Friday, December 31, 2021

Top 12 Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter 2021 blog entries

Year of pandemic and protest

These are the top 12 monthly blog entries of the year arranged in chronological order. George Santayana understood the importance of remembering the past in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

José Julián Martí Pérez at 168: The heirs of José Martí and those who repress them now

"I think they kill my child every time they deprive a person of their right to think." - José Martí


On 27J, the eve of the 168th anniversary of the birth of José Julián Martí Pérez, better known as José Martí, approximately 20 artists, journalists and intellectuals gathered to read some of his works. [...]  Preemptive arrests, an act of repudiation against gathered artists and intellectuals, the Minister of Culture Alpidio Alonso and his Vice-Minister Fernando León Jacomino, caught on camera physically assaulting nonviolent demonstrators, and the dissidents arrested and crammed into a small bus by secret police and beaten up while already detained, reported Diario de Cuba.  [ Full blog entry]


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Celebrating real Cuban culture and the artists defying totalitarian efforts to rewrite it

Let us no longer shout "Homeland and Death" but "Homeland and Life"
Artists from the San Isidro Movement celebrating Cuban culture
"Totalitarianism demands, in fact, the continuous alteration of the past, and in the long run probably demands a disbelief in the very existence of objective truth," observed George Orwell in his essay, "The Prevention of Literature" in the journal Polemic, published in January 1946. Writers that refuse to go along with alteration of the past all too often pay a terrible price. This is also true for artists in other fields because totalitarians seek to control the culture. [ Full blog entry ]

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Setting the record straight on Cuito Cuanavale, General Arnaldo Ochoa, and how South African democrats overcame and defeated Apartheid in 1991

Revisiting the nonviolent victory over Apartheid, Castro's genocidal crimes in Africa, and the show trial of the Cuban general that spent months battling the South African Defence forces. 

UDF boycotted elections

Communists reject nonviolence as a means to achieve lasting change, because civil disobedience to them is incompatible with Karl Marx's theory of class struggle. This is why they demonize and misrepresent Mohandas Gandhi, downplay the real events that brought an end to Apartheid in South Africa, highlight a dubious military victory in 1988 involving Cuban troops and falsely celebrate it as the agent of change. [ Full blog entry

Sunday, April 4, 2021

The Radical Left's Contempt for Martin Luther King Jr. in his final years

"But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation." - Luke 17:25
MLK Jr. shot in Memphis, TN at the Lorraine Motel on 4/4/68 at 6:01pm CST

Today is Easter Sunday, but it is also the 53rd observance of the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. On Good Friday, I quoted Reverend James Lawson, who like King is an apostle of nonviolence and a Christian pastor, said that “if you want to understand King, you must look at Jesus.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., like Jesus, was rejected by all.  He was rejected by conservatives, by liberals, by radicals, and by communists.  [ Full blog entry ]

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Cuban Dissident Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara on Day 8 of a hunger and thirst strike: Some context informed by past actions and nonviolence theory

"I think they kill my child every time they deprive a person of their right to think." - José Martí

Artist and human rights defender Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara
Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara is on the eighth day of a hunger and thirst strike, and in increasingly poor health. He is engaged in a profound dialogue with a regime that for decades has refused to listen, to really listen, to Cuban citizens petitioning for and demanding change. This dialogue has been going on for at least three years. He has tried all types of protests, petitions, performance art pieces, and music videos in defense of freedom of expression, especially artistic expression. [ Full blog entry ]

Monday, June 14, 2021

Ernesto "Che" Guevara born on this day in 1928. Nothing to celebrate.

A mass murdering racist, who dined with Mao as millions died of hunger is not someone to celebrate.

"All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." - Matthew 26, 26:52
Some wish to celebrate Ernesto Guevara's birthday today. If he and his comrades had their way the world would have been subjected to a nuclear holocaust in October 1962, and they were bitterly disappointed that it did not happen.

Thankfully, John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev reached a peaceful outcome to the Cuban Missile Crisis, but the Castro regime protested it and was unhappy with their Soviet allies not launching their nuclear missiles. [ Full blog entry ]

Monday, July 19, 2021

#11July: One week later and nonviolent resistance continues in Cuba

For freedom and justice.

On the streets of Cuba on July 11, 2021

One week later and the protests continue, despite the most brutal efforts of the Castro regime to silence Cubans on the island. It began on July 11, 2021 in San Antonio de los Baños, just South East of Havana when Cubans took to the streets in protest. Others saw it streaming live, and also took to the street in cities and towns across the country chanting "Freedom" and "Down with the dictatorship." 

President Miguel Diaz-Canel appeared on official television threatening: "They [protesters] would have to pass over our dead bodies if they want to confront the revolution, and we are willing to resort to anything."  [ Full blog entry

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Cuban Freedom March Miami today August 22nd from 10am to 1pm: A reflection on its significance

"If there is to be any chance at all of success, there is only one way to strive for decency, reason, responsibility, sincerity, civility and tolerance, and this is decently, reasonably, responsibly, sincerely, civilly, and tolerantly" - Václav Havel 

The Cuban Freedom March arrives in Miami, Florida today on August 22, 2021 with a march from la Ermita de la Caridad to Domino Park. The protest starts at 10:00am. Organizers have carried out successful marches in Washington DC, and Los Angeles.

On August 11, 2021 the leader of this movement, Alian Collazo, moderated a conversation on "what's really happening in Cuba" that is necessary viewing to listen to different perspectives, from young Cuban and Cuban American voices both inside and outside of Cuba.

This is a freedom movement led by young Cubans and Cuban Americans with a presence on social media on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. [ Full blog entry ]

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Twenty years after 9/11: Remembering a horrible day

"Are you ready? Okay. Let's roll."—Todd Morgan Beamer, November 24, 1968–September 11, 2001

2,977 men, women and children were murdered on September 11, 2001 over the course of a few hours on a sunny Tuesday morning in three different states. The victims were distributed as follows: 246 on the four planes converted into flying missiles. Two of the planes flew into the Twin Towers which collapsed and led to the deaths of 2,606 human beings in New York City in the towers and on the ground, and a third struck the Pentagon taking 125 lives. The fourth plane, heading to Washington D.C., never arrived and crashed into an open field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania as the passengers of the flight fought the terrorists over control of the flight.  [ Full blog entry ]

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Join the non-violent movement for democracy and human rights in Cuba

"Use truth as your anvil, nonviolence as your hammer, and anything that does not stand the test when it is brought to the anvil of truth and hammered with nonviolence, reject it." - Mohandas Gandhi

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara on day six of hunger strike in Cuba
Today in Cuba there are thousands of Cubans jailed for their nonviolent demand for an end to the Castro dictatorship expressed during the mid July 2021 protests. Hundreds have been identified that were jailed or disappeared. It is known that some have resorted to going on hunger strike to protest their unjust imprisonment. Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara is on a hunger strike that he began on September 27, 2021 and is still weak from a bout of COVID-19, and prior hunger strikes. This is part of the movement's repertoire of nonviolent tactics to resist the Castro regime. [ Full blog entry ]

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Testimony by John Suarez at the Transatlantic Parliamentary Forum on November 20, 2021

Transatlantic Parliamentary Forum testimony: November 20, 2021
Miami City Hall 
July 11, 2021 national nonviolent protests in Cuba marked a before and after in the history of the island. Tens of thousands of Cubans across the island demanded an end to the dictatorship, rejected the official slogan Patria o Muerte (Homeland or Death) and chanted Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life). The reaction of the dictatorship was swift and brutal. Boinas Negras (black berets) formally known as the National Special Brigade of the Ministry of the Interior, fired on unarmed protesters, and were captured on video. The dictatorship handed out clubs to regime agents to attack protesters. Thousands were detained, and hundreds remain jailed and face summary trials with prison sentences in excess of 25 years. [ Full blog entry ]

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

125 years ago today Antonio Maceo Grajales died fighting for Cuban independence and 31 years ago Reinaldo Arenas died after decades rebelling against the Castro dictatorship

 "My duties to country and to my own political convictions are above all human effort; with these I shall reach the pedestal of freedom or I shall perish fighting for my country's redemption." -  Antonio Maceo, November 3, 1890


Today marks the day 125 years ago on December 7, 1896 when Lieutenant General Antonio Maceo Grajales died fighting for Cuban independence.  

Today, also marks the day 31 years ago on December 7, 1990 Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas killed himself in New York City, after battling AIDS for several years. He was an important critic of the Castro regime, and those intellectuals who supported it. As a Gay man he also suffered discrimination because of the communist dictatorship's hostility to homosexuals. [ Full blog entry ]



Tuesday, December 28, 2021

PM, the film short that led Fidel Castro to declare “Within the Revolution, everything, against the Revolution, nothing” in 1961

The film short that exposed a consolidating dictatorship


Screen grab of film PM by Sabá Cabrera Infante and Orlando Jiménez Leal

Sixty years ago, two young Cuban filmmakers, Sabá Cabrera Infante and Orlando Jiménez Leal, set out to record Havana's nightlife in working-class neighborhoods, and drew the ire of Fidel Castro. 

The film was banned, and a series of meetings were organized by the Cuban Communist Party and presided over by Castro, attended by artists, media directors, and government officials at Havana's National Library in June 1961. The outcome was Fidel Castro telling Cuba's intellectuals and artists “Within the Revolution, everything, against the Revolution, nothing,” making art subservient to the dictatorship. 

Ten years later, the international community would become aware of this in the Padilla Affair, a show trial against a Cuban writer that drew widespread condemnation of the Castro dictatorship.

Here is the film short.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Top 12 Tweets by month in 2021

 Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.-George Santayana

January 2020

February 2020

March 2020

April 2020

May 2020

June 2020

July 2020

August 2020

September 2020

October 2020

November 2020

December 2020

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Requiescat in pace Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Thank you for your solidarity and example of nonviolent resistance

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." -  Archbishop Desmond Tutu

 Desmond Tutu backed inquiry into Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero deaths 

Mourning the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu at age 90. Remembering with gratitude his solidarity with the Cuban people in 2013, when he joined with others in demanding an inquiry into the July 22, 2012, deaths of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero.

But there is much more to be thankful for.

During the struggle against Apartheid people power had a huge impact, greater than the violence of the African National Congress, in effecting regime change. Archbishop Desmond Tutu played an important role in this nonviolent struggle to end an unjust regime.

"Among the most sustained campaigns, involving national organizations as well as providing a target for local demonstrators, was the campaign to boycott Shell that paralleled campaigns in Europe directed at the same multinational company. Beginning with a sit-in by the Free South Africa Movement at the Shell offices in Washington, DC,159 the campaign gained support not only from the United Mine Workers, but also other unions, including the AFL-CIO trade union federation. And it tied the action to support of the National Union of Mineworkers in South Africa. Desmond Tutu joined the press conference launching the boycott, and churches joined actively in the coalition. The Interfaith Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) added Shell to its list of 12 key corporate ‘partners in apartheid’ targeted for divestment actions."

The Christian Liberation Movement has drawn from this history and is calling for a clear, coordinated, multilateral targeting of companies doing business with the Castro regime, targeting them with boycotts, protests, sit-ins, and peaceful invasions of said companies until they divest from the dictatorship in Havana. The effort Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined demonstrated that it worked in South Africa and it can work again today in Cuba. 

Nontombi "Naomi" Tutu

He is survived by four children who have continued their father's nonviolent legacy. At the University of Rochester Nontombi "Naomi" Tutu, the third child of Desmond Tutu, who grew up in the midst of the racist apartheid regime in South Africa, in 2011 she gave the lecture “Our Shared Humanity: Creating Understanding Through the Principles of Martin Luther King Jr.,” and offered some insights on nonviolence:

  • "The lessons of Gandhi and King are that for true liberty and liberation, we have to be those who hold up the humanity of all.”
  • “We can’t dehumanize others without dehumanizing ourselves."
  • “We were going to be a family who did pray for those who oppressed us.”


Archbishop Desmond Tutu demonstrates his solidarity with Aung San Suu Kyi

Media coverage of the Covid-19 response in Cuba reveals crisis in U.S. journalism

Yander Zamora/EPA

Newspapers, TV news, and their websites  are losing an audience to levels never seen before. Some blame it on the departure of Trump, and others on the arrival of Biden. However, there is a more troublesome reason, and I will focus on an area that this blog is knowledgeable about to explain. The 2016 campaign accelerated negative trends, and the media has never recovered

According to media reports, Zika was raging through all of the Caribbean in 2016, except Cuba. This blog at the time repeatedly raised concerns about these claims and found circumstantial evidence and a past history of coverups and underreporting by Havana that should have given one pause. 

