Saturday, April 30, 2022

Dugin's call to arm US adversaries is at least five years too late: Russian troops have been in Latin America for years, and armed Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela

“The American Empire should be destroyed. And at one point, it will be.” - Aleksandr Dugin, The Fourth Political Theory

Vladimir Putin and his philosopher Aleksandr Dugin

Aleksandr Gelyevich Dugin, known as Putin's philosopher, who has Vladimir Putin's ear, has called for Russia to arm U.S. adversaries in Latin America like Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. He is at least five years too late.

Russia already armed these three dictatorial regimes hostile to democracies in the region. Dugin's "threat" describes an existing state of affairs. 

Russia not only armed these three countries, but has had a military presence in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela for years.

In 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry declared the end of the Monroe Doctrine era. The US would no longer counter intrusions from outside powers into the Americas. 

The reality is that it had been a dead letter since 1961. 

In April 2016, Nicaragua purchased 50 Russian battle tanks at a cost of $80 million. Vladimir Putin signed a new security agreement with Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega in 2016.

Maduro's regime invited Russian mercenaries to protect him in Venezuela. Reports in 2019 indicated that there are already 2,000 Russian nationals working in intelligence roles and reporting to the Ministry of Defense, and their numbers are increasing.

During the Cold War, Paulina Zelitsky, a Soviet born Canadian Engineer, was a member of a design and construction team for a Soviet submarine base installation in Jagua Bay, Cienfuegos, Cuba. In 2020, she said, the Russians were rebuilding their nuclear submarine base in Cuba.

The United States has remained publicly indifferent to the Russian military buildup in Latin America.

In the case of Ukraine, when the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, and Kyiv became independent with its own nuclear stockpile. Moscow tried to negotiate with Kyiv for them to give up their nuclear weapons, but could not reach an agreement. The United States and the United Kingdom together with Russia guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and Kyiv gave up their nuclear stockpile to Russia in the 1990s. 

In stark contrast, Vladimir Putin is threatening nuclear war because NATO countries are helping Ukraine, a nation he invaded in an act of naked aggression in violation of international law, and pledges made by Moscow too Kyiv to respect its territorial integrity. 

The invasion itself is considered a war crime, but the targeting of civilians rises to the level of crimes against humanity.  

Putin's enablers are trying to equate the present Ukraine crisis with the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The two are not comparable. The United States did not invade Cuba when the Russian set up a military presence there, or armed the Castro regime with conventional weapons. 

It was only after the Soviet Union shipped in intercontinental ballistic missiles with hydrogen bombs that could reach the entire continental United States that the crisis began, and was ended when those offensive weapons were removed, but the Russians stayed, and so did their conventional weapons.

Dugin and Putin both seek the restoration of the Russian empire, and are willing to risk WWIII to achieve their imperial designs.  Russia in taking Ukraine would seize an additional 11.5% in world production of Wheat. The current war is also creating greater global food insecurity threatening multiple famines.

On September 21, 2019, at the Nexus Symposium in  Amsterdam French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy debated Russian philosopher and nationalist Aleksandr Dugin. Over the course of an hour one could hear first hand the case made for Russian imperialism by Dugin, and his critiques of Western democracy, the Enlightenment, and  Lévy's powerful rebuttal.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day

 "It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say. It can happen, and it can happen everywhere." - Primo Levi, 1986 The Drowned and the Saved

Never Forget   

We must never forget what happened and remain vigilant now and in the future to battle against the mass destruction of innocent human beings.  Polls in 2020 showed that new generations are ignorant of the Holocaust are deeply troubling. Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, remembers the six million Jewish people murdered in the Nazi Holocaust, and continuing forms of antisemitism in the world today.

Equally troubling today is a tyrant that wages aggressive war and commits atrocities to “de-Nazify” a democratic country led by a Jewish president.

Vladimir Putin would like the world to forget the Soviet Union's historic collaboration with Nazis in starting WW2, and Moscow's demonizing of the Jewish people through to the present day, but we owe it to the victims to remember the full history. Juliana Geran Pilon in her March 11, 2022 OpEd "Putin’s ‘De-Nazification’ Claim Began With Marx and Stalin: Anti-Semitic myths have long been a staple of communist ideology and Soviet disinformation" summarized and sourced this history in this excerpt.

Still, as the historian Robert S. Wistrich wrote, “it was only after 1967 that antisemitism and anti-Zionism would assume a truly systematic and organized character. . . . In place of the relentless Nazi myth about ‘Jewish Bolshevism,’ the Soviet Communists began to fabricate the equally mendacious thesis of ‘Jewish Nazism.’ ”

The idea of a Zionist-imperialist-fascist-American conspiracy culminated in the infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution, passed in 1975 by a majority of United Nations member states. By the time the resolution was repealed in 1991, it had done significant damage. Osama bin Laden believed the fantasies of the “Protocols,” Mr. Wistrich wrote in his book “A Lethal Obsession.” The jihadist’s conviction that the world is run by a capitalist, Jewish cabal explains why the 9/11 suicide hijackers expected the World Trade Center to be full of Jews.

Placed in its historical context, this myth of antifascism, anti-Nazism and anti-Zionism is far more than rhetoric.

As Santayana observed, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. This is why we must remember and say never again.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

US and Cuban officials hold talks amid tensions over migration. Will Havana again be rewarded for weaponizing migration?

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

Cuban migrants forced back to Mexico by U.S. - Los Angeles Times

Original: CubaBrief

During President Obama's detente with General Raul Castro between 2014 and 2016 over 120,000 Cubans entered the United States in another migration surge comparable to Mariel. This was at a time of loosened sanctions, and under an Administration seeking normalized relations that provided an influx of international credits to the Castro regime. 

Secondly, tougher sanctions began to be put in place in 2017, but migration from Cuba during the Trump Administration returned to the lower pre-normalization levels of 2011

President Biden, during his 2020 campaign, promised a return to the Obama Cuba policy, and engagement by an Administration that, unlike his predecessor, would act rationally.

Cuban migration began to rise during the early days of the Biden Administration and was drawing press scrutiny in April 2021. In mid July 2021, Senator Marco Rubio warned of a Mariel-style crisis after the 11J protests in Cuba.

The Afghanistan pullout completed on August 30, 2021, and signaling Putin that he could make a minor incursion into Ukraine without serious repercussions, in early 2022 may have all sent a green light to Havana that they could further intensify the migration crisis with the belief that they could leverage additional concessions from the Biden Administration

The influx dramatically increased with Cubans traveling through Nicaragua in the last month of 2021.  In late November 2021, days after the United States condemned Cuban-ally Daniel Ortega for stealing the Nicaraguan presidential election on November 7, 2021, Managua lifted visa requirements on Cubans entering the country, creating a new and larger channel for an exodus. 

Havana's tactic against Washington is explained in Professor Kelly M. Greenhill's 2002 paper, "Engineered Migration and the Use of Refugees as Political Weapons: A Case Study of the 1994 Cuban Balseros Crisis." (Please let us know if you need a copy.)

Castro regime actions over the past 63 years demonstrate that Havana uses migration as a weapon and has the capability to open migration up or shut it down depending on foreign policy goals and the perceived risk that a hawkish administration may call their bluff or pursue some sort of action that would endanger the regime's future, or negatively impact the dictatorship internationally. Economic conditions and sanctions are not the determining factors in generating a migration crisis. It is the ability to obtain unilateral concessions from the United States without incurring a negative response.

Will Havana again be rewarded for weaponizing migration? They claim that the talk was focused on migration and not part of any broader thaw. Time will tell. Message to policy makers: Loosening sanctions is not the answer. Its been tried and failed three times. The fourth time won't be the charm.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Good Friday and Passover Reflection on religious freedom in Cuba. Remembering Basilio Guzmán and Bishop Agustín Román

Take up the cross and follow ...

Taking up the cross.

Source: CubaBrief

Today has powerful significance for both Christians and Jews. On April 15th Passover, also known as Pesach in Hebrew, begins at nightfall. Passover commemorates the liberation of the Hebrews from over two centuries of slavery when Moses led them out of Egypt. It has been celebrated since 1300 BC according to the Book of Exodus in the Bible, and will conclude on April 23rd at nightfall. It is a Jewish celebration of liberation

Moses leads Hebrews out of slavery.

Today also marks Good Friday, the day that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified and died in 33 AD. This was the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of humanity. Pope John Paul II on Good Friday, April 10, 1998 at the end of the Via Crucis in Rome gave this powerful reflection on its importance.

“It is now the dead of night. As we contemplate Christ dead on the Cross, our thoughts turn to the countless injustices and sufferings which prolong his passion in every part of the world. I think of the places where man is insulted and humiliated, downtrodden and exploited. In every person suffering from hatred and violence, or rejected by selfishness and indifference, Christ continues to suffer and die. On the faces of those who have been "defeated by life" there appear the features of the face of Christ dying on the Cross. Ave, Crux, spes unica! Today too, from the Cross there springs hope for all.”

Both Passover and Good Friday are part of the religious tradition of most Cubans that speaks to the struggle for freedom both material and spiritual, but a new significance is added following 63 years of communist tyranny and repression. In the Christian Gospels Jesus Christ called on his followers to “take up the cross and follow Me.

On September 17, 1961, Castro regime agents at gunpoint collected 131 priests, brothers and a bishop, placing them on board the Spanish ship Covadonga and deported them from Cuba. Over 300 priests, brothers, and nuns were expelled from Cuba in 1961 alone.

Cuban priests expelled from Cuba at gunpoint on September 17, 1961

Many of the remaining priests and nuns were sent to forced labor camps. The Castro regime declared itself an atheist state in 1962, and openly hostile to religion. Christmas ended as a holiday in Cuba in 1969. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union the dictatorship declared itself "secular" and Christmas returned to Cuba in 1997, but restrictions continued.

Judaism was not exempt from religious repression under the Castro dictatorship. Seth J. Frantzman, a Jewish academic based in Jerusalem, following the death of Fidel Castro in November 2016 wrote an analysis of the tyrant's antisemitism.

"Most Jews fled Cuba when Castro came to power, dwindling from 15,000 to around 1,500 by 2014. Once Castro entered the Soviet orbit the official anti-Zionist and anti-Israel line became common in Cuba, but most writers argue it did not flow over into anti-semitism. Only one anti-semitic incident, stone throwing at a synagogue during the 1973 war, was recorded in decades."

The attack on the synagogue coincided with Fidel Castro breaking diplomatic relations with Israel on September 10, 1973. The lack of reported antisemitic incidents had more to do with the end of independent civil society and the outlawing of human rights groups under the Castro regime.  Frantzman exposes the duplicity of Fidel Castro in Mosaic in the November 29, 2016 article, “The Truth about Fidel Castro and Anti-Semitism” , highlighting how the Cuban dictator prevented the importation of kosher meat.

In 1994, … [Israel’s chief rabbi] Rabbi Israel Meir Lau attempted to get Castro to allow kosher meat into Cuba. [Israeli diplomat Joel Barromi provided details to  Haaaretz writer Adi Schwartz in a 2006 interview.]  The Cuban leader had initially rejected Lau’s request to bring in kosher meat. “I told you that I am fighting against the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in my country…do you want to make my people anti-Semitic,” Castro asked. “We have the practice of allocating 150 grams of bread a day, but the Jews in Cuba would have meat? [The people] will have a horrible hatred for them, envy them tremendously and loot their homes if under such conditions you see to import kosher meat for the Jews, you yourself create the anti-Semitism that I have been stopping.”

This is the example of supposedly stopping anti-semitism, to threaten Jews that if they should want to eat kosher meat that they would “create” anti-semitism. Castro was at first admitting that he had starved his country by putting it on bread rations, but surely Cubans eat some meat. So why would some meat for Jewish people “make” them anti-Semitic?  One wonders whether “envy” for Muslims eating Halal would create the same excuse for Islamophobia just because Muslims celebrate Eid by eating a sheep?  According to articles the same Cuba that feared meat would force people to be anti-semitic, was welcoming to Halal food.

Havana aided, trained, and armed terrorist groups that targeted Israel for destruction. Cuban troops were sent by Castro to the Middle East to fight against Israel, with the Yom Kippur War being a high profile example.

The few Jews remaining in Cuba continue to be subjected to antisemitism.

Olainis Tejada Beltrán, Yeliney Lescaille Prebal and their kids Liusdan Martínez Lescaille, Daniel Moises

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) on December 23, 2019 reported that Liusdan Martínez Lescaille, a twelve year-old Jewish boy was forbidden by Cuban educational authorities from entering his school while wearing a kippah ( also known as a yarmulke) since December 11, 2019 with the result that he has been prevented from continuing his education. His younger brother, Daniel Moises, has also been subjected to the ban and government authorities threatened to open legal proceedings against his parents, jailing them and taking their children away, for "threatening the children’s normal development." CSW documented that Liusdan was regularly beaten up at school since the family moved to the Nuevitas municipality in 2016, and that the situation worsened in September 2019.

Many Cuban exiles have identified with the Jewish community that until 1948 would say “Next year in Jerusalem,” with their own hopeful lament of “Next year in Havana.”

This week has special significance for Cuban exiles. On April 13, 2022 Cuban exile, former prisoner of conscience and Plantado Basilio Guzmán Marrero passed away after a long illness. He was 84 years old.

On 7/10/19 Basilio Guzmán, others carry out vigil to protest 7/13/94 tugboat massacre.

Ten years ago on April 11, 2012 Cuban exiled Bishop Agustín Román died at age 83 in Miami, FL. This anniversary was observed in Miami with religious services and an OpEd by Archbishop Thomas Wenski in El Nuevo Herald

These two Cuban exiles loved Cuba and the Cuban people and wanted them to be free. Both Cubans in the diaspora and on the island understand this, but not some of the so-called Cuba experts in academia.

Bishop Agustín Román (May 5, 1928 - April 11, 2012) at La Ermita

Canadian Professor Peter McKenna would characterize both as being "anti-Cuba" because of their opposition to the Castro dictatorship. Professor McKenna's claim is Orwellian. Thankfully others in the Canadian academy challege this false narrative. Professor Yvon Grenier in his OpEd ”Since when are Cuban exiles anti-Cuba?” published in the Saltwire Network on April 15, 2022 sets the record straight.

In his April 5 opinion piece entitled “Sixty years of a misguided U.S. blockade of Cuba,” Prof. Peter McKenna characterizes many of the 1.3 million Cuban-Americans as being “anti-Cuba.” Do we ever say, by way of comparison, that members of Afghan or Guatemalan exile communities are “anti-Afghanistan” or “anti-Guatemala”? No government is its people — especially when the government is not chosen freely by its citizens.

Opposing the Castro dictatorship is thoroughly pro-Cuba. Bishop Agustín Román in a talk he gave on "The importance of the current internal dissident movement in Cuba" on December 16, 2006 argued love is the driving force to seek change in Cuba.

"If what we do for Cuba, we do not do for love, better not do it. If all of us who want the good of the nation, of the important internal dissident movement and the persevering of exile arm ourselves with these virtues, we will be effective. If we are committed to not let personalism, or the passions dilute them, we will have won. If we keep them and transmit them to all our people, we will have secured for Cuba a happy future."

Basilio Guzmán Marrero, who was jailed for 22 years, and tortured for most of that time in Cuban prisons, refused his whole life to cooperate with evil, and remained committed to a free Cuba. He fought against the dictatorships of Fulgencio Batista, and Fidel Castro. Father Agustin Roman, together with many other clerics, was escorted at gunpoint out of Cuba on September 17, 1961. Neither Basilio or Father Román was "anti-Cuban" but they were profoundly anti-dictatorship and openly hostile to any manifestation of injustice.

Basilio holds poster of Mario De La Peña, killed by Castro 2/24/96, at Cuban Embassy in Wash DC on 2/20/20.

There is one authorized biography Pastor, Profeta, Patriarca (Pastor, Prophet, Patriarch) of Bishop Agustín Román, written by Daniel Shoer, a secular Jewish journalist. Shoer described what happened to Father Román after being forcibly deported at gunpoint in a December 27, 2015 article of Rocio Granados in La Voz Catolica.

“Put aboard a ship bound for Spain along with 130 other priests and religious, including the then auxiliary bishop of Havana, Eduardo Boza Masvidal, the transatlantic trek turned into a ‘high seas retreat’ where the religious exiles discerned that their new calling was to be missionaries to the Cuban diaspora.”

In 1966 Father Román arrived in Miami and oversaw the construction of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity on Biscayne Bay that was completed in 1973. Bishop Román told Shoer of the challenge completing it.

“I thought I wouldn’t be able to do anything because in this country, you need money to build churches, and what we had were people picking tomatoes, working in the fields, in the factories, and all they could contribute were tarnished pennies.”

“Even more impressive, the shrine was completely paid for when it was built. ‘He said in the countryside (where he grew up) no one used credit,’ Shoer said”, in the December 27, 2015 article “New book tells life story of Bishop Agustín Román ‘Pastor, Prophet, Patriarch’ was authored by Jewish journalist, with bishop’s OK.” In 1979 Father Román became the first Cuban to be appointed a bishop in the U.S.

On 7/11/21 Basilio at Cuban Embassy (Wash DC) protesting Oswaldo Payá & Harold Cepero killings.

Basilio would protest the new injustices occurring in Cuba after his release and exile in 1984, the massacre of 37 men, women, and children on July 13, 1994 by Castro agents for trying to leave Cuba on the 13 de Marzo tugboat, the killing of four Brothers to the Rescue members on February 24, 1996 shot down in international airspace, and the killing of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante on July 22, 2012. These are three of many examples.

Today it is up to the living to continue their legacy of integrity, love of country, desire for justice and pursuit of freedom for their homeland.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported on April 12, 2022 that Reverend Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo was sentenced to eight years in prison in December 2021. His family only learned of the decision last week, in a communication sent by Havana to the United Nations in response to a request for information regarding the pastor’s detention. He has two children. A son, David, aged 18, and a daughter, Lorena, aged 12. “Over the past nine months, He has only been permitted to see them, and his wife Maridilegnis Carballo, in a few fleeting visits to the maximum-security prison where he is currently being held.”  

Lorena, aged 12, David, aged 18, Rev Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo, and Maridilegnis Carballo.

“Upon finally learning of her husband’s sentencing, Maridilegnis Carballo told CSW: ‘I don’t know if I can bear so much injustice and so many lies… how painful to see the disgraceful condition of the government of this nation… They know that we are all witnesses to their lies. They no longer even have the shame to hide their lies.’“

Regime apologists in academia and the pro-Castro lobby describe denouncing these injustices and efforts to cut off support for the secret police and military apparatus that carry them out as being “anti-Cuba.” The stark reality is that those who defend and romanticize the dictatorship are the ones that are “anti-Cuba” assisting a brutal tyranny to destroy an entire people. On the first night of Passover and Good Friday we remember those, like Basilio Guzmán Marrero and Bishop Agustín Román, who refused to cooperate with evil and endured suffering for the sake of the freedom of the Cuban people. May their courageous lives inspire many more to follow their path.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Bishop Agustín Román on the Cuban Resistance: Celebrating life and lessons of a good Priest.

Ten years ago tonight Cubans lost the physical presence of one of the great leaders of the Cuban exile community who passed away at the age of 83 but his spirit and his writings live on. Bishop Agustín Román wrote and spoke about the challenges facing the Cuban people and in this December 16, 2006 reflection offered an analysis of the state of the Cuban dissident movement that remains extremely relevant a decade after his death. This is an English translation. The original Spanish text is available here.


The importance of the current internal dissident movement in Cuba
by Bishop Agustín Román


Less than a week ago we celebrated the date of December 10, the anniversary of the proclamation by the Organization of the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that is growing in importance over the years, because in it achieved capturing a strong recognition of the dignity of the individual without limitations of race, nationality or belief and without limitations of time and place either, as the same is true for all times and all peoples.

Clearly this being the statement of a secular and supra-confessional organization, there is no religious reference in that statement whatsoever. However, the men of faith and even those without being religious who have followed the development of the human race from its beginnings to the present, it is not difficult to find the source of the underlying principles of human belief about their own dignity and inherent rights in their relationship with God, a god who in almost all major religions demonstrates providence, attentive to the needs of his creatures and possessor of a clear sense of the just.

On the other hand, the important role the delegation of the Republic of Cuba to the United Nations in 1948 in the drafting and promulgation of the Universal Charter, particularly by Drs. Dihigo Ernesto, Guillermo Belt, and Guy Perez Cisneros is a historical fact.

So for me, being Cuban and Catholic, it is an enormous privilege that our beloved and respected Father Felix Varela Foundation, invited me to share with its members and friends some thoughts on the importance of current dissident movement in Cuba, as this issue cannot be properly addressed without relating it directly to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It's good, then, do so now, as part of the celebrations for the 58th anniversary of the proclamation and it is urgent to do so also by the special circumstances faced by the Cuban nation in these moments.

Thanks, then, to the Father Felix Varela Foundation to create a favorable atmosphere for this opportunity to carefully and sensibly that we must seize to look carefully at the past and present of our people to learn and understand what is necessary in order that each of us can be a facilitator of a future in which that document becomes an invaluable guide of coexistence among Cubans. If we achieve that, we will be implementing in the field of civic, what the Lord previously synthesized in his new command as a compendium of his doctrine: "Love one another as I have loved you."


The dissident movement inside Cuba is something new in its methods, but is part of a tradition as old as the recorded history of the island following the discovery: the search for justice, which is equivalent to what we now define as respect for human rights. Colonization had barely started under the command of Diego de Velasquez, when he encountered the determined resistance of indigenous groups, that if we take into account their peaceful nature, and lack of coordination between different tribes in remote villages separated from each other, we have be described as remarkable, though doomed from the outset by superior numbers and armaments of the colonizers. Those Tainos were guided by the natural light that makes man differentiate between right and wrong.

Since then and even before it was surfacing the idea of the ​​Cuban as something other than Spanish, a strong sense of justice was taking over increasingly growing segments among the inhabitants of the "ever faithful Isle of Cuba", subjected to the arbitrariness of the representatives of the Crown, to the point that all students of this subject agree that that was precisely what eventually shaped the "criollo" as being different from the "peninsular."

The early rebellions of the miners of El Cobre and the planters of Jesus on the Mount in the first half of the eighteenth century, the preaching of learned men who today identify as founders of our nationality such as Father Varela, Luz y Caballero, Saco, etc.., and the first separatist conspiracies and attempts, often encouraged by Creoles of high economic status, we further indicate that the aspiration to justice was shared by men and women of all races and social strata. All this crystallizes in the Ten Years War, at whose beginning Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, after appealing to the "God of our consciousness with his hand over his heart," declared, "we believe that all men are equal, we love tolerance, order and justice ... "and later consolidated in the War of Independence, when José Martí summarizes the purpose of it saying that he wanted that "the fundamental law of the Republic be the respect of each Cuban for the full dignity of man. "

Later, over the 56 years since the establishment of the Republic until 1 January 1959, we see that the desire for justice is growing and it is the engine of social progress in Cuba. Under its influence popular laws arise, powerful labor movements, political groups, educational institutions, and social work. Early on it achieved the recognition of the right of women to vote, the eight-hour workday, the concept of equal pay for equal work, etc.. Persistent evils such as public corruption, racial discrimination and the marked economic differences between rural and urban areas, always found it rejected by citizens. The Constitution of 1940 and its complementary laws, not always obeyed, are on the path of achieving justice. The political-philosophical debate between liberals, conservatives, marxists, social democrats, etc... is a debate designed to show which proposal is closer to what is right. Cuban Catholic Action in the mid-1950s, an emerging force that proposes the Social Doctrine of the Church as an ideal vehicle for those aspirations.

These aspirations centered on demands such as the restoration of constitutional order, the cleaning up of public administration, etc.., are what were moving the large Cuban majorities support of the revolution that came to power on the first day of 1959. These same aspirations for justice are what make this euphoria quickly fade, like a soap bubble, before the marxist twist of the revolution. As early as November 1959, the Civic Plaza in Havana is filled with Catholics who, at the foot of the venerated image of Our Lady, Patroness of Cuba under the beautiful title of Our Lady of Charity, cry out loud "Social Justice, yes, communism, no! ". Then began another new and bloody stage of struggle for Cubans, this time against an enemy unknown in its cruelty and underestimated in its audacity. But again the ideal of justice moved Cubans to a heroic and at the same time extremely painful confrontation, as civil wars always are.

Without calculating risks or measuring the chances of success, those with "hunger and thirst for justice" faced a totalitarian despotism that did not hesitate to take thousands of compatriots before firing squads, and filling the prisons. The cries of "Viva Cristo Rey!" were the best evidence of the most just motivation of that struggle, which had memorable episodes at the Bay of Pigs, in the mountains and plains around the country and in urban centers where, according to the mentality of the times, tradition, and what appeared to be logical, it saw the armed violent struggle as the only way to get one day, paradoxically, the Republic that, together with Martí, we dreamed cordial, "with all and for the good of all."

By the mid-60, the magnitude of the repression, the support of the Soviet camp of the oppressors, the abandonment of those we believed allies of the fighters for democracy and the complacency of a world, many of whose leaders and thinkers believed fatally destined to fall into the Communist orbit, crushed in Cuba the active resistance. The Camarioca exodus in 1965 and subsequent "Freedom Flights" gave the mortal blow to the brave and sacrificed Cuban underground.

It continued, yes, the quiet individual resistance of the worker who broke his machinery, of the desperate one who painted a sign, or the old woman who, despite the consequences, went to Church.

It was like this up to January 28, 1976. If one were to put a date at the beginning of the active dissident movement within Cuba, it would have to be this, the day that it was consituted that is more or less diffuse, the Cuban Committee for Human Rights, founded by Ricardo Bofill and a small group of collaborators.

Not that before that date there were no dissidents. There where, many and very prominent, such as President Manuel Urrutia, Prime Minister Miro Cardona and commanders Huber Matos and Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz, just to name a few among the many who, in turn, denounced in word or deed the marxian entrail of castroism. But they ended up in prison or in exile, while many others, like the unforgettable Porfirio Ramirez, died in an unequal struggle in the mountains of Cuba. The Cubans had not yet discovered the feasibility of the nonviolent struggle as an instrument of liberation.

Underlining its membership in the historic struggle of the Cuban people for justice, the Cuban Committee for Human Rights comes to light on the anniversary of the birth of Martí and cite Father Varela as one of the inspirations of their founding document. It's the same struggle, but it is boldly different: it seeks justice, but by peaceful means. The concept of nonviolent civil resistance is introduced into the history of Cuba. Take the truth as a weapon, placing it in practice in the civic field, what Scripture proposed in the spiritual realm: "the truth shall make you free". Hence its importance at that time and its transcendence for the future of Cuba.

One must note that during all that time, before and after the emergence of active internal dissent, exile was, and remains so today, the "other lung" of the Cuban people's struggle to reclaim their rights, the "other trench," which has resisted since day one, with possibilities and without them, with hits and misses, but with exalted fidelity, totalitarianism's attempts to be made permanent in Cuba. Almost all the leaders of the dissident movement also recognize that without the support of the exiles, it would not have been possible to carry out their work, or even survive.

"The force of reason is, and should be more powerful than the reason of force." 
- Bishop Agustín Román


What began at that scrawny Cuban Committee for Human Rights, that many classified as quixotic, is at present a notable force due to their courage, their determination and their moral authority. It is not a massive movement, but it is the largest of those who have been in any of the countries which were subjected to communist totalitarianism throughout the world.

Also, it is very diverse, it includes in its ranks Cubans of all social strata of the country, medical doctors like Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, engineers such as Oswaldo Paya, lawyers like Rene Gomez Manzano, economists such as Marta Beatriz Roque, poets like Regis Iglesias, educators such as Roberto de Miranda, philosophers like Jaime Legonier , ex-military such as Vladimiro Roca, peasants like Antonio Alonso, trade unionists such as Carmelo Diaz , housewives like Berta Antunez, and simple country people such as the brothers Sigler Amaya and many more.

Among them are whites, blacks and mulattoes, Catholics, Protestants and Santeros, liberals, conservatives, christian democrats, socialists and all other non-Communist political denominations. And they are from the extreme western end of the island, as the Pro-Human Rights Party, in Guane, to the extreme eastern end, as the Youth Movement for Democracy in Baracoa.

In its shadow and with its momentum has been reborn in notable measure the civil society of the nation: journalists, librarians, cooperatives, professional associations, farmers, workers, artists, intellectuals and independent disabled, among others.

They have achieved international recognition at very high levels, as witnessed by major prizes for the promotion of human rights granted to different activists by the European Union, non governmental organizations and other institutions in different countries. What is more important, every day they earn more respect among their fellow citizens.

It should be noted, also, that in Cuba, as elsewhere, important semantic differences that had importance in the past have been erased. Today, in the Cuban context, opposition and dissident are synonymous, because under the classification of "dissidents", "dissent" or "the human rights people," as the general population calls them, it includes persons such as Oswaldo Payá , for example, who never belonged to the ranks of the regime, and others who believed for more or less time in the mirage of the revolution.

We can say, therefore, that the current internal dissident movement is a vivid display of the entire Cuban nation and that it is, today, the most important agent of change within the island. In it is fulfilled the parable of the mustard seed, thus from a tiny seed has emerged a corpulent tree. It would not be prudent to exaggerate their importance in terms of the correlation of forces with the dictatorship, but neither would it be to ignore its potential as channeling the desire for justice, now widespread at the popular level, that originated when those desires were expressed by only a few.

The dissident movement does not have an effective articulation throughout the Cuban territory, but I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that it demonstrates already the ability, when the moment arrives and with adequate support, power, together with other independent bodies, religious and fraternal, that offer answers to peremptory uncertainties, the instability and initial disorder that inevitably accompany any significant change in a previously totalitarian society.

In summary, since the issue has arisen: if they ask me what the real importance of the current internal dissident movement, I would say it is the Cubans having revealed to themselves the possibility of banishing violence from political struggles and the effectiveness of non-violent methods in the pursuit of justice.

Cuba inherited old concepts which indicated that the only honorable way to resolve grievances and disputes was through blood, however evident it is today that to win by force means that it is the stronger or the better armed then the other, but not that one necessarily is in possession of reason or rights. The armed or physical confrontation became erroneously, the only acceptable proof of courage and honor.

That mentality which ferociously pushed Spaniards and their Cuban sons to confront each other when the latter justly demanded their independence, continued to mark the Republic, and that is how we saw patriots who won indisputable merits out in the fields confronted each other afterward with the same violence because of political disparities or ambitions of power, providing our nation’s history with very sad pages like the death of Quintín Banderas in the times of Estrada Palma, the racial and veterans confrontations during the government of José Miguel Gómez and the excesses of the government and the opposition during the Machado eras.

It is not wanting to judge by modern parameters, and in the light of experiences they had, to people acting according to the culture of their time and by what they had learned as good and honorable, and who, on the other hand, well are indebted for much good that they did. This is an attempt to dispassionately understand this harmful and counterproductive tradition of violence that caused rivalries and grievances passed from generation to generation, without the possibility of solution. There was always a debt to settle, and it was paid off with blood, the blood of brothers.

Along with this, we must clarify that none of this implies that one can condemn a people at one time if he is forced to resort to violence in an extreme situation, as sometimes one resorts to an amputation to avoid death, especially where the obstinacy of the oppressors shuts out all other attempted solution. Countries, like persons, have the right to defend themselves against aggression. This resort to non-desired violence, has, nevertheless to be imposed temporarily by circumstances, and not be a favored option, much less a practice or method of justifiable struggle.

The syndrome of violence that marked our Republic and to which I referred to earlier, has had its most cruel expression in the present regime. We can never forget the executed by firing squads, the tortured, the fallen in combat, those murdered while trying to escape the island. We can not nor should we forget the experience of living in fear, the heroic Calvary of political imprisonment, nor the horror of the acts of repudiation. It is precisely out of respect and gratitude to the fallen and what we have all suffered that we have to fight for their grandchildren and the grandchildren of all Cubans of the present, can live a different Cuba to the one we had to live in both them and us. A Cuba where the problems are resolved "among Cubans" in harmony and civility, not by some imposing it on others. A Cuba, finally, "where the first law of the Republic is the respect of each Cuban for the full dignity of man."

The conduct and methods that sunk Cuba and keep it under to the present, are not the ones that are going to save it. To assume the thankless task of trying to break the burdensome legacy of violence is the greatest merit of the dissident movement, because, if achieved it would be an inestimable good for Cuba, not only for today and for us, but also for the future, for those who are still to come.

More concretely, I would say that the greatest importance of the internal dissident movement in Cuba today, is that it has proven that political action can be consistent with what conscience knows and that is that the force of reason is, and should be more powerful than the reason of force.

"If what we do for Cuba, we do not do for love, better not do it." - Bishop Agustín Román  


Everyone knows that there are none so blind as those who will not see. I believe that only those may try to deny the importance of the current dissidents in Cuba, but, if one needs a convincing testimony about it, I think none better than the dictatorship itself: if those opponents did not represent a real challenge to the regime, then why do they repress them with such virulence? ... Why jail them? ... Why try to discredit them constantly?

The skeptics should be reminded that although the end result sought by the Cuban people has not yet been obtained by dissidents or anyone else, they have shown that non-violent civic resistance can jeopardize totalitarianism, as it happened with "Concilio Cubano" in 1996, in 2001 with the Varela Project and in 2003 with the ferment opposition that caused the "Black Spring" of that year, all of which shows that in these methods the potential to trigger the definitive change.

And at this point, it is clear that it would be logical that all Cubans, both on the island as in exile, ask ourselves what can we do to help the dissidents? ... We the exiles should ask ourselves what to do, between them and us, imparting all the possible effectiveness of the legitimate struggle for the liberation of the common homeland.

I could not offer policy prescriptions nor strategies for action, because I am not a politician or a strategist. I am a Cuban priest, a simple shepherd of souls, and as such, could only refer to what I learned in the light of the Gospel, remember what some of our great thinkers have suggested and recommend that we not forget the proven wisdom of our peasants, that which today is called common sense.

I said at the beginning of the urgency to reflect on these issues as we did today, because of the special circumstances that the Cuban nation is living at this moment. That same sense of urgency we should have with regards to the steps we must take. It is not for me to say what are those steps, but, whatever they will be will move us forward, and not backwards only if we take them through paths of virtue. ¨No homeland without virtue," said to us the first who taught us to think and it occurs to me that I could suggest some of the virtues necessary for our steps to lead us to the goals of the common good, that we want for Cuba:

1 - Firmness of principle and clarity of the objectives. We must be aware of what we want for Cuba: true sovereignty, rule of law and respect for human rights. This sums up all the other just demands such as, for example, the release of political prisoners, democracy, free elections, just proceedings, and so on. We should put forward, in addition, our non-acceptance of formulas that attempt to impede or obstruct the right of Cubans to freely choose their destination or promote continuity of this system or something similar, under the appearance of democracy, openness and reforms.

2 - Equilibrium. Humans are very susceptible to the passion that makes them lose clarity in their vision of things. Cubans are no exception to this rule, on the contrary, therefore, we must remember the wise words of the well named prophet of exile, our unforgettable Bishop Eduardo Boza Masvidal. He told us about this, I quote: "The equilibrium is not to dance the tightrope, but it is to adopt a clear and defined attitude that asks nothing borrowed from anyone, but is born of good doctrinal training and a dispassionate and objective study of reality "End of quote.

3 - Unity. Unity in diversity, which is as it should be, but firm unity, because if we have always needed it, it is essential to us today. You do not have to explain it to any Cuban how much damage disunity has done us. It is time to separate the wheat from the chaff. Do not forget what the Lord Jesus himself tells us in chapter 12 of St. Matthew: "Every kingdom divided against itself will become desolate. And every city or house divided against itself will not stand."

4 - Prudence and energy. The Servant of God and architect of Cubanness, Father Varela, recommended to the Cubans of his time in his "Moral and Social Maxims" not to mistake weakness with caution, noting that it "tells the man what he should choose, practice and omit in every circumstance." I would emphasize this valerian maxim, remembering that the first that prudence indicates is to think before acting. Varela also noted in "El Habanero", something which seems written for our day. I quote: "It is not time to entertain ourselves with particular accusations, or useless regrets. It is only to operate with energy to be free." End of quote.

5 - Justice, truth, forgiveness and reconciliation. I said earlier that the cause of the internal dissident movement, the cause of all of us in the end, is the continued pursuit of justice for the Cuban people. Cuba cries out to heaven for justice, justice is essential. The truth is the complement of justice and should be the first condition of our work and firm foundation of the society. Every Cuban will recognize the truth of their responsibilities and errors if we want to enter the new Cuba with the cleanness that we want. At the same time, the country equally needs of forgiveness and reconciliation in order to have possibilities of a future. A society that remains with its wounds permanently open condemns itself to a continuation of its conflicts and eliminates its possibilities to live in peace. Justice, truth, forgiveness and reconciliation are not mutually exclusive or contradictory terms. Our very remembered Pope John Paul II said with respect to the following, in his message for World Day of Peace on 1 January 1997. I quote: "Forgiveness, far from excluding the search for truth, demands it. The wrong must be recognized and, where possible, repaired ... Another essential requisite for forgiveness and reconciliation, is justice, which finds its justification in the law of God ... In effect - the Pontiff added - forgiveness does not eliminate or decreases the demand for reparation, which belongs to justice, but seeks to reintegrate equally individuals and groups into society. "End of quote.

6 - Faith, hope and charity. The most important I have left for last, because it's what surrounds and makes everything else possible. Faith in God because without Him every effort will be useless: "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain," affirms Scripture. Hope in God, because through Him comes us all that is good: "Blessed are they who have placed their trust in the Lord," proclaims St. Matthew in his gospel. Charity, that is love of God and of our brothers, because we have already seen too much the fruits of hate in our people. Because charity is what God wanted for us, sent to us over the sea the image of the Mother of his beloved Son under the inspiring nickname: the Mother of Charity, Mother Love, Mother of the country. If what we do for Cuba, we do not do for love, better not do it.

If all of us who want the good of the nation, of the important internal dissident movement and the persevering of exile arm ourselves with these virtues, we will be effective. If we are committed to not let personalism, or the passions dilute them, we will have won. If we keep them and transmit them to all our people, we will have secured for Cuba a happy future.

I end with an expression of loyalty, affection and paternal recognition to the work of the Catholic Church in Cuba during this difficult stage in our history. On February 3, 1959 the first joint pastoral of the Cuban Bishops saw the light, which focused on the topic of education, those shepherds launched demands and questions applying to all of the deceptive revolutionary project that began then. Earlier, only two days after the triumph of the revolution, the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Monsignor Enrique Pérez Serantes, reminded the new government and the entire people why they had fought, saying: "We want and expect a purely democratic Republic , in which all citizens can fully enjoy the richness of human rights "End of quote.

Since then, the facts, well documented also show us the suffering Church, harassed sometimes more covertly than others, but always harassed, on the side of the people of Cuba. This was, perhaps, its most eloquent point with the pastoral "Love hopes all things", of 1993, but there is also a long and rich history, which one day will be known in all its details, of the generous, brave and quiet labor of the Church in favor of the legitimate interests and needs of the Cuban people in these times. It's not for nothing that the loudest cries of "Freedom!" Heard in Cuba in recent times took place in public places during the visit of John Paul II in 1998.

I also equally affirm my personal appreciation and respect for the internal dissident movement in Cuba and I do it from the heart of a Cuban naturally proud to be exiled, of belonging to this exile committed to the national destiny, full of men and women of faith and action, whose merits and virtues are not always fairly valued. When a happy end could be brought to the prison riots in Atlanta and Oakdale in 1987, I remember the excitement made me exclaim that day that if I were not Cuban, I would pay to be. Without a trace of arrogance, with great respect for all peoples of the world, I repeat it today: I would pay to be a dissident, I would pay to be an exile, because both are the same: Cubans, good Cubans trying to be better.

I should apologize for having forgotten the time limit, but I thought that the important choices we have before us Cubans right now, asked for these considerations that I wanted to share with you, taking advantage of the invitation of Father Felix Varela Foundation, which again I want to thank. Maybe I failed to add one of the virtues we need, is to say more in less time. But you, who are so generous, will understand, because you are Cubans like me.

Thank you very much everyone.

Bishop Agustín A. Román
Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus
Miami, December 16, 2006
This remarkable and humble man of God lived a life in accordance with the principles and faith that he evangelized. Below is a short documentary where the good shepherd looked back over his life.

Remembering Bishop Agustín Román ten years later

"Monsignor Román was the Félix Varela of our times." - Archbishop Thomas Wenski, April 11, 2022 

Bishop Agustín Román 1928 - 2012

Hard to believe it has been 10 years since Bishop Agustín Román was called home. His absence over the numerous crises that we have suffered made it feel much longer and gave us a deeper appreciation of his importance to this community.

Today, Archbishop Thomas Wenski published an Oped that celebrated the legacy of Monsignor Román and placed him in the context of Cuban history. He concluded his reflection praising the legacy of this humble and good Priest.

Archbishop Román suffered exile because of a destructive nationalism that took hold of his beloved Cuba, but he never stopped being a patriot — nor did he ever stop tirelessly preaching the good news of Jesus Christ who gives us eternal life. He totally dedicated himself to the Fatherland and to Life.
Bishop Román once said that "If what we do for Cuba, we do not do for love, better not to do it."  He had a great understanding of what was taking place in the land of his birth and the gift to lay it out in a manner that both lifted the listeners up spiritually, but also provided greater understanding and discernment.

In the realm of political struggle he was an advocate for nonviolent civil resistance who said that violence was "not be a favored option, much less a practice or method of justifiable struggle."

In 2006 he spoke of the challenges facing Cuba and of the Cuban dissident movement and his observations remain  relevant and needed.

"The greatest importance of the internal dissident movement in Cuba today, is that it has proven that political action can be consistent with what conscience knows and that is that the force of reason is, and should be more powerful than the reason of force."- Bishop Agustín Román (2006)


Saturday, April 9, 2022

Question: Will Russia's removal from the UN Human Rights Council begin a moral renewal of the international body? Answer: Yes, if Cuba is next.

 The UN Human Rights Council failure is a symptom of wider rot in the United Nations, and in Western Democracies more broadly.

The UN Human Rights system's mechanisms have failed to provide an accurate assessment of the dismal human rights situation in Cuba.  Nor is there any mention of the Cuban government's involvement in gross and systematic human rights violations in Venezuela and Nicaragua. The final outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Cuba was discussed and adopted on September 20, 2018 at the 39th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Cuban human rights defender Sirley Avila Leon, a victim of repression, on September 24, 2018 addressed the UN Human Rights Council four days later on what agents of the Cuban government had done to her.

“On May 24, 2015 living in Cuba I suffered an attack orchestrated by agents of the state, I was attacked with a machete to kill me cutting off my left hand and right shoulder while I covered my head with them, then cut my knees leaving me disabled for life, This was not the first attack I suffered, I was previously attacked several times, physically and verbally by the political police in Cuba: they burned my bed, I suffered arbitrary arrests, death threats, economic damages.  Only for demanding better living conditions for the peasants and their children in a rural area of ​​Las Tunas. My case is not isolated. In Cuba, the state continues to violate the human rights of Cubans, murders, imprisons and banishes those who demand rights and repress their families. To save my life, in 2016 I escaped from Cuba, since then my son, Yoerlis Peña Avila, has been threatened with death and repressed on several occasions. At this moment I fear for his life.”

UN experts continued to whitewash and cover up the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Venezuela.  On February 28, 2019 UN Watch's Hillel Neuer exposed the right to food expert's cover up of the famine in Venezuela.

In  the 1930s in Ukraine "journalist" Walter Duranty helped to cover up the deaths of millions in a famine manufactured by Josef Stalin's regime. That UN Human Rights experts are helping to cover up a famine in Venezuela in the present gave warning to future developments, and the failure of this institution.

Did these outrages change anything the next time Venezuela or Cuba were to be voted onto the UN Human Rights Council in 2019 and 2020 respectively? The short answer is no, but the longer response is even more devastating.

China, Cuba, and Russia elected to the UNHRC in 2020. Venezuela was already a member

In 2020, Cuba got 170 votes out of 192 possible.Twenty two countries did not vote in favor of the Castro regime, but there are 27 member countries of the European Union. One can also count the United States among the votes against. This means that most probably [at least] six members of the European Union voted in favor of the Castro regime," and that runs counter to the shared values of the European Union which include ‘respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights.’ Those democracies that voted for a 63 year old communist dictatorship that systematically violates human rights and seeks to undermine international human rights standards, did not live up to those principles.

In addition to Cuba, China and Russia were also elected to the UN Human Rights Council in 2020, and Venezuela had already been a member for a year having been easily re-elected to the Council in 2019.  

On April 7, 2022 the Russian Federation was expelled from the UN Human Rights Council by a full vote of the UN General Assembly. “Today should be a turning point. EU states and others that often defend the election of gross abusers as somehow a good thing have now effectively abandoned that position in favor of a principled approach, more consistent with the rights council’s own membership criteria,” said Hillel Neuer, of UNWatch, who had campaigned for years for Russia's removal.

The next time that Cuba will be subjected to a universal periodic review is in 2023. The last examination did not reflect the human rights situation on the island. The Cuban government corrupted and abused the process turning it into a circus. Havana had flooded the compilation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with front groups celebrating the dictatorship's "human rights achievements" and drowning out the reports by legitimate NGOs. 

Hopefully, the expulsion of Russia will mark a new chapter for the UN Human Rights Council and a time for reflection. “The 158 UN member states who two years ago voted to make Putin a world judge on human rights—and the others who stood by silently—should ask forgiveness from the Ukrainian men, women and children who are now paying the price of Russia’s brutal invasion of their country, in Bucha and elsewhere,” said Neuer.

Now is the time to clean up the dysfunctional UN Human Rights Council, and remove the worse human rights abusers, so that it can carry out its duties at this critical time. This would also symbolize a moral renewal of the United Nations to face the critical challenges to peace that are unfolding on the world stage today.

Vladimir Putin's Russia was first, let the communist dictatorship of Cuba be next to be voted off the UN Human Rights Council. May Cuba's 2023 Universal Periodic Review hold the dictatorship accountable for the atrocities committed between 2018 and 2022.