Saturday, May 27, 2017

Cubans in Ethiopia: Castro's unholy and silent alliance with war criminal Mengistu Haile Mariam

Castro regime's involvement in mass murder in Ethiopia documented

Fidel Castro lounging with Mengistu Haile Mariam, in Ethiopia in 1977
Today while attending the Conservatives International gathering in Miami, Senator Ben Murray Bruce of Nigeria praised the Castro regime's role in ending Apartheid in South Africa, of which  I have to admit that I am skeptical of for reasons argued here before in this blog.

Later on in the question and answer period I asked Senator Bruce if he was aware of the Cuban role in genocide in Ethiopia in alliance with later convicted war criminal Mengistu Haile Mariam.  The Senator indicated that he had no knowledge of it, but that if someone did something good on Monday and something bad on Tuesday that he would celebrate what was done on Monday and condemn what was done on Tuesday.

Fidel and Raul Castro were both deeply involved in sending 17,000 Cuban troops to South Africa in assisting Mengistu in consolidating his rule and eliminating actual and potential opposition. The last Cuban troops did not leave Ethiopia until 1989 and were present and complicit in the engineered famine that took place there.  In 1990 traveling on a train through East Germany on my way to Prague I spent some time speaking with an Ethiopian economist who told me how Cuban troops would round up starving Ethiopian farmers when they got close to the cities, with grain stores, and drove them back out into the countryside to starve.

Raul Castro and Fidel Castro with ally Mengistu Haile Mariam
Below are excerpts of some reports done on the Castro dictatorship's involvement in Ethiopia and links to the complete articles. I've highlighted the mention of Cubans in bold.  The first excerpt is taken from the September 21, 1978 Rolling Stone article "Ethiopia After the Revolution: Vultures Return to the Land of Sheba" authored by Donald R. Katz.

Toward the middle of last year [1977], Mengistu pulled out all the stops. "It is an historical obligation," he said then, "to clean up vigilantly using the revolutionary sword." He announced that the shooting was about to start and that anyone in the middle would be caught in the cross fire. In what came to be known as the "Red Terror," he proceeded to round up all those who opposed the military regime. According to Amnesty International, the Dergue killed over 10,000 people by the end of the year. One anti-government party, mostly made up of students and teachers, was singled out as "the opposition." The Red Terror operated quietly and efficiently under the media cover provided by a vicious desert war that started when Somalia invaded eastern Ethiopia 10 months ago. Around this time, President Carter abandoned a long-term military agreement with Ethiopia on the stated grounds of "gross and systematic human rights violations," and Cuban soldiers and Russian arms poured in to protect and "consolidate the gains" of the revolution. By the time the Somalis were finally chased from Ethiopia's eastern front two weeks before I arrived, the politics of the revolution had been further obscured by Mengistu's determination to fight yet another war against secessionists in the country's northern province of Eritrea. After months of killing Ethiopian youth along with assorted Somalis and Eritreans, Mengistu declared to the world that the "anti-people forces who had lined us up for their lunch – we have had them for breakfast."
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:

Mengistu’s “Secret Wars” in Southeast Ethiopia, 1978-84

Although riven by internal divisions, Ogaadeeni and Oromo insurgencies continued their operations in southeast Ethiopia, sometimes from bases on Somali soil.21 By early 1979, the insurgents controlled a substantial part of the countryside.22
Africa Watch (the precursor to Human Rights Watch’s Africa Division) analyzed Ethiopian counter-insurgency operations in this period and found that they followed a four-pronged approach: i) the forced displacement of much of the civilian population into shelters and protected villages; ii) military offensives against people and economic assets outside the shelters; iii) the sponsoring of insurgent groups against the WSLF and Somali government; and iv) attempts to promote the repatriation of refugees.23 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.”24 Militarily, the counter-insurgency operations succeeded in greatly weakening the insurgents or driving them across the border into Somalia.25
Charles Lane of The Washington Post joins with Senator Ben Murray Bruce of Nigeria in placing Cuban involvement in South Africa on the positive side of the ledger in the December 1, 2016 article "Castro was no liberator"  but then the journalist raises the following question that touches heavily on Ethiopia:
Answering it would require broader examination of Castro’s Cold War record in Africa, to include the eastern regions of the continent, where Cuba intervened militarily on behalf of the Ethiopian dictator, Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam, in the 1970s. 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.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article118362988.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article118362988.html#storylink=c
 There is also video footage of the Castro regime's involvement in Ethiopia along with the testimony of victims.


Fidel and Raul Castro's comrade, Mengistu was found guilty of genocide on December 12, 2006, and was sentenced to life in prison in January 2007. He was sentenced to death in absentia on May 26, 2008 following an appeal. Mengistu currently resides in Zimbabwe under the protection of African despot Robert Mugabe.

This chapter of the Castro regime's involvement in Ethiopia should not be forgotten when discussing the Cuban presence in Africa.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Amnesty International issues new urgent action for Cuban prisoner of conscience Eduardo Cardet

“Political activities are passed off as criminal offences such as inciting public scandal, contempt of or offences against the authorities, and the political police use these classifications to lock up dissidents." - Eduardo Cardet, September 16, 2016, ABC International

Jailed since November 30, 2016 for criticizing Fidel Castro.
 
Further information on UA: 32/17 Index: AMR 25/6363/2017 Cuba Date: 25 May 2017
URGENT ACTION HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER’S SENTENCE UPHELD

By Amnesty International

A Provincial Court upheld a three-year prison sentence against human rights defender Eduardo Cardet who continues to be held in the Provincial Prison of Holguín, south-east Cuba. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.

On 17 May, the Popular Provincial Court of Holguín (Tribunal Provincial Popular de Holguín) ratified in appeal the judgement handed down on 20 March sentencing Dr Eduardo Cardet Concepción to three years in prison. Eduardo Cardet is the leader of the pro-democracy movement Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, MCL). He has been held in prison in Holguín since his arrest on 30 November 2016, five days after the death of the former leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro.

Eduardo Cardet was charged with attacking an official of the state (atentado). Prior to his arrest, Eduardo Cardet gave a number of interviews published in international media in which he was critical of the Cuban government. In an interview with Madrid-based radio station esRadio, aired two days before his arrest, he described the mourning in Cuba following the death of Fidel Castro as imposed, and said: “Castro was a very controversial man, very much hated and rejected by our people”.

Eduardo Cardet’s wife told Amnesty International that she last visited him in prison on 25 May and speaks to him on the phone daily. She stated that her husband is distraught about his sentence being upheld and that he has complained that officials inside the prison are threatening to prevent phone calls or visits from family members. His wife believes these threats are an attempt to silence the family from further publicizing Eduardo Cardet’s case. Eduardo Cardet is asthmatic and his wife explained that he has suffered from several respiratory infections. It is crucial that the prison authorities continue to provide him with any medical care he may require while in detention.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

  • Calling on the authorities to release human rights defender Dr Eduardo Cardet immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression;
  • Urging them to ensure that, pending his release, he is provided with any medical care he may require; that he is not tortured or otherwise ill-treated; and that he is granted regular access to family and lawyers of his choosing;
  • Calling on them to guarantee the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association including for dissident, opponent or activist voices and to repeal all legislation which unduly limits these rights.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 6 JULY 2017 TO:

President of the Republic 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) Email: cuba@un.int (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)
Twitter: @RaulCastroR
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
Email: relaciones@fgr.cu
Twitter: @FGR_Cuba
Salutation: Dear Attorney General

Minister of Justice María Esther Reus
Ministerio de Justicia Calle O # 216 E/ 23 y 25 Vdo.
Plaza de la Revolución
La Habana, Cuba
Twitter: @CubaMinjus
Salutation: Dear Minister

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below: Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the second update of UA 32/17. Further information: www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr25/5979/2017/en/

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

According to five witnesses who spoke to Amnesty International by telephone on the condition of anonymity, Eduardo Cardet was pushed off his bicycle and violently detained in the early evening of 30 November 2016 by at least four plain clothed and one uniformed police officer as he returned home after visiting his mother. It is not clear on what grounds Eduardo Cardet was initially detained.

According to his wife, who witnessed her husband’s detention with their two children, Eduardo Cardet is charged with attacking an official of the state (atentado). This offence is covered under Article 142.1 of the Criminal Code. One officer is alleging that Eduardo Cardet pushed him during his arrest. All witnesses who spoke with Amnesty International counter this allegation, and state that Eduardo Cardet was quickly and violently restrained by plain clothed officials, placed in handcuffs, and beaten, and had no opportunity for self-defence. The witnesses believe that Eduardo Cardet was arrested for his beliefs and ideas. Amnesty International was able to review a copy of the sentence at appeal emitted by the provincial court of Holguin. The sentence makes no mention of the original grounds for the arrest, suggesting the arrest was arbitrary.

The Christian Liberation Movement (Movimento Cristiano Liberación, MCL) is a prominent actor in the pro-democracy movement in Cuba. According to its website, it is a movement for peaceful and democratic change and respect for human dignity. It was founded in 1988 by Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, who became a visible figure of the Cuban political opposition, and four other activists. Amnesty International has documented harassment and intimidation of members of the MCL for decades. In 1991, after Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas presented a petition calling for a national referendum relating to constitutional reform, he had his home destroyed by over 200 people, said to be members of a Rapid Response Brigade. After Oswaldo Payá announced his intention to put himself forward as a candidate for deputy to the National Assembly for the municipality of Cerro, Havana, members of his organization were reportedly subjected to frequent questioning and short-term detention.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, a Cuban-based human rights NGO not recognized by the state, documented a monthly average of 827 politically motivated detentions in 2016. In an interview published on 16 September 2016 by ABC International, Eduardo Cardet stated: “Political activities are passed off as criminal offences such as inciting public scandal, contempt of or offences against the authorities, and the political police use these classifications to lock up dissidents" (Se disfraza la actividad política con hechos delictivos comunes, por ejemplo, escándalo público, desacato, atentado, figuras que utiliza la policía política para encarcelar a los disidentes).

Cuba is closed to Amnesty International and nearly all independent international human rights monitors.

Name: Dr Eduardo Cardet Concepción Gender m/f: m
Further information on UA: 32/17 Index: AMR 25/6363/2017 Issue Date: 25 May 2017

En castellano


















Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2017 Oslo Freedom Forum: Honoring Vaclav Havel

"Human rights are universal and indivisible. Human freedom is also indivisible: if it is denied to anyone in the world, it is therefore denied, indirectly, to all people. This is why we cannot remain silent in the face of evil or violence; silence merely encourages them." - Vaclav Havel


The ninth edition of the Oslo Freedom Forum has been underway since May 22, 2017 and tomorrow on the last day the organizers will be presenting the 2017 Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent at 10:00am CET the Oslo Nye Theater. Be sure to catch it live streamed below:


Human rights have been in retreat around the world over the past two decades and activists from around the globe need  to network, exchange information, and better coordinate joint actions and strategies to turn the tide.

Nevertheless, this requires questioning assumptions and the course taken over the past twenty five years in the human rights community.

Gatherings such as the Oslo Freedom Forum, Forum 2000 in Prague and the Geneva Summit for Human Rights are forums where this important conversation can and should take place.

This blog has served as a platform to discuss the crisis and possible solutions. It has also called on conservatives to recall their own roll in the development of the idea and language of human rights centuries before the French Revolution of 1789, its roots not in the Enlightenment but in the Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages, and the first recognition of universal human rights in the 15th century in the Salamanca school.

Let us take the long view back to inform the conversation on the present situation and future prospects.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Venezuelan general recorded advocating snipers against street demonstrators in Venezuela

 Murdering the future in Venezuela

Génesis Carmona: Shot in the head by a sniper on February 18, 2014
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.

Beginning on February 12, 2014 regime agents shot Bassil Alejandro Dacosta, age 24 in the head.  One of the young students who carried Bassil off  after he was shot was Robert Redman, age 28, who reported later that day over twitter: "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?" That same day he was also gunned down by Maduro's colectivos, working in concert with his security forces, and murdered. The killings continued


A high profile killing that shocked the world was the murder of a local beauty queen. Génesis Carmona 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 on February 19, 2014. Three years have passed and those responsible for her murder have yet to be punished.

The nonviolent street demonstrations organized by university students have captured the imagination of most Venezuelans and the world in general. It has also drawn the rage of the Maduro regime and their Cuban advisors. They have responded by murdering children to terrorize the protesters.

Kluiverth Roa, age 14, shot in the head by BNP in Venezuela on February 24th
 The snipers have been busy at work over the past three years attempting to create a climate of terror. The bodies have piled up over the years and the pattern is clear and has been denounced by human rights organizations in Venezula and by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
Venezuelan human rights organization, Provea, over twitter on February 25, 2015 reported on the killing of a 14-year old stating: "Killing of  Roa Kluiverth is not an isolated event, but is a consequence of the rise of repression in the country."


Paola Ramírez and Carlos Moreno both shot in the head on April 19, 2017 in Venezuela.
 We may be powerless to stop the killing but we must not stop denouncing the crimes against humanity being committed by the Maduro regime and work towards the day that those responsible be held accountable in a court of law. In the meantime let us remember those who have been killed, tragically their ranks continue to grow.

Some of the young Venezuelans shot in the head by Maduro's agents



Friday, May 19, 2017

Two Cubans fleeing the island picked up by the Coast Guard and will be returned to Cuba

Cubans are still fleeing the Castro regime despite the gutting of the Cuban Adjustment Act

Two Cuban fisherman "adrift" for three days rescued by the U.S. Coastguard
 The U.S. Coastguard was reporting that thanks to Obama curtailing the Cuban Adjustment Act there were no Cuban rafters picked up in April 2017 and claimed that Cubans were no longer fleeing to the United States. They may want to reconsider that statement.

On May 19, 2017 the headline read "2 Cuban fishermen rescued by Coast Guard after 3 days adrift at sea" and the article said they would be returned to Cuba.  I wonder if there will now be a pattern of "fishermen" adrift in boats or rafts needing "rescuing" and being returned to the Castro dictatorship?

I've said it before and repeat here now. Cubans do not leave their homeland seeking the American dream but fleeing the nightmare regime created by the Castro brothers that has been destroying lives for the past 58 years. The door has been closed, but Cubans will continue to flee tyranny. Only now they will be illegal immigrants in the United States subject to deportation.

The Obama Administration closed the door on Cuban refugees on January 12, 2017 on his way out of The White House. President Bill Clinton narrowed the door in 1995 with the invention of the "wet foot dry foot policy" that circumvented U.S. law and President Barack Obama slammed it shut  in 2017. On both occasions this was done in consultation with the Castro regime but not the U.S. Congress.

What goes unmentioned in the reporting is that the down tick in Cubans fleeing to the United States normally occurs during Republican administrations, who have taken a harder line on the Castro dictatorship. This pattern was repeated with Reagan, Bush 41, Bush 43 and may now be occurring with the Trump presidency.

On the eve of Cuban independence and on the anniversary of the death of Jose Marti it is a shame that free Cubans still choose to risk their lives in the Florida Straits where many have died to escape a cruel dictatorship that has spent 58 years denying liberty to Cubans and rewriting the island's past to avoid condemnation for their dismal record..