Fake news in Cuba: PAHO chart from 2016 was wrong (Source: PAHO/WHO)

On April 5, 2021, The Washington Post published a letter to the editor were I highlighted part of this history of regime obfuscation of health data, including Zika.

Desi Mendoza Rivero was arrested on June 25, 1997, for warning about a dengue epidemic in Cuba. On Nov. 24, 1997, he was sentenced to eight years in prison for “enemy propaganda.” Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience and campaigned for his freedom. Dr. Rivero’s claims were eventually confirmed, and he was forcibly exiled.

On Sept. 2, 2016, the Associated Press reported that Cuba had “remarkable success in containing Zika virus.” On Jan. 8, 2019, New Scientist reported the whole story when the facts became known: “Cuba failed to report thousands of Zika virus cases in 2017.”

Repression patterns during this pandemic in Cuba indicate officials seek to downplay covid-19’s severity on the island. According to Duane Gubler at the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, “Cuba has a history of not reporting epidemics until they become obvious,” and that is pretty bad.

Havana had claimed to be Zika free, until the impending March 2016 state visit by President Barack Obama necessitated their admitting to its existence on the island to avoid embarrassment if someone in the US delegation contracted the illness. [This is my hypothesis.] Meanwhile, Scientific American, the Associated Press, and too many others to list here continued peddling the official line that all was under control.

Cuba in August 2016 was reporting three confirmed cases and 30 cases brought in from abroad while having mounted a propaganda campaign in February 2016 claiming to have deployed 9,000 troops in a preventive battle against Zika reported The Guardian.

This turned out to be false, and scores of sick foreign tourists exposed the lie.

New Scientist broke the story 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."  Based on analysis based on the number of travelers infected in Cuba, the number of Zika infections were 5,400. Nowhere near the numbers reported by Cuban health officials.

What is shocking is that less than three years later the media continue to report Havana's claims without qualification, including New Scientist. They are doing this now with the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, and once again it does not pass the smell test. 

Castro regime officials decided not to acquire vaccines from their allies, China and Russia, or sign up with the United Nation's COVAX program. Russian and Chinese vaccines became available in Latin America as early as February 2021. Reports of Russian and Chinese COVID-19 vaccines reaching Latin America made news in early March 2021, but Havana declined them preferring to promote their still unavailable domestic vaccines while most other countries in Latin America did.

Official regime journalist Leticia Martinez Hernandez over Twitter on May 18, 2021 bragged that "Cuba will be the first country in the world to vaccinate their whole population with their own vaccines. Live to see!" She even replied to her own Tweet that she would keep the above "tweet fixed until then. I want to remember the feat on which we have bet." Havana's foreign ministry on June 9, 2021 repeated the same campaign theme as the official journalist: "Cuba could be the first country to immunize its entire population with its own vaccines. The population wants and trusts the vaccine candidates, our science, and the country's experience in vaccine development."  

Officials rejected using alternative vaccines over the six months that they were available because their first "homegrown vaccines" were not ready for clinical trials until May 2021 in Havana and June 2021 in the rest of the island. Meanwhile thousands of Cubans died, and the regime could not cover it up. This was one of the causes of the July 2021 protests.

Tîcö Äwö Ôrümîlä, buried his grandmother in a mass grave at the Juan González cemetery, in Santiago, Cuba. (Facebook)

No mention of this was made in the NBC News or New Scientist reports, which echoed glowing claims about vaccination and COVID-19 rates made by officials in Havana. The NBC News article in the first paragraph reads like Prensa Latina.

"Cuba has vaccinated more of its citizens against Covid-19 than most of the world’s largest and richest nations, a milestone that will make the poor, communist-run country a test case as the highly contagious Omicron variant begins to circle the globe."

 It is only way down in paragraph nine that the NBC News article reveals that none of the Cuban vaccines have been peer reviewed.  The Hill goes even further with a video extolling the regime's successes and claims that the regime will submit to being peer reviewed in 2022 by the World Health Organization.

Where are the fact checkers? Where is the institutional memory? These acts of journalistic malpractice are part of the reason that Newspapers, TV news, and their websites  are losing their audiences. They want news not recycled government propaganda.

The data provided by Havana cannot be independently verified, but that is not revealed in the reporting. Also, why not compare Cuba's COVID-19 response with Taiwan's? They are both islands with powerful nations next door with competing ideologies.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

A Christmas Miracle: The End of the Soviet Union

"My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realising Him. " - Mohandas Gandhi

Christmas returns to the Kremlin

Thirty years ago, on December 25, 1991, a regime born in 1917 and formerly named in 1922 came to an end. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), or as it was also known, the Soviet Union, was formerly brought to an end on Christmas day and replaced by the Commonwealth of Independent States. The last day of the Soviet Union was on Christmas day. Let that sink in for a moment.

Now there are those who claim that the world is a less stable place without the Soviet Union, and Mikhail Gorbachev claims that it could have been reformed. Academic Stephen F. Cohen goes further and quotes approvingly both Putin and Mikhail Khodorkovsky with the adage: "Anyone who does not regret the breakup of the Soviet Union has no heart. And anyone who thinks it can be reconstructed has no head." Vaclav Havel, a man who had both head and heart, understood why this kind of regime was so profoundly inhuman: "As soon as man began considering himself the source of the highest meaning in the world and the measure of everything, the world began to lose its human dimension, and man began to lose control of it."

The optimism expressed by Gorbachev and the nostalgia of Cohen fails to take into account the human cost of the USSR. The Soviet Union took the lives of an estimated 61 million human beings. It was a brutal and evil system that allied with Nazi Germany to start WW2 in 1939, and afterwards spawned other brutal regimes around the globe that claimed over 100 million lives. Their lives mattered. Vaclav Havel, in his 1990 New Years Speech, called on his countrymen not to forget:  

"The rivers of blood that have flowed in Hungary, Poland, Germany and recently in such a horrific manner in Romania, as well as the sea of blood shed by the nations of the Soviet Union, must not be forgotten. First of all because all human suffering concerns every other human being. But more than this, they must also not be forgotten because it is these great sacrifices that form the tragic background of today's freedom or the gradual emancipation of the nations of the Soviet Bloc, and thus the background of our own newfound freedom." 

The number of lives lost is only the material accounting and does not take into account the spiritual ruin visited upon billions and its aftermath to the present day. The late Czech president  explained it in the very same address.

"The worst thing is that we live in a contaminated moral environment. We fell morally ill because we became used to saying something different from what we thought. We learned not to believe in anything, to ignore one another, to care only about ourselves. Concepts such as love, friendship, compassion, humility or forgiveness lost their depth and dimension, and for many of us they represented only psychological peculiarities, or they resembled gone-astray greetings from ancient times, a little ridiculous in the era of computers and spaceships."

The destruction, both material and spiritual, generated by the Soviet Union over seventy years will take centuries to repair and transcend. That hard truth may not be cause for celebration, but the end of the system that wreaked so much damage is cause for celebration, not regret. To do otherwise is to be heartless. The fact that it happened without violence on Christmas Day in 1991 is also cause for joy. 

Sadly, the largest remaining communist regime, the Peoples Republic of China, remains in power and continues to do harm around the world with the aid of smaller communist powers (Cuba, Laos, Nicaragua, North Korea, Venezuela, Vietnam, and their networks). The Chinese Communist Party celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding in 2021. It is a tragedy that they did not go the same way as the Soviet Union in 1991.

Time to pray and work for a new miracle in China

Over 5.4 million people have died due to a pandemic unleashed by the communist dictatorship in Beijing. However, this is a small number for the Communist Chinese Party that has killed more than ten times as many Chinese people to advance communist policies in China alone. 

 People of goodwill must continue to work for and pray for the day that a second miracle can be celebrated with the the end of communism in China, and a new dawn of freedom around the world.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Cuban Grinch, dead five years, outlawed Christmas in Cuba for 29 years. Political show trials through Christmas 2021 show toxic legacy continues


The fictional original Grinch, and the more sinister real life counterpart

American children's author, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss brought the Grinch into existence in 1955, and wrote about How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 1957. In  the story the Grinch, a creature covered in green fur, decides to stop Christmas from coming. He does this by dressing up like Santa Claus then proceeds to expropriate all of the presents, the Christmas tree, and the food for the Christmas feast among those observing the holiday.

Although not covered in green fur, Fidel Castro dressed in a green camouflage uniform throughout his dictatorial rule. He claimed to be a force of liberation, but in short order began expropriating everyone's property, mass executions, and turned the country into a vast prison. In the case of Cuba children were familiar with the Three Kings, and propaganda murals portrayed Mr. Castro and other revolutionaries in that light.

The Independent (Ireland) in 2017 had Fidel Castro on the short list of Grinch like figures who were sworn enemies of Christmas, and there is reason for the comparison.

 Fidel Castro canceled Christmas in 1969 under the pretext to prevent work shortages for the 1970 ten million ton sugar harvest but continued the ban through 1997. The Cuban dictator would send mobs to intimidate Cubans who attended religious services. Three Kings Day and Easter were also abolished

Priests who stayed behind often paid a terrible price.

In 1976 the Castro dictatorship adopted a constitution which turned Cuba into an atheist state

Unlike the Grinch, Fidel Castro did not restore Christmas due to a change of heart.  It took 29 years and a Catholic Pope leveraging the old dictator.

Pope John Paul II negotiated for the return of Christmas as an official holiday in Cuba in conversations surrounding his 1998 visit to Cuba. 

Cubans were finally no longer subjected to state repression for observing Christmas, and began to be officially observed on December 25, 1998

Despite the formal return of Christmas, repression still takes place over the holidays on the tropical island.

State Security does not go on holiday.

Ten years ago, on Christmas day 2011 three Ladies in White Leticia Ramos Herrería, age 42, Sayma Lamas, age 43, and Elizabeth Pacheco Lamas, age 20 were beaten up and detained by state security agents. The secret police punched and kicked the women and stopped them from attending Christmas Mass.

Lady in White Leticia Ramos

Cuban independent journalist and labor activist Iván Hernández Carrillo in a series of tweets on January 5, 2017 reported on repression against Lady in White Leticia Ramos Herrería and her family in order to prevent them giving toys to children on January 6, 2017:

Combined forces of the national police and secret police raided the home of Lady in White Leticia Ramos this morning (tweeted on January 5th at 1:53pm). Armed forces confiscated the toys that were in the home for Three Kings Day in Cárdenas, Matanzas (1:54pm). In the raid they brutally beat up Randy Monteoca and Alexey Ramos son and brother of the Lady in White, were also arrested (1:55pm). Since this morning the situation of Lady in White Leticia Ramos is unknown, her mobile phone is off or outside the coverage area (6:14pm).  This morning at 11:05am Iván Hernández Carrillo tweeted that "Leticia Ramos and her son Randy Monteoca released yesterday afternoon, the latter with a 2,000 peso fine.
This state security operation was not taking place in a vacuum.  Not only were human rights overall in serious decline in Cuba, but religious repression in 2016 reached levels not seen since 1992.

The Office of Religious Affairs (ORA), an arm of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, continues to oversee religious affairs in Cuba, and exists to monitor, hinder and restrict religious activities.

Meanwhile,the repressive apparatus continues to grind on destroying Cuban lives. Over 90 Cubans have been subjected to political show trials between December 13th and December 23rd. 

CiberCuba reported today on the condemnation of a father and daughter present during the July protests.

Fredi Beirut Matos, (64) Katia Beirut Rodríguez, (36), condemned 20 years in prison

Fredi Beirut Matos, (age 64), and his daughter, Katia Beirut Rodríguez, (age 36), both witnessed the killing of Diubis Laurencio by police, in Havana, were both sentenced on Thursday December 23, 2021 to 20 years in prison for the alleged crime of sedition. Independent journalist Claudia Padrón Cueto denounced on her Facebook profile, based on a previous publication by a relative, that their "greatest crime is they witnessed how police killed Laurencio, a Black man, from a poor neighborhood who was unarmed, who was shot. The military prosecutor's office says it was in self-defense. The videos of his death show that the only thing that he had was a cell phone in his hand. Fredi and Katia were direct witnesses and they are paying for it, " 

The proceedings continued today on Christmas Eve in the Isle of Pines.

Vicente Morin Aguado reports in Havana Times that the prosecution is requesting that Martha de los Ángeles Pérez Acosta, Ramón Salazar Infante and Francisco Alfaro Diéguez be sentenced to three years in prison, and Juan Luis Sánchez González be sentenced to eight years in prison for "inciting public disorder." 

What did they actually do? They proclaimed in a city park the lack of existing freedoms, and called for democracy.

Hundreds of Cuban families are suffering across the island this Christmas as the dictatorship launches another wave to terrorize and silence Cubans.

The Cuban Grinch died in 2016, but his toxic legacy continues.