Si dejo de publicar en Twitter hoy, es que fui arrestada arbitrariamente por los agentes de esta tiranía cubana que ningún cubano eligió.
— Rosa María Payá A. (@RosaMariaPaya) January 21, 2017
Cuba’s ForoDyL (Forum for Rights and Liberty) is reporting on their Facebook page that imprisoned dissident artist, Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado has finally been released from prison.
Karina Gálvez: “I Knew a Lot of People Were Watching Over Me”
When she got home, she kissed her mother and took a long, intense shower, like the one she dreamed during the six days she was detained. Karina Galvez let the water run to take away her weariness and the hopelessness that the imprisonment had caused her. Outside her home, neighbors welcomed her with hugs on Tuesday, after she was released on a 2,000 Cuban peso bond, still facing charges of alleged tax evasion, linked to the purchase of a home.
During his first hours out of the cell, Galvez knew that the Cuba he had left a week before had changed. She learned, only then, of the end of the United States’ Wet Foot/Dry Foot policy and she knew that the international solidarity around him had been much greater than she could have imagined. Surrounded by her friends and trying to recover every missing minute, the economist answered some questions for 14ymedio via telephone.
Yoani Sanchez: What is your current legal situation? Is there a date for a hearing?
Karina Gálvez: They haven’t told me a date for the trial. The only thing I have is the document known as the “auto” that describes the case, so I can name a lawyer.
Yoani Sanchez: What were the main emotional supports you had in your days of confinement?
Karina Gálvez: I confess I had moments when I felt emotionally broken. I had never slept in a cell before. The anguish of being unaware of what was happening outside, of being cut off, was quite strong.
At one point I asked God to give me a sign that he was there with me and a few minutes later Major Odalys came in and brought me a bible that my sister had brought me. I was very shocked by that moment.
It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced, although I felt sure of solidarity. I knew a lot of people were watching over me and that my family was not alone.
Yoani Sanchez: And on leaving did you confirm that impression?
Karina Gálvez: I fell a little short in my calculations… last night when I left I found out that the solidarity had been immense. Support has gone beyond friends. I have to thank all those who supported me and tell them that all the energy of knowing that people were with me helped me a lot in there.
Victims of Communism — a human rights organization routinely ignored by the news media — has called on President Donald Trump to press for the immediate release of five prominent dissidents, including El Sexto.
VOC has posted its appeal to Trump on their website.
Linking El Sexto to the other four dissidents — some of whom have received much more attention, including one who is a Nobel laureate — could increase his visibility at the White House.
Since the news media prefers to pretend that VOC is invisible and inconsequential, one can’r really hope that this plea will affect public opinion.
Let’s see if anything happens.
As Donald J. Trump is inaugurated President of the United States and begins his first day in office, we have a message for him. This message comes not just from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, but from harassed dissidents, persecuted activists, and prisoners of conscience across the world: Mr. President, please defend human rights in the face of communist oppression.
Read about these five dissidents who exemplify this struggle for freedom and liberty.
Danilo Maldonado Machado, also known as El Sexto, is famous throughout the world for his provocative art and acerbic commentary on Cuba’s communist dictatorship. He was seized by Cuban security forces in the wake of Fidel Castro’s death in November for spraypainting “He Is Gone” on a wall.
Liu Xiaobo is a renowned Chinese professor, activist, social critic, and dissident. He was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in absentia for his work.
Otto Warmbier is an American citizen now languishing in a North Korean labor camp.
Father Nguy?n V?n Lý is a Vietnamese Roman Catholic priest and advocate for religious freedom in communist Vietnam.
Sombath Somphone is a community development worker and civil society leader in Laos.
Please help us amplify the messages of these oppressed dissidents and join us in calling on the new administration to protect activists and the freedoms for which they fight.
Read the entire plea HERE.
Here’s Why Rosa María Payá Is Risking Her Life
If your father was murdered by a totalitarian regime, would you go back to the place of the crime? That’s what Rosa María Payá is doing. Payá is a young Cuban democracy and human rights activist. Her father, Oswaldo Payá, the head of the Christian Liberation Movement and founder of the Varela Project, which sought to gather support for democratic transition in Cuba, died in 2012 under mysterious circumstances. Rosa María took up his work. In 2013 she denounced the Cuban government before the United Nations, contradicting the official account of her father’s “accidental” death and calling for an independent investigation into what she believed was a deliberate murder. She returned to Cuba briefly and spoke at the UN again later that year.
In 2015, Payá launched a citizens’ initiative called Cuba Decide (Cuba Decides), calling for a binding plebiscite to start the process of democratization in Cuba. Over the last two years, she was also elected the president of the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy and addressed the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy and the Oslo Freedom Forum, and visited the island twice in order to visit her father’s grave and attend a mass in his memory, despite the fact that her family and fellow activists continually receive threats and suffer harassment at the hands of state security forces.
Now she is going back. Why? “I’m returning to my country,” she wrote on Facebook on Thursday, January 18. “Over the last days an escalation of violence against the entire Cuban opposition has become evident, among them various promoters of the citizens’ initiative Cuba Decide. Many friends have been jailed, beaten, or threatened, have feared for their lives. This is what happened two weeks ago to the trade union leader Iván Hernández Carrillo and to Mrs. Caridad Burunate in Matanzas and two days ago to the artist Danilo Maldonado [El Sexto], detained in the El Combinado prison and living among rumors of a possible execution. They also fear for the safety of their children and relatives, mentioned again and again during the interrogations, as state security agents Osvaldo and Maikel clarified to the musician and composer Luis Alberto Mariño. They’re intercepted and detained when they try to aid other Cubans, which is what happened to the artist-activist Tania Bruguera so that she couldn’t help those affected by Hurricane Matthew on its path towards Baracoa. Various opposition organizations and members of independent civil society throughout the nation suffer constant persecution and arrests without charges. This is what has happened to the Ladies in White, UNPACU, Dr. Eduardo Cardet, and the economist Karina Gálvez, among others. The year is beginning amid a wave of repression that reminds me intensely of the prelude to the Spring of 2003, before the jailing of the leaders of the Varela Project during the trial of the 75. I’m going home, I will be with my friends.”
At 3:02 p.m. the same day she tweeted, “In the Havana airport they have just retained my (valid) Cuban passport and they’re ordering me to wait without giving any explanation.” Six minutes later, “They’ve informed me that on this occasion I can enter Cuba, our country.”
We’ll be following Rosa María’s trip and providing any updates we receive here. Rosa María, we wish you safety and success on your mission to bring democracy and human rights to your homeland!
From our Believe it or Not department. Créalo o no lo crea.
Castro, Inc., one of the world’s largest slave owners, is seeking to increase its labor force from 11.2 million to 20 million by the year 2050.
The news can be found in an article about Castro, Inc.’s search for condoms in India. Yes, condoms.
Condoms are seldom connected to plans for population growth, but Castro, Inc. has always been a land of paradoxes.
Currently, Castro, Inc. also provides free abortions and has one of the highest abortion rates on earth.
It also has a very, very high suicide rate.
Another paradox: How will the increased number of slaves will be fed, or what kind of labor will be required of them in a slave plantation totally committed to changing NOTHING in an economic system that produces nothing, has let more than 50% of its arable land lay fallow, and has to import food to keep its slaves from starving to death?
Some experts at the rabidly-anti Castro blog Babalu think the answer to this last question is simple: Castro, Inc. wants to outdo Las Vegas. The increase in slaves is required for the development of the island of Cuba into the world’s most popular sex-gambling-and drugs tourist spot.
One of those experts also thinks its highly likely that Cuban slaves working at tourist facilities will be required to wear condom hats, so they can be easily identified by the foreigners who visit the Caribbean slave plantation.
From IndUS Business Journal:
Cuba to import more condoms from India
Cuba will be importing more condoms from Thiruvananthapuram-headquartered HLL Lifecare Ltd, said a company spokesperson on Friday.
The HLL spokesperson told the media that it was from 2012 that Cuba began importing condoms, blood bags and intra-uterine devices from the company.
“In the previous calendar year, the total exports of HLL products to Cuba was Rs 11 crore and this calendar year we have set a target of Rs 20 crore,” said the HLL spokesperson.
Interestingly, the announcement comes even as the average number of children in Cuban families have touched as low as 1.4 per family and planning to increase their population to 20 million by 2050 up from the present 11.2 million.
Ambassador of Cuba to India Oscar I. Martinex Cordoves visited the condom manufacturing facility of the HLL factory in the capital city on Friday and watched presentations, besides holding discussions with key company officials.
“India is a key country as far as Cuba is considered when it comes to imports. There are several things that we are dependent for and import,” Cordoves told the media.
He also pointed out that the country is offering lots of stimulus packages to women and their target population in 2050 is fixed at 20 million.
Stalinist Angela Davis will be among the honored keynote speakers at the “Washington Women’s March.”
Stalinist Angela Davis–who has not been “disavowed” (recall the media brou-hah-hah about Trump disavowing David Duke?) by a single “women’s rights leader”– is a major fan of the Castro regime– the Stalinist regime that jailed and tortured the most women political prisoners in the modern history of the Western hemisphere.
No women in recent history (except probably many in North Korean prisons) suffered longer or more horrible political incarceration and torture than Castro’s female political prisoners. They were beaten and tortured and starved for years in KGB-designed prison cells beyond the reach of any international Human Rights organization. For refusing to snitch on their band of brothers and sisters even under ghastly KGB-tutored physical and mental torture many of these women suffered much worse and much longer terms and tortures in Cuban jails than the celebrated Elena Bonner suffered in Soviet jails.
Most of these heroic Cuban women are physically and/or mentally scarred for life from their ordeal in KGB-designed cells by KGB-tutored torturers.
“The national media has never shown the slightest interest in any of our stories,” former Cuban political priosner Caridad Roque confided to your humble servant. Ms Roque was arrested by Castro’s KGB- trained police at the age of 19 and suffered 16 years of prison and torture in Cuba.
“Humberto Fontova’s book teaches us truths about Castro’s island that are very discomfiting for many intellectuals.” Ana Botella (Spain’s former First Lady while giving a book reading in Madrid, upon “Fidel; HFT” release in Spain)
Humberto Fontova has performed a great service for the cause of decency and human freedom. Every American should read this book. (David Horowitz on Fidel; Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant)
Even though he is no longer president, Barack Obama’s policy of endless unilateral concessions to the apartheid Castro dictatorship continues to claim victims.
Stranded: A Cuban doctor ponders life stuck between policies and politics
When Elisabet Casero, a 26-year-old Cuban dentist, decided to abandon her assignment in Venezuela earlier this month, she knew the stakes. She would have to cross a crime-infested border to get to Colombia, forfeit her life savings in Cuba and be considered a pariah on the island.
But the risks seemed worth it. She planned to apply for a U.S. visa under the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program, tailor-made for the island’s health professionals.
But just hours after she was smuggled into Colombia on Jan. 12, on the back of a motorcycle, she heard the news: the Obama administration had canceled the parole program.
“I got so depressed,” Casero said. “But I have no choice but to move forward. I can’t go back to Cuba and much less Venezuela.”
Now Casero finds herself in a precarious situation: unable to continue to the United States, unable to work in Colombia and unwilling to return home.
Hundreds of Cubans are stranded in the Americas after the Obama administration ended the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy as well as the parole program for medical professionals earlier this month.
The administration has said it will continue processing parole applications submitted before the program was canceled, but it hasn’t said what might happen to people like Casero. And while it’s not clear how many people might be in her situation, Cuban doctors in Bogotá said they knew of at least two more cases of people who had already abandoned their jobs but hadn’t been able to apply for the program.
In Cuba, being chosen to work in an international medical mission is considered prestigious. But the reality can be stark. Casero said she was paid 27,000 bolivares a month — less than $10 — while she worked in the northern Venezuelan state of Valencia. To pay for her escape, she had to save as much as possible.
“I couldn’t even pay for the transportation to the office. Our Cuban bosses also did not give us money for water and cooking gas,” she said. “They told us we had to rely on the ‘solidarity’ of friends.”
She said her supervisors also encouraged the doctors to get their Venezuelan patients to pay for a portion of the care, even though it’s supposed to be free.
Her decision to join the Cuban government’s “medical mission” to Venezuela was not free of pressure either, Casero said.
“We were told that we should go on the mission. If you refuse, you can even lose your career because they brand you as a counterrevolutionary,” the dentist said.
In Venezuela she says she was required to work long hours and was closely monitored to make sure she met her quota of patients. (Venezuela pays Cuba for the service with oil.)
Continue reading HERE.
Mexico has just deported 91 Cuban refugees back to Cuba and to a life of repression, apartheid, and slavery. I suspect the irony here will be completely lost among our Lah-teen-oh brothers and sisters who were gleefully celebrating Obama’s Cuban immigration policy change last week.
Mexico deports 91 Cubans after U.S. ends ‘wet foot, dry foot’
Mexico’s government has deported 91 Cubans about a week after the United States ended a so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy that granted residency to almost every Cuban who reached U.S. soil, Mexican officials said on Friday.
The repeal of the longstanding policy last Thursday by former U.S. President Barack Obama left hundreds of Cubans who were seeking a new life stranded in Mexico and Central America countries.
The 71 men and 20 women were flown to the Caribbean island by Mexican federal police jet from the southern city of Tapachula, Mexico’s National Migration Institute said.
The Cubans were in Mexico “irregularly,” the institute said in a statement, though they had applied for a permit to remain temporarily in the country.
Cuban officials had long sought an end to the policy, arguing that the promise of U.S. residency was fuelling people-trafficking and encouraging dangerous journeys.
The policy let Cubans who fled to the United States pursue residency if they reached the mainland, but not if they were picked up at sea before reaching the shore.
Obama entered into detente in 2014 with Cuban President Raul Castro, and the two governments continued to sign cooperation agreements this week to wrap up a range of issues before Donald Trump was sworn in as U.S. president on Friday.
Trump has vowed to scrap Obama’s policy toward Havana unless Castro’s government makes further concessions, although he has not specified what those should be.
(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
Here in the United States of America, we once again witnessed the peaceful transition of power from the sitting president to the newly elected president. The inaugural ceremony is not a celebration of victory, but of our democracy.
According to the Freedom House 2016 Freedom in The World Report, only 86 out of 195 countries measured are free. Sadly Cuba is not one of them.
November 3, 1958 was the last election in Cuba.
On 3 Nov 1958 the most critical elections in Cuban history were held. The three major presidential candidates were: Carlos Márquez-Sterling for the Partido del Pueblo Libre; Ramón Grau San Martín for his faction of the Partido Revolucionario Cubano, Auténtico; and Andrés Rivero Agüero for a coalition of government parties. There was also a minor party candidate on the ballot, Alberto Salas Amaro for the Union Cubana party.
Campaign rallies of Batista’s opponents were frequently sabotaged not by the Batista government, but by Castro and the revolutionaries. Under constant death threats by Castro forces the electoralist candidates were unable to visit many parts of the country. Their only practical recourse was effective use of radio, television and the printed word. As Time contemporaneously reported:
Where Batista’s mailed gauntlet was absent, Castro’s brass knuckles took over. […] In the backlands where rebel bands roam more or less at will, candidates were terrorized. They could not make campaign speeches, shake hands, or get before the people in any fashion, except from the safety of heavily guarded TV stations. A few were shot down. In Oriente province, balloting was virtually impossible. In a frenzy of rage, Castro laid ambushes along the major highways. Burnt-out cars and buses studded the roads, and Santiago, capital of Oriente, was virtually cut off. To make his point clear, Castro got on the rebel radio and warned: “The orders to the people for Nov. 3 are: Do not go outside. The people must show their rejection of the elections by remaining at home.”
It was generally accepted that if the elections were conducted fairly and the votes counted honestly a Márquez-Sterling victory was assured. Surveys conducted by CMQ and the American Embassy predicted Márquez-Sterling would win by a landslide.
Castro and his rebels all through September and October had threatened to bomb polling places and machine gun the voters waiting in line. Since Castro thugs had already assassinated a number of candidates during the campaign, this threat kept many away from the polls. In the provinces of Pinar del Río, Havana, Matanzas, and Camaguey polling though light went on almost undisturbed. In Las Villas and Oriente, where vast zones were under Castro’s guerillas’ sway hardly any voting took place. First electoral reports indicated that in the provinces where voting was done without any major disturbances Márquez-Sterling had obtained a clear victory over the government candidate Dr. Andres Rivero Agüero, and the other major candidate, oppositionist Ramón Grau San Martín. In Las Villas and Oriente provinces the government took the absence of voters as an opportunity for ballot-stuffing on a large scale.
On election night after the poll closing, the results were announced. Márquez-Sterling had won the provinces of Havana, Camagüey, Matanzas and Pinar del Río. Batista’s candidate was arbitrarily declared the winner in Las Villas and Oriente and the government declared that he had in these two provinces more votes than Márquez-Sterling in the other four and so was the winner. This result was a travesty since in the provinces “won” by Rivero Agüero, Castro’s terrorists kept voters away from polling places. The government simply stuffed the empty ballot boxes with forged ballots, which had been previously printed and marked.
In a memoir published in 2009 Batista’s top military commander, Army Chief of Staff General Francisco Tabernilla, confirmed that military officers orchestrated a massive fraud to ensure that Batista’s candidate was declared the winner of the 1958 elections. In these declarations Tabernilla acknowledged that Márquez-Sterling won:
If the fraud had not been perpetrated, Dr. Carlos Márquez-Sterling would have been the winner. The political picture would have radically changed. Fidel Castro would have had no alternative but to negotiate or lay down arms and pursue political avenues if he aspired to be President.
One of Castro’s first acts after his victory in January 1st, was to order all ballots and electoral documentation from the November election destroyed. In 1959 Castro confided in the Argentinean ambassador at that time that had Batista recognized Márquez-Sterling’s victory, Castro would not have come to power. The US Ambassador arrived at the same conclusion and so declared in testimony before congressional committees.
That was the end of freedom in Cuba, and the beginning of a long nightmare of imprisonments, executions, repression, slavery, enforced poverty, family separations, and exile.
For fifty-eight years the Cuban people have endured the horrors of the apartheid dictatorship controlling their lives, and with little sympathy or assistance from world. In spite of that harsh boot heel on their necks, thousands of Cubans have fought and struggled for their nations freedom, for libertad. That fight continues today, please, get on social media and support their struggle. It matters.
A partial list of dissident groups in Cuba:
Following is my latest letter-to-the-editor that the Washington Times published on January 20, 2017.
Mr. Antonio Benedí bemoans the repeal of the “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy by President Obama (“Obama’s betrayal of the Cuban people,” Web, Jan. 17). Said policy puts Cubans who reach U.S. soil on a fast track to permanent residency. He and I disagree on this issue.
First, let’s correct the record. Mr. Benedí indicates that this policy was put in place in response to former President Bill Clinton’s handling of the Elian Gonzalez incident. This is simply not factual. The policy was started in 1995 by President Clinton as a preventive measure against a mass exodus of Cuban refugees after Fidel Castro threatened another exodus of Cubans to protest the U.S. embargo. The Elian Gonzalez incident took place in 2000, long after the policy was firmly in place.
President Obama’s decision to abolish the “wet foot, dry foot” rule was the right one to take, and it’s been long overdue. When most Cubans who benefitted from this policy in the past returned to Communist Cuba repeatedly after obtaining their residency by living for one year and one day in the United States, it transformed them from political refugees to economic immigrants. They ceased to be “political refugees” — people afraid to return to their home countries for fear their lives would be endangered. To afford these Cubans special privileges that were denied immigrants of other nationalities was in itself discriminatory and challenging to our fair-play values. So kudos to President Obama for ending this “pachanga” once and for all.
To restore freedom and democracy to Communist Cuba, it is the Cubans who have to trigger a ‘Cuban Spring.’ The “wet foot, dry foot” policy provided an escape valve to shirk this responsibility. It provided the Cuban government with a lifeline into the future by getting rid of most of the regime’s dissenters. Those dissidents who remained in Cuba were then either locked up in Cuban gulags or killed by Communist thugs. With the repeal of the policy, there will be enough dissidents in Cuba to provide the spark for the liberation movement that will untie the chains that have oppressed Cuban citizens for over 57 years.
To view Mr. Benedí’s op-ed, click on http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jan/17/obamas-betrayal-of-the-cuban-people/
By María Fernanda Muñóz in Cubanos por el Mundo (My translation)
Catholic Church will move “heaven and Earth” to prevent deportation of Cubans in Panama
After a meeting for a possible agreement between the Government of Panama and the Cuban regime to deport the Cubans stranded in that country, the Catholic Church said that they will mediate with the Panamanian President to prevent the deportation of the migrants.
At the offices of Caritas Panama, operating as a hostel for more than 300 Cubans, the director of that organization, Deacon Victor Berrío, said that the Panamanian bishops will seek a special immigration status for the Cubans.
“Me preocupó un poco lo del convenio con Cuba y vamos a averiguar un poco de que se trata”.
Berrio ensures that to send the Cubans back to Cuba would be a “disaster” for each of them.
It was also reported that on Monday, the Panamanian bishops will meet to ask President Juan Carlos Varela for the non-deportation of the islanders.
It seems that the outgoing occupant of the White House decided to extend a bit of kindness to Castro Inc.’s slave doctors who had already applied for entry to the U.S. under the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program that he just abolished a few days ago.
Yeah. It’s sort of a little parting gift unlike all his other recent ones.
From El Jeral (Miami Herald)
Hundreds of Cuban medical professionals waiting in third countries for permission to emigrate to the United States got a reprieve Thursday with a new announcement by the Obama administration: paperwork submitted prior to the official end of the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program will be processed.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) updated aspects of the new immigration policy toward Cuba and now says it will process pending applications to the parole program known by the acronym CMPP — provided paperwork was submitted before 5 p.m. Jan. 12, the official end to the program.
“[United States Citizenship and Immigration Services] will not accept and adjudicate any CMPP cases received at U.S. embassies and consulates on or after 5:00 p.m. EST on January 12, 2017,” a DHS spokesman said in statement Thursday. “However, cases initiated before that time frame will continue to be accepted and adjudicated by USCIS to completion.”
The clarification comes a week after the Obama administration announced the elimination of the program, as well as an end to wet foot, dry foot policy, which gave entry to most Cuban migrants who made it onto U.S. soil.
Read more here: