Cuba’s Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet: A Cuban doctor who remains defiant against the apartheid Castro dictatorship

Michael Gerson in The Washington Post:

Óscar Biscet, a Cuban doctor who remains defiant

oscar biscet wapo

When awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2007, Óscar Elías Biscet had a scheduling conflict, being in a Cuban prison. At the White House ceremony, Bush called him a “dangerous man .?.?. in the same way that Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi were dangerous.” It was not until three years later in a dark cell that another prisoner told him what the citation read that day had said.

Recently, unexpectedly, Biscet was allowed by the Cuban regime to travel to the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas and finally receive the award from Bush’s hands. Biscet explained this as part of the regime’s effort to create “the impression of change.” That impression was dimmed a bit by the humiliating searches he was subjected to at the airport upon his departure. Knowing that the police would rummage through his suitcase, Biscet left a surprise: a Cuban flag covering his belongings.

That is the kind of in-your-face defiance displayed by many dissidents. Biscet is offended to the core that the country he loves is occupied by squalid autocrats who have run it into the ground. Political heroism is often expressed by the simple inability to stomach the next indignity. For this attitude, Biscet has spent 12 of his 54 years in Cuban jails.

His first offense was exposing deception at the heart of Cuban health care, the regime’s main source of revolutionary pride. In the early 1990s, Biscet (an internist and medical teacher) began documenting “the mix between politics and medicine” that kept child mortality rates in Cuba so low. The government pressured hospitals and doctors to pressure women with problem pregnancies to abort, in order to post better statistics. “If they know a baby may have congenital malformations,” Biscet told me, “they are killed before birth, unless parents show very strong objections.” He explained: “It is all about appearances.”

The largest question since President Obama’s opening to the Cuban government: Are we seeing changes that are more than appearances? There is little doubt that the regime is increasingly isolated, with its ally Venezuela in socialism-induced chaos and a more hostile government coming in Brazil. The Castro government seems interested in freeing up some economic space for small and medium-size businesses (though not for professionals such as doctors and lawyers). But jobs in tourism are awarded to regime favorites and cronies, including former members of the military. According to a recent report by Oxford Analytica, the infusion of cash into limited regions and economic sectors is encouraging greater inequality and social tension. The government has responded by lowering the price of food and children’s clothing.

There is no indication that the regime is opening social or political space. To the contrary, the Communist Party is overcompensating in its revolutionary zeal, including an old-fashioned diatribe by Fidel Castro against Obama and American imperialism.

Americans naturally view these events through the lens of their own interests and weigh the costs and benefits. Obama’s visit to Cuba in March was viewed by many (and by him) as a diplomatic breakthrough. Dissidents see things differently. “For us,” said Biscet’s wife, Elsa Morejon, “the faces of the Castros on posters are like the faces of Hitler and Stalin. To see the president of a democratic government embrace these people was .?.?. discouraging.”

Continue reading HERE.

Reports from Cuba: The hidden pastors of Cuba’s evangelical churches

By Ricardo Fernandez in Translating Cuba:

The Hidden Pastors Of Cuba’s Evangelical Churches

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Minister holds a service in the Cuban Evangelical Church League

14ymedio, Ricardo Fernandez, Pinar del Rio, 26 June 2016 – Religious visas for foreign pastors invited to Christian events exist in all countries, but in Cuba they serve as a mechanism of repression and blackmail by the state, with the aim of silencing the voices that are raised against it within the Christian community.

When this kind of visa is requested, the Cuban government demands that the churches submit a detailed schedule of the places where the foreigners will be and where they will stay, from the time of their arrival in the country until their departure. If the itinerary includes any of the churches that express disagreement with state policies, then the request for entry into the country is denied.

In addition, the Cuban governments demands that the church councils submit all the data on the preachers involved before offering them a visa, and if they are found to be associated with any NGO in their countries of origin that does not sympathize with “the Cuban cause,” the request is denied. If everything for one pastor is “in order,” according to their preferences, but the event has also invited other pastors who dissent from the communist process, the visa will probably be denied. Faced with this stark reality, the Christian community has been forced to hide foreign pastors who are invited to preach at their events.

This generates persecution by the Department of Immigration and Aliens, which levies heavy fines on offending churches or pressures their guests to leave the conference venue. On many occasions we have seen police operations mounted to stop pastors, as if they were drug dealers, who manage to make it to our activities.

How can the Church hide these preachers? It requires a great deal of audacity. The basic thing is to omit the names in the conference programs that are made public, and to have the guests travel on a tourist visa (sometimes through a third country) and reach the island by way of an airport in another province.

When they enter with a tourist visa (at least in theory) they can move freely around the country. That means it is not illegal for them to be in one of our churches and, if found with microphone in hand, we can always claim that they are “witnessing” (a term in Christian speech that is similar to preaching) rather than lecturing. As a security measure, these preachings are not made public through audios or videos, in case they might appear on social networks and become incriminating evidence against us.

While this happens with pastors of all nationalities, most abused are the Americans, because they provide most of the financial support for our congregations. This support is not some “Machiavellian plan of the Empire.” The Cuban Evangelical Church has had its roots in American congregations since 1900, when they began sending evangelists to our country, who established what we know today.

By denying US religious pastors visas, the Cuban government “punishes” the rebellious churches twice, because not only do they prevent their members from listening to the words of the guest, but they also cut off all possible financial aid.

That this happens in our country is contrary to the Constitution, which states in Chapter 1 Article 8: “The State recognizes, respects and guarantees religious freedom. In the Republic of Cuba, religious institutions are separate from the state. The different beliefs and religions enjoy equal consideration.”

How much longer will we have to wait for our religious freedom to be recognized and guaranteed? And above all: What is the government waiting for to start respecting our rights?

Why the hierarchy of the Cuban Catholic Church deserves no respect

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the root of all evil

A few days ago I was contacted by a Babalu reader who asked me to explain why I was so harsh a critic of the leaders of the Catholic Church in Cuba.

This reader expressed dismay over my apparent inability to comprehend how perilous life is for Catholics and all religiously active Cubans.

And this reader also put forward the argument that my critique of the leadership of the Cuban Catholic Church is actually helping the Castro regime.

Below is my reply.

I think it’s worth sharing with all our readers, for various reasons, not the least of which is the distinct possibility that other Babalu readers might find my despair and anger hard to understand.

Look at the photo above. Imagine if that were a cardinal standing next to Adolf Hitler, with the same expression on his face.

Would that cardinal deserve any respect? Would he get any respect, even from the tyrant whose boots he licks?

Any questions, please let me know.

"To be Christian is to work for a more perfect socialism"
“Anyone who isn’t a socialist doesn’t belong in my church”

Dear So and So:

I’m painfully aware of the sword that dangles over the Catholic Church in Cuba, and understand that some accommodations are necessary not just to give the church some freedom of movement, but also to ensure its survival.

However, as I see it, what Cardinal Ortega embodied was not “accommodation” to a godless dictatorship, but cooperation with it. And it seems that his successor intends to continue that cooperation.

Throughout Christian history, the issue of rendering unto Caesar has been a constant source of disagreement. But the disagreement has been about degrees of accommodation, not about collusion or about an outright betrayal of Christian principles.

Ortega went too far over the line, and now his successor promises to do the same.

I inserted that quote from Rerum Novarum in my latest post because it proves how far over the line Ortega and Garcia have gone. As that encyclical points out, socialism is NOT to be confused with Christian or Catholic ethics, even though so-called Liberation theologians would like for the church leadership and all the laity to believe that. Socialism of the sort defended by Ortega and Garcia — repressive, intolerant, atheistic — is not “social justice” or “balance” or “brotherly” love, but rather the opposite.

I know there are priests and laypeople in Cuba who don’t cross the line, yet have to accommodate to some degree. I often wonder how the priests who say Mass for the Ladies in White get along with their superiors, or what price they are paying for their commitment to peaceful protest.

My aunt taught catechism for years and years in her home and she was carefully watched by the CDR. She also had to give the CDR the names of the kids she taught, knowing that this would make them pariahs at school, and that their education would end abruptly at age 16, regardless of their intelligence or talents. That is accommodation. You take the punches, knowing how much they hurt.

Ortega “accommodates’ in a totally different way. Just take a look at that photo in my post. And that’s only one of many such disgusting photos that show him having a grand old time with mass murderers. He embodies the old-time corruption that –sadly — has bedeviled the Catholic hierarchy for many centuries.

A few years ago I saw an article written by Cardinal Ortega for his diocesan web site. Unfortunately, the article was erased shortly after I stumbled upon it and now there is no evidence of its existence. But in that article the good Cardinal said that anyone who wants to undo the great accomplishments of the Revolution has no right to determine the future of Cuba… or something like that.

That is not accommodation. That is collusion, and a betrayal of the Cuban people. Now Garcia says he doesn’t want capitalism “or anything like that”… Unfortunately, the current pope is on the same wavelength, so the betrayal is supported at the highest of all levels.

I don’t see any way in which my critique of the corruption at the top of the Cuban hierarchy can benefit the regime. And I see it as corruption, yes. Corruption, and damn close to heresy too. On the contrary, I think that exposing the betrayal and the hypocrisy with which it is carried out can only hurt the regime.

Uh, oh..is He coming back already?

Profiting from the enslavement of Cuba’s people betrays Alabama’s values

J. Pepper Bryars in AL.com:

Lifting embargo on Cuba would betray Alabama’s values

fidel havana

Some of our state’s leaders recently claimed in an AL.com opinion piece that trading with the Castro brothers would be a “win-win-win” for Alabama, the United States, and even Cuba.

Truth is, it’d be a shame, shame, shame for us to profit from the continued captivity of that island nation’s long-enslaved people.

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, one of the article’s four co-authors, believes our nation’s embargo on Cuba is an “isolationist policy” that is “infringing on Alabamians’ right to choose with whom they can and can’t do business with.”

Normally, the mayor would have a point. Free markets are a tenet of conservatism, but there’s nothing free about trading with a criminal government that enslaves its people, especially if that trade only enriches the slaveholders.

Make no mistake, any dollars flowing in-or-out of Cuba must first flow through the hands of Fidel and Raul Castro. That’s how they’ve managed to become shadow billionaires while keeping a tight lid on their communist pressure cooker for more than 55 years.

Another of the article’s co-authors, State Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, would have us believe that the embargo has “negatively impacted the Cuban people.”

Typical. Blame America for another nation’s self-inflicted wounds. Still, normally she might have a point. Free trade usually rewards hard-working people, but trading with the hard-working Cuban people’s slave masters would create the most negative impact of all.

For those who think my use of that word — “slave” — is too harsh, or perhaps hyperbole, I ask you: what is a slave, then?

The people of Cuba are told how, when, and where to work, yet they do not own the fruits of their labor. They are also told what to read, what to listen to, what to watch, how to pray – if at all – and even how to think. They are not allowed to leave … ever … and if they try, they’re hunted down, captured, and hauled back to be punished and set to work again, often in even more miserable conditions than those they fled. In response to these facts, the apologists explain how wonderfully the Castro brothers treat their subjects, and how well they’re fed and cared for.

That’s slavery, ladies and gentlemen. There’s no other word for it.

Continue reading HERE.

What embargo? Obama just goes around the laws he does not like

 

 

(My new American Thinker post)

From ObamaCare to executive orders legalizing illegal immigrants, President Obama has shown us that he does not understand the role of the executive branch under our Constitution.

So let me remind you. This is directly from the U.S. Constitution:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The president is the chief executive officer. He must enforce and obey the laws of the U.S. He does not avoid the ones he dislikes and enforces the ones he likes.

The U.S. embargo is apparently a law that President Obama does not like. Therefore, he must enforce it or call on Congress to repeal it. On immigration, we see a similar situation. President Obama does not like that Congress has not passed the immigration reform that he likes. So he is going around Congress and running into the Supreme Court.

We just read that a U.S. company is going to run a hotel in Cuba. They are partners with the Cuban government because that’s the only option for a foreign company in Cuba.

I agree with Capitol Hill Cubans:

This week, the agreement between the U.S.-based hotel company, Starwood, and the Cuban military’s tourism entity, Gaviota, was consummated.

Under the deal, Starwood will manage the Hotel Quinta Avenida in Havana for the Cuban military.

First and foremost, this arrangement is clearly inconsistent with U.S. law — it’s illegal and should be challenged as such.

Moreover, it proves Obama has not been forthcoming.

Allowing U.S. companies to partner directly with the most repressive security apparatus in the Western Hemisphere neither “empowers the Cuban people,” nor “promotes their independence from the Cuban authorities.”

It’s simply repulsive.

Obama claims his Cuba policy shows the “Cold War is over” — yet his policy harkens back to the darkest days of the Cold War, when the United States partnered with repressive regimes throughout the hemisphere.

This is indeed a violation of the embargo. Furthermore, what Cuban family or foreign investor had this property stolen from them years ago?

There are two problems here:

President Obama and many Democrats don’t have the votes to repeal the embargo so they just dance around it with executive orders; and, this new hotel is a joint venture with Castro Inc. and not an enterprise that will make Cuba more prosperous.

Two entities will benefit from this deal: The Castro family and Starwood.

Cubans may work in the hotel but they will likely be paid by the Cuban government and not allowed to form a union to negotiate with management.

The Obama-Castro deal shows everything that is wrong with this administration. Obama is naive about dictators and shows little respect for the laws of the U.S.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Reports from Cuba: Archbishop of Havana wants ‘socialism to progress’

14yMedio via Translating Cuba:

Archbishop Of Havana Wants “Socialism To Progress”

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The newly appointed archbishop of Havana, Juan de la Caridad Garcia, said in an interview broadcast Monday by the Associated Press (AP) that does not want that Cuba “to have capitalism or anything in that style, but for socialism to progress” to go “forward to fair, balanced and fraternal society.”

The priest defended the work of his predecessor, Jaime Ortega. “I think that the cardinal did a great deal of good,” he said. “In some places there is a slightly negative image of him, and it is false. I am going to continue doing what he did.”

The archbishop said he doesn’t fear the criticisms of government opponents, which for years demanded that Ortega, who led the archdiocese for three decades, press for a change in the country’s political model.

Born in 1948 in Camagüey, Garcia did not support the Revolution after its victory in 1959. He was ordained a priest in 1972 and became Archbishop of Camagüey in 2002. His father died in prison accused of being responsible for a train accident, which took place in unclear circumstances, at the end of the 1960s, an era marked by harassment of religious figures. Despite the fact that he challenged the state in the 1970s by offering catechism in homes, he later changed his attitude toward the authorities. “There were always people who remained faithful despite the great difficulties at the beginning of the Revolution. One can walk, talk and look to the future,” he told the AP. “We can’t live in the past.”

Florida GOP candidate for senate Carlos Beruff would like you to ignore all his pro-Castro Cuba stances

About the only redeeming quality you can attribute to a ñangara is that you can spot them a mile away.

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Carlos Beruff’s Cuban ‘Cuento’ (Fairy-Tale)

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Beruff meeting with Castro regime officials in Havana, along with Al Fox (far left).

Florida primary voters can’t trust Carlos Beruff.Just months ago, Beruff agreed with President Obama that the rights of the Cuban people should be relegated to business interests.

Here’s what he said in favor of Obama’s embrace of the Castro dictatorship:

If human rights are the only reason we’re not doing business with Cuba, then we’re doing business with a lot of countries we shouldn’t be doing business with.”

In other words, two wrongs make a right — and never mind that it’s your own brethren.

Of course, now that he’s running for the U.S. Senate, Beruff claims to have had a sudden change of heart.

We’d like to believe him. But it gets worse.

Just a few years ago, Beruff traveled to Cuba with a policy group led by Castro apologist, Al Fox, Jr. — the so-called Alliance for a Responsible Cuba Policy.

We don’t use the term “Castro apologist” lightly.

Fox is a Tampa-based lobbyist with a long history of representing the most despicable regimes. He served as a D.C.-lobbyist for the apartheid regime in South Africa in the 1980s.

Since the late 1990s, Fox has been an outspoken defender of the Cuban dictatorship. He has personally met with Fidel Castro nearly a dozen times, and refers to Cuban exiles as “Batistites” and “losers“.

Fox is so fringe that he even criticized Obama’s speech in Havana for not being lenient enough with the Castros:

I agree with some of Fidel’s comments. That was not the moment for Obama to chastise the Cuban government.”

Yet this is who Beruff traveled with to Cuba, where he was wined-and-dined by Castro regime officials.

Once again, Beruff now claims he was unaware of the purpose of the trip.

How can someone who wants to be a U.S. Senator pay a policy group to take a trip to Cuba and purport not to be aware of their policies?

That would make Beruff unfit for office.

Or simply not forthright.

Dallas Morning News editor commends courageous Cuban dissident, then informs him he knows nothing about Cuba

In her column yesterday, Dallas Morning News editor Leona Allen commends and congratulates courageous Cuban dissident and former political prisoner Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet on finally receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush:

Leona Allen: Cuban human rights advocate’s visit highlights delicate Cuba-U.S. relations

bush biscet medal of freedom dmn

It’s not every day that a Presidential Medal of Freedom winner makes his way to The Dallas Morning News editorial board.

Cuban human rights activist Oscar Biscet  sat down with the board recently and passionately discussed his continued fight for freedom and democracy for his people.  It was the Havana physician’s  first trip to the United States from Cuba, where he was imprisoned from 2002 until 2011 for speaking out against his Communist government — and where an uncertain future awaits his expected return in August.

When President George W. Bush recognized his efforts in 2007 with the Medal of Freedom, he did so in absentia because Biscet was in prison. In Dallas, Bush was able to meet Biscet, now 54, for the first time last week and presented the medal in person at the Bush Institute, where it will remain on display.

Biscet said, through a translator, that the fight has been worth it.

He spoke of beatings, killings and espionage at the hands of Cuba’s dictatorship that sound like something out of a James Bond movie — except he described it as everyday life in his country.  And he voiced his hope that one day Cubans would be free of government oppression.

“I can forgive what they did to me.” Biscet said. “I cannot forgive what they did to the Cuban people.”

He called President Obama’s restoring of diplomatic and limited trade ties with Cuba after 50 years a “political mistake” as long as the Cuban government outlaws free speech and fails to adopt democratic principles.

However, once she was done dispensing her polite and appropriate niceties, Ms. Allen then proceeds to inform Dr. Biscet how wrong he is about Cuba and basically implies that her and the Editorial Board of the newspaper know what is best for Cuba:

Of course some — including this newspaper — believe opening up trade with Cuba, just 90 miles from the U.S., and creating a free-market system could be just the antidote for the heavy-handed system of the Castro regime. Thousands of American tourists with money to spend and U.S. products flooding Cuba can be transformative and open up a world Cubans have never seen.

And there are some estimates that Texas could see $43 billion in total economic impact from increased exports and other trade with Cuba. Gov. Greg Abbott led a Texas trade mission to Cuba in December.

Still, not many would dispute that Cuba has a long way to go on improving human rights. No one wants to see people treated the way Biscet says he’s been treated just for speaking up for what they believe is right.

Here’s hoping his time in the U.S. garners more support for affording more freedoms for everyday Cubans. And that the fact he’s such a high-profile advocate for human rights protects him and his family from harm upon his return home.

According to Allen, yeah, sure, Dr. Biscet actually does live in the belly of the beast and has better knowledge than anyone outside of Cuba how to defeat it. Biscet also knows that decades of foreign tourists visiting the island to the tune of millions each year have done nothing to the help the Cuban people but has instead funded the repressive machinery of the apartheid Castro dictatorship.

But hey, what the hell does he know? He’s just a Cuban. He’s just a native savage who is intellectually incapable of understanding the how good he has it in Communist Cuba with all the free healthcare and education the Castros give out like candy. Moreover, he has no interest in the billions of dollars Texas companies can earn from trade with the corrupt Castro regime, even though eventually U.S. taxpayers will end up footing that bill if Obama gets his way and provides them with credit.

The arrogance is stupefying, but unfortunately, par for the course.

Millennial visits apartheid Cuba, has momentary lapse of reason

No one can actually expect a non-Cuban New Yorker of Brazilian-Italian descent to understand the situation in apartheid Cuba, let alone have much interest in it. Nonetheless, as a “travel journalist,” one would have expected Celinne Da Costa to have at least done some research before her visit to the island so she could at a minimum provide an account of her trip from a historically accurate perspective. Alas, that was not the case.

However, one has to give credit where credit is due. Despite the lack of historic perspective that easily explains the misery suffered by 11-million+ Cubans, Da Costa suffers a momentary lapse of reason and grapples with the shocking realization that Cuba’s despotic communist dictatorship just might be reason behind the suffering and poverty suffered by the Cuban people.

Via Forbes:

Cuba: More Than Just a Time Capsule

I visited Cuba during a tender moment of its life: in the past year, various U.S. travel and financial restrictions have been lifted, however, the status of its long-standing embargo is still up for debate. With the thawing of this previously hostile relationship also comes an influx of tourism, both American and from those who want to visit before the Americans flood in. Even so, tourism is still moderate enough that the country has not yet succumbed to its cancers (read: multinational corporation takeovers).

Visitors are quick to fawn over Cuba for being a time capsule. The colorful old-school automobiles, the ornate yet decaying Spanish colonial buildings, and the general lag that results from minimal exposure to the Internet and technology all contribute to the country’s undeniable charm. I felt this juxtaposition of modernity against history straight out of the airport when I was picked up in a 1954 baby blue Chrysler playing reggae from a bootleg sound system, by a driver who loudly talked in his phablet while manually tying my suitcase to the roof of the car.

I’m personally guilty of gawking at Cuba’s antiquated aesthetic and squealing with glee whenever a candy-colored 1950s car passed by. It didn’t take me long to realize, however, that the country’s suspended state of being is only cute to the outsider. There is far more going on beyond what meets the eye.

I was lucky to experience Cuba through the eyes of a local millennial. My Cuban escort, whom I was connected with through a friend of a friend’s friend, was instrumental in helping me see past my rose-colored lenses and into the country’s unfiltered political, economical, and social state. Getting the inside scoop from a local is made purposely difficult, as the country’s laws are set up to limit interaction between foreigners and locals beyond tourist services. But more on that later.

With the assistance of my newfound Cuban friend and others that I made along the way, I learned that Cuba is much more than a time capsule – it is a country still deeply entrenched in a complex political situation, a struggle for financial stability, and teetering on the brink of a collective craving amongst millennials for a better life.

The Current State of Cuban Life

My understanding of Cuba began to take shape once I inquired into the realities of people’s daily lives. I was shocked to learn that Cubans on average earn only $20 a month – that means people work for less than $1 a day. Though this figure is relatively adjusted to the country’s much lower cost of living, it’s still just enough to get by. The job situation is even less stable for millennials than for older generations: whereas it’s taken for granted in the U.S. that those who graduate from a decent college will likely be employed, even educated Cuban millennials often find themselves working several odd jobs to make ends meet.

The government heavily relies on its people’s productivity to run the economy, yet appears to give little in return. Cubans are given a piece of land to live on so long as they agree to sell most of whatever they produce on it to the government for a standardized price: at the tobacco farm that I visited, farmers are obligated to sell 90% of their product to the government (for Cuban cigars, which as we know are quite expensive), leaving only 10% of their hard-earned work for personal consumption or significantly more profitable sale. Cubans who do not produce have to pay heavy taxes or get their land taken and those who want to own private entities are made to pay such hefty fines that their profit is not much better than if they worked with the government.

When it comes to the economy, the state does what it will, and no one is given an explanation as to why. While this is a situation reluctantly accepted by older generations as the way of life, younger generations are increasingly questioning the fairness of this system. Even so, it is difficult for millennials to pinpoint a solution when they don’t know what they don’t know.

The government placates Cubans by keeping them ignorant to the fact that life could be any other way. While I first found it charming that some locals have never heard of the name McDonald’s or Starbucks, it later struck me as a blatant sign of how little they know about the world outside of their country. The history they study is their own, the story they’re told is biased to favor the government, and their contact with tourists is monitored and in some cases, punishable by law. My Cuban friends were stopped by the police and questioned about their involvement with me every time we drove somewhere, only to be warded off by bribes (apparently, the police is financially motivated to give inhabitants fines as it boosts their own salary at the end of the month). Despite questioning them for half an hour each time, the police never bothered me personally.

Continue reading HERE.

Why didn’t President Obama meet Cuban dissident Dr. Biscet?

 

(My new American Thinker post)

Back in 2007, then President Bush presented The Medal of Freedom in absentia to the Cuban human rights and democracy activist Oscar Elias Biscet. This week, he was able to place the award on Biscet’s shoulders.

Good for President Bush!

Where was President Obama?  Why didn’t President Obama give a minute of his time to Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet?

For the record, Dr Biscet is a human rights leader:

Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet is a physician, winner of numerous human rights awards, including the 2008 Presidential Medal of Freedom, and president of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, which peacefully promotes human rights and the rule of law in Cuba. In reprisal for his human rights activities, Dr. Biscet was sentenced to 25 years in prison and has been held in some of the harshest conditions experienced by any prisoners in Cuba, including in punishment cells and solitary confinement. This is Dr. Biscet’s second stint in prison. Biscet first ran afoul of the Castro regime in the 1990s, when he investigated Cuban abortion techniques — Cuba has by far the highest abortion rates in the Western Hemisphere — and revealed that numerous infants had been killed after being delivered alive. The report was sent to Fidel Castro with un-official statistics and testimonies from mothers who described the infanticide. Biscet was arrested and served three years in a prison camp after publishing this article condemning abortion. Officially, Biscet was imprisoned for the crime of “disrespect.” After he was released in 2002, Biscet was again arrested, after only a month of freedom, during Cuba’s Black Spring.

Biscet’s prison cell is the stuff of a Victor Hugo nightmare: tiny, filthy, and shared with an almost uncontrollably violent cellmate. He has no windows and hasn’t seen sunlight in weeks. He’s afforded no medicines or toiletries. Other than a 2-hour visit from his wife every two months, he’s permitted no visitors, correspondence, or other reading materials. Currently, Dr. Biscet suffers from chronic gastritis, hypertension and recurring infections and is reportedly losing his eyesight; his poor health has been severely aggravated by unhygienic prison conditions and harsh treatment. At one point, Dr. Biscet was reported to have lost more than 60 pounds while in prison. Nonetheless, he inspires others with his repeated acts of defiance against his persecutors.

Recently, in a letter smuggled from his prison, entitled Civil Disobedience, Biscet urged all Cubans to continue to pray and fast until the government signs the international human rights treaties that have been established by the United Nations. Biscet wrote, “The people of Cuba have been suffering the scorn of a totalitarian tyranny, Communism, throughout four decades. Due to this inhumane treatment whereby the decorum of a people is violated, many Cubans are indignant and have risen up to pray and fast, beseeching the God of the Bible…we must expedite the achievement of these basic rights through civil disobedience and by putting into practice all methods to obtain our humanitarian aim.” Biscet pledged, “Here, in this dark jail where they force me to live, I will be resisting until the freedom of my people is obtained.”

Only this year, five years after his release from prison, was he allowed to travel to the United States.

Dr. Biscet is precisely the kind of human rights leader that President Obama, or any other U.S. president, should be embracing.

Perhaps President Obama does not want to upset Raul Castro.

Or maybe Dr. Biscet is politically incorrect: A Cuban black who opposes abortion and the opening to Cuba without demanding something from Castro.

Where is President Obama? He is talking to a lot of people but not a black Cuban human rights leader.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Video of the Day – Gay Cuban dissident Reinaldo Arenas on the repression of Cuba’s LGBT community

reinaldo arenas

LGBT groups are flocking to apartheid Cuba for vacations and excursions under the impression the island is a gay paradise where no one will discriminate against them. They are in reality completely oblivious to the Castro dictatorship’s horrific history of oppression against LGBT Cubans when not so long ago they would be rounded up and put into concentration camps throughout the island.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to gay Cuban dissident Reinaldo Arenas explain the truth about being gay in Castro’s Cuba: