Friday, April 10, 2015

Want a Free Cuba? Sign the Agreement

Add your name here to The Agreement for Democracy if you want to see a free, sovereign and democratic Cuba. The Free Cuba Foundation is a 1998 signatory of The Agreement.

The Agreement for Democracy, known as “El Acuerdo” emerged from within Cuba and exile in 1998.  It was signed that year by a broad ideological spectrum of the Cuban opposition to the dictatorship and reaffirmed in Lubin, Poland in 2007, with international support during a ceremony commemorating the massacre of polish workers in that city by the pro-soviet regime 25 years earlier.
The Agreement for Democracy is a unitary document that expresses and explains what units Cuba’s pro-democracy movement and details the steps that should be taken for the re-establishment of a multiparty representative democracy within a genuine Rule of Law. Some of the original signatories of El Acuerdo have passed away.  Many more have since signed it, and continue doing so.  As recently as January, 2015, hundreds of pro-democracy activists within Cuba added their names to El Acuerdo.

We, Cubans conscious of the need for transcendental change in the political, social and economic structures of our country, gather, beyond our diverse strategies for liberation, to affirm before our people and the international community the essential postulates that substantiate the democratic alternative to the despotism which currently prevails in our homeland.

We affirm that the Cuban nation is one, within the national territory and in diaspora. We believe that all Cubans have the right to be equal before the law and the nation, with full dignity that cannot be subject to any discrimination. We likewise understand that the present regime has shown itself incapable of assuring liberty and justice and of promoting well-being and human solidarity in our homeland. Due to this, from this point forward, we establish, through a great national consensus and as a clear alternative to the current oppression, this:

Agreement for Democracy in Cuba

We recognize as the fundamental principle of the new Republic that Cuba is one and independent, whose sovereignty resides in the people and functions through the effective exercise of representative multi-party democracy, which is the government of the majority with absolute respect for the minority.

All governments must respect the sovereignty of the people, therefore, at the end of the current tyrannical regime, the provisional or transition government shall be obligated to return sovereignty to the people by way of the following measures:
  1. Guarantee the people’s participation in the decisions of the nation through the exercise of universal, direct, and secret voting to elect its representatives, and the right to seek public office.
  2. Immediately issue a general amnesty for the liberation of all political prisoners, including those who have been sentenced for fictitious common crimes, and cancel the pending political cases against Cubans in exile, so as to facilitate their return to the homeland and their reintegration into the national society.
  3. Organize an independent, impartial, and professional judiciary.
  4. Recognize and protect the freedom of expression, of the press, of association, of assembly, of peaceful demonstration, profession, and religion.
  5. Protect the Cuban people from arbitrary expulsion from their homes as well as against all forms of detention, search, confiscation or arbitrary aggression, and from violation of their correspondence, documents and other communications, and defend all Cubans’ rights to privacy and honor.
  6. Immediately legalize all political parties and other organizations and activities of civil society.
  7. Refer to the Constitution of 1940, when applicable, during the transition period and convoke free elections with the supervision of international organizations within a time period not greater than one year, for a Constituent Congress which will establish a Constitution and which, during its existence, shall have authority to legislate as well as to oversee the executive. Having thus achieved democratic legitimacy, it shall call general elections in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
  8. Recognize and protect the freedom of economic activity; the right to private property; the right to unionize, to bargain collectively and to strike; the Cuban people’s right to genuine participation in their economic development; access to public health and education, and initiate the reestablishment of civic values in education.
  9. Take immediate steps to protect Cuba’s environmental security and protect and rescue the national patrimony.
  10. Propitiate and guarantee the professionalism and political neutrality of the Armed Forces and create forces of public order whose rules of conduct shall adjust to the principles of this Agreement.
Cuba shall resurrect from its own ashes, but it is the sacred obligation of all Cubans – both within the oppressed island and in diaspora – to place our hands on the plough without looking backwards but rather into the deepest part of our hearts, to convert those ashes into fertile seeds of love and creation. Now, as 100 years ago, our national aspiration remains the construction of a Republic based on the formula of triumphant love:


Signed February 20, 1998. Reaffirmed: August, 31, 2007.
La Habana, Cuba.
Lubin, Poland.
Miami, Florida.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

FCF founder Gus Monge assaulted by agents of the Castro regime in Panama

Standing up for a free Cuba in Panama
Auugusto Monge in Panama City on April 9, 2015
Augusto Monge, "Gus"to his friends was brutally assaulted today in Panama City at Porra Park while joining with 20 other exile and internal opposition activists in laying flowers at a bust of Jose Marti in that public park. The videos of what took place are circulating around the world in the run up to the Summit of the Americas in Panama.

Gus is a founding member of the Free Cuba Foundation and was chairman from 1993 to 1994. In 1994 Gus participated in the first Summit of the Americas and also spoke on the steps of the U.S. Capitol that same year.

Gus Monge speaks on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in 1994

 On July 13, 1995 he participated in a flotilla to pay his respects to the 37 men, women and children massacred a year earlier by the Castro regime. Following the February 24, 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shoot down Gus took part in the flotilla to pay his respects for the four men who had been killed.

Flotilla in March of 1996

On the twentieth anniversary of the "13 de Marzo"tugboat massacre Gus gathered at FIU to remember the 37 victims of the Castro regime. Following the December 17, 2014 Cuba policy announcement by the White House Gus Monge joined together with different generations of FCF activists at Jose Marti park on December 20, 2014 to protest the policy changes.

Gus Monge standing on the far right with other FCF members on July 13, 2014
 On January 31, 2015 Gus was one of fifteen former Free Cuba Foundation officers who signed a letter titled Not In Our Name that was published in The Huffington Post. On February 24, 2015 Gus took part in the silent vigil at Florida International University in memory of the four members of Brothers to the Rescue killed nineteen years earlier.

Vigil for Brothers to the Rescue on February 24, 2015
The Free Cuba Foundation denounces the brutal assault on Cuba resistance activists in Panama City today and joins the call for an investigation into what happened and holding responsible those who initiated the attack.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Remembering Joachim: Danish student studying Spanish in Cuba gunned down by soldier

18 years without justice ...
Joachim Løvschall: 1970 - 1997

Joachim Løvschall, a Danish student studying Spanish at the University of Havana gunned down by an AK-47 wielding Cuban soldier as he walked home on the evening of March 29,1997. The body remained hidden for days. The shooter was never identified. Ten years after his son's extrajudicial execution, Christian Løvschall spoke at a parallel forum at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva Switzerland about what had happened.

Eighteen years later he is not forgotten. Friends and family remember and honor this young man on Facebook. He was born on December 8, 1970 and was extra-judicially executed on March 29, 1997 and those responsible in the Cuban regime have not been identified or held accountable.

Joachim should have celebrated his 44th birthday back in December, but thanks to the arbitrary cruelty of Cuba's state security apparatus he perished at age 26.

Today, a prayer in his memory and for his family who still miss him.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Freedom for Danilo concert in Havana, Cuba today


Concert today in Havana, Cuba
On March 28 at 3pm at La Paja Recold located on Ave 35 #4202 between 42 & 44 Apartment 5 in Havana, Cuba there will be a concert, expo, performance and "disrespect" all under the headline: "Freedom for Danilo." These members of civil society are testing the boundaries of what is permissible in Cuba. Increased international visibility may provide some protection. Please sign the petition demanding his release and spread the word on the campaign and the concert.

For more information on imprisoned artist Danilo Maldonado visit here. Below is a music video calling for his release. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

The FIU Declaration: 18 Years Later

On March 13, 1997 forty years to the day after students assaulted the Presidential Palace in Havana and perished trying to assassinate Fulgencio Batista leaving Castro in a better position later to seize power. Every free Cuba organization in FIU's history sat down for an evening and analyzed the consequences of their actions. We also explored what were our responsibilities as students and activists. At the end of the evening the following document was signed. 18 years later we remember this important and tragic anniversary and renew our call to action.

Gathering at FIU on March 13, 1997

Florida International University Declaration

We the Students of Florida International University recognizing that Cuban students have played a leading role in the history of Cuba, do hereby declare our support for the principles, and purposes enshrined in Concilio Cubano's founding statement in Havana, on October 10, 1995:

FIRST: The determination to work for a non-violent transition toward a democratic society under the rule of law, devoid of any vindictiveness, and equally comprising all Cubans.

SECOND: Obtaining unconditional amnesty for all political prisoners.

THIRD: Launching a series of legal transformations that will provide the necessary framework, within the law, to secure absolute respect for all universally recognized human rights, as well as equal participation by all Cubans in an opening process that will lead to economic independence.

FOURTH: The belief that, in order to harmonize the peaceful transition we are advocating the principle that Cuba is the fatherland and the home of each and every Cuban, it is essential to provide such conditions as will guarantee participation for all Cubans, with no exclusions whatsoever.

Concilio Cubano was designed to be a permanent forum where all participating organizations could fashion joint proposals while maintaining their own identity. We the students believe that the systematic denial of human rights and human dignity in Cuba cannot be tolerated. We believe that the moral and pragmatic solution is non-violent resistance to the intolerable situation in Cuba. To this end we pledge our lives and our freedom.

March 13, 1997 marks the 40th anniversary of the assault on the Presidential Palace. On that day the blood of Cuba's university students was spilled in the cause of freedom. On February 24, 1996 our generation of Cuban youth had its first four losses in this struggle. Mario De La  Peña, Armando Alejandre, an FIU alumnus, Carlos Costa and Pablo Morales where of our generation.

Forty years after the 13 of March. One year after the massacre of February 24. We the students who live in exile, wish to join with our brothers and sisters inside of Cuba for the liberation of our nation and the re- establishment of democracy and the rule of law in Cuba.

To this end we seek to follow the lead of the internal opposition, embrace the principles of non-violent resistance, speak out on behalf of Cuba's political prisoners, and issue a call to educate the children of the Cuban exile about the history and reality of the ongoing tragedy in Cuba.

Signed on March 13, 1997

Sebastian Arcos Cazabon
Comite Cubano Pro Derechos Humanos

Pedro Solares

Ana M. Carbonell
Alianza de Jovenes Cubanos

Lorenzo de Toro III
Generacion 90

John Suarez
FREE CUBA Foundation

Juan Jose de Castro
Directorio Revolucionario Democratico Cubano

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bearing witness and demanding justice for Brothers to the Rescue

"For the dead and the living, we must bear witness." - Elie Wiesel (1978)

Silent vigil on February 24, 2015 demanding justice for the four men in 2 Brothers to the Rescue planes killed in 1996

On December 29, 2014 in an open letter signed by past and present members of the Free Cuba Foundation it was announced that on February 24, 2015 they would be gathering at the main fountain at Florida International University. An abbreviated version of the letter was published in The Huffington Post on January 30, 2015 with title: Not in Our Name expressing deep concerns over the actions of the Obama administration on December 17, 2014.
FCF is concerned that releasing the three remaining spies, including Gerardo Hernandez -- who was serving two life sentences, one of them for conspiracy to murder four members of Brothers to the Rescue in exchange for Gross and an unknown Cuban intelligence operative -- may lead to the Castro regime murdering more innocents inside and outside of Cuba.
 Two days after the new Cuba policy announcement President Obama spoke about the February 24, 1996 shoot down in terms that were factually inaccurate and called attention to his misrepresentations about what took place during that day.
FCF and its members are disturbed by the President's statement on December 19,2014 that the 1996 shoot down was not a premeditated move by Castro but a "tragic circumstance." This statement was deficient on two basic points. First of all, two planes were shot down over international airspace not one as he stated in the press conference. More importantly, the president's statement ignored documented evidence as well as court decisions and investigations by international human rights bodies that have concluded that the attack was indeed a premeditated extrajudicial execution.
 Last week on February 24th the silent vigil for justice took place at Florida International University and received press coverage. This is a tradition that began in 1996 and has been continued every year thereafter remembering that the shootdown of two Brothers to the Rescue planes on February 24, 1996, by Castro regime MiGs caused the untimely deaths of Armando Alejandre Jr. (age 45), Carlos Alberto Costa (age 29), Mario Manuel de la Peña (age 24) and Pablo Morales (age 29).  In 2015 this silent vigil took place on the eve of President Barack Obama's visit to Florida International University for a Townhall meeting on immigration.

Miriam de la Peña, whose son Mario de la Peña, was one of the four men murdered by the Castro regime in the shoot down, spoke on camera summarizing the events that led to her son's death and concluded by asking President Obama: Why did he free her son's murderer who was serving a double life sentence?

Next year will mark 20 years since this terrible crime was committed and the continued impunity surrounding the shoot down demands that we once again gather to bear witness and demand justice with this silent vigil. G-d willing, we will be there once again on February 24, 2016 from 3:21pm to 3:27pm.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Czech NGO demands release for Cuban artist arbitrarily detained for two months

 February 26 marks two months that El Sexto has been arbitrarily detained.

Danilo Maldonadoa.k.a. El Sexto detained since Dec 26

Two months in jail for a performace that never took place

Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto (The Sixth), was detained on December 26, 2014 on the Malecón esplanade in Havana as he was driving towards the Central Park to make a performance with two pigs whose bodies were painted with the names of Cuban leaders: “Fidel” and “Raúl.“

Today, almost two month later, El Sexto remains in jail in Valle Grande, has been accused of “disrespect“and is awaiting a trial.  According to his relatives, he came down with pneumonia and has not received any medical care. In the beginning of this year, the Cuban authorities refused his application for habeas corpus submitted by Laritza Diversent, an attorney who denounced his arbitrary detention.

The fate of El Sexto is similar to the one of other Cuban opposition members who, in the past few years, have also suffered from arbitrary detentions without judicial guarantees. Despite the release of 53 political prisoners who were set free by the Cuban regime in the framework of the recent political opening with the United States, the situation of Cuban activists remains precarious.

Only a few days after El Sexto’s detention, on December 30, the Cuban artist, Tania Bruguera, organized an open microphone event during which people were invited to freely express their opinions on the Revolutionary Square. However, the event was boycotted by the police and the participants were brutally repressed. Tania Bruguera was arrested the night before and was released few days after the detention. Currently she is awaiting authorities to press charges against her.

There has been thawing of relations between Cuba and the United States and many people believe that the economic changes will contribute to a political opening on the island. However, performances similar to those organized by El Sexto or Tania Bruguera are still not welcomed. The message is clear: the art and politics have to remain separate and the critical irony will continue not to be accepted by the government. That’s why, now more than ever, it is important to keep an eye on the situation of the Cuban civil society. 

The People in Need demands an immediate release of Danilo Maldonado and urges international organizations to continue monitoring the works of artists and activists who, in this time of change in Cuba, continue fighting for free exercise of their political rights and individual freedoms.

Dos meses en la carcel por una performance que nunca  tuvo lugar

El grafitero Danilo Maldonado, conocido como El Sexto, fue detenido el 26 de diciembre en el Malecón de La Habana cuando se dirigía con un auto hacia el Parque Central, con dos cerdos, para hacer una performance. Los cerdos llevaban inscritos los nombres „Fidel“ y „Raúl“ respectivamente.

Hoy, casi dos meses después,  El Sexto permanece encerrado en la cárcel Valle Grande, acusado de un delito de „desacato“ y en espera de juicio. Según han informado sus familiares, ha enfermado de neumonía y no está recibiendo tratamiento médico. A principios de año, las autoridades rechazaron un recurso de habeas corpus presentado por la abogada Laritza Diversent que denunciaba su detención arbitraria.

La encarcelación de El Sexto no es muy diferente a las que lllevan sufriendo los opositores en Cuba durante los últimos años, de forma arbitraria y sin garantías judiciales. A pesar de la liberación de 53 presos políticos que el gobierno cubano a puesto en práctica recientemente en el marco del acercamiento con Estados Unidos, la situación de los activistas  continúa siendo precaria.

Tan solo unos días después de la dentención de El Sexto, el 30 de diciembre, otra performance organizada por la artista Tania Bruguera en la plaza de la Revolución, consistente en un micrófono abierto donde la gente podía expresar libremente sus opiniones, fue igualmente boicoteada por la policía, y sus participantes duramente reprimidos. Tania Bruguera había sido arrestada en su casa la noche anterior, y fue puesta en libertad unos días después. Ahora está a la espera de que se le presenten cargos.

Cuba y Estados Unidos han empezado a dialogar, y muchos confían en el poder de la economía para traer cambios políticos, pero lo cierto es que performances como las de El Sexto o la de Tania Bruguera siguen sin ser bienvenidas en Cuba. El mensaje está muy claro: arte y realidad política deben permanecer separados, y la crítica y la ironía van a seguir sin ser aceptadas por el gobierno. Por eso, ahora más que nunca, es importante observar con atención la evolución en la situación de la sociedad civil cubana.

Desde People in Need exigimos la inmediata puesta en libertad de Danilo Maldonado e instamos a los organismos internacionales a mantenerse alerta al trabajo de artistas y activistas que seguirán luchando el desarrollo de los derechos políticos y las libertades individuales en Cuba en estos tiempos de cambio.

People in Need - Human Rights and Democracy - rewriting Cuba,