Sunday, October 19, 2014

Remembering the Messenger of Truth 30 Years Later: Father Jerzy Popiełuszko

"A man who tells the Truth is a free man despite external slavery, imprisonment or custody." -  Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko, Sermon,  October 31, 1982  

Crowd in Warsaw pay its respects for Jerzy Popiełuszko (photo: Mario F Lleonart)
Thirty years ago today on October 19, 1984 the communist regime in Poland murdered a saint in the expectation that they could hang on to power. They had murdered Father Jerzy Popiełuszko for being the chaplain to the fledging Solidarity Movement. They had thought killing a symbol of freedom and terrorizing the Polish people would silence the opposition. They counted wrong. Less than five years later on June 4, 1989 Poland would be the first country in Eastern Europe to hold free elections and sweep the communists from power nonviolently.

This was due in no small part to the teachings of the martyred priest Jerzy Popieluszko who called for an authentic reconciliation:
"Our Fatherland and respect of human dignity must be the common objective for reconciliation. You must unite in reconciliation in the spirit of love, but also in the spirit of justice. As the Holy Father said five years ago, no love exists without justice. Love is greater than justice and at the same time finds reassurance in justice."
Thirty years after his murder and twenty five years during which Poland has emerged as a successful and free nation thousands of Poles gathered to pay their respects and visiting from Cuba Mario Felix Lleonart reported over twitter:
"This Sunday was very special in Warsaw for 30th anniversary of the murder of Jercy Popieluzko, and in the night the multitude still surrounded the tomb of the martyr Jercy Popieluzko."
Crowds at the tomb ofFather Jercy Popieluzko tonight (photo: Mario Felix Lleonart)

2014 Oslo Freedom Forum: Defeating Dictators October 20 - October 22, 2014

Talks at the Oslo Freedom Forum will be livestreamed on, beginning at 9:30am CET on October 21.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

9:45 CET  Ideas for Empowerment – Oslo Nye Theater  
The sixth annual Oslo Freedom Forum kicks off with a session featuring individuals advocating for human rights from unorthodox perspectives.
Musical performance: The Honey Trees
Keynote Speaker:
Bassem Youssef
Speakers:Yulia Marushevska I Am a Ukrainian
Suleiman Bakhit Superheroes Against Extremism 
Yeonmi Park North Korea's Black Market Generation
Jeffrey Wright Mining in Africa for the 21st Century

12:00 CET Tyrants and Technology – Oslo Nye Theater
Panelists will focus on how advances in communication technologies are continually changing the struggle between dissidents and dictators.
Moderator: Philippa Thomas
Panel: Nico Sell Escape the Internet
Michael Anti China's Information War
Mac-Jordan Degadjor Africa's Tech Frontier
CJ Adams Shielding Free Speech Online

15:00 CET Defying the Establishment – Oslo Nye Theater
The first day of the forum concludes with a session on disrupting political and social norms across the globe.
Tanele Maseko Greetings from Cell G4
Marcela Turati Muñoz The Price of Mexico's Drug War
Ti-Anna Wang Fighting For My Father's Freedom
Erdem Gunduz The Standing Man
 Jon Callas The Revolution Will Be Encrypted 
 Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova A Conversation with Pussy Riot

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

9:30 CET Journeys to Freedom – Oslo Nye Theater
The second day opens with speakers sharing the struggles and challenges they have faced on the path to freedom.
Speakers:Mikhail Khodorkovsky For Your and Our Freedom. 1968-2014
Hyeonseo Lee A North Korean Rescue Story
Shorna Shahida Akter Wedding Busters
Fatou Jaw Manneh The Gambia's Silenced Dissent
 Janet Hinostroza Rise of an Elected Autocrat >

11:45 CET Dangerous Words – Oslo Nye Theater 
Remarks by Bård Glad Pedersen, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Norway.
Panelists will discuss why and how free expression is constantly at risk in today’s world.
Moderator: Michael Moynihan
Speakers:Emily Parker Voices from the Internet Underground
Frederica Jansz Sri Lanka's Deadly Profession
Flemming Rose Free Speech in a Globalized World
Ian Birrell Sticks, Stones, and Broken Bones

14:30 CET The Hope of Peaceful Resistance – Oslo Nye Theater
The conference closes with stories about the power and theory behind nonviolent action. 
Speakers:Garry Kasparov Banks Not Tanks
Yoani Sánchez Cuba's Underground Revolution
Jamila Raqib The Success of Nonviolent Struggle
Steven Pinker The Better Angels of Our Nature 

16:00 CET 2014 Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent – Oslo Nye Theater 


Erdem Gunduz
Pussy Riot
Dhondup Wangchen
Musical performance: Lissie

Cuban rapper sentenced to six years in prison for his critical songs

"Art is inherently political. It is always political. It has always been political.It has political aspects. And that which we term political art only enhances that political aspect of art. It is taking up political themes and makes these themes its own." - Petr Motyčka, Art, Society, and Politics: Artists or Activists?, Forum 2000
Angel Yunier Remón Arzuaga sentenced to 6 years
Cuban dissident and rapper Angel Yunier Remón Arzuaga, whose stage name is "el Critico del Arte" (the 'Art Critic'), on October 15, 2014 was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment in a judicial process that fell far short of international standards. Angel was tear gassed and arrested on March 21, 2013, for criticizing the Castro regime and jailed since that time in conditions that can only be described as inhumane.  El Critico, is a member of the rap duo: Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso (The Children that no one wanted). Other members of the group were targeted by regime agents.

One of them Rodolfo Ramirez, known by his rapping name as El Primario, member of the hip-hop duo El Primario y Julito, was the victim of a brutal beating which left him with memory loss and serious injuries on his head. The attack occurred on July 21, 2013 at the Malecon (Sea wall) of Havana.

Meanwhile, Angel's plight has been documented by Free Muse, an organization that advocates freedom of expression for musicians and the Czech NGO, People in Need. An example of the lyrics that got the Art Critic into trouble can be found in the song "Mi Delito" (My Crime) were provided by People in Need and are excerpted below:
I did not invent the acts of repudiation
I did not sink the 13 de Marzo tug
I was not the one who killed Boitel 
I am not guilty for Mariel
I do not repress those who think differently
I did not lock up 75 innocent people
Look how many offenses you have kept hidden under lock and key
Yes this is my crime
To talk about what you have not.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cafe Tacvba in Miami: 25 years later and still rocking

Amazing show last night at the Gusman Theater with Cafe Tacvba

Café Tacvba at Olympia Theater at the Gusman on October 16, 2014
Its been twenty years since I ran into Cafe Tacvba outside of WQBA before they went to do an interview and was able to congratulate them on what was already their amazing sound. Never thought that two decades later the band would still be making great music with a 25 year back catalog of rich experimentation in music. 

On the opening night in Miami of the iconic Mexican rock band Cafe Tacvba tour celebrating 25 years since its founding the audience displayed a banner throughout the concert that ended up on stage that read "We are all Ayotzinapa - 43 WITH LIFE - Florida is with you AYOTZINAPA" in solidarity with a large group of students disappeared in Mexico and which Amnesty International has declared an urgent action on their behalf.

The tour continued tonight in Atlanta, Georgia and will be in Washington DC on the 18th of October and New York City on 19th of October. Visit their website for a full breakdown of their tour. If you can try to catch them live. Its a great show.

Below is the set list from last night with links to videos of their music.

Café Tacvba 
Setlist at Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts
Miami, FL, USA
  1. Pez
  2. (Leo Dan cover)

Conversations between two men who changed the world: Vaclav Havel & Adam Michnik

"I believe that a man can only be useful to his country when he can look at it clearly." - Pyotr Chaadayev, Russian cultural figure
Adam Michnik, Elzbieta Matynia and Martin Palouš at FIU on 10/15/14
The School of International and Public Affairs at FIU on October 15, 2014 hosted an event of great importance for democracy activists the world over. Beginning in the 1970s following the signing of the Helsinki Accords East German dissidents would meet and discuss human rights, the power of the powerless, and how to confront totalitarianism using nonviolent means.

Two of the intellectual heavy weights at these gatherings were Vaclav Havel and Adam Michnik who also engaged in a conversation via correspondence that is the subject of the book  An Uncanny Era: Conversations between Václav Havel and Adam Michnik edited, translated, and introduced by Elzbieta Matynia.

Two books that I would also highly recommend to any pro-democracy activist are Letters from Prison and other essays by Adam Michnik and The Power of the Powerless by Vaclav Havel. Together they will open your eyes and hearts to the opportunities in defending human dignity and resisting tyranny with the power of the powerless that is living in truth.

Adam Michnik is editor-in-chief of the Warsaw daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. Writer and dramatist Václav Havel (1936–2011) was the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic. Elzbieta Matynia is professor of sociology at the New School for Social Research in New York City and at the University of Lower Silesia in Wroclaw, Poland. Martin Palouš was the Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations. He was also a founding member of the Civic Forum and one of the first signers of Charter 77. He is President of the Václav Havel Library Foundation in New York and has a close relationship with Florida International University.

Below are video excerpts of the event which touched on advice to Cuban democrats, Eastern European transitions, Lukashenko, Putin and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine: