Saturday, January 3, 2015

Top 15 Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter 2014 blog entries

These are the top 15 blog entries of the year in terms of visits arranged in chronological order. George Santayana understood the importance of remembering the past in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Beginning with two blog entries on the crime and health challenges that tourists visiting Cuba face the facts that some would prefer you not learn came fast and furious. This was followed in February by two blog entries on Venezuela about the nonviolent uprising against the policies of the Maduro regime.

In March the Castro regime was exposed as having smuggled heavy weapons to North Korea in a United Nations. On the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square members of the Florida International University gathered to pay their respects. This was followed by a report on the arbitrary detention, beatings and torture of Cuban opposition leader Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez." 

As the debate over economic sanctions on Cuba heated up this blog engaged in an analysis of the machinations of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to leave U.S. taxpayers holding the bag in a future opening to the Castro regime.  The next two blogs focused on crimes against Cubans committed in 1994 and 2012 that have still not been properly investigated: the 13 de Marzo"tugboat sinking and the killings of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and Harold Cepero Escalante.

Political show trials continued in Cuba in 2014 with the show trial of Angel Yunier Remón Arzuaga sentenced to six years in prison for his critical music. The disappearance of 43 Mexican students, apparently murdered with the collusion of local government officials, hit home as it occurred in the same year as the 20 anniversary of the above mentioned tugboat massacre that killed 37 Cubans.

Two blog entries dealt first with the joint announcement of President Obama and dictator Raul Castro on the freeing of Gerardo Hernandez, serving a life sentence for the murder of four members of Brothers to the Rescue, and the normalization of relations and the second with the President's attempt to rewrite the terrorist conspiracy into a "tragic circumstance."

The final entry was announcing a free speech happening in Havana and a second in solidarity with the one in Cuba held in Miami. 

 1. Tourists and travel to Cuba: What the travel agencies don't tell you about crime 

Unlike in many other places in the world where one has to worry about criminals on the street; in the case of Cuba one has to worry about a criminal government that has no respect for human life.  This is what the promoters of tourist travel to Cuba won't tell you about crime on the island. Learn about three tourists murdered in Cuba and one who went missing in 1999. 

2. Tourists and travel to Cuba: What the travel agencies don't tell you about health and hygiene 

 In July 2013 an Italian tourist returned from Cuba with severe renal failure due to Cholera. New York high school teacher Alfredo Gómez contracted cholera during a family visit to Havana during the summer of 2013 and was billed $4,700 from the government hospital. A total of 12 tourists have been identified who have contracted cholera in Cuba.  

3. #SOSVenezuela: Non-violent National Student Movement versus Maduro, the Castros and their security apparatus 

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 have mobilized in a coherent and sustained effort to expose the anti-democratic nature of the government.

4. Leopoldo López Mendoza and Venezuela's defining nonviolent moment

Before turning himself over on February 18, 2014 to the Maduro regime for encouraging nonviolent protests Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López Mendoza addressed a gathering of tens of thousands in Caracas: 
"Well brothers and sisters I ask you to continue in this fight and do not leave the street, to assume our right to protest, but to do it in peace and without violence, I ask that us, all of us that are here, all of the Venezuelans that want a change, to get informed, educated, organized, and to execute non-violent protests, the protests of masses, and the will of souls and hearts that want to change, but without hurting your neighbor. "

 5. Castro regime's North Korea troubles 

Castro regime's outlaw credentials were reaffirmed in March 2014 in a damning report from the United Nations widely disseminated, on its role in illegal arms smuggling to its ideological soul mate: North Korea. According to the report in a side note "some of the ... parts could also meet the criteria defined in the list of ... technology related to ballistic missile programmes." Also reported the refusal of the Castro regime to cooperate with the investigation.

6. Tiananmen Square Crackdown & June 4, 1989 Beijing Massacre: It was 25 years ago today 
In memory of those who stood up for their rights, lost their lives and for those still unjustly imprisoned today in China.

In Miami at Florida International University members of the university community gathered for a prayer and candlelight vigil taking part in a call to action by Initiatives for China and read their recommended prayer. Below is an excerpt:

Let us give thanks for the courage of the young people of Tiananmen Square who 25 years ago showed the world that the Chinese people desire freedom and justice above all earthly goods, and who were willing to give their lives in their brave witness. May all be strengthened by their bravery. May all be blessed by their memory.

7. A Call for Help: Cuban dissident Antúnez's week of beatings, torture and arbitrary imprisonment 

In Cuba under the Castro brothers having a difference of opinion with the government can be a matter of life and death. Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" led the list of over 800 members of the opposition warning against foreign investment that would serve to strengthen the totalitarian dictatorship on the island.The document was initially made public on June 6, 2014. Five days later at 6:00am there was no knock on the door of Antúnez's home but instead it was kicked down by state security. Sadly, it was not the first time that this has happened and as before the objective was political repression on the part of the dictatorship operating with impunity in Cuba.

8. What Chamber of Commerce won't tell taxpayers about cost of normalization of Cuba trade 

Passions run high in the sanctions debate on Cuba, and everyone is entitled to their opinion but not their own set of facts. Below you will find sourced information regarding the U.S. Trade Embargo on Cuba with the objective of contributing to the ongoing debate and discussion. When one is reviewing any policy between those who advocate maintaining the status quo and those advocating scrapping it there is a third position that needs to be considered: "Does it serve the just interests of the United States?" 

9. Month of Remembrance for Harold and Oswaldo

Today marks one month from the two year mark of the day that the lives of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and Harold Cepero Escalante were brought to an end. The Christian Liberation Movement over Facebook announced that today June 22, 2014 ( a month before the 2 years of the deaths that have not been cleared up of Harold Cepero and Oswaldo Payá) begins the MONTH OF REMEMBRANCE FOR HAROLD AND OSWALDO. Each day they will recall a piece of information in order  to continue insisting that their deaths be investigated. We will be reproducing them below. 

10. Twenty years later still no justice for 37 "13 de Marzo" tugboat victims: A Call to Remember and Take Action
“But men often mistake killing and revenge for justice. They seldom have the stomach for justice.” - Robert Jordan 

The attack on and sinking of the"13 de Marzo" tugboat in the early morning hours of July 13, 1994 is probably one of the worse crimes committed by the Cuban government under the rule of the Castro brothers and it is definitely the best documented and widely recognized by international human rights bodies and is referenced in books on international law.

11. Cuban rapper sentenced to six years in prison for his critical songs
"Art is inherently political. It is always political. It has always been political.It has political aspects. And that which we term political art only enhances that political aspect of art. It is taking up political themes and makes these themes its own." - Petr Motyčka, Art, Society, and Politics: Artists or Activists?, Forum 2000 

Cuban dissident and rapper Angel Yunier Remón Arzuaga, whose stage name is "el Critico del Arte" (the 'Art Critic'), on October 15, 2014 was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment in a judicial process that fell far short of international standards. Angel was tear gassed and arrested on March 21, 2013, for criticizing the Castro regime and jailed since that time in conditions that can only be described as inhumane.  El Critico, is a member of the rap duo: Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso (The Children that no one wanted). Other members of the group were targeted by regime agents.

12. Why the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico hits close to home for Cubans
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. - Martin Luther King Jr. 

For Cubans this massacre twenty years after the July 13, 1994 “13 de Marzo” tugboat massacre when 37 Cubans were massacred by government officials is particularly shocking and strikes close to home as does the indifference manifested online by Nestle that made a joke out of the murder of these students to promote their Crunch candy bar. Twenty years later in July of 2014 in New York City, Washington DC, Miami and in Cuba demonstrations in the memory of the 37 massacred Cubans were held. All these years later and the victims are not forgotten. This will also be the case for these 43 students. This is a crime that will not be forgotten but remembered for years to come.

13. Obama's Legacy: Normalizing relations with an Abnormal Regime 

Listening to President Obama today after learning the good news that, after more than five years unjustly held hostage, Alan Gross was finally free, and that some Cuban political prisoners were to be freed was nevertheless a sobering and worrisome exercise for a number of reasons.
First the news that three spies who had spied on military installations and congressmen on American soil, that had plotted terrorist acts in the United States, and were implicated in the February 24, 1996 murder of three American citizens and one American resident were freed in a swap to return to Cuba sends a terrible message. Regime hardliners have won, thanks to the Obama Administration's actions today.

14. President Obama the February 24, 1996 shoot down was a premeditated act of state terrorism
President Barack Obama sought on December 19, 2014 to rewrite the history of the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down in a Orwellian fashion stating during a year end press conference

Mr. President the events surrounding the February 24, 1996 shoot down began weeks in advance with the dictatorship planning the shoot down and using his spy network to obtain information to advance the conspiracy. It is true that the shoot down was not meant to undermine overtures by the Clinton administration and although it paused the process by the end of 2000 President Clinton had shaken Fidel Castro's hand and a few months later opened cash and carry trade with the dictatorship. However it was not a "tragic circumstance" but a conspiracy to destroy Brothers to the Rescue while at the same time taking attention away from a crack down on a national gathering of the democratic opposition.

15. Performance art as a test for free speech in Cuba
I also demand... 

Tania Bruguera, is an internationally recognized installation and performance artist. She is also the daughter of Miguel Bruguera, "a Cuban Political Advisor to the Cuban Embassy in Paris and ambassador to Lebanon and Panama." She is a daughter of the nomenklatura. This may provide some protection for a dissenting voice. Five years ago in April of 2009 she organized a performance art piece that sparked a debate over free speech in Cuba outside of the island and she is at it again. This time she is moving her performance art piece to the Plaza of the Revolution and has scheduled it for December 30, 2014 at 3:00pm.

Meanwhile in Miami to draw further attention to this performance art piece being held in Havana a second one is planned to be held outside the Freedom Tower in Downtown Miami.An open microphone where in the same spirit described above individuals can come and speak their minds for one minute.  It is being organized by Rosa María Payá Acevedo who has adopted the hashtag #YoTambienExijo (#ITooDemand) and added a second hash tag #PLEBISCITOCUBA (#PlebisciteCuba) 

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