Monday, July 13, 2020

Twenty five years after the flotilla to pay tribute to the 37 victims of the "13 de Marzo" Tugboat Massacre: A reflection from back then

Twenty  five years ago, one year after the massacre, Cuban exiles gathered together and set out in a flotilla that peacefully invaded Cuban national territory to travel to the spot where the "13 de Marzo" tugboat sank and where the human remains of the 37 victims still reside never returned to their families to this day to hold religious services for them.


 Hard to believe that its been 25 years.  Found an old essay written  just returned from the flotilla on July 14, 1995 and reproduce excerpts below:

On the Straits

The purpose of the trip is peaceful. The mastermind behind this project is Ramon Saul Sanchez, of the Cuban National Commission. I leave Miami convinced that the possibility of death or imprisonment in Cuba is the likely outcome of this flotilla. As best as one can prepare for such terrible possibilities I am at peace with these grim prospects. Why are we doing this? We do it for the liberation of the Cuban nation. Because we feel a pain in our soul every time we see another raft intercepted in the straits, and we think of all those who have perished. We do it because of the senseless murder of [37] women and children and of the thousands more who have been murdered by Castro''s tyranny. We do it because we must.
[...]

It is still dark when we leave. We pray together for the fulfillment of our non-violent ceremony. We jump aboard a forty foot lobster boat. Ramon Saul Sanchez comes to our boat embraces and shakes hands with some of us. He apologizes that they don't have more room on the lead boat so that we can all travel together. A WSVN reporter and cameraman join us on departure and begin to do interviews. "This is a bad sign," someone says. "How do you figure?" replies another. "This is channel 7 covering us," he continues,"don't you know their motto: if it bleeds it leads." Gentle laughter among those who hear the exchange. 
Later they leave on a speed boat to interview someone else. We sleep and talk. As the hours pass and the sun climbs higher. Anticipation mounts, the smell of diesel and the choppy seas take their toll on the passengers. All of a sudden dozens of dolphins start jumping in the wake of the boat. God's creatures living free on the open sea. A sense of emotional uplift spreads through the boat. Temporarily we forget our worries and enjoy these creatures entertaining themselves and us.

[...]

As we near the12 mile limit we begin to see Cuban aircraft circling. We wave our flags and sing the Cuban national anthem. Joy fills our hearts our mission has been partially accomplished. We can see Democracia in the distance leading us further into Cuban waters. One of my compatriots asks if we have entered Cuban waters. Yes, we tell him. He throws a bucket over the side and draws the Cuban water out and pours it into a bottle shaped like the Virgin. This was his holy water: Cuban water.
At this point we begin to see a military helicopter circling the flotilla. We wave our flags and shout our greetings. The Brothers to the Rescue fly formation with some of the Cuban planes. We see a MiG high overhead, and I feel proud of these pilots in small propellar driven aircraft facing off with military helicopters and MiGs.
As we continue in, we can see the Havana skyline. Someone says they see someone signaling with a mirror from one of the buildings. We begin to make out four dots leaving the island and growing larger. We continue in further. La Democracia speeds ahead. As the ships grow larger; we can see that they are gunboats. 
Our captain stops. His brother tells him to go further, "know when to say when," he responds. As he ponders whether to go further or not. We stare out across the water as La Democracia tries to evade the gunboats and make it to the 6 mile limit. We can see the two gunboats pass on both sides of the ship. 
La Democracia turns around and speeds towards us. They're radio has been knocked out. We need to call the Coast guard. They've been rammed. They have wounded on board, among them Dade County Commisioner Pedro Reboredo, who is going into shock. Our captain radioed in and heads out as fast as the engines will take him.

I learn later that two of the Brothers to the Rescue planes flew over Havana and dropped bumper stickers over the capitol. This was done as a diversionary tactic when the Democracia was attacked by the Cuban gunboats. The bumper stickers read: "Comrades no. Brothers."

Today, as we've done since 1995 we held a silent vigil for justice for the 37 Cuban men, women, and children extra-judicially executed on July 13, 1994. Today, it was at the Embassy of Cuba in Washington DC. Wherever you are in the world I hope you'll join us in continuing this demand for truth and justice using nonviolent means.
 
