Saturday, November 30, 2019

Castro rounded up Gays in the 1960s and HIV positive people in the 1980s, and both times it was wrong.

“We would never come to believe that a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct that would enable us to consider him a true revolutionary, a true communist militant.” ... A deviation of that nature clashes with the concept we have of what a militant communist should be.” - Fidel Castro, 1965

Pride March shut down by Castro regime's state security on May 11, 2019
The state of Academia in the United States grows more worrisome each year. Imagine for a moment a graduate student in Bioethics and a Professor of Practice in Global Health defending a totalitarian dictatorship rounding up individuals with an illness that is not casually transmitted, while using deceptive propaganda that led others to contract the disease in order to get preferential housing conditions.  Morris Fabbri and Kearsley A. Stewart of Duke University in their November 29, 2019 OpEd "Cuba quarantined people with HIV. It was controversial, but it worked" have done just that in the Tampa Bay Times. Their essay also overlooks both the decades long history of the Cuban government's persecution of Gays and falsifying statistics, and jailing doctors and reporters in order to cover up epidemics.

Cuban government officials inoculated him with HIV in 2018.
 HIV-AIDS is present in Cuba and according to Avert,a UK-based charity that has been providing accurate information about HIV worldwide for over 30 years, "nearly 90% of new infections in the Caribbean in 2017 occurred in four countries - Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica." Worse yet, on Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, a scientist, dissident, and former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience publicly accused the Cuban government on November 27, 2019 of having intentionally inoculated him with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) while he was in the prison ward of the Abel Santamaría Hospital last year in Pinar del Río.

It is important to look at the wider context. 

The hostility to Gays began early and from the top. On March 13, 1963 Fidel Castro gave a speech were he openly attacked “long-haired layabouts, the children of bourgeois families,” roaming the streets wearing “trousers that are too tight,” carrying guitars to look like Elvis Presley, who took “their licentious behavior to the extreme” of organizing “effeminate shows” in public places. The Cuban dictator warned: “They should not confuse the Revolution’s serenity and tranquility with weaknesses in the Revolution. Our society cannot accept these degeneracies.”

In 1964 the Cuban government began rounding up Gays and sending them to 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.

This history should be taken into account when considering the Cuban quarantine of HIV positive Cubans from 1986 to 1997. In the early days of the AIDS epidemic it was associated with the Gay community. Furthermore the claim that HIV rates are lower in Cuba should also be taken with a grain of salt when considering the failure to report on other outbreaks.This is motivated by their need to justify the existence of the dictatorship with supposed successes in health care.

The statistics and numbers that the international community has access to with relation to the Cuban healthcare system have been manipulated by the Castro regime. Katherine Hirschfeld, an anthropologist, in Health, Politics, and Revolution in Cuba Since 1898 described how her idealistic preconceptions were dashed by 'discrepancies between rhetoric and reality.' She observed a repressive, bureaucratized and secretive system, long on 'militarization' and short on patients' rights

In 1997 when a Dengue epidemic broke out in Cuba the dictatorship tried to cover it up. When a courageous doctor spoke out he was locked up on June 25, 1997 and later sentenced to 8 years in prison. Amnesty International recognized Dr. Desi Mendoza Rivero as a prisoner of conscience. He was released from prison under condition he went into exile in December of 1998. The regime eventually had to recognize that there had been a dengue epidemic.  

In 2012 a cholera outbreak in Cuba presented an opportunity to see how the Cuban public health system operates. News of the outbreak in Manzanillo, in the east of the island, broke in El Nuevo Herald on June 29, 2012 thanks to reporting by the outlawed independent press in the island. Official media did not confirm the outbreak until days later on July 3, 2012. BBC News reported on July 7, 2012 that a patient had been diagnosed with Cholera in Havana. The dictatorship stated that it had it under control. Independent journalist Calixto Martínez was arrested on September 16, 2012 for reporting on the Cholera outbreak, and declared an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience.

Calixto Martinez: Journalist and prisoner of conscience
In July 2013 an Italian tourist returned from Cuba with severe renal failure due to Cholera. New York high school teacher Alfredo Gómez contracted cholera during a family visit to Havana during the summer of 2013 and was billed $4,700 from the government hospital. A total of 12 tourists have been identified who have contracted cholera in Cuba. 

The publication New Scientist reported on January 8, 2019 that "thousands of Zika virus cases went unreported in Cuba in 2017, according to an analysis of data on travelers to the Caribbean island. Veiling them may have led to many other cases that year."

Rounding up people with HIV in Cuba did not work, and worse yet, according to the above mentioned OpEd the government propaganda was so effective that some Cubans injected themselves with HIV to go into quarantine. The Cuban government has a long track record of repression against Gays and Lesbians, faking health statistics, and covering up epidemics. Repeating Cuban government propaganda is not only a disservice to the truth, but in this case endangers lives.

However on top of a poor analysis, that ignores years of repression against Gays that has continued to the present day and a horror show with regards to public health, the authors are guilty of bad timing with the announcement two days earlier alleging that the Cuban government infected a dissident in 2018 with the HIV virus. 

April 11th marked the 35th anniversary of the release of Improper Conduct, the film that exposed communist intolerance to Gays and Lesbians in Cuba, and documents what happened during the first 30 years of the Castro regime.  Hopefully,  Morris Fabbri and Kearsley A. Stewart will view the documentary to obtain a broader vision of what is really happening in Cuba.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Xiomara de las Mercedes Cruz Miranda Update: Lady in White and Cuban prisoner of conscience dying

She needs a humanitarian visa to get treatment

Xiomara de las Mercedes today
Xiomara de las Mercedes Cruz Miranda is a Lady in White and Cuban prisoner of conscience who is deathly ill. Due to the seriousness of her illness she was placed on a prison furlough on August 10, 2019. This is to avoid the bad press of another Cuban prisoner of conscience dying in prison. However her health continues to deteriorate and there is a campaign underway, led by the Ladies in White, for her to be granted a humanitarian visa to obtain medical care abroad.

Xiomara was arrested on April 16, 2016 for speaking out during a human rights demonstration in Havana's Central park. She was placed on parole in January of 2018. She was re-arrested in mid-September 2018 under the charge of being "threatening." On September 19, 2018 she was tried and sentenced to one year and four months in prison. She was sent to a prison 400 kilometers from her home. This was an added hardship for her family to visit her, and keep an eye on her well being.

Xiomara was sent to a punishment cell for at least 10 days for speaking to her daughter over the phone. Apparently, officials did not like the content of their conversation.

Xiomara de las Mercedes Cruz Miranda before and during her jailing.
On August 8, 2019 she was transferred to intensive care. Cuban dissident Angel Juan Moya posted videos of interviews from August 6th and August 7th with doctors at the hospital. Family members complained that they are receiving differing diagnoses and her situation continues to worsen. Xiomara was in intensive care and doctors were saying that it could be lung cancer. A doctor refused to update the family saying: "that he did not want to see those people."

Their is cause for great concern. Xiomara's condition is deteriorating, and one of the doctors raised the issue of a "political" question. Cuban healthcare has a long history of being subordinated to political considerations. The health of the patient is not the top priority.

This is why a humanitarian visa and medical care abroad to ascertain what his happening to her is a necessity.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Truth Squad: The Castro legend is a lie.

Breaking news. Fidel Castro is still dead.

Fidel Castro in April 2016
Three years ago, on a Black Friday that fell on November 25, 2016, Cuban tyrant Fidel Castro died at the age of 90 never having had to answer for his many crimes against humanity both in and out of Cuba. From Nicaragua, to Ethiopia, to Venezuela, and in many other places the Castro regime assisted tyrants and dictators to hold on to and consolidate their power.  One day later in a blog post I predicted what would come next. 
"Predictably over the next few weeks inside Cuba the world will see spectacles organized by the totalitarian dictatorship to "mourn the great leader." The regime has already started with nine days set aside for official mourning. This will not be the first time that monsters are mourned by an oppressed people through different methods of command, control and manipulation. The world has witnessed it before in the Soviet Union in 1953 and more recently in North Korea with the Kim dynasty. The death of Stalin as dramatized in the film "The Inner Circle" is recommended viewing for those about to follow the circus in Cuba in the wake of Fidel Castro's death.  Meanwhile in Cuba as the regime prepares its state funeral the Castro dictatorship's secret police begin to make threats, round up and take dissidents to undisclosed location and commit acts of violence." 
What was not mentioned today is the role played by the United States government and The New York Times in undermining Fulgencio Batista's rule and bringing Fidel Castro to power.

Inconvenient Truth #1: Castro, not Batista, was backed by the United States in 1958.
On March 17, 1958 Fidel Castro's candidate for provisional president Manuel Urrutia, along with a delegation of other supporters in exile of the future Cuban dictator's July 26th movement, met with officials at the State Department. They lobbied the U.S. government and argued that arms shipments to Cuba were for hemispheric defense, and they claimed that Batista using them against Cuban nationals was in violation of the conditions agreed to between the two countries. 

News of the arms embargo on the Batista regime broke in The New York Times on April 3, 1958, the psychological blow was delivered, but the United States went further.

Earl E. T. Smith,  the U.S. ambassador to Cuba, on December 17, 1958 delivered a message from the State Department to Fulgencio Batista that the United States viewed "with skepticism any plan on his part, or any intention on his part, to remain in Cuba indefinitely."  The U.S. government had dealt Batista a mortal blow, and fourteen days later the Cuban government fell. President John Kennedy shared this view according to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in a 1964 interview:
“We knew Earl Smith then, who’d been Eisenhower’s ambassador at the time,” said Jackie in the tapes featured in the book Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy. “When we were in Florida—that’s all Earl could talk about. Yeah, then Jack was really sort of sick that the Eisenhower administration had let him [Castro] come in and then The New York Times—what was his name, Herbert Matthews?” 
Beginning in 1957 Herbert Matthews built up Fidel Castro's image both inside and outside of Cuba with a series of misleading articles in The New York Times. In July of 1959 Matthews reported: "[t]his is not a Communist Revolution in any sense of the term. Fidel Castro is not only not a Communist, he is decidedly anti-Communist." Anthony De Palma has written a book on Herbert Matthews titled, "The Man Who Invented Fidel" and describes how his heroic portrayal of Fidel Castro influenced the fall of the Batista dictatorship and the consolidation of the future dictator as a national figure.

Inconvenient Truth #2: Cubans did not want a communist revolution in 1959.

Cubans had a better standard of living in pre-Castro Cuba.
Fidel Castro in the 1950s repeatedly claimed that he was not a communist because he knew that advocating a communist revolution would lead Cubans to abandon him. On December 2, 1961 he explained his reasoning.

"If we had paused to tell the people that we were Marxist-Leninists while we were on Pico Turquino and not yet strong, it is possible that we would never have been able to descend to the plains."

On March 26, 1964, after announcing that he had always been a Marxist Leninist, Castro explained: "I conceive the truth in terms of a just and noble end, and that is when the truth is truly true. If it does not serve a just, noble and positive end, truth, as an abstract entity, philosophical category, in my opinion, does not exist." Jose Ignacio Rasco, who knew Fidel Castro from school and afterwards concluded that the Cuban revolutionary had been a committed communist by 1950.

Castro copied Lenin. The first leader of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin on October 2, 1920 in a speech to Russian communist youth stated:  

"The class struggle is continuing and it is our task to subordinate all interests to that struggle. Our communist morality is also subordinated to that task. We say: morality is what serves to destroy the old exploiting society and to unite all the working people around the proletariat, which is building up a new, communist society." 
Lenin also addressed the necessity of the lie observing: "'To speak the truth is a petit-bourgeois habit. To lie, on the contrary, is often justified by the lie's aim." 

In 1959 Castro was promising the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Cuba – the exact opposite was done. Mass executions were broadcast and filmed to terrorize the population. While young dictator claimed to be a defender of freedom of expression, independent newspaper editors, were first warned that their lives were at hazard if they wrote critically against the revolutionary regime and by May 13, 1960 all independent newspapers in Cuba were shutdown.  They were replaced with regime publications subordinated to the communist party line. The same was done with all radio and television stations. This took place while Cuba and the United States had normal diplomatic relations. Relations did not end until January 3, 1961

Inconvenient Truth #3: Castro sought the violent overthrow of Venezuela's social democracy
Venezuelan President-elect Rómulo Betancourt meets Fidel Castro in 1959
Fidel Castro visited President Rómulo Betancourt in Venezuela on January 23, 1959 assuming that he would find an ally. President Betancourt, was a man of the left, the first democratically elected president of Venezuela following the fall of the military dictatorship of Marcos Pérez Jiménez in 1958. He had met Castro in 1948, and at the time both agreed that Latin America had to change.

But in 1959 Castro met a Venezuelan leader who, over the years, had become critical of communism, a leader who even in the 1930s had said that he "did not agree with the interference of the Soviet Union in European countries."  During this visit Betancourt recommended that Cuba not fall into the hands of the Soviet Union and that Castro hold free elections. In 1963, the Congressional Quarterly reported how Fidel Castro responded to these recommendations:

"Riots led by Communists and other pro-Castro elements in Caracas [in the autumn of 1960] took the lives of 13 persons and injured 100. Venezuela recalled its ambassador to Cuba, and Betancourt ordered out the army to end the rioting, which he termed an attempt to “install a regime similar to that in Cuba.”
In 1961 Venezuela broke relations with Cuba and became one of the promoters of the exclusion of the island from the OAS, which was achieved in January 1962."

Cuban Communist leader Blas Roca, told a Havana rally on January 23, 1963 that when the communists gained full control and “make themselves owners of the great riches in oil, aluminum and everything their earth imprisons, then all of America shall burn.”  A cache of three tons of weapons was found on a Venezuelan beach in November 1963 that was to be used to disrupt the democratic elections there. 

Cuban armed aggression in Venezuela
Castro would continue to agitate for revolution in Venezuela. On May 8, 1967 Francisco Toro in The Washington Post reported how: "two small boats carrying a dozen heavily armed fighters made landfall near Machurucuto, a tiny fishing village 100 miles east of the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. Their plan was to march inland and recruit Venezuelan peasants to the cause of socialist revolution." An all night gun battle with the Venezuelan military led to nine guerrillas dead, two captured, and one who had escaped.

Inconvenient Truth #4: Under Castro the standard of living in Cuba collapsed

In 1959 Cuba's per-capita GDP  was second only to Chile and was doing better than Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Panama. In 2015 Cuba lagged well behind the other four countries. It would be fair to say that in economic terms, despite billions in Soviet and Venezuelan subsidies that the past six decades have been a disaster for Cuba.  

Political scientist Jaime Suchlicki wrote an essay for the Cuban Studies Institute on November 14, 2019 titled "Impact of Socialism in Cuba" about how this economic disaster began in Cuba. 
"One of the first economic measures introduced by the Castro revolution after 1959 was the 50% reduction in rents people paid for apartments and single-family residences. This Urban Reform Law was hailed as a victory for the lower and middle classes, and a measure that would stimulate the economy since now renters would have more money to spend. 
The result was very different. The law had a snowballing effect on the economy. Investors in apartments and commercial real estate refused to further invest. The real estate industry was paralyzed. Cement plants, plumbing companies, wood manufacturing, electronic factories and many more related enterprises closed, many went bankrupt. The economy entered a period of stagnation which never to recovered."
Political scientist Samuel Farber, writing in Jacobin in 2018 described the full nationalization campaign by the Castro regime in 1968.
"Castro initiated what he called the Revolutionary Offensive, a project aimed at totally nationalizing the island’s economy. The state had already taken over large and middle-sized businesses in 1960, but family-owned operations remained in private hands.
Within sixteen days of the announcement, the official press reported that 55,636 small businesses had been nationalized, including bodegas, barber shops, and thousands of timbiriches (“hole-in-the-wall” establishments). The Revolutionary Offensive gave Cuba the world’s highest proportion of nationalized property. According to Cuban economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago, some 31 percent of these small businesses were retail food outlets, and another 26 percent provided consumer services, like shoe and auto repair. Restaurant and snack shops represented another 21 percent; 17 percent sold clothing and shoes. The rest (5 percent) were small handicraft establishments that manufactured leather, wood products, and textiles. Half of these small businesses were exclusively owner- and family-operated and had no employees. Shortly after nationalization, the state closed one-third of the small enterprises. The only private activity left in Cuba was small-farm agriculture, where 150,000 farmers owned 30 percent of the land in holdings of less than 165 acres each.

One of the Revolutionary Offensive’s goals was to shut down the many thousand bars in Cuba, both private- and state-owned. The regime wanted them closed not because of opposition to alcohol but because it believed the bars fostered a prerevolutionary social ambiance, antithetic to the Castro government’s militaristic, ascetic, anti-urban campaigns to forge the “New Man.”
Havana after decades of neglect by the Castro regime.
Fidel Castro's legacy is 60 years of dictatorship, firing squads, extrajudicial killings, the massacres of fleeing refugees, exporting his failed model elsewhere and the propaganda machinery that covers up these crimes and the bankruptcy of Castroism.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Castro regime continues to modernize repression while Europe signals its not a problem

Bad week for human rights in Cuba.
Ladies in White continue to be regularly repressed in Cuba.
This has not been a good week for human rights in Cuba. On November 20, 2019 the Swedish Parliament approved the appalling EU-Cuba Agreement. Now there are just two countries (Lithuania, and the Netherlands) that are preventing ratification of this agreement. Meanwhile a new law was made public in Cuba codifying the police state of the Castro regime.
Civil Rights Defenders, a Swedish NGO that defends human rights around the world, tweeted the bad news in Spanish on November 21st and the message it sends to the Castro dictatorship.
The parliament of Sweden approved the EU-Cuba agreement yesterday. It is a pity, given that there are currently serious human rights violations in Cuba. This decision gives the signal to the Cuban government that disrespect for human rights is not a problem.
The EU-Cuba agreement divided Sweden's political parties and until this past week a majority had refused to ratify it. The Centre Party, Liberals, Sweden Democrats and Christian Democrats voted again against the agreement, but the Left Party and unexpectedly the conservative Moderates voted for it. This is terrible news for Cuban human rights defenders.

Rosa María Payá in an open letter Civil Rights Defenders published on October 2, 2019 warned that "European governments abandoned their previous position, the EU Common Position on Cuba [brought into force] in 1996, that condemned human rights violations, demanded democratic reforms in Cuba and kept their embassies on the island open to opposition activists and members of independent civil society, but that [today's position] is used by the Cuban government to try to legitimize its actions."

The European Union established a Common Position in 1996 with respect to Cubathat was consonant with fundamental EU values as expressed below:
“The objective of the European Union in its relations with Cuba is to encourage a process of transition to pluralist democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as a sustainable recovery and improvement in the living standards of the Cuban people. A transition would most likely be peaceful if the present regime were itself to initiate or permit such a process. It is not European Union policy to try to bring about change by coercive measures with the effect of increasing the economic hardship of the Cuban people. The European Union considers that full cooperation with Cuba will depend upon improvements in human rights and political freedom”
Unfortunately, it was the Obama Administration's Cuba policy announced on December 17, 2014 and the President's official state visit in March 2016 that both negatively impacted international solidarity and human rights in Cuba that included Europe. The decision of the European Union to "open a new chapter" on relations with Cuba that dropped human rights as a condition for normalization ended the 1996 European Common Position. This abandonment of a linkage between human rights and commerce was formalized in a December 12, 2016 signing ceremony.

WiFi symbol in Havana, Cuba. Photo by Nano Anderson, Flickr CC License BY 2.0.
Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic the same signal was being given by the White House and tech firms such as GoogleCuban civil society organizations gathered in Puerto Rico in 2016 to condemn Google for siding with their oppressor.
"Denounced the indifference of the company Google in violation of its code of corporate conduct and demanded that it establish a correct policy to provide wireless internet service with no censorship and without dependence on the regime in benefit of the Cuban people."
On December 13, 2016 Google signed an agreement with the Castro regime to speed up faster access to the "companies branded content." Marta Dhanis, a news correspondent, visited Cuba to investigate if there had been an improvement in internet access, following Google's partnering up with the Cuban dictatorship. 
Google's Eric Schmidt signs agreement with the Castro regime in December 2016
She talked to Cubans in the island and wrote the January 25, 2017 article, "Google entering Cuba is 'Trojan Horse' that could reinforce regime, residents say." A Cuban academic outlined what the internet was becoming in the island:
“We call the internet a ‘Trojan Horse.’ The success of this government has been possible thanks to the people’s lack of information,” said a 57-year-old retired professor who requested anonymity for fear of retribution by the communist regime. “I would have a patrol car at my door tomorrow to monitor my life,” he said. On the other hand, he and others contend, this Trojan Horse is also providing the communist regime with technology that will empower the secret police with detailed reports of the users’ searches and profiles, right down to their location.
Civil Rights Defenders is right that the signal has been given to the Cuban government that disrespect for human rights is not a problem for the European Union.

