Monday, August 31, 2015

Yosvani Melchor Rodriguez on conditonal release after 1991 days of arbitrary detention

"Finally with his family after 5 years of unjust imprisonment Yosvani Melchor on probation. Enough blackmail end the impunity."  - Rosa María Payá

Yosvani Melchor Rodriguez, unjustly detained

 Five years, five months and 12 days after he was arbitrarily detained Yosvani Melchor Rodriguez was freed on probation on August 30, 2015. He should not have spent one day in jail and has suffered in order to make his mother suffer for not agreeing to become an informant for the Castro regime's state security services against the Christian Liberation Movement. 

Last month on June 24, 2015 Rosa María Rodríguez Gil addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and called for the release of her son, Yosvani Melchor Rodriguez, unjustly imprisoned since March 19, 2010. In her statement she outlined the circumstances that led to his arbitrary detention:
My name is Rosa Maria Rodriguez Gil, I am a member of the Coordinating Council of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) and I live in Havana, Cuba. For my activism and commitment to the MCL ... because I refused to collaborate with the Cuban political police, my son Yosvani Melchor Rodriguez, a young man with psychological problems, was arbitrarily arrested, subjected to a show trial, where the prosecution was unable to demonstrate evidence of an alleged crime of trafficking in persons that he did not commit, they sanctioned him to 12 years in prison and he has spent 5 years in the prisons of Cuba. My son is being punished as a vendetta for my participation in the civic and constitutional campaign for a referendum where the people can freely decide whether if they want democracy. Not content to kidnap my son, the Cuban authorities denied Yosvani even the right to parole, that all inmate has on the island once they have passed the half way point of the sanction imposed, in this case unjustly. 
Oswaldo Payá died in a suspicious car accident on July 22, 2012 along with another member of his movement, Harold Cepero, but months earlier in an interview with the Associated Press he addressed this case:

"There are political prisoners in Cuba; the son of a member of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) was sentenced to 12 years in jail for the sole reason of being the son of a MCL member. His name is Yosvany Melchor Rodriguez and he was artificially condemned in Santiago de Cuba on November 30, 2010, after his mother was threatened by state security forces for not wanting to cooperate against us."
 It is important to celebrate Yosvani's freedom and continue to demand that his freedom not be conditional. Furthermore, it is important to remember the circumstances under which this young man was denied his liberty in order to terrorize his mother into spying on a nonviolent dissident organization. 

Yosvani Melchor Rodriguez together with his mom

Sunday, August 30, 2015

August 30, 2015: International Day to remember victims of Enforced Disappearances

Remembering those who have gone missing

 Today marks the fourth observance of the International Day of Enforced Disappearances by the United Nations and presents an opportunity to highlight some cases from years gone by that are not as well known as the case of the 43 Mexican students from Ayotzinapa for example.

Cuba: Claudia von Weiss de Venegas
On November 20, 1999 Claudia von Weiss de Venegas, disappeared while on holiday in Cuba. She left the hotel on a bicycle with $500 and was never heard from again. Her husband, Miguel de Venegas, circulated fliers about his missing wife in Cuba and for his troubles was expelled from the country. Ten years later in a Hamburg news publication, Claudia's case resurfaced and her fate remains unknown but Miguel hopes one day to find out what had happened to his wife, but he has given up on finding her alive. 
Cuba: Omar Darío Pérez Hernández
Omar Darío Pérez Hernández is an independent journalist who went missing in Cuba more than ten years ago and who had received threats from state security. His family following his disappearance in December 2003 was intimidated into silence. Omar can be seen briefly in a video conducting an interview with students expelled from university for signing the Varela Project in 2002. 

Human rights defender and lawyer Razan Zaitouneh, head of the Violations Documentation Centre in Syria (VDC), winner of the 2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and the 2011 Anna Politkovskaya Award of RAW in WAR (Reach All Women In War), along with her colleagues Samira Khalil, Nazem Hamadi and Wa’el Hamada on December 9, 2013, were taken during a raid by armed men on the offices of the VDC in Duma, near Damascus. They remain missing.

