Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Castro Regime at the United Nations voted twice to back the Assad Regime on Friday

Venezuela's strong man Nicolas Maduro follows instructions from Havana

This was my immediate reaction on reading UNWatch's Hillel Neuer's list of shame tweet listing countries that backed the Assad regime on an important vote on June 27, 2014. Out of the five countries in the world who voted for the genocidal regime, the Castro regime in Havana had control of two votes: Cuba and Venezuela. This vote took place on the final day of the 26th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

That Raul and Fidel Castro would support Assad's regime in Syria is no surprise they have done it for decades and have also collaborated, and even violated international United Nations sanctions to smuggle arms to North Korea.

The "voting twice"observation  on the surface would be considered a joke, but unfortunately its only funny because it has a serious undercurrent of just so happening to be a factual observation.

That two out of the five country votes backing Syria are under the Castro brother's control may be a surprise to some, but it shouldn't be. Moisés Naím in April 2014 explained how the Cubans came to gain control of Venezuela.

It is ironic that the Castro dictatorship that has made a career out of exploiting anti-imperialist rhetoric has succeeded in turning Venezuela into a colony of its regime, leading to the phenomenon of Venezuelans burning Cuban flags in protest of the Castro regime's undue control of their homeland.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Milada Horakova: A profile of courage in the face of terror

"I have declared to the State Police that I remain faithful to my convictions, and that the reason I remain faithful to them is because I adhere to the ideas, the opinions and the beliefs of those who are figures of authority to me. And among them are two people who remain the most important figures to me, two people who made an enormous impression on me throughout my life. Those people are Tomas Garrigue Masaryk and Eduard Benes. And I want to say something to those who were also inspired by those two men when forming their own convictions and their own ideas. I want to say this: no-one in this country should be made to die for their beliefs. And no-one should go to prison for them." - Milada Horakova, final day of her show trial on June 8, 1950.

Milada Horáková: 25 December 1901, Prague – 27 June 1950, Prague
 Milada Horakova was hanged with three others in Prague’s Pankrac Prison as a spy and traitor to the Communist Czechoslovakian government on June 27, 1950. She was a  lawyer, social democrat, and a prominent feminist in the interwar and postwar periods. She had been a member of the Czech resistance to the Nazi occupation of her homeland and survived a Nazi prison. After Czechoslovakia was liberated from the Nazis in 1945 by the Soviets she became a member of parliament in 1946 but resigned her seat after the Communist coup of 1948. However she refused to abandon her country.  She was arrested at her office on September 27, 1949 "on charges of conspiracy and espionage against the state."

Totalitarian regimes are designed to crush the spirit of the individual along with the machinery to kill large numbers of people for the sake of some revolutionary objective. Arthur Koestler dramatized how this machinery operates on the individual level with the show trial in the novel Darkness at Noon.  In the typical Stalinist show trial the accused pleads guilty to all the crimes he or she did not commit then is sentenced to some sort of draconian punishment and gives thanks to the regime for its generosity. A high profile example of a show trial was on worldwide display in Cuba in 1989 in the General Ochoa affair, with the accused executed by firing squad on July 13, 1989 after confessing to everything on camera. but there have been exceptions. Another version of the show trial was also seen with the Spanish youth leader Angel Carromero, who was beat up, threatened and told to read from a prepared script if he wanted things to go well at his show trial in 2012. Torture and breaking one's spirit is common practice in these circumstances.

Even when one is able to resist and remain defiant in the face of the physical and psychological torture the totalitarians will also rewrite what happened and claim that they also broke you.  This is what was done to Milada Horakova. According to Radio Prague, "For decades the communist orthodoxy maintained she had been broken by interrogators and had renounced her beliefs."

Milada Horakova at her show trial in 1950
 It is important to remember that this was not a meaningless exercise in sadism by the communists, but as in the case of Ochoa in 1989 served what these totalitarians viewed as a necessary objective to consolidating and maintaining power. Adam D. E. Watkins in his 2010 paper "The Show Trial of J U Dr. Milada Horáková: The Catalyst for Social Revolution in Communist Czechoslovakia, 1950" explains the importance of the show trial in gutting democratic traditions and replacing them with Stalinism:
The study deconstructs the show trial’s influence on inducing a country to foster the Communist movement against decades of democratic traditions. The research reveals the impact of the show trial of Dr. Milada Horáková in 1950 and how it was instrumental in reforming a society, marked the beginning of Stalinism, and ushered forth a perverted system of justice leading to a cultural transformation after the Communist putsch. Furthermore, the revolution truncated intellectual thought and signified the end of many social movements – including the women’s rights movement
According to D. E. Watkings Horáková was seen by the public as a symbol of  the First Republic and of democracy. Unlike others who did break under the relentless psychological and physical torture she never did. The communists tried to edit her testimony for propaganda purposes but as Radio Prague in their 2005 report on the discovery of the unedited tapes of her trial:
[S]he faced her show trial with calm and defiance, refusing to be broken. Audio recordings - intended to be used by the Communists for propaganda purposes - were mostly never aired, for the large part because for the Party's purposes, they were unusable.
Because she refused to cooperate with the Stalinists her punishment was particularly severe, even for the death penalty. In 2007 her prosecutor Ludmila Brozova-Polednova who in 1950 had helped to condemn Horakova to death, now 86, was tried as an accomplice to murder. During the trial Radio Prague reported that a note written by an anonymous eye-witness to Milada Horakova's execution quoted the young prosecutor recommending: "Don't break her neck on the noose, Suffocate the bitch - and the others too." Milada Horáková  was executed in Pankrác Prison on 27 June 1950 by a particularly torturous method: "intentionally slow strangulation, which according to historians took 15 minutes. She was 48 years old." The urn with her ashes was never given to her family nor is it known what became of them.

In a letter to her 16 year old teenage daughter Milada explained why she had refused to compromise with evil. Her daughter received the letter 40 years later after the end of communist rule:
The reason was not that I loved you little; I love you just as purely and fervently as other mothers love their children. But I understood that my task here in the world was to do you good … by seeing to it that life becomes better, and that all children can live well. … Don’t be frightened and sad because I am not coming back any more. Learn, my child, to look at life early as a serious matter. Life is hard, it does not pamper anybody, and for every time it strokes you it gives you ten blows. Become accustomed to that soon, but don’t let it defeat you. Decide to fight.
Hours prior to her execution she reaffirmed her position to her family:
I go with my head held high. One also has to know how to lose. That is no disgrace. An enemy also does not lose honor if he is truthful and honorable. One falls in battle; what is life other than struggle? (Both quotes excerpts taken from here)
Ms. Brožová-Polednová, the prosecutor,  was found guilty and sentenced to six years in prison in 2008 but was given a presidential pardon by Vaclav Klaus on humanitarian grounds one year and six months into her sentence and released in 2010. The former prosecutor defended her actions claiming that what she did was legal and that she was "following orders." She tried to appeal her conviction at the Strasbourg Court in 2011 and lost.

Today, June 27, the day of Milada Horakova's execution is now recognized in the Czech Republic as  “Commemoration day for the victims of the Communist regime.”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" still needs your help ( An update )

"I refuse to abide by any law or regulation that may co-opt the free exercise of my rights as a citizen of my right as a free person."-  Jorge Luís García Pérez “Antúnez” June 25, 2014

Antúnez and Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera at UM in 2013

Jorge Luís García Pérez “Antúnez” is back home with his wife and fellow activist, Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, and under house arrest awaiting a trial for civic unrest with no set date as of yet. The fact that he is as home is not due to Cuban law. The "law" in Cuba is a code that is observed or ignored based on the arbitrary whims of the dictatorship. 

Antúnez and Yris are back home because of the unexpected attention and support surrounding their arbitrary detention and the regime's inability to break Jorge Luis's spirit using choke holds, beatings, and unknown substance injected into his system. His future will be determined not by the law but the political calculations of the dictatorship. Therefore the two petitions launched last week one in Spanish directed at the Castro regime and another in English directed at international figures to pressure the dictatorship need to be maintained and supported

Antúnez in a conversation with the Cuban Democratic Directorate on July 25, 2014 explained how things stand:
“Right now I am processed with the File # 651 of 2014 of the Criminal Processing and Instruction Unit of Villa Clara. I am being instructed by Joaquín Piedra León. According to the document whose faculties are conferred by Article 27 of the Criminal Procedure Act and the prosecutor who accuses me, or placed this measure is Daylí Carrazana Rodríguez. This is a document duly signed and also stamped 
Jorge Luís is not backing down. He explained his position very plainly in the same June 25, 2014 conversation:
"I've always said, will say, hold and maintain that I refuse to abide by any law or regulation that may co-opt the free exercise of my rights as a citizen of my right as a free person. That is why I reserve the right when I deem appropriate and strategic to give an answer to this situation. According to them, I have to ask permission to move from Placetas and to travel to places outside of Placetas; they must be places like hospitals. I know this is nothing but a crude maneuver, primarily for closing me off, to suffocate, to handcuff my movements, to stop the work being done by the Resistance Front at this moment.
Since they refuse to be silenced by intimidation and torture their lives remain in danger. The best ways to protect them is to demand accountability on the violence visited against them and to continue to demand that a transparent and international investigations into suspicious deaths like those of Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante.

On this occasion the dictatorship in Havana misjudged the reaction inside and outside of Cuba to the violence and terror visited on this courageous couple.

Meanwhile the door and lock to their home remains smashed up as can be seen in the above video were Yris relates what happened on the morning of June 11, 2014 at around 6:00am when state security agents kicked down their door and took them both away.

Circumstances of the second arrest
They had been released on the morning of Friday, June 13, 2014 only to be arrested again on the evening of Sunday June 15, 2014 when they were out walking together and came across a homeless man laying in the middle of a public road who was not receiving attention from the authorities. Protesting that the regime expended resources having them followed at the time that it would ignore someone in distress collapsed in the middle of the street. 

A Cruel and Brutal Crime Witnessed at the Guantanamo Naval Base on June 26, 1993

 Never Forget
Cuban Patrol Boat near Guantanamo Naval Base
Twenty one years ago today on June 26, 1993 at 11 a.m., three Cuban patrol boats surrounded a group of swimmers trying to reach the Guantanamo Naval Base, lobbing grenades and spraying them with automatic weapons fire. At least three corpses were lifted out of the water with gaffs. The Clinton Administration reported the incident witnessed by U.S. personnel on the base. This was but one of five separate "incidents" documented in the summer of 1993 that didn't make much of an impact at the time.

However, both a year later and 19 years later two other incidents would take place that would not be so easily covered up and forgotten. Next month marks the dates of two crimes that shocked the Cuban people and reverberated around the world.

One took place twenty years ago on July 13, 1994 a tugboat named the "13 de Marzo" in the early morning hours made its way out of  Havana Harbor with families seeking a better life in freedom. Six miles off the coast line they were surrounded and attacked by other tugboats as state security agents aboard the Cuban coast guard witnessed the massacre. Before everyone on the "13 de Marzo" tugboat could be murdered a Greek trawler passing by witnessed what was going on and the operation was brought to a halt.

Extrajudicially executed by the Castro regime on July 13, 1994
 The death toll came to 37 men, women and children. Apparently leaving Cuba for a better life without the Castro regime's permission was punishable by death.

Enough time has passed that the reports and investigations into what happened on July 13, 1994 have been published by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Commission and the Castro regime found to be responsible for the massacre.

The second, just two years ago, demonstrated that even staying in Cuba and working for non-violent democratic change is still punishable by death as was seen in the suspicious deaths of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante on July 22, 2012 under circumstances that have still not been cleared up but appear to have involved a state security operation. 

Oswaldo and Harold
 The names of the three Cubans who tried to swim for freedom but instead died in a hail of automatic weapons fire and exploding hand grenades may not be known but their deaths cannot be forgotten nor the need for accountability for those who attacked them and those who gave the orders to kill defenseless swimmers. It is amazing that in a world where so many are concerned about the plight of emigrants that what the Castro regime does to its own emigrants is ignored.

The Christian Liberation Movement has organized a month of remembrance for Oswaldo and Harold presenting information surrounding the circumstances of their deaths on July 22, 2012 and exile organizations are planning activities and acts of remembrance to mark 20 years without justice for the victims of the "13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Today Multitudes of Venezuelans took to the streets for freedom and independence

" At four months of unjust imprisonment, I affirm that we have to be United to get out of a corrupt, inefficient and undemocratic regime." - Leopoldo López Mendoza, from Ramo Verde Prison, June 18, 2014

Today, a multitude of Venezuelan citizens took to the streets across their country to demand their freedom and independence. The images can be found on social media. Students who organized today's demonstrations called it the March for Independence.

Opposiiton leader Maria Corina Machado tweeted the above image today
You wouldn't know it from the mainstream media but there is a mass democratic movement in Venezuela that has maintained itself since February turning hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans to the street and its shaking the foundations of the Maduro Regime. Today across Venezuela students mobilized and took to the streets. They were met by security forces firing tear gas and rubber bullets in order to break up the nonviolent demonstrations.

The death toll during these protests by agents of the Maduro regime has reached 43. Josue Farias died in Maracaibo on June 21, 2014. The 18 year old student was injured by a  bullet during protests at URBE on May 29, 2014. 

Repression and tear gas in Carabobo, Venezuela

Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has been unjustly imprisoned since February 18, 2014 when marching alongside a multitude of Venezuelans he turned himself  in to the Venezuelan authorities knowing that justice was not guaranteed.

Meanwhile as an innocent man is imprisoned and kept away from his wife and children the killers of young Venezuelans remain free. on March 23, 2014 Adriana Urquiola was shot twice and killed. She was 5 months pregnant. Three months later and her killer remains free. Seven of the eight accused of murdering Bassil da Costa will be judged in freedom. Considering that the judiciary is completely politicized and subject to the whims of the executive branch and the Cubans the hope of justice is at best naive. Remember Venezuela is a country were a judge following the law both national and international was arrested and raped while in detention for freeing an individual who was arbitrarily detained.

Alvaro Vargas Llosa outlines the crisis that the Maduro regime is facing and it is one of legtimiacy:
Every serious poll confirms, for the first time, that a solid majority of the public opposes the government. Even pro-“chavista” polling companies, such as Instituto Venezolano de Análisis de Datos, agree: In its most recent survey, 55 percent of Venezuelans considered Maduro a dictator. Key opposition figures are all more popular than Maduro, including Machado and López—who is now even ahead of Capriles.
Four months later following a trumped up hearing and now awaiting a political show trial in August that will be orchestrated from Havana, Cuba with the assistance of President Maduro, Leopoldo Lopez released the audio of his defense before the Court which was an indictment of the regime highlighting the ridiculousness of the charges.

Venezuelan students abroad just last week addressed a forum at the United Nations Human Rights Council to denounce the human rights situation in their home country alongside Cuban dissidents, and a survivor in the incident that claimed the lives of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante on July 22, 2012. The students discussed protester deaths at the United Nations.

The struggle for the future of Venezuela continues. As long as the opposition is able to nonviolently resist the Maduro regime while articulating a coherent strategy and maintaining nonviolent discipline they have an excellent change of achieving a democratic change that will usher in a new and better Venezuela.

Amnesty International Urgent Action - Cuban Journalist threatened and attacked: Roberto de Jesús Guerra

Document - Cuba: Journalist threatened and attacked: Roberto de Jesús Guerra

Amnesty issues Urgent Action for Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez,
UA: 159/14 Index: AMR 25/001/2014 Cuba Date: 20 June 2014


journalist threatened and attacked
Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, director of the independent news agency Hablemos Press has been receiving threatening telephone calls and was assaulted on the streets of Havana, the capital. He believes these are attempts by the Cuban authorities to dissuade him from continuing his activities as a journalist.
Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, founder and director of the independent news agency Hablemos Press (Let’s Talk Press) has been repeatedly receiving threatening telephone calls since 6 June. Different male voices have called his mobile phone and the landline at his home, which also doubles as the office of Hablemos Press, and have threatened that Roberto will be killed.

Just after 11am on 11 June Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez was walking in the municipality of Plaza de la Revolución in central Havana on his way to use internet facilities at the Czech Embassy. He was attacked without warning by an unknown individual who started to punch and kick him, leaving him with a broken nose and bruises all over his body. As he was being beaten four men on two motorcycles which are typically used by the Cuban Department of State Security pulled up beside him. Roberto stated that one of the men said “ok, that’s enough” (ya, ya, no le des más) before they drove off. Roberto recognized one of the four men as someone who had participated in repressing demonstrations by dissidents. Roberto and his wife filed a complaint against the attack at the police station in the Cerro municipality of Havana. Roberto was called back to the police station later that night where he identified his attacker from photographs he was shown.

At around 6pm on 17 June the same man who attacked Roberto shouted threats outside his house, including that he would kill Roberto and set fire to his house. Roberto’s wife returned to the same police station to file another complaint but they refused to take it and told her that they had no grounds for complaint (“la denuncia no procedía”).
Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

Calling on the Cuban authorities to immediately investigate the assault on 11 June against Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez as well as telephone threats against him and to bring those found responsible to justice;
Calling on the authorities to ensure that citizens who seek to peacefully exercise their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association are able to so without harassment or intimidation

Head of State and Government
Raúl Castro Ruz
Presidente de la República de Cuba
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +41 22 758 9431 (Cuba office in Geneva); +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Your Excellency

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
Salutation: Dear Attorney General
And copies to:

Interior Minister
General Abelardo Colomé 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)

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.
journalist threatened and attacked

Additional Information

Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez has faced constant harassment from the authorities. He has been arrested on several occasions and threatened with prison sentences if he continues his activities as a journalist. On 6 April 2014 Roberto de Jesús Guerra was detained for six hours by police after he arrived at Havana airport following a trip abroad. Material he was carrying was confiscated, including documents from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington where he had attended an audience on 25 March in relation to freedom of expression in Cuba. On 11 September 2012 Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez was forced into a car and reportedly beaten as he was driven to a police station. Before being released, he was told that he had become the “number one dissident journalist” and would be imprisoned if he continued his activities.

The news agency Hablemos Press (Let’s Talk Press) is an unofficial Cuban news agency founded in February 2009 by independent journalists and human rights activists, “for the purpose of gathering and disseminating news within the country and for the rest of the world” according to their website. Hablemos Press also produces monthly reports on the arbitrary detention of independent journalists, human rights defenders and political activists.

Restrictions on the Cuban media are stringent and pervasive and clearly stop those in the country from enjoying their right to freedom of opinion and expression, including freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. The state maintains a total monopoly on television, radio, the press, internet service providers, and other electronic means of communication.

Article 53 of the Cuban Constitution recognizes freedom of the press but expressly prohibits private ownership of the mass media: “Citizens have freedom of speech and of the press in keeping with the objectives of socialist society. Material conditions for the exercise of that right are provided by the fact that the press, radio, television, cinema, and other mass media are state or social property and can never be private property. This assures their use at exclusive service of the working people and in the interests of society. The law regulates the exercise of those freedoms”.

Although there is no censorship law that explicitly regulates the functioning of the press or establishes what is published, journalists must join the Cuban Journalists Association (Unión de Periodistas Cubanos, UPEC) in order to practice journalism in the state-owned media. UPEC is self-governing; however, in its statutes it recognizes the Cuban Communist Party as “the highest leading force of society and of the state” and agrees to abide by Article 53 of the Constitution (see above). Compulsory membership of a professional association for the practice of journalism is an unlawful restriction on freedom of expression and a violation of the right to freedom of association. Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that, “no one may be compelled to belong to an association”. In the particular case of UPEC, whose members are employees of the government of Cuba, compulsory membership is a means of exerting political control in the field of communications. Only journalists expressing views in line with official government policies are accredited by UPEC; independent journalists are barred from joining.

Name: Roberto de Jesús Guerra
Gender m/f: m

UA: 159/14 Index: AMR 25/001/2014 Issue Date: 20 June 2014

Monday, June 23, 2014

All Eyes on Venezuela: Students Call National March for Independence Tuesday, June 24

Across the social networks the announcements are made that a national march for independence is being called by the student movement that will take place across the country on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. All eyes on Venezuela. Beginning tomorrow June 24, 2014 at 9:00am Caracas time.

Remember that the death toll during these protests by agents of the Maduro regime has reached 43.
Josue Farias died in Maracaibo on June 21, 2014. The 18 year old student was injured by a  bullet during protests at URBE on May 29, 2014.
 The International Democratic Network has shared this call to action through its twitter account with the above image and the following call:
"This Tuesday join the in the , it is our common cause."

Youth leader Ana Karina Garcia tweeted another image outlining the route of the march with the following call to action:
"This is the route will travel together on for NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE & you?"

Finally in a series of tweets youth leader Juan Requesens beginning with a tweet that stated
 "TOMORROW day of nonviolent protest at the national level, these are the gathering points:" and tweeted all of them along with times that they would be meeting up.
 The students are risking not only their freedom but their very lives for a free Venezuela the least that the outside world can do is be vigilant and denounce any abuses by the Maduro regime.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Month of Remembrance for Harold and Oswaldo

Oswaldo and Harold:
Today marks one month from the two year mark of the day that the lives of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and Harold Cepero Escalante were brought to an end. The Christian Liberation Movement over Facebook announced that today June 22, 2014 ( a month before the 2 years of the deaths that have not been cleared up of Harold Cepero and Oswaldo Payá) begins the MONTH OF REMEMBRANCE FOR HAROLD AND OSWALDO. Each day they will recall a piece of information in order  to continue insisting that their deaths be investigated. We will be reproducing them below.

The first item of information that they present is that nearly two years after the families of the two men requested their autopsies:

1. They (Cuban officials) still have not handed over the autopsies to the families.

2. On July 22, a call comes into Bayamo Hospital "I am Lieutenant Colonel of the MININT and I need you to send an ambulance." The nurse replies, "I'm Queen Elizabeth, you know that there are no ambulances and the wounded are brought in the first vehicle that you find." "I repeat that I am Lieutenant Colonel and that you send an ambulance." WHAT WAS A LIEUTENANT COLONEL OF THE MININT. AT THAT TIME, DOING IN THAT ROAD MOMENTS AFTER THE EVENTS?

3. On Saturday July 21, Angel Carromero goes to a currency exchange agency. The clerk asks for your trip and Angel replies that he would visit Varadero. July 22 at 4:15 am the regime Twitterer, Yohandry Fontana tweets "oswaldo goes to varadero" 

4. Aron Modig remembers with great photographic clarity and precision all the details of their stay in Cuba, from the days before and after the tragedy, but absolutely does not remember anything about what happened that day July 22, he doesn't even remember having sent the first message that said that another vehicle had forced them off the road.

5 . July 22 at 5pm, in a telephone call, Felix Rivero Cordoví from Bayamo: "Oswaldo Payá has died in a collision with a police car"

6. A doctor, surnamed Perez, when nurses expressed interest in the state of health of Harold Cepero, said: "What is all the fuss, if he is a delinquent who was bringing bombs".

7. In a report read to several friends of the MCL in the hospital of Bayamo, the captain of the forensic police Fulgencio Medina, mentioned the involvement in what happened of another vehicle that was driving in parallel, a red Lada. Angel Carromero first confirmed that a white Lada (of the police), then a red lada followed them, and then a larger blue vehicle (Harold told him it had the license plate of state security) which was the one that hit them. 

8. Cuban experts consulted by the first lawyer who Angel Carromero had told him that forensic evidence presented by the regime was inconsistent. For example, the difference in the description of the displacements between the rear wheels was implausible. 

9. A few years prior to his death, a neighbor alerted Oswaldo that someone had loosened the screws to the wheel of his VW. Without this notice, he could have taken a trip and his whole family could have died. And what would have been the theory of Pablo Iglesias that the deaths in this unconsummated attack was an accident or else the regime would have also killed the other witnesses? (as he has said to justify the Cuban tyranny in the deaths of Harold and Oswaldo )

10 -. Bayamo Hospital, July 22, 2012, in the afternoon. Ángel Carromero is on a stretcher and Aron Modig is brought beside him.
Angel: Aron, did they hit us from behind?
Aron: Yes
Angel: Do you think they'll kill us?
Aron: Probably

11. Poem from Cuba

12. María Fuster, vice president of European popular youth, who was in contact with Aron Modig on the day of July 22 in a tweet described the events as a tragic attack and mentioned that the two dissidents were MURDERED. She later deleted the tweets.

13. A senior official in the Spanish Foreign Ministry commented privately that Oswaldo was alive when he was taken out of the vehicle. 

14 An inconsistent sequence. In the photos of the vehicle that the Cuban regime presented are seen details of damage and position that demonstrate they were staged.

15. Video “Remembering Harold”

16. They killed them when they were on the path. THE PEOPLES PATH

17. Music "Todos Cubanos" (All Cubans)  Lyrics by Oswaldo Payá

18. Dictatorships are neither right or left, they are merely dictatorships. - Oswaldo Payá Strasbourg, December 10, 2002 

19. Signatures requesting an investigation

20. All Cubans, all brothers and now freedom.

21. MCL members in Cuba request investigation into the deaths of Harold Cepero and Oswaldo Payá

22. “Oswaldo Payá” Prize II granted to Venezuelan Table of Democratic Unity (MUD)

23. Harold. The sense of charity and love

24. Witness statements that contradict the version of regime (and who were contacted by Spanish) disappeared from where they were stored.
25. Oswaldo Payá, May 2000

26. “They have told me that they will kill me before this regime ends, but I will not flee." - Oswaldo Payá.

27. Poem from Cuba . By Omar Lores MCL

28. "To those who persecute us we say: I do not hate you, but I do not fear you." - Oswaldo Payá

29. "Cubans do not know how to,  we can not,  and do not want to live without freedom." - Oswaldo Payá 

30. "For the sake of your family, you must accept what Elizardo Sánchez says, that it was an accident." It was the call made to Carlos Payá on July 25,  2014 by the director of the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights ( Observatorio Cubano para los Derechos Humanos )

On June 17, 2014 in Geneva Switzerland the spokesman of the Christian Liberation Movement in Europe, Regis Iglesias accompanied Ángel Francisco Carromero Barrios the Spaniard, driving the car on the day Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero were killed and addressed a forum at the United Nations hosted by UN Watch and the Cuban Democratic Directorate in which they called for an international investigation into the two deaths. You can watch it below along with the hysterical reaction by the Cuban diplomat in the question and answer session that followed.

In the audience the U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper reaffirmed the position of the U.S. government:

“We reiterate our call for an independent international investigation into the death of Oswaldo Payá.”
"We have a simple question: What is Cuba afraid of?"

Following outbursts by Cuban and Venezuelan delegates during the event the U.S. Ambassador sent out the following Tweet: "Cuba [is] trying to stifle dissent at the UN, just as it does at home."

As the two year mark of the suspicious deaths of Oswaldo and Harold approach they are remembered as is the call for an international investigation no matter how much the dictatorship in Cuba wishes that were not the case.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What Chamber of Commerce won't tell taxpayers about cost of normalization of Cuba trade

“Ignorance ain't our problem. It's what we 'know' that ain't true.” - Will Rogers

Just business. Nothing personal.

Passions run high in the sanctions debate on Cuba, and everyone is entitled to their opinion but not their own set of facts. Below you will find sourced information regarding the U.S. Trade Embargo on Cuba with the objective of contributing to the ongoing debate and discussion. When one is reviewing any policy between those who advocate maintaining the status quo and those advocating scrapping it there is a third position that needs to be considered: "Does it serve the just interests of the United States?" 

Under George W. Bush's presidency the United States became Cuba's fifth leading trading partner

For example when Jeffrey Goldberg cites the availability of American food products in one of the Cuban government shops for tourists, and says he doesn't know the "mechanism" of how it bypassed the American economic embargo" he is apparently unaware that President Bill Clinton shook hands with Fidel Castro in September of 2000 and a month later signed the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act and opened cash and carry trade with the Castro dictatorship at the end of his Administration.  At the time of its passage,  Fidel Castro said "his country would not buy 'even a grain of rice' under the current terms."  The Cuban dictator ended up buying much more than a grain of rice under those terms. Between 2000 and 2013 American companies have sold $4.689 billion dollars in goods to the Castro regime on a cash and carry basis. Despite the 2003 crackdown on dissidents known as the Black Cuban Spring where the Bush Administration tightened sanctions on being able to travel to Cuba and set limits lower on remittances sent to the island. However, nothing was changed in the cash and carry sales made by U.S. companies to the Castro regime.Towards the end of the Bush Administration in August of 2008 the Cuban government announced that the United States was its fifth leading trading partner.

Chart from the U.S..- Cuba Trade and Economic Council, Inc.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a February 2014 post cites a March 2010 study by Texas A&M University that claims that "easing restrictions on agricultural exports and lifting the travel ban could result in up to $365 million in additional sales of U.S. goods and create 6,000 new jobs in the United States." Its not the first time that such a claim has been made back in 2002 a group that advocated lifting the embargo, the Cuba Policy Foundation, produced a report claiming that the cost to farmers was up to $1.24 billion annually. Looking back today in 2014 the economic data raises an important question. Professor C. Parr Rosson who authored the 2002 study does a break down of trade through 2011  that demonstrates that the peak year of trade between Cuba and the United States was 2008. Despite further loosening of sanctions under the Obama Administration and a more conciliatory posture annual trade with the Castro regime dropped from the peak year of $710,086,323.00 in 2008 to $348,747,293.00 in 2013. Could it be that trade considerations by the Castro regime are subject first to political considerations? If so then what will trade look like when relations are normalized with Cuba and the United States no longer has the leverage of the trade embargo?

What the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn't tell U.S. taxpayers

Countries around the world that have "normal" trade relations with Cuba have had a different track record with the island. First on April 23, 2014 Moody's Investor Service downgraded Cuba's already poor credit rating to Caa2 from Caa1which Nasdaq defines as follows: "Obligations rated Caa2 are judged to be of poor standing and are subject to very high credit risk."  Canadians have had to pursue Cuban maritime debts seizing Cuban vessels and negotiating payment through Canadian courts. This is not an isolated case. Russia, Venezuela, China, Japan, Spain, Argentina, France, Romania, Brazil, Italy, and Mexico are owed billions of dollars. Russia is forgiving $29 billion dollars of debt that the Castro regime owed it and Mexico is waiving 487 million dollars of debt owed it by the regime in Havana.  All these countries have commercial relations  with Cuba and extended the government credit. 

James Prevor, President and Editor in Chief of the publication Produce Business in October of 2002 in the article, Cuba Caution, reported on how Cuba "had exhausted all its credit lines and, at best, was simply rotating the accounts. When the opportunity came to buy from the United States, Cuba simply abandoned all those suppliers who supported the country for 40 years and began buying from us."  The suppliers were not the ones impacted by Cuba's failure to pay its debts, the taxpayers of the suppliers' home countries were the one's left holding the tab.

When the United States "normalizes" relations with Cuba it will provide standard loan guarantees to minimize the risks of banks and businesses selling to Cuba. While the U.S. Chamber of Commerce touts the virtues of free trade, free markets and free enterprise in its advocacy for lifting economic sanctions on Cuba what it is actually pursuing is trade with the Cuban government that passes the risk of not getting paid on to taxpayers.  Darío Fernández-Morera an associate professor at North Western University in the May 1, 2014 issue of Chronicles in the article The Cost of Normalization reports that the Small Business Exporters Association announced 
"since March 2009, a select group of commercial banks now will be able to offer terms of 180 days to five years on federally-guaranteed loans to the foreign buyers of U.S. exports without having to obtain prior federal approval.  ... Because of the foreign risks involved  in export lending, most commercial banks through-out the world do not make these loans without government guarantees. In the U.S., the guarantees are provided by the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), a federal agency.
Twelve years ago Prevor predicted where things have now arrived in the Cuba policy debate as far as Agro-business is concerned:
But what the really big grain traders want is to sell to Cuba on credit - and get those credits provided or guaranteed by various federal loan programs. In effect, these agribusiness behemoths want to sell to Cuba and have the U.S. tax- payer pick up the tab. And their bet is that once produce shippers have gotten a taste of the business, they will become a kind of Amen corner for the Cuban lobby, pushing Congress to approve whatever laws will be to the liking of the Cuban government. This really brings to the forefront why trade with a communist country poses unique dangers to a democratic society.
A policy of normalization with the current government in Cuba may be good for Agro-business, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the Castro regime but it will not be good for American taxpayers. Compared to the previous half century of public policy on Cuba the observation that things can go from bad to worse seems appropriate.

Many claim the U.S. trade embargo is a failure but is that a fact?

If the U.S. trade embargo has been a failure as the Boston Globe, and Jeffrey Goldberg have recently asserted and a failure that has been decades long as Daniel Griswold, then of the CATO Institute, argued in 2005 then why has it persisted?  The usual explanation is the power of Cuban exiles in Miami but another explanation is that it hasn't been a failure and has achieved important objectives. Dr. Stephen Wilkinson of the International Institute for the Study of Cuba at London Metropolitan University argued in a 2008 paper that the "Cuban embargo is an example of a successful failure." The reality is that the trade embargo has not been static but has undergone changes over the past five decades under different Administrations and achieved important objectives.

Policy goals of the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba

During the Cold War (1960 -1991)

In the aftermath of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis the objective of the trade embargo was set for the rest of the Cold War in a Memorandum From the Coordinator of Cuban Affairs (Cottrell) to the Executive Committee of the National Security Council, January 24, 1963 which in part states:

“We will not, of course, abandon the political, economic and other efforts of this hemisphere to halt subversion from Cuba, nor our purpose and hope that the Cuban people shall some day be truly free."


-  Reducing the capabilities of the Castro regime to direct and support subversion and insurrection within the other OAS states;
- Maximizing the cost to the Soviet Union of supporting the Castro regime;

Analysis:  With the notable exception of the triumph of the Sandinista rebels in 1979 financed and backed by the Cubans, ( at a time when President Carter tried to normalize relations with the Cuban government ) the Castro regime's insurrections failed to succeed in the Americas and Soviet expenditures in Cuba were high but whether or not that contributed to its collapse is a subject for debate.

After the Cold War (1992 - Present)

Following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 the U.S. trade embargo was overhauled first in the Cuban Democracy Act of  1992.  In 1996 in response to the February 24, 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shoot down as an alternative to military action on the Cuban government the Embargo was again overhauled and toughened in the The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 but also spelled out how and under what conditions the Embargo would be ended.


- To maintain sanctions on the Castro regime so long as it continues to refuse to move toward democratization and greater respect for human rights; 
- To be prepared to reduce the sanctions in carefully calibrated ways in response to positive developments in Cuba;

Trade will not change the Castro regime's hostility

Trade with Cuba has not changed the Castro regime's hostility toward the United States or other democracies in the region. The example of Venezuela should be both instructive and a caution to those who, like Daniel Griswold claim that "Cuba does not pose a significant military threat to the U.S. or to other countries in the region” citing a report from the Defense Intelligence Agency that was written by Ana Belen Montes, a Cuban spy who did a lot of damage to American intelligence. By the time Venezuelans began to voice their concerns it was too late and the consequences for Venezuela have been and continue to be dire.

One final observation

Who do you think has more leverage in a negotiation?  The country that has economic sanctions in place and 14 years of trade surpluses with Cuba as its fifth leading trading partner or one of the long line of countries that have loaned the Cuban government billions of dollars in loans that it has defaulted on?