Obama Denies Cuban-American Victims Justice, Then Slaps Them in the Face

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Obama Denies Cuban-American Victims Justice, Then Slaps Them in the Face

On December 17th, in exchange for American hostage Alan Gross, the Obama Administration released three Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States for various crimes, including a conspiracy to kill Americans.

Their victims were four young Americans, the pilots of the Brothers to the Rescue planes disintegrated in international waters by Cuban MIGs, who were murdered by the Castro regime with the help of (at least one of) these Cuban spies.

With the unmerited release of these convicted spies, their families were denied any justice.

And, as seen in this exchange with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, the families weren’t even notified.

Even worse — they were lied to.

Now, adding further insult to injury, the Obama Administration is green-lighting trips to celebrate with these Cuban spies, who have American blood on their hands.

Is their no shame?

By Elliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations:

The Nation’s Meet The Spies Tour

Travel to Cuba is a new fad, helped by the changes the Obama administration has made in U.S. policy. It’s easy now for almost any group to go there, under the guise of some educational program or purpose.

But travel to Cuba has long been a practice for American leftists, who have seen the Castro regime not as a brutal oppressor of human rights but as a beacon of light in the Hemisphere. No democracy, free expression, freedom of the press, free trade unions? Who cares, after all? The thrill of visiting the communist island has been too much to resist.

Still, there was usually a pretense that the visitors were not there to celebrate the regime. But not in the coming visit organized by The Nation, the old leftist magazine. Its September trip includes many of the staples, according to The Nation’s invitation letters. The trip will feature:

“…museum tours with eminent art and cultural historians; seminars and lectures featuring renowned Cuban economists, government officials, community activists, physicians, and urban planners; exclusive concerts with popular jazz artists, troubadours, and folk musicians; performances by students of Cuba’s internationally acclaimed ballet institutes; visits to artist’s colonies and studios; guided tours of Old Havana, the Latin American Medical School, and the University of Havana; and visits to many other inspiring locales and events.”

No surprises there. But actually I left out a key clause in that paragraph. The trip will also include:

“…a meeting and discussion with the Cuban Five, the intelligence agents considered national heroes after spending many years imprisoned in US jails.”

This is pretty remarkable. The Nation describes the tour as “a particularly inspiring and extraordinary time to experience the people, politics, culture, and history of Cuba in a way few ever have before.” In a way few Americans ever have before? Now, that’s true enough: how many American get to meet with and celebrate people who spied against our country and were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage and conspiracy to commit murder? How many Americans want to? Due to their actions four Americans died, in a Brothers to the Rescue plane shot down in international airspace. But the frisson of meeting people who actually—the Cuban government has admitted this—were intelligence agents and were convicted of spying on the United States is so wonderful that it is worth the $5,550 per person fees for the tour.

The Nation says the trip is organized “under The Nation’s license issued by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control to promote people-to-people contact.” Perhaps it fits, although I didn’t think the new federal regulations actually included people-to-spies contacts. In any event, let’s applaud the folks at The Nation. No nonsense about going to the beach, and no dissimulation about who they want to see. The visitors will meet no former political prisoners, no members of the Ladies in White opposition activists, no opposition journalists, no one trying to organize a free trade union. Just the regime’s mouthpieces…and the spies.

Bon Voyage.

bandera

State Department’s Annual Human Rights Report released, no improvement in Cuba

The Department of State finally released its 2014 Annual Human Rights Report. No doubt the delay was to allow extra time for the magic of talks to bear fruit, as the report cited both Iran and Cuba as serial human rights violators. How inconvenient, but as Secretary Kerry states in the embarrassing press release, the report is offered with “humility”.

Via the Washington Examiner:

“My advice to any leader who is upset by these findings [in the reports] is really to examine them, to look at the practices of their country, and to recognize that the way to alter what the world thinks … is to alter what is happening in those countries,” said Kerry. “That is the advice that we also give to ourselves. … We couldn’t help but have humility when we have seen what we have seen in the last year in terms of racial discord and unrest. So we approach this with great self-awareness.”

[…}

He said that when it comes to Iran and Cuba, the United States’ engagement is not the same thing as endorsement. He also said the purpose of the nuclear talks is to deal with the nuclear issue and not to deal with the human rights issue, which is a separate concern, a point the State Department has had to reiterate to reporters numerous times.

Continue reading HERE.

Reports from Cuba: Domestic Tourism, the Faces of Deceit

By Ernesto Perez Chang in Translating Cuba:

Domestic Tourism, the Faces of Deceit

Cuban guests can only observe foreigners enjoy yachting trips. They are prohibited from this activity (photo by the author)
Cuban guests can only observe foreigners enjoy yachting trips. They are prohibited from this activity (photo by the author)

Cubanet.org, Ernesto Perez Chang, Havana, 16 June 2015 — To judge by the avalanche of television programs that in recent weeks have been dedicated to so-called “domestic tourism,” in Cuba all families have adequate income to become a major market for the island’s hotel groups and resorts.

Several Round Tables with the participation of ministers, vice-ministers, and company heads, all tied to the tourism sector, plus extensive reports on the Cuban Television National News detail the offers for this summer, present promotional campaigns in hotels and shopping centers and exhort the “Cuban family” to make reservations as soon as possible due to high demand.

The propagandistic marathon gives the sense that the economies within our homes are booming and that this country, replete with multitudes living below the poverty line, only exists in “enemy propaganda.”

As anyone can find out if he wants to, within those same tourist centers “open to everyone,” it is difficult to find guests from our own backyard. Nevertheless, at the doors of the hotels one can collect statements from people who not even in their dreams are permitted the fantasy of “vacationing” on equal terms with foreigners.

Although many may seem to be indigent or to owe their poverty to a slight entrepreneurial spirit, talking with any of those vendors and hustlers who abound in the streets of Cuba can reveal to us that it is those same men and women, workers and professionals, who once believed in that perennial “sacrifice for the future” demanded by those same government officials who today, when speaking of vacations and complete availability in the midst of the daily miseries, inoculate them with a sense of personal failure.

Manolo, a street vendor with whom we spoke on a corner of Paseo del Prado tells us: “I worked my whole life, I was at the sugar harvest when needed, I was in all the mobilizations and I was in the vanguard for many years, and I have nothing. (…) My pension does not cover my needs, like almost everyone. How am I going to plan a vacation? Only one time, in 1983, could I go to a house on the beach in Guanabo, a week, and now I don’t even remember why it was. Vacations are for the rich, and in this country almost everyone is poor, so I don’t know what they’re talking about on television. Well, there they say anything. My son tells me that if I want to consume everything they talk about on the television, I have to put a basket underneath it, because they only exist on the news.”

Manolo’s experience is similar to that of thousands, maybe millions, of Cubans. Collecting testimony about the matter is not hard, and this makes it much more dramatic.
German, another old retiree who sells plastic bags in the streets of Old Havana, could give the impression that he wasted his time when young and that he did not exert himself to achieve greater welfare in his old age; however, like any decent Cuban he believed in work as the only source of prosperity and currently he feels cheated. Vacation in one of the tourist facilities promoted as a vacation destination by the government itself is a true luxury: “What do I do then? It is better not to even think of those things. (…) I never pay attention to what they say on television. They have their country and we, ours,” German tells me.

In cahoots with the journalists who lend themselves to hiding the true reality in a country where the word “vacation” has become empty of all meaning, government officials have the audacity to speak of “affordable prices,” of “overbooking” and “high demand” in a scenario where the entire year’s salary from an honest professional’s job is not high enough to even provide the enjoyment of one day in hotel in Cayo Coco or Varadero, two of the destinations that, according to the official press and the highest tourism authorities in Cuba, “are among the most in demand by the domestic tourist for the coming months of July and August, a time when Cubans comprise 45 percent of those vacationing.” The statistics from MINTUR, contrasted with Cubans’ hard day-to-day reality, are offensive.

Continue reading HERE.

Amendment to cut funding for Radio and TV Marti defeated

For a change, good news.

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Amendment to Cut Radio-TV Marti Defeated, Another to Restore Embassy Funds Withdrawn

An amendment this morning in the House Appropriations Committee, which sought to cut $5 million in funding for Radio and TV Marti failed by a bipartisan vote of 18-33.

The amendment was offered by U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) during the markup of the FY 2016 State Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.

Another amendment, which sought to restore funding for a potential U.S. Embassy in Cuba — currently prohibited in the bill — was withdrawn after sensing it would also be defeated.

Cuba’s democratic opposition left without support

Yes, another post about the lack of human rights in Cuba, not that anyone outside the Cuban community seems to care. Long ago, it was decided by the trend setters, the MSM, Hollywood, and the useful idiots of the world, that a cigar smoking mass-murdering psychopath and his band of thugs guilty of mass-murder, narco and human trafficking, and international terrorism are the ultimate in rebel hip coolness. How long will the love affair last? Probably until the vultures win the day and Cuba looks pretty much like any other third world hell hole tourist destination with boring retail chains selling trinkets in tourist areas isolated from the repressed poverty stricken locals. Just as it was in Apartheid South Africa, and is in Cuba today, except that with normalization the anti-American forbidden fruit thrill will be gone. Where’s the fun in that?

Durbin So. Africa sign during Apartheid era
Durbin So. Africa sign during Apartheid era
Cuban Police  reminding black Cubans they are not welcome. Tourists only.
Cuban Police reminding black Cubans they are not welcome. Tourists only.

Via Democracy Digest:

Cuba’s democratic opposition ‘has never been less protected’

cuba foranothercubalogoindexThe U.S. engagement with Cuba has produced no discernible political liberalization on the part of the Communist authorities, says a leading global civil society group.

There appears to be no let up in official censorship and repression of active citizens in authoritarian states like Cuba, China, Iran, North Korea, and Vietnam, according to Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research at CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance.

“Freedom of assembly is virtually non-existent in such contexts, and activists are often forced to engage online. But when they do so, they are demonized as being agents of Western security agencies,” he notes.

Cuba remains among the world’s top ten most censored countries, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

CUBA EXPRESSIONThe CPJ rankings indicate that the normalizing of US-Cuba relations cannot “mask the fact that Cuba will continue to be a one-party Communist state,” notes dissident writer Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo.

Cuba’s democratic opposition “has never been more fragile and less protected than today, despite the impressive number of dissidents and the heroism they display,” writes analyst Carlos Alberto Montaner.

Continue reading HERE.

Tourists enjoying Varadaro
Tourists enjoying Varadaro

Warning: There are land sharks in Cuba

Via the International Business Law Advisor:

Rum, Risk and Ruin: 13 Reasons Why You Still Shouldn’t Do Business in Cuba
By Santiago A. Cueto

The removal of Cuba from the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list this week sparked a groundswell of excitement among U.S. entrepreneurs, lawyers, and investors looking to profit from the “enormous opportunities” on the island.

As part of the Florida Bar’s first-ever delegation to Havana, Cuba last week, I got the chance to see these “opportunities” for myself.

Indeed, Cuba does have lots of things to “offer”.

But they’re not what you’d expect.

The things I found most abundant in Cuba where rum, risk and ruin.

Rum

First, the rum.

It’s everywhere.

Whether it’s meant to dull the senses of the locals to the island’s stark dystopian scene or to enhance the experience of the throngs of daily visitors, the abundance of rum is enough to fill Havana Bay twenty times over.

So there’s that.

Risk

Then there’s risk.

I’m not talking about the “getting mugged on a street corner” kind of risk– I always felt safe walking in Havana.

I’m talking about the “getting mugged by the Castro regime” kind of risk.

Economic risk.

Contractual Risk.

Investment Risk.

It’s all the same.

As one Florida banker put it “Capital doesn’t like to go where there’s risk….it’s not going to Iran, it’s not going to Iraq and it probably won’t go to Cuba for a while because of the risk.”

Ruin

Finally, there’s the ruin.

Structural, economic and social.

All manifested in dilapidated buildings, crumbling mansions and 60 year-old Franken-cars.

I’m talking epic decay.

To this point, many sections of Havana are in such a state of deterioration that my taxi driver refused to go down some streets because there was a real danger that a building would collapse on top of us.

This is particularly true after it rains.

In short, Havana is a Sherwin-Williams’ salesman’s dream.

Imagine an entire city that’s not had a fresh coat of paint in 60 years.

With the paint company’s stock (SHW) down 5.05% to $282.21 today there’s real opportunity in Havana for Sherwin-Williams.

But it will need to wait another 20 years.

I’m serious.

That’s how long I it will take before I’d advise anyone to do business in Cuba in the most optimistic of circumstances.

Just look at China.

I’m still wary of doing business there.

And its been 40 years since Nixon and Mao Zedong embarked on their normalization initiative.

Forty. Years.

13 Reasons You Still Shouldn’t Do Business in Cuba.

The below list is by no means exhaustive. I’ll be elaborating on each of them in the next few weeks.

Embargo will not be lifted for foreseeable future.
No Rule of Law.
Lacks of Independent judiciary.
Abysmal Human Rights Record
Outstanding Property Claims.
No Recognition of Property Rights.
Lack of Infrastructure.
No Skilled Work force.
No Major Industries.
Lack of Natural Resources.
No consumer class.
Mass Migration of Youth
Majority Elderly population.
Conclusion

To be sure, catching opportunities in Cuba is not unlike the experience of Santiago in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

In the story, Santiago struggles for days to catch a giant marlin off the coast of Havana. When he finally catches the giant fish, it is quickly devoured by sharks.

For all his efforts, an exhausted Santiago is left with only a skeletal carcass to take back to his village.

One need only replace the sharks with the Castro regime to see how the current story’s going to end.

Fish bones anyone?

Policymakers should put the brakes on the one-sided rapprochement with Cuba

Excellent article from our friend Jason Poblete (@JasonPoblete on Twitter) at DC Dispatches:

Cuba Smiles, All the Way to the Bank

The President has demonstrated since December 17, 2014 that he is willing, even if it means ignoring the law, to press forward on the U.S.-Cuba question. Congress has been, mostly, missing in action. While the House moved appropriations product this month, most of it, in the unlikely event that it survives in conference, goes into effect in next year. Nothing has been done to stop the administration this year.

If Congressional had moved swiftly in early January to respond to the President’s December 17 proposed policy shift, it could have mounted a successful effort to keep Cuba on the state sponsors of terror list, where it belongs. Yet once that domino fell, without even a credible response, it gave the administration the green light it needed to proceed on several fronts to deconstruct U.S.-Cuba relations as well as the law and regulations that underpin it.

Thanks to US policy, before December 17, 2014 Communist Party hardliners were whistling past the graveyard. Now it has much-needed life support.

Meanwhile the Cuban Communist Party has been very busy racking up successes. In six months, with the assistance of the Obama administration and its legions of K Street lawyers and lobbyists, Cuba (1) was removed from the state sponsors of terrorism list; (2) opened a much-needed U.S. bank account; (3) eased U.S. sanctions in ways not seen since the late 1970s; and, most importantly for Cuban Communist Party leaders, (4) is well on its way to securing diplomatic recognition or, as Raul Castro likes to say, respect, from a long-time political foe.

And yesterday, as expected, Moody’s issued a press release stating that Cuba’s removal from the state sponsors of terror list was “credit positive” and, somewhat inexplicably, rates Cuba Caa2 with a stable outlook. Cuba has also reportedly reached an agreement with the Paris Club on its sovereign debt. The regime is just getting started and when the money and new financing begins to flow (a regional lender has already promised it may lend money), it will virtually guarantee a neo-Communist thugocracy for a few more years. This will make it much more difficult for Cuban resistance leaders to make a difference on the ground and it will afford fugitives from U.S. law, including terrorists, safe haven.

The new U.S.-Cuba reality has afforded the Cuban Communist Party breathing room in Cuba and around the world, especially in the Western Hemisphere. With the state sponsor of terror Scarlett Letter removed, Communist Party leaders have wasted no time making the most of its new found fortune. It was its green light it needed for the neo-communists to consolidate power, scramble to secure investors and financing, crack down on Cuban civil society, and violate human rights with impunity in ways not seen in Cuba in decades. The Russian and Chinese governments also see many new opportunities for mischief in the largest island of the Caribbean.

Contrary to what Cuba’s legions of beltway supporters argue, the mainstay of U.S.-Cuba policy is, as is stated in the law, remains and should be peaceful transition. The sanctions have been extremely effective even if they’ve been enforced half-heartedly by both Republican and Democratic administrations. We have a statutory roadmap in place, with clear benchmarks for Cuba that the President and the Congress are ignoring and, in some cases, using new regulations and attempting to pass new laws that will weaken the existing framework.

What is truly perverse about the last six months is how U.S. interests and values have been forgotten or ignored by the President and the Congress. Americans are owed billions of dollars by the Cuban regime for unlawfully confiscated properties, debt obligations, and recent judgments against Cuban officials for human rights abuses and, yes, murder and torture of Americans. With respect to human rights abuses, we are no longer engaging in the ‘support for the Cuban people’ as the law intended it to be.

Policymakers should put the brakes on the one-sided rapprochement and focus on putting U.S. interests ahead of sound bite politics. And U.S. companies that are allowed to do business in Cuba, should also pitch in by setting new standards of engagement– a voluntary Code of Conduct — that are consistent with U.S. better guarantee worker rights and defend property rights.

Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas to receive Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom

By Elizabeth Llorente at Fox News Latino:

Cuban dissident, hunger strike survivor, to receive Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom

Farinas_Art
A Cuban dissident who has won numerous awards for his longtime efforts – including 23 hunger strikes, some of them near-fatal – to bring democratic changes to his homeland is expected to receive the 2015 Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom on Friday.

Guillermo Fariñas will join the ranks of past recipients such as Pope John Paul II and William F. Buckley, Jr.

Fariñas, who counts among his awards the European Union’s 2010 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, said in a telephone interview from his home in Havana that each honor is important to him because it sparks a renewed urgency to fight for human rights.

“Every distinction is a reflection of support, a new source of pressure to keep pushing for liberty,” he told Fox News Latino. “It’s another source of motivation for me.”

The award is given by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a U.S-based non-profit educational organization that was established by Congress.

Besides Farinas, who will receive the award at a ceremony in Washington D.C., a Medal of Freedom also will be given to Russian journalist Alexandr Podrabinek, according to a press release by the foundation.

“It is our honor and privilege to present this award to Guillermo Fariñas Hernández and Alexandr Podrabinek,” said Marion Smith, Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, in a statement.

“These two men come from different places, but share a tireless devotion to ensuring that future generations will live in a world free from the horrors of communism,” Smith said. “With this award, we honor their courage and their continued commitment to the fight for basic human rights.”

Fariñas has served a total of 11 years in Cuban jails as a political prisoner. He staged hunger strikes while in jail, sometimes imperiling his health.

Podrabinek also was arrested in the former Soviet Union for his political dissidence, and was exiled to Siberia at one point for five years. Today he continues to fight oppression by the government of Vladimir Putin.

Fariñas said that little has changed in Cuba under President Raul Castro, who, with President Barack Obama, is working on restoring diplomatic relations between the longtime adversaries.

“They still try to quash political opposition,” he said. “The change is only really economic, not political. Cuba has lost Venezuela as a lifeline, so in desperation it has turned to the United States, which until now was its sworn enemy.”

Elizabeth Llorente can be reached at elizabeth.llorente@foxnewslatino.com. Follow her on https://twitter.com/Liz_Llorente

Treasury Appropriations Bill Tightens Cuba Sanctions

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Just Released: Treasury Appropriations Bill Tightens Cuba Sanctions

The House Appropriations Committee has just released its FY 2016 Financial Services Appropriations bill.

This bill funds the operations of the Treasury Department, including the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”).

As the bill’s summary highlights, it contains the following prohibitions:

Cuba – A prohibition on travel to Cuba for educational exchanges not involving academic study pursuant to a degree program, a prohibition on the importation of property confiscated by the Cuban Government, and a prohibition on financial transactions with the Cuban military or intelligence service.

In other words, it would effectively terminate “people-to-people” trips, which have been a guise for illegal tourism transactions; prohibit all transactions with entities owned or operated by the Cuban military and security services; and prohibit the importation of stolen property by travelers, namely confiscated rum and cigar products.

This is the fourth must-pass Appropriations bill with Cuba limitations.

Also, the Commerce, Justice Appropriations bill contains a provision (supported by a vote of 273-153) ensuring that none of the exports authorized under the Obama Administration’s new “Support for the Cuban People” category (under Commerce Department regulations) can be funneled through entities owned or controlled by the Castro regime’s military or security services.

The Transportation Appropriations bill contains language (supported by a vote of 247-176) prohibiting the use of confiscated property for new travel — by airplane or vessels — to Cuba.

And the State Department, Foreign Operations bill contains key provisions that prohibit funds for an embassy or other diplomatic facility in Cuba, beyond what was in existence prior to the President’s December announcement proposing changes to the U.S.-Cuba policy. It also restricts funds to facilitate the opening of a Cuban embassy in the U.S., increases democracy assistance and international broadcasting to Cuba, and provides direction to the Secretary of State on denying the issuance of visas to members of the Cuban military and the Communist party.

Stella McCartney’s mass-murdering dictator themed party

Apparently having peaceful “All You Need is Love” pot smoking, animal loving vegetarian parents doesn’t impart compassion for the victims of mass-murdering communist dictators.

Stella McCartney’s oh so chic Cuba themed garden party via Fashionista:

STELLA MCCARTNEY BROUGHT CUBA TO NOLITA FOR HER RESORT PRESENTATION

We took a mini Caribbean holiday with Alexa Chung, Cara Delevingne and lots of pretty dresses.

While many designers decided to transport editors and buyers to exotic locales for their resort shows this season — Dior to Cannes, Louis Vuitton to Palm Springs, Chanel to Korea and Gucci to New York (from Europe) — Stella McCartney, who shows her pre-collections in New York every year, managed to bring the feel and flavor of Cuba to Nolita for one night only. On Monday night, a garden on Elizabeth Street was transformed into a lively, Cuban-themed fiesta, complete with street performers on stilts, rum cocktails and cigars passed on trays, Che Guevara lookalikes playing dominos as models looked on, and a live band with salsa dancers on hand to set the groove.

Under trees lined with streamers, models twirled in colorful, voluminous gowns with ruffled hems — looks that were practically made for a Caribbean holiday. Elsewhere, spring-ready looks adorned with wildflowers, broderie anglais and a wild horse print were on display, ranging from airy, feminine dresses to more structured, menswear-inspired separates. The accessories for the season were as lively as the party itself, with shoes inspired by dancing slippers, jazzy jewelry with a musical note motif and plexiglass embellishments that made for a fun, pop-art effect.

McCartney’s festive oasis was only a few short blocks from our office, but it felt like we were treated to a mini summer vacation, accompanied by models shimmying with maracas and guests like Alexa Chung, Cara Delevingne, Liv Tyler, Miranda Kerr all taking advantage of the tropical bar and snow cone stand.

MTMwNzczMDcwMDA3ODAyMzM0

Reports from Cuba: The Caravan Of Terror Expands Its Impunity

By Agustin Lopez in Translating Cuba:

The Caravan Of Terror Expands Its Impunity

2-104_0402

Dekaisone, Agustin Lopez, Havana, 8 June 2015 – It is 8:30 in the morning on Sunday, 7 June. I am at my sister’s house and go down to the street with the intention of buying bread for breakfast. A People’s Revolutionary Police (PNR) patrol car with two uniformed police officers and a henchman from Castro’s Gestapo, are waiting for me a few yards from the exit and don’t allow me to realize the action. During the previous days I had been warned to stop attending Sundays at Gandhi Park.

I engage in a conversation with the dictatorship’s assassin, who after using various dirty and perverse methods of persuasion to keep me from attending Mass at Santa Rita Church, including subtle threats, orders me to accompany him. I am put into the patrol car under the express orders of senior commanders and after riding around various places on the outskirts of Havana I am abandoned on a central highway some 12 miles from the city with threats not to go to Santa Rita next Sunday.

Because the Ladies in White movement has continued to mark the difference between a fair and dignified act of justice and some degrading relations between the governments of Cuba and the United States, giving in to the dictatorial wishes of the Castro government. The tyranny of Raul Castro has done everything possible to break up the movement, using against its members and other people who support them or show up at the place all possible methods of repression: blackmail, bribery, subtle direct and indirect threats, slander, attempts to smear and defame, perverse acts of repudiation by mobs lacking the slightest thread of of dignity, and psychological tortures.

Having failed and seeing for themselves the impossibility of silencing their voices, since 17 December 2014 when Obama announced the reestablishment of relations between the dictatorship and the United States government, without conditions relating to human rights, they have intensified the violence and direct torture of their physical bodies as an last resort.

Every Sunday after being violently arrested all the peaceful people of both sexes who gather in the place, are led harshly handcuffed to prisons where they are held with the handcuffs tightened for several hours. Now, for many, has been added arrest on leaving their homes and threats to be abandoned in places far from the city.

A few of us independent journalists who dare to go to this place, after being arrested the images that we take with our phones are erased with the intention that people won’t know about it and it will not get out to other countries.

3-104_0403

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21st Century Socialism image of the day

Via the Twitter account of Mario Vargas Llosa:


Translation: This image is not of the past century, nor of Cuba or the former Soviet Union. It is of Venezuela in search of food.

Antonio Rodiles letter to Federica Mogherini

Ms. Mogherini, the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy visited Cuba this past March.

Via Civil Rights Defenders:

The EU Must Speak Out Against Repression of Freedom of Assembly in Cuba

In a letter to Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy dated the 09th June 2015, Civil Rights Defenders and our partner The Forum for Rights and Freedoms urgently call on the EU and its member states to act immediately against the dangers currently faced by Cuban human rights defenders when exercising their basic freedoms.

Beatings, physical abuse and various types of torture have become an every day reality. The number of arbitrary detentions in May 2015 was the highest since July of last year.

The letter:

To: Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Date: 2015 06 09

The EU Must Speak Out Against Repression of Freedom of Assembly in Cuba

The repression against the Ladies in White, independent journalists, opposition activists and human rights defenders in Cuba, which we have seen taking place on a nationwide basis over the last nine weeks, is alarming. The increase in violence by the authorities has arisen as a result of people exercising their rights to public protest and from the public exposure of political prisoners. (See the attached denounciations to the Fiscalía General de la República)

Beatings, physical abuse and various types of torture have become an every day reality. The number of arbitrary detentions in May was the highest since July of last year. The current actions of the Cuban government can be attributed to the silence of the international community who refuse to condemn these violations.

The Forum for Rights and Freedoms and Civil Rights Defenders are writing to you and sending a stark warning regarding the deteriorating situation for human rights defenders in Cuba. We note with great concern the indifference of the international community, especially the European Union. The EU is in the final phase of concluding a broad agreement with the Cuban government, without any steps being made to improve even a single human right.

In accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – for which Cuba is a signatory – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – which the government of Raul Castro has signed but not yet ratified – and, as Maina Kiai, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, has recently explained clearly in his final report; states shall ensure the full exercise of freedom of assembly, association and peaceful demonstration.

The Forum for Rights and Freedoms and Civil Rights Defenders urgently call on the EU and its member states to act now against the dangers currently faced by Cuban human rights defenders when exercising these basic freedoms. The EU and its member states claim so often that they are utilising their bilateral relations to push the agenda when it comes to respecting human rights. This has clearly not worked and it is now time they speak out publicly against the consistent violations of human rights in Cuba.

Yours sincerely

Antonio G. Rodiles, Coordinating Committee, Forum for Rights and Freedoms, Havana

Erik Jennische, Programme Director for Latin America, Civil Rights Defenders, Stockholm

Read more, including attachments in Spanish, HERE.