Sunday, September 25, 2022

Cuba's new Family Code won't pink wash away the communist regime's ideological aversion to homosexuality

“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 Castro regime held a "referendum" on September 25, 2022 to pass a government-backed “family code" that would allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt. It also outlined the rights of children and grandparents. The new "family law" contains over 400 articles. Critics view it as an exercise in pink washing.

First, this is not a free and fair referendum. There have not been free elections in Cuba for 72 years. Last ones were in 1950. Batista's 1952 coup ended regular free and fair elections. The Castros promised to restore them in 1959, but no free or fair elections were held over the next 63 years. Opposition political parties, and independent civil society were and continue to be outlawed.

Proof of life: Raul Castro featured in official media going to vote.

What the Castro dictatorship calls a "referendum" has some peculiar characteristics.  Can't campaign for the position opposed by the government. No equal time in the public airwaves. This is a "vote" where a single option, the one advocated by the government, is permitted. Efforts to independently monitor voting at precincts to verify the official tally will get you harassed and shutdown by secret police

Pinkwashing is "the practice of presenting something, particularly a state, as gay-friendly in order to soften or downplay aspects of its reputation considered negative."

This is particularly ironic in the Cuban context with the current communist dictatorship.

The Cuban government’s leadership, who remain in power today, carried out anti-Gay draconian policies in the past, and they are the same ones now advocating for the change on gay marriage in the new family code.

There is a deep-seated homophobia at the heart of communist ideology that viewed homosexuality as a symptom of bourgeois or capitalist contamination. This resulted in the systematic repression of homosexuals in communist regimes such as China, Cuba, and the Soviet Union.

In the Soviet Union homosexuality was criminalized in 1933, "punishable by prison and hard labor, and Stalinist anti-gay policies persisted throughout the 1960s and 1970s." 

In 1949 upon taking power in Mainland China the communists declared homosexuality a symptom of "bourgeois decadence" and set out to eliminate it.

On March 13, 1963 Fidel Castro gave a speech were he openly attacked “long-haired layabouts, the children of bourgeois families,” roaming the streets wearing “trousers that are too tight,” carrying guitars to look like Elvis Presley, who took “their licentious behavior to the extreme” of organizing “effeminate shows” in public places. 

The Cuban dictator warned: “They should not confuse the Revolution’s serenity and tranquility with weaknesses in the Revolution. Our society cannot accept these degeneracies.”

It didn't take long for the crackdown.

Gays and Lesbians were gathered up and placed in forced labor camps beginning in 1964 in what they called Military Units to Aid Production or UMAPs (Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción). These forced labor camps were for those suspected of or found guilty of "improper conduct."  Persons with "effeminate mannerisms": what the Cuban government called "extravagant behavior" were taken to these camps. 

On March 21, 1984 the film "Mauvaise Conduite" was released in France. The film was directed by  Néstor Almendros and Orlando Jiménez Leal.  The title of the film in English is Improper Conduct. It examines the "moral purges" of the Castro regime that began in 1964 with  the UMAPs.

Twenty years later with the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic in Cuba the regime rounded up all who were HIV positive. Cuba is the only nation in the world that mandated universal HIV testing and enforced isolation of all virus carriers in detention facilities from 1986 to 1994. 

Mariela Castro, General Raul Castro's daughter, has led efforts to Pinkwash the Castro dictatorship. Saul Landau, a Castro apologist who passed away in 2013, worked on a project that highlighted her efforts, Mariela Castro's March: Cuba's LGBT Revolution.

Gay Pride ended violently by Castro regime in 2019.

The reality that all human rights are nonexistent in Cuba was underscored once more on May 11, 2019 when the hollowness of the Pinkwashing  was revealed with images of gay rights activists beaten down, arrested and taken away for carrying out their annual Gay Pride march in Havana. The Castro regime had arbitrarily decided there would not be one in 2019.

The hatred for Gay dissidents in Cuba by the dictatorship has been documented in the case of Cuban biologist and environmentalist Dr. Ariel Ruiz Urquiola. On November 27, 2019 in a conference hosted by the International Society for Human Rights Dr. Ruiz Urquiola publicly accused the Cuban government of purposely inoculating him with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). He addressed the UN Human Rights Council on July 3, 2020 and denounced this cruel and unusual treatment by the Cuban government. On July 12, 2022 a video was released with Professor Ruiz Urquiola demonstrating the evidence that he was injected with HIV by agents of the Cuban government.

Cuba's new Family Code is an attempt to recover on the propaganda front what was lost in 2019, but the underlying nature of the dictatorship remains the same.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Protests in Iran 2022: Listen to Iranian women

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Martin Luther King Jr.

In July 2022, Tehran tried to kidnap, then murder Masih Alinejad.

 On September 23, 2022 this blog published a "Call for solidarity with protesters in Iran. Please share hashtags: #MahsaAmini #ZhinaAmini #IranProtests," that highlighted the killing of Mahsa Amini by the Guidance Patrol, also called the morality police, massive nationwide protests that followed, how to help, provided some historic context on relations between Tehran and Cuba, and mentioned the August 2022 attack against Salman Rushdie. However, there was an unforgivable omission that will be rectified in this blog.

Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, who was repeatedly cited in the previous blog post, was targeted by the Iranian Intelligence Services in a plot to kidnap her for Rendition to Iran, revealed the FBI on July 13, 2021. A little over a year later on July 31, 2022 Khalid Mehdiyev, age 23, was found outside her home with an AK-47, a high-capacity magazine and more than $1,000 in cash.

Khalid Mehdiyev is from Azerbaijan, and according to Jason Brodsky at the United Against Nuclear Iran nonprofit the dictatorship in Iran has been known to contract "Azeri hitmen to target Israelis in Cyprus."   

Ayatollah Khomeini, then supreme leader of Iran, issued a fatwa on February 14, 1989 condemning Salman Rushdie to death for blasphemy, and it was never rescinded. Salman Rushdie was attacked by Hadi Matar, age 24, on August 12, 2022 and stabbed in the stomach, chest, eye, hand and thigh. Rushdie needed to be placed on a respirator following the attack, and nearly died. 

U.S. residents are being targeted for kidnapping and murder by agents of Iran in 2022. This is happening in America. This is unacceptable.

Ignoring the injustices taking place in Iran, have brought them to New York. Time to pay attention, and hold the mullahs accountable.

Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. Ignoring that reality in too many Western capitals, and legitimizing this murderous regime, has spread the threat far beyond the borders of Iran to Brooklyn and Chautauqua, New York.

Please follow Masih Alinejad @AlinejadMasih on Twitter and amplify her voice, and that of other Iranian women such as:  Nazanin Nour @NazaninNour, Roya Hakakian @RoyaTheWriter, Nazanin Boniadi @NazaninBoniadi, Nazenin Ansari @NazeninA, Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay @NazaninAJ, and Mariam Memarsadeghi @memarsadeghi.

Now is the time for solidarity.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Call for solidarity with protesters in Iran. Please share hashtags: #MahsaAmini #ZhinaAmini #IranProtests

Morality police in Iran beat Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, to death for not complying with Tehran's hijab regulations. She was arrested on September 13, 2022 badly beaten, left in a coma, and died on September 16th

Mahsa Amini was beaten to death by morality police in Iran.

Mass protests have erupted in Iran, but the Iranian regime has shutdown the internet and is now carrying out massacres against demonstrators. 

Furthermore the mistake of replacing short wave radio transmissions of uncensored news with reliance  on internet broadcasts is once again revealed to be a mistake, as it was in Egypt during the Arab Spring

The last time this happened was in 2019, and the Mullahs killed 1,500 people, and I had not heard about it when it happened. The images of nonviolent protests slow to a trickle but some continue to emerge, along with reports of the price paid by protesters for their courageous dissent. Their censorship was successful that time, but let us do our part to prevent them from getting away with it again.

Please share the videos below, and use their hashtags.

Listening to these Iranian activists take to task the Biden Administration for enabling the Iranian oppressors gives me a sense of deja vu.

Regime agents are riding through the streets of Iran firing on protesters. It reminds me of what Cuban regime agents were doing across Cuba in July 2021.  The languages are different but the outrage and fear are the same.

Women are being shot in the head in Iran for protesting the killing of Mahsa Amini. This needs to be  called out and the Mullahs in Tehran held accountable.

Dear friends of freedom reading this blog entry, please amplify these Iranian voices, let your elected representatives know that you are watching, and that this is unacceptable. 

This has been going on for far too long in Iran, and the terror tactics have been copied elsewhere with Iranian help.

The Basij, formed in 1979 in Iran, murdered nonviolent demonstrators like Neda Agha Soltan in 2009 during the Green Revolution. 

Hugo Chavez copied the Basij and formed Colectivos in Venezuela. Both are pro-government militias with long track records of repression and murder. The Colectivos in 2014 did the same thing in Venezuela murdering nonviolent protesters like Génesis Carmona during mass anti-government protests. 

Neda Agha-Soltan and Génesis Carmona shot in the head.

Note to Western policy makers: the regime's in Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela are not your friends.

Cuba and Iran have regime's with different ideological formations. Cuba has a communist dictatorship run by the Castros since 1959 and Iran has a Islamist regime run by the mullahs since 1979. However they have two things in common: a profound anti-Americanism that portrays the U.S. as the great Satan, and a fossilized revolutionary tradition that systematically denies human rights to their respective peoples. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meets with General Raul Castro (2016)

Robin Wright referred to Cuba and Iran as "melancholy twins" in The New Yorker in 2015. They are both state sponsors of terrorism, and Iran has been linked to a mass killing of Jewish people in Argentina. 

Venezuela is an off shoot of the Cuban revolution and shares both its anti-Americanism and warm relations with Tehran.

But beyond their similarities they also have a shared strategic outlook that is hostile to the United States.

The late Fidel Castro visited Iran on May 10, 2001, four months before the September 11, 2001 attacks, where he was quoted by the Agence France Presse at the University of Tehran stating that "Iran and Cuba, in cooperation with each other, can bring America to its knees." ... "The U.S. regime is very weak, and we are witnessing this weakness from close up."

Eleven years later on January 12, 2012 in Havana, Cuba the controversial president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared "Our positions, versions, interpretations are alike, very close. We have been good friends, we are and will be, and we will be together forever."

Iran's Ahmadinejad with Communist Fidel Castro and Klansman David Duke

At a time when there is a fear of Iran seeking out asymmetric means to achieve maximum damage against United States interests, their decades long alliance with Cuba cannot and must not be ignored.

Even closer to home, the relationship between the Iranian regime and white supremacists such as David Duke and anti-Semites such as Louis Farrakhan should also be closely examined. 

Nor can we forget the brutal attack against Salman Rushdie here in the United States on August 12, 2022. He suffered stab wounds to the stomach, chest, eye, hand and thigh.

Martin Luther King Jr. was right: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.


I stand in solidarity with Iranians standing up for their freedom. They are facing off against the terrorist regime in Tehran that is indiscriminately gunning down protesters.

I pledge to continue to amplify their voices and will use the following hashtags.

#MahsaAmini #ZhinaAmini #IranProtests  

Hope you will too.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Join Cuban baseball fans outside of Marlins Baseball park at 6pm on Sept 19th to protest discrimination against Cuban players by Major League Baseball

The Association of Cuban Baseball Fans (Asociación de Apasionados del Beisbol Cubano) is organizing a protest outside of the entrance to Marlins Baseball park at 6:00pm on September 19th "to protest against the discrimination of professional Cuban baseball players who will not be able to participate in the next World Baseball Classic"

Former Cuban prisoner of conscience Regis Iglesias in an OpEd in Diario Las Américas on September 11, 2022 explained the context that has led to this protest.

..."The MLB institution or the MLB Players Association come up with the idea of ​​allowing some franchises to visit Cuba for "friendly" matches or much worse, to make "agreements" with who enslave not only our athletes, but all our people. I will always protest and condemn those unsupportive positions. MLB cannot be a repressive extension of the Cuban Baseball Federation and the criminal and segregationist regime in Cuba. 

Rob Manfred is not the owner of the farm like the commandos of the island and he cannot pressure the players with simplistic reasoning and opportunism to maintain the status quo with the tyranny or take shameful steps of recognition of it." ... "MLB's agreement with the Cuban Baseball Federation cannot be proudly brandished as it is part of the recognition of an institution, supposedly independent from a free country, to a repressive and segregationist institution from a country subjected to the tyranny of a communist party."

Major League Baseball (MLB) has repeatedly made two crucial mistakes, one that has been made by others, the professional baseball organization has confused the Castro dictatorship's junta with the Cuban people, and to highlight social justice issues in the United States, but ignoring them outside the United States, in places like Cuba.

On April 11, 2021 Mary O'Grady reported "Major League Baseball says 'values' compelled it to move this summer’s All-Star Game out of Georgia. But this piety doesn’t square with its long record of collaboration with Cuba’s military dictatorship, one of the world’s most notorious human-rights violators."

In 2016, Major League Baseball sent a proposal to the U.S. Treasury Department that would have turned Cuban baseball players into foreign workers of the Castro family while playing in the United States.  This is not hyperbole, the point man that Major League Baseball was dealing with is Antonio Castro, vice president of the Castro regime's International Baseball Federation, and Fidel Castro's son.

Antonio Castro, Castro regime's point man for baseball business

In 2018, after making their initial proposal, MLB was still trying to go into business with the Castro family.  Cuban baseball players would've been able to play in the Majors, but at a cost. According to Reuters, "MLB teams will pay the Cuban Baseball Federation a release fee for each player to be signed from Cuba." This raised some questions. How big will this release fee be? Will Cuban baseball players have to give up a big chunk of their salaries, like Cuban doctors have had to do?  The proposal was shot down by the Trump Administration.

MLB is tone dead on how this impacts Cuban fans. Even a team based in Miami paid a high price making the same mistake. 

When the Miami Marlins hired Ozzie Guillen to manage the team, who in an interview in Time Magazine on April 9, 2012 declared" I love Fidel Castro" and that he respected both Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, I wrote an OpEd published on April 10, 2012 in Fox Latino.  

In it, I gave a brief and incomplete summary of why Cuban exiles were upset with Ozzie Guillen's comments regarding Fidel Castro.

It began with the observation that "thousands of Cubans have been extra-judicially executed and millions have been driven into exile, while millions more have had their human rights systematically violated. The atrocities and systematic human rights violations have continued to the present."

The essay concluded with my announcement that I would be boycotting the Marlins. Ten years later, and I have not gone to a Marlins game, nor do I plan to. ( I had gone to games prior to Guillen's outrageous defense of tyrants.) 

However, I do encourage all Cuban and Cuban American baseball fans to go to Marlins Baseball Park at 6:00pm on September 19th to demonstrate this community's solidarity with Cuban baseball players, and to hold the Major Baseball League accountable. Cubans should be able to play in the World Baseball Classic representing the Cuban people, and it should be held in Miami, not the other side of the world.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

#DemocracyDelivers: International Day of Democracy

The first International Day of Democracy was held on September 15, 2008, the Inter-Parliamentary Union held a special event at the House of Parliaments in Geneva. National parliaments were invited to organize their own democracy-related activities on that day to highlight the role of parliament as the cornerstone of democracy.

State Department's graphic for the 14th International Day of Democracy

On this the 14th International Day of Democracy it is important to reflect on the continuing work that needs to be done to safeguard democracy and demonstrate to the non-democratic world that
democracy delivers.

Free Speech and political discourse are both under fire around the world, but also in strongholds of democracy such as the United States. Democracy depends on a strong and independent free press and the ability to engage in an open dialogue. It is supposed to not only be okay to disagree, but debates encouraged in a healthy democracy. No one should be silenced for their political speech, but motivated to speak out and take part in a civil dialogue. On March 21, 2022 the New York Times Opinion/Siena College Poll delivered worrying news on the state of free speech in America.

"Eighty-four percent of Americans say that some Americans not exercising their freedom of speech in everyday situations due to fear of retaliation or harsh criticism is either a very (40%) or somewhat (44%) serious problem, according to a new national New York Times Opinion/Siena College Poll. Over half, 55%, of Americans say that they have held their tongue, that is, not spoken freely over the last year because they were concerned about retaliation or harsh criticism, and compared to 10 years ago by 46-21% Americans are less, rather than more, free to express their viewpoint on politics, and by 35-28% less, rather than more, free to discuss issues of race."
The UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ON DEMOCRACY adopted without a vote* by the Inter-Parliamentary Council at its 161st session in Cairo on September 16,  1997 found that "the state of democracy presupposes freedom of opinion and expression; this right implies freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."   

Democracies need civic education for its citizens, and two aspects of it must be the principles of free expression and developing and maintaining a culture of political tolerance.

Worse still, in places like Cuba that routinely punish free speech, democracy has been absent for 70 years, and political tolerance outlawed. Citizens in these countries also need the help of democracies, and democrats to regain their rights, and expand the number of free nations.


Below is the text of the 1997 Universal Declaration on Democracy.



Declaration adopted without a vote* by the Inter-Parliamentary Council at its 161st session
(Cairo, 16 September 1997)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Reaffirming the Inter-Parliamentary Union's commitment to peace and development and convinced that the strengthening of the democratisation process and representative institutions will greatly contribute to attaining this goal,

Reaffirming also the calling and commitment of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to promoting democracy and the establishment of pluralistic systems of representative government in the world, and wishing to strengthen its sustained and multiform action in this field,

Recalling that each State has the sovereign right, freely to choose and develop, in accordance with the will of its people, its own political, social, economic and cultural systems without interference by other States in strict conformity with the United Nations Charter,

Recalling also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted on 10 December 1948, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted on 16 December 1966, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination adopted on 21 December 1965 and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women adopted on 18 December 1979,

Recalling further the Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections which it adopted in March 1994 and in which it confirmed that in any State the authority of the government can derive only from the will of the people as expressed in genuine, free and fair elections,

Referring to the Agenda for Democratisation presented on 20 December 1996 by the UN Secretary-General to the 51st session of the United Nations General Assembly,

Adopts the following Universal Declaration on Democracy and urges Governments and Parliaments throughout the world to be guided by its content:


1. Democracy is a universally recognised ideal as well as a goal, which is based on common values shared by peoples throughout the world community irrespective of cultural, political, social and economic differences. It is thus a basic right of citizenship to be exercised under conditions of freedom, equality, transparency and responsibility, with due respect for the plurality of views, and in the interest of the polity.

2. Democracy is both an ideal to be pursued and a mode of government to be applied according to modalities which reflect the diversity of experiences and cultural particularities without derogating from internationally recognised principles, norms and standards. It is thus a constantly perfected and always perfectible state or condition whose progress will depend upon a variety of political, social, economic, and cultural factors.

3. As an ideal, democracy aims essentially to preserve and promote the dignity and fundamental rights of the individual, to achieve social justice, foster the economic and social development of the community, strengthen the cohesion of society and enhance national tranquillity, as well as to create a climate that is favourable for international peace. As a form of government, democracy is the best way of achieving these objectives; it is also the only political system that has the capacity for self-correction.

4. The achievement of democracy presupposes a genuine partnership between men and women in the conduct of the affairs of society in which they work in equality and complementarity, drawing mutual enrichment from their differences.

5. A state of democracy ensures that the processes by which power is acceded to, wielded and alternates allow for free political competition and are the product of open, free and non-discriminatory participation by the people, exercised in accordance with the rule of law, in both letter and spirit.

6. Democracy is inseparable from the rights set forth in the international instruments recalled in the preamble. These rights must therefore be applied effectively and their proper exercise must be matched with individual and collective responsibilities.

7. Democracy is founded on the primacy of the law and the exercise of human rights. In a democratic State, no one is above the law and all are equal before the law.

8. Peace and economic, social and cultural development are both conditions for and fruits of democracy. There is thus interdependence between peace, development, respect for and observance of the rule of law and human rights.


9. Democracy is based on the existence of well-structured and well-functioning institutions, as well as on a body of standards and rules and on the will of society as a whole, fully conversant with its rights and responsibilities.

10. It is for democratic institutions to mediate tensions and maintain equilibrium between the competing claims of diversity and uniformity, individuality and collectivity, in order to enhance social cohesion and solidarity.

11. Democracy is founded on the right of everyone to take part in the management of public affairs; it therefore requires the existence of representative institutions at all levels and, in particular, a Parliament in which all components of society are represented and which has the requisite powers and means to express the will of the people by legislating and overseeing government action.

12. The key element in the exercise of democracy is the holding of free and fair elections at regular intervals enabling the people's will to be expressed. These elections must be held on the basis of universal, equal and secret suffrage so that all voters can choose their representatives in conditions of equality, openness and transparency that stimulate political competition. To that end, civil and political rights are essential, and more particularly among them, the rights to vote and to be elected, the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, access to information and the right to organise political parties and carry out political activities. Party organisation, activities, finances, funding and ethics must be properly regulated in an impartial manner in order to ensure the integrity of the democratic processes.

13. It is an essential function of the State to ensure the enjoyment of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights to its citizens. Democracy thus goes hand in hand with an effective, honest and transparent government, freely chosen and accountable for its management of public affairs.

14. Public accountability, which is essential to democracy, applies to all those who hold public authority, whether elected or non-elected, and to all bodies of public authority without exception. Accountability entails a public right of access to information about the activities of government, the right to petition government and to seek redress through impartial administrative and judicial mechanisms.

15. Public life as a whole must be stamped by a sense of ethics and by transparency, and appropriate norms and procedures must be established to uphold them.

16. Individual participation in democratic processes and public life at all levels must be regulated fairly and impartially and must avoid any discrimination, as well as the risk of intimidation by State and non-State actors.

17. Judicial institutions and independent, impartial and effective oversight mechanisms are the guarantors for the rule of law on which democracy is founded. In order for these institutions and mechanisms fully to ensure respect for the rules, improve the fairness of the processes and redress injustices, there must be access by all to administrative and judicial remedies on the basis of equality as well as respect for administrative and judicial decisions both by the organs of the State and representatives of public authority and by each member of society.

18. While the existence of an active civil society is an essential element of democracy, the capacity and willingness of individuals to participate in democratic processes and make governance choices cannot be taken for granted. It is therefore necessary to develop conditions conducive to the genuine exercise of participatory rights, while also eliminating obstacles that prevent, hinder or inhibit this exercise. It is therefore indispensable to ensure the permanent enhancement of, inter alia, equality, transparency and education and to remove obstacles such as ignorance, intolerance, apathy, the lack of genuine choices and alternatives and the absence of measures designed to redress imbalances or discrimination of a social, cultural, religious and racial nature, or for reasons of gender.

19. A sustained state of democracy thus requires a democratic climate and culture constantly nurtured and reinforced by education and other vehicles of culture and information. Hence, a democratic society must be committed to education in the broadest sense of the term, and more particularly civic education and the shaping of a responsible citizenry.

20. Democratic processes are fostered by a favourable economic environment; therefore, in its overall effort for development, society must be committed to satisfying the basic economic needs of the most disadvantaged, thus ensuring their full integration in the democratic process.

21. The state of democracy presupposes freedom of opinion and expression; this right implies freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

22. The institutions and processes of democracy must accommodate the participation of all people in homogeneous as well as heterogeneous societies in order to safeguard diversity, pluralism and the right to be different in a climate of tolerance.

23. Democratic institutions and processes must also foster decentralised local and regional government and administration, which is a right and a necessity, and which makes it possible to broaden the base of public participation.


24. Democracy must also be recognised as an international principle, applicable to international organisations and to States in their international relations. The principle of international democracy does not only mean equal or fair representation of States; it also extends to the economic rights and duties of States.

25. The principles of democracy must be applied to the international management of issues of global interest and the common heritage of humankind, in particular the human environment.

26. To preserve international democracy, States must ensure that their conduct conforms to international law, refrain from the use or threat of force and from any conduct that endangers or violates the sovereignty and political or territorial integrity of other States, and take steps to resolve their differences by peaceful means.

27. A democracy should support democratic principles in international relations. In that respect, democracies must refrain from undemocratic conduct, express solidarity with democratic governments and non-State actors like non-governmental organisations which work for democracy and human rights, and extend solidarity to those who are victims of human rights violations at the hands of undemocratic régimes. In order to strengthen international criminal justice, democracies must reject impunity for international crimes and serious violations of fundamental human rights and support the establishment of a permanent international criminal court.

* * *
*After the Declaration was adopted, the delegation of China expressed reservations to the text.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

September 11, 1906 and September 11, 2001: Non-violence vs. Terrorism

"Terrorism and deception are weapons not of the strong but of the weak." - Mohandas K. Gandhi

Twenty one years ago today, the United States was attacked and 2,977 men, women, and children were murdered and over 6,000 wounded in terrorist attacks planned by Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network.

The victims were distributed as follows: 246 on the four planes converted into flying missiles. Two of the planes flew into the Twin Towers which collapsed and led to the deaths of 2,606 human beings in New York City in the towers and on the ground, and a third struck the Pentagon taking 125 lives.  

The fourth plane, heading to Washington D.C., never arrived and crashed into an open field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania as the passengers of the flight fought the terrorists over control of the flight.

September 11, 2001 victims

The date September 11th was picked by the terrorists because it marks the September 11, 1683 defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Vienna. It turned the tide of Islamic conquest in Europe. 318 years later the Islamist began their offensive in revenge for the defeat of their armies in the heart of Europe. 

Gandhi in South Africa

116 years ago today on September 11, 1906 in South Africa Mohandas Gandhi coined the term Satyagraha which brought together truth and firmness into one word defining the essence of nonviolent resistance.

Humanity faces a stark choice defined and marked by the chasm between the strong and courageous Satyagraha practiced by Mohandas Gandhi and the terrorism practiced by the weak and frustrated. Will hope or terror triumph? 

In the article linked to below Gandhi describes the meeting where the word Satyagraha came into existence and with the life he lived gave the answer to the question.

The young Mohandas Gandhi

Gandhi, M.K., Satyagraha in South Africa (Ahmedabad, 1928, revised 2nd edition, 1950) pp. 95-102)

Mohandas Gandhi was a critic of terrorism, as the quote on the top of the page indicates, but below are two more epigrams by the Indian independence leader.

"I do not regard killing or assassination or terrorism as good in any circumstances whatsoever."

"The spirit of democracy cannot be established in the midst of terrorism, whether governmental or popular." 

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Feast Day for Cuba's Our Lady Charity, the founding of the Christian Liberation Movement and the importance of truth

Virgin of Charity and the three Juanes

For the past four centuries, since the Virgin of Charity appeared to the three Juanes in the Bay of Nipe in 1612, She has been a source of popular devotion among Cubans and on May 10, 1916 forever linked with Cuban independence when Pope Benedict XV proclaimed Her Patroness of Cuba in response to a request by veterans of the Cuban war of independence. Since then She has also been known as the Virgin Mambisa. Since 1959 She has accompanied the Cuban diaspora.

She has remained a powerful force in Cuba over the past 63 years, despite efforts to impose atheism.

Jesús Mustafá Felipe at Solemn Mass for Our Lady of Charity

34 years ago on September 8, 1988, the Feast Day for Cuba's Our Lady Charity, a handful of Cubans, lay Catholics, consisting of Oswaldo Payá, Ramón Antúnez, Dagoberto Capote, Santiago Cárdenas and Fernando Arvelo, inspired by their faith, the strength of their ideals and love for their country, founded the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), to work for the recovery of popular sovereignty and national reconciliation in Cuba.

 "Liberation is our purpose, liberation carried out by the people, who will not be a spectator of the moment in which their destiny is decided. We do not call all against each other, but all for a new Cuba. We reject violence, offense, lies and destruction as means of struggle. We do not believe that the end justifies the means. Our goal is to achieve freedom, justice and this is achieved only moved by love. Freedom is true only if it emanates from love. "
Since then, many Cubans joined the Christian Liberation Movement and given their best for their homeland. Some are no longer physically here, and some of them were murdered by the dictatorship.  

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas described how the Christian Liberation Movement, a democratic opposition movement, came into existence and explained how it was related to the birth of his first child, Oswaldo José.

“When our first child was going to be born, we have three children, we said that our children cannot live in a country without liberty and we are not going to another country to seek freedom. Therefore we have to fight for our children to live free here in Cuba and everyone else's children and their parents too.”    
Oswaldo José was born on February 17, 1988 and the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) was founded that same year on September 8, 1988.   Oswaldo Payá was killed on July 22, 2012 along with the movement's youth leader Harold Cepero. 

The Castro dictatorship has a hostile relationship with religion since the beginning when it officially declared itself an atheist state and expelled scores of priests from Cuba on September 17, 1961, canceled Christmas in 1969 under the pretext to prevent work shortages for the 1970 ten million ton sugar harvest but continued the ban until 1997, and sent mobs to intimidate Cubans attending religious services.  

Priests were taken at gun point and forced out of Cuba in 1961

This is not what was promised by the revolutionaries when they took power in Cuba.  Fidel Castro on January 11, 1959 went  on Face the Nation and promised free, multiparty elections within 18 months. Richard Bate of CBS News pressed the Cuban dictator.

Richard Bate: Dr. Castro you said that in 18 months or so there will be free elections in Cuba. When this time comes will all political parties be able to run candidates in these elections?

Fidel Castro: Yes, of course

Richard Bate: All political parties including the Directorio?

Fidel Castro: Of course, if we don't give free to all the political parties to organize we are not a democratic country. We have fought for the democracy here, and for the free ... for the the freedom of our people. We don't want to stop and to put any difficulties to anybody. We believe in democracy. 

Richard Bate: Why would it be necessary to wait 18 months before free elections to be held?

Fidel Castro: Well, do you think it is good for the Cubans When all the people want peace. When all the people is that the government repair the mistakes and the barbarity of the before government. Don't you believe that our country at least one year to work? Do you believe that between... in the fight of the political parties is it possible to do anything? If we give a free election tomorrow we win because we have almost all the people ...

In Matthew 7:15-7:16 the Gospel states "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits." From the very beginning, truth has often been a casualty of the communist regime in Cuba.

Father Miguel Angel Loredo (1998)

Father Miguel Angel Loredo was a prisoner of conscience of the Castro dictatorship because he refused to go along with the lies of the regime. Father Loredo understood that one of the most formidable weapons against injustice is objective truth, and here he explained why.

"I believe we should denounce the evils of both the right and the left. I find selective denunciation, that has political roots repugnant. If you believe in the integrity of the human being you must believe deeply in objective denunciation. Without objectivity, there is no hope."

Monsignor Agustin Roman in an essay on the importance of the Cuban dissident movement in Cuba described the role that the truth played in its genesis:

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.

If the truth shall make you free then what does the lie offer? The Ochoa case offers a dramatic answer. In June of 1989, General Arnaldo Ochoa is arrested. 

He had been declared a “Hero of the Revolution” by Fidel Castro in 1984 but by 1989 was deemed too dangerous by Castro because he feared that General Ochoa had been contaminated by the ideas of Glasnost and Perestroika while visiting the Soviet Union during the Gorbachev era. 

He was also popular within the ranks of the military due to his exploits in Africa. General Ochoa was accused of conspiracy and treason. He was also tied to drug smuggling and corruption. Ochoa was approached by Fidel Castro with the offer that if he confessed to everything he had been accused of and did not mount a vigorous defense that he could go home into retirement.

General Ochoa  went along with the lie and pled guilty in an abject fashion reminiscent Stalinist show trials of the 1930s. He was executed days later by firing squad on July 13, 1989, with a tainted reputation.

Father José Conrado and Father Juan Lázaro Vélez preside over Mass for Matanzas victims.

During a special mass for the victims of the Matanzas oil fire in Miami on September 6th, Father Conrado acknowledged that "although we are far from the Homeland, those of us who left to find freedom, also feel and suffer for Cuba, because the Homeland belongs to everyone" paraphrasing José Martí, the apostle of Cuban independence. Father Conrado issued a call in the name of Jesus and the Virgin "so that we Cubans break the spell of evil that has taken over the island" and for this he called for the unity of all Cubans, "those of the two shores”.

Today, the Christian Liberation Movement has issued a statement underscoring its continued commitment to a free Cuba, and highlighting the plight of Yandier Garcia Labrada, who is currently jailed for nonviolently protesting the regime. 

Congratulations to all the initiators, to those who have been consistent with our principles and values all these years, to those who have maintained the banner of Liberation from the island and in exile against all odds. To Yandier who is in a cell today, but is freer than all his jailers and repressors. To those who gave everything for Cuba, for this Movement and are no longer with us physically but continue to be by our side in spirit.  
Congratulations "liberationists"!!! 
Oswaldo and Harold Live!!! 
 All Cubans. All Brothers And Now Freedom! 

Today is a also good day to remember Václav Havel's  hopeful call: "May truth and love triumph over lies and hatred." May it be so.