Monday, May 31, 2010

Justice delayed in Cambodia is still justice

A country without a memory is a country of madmen. - George Santayana

The faces stare out silently from the photographs with numbers pinned to their shirts and in some cases to their flesh. Each one of them a victim of the Cambodian genocide. Its been over 30-years since the Cambodian genocide took place and now some of the key officials responsible are being brought to justice. According to Lars Olsen, spokesman for the U.N.-backed Cambodia genocide tribunal the court will hand down the verdict against Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, on July 26, 2010.
Duch, 67, commanded the notorious S-21 prison where as many as 16,000 people were tortured before being sent for execution in the late 1970s. He is the first senior Khmer Rouge figure to face trial, and the only one to acknowledge responsibility for his actions. He was tried last year.

As such a moment approaches it is important to place this in context, and to also look at the non-Cambodians who served as apologists for this horror as it was taking place. Professor Sophal Ear does just that in the video below:

Sophal Ear discusses in the video above how Cambodia - at one point an island of peace and a model of development as war raged in Vietnam - deteriorated into the home of one of the worst genocides of the 20th century. Ear explains his family's history as they were forced to move to the countryside once the Khmer Rouge took power and re-ordered society in pursuit of the agrarian utopia that they promised the Cambodian people. The result of this social experiment? The starvation of one out of every four Cambodians as they tried to live off of rationed porridge. 1.7 million died, including Ear's father.

PBS News Hour offers an overview of how Cambodian society is dealing with confronting its past.

In Cambodia, Verdict Nears in Khmer Rouge Genocide Trial

PBS News Hour

Thirty years after the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, those accused of perpetrating genocide in Cambodia are facing justice for the first time. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on the forthcoming verdict from the war crimes tribunal.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: a step toward justice in the Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia.

We have a report from special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro. A version of this story aired on the PBS program “Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly.”

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For several months, as many as two million Cambodians tuned in to a weekly court drama on TV.

NEWS ANCHOR (through translator): Hello, and welcome to the 22nd program in our series “Duch on Trial.”

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: This is no fictional series. The genocide being described killed almost two million in the 1970s. However, most viewers know little about what is now distant history.

Two-thirds of today’s Cambodians weren’t even born when the Khmer Rouge were in power. And few Cambodians know much about the international tribunal that is trying a handful of prominent survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime for their role in the killings. The TV series is intended to change that.

NEWS ANCHOR (through translator): Now we’re going to see a selection of evidence given to the court about some of the crimes which with Duch has been charged.

NEWS ANCHOR (through translator): Viewers should be aware that some, but not all of the stories told here were denied by Duch.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The first to trial was Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Comrade Duch, now in his late 60s.

KAING GUEK EAV, former Khmer Rouge prison chief (through translator): We treated them as if they were already dead. I allowed four torture methods.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The trial itself is taking place just outside Phnom Penh. The capital is also the sight of the prison Duch commanded where at least 14,000 men, women and children were photographed and documented in a macabre administrative process, then tortured and killed.

Van Nath was one of only seven people who came out alive. Today, he paints and sells pictures of the painful memories. He talked about his imprisonment with Eric Stover, a human rights scholar and expert who is studying the impact of international courts on societies and individuals.

ERIC STOVER, Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley: How long were you held before you were asked to come and draw the portraits?

VAN NATH, former prisoner (through translator): One month and four days.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Van Nath’s life was spared so he could paint portraits of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader who went into hiding and died in 1998.

VAN NATH (through translator): In that six months, about 67 pictures of Pol Pot.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Testifying at the trial left him angry at being cross-examined and at seeing how well the defendant seemed to be treated.

VAN NATH (through translator): It was just like a shock when I go there to the court and see him. When I tell them the truth, they doubt me, ask me a lot of questions. I don’t feel the trust when I tell them, and that makes me feel bad. It seems like the accused person has more rights that the civil parties do, and I’m really not satisfied with that.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Many also aren’t satisfied with the slow pace of justice. It was delayed for years by Cold War politics and the reluctance of the Cambodian government, which still has former members of the Khmer Rouge in it.

Stover says the tricky negotiations limited the scope of the court, which was set up with two international and three Cambodian justices.

ERIC STOVER: The Cambodian government itself was not that in favor of this court. Even the negotiations to create it took a long period of time. We say that with evidence, over time, evidence loses its value. You’re 30 years later, people’s memories have been — people have forgotten. People have died. So they — going after those most responsible is really all you’re going to get at this point.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Justice delayed may be justice denied for many victims, but Chum Sirath, who started a group called the Victims Association says, despite the limited number of defendants, the court sends an important message.

CHUM SIRATH, Victims Association: If you can have a bigger number, more people, it would be better. But, if not, it’s better than nothing. When you commit a crime, there will be people who try to put you — to take you into account. This is one of the lessons that young generation can learn.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Eric Stover says the court itself has had to learn how to teach some of those lessons.

ERIC STOVER: I don’t think any court should be expected to be a social engineering institution. They’re just not designed to do that. But what we can expect from them is that they should have vigorous programs to try to go out into the population and describe what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and what their limitations are.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He says, after a slow start, the court did launch outreach programs. Twice a week, buses have brought in thousands of Cambodians on field trips.

I asked this group of visitors how many had ever heard of the court before coming here. The international community wanted the word spread even further. That’s why the British government and the U.S.-based East-West Center sponsored the television series.

MAN (through translator): Do you think the trial has gone well? The process has been pretty impressive. I have supported it because I was one of the victims. I was in prison under the regime.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Matthew Robinson was hired to produce the court series.

MATTHEW ROBINSON, television producer: We had to devise a language and to base our understanding of what was going on in the court that would be intelligible to people who — whose basic knowledge of — of legal proceedings, indeed, court proceedings, is minimal indeed.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The program has also urged viewers to engage in more dialogue about the trial and about the genocide.

NEWS ANCHOR (through translator): Thanks to everyone here for this discussion of Duch’s trial.

NEWS ANCHOR (through translator): We hope that this will encourage you at home to talk together about this topic so vital to Cambodia’s future well-being and progress.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Those conversations aren’t easy, says Robinson.

MATTHEW ROBINSON: I mean, anybody from 25 down are not so much skeptical about it, but they lack knowledge. And parents seem to be reluctant, maybe even embarrassed, to — to talk about what happened to them.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Youk Chhang, who survived the Khmer Rouge killing fields, wants to make sure young people get the knowledge they need, even if their parents won’t talk about it.

