Saturday, December 19, 2015
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
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.
Signed by 126 former Cuban political prisoners who collectively have served 1,945 years in prison
17 de diciembre de 2015
Señor Barack H. Obama
Presidente de los Estados Unidos de América
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
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.
Firmado por 126 ex presos políticos cubanos que colectivamente han servido 1.945 años en la cárcel
Cuban Democratic Directorate (Directorio)
Directorio Democrático Cubano
Thursday, December 17, 2015
|Picture posted by Rosa Maria along with tweet at the top of the page|
"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|
|Augusto Monge (FCF) assaulted by Cuban State Security in Panama|
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.
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
|Berenice H González, (15) knife attacked in 2012 for defending Ladies in White.|
|Cuban artist and libertarian Ana Olema|
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|
|What Eve Ensler didn't say publicly when she met with the Castro regime|
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
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)|
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.
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.