Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why are they shooting Venezuela's youth in the head?

"Today I was hit with a rock in the back, a helmet in my nose. I swallowed tear-gas, Carried the kid who died, and what did you do?" -  Robert Redman, February 12, 2014

Vigil for Victims of Violence in Venezuela since #12F

Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter analyzed what is taking place in Venezuela looking at it through a Cuban context. Below is a closer look at Venezuelans shot in the head since February 12, 2014. The Venezuelan opposition has rightfully focused its attention on the Castro regime's presence in Venezuela and their tactics of repression and control, but should also look at another ally of the Maduro regime, the Iranians who used terror to quell student protests in 2009 using snipers and motorized paramilitary units. 

Below is a partial list of people shot in the head during the protests in Venezuela since February 12, 2014:

Bassil Alejandro Dacosta
 Bassil Alejandro Dacosta was shot in the head in Caracas on February 12, 2014 from shots fired by a group of police men and his killing was captured from different angles on three different cameras. He was 24 years old.

Robert Redman, circled wearing a cap
Robert Redman, in the picture above carrying shooting victim, Bassil Alejandro Dacosta on February 12, 2014 was himself shot in the head and killed later that same day in Caracas but not before tweeting: "Today I was hit with a rock in the back, a helmet in my nose. I swallowed tear-gas, Carried the kid who died, and what did you do?" He was 31 years old.

 Génesis Carmona (on the right holding poster)
 Génesis Carmona was shot in the head in the city of Valencia in the state of Carabobo on February 18, 2014 and died a day later from her injuries. In the last picture taken of her before being shot she is holding up a poster with two other women that reads:  "God's time is perfect but if we don't go out into the streets, the time of Maduro will be ETERNAL." She was 22 years old.

Geraldine Moreno
Geraldine Moreno was shot in the head with buckshot on February 19, 2014 in Tazajal, located in Naguanagua, in the state of Carabobo while taking part in a protest and in one of her last tweets on February 17th explained what motivated her to take part in the demonstrations: "No one sends me I go because I want to defend my Venezuela." She died from her injuries on Saturday, February 22, 2014. She was 23 years old.
Anthony Rojas
In the evening hours of March 18, 2014 Anthony Rojas died of a gunshot wound to the face. He was a second semester student of mechanical engineering at the University of Tachira (UNET). He died in a presumed shootout near a shop in the Diamante sector of Táriba. It was learned that Rojas was in the commercial establishment buying drinks with other youth when motorized units passed by fired and into the place. He was eighteen years old.
Wilfredo Rey

 Bus driver Wilfredo Rey, 31, died on March 21, 2014 after being shot in the head during a confrontation between demonstrators and hooded gunmen in the western city of San Cristobal in Tachira. He was not involved in the protests. Married, father of three small children. He was 32 years old.

Adriana Urquiola
On March 23, 2014 Adriana Urquiola was shot twice, once in the head in Nuevos Teques. She was five months pregnant and worked as an interpreter on Venevisión News. She was 28 years old. She and her husband got off a bus due to a barricade and were going to catch a taxi when the shooting occurred.

Filippo Sevillano, president of the Student Center at the University of Margarita (Unimar), was shot in the head on the night of April 1, 2014 during a protest on Jóvito Villalba Avenue, in front of the Rattan Plaza commercial center.  He has been operated on and is currently hospitalized. He is 27 years old.

Out of the eight shot in the head, five were young people openly in opposition to the Maduro government and protesting when they were shot. Average age of the victims is 26 years old. The other three were not participating in the protests but were in the vicinity and happened to fit the profile: young and gainfully employed or a student. Is it just a coincidence? Who benefits from targeting young protesters and creating a climate of terror where people fear to go out and exercise their right to peaceful protest? Is it just a coincidence that an ally of the Maduro regime, Iran, used a similar tactic against student demonstrators in the Green Movement in 2009?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Venezuela: Amnesty denounces killings and torture calls for nonviolence

Venezuela: Political spiral of violence a threat to the rule of law

by Amnesty International 
So far 37 people have lost their lives and more than 550 have been injured in Venezuela since protest started in early February.© Carlos Becerra
Venezuela risks one of the worst threats to the rule of law in decades if the different political forces do not commit to fully respecting human rights, according to a new Amnesty International report on the current crisis in the country.

The report, Venezuela: Human Rights at risk amid protests, documents allegations of human rights violations and abuses committed in the context of the massive public demonstrations since early February.

“The country runs the risk of descending into a spiral of violence unless steps are taken to bring the conflicting parties around the table. This can only happen if both sides fully respect human rights and the rule of law. Unless this happens, the death toll will continue to rise with ordinary people bearing the brunt,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

So far 37 people have lost their lives and more than 550 have been injured including at least 120 through the use of firearms. According to figures released by the Office of the Attorney General on 27 March 2,157 have been detained during the protests. The vast majority has been released but continue to face charges.

According to allegations received by Amnesty International, the country’s security forces have resorted to the excessive use of force, including the use of live fire, and even torture when dealing with protesters.

The report also documents human rights abuses committed by pro-government groups, protesters and unidentified individuals.

“All allegations of human rights violations and abuses have to be promptly and thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice,” said Erika Guevara Rosas.

“The political crisis risks undermining any progress made in recent years in standing up for the rights of those most marginalized in the country.”

Amnesty International is calling on the Venezuelan government to commit to a Human Rights National Plan. This plan should be the result of a national dialogue and include all parties and civil society.

“The government and the opposition must commit to peaceful means of resolving the political crisis, instructing supporters that violence and confrontational rhetoric that could incite violence will not be tolerated. The international community, including neighbouring countries, must foster constructive dialogue in the country,” said Erika Guevara Rosas.

Background information
Examples of alleged human rights violations

Geraldine Moreno

On 19 February, Geraldine Moreno, a 23-year-old student, took part in a demonstration in the city of Valencia. A National Guard officer allegedly fired a rubber pellet shotgun cartridge into her face from a distance of only 30 cm. Geraldine died in hospital three days later.

Daniel Quintero, a 21-year-old student, was detained by officers of the National Guard after taking part in an anti-government demonstration in the city of Maracaibo on 21 February. He was repeatedly beaten and alleges that a National Guard commander threatened him with being burned alive.

For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations                (613)744-7667 #236
Report [in Spanish]   Venezuela: Human Rights at risk amid protests

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Flag that Represents the Castro Regime

The Castro Regime Flag

 This flag represents the Castro dictatorship. After 55 years in power this regime should have a flag that accurately represents its legacy and the impact it has had on Cuba domestically and in the world.

The three blue stripes, no longer represent the original three provinces. They now represent the bodies of water that surround Cuba, where there are estimates that it is a watery grave for as many as 100,000 Cubans who have died fleeing the dictatorship, the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic, and Caribbean. The red color is the innocent blood shed to keep the dictatorship in power. Flag designers debated whether or not headstones should be included in the blue for the watery graves.

The skull and cross bones have a triple meaning. The obvious is that it signifies death which has been a driving force of the Castro regime for the past 55 years but also a warning that this country has been occupied by a poisonous ideology and lastly the pirate nature of the regime looking for plunder in other lands (like Venezuela).

The black stripes signify the totalitarian pollution visited on Cubans by the dictatorship. Dividing families, forcing children to spy on their parents.

Finally the red triangle is a warning sign that combined with the skull also signifies that this is a dangerous area. Under the Castro regime cholera has become a persistent problem that the dictatorship under reports.

Castro Incorporated will most likely not adopt this flag but nevertheless it does represent their legacy. Please share it with others when discussing the dictatorship.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Huber Matos Benítez: Requiescat in pace

Huber Matos Benítez spoke truth to power 55 years ago and it cost him 22 years in prison. He emerged defiant and continued to fight on for another 35 years. He went on to write his memoirs and continued in the battle for a free Cuba until age 95. His final words were: "The struggle continues. Long Live Free Cuba!" Below is an interview conducted by Free Cuba Foundation members in 2009 about his courageous stand in 1959.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vigil for Victims of Castro and Maduro held at FIU on #24F

Silent Vigil for Justice on February 24, 2014 between 3:21pm and 3:27pm

 On February 24, 2014 starting at 3:21pm and ending promptly at 3:27pm there was a moment of silence for the 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shootdown that claimed the lives of Armando, Carlos, Mario and Pablo. This year we once again recognized and honored prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo who died on hunger strike on February 23, 2010.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights published the most complete report on the February 24, 1996 shoot down and is available online.

Tragically, over the past two weeks at least 12 Venezuelan students have been murdered by agents of the Maduro regime in Caracas which is a puppet of the Castro regime in Havana. Therefore today we also prayed for them all and specifically for Bassil, Roberto, José Ernesto, and Génesis. We recognized their sacrifice and prayed for justice.

Following the vigil Miriam de la Peña whose own son, (Mario de la Peña) was murdered by the Castro regime spoke about the violence taking place against the students in Venezuela.

Below is a copy of the flier we distributed on campus:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

#24F Silent Vigil for Justice at FIU

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

"Violence is the tool of he who does not have reason."- Leopoldo Lopez , youtube video released after his arrest on February 19, 2014

On February 24, 2014 at beginning at 3:21pm and ending at 3:27pm we will be holding a silent vigil to demand justice for the four victims of the 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shoot down that took place 18 years ago today, and for the students murdered by agents of the Maduro puppet regime in Venezuela over the past two weeks, and finally in remembrance of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the Cuban hunger striker who died on February 23, 2010 after years of torture. This vigil will be held were it has been for the past 18 years at the main fountain at Florida International University at the campus located on 107th Ave. and SW 8 St. This is an open invitation for FIU students and members of the university community.  

Orlando Zapata Tamayo: Four years later

"I come on behalf of the 75, I come in the name of Freedom ... Long live the internal opposition. Long live the Ladies in White"... On the anniversary of our murdered brothers, our brothers sunk on July 13, 1994, our brothers of February 24th ... and on behalf of all of Cuba and the exile, long live the homeland of Varela, of Marti, of George Washington, of Barack Obama, democratic and free forever. Long live a Free Cuba. Down with Fidel Castro. " - Orlando Zapata Tamayo, 2009 from a Cuban prison

Orlando Zapata Tamayo (1967 - 2010)
Orlando Zapata Tamayo was born on May 15, 1967 and died a victim of the Castro regime on February 23, 2010. He was an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience and as a human rights defender collected signatures for the Varela Project collaborating with Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and the Christian Liberation Movement. Orlando Zapata also collaborated closely with Oscar Elias Biscet and took part in teach-ins on human rights in what were called "human rights circles".  It is important to mention this because the Cuban dictatorship has engaged in a slander campaign against this man.

Oswaldo Payá pays homage to Orlando Zapata in 2010
 Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas had campaigned to save the life of Orlando Zapata and spoke out on his behalf in a Spanish television program in January of 2010, a month prior to his death. Tragically, two and a half years after Orlando Zapata Tamayo's death, on July 22, 2012 Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero were killed under suspicious circumstances that implicate State Security.

*Original text in Spanish: "Vengo en nombre de los 75, Vengo en nombre de la Libertad ...  Viva la oposición interna. Vivan las Damas de Blanco". ...En el aniversario de nuestros hermanos asesinado, nuestros hermanos hundido el 13 de julio del 1994, nuestro hermanos del 24 de febrero ... y en nombre de todos y del exilio de Cuba, viva la patria de Varela, de Martí, de George Washington, de Barack Obama, libre y democrática para siempre. Viva Cuba Libre. Abajo Fidel Castro".