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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Students and Activists Declare Their Commitment to Struggle for a Free Cuba on the 40th Anniversary of the 13 de Marzo

 20 years later a look back to a youth gathering at Florida International University on March 13, 1997. Over the next twenty years the Free Cuba Foundation would host and members of the Cuban Democratic Directorate would gather on February 24th to remember the victims of the Brothers to the Rescue shootdown and on July 13th to remember the victims of the "13 de marzo" tugboat massacre at Florida International University in a nonviolent call to justice.
Ana Carbonell of Alliance of Young Cubans recalls student activism
On March 13, 1997 at Florida International University student activists who have been fighting for the cause of Cuba's freedom since 1968 came together to declare once again their commitment for a free Cuba. Members of Abdala, Cuban Committee for Human Rights, Directorio Revolucionario Democratico Cubano, Generation 90, and the FREE CUBA Foundation spoke of their experiences through the years and addressed current problems.
The event began with Janisset Rivero of the Directrorio Revolucionario Democratico Cubano introducing an 11 minute video produced by Dr. Juan Clark which described the rafter crisis and the events leading up to the shootdown of the two Brothers to the Rescue planes on February 24, 1996 between 3:20 and 3:28pm. Mario De La Peña was a member of the Directorio Revolucionario Democratico Cubano, and Armando Alejandre Jr was an FIU alumnus.

John Suarez of the FREE CUBA Foundation introduced the speakers and explained the purpose of this event. According to Mr. Suarez, "March 13, 1957, July 13, 1994, and February 24, 1996 are three tragic dates in Cuban history tied together for two reasons: on all three dates youth were brutally murdered, and each date, in a cause and effect fashion, leads to the next. The massacre of Cuba's young democratic leadership on March 13 opened a vacuum filled by Fidel Castro. Fidel Castro made Cuba a living hell which has driven millions of Cubans to leave the island, and the regime has sought with violence to stop this flight to freedom. The July 13 massacre of men, women and children aboard the 13 de Marzo tugboat is just another barbaric example. The outrage of the July 13 massacre touched the Cuban nation profoundly. It led to the overflights of Havana one year later on July 13, 1995 which so outraged the Castro regime that they shot down the planes over international waters on February 24, 1996. This is why the 40th anniversary of the Assault on the Presidential Palace on March 13, 1957 should be a time to reflect on what is happened, and what is left to be done."

Lorenzo De Toro III of G-90 spoke of the internal opposition and their need for support from the exile. Citing the examples of the dissidents in Poland and Czechoslovakia he predicted that the future leaders of Cuba are in Cuba and need our active support. De Toro played a recording of support for this reunion by one of the internal opposition groups.

Sebastian Arcos Cazabon of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights spoke of the present plight of the political prisoners and their families inside of Cuba. He called on the community to support the families of these political prisoners. When you are arrested for opposing the regime you go to prison, your relatives are blackballed, and your immediate family is unemployable. Without outside assistance there is no internal opposition.

Juan Jose De Castro of the DRDC made the argument for the necessity of using non-violence as a tool to struggle against the Castro tyranny. He observed that the opposition to Castro does not have an army, and therefore making a war is impossible. Furthermore, that one of our main flaws as Cubans has been our embracing of a culture of violence.

Ana M. Carbonell of the Alliance of Young Cubans spoke of their battle to raise awareness in Canada. The Alliance had raised funds and bought billboards which read: Your Paradise...Their Hell. The billboards contrast the tourists paradise with the Hell the Cuban people are suffering under an oppressive tyranny.

Pedro Solares of Abdala spoke of the necessity to integrate the current generation into the struggle against tyranny and injustice. He spoke of the days when many believed that socialism was the future, and how Abdala stood up to this tide of popular belief, and said No! He spoke of chaining themselves to the Statue of Liberty and shutting it down when Pedro Luis Boitel, a student leader, died on hunger strike in a Cuban dungeon.

