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Monday, December 24, 2018

Remembering on Christmas Eve those in prison for acts of conscience: A Call to Action

"Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."- Hebrews 13:3

Prisoners of conscience are observing Christmas Eve in terrible conditions in China, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Venezuela, Vietnam, and many other places around the world. It is impossible to list them all here but it is important to remember them. Here are a few that represent the many who remain unnamed.

Political prisoner in Nicaragua Amaya Copens, age 23
Amaya Coppens, a fifth year medicine student at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de León in Nicaragua has been arrested and accused of "terrorism." She was detained on  September 10, 2018 along with Sergio Alberto Midence Delgadillo by hooded police that used violence to detain them, and take them away in a van. Her "crime" is being outspoken against the violence visited on peaceful protesters and belonging to the University Coalition for Democracy along with the Justice (CUDJ) and the Civic Alliance and Social Movements Network. She is the eighth member of the CUDJ to be arbitrarily detained in what is a campaign of harassment and repression against a dozen university organizations working together at the national level for a free Nicaragua. She faces a political show trial with a Sandinista judge in February of 2019. She was just 23 years old at the time of her arrest and has been held in prison since then.

Political prisoner in Cuba Eduardo Cardet, age 50

Eduardo Cardet Concepción is a medical doctor, a husband, and a father of two small children. He is widely respected in his community. He is a person of impeccable moral character. Despite all of this, he was beaten up and arrested in front of his wife and children on November 30, 2016. That was his last day in freedom, he has continued to suffer beatings in prison, and was repeatedly stabbed with a sharp object. Both he and his family have been additionally punished, and visits and calls denied for months at a time. In March of 2017 he was sentenced to three years in prison, and Amnesty International recognized him as a prisoner of conscience. Eduardo Cardet is a democrat, a human rights defender, and speaks his mind openly. Because of this he had been a victim of regime harassment in the past. Fidel Castro died on November 25, 2016 while Cardet was outside of Cuba. He was interviewed by international media and gave a frank assessment of Fidel Castro's political legacy and said that there was nothing positive. Refusing to mourn Fidel Castro's death is punishable by prison in Cuba, and offering a nonviolent political alternative to the existing system is grounds for prison in the Castro regime.

Opposition deputy Juan Requesens in custody for 133 days without a hearing (PanAm Post)

Former student opposition leader and opposition deputy of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Requesens, has been a steadfast, moderate, non-violent opposition leader to the Maduro regime in Venezuela.  The Maduro regime has manufactured charges that the opposition leader planned the assassination of Nicolas Maduro and is seeking to sentence him to 30 years in prison. He is 29 years old, married and father to two young children.

Partial lists provided by internal human rights groups indicate that there are at least 120 political prisoners in Cuba, 576 political prisoners in Nicaragua, and 288 political prisoners in Venezuela spending the holiday season behind bars.

People of good will have a responsibility to do what they can. Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas in an address to the European Parliament on December 17, 2002 explained that "[t]he cause of human rights is a single cause, just as the people of the world are a single people. The talk today is of globalization, but we must state that unless there is global solidarity, not only human rights but also the right to remain human will be jeopardized."

More than a dozen human rights and pro-democracy organizations from Latin America, Europe and the United States have made a request during this holiday season that bishops, priests, pastors, rabbis, and men and women of good will to engage in all possible efforts with the authorities to obtain an amnesty of all political prisoners in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua

Please join us in speaking up for these and other political prisoners and remember, that helping them in a utilitarian sense we also help ourselves, that more importantly we must do this because it is the right thing to do. The great Czech dissident Václav Havel explained back in 1990 that "[t]he salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility."

It begins with you. Will you do your part?

1. Please  ask your pastor, rabbi, or priest to pray for the freedom of political prisoners during their religious services during this holiday season.

2. Please write letters to religious leaders in your community to request that the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua free their political prisoners.

3. Please use the following hashtags to spread this message.

#NavidadSinPresosPolíticosEnCubaVenezuelaYNicaragua. #ChristmasWithoutPoliticalPrisonersInCubaVenezuelaAndNicaragua  

Friday, October 5, 2018

Celebrating Vaclav Havel's solidarity with Cuban democrats and campaign for the release of Cuban political prisoners

We miss Havel.

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas with Vaclav Havel in 2002

Vaclav Havel was born on this day in 1936. Cubans owe him a debt of gratitude for his constant solidarity and support. Below is a video where he describes his own time as a political prisoners and calls for support for Cuba's political prisoners.

Havel was a friend and supported of Cuban opposition leader Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas. He also met with him and other Cuban dissidents over the years, such as Jose Gabriel Ramon Castillo, Osvaldo Alfonso and engaged in campaigns for the release of Cuban political prisoners.

Jose Gabriel Ramon Castillo with Vaclav Havel in 2009
We will never forget and we will always be grateful.

Osvaldo Alfonso with Vaclav Havel

Friday, July 13, 2018

13 minute silent vigil for July's martyrs on July 13 at FIU, in Washington DC, and California

Remembering three terrible days in July.

2018 marks 24 years since the massacre of 37 Cubans on July 13, 1994 when they tried to flee the island on board the Cuban tugboat "13 de marzo" by agents of the Castro regime. The crime was well documented by international human rights organizations and institutions.

July 13 also marks the death one year ago today of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in the custody of the Chinese secret police.

July also marks six years since Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and Harold Cepero were killed by Cuban state security agents on July 22, 2012.  

We gathered in silent protest for 13 minutes at the main fountain at Florida International University demanding justice for the victims of the "13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre and for martyrs Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.

The event concluded with reading out the names of Oswaldo and Harold killed on July 22, 2012 and the 37 victims of the July 13, 1994 attack.

In Washington, DC veteran activist Frank Calzon, with other activists, took part in the vigil outside of the Cuban Embassy at 12 noon and tried to turn in a document with the victims names to Embassy officials but they refused the document.

Ziva Sahl based in California joined the vigil

In California, Ziva Sahl joined in the 13 minute vigil at 12 noon and posted it on Twitter.

We will continue to remember and demand justice. Please join us next year where ever you are.

July 13, 2018 Medical Neglect

Liu Xiaobo, Age: 61

July 22, 2012 Extrajudicial Killings

Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas. Age: 60
Harold Cepero Escalante. Age: 32

July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" Tugboat Massacre Victims

Hellen Martínez Enriquez. Age: 5 Months
Xicdy Rodríguez Fernández. Age: 2
Angel René Abreu Ruíz. Age: 3
José Carlos Niclas Anaya. Age: 3
Giselle Borges Alvarez. Age: 4
Caridad Leyva Tacoronte. Age: 5
Juan Mario Gutiérrez García. Age: 10
Yousell Eugenio Pérez Tacoronte. Age: 11
Yasser Perodín Almanza. Age: 11
Eliécer Suárez Plasencia. Age: 12
Mayulis Méndez Tacoronte. Age: 17
Miladys Sanabria Leal. Age: 19
Joel García Suárez. Age: 20
Odalys Muñoz García. Age: 21
Yalta Mila Anaya Carrasco. Age: 22
Luliana Enríquez Carrazana. Age: 22
Jorge Gregorio Balmaseda Castillo. Age: 24
Lissett María Alvarez Guerra. Age: 24
Ernesto Alfonso Loureiro. Age: 25
María Miralis Fernández Rodríguez. Age: 27
Leonardo Notario Góngora. Age: 28
Jorge Arquímedes Levrígido Flores. Age: 28
Pilar Almanza Romero. Age: 31
Rigoberto Feu González. Age: 31
Omar Rodríguez Suárez. Age: 33
Lázaro Enrique Borges Briel. Age: 34
Julia Caridad Ruíz Blanco. Age: 35
Martha Caridad Tacoronte Vega. Age: 35
Eduardo Suárez Esquivel. Age: 38
Martha Mirella Carrasco Sanabria. Age: 45
Augusto Guillermo Guerra Martínez. Age: 45
Rosa María Alcalde Puig. Age: 47
Estrella Suárez Esquivel. Age: 48
Reynaldo Joaquín Marrero Alamo. Age: 48
Amado González Raices. Age: 50
Fidencio Ramel Prieto Hernández. Age: 51
Manuel Cayol. Age: 56 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

13 minute silent vigil for July's Cuban martyrs on July 13 at FIU's main fountain at 12 noon

Remembering two terrible days in July in Cuba

2018 marks 24 years since the massacre of 37 Cubans on July 13, 1994 when they tried to flee the island on board the Cuban tugboat "13 de marzo" by Castro regime agents. The crime was well documented by international human rights organizations and institutions. July will mark six years since Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and Harold Cepero were killed by Cuban state security agents on July 22, 2012.

FCF members together with Sirley Avila Leon hold vigil at FIU in 2017
We will gather in silent protest at the main fountain at Florida International University and demand justice for the victims of the "13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre and for martyrs Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.

FCF members together with Rosa Maria Payá hold vigil at FIU in 2016
Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo, Oswaldo's daughter, protesting in front of the Cuban Interests Section on July 10, 2014 observed a profound truth: "State crimes are never an issue exclusive to the families of the victims." In 2016 she accompanied Free Cuba Foundation members at Florida International University in a 13 minute moment of silence for July's Cuban martyrs.

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel explained in his 1986 Nobel Lecture why it is important to remember:  "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." ... "There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." This is why we protest.

What:   13 Minute Silent Vigil
When:  Friday, July 13 at 12 noon
Where: Main Fountain at Florida International University
             [Between Library, and Charles Perry (PC) building]
Why:    Remember and Demand Justice for the Slain

July 22, 2012 Extrajudicial Killings

Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas. Age: 60
Harold Cepero Escalante. Age: 32

July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" Tugboat Massacre Victims

Hellen Martínez Enriquez. Age: 5 Months
Xicdy Rodríguez Fernández. Age: 2
Angel René Abreu Ruíz. Age: 3
José Carlos Niclas Anaya. Age: 3
Giselle Borges Alvarez. Age: 4
Caridad Leyva Tacoronte. Age: 5
Juan Mario Gutiérrez García. Age: 10
Yousell Eugenio Pérez Tacoronte. Age: 11
Yasser Perodín Almanza. Age: 11
Eliécer Suárez Plasencia. Age: 12
Mayulis Méndez Tacoronte. Age: 17
Miladys Sanabria Leal. Age: 19
Joel García Suárez. Age: 20
Odalys Muñoz García. Age: 21
Yalta Mila Anaya Carrasco. Age: 22
Luliana Enríquez Carrazana. Age: 22
Jorge Gregorio Balmaseda Castillo. Age: 24
Lissett María Alvarez Guerra. Age: 24
Ernesto Alfonso Loureiro. Age: 25
María Miralis Fernández Rodríguez. Age: 27
Leonardo Notario Góngora. Age: 28
Jorge Arquímedes Levrígido Flores. Age: 28
Pilar Almanza Romero. Age: 31
Rigoberto Feu González. Age: 31
Omar Rodríguez Suárez. Age: 33
Lázaro Enrique Borges Briel. Age: 34
Julia Caridad Ruíz Blanco. Age: 35
Martha Caridad Tacoronte Vega. Age: 35
Eduardo Suárez Esquivel. Age: 38
Martha Mirella Carrasco Sanabria. Age: 45
Augusto Guillermo Guerra Martínez. Age: 45
Rosa María Alcalde Puig. Age: 47
Estrella Suárez Esquivel. Age: 48
Reynaldo Joaquín Marrero Alamo. Age: 48
Amado González Raices. Age: 50
Fidencio Ramel Prieto Hernández. Age: 51
Manuel Cayol. Age: 56  

These crimes are not isolated but part of a pattern of extreme cruelty by the Castro regime. For those who advocate forgiveness and reconciliation in Cuba, the Free Cuba Foundation agrees with you, but we leave an important caveat first stated by Lewis B. Smedes, a theologian: When you give up vengeance, make sure you are not giving up on justice.

In the spirit of remembrance be sure to purchase the new book written by Cuban martyr Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas in the months prior to his untimely death and the book on July 13, 1994 tugboat massacre written by Jose Garcia. The long awaited book "The night will not be eternal" by Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas is available today on Amazon and published by Editorial Hypermedia Inc. In 2017 the third edition of The sinking of the 13 de Marzo tugboat was released and is also available for purchase.

Friday, May 4, 2018

FCF human rights report included in upcoming human rights session on Cuba in Geneva on May 16, 2018

FCF submission to the UPR included by office of the UN High Commissioner in Stakeholder's information

Free Cuba Foundation Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of Cuba
30th session of the UPR Working Group, April - May 2018

 The human rights situation in Cuba over the past four years has impacted us directly with a founding member being physically assaulted on April 8, 2015 by Cuban officials in Panama who violently disrupted a peaceful gathering and shut it down.

Fidel Castro died on November 25, 2016 and human rights defenders who refused to mourn his passing were arrested, detained and placed on trial. When a human rights defender and pro-democracy activist spoke honestly about Mr. Castro’s legacy in Cuba he was beaten up in front of his family on November 30, 2017, jailed and sentenced to three years in prison in March of 2017.

Physical violence carried out by government agents in Panama City, Panama on April 8, 2015
Cuban officials attacked Cuban and Cuban American activists in 2015 on eve of the Summit of the Americas. Mr. Augusto Monge was physically assaulted, along with several other activists and human rights defenders, on April 8, 2015 in Panama City at Porra Park while joining with other Cuban Americans and Cuban internal opposition activists in laying flowers at a bust of Jose Marti in that public park. The attack had all the hallmarks of "acts of repudiation" carried out by "rapid response brigades" organized by state security in Cuba. What was different is that this was carried out in Panama. Augusto made the following report of what took place.

"We left some roses, we were singing the Cuban national anthem and at that moment a group of government agents came out of the nearby Cuban Embassy running, they crossed the street and began to beat up everyone, including some of the women in the group. There were police, but very few to respond. We were again attacked while trying to board the bus to leave. We were a group of about twenty, including the drivers, and seven of us were injured. Among them were myself, Augusto Monge, Orlando Gutierrez Boronat, Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez”, Leticia Ramos Herrería, Yris Pérez Aguilera, and Silvia Iriondo.

Mr. Monge is a founding member of the Free Cuba Foundation and past chairman of the organization. He suffered two black eyes, and several bruises and contusions. This attack violated several articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 2. of the UDHR states that all are "entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." Representatives of the Cuban government sought to shut down a peaceful assembly because they did not believe that the individuals gathered had the right to exercise their rights due to their opposition to the existing government in Cuba.

Also violated on the same basis were "Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." and "Article 6. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law." The Cuban government did not respect the rights of this persons before the law or their right to be secure in their persons. This is also a violation of Article 7 of the UDHR hat reads in part "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. "

Official writer and university professor, Raúl Antonio Capote, self-identified as agent Daniel for Cuban State Security wrote an article on his blog "Diario 90 Noventa" libeling Orlando Gutierrez as a terrorist and referring to other participants as his puppets in an article published on April 14, 2015. This was a violation of Article 12 of the UDHR because it was an attack upon the "honour and reputation" of those peacefully gathered in Porra Park and assaulted by Cuban government agents on April 8, 2015.

The violent shutting down of a peaceful gathering by agents who emerged from the Cuban Embassy in Panama also violated Article 18 of the UDHR that everyone "has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion," Article 19. "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference..." and Article 20. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association."

The actions carried out by Cuban government agents run counter to the Charter of the United Nations and its determination "to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person" and "to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors."

Death of Fidel Castro and wave of repression against freedom of expression and non-participation.

Eduardo Cardet Concepción was 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, 2016. Cardet's offense was speaking critically of Fidel Castro, following his death on November 25, 2016 and being the national coordinator of Cuba's Christian Liberation Movement. The previous national coordinator Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas died under suspicious circumstances in a car crash along with the movement’s youth leader, Harold Cepero Escalante on July 22, 2012 in Cuba. Mr. Cardet Concepción is a physician, husband, and a father of two.

Twin sisters Anairis and Adairis Miranda Leyva, their brother Fidel Manuel Batista Leyva, and their mother Maydolis Leyva Portelles left their homes during the official state imposed mourning period following the death of Fidel Castro and were arrested on November 27, 2016. The three siblings were sentenced to one-year in prison for “defamation of institutions, organizations and heroes and martyrs of the Republic of Cuba” and “public disorder” and the mother to house arrest. On April 2, 2017, after a long hunger-strike, the three siblings were released under conditional release. This means that the charges were not dropped but that those convicted are allowed to spend the remainder of their sentences outside prison. Their mother remains under house arrest. They continue to suffer harassment and intimidation from Cuban officials.

