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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Justice for the Four Victims not Impunity for the Cuban Five who murdered them

See that justice and due process are observed in Brothers to the Rescue killings

Four murder victims of the WASP Network

The Free Cuba Foundation has launched a petition drive to see that justice and due process are respected in the case of the so-called Cuban Five (ten were caught and charged) because terrorists involved in the murder of Americans were pardoned in 1999 by the Clinton Administration with the active work of Assistant Attorney General Eric Holder (now Attorney General in the Obama Administration). Furthermore there is an active campaign underway to seek their pardon by Hollywood celebrities and artists many of them sympathetic to the dictatorship in Cuba using the regime's talking points to deny the crimes committed against Armando Alejandre Jr., Carlos Costa, Mario de la Peña and Pablo Morales. We believe that in addition to this being a profound injustice the pardoning of unrepentant terrorists would only encourage more terrorism against the United States and in the world generally. It is for these reasons that the petition drive has been launched. Please sign the petition and help spread the word.

Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez are currently in prison for acts of espionage and state terrorism against US citizens. They plotted to sabotage planes, set fires, and planned sending a mail bomb to a person in South Florida with aim of causing their death. None of these men have demonstrated any remorse for their actions.

The February 24, 1996 murders of Armando Alejandre, Carlos Costa, Mario de la Peña and Pablo Morales condemned by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, the United Nation’s Security Council, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights gave proof to the deadly seriousness of their plans.

First, it is troubling that 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 conspiracy to murder three US citizens and one US resident) have not been pursued to the full extent of the law.

Why hasn't the U.S. Department of Justice under either the George W. Bush or Barack Obama Administrations presented Interpol with an arrest warrant for the three Cuban Air Force officials indicted for the 1996 murder of four U.S. nationals and for the Cuban agent involved in the conspiracy to have them killed?

Secondly, it is dismaying to learn that Gerardo Hernandez’s name is being raised in a possible exchange or release. He has had due process in a trial with the best attorney’s money could buy that have put on a zealous defense and appeals process for their client. Gerardo Hernandez’s conviction on conspiracy to commit murder is the only justice the victims and their families have achieved to date in criminal court.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Learn why the Ladies in White March in Cuba: The Black Cuban Spring

Video, Discussion and 7 minute Vigil in Remembrance of Cuban Black Spring

Why take part?

Demonstrate with action that we remember these activists and demand their freedom & to understand how Ladies in White started .

What Happened?
On March 18, 2003, a brutal crackdown against Cuban dissidents began when over 72 hours, ninety govt. opponents were arrested most were tried under "Law 88" (the gag law) & were sentenced between 14 to 27 years in prison by early April. All were recognized by Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience. On February 23, 2010 Orlando Zapata Tamayo died after 83 days on hunger strike with two weeks denied water by his jailers.

Video: The Cuban Spring (2003) Czech production

Speakers: Invited Former Cuban Prisoners of Conscience Miguel Sigler Amaya, Pedro Pablo Alvares, and Manuel Vasquez Portal James Cason of US Interests Section

When: Today, Wednesday, March 24 @ 8:30pm
Where: Graham Center 140 Florida International University 11200 S.W. 8th St. Miami, FL

Then join Gloria Estefan in...
March in Support of Ladies in White and Freedom and Human Rights for Cuba

LET'S WALK TOGETHER LIKE THE "DAMAS DE BLANCO"; with dignity, in silence, with a flower of hope in our hands and dressed in white to represent purity of thought, actions and new beginnings!
In the words of our illustrious poet, Jose Marti, "The campaigns of a people are only weak when in them is not enlisted the heart of a woman; but when a woman is shaken and helps, when a woman, timid and quiet in her nature, cheers and applauds, when a woman cultured and virtuous anoints a deed with the honey of her love, the deed is invincible".

Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 5pm we will gather on Beacom Blvd. between S.W. 7th and 8th Street. We will walk on 8th Street, in Little Havana, from 27th Avenue to 22nd Avenue beginning at 6pm sharp.

We will walk for the love of freedom. 

- Gloria Estefan

“The test of truth lies in action” -Mohandas Gandhi

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

First they killed Orlando Zapata Tamayo now Ariel Sigler Amaya is near death

Sadly, Orlando Zapata Tamayo was not the only prisoner whose life was at risk. Although these others are not on hunger strike Cuban prison conditions are leading them to a cruel and unnecessary death. It  was precisely because of this reality that Orlando Zapata decided to highlight these injustices with his hunger strike and demand that these cruel practices cease. A demand that the dictatorship in Cuba is unwilling to meet.

Ariel Sigler Amaya before and now while imprisoned

Ariel Sigler Amaya, is an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience and member of the Independent Alternative Option Movement, arrested during the March 2003 crackdown sentenced to 20 years in prison. The before and after picture speak for themselves, but still it must be said: he is dying. He is dying because of the poor prison conditions and lack of medical treatment and has left him emaciated and wheel bound which is the regime's practice of punishing political prisoners who refuse to be "rehabilitated." The video below is of his brother Miguel Sigler Amaya back in July of 2009 alerting to his plight. Sadly, the world's response in large part was indifference and his condition in fact has worsened.

At the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting now in Geneva the Centrist Democratic International has presented a written statement expressing its deep concern for the plight of Cuban's political prisoners and the case of Ariel Sigler Amaya in particular. The following is an excerpt from that document.

Before being hospitalized at the Julito Díaz Hospital in Havana he was being held at the Ariza Provincial Prison in Cienfuegos. Poor prison conditions, the lack of proper nutrition and medical treatment have generated numerous illnesses causing Ariel to develop "advanced malnutrition" and weaken him to the point that he can no longer walk. In a letter that reached his brother Juan Francisco he states: 
"I have infinite desires to continue to live and recover to keep fighting for my country. I love life and will fight to keep living. Therefore, never do anything against my health or any action that violates my life. If something like this happens, from this moment to accuse Cuban State Security (...) specialized in inducing disease, delaying treatment for purposes of aggravating diseases and prepare alleged suicides and deaths." (…) "The same ones who yesterday repressed and imprisoned me are the ones who have brought me to the brink of death, and made of me a small pile of bones and skin. 

Everyone is well aware of cases like mine, of robust persons, physically strong and in excellent health, that with the monstrous methods of state security have died in prisons, hospitals and psychiatric centers. Ariel’s mother Gloria died of a stroke on Friday, January 8, 2010 and prison authorities allowed Ariel to attend the wake. Extremely emaciated and wheelchair bound he was barely recognizable, and has led to protests and demonstrations for his release out of fear that he will not survive. Another brother of Ariel Sigler, Guido is also a prisoner of conscience serving 20 years in prison.

Ariel Sigler Amaya is not on a hunger strike, but the treatment by Cuban officials is killing him little by little. Let us hope that with the world's attention turned towards the prisons in Cuba that he get the proper health care he urgently needs, and that all Cuban political prisoners be released.

Other cases, according to the Centrist Democratic International that warrant close attention are the following Cuban prisoners of conscience whose lives also hang in the balance: Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, Librado Linares García, Jorge Luis González Tanquero, José Luis García Paneque, Ricardo Gonzalez Alfonso and Normando Hernández González.

The footage of the FCF Feb. 24 silent vigil below was taken by El Nuevo Herald that covered the event:

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Vigilia por pilotos de Hermanos al Rescate y Orlando Zapata Tamayo

Publicado el jueves, 02.25.10
Alrededor de sesenta personas realizaron una vigilia silenciosa ayer en el campus Modesto Maidique de la Universidad Internacional de la Florida, para conmemorar el aniversario número catorce del derribo de dos aviones civiles de la organización Hermanos al Rescate, por parte de la Fuerza Aérea de Cuba, el 24 de febrero de 1996, donde murieron cuatro personas.

La vigilia, organizada por la Free Cuba Foundation de FIU y familiares de las víctimas del derribo, duró exactamente seis minutos, desde las 3:21 hasta las 3:27 p.m., el lapsus de tiempo en el que fueron atacados los dos aviones pilotados por Carlos Costa y Mario Manuel de la Peña, respectivamente, en 1996. Tambien murio Armando Alejandro Jr.

``Estamos infinitamente agradecidos de los estudiantes de FIU, porque nosotros que tenemos más edad pasaremos, pero ellos nos demuestran que la juventud sigue recordando a nuestros familiares fallecidos'', dijo Mirta Costa Méndez, hermana de Carlos Costa.

La vigilia, que se realiza desde 1996, tiene como objetivo demostrar en un acto cívico sin violencia que los estudiantes de FIU siguen recordando a las víctimas de Hermanos al Rescate y a los prisioneros políticos de Cuba.

Este año, además, rindieron tributo al disidente Orlando Zapata Tamayo, quien murió en una prisión en La Habana el martes 23 de febrero del 2010, tras realizar una extensa huelga de hambre.

``Nosotros continuaremos haciendo vigilias para que la gente no se olvide de personas con tanto coraje y que ayudaron tanto a Cuba, como lo fueron los Hermanos al Rescate caídos en 1996''. Afirmó Julio Menache, presidente de la Fundación Cuba Libre, quien, también recalcó el gran significado que tiene para la comunidad la muerte de Zapata Tamayo. ``Es algo que no pasa todos los días y que no ignoraremos''.

Para continuar con la conmemoración de este aniversario, se realizó una misa a las 7 de la tarde en la Iglesia Santa Agatha. Miriam de la Peña, la madre de Manuel, manifestó que el caso de la pérdida de su hijo y de los que murieron ese día ``es un asunto internacional, que de ninguna manera será olvidado ni a corto ni a largo plazo''.

February 24, 2010 Silent Vigil for Orlando Zapata Tamayo & Brothers to the Rescue shootdown victims

Orlando Zapata Tamayo

Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Cuban dissident and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience died in Havana, Cuba on February 23, 2010 at the age of 42 after more than eighty days on a water only hunger strike. During the hunger strike prison officials denied him water for more than two weeks in an effort to force him to end the strike. They failed in breaking his spirit but suceeded in being a contributing factor to his death.


Fourteen years ago over the Florida Straits a brutal crime was committed by Cuban government against civilians aboard three planes who were hunted by Cuban MiGs and in the case of two of the planes were blown to bits by air-to-air missiles fired by a Cuban MiG-29 at 3:21 p.m. and 3:27 p.m., respectively, in international airspace destroying two civilian light aircraft extra-judicially killing Armando Alejandre Jr. (age 45), Carlos Alberto Costa ( age 29), Mario Manuel de la Peña (age 24), and Pablo Morales (age 29). 

One day after the death on hunger strike of Orlando and fourteen years after the Brothers to the Rescue shootdown that killed Armando, Carlos, Mario, and Pablo the Free Cuba Foundation organized and held a silent vigil for all of them with relatives of the four killed in 1996.

For the past 14 years the vigil has been silent. On this occasion in honor of Orlando Zapata Tamayo the mother of  Mario Manuel de la Peña, Miriam spoke at the beginning of the vigil:

The vigil began at 3:21pm the time when the first plane was shotdown in 1996:

The vigil ended at 3:27pm the time when the second planes was shotdown in 1996:

At the end of the vigil Miriam de la Peña was interviewed by local media:

In English:

In Spanish:

Free Cuba Foundation (FCF) president Julio Menache presided over the vigil along with FCF member Kristan Patton