Monday, August 31, 2020

Please take a moment to help save the life of prisoner of conscience Silverio Portal Contreras


Prisoner of conscience Silverio Portal Contreras
On the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington this blog commemorated the date by highlighted the speeches of Martin Luther King III and his daughter at the Lincoln Memorial on that day, and the brutality visited on several black Cubans by the Castro regime in recent weeks. One of the cases focused on was that of Silverio Portal Contreras.

Yesterday, over Twitter Lucinda González wife of prisoner of conscience Silverio Portal Contreras asked for help from everyone starting today, Monday at 10:00 am, to show their solidarity with them, in the audio message embedded in the tweet below.

Silverio Portal Contreras,a former activist with the Ladies in White, is serving a 4-year sentence for "contempt" and "public disorder." According to a court document, he was arrested on the June 20, 2016 in Old Havana after shouting “Down Fidel Castro, down Raúl...” The document states that "the behavior of the accused is particularly offensive because it took place in a touristic area." The document further describes the accused as having “bad social and moral behavior” and mentions that he fails to participate in pro-government activities. 

According to Silverio’s wife, before his arrest he had campaigned against the collapse of dilapidated buildings in Havana. Silverio was recognized as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International on August 26, 2019. He was beaten by prison officials in mid-May 2020 and lost sight in one eye.

Lucinda Gonzalez Gomez, wife of the activist, has put out a desperate plea for help after receiving a call from her husband on June 10, 2020. “Silverio called me and put an official on the phone to explain the situation,” said Gonzalez Gomez to CubaNet. The official told her that “he was taken to the ophthalmologist and because of temporary loss of blood flow, he was losing sight in both eyes.”

We fear for Silverio's life today imprisoned for thinking and speaking freely.

Please use one of the images of Silverio below on your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Remembering and celebrating Anna Walentynowicz on the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Polish Solidarity Movement

Remembering Anna and Solidarność

 Anna Walentynowicz
Today is the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Polish Solidarity movement in Gdansk and sharing some videos and links. The strike at the Gdańsk Shipyard in 1980 led to the Solidarity labor union forming and in June 1989, a free Poland. Lech Walesa had an important role in its founding, but the firing of Anna Walentynowicz, a welder and crane operator, was the spark that led to the strike, and she played an important role and became a life long trade union activist. Below is a recent video from the Polish Foreign Ministry on Anna's life.

The following video was made in 1980 during the last week of the strike inside the shipyard and reporter Julian Manyon interviewed Anna. She is described as a "simple 51 year old woman who works as a welder in the shipyard became a kind of saint to the striking workers. a reminder of their grievances a symbol of their courage. Everyday she walked to pay her respects at a memorial for the 27 shipyard workers killed by the police when the government crushed the first strike in 1970. Since then Anna has fought a lonely battle for workers rights that climaxed on August 7 when she was sacked."

This courageous woman, together with Lech Walesa, and many other courageous Poles liberated their country and brought about a new birth of freedom.

Anna Walentynowicz and Lech Walesa in 1980

Friday, August 28, 2020

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream: 57 Years Later Black Lives Matter in Cuba and the United States

"We're taking a step forward on America's rocky but righteous journey towards justice." - Martin Luther King III, August 28, 2020

Fifty years ago on August 28, 1963 much of the United States was in the midst of a struggle to do away with segregation and civil rights activists were struggling to pass voting rights legislation. The march on Washington D.C. that culminated in Martin Luther King Jr.'s I have a dream speech sought to pressure legislators into voting for the legislation, and they succeeded.
This was a nonviolent revolution that sought justice, and changed the United States of America and in 2009 an African American president sat in the White House evidence that part of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream had been achieved.
Today at a moment of national crisis Martin Luther King III, son of the martyred civil rights leader, together with his daughter returned to the Lincoln Memorial to address questions of racism and injustice in the United States in 2020 and share their message of love and the legacy of their dad and grandad respectively. This event began last night and will continue into this evening and is live streaming.

This is part of a national conversation on racism and violence in the United States, and there were calls to refund and dismantle the police, but there were other views included in the conversation. It has the potential to be another nonviolent moment.
Sadly, despite the successes of the civil rights movement in the United States by 1967 Martin Luther King Jr. found his nonviolent posture challenged by a black power movement that instead of accelerating change in areas of social and economic justice brought it to a halt. Reverend King warned black activists not to take the way of the Castros and Che Guevara:
“Riots just don’t pay off,” said King. He pronounced them an objective failure beyond morals or faith. “For if we say that power is the ability to effect change, or the ability to achieve purpose,” he said, “then it is not powerful to engage in an act that does not do that–no matter how loud you are, and no matter how much you burn.” Likewise, he exhorted the staff to combat the “romantic illusion” of guerrilla warfare in the style of Che Guevara. No “black” version of the Cuban revolution could succeed without widespread political sympathy, he asserted, and only a handful of the black minority itself favored insurrection. King extolled the discipline of civil disobedience instead, which he defined not as a right but a personal homage to untapped democratic energy. The staff must “bring to bear all of the power of nonviolence on the economic problem,” he urged, even though nothing in the Constitution promised a roof or a meal. “I say all of these things because I want us to know the hardness of the task,” King concluded, breaking off with his most basic plea: “We must not be intimidated by those who are laughing at nonviolence now.”
Critics of nonviolence like to point out that Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in 1968, but fail to mention that he succeeded in transforming the United States into a better country by successfully and nonviolently addressing historic injustices.
What did Reverend King accomplish? He led the successful Montgomery bus boycott that ended segregation on buses in Montgomery, Alabama in 1956. He led the Birmingham campaign in 1963 that faced off with the Birmingham Police Department, led by Eugene “Bull” Connor, who used high-pressure water jets and police attack dogs on children. The campaign ended with Connor losing his job and the city’s discriminatory laws were changed. 
Martin Luther King Jr on August 28, 1963
Reverend King played an instrumental role in the August 28, 1963 march on Washington, D.C. with over 250,000 participants. It was done to pressure for the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 in Alabama demonstrated African Americans desire to vote. The violence by local authorities, racists, and the Klu Klux Klan and the nonviolent resistance of the civil rights activists were key to passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. These laws gave African Americans political power that had been denied them.
Contrast this with the fires and riots across the country over the past several weeks. Smaller in number than non-violent protests they have too often drowned out those advocating reform and a revolution in values to a person centered society. Today there was light and a conversation while in places like Portland and Seattle, where revolutionaries gunned down young black men, and the police were absent, having been driven out, painfully demonstrated that violence begets violence and does not bring our country closer to the Beloved Community and black lives continue to be unjustly killed. The way of Stokely Carmichael leads to a sterile dead end of bloodshed and violence with the seductive call of revolutionary violence that he embraced in Havana in the 1960s ended with end of this period of civil rights reforms.
Let us also not forget that many who fought alongside Fidel Castro in the 1950s took up arms again against him in the 1960s in an armed struggle that failed wiping out all opposition: violent and nonviolent for years.
A nonviolent movement began to emerge out of Cuba's prisons in the mid 1970s and onto the streets in the mid 1980s yet there are voices that claim that nonviolence hasn't worked and counsel either collaboration with the dictatorship or violent resistance.
Let us compare Reverend King's nonviolent legacy with the violent revolution that sought to end a dictatorship ninety miles away from U.S. shores in Cuba that in 1963 was just four years old. Sixty years later and the Castro dictatorship that replaced the Batista dictatorship is still in power killing and repressing. Despite fraudulent statistics in areas of health care and education the reality of an ongoing cholera epidemic and the mass exodus of millions of Cubans demonstrates the nightmare that exists in Cuba today. Today, Cubans are unjustly imprisoned for exercising their human rights and are prisoners of conscience.

Prisoner of Conscience Silverio Portal Contreras beaten and going blind
Silverio Portal Contreras,a former activist with the Ladies in White, is serving a 4-year sentence for "contempt" and "public disorder." According to a court document, he was arrested on the June 20, 2016 in Old Havana after shouting “Down Fidel Castro, down Raúl...” The document states that "the behavior of the accused is particularly offensive because it took place in a touristic area." The document further describes the accused as having “bad social and moral behavior” and mentions that he fails to participate in pro-government activities. According to Silverio’s wife, before his arrest he had campaigned against the collapse of dilapidated buildings in Havana.
Silverio was recognized as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International on August 26, 2019. He was beaten by prison officials in mid-May 2020 and lost sight in one eye.
Lucinda Gonzalez Gomez, wife of the activist, has put out a desperate plea for help after receiving a call from her husband on June 10, 2020. “Silverio called me and put an official on the phone to explain the situation,” said Gonzalez Gomez to CubaNet. The official told her that “he was taken to the ophthalmologist and because of temporary loss of blood flow, he was losing sight in both eyes.” We fear for Silverio and his life today imprisoned for speaking what he thought.
Hatred and the appeal of revolutionary violence leads to strange bedfellows. The Progressive, a publication founded in 1909 in Madison, Wisconsin on June 18, 2020 published an article titled "Foreign Correspondent: Police Lessons From Cuba" by Reese Erlich that claims "Contrary to the image of brutal and repressive communists, police in Cuba offer an instructive example for activists in the United States."   If the United States adopted the Cuban approach recommended by  Mr. Erlich any person recording a police officer, then sharing that image on a digital platform would be violating their right to privacy, and if what they record the police officer doing, whether his or her actions were right or wrong, they would be fined and if they did not pay the fine would be subject to prison.

A law, patterned after Cuba's, would require those who record police on or off the job to get the approval of the police officer recorded before sharing the video with any digital platforms. Thankfully, the First Amendment prohibits such restrictions in the United States, and also runs afoul of international human rights instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Cuba is a signatory, even though the document is censored in the island.
Six days after The Progressive published its essay celebrating Cuban policing in Castro's Cuba, a 27 year old Cuban was shot in the back by a Cuban police man.
Hansel E. Hernández (age 27) killed on June 24, 2020.
 On June 24, 2020 in Havana, Cuba Hansel E. Hernández (age 27) was shot in the back and killed by the police while allegedly trying to flee.  It took three days for the authorities to report the killing, despite repeated requests for clarity on what had happened.
This would normally have ended silently with no one being the wiser, but Facebook and the courage of a traumatized family member prevented that outcome. On June 25,  a woman posted on Facebook a photo of the dead Black youth who, she said, had been the victim of the national revolutionary police a day earlier.  
"I feel deep pain for the murder of my nephew Hansel Ernesto Hernández Galiano committed yesterday morning in La Lima, Guanabacoa (in eastern Havana), by two patrolmen (police)," she wrote. "We, the family members, ask for mercy that this cruel act at the hands of our supposed national security does not go unpunished in any way. Because a police officer, a uniform, does not give the right to murder anyone in such a way. If we know very well that they are trained with personal defense, they must carry spray, tonfas, etc. Why then did they have to resort to their firearm and take a son from a mother, a father, a nephew from their aunt, a brother from their younger sister ... Noting that he was NEVER armed, please, justice. 
Facebook post by Hansel's aunt calling for justice.
Hours later, the authorities of the Castro regime released an official statement claiming that the 27-year-old had been caught by a National Revolutionary Police patrol when, according to the Cuban Ministry of the Interior (MININT), "he was stealing pieces and accessories from a bus stop", then fleeing.  During the chase "on the run for almost two kilometers, over uneven terrain", the young man, to avoid being arrested, "attacked one of the policemen throwing several stones, one of which hit the policeman in the crotch, another in the side of the torso and a third dislocated his shoulder and threw him to the floor," indicates the statement posted on social networks on June 27th. In response to Hansel Hernández's throwing stones, “the soldier fired two warning shots. Immediately afterwards and due to the danger to his life due to the magnitude of the aggression, the policeman riposted from the ground, firing a shot with his regulation weapon that impacts the individual and causes him to die," continues the official version. 

Jorge Enrique Rodríguez arrested for reporting on youth shot by police
"Over social media demonstrations were announced for June 30 to protest the killing of Hansel Ernesto Hernández Galiano. The secret police began shutting off internet connections, cell phones and started arbitrarily detaining those who they suspected would take part in the non-violent protests. A number of activists recorded or expressed over social media their intention to take part in the protest action and some were able to message out when they were taken, or had their homes surrounded and laid siege to by state security and were placed under house arrest. This crackdown in which seventy Cubans were targeted successfully "prevented" the non-violent action.  
On June 28, 2020 independent Jorge Enrique Rodríguez was arrested and is now being charged with "Fake news" for his reporting on this police killing of a black youth.  Other journalists in the lead up to the June 30th planned protests have been detained or laid siege to their homes in order to stop them reporting on the killing of Hansel Ernesto Hernández Galiano and reactions to his death. The Committee to Protect Journalists called for Jorge Enrique's immediate release.
Meanwhile, the Castro regime launched the equivalent of a #BlueLivesMatter campaign that it calls Heroes of the Blue ( #HeroesDeAzul ), but instead of something spontaneous from civil society or a police association this is a systematic campaign of the dictatorship. While at the same time shutting down independent actions as previously mentioned. The tweet above is an example from this campaign.
No video to contradict the version of the dictatorship. Peaceful protests preempted. This is the reality of life under a dictatorship where freedom of speech and assembly do not exist. Is this what progressives want for the United States?

Yosvany Arostegui Armenteros: Died on hungerstrike
Cuban dissident Yosvany Arostegui Armenteros died on August 7, 2020 in Cuba while in police custody following a 40 day hunger strike. He had been jailed on false charges in the Kilo 8 prison of Camagüey. His body was quickly cremated by the dictatorship without his families consent. Yale professor and author Carlos Eire writing in Babalu Blog highlighted Yosvany's untimely passing and placed it in context:
It’s happened again. Another Cuban dissident has died in prison. Strangely, unlike previous hunger-striking political prisoners who received international attention, Yosvany Arostegui was barely noticed in social media and totally ignored by the world’s news outlets. He joins a long list of hunger-strikers who have been pushed to their deaths by the Castro regime. May his self-immolation in prison be the last, and may he rest in peace and eternal freedom.
Exiled Cuban lawyer and human rights defender Laritza Diversent over Facebook wrote:
I feel deep sadness and pain. I imagine how lonely he felt and how convinced he was that he preferred to exhaust his body until it was turned off. His death reminds me of the thousands of people who, in Cuban prisons, use their body to protest against unjust criminal proceedings. It makes me more aware of all the activists who, like Silverio Portal, are locked up as punishment for exercising their rights to free expression, criticize, protest, meet and associate.
On Friday, August 7, State Security contacted the family of prisoner Yosvany Aróstegui Armenteros to inform them that he had died during a hunger strike that he had carried out for 40 days.
Aróstegui Armenteros had been arrested a year earlier and prosecuted for two common crimes for which he pleaded not guilty from the beginning. Before this last strike he had carried out others with the same objective: to demand his freedom. He is not the first, and I fear while people of good will celebrate a white minority dictatorship in Havana while ignoring its black victims, there will be others. Black Lives Matter and that should include Black Cuban Lives too.
Yosvany Aróstegui Armenteros died on hunger strike on August 7, 2020
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," said Martin Luther King Jr., and he was right.
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., like Gandhi before him, was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
Another courageous man of Christian faith, inspired by Reverend King's nonviolent legacy, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero, a youth leader from his movement who had been a seminarian were martyred on July 22, 2012 for advocating nonviolent change in Cuba. Oswaldo had managed to obtain more than 25,000 signatures in a Stalinist dictatorship demanding a vote to change the system and recognize the rights and dignity of Cubans. Like Martin Luther King Jr. he was killed but his ideas and example live on to inspire others.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas
Meanwhile, Raul Castro survived to the present day hanging on to power and prepares to turn it over to a new generation of Castros, as his brother had passed it on to him before, as the island of Cuba sinks into misery and despair, and humanitarian aid gathered in Miami and delivered to Havana by Oswaldo's daughter, Rosa María Payá Acevedo is blocked from being delivered to Cubans in need by the Castro dictatorship.
Rosa María Payá Acevedo carries on her dad's legacy
A dictatorship that claims to advocate for social justice but silences those who wished to nonviolently protest the shooting in the back of a young unarmed black man by the Revolutionary National Police.  A regime that in the midst of hunger rejects aid sitting at a port in Havana.

The dream survives in others even when the dreamer has been cut down by the forces of repression and hatred. Love and nonviolence still find a way.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Communists Lie and Communism Kills: Brief overview of a terrible idea

“How do you tell a Communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.” - Ronald Reagan

Communism prior to Marx
The word and idea of communism predates Karl Marx and first arises out of Enlightenment ideas that would fully express themselves in the French Revolution. French philosopher Victor d'Hupay in his 1777 book Projet de communauté philosophe, advanced Enlightenment principles that are the basis of a communist philosophy defined as a lifestyle called a "commune" that advises to "share all economic and material products between members of the commune, so that all benefit equally from each other's work". Communists are initially defined as those living in the commune

The Jacobins, supported the idea of redistributing wealth equally among the people, including Jean-Paul Marat and Gracchus Babeuf. Babeuf was involved in the Conspiracy of the Equals of 1796 intending to establish a revolutionary regime based on communal ownership, egalitarianism and the redistribution of property. The plot was however detected and he and several others involved were arrested and executed, but there attempt would inspire radicals in the future.
Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, the Communist League, and the Communist Manifesto
On February 21, 1848, The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx with the assistance and patronage of Friedrich Engels is published. This political pamphlet was commissioned by the  Communist League which had come into existence in 1847and is considered the first Marxist party.   

The darker aspects of Marxism had already been self evident to some of his contemporaries as early as 1844 as Joshua Dill, the  Assistant Director of Publications at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, documented in in the September 15, 2017 article "Communism: A bad idea even in 1844." 

The Manifesto didn't offer anything new in communist theory, but a synthesis of these ideas packaged in a way that made it readily accessible, unlike some of other Marxist works such as Das Kapital

They were also blessed by some good timing because the tract predicted that revolution was imminent, a natural outcome of materialist historical processes, and within days of the publication, coincidentally, revolutions broke out first in France and then across Europe, but were put down by conservative forces.

Third time was the charm for totalitarianism: The Three Internationals 
Three international communist networks that span over a century sought to establish a global political network to destroy existing political orders around the world.

The  First International, also known as the International Workingmen's Association (IWA) 1864–1876 aimed at uniting a variety of different left-wing socialist, communist and anarchist political groups and trade union organizations that were all based on the working class and class struggle. It was founded in 1864 in London. The first congress was held two years later in 1866 in Geneva, Switzerland.  This network had over five million members but it split in 1872 over conflicts between communist and anarchist factions and  dissolved in 1876.

The Second International was founded on July 14, 1889 and excluded the anarchists. Their influence is still felt today around the world and important days of action were set up by them. In 1889 they declared May 1st as International Workers' Day. In 1910 they declared March 19th International Women's Day but then changed the day to March 8th to celebrate the women's marches during the Russian Revolution in 1917. They campaigned for the eight hour work day. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin had been a member since 1905. 

The Second international dissolved in 1916 over differences of how to respond to World War One but formed again in 1923 and a version of it continues to the present as the Socialist International. There were three primary divisions: parties that remained loyal to their nation state, anti-war socialists, and communists like Lenin who sought to exploit the war to unleash worldwide revolution with a redefinition that would come to be known as Marxism-Leninism in which a vanguard party leads the change to a communist future.
Vladimir Lenin
"There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel." - Vladimir Lenin

Communist Morality
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." This is at the heart of communist morality, the ends justify the means, a profound immorality and a pillar of international communism.

The Third International was founded by Lenin in 1915 and held its first of seven world congresses on March 2, 1919 and was also known as the Communist International, and was known by its abbreviated form the Comintern. It was an international communist organization that advocated world communism. The International intended to fight "by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and for the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition stage to the complete abolition of the State". The communists came to power in Russia on November 7, 1917. The Comintern was officially dissolved by Joseph Stalin in 1943 to calm the fears of his non-communist allies, but this totalitarian network remained intact but not as visible.

The power of propaganda
The Communists were excellent at diagnosing problems in society and using propaganda to exploit them, even if their solutions did not improve them. The Communist Manifesto is a perfect example of this. However they also operated in international totalitarian networks to spread the propaganda and to engage in coordinated international campaigns to achieve political power. These innovations would give communists an organizational and message advantage over traditional political parties.

Totalitarian networks and propaganda pioneer: Wilhelm Münzenberg
Perfecting totalitarian networks
The pioneer in totalitarian networks was Wilhelm "Willi" Münzenberg who impacted much of the 20th century. Münzenberg met the Russian communist revolutionary Lenin in Bern, Switzerland in 1915. It was León Trotsky who recognized in Münzenberg the talent to organize clandestine networks from almost nothing. He was part of the original Bolshevik network prior to the 1917 revolution. Following the arrival of the Soviets to power and the COMINTERN as a means to disseminate the Soviet revolution and consolidate dominance of Marxism-Leninism over the global Left; Münzenberg also used it to organize cultural power and further expand international influence.  

The first congress of the Communist International included delegates from communist or socialist parties from Russia, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Finland, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Estonia, Armenia, France, Switzerland, China, Korea, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Sweden, the United States, Azerbaijan, Yugoslavia, and the Netherlands among other countries. In 1921 Münzenberg became the director of clandestine operations of propaganda aimed at the West. To create networks of supporters Münzenberg used all the resources propaganda from high culture to the most basic. He organized the media: film, radio, theater, books, magazines, and newspapers. He was able to connect to and use all types of formers of opinion respected by the public: writers, artists, actors, priests, ministers, teachers, businessmen, scientists, and psychologists

The Münzenberg network was one of the key factors for the direction taken in political attitudes that operated in the 1930s. He manipulated and influenced public opinion using a network of writers and intellectuals such as: Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Lillian Hellman, George Grosz, Erwin Piscator, André Malraux, André Gide, Bertolt Brecht, Dorothy Parker to Kim Philby, Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt. He organized protest marches, politicized writers conferencespoliticized art festivals, ad hoc committees signed by famous celebrities for causes without end.  

These networks are still active today and have operated over the years in campaigns for Angela Davis (1970), Mumia Abdul Jamal (1982-2011), the Cuban Five (2000- 2014) just to name a few high profile cases.

Edmund Burke and Roger Scruton
Conservative Critique of Communism
It is no accident that modern conservatism is traced back to a profound and nuanced rejection of the French Revolution of 1789 found in the writings of Edmund Burke, and especially Reflections on the Revolution in France published in November of 1790. Burke knew the basis and structure of a traditional society and the threat of revolution to these important social structures that make civilization both possible and tolerable. This critique of the Revolution applies to Communism, and the followers of Edmund Burke, and Roger Scruton, one of his intellectual descendants in an essay titled  "What can Europe learn from communism?"explained one of the great errors of communism and the fragile superiority of democracy in a free society.
"The great error of the communists was to eliminate opposition, to conscript the people into a ‘unity’ that they had not chosen and were not allowed to question. The great benefit of democracy is that it makes opposition possible and also legitimate. But this has the consequence that, in a democracy, more than half the people at any moment might be living under a government that they did not choose, maybe a government that they hate. What makes that possible? Why do democracies not break down, under the pressure of popular dissent? The answer is simple: they don’t break down because the loyalty of the citizen is not towards the government, but towards something higher, something that is shared between all the citizens, regardless of their political beliefs and inclinations. This higher thing is the nation, the entity to which we all belong, and which defines the first-person plural of democratic politics."
The results time and time again when communists take power and dissent is outlawed and elections no longer contest power between political parties, but only to ratify fidelity to the ruling class, the end results are piles of dead bodies, destroyed societies, and generations of mistrust among the survivors. Despite the claims made about education and healthcare in these regimes, children have been treated horribly. The paradox of communism is that it spawns societies that are profoundly antisocial. Police states with informants spying on neighbors does not build social bonds, but paranoia and distrust.

Communists today embrace this statement when they dispute the death count of 100 million victims of communism, and manufacture their own numbers, including millions of victims of communism, in their lists claiming over a billion dead due to capitalism.

Responding to some false claims against capitalism 
Beware of the small print used by the communists. Out of the 1.6 billion deaths they blame on Capitalism a fair amount can be challenged, but some are just absurd. Consider the following taken from the embedded Tweet above in small print:

World War 2 was started by an alliance between Nazi Germany and the Communist Russia. Both regimes were hostile to capitalism and liberal democracy. On August 23, 1939 they signed the Hitler Stalin Pact and over the next month launched invasions from each country dividing up Poland and starting WW2. Therefore, the dead in that war can be laid at the feet of fascism and communism, not capitalism. However, if liberal capitalist regimes like the United States had not supplied billions in aid to the USSR, after the Nazis double crossed Stalin and invaded Russia in June 1941, the outcome of the war might have been very different.

The claim that India between 1947 and 1990 had a "capitalist policy" is not true. The first elected leader of an independent India was Jawaharlal Nehru and he was a democratic socialist who believed that "Socialism is after all not only a way of life, but a certain scientific approach to social and economic problems." India under Nehru nationalized the means of production and the banks, but despite being a socialist regime, it remained a democracy. This meant that opposition parties were able to run for office in contested elections, and there was a free press to report on the economic failures of socialism. To call this a "capitalist policy" is a falsehood.

Worse yet the Famine of 1932-33 (Kulak policy and weather) was a famine manufactured by Josef Stalin. It is a crime of communism, and to blame it on capitalism is a lie.

The Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in a communist revolution with backing from Beijing in 1975 and were forced out of power by the Soviet backed Vietnamese in 1979 and in the space of less than four years killed over 2 million people, or a third of the entire population. They were and are true believing communists who carried out a radical and profound revolution.

Lastly, the communists blame capitalism for over 306 million deaths due to cigarettes between 1960 and 2011. Capitalism did not force individuals to buy and consume cigarettes. Liberal democracies carried out public campaigns against cigarette smoking and restricted its use, and taxed it heavily.

What is equally interesting and not mentioned is that cigarette smoking is also widespread in communist regimes that do not have capitalism, and in China it was tobacco production that drove their economy in the early 1990s.  People freely choosing to smoke, and other bad habits cannot be blamed on capitalism.

People not statistics
Some psychologists argue that as the number of victims increase into the hundreds, and thousands that compassion collapses out of the human fear of being overwhelmed. Soviet dictator Josef Stalin put it more succinctly: "When one man dies it's a tragedy. When thousands die it's statistics."  

Therefore will highlight specific victims of communism from around the world over different decades.

Milada Horakova of Czechoslovakia (1950)

Milada Horakova at her show trial in 1950

Milada Horakova was hanged with three others in Prague’s Pankrac Prison as a spy and traitor to the Communist Czechoslovakian government on June 27, 1950. She was a  lawyer, social democrat, and a prominent feminist in the interwar and postwar periods. She had been a member of the Czech resistance to the Nazi occupation of her homeland and survived a Nazi prison. After Czechoslovakia was liberated from the Nazis in 1945 by the Soviets she became a member of parliament in 1946 but resigned her seat after the Communist coup of 1948. However she refused to abandon her country.

Adam D. E. Watkins in his 2010 paper "The Show Trial of J U Dr. Milada Horáková: The Catalyst for Social Revolution in Communist Czechoslovakia, 1950" explains the importance of the show trial in gutting democratic traditions and replacing them with Stalinism:

The study deconstructs the show trial’s influence on inducing a country to foster the Communist movement against decades of democratic traditions. The research reveals the impact of the show trial of Dr. Milada Horáková in 1950 and how it was instrumental in reforming a society, marked the beginning of Stalinism, and ushered forth a perverted system of justice leading to a cultural transformation after the Communist putsch. Furthermore, the revolution truncated intellectual thought and signified the end of many social movements – including the women’s rights movement
According to D. E. Watkings Horáková was seen by the public as a symbol of  the First Republic and of democracy. Unlike others who did break under the relentless psychological and physical torture she never did. The communists tried to edit her testimony for propaganda purposes but as Radio Prague in their 2005 report on the discovery of the unedited tapes of her trial:
[S]he faced her show trial with calm and defiance, refusing to be broken. Audio recordings - intended to be used by the Communists for propaganda purposes - were mostly never aired, for the large part because for the Party's purposes, they were unusable.
Because she refused to cooperate her punishment was particularly severe, even for the death penalty. In 2007 her prosecutor Ludmila Brozova-Polednova who in 1950 had helped to condemn Horakova to death, now 86, was tried as an accomplice to murder. During the trial Radio Prague reported that a note written by an anonymous eye-witness to Milada Horakova's execution quoted the young prosecutor recommending: "Don't break her neck on the noose, Suffocate the bitch - and the others too." Milada Horáková  was executed in Pankrác Prison on 27 June 1950 by a particularly torturous method: "intentionally slow strangulation, which according to historians took 15 minutes. She was 48 years old." The urn with her ashes was never given to her family nor is it known what became of them.
Milada Horáková: 25 December 1901, Prague – 27 June 1950, Prague

In a letter to her 16 year old teenage daughter Milada explained why she had refused to compromise with evil. Her daughter received the letter 40 years later after the end of communist rule:

The reason was not that I loved you little; I love you just as purely and fervently as other mothers love their children. But I understood that my task here in the world was to do you good … by seeing to it that life becomes better, and that all children can live well. … Don’t be frightened and sad because I am not coming back any more. Learn, my child, to look at life early as a serious matter. Life is hard, it does not pamper anybody, and for every time it strokes you it gives you ten blows. Become accustomed to that soon, but don’t let it defeat you. Decide to fight.
June 27th, the day of Milada Horakova's execution is now recognized in the Czech Republic as “Commemoration day for the victims of the Communist regime.”

Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (1975)

Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I
Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I was believed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Selassie had served first as regent of Ethiopia from 1916 to 1930 and was emperor from 1930 to 1974. He was the heir to a dynasty that traced its origins to the 13th century, and from there by tradition back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. At the League of Nations in 1936, Emperor Selassie condemned the use of chemical weapons by Fascist Italy against the people of Ethiopia. Ethiopia was the one independent African state during a time when the rest of the continent was under colonial rule. H.I.M. Haile Selassie , the lion of Judah, resisted the Fascist invasion of his homeland Ethiopia and warned the world of its threat when he addressed the League of Nations. He would go into exile in Great Britain but returned home after the defeat of the fascists.

Emperor Haile Selassie's internationalist views led to Ethiopia becoming a charter member of the United Nations, and his political thought and experience in promoting multilateralism and collective security are still viewed as part of his enduring legacy. Despite inspiring the founding of a religion that today has up to 800,000 followers he remained an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian until his death.

Raul Castro & Fidel Castro with close ally Mengistu Haile Mariam
Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed in a communist  military coup and it is believed that the officers smothered him and that Mengistu Haile Mariam: "ordered the emperor's body to be buried head down in the palace and had a lavatory erected over the grave so that he could express daily his contempt for the monarch." Winston Churchill had described Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I as "the only enlightened Abyssinian prince." In December 1994 The New York Times reported that an Ethiopian court described "how Emperor Haile Selassie was 'strangled in his bed most cruelly' in 1975 by order of the leaders of a Marxist military coup."

Less than a decade after Mengistu fled into exile on November 5, 2000, Haile Selassie was given an Imperial funeral by the Ethiopian Orthodox church. Bob Marley's widow, Rita Marley, participated in the funeral.

 Laura Inés Pollán of Cuba (2011)

Laura Pollán, founding leader of the Ladies in White
Laura Inés Pollán Toledo was a courageous woman who spoke truth to power and protested in the streets of Cuba demanding an amnesty for Cuban political prisoners. A woman who had been a school teacher, before her husband was jailed for his independent journalism in 2003.

Laura Pollán became a dissident when her husband Hector Maseda was imprisoned during the Black Cuban Spring of 2003 along with more than 75 other activists and civil society members. She was one of the founders of the Ladies in White and challenged the Castro regime on the streets of Cuba. Following brutal repression in an effort to prevent them from marching through the streets of Havana Laura Pollan directly and nonviolently challenged the regime: "We will never give up our protest. The authorities have three options — free our husbands, imprison us or kill us. 

Despite all the efforts of the Cuban communist dictatorship that has a monopoly over force and the mass media in Cuba, Laura was able with a small group of courageous women to take to the streets and demonstrate. Not once or twice but on a weekly basis since her husband was unjustly imprisoned in March of 2003. The dictatorship did everything they could to stop them, including brute violence. Bruises and broken bones did not deter these ladies and they continued marching with casts and slings.

Over a 100,000 people dressed in white took to the streets in Miami in the spring of 2010 to protest the violence against these women led by Gloria Estefan, who had organized the demonstration in solidarity with this movement.

Laura's husband marches with Ladies in White carrying image of his murdered wife
In the summer of 2010 the dictatorship finally began the process of releasing the bulk of the remaining prisoners of conscience from the group of the 75 and the last of them were released in the spring of 2011. Unfortunately, there were new prisoners of conscience whose release the Ladies in White would continue to demand.  Laura recognized that "[a]s long as this government is around there will be prisoners because while they've let some go, they've put others in jail. It is a never-ending story."

Five days before she became suddenly deathly ill, as the violence and threats escalated, she let the dictatorship know that: "We are not going to stop. If they have imprisoned our sisters thinking that we would give up, they are mistaken. We are very united (...) all the women's movements are very close."

On October 14, 2011, Laura Pollan, one of the founders of the human rights movement the Ladies in White died after years of suffering physical and psychological assaults against her person. Finally, she would become a victim of the Cuban healthcare system that following the Castroite dictum of inside the revolution everything outside of it nothing - would suffer and die in a matter of days while under the supervision of doctors who were revolutionaries first and doctors second. A Cuban doctor, who reviewed her case file, described it as a death by purposeful medical neglect.

Liu Xiaobo of China (2017)

Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo who died imprisoned in China in 2017
Nonviolent dissident, scholar and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison for the crime of speaking. He had already been jailed for more than a year for being one of the authors of Charter 08 that sought to gather signatures in a petition calling on the Chinese regime to gradually shift toward democracy. Liu Xiaobo had played a prominent role in the June 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square engaging in a hunger strike that he mentioned in a statement he made on December 23, 2009 during the political show trial he was being subjected to:

But I still want to say to this regime, which is depriving me of my freedom, that I stand by the convictions I expressed in my "June Second Hunger Strike Declaration" twenty years ago ‑ I have no enemies and no hatred. None of the police who monitored, arrested, and interrogated me, none of the prosecutors who indicted me, and none of the judges who judged me are my enemies. Although there is no way I can accept your monitoring, arrests, indictments, and verdicts, I respect your professions and your integrity, including those of the two prosecutors, Zhang Rongge and Pan Xueqing, who are now bringing charges against me on behalf of the prosecution. During interrogation on December 3, I could sense your respect and your good faith.
Hatred can rot away at a person's intelligence and conscience. Enemy mentality will poison the spirit of a nation, incite cruel mortal struggles, destroy a society's tolerance and humanity, and hinder a nation's progress toward freedom and democracy. That is why I hope to be able to transcend my personal experiences as I look upon our nation's development and social change, to counter the regime's hostility with utmost goodwill, and to dispel hatred with love.
Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo was arrested on June 23, 2009 and charged with “inciting subversion of state power” for co-authoring Charter 08, a declaration calling for political reform, greater human rights, and an end to one-party rule in China that has been signed by hundreds of individuals from all walks of life throughout the country. On December 25, 2009 Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years' deprivation of political rights. The Beijing High Court rejected his appeal on February 11, 2010."
Liu Xiaobo with his wife, Liu Xia
On January 19, 2010 Havel met with the Executive Director of Human Rights in China, Sharon Hom, and engaged her in a dialogue/interview about Liu Xiaobo, Charter 08 and the struggle for democratic reform in China. When asked about the similarities between China today and Czechloslovakia in 1977 explained that:

The similarities, I would say, are in the basic structure of human rights reflected in a democratic system, which of course the regime doesn’t want. The regime wishes for the dictatorship of one party. I think this is where Charter 08 and Charter 77 are similar: they have similar targets and similar messages to deliver to the [respective] regimes.
On February 3, 2010 both Czech and Slovak members of parliament nominated Liu Xiaobo for the Nobel Peace Prize. The nomination was also endorsed by Vaclav Havel and many of the former spokespersons of Charter 77. The 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate, Herta Müller, in a letter to the Nobel Foundation on behalf of Liu Xiaobo wrote:
I have urgent request to make to you today. As you know, Vaclav Havel nominated the Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo for the Nobel Peace Prize 2010.[...]I, too, believe that Liu Xiaobo deserves the Nobel Peace Prize because in the face of countless threats from the Chinese regime and great risk to his life, he has fought unerringly for the freedom of the individual.
Eight months after the rejection of his appeal on October 8, 2010 the Nobel Committee in Norway awarded this Chinese dissident and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience the Nobel Peace Prize despite threats from the Chinese regime. As December 10th, the day for the ceremony to recognize the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, approached the Chinese regime engaged in a human rights crackdown in Mainland China. Neither he or his wife, Liu Xia, who has been kept under house arrest, were allowed to attend. The actress Liv Ullman read the final statement that Liu Xiaobo read out at his December 2009 trial titled: "I Have No Enemies: My Final Statement" already mentioned and cited above.

Unjustly imprisoned for over eight years China's Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiabo was seriously ill in mid 2017 and although granted medical parole continued to be arbitrarily detained, although  in a hospital diagnosed with terminal liver cancer his access and movement continued to be restricted. His wife, Liu Xia said that her husband, according to The Guardian, "cannot be given surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy," allegedly "because the cancer is so advanced." Chinese Human Rights Defenders reports that individuals in custody, like Liu Xiaobo, had been denied medical treatment in what is a life threatening form of torture.

Liu Xiaobo died on July 13, 2017. Four days later on July 17, 2017 the man who had received the Nobel Prize on Xiaobo's behalf in Oslo, Dr. Yang Jianli in Washington, DC, at the monument to the Victims of Communism in an act of remembrance, spoke of his friend and the culpability of the Chinese communist regime.
In April 1989, when the Tiananmen democracy movement just broke out, he returned to Beijing from New York and became the most important intellectual leader of the movement. After the Tiananmen Massacre, he shouldered both moral and political responsibilities and continued to fight from inside China while many others left the country and even abandoned the movement. He was in and out prison and spent half of the past 28 years after the Tiananmen Massacre in incarceration. Never wavering in spirit, he shared the sufferings of his compatriots and gave his life for them. He is a martyr and saint. Yes. Liu Xiaobo is a martyr and saint who possesses a moral authority that his persecutors can only envy. His legacy of love, justice, peace and sacrifice will surely far outlive the deeds of those who persecuted him. That is exactly why the leaders of China are so afraid of him, so afraid of his words and deeds, and so afraid of his legacy. They are afraid of the inevitable comparison between Liu Xiaobo’s Chinese dream and Xi Jinping’s; they are afraid of the unavoidable likening of the Chinese Communist regime to the Nazis regime because Liu Xiaobo has been the first Nobel Peace Prize winner who died under confinement since Carl von Ossietzky, a German pacifist and an opponent of the Nazis, who died in 1938.
Milada Horakova, a feminist, was a member of the Czech resistance to Nazism. H.I.M. Haile Selassie, the lion of Judah, resisted the Fascist invasion of his homeland Ethiopia and warned the world of its threat. Laura Inés Pollán Toledo was a school teacher, turned human rights activist, to free her husband, a journalist jailed for his writings. Liu Xiaobo was a literary critic, poet and human rights activist who advocated for nonviolent change in his homeland. He was also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. They were all murdered by communist regimes through executions or other nefarious means. These are four cases out of the over 100 million lives murdered by communist regimes.

It can happen here

Do you know what U.S. citizens have in common with Cubans, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans? They all at one point said that "it couldn't happen here."  There are signs in the streets of the United States that some of those same forces are using the symbols and tactics of international communism and using force and intimidation on Americans to comply.

However, it is early enough in the process that a non-violent and moral stand of resistance to these forces can stop them before they take and consolidate power, but one cannot live in denial.