Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Remembering Génesis Carmona five years after Maduro's colectivos shot her in the head

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." - Elie Wiesel, Nobel Lecture 1986

Génesis Carmona: 20 September 1991 – 19 February 2014
The headline in the February 20, 2014 edition of People Magazine read " Venezuelan Beauty Pageant Winner Killed in Anti-Government Protest." The beauty pageant winner's name was Génesis Carmona and she was 22 years old. She was a model who had won the Miss Tourism Carabobo beauty pageant in 2013. On her Twitter account Génesis described herself as “friendly, but not stupid!” and “passionate about life.” She was studying marketing at Center Technological University (UNITEC) and was in her last year of study. Her alma mater has announced a special service in her memory marking the one year of her untimely death in 2015:
UNITEC will officiate a Mass in memory of the student Génesis Carmona. Center Technological University will officiate a Mass in memory of the student Génesis Carmona on Thursday February 19 at 9:30 am at the Guacara Campus, after a year of her untimely death when she was overtaken by gunshots during a march in Valencia. The UNITEC authorities invite the entire university community to attend Mass to remember our alumn, who lost her life following some acts of violence.
What happened
Génesis Carmona 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. Génesis was shot in the head in the left occipital region. She 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), we fled running. We were stopped on a street corner, looking up and then suddenly she fell."   

Genesis Carmona is evacuated on a motorcycle after being shot.
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. 

Jorge Ramos of Univsion interviewed Gabriel Cegarra,  the young man who was holding Génesis on the back of the motorcycle as they hurried to get her to the hospital. Below courtesy of John Sexton of Breitbart is a translation of an excerpt of the interview:

Ramos: The images of the students that have lost their lives in the protests in Venezuela are impressive because, in the majority of cases, they have been shot at and they have no way of defending themselves. To these images we add this impressive photo: beauty queen Genesis Carmona being carried away as she was dying. The student is named Gabriel Cegarra, who had her in his arms to try to save her life. He joins us now via satellite from Valencia, Carabobo state. Gabriel, thank you for speaking with us. What happened that day? Where were you?
Gabriel Cegarra: We were in Cedeño Ave, Valencia. We were protesting there– the protest concentration was there. There was a large group of us there protesting normally, peacefully. All of a sudden we began to see motorcycles on the north side of Cedeño Ave. That is a steep street, and at the top of the street we saw motorcycles with, um, they were armed and over there. At first they were not doing anything, they were just there
concentrated, and we were concentrated in our part and we took note of each other. Then, all of the sudden, there were gunshots, there were three rounds of gunshots. In the third, unfortunately, a bullet hit her in the head.
Ramos: The government said, without proof, that the shots came from the opposition group itself. Do you think the shots came from an armed Chavista group?
GC: Yes, because they were the only ones who were armed. We
do our protesting with a simple tricolor hat, a white shirt– which was what we
organized for that day—
Ramos: So the official version from the government is not true from your point of view? The bullets came from Chavista groups, not the opposition? This is very important.
GC: Not from the opposition, because among ourselves, I don’t think we are there to kill each other. We were just there peacefully protesting. The motorcycles that were shooting, you could see they were armed and they had red shirts, some were black striped, but there were people with red shirts.
Ramos: You already knew Genesis. At what time did you see her get shot through the head?
GC: Yes, I knew Genesis, she is my– was my “buddy” for all life. She was my friend for five years. I realized that she was shot in the head when… I heard the gunshots from where I was, I ducked, and then when I see that she is leaning on a friend’s arms.
The friend brought her to me– it was a short route, about 5 meters, something like that– and I see that when I touch her with her left arm, which I put behind my neck, I started to feel something cold on my arm, and a doctor who was there at the protests also told me, “get on your bike and get help, she’s been shot in the head.”
Ramos: That is precisely what you did. That image and that photograph traveled the world. When you were carrying her with you on the motorcycle, she was still alive, right?
GC: Yes, she was conscious.
Ramos: She was conscious. Could she talk? Did she say something?
GC: No, she didn’t speak to me but her eyes were open. With her right hand she was pulling my shirt, as you can see in the image, and with the left hand she was pulling the shirt of the motorcycle driver.
Ramos: What did you tell her?
GC: Stay still, everything will be fine, I would do everything possible I could to arrive quickly so they could treat her, not to worry, that nothing was going to happen.
Ramos: Then you arrived at the hospital. When did you find out she had died?
GC: I found out yesterday, Wednesday, around 12:50– I was making some declarations and was not at the clinic at the moment, but I got a message simply saying she had died. It was really very sad, that moment; reading that message was nothing good. I didn’t expect that to happen.
Génesis Carmona and friend posing with cover of her modeling.
Génesis Carmona's aunt, Martha Baron, who lives in Calgary spoke out in English concerning her nieces death on February 24, 2014 to the Calgary CBC: "I would like her to be remembered as a brave girl that died for her country. That's the only way I want her to be remembered." 