YOUK CHHANG, director, Documentation Center of Cambodia: This is the textbook for grade nine and 12.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He’s director of the Cambodia Documentation Center, which has published a textbook that is now in the hands of one million Cambodian students.

YOUK CHHANG: Start from the creation of the Khmer Rouge movement all the way to the fall of the Khmer Rouge in ‘79.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Most kids growing up in this country have never learned about it?

YOUK CHHANG: They never learned about this, but they heard about this. Right now, for the first time in 30 years, from grade 9 through 12, also the foundation year of every single university, allowed to study Khmer Rouge history.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The verdict and sentencing are expected in early June, six months after final arguments ended and two years after the trial began. Youk Chhang hopes it will help the country move on.

YOUK CHHANG: The court helped to put the past behind, and that gives us the direction we are going to be turning next for the future. And the court put the past into perspective, so that we can learn from it.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Survivors, like Van Nath, hope it brings justice.

VAN NATH (through translator): The verdict should be balancing what Duch has done, how many people he killed and how many he caused suffering. For me, I can’t forgive.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Eric Stover says the court, by example, can be an important building block for the future of this country, still recovering from years of war and genocide.

ERIC STOVER: People will have basic needs and need to be attended to, but, if you’re going to have real progress, you also put in the infrastructure for democracy, infrastructure for the rule of law, infrastructure that will support human rights, because, without that, you will always be in an uphill battle.

RAY SUAREZ: The tribunal’s next case will be a joint trial for four elderly defendants. It’s expected to start in 2012.

JIM LEHRER: Fred’s reporting is in partnership with the Undertold Stories project at Saint John’s University in Minnesota.

The video above may shock and disturb. It is a powerful documentary in which both victims and victimizers speak candidly about what took place. Attempting to initiate a process of reconciliation and justice between Cambodian torture survivors and the Khmer Rouge soldiers who brutalized them, the documentary S21: THE KHMER ROUGE KILLING MACHINE takes a close-up look at the the prison camps where this disturbing chapter of history took place in the mid-1970s. The film is set in the now-deserted S21 detention center.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Amnesty International : Report 2010 highlights global justice gap

The Amnesty International Report 2010 (see documents the state of human rights across 159 countries in 2009. It details a year in which although important gains were made accountability and effective justice seemed a remote ideal for many.

In 2009, peoples lives around the world continued to be torn apart by repression, violence, discrimination and political power plays, and a global justice gap prevailed.

Amnesty International Report 2010: Cuba


Head of state and government: Raúl Castro Ruz
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 11.2 million
Life expectancy: 78.5 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 9/6 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 99.8 per cent

Civil and political rights continued to be severely restricted by the authorities. Government critics continued to be imprisoned; many reported that they were beaten during arrest. Restrictions on freedom of expression were commonplace. The government continued to curtail freedom of association and assembly. The US embargo against Cuba remained operational, despite increasing opposition to it within and outside the USA.


Relations between Cuba and the USA improved during the year. Both governments initiated dialogues relating to migration issues and the re-establishment of a direct postal service between the two countries.

Representatives of the US Congress visited Cuba in April and met the Cuban President.
The Council of Ministers underwent a major reshuffle in March and key ministers during Fidel Castro’s last years in power were replaced.

In June, Cuba’s 47-year suspension from the Organization of American States (OAS) was lifted. However, Cuba’s participation in the OAS is conditional on its adherence to OAS principles.

In February, Cuba’s human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review. Cuba adopted some broad undertakings but rejected most of the recommendations relating to the protection and promotion of civil and political rights.

Cuba was re-elected to the Human Rights Council for another three-year term in May. The visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, planned for October, was postponed by the Cuban authorities until 2010.

Prisoners of conscience
At the end of the year, 55 prisoners of conscience continued to be detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.

Prisoner of conscience Nelson Aguiar Ramírez, was released during 2009 on health grounds and
Reinaldo Miguel Labrada Peña completed his sentence.

Human rights defenders Darsi Ferrer and his wife, Yusnaimy Jorge, were arrested on 9 July at their home in Havana City and charged with possessing or receiving illegally obtained merchandise (receptación). They were due to lead the “Stroll of Your Dreams” march along the Malecón, Havana’s sea front, later that day.

Darsi Ferrer, a physician and President of the Juan Bruno Zayas Independent Health and Human Rights Centre, which supports marginalized members of Cuban society in Havana City, was beaten by seven police officers at the Aguilera Police Station in Lawton. The couple were conditionally released shortly after midnight the same day.

On 21 July, Darsi Ferrer was re-arrested and charged with “contempt of the authorities”. He was refused bail and taken to Valle Grande Prison in Havana Province, a maximum security prison for convicted criminals. He remained detained awaiting trial at the end of the year.

Freedom of expression, assembly and association
Freedom of expression continued to be severely restricted. All mass media and the internet remained under state control. The authorities continued to block access to the websites of bloggers andjournalists critical of the government. Criminal charges such as “dangerousness” continued to be used to restrict dissidents from exercising freedom of expression, association and assembly. Independent journalists and bloggers faced harassment. Some were threatened with criminal prosecution and a number were detained.

In September, Yosvani Anzardo Hernández, editor of the digital magazine Candonga and a correspondent for a Miami-based news website, was arrested by police officers at his home in Holguín Province. At the time of his arrest, the computer server hosting his digital magazine was confiscated. He was held at Pedernales Prison in Holguín Province during which time he was
threatened with criminal prosecution under Law No. 88 on the Protection of National Independence and the Economy of Cuba. He was released without charge after two weeks.

Freedom of movement
Restrictions on freedom of movement prevented journalists and human rights and political activists from carrying out legitimate and peaceful activities.

In September, Yoani Sánchez, author of the popular blog Generación Y, was denied an exit visa by the Cuban authorities. She had been due to travel to the USA to receive the Maria Moors Cabot prize for journalism at Columbia University. She was also denied an exit visa to travel to Brazil following an invitation from the Brazilian Senate to present her book at a conference and address the legislature.

In November, Yoani Sánchez and blogger Orlando Luis Pardo were forced into a car by state security agents and beaten and threatened before being released. The attackers told Yoani Sánchez “this is the end of it”.

