Thursday, February 14, 2019

Five years after 12F: The Youth Day when Maduro's Snipers Executed Nonviolent Youth and Kept Doing It

"Gentlemen, he who is here will go out tomorrow to find a better future." - Bassil Alejandro Dacosta, age 24 , over Facebook on February 11, 2014. He was murdered the next day by the Maduro regime.

Robert Redman with other youths carrying Bassil Dacosta on February 12, 2014.
Five years ago nonviolent student protesters Bassil Da Costa and Robert Redman were gunned down on February 12, 2014 in Venezuela, while engaged in nonviolent street protests against the government of Nicolas Maduro. Robert Redman was shot and killed hours after he had carried Bassil, who had also been shot and died earlier that same day, and tweeted about it.

"Today I was hit with a rock in the back, a helmet in my nose. I swallowed tear-gas, carried the kid who died, and what did you do?" - Robert Redman, age 28 over twitter on February 12, 2014 
On February 12, 2014 Venezuela's National Youth Day millions of young students took to the streets to nonviolently protest "the social and economic crisis caused by the illegitimate government that Venezuela has today."  

Young Venezuelans inside and outside of the country mobilized in a coherent and sustained effort to expose the anti-democratic nature of the Maduro regime. A full and brief explanation was offered by Andreina Nash at the time in the video titled: What's going on in Venezuela in a nutshell.

The regime violence had escalated in the days prior to February 12th. On February 11, 2014 in an update via twitter from Roderick Navarro and Guido Mercado they reported, "wounded by bullets today: Jorge Monsalve 20 years old, Franco Perez 15 years old (Thorax), Pedro Alison 24 years old (Left arm), Anny Paredes 36 years old (Abdomen)."  On the days following February 12th the regime orchestrated violence and killings continued.

Robert Redman and Bassil Alejandro Dacosta murdered five years ago.
On May 18, 2017 The Miami Herald reported that it had a secret recording of a Venezuelan general advocating for the use of snipers against street demonstrators "in the future." The sad news is that this has been a practice long adopted by the Maduro regime in Venezuela.

Genesis Carmona is evacuated on a motorcycle after being shot.

Génesis Carmona, a local beauty queen, was just 22 years old and nonviolently expressing her desire for a better Venezuela when she was shot in the head on February 18, 2014 and died a day later. 

Génesis was marching at approximately 4:00 pm on Tuesday February 18, 2014, near Cedeño Avenue and the intersection of Carabobo, when  a group of masked gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on the demonstrators. She was shot in the head in the left occipital region. Génesis was with her sister Alejandra Carmona at the moment it happened. Alejandra in a radio interview said "I was with her, when the motorized units (of the Government) arrived, we fled running. We were stopped on a street corner, we were looking up and then suddenly she fell."   

According to VOXXI the "22-year-old was rushed in a motorcycle to the Medical Center Guerra Mendez in Valencia, where she was operated and kept in intensive care. Less than 24 hours later on 12:14 p.m., the doctors announced that she had died from her injury. 

Five years will have passed in five days and those responsible for her murder have yet to be brought to justice, and the extrajudicial killings continue in Venezuela.

Génesis Carmona: Shot in the head by a sniper on February 18, 2014
Geraldine Moreno was shot in the head with buckshot on February 19, 2014 in Tazajal, located in Naguanagua, in the state of Carabobo while taking part in a protest and in one of her last tweets on February 17th explained what motivated her to take part in the demonstrations: "No one sends me I go because I want to defend my Venezuela." She died from her injuries on Saturday, February 22, 2014. She was 23 years old.

Geraldine Moreno (age 23) shot in the head with buckshot and died

 In the evening hours of March 18, 2014 Anthony Rojas died of a gunshot wound to the face. He was a second semester student of mechanical engineering at the University of Tachira (UNET). He died in a presumed shootout near a shop in the Diamante sector of Táriba. It was learned that Rojas was in the commercial establishment buying drinks with other youth when motorized units passed by fired and into the place. He was eighteen years old. 

Anthony Rojas shot in the face and killed 3/18/14
On February 12, 2019 hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets to protest against the Maduro regime, to demand a democratic restoration, and remember those killed by the dictatorship. The theme for the mobilization of the student movement on February 12th was "The Youth Do Not Forget" and the mass nonviolent movement took to the streets.

Regime tactics have grown more deadly over the past five years.  In 2017 Nicolas Maduro ordered the formation of the FAES - "the Spanish acronym for the Bolivarian National Police’s Special Action Forces," according to Caracas Chronicles " are police Death Squads in all but name."

Maikel Jesús Cumare Ávila (age 21) murdered by Maduro's death squad on 1/8/19
Maikel Jesús Cumare Ávila was 21 years old when he was murdered by FAES officers in front of his mother, Desiré Cúmare, on January 8, 2019. At 9:00 a.m., his mom heard a knock on the door. In a flash, masked men had a gun to her face. They threatened to shoot her if she didn’t open the metal door. According to his mom, "Maikel took the keys and opened himself. They burst in, pushed him to the ground and started kicking his head against the floor. That’s how they killed him. They cracked his skull.”

The Chavez-Maduro regime was in its 20th year, before the arrival of the new and legitimate government of President Juan Guaido. Although now illegitimate and a tyranny, Maduro's regime, still continues to carry out extrajudicial killings and attempt to block humanitarian aide for Venezuelans.  

According to Amnesty International there have been more than 8,200 extrajudicial executions between 2015 and June 2017 in Venezuela.

Two question arise in the midst of the continuing repression: How many Venezuelans have been murdered by the Chavez-Maduro regime between 1999 and 2019?  and "When will this regime that sends out death squads to murders students and artists finally stop?"

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Simple math: #YoVotoNo = #YoNoVoto = #N1Mas = #NoMoreCastroRegime

"Nonviolent action is just what it says: action which is nonviolent, not inaction. This technique consists, not simply of words, but of active protest, noncooperation, and intervention. Overwhelmingly, it is a group or mass action." - Gene Sharp  

#YoVotoNo =  #YoNoVoto = #N1Mas = #NoMoreCastroRegime
The Cuban opposition today is preparing for the February 24, 2019 sham the Castro regime calls a "constitutional referendum."  Part of the Cuban democratic opposition is calling on Cubans to stay home and not vote. While another part of the opposition is calling on Cubans to go to the polls and vote no.

The current Cuban Constitution, a Stalinist invention adopted in 1976 was modified twice: first in 1992 and a second time in 2002, but for the purposes of this essay will not focus on the changes, but on Article 137 that deals with constitutional changes.
"If the modification has to do with the integration and authority of the National Assembly of the People’s Power or its Council of State or involves any rights and duties contained in the Constitution, it shall also require the approval of the majority of citizens with the right to vote by means of a referendum called upon for this purpose by the Assembly itself."
This means that a majority of the total population of eligible voters would have to vote "Yes" for the new draft of the constitution to pass. Both opposition campaigns are valid and compliment each other.  Whether one refuses to vote or votes no they are not part of the "Yes," and are rejecting the Castro dictatorship.

Despite this, there is still a debate that presents two positions. On the one hand encouraging Cubans to abstain from voting is an act of non-cooperation and powerful. It also is relatively low risk.  On the other hand voting no is also relatively low risk, but presents a possibility to mobilize around polling places, and also present challenges to vote count methodologies in an act of nonviolent intervention that can also generate change.

A democratic movement has room for debate and conversation, but one should also remember the old Roman dictum for conquering enemies: divide et impera (divide and rule).

These are tactical debates within a shared nonviolent strategic network and the Cuban democratic opposition should be able to navigate these differences and engage in conversations and understandings in order to present a united and democratic front against the dictatorship. It also presents an excellent opportunity to expose the anti-democratic nature of the Castro regime.

21 years ago, under very different circumstances, on the other side of the world a democratic opposition was able to work together to send a message rejecting a long term dictatorship.
In 1988 Chile held a plebiscite on the rule of General Augusto Pinochet who had taken power on September 11, 1973 and ruled over the country for 15 years.  This plebiscite would mark the beginning of the end of the Pinochet dictatorship.  To vote "Yes" was to vote for continued military rule and to vote "No" was to vote for a democratic restoration.

On February 24, 2019. Cubans will have an opportunity to reject the murderous dictatorship in Havana. This sham vote will take place twenty three years to the day that two Brothers to the Rescue planes were shot down over international airspace while engaged in a search and rescue for Cuban rafters killing the four pilots on board.

Let Cuban democrats unite in rejection of the Castro regime, and in support of justice and a democratic transition. Let us also remember Armando Alejandre Jr. (age 45), Carlos Alberto Costa (29), Mario Manuel de la Peña (24), and Pablo Morales (29), the four men murdered in an act of state terrorism by the Castro regime on February 24, 1996 while they sought to save Cuban lives.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Cuban prisoner of conscience marks 803 days in prison.

"I regret that the EU does not require Cuba to stop being a totalitarian regime." - Eduardo Cardet, over twitter on September 19, 2016

Prisoner of conscience Eduardo Cardet has spent 803 days unjustly imprisoned

Dr. Eduardo Cardet has spent 803 days unjustly imprisoned and separated from his family. Eduardo is a medical doctor, a husband, a father of two small children, and the national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL). MCL is a nonviolent movement that has sought civic means to achieve democratic change in Cuba.

Fidel Castro died on November 25, 2016 while Cardet was outside of Cuba. He was interviewed by international media and gave a frank assessment of Fidel Castro's political legacy and said that there was nothing positive.

Two days after Fidel Castro's death was announced Eduardo Cardet described events as follows: “There are few people in the streets, and lots of police presence. Lots of controls and restrictions. Castro was a man hated and rejected by the Cuban people.”

He returned to Cuba and was beaten up and arrested in front of his wife and children on November 30, 2016. Since that day he has been arbitrarily and unjustly detained by the Castro dictatorship.

Refusing to mourn Fidel Castro's death is punishable by prison in Cuba, and offering a nonviolent political alternative to the existing system is grounds for a prolonged prison sentence.

In March of 2017 he was sentenced to three years in prison, and Amnesty International recognized him as a prisoner of conscience.

The Spanish Senate, members of Congress, international human rights gatherings, civil society and the Christian Liberation Movement have called for his immediate release.

Today, his plight is not forgotten and in the United Kingdom calls for his freedom continue.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Emperor Haile Selasie I: Historic figure of African unity honored in Addis Ababa today

“History teaches us that unity is strength and cautions us to submerge and overcome our differences in the quest for common goals; to strive, with all our combined strength, for the path to true African brotherhood and unity.” Emperor Haile Sellasie I 

PM Abiy Ahmed with Presidents of Rwanda, Ghana & the Chairperson of the AUC

Haile Selassie is being honored today with a statue of his likeness unveiled at the African Union's headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  He is being honored for his role in establishing the African Union's predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The first meeting of the OAU was in Addis Ababa in May of 1963.

Haile Selassie of Ethiopia

Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I was believed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Selassie had served first as regent of Ethiopia from 1916 to 1930 and was emperor from 1930 to 1974. He was the heir to a dynasty that traced its origins to the 13th century, and from there by tradition back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

At the League of Nations in 1936, Emperor Selassie condemned the use of chemical weapons by Fascist Italy against the people of Ethiopia. Ethiopia was the one independent African state during a time when the rest of the continent was under colonial rule. H.I.M. Haile Selassie , the lion of Judah, resisted the Fascist invasion of his homeland Ethiopia and warned the world of its threat when he addressed the League of Nations. He would go into exile in Great Britain but returned home after the defeat of the fascists.

Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I

Emperor Haile Selassie's internationalist views led to Ethiopia becoming a charter member of the United Nations, and his political thought and experience in promoting multilateralism and collective security are still viewed as part of his enduring legacy. Despite inspiring the founding of a religion that today has up to 800,000 followers he remained an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian until his death.

Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed in a communist  military coup and it is believed that the officers smothered him and that Mengistu Haile Mariam: "ordered the emperor's body to be buried head down in the palace and had a lavatory erected over the grave so that he could express daily his contempt for the monarch."
Raul Castro & Fidel Castro with close ally Mengistu Haile Mariam
Winston Churchill had described Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I as "the only enlightened Abyssinian prince." In December 1994 The New York Times reported that an Ethiopian court described "how Emperor Haile Selassie was 'strangled in his bed most cruelly' in 1975 by order of the leaders of a Marxist military coup."