Génesis Carmona's last four tweets were re-tweets from others but give an insight into this young woman's state of mind and are reproduced below:

The first retweet (RT) is from Leopoldo Lopez announcing that he would be on CNN in Spanish and asking for a RT which she obliged. The second from VVSincensura said that "the opposition united should defend Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado before the intention of the government to jail them. The third from Reinaldo dos Santos gave technical advise stating "If they drop Twitter for Venezuela use a "hotspot shield" which is private navigation without restrictions. Spread the word." The last retweet from Evo Morales (not the president of Bolivia) said: "Stay with the one who tells the best stories. One day they will tell yours."  

Génesis Carmona's mother, María Eugenia Tovar, and sister left Venezuela and on December 10, 2014 revealed that they are seeking political asylum and continue to demand justice for Génesis. All evidence points to the Maduro regime and its agents being responsible for this young woman's death Maria Eugenia Tovar, emphasized on February 12, 2015 in a sentence what that day signified for her: "Forbidden to forget our children, forbidden to forget so much pain."

Five years later and her killers have not been brought to justice. In Venezuela she has not been forgotten. Yesterday at Florida International University Génesis's mom was interviewed and spoke about what had happened to her 22 year old daughter five years ago and she continues to demand justice.

Monday, February 18, 2019

#Feb24SilentProtest: Time to say NO to illegitimate votes, NO to continued impunity, NO to dictatorship, and NO to Castro regime meddling in other countries

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." - Elie Wiesel, Nobel Lecture 1986

#YoVotoNo =  #YoNoVoto = #N1Mas = #NoMoreImpunity = #NoMoreCastros

February is a difficult month for friends of freedom in Cuba and Venezuela. 

Five years ago in February of 2014 on Venezuela's national youth day the Maduro regime gunned down students peacefully protesting in the streets of Venezuela. The killings have continued to the present day.

Robert Redman with other youths carrying Bassil Dacosta on February 12, 2014.
Nine years ago on February 23, 2010 human rights defender, and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, Orlando Zapata Tamayo died on hunger strike after years of torture and mistreatment by Castro regime agents. Political prisoners continue to suffer in Cuban prisons today.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo 1967 - 2010
Twenty three years ago on February 24, 1996 at 3:21 pm and 3:27 pm in international airspace two civilian aircraft belonging to the humanitarian group Brothers to the Rescue were destroyed by air-to-air missiles fired by a Cuban MiG-29 killing Armando Alejandre Jr. (age 45), Carlos Alberto Costa (29), Mario Manuel de la Peña (24), and Pablo Morales (29).

Extrajudicially executed by the Castro regime on 2/24/1996
Author Matt Lawrence translated and subtitled the audio of the Cuban MiG pilots who hunted and destroyed the two planes. The planes had been engaged in a search and rescue mission for Cuban rafters in the Florida Straits. Three planes set out only one returned.

On Sunday, February 24th the Castro regime will be engaged in a sham constitutional referendum in an attempt to gain international legitimacy to perpetuate the rule of the Castro dictatorship in Cuba for another generation. The democratic resistance in Cuba has campaigned proclaiming "No" to the illegitimate process calling on Cubans not to vote and stay home or if they are going to vote to vote "No."

Let us also take this upcoming Sunday, February 24th not only to say "No" to the illegitimate referendum in Cuba, but to say "No" to dictatorship, and "No" to the continued impunity in Cuba and Venezuela. Friends of freedom around the world please join us in calling on the Castro regime to stop meddling and get out of Venezuela, Nicaragua and bring those responsible for gross and systematic human rights abuses in Cuba to justice.

#Feb24SilentProtest at 3:00pm in front of the Cuban Embassy. We will not chant or yell, but bring posters with the word "No" writ large and images of victims of the Castro regime. Between 3:21pm and 3:27pm form a human chain, and at 3:30pm go our separate ways.

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.