Sunday, July 29, 2018

Fake Change in Cuba: Pinkwashing Cuba's New Communist Constitution

Window dressing as reform.

Constitutional project to perpetuate communist party rule in Cuba
The Castro regime is attempting to legitimize their six decade and ongoing dictatorship with cosmetic reforms and a "change" in the presidency, but the reality is that beyond window dressing nothing has changed. Reuters news wire service recognizes now a hundred days into President Miguel Diaz-Canel's presidency that "the Castro dynasty is still calling practically all the shots" and that there has been a change in style but not in substance.  The Economist on July 26, 2018 highlighted the campaign for the regime to legitimize itself concluding, "[y]et for all the headlines Raúl’s reforms have yielded, the twin pillars of Fidel Castro’s rule—the Communist Party’s monopoly on power, and the state’s domination of the economy—remain in place."  One element in this campaign is that the new constitutional draft, overseen by Raul Castro, opens the way for gay marriage in Cuba.

It is important to recall that the same leadership of the Castro regime, now in their 70s and 80s, who remain in power today, and carried out anti-Gay draconian policies in the past, are the ones now advocating for the change on gay marriage in the constitution.

One should not forget that the Castro regime placed Gays and Lesbians in forced labor camps beginning in 1964 in what they called Military Units to Aid Production or UMAPs (Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción). These forced labor camps were for those suspected of or found guilty of "improper conduct."  Persons with "effeminate mannerisms": what the Cuban government called "extravagant behavior" were taken to these camps. Twenty years later with the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic in Cuba the regime rounded up all who were HIV positive. Cuba is the only nation in the world that mandated universal HIV testing and enforced isolation of all virus carriers in detention facilities from 1986 to 1994.

This Constitutional initiative by the Castro regime is a textbook example of pinkwashing. Pinkwashing is "the practice of presenting something, particularly a state, as gay-friendly in order to soften or downplay aspects of its reputation considered negative."
 Amnesty International issued a statement welcoming same sex marriage in Cuba, but also recognizing that the repressive state machinery remains intact. Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, was quoted as follows:
“The news that Cuba’s National Assembly has signed off on a new constitution that, among other things, opens the path to legalize same-sex marriage if approved by referendum in the coming months, is a potentially huge step forward for the rights of LGBTI people in Cuba and the Caribbean. We welcome this advance and urge the government to embrace dialogue with all sectors of society and allow plurality of voices as it makes further reforms. However, during the first 100 days of the Díaz-Canel presidency, we continued to receive frequent and alarming reports of Cuban authorities arbitrarily detaining human rights defenders and holding them in short-term detention. Environmental activist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola was conditionally released earlier this month, although the authorities could still return him to prison for the rest of his sentence, while another prisoner of conscience, Eduardo Cardet, remains behind bars almost 20 months after his arrest simply for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. Clever showmanship by public officials at Cuba’s Universal Periodic Review before the UN in May failed to mask the reality of life on the island, where the authorities maintain a web of control through practices such as arbitrary use of criminal law and discriminatory dismissals of state employees."
The Castro regime has gotten positive press, but at the same time the underlying repressive nature of the regime remains intact and nothing substantive has changed. However lost in the conversation and highlighted by Cuban human rights defender, Rosa María Payá is "that the constitutional referendum is not legitimate because the dictatorship violates all guarantees of a credible electoral process, nor possibility to campaign, nor presence of independent observers, nor possibility of parallel counting, nor freedom to vote without coercion." Worse yet voting yes or no in this rigged process is a trap.
The new constitution will drop the objective of constructing a "communist society" but maintain the one party system ruled by the Communist Party. Whether you vote "yes" or "no" you are voting for the perpetuation of one party rule under the Cuban Communist Party, and the head of the party (currently Raul Castro) as the ultimate power in Cuba. This is found in the old Constitution and remains unchanged in the new draft.

What should one call a reform process without reforms? Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas,  called this "fraudulent change" and it cost him his life on July 22, 2012.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Ortega's Sandinista regime in Nicaragua is murdering hundreds and is backed by Cuba and Venezuela

Bloodshed in Nicaragua continues: Doctors fired for treating wounded anti-government protesters.

Students, and journalists among the 448 killed during anti-government protests
Today thousands of Nicaraguans are marching in Managua in support of the Bishops mediating the conflict that began on April 18, 2018 when the Ortega regime sent paramilitaries and Sandinista militants to violently put down peaceful protests and shutting down the free press. At least 448 killed over a hundred days of protests in Nicaragua. 

Letter of dismissal for Nicaraguan doctor
 Agence France Press reported yesterday that more than a dozen doctors, nurses, and technical staff in a public hospital in Nicaragua were fired because they treated wounded anti-government protesters. The Associated Press reported that eight public hospital doctors in Nicaragua said Friday that they have been fired after violating alleged orders not to treat wounded protesters opposing President Daniel Ortega’s government.

Bloody Alliance in Nicaragua: Ortega, Castro and Maduro
 Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista Party are not alone in their bloody crackdown but also torture victims reported hearing Cuban and Venezuelan accents in secret prisons. Raul Castro on July 26th linked up the three countries saying: "For us, the same as for Venezuela and Nicaragua, it's very clear that the noose is tightening, and our people need to be ready to respond to every challenge with unity." 

How the São Paulo Forum sees itself
On July 16-17, 2018 in Havana, Cuba the São Paulo Forum celebrated the victory at the ballot box of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) in Mexico, and unconditionally defended Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua despite the ongoing massacres of anti-government protesters.

In 1990 following a request made by Fidel Castro to Lula Da Silva the Sao Paulo Forum was established with the goal: “To reconquer in Latin America all that we lost in East Europe.”  The FSP is a communist network comprised of over 100 left wing political parties, various social movements, and guerrilla terrorist organizations such as the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the Chilean Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR)

Wounded anti-government protester
This network is actively supporting Ortega's bloody regime and will be growing stronger later this year with the new government in Mexico.

Former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda revealed how the AMLO victory in Mexico will impact on events in Nicaragua and the timing for a solution. The new government takes power on December 1st. At best an Andrés Manuel López Obrador will return to a pre-2000 non-intervention policy in the region or at worse actively supporting the Ortega regime and their Cuban allies.

Basically Nicaraguan democrats have until December to resolve the situation in their country or be prepared for an even longer and harder slog with a major country that is now backing them either going to the sidelines or joining the other side.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

19-year old Anouk van Luijk found in Cuba after going missing for three days: Providing some context

Placing good news in a proper context.

Anouk van Luijk found after losing contact with parents for 3 days.
19-year old Anouk van Luijk, a young Dutch woman who lives in the Netherlands went to Cuba on holiday and lost contact with her family for three days.  The last time they spoke with her she told them that she had lost her bank card and was without money since Wednesday July 18th. She was also sick and suffering from diarrhea. Without money, food, or a place to sleep her parents told her to go to the Embassy and she never showed. Finally she did not catch her flight home. Her parents launched a social media campaign after not getting what they felt was a suitable response from the authorities when their daughter was out of reach.

They flew out to Cuba to search for her, and this evening  Alexandra Valkenbur, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Cuba and Jamaica, reported over twitter that "[w]e found Anouk and she is already with her parents. Thanks to the Cuban authorities for cooperation." Anouk's parents did not overreact and took the necessary action to raise awareness and look for her. This is wonderful news, but for those ready to jump on a plane to Cuba it is worth noting that not all missing persons cases in Cuba have had a positive outcome.

Albert Romero killed in Cuba in 2015
Tampa Bay Times reported that Alberto Romero (age 39), a Tampa based marital and family law attorney, was killed in Cuba while visiting extended family on January 8, 2015. He was killed along with close family friend Hector Mario Cruz Naranjo. The two men were tied up, beaten, stabbed and in the case of the Cuban American attorney one hand was severed according to the source. Martí Noticias obtained a copy of the death certificate. There have been other cases. 

Brandon Ross died under suspicious circumstances in Cuba in 2013
On November 22, 2013 Brandon Bjorn Ross, a 31 year old American citizen visiting Cuba with his mother Onelia Ross, who is of Cuban origin, went out to take pictures in the early morning around the Hotel Nacional in Havana. The next time his mom saw him was at the morgue to identify her son's body. Government officials said that he had fallen from the roof of the hotel, but refused to provide Onelia an autopsy report and quickly cremated her son's body without her authorization. This despite Canadian offers to cover costs to ship the body home. Onelia (age 55) is an accountant who left Cuba 36 years ago when she met and married a Canadian diplomat who was posted in Havana. She had never spoken critically of the Cuban government until June of 2005 when she had a problem with an entry permit to enter the island. Brandon was a Canadian born U.S. citizen.

Lara Jones strangled in Havana in 2012
On January 4, 2012 Lara Jones, a 26 year old British woman who was "a highly experienced and cautious traveler", was murdered in Cuba. The killing did not make the news until September 24, 2013. According to the account presented in The Telegraph "the linguistics graduate was strangled and smothered by a security guard who crept into her room at the former convent where she was staying in the Cuban capital Havana."

Daniel Osmani Placencia Pérez
 The Miami Herald on December 19, 2001 reported on the roadside murder of a family of five in Cuba stating:

Florida residents as Ada Lorenzo, 52, and Celedonio Placencia, 60, who were assaulted late Sunday or early Monday as they traveled from Havana to their family's home in Santa Clara. The three other victims lived on the island: one of the couple's twin daughters, 28-year-old Yailén Placencia; their grandson Daniel Osmani Placencia Pérez; and Domingo Delgado, a family friend who picked them up at José Martí International Airport in Havana. The couple had flown to Cuba on Sunday to visit Celedonio Placencia's gravely ill mother, family members said. Their bodies were found along a stretch of the Ocho Vias highway near Matanzas. Relatives in Florida said they were shot and stabbed and that the couple's daughter had her throat slit.
Rev. George Zirwas strangled in Havana in 2001
In May 2001, the Rev. George Zirwas, 47, originally from McDonald, PA, an American priest was strangled in his home in central Havana, a month after he returned to Cuba to help the poor. The Reverend was found by a neighbor. A State Department official said his apartment was ransacked.

Claudia von Weiss de Venegas missing in Cuba since 1999
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.

Joachim Løvschall killed on March 29, 1997
On March 29, 1997 Joachim Løvschall, a Danish student studying Spanish at the University of Havana was gunned down by an AK-47 wielding Cuban guard as he walked home. The body remained hidden for days. The shooter was never identified. Ten years after his son's extrajudicial killing, Christian Løvschall spoke at a parallel forum in Geneva Switzerland about what had happened:

Although the killing took place on the 29th of March, we only came to know about it on the 6th of April - I.E. after 8 days were we had the feeling that the Cuban authorities were unwilling to inform anything about the incident. Only because of good relations with Spanish speaking friends in other Latin American countries did we succeed in getting into contact with the family with whom Joachim stayed and the repeated message from their side was that they could reveal nothing, but that the situation had turned out very bad and that we had to come to Cuba as soon as possible.
At the same time all contacts to the responsible authorities turned out negatively, and worst of all we really felt nobody in Havana dared take contact to the police. Only after continued pressure from our side on the Cuban embassy in Copenhagen, things suddenly changed and the sad information was given to us by our local police on the evening of the 6th of April.
We are, however, 100% convinced that had we not made use of our own contact and had we not continued our pressure on the embassy in Copenhagen, we might have faced a situation where Joachim would have been declared a missing person, a way out the Cuban authorities have been accused of applying in similar cases.
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.   
Let us rejoice that Anouk van Luijk was reunited with her parents and we pray that she returns home in good health, but let us also not forget those who did not have such good fortune.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante: Remembering two Cuban martyrs

"Six years ago the Castros murdered my father, along with him #HaroldCepero. Today we meet to honor their lives and appreciate the time they were with us . Today their murderers already know that there will be no impunity and that they failed because they could not kill their legacy. #Freedom" - Rosa María Payá, over Twitter on July 22, 2018

 Harold Cepero Escalante and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas
There are a few moments that are burned into my memory: the moment on January 28, 1986 when the Challenger blew up, the February 24, 1996 shoot down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes by Cuban MiGs, the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 and the murders of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante on July 22, 2012.  

Mass in remembrance of Oswaldo and Harold in Miami
Today, I prayed for them and celebrated their lives. Around the world in Paris, Madrid, Miami, Hialeah and Havana masses were held in Oswaldo and Harold's memory.  Their ideas remain a relevant and powerful challenge to the existing regime in Havana.
 "Those who remove and crush freedom are the real slaves." - Harold Cepero Escalante (January 29, 1980 - July 22, 2012)

"They have told me that they will kill me before this regime ends, but I will not flee." - Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas (February 29, 1952 - July 22, 2012) 
 On Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 1:50pm near Bayamo in eastern Granma province of Cuba the incident provoked by State Security that ended the lives of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante was underway. The question some may ask is "why did the Castro regime want him dead?" The answer is simple: he exposed their lie while mobilizing tens of thousands of Cubans.

Mass in memory of Oswaldo and Harold in Madrid
Fake Change in Cuba
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas speaking on behalf of the Christian Liberation Movement in Havana on March 30, 2012 bravely denounced the fraudulent change that was then taking shape and that is being carried out today with the Obama administration's Cuba policy:

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. The attempt to link the Diaspora in this fraudulent change is to make victims participate in their own oppression. The Diaspora does not have to "assume attitudes and policies in entering the social activity of the island." The Diaspora is a Diaspora because they are Cuban exiles to which the regime denied rights as it denies them to all Cubans. It is not in that part of oppression, without rights, and transparency that the Diaspora has to be inserted, that would be part of a fraudulent change. 

The Payá family
What real change would look like
Oswaldo Payá in the same statement outlined that authentic change was contingent upon a principled path of action not economic determinism:

The gradual approach only makes sense if there are transparent prospects of freedom and rights. We Cubans have a right to our rights. Why not rights? It is time. That is the peaceful change that we promote and claim. Changes that signifies freedom, reconciliation, political pluralism and free elections. Then the Diaspora will cease being a Diaspora, because all Cubans will have rights in their own free and sovereign country. That is why we fight.
The current Constitutional convention in Cuba, presided over by Raul Castro, is part of the fraudulent change that Oswaldo Payá so effectively denounced. Cosmetic changes to curry international favor without changing the totalitarian and dictatorial nature of the regime in Cuba.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Invitation to the presentation of the book by martyred Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá

Come take part in a historic moment.

Back on July 5th this blog reported that the long awaited book "The night will not be eternal" by Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas will be formally presented on Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 7:00pm in the Varela room at Our Lady of Charity (La Ermita de la Caridad) in Miami, Florida. This is the the place where Cuban exiles received Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas in January of 2003, after he had been awarded the Sakharov Prize in Europe in December of 2002.  The book will be on sale starting at 6:00pm.

Friends and admirers of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas are invited.

This is not to be confused with the Mass that will be held at La Ermita de la Caridad on Sunday at 6:00pm. It will be held to give thanks for the lives of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and Harold Cepero Escalante marking the day six years ago that their lives were cruelly taken by agents of the Castro regime.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) published a legal report on July 22, 2015 highlighting the inaccuracies and inconsistencies of the official government investigation following Payá’s death in 2012. HRF documented numerous due process violations, including damning witness accounts, a grossly inadequate autopsy examination, and other key pieces of evidence that were overlooked by the Cuban judicial system. HRF’s report concludes that the “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.”

The event will be in Spanish.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

AI Cuban prisoner of conscience José Ramón Gabriel Castillo dies at 61 from chronic illness contracted in a Cuban prison

Did the Castro regime inoculate him with the disease that claimed his life?

José Ramón Gabriel Castillo with Omar Pernet Hernandez and Pedro Pablo Álvarez
Former Cuban prisoner of conscience José Ramón Gabriel Castillo died of cirrhosis of the liver on July 16, 2018. He was just 61 years old. The disease may have been the product of a purposeful inoculation of hepatitis while he was jailed. Cuban authorities sentenced José Ramón Gabriel Castillo to a 20-year prison term in 2003 for his pro-democracy activism. He was one of 75 activists sentenced to long prison sentences in March-April of 2003 in what became known as the "Black Spring." He spent five years of his life in a Cuban prison before being exiled to Spain in 2008.

Attending the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance, and Democracy in 2009 I met José Gabriel there and after listening to Soe Aung, from the National Council of the Union of Burma speak about the situation in his country. José Gabriel turned to me and explained how reading a book by Aung San Suu Kyi in Cuba had led him to decide to become a political dissident and join the ranks of the Cuban opposition to the dictatorship. Years later he would be part of a group of former political prisoners demanding her release.

Later that same year we would meet Vaclav Havel in Prague, present him with a list of political prisoners, and obtain his support in a campaign to release them.

José Ramón Gabriel Castillo addressed the first two Geneva Summits and in 2010 spoke of the then recent and untimely death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo on February 23, 2010.  He also spoke of the tortures he had been subjected two while imprisoned in Cuba.

José Ramón, or Pepin to his friends, was from Santiago de Cuba and worked in the Universidad de Oriente (University of Oriente) where he was expelled in 1993 for founding the first human rights organization in the Eastern region of Cuba, called the Instituto Independiente Cuba y Democracia.

