Saturday, April 27, 2019

Cuba's problematic legacy in Africa: A look back to Ethiopia and South Africa

 Revisiting the nonviolent end of the Apartheid regime, and Castro's genocidal crimes in Ethiopia
Castro with war criminal Mengistu in 1970s and Nelson Mandela in 1990s
April 27th is recognized as Freedom Day in South Africa. Today marks the 25th anniversary of the first post-apartheid elections held on that day in 1994. This presents a great opportunity to reflect on the role played by the Castro regime in Africa.

Nationalist narratives tend to glorify violent narratives, at the expense of successful nonviolent initiatives. In India for example, the 3,000 nationalists who joined ranks with Hitler and the Third Reich to fight the British get credit with speeding up Indian Independence.  However the millions who took part in nonviolent actions in Gandhi's movement get short shrift as the Hindu nationalists grow in power in India.

The same holds true in South Africa. Piero Gleijeses. a professor of American foreign policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies writing in The National Interest in 2014 gives a positive assessment of the Cuban intervention in Angola quoting Nelson Mandela that their victory “destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor ... [and] inspired the fighting masses of South Africa ... Cuito Cuanavale was the turning point for the liberation of our continent—and of my people—from the scourge of apartheid.”  For the record both sides claimed victory in the battle of Cuito Canavale.

Professor Gleijeses failed to look at the historical context, and Nelson Mandela's commitment to the violent overthrow of the Apartheid regime. In the case of South Africa the decision of the African National Congress to adopt violence as a means to end Apartheid in 1961 may in fact have prolonged the life of the racist regime by decades. It also led to Nelson Mandela spending decades in prison refusing to renounce his violent stand.

Sean Jacobs writing in The Guardian in 2016 repeats the same narrative portraying the Castro regime's agenda in Africa as anti-colonial and noble, but left out a massive Cuban intervention in Ethiopia that abetted war crimes and genocide.

Left to right: Ramiro Valdes, Raul Castro, Fidel Castro and Mengistu Haile Mariam

Fidel and Raul Castro were both deeply involved in sending 17,000 Cuban troops to Eastern Africa in order to assist Mengistu in consolidating his rule and eliminating actual and potential opposition. The last Cuban troops did not leave Ethiopia until 1989 and were present and complicit in the engineered famine that took place there. Also present was Ramiro Valdes, the founder of the Cuban secret police, who decades later would play an important role in Venezuela.

Human Rights Watch in their 2008 report on Ethiopia titled outlined "Collective Punishment War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia’s Somali Region" some of the practices carried out by Cuban troops sent there by Fidel and Raul Castro excerpted below
In December 1979, a new Ethiopian military offensive, this time including Soviet advisors and Cuban troops, “was more specifically directed against the population’s means of survival, including poisoning and bombing waterholes and machine gunning herds of cattle.”24 Militarily, the counter-insurgency operations succeeded in greatly weakening the insurgents or driving them across the border into Somalia.
Charles Lane of The Washington Post raised the issue of the Cuban role in Ethiopia's famine:
The last Cuban troops did not leave Ethiopia until September 1989; they were still on hand as hundreds of thousands died during the 1983-1985 famine exacerbated by Mengistu’s collectivization of agriculture. 
Mandela became a symbol of resistance, and later an agent of national reconciliation, but he was not the agent of regime change in South Africa.

UDF boycotted elections
It was not the armed struggle of the ANC that brought the Apartheid regime to the negotiating table but the United Democratic Front (UDF).  The history of how the Apartheid regime was brought to an end is often overlooked. This is the history of the UDF and the successful nonviolent struggle it carried out that is documented in A Force More Powerful:

 In the city of Port Elizabeth, Mkhuseli Jack, a charismatic 27-year-old youth leader, understands that violence is no match for the state's awesome arsenal. Jack stresses the primacy of cohesion and coordination, forming street committees and recruiting neighborhood leaders to represent their interests and settle disputes. Nationally, a fledgling umbrella party, the United Democratic Front (UDF), asserts itself through a series of low-key acts of defiance, such as rent boycotts, labor strikes, and school stay aways. 
Advocating nonviolent action appeals to black parents who are tired of chaos in their neighborhoods. The blacks of Port Elizabeth agree to launch an economic boycott of the city's white-owned businesses. Extending the struggle to the white community is a calculated maneuver designed to sensitize white citizens to the blacks' suffering. Beneath their appeal to conscience, the blacks' underlying message is that businesses cannot operate against a backdrop of societal chaos and instability. 
Confronted by this and other resistance in the country, the government declares a state of emergency, the intent of which is to splinter black leadership through arbitrary arrests and curfews. Jack and his compatriots, however, receive an entirely different message: the country is fast becoming ungovernable. Apartheid has been cracked. 
Undaunted by government reprisals, the UDF continues to press its demands, particularly for the removal of security forces and the release of jailed African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela. White retailers, whose business districts have become moribund, demand an end to the stalemate. The movement also succeeds in turning world opinion against apartheid, and more sanctions are imposed on South Africa as foreign corporations begin to pull out many investments. In June 1986, the South African government declares a second state of emergency to repress the mass action that has paralyzed the regime.
End of the Cold War coincides with End of Apartheid
The negotiations to end Apartheid began in 1990 after the collapse of the East Bloc and ended in 1991 the year the Soviet Union peacefully dissolved. The ANC no longer had the weapons and financial support provided by the Castro regime and Soviets from the 1960s into the early 1980s. There are those in South Africa who in 1989 mourned the passing of the Berlin Wall but if not for the end of the Cold War things may not have changed. Paul Trewhela in politicsweb offered the following analysis:
On 9 November 1989, twenty years ago, the Berlin Wall cracked open, the Cold War in Europe came to an end, the Soviet empire tottered to its grave and the ANC military option lost whatever teeth it might have had. The military/security state erected by the National Party never lost a centimeter squared of its soil. Umkhonto weSizwe, the military wing of the ANC and the South African Communist Party, never won a centimeter squared of soil. True, the repeated mass mobilizations and popular uprisings within South Africa through the Seventies and the Eighties placed a colossal strain upon the regime, and, true, the economic strain upon the state - especially in conditions of attrition exercised against it by the US banking system - placed it under further serious pressures. Nevertheless, honest accounting must say that, given the continuation of the Cold War system in Africa, this nuclear-armed state at its southern tip was nowhere near collapse.
The international situation that undermined the ANC's armed struggle combined with the successful nonviolent campaigns of the United Democratic Front (UDF) facilitated the end of Apartheid in South Africa.

In South Africa there was a far older tradition of nonviolence going back to 1893 - 1914 with Mohandas Gandhi's experiments with nonviolence against anti-Indian racism there. It was in South Africa on September 11, 1906 that the word Satyagraha came into existence. It is this legacy of nonviolence that has endured and gives hope for the future unfortunately abandoning it and embracing the false and violent narrative of Castroism and the ANC is a recipe for endangering South African democracy.

Meanwhile today in South Africa medical students join those of other African nations in protesting their treatment by both African and Cuban officials.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Aymara Nieto Muñoz: Courageous Cuban Woman and Mother of Three Faces Four Years in Prison for her Political Activism

Mother of three sentenced to four years in prison for her nonviolent political activism

Aymara Nieto Muñoz: Political prisoner and mom of three girls
The Municipal Court of Boyeros, in Havana, Cuba on April 25, 2019 confirmed a sentence of four years in prison for Aymara Nieto Muñoz. This mother of three young daughters is a member of the Ladies in White, a human rights movement that seeks freedom for all political prisoners in Cuba.

Aymara Nieto with her family back in September 2016
The first time I heard of Aymara Nieto was on September 20, 2015 when she along with three other activists risked everything to reach Pope Francis and receive his blessing. Scores of activists had been rounded up by the secret police to prevent them attending mass, but Aymara and three other activists managed to evade capture and one of them was able to reach His Holiness.

In April 2016 she was interviewed in the Sun Herald and spoke of what she was thinking on September 20, 2015 when she joined three others shouting freedom and sought the Pope's blessing. “In my heart, I was hurting,” Nieto said in an interview last week. “I was hurting watching my neighbors who didn’t have food for their children to eat. There is too much pain to see.”

