Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Venezuela has not forgotten Bassil Da Costa

Today marks six months since the murder of Bassil Da Costa. Liliana Tintori remembers and demands justice. Over social media scores of Venezuelans using the hashtag #VzlaNoOlvida (Venezuela Does Not Forget) remembered 24 year old Bassil Da Costa who was shot in the head on February 12, 2014 while peacefully protesting that his mother had not gotten medical care after waiting and suffering great pain for months.

Bassil Alejandro Da Costa
Bassil Alejandro Da Costa 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. His last message on Facebook: "He who is here tomorrow goes out marching without fear of anything and hoping to find a better future."

Due to the public outrage over the killing eight government functionaries have been charged in the killing, only one of which is being held in custody while awaiting trial.

Venezuela has not forgotten Bassil Alejandro Da Costa nor have we. Justice for Bassil and all those murdered by the Maduro regime for peacefully exercising their rights in the hope of a better future for Venezuela.

A hero remembered: Robert Redman (age 28) murdered six months ago

"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, age 28 over twitter on February 12, 2014 (English translation of above tweet) Tweeted shortly before he was shot and killed the same day.

Robert Redman circled in centro of photo
The above photo was taken while Robert was trying to get Bassil Alejandro Da Costa medical attention after he had been shot in the head by members of SEBIN, the Maduro regime's intelligence service. Bassil was already dead. Hours later Robert was also shot in the head and killed.

Robert's question remains extremely relevant six months later. "What did you do?" which raises another important question: "What are you doing?"

"We do not have to take justice into our own hands but it is in our hands." #ThatJusticeBeDone
- Alfredo Romero

Monday, August 4, 2014

Maleconazo at 20: The Havana Uprising of August 5, 1994

"Apart from the distances: in China they tried to erase what happened in Tiananmen Square and in #Cuba the Maleconazo."  - Yoani Sánchez, over twitter on June 3, 2014

 "I remember Tiananmen I remember the Maleconazo and presently I remember Venezuela and you, what do you remember?" - Yoani Sánchez, over twitter on June 3, 2014

Maleconazo: Mass protests in Havana, Cuba on August 5, 1994
Yoani Sánchez makes an important observation above the regimes in China and Cuba want to erase the inconvenient facts and historical events that are in conflict with the official narrative. Tiananmen Square and the Maleconazo are two such episodes that have important anniversaries in 2014. The massacre in Tiananmen was 25 years ago on June 4, 1989 and the Maleconazo marks 20 years on August 5, 1994. 

Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter describes below what happened on August 5, 1994 and its historic importance:
500 Cubans gathered on August 5, 1994 on the pier "de la Luz", to take the launch that goes to Regla and Casablanca because there was a rumor that it would again be diverted to Florida. It was a rumor of a path to freedom that these 500 people had seized upon. Military trucks arrived and announced the suspension of the launches departure and dispersed the crowd.  People walking along the Malecón (The Havana Sea Wall)  joined the dispersed crowd and gathered near the  Castillo de la Real Fuerza (Castle of the Royal Force). A thousand Cubans began to march shouting Freedom through the streets of Havana.  That 500 Cubans would gather to flee the island is not a new phenomenon but that another 500 would join them  to march and call for freedom was something new and an unexpected development for the security services.  After marching for a kilometer, a hundred Special Brigade members and plain clothes police confronted the protesters. The demonstrators dispersed into the neighborhood of Central Havana, burning rubbish bins, smashing the windows of the dollar stores and clashing with the police with stones and sticks. Regime agents responded with physical beat downs, several gun shots and their own mobilization of repressive actors.
One thousands Cubans marching through Havana chanting "Freedom!" and "Down with Castro"  The sounds and images of that day have been captured on video and its impact is felt two decades later in music and art.

 It is also important that the images of plain clothes state security aiming their guns at an unarmed protest in a manner that indicates they were shooting must also be remembered and widely distributed.

Maleconazo: Regime agents aiming their guns at protesters
It is also important to recall on the evening of August 5, 1994, the dictator, Fidel Castro took to the airwaves to justify and defend the "13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre that had taken place on July 13, 1994.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

People in Need: Ladies in White repeatedly repressed

(**Leer Versión En Español Abajo**)

How would you feel if you were innocent but still thrown in jail each Sunday?

As a result of the Ladies in White movement continuing to be a target of Cuban state authorities, the Czech NGO People in Need would like to bring greater  public attention to two cases of Ladies in White members who have been forced to contend with constant repression over the last two years.

Keila Ramos Suarez is 28 years old. She has been detained and assaulted 15 times between March 2013 and April 2014.
Due to the fact that her family doesn’t agree with the political opinions she holds, she has been repressed to an even greater extent. She has been thrown out of her house and left to live on the street. Furthermore, her son has been taken away from her by state authorities on account of her dissident activities. She has regularly been arrested before the weekly Ladies in White marches held on Sundays or been given orders that prevent her from participating in the Mass.

Maria Teresa Gracias Rojas is 48 years old. She has been detained and assaulted 39 times between January 2013 and March 2014.
The state police organized a so called search of her house during which all of her belongings were destroyed; she was assaulted, and subjected to acts of repudiation and intimidation. She has been under constant surveillance, including having a police patrol car permanently parked in front of her house. She has been prevented from participating in the Ladies in White marches almost every Sunday during this time span. The police usually arrest her either just outside of her residence or in front of the local church. We would like to stress the gravity of the fact that she happened to be assaulted directly by the priest as well. Her situation has been made all the more difficult due to her daughter’s health problems for which she hasn’t been receiving any help.

The scripts and tactics the authorities use are almost always the same:
One of them is to detain members of the Ladies in White before the Sunday Mass, so that they cannot participate in their weekly protest by taking part in their common walk to the church. They are brought to the local police station for several hours where they are placed under constant psychological and physical distress: the police agents have been beating, humiliating and threatening to jail them for years, while also openly threatening to harm their families if they don’t stop their dissident activities. The Ladies in White protest every Sunday dressed in white, as a symbol of peace, in order to demand freedom for the their relatives who are jailed dissidents, as well as on behalf of all other political prisoners.
The other tactic is to organize public acts of repudiation against them in order to cause them distress, while also intimidating and frightening them.  Usually small groups of people are brought to the dissidents’ residence who then shout insults at them, throw stones at their houses and threaten them.
Why have these brave women kept on fighting their battle despite the pressure they find themselves under? Their answer is simple and clear: they want change and freedom for their loved ones and the people of Cuba.

The NGO People in Need condemns the repression that the Cuban authorities have directed towards Keila and Maria Teresa, as well as towards all the Ladies in White, and ask for them to comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Cuba is a signatory.

The regular weekly march was harshly repressed in Havana, as well as in the provinces, following the announcement of celebrations in memory of the victims of “13th of March” Tugboat that was sunk in 1994. A total of 89 Ladies in White, among which the leader of the movement, Berta Soler, and 9 men who participated in the march were arrested.

The Ladies in White Movement was initiated in the aftermath of the Black Spring in 2003, when the Cuban government arrested and summarily tried and sentenced 75 human rights defenders, independent journalists, and independent librarians to terms of up to 28 years in prison. The initiator was Laura Pollan, the wife of one of the jailed activists, Hector Maseda. Each member of the march carries a picture of her jailed relative and the number of years to which he has been sentenced.

Cuban Team / Equipo de Cuba
People in Need - Human Rights and Democracy
Cubalog.eu - rewriting Cuba, EyeOnCuba.org


¿Cómo te sentirias de ser inocente, pero encarcelado cada domingo? 

Como las Damas de Blanco siguen estando en el punto de mira de las autoridades estatales cubanas la ONG Checa People in Need, desearía señalar a la atención del público dos casos de Damas de Blanco que han estado bajo la represión constante en los últimos dos años. 

Keila Ramos Suárez tiene 28 años. Desde marzo 2013 hasta abril de 2014 ha sido detenida y asaltada por 15 veces. 
Como su familia no está de acuerdo con las opiniones políticas que ella tiene, ella ha sido reprimida ademas, ha sido expulsada de su casa, encontrandose en la calle. Su hijo le ha sido quitado por las autoridades estatales, debido a sus actividades disidentes. Ella esta detenida constantemente antes de la marcha dominical semanal  que hacen las Damas de Blanco , para evitar que participara en la misa.

Maria Teresa Gracias Rojas tiene 48 años. Ella ha sido detenida y asaltada 39 veces desde enero 2013 hasta marzo 2014. 
La policía del estado le ha organizado un registro en su casa: todas sus pertenencias fueron destruidas;fue asaltada, y sometida a actos de repudio y intimidación. Ella esta bajo vigilancia constante, con una patrulla de la policía permanentemente estacionada frente a su casa. Casi todos los domingos se le impida participar en la marcha de las Damas de Blanco. La policía le arresta o a las afueras de su residencia o en frente de la iglesia local. Nos gustaría hacer hincapié en la gravedad del hecho de que le pasó ser asaltada por el mismo sacerdote también. Su situación se hace aún más difícil por su hija que tiene problemas de salud por los que no recibe ningún tipo de ayuda. 

 Los guiones que las autoridades utilizan son casi siempre los mismos: 
Uno de ellos es detenerlas antes de la misa de domingo, por lo que no pueden continuar su protesta semanal en su paseo común a la iglesia. Son llevadas a la comisaría de policía local por varias horas donde están constantemente bajo estrés psicológico y físico: los agentes de policía las golpean, humillan y amenazan  a la cárcel durante años o amenazan con dañar a sus familias si no se cesan sus actividades disidentes. Las Damas de Blanco protestan todos los domingos vestida de blanco, como símbolo de la paz, con el fin de exigir la libertad de los de sus parientes que son disidentes encarcelados y de todos los demás presos políticos. 
La otra es la de organizar actos públicos de repudio en contra de ellas con el fin de causar angustia,  intimidación y asustarlas: Pequeños grupos de personas son llevados a la residencia de los disidentes y gritan insultos contra ellas, lanzan piedras contra sus casas y las amenazan. 
¿Por qué continuan estas valientes mujeres a librar la batalla, a pesar de la presión a la que se encuentran bajo? Su respuesta es simple y clara: quieren un cambio y la libertad para ellas y su pueblo. 

Las ONG People in Need condena la represión de las autoridades cubanas hacia Keila y María Teresa, así como hacia todos las Damas de Blanco y pregunta por el cumplimiento de la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos de los cuales Cuba es signataria. 

La marcha semanal habitual fue duramente reprimida en La Habana, sino también en las provincias, tras el anuncio de las celebraciones en memoria de las víctimas del Remolcador 13 de marzo que hundieron en 1994. 89 Damas de Blanco, entre cuales Berta Soler, lider del movimiento,  y 9 hombres que participaron en la marcha fueron arrestados.

El movimiento  Damas de Blanco se inició sobre las secuelas de la primavera Negro en 2003, cuando el gobierno cubano arrestó y sumariamente juzgo y condeno 75 defensores de los derechos humanos, periodistas independientes y bibliotecarios independientes a penas de hasta 28 años de prisión. El iniciador fue Laura Pollán, esposa de uno de los activistas encarcelados, Héctor Maseda. Cada manifestante lleva una foto de su pariente encarcelado y el número de años para los que ha sido condenado.

Cuban Team / Equipo de Cuba
People in Need - Human Rights and Democracy
Cubalog.eu - rewriting Cuba, EyeOnCuba.org
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Christian Liberation Movement's Hardline

Hardline: an uncompromising or unyielding stand, especially in politics. One of the earliest documents of the Christian Liberation Movement that Free Cuba Foundation translated and reproduced at the time demonstrates the movement's hardline against violence, terrorism and hatred while embracing principled nonviolence.

On June 11, 1991 Oswaldo's home is attacked and vandalized

July 24, 1997

Declaration From the Christian Liberation Movement.

CHRISTIAN LIBERATION MOVEMENT, Havana, July 22, 1997. DECLARATION: A few days ago, bombs exploded in two hotels in Havana. Neither the perpetrators nor the objectives of these terrorist acts have identified themselves. But in any case, such acts are reprehensible. We reject them and they should not serve to confuse Cubans. 

When defending their human rights, proclaiming the truth and proposing a peaceful transition to democracy, many of our fellow countrymen have endured threats, discrimination, acts of harassment, arbitrary incarcerations, beatings and cruel treatment by repressive agents, and political and judicial authorities. 

However, neither we nor any of our brothers have renounced a peaceful transition through civic means. 

Furthermore, those who in the prisons receive serious mistreatment have not voiced words of hatred against their abusers, because for us the peaceful approach is not a tactic but something that arises out of a spirit of reconciliation and liberation which has prompted us to begin our struggle. 

No one can justify terrorist violence and attacks on defenseless human beings with any kind of reasoning, and much less by pretending to defend freedom and justice. Anyone who hides cynically to make attempts against human life violates the dignity of the human being and conspires against freedom and justice. 

The end does not justify the means. Lies and terror lead to death and fear. Truth and love produce freedom and life. 

FREEDOM AND LIFE, a phrase first pronounced by the Christian Liberation Movement in its Proclamation Document, continues to be the essence of the path and the goal that we are determined to follow. 

We denounce such acts of terror and violence, whoever their perpetrators may be…. 

This Document was drafted and signed in the City of Havana by the following founders of the Christian Liberation Movement:

Oswaldo Paya Sardiñas

Antonio Ramón Díaz Sánchez

Ramón Antunez Gonzalez

Miguel Saludes García

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Light two candles and make the Liberation sign for Oswaldo and Harold

"They have told me that they will kill me before this regime ends, but I will not flee." - Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas

"Christians and non-Christians who have the courage and the freedom to consider the peaceful political option for their lives, know they are exposing themselves to slightly less than absolute solitude, to work exclusion, to persecution, to prison or death."  - Harold Cepero Escalante

Remembering two heroes across social media with 2 candles and the "L" sign
The Christian Liberation Movement is organizing a series of observances in Cuba, the United States and Spain to pay tribute to the lives of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante who died under suspicious circumstances on July 22, 2012.

They are also calling for all their friends in Cuba and around the world to take part in a social media campaign: "That their light never be extinguished in us. Hope is credited for every candle lit our HEROES." The campaign is already underway and they are posting pictures of those participating on their website.

Marc Masferrer of Uncommon Sense and John Suarez of Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter are also promoting the initiative:
The Christian Liberation Movement is calling for friends of the movement to remember the two martyred human rights defenders in an online campaign taking photos with two candles lit while making the sign of Liberation as in the picture above: "We ask all of our Cuban friends and friends of the world to join us in remembering Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero between now and next July 22 taking pictures with two candles and the sign of Liberation, the sign of the Freedom of Cuba, for which they generously gave their lives." - Regis Iglesias Ramirez, Christian Liberation Movement spokesperson in Europe, over Facebook
Please take five minutes of your time to pay homage to these two nonviolent human rights defenders and demonstrate your support for their values and cause, and if you are in Madrid, Miami, or Havana on July 22, 2014 consider joining in observing the two year anniversary of their physical passing. 

Social media campaign launched by Regis Iglesias of the Christian Liberation Movement

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"13 de Marzo" Tugboat Massacre 20 Years Later: Actions Taken in Memory of the 37 Victims

"State crimes are never an issue exclusive to the families of the victims." - Rosa Maria Payá over twitter, July 10, 2014 

Totalitarian regimes, such as the one in Cuba, depend on their survival by rewriting history and engaging in a society wide amnesia of their great crimes. In the case of the July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" tugboat sinking that claimed 37 lives the Castro regime has failed and the memory of this crime has endured as have the calls for justice. Below are just some of the actions carried out to remember and demand justice.

Twenty minutes of silence for 20 years without justice: Silent Vigil on July 13 at 3:00pm

The Free Cuba Foundation made a global call  for people of good will to hold a twenty minute moment of silence asking: "Please share and encourage friends wherever they are on July 13, 2014 at 3pm to join in a 20 minute moment of silence. Gather in a group or individually and take a photo at the end of the vigil holding up the above image calling for justice or whatever you have at hand. "  On Sunday at 3:00pm members of the Free Cuba Foundation gathered at the main fountain at Florida International University
[Facing the Library] 11200 SW 8th Street, Miami, FL for a twenty minute silent vigil. For more information visit their facebook page.

"Lights of Liberty Flotilla in Commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Massacre of the "13 de Marzo" Tugboat Sinking

In the Florida Straits and in Miami the Democracy Movement organized a flotilla on Saturday, July 12, 2014 called the "Lights of Liberty Flotilla in Commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Massacre of the "13 de Marzo" tugboat sinking that left Key West from the Key West City Bight Marina and traveled to 12 miles off the coast of Cuba on Saturday, July 12, 2014 and held a ceremony in memory of the victims of the massacre and others murdered by Castroism and launched powerful lights of freedom, which were seen from Havana and other points of Cuba. Inside Cuba, members of the opposition and the Democracy Movement drew near to the Malecon and other points on the coast with candles and flowers throwing them into the sea and saw the "Lights of Freedom" launched by the flotilla. For more information visit their facebook page and official web site.

Mothers and Women Against Repression (MAR) will Remember Victims of the "13 de Marzo" Tugboat Massacre

On Sunday July 13, 2014- the twentieth anniversary of this crime against humanity. - MAR for Cuba held a rosary for the victims of the"13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre, on the grounds of the Cuban Memorial Monument, that is located on Coral Way & SW 112 Avenue, at 10 AM, after which a wreath of flowers was be deposited in their memory. For more information visit their website.

Collective Action "A light for mine" in tribute to victims of the "13 de Marzo"tugboat and all Cubans who've lost their lives at sea at dusk on July 12, 2014

Estado de Sats and For Another Cuba called for an international campaign. The collective action A light for mine” was a tribute to the victims of the tugboat “13 de Marzo” and all Cubans who have lost their lives at sea, trying to escape a suffocating reality during 54 years.  It is also a tribute to the Cuban family and a call to hope and spiritual rebuilding of our nation. On July 12 on the eve of the anniversary, at  dusk Cubans, everywhere in the world, lit candles in front of the ocean , bridges, lakes, rivers, on their doors, balconies or in the privacy of their homes (in this case for the repression that doubles in Cuba on this date).
For more information on the collective action visit their campaign page  or Por Otra Cuba

20th Anniversary of the abominable sinking of the "13 de Marzo" tugboat off the coast of Havana on July 13, 1994

Our Lady of Charity  (La Ermita) held a Special mass and vigil for the victims of the July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" massacre and their families and for Liberty and Justice to soon reach Cuba. After the Mass united with our brothers in the Island and in different parts of the world we held a candlelight vigil in their memory in the Sea wall of Our Lady of Charity. For more information on the Mass and vigil visit their facebook page or official website.

Human Rights Foundation and Cuban Democratic Directorate call for Twenty Minutes of Silence for Twenty Years of Impunity

The Cuban Democratic Directorate (CDD) and the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), called for a symbolic nonviolent protest action in honor of the twentieth anniversary of the murder of 37 Cuban passengers of the "13 de Marzo" Tugboat, who on July 13, 1994 were killed by agents of the Cuban government for trying to escape the island. The demonstration took place on July 10 at 12:00 noon outside the headquarters of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cuba to the United Nations (UN), located at No. 315 Lexington Avenue in New York City. Human rights activists, members of international civil society and Cuban exiles gathered in front of the embassy in order to hold twenty minutes of silence for each of the twenty years that this crime has remained unpunished.

For more information on the silent vigil visit the official announcement in English or Spanish.

CUBA: Young Leaders Group, Center for a Free Cuba and the Cuban Democratic Directorate Call for Twenty Minutes of Silence for Twenty Years of Impunity

Human rights and civil society organizations called for a symbolic nonviolent protest action in honor of the twentieth anniversary of the murder of 37 Cuban passengers of the “13 de Marzo” Tugboat, who on July 13, 1994 were killed by agents of the Cuban government for trying to escape the island. The demonstration took place on July 10 at 12:00 noon outside of the Cuban Interests Section located on 2630 16th Street NW in Washington DC. Human rights activists, members of international civil society and activists gathered in front of the Interests Section in order to hold twenty minutes of silence for each of the twenty years that this crime has remained unpunished.