Saturday, April 28, 2012

Was another Cuban human rights defender murdered by the Castro regime?

Another prominent Cuban dissident dies under suspicious circumstances. Was it an extrajudicial killing or natural causes? Will international pressure lead to a  full accounting?

Document published in original Spanish in Notes from a journalist by Angelica Mora, Palabra Cubana and PayoLibre

Urgent Appeal to Public Opinion and the International Community. 

Democratic Municipal Circles of Cuba, in coordination with the Council of Human Rights Rapporteurs of Cuba make known the following:

Council of Rapporteurs activist Sergio Díaz Larrastegui, died this past April 19, 2012 at the Julio Trigo Hospital in Arroyo Naranjo in Havana, Cuba.

He died in the shadows, under the control of Cuban State Security.

The so-called doctor who informed us of the death was very nervous to the point that he couldn’t hide his nervousness. When asked of what did he die? He replied: I don’t know, look we're going to put that he died of liver failure and then do the autopsy and we’ll know. One cannot help but note that Sergio had an almost full recovery within the 3 or 4 last days and remained up all night talking coherently with nurses and a female friend who was allowed to accompany him until two days before the crime.

Furthermore his dynamism, including blood pressure worked perfectly, all the time at 110 with 80. And his kidneys and digestion when he was admitted also functioned acceptably. Sergio was blind, physically of black skin, measuring 1 m, 80 cm tall and was 54 years old.

There was no indication of any illness that would compromise his life or would take him to the risk of death, until only four weeks ago, when, ignoring our warnings that they were going to murder him, he was admitted for10 days to the Julio Trigo Hospital and under the control of the Political Police was diagnosed with decompensated cirrhosis of the liver, at which time he was discharged and sent home without any medical treatment. This forced us, his friends to take him back to the hospital in which they indicated some medicines, which could not be supplied, since at the start of the treatment he died.

Díaz Larrastegui had been threatened with reprisals on many occasions by the Government for maintaining our human rights center at his home. That and his refusal to work for State Security, who had demanded that he place microphones and cameras inside his home and inform them of everyone who visited us, it cost him to be fired from his workplace in Copestel and that they kept him under [constant harassment that amounted to] state terrorism.

The medical facility remained at all times under the control of officers of the Political Police, to the point that the elevator operator asked, what are all these people doing here? Pointing to a makeshift office in the very entrance of the Fifth A hall, where various officials remained and from where the soldiers monitored all of his activity.



The death of Sergio means the destruction of the headquarters of our Council and the most damaging blow in our 5 years of monitoring in the Cuban capital.

We demand from the Cuban government a detailed, written explanation of the causes and conditions that occasioned the death of our dear brother in the struggle, Mr. Sergio Díaz Larrastegui.

Now we’ll wait for the next sentence of murder to fall on independent journalist Tania Maceda Guerra, Juan Carlos González Leiva or the elderly Petra Serafina Díaz Castillo, who welcomed us into her home, because we are the main supporters and promoters of all the work of the CRDHC.

This blind, master of the English language, independent journalist, and creditor of other titles in Japanese, Spanish and French languages, enters to swell the long list of those murdered by the Cuban government or opposition and discontented dead in dark conditions or under suspicion of political crimes. Like the well known cases of: the leader of the Ladies in White, Laura Pollán, Orlando Zapata, Wilman Villar and Wilfredo Soto, and the victims of the “13 de marzo” tugboat.

Sergio Díaz Larrastegui for defending human rights resisted the tyranny of the Castros and suffered martyrdom as one more victim of political repression, for that all Cuba should remember him always as one of its heroes and martyrs.


Maranatha.


God bless Cuba in Christ.

Juan Carlos González Leiva. Executive Secretary. 
Tania Maceda Guerra. Secretary of the Organization.
Leticia Ramos Herrería. Secretary for Culture and Information.
Pedro Enrique Martínez Machado. Vice-president for the Eastern Region. 
Virgilio Mantilla Arango Vice-president for the Central Region. 
Raúl Borges Álvarez Secretary for the care of the prisons.
Maiquel Alexander Hernández Perdigón. Vice-president for the Western Region.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Courageous Ferrer García Family

A tale of two brothers and their sister

"You have to pay a great cost but it is worth it to pay it. Because when you live in a nation when the most elemental rights are violated to submit to it, I think is to pay a greater cost then to confront those who violate those rights. That is to say that I have made mine a phrase by Henry Thoreau, the North American writer. I used it a lot in prison when they asked me why I didn't accept the proposal made to me to leave the country in order to leave the prison. I always said, like Thoreau, that in a country where fundamental rights are violated the best place for an honorable man is a prison. I preferred prison to being on the street and witness that my people's rights are being violated and do nothing." - José Daniel Ferrer García, February 13, 2012 Estado SATS

Luis Enrique Ferrer García, Ana Belkis Ferrer García, and José Daniel Ferrer García before the 2003 crackdown

The Castro regime wanted to execute José Daniel Ferrer García in 2003 requesting the death penalty in a show trial but the international outcry caused them to back down and sentence him to a 25 year prison sentence instead. After the untimely and sinister death of Cuban Lady in White founder, Laura Inés Pollán Toledo on October 14, 2011 the threat to José Daniel's life cannot be underestimated. Like Laura Pollán,  José Daniel has a nonviolent strategic vision and an ability to mobilize and organize people combined with great courage. He has founded the opposition movement the Patriotic Union of Cuba. In the midst of a violent crackdown in August of 2011 Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia made the following call to action for a free Cuba over twitter:
  • To democratize Cuba we should obtain the massive growth of the resistance. For the resistance to become massive we need rapid and effective communication with the populace.
  • To achieve change in Cuba, we have to reach the people. For rapid communication with the populace, we need the technical means.
  • We cannot advance more in the democratization of our homeland for lack of technical means and the resources for them.
  • There is no struggle for the good without loses and without risks. Who fears the risks never will achieve any advance in the struggle. Being careful is one thing, not risking is something very different. Great achievements are not obtained without great sacrifice.



Conversation on SATS with Berta Soler and José Daniel Ferrer García (In Spanish)

Yoani Sanchez in her latest blog post: “Why José Daniel?” has written a beautiful and moving tribute about José Daniel Ferrer García, a brave hero, describing his relevance and current threat to the Castro regime but much more needs to be said about this courageous man and his equally brave brother Luis Enrique Ferrer García and sister Ana Belkis Ferrer García.

They were born into a working class family in the neighborhood of Manganeso in Santiago de Cuba. Fisherman, who like their Biblical counterparts, became the fishers of men. Both brothers began their activism in the opposition in the Movimiento Cubano de Jóvenes por la Democracia (Cuban Youth for Democracy Movement), and by the mid nineties had become members of Movimiento Cristiano Liberación (Christian Liberation Movement), as a leader of which José Daniel emerged in Santiago de Cuba and Luis Enrique in Las Tunas.

Both Jose Daniel and Luis Enrique were regional leaders who also became regional organizers of the Varela Project. They both played in important role in persuading and organizing other Cubans to knock on doors and get their fellow citizens to sign their names and giver their identity numbers in a petition demanding democratic and human rights reforms to the Cuban Constitution. Ten years ago this May 10, the first batch of 11,020 signatures were turned into the National Assembly. Less than a year later the majority of the organizers of this initiative were rounded up beginning on March 18, 2003. Seven months later more than another 14,000 signatures were turned in.

Both Ferrer Garcia brothers would face summary trials and a hostile courtroom. Both men demonstrated their courage during their respective show trials.

During Luis Enrique’s show trial on April 3, 2003 in Las Tunas, the tribunal asked him if he had anything to say in his defense. He stood up and explained to the regime’s representatives what the Varela Project consisted of: an independent citizen initiative that sought a referendum to reestablish basic rights. At the end of his explanation he invited them to sign the petition stating, “Because this is a project open to all Cubans.” Luis Enrique Ferrer received the longest prison sentence of all of those arrested in the March 2003 crackdown. He was sentenced to 28 years’ imprisonment. He was transferred from "El Típico" provincial prison in Las Tunas to the Combinado del Este prison after being involved in a protest with other activists caught up in the March 2003 crackdown.

In the case of José Daniel Ferrer García, Cuban officials had announced that they would seek the death penalty against him because of his leadership position in the Project Varela initiative and its national impact. At his show trial José Daniel explained that he was willing to die for his convictions but that he did not think that they had the guts to do it. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Despite the harsh conditions and constant harassment by prison officials he continued his nonviolent resistance activism.


 Ana Belkis Ferrer García in 2010 denouncing treatment against her imprisoned brothers by the regime.

With both brothers in prison their sister Ana Belkis Ferrer García became active in the Ladies in White, a group of women that came into existence during the 2003 Black Spring and sought the freedom of their imprisoned loved ones. Confronting violent mobs with nonviolent resistance and persistence in regular protests and actions to demand their freedom. She would engage in solidarity hunger strikes when her brothers had gone on hunger strike do to some mistreatment they were suffering in order to highlight their plight.

José Daniel refused to be forced to choose between prison and exile. Luis Enrique suffering from ten chronic pathologies held out as long as he could but left with his wife and some of his family for exile while José Daniel remained in prison. They paid a price for wanting to stay. According to the agreement announced by the Catholic Church the last of the prisoners were supposed to have been freed on November 7, 2010 and Luis Enrique was only released into exile on November 19, 2010 and Jose Daniel was one of the last two of the group of the 75 to be released on March 24, 2011. Unlike many others who were taken from their prison cells to the airport, José Daniel was one of 12 who left his prison cell and returned home eight years after being unjustly imprisoned in The Black Spring.


Luis Enrique Ferrer García addresses human rights summit in Geneva in early 2011

His brother, Luis Enrique Ferrer García, campaigned for his release from exile and spoke at an international human rights conference in Geneva calling for his brother’s freedom. This also led to Jose Daniel's wife frustrated and outraged undergoing a hunger strike to demand her husband’s freedom. More than four months after the deadline he was finally released after more than eight years. Since the latest detention of José Daniel Ferrer García on April 2, 2012, his brother Luis Enrique has organized a campaign for his release and is tweeting both from his own account and his brother’s twitter account to raise awareness and solidarity.

Please be vigilant with regards to the plight of José Daniel Ferrer García and speak up for him because his life may very well depend on it. After 24 days in detention, Cuban officials have yesterday finally made known that they plan to accuse José Daniel of "public disturbances."

The charge of disturbing the peace places him in excellent company.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Where is the Panchen Lama? Chinese agents kidnapped a 6-year old child.

Where is Gedhun Choekyi Nyima?



 Agents of the People's Republic of China kidnapped a small child named Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. He was 6 years old in 1995 when he was recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, one of Tibet's most important religious leaders. Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was born on April 25, 1989 in central Tibet. As soon as he was recognized as the 11th Panchen Lama, Chinese authorities took him and his family into custody. A few other people, among them Chartral Rinpoche, the head of the search party were arrested and sentenced for leaking this information to the Dalai Lama.



For the past seventeen years, concerned people and human rights entities the world over have urged the government of the Peoples Republic of China to release the Panchen Lama to no avail. The whereabouts and well being of the Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is a serious concern and the regime in China should release him immediately.

Today is his 23rd birthday. His 17th birthday under detention with his whereabouts unknown.

Please speak out on his behalf and take action demanding his freedom.

Free the Panchen Lama!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Call for Real Freedom in Cuba Now

The document below, Enough of deceptions, FREEDOM NOW, was authored by Oswaldo Payá who is based in Havana, Cuba and is a leader within the Christian Liberation Movement that authored the Varela Project and has had a huge impact both inside and outside of Cuba with the signatures of more than 25,000 Cubans inside of Cuba signing a petition for the restoration of human rights in Cuba.

In this essay he makes reference to
the conference “A Dialogue between Cubans” which is the third part of a series of meetings organized by the Cuban Research Institute based out of Florida International University focused around the document: The Cuban Diaspora during the XXI century.

The first two meetings were held in
Miami on October 10, 2011 and in Madrid on March 13, 2012. This third meeting was held in Havana beginning on Thursday, April 18, 2012. Listening to videos from the two first gatherings that places the Cuban problem first and foremost into a question of US/Cuba relations and the belligerence of the exile community towards the Cuban regime and the lack of rights of migrants is placed in second place. It seeks to look at changes made between totalitarian regimes in China and Vietnam and their respective Diasporas. This ignores what in reality is the great obstacle to normalized relations between Cubans on and off the island: a totalitarian dictatorship that represses all Cubans.

Monsignor Agustín Román and Oswaldo Payá (2003)

Enough of deceptions, FREEDOM NOW

by Oswaldo Payá

The government of the military regime has denied Cubans the universal right to freedom of travel for more than half a century and continues denying this right without any transparent prospects of change. With the greatest cruelty, it has torn millions of Cuban families apart and it still continues doing it.

Government spokesmen for months have speculated about possible migration changes and some, as Mr. Ricardo Alarcon, President of the National Assembly , justify the prison state in which they maintain Cuba, saying they cannot lose the “human capital”. This expression, characteristic of slavers, reflects the views of those who hold power in Cuba over the human beings, whom they consider their capital, their property and do not treat them as persons with dignity and rights. For the regime the people of Cuba are serfs and not citizens.

If it is true that the Government will make changes to immigration policies, why won’t they inform the people of what changes will take place and when? They despise the people so much that they don’t even respect their right to know. Or is it that the proposed changes are not the rights that we demand in The Heredia Project?

The Heredia Project or Law of National Reunification and for the end of discrimination against Cubans in Cuba, is a citizen proposal based in the Constitution that once and for all, through a legal, clear and transparent manner guarantees:
  • The right for all Cubans, be they professionals or not or technicians, to freely enter and leave their country, without permission to exit or enter, for as long as the person decides, without taxes, or forfeitures, or the plundering of property, without paying for each month they live abroad a ransom to the government, paying all transactions in national currency and eliminating forever the punishment that is the “final departure” status assigned by the regime, which imposes banishment and exile for those choose to live outside of Cuba. An end to the humiliating letters of liberation as a condition to travel to doctors and other professionals.
  • The restitution of all the rights of citizens to the Cuban Diaspora and their children as they are full Cubans, without exclusions and the end of all the restrictions and requirements to obtain permits, so that Cubans living outside Cuba can enter their country whenever they want and for as long as they want and live in their homeland if they choose.
  • End to the humiliations, internal deportations and mistreatment against the Cubans that in our own country try to escape poverty and the lack of opportunities, transfer themselves to different provinces.
  • End to all inequalities and limitations of access to positions, and of exclusions for political and ideological reasons and removal of other privations such as the right to the Internet.
The regime pursues with its full repressive forces activists who collect signatures for The Heredia Project while talking of possible migration reforms. Some make it easier for them when they make echo of this deception against the people. They accompany the regime in this despotic speculation through statements, publications, conferences and the propagation of doctrines in which they call for a vote of trust for the government of Raul Castro and not the rights, the vote and trust in people.

The conference “A Dialogue between Cubans” that begins today in the Sacerdotal House of Havana, is organized and led by those in Cuba, who not only despise the internal nonviolent opposition, but also deny its existence, explicitly, in their publications; they advance each time more and more in the tunnel of alignment with the lies of the regime and with the proposed continuation of totalitarianism, in which the privileged in power have set their mind to. They are encouraging the oligarchy to continue denying Cubans their rights. In this manner, those who enjoy the privilege of having a voice and protected spaces, conspire against the true reconciliation and peace that can only be achieved if it respects all the rights of all the Cubans, their freedom of expression and association and that free elections are held. We will continue demanding these rights even if we we are alone facing these tactics and conspiracies against popular sovereignty.

These “organizers” speak with the concepts of “the prospects for a relationship between Cuban immigrants and their country of origin, referencing the process of economic reforms or modernizations that have been initiated in Cuba.” We denounce that these are the same terms used by the regime to deny the full condition of Cubans to those who have left our country in search of the freedom that does not exist in Cuba and to those that the regime maintains in the condition of outcasts, as it treats those who currently leave under the category of “definitive exit”. This category of “definitive exit” is employed even in the latest Housing Law, issued only a few months ago. What then is the perspective?

The Christian Liberation Movement in a declaration emitted last March 30th states: The Diaspora is a Diaspora because they are Cuban exiles to which the regime denied rights as it denies them to all Cubans. It is not in that part of oppression, without rights, and transparency that the Diaspora has to be inserted, that would be part of fraudulent change.(1)

Only in the context of a culture of fear and repression with which the regime silences the people are they able to implement the painful maneuver that includes some who take political positions from the Church, others from their intellectual and media show cases, others from their economic interests and others distancing themselves from the Diaspora, so that with their participation contribute to this fraudulent change that is the project that the government clearly expresses in the phrase that says: ”changes for more socialism.”

Although totalitarianism has been sustained for more than fifty years, but it has not subdued the hearts of the Cubans, nor can it fabricate a people to the measure of a regime without freedom, nor a church or a Diaspora in the function of their power. Enough of despotism, of doctrines, of excluding and conditioned conferences, of maneuvers and tactics of distraction to justify and consolidate a fraudulent change that is the change without rights, which leaves the majority of the poor getting poorer and leaves all Cubans without freedom. Cubans in the Diaspora and those of us who live in Cuba, are one people, victims of the same oppressive regime and we have the same hope and the same claim to liberty.

ALL CUBANS, ALL BROTHERS AND NOW FREEDOM.

Christian Liberation Movement
http://www.oswaldopaya.org


Havana, Cuba April 19, 2012

(1) See. CHANGE NOT FRAUD, YES TO LIBERATION Havana, March 30, 2012. http://www.oswaldopaya.org

Friday, April 20, 2012

Report from the Annual Assembly of the International Society for Human Rights


German human rights colleague, Christine Pierk, sent the following summary of the Annual Assembly of the International Society for Human Rights:

The annual assembly took place in a hotel and in a former prison of the GDR, in which up to 1200 political prisoners were ripped off as forced laborer. This prison is under reconstruction as a memorial place at the moment because a group of these former political prisoners bought it. We met some former political prisoners who told us incredible stories about their lifes in the GDR and their time in prison.

"At the press conference: Prof. Hans-Gert Pöttering, Martin Lessenthin, Eugenia Timoschenko and Wanda Wannsiedler from ISHR (who translated for Ms. Timoschenko)."

Around 300 people took part in the meeting and lots of well-respected politicians and speakers were there. Among them the former President of the European Parliament, who is still a member of the EP and the head of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation Prof. Hans-Gert Pöttering. He said that ISHR strengthens the hope of people and denounces deficits in the world. He gave a long speech in which he underlined that it is a big achievement of the 21st century that justice controls power and not power controls justice. Without justice there is no freedom. Moreover he declared that European states learned from "the dark parts of their history" and that they are lobbying in the European Union for the realization of human rights. He added that we should protect human rights around the world without making any difference concerning religious or political beliefs. He strongly demanded that Christians should be able to practice their religion in freedom like it is possible for Muslims to do so in Germany. This is only an excerpt of his long and impressive speech. Prof. Pöttering has been supporting the work of ISHR for years and is also the sponsor of two political prisoners.

Several witnesses and human rights activists from different countries of the world (i.e. North Korea, China, Iran and Cuba) gave speeches and informed the participants about their work and their experiences. One of them was Eugenia Timoschenko, the daughter of the former prime minister of the Ukraine who is now in jail. In a very moving speech and in the press conference she said that the phenomenon of political prisoners is back in the Ukraine and people don´t trust the judicial system. Politicians of the opposition are suppressed and political prisoners like her mother are in a critical health condition. Her mother is isolated, doesn´t get any medical treatment, despite the fact that she can´t walk anymore.

Prelate Prof. Dr. Obiora Ike talked about the situation in Africa.

Prelate Prof. Dr. Obiora Ike from Nigeria is a member of the ISHR and the head of a Catholic institute for development, freedom and charity. He talked about the situation in Africa. He asked: "How can a country be called poor, when it has human beings?" He explained that 75% of Africans are under the age of 30 so that there is so much potential. Moreover Africa has lots of natural ressources. People should ask: "What is more important: Human rights or economic interests?" He underlined that Africa is a rich country and that poverty is made by humans. Some are suffering for the lives of others and this shouldn´t be the future.

Ricardo Alfonso (on the left side of the picture) was a journalist and political prisoner in Cuba.

There were many interesting facts, speeches and field reports of ISHR members, former political prisoners and human rights activists. One was from Ricardo Alfonso who spoke in the workshop on "freedom of opinion". The journalist gave us an upsetting, moving and very informative insight of his time as a political prisoner. He was arrested during the Black Spring in 2003, sentenced to 20 years and released in 2010. "I love the truth and it is the worst thing you can do in a country without freedom", he said. He wrote poetry in jail which could be smuggled out and was published in France, Spain and the United States. His attitude was admirable: "We are not heroes, but we are free. I have always been in a good mood, told jokes so that I kept doing that while in prison." Since last year he lives in Spain, but hasn't found work there and won't get any help from the Spanish government soon. "As long as Cuba isn't free, I'm not really free, too", he underlined.

View out of the window of the former prison of the GDR where parts of the assembly took place.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bearing Witness: Why it is important to remember

“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness...” Elie Weisel

Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance day is today April 19, 2012. Why is it important to remember such horrors as the Nazi Holocaust?


Iris Chang wrote in her book The Rape of Nanking: the Forgotten Holocaust of WWII which exposes and documents the war crimes by Imperial Japan in China in 1937 and the importance of remembrance wrote: “As the Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel warned years ago, to forget a holocaust is to kill twice.”



YomHaShoah is Israel's day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its co-conspirators, and to remember the Jewish resistance and other heroes from that period of history. In Israel, it is a national memorial day that was first celebrated in 1953. Today is the day that it is observed in the United States.

Estelle Laughlin, a Holocaust Survivor, in the above video offers an answer that explains the importance of remembering: "Memory is what shapes us. Memory is what teaches us. We must understand that’s where our redemption is."



Philosopher, poet and literary critic George Santayana offers a warning for those who would like to forget: "Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

If you are visiting Washington D.C. you must pay a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

This blog entry closes with the full quote that was at the top of the page. Please reflect on it today.

"For the dead and the living, we must bear witness. For not only are we responsible for the memories of the dead, we are also responsible for what we are doing with those memories." - Elie Wiesel (A Holocaust Survivor)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Rising Body Count in Cuba

In a conversation with a skeptical progressive this past week, the following questions was raised: "I'm curious to know exactly how many of the opposition has the regime killed or imprisoned over the past 50 years? My hunch is that it is far less than you would have one believe." 

Executed in Santiago de Cuba by the Castro regime in 1959
My immediate response was that a full accounting is impossible and upon further research discovered that this position is held by experts who keep track of fatalities incurred by all kinds of regimes in power. Nevertheless, there are a range of estimates of opposition or dissenters killed that are in the thousands and tens of thousands. Between 1960 and 1966 there was an insurgency in the mountains of the Escambray that fought the Castro regime made up mostly of farmers and Revolutionary Directorate rebels that had fought the Batista Regime demanding a democratic restoration. The dictatorship called it the "War against the Bandits." Tom Gjelten in his book Bacardi and the Long Fight for Freedom gives an account of what took place:
The peasants in the Escambray Mountains, an independent group even during the anti-Batista struggle, took up arms again, this time in opposition to the government's heavy hand. Castro had taken a lesson from Batista's hapless efforts at counterinsurgency, however, and he responded to the Escambray guerrillas with more force and ruthlessness than Batista had dared employ. With the guidance of Soviet counterinsurgency experts, Castro sent thousands of army troops into the mountains to pursue the guerrillas. Captured Escambray insurgents were often executed on the spot, and in a move reminiscent of the Spanish army's "reconcentration" strategy during the independence war, Castro ordered the relocation of entire villages where the guerillas enjoyed mass support. The villagers were moved en masse to western Cuba, where they could be closely monitored. 
 The guerrillas were eventually exterminated and the uprising was crushed by 1966. The full number of dead may never be known. In addition, for the Castro regime, merely wanting to flee the country was considered an offense and was often punished with death. Taking all this into account, below is my response.

Raul Castro preparing one of his victims for execution
A conservative estimate gives the range, according to Matthew White in his website Necrometrics, at between 5,000-12,000 Cubans killed by the Castro regime compared with Chileans killed by the Pinochet regime which number 3,197. Rudolph Joseph Rummel, a political science professor at the University of Hawaii and an expert in Democide (murder by government) also takes into account the Cuban boat people who have died fleeing the dictatorship and estimates 73,000 dead Cubans between 1959 and 1987. In The Black Book of Communism in chapter 25 "Communism in Latin America" by Pascal Fontaine states that in Cuba between 1959 through the late 1990s "between 15,000 and 17,000 people were shot." All these are conservative numbers. The Cuban Archives place the number at 100,000.

Extra-judicially executed by the Castro regime on July 13, 1994

Matthew White in the introduction to his 2011 book, The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History's 100 Worst Atrocities explains that:
An exact body count is hard to come by for Castro’s regime in Cuba, but no one has ever suggested that he killed the hundreds of thousands necessary to be considered for a slot on my list. Many infamous brutes such as Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, Vlad the Impaler, Caligula, and Augusto Pinochet easily fall short, as do many well known conflicts such as the Arab-Israeli wars and the Anglo-Boer War.
The logical question a skeptic would ask is why is Fidel Castro placed in the company of the above named historic villains. The answer can be found in well documented archives stretching back to the beginnings of the dictatorship.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in their April 7, 1967 special report on Cuba documented that on May 25, 1963 the Castro regime issued orders to the armed forces that any peasant seen out of their home after 8:00pm and before 5:00am be executed without a trial by an official of the army or the militia. They also provided numerous examples of young Cubans who were detained and summarily executed.

The IACHR also documented the October 24, 1964 armed invasion of the Uruguayan embassy in Cuba by forces of the Cuban government in order to machine gun to death four Cubans that had sought asylum there.


On the dawn of May 27, 1966, around six in the morning until sunset, about six in the afternoon they were, executing, by firing squad and with single shots (coup de grâce) in the fortress of La Cabaña in Havana, political prisoners, civilians and military. The firing squad was composed of three members of the militia and one officer. The severity of these events is even greater, when one adds that the executed were previously subjected to the procedure of blood extraction to replenish the Blood Bank. On the above mentioned May 27, 166 Cuban civilians and military were executed and subjected to the medical procedures for drawing blood at a rate of an average of 7 pints per person. This blood is being sold to Communist Vietnam at a rate of $ 50 per pint. Relatives to see their imprisoned loved ones also had to "donate" blood.

The IACHR also reported that on October 23, 1966 a group of young Cubans tried to flee Cuba swimming from the populated coast of Caimanera to the Guantanamo naval base. The "Frontier Batallion" of the Cuban government pursued them and shot them with automatic weapons killing three of the four of which two were identified:Pedro Baraña age 35 and Francisco Arcano Galano age 21. Their bodies were found floating in Guantánamo Bay. The same type of action was denounced in 1993 with the addition of grenades used against defenseless swimmers.


There are pages and pages of such documented events in IACHR special reports on Cuba from 1962, 1963, 1967, 1970, 1976 , 1979 and 1983.

Furthermore, the killings and unnecessary deaths continue to the present day below is a small sample over the past decade and a half:
Even so, the body count estimates are only taking into account Cubans who have died as a result of the dictatorship ignoring the regime’s international missions and its non-Cuban victims.


Fidel Castro and Mengistu Haile Mariam convicted of genocide
For example, according to Matthew White who cites William Eckhardt’s statistics on World Military and Social Expenditures 1987-88 (12th ed., 1987) between (1972-80): 15,000 civilians + 21,000 military = 36,000 deaths with 17,000 Cuban troops at the height of interventions assisting their close ally Mengistu Haile Mariam. The aftermath before Mengistu's departure rose to more than a million and a half dead. Haile Mariam is today a convicted war criminal hiding out in Zimbabwe with another close ally of the Castros, Robert Mugabe. The Castro brothers had a direct role in an African genocide.
 

Fidel Castro with Reynaldo Benito Antonio Bignone Ramayón
 "President" Reynaldo Benito Antonio Bignone Ramayón photographed with Fidel Castro. He was the military dictator of Argentina between 1982 and 1983 and had a close working relationship with the Castro regime. On April 20, 2010, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the kidnapping, torture, and murder of 56 people in a concentration camp.

In Argentina during the same period the Castro brothers trained and placed urban guerrillas in the country creating the conditions of political instability that led to the consolidation of a brutal military junta that murdered 30,000 Argentinians in a Dirty War then forged an unusual alliance with the same military junta, to the detriment of the very people it had trained, to block efforts at the United Nations to document all the disappeared people and hold the military dictatorship accountable.

In addition to international missions formally carried out by the Cuban military the Castro brothers have a five decade tradition of training, funding, and organizing urban guerrilla groups and terrorists to advance their revolutionary agenda.

Finally, the Castro brothers also have a track record of supporting brutal regimes around the world such as Communist China, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sri Lanka, and Syria while undermining international human rights standards at the United Nations Human Rights Council in coalitions with many of these countries.

Whether the body count is 12,000 or 73,000 or even 100,000 of one thing everyone can agree it is still rising.

Meanwhile the least one can do is to listen to the testimony of the survivors and of the loved ones of the victims.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Amnesty issues urgent action for Cuban dissident detained now 12 days



Further information on UA: 99/12 Index: AMR 25/015/2012

Cuba

Date: 13 April 2012

URGENT ACTION:
CUBAN PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE STILL HELD

José Daniel Ferrer García pictured above with his wife Belkis Cantillo Ramírez and his daughter

Cuban government critic José Daniel Ferrer García has been detained without charge for more than 10 days. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. 42 others arrested at the same time have now been released.

José Daniel Ferrer García, the coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Union Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU) has been detained without charge since 2 April when he was arrested by security forces along with 42 others as part of a crackdown on government critics in the province of Santiago de Cuba. The others detained – who included his wife Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, a member of the protest group Ladies in White – were all released without a charge a few days after their arrest.

José Daniel Ferrer García is being held at the provincial headquarters of the Department of State Security (Departamento de Seguridad del Estado) in the neighbourhood of Versalles, on the outskirts of the city of Santiago de Cuba. He has yet to be charged and has not had access to a lawyer.

José Daniel Ferrer García was previously declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, along with 74 others who were imprisoned in 2003 solely for their the peaceful expression of their opinions. He was granted conditional release in March 2011, having served eight of his 25 year sentence. Under the terms of his release, he could be sent back to prison to serve out the remainder of his sentence. Amnesty International believes his arrest is an attempt to repress the peaceful dissident activities he and members of UNPACU are undertaking in eastern Cuba and the organization is once again adopting him as a prisoner of conscience.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:
  • Calling on the authorities to release José Daniel Ferrer García immediately and unconditionally, as Amnesty International believes he is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression;
  • Urging them to cease immediately the harassment and intimidation of citizens who peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and association.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 23 MAY 2012 TO:
Head of State and Government
Raúl Castro Ruz
Presidente de la República de Cuba
La Habana,
Cuba
Fax: +53 7 83 33 085 (via Foreign Ministry)
+1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Email: cuba@un.int (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Interior Minister
General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra
Ministro del Interior y Prisiones
Ministerio del Interior,
Plaza de la Revolución,
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Email: correominint@mn.mn.co.cu
Salutation: Dear Minister

And copies to:

Attorney General
Dr. Darío Delgado Cura
Fiscal General de la República,
Fiscalía General de la República,
Amistad 552, e/Monte y Estrella, Centro Habana
La Habana, Cuba

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the first update of UA 99/12. Further information:
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR25/012/2012

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Prisoner of conscience José Daniel Ferrer García was granted conditional release in March 2011 following eight years imprisonment. He was one of 75 people who were arrested and sentenced following a crackdown on Cuban dissidence in March 2003. All 75 were adopted as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International, as they had acted non-violently and were imprisoned under Cuban legislation which illegitimately criminalizes political dissent. José Daniel Ferrer García was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in relation to his participation in the Varela Project, which aimed at requesting a national referendum on democratic reforms. Article 31.1.4 of the Cuban Criminal Code states that conditional release allows a prisoner to see out the remainder of their sentence outside prison provided they demonstrate “good behaviour” (“buena conducta”).

José Daniel Ferrer García was recently arrested in Havana, on 21 February 2012 and held incommunicado until his release without charge three days later

(See UAs: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR25/005/2012/en;
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR25/006/2012/en.)

The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) is an umbrella group of dissident organizations, based primarily in Santiago de Cuba, but also in neighbouring provinces of eastern Cuba. UNPACU seeks democratic change in Cuba via non-violent means.

Since UNPACU’s creation in mid-2011, its members have faced constant harassment and intimidation form the Cuban authorities, including arbitrary detention. One of UNPACU’s members, prisoner of conscience Wilman Villar Mendoza died in January 2012 following a hunger strike in protest at his four-year prison sentence following a summary trial. This repression is part of a general crackdown against dissidents in the eastern provinces of Cuba which has gathered pace since mid-2011 and has intensified since just before the Pope’s visit to Cuba at the end of March 2012.

On 2 April, 100 officials from the Department of State Security and police officers arrived at José Daniel’s house in Palmarito de Cauto, Santiago de Cuba Province. The officers reportedly broke in and arrested him and his wife Belkis, along with four others. 37 other government critics were also arrested at the same time in Palma de Soriano and El Caney, both in Santiago de Cuba
Province.

Name: José Daniel Ferrer García
Gender m/f: m

Further information on UA: 99/12 Index: AMR 25/015/2012 Issue Date: 13 April 2012


Also available in Spanish and French

Amnesty Int'l: 2 Cuban prisoners of conscience released on bail to await trial on trumped up charges arising from peaceful protests


Document - Cuba: Further information: Prisoners of conscience released on bail

Further information on UA: 91/12 Index: AMR 25/014/2012 Cuba Date: 11 April 2012

URGENT ACTION

PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE RELEASED ON BAIL

Two Cuban prisoners of conscience have been released on bail to await trial on trumped - up charges arising from their joining peaceful protests.

Prisoners of conscience Yasmín Conyedo Riverón and her husband, Yusmani Rafael Álvarez Esmori, were released on bail late in the evening of 5 April, after nearly three months in prison. They had been detained on 8 January and charged with using “violence or intimidation” against a state official (atentado). An official from the Cuban Communist Party (Partido Comunista de Cuba) had falsely accused Yasmín Conyedo Riverón of slapping her in the face, and later withdrew the accusation.

No date has been set for their trial. If convicted, they could face up to eight years in prison. Amnesty International has called on the Cuban authorities to drop any charges against Yasmín Conyedo Riverón and Yusmani Rafael Álvarez Esmori relating to their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.

Amnesty International will be monitoring their situation closely, and will take further action as appropriate.

No further action is requested at this time from the UA network. Many thanks to all who sent appeals.

This is the first update of UA 91/12. Further information: www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR25/010/2012/en

Name: Yasmín Conyedo Riverón (f) and Yusmani Rafael Álvarez Esmori (m)

Gender m/f: both

Further information on UA: 91/12 Index: AMR 25/014/2012 Issue Date: 11 April 2012

Text available both in Spanish and French


https://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/014/2012/en/76a5b6e6-e736-4533-b97b-f2bce5ed3fc1/amr250142012en.html

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bishop Agustín Román: If what we do for Cuba, we do not do for love, better not do it.

Cubans have lost the physical presence of one of the great leaders of the Cuban exile community who passed away on April 11, 2012 at the age of 83 but his spirit and his writings live on. Bishop Agustín Román wrote and spoke about the challenges facing the Cuban people and in the final part of this December 16, 2006 reflection offered six virtues that Cubans should adopt if they wish to be truly free and independent as a people. This essay remains extremely relevant today. This is the third and final part of an English translation. Part one is available here and part two here. The original Spanish text is available here.


The importance of the current internal dissident movement in Cuba (Pt. 3)
by Mons. Agustin Roman

CONCLUSIONS.


Everyone knows that there are none so blind as those who will not see. I believe that only those may try to deny the importance of the current dissidents in Cuba, but, if one needs a convincing testimony about it, I think none better than the dictatorship itself: if those opponents did not represent a real challenge to the regime, then why do they repress them with such virulence? ... Why jail them? ... Why try to discredit them constantly?

The skeptics should be reminded that although the end result sought by the Cuban people has not yet been obtained by dissidents or anyone else, they have shown that non-violent civic resistance can jeopardize totalitarianism, as it happened with "Concilio Cubano" in 1996, in 2001 with the Varela Project and in 2003 with the ferment opposition that caused the "Black Spring" of that year, all of which shows that in these methods the potential to trigger the definitive change.

And at this point, it is clear that it would be logical that all Cubans, both on the island as in exile, ask ourselves what can we do to help the dissidents? ... We the exiles should ask ourselves what to do, between them and us, imparting all the possible effectiveness of the legitimate struggle for the liberation of the common homeland.

I could not offer policy prescriptions nor strategies for action, because I am not a politician or a strategist. I am a Cuban priest, a simple shepherd of souls, and as such, could only refer to what I learned in the light of the Gospel, remember what some of our great thinkers have suggested and recommend that we not forget the proven wisdom of our peasants, that which today is called common sense.

I said at the beginning of the urgency to reflect on these issues as we did today, because of the special circumstances that the Cuban nation is living at this moment. That same sense of urgency we should have with regards to the steps we must take. It is not for me to say what are those steps, but, whatever they will be will move us forward, and not backwards only if we take them through paths of virtue. ¨No homeland without virtue," said to us the first who taught us to think and it occurs to me that I could suggest some of the virtues necessary for our steps to lead us to the goals of the common good, that we want for Cuba:

1 - Firmness of principle and clarity of the objectives. We must be aware of what we want for Cuba: true sovereignty, rule of law and respect for human rights. This sums up all the other just demands such as, for example, the release of political prisoners, democracy, free elections, just proceedings, and so on. We should put forward, in addition, our non-acceptance of formulas that attempt to impede or obstruct the right of Cubans to freely choose their destination or promote continuity of this system or something similar, under the appearance of democracy, openness and reforms.

2 - Equilibrium. Humans are very susceptible to the passion that makes them lose clarity in their vision of things. Cubans are no exception to this rule, on the contrary, therefore, we must remember the wise words of the well named prophet of exile, our unforgettable Bishop Eduardo Boza Masvidal. He told us about this, I quote: "The equilibrium is not to dance the tightrope, but it is to adopt a clear and defined attitude that asks nothing borrowed from anyone, but is born of good doctrinal training and a dispassionate and objective study of reality "End of quote.

3 - Unity. Unity in diversity, which is as it should be, but firm unity, because if we have always needed it, it is essential to us today. You do not have to explain it to any Cuban how much damage disunity has done us. It is time to separate the wheat from the chaff. Do not forget what the Lord Jesus himself tells us in chapter 12 of St. Matthew: "Every kingdom divided against itself will become desolate. And every city or house divided against itself will not stand."

4 - Prudence and energy. The Servant of God and architect of Cubanness, Father Varela, recommended to the Cubans of his time in his "Moral and Social Maxims" not to mistake weakness with caution, noting that it "tells the man what he should choose, practice and omit in every circumstance." I would emphasize this valerian maxim, remembering that the first that prudence indicates is to think before acting. Varela also noted in "El Habanero", something which seems written for our day. I quote: "It is not time to entertain ourselves with particular accusations, or useless regrets. It is only to operate with energy to be free." End of quote.

5 - Justice, truth, forgiveness and reconciliation. I said earlier that the cause of the internal dissident movement, the cause of all of us in the end, is the continued pursuit of justice for the Cuban people. Cuba cries out to heaven for justice, justice is essential. The truth is the complement of justice and should be the first condition of our work and firm foundation of the society. Every Cuban will recognize the truth of their responsibilities and errors if we want to enter the new Cuba with the cleanness that we want. At the same time, the country equally needs of forgiveness and reconciliation in order to have possibilities of a future. A society that remains with its wounds permanently open condemns itself to a continuation of its conflicts and eliminates its possibilities to live in peace. Justice, truth, forgiveness and reconciliation are not mutually exclusive or contradictory terms. Our very remembered Pope John Paul II said with respect to the following, in his message for World Day of Peace on 1 January 1997. I quote: "Forgiveness, far from excluding the search for truth, demands it. The wrong must be recognized and, where possible, repaired ... Another essential requisite for forgiveness and reconciliation, is justice, which finds its justification in the law of God ... In effect - the Pontiff added - forgiveness does not eliminate or decreases the demand for reparation, which belongs to justice, but seeks to reintegrate equally individuals and groups into society. "End of quote.

6 - Faith, hope and charity. The most important I have left for last, because it's what surrounds and makes everything else possible. Faith in God because without Him every effort will be useless: "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain," affirms Scripture. Hope in God, because through Him comes us all that is good: "Blessed are they who have placed their trust in the Lord," proclaims St. Matthew in his gospel. Charity, that is love of God and of our brothers, because we have already seen too much the fruits of hate in our people. Because charity is what God wanted for us, sent to us over the sea the image of the Mother of his beloved Son under the inspiring nickname: the Mother of Charity, Mother Love, Mother of the country. If what we do for Cuba, we do not do for love, better not do it.

If all of us who want the good of the nation, of the important internal dissident movement and the persevering of exile arm ourselves with these virtues, we will be effective. If we are committed to not let personalism, or the passions dilute them, we will have won. If we keep them and transmit them to all our people, we will have secured for Cuba a happy future.

I end with an expression of loyalty, affection and paternal recognition to the work of the Catholic Church in Cuba during this difficult stage in our history. On February 3, 1959 the first joint pastoral of the Cuban Bishops saw the light, which focused on the topic of education, those shepherds launched demands and questions applying to all of the deceptive revolutionary project that began then. Earlier, only two days after the triumph of the revolution, the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Monsignor Enrique Pérez Serantes, reminded the new government and the entire people why they had fought, saying: "We want and expect a purely democratic Republic , in which all citizens can fully enjoy the richness of human rights "End of quote.

Since then, the facts, well documented also show us the suffering Church, harassed sometimes more covertly than others, but always harassed, on the side of the people of Cuba. This was, perhaps, its most eloquent point with the pastoral "Love hopes all things", of 1993, but there is also a long and rich history, which one day will be known in all its details, of the generous, brave and quiet labor of the Church in favor of the legitimate interests and needs of the Cuban people in these times. It's not for nothing that the loudest cries of "Freedom!" Heard in Cuba in recent times took place in public places during the visit of John Paul II in 1998.

I also equally affirm my personal appreciation and respect for the internal dissident movement in Cuba and I do it from the heart of a Cuban naturally proud to be exiled, of belonging to this exile committed to the national destiny, full of men and women of faith and action, whose merits and virtues are not always fairly valued. When a happy end could be brought to the prison riots in Atlanta and Oakdale in 1987, I remember the excitement made me exclaim that day that if I were not Cuban, I would pay to be. Without a trace of arrogance, with great respect for all peoples of the world, I repeat it today: I would pay to be a dissident, I would pay to be an exile, because both are the same: Cubans, good Cubans trying to be better.

I should apologize for having forgotten the time limit, but I thought that the important choices we have before us Cubans right now, asked for these considerations that I wanted to share with you, taking advantage of the invitation of Father Felix Varela Foundation, which again I want to thank. Maybe I failed to add one of the virtues we need, is to say more in less time. But you, who are so generous, will understand, because you are Cubans like me.

Thank you very much everyone.

Bishop Agustín A. Román

Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus

Miami, December 16, 2006

***

This remarkable and humble man of God lived a life in accordance with the principles and faith that he evangelized. Below is a short documentary where the good shepherd looked back over his life.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bishop Agustín Román: The force of reason is, and should be more powerful than the reason of force.

Cubans have lost the physical presence of one of the great leaders of the Cuban exile community who passed away yesterday night at the age of 83 but his spirit and his writings live on. Bishop Agustín Román wrote and spoke about the challenges facing the Cuban people and in the second part of this December 16, 2006 reflection offers a brief history of the development of the nonviolent Cuban dissident movement that remains extremely relevant. This is the second part of an English translation. Parts one and three are also online. The original Spanish text is available here.


The importance of the current internal dissident movement in Cuba (Pt. 2)
by Mons. Agustin Roman

THE MUSTARD SEED.

What began at that scrawny Cuban Committee for Human Rights, that many classified as quixotic, is at present a notable force due to their courage, their determination and their moral authority. It is not a massive movement, but it is the largest of those who have been in any of the countries which were subjected to communist totalitarianism throughout the world.

Also, it is very diverse, it includes in its ranks Cubans of all social strata of the country, medical doctors like Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, engineers such as Oswaldo Paya, lawyers like Rene Gomez Manzano, economists such as Marta Beatriz Roque, poets like Regis Iglesias, educators such as Roberto de Miranda, philosophers like Jaime Legonier , ex-military such as Vladimiro Roca, peasants like Antonio Alonso, trade unionists such as Carmelo Diaz , housewives like Berta Antunez, and simple country people such as the brothers Sigler Amaya and many more.

Among them are whites, blacks and mulattoes, Catholics, Protestants and Santeros, liberals, conservatives, christian democrats, socialists and all other non-Communist political denominations. And they are from the extreme western end of the island, as the Pro-Human Rights Party, in Guane, to the extreme eastern end, as the Youth Movement for Democracy in Baracoa.

In its shadow and with its momentum has been reborn in notable measure the civil society of the nation: journalists, librarians, cooperatives, professional associations, farmers, workers, artists, intellectuals and independent disabled, among others.

They have achieved international recognition at very high levels, as witnessed by major prizes for the promotion of human rights granted to different activists by the European Union, non governmental organizations and other institutions in different countries. What is more important, every day they earn more respect among their fellow citizens.

It should be noted, also, that in Cuba, as elsewhere, important semantic differences that had importance in the past have been erased. Today, in the Cuban context, opposition and dissident are synonymous, because under the classification of "dissidents", "dissent" or "the human rights people," as the general population calls them, it includes persons such as Oswaldo Payá , for example, who never belonged to the ranks of the regime, and others who believed for more or less time in the mirage of the revolution.

We can say, therefore, that the current internal dissident movement is a vivid display of the entire Cuban nation and that it is, today, the most important agent of change within the island. In it is fulfilled the parable of the mustard seed, thus from a tiny seed has emerged a corpulent tree. It would not be prudent to exaggerate their importance in terms of the correlation of forces with the dictatorship, but neither would it be to ignore its potential as channeling the desire for justice, now widespread at the popular level, that originated when those desires were expressed by only a few.

The dissident movement does not have an effective articulation throughout the Cuban territory, but I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that it demonstrates already the ability, when the moment arrives and with adequate support, power, together with other independent bodies, religious and fraternal, that offer answers to peremptory uncertainties, the instability and initial disorder that inevitably accompany any significant change in a previously totalitarian society.

In summary, since the issue has arisen: if they ask me what the real importance of the current internal dissident movement, I would say it is the Cubans having revealed to themselves the possibility of banishing violence from political struggles and the effectiveness of non-violent methods in the pursuit of justice.

Cuba inherited old concepts which indicated that the only honorable way to resolve grievances and disputes was through blood, however evident it is today that to win by force means that it is the stronger or the better armed then the other, but not that one necessarily is in possession of reason or rights. The armed or physical confrontation became erroneously, the only acceptable proof of courage and honor.

That mentality which ferociously pushed Spaniards and their Cuban sons to confront each other when the latter justly demanded their independence, continued to mark the Republic, and that is how we saw patriots who won indisputable merits out in the fields confronted each other afterward with the same violence because of political disparities or ambitions of power, providing our nation’s history with very sad pages like the death of Quintín Banderas in the times of Estrada Palma, the racial and veterans confrontations during the government of José Miguel Gómez and the excesses of the government and the opposition during the Machado eras.

It is not wanting to judge by modern parameters, and in the light of experiences they had, to people acting according to the culture of their time and by what they had learned as good and honorable, and who, on the other hand, well are indebted for much good that they did. This is an attempt to dispassionately understand this harmful and counterproductive tradition of violence that caused rivalries and grievances passed from generation to generation, without the possibility of solution. There was always a debt to settle, and it was paid off with blood, the blood of brothers.

Along with this, we must clarify that none of this implies that one can condemn a people at one time if he is forced to resort to violence in an extreme situation, as sometimes one resorts to an amputation to avoid death, especially where the obstinacy of the oppressors shuts out all other attempted solution. Countries, like persons, have the right to defend themselves against aggression. This resort to non-desired violence, has, nevertheless to be imposed temporarily by circumstances, and not be a favored option, much less a practice or method of justifiable struggle.

The syndrome of violence that marked our Republic and to which I referred to earlier, has had its most cruel expression in the present regime. We can never forget the executed by firing squads, the tortured, the fallen in combat, those murdered while trying to escape the island. We can not nor should we forget the experience of living in fear, the heroic Calvary of political imprisonment, nor the horror of the acts of repudiation. It is precisely out of respect and gratitude to the fallen and what we have all suffered that we have to fight for their grandchildren and the grandchildren of all Cubans of the present, can live a different Cuba to the one we had to live in both them and us. A Cuba where the problems are resolved "among Cubans" in harmony and civility, not by some imposing it on others. A Cuba, finally, "where the first law of the Republic is the respect of each Cuban for the full dignity of man."

The conduct and methods that sunk Cuba and keep it under to the present, are not the ones that are going to save it. To assume the thankless task of trying to break the burdensome legacy of violence is the greatest merit of the dissident movement, because, if achieved it would be an inestimable good for Cuba, not only for today and for us, but also for the future, for those who are still to come.

More concretely, I would say that the greatest importance of the internal dissident movement in Cuba today, is that it has proven that political action can be consistent with what conscience knows and that is that the force of reason is, and should be more powerful than the reason of force.

***



This remarkable and humble man of God lived a life in accordance with the principles and faith that he evangelized. Below is a short documentary where the good shepherd looked back over his life.