Sunday, July 30, 2017

Maduros's debacle in Venezuela: How noncooperation triumphed over brute force and intimidation

The power of noncooperation on display in Venezuela today along with the failure of brute force.

Bolivarian National Guard firing at protesters in Venezuela
Today in Venezuela the power of noncooperation was on display. Despite threats of reprisals from the Maduro regime for those who did not go out to vote only 12.4% of Venezuelan voters took part in the sham election and 87.6% abstained from taking part in the sham election.What follows are impressions gathered over social media and does not pretend to be an exhaustive report of what took place in Venezuela today, but does provide some snapshots and insights into what happened.

Journalist Leonardo León captured the above moment this morning when two priests from Tovar faced off with armed government forces in what he described as an effort "to try to mediate to contain the repression." León also reported that there were serious injuries.

Snipers killing opposition members in Tachira, Venezuela (El Nacional)
In the opposition stronghold of Tachira reports have emerged of snipers of the Bolivarian National Guard members and paramilitary forces targeting and killing opposition members. Video emerged over twitter at 1:30pm of pro-regime snipers firing from a rooftop in Tachira.

At least four dead in less than 24 hours reports the publication El Nacional. Former student leader and now member of the National Assembly Juan Requesens posted over twitter images of paramilitary snipers photographed in Tachira and reported "They denounce presence of paramilitaries in Rubio, sector Fiqueros, the Blocks besieging our town Táchira."

In order to try and carry this out the Maduro regime has used a combination of intimidation and terror to intimidate Venezuelans to vote or fear that they will suffer reprisals beginning with the loss of employment. Opposition officials have had their offices and homes raided with some being arbitrarily detained and in other cases family members taken away.

Photographer Daniel Blanco in a series of tweets outlined some of the carnage and escalation in violence by Maduro's repressive apparatus. At 4:29pm Blanco tweeted: "Adrián Rodríguez (13) was assassinated in Capacho, Táchira. Army sniper shot him in the head from the roof of a school."  At 8:18pm he tweeted: "Ender Peña died (18), shot by bullet during protest in Táchira. Transferred to a polyclinic, he didn't survive the operation." A few minutes later at 8:36pm Blanco tweeted: "Conflict escalation is very obvious. Weeks ago military fired tear gas into the chest, now firing with rifles to the head." 

Génesis Carmona: Shot in the head by a sniper on February 18, 2014
Beginning in February of 2014 the phenomenon of young Venezuelans being shot in the head while peacefully protesting was first widely documented. On February 12, 2014 regime agents shot Bassil Alejandro Dacosta, age 24 in the head.  One of the young students who carried Bassil off  after he was shot was Robert Redman, age 28, who reported later that day over twitter: "Today I was hit with a rock in the back, a helmet in my nose. I swallowed tear-gas, Carried the kid who died, and what did you do?" That same day he was also gunned down by Maduro's colectivos, working in concert with his security forces, and murdered. The killings continued.  A high profile killing that shocked the world was the murder of a local beauty queen. Génesis Carmona was just 22 years old and nonviolently expressing her desire for a better Venezuela when she was shot in the head on February 18, 2014 and died a day later on February 19, 2014.  The Maduro regime's repressive apparatus shifted to using tear gas and buckshot to maim and kill so as not to be as obvious after some bad press.

Nevertheless on May 18, 2017 The Miami Herald reported that it had a recording of a Venezuelan general advocating for the use of snipers against street demonstrators "in the future." It appears that "the future" has arrived.
The Maduro regime banned protests and put them down with brutal force. Caracas Chronicles identified the following individuals killed during the Maduro government’s fraudulent Constituent Assembly elections today as of 8:15pm.
  1. Eduardo Olave, 39. Libertador, Mérida. 
  2. Angelo Méndez, 28. Libertador, Mérida. 
  3. Luisa Zambrano, 43. Barquisimeto, Lara. 
  4. Ricardo Campos, 30. Cumaná, Sucre. 
  5. GNB officer Ronald Ramírez Rosales. La Grita, Táchira. 
  6. Luis Ortiz, 16. Tucapé, Táchira  
  7. Adrián Rodríguez, 13. Capacho Viejo, Táchira. 
  8. Iraldo Gutiérrez, 38. Chiguará, Mérida. 
  9. Albert Rosales, 53. Tucapé, Táchira. 
  10. Wilmer Smith Flores, 21. La Grita, Táchira. 
  11. Juan José Monjes, 42. Aguada Grande, Lara. 
  12. Julio Manrique, 22. Ureña, Táchira.
Caracas Chronicles also reported a total of 14 killed today, but opposition figure Henry Ramos Allup places the number at 16. Either way today was the bloodiest day during this cycle of protests that began four months ago and has claimed over 100 lives.

Venezuela has been a full blown dictatorship since the Maduro regime on October 20, 2016 illegally suspended a recall referendum because the dictatorship knew that it could not obtain a favorable result.  The so-called vote for a Constituent Assembly today is to do away with the last vestiges of the old democratic order following the Cuban Stalinist model as the end goal. This is why it is so profoundly unpopular. 

The democratic opposition in Venezuela has been successful to the degree that it has been able to maintain nonviolent discipline. By remaining nonviolent the opposition has been able to mobilize large numbers either to take to the streets, or to withdraw from them in an act of non-cooperation with the dictatorship as was demonstrated today. 

"Violent flanks" and the use of the so-called "diversity of tactics" reduces mobilization and decreases the probability of success for a resistance movement. Strategic thinker Gene Sharper put it succinctly when he said: "using violence is a stupid decision." Violent resistance is not a short cut to ending the regime but prolonging its time and power while undermining the international legitimacy of the opposition.

This would explain why the Maduro regime manufactures evidence and constantly accuses nonviolent activists of being violent ignoring evidence to the contrary.  First and most importantly if the charges are believed it helps to reduce popular mobilization against these regimes which is the greatest threat to their power.  Secondly, it raises questions that can impact international solidarity and support. Third, it allows these regimes to infiltrate agents to carry out violent acts that delegitimize the movement placing it on the defensive in damage control mode.

At the same time the brutality of the Maduro regime against Wuilly Moisés Arteaga, a violinist who played the Venezuelan national anthem during protests first having his violin destroyed, then later shot in the face and now arrested and tortured for simply playing music and dissenting against the government exposes the true nature of the Maduro dictatorship. This brutality is even more evident and fuels international outrage when the opposition is nonviolent.

Today the impotence of brute force was demonstrated with the Maduro regime getting 12.4% of Venezuelans to participate in the sham election while noncooperation achieved an 87.6% of Venezuelans refusing to take part in the fraudulent exercise.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

All eyes on Venezuela: Maduro regime pushing to consolidate dictatorship

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

Venezuela today
Venezuela is a dictatorship and has been one for sometime. What is taking place now with escalating regime violence ( over 100 dead in nonviolent protests) and the centralization of power in the executive is the consolidation of the dictatorship. Democracy and the rule of law departed some time ago. The Venezuelan Education-Action Program on Human Rights [Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos] PROVEA over twitter on October 23, 2016 stated it plainly: "It is not a time of silence or inhibitions, but of defending the Constitution and democracy against the dictatorial and authoritarian outburst."
Venezuela's most important human rights organization, PROVEA, on October 23, 2016 declared that the Maduro government had broken with the Constitutional order and from October 20, 2016 on could be considered a full blown dictatorship. Below is PROVEA's reasoning.
The Venezuelan Education-Action Program on Human Rights (PROVEA) is an organization that has gained respectability for its 28 years of existence due to the credibility of its analyzes and denunciations. With the seriousness and responsibility that characterizes us, we share the following position to public opinion: Following the illegal suspension of the process of the realization of the recall referendum, ratifying the absence of independence of the powers in the country, the government of Nicholas Maduro should be described as a dictatorship. We are not in the presence of simple delays of the process, but of the interruption and obstruction of any electoral process as long as the government can not obtain favorable results in the polls.
 Venezuela is in agony and on the brink of completing its transition into a full blown totalitarian dictatorship. On Sunday July 30, 2017 the Maduro regime will conduct a sham vote to empower a pro-Maduro body with the power to eliminate the legislative assembly dominated by the opposition.
Violence is escalating, and Maduro's repressive forces are kidnapping elected officials who do not support the regime. In the above tweet Gabriel Lugo,  a Venezuelan human rights defender, reports: "The dictatorhip has kidnapped Mayor Alfredo A Ramos and he is being held at the headquarters of the SEBIN (Maduro's secret police) on 60th street after being detained in the Municipal Palace." Peaceful demonstrators continue to be killed by the Bolivarian National Guard and Cuban trained colectivos.

Gustavo Villamizar, 18years old, a victim of the Maduro regime
The opposition has mobilized millions in the streets of Venezuela to protest these moves by Maduro and over seven million Venezuelans voted on July 16, 2017 in a non-binding plebiscite rejecting Constituent Assembly of the Maduro regime. A general strike has been carried out and despite regime violence people are still taking to the streets in protest.

Venezuelans nonviolently resist, their rebelliousness visible throughout the country
Wuilly Moisés Arteaga is a Venezuelan singer, pianist, violinist, composer and victim of the Maduro regime who in early May 2017 grabbed the attention of the international media as he played the Venezuelan national anthem in the midst of tear gas and protests. This past Saturday he was told to be quiet and was struck in the face with a projectile by an agent of the Maduro regime, but he refused to remain silent and with his face swollen and disfigured he defied the dictatorship stating " NEITHER BUCKSHOT NOR GLASS PROJECTILES will stop us from continuing to fight until we achieve the INDEPENDENCE OF VENEZUELA. I'm going back to the Streets tomorrow."
Wuilly returned to the streets and was arbitrarily detained on Thursday, July 27, 2017. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation reported on July 28, 2017: "Today, Wuilly has been tortured. According to his lawyer, his hair has been burned and he has been beaten so that he cannot hear through his right ear." This is a matter of great concern because he is still healing from the injuries suffered at the hands of Maduro's repressive forces last Saturday. The Maduro regime has outlawed public protests in the lead up to the "vote" they have announced they are going to hold on Sunday.

Venezuela has been a dictatorship for a while now. Maduro and his Cuban allies are cementing the mortar that will maintain it for a long time to come. Venezuelans are right to protest while their cage is being built that if completed, like the Cuban one, can last a very long time.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Patria de Martí hosts conference on martyred Polish priest Jerzy Popieluszko

 "A man who tells the Truth is a free man despite external slavery, imprisonment or custody." - Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko

Event tonight in Spanish remembers life of martyred Polish Priest
Tonight Patria de Martí is hosting a conference on the life of the Polish priest Jerzy Popieluszko that will screen a film on is life "Messenger of the Truth" and also hold a panel that looks at parallels with the life and work of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas.  As Catholics and human rights defenders that confronted a totalitarian communist regime they have much in common, including a defense of truth using nonviolent means and a rejection of hatred.

Father Jerzy Popieluszko in a sermon given in Poland on March 27, 1983 addressed the need to overcome hatred while explaining the need for justice.
Our Fatherland and respect of human dignity must be the common objective for reconciliation. You must unite in reconciliation in the spirit of love, but also in the spirit of justice. As the Holy Father said five years ago, no love exists without justice. Love is greater than justice and at the same time finds reassurance in justice. And for you, brothers, who carry in your hearts paid-for hatred, let it be a time of reflection that violence is not victorious, though it may triumph for a while. We have a proof of that standing underneath the Cross. There too was violence and hatred for truth. But the violence and hatred were defeated by the active love of Christ.
 Oswaldo Payá in a speech delivered to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on December 17, 2002 upon accepting the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought addressed the same themes. 
We have not chosen the path of peace as a tactic, but because it is inseparable from the goal for which our people are striving. Experience teaches us that violence begets more violence and that when political change is brought about by such means, new forms of oppression and injustice arise. It is our wish that violence and force should never be used as ways of overcoming crises or toppling unjust governments.  [...] The first victory we can claim is that our hearts are free of hatred. Hence we say to those who persecute us and who try to dominate us: ‘You are my brother. I do not hate you, but you are not going to dominate me by fear. I do not wish to impose my truth, nor do I wish you to impose yours on me. We are going to seek the truth together’. 
They share much in common in their views on how to obtain a lasting peace. Sadly their untimely deaths also do as well.

Father Jerzy celebrated a regular mass for striking Polish workers, listened to their complaints and let his office become the Warsaw headquarters for the Solidarity movement. He became incredibly popular and thousands sought to attend his religious services. The communist regime began to view him as an existential threat and began to harass, threaten him and make attempts on his life.

Documentary being shown tonight is available online
 According to The Washington Post article "Father Jerzy's Murder" published on September 30, 1990: "In late September 1984, SB officials decided Father Jerzy either had to be pushed from a train, have a 'beautiful traffic accident' or be tortured to death, according to court testimony after his murder."

A car accident was set up to kill Solidarity priest, Jerzy Popiełuszko on October 13, 1984, but he escaped it, only to later be kidnapped beaten, tortured and killed by three state security officers on October 19, 1984. His body was dumped in a reservoir and recovered on October 30, 1984. On December 1, 1984 two police men investigating the murder of the Solidarity priest in Poland died in a car crash.

The circumstances surrounding the 2012 death of  Oswaldo Payá have some disturbing parallels with Father Popiełuszko. Both received death threats, and prior attempts on their lives but continued to speak truth to power with nonviolence.

In Poland the leadership remained constant with Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski but in Cuba there was a change. Since Raul Castro took over from his brother in 2006 and a lethal shift in tactics was observed. As recently as 2003 Fidel Castro presided over sending innocent men to 25 and 28 year prison sentences for organizing and carrying out The Varela Project, a petition drive pushing human rights reforms, while threatening to have some of them executed before a firing squad. Seventy five new prisoners of conscience gave birth to a new formidable opposition movement in March of 2003, the Ladies in White.

It appears that the lessons drawn by Raul Castro and first learned by Cuban State Security when being formed and trained by the East German Stasi is that instead of long prison sentences, the shift was made towards continuous harassment, short term prison sentences, "accidents" organized to liquidate dissidents and the occasional brutal killing to strike fear into the populace. The calculation was apparently made that this was more effective and drew less attention than a large number of prisoners of conscience serving long prison sentences.

This is not to say that Fidel Castro back in the 1960s and as recently as 1994 and 1996 did not organize intelligence operations to kill innocent Cubans.  The July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo"tugboat massacre and the February 24, 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shoot down are two examples of the regime's brutality with a body count that stretches back 58 years.

Further evidence that the "car accident" was a premeditated act arranged for Oswaldo Paya was that this was not the first time; the regime had also tried with another vehicle 20 days earlier while he was in Havana.

On July 22, 2015 the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) published a legal report that concluded that in the case of Oswaldo Payá “evidence, which was deliberately ignored, strongly suggests that the events of July 22, 2012 were not an accident, but instead the result of a car crash directly caused by agents of the state.”

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bacardi, Rosa María Payá and CubaDecide

 The Bacardi family continues its 150 year tradition of defending Cuban independence and freedom
Today was a day of worry with news that Rosa María Payá had her passport taken away at the airport by regime officials missing her flight to Miami. She had arrived in Cuba on July 17, 2017 to mark five years since her father Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and friend Harold Cepero Escalante had been killed under suspicious circumstances on July 22, 2012. She organized a mass on July 20th and visited her dad's tomb with friends and drew attention to the challenges facing Cuba in 2017 and continued to demand justice for her loved ones. However there is also cause for optimism.

Rosa María Payá with Ladies in White during Mass for Oswaldo and Harold on 7/20/17

Bacardi, Rosa María Payá and CubaDecide
The Bacardi family is the antithesis of the Castro family in Cuban history through to the present day. Consider for a moment that Angel Castro, Fidel and Raul Castro's father fought for the Spanish crown against Cuban independence. The Castro brothers emerged out of the worse elements of political gangsterism to impose a dictatorship that has lasted 58 years. In contrast two generations of the Bacardi family fought for Cuban independence with one family member fighting alongside General Antonio Maceo. During the Republic the family not only had enlightened business practices but also engaged in civic activities that promoted a democratic culture. Each time that dictatorship arose in Cuba under Machado, Batista and Castro the Bacardis joined the democratic resistance. Now they have recognized the work of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and that of his daughter, Rosa María Payá and they are supporting the Cuba Decide initiative to push for a democratic transition.

Sayli Navarro, unidentified activist, Rosa María Payá,, and Ivan Hernandez Carrillo,
On July 20, 2017  The Bacardi Family Foundation issued a press release that states, in part, "Cuba Decide: A citizens’ demand for a plebiscite in Cuba is underway and building support on the island and across the world on the heels of the 5th Anniversary of the attack which took the life of Cuban Opposition leader, Oswaldo Payá. The Bacardi Family Foundation selects the citizen movement as their flagship program to support during the 2017 and 2018 year."

The news did not come out of the blue. Back on April 21, 2017  The Bacardi Family Foundation reported it was "working with the Cuba Decide project, the citizen movement for plebiscite in Cuba.  Cuba Decide is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, citizen initiative, whose goal is to organize a vote that changes the oppressive communist party-ruled system into a democratic, multiparty one."

This is a continuation of a long family tradition recognized by Bacardi briefly while downplaying their historic contributions to Cuban independence and liberty as follows:
"Since its early days in Santiago de Cuba, the Bacardi family has demonstrated a belief that our great blessings come with a responsibility to be a positive force in our community. Individually, family members have carried on this tradition as our numbers have grown and as our community has expanded to encompass much of the globe. Since 1997, with the creation of the Bacardi Family Foundation, we have dedicated resources to augment the efforts of family members who wish to continue in the tradition of social stewardship."
Past is prologue
The Bacardi family, began their world famous Rum business in Santiago de Cuba in 1862. Don Facundo Bacardí Massó founded Bacardi Limited on February 4, 1862. The family would also play an important role in civic life in Cuba, especially Santiago over the next century, and were constant opponents of dictatorship, political corruption and remained ardent Cuban nationalists over several generations. Forced into exile by the Castro regime the Bacardi family has maintained the traditions of the Cuban Republic celebrating independence day, carrying on the family business and continuing the fight for a free Cuba.

Emilio Bacardi Moreau
 A history of the Bacardi family written by Tom Gjelten, a reporter for National Public Radio titled Bacardi and The Long Fight for Cuba :The Biography of a Cause led to renewed interest in their role in Cuba's independence.  A 2008 review of the book in The New York Times by Randy Kennedy touches on the figure of Emilio Bacardi Moreau.

Emilio Bacardi, especially, comes to life as the book’s most powerful character, though one so strange that Gabriel García Márquez might have invented him. Emilio was imprisoned twice by Spain off the coast of Morocco for his revolutionary activities. But he still managed to hold the company together, to serve as Santiago’s mayor during the unsettled years of the American occupation, to help found a salon called the Victor Hugo Freethinker Group, to practice theosophy in a predominantly Catholic country and to track down a genuine mummy on a trip to Egypt, which he bought as the centerpiece for a museum he had founded in San­tiago. (Modest he was not; he signed his revolutionary correspondence with the name Phocion, after the Athenian statesman known as “the good.”)
His son Emilio Bacardi Lay actively took part in Cuba's war of independence. In 1895, he was a field officer for Gen. Antonio Maceo during the invasion of Cuba by independence forces. He reached the rank of colonel by the age of 22. He fled Cuba in 1961 due to the Castro regime. Bacardi Imports, Inc., re-established its headquarters in Miami in 1963 after having been based for a century in Santiago de Cuba. Emilio Bacardi Lay died in exile in Miami on October 14, 1972 at the age of 95 and was the last surviving ranking officer of Cuba's war of independence with Spain.

Must read biography of the Bacardi family by Tom Gjelten
This is the history that the Castro dynasty would like to erase but no matter how much they try they will fail because history is what it is and the facts are the facts. Meanwhile to all who read this please consider that if you wish to make a toast to freedom with alcoholic spirits then do it with Bacardi.

Amnesty International: #LiuXiaobo died unjustly in custody, but we can still make China free #LiuXia.

"Her husband Liu Xiaobo died unjustly in custody, but we can still make China free Liu Xia." - Amnesty International

Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia in happier times
Chinese activist Rose Tang over FaceBook called for solidarity with Liu Xiaobo's widow, Liu Xia who has been forcibly disappeared and following her request signed and shared the petition and her call to action below:
"#LiuXiaobo's poet/artist wife Liu Xia has been missing since her husband died of liver cancer in Chinese police custody on July 13. She's been under house arrest for 7 years since Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. Her only "crime" is that she's Liu's widow. She's been suffering from severe depression and heart disease.
We're very worried she's been detained, and even worse, she could be murdered by the Chinese government. She was last seen in this photo (below) released by the state-owned propaganda media -- she was being forced to watch the sea burial of Liu's ashes. Liu Xiaobo was cremated merely 2 days after he passed away. His plea from his death bed to let him and Liu Xia leave China to be treated in the west was denied by Beijing.
Pls sign and share this Amnesty International petition for Liu Xia. Thanks!"
Liu Xia forced to watch the sea burial of Liu Xiaobo's ashes

China: Free Liu Xia

Liu Xia has been kept in isolation since October 2010, and she has suffered from psychological stress, anxiety and depression as a result.

Her crime? She refused to stop trying to release her wrongfully imprisoned husband.
Artist, poet, and human rights defender, Liu Xia was placed under illegal house arrest and heavy surveillance and harassed by the Chinese authorities, ever since her late husband Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

Especially now that her husband has passed, it’s time the Chinese authorities stop cruelly punishing Liu Xia.

Her husband, Liu Xiaobo, helped devise a call for political reform in China, known as Charter 08. All he did was exercise his human rights: but as a result, he was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment in 2009 for "inciting subversion of state power". He was recognized by Amnesty International as a Prisoner of Conscience.
He was diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer in May and despite repeated requests from Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia, the Chinese authorities refused to let them travel abroad for treatment.
Although Liu Xiaobo has passed away on 13 July while on medical parole,  he leaves behind a powerful legacy to inspire others to continue the struggle for human rights in China. Our greatest tribute to him will be to ensure that Liu Xia is free to do the same.

Sign the petition and urge Chinese authorities to end the illegal house arrest and surveillance of Liu Xia, stop the harassment and allow her to travel freely:

"We urge your government to end the illegal house arrest and surveillance of Liu Xia, stop her harassment and allow her to travel freely.
Chinese poet, artist and human rights defender Liu Xia was placed under illegal house arrest and heavy surveillance ever since her late husband, Liu Xiaobo, was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

Following her husband's death, it’s time the Chinese authorities stop cruelly punishing Liu Xia."



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cuban dissident Oscar Elías Biscet remembers China's Liu Xiaobo


By Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet 

Liu Xiaobo

The Chinese Communist government had no mercy or tolerance with the sick prisoner, the diagnosis of the disease was late and they only allowed him to leave the jail a few days before he died. 

After a long process of unjust incarceration for "subversion of state power," the Doctor of Literature at the Normal University of Beijing and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, dies in a Chinese hospital, on July 13 of the current year of a fatal disease: liver cancer.

The Chinese Communist government had no mercy or tolerance with the sick prisoner, the diagnosis of the disease was late and only allowed him to leave the jail a few days before dying to avoid the international scandal of his death in prison.

A few days before the death of Liu, international solidarity became a reality when a medical team of German and American doctors was able to physically access the patient and invite him to receive specialized medical treatment at prestigious health institutions in their respective countries, the hospital of the German University of Heidelberg and the MD Anderson Clinic of the United States of America.
Despite the insistent requests of these friends and sympathizers for his release and proper medical care abroad, the Chinese authorities maintained their perverse negativity to Liu's trip and his abduction until the end of his days.Xiaobo was the chairman of the Chinese Poets, Essay and Novelist Club (PEN Club) and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 when he found himself in prison, the first Chinese citizen to receive the Nobel Prize. His crime was to create a manifesto, Charter 08, which demands democratization, respect for human rights and freedom for the Chinese people.

Charter 08 was signed by more than 300 intellectuals and human rights activists; more than 8,000 supporters from all over the country were added to the hope of establishing the rule of law in China. It was published on 10 of December 2008, the International Day of Human Rights, on the sixtieth anniversary of its creation.Liu had an important track record of opposition work against the Chinese communist dictatorship. During the student protests in Tiananmen Square of 1989, he supported students with a three-day hunger strike to draw public attention and avoid serious government retaliation against the student body. Because of these circumstances he was detained for several months, being the most emblematic figure of the events of Tiananmen. 

In the world many critical voices were raised because of Liu Xiaobo's unfair treatment. However, the most compelling and adjusted to reality was that of Human Rights Watch (HRW), stating that Xiaobo's death "exposes the cruelty of the Chinese government with nonviolent defenders of human rights and democracy" .

Human Rights Watch reaffirms the hope that human beings are born to be free, stating that "although the Chinese government acted with arrogance, cruelty and callousness, the struggle of Liu for a democratic China where rights are respected will remain alive."

Similarly, other institutions such as Amnesty International, the Nobel Committee and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights demonstrated their discontent with the inhumane attitude of the Chinese government. In addition, the governments of the United States, the European Union and the Republic of China (Taiwan), among others, in their maximum representatives, Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Tsai Ing Wen expressed their solidarity with Xiaobo and demanded the release of the widow Liu.
If, during the eight years of unjust imprisonment of the humanist activist Xiaobo, democratic and free governments, especially the West, had acted with the firmness in which they demonstrated when the Chinese Nobel died, I am sure that today we would not be going through these bitter circumstances .

Unfortunately, two Nobel laureates have died under state custody, Carl von Ossietzky, in national socialist Germany in 1938, and Liu Xiaobo, in socialist China, self-titled champion of globalization and free trade. Hitler's Germany had numerous and successful entrepreneurs; as does mainland China. In the latter there are more than 10 million people with great fortunes. However, in neither country, did these successful entrepreneurs raised their voices to condemn the deaths of those awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

They want to forcefully sell us Cubans an evolution of our country to the Chinese "socialist market system" Regardless of the despotism of China's system, in association with the lack of basic human rights and freedoms. That is why we feel the pain of the unjust and untimely death of Liu Xiaobo; because he did not see his dreams come true. The dreams of this icon of freedom are precious goods for those who want a free Cuba.
 Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet is President of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, President of the Emilia Project, Presidential Medal of Freedom

Follow Dr. Biscet at:

Monday, July 24, 2017

Christian Liberation Movement: From Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas to Eduardo Cardet Concepción

Repression against the Christian Liberation Movement remains a constant
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Eduardo Cardet Concepción
 On July 22, 2017 across the world activists and friends of freedom paid homage to Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante five years after they were cruelly taken.  The Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) did not end with the untimely and suspicious deaths of Oswaldo and Harold. Following the death of MCL national coordinator Oswaldo Payá members of the organization elected Eduardo Cardet Concepción to lead in 2014.  Cardet was also elected vice president of the Christian Democrat Organization of America (ODCA). Following the death of Fidel Castro on November 25, 2016 Eduardo Cardet spoke critically of Fidel Castro and his legacy in Cuba while outside of the country to international media saying in part "Castro was a very controversial man, very much hated and rejected by our people."

 As the new national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement Eduardo Cardet continued the work of MCL promoting the citizen campaign Project Varela and the proposal to reform the electoral law "One Cuban, one vote" that is being turned into members of the National Assembly of Popular Power.

State Security visited his wife and threatened her that Eduardo Cardet would be sentenced to a long prison term. Despite that Cardet returned to Cuba on November 30, 2016 and was beaten up and arrested in front of his family. In March of 2017 Eduardo Cardet was sentenced to 3 years in prison and Amnesty International has recognized him as a prisoner of conscience.

On April 7, 2017 the Peace and Cooperation Foundation (Fundación Paz y Cooperación) awarded the Freedom of Conscience Annual Prize to Eduardo Cardet.  This prize is seen as not only supporting Eduardo Cardet but all Cuban prisoners of conscience recognized by Amnesty International. The NGO is known for its support of nonviolence and the promotion of a culture for peace.

Eduardo Cardet remains unjustly imprisoned and a prisoner of conscience.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

How the world remembered Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero five years after their murders

Paying homage to two murdered human rights defenders across the Americas

Activists remember Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero in Guatemala

Five years ago on Sunday, July 22, 2012 near Bayamo in eastern Granma province of Cuba the incident provoked by State Security ended the lives of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante. At 5:00pm, in a telephone call, Felix Rivero Cordoví from Bayamo reported"Oswaldo Payá has died in a collision with a police car."  Later we learned that Harold Cepero had also died of his injuries. Five years later and Cuban officials have still not handed over the autopsies to the families. Instead the Castro regime engaged in a massive coverup blaming the driver of the car for the deaths while denying that a second vehicle was involved.

Mass at Ermita de la Caridad celebrated lives of Oswaldo and Harold
 On the fifth anniversary of these suspicious deaths former world leaders such as former Chilean president Sebastian Piñera, former Mexican president Felipe Calderón, former Colombian president Andrés Pastrana, former Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla, and Mariana Aylwin, daughter of the late Chilean president Patricio Aylwin issued statements recognizing the living legacy of Oswaldo Payá. Others also demanded an impartial investigation into what happened to Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and Harold Cepero Escalante on July 22, 2012. The current Secretary Genereral of the Organization American States issued a call "for a professional and impartial investigation."

Message from Secretary General on Anniversary of the Death of Oswaldo Payá

July 22, 2017

Five years ago, on July 22, 2012, Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero died when the vehicle they were riding in crashed into a tree in the eastern Cuban province of Bayamo. Ángel Carromero and Jens Aron Modig were also in the car.

Even today, series and well-founded doubts about the case persist. That is why on this new anniversary of the death of Oswaldo Payá, I join the call of the families of the victims and of all those who demand justice for a professional and impartial investigation.

Oswaldo Payá was perhaps the best-known activist in Cuba because of his tireless work in favor of democracy. Through the Varela Project he promoted the amendment of laws to respect the right to free expression, freedom of the press and freedom of association.

The Varela Project is based on the Constitution of Cuba itself, which under article 88 (g), grants legal initiative to citizens, among other powers.

The freedom to meet, associate and to speech are fundamental rights recognized in international human rights law and all democratic societies.

These principles must be respected. It is unacceptable that those who try to defend their rights are persecuted for their opinions and have their voices silenced.

From the OAS we must always promote respect for basic freedoms, that sovereignty lies in the people, and the most complete validity of human rights.

The struggle of Oswaldo Payá is absolutely inspiring for our defense of these principles and values.
Reference: S-022/17
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio in a tweet sent by his office expressed clearly that what happened on that day was an extrajudicial killing.
 Joining Senator Rubio in calling what happened on July 22, 2012 a murder are Senators Dick Durbin, Bill Nelson, Jeff Merkley, and Cuban Americans Bob Menéndez and Ted Cruz. They are demanding an independent and impartial investigation into what happened on that day.

Activities were carried out across the Americas remembering the legacy of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero with peaceful gatherings and masses held in Miami, Cuba, Guatemala, Spain. The solidarity of the shaken was on display when family members of Venezuelan political prisoner Mayor Antonio Ledezma sent messages of solidarity and support recognizing Oswaldo's legacy. 
Hopefully the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will do its job and complete its investigation into killings of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero finally after five years. Currently we only have the report prepared by Human Rights Foundation that indicates that the official version put out by the Castro regime was a coverup and that this was most likely an extrajudicial killing.