Requiescat in pace Jose Gabriel Ramon Castillo.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR expresses deep concern over criminal convictions for disrespect laws in Cuba

Cases of Eduardo Cardet ConcepciónAriel Ruiz Urquiola, and Martha Sánchez González, highlighted.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur Expresses Concern over Criminal Convictions for desacato laws in Cuba
July 17, 2018
Washington D.C. - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its deep concern over the application of desacato laws, followed by imprisonment, against the Doctor of Biological Sciences, Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, in Cuba. The aforementioned adds to the conviction of Eduardo Cardet Concepción, coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL, by its Spanish acronym), who has been in prison for more than a year.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur warns about the increased criminalization of scholars, journalists, artists and activists, through the application of crimes that sanction criticism of public officials in Cuba. In many of these cases, the proceedings involve the immediate deprivation of liberty of those who express opinions, information, or criticism, on topics of public interest, or that refer to government officials.
According to the information available, on May 8, Ariel Ruiz Urquiola was sentenced to one year of detention by the Municipal Court of Viñales, in a summary trial, for the application of desacato laws. This decision was confirmed on May 22 on appeal by the First Criminal Chamber of the Popular Provincial Court of Pinar del Río. On July 3, the biologist was released under an "extra-penal license" for health reasons, after he went on a 16-day hunger and thirst strike to protest his situation.
According to information of public knowledge, on May 3, members of the Forest Ranger Agency, which is part of the Interior Ministry, entered the lands that Ruiz Urquiola had leased in usufruct to the State in the Viñales National Park, in order to request that he showed them the ownership of his work instruments and the legal permits for the activities that would be carried out. According to the information, the officials had refused to show official identification, reason why the biologist referred to them as "rural guards," a term that in the country would have a negative connotation. On the same day, occurred the application of desacato laws, followed by imprisonment, against Ruiz Urquiola, for allegedly insulted the Rangers.
Previously, in 2016, Ruiz Urquiola had been expelled from the Center for Marine Research (CIM, by its Spanish acronym) of the University of Havana, allegedly for his political opinions and for having denounced in an academic event in 2008, through the results of his doctoral research, that the government allowed the fishing of endangered turtles.
Moreover, the Office of the Special Rapporteur was informed that Martha Sánchez González, a member of the group Damas de Blanco would remain in custody since March 2018, charged with disobedience and insulting the authority.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur notes with concern that in Cuba the application of desacato laws in these cases is not an isolated incident. In Cuba, criminal law and the application of desacato laws are used as mechanisms of subsequent responsibility to the detriment of people who disseminate ideas, opinions and critical information towards the government. In this regard, it was reported that Eduardo Cardet Concepción, coordinator of the Movimiento Cristiano Liberación (MCL, by its Spanish acronym), would remain in custody following a conviction in March 2017 for the crime of attacking the authority. According to the information, Cardet Concepción was arrested on November 30, 2016, a few days after the death of Fidel Castro, after allegedly criticizing the former Cuban President in an interview, in the so-called period of national mourning imposed by the Cuban government. On February 24, 2018 [only available in Spanish], the IACHR granted precautionary measures in his favor requesting the Cuban government to adopt the necessary measures to guarantee his life and personal integrity.
Since its creation, the Office of the Rapporteur has examined the problem of desacato laws because of the danger that they could become a mechanism to stifle pluralistic and democratic debate on the government administration. In this regard, the Office of the Special Rapporteur has held on several occasions that "desacato laws are not compatible with the Inter-American Human Rights System, as they violate the freedom of thought and expression set forth in Articles IV of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and 13 of the American Convention. These norms lend themselves "to abuse, as a means to silence unpopular ideas and opinions, thereby restricting the debate that is critical to the effective functioning of democratic institutions."
The Office of the Special Rapporteur notes that in most of the American States, desacato laws for offenses have been eliminated from criminal legislation. Likewise, in different States laws that criminalize defamation of public officials had been repealed or modified. In this way, this Office calls on the Cuban State to adapt its legal framework to the Inter-American standards on freedom of expression.
Finally, the Office of the Special Rapporteur reminds the Cuban government that principle 11 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression establishes that "public officials are subject to greater scrutiny by society. Laws that penalize offensive expressions directed at public officials, generally known as ‘desacato laws,’ restrict freedom of expression and the right to information."
The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression is an office created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in order to stimulate the hemispheric defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression, considering its fundamental role in the consolidation and development of the democratic system.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

São Paulo Forum in Havana backs Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas despite their mass slaughter of civilians.

The communist network that transformed the Americas.
How the São Paulo Forum sees itself.
The São Paulo Forum celebrated the victory at the ballot box of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico, defended Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua in the midst of the regime's wave of repression and extrajudicial killings against its own populace. This past weekend, pro-regime gunmen in civilian dress fired automatic weapons to clear student protesters from a church and university in Nicaragua.

Raul Castro with Nicolas Maduro, Evo Morales of Bolivia and Miguel Díaz-Canel 
The 24th edition of the Foro de São Paulo (São Paulo Forum — FSP) is being held in Havana, Cuba from July 15-17. This the third time that the Forum has been held in Cuba and it has also been hosted in Managua, Nicaragua on four occasions and São Paulo three times. The Forum is named after the Brazilian city where it was founded in 1990 by Fidel Castro, the Sandinistas and Brazil's Lula Da Silva.

First gathering of the São Paulo Forum in 1990
In 1990 following a request made by Fidel Castro to Lula Da Silva the Sao Paulo Forum was established with the goal: “To reconquer in Latin America all that we lost in East Europe.”  The FSP is a communist network comprised of over 100 left wing political parties, various social movements, and guerrilla terrorist organizations such as the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the Chilean Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR).

Fourth gathering of the Sao Paolo Forum was in Havana in 1993
This network helped set the course for the rise of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela that was a game changer both regionally and internationally. Food riots have broken out in what was once one of the richest countries in South America and democracy there has been dismantled.

With the help of Venezuela's riches and the corruption of some of Nicaragua's politicians Daniel Ortega was able to return to power in Nicaragua in 2007 through the ballot box with a minority of the popular vote.  

Daniel Ortega first came to power in 1979 thanks to the active assistance of Cuban troops, and the Castro regime's intelligence service. Ortega was voted out of office after a long and bloody war in 1990.  However it is no longer just Cuba but a hemisphere wide totalitarian network that defends mass murder, and torture both in word and in action.

Today the Nicaraguan strong man is engaged in an existential struggle murdering hundreds of his countrymen and torturing thousands more, but the Sandinista's are not alone. The members of the São Paulo Forum go beyond words and take action. Nicaraguan student leader Victor Cuadras on July 13, 2018 explained that "there are many people who, while being tortured, heard the accents of Venezuela and Cuba in the clandestine prisons.”

Four years ago it was Venezuelan students who heard Cuban accents in Caracas while being tortured. The oppressors have made progress, now there are more diverse accents heard in the torture chambers of Nicaragua.

It is important to remember that the hunger, the suffering, and deaths of thousands of Venezuelans should be laid at the feet of the Castro regime that prepared and backed Hugo Chavez with the assistance of the Cuban military and intelligence services and that are keeping Nicolas Maduro in power today

The Maduro regime and the Castro regime belong to the São Paulo Forum and both are actively assisting the Sandinista regime in Managua hang on to power by whatever means necessary at a terrible cost to Nicaraguans.

In 1990 many believed that the Cold War was over. Fidel Castro and a handful of radical left wing political parties and terrorist organizations believed otherwise and began plotting their comeback. Twenty eight years later the hemisphere hangs in the balance as bloody conflicts play out in a background of hunger and scarcity, but the misery is not caused by the capitalist imperialists but by the communist revolutionaries.  This should not be a surprise to anyone who has studied history. Revolutionary violence and provoked famines were instruments used in Russia, Ukraine, China, Cambodia, Ethiopia, North Korea and many other places to consolidate totalitarian control.

The members of  the Sao Paolo Forum see themselves as a bloody fist emerging out of South America with its tendrils spreading everywhere. The best way to battle this threat is to recognize it and educate others on the consequences of members of this network taking power and the great difficulty in removing them once they are entrenched.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Thanksgiving Masses for the lives of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante.

Remembering and giving thanks for the lives of Oswaldo and Harold. 

In Miami, FL and Madrid, Spain there will be Masses given to give thanks for the lives of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and Harold Cepero Escalante marking the day six years ago that their lives were cruelly taken by agents of the Castro regime. The families of Oswaldo and Harold have chosen to celebrate their lives and their example for all of us.

In Miami the Mass will be held at La Ermita de la Caridad (Our Lady of Charity) located on 3609 South Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33133 on July 22, 2018 at 6:00pm.

In Madrid, Spain the Mass will be held at Parroquia San Fermin de los Navarros (Parish of San Fermin de los Navarros) located on Paseo de Eduardo Dato 10, Madrid  Metro Ruben Dario on July 22, 2018 at 8:00pm.

In Paris, France on July 22nd at 10 there will be a Gregorian Mass at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris 6 parvis Notre-Dame - Place Jean-Paul II - 75004 Paris

In Costa Rica at the Ermita del Roble en Alajuela, Costa Rica there will be a Mass of remembrance on July 22nd at 11:30am.

In Hialeah, Florida at Inmaculada Concepcion there will be a Mass at 12:30pm presided by Father Ivan Toledo.

In celebrating the lives of  Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante let us revisit some of their powerful ideas.
"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.' This is the liberation which we are proclaiming."
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, Strasbourg France, December 17, 2002
"Expelling us is not the solution neither for them or for us, it would be better to ask yourself why are there young people who are filled with concern and worry for the welfare of the country. It would be good that they explain to the students and to the people what the Varela Project is, what does it ask, and so give everyone the right to think and choose." 
Harold Cepero Escalante, November 3, 2002

"How close you and "Solidarity" have been to us in these years. Receive our fraternal greetings. I write on behalf of the Christian "Liberation" Movement. We are a Christian and patriotic movement that by peaceful means are working for freedom and democracy in our nation. ... I hope this gets to you and that the Poles might know of our struggle inspired by the Gospel. I cannot conclude without expressing our gratitude to you, the Movement "Solidarity" and all the Polish people that knew how to open the path of freedom for subject peoples. As Catholics we feel that we are in communion with you and that overcomes the difficulties of communication." 
- Oswaldo Payá, October 1, 1990   

"Today we are kicked out of the university for this. Tomorrow it could be one of you for just being different, for permitting yourself to think."
Harold Cepero Escalante, November 3, 2002
 "A few days ago, bombs exploded in two hotels in Havana. Neither the perpetrators nor the objectives of these terrorist acts have identified themselves. But in any case, such acts are reprehensible. We reject them and they should not serve to confuse Cubans. When defending their human rights, proclaiming the truth and proposing a peaceful transition to democracy, many of our fellow countrymen have endured threats, discrimination, acts of harassment, arbitrary incarcerations, beatings and cruel treatment by repressive agents, and political and judicial authorities. However, neither we nor any of our brothers have renounced a peaceful transition through civic means." 
- Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, July 22, 1997

"They are wanting to perpetuate something that it is not even known if it is fair, and in this manner they are denying the progress of a society that wants something new, something that really guarantees a dignified place for every Cuban. They are pressuring people or preventing them from expressing their true feelings, they are cultivating fear in the nation." 
Harold Cepero Escalante, November 3, 2002

 "Furthermore, those who in the prisons receive serious mistreatment have not voiced words of hatred against their abusers, because for us the peaceful approach is not a tactic but something that arises out of a spirit of reconciliation and liberation which has prompted us to begin our struggle. No one can justify terroristic violence and attacks on defenseless human beings with any kind of reasoning, and much less by pretending to defend freedom and justice. Anyone who hides cynically to make attempts against human life violates the dignity of the human being and conspires against freedom and justice. The end does not justify the means. Lies and terror lead to death and fear. Truth and love produce freedom and life." 
- Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, July 22, 1997  
"Under the pretext of defending freedom they are attacking it. Martí would say it like this: "The knife that is stabbed in the name of freedom is plunged into the chest of freedom". They should think if at the bottom of this attitude there is a real respect for freedom, because to say freedom, to be free, is not to snatch the freedom of others. I therefore ask that before they expel us ask themselves how long can they keep silent the mourning and the reality of Cuba, and remind them that the damage they can do to us is damage that they do to themselves. And more: it is a direct threat to every Cuban."
Harold Cepero Escalante, November 3, 2002
"The cause of human rights is a single cause, just as the people of the world are a single people. The talk today is of globalization, but we must state that unless there is global solidarity, not only human rights but also the right to remain human will be jeopardized." 
- Oswaldo Paya, December 17, 2002

"Those who steal the rights of others steal from themselves. Those who remove and crush freedom are the true slaves." 
Harold Cepero Escalante, November 3, 2002