Saturday, January 30, 2016

Free Cuba Foundation: 20 years of denouncing the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down

Armando, Carlos, Mario y Pablo Viven! 


What happened: An act of state terrorism by the Castro regime that killed four persons
Wednesday, February 24, 2016 will mark 20 years since Fidel and Raul Castro ordered Cuban MiGs to hunt and shoot down two Brothers to the Rescue planes that at the time were in international airspace killing Armando Alejandre Jr. (45 years old), Carlos Alberto Costa (29), Mario Manuel de la Peña (24), and Pablo Morales (29). A thorough international investigation carried out by the Inter-American Commission on the merits made public in 1999 concluded:
"Cuba is responsible for violating the right to life (Article I of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man) to the detriment of Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, Mario De La Peña, and Armando Alejandre, who died as a result of the direct actions of its agents on the afternoon of 24 February 1996 while flying through international airspace."
Furthermore with the issue of justice for the four victims and their families the IACHR report stated:

"Cuba is responsible for violating the right to a fair trial (Article XVIII of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man) to the detriment of the relatives of Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, Mario De La Peña, and Armando Alejandre, in that to date the Cuban authorities have not conducted an exhaustive investigation with a view toward prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators and have not indemnified those same relatives for the damage they suffered as a result of those illicit acts."
How we've remembered and continue to demand justice
Beginning in the days following the February 24, 1996 shoot down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes the Free Cuba Foundation organized silent vigils for justice at Florida International University and the University of Miami and took part in a flotilla to remember and pay our respects to Mario De La Peña, Armando Alejandre, an FIU alumnus, Carlos Costa and Pablo Morales. Over the next two decades at the end of February at Florida International University students and family members of the four martyred men would gather in silence between 3:21pm the time the first plane was shot down and 3:27pm the time the second plane was shot down in a vigil for justice. Below is a partial recollection of the past two decades. Join us on February 24, 2016 as we mark 20 years demanding justice and remembering a terrible crime. We are still updating this blog entry and welcome your input and recollections.


Free Cuba Foundation denounces planned shutdown of Miami International Airport and participates in the flotilla days later on March 2, 1996 to honor the four pilots who perished on February 24, 1996. The FIU Beacon gave extensive coverage in March of 1996 on Free Cuba Foundation's participation in the Flotilla for Brothers to the Rescue and activism on campus.


On February 24, 1997 at 3:20 pm the Free Cuba Foundation led the call for a prayer chain to honor the memory of the four young men who died one year earlier trying to save the lives of others.

Free Cuba Foundation participates in the planting of a tree at Florida International University to honor the memory of the 4 martyrs of Feb. 24, 1996. Jose Basulto and members of the family participated along with the University Community.

 On February 24, 1998 at 3:20 pm the FCF formed a chain of silence, and left white roses under the tree planted in their memory to honor the the 4 young men who died two years earlier trying to save the lives of others. Armando, Carlos, Mario y Pablo Viven!


On February 24, 1999 at 3:21 pm the FCF joined with the families of Armando, Carlos, Mario and Pablo and formed a seven minute chain of silence coinciding with the span of time in which both planes were shot down. Afterwards family members left white roses under the tree planted in their memory to honor the the 4 young men who died three years earlier trying to save the lives of others. Armando, Carlos, Mario y Pablo Viven!


In the early morning hours of February 24, 2000 students from American University, Catholic University, and Georgetown University signed the Washington Consortium Declaration announcing the formation of the Free Cuba Foundation - Washington Consortium.On February 24 at 3:21 pm the

FCF formed two chains of silence, one at FIU's main fountain and another in Washington DC in front of the Department of Justice. Afterwards FCF (FIU) members left white roses under the tree planted in memory of the 4 young men who died four years earlier trying to save the lives of others. FCF (DC) delivered a formal communication to Attorney General Reno demanding justice. Meanwhile members of FCF(DC) marched in a picket line for the next few hours demanding justice. Armando, Carlos, Mario y Pablo Viven!

Washington Consortium Declaration

We the Students of the Washington Consortium recognizing that students have played a leading role in the protection of human rights around the world, 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.

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. Four years after the massacre of February 24. We the students wish to join with our brothers and sisters inside of Cuba for the liberation of the Cuban nation.

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 prisoners of conscience, and issue a call to educate students about the history and reality of the ongoing tragedy in Cuba. Therefore, we form the Free Cuba Foundation in the Washington Consortium.

Signed on February 24, 2000

Sandy Acosta
American University
Mario Morlote
Georgetown
Camila Ruiz
Catholic University


February 24, 2000

Attorney General Janet Reno
Office of the Attorney General
Department of Justice
Tenth Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W.,
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Madam Attorney General Reno,

I just spoke with the mother of Mario Manuel de la Peña, 24 years of age when he was murdered by agents of the Cuban government. She spoke on behalf of the other families when she stated, "We want justice. We want them [those responsible] indicted."

We are here today engaging in a moment of silence coinciding with the time 3:21pm - 3:27pm in which the planes carrying all four were blown out of the sky by Cuban MiGs.
On behalf of the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and daughters of Mario, Pablo, Carlos, and Armando I beg you that you provide them with a little justice for a devastating loss.
Sincerely,

John Suarez
Coordinator
Free Cuba Foundation
Graham Center 340
Florida International University
Miami, FL 33199

Sandy Acosta
Co-Chairperson
Free Cuba Foundation
Washington Consortium
2907 "Q" St., NW
Washington DC. 20007



February 24, 1996 Shoot-down recalled / The Miami Herald
Shoot-down recalled

Mahatma Gandhi observed: "To forgive is not to forget. The merit lies
in loving in spite of the vivid knowledge that the one that must be
loved is not a friend. There is no merit in loving an enemy when you
forget him for a friend."

For a decade the Free Cuba Foundation has organized silent vigils on
the anniversaries of the 13 de Marzo tugboat sinking that resulted in
the deaths of 37 men, women and children on July 13, 1994, and the
shoot-down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes on Feb. 24, 1996, which
resulted in the murders of Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, Mario De La
Peña and Armando Alejandre, a Florida International University alum.
Our objective is to show that FIU students remember these crimes and
continue to demand justice.

On Feb. 24 at 3:20 p.m. we will hold a seven-minute silent vigil at
FIU's main fountain facing the Charles Perry building. This coincides
with the time that the planes were shot down by Cuban MiGs in
international airspace. Family members of the victims will join the
observance.

NERI MARTINEZ
coordinator,
Free Cuba Foundation
Florida International University
Miami
http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/editorial/letters/10941580.htm?1c


 Current Issue: Monday, February 28, 2005
In memory

Media Credit: Luis Nin and Jessica Marshall/The Beacon

(Top and bottom, center) President Modesto A. Maidique holds hands with
family members and FIU students and staff during a Brothers to the
Rescue silent vigil held on Feb. 24. The memorial was held to honor the
death of the four Brothers to the Rescue members who lost their lives
during a humanitarian effort in international waters near Cuba. "We
hold this moment of silence every year on this day," said Neri
Martinez, the Free Cuba Foundation coordinator and vigil planner.
Following the commemorative memorial, family members announced that
with the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, two rewards
of$100,000 and $50,000 will be given to anyone with information leading
to the capture and arrest of known suspects involved in the 1996
shooting.

http://www.beaconnewspaper.com/media/paper540/news/2005/02/28/News/In.Memory-879846.shtml?norewrite&sourcedomain=www.beaconnewspaper.com



Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Today, February 24, 2004 between 3:20-3:27pm members of the Free Cuba
Foundation led by Neri Martinez along with other FIU students, family
members of the martyrs, and members of the FIU community held a silent vigil at
Florida International University with hands linked in a circular human
chain around the main water fountain. The vigil was seven minutes long
coinciding with the time that both planes were shotdown by Cuban MiGs
in international airspace.

We have an on-line website at http://www.fiu.edu/~fcf/brothers.html
that offers information on the Brothers to Rescue organization, and
places the shootdown into context.

Members of the press asked if students at FIU still remembered this
tragedy. By our actions today we have answered their question. We
shall not forget until justice is done for the families of the
victims.

Free Cuba Foundation
Graham Center 340
Florida International University
Miami, FL. 33199



Supporters and family members of the Brothers to the Rescue pilots shot down 13 years ago gathered on February 24, 2009 around UP’s Graham Center fountain to commemorate the anniversary of their death.

In 2009 UM Causa held a vigil on February 24 at the Rock at the University while we were at FIU holding the traditional vigil at the main fountain at FIU.


On February 25, 2010 El Nuevo Herald reported on the previous days silent vigil at FIU:
Around seventy persons carried out a silent vigil at the Modesto Maidique campus of Florida International University, to commemorate the fourteenth anniversary of the downing of two civilian airplanes of the organization Brothers to the Rescue by the Air Force of Cuba on February 24, 1996, where four persons died.

The vigil, organized by the Free Cuba Foundation of FIU and families of the victims of the shoot down, lasted exactly seven minutes, from 3:21pm to 3:27 p.m., the time that both planes piloted by  Carlos Costa and Mario Manuel de la Peña, respectively where downed, in 1996. Armando Alejandre Jr. and Pablo Morales also died. 
"We are infintely grateful to the students of FIU, because those of us who are older will pass on, but they show us that the youth continue to remember our departed relatives," said Mirta Costa Méndez, sister of Carlos Costa.
The vigil, held since 1996, has as an objective to demonstrate in a civic nonviolent act that the students of FIU continue to remember the victims of Brothers to the Rescue and the political prisoners of Cuba.

Read more here: http://www.elnuevoherald.com/noticias/sur-de-la-florida/article2003342.html#storylink=cpy


Blogs have documented silent vigils at FIU for the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

 Over the past two decades we have sought through a civic nonviolent action to remember what happened on February 24, 1996 and continue to demand justice for Armando Alejandre Jr., Carlos Alberto Costa, Mario Manuel de la Peña, and Pablo Morales. Wherever you are in the world please join us in spirit and action by holding a silent vigil for justice between 3:21pm and 3:27pm the time both planes were shot down by the dictatorship in Cuba.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Vigil for Brothers to the Rescue Shoot Down Victims

Justice for Armando, Mario, Carlos and Pablo!
 

Every year since the week following the 1996 shoot-down, FCF members have joined together to hold a silent vigil at Florida International University on February 24th between 3:21pm and 3:27pm at the times both planes were blown up by Castro's MiGs in remembrance of Armando, Carlos, Mario, and Pablo who gave their lives in service to others in a continuing demand for justice. This tradition has been maintained for the past 19 years and this year on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 at 3:21pm we will gather with the families of the four martyrs to mark 20 years.
What:   Vigil for BTTR shoot down victims 
When:  Gather @ 3pm Vigil starts 3:21pm on Wednesday, February 24
Where: Main Fountain
             Florida International University 
             11200 South West 8th Street Miami, FL
Twenty years ago on February 24, 1996 at 3:21pm and at 3:27pm two Brothers to the Rescue planes were shot down by Cuban MiGs that launched air to air missiles in international airspace extra-judicially executing Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, Mario De La Peña, and Armando Alejandre Jr in an act of state terrorism. Video playlist below offers information on the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Young Activists Reply to Open Letter by Cuban-American Businessmen

"To forgive is not to forget. The merit lies in loving in spite of the vivid knowledge that the one that must be loved is not a friend. There is no merit in loving an enemy when you forget him for a friend." - Mohandas Gandhi 
Cuban American businessmen invited to Embassy while Cuban barred from delivering letter
On December 20, 2015 The Miami Herald published an open letter by ten prominent Cuban-American businessmen as a full page advertisement. We read the letter with great concern. We are young enough to be their children and grandchildren. Some of us were born in Cuba while others in the diaspora. We do not question their good intentions or believe that they have a hidden agenda and like them we would like to see the reunification of our larger Cuban family. We also agree that we and the world have changed.

The Cuban diaspora has matured and a debate that decades ago would have ended in acrimony and threats, although still passionate today, can be conducted within the norms of democratic discourse. Although this is a change that bodes well for Cuba's future, the world has also changed in ways that are not for the better. Human rights and democracy have been in retreat for the better part of a decade emboldening dictators and terrorists to challenge the international order turning it into something cruel and indifferent to human aspirations for freedom and dignity. We are witnessing today in Venezuela the attempt by the Maduro regime to undermine the results of a democratic election while at the same time rejecting calls for an amnesty to free Venezuelan prisoners of conscience. This change poses a challenge for a democratic Cuba in the future.

This new reality is in large part due to unprincipled engagement with Communist China by Western Countries, including the United States. Corporations shifted manufacturing away from their free markets, labor unions, and environmental protections toward Communist China were workers are paid slave wages, work in terrible conditions and where environmental regulations are non-existent. The world today is dirtier, less free, and human dignity has been debased to the point that organ trafficking is a common practice and the bodies of dissidents are put on display for the amusement and curiosity of paying visitors around the world.

Some of the men who signed this open letter took part in this process in China. We are not, however here to criticize them but to provide context to what they wish to do in Cuba and the reasons why they continue down this path with the belief that they are operating in good faith.



We are joining this public conversation because we believe that we can provide a constructive contribution to the discussion. This necessitates recalling the wise words of the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), who observed: "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts." The authors of "An Open Letter to our fellow Cuban-Americans" assert that they visited Cuba "to confront the myths that can only persist in the absence of first-hand knowledge" and challenge "those who continue to hear news about Cuba second-hand, we do not believe that you are being well served without seeing the changing Cuban reality on the island with your own eyes, as we have with ours."

Unfortunately, visiting a totalitarian dictatorship to obtain "first-hand knowledge" has historically been a fool’s errand. Before they had set foot aboard the plane for Havana they should have first read, Paul Hollander's Political Pilgrims: Western Intellectuals in Search of the Good Society. This sociology text analyzes how totalitarian regimes, such as the one in Cuba, are able to disguise the horrors taking place in their systems presenting it in a positive light to visitors:
The techniques of hospitality comprise an entire range of measures designed to influence the perception and judgement of the guests; it is a form of attempted persuasion by "evidence," the evidence of the senses. As such, these techniques represent a concentrated effort to maximize control over the experiences of the visitors. Naturally the more centralized and powerful the host governments and the greater their control over the resources of their countries and their citizens, the more successful they are in controlling the experiences of the visitor. Insofar as each one of the four countries [ USSR, China, Cuba, Vietnam] at the times of the visits could be regarded as totalitarian, the possibilities for shaping the visitor's impressions and experiences were greatly enhanced. [ pg. 347 - 348 Hollander Political Pilgrims]
This practice is not limited to left wing totalitarians but was also effectively carried out by the Nazi Third Reich in presenting a false impression to a visiting International Red Cross delegation. As reported by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
"Succumbing to pressure following the deportation of Danish Jews to Theresienstadt, the Germans permitted representatives from the Danish Red Cross and the International Red Cross to visit in June 1944. It was all an elaborate hoax. The Germans intensified deportations from the ghetto shortly before the visit, and the ghetto itself was "beautified." Gardens were planted, houses painted, and barracks renovated. The Nazis staged social and cultural events for the visiting dignitaries. Once the visit was over, the Germans resumed deportations from Theresienstadt, which did not end until October 1944."
The call for tourism to obtain first-hand knowledge in a totalitarian regime also fails to address the real dangers of traveling to Cuba, including the brutal murder of a 39-year-old Tampa attorney in January of 2015 in Havana.

It is also important to remember that the Castro regime (it is not a proper government but a dictatorship) rolled out the red carpet for these 10 Cuban-American businessmen some of whom were invited to the opening of the Cuban embassy in Washington, DC on July 20, 2015. That same embassy, within 24 hours of inviting them in, refused to allow Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo to enter to deliver a letter from her family requesting the autopsy report for her father Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, who was killed on July 22, 2012 along with Harold Cepero under circumstances that point to an extrajudicial execution. The family is entitled to this report by Cuban law but three years later have yet to receive it.

As advocates for a free and democratic Cuba, in good conscience, we cannot say that progress has been made on both sides of the Florida Straits. On the contrary the past 12 months have seen new lows reached on both sides that had not been seen in decades. In Cuba there have been rising levels of violence against activists and 8,616 politically motivated arbitrary detentions in 2015. The Obama State Department snubbed Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo in stark contrast to the treatment given to her father in 2002 who had a face to face meeting with then Secretary of State Colin Powell. In Cuba the US embassy did not invite dissidents to the flag raising ceremony. Now there is a new policy which has placed accreditation, previously handled in the U.S. Interests Section, in the hands of the Castro regime's Ministry of Foreign Relations which in practice means that independent journalists are no longer covering events at the U.S. embassy in Havana and dissidents have had their access dramatically restricted.

The December 17, 2014 announcement by the President broke new ground in only one area releasing Gerardo Hernandez, a Cuban spy and terrorist, convicted of murder conspiracy of three U.S. citizens and a resident. Not only did President Obama commute the sentence but a few days later tried to rewrite history calling an act of international terrorism, the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down, a tragedy.

Removing Cuba from the list of terror sponsors on May 29, 2015 while ignoring the Castro regime smuggling heavy weapons to North Korea (which is again in the news with a company in Singapore found guilty of transferring funds) and weapon shipments through Colombia and its links to international drug trafficking to satisfy the dictatorship’s demand in order normalize relations sends a dangerous signal. Politicizing the State Department’s human trafficking report to ignore sex trafficking in Cuba and the dictatorship sending Cuban workers overseas for profit compromised its integrity placing victims at risk. These unilateral concessions ignore realities on the ground and undermine the credibility of the United States and endanger lives.

The Obama administration "new policy" of unilateral concessions which began in 2009 has produced a bitter harvest and the December 17, 2014 announcement was a doubling down on this failed policy that has a high profile body count.

Cuba has seen rising levels of violence against nonviolent activists and the suspicious deaths of human rights defenders during the Obama presidency: Orlando Zapata Tamayo (February 23, 2010), Daisy Talavera de las Mercedes Lopez (January 31, 2011) , Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia (May 8, 2011), Laura Inés Pollán Toledo (October 14, 2011), Wilman Villar Mendoza (January 19, 2012), Sergio Diaz Larrastegui (April 19, 2012), Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas (July 22, 2012) and Harold Cepero Escalante (July 22, 2012).

Both Laura Pollán and Oswaldo Payá each had the international recognition and ability to head an authentic democratic transition in Cuba. Oswaldo Payá had forced the dictatorship to change the constitution in 2002 because of Project Varela, a citizen initiative demanding legal reforms within the existing system, and Laura Pollán through constant street demonstrations achieved the freedom of scores of Cuban prisoners of conscience. It is important to remember that the deaths of these high profile human rights defenders all happened on President Obama's watch.

Unfortunately, following this new relationship between the United States and Cuba the pattern of violence against activists was escalated by the Castro regime. Cuban human rights defender, Sirley Ávila León, a 56 year old mother of two and a one-time delegate of the People’s Assembly of Majibacoa worked through official channels to represent her community but when they ignored her requests to keep a school open she went to the international media and was later removed from office. She then joined the democratic opposition which led to escalating acts of repression by state security against her culminating in a machete attack in Cuba on May 24, 2015 by Osmany Carrión who had been sent by state security agents. While raising her hand to block a machete blow to the head, she suffered deep cuts to her neck and knees, lost her left hand and the machete cut through the bone of her right humerus leaving her arm dangling. She is still in danger while her assailant is free to walk the streets of Cuba.

These realities demonstrate that courage demands that we maintain both our dignity and an open mind in resisting and rejecting this approach which twice before (in 1977-1980 and 1993-2000) has proved disastrous to both Cubans and Americans. We cannot ignore that Cubans on the island recognize that this policy will prolong the life of the dictatorship and more than 70,000 have fled to freedom and many more would like to leave because they do not have confidence in the Castro regime and the claims that progress has been made. Their daily reality in Cuba says otherwise and no amount of propaganda and manipulation is going to change that. We need to face this hard future with courage and dignity prioritizing the person over ideologies and remembering the words of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas four months prior to his untimely death:
"Our Movement denounces the regime's attempt to impose a fraudulent change, i.e. change without rights and the inclusion of many interests in this change that sidesteps democracy and the sovereignty of the people of Cuba. The attempt to link the Diaspora in this fraudulent change is to make victims participate in their own oppression. The Diaspora does not have to 'assume attitudes and policies in entering the social activity of the island.' The Diaspora is a Diaspora because they are Cuban exiles to which the regime denied rights as it denies them to all Cubans. It is not in that part of oppression, without rights, and transparency that the Diaspora has to be inserted, that would be part of a fraudulent change. [...] The gradual approach only makes sense if there are transparent prospects of freedom and rights. We Cubans have a right to our rights. Why not rights? It is time. That is the peaceful change that we promote and claim: Changes that signify freedom, reconciliation, political pluralism and free elections. Then the Diaspora will cease being a Diaspora, because all Cubans will have rights in their own free and sovereign country. That is why we fight."
Vigil on February 24, 2015 demanding justice for four Brothers to the Rescue members killed in 1996

Signed by,

Juan Carlos Sanchez
Cesar Vasquez
Harold Silva
John Suarez
Augusto Monge
Yosvani Oliva
Pedro Ross
Stephanie Rudat
Colena Corley
Pamela Adan
Lourdes Palomo  

(E-mail frcbfndtn@gmail.com if you are a student or University alumnus and would like to have your name added)



Saturday, December 19, 2015

126 FORMER CUBAN POLITICAL PRISONERS CALL ON PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA TO REVISIT HIS CUBA POLICY

Center for a Free Cuba sent the following statement along with the letter by the political prisoners in both English and Spanish that was delivered to The White House on December 17, 2015. On the same day many of this former political prisoners picketed The White House  protesting President Obama's policies. Free Cuba Foundation founder Augusto Monge was also present and took part in the demonstration.


WASHINGTON – On the morning of December 17, 2015, the White House received a letter asking President Barack Obama to revisit his Cuba policy in light of a considerable increase this year in political repression against peaceful human rights activists on the island. The letter hand-delivered at the White House this morning was signed by more than 100 former Cuban political prisoners who served a total of 1,945 years in Castro’s political prisons and forced labor camps.

The letter coincides with the one year anniversary of President Obama’s historic announcement on Cuba. The prisoners say that “based on our history and experience as political prisoners under Castro’s totalitarian regime, the new Cuba policy established by your Administration is a regrettable mistake.”

It “will prolong the life of the dictatorship, is worsening the human rights situation there, marginalizing the democratic opposition and compromising U.S. national security,” they said.

Writing three days after the President made a statement indicating he wants to travel to Cuba before the end of his term if “we’re seeing some progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans,” the former political captives said that “human rights violations in Cuba have a terrible history, but the current policy has taken a bad situation and made it worse. Violent beatings against activists peacefully assembling have escalated and worsened over 2015.”

“The Administration’s new Cuba policy over the past year,” they tell President Obama, “has compromised U.S. national security.” They remind the President that he commuted “Gerardo Hernandez’s two life sentences” and that Hernandez “was convicted for among other things conspiracy to murder three U.S. citizens and one resident of the U.S.” Hernandez helped plan their murders by Cuban warplanes on international airspace. Raul Castro gave medals to the Cuban pilots who committed the crime. By “returning him to Cuba where he received a hero’s welcome in what was an immense propaganda victory for the Castro regime [the Administration] sent a dangerous signal to those who would harm Americans,” the letter said.

A full text of the letter to the President with all of the signatures is attached.

The letter was given to the National Security Council at 9:38 this morning. The letter was given by Ernesto Diaz Rodríguez, former Cuban political prisoner and poet who served more than 22 years in Castro’s political prisons and forced labor camps. At 11 AM there will be a demonstration of political prisoners, families, and friends in front of the White House requesting that President Barack Obama ask Raul Castro to stop the attacks against the Ladies in White and to stop the beatings. The prisoners hope that if their request reaches the President, President Obama will call Raul Castro on the telephone to ask him to stop the beatings in Cuba. 




December 17, 2015

Mr. Barack H. Obama
President of United States of America
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Mr. President:

Based on our history and experience as political prisoners under Castro’s totalitarian regime, the new Cuba policy established by your Administration has been a regrettable mistake. This will prolong the life of the dictatorship, is worsening the human rights situation there, marginalizing the democratic opposition and compromising U.S. national security.

The normalization of relations is creating false expectations and granting benefits to the tyrannical regime in Cuba; it is also allowing the Paris Club to forgive billions in debt providing the regime hard currency which it funnels into its most repressive institutions: the military and intelligence services giving new life to what we’re dying institutions. Human rights violations in Cuba have a terrible history, but the current policy has taken a bad situation and made it worse. Violent beatings against activists peacefully assembling have escalated and worsened over 2015.

Politically motivated arbitrary detentions in Cuba as of the end of November 2015 are a documented total of 7,686 and are on track to break the previous record set in 2014 with 8,899 arrests. Over the course of this year the number of detentions have escalated: 178 in January; 492 in February; 610 in March; 338 in April; 641 in May; 563 in June; 674 in July; 768 in August; 882 in September; 1,093 in October; and 1,447 in November. Political prisoners continue to be a reality in Cuba.

Despite the claim that there would be continued support for improved human rights and democratic reforms in Cuba the past year has demonstrated otherwise. Inviting the Castro regime to the VII Summit of the Americas in Panama in April of 2015, violated the democratic ideals of the summit. The dictatorship’s anti-democratic and violent nature was made evident during the Summit with Cuban nationals and U.S. citizens beaten up by state security and requiring hospitalization and summit events interrupted by acts of repudiation organized by the Castro regime. The U.S. government responses were low level pro-forma protests while President Obama met with Raul Castro as an equal.

The Administration’s new Cuba policy over the past year has compromised U.S. national security. First, commuting Gerardo Hernandez’s two life sentences; he was convicted for among other things conspiracy to murder three U.S. citizens and one resident of the U.S., and returning him to Cuba where he received a hero’s welcome in what was an immense propaganda victory for the Castro regime, sending a dangerous signal to those who would harm Americans.

Secondly, removing Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list on May 29, 2015 despite: 1) the Castro regime being caught smuggling heavy weapons and ammunition through Colombia on February 28, 2015. 2) Being linked to international drug trafficking along with its client state Venezuela as reported on January 27, 2015. 3) Being in violation of UN international sanctions to North Korea on July 15, 2013 when caught smuggling tons of weapons and ammunition including ballistic missile technology. Ignoring this will get more Americans killed and undermine U.S. interests.

Finally, having the US Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas meet with the Castro regime’s Interior Minister Major General Carlos Fernandez Gondin in what was officially described as a visit of collaboration and engagement sends worrisome signals that should concern those who care about national security. Gondin has a history of engaging in the mistreatment of opposition activists and has an agenda to undermine U.S. interests, legitimizing him with an official visit sends a terrible message.

We the undersigned are political prisoners who collectively have served 1,945 years in prison for resisting the Castro dictatorship and fighting for democracy in our homeland of Cuba. We are writing this letter out of a deep conviction that this new U.S. Cuba policy will not only harm Cuban aspirations for a free and democratic Cuba while worsening human rights there but also endanger American lives.

Sincerely,

Signed by 126 former Cuban political prisoners who collectively have served 1,945 years in prison




En castellano:

17 de diciembre de 2015

Señor Barack H. Obama
Presidente de los Estados Unidos de América
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Señor. Presidente:

Basados en nuestra historia y experiencia como presos políticos bajo el régimen totalitario de los Castro, la nueva política hacia Cuba establecida por su Administración ha sido un lamentable error. Esa política prolongará la dictadura en el poder, está empeorando la situación de los derechos humanos en la isla, marginalizando a la oposición democrática y arriesgando la seguridad nacional de los EE.UU.

La normalización de las relaciones ha creado falsas expectativas y otorga beneficios al régimen tiránico de Cuba; y ha resultado en que el Club de Paris le perdone una deuda de miles de millones de dólares, facilitándole a La Habana divisas que destina a sus instituciones más represivas: los servicios militares y de inteligencia, renovándoles sus recursos que se encontraban bastante limitados. La historia terrible de las violaciones a los derechos humanos en Cuba ha empeorado y ha habido un aumento en las golpizas contra los activistas pro derechos humanos a lo largo del 2015.

Las detenciones políticas arbitrarias en Cuba hacia finales de noviembre 2015 ascendieron a 7.686 y están en camino de romper el record anterior del 2014 con 8.899 arrestos. A lo largo de este año el número de detenciones ha escalado: 178 en enero; 492 en febrero; 610 en marzo; 338 en abril; 641 en mayo; 563 en junio; 674 en julio; 768 en agosto; 882 en septiembre; 1.093 en octubre; y 1.447 en noviembre. Los presos políticos continúan siendo una realidad en Cuba.

A pesar de la afirmación de que habría apoyo continuo para lograr una mejoría de los derechos humanos y la democracia en Cuba, lo opuesto ha ocurrido durante este año. Invitar al régimen de los Castro a la VII Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá en abril de 2015 violó los ideales democráticos de la Cumbre. La naturaleza anti-democrática y violenta de la dictadura se hizo evidente durante la Cumbre cuando ciudadanos cubanos y americanos fueron golpeados por la seguridad del estado, necesitando ser hospitalizados, y algunos de los eventos de la Cumbre fueron interrumpidos por actos de repudio organizados por el régimen castrista. Las respuestas del gobierno de los EE.UU fueron pro-forma a bajo nivel mientras que el Presidente norteamericano se reunió con Raúl Castro de igual a igual.

La nueva política hacia Cuba de la Administración durante el año pasado puso en peligro la seguridad nacional de los EE.UU. Primero, conmutando las dos sentencias de cadena perpetua de Gerardo Hernández, convicto por otras cosas, por conspirar para asesinar a tres ciudadanos norteamericanos y a un residente de los EE.UU; devolviéndolo a Cuba donde fue recibido como un héroe en una inmensa victoria propagandística para el régimen de los Castro. Esa política envía una peligrosa señal a los que buscan hacerle daño a los norteamericanos.

Segundo, remover a Cuba de la lista de países que apoyan el terrorismo el 29 de mayo de 2015 a pesar de que el régimen de los Castro: 1) fue sorprendido traficando con armamentos bélicos y municiones por Colombia el 28 de febrero de 2015. 2) Está vinculado al narcotráfico internacional junto a su estado cliente Venezuela como fue reportado el 27 de enero de 2015. 3) Estar en violación de sanciones internacionales de la ONU contra Corea del Norte el 15 de julio de 2013 cuando fue sorprendida traficando toneladas de armamentos y municiones incluyendo tecnología de misiles balísticos. Ignorar esto hará que más norteamericanos sean asesinados y socavará los intereses de los EE.UU.

Finalmente, al reunirse el Subsecretario de Seguridad Interna Alejandro Mayorkas con el Ministro del Interior del régimen de los Castro, Mayor General Carlos Fernández Gondín, en lo que fue descrito oficialmente como una visita de colaboración y compromiso envía señales que deben preocupar a los responsables por la seguridad nacional. Gondín tiene un historial de participar en el maltrato de activistas de la oposición y tiene una agenda destinada a socavar los intereses de los EE.UU. Legitimar al General Gondín con una visita oficial envía un terrible mensaje.

Los firmantes somos presos políticos que colectivamente hemos cumplido 1,945 años de prisión por resistirnos a la dictadura de los Castro y por luchar por la democracia en nuestra patria de Cuba.

Escribimos esta carta debido a una convicción profunda de que esta nueva política norteamericana hacia Cuba no solo dañará las aspiraciones de los cubanos por una Cuba libre y democrática, mientras allí empeoran los derechos humanos, pero también pondrá en peligro las vidas norteamericanas.

Sinceramente,
  
Firmado por 126 ex presos políticos cubanos que colectivamente han servido 1.945 años en la cárcel










AN OPEN LETTER TO BARACK OBAMA ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE NEW CUBA POLICY

 Free Cuba Foundation is a member of the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance, a coalition of Cuban and Cuban-American pro-democracy organizations and reproduces this letter released on December 17, 2015 at a press conference at the Institute of Cuban and Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami.




AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE NEW CUBA POLICY

Coral Gables, Florida. December 17th, 2015- Assembly of the Cuban Resistance. Today two key organizations of the Cuban American community, the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance and the Cuban Democratic Directorate, issued an Open letter to President Barack Obama on the first anniversary of the announcement of the new Cuba policy. In both video and written formats, the letter presents to President Obama a powerful evaluation of the negative repercussions for the human rights movement in Cuba as a result of an engagement policy consisting of unilateral concessions to the Castro regime.



AN OPEN LETTER TO BARACK OBAMA ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE NEW CUBA POLICY
From
THE CUBAN DEMOCRATIC DIRECTORATE (DIRECTORIO)
17 December 2015


Mr. President:

A year ago today you announced a new policy towards Cuba. This policy has resulted in little more than one unilateral concession after another to a totalitarian dictatorship that has continuously oppressed the Cuban people for the past 56 years.

The first of these concessions was the return to Cuba of Castro agents, one of whom was directly involved in the murder, on February 24, 1996, of four young men, three of them US citizens and one a U.S. resident, who were Brothers to the Rescue volunteers piloting unarmed civilian aircraft over international waters while on a humanitarian mission. This first immoral act, together with all that followed, has emboldened the continued repression against the Cuban people.
Emboldened by acts such as these, the Castro Regime’s repression on the growing civic resistance movement in the island has grown ever more brazen. It is our goal in this letter to provide information on the events that have taken place on the ground, in Cuba, over the past year, and have had a direct effect on Cubans. 

Below we take these points from your December 17, 2014 speech announcing the new Cuba policy and contrast them with what has taken place in Cuba since that date.

President Obama quote: “[W]e welcome Cuba’s decision to release a substantial number of prisoners whose cases were directly raised with the Cuban government by my team.”

Mr. President: This December 10, 2015 – International Human Rights Day – more than 300 activists were arrested in Cuba. This continues a pattern of over 8,000 politically-motivated arbitrary detentions this year. Political prisoners continue to be unjustly jailed in Cuba. Some have responded to this injustice by declaring themselves on hunger strike leading to additional punishments by prison officials. Among these political prisoners, we are deeply concerned by the current plight of seven: Geovanys Izaguirre Hernandez and Laudelino Mendoza who have been imprisoned since November 6, 2015 for writing a sign that read, “We want change, and no more hunger;” Hugo Damian Prieto Blanco, who was detained on October 25, 2015 accused of charges of public disorder; Vladimir Morera Bacallao arrested and sentenced to four years in prison for writing on the wall of his home, “I vote for my freedom and not in elections where I cannot elect my president,” he has been on hunger strike since October 9th demanding his freedom; also, on hunger strikes since December 1, 2015, Felipe Martínez Companioni and Alexander Palacios Reyes, jailed for handing out human rights fliers; and Javier Jouz Varona since December 14, 2015 when he was imprisoned for carrying out opposition activities in the streets. I fear for their lives, Mr. President.

President Obama quote: “The United States believes that no Cubans should face harassment or arrest or beatings simply because they’re exercising a universal right to have their voices heard, and we will continue to support civil society there.”

President Obama: There is a clear linkage between U.S. rapprochement with the Castro Regime and escalating violence against Cuban activists. Earlier this year on May 24, 2015, a mother of two was machete attacked on the orders of State Security, losing her left hand, suffering deep and crippling cuts on her knees, and the machete cut through the bone of her right arm leaving it dangling. Her offense? As a regional delegate of the Peoples Power who tried to keep a neighborhood school open, when official channels ignored her requests, she went to the international press. Removed from her government position, she joined the democratic opposition and petitioned for improved human rights and freedoms.  This case is emblematic of the heightened violence against activists in Cuba since December 17, 2014.

President Obama quote: This April, we are prepared to have Cuba join the other nations of the hemisphere at the Summit of the Americas.  But we will insist that civil society join us so that citizens, not just leaders, are shaping our future. 

Mr. President:  Inviting the Castro Regime to the Summit of the Americas in Panama in April of 2015, violated the democratic ideals of the summit. The cost of ignoring the dictatorship’s anti-democratic and violent nature was made evident during the Summit when events were interrupted by acts of repudiation organized by the Castro Regime. On the eve of the Summit, a group of activists from Cuba and the United States that went to lay flowers at a statue of Jose Marti were viciously attacked by Cuban State Security. Several required hospitalization and needed to undergo extensive surgery for the injuries sustained. In spite of this, you met with Raul Castro and treated him as an equal, sending a dangerous signal to the Castro dictatorship, but also to hostile regimes everywhere, that the safety of Americans is not a priority.

President Obama quote: My fellow Americans, the city of Miami is only 200 miles or so from Havana.  Countless thousands of Cubans have come to Miami -- on planes and makeshift rafts; some with little but the shirt on their back and hope in their hearts.

Mr. President: The current U.S. policy that has abandoned the goal of regime change and is embracing a 56-year-old dictatorship has been received by millions of Cubans, who were initially hopeful, with profound despair as things have gotten worse. This, combined with a perception by the Castro Regime that the current administration is weak, has given a green light to another immigration crisis in the region. Tens of thousands have already sought to flee the prospects of a dynastic succession within a continuing Castro dictatorship.

President Obama quote: “I believe in the free flow of information.  Unfortunately, our sanctions on Cuba have denied Cubans access to technology that has empowered individuals around the globe.  So I’ve authorized increased telecommunications connections between the United States and Cuba.  Businesses will be able to sell goods that enable Cubans to communicate with the United States and other countries.”
    
Mr. President: The United States cannot be blamed for the lack of access of Cubans to technology.  To start with, a 1,600 kilometer (994-mile) fiber-optic cable between Venezuela and Cuba, estimated to cost $70 million, was actually completed in February 2011 and was due to come into operation in July 2011.  The Castro Regime’s officials have never explained why this cable remains unused.  The obvious reason, as stated by the prestigious NGO Reporters without Borders, is the political will of the Castro Regime to keep the Cuban people from freely accessing the Internet.  The Castro Regime tightly controls the distribution and use of computers in Cuba, and access to Internet cafes comes at a cost that most Cubans cannot afford.  Radio and TV signals from outside Cuba are routinely jammed, and low tech equipment from short wave radios to laptops have routinely been confiscated by the dictatorship. The Castro Regime limits access to technology for the same reason that it controls all media and imprisons independent journalists: so as to maintain the Cuban people uninformed and defenseless.  What’s more, over the past five years, despite your efforts in 2010 and again in 2014 of loosening sanctions, the Castro Regime has gone backwards, not forward in technology rankings. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies and is a respected reference source for international rankings. The ICT Development Index (IDI) is a composite index combining eleven indicators into one benchmark measure that can be used to monitor and compare developments in information and communication technology (ICT) between countries and over time. According to ITU between 2010 and 2015 Cuba has dropped in rank from 119th to 129th in the world in IDI overall rankings, falling behind countries such as Lesotho, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Honduras and Syria.

President Obama quote: Cubans have a saying about daily life: “No es facil” –- it’s not easy.  Today, the United States wants to be a partner in making the lives of ordinary Cubans a little bit easier, more free, more prosperous.

No, Mr. President, it hasn’t been easy for the Cuban Resistance to see the President of the world’s most powerful democracy shaking the hand of a dictator that has yet to pay for the crimes that he has committed against humanity.  Over the past year, life for the civic resistance movement of the Cuban people has become even more difficult, as well as for the Cuban people in general.  Emboldened by unilateral concessions, the Regime has increased repression and retrenched itself in power.  The thousands of monthly political arrests and the current mass exodus of Cubans are a result of this.  Now is not the time to unilaterally lift sanctions on the Castro Regime.  There is still time for the United States to lead an international coalition calling for the release of political prisoners, an end to repression and genuine free elections.  The Agreement for Democracy, signed on to by the vast majority of the Cuban opposition, shows a road map towards true change in Cuba. Only with this true change can the life of ordinary Cubans be easier, with freedom, justice and prosperity.




Sincerely,

Dr. Orlando Gutierrez Boronat,
National Secretary
Cuban Democratic Directorate (Directorio)



 


CARTA ABIERTA AL PRESIDENTE BARACK OBAMA EN EL PRIMER ANIVERSARIO DEL ANUNCIO DE LA NUEVA POLÍTICA HACIA CUBA

 Coral Gables, Florida- 17 de diciembre del 2015- Asamblea de la Resistencia Cubana. Dos importantes organizaciones de la comunidad cubano americana, la Asamblea de la Resistencia Cubana y el Directorio Democrático Cubano publicaron una carta abierta dirigida al Presidente Barack Obama, en el primer aniversario de su anuncio de cambio de política hacia Cuba. Las publicaciones, una escrita y la otra en forma de video, le presenta al Presidente Obama una evaluación contundente sobre las repercusiones negativas que ha tenido esta nueva política para el movimiento de derechos humanos en Cuba, como resultado de la misma, que consiste en hacer concesiones unilaterales al Régimen Castrista.



CARTA ABIERTA A BARACK OBAMA EN EL PRIMER ANIVERSARIO DEL ANUNCIO DE LA NUEVA POLITICA HACIA CUBA
De
EL DIRECTORIO DEMOCRATICO CUBANO
17 de diciembre de 2015


Sr. Presidente:

Hoy se cumple un año de que usted anunciara una nueva política hacia Cuba. Esta política ha logrado poco más que una sucesión de concesiones unilaterales a una dictadura totalitaria que incansablemente ha oprimido al pueblo cubano por los últimos 56 años.
La primera de estas concesiones fue el regreso a Cuba de agentes de Castro, uno de los cuales estaba directamente implicado en el asesinato, el 24 de febrero de 1996, de cuatro hombres, tres de ellos eran ciudadanos americanos y uno residente en los Estados Unidos, quienes eran voluntarios de Hermanos al Rescate y piloteaban aviones civiles desarmados sobre aguas internacionales mientras se encontraban en una misión humanitaria. Este primer acto inmoral, junto a todos los que le siguieron, han envalentonado a una incesante represión en contra del pueblo cubano.

Alentados por actos como este, la represión del Régimen Castrista en contra de la creciente resistencia cívica en la isla ha aumentado en brutalidad. Es nuestro objetivo con esta carta proveer información sobre los eventos que han ocurrido en el terreno, en Cuba, a lo largo del año pasado y han tenido un efecto directo para los cubanos.
A continuación tomamos como base los puntos que usted tocó en su discurso del 17 de diciembre de 2014, anunciando la nueva política hacia Cuba, y los contrastamos con los hechos que han ocurrido en Cuba desde esa fecha.

Presidente Obama cita: “Nosotros recibimos con placer la decisión de Cuba de liberar a un número sustancial de prisioneros cuyos casos han sido directamente propuestos por mi equipo al gobierno cubano”.

Sr. Presidente: Este 10 de diciembre de 2015 – Día Internacional de los Derechos Humanos – más de 300 activistas fueron arrestados en Cuba. Esto continúa con un patrón de más de 8,000 detenciones arbitrarias, políticamente motivadas este año. Los prisioneros políticos siguen siendo injustamente encarcelados en Cuba. Algunos han respondido a esta injusticia declarándose en huelga de hambre, lo que ha desencadenado castigos adicionales por parte de los oficiales de prisión. De estos prisioneros políticos, estamos especialmente preocupados por la situación actual de siete: Geovanys Izaguirre Hernández y Laudelino Mendoza quienes fueron encarcelados el 6 de noviembre de 2015 por escribir un cartel que decía, “Queremos cambios, no más hambre”; Hugo Damian Prieto Blanco, detenido el 25 de octubre de 2015 al serle imputado cargos de desorden público; Vladimir Morera Bacallao arrestado y sentenciado a cuatro años de prisión por escribir en la pared de su casa, “Yo voto por mi libertad y no en una elección donde no puedo elegir a mi presidente”, él ha estado en huelga de hambre demandando su libertad desde el 9 de octubre de 2015; también en huelgas de hambre desde el 1ro de diciembre de 2015, Felipe Martínez Companioni y Alexander Palacios Reyes, encarcelados por repartir panfletos sobre los derechos humanos; y Javier Jouz Varona desde el 14 de diciembre de 2015 cuando fue detenido por organizar actividades opositoras en la calle. Yo temo por sus vidas, Sr. Presidente.

Presidente Obama cita: “Los Estados Unidos cree que ningún cubano debe sufrir asedios, arrestos, o golpizas simplemente porque ejerciten el derecho universal de hacer sentir sus voces, y nosotros continuaremos apoyando a la sociedad civil allí”.

Presidente Obama: Hay una relación directa entre el acercamiento al Régimen Castrista y el escalamiento en la violencia en contra de los activistas cubanos. A comienzos del año, el 24 de mayo de 2015, una madre de dos, fue atacada con un machete bajo las órdenes de la Seguridad del Estado, perdiendo su mano izquierda, sufriendo heridas profundas que la mutilaron. El machete penetró a través del hueso de su brazo derecho, dejándolo colgando. ¿Su ofensa? Como delegada provincial del Poder Popular, intentó mantener abierta una escuela del barrio, cuando las vías oficiales ignoraron sus pedidos, ella contactó a la prensa internacional. Despedida de su posición en el gobierno, se unió a la oposición democrática y pidió el mejoramiento de los derechos humanos y libertades. Este caso es emblemático para ilustrar la creciente violencia en contra de activistas en Cuba desde el 17 de diciembre de 2014.

Presidente Obama cita: Este abril, estamos preparados para aceptar que Cuba se una a las otras naciones del hemisferio en la Cumbre de las Américas.  Pero, insistiremos en que la sociedad civil se una también, no solo los líderes están moldeando nuestro futuro”.

Sr. Presidente: Invitando al Régimen Castrista a la Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá en abril de 2015, violó los ideales democráticos de la Cumbre. El costo de ignorar la naturaleza violenta y anti-democrática de la dictadura fue evidente durante la Cumbre cuando los eventos fueron interrumpidos por actos de repudio organizados por el Régimen Castrista. En vísperas de la Cumbre, un grupo de activistas de Cuba y los Estados Unidos que iban a llevar flores a la estatua de José Martí fueron despiadadamente atacados por la Seguridad del Estado cubana. Muchos requirieron ser hospitalizados y necesitaron someterse a extensas operaciones por las lesiones sufridas. A pesar de esto, usted se encontró con Raúl Castro y lo trató como un igual, mandando una peligrosa señal a la dictadura Castrista, pero también a todos los regímenes hostiles en el mundo, de que la seguridad de los ciudadanos americanos no es una prioridad.

Presidente Obama cita: Mis compatriotas, la ciudad de Miami está a tan sólo 200 millas de La Habana.  Incontables miles de cubanos han venido a Miami – en aviones y balsas; algunos con poco más que la camisa que vestían y esperanza en sus corazones”.

Sr. Presidente: La política americana actual, la cual ha abandonado la meta de cambio de régimen y ha  abrazado a una dictadura de 56 años, ha sido recibida por millones de cubanos, quienes inicialmente estaban esperanzados, con profunda desesperación mientras la situación ha empeorado. Esto, aunado a la percepción del Régimen Castrista de que la actual administración es débil, ha dado luz verde a otra crisis migratoria en la región. Cientos de miles ya han intentado huir ante la perspectiva de una sucesión dinástica dentro de la dictadura Castrista.

Presidente Obama cita: “Yo creo en el libre flujo de información. Desafortunadamente, nuestras sanciones a Cuba han negado a los cubanos acceso  a la misma tecnología que ha dado poder a individuos alrededor del mundo. Es por esto que he autorizado un incremento en las conexiones de telecomunicaciones entre los Estados Unidos y Cuba. Los negocios tendrán la oportunidad de vender productos que permitan a los cubanos comunicarse con los Estados Unidos y otros países.” 
    
Sr. Presidente: Los Estados Unidos no pueden ser culpados por la falta de acceso de los cubanos a la tecnología. Para comenzar, un cable de fibra-óptica de 1,600 kilómetros (994-millas) entre Venezuela y Cuba, de costo estimado en $70 millones, fue completado en febrero de 2011 y debía comenzar a operar en julio de 2011.  Los oficiales del Régimen Castrista nunca han explicado porque este cable permanece sin uso. La razón obvia, como ha sido declarado por la prestigiosa ONG Reporteros sin Fronteras, es la voluntad política del Régimen Castrista la que evita el acceso libre a Internet de los cubanos. El Régimen Castrista estrictamente controla la distribución y uso de computadoras en  Cuba, y el acceso a las Salas de Navegación de Internet tiene un costo que los cubanos no pueden pagar. Las señales de Radio y TV que entran desde afuera de Cuba son rutinariamente interrumpidas, y los equipos de baja tecnología de radios de onda corta para laptops han sido normalmente confiscados por la dictadura. El Régimen Castrista limita el acceso a la tecnología por la misma razón que controla todos los medios de comunicación y encarcela a periodistas independientes: para poder mantener al pueblo cubano desinformado y desprotegido. Además, en los últimos cinco años, a pesar de los esfuerzos en el 2010 y de nuevo en el 2014 de debilitar sanciones, el Régimen Castrista ha retrocedido, y no progresado en clasificaciones de tecnología. La Unión Internacional de Telecomunicaciones (UIT) es la agencia especializada de las Naciones Unidas para las tecnologías de la información y comunicación, y es una fuente referencial respetada para clasificaciones internacionales. El Índice de Desarrollo de la UIT (IDI) es un índice compuesto que combina once indicadores en una medida de referencia que puede ser usada para monitorear y comparar el desarrollo de la tecnología de la información y la comunicación (ICT) entre países y a través del tiempo. De acuerdo a la UIT entre 2010 y 2015 Cuba ha descendido en la clasificación en el mundo, desde la posición 119 a la 129, de acuerdo a la clasificación general de IDI, ocupando un lugar detrás de países como Lesoto, Sudan, Zimbabue, Honduras y Siria.

Presidente Obama cita: Los cubanos tienen un refrán sobre la vida diaria: “No es fácil”.  Hoy, los Estados Unidos quiere colaborar en convertir las vidas de los cubanos comunes en algo un poco más fácil, más libre, más próspero. 

No, Sr. Presidente, no ha sido fácil para la Resistencia Cubana ver al Presidente de la democracia más poderosa del mundo dándole la mano a un dictador que todavía tiene que pagar por los crímenes que ha cometido en contra de la humanidad. En el último año la vida para el movimiento de Resistencia Cívico del pueblo cubano ha sido incluso más difícil, como también para el pueblo cubano en general.  Envalentonado por las concesiones unilaterales, el Régimen ha aumentado la represión y se ha afianzado en el poder. Los miles de arrestos políticos mensuales y el presente éxodo en masa de los cubanos son el resultado de esto. Ahora no es el momento para unilateralmente levantar las sanciones al Régimen Castrista.  Aún es tiempo para que los Estados Unidos lidere una coalición internacional que demande la liberación de los prisioneros políticos, el fin de la represión y elecciones libres genuinas. El Acuerdo por la Democracia, firmado por la mayoría de la oposición cubana, muestra una hoja de ruta hacia el cambio auténtico en Cuba. Sólo con este cambio verdadero puede la vida del cubano común ser más fácil, con libertad, justicia y prosperidad.


Le saluda atentamente,

Dr. Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat,
Secretario Nacional,
Directorio Democrático Cubano