The US embargo against Cuba
The US embargo against Cuba continued to have a detrimental impact on the economic and social rights of Cubans. US legislation restricting exports of US manufactured or patented supplies and equipment to Cuba continued to hinder access to medicine and medical technologies. UN agencies operating in Cuba were also affected by the embargo.

In April, US President Barack Obama eased travel restrictions, allowing individuals to visit relatives in Cuba and send them remittances. However, in September, he extended for another year his authority to apply financial sanctions against Cuba under theTrading with the Enemy Act of 1917. For the 18th consecutive year, a resolution calling on the USA to end its embargo against Cuba was adopted by an overwhelming majority at the UN General Assembly.

A bipartisan group of US senators introduced a bill that would allow all US citizens to travel freely to Cuba for the first time since 1962. Other bills were introduced to Congress aimed at easing or totally lifting the embargo. At the end of the year, these bills remained pending.

Death penalty
There were no executions. Three people remained on death row at the end of 2009; most death sentences had been commuted by President Raúl Castro in 2008.

Otto René Rodríguez Llerena and Raúl Ernesto Cruz León, both Salvadoran nationals, remained under sentence of death. They had been convicted of terrorism charges in 1999. Their appeals against the sentences were pending before the People’s Supreme Court at the end of the year.

Amnesty International visits/reports
Amnesty International has not been allowed to visit Cuba since 1990.
Cuba: Fear for safety – Jorge Luis García Pérez; Iris Tamara Pérez
Aguilera; Carlos Michael Morales Rodriguez; Diosiris Santana Pérez;
Ernesto Mederos Arrozarena (AMR 25/003/2009)
Cuba: Harassment – Edgard López Moreno (AMR 25/005/2009)
The US embargo against Cuba – Its impact on economic and social rights (AMR 25/007/2009)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

In Solidarity with a Free Burma & with Aung San Suu Kyi on 20th anniversary of last free elections

Amnesty International Action: On June 18 Stand with Aung San Suu Kyi. She turns 65 on June 19, 2010!

A little over three years after Fidel Castro and his cohorts took power in Cuba during the same year as the 1962 Cuban missile crisis the military junta came to power in Burma and would go on to change the name to Myanmar and like Cuba destroy their citizen's freedoms and in the process their country through the systematic violation of fundamental human rights. Unlike Cuba, the dictatorship in Burma was foolish enough to believe that they could win free and relatively fair elections. Human Rights Watch offers a brief summary of what took place:
On May 27, 1990, surprisingly free and fair elections in Burma resulted in a resounding win for the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), which secured 60 percent of the popular vote and 80 percent of the parliamentary seats (392 out of 485). The NLD will not contest the 2010 elections because of new laws aimed to deter the opposition from running and the imprisonment of many party members, including NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Unfortunately, having learned this lesson they will not dare repeat it. Aung San Suu Kyi has spent the last 20 years under house arrest with brief internments in prison. In 1991 she won the Nobel Peace Prize, but was unable to attend the ceremony being under arrest in Burma. Meanwhile the country has been subjected to brutal oppression with a huge number of political prisoners estimated today at 2,100 with 428 of them members of the victorious NLD party arrested in 1990 and thousands of victims of torture and extrajudicial killings. Despite all of this the opposition carries on and is observing the anniversary of the last free elections in Burma. They are holding activities in Burma and around the world. Despite all these horrors Aung San Suu Kyi remains firmly committed to nonviolent resistance to tyranny. Listen to her in this video:

Martin Luther King Jr. once observed that "All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality." I would learn the truth of this thanks to Aung San Suu Kyi and former Cuban prisoner of conscience José Gabriel Ramón Castillo. Attending the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance, and Democracy in 2009 I met José Gabriel there and after listening to Soe Aung, from the National Council of the Union of Burma speak about the situation in his country. José Gabriel turned to me and explained how reading a book by Aung San Suu Kyi in Cuba had led him to decide to become a political dissident and join the ranks of the Cuban opposition to the dictatorship. Years later he would be part of a group of former political prisoners demanding her release. This led me to reflect on another Kingian observation that "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" and realize that it needed a corollary "Striving for justice anywhere is a threat to injustice everywhere."

This is a small contribution to this effort in solidarity with a Free Burma and with the Lady, Aung San Suu Kyi. My prayers and best wishes for her and the people of Burma.

Thwa dau me

Political prisoner's mom on how Cuban officials misled & threatened her

As people of good faith around the world tune into what is happening in Cuba with the death of prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo on February 23, 2010; the brutal broadcast beatings of the Ladies in White by government organized mobs on International Human Rights day and again in March 2010; and the attack on 19-year old artist Alexandra Joner in Oslo, Norway by Carmen Julia Guerra, the Cuban Consul, they should take into account Noris's testimony below when weighing the validity of the claims made by Cuban officials and their apologists.

Egberto Escobedo Morales

Noris Morales is the mother of Cuban political prisoner Egberto Escobedo Morales, who has been on hunger strike since April 16 protesting conditions in his prison.

In the video below, Sra. Morales describes how Cuban officials tricked her into believing she might be able to win the release of her son. (An English transcript is below.)P.S. Thanks to Marc Masferrer for posting this video on his blog Uncommon Sense.

My name is Noris Morales I am the mother of Egberto Escobedo Morales. My son is serving a 29 year prison sentence in the prisons of Cuba. He will have spent 16 years in prison as of June 11, 2010. 16 years suffering the worse things in life: beatings, hunger strikes, and struggling with hunger strikes.

I left Cuba.

In the year that I left Cuba they mislead me into leaving. They promised me if I was able to obtain a visa from any country that they would turn him over to me.

I went to Costa Rica. My family helped me. When I got there I began to struggle and had the visa denied on three occasions because he was in prison. They said they could not give it to me.

One day it occurred to me to go to the Government House of Costa Rica and when my nerves got bad. The first Lady became aware of my presence there. It was her office where she worked. Lady Lorena Clare was able to get me the visa and she helped me.

I believed in the communists. I believed that they had told me the truth. I took the visa and went to Cuba. I arrived in Havana with 150 pesos. When I got to Camaguey I was without a penny. I went there with the hope that my son would be turned over to me.

I get to Camaguey where the delegation meets, at the Ministry thats when they told me: "Oh..but you believed that? You can't be right in the head." They had told me that (about the visa) to leave the country and not be next to my son and when they told me this I said that cannot be. Now I will stay. If you do not give me my son I will stay on a hunger strike. Whatever - you need to turn him over to me.

