilton and the hotel where the father of the Cuban
revolution had immediately taken possession of to set up his first
headquarters after conquering the capital, he scrawled: "He left."

Live. His face in the picture. Risk level one hundred.

He enjoyed it. He looked at the camera and said, "I see panic in their
faces." Six feet five-and-a-half inches tall, thin, bearded, exultant. A
Don Quixote crossing the line.

Hours later, according to the reconstruction of his mother, he was
forcibly removed from his apartment by a group of police and locked up
in the maximum security prison Combinado del Este, outside Havana,
accused of damage to state property. Only this Saturday, two months
later, was he released.

"They gave me my identity card and said I would have no problem
traveling outside the country," the artist told 14ymedio a few hours
after he was released without charges. "I am in good health and I am
very grateful for the solidarity of all those who were aware of my
situation."

During the time he was imprisoned, Amnesty International declared him
a prisoner of conscience. A campaign on Change.org collected about
14,000 signatures for his release. Kimberley Motley, an African American
lawyer specializing in human rights, traveled to Cuba in December to try
to visit him in prison, but was detained and returned to the United
States. The vice-president of the German Parliament, the Social Democrat
Ulla Schmidt, declared herself his "political godmother."

This was his second time in prison. In 2015 he spent 10 months locked up
for planning a performance art piece with two pigs painted with the
names of Fidel and Raul. In his 33 years El Sexto has become a heterodox
figure of dissent. More a provocateur than an activist, he is
essentially a natural punk, a creative thug who in another country would
only have paid a fine for painting a wall, but to whom 21st century Cuba
dedicates the punitive treatment it considers appropriate to a threat to
the security of the State.

When they released him in 2015, after a hunger strike, El Sexto traveled
through different countries and explained in a talk that in the
beginning he defined his political stance as that of an artist in
response to the official propaganda so abundant on the island: "If they
have the right to violate my visual space, I also have the right to
violate their visual space," he maintained.

Years earlier Cuban government proclamations were calling for the return
of five Cubans imprisoned in the United States for espionage. They were
called The Five Heroes. It was then that Maldonado adopted his nickname
"El Sexto" – the Sixth – and emerged as a graffit artist.

"Danilo says that art has to be brave and try to impact people,"
explains his girlfriend, Alexandra Martinez, a Cuban-American journalist
he met in Miami. She says that El Sexto is a fan of Estopa, a Spanish
rock/rumba duo, and Joan Manuel Serrat, a Spanish singer-songwriter. She
tells how impressed he was when he went to New York and visited the
studio of artist Julian Schnabel, director of Before Night Falls, the
film about Reinaldo Arenas, a Cuban poet who died of AIDS in exile, and
also the director of Basquiat, about the artist who began is career
using the tag SAMO (for Same Old), on his graffiti in the streets of
Manhattan.

Mrs. Machado says that in the case file the cost of erasing her child's
graffiti at Havana Libre was recorded as 27 Cuban pesos

Martinez likes a drawing he has done in his current prison stay,
titled Cemetery of living men. It's a three-level bunk with a man in the
bottom, the middle bunk empty and a cockroach in the upper
bunk. "Someone," his mother says, has been sneaking out of prison the
pages he painted and publishing them on his Facebook page. They have a
surreal style.

He also writes. He talks about his nightmares – zoomorphic guards who
mistreat him; he takes notes of the language of the prisoners –
"fucking: synonymous with food"; and directs messages to his audience –
"I still have not received news of my case," "I draw little because of
my allergy, the excessive dampness and the lack of light, " "the boss of
my unit beat me," "only the cosmic knows the true purpose of this ordeal."

Mrs. Machado says that in the case file the cost of erasing her child's
graffiti at Havana Libre was recorded as 27 Cuban pesos, the equivalent
of one dollar and one cent US. "But they do not forgive what he
painted," she says. Maldonado has written from prison: "Imagine how many
people laugh about me. I'm already famous in jails and prisons." Fidel
Castro left. The bars remain.

_______

Editor's note: This text is reproduced here with the permission of El
País, which published it today.

Source: The Punk Who Didn't Cry For Fidel / 14ymedio, Pablo De LLano –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-punk-who-didnt-cry-for-fidel-14ymedio-pablo-de-llano/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 23 January 2017 — The leader of the Dignity Movement, Belkis Cantillo, who was arrested last Thursday was released Monday afternoon, as confirmed to 14ymedio by Moraima Diaz, an activist of the same movement. Shortly after being released, in a telephone conversation with this newspaper, Cantillo explained that she was given a warning … Continue reading "Belkis Cantillo, Leader Of The Dignity Movement Released / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar" Continue reading
Washington, January 23 (RHC)-- Most of protesters who have been arrested for marching against U.S. President Donald Trump after his January 20 inauguration are facing 10-year prison sentences, federal prosecutors say. Continue reading
14ymedio, Pablo de Llano, Miami, 22 January 2017 — Minutes after the announcement of the death of Fidel Castro, last November 25, Danilo Maldonado Machado passed by his mother’s house and knocked on the window of her room. Maria Victoria Machado opened and her son asked: “Mom, are you afraid?” She, who had heard the news, told … Continue reading "The Punk Who Didn’t Cry For Fidel / 14ymedio, Pablo De LLano" Continue reading
Somos+, Pedro Acosta, 19 January 2017 — Thirty-three years later, I talked to more than 60 people under age 40 and with more than a 9th grade education; none of them knew exactly what I was talking about. I asked them: Do you know what happened on the island of Granada in 1983? Most of … Continue reading "Granada, 1983, the Hidden Cuban Martyrology / Somos+, Pedro Acosta" Continue reading
El Sexto Released, After Almost Two Months Detention / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 21 January 2017 — Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto,
was released this Saturday after spending nearly two months in prison
after being arrested on 26 November of last year for painting graffiti
with the phrase "He left" on a wall of the hotel Habana Libre, a few
hours after the announcement of the death of former President Fidel Castro.

The artist was never brought to trial and was released without
charge. "They gave my identity card and told me I would have no problem
traveling outside the country," the artist 14ymedio within hours of
being released. "I am in good health and I am very grateful for the
solidarity of all those who were aware of my situation."

El Sexto said that tomorrow he will try to leave the country and that
they gave him "a telephone number in case he had problems in
immigration," he said.

Initially the investigators who took their case told the family that the
graffiti artist would be accused of damaging state property, an offense
"that is not included in the Penal Code," according to a post published
on Cubalex's online site. "Painting the walls or facades of a hotel is
an infraction against public adornment. Inspectors of the communal
system are entitled to impose fines of 100 pesos national currency in
these cases," the text explains.

El Sexto, 32, was also imprisoned for nearly 10 months at the end of
2014 when he was arrested for painting the words "Raúl" and "Fidel," in
reference to the Castro brothers, on the side of two living pigs as part
of an artistic action entitled Animal Farm. The artist planned to
release the animals in Havana's Central Park, when he was intercepted.

On that occasion the artist was accused of contempt, a crime that is
imputed to those who lack respect for public officials.

In 2015, El Sexto received the Václav Havel International Award for
creative dissent, awarded by the Human Rights Foundation.

Source: El Sexto Released, After Almost Two Months Detention / 14ymedio
– Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/el-sexto-released-after-almost-two-months-detention-14ymedio/ Continue reading
Artist 'El Sexto' walks out of prison in Cuba
Artist spends 2 months in prison after celebrating Fidel Castro's death
By Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer , Liane Morejon - Reporter
Updated: 6:42 PM, January 21, 2017

HAVANA - Cuban authorities freed artist Danilo Maldonado on Saturday.
The Cuban government had been holding the artist known as "El Sexto"
since Nov. 26.

International human rights U.S. human rights lawyer Kimberley Motley
took up his case and was later detained for hours in Havana.

More Cuba Headlines
Danilo 'El Sexto' Maldonado shares work from prison
Maldonado's family said they were grateful to Motley and international
civil rights attorney Centa B. Rek Chajtur from the Human Rights Foundation.

"It was the growing awareness about his case that has led the Cuban
government to liberate him," a statement on the artist's Facebook page
said. They added that Maldonado plans to "continue doing meaningful art
towards a free and democratic Cuba."

The artist was released after the Geneva-based United Nations Working
Group on Arbitrary Detention started to review a legal petition filed in
his behalf.
The graffiti writer had been in prison before. Cubans held him for about
10 months after he attempted to release two pigs he had spray painted
with the names of Raul and Fidel Castro.

Maldonado's latest arrest happened before an exhibit he was supposed to
host in Miami during Art Basel. Cuban authorities showed up to his
apartment after he celebrated the death of Fidel Castro with graffiti.

Source: Artist 'El Sexto' walks out of prison in Cuba -
http://www.local10.com/news/cuba/artist-el-sexto-walks-out-of-prison-in-cuba-efe-reports Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 21 January 2017 — Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto, was released this Saturday after spending nearly two months in prison after being arrested on 26 November of last year for painting graffiti with the phrase “He left” on a wall of the hotel Habana Libre, a few hours after the announcement of … Continue reading "El Sexto Released, After Almost Two Months Detention / 14ymedio" Continue reading
Regina Coyula, 20 January 2017 — I was asked for this by a press agency, and they didn’t publish it. Then came the official reaction and we couldn’t have much time without his image. It’s like what a wise lady said in line at the pharmacy, “It would be preferable that the (National) Assembly approved … Continue reading "Three Days Without Fidel / Regina Coyula" Continue reading
… prison located at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In a letter to the … Continue reading
Guatemala City, January 20 (RHC)-- A prisoner in Guatemala sewed his lips together to protest a court decision that refused the reduction of his sentence, which he has been serving since 2013. Ruddy Esquivel, prison spokesman, said that Ruben Estuardo … Continue reading
With no deal on convicted killer, police slam US-Cuba pact
Associated PressJanuary 20, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The head of New Jersey's state police has
criticized a law enforcement deal reached between the U.S. and Cuba,
because it doesn't require the return of a woman convicted of killing a
state trooper.

Col. Rick Fuentes said Thursday that the information-sharing agreement
announced this week burned Barack Obama's last opportunity to negotiate
for the return of fugitives including Joanne Chesimard before he leaves
office.

Fuentes says he will work with Donald Trump to negotiate for her return
after he is inaugurated.

"By burning the last bridge to this administration's opportunity to gain
their negotiated return, families who have long suffered the
consequences of their terrorist acts and law enforcement everywhere in
this country have been shown the back of the hand," Fuentes said. "An
ignominious torch has been passed to the next president."

Joanne Chesimard was convicted in 1977 in the death of Trooper Werner
Foerster during a gunfight on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973. She was
sentenced to life in prison but escaped and traveled to Cuba, where
Fidel Castro granted her asylum and she has been living under the name
Assata Shakur.

The Obama administration and Cuba's Interior Ministry Monday agreed to
share information on international criminal activity such as terrorism,
human trafficking and money laundering despite Republican objections to
U.S. law-enforcement cooperation with President Raul Castro's government.

Source: With no deal on convicted killer, police slam US-Cuba pact -
https://www.yahoo.com/news/no-deal-convicted-killer-police-slam-us-cuba-141613803.html Continue reading
Washington, January 19 (RHC)-- The U.S. Office of the Pardon Attorney has announced that President Barack Obama officially denied clemency to imprisoned Native American activist Leonard Peltier, who has been in prison for more than 40 years on charges … Continue reading
… between the United States and Cuba because it did not require … on law enforcement cooperation with Cuba, part of President Barack Obama … reported the State Department and Cuba's Interior Ministry agreed … escaped prison and fled to Cuba, where she holds asylum status … Continue reading