Fidel and Raul Castro were both deeply involved in sending 17,000 Cuban troops to East Africa in assisting Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam in consolidating his rule and eliminating actual and potential opposition in Ethiopia.

Human Rights Watch in their 2008 report on Ethiopia titled outlined "Collective Punishment War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia’s Somali Region" some of the practices carried out by Cuban troops sent there by Fidel and Raul Castro excerpted below:
In December 1979, a new Ethiopian military offensive, this time including Soviet advisors and Cuban troops, “was more specifically directed against the population’s means of survival, including poisoning and bombing waterholes and machine gunning herds of cattle.”
Charles Lane of The Washington Post in the December 1, 2016 article "Castro was no liberator" raises the following question that touches heavily on Ethiopia:
Mengistu participated in a successful military coup against the U.S.-backed Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, eventually seizing power on Feb. 3, 1977,by massacring his rivals in the officer corps. Castro admired this bloody deed as a preemptive strike against “rightists” that showed “wisdom” and cleared the way for Cuba to support Mengistu “without any constraints,” as he explained to East German dictator Erich Honecker in an April 1977 meeting whose minutes became public after the fall of European communism. [...] With the Cuban forces watching his back, Mengistu wrapped up his bloody campaign of domestic repression, known as “the Red Terror,” and sent his own Soviet-equipped, Cuban-trained troops to crush a rebellion in Eritrea. The last Cuban troops did not leave Ethiopia until September 1989; they were still on hand as hundreds of thousands died during the 1983-1985 famine exacerbated by Mengistu’s collectivization of agriculture. 
Mengistu fled into exile on May 21, 1991. Less than a decade later on November 5, 2000, Haile Selassie was given an Imperial funeral by the Ethiopian Orthodox church. Bob Marley's widow, Rita Marley, participated in the funeral.

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Sounds of Crickets: The long silence when Canadian and U.S. diplomats were being harmed in Cuba

Governments waited too long to warn their diplomats, and the lawsuits are now flying.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office criticized the State Department for how it handled an Accountability Review Board (ARB) following the harm done to U.S. diplomats in Havana, Cuba. The reports were downplayed, and did not become public until eight months later, because impacted diplomats were complaining. The same process has played out over in even longer span of time with Canadian diplomats and their foreign service.

Their respective governments waited to long, and underestimated the harm done. Perhaps their mistake was listening to the assurances of the Cuban government.

Twenty six (26) American diplomats and their family members were harmed in Havana, but Cuban officials claimed that the diplomats had preexisting conditions.

In the Canadian case it has been reported that "nine adults and five children from diplomatic families have developed unusual illnesses in Havana, with symptoms including nausea, dizziness, headaches and trouble concentrating." These are the same symptoms reported by the Americans.

If the warning had gone out earlier, and family and essential personal been recalled, perhaps five children would not have been impacted.

The Castro regime has tried to claim that no harm has been done to diplomats in Cuba. The dictatorship claimed they are victims of mass stress and the sounds that they are hearing are crickets.  These charges have been echoed by others that should know better.  Canadian and U.S. diplomats have been harmed in Havana.

These attacks began in November of 2016 and were reported on to official channels in December of 2016. The State Department knew that diplomats were suffering brain trauma in Havana in February of 2017 and evacuated 40 Americans over the next two months.  On January 29, 2018 the news broke that 19 U.S. tourists had also suffered brain trauma in Cuba.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a preliminary report on February 15, 2018 and an accompanying editorial studying health impacts on 21 U.S. government employees in Havana between December 2016 and August 2017. These individuals had severe injuries and the bottom line on medical findings are that:
Concussion-like symptoms were observed in U.S. government personnel in Cuba after they reported hearing intensely loud sounds in their homes and hotel rooms and feeling changes in air pressure caused by an unknown source. The symptoms were consistent with brain injury although there was no history of head trauma.
Castro regime officials on October of 2017 said talk of acoustic strikes was “science fiction” and accused Washington of “slander.” investigating U.S. complaints of attacks that sickened American diplomats in Havana.  Denials continued later in October 2017 but now their narrative was that the alleged noise behind the “sonic attacks” was coming from cicadas and crickets. Cuban scientists convened by the government argued that the symptoms were the product of a "mass psychogenic illness"(MPI). However the JAMA report said MPI was unlikely because some of the individuals had no idea others had been affected and it "is often associated with transient, benign symptoms with rapid onset and recovery often beginning with older individuals.”

Canada and the United States waited too long to warn their diplomats, and the lawsuits are now flying. Meanwhile  the State Department is contracting a team of scientists and medical doctors to try and find out what happened.

Wonder when someone will be able to sue the Cuban government for failing to protect diplomats on their soil, and discounting the threat not only to the diplomats, but also their families? Waiting for an answer one can expect to hear crickets.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A Tale of Two Tweets: Why 80% of Venezuelans want Nicolas Maduro and the Castro regime to go away.

Two tweets explain why Nicolas Maduro and the Castro regime are detested in Venezuela.

(Left) Tons of aid blocked from Venezuelans. (Right) Tons of aid sent by Maduro to Cuba
Venezuelans are going hungry and moderate to severe malnutrition of children under five is increasing in the country. To add insult to injury the response of the Maduro regime is to block aide entering Venezuela, and condition assistance to political support. Blocking humanitarian aid has been going on for some time. At the same time the Maduro regime is exporting humanitarian assistance to Cuba while their own people literally starve. Two tweets set 48 hours apart dramatize this reality. This is why 80% of Venezuelans want him gone.

On  February 4, 2018 Maduro shipped 100 tons of aid to Cuba while Venezuelan children are dying of hunger  and on February 6, 2018 Maduro, once again, orders humanitarian shipments of aid to be blocked from entering Venezuela.

This is Cuban imperialism in Latin America. Not that the Castro regime helps Cubans in need.
This is why Castro puppet and usurper, Nicolas Maduro, and the Cuban occupation force must go.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Anatomy of a coup in Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro is an usurper

Usurper (noun): a person who takes a position of power or importance illegally or by force.

Nicolás Maduro is an usurper who has carried out a coup against Venezuelan democracy
Diego Zambrano in the Lawfare blog has outlined the constitutional validity of the presidency of Juan Guaidó and the illegitimacy of Nicolas Maduro who is an usurper. It is Maduro who has carried out a slow motion coup undermining Venezuelan democracy.
"The present Venezuelan crisis began on Jan. 10, when Maduro was sworn in for a second term scheduled to end in 2025. Nobody seems to dispute that his first term ended that day, in accordance with Articles 230 and 231 of the Venezuelan Constitution. The relevant question is whether Maduro was in fact reelected and legally president after Jan. 10.

Any plausible reading of the constitution shows that Maduro was not reelected and, indeed, that there has been no election at all for the term beginning Jan. 10. Article 293 governs the process for calling and organizing new presidential elections, delegating to the National Electoral Council control over the process. Members of that body are nominated through a complicated scheme that gives significant power to the National Assembly, the country’s unicameral legislature, under Article 296. To Maduro’s chagrin, however, the National Assembly has been under opposition control since 2015.

In an attempt to circumvent the National Assembly, Maduro created a parallel legislature under Articles 347 and 348. These provisions, however, were meant solely to call for a constitutional convention and required a national referendum (like the one in 1999). Knowing that a popular vote would defeat his proposal, Maduro concocted an “electoral” process that would ensure every member of that alternate assembly would be under his control. That entire process was outside of the constitutional structure and violated the procedures prescribed by Article 347 and Venezuelan law. Under any sensible reading of the constitution, there was no basis for a parallel legislature nor the process by which it was staffed.

Here’s the key connection between that parallel body and the Venezuelan presidential elections: In 2018, the unconstitutional assembly called for, and organized, a presidential election—in direct violation of the constitution. The alternate assembly sidelined the actual National Assembly’s role, staffed the National Electoral Council with Maduro loyalists, and ensured another “election” that would keep Maduro in power."

Undermined election, packed court to gut powers of National Assembly  2015
On December 1, 2015 on his weekly television show Nicolas Maduro spoke clearly on how he would respond to an opposition victory in the legislative elections: "I will never allow this to happen, ever. I would go out on the streets and fight side by side with the people." Even if he were to lose in the elections Maduro declared: "Were we to lose, which I find unimaginable, I will govern with the people in a civilian-military alliance."

Maduro lost the vote, but the opposition had to defend the results.

Venezuela is not a democracy, but a country where contested elections are held within an anti-democratic regime. This has meant that the opposition had to take to the street to ensure that the vote be respected on and following the December 6, 2015 election. There are prisoners of conscience today in Venezuela and the democratic opposition is demanding their release in an amnesty before Christmas which Maduro rejected. 

Bolivarian National Guard firing at protesters in Venezuela
Furthermore the Maduro regime packed the Supreme Court and used the court to undo the results of the National Assembly elections by challenging the results in 22 races. By denying the opposition its super majority it opens the path to gutting the National Assembly's powers replacing it with a newly created and un-elected communal congress. 

Maduro took things a step further using the supreme court to strip the National Assembly of the power over the Central Bank and leaving it firmly in the executive, i.e. Maduro's hands. 

Illegally suspended a recall referendum
On October 20, 2016 Nicolas Maduro illegally suspended a recall referendum because the dictatorship knew that it could not obtain a favorable result.  

Military snipers targeted and killed protesters on Sunday in Venezuela

Created an alternative to the National Assembly with a fraudulent vote (2017)
The so-called vote for a Constituent Assembly on July 30, 2017 was to do away with the last vestiges of the old democratic order following the Cuban Stalinist model as the end goal. This is why it was so profoundly unpopular.  Despite threats of reprisals from the Maduro regime for those who did not go out to vote only 12.4% of Venezuelan voters took part in the sham election and 87.6% abstained from taking part in it.

The Maduro regime's election officials claimed that 8.1 million voted in their sham election, but Smartmatic, the company that provided the voting machines issued a statement that the turnout numbers had been tampered with.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemned "the new measures taken by the Government of Venezuela to prevent the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and to prohibit the exercise of the right to protest and peaceful assembly in the context of the electoral process convened on July 30, 2017 for the National Constituent Assembly."

Venezuela's Presidential election: If you don't vote for Nicolas Maduro, you don't eat. (2018)

Ration cards were issued for food in a country were mass hunger is an ever present reality and it is understood by many that following regime instructions, such as going to vote in a sham election, is necessary to be eligible for rations. The Maduro regime has continued, the process started under Hugo Chavez, of taking over sectors of the economy. The electoral calculus is clear: "Everyone who has this card must vote," said Nicolas Maduro and continued, "I give and you give." This is part of the reason why the international community refused to recognize the May 20, 2018 election. It was called early by Maduro, and did not respect international norms.

Maduro rally of government officials in May of 2018

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

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

The Castro regime's personnel have been training the military, security services and pro-regime militias in tactics and strategies to terrorize and repress the citizenry in Venezuela. Many young Venezuelans have paid the ultimate price for standing up for freedom in their homeland. 

Ramiro Valdez, the Cuban official who constructed the police state in Cuba with the help of the East German Stasi and Soviet KGB, has spent a lot of time in Venezuela installing the police state there.

Nicolas Maduro with his Cuban handlers has undermined the National Assembly, stacking the supreme court, creating an anti-democratic parallel assembly while centralizing all power in the executive, and outlawing freedom of assembly, speech and association. Maduro's regime has invited Russian mercenaries to protect him in Venezuela.  Reports indicate that their are 2,000 Russian nationals working in intelligence roles and reporting to the Ministry of Defense.

Castro regime's Ramiro Valdez with Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro
What we are witnessing today are the last elements of Venezuelan democracy found in the National Assembly seeking to mobilize itself and the country around the constitution and the rule of law to defend itself from Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan tyrant backed by Cuba, Russia, Mainland China, North Korea, Turkey, and Nicaragua.


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Tornado in Havana: Tragedy and Questions

In the eye of the tornado, there's no more high and low, no floor and sky. - Francis Alys 

Damage from tornado that hit Havana on January 27, 2019
Tornado hit Havana, Cuba on Sunday, January 27, 2019 and according to official channels heavily impacted the neighborhoods there of Santo Suárez, Luyanó, Vía Blanca, Regla and Chibás. Six were killed and over 200 injured, out of which 11 are seriously injured.

Initial news reports stated that tornado had winds as high as 62 miles per hour. On January 29, 2019 the estimates of tornado strength were revised by official channels. Reuters cited the Cuban weather service’s Jose Rubiera who said that the tornado “pummeled its way 7.15 miles (11.5 km) through Havana over 16 minutes, at times reaching 0.62 miles (1 km) in diameter.”..."The devastation wrought suggested it was an “EF4” tornado on the Enhanced Fujita scale, the second most powerful category with winds up to 200 miles per hour (322 km per hour), Rubiera told state-run news agency Prensa Latina.”

Tornado damage in Havana
Havana's infrastructure was allowed to degrade for 60 years by the Castro regime that detested its bourgeois past. Tragically, homes that can collapse of their own weight do not do well during a tornado. 

First question that arises: Why was there such a big discrepancy between initial reports of the tornado's strength (62 mph) and later reports (up to 200 mph)?

The tornado hit late Sunday night (January 27th) but despite the carnage, hunger and thirst that did not stop authorities from carrying out their torchlight march to celebrate Jose Marti's birthday on Monday, January 28th, which has led to criticism.

Furthermore, reports emerged that the Cuban government was not providing free humanitarian aide, but selling it at low (subsidized) prices. Finding this hard to believe asked a reporter on the ground, over twitter,  who confirmed it.
Shortly afterwards came across a tweet by Betsy Díaz Velázquez‏ , the Cuban Minister of Interior Commerce, who also gave a breakdown of prices for the purchase of assistance. in areas impacted by the tornado.

This was compounded by news of Cubans trying to directly provide aide to tornado victims being fined, having the aide confiscated and turned away for trying to provide them food and refreshments.

Subsidized prices for food and water are no good for people who have lost everything, and do not have a centavo to their name. This leads to a second question: What are regime officials thinking?

The encounter between president Diaz Canel and residents in Regla who chased after his government entourage shouting "shameless liars" is an indication that this approach is having explosive consequences socially. This leads to a third question: Are regime officials that out of touch or that brazen that they can get away with this without creating even more popular discontent?

Meanwhile in South Florida, there are attempts underway to get humanitarian assistance to the tornado victims in Havana.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Worldwide Protest to Support Venezuelan President Juan Guaido

Viva Venezuela Libre!

Las Mercedes, Venezuela turns out to support President Juan Guaido.
 Caracas Chronicles reported today the following:

"Something astonishing happened this Saturday: protests not only overflowed Caracas and other large cities that have long been opposition bastions, like Maracaibo or Valencia; they expanded to small cities and towns, many of which used to be chavista strongholds. Nothing ever moved people in San Carlos or Altagracia de Orituco against the regime, but now, hit the hardest by the crisis, they’ve also joined mass anti-Maduro demonstrations.

While chavismo only managed to stage a single event in downtown Caracas, an event characterized by the usual state companies with attendance lists, the call made by caretaker President Juan Guaidó mobilized large numbers of citizens in at least 36 confirmed locations all over the country. Moreover, reports of repression aside from short-lived clashes in Caracas are non-existent."

Barquisimeto, Venezuela turns out to support President Juan Guaido.
 In Washington, DC at Washington Square Venezuelans gathered in support of a free Venezuela, and Venezelan President Juan Guaido. They also spoke out about how Maduro was an usurper who had violated the Constitution when his party lost the National Assembly. 

Yours truly was out there with a poster that translated to English read "Down with Cuban Imperialism in Latin America." The Castro regime has colonized and exploited Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. Their totalitarian model once installed is difficult to remove, but hopefully today we are witnessing, after 20 years of struggle the beginning of the end of the suffering of the Venezuelan people and a new dawn of freedom.