Sunday, June 26, 2022

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and Cuba: Providing context and Four cases

Today, June 26th is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and sadly there are many in Cuba who are torture victims. 

The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984), defines "torture" as "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions."

On May 13, 2022 the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) published findings on Cuba.

With regard to reports of harassment, arbitrary arrests, intimidation, imprisonment, and reprisals against human rights defenders, the Committee urged Cuba to end these practices. The Committee also emphasized the importance of an independent and impartial judicial system.

Concerning the crackdowns on the social protests in July 2021, the Committee urged Cuba to promptly and thoroughly investigate arbitrary detentions, excessive use of force and ill-treatment, and punish those responsible. The Committee also called for Cuba to establish a national human rights institution and an independent mechanism to conduct regular unannounced visits to all places where people are deprived of their liberty.

Civil society groups presented a report on torture practices of the Cuban government that is available online, and was presented to UNCAT. Below are some cases of torture in Cuba that stretch back 17 years. This is not an exhaustive list.

Prisoner of conscience forcibly injected with HIV in 2018

Sister and Brother: Omara Ruiz Urquiola and Ariel Ruiz Urquiola

In May 2018,
Ariel Ruiz Urquiola was arbitrarily detained, sentenced and jailed from early May to early July 2018. He was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment during his imprisonment when Cuban officials forcibly injected him with HIV. The International Society for Human rights has provided evidence that substantiates the charge, and below is his testimony before the Oslo Freedom Forum in 2020. 


Lady in White mistreated by prison doctors, left near death (2018 - 2020) .

Xiomara de las Mercedes Cruz was arrested on April 16, 2016 for speaking out during a human rights demonstration in Havana's Central park. She was placed on parole in January of 2018. She was re-arrested in mid-September 2018 under the charge of being "threatening." On September 19, 2018 she was tried and sentenced to one year and four months in prison. She was sent to a prison 400 kilometers from her home. This was an added hardship for her family to visit her, and keep an eye on her well being.Xiomara was sent to a punishment cell for at least 10 days for speaking to her daughter over the phone.

Dr. Alfredo Melgar, a specialist in Internal Medicine and lead doctor treating Xiomara Cruz Miranda, in a May 2020 interview, believes that she was exposed while in the Cuban prison to "various chemicals." Cuban doctors in the island, at varying times, told her she was either suffering from Tuberculosis or lung cancer as her condition continued to worsen. Dr. Melgar affirms that these substances had possibly caused irreversible lung damage. 

Xiomara de las Mercedes Cruz in December 2019

Over the course of one year in custody of the Cuban government her health radically declined. Rashes appeared on her body in June 2019 that Cuban medical doctors in Ciego de Ávila claimed to be unable to diagnose.  She was able to finally obtain medical care in the United States in January 2020 when she was near death, and spent seven months in intensive care in Jackson Memorial Hospital, and was finally well enough to continue her treatment as an outpatient.


Cuban dissident subjected to a machete attack, denied adequate medical care as punishment. (2015)

Sirley Avila Leon: Before and after the 2015 machete attack.

Sirley Ávila León was a delegate to the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power in Cuba from June 2005, for the rural area of Limones until 2012 when the regime gerrymandered her district out of existence. Cuban officials removed her from her position because she had fought to reopen a school in her district, but been ignored by official channels and had reached out to international media. Her son, Yoerlis Peña Ávila, who had an 18 year distinguished career in the Cuban military was forced out when he refused to declare his mother insane and have her committed to a psychiatric facility.

Sirley joined the ranks of the democratic opposition and repression against her increased dramatically. On May 24, 2015 she was the victim of a brutal machete attack carried out by Osmany Carriòn, with the complicit assistance of his wife, that led to the loss of her left hand, right upper arm nearly severed, and knees slashed into leaving her crippled. 

This attack, she believes, was done on the orders of the secret police. Following it she did not receive adequate medical care and was told quietly by medical doctors in Cuba that if she wanted to get better that she would need to leave the country.


Medical mistreatment of Cuban political prisoner left him permanently disabled (2005).

Omar Pernet Hernández August 15, 1945 - October 7, 2017

Cuban dissident and former prisoner of conscience Omar Pernet Hernández passed away in Louisville, Kentucky on October 7, 2017. Beginning in 1965 at age 18 he was imprisoned for the first time in Cuba for political reasons. 

Years later in an interview he would sum up his life in Cuba: "I was tortured in Castros' jails in four processes since 1965, when I was going to turn 19 years old." During his final imprisonment he described how doctors engaged in malpractice against him following a car accident while he was being transferred from one prison to another that left him crippled.

Omar Pernet: Look, the meaning of this, is that this type of boot that you see here....I will show it to you again. This boot was fitted for me in Cuba and it began to damage my hips because one, the left, is longer than the right. Then, one hip went like this 0:30 (shows the way hip is going up). Then, here in Spain, they said I couldn't go on wearing those boots, and they asked me to cut them down, and told me to make the ones I'm wearing. These I'm wearing now are stabilizing my hips.
INT: "How is it possible, since the Cuban doctors are so excellent normally, at least that's what the Cubans say, and promote throughout the world. That they should be so wrong? And hurt you so much? How many months did you stay that way in Cuba?"
OP: Well, in 2005, on the 5th of April, I began to wear these boots until the 17-18. I stayed like that until the 3rd of March of 2008 using those boots. These I'm wearing now are different, from Spain. " Stands up, 2:06, shows. "The only thing they did was to slap a cast on. They had me on a cast from the tips of my toes up to my neck for 18 months. The doctors here [in Spain] say they don't find any logic to it. That it was intolerable, the amount of time I spent in those conditions. The cast was removed twice, and each time it was to break my leg again." 
Omar Pernet Hernández was 72 years old when he passed away, a victim of cancer. He had spent 22 years in Castro's prisons for defying the communist regime and lived in forced exile for the final nine years of his life.

There are numerous other cases that stretch back six decades, and here are a few presented on this blog: Yosvany Arostegui Armenteros (2020), Silverio Portal Contreras (2020), Laura Inés Pollán Toledo (2011), Orlando Zapata Tamayo (2010), Sebastián Arcos Bergnes (1995), and Pedro Luis Boitel (1972).

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Fête de la Musique - World Music Day: Reflection on music in Cuba

June 21st is Fête de la Musique or World Music Day that encourages people of good will to honor musicians and singers. It is also a day to encourage young and inexperienced musicians to perform live in front of an audience.

This annual observance began in France in 1982. World Music Day was launched by Maurice Fleuret, director of the French Ministry of Culture’s Department of Music and Dance, and Jack Lang, then-French Minister of Culture and is now a day to support musicians around the world. 

PEN International in the above Tweet highlighted the plight of Cuban rapper Maykel “Osorbo” Castillo Pérez who has been unjustly jailed since May 18, 2021

He is not alone.

Rolling Stone on March 25, 2022 published "From Cuba to Russia, Rappers Are Being Targeted in Record Numbers" an article by Stacey Anderson reports, "Cuban rappers are now some of the most persecuted rap artists in the world, according to Freemuse, an international NGO that advocates for artists’ rights and freedom of expression." ... "In Freemuse’s new findings, Cuba topped the list of countries with documented incidents constituting violations of artistic freedom, followed by Russia."

Back in 2018 Cuban rapper Denis Solís González posted a music video titled Sociedad Condenada (Condemned Society) on his Youtube account in which he sang about repression in Cuba and predicted his future with the lyrics "it maybe that they put me into a prison cell for the weight of my voice, but I needed the courage to say the truth."

Cuban rappers Rodolfo Ramirez, known by his rapping name as El Primario brutally beaten by regime agents and Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, known best as “El Critico imprisoned and brutalized from March 2013 and was  was released on January 9, 2015. 21 days later another rapper, El Dkano, took his place in prison when he was sentenced on January 28 to a year in prison for "precriminal dangerousness."  

Punk rockers have also been targeted.

Freemuse also documented the plight of punk rocker Gorki Águila imprisoned for two years and threatened with new trials for his anti-government lyrics.

Many other Cuban musicians and singers have suffered repression, and censorship of their music by the communist dictatorship in Cuba, and it stretches back to the early years of the dictatorship. Independent black society clubs, such as the Buena Vista Social Club, that had existed throughout the Cuban Republic (1902-1959) were ended by the Castro regime in the 1960s.

The impact of the Castro regime on music in Cuba goes beyond jailing musicians and instances of censorship, but includes systemic censorship that threatens the island's musical legacy. This process has been described as a  Cuban cultural genocide that has deprived generations of Cubans their musical heritage. 

In November 2009 My Latino Voice published "Nostalgia Corner: Why the Bolero was censored in Cuba" describing how the Castro regime's revolutionary offensive in 1968 targeted an entire of genre of music and Cuban nightlife:

"First, jukeboxes were confiscated from corner bars and nightclubs (there were as many as 20,000 jukeboxes in Havana in the 1950s). Then, in 1961, at the First Congress of Writers and Artists, music was defined as an organ of integration into the new Revolutionary society. The bolero came to be seen as a reactionary genre, in bad taste, and ultimately, banned. Cuba's world-class composers and performers, many of whom had brought the genre to its golden age, were abruptly silenced. Finally, in 1968, in the Ofensiva Revolucionaria -- the Cuban equivalent of China's Cultural Revolution -- most of the 1,200 cabarets and dance halls for which Havana was known were shut down (with only a couple of exceptions, including the notable Tropicana). Bolero lovers and performers were left with no viable venues. An entire generation was traumatized by loss of the very words and music that had defined the key moments of their lives -- coming of age, first loves, stolen kisses, secret romances."

One of the best ways to honor and support these Cuban musicians and singers erased by the communist dictatorship is to identify them and share their work.

A partial listing of Cuban musicians oficially censored is a who's who of Cuban music: Israel Cachao López, Ramón "Mongo" Santamaría,Miguelito Valdés, Mario Bauza, Olga Guillot, Celia Cruz, Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Gloria Estefan, Bobby Jimenez and Bibiana Borroto. Others who remained in Cuba were and are also subject to censorship to lesser and greater degrees among them: Pedro Luis Ferrer, Porno Para Ricardo, Los Aldeanos, Carlos Varela and Frank Delgado.  

This censorship was not limited to Cubans. The Beatles and later on John Lennon's solo music were also officially banned for decades, along with most rock music was considered subversive by the Castro regime.

In 2000 John Lennon was "politically rehabilitated" on the 20th anniversary of his death by no less than Fidel Castro who unveiled a statue and by regime spokesmen who would try to claim him as an ideological fellow traveler. 

Below is a brief sampling that spans over six decades of banned musicians and singers in Cuba under the communist dictatorship.

Celia Cruz

Because Celia Cruz refused to bow to the Fidel Castro, and wanted to continue to live the life of a free artist, she was forced to leave Cuba. However, when her mom was ill, she tried to return to see her in 1962, but was barred from entering the country by Castro. When her mother died Celia was again blocked by the dictatorship from attending her funeral. Because she was not an active supporter of the regime, her music was banned in Cuba. She died in 2003 in exile.

On August 21, 2012 that Tony Pinelli, a well known musician and radio producer, distributed an e-mail in which Rolando Álvarez, the national director of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television Instituto Cubano de Radio y Televisión (ICRT) confirmed that the music of the late Celia Cruz would continue to be banned.

Olga Guillot 


Olga Guillot was born on October 9, 1922 in Santiago de Cuba. She died on July 12, 2010 in exile in Miami, Florida. She was a Cuban singer, known to be the queen of the bolero. In 1954, she recorded her song "Mienteme" ("Lie to Me"), which became a hit across Latin America, and earned her three consecutive awards in Cuba. She was recognized as Cuba's best female singer. In 1958  she toured Europe for the first time, including stops in Italy, France, Spain and GermanyShe sang alongside  Édith Piaf during a concert held in Cannes. Guillot opposed Fidel Castro's new regime, and, in 1961, she decided to leave Cuba for good and initially established herself in Venezuela, and eventually made Mexico her only permanent residence country.

Israel López Valdés "Cachao"

Israel López Valdés known just as "Cachao." Cachao was a Cuban mambo musician, bassist and composer, who has helped bring mambo music to popularity in the United States in the early 1950s. He was born in Havana, Cuba. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, won several Grammy Awards, and has been described as "the inventor of the mambo". He is considered a master of descarga (Latin jam sessions). Cachao left Cuba in 1962. He spent two years in Spain, then came to New York City, where he performed with mambo bands led by Tito Rodríguez, José Fajardo and Eddie Palmieri. For decades, he worked almost entirely as a sideman.


Ramón "Mongo" Santamaría Rodríguez

He is most famous for being the composer of the jazz standard "Afro Blue," recorded by John Coltrane among others. In 1950 he moved to New York where he played with Perez Prado, Tito Puente, Cal Tjader, Fania All Stars, etc. He was an integral figure in the fusion of Afro-Cuban rhythms with R&B and soul, paving the way for the boogaloo era of the late 1960s. His 1963 hit rendition of Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. With the cover of "Watermelon Man," Santamaria found himself garnering the acclaim of his former mentors. He would even visit the pop charts once again - a feat that, among his mentors, only Prado ever accomplished - in 1969 with "Cloud Nine." And he recorded prolifically through the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, before slowing down in the 1990s.

Paquito D’Rivera

Paquito was a child prodigy. He started learning music at the age of 5 with his father Tito Rivera, a well-known classical saxophonist and conductor in Cuba. D'Rivera grew up in Cuba, playing both saxophone and clarinet and performing with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra at a young age.When he was seven, became the youngest artist ever to endorse a musical instrument, when he signed on with the music company Selmer. 

By 1980, D'Rivera was dissatisfied about the constraints placed on his music in Cuba for many years, and had always longed to come to the United States. In early 1981, while on tour in Spain, he sought asylum with the American Embassy, and left his homeland, wife and child behind in search of a better life with a promise to get them out. 

Upon his arrival in the United States, D'Rivera found help from many people for him and his family. His mother Maura and his sister Rosario had left Cuba in 1968 and had become US citizens. Many notables who reached out to help Paquito were Dizzy Gillespie, David Amram, Mario Bauza and Bruce Lundvall, who gave him first solo recording date.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Open Letter to the People's Summit

Parallel to the Summit of the Americas held in L.A (June 8-10)

 Dear People's Summit organizers and participants,

This open letter does not address the charges leveled in your political platform or in your final declaration against the United States. The U.S. government can fend for itself, and I am not here to represent it. In the spirit of dialogue I am responding to a number of statements, and await your concrete response, and hope that this does not degenerate into ad hominem attacks.

However, you raise a number of claims and then omit pressing challenges in this hemisphere to values and objectives that you claim to share that are caused by others. 

Venezuelan people turn out to support President Juan Guaido.

You also confuse the peoples of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela with the dictatorships that oppress them.

In the final document for the Summit of the Americas, "The People of the Americas have the Last Word:  Final Declaration of the People’s Summit for Democracy" you made the following statement.

"The exclusion of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua have already made Biden’s summit a political disaster; we add that this exclusion does not speak for the working class and people of conscience of this country who desire friendship and dialogue with all the peoples of our hemisphere." 

It was surprising to see many of you on repeated occasions advocating for the dictatorships of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to participate in the Summit of the Americas, and especially citing the issue of sovereignty.

Moms in Nicaragua peacefully protested for children killed by government.

The people's in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela have had their sovereignty and rights usurped by dictatorships. Dissidents that better represent these peoples were present at the Summit of the Americas, but you refused to recognize or acknowledge their legitimacy.

I am familiar with the role the Cuban dictatorship has played, and continues to play both on the island and in this hemisphere with profoundly negative impacts. There are a number of policies, laws, and actions carried out by Havana, and their satellite regimes in Managua and Caracas, that clash with both your values and announced policy objectives.

Cubans on the streets of Cuba July 11, 2021

This reality was seen across Cuba between July 11 - 13, 2021 when tens of thousands of Cubans nonviolently marched in the streets across the island calling for an end to dictatorship, and for freedom. Mr. Diaz Canel gave the order calling on communists to take to the streets. Police and paramilitaries used deadly force against the protesters. 

A full accounting of the dead and wounded was never obtained. This was followed by mass arrests, new laws tightening censorship, and terrorizing the families of the jailed to scrub their social media of evidence. Family members who continued to defend their loved ones faced persecution, detentions, and prison. 

Diubis Laurencio Tejeda and Christian Díaz killed by Cuban regime in 2021.

In your final statement you also fail to address the role played by the Chinese and Russian Empires in this hemisphere to undermine democracies, or the current imperialist war waged by Moscow in Ukraine, and the role Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are playing in backing Mr. Putin's imperialist venture.

Equally troubling is the silence around the glaringly negative roles played by the dictatorships in Havana, Managua, and Caracas to eight of your ten announced values and objectives

Below are brief, and documented examples that deserve your scrutiny. 



1. The need to fight together against white supremacy and the violent forces who wage a daily war against Black, Latino, Asian, Arab, Indigenous & Migrant communities in the US and abroad. 


The Castro regime enthroned and legitimized white supremacy in Cuba with a bearded white savior who sillenced black dissent. Cuban black nationalist Juan René Betancourt in his essay "Castro and the Cuban Negro" published in the NAACP publication The Crisis in 1961.

“Of the 256 Negro societies in Cuba, many have had to close their doors and others are in death agony. One can truthfully say, and this is without the slightest exaggeration, that the Negro movement in Cuba died at the hands of Sr. Fidel Castro.” … “Yet this is the man who had the cynical impudence to visit the United States in 1960 for the purpose of censuring American racial discrimination. Although this evil obviously exists in the United States, Castro is not precisely the man to offer America solutions, nor even to pass judgement.”

Between 1898 and 1959 the relationship between Black-Americans and Black-Cubans was based on their being part of an international black diaspora. This relationship ended when the Castro regime ended autonomous black civil society in 1962, and consolidated totalitarian rule.

It was replaced by Castro and his white revolutionary elite allying with Black elites in the United States, and Africa while criticizing racism in the United States. This ended black agency in Cuba for decades, replaced with a policy based in obedience, submission, and gratitude to the white revolutionary elite, and this was reflected in official propaganda with racist tropes. 

The elimination of Afro-Cubans from this dynamic by the new communist revolutionary elite turned racism into a political tool outside of Cuba to advance the Castro regime's communist agenda, but turned it into a taboo topic by ungrateful blacks, labeled counter-revolutionaries by the dictatorship.

Cuban blacks today that would have been political leaders in the 1940s and 1950s are dissidents persecuted, hunted and killed by the secret police.

Based on the Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research, according to the January 13, 2020 article by EuropaPress, Cuba today has the largest per capita prison population in the world. Although official data is unavailable, it is known that a disproportionate number are Black Cubans.

On March 22, 1959 Fidel Castro declared that racism no longer existed in Cuba, to question that was to be a counter-revolutionary. The regime claimed over the next six decades that there is no racism in Cuba while poverty disproportionately impacts black Cubans with 95% having the lowest incomes compared to 58% of white Cubans, after six decades of communism, and independent black voices continue to be silenced


3,000 Indigenous people have been forced off their land in Nicaragua by invaders since 2015.  Dozens of indigenous people have been killed since 2021 in Nicaragua, and Ortega is blamed for not protecting them.


"Between 2016 and 2019, police and security forces killed more than 19,000 people, alleging “resistance to authority.” [ The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)], analyzing open sources, found 2,000 individuals had been killed in security operations between January and August of 2020. Many of these deaths may constitute extrajudicial executions, according to OHCHR," reported Human Rights Watch in 2021.

2. The right of workers to collectively bargain and organize unions without interference, intimidation, or retaliation from employers. Workers around the hemisphere are organizing for better conditions on the job in face of deteriorating wages, benefits, and safety conditions—exacerbated by the Covid-19 Pandemic. 

Over 120 workers and trade unionists are jailed today in Cuba reports the Asociación Sindical Independiente de Cuba ( Independent Trade Union Association of Cuba ) in a "Declaration for May First" published on April 30, 2022.

However, the fact is that Fidel Castro and the communist dictatorship that he imposed in Cuba   destroyed Cuba's national independent labor movement, and replaced it with one controlled by the communist dictatorship that does not permit strikes, or collective bargaining by workers.

You need not take my word for it, you should take the word of Cuban workers suffering under the communist dictatorship in Cuba, but you cannot ignore the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) which is the global voice of the world’s working people, and "represents 200 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 332 national affiliates."

This is what they have to report about Cuba.

New government reform programme31-12-2011

The government violates the right to collective bargaining, freedom of association and the independent representation of workers. It has decided to make mass redundancies, leaving hundreds of thousands of people jobless, and announced tougher repressive and disciplinary measures in the workplace. It is trying to develop a model that preserves the essence of the system, i.e. collectivism, state ownership of the means of production, centralised decision making, planning and prohibition of the individual accumulation of wealth, at the same time as demanding greater productivity from companies and workers, and denying economic, political and cultural freedom through increased control and repression.

According to the Plenary of the National Council of the CTC, “we have to show the world that the workers, the backbone of our society, will forge ahead until the economic situation has been overcome, certain that they are taking the only correct and just path possible”. Salvador Valdés, general secretary of the CTC, underlined the need to ensure that the 2011 Plan draws on the lessons of 2010: “The major economic challenges facing the country require the trade union movement to change its methods and approaches, to act as a healthy counterbalance to the violations and transgressions that may arise with the implementation of the changes”.

The initial results of this process demonstrate that, despite the prior preparation for these changes, there are still problems that need to be resolved. Although this is a predominantly administrative process, the union cannot be neutral and must be the first to ensure that workers are given the help they need and are not abandoned.

Repression stifles labour rights 30-11-2011

The number of politically-motivated arrests was estimated to have reached 1,224 in November 2010, which discourages the formation of independent trade unions, as the authorities view exercising freedom of association as a political activity.

Political legislation overrides trade union laws 31-12-2010

There have been no changes in the Cuban labour legislation. The trade union movement is controlled by the Cuban state, and the leaders of the single union CTC are not elected by the workers but appointed by the state and the Communist Party of Cuba.

Workers’ rights violations persist 10-06-2009

On 10 June, the former political prisoner José Ramón Castillo denounced various trade union rights violations in Cuba to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Amnesty International had declared him a prisoner of conscience and he testified before this forum as a victim of repression in Cuba. He stated that Cuban workers’ right to self-determination is not respected on the island. Workers do not have the right to organise trade unions independent of the state and five Cubans are currently serving prison sentences for having tried to organise independent trade unions. This information has been widely documented by the relevant international institutions.

[ Source:

3. Full amnesty and rights for all immigrants. As a consequence of war, neo-liberal free-trade policies, and foreign-occupation on Global South countries, people are forced to uproot their lives and flee their homelands.

Communist regimes have a poor track record in dealing with migrants. The Castro regime has a track record of killing fleeing Cuban refugees that the People's Summit has ignored.

The Miami Herald on July 7, 1993 reported on Castro regime officials butchering fleeing refugees:

Cuban marine patrols, determined to stop refugees from reaching the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, have repeatedly tossed grenades and shot at fleeing swimmers and recovered some bodies with gaff hooks, U.S. officials charged Tuesday. At least three Cubans have been killed in the past month as Cuban patrol boats attacked swimmers within sight of U.S. Navy personnel at Guantanamo.
* On June 19 at 2 p.m., U.S. guards, startled by the sounds of detonations, saw Cuban troops aboard patrol boats dropping grenades in the paths of several swimmers headed for the U.S. base.
* On June 20 at 1:30 p.m., Cuban troops repeated the action, then strafed the water with machine-gun fire.
* On June 26 at 11 a.m., three patrol boats surrounded a group of swimmers, lobbing grenades and spraying them with automatic weapons fire. At least three corpses were lifted out of the water with gaffs.
* On June 27 at 11:30 a.m., guards aboard patrol boats lobbed two grenades into the water.
* The same day, just before 3 p.m., a patrol boat opened automatic fire on a group of swimmers, who were later seen being pulled from the water. The swimmers' status was unknown.

On July 13, 1994 the tugboat "13 de marzo" was surrounded, attacked and sunk by regime agents in a massacre that killed 37 Cuban refugees, the majority women and children.

Human rights defenders who attempted to quantify the numbers of dead or missing refugees were targeted by state security and made a cautionary example. Francisco Chaviano González, a former mathematics teacher, and human rights defender was the president of the National Council for Civil Rights in Cuba (Consejo Nacional por los Derechos Civiles en Cuba - CNDCC), an organization whose work included "documenting the cases of Cubans who have been lost at sea trying to leave the country."

Chaviano was trying to investigate the cases of a number of Cubans who had gone missing. He was  warned by state security to stop his human rights work or he would be arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He refused to leave and was detained on May 7, 1994, drugged and subjected to a military trial and sentenced to 15 years in prison of which he served over 13 years in terrible conditions suffering numerous beatings and the denial of healthcare which led to a wholesale decline in his health. Amnesty International recognized Chaviano as a prisoner of conscience. Chaviano was released on August 10, 2007. He was forced into exile in 2012.

Castro was inspired by East Germany's brutal treatment of fleeing migrants

Celebrated border guards killing fleeing migrants. Fidel Castro visited Berlin in 1972 and addressed the border guards that policed the Berlin Wall to prevent East Germans from escaping to the West. At Brandenburg gate on June 14, 1972 in the afternoon he addressed the men charged with shooting East Germans fleeing to West Germany as "the courageous and self-denying border guards of the GDR People's Army who stand guard in the front line of the entire-socialist community." Later in the evening Premier Castro addressed the Nikolay Bezarin Barracks in East Berlin:

It is very important to know that the people of the GDR have great confidence in you, that they are truly proud of you. The comrades of the party and the citizens of socialist Berlin have told us with great satisfaction about the activity of the border troops, speaking with great admiration for you and for your services.
 4. For a future of collective liberation that is free of discrimination, harassment and violence against Women, Trans, Intersex, Queer and Gender Nonconforming People.  


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

Both Gays, and rock n rollers were sent to forced labor camps. 

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

The 1986-1997 quarantine of HIV-positive Cubans must be considered in this context. Furthermore, claims that AIDS rates are lower in Cuba should be met with skepticism when considering the dictatorship’s failure to accurately report outbreaks.

 Cuban biologist, environmental activist, and Gay man, Dr. Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, documented his case to the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) in Frankfurt, Germany, where he denounced how agents of the Castro regime purposefully infected him with HIV in 2018.

After a staged assault of two policemen Ariel Ruiz Urquiola was arrested on May 3rd, 2018 and sentenced to prison for twelve months by a kangaroo tribunal. He was remanded in jail on May 8th, 2018 and protested from June 16th to July 2nd with a successful hunger strike which led to an early release from prison on July 3rd, 2018. On June 16th, 2019 he got informed that he is HIV positive. He eliminates a natural infection strictly. He believes that he had been infected with the HI virus on purpose in prison.

According to a statement of Dr. Ruiz Urquiola the doctor’s reports show that he got infected during his imprisonment. The lab results also confirm an infection on purpose. That’s how the short time between hospitalization and illness with a high inoculum (infective material or one as an antigen acting part of a germ), e.g. from a lab virus, can be explained.

Castro apologists claimed that the Cuban dictatorship had changed since then, but on May 11, 2019 when Gay activists began their Pride March it was violently shut down by Castro regime regime agents.

5. The right of access to adequate housing, food, and healthcare. These are the most basic rights needed to guarantee a decent and dignified life and are increasingly being eroded. 

Demanding adequate housing in Cuba is a punishable offense. 

Silverio Portal Contreras was sentenced to four years in prison for alleged crimes of "public disorder" and "contempt" after leading several public protests demanding decent housing for all Cubans. He was detained on June 20, 2016 in Havana and the court 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, and spent 2 years and 9 months unjustly imprisoned. He suffered a stroke during his imprisonment and is now in fragile health.

Government officials, who jailed Silverio, did not heed his warnings regarding dilapidated buildings. On January 27, 2020 three school girls died when a balcony collapsed on them in Old Havana. María Karla Fuentes and Lisnavy Valdés Rodríguez, both 12 years old, and Rocío García Nápoles, 11 years old were killed.

Although buildings housing Cubans are in disrepair and collapsing the Castro regime is in the midst of a construction boom, for luxury tourist hotels

Reality of Cuba's healthcare system
Cuba has a two tiered health care system one tier for the nomenklatura and foreign tourists with hard currency that offers care with modern equipment and fully stocked pharmacies, then there is a second tier which is for the rest with broken down equipment, run down buildings and rooms, scarce supplies, a lack of hygiene, the denial of certain services and lengthy wait times. Healthcare professionals are poorly paid and lack food.

There are serious consequences for travelers to Cuba when they are not properly informed with what to expect with Cuba's public health failures and the disastrous state of Cuban healthcare. Not to mention a hefty bill for catching Cholera while on vacation, or worse yet discovering that you had been exposed to Zika virus when your child is born with microcephaly, a serious birth defect. 

Venezuela - burned humanitarian aide in 2018, and shipped tons to Cuba as Venezuelans starved.

Nicolas Maduro, the former president of Venezuela, ordered troops to burn humanitarian aid in 2019. The usurper claims that humanitarian assistance is an existential threat and provocation to his regime. This claim is also backed by the Castro regime. However, they are not being honest about the real nature of the threat.

Maduro, along with the Castro regime, are attempting to install a communist dictatorship in Venezuela. One of the instruments that communist regimes have used to subjugate populations is famine and rationing food to those who are loyal and denying it to those who are not.

 In the case of Venezuela, Chávez and Maduro destroyed the market in food by imposing price controls "that resulted in underproduction when the official prices did not meet costs of production. Their governments expropriated farms, ranches, and even food distributors such as butchers. There’s very little if anything produced on these expropriated territories." Rhoda Howard-Hassmann's article "Famine in Venezuela" published on August 21, 2018 in the World Peace Foundation reports:

"By 2017 malnutrition was confirmed in Venezuela, precipitating the political unrest now roiling the country. According to Antulio Rosales (“Weaponizing Hunger is a New Low for the Venezuelan President,” Globe and Mail, March 12, 2018, p.A11) and Enrique Krauze (“Hell of a Fiesta,” New York Review of Books, March 8, 2018, pp. 4-7), by early 2018 more than half of all Venezuelans had lost between 19 and 24 pounds, and 90 per cent said they do not have enough money for food."
 TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan reporting from Caracas on December 30, 2018 published the article "Child malnutrition on the rise in Venezuela" that reveals that levels of hunger in Venezuela are that of a famine.
"The World Health Organisation says, a country with 10% of its children with malnutrition is at risk, at 12% it's considered famine. In Venezuela, a recent study conducted in five different states shows that we're at 14.8%," says Huniades Urbina, President of Venezuela's Childcare and Pediatrics Society.
Despite this reality, on February 4, 2018 Maduro shipped 100 tons of aid to Cuba and on February 6, 2018 Maduro, once again, ordered humanitarian shipments of aid to be blocked from entering Venezuela. Maduro continues to double down and block aid, or actually destroy it when it enters Venezuela.

Politicized public health

Cuba has covered up epidemics in the past targeting doctors and journalists who speak out. In 1997 a Cuban doctor was silenced for warning about a deadly dengue epidemic. Dr Desi Mendoza Rivero, married with four children at the time, was arrested on June 25, 1997. On November 28, 1997 he was sentenced to eight years in prison for "enemy propaganda." Amnesty International declared Dr. Mendoza Rivero a prisoner of conscience and campaigned for his freedom. He was released on November 20, 1998 due to health reasons following the visit of the Spanish Foreign Minister, under the condition that he leave Cuba for exile in Spain.  

First official report to the World Health Organization of the dengue outbreak was six months after initial identification made by the jailed and later forcibly exiled physician. Mendoza Rivero's reports were eventually confirmed. This episode would have a chilling effect on other doctors coming forward.

News of a cholera outbreak in Manzanillo, in the east of the island, broke in El Nuevo Herald on June 29, 2012 thanks to the reporting of an independent reporter in the island. Calixto Martinez, the independent Cuban journalist who broke the story was jailed. The state controlled media did not confirm the outbreak until days later on July 3, 2012. The BBC reported on July 7, 2012 that a patient had been diagnosed with cholera in Havana. The Cuban government stated that it had it under control and on August 28, 2012 said the outbreak was over.

In July 2013 an Italian tourist returned from Cuba with severe renal failure due to cholera. New York high school teacher Alfredo Gómez contracted cholera during a family visit to Havana during the summer of 2013 and was billed $4,700 from the government hospital. A total of 12 tourists were identified who had contracted cholera in Cuba. On August 22, 2013 Reuters reported that Cuba was still struggling with cholera outbreaks in various provinces.

6. To end racist police violence and mass incarceration, and free all political prisoners. Racist policing and mass incarceration are tools to enforce white supremacy. The US prison industrial complex, which incarcerates 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, must be dismantled.


The International Committee of the Red Cross has not been allowed in Cuban prisons since 1989, and that was a brief period between 1988-1989. In comparison, the prison for Al Qaeda prisoners at the U.S. Guantanamo Naval Base had over 100 visits between 2002 and 2014, and have continued to the present date.

Cuba is the only country in the Americas where Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other international and regional human rights organizations are unable to visit

We are deeply concerned with the plight of political prisoners such as Virgilio Mantilla Arango, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Maykel Castillo Pérez (Osorbo), and their health status. It is also no coincidence that all are black Cubans. 

These and other cases raise questions on the racist nature of the Castro regime.

Based on the Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research, according to the January 13, 2020 article by EuropaPress, Cuba today has the largest per capita prison population in the world. Although official data is unavailable, it is known that a disproportionate number are Black Cubans.


Venezuela in 2022 is the country with the highest per capita killings by the police of civilians in the world. (Nicaragua was fifth, and the United States was 33rd.)

9. The right of sovereign nations to decide their own policies and forms of government without foreign interference. The peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean have been subjected to coups, sanctions, and invasions when their policies don’t align with US interests. This contradicts the basic rights of sovereignty and independence. 


Fidel Castro, secretly a communist since at least 1950, lied to Cubans and the world that he would restore the 1940 Constitution and democracy in Cuba. Castro arrived in Havana in January of 1959 and immediately set upon consolidating power and erecting a totalitarian, communist dictatorship. On December 2, 1961  Castro explained the reason for the lie: "If we had paused to tell the people that we were Marxist-Leninists while we were on Pico Turquino and not yet strong, it is possible that we would never have been able to descend to the plains."  

Cubans did not vote the Castros into power, nor did Cubans in 1959 support the imposition of a communist system. Fidel Castro lied about it, and used political terror and firing squads to set up the police state that has endured for 63 years jailing and killing many Cubans, with a disproportionate number being black Cubans.  This has denied Cubans their sovereignty for seventy years, beginning with Batista's coup against Cuban democracy on March 10, 1952.


The Castro regime overthrew one government  in Latin America with armed interventions: the overthrow of the Somoza regime in Nicaragua and the installation of the Marxist-Leninist Sandinista regime led by Daniel Ortega. Robert A. Pastor, in the July 1992 report "The Carter Administration and Latin America: A Test of Principle" explained the role played by Havana in the Sandinista victory in Nicaragua, "by May 1979, with Cuban President Fidel Castro's help, the three Sandinista factions had united and established a secure and ample arms flow from Cuba through Panama and Costa Rica." The Sandinistas drove out the Somoza regime on July 19, 1979 and would remain a force there to the present day.

Since popular street protests turned against Ortega’s government in April 2018, the dictatorship has cancelled more than 400 civil society organizations, denying Nicaraguans' right to organize. Amnesty International reported at "least 325 dead and more than 2,000 injured" during and in the aftermath of the April 2018 protests. Many of the victims were students.


Castro regime's interest in Venezuela began from the earliest days of the dictatorship. Venezuelans understood the threat poised by the Cubans by 1960 when Ernesto "Che" Guevara was giving unsolicited advice to Rómulo Betancourt, the democratically elected president of Venezuela. Guevara called for Betancourt to use the firing squad against his "rightist opponents." 

The Venezuelan president "believed that trade and diplomatic relations should be broken with the governments that came to power through coups, regardless of whether they were left or right.  Thus, in 1961, Venezuela broke relations with Cuba and became one of the promoters of the exclusion of the island from the OAS, which was achieved in January 1962."

In 1963 Congressional Quarterly reported on how:

"Riots led by Communists and other pro-Castro elements in Caracas [in the autumn of 1960] took the lives of 13 persons and injured 100. Venezuela recalled its ambassador to Cuba, and Betancourt ordered out the army to end the rioting, which he termed an attempt to “install a regime similar to that in Cuba.”
Cuban Communist leader Blas Roca, told a Havana rally on January 23, 1963 that when the communists gained full control and “make themselves owners of the great riches in oil, aluminum and everything their earth imprisons, then all of America shall burn.”  A cache of three tons of weapons was found on a Venezuelan beach in November 1963 that was to be used to disrupt the democratic elections there. 

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

Failing to violently overthrow Venezuela's democracy, Fidel Castro publicly renounced the exportation of revolution (although he continued the practice -- see Nicaragua) and began making overtures to the Venezuelan government.

Venezuelan democrats forgot the nature of the Castro regime.
Diplomatic relations were restored between Venezuela and Cuba in December of 1974, oil deliveries resumed, and the democratic government of Venezuela under Carlos Andres Perez's first presidency advocated Cuba's readmission to the Organization of American States. 

At the start of his second presidency (1988 - 1993), Carlos Andres Perez invited Fidel Castro to his inauguration. 

In 1992 Hugo Chavez was involved in a failed coup against the Andres Perez government. Pardoned by Andres Perez's successor, Rafael Caldera, in March 1994 Hugo Chavez made his way to Cuba later that same year where he was received by Fidel Castro as a hero not a failed coup plotter. 

Four years later, in a reaction to generalized disgust with the corruption endemic to the Venezuelan democratic order epitomized by the Carlos Andres Perez administration the former coup plotter was elected president. 

President Caldera, who had pardoned Chavez, handed power over to him in 1999. Together with Fidel Castro, as a mentor, Chavez began the process of turning a flawed democratic order into the totalitarian regime it is today.

Official channels announced that Hugo Chavez died on March 5, 2013 and was replaced by Nicolas Maduro, a hardcore communist, an individual who spent a lot of time in his early 20s in Cuba being trained by the Union of Young Communists and Pedro Miret, an official close to Fidel Castro. 


Castroism's foreign interference in two African nations. There were others, but for the sake of brevity highlighting Ethiopia and Angola. 


There was one African nation that did not succumb to European colonialism and maintained its independence, and fought against Italian fascism in the 1930s. Ethiopia was ruled by an African monarchy with a lineage directly traced back to the 13th century, and possibly further back to Biblical times that was overthrown by Russian and Cuban backed communists on September 12, 1974 and replaced by a communist military junta called the Derg that carried out a red terror to consolidate its rule.

The Cuban dictatorship took part in a genocide in Ethiopia with their ally and convicted war criminal Mengistu Haile Mariam. Fidel and Raul Castro sent 17,000 Cuban troops to Eastern Africa in order to assist Mengistu in consolidating his rule and eliminating actual and potential opposition. Mengistu was backed by the Castros throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The last Cuban troops did not leave Ethiopia until 1989 and were present and complicit in the war crimes and engineered famine that took place there. 

Conservative estimate by Tufts University places the number of Ethiopians killed by Mengistu and his Cuban communist allies are between 225,000 and 317,000 Africans slaughtered.


 In Angola, Cuban troops in May 1977 took part in a massacre not long after independence following a split in the governing Communist MPLA party. Amnesty International says 30,000 died in the purge others say as many as 90,000 killed.

There is much more to Cuban involvement in Africa, but am focusing on two examples of foreign interference, and coups.

10. The need to end the deadly sanctions against the countries of Latin America as well as to lift the criminal blockade against Cuba. Sanctions are a form of war against civilian populations. During the Pandemic, sanctioned countries have been prevented from purchasing adequate medical supplies. Sanctions and blockades do great harm to ordinary people.

There is a reason for the absence of food in Cuba, and overall scarcity, but it is not sanctions According to the Cuban Studies Institute between 1952-1958 Cuba achieved "agricultural self-sufficiency to supply the people’s market demand for food." Despite the efforts to violently overthrow the Batista regime in the 1950s, "the Cuban food supply grew steadily to provide a highly productive system that, in daily calories consumption, ranked Cuba third in Latin America."This ended when the Castro regime took power, seized and collectivized properties, and prohibited farmers selling their crops to non-state entities, in the early years of the revolution.

Farmers no longer decided how much to produce, or what price to sell. The Communist Cuban government established production quotas and farmers were (and are) obligated to sell to the state collection agency, called Acopio. Most recent law on agriculture in Cuba ( Decreto Ley 358 de 2018) continues to prohibit private sales of agricultural products to non-state entities. The dictatorship began rationing food in 1962 as a method of control and continued the practice over the next six decades. Rationed food is not free, but sold at subsidized prices. Rationed items are not enough to feed a person.

Over six decades to the present day, between 70% and 80% of Cuba's food has and continues to be imported. This included the years when Cuba was heavily subsidized by the Soviet Union, and was part of the East Bloc. Since 2000, much of the food purchased by Havana has been imported from the United States. Despite this, rationing continued during the peak years (2011 - 2014) when the Cuban government received massive amounts of assistance from Venezuela's Chavez regime. What about  Cuba's domestic agricultural production? Diario de Cuba in their February 7, 2022 article, "Cubans go hungry and Acopio leaves 22 tons of tomatoes to rot, farmers denounce," cites Cuban agronomist Fernando Funes-Monzote who stated that "Cuban agriculture does not need to produce more food," because "50% of what is grown today is lost before reaching the consumer."

This is part of the "internal blockade" that thousands of Cubans have referred to, and signed a petition calling for its end.

The Castro regime continues to call the United States economic embargo on Cuba a "blockade." This is not true as the State Department (and U.S. - Cuba trade statistics over the past 22 years) demonstrate. The United States does not have a "blockade" on Cuba, but porous economic sanctions with a focus on cutting off funds to the military that controls most of the Cuban economy. The United States in 2020 was the third largest exporter of agricultural goods and supplies to Cuba. Remittances continue to flood Cuba from the Cuban exile community in South Florida, but now also in Euros due to new restrictions imposed by the Castro regime on June 21, 2021 against the dollar.

Agence France Presse (AFP) reported on February 6, 2022 that Cuba on February 5, 2022 announced a new 10 per cent tax on retail food sales, as the country endures economic woes marked by rampant inflation. The levy took effect on February 7, 2022 targeting self-employed people and small- and medium-sized companies in the retail food sector. These sales were only allowed starting in August 2021 as part of reforms in the communist-run island. Cuban economist Pedro Monreal wrote on Twitter that the new tax will probably have two effects: "higher food prices and more inequality among the Cuban people."