Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) » 2013 Annual Report » Chapter IV: Cuba

Introduction and excerpts 

406
B. Countries
 

Cuba
 

I. Introduction

99. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has paid special attention to the human rights situation in Cuba and, in the use of its competence, has observed and evaluated the human rights situation in special reports58, in Chapter IV of the Annual Report59, and through the case system.60 In addition, on several occasions it has asked the Cuban State to adopt precautionary measures for the purpose of protecting the life and personal integrity of Cuban citizens.61

100. On January 31, 1962, the Government of Cuba was excluded from participating in the inter-American system by Resolution VI adopted at the Eighth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, held in Punta del Este (Uruguay).62 On June 3, 2009, during its Thirty-ninth Regular Session held in Honduras, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) set aside Resolution VI adopted at the Eighth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and established that “the participation of the Republic of Cuba in the OAS will be the result of a process of dialogue initiated at the request of the Government of Cuba, and in accordance with the practices, purposes, and principles of the OAS.”

101. The IACHR has recognized that the Cuban State – including the time of exclusion, is “juridically answerable to the Inter-American Commission in matters that concern human rights” since it “is party to the first international instruments established in the American hemisphere to protect human rights” and because Resolution VI of the Eighth Meeting of Consultation “excluded the present Government of Cuba, not the State, from participation in the inter-American system.”63

102. Based on the criteria spelled out by the IACHR in 1997 to identify those states whose human rights practices merit special attention, the Commission has considered that the human rights situation in Cuba fits within the first and fifth criteria, insofar as the political rights enshrined in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man are not observed, and structural situations persist that have a serious and grave impact on the enjoyment and observance of fundamental rights enshrined in the American Declaration.

103. Having evaluated the human rights situation in Cuba, the IACHR decided to include that country in this chapter because, in its view, it meets the criterion under Article 59, paragraph 6(a)(i) of the IACHR’s new Rules of Procedure, which took effect on August 1, 2013. That provision concerns “a serious breach of the core requirements of representative democracy mentioned in the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which are essential means of achieving human rights, including: “there is discriminatory access to or abusive exercise of power that undermines or denies the rule of law, such as systematic infringement of the independence of the judiciary or lack of subordination of State institutions to the legally constituted civilian authority”. Also, it meets the criterion under Article 59, paragraph 6(c) which refers to “The State has committed or is committing massive, serious and widespread violations of human rights guaranteed in the American Declaration, the American Convention, or the other applicable human rights instrument”. Accordingly, the IACHR will recount the activities carried in 2013 with reference to Cuba, analyze the human rights situation in that country, identify best government practices and make recommendations.

104. The restrictions on the political rights to association, freedom of expression, and dissemination of ideas, the lack of elections, the lack of an independent judiciary, and the restrictions on freedom of movement over decades have come to shape a permanent and systematic situation of violation of the human rights of the inhabitants of Cuba. In the course of 2012, the information available suggests that the general human rights situation has not changed. The above-indicated human rights situations, as well as severe repression and restrictions of human rights defenders persist. Also, the IACHR received information on violence and discrimination against LGTBI persons in Cuba.

105. In preparing this report, the Commission has obtained information from international agencies, civil society organizations, and the Cuban government via the official web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba. The Commission notes the scarcity of information available on human rights in Cuba from sources both on the island or abroad.

106. On November 19, 2013, the Commission sent this report to the State of Cuba and asked for its observations. The State did not respond.

Full report available online here in English and in Spanish.

Some highlights from the report:

[Deaths of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero ]

138. In 2013, the level of physical assaults, threats, harassment, and acts of repudiation against human rights defenders in Cuba was maintained, particularly those involved in the defense of the rights of persons who have been deprived of liberty for political reasons. According to Amnesty International, the Cuban Government does not recognize monitoring and protection of human rights has a legitimate activity, nor does it grant legal status to local human rights organizations.105 As noted, the repression of human rights defenders in Cuba takes the form of physical assaults and detentions for short periods of time, ranging from a few hours to several days.

139. Various human rights organizations have called attention to the rise in acts of repression, suspicious deaths of civic movement leaders, and the use of physical and psychological violence against human rights defenders. In that regard, the Christian Liberation Movement presented a report on the suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero and called for a stop to threats against opposition members, particularly citing the fact that family members of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas continue to receive death threats.106

...

[Human Rights Defenders in Cuba]

141. The Commission wishes to underscore the importance of the work of human rights defenders in the region. It has consistently highlighted the importance of the work done by persons dedicated to promoting, monitoring and legally defending human rights and the organizations with which many of them are affiliated. The Commission therefore considers that the acts of violence and other attacks committed against human rights defenders not only violate the guarantees that attend every human being, but also attack the pivotal role that human rights defenders play in society and leave all those whom they strive to protect defenseless.

142. The Commission received information alleging that the State was systematically expelling human rights defenders and members of their families from universities and refusing to admit them to university-level education programs. The IACHR is compelled to reiterate that education is a human right and an essential enabler of the enjoyment of other rights.

143. The IACHR was also informed of an alleged practice on the part of the State whereby health clinics refuse to treat persons involved in the work of defending human rights, even in those cases where the condition of the human rights defender is extremely serious.107 The IACHR recalls that the right of every person, without discrimination, to physical, mental and moral integrity is protected under the American Convention on Human Rights. The right to personal integrity in the area of health is closely related to the right to health, since adequate and timely health services are one of the principal means of guaranteeing the right to personal integrity.

144. The Commission received information that states that on March 7, 2013, Yris Perez Aguilera, President of the Rosa Parks Women's Movement for Civil Rights was beaten up by government agents in Santa Clara, leaving her unconscious. A press release by the Directorio Democrático Cubano offers the following account: “According to witnesses to the assault, after dragging her by her hair from the patrol car in which they were traveling, supposedly to put her in another vehicle, he flung her to the asphalt several times, causing Yris to strike her head against the sidewalk, knocking her unconscious.”108

145. The Commission also received information from the Independent Trade Union Coalition of Cuba (CSIC) about acts of repression and police brutality committed against Iván Hernández Carrillo, an independent trade unionist and member of the “Group of 75 of the black spring of March 2003,” when he sought to show solidarity with the Ladies in White Movement on Sunday, July 14, in the municipality of Colón, Matanzas Province. Five plainclothes policemen attacked the trade unionist in broad daylight, striking him repeatedly in the stomach and on his back while stabbing him in the left shoulder with a pointed object. During the assault one of the agents whispered to Mr. Sernández Carrillo, “We are just waiting for the orders to kill you all.” Subsequently, Mr. Hernández Carrillo was arrested and driven in a jeep to a remote location where he was released.109

146. On October 29, 2013, during the IACHR’s 149th regular session, the requesting organizations told the IACHR of cases of human rights defenders who have died in Cuba under circumstances that were never investigated. The Commission was told of cases like that of dissident Orlando Zapata Ramayo, who was allegedly killed while on a hunger strike in prison, and the cases of other human rights defenders who were killed in Cuban hospitals while in the custody of the Cuban security forces.110

147. For her part, Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, a human rights defender and wife of Jorge Luís García Pérez Antúnez, also a human rights defender, told the IACHR that because of her work, she had been the victim of physical assaults that left her unconscious in 2013. A beating she received from agents of the Political Police in early 2013 had serious consequences; she was unable to walk for three months; throughout her ordeal she was denied medical assistance. The Commission was also informed that the case of Damaris Moya Portielis is one of the cruelest. She was thrown on the floor while they forced a pen into her vagina. She was later arbitrarily detained; they threatened to rape her six-year-old daughter, whom she could not send to school. As a result of these events, she had to go on a hunger strike to demand protection for her daughter, whom she could not send to school. The human rights defenders who testified before the Commission also reported cases of other human rights defenders who had been the victims of beatings and arbitrary detention by the Political Police, and other forms of abuse, destruction of their property and video cameras, and acts of repression to retaliate for their peaceful activities. 111

148. On October 29, 2013, another hearing was held on the human rights situation of the “Ladies in White” in Cuba. That hearing was attended by Berta Soler, Magaly Norvis and Sayli Navarro, members of the Ladies in White, and by Laritza Diversent and Yasert Rojas, members of Cubalex. There, the speakers explained that members of the Ladies in White are usually portrayed in the media as representing foreign interests and as tools by which to slander and defame Cuba. They pointed out that in the last six months the repression against the Ladies in White became more intense. The events in the province of Holguín, Villa Clara and Matanzas were particularly disturbing, especially those in the municipalities of Cárdenas and Colón.112

149. The Ladies in White also told the IACHR that the Rapid Response Brigades, which they said were organizations sponsored by the Cuban government, stage “acts of repudiation” [mítines de repudio] to prevent them from getting to church and/or participating in peaceful marches. The acts of repudiation staged by members of these brigades are not spontaneous; instead, those involved are summoned and at times even forced to attend the “acts” by the regime’s Political Police. They also maintained that during these acts of repudiation, civilians and members of the security services beat up members of the Ladies in White, inflicting broken bones, torn muscles, sprains, abrasions and other physical injuries; the victims are then refused medical treatment. The members of the Ladies in White are subsequently detained and transported to prisons or are left to fend for themselves in unpopulated areas far from their homes, with no personal identification documents or money and exposed to dangers of all kinds. They also pointed out that at the time of their arrest, no record is made of their admittance to the police station or how long they remained there, and no record of the arrest is made. 113

150. The IACHR also received information to the effect that the Ladies in White are usually taken directly to cells with neither hygienic facilities nor privacy. Their jailers force them to strip and to bend over to check whether they have any recording or other devices in their genitals. Recently, a group of more than 10 women from Havana were forcibly stripped and, in the presence of various officials from State Security and agents of the National Police, were carefully searched These women were beaten and threatened that a long, semi-flexible object with a bulb at the tip would be introduced into their vagina. 114

151. Organizations dedicated to the defense of human rights have told the IACHR that family members of human rights defenders in Cuba tend to be victims of intimidation and threats from State authorities, as a form of repression and punishment for the work their family members do.115 In the case of the Ladies in White, they testified that the majority are mothers whose children are treated differently by the National Education System. For example, their children are required to receive Communist indoctrination and can be expelled from school if they refuse. One of the reports the Commission received concerned the daughter of one of the Ladies in White who was 14 when she finished her basic secondary school studies, but was not allowed to pursue pre-university studies on the grounds that her mother was a counter-revolutionary.116 The Commission was also informed that the sons and daughters of political dissidents are expelled from university because of the work their parents do. These acts of repression are also evident in the difficulty that adults have in finding jobs or becoming integrated into social life in Cuba.117

152. According to civil society organizations, the case of Sonia Garro Alfonso, a member of the Ladies in White group (an opposition movement consisting of female relatives of jailed dissidents) and founder of the Independent Afro-Cuban Foundation, a civil society organization,118 is illustrative of deprivations of liberty of this type, given that she has been held in pretrial detention accused of the crimes of “public disorder” and “attempted murder” since March 18, 2012, when she was arrested along with her husband, Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González, also a political dissident, in an operation carried out by members of the ant-riot forces, police, and state security agents, at their home in Havana. Mrs. Garro has reportedly been in detention for more than a year, which exceeds the statutory limit of six months established by Cuban law for keeping a person in custody while under investigation. She has been refused medical assistance on several occasions and the authorities are allegedly obstructing her, her family, and human rights organizations from having information about her state of health, given that they are not allowed access to the medical records at the prison where she is interned.119

153. During the hearing on the human rights situation of the “Ladies in White” in Cuba, the Commission received additional information about the case of Mrs. Sonia Garro Alfonso, a member of the Ladies in White imprisoned since March 18, 2012. Her health had deteriorated since entering prison and prison officials were said to be denying her the medical care that her health problems required. At the time of the hearing, the Commission was informed that Mrs. Garro Alfonso was suffering from a number of health problems, such as malignant arterial hypertension and kidney problems; also, her body was covered with sores caused by a bacteriological infection. 120

154. On October 31, 2013, two days after the hearing and just one day before the trial against Sonia Garro Alfonso, her husband Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González and another dissident Eugenio Hernández Hernández was slated to begin, the Cuban government decided to postpone it. It is public knowledge that postponement of trials of dissidents is nothing unusual. In this case, the court did not make public the reasons for its decision, nor did it set a new trial date.121

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Conflict Escalation in Cuba and Venezuela: Nonviolent dynamics and a call to action

"We have not chosen the path of peace as a tactic, but because it is inseparable from the goal for which our people are striving. Experience teaches us that violence begets more violence and that when political change is brought about by such means, new forms of oppression and injustice arise. It is our wish that violence and force should never be used as ways of overcoming crises or toppling unjust governments." - Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, Strasbourg, France December 17, 2002


640 days ago civic nonviolent leaders Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero were killed under extremely suspicious circumstances on July 22, 2012 in Cuba. Both men had led lives of nonviolent resistance to injustice. 

Geraldine Moreno
 60 days ago in Venezuela, Geraldine Moreno died from her injuries on February 22, 2014. She was 23 years old. She was shot in the head with buckshot on February 19, 2014. Today learned about, Orlando Lorenzo de Jesús Castellano Olivo. the latest Venezuelan youth to be shot in the head and killed.

14 of the 43 killed in anti-government protests since February 12
 Since February 12, 2014 43 have died during anti-government demonstrations and it has now been confirmed that at least some of the youth shot in the head, were shot by government agents.  The struggle in Cuba has been going on for more than 55 years and Venezuela's now for 15 years.  While reading Michael N. Nagler's new book, "The Nonviolence Handbook: A Guide for Practical Action" read a passage that struck me with regards to the struggles now taking place in these two countries: 
"Conflicts escalate when they are not resolved, and if they are left untended they can rapidly get out of control." From the nonviolence point of view, the intensity of a conflict is not necessarily a question of how many guns or how many people are involved (the same metric would work for a quarrel between lovers as between nations); it is primarily about how far dehumanization has proceeded. If someone no longer listens to you, is calling you names or is labeling you, it’s probably too late for petitions. In terms of knowing how to respond, we can conveniently think of this escalation in three stages that call for distinct sets of responses. Let’s call these three stages Conflict Resolution, Satyagraha (active nonviolent resistance), and—hopefully this is rare, but it helps to know it exists—Ultimate Sacrifice (see Figure)."


In both countries the regimes in power call those who oppose them: worms, and fascists. Presently sectors of the political opposition in Venezuela have sat down to dialogue with a government whose leadership rejects the legitimacy of the opposition but uses the process for tactical purposes to slow the imposition of international sanctions for their systematic human rights violations. In Cuba, the opposition is not only not recognized but also illegal.

Unfortunately, the time for conflict resolution in both countries has long passed and in the case of Venezuela the democratic resistance is engaged in Satyagraha via mass demonstrations and many young people are also risking their lives continuing to march and protest the abuses and failures of the Maduro regime. In Cuba there has been a nonviolent opposition that for decades has engaged in projects and campaigns: both constructive and resisting the regime paying a high price and risking all. These oppressive regimes thrive on violence and hatred and seek to provoke it in both their supporters and opponents in a spiral of dehumanization that entrenches an unjust and exploitative system with deep structural violence.

How to confront it? With nonviolence, love and a coherent strategic vision that involves a constructive program as well as creative nonviolent resistance. More on that in a later entry. In the mean time people of good will can take two concrete actions.

Take Nonviolent Action on Cuba and Venezuela:

The families of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero are seeking an international investigation into their deaths to arrive at the truth of what happened and are gathering signatures in support of this. Signers thus far include the South African Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Amnesty International has a signature campaign underway calling on the Venezuelan government to investigate human rights abuses and prevent further human rights violations in the context of the ongoing protests.



Friday, April 18, 2014

Jesus, the most active resister, nonviolence and Venezuela

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." - Edmund Burke Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770

Procession of the Nazarene in Venezuela Ave. on April 16
 On Holy Thursday in Caracas Venezuelan students continued in their religious themed protests with a "Venezuelan Via Crucis" and attending a Mass for Peace officiated by Cardinal Jorge Urosa Sabino in the Caracas Cathedral. On Wednesday scores of Venezuelan youth marched through the streets of Venezuela "barefooted for the suffering of the country."

March of the barefoot for suffering Venezuela on April 16, 2014
 At the same time over twitter The King Center on the 93rd day of its 100 Days of Nonviolence campaign quoted Edmund Burke over twitter adding the affirmation "I will be nonviolent even if it is not easy."


Easter is a time for reflection, prayer, penance and celebration for Christians. According to the Christian tradition Holy Thursday is when Jesus Christ gathered his disciples for the last supper and later that same night in the Garden of Gethsemane he was betrayed by Judas and arrested.

Father John Dear offers two reflections on the significance of the events in the Garden of Gethsemane through the optics of the nonviolent Christ who is found in the Sermon on the Mount and in his reaction to Judas's betrayal and Peter's defense. As Judas handed him over to those who would take him to his death Jesus told him: "Friend, do what you have come for." When Peter attacked one of the servants of the high priest, who had come to arrest Jesus, cutting his ear off with a sword the Nazarene chastised him: "Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword." Father Dear's insight that in the Garden for the first time in the scriptures the disciples engage in two acts of violence: Judas's betrayal and Peter's violent defense:
Under the cover of night, in the first act of violence by a disciple, Judas kisses Jesus and betrays him, and the soldiers move in for the arrest. In the second act of violence by a disciple of Jesus, Peter himself takes out a sword, strikes at a soldier, and cuts off his ear. Jesus will have none of it. "Put back your sword, for those who take up the sword will surely perish by the sword." These are the last words of Jesus to the church before he was executed, and it’s the first time they recognize the depth of his nonviolence. What do they do? They all run away.
Mohandas Gandhi regularly read the Sermon on the Mount and said "If I had to face only the Sermon on the Mount and my own interpretation of it, I should not hesitate to say, ‘O yes, I am a Christian.'  However, the behavior of many who call themselves Christians led to the following observation from the Indian independence leader: "It is a first class human tragedy that people of the earth who claim to believe in the message of Jesus, whom they describe as the Prince of Peace, show little of that belief in actual practice."

How many of us follow Christ's command to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us? When we say the Lord's prayer do we understand and internalize that "If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."

In a speech the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave in St. Augustine in 1964 he described both this kind of love and the impracticability of violence:     
 "Its difficult advice and in some quarters it isn't too popular to say it...Let us recognize that violence is not the answer. I must say to you tonight that violence is impractical...We have another method that is much more powerful and much more effective than the weapon of violence...Hate isn't our weapon either...I am not talking now about a weak love it would be nonsense for an oppressed people to love their oppressor in an affectionate sense I'm not talking about that too many people confuse the meaning of love when they go to criticizing the love ethic. ...I am talking about a love that is so strong that it becomes a demanding love. A love that is so strong that it organizes itself into a mass movement and says somehow I am my brothers keeper and he is so wrong that I am willing to suffer and die to get him right and to see that he is on the wrong road."
In 2011 a young Serb activist explained people power within a strategic framework but at the same time the attitude of this activist also speaks volumes. Nonviolent resistance is not easy because it transforms the natural outrage over injustice, tyranny and brutality into nonviolent power driven by love.

Today in places like Cuba and Venezuela courageous men and women are picking up their cross in the struggle for liberation and justice while at the same time rejecting hatred and embracing nonviolence.  True reconciliation is based on principles and justice if it is to be a real and lasting peace. Nonviolent resistance is the means to achieve it without committing new injustices.

Monday, April 14, 2014

New Boss Same As The Old Boss: Castroism's International Projection 1959 - 2014

Presented at the Institute of Cuban and Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami on April 14, 2014
Fidel Castro lounging with war criminal Mengistu Haile Mariam, in Ethiopia in 1977
The dictatorship in Cuba has been in power for 55 years. Despite being an island just 90 miles south of the United States it has projected itself internationally to undermine democratic and international human rights standards over that time working through international institutions such as the UN Human Rights Council. 

In the 1960s the Castro regime organized meetings in Havana, Cuba gathering guerrillas and terrorists from around the world with a common aim to destabilize governments by means of armed struggle and terrorism was viewed as a legitimate tactic. They were called gatherings of the Tricontinental.


Many focus on the Castro regime’s involvement in Angola in the 1970s backing a Marxist regime in battles against anti-communist guerrillas and the South African regime but fail to mention another important incursion in Africa.  In Ethiopia the Castro regime backed Mengistu Haile Mariam with advice, troops and high level visits by both Fidel and Raul Castro.  War crimes such as a provoked famine and the targeting of ideologically suspect children for mass killings led to downplaying the role of the Castro regime in the whole affair.  

In the 1970s in addition to supporting guerrillas and terrorists the Castro regime also began an unusual relationship with the military dictatorship in Argentina helping to block efforts to condemn it at the United Nations Human Rights Commission for thousands of leftists disappeared by the regime.

Fidel Castro conversing with Argentine military dictator and ally
 Reynaldo Benito Antonio Bignone Ramayón, brutal military dictator of Argentina between 1982 and 1983 (in the picture above with Fidel Castro). On April 20, 2010, the Argentine despot was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the kidnapping, torture, and murder of 56 people in a concentration camp.

In 1979 the Castro regime found success with the ouster of the Somoza regime and the entrance of Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas into Nicaragua. In the early 1980s Cubans had made inroads into Grenada in the Caribbean.

By the late 1980s with the collapse of their main subsidizer, the Soviet Union, and the Warsaw Pact the Castro regime was temporarily on the defensive. For the first time since 1959 they felt forced to allow the International Red Cross to visit prisons, allowed Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to enter Cuba in a formal visit as well as the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

The Castro regime had been one of the few voices applauding the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre in China congratulating them for "defeating the counterrevolutionary acts.".

These trends would change dramatically by the end of the 1990s with the warming relations with Mainland China throughout the 1990s and the arrival of Hugo Chavez to power in Venezuela in 1999.

For sake of brevity will highlight here some of the outrages perpetrated by the Castro regime within the United Nations Human Rights Council.

On March 28, 2008 the Castro regime’s delegation together with the Organization of Islamic Congress (OIC) successfully passed resolutions undermining international freedom of expression standards at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The non-invitation invitation of Manfred Nowak, the UN special rapporteur on torture, by the Cuban Ambassador and the Cuban Minister of Justice in January of 2009 to visit Cuba later that same year. Only to be put off without notice again and again through 2009 and 2010 leading to this expert missing opportunities to visit other countries and on June 9, 2010, making the following statement:
“I regret that in spite of its clear invitation, the Government of Cuba has not allowed me to objectively assess the situation of torture and ill-treatment in the country by collecting first-hand evidence from all available sources.”
On February 2, 2009 during the Universal Periodic Review of China the Cuban Ambassador, Juan Antonio Fernandez Palacios encouraged the Chinese regime to repress human rights defenders in China with more firmness.

On May 28, 2009 amidst a human rights crisis in Sri Lanka the Cuban government's diplomats took the lead and successfully blocked efforts to address the wholesale slaughter there.

On August 23, 2011 the Cuban government along with China, Russia and Ecuador voted against investigating gross and systematic human rights violations in Syria.

On February 5, 2012 ALBA Countries reiterated rejection of "foreign interference" in Syria's internal affairs, expressing support for President Bashar al-Assad and confidence that he would resolve the Syrian crisis. ALBA Countries include Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua. Meanwhile in Syria President al-Assad  engaged in massacres throughout the country

On June 1, 2012 at a Special Session on the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria with a special focus on the massacre in El-Houleh the Cuban regime and its allies took a stand against holding the Assad regime accountable for its gross and systematic human rights abuses.

Raul Castro with North Korea's Army Chief, General Kim Kyok-sik
On July 15, 2013: “Panama captured North Korean-flagged ship from Cuba with undeclared military cargo.”  On March 6, 2014 the United Nations released a report indicating that the Castro regime was in violation of international sanctions placed on North Korea and had not cooperated with the investigation.

On March 17, 2014 the UN Human Rights Council “was divided” in its discussion of the atrocities in North Korea between those who want the case to be elevated to the International Criminal Court and those who reject outright the existence of a commission of inquiry and conclusions. The Castro regime vigorously defended the North Korean regime and denounced the inquiry.

On March 21, 2014 at the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Castro dictatorship again applauded the human rights record of the People's Republic of China, and voted to block the effort of human rights defenders to hold a moment of silence for Cao Shunli. She was an activist who had tried to participate in China’s Universal Periodic Review, but was detained at the airport trying to get on a flight to attend the current session  and accused of "picking quarrels and provoking troubles." Within three months in detention and being denied medical care Cao Shunli died on March 14, 2014.

On March 28, 2014 at the United Nations Human Rights Council a resolution for “The promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests, tried to safeguard this right” passed but with the narrow defeat of amendments that would have watered it down led by South Africa with the backing of Algeria, Belarus, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Out of that list of countries the one with the closest relationship with South Africa is Cuba.  

Incidentally in the present crisis in Ukraine it is North Korea, Syria, and Cuba backing the Russian incursion into Crimea.

UN experts in the past justified the presence of outlaw regimes such as Cuba and North Korea in the UN Human Rights Council arguing that it would temper their behavior. Looking at the Cuban dictatorship’s track record and its successful undermining of international human rights standards one hopes that these experts will re-examine their assumptions.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Venezuela's Non-Violent Resistance 60 Days Later: #12F - #12A

"Today, we citizens went out massively and peacefully into the street in Caracas to once more find a brutal regime crackdown." - Maria Corina Machado, April 12, 2014 over twitter

Some of the Venezuelans killed since February 12, 2014
 Sixty Days later and Venezuelans by the tens of thousands are out in the streets marching on April12, 2014 for the future that they want. The march was organized by the student movement. What sparked these protests that have gone on for two months: violence and insecurity in Venezuelan society and the government's response which has involved shooting and torturing students.


Mildred Manrique: "Opposition march to Plaza Venezuela 1:06pm"

Remembering Day 1: 
On February 12, 2014 a national youth day in Venezuela student protesters were shot in the head and killed by government agents. Robert Redman, Juan Montoya (Juancho) and Bassil Alejandro Da Costa were all extra-judicially executed by collectives and officials of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) in an effort, apparently to use terror,  to shutdown the nonviolent student marches. Juancho, a member of a collective was caught in crossfire and killed by a government functionary. Others were tortured and one of the young detainees was raped with an assault rifle. The death toll now in the political protests is above 40 and scores of Venezuelan students have been detained and some disappeared.
 
Robert Redman (in circle) carrying shooting victim Bassil Dacosta on February 12
What did you do?
Sixty days later and the question raised by Robert Redman still moves many Venezuelans. Robert Redman, in the picture above carrying shooting victim, Bassil Alejandro Dacosta on February 12, 2014 was himself shot in the head and killed later that same day in Caracas but not before tweeting: "Today I was hit with a rock in the back, a helmet in my nose. I swallowed tear-gas, Carried the kid who died, and what did you do?" He was 31 years old.

The struggle for freedom and justice continues in Venezuela using nonviolent means. History has demonstrated how effective this method can be and Venezuelans are writing a new chapter today. Please take a moment to do your part and sign this petition.