Cuban dissident Cuesta Morua in a video tweeted by Civil Rights Defenders, on October 2, 2019 stated that "since 2016 when the deal was signed between the European Union and Cuba the human rights situation has worsened." Interviewed in the Swedish publication, Aftonbladet, Manuel Cuesta Morúa explained that “this is the chance to demand democratic reforms, but it isn’t being taken.” The Cuban dissident also explained that Sweden will be missing an opportunity to demand democracy in Cuba, if the EU-Cuba deal is approved.

National Revolutionary Police pat down Cuban attending Rolling Stones concert
Cuba is a totalitarian dictatorship that has systematically violated human rights and privacy since 1959. However, in today's international environment the regime feels more comfortable in unveiling on November 18, 2019 how it purportedly spies on 11 million Cubans and uses a system of informants without any judicial oversight. (Extrajudicial killing of non-violent opponents, the use of physical and psychological torture are still not admitted to in the "new" government decree.) 

Cuba is a surveillance state that seeks to modernize into a more terrible one.
The formal title of the decree in Spanish is "Decreto-Ley no. 389 modificatorio del Código Penal, la Ley de Procedimiento Penal y la Ley de Actos contra el Terrorismo" that translates into English as "Decree-Law No. 389 amending the Criminal Code, the Law of Criminal Procedure and the Law of Acts against Terrorism." This is the latest in a series of "laws" that seek to modernize and perfect the Castro regime's totalitarian system for the 21st Century in building a more perfect panopticon.  

Private network S-Net was shut down by the Castro regime in 2019
On July 4, 2019 the Castro regime issued "Decreto-Ley No. 370 Sobre la Informatización de la Sociedad en Cuba" that translates into English as "Decree-Law No. 370 on the Computerization of Society in Cuba." Article 68 of the Decree-Law "prohibits Cuban citizens from running websites hosted outside of the country."

On May 29, 2019 both official and independent publications on the island reported that on July 29, 2019 the Cuban government would recognize private, informal networks and legalize them. Reuters reported that Cuba announced that "it would legalize private Wi-Fi networks to access the internet and connect computers," based on resolutions (98/2019 and 99/2019) issued by the regime's Ministry of Communication
What happened was the opposite of what was reported in May. "S-Net", a domestic, non-hierarchical, self organizing and self configuring private network that covers all of Havana and is also found in the country side has been declared illegal.The two resolutions issued by the Cuban dictatorship's Ministry of Communication in May 2019, interpreted positively by the international press, were used to target this mesh network. What had been long tolerated as a private initiative was absorbed by the dictatorship.

Lazaro Rodriquez Betancourt: Jailed 9 months for protesting Decree 349
Decree-Law 349 signed by Díaz-Canel on April 10, 2018 further restricts and controls artistic expression in Cuba. According to Amnesty International's August 24, 2018 analysis of the new law:
Under the decree, all artists, including collectives, musicians and performers, are prohibited from operating in public or private spaces without prior approval by the Ministry of Culture. Individuals or businesses that hire artists without the authorization can be sanctioned, and artists that work without prior approval can have their materials confiscated or be substantially fined. Under the new decree, the authorities also have the power to immediately suspend a performance and to propose the cancellation of the authorization granted to carry out the artistic activity. Such decisions can only be appealed before the same Ministry of Culture (Article 10); the decree does not provide an effective remedy to appeal such a decision before an independent body, including through the courts.
Decree 349 provoked protests by independent artists. Many were arbitrarily detained, and at least two were jailed for prolonged periods.

Cuban Rapper Maykel Castillo Pérez was jailed for 1 year 1 month for protesting Decree 349
At a time when Amnesty International identified six new Cuban prisoners of conscience (José Pilot Guide , Silverio Portal Contreras, Mitzael Díaz Paseiro, Eliecer Bandera Barrera, Edilberto Ronal Azuaga, and Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces) and called for their immediate release. The same organization also alleges that imprisoned Cuban opposition leader Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia is currently at risk of being tortured. This move by Sweden, an international human rights champion, to give a green light to the systematic increase in repression in Cuba sends a terrible message to the Cuban dictatorship, and other dictators around the world.

These are dark times for human rights in the world.