When I told my son that I would remain imprisoned. I hadn't done anything. I had committed no crime but they told me that if I stayed it would be in prison. I would remain imprisoned but they had to give me my son.

But my son told me on his knees - He asked me on his knees: "Mom please get out - leave Cuba. You are my hope that I will stay alive that my voice will be heard outside. The hope that I get out of here is you mother.

That was a few years ago that I left. What I have accomplished until now? I have not been able to get him out of the prison not even for an hour. They tricked me. The only thing I have been able to do is to denounce this. That the world know about the situation of my son. I have him in a very grave state at this moment. He is vomiting blood. I don't know if he is going to be saved. My son is going to die just like Zapata. I don't want that to happen to my son. Help me please. Please help me. My son is going to die. I don't want him to die.

Update June 16, 2010: Frances Robles reported in The Miami Herald June 15, 2010 that "Egberto Angel Escobedo completed his 17th year in a Cuban prison last Friday, and his 56th day of a hunger strike." The article also informs "Escobedo is having trouble breathing, is suffering from a kidney stone passed earlier this month. He pleaded to be taken to a hospital but was returned to his cell block."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Two political prisoners of the dictatorship in Cuba are dying on hunger strike

End the silence on their plight and help save their lives

Egberto Escobedo Morales (above photo)

The world knows about Guillermo Fariñas and his hunger strike demanding the liberation of 26 of Cuba's prisoners of conscience who are deathly ill, but the world does not know much of Cuban political prisoners today on deaths door carrying out hunger strikes in the same manner as Orlando Zapata Tamayo. There are two whose health status and situation are extremely precarious and deserve attention.

Political prisoners Egberto Escobedo Morales at the Cerámica Roja prison in Camagüey and Juan Ramón Rivero de Espaigne at the Mar Verde prison in Santiago de Cuba have been on prolonged hunger strikes. Both prisoners have exhibited a marked deterioration in their health.

Egberto Escobedo Morales imprisoned since 1993 has been on hunger strike, as of today May 25, 2010, for 40 days protesting "the subhuman conditions in Castro's prisons" and is being denied the medical attention required considering his health status.

Egberto's mother Noris Morales, is asking the international community to help so that "what happened to Orlando Zapata Tamayo (who recently died after a long hunger strike in Cuba) is not allowed to happen to her son."

Juan Ramón Rivero de Espaigne initiated the hunger strike on May 4, 2010 and was "brutally beaten by his jailers and state security agents ten days later on May 14, 2010. Prisoner of conscience Luis Enrique Ferrer García held at the same prison as Juan Ramón speaking in a recording turned into the Cuban Democratic Directorate states: "he was insulted, beaten to the floor and immobilized by various guards. Rivero de Espaigne continues on hunger strike, he is urinating blood, without medical attention, very thin, and subject to mistreatment and abuse.

According to Kerrie Howard, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International: "Cuban laws impose unacceptable limits on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Cuba desperately needs political and legal reform to bring the country in line with basic international human rights standards. The long imprisonment of individuals solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights is not only a tragedy in itself but also constitutes a stumbling block to other reforms, including the beginning of the dialogue needed for the lifting of the US unilateral embargo against Cuba."

Back in 1999, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet declared at a press conference in Havana, Cuba
: 'Si un gobierno encarcela injustamente, el deber de un hombre justo es la cárcel' [If a government unjustly imprisons, the obligation of the just man is prison]. He would go on to serve a three year prison sentence for holding a press conference later in 1999 be released for less than a month in 2002 only to be rearrested and sentenced to 25-years in prison which he is unjustly serving today.

At a time when the dictatorship in Cuba is willing to discuss the possibility of releasing political prisoners it is also a good time to discuss repealing the laws that will guarantee a new batch of political prisoners or the re-imprisonment of prisoners of conscience simply for exercising their fundamental human rights.

"Under a government that imprisons any man unjustly , the true place for a just man is also a prison" - Henry David Thoreau

Update June 16, 2010: Frances Robles reported in The Miami Herald June 15, 2010 that "Egberto Angel Escobedo completed his 17th year in a Cuban prison last Friday, and his 56th day of a hunger strike." The article also informs "Escobedo is having trouble breathing, is suffering from a kidney stone passed earlier this month. He pleaded to be taken to a hospital but was returned to his cell block."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Norwegian of Cuban descent on mother's side bitten by Cuban Consul in Oslo, Norway

The Cuban Consul's bite is worse than her bark

Norwegian media is reporting about a Cuban diplomat, Carmen Julia Guerra, insulting, threatening, and biting a young Norwegian woman, Alexandra Joner age 19 (pictured above), of Cuban descent on her mother's side that took place on May 22, 2010 outside of the Cuban embassy in Oslo during a non-violent demonstration in solidarity with the Ladies in White and in remembrance of Orlando Zapata Tamayo. There are even blog entries with colorful titles: Cuban diplomat does a Mike Tyson in Norway.and Beware of the dog...err... the Cuban diplomat. The main national newspaper in Norway, Aftenposten, has a photograph of the young girl with bite marks on her hand taken by Hans O. Torgersen. The photo is reproduced below.
Now this is what happens to someone peacefully demonstrating in front of the Cuban embassy in a free country like Norway. Jan Tore Sanner, a Norwegian member of parliament, is asking that the Cuban diplomat who bit Alexandra be expelled from the Norway. In a face book post the member of parliament outlined his position:
The Cuban consul demonstrates that the regime has no respect for how to behave In an open and democratic society. In our country everyone have freedom of speech – it`s not acceptable that diplomats tries to stop a peaceful demonstration.
Considering this incident imagine what they do to Cubans inside of Cuba demonstrating peacefully in their own country. This reality is why Cuban human rights activists and dissidents need your solidarity, and why these seven women were out marching for the dissidents in Cuba when they encountered the intolerance and hatred of the Cuban diplomat. Below a photograph with a closer look at the bite marks on the hand.

Below is a video that documents the insults, threats, and attempt by the "diplomat" to seize Alexandra Joner's camera. The video below shows what took place, and a written description is also available inside.