In China there have been high profile disappearances, including a Catholic bishop,  but the ongoing campaign of disappearing independent lawyers for more than 40 days among them WangYu, LiHeping, SuiMuqing, and XieYang raises great concerns.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cuban artist initiates hunger strike after 8 months jailed without a trial


"El Sexto" jailed for 8 months without trial and now on hunger strike

Cuban performance artist, Danilo Maldonado "El Sexto", has been arbitrarily detained since December 25, 2014 for attempting to carry out a performance art piece.  Two weeks ago he had been told that he would be released on August 24, 2015. The day came and went and on the eighth month of his detention without trial "El Sexto" initiated a hunger strike at Valle Grande prison in Havana.

He is not the only young artist imprisoned in Cuba. Others have been jailed for what can only be called an Orwellian thought crime.

The rapper Maikel Oksobo "El Dkano" was sentenced on January 28, 2015 to a year in prison for "pre-criminal social dangerousness" and is currently serving out this unjust sentence.

The human rights situation in Cuba continues to deteriorate and there is a correlation with the new Cuba policy that through its actions send a clear message to the dictatorship that trade not human rights is the new priority. 674 detentions were documented in the month of July 2015 alone. On August 21, 2015 two young activists, Jordys Manuel Dosil Fong (age 30) and Reinier Rodriguez Mendoza (age37) were subjected to a political show trial in Cuba and sentenced to prison for "pre-criminal social dangerousness." Jordys Manuel was sentenced to three years in prison and Renier was sentenced to two years in prison.

Other artists and musicians organized a concert last week demanding freedom for "El Sexto" with friends and family of the imprisoned artist. Below is a video clip.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What the New York Times omitted from its latest article on Cuba

Addressing distortions, inaccuracies and omissions in The New York Times reporting on Cuba
Day after meeting Secretary Kerry, Dr. Biscet questioned legality of new relations

The New York Times has a terrible track record in reporting on left wing totalitarian regimes in general and Cuba in particular. The latest example was to be found in the opinion piece on August 24, 2015 by pro-Castro New York Times journalist Ernesto Londoño.

Londoño quotes some of the dissidents who met with Secretary Kerry at an informal cocktail following the official event to which they were not invited.  He fails to mention the presence of Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet, who is a former prisoner of conscience who has been the subject of an hour long documentary "Oscar's Cuba" and 2007 Medal of Freedom Recipient. U2's Bono also gave a shout out to Dr. Biscet during their 2011 tour. This is a high profile and internationally recognized pro-democracy activist but he supports U.S. sanctions on the Castro regime and over twitter the day after meeting Secretary Kerry called the normalization of relations a violation of law:
Diplomatic links between USA and Cuba violates Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 (Helms-Burton): Title II, Section 201(13-14); 202; 203; 204; ; 205 and 206.
Is this not newsworthy? Or the fact that on August 24, 2015 state security (G2) detained Oscar Elías Biscet and released him 20 km from his home in order to prevent him giving the presentation: Why is it that U.S. - Cuba relations violate the Libertad Act?

Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet
Even among those The New York Times reporter chooses to quote he fails to provide context. For example, he quotes Yoani Sanchez and 14 y Medio but fails to mention how she took him to task on December 6, 2014 for his editorials in The New York Times describing them as "really pitiful."  Miriam Celaya, raised a question in the same article that many Cubans who read his editorials asked themselves:
What is going on with these editorials? They are still giving prominence to a distorted, biased view, composed of half-truths and lies about what the Cuban reality is. They are still giving prominence to what a government says, and Cuba is not a government. Cuba's government today is a small group of old men, and when I say "old" it's because of their way of thinking, of individuals who have remained anchored in discourse rooted in a cold war and belligerence. The Cuban people are not represented in that government.
Both Yoani Sanchez and Miriam Celaya are Cuban dissidents who are advocates of lifting sanctions but even they have publicly questioned the work of Mr. Londoño because it does not reflect the reality in Cuba.

Finally, in the Cuban diaspora there are five Cuban American congressman and three Cuban American U.S. Senators currently in office and all of them support maintaining the embargo on Cuba and have been sharply critical of the Obama administration's Cuba policy.  

Why such sharp criticism? Because the policy has marginalized the democratic opposition while raising up narrow economic interests at the expense of the freedom of the Cuban people; it has led to a worsening human rights situation in Cuba; and the extrajudicial killings of prominent opposition leaders who were viewed as a threat by the regime because they could oversee a democratic transition. On the international front the Obama administration's policies will further endanger democracy in Latin America and U.S. national security

Inside of Cuba, a large number of opposition leaders support maintaining sanctions on the dictatorship. Unlike the anti-embargo lobby fair minded democrats recognize that there is a legitimate difference of opinion on this topic, but not on the underlying nature of the dictatorship and the need for real change. This is something that Mr. Londoño has not reflected in his reporting.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Countering Russian Propaganda on the 76th anniversary of Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

 Why we must remember.

Nazi and Soviet soldiers greet one another in Poland (1939)

Sputnik News is trying to spin the story of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact by re-focusing on its public portions which were ostensibly a non-aggression pact but leaving out the secret additional protocol which outlined how the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany would divide up the countries of Central and Eastern Europe between them. The invasion of Poland in September of 1939 led to the partition of the country into Nazi and Soviet spheres with the troops from both sides meeting up in the middle to fraternize as allies.
Secret Additional Protocol. (August 23, 1939 Non-aggression pact)

Article I.
 In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement in the areas belonging to the Baltic States (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), the northern boundary of Lithuania shall represent the boundary of the spheres of influence of Germany and U.S.S.R. In this connection the interest of Lithuania in the Vilna area is recognized by each party.

Article II.
In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement of the areas belonging to the Polish state, the spheres of influence of Germany and the U.S.S.R. shall be bounded approximately by the line of the rivers Narev, Vistula and San. The question of whether the interests of both parties make desirable the maintenance of an independent Polish States and how such a state should be bounded can only be definitely determined in the course of further political developments. In any event both Governments will resolve this question by means of a friendly agreement.

Article III.
With regard to Southeastern Europe attention is called by the Soviet side to its interest in Bessarabia. The German side declares its complete political disinterestedness in these areas.
It is important to recall that between 1933 and 1939 American tourists who went to see the "real" Nazi Germany came back with stories of how wonderful the Third Reich was and the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin further legitimized the regime. 

The famous American aviator, Charles Lindbergh, visited Germany five times between 1936 and 1939. Lindbergh was taken on tours of airfields and factories, lavishly entertained by Air Marshal Hermann Göring, and awarded one of the Third Reich’s highest civilian honors. Lindbergh wrote to the banker Harry Davison, “With all the things we criticize, he [Hitler] is undoubtedly a great man, and I believe has done much for the German people."

Seventy six years later one finds that totalitarian propaganda is still effective in misrepresenting itself and the threat to others. The fact that Sputnik News is still peddling the Soviet propaganda cover story used back in the late 1930s is evidence of this and a reminder of the wisdom of George Santayana who observed:
"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." 
Therefore, August 23rd is designated a day of remembrance for victims of totalitarianism. 76 years ago Nazis and Communists came together on August 23, 1939 and signed a pact to divide Poland and plunged Europe into the Second World War. 


Friday, August 21, 2015

To Secretary Kerry, Venezuela is already a failed state thanks in part to the Castro regime in Cuba

American diplomat meets with head of  national assembly who allegedly moonlights as a drug dealer.

State Department's Thomas Shannon (far left) & Diosdado Cabello (far right)
Secretary of State John Kerry in an interview with journalist Andres Oppenheimer made it known that "the United States and Cuba are talking about ways to solve the Venezuelan crisis." Despite the decision of Venezuela's leadership to adopt the Cuban model contributing to the failure of Venezuela the United States is reaching out to the Castro regime in the belief that it can make a positive contribution. According to Secretary Kerry if the current Maduro regime fails Venezuela will become a refuge for terrorists and drug traffickers

This approach ignores some inconvenient facts.

First the Castro regime has been involved in drug trafficking for decades in the service of its ideological mission to undermine the United States with drugs and use the profits to fund guerrilla and terrorist movements. Raul Castro faced a federal indictment for drug trafficking in the 1990s but the Clinton administration quashed it. Despite ample evidence of continued bad acts the Obama administration took Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Second Venezuela under both Chavez and Maduro has become a refuge for terrorists and drug traffickers with the aid of Cuban state security agents. A high profile example is Diosdado Cabello, the head of Venezuela's National Assembly and suspected by U.S. prosecutors of being in charge of the infamous drug-trafficking organization, "Cartel de los Soles". In spite of this Thomas Shannon, counselor to Secretary of State John Kerry met with Diosdado Cabello.

Taking the above into consideration leads to an unpleasant conclusion. Secretary John Kerry asking the Castro regime in Cuba to help in Venezuela today is like asking Jack the Ripper to help stop knife violence in London in 1888.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Why the Cuban Adjustment Act needs to be fully restored

 A closer look at the wet foot, dry foot policy
Cuban Patrol Boat near Guantanamo Naval Base
On December 16, 2014, the eve of the announcement of a new relationship between the United States and the Castro regime, Cuban Patrol Boat sank a boatload of 32 Cuban refugees and one of them Diosbel Díaz Bioto went missing and is assumed drowned the others were detained. 
Diosbel Díaz Bioto: Died December 16, 2014
Four months later Yuriniesky Martínez Reina was shot in the back and killed by state security chief Miguel Angel Río Seco Rodríguez in the Martí municipality of Matanzas, Cuba on April 9, 2015 for peacefully trying to leave Cuba. A group of young men were building a boat near Menéndez beach to flee the island, when they were spotted trying to leave and were shot at by state security.  If they had made it to dry land they would be free, but if caught at sea the U.S. coastguard then would have returned them to the Castro dictatorship. This is a violation of the spirit of the Cuban Adjustment Act, a 1966 law that granted refugee status to those fleeing Cuba from 1966 until 1994.
Yuriniesky Martínez Reina  killed April 9, 2015
At the same time many Cuban athletes continue to defect to the United States. This is something Mexican, Jamaican, or Dominican athletes do not have to do because they are free to enter and exit their own countries. Additionally their governments do not limit their right to live and work abroad. In the case of Mexico some Americans are upset because the Mexican government provides aid and assistance to Mexican migrants in the United States.  Cuba is the only country in this hemisphere, although Venezuela is trending in the same direction, in which the regime does not recognize the rights of Cuban nationals to enter and exit their own country. Cuba is different from the rest of the countries in the hemisphere.

Meanwhile there is also an additional security concern. Author and journalist Fabiola Santiago brought up the concerns of exiled opposition activist Yoan David Gonzalez in her August 12, 2015 column "Pro-Castro there, but now here?" on Cuban repressor Jenny Freire Rosabal who engaged in acts of repudiation in Cuba and rallied for Chavez in Venezuela who is now living here in Miami with her husband who is slandering democratic opposition activists from the island.

Unfortunately, these are not new problems but the result of the Clinton administration's immigration accord with the Castro regime in 1995 that violated the spirit of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act deporting Cuban refugees back to the Castro regime. Carl McGill, Professor of Criminal Justice at University of Phoenix in 2000 compared "Clinton's policy to return 'rafters' to Cuba" was "like returning a slave in pre-Civil War America back to his enslaver. This would have condoned civil rights violations and slavery, as returning a 'rafter' to Cuba condones human rights violations and communism." The Dred Scott Decision is a historical abomination as is President Clinton's wet foot, dry foot policy that circumvented the intent of the Cuban Adjustment Act.

