The NBA and a profile in cowardice

Image result for china nba images

The NBA cracked totally and gave in to the China dictatorship.  

The league’s official position is something like we play basketball and don’t do politics.

As I’m sure you remember, the NBA, its coaches, and players never had a problem getting into politics, specially when the target was the police, the 2nd Amendment or President Trump.

So what happened here?

The obvious reason is money.  The NBA is booming in China, specially the TV audience.  I saw that it’s over a billion dollars.  

The second reason is that the NBA assumed that the government of China speaks for its people.  

I don’t think that it does.  

My good guess is that the Chinese communists are scared to death that “Hong Kong fever” will spread to the mainland.  In other words, they don’t want anyone reminding the people of China that Hong Kong is crying out for freedom.  

According to Freedom House, China is no place for human rights:   

China’s authoritarian regime has become increasingly repressive in recent years. 

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is tightening its control over the media, online speech, religious groups, and civil society associations while undermining already modest rule-of-law reforms. 

The CCP leader and state president, Xi Jinping, is consolidating personal power to a degree not seen in China for decades. 

We can add the weak NBA to those who are giving in to repressive measures.

Shame on the NBA.  I hope that US fans show their anger and skip a game or two.

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

August and memories of the Berlin Wall

Image result for berlin wall images

The Berlin Wall is something I grew up talking about. It’s probably different for young people born after the Wall came down in the fall of 1989.    

The construction of the Berlin Wall started on this day 1961 and the first casualty came in August 1962:

“On August 17, 1962, two young men from East Berlin attempted to scramble to freedom across the wall. One was successful in climbing the last barbed wire fence and, though suffering numerous cuts, made it safely to West Berlin. While horrified West German guards watched, the second young man was shot by machine guns on the East Berlin side. He fell but managed to stand up again, reach the wall, and begin to climb over. More shots rang out. The young man was hit in the back, screamed, and fell backwards off of the wall.For nearly an hour, he lay bleeding to death and crying for help. West German guards threw bandages to the man, and an angry crowd of West Berlin citizens screamed at the East German security men who seemed content to let the young man die. He finally did die, and East German guards scurried to where he lay and removed his body.”

From 1961 to 1989, the Wall was an international symbol of freedom. You had free people on the Western side and a repressive state on the East.  It was clear to most of us that this wall meant something.   

I don’t expect future children to have the same passion about the Berlin Wall that my parents or I had.  We are just hoping that they learn about The Berlin Wall, its meaning, the people who died attempting to cross into freedom and how bipartisan policies of containing communism brought down the wall.    

We can not forget those who were killed crossing this wall because they wanted to be free. 

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

Amnesty International calls for urgent action on behalf of Cuban artist Yulier Rodriguez Perez

Via Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Amnesty International Urgent Action Cuba: Urban artist at risk in Cuba

Artist threatened with being imprisoned again

ulier Rodriguez Perez with shirt that reads in Spanish “Respect for Urban Art”

Urban artist at risk in Cuba:Yulier Rodriguez Perez

After being arbitrarily detained on 17 August, Yulier Perez, a graffiti artist known for painting dilapidated walls in Havana, is at risk of being imprisoned again, after months of intimidation and harassment from authorities.

State officials arbitrarily detained Yulier Rodriguez Perez, or Yulier P., known for his art work on the ruined walls of Havana, the capital, on 17 August in Central Havana. He told Amnesty International that he was released on the evening of 18 August on the condition that he remove all his artwork from the walls of Havana by 25 August.

Amnesty International has followed the case of Yulier Perez since early 2017, when he told the organization he had been forced out of his art studio. His international profile has increasingly grown. In 2016, he told newspaper 14 y medio, “My pictures are like fables, a portrait of people’s experiences…They are like souls, because at some point we stop being people and now we are souls in a purgatory called Cuba.” In April 2017, police summoned and questioned him about his interviews with the international press and his opinions about his art. Yulier Perez said that state security officials threatened to charge him with “dangerousness” (peligrosidad), or a range of other provisions of the Penal Code. In July, Yulier Perez travelled to the USA to participate in an art exhibition. On his return, police summoned him again. Subsequently, he hand-delivered letters to the Minister of Culture and Minister of External Relations, asking for their intervention in the frequent police harassment.

Decree No. 272 (20 February 2001) establishes administrative penalties for infringements on public adornments and monuments, and establishes that any alteration of walls or external parts of buildings is a fineable offence. Such an offence is not contemplated in the Penal Code. Yulier Perez is at risk of being criminally charged with “dangerousness” solely for the exercise of his right to freedom of expression. Cuban authorities have frequently used this vague and overly broad provision against human rights defenders and any others who appear to contradict the “norms of socialist morals”.

Provisions foreseeing the punishment of individuals not because of their actions or attitudes, but because of the likelihood of potential, future and uncertain actions breach the principle of legality.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language: Urging the Cuban authorities to ensure that law enforcement officials do not arbitrarily detain Yulier Rodriguez Perez as an attempt to restrict the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression; Calling on them to make sure that free artistic expression is adequately protected, and to repeal all legislation which unduly limits the right to freedom of expression; Calling on them to amend provisions of the Penal Code, such as the provision on “peligrosidad”, that are so vague that they lend themselves to abuse by state officials to restrict freedom of expression.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 5 OCTOBER 2017 TO:

President of the Republic Raúl Castro Ruz
Presidente de la República de Cuba
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +41 22 758 9431 (Cuba Office in Geneva);
+1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Email: cuba_onu@cubanmission.com (via Cuban mission to UN)
Twitter: @RaulCastroR
Salutation: Your Excellency

Attorney General Dr. Dario Delgado Cura
Fiscal General de la República
Fiscalía General de la República
Amistad 552, e/ Monte y Estrella Centro
Habana, La Habana, Cuba
Email: relaciones@fgr.cu
Twitter: @FGR_Cuba
Salutation: Dear Attorney General/ Estimado Fiscal General

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

Additional Information

Amnesty International has documented harassment, intimidation, and arbitrary arrests of artists in Cuba for decades. In the late 1980s, members of artistic organizations were detained in their homes and charged with “illegal association”.

Cuban authorities have previously arbitrarily detained graffiti artists for exercising their right to freedom of expression. In 2015, Danilo Maldonado Machado (also known as ‘El Sexto’) spent almost 10 months in prison without trial following accusations of “aggravated contempt” after being arrested on 25 December 2014 for transporting two pigs with the names “Raúl” and “Fidel” painted on them, which he intended to release in an art show in Havana’s Central Park. He was never formally charged nor brought before a court during the almost 10 months he spent in detention. Danilo Maldonado Machado was again arrested at his home in Havana the morning of 26 November 2016, hours after the announcement of Fidel Castro’s death. That same day, Cuba-based newspaper 14 y medio reported that he had graffitied the words “He’s gone” (Se fue) on a wall in Havana. He was detained for almost two months, according to his family, without formal charges.

Article 75.1 of the Penal Code provides that any police officer can issue a warning (acta de advertencia) for “dangerousness”. A warning can also be issued for associating with a “dangerous person.” Municipal tribunals have the authority to declare someone to be in a dangerous pre-criminal state. They can do so summarily within pre-set timeframes which are so short – less than 11 days from charge to sentence – that they effectively “deprive the accused of the possibility of mounting an adequate legal defence”.

Security measures are imposed on those found to have a “dangerous disposition” by a municipal tribunal. These measures may include therapy, police surveillance or “re-education”. The latter may consist of internment in a specialized work or study establishment for a period of between one and four years. In most cases, internment is changed to imprisonment, even though in the Penal Code “dangerousness” is not punishable by imprisonment.

Name: Yulier Rodriguez Perez

Gender m/f: male

UA: 189/17 Index: AMR 25/7000/2017 Issue Date: 24 August 2017

Amnesty International document HERE.

Yoani Sánchez — A Bridge Through Dialogue

Following is a magnificent interview conducted in Berlin, Germany in 2003, by Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez. While I disagree with Yoani when it comes to the lifting of the U.S. embargo, I respect her daily fight against the repression in Communist Cuba. She cited a famous saying by Cuban Founding Father José Martí: “Subir montañas, hermana a los hombres.” [Fighting for a just cause triggers the brotherhood of mankind]. Her cause – fighting for the restoration of freedom and democracy to Cuba – is my cause as well. She describes herself as bridge through dialogue. While you may not agree with each other through dialogue, it opens a window of understanding to the other side. Many people have asked me why I write so much, and I’m glad that Yoani used the same logic to respond: writing is a catharsis for my being a citizen of the world.

To listen to the interview, click on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pbo03RidoD0

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.

RFK Jr. Throws Dead Kennedys Under the Obama-Cuba Bus

kennedys

The title of the piece is “We have so much to learn from Cuba”.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. opens his latest op-ed, this one regarding the Obama administration’s diplomacy-warming of a U.S.-Cuba relationship by embargo change, by putting blame on two of his own relatives…

In early December, President Barack Obama announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than five decades of a misguided policy which my uncle, John F. Kennedy, and my father, Robert F. Kennedy, had been responsible for enforcing after the U.S. embargo against the country was first implemented in October 1960 by the Eisenhower administration.

RFK Jr., I guess, thinks shaking his head and finger at his father and uncle, AND pointing out his privileged visit to the island, solidifies his views that the embargo is broken and must be scrapped, or something. He manages to basically scold the Castro regime for being bad communists.

However, his belief is the U.S. embargo was behind the Cuban government’s reasoning and justification for treating Cuba’s people like starving prisoners and keeping the country’s economy down. Yeah, we made them do it.

It is almost beyond irony that the very same politicians who argued that we should punish Castro for curtailing human rights and mistreating prisoners in Cuban jails elsewhere contend that the United States is justified in mistreating our own prisoners in Cuban jails.

Imagine a U.S. president faced, as Castro was, with over 400 assassination attempts, thousands of episodes of foreign-sponsored sabotage directed at our nation’s people, factories and bridges, a foreign-sponsored invasion and fifty years of economic warfare that has effectively deprived our citizens of basic necessities and strangled our economy.

No, what’s ironic, Bobby Jr., is the conspiracy theory of Castro’s alleged involvement in your POTUS Uncle JFK’s assassination. But, eh…

The Cuban leadership has pointed to the embargo with abundant justification as the reason for economic deprivation in Cuba.

The embargo allows the regime to portray the United States as a bully and itself as the personification of courage, standing up to threats, intimidation and economic warfare by history’s greatest military superpower.

It perpetually reminds the proud Cuban people that our powerful nation, which has staged invasions of their island and plotted for decades to assassinate their leaders and sabotaged their industry, continues an aggressive campaign to ruin their economy.

Yeah, he said that. The same-old same-old claptrap that has been heard for years. Sort of flies in the face(s) of half a century of countless Cubans climbing into dangerous, leaky rafts to sail deadly shark-infested waters to get here to the great Satan … Doesn’t it?

Oh, and I found this one priceless…

Unlike other Caribbean islands where poverty means starvation, all Cubans receive a monthly food ration book that provides for their basic necessities.

But you read and judge.

A week ago A.J. Delgado wrote, “Arguing with idiots about #Cuba”, where she counters many of the anti-embargo talking points liberals, such as RFK Jr., are constantly regurgitating. The fact is Barack Obama’s new age plan for changing diplomacy with Cuba is yet another one of his foreign policy decisions granting trust where trust is not deserved … and is already evident.