“Freedom of information is extremely limited in Cuba, which is ranked lower in the index than any other country in the Americas. The government tolerates no independent press. Internet access is restricted and tightly controlled. The authorities continue to cite the US embargo as the reason for the low Internet penetration but the activation of Cuba’s ALBA-1 fibre-optic cable with Venezuela proves that it has more to do with a political desire to control the Internet. In addition to the lack of media pluralism, outspoken journalists and bloggers are still subjected to threats, smears, arrest and arbitrary detention. Does the announcement by Cuba and the United States of an historic agreement to restore diplomatic relations offer a ray of hope for Cuban journalists?”
Sometimes I wish I lived in the country they show on television. This hopeful nation of rose-colored dreams presented by the official press. A place of props and slogans, where factory production exceeds goals and employees are declared “workplace heroes.” In this Cuba, bouncing off the antennas to reach our small screens, there is no room for sickness, pain, frustration or impatience.
The official Cuban press has tried to approach the country’s reality in recent years. Several young faces appear on TV programs to report on administrative negligence, poor services or consumer complaints about bureaucratic paperwork. But even still, state journalism continues to be a long way from objectivity and respect for the truth.
Television, radio and newspapers are maintained under strict monopoly of the Communist Party, and not only because they are ideologically subordinated, but also because they are financed from the state coffers — money that belongs to all Cubans — money that they use to sustain a biased editorial line that does not reflect the national complexity.
The topics covered by the journalists of this partisan press represent the interests of an ideology and a group in power, not of the entire country. They never dare, for example, in their reporting, to question the authorities, nor the current political system, nor the organs of State Security nor the activities of the police, among other taboo subjects.
However, where the official press most betrays the precepts of balance and impartial information is in the testimonies they broadcast, in the voices they give space to and the opinions they express. By the grace of journalistic censorship, access to the microphone is granted only to those who agree with the government and applaud the actions of its leaders.
They never interview someone with a different opinion, or someone who believes the country should take other political or economic paths. Unanimity continues to fill the front pages and the news broadcasts, although for a long time now loud dissent has been heard on buses, in stores, in the hallways of institutions and even in classrooms.
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 2 February 2016 — She is not wearing a uniform, she is not carrying a bag with snacks, nor does she have a kerchief tied around her neck. However, at nine years of age, Malena is on her way to school, a learning center for the children of diplomats where she has been able to register with her parents’ economic means and a Spanish passport – a legacy from her grandmother.
Cuban education is no longer the same for everyone. There are classrooms where students enjoy unlimited internet connection, air conditioning and new furniture. In the dining halls, the menu is varied, vegetables are plenty and it is common to hear a child talk about how he or she spent the weekend at the exclusive Cayo Coco resort or that his or her dad got a new truck.
Founded more than forty years ago, the Havana International School was originally designed for the children of ambassadors and consular personnel. In the 1990s, the children of foreigners working for joint venture firms arrived, but as of a few years back Cubans who can afford the high tuition fees and show a foreign passport have appeared.
As opposed to public schools where material resources are scarce and the deficit of teachers increases, the International School on 18th Street in Havana’s exclusive Miramar neighborhood, has a library, a multimedia center and a playground. The waiting list of those interested in working at this attractive place would be enough to fill all the empty positions in primary and secondary classrooms throughout the country.
To register a child in the International School or the Spanish Education Center of Havana, near the Aquarium in Miramar and founded in 1986, you must show documents that confirm you are a foreigner. A condition that up to a few years ago was exclusive to the children of diplomats, but that now is shared by the offspring of returned émigrés and those naturalized as Spaniards through the Spain’s Grandchildren Law, like Malena.
Registration requires showing the student’s previous test results and a willingness to pay the tuition. A year in the first few grades of elementary education can cost between $4,000 and $10,450, from kindergarten to fifth grade.
Despite the high fees, there are Cubans who can afford this amount to avoid sending their kids to public school. Among them are those who, after living long years abroad, refuse to accept the ideologized Cuban education. “Our girl was born in Madrid and is not used to any of those things you see in schools here,” the mother of a teenager who attends secondary school at the so-called “Spanish little school” told this newspaper. Married to a renowned artist, and after a more than a decade living in Salamanca, they now juggle to pay the school’s tuition.
Some musings on the upcoming Tropical Tarmac Synod in Havana, at which Pope Che and Patriarch Kirill will meet to discuss Catholic/Orthodox relations.
This “historic” meeting is so weird and so shrouded in mystery that it’s impossible to address all of the questions it raises.
For instance: did Kirill really insist on meeting at the airport in Havana and nowhere else? Why Havana? Why the airport? Are they both in such a hurry? One would think that solving a 1,000-year-old schism would require more than a quickly meet-an’-greet at a seedy airport owned and run by an atheist mass-murdering tyrant.
The oddest aspect of this choice of locations is the fact that both religious leaders are visiting Latrine America at the same time, and could have easily picked some other tropical location.
And why are both religious leaders visiting Latrine America at exactly the same time? (Pope Che goes from Havana to Mexico; Patriarch Kirill goes from Havana to a number of Latrine nations).
What does Czar Vladimir Putin have to do with this “historic” Tarmac Synod? Does the fact that Ukraine is largely Catholic have anything to do with these reconciliation talks?
What does Castrogonia’s status as a former Russian colony have to do with this meeting?
Will the Castro brothers be involved in any way? Will Cardinal Jaime Ortega bring the wine, cheese, and crackers out to the airport?
And so on….. But, on another front: what does Patriarch Kirill really want from Pope Che? Or, more to the point, what does Czar Vladimir want from Pope Che?
As it turns out — surprise! — Patriarch Kirill’s close relationship with Czar Vladimir resembles the love affair between King Raul Castro and Cardinal Jaime Ortega.
And — another surprise! — Patriarch Kirill’s friendship with Czar Vladimir has provided the head of the Russian Orthodox Church with many, many special perks.
If you would like to familiarize yourself with Patriarch Kirill in advance of the Tropical Tarmac Synod, read the article below.
Fom Mashable (abridged):
Humble Pope Francis to meet scandalous Russian Orthodox Church leader in Cuba
One is recognized as a humble leader who cares for the poor and has kissed the feet of peasants.
The other has been plagued by scandal and become an object of ridicule because of his luxurious lifestyle, which includes an apparent penchant for pricey ski vacations in Switzerland.
Both are religious leaders.
Next Friday, Feb. 12, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill I, the head of the powerful Russian Orthodox Church, will hold a historic meeting in Cuba, church officials from both sides said Friday…
…Kirill is a staunch supporter of President Vladimir Putin and his conservative policies. He once famously called the Russian head of state a “miracle from God” and he has come out in support of Moscow’s military campaign in Syria which he called a “holy war.”
That support has allowed the Russian Orthodox Church to grow exceptionally powerful over the past decade…
… The Russian public was outraged when he was seen wearing a $30,000 watch in a photograph published in 2012. In a failed attempt to hide the timepiece, the Russian Orthodox Church photoshopped it from his wrist, but overlooked its reflection in the shiny table surface below. Embarrassingly, they restored the original photo after being caught by bloggers.
Kirill is also rumored to own a pricey country mansion and a massive yacht. Photographers captured him boarding the vessel last year…
… The Kirill-Francis meeting was years in the works and marks a major development in the Vatican’s long effort to bridge the divisions in Christianity.
Francis will fly to Cuba before continuing to Mexico for a six-day tour of the country. Kirill will arrive on Thursday in Havana to start an 11-day tour of South America.
Francis said last November that he had told Kirill: “I’ll go wherever you want. You call me and I’ll go.”
Facts Prove Obama’s Cuba Policy Counter-Productive
President Obama announced a new Cuba policy on Dec. 17, 2014. It gave diplomatic recognition to the sole remaining dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere, unilaterally eased U.S. trade and travel restrictions, and commuted the prison sentences of three convicted Cuban spies, including one imprisoned for plotting the murder of three Americans shot-down by Cuban MIGs while flying over the Florida Straits.
When Obama announced his new policy, describing it as “what change looks like,” few believed that the “change” would be for the worse. Yet the policy has clearly proven to be counter-productive. Set aside the policy theories and debates. Instead, look simply at the irrefutable facts since the announcement:
•Political arrests have intensified. Throughout 2015, there were more than 8,616 documented political arrests in Cuba. In November alone there were more than 1,447 documented political arrests, the highest monthly tally in decades. Those numbers compare to 2,074 arrests in 2010 and 4,123 in 2011.
•A new Cuban migration is unfolding. The United States is faced with the largest migration of Cuban immigrants since the rafters of 1994. The number of Cubans entering the United States in 2015 was nearly twice that of 2014. Some 51,000 Cubans last year entered the United States; tens of thousands more are desperately trying to make the journey, via Ecuador and other South and Central American countries. When President Obama took office, the numbers were less than 7,000 annually.
•The number of “self-employed” workers in Cuba has decreased. The Cuban government today is licensing 10,000 fewer “self-employed” workers than it did in 2014. In contrast, Castro’s military monopolies are expanding at record pace. The Cuban military-owned tourism company, Gaviota S.A., announced 12 percent growth in 2015 and expects to double its hotel business this year. Even the limited spaces in which cuentapropistas previously operated are being squeezed as the Cuban military expands its control of the island’s travel, retail and financial sectors of the economy.
•Internet “connectivity ranking” has dropped. The International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Measuring the Information Society Report for 2015, the world’s most reliable source of data and analysis on global access to information and communication. ITU has dropped Cuba’s ranking to 129 from 119. The island fares much worse than some of the world’s most infamous suppressors of the Internet suppressors, including Zimbabwe (127), Syria (117), Iran (91), China (82) and Venezuela (72).
Castro Mocks the American Outreach
by Elliott Abrams
The efforts of the Obama administration to ‘normalize’ relations with Cuba have been mocked this past week.
The U.S. Southern Command holds an annual regional security conference. For decades one of its main purposes was to protect the region against Cuba, but this time the Obama administration made sure that Cuba was invited to attend. The conference was held at the very end of January.
What did the Cubans do? They sent as their representative a man who spied against the United States and was thrown out of our country. He is Gustavo Machin Gomez, a Cuban spy declared persona non grata in 2002. Now this man was accepted by us to sit with American military officers as a fit person with whom to discuss regional security.
There’s one other thing to consider as one thinks about this invitation. Cuba still holds the Hellfire missile that somehow was sent there, and the regime will not give it back to the United States. The Wall Street Journal has reported that “for more than a year, amid a historic thawing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, American authorities have tried to get the Cuban government to return the missile….”
Presumably, Cuba is happily sharing what the Journal called “this sensitive military technology” with Russia and other regime allies. The return of the missile was, amazingly enough, not made a condition of ‘normalization’ by the Obama administration in its negotiations with Cuba. And now we see that its return was not even made a condition of inviting Cuba to participate in a regional security conference.
They keep the missile, they send a man thrown out of the United States for spying to our regional security conference, and the Obama administration appears to think all is just swell with the new opening to Cuba. Castro must be wondering if he’s dreaming.
But here’s the nightmare. It seems clear that President Obama wants to cap off his years in office with a visit to Cuba, where he can meet the great Fidel Castro and do some wonderful photo ops. So throughout 2016, we can expect this kowtowing to the Castro regime to continue, and we can expect to see more and more displays of regime contempt for the United States. And meanwhile, the arrests and the beatings of Cubans struggling for democracy and human rights continue, and increase- and they have increased since Mr. Obama signed his deal with the Castro brothers. The price for Mr. Obama’s photo ops would be paid by Cubans struggling for freedom. And that would be an immoral bargain.
Since securing the backing and support of the U.S. government, Cuba’s notoriously repressive and murderous apartheid dictatorship has been on a rampage. President Obama’s decision to embrace the Castro regime in December of 2014 has unleashed a wave of violent repression on Cuba’s human rights and pro-democracy activists. Just last month, there were 1,414 violent political arrests in Cuba, a number surpassed only by the 1,447 violent political arrests that took place two months earlier in November of 2015.
These record-setting political arrests have all taken place during the supposed “thaw” in relations between Cuba’s apartheid dictatorship and the U.S. Apparently, this is the Hope and Change that president Obama promised the Cuban people.
While visiting Cuba last year Bernie Sanders’ slipped off his (figurative) jeans, sandals and Che Guevara T-Shirt–and slipped into an Armani suit and Rolex:
“American businesses are losing billions of dollars because of the economic embargo (of Cuba.) Meanwhile, Canadians and Europeans are creating jobs through their investments in Cuba.” (Bernie Sanders on a visit to Cuba in 2014.)
Above Bernie Sanders echoes the oft-chanted lament of his (supposed) enemies the Wall Street Journal and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
On left: In 1996 The Wall Street Journal throws a star-studded luncheon in honor of Fidel Castro, a Stalinist dictator who abolished private property. On right: Thomas Donahue President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on one of his frequent visits to Cuba chumming it up with the Stalinist dictator who burglarized and murdered U.S. businessmen.
We’re all familiar with the caricature of villainous U.S. business barons as described by leftists–as described (especially!) by the likes of Bernie Sanders and his followers. To wit: a heartless, cigar-chomping Yankee businessmen in cahoots with a sleazy, swarthy, mustachioed banana-republic dictator whose bejeweled wife and daughters own ten thousand pair of shoes –these greedy billionaire sleazebags exploiting and brutalizing third-world peasants in the name of obscene corporate profits and the latest model Mercedez Benz…
You see, amigos: when a foreign businessman sets up shop in the Castro Family Fiefdom the “employees” (slaves) are chosen and assigned to him by the Cuban regime. The foreign businessman then pays the wages –not to the employees—but to the Castro regime, which sets their wages and dictates the payment schedule. The Stalinist regime then dribbles about .8% of the total to the employees (slaves), pocketing the rest. As dreadful as they make life for their subjects, the Red Chinese and Red Vietnamese regimes dictate nothing of the sort when hosting western companies as business partners.
“I’m outta here, Congressman! Come on…I’ll buy ya a beer….”
Built on a piece of land that is more than 17,000 square feet and donated by the Brazilian government when it was led by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the space is considered large in comparison to other diplomatic missions. Topped with a golden dome, the building resembles the famous mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas laid the cornerstone for the building in 2011.
Lula donated a strategic location in his own country’s capital: There’s a security component,
The inauguration of the embassy comes as Brazil and Israel tussle over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nominee to fill the vacant Israeli envoy position.
The closeness of the new embassy to major Brazilian governmental buildings, including the Planalto Palace, Congress, Supreme Court and ministries, has been widely criticized due to security concerns.
“Diplomats and their vehicles cannot be checked. The embassy is a sovereign Hamas area now,” an unnamed military source told Brazil’s Veja magazine in an article published last year. “The site is strategic. Terrorists could access the whole governmental structure in a half an hour.”
For decades the Brazilian government has ignored Hezbollah’s activities in the Tr-Border Area. Now Hamas and the PA have a strategically-important spot in the middle of Brasilia.
In 2016, the United States has the opportunity to advance key US interests in the Americas—eclipsing the failed and fading legacy of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, filling the void that China’s receding demand created, and backing a trend toward accountable policies. Predictably, President Barack Obama’s outreach to the Raúl Castro regime in Cuba has failed to produce the results that he hoped would leave a lasting legacy. However, he has one final year to make a meaningful contribution to democracy, the rule of law, and free-market economics in the Americas as a whole.
For nearly two decades, several countries have succumbed to a mix of authoritarian populism, statist economic policies, and unsustainable social spending—giving government such an overbearing role in national economies that it spurred corruption and undermined democracy. Regrettably, in the last decade, the United States failed to advance any alternatives to big-government strategies.
Meanwhile, regional antidrug cooperation that willing Andean neighbors forged with the United States 25 years ago has virtually disintegrated today. At first, leftist regimes in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela defied this US-led agenda. Eventually, several became complicit with narcocorruption—with little or no pushback from US policymakers. Now, Colombia’s government is gutting key antidrug policies in its rush to make peace with narcoguerrillas, but US diplomats have failed to counsel against making peace at any price. Transnational organized crime destabilizes a half-dozen countries, but the Obama administration plans to throw US tax dollars at the symptoms in Central America while neglecting the narcostate in Venezuela.
In a number of countries in recent months, elections and opinion polls suggest that people are seeking alternatives to statist formulas that have produced political repression, economic recession, or both. President Obama has the opportunity to salvage the final year of his mandate by empowering his diplomatic and economic team to demonstrate US leadership in key areas:
Show that the United States cares about its neighbors. Energize outreach to like-minded governments, civil society, and the private sector, and speak out on a host of practical and pressing issues—including fighting corruption in Central America, promoting political accountability and practical economic solutions in Haiti, and rallying solidarity with the region’s democrats, beginning in Venezuela and Cuba.
Lead with free-market solutions. The secretary of the treasury should form a regional working group of finance ministers to develop a prosperity agenda for aggregating and channeling private capital and international assistance to private-sector entrepreneurs, liberalizing internal markets, modernizing infrastructure, maximizing energy production, and tapping the benefits of international trade.
Help rescue Venezuela and support the new democratic majority. Call for an urgent meeting of foreign ministers at the Organization of American States under the Inter-American Democratic Charter to respond to the Nicolás Maduro regime’s attempts to deny the democratic opposition the National Assembly supermajority it won on December 6.
Put narcotraffickers and other transnational criminals on the defensive. Use executive authorities to sanction individuals (denying access to the US financial system and freezing assets) who play a disproportionate role in undermining democracy and the rule of law.
Promote principled peace in Colombia. Encourage the Colombian government to negotiate a tough, enforceable agreement with the guerrillas, such as Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC); fortify the agreement with a constitutional referendum; and restore effective extradition and coca-eradication programs if the FARC fails to cease drug-related crimes.
Support the right of the Cuban people to choose their own future. Reprioritize their human rights, democracy, and economic liberty in compliance with the bipartisan Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996. Challenge the Castro regime for meddling in Venezuelan affairs.
Filling the Vacuum of Responsible Leadership
President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry clearly come from a school of thought that sees Latin America and the Caribbean as a bundle of grievances against US interference. When, in November 2013 at the Organization of American States (OAS), Kerry declared, “The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over,” he might have admitted that the Obama administration’s policy is to leave the Americas alone, literally. Dutiful career US diplomats have fashioned a policy of benign reticence—self-conscious silence as leftist caudillos (strongmen) dismantled democratic institutions, muzzled independent media, and jailed political opponents; as unsustainable social programs and corruption smothered burgeoning economies; and as China muscled its way into a natural US market with mercantile tactics and predatory loans.
Minding these matters is the United States’ business.
It is a fallacy that Latin America regards any sort of engagement by Washington as unhealthy intervention. The truth is the United States can work with like-minded democrats to reenergize the Inter-American Democratic Charter—starting with reviewing the conditions of democracy, human rights, and the separation of powers in Venezuela. Luis Almagro, the new OAS secretary general, deserves the strong backing of the United States and other democratic governments, so the OAS can reassert its role in detecting and responding to threats to democracy and human rights.
There is dramatic evidence that people in many countries need and welcome their neighbors’ renewed solidarity. In Guatemala, a political neophyte, Jimmy Morales, was elected president in October with two-thirds of the popular vote. His election came after months of peaceful popular protests, which forced President Otto Pérez Molina (and his vice president) to resign in the face of corruption charges uncovered by a prosecutor backed up by a UN-sanctioned (and US-backed) international investigative team. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has turned to the OAS for similar international assistance to ferret out corruption.
In Haiti, the United States and the international community cannot merely provide aid while ignoring the feudal economic system, nor should they pay for periodic elections and then neglect political dysfunction. Once the current electoral impasse is resolved, the United States and other donors must press Haiti’s new president and parliament to govern responsibly and eliminate the culture of cronyism and corruption. Haitian leaders, in government and business, should be challenged to take practical steps to modernize the economy from the bottom up, emphasizing private initiatives that create decent jobs and give people a stake in the future. This requires transparent policies that encourage domestic and international investment. As Haitians begin to identify responsible government with greater prosperity, their leaders can pursue the long-term goal of reforming the country’s political institutions to make them more accountable and relevant.
Poverty and insecurity in some Latin American and Caribbean countries are primarily caused by a lack of strong, accountable institutions that can foster economic development and provide for public security. For these valid reasons, the United States has been active for 80 years in promoting democracy and the rule of law in the Americas. In numerous countries in recent years—including Guatemala, Haiti, Argentina, and Brazil—people demonstrated their faith in these democratic solutions to the toughest problems. In each case, legislatures, courts, independent media, civil society, the rule of law, or free and fair elections have played indispensable, positive roles.
US foreign policy cannot be timid when these values and institutions are tested. Although some in the region complain about the appearance of US meddling, many have come to expect US solidarity with its neighbors in defense of shared principles.
Silent prayer might do it. The prayer of quiet, in which one utters no words but simply opens oneself to the divine.
Unfortunately, only advanced mystics — holy people — get to that level. The prayer of quiet is a rare gift, normally unavailable to unholy slugs.
I don’t know what to say, really. A snowstorm allowed me to stay home and sleep late today, and I woke up to this piece of news.
To be honest, I’m feeling a lot like I did fourteen months ago when I cracked my skull in three places. Can’t think straight.
All that my brain can come up with is a disturbing image, a photo of King Raul and King Emeritus Fidel being embraced by a Pope and a Patriarch.
All efforts to reunite the Catholic and Orthodox churches have failed in the past, and the places where attempts were made are remembered as sad, sad locations.
So, why not hold such a historic meeting in Hell, the saddest place of all?
This is nearly apocalyptic. Maybe, maybe, maybe…. this is God’s way of punishing Cubans further….or of performing some astounding miracle…. it’s way too strange.
Punishment seems much more likely than some miracle. Has any other atheist mass-murdering tyrant in human history received such attention from The Vicar of Christ and other church leaders?
Holy ordure. This is beyond comprehension.
Punishment must be the reason. Purgation. Cleansing. Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
From The Washington Post
Pope and Russian Orthodox leader to hold historic encounter in Cuba
MOSCOW — Pope Francis and the leader of the powerful Russian Orthodox Church plan a historic meeting next week in Cuba, officials said Friday, marking the most significant steps ever attempted to heal a schism that has divided Christianity between East and West for nearly 1,000 years.
The meeting — the first between a pope and Russian patriarch — would culminate decades of overtures for closer dialogue. The churches have been formally estranged since the 11th century over issues such as papal authority and, more recently, by disputes over Roman Catholic reach into traditionally Orthodox regions.
The planned encounter next Friday between Francis and Patriarch Kirill I at Havana’s airport also highlights apparent moves toward greater solidarity amid current worries. Among them: pressures facing ancient Christian communities in the Middle East from militant groups such as the Islamic State.
Even the venue carries significance. Cuba, which once suppressed the Roman Catholic church as a Soviet client state, was picked because the legacy of Christian rifts remains too vivid in Europe, a Russian church official said.
A full reconciliation would require major changes on both sides, but warmer ties sanctioned by the highest authorities would represent one of the biggest modern shifts in the world’s religious landscape.
The Russian Church is by far the largest and most influential in the Orthodox world, which is a patchwork of various churches and patriarchs.
At the planned meeting — scheduled for José Martí International Airport — the two leaders are expected to sign a joint declaration. The details, however, were not immediately disclosed.
Francis will fly to Cuba before traveling on to Mexico for a six-day tour of the country.
Patriarch Kirill is scheduled to arrive next Thursday in Havana for an 11-day tour of South America, which will also include stops in Paraguay, Chile, and Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in Brazil….
….Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, a senior Russian church leader, told reporters that the patriarch did not want to meet the pope in Europe because of its links “to the sad history of the division and conflicts between Christians.”
But the patriarch agreed to Cuba, he continued, because of conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere where “an authentic genocide of the Christian population by extremists requires immediate measures and closer cooperation between the Christian churches.”
People In Need Award Goes To Former Cuban Prisoners Of The Black Spring
Martha Beatriz Roque believes that work to defend human rights “is becoming more difficult for the internal opposition,” in Cuba. (14ymedio)
The Czech organization People in Need has given its Homo Homini Award for this year to the 11 former prisoners of the 2003 Black Spring who continue to live in Cuba, as confirmed to this newspaper by several of the laureates. The entity, focused on the defense of human rights, has recognized the work of those who have continued to exercise their peaceful activist for decades, despite the rigors of prison and political repression.
Last year the award celebrated two decades since its founding. The award is intended to honor individuals for their “dedication to the promotion of human rights, democracy and non-violent solutions to political conflicts.”
Among the honorees with distinction, is Cuban opposition member Felix Navarro who told 14ymedio that he was “very pleasantly surprised with the news” and dedicated the honor to all those who struggle “peacefully inside Cuba to produce the changes that will make Cubans free.” The activist went on to ask whether the Cuban government will allow the winners to travel to receive the award, given the travel restrictions they have endured since their release from prison.
The only woman in the so-called Group of 75, Martha Beatriz Roque, welcomed the recognition for her work “within the country to defend the cause of human rights.” The activist points out that this task “is becoming ever more difficult for the internal opposition” and agrees that it is likely that none of the 11 will be allowed to leave the country, so that “there will be an empty chair, with everything that’s going to mean.”
“Moral and political backing and support,” is how the dissident Angel Moya described the Homo Homini Award, adding that this is a recognition that extends “to all those within Cuba struggling to establish the rule of law”.
For the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, Jose Daniel Ferrer, this is a good time to remember that “the first Cuban to receive it was Oswaldo Paya Sardinas in 1999.” At the time, Ferrer was an activist in the Christian Liberation Movement, who spread ” the news throughout the eastern part of the country.” He added, referring to Payá’s death, “It is now up to us and this award makes us very happy.”
Among the winners from previous years, as well as Oswaldo Paya, are Sapiyat Magomedova (Russia, 2013), Intigam Aliyev (Azerbaijan, 2012), Azimžan Askarov (Kyrgyzstan, 2010), Liu Xiaobo (China, 2008), Su Su Nway, Phyu Phyu Thin and Nilar Thein (Myanmar, 2007), Ales Bialiatski (Belarus, 2005) and Sergej Kovaljov (Russia, 1994), among others.
The NGO People in Need was founded in 1992 and is defined as a non-profit organization ” based on the ideas of humanism, freedom, equality and solidarity.” It has employees and volunteers both in the Czech Republic and in a dozen countries seeking to “provide assistance in regions of conflict and support the commitment to human rights throughout the world.”