Thursday, December 17, 2015

Open Letter to President Obama on U.S. Cuba policy by Free Cubans

Free Cubans analyze U.S. Cuba policy outlining the negative consequences of the past year and the future in open letters to President Obama. The first is a video letter produced by the Cuban Democratic Directorate in which activists and the parents of Mario de la Peña, one of the four men, murdered on February 24, 1996 in a murder conspiracy engineered by the Castro dictatorship address the shortcomings of the policy. The second is a letter by 126 former political prisoners who collectively served 1,945 years in Castro's prisons calling on President Obama to revisit his Cuba policy.  


Center for a Free Cuba sent an e-mail that in part reported the following: "The letter was given to the National Security Council at 9:38 this morning. The letter was given by Ernesto Diaz Rodríguez, former Cuban political prisoner and poet who served more than 22 years in Castro’s political prisons and forced labor camps. At 11 AM there will be a demonstration of political prisoners, families, and friends in front of the White House requesting that President Barack Obama ask Raul Castro to stop the attacks against the Ladies in White and to stop the beatings. The prisoners hope that if their request reaches the President, President Obama will call Raul Castro on the telephone to ask him to stop the beatings in Cuba."  

December 17, 2015

Mr. Barack H. Obama
President of United States of America
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Mr. President:

Based on our history and experience as political prisoners under Castro’s totalitarian regime, the new Cuba policy established by your Administration has been a regrettable mistake. This will prolong the life of the dictatorship, is worsening the human rights situation there, marginalizing the democratic opposition and compromising U.S. national security.

The normalization of relations is creating false expectations and granting benefits to the tyrannical regime in Cuba; it is also allowing the Paris Club to forgive billions in debt providing the regime hard currency which it funnels into its most repressive institutions: the military and intelligence services giving new life to what we’re dying institutions. Human rights violations in Cuba have a terrible history, but the current policy has taken a bad situation and made it worse. Violent beatings against activists peacefully assembling have escalated and worsened over 2015.

Politically motivated arbitrary detentions in Cuba as of the end of November 2015 are a documented total of 7,686 and are on track to break the previous record set in 2014 with 8,899 arrests. Over the course of this year the number of detentions have escalated: 178 in January; 492 in February; 610 in March; 338 in April; 641 in May; 563 in June; 674 in July; 768 in August; 882 in September; 1,093 in October; and 1,447 in November. Political prisoners continue to be a reality in Cuba.

Despite the claim that there would be continued support for improved human rights and democratic reforms in Cuba the past year has demonstrated otherwise. Inviting the Castro regime to the VII Summit of the Americas in Panama in April of 2015, violated the democratic ideals of the summit. The dictatorship’s anti-democratic and violent nature was made evident during the Summit with Cuban nationals and U.S. citizens beaten up by state security and requiring hospitalization and summit events interrupted by acts of repudiation organized by the Castro regime. The U.S. government responses were low level pro-forma protests while President Obama met with Raul Castro as an equal.

The Administration’s new Cuba policy over the past year has compromised U.S. national security. First, commuting Gerardo Hernandez’s two life sentences; he was convicted for among other things conspiracy to murder three U.S. citizens and one resident of the U.S., and returning him to Cuba where he received a hero’s welcome in what was an immense propaganda victory for the Castro regime, sending a dangerous signal to those who would harm Americans.

Secondly, removing Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list on May 29, 2015 despite: 1) the Castro regime being caught smuggling heavy weapons and ammunition through Colombia on February 28, 2015. 2) Being linked to international drug trafficking along with its client state Venezuela as reported on January 27, 2015. 3) Being in violation of UN international sanctions to North Korea on July 15, 2013 when caught smuggling tons of weapons and ammunition including ballistic missile technology. Ignoring this will get more Americans killed and undermine U.S. interests.

Finally, having the US Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas meet with the Castro regime’s Interior Minister Major General Carlos Fernandez Gondin in what was officially described as a visit of collaboration and engagement sends worrisome signals that should concern those who care about national security. Gondin has a history of engaging in the mistreatment of opposition activists and has an agenda to undermine U.S. interests, legitimizing him with an official visit sends a terrible message.

We the undersigned are political prisoners who collectively have served 1,945 years in prison for resisting the Castro dictatorship and fighting for democracy in our homeland of Cuba. We are writing this letter out of a deep conviction that this new U.S. Cuba policy will not only harm Cuban aspirations for a free and democratic Cuba while worsening human rights there but also endanger American lives.


NAME:                                     YEARS IN PRISON:
Orestes Abreu                                        5
Israel Abreu Villarreal                           14
Dr. José Aguiar                                     15
Nicolás Aguiar                                      15
Ángel Alfonso Alemán                          18
Felipe Alonso                                        15
Miguel Álvarez Cardentey                     24
Bernardo Álvares Perdomo                  10
Francisco Álvarez Rojas                       13
Jorge Arrastía                                       15
 Ángel Ávalos                                        17
Gabriel Astengo                                      9
José Bello                                               9
Emilio Bringas                                       15
Rodolfo Camps Verdecia                        9
Aurelio Candelaria Velázquez               18
Héctor Carbonell                                     5
Carlos Casanova                                  20
Pedro Castillo                                       20
Orlando Castro                                     10
Joaquín Chanyín                                  18
Georgina Cid                                        15
Pedro Corzo                                           7
Enrique Cosío                                      13
René Cruz Cruz                                   17
Ángel Cuadra Landrove                       15
Ignacio Cuesta                                     29
Ileana Curra Luzón                                3
Pascual Ovidio Delgado                      15
Javier Denis                                        16
Ángel F. De Fana                                20
José M. Del Pino Martínez                 19
Jesús Díaz Martínez                          14
Ernesto Díaz Rodríguez                     22
Vicente Echerri                                     2.5
Cándido Elejalde                                12
Guillermo Estévez                              19
Mario Fajardo                                     17
Jorge Fernández                                  6
José L. Fernández                               6
Oneida Fernández                             10
Alberto Fibla González                       26
Osvaldo Figueroa                               24
José Luis Fornell                                12
Pedro Fuentes Cid                             16
Ángel García Martínez                       10
Hiran González                                  11 months
Teodoro González Alvarado              21
Luis González Infante                       16
Jesús González Martínez                 15
Rubén Gonzalo García                     18
Elias Gonzalo García                        14
Alberto Grau                                      25
Manuel F. Guevara                            29
Jorge Gutiérrez Izaguirre                  18
José A. Gutiérrez Solana                  10
Basilio Guzmán  Marrero                  22
Jorge Guzmán Chaple                     13
Ambrosio Guzmán                           15
Rafael Hernández                              4
Sergio Hernández                             12
Dasio René Hernández Peña           28
Servando Infante                              18
Kemel Jamis Bernal                          14        
José A. Jiménez                                12
Roberto Jiménez                               17
Tobías Junco                                     10
Antonio Lamas                                   22
Gloria Lassales                                    6
Isidoro López                                       2 
Pedro López González                       10
Pedro Juan López Díaz   (Vzla)          10
Reinaldo López Lima                          23            
Antonio López Muñoz                         27
Jesús Lucena                                     18
Maritza Lugo                                        5
Carlos Fausto Mariscal                      28
Ino Martel Casuso                               6
Domingo Martínez                               9
Leuterio Martínez                              12
Teodoro Martínez                              16
Emilio Martínez Venega                    14
Luis Massón                                        6
Eduardo Ochoa                                   9
Ángel Pardo Mazorra                        24
Ramón Méndez Pimentel                  26
Ricardo Montero Duque                    25
Eduardo Morales                                 6
Alejandro Moreno Maya                    18
Olga Morgan                                     14
Sixto Nicot                                         18
Emelina Núñez                                    6
Pablo Palmiere                                  18
Roberto Martín Pérez                        28
Ildefonso Pérez                                   6
Roberto Perdomo                              28
Roberto Pizano                                 18
Carlos Pons                                       20
Ramón (Rino) Puig                            15
Pablo Prieto Castillo                          26
José L. Pujals Mederos                     27
J. René Ramos                                 21
Hernán Reyes                                     8
Roger Reyes                                     20
José del Río                                      15
Agapito Rivera                                  25
Agustín Robaina                               15
Ofelia Rodríguez                               14
Nelson Rodríguez Pérez                     9
Jesús Rodríguez Beruvides              16
Tebelio Rodríguez San Román         15
Aracely Rodríguez San Román         15
Gerardo Rodríguez San Román        15
Rodolfo Rodríguez San Román         15
José O. Rodríguez Terreiro                23
Lionel Rodríguez de la Torre              10
Ana María Rojas                                12
Nellys Rojas Morales                           9
Caridad Roque                                   16
Alvin Ros                                              6
Enrique Ruano Gutiérrez                     8
Ariel Semanat                                    18
Evaristo Sotolongo                             16
Arturo Suárez Ramos                        23
Luis M. Tapia                                      11
Efraín Taquechel                               10
Ricardo Toledo                                    9
Armando Yong                                  21

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