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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: The Latin American Despots and Tyrants Tour

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." - Edmund Burke

 Ahmadinejad and Raul Castro

Iranian despot, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is to visit Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador in a Latin America tour in the second week of January 2012. It should be titled the despots and tyrants tour. Cuba has the oldest dictatorship in the hemisphere. The Sandinistas in Nicaragua just blatantly and violently stole the elections in that Central American country. Venezuela is headed down the path to a Cuban-style dictatorship and Ecuador is not far behind.

Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez

Add to this reports that Cuban, Venezuelan and Iranians have been plotting cyber-attacks on the United States and their is even more reason for concern. The Washington Times reported that:
U.S. officials are investigating reports that Iranian and Venezuelan diplomats in Mexico were involved in planned cyberattacks against U.S. targets, including nuclear power plants.

Background on Univision report

The details arose in an investigative report filed by the hispanic network Univsion and according to them:
A former computer instructor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico told Univision that he was recruited by a professor there in 2006 to organize a group of student hackers to carry out cyberattacks against the United States, initially at the behest of the Cuban Embassy. In an undercover sting, instructor Juan Carlos Munoz Ledo and several selected students infiltrated the hackers and secretly videotaped the Iranian and Venezuelan diplomats.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In Solidarity: Miami Dade College Students pay tribute to Laura Pollán

Miami Dade College students demonstrate their solidarity with the Ladies in White while honoring their founder Laura Pollán, who died on October 14, 2011. When will Florida International University and University of Miami students do the same?

Originally Published by Pedazos de la Isla:

Dressed in white and carrying signs and flowers, dozens of students from Miami Dade College paid a moving tribute to the fallen leader of the Ladies in White, Laura Pollán, this Wednesday November 16th.  The heart-felt notes of a tune by Amaury Guttierez dedicated to Pollan were heard as the participants congregated in a public plaza of  the College’s Kendall campus.  When the song concluded, various College professors and staff of diverse ethnic backgrounds shared words of admiration for all the work which Laura Pollán carried out and for the bravery which the Ladies in White still display as they march every Sunday in the island.

The demonstrators then carried out a silent march around the campus all the way to a monument erected in honor to ‘world peace’, where they deposited flowers in memory of Laura.

The activity was carried out by a student organization, founded at MDC,  by the name of “If Not Now, When?“. According to the counselor of the group, Teresita Pedrazo Moreno, who is also a professor of sociology and political science, the recently created group aspires to “promote human rights all around the world and has taken its name from an essay written by Primo Levi, a holocaust survivor who denounced to the world the horrors he and so many others faced during that time“.

Moreno adds that the group is completely “made up of students, and they were the ones who chose to pay tribute to Laura Pollán for our first ever public event“.

The activist also adds that “this is an honor and something we owe to the brave women, and it is very important that this message spreads to the younger generations“, which successfully occurred that night, seeing as the majority of the students present did not surpass the age of 25.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How to Start a Successful Revolution: See this Documentary and Read Gene Sharp

A group of Free Cuba Foundation members went to see the documentary on the life of Gene Sharp, How to Start a Revolution, last night at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival at the Cinema Paradiso. The theater was packed for the South Florida premiere of this powerful documentary that takes a look at Gene Sharp and at the nonviolent resistance strategies and tactics he has documented. The film is divided into sections inspired by Sharp's strategy and writings while visiting different places (Burma, Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, and Iran) at different times around the world that have been influenced by his strategic nonviolent vision.

Trailer for the Documentary 

If you want to learn how to carry out a successful revolution against a dictator then this is the film to introduce you to Gene Sharp and his work. At the same time many of his writings are available online at the Albert Einstein Institution.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Argentine journalist interrogated by State Security for friendship with a Cuban blogger

Finds her e-mail is being hacked into back home in Argentina.

Argentine reporter Carolina Barros (left) interrogated and harassed 
by Cuban State Security for friendship with Yoani Sanchez (right)

At 11:45pm and 11:48pm on November 2, 2011 Yoani Sanchez sent out two tweets that cried out with both outrage and anguish: "Come get me! And do not punish those who I love! Cowards! How it OUTRAGES me that they punish others for speaking to me, giving me friendship, loving me."

She then linked to an article in Spanish titled Message for The Third Eye of G2 by the Argentine journalist Carolina Barros that dealt mostly with Venezuela and her e-mail being hacked. G2 refers to the Cuban state security service and the last paragraph of the article offered a revealing insight into what awaits a traveler to Cuba seeking to learn about the real island and not the regime manufactured fiction:  
I was in Cuba in January of 2011 I was visited in the hotel where I stayed in Havana by two envoys of the Castro government (one in the uniform of a lieutenant colonel and within the Ministry of Interior, the other presented himself as political police) to question me about my friendship with Yoani Sanchez and to warn me that although Cuba was a free country, tourists should not get mixed up with dissidents. It should not surprise me that my mailbox is in the cross hairs of some quasi-editors, quasi devious journalists: Cuba's ambassador in Argentina is committed to giving notice to the CEO of Grupo Ambito, the newspaper group where I work, that my reports are biased and that those related to Cuba distort reality. He has also sent letters in which he said that Yoani Sanchez, my friend, is not known by anyone. So, be careful. As much as it seems to be, sometimes nothing is as it seems. Especially when the ominous year 13 heralds winds of change.

The regime in Cuba is accustomed to intimidating into silence those in the press that criticize it because the dictatorship has often been successful. They miscalculated in the case of Carolina Barros and they should have known better. Carolina Barros, among her other duties, is the editor of the Buenos Aires Herald.which was founded in 1876. During the military junta in Argentina approximately 30,000 were disappeared [extra-judicially executed and buried in mass graves] the only local newspaper that told the story of the forced disappearances. Despite death threats against the journalists and their families and some of them having to go into exile the paper maintained its critical stance. Incidentally, it is worth pointing out that the Castro regime had a close working relationship with the military junta and assisted efforts to block its condemnation at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Call to Action in Remembrance of Laura Inés Pollán Toledo

"As long as this government is around there will be prisoners because while they've let some go, they've put others in jail. It is a never-ending story." - Laura Pollán

Laura Pollán, you stay with us...

We prayed for Laura Pollán to make a speedy recovery following the rapid onset of the illness but it was not to be. The illness claimed her life in the space of seven days. Cuba is governed by a dictatorship whose intelligence service was trained by the East German Stasi and that had close operational relations with the Soviet KGB.  The facts are that East German dissidents died of rare forms of cancers they believe had been given to them by the Stasi. Evidence gathered after the fall of the Berlin Wall indicates this to be the case. The Soviet KGB had also carried out similar practices. It is for this reason and the fact that the Ladies in White and their leadership poised an existential threat to the continued existence of the regime that many harbor suspicions surrounding the illness that took the life of this courageous woman. The dictatorship in Cuba is not blind to what happens in other parts of the world. How women in civil war torn Liberia not only brought and end to the bloody conflict using nonviolent means but also succeeded in removing from power the brutal dictator that had ruled the country for years: Charles Taylor. There is no concrete evidence but there is plenty of suspicion because the Cuban dictatorship has a long and bloody track record.

However, now is not the time to focus on how Laura Inés Pollán Toledo died but rather how she lived. She always embraced life not death. Refusing to engage in hunger strikes but remaining open to almost any other nonviolent tactic to pressure Cuban officials into freeing her husband and the rest of the Cuban political prisoners. Over time she evolved and came to the conclusion that for there to be an end to political prisoners in Cuba there needed to be a change of the entire system. Through the courageous actions and clear eyed strategic vision of the Ladies in White they played a decisive role in obtaining the freedom of the group of 75 imprisoned in March of 2003. The last of the prisoners were released in the Spring of 2011. The longest prison sentence had condemned Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia to spend 28 years of his life behind bars. If not for the Ladies in White and international solidarity campaigns the last of the Cuban Spring prisoners would not have been freed until 2031. A generation ago many Cuban political prisoners served out their 30 year sentences. If not for Laura and the Ladies in White it would be happening again now.

Laura Pollán may no longer physically be here with us but the Free Cuba Foundation makes the following proposal to people of good will everywhere. A call to action to let others know about Laura Pollán and the courageous Ladies in White. What they accomplished and how they went about it through strategic nonviolent resistance. Furthermore over twitter we observed that Yoani Sanchez has already designed and is wearing a t-shirt that she describes as a small tribute to Laura. Furthermore, that t-shirts be designed with the image of Laura Pollán prominently displayed with a quote by her consistent with her call for non-violent change in Cuba. Lets be ambassadors for the message and legacy of Laura Pollán around the world and inside of Cuba.

On the weekend that the Martin Luther King Jr. is finally being dedicated it is fitting that the world is also recognizing and honoring another human rights defender and icon of non-violent civil disobedience that is Laura Pollán. Martin Luther King Jr and Laura Pollan died before their time. Martin Luther King Jr. was just 39 when he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Laura got sick and was hospitalized and over the course of a week her condition steadily deteriorated dying on October 15, 2011 at the age of 63. Despite their lives being shortened they managed to do so much with the little time they had. Let us remember and honor their courage, sacrifice and accomplishments.

Laura Pollan front and center with other Ladies in White

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A White Gladioli for Laura Pollan: Lets honor her nonviolent victory

May Havana be filled with white gladioli in memory of Laura Pollan and in tribute to Ladies in White who struggle for freedom. - Gina Montaner, October 15, 2011

Years ago reading Living in Truth by Vaclav Havel came across the concept of "anti-political politics" formulated by the future president of the Czech Republic while he was still a persecuted dissident in 1986. It came to mind once again when reading the following words by Laura Pollan quoted in an article in Reuters announcing her untimely death on October 14, 2011: "We continue being defenders of human rights. We are not politicians, we want freedom for the country, democracy."

Laura Pollan in her own words.

An additional level of irony arises. Havel auto-defined himself a dissident but he came from a family that was never in support of the communist regime forced on the people of Czechoslovakia while Laura Pollan had been a school teacher who avoided politics until her husband, Hector Maseda, who had been a nuclear physicist who, like Andrei Sakharov,  was demoted for his "ideological errors" and ended up an independent journalist, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2003 for his dissident activities. Defending her husband, someone she loved, was the spark that led Laura Pollan into the realm of "anti-politics" and the defense of human rights.

In the same month that her husband and the rest of the group of the 75 were locked up and through sham show trials sentenced up to 28 years in prison the Ladies in White came into existence. Dressed in White on Sunday mornings carrying white gladioli in their hands they would nonviolently march to attend Mass at Santa Rita Church and pray and petition for their loved ones to be freed. Over the next 8 years they would suffer harassment, threats, acts of repudiation, beatings, detentions, injections and their homes searched by state security agents. At one point when the beatings from state security agents and their recruits got especially bad in the Spring of 2010 and the Ladies were beginning to suffer fractures and other more serious injuries Laura Pollan, herself with a cast and sling for her arm, challenged the regime while marching in the street: "They can either kills us, put us in jail or release them. We will never stop marching no matter what happens."

Laura Pollan
Less than a year later she was reunited with her husband and the remainder of the group of the 75 were released from prison. No doubt the dictatorship thought the Ladies in White would disappear. They counted wrong. The women had pledged to continue in their struggle until all political prisoners were free not just the group of the 75.  Also Laura Pollan recognized that as long as the current system existed new political prisoners would be a reality.

Last night her husband who stood by her side and accompanied her over the past week in the hospital carried out an honor guard at her wake following her untimely death at the age of 63. The Free Cuba Foundation remembers and honors this courageous Cuban woman and will seek to follow her example.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vigil for Freedom of Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, her husband Julio Ignacio Leon Perez and all political prisoners

Take Action for Sara Marta Fonseca!

Sara Marta Fonseca

Today, Wednesday October 5, 2011 in Miami, Florida there will be a vigil held in demand for the immediate and unconditional release of Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo and her husband Julio Ignacio Leon Perez, as well as for all Cuban prisoners of conscience.

The event will be held just outside of Versailles Restaurant  next to the take out window in the front. It is located at 3555 Southwest 8th Street Miami, FL 33135-4196. The vigil will begin at 8:00 pm and is being sponsored by the Cuba-freedom organization ‘Plantados Hasta la Libertad de Cuba’.

The event is open to all people of good will, in order to demand freedom for all those Cubans who have been imprisoned for defending freedom and human rights.  More information can be found on the Facebook page created for this event.

Take action right now for Sara Marta Fonseca and sign an online petition demanding her release from prison. It will only take a couple of minutes to demonstrate your solidarity with this courageous woman.

What happened?

The Cuban Democratic Directorate reported that "at approximately 6:00pm on September 24, as Resistance members prepared to engage in a nationwide pots and pans protest scheduled for that night" when state security agents organized a repudiation rally outside the home of Fonseca Quevedo, where several activists were attacked, beaten, and detained. Among these were: Sarah Marta Fonseca Quevedo, her husband Julio Ignacio León Pérez, Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez”, Hermógenes Inocencio Guerrero Gómez, Ramsés Miranda Camejo and Eriberto Liranza Romero.

Hablemos press captured the act of repudiation and the attacks on Sara Martha by two attackers. First by an unidentified man who charged at her and secondly by a woman who started hitting her from the back. She managed to evade her attackers only to see that her husband had been knocked to the ground and was being kicked in beaten by a group of state security agents. She runs over to try and break it up, but instead is detained and badly beaten.

Pedazos de la Isla reports on their current state:
The situation of the dissident couple continues to be grim, considering that they have been behind bars since Saturday, September 24th and have remained in hunger strike since then.  ‘Julito’ Fonseca, the eldest son of Fonseca and Leon, informed a few days ago that he was able to see his mother who, according to him, had many marks of physical blows but had remained very firm in her convictions against the tyranny, choosing to maintain her hunger strike until she is freed.  Meanwhile, it has been reported that his father was interned in the Carlos Finlay Hospital of Havana, due to a drop in sugar levels and other health ailments, products of a severe beating and also a hunger strike.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Amnesty International denounces: Women denied right to protest in Cuba


Document - Cuba: Further information: Women denied right to protest

Further information on UA: 256/11 Index: AMR 25/004/2011 Cuba Date: 1 September 2011

A group of female relatives of prisoners of conscience in Cuba and their supporters were again prevented from organizing a peaceful protest on 28 August . They have been harassed and intimidated by state officials since mid-July for their peaceful activities.

The Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco), a group of female relatives of former prisoners of conscience and current political prisoners, and the Ladies in Support (Damas de Apoyo), have since mid-July faced arbitrary arrest and physical assault from members of the security forces and government supporters in the south-eastern city of Santiago de Cuba and surrounding towns.

On 28 August, 13 Damas gathered at the home of Aimée Garcés Leyva with the plan to go to the cathedral of Santiago de Cuba in order to attend mass, and afterward organize a peaceful protest around the cathedral. However, according to testimonies from some of the women, the house was surrounded early in the morning by police cars and female police officers. Testimonies say the Damas were ill-treated by the officers and forced into buses. As on previous Sundays, they were driven near to their hometowns in the province of Santiago de Cuba and released. The Damas also claims that police officers took computers, cell phones, photo cameras, memory flash drives, book notes and other external hard drives from the home of Aimée Garcés Leyva.

Two other Damas who were driving from Holguín to Santiago de Cuba on 27 August, complained to have been violently arrested in the municipality of Bayamo. They were brought back to Holguín where they spent a night in jail.

The Damas are planning to try to organize a silent protest on 4 September, and every subsequent Sunday, to call for the release of prisoners they believe to have been jailed for their dissident activities.
Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

calling on the authorities to permit the Ladies in White and Ladies in Support to march peacefully on Sundays and attend religious services without unreasonable restrictions;
urging them to cease immediately the harassment and intimidation of the Ladies in White, Ladies in Support and any other citizens who seek to exercise peacefully their rights to freedom of expression and association.
asking them to thoroughly and independently investigate the accusations of ill-treatment by police officers on the Ladies in White and Ladies in Support and bring those responsible to justice respecting international standards.
Head of State and Government
Raúl Castro Ruz
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +53 7 8333085 (via Foreign Ministry); +1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Email: (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Su Excelencia/
Your Excellency
Interior Minister
General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra
Ministro del Interior y Prisiones
Ministerio del Interior, Plaza de la Revolución, La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +537 8556621, +1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Su Excelencia/
Your Excellency
And copies to
First Secretary, Cuban Communist Party of Santiago de Cuba
Lázaro Espósito
Primer Secretario del Partido Comunista de Santiago de Cuba
Avenida Garzón 51
Plaza de Martes
Santiago de Cuba
Provincia de Santiago de Cuba
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the first update of UA 256/11. Further information:

Additional Information

In 2003, over several days, the Cuban authorities arrested 75 men and women for their peaceful expression of critical opinions of the government. They were subjected to summary trials and were sentenced to prison terms of up to 28 years. Amnesty International declared the 75 convicted dissidents to be prisoners of conscience, and the last of them was released in April 2011.

The Damas de Blanco organizes peaceful marches where they distribute flowers and call for the release of their relatives and friends. In 2005, the Damas de Blanco were awarded The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament.

The Damas de Apoyo emerged as a solidarity group who support and participate in activities organized by the Damas de Blanco.

There are now 35 Damas de Blanco and Apoyo from the eastern provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Holguín, Las Tunas, Granma and Guantánamo.

The Damas de Blanco and Damas de Apoyo have repeatedly suffered harassment and intimidation during their peaceful activities. In central Havana on 18 August 2011, 49 Damas were prevented from carrying out a protest in support of their members in Santiago de Cuba and other eastern provinces. Government supporters physically forced them to return to their homes. On 14 August only three of 22 Damas who travelled to Santiago de Cuba managed to enter the Cathedral for mass. Five of them were arrested before mass began, and taken to various police stations in the city and held for several hours. The 14 other Damas were stopped at a police checkpoint 11 km outside the city and forced off the bus they were travelling in by women police officers. Nine of them, including Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, the wife of former prisoner of conscience José Daniel Ferrer García, were kicked and slapped as they were pushed into police cars and returned to their homes.

On 21 August, 11 Damas gathered at the home of Aimée Garcés Leyva in the town of Palma Soriano. Some 100 people, including police and government supporters, surrounded the house for several hours. When the women tried to leave, police pushed them and pulled their hair before forcing them into buses. They were driven a few kilometres, then taken in police cars and dropped near their hometowns in the provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Holguín. 

Name: Damas de Blanco and Damas de Apoyo
Gender m/f: f

Further information on UA: 256/11 Index: AMR 25/004/2011 Issue Date: 1 September 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas: Better Yet, Let's unite together for our rights

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas

A proposal by Representative David Rivera of the United States Congress that would prohibit Cuban political refugees to travel to Cuba until five years after their arrival to that country has generated great debate. To defend all of the rights of Cubans and among those, the right to enter and leave their own country freely is not a matter of political position; it is the vocation, determination and reason of being of our Movement. For this we reject the proposal by this congress.

But I do not deny that Mr. Rivera is addressing a real problem and a situation that justly deserves an analysis, a debate and conducted for the good of the Cuban people, of which the exile is an inseparable part. But also with respect to the North American society, that with a great sentiment of solidarity, has received and continues to receive many Cubans. We cannot forget that these Cubans that have arrived through various channels of refugee programs , through the lottery, family reunification, risking their lives at sea or “staying” for some occasion, look for a new life of freedom and opportunities that are denied to them in their own country.

Without trying to be a judge, because I am a part of this society, I call on the reflection of the responsibility of everyone in this situation.

The political refugees are Cubans who emigrate because they are persecuted here in their own country and this should not deprive them of the right to return to see their family and the country that they had to leave because of this persecution. Is the punishment that the communist regime imposes on them not punishment enough, that they should also be punished with the denial of seeing their loved ones even if it is only for a few days and under surveillance? All Cubans who emigrate should have the same rights.

That which is not a right, but an attempt against that right, is to obtain political refugee status from lies and deceit, whether from here or when arriving in another county or also from goodwill but sometimes ignorance of those who are granting this status. The defense is permitted and is legitimate for everyone looking for a new life in a new land, but not at the cost of falsifying or faking the condition of political persecution or inventing oneself or fabricating oneself a history of dissidence so as to later reappear or return in a real carnival in an exhibition of opportunism.

I say this in defense of the sacred cause of the fight for liberty for Cuba that is being embodied and discredited by some. I say this in vindication of thousands of true fighters for human rights that suffer persecution in Cuba, jail and even giving their lives generously for the cause. I say this in defense of those that with pain must abandon their country on account of the harassment of their families, for having dedicated themselves with authenticity to the cause of liberty and for other circumstances, as in Cuba many are persecuted and not only the dissidents.

The politically persecuted that solicit it should continue to be welcomed as political refugees by the United States and other countries. We remember that many Cubans cannot come to Cuban because the government of Cuba denies them this right. Otherwise, I urge that people not use dangerous paths or those that risk lives to emigrate.

We demand the end to the persecution that ultimately occurs at the societal level, by means of totalitarianism that oppresses all Cubans. For this reason, any Cuban trying to escape or looking for liberty and a new life. It would be cruel to deny them this opportunity. For this reason, the Cubans that are already outside of Cuba or that have arrived in the United States or any other country, should not be deported.

Otherwise, and with respect, we remember those who support or promote the law proposed by Mr. Rivera, some exiled, possibly with the best intentions, supported the designation of the status of politically persecuted to all Cubans that came to other places or claimed that the path of exile was the only legitimate one in the face of the oppression in Cuba.

But we also call attention to the inconsistency of those that drive this falsely harmonious cultural exchange between the ideological and political apartheid and the denial of the rights that exist in Cuba and the inconsistency of those only speak to promote tourism and business travel as supposed methods of achieving change. This current can turn into an element of ‘change-fraud,’ which is change without rights, a method that is imposed already in Cuba and from the outside against the right to rights for the Cuban people.

Because of this it is necessary to remember that:

This issue that we are discussing today has originated from, is manipulated and exported, and now and always exploited by the totalitarian regime against its own Cuban people who are the only victims.

To explain further: It is a problem created by the regime that denies freedom and the rights to its citizens and has converted life into a prison. A regime that manipulated the problem like a regulated safety valve, with all of the resources of totalitarianism, the disadvantages of Cubans, the culture of fear and deftly handled and no less cruel, the desire of Cubans to find a new life. A regime that in this way has exported Cuba’s drama and which is unfolding in a Cuban exile that longs for his country, maintains its Cuban roots and that heartbreakingly suffers along with Cubans here; the worst punishment that can be imposed on a Cuban is to separate him from his family and his land. Thus the coming together and communication between family members becomes a vital necessity.

A regime that ruthlessly exploits this situation and, while continuing to deny the right of free entry and exit to Cubans, imposes on the exiled a tax to see their palm trees and pay a ransom to kiss, hug and help their family and friends within Cuba, those who the regime treats as hostages.

Let’s not allow this contradiction to be artificially moved to the heart of the people. Let’s reflect and debate these subjects and get to the bottom of these contradictions between government and people: the totalitarian regime denies all Cubans freedom and many others their rights including, the right to freely enter and leave their own country.

God wants us to find the adequate behavior for a just solution and not for erosion that will eventually divert us, divide us and face Cuban against Cuban.

Our suggestion is; 

A solidarity campaign for the rights of Cubans to freely leave Cuba without restrictions or time limits, without goods and property being confiscated, without being identified or discriminated against, without permission or invitations or letters of release, for the right of all Cubans to freely enter Cuba without being extorted, without time limits, without asking permission and with all the civil rights and with respect for Cuba and all of the rights for all Cubans living within and outside of Cuba. 

Let us run this campaign so that the people believe, so that the world believes. 

Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas
Coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement

Havana, Cuba, August 21, 2011

Original Spanish:

Monday, August 22, 2011

CUBA: Amnesty International calls for an end to intimidation against the Ladies in White

Cuba’s ‘Ladies in White’ targeted with arbitrary arrest and intimidation

22 August 2011

The Cuban authorities must end their intimidation of a group of women campaigning for the release of political prisoners, Amnesty International said after 19 of the group’s members were re-arrested yesterday.

The latest detentions took place yesterday in and near the south-eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, where the women were due to march silently and pray for the end of political imprisonment.

Over the last month, the “Ladies in White” (Damas de Blanco) and their supporters have repeatedly faced arbitrary arrest and physical attacks as they staged protests in several towns in the region.

“The ongoing harassment of these courageous women has to stop. The Cuban authorities must allow them to march peacefully and to attend religious services as they wish,” said Javier Zuñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.

The latest arrests took place as “Ladies in White” gathered in several locations to make their way to a planned march at the Cathedral in Santiago de Cuba.

Eleven of the “Ladies in White” gathered yesterday morning at the home of a supporter in the town of Palma Soriano. A crowd of some 100 people, including police, officials and government supporters, surrounded the house for several hours.

When the women attempted to leave, police pushed them and pulled their hair before forcing them into buses. They were driven a few kilometres away where they were transferred to police cars and dropped near their hometowns in the provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Holguín.

Police also surrounded the house of Tania Montoya Vázquez, another “Lady in White” from Palma Soriano for several hours yesterday, preventing her and two fellow protesters from leaving.

Five other “Ladies in White” who live in the city of Santiago were arrested before they could reach the Cathedral and were held in police stations for several hours. It is believed that they have all been released.

Beginning on 17 July, groups of the “Ladies in White” have gathered on Sundays to stage silent protests and attend mass in Santiago de Cuba and several nearby towns.

The “Ladies in White” and the “Ladies in Support” (Damas de Apoyo) are a nationwide network of activists in Cuba that have recently escalated their peaceful protests in eastern provinces. In Havana and elsewhere, they have repeatedly suffered harassment from Cuban authorities for their peaceful protests.

In central Havana on 18 August 2011, 49 “Ladies in White” and their supporters were prevented from carrying out a protest in support of their members in Santiago de Cuba and other eastern provinces.

In 2003, Cuban authorities rounded up 75 of the group’s relatives for their involvement in peaceful criticism of the government.

The 75 dissidents were subjected to summary trials and sentenced to prison terms of up to 28 years. Amnesty International considered them all to be prisoners of conscience, and the last of them were finally released in May 2011.

The “Ladies in White” and “Ladies in Support” continue to peacefully protest for the release of others who they believe have been imprisoned due to their dissident activities.

“It is unacceptable for the government under Raúl Castro’s leadership to perpetuate a climate of fear and repression to silence ordinary Cubans when they dare to speak out,” said Javier Zuñiga.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Silent Vigil For Victims of Terror Attacks in Norway to be held in Miami

Today marks one week since the people of Norway were attacked by a home grown terrorist that set off a massive bomb in downtown Oslo and went on a shooting spree on the nearby island of Utøya that caused the deaths of at least 77 and the injuring of many more Norwegians. Today in Norway they began to bury their dead.

Tomorrow in Miami [ at 2:00 pm Saturday, July 30] we will hold a  silent vigil for the victims of  the Norwegian terror attacks at the Torch of Friendship located at 301 North Biscayne Boulevard Miami, Florida. We ask that you bring a red or white rose in memory of the victims of these heinous attacks.

The month of July is a difficult one for Cubans and Argentinians because of terror attacks that took place on July 13 and July 18, 1994 respectively claiming scores of victims. The first the "13 de Marzo" tugboat sinking was an act of state terrorism and the second the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center.

Mohandas Gandhi spoke a profound truth when he observed that "Terrorism and deception are weapons not of the strong but of the weak." In addition to being weak it is also a profoundly evil act that needs to be denounced wherever it takes place.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Global Voices on Defending The Ladies in White who were recently brutally attacked

The Ladies in White shout slogans. Image by Flickr user 
Globovisión (CC BY-NC 2.0).
The Ladies in White shout slogans. Image by Flickr user Globovisión (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Cuba: Defending “Las Damas” 

Cuban bloggers continue to update their posts about the most recent attack on Las Damas de Blanco (The Ladies in White), in which members of the group were reportedly “attacked and brutally beaten…by agents of Castro State Security upon exiting a church sanctuary.”

The Coalition of Cuban-American Women has issued a press release denouncing the attack, which even includes an audio clip [es] of one of the Ladies, Tania Montoya Vázquez, relating her experience. El Cafe Cubano has republished the Coalition's statement in a show of solidarity.

Babalu comments on the “recording by opposition leader Tania Montoya Vazquez, who called in to Hablalo Sin Miedo while a violent attack against the Ladies in White was taking place yesterday”, saying:
You can hear the desperation and fear in her voice. Even if you do not speak or understand Spanish, the tone of her voice and the screams in the background give a chilling account of the brutality of the Castro dictatorship.
The incident has caused an outcry from other factions as well; see The International Federation of Liberal Youth's statement, here:
Belkis Cantillo Ramirez was shot in the arm, while others were brutally beaten with batons, stones and other objects. In the midst of the violence, Tania Montoya and Rodaisa Corrioso were arrested by the authorities. Aside from these two brave women, thirteen members of this organization, including Belkis Cantillo Ramirez, are receiving medical care at a local hospital.
The International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY) condemns these attacks in the strongest terms. Las Damas de Blanco is a strictly peaceful movement. To respond to such non-violent resistance with such brutal repression colours the Castro regime as tyrannical at best. If these attacks were not sanctioned by the authorities, then an investigation must be immediately initiated and given far-reaching jurisdiction.
The statement goes on to demand that “Tania Montoya and Rodaisa Corrioso must be immediately and unconditionally released”, while Babalu writes another post with “more graphic details” (including photos), saying:
A quick review this morning of the websites run by some prominent ‘Cuba Experts' finds no mention whatsoever of this brutal and violent attack on these defenseless yet courageous women. The narrative put forth by these ‘experts' mirrors the narrative put forth by the Castro regime…they are not about to shine the light of truth on the atrocities…
Uncommon Sense also weighs in, making the point that:
To its credit, a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Santiago de Cuba confirmed the report, and denounced the attack.
This has proven to be an interesting observation, considering Babalu's take on a USA Today editorial suggesting that:
Post-Castro Cuba will need someone trusted by all segments of society to help shepherd this nation into a new era, without bloodshed or upheaval. Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of Havana, is that man. The son of a sugar mill worker, Ortega is uniquely equipped to fill any power vacuum.
Babalu strongly disagrees:
In a colossal display of sheer ignorance and contemptuous arrogance, Pinsky nominates for president one of the most corrupted and compromised individuals in Cuba today while ignoring venerable leaders such as Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, who unlike Ortega, has not compromised his principles or allowed himself to be used as a political tool by the dictatorship.
El Cafe Cubano supports this view, saying:
This past Sunday in ‘Santiago de Cuba, a city in the Eastern province of Cuba, women pro democracy activists were savagely beaten and verbally attacked in the streets by Cuban State Security agents after they attended mass in the Basilica of El Cobre, a Catholic shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Charity, where they prayed for the freedom of all Cuban political prisoners and for the freedom of Cuba.'

The Catholic Church silent and looking the other way…
No doubt, the Cuban diaspora will continue to follow developments and provide cyber support for The Ladies in White.

Creative Commons LicenseWritten by Janine Mendes-Franco

However Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia about 10 hours ago on twitter said @jdanielferrer Ladies in White in Santiago de  #Cuba grateful for Archbishop Dionisio Garcia words calling aggression against women unworthy.

In Solidarity: Official Statement From Rotilla Organizers

Havana, Cuba. July 20th, 2011

Official Statement of the Directive Council of the Rotilla Festival

Purpose: Denunciation of the Kidnapping of Rotilla Festival

Rotilla Festival, founded in the year 1998, is the only event of its kind in Cuba. It is brought together every year in the month of august, and during three consecutive days it promotes and exposes the great majority of the demonstrations of the Cuban artistic vanguard. It is of a non-lucrative character, completely free and open to the public.

Originally it began as a movement promoting electronic music exclusively, since 2008 it incorporated in its artistic program musical bands of the most varied formats, but always under the principle of promoting the alternative within the arts.

In the same way, since its beginnings the festival has been administered INDEPENDENTLY by its founders, and practically without any collaboration of the Cuban authorities (state-government). That has been our policy and our position, we wanted to grow by ourselves, develop ourselves and
generate an authentic movement aimed specially at the youth with their true expectations and demands very much in mind.

In our last edition (2010), already because of the artistic proposals, because of the national and international press coverage, because of its long trajectory and the renown it has acquired world-wide, the festival obtained a record attendance of 20,000 people, thus placing itself as the longest running and most attended by youth event in the island. The great quantity of film material gathered in all this time legitimizes this claim.

Today, in 2011, Rotilla Festival faces its biggest challenge. The Cuban Government, personified by vice-president Esteban Lazo, together with the Ministry of Culture, personified by vice minister Fernando Rojas, aim to hijack the event from the hands of its organizers and founders, and produce it through government institutions, seizing and plagiarizing our name, our scheduled days and our convocation, distorting the very concept of the event, bringing to the "festival" bands that modify the
format that we ourselves, the festival's legitimate owners, had established. At the same time, the institutions questioned have offered the participating artists of this "event" monetary remuneration, in that way deteriorating the social relationship established historically (on a non lucrative basis) among the original organizers and the artists, and thus securing the performance of the latter.

Traditionally there existed a dialogue with the authorities, where they pressured us so that a certain group did not perform, and in exchange they would cooperate to allow the festival to happen. Thus it was established a modus vivendi, of coexistence. It has never being easy informing an artist that he cannot perform because the Ministry of Culture rejects him; but that, is the traditional folklore that we live in Cuba regarding art; everyone knows it. However, this time…the so-called institutions have gone too far. They have informed us informally, by way of Noel Soca, government official who heads the Commission of Recreation and Culture in the new province of Mayabeque, that we no longer had any involvement in the subject, that the festival would be run by the Ministry of Culture and the Institute of Music in the arranged days, as young people would attend any way.

The board of directors of Festival Rotilla headed to the Ministry of Culture, knowing that a meeting was being carried through with the purpose and name "Rotilla", in the offices of Fernando Rojas, vice
minister of Culture. From this meeting we were politely expelled; we had not been invited.

Censorship (already traditional), is one thing, and something very different is the theft, plagiarism, and hijacking of the work that has reached such high levels of attention at even international levels, and that counts with the congratulations of thousands of young Cuban people that have attended for years.

The organizing team of Rotilla Festival wants to clearly and categorically assert, that on this year 2011, the Rotilla Festival is cancelled, due to the ethical violence that has been manifested by the highest
authorities of Cuban culture.

We, organizers and authors of the Rotilla Festival, and I myself, its director and founder, DENOUNCE the theft, plagiarism, and kidnapping that this attitude represents for all the young people of this earth
that we today represent. We denounce the excessive and stubborn censorship that is being exerted against any cultural activity that DOES NOT originate in the so-called institutions. We denounce the harassment
to which we are constantly being put through. We denounce the surveillance and the subtle or direct threats to which we are subject daily.

"A country is not governed as one governs a barracks" said Jose Marti to the general Maximo Gomez on the occasion of the small war. We believe a country should foster pluralist thought, its society should be the owner and true sovereign of its nation, and above all, the owner of the good work constructed with the effort of many years and with its very own sweat.

The theft of one's own work, conceived as a life project, is the most immoral and deplorable act that the government of a nation could be involved in. It violates all the principles of revolutionary ethics,
whose concept is written in each corner of every neighborhood across the whole country.

We warn our leaders that this type of behavior attacks even the base of the social contract that is in place in Cuban society. It attacks the principle of respect that a populace (nation) must have for their
government. We believe this even contradicts some of the same points that have just been released by the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, ignoring some of the principles that were set forth;
leaving the children of Cuba wandering aimlessly without hope or direction.

To reconstruct the nation, it is evidently necessary that we all participate, and that participation can only be generated with the confidence and the respect between the government and its people. Such
acts will plant in us, today’s youth, distrust to build and create on our own land, because there is no guarantee that neither our creations nor our investments in time, human resources, and material resources will be respected.

We made it clear to our institutional counterpart that we will initiate the corresponding legal proceedings against them, because this act not only violates all known ethical and moral concepts, but also a set of laws on copyright and ownership of intellectual property that, we expect, are still in force in the Cuban nation.

It is time that each of us demand the rights that correspond to us as citizens, and that these rights mark our relationship with institutions. It is time to bring order to the folly (stupidity) and arbitrariness.

We want to do our exercise in our land, invest and earn doing what we do, our personal business, our party, and our festival. That right, which we demand, but do not have, is just and necessary.

The Rotilla Festival team invites anyone who identifies with or adheres to our cause to disseminate this speech by any means at their disposal. This way we can build today, the solidarity of tomorrow.

We hope that this statement is received with the same respect that we intended to print it. It is our intention to discuss reform, to grow and succeed, to build a nation for all where everyone has their own space to grow as confident and capable individuals.

Let there be no doubt that we will continue demanding the right to carry out our festival in the coming years, it is our legitimate right.


English  translation taken from Roots of Hope blog

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


La Habana, Cuba. 20 de Julio de 2011


Motivo: Denuncia del Secuestro del Festival Rotilla.

Rotilla Festival, fundado en el año 1998, es el único evento de su tipo en Cuba. Se realiza cada año en el mes de agosto, y durante tres días consecutivos promueve y expone la gran mayoría de las manifestaciones de la vanguardia artística cubana. Es de carácter no lucrativo, totalmente gratuito y abierto a todos los públicos.

Al principio comenzó siendo un movimiento promotor exclusivamente de la música electrónica, a partir del 2008 incorporó a su programa artístico bandas musicales de los más variados formatos, pero siempre bajo el principio de promover lo alternativo dentro de las artes. Igualmente el festival desde su nacimiento ha sido administrado de manera INDEPENDIENTE por sus fundadores, y sin prácticamente ninguna colaboración de las autoridades cubanas (estado-gobierno). Esa ha sido nuestra política y nuestra posición, queríamos crecer desde nosotros mismos, desarrollarnos y generar un movimiento auténtico dirigido especialmente hacia los jóvenes teniendo muy en cuenta sus verdaderas expectativas y exigencias.

En la ultima edición (2010), ya por las propuestas artísticas, por el eco de prensa tanto nacional como internacional, por la larga trayectoria y el renombre adquirido mundialmente, el festival obtuvo el récord en asistencia de 20 000 personas, colocándose así como el evento mas largo en tiempo y de mayor asistencia juvenil dentro la isla. La gran cantidad de materiales fílmicos acopiados en todo este tiempo así lo legitiman.

Hoy, en el 2011, Rotilla Festival enfrenta su mayor oprobio.

El Gobierno Cubano, en la persona del vicepresidente Estaban Lazo, junto al Ministerio de Cultura, en la persona del viceministro Fernando Rojas, pretenden secuestrar el evento de las manos de sus organizadores y fundadores, y realizarlo desde las instituciones estatales, arrebatando y plagiando para esto nuestro nombre, nuestros días señalados y nuestra convocatoria, violentando el concepto propio del evento, llevando al “festival“ bandas que modifican el formato que nosotros, sus legítimos dueños, habíamos establecido. Por otra parte, las instituciones en cuestión han ofrecido remuneraciones económicas a los artistas participantes en este “evento“ para de este modo deteriorar la relación social establecida históricamente (sin basamento lucrativo) entre los organizadores originales y los artistas, asegurando así la presentación de estos últimos.

Tradicionalmente había existido un dialogo con las autoridades, donde estas presionaban para que no se presentara determinado grupo y en cambio cooperaban para que se realizara el festival, se había establecido así un modus vivendi, de coexistencia. Nunca ha sido algo cómodo informar a un artista que no puede presentarse, pues el Ministerio de Cultura lo rechaza. Pero ese, es el folklore tradicional que en cuanto al arte se vive en Cuba. Eso es por todos conocido.

Sin embargo, en esta ocasión… han ido demasiado lejos las llamadas instituciones.
Nos han comunicado informalmente, a través de Noel Soca, funcionario que dirige la Comisión de Recreación y Cultura en la nueva provincia de Mayabeque, que no teníamos mas nada que ver con ello, que el festival sería realizado por el Ministerio de Cultura y el Instituto de la Música en los días señalados, pues los jóvenes iban a asistir de cualquier manera. La directiva del Festival Rotilla acudió al Ministerio de Cultura sabiendo que se estaba realizando una reunión con motivo y nombre “Rotilla“, en las oficinas de Fernando Rojas, viceministro de cultura. De ella fuimos cortésmente expulsados, no habíamos sido convidados.

Una cosa es la censura (ya tradicional), otra muy diferente es el robo, el plagio y el secuestro de una obra que ha alcanzado muy altos niveles de atención a nivel incluso internacional, y que cuenta con las congratulaciones de miles de jóvenes cubanos que allí han asistido por años. El equipo organizador de Rotilla Festival, quiere dejar muy claro y de manera categórica, que este año 2011, se cancela el Festival Rotilla, por la violencia ética que han manifestado las máximas autoridades de la cultura cubana.

Nosotros, realizadores y autores de Rotilla Festival, y en mi nombre propio, su director y fundador, DENUNCIAMOS el robo, el plagio y el secuestro que esta actitud significa para todos los jóvenes de esta tierra que hoy representamos. Denunciamos la excesiva y terca censura que se esta ejerciendo contra cualquier actividad cultural que NO provenga de las llamadas instituciones. Denunciamos el acoso a que estamos siendo sometidos de manera constante, a la vigilancia y las amenazas sutiles o directas de las que somos objeto cotidianamente.

“Un país no se dirige como se dirige un campamento!“ Dijo en ocasión de la guerra chiquita José Martí al generalísimo Máximo Gómez. Y es que en un país debe primar un pensamiento plural, su sociedad debe ser dueña y soberana verdadera de la nación, y por encima de todo, dueña de la buena obra construida con el esfuerzo de los años y el sudor de la propia frente.

El robo de una obra propia, que se concibe como proyecto de vida, es el acto más inmoral y deplorable en que se puede ver involucrado el estado-gobierno de una nación. Rompe con todos los principios de la ética revolucionaria, cuyo concepto esta escrito en cada esquina de cada barrio de todo el país.

Queremos advertir a nuestros líderes, que este tipo de actos, atacan incluso la base del contrato social vigente en la sociedad cubana. Arremeten contra el principio de respeto que un pueblo debe tener por su gobierno. Consideramos que incluso, contradice los mismos lineamientos que se acaban de lanzar con razón del VI Congreso del Partido Comunista de Cuba, ignorando algunos de los principios que allí quedaron plasmados; dejándonos a los hijos de Cuba sin norte de guía y sin esperanzas.

Para reconstruir la nación, es evidentemente necesario que participemos todos. Y esa participación solo se puede generar con la confianza y el respeto entre el estado–gobierno y la base de la sociedad, sus gentes. Este tipo de actos sembrarán entre nosotros, hoy los más jóvenes, la desconfianza a construir y crear en nuestro suelo, pues no existe garantía de hecho ni derecho de que serán respetadas nuestra creación o nuestra inversión en tiempo y recursos humanos y materiales.

Dejamos claro a nuestra contraparte institucional que iniciaremos los procesos legales correspondientes en su contra, pues este acto no es solo violatorio de todos los conceptos de ética y moral conocidos, sino también de un conjunto de leyes sobre derecho de autor y propiedad intelectual que esperamos, estén aún vigentes en la nación cubana.

Es hora que cada uno de nosotros exijamos los derechos que nos corresponden como ciudadanos, y que estos marquen nuestra relación con las instituciones. Es tiempo de poner orden a la insensatez y la arbitrariedad.

Queremos hacer nuestro ejercicio en nuestra tierra, invertir y ganar haciendo lo que hacemos, nuestro negocio personal, nuestra fiesta, nuestro festival, ese derecho, sí que lo exigimos, por que no lo tenemos. Es justo y necesario.
El equipo de Rotilla Festival invita a todo aquel que se identifique o adhiera a esta causa que se haga eco de este discurso y que lo difunda por cualesquiera de los medios a su alcance. Así edificaremos hoy la solidaridad del mañana. Esperamos que este comunicado sea recibido con el mismo respeto que hemos querido imprimirle, pues es nuestra intención dialogar para reformar, para crecer y salir adelante, para construir una nación para todos donde todos tengan a salvo su propio espacio y crezcan como individuos capaces y seguros de sí.

Que no quepa duda que vamos a continuar reclamando el derecho a realizar nuestro festival en los próximos años, es nuestro legítimo derecho.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Video and photo from 17 minute silent vigil today at Florida International University for 37 victims of tugboat massacre on July 13, 1994

"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

July 13, 1994 around 3:00am a group of Cubans, mostly families, put out to sea from port of Havana on the tugboat "13 de Marzo". 7 miles from shore agents of the Castro regime on boats with high pressure hoses attacked the tugboat splitting the stern. 37 men, women and children were killed. 17 years later their killers haven't answered for this crime.

Today students and activists gathered at the main fountain at Florida International University for 17 minutes of silence. One minute for each year that has passed in which the victims and their families have not had justice and their killers walk freely without having had to answer for their crimes in a court of law. This tradition has been carried out since 1995 and we will make every effort to see that it continues to be observed in the future until justice is achieved.

Below is a list of the 37 victims of the "13 de Marzo" Tugboat Massacre that took place 17 years ago today on July 13, 1994. Next to their names is their age on the day their lives were taken away by agents of the Cuban government. May they rest in peace and let us continue to pursue justice for them and their loved ones.

Hellen Martínez Enríquez (5 months old)

Xicdy Rodríguez Fernández (2 years old)

Angel René Abreu Ruiz ( 3 years old)

José Carlos Nicle Anaya (3 years old)

Giselle Borges Alvarez (4 years old)

Caridad Leyva Tacoronte ( 5 years old)

Juan Mario Gutiérrez García (10 years old)

Yasser Perodín Almanza (11 years old)

Yousell Eugenio Pérez Tacoronte ( 11 years old)

Eliecer Suárez Plasencia (12 years old)

Mayulis Menéndez Tacoronte (17 years old)

Miladys Sanabria Cabrera ( 19 years old)

Joel García Suárez ( 20 years old)

Odalys Muñoz García (21 years old)

Yaltamira Anaya Carrasco ( 22 years old)

Yuliana Enríquez Carrazana ( 22 years old)

Lissett María Alvarez Guerra ( 24 years old)

Jorge Gregorio Balmaseda Castillo ( 24 years old)

Ernesto Alfonso Loureiro ( 25 years old)

María Miralis Fernández Rodríguez ( 27 years old)

Jorge Arquímedes Levrígido Flores ( 28 years old)

Leonardo Notario Góngora ( 28 years old)

Pilar Almanza Romero ( 31 years old)

Rigoberto Feu González ( 31 years old)

Omar Rodríguez Suárez ( 33 years old)

Lázaro Enrique Borges Briel ( 34 years old)

Martha Caridad Tacoronte Vega ( 35 years old)

Julia Caridad Ruiz Blanco ( 35 years old)

Eduardo Suárez Esquivel ( 38 years old)

Martha M.Carrasco Sanabria ( 45 years old)

Augusto Guillermo Guerra Martínez ( 45 years old)

Rosa María Alcal de Puig ( 47 years old)

Estrella Suárez Esquivel ( 48 years old)

Reynaldo Joaquín Marrero Alamo ( 48 years old)

Amado González Raíces ( 50 years old)

Manuel Cayol ( 50 years old)

Fidencio Ramel Prieto Hernández ( 51 years old)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

17 years after the July 13, 1994 tugboat massacre: What do you plan to do?

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

Since members of the Free Cuba Foundation learned in 1994 that 37 men, women and children were massacred by agents of the Castro regime as they tried to flee to freedom in the early morning hours of July 13, 1994 aboard the "13 de Marzo" tugboat FCF members have taken part in or organized flotillas, lectures, and silent vigils for justice.

It is important to remember and denounce such injustices in an effort to ensure that these crimes are not repeated. In the video below survivors of the massacre describe what happened.

Last year we gathered at the main fountain at Florida International University for a moment of silence at 12 noon. This year we call on all people of good will to join us in a 17 minute silent vigil at noon. One minute for each year that has passed without justice.


Video above and below was taken on July 13, 2010

On the 15th anniversary of the massacre the Free Cuba Foundation invited a family member who had lost 14 relatives in the massacre. His name is Jorge Garcia and his testimony was powerful and gripping.

In prior years the Free Cuba Foundation has organized a silent vigil for justice at Florida International University at 12 noon. The video below is from 2006.

What do you plan to do now in 2011 to denounce this crime? Please comment below.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

U2 gives shout outs for a free Cuba and Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet

On June 29, 2011 at the U2360 concert in the Sun Life Stadium the Cuban freedom movement received a much needed double dose of solidarity from the Irish rock band U2.

In the video above at 5:58 Bono begans to talk about Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. Earlier during the same concert at Sun Life Stadium Bono also gave a shout out  for for a free Cuba took place at the beginning of the song "I'll Go Crazy Tonight" and you can watch it here.

For a more detailed description of what went on visit Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

See The Lost City at Florida International University on July 6, 2011 at 8:00pm

Havana, Cuba in the late 1950's, a Cuban family is caught in the violent transition from the oppressive authoritarian regime of Batista to the oppressive Marxist regime of Fidel Castro.

Magnolia pictures gave approval for the Free Cuba Foundation to show "The Lost City," his 2005 exploration of Cuba in the turbulent 1950s. The screening will take place on July 6, 2011 at 8:00pm at Florida International University at Graham Center 283A at University Park campus (107th Ave and SW 16 Street Miami, FL). We are co-hosting the event with FIU Students for a Free Tibet. The film stars Andy Garcia, Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray, Millie Perkins and Ines Sastre.  Millie Perkins starred as Anne Frank in the original film adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank in 1959.

Interview with Andy Garcia about The Lost City at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival below:

Additional information will be posted shortly.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Students and Activists Gather in South Florida to Observe Tiananmen Square Anniversary

Two years ago we gathered together at the University of Miami to remember. Today we repost this here on our blog in tribute to the men and women who lost their lives in June of 1989 in China for freedom and justice.

June 4, 2009                                                                                                                

The Free Cuba Foundation FIU, FIU Students for a Free Tibet, and UM CAUSA: Students United for a Free Cuba, Falun Gong, and Miami Friends of Tibet presented the documentary "Tank Man" holding a discussion ending in a candlelight vigil reading off a partial list of victims on June 3, 2009 and a moment of silence that ended at 10:31pm. A minute after the tanks entered the square and shooting began.


Julio Menache, co-president of the Free Cuba Foundation served as the moderator and began the event reading the  20th ANNIVERSARY OF THE TIANANMEN SQUARE MASSACRE STATEMENT which is reproduced below along with signatories.

Following the documentary Sherwood Liu of the Falun Dafa Practitioners Association of Florida, a university student in China at the time of the massacre gave a gripping presentation of what took place on June 3-4, 1989 and outlining two decades of repression and its impact on the Chinese people and their resigning from the Chinese Communist party.

Pt. 1

Pt. 2

Silvia Sarasua, Miami Friends of Tibet, analyzed US policy from George HW. Bush to the present and highlighted how US administrations had disengaged human rights from Most Favored Nation status and has been disastrous for human rights in China. She raised the question of what we as activists could effectively do raising the question of economic boycotts.

Tenzin Gayden, Students for a Free Tibet expressed his "solidarity and understand your feeling for the Chinese brothers and sisters who went through all this trouble twenty years ago. I am third generation Tibetan and I speak freely in front of you, but in Tibet there voices are being suppressed - they do not have the right to speak they do not have any human rights."

A representative of UM Causa recognized "the Cubans on the island that last year showed solidarity for the victims in China and wanted to show that we them support them also."

June 3, 2009


We honor the victims, many of them students, who sacrificed their lives for freedom, democracy, and reform twenty years ago in China.

We join with our Cuban brothers and sisters who one year ago paid tribute to the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre at the monument to the Chinese fallen in the Cuban War of Independence in Havana on June 4, 2008.

Like our counterparts on the island as students we feel a connection to those Chinese students who exercised their fundamental rights to associate and speak freely in defense of democracy and human rights. Many paid the highest price for freedom with their very lives.

On June 3-4, 1989 the Chinese military extrajudicially executed thousands of unarmed students and workers violently crushing the non-violent student initiated mass demonstrations. We will never forget this heinous crime.

Twenty years later China remains one of the most repressive regimes on the planet. Christians, Tibetans, Falun Gong practitioners and people of other faiths are systematically persecuted. Freedom of expression and association are systematically denied and censorship is ever present.

We repudiate the brutal actions of the government of communist China and call on the civilized world to hold accountable all those responsible for this atrocity, that a full investigation with the participation of international human rights organizations be carried out, and that justice be provided for the Chinese people slaughtered twenty years ago inside and outside of Tiananmen Square and their families.

We call on the democracies of the world to stand with the Chinese people in their desire to be free and have their human rights respected recognizing that the advancement of Chinese relations with the democracies of the world depends on the advancement of human rights in China.

Finally, we call for the immediate release of all Chinese prisoners of conscience and in particular those still imprisoned for taking part in the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations that remain imprisoned twenty years later such as Li Yujun, Zhu Gengsheng, Shi Xuezhi, Li Zhixin, Chang Jingqiang, Wu Chunqi, Yang Pu and Miao Deshun.

Miami, Florida June 3, 2009

1. Julio A. Menache, Free Cuba Foundation, Florida International University 11
2. Juan Carlos Sanchez, Free Cuba Foundation, Florida International University 11
3. Pedro Ross, Free Cuba Foundation, Florida International University 09
4. Susana Navajas, Free Cuba Foundation, Florida International University 10
5. Jennifer Grau, Free Cuba Foundation, Florida International University 09
6. John Suarez, Free Cuba Foundation, Florida International University 96
7. Neri Ann Martinez, Free Cuba Foundation, Florida International University 05
8. Rebecca Martinez-Arguello, Free Cuba Foundation, Florida International University 07
9. Isaac Martinez, Free Cuba Foundation, Florida International University 06
10. CAUSA: Students United for a Free Cuba, University of Miami
11. Silvia Sarasua, Miami Friends of Tibet
12. Jian Hu, Falun Dafa Practitioners Association of Florida
13. Sherwood Liu, Falun Dafa Practitioners Association of Florida
14. Linda Li, Falun Dafa Practitioners Association of Florida
15. Nancy Xia, Falun Dafa Practitioners Association of Florida
16. Victoria Wu, Falun Dafa Practitioners Association of Florida
17. Yanling Zhang , Falun Dafa Practitioners Association of Florida
18. Edie Bassen, Falun Dafa Practitioners Association of Florida
19. Regina Finnegan, PhD, Falun Dafa Practitioners Association of Florida
20. Marcus Green, Falun Dafa Practitioners Association of Florida
21. Kay Harmon, Falun Dafa Practitioners Association of Florida
22. Diana Crouch, Falun Dafa Practitioners Association of Florida
23. Kent McKinney, Falun Dafa Practitioners Association of Florida
24. David W. Lee, Falun Dafa Practitioners Association of Florida
25. Paulene Jasurek, Falun Dafa Practitioners Association of Florida
26. Sebastian Arcos, Cuban Committee for Human Rights, Florida International University 99, 08
27. Prof. Antonio Romero Piriz Red Uruguaya por Democracia para Cuba
28. Aramis L. Perez, Young Cubans in Action
29. Belkis Landa-Gonzalez, Ed.D, OTR/L Miami, FL
30. Tina Giamei-Valera Florida Tech University

At the end of the event the activists gathered around a main fountain on campus and held a vigil reading the names of some known to have been killed that day and listened to the unofficial anthem of the Tiananmen protests "I Have No Name" by Chinese rocker Cui Jian who had gone to the square and sang to the students days before.

For additional information visit the following: