Cuba’s puppet dictatorship in Venezuela censors hundreds of internet sites

Cuba’s apartheid dictatorship continues the Cubanification of its colony, Venezuela.

Pedro Garcia Otero in PanAm Post:

Censorship in Venezuela: Over 370 Internet Addresses Blocked

New Study Finds Major News Networks and Social Media Impeded by Government Censorship

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In Venezuela, at least 372 web portals have been blocked by main Internet service providers (ISP). Also, 43 Internet domains have been blocked by these same providers, both public and private.

Of those, 44 percent are web pages related to black market dollars. An additional 19 percent of the pages are news media and an additional 12 percent feature blogs critical of Nicolás Maduro’s administration.

These findings are the product of a new study called “Navegar con Libertad” (or, Browsing with Freedom) conducted by the Institute for Press and Society (IPYS) of Venezuela. The study evaluated web behavior in the country between November 2015 and January 2016. The study included evaluations of access speed tests, blocking tests and of fundamental guarantees over freedom of speech on the Internet.

The most famous of the blocked web pages is that of NTN 24, a Colombian news channel. The page was blocked by Cantv, the main, government-controlled ISP. The page is also blocked by Movistar, Digitel, Inter and Supercable.

The study states Cantv and Digitel have similar blocks placed on them, in that they both block exactly the same web pages. However, Movistar censors sites that Cantv hasn’t blocked.

In general blocks are imposed by an oversight agency, the National Council for Telecommunications. They have done this using the Statute of Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media. This law has been considered, since its approval in 2004 (and its extension to Internet in 2009) as a censorship mechanism. Forty-two pages are being simultaneously blocked by all large Venezuelan Internet Service Providers, due to demands of Nicolas Maduro’s administration.

“Criteria for blocking websites seem to correspond to Venezuelan political specificity,” an IPYS official said. However, the study made clear it didn’t observe “any other Internet censorship mechanisms (besides DNS blocking). There have been no IP-based blocks, content based or key words blocks, nor any other content alteration.

Continue reading HERE.

Reports from Cuba: ‘It has sparked harsh repression’

14yMedio reports via Translating Cuba:

“It Has Sparked Harsh Repression”

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A few months ago police stormed a children’s party being hosted by UNPACU.

The harassment against the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) intensifies. Several activists of the opposition organization have denounced the up to five raids that took place in the early morning hours this Thursday.

Ovidio Martin Castellanos, a member of UNPACU’s Coordination Council in Santiago de Cuba, confirmed to 14ymedio that antiriot troops entered the home of Jose Maria Heredia, on 8th Street in the Mariano de la Torre neighborhood. “They mixed antiriot troops with the political police. At the front was a Major from counterintelligence who calls himself Bruno. Once inside the house, they seized and stole his possessions.

Carlos Amel Oliva, on hunger strike since last July 13 “to protest the arbitrary confiscations” experienced similar interventions to those of last night, also explained in detail the raid on the house where the Heredia cell is organized and where the father of the youth leader Carlose Oliva lives.

“The operation was led by three State Security officers known as Charles, Bruno and Julio Fonseca. The troops were assault troops, officers fully clothed in bullet-proof vests with long shotguns. They entered my house, tearing down the first door, and taking a video camera and some documents. They also went into the house of some neighbors who have shown a lot of solidarity with me in previous days and took a laptop and hard disk from them,” he said.

The operation was even extended to a kindergarten managed by UNPACU that serves 20 children, children of sympathizers of the movement. There they confiscated a laptop and “frightened the coordinator who cares for the children,” according to the activists, who were relieved that the raid occurred at dawn and that there were no children in the house.

“It has sparked a harsh repression,” says Ovidio Martin, who adds that at Yasmani Magaña’s house, in Palmarito de Cauto, various slogans were painted on the walls, including “Viva Fidel.” According to the opponent, eleven people were detained in this operation, driven approximately 10 miles away and beaten before being released far from town.

“This wave of repression comes because the regime knows the situation that is looming. They are preparing the population for a new Special Period, because people don’t want to live through that again. To us, we are determined to take to the streets and we have attracted their sympathy, and they have intensified harassment because they are afraid that people are joining and becoming activists,” he says.

Carlos Amel has taken advantage of the new wave of attacks against the organization he belongs to, to detail the reasons for his hunger strike. Despite being determined not to eat until they return his belongings, he clarifies the meaning of his words. “It is not [for] a laptop and a computer, they are things that are not worth the life of any human being, but because they arrest us when we go out. Or come into our homes and take whatever they want. This is a constant violation of our rights,” he denounces.

