Thursday, January 23, 2020

How Castro killed Orlando Zapata Tamayo and then sought to obliterate his memory.

"Since for the Communist there is no divine government, no absolute moral order, there are no fixed, immutable principles; consequently almost anything—force, violence, murder, lying—is a justifiable means to the “millennial” end. This type of relativism was abhorrent to me." - Martin Luther King Jr. (1958)



Recovering facts from the memory hole
Orlando Zapata Tamayo was tortured from 2003 until his death on February 23, 2010 but following his death the Castro regime continued the campaign to obliterate his memory in death. The Cuban dictatorship and their agents of influence continue to employee these tactics today. What was done to Orlando should be a cautionary tale to all who want to give Raul Castro, and his dictatorship, the benefit of the doubt.

Orlando's mom, Reina Luisa Tamayo, holds up son's bloodied shirt
Orlando Zapata Tamayo was moved around several prisons, including Quivicán Prison, Guanajay Prison, and Combinado del Este Prison in Havana. Amnesty International reported that on October 20, 2003 Orlando "was dragged along the floor of the Combinado del Este Prison by prison officials after he requested medical attention, leaving his back full of lacerations." Orlando managed to smuggle a letter out following a brutal beating that was published by Cubanet in April of 2004:

"My dear brothers in the internal opposition in Cuba. I have many things to say to you, but I did not want to do it with paper and ink, because I hope to go to you one day when our country is free without the Castro dictatorship. Long live human rights, with my blood I wrote to you so that this be saved as evidence of the savagery we are subjected to that are victims of the Pedro Luis Boitel political prisoners [movement]."*
This type of mistreatment went on for years. Orlando Zapata Tamayo was pushed into undergoing hunger strikes as a last measure to try to save his own life, and dignity as a human being.

Orlando began his last hunger strike on December 3, 2009 refusing to wear the uniform of a common prisoner. His books and food had been confiscated when he was transferred as punishment to Kilo 8 prison in Camagüey. 

Never for one moment were demands responded to by either his jailers or the political police. During the water only hunger strike in an effort to break his spirit officials denied him water for more than two weeks. 

He was also taken to the Amalia Simoni Hospital and left exposed in a room with the air conditioning set very cold which caused him to contract pneumonia which worsened his already critical condition. Orlando Zapata Tamayo died 82 days later on February 23, 2010.

Orlando died after seven years of beatings, torture and lengthening prison terms for continuing his human rights activism while imprisoned. The dictatorship than began its systematic aim to obliterate and denigrate him.

Cuban human rights defender and martyr Orlando Zapata Tamayo
Trivializing the aim of his hunger strike
The Castro regime's official media misrepresented what Orlando Zapata Tamayo had demanded claiming that he had died for: “a television, a personal kitchen, and a cell phone to call his family in order to end his hunger strike and regime sympathizers without citing the source repeat the claim.”1,2

Cuban political prisoner Abel Lopez Perez on December 3, 2009 was transferred to the same prison in Camaguey where Orlando Zapata Tamayo.  Abel briefly saw him and heard from other prisoners “that a few days before being taken away, Zapata stood up and shouted, ‘People, don’t let yourselves be lied to. Don’t believe anything that they tell you. I’m not demanding a kitchen or any of the things they took away from me. I’m demanding an improvement of treatment for all prisoners, and so you all know, I am going to die for it.’”3

When weighing the claims of the Castro regime, the official media, and agents of influence against a former Cuban political prisoner one should look at Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s background. This is a man who was arrested while on a hunger strike protesting the imprisonment of other prisoners of conscience who had been arrested with him in a December 2002 sit-in just days after he himself was released from prison in March of 2003. This fact, along with the rest of Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s trajectory as an activist would give more weight to Abel Lopez’s version of events than the dictatorship's.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo photographed with prominent Cuban dissidents.

Claimed that Orlando Zapata Tamayo was not a dissident despite having claimed so in the past
The Castro regime claimed that he was a common criminal and that he had never been a Cuban dissident. This necessitated ignoring that Orlando Zapata Tamayo had appeared photographed in the Cuban government’s own publication Los Disidentes, in photos prior to his 2003 arrest where he was recognized by officials as a dissident. The Spanish newspaper El Mundo carried a photo the day after the Cuban regime announced the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo with prominent Cuban dissidents. On January 29, 2004 Amnesty International outlined Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s past arrests:
“He has been arrested several times in the past. For example he was temporarily detained on 3 July 2002 and 28 October 2002. In November 2002 after taking part in a workshop on human rights in the central Havana park, José Martí, he and eight other government opponents were reportedly arrested and later released. He was also arrested on 6 December 2002 along with Oscar Elías Biscet, but was released on 8 March 2003. Most recently, he was arrested on the morning of 20 March 2003 whilst taking part in a hunger strike at the Fundación Jesús Yánez Pelletier, Jesús Yánez Pelletier Foundation, in Havana, to demand the release of Oscar Biscet and other political prisoners.”4
Orlando Zapata Tamayo: Before and after
Orlando Zapata Tamayo was murdered
Both Abel Lopez Perez and Reina Luisa Tamayo (Orlando's mother) charge that Cuban prison officials denied Orlando Zapata Tamayo water in an effort to break him. Reina Luisa Tamayo in an interview with Yoani Sanchez, hours after her son’s death denounced that officials had denied him water.5

Abel Lopez corroborates the charge describing what went on: “Before Zapata was checked into the hospital, he was regularly taking some vitamins. He was in a weak state of health. A military chief known as ‘Gordo’, who was the one responsible for ordering all of Zapata’s things to be taken out of the cell and to stop giving him water, also took his bottle of vitamins and poured all the pills down a drain. He told him, ‘Those who are in protest here don’t drink vitamins. I think those are pills sent to you by the Yankees so you can continue your hunger strike.’ Those were the exact words said to him, I verified them. His vitamins were taken away, as were any other medications. And they stopped giving him water for a while.”6

This type of practice was also documented in the 1966 death of Roberto López Chávez.7, 8 Denying water to a man on a water only hunger strike is cruel treatment that contributed to his death.

Libeling Orlando Zapata Tamayo outside of Cuba
Professor Salim Lamrani in his November 23, 2010 article “Cuba, the Corporate Media and the Suicide of Orlando Zapata Tamayo” in The Huffington Post libeled not only the late Orlando Zapata Tamayo but 75 Cuban prisoners of conscience as criminals while challenging the integrity of Amnesty International (AI). 

In his attack on Amnesty and these Cubans he fails to mention that the imprisoned activists were locked up allegedly for “publishing articles or giving interviews to US-funded media, communicating with international human rights organizations and having contact with entities or individuals viewed to be hostile.”9

International standards, outlined in The Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, provide guide posts as to what is a legitimate charge and what is illegitimate. The charges made against the 75 Cubans by the Cuban dictatorship, and repeated by Lamrani, fall far short. 

Other human rights organizations found that Cuba's state security laws violate these principles, illegitimately restricting fundamental rights and unjustly imprisoning Cubans.10

Fake News
It is a sad state of affairs that much of the international media in Cuba have not caught on to these practices and regurgitate the Castro regime's position without underlining the skepticism it merits. Instead some hedge their language rather than get at the facts of the matter.

Sources
  1. Weissert, Will “Cuba TV Report Denies Gov't Let Hunger Striker Die” Associated Press March 1, 2010 http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=9983762
  2. Parenti, Michael Parenti and Jrapko, Alicia “Cuban Prisoners, Here and There” MRZINE 4/15/2010 http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/pj150410.html republished by the Cuban Foreign Ministry at http://embacu.cubaminrex.cu/Default.aspx?tabid=18180 on 4/19/2010
  3. Felipe Rojas, Luis “Abel Remembers the Last Days of Zapata in a Prison of Camaguey” Crossing the Barbed Wire November 24, 2010 http://cruzarlasalambradaseng.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/abel-remembers-the-last-days-of-zapata-in-a-prison-of-camaguey/ 
  4. Amnesty International “CUBA Newly declared prisoners of conscience” January 29, 2004 http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/002/2004/en/308bf23e-d648-11dd-ab95-a13b602c0642/amr250022004en.html 
  5. Sanchez, Yoani “Orlando Zapata Tamayo's Mother Speaks After Her Son's Death” The Huffington Post February 24, 2010 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yoani-sanchez/orlando-zapata-tamayos-mo_b_475006.html
  6. Felipe Rojas, Luis “Abel Remembers the Last Days of Zapata in a Prison of Camaguey” Crossing the Barbed Wire November 24, 2010 http://cruzarlasalambradaseng.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/abel-remembers-the-last-days-of-zapata-in-a-prison-of-camaguey/
  7. Valladares, Armando Against All Hope: The Prison Memoirs of Armando Valladares (1st edition Knopf April 12, 1986) quote taken from (1st Edition Encounter Books April 1, 2001) pg. 379
  8. Glazov, Jamie United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror WND Books, 2009 Pg 48
  9. Amnesty International “Cuba: Five years too many, new government must release jailed dissidents” Amnesty International March 18, 2008 http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/cuba-five-years-too-many-new-government-must-release-jailed-dissidents-2
  10. Human Rights Watch New Castro, Same Cuba: Political Prisoners in the Post-Fidel Era November 18, 2009 HRW http://www.hrw.org/en/node/86554


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Ten years ago on February 23, 2010 prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo died on hunger strike in Cuba

"Long live human rights, with my blood I wrote to you so that this be saved as evidence of the savagery we are subjected to that are victims of the Pedro Luis Boitel political prisoners [movement]" - Orlando Zapata Tamayo, letter smuggled out April of 2004*

Orlando Zapata Tamayo 1967 - 2010
Orlando Zapata Tamayo was a human rights defender who was unjustly imprisoned in the Spring of 2003 and was tortured by Cuban prison officials and state security agents over the next six years and ten months. He died on February 23, 2010 following a prolonged hunger strike, aggravated by prison guards refusing him water in an effort to break his spirit. He is a victim of Cuban communism.

Cuban opposition leader Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, who was killed under suspicious circumstances on July 22, 2012, issued a statement the same day that Orlando died and appeared in a photograph holding up a photocopy of the martyred human rights defender name and image.
 

"Orlando Zapata Tamayo, died this afternoon, February 23, 2010, after suffering many indignities, racist slights, beatings and abuse by prison guards and State Security. Zapata was killed slowly over many days and many months in every prison in which he was confined. Zapata was imprisoned for denouncing human rights violations and for daring to speak openly of the Varela Project in Havana's Central Park. He was not a terrorist, or conspirator, or used violence. Initially he was sentenced to three years in prison, but after successive provocations and maneuvers staged by his executioners, he was sentenced to more than thirty years in prison." 
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas with photocopy image of Orlando Zapata Tamayo
 Remembering Orlando Zapata
Orlando Zapata Tamayo was born in Santiago, Cuba on May 15, 1967. He was by vocation a brick layer and also a human rights activist, a member of the Movimiento Alternativa Republicana, Alternative Republican Movement, and of the Consejo Nacional de Resistencia Cívica, National Civic Resistance Committee. Orlando gathered signatures for the Varela Project, a citizen initiative to amend the Cuban constitution using legal means with the aim of bringing Cuba in line with international human rights standards.
Amnesty International had documented how Orlando had been arrested several times in the past. For example he was temporarily detained on 3 July 2002 and 28 October 2002. In November of 2002 after taking part in a workshop on human rights in the central Havana park, José Martí, he and eight other government opponents were arrested and later released. He was also arrested on December 6, 2002 along with fellow prisoners of conscience Oscar Elías Biscet and Raúl Arencibia Fajardo.  
 
Dr. Biscet just released from prison a month earlier had sought to form a grassroots project for the promotion of human rights called "Friends of Human Rights." State security prevented them from entering the home of Raúl Arencibia Fajardo, Oscar Biscet, Orlando Zapata Tamayo,Virgilio Marante Güelmes and 12 others held a sit-in in the street in protest and chanted "long live human rights" and "freedom for political prisoners." They were then arrested and taken to the Tenth Unit of the National Revolutionary Police, Décima Unidad de La Policía Nacional Revolucionaria (PNR)

Orlando Zapata Tamayo was released three months later on March 8, 2003, but Oscar Elias Biscet, Virgilio Marante Güelmes, and Raúl Arencibia Fajardo remained imprisoned. On the morning of March 20, 2003 whilst taking part in a fast at the Fundación Jesús Yánez Pelletier, Jesús Yánez Pelletier Foundation, in Havana, to demand the release of Oscar Biscet and the other political prisoners. Orlando was taken to the Villa Marista State Security Headquarters.

He was moved around several prisons, including Quivicán Prison, Guanajay Prison, and Combinado del Este Prison in Havana. Where according to Amnesty International on October 20, 2003 Orlando was dragged along the floor of Combinado del Este Prison by prison officials after requesting medical attention, leaving his back full of lacerations. Orlando managed to smuggle a letter out following a brutal beating it was published in April of 2004:
"My dear brothers in the internal opposition in Cuba. I have many things to say to you, but I did not want to do it with paper and ink, because I hope to go to you one day when our country is free without the Castro dictatorship. Long live human rights, with my blood I wrote to you so that this be saved as evidence of the savagery we are subjected to that are victims of the Pedro Luis Boitel political prisoners [movement]."*
On May 18, 2004 Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Virgilio Marante Güelmes, and Raúl Arencibia Fajardo were each sentenced to three years in prison for contempt for authority, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in a one-day trial. Orlando Zapata Tamayo would continue his rebelliousness and his non-violent resistance posture while in prison and suffer numerous beatings and new charges of disobedience and disrespect leading to decades added to his prison sentence in eight additional trials.

Protests for Orlando Zapata Tamayo continue
Ten years have passed but the martyred Cuban human rights defender has not been forgotten. From the beginning the regime sought to put down and silence protests and acts of remembrance for him, but failed. In March of 2010 at the second Geneva Summit for Human Rights former prisoner of conscience Jose Gabriel Ramon Castillo testified to what had happened to Orlando Zapata. In Norway, regime agents became violent and created international controversy after a Cuban diplomat bit a young Norwegian-Cuban woman for trying to record her mom engaged in a protest remembering Orlando Zapata Tamayo in front of the Cuban Embassy in Oslo in May of 2010.

On September 30, 2010 the Canadian punk rock band I.H.A.D. released a song linking what happened to Orlando Zapata Tamayo to the indifference of Canadian tourists visiting Cuba asking the question: Where were you the day Orlando Zapata died? On May 10, 2012 the Free Cuba Foundation published a video accompanying the song, after receiving the band's permission, with images and song lyrics.
Rosa María Payá Acevedo remembers Orlando Zapata Tamayo in 2016.
On February 23, 2016 at the 8th edition of the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy Rosa María Payá gave the last presentation in which she remembered and honored the memory of Orlando Zapata Tamayo on the sixth anniversary of his passing. 

On 2/19/2018 twenty activists remember Orlando Zapata Tamayo
Four days prior to marking eight years to the day that Orlando Zapata died, activists inside Cuba took to protest in the streets with banners remembering the courageous and martyred human rights activist.
The Castro regime did all it could to eliminate the memory of this humble and good man. The dictatorship failed.

Next month let us once again honor and remember the brick layer and human rights defender by writing about him, organizing vigils and protests, and continuing his work for human rights in Cuba.

*Source: "Queridos hermanos míos de la oposición interna de Cuba", escribió Zapata en su misiva, "tengo muchas cosas que decirles, pero no he querido hacerlo por papel y tinta, pues espero ir a ustedes un día cuando nuestra patria sea libre y sin dictadura castrista. Vivan los derechos humanos, con mi sangre les escribí, para que la guarden como parte del salvajismo de que somos víctima el presidio político Pedro Luis Boitel". - "Golpiza y celda tapiada para Orlando Zapata"  La Habana, 22 de abril 2004 (María López, Lux Info Press / www.cubanet.org  

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Cubazuela: Maduro reveals once again that Venezuela is a Cuban colony

"To deprive man of freedom is to relegate him to the status of a thing, rather than elevate him to the status of a person. Man must never be treated as a means to the end of the state, but always as an end within himself." - Martin Luther King Jr. Stride to Freedom (1958)
Down with Cuban Imperialism in Latin America. Save Latin America
On January 20, 2020 Nicolas Maduro at the XX Meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission of the Cuba-Venezuela Integral Cooperation Agreement revealed the colonial status of his government: "I've told our older brother and protector, Raúl Castro Ruz, and he agrees. And it has been discussed in this mixed commission and we agree. The ambassadors are practically part of the Council of Ministers, the ambassador of Cuba has open doors in each ministry to coordinate, to move forward."
This has been a long term objective of the Castro brothers. The Cuban dictatorship beginning in 1959 had strategic designs on taking over Venezuela to exploit its natural resources in order to magnify its regional impact.

On January 23, 1963 Cuban Communist leader Blas Roca made it public when he told a Havana rally that when the communists gained full control in Venezuela and they “make themselves owners of the great riches in oil, aluminum and everything their earth imprisons, then all of America shall burn.”  A cache of three tons of weapons was found on a Venezuelan beach in November 1963 that was to be used to disrupt the democratic elections there.

Fidel Castro would continue to agitate for revolution in Venezuela. A well documented incident occurred on May 8, 1967 and was reported in The Washington Post that described how: "two small boats carrying a dozen heavily armed fighters made landfall near Machurucuto, a tiny fishing village 100 miles east of the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. Their plan was to march inland and recruit Venezuelan peasants to the cause of socialist revolution." An all night gun battle with the Venezuelan military led to nine guerrillas dead, two captured, and one who had escaped.


Cuban Commandant Ramiro Valdes and President Hugo Chavez
Venezuelans successfully defended themselves from repeated ventures, and the Castro regime relented pledging not to attempt the violent overthrow of the democracy, but years later they succeeded with Hugo Chavez at the ballot box what they had failed to do through force of arms.

In 1992 Hugo Chavez was involved in a failed coup against the Andres Perez government. Pardoned by Andres Perez's successor, Rafael Caldera, in March 1994 Hugo Chavez made his way to Cuba later that same year where he was received by Fidel Castro as a hero not a failed coup plotter.


Fidel Castro greets Hugo Chavez in Cuba on December 13, 1994
Four years later, in a reaction to generalized disgust with the corruption endemic to the Venezuelan democratic order epitomized by the Carlos Andres Perez administration the former coup plotter was elected president.  President Caldera, who pardoned Chavez, handed power over to him in 1999. Together with Fidel Castro, as a mentor, Chavez began the process of turning a flawed democratic order into the regime it is today.

Maduro's action on Monday, was just the latest statement echoing what Hugo Chávez had already announced. In 2007 Chávez had declared that Cuba and Venezuela were a single nation. “Deep down,” he said, “we are one single government.”  

In February 2010  Ramiro Valdés Menéndez, then age 77, was hired "as a consultant for that country's energy crisis" but his expertise is not in energy.  Valdes was the Vice President of the Council of State and Minister of Communications in the Cuban government. His role in Communications was figuring out in 2007 a way to muzzle the internet, what he called a "wild colt of new technologies."

Nicolas Maduro and Ramiro Valdes
Commander Ramiro Valdes, founder of the Castro regime's feared Ministry of the Interior, head of the organization between 1961 and 1968 and was viewed by some as "the No. 3 man in the Cuban hierarchy." He is the architect of Cuban totalitarianism's repressive apparatus and assisted Chavez and Maduro in building the Venezuelan version.    

The Castro regime turned Venezuela into their colony. Today it is Cuban occupied territory.

Caracas Chronicles is right when it observes: "Amazing how everything the left accuses the U.S. of wanting to do in Venezuela —siphon off oil wealth, install a puppet dictator, run hundreds of spies, crush democratic institutions— is stuff Cuba is *actually* doing. And has been. For years."

Thousands of Cuban military advisers and intelligence officials assisted the Chavez and Maduro regime's consolidate power to entrench the dictatorship in Venezuela. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has described it as "being like an occupation army."

Maduro and the Castro regime are attempting to complete the installation of a communist dictatorship in Venezuela. One of the instruments that these regimes have used to subjugate populations is famine and rationing food to those who are loyal and denying it to those who are not.

Famine is a tool communists have traditionally used to remake societies. 

The deadliest famines in the 20th century were not in Africa but in Europe (Ukraine) and China.
Social science research has demonstrated that famines "happen only with some degree of human complicity."  Human decisions "determine whether a crisis deteriorates into a full-blown famine."

Jean Pierre Planchart malnourished inVenezuela. Pic: Dr. Livia Machad
In the case of Venezuela, Chávez and Maduro destroyed the market in food by imposing price controls "that resulted in underproduction when the official prices did not meet costs of production. Their governments expropriated farms, ranches, and even food distributors such as butchers. There’s very little if anything produced on these expropriated territories." Rhoda Howard-Hassmann's article "Famine in Venezuela" published on August 21, 2018 in the World Peace Foundation reports:
"By 2017 malnutrition was confirmed in Venezuela, precipitating the political unrest now roiling the country. According to Antulio Rosales (“Weaponizing Hunger is a New Low for the Venezuelan President,” Globe and Mail, March 12, 2018, p.A11) and Enrique Krauze (“Hell of a Fiesta,” New York Review of Books, March 8, 2018, pp. 4-7), by early 2018 more than half of all Venezuelans had lost between 19 and 24 pounds, and 90 per cent said they do not have enough money for food."
Despite this reality, on February 4, 2018 Maduro shipped 100 tons of aid to Cuba. Maduro's regime issued ration cards for food in a country were mass hunger is an ever present reality and it is understood by many that following regime instructions, such as going to vote in the last sham election, was necessary to be eligible for rations.  The electoral calculus was clear: "Everyone who has this card must vote," said Nicolas Maduro and continued, "I give and you give."

This is a very old playbook.

According to Felix Wemheuer, professor of Modern China Studies at the University of Cologne, in his book Famine Politics in Maoist China and the Soviet Union," during the twentieth century, 80 percent of all famine victims worldwide died in China and the Soviet Union." 


Maduro, and his Cuban allies issued denials about the extent of the problem of hunger in Venezuela. The rejection and destruction of humanitarian assistance combined with images of tons of humanitarian assistance shipped from Venezuela to Cuba appears bizarre, but it needs to be placed in the context of previous episodes involving other communist regimes.

Both the USSR and China used Western journalists, such as Walter Duranty in Moscow and Edgar Snow in Beijing to deny that a famine was taking place and to defend the official lies of the regime. This practice continues today in Cuba, Venezuela and elsewhere.


Fidel Castro lounging with Mengistu Haile Mariam, in Ethiopia in 1977
In Ethiopia, Mengistu Haile Mariam's regime, reproduced Soviet and Chinese practices when he blacked out communications, and refused access to aid agencies.

In December 1979, during an Ethiopian military offensive, this time including Soviet advisors and Cuban troops, it “was more specifically directed against the population’s means of survival, including poisoning and bombing waterholes and machine gunning herds of cattle.”

Worse yet, as starvation took hold in Ethiopia, Mengistu ordered planeloads of whisky to celebrate the tenth anniversary of his taking power. Denying that a famine was taking place. Once that could no longer be denied he then used the famine as a cover for ethnic cleansing and removing opponents.


Despite all of this the Castro regime on too many occasions is being given a pass, and this is not only a disservice to Cubans, suffering under a 61 year old dictatorship, but also to Venezuelans that have been colonized by the Castro regime.
  

Monday, January 20, 2020

Martin Luther King's Radical Anticommunism: Selected quotes on Communism (1956 - 1967)

“Words have the power to make things happen.” - Frederick Buechner
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Annual Service of Tribute 2020
 Yesterday attended the National Cathedral's observance of the "Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Annual Service of Tribute." During the service there were readings from Letter from Birmingham Jail mixed with recorded excerpts of Reverend Dr. King reading it. There was also a lot of music, and calls to continue the work towards achieving the beloved community. 

Today, over social media the debates and exchanges with different sides attempting to claim him as their own. Yet, when he died on April 4, 1968 he was being targeted by all sides. Today, as in 1968, the words communist and socialist get thrown around a lot. 


Many know of the FBI wiretapping Martin Luther King Jr., monitoring of the Civil Rights Movement, and active measures against the civil rights leader but fewer know of the campaign waged against him by Soviet intelligence, also known as the KGB. The reality is that he challenged both systems.

Many are aware of Reverend King's radical criticisms of Capitalism, but how many remember his radical criticisms of Communism?  Radical is defined here as going to the roots. Below are some of the key statements made by Reverend King on communism over the decade he was most politically active. 
"You cannot solve the problem by turning to communism, for communism is based on an ethical relativism and a metaphysical materialism that no Christian can accept. You can work within the framework of democracy to bring about a better distribution of wealth." - Martin Luther King Jr. Paul's Letter to American Christians (1956)

"Communism, avowedly secularistic and materialistic, has no place for God.4 This I could never accept, for as a Christian I believe that there is a creative personal power in this universe who is the ground and essence of all reality—a power that cannot be explained in materialistic terms. History is ultimately guided by spirit, not matter." - Martin Luther King Jr. Stride to Freedom (1958)

"Since for the Communist there is no divine government, no absolute moral order, there are no fixed, immutable principles; consequently almost anything—force, violence, murder, lying—is a justifiable means to the “millennial” end.5 This type of relativism was abhorrent to me." - Martin Luther King Jr. Stride to Freedom (1958)
 "Constructive ends can never give absolute moral justification to destructive means, because in the final analysis the end is pre-existent in the mean."  - Martin Luther King Jr. Stride to Freedom (1958)
"In communism the individual ends up in subjection to the state. True, the Marxist would argue that the state is an “interim” reality which is to be eliminated when the classless society emerges; but the state is the end while it lasts, and man only a means to that end. And if any man’s so-called rights or liberties stand in the way of that end, they are simply swept aside."  - Martin Luther King Jr. Stride to Freedom (1958)

"His liberties of expression, his freedom to vote, his freedom to listen to what news he likes or to choose his books are all restricted. Man becomes hardly more, in communism, than a depersonalized cog in the turning wheel of the state." - Martin Luther King Jr. Stride to Freedom (1958)

"Man is not made for the state; the state is made for man. To deprive man of freedom is to relegate him to the status of a thing, rather than elevate him to the status of a person. Man must never be treated as a means to the end of the state, but always as an end within himself." - Martin Luther King Jr. Stride to Freedom (1958)

"Listen to Lenin as he says 'Lying, deceit, violence, concealing and withholding the truth are all justifiable means to bring about the end of the classless society.'  This is the great weakness and tragedy of communism and any other system that argues that the end justifies the means, for in a real sense, the end is pre-existent in the means; the means represent the ideal in the making, and the end in process. In the long run of history, immoral means cannot bring about moral ends. Destructive means cannot bring about constructive goals." - Martin Luther King Jr. Address to Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa (1962) 
Cornell College (1962)
“If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.” - MLK Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963)
 "This is the faith I commend to you Christians here in Berlin. A living, active, massive faith that affirms the victory of Jesus Christ over the world, whether it be an Eastern world or a Western world." - Martin Luther King Jr. East or West – God’s Children (1964)
 "There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.  This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism." - Martin Luther King Jr. Beyond Vietnam (1967)
"We must not engage in a negative anticommunism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy [applause], realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice." - Martin Luther King Jr. Beyond Vietnam (1967)

"We must with positive action seek to remove those conditions of poverty, insecurity, and injustice, which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops." - Martin Luther King Jr. Beyond Vietnam (1967)

"As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems."- Martin Luther King Jr. Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence (1967)  
Martin Luther King Jr. (1967)
Martin Luther King Jr. had a radical critique of American society, but despite his own claims at times, was not a revolutionary. He repeatedly challenged the United States to live up to its own aspired ideals and sought through nonviolent action and democratic norms, reforms to end segregation and ensure voting rights for African AmericansReverend King's political outlook could best be described as falling within what is called Christian Democracy. This political school occupies the center with parties on the center left and the center right, but like Reverend King are based on a Christian view of humanity in which "every individual is considered unique and must be treated with dignity."

Mohandas Gandhi, who greatly influenced King, also spoke of social responsibility and trusteeship. He also warned that the state was a "soulless machine" that did not look out for the poor. Gandhi, a self-described socialist, was not an enthusiastic proponent of an expanded social-welfare state. Reverend King spoke of social democracy with an emphasis on democracy, but he also spoke of the need to shift "from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society."

The critique made by both King and Gandhi of a "thing-oriented" society or the state as a "soulless machine" looks to the person or the individual not an economic mechanism  or economic class.  The focus is on the human person and polices that recognize and respect the uniqueness of each human being and their dignity.

The Konrad Adeneur Foundation in their publication Christian Democracy: Principles and Policy Making offers a vision of this made reality in what is known as the social market economy.  This is a departure from a strict market economy, focused on individuals as economic units and one that is arrived at through a process of reforms, not revolution.

This was a challenge to the existing order of the United States, but one that rejected communism, and that was rooted in the Christian tradition.  Perhaps, this is what scared so many powerful people.

Why do you think both the FBI and the KGB targeted Martin Luther King Jr.? Please leave a comment below.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Fake elections in Cuba

Fraudulent change in Cuba, the latest example

 
Yesterday, this blog revealed that the last free election held in Cuba was in 1950. Today we translate the tweet from independent journalist and blogger Yoani Sanchez who briefly reports on yesterday's vote as follows:
#Cuba Without the possibility of choosing between one candidate and another, without announcing the names previously, without campaign proposals, without a program for future action, without access to the accredited press ... so were the "votes" for governors in this island...
 Below is the original tweet in Spanish:


The so-called election of provincial governors and vice-governors was a fake election and Cubans are tired of these fraudulent exercises that are now in their 61st year.