Wednesday, January 28, 2015

#24F Silent Vigil for Justice at FIU

"There is no forgiveness for acts of hatred. Daggers thrust in the name of liberty are thrust into liberty's heart. " - Jose Marti

 

On February 24, 2014 at beginning at 3:21pm and ending at 3:27pm we will be holding a silent vigil to demand justice for the four victims of the 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shoot down that took place 19 years ago on that day, and for the students murdered by agents of the Maduro puppet regime in Venezuela last February, and finally in remembrance of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the Cuban hunger striker who died on February 23, 2010 after years of torture. 

Unfortunately, this year we will also be silently protesting the release of the Cuban spy Gerardo Hernandez who was serving a life sentence for conspiracy to murder Mario, Pablo, Carlos, and Armando was freed by the Obama Administration in a trade that violated the spirit of the rule of law and justice.

This vigil will be held were it has been for the past 19 years at the main fountain at Florida International University at the campus located on 107th Ave. and SW 8 St. This is an open invitation for FIU students and members of the university community.   

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Join the vigil to protest the Obama-Castro Pact

 Stand up for your rights
 
Cuban Memorial at Tamiami Park (Next to Florida International University)


Time for students to again stand up for freedom in Cuba and to denounce the freeing of Gerardo Hernandez, a Cuban spy responsible for four deaths who was serving a life sentence for conspiracy to commit murder. Sign this petition and take part in a vigil to protest the Obama-Castro pact at the Cuban Memorial in Tamiami Park on Thursday, January 22 beginning at 5:00pm organized by the Cuban Resistance Assembly, of which the Free Cuba Foundation is a member.

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was born 86 years ago today on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia and was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at the age of 39. Today we remember his words: "In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

What: Vigil to protest the Obama-Castro Pact
When: Thursday, January 22, 2015 starts at 5pm
Where: Cuban Memorial, Tamiami Park 11201 SW 24 Street, Miami, FL (Next to FIU)
Who: Organized by the Cuban Resistance Assembly

Friday, January 2, 2015

Cuba's Christian Liberation Movement leader on forgiveness and complicity

"I forgive all the past in favor of a present and future of freedom and life. Not for me but for my people." ... I do not forgive out of hate. No, no but because forgiving a present and a future of injustice and totalitarianism for your country, is not mercy but complicity with the evil of others. -
Tony" Díaz Sánchez, January 2, 2014 over Facebook


 
Tony Díaz Sánchez of the Christian Liberation Movement



Antonio Ramón "Tony" Díaz Sánchez  is the secretary general of the Cuban Christian Liberation movement, a former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience and today over Facebook he posted the following comment that has been translated below that succinctly explains what drives so many on the issue of Cuba and why we refuse to remain silent. In the statement below Tony forgives all the injustices and crimes of the past but not the ones being committed presently or new ones in the future. He argues that forgiving present and future crimes are not examples of mercy but of complicity with the one who is doing or going to do wrong. A legal definition of complicity states: "Accountable for a criminal offense committed by another due to previous knowledge of other's crime."

"Me hate ??? Wrong compadre, mistaken my friend. I forgive all I have suffered. I forgive marginalization and monitoring my family, just for not being a communist. I forgive family separation, exclusion from the university, the repression of my ideas and peaceful actions. I forgive the public defamations issued without right to reply. I forgive the unjust imprisonment and imposed mistreatment. I forgive forced exile. I forgive the vile murder of my brothers in ideas. In short, I forgive all the past in favor of a present and future of freedom and life. Not for me but for my people.
  
Because what I do not forgive is that the year has started with the same repression that ended last year. What I can not forgive is that in my country, those who govern, do not recognize the need to change to democracy and allow the people to decide in free and pluralistic elections. I can not and do not want to forgive that right now at this instant there are political prisoners in Cuba and that the existing laws guarantee their imprisonment or perhaps the firing squad for others. I do not forgive that young people are living without life projects, while a group in power live as billionaires. Nor do I forgive the complicity of many interests that seek capital now in Cuba without wanting to find out today what is happening there. 
I do not forgive out of hate. No, no but because forgiving a present and a future of injustice and totalitarianism for your country, is not mercy but complicity with the evil of others."

Oswaldo Payá (Left), Regis Iglesias (Center), Tony Díaz(Right)

Monday, December 29, 2014

To the United States government and the Castro regime we say, not in our name!

Statement by the Free Cuba Foundation in response to changes in U.S. - Cuba relations 

Silent vigil for Brothers to the Rescue shoot down victims
 

 On 17 December 2014, President Barack Obama announced a change in U.S. Cuba policy to loosen travel and economic policies and re-establish diplomatic relations. The Free Cuba Foundation believes that if the President’s objective is improved human rights and freedom for Cubans on the island, these changes reflect an alarming level of naivety and ignorance on the subject and outline a path that can actually harm the Cuban pro-democracy movement and its march towards freedom For this reason, FCF feels the need to make its position clear in the following statement.

The Free Cuba Foundation (FCF) was founded as a youth movement in 1993. Throughout its history, FCF has been a steadfast and independent voice in favor nonviolent resistance to injustice and tyranny. We have consistently spoken up for victims of the dictatorship demanding justice while advocating freedom and national reconciliation. Freedom will emerge within Cuba from the bottom up not from initiatives by the dictatorship or the United States that until now have only served to legitimize a brutal totalitarian dictatorship. Our movement follows the nonviolent path of Cuba’s internal democratic opposition in embracing the principles of strategic nonviolence. We have demonstrated our commitment to non-violence through our support of Concilio Cubano, the Varela Project and other opposition initiatives for nonviolent change that have existed in a hostile national and international environment. FCF will continue to pursue the goal of the non-violent opposition.

We agree with President Obama on one general observation from his December 17 statement, that one cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. Unfortunately the efforts of the Clinton Administration to engage the Castro dictatorship as well as loosen sanctions before and after 1996 went unmentioned in President Obama’s comments. President Clinton began joint military exercises with the Castro regime in 1994 in pursuit of normalized relations. The shoot down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes on February 24, 1996 by Castro regime MiGs which killed Armando Alejandre Jr. (age 45), Carlos Alberto Costa (age 29), Mario Manuel de la Peña (age 24), and Pablo Morales (age 29) led to the passage and signing of The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act by Congress as an alternative to military action in an election year. 


Murdered by Castro regime on February  24, 1996
 The purpose of the attack however was not to sabotage U.S.-Cuba relations, but to cover up a massive crackdown underway in Cuba at the time to crush a national gathering called Concilio Cubano and thereby crush the aspirations of Cuban democrats in the island to peacefully gather and discuss the future of their country Despite this act of state terrorism against Americans, President Bill Clinton shook hands with Fidel Castro in 2000 and loosened sanctions that opened cash and carry exports from American corporations and the Castro regime later that same year. This change in policy turned the United States into one of the top five trading partners of the Castro regime.

Economic sanctions were never designed to overthrow the dictatorship but were part of a policy of containment to prevent the spread of its totalitarian model. The rise of Hugo Chavez and the spread of Cuban influence in Venezuela began during Bill Clinton’s presidency and are now harming the entire region undermining the democratic gains of the 1980s and early 1990s. Despite this disaster the Obama Administration began in 2009 to loosen sanctions on the Cuban dictatorship. The Castro regime’s response was to take Alan Gross, a U.S. citizen hostage. The Obama administration remained very low key about Gross’s arrest, and it was 25 days before U.S. diplomats even saw this jailed American. FCF believes that this lack of concern sent a message to the dictatorship that they could continue to arbitrarily detain Gross and use him as a bargaining chip in their goals to secure the release of five Cuban spies captured in 1998. These five had not only engaged in spying on US military facilities but planned terrorist acts on U.S. soil and were criminally involved in the February 24, 1996 shoot down.

As was the case in 1996 this policy of appeasement had dire consequences for the democratic opposition in Cuba which suffered several setbacks over the next four years. Prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo died on hunger strike under suspicious circumstances in 2010; Ladies in White founder Laura Inés Pollán Toledo died from a suspicious illness in 2011; and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero died in the summer of 2012, under circumstances that point to a state security killing. Rising violence against opposition activists, including machete attacks, is a new and disturbing phenomenon.

FCF is concerned that releasing the three remaining spies, including Gerardo Hernandez who was serving two life sentences, one of them for conspiracy to murder four members of Brothers to the Rescue in exchange for Gross and an unknown Cuban intelligence operative, may lead to the Castro regime murdering more innocents inside and outside of Cuba. We also know as does the regime that due to short term economic interests that economic engagement with the dictatorship will not be seriously impacted by whatever new atrocities are committed. Additionally, the hostage demand having been met by the United States government also sets a dangerous precedent for Americans traveling abroad. Add to this the normalization of diplomatic relations and the further loosening of sanctions and the signal sent to the hardline elements within the regime is clear: operating with criminal impunity delivers results. This was the same message sent by President Clinton in 2000.

FCF and its members are disturbed by the President’s statement on December 19, 2014 that the 1996 shoot down was not a premeditated move by Castro but a “tragic circumstance." This statement was deficient on two basic points. First of all, two planes were shot down over international airspace not one as he stated in the press conference. More importantly, the president’s statement ignored both documented evidence as well as court decisions and investigations by international human rights bodies that have concluded that the attack was indeed a premeditated extrajudicial execution as demonstrated by the points below:

1) Radio communications between the MiG29 and the military base clearly show that the fighter planes were sent out before the Brothers to the Rescue aircraft arrived at the 24th parallel level, that they were searching for a specific target, and that they even decided not to attempt any warning maneuvers to make the shoot down easier for the Cuban MiG pilots. 
2) The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ conclusion stated the following:
“From the circumstances surrounding the events of 24 February 1996, from the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of lethal force applied to the civilian aircraft, from the intensity of that force, and from the way in which the authorities at the Havana military control tower congratulated the MiG-29 pilots after they had carried out their orders, the Commission finds sufficient evidence that Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, Mario De La Peña, and Armando Alejandre were arbitrarily or extrajudicially executed at the hands of agents of the Cuban State. Consequently, the Cuban State is responsible for violating the right to life, as enshrined in Article I of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.”
3) U.S. courts have also found the Castro regime guilty of premeditation in this shoot down:
A.) U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King found Cuba guilty in civil court of planning the shoot down before the actual attack, and noted that there had been ample time to issue warnings to the Brothers to the Rescue aircraft if these had been needed.
B.) A jury in criminal court presided by U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard found Miami-based Cuban spy Gerardo Hernandez guilty of conspiracy to commit murder because of his role in providing information to the Cuban government on the flight plans of Brothers to the Rescue.
C.) On August 21, 2003 a U.S. grand jury indicted the two fighter pilots and their commanding general on murder charges for the 1996 shoot down.
4) A Cuban pilot saw Cuban MiGs rehearsing the shoot down six days before.
 General Ruben Martinez Puente, Francisco Perez-Perez, Lorenzo Alberto Perez Perez who were indicted on four counts of murder, two counts of destruction of aircraft and one count of conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals in August of 2003 and Juan Pablo Roque indicted in May 1999 as a foreign agent (although he played a role in the shootdown) have yet to be pursued to the full extent of the law.

Silent vigil for Brothers to the Rescue shoot down victims
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 18 years and next year on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 3:21pm we will gather with the families of the four martyrs.




Mohandas Gandhi once observed that "Impure means lead to impure ends" and unfortunately the world may now see this theorem put into practice once again in the relations between Cuba and the United States. The day after President Obama made his statement reports emerged that Cuba’s Coast Guard had rammed and sunk a boat carrying 32 Cuban refugees. This atrocity was disturbingly reminiscent of a similar incident when, on July 13, 1994, under Bill Clinton’s watch, Cuban agents murdered 37 Cuban men, women and children attempting to escape in a tugboat.

We the present and former members of the Free Cuba Foundation say to the United States government and the Castro regime that the fruits that have emerged thus far from these negotiations point to the impure means upon which they were founded and will only lead to more grief. Therefore, with great respect we say, not in our name!

Signed by:

Brian Alonso
Grace Cuelez Droblas
Oscar Grau 
Yosvani Oliva Iglesias 
Robert Linares
Neri Ann Martinez 
Augusto Monge
Susana Navajas
Mirka Pena
Cindy Rodriguez
Raisa Romaelle
Pedro M. Ross
Juan Carlos Sanchez
Harold Alexander Silva
John Suarez
César Vásquez

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

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Three generations of the Free Cuba Foundation gathered today at Jose Marti Park for Freedom Protest

Robert Linares (FCF 2000) protesting Obama actions on Cuba
 Free Cuba Foundation is a student movement that was founded in August of 1993 and has been around for twenty years with five generations of activists passing through every four years or so. Today at a rally in Miami at Jose Marti Park activists from 1993, 1997 and 2013 gathered together to protest the decision of the Obama Administration to free three spies, including Gerardo Hernandez, found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in the untimely deaths of Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre, Jr., Mario de la Peña, and Pablo Morales. Every year since that crime was committed we have gathered on February 24 at 3:21pm to 3:27pm the time the two planes were shot down over international airspace in a silent demand for justice. Sadly, this year will also had to add the names of Venezuelan students murdered by Maduro's agents under the tutelage of Castro's state security agents.

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Brian Alonso (FCF 2013) was interviewed by  Local 10.com and spoke out against the new policy. Also in attendance was founding member and president of the organization Augusto Monge (FCF 1993) and Robert Linares (FCF 1997) who was photographed on the cover of a BBC report announcing today's protest. Below are excerpts taken from the protest of the different persons who addressed the crowd.


This movement has always been focused on the defense of human rights and advocating and setting the example taking nonviolent action in the face of injustice.

We have also continued to demand justice for the victims of the July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo"tugboat massacre in which 37 men, women and children were killed, by holding a silent vigil every year on that day. Today we were horrified to learn that yesterday news arrived that the Castro regime's coast guard may have sunk a boat carrying 32 Cubans. We are trying to ascertain additional information at this hour. 

Robert Linares (on the left) holding torch in 1997


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thank you.

"I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions." - Vaclav Havel, October 1989, accepting a peace prize 


Oppressed and captive peoples around the world owe the peoples of Eastern Europe a big thank you for their example and constant solidarity over the past 25 years. Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution that brought freedom to Czechoslovakia. Below are sounds and images from those wonderful days. Our prayers go out to all the freedom activists live Vaclav Havel who are no longer physically with us.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Latin America 2014: Students Targeted in Mexico and Venezuela

Why are they murdering the youth of Latin America?

Mexican officials say that 43 students were murdered.
Martin Luther King Jr. once observed that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and the situation today in Latin America underscores that statement and elevates it into a theorem. Twenty years ago the world ignored the massacre of 37 Cubans by government officials for the "crime" of fleeing the country in search of a better life. The majority of the victims were young people and the world for the most part remained silent.

37 murdered by Cuban government agents in 1994 of which 22 were under 30
Now in 2014 first in Venezuela in February and now in Mexico in September students have been targeted by government officials in coordination with their civilian thugs and murdered.

Youth murdered in Venezuela since February 2014 allegedly by government agents
 This leads to an obvious question. What can be done to stop this disturbing trend across Latin America?

There are at least three things that can and must be done to take action: 1) Demonstrate solidarity with the victims. 2) Denounce the crimes and call on the government authorities to hold the killers accountable and 3) Let others know what happened and what they can do. 

Join Amnesty International's campaign for the 43
Right now the situation in Mexico demands concrete attention and actions in the hopes that a resolution can quickly be reached such as:
  • Over social media there are numerous opportunities to demonstrate one's solidarity using hash tags such as: and #GlobalActionForAyotzinapa
  • In Miami on November 20, 2014 at the Mexican Consulate in downtown ( 1399 SW 1st Avenue Miami, FL 33130) join with Mexican activists in a nonviolent protest denouncing the crime while demanding justice and the return of the 43 missing students to their loved ones. Other protests are planned in Santa Ana, California; Dallas, Texas and elsewhere.
  • Signing an online letter from Amnesty International calling on the Mexican government to bring all responsible to justice, acknowledge that this is not an isolated case, and for the government to uphold 2012 commitment to eradicate torture and ill treatment of all detainees.
  • Writing opeds, letters to the editor, spreading the word over social media on the internet in order that others may take concrete action on behalf of these 43 students.
The human rights situation around the world has been deteriorating for the past decade and remaining passive before this reality is leading to an unacceptable body count and needs to be confronted. Time to take a stand now.

We stand in solidarity with people of Mexico demanding answers about the 43 "disappeared" students.