Original video at

UPDATE: The incident has been picked up by the international news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP)

UPDATE #2: Chavista account of Oslo demonstration where attack took place seeks to portray a silent protest of 7 women as a failure in Radio Nacional de Venezuela

UPDATE #3: Biting incident now being reported all over the world. Here is a sampling: Le Figaro , Zigonet, РИА Новости, VESTI.KZ,Penki,RIA Novosti

Update #4: Norwegian media now reporting that a formal complaint has been made and that the Norwegian Foreign Ministry is looking into it.

Update #5: Norway's TV2 reports that the Cuban ambassador has sent a letter and images accusing the 19 year old artist of attacking the Cuban Counsel.

Update #6: BBC Mundo reports on the incident.

Update #7: The Foreigner [Norwegian news in English] reports Cuban consul attacks demonstrator

Update #8: Mercopress offers a complete overview of where things stand on May 27, 2010: Cuban consul in Norway accused of “biting” demonstrator’s hand

Alexandra Joner, appears in the above video by Norwegian artist Laila Samuels with the title "Give it to me straight" which is what the Norwegian Foreign Ministry should demand of the Cuban ambassador.

The Power of Non-violence from both a principled and strategic perspective

"Civil Resistance as a Foundation of Democracy to Be: The Legacy of Nonviolent Struggle in the Democratization of Poland"

Dr. Maciej Bartkowski, Senior Director for Education and Research at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict presented a talk on the long term impact of civil resistance after a nonviolent struggle ends and a democratic transition is launched. Some of the questions addressed in his presentation: Does civil resistance create a long lasting effect on the society and politics? Do earlier practices of civil resistance have an impact on later processes of democratic transformation? How exactly is a propitious effect of civil resistance on democratization and democratic consolidation generated and visible in practice? What analytical tools can be used to study the residual impact of civil resistance? The full presentation is available below:

Civil Resistance as a Foundation of Democracy to Be - Maciej Bartkowski (Webinar) from ICNC on Vimeo.

Michael Nagler, author of The Search for a Nonviolent Future, from the Metta Center for Nonviolence speaks on principled non-violence at Sonoma State University in December 2009.

Both presentations offer important insights into the nature of nonviolent civic resistance and its prospects for laying the groundwork for both a just and free democratic order.

Amnesty International urges Cuban dictatorship to revoke repressive laws and release prisoners of conscience

Cuba urged to revoke repressive laws and release prisoners of conscience

17 March 2010

Amnesty International on March 17, 2010 called on the Cuban authorities to revoke laws that restrict freedom of expression, assembly and association and to release all dissidents unfairly detained by the authorities.

The organization also urged President Raúl Castro to allow independent monitoring of the human rights situation in Cuba by inviting UN experts to visit the country and by facilitating monitoring by other human rights groups.

The call came ahead of the 7th anniversary of the arrest of 75 Cuban dissidents around 18 March 2003. Fifty-three of those arrested continue to be detained. One of those arrested in March 2003, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, died on 22 February 2010, having spent several weeks on hunger strike in protest at prison conditions.

"Cuban laws impose unacceptable limits on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly," said Kerrie Howard, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International. "Cuba desperately needs political and legal reform to bring the country in line with basic international human rights standards.

"The long imprisonment of individuals solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights is not only a tragedy in itself but also constitutes a stumbling block to other reforms, including the beginning of the dialogue needed for the lifting of the US unilateral embargo against Cuba."

Several articles of the Cuban Constitution and Criminal Code are so vague that they are currently being interpreted in a way that infringes fundamental freedoms.

Article 91 of Cuba's Criminal Code provides for sentences of ten to 20 years or death for anyone "who in the interest of a foreign state, commits an act with the objective of damaging the independence or territorial integrity of the Cuban state".

According to article 72 "any person shall be deemed dangerous if he or she has shown a proclivity to commit crimes demonstrated by conduct that is in manifest contradiction with the norms of socialist morality" and article 75.1 states that any police officer can issue a warning for such "dangerousness". The declaration of a dangerous pre-criminal state can be decided summarily. A warning may also be issued for associating with a "dangerous person".

Law 88 provides for seven to 15 years' imprisonment for passing information to the United States that could be used to bolster anti-Cuban measures, such as the US economic blockade. The legislation also bans the ownership, distribution or reproduction of "subversive materials" from the US government, and proposes terms of imprisonment of up to five years for collaborating with radio, TV stations or publications deemed to be assisting US policy.

Local non-governmental organizations have great difficulty in reporting on human rights violations due to restrictions on their rights to freedom of expression, association and movement. International independent human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, are not allowed to visit the island.

Read More

Cuban human rights activist in maximum security prison must be released (News, 26 February 2010)
Death of Cuban prisoner of conscience on hunger strike must herald change (News, 24 February 2010)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

90 Days after his death Orlando Zapata Tamayo's demands may finally be met

Zapata Lives! Viva Zapata!

Ninety days ago on February 23, 2010 Cuban prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo died after spending more than 80 days on a water only hunger strike demanding that the prison conditions for political prisoners be improved. His death has not been in vain. Despite attempts by the Cuban dictatorship and their fellow travelers to smear Orlando Zapata Tamayo's good name.

The truth of Orlando's status as an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience and non-violent human rights activists has been confirmed. International attention has remained focused on Cuba following Orlando's death along with the brutalization of the Ladies in White less than a month later led to an international outcry. It has also led to the questioning of the position of regime apologists. The Associated Press reported today and Reuters yesterday that the Cuban regime will transfer political prisoners closer to their homes and give medical attention to some of the political prisoners. Orlando Zapata Tamayo's hunger strike demands appear to have been met, unfortunately it is 90 days too late.

On the eve of the 7th anniversary of Cuba's Black Spring, Amnesty International "called on the Cuban authorities to revoke laws that restrict freedom of expression, assembly and association and to release all dissidents unfairly detained by the authorities. " The only way to avoid that the release of one group of unjustly imprisoned dissidents only open up spaces for another group of nonviolent dissidents being imprisoned for exercising their fundamental rights is to join Amnesty's call for an end to the laws that outlaw free expression, assembly, and association.

Meanwhile on May 20, 2010 at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington D.C. the image of Orlando Zapata Tamayo was projected on the facade of the Cuban mission in Washington DC. It is a performance art piece by Cuban artist Geandy Pavon.

Zapata Vive! Zapata Lives!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Exposing one of the Cuban Dictatorship's Myths: Donald Rumsfeld planned attack on Cuba in 2003

Reality: Regime fears a popular uprising not a US invasion

The Cuban dictatorship in a desperate attempt to justify a massive crackdown in 2003 in which human rights activists, independent journalists, independent librarians, and organizers of the Varela project were rounded up, subjected to summary trials and 75 were sentenced to long prison sentences of up to 28 years. All of the Cubans rounded up in the crackdown were recognized by Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience.

Years later in 2009 Raul Castro claimed that Donald Rumsfeld had planned a huge attack against Cuba in mid 2003 and used this as a justification for the March 2003 crackdown. There is no evidence to back up this claim. Worse yet agents of the dictatorship cite Bob Woodward as a source. In Woodward's book Bush at War there is no mention of such plans. The source of the Woodward claim appears to originate in an article by Robert Jensen in the left-wing site Counterpunch in a book review panning Woodward's Bush at War as "boring." So boring in fact that Jensen falls asleep and begins to imagine in his dream what it would be like to be in the room with Bush's inner circle:
After the last National Security Council meeting, her job was getting harder. Rumsfeld had proposed that the next phase of the war on terrorism should be a massive attack on Cuba to expand the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay to the whole island -- a three-day air campaign followed by boots-on-the-ground. Cheney had liked the plan, and Tenet had said his paramilitary teams were ready to work with the Special Forces units that would take the lead.
The reality is quite the opposite. Beginning during the Bush Administration the Cuban dictatorship began purchasing on a cash and carry basis agricultural products from the United States. According to the U.S. Cuba Trade and Economic Council between 2001 and 2010 the dictatorship purchased over $3.2 billion dollars in food and agricultural products from the United States.

Furthermore, the Cuban dictatorship now tries to downplay there links with the US military that according to Raul Castro in a December 2008 interview with Sean Penn are extensive: "We've had permanent contact with the US military, by secret agreement, since 1994." Not only contacts but joint military exercises. Again the source is Raul Castro:
"It is based on the premise that we would discuss issues only related to Guantánamo. On February 17, 1993, following a request by the United States to discuss issues related to buoy locators for ship navigations into the bay, was the first contact in the history of the revolution. Between March 4 and July 1, the Rafters Crisis took place. A military-to-military hot line was established, and on May 9, 1995, we agreed to monthly meetings with primaries from both governments. To this day, there have been 157 meetings, and there is a taped record of every meeting. The meetings are conducted on the third Friday of every month. We alternate locations between the American base at Guantánamo and in Cuban-held territory. We conduct joint emergency-response exercises. For example, we set a fire, and American helicopters bring water from the bay, in concert with Cuban helicopters.
Reports confirming this relationship between the United States and Cuban armed forces appeared in July 2009 news articles describing the maneuvers:
About 150 U.S. and Cuban uniformed and civilian personnel took part in the drill, which saw Cuban military helicopters cross to the American side of the fence, and American and Cuban medics establish a triage centre on Cuban territory.
These exercises were taking place over the eight years of the Bush Administration. Not exactly the kind of relationship one would expect when a military invasion is being planned by one side or by the other being on the receiving end. According to navy Lt.-Cmdr. Brook DeWalt,"The bilateral fenceline drill exercises began in 1999, when the U.S. naval station and Cuban authorities agreed to conduct annual first responders and emergency response drills at the Northeast Gate."

AI Urgent Action: Tibetan scholar & prisoner of conscience Tagyal at risk of torture

20 May 2010

UA 120/10 - Risk of torture/Prisoner of conscience

CHINA Tagyal (m)

Tibetan scholar and writer, Tagyal, was detained on 23 April under suspicion of "inciting separatism". He is a prisoner of conscience, at high risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

Tagyal is a well-known Tibetan scholar, aged 47, who writes under the pen name Shogdung. On 23 April, security officials took him from his workplace, the Nationalities Publishing House, in Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province in China. Later the same day, the officials went to his home and confiscated two computers. Around 2.30 am the next morning they returned to his home, informing his family that he was being held under suspicion of "inciting separatism".

Tagyal is believed to be held in No.1 Detention Center in Xining (also known as Ershilipu Detention Center). Despite several attempts, no one has been able to visit him. Tibetans in police custody, particularly those detained on charges of "inciting separatism", are frequently tortured and otherwise ill-treated. Tagyal suffers from poor eye-sight and digestive problems.

Tagyal's detention was first publicized on a blog that has since been blocked. The blog suggested that his detention was prompted by the publication of an open letter that he wrote on 17 April, which was signed by seven other Tibetan scholars and artists. The letter expresses condolences to the victims of an earthquake that struck Qinghai on 14 April. No other signatory is known to have been detained. Tagyal's recently published book, The Line between Sky and
Earth, which describes Tibet in the wake of the unrest in 2008 as "a place of terror", may also be a reason for his detention.

The authorities closed down his family-run bookshop on 12 April, leaving the family without a source of income.

On 14 April, the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu in southern Qinghai was hit by an earthquake. According to newspaper reports, more than 2,000 people died and more than 170 are missing. 12,135 people were injured, 1,434 severely. More than 100,000 were left homeless, many of which are now living in temporary shelters and facing difficult weather conditions.

Domestic and international aid has been poured into the region following the earthquake in April. Tibetan monks and civilians have played a vital role in relief efforts because, unlike emergency workers from other parts of China, they are accustomed to the high altitude of the Tibetan Plateau. Tibetan monks began arriving in Yushu shortly after the earthquake struck, but the government has recently asked them to return to their monasteries. The Dalai Lama has asked to visit Qinghai Province to mourn the victims of the region and comfort their families, but his request has been ignored. The government has however allowed a visit to the area by Gyaincain Norbu, chosen by Beijing as the 11th Panchen Lama.

Three days after the earthquake, Tagyal attempted to go to Yushu County to help, but he was denied the permit to go there. Together with a group of prominent Tibetan intellectuals, he signed, on April 17, an open letter to the victims of the disaster, expressing condolences and criticizing the Chinese government for its handling of earthquake relief efforts.

Yushu, which is part of the Tibetan Plateau, has a population that is 97 percent ethnic Tibetan. There has been considerable ethnic unrest in the region in recent years.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:
* Calling on the authorities to release Tagyal immediately and unconditionally as he is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for his peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression;
* Urging the authorities to guarantee that Tagyal will not be tortured or otherwise ill-treated while he remains in custody;
* Urging the authorities to ensure that Tagyal is allowed access to legal assistance of his choosing, his family and any medical treatment that he may require.


Director of the Qinghai Provincial Department of Public Security
He Zaigui Tingzhang
Qinghaisheng Gong'anting
1001 Fang, 10 Ceng
Xiningshi 810000
Salutation: Dear Director

Director of the Qinghai Provincial Department of Justice
Wu Faxiang Tingzhang
Qinghaisheng Sifating
11 Nanshanlu
Chengzhong district
Xiningshi 810000
Salutation: Dear Director


Director of the No. 1 Detention Center
Xiningshi Diyi Kanshousuo
73 Ningzhanglu,
Ershilipu Paichusuo
Xiningshi Gonganju
Chengbei Fenju
Salutation: Dear Director

Ambassador Yesui Zhang
Embassy of the People's Republic of China
3505 International Place NW
Washington DC 20522
Phone: 202 495 2000
Fax: 202 465 2138

Check with the AIUSA Urgent Action office if sending appeals after 1 July 2010.

Tip of the Month:
Write as soon as you can. Try to write as close as possible
to the date a case is issued.

Within the United States:
$0.28 - Postcards
$0.44 - Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
To Canada:
$0.75 - Postcards
$0.75 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
To Mexico:
$0.79 - Postcards
$0.79 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
To all other destination countries:
$0.98 - Postcards
$0.98 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)

Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement
that promotes and defends human rights.

This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including
contact information and stop action date (if applicable).
Thank you for your help with this appeal.

Urgent Action Network
Amnesty International USA
600 Pennsylvania Ave SE 5th fl
Washington DC 20003
Phone: 202.544.0200
Fax: 202.675.8566

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cuban dictatorship's double standard on immigration

"I was caught because I was an illegal," explained a bicycle taxi driver as he gripped the rusted blue handle-bars of his vehicle in" ... "And because I'd been here several times before, I was deported back."

The bicyclist was not interviewed somewhere in Arizona, but in Cuba where even being a Cuban citizen does not permit you to live in your nation's capitol. Despite that Cuba's rubber stamp national assembly has passed a resolution denouncing Arizona's immigration law. The Cuban "legislators" failed to mention their own immigration & emigration laws. In 1997 the same national assembly passed a law Decree 217 which restricts migration to Havana from rural areas.
"The government deported tens of thousands of people or forcibly removed them from Havana to other parts of the island," said Daniel Wilkinson, America's deputy director at Human Rights Watch. "It's just one in a series of laws that place severe restrictions on Cubans [and] how they live, where they live, and where they work."
Also there appears to be a racial component with regards to who the police target and deport to their home province according to a CNN report:
The taxi driver said he believes when Havana police check IDs, they "like to pick on black people a little more."
This reality has led to Brazilian civil rights leader Abdias Nascimento and African Americans to speak out against the mistreatment of Cubans of African descent.

Yoani Sanchez, Claudia Cadelo, and many other Cubans have been denied exit permits to attend international conferences abroad. There are more extreme practices for Cuban nationals who attempt to enter and leave their own homeland. Cubans who left without permission were massacred as in the case of the July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" tugboat sinking. Please view the video below for more details:

This was not the first time that such an act was documented. On July 6, 1980 in Matanzas Bay near the Canimar River Cuban forces strafed, rammed, and sank a boat heading for Miami with 60 Cubans on board.

Nor can a Cuban who has left his homeland simply return even with a valid Cuban passport. Adrian Leiva returned for three months in 2008 and was deported when his visa expired. In Cuba, although a Cuban citizen you need a visa to re-enter your country. He tried to return in 2009 only to be turned away by Cuban government representatives at Miami International Airport. Adrian died in March 2010 under mysterious circumstances trying to return home to Cuba on a boat. Other Cuban nationals that traveled with him remain incarcerated by Cuban state security.

Acts of repudiation were first seen in 1980 during the Mariel crisis when Cubans who simply wanted to leave the country were brutally assaulted and forty lost their lives in lynchings. A refugee at the time of Mariel Mirta Ojito, now a journalist and author, described what she had seen and experienced in an opinion piece for the New York Times:
Mariel marked the first time socialist Cuba turned against itself. The government staged riots called actos de repudio -- street rallies in which neighbors turned against neighbors, harassing and tormenting those who wanted to leave the country. The victims were often pelted with rocks, tomatoes and eggs. Windows were shattered. Doors were knocked down. Some people were killed, dragged through the streets as trophies to intolerance and hate. Sometimes people trapped inside their homes chose to kill themselves rather than face their tormentors.

The video below contains images from the government mobs in 1980 beating and brutalizing Cubans who just wanted to emigrate.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Carlos Varela rocks Miami

Carlos Varela visited the United States back in 1998 and played in Miami. A reuters article titled: Carlos Varela: Cuba's Bob Dylan or Paul Simon? Outlined the life of this great musical talent, but the article also exposed the dark underbelly of the Cuban dictatorship's cultural genocide. Not only banning Cuban artists that refused to tow the regime line, but entire schools of music like jazz and rock. In the above mentioned article it described how Varela was able to encounter both Dylan's and Simon's music then banned in the official media:
As a teen-ager, Varela said, he listened avidly to U.S. pop and rock FM radio stations by fashioning a crude radio antenna from a wire more than 15 feet (five metres) long hung from a window in his home. That is how he heard Simon and Garfunkel songs including "Sounds of Silence'' and "Bridge Over Troubled Water'' that he says had an influence on his music.
Imagine that, one of the great Cuban artists of his generation having to set up an apparatus to listen to forbidden music which would shape him as an artist and impact the world. Twelve years after this article he returns to tour in the United States and play in Miami.

The Miami Herald's Jordan Levin offers an excellent overview of the Carlos Varela concert at the Gusman Center in downtown Miami on Saturday night May 15, 2010 and in her review describes how the audience impacted the concert:
They might have taken some things beyond or other than Varela intended, but that’s the power of music. He looked slightly uncomfortable when, during Guillermo Tell, shouts of Cuba! Cuba! were followed by Libre! Libre!

For those interested a breakdown of the songs played over the course of the evening.

Concert setlist

1. Colgando del Cielo
2. El Niño
3. Telon de Fondo
4. Nubes
5. Como los Peces
6. Robinson
7. Muros y Puertas
8. Mi Fe
9. Siete
10. Luna de Vino Tinto
11. Lucas y Lucia
12 El Leñador
13. Guillermo Tell
14. Memorias
15. Foto de Familia
16. 25,000 Mentiras
17. Los Mapas Están Cambiando
18. Habaname
19. Como un Ángel
20. La Política
Over the years I've spoken out in favor of freedom of expression no matter how unpopular and denounced attempts to intimidate or threaten expression while at the same time recognizing how a totalitarian regime like the one in Cuba can manipulate images to advance its own agenda.

Nevertheless I don't see how Varela's concert or statements in favor of the Ladies in White and demonstrating respect for Cuban hunger strikers can be used by the Castro regime. Add to that an audience at the concert that engaged in shout outs for Zapata, the Ladies in White, and for a free Cuba.

To the contrary other than a small group of the usual suspects destroying albums there were little or no images of use for the dictatorship.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Oscar's Cuba

Filmmaker Jordan Allot entered Cuba to film a biography of the life of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, a leader of Cuba's civic non-violent movement and currently an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience serving a 25-year prison sentence at the Combinado de Este prison in Cuba. Jordan takes you on a journey of Cuba as seen through the eyes of Oscar Elias Biscet from the day he was born until the present. Photos and videos of Oscar Elias that even members of his family, who attended the opening, had never seen offer great insights into the man that would become one of Cuba's iconic members of Cuba's democratic opposition.

I saw the film tonight and thought that it offered a great summary of what 50 years of the Cuban dictatorship has done to Cubans along with Cubans efforts to combat it. Go see the film and take a friend or two. Below is the trailer of the film:

Miami Dade College offers information on the upcoming screenings at the Tower Theater on 8th Street:

Three public screenings will take place on May 18, 19 and 20, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $6 for general admission and $5 for seniors and students.

Oscar’s Cuba is a feature-length documentary about Dr. Biscet who is currently serving a 25-year prison term with no due process for allegedly committing crimes against the sovereignty and the integrity of Cuba. The physician is one of the communist island’s best known dissidents and human rights advocates. The film was created by Jordan Allott, who served as director and executive producer. He is the executive producer for Washington-based In Altum Productions. The film was co-produced by the Pan-American Development Foundation. Four time Grammy winner Arturo Sandoval contributed the original soundtrack to the production. For more information regarding the film, visit

Oscar’s Cuba

  • WHEN: Tuesday, May. 18, 7:00 PM - Thursday, May. 20, 7:00 PM
  • WHERE: MDC’s Tower Theater 1508 SW 8 Street
  • COST: Tickets are $6 for general admission and $5 for seniors and students.

For more information related to films and show times at MDC’s Tower Theater, call 305 642-1264 or visit

Oscar’s Cuba media contact: Daniel Allott, 571-296-5257,

Update See Oscar's Cuba in Paris hosted by Cuban writer Zoe Valdez on Friday June 18th at 7pm @ La Maison de l'Amérique latine 217, Boulevard Saint-Germain 75007 Paris, France

Platform of Spaniards for the democratization of Cuba

Platform of Spaniards for the democratization of Cuba

May 7, 2010

Cuba is enduring a painful and ferocious dictatorship that maintains the country in misery.

A dictatorship in its late years demonstrates its ruthlessness and deafness to the voices calling for freedom and democracy.

The Cuban question is now a matter of basic and essential human rights.

The choice is, simply, between democracy or totalitarianism.

The Spanish know very well that nothing can justify the lack of freedom.

Let's help the Cuban people to achieve democracy as soon as possible.

Let us not leave them alone!

Plataforma de españoles por la democratización de Cuba
Mayo 7, 2010

Cuba está soportando una feroz y dolorosa dictadura que mantiene al país en la miseria.

Una dictadura que en sus postrimerías se muestra despiadada y sorda a las voces que reclaman libertad y democracia.

La cuestión cubana es hoy una cuestión de derechos humanos básicos y esenciales.

La elección está, sencillamente, entre democracia o totalitarismo.

Los españoles sabemos muy bien que nada puede justificar la falta de libertad.

Ayudemos al pueblo cubano para que alcance la democracia lo antes posible.

¡No los dejemos solos!

(Signers in support of the cause) Firmas de apoyo a la causa

Victoria Abril, Actriz

Alaska, Cantante

Pedro Almodóvar, Director de Cine

Imanol Arias, Actor

Ana Belén, Actriz

Albert Boadella, Actor

Juan Bordes, Escultor

Jose María Calleja, Periodista

Eduardo Campoy, Cineasta

Martín Casariego, Escritor

Fernando Colomo, Director de Cine

Alberto Corazón, Escultor y pintor

Gabino Diego, Actor

Juan Echanove, Actor

José Ramón Encinar, Músico

Antonio Elorza, Político

Arcadi Espada, Periodista

Espido Freire, Escritora

Alejandro Gándara, Escritor

Concha Campoy, Periodista

Carlos García Gual, Escritor

Adolfo García Ortega, Escritor

Jose María Guelbenzu, Escritor

Luis Gordillo, Pintor

Enrique de Hériz, Escritor

Carmen Iglesias, Escritora

Elvira Lindo, Escritora

Mabel Lozano, Actriz

Víctor Manuel, Cantautor

Fernando Marías, Escritor

Gustavo Martín Garzo, Escritor

Ignacio Martínez de Pisón, Escritor y guionista

Luis Mateo Diez, Escritor

Carmen Maura, Actriz

José María Merino, Escritor

Juan José Millás, Escritor

Rosa Montero, Periodista y escritora

Antonio Muñoz Molina, Escritor

Marta Pessarrodona, Escritora

Álvaro Pombo, Escritor

Soledad Puértolas, Escritora

Valentí Puig, Periodista

Santiago Ramos, Actor

Antonio Resines, Actor

Jose Maria Ridao, Escritor

Carme Riera, Guionista y ensayista

Ricardo Menéndez Salmón, Escritor

Juana Salavert, Escritora

Aitana Sanchez Gijón, Actriz

Clara Sánchez, Escritora

Fernando Savater, Escritor

Jorge Semprún, Escritor

Fernando Trueba, Director de Cine

Esther Tusquets, Escritora

Ángela Vallvey, Escritora

Mario Vargas Llosa, Escritor

Maribel Verdú, Actriz