Friday, September 28, 2018

Castro regime denies racism exists in Cuba at the United Nations, bars black Cubans from speaking there

The Castro regime says there is no racism in Cuba. Cubans of African descent say different, but are detained and prohibited from speaking out in an international forum.


By Race and Equality

Washington. Sept 16. 2018. On August 16, Cuba categorically denied the existence of racial discrimination in Cuba to the group of independent experts of the United Nations (UN) that form the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) during the review of Cuba under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The purpose of the review is for Cuba to present information on how it has implemented action plans to combat racial discrimination.

Rodolfo Reyes Rodríguez, represented Cuba at the review and stressed during his presentation on behalf of the Cuban state that Cuba does not have a structural or institutional racism problem. He also emphasized that in Cuba, racial and ethnic minorities do not experience any difference in treatment legally, politically, or socially and that the concepts of “Afro-Cuban” or “Afro-descendant” do not exist in Cuba because this population is not regarded as any different from the rest of the population.

He stated that according to the results of the 2012 population census, 9.3% of the population identified as Afro-descendant because of the mixed heritage of the population. He explained that all citizens self-identify themselves as white, mixed or black just based on the color of their skin, but all are considered Cuban citizens with the same inherent rights and responsibilities. (You can read the full presentation of the Cuban representative here)

In response to the information presented, the CERD Committee issued its report of recommendations on August 31. In the report, the Committee finds that, contrary to the information presented by the Cuban state, the Afro-descendant population in Cuba continues to suffer from racism and structural discrimination as a result of the historical legacy of slavery. The report also concludes that this discrimination is demonstrated by and results in this population being unable to exercise economic, social, and cultural rights to the same extent as other Cubans. According to the report, the Committee is concerned about the challenges the Afro-descendant population faces in accessing the labor market; the low levels of of Afro-descendants in decision-making positions, both in the public and private sector; and the disproportionate levels of poverty affecting this population.

In its list of recommendations, the CERD Committee also expresses great concern that the methodology used in the census does not result in objective information that accurately presents the racial composition of the country. In this regard, the Committee calls on the Cuban State to review its methodology for collecting demographic data in the census in order to design questions and strategies with the input of the Afro-descendant population that will result in their self-identification and generate more accurate results.

The CERD Committee report calls on the Cuban State to include a clear and explicit definition of racial discrimination in its Constitution, which is currently being updated.

The Committee also recommends that the State include a gender focus in its policies and strategies to combat racial discrimination in order to address the many forms of discrimination affect women, particularly Afro-descendant women, who face greater obstacles in accessing the labor market. The Committee also stressed the need to create as opportunities for women to participate in politics and to hold decision-making roles.

The CERD Committee condemned allegations of harassment, intimidation, and hostility against those who defend the rights of Afro-descendants.

Specifically, the CERD Committee’s Rapporteur for Cuba, Silvio Albuquerque, mentioned violations of the right to freedom of movement. Juan Antonio Madrazo, Coordinator of the Citizen’s Committee for Racial Integration (Comité Ciudadano por la Integración Racial), was prevented from leaving Cuba to participate in the review, and Roberto Mesa, Coordinator of the Black Brotherhood (Cofradia de la Negritud) was arbitrarily detained a few days before he was scheduled to travel.

The representative for Cuba denied any acts of repression taking place against human rights defenders, instead asserting that these individuals pass themselves as human rights defenders but are mercenaries of the United States, paid to make false allegations of human rights violations. In its report, the CERD Committee laments the Cuban government’s denial of these violations and their failure to take measures necessary to investigate them and prevent them from occurring.

Race and Equality observes the statements presented by the Cuban government to the UN CERD Committee with great concern. The lack of specific and conclusive information provided by the government as well as its flat denial of the discrimination and human rights violations suffered by Afro-Cubans is further evidence that discrimination and structural racism are alive and well in the country.

Race and Equality thanks the CERD Committee for the recommendations offered to the Cuban government, which are to be implemented into the laws and policies of the country in order to effectively guarantee the protection of the human rights of all Afro-descendants in Cuba.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Speaking truth to power: Cuban dissident and machete attack victim Sirley Avila Leon addresses the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

"An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self sustained." - Mohandas Gandhi, Young India 1924-1926 (1927), p. 1285

Sirley Avila Leon in Geneva, Switzerland at the statue of Mohandas Gandhi.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has failed to hold the Castro regime accountable, and too often has legitimized the 59 year old dictatorship and its henchman. Lamentably, the Universal Periodic review has also been rendered impotent by the machinations of the despots in Havana, and the indifference of too many democracies around the world. Cubans are being beaten up, mutilated, and murdered by agents of the Cuban government for trying to exercise their human rights and the chief human rights body in the world says nothing about it.

Nevertheless, over the course of this past year Cuban pro-democracy activists journeyed or tried to journey to the UN Human Rights Council to speak truth to power. (Cuban democrats did the same in 2009 and again in 2013 during the first two cycles of the Universal Periodic Review of Cuba). They all spoke truth to power, and their testimony exposes the lies propagated by the Castro dictatorship.

Earlier this week, on September 24, 2018 during Item 6 of the UN Human Rights Council on the general debate over the Universal Periodic Review, one of the victims of repression was able to address the Human Rights Council. Sirley Avila Leon addressed the Council about the May 24, 2015 machete attack orchestrated by Castro regime agents in Cuba. Below is a translation of the original Spanish statement to English:

Item 6: Universal Periodic Review 
39th regular session of the Human Rights Council

Thank you, Mr. President,

My name is Sirley Avila Leon, I am Cuban and I will speak on behalf of UN Watch.

On May 24, 2015 living in Cuba I suffered an attack orchestrated by agents of the state, I was attacked with a machete to kill me cutting off my left hand and right shoulder while I covered my head with them, then cut my knees leaving me disabled for life.

This was not the first attack I suffered, I was previously attacked several times, physically and verbally by the political police in Cuba: they burned my bed, I suffered arbitrary arrests, death threats, economic damages. Only for demanding better living conditions for the peasants and their children in a rural area of Las Tunas.

My case is not isolated. In Cuba, the state continues to violate the human rights of Cubans, murders, imprisons and banishes those who demand rights and repress their families.

 To save my life, in 2016 I escaped from Cuba, since then my son, Yoerlis Peña Avila, has been threatened with death and repressed on several occasions. At this moment I fear for his life.

Mr. President, as a direct victim of repression in Cuba, I ask: How can the Cuban government be a member of the Human Rights Council, committing so many crimes against humanity for 59 years?

Thank you very much.

Later that same day I also spoke before the UN Human Rights Council touching on pressing issues: the continuing unjust imprisonment of Eduardo Cardet; the August 9, 2018 extrajudicial killing of Alejandro Pupo Echemendia, and the threats, harassment and detention of witnesses, family members and rights defenders who spoke out; and finally addressed with great concern the plight of Tomás Núñez Magdariaga, a Cuban political prisoner on his 40th day on hunger strike this past Monday.

The life of Tomás Núñez Magdariaga continues to hang in the balance as he enters his 44th day on hunger strike on Friday.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

From the Archives: Former Cuban Political Prisoner Denounces Human Rights Violations at UN Council

José Gabriel Ramón Castillo (age 61) passed away on July 16, 2018 from a cirrhosis of the liver product of a hepatitis infection contracted while imprisoned in Cuba as a prisoner of conscience during the 2003 Black Cuban Spring. In 2009, shortly after his release from prison he addressed the UN Human Rights Council. Below is the statement and press release published in 2009 by the Cuban Democratic Directorate.

Geneva. June 10, 2009. Cuban Democratic Directorate. Former Cuban political prisoner José Gabriel Ramón Castillo addressed the 11th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday June 10, in order to denounce human rights violations on the Island.

“In the name of those thousands of Cubans who have been repressed and tortured, and whose fundamental rights are violated, I ask the Council to do justice for the Cuban people,” concluded Ramón Castillo’s remarks before the Council.

The statement, referred to as an intervention, took place during the open debate on the human rights situation on the Island, after the presentation of the final report on the Universal Periodic Review process carried out at the beginning of February, 2009

“The interventions by Ramón Castillo as well as by the representative for Human Rights Watch were critical and persuasive, despite the allegations against them before the Council made by the Havana regime’s ambassador,” stated John Suárez, director of International Relations for the Cuban Democratic Directorate (Directorio) who is attending the session in Geneva.

The activists were able to participate in this international forum thanks to the support of the Centrist Democrat International. The representatives of the cause for human rights in Cuba also held a press conference previous to the presentation in the Council chamber.

“It has been a marvelous experience to participate in this international dialogue where, once again, the regime resorted to rhetoric and its claims were laid bare thanks to the remarks we made and those by Human Rights Watch. It makes no sense for the regime to speak of human rights if it has not adhered to the covenants on civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights,” stated former political prisoner José Gabriel Ramón Castillo by telephone to Directorio.

José Gabriel Ramón Castillo met President Havel in 2009

 Below is the full text of José Gabriel Ramón Castillo’s statement before the Council:

June 2009.

Thank you, Mr. President:

My name is José Gabriel Ramón Castillo. I was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, and I testify before this forum as a victim of repression in Cuba. I will refer concretely to two points contained in the Responses provided by Cuba on the recommendations listed under paragraph 131 of the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Cuba (A/HRC/11/22) Adopted during the Fourth Session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review.

The ratification of the International Covenants on Civil, Political, Social, Economic, and Cultural rights is still a pending matter. My question concerning this- Will it be possible to put a date on definitive adherence to these Covenants? As long as Cuba does not ratify these Covenants, the human rights situation will continue to depend on the political will of the Government, and there is no guarantee whatsoever that the current situation will change.

On page 2, the aforementioned document indicates that “Cuba is a State Party to the Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments or punishments (CAT) from May 17, 1995 assures respect for the physical and spiritual integrity of persons. In the country there are no existing practices of torture or of other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments or punishments. Cuba has the effective national resources to ensure the rigorous application of the CAT.”

The reality is that in Cuba there are hundreds of political prisoners recognized by Amnesty International. Many are ill and do not receive treatment. Human rights defenders enter prison healthy and in a short time suffer serious illnesses as in the cases of, among others, Víctor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, Librado Linares García, Normando Hernández González, and Ariel Sigler Amaya, who has been left an invalid. In Cuba, there is physical and psychological torture, and I am a direct victim of these practices.

On page 8, the aforementioned document speaks of the self-determination of peoples, and economic, social, and cultural rights are mentioned. Nevertheless, the self-determination of Cuban workers is not respected in Cuba. Workers lack the right to organizer labor unions independently of the state, and 5 Cubans are currently in prison for attempting to organize independent labor unions. This has been well documented by the relevant international institutions.

The Council of Human Rights Rapporteurs of Cuba has documented 21 deaths in prison in 2009 due to denial of medical attention and/or psychological harassment. There have been 500 cases of arbitrary arrests and 26 imprisonments of human rights activists. Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leiva, executive director of the Council, as well as Julio Romero Muñoz of the Free Expression Solidarity Movement, have been persecuted for sending reports to the Universal Periodic Review Committee.

Mr. President, in the name of those thousands of Cubans who have been repressed and tortured, and whose fundamental rights are violated, I ask the Council to do justice for the Cuban people.

Thank you.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The failure of the UN Human Rights Council with regards to assessing human rights in Cuba

Exhibit A and B

Exhibit A

Exhibit B of the failure of the UN Human Rights system has been the failure of its mechanisms to provide an accurate assessment of the dismal human rights situation in the island.  Nor is there any mention of the Cuban government's involvement in gross and systematic human rights violations in Venezuela and Nicaragua. The final outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Cuba will be discussed and adopted on September 20, 2018 at the 39th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. The next time that such an examination of the island nation will take place will be in 2023. This examination will not reflect the human rights situation in the island. The Cuban government has corrupted and abused the process turning it into a circus. The Cuban government has flooded the compilation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with front groups celebrating the dictatorship's "human rights achievements" and drowned out the reports by legitimate NGOs.

The compilation provided by United Nations agencies is little better with organizations such as UNESCO providing praise for the dictatorship without taking a closer look at official claims on education and healthcare.

Finally the review itself is loaded up by the most repressive states in the world crowding out as much time with praise for the Cuban dictatorship in what amounts to a mutual protection society of the worse of the worse.

If one looks beyond the propaganda and diplomatic maneuvers to the facts then one finds that the government of Cuba has had and continues to have a terrible human rights record in the island.

Over the past four years that the Universal Periodic Review of Cuba carried out at the UN Human Rights Council should be reviewing that countries human rights record: students and professors have been expelled and fired for their political beliefs, non-violent dissidents have been imprisoned for exercising their freedom of expression or refusing to mourn the death of Fidel Castro, the Cuban human rights group, the Ladies in White, have been regularly harassed and physically abused for trying to exercise their right to freedom of association and other dissidents, including a blind dissident, have been victims of brutal violence, with the May 2015 machete attack of Sirley Avila Leon being one of the most dramatic. Not to mention that extrajudicial killings are still taking place.

Alejandro Pupo Echemendia beaten to death on August 9, 2018
Mr. Alejandro Pupo Echemendia was beaten to death by a government agent on August 9, 2018 while in police custody at the Placetas police station, in Las Villas Cuba. Family members were able to photograph the body of the victim at the General Hospital of Placetas "Dr. Daniel Codorniú Pruna". An eye-witness, human rights defenders, and family members have come forward to demand justice, and have been subjected to police harassment, threats, and arbitrary detentions by Cuban State Security to get them to change or withdraw their testimony. 

Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción, successor to martyred founding leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya, and unjustly jailed since November 30, 2016 was badly beaten, stabbed twice by three prisoners on December 19, 2017, and subjected to a political show trial, sentenced to three years in prison on March 20, 2017. The December attack with a sharp object was most probably engineered by Castro's State Security in order to permanently silence him. The seriousness of the attack was only learned on January 15, 2018 when his wife was finally able to visit him in prison and see the extent of his injuries.  His health has been worsening and he had been refused religious assistance.
Dr. Eduardo Cardet and his wife Yaimaris Vecino

On May 26, 2018 the Cuban government suspended visits to prisoner of conscience Eduardo Cardet, and his wife Yaimaris Vecino protested at the time: 
"Today, May 26, we went to the prison in Cuba Si, it was the visit that Eduardo's mother, his sister, my children and I scheduled, and they prevented us from seeing him, the prison authorities alleging  that Eduardo has given "false information" that according to them, the family is spreading and in retaliation suspended visits for six months." Yaimaris went on to say that "this is a new arbitrariness against Eduardo and I seriously fear for his physical integrity."
Thanks to the intercession of the Bishop of Holguin, Eduardo Cardet's family was able to finally visit him on September 13, 2018.  Four months without a visit and weeks without a phone call due to the Cuban government's efforts to silence Dr. Cardet's family's campaign for his release.

It is important to look back beyond the past four years and place them in context, and one should also look beyond the island.

This regime's bad actions extend to the international sphere at high profile venues such as the old United Nations Human Rights Commission and in the present United Nations Human Rights Council. The consequences of the regime's actions extend beyond Cuba and has had an impact on international human rights standards.

ARTICLE 19 and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) condemned a resolution that passed on March 28, 2008 which amended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, as per proposals from the Organisation of Islamic Congress (OIC) and the Cuban delegations eroding and undermining freedom of expression. Both NGOs condemned "the repeated misuse of the Human Rights Council (HRC) process to push for an agenda that has nothing to do with strengthening human rights and everything to do with protecting autocracies and political point scoring."

Consider how the Cuban government has dealt with dissenting voices. Frank Calzon, a Cuban national exiled in the United States, was Freedom House's Washington DC Representative at the UN Human Rights Commission from 1986 to 1997. The Cuban government slandered his good name accusing him repeatedly of being a CIA agent. This continued after Mr. Calzon left Freedom House.

In 2004 Freedom House denounced that "a Cuban delegate punched Mr. Calzon, knocking him unconscious. UN guards reportedly protected him from further assault by additional members of the Cuban delegation. The attack occurred shortly after the Commission passed a resolution critical of Cuba's human rights record." Other members of Freedom House had been subjected to threats and harassment at the UN Human Rights Commission.

If this is what Cuban diplomats do with the eyes of the world on them then what do you think they are doing to Cuban dissidents on the island away from the glare of the cameras?

Perhaps, one day when the current Human Rights High Commissioner is no longer occupying that post these realities will be taken into account instead of the $1,900 dollar donation that earned the dictatorship a positive plug on social media.

This will necessitate understanding how the idea of human rights transitioned from a call for individual liberty from despotic rule to an instrument to white wash tyrannical rule and oppressive regimes.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

International Day of Democracy: The Worst Form of Government

"Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…" - Winston Churchill, 11 November 1947
The International Day of Democracy has been celebrated by the United Nations every year since 2008 with today marking one decade of observing this day on September 15th. Democracy has been in retreat worldwide throughout these 10 years. Freedom House in its 2018 Freedom in the World Report subtitled it Democracy in Crisis, and the facts paint a somber picture.
"2017 was the 12th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. Seventy-one countries suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties in 2017, with only 35 registering gains. Once-promising states such as Turkey, Venezuela, Poland, and Tunisia were among those experiencing declines in democratic standards. The recent democratic opening in Myanmar was permanently damaged by a shocking campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya minority."
 Part of the crisis is due to the failure of democracies to distinguish between dictatorship and democracy. When the European Union describes the totalitarian communist dictatorship in Cuba as a "one party democracy" there is a big problem of fundamental understanding or a willful blindness to what is democracy. Cuba has a "parliament" that in practice is a rubber stamp of the Castro regime and not a deliberative or democratic body.

There is also a continuing romance with the lie that dictatorships can deliver better services to their population than democracies. For example, many cite the Castro regime's  healthcare system but fail to mention that Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, and Colombia have better healthcare than Cuba and did not have to sacrifice their democracies to provide it to their citizens. Furthermore, unlike Cuba where there is no independent press, in these other countries their healthcare systems are scrutinized, criticized, and subject to more accountability than they are in the Castro dictatorship.

Western Democracies made the decision to heavily invest in Communist China over the past thirty years and today the same Chinese dictatorship that killed over 45 million of its own people in the 20th Century has achieved great economic growth while maintaining its despotic nature and modernizing it for the 21st century. Empowering a brutal dictatorship, history has shown, is never a good idea.

There is another inescapable reality, that among the 20 countries with the highest standards of living in the world: 19 of them are full fledged democracies.  Churchill was right. Democracy is a terrible form of government except for all others.  (The United States ranks down at 17th on this list with Canada in first place).

Democrats need to remember the important of institutions, accountability and a free press as bulwarks of democracy and a free society. At the same time Democrats also need to be more discerning when dealing with dictatorships.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Ortega's hooded police wielding AK-47s arrest, hold incomunicado Amaya Coppens, a human rights defender and medical student in Nicaragua.

Family fears for her life.

Medical student Amaya Coppens arbitrarily detained in Nicaragua
Daniel Ortega's Sandinista regime in Nicaragua is murdering hundreds and is backed by the dictatorship of Cuba and Venezuela.  Torture is widespread, and a high ranking perpetrator is being promoted and given new responsibilities. The numbers are overwhelming and numbing. This is why it is necessary to focus on individuals such as Amaya Coppens.

Amaya Coppens, a fifth year medicine student at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de León in Nicaragua has been arrested and accused of "terrorism."

Amaya stands accused of having set fire to the university facilities known as the CUUN, which occurred on April 20. They also hold her responsible for attacking National Police officers with firearms, as well as for the burning and destruction of the Germán Pomares Ordoñez complex, a building in León where a delegation of the Attorney General's Office operated, the intendancy of the property and a winery of the Fotestal Agricultural Ministry. She was detained on Monday night, September 10, along with Sergio Alberto Midence Delgadillo by hooded police that used violence to detain them, and take them away in a van.

This is a fabrication.

Her real "crime" is being outspoken against the violence visited on peaceful protesters and belonging to the University Coalition for Democracy along with the Justice (CUDJ) and the Civic Alliance and Social Movements Network. She is the eighth member of the CUDJ to be arbitrarily detained in what is a campaign of harassment and repression against a dozen university organizations working together at the national level for a free Nicaragua.

The charges against Amaya are a smoke screen to cover up the serious crimes against humanity committed by the Ortega regime against scores of Nicaraguans.   

Amaya Evans Coppens is a human rights defender who is both Nicaraguan and Belgian.  Friends and family are concerned because her whereabouts are unknown. A slogan in Spanish reads: "Viva se la llevaron, via la queremos!" - Alive you took her, alive we want her back!  Sadly, since April 18, 2018 hundreds of Nicaraguans have been extrajudicially executed by Daniel Ortega's Sandinista regime, and thousands more mistreated and tortured.

This is another sign of the Cubanization of Nicaragua. The imprisonment of a medical student for her human rights activism is reminiscent of the case of medical doctor and family man, Eduardo Cardet jailed in a Cuban prison since November 30, 2016 for his support of a nonviolent democratic transition in Cuba and outspoken criticism of the legacy of Fidel Castro in that island nation. Dr. Cardet is an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience.  Amnesty International should look into the plight of Amaya Evans Coppens and past the smoke screen erected by the Ortega regime.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Nicolás Maduro ‏celebrates and embraces the legacy of Mao Ze Dong, the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century

Ideas have consequences. - Richard Weaver

Conservative estimates place the number of killed under Mao Ze Dong at 45 million
Venezuela since 1999 with the rise of Hugo Chavez has been on the path to Socialism of the 21st Century. Socialism of the 21st Century in practice looks a lot like Communism of the 20th Century. Chavez died in 2013 and was replaced in the Venezuelan Presidency by Nicolas Maduro who continued the project of turning Venezuela into a communist dictatorship. On September 9, 2018 over twitter Maduro praised the late Mao Ze Dong and embraced his legacy declaring "We shall prevail."

Mao Ze Dong "dignified the people of the countryside" by killing an estimated 45 million of them in his communist project throughout his dictatorial rule.  Ideas have consequences when they are turned into action and that is what we are witnessing in Venezuela today under the Maduro regime which has embraced the murderous legacy of the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century.

Human Rights Watch reports that "over 2.3 million Venezuelans out of an estimated 32 million total population have left their country since 2014, according to the UN." 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Cuban opposition group releases statement on 30th anniversary of its founding

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Charity and Patron of Cuba and the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of Cuba's Christian Liberation Movement (MCL). On Friday, September 7, 2018 Rosa Maria Rodríguez, member of the Coordinating Council of MCL, was interrogated and threatened for eight hours by the police because the Christian Liberation Movement had requested that a park in Havana be named after Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas. Last year at this time Hurricane Irma was pounding Cuba. Today the Castro regime continues its dictatorial rule over the island, but Cubans continue to fight for freedom. Below is the MCL statement on the thirtieth anniversary of their founding.


On September 8, 1988, a small but courageous handful of Cubans, composed of Oswaldo Payá, Ramón Antúnez, Dagoberto Capote, Santiago Cárdenas and Fernando Arvelo, inspired by their faith, the strength of their ideals and love for our country, founded the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), to work for the recovery of popular sovereignty and national reconciliation. 

 "Liberation is our purpose, liberation carried out by the people, who will not be a spectator of the moment in which their destiny is decided. We do not call all against each other, but all for a new Cuba. We reject violence, offense, lies and destruction as means of struggle. We do not believe that the end justifies the means. Our goal is to achieve freedom, justice and this is achieved only moved by love. Freedom is true only if it emanates from love. "

 Since then, many Cubans have joined the Christian Liberation Movement and have given their best for their Homeland. Some are no longer physically with us. Others have chosen different paths. Most of them have remained faithful to the principles and values ​​on which the MCL is based.They have spent 30 years walking together with the people. 30 years working hard for freedom and the rights for all Cubans. 30 years suffering persecution, imprisonment, exile and even the murder of their leaders.

Members of the Christian Liberation Movement in Hialeah, FL
Today, like 30 years ago, the future of Cuba appears dark. The Cuban regime, in a great political marketing maneuver, playing with the longings of change of the Cuban society, tries to make believe to the Cubans themselves and to the international community, that in Cuba a process of changes has been initiated. But they only seek to institutionalize the fake-change so often denounced by the Christian Liberation Movement, which has already cost the lives of its founder Oswaldo Payá and the youth leader Harold Cepero, as well as the imprisonment of its current National Coordinator Eduardo Cardet. 

We take this opportunity to call attention to the situation of Eduardo Cardet, who in 2014 was elected by the Coordinating Council of the MCL as Oswaldo Payá's successor to lead the Christian Liberation Movement. Cardet was detained 2 years ago with extreme violence in front of his wife and children, and once in the dungeon they continued to beat him while they kept him in handcuffs.

MCL: Regis Iglesias, Tony Díaz Sánchez, jailed leader Dr. Eduardo Cardet
In prison he has been attacked by common inmates, he was even the object of an assassination attempt encouraged by State Security itself. Eduardo is not given the medical attention he requires and he has also been banned from family visits for 6 months, as well as phone calls, for maintaining a firm position and not give up on his principles. In this way they also punish his family for reporting his situation. We also thank all the expressions of solidarity with Eduardo Cardet and his family received mainly from the international community.

 The majority of the Cuban people know that the political-military-financial oligarchy that governs the destinies of Cuba only seeks to apply make up to the existing reality to perpetuate itself in power. That is why the only horizon that many visualize is to escape from Cuba, to any place, in any way. Cubans are tired of being asked for sacrifices, while they lead a life of millionaires. "We Cubans are simple and we only want a life of love and peace, but we can not, we do not know and we do not want to live without freedom."

No more "rectification of errors". No more "updating" of the socioeconomic system. No more "experiments." Cubans are not laboratory rats. We are human beings, and as such we deserve respect for our dignity. "We Cubans have a right to rights."

It is time for Cuban society to demand and make the changes it wants and needs. And changes mean, in the current context, freedom and all rights for all Cubans. "We do not believe the erroneous and fatal omen that there is no other way but to lead a false and unworthy life. Faced with the fatal conjuncture of Socialism or Death, we proclaim the alternative of Freedom and Life. "

We reaffirm that it is up to Cubans and only Cubans to define and decide freely and democratically the future of Cuba, as an independent and sovereign country, without interventions or foreign interference, neither from the North, nor from the South, nor from the East, nor from the West.

Founding member of MCL Ramon Antunez recognized.
We remind the international community, with respect but also firmly, that sovereignty resides in the people, not in the government; and that the rights are held by the citizens, not the rulers. And as Oswaldo Payá expressed before the European Parliament, on the occasion of receiving the Andrei Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Conscience 2002, "dictatorships are not left or right, they are simply dictatorships". If some countries or groups of countries prefer, by promoting their own interests or geopolitical positions, to align themselves with those who for 60 years have oppressed and discriminated against their own people; we, the Christian Liberation Movement, as proclaimed by our founders 30 years ago, "will fight for our freedom, even alone, as in 1868 and 1895, even with the world against us. We do not need anyone's license in this world to claim the freedom that God gave to man. "

Once again, as we did 30 years ago, "we proclaim before the world our determination to conquer the freedom and full dignity of man, the sovereignty for the people and to build a new nation for all."

"All Cubans, all brothers and now freedom!"

September 8, 2018

XXX Anniversary of the Christian Liberation Movement

Original Spanish text here.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Cuban opposition organization, the Christian Liberation Movement, observes 30th anniversary

Cuba's liberation movement three decades later.

Thirty years ago on September 8, 1988 on the feast day of the Virgin of Charity in Cuba, a movement was born inspired by Christian teachings and the desire to be free.

The Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) will observe the 30th anniversary of its founding on Friday, September 7, 2018 at 7:00pm with a solemn mass in the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church located at 4497 W 1st Ave., Hialeah FL 33012. This is being done on the eve of the anniversary to avoid interfering in the celebration of the Virgin of Charity and Patron of Cuba the following day.

Regis Iglesias, the current MCL spokesperson abroad, joined the movement in its early days in 1989.
Some MCL members such as Jesus Mustafa Felipe have a long history of activism that predates the movement. Jesus Mustafa was initially a member of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights in the later 1980s and worked with Gustavo Arcos Bergnes, but after navigating through two other movements ended up in MCL in 1999, where he remains today.

Four years ago on September 8, 2014 Cuba's Christian Liberation Movement released a statement recalling their founding:
We were born there in the parish of the Cerro, one of the many neighborhoods of Havana. The background: The Circle of the Cerro. Then something more formal, The Circle of Cuban Christian Thought. This was banned and dissolved when it launched the first free Cuban publication, also prohibited, titled "People of God", proclaiming the source of liberation: when we said, "We must obey God before men", "Render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's, "But if God gives you Freedom, who is Cesar to take it away? "All men and women are my brothers and sisters." "We will not act violently or submit to violence," "You are my brother, I do not hate you, but I am not afraid of you."
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas described how the Christian Liberation Movement, a democratic opposition movement, came into existence and explained how it was related to the birth of his first child, Oswaldo José.
“When our first child was going to be born, we have three children, we said that our children cannot live in a country without liberty and we are not going to another country to seek freedom. Therefore we have to fight for our children to live free here in Cuba and everyone else's children and their parents too.”    
Oswaldo José was born on February 17, 1988 and the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) was founded that same year. 

Oswaldo Payá Antonio Diaz, and Regis Iglesias turn in petitions
On May 10, 2002, carrying 11,020 signed petitions in support of the Varela Project, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, Antonio Diaz Sanchez, and  Regis Iglesias Ramírez walked with the bulky card board boxes labeled Project Varela turning them into the Cuban National Assembly. The New York Times reported on this historic event:
"Two days before a historic visit to Cuba by the former President Jimmy Carter, human rights activists today delivered an extraordinary challenge to the Communist government of President Fidel Castro in the form of petitions signed by more than 11,000 people seeking greater freedom. The petition drive, known as the Varela Project, calls for a referendum under the terms of the Cuban Constitution on whether there should be more freedom of expression, an amnesty for political prisoners and a chance for ordinary citizens to own small businesses. The signed petitions were delivered this morning to the National Assembly, after supporters painstakingly verified each signature, in the most significant peaceful effort to bring reform to Cuba in four decades. ''All of these Cubans, who with great courage and sacrifice have signed Project Varela, are the social vanguard for peaceful change in Cuba,'' said Oswaldo Paya, who led the drive. He said changes in the rights of Cubans could only be achieved peacefully.
The three activists, members of the Christian Liberation Movement, would pay a high price, along with dozens of others, for advocating human rights reforms within the existing legal frame work in Cuba. In March of 2003 both Antonio Diaz Sanchez, and Regis Iglesias were arrested and subjected to political show trials and sentenced to long prison sentences. They would spend years in prison followed by forced exile.

 Oswaldo Payá was killed on July 22, 2012 along with the movement's youth leader Harold Cepero in what appears to have been a state security operation.

Despite the killings, the movement re-organized and elected a new national coordinator, Eduardo Cardet MD.  Dr. Cardet was arrested on November 30, 2016 and has suffered, beatings, a stabbing, and since May 2018 the denial of family visits for six months and more recently the denial of phone calls.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Diplomats in Cuba with brain injuries most likely victims of microwave weapons

Update on the sonic attacks against diplomats in Havana.

Brain injuries attributed to microwave attacks.
Doctors, scientists are now reporting that the diplomats injured in Havana beginning in 2016 and continuing through May of 2018 were most likely the victims of microwave weapons that caused their brain injuries.

Since August of 2017 this website has been following the story of the mystery surrounding U.S. diplomats at the Embassy in Havana, Cuba suffering serious and lasting injuries, including brain damage, that have had no easy explanation. In October of 2017 the President of the United States held Cuba responsible for the health attacks against American diplomats. The attacks had begun towards the end of 2016 in the waning days of the Obama Administration. A Senate Subcommittee hearing was held on January 9, 2018 investigating these health attacks along with testimony from State Department officials. Beginning in February of 2017 over 40 Americans were evacuated from Cuba due to these attacks over the next two months. New attacks occurred in Cuba in May of 2018 and in China in June of 2018.

In early October 2017 fifteen Cuban diplomats were ordered to leave the United States in reciprocity to the reduction in American personnel at the Embassy in Havana.

U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba