Thursday, March 5, 2015

Castro Regime at the United Nations Human Rights Council

Undermining human rights at the UN for decades

UN experts justify the presence of outlaw regimes such as Cuba and North Korea in the UN Human Rights Council arguing that it would temper their behavior. It appears that just the opposite has been the case. The regime successfully undermined freedom of expression and narrowly failed in undermining the right to peacefully protest.

The latest example, the Castro regime has backed the creation of a new post at the United Nations Human Rights Council designed to classify sanctions against rogue regimes as violations of human rights. The new “Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights” will be appointed at the end of March during the current month-long session of the UNHRC.

For decades the Castro regime has been a negative force internationally undermining human rights despite its claims. Below is a partial accounting:
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 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 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 May 28, 2009 amidst a human rights crisis in Sri Lanka the Cuban government's diplomats took the lead and successfully blocked efforts to address the wholesale slaughter there.

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 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.

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.   
The one time the Castro regime opened to international human rights inspection was when it felt most pressured by a hostile international environment in the Reagan-Bush years. By the late 1980s with the collapse of their main subsidizer, the Soviet Union, the Castro regime was temporarily on the defensive. For the first time since 1959 they felt forced to allow the International Red Cross to visit prisons, allowed Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to enter Cuba in a formal visit as well as the United Nations Human Rights Commission in 1989. It would not be repeated.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

IACHR laments death of 14-year-old Kluivert Roa shot in the head by regime official in Venezuela

Kluivert Roa
 IACHR Laments the Death of a Student during Protests in Venezuela
March 3, 2015

Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) laments the death of a student during the suppression of a demonstration in Táchira, Venezuela, by security forces of the State. The IACHR rejects all forms of violence and urges the State of Venezuela to ensure that any use of force is in strict accordance with its international obligations. It also calls on Venezuela to promote a process of dialogue to find a peaceful solution to the current tensions, in a context of strict respect for human rights.

According to the information available, 14-year-old Kluibert Roa received a gunshot wound to the head during clashes between students and State security forces which took place on February 24, in the area around the Catholic University of Táchira (UCAT). The information received indicates that Kluibert Roa, a high school student, was not participating in the protests.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office reported that a police officer has been arrested in the case, and announced that it will launch an investigation. The Inter-American Commission takes note of the announcement and urges the State to conduct this investigation diligently and impartially, punish those responsible, and provide reparation to the victims.

Given the importance of the rights of freedom of association and expression for the consolidation of democratic societies, any restriction must be justified by an imperative social interest. Therefore, the limitations that a State may impose on a demonstration or protest must be justified by the duty to protect people, and the means used must be the safest and least harmful for demonstrators and passersby. Actions by agents of the State must not discourage the exercise of these rights. Moreover, any limitations on demonstrations must be governed by the principles of legality, necessity, and proportionality. The use of force in public demonstrations must be the exception, not the rule, and must be under strictly necessary circumstances, in keeping with recognized international principles.

The Inter-American Commission urges the State to adopt mechanisms to avoid excessive use of force by public law enforcement in protest marches and demonstrations, an obligation that must be taken into account especially in the case of children and adolescents.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 022/15

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Castro regime linked to weapons smuggling again.

This time with a Chinese twist

Chinese cargo ship Da Dan Xia allegedly smuggling ammunition to Cuba held in Colombia
 The latest weapons smuggling incident involving the Castro regime, this time in Colombia sheds new light on international realities.

On March 2, 2015 the news broke that the government of Colombia had seized a shipment of ammunition bound for Cuba on a China-flagged ship due to a lack of proper documentation.

The BBC today reported that "Officials said about 100 tons of gunpowder, almost three million detonators and some 3,000 cannon shells were found on board. The ship's records said it was carrying grain products."

Container with boxes of weapons seized by Colombian authorities. Photo: Prosecutor's Office/EPA
 The Guardian reported: "The captain of a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship has been arrested in the Colombian port city of Cartagena, charged with arms trafficking for transporting undocumented large-caliber munitions, reportedly bound for Cuba."

According to The Guardian the final destination is a front company for the Cuban military and the ammunition was supplied by a Chinese manufacturer:
Photos of the crates containing the gunpowder, published by the Cartagena newspaper El Universal, showed they were destined for a company called TecnoImport in Cuba, which according to several blogs is a procurement branch of the Cuban armed forces.
The company officially lists itself as an importer of machinery and industrial products. The supplier is listed on the crates as Norico, a Chinese manufacturer of machinery and chemical products, as well high-tech defense products.
What goes unmentioned in the reporting is that the ship with COSCO markings, although presented as a commercial entity, is apparently an arm of the Chinese military establishment. COSCO ships have also been involved in smuggling weapons into the United States.

Now that Communist China has eclipsed the United States as the largest economy in the world this kind of thing will probably be occuring more often and the consequences to American lives and property should be of concern.

At the same time it is interesting to note that in 2013 with North Korea and now again with China in 2015 the Castro regime has been linked to scandals involving arms smuggling. Blogging by Boz reaches a reasonable conclusion: "Two big shipments of weapons seized in 20 months means that this is probably a regular occurrence."

Music Freedom Day 2015

Around the world today musicians and advocates for uncensored music are gathering and holding activities on what has come to be known as Music Freedom Day. An action organized by the Danish based non governmental organization, Free Muse. Events were organized in Barcelona, Casablanca, Harstad, Oslo, Peshawar, Dakar, and New York City.

Freemuse has documented the plight of punk rocker Gorki Águila imprisoned for two years and threatened with new trials for his anti-government lyrics and Cuban rappers Rodolfo Ramirez, known by his rapping name as El Primario brutally beaten by regime agents and Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, known best as “El Critico imprisoned and brutalized from March 2013 and was  was released on January 9, 2015. 21 days later another rapper, El Dkano, took his place in prison when he was sentenced on January 28 to a year in prison for "pre-criminal dangerousness."

The impact of the Castro regime on music in Cuba goes beyond jailing musicians and includes systematic censorship that threatens the island's musical legacy. This process has been described as a  Cuban cultural genocide that is depriving generations of Cubans of their heritage.

According to the book Shoot the singer!: music censorship today edited by Marie Korpe there is increasing concern within the international music community that post-revolution generations are growing up without knowing or hearing these censored musicians and that this could lead to a loss of Cuban identity in future generations. One of the musicians to undergo this process is Olga Guillot

 On August 21, 2012 Tony Pinelli, a well known musician and radio producer, distributed an e-mail in which Rolando Álvarez, the national director of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television Instituto Cubano de Radio y Televisión (ICRT) confirmed that the music of the late Celia Cruz would continue to be banned. The e-mail clearly stated:
"All those who had allied with the enemy, who acted against our families, like Celia Cruz, who went to sing at the Guantanamo Base, the ICRT arrogated to itself the right, quite properly, not to disseminate them on Cuban radio "
Below is a sampling of some of the music banned in Cuba over the years and the artists who have become unpersons but first there is a video on what is music censorship.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pandora's Box 2015: Re-opening diplomatic relations with the Castro regime

"Reconciliation should be accompanied by justice, otherwise it will not last. While we all hope for peace it shouldn't be peace at any cost but peace based on principle, on justice." - Corazon Aquino

Castro state security chief Ramiro Valdez with Hugo Chavez in 2009 in Venezuela

Candice Malcolm, a columnist in the Toronto Sun, on February 27, 2015 in an essay titled "Troubling truths about Castro's Cuba" outlining the political, economic and security arguments against engaging with the Castro regime. Ms. Malcolm's essay highlighted a report that addressed present threats to Canada by Cuba such as:
Cuba also helps orchestrate an immigration fraud network that has smuggled radical Islamists into North America, as demonstrated in the Center for a Secure Free Society’s “Canada on Guard” report.
 The "Canada on Guard: Assessing the Immigration Security Threat of Iran, Venezuela and Cuba" report reveals that the Castro regime overhauled "the information systems of the Venezuelan passport and naturalization agency, formerly known as ONIDEX ( Oficina Nacional de Identificación y Extranjería)." In 2005 a new system was implemented and the final version of what is now called SAIME (Servicio Administrativo de Identificación Migración y Extranjería) that can store biometric data and has sophisticated security protocols came into effect in 2009. According to the above cited report this system:
  ..."facilitates the entry of Cuban agents into Venezuela, embedding themselves into various facets of the Venezuelan social missions and national security apparatus. Aside from Cubans, this group also used SAIME to facilitate the travel of Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO's), Colombian guerrillas, and Islamist terrorists."
Unfortunately the Obama Administration seems to be ignoring these unpleasant facts although it has applied an emergency order on Cuba to prevent democrats from engaging in nonviolent protests in territory north of Cuba.

Gerardo Hernandez, convicted of conspiracy to murder, honored by Raul Castro
 On December 17, 2014 President Obama commuted the sentences of three Cuban spies. One of them, Gerardo Hernandez, was serving a double life sentence for espionage and conspiracy to commit murder for his role in the deaths of four members of Brothers to the Rescue. Mr. Hernandez has announced that he is ready for his “next order” from the Castro regime. His last order involved first terrorizing and murdering by means of a mail bomb able to circumvent post office security protocols an individual the Castro regime had identified as a CIA agent living in Bal Harbour, Florida. Hernandez and the other spies were unable to execute that order because they were arrested in 1998. Fidel Castro himself has explained that intelligence gathering can be done through the Lourdes spy base. Castro regime agents are engaged in active measures.Considering this what could this "next order" involve?  Here are just three out of many more options taken from newspaper headlines over  the past three years.
Cyber Terror
In 2012 there were reports in the media of Cuban, Iranian and Venezuelan officials meeting in Mexico to discuss cyber attacks on U.S. soil this allegedly also involved seeking information about nuclear power plants in the United States. Little information emerged afterwards. 

Smuggling arms out of Cuba to a sanctioned country
In 2013 Panama captured a North Korean-flagged ship traveling from Cuba with undeclared military cargo headed to North Korea in violation of international sanctions. The Castro regime did not cooperate with the 2014 UN investigation and systematically lied about the weapons and circumstances surrounding the smuggling operation.

Smuggling weapons into Cuba 
Today, March 2, 2015 the news broke that the government of Colombia had seized a shipment of ammunition bound for Cuba on a China-flagged ship due to lack of proper documentation.
Despite all the above the Obama administration hopes to re-open the US embassy in Cuba  within weeks. This also means that the Castro regime's embassy would be fully active in the United States allowing its espionage networks greater reach for mischief. Considering that just one of these spy networks, the WASP network, planned terrorist acts on US soil and had a member convicted of murder conspiracy that led to the deaths of three U.S. citizens and a U.S. resident should be cause for concern. Returning a spy that planned terrorism in the US and contributed to the deaths of Americans to Cuba to a heroes welcome should be cause for moral outrage. This is not reconciliation. This is a dishonorable version of appeasement.