Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ángel Carromero speaks to the Cuban exile community about what happened on July 22, 2012

On the third anniversary of Laura Inés Pollán Toledo's untimely death, Ángel Carromero speaks to the Cuban exile community about what happened on July 22, 2012

Ángel Francisco Carromero Barrios presented his book tonight (October 14, 2014) on the July 22, 2012 attack that killed Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and Harold Cepero Escalante. 

He was introduced at the Institute of Cuban and Cuban American Studies by Ofelia Acevedo and Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo to packed room of primarily Cuban exiles.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

No More Che Day Student Initiative

Cubans suffer the weight of the myth created by the mega-operation of intelligence of exportation called Cuban Revolution, that has turned murderers like Che Guevara into global youth icons. - Rosa María Payá Acevedo  Iberoamerican Vanguard Summit Octuber 14, 2013.

No More Che Day 2014
October 9th marks the day in 1967 when an icon of hatred and political intolerance met his end violently in the jungles of Bolivia. It is easy to understand why the dictatorship in Cuba celebrates his memory and death but it is not so easy to understand why UNESCO does. The Argentine Maoist's legacy is a lamentable one that spread death and repression across the Americas and Africa:
Che Guevara was an admirer of Mao Zedong and his formulation of guerrilla warfare is adapted from the Chinese leader. Che published influential manuals Guerrilla Warfare (1961) and Guerrilla Warfare: A Method (1963), which were based on his own experiences and partly chairman Mao Zedong's writings. Guevara stated that revolution in Latin America must come through insurgent forces developed in rural areas with peasant support. His international legacy of glorifying violence through an erroneous analysis of guerrilla warfare, based on his experiences led to bloodbaths in Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chiapas, Congo, Angola and decades of military dictatorship and political violence. Nevertheless it could have been worse. Another disciple of Mao Zedong who adapted his theories was Pol Pot, who unlike Che achieved power in 1975 after a guerrilla struggle in Cambodia. He carried out a radical revolution modeled after Mao and ended by killing 25% of the entire population of his country: Cambodia.
In 2010 the Free Cuba Foundation had as a guest speaker Félix Ismael Rodríguez, the CIA agent responsible for capturing Ernesto "Che" Guevara in Bolivia in 1967. This year we will distribute posters and fliers exposing the facts about Ernesto "Che" Guevara as part of No More Che Day organized by the Young America's Foundation that exposes who he was: 
"Che Guevara was an international terrorist and mass murderer. During his vicious campaigns to impose Communism on countries throughout Latin America, Che Guevara trained and motivated the Castro regime's firing squads that executed thousands of men, women, and children. "
We will make the case for boycotting those who use Che as an "icon" of rebellion at the same time we'll advocate rejecting the Che icon in favor of embracing more authentic figures of resistance such as Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas.

Gandhi, King and Payá: Three Resistance Icons Worth Honoring

Thursday, October 2, 2014

International Day of Nonviolence, Gandhi and the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong

"An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so. Now the law of nonviolence says that violence should be resisted not by counter-violence but by nonviolence. This I do by breaking the law and by peacefully submitting to arrest and imprisonment." - Mohandas Gandhi
Logo by Siuham Tse
Yesterday, members of the Florida International University community wore yellow and some carried an umbrella in solidarity with protesters in Hong Kong. The Umbrella Movement is nonviolent in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi. Occupy Central with Love and Peace on September 30, 2014 issued the following call to action:
 The courage, determination, peacefulness and orderliness shown by the spontaneous democratic occupy movement in Hong Kong in the past few days, have written a glorious page in the development of Hong Kong’s democracy. The Hong Kong people’s demand for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to step down and the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) to withdraw its framework for fake democracy is loud and clear. In order to consolidate the results we have achieved, the students and Occupy Central With Love and Peace (OCLP) urges all Hong Kong people to join us in guarding the main thoroughfares of our major sites of democracy: Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.
Incidentally, today is the International Day of Nonviolence, recognized as such by the United Nations in honor of Mohandas Gandhi's birthday on October 2, 1869.

Fairy sure its a montage of Gandhi with an umbrella
 The spiritual legacy of Bapu seen on the streets of Hong Kong 145 years after his birth demonstrates the continued relevance of nonviolence and hope for humanity at such a difficult time.

Showing solidarity with the Umbrella Movement at FIU
 Last  Friday, the world renown Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei opened an exhibition with seven installations called @Large Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz exploring human rights, freedom of expression and the plight of victims of repression. Among the 176 individuals he profiled in the installation Trace there is a Cuban prisoner of conscience whose name is Iván Fernández Depestre.

This should be a reminder to all people of good will that we are in this together. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. on April 16, 1963 explained it powerfully in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail:
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea.
 The people of Hong Kong are risking all for their freedom and need your solidarity. Please do what you can and take action. Below is a life feed from Occupy Central in Hong Kong, China.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

25 years after the Berlin Wall was torn down Juan Carlos González Leiva pays homage to the victims

"It's always the small people who change things. It's never the politicians or the big guys. I mean, who pulled down the Berlin wall? It was all the people in the streets. The specialists didn't have a clue the day before." - Luc Besson
Juan Carlos González Leiva at the Berlin Wall in September 2014
In West Germany the Berlin Wall was known as the "death strip." Estimates place the total number of Germans killed at greater than 200. In Eastern Germany the communist authorities called it the "Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart" (German: Antifaschistischer Schutzwall). The Wall began to be built by the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) on August 13, 1961 and was finally torn down on November 9, 1989.

Standing at The Berlin Wall Memorial before a huge remnant of the Wall along with a memorial to the victims listening to their names and how they died is a powerful experience and highly recommended. Juan Carlos González Leiva, a Cuban human rights defender, found the experience profoundly moving. More information on the Berlin Wall is available here.

Juan Carlos González Leiva at memorial for victims killed trying to cross the Wall

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Legacy of Jose Antonio Echeverria discussed at Florida International University

For more information visit the Jose Antonio Echeverria Foundation and read a reflection on the legacy of "13 de Marzo."

 "The Urban Insurrection Against Batista: The Life and Times of Jose Antonio Echeverria" at Florida International University was held on August 27, 2014 at 7:30PM in Graham Center 150 on the South Campus located on Southwest Eighth Street. Present among the scholars and academics was Lucy Echeverría, the sister of Jose Antonio Echeverria.

 It was a symposium commemorating José Antonio Echeverría's life and role in 1950s Cuba in the struggle against Fulgencio Batista. Lucy Echeverría on her brother's leadership at the University of Havana: "My brother held the presidency of the Federation of University Students (FEU) four times elected by overwhelmingly majorities. There the troubles began with Castro. As he never became president, he always kept that inside." Also of interest for scholars was how the Echeverria family rejected the Castro regime's totalitarian turn to dictatorship and how they ended up in exile by 1961.

According to Lucy, objects found in the Birthplace Museum of  José Antonio Echeverría in Cárdenas do not belong to her brother and in a televised tribute done in Cuba, the supposed parents of the martyred leaders were presented, while the real ones were already exiled in the United States.

José Antonio Echeverría addressing students

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Under Constant Threat: Antúnez and Yris

On August 20, 2014 Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" made public an open letter to Raul Castro in which he denounced fraudulent reforms, and the murders of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero in Cuba and declared that national reconciliation necessitates justice, freedom and democracy. In the video below Antúnez read aloud the letter. Further down below we reproduce a letter sent to use by the Czech NGO People in Need that lays out how Antúnez and his wife Yris are under constant threat.


From the Czech NGO, People in Need:

Dear Journalist,

Officially there is no use of torture or human rights abuses against political dissidents in Cuba. However, People in Need would like to draw your attention to the case of Jorge Luis García Pérez known as Antúnez, a Cuban dissident, who has been repeatedly arrested, beaten, had his house vandalized and has been under house arrest.

Under constant threat

Antúnez, a well-known Cuban activist, was imprisoned for 17 years from 1990 to 2007. His offense? Screaming out during a demonstration in the 90s that communism was a mistake and that Cuba was a dystopia.  

Jorge Luis García Pérez, who is better known as Antúnez and his wife Yris Perez Aguilera, were arrested last June, this time over fears that the dissident might represent a threat to the normalization of relations between Cuba and the USA. He was caught disseminating leaflets against this normalization in his home town of Placetas. The cause may have also been his repeated trips to Europe and the US, when he took the opportunity to speak about the current realities of the dissidents in Cuba.

During his last arrest in June, Antúnez claimed he was severely beaten and tortured. He admitted that he had never received such violent treatment on any of the other occasions when he was arrested. They were both released, but were immediately put under arrest again the next day. His wife and he have been unfairly arrested; extensively interrogated while in custody and their house was vandalized by the police forces.

Since then, due to international pressure, he was released from house arrest and the charges with “public disorder” against him were dropped, only to be restored shortly after: Antúnez is under house arrest again and will face charges in a coming trial.

Recently in Miami, his wife, Yris Pérez Aguilera has spoken out loud about the repression under which the dissidents find themselves on a daily basis. She also stressed the harsh reality that once back in Cuba, she will face again repression for the truths she had spoken in the USA.

We are unfortunately witnessing a rise in the wave of repression by the Cuban government dissidents, such as Antúnez and his wife, and independent journalists, like Roberto de Jesus Guerra, Martha Beatriz Roque, have been arrested or beaten by the State Police.

Antúnez is a classic example of enduring courage and resilience:

After being discriminated against by the regime’s policy towards minorities, which prevented him from growing professionally and getting the education he wanted, and being inspired by the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, he joined the Cuban opposition in the 90s. He founded Frente Nacional de Resistencia Civica Orlando Zapata Tamayo in memory of the dissident who died during a hunger strike in 2010. 

During his long years in prison, Antúnez formed a new movement to support his fellow political prisoners, called Pedro Luis Boitel after the political prisoner who died of a hunger strike in 1972. Throughout his years of imprisonment he remained firm on his positions - he refused to wear a prisoner’s uniform or to recant his ideas. Due to his defiance of the regime’s authority on several occasions, his five year sentence was extended to seventeen years.

His wife, Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera has also founded a movement, The Rosa Parks Feminist Movement for Civil Rights, which has strongly advocated for an end to repression towards peaceful human rights defenders. She has been repeatedly threatened with death and rape, beaten and jailed.

In honor of Antúnez’s and Yris Perez’s continued fight for the respect of human rights and basic freedoms in Cuba, in spite of being well aware of the risks involved, People in Need is appealing to you to share their story and make sure that their worrying situation is known.

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


Estimado periodista,

Oficialmente no hay uso de  tortura o abusos de derechos humanos contra los disidentes políticos en Cuba. Sin embargo, a People in Need le gustaría llamar su atención sobre el caso de Jorge Luis García Pérez, conocido como Antúnez, un disidente cubano, que ha sido detenido en varias ocasiones, golpeado, le han vandalisado su casa y ha estado bajo arresto domiciliario.

Bajo amenaza constante

Antunez, un conocido activista cubano, fue encarcelado durante 17 años entre 1990 y 2007. ¿Su delito? Haber gritado durante una manifestación en los años 90 que el comunismo era un error y que Cuba era una distopía. 

Jorge Luis García Pérez, más conocido como Antúnez y su esposa, Yris Pérez Aguilera, fueron detenidos el   pasado junio, esta vez por temor a que el disidente pudiese representar una amenaza para la normalización de las relaciones entre Cuba y EE.UU. Fue capturado por distribuir panfletos contra esta normalización de las relaciones en su ciudad natal, Placetas. La motivación tras su detención podría encontrarse en sus repetidos viajes a Europa y los EE.UU., en donde tuvo la oportunidad de hablar sobre la realidad actual de los disidentes en Cuba. 

Durante su última detención, en el mes de junio, Antúnez declaró haber sido golpeado y maltratado. Afirmó no haber recibido nunca un trato tan violento durante cualquiera de las otras ocasiones en que fue detenido. Ambos  fueron liberados, pero de nuevo puestos bajo arresto al día siguiente. Su esposa y él han sido detenidos injustamente y exhaustivamente interrogados durante su detención y su casa ha sido vandalizada por las fuerzas policiales.

Desde entonces, debido a la presión internacional, ha sido liberado de su arresto domiciliario y los cargos por "desorden público" en su contra han sido retirados. Aunque sólo para restaurarlos poco después: Antunez se encuentra de nuevo bajo arresto domiciliario y deberá someterse a juicio.
Recientemente en Miami, su esposa, Yris Pérez Aguilera, ha hablado en voz alta sobre la represión a las que los disidentes se ven sometidos a diario. También destacó la dura realidad de que, una vez de regreso a Cuba, se enfrentará una vez más a la represión debido a las declaraciones hechas durante su viaje por los EE.UU.

Por desgracia estamos asistiendo a un aumento de la represión por parte del Gobierno Cubano contra los disidentes, como Antúnez y su esposa, y los periodistas independientes, como Roberto de Jesús Guerra y Martha Beatriz Roque, que han sido detenidos o golpeados por la Policía Estatal. 

Antunez es un ejemplo clásico de perdurable valor y resistencia:

Después de ser discriminado por la política del régimen hacia las minorías, lo que le impidió crecer profesionalmente y conseguir la educación que él anhelaba, se unió inspirado en la caída del comunismo en Europa del Este a la oposición cubana en los años 90. Fundó el Frente Nacional de Resistencia Cívica Orlando Zapata Tamayo en la memoria del disidente que murió durante una huelga de hambre en 2010. 

Durante sus largos años de prisión, Antunez formó un nuevo movimiento para apoyar a los presos políticos, llamado Pedro Luis Boitel en memoria de este preso político que murió a causa de una huelga de hambre en 1972. A lo largo de sus años de prisión se mantuvo firme en sus posiciones - se negó a llevar un uniforme de prisionero o a renunciar a sus convicciones. Debido a su constante desafío a las autoridades del Régimen, su condena de cinco años se amplió a diecisiete años. 

Su esposa, Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, también ha fundado un movimiento, el Movimiento Feminista Rosa Parks para los Derechos Civiles, que aboga por el fin de la represión contra los defensores pacíficos de los derechos humanos. Ella ha recibido repetidas amenazas de muerte y violación, golpizas y ha sido varias encarcelada varias veces.

En honor a la lucha continua de Antunez e Yris Pérez por el respeto a los derechos humanos y las libertades fundamentales en Cuba, a pesar de ser conscientes de los riesgos involucrados, desde People in Need apelamos a vosotros para que compartáis su historia. Queremos asegurarnos de que su situación se conozca y la represión contra ellos cese.

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