Oliva has shown his appreciation for the support he has received from his organization and other opposition groups such as Somos+ (We Are More) and FANTU (Anti-Totalitarian Forum), and in real solidarity with Guillermo ‘Coco’ Fariñas, on hunger strike as of this Wednesday.

“I am a little weak physically, but firm in my position,” says Oliva. “I have received many calls from abroad, from friends, from media… it is very comforting, for someone on a hunger strike this is the only source of strength.”

Cuban dissidents assess effectiveness of Obama’s Cuba policy: More repression and more cash for apartheid regime

Being that they are all Cuban dissidents and live on the island, no one in the White House gives much credence to their assessments. President Obama prefers to get his information about Cuba directly from the apartheid regime and the bevy of yes-men that surround him.

Nevertheless, if you want to know just how effective the president’s Cuba policy has been through the eyes of an actual Cuban, here you go.

Via Diario de Cuba:

Revenue for the regime, a crackdown on society, and the repression of dissidents

raul sly look at obama

Antonio Rodiles, Coordinator of the Forum for Rights and Freedoms (ForoDyL):

A year ago relations were restored but, if one counts the 18 months of the confidential political process leading up to that achievement, it has been some 3 years of rapprochement between Washington and Havana. During this period what has been most evident is an increase in repression and violence on the Island.

This is a trend that has affected not only the opposition and human rights activists, but also the population at large, ordinary Cubans who do not get involved in politics because they are afraid to; the self-employed, for example, with fines, controls, and the whole issue of abusive and excessive taxes.

What we are seeing is a regime that, though it has opened up in the international sphere, at home is doubling down on its repressive policies. A sign of this is the relentless flight of Cubans abroad we have been recently been witnessing.

The Obama Administration had stated that this was best way to bring about positive change in Cuba, but I think it is high time that it at least begin to publicly recognize that things are not going as they expected, because what we are experiencing is a process curtailing all the freedoms and rights of Cubans.

From the outset the Forum for Rights and Freedoms identified the need for a real political process in which the regime also had to take steps. This is not what has happened. The people behind this agenda of continuing to grant concessions, without requiring anything from the regime in return, are proving to be somewhat obstinate.

It is very worrisome that in recent weeks we have seen a wave of imprisonments, not only temporary arrests, while Washington remains utterly silent about the situation. Moreover, the famous empowerment that the self-employed were going to enjoy has yet to materialize.

The regime’s response to the Obama Administration’s measures has been its traditional backwardness, and it is surprising that there have been no statements released, by any institution, including human rights groups, with respect to the current situation.

Laritza Diversent, Director of Cubalex

The rapprochement between the two governments has been positive, although we have not seen any steps forward by the Cuban Government in terms of greater respect for human rights on the Island.

It is up to Cuban civil society to expand strategies to achieve the recognition of its rights.

The repression against dissidents is getting even harsher, but I think this is more due the regime’s fear than its privileged position.

Eduardo Cardet, National Coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement

For the people of Cuba this has been a very tough, difficult year, characterized by a worsening economic and social crisis, and an alarming increase in the exodus of Cubans who are heading abroad, by any means possible, especially to the United States, as almost the only opportunity to improve their lives.

The political regime has exhibited no changes of the kind we have been striving for, as dissidents. The repressive control has only increased, and we’re not the only ones saying it. There is a palpable level of violence being perpetrated against the Ladies in White, and against all opponents of the regime in general, and any manifestation of independent participation.

Unfortunately, there has been no democratic opening-up, at all. At the public relations level, however, the Government of Cuba has managed to project a fraudulent mirage of change. Many democratic countries around the world, such as in the European Union, have sought to rethink their relationships with the Government of Cuba, as if almost everything was resolved.

Continue reading HERE.

Strange object in Miami night sky: could it be “migrants”?

Migrants?

A very unusual flying object was spotted –and filmed — at the Miami airport last night.

Babalu would like to start a rumor: maybe the object was an over-propelled flimsy vessel full of Cuban “migrants.”

Perhaps some clever Cuban balsero strapped a jet engine to a rowboat or a ’56 Buick Special?

Stay tuned.  And if you live in Miami and saw this, let us know….

Watch video HERE… and listen to the comments made by some Cuban airport workers  …’ej un cohete que han tira’o…

 

Castro regime agents disrupt memorial service for Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero

Rosa María Rodríguez Gil and her son Yosvany Melchor

From Marti Noticias via ACI prensaloosely translated

Cuba’s Movimiento Cristiano Liberación (MCL) –Christian Liberation Movement — reports the following.

A police car and several Castronoid agents arrived at the home of Rosa María Rodríguez Gil in Havana during the early morning hours of July 22 to prevent anyone from entering the house.

Rosa María Rodríguez Gil had organized a memorial service to mark the fourth anniversary of the murders of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.  Somehow, the Ministry of the Interior found out about the event and sent a goon squad to ensure that no one could attend.

The Castronoid goons intercepted everyone who approached the house and threatened them with arrest.

After they had successfully blocked access to the home of Rosa María Rodríguez Gil, the Castronoid agents arrested her.

MCL also reports that they have been able to arrange two Masses for the souls of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero: one in Santiago de Cuba at Don Bosco church and one in Spain at the church of San Fermin de los Navarros in Madrid.

Martyrs

Real change in Cuba – Part I: New jobs created on the island… for foreign laborers

When President Obama announced his new Cuba policy over a year ago, he promised that his strategy of unilateral concessions and embracing the island’s brutally repressive apartheid dictatorship would “empower” the Cuban people to break free of the government by dismantling the dismal state-controlled economy with some good old fashioned capitalism. Well, changes have certainly arrived in Cuba, but not for the Cuban people. They remain impoverished, enslaved, and trapped on an island prison, but foreign investors and workers are certainly cashing in on the “changes.”

Via Reuters:

Indians help build Cuba hotels as foreign labor ban weakens

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French construction group Bouygues (BOUY.PA) is employing more than 100 Indian laborers to work on a hotel it is building in Cuba, breaking a taboo in the Communist-run country on hiring foreign labor in order to meet increased tourism demand.

The Cuban government removed a key barrier to hiring foreign workers with the passage of a 2014 foreign investment law that authorized “special regulations” concerning foreign workers under “exceptional circumstances.”

Cuban government officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the influx of foreign workers, several dozen of whom spoke to Reuters in Havana. But the Bouygues move, which was also confirmed by a company spokesman, is the first time a firm has bypassed Cuba’s state-run labor halls to hire foreign workers en masse.

For a country struggling to prop up export revenue in the face of low commodity prices, foreign workers on the Caribbean island signal how critical tourism is now in Cuba and how market forces are transforming its once tightly controlled economy.

Already popular as a low-cost beach resort for Europeans and Canadians, Cuba is seeing a surge in American visitors since the United States and Cuba announced in December of 2014 that they would work to normalize relations.

Tourism increased 17 percent in 2015 and was up over 11 percent through June this year, official data shows. It generated $2.8 billion in revenue last year.

Meanwhile, the trade deficit in goods widened by $1.5 billion last year.

Continue reading HERE.

EU ombudsman to investigate organization’s refusal to disclose deal with Cuba’s apartheid dictatorship

Via Diario de Cuba:

EU Ombudsman To Investigate Refusal to Disclose the Agreement with Havana

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EU and Havana delegations during the negotiations.

The Ombudsman’s Office of the European Union (EU) will investigate the European External Action Service’s (EEAS) decision not to disclose the content of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement reached with Havana, as reported in a letter by Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly.

“I have decided to open an investigation into the following allegation and claim: that the EEAS wrongly decided not to disclose the document. The EEAS should disclose the document,” O’Reilly stated in her letter, addressed to Erik Jennische, Director of the Latin America Program of the organization Civil Rights Defenders, to which DIARIO DE CUBA has had access.

In recent months Jennische had complained regarding the EEAS’s refusal to reveal the contents of the treaty reached with Havana in March to the “general public.”

In April the head of the EEAS’s Division of Parliamentary Affairs, Gabriele Visentin, responded to a request by Jennische that disclosure “could undermine the process” and “damage relations between the EU and Cuba.”

The letter from the Ombudsman came as response to a complaint filed by Jennische with the Ombudsman’s Office.

“In order to decide whether the EEAS should be invited to give an opinion regarding the complaint, as a first step in my inquiry I concluded that it would be expedient to inspect the document,” said Ireland’s O’Reilly.

“Therefore, I have informed the EEAS that my office will conduct an inspection of the document. A copy of the inspection report will be sent to you in due time,” she added.

Last week EU diplomatic sources quoted by the Europa Press agency said that the EU expected to sign the agreement with Havana before the end of the year, in order to finally “normalize relations.”

EU Foreign Affairs ministers planned to “provide their perspectives” on the deal at a Monday meeting in Brussels, although there “was no talk about revisiting the text,” agreed to with the government under Raúl Castro.

The European Union Ombudsman is the party to whom citizens can turn to seek redress for damages caused by mismanagement at the organization’s institutions or agencies.

Reports from Cuba: Repression instead of solutions

By Fernando Damaso in Translating Cuba:

Repression Instead of Solutions

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The topic of discussion among Havanans today is not only the intense heat and “the evil of it,” but also the beginning of the persecution and repression against self-employed taxi drivers who have raised their prices.

Given the lack of public transport, which has been going on for a long time, the so-called “boatmen” — as the private drivers are called — have been a boon to citizen transport, helping to alleviate the problem. Taking into account the cost of their vehicles, from the high prices of fuel, the nonexistent parts for repairs, and the increased taxes they have to pay, they have raised their prices.

The response from the Council of Public Administration of the city’s People Power, a regressive and inefficient replacement for the former Mayor, has responded with controls, sanctions and withdrawal of licenses from those who violate the previous prices, all of this being applied as of this last Monday.

Cuban leaders should explain to the citizens why they destroyed the systems of public transportation that functioned efficiently at low prices prior to January 1959, and in 58 years have not been capable of creating one that works.

Repressing those who help transport citizens, in the face of the state’s inability to do so, is not a good decision, and if they don’t stop doing it the situation will become chaotic and could even become violent. The need to move from one place to another has existed since the dawn of mankind, and is not resolved with decrees or impositions, but with efficient and sufficient public transport.

Cuba’s Oswaldo Payá: A Story of Injustice

Thor Halvorssen and Roberto González in National Review:

Oswaldo Payá: A Story of Injustice

Four years after Payá’s death in a mysterious car accident, his family is still searching for the truth.

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Today marks the fourth anniversary of the death of Cuban pro-democracy dissident Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas. Despite the Castro regime’s perpetual smear campaign against him — the government has labeled him a “worm” and a “mercenary” — Payá is internationally recognized as the most prominent Cuban activist of the last 25 years in the Communist island.

In 1988, Payá founded a political movement to promote democratic transition in Cuba. The most prominent effort was the Varela Project, a draft law that — through the collection of more than 11,000 signatures and in observance of requirements set by the Cuban constitution — proposed a referendum that would allow Cubans to decide on legal reforms that would enable the respect of individual rights.

Castro’s regime didn’t take Payá’s work lightly, and it vilified the Varela Project as a CIA-funded, imperialist attempt to undermine Cuba’s constitution. As a result, almost everyone involved with the project was sent to jail and Cuba’s national assembly swiftly approved a set of constitutional reforms affirming the island’s “irrevocable” commitment to the Communist system. Despite this setback, Payá continued struggling for democratic change.

Exactly four years ago, on July 22, 2012, Oswaldo Payá was traveling by car from Havana to Santiago de Cuba. Cuban pro-democracy activist Harold Cepero, Spanish youth-party leader Ángel Carromero, and Swedish politician Jens Aron Modig were traveling with him. According to the Cuban government, Carromero lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree on the side of a highway in the province of Granma. The government claims that Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero died in the crash.

Almost immediately after the events, the Payá family contradicted the government’s version. They stated that a second vehicle was involved. A text message sent by Jens Modig to his friends in Sweden said that a car pushed them off the road. This was confirmed by Carromero, the driver of the car who, once out of Cuba, declared that officers from the Ministry of the Interior had forced him to change his statement of facts. Originally, Carromero had stated to an officer that they were being followed by a vehicle en route to Santiago de Cuba, which later rammed them and pushed them off the road. Carromero had been forced to record a self-incriminating video that was broadcast by state-owned media.

To date, the Cuban authorities have not communicated the autopsy’s results to the Payá family. The only document given to them by the authorities was a handwritten piece of paper, issued by Havana’s medical examiner’s office, stating Oswaldo Payá’s cause of death as “damage to the nervous system.” Also, inexplicably, the authorities washed and packed the outfit worn by Payá on the day he passed away before returning it to his family, “as if they had taken them to the cleaners,” his daughter said.

The facts behind Oswaldo Payá’s death remain uncertain and are actively obscured by the authorities. The best available evidence strongly suggests direct government responsibility for Payá’s death. Meanwhile, the Payá family still demands a proper investigation.

Continue reading HERE.

Senator Marco Rubio vows to continue fight against appointment of ambassador to apartheid Cuba

Julia Ioffe in Politico:

Rubio vows to keep up fight against U.S. ambassador in Cuba

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A year to the day after the Obama administration restored diplomatic ties with Cuba, the United States still doesn’t have an ambassador officially representing it on the communist-led island.

And if Marco Rubio has his way, that’s not going to change anytime soon.

The Florida Republican, who decided to run for reelection to the Senate after his presidential bid failed, told POLITICO that he won’t drop his objections to any hypothetical ambassador nominee. And he scoffed at the notion that having an ambassador in Cuba could help the U.S. argue its case to the government there.

“A U.S. ambassador is not going to influence the Cuban government, which is a dictatorial, closed regime,” Rubio said in a phone interview earlier this week from Florida. He is leading in the polls in the Senate race there after reversing his decision to return to private life following his White House run.

A single senator can severely slow down the confirmation process for an ambassador. Rubio and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) are all harsh enough critics of the U.S. opening to Cuba that President Barack Obama has not even bothered to nominate an ambassador.

All three senators are of Cuban descent. They argue that the Cuban government, led by President Raúl Castro, brother of ailing revolutionary figure Fidel, will merely use its new relationship with Washington to cement its harsh rule.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment for this story; Obama, however, has noted in the past that the U.S. has a better chance of bringing about change in Cuba through engagement than isolation.

Continue reading HERE.

Guillermo Fariñas begins his 24th hunger strike

Guillermo “Coco” Fariñas, one of the bravest of Cuban dissidents was detained, beaten, and tortured this week.

Despite being in poor health — due to previous hunger strikes — he has begun his 24th hunger strike and vows to continue until there is an end to repression in the Castro Kingdom.

Will the same news media that constantly publish fluffy stories about tourism in Cuba pay attention to Coco’s hunger strike?

Dream on.  You know the answer.   Watch the video below (in Spanish) to hear from Coco himself.  It was filmed two days ago.

And pray for Coco if you believe in the power of prayer.

From Breitbart

by Frances Martel

Cuba Post-‘Normalization’: Tortured Dissident Begins 24th Hunger Strike to Protest

Guillermo Fariñas, a Cuban human rights activist who has been a vocal critic of President Barack Obama’s concessions to dictator Raúl Castro, has declared himself on a hunger strike following a severe beating in which communist agents tortured him for hours for daring to inquire about the status of another dissident in custody.

Fariñas has posted a video online describing the injuries he suffered this week at the hands of Castro’s police. Fariñas and a group of dissidents had walked to a police station to inquire about a dissident recently arrested: Carlos Amel Oliva, currently himself on a hunger strike.

Fariñas notes that they did not assemble in protest; they made no public declarations against communism, held up no signs and brought no flyers to distribute urging dissent. He was nonetheless arrested and tortured, suffering two fractured ribs and speaking through a swollen, “black” tongue.

In the video, he describes the methods of torture: Attempted asphyxiation, elbow blows to the ribs, and having his tongue pulled out until it turned purple. The police, he said, told him “it was important for me to know… they didn’t want me on the street anymore.”

“He told me he was going to kill me and ‘viva Fidel,’” Fariñas adds, calling the torture “crimes against humanity.”

Fariñas will not eat or drink water, he declares, until “Raúl Castro says publicly to everyone that there will be no more torture, no more beatings, no more death threats, no more false charges against opposition and arbitrary confiscation.” He confirms to the cameraman that he is willing to die in protest.

Fariñas has also penned an open letter to Raúl Castro in which he asserts that a wave of “abuse, terror, and violence by the repressive authorities of your government” has escalated in the past 19 months, since President Obama announced his concessions to the Castro regime in December 2014.

Fariñas, who in 2010 won the European Parliament’s Andrei Sakharov Prize for human rights advocacy and the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in 2015, has been an outspoken critic of President Obama. Following the initial announcement of the beginning of the “normalization” process in 2014, Fariñas said he felt “betrayed” by President Obama. “We live in daily fear that we will be killed by the fascist government. And now, the US – our ally – turns its back on us and prefers to sit with our killers,” he said.

Continue reading HERE

Four years ago today, Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero were assassinated by Cuba’s Castro dictatorship

paya cepero anniversary 4

It was four years ago today when two peaceful Cuban human rights activists, Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero, were assassinated by State Security agents of the apartheid Castro dictatorship. Along with many of Cuba’s martyrs over the past five and a half decades, their lives were mercilessly snuffed out simply for daring to challenge the tyranny of Cuba’s oppressive regime. And it should be noted this is the same regime President Obama has rewarded with unilateral concessions and as a product of his new “Cuba policy,” is now a brutally repressive apartheid regime that enjoys the full backing of the U.S. government.

Nevertheless, on another anniversary of the ultimate sacrifice made by Payá and Cepero for their fellow Cubans and the tireless struggle for freedom and liberty on the island they carried out before being murdered, we take a moment to honor their memory. We will continue to celebrate and honor the struggle for freedom in Cuba and the sacrifice made by these brave men despite the attempts by the  White House to whitewash the Castro dictatorship’s crimes against humanity. Not only will these men be forever remembered for their bravery, so will the perpetrators of the cowardly acts that took their lives be remembered and eventually judged as well:

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.”