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

Rosa María Rodríguez Gil and her son Yosvany Melchor

From Marti Noticias via ACI prensaloosely translated

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martyrs

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

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

Via Reuters:

Indians help build Cuba hotels as foreign labor ban weakens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading HERE.

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

Via Diario de Cuba:

EU Ombudsman To Investigate Refusal to Disclose the Agreement with Havana

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EU and Havana delegations during the negotiations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reports from Cuba: Repression instead of solutions

By Fernando Damaso in Translating Cuba:

Repression Instead of Solutions

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

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

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

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

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

Cuba’s Oswaldo Payá: A Story of Injustice

Thor Halvorssen and Roberto González in National Review:

Oswaldo Payá: A Story of Injustice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading HERE.

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

Julia Ioffe in Politico:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading HERE.

Guillermo Fariñas begins his 24th hunger strike

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

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

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

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

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

From Breitbart

by Frances Martel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading HERE

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

paya cepero anniversary 4

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

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

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

Cuba’s constitution promises democracy, but its articles deliver tyranny

Nelson Rodriguez Chartrand in PanAm Post:

The Cuban Constitution Is Anything But Democratic

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There is only one thing that makes the Cuban constitution notable, and that is the fact that it’s a document that contains within its pages, like no other, the greatest lies the human mind has ever conceived.

Right from the first article and clause, they tell you the Cuban state is transparent, and that Cubans live in a democracy, which is a real insult to the intelligence and dignity of all of the island’s people.

How can they speak of democracy in a society governed by a dictator that has personal involvement with all branches of powers of the state — legislative, executive and judicial?

Well, that’s how it is ladies and gentleman. It’s incredible to see how the Cuban Magna Carta, in only five articles, has created the perfect dictator. In case you were wondering, those articles were 74, 89, 96, 121 and 128 — those that put the three branches at his mercy.

But wait, there’s more regarding the powers in question, and that is that the worst article giving away power to this dictator is article 5. It gives the Communist Party of Cuba the power to have the grand dictator that it has, and for that dictator to exhibit maximum authority.

Of course that was what Montesquieu was referring to when he conceived of the essential condition that democracy must exist with a classical division of powers.

Only those of us who have seen and lived the dictatorship over six decades can know in its true form the dire consequences that cause the concentration of power to convert its people into slaves.

There exists other realities that make even more implausible the idea of the existence of democracy in Cuba.

Can there be democracy in Cuba when freedom of expression is only a privilege granted to those that share the same ideology imposed by a great dictator (article 53)?

Can democracy exist in Cuba when freedom of association is limited to the organization created by the dictatorship in the first place (article seven)?

Continue reading HERE.

Martyrs Payá and Cepero: Four years later, no justice, just a Mass in Miami

Martyrs

Announcement for those of you readers who live in the Miami area:

On the fourth anniversary of their assassination by the Castro regime, a Mass will be offered for the souls of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.

When and where: Tomorrow, Friday 22 July, 8:00 pm,  at the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity,  3609 South Miami Avenue, Miami, FL

Question:  Will the new Archbishop of Havana Monseñor Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez and the recently retired Archbishop Cardenal Jaime Ortega y Alamino offer a Mass for them too?

In Spanish:

Mañana, viernes 22 de Julio a las 8 de la noche en la Ermita de la Caridad, 3609 South Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33133, asista a la Misa de Acción de Gracias por la vida de Oswaldo Paya y Harold Cepero.

“accident”
Mass at the cathedral in Havana?

Reports from Cuba: Guilty!

Yoani Sanchez in 14yMedio via Translating Cuba:

Guilty!

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This summer, taxi drivers have become the government’s new public enemy.

At the beginning of the year evil was incarnated in the intermediaries, who were blamed for the high food prices in the produce markets. At the end of 2013, the boogeymen were those who worked for themselves selling imported clothes and other merchandise. In February of this year the war against the pushcart vendors reached its height, and today the enemy drives a shared taxi, a person who in common parlance is called a “boatman.”

If there is anything that has characterized the Cuban system of the last 57 years it is its ability to find a scapegoat. When the agricultural plans are not met it is the fault of the drought, the indiscipline of the workers or the poor organization dictated by some low-ranking bureaucrat. If in times of heavy precipitation the water supply remains unstable in towns and cities it is because, “the rain is not falling where it should,” as was explained to us in recent statements by an official of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH).

Urban transport does not work well due to “vandalism” and because “the population doesn’t treat this equipment as it deserves,” they tell us. Meanwhile most road accidents are because of the “recklessness of the drivers,” and not because of the poor state of the roads and highways, the terrible signage or the inventive measures taken by drivers to keep their obsolete vehicles running.

The powers-that-be point their index fingers in all directions to accuse others, but never turn it back on themselves. From time to time, to display a certain tone of self-criticism, they come down on Communist Party members themselves, and accuse them of not voicing their opinions “in the right place and at the right time,” or they make some minister take the fall for the failed policies in the areas of public health, education or some other sector.

We citizens are the main culprits, according to what state television tells us, for the presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that, for years, has failed to yield to spraying or campaigns against it. Our homes are the “main foci” of the mosquito, they spit at us from the press, as if state and government entities were untainted redoubts of cleanliness and order.

Emigration is also among our sins, because we go in search of “siren songs” and let ourselves fall “into the hands of the coyotes,” declares the Castro regime’s discourse. In this script it is third parties who are always to blame; the migrants who protested in front of the Cuban embassy in Ecuador were ‘scoring points’ with the United States and some of them, once they are settled in our neighboring country to the north, will end up sending “illicit funds” to their relatives on the island to support a private business.

The easiest to find are the external enemies, like imperialism, “the criminal United States blockade,” the conspirators “from the Latin American right,” and even the “historic betrayal” of the old comrades of Eastern Europe. This scarecrow to install fear is accompanied by the demonized “counterrevolutionaries” in our own backyard, who are targeted by all the insults the rude government machinery has created over almost six decades.

Read more

Photos of the day: U.S.-backed violence against Cuban dissidents

This past Sunday, Berta Soler was punched in the face by Castronoid goons as she and other Ladies in White were arrested.

The goons also yanked away a Cuban flag she was carrying, causing a friction burn on her arm.

So, here are two snapshots of the top act of the Normalization Circus, which all the usual news media outlets refuse to mention.

Berta Soler muestra quemadura en su brazo luego de represión

It could also be argued that all of this violence is being sponsored by the U.S., given the fact that such repression has increased ever since the Normalization Circus was set up by the current occupant of the White House and he and his State Department refuse to speak out against it or to make this issue part of the “negotiations” with the Castro regime.

Thanks a lot, Meeeester Obama.  Mil gracias.

ISIS and the missing Gitmo guy targeting Rio Olympics for terror?

(My new American Thinker post)

Brazil has enough problems these days, from a lousy economy to a political crisis to zika and a “futbol” team that can’t win anymore.

Let’s add another one and this one (via Fausta’s Blog) may be the most unpleasant of all:

A new Telegram channel, Ansar al-Khilafah Brazil, appeared today, declaring itself an ISIS cell in Brazil that had pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “If French police couldn’t stop France attacks, then their training Brazil’s police will serve no use,” said a message on the new channel. But the administrator later posted that it was just a messaging channel with one person reposting ISIS news in several languages.
ISIS has been offering its regular propaganda channel in Portuguese along with English, French, German, Russian and other languages in target areas.


We add the crazy story of the GITMO alumnus living in Uruguay who is suddenly missing.  It is believed that he crossed illegally into Brazil.  We don’t believe that he went to Rio to learn how to “samba” or to tell Sergio Mendes that he loved his “Fool on the Hill” arrangement.

Let’s safely assume that he is up to no good with thousands coming to Rio for the Olympics.  After all, he is a terrorist!

In the past, we may have overlooked these threats, but you can’t anymore, after Nice, Orlando, San Bernardino and Paris.

Brazilian authorities assure us that there is no specific threat.   Frankly, I can understand that they may be trying to downplay it.    At the same time, the aforementioned article reminds us that French ISIS fighter Maxime Hauchard tweeted, “Brazil, you are our next target.”

We know that ISIS loves soft targets.   What could be “softer” than thousands of people moving around a major city during an Olympic event?  It’s scary!

So let’s hope that the entire world has their eyes open because these threats have to be taken very seriously.

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