The General Accounting Office (GAO) reported that
"for over 30 years, fleeing Cubans had been welcomed to the United States; however, the U.S. government reversed this policy on August 19, 1994, when President Clinton announced that Cuban rafters interdicted at sea would no longer be brought to the United States." Wet foot, dry foot" was a massive set back for Cuban refugees.
At the same time the 1995 agreement called on the Castro regime to register Cubans for a lottery and up to 20,000 "immigrants" would be eligible to enter the United States annually. This is what has led to the South Florida being filled with regime repressors and who knows how many spies. Rosabel is not the first to be called out. 

In November 2012 The Miami Herald reported on former Cuban provincial prisons chief Crescencio Marino Rivero who abused prisoners and ordered guards to abuse others before he moved to Miami. 

Cresencio Marino Rivero, Cuban prison chief found in Miami
This is in spite of the August 4, 2011 Obama Administration ban on visas for people who the State Department finds have been involved in human rights violations. Cuban human rights violators continue to get a free pass to enter the United States and when identified by their victims, nothing happens. 

The 1995 Clinton - Castro Immigration Accord needs to be repealed and the lottery controlled by the dictatorship ended and the Cuban Adjustment Act restored to its original intent. Otherwise the legacy of the Obama years will not be tearing down the Cuban version of the Berlin Wall which are the Florida Straits but by ending the Cuban Adjustment act closing off the path to freedom for those fleeing the dictatorship and assisting the brutal agents of the Castro regime in the murder of refugees and enslavement of Cubans.

Normalizing relations with the Castro regime: Green light for more repression in Cuba?

"200 nonviolent opposition activists arrested today in Cuba only 48 hours after US Embassy was inaugurated in Havana." -  Yusnaby Pérez, August 16, 2015 over twitter

48 hours after Secretary Kerry delivered his remarks 200 Cubans arrested
 Forty eight hours after the flag was raised at the US Embassy in Havana on Sunday, August 17, 2015 two hundred activists were violently arrested in Cuba. Friday's message to the Castro regime was received loud and clear: lobbyists and business interests have the priority in this new relationship and human rights defenders aren't even welcome when it can negatively effect relations with the dictatorship. Unfortunately, this is the continuation of a policy that began in 2009 and has already claimed too many lives. Video below of some of the detentions this past Sunday.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

U.S. Cuba Policy: Pay attention to what they do not what they say

Secretary Kerry gives the Castro regime a pass on human rights violations

Secretary of State John Kerry said that human rights was at the top of the Cuba agenda, and that they would not give Cuba a pass on human rights but proceeded to not invite Cuban human rights defenders to the flag raising ceremony at the Embassy. The State Department argued that it was a government to government affair and that there was not enough space to accommodate the dissidents. In an interview with Andres Oppenheimer, the Secretary of State offered an expanded explanation:
“Rather than have people sitting in a chair, at a ceremony that is fundamentally government to government, with very limited space, I will meet with them...and exchange views.”
However, the State Department did accommodate "entrepreneurs and Cuban American activists" to fly down with Kerry and his official delegation with a planeload of them. The "activists" support the Obama administration's Cuba policy and are advocates of lifting sanctions on the dictatorship and some like former Congressman Joe Garcia had received financial contributions from supporters of the Castro regime in his previous campaigns that became a source of controversy and contributed to the one term congressman not being re-elected.

Furthermore, Secretary Kerry did not object to celebrating the embassy opening with Cuban spies who had been expelled from the United States under previous Administrations due to their espionage activities against the United States of America.  

Despite the plane load of lobbyists and businessmen and the Cuban spies CNN anchor Jake Tapper in a tweet observed that there was plenty of space to have invited Cuban dissidents. This indicates that it was not space considerations but bending over backwards to accommodate the Castro dictatorship that led to the decision not to invite human rights defenders. This combined with the shabby treatment of Rosa María Payá last month by State Department spokesman John Kirby and the message is clear and journalist Andres Oppenheimer laid it out:
Kerry’s trip to Havana didn’t break new ground on human rights even symbolically, and in effect hurt Cuba’s fledgling internal opposition by making it look irrelevant in the eyes of many Cubans.  Could it be that Obama is so eager to visit Cuba before he finishes his term — to go down in history as the U.S. president who “opened” Cuba, much as Nixon “opened” China — that he is willing to sacrifice the human rights cause? Could it be that he is so eager for a foreign policy victory that he is willing to abandon a long-standing U.S. policy of moral support to pro-democracy activists? 
 The Obama administration's Cuba policy did not begin on December 17, 2014  but first enunciated in his 2009 inaugural address when the President spoke of extending a hand to old adversaries. This went beyond rhetoric in 2009 and again in 2011 with the loosening of sanctions against the Castro regime. During the past six years of the Obama administration the Castro regime has seized the opportunity to do away with opposition leaders that could have been alternatives of national leadership to the current regime while projecting itself further into Latin America.  The dictatorship understands, as did the Chinese before, that while the United States will pay lip service to human rights concerns when it comes to concrete actions this administration holds economic engagement with the dictatorship as a higher priority then human rights.

If you doubt this then just asked yourself then why there was room to fly down a plane load of business men and lobbyists for doing business with the dictatorship but no room for human rights defenders at the flag raising ceremony?  The answer is brutally simple. Business and engagement with the dictatorship in Cuba is the priority not human rights or the freedom of the Cuban people.

The lesson is clear when dealing with the Obama administration: Pay attention to what they do and not what they say.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The body count during the normalization of relations in Cuba

“Our Movement denounces the regime's attempt to impose a fraudulent change, i.e. change without rights and the inclusion of many interests in this change that sidesteps democracy and the sovereignty of the people of Cuba.” - Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, March 30, 2012
The United States Embassy in Havana
 Cuba is much more than the dictatorship that has oppressed Cubans for 56 years, but in its official dialogue the Obama State Department by excluding Cuban democrats from the official opening of the embassy today confuses the two. Worse yet, the snub to Cuban democrats arises out of a fear that the dictatorship's apparatchiks would not attend. Combine this with Admiral John Kirby, the State Department spokesman  threatening to physically remove Rosa Maria Paya, who had proper accreditation as a member of the press from the State Department press conference with Secretary Kerry and the Castro regime's foreign minister on July 20, 2015 makes the message crystal clear.

Add to this that functionaries at the so-called Cuban embassy closed the entrance so as not to allow a Cuban citizen, Rosa María Payá, to enter and refused to receive her letter requesting the autopsy report for her father, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, who was killed on July 22, 2012 the nature of this new relationship is clear. The United States is normalizing relations with the Castro dictatorship NOT Cuba.

Sadly, the road leading to this lamentable embrace by the Obama administration of the Castro regime has come at a cost that continues to rise. History will judge this new policy that only postpones national reconciliation and a democratic transition in Cuba poorly while undermining human rights in the Americas.  There is a principled policy of engagement that could be undertaken but this is not it. Cubans in the island and in the diaspora must now redouble their efforts to push for democratic change using nonviolent means. Below is a partial accounting of the Castro regime's body count of high profile human rights defenders killed so far under the Obama administration within a worsening human rights situation in Cuba.

February 23, 2010

January 31, 2011

No photo available

 May 8, 2011

October 14, 2011

January 19, 2012 

April 19, 2012 

No photo available

July 22, 2012

July 22, 2012

Partial accounting of the Castro regime's body count of Cubans killed by regime agents during the Obama administration:

July 15, 2011

No photo available

December 16, 2015

April 9, 2015

Partial accounting of the Castro regime's body count of Venezuelans killed on the orders of their intelligence apparatus in Venezuela during the Obama administration as the country has become a virtual colony of the Cuban dictatorship:

Bassil Alejandro Dacosta
February 12, 2014

February 12, 2014

February 19, 2014

February 22, 2014

February 24, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Five reasons normalization of relations with Cuba is another Obama foreign policy failure

Post borrows from a blogpost from the Free Cuba Foundation posted yesterday and adds on to it.

Despite what the Obama Administration and mainstream media would have you believe the United States and the Castro regime have had extensive diplomatic contacts since 1977, military contacts since 1994, and trade since 2000. This is why when Obama pledged on December 17, 2014 the objective of normalizing diplomatic relations the Castro regime was able to raise numerous demands that the United States has complied with that undermine U.S. security and credibility. Below are five reasons why the normalization of relations with the Castro regime is unfolding into another Obama foreign policy failure: 
1. Releasing Castro spies on December 17, 2014 serving life prison sentences, including one of them imprisoned for conspiracy to murder three U.S. citizens and one resident. 
2. Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary removing the Castro regime from the list of state sponsors of terrorism on May 29, 2015.  
3. On July 27, 2015 watered down the State Department's human trafficking report for political aims including ignoring the severity of sex trafficking in Cuba and the use of slave labor.
4. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a press conference with the Foreign Minister of the Castro regime on July 20, 2015 and had the daughter of a martyred dissident threatened and silenced. The State Department's spokesperson Admiral John Kirby took Rosa María Payá, an accredited member of the press, aside and told her if she asked a question that she would be physically removed.Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, her dad, was assassinated by the Castro regime on July 22, 2012.

5. As President Obama and the State Department normalize relations with the Castro regime violence and repression against dissidents and refugees has risen in Cuba
Secretary of State John Kerry will be in Havana, Cuba to raise the flag at the US Embassy on Friday, August 14, 2015 and that would be the perfect day to remind the world the price paid in compromising not only the national security of the United States (freeing terrorist spies and letting ones guard down as to the terrorist threat posed by the dictatorship) but also undermining the credibility of the State Department's report on human trafficking and respect for human rights. Above are images that you can click on and share with others on social media or print them out to use in public protests to hold the administration accountable for another foreign policy failure while recognizing that there is a nonviolent alternative.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Campaign Nonviolence National Conference and Los Alamos Vigils

"I regard the employment of the atom bomb for the wholesale destruction of men, women and children as the most diabolical use of science." - Mohandas Gandhi

The 70th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are being observed at Los Alamos, where the bombs were built, with vigils and a "Campaign Nonviolence National Conference" organized by Pace e Bene. Most of it is being live streamed and is worth watching. The schedule of events and livestream broadcast is available online. Mohandas Gandhi who achieved national independence in India using nonviolence also spoke out on the significance of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan:
"So far as I can see the atomic bomb has deadened the finest feeling that has sustained mankind for ages. There used to be the so-called laws of war which made it tolerable. Now we know the naked truth. War knows no law except that of might. The atom bomb brought an empty victory to the allied arms but it resulted for the time being in destroying the soul of Japan. What has happened to the soul of the destroying nation is yet too early to see. Forces of nature act in a mysterious manner. We can but solve the mystery by deducing the unknown result from the known results of similar events. A slave-holder cannot hold a slave without putting himself or his deputy in the cage holding the slave. Let no one run away with the idea that I wish to put in a defence of Japanese misdeeds in pursuance of Japan's unworthy ambition. The difference was only of one degree. I assume that Japan's greed was more unworthy. But the greater unworthiness conferred no right on the less unworthy of destroying without mercy men, women and children of Japan in a particular area."
Below is the keynote address by Reverend Jim Lawson at the Campaign Nonviolence National Convention at Los Alamos on August 7, 2015:

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hiroshima and the horrors of progressivism: The ends do not justify the means

"The use of the atomic bomb, with its indiscriminate killing of women and children, revolts my soul." - Herbert Hoover, former President of the United States, August 8, 1945
Seventy years ago today the logical and sterile end of progressivism was visited on the people of Japan when the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Three days later Bockscar dropped a second one on Nagasaki. Despite American military leaders urging President Truman not to drop the atomic bomb the commander in chief had chosen otherwise. Conservatives at the time of the bombings and through the 1950s and 1960s denounced the bombings as "crimes against humanity" for "the utterly unnecessary killing of uncounted Japanese." David Lawrence of U.S. News and World Report argued it was "not too late to confess our guilt and to ask God and all the world to forgive our error." William F. Buckley Jr. asked 'was it really necessary?' in a March 29, 1958 editorial and an article appeared in National Review harshly critical of Truman's decision. Russell Kirk, probably the greatest conservative thinker of the 20th century outlined the folly of progressivism.
"This doctrine of progress is a most interesting instance of the blind and foolish confidence of Americans in the God Progress. None of them—not Joseph Smith, not William James, not John Dewey—know what this progress is toward, not even what direction it is to take. Thus far, apparently, it has been progress toward annihilation, an end to be accomplished, perhaps, by the improved atomic bomb? We have dealt more death and destruction in the space of ten years than the men of the Middle Ages, with their Devil, were able to accomplish in a thousand."
Ronald Reagan, unlike his more moderate predecessors, rejected the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) and coexistence with the Soviet Union.  On August 6, 1985 President Reagan on the 40th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima made the following observation and call to action:
We must never forget what nuclear weapons wrought upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki, yet we must also remain mindful that our maintenance of a strong nuclear deterrent has for four decades ensured the security of the United States and the freedom of our allies in Asia and Europe. In Europe, these years represent the longest period of peace since the early 19th century. Peace has not made us complacent, for we are continually seeking ways to reduce still further the risks of war. As I have often stated, "A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought." This anniversary is, therefore, a time not only for reflection but for action. 


I would also urge the leadership of the Soviet Union to work with us to achieve deep, verifiable, and equitable reductions in nuclear arsenals; to resolve questions relating to compliance with existing arms control agreements; and to establish a constructive dialog on ways to reduce the risk of accidental war. 
Times change and the rising tide of militarism in American society of the past 70 years has contaminated the political culture. The massacring of innocents in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a great moral evil that Americans must recognize, repent and beg forgiveness. This does not ignore the war crimes of Imperial Japan but recognizes that there is a difference between combatants and non-combatants. Catholic Catechism number 2314 states forthrightly that:
“Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.”
Beginning today nonviolent activists will gather at Los Alamos to observe this anniversary of a war crime over live stream at the exact spot where the bomb that fell on Hiroshima was built. American patriots need to recognize this in order to save the United States and the West generally. Conservatives are justifiably horrified by the radical changes in American society over the past half century. Arch Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in the essay“What Now America?” reflected on the impact of the atomic bombs:
“When, I wonder, did we in America ever get into this idea that freedom means having no boundaries and no limits? I think it began on the 6th of August 1945 at 8:15 am when we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. … Somehow or other, from that day on in our American life, we say we want no limits and no boundaries.”
 Time for conservatives to reflect further on the two atomic bombs dropped over two civilian centers and the principle that the ends do not justify the means. The world has never been the same since those horrible days in August of 1945.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Free Gorki: Cuban rocker taken from his home in Havana at noon today by the police

Spread the word. Help free an artist!

On the 21st anniversary of the August 5th freedom uprising in Havana, Cuba punk rocker Gorki Aguila is taken from his home by the police at 12 noon. He is also the author of a song dedicated to the uprising titled El Maleconazo.

Please spread the word on this courageous artist and activist. It is the best way to keep him safe and to obtain his freedom.

Update: The good news is that Gorki was freed around 4:00pm and that international press picked up the story of his detention the same day. The bad news is that he has been threatened by Cuban officials that if he continues to support the Ladies in White on Sundays and attend opposition meetings at Gandhi Park he will no longer be allowed to travel outside of Cuba. This is how State Security said it to the punk rocker: "he who invites you to visit another country will have to come to look for you in a motorboat" to smuggle him out of the country. Gorki's response to the events of today and threat issued:  
"They violate all your rights one after another: the right to march peacefully, to freedom of expression, right to travel, arbitrary arrest. It is incredible all that they do in just one arrest."
 Further proof that the so-called travel reform of 2013 is cosmetic and freedom of travel remains  non-existent and subject to the arbitrary whims of the dictatorship.