''There are those who think that we should be full of rancor and a thirst for vengeance but I don't want revenge. I feel sorry for the people who assassinated my family. I can never be compensated for my loss. I will never be happy again with my family surrounding me. There will always be a tinge of sadness but I do want there to be a trial so that this situation can serve as a lesson and that these people or others like them in other parts of the world, don't do this kind of thing again. Not in Cuba. Not anywhere.''

Jorge García, July 13, 2004 (A decade after July 13, 1994 tugboat massacre


In 2006, in the year that we marked  10 years since the Brothers to the Rescue Shootdown the Free Cuba Foundation at Florida International University had both Jose Basulto, of Brothers to the  Rescue and Ramon Saul Sanchez, of the Democracy Movement had a conversation about the realities of US-Cuba relations. A portion of the conversation was recorded and is available on Youtube.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The Castro Regime's role in legitimizing Communist China ending Hong Kong's autonomy

The Castro regime stabbed Hong Kong in the back on July 1st, but it should surprise no one.
 
Cuba diplomat introduces 53-country pro-CCP resolution at UN Human Rights Council 
On July 1, 2020 the Cuban dictatorship introduced a  resolution at the UN Human Rights Council praising China for the passing of the Hong Kong National Security Law.  Fifty three governments backed this resolution endorsing the death of a free Hong Kong.

The Chinese Communist Party in a secretive legislative process circumvented Hong Kong's sovereignty and imposed this new law a day earlier on June 30, 2020, the 23rd anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong. This action is a breach of the agreement made with the British.  Professor Johannes Chan, a legal scholar at the University of Hong Kong in a BBC news report explained that "effectively, they are imposing the People's Republic of China's criminal system onto the Hong Kong common law system, leaving them with complete discretion to decide who should fall into which system." Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, in an interview with the BBC put it more succinctly, "It spells the death knell for Hong Kong."
However, this is consistent with Cuba's actions on the UN Human Rights Council over the years when they have been members. Below is a partial accounting of their defense of Communist China and its atrocities: 
The Castro regime was one of the few voices applauding the June 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre in China congratulating them for "defeating the counterrevolutionary acts." 
On February 2, 2009 during the Universal Periodic Review of China the Cuban Ambassador, Juan Antonio Fernandez Palacios encouraged the Chinese regime to repress human rights defenders in China with more firmness. 
On March 21, 2014 at the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Castro dictatorship again applauded the human rights record of the People's Republic of China, and voted to block the effort of human rights defenders to hold a moment of silence for Cao Shunli. She was an activist who had tried to participate in China’s Universal Periodic Review, but was detained at the airport trying to get on a flight to attend the current session  and accused of "picking quarrels and provoking troubles." Within three months in detention and being denied medical care Cao Shunli died on March 14, 2014.

The Castro regime has had a relationship with China that stretches back to 1959 and saw a close relationship in the first years of Cuba's Communist revolution, but cooled with the Sino-Chinese split in 1966. Ernesto "Che" Guevara left Cuba siding with Mao Zedong and Communist China, while Fidel and Raul Castro backed the Soviet Union. Relations between the Castro regime and Communist China warmed again with the cooling of relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union during the Gorbachev years.  Cuba's defense of the Tinananmen Square massacre in 1989 was a key step to this new era of China-Cuba relations. Below is a presentation from earlier this year that explores this relationship in more detail.


However, the Cuban dictatorship's attack on human rights standards crosses ideological and geographical boundaries that extend far beyond China.
In the 1970s in addition to supporting guerrillas and terrorists the Castro regime also began an unusual relationship with the military dictatorship in Argentina helping to block efforts to condemn it at the United Nations Human Rights Commission for thousands of leftists disappeared by the regime. 
On April 15, 2004 when the United Nations Human Rights Commission decided by a single vote to censure Cuba for its human rights record a Cuban human rights defender Frank Calzon was physically attacked by members of the Cuban diplomatic delegation. According to Freedom House: "Witnesses said a Cuban delegate punched Mr. Calzon, knocking him unconscious. UN guards reportedly protected him from further assault by additional members of the Cuban delegation."
On March 28, 2008 the Castro regime’s delegation together with the Organization of Islamic Congress (OIC) successfully passed resolutions undermining international freedom of expression standards at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The non-invitation invitation of Manfred Nowak, the UN special rapporteur on torture, by the Cuban Ambassador and the Cuban Minister of Justice in January of 2009 to visit Cuba later that same year. Only to be put off without notice again and again through 2009 and 2010 leading to this expert missing opportunities to visit other countries and on June 9, 2010, making the following statement:


“I regret that in spite of its clear invitation, the Government of Cuba has not allowed me to objectively assess the situation of torture and ill-treatment in the country by collecting first-hand evidence from all available sources.”

On August 23, 2011 the Cuban government along with China, Russia and Ecuador voted against investigating gross and systematic human rights violations in Syria.

On February 5, 2012 ALBA Countries reiterated rejection of "foreign interference" in Syria's internal affairs, expressing support for President Bashar al-Assad and confidence that he would resolve the Syrian crisis. ALBA Countries include Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua. Meanwhile in Syria President al-Assad  engaged in massacres throughout the country

On June 1, 2012 at a Special Session on the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria with a special focus on the massacre in El-Houleh the Cuban regime and its allies took a stand against holding the Assad regime accountable for its gross and systematic human rights abuses.


On July 15, 2013: “Panama captured North Korean-flagged ship from Cuba with undeclared military cargo.”  On March 6, 2014 the United Nations released a report indicating that the Castro regime was in violation of international sanctions placed on North Korea and had not cooperated with the investigation.



On March 17, 2014 the UN Human Rights Council “was divided” in its discussion of the atrocities in North Korea between those who want the case to be elevated to the International Criminal Court and those who reject outright the existence of a commission of inquiry and conclusions. The Castro regime vigorously defended the North Korean regime and denounced the inquiry.



On March 28, 2014 at the United Nations Human Rights Council a resolution for “The promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests, tried to safeguard this right” passed but with the narrow defeat of amendments that would have watered it down led by South Africa with the backing of Algeria, Belarus, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Out of that list of countries the one with the closest relationship with South Africa is Cuba.  
Prior to the Castro regime there had been a democratic order that instead of undermining international human rights standards, championed them and played an important role in the drafting of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Castro regime seeks to return to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2021-2023 term and their application is a mockery of the process and full of falsehoods.  Cuba, under the Castros' has spun the yarn that they are the David to the United States' Goliath, but the reality is that they are the villain both on the international stage and domestically terrorizing and exploiting their own populace.

If there is a country that best fits the definition of a David then it is Taiwan that for the past 70 years has faced off against the Goliath of Communist China.  Betrayed by the Democratic West, they have managed to not only survive and endure, but thrive building a free society with rising living standards, and competent governance that is the envy of the world.

If the international order were one based in freedom and human rights then Taiwan would be on the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Castro regime would be banned from this international human rights organization.


 

Monday, July 6, 2020

Vigil for Justice for July's Cuban and Chinese martyrs

"To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” - Elie Wiesel, Night 
  


July 13th marks 26 years since 37 men, women and children were massacred by Cuban government agents who sank the tugboat they were on and used high pressure hoses to drown them. July 13th also marks three years since Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo died of "multiple organ failure" while still under the custody of the Chinese communists. Friends and family had expressed concern that he was not receiving proper medical care.
The moral failing of the West to back Chinese democrats in 1989 in order to pursue commercial interests with their communist oppressors led to the modernization and empowerment of Communist China into an economic and military super power that has reshaped the international global order.


The consequences are seen today with an aggressive communist regime in China that covered up a pandemic and allowed it to spread around the world and cripple the global economy. At the same time Communist China's  influence has corrupted international bodies, like the World Health Organization. 

Over the past three decades we have witnessed a modernized military that backs rogue regimes in North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba. This is part of the reason that human rights have been in decline around the world over the past fifteen years.
Inside China the human rights situation has also deteriorated. The political show trial of Chinese scholar, dissident and Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo in 2009 who spent eight years unjustly imprisoned and died of medical neglect while in the custody of the Chinese communists. This treatment of a Nobel Laureate demonstrates the regime's cruelty and indifference to international opinion.



We have witnessed this with Communist China ignoring its treaty obligations with the United Kingdom and taking over Hong Kong through security legislation 27 years earlier than agreed to. Now the free people of Hong Kong will be subjected the totalitarian regime of Beijing.



The same holds true in Cuba where the embrace of commercial priorities, especially during the previous Administration coincided with the deaths of many high profile dissident leaders. On July 22, 2012 Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante were killed for dedicating their lives to a nonviolent transition to democracy and freedom in Cuba.

Harold Cepero (age 32) was a youth leader in the Christian Liberation Movement of which Oswaldo Payá was a founder. In 2002 he was expelled from the university for his role in a petition drive to reform Cuban laws to bring them in line with international human rights standards. At the time he wrote a statement on the injustice of what was taking place not only for him, but Cuban society as a whole:

"They are wanting to perpetuate something that it is not even known if it is fair, and in this manner they are denying the progress of a society that wants something new, something that really guarantees a dignified place for every Cuban. They are pressuring people or preventing them from expressing their true feelings, they are cultivating fear in the nation."
Fear is being cultivated both in China and in Cuba by the secret police to perpetuate their respective totalitarian regimes, and they are using the internet to do it.  We must combat the effort to erase the past with actions that observe these anniversaries. Join us on July 13th at 12:00pm for a vigil at the Cuban embassy (2630 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20009) to remember the 37 victims of the "13 de marzo" tugboat massacre, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo who died on July 13th, and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante who were killed on July 22nd. 

We will continue to remember.

July 13, 2017
Liu Xiaobo, Age: 61

July 22, 2012
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, Age: 60
Harold Cepero Escalante, Age: 32

July 13, 1994
Hellen Martínez Enriquez. Age: 5 Months
Xicdy Rodríguez Fernández. Age: 2
Angel René Abreu Ruíz. Age: 3
José Carlos Niclas Anaya. Age: 3
Giselle Borges Alvarez. Age: 4
Caridad Leyva Tacoronte. Age: 5
Juan Mario Gutiérrez García. Age: 10
Yousell Eugenio Pérez Tacoronte. Age: 11
Yasser Perodín Almanza. Age: 11
Eliécer Suárez Plasencia. Age: 12
Mayulis Méndez Tacoronte. Age: 17
Miladys Sanabria Leal. Age: 19
Joel García Suárez. Age: 20
Odalys Muñoz García. Age: 21
Yalta Mila Anaya Carrasco. Age: 22
Luliana Enríquez Carrazana. Age: 22
Jorge Gregorio Balmaseda Castillo. Age: 24
Lissett María Alvarez Guerra. Age: 24
Ernesto Alfonso Loureiro. Age: 25
María Miralis Fernández Rodríguez. Age: 27
Leonardo Notario Góngora. Age: 28
Jorge Arquímedes Levrígido Flores. Age: 28
Pilar Almanza Romero. Age: 31
Rigoberto Feu González. Age: 31
Omar Rodríguez Suárez. Age: 33
Lázaro Enrique Borges Briel. Age: 34
Julia Caridad Ruíz Blanco. Age: 35
Martha Caridad Tacoronte Vega. Age: 35
Eduardo Suárez Esquivel. Age: 38
Martha Mirella Carrasco Sanabria. Age: 45
Augusto Guillermo Guerra Martínez. Age: 45
Rosa María Alcalde Puig. Age: 47
Estrella Suárez Esquivel. Age: 48
Reynaldo Joaquín Marrero Alamo. Age: 48
Amado González Raices. Age: 50
Fidencio Ramel Prieto Hernández. Age: 51
Manuel Cayol. Age: 56 

Friday, July 3, 2020

Urgent Action for Keilylli de la Mora Valle: Young woman's life in immediate danger please let others know of her plight & ask Castro to free her now.

Please let the Castro regime know that you are concerned about her safety and want proof of life.

Life in danger: Keilylli de la Mora Valle
Keilylli de la Mora Valle is a courageous woman speaking out for human rights in a six decade old communist dictatorship. The Castro regime has tried to break her spirit, but having failed using the usual tactics of fear, harassment and imprisonment they are heightening the stakes interning her in a psychiatric facility, and are now alleging that she tried to take her own life. She is 27 years old.

On July 2, 2020 at 8:36am Cuban dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia posted a video of Raúl González alerting that Keilylli had been transferred to a Gustavo Aldereguia Hospital, that she had allegedly attempted suicide, and he warned that this could be a manipulation by the dictatorship and that this was an extremely serious situation.

We call on the international community generally, and the International Committee of the Red Cross specifically to request permission to meet with her and ascertain in what condition she is presently in.

On June 1, 2020 the Cuban opposition activist Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia posted a video of the young activist that shows a clear eyed and brave activist facing defiantly the prison time that she was facing. She retweeted the video and told Jose Daniel, "Be assured brother while they repress me more, the stronger I become." While in prison she was able to secretly record the poor conditions there, smuggle it out but was beaten up, punished and threatened with a longer prison sentence.

Keilylli de la Mora Valle is a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba and has been active on Twitter since March 2019 and describe herself as a free and independent Cuban who is 100% Anti-Castro.

A day later the UNPACU tweeted a copy of the documents showing that her appeal had been denied and she would be starting her unjust prison sentence.


Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo tweeted on July 2nd that the "young 27-year-old political prisoner, has been subjected to cruel treatment, is on her 2nd hunger strike & now police say she 'attempted suicide' but no one has seen her. Danger increases every minute she remains in the hands of the regime." Rosa Maria is absolutely right, and her original tweet in Spanish is embedded below.

The news that she has been sent to a psychiatric facility fills knowledgeable Cuban watchers with dread. The Castro regime has a long track record of using psychiatry as a political weapon and these institutions have also had a record of neglect in which patients have died from exposure.

The Politics of Psychiatry in Revolutionary Cuba published in 1991 by Freedom House and Of Human Rights documented the interrelationship between Cuban psychiatry and the Cuban State Security apparatus to target dissidents.

The Psychiatric Hospital in Havana run by Eduardo Bernabe Ordaz Ducunge for forty years used the tools of psychiatry to torture dissidents and human rights defenders.

Three of 26 patients who died of exposure in 2010 in Cuba
 In January 2010 pictures smuggled out of Havana's Psychiatric Hospital revealed that patients were dying of exposure to the elements, and had suffered greatly through their time there. Claudia Cadelo, now exiled out of Cuba, wrote in 2010 her reaction to seeing this photos:

When I opened the little folder called “Mazorra” a series of monstrosities hit me in the face and I couldn’t stop looking at the cruel graphic testimony. A friend who is a doctor visited and while he analyzed images I didn’t have the courage to look at, expressions like, “Holy Virgin Mary, Blessed God, What in God’s name is this?” issued from his outraged throat, mixed with obscure pathologies and the names of diseases both treatable and curable. Enormous livers, tubercular lungs, and wormy intestines are the proof, Senora Arlin, of the sacredness of life in Cuba. Meanwhile The Roundtable throws a fit because the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo has unmasked a crumbling public health system, and they try to cover up the disgrace of seeing soldiers dragging and beating a group of women dressed in white with flowers in their hands. I ask myself, Gentlemen Journalists, when will they explain to Cubans the reasons why twenty-six mentally incapacitated people died in inhumane conditions during their confinement in Mazorra?
The dictatorship was forced to acknowledge what had happened thanks to the still unknown whistleblower and courageous independent journalists who made the images public and The New York Times reported on January 15, 2020 that "26 patients at a mental hospital died during a cold snap this week, the government said Friday. A Health Ministry communiqué blamed “prolonged low temperatures that fell to 38 degrees." This is the institution that Eduardo Bernabe Ordaz Ducunge shaped over 40 years, and that PAHO celebrated with an award. This episode was quickly forgotten, and the mantra of Cuba's "great" health care system continued to be repeated in the press.

Amnesty International had also raised concerns in their report Psychiatry: A Human Rights Perspective in 1995 of what they saw on their only visit:
In Cuba, there have been allegations in recent years that not only the criminally insane but also political prisoners have been sent to forensic wards of state psychiatric institutions where they are kept in unhygienic and dangerous conditions and where they are exposed to ill-treatment either at the hands of staff or fellow inmates. In 1988 Amnesty International visited the Havana Psychiatric (Mazorra) Hospital in Havana. The delegation was permitted to visit one of the forensic wards - the Sala Carbó Serviá. However, the existence of a second forensic ward, the Sala Castellanos, was denied by a hospital official. It was this ward which was alleged to present harsh conditions and to be used for the punishment of prisoners.
Amnesty International reported that prisoner of conscience Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet was sent to Mazorra on November 29, 1999 to Mazorra. He was sent to there by State Security agents and forced to undergo psychiatric examinations on several occasions.

Amnesty also reported how on December 4, 1998 Cuban dissident Milagros Cruz Cano, who is blind, was detained by State Security agents while waiting for a bus. She was initially held at the Maria Luisa police station in Havana where she was: "beaten by police officers which resulted in a swollen cheek and a bruise and scab below her eye. She was then transferred to Mazorra psychiatric hospital in Havana where she was held in an isolated cell called Córdoba. The conditions of detention were said to be degrading as she was held in a cell with iron bars which other patients and guards could see into and where she had to carry out all personal hygiene. She was released on December 14, 1998 without charge."

Observers need to take into account that in addition to negligence and indifference to human suffering that led to a situation in which more than 40 patients died of malnutrition and exposure to cold in a tropical country that this psychiatric hospital was also employed in the mistreatment and torture of Cuban dissidents and human rights activists. Officials need to know that they will be held accountable for her safety.

The Cuban government has not permitted a visit by the Red Cross to their prisons since 1989. By comparison the United States has permitted over a 100 inspections at the prison on the US Guantanamo Naval Base since 2001. What is the Castro regime hiding in its prisons?

Will they allow independent international observers to visit with this young woman, and ascertain her mental and physical status?  The international community is beginning to pay attention on her plight. Below is a tweet from the OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro from July 2nd.


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Remembering Cuba's martyrs from July: Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, Harold Cepero Escalante and the "13 de marzo" tugboat massacre

"To forget the victims means to kill them a second time. So I couldn't prevent the first death. I surely must be capable of saving them from a second death." - Elie Wiesel




Although July is the first full month of summer for Cubans it is overshadowed by crimes that darken what should be a sunny and joyous time.

Two awful days will be observed this month:

First, 26 years ago on July 13, 1994 Cuban government agents killed 37 Cubans trying to flee Cuba aboard the "13 de marzo" tugboat. 

Second, eight years ago on July 22, 2012 Cuban agents rammed a car Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante were traveling in Cuba.


Both bodies appeared later. There is evidence that Oswaldo and Harold were extra-judicially executed.

What plans do you have to honor the memory of these Cubans killed during July under suspicious circumstances that have never been cleared up?

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

#JusticeForHanselErnesto and #FreeKende: Do Black Lives Matter in Cuba for the International Community?

 Official version: Shot in the back while running away from the police and throwing rocks.

Hansel E. Hernández shot in the back by police in Cuba on June 24, 2020
This Tuesday non-violent demonstrations in Cuba have been called for through social networks to ask for justice and to protest the death of the young black Cuban Hansel E. Hernández. On June 24, 2020 in Havana, Cuba Hansel was shot in the back and killed by the police while allegedly trying to flee.  One protest gathering site has been identified as the movie theater Yara in Havana, Cuba.

It took three days for the authorities to report the killing, despite repeated requests for clarity on what had happened.

Hours later, the authorities released a statement indicating that the 27-year-old had been caught by a
National Revolutionary Police patrol when, according to the Cuban Ministry of the Interior (MININT), "he was stealing pieces and accessories from a bus stop", then fleeing. 


During the chase "on the run for almost two kilometers, over uneven terrain", the young man, to avoid being arrested, "attacked one of the policemen throwing several stones, one of which hit the policeman in the crotch, another in the side of the torso and a third dislocated his shoulder and threw him to the floor," indicates the statement posted on social networks on June 27th.

In response to Hansel Hernández's throwing stones, “the soldier fired two warning shots. Immediately afterwards and due to the danger to his life due to the magnitude of the aggression, the policeman riposted from the ground, firing a shot with his regulation weapon that impacts the individual and causes him to die," continues the official version.

Family held open casket service for Hansel.
Hernández's case has caused controversy in the interior of Cuba, where it has been compared with the death of George Floyd, the  Black American who died last May in Minneapolis (United States) during his arrest for a suffocation maneuver made by a white police officer.  

His death sparked protests and riots across the United States, protests that spread to other major cities around the world. He also encouraged in other countries (France, Mexico) to unearth similar cases of suspected deaths at the hands of the police.

On June 18, 2020 The Progressive published an article titled "Foreign Correspondent: Police Lessons From Cuba" by Reese Erlich that claims "Contrary to the image of brutal and repressive communists, police in Cuba offer an instructive example for activists in the United States."

If the United States adopted the Cuban approach recommended by  Mr. Erlich any person recording a police officer, then sharing that image on a digital platform would be violating their right to privacy, and if what they record the police officer doing, whether his or her actions were right or wrong, they would be fined and if they did not pay the fine would be subject to prison.

A law, patterned after Cuba's, would require those who record police on or off the job to get the approval of the police officer recorded before sharing the video with any digital platforms. Thankfully, the First Amendment prohibits such restrictions in the United States, and also runs afoul of international human rights instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Cuba is a signatory, even though the document is censored in the island.
El Kende de Cayo Hueso
Now we have learned that 17 year old social influencer El Kende de Cayo Hueso was first fined then jailed for recording video from the rooftop of his home of a long line in the street. He is being held with adult criminals. Four days have passed since his arrest.
According to a January 13, 2020 report in The New York Times a former high-ranking judge in Cuba provided documents which "showed that approximately 92 percent of those accused in the more than 32,000 cases that go to trial in Cuba every year are found guilty. Nearly 4,000 people every year are accused of being “antisocial” or “dangerous,” terms the Cuban government uses to jail people who pose a risk to the status quo, without having committed a crime." Furthermore, the article says that "records show that Cuba’s prison system holds more than 90,000 prisoners. The Cuban government has only publicly released the figure once, in 2012, when it claimed that 57,000 people were jailed."

Based on the Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research, according to the January 13, 2020 article by EuropaPress, Cuba today has the largest per capita prison population in the world.
Hansel E. Hernández was just 27 years old when he was killed. 
Hansel was shot and killed for throwing rocks.  On Friday, June 5, 2020 news broke that a police station had been assaulted and two policemen killed and a third seriously injured allegedly by Yusniel Tirado Aldama an assailant that had a grievance with the police over poor treatment when making a complaint and harassment. The shooter was caught alive, unlike Hansel, the suspect was white.

Yusniel Tirado Aldama (Photo: Courtesy)
Today at 11:00am on June 30, 2020 protests have been called in a country where the freedom to assembly and to speak is outlawed. Please monitor along with us what is happening via the hashtag:
#JusticiaParaHanselErnesto and #FreeKende.

Media sources for report below: ABC, MartiNoticias, 14ymedio and Diario de Cuba

Monday, June 29, 2020

Remembering Non-violent moments in a time of turmoil: Brothers to the Rescue, the March for Humanity, and a call for truth and justice.

Remembering a non-violent ripple.

Coretta Scott King and Jose Basulto of Brothers to the Rescue
On April 9, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia on the fiftieth anniversary of the funeral procession for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I took part in the March For Humanity. Over the previous week numerous events were held to mark the 50 years since a sniper's bullet took his life. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., like Mohandas Gandhi before him twenty years earlier, was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis Tennessee at 6:01pm.

We are in the midst of a moment of great turmoil with a pandemic, mass protests for racial justice, and riots organized by radicals with other objectives, some are Marxist Leninists, others Maoists,  others are Neo-Nazis, Klu Klux Klan and a long etcetera,   

These have also been years of great political polarization, and the danger arises of not looking at the person we disagree with as a fellow human being.

This was why the March for Humanity was and remains important.  It is also why activists of all political stripes working for the common good need to hang on to non-violence, respect for the rule of law, and where a law is unjust then challenge it with civil disobedience as a last resort, and when possible democratic norms and procedures. 

This is not passivity but creative resistance that, unlike violence, preserves our humanity, and it leaves unlikely but positive ripples always.

In the struggle against dictatorship in Cuba it was the internal opposition that first took up nonviolence as a method to resist injustice without becoming unjust. It was the nonviolent opposition that confronted a regime rooted in hatred without hating but were followed by other organizations, including one that engaged with The King Center.


Brothers to the Rescue (Hermanos al Rescate) is a grassroots movement founded in May 1991 in response to the death of a fifteen year old named Gregorio Pérez Ricardo who had died fleeing Cuba on a raft only to die of exposure and dehydration. The movement was funded by the community through donations in order to carry out a nonviolent constructive program saving the lives of Cuban rafters before they died of dehydration or starvation on the high seas in normal rafts.


Brothers to the Rescue actively collaborated with both The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia and Gene Sharp of the Albert Einstein Institution. They conducted nonviolent trainings in South Florida and invited members of the Cuban Exile community. I took part in those trainings, and they made a great impact on me.

The non-violent group conducted more than  2,400 aerial search missions.  These resulted in the rescue of more than 4,200 men, women and children ranging in age from a five day old infant to a man 79 years of age.

Sadly, Brothers to the Rescue was dealt a terrible blow on February 24, 1996 when two of its planes were blow to bits in the Florida Straits by Cuban MiGs while searching for rafters killing four humanitarians.

Glamour and glitz versus the cold hard reality.
A spy network sent by Havana had gathered information on the organization that contributed to the killings of Armando Alejandre, Carlos Costa, Mario de la Peña and Pablo Morales.

Now a film production seeks to twist this history in the service of Cuban communist propaganda, and the spouse of Jose Basulto, Rita Basulto, is asking for help over Facebook and the request is reproduced below. Brothers to the Rescue in Spanish is Hermanos al Rescate (HAR) and this is the acronym she uses for the organization in the message below.
 "Dear FB family and friends,
Since the movie The Wasp Network started showing on Netflix, we have received numerous calls and comments. The movie is a propaganda vehicle for the Cuban government, full of lies and misrepresentations. Among the lies, my husband Jose Basulto never introduced Roque to Mas Canosa who wasn’t even present at the party for the wedding as shown in the movie. Roque never flew as a pilot for HAR. Rene Gonzalez was separated from HAR by Basulto after it was reported to him that someone had seen Rene (who was flying with another organization) lying face down by agents of DEA.
The movie wants to portray HAR as a terrorist group when nothing is further from the truth since it was promoting and organizing seminars about bringing changes in Cuba thru Non-Violence.
It is disrespectful to, not only to HAR, but to the entire exile community, the pilots of 19 different nationalities who flew with Hermanos (and who were volunteers-never paid- like the movie says), to the observers who flew many missions, to the members of the press who flew with HAR (never charged).
The Cuban government and its allies have been very good at promoting its lies for years. WE, need to promote our TRUTH.
Please sign the petition from Change.org requesting the removal of the movie from Netflix and share it with others. https://www.change.org/p/netflix-brasil-queremos-que-netflix-elimine-de-su-cartelera-la-pel%C3%ADcula-la-red-avispa-por-da%C3%B1os-y-perj
 Please share this information with others to set the record straight, and to sign the petition. Let us also remember the humanity of our adversaries while we pursue truth and justice.