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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Trump opens chasm between himself and Hillary Clinton on Cuba policy

Obama's Cuba policy to be judged by Cuban Americans at the ballot box

Democrat Hillary Clinton versus Republican Donald Trump

Cuban American voters now have a choice not an echo on Cuba policy in the 2016 Presidential election

Cuban American voters now potentially have a reason to turn out in record numbers in the 2016 presidential election. Republican GOP nominee Donald Trump yesterday in Miami announced that he would reverse Obama’s Cuba policy if the Castro regime did not meet his demands that “include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners.”

For the first time ever in a presidential election both major party candidates were backing normalizing relations with the Castro regime. This position would have hurt Republicans more than Democrats because part of their base of Cuban American voters, in Hialeah for example, are working class and vote Republican out of their anti-communism, not economic interests. Until yesterday Cuba policy was going to be a wash in the 2016 presidential election with both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump supporting Obama's failed Cuba policy.

 “The last time there was a clear choice, a referendum, on U.S. Cuba policy took place between two presidential candidates in 1980, where Jimmy Carter decided to open the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, lifted the travel embargo on Cuba and began direct negotiations with the Castro regime only to be defeated by Ronald Reagan who promised to reverse the policy,” explained Augusto Monge, co founding member of the Free Cuba Foundation. Augusto, also observed that “As in 1980, like today in 2016, the fruits of the normalization policy with the Castro regime are decidedly rotten. The human rights situation in the island has worsened; the regime's subversive influence in Latin America expanded threatening democratic governments friendly to the United States.”

"Cuban American voters who care about a free Cuba now have a clear and contrasting choice not an echo on Cuba policy in this election,” said FCF member John Suarez who added “let us not forget that President Obama along with his GOP adversaries in 2008 and again in 2012 backed maintaining economic sanctions until political prisoners were freed and the fundamental human rights of the Cuban people respected.  This position was also held by previous winning Democratic nominee Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 who did well among Cuban American voters. Once they entered office and no longer had to worry about getting elected then they took on policies unpopular with their Cuban American constituents. This places Hillary Clinton in a disadvantageous position among Cuban-America voters in South Florida. She might want to join Donald Trump and reconsider her position on U.S. – Cuba policy.”

This new contrast over Cuba will test the FIU poll of Miami Cubans that claims strong support for Obama's Cuba policy among Cuban Americans.  In stark contrast, Marco Rubio who repudiated the Obama Cuba policy won the Cuban American vote in Miami-Dade County handily even though he lost the rest of Florida in the Republican primary. Trump's about face on Cuba policy is good news for the GOP in South Florida where Cuban Americans upset over the the administration's December 17, 2014 announcement now potentially have a candidate that they can support. 

Donald J. Trump addresses Bay of Pigs veterans in 1999

Back in 1999 Donald Trump wrote an OpEd in The Miami Herald on Cuba advocating maintaining the embargo:

Published Friday, June 25, 1999, in the Miami Herald


A choice for human rights

Donald J. Trump is a real-estate investor and head of The Trump Organization in New York City.

Several large European investment groups have asked me to take the ``Trump Magic'' to Cuba. They have ``begged'' me to form partnerships to build casino-hotels in Havana. With the influx of foreign tourists, we would make a fortune, they promise, and they are no doubt right. They are also right to say that this type of arrangement would allow me to skirt the U. S.-imposed embargo. 
But rushing to join those who would do business in Cuba would do more than that. It would place me directly at odds with the longstanding U. S. policy of isolating Fidel Castro. I had a choice to make: huge profits or human rights. For me, it was a no-brainer.
I fully understand the familiar arguments for lifting the embargo. The Cold War is over. Castro is on the ropes. Pumping money into his economy would benefit the long-suffering masses. This is the way to ``open up'' Cuba, export democracy, and promote entrepreneurship and independence from the state. We need to put the past behind us.
Each of those arguments is bogus.
The Cold War is indeed over, but it would be instructive to remember the role that Castro played in the struggle between -- yes -- good and evil. He turned his island over to his Soviet patrons. He was quite willing to have nuclear missiles, launched from Cuban soil, destroy American cities. He exported revolution to Central and South America. He abetted Libyan terrorism. He gave asylum to murderers. He posted troops in Africa.
More important, he turned his nation into a maximum-security prison. His regime controls every aspect of human life -- access to food, medical assistance, schools and employment. Castro has not mellowed with age. Terror continues to reign. The secret police are unrestrained. The disappearance and beatings of citizens are still tools of civilian control, as is the suppression of free speech. Castro's ruthless domination of the Cuban people has not lessened even as his regime crumbles.
The real cause of misery of the Cuban people is Castro's Marxist-Leninist economic system -- not the U.S. embargo. Castro's Cuba is a brutal police state; Castro rules through terror, intimidation and brutality.
Castro urgently wants the United States to lift the embargo because he is desperate for hard currency to keep his faltering communist economy afloat. Now, without the generous subsidies from the Soviet Union -- between $5-7 billion dollars a year -- Cuba's economy is reeling.
Of course, he would love Donald Trump to come to Havana and build casino hotels. Why? Not to raise the standard of living for the people of Cuba. Quite the contrary. Almost every dollar would go to prop up his police-state. Why? Because foreign investors cannot legally do business with private Cuban citizens. They can go into business only with the Castro government. It is highly illegal in Cuba for anyone except for the regime to employ a Cuban citizen.
Foreign investors are not allowed to hire or pay Cuban workers. They must pay the government directly for the workers. Castro then pays the workers in worthless Cuban money and keeps the rest. Under these circumstances, my investment cannot help average Cubans -- it can only replace the Soviet subsidy Castro no longer receives.
If I opened a casino/hotel in Havana, I would be required to pay Castro about $10,000 per year for each Cuban worker. But the workers would not benefit. Castro would pay them the equivalent of $10 a month. The rest he uses to pay for the brutal and violent system that keeps him in power -- and deprives the Cuban people of basic human rights. In other words, my investment in Cuba would directly subsidize the oppression of the Cuban people.
Yes, the embargo is costly. If I formed a joint venture with European partners, I would make millions of dollars. But I'd rather lose those millions than lose my self-respect. I would rather take a financial hit than become a financial backer of one of the world's most-brutal dictators, a man who was once willing to aid in the destruction of my country. To me the embargo question is no question at all. Of course, we should keep the embargo in place. We should keep it until Castro is gone.
Copyright 1999 Miami Herald

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Welcoming Cuba Internet Freedom Conference, and Denouncing Google Complicity with Castro

Free Cuba Foundation Welcomes Cuba Internet Freedom Conference in Miami, Warns of Limitations, and Google Complicity with the Castro Regime 

MIAMI, Sept. 13, 2016 /Free Cuba Foundation/ --The Free Cuba Foundation welcomes the Cuba Internet Freedom Conference and its reminder that the United Nations has declared Internet access a basic Human right. Nevertheless, it is important to recall that the Internet is not a panacea:
 "We must not mistake the Internet which is a tool, for a strategy to achieve democratic change in Cuba; even so, we must demand that it the Internet be uncensored and Independent of state control. Although Google has demonstrated the technical capability of its Loon project which claims to offer balloon powered Internet for everyone, it refuses to do so where it counts most. Instead of a disrupter Google seeks to act in complicity with the Castro regime."
"Google is choosing to stand with the oppressor rather then with the oppressed, in clear violation of their "Don't Be Evil" code of conduct, partnering with an octogenarian Socialist Dictatorship instead of in favor of millions of Cuban youth; is not only wrong but a terrible business decision."  - said Augusto Monge of the Free Cuba Foundation and elected member of the Coordinating Council of the Congress of the Cuban National Conference.

The emphasis on Internet technology by pro-democracy activists should not overlook the role that companies such as Yahoo and Google have played in China to censor information and target dissidents for the dictatorship there in order to conduct business. These practices are now being carried out in Cuba by Google

This is why it was so important that participants at the Second Cuban National Gathering in Puerto Rico representing activists from inside and outside of Cuba on August 16, 2016, unanimously voted and agreed on the following point:
The Obama administration's Cuba policy that focuses on credits, micro-enterprises, travel, and internet will not lead to a democratic opening in Cuba, not in the short, medium, or long term. Instead, it will serve as a distraction that will prolong the life of the dictatorship in Cuba and the Castro regime's power and influence abroad.

Free Cuba Foundation on twitter: @freecubafndtn Free Cuba Foundation Blog:
SOURCE Free Cuba Foundation

Friday, September 9, 2016

Human rights defender returns to Cuba her home occupied, and her attacker threatening to murder her

 Sirley Ávila León is back in Cuba and her life is in danger

 Sirley Ávila León makes the sign of Liberation at Miami International Airport
On Wednesday, September 7, 2016 we reported on Sirley Ávila León's return to Cuba where she was incommunicado and unable to be reached until the following day due to blocked phones, and a delayed text message.

Marti News on September 9, 2016 reported on a phone interview with Sirley, who is currently in Las Tunas at her mother's home, news that is troubling. First, that her property had been illegally taken by the Cuban government and given to others to occupy her home.

Secondly, and more disturbing was the report that Osmany Carrión, the man who brutally attacked her on May 24, 2015 and was supposedly sentenced to six years in prison, is free and threatening to finish the job.

Sirley Ávila León pictured above while in Miami receiving care
The "job" Mr Carrión refers to is the attempted murder by machete attack of Sirley Ávila León. She lost her left hand while raising it to block a machete blow to the head that would have surely killed her wielded by Carrión. He continued the attack striking again at her head and she blocked the blow with her right arm which the machete cut deep and through the bone, breaking it. At the same time Osmany's wife grabbed the severed hand and threw it into a filthy pig pen contaminating it so that it could not be re-attached. The attack went on with further machete blows to both knees leaving her crippled. 

Osmany Carrión should have been charged with aggravated attempted murder not with the lesser charge of "bodily injury" that only sentenced him to six years in prison. This trial and sentence have been revealed to be a farce because Carrión is already free and making death threats against Sirley's life to her family. This was done in an effort to terrorize her and her family so that Sirley would not return to Cuba.

Osmany Carrión, the man who did this to Sirley in Cuba says he'll finish the job
 Sirley Ávila León was a delegate of the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power that although dissenting from government policies that harmed her constituency retained popular support despite the attempts to intimidate the electorate. This is why they have tried to get rid of her and why her life remains in danger.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sirley Ávila returned to Cuba today, whereabouts unknown


Sirley Ávila León: whereabouts unknown
SOS for Sirley Ávila returned to Cuba today, no news of her whereabouts 

Link of video taken before boarding an American Airlines plane bound for Holguín, Cuba: 

Miami, September 7, 2016. The Cuban human rights activist Sirley Ávila León boarded the American Airlines flight 1359 bound for the city of Holguin that landed on the island at 4:13 PM on Wednesday September 7; nevertheless Ávila León’s whereabouts remain unknown.

"She spent six months in Miami receiving medical attention after suffering on May 24, 2015 an attack orchestrated by State Security agents when an individual attacked her with a machete to kill her and chopped off her left hand and left lame her right shoulder and both knees," said human rights activist John Suarez.

Five days ago, on September 2, Sirley Ávila León denounced from her twitter account that for several days she had been unable to communicate with her son, and holds responsible the regime of the Castros for what could have happened to him.

"I know the capacity of the Castros to lie and invent crimes, so I hold them responsible for what may happen to me and my son," she wrote in a message over twitter where she also added that she would return to the island.

"Most likely she has been detained, as she has not communicated as planned in the hours following her return to Cuba. During her stay in the United States, Sirley testified before international organizations and the United States Congress on the repression and violence of the Castro regime," added Suarez.

On September 2, 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) issued precautionary measures in favor of Avila Leon (precautionary measure).

The video attached to this release was made at the airport in Miami to be released if there was no news of her three hours after her arrival in Cuba.

Hereby issue a call to the international community, and democratic governments of the world, as well as human rights activists to ask officials at the Cuban embassies in their respective countries where is Sirley Avila León.

Please help Sirley!! 

Sirley Ávila León regreso a Cuba hoy, su paradero desconocido


Sirley Ávila León: whereabouts unknown

SOS por Sirley Ávila de regreso en Cuba hoy, sin noticias de su paradero

Enlace de video tomado antes de abordar el avión de American Airlines con destino a Holguín, Cuba:

Miami, 7 de septiembre de 2016. La activista de derechos humanos cubana Sirley Ávila León abordó el vuelo 1359 de American Airlines con destino a la ciudad de Holguín que aterrizó en la Isla a las 4:13PM de este miércoles 7 de septiembre, sin embargo se desconoce el paradero de Ávila León hasta el momento.

“Se encontraba desde hace 6 meses en Miami recibiendo atención médica después que en mayo 24 de 2015 sufriera un atentado orquestado por agentes de la Seguridad del Estado, cuando un individuo la atacó con un machete para asesinarla y le cercenó el brazo izquierdo y le dejó lisiados hombro y rodillas”, explicó John Suárez, activista de derechos humanos.

Hace cinco días, el 2 de septiembre, Sirley Ávila León denunció desde su cuenta de twitter que por varios días no había podido comunicarse con su hijo, y que hacía responsable al régimen de los Castro de lo que hubiese ocurrido a su hijo.

“Conozco la capacidad de los Castro de mentir e inventar crímenes, por lo que los hago responsables por lo que me pueda pasar a mí y a mi hijo”, escribió en el mensaje de twitter donde además agregó que regresaría a la Isla.

“Lo más probable es que haya sido detenida, pues no se ha comunicado como tenía previsto en las siguientes horas posteriores a su regreso a Cuba. Durante su estancia en Estados Unidos, Sirley denunció ante entidades internacionales y el Congreso de los Estados Unidos la represión y agresiones del régimen castrista”, agregó Suárez.

El 2 de septiembre de 2015, la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos de la OEA emitió medidas cautelares en favor de Ávila León (precautionary measure).

El video que se adjunta a este comunicado fue realizado en el Aeropuerto de Miami para ser publicado en caso de que no se tuviera noticia de ella tres horas después de su llegada a Cuba.

Por este medio se hace un llamado a la comunidad internacional y a los gobiernos democráticos del mundo, así como a activistas de derechos humanos que pregunten a las autoridades de Cuba en las respectivas embajadas cubanas de sus países dónde se encuentra Sirley Avila León.

¡¡Por favor ayuden a Sirley!!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016

In solidarity with Caracas and free Venezuelans

Our prayers & thoughts are with Venezuelans in their desire to be free. All eyes on Venezuela!

Nuestras oraciones y pensamientos están con los venezolanos en su deseo de ser libres. Muy atento con Venezuela!

Anti-regime protests in Caracas on September 1, 2016
 This Saturday at 3pm show your solidarity with free Venezuelans here at the Freedom Tower in Miami, FL

 Remember why they protest.