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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.