Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream: 50 Years Later in Cuba and the United States

Fifty years from that speech by Martin Luther King Jr. and like him I have a dream of a Cuba that is inclusive, plural and modern where we all fit. - Yoani Sanchez,  August 28, 2013 over twitter 

Martin Luther King Jr

Fifty years ago on August 28, 1963 much of the United States was in the midst of a struggle to do away with segregation and civil rights activists were struggling to pass voting rights legislation. The march on Washington D.C. that culminated in Martin Luther King Jr.'s I have a dream speech sought to pressure legislators into voting for the legislation, and they succeeded.

This was a nonviolent revolution that sought justice, and changed the United States of America and today an African American president sits in the White House evidence that part of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream has been achieved.

Let us compare this with the violent revolution that sought to end a dictatorship ninety miles away from U.S. shores in Cuba that in 1963 was just four years old. Fifty years later and the Castro dictatorship that replaced the Batista dictatorship is still in power killing and repressing. Despite fraudulent statistics in areas of health care and education the reality of an ongoing cholera epidemic and the mass exodus of millions of Cubans demonstrates the nightmare that exists in Cuba today. Tonight an unjustly imprisoned Cuban is on his 30th day on hunger strike demanding to be free.

Let us also not forget that many who fought alongside Fidel Castro in the 1950s took up arms again against him in the 1960s in an armed struggle that failed wiping out all opposition: violent and nonviolent for years.

A nonviolent movement began to emerge out of the prisons in the mid 1970s and onto the streets in the mid 1980s yet there are voices that claim that nonviolence hasn't worked and counsel either collaboration with the dictatorship or violent resistance.

Sadly, despite the successes of the civil rights movement in the United States by 1967 Martin Luther King Jr. found his nonviolent posture challenged by a black power movement that instead of accelerating change in areas of social and economic justice brought it to a halt. Reverend King warned black activists not to take the way of Castro and Guevara:
“Riots just don’t pay off,” said King. He pronounced them an objective failure beyond morals or faith. “For if we say that power is the ability to effect change, or the ability to achieve purpose,” he said, “then it is not powerful to engage in an act that does not do that–no matter how loud you are, and no matter how much you burn.” Likewise, he exhorted the staff to combat the “romantic illusion” of guerrilla warfare in the style of Che Guevara. No “black” version of the Cuban revolution could succeed without widespread political sympathy, he asserted, and only a handful of the black minority itself favored insurrection. King extolled the discipline of civil disobedience instead, which he defined not as a right but a personal homage to untapped democratic energy. The staff must “bring to bear all of the power of nonviolence on the economic problem,” he urged, even though nothing in the Constitution promised a roof or a meal. “I say all of these things because I want us to know the hardness of the task,” King concluded, breaking off with his most basic plea: “We must not be intimidated by those who are laughing at nonviolence now.”
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., like Gandhi before him, was assassinated on April 4, 1968 meanwhile Fidel Castro has survived to the present day hanging on to power and turning it over to his brother as the island of Cuba sinks into misery and despair.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas
 Meanwhile another courageous man of Christian faith, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and a youth leader from his movement who had been a seminarian were martyred on July 22, 2012 for advocating nonviolent change in Cuba. Oswaldo had managed to obtain more than 25,000 signatures in a Stalinist dictatorship demanding a vote to change the system and recognize the rights and dignity of Cubans. Like Martin Luther King Jr. he was killed but his ideas and example live on to inspire others.

The dream survives in others even when the dreamer has been cut down by the forces of repression and hatred.


A nonviolent moment in America: Martin Luther King Jr. - I Have A Dream Speech - August 28, 1963

Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington D.C. August 28, 1963
 Fifty years ago today in Washington D.C. following a nonviolent march on the capitol to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial over 250,000 Americans gathered together peacefully to demand that the United States live up to the values espoused in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution and the promise made  when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. It was a nonviolent moment in American history in which citizens spoke truth to power. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the nation proclaiming his dream of the future of the United States.


Less than four years later in 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. would say that the dream had "turned into a nightmare" with the war in Vietnam and the black power movement that embraced violence.

On April 4, 1968 he would be martyred in Memphis, Tennessee shot down by a sniper while he was supporting a sanitation workers strike. His widow, Coretta Scott King, would continue her husband's work marching with 42,000 people on April 8, 1968 and achieved a negotiated solution to the strikers demands.

Fifty years ago today was a moment of optimism and hope that generated positive changes across America with voting rights laws that would soon be passed and government institutionalized segregation become a thing of the past. This was not because of one speech but through a movement that with its disciplined nonviolent resistance changed the United States of America forever. Reverend King fifty years ago outlined the movement's nonviolent vision: 
"This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force."
 It is a message that is still relevant today not only in the United States but in many places around the world were injustice persists.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Iván Fernández Depestre: Day 29 on hunger strike

Political prisoner Iván Fernández Depestre on hunger strike: Day 29
 Iván Fernández Depestre is a Cuban national of 42 years of age born on October 28, 1971 with identity card number: 71102805363 who lives in the interior of Cuba in  Placetas, Villa Clara province. Since July 30, 2013 he has been and continues to be slowly dying on hunger strike protesting his unjust imprisonment since day one. Today marks 29 days on hunger strike and there are signs that his life is now in the balance.
 

I believe that hunger strikes should be a method of last resort that should be well thought out on all fronts in order to analyze the likelihood of success and its moral soundness in a particular circumstance.  

Nonviolence practitioner Michael Nagler has laid out five rules for hunger strikers to consider:

  1. Have to be the right person for the job. Not to be used by just anybody.
  2. Right audience. (You should only fast against someone who was in sympathy with you on a very deep level. Gandhi never fasted against the British.)
  3. Doable demand
  4. Last Resort
  5. Consistent with the rest of your life
Iván Fernández Depestre should not be spending one day in prison for exercising his fundamental rights, but going on hunger strike as a first option is a tactic that I would not counsel. Furthermore, the Castro regime has no sympathy for the Cuban activist, and would happily see him die.
Nevertheless, the man's actions are nonviolent but I would remind activists entertaining following that line of action that there are at a minimum 197 different nonviolent actions that one could attempt before arriving at the extreme of carrying out a hunger strike.
However, other human rights defenders in the island and abroad are mobilized trying to save Iván Fernández's life and finding other means to pressure the regime in order to obtain his demand of freedom.
 
Iván has been jailed since July 30, 2013 under circumstances where anywhere else in the free world would just be the exercise of one's civic duty. Although not formally recognized, he is a prisoner of conscience.  On the afternoon of July 30, 2013 Iván together with other nonviolent opposition activists Loreto Hernández García, Yuniel Santana Hernández, así como Yaite Diasnelli Cruz Sosa, Xiomara Martin Jiménez and Donaida Pérez Paseiros carried out a march in memory of the Cuban martyr Frank País, who was killed in the struggle against Fulgencio Batista (the prior dictator to the Castro brothers).  

This was not his first demonstration. Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez" has made public videos that show Iván taking part in nonviolent demonstrations for a free Cuba. On July 22, 2013 he marched in tribute to the memories of martyred dissident leaders Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante who both died under suspicious circumstances on July 22, 2012 in Cuba.


 
He was tried on August 2, 2013 in a secret, closed door and summary trial in Placetas, Villa Clara and condemned to 2 years in prison for "pre-crime social dangerousness." 

Diario de Cuba describes his current health status as critical. Now is the time to get the word out and demand this courageous activist's freedom using all creative, nonviolent means at our disposal.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rosa Maria Paya Addresses the Christian Democrats of the Americas

Address by Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo, Christian Liberation Movement delegate at Christian Democratic Organization of America (ODCA) Congress in Mexico City on August 23, 2013

Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo addresses ODCA Congress

 Mr. President of ODCA, presidential candidates, Cuban brothers, dear friends all,

Thank you ODCA for the invitation and courageous support that has signified the cause of truth and rights for Cuba. Thank you for the recent recognition of the entire Cuban delegation, many in my country have given their lives for the cause of liberty as Mr. Ocejo reminded us is the cause of happiness.


"These are times of dangers and hopes for Cuba. The lack of freedom and rights maintains the people immersed in great disadvantages. The government complicates the situation because it refuses a democratic opening while Cubans want real change and transparency, fraud is imposed" warned my father, remembering that:

"There remain mechanisms of repression and surveillance of citizens, total dependence and obedience of the courts of the group in power and their ordinances, cruelty in prisons, systems of control, concepts and practices of exclusion and marking or targeting, the fence of laws which are anti-rights and undemocratic are maintained over the citizen, despotism, the lack of democratic instruments for citizens to decide and finally the power group itself still stands above its own laws and with all the privileges stated above.
Moreover poverty grows and deepens the differences, under the simulacrum of economic opening. Also the cult of personality and the concretion of dynastic succession are affirmed with the denial of Cuban’s civil and political rights. These factors are components of the totalitarian regime that has caused and continues to cause severe damage to the people, an anthropological damage. The antagonistic contradictions between the regime and the freedom and rights of citizens remain. What has changed then? Or what is changing in Cuba: the people."

These people do not want to move from savage communism to savage capitalism, nor want Russian style or Chinese style changes, the people of Cuba want to participate in building our future and to be happy.

Two months ago, after 54 years, before the evident failure, the government has accused people of not having "honesty, [...] decency, [...] shame, [...] decorum, [...] honor and [...] sensitivity" and has threatened to take coercive measures. But have not referred to the torture or the forced repatriation of Cuban migrants in a concentration camp in the Bahamas. Neither have they spoken about outbreaks of dengue and cholera, as they also did not do before with polyneuritis, or serious statistics on the spread of HIV in Cuba, or the rate of suicide and domestic crimes, or medical malpractice cases, or the use of abortion as birth control, or the many other expressions of the "culture of death" on the Island.

Nor have yet announced merchant ships smuggling ammunition and fully operational arms, violating the national security of a fraternal country like Panama, violating several UN resolutions on the dictatorship of North Korea, and putting innocent lives at risk

The Cuban government is not legitimate, as the Venezuelan government is not and will not be because presidents of the world shake hands with the impostors in power, it will be much less because they spearhead regional organizations like the CELAC, as is the case of the Cuban dictator, to the shame of Latin America. Legitimacy is delivered by the people at the polls, in free elections, in an atmosphere of respect and safety. We all know that's not what happened in April in Venezuela and we all know that has not occurred in Cuba for more than 60 years.

That is why I believe our challenge as the Christian Democratic family resides in looking at the people before power, the human being who lives and suffers from power when it is not at the service of society. But that fragments and sickens society to perpetuate itself. What we are seeing in some of the countries of our America at the turn of a decade find themselves divided on populism, whose greatest concordance is the obstinacy with which they cling to power. They also agree on their embracing Cuba's dictators.

The humanist values of defending life, truth, sustainable and inclusive economic freedom, equality, the environment, and fraternity join us here today. The budgets that we defend do not respond to ideological fundamentalism, but they are a radical proposal that need firm parties; requires strong and free spirits that do not form a complex before power or before fashion or before a trend or before apparent majorities. Other forces and languages inconsistent with democracy have shown no qualms in showing they are allies. I understand that our option involves taking the side of the poor of the Earth, which in our region are many and they are also those who cannot even say that they are poor, because a government has hijacked all their rights.

I believe in the Christian humanist project as a real and effective alternative to the so-called crisis of disorientation that our societies seem to suffer. The world is confused with epithets that others have put on us, these negative nuances that fill the term conservative, or counterpose us to so called progressive forces. It does not seem to me that we have to define ourselves from codes which other interests have imposed, the message embodied in the Christian humanist option is new and renovating in a world that has displaced human beings from the center of its priorities. In the words of my father: "neither the state nor the market, can be above the rights, the will and freedoms of persons."

Please do not abandon, let us not abandon those in America and beyond, from positions of danger fighting for the same concepts that bring us here today. Not without suffering, I am witness what a tyrant can do when they feel that those who oppose them have been abandoned, when they feel that their opponent is alone. My father, like Caldera, like Adenauer, thought: "Rights have no political color, or race, or culture. Nor dictatorships have political color. They are not right or left, they are only dictatorships "and recalled that" Cubans have not chosen the path of peace as a tactic, but because it is inseparable from the goal of our people. Experience tells us that violence begets violence and, when political changes are made in this way, you arrive at new forms of oppression and injustice," as painfully illustrated by the hundreds of people killed this week in Syria and Egypt.

Most of Cuba's peaceful opposition agrees to defend the road map of The Peoples Path, we expect you solidarity with the demands of this proposal. In this framework thousands of Cuban citizens ask for your support in our demand for a plebiscite of the legal initiative of the Varela Project. We do not seek another caudillo to replace a dictator; we have a proactive and inclusive solution waiting for your solidarity. We need your help to stop the violent repression of the state security of the Cuban government against members of the Cuban democratic movement, to be able to keep fighting for real change. The recognition of the entire truth is essential to the reconciliation process of the transition to democracy that we seek. We need your endorsement of the need for an independent investigation to clarify the circumstances of the attack on my father and Harold Cepero, to help remove the sense of impunity that the Cuban government has and with which it continues to repress with increasing violence.

The essential transformation is taking place in the minds and hearts of Cubans. It's time to begin the process of reconciliation that we all want, because what we want is to live in harmony and freedom. Long ago the people stopped trusting the regime and despite the repression and apathy fewer and fewer Cubans are being dominated by fear.

On December 5, 2011 my father reminded them in a message to this organization that "there have already been many conjectures, postulates and intellectual exercises. There have already been many. Now for you should be the time of solidarity with Cuba, with our demands:

We want all rights. These are the changes we want! Now Cubans are going to demand real change, now let's fight for free elections,” through a plebiscite!

I think that the authoritarian phenomena that have been generated in our region demonstrate that what you do for the freedom of the Cuban people will be a commitment for the good of all America.

God help us all

Many Thanks

Text translated from: http://freecubafoundation.blogspot.com/2013/08/rosa-maria-paya-se-dirige-los.html


















Thursday, August 22, 2013

Oswaldo and Harold : A year and a month later truth and justice still needed

Half of the Cuban people believe that the leader of Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya, was murdered. The other half know it. - William Cacer Diaz, over twitter August 22, 2013


Oswaldo and Harold: Murdered by Cuban State Security

397 days ago on a Sunday afternoon two decent and good men were killed. At the time the evidence and suspicions pointed to Cuban government involvement. There was speculation that a state security vehicle had crashed into the car in which Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante were traveling with two European visitors both members of political parties related by shared values to the Christian Liberation Movement killing them. However, over the past year the evidence that comes to light paints a more disturbing picture.

On June 2, 2012 an old American car struck Oswaldo's 1964 VW station wagon while he was driving it with his wife, Ofelia Acevedo in Havana, with such force that it knocked the vehicle onto its left side on the opposite side of the road. 

The Cuban government's attempt to manufacture a crash scene claiming that only one car was involved and that the driver had been speeding and hit a tree ran into some difficulties despite the show trial. The two Europeans who survived the crash on July 22, 2012 although detained and held incomunicado, drugged, and subjected to the tender mercies of Cuban state security had already send text messages abroad shortly after the crash indicating the involvement of another vehicle.

After they were released from confinement in Cuba and got back to their home countries and were able to talk the picture that emerges is that Oswaldo and Harold survived the accident that the injuries the Spaniard sustained were after the accident and with the butt of a gun. The two Cuban human rights defenders were murdered in cold blood by agents of Cuban State Security.

After the killings when the families sought justice they too were threatened with death and after rising violence and a machete attack against a Christian Liberation Movement member the rest of the  Payá family left Cuban and became political refugees.

The fact that the international community with some noble exceptions has remained indifferent before this atrocity and that to the present date a serious, international and transparent investigation has not been undertaken into the deaths of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero is an outrage that must be remedied.

Truth and justice for Oswaldo and Harold. Please take action and sign the petition demanding an international investigation into their deaths. Their families continue to struggle for and demand justice, the least we can do is demonstrate our solidarity in a concrete way.





Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Official Cholera Statistics in Cuba: It just doesn't pass the smell test.

Does anyone believe the statistics provided by the Cuban government on the cholera outbreak?

Cholera and totalitarianism: A dangerous combination
The Pan American Health Organization has generated a report using official data provided to it that does not make sense. Cholera is making a big impact in Haiti with 669,645 cases and 8,224 fatalities and neighboring Dominican Republic reports 30,671 cases 454 fatalities. Meanwhile, even though reports indicate that cholera has spread across Cuba from the east to Havana in the worse outbreak since the 19th century the official number of cases is 98 cases and apparently no fatalities according to this report.

Meanwhile PAHO's only mention of tourists contracting cholera are 5 cases from Cuba.

Between late July and early August 2013, five cases of cholera associated with a history of
travel to Cuba were confirmed, as follow:

On 24 July 2013, the National IHR Focal Point for Italy reported to WHO a confirmed case of cholera (V.cholerae serogroup O1 Ogawa) in a 47 year old male patient, with travel history to Havana from 23 June to 13 July of 2013. Relevant details of the case, including detailed travel history while in Cuba and further laboratory investigations were shared with competent local authorities in Cuba and WHO.
 
On 9 August 2013, the National IHR Focal Point for Venezuela confirmed two cases of cholera (V. cholerae serogroup O1 Ogawa) in persons, a 51 year old male and 55 year old female, with history of travel to Havana, Cuba.
 
On the same date, 9 August 2013, the National IHR Focal Point for Chile reported two cases of cholera, one laboratory confirmed (V. cholerae serogroup O1 Ogawa) and the other by epidemiological link, in persons returning from travel to Cuba.
The record in Cuba is clear. Cuba remains a totalitarian dictatorship without a free press and even international and accredited press bureaus are cowed into silence out of the justified fear that they would be ejected from the country for reporting negative news. The Cuban government is engaged in a practice of deceit that endangers lives.

The government of Cuba initially covered up the cholera outbreak. The story was broken by dissident journalists. Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, the journalist who broke the story on the cholera outbreak,  was arrested in September 2012 for disrespecting the dictatorship, and recognized by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience in January of 2013. He was finally released after spending nearly 7 months in prison in April of 2013. Unlike Michael Moore who continues to repeat Cuban government propaganda on the wonders of Cuban healthcare, Calixto reported on the actual situation on the ground and spent several months in prison.

Calixto R Martínez Arias jailed nearly 7 months for breaking cholera story
 All of this raises two obvious questions: If the number of cases in Cuba are as low as reported by the government are accurate why are the only reported cases of tourists from these three impacted countries with cholera from Cuba? What are the actual number of cases and fatalities in Cuba?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Family of Oswaldo Payá presents complaint to National Spanish Court

Press Release of the Christian Liberation Movement about the complaint presented to the National Court in Spain.

 
Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo and Maura Ofelia Acevedo Acevedo


Madrid, Spain.  August 19, 2013


Maura Ofelia Acevedo Acevedo and Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo wife and daughter of the late national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement ("MCL") in Cuba Oswaldo J. Payá Sardiñas, on behalf of the family and the MCL, presented by their lawyer in Spain, and Francisco Andújar, a charge before the Central Court of Instruction of the National Court against Lieutenant Colonel Águilas, chief of instruction of Crimes of Cuban State Security and Colonel Llanes, charged with crimes of Cuban State Security and against all other persons that the court determines in the course of their investigation as participants in the crimes against humanity that culminated with the death of Oswaldo and the youngest member of the coordinating council of the MCL Harold Cepero on the 22nd of July 2012 in Cuba national territory. 

The lawsuit is made necessary and indispensable for a basic question of justice, since the current Cuban regime can not keep chasing, abusing, lying, murdering and intimidating a society with impunity, as absolute masters of the lives of millions of people.

Oswaldo Payá represented the sentiments of a large majority of the despairing Cuban people. As MCL national coordinator he had worked out together with other opponents a viable proposal of political participation, equality and respect against a failed system that wants to remain at all costs in power, and so they have stated on numerous occasions voiced by its highest representatives.

The Cuban and Spanish peoples have the legitimate right and in law to know the truth of what happened that day, where a Spanish citizen was killed: Oswaldo Payá, and vilely accused a youth, also a Spanish citizen, Ángel Carromero, of a crime that he did not commit.

Confident that in Spain, where the judiciary is independent from political power and where they can seek the truth without fear or pressure, we can carry out this complaint and assign responsibility to those involved in this horrible act, whoever they are.

The MCL has never sought revenge and not incite hatred or violence, but we are also not afraid to claim our rights either in the Assembly of Popular Power in Havana or the National Court in Madrid. The first answered us with lies, slander, insults, arrests, beatings and death. We hope that in the second we find the space to find the justice we need. 
More information at http://www.oswaldopaya.org or via e-mail at info@oswaldopaya.org

Original version in Spanish available here:  http://www.oswaldopaya.org/es/2013/08/19/familia-de-oswaldo-paya-presenta-querella-en-audiencia-nacional-de-espana/

Sampling of articles in the press, in English, about the presentation of the complaint:

Harold Cepero and Oswaldo Payá
Family of Cuba dissident Oswaldo Paya file lawsuit alleging murder by Castro regime / The Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/cuba/10254022/Family-of-Cuba-dissident-Oswaldo-Paya-file-lawsuit-alleging-murder-by-Castro-regime.html

Family of Cuban activist Oswaldo Payá sue Castro security officials for murder / The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/20/oswaldo-paya-family-sue-cuba-spain 

Spain asked to probe death of Cuba activist Oswaldo Paya / BBC  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-23756250

Cuban gov't car caused dissident's death, family says / The Global Post http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130819/cuban-govt-car-caused-dissidents-death-family-says

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cuban Dissident on Hunger Strike Since July 30: SOS Free Ivan Now!

"SOS: Free Ivan Hernandez De Pestre." - Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" , August 19, 2013 over twitter

Iván Fernández Depestre on hunger strike
Over twitter today, Cuban opposition activist Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" tweeted that Iván Fernández Depestre is "dying before the complicit indifference of the accredited press in Cuba." Why is this man in danger of dying? It is due to a combination of factors: a cruel dictatorship, non-interest by the press, and the lack of familial support for Iván. Amnesty International recognized 5 other Cubans as prisoners of conscience but has still not designated him as one. Hopefully, the won't do it posthumously as they did with Wilman Villar Mendoza who died in January of 2012.

Iván Fernández Depestre is a Cuban national of 42 years of age born on October 28, 1971 with identity card number: 71102805363 who lives in the interior of Cuba in  Placetas, Villa Clara province. He has been unjustly imprisoned since July 30, 2013 under circumstances where anywhere in the world would just be the exercise of one's civic duty. Although not formally recognized, he is a prisoner of conscience.

On the afternoon of July 30, 2013 Iván together with other nonviolent opposition activists
Loreto Hernández García, Yuniel Santana Hernández, así como Yaite Diasnelli Cruz Sosa, Xiomara Martin Jiménez and Donaida Pérez Paseiros carried out a march in memory of the Cuban martyr Frank País, who was killed in the struggle against Fulgencio Batista (the prior dictator to the Castro brothers).  Portions of the demonstration were recorded and posted on youtube in the video below.



The women involved in the march were able to complete it on this occasion while the men were detained and abandoned in different parts of the city, with the sole exception of Iván Fernández Depestre who was taken to police headquarters in Santa Clara and accused of social dangerousness, an Orwellian form of "precrime" and tried on August 2, 2013 in a secret, closed door and summary trial in Placetas, Villa Clara and condemned to 2 years in prison.

He is being targeted for two reasons 1) being a member of the Opposition Movement Youth Awaken, affiliated to the Central Opposition Coalition (CCO) and the Orlando Zapata National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front and 2) having a difficult family situation that does not support him. State security is targeting him because with the lack of family support they view him as a weak link and are trying to break him.

Iván in protesting this injustice has been on hunger strike since the day of his arrest demanding freedom and today marks 21 days and their is fear for his life. An S.O.S. has been issued from Cuba fearing for Iván's life.

Gene Sharp: "Dictators will not negotiate themselves out of power."

“I was a believer in the politics of petitions, deputations, and friendly negotiations. But all these have gone to dogs. I know that these are not the ways to bring this Government round. Sedition has become my religion. Ours is a nonviolent war.” - Mohandas Gandhi


Excerpt from BBC Hardtalk from February 1, 2012:

"Gene Sharp is a political thinker whose influence is now spoken of in same breath as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. But he is no platform speaker or figurehead at a demonstration. Rather, a quietly spoken political philosopher who's been writing about non-violent struggle for 50 years. What's changed is that his most celebrated pamphlet - 'From Dictatorship to Democracy' - is now grabbing attention around the world. He's been hailed as having helped mould protest movements from Burma to Serbia to Egypt. What is it that Gene Sharp has been able to unlock?"
 ...

Hardtalk: You are very dismissive, about as you see it, the dangers of negotiation. Is there no place for negotiation with a dictatorship?

Gene Sharp: Sometimes, when the regime is falling apart and the dictator wants to go to the airport to go to another country then negotiate how he can get there, fine, but to be tricked into bargaining with that regime you don’t want half of that dictatorship to survive.

Hardtalk: But, what about a dictatorship that can negotiate itself out of existence. Some sort of half way house.

Gene Sharp: Where has that happened? Where has that happened? Give me one instance…

Hardtalk: In order perhaps to ensure that it cannot be run out of the country or end up in the international criminal court

Gene Sharp: Dictators will not negotiate themselves out of power.

Hardtalk: There is no historical example?

Gene Sharp: Not that I know of, you may know of one.

Hardtalk: Do you think that in that case that if it is all or nothing when it comes to the situation in Egypt a lot of people are very unhappy about the influence the army still has in Egypt.

Gene Sharp: Yes, Yes

Hardtalk: Do you think that in that case people should have, for example, boycotted the recent parliamentary elections?

Gene Sharp: No, the parliamentary elections, I don’t know. But, there was a major mistake made by the opposition to negotiate with the Mubarak regime. They thought Mubarak had to resign. Mubarak said I’ll resign if you put the military in control after I step out. The same military that had been supporting Mubarak for decades which was how Mubarak and his regime came into power and control of the government in the first place. They agreed to turn over power to the military and the military control. They are very reluctant to step out of the political picture completely.

Hardtalk: You see Egypt as a missed opportunity?
 
Gene Sharp: An incomplete opportunity; the first half has been done. They now face the institution that really helped Mubarak and which gave Mubarak controlling power. They put that in place and have a problem now.  ...














Friday, August 16, 2013

HANNAH ARENDT: Her Ideas Changed the World

"Where there is no political alternative, there remains only the moral alternative – non-participation." - Hannah Arendt
 

Tonight at the Cosford Cinema at the University of Miami a powerful movie about a brilliant thinker was screened. The film is HANNAH ARENDT that dramatizes an important chapter in the life of the political theorist Hannah Arendt. The film covers Arendt's reporting of the trial in Jerusalem of the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann for The New Yorker and the events surrounding the publication of her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1963. She also wrote a series of articles for The New York Review of Books.


It was during this period that Hannah Arendt coined the term "the banality of evil." The film also engages in a nuanced analysis of the difference between what is radical and what is extreme and raises the question of what falls between resistance and cooperation.



Arendt is best known for her first major work, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951),and The Human Condition (1958). The interview above with English subtitles is also found on youtube with Spanish subtitles was conducted in and broadcast in West Germany on October 28, 1964.

Hannah Arendt and her husband Heinrich Blücher
The film is directed by Margarethe von Trotta (Vision, Rosa Luxemburg) and the German actress Barbara Sukowa plays the title role. Its been well reviewed with Rotten Tomatoes giving it an 89% fresh rating and is now showing in South Florida this weekend with a limited release. Go out and see it if you can.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cuban Dissident Antúnez Addresses Cuban Youth Leaders


Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" addressed the first U.S. - Cuba Democracy PAC Young Leaders Group Happy Hour on August 14, 2013. Below is a video excerpt of his remarks.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cuban woman not allowed to return home to visit her ailing 93 year old father

Blanca Reyes: Denied entry to Cuba to visit her ailing dad
 Over twitter yesterday learned that the Consulate General of Cuba in Madrid (Spain), refused the representative of the Ladies in White in Europe, Blanca Reyes, an entry permit to her homeland that she had requested on July 22, 2013 to see her father who is 93 years old and very ill and lives in the Cuban city of Sancti Spiritus. In an article published by ACI press Blanca said:
"My father is 93 years old and is very sick. I wanted to see him before he died," She said her father told her over the phone "that he wanted to touch me before he died, but now they will not let me go."  
According to ACI Press "the consulate official told her on Tuesday that permission had been 'denied'."
Cuban nationals are required to appear before a consulate and apply for permission to return to their own country even if they have a valid passport.

 Between 70,000 and 300,000 Cubans are banned from returning to their homeland under arbitrary criteria set up by the dictatorship. Now regime apologists such as John McAuliff of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development claim that "Cuba now provides greater freedom of travel to virtually all of its citizens than does the U.S."  

Human Rights Watch in their 2013 report document that Cuban citizens still face numerous restrictions traveling not only internationally but in Cuba itself:
Reforms to travel regulations that went into effect in January 2013 eliminate the need for an exit visa to leave the island, which had previously been used to deny the right to travel to people critical of the government and their families. However, the reform establishes that the government may restrict the right to travel on the vague grounds of “defense and national security” or “other reasons of public interest,” which could allow authorities to continue to deny people who express dissent the ability to leave Cuba.
The government restricts the movement of citizens within Cuba by enforcing a 1997 law known as Decree 217. Designed to limit migration to Havana, the decree requires Cubans to obtain government permission before moving to the country's capital. It is often used to prevent dissidents traveling to Havana to attend meetings and to harass dissidents from other parts of Cuba who live in the capital.
In December of 2011 rumors circulated that Cubans travel rules would be loosened, but it was not until January of 2013 that dissidents long barred from traveling were able to once again travel out of the country. There is no right to travel for Cubans. New rules were set up but in a country with no rule of law the arbitrary nature of the dictatorship remains as is demonstrated in the case of Blanca Reyes who is being denied the right to return home to visit her ailing father.

The Christian Liberation Movement launched a petition drive known as the Heredia Project and have gathered thousands of signatures calling on the regime to recognize the right to travel of Cubans and to demand real not fake change. In the meantime despite all the propaganda and press the regime with its diktats keeps Cuban families divided and in Blanca's case a daughter from seeing her dying father.

Its just new rules for the same old and cruel game of fraudulent change.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How many people will never have another birthday thanks to Fidel Castro?

87 candles but how many others never saw another birthday?

Fidel Castro turned 87 years old today and the dictator's apologists are out in force celebrating on social media, but a question arises:  How many people will never have another birthday thanks to Fidel Castro?

The founder of a dynastic dictatorship that ruled Cuba with an iron grip from 1959 until a health crisis forced the despot to turn power over to his brother Raul, informally in 2006 and formally in 2008.

The accurate body count after more than a half century remains unknown but partial counts place it in the thousands.

Add to this the failure of the regime on the health and hygiene front with mass deaths at a psychiatric facility and return of Cholera at levels not seen since the 19th century and the magnitude of the disaster begins to take shape.

Extrajudicial killings still take place but in Orwellian fashion are denied. Meanwhile nonviolent opposition leaders that could provide a soft landing die under extremely suspicious circumstances with the direct involvement of state security.

Oswaldo Payá: Life cut short by Castro dictatorship

 Cuba's Lech Walesa,  Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas met with an "accident" on July 22, 2012 along with Harold Cepero, a youth leader from his movement. Evidence points to a state security vehicle crashing into the vehicle the dissidents were traveling in. More disturbing is the mounting suspicion that both men survived the accident and were killed afterwards. Over a year later and the families have still not been provided with the autopsy results.

Laura Inés Pollán Toledo, the women with the talent, courage, and popular support to be the next president of Cuba after being repeatedly roughed up, pricked with needles by regime agents became ill and died within the span of a week while under the guard of state security.

Internationally, the regime has been an ally to some profoundly loathsome regimes that have engaged and are engaging in genocide and some of whose leaders are now convicted war criminals on the lam.

The fact that some around the world who believe that the ends justify the means celebrate his example is disturbing especially when observing that not only where his means immoral and profoundly evil but the end result is a country that is an empty shell of what it was before the Castro brothers achieved power and the patterns of repression endure to the present day.

How many people will never have another birthday thanks to Fidel Castro? Too many.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" addresses the Assembly of the Resistance

"Antúnez" addressing the Assembly of the Resistance
 Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" addressed the Assembly of the Resistance at a forum held at Florida International University Law School on August 10, 2013. In his address Antúnez described how the opposition movement is progressing towards a national stoppage and appealing for justice for the many fallen martyrs.

Cuban opposition leader Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera denounces mistreatment in Cuba

Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera addresses Resistance Assembly

"I come in the name of all those women who inside of this country struggle for democracy in our country. I have been a victim on countless occasions of beatings, arrests and including victim of attempts to abuse me sexually. But I come to give hope to all the women struggling for freedom in Cuba that we will continue to struggle for that freedom that belongs to us, and that those dictatorial men will have to leave our country."  - Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, August 10, 2013


On Saturday, August 10, 2013 at a Forum organized by the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance held at the Florida International University Law School, Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera made a powerful presentation on the threats, harassment and violence that she and other female activists suffered for defending human rights in Cuba. She spoke of women such as Damaris Moya Portieles who was beaten and mistreated but was also threatened by state security agents with the rape of her five year old daughter.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Hunger Strike for Human Rights in the Bahamas: An Update

Jesus Alexis Gomez 22 days and Ramon Saul Sanchez 15 days on hunger strike protesting mistreatment of migrants in the Bahamas. 

Jesús Aléxis Gómez (Day 22 on hunger strike)

 The demands have not been met and the hunger strike continues. After 22 days Jesús Aléxis looks gaunt and his face emaciated but he remains determined to carry on his protest. Ramon Saul seems in better shape but as a diabetic undergoing a hunger strike is a precarious exercise.

Ramon Saul Sanchez (Day


Meanwhile this week the hunger strike garnered greater attention in the international media and at the same time Bahamian officials went to Cuba to meet with their Cuban counterparts.



All eyes on a small tent in Little Havana on South West 8th Street and 13th Avenue where two men are putting all on the line for the rights of undocumented migrants in the Bahamas, and if you're the praying type - please say a prayer for them.


 Listen to their demands here below.