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Thursday, September 21, 2017

FCF co-founder addresses attack on U.S. diplomats in Cuba in The Miami Herald

 "The types of injuries suffered by diplomats since November 2016 are new but Cuba’s outlaw behavior towards them is not." - John Suarez

Letter to the Editor published today in the Miami Herald on page 16A


The Miami Herald’s September 19, 2017 editorial “Unless Cuba comes clean about the embassy attacks on U.S. diplomats, it will put renewed ties at risk” offers an overview of the “strange case” of American diplomats and their dependents harmed in Cuba.

But three points should be considered.

First, Raul Castro lies, and there are two recent examples. Castro on March 21, 2016 in the joint press conference with President Obama said that there were no political prisoners in Cuba, and if any were identified they would be released immediately.  A list of current Cuban political prisoners was provided, but they were not freed. In July 2013, Cuban officials were caught trying to smuggle war planes, missiles and technology related to ballistic missile programs hidden under 220,000 bags of sugar to North Korea and lied about it. This was in violation of U.N. sanctions.

Second, Obama did not achieve an end to the Cold War with Cuba. On Jan. 2, 2017 Cuban troops marched in a parade over which Castro presided chanting that they would repeatedly shoot the first African American President in the head so many times that they would make a “hat of lead to the head.” Considering that American diplomats in Havana were already suffering brain trauma since November 2016 perhaps this should be looked at in a new light.

Third, the statement by the Cuban embassy in Washington on September 19, 2017 that "Cuba strictly observes its obligations to protect foreign diplomats on its soil" is not true. There is a decades old pattern of hostility

The types of injuries suffered by diplomats since November 2016 are new but Cuba’s outlaw behavior towards them is not.

- John Suarez
 Free Cuba Foundation

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Assembly of the Cuban Resistance issues new statement on ICCAS scandal at UM

"Keeping ICCAS at the University of Miami and maintaining the tradition of critical inquiry established by Dr. Suchlicki in 1999 is sorely needed in today's academic environment where academic freedom is under assault." - John Suarez, FCF co-founder, August 15, 2017

Press conference today at Brigade 2506 Museum and Library

August 17, 2017

Throughout the years, the University of Miami has been an important part of our Cuban-American community and the Cuban American community has greatly supported the University of Miami. Many generations of Cuban-Americans whose families made Miami their home have pursued their higher education studies at the University of Miami. As our community grew, so did the University. We are as much a part of the University of Miami as the University is a part of us. Our community has made significant contributions to the University’s growth and current reputation throughout the world for its educational excellence. The Institute of Cuban and Cuban American Studies (ICCAS) has been a key component of this relationship, and it has objectively and factually reflected the truth about Cuba and our community since it was founded almost twenty years ago.

At a time when freedom of speech and academic freedom are challenged by the influence of both authoritarian and totalitarian regimes on campuses across the country, we must all remain vigilant about the Castro regime’s efforts to influence Cuban and Latin American studies at American universities. The issue of ICCAS has to do with our concern about hostile foreign government disinformation, and as the FBI has reported, the Castro regime’s recruitment efforts in the academic community in the United States.

A meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow by the President of the University of Miami with a limited number of members of our Cuban American community -as well as others- to discuss the controversy regarding ICCAS. Many prominent Cuban exile and Cuban American academics and intellectuals, as well as community leaders have been regrettably excluded from this meeting.  The Assembly of the Cuban Resistance as a plural, inclusive and democratic institution of this community, stands together as one to express our concerns and reiterate that in order to safeguard ICCAS’ future as a truthful, balanced and objective institute for Cuban and Cuban American studies within the University of Miami, we recommend the following:

  • That the University/Institute does not engage in any exchange with Cuban academic institutions because they are under the direct control of Cuba’s one-party totalitarian state.  As has been amply demonstrated, academia is seen as a tool of intelligence gathering and influence peddling by the Castro dictatorship.  We are steadfastly opposed to opening up the University of Miami to this poisonous exchange.
  • That the University/Institute rescinds the appointment of Dr. Andy Gomez as ICCAS interim director. Dr. Gomez has been publicly recognized for promoting ventures with commercial enterprises that do business with Cuba under its totalitarian regime. Dr. Gomez’ as interim director will further divide the Cuban American community from the University of Miami, rather than bridging the divide that has been created.
  •  That the University/Institute formally include the Cuban American community in the search committee for the new interim director and the permanent director of ICCAS.

It is our sincere hope that our fellow Cuban Americans attending tomorrow’s meeting make the above recommendations their own.  Institutional engagement between our beloved University of Miami and the murderous Castro Regime, and safeguarding the objectivity and integrity of ICCAS are essential concerns of our community.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Miami United for Liberty in Venezuela at the Torch of Friendship

Activists and community leaders gather in solidarity with free Venezuelans

Activists and community leaders praying for freedom in Venezuela
 Free Cuba Foundation members joined with dozens of activists and community leaders this morning at the Torch of Friendship to let Venezuelans know that they are not alone.  Young Venezuelan musicians, Los Wizzards, played the Venezuelan national anthem and rapped their criticisms of the Maduro regime and calls for freedom. Unlike their compatriot, Wuilly Moisés Arteaga today imprisoned in Caracas, they did not have their musical instruments destroyed, were not shot in the face and not jailed when refusing to be silenced. Prayers for Venezuela opened and ended the activity that was organized and hosted by Nicholas David, Jaime Figueras, Jessica Fernandez, and Armando Ibarra.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Miami Unites for Liberty in Venezuela at the Torch of Freedom

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." - Elie Wiesel, Nobel Lecture 1986

This Saturday, August 5, 2017 at 11:00am at the Torch of Friendship located on 401 Biscayne Boulevard members of the Miami community will join together in support of freedom in Venezuela. The event is being organized through a Facebook campaign by Nicholas David, Jaime Figueras, Jessica Fernandez, and Armando Ibarra.

 Regime snipers shot young demonstrators in the head while regime agents raided the homes of opposition politicians in the dead of night to take them away to parts unknown. Maduro regime snipers were spotted this past Sunday, August 30th on roof tops shooting peaceful protesters in the head. At 4:29pm Blanco tweeted: "Adrián Rodríguez (13) was assassinated in Capacho, Táchira. Army sniper shot him in the head from the roof of a school."  At 8:18pm he tweeted: "Ender Peña died (18), shot by bullet during protest in Táchira. Transferred to a polyclinic, he didn't survive the operation." A few minutes later at 8:36pm Blanco tweeted: "Conflict escalation is very obvious. Weeks ago military fired tear gas into the chest, now firing with rifles to the head." 

Venezuela is on the brink of turning into a totalitarian communist regime. It has been a dictatorship since at least October 20, 2016 when the decision of Venezuelan voters to hold a recall referendum was illegally blocked by Nicolas Maduro. However the vote this past Sunday (manipulated to inflate the number of participants by the dictatorship) was to do away with the National Assembly and opposition parties. If implemented this would turn Venezuela into another Cuba. 

Two weeks earlier on July 16, 2017 over seven million Venezuelans voted in a non-binding plebiscite rejecting the Constituent Assembly of the Maduro regime. A general strike was successfully carried out and despite regime violence and a prohibition to protest Venezuelans still took to the streets in anti-Maduro demonstrations.

The response of the Maduro regime and their Cuban advisors has been to escalate the violence and target nonviolent protesters. Consider the plight of Wuilly Moisés Arteaga, a young man playing the national anthem with his violin at a protest, was told to shut up and was shot in the face last Saturday. From his hospital bed he said that he would return to protest in the streets, and he did. He was arrested on Thursday, July 29th beaten up and tortured for protesting against the Maduro regime to the degree that he has lost hearing in his right ear and remains jailed. This is reminiscent of Cuba not a democracy. 

For Cubans, August 5th is a special date when 23 years ago across Havana mass protests occurred calling for freedom and an end to the Castro regime. The response was a brutal crackdown and a mass exodus, but the desire to be free remains. 

Now is the time to stand up and protest for freedom in Venezuela and to demonstrate our solidarity with Venezuelans. The folks organizing the protest at the Torch of Freedom put it succinctly:
Dictator Nicholas Maduro stripped Venezuelan citizens of their freedoms, jailed and murdered innocent people, impoverished his whole nation, exiled hundreds of thousands, and extinguished democracy and rule of law. This is an atrocity.

We are ONE community of Venezuelan and Cuban exiles, Latinos, and Americans united in the fight for freedom and against socialism. We share the historical tragedy of losing a nation to despotism.

Please join us and thousands of friends united in solidarity with the Venezuelan people. We will be joined by elected officials, civic leaders, and opposition figures to show the world that we stand for freedom.

Saturday, August 5th, 2017
11am - 2pm
Bayfront Park - The Torch of Friendship
301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33132

For more information visit the Facebook event page.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Did Google censor Rosa Maria Payá and Cuba Decide in Cuba to satisfy their partners in the dictatorship?

Google's evil collaboration with the Castro regime

Free Cuba Foundation has been warning that Google's engagement with the Castro regime would run afoul of their "Don't Be Evil" code of conduct. On September 13, 2016 we explained that the internet is not a panacea and that Google was making choices that would not help Cuban democrats. On December 12, 2016 Google signed an internet deal with the Castro regime placing the company's technology in the hands of the dictatorship's telecommunications monopoly ETECSA. Rosa Maria Payá tweeted on July 22, 2017 that CubaDecide was banned in Cuba, describing it as "the error with which google joins censorship in Cuba." 

This led to a flurry of tweets about the question of censorship and Google in Cuba. Mary O'Grady tweeted the following the same day.

Michael Weissenstein of the Associated Press replied that it wasn't Cuba but U.S. regulations.
 BrettPerlmutter of Google quoted the Weissenstein tweet and doubled down.
Former Bush Administration official Jose Cardenas contested Weissenstein's claim.
 Marta Dhanis, a news correspondent, who visited Cuba in January of 2017 to see first hand if there has been an improvement in internet access found that it continues to be "extremely limited."  She  talked to Cubans inside the island and in the article titled "Google entering Cuba is 'Trojan Horse' that could reinforce regime, residents say" quoted an academic who pointed out some of the drawbacks:
“We call the internet a ‘Trojan Horse.’ The success of this government has been possible thanks to the people’s lack of information,” said a 57-year-old retired professor who requested anonymity for fear of retribution by the communist regime. “I would have a patrol car at my door tomorrow to monitor my life,” he said. On the other hand, he and others contend, this Trojan Horse is also providing the communist regime with technology that will empower the secret police with detailed reports of the users’ searches and profiles, right down to their location.
Google in Cuba has collaborated with the Cuban intelligence services and the Castro regime's tech monopoly ETESCA is blocking the e-mails of the Ladies in White. This led a coalition of Cubans to condemn Google at a gathering in Puerto Rico in 2016, But what is feared with this deepening of relations between Google and the Cuban dictatorship is a scenario that has already been played out in China where dissidents were rounded up, some jailed, and some tortured with the aid of American technology companies like Yahoo.

In 2006 Amnesty International released a report exposing the practices of American tech companies including Google titled "UNDERMINING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN CHINA. THE ROLE OF YAHOO!, MICROSOFT AND GOOGLE."  In the report Amnesty International stated that  "Google has come closest to acknowledging publicly that its practices are at odds with its principles."

FCF is also concerned that like in the case of China which hacked and stole Google user data the same could happen to Cubans that speak out against the regime. Having servers in Cuban territory gives intelligence agencies unfettered access to servers, methods and technology they can now steal, making this bad for shareholders and U.S. interests.
Sadly eleven years later history may be repeating itself. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

13 minute silent vigil for July's Cuban martyrs on July 13 at FIU's main fountain at 12 noon

Remembering two terrible days in July in Cuba

Free Cuba Foundation members together with Sirley Avila Leon hold vigil at FIU

 2017 marks 23 years since the massacre of 37 Cubans on July 13, 1994 when they tried to flee the island on board the Cuban tugboat "13 de marzo" by agents of the Castro regime. The crime was well documented by international human rights organizations and institutions.

July also marks five years since Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and Harold Cepero were killed by Cuban state security agents on July 22, 2012.  

We gathered in silent protest for 13 minutes at the main fountain at Florida International University demanding justice for the victims of the "13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre and for martyrs Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.

The event concluded with reading out the names of Oswaldo and Harold killed on July 22, 2012 and the 37 victims of the July 13, 1994 attack.

Flier held up by demonstrators during the protest

July 22, 2012 Extrajudicial Killings

Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas. Age: 60
Harold Cepero Escalante. Age: 32

July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" Tugboat Massacre Victims

Hellen Martínez Enriquez. Age: 5 Months
Xicdy Rodríguez Fernández. Age: 2
Angel René Abreu Ruíz. Age: 3
José Carlos Niclas Anaya. Age: 3
Giselle Borges Alvarez. Age: 4
Caridad Leyva Tacoronte. Age: 5
Juan Mario Gutiérrez García. Age: 10
Yousell Eugenio Pérez Tacoronte. Age: 11
Yasser Perodín Almanza. Age: 11
Eliécer Suárez Plasencia. Age: 12
Mayulis Méndez Tacoronte. Age: 17
Miladys Sanabria Leal. Age: 19
Joel García Suárez. Age: 20
Odalys Muñoz García. Age: 21
Yalta Mila Anaya Carrasco. Age: 22
Luliana Enríquez Carrazana. Age: 22
Jorge Gregorio Balmaseda Castillo. Age: 24
Lissett María Alvarez Guerra. Age: 24
Ernesto Alfonso Loureiro. Age: 25
María Miralis Fernández Rodríguez. Age: 27
Leonardo Notario Góngora. Age: 28
Jorge Arquímedes Levrígido Flores. Age: 28
Pilar Almanza Romero. Age: 31
Rigoberto Feu González. Age: 31
Omar Rodríguez Suárez. Age: 33
Lázaro Enrique Borges Briel. Age: 34
Julia Caridad Ruíz Blanco. Age: 35
Martha Caridad Tacoronte Vega. Age: 35
Eduardo Suárez Esquivel. Age: 38
Martha Mirella Carrasco Sanabria. Age: 45
Augusto Guillermo Guerra Martínez. Age: 45
Rosa María Alcalde Puig. Age: 47
Estrella Suárez Esquivel. Age: 48
Reynaldo Joaquín Marrero Alamo. Age: 48
Amado González Raices. Age: 50
Fidencio Ramel Prieto Hernández. Age: 51
Manuel Cayol. Age: 56 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Free Cardet poster flashed on to giant screens at Metallica concert in Miami

 Shout out for Cuban dissidents during Metallica concert

Poster that was flashed up on the big screen during the Metallica concert in Miami
 Metallica's World Wired Tour stopped in Miami this past Friday opening with Hardwired, the song of their new album Hardwired ... to Self Destruct. The band posted their setlist for the night on Twitter.
On several occasions images flashed up on the giant screen that left heavy metal fans scratching their heads. FREE CARDET was seen several times on the giant screen broadcast to tens of thousands of fans during the concert in the Hard Rock Stadium. Who is Cardet? many fans asked.  He is a medical doctor, husband and father of two imprisoned since November 30, 2016 following a brutal beating in front of his family for criticizing the legacy of Fidel Castro.

 This is what the human rights organization Amnesty International has to say about Eduardo Cardet:
Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, MCL) since 2014 was sentenced to three years in prison on 20 March. He was arrested in Holguín on 30 November 2016, five days after the death of the former leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro. He has since been held in the provisional prison (prisión provisional) of Holguín and will remain there while he carries out the appeals.
Below is a picture of Eduardo Cardet and an excerpt of the statement he made following the death of the Cuban dictator that led to his unjust prison sentence and his status as an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience.

The concert was amazing and the band ended the night with a video thank you to Miami.