Text of decision by Cuban court that reveals political nature of the trial
She was arbitrarily detained on July 12, 2016 and would not see her family in freedom again until July 12, 2017. She had been the victim of a political prosecution that punished her for speaking critically of the socialist system and passing out information.

Aymara Nieto with her mom when she returned home in July 2017
The next time Aymara was taken by the secret police she was beaten and tortured. Her crime: trying to be a poll watcher during a regime run vote on March 11, 2018. The effort to stop the poll watchers, although poll watching is permitted under current electoral law in Cuba, is an outrage.

Ladies in White leader Berta Soler tweeted that Cuban State Security "tortured Lady in White Aymara Nieto [placing her] under the sun, handcuffed inside a patrol car."  Targeting independent poll watchers was also  repeated by the secret police in 2019 during the so-called constitutional referendum. 

On May 6, 2018 the secret police raided Aymara's home, beat her up and  took her. Aymara by that time had joined the Cuba Decide Campaign initiative, was active in both UNPACU and the Ladies in White. She would remain in prison and be subjected to a political show trial and a sentence of four years imposed on this courageous woman.

She is not alone.

Five members of the Ladies in White are now unjustly imprisoned.
There are currently five members of the Ladies in White in prison in Cuba. They are Marta Sánchez, Nieves Matamoros, Yolanda Santana, Xiomara Cruz Miranda and Aymara Nieto. It is also important to remember that their founding leader, Laura Inés Pollán Toledo, died under suspicious circumstances on October 14, 2011.

Below is video from 2017 when Aymara went back home and was reunited with her family. Let us work together to see a second reunion. Please let others know of her plight and share the hashtag #FreeAymaraNieto.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Venezuela's Maduro and Ethiopia's Mengistu: Brothers in crimes against humanity.

History repeats itself.
Dictator spends years denying there is a humanitarian crisis in his country and orders the importation of high cost luxury items while people die of hunger. Eventually the outcry of the humanitarian catastrophe forces him to allow humanitarian assistance to enter his country, but after years of suffering for the populace. A music concert is held to raise awareness and funds for humanitarian assistance.

In 1985 for Ethiopia and 2019 for Venezuela concerts were held to save lives.
This is Venezuela  today with Nicolas Maduro, but it was also Ethiopia in 1984 under Mengistu Haile Mariam. Both shared two things in common: Marxism-Leninism and a close alliance with the Castro dictatorship that included thousands of troops and intelligence agents to assist them. The first shipment of Red Cross humanitarian aide finally arrived on April 16, 2019.  According to Reuters, the "United Nations estimates that a quarter of Venezuelans are in need of humanitarian assistance, with 1.9 million suffering from malnutrition and some 300,000 whose lives are at risk due to lack of medicine."
Fidel Castro lounging with Mengistu Haile Mariam, in Ethiopia in 1977
Famine is not due to inefficiencies in the system or incompetence but rather it is a feature of the system that uses hunger to consolidate political control and power.  This is why in 1984 in the midst of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians dying of hunger, Mengistu Haile Mariam was importing cases of Scotch Whisky and denying their was a crisis.

This is why over at least the past three years Maduro has denied there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and rejected aid shipments as war material or more recently an imperialist provocation. One should not be surprised if one looks at who he idolizes.  

Mengistu's portrait hangs alongside a banner with Marx, Engels and Lenin in Ethiopia
Last year Maduro celebrated the life of Chinese mass murderer Mao Ze Dong on the anniversary of his death. On Monday, April 22, 2019 he celebrated the birth of Russian mass murderer Vladimir Ilich Ulianov, known better by his revolutionary name of Lenin, over social media claiming that "Lenin continues today to be living history."

It is important to recall that famine was used as a political weapon in Russia, China, and Ethiopia under the communists. It is also important to remember that the Cubans played a role in the manufactured famine in Ethiopia and may be doing it again in Venezuela today.

The Spanish scholar George Santayana was right, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Campaign by American NGO to free Cuban parents jailed for home schooling their kids

Old patterns of repression continue to ensnare new generations in Cuba. 