Economist Karina Gálvez Chiu was sentenced to to three years of deprivation of liberty and the confiscation of her home for the alleged crime of tax evasion. Cuba does not have an independent judiciary and the trial appears to have the objective of shutting down the headquarters of of the Center for Coexistence studies (CEC). Gálvez Chiu’s home was the meeting place for this independent project. It is the second time that the civil society group has lost a meeting place. The first time was in 2009 when the meeting place, located in her parent’s yard was confiscated and closed. The court ruling said that the conviction seeks to “make the defendant understand” the seriousness of the crime and also “serve to educate the people in general.”

Free Cuba Foundation Recommendations to the Cuban State
  • End the acts of repudiation carried out by rapid response brigades organized by government agents both inside and outside of Cuba. 
  • Free all political prisoners.
  • Respect and recognize the right to freedom of expression and association. This includes not participating in activities.
  • Recognize independent civil society organizations.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Official letter to Jean-Claude Juncker on Karl Marx


Mr Jean-Claude Juncker,

President of the Commission of the European Union,


May 3rd 2018

Dear Mr President,

I am writing to you on behalf of the undersigned organizations gathering European citizens in several EU member states. Our think tanks, foundations and associations promote civil liberties and economic freedom across our continent. We find it both deeply worrisome and outrageous to learn that, on behalf of the Commission, you are planning to attend the 200th Birth Anniversary of Karl Marx in the city of Tréveris on May 5th.

As defenders of individual liberty, we consider this event to be cruel and disrespectful towards millions of European Union citizens who suffered communist dictatorships for over half a century. We remind you that even today there are still many countries in the world where the population suffers from the ideological abomination created by Karl Marx. More than one hundred million people died as a direct consequence of communism in the past century all over the world. A President of the European Commission is not allowed to forget this when acting on behalf of the European Union and representing all of its citizens. Entire societies in the Eastern part of Europe were starved, exploited and denied basic human rights, even to the extent of systematically forcing children out of school to work in the fields every year.

We know that the president of the European Commission would certainly refuse to participate in an anniversary of the nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg. We call upon you to reflect on this and cancel your participation in the Karl Marx anniversary event, in order to avoid celebrating the single highest intellectual contributor to the tyrannic regimes that destroyed entire societies in our continent and worldwide. On the contrary it is today more necessary than ever to debunk Karl Marx’s wrong theories. We also request you to make a formal apology to the victims of communism for this mistake.

Roxana Nicula,
Chairperson, Foundation for the Advancement of Liberty (Spain)

Tomasz Wroblewski,
President Warsaw Enterprise Institute (Poland)

John Suárez
Free Cuba Foundation


Versión en Español

A la atención del sr. D. Jean-Claude Juncker,
Presidente de la Comisión Europea de la Unión Europea,

3 de mayo de 2018

Estimado Sr. Presidente,

Le estoy escribiendo esta carta en representación de varias organizaciones formadas por ciudadanos europeos de diferentes países miembros de la Unión Europea. Nuestras instituciones y think tanks promueven las libertades civiles y económicas en todo el continente. Nos preocupa y a la vez nos produce horror el hecho de que, en nombre de la Comisión Europea, Ud tiene planeado participar en la inauguración de las fiestas del 200 Aniversario de Karl Marx en la ciudad de Tréveris el 5 de mayo.

Como defensores de la libertad individual, consideramos este evento como algo cruel y falto de respecto hacia millones de ciudadanos de la Unión Europea que sufrieron la dictadura comunista durante más de medio siglo. Deseoamos recordarle que a día de hoy, todavía hay muchos países en el mundo donde la población está sufriendo la abominación ideológica creada por Karl Marx. Más de cien millones de personas murieron en el mundo como consecuencia directa del comunismo en el pasado siglo. Un presidente de la Comisión Europea no puede permitirse olvidar estos hechos cuando actúa en nombre de la Unión Europea y representa a todos sus ciudadanos. Sociedades enteras en el Este de Europa sufrieron hambrunas, fueron explotadas y los Derechos Humanos básicos de sus integrantes violados hasta extremos en que los Estados comunistas llevaban por la fuerza y de forma sistemática a realizar las labores del campo a los niños en cada comienzo de curso escolar y parte de las vacaciones de verano cada año.

Sabemos que el presidente de la Comisión Europea rechazaría participar en un aniversario del ideólogo del nazismo, Alfred Rosenberg. Por ello, le pedimos que piense nuevamente lo que implica su participación en el aniversario del ideólogo del comunismo, Karl Marx y cancele su viaje. Ello evitará la celebración del mayor contribuyente intelectual a los regímenes tiránicos que destruyeron sociedades enteras en nuestro continente y en el mundo entero. Hoy es más necesario que nunca desenmascarar las teorías equivocadas de Karl Marx, y además le exijimos una disculpa formal por este error a las víctimas del comunismo.

Roxana Nicula,
Presidenta, Fundación para el Avance de la Libertad (España)

Tomasz Wroblewski,
Presidente Warsaw Enterprise Institute (Poland)

Gia Jandieri,
Vice-President New Economic School Georgia (GE)

John Suárez,
Free Cuba Foundation

Máté Hajba,
Director Free Market Foundation (Hungary)

Monday, February 26, 2018

Family members, students and university community hold silent vigil at FIU for Brothers to the Rescue martyrs

Remembering and honoring Armando Alejandre Jr., Carlos Alberto Costa, Mario Manuel de la Peña, and Pablo Morales.

Silent vigil for justice today at Florida International University (Photo Alvaro Mata)
Family members, students and members of the university community held a silent vigil for justice for the four victims of the February 24, 1996 shoot down. The vigil took place at the main fountain at Florida International University located between the Charles E. Perry Bldg. and the Green Library on February 26, Monday from 3:21pm to 3:27pm the times both planes were shot down. Family members and students began to gather at 3:15pm.

Family members hold vigil at FIU for their loved ones. (Photo: Alvaro Mata)
 2018 marks 22 years since Fidel and Raul Castro ordered Cuban MiGs to shoot down two Brothers to theRescue planes that at the time were in international airspace killing Armando Alejandre Jr. (45 years old), Carlos Alberto Costa (29), Mario Manuel de la Peña (24), and Pablo Morales (29). A thorough international investigation carried out by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights on the merits made public in 1999 concluded: that the Castro regime was legally responsible for their murders and for the lack of justice.

Students, staff, and members of the FIU community took part in the vigil today.
 Successful civil lawsuits have been brought against the Castro regime by the families of the victims, but criminal prosecutions of those responsible, save one case, have not been carried out. On December 12, 2001 Gerardo Hernandez, a Cuban spy ,was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to commit murder for his role in providing information that led to the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama on December 17, 2014 commuted his life sentence and returned Mr. Hernandez to Cuba. Families have expressed feeling misled by the United States government.

Former prisoner of conscience Regis Iglesias, together with family, friends at vigil
Among the attendees today was Regis Iglesias Ramirez, spokesman of the Christian Liberation Movement and former prisoner of conscience, who paid his respects to the victims and their family members.

Regis Iglesias Ramirez pays his respects to the four martyrs
On Saturday, February 24, 2018 in Cuba several opposition activists were detained while attempting to pay homage to the victims of the 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shoot down.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Where were you the day Cuban prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo died eight years ago?

Orlando Zapata Tamayo, May 15, 1967 – February 23, 2010

Orlando Zapata Tamayo
Do you even know who Orlando Zapata Tamayo was?

Orlando Zapata Tamayo was a Cuban bricklayer and human rights defender who worked with human rights heroes  Oscar Elias Biscet, and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas in campaigns to educate Cubans on human rights and to reclaim those rights in the Project Varela petition drive.

He was imprisoned in 2003 and continuously beaten and tortured for seven years for continuing his defiance of the dictatorship and defense of human rights behind bars. In late 2009 in order to protest mistreatment he went on hunger strike and prison officials responded by taking his water away in order to break his spirit. Instead they killed him. Amnesty International said "Cuban authorities responsible for activist's death on hunger strike."

Cuban human rights defender and martyr Orlando Zapata Tamayo
The uproar caused by his death was a key factor in the later release over the course of 2010 and 2011 of the remaining prisoners of conscience imprisoned since 2003.

Returning to the original question in abbreviated form: "Where were you the day Orlando Zapata Tamayo died?"

The Canadian punk rock band I.H.A.D. asked the question in a song simply titled "Orlando Zapata" and we after requesting their permission produced the video below accompanying their song.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Twenty years ago today the Agreement for Democracy in Cuba was signed by 33 organizations at Florida International University

Twenty years ago today, 57 groups from inside and outside the island signed The Agreement for Democracy in Cuba. The Free Cuba Foundation signed The Agreement on February 20, 1998 at Florida International University at an event attended by 33 Cuban exile organizations. A total of 57 organizations (33 in the diaspora and 24 inside Cuba) signed this document that remains relevant today. Below is the text translated to English.

Agreement for Democracy in Cuba

We, Cubans conscious of the need for transcendental change in the political, social and economic structures of our country, gather, beyond our diverse strategies for liberation, to affirm before our people and the international community the essential postulates that substantiate the democratic alternative to the despotism which currently prevails in our homeland.

We affirm that the Cuban nation is one, within the national territory and in diaspora. We believe that all Cubans have the right to be equal before the law and the nation, with full dignity that cannot be subject to any discrimination. We likewise understand that the present regime has shown itself incapable of assuring liberty and justice and of promoting well-being and human solidarity in our homeland. Due to this, from this point forward, we establish, through a great national consensus and as a clear alternative to the current oppression, this: Agreement for Democracy in Cuba.
We recognize as the fundamental principle of the new Republic that Cuba is one and independent, whose sovereignty resides in the people and functions through the effective exercise of representative multi-party democracy, which is the government of the majority with absolute respect for the minority.

All governments must respect the sovereignty of the people, therefore, at the end of the current tyrannical regime, the provisional or transition government shall be obligated to return sovereignty to the people by way of the following measures:
  1. Guarantee the people’s participation in the decisions of the nation through the exercise of universal, direct, and secret voting to elect its representatives, and the right to seek public office.
  2. Immediately issue a general amnesty for the liberation of all political prisoners, including those who have been sentenced for fictitious common crimes, and cancel the pending political cases against Cubans in exile, so as to facilitate their return to the homeland and their reintegration into the national society.
  3. Organize an independent, impartial, and professional judiciary.
  4. Recognize and protect the freedom of expression, of the press, of association, of assembly, of peaceful demonstration, profession, and religion.
  5. Protect the Cuban people from arbitrary expulsion from their homes as well as against all forms of detention, search, confiscation or arbitrary aggression, and from violation of their correspondence, documents and other communications, and defend all Cubans’ rights to privacy and honor.
  6. Immediately legalize all political parties and other organizations and activities of civil society.
  7. Refer to the Constitution of 1940, when applicable, during the transition period and convoke free elections with the supervision of international organizations within a time period not greater than one year, for a Constituent Congress which will establish a Constitution and which, during its existence, shall have authority to legislate as well as to oversee the executive. Having thus achieved democratic legitimacy, it shall call general elections in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
  8. Recognize and protect the freedom of economic activity; the right to private property; the right to unionize, to bargain collectively and to strike; the Cuban people’s right to genuine participation in their economic development; access to public health and education, and initiate the reestablishment of civic values in education.
  9. Take immediate steps to protect Cuba’s environmental security and protect and rescue the national patrimony.
  10. Propitiate and guarantee the professionalism and political neutrality of the Armed Forces and create forces of public order whose rules of conduct shall adjust to the principles of this Agreement.
Cuba shall resurrect from its own ashes, but it is the sacred obligation of all Cubans – both within the oppressed island and in diaspora – to place our hands on the plough without looking backwards but rather into the deepest part of our hearts, to convert those ashes into fertile seeds of love and creation. Now, as 100 years ago, our national aspiration remains the construction of a Republic based on the formula of triumphant love:


Signed February 20, 1998 at Florida International University.

José Luis Pujol

Juan Carlos Acosta

Pedro L. Solares

José Pérez Linares

Ana M. Carbonell

Pedro Luis Ferro


Dr. Lino B. Fernández

Dr. Ricardo Bofill

Andrés García

Lázaro Jordana

Húber Matos

Juan Fernandez de Castro y Orlando Gutiérrez

Rolando Borges

Francisco García

John Suárez

Rufino Alvarez

Ruth C. Montaner

José Basulto

Dr. Rafael Díaz-Balart

Sylvia G. Iriondo

Ramón Saúl Sánchez

Roberto Pereda

Israel Abreu Villareal

Estela Rose

María Márquez


Alberto Martínez Echenique

Sergio Ramos

(Representación en el exterior) PARTIDO SOCIAL DEMÓCRATA CUBANO 
Tony Santiago

Luis González Infante

Dr. Nicolás Gutiérrez

Carlos Alberto Montaner

Original Spanish text follows:

Acuerdo por la Democracia en Cuba

Nosotros, cubanos conscientes de la necesidad de un cambio trascendente en las estructuras políticas, sociales y económicas de nuestro país, nos juntamos más allá de nuestras estrategias en favor de la liberación para afirmar ante nuestro pueblo y la comunidad internacional los postulados esenciales que substancien la alternativa democrática al despotismo que impera actualmente en nuestra patria.

Afirmamos que la nación cubana es una sola, en el territorio nacional y en la diáspora. Creemos que todos los cubanos tenemos el derecho a ser iguales ante la ley y la nación, con dignidad plena que no puede ser sometida a ninguna discriminación. Entendemos, asimismo, que el presente régimen se ha mostrado incapaz de asegurar la libertad y la justicia y de promover el bienestar general y la solidaridad humana en nuestra patria. Por eso desde ahora establecemos, mediante un gran consenso nacional y como una clara alternativa a la opresión actual, este

Acuerdo por la Democracia en Cuba

Reconocemos como principio fundamental de la Nueva República que Cuba es una e independiente, cuya soberanía reside en el pueblo y funciona mediante el ejercicio efectivo de la democracia representativa pluripartidista, que es el gobierno de la mayoría con respeto absoluto a la minoría.

Todo gobierno tiene que respetar la soberanía del pueblo, por tanto, al fin del régimen tiránico actual, el gobierno provisional o de transición tendrá la obligación de devolverle la soberanía al pueblo mediante las siguientes medidas:

  1. Garantizar la participación del pueblo en las decisiones de la nación, a través del ejercicio del sufragio universal directo y secreto para elegir a sus representantes y el derecho a postularse para cargos públicos.
  2. Promulgar de inmediato una amnistía general para la liberación de todos los presos políticos, incluyendo a aquellos condenados por falsos delitos comunes, y cancelar las causas políticas pendientes contra los cubanos exiliados, para facilitar su regreso a la patria y su reincorporación a la vida nacional.
  3. Organizar un poder judicial independiente, imparcial y profesional.
  4. Reconocer y proteger la libertad de expresión, de prensa, de asociación, de reunión, de manifestación pacífica, de profesión y religión.
  5. Amparar a los cubanos contra todo tipo de desalojo arbitrario de sus viviendas así como contra toda detención, registro, allanamiento, confiscación o agresión arbitraria, y contra la violación de su correspondencia, documentos, y otras comunicaciones y defender el derecho de todos a la intimidad y el honor.
  6. Legalizar de inmediato a todos los partidos políticos y demás organizaciones y actividades de la sociedad civil.
  7. Referirse a la Constitución de 1940, en lo aplicable, durante el período de transición y convocar a elecciones libres con la supervisión de organismos internacionales, en un plazo no mayor de un aqo, para un Congreso Constituyente que establezca una Constitución y que durante su existencia pueda legislar y fiscalizar al Ejecutivo. Lograda así la legitimidad democrática, convocará a elecciones generales según establezca la Constitución.
  8. Reconocer y proteger la libertad de gestión económica; el derecho a la propiedad privada; la libertad sindical; el derecho al convenio colectivo y a la huelga; el derecho a la participación real del pueblo cubano en el desarrollo económico; y el acceso a la salud y la educación públicas e iniciar el reestablecimiento de los valores cívicos en la misma.
  9. Tomar con urgencia medidas para proteger la seguridad medioambiental y proteger y rescatar el patrimonio nacional.
  10. Propiciar y garantizar la profesionalidad, dignidad y neutralidad política de las Fuerzas Armadas y crear cuerpos de orden público cuyas normas de conducta se ajusten a los principios de este Acuerdo.

Cuba resurgirá de sus propias cenizas, pero es obligación sagrada de todos los cubanos - tanto de los que viven en la isla oprimida como en la diáspora - poner las manos en el arado sin mirar atrás sino a lo más profundo de nuestros corazones, para convertir las cenizas en semilla fecunda de amor y creación. Ahora, como hace 100 aqos, nuestra aspiración nacional continúa siendo construir una República basada en la fórmula del amor triunfante: