Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Founding member of Free Cuba Foundation signatory to San Juan Declaration

One of the founders of the Free Cuba Foundation, Augusto Monge attended the first Cuban National Gathering and was one of the signers of the Declaration of San Juan. Below is an English translation of the document originally drafted in Spanish.



DECLARATION OF SAN JUAN

Between the 13th and 15th of August 2015, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the first Cuban National Gathering was in session. 23 organizations participated of the archipelago and 32 from exile, duly represented by more than one hundred of its leaders. The event was organized by Cubans United of Puerto Rico.

We were animated by the purpose of seeking ways to reconcile the work of the pro-democratic forces with the commitment to restore sovereignty to Cuban citizens and all their fundamental rights. To this end, we affirm that to achieve the full freedom of the Cuban people and a genuine rule of law, none of the following principles are negotiable:
  • The unconditional release of all political prisoners and repeal of all laws that violate fundamental freedoms; 
  • Freedom of expression, of the press, of association, of assembly, of peaceful protest, of profession and religion; and 
  • The participation of the people in any decision of the nation, the legalization of all political parties and free and multiparty elections.

The Cuban National Gathering also agreed:
  1. Working in the campaign for a binding plebiscite in favor of free, fair and pluralistic elections under democratic conditions that guarantee the sovereignty of citizens. 
  2. To support and sign the Agreement for Democracy in Cuba, of 1998. 
  3. To promote the strategy of non-violent struggle, facilitating the training of pro-democracy activists in the methodologies of civil disobedience. 
  4. Work to demolish the cybernetic fire wall in Cuba and strive so that the internal opposition has the technological resources to continue citizen mobilization. 
Several works focused on the material and spiritual progress of the New Cuba work were presented, which will be defined in a second Cuban National Gathering.

A Coordinating Liaison Committee was established for a period of six months, whose main task will be to follow up the agreed points here and communicate them to all organizations, in the spirit of uniting the internal and external opposition.

For us today the phrase of Marti that we intend to observe is more relevant than ever: "Joining together is the watchword." 

San Juan, Puerto Rico, August 15, 2015

Signed on behalf of their organizations:
  • Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina: Alianza Democrática Oriental
  • Wilfredo Vallin: Asociación de Abogados Independientes
  • Roberto Pizano: Asociación de Expresos Políticos Cubanos de Tampa
  • Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo: Center for a Free Cuba
  • Laritza Diversent: Centro Cubalex
  • Pedro M. Peñaranda: Círculos Democráticos Municipalistas de Cuba
  • Damarys Moya Portieles: Coalición Central Opositora
  • Elizardo Sánchez Santa-Cruz: Comisión de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional
  • Josefa López: Comité Apoyo a las Damas de Blanco Laura Pollán
  • Ricardo Roque: Comité Cubano Pro Derechos Humanos
  • Luis Israel Abreu Villarreal: Comité de Ayuda a los Activistas por los Derechos Humanos
  • Juan Carlos González Leiva: Consejo de Relatores de Derechos Humanos
  • Diego Suárez: Consejo para la Libertad de Cuba
  • Pedro J. Fuentes Cid: Consejo Presidio Político Cubano
  • René Gómez Manzano: Corriente Agramontista de Abogados Independientes
  • Luis Fernández Moreno: Cuba Corps
  • Diddier Santos: Cuba Decide
  • Rogelio Matos Araluce: Cuba Independiente y Democrática
  • Andrés Candelario: Cubanos Unidos de Puerto Rico
  • Marta Menor: Cultivo una Rosa Blanca
  • Leticia Ramos Herrería: Damas de Blanco
  • Germán Miret: Directorio Democrático Cubano
  • Magdelivia Hidalgo: Federación Lationamericana de Mujeres Rurales
  • Eugenio Llamera: Federación Mundial de Expresos Políticos Cubanos
  • Roberto D. Ruiz Casas: Foro Promoción Continental Democrática
  • Augusto Monge: Free Cuba Foundation
  • Guillermo Fariñas: Frente Antitotalitario Unido
  • Yris Perez Aguilera: Frente de Resistencia Orlando Zapata
  • Francisco Hernández: Fundación Nacional Cubanoamericana
  • Faisel Iglesias: Fundación Nuevo Pensamiento Cubano
  • Omar Vento: Fundación para la Democracia Panamericana
  • Mariana Hernández: Fundación para los Derechos Humanos en Cuba
  • Pastor Herrera: Global Community Action
  • Raúl Luis Risco Pérez: Instituto Cubano por la Libertad de Expresión y Prensa
  • Ana Carbonell: Instituto de la Rosa Blanca
  • Mario Félix Lleonard: Instituto PATMOS
  • Sylvia Iriondo: M.A.R. por Cuba
  • Rolando Infante: Movimiento 30 de noviembre
  • Magaly Broche: Movimiento Cubano Reflexión
  • Ramón Saúl Sánchez: Movimiento Democracia
  • René Hernández Bequet: Partido Demócrata Cristiano de Cuba
  • Saylí Navarro Alvarez: Partido por la Democracia Pedro Luis Boitel
  • Adel Ramón López Napoles: Partido Republicano de Cuba
  • Vladimiro Roca: Partido Social Demócrata Cubano
  • Fernando Palacio Molgar: Partido Solidaridad Liberal Cubano
  • Rafael León Rodríguez: Proyecto Demócrata Cubano
  • Eliecer Ávila Cecilia: Somos Mas
  • Angel Alfonso Alemán: Unión de Expresos Políticos Cubanos Zona Noreste
  • María C. Werlau: Unión Liberal Cubana
  • Ernesto García Díaz: Unión Social Comunitaria Cubana
Conference participants signing as individuals
  • Guillermo Toledo Casasús (Moderador) Coordinador del Encuentro Nacional Cubano
  • Edgardo Ronda (Observador) Asociación Iberoamericana por la Libertad
  • Vanesa Colmegna (Observadora)  Asociación Iberoamericana por la Libertad
  • Alexis Jardines
  • Alicia Hernández Cabeza
  • Ana María Socarrás
  • Andres Barbeito
  • Andrés Pichs
  • Ariel Gutiérrez
  • Arturo Sánchez Antón
  • Asunción Carrillo Hernández
  • Camilo Ernesto Olivera Peidro
  • Caridad María Burunate
  • Catalina Mayoral
  • Conrado Ferrer
  • Domitila Valls
  • Emilio Guede
  • Federico Delgado
  • Francisco Talavera
  • Gerardo Morera del Campo
  • Guillermo González Alcázar
  • Isis Longo
  • Jerónimo Esteve Abril
  • Jorge Bringuier
  • José Conrado Rodríguez Alegre
  • José García Pino
  • José Vilasuso
  • Lianelis Villares Plasencia
  • Luis Alberto Martínez
  • Maitá Carbonell Acosta
  • Manuel Acosta
  • Manuel Fernández
  • Marcelino Miyares
  • Mari-Vahn de Vicens
  • María Isabel García de Toledo
  • Marisela Rodriguez
  • Michael Acevedo Reinoso
  • Nieves Gonzalez Abreu
  • Osvaldo Bencomo
  • Patricia Toledo García
  • Raoul Vicens
  • Rosa María Payá
  • Rosalina Colón Gómez
  • Sergio Ramos Suárez
  • Severiano López Sicre
  • Vaclav Maly
  • Vicente Echerri
  • Vilma del Prado
  • Wenceslao Fernández
  • Xiomara Ledón


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Free Cubans Protest Failed Obama-Kerry Cuba Policy

Standing up for freedom
The Free Cuba Foundation protested the Obama administration’s failed Cuba policy on Friday, August 14, 2015 starting at 6:00pm on the sidewalk in front of La Carreta Restaurant located on 8650 Bird Rd along with members of the South Florida community.


We conducted a burma shave style protest using a series of signs to get our message across along with the images of some of the Cuban and Venezuelan victims killed by the Castro regime on Obama's watch. The above animated GIF recreates it. The protest ended with a silent prayer vigil for victims of Castroism and for a free Cuba that was followed by members of the community singing the Cuban national anthem.

The Free Cuba Foundation is a student movement founded at Florida International University in 1993 that since 2009 has been a member of the Assembly of the Resistance, a coalition of more than 50 organizations inside and outside of Cuba.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Stand up and be counted: Protest failed Cuba policy

Stand up for human rights and a free Cuba.
 Free Cubans Will Protest Failed Obama-Kerry Cuba Policy

The Free Cuba Foundation will protest the Obama administration’s failed Cuba policy on Friday, August 14, 2015 at 6:00pm on the sidewalk in front of La Carreta Restaurant located on 8650 Bird Rd and invites the South Florida community to join us.

We will be conducting a burma shave style protest using a series of signs to get out our message. Protest will end with a silent prayer vigil for victims of Castroism and for a free Cuba.

The Free Cuba Foundation is a student movement founded at Florida International University in 1993 that since 2009 has been a member of the Assembly of the Resistance, a coalition of more than 50 organizations inside and outside of Cuba.

When: August 14, 2015 at 6:00pm
Where: Sidewalk in from of La Carreta Restaurant (8650 SW 40th Street Miami, FL)
Why: To protest failed Obama-Kerry Cuba policy 

Monday, August 10, 2015

The high price paid by the Obama administration to re-launch the U.S. embassy in Cuba

A shameful legacy

Despite what the Obama Administration and mainstream media would have you believe the United States and the Castro regime have had extensive diplomatic contacts since 1977, military contacts since 1994, and trade since 2000. This is why when Obama pledged on December 17, 2014 the objective of normalizing diplomatic relations the Castro regime was able to raise numerous demands that the United States has complied with that undermine U.S. security and credibility. Below are the top three:
Secretary of State John Kerry will be in Havana, Cuba to raise the flag at the US Embassy on Friday, August 14, 2015 and that would be the perfect day to remind the world the price paid in compromising not only the national security of the United States freeing terrorist spies and letting ones guard down as to the terrorist threat posed by the dictatorship but also undermining the credibility of the State Department's report on human trafficking and respect for human rights. Above and below are images that we encourage you to click on and share with others on social media or print them out to use in public protests to hold the administration accountable.




Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Free Gorki: State Security arrests Cuban musician on 21st anniversary of Cuban uprising

"They violate all your rights one after another: the right to march peacefully, to freedom of expression, right to travel, arbitrary arrest. It is incredible all that they do in just one arrest." -
Gorki Aguila, following his release on August 5, 2015



Today marks 21 years since the August 5, 1994 uprising in Cuba that became known as "El Maleconazo." At around 12 noon today, August 5, 2015, Cuban punk rock musician Gorki Aguila was taken from his home by the police. Gorki has spent time in prison in Cuba for his songs dissenting with the dictatorship and been threatened with another political show trial on more than one occasion. He has also stood in solidarity with imprisoned Cuban artists such as El Sexto and with Cuba's Ladies in White.


Three years ago he wrote a song in memory of the August 5th freedom uprising that is embedded above. Cuba is a totalitarian police state without an independent judiciary. The best way to help Gorki is to make his plight known as quickly as possible. Back in early 2014 when facing another miscarriage of justice he spoke out and with international solidarity was able to remain in freedom. Reproduced below is his call for solidarity. in February of 2014 that remains relevant now:
Hello, my name is Gorki Águila I’m the leader of the band Porno para Ricardo, I’m an artist and I’m a musician. And I’m here to denounce this new crime that the government of the Castros would like to do to me.

I’m an opponent to this unjust regime. Now the new thing that they want to do with me is a summary trial. Something that is a tremendous injustice. I don’t know if you know this but summary trials have always been held in totalitarian governments. They are characterized, among other things, by not giving access to the defense to the case files of the prosecution. 

This means that the defense will not be able to prepare itself correctly and that they will be able to do with you whatever they want.

This is why I am appealing to solidarity from all of you so that you will help us once more with this new crime by the Cuban government, before this new injustice, to unite and make this visible in the media. 

To denounce it and to use it to support also other persons, who like me, are engaged in resistance to this regime.

I’m very grateful for the support. And I’m an optimistic guy and I believe that we will succeed if we join together before this situation.
Update: The good news is that Gorki was freed around 4:00pm and that international press picked up the story of his detention the same day. The bad news is that he has been threatened by Cuban officials that if he continues to support the Ladies in White on Sundays and attend opposition meetings at Gandhi Park he will no longer be allowed to travel outside of Cuba.



Monday, August 3, 2015

FIU students organized protest against Hillary Clinton and in support of keeping sanctions on Castro regime

Cubans have a right to their rights!
FIU students organized protest against Hillary Clinton on July 31, 2015
 On Friday, August 31, 2015 facing the Wertheim Performing Arts Center (WPAC) at Florida International University students, alumni and members of the community protested Candidate Hillary Clinton's and the Obama Administration's Cuba policy with a nonviolent protest. Efforts were made by the University authorities to corral us in a remote location in order that we not be seen or heard, but they failed.


Young voices spoke out for a human rights first policy in Cuba and the maintenance of sanctions. It will be interesting to see what the electoral results will be for Hillary Clinton, and other candidates who call for engaging in commerce with the dictatorship in Cuba.

Meanwhile will have to see how the entertainer Pitbull who has engaged in doublespeak on when and how he will play in Cuba while apparently calling for the lifting of the embargo on a bottle of vodka, he is trying to market, will be received.

Inside of Cuba, the musical group Aldeanos produced a track blasting Saavedra of Vigilia Mambisa who held a protest in which he "symbolically" destroyed Pitbull CDs in Little Havana and posted it on youtube it has over 113,000 hits as of today.

This just serves to underscore as we have said all along that attacking artists or destroying music symbolically or otherwise is in contradiction with the full embrace of human rights. However, specifically criticizing what we are in disagreement with using nonviolent means (such as a boycott) is a morally consistent exercise.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hillary, Pitbull and the Embargo on the Dictatorship in Cuba

 The Question: Will Cuban exiles boycott Pitbull and punish Hillary Clinton at the voting booth?

Free Cuba Foundation (FCF) has a long tradition of defending human rights generally and taking the controversial stand that many may find unpopular while exercising our freedom of expression. Six years ago we defended Colombian musician Juanes's freedom of expression, denounced death threats against him while at the same time criticizing aspects of the concert he put on in Cuba.

FCF has also been out front in denouncing the concessions made by the Obama administration to the Castro regime in order to upgrade diplomatic relations from the previously existing interests sections to the current embassies.

While recognizing that people of good will can differ on the issue of economic sanctions on Cuba the Free Cuba Foundation finds problematic the manner in which Cuban American musician Pitbull has apparently called "to end the embargo on Cuba" on a bottle of vodka. The musician's apparent support of President Obama's Cuba policy is not a surprise because he campaigned for him in 2012. However tying the embargo to his vodka venture is surprising and could lead to a Boycott Pitbull effort taking off in social media.

Alcoholism in Cuba is a terrible problem in the populace and one of the tools that the dictatorship uses to maintain power. James Kirchnik, a fellow with the Foreign Policy Initiative and a correspondent for the Daily Beast, in the May 14, 2015 issue of National Review wrote about his experience traveling to Cuba and met with Lady in White leader Berta Soler who addressed the role of alcohol:
"'The government sells a lot of alcohol to occupy the minds of the people,' Soler tells me, an observation that makes a lot of sense once you’ve spent a few days in Cuba. Alcohol is plentiful and cheap. In the poor provincial city of Pinar del Rio, about a two-hour drive west of Havana, I saw a boy no older than 13 walking the streets with a half-empty bottle of beer. A discotheque there was, on a Saturday night, full of people ranging in age from mid teens to 40s; a bottle of Havana Club sets you back $6. Subsidizing the production of cheap alcohol so as to keep the population inebriated (and therefore distracted) is one of many tools that the Cuban regime learned from its erstwhile Soviet benefactor."
This reality combined with the commercial calculation and self promotion is disappointing. However the timing, coming so close to what is expected to be Hillary Clinton's July 31, 2015 attack on sanctions on the Castro regime, presents an opportunity to express dissatisfaction in former Secretary of State's jokes about the Cuban American community and Little Havana that appeared in an email exchange from 2009 now made public in 2015.

Candidates for public office in 2014 such as Charlie Christ who openly campaigned against the embargo and initially said he would visit Cuba, but then backed out of it lost in the governor's race in and Joe Garcia who had a double discourse on the matter did not get re-elected.

Just because Cuban Americans and Cuban exiles are not going to Versailles in large numbers to break Pitbull records doesn't mean that many are not upset and will boycott the artist in the future. For example, FCF has always rejected attacking artists or destroying music and will continue to do so. This is not an abandonment of principle but its full embrace as human rights defenders.

This does not mean that we cannot be critical.  FCF members joined together with hundreds of Cuban exiles in demonstrating their opposition to Obama's Cuba policy in December, January and June. This community has shown that we believe in freedom of speech, the right to dissent and now has a history of embracing nonviolent tactics, such as protests, boycotts, and the voting booth to respond in what we perceive as the best way to support the aspirations of the Cuban people to be free.

Continuing that tradition we hope to see you this Friday at 9:30am at Florida International University's Wertheim Performing Arts Center (WPAC) to greet Candidate Clinton who will be making her speech there at 11:00am with a nonviolent protest.