Pastors Ramón Rigal and Ayda Expósito jailed for homeschooling their children
Pastor Ramón Rigal and his wife Pastor Ayda Expósito were found guilty in a Cuban court on April 22, 2019 for homeschooling their children Ruth and Joel.

Pastor Ramón Rigal has been sentenced to be deprived of his freedom for to two years. Pastor Ayda Expósito has been sentenced to one and a half years in prison. This news was provided by Ruth, their eldest daughter, to DIARIO DE CUBA.

Pastor Rigal already served a year in prison in 2017 for homeschooling his kids.

Pastor Ramon Rigal (on the right) served a year in prison in 2017 for homeschooling.
In Cuba not only are parents jailed for trying to home school their kids. Pastor Ramon Rigal was sentenced on April 25, 2017 to one year in prison for the "crime" of homeschooling his two children.

Cuban students have also been expelled from school for refusing to tow the official line.

Consider that for a moment. You can be kicked out of school for thinking independently, and then your parents can be jailed for trying to provide you with an education at home.

The Home School Legal Defense Association is campaigning for their release and has launched an online campaign to encourage the White House to intercede on their behalf.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Remembering Paul Hollander, a great scholar who saw through the propaganda techniques of totalitarians

You need ideology to commit large scale evil. - Paul Hollander

Paul Hollander, October 3, 1932 - April 9, 2019
The scholar Paul Hollander passed away on April 9, 2019 at his home in Northampton, Massachusetts. I had the honor of meeting him on November 8, 2017 after he gave a presentation on a panel titled, "The Bolshevik Revolution and the Establishment of the Soviet Union" which was part of a series of panels under the title: "Reflections on a Ravaged Century" an event organized by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. He was a good and kind man who took the time to answer some of my questions.

Totalitarians whether Nazi or Communist have a track record of effectively using tourism, athletic events, and academic exchanges to present their regimes in a way that historically legitimized them and covered up their hostile objectives often with disastrous results not only for their own countries but the international community as a whole. 

 An excellent accounting of these practices and their impacts on national and international politics is found in Paul Hollander's book Political Pilgrims that should be required reading for anyone traveling to Cuba, China, North Korea, Venezuela, or Vietnam. His book has had a great influence on me, and I look forward to reading his other works.

Requiescat in pace

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Remembering Nicaragua's Popular Uprising One Year Later

Remembering the student led protests in Nicaragua
Nicaragua is in mourning. Protests and repression mark one year of resistance.

One year ago in Nicaragua on April 18, 2018 long standing frustrations with the Sandinista regime of Daniel Ortega erupted across Managua in response to a "reform" of the pension system that reduced them for current recipients while raising the amount taken from salaries of current workers. At 5:00pm "Sandinista youth" and national police attack protesters, destroyed commercial establishments and took over the Central American University. The following day classes were canceled across the country and the government continued to call on the police and the Sandinista youth to counter-protest.

On Saturday, April 21, 2018 journalist Ángel Gahona was shot in the head while conducting a live broadcast of the protests in Bluefields, Nicaragua.

 Ángel Eduardo Gahona, killed while reporting protests
On Sunday, April 22, 2018 with over 25 confirmed dead Ortega rescinds the "reform." This would have ended the protests on April 18, 2018, but after the thuggish behavior of the regime combined with the wholesale violation of freedom of the press, freedom of expression and association the citizenry was aroused.
Tens of thousands protested against Ortega regime on April 28

On Tuesday, April 24, 2018 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States issued a statement in which they condemned "the deaths of at least 25 people in a context of repression of protests against plans to reform the social security system in Nicaragua." The IACHR also made known that "four TV channels that were reporting on the protests were taken off the air following government orders."

Photos of seven of the youth killed in Nicaragua during anti-government protests

The death toll would continue to mount over the upcoming days and weeks.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 was Mother's Day in Nicaragua, and it is a day traditionally of great celebrations across the country. Nicaraguan mothers marched on this day to remember the children, who were among the 80 killed since the start of the protests at that time. Pro-government para-police called "shock forces" and armed third parties fired on the non-violent demonstrators. Official reports are that 15 people were killed and 199 were injured in Managua, Estelí and Masaya.

Moms in Nicaragua peacefully protested for children killed by government.
By July 14, 2018 the Sandinista regime's campaign of extrajudicial killings and political terror to hang on to power had reached new lows. 350 Nicaraguans had been reported killed, 169 disappeared and 3,000 have been wounded by police agents since the protests began reported Nicaraguan student leader Victor Cuardas. At least 20 people were killed on July 8, the Economist reported, and reports of new killings flooded social media every day.

However one aspect that is not being widely reported is that Nicaraguan torture victims have disclosed hearing Venezuelan and Cuban accents in the regime's secret prisons. The Miami Herald quoted Nicaraguan student leader Victor Cuadras on July 13, 2018:
“Castro copied his recipe for repression and harassment in Venezuela, and now they are doing it in Nicaragua. There are many people who, while being tortured, heard the accents of Venezuela and Cuba in the clandestine prisons.”
Two day later the São Paulo Forum gathered in Havana, Cuba and backed Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista regime despite their slaughter of civilians. 

Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela
 Agence France Press reported on July 27, 2018 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.

Despite all of this the protests continued and students continued to put their lives on the lines. There are more than 600 identified political prisoners. On September 10, 2018 Amaya Coppens, a fifth year medicine student at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de León in Nicaragua was arrested and accused of "terrorism." She was arbitrarily detained along with Sergio Alberto Midence Delgadillo by hooded police that used violence to detain them, and taken away in a van. 

Amnesty International estimated that 322 Nicaraguans had been killed "as of September 18, 2018, most of them caused by gunshots to the head, neck, and torso."
Amaya Eva Coppens has been arbitrarily detained since September 10, 2018

The Committee of Concerned Scientists reported that on October 26, 2018 "she and 18 other women confined at La Speranza prison were attacked and beaten by over 20 unidentified, hooded men. None of the women received medical treatment. Four days following the attack members of the Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua accompanied by the Permanent Human Rights Commission attempted to visit the prison to observe the condition of the attacked prisoners but were denied entrance." Amaya Eva Coppens has both Nicaraguan and Belgian nationality. She remains arbitrarily detained in a Nicaraguan prison as of today.

Amnesty International has described the past year in Nicaragua as one of "brutal repression." They are not exaggerating. On April 17, 2019 police in riot gear disrupted a peaceful protest to mark the one year anniversary, and several dozen were arrested, according to news reports.

Across the United States acts of remembrance and protest are being carried out to demand freedom for Nicaragua and justice for Ortega's victims.

One year later and the opposition estimates the total number killed at more than 550. Other news accounts document that there have been "over 3,000 injured, dozens missing, more than 700 political prisoners and approximately 60,000 exiled due to the political persecution."

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Private property rights are also human rights: Title III of the LIBERTAD Act to finally be enforced after 23 years

In every civilized society property rights must be carefully safeguarded; ordinarily, and in the great majority of cases, human rights and property rights are fundamentally and in the long run identical. ~ Theodore Roosevelt (1910)

Ambassador Bolton addresses Cuban Americans at the Biltmore in Coral Gables.
The announcement today that the Trump Administration will no longer suspend Title III of the LIBERTAD Act, effective May 2 is good news. The right to bring an action under Title III of the LIBERTAD Act will be implemented in full. This means a chance for justice for property owners who had everything stolen from them.

Human rights and the rule of law exist in order to protect those without power from the abuse of the powerful. Today's decision means that victims of repression will be able to pursue justice through the courts, punish those trafficking in stolen property.

Even in the United States this concept has been eroded with the 2005 Supreme Court decision Kelo vs. City of London which ratified the right of using government power to condemn private homes to benefit a property developer.

However, in a communist state where the rule of law and human rights are not existent such as China for example Beijing has been described by Richard A. Epstein of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University as "Kelo-on-steroids: neighborhoods are ripped down as skyscrapers go up." The same holds true, albeit at a smaller scale, in Cuba.

