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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Learn why the Ladies in White March in Cuba: The Black Cuban Spring

Video, Discussion and 7 minute Vigil in Remembrance of Cuban Black Spring

Why take part?

Demonstrate with action that we remember these activists and demand their freedom & to understand how Ladies in White started .

What Happened?
On March 18, 2003, a brutal crackdown against Cuban dissidents began when over 72 hours, ninety govt. opponents were arrested most were tried under "Law 88" (the gag law) & were sentenced between 14 to 27 years in prison by early April. All were recognized by Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience. On February 23, 2010 Orlando Zapata Tamayo died after 83 days on hunger strike with two weeks denied water by his jailers.

Video: The Cuban Spring (2003) Czech production

Speakers: Invited Former Cuban Prisoners of Conscience Miguel Sigler Amaya, Pedro Pablo Alvares, and Manuel Vasquez Portal James Cason of US Interests Section

When: Today, Wednesday, March 24 @ 8:30pm
Where: Graham Center 140 Florida International University 11200 S.W. 8th St. Miami, FL

Then join Gloria Estefan in...
March in Support of Ladies in White and Freedom and Human Rights for Cuba

LET'S WALK TOGETHER LIKE THE "DAMAS DE BLANCO"; with dignity, in silence, with a flower of hope in our hands and dressed in white to represent purity of thought, actions and new beginnings!
In the words of our illustrious poet, Jose Marti, "The campaigns of a people are only weak when in them is not enlisted the heart of a woman; but when a woman is shaken and helps, when a woman, timid and quiet in her nature, cheers and applauds, when a woman cultured and virtuous anoints a deed with the honey of her love, the deed is invincible".

Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 5pm we will gather on Beacom Blvd. between S.W. 7th and 8th Street. We will walk on 8th Street, in Little Havana, from 27th Avenue to 22nd Avenue beginning at 6pm sharp.

We will walk for the love of freedom. 

- Gloria Estefan

“The test of truth lies in action” -Mohandas Gandhi

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

First they killed Orlando Zapata Tamayo now Ariel Sigler Amaya is near death

Sadly, Orlando Zapata Tamayo was not the only prisoner whose life was at risk. Although these others are not on hunger strike Cuban prison conditions are leading them to a cruel and unnecessary death. It  was precisely because of this reality that Orlando Zapata decided to highlight these injustices with his hunger strike and demand that these cruel practices cease. A demand that the dictatorship in Cuba is unwilling to meet.

Ariel Sigler Amaya before and now while imprisoned

Ariel Sigler Amaya, is an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience and member of the Independent Alternative Option Movement, arrested during the March 2003 crackdown sentenced to 20 years in prison. The before and after picture speak for themselves, but still it must be said: he is dying. He is dying because of the poor prison conditions and lack of medical treatment and has left him emaciated and wheel bound which is the regime's practice of punishing political prisoners who refuse to be "rehabilitated." The video below is of his brother Miguel Sigler Amaya back in July of 2009 alerting to his plight. Sadly, the world's response in large part was indifference and his condition in fact has worsened.

At the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting now in Geneva the Centrist Democratic International has presented a written statement expressing its deep concern for the plight of Cuban's political prisoners and the case of Ariel Sigler Amaya in particular. The following is an excerpt from that document.

Before being hospitalized at the Julito Díaz Hospital in Havana he was being held at the Ariza Provincial Prison in Cienfuegos. Poor prison conditions, the lack of proper nutrition and medical treatment have generated numerous illnesses causing Ariel to develop "advanced malnutrition" and weaken him to the point that he can no longer walk. In a letter that reached his brother Juan Francisco he states: 
"I have infinite desires to continue to live and recover to keep fighting for my country. I love life and will fight to keep living. Therefore, never do anything against my health or any action that violates my life. If something like this happens, from this moment to accuse Cuban State Security (...) specialized in inducing disease, delaying treatment for purposes of aggravating diseases and prepare alleged suicides and deaths." (…) "The same ones who yesterday repressed and imprisoned me are the ones who have brought me to the brink of death, and made of me a small pile of bones and skin. 

Everyone is well aware of cases like mine, of robust persons, physically strong and in excellent health, that with the monstrous methods of state security have died in prisons, hospitals and psychiatric centers. Ariel’s mother Gloria died of a stroke on Friday, January 8, 2010 and prison authorities allowed Ariel to attend the wake. Extremely emaciated and wheelchair bound he was barely recognizable, and has led to protests and demonstrations for his release out of fear that he will not survive. Another brother of Ariel Sigler, Guido is also a prisoner of conscience serving 20 years in prison.

Ariel Sigler Amaya is not on a hunger strike, but the treatment by Cuban officials is killing him little by little. Let us hope that with the world's attention turned towards the prisons in Cuba that he get the proper health care he urgently needs, and that all Cuban political prisoners be released.

Other cases, according to the Centrist Democratic International that warrant close attention are the following Cuban prisoners of conscience whose lives also hang in the balance: Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, Librado Linares García, Jorge Luis González Tanquero, José Luis García Paneque, Ricardo Gonzalez Alfonso and Normando Hernández González.

The footage of the FCF Feb. 24 silent vigil below was taken by El Nuevo Herald that covered the event: