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Saturday, December 19, 2015

126 FORMER CUBAN POLITICAL PRISONERS CALL ON PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA TO REVISIT HIS CUBA POLICY

Center for a Free Cuba sent the following statement along with the letter by the political prisoners in both English and Spanish that was delivered to The White House on December 17, 2015. On the same day many of this former political prisoners picketed The White House  protesting President Obama's policies. Free Cuba Foundation founder Augusto Monge was also present and took part in the demonstration.


WASHINGTON – On the morning of December 17, 2015, the White House received a letter asking President Barack Obama to revisit his Cuba policy in light of a considerable increase this year in political repression against peaceful human rights activists on the island. The letter hand-delivered at the White House this morning was signed by more than 100 former Cuban political prisoners who served a total of 1,945 years in Castro’s political prisons and forced labor camps.

The letter coincides with the one year anniversary of President Obama’s historic announcement on Cuba. The prisoners say that “based on our history and experience as political prisoners under Castro’s totalitarian regime, the new Cuba policy established by your Administration is a regrettable mistake.”

It “will prolong the life of the dictatorship, is worsening the human rights situation there, marginalizing the democratic opposition and compromising U.S. national security,” they said.

Writing three days after the President made a statement indicating he wants to travel to Cuba before the end of his term if “we’re seeing some progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans,” the former political captives said that “human rights violations in Cuba have a terrible history, but the current policy has taken a bad situation and made it worse. Violent beatings against activists peacefully assembling have escalated and worsened over 2015.”

“The Administration’s new Cuba policy over the past year,” they tell President Obama, “has compromised U.S. national security.” They remind the President that he commuted “Gerardo Hernandez’s two life sentences” and that Hernandez “was convicted for among other things conspiracy to murder three U.S. citizens and one resident of the U.S.” Hernandez helped plan their murders by Cuban warplanes on international airspace. Raul Castro gave medals to the Cuban pilots who committed the crime. By “returning him to Cuba where he received a hero’s welcome in what was an immense propaganda victory for the Castro regime [the Administration] sent a dangerous signal to those who would harm Americans,” the letter said.

A full text of the letter to the President with all of the signatures is attached.

The letter was given to the National Security Council at 9:38 this morning. The letter was given by Ernesto Diaz Rodríguez, former Cuban political prisoner and poet who served more than 22 years in Castro’s political prisons and forced labor camps. At 11 AM there will be a demonstration of political prisoners, families, and friends in front of the White House requesting that President Barack Obama ask Raul Castro to stop the attacks against the Ladies in White and to stop the beatings. The prisoners hope that if their request reaches the President, President Obama will call Raul Castro on the telephone to ask him to stop the beatings in Cuba. 




December 17, 2015

Mr. Barack H. Obama
President of United States of America
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Mr. President:

Based on our history and experience as political prisoners under Castro’s totalitarian regime, the new Cuba policy established by your Administration has been a regrettable mistake. This will prolong the life of the dictatorship, is worsening the human rights situation there, marginalizing the democratic opposition and compromising U.S. national security.

The normalization of relations is creating false expectations and granting benefits to the tyrannical regime in Cuba; it is also allowing the Paris Club to forgive billions in debt providing the regime hard currency which it funnels into its most repressive institutions: the military and intelligence services giving new life to what we’re dying institutions. Human rights violations in Cuba have a terrible history, but the current policy has taken a bad situation and made it worse. Violent beatings against activists peacefully assembling have escalated and worsened over 2015.

Politically motivated arbitrary detentions in Cuba as of the end of November 2015 are a documented total of 7,686 and are on track to break the previous record set in 2014 with 8,899 arrests. Over the course of this year the number of detentions have escalated: 178 in January; 492 in February; 610 in March; 338 in April; 641 in May; 563 in June; 674 in July; 768 in August; 882 in September; 1,093 in October; and 1,447 in November. Political prisoners continue to be a reality in Cuba.

Despite the claim that there would be continued support for improved human rights and democratic reforms in Cuba the past year has demonstrated otherwise. Inviting the Castro regime to the VII Summit of the Americas in Panama in April of 2015, violated the democratic ideals of the summit. The dictatorship’s anti-democratic and violent nature was made evident during the Summit with Cuban nationals and U.S. citizens beaten up by state security and requiring hospitalization and summit events interrupted by acts of repudiation organized by the Castro regime. The U.S. government responses were low level pro-forma protests while President Obama met with Raul Castro as an equal.

The Administration’s new Cuba policy over the past year has compromised U.S. national security. First, commuting Gerardo Hernandez’s two life sentences; he was convicted for among other things conspiracy to murder three U.S. citizens and one resident of the U.S., and returning him to Cuba where he received a hero’s welcome in what was an immense propaganda victory for the Castro regime, sending a dangerous signal to those who would harm Americans.

Secondly, removing Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list on May 29, 2015 despite: 1) the Castro regime being caught smuggling heavy weapons and ammunition through Colombia on February 28, 2015. 2) Being linked to international drug trafficking along with its client state Venezuela as reported on January 27, 2015. 3) Being in violation of UN international sanctions to North Korea on July 15, 2013 when caught smuggling tons of weapons and ammunition including ballistic missile technology. Ignoring this will get more Americans killed and undermine U.S. interests.

Finally, having the US Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas meet with the Castro regime’s Interior Minister Major General Carlos Fernandez Gondin in what was officially described as a visit of collaboration and engagement sends worrisome signals that should concern those who care about national security. Gondin has a history of engaging in the mistreatment of opposition activists and has an agenda to undermine U.S. interests, legitimizing him with an official visit sends a terrible message.

We the undersigned are political prisoners who collectively have served 1,945 years in prison for resisting the Castro dictatorship and fighting for democracy in our homeland of Cuba. We are writing this letter out of a deep conviction that this new U.S. Cuba policy will not only harm Cuban aspirations for a free and democratic Cuba while worsening human rights there but also endanger American lives.

Sincerely,

Signed by 126 former Cuban political prisoners who collectively have served 1,945 years in prison




En castellano:

17 de diciembre de 2015

Señor Barack H. Obama
Presidente de los Estados Unidos de América
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Señor. Presidente:

Basados en nuestra historia y experiencia como presos políticos bajo el régimen totalitario de los Castro, la nueva política hacia Cuba establecida por su Administración ha sido un lamentable error. Esa política prolongará la dictadura en el poder, está empeorando la situación de los derechos humanos en la isla, marginalizando a la oposición democrática y arriesgando la seguridad nacional de los EE.UU.

La normalización de las relaciones ha creado falsas expectativas y otorga beneficios al régimen tiránico de Cuba; y ha resultado en que el Club de Paris le perdone una deuda de miles de millones de dólares, facilitándole a La Habana divisas que destina a sus instituciones más represivas: los servicios militares y de inteligencia, renovándoles sus recursos que se encontraban bastante limitados. La historia terrible de las violaciones a los derechos humanos en Cuba ha empeorado y ha habido un aumento en las golpizas contra los activistas pro derechos humanos a lo largo del 2015.

Las detenciones políticas arbitrarias en Cuba hacia finales de noviembre 2015 ascendieron a 7.686 y están en camino de romper el record anterior del 2014 con 8.899 arrestos. A lo largo de este año el número de detenciones ha escalado: 178 en enero; 492 en febrero; 610 en marzo; 338 en abril; 641 en mayo; 563 en junio; 674 en julio; 768 en agosto; 882 en septiembre; 1.093 en octubre; y 1.447 en noviembre. Los presos políticos continúan siendo una realidad en Cuba.

A pesar de la afirmación de que habría apoyo continuo para lograr una mejoría de los derechos humanos y la democracia en Cuba, lo opuesto ha ocurrido durante este año. Invitar al régimen de los Castro a la VII Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá en abril de 2015 violó los ideales democráticos de la Cumbre. La naturaleza anti-democrática y violenta de la dictadura se hizo evidente durante la Cumbre cuando ciudadanos cubanos y americanos fueron golpeados por la seguridad del estado, necesitando ser hospitalizados, y algunos de los eventos de la Cumbre fueron interrumpidos por actos de repudio organizados por el régimen castrista. Las respuestas del gobierno de los EE.UU fueron pro-forma a bajo nivel mientras que el Presidente norteamericano se reunió con Raúl Castro de igual a igual.

La nueva política hacia Cuba de la Administración durante el año pasado puso en peligro la seguridad nacional de los EE.UU. Primero, conmutando las dos sentencias de cadena perpetua de Gerardo Hernández, convicto por otras cosas, por conspirar para asesinar a tres ciudadanos norteamericanos y a un residente de los EE.UU; devolviéndolo a Cuba donde fue recibido como un héroe en una inmensa victoria propagandística para el régimen de los Castro. Esa política envía una peligrosa señal a los que buscan hacerle daño a los norteamericanos.

Segundo, remover a Cuba de la lista de países que apoyan el terrorismo el 29 de mayo de 2015 a pesar de que el régimen de los Castro: 1) fue sorprendido traficando con armamentos bélicos y municiones por Colombia el 28 de febrero de 2015. 2) Está vinculado al narcotráfico internacional junto a su estado cliente Venezuela como fue reportado el 27 de enero de 2015. 3) Estar en violación de sanciones internacionales de la ONU contra Corea del Norte el 15 de julio de 2013 cuando fue sorprendida traficando toneladas de armamentos y municiones incluyendo tecnología de misiles balísticos. Ignorar esto hará que más norteamericanos sean asesinados y socavará los intereses de los EE.UU.

Finalmente, al reunirse el Subsecretario de Seguridad Interna Alejandro Mayorkas con el Ministro del Interior del régimen de los Castro, Mayor General Carlos Fernández Gondín, en lo que fue descrito oficialmente como una visita de colaboración y compromiso envía señales que deben preocupar a los responsables por la seguridad nacional. Gondín tiene un historial de participar en el maltrato de activistas de la oposición y tiene una agenda destinada a socavar los intereses de los EE.UU. Legitimar al General Gondín con una visita oficial envía un terrible mensaje.

Los firmantes somos presos políticos que colectivamente hemos cumplido 1,945 años de prisión por resistirnos a la dictadura de los Castro y por luchar por la democracia en nuestra patria de Cuba.

Escribimos esta carta debido a una convicción profunda de que esta nueva política norteamericana hacia Cuba no solo dañará las aspiraciones de los cubanos por una Cuba libre y democrática, mientras allí empeoran los derechos humanos, pero también pondrá en peligro las vidas norteamericanas.

Sinceramente,
  
Firmado por 126 ex presos políticos cubanos que colectivamente han servido 1.945 años en la cárcel










AN OPEN LETTER TO BARACK OBAMA ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE NEW CUBA POLICY

 Free Cuba Foundation is a member of the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance, a coalition of Cuban and Cuban-American pro-democracy organizations and reproduces this letter released on December 17, 2015 at a press conference at the Institute of Cuban and Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami.




AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE NEW CUBA POLICY

Coral Gables, Florida. December 17th, 2015- Assembly of the Cuban Resistance. Today two key organizations of the Cuban American community, the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance and the Cuban Democratic Directorate, issued an Open letter to President Barack Obama on the first anniversary of the announcement of the new Cuba policy. In both video and written formats, the letter presents to President Obama a powerful evaluation of the negative repercussions for the human rights movement in Cuba as a result of an engagement policy consisting of unilateral concessions to the Castro regime.



AN OPEN LETTER TO BARACK OBAMA ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE NEW CUBA POLICY
From
THE CUBAN DEMOCRATIC DIRECTORATE (DIRECTORIO)
17 December 2015


Mr. President:

A year ago today you announced a new policy towards Cuba. This policy has resulted in little more than one unilateral concession after another to a totalitarian dictatorship that has continuously oppressed the Cuban people for the past 56 years.

The first of these concessions was the return to Cuba of Castro agents, one of whom was directly involved in the murder, on February 24, 1996, of four young men, three of them US citizens and one a U.S. resident, who were Brothers to the Rescue volunteers piloting unarmed civilian aircraft over international waters while on a humanitarian mission. This first immoral act, together with all that followed, has emboldened the continued repression against the Cuban people.
Emboldened by acts such as these, the Castro Regime’s repression on the growing civic resistance movement in the island has grown ever more brazen. It is our goal in this letter to provide information on the events that have taken place on the ground, in Cuba, over the past year, and have had a direct effect on Cubans. 

Below we take these points from your December 17, 2014 speech announcing the new Cuba policy and contrast them with what has taken place in Cuba since that date.

President Obama quote: “[W]e welcome Cuba’s decision to release a substantial number of prisoners whose cases were directly raised with the Cuban government by my team.”

Mr. President: This December 10, 2015 – International Human Rights Day – more than 300 activists were arrested in Cuba. This continues a pattern of over 8,000 politically-motivated arbitrary detentions this year. Political prisoners continue to be unjustly jailed in Cuba. Some have responded to this injustice by declaring themselves on hunger strike leading to additional punishments by prison officials. Among these political prisoners, we are deeply concerned by the current plight of seven: Geovanys Izaguirre Hernandez and Laudelino Mendoza who have been imprisoned since November 6, 2015 for writing a sign that read, “We want change, and no more hunger;” Hugo Damian Prieto Blanco, who was detained on October 25, 2015 accused of charges of public disorder; Vladimir Morera Bacallao arrested and sentenced to four years in prison for writing on the wall of his home, “I vote for my freedom and not in elections where I cannot elect my president,” he has been on hunger strike since October 9th demanding his freedom; also, on hunger strikes since December 1, 2015, Felipe Martínez Companioni and Alexander Palacios Reyes, jailed for handing out human rights fliers; and Javier Jouz Varona since December 14, 2015 when he was imprisoned for carrying out opposition activities in the streets. I fear for their lives, Mr. President.

President Obama quote: “The United States believes that no Cubans should face harassment or arrest or beatings simply because they’re exercising a universal right to have their voices heard, and we will continue to support civil society there.”

President Obama: There is a clear linkage between U.S. rapprochement with the Castro Regime and escalating violence against Cuban activists. Earlier this year on May 24, 2015, a mother of two was machete attacked on the orders of State Security, losing her left hand, suffering deep and crippling cuts on her knees, and the machete cut through the bone of her right arm leaving it dangling. Her offense? As a regional delegate of the Peoples Power who tried to keep a neighborhood school open, when official channels ignored her requests, she went to the international press. Removed from her government position, she joined the democratic opposition and petitioned for improved human rights and freedoms.  This case is emblematic of the heightened violence against activists in Cuba since December 17, 2014.

President Obama quote: This April, we are prepared to have Cuba join the other nations of the hemisphere at the Summit of the Americas.  But we will insist that civil society join us so that citizens, not just leaders, are shaping our future. 

Mr. President:  Inviting the Castro Regime to the Summit of the Americas in Panama in April of 2015, violated the democratic ideals of the summit. The cost of ignoring the dictatorship’s anti-democratic and violent nature was made evident during the Summit when events were interrupted by acts of repudiation organized by the Castro Regime. On the eve of the Summit, a group of activists from Cuba and the United States that went to lay flowers at a statue of Jose Marti were viciously attacked by Cuban State Security. Several required hospitalization and needed to undergo extensive surgery for the injuries sustained. In spite of this, you met with Raul Castro and treated him as an equal, sending a dangerous signal to the Castro dictatorship, but also to hostile regimes everywhere, that the safety of Americans is not a priority.

President Obama quote: My fellow Americans, the city of Miami is only 200 miles or so from Havana.  Countless thousands of Cubans have come to Miami -- on planes and makeshift rafts; some with little but the shirt on their back and hope in their hearts.

Mr. President: The current U.S. policy that has abandoned the goal of regime change and is embracing a 56-year-old dictatorship has been received by millions of Cubans, who were initially hopeful, with profound despair as things have gotten worse. This, combined with a perception by the Castro Regime that the current administration is weak, has given a green light to another immigration crisis in the region. Tens of thousands have already sought to flee the prospects of a dynastic succession within a continuing Castro dictatorship.

President Obama quote: “I believe in the free flow of information.  Unfortunately, our sanctions on Cuba have denied Cubans access to technology that has empowered individuals around the globe.  So I’ve authorized increased telecommunications connections between the United States and Cuba.  Businesses will be able to sell goods that enable Cubans to communicate with the United States and other countries.”
    
Mr. President: The United States cannot be blamed for the lack of access of Cubans to technology.  To start with, a 1,600 kilometer (994-mile) fiber-optic cable between Venezuela and Cuba, estimated to cost $70 million, was actually completed in February 2011 and was due to come into operation in July 2011.  The Castro Regime’s officials have never explained why this cable remains unused.  The obvious reason, as stated by the prestigious NGO Reporters without Borders, is the political will of the Castro Regime to keep the Cuban people from freely accessing the Internet.  The Castro Regime tightly controls the distribution and use of computers in Cuba, and access to Internet cafes comes at a cost that most Cubans cannot afford.  Radio and TV signals from outside Cuba are routinely jammed, and low tech equipment from short wave radios to laptops have routinely been confiscated by the dictatorship. The Castro Regime limits access to technology for the same reason that it controls all media and imprisons independent journalists: so as to maintain the Cuban people uninformed and defenseless.  What’s more, over the past five years, despite your efforts in 2010 and again in 2014 of loosening sanctions, the Castro Regime has gone backwards, not forward in technology rankings. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies and is a respected reference source for international rankings. The ICT Development Index (IDI) is a composite index combining eleven indicators into one benchmark measure that can be used to monitor and compare developments in information and communication technology (ICT) between countries and over time. According to ITU between 2010 and 2015 Cuba has dropped in rank from 119th to 129th in the world in IDI overall rankings, falling behind countries such as Lesotho, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Honduras and Syria.

President Obama quote: Cubans have a saying about daily life: “No es facil” –- it’s not easy.  Today, the United States wants to be a partner in making the lives of ordinary Cubans a little bit easier, more free, more prosperous.

No, Mr. President, it hasn’t been easy for the Cuban Resistance to see the President of the world’s most powerful democracy shaking the hand of a dictator that has yet to pay for the crimes that he has committed against humanity.  Over the past year, life for the civic resistance movement of the Cuban people has become even more difficult, as well as for the Cuban people in general.  Emboldened by unilateral concessions, the Regime has increased repression and retrenched itself in power.  The thousands of monthly political arrests and the current mass exodus of Cubans are a result of this.  Now is not the time to unilaterally lift sanctions on the Castro Regime.  There is still time for the United States to lead an international coalition calling for the release of political prisoners, an end to repression and genuine free elections.  The Agreement for Democracy, signed on to by the vast majority of the Cuban opposition, shows a road map towards true change in Cuba. Only with this true change can the life of ordinary Cubans be easier, with freedom, justice and prosperity.




Sincerely,

Dr. Orlando Gutierrez Boronat,
National Secretary
Cuban Democratic Directorate (Directorio)



 


CARTA ABIERTA AL PRESIDENTE BARACK OBAMA EN EL PRIMER ANIVERSARIO DEL ANUNCIO DE LA NUEVA POLÍTICA HACIA CUBA

 Coral Gables, Florida- 17 de diciembre del 2015- Asamblea de la Resistencia Cubana. Dos importantes organizaciones de la comunidad cubano americana, la Asamblea de la Resistencia Cubana y el Directorio Democrático Cubano publicaron una carta abierta dirigida al Presidente Barack Obama, en el primer aniversario de su anuncio de cambio de política hacia Cuba. Las publicaciones, una escrita y la otra en forma de video, le presenta al Presidente Obama una evaluación contundente sobre las repercusiones negativas que ha tenido esta nueva política para el movimiento de derechos humanos en Cuba, como resultado de la misma, que consiste en hacer concesiones unilaterales al Régimen Castrista.



CARTA ABIERTA A BARACK OBAMA EN EL PRIMER ANIVERSARIO DEL ANUNCIO DE LA NUEVA POLITICA HACIA CUBA
De
EL DIRECTORIO DEMOCRATICO CUBANO
17 de diciembre de 2015


Sr. Presidente:

Hoy se cumple un año de que usted anunciara una nueva política hacia Cuba. Esta política ha logrado poco más que una sucesión de concesiones unilaterales a una dictadura totalitaria que incansablemente ha oprimido al pueblo cubano por los últimos 56 años.
La primera de estas concesiones fue el regreso a Cuba de agentes de Castro, uno de los cuales estaba directamente implicado en el asesinato, el 24 de febrero de 1996, de cuatro hombres, tres de ellos eran ciudadanos americanos y uno residente en los Estados Unidos, quienes eran voluntarios de Hermanos al Rescate y piloteaban aviones civiles desarmados sobre aguas internacionales mientras se encontraban en una misión humanitaria. Este primer acto inmoral, junto a todos los que le siguieron, han envalentonado a una incesante represión en contra del pueblo cubano.

Alentados por actos como este, la represión del Régimen Castrista en contra de la creciente resistencia cívica en la isla ha aumentado en brutalidad. Es nuestro objetivo con esta carta proveer información sobre los eventos que han ocurrido en el terreno, en Cuba, a lo largo del año pasado y han tenido un efecto directo para los cubanos.
A continuación tomamos como base los puntos que usted tocó en su discurso del 17 de diciembre de 2014, anunciando la nueva política hacia Cuba, y los contrastamos con los hechos que han ocurrido en Cuba desde esa fecha.

Presidente Obama cita: “Nosotros recibimos con placer la decisión de Cuba de liberar a un número sustancial de prisioneros cuyos casos han sido directamente propuestos por mi equipo al gobierno cubano”.

Sr. Presidente: Este 10 de diciembre de 2015 – Día Internacional de los Derechos Humanos – más de 300 activistas fueron arrestados en Cuba. Esto continúa con un patrón de más de 8,000 detenciones arbitrarias, políticamente motivadas este año. Los prisioneros políticos siguen siendo injustamente encarcelados en Cuba. Algunos han respondido a esta injusticia declarándose en huelga de hambre, lo que ha desencadenado castigos adicionales por parte de los oficiales de prisión. De estos prisioneros políticos, estamos especialmente preocupados por la situación actual de siete: Geovanys Izaguirre Hernández y Laudelino Mendoza quienes fueron encarcelados el 6 de noviembre de 2015 por escribir un cartel que decía, “Queremos cambios, no más hambre”; Hugo Damian Prieto Blanco, detenido el 25 de octubre de 2015 al serle imputado cargos de desorden público; Vladimir Morera Bacallao arrestado y sentenciado a cuatro años de prisión por escribir en la pared de su casa, “Yo voto por mi libertad y no en una elección donde no puedo elegir a mi presidente”, él ha estado en huelga de hambre demandando su libertad desde el 9 de octubre de 2015; también en huelgas de hambre desde el 1ro de diciembre de 2015, Felipe Martínez Companioni y Alexander Palacios Reyes, encarcelados por repartir panfletos sobre los derechos humanos; y Javier Jouz Varona desde el 14 de diciembre de 2015 cuando fue detenido por organizar actividades opositoras en la calle. Yo temo por sus vidas, Sr. Presidente.

Presidente Obama cita: “Los Estados Unidos cree que ningún cubano debe sufrir asedios, arrestos, o golpizas simplemente porque ejerciten el derecho universal de hacer sentir sus voces, y nosotros continuaremos apoyando a la sociedad civil allí”.

Presidente Obama: Hay una relación directa entre el acercamiento al Régimen Castrista y el escalamiento en la violencia en contra de los activistas cubanos. A comienzos del año, el 24 de mayo de 2015, una madre de dos, fue atacada con un machete bajo las órdenes de la Seguridad del Estado, perdiendo su mano izquierda, sufriendo heridas profundas que la mutilaron. El machete penetró a través del hueso de su brazo derecho, dejándolo colgando. ¿Su ofensa? Como delegada provincial del Poder Popular, intentó mantener abierta una escuela del barrio, cuando las vías oficiales ignoraron sus pedidos, ella contactó a la prensa internacional. Despedida de su posición en el gobierno, se unió a la oposición democrática y pidió el mejoramiento de los derechos humanos y libertades. Este caso es emblemático para ilustrar la creciente violencia en contra de activistas en Cuba desde el 17 de diciembre de 2014.

Presidente Obama cita: Este abril, estamos preparados para aceptar que Cuba se una a las otras naciones del hemisferio en la Cumbre de las Américas.  Pero, insistiremos en que la sociedad civil se una también, no solo los líderes están moldeando nuestro futuro”.

Sr. Presidente: Invitando al Régimen Castrista a la Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá en abril de 2015, violó los ideales democráticos de la Cumbre. El costo de ignorar la naturaleza violenta y anti-democrática de la dictadura fue evidente durante la Cumbre cuando los eventos fueron interrumpidos por actos de repudio organizados por el Régimen Castrista. En vísperas de la Cumbre, un grupo de activistas de Cuba y los Estados Unidos que iban a llevar flores a la estatua de José Martí fueron despiadadamente atacados por la Seguridad del Estado cubana. Muchos requirieron ser hospitalizados y necesitaron someterse a extensas operaciones por las lesiones sufridas. A pesar de esto, usted se encontró con Raúl Castro y lo trató como un igual, mandando una peligrosa señal a la dictadura Castrista, pero también a todos los regímenes hostiles en el mundo, de que la seguridad de los ciudadanos americanos no es una prioridad.

Presidente Obama cita: Mis compatriotas, la ciudad de Miami está a tan sólo 200 millas de La Habana.  Incontables miles de cubanos han venido a Miami – en aviones y balsas; algunos con poco más que la camisa que vestían y esperanza en sus corazones”.

Sr. Presidente: La política americana actual, la cual ha abandonado la meta de cambio de régimen y ha  abrazado a una dictadura de 56 años, ha sido recibida por millones de cubanos, quienes inicialmente estaban esperanzados, con profunda desesperación mientras la situación ha empeorado. Esto, aunado a la percepción del Régimen Castrista de que la actual administración es débil, ha dado luz verde a otra crisis migratoria en la región. Cientos de miles ya han intentado huir ante la perspectiva de una sucesión dinástica dentro de la dictadura Castrista.

Presidente Obama cita: “Yo creo en el libre flujo de información. Desafortunadamente, nuestras sanciones a Cuba han negado a los cubanos acceso  a la misma tecnología que ha dado poder a individuos alrededor del mundo. Es por esto que he autorizado un incremento en las conexiones de telecomunicaciones entre los Estados Unidos y Cuba. Los negocios tendrán la oportunidad de vender productos que permitan a los cubanos comunicarse con los Estados Unidos y otros países.” 
    
Sr. Presidente: Los Estados Unidos no pueden ser culpados por la falta de acceso de los cubanos a la tecnología. Para comenzar, un cable de fibra-óptica de 1,600 kilómetros (994-millas) entre Venezuela y Cuba, de costo estimado en $70 millones, fue completado en febrero de 2011 y debía comenzar a operar en julio de 2011.  Los oficiales del Régimen Castrista nunca han explicado porque este cable permanece sin uso. La razón obvia, como ha sido declarado por la prestigiosa ONG Reporteros sin Fronteras, es la voluntad política del Régimen Castrista la que evita el acceso libre a Internet de los cubanos. El Régimen Castrista estrictamente controla la distribución y uso de computadoras en  Cuba, y el acceso a las Salas de Navegación de Internet tiene un costo que los cubanos no pueden pagar. Las señales de Radio y TV que entran desde afuera de Cuba son rutinariamente interrumpidas, y los equipos de baja tecnología de radios de onda corta para laptops han sido normalmente confiscados por la dictadura. El Régimen Castrista limita el acceso a la tecnología por la misma razón que controla todos los medios de comunicación y encarcela a periodistas independientes: para poder mantener al pueblo cubano desinformado y desprotegido. Además, en los últimos cinco años, a pesar de los esfuerzos en el 2010 y de nuevo en el 2014 de debilitar sanciones, el Régimen Castrista ha retrocedido, y no progresado en clasificaciones de tecnología. La Unión Internacional de Telecomunicaciones (UIT) es la agencia especializada de las Naciones Unidas para las tecnologías de la información y comunicación, y es una fuente referencial respetada para clasificaciones internacionales. El Índice de Desarrollo de la UIT (IDI) es un índice compuesto que combina once indicadores en una medida de referencia que puede ser usada para monitorear y comparar el desarrollo de la tecnología de la información y la comunicación (ICT) entre países y a través del tiempo. De acuerdo a la UIT entre 2010 y 2015 Cuba ha descendido en la clasificación en el mundo, desde la posición 119 a la 129, de acuerdo a la clasificación general de IDI, ocupando un lugar detrás de países como Lesoto, Sudan, Zimbabue, Honduras y Siria.

Presidente Obama cita: Los cubanos tienen un refrán sobre la vida diaria: “No es fácil”.  Hoy, los Estados Unidos quiere colaborar en convertir las vidas de los cubanos comunes en algo un poco más fácil, más libre, más próspero. 

No, Sr. Presidente, no ha sido fácil para la Resistencia Cubana ver al Presidente de la democracia más poderosa del mundo dándole la mano a un dictador que todavía tiene que pagar por los crímenes que ha cometido en contra de la humanidad. En el último año la vida para el movimiento de Resistencia Cívico del pueblo cubano ha sido incluso más difícil, como también para el pueblo cubano en general.  Envalentonado por las concesiones unilaterales, el Régimen ha aumentado la represión y se ha afianzado en el poder. Los miles de arrestos políticos mensuales y el presente éxodo en masa de los cubanos son el resultado de esto. Ahora no es el momento para unilateralmente levantar las sanciones al Régimen Castrista.  Aún es tiempo para que los Estados Unidos lidere una coalición internacional que demande la liberación de los prisioneros políticos, el fin de la represión y elecciones libres genuinas. El Acuerdo por la Democracia, firmado por la mayoría de la oposición cubana, muestra una hoja de ruta hacia el cambio auténtico en Cuba. Sólo con este cambio verdadero puede la vida del cubano común ser más fácil, con libertad, justicia y prosperidad.


Le saluda atentamente,

Dr. Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat,
Secretario Nacional,
Directorio Democrático Cubano








Thursday, December 17, 2015

Obama administration Cuba policy summed up one year later: #FakeChangeInCuba

 Those who would negotiate with the dictatorship should know that this is what the dictator understands as the "normalization of relations" - Rosa Maria Payá over twitter on December 16, 2015

Picture posted by Rosa Maria along with tweet at the top of the page
 The Free Cuba Foundation is a youth movement founded at Florida International University that has been a steadfast advocate for human rights and freedom in Cuba. Last year we published an open letter titled "Not in Our Name" on December 29, 2015 after a discussion between members. A version of this letter was published in The Huffington Post on January 31, 2015. We stand by our statement and wish to highlight elements that have proven prescient.
"As was the case in 1996, this policy of appeasement had dire consequences for the democratic opposition in Cuba, which suffered several setbacks over the next four years. Prisoner-of-conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo died on hunger strike under suspicious circumstances in 2010; Ladies in White founder Laura Inés Pollán Toledo died from a suspicious illness in 2011; and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero died in the summer of 2012, under circumstances that point to a state security killing. Rising violence against opposition activists, including machete attacks, is a new and disturbing phenomenon."
Unfortunately, following this new relationship between the United States and Cuba the pattern of violence against activists was escalated by the Castro regime. Cuban human rights defender, Sirley Ávila León, age 56, was gravely wounded in a machete attack in Cuba on May 24, 2015 by Osmany Carrión who had been sent by state security agents. She lost her left hand while raising it to block a machete blow to the head. She suffered deep cuts to her neck and knees, lost her left hand and the machete cut through the bone of her right humerus leaving her arm dangling.

Cuban State Security arranged machete atack against dissident on May 24, 2015
 Sirley Ávila León, a one time delegate of the People’s Assembly of Majibacoa worked through official channels to represent her community but when they ignored her requests to keep a school open she went to the international media and was later removed from office. She joined the democratic opposition. This led to escalating acts of repression by state security against the 56-year-old mother of two culminating in this attack. She is still in danger and her assailant is free to walk the streets of Cuba.
Augusto Monge (FCF) assaulted by Cuban State Security in Panama
 At the same time in our original statement we expressed the concern that the regime's violence would escalate not only in Cuba but also overseas due to the impunity granted by the Obama administration:
FCF is concerned that releasing the three remaining spies, including Gerardo Hernandez -- who was serving two life sentences, one of them for conspiracy to murder four members of Brothers to the Rescue in exchange for Gross and an unknown Cuban intelligence operative -- may lead to the Castro regime murdering more innocents inside and outside of Cuba. 
 We never thought that one of our founders, Augusto Monge, while attending the Summit of the Americas in Panama on April 8, 2015 would be brutally assaulted by Cuban diplomats and state security agents while laying a wreath for José Martí in a public park in an attack that could have easily ended in fatalities.

The fact that the President of the United States still met with Raul Castro following this and other incidents of violence at the Summit, including acts of repudiation coordinated and carried out by Castro regime officials and agents only substantiates our original concern. This indifference to the regime's violent maneuvers in Panama that included assaults on U.S. citizens sends a dangerous signal to enemies of the United States on the low priority placed on the safety and security of Americans. We did predict that this new policy would embolden the worse elements in the Castro regime:
"[T]he signal sent to the hardline elements within the regime is clear: operating with criminal impunity delivers results. This was the same message sent by President Clinton in 2000."
Martin Luther King Jr. in his 1958 book Stride Toward Freedom observed that "True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice." Unfortunately, the trends in Cuba under the current totalitarian regime is generating huge tensions in the population which is why millions have fled the island over the past 56 years and why after this December 17, 2014 policy announcement by the Obama administration has resulted in a wave of 70,000 Cubans so far in 2015 fleeing to the United States. The lesson is clear, there will be no peace until Cuba is truly free.

Reverend King in the above mentioned book also explained in strategic terms why a resistance movement should and must remain nonviolent in order to achieve liberation:
"A mass movement of a militant quality that  is not at the same time committed to  nonviolence tends to generate conflict, which  in turn breeds anarchy. The support of the  participants and the sympathy of the uncommitted  are both inhibited by the threat that bloodshed  will engulf the community. This reaction in turn  encourages the opposition to threaten and resort to force. When, however, the mass movement  repudiates violence while moving resolutely toward its goal, its opponents are revealed as the instigators and practitioners of violence if it occurs.  Then public support is magnetically attracted to the advocates of nonviolence, while  those who employ violence are literally disarmed  by overwhelming sentiment against their stand."
When elements in the Civil Rights movement abandoned nonviolence in favor the Black Power Movement and the Black Panthers the great victories stopped and the negatives began to pile up. The Free Cuba Foundation has learned this lesson from history. We will continue to resist and fight injustice using all the nonviolent weapons at our disposal.

Over the past year we have marched, fasted, held silent vigils to remember the victims of regime violence, taken part in a caravan, called for a boycott, protested against Hillary Clinton's position on Cuba, challenged hypocritical positions with regards to violence against women, spoke out and refused to go along with the narrative that young people approve this policy protesting the failed Obama-Kerry Cuba policy on the streets of Miami on the day the U.S. embassy in Havana held its flag raising ceremony and shouted down Raul Castro and his entourage at the Cuba Mission in New York City.


We will be taking action again today on the one year anniversary of this disastrous policy announcement in a peaceful protest. Tomorrow we will honor the memory of a great friend not only to Cubans but oppressed peoples around the world: Vaclav Havel. We will be wearing our trousers short to honor his memory on December 18th and invite you to join us in this international action.

Every year since the week following the 1996 shoot-down, FCF members have joined together to hold a silent vigil at Florida International University on February 24th between 3:21pm and 3:27pm at the times both planes were blown up by Castro's MiGs in remembrance of Armando, Carlos, Mario, and Pablo who gave their lives in service to others in a continuing demand for justice. This tradition has been maintained for the past 19 years and next year on Wednesday, February 24, 2015 at 3:21pm we will gather with the families of the four martyrs. This past year Miriam de la Peña addressed the commutation of Gerardo Hernandez's sentence at FIU the day before President Obama arrived on campus to address immigration.

We will continue to demand justice and freedom for Cuba. Today, December 17, 2015 the Free Cuba Foundation is asking friends of freedom to use the hashtag #FakeChangeInCuba in English and #CambioFraudeEnCuba in Spanish to let the world know that no positive change has occurred as a result of the current U.S. policy on Cuba.

Friday, December 11, 2015

#OneBillionRising at Miami Dade College on Human Rights Day: What She Said

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." - Elie Wiesel 

Berenice H González, (15) knife attacked in 2012 for defending Ladies in White.
Our purpose was to bear testament for the Cuban women who have been brutalized by a 56-year-old dictatorship in Cuba that systematically violated human rights today. Sadly, International Human Rights Day in Cuba was once again a day of crackdowns and repression against nonviolent dissenters in order to block the Ladies in White from peacefully assembling and marching for the freedom of political prisoners.

Cuban artist and libertarian Ana Olema
What she said
Hopefully after today Eve Ensler will received the message given by Libertarian activist and artist Ana Olema who spoke up for Cuban women subjected to brutal repression for having the courage to speak their mind and demand freedom. Below is Ana Olema's recollection of what took place initially posted over facebook along with video of the statement she made at the end of the gathering: 
#SayHerName THIS WAS WHAT WE DID!!! Today December 10th, "International Human Rights Day," John Suarez, Diddier Santos, Augusto  and two more activists entered into the celebration that was planned in the "Miami Dade College" for "International Human Rights Day" with "Eve Ensler's One Billion Rising Voices celebration of International Human Rights Day ".

"One Billion Rising Voices" is a movement to fight violence against women and girls. Eve Ensler is the author of "The Vagina Monologue" that we both saw in Cuba, and most of her research is focused on feminism; nevertheless Eve last October went to Cuba and made a presentation of her work there, meeting and admiring Mariela Castro without saying anything, but anything about the violence committed, systematically by the Castro STATE against women who politically oppose the regime.

The hypocrisy of the feminist movement is endless, and there we were this group of activists to introduce ourselves. Right now, at this moment, many women are being oppressed, abused, segregated, shut in their homes, left incommunicado ... we defended equality (as I said) but I refer to that of the individual ... of the individual with rights and freedoms . Because you can not be feminists and admire the great macho oppressor "Totalitarian State" or believe in that vague collectivist illusion called "Revolution."

That was our morning (before going to work, to provide our food), imploding from within, creating discomfort. It was uncomfortable, it was difficult, almost did not make it ... But at least they did not cut my arms, literally, as is done to some of them ... in honor of those who now quarrel nonviolently.
#SayHerName #FreeCubaFoundation #WeAllMarch #LibertarianCuba 
Question sent out to social media during the event
 The young woman at the top of the page, Berenice Héctor González, was knife attacked on November 4, 2012 for verbally defending The Ladies in White, a women's human rights movement. News of the attack only emerged a month later because State Security had threatened the mother that her daughter would suffer the consequences if she made the assault public. Berenice was 15 years old at the time of the assault.

What Eve Ensler didn't say publicly when she met with the Castro regime

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

International Human Rights Day at Miami Dade College: Cause for Celebration and Protest

"Free expression is the base of human rights, the root of human nature and the mother of truth. To kill free speech is to insult human rights, to stifle human nature and to suppress truth." - Liu Xiaobo, Chinese prisoner of conscience and Nobel Laureate





International Human Rights Day is a day to highlight the many remaining human rights challenges and the universal consensus found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  We salute Miami Dade College honoring human rights pioneer Ricardo Bofill on December 9, 2015, the eve of International Human Rights Day. Free Cuba Foundation members also celebrate Mayor Tomas Regalado of the City of Miami declaring today Ricardo Bofill Day during the Miami Dade College event. Both human rights defenders Ofelia Acevedo and Carlos Alberto Montaner celebrated the life and work of Ricardo Bofill.
Ricardo Bofill with Mayor Tomas Regalado (Photo by Rosa Maria Payá)
Sadly we are not in a celebratory mood with the activity planned for International Human Rights Day itself  with Eve Ensler's One Billion Rising Voices celebration of International Human Rights Day. One Billion Rising Voices claims to be a global movement seeking to end violence against women and girls through benefit productions of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works. In late October she visited Cuba and performed her works there and met with Mariela Castro ( the dictator's daughter) and did not publicly raise the issue of systemic regime violence against Cuban women who dissent.

Therefore in an effort to raise attention to the violence visited on Cuban women by the Castro dictatorship Eve Ensler met with and did not speak about the Free Cuba Foundation has produced three posters highlighting cases of violence against Cuban women by agents of that regime. The posters highlight instances of regime violence from 2011, 2013 and 2015. There are many more cases.

Laura Pollán was repeatedly beaten by the Castro regime’s agents between 2003 and 2011 for rising up for human rights in Cuba. The Ladies in White founder who through nonviolent marches demanded Cuban prisoners of conscience be freed died under suspicious circumstances on October 14,2011. She had been a school teacher.

On Sunday, July 21, 2013 Sonia Álvarez Campillo was brutally beaten by agents of the Cuban government for her dissent and suffered lasting physical damage.  Over twitter the aftermath of the attack was posted by her daughter Sayli Navarro who tweeted the above quote and independent journalist Ivan Hernandez Carrillo tweeted: "This is the Lady in White Sonia Álvarez Campillo after today's first act of repudiation against the Ladies in White."

Cuban human rights defender, Sirley Ávila León, age 56, was gravely wounded in a machete attack in Cuba on May 24, 2015 by Osmany Carrión who had been sent by state security agents. She lost her left hand while raising it to block a machete blow to the head. She suffered deep cuts to her neck and knees, lost her left hand and the machete cut through the bone of her right humerus leaving her arm dangling. Sirley Ávila León, a one time delegate of the People’s Assembly of Majibacoa worked through official channels to represent her community but when they ignored her requests to keep a school open she went to the international media and was later removed from office. She joined the democratic opposition. This led to escalating acts of repression by state security against the 56-year-old mother of two culminating in this attack. She is still in danger and her assailant is free to walk the streets of Cuba.

Our purpose is to bear testament that Cuban women have been brutalized by a 56-year-old dictatorship in Cuba that systematically violating human rights today. Unfortunately, International Human Rights Day in Cuba is a day of crackdowns and repression against nonviolent dissenters. Hopefully Eve Ensler will receive this message and in the future speak up for Cuban women subjected to brutal repression for having the courage to speak their mind and demand freedom. It is ironic that in a hemisphere were women have been elected to the highest office in the land as has been the case in Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil, and elsewhere that a dictatorship run by two brothers for 56 years in a patriarchal and chauvinist manner would be celebrated by someone claiming to be a feminist and defender of women.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

In Memory of Jorge Valls: Remembering the Christian mystic and Cuban human rights defender

Requiem for a good man

Jorge Manuel Valls Arango (1933 - 2015) Photo: The Miami Herald
Cuban exiles in Miami have been blessed with the presence of at least two saints. One was a man of the cloth forcibly exiled at gun point, who inspired a community to build Our Lady of Charity with individual small donations and have it become a national shrine for the Cuban exile community. His name is Bishop Agustín Román and he was called home on April 11, 2012. The other was a Catholic layman who had a leading position in a student movement resisting the Batista dictatorship that led prison in Cuba and exile in Mexico. He returned to Cuba only to be jailed in 1964 for supporting a friend in a show trial, disguised as a judicial proceeding, to 20 years in prison. Jorge Valls would complete the 20 year sentence and then be forced to serve another 40 days in prison. He was released in 1984 and two years later published his prison memoir, Twenty Years and Forty Days: Life in a Cuban Prison. In 1987 the former prisoner of conscience gave his testimony in the documentary, Nobody Listened that is available online. In a December 12, 1992 article in the Sun Sentinel, Jorge gave the following description of prison life:
"Prison is a very spiritual place. You`re always dealing with good and evil, right and wrong. Every night there were five or six executions. That was the reality of Christ. Because everyone goes to the cross; everyone dies. Christ suffered with us, and afterward he resurrected. That`s important. It means you don`t accept injustice as the only thing."
In 2009 the former prisoner of conscience and poet sat down with a member of the Free Cuba Foundation and spoke about his life, human rights and Cuba. Below is the first part of the interview.


Jorge Valls was called home on October 22, 2015. Today, family and friends gathered to pray for him in a Holy Mass at St. Kevin's Church and said "until we meet again." Below are two poems from Jorge Valls` award-winning 1983 book Where I am There is No Light and It is Barred. He is greatly missed.

I am up to my neck in rising blood.
It`s a black and sour blood.
I am tied up with a rope of blood.
I`m speaking with a voice
made of bubbles of blood.
I`m being heard by five ears of blood.
I`m  traveling in a blood-smeared car.
I`m disintegrating into worms of blood.
The worms grow and multiply
(it is the destiny of blood).
They are invading everything.
They are sputtering like clay rattles:
... Abel ... Abel ... Abel ...
A hundred skulls are served up in blood
upon a bare table.
I`m talking, unwittingly, with the creator of the blood,
with the bestower of the blood.
The blood reaches my nostrils.
The whole world is sinking in a vomit of blood.
... Abel ... Abel ... Abel ...



-- Where I am there is no light
and it is barred.
Just beyond
there lies a lighted space.
Therefore light must exist.
Nonetheless,
further on, there is an even deeper gloom.
There are no hanged men now:
all of them are on fire.
Could they be made of kerosene inside?
They go on talking,
moving from here to there,
from there to here,
unendingly.
Some are sleeping.
Someone is outside.
Somewhere there is sunshine.
Inevitably, the sun exists.
I can no longer leave:
I`ll go and sleep.
Inevitably, I`ll wake up again.
And so on, and on and on.
The kerosene burns inexhaustibly.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Cuban Espionage in the US: The WASP network

The murderous effectiveness of the Castro spy apparatus among us


 On Thursday, October 15 lecture on “Cuban Espionage in the U.S.: The W.A.S.P. network” was held in FIU’s Rafael Diaz-Balart College of Law building (Hall Room #1009) and started at 12 noon with Sebastian Arcos Cazabon, of the Cuban Research Institute; Hector M. Pesquera, FBI agent, Miami Field Office who investigated the WASP network; and David M. Buckner, who prosecuted them in U.S. v. Gerardo Hernandez, et al. Below are excerpts from the presentations and provide new insights into this deadly Cuban spy network that conspired to murder American citizens o U.S. soil and international airspace. The plan to terrorize and mail bomb an alleged CIA agent in Florida did not materialize. However the shoot down of two civilian planes in international airspace on February 24, 1996 did claim four innocent lives. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of the men responsible for this setting them free on December 17, 2014.




 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Activist shouts down Raul Castro's motorcade as it arrived at the Cuban Mission in NYC

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

Rolando Pulido (Left) Augusto Monge (Center) Rosa Maria Payá (Right)


The reasons to protest the Castro regime are numerous and well documented. On September 28, 2015 Cuban exiles from around the country gathered in New York City in front of the United Nations and  in front of the Cuban Mission to the United Nations to protest against Raul Castro and his dictatorship. 

Towards the end of the day, when most of the protesters had left, FCF founder Augusto Monge on his way back from lunch happened upon Raul Castro and his motorcade returning to the Cuban Mission. In the video below, you can hear Augusto Monge denouncing Raul Castro, the dictatorship's delegation and calling for the freedom of jailed artist and prisoner of conscience Danilo Maldonado known as "El Sexto."
 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Freedom Fast and Mass at La Ermita on September 20th

A complete fast is a complete and literal denial of self. It is the truest prayer. - Mohandas Gandhi


The Cuban exile community's spiritual battle for a free Cuba is carried out with prayer and fasting. Join us in fasting and prayer for the nonviolent democratic resistance in Cuba, that their demand for a general amnesty for all political prisoners be granted, that the systematic violation of human rights be ended, that a democratic transition and an authentic national reconciliation take place.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fasting for a free Cuba during Pope Francis's visit to the island.

Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. - Psalm 146:3
 



 The Free Cuba Foundation is calling on people of good will to join us in fasting and prayer during the visit of Pope Francis to Cuba beginning with his arrival on September 19, 2015 at 4:00pm and ending on September 22, 2015 at 12:30pm.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski asked the South Florida community at the end of the Solemn Mass on the Feast Day for Our Lady of Charity on September 8, 2015 to prepare for Pope Francis’s visit to Cuba with a novena(nine days of prayer) to the Mother of God under her title of “Desatanudos” (Undoer of Knots). Inspired by this call to prayer and reflection we will also be praying and fasting for a free Cuba and for Pope Francis to have a successful visit to the island. The following is a prayer to aid in fasting taken from Catholic Online:
 Hanging as a vine upon the Wood,
O Christ our Saviour,
Thou hast made the ends of the earth
to drink from the wine of incorruption.
Therefore do I cry aloud:
I am darkened always by the hateful drunkenness of sin;
Give me to drink from the sweet wine of true compunction,
and grant me now the strength, O Saviour,
to fast from sensual pleasures,
for Thou art good and lovest mankind.
- St. Joseph Studite, Lenten Triodion
This fast is being done to pray for the nonviolent democratic resistance in Cuba, that their demand for a general amnesty for all political prisoners be granted, that the systematic violation of human rights be ended, that a democratic transition and an authentic national reconciliation take place. Please join us by saying the following prayers to prepare ourselves spiritually and to pray for Cuba's prisoners of conscience. To further prepare ourselves spiritually we will pray the prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.
Presently there are at least 71 political prisoners that we know of in Cuba and no doubt countless more whose names remain unknown. The following prayer taken from St. Peter's Church, Fairwater is for them:

Prayers for Prisoners of Conscience

Let us pray for the tortured, 
for prisoners of conscience,
people imprisoned without a just trial,
for the innocent who have been swept away
from family and community in raids at dead of night. 
Surely we, who take the gift of freedom for granted, 
Should often hold them up before God the all-merciful.

Christ calls them blessed
but their aching limbs
their sense of isolation and abandonment 
the psychological torture of uncertainty -
will they live to see another day ? – 
does all this give them a sense of blessedness -
or forsakenness ?

Our attempts to contact them
or their families or their church
may seem a ‘long shot’ – a drop in the ocean;
that costs us very little.
But small gestures can be full of meaning,
can help to keep the fragile Body of Christ whole.
May they feel part of us – as we seek to remember them.

Our prayer that their captors
Whether unjust judges 
or warders just carrying out their jobs, 
may show some compassion – 
awareness of their shared humanity.
May the families and communities of the victims
Know that they are not ‘the forgotten ones’.

As we rejoice in the freedom we enjoy
through the saving word of Christ,
so we pray that those who dwell in a valley of darkness
may yet experience the light of Christ.
For it is always better to light a candle 
than curse the darkness.
May our prayer be a reflection of that light
that no one can put out – 
even the most awful dictator – 
because it comes from God.

We also ask you to pray for those who have suffered the violence of the Castro regime such as Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, Harold Cepero, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the 37 victims of the "13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre, and the four members of Brothers to the Rescue, and many more.

A Prayer for Victims of Violence
Almighty and Ever-Loving God,
in you we place our trust and hope.

You guide everything with wisdom and love.
Hear the prayers we offer
for those who have been hurt or lost their lives.
May your love gently wipe the tears from our eyes
and remove the fear from our heart.

Look also with favor upon the families
and friends who mourn the victims
and comfort those who are in grief and despair.
We ask this in your name. Amen.

We ask all those who will be participating individually or in a group to use the hashtags #FastForFreedom and #AyunoPorLaLibertad along with posting photos and videos of fasting and prayer actions taken.

Three actions will be carried out between September 19 and September 22 if you would like to join us then e-mail frcbfndtn@gmail.com for more information. More information will be forthcoming.