In reality, property can be taken from one owner and given to another with greater political influence. What has until now been a de facto practice for decades will be given a legal veneer in order to give the rich, powerful and politically connected [i.e. the nomenklatura] in Cuba the right to plunder the island. Variations of this took place in Russia and China. A practice that has already been going on for years in Cuba. Now the Cuban communists are becoming the oligarchs of what will eventually be a post-Castro Cuba.

Cuba has played an important role in building dictatorship in Venezuela, and resisting efforts of a non-violent democratic restoration. The Castro regime's biggest export is the know how and personnel to destroy democracies and replace it with a system modeled after their repressive tyranny.

Changes are taking place in Cuba but they are going from bad to worse. Without the rule of law, respect for human rights and escalating violence against nonviolent activists, things are bound to worsen. However this step taken today by the White House empowers the weak from the arbitrary abuses of the powerful. This is why prominent dissidents in the island, risking 20 years in prison, are backing the initiative. The Ladies in White thanked Ambassador JohnBolton for his recognition and solidarity gesture with the Ladies in White over twitter, and added that "someday God will give us the opportunity to express it personally. #RevolutionIsRepression in #Cuba."

It also will constrain the ability of the Castro dictatorship to project itself throughout the region successfully undermining democracies as it has done in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. 

Today is a good day for freedom and the rule of law. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

April 13th is the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Katyn Massacre.

Memory is the mother of all wisdom. - Samuel Johnson 

The Soviet Union claimed to enter Poland in September of 1939 to "take care" of the people and seven months later beginning in April 1940 they had executed 22,000 Polish officers and buried them in mass graves in what became known as the Katyn Massacre.

Today is the day of remembrance for the victims. Let us remember and place this crime into its historic context.

On September 17, 1939 with "between 600–650,000 soldiers and over 5,000 thousand Red Army tanks  [of the Soviet Union] invaded the Second Polish Republic, which had been fighting against German aggression since 1 September."

The Soviet Union "invaded Poland on the pretext that ‘the Polish country and its government ceased to exist’. Consequently, ‘the USSR had to take care of the people who lived in Western Ukraine and Western Belarus and their possessions’ as the Soviet propaganda referred to the eastern regions of the Second Polish Republic." ... " About 230,000 [Polish] soldiers and officers and thousands of military service representatives were taken captive by the Bolsheviks."

The reality was that the Soviets had entered into a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany that included secret protocols dividing up Poland. Nazi and Soviet troops met in the middle of Poland and exchanged pleasantries in September of 1939.

Nazi and Soviet soldiers greet one another in Poland (1939)
The Soviet precursor to the KGB was the NKVD. "From October 1939, the delegated NKVD officials from Moscow heard the prisoners, encouraged them to cooperate and collected data. Only a few of the prisoners agreed to collaborate. The commanding officers’ reports included opinions about hostile attitudes of the Poles and a minimal chance of them being useful to the USSR authorities."

The decision to shoot the prisoners was signed on March 5, 1940 by seven members of the All- Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) authorities: Joseph Stalin, Lavrentiy Beria (proposer), Kliment Voroshilov, Vyacheslav Molotov, Anastas Mikoyan, Mikhail Kalinin and Lazar Kaganovich.

The lists of those sent to death were to be prepared and signed by Piotr Soprunienko, commander-in-chief of the Prisoners of War Board of People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs, which was created by the order of Beria in September 1939

In the Spring of 1940 the Soviet secret police began to shoot the prisoners in the back of the head or in the neck and burying them in mass graves.
On 3 April, the first prisoners from Kozelsk were transported in cattle trucks through Smolensk to Gniezdovo, where smaller groups were transported by prison cars commonly called ‘czornyje worony’ (‘black ravens’) to the wilderness called Kozie Gory in Katyn Forest. The functionaries of the NKVD killed each person by shooting in the back of the head. By 11 May, 1940, 4,421 Polish citizens had been killed and buried in Katyn death pits. There is an assumption that some officers had been killed in Smolensk28.
The first group of prisoners from Starobelsk camp was transported to the headquarters of the Board of Kharkov NKVD district on 5 April 1940. Every night in the basement of the building in Dscherschinski Street executioners killed prisoners by shooting in the neck. The trucks carried the bodies to the pits in Forest Park in Kharkov, a kilometer and a half to Piatykhatky village. By 12 May 3,820 Polish citizens had been killed in Kharkov29.
Kalinin (Tver)–Miednoye
On 4 April, 1940, the NKVD started to send prisoners from Ostashkov to the headquarters of the Board of Kalinin NKVD district (today’s Tver) at 6 Soviet Street. The executions took place in the basements. The same method of killing was used: a shot to the neck. In the mornings trucks carried the bodies to the pits in Miednoye village, 30 kilometers further away. By 22 May, 1940, 6,311 Polish citizens had been killed in Kalinin. What is worth mentioning when it comes to the Katyn lie, is that the territory of Miednoye cemetery has never belonged to Germany30.
Polish authorities built war cemeteries at the places where the officers’ bodies had been buried. The cemeteries were officially opened in the year 2000. (in Kharkov on 17 June, in Katyn on 28 July and on 2 September in Miednoye)31.
Only 395 people from the three camps survived. Some of them owed their rescue to pure chance. Several people were willing to fight on the Soviet side in case of German invasion. There were also agents among them, the same ones as the NKVD had in the camps. The officers who were arrested in the camps and transported to NKVD Lubyanka prison in Moscow also managed to escape death in the summer of 194032.
The Guardian summed up the crime as follows: "Joseph Stalin ordered his secret police to execute 22,000 Polish army officers and civilians in 1940, in one of the greatest mass murders of the 20th century."

After decades of blaming the crime, on the Nazis, their allies at the time, the Russian parliament, the State Duma, on November 26, 2010 took another important step forward in finally acknowledging something the entire world already knew: “the Katyn crime was committed on direct orders from Stalin and other Soviet leaders.

The first book in English on the Katyn Massacre was published in 1951. In the U.S. Congress  the Madden Committee conducted an exhaustive investigation in 1952 that concluded that the Soviet Union had committed the atrocity.

German Foreign Minister Von Ribbentrop, Joseph Stalin, & his foreign minister, Molotov

Providing context
Eighty years ago on August 23, 1939 the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact was made public. It was a Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact with secret protocols setting out how the two regimes would divide Poland and the Baltic States.

World War 2 would begin with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany less than a month later on September 1, 1939. The Soviet Union invaded Poland from the East on September 17, 1939. The double invasion is dramatized in Andrzej Wajda's 2007 film Katyn.

On March 5, 2019 the Russian human rights group Memorial launched a crowdfunding campaign to to have the victims of the 1940 Katyn massacre published in a Russian Book of Memory.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Update on Congolese Medical Students in Cuba: Following attack by police they publish letter apologizing

Do you have to still apologize when they defame you, beat you, set dogs loose to attack you, and point guns at you?
These are who the Cuban official press describes as having "staged a violent riot."

On Monday a large number of secret police gathered to violently put down a student protest at the Salvador Allende School of Medical Sciences in Havana, Cuba. There had been rising tensions among Congolese medical students who had been kept in poor conditions, and not been provided with their scholarship funds for over two years.  Images of the students being attacked with clubs and dogs by Cuban police appeared in news coverage.

Today, in Prensa Latina, the Castro dictatorship's official press, responded with an Orwellian report with the headline "Congolese Medicine Students Apologize to Cuba."  The report claims that the students released a statement in an online letter claiming that their words were being taken out of context to defame "the Cuban people." However that same Prensa Latina article defames the students when the official press writes:
"The future doctors started a protest several days ago to demand from the Government of the Republic of Congo the payment of 27 months late in the stipend, and staged a violent riot on Monday, which forced the Cuban law enforcement authorities to act."
Videos of what transpired showed a peaceful assembly that turned into chaos when the police began attacking the medical students, beating them with sticks, setting dogs loose on them, and pointing a gun at one student who had his hands up.

Could it be that what we are witnessing in action is an aphorism stated in 1980 by the late Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas: “The difference between the communist and capitalist systems is that, although both give you a kick in the ass, in the communist system you have to applaud, while in the capitalist system you can scream.”

Police crackdown on students who peacefully assembled and call it a riot.