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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Twenty years ago today the Agreement for Democracy in Cuba was signed by 33 organizations at Florida International University

Twenty years ago today, 57 groups from inside and outside the island signed The Agreement for Democracy in Cuba. The Free Cuba Foundation signed The Agreement on February 20, 1998 at Florida International University at an event attended by 33 Cuban exile organizations. A total of 57 organizations (33 in the diaspora and 24 inside Cuba) signed this document that remains relevant today. Below is the text translated to English.

Agreement for Democracy in Cuba

We, Cubans conscious of the need for transcendental change in the political, social and economic structures of our country, gather, beyond our diverse strategies for liberation, to affirm before our people and the international community the essential postulates that substantiate the democratic alternative to the despotism which currently prevails in our homeland.

We affirm that the Cuban nation is one, within the national territory and in diaspora. We believe that all Cubans have the right to be equal before the law and the nation, with full dignity that cannot be subject to any discrimination. We likewise understand that the present regime has shown itself incapable of assuring liberty and justice and of promoting well-being and human solidarity in our homeland. Due to this, from this point forward, we establish, through a great national consensus and as a clear alternative to the current oppression, this: Agreement for Democracy in Cuba.
 
We recognize as the fundamental principle of the new Republic that Cuba is one and independent, whose sovereignty resides in the people and functions through the effective exercise of representative multi-party democracy, which is the government of the majority with absolute respect for the minority.

All governments must respect the sovereignty of the people, therefore, at the end of the current tyrannical regime, the provisional or transition government shall be obligated to return sovereignty to the people by way of the following measures:
  1. Guarantee the people’s participation in the decisions of the nation through the exercise of universal, direct, and secret voting to elect its representatives, and the right to seek public office.
  2. Immediately issue a general amnesty for the liberation of all political prisoners, including those who have been sentenced for fictitious common crimes, and cancel the pending political cases against Cubans in exile, so as to facilitate their return to the homeland and their reintegration into the national society.
  3. Organize an independent, impartial, and professional judiciary.
  4. Recognize and protect the freedom of expression, of the press, of association, of assembly, of peaceful demonstration, profession, and religion.
  5. Protect the Cuban people from arbitrary expulsion from their homes as well as against all forms of detention, search, confiscation or arbitrary aggression, and from violation of their correspondence, documents and other communications, and defend all Cubans’ rights to privacy and honor.
  6. Immediately legalize all political parties and other organizations and activities of civil society.
  7. Refer to the Constitution of 1940, when applicable, during the transition period and convoke free elections with the supervision of international organizations within a time period not greater than one year, for a Constituent Congress which will establish a Constitution and which, during its existence, shall have authority to legislate as well as to oversee the executive. Having thus achieved democratic legitimacy, it shall call general elections in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
  8. Recognize and protect the freedom of economic activity; the right to private property; the right to unionize, to bargain collectively and to strike; the Cuban people’s right to genuine participation in their economic development; access to public health and education, and initiate the reestablishment of civic values in education.
  9. Take immediate steps to protect Cuba’s environmental security and protect and rescue the national patrimony.
  10. Propitiate and guarantee the professionalism and political neutrality of the Armed Forces and create forces of public order whose rules of conduct shall adjust to the principles of this Agreement.
Cuba shall resurrect from its own ashes, but it is the sacred obligation of all Cubans – both within the oppressed island and in diaspora – to place our hands on the plough without looking backwards but rather into the deepest part of our hearts, to convert those ashes into fertile seeds of love and creation. Now, as 100 years ago, our national aspiration remains the construction of a Republic based on the formula of triumphant love:

WITH ALL AND FOR THE GOOD FOR ALL


Signed February 20, 1998 at Florida International University.



ACCIÓN CIVICA CUBANA 
José Luis Pujol

ACCIÓN DEMOCRÁTICA CUBANA 
Juan Carlos Acosta

AGENDA:CUBA 
Pedro L. Solares

ALIANZA CUBANA 
José Pérez Linares

ALIANZA DE JÓVENES CUBANOS 
Ana M. Carbonell

ASOCIACIóN INTEGRAL MAMBISA 
Pedro Luis Ferro

COORDINADORA INTERNACIONAL DE EX-PRISIONEROS POLÍTICOS CUBANOS Guillermo Rivas-Porta

COORDINADORA SOCIAL DEMÓCRATA 
Dr. Lino B. Fernández

COMITÉ CUBANO PRO DERECHOS HUMANOS 
Dr. Ricardo Bofill

CUBAN AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION 
Andrés García

CUBA DEMOCRATIQUE 
Lázaro Jordana

CUBA INDEPENDIENTE Y DEMOCRÁTICA (CID) 
Húber Matos

DIRECTORIO REVOLUCIONARIO DEMOCRÁTICO CUBANO 
Juan Fernandez de Castro y Orlando Gutiérrez

EX-CLUB (ASOC.DE EX-PRISIONEROS Y COMBATIENTES POLÍTICOS CUBANOS) 
Rolando Borges

EX-CONFINADOS POLITICOS DE LA UMAP 
Francisco García

FREE CUBA FOUNDATION 
John Suárez

FRENTE NACIONAL DEL PRESIDIO POLITICO CUBANO 
Rufino Alvarez

GRUPO DE TRABAJO DE LA DISIDENCIA INTERNA 
Ruth C. Montaner

HERMANOS AL RESCATE 
José Basulto

LA ROSA BLANCA 
Dr. Rafael Díaz-Balart

M.A.R. POR CUBA 
Sylvia G. Iriondo

MOVIMIENTO DEMOCRACIA 
Ramón Saúl Sánchez

MUNICIPIOS DE CUBA EN EL EXILIO 
Roberto Pereda

MOVIMIENTO 30 DE NOVIEMBRE FRANK PAÍS 
Israel Abreu Villareal

MUJER CUBANA 
Estela Rose

MUJERES LUCHADORAS POR LA DEMOCRACIA 
María Márquez

ORGANIZACIONES CUBANAS UNIDAS DE LA ZONA NORTE (OCU)

PARTIDO INDEPENDENTISTA CUBANO 
Alberto Martínez Echenique

PARTIDO ACCIÓN NACIONALISTA 
Sergio Ramos

(Representación en el exterior) PARTIDO SOCIAL DEMÓCRATA CUBANO 
Tony Santiago

PRESIDIO POLITICO HISTORICO CUBANO - CASA DEL PRESO 
Luis González Infante

PUENTE DE JOVENES PROFESIONALES CUBANOS 
Dr. Nicolás Gutiérrez

UNIÓN LIBERAL CUBANA 
Carlos Alberto Montaner

Original Spanish text follows:

Acuerdo por la Democracia en Cuba

Nosotros, cubanos conscientes de la necesidad de un cambio trascendente en las estructuras políticas, sociales y económicas de nuestro país, nos juntamos más allá de nuestras estrategias en favor de la liberación para afirmar ante nuestro pueblo y la comunidad internacional los postulados esenciales que substancien la alternativa democrática al despotismo que impera actualmente en nuestra patria.

Afirmamos que la nación cubana es una sola, en el territorio nacional y en la diáspora. Creemos que todos los cubanos tenemos el derecho a ser iguales ante la ley y la nación, con dignidad plena que no puede ser sometida a ninguna discriminación. Entendemos, asimismo, que el presente régimen se ha mostrado incapaz de asegurar la libertad y la justicia y de promover el bienestar general y la solidaridad humana en nuestra patria. Por eso desde ahora establecemos, mediante un gran consenso nacional y como una clara alternativa a la opresión actual, este

Acuerdo por la Democracia en Cuba

Reconocemos como principio fundamental de la Nueva República que Cuba es una e independiente, cuya soberanía reside en el pueblo y funciona mediante el ejercicio efectivo de la democracia representativa pluripartidista, que es el gobierno de la mayoría con respeto absoluto a la minoría.

Todo gobierno tiene que respetar la soberanía del pueblo, por tanto, al fin del régimen tiránico actual, el gobierno provisional o de transición tendrá la obligación de devolverle la soberanía al pueblo mediante las siguientes medidas:

  1. Garantizar la participación del pueblo en las decisiones de la nación, a través del ejercicio del sufragio universal directo y secreto para elegir a sus representantes y el derecho a postularse para cargos públicos.
  2. Promulgar de inmediato una amnistía general para la liberación de todos los presos políticos, incluyendo a aquellos condenados por falsos delitos comunes, y cancelar las causas políticas pendientes contra los cubanos exiliados, para facilitar su regreso a la patria y su reincorporación a la vida nacional.
  3. Organizar un poder judicial independiente, imparcial y profesional.
  4. Reconocer y proteger la libertad de expresión, de prensa, de asociación, de reunión, de manifestación pacífica, de profesión y religión.
  5. Amparar a los cubanos contra todo tipo de desalojo arbitrario de sus viviendas así como contra toda detención, registro, allanamiento, confiscación o agresión arbitraria, y contra la violación de su correspondencia, documentos, y otras comunicaciones y defender el derecho de todos a la intimidad y el honor.
  6. Legalizar de inmediato a todos los partidos políticos y demás organizaciones y actividades de la sociedad civil.
  7. Referirse a la Constitución de 1940, en lo aplicable, durante el período de transición y convocar a elecciones libres con la supervisión de organismos internacionales, en un plazo no mayor de un aqo, para un Congreso Constituyente que establezca una Constitución y que durante su existencia pueda legislar y fiscalizar al Ejecutivo. Lograda así la legitimidad democrática, convocará a elecciones generales según establezca la Constitución.
  8. Reconocer y proteger la libertad de gestión económica; el derecho a la propiedad privada; la libertad sindical; el derecho al convenio colectivo y a la huelga; el derecho a la participación real del pueblo cubano en el desarrollo económico; y el acceso a la salud y la educación públicas e iniciar el reestablecimiento de los valores cívicos en la misma.
  9. Tomar con urgencia medidas para proteger la seguridad medioambiental y proteger y rescatar el patrimonio nacional.
  10. Propiciar y garantizar la profesionalidad, dignidad y neutralidad política de las Fuerzas Armadas y crear cuerpos de orden público cuyas normas de conducta se ajusten a los principios de este Acuerdo.

Cuba resurgirá de sus propias cenizas, pero es obligación sagrada de todos los cubanos - tanto de los que viven en la isla oprimida como en la diáspora - poner las manos en el arado sin mirar atrás sino a lo más profundo de nuestros corazones, para convertir las cenizas en semilla fecunda de amor y creación. Ahora, como hace 100 aqos, nuestra aspiración nacional continúa siendo construir una República basada en la fórmula del amor triunfante:

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Silent Vigil for Justice at FIU on February 26th for Brothers to the Rescue shootdown martyrs

"To forget the victims means to kill them a second time. So I couldn't prevent the first death. I surely must be capable of saving them from a second death." -  Elie Wiesel
What:   Vigil for BTTR shoot down victims 
When:  Gather Monday, February 26, 2017 @ 3pm Vigil starts 3:21pm
Where: Main Fountain
             Florida International University 
             11200 South West 8th Street Miami, FL 

Vigil hosted at the main fountain at Florida International University between 3:21pm and 3:27pm the times that two Brothers to the Rescue planes were destroyed by air-to-air missiles fired by Cuban MiGs as they flew through international airspace searching for rafters. 

Family members and friends of Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, Mario De La Peña and Armando Alejandre Jr. will be in attendance. This event is for FIU students and members of the FIU Community and has been held annually since 1996. 

Fact Sheet on February 24, 1996 Brothers to the Rescue Shoot down 

February 24, 1996 shoot down was an act of state terrorism that blew two civilian aircraft out of the sky with air to air missiles while in international airspace after regime planned the act months beforehand with its espionage network in the United States.
 
 FACT 1: By definition: Terrorism is the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear)
http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=terrorism  


FACT 2: 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.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights September 29, 1999 Report on the Merits http://www.cidh.org/annualrep/99eng/Merits/Cuba11.589.htm

FACT 3: 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.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights September 29, 1999 Report on the Merits http://www.cidh.org/annualrep/99eng/Merits/Cuba11.589.htm

FACT 4: In Alejandre v. Republic of Cuba, 996 F.Supp. 1239 (S.D.Fla. 1997), a federal district court awarded the families of three of the four occupants of the “ Brothers to the Rescue” planes shot down by Cuba in 1996 a total of $187.7 million in damages against Cuba.

Lawsuits Against State Supporters of Terrorism: An Overview by Jennifer K. Elsea http://www.law.umaryland.edu/marshall/crsreports/crsdocuments/RS22094_06232005.pdf

FACT 5: WASP spy network was involved. One of the “illegal officers” (Gerardo Hernandez) was convicted of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder based on his role in the February 24, 1996, shoot-down of two unarmed civilian aircraft in international airspace by Cuban Air Force jet fighters, which resulted in the deaths of four people, three of them U.S. citizens.

Department of Justice on Obama Commutations
http://www.justice.gov/pardon/obama-commutations#dec152014

FACT 6: Brothers to the Rescue had spotted and saved thousands of rafters in the Florida Straits and was engaged in such a mission on that day. The one plane that skirted the boundary briefly was the only one to return. The other two were shotdown miles away from Cuba’s boundary having never entered or touched it on that day and the planes had been in contact with the Cuban tower throughout the flight.

ICAO Resolution on February 24 shootdown http://www.icao.int/icao/en/nr/1996/pio199606_e.pdf

FACT 7: On July 26, 1996 the United Nations Security Council: "Noting that the unlawful downing of two civil aircraft on 24 February by the Cuban Air Force violated the principle that States must refrain from using weapons against airborne civil aircraft, the Security Council this afternoon condemned such use as being incompatible with the rules of customary international law "

ICAO Resolution on February 24 shootdown 
http://www.icao.int/icao/en/nr/1996/pio199606_e.pdf

FACT 8: Ana Belen Montes, the US intelligence community's top analyst on Cuban affairs had throughout a sixteen-year career at the Defense Intelligence Agency sent the Cuba intelligence service sensitive and secret information and helped to shape US opinion on Cuba. Investigation against her was triggered by her odd behavior before and after the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down. On September 21 2001 Ana Belen Montes was arrested and subsequently charged with Conspiracy to Commit Espionage for the government of Cuba. Montes eventually pleaded guilty to spying, and in October, 2002, she was sentenced to a 25-year prison term followed by 5 years of probation.

True Believer: Inside the Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, Cuba's Master Spy http://www.amazon.com/True-Believer-Inside-Investigation-Capture/dp/1591141001

FACT 9: On December 27, 2010 and again in a January 19, 2011 clarification the defense of Cuban spy-master Gerardo Hernandez acknowledged that "there was overwhelming evidence that the 1996 shoot-down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes occurred in international airspace, not Cuban territory."

The Miami Herald: Cuban spymaster now claims Brothers to the Rescue shooting was outside Cuban airspace by Jay Weaver December 27, 2010 http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2010-12-27/news/fl-cuba-spy-20101227_1_cuban-government-gerardo-hernandez-jose-basulto

FACT 10: On December 17, 2014 President Barack Obama commuted Gerardo Hernandez’s two life sentences and returned him along with two other spies jailed for crimes in the United States to Cuba where they were received with a hero’s welcome in what is an immense propaganda victory for the Castro regime.

Department of Justice on Obama Commutations
http://www.justice.gov/pardon/obama-commutations#dec152014 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Obama era witch-hunt against Hispanic New Jersey Senator who dissented over Iran, Cuba policies ends

Politically motivated witch-hunt by Obama Administration against Democrat Senator who opposed him on Cuba and Iran policy ends. 

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey vindicated
On July 31, 2018 the U.S. Justice Department dropped its case against Senator Robert Menendez bringing to an end a four year long witch-hunt following a mistrial back in November 2017.

Democrats talk a lot about Russian strongman Vladimir Putin ordering the hacking of the 2016 elections, but are very quiet about Cuba's Castro dictatorship smearing a sitting Cuban American Democratic Senator in order to sideline him from taking part in the policy debate on Cuba in early 2014 as the leading Democrat in the Senate Foreign Relation Committee. 

Despite the Central Intelligence Agency having credible evidence that the Castro regime's intelligence service was behind the smear the Obama Justice Department refused to pursue that line of investigation, even "though those allegations [against Senator Menendez] didn't pan out."
The alleged Cuba connection was laid out in an intelligence report provided last year to U.S. government officials and sent by secure cable to the FBI’s counterintelligence division, according to the former official and a second person with close ties to Menendez who had been briefed on the matter. The intelligence information indicated that operatives from Cuba’s Directorate of Intelligence helped create a fake tipster using the name “Pete Williams,” according to the former official.
These facts were inconvenient to the Obama's Administration, then secret drive, to normalize relations with the Castro regime which became public on December 17, 2014.

Three and a half years later the new U.S. - Cuba policy of the Obama Administration has yielded negative results with the Castro regime legitimized and strengthened internationally, causing more harm in Latin America generally, and in Venezuela particularly. Two dozen American diplomats have been seriously harmed in Havana and the embassy shuttered.

Senator Menendez is a profile in courage who confronted the leader of his own party, on what he knew to be great errors in policy in Iran and Cuba that harmed the people of those two countries nd undermined U.S. national interests.

This is in stark contrast to Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has spent a long career as an apologist for dictatorships, even when it endangered American lives.''

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Jeff Flake says President sounds like Stalin but Senator Flake backed South Africa's Apartheid Regime, backs Castro regime

Flake defends free speech in the U.S. while backing some of the worse predators of the press abroad.

Free societies need a vigorous and strong free press. Unfortunately today in the Senate, Senator Jeff Flake compared Trump's treatment of the press with Josef Stalin. Let us be clear. In Soviet Russia, under Stalin, there was no free Russian press and 25-50 million were murdered by the Russian tyrant.

Walter Duranty of The New York Times in the Soviet Union published fake news to curry the favor of Stalin's regime covering up the genocide of millions of Ukranians in the 1930s. It is ironic that Senator Flake would mention Stalin. These ethical and professional lapses of journalists do more harm to the free press then American politicians criticizing them.

Senator Flake backed the Apartheid Regime in South Africa, the Castro Regime in Cuba and claims to be motivated by conscience. These regimes have more in common with Stalin then the President.

Jeff Flake shakes hands with Castro regime VP, Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel
Sadly, Senator Flake's track record of shilling for Stalinist regimes has consequences. He is a long time friend of the Castro dictatorship, echoing regime talking points, and now in 2018 on the attacks that harmed 24 U.S. diplomats in Havana, Cuba between 2016 and 2017 with injuries that included mild brain trauma, to provide cover for the communist dictatorship, at the expense of getting at the truth of how these Americans were harmed. The Castro regime has a long track record of harming U.S. interests, including trying to smuggle war planes and missiles to North Korea in 2013. This did not deter Senator Flake's drive to embrace the communist regime in Cuba.

However the Senator's embrace of totalitarian regimes spans the ideological divide.

Think Progress reported on then Congressman Jeff Flake's defense of the racist Apartheid regime in South Africa in the late 1980s.
In 1987, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) — then a lobbyist for a Namibian uranium mine — testified before the Utah State Senate in support of a resolution backing the apartheid government in South Africa. Flake, a sixth-term GOP congressman and current Arizona senate candidate, opposed sanctions on the segregationist Botha government — largely to support U.S. interests in the mineral rich region.
Defending a free press is important, but the Arizona Senator embraced two regimes that systematically gutted the press in the pursuit of a communist agenda in Cuba and a racist agenda in South Africa. He is the last person who should talk of "conscience" while defending regimes that murder their own people and silence nonviolent dissent.

This may also explain why Senator Flake is leaving the Senate with only 18% support in his home state of Arizona.

Friday, January 12, 2018

One year ago today the Obama Administration closed the door to Cuban trafficking victims

Setting the record straight

Closing the door on Cuban victims of human trafficking.
 Florida Keys News reported on December 22, 2017 that "[f]or the second time in three months, Cuban migrants made landfall in the Florida Keys this week." This blog also documented Cubans trying to reach the United States in May of 2017. According to Elena Toledo writing in the PanAm Post 15,135 Cubans were declared “inadmissible” in the United States in 2017 and 14,037 Cubans were rejected from entering through Laredo, Texas alone. According to the Miami Herald, 15,410 Cubans entered the United States in fiscal year 2017.

These draconian measures are the result of an order issued by the Obama Administration one year ago today. The Office of the Press Secretary at The White House on January 12, 2017 released a "Statement by the President on Cuban Immigration Policy" that did two concrete things: further restricted the Cuban Adjustment Act and ended the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program.

President Obama ended programs protecting Cubans to placate Castro
The Obama administration secretly negotiated with the Castro regime, and did not consult with Congress, in restricting the Cuban Adjustment Act which is US law. This is the second time that it has happened. From 1966 until 1995 The Cuban Adjustment meant that if a Cuban touched US territorial waters the Coast Guard would pick them up and take them to shore and they would obtain residency. Bill Clinton in 1995 reinterpreted the law to mean that Cubans had to touch land (dry feet) or be deported if caught in the water (wet feet). Now Obama has re-interpreted the law a step further saying that he will deport all Cubans who arrive in the US without a visa. This is a narrower interpretation of the law by the Executive branch without consulting with Congress.




President Barack Obama on January 12, 2017 also shut the door on Cuban medical doctors, in third countries, victims of trafficking. Months earlier the Obama Administration  politicized the Trafficking in Persons Report of the State Department, undermining its credibility. This was done by the White House to placate long standing demands of the Castro regime and to whitewash the dictatorship's terrible record on human trafficking. Consider the following:

In 2006 the case of Cuban workers forced to work 112 hours a week for 3 cents an hour in Curaçao made the news. Workers had been unpaid; their compensation was deducted from Cuba’s debt to the Curaçao Drydock Company.

In 2008 The Miami Herald reported that "more than 31,000 Cuban health workers -- most of them doctors -- who toil in 71 countries brought in $2.3 billion last year, ..., more than any other industry, including tourism."

Medical doctors trafficked for the profit of the Castro regime.
The Obama State Department's last TIP report (2016) despite trying to minimize the Cuban governments involvement in human trafficking affirmed that "Cuba is a source and destination country for adults and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Child sex trafficking and child sex tourism occur within Cuba." Furthermore reported on how the Castro regime "uses some high school students in rural areas to harvest crops and does not pay them for their work but claims this work is not coerced."

Not mentioned in either the 2015 or 2016 TIP reports are the killings of fleeing refugees in December of 2014 and April of 2015. On December 16, 2014 the Cuban coastguard ram and sank a boat with 32 refugees, one of them, Diosbel Díaz Bioto, was killed. Yuriniesky Martínez Reina (age 28) was shot in the back and killed by state security chief Miguel Angel Río Seco Rodríguez in the Martí municipality of Matanzas, Cuba on April 9, 2015 for peacefully trying to leave Cuba. A group of young men were building a boat near Menéndez beach to flee the island, when they were spotted trying to leave and were shot at.

Yuriniesky Martínez Reina shot and killed on April 9, 2015
Kimberly A. McCabe in her book "The Trafficking of Persons: National and International Responses" wrote the following on Cuba and human trafficking:

"Cuba is a source country for women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced child labor and has been identified as a destination for sex tourism. Cuban adults and children are also trafficked for forced labor in commercial agriculture, such as tobacco farming. There are also reported cases of Cubans being trafficked to the United States for debt bondage. Cuba's thriving sex trade caters to thousands of tourists every year from Europe, Latin America, and North America and involves not only the young boys and girls who are victims of abuse but also the state-run hotel workers, cab drivers, and police officers who may identify the commercial sex areas for those interested in participating in sexual exploitation. 

Months after the door was closed to Cuban doctors in third countries, to placate the Castro regime, The New York Times in a September 29, 2017 article titled "Cuban Doctors Revolt: ‘You Get Tired of Being a Slave’" exposed the Castro regime's trafficking in medical professionals.

"In a rare act of collective defiance, scores of Cuban doctors working overseas to make money for their families and their country are suing to break ranks with the Cuban government, demanding to be released from what one judge called a “form of slave labor.” Thousands of Cuban doctors work abroad under contracts with the Cuban authorities. Countries like Brazil pay the island’s Communist government millions of dollars every month to provide the medical services, effectively making the doctors Cuba’s most valuable export."
Closing the door on thousands of Cuban medical doctors and dooming them to be exploited by a military dictatorship so that regime elites can cash in on billions of dollars was a decision taken by the outgoing Obama Administration on January 12, 2017. It is important to remember and observe this lamentable statement by President Obama on Cuban migration one year later.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Free Cuba Foundation in solidarity with Russian human rights defender Oyub Titiev calls for his freedom

Free Oyub Titiev

Human rights defender Oyub Titiev wrongfully jailed

We learned today that Oyub Titiev, the head of the Russian human rights group Memorial in Grozny (Chechnya), was detained on fabricated charges.  Human Rights Watch provided the following background information on this wrongfully detained human rights activist.

This morning, Chechen authorities arrested activist Oyub Titiev, who works as the Chechnya office director at a leading Russian rights group, Memorial Human Rights Center.

Titiev, born 1957, took over for Memorial in Chechnya after the kidnapping and murder of his colleague, Natalia Estemirova in 2009. In recent years, he received many threats aimed at making him quit human rights work. Now, his life and safety are in jeopardy. Seven hours after his arrest, Chechnya’s interior ministry confirmed they took him into custody, allegedly on suspicion of a drug-related crime.

At about 10:30 a.m. a witness saw five to six police officials stop and search Titiev’s car by the Khumyk river bridge, not far from the town of Kurchaloi. The officials then took Titiev to the Kurchaloi district police department. When a lawyer from Memorial arrived at the police department that afternoon, an officer refused to let him in, claiming Titiev wasn’t on the premises. Another police officer, however, admitted off the record that they had Titiev in custody. At about 5 p.m., Chechnya’s deputy interior minister informed Russia’s federal ombudsperson, in response to her inquiry, that Kurchaoi police had detained Titiev. Around that time, Titiev’s lawyer was admitted to the station, and local police told him his client was being charged with unlawful drug possession.

Framing people for drug crimes has become an increasingly frequent tactic used by Chechnya’s authorities to punish and discredit their critics in the eyes of conservative Chechen society. In summer 2014, a court in Chechnya sentenced local activist Ruslan Kutaev to four years in jail on fabricated, politically motivated drug charges after he criticized and disobeyed an order by Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov. In fall 2016, another Chechen court sentenced journalist Zhalaudi Geriev to three years in prison on similarly fraudulent drug charges. Geriev worked for the Caucasian Knot, a Russian media portal which was critical of Chechnya’s leadership and had covered Kutaev’s case. Both men were tortured in police custody. Kutaev was released on parole at the end of 2017. Geriev remains behind bars.
The Free Cuba Foundation owes a debt to Russian human rights groups who back on September 22, 1997 demonstrated their solidarity with Cuban political prisoners. Xavier Utset, president of the Free Cuba Foundation, traveled to Russia and successfully obtained support from Russian organizations and political leaders for Cuban prisoners of conscience.

Members of Russian civil society addressed letters to the Cuban Minister of the Interior requesting that "any charges brought in connection with attempts to peacefully exercise their right to freedom of expression and travel be dropped, and that they be released immediately." This letter is signed by Anatoly Shabad, Deputy of the 5th State Duma Russian Federation. A. Smirnov, Director, of the Moscow Research Center for Human Rights requested that "proper medical attention be given." I.L. Ponomarev, Co-chairman of the movement "Democratic Russia" stated that "access to a lawyer of their choice be granted. "The support of Memorial and the Radical party (principally), has been crucial for the massive expansion in Russia of interest for Cuban political prisoners."

The Memorial Human Rights Foundation has a long track record of defending human rights in an increasingly dangerous environment.  The authorities in Chechnya have a pattern of politically motivated prosecutions, using criminal charges as a cover to lock up human rights defenders. Based on the above facts, we demand that Oyub Titiev be immediately freed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

FCF Coordinator debates "Have Obama's Cuba gains unravelled?" on TRT World's The Newsmakers

"There are genuinely few times that I can say I debated an unapologetic supporter of the Castro regime. This is one of them." - John Suarez

FCF's John Suarez debates Robert Miller of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign
On Monday October 9, 2017 The Newsmakers, the "flagship current affairs programme, featuring in-depth reports and interviews with the drivers of the biggest stories of the week" for TRT World taped a program on the ongoing diplomatic crisis in Cuba. The two guests were John Suarez, of the Free Cuba Foundation and Robert Miller, of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign. The Cuba Solidarity Campaign's unapologetic claims that Cuba is a democracy are even more troubling when one takes into account that Jeremy Corbyn is a long time member. Following the debate John shared the following observation: "There are genuinely few times that I can say I debated an unapologetic supporter of the Castro regime. This is one of them."

Please share with friends and encourage them to comment. Mr. Miller claims that a majority of Americans and Cuban Americans favor the former Obama Administration's Cuba policy.