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Cuban dissidents plant a hoax to trap government spies

Posted on Friday, 10.18.13

Cuban dissidents plant a hoax to trap government spies
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
JTAMAYO@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM

Cuban blogger Ernesto Vera Rodriguez thought he had a scoop: Exiles in
Miami had cut off funds to the island’s most active… Continue reading

Ladies in White resign over alleged State Security infiltrator

Posted on Saturday, 07.06.13

Ladies in White resign over alleged State Security infiltrator
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
JTAMAYO@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM

At least 18 members have quit Cuba’s dissident Ladies in White in the
eastern province of Santiago de Cuba. Top opposition leader… Continue reading

Uniting what Castro has divided

Posted on Saturday, 04.06.13
HUMAN RIGHTS

Uniting what Castro has divided
BY JORGE MAS SANTOS
fhrcuba.org

The Cuban exile community used to be referenced by my father, Jorge Mas
Canosa, with a simple phrase, "We unite all that Castro has divided."
The truth of this statement must have resonated loud and clear a few
evenings ago in the ears of a young Cuban lady, fresh from the
pervading, ratcheting, command of "fatherland or death" of the Cuba run
by the Castro brothers.

The Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FHRC), an independent,
non-partisan, service organization founded by my father with Clara and
Mario del Valle, and others in 1992, invited Yoani Sanchez to face the
scrutiny at the Coral Gables Country Club of a wide cross-section of
what, for much of her young life, had been referred to as the "
gusanera" (worms) or the "mafia" of Miami. Yoani, armed only with a
fine, cultured intellect and a sharp, precise vocal expression, accepted
the challenge of facing the questions of over 700 inquisitive Cubans in
Miami.

Soon after the questions, many not easy; some answers not too pleasing,
it became obvious that what Mas Canosa used to say was taking hold. That
evening, in that hall, what Castro had been dividing for over five
decades — what forced hatred had separated — mutual understanding and
unimpeded love of country was uniting.

Exhausted from a prolonged isolation, Cubans on the island are clamoring
to be heard, to tell of the cruel reality of their lives. Cubans in
exile are equally exhausted of being defamed, caricatured and ostracized
by Castro's cruel propaganda. That evening both sides coincided and came
to understand each other.

We must congratulate FHRC, its past chairman Javier Soto, chairman Pedro
Rodriguez and Tony Costa for a successful experiment in mutual
understanding. In the coming weeks, if the door that opened is not shut,
there will be other Yoanis, male and female, activists or bloggers like
her coming to Miami. Berta Soler, another extraordinary personality,
leader of the brave Ladies in White, will be coming soon. Let us repeat
once and again that evening of understanding and mutual support, let us
embrace them, understand them and send them back with the firm
conviction that they are not alone.

We at FHRC will continue to provide substantial financial, material and
technological support to the brave men and women developing an
independent civil society. As they become more knowledgeable and
efficient in their strategic non-violent actions and follow others that
have broken the chains of oppression, their movement will continue growing.

"We are one people" (" somos un solo pueblo") has been the CANF mantra
for over two decades. Fear and a lack of communication among the exiles
and those on island have crippled us for much too long. Although we in
South Florida have witnessed these messages of Cuba's reality, the same
cannot be said for our compatriots on the island as Yoani and so many
others recognize their message is not known throughout the island.

Our challenge is: How do we break the monopoly of information the regime
has on its people?

Although technological advances and increased assistance has helped, it
is not enough. We must continue to support the growth of independent
journalists in Cuba. Support the mission of Radio Marti that through new
media initiatives is reaching an unprecedented number of the Cuban
people. We must seek innovative solutions so the Cuban people can seek
the truth and share without fear their aspirations for a better future.

We must challenge ourselves to communicate more frequently with our
compatriots on island and support policies and initiatives that open
Cuba to the world even with the virulent opposition of the Castro
regime. We must break the status quo for the benefit of the Cuban people.

Change in Cuba will not come out of the hands of Fidel or Raúl or their
heirs and minions. Change will only come from the decision of the Cuban
people to be free.

Yoani, Berta Soler, Jose Daniel Ferrer and many others have already made
that decision. Let us accompany them in their journey. Together we will
achieve Cuba's freedom.

Jorge Mas Santos is the chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation.

Read more here:
http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/04/06/3325708/jorge-mas-santos-uniting-what.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy Continue reading

In solidarity with Cuba’s voices of opposition to Castro’s tyranny

Posted on Saturday, 03.30.13

YOANI SANCHEZ

In solidarity with Cuba's voices of opposition to Castro's tyranny
BY MARIO DIAZ-BALART AND ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN

As we celebrate Passover and Easter, we cherish the freedom to practice
our beliefs and express our views, but are also reminded of those 90
miles away who suffer under an evil communist dictatorship. As the
beacon of democracy, we stand with pro-freedom activists in Cuba who are
struggling to achieve those same essential liberties.

On Monday, South Florida will have the opportunity to hear, once again,
the tragic story of an oppressed people under the thumb of a despotic
regime. Yoani Sánchez uses social media to shine a light on the dark
rule of the Castro brothers. Through her blog and writings, Yoani
reveals the plight of the Cuban people to the international community,
raises awareness on the extent of the regime's brutality, and gives
voice to those silenced by oppression.

During her recent visit to Washington, we, along with our congressional
colleagues, discussed with Yoani the ongoing dire situation in Cuba.
This event illustrated the bipartisan and bicameral support for the
cause of democracy in Cuba. We discussed the gross human-rights
violations on the island as Yoani conveyed the atrocities committed
against the Cuban people and the denial of their rights of free speech,
press, and assembly. We expressed to Yoani that, even if we do not agree
on every point, we stand in solidarity with the opposition voices in
Cuba and reaffirmed that they are not alone in their struggle.

This month, we remember the 2003 Black Spring crackdown in Cuba where 75
dissidents were unjustly imprisoned. Unfortunately, little has changed
since that time. The Ladies in White continue to be harassed, kicked and
beaten by Castro's state security agents just for marching in peace to
church. The Castro regime has the blood of pro-democracy advocates on
its hands, and we remain deeply concerned for the health and lives of
those brave activists who continue to speak out.

During the years of the Obama administration alone, pro-democracy
leaders Orlando Zapata Tamayo (d. Feb. 23, 2010), Juan Wilfredo Soto
García (d. May 8, 2011), Laura Pollán (d. Oct. 14, 2011), Wilman Villar
Mendoza (d. Jan. 19, 2012), Harold Cepero (d. July 22, 2012) and Oswaldo
Payá Sardiñas (d. July 22, 2012) have lost their lives at the hands of
the Castro dictatorship. These deaths underscore the grave risks assumed
by pro-democracy activists such as Antonio Rodiles, Sara Marta Fonseca,
Yoani Sánchez, Jorge Luis García Pérez ("Antunez"), José Daniel Ferrer
García, Marta Beatriz Roque, Berta Soler, Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet and
many others when they simply express their views.

We also cannot forget the appalling case of Alan Gross, a U.S.
humanitarian aid worker who was arrested in December 2009 and remains in
prison for the "crime" of helping Cuba's small Jewish community access
the Internet. He is reportedly in poor health after having lost 100
pounds in prison while his daughter and mother are both battling cancer
in the U.S.

According to the Human Rights Watch 2013 World Report, "Cuba remains the
only country in Latin America that represses virtually all forms of
political dissent. In 2012, the regime . . . continued to enforce
political conformity using short-term detentions, beatings, public acts
of repudiation, travel restrictions, and forced exile." Numerous NGOs
have documented the sharp rise in detentions, arrests and other acts of
repudiation in Cuba, but the numbers could actually be higher due to
many who are imprisoned on trumped-up charges that are difficult to
document. For example, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and
National Reconciliation reported that there were 6,602 documented
political arrests in 2012, which was markedly up from 4,123 in 2011 and
2,074 in 2010.

Unfortunately, many in the international community fail to acknowledge
the Castro regime's egregious human rights record and brutal suppression
of fundamental liberties. However, with the help of Yoani and other
pro-democracy advocates, the Castro brothers have failed to silence the
Cuban people who are increasingly demanding real change.

Cuba's growing opposition movement is more united than ever. Due to its
heroic efforts, democracy will prevail on the island. May it be soon.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart are Republican members of
Congress representing South Florida.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/03/30/3313987/in-solidarity-with-cubas-voices.html#storylink=misearch Continue reading

Cuban activists talk about lack of basic freedoms, 10 years on from mass crackdown

18 March 2013

Cuban activists talk about lack of basic freedoms, 10 years on from mass
crackdown

"The catalogue of repression and harassment suffered by José Daniel
Ferrer García since his release illustrates the current strategy by the
Cuban authorities under which activists are arrested for short periods
of time to discourage them from speaking up about the state of human
rights in the country."
Javier Zúñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.

Cuban activist José Daniel Ferrer García can hardly remember a time when
the authorities were not monitoring and blocking his movements and phone
calls.

Coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba,
UNPACU), an unrecognized organization that seeks democratic change by
non-violent means, José Daniel has been arrested on numerous occasions
as punishment for his activism.

From his early days as an activist in the 1990s he was used to being
arbitrarily detained on a regular basis for short periods and was
constantly threatened with prison.

So when he was told by two state security officials on 15 March 2003
that he only had a few days to stop his dissident activities or he would
face a long time in prison, his reaction was to laugh.

"They had threatened me so many times, with so many years of prison that
I no longer took them seriously," he said.

Three days later, however, on 18 March 2003, in what was later dubbed
the "black spring" by those affected, José Daniel was arrested as part
of a group of 75 political dissidents in an unprecedented crackdown on
the dissident movement on the island.

They were all detained on spurious charges related to state security and
following summary trials were sentenced to long prison terms of up to 28
years.

José Daniel was sentenced to 25 years under charges of "acts against the
territorial independence or integrity of the state". During his trial,
the prosecution pushed for the death penalty, the maximum sentence for
that "crime". All he had been doing was help to organize a campaign
calling for a referendum on legal reform to seek greater personal,
political and economic freedoms in his country.

Amnesty International declared them all "prisoners of conscience" as
they had been sentenced solely for the peaceful exercise of fundamental
freedoms.

During his time in prison, José Daniel was moved to several prisons
across the country – which made visits from his wife and three children,
difficult.

But in July 2010, following the intervention of the Cuban Catholic
Church, authorities in Cuba agreed to release all those of the 75 who
remained in prison, amongst them, José Daniel.

The political dissidents were set free under "licencia extrapenal" a
conditional release meaning that the charges against them were not being
dropped but that they were allowed to spend the remainder of their
sentences outside prison. Most activists, however, were forced into
exile in Spain.

José Daniel refused to leave Cuba and was finally released in March 2011.

Since his release, he has continued to suffer from harassment – mainly
in the form of short-term detentions aimed at preventing him from
carrying out his activism, including attending private meetings and
public events. His home has also been raided by state security forces
and his computer confiscated.

In August 2012, he was arrested for 36 hours in the province of Holguín,
before being released without charge. In April 2012, he was held for 27
days for "public disorder" in his home province of Santiago de Cuba and
only released on the condition that he renounce his political activism,
something he refused to do. Two months earlier, he had been arrested in
Havana and held incommunicado for three days.

"The catalogue of repression and harassment suffered by José Daniel
Ferrer García since his release illustrates the current strategy by the
Cuban authorities under which activists are arrested for short periods
of time to discourage them from speaking up about the state of human
rights in the country," said Javier Zúñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty
International.

According to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights – an organization
denied legal status in Cuba - there were at least 504 arbitrary
detentions this February, while the unofficial news agency Hablemos
Press has reported that 40 independent journalists and bloggers have
been arbitrarily detained this year so far.

Travel ban
A new law came into force in January which has removed the need for
Cubans to have a permit to travel abroad, making it easier for Cubans to
leave the island and for Cubans living overseas to return.

Blogger Yoani Sánchez and the spokesperson of the NGO Ladies in White,
Berta Soler have both recently been allowed to travel abroad, something
which seemed impossible only a few months ago.

When he learned about the lift of Cuba's travel ban, however, José
Daniel knew that the historical change would not make much difference to
him. The fact that he is still serving his sentence means he cannot
apply for a passport until it ends in 2028.

Amnesty International says José Daniel and his fellow activists were
imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of their opinions and
their sentences should be voided immediately.

And for the activists imprisoned during the 2003 crackdown and forced
into exile, including journalist Pablo Pacheco, the ease in travel
restrictions will be unlikely to allow them and their families to return
to Cuba.

Pablo was originally sentenced to 20 years in prison under a law which
prohibits the passing of information to the United States that could be
used to bolster anti-Cuban measures, and was released in July 2010,
under the condition that he and his family would move to Spain.

"Prison conditions were terrible – solitary cells with no sunlight and a
toilet in the same cell. I lost 30 lbs and suffered long-term damage to
my knees. My family was only allowed to visit once every three months,"
he said to Amnesty International.

Pablo can still vividly remember the last day he spent in Cuba.

He was transferred directly from prison to the airport, where he met his
wife and son. He spent nearly two years in Spain and then moved to Miami
because the economic crisis in the European country left few job
opportunities for him and his wife.

Pablo told Amnesty International that he wants to return to Cuba as his
family and friends are there but that he will not be ready to return
until the country turns into a real democracy.

Trumped-up charges
Trumped-up charges on offences such as "disrespect", "public disorder",
"contempt" and "dangerousness" are still being used by the Cuban
authorities to prosecute government opponents.

Amnesty International has recently named two imprisoned activists as
"prisoners of conscience" – held solely because of the peaceful
expression of their opinions.

Journalist Calixto Martínez Arias, a founder member of Hablemos Press,
was arrested on 16 September 2012 near Havana airport by the Cuban
Revolutionary Police. He was investigating allegations that medicine
provided by the World Health Organization to fight a cholera outbreak
was being kept at the airport, as the Cuban government were allegedly
trying to down-play the seriousness of the outbreak.

When he complained at the police station about his detention, he was
beaten and pepper-sprayed, and then called out "down with Raúl", "down
with Fidel" and was subsequently charged by the police with showing
"disrespect" towards President Raúl Castro and Fidel Castro.

Calixto – who has yet to be formally charged by the public prosecutor –
began a hunger strike on 6 March 2013 in protest at his continued detention.

Marcos Máiquel Lima Cruz is currently serving a three-year sentence
having been detained on 25 December 2010 at his home in Holguín for
playing songs by a Cuban hip-hop group, whose lyrics criticize the lack
of freedom of expression in Cuba and dancing in front of his house
whilst holding the Cuban flag. He was sentenced for "insulting symbols
of the homeland" and "public disorder".

For José Daniel, the 10 years following the crackdown has seen no
improvement in the human rights situation in Cuba. The ease in travel
restrictions is "just a smoke screen. It will still be the Cuban
government who decides who can and can't leave. All the while other
fundamental freedoms are still being repressed and that repression is
increasing."

"Civil society in Cuba has already lost its fear to speak out", said
Pablo Pacheco, "and the world needs to support their efforts".

http://amnesty.org/en/news/cuban-activists-talk-about-lack-basic-freedoms-10-years-mass-crackdown-2013-03-18 Continue reading

Cuban prisons chief accused of abuse leaves Miami for Cuba

Posted on Friday, 11.30.12 Report: Cuban prisons chief accused of abuse leaves Miami for Cuba The former provincial prison chief was under investigation by U.S. immigration By Juan O. Tamayo jtamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com Crescencio Marino Rivero, a form... Continue reading

Where the Dictatorship Nests

Where the Dictatorship Nests / Lilianne Ruiz Lilianne Ruiz, Translator: Unstated When in Cuba we say "the system" we are referring to a circumstance which, even though we recognize it as abnormal, arbitrary and unnatural — the condition... Continue reading

Cuban dissident says he was held in a swamp lockup as punishment

Posted on Thursday, 08.16.12 Cuban dissident says he was held in a swamp lockup as punishment Angel Moya and five other members of the Democratic Freedom for Cuba Movement were detained last weekend outside the home of a movement member. By Juan O. ... Continue reading

Payá’s death leaves leadership gap in Cuba dissident movement that’s hard to fill

Posted on Sunday, 07.29.12 OSWALDO PAYA | CUBAN DISSIDENT MOVEMENT Payá's death leaves leadership gap in Cuba dissident movement that's hard to fill Oswaldo Payá, unquestionably the most centrist of Cuba's opposition leaders, ... Continue reading

Cuban doctors treated private patients in public hospitals

Posted on Friday, 07.20.12 Cuban doctors treated private patients in public hospitals They treated private patients in public hospitals, ran post-surgery clinics in private homes By Juan O. Tamayo jtamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com A number of Havana doctor... Continue reading

Cuban dissident arrives in U.S. as political refugee

Cuban dissident arrives in U.S. as political refugee Published June 29, 2012 EFE Cuban dissident Darsi Ferrer traveled Friday from Miami to Tennessee, where he will live with his family after coming to the United States with a political refugee prog... Continue reading

Whatever We Need to Do for the Freedom of Cuba, We Will Continue Doing

"Whatever We Need to Do for the Freedom of Cuba, We Will Continue Doing" Translating Cuba, Translator: Raul G. After being confined to a dungeon of the Versalles Police Unit in Santiago de Cuba for 27 days, the leader of the Patriotic Unio... Continue reading

The Great Bubble and the Complicit Silence / Estado de SATS, Alexis Jardines

The Great Bubble and the Complicit Silence / Estado de SATS, Alexis Jardines Estado de Sats / State of Sats, Translator: Unstated By Alexis Jardines José Daniel Ferrer suffers in the dungeons of State Security in Santiago de Cuba, subjected to ... Continue reading

Opposition members take exception to remarks at Harvard by Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, Archbishop of Havana,

Posted on Friday, 04.27.12 Opposition members take exception to remarks at Harvard by Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, Archbishop of Havana, Opposition members both in and outside Cuba take exception to some remarks made by Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alam... Continue reading

Wife of top Cuban dissident says he launched hunger strike to protest his imprisonment

Posted on Tuesday, 04.24.12Wife of top Cuban dissident says he launched hunger strike to protest his imprisonmentThe wife of José Daniel Ferrer García said he began the hunger strike to protest his detention.By Juan O. Tamayojtamayo@ElNuevoHe... Continue reading

For Cuban Dissidents, an Open Phone Line

For Cuban Dissidents, an Open Phone LinePrepaid Cellphones Let Bloggers Post and Tweet in Privacy, as ForeignSupporters Add Minutes to Their AccountsBy NICHOLAS CASEYHAVANA—Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez became famous for sneaking intostate-run Int... Continue reading