At the end of the presentations, and the questions and answers that followed a declaration was signed by the various organizations. The FIU Declaration declared it support for the principles set out by Concilio Cubano, and pledges to support the leadership of the internal opposition, increase awareness of the plight of the political prisoners, embrace the principle of non-violent resistance, and call on the exile community to educate the present generation on the ongoing tragedy in Cuba.

The event ended with Janisset Rivero reading a list of the fallen brothers from the 13 de Marzo, and February 24 massacres. After each name the audience cried out "Presente." The last four names read out were: Armando Alejandre Jr. , Carlos Costa, Mario De La Peña, and Pablo Morales. After each of their names was read the audience cried out the loudest "Presentes" of the evening.

Free Cuba Foundation and G-90 Freedom Movement

Monday, March 13, 2017

The FIU Declaration 20 Years Later: A call to nonviolent action on 13 de Marzo palace assault anniversary

Twenty years ago on March 13, 1997 forty years to the day after students assaulted the Presidential Palace in Havana and perished trying to assassinate Fulgencio Batista leaving Castro in a better position later to seize power. Every free Cuba organization in FIU's history sat down for an evening and analyzed the consequences of their actions. We also explored what were our responsibilities as students and activists. At the end of the evening the following document was signed. 20 years later we remember this important and tragic anniversary and renew our call to action.

Gathering at FIU on March 13, 1997

Florida International University Declaration

We the Students of Florida International University recognizing that Cuban students have played a leading role in the history of Cuba, do hereby declare our support for the principles, and purposes enshrined in Concilio Cubano's founding statement in Havana, on October 10, 1995:

FIRST: The determination to work for a non-violent transition toward a democratic society under the rule of law, devoid of any vindictiveness, and equally comprising all Cubans.

SECOND: Obtaining unconditional amnesty for all political prisoners.

THIRD: Launching a series of legal transformations that will provide the necessary framework, within the law, to secure absolute respect for all universally recognized human rights, as well as equal participation by all Cubans in an opening process that will lead to economic independence.

FOURTH: The belief that, in order to harmonize the peaceful transition we are advocating the principle that Cuba is the fatherland and the home of each and every Cuban, it is essential to provide such conditions as will guarantee participation for all Cubans, with no exclusions whatsoever.

Concilio Cubano was designed to be a permanent forum where all participating organizations could fashion joint proposals while maintaining their own identity. We the students believe that the systematic denial of human rights and human dignity in Cuba cannot be tolerated. We believe that the moral and pragmatic solution is non-violent resistance to the intolerable situation in Cuba. To this end we pledge our lives and our freedom.

March 13, 1997 marks the 40th anniversary of the assault on the Presidential Palace. On that day the blood of Cuba's university students was spilled in the cause of freedom. On February 24, 1996 our generation of Cuban youth had its first four losses in this struggle. Mario De La  Peña, Armando Alejandre, an FIU alumnus, Carlos Costa and Pablo Morales where of our generation.

Forty years after the 13 of March. One year after the massacre of February 24. We the students who live in exile, wish to join with our brothers and sisters inside of Cuba for the liberation of our nation and the re- establishment of democracy and the rule of law in Cuba.

To this end we seek to follow the lead of the internal opposition, embrace the principles of non-violent resistance, speak out on behalf of Cuba's political prisoners, and issue a call to educate the children of the Cuban exile about the history and reality of the ongoing tragedy in Cuba.

Signed on March 13, 1997

Sebastian Arcos Cazabon
Comite Cubano Pro Derechos Humanos

Pedro Solares
Abdala

Ana M. Carbonell
Alianza de Jovenes Cubanos

Lorenzo de Toro III
Generacion 90

John Suarez
FREE CUBA Foundation

Juan Jose de Castro
Directorio Revolucionario Democratico Cubano


Gathering at FIU on March 13, 1997

En castellano:

  Declaración De La Universidad Internacional De La Florida

Nosotros, estudiantes universitarios y activistas de la causa de la libertad de Cuba reunidos esta noche reconocemos que los jóvenes cubanos han tenido un papel protagónico en la historia de Cuba, y por tanto declaramos nuestro apoyo a los principios y propósitos de Concilio Cubano, asentados en la Declaración de Principios de Concilio Cubano realizada en La Habana el 10 de octubre de 1995.
PRIMERO: La determinación de trabajar por una transición hacia la democracia a través de la noviolencia, sin venganzas, en igualdad y con la participación de todos los cubanos.

SEGUNDO: Obtención de la Amnistí a para todos los prisioneros politicos.

TERCERO: Llevar adelante una serie de transformaciones legales que provean del marco necesario, para que dentro de la ley se respeten los derechos humanos y la participación de todos los cubanos en un proceso de apertura que nos lleve a la independencia económica.

CUARTO: Creemos que para armonizar una transición pacífica debemos basarnos en el principio de que Cuba es la patria de cada cubano, pues es importante que no existan exclusiones en este proceso.

Concilio Cubano fue diseñado para convertirse en un foro permanente de la oposición interna donde, con la participación de todas las organizaciones de oposició n interna que lo conforman, se realicen proyectos conjuntos sin perder la identidad de cada una de las organizaciones.

Nosotros creemos, que la violación sistemática de los derechos humanos en Cuba es intolerable. Creemos que la solución moral y práctica a esta crisis es la estrategia de la resistencia cívica noviolenta. A este propósito dedicamos nuestras vidas y nuestra libertad

El 13 de marzo de 1997 marca el 40 aniversario del Asalto al Palacio Presidencial. Este dí a la sangre de jóvenes cubanos, estudiantes universitarios, empresarios y trabajadores fue derramada en nombre de la libertad.

El 24 de febrero de 1996 nuestra generación de jóvenes cubanos crecidos en el exilio dio las primeras cuatro vidas a la causa de la libertad: Pablo Morales, Mario De La Peña, Carlos Costa, y Armando Alejandre, hijo, este último graduado de esta Universidad Internacional de la Florida. Cuarenta años después del 13 de marzo de 1957, un año después del 24 de febrero de 1996, nosotros, cubanos nacidos o crecidos en exilio, deseamos unirnos a nuestras hermanas y hermanos dentro de la isla para lograr la liberación de nuestra patria y el restablecimiento de la democracia, los derechos y la ley en Cuba.

Por ese ideal apoyamos la oposición interna, abrazamos los principios de la resistencia cívica noviolenta, respaldamos y damos a conocer la realidad de nuestros presos políticos y hacemos por este medio un llamado a todos los exiliados para educar a los nuevos cubanos en el exilio de su historia, sus tradiciones y también la tragedia que vive hoy nuestro pueblo.

Firmado el 13 de marzo de 1997

Sebastian Arcos Cazabon
Comite Cubano Pro Derechos Humanos

Pedro Solares
Abdala

Ana M. Carbonell
Alianza de Jovenes Cubanos

Lorenzo de Toro III
Generacion 90

John Suarez
FREE CUBA Foundation

Juan Jose de Castro
Directorio Revolucionario Democratico Cubano

Saturday, March 11, 2017

#FreeCardet: Campaign to free Cuban prisoner of conscience Eduardo Cardet

Update: Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción suffering from flu and asthma



Eduardo Cardet Concepción was visited in prison on Friday, March 10, 2017 by his wife Yaimaris Vecino. She found that her husband was sick with bronchitis and asthma. Cardet is in good spirits but convinced he's going to be sentenced to three years in prison on March 20, 2017 following a political show trial on March 3, 2017. Cardet has been jailed following a brutal beating by Castro's political police in front of his family on November 30, 2017. Cardet's "crime"? Speaking critically of Fidel Castro and being the national coordinator of Cuba's Christian Liberation Movement. Amnesty International recognized him as a prisoner of conscience on January 31, 2017.


Between now and March 20th let us spread the word on this wrongly imprisoned human rights defender using the hashtags: #FreeCardet and #LiberenCardet over social media. Write your elected officials, publish a blog entry, write a letter to the editor and do what you can using nonviolent and ethical means to free him.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Silent vigil for justice today at FIU for Brothers to the Rescue martyrs

Carlos, Pablo, Mario, and Armando remembered today.
Silent vigil at Florida International University on February 24, 2017
Vigil was hosted by the Free Cuba Foundation today at the main fountain at Florida International University (FIU) between 3:21pm and 3:27pm the times that two Brothers to the Rescue planes were destroyed by air-to-air missiles fired by Cuban MiGs as three small civilian planes flew through international airspace searching for rafters.  Three U.S. citizens and a resident were killed. The third plane made it back and bore witness for those who did not return.


Family members and friends of Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, Mario De La Peña and Armando Alejandre Jr. where in attendance today along with members of the university community. This event is a tradition that started at FIU one week after the February 24,1996 shoot down.
The purpose of the vigil is to continue the demand for justice while remembering and sharing the facts with new generations of students at Florida International University. A fact sheet was distributed after the vigil to passersby to explain the purpose behind the demonstration.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Please Share: Amnesty International urgent action for Cuban prisoner of conscience Eduardo Cardet

On  January 31, 2017 Amnesty International issued an urgent action for Eduardo Cardet. This blog has been following his plight since last November and welcome the news that Eduardo's case is receiving greater international attention and scrutiny by a well respected international human rights organization.



URGENT ACTION
demand release of human rights defender

Five days after Fidel Castro’s death, human rights defender Eduardo Cardet was detained and has since been held in provisional detention in Holguín, south-east Cuba. He is a prisoner of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally.

Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, MCL) since 2014 was arrested in Holguín on 30 November 2016, five days after the death of the former leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro. Eduardo Cardet has spent two months in the provisional prison (prisión provisional) of Holguín. He has been refused bail on three occasions, according to his wife. 

According to five witnesses who spoke to Amnesty International by telephone on the condition of anonymity, Eduardo Cardet was pushed off his bicycle and violently detained in the early evening of 30 November by at least four plain clothed and one uniformed police officer as he returned home after visiting his mother. It is not clear on what grounds Eduardo Cardet was initially detained. According to his wife, who witnessed her husband’s detention with their two children, Eduardo Cardet is charged with attacking an official of the state (atentado). This offence is covered under Article 142.1 of the Criminal Code. One officer is alleging that Eduardo Cardet pushed him during his arrest. 

All witnesses who spoke with Amnesty International counter this allegation, and state that Eduardo Cardet was quickly and violently restrained by plain clothed officials, placed in handcuffs, and beaten, and had no opportunity for self-defence. The witnesses believe that Eduardo Cardet was arrested for his beliefs and ideas.

Prior to his arrest, Eduardo Cardet had given interviews published in international media in which he had been critical of the Cuban government. In an interview with Madrid-based radio station esRadio, aired two days before his arrest, he described the mourning in Cuba following the death of Fidel Castro as imposed, and said: “Castro was a very controversial man, very much hated and rejected by our people”. According to the MCL’s website, Eduardo Cardet’s lawyer informed the family on 27 January that the Public Prosecutor is seeking three years of prison.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:
  •  Calling on the authorities to release Dr. Eduardo Cardet immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression;
  •  Calling on them to guarantee the peaceful right to freedom of expression, assembly and association including for dissident, opponent or activist voices and to repeal all legislation which unduly limits these rights;
  •  Urging them to ensure that, pending his release, he is provided with any medical care he may require; that he is not tortured or otherwise ill-treated; and that he is granted regular access to family and lawyers of his choosing.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 14 MARCH 2017 TO:


President of the Republic
Raúl Castro Ruz    
Presidente de la República de Cuba
La Habana, Cuba  
Fax: +41 22 758 9431 (Cuba Office in Geneva); +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Email: cuba@un.int (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Attorney General  
Dr. Darío Delgado Cura       
Fiscal General de la República
Fiscalía General de la República        
Amistad 552, e/Monte y Estrella          
Centro Habana, La Habana, Cuba       
Salutation: Dear Attorney General/ Señor Fiscal General


Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation          

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

URGENT ACTION

demand release of human rights defender 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The Christian Liberation Movement (Movimento Cristiano Liberación, MCL) is a prominent actor in the pro-democracy movement in Cuba. According to its website, it is a movement for peaceful and democratic change and respect for human dignity. It was founded in 1988 by Oswaldo Payá Sardiñaswho became a visible figure of the Cuban political opposition, and four other activists. 

In March 2016, according to news reports, the MCL presented 10,000 signatures to the Cuban parliament in support of Project Varela – a long-standing proposal which advocates constitutional reform within Cuba and promotes freedom of association and speech, free elections, freedom of religion, and amnesty for political prisoners, among other things. According to Article 88 of the Cuban Constitution, laws can be proposed by citizens if a proposal is made by at least 10,000 citizens who are eligible to vote. In July, the MCL submitted a proposal to the Cuban parliament entitled “One Cuban, One Vote” (Un cubano, un voto) which makes a series of recommendations for reforms to the electoral law. 

Amnesty International has documented harassment and intimidation of members of the MCL for decades. In 1991, after Osvaldo Payá Sardiñas presented a petition calling for a national referendum relating to constitutional reform, he had his home destroyed by over 200 people, said to be members of a Rapid Response Brigade. After Osvaldo Payá announced his intention to put himself forward as a candidate for deputy to the National Assembly for the municipality of Cerro, Havana, members of his organization were reportedly subjected to frequent questioning and short-term detention.

[...]

Provisions of the Cuban Criminal Code, such as contempt of a public official (desacato), resistance to public officials carrying out their duties (resistencia) and public disorder (desórdenes públicos) are frequently used to stifle free speech, assembly and association in Cuba.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, a Cuban-based human rights NGO not recognized by the state, documented a monthly average of 827 politically motivated detentions in 2016. In an interview published on 16 September 2016 by ABC International, Eduardo Cardet stated: “Political activities are passed off as criminal offences such as inciting public scandal, contempt of or offences against the authorities, and the political police use these classifications to lock up dissidents" (Se disfraza la actividad política con hechos delictivos comunes, por ejemplo, escándalo público, desacato, atentado, figuras que utiliza la policía política para encarcelar a los disidentes).
Cuba is closed to Amnesty International and nearly all independent international human rights monitors.

Name: Dr Eduardo Cardet Concepción
Gender m/f: male




UA: 32/17 Index: AMR 25/5601/2017 Issue Date: 31 January 2017


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Silent Vigil for Justice at FIU on February 24th for Brothers to the Rescue shootdown martyrs

"To forget the victims means to kill them a second time. So I couldn't prevent the first death. I surely must be capable of saving them from a second death." -  Elie Wiesel



What:   Vigil for BTTR shoot down victims 
When:  Gather Friday, February 24, 2017 @ 3pm Vigil starts 3:21pm
Where: Main Fountain
             Florida International University 
             11200 South West 8th Street Miami, FL 

Vigil hosted by the Free Cuba Foundation at the main fountain at Florida International University between 3:21pm and 3:27pm the times that two Brothers to the Rescue planes were destroyed by air-to-air missiles fired by Cuban MiGs as they flew through international airspace searching for rafters. 

Family members and friends of Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, Mario De La Peña and Armando Alejandre Jr. will be in attendance. This event is for FIU students and members of the FIU Community and has been held annually since 1996. 


Fact Sheet on Brothers to the Rescue Shootdown


February 24, 1996 shoot down was an act of state terrorism that blew two civilian aircraft out of the sky with air to air missiles while in international airspace after regime planned the act months beforehand with its espionage network in the United States.

 FACT 1: By definition: Terrorism is the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear)
http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=terrorism  


FACT 2: Cuba is responsible for violating the right to life (Article I of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man) to the detriment of Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, Mario De La Peña, and Armando Alejandre, who died as a result of the direct actions of its agents on the afternoon of 24 February 1996 while flying through international airspace.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights September 29, 1999 Report on the Merits http://www.cidh.org/annualrep/99eng/Merits/Cuba11.589.htm 

FACT 3: Cuba is responsible for violating the right to a fair trial (Article XVIII of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man) to the detriment of the relatives of Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, Mario De La Peña, and Armando Alejandre, in that to date the Cuban authorities have not conducted an exhaustive investigation with a view toward prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators and have not indemnified those same relatives for the damage they suffered as a result of those illicit acts.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights September 29, 1999 Report on the Meritshttp://www.cidh.org/annualrep/99eng/Merits/Cuba11.589.htm 

FACT 4: In Alejandre v. Republic of Cuba, 996 F.Supp. 1239 (S.D.Fla. 1997), a federal district court awarded the families of three of the four occupants of the “ Brothers to the Rescue” planes shot down by Cuba in 1996 a total of $187.7 million in damages against Cuba.

Lawsuits Against State Supporters of Terrorism: An Overview by Jennifer K. Elseahttp://www.law.umaryland.edu/marshall/crsreports/crsdocuments/RS22094_06232005.pdf 

FACT 5: WASP spy network was involved. One of the “illegal officers” (Gerardo Hernandez) was convicted of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder based on his role in the February 24, 1996, shoot-down of two unarmed civilian aircraft in international airspace by Cuban Air Force jet fighters, which resulted in the deaths of four people, three of them U.S. citizens.

Department of Justice on Obama Commutations 
http://www.justice.gov/pardon/obama-commutations#dec152014 

FACT 6: Brothers to the Rescue had spotted and saved thousands of rafters in the Florida Straits and was engaged in such a mission on that day. The one plane that skirted the boundary briefly was the only one to return. The other two were shotdown miles away from Cuba’s boundary having never entered or touched it on that day and the planes had been in contact with the Cuban tower throughout the flight.

ICAO Resolution on February 24 shootdown http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,UNSC,,CUB,4562d94e2,3b00f1522b,0.html 

FACT 7: On July 26, 1996 the United Nations Security Council: "Noting that the unlawful downing of two civil aircraft on 24 February by the Cuban Air Force violated the principle that States must refrain from using weapons against airborne civil aircraft, the Security Council this afternoon condemned such use as being incompatible with the rules of customary international law "

ICAO Resolution on February 24 shootdown 
http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,UNSC,,CUB,4562d94e2,3b00f1522b,0.html

FACT 8: Ana Belen Montes, the US intelligence community's top analyst on Cuban affairs had throughout a sixteen-year career at the Defense Intelligence Agency sent the Cuba intelligence service sensitive and secret information and helped to shape US opinion on Cuba. Investigation against her was triggered by her odd behavior before and after the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down. On September 21 2001 Ana Belen Montes was arrested and subsequently charged with Conspiracy to Commit Espionage for the government of Cuba. Montes eventually pleaded guilty to spying, and in October, 2002, she was sentenced to a 25-year prison term followed by 5 years of probation.

True Believer: Inside the Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, Cuba's Master Spy http://www.amazon.com/True-Believer-Inside-Investigation-Capture/dp/1591141001 

FACT 9: On December 27, 2010 and again in a January 19, 2011 clarification the defense of Cuban spy-master Gerardo Hernandez acknowledged that "there was overwhelming evidence that the 1996 shoot-down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes occurred in international airspace, not Cuban territory."

The Miami Herald: Cuban spymaster now claims Brothers to the Rescue shooting was outside Cuban airspace by Jay Weaver December 27, 2010

FACT 10: On December 17, 2014 President Barack Obama commuted Gerardo Hernandez’s two life sentences and returned him along with two other spies jailed for crimes in the United States to Cuba where they were received with a hero’s welcome in what is an immense propaganda victory for the Castro regime.

Department of Justice on Obama Commutations 
http://www.justice.gov/pardon/obama-commutations#dec152014