“El Sexto” Awarded 2015 Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent / 14ymedio

Danilo Maldonado, 'El Sexto' (The Sixth) (14ymedio)

Danilo Maldonado, ‘El Sexto’ (The Sixth) (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 15 April 2105 — The Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto (The Sixth*), is one of three winners of the 2015 Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent, as announced on Wednesday by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation (HRF). Also receiving the prize are members of the Sudanese non-violent resistance movement Girifna, and the Indonesian comic Sakdiyah Ma’ruf. The prize will be awarded in an Oslo Freedom Forum ceremony on May 27.

The graffiti artist, who has been in prison since last December charged with contempt, continues to await trial. He was arrested while attempting to stage a performance with two pigs decorated with the names “Fidel” and “Raul.” Continue reading

Without dialogue and reconciliation, Cuba will go from bad to worse / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos

14ymedio biggerDoes the fact that Raul Castro has met and shaken hands with Obama and that both of their governments have engaged in a year and a half of secret conversations commit the general-president to the aggressive policies of the US government?

The Cuban government received billions of rubles in support and arms of every kind from the former Soviet Union and supported it through guerrilla and military actions in other countries. Does this make the Cuban government the mercenary of the USSR?

Fidel Castro received from the former president Carlos Prio, the most anti-Communist of all the presidents of the first half-century of the Republic, $50,000 to buy the yacht Granma [on which he sailed to Cuba from Mexico to start the Revolution]. Does this mean that Fidel responded to the interest of Prio and was his mercenary? Continue reading

Guillermo Farinas, selected for the 2015 Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom / 14ymedio

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14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 13 April 2015 — The Cuban activist Guillermo Fariñas has been selected to receive the 2015 Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom, as he himself announced Monday via his Twitter account.

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Washington DC, offers this award annually to individuals or institutions involved in the fight for freedom and democracy and opposed to communism and other forms of tyranny.

Since the first edition of the award, in 1999, those who have received this distinction include Pope John Paul II (in 2005), former Polish President Lech Walesa (in 2006) and former Secretary of US Defense Donald Rumsfeld (in 2012), among others.
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation aims to honor the more than 100 million victims of communism worldwide and the freedom of those still living under totalitarian regimes.

“We are ready to talk about everything, with patience,” Castro tells Obama / 14ymedio

Raul Castro with Barack Obama at a press conference at the Summit of the Americas

Raul Castro with Barack Obama at a press conference at the Summit of the Americas

14ymedio biggerEFE / 14ymedio, Panama, 11 April 2015 – The president of the United States, Barack Obama, today told his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, that “it was time to try something new” in relation to Cuba, during the historic meeting they held in Panama under the framework of the Summit of the Americas.

It is the first time in half a century that the presidents of the two countries have met.

For his part, Raul Castro assured the US president that “we are willing to talk about everything, but with patience,” in the process towards normalization of bilateral relations. Continue reading

“This is the time for Cuba to open up” in Baseball / 14ymedio

Juan Francisco Puello, president of the Caribbean Confederation of Professional Baseball

Juan Francisco Puello, president of the Caribbean Confederation of Professional Baseball

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 11 April 2015 — The Dominican Juan Francisco Puello, president of the Caribbean Confederation of Professional Baseball, is currently visiting Cuba and attended the sixth game of the finals of the National Baseball Series. At the conclusion of the game at the stadium in Ciego de Ávila, the representative of the regional organization answered questions from the press.

Puello acknowledged that having witnessed the game between the local team and the team from the Isla de la Juventud was “an enlightening and rewarding experience.” At his side were Higinio Velez, president of the Cuban Baseball Federation, and Heriberto Suárez, another senior official of the State Institute of Sports. Continue reading

Barack Obama meets with Cuban activists before meeting with Raul Castro

Laritza Diversent and Manual Cuesta Morua in meeting with Barack Obama

Laritza Diversent (3rd from R) and Manual Cuesta Morua (2nd from R) in meeting with Barack Obama

14ymedio biggerEFE, 10 April 2015 – The president of the United States, Barack Obama, met today in Panama with members of the Cuban opposition and civil society leaders from other countries before his anticipated meeting this Saturday with with Cuban president Raul Castro.

After giving a speech at the Forum of Civil Society, Obama attended a round table, closed to the press, with activist and civic leaders from several countries, among them the Cuban opposition members Manuel Cuesta Morúa and Laritza Diversent, according to information provided by the White House.

Also participating in the meeting were the presidents of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís, and Uruguay, Tabaré Vázquez.

Castro exempts Obama from responsibility for the policy of the previous “ten presidents” / 14ymedio

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Raul Castro during his speech at the Summit of the Americas

14ymedio biggerEFE / 14ymedio, 11 April 2015 — The first speech from the president of Cuba, Raul Castro, at the Summit of the Americas, received a standing ovation in the room where the meeting is being held and grabbed the attention of hundreds of journalists in the press room installed in the Atlapa Convention Center.

“It was time for me to speak here” on behalf of Cuba, said the Cuban leader, who on Friday joined the US President Barack Obama, in a historic moment when they shook hands at the opening of the Seventh Summit of the Americas.

The announcement of Castro’s speech of the host country’s president, Juan Carlos Varela, immediately after the words of the president of the United States, provoked a loud and long applause from the heads of state and official delegations. Continue reading

Mission Accomplished, General / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya

A group of members of the official Cuban delegation will hold a protest at the entrance of the Civil Society Forum. (EFE / Alejandro Bolívar)

A group of members of the official Cuban delegation will hold a protest at the entrance of the Civil Society Forum. (EFE / Alejandro Bolívar)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Panama, 9 April 2015 – Just as expected, April 8th was D-day for Castro’s troops in Panama, with the Forum of Civil Society in the framework of the Summit of the Americas. The physical and verbal aggression and the “revolutionary violence” unleashed in all its public display of barbarism before the astonished eyes of those who were involuntary witnesses of the shameful act, demonstrate how long the arm of the dictatorship of the Island is, and how disrespectful they are willing to be at international democratic venues.

It would have been naive to expect any other conduct, after preludes that foretold the climax. The Castro clan was initially flattered in its infinite vanity, after half a century of being expelled from the OAS, to have been one of the first invitees to the Americas’ Summit, only to have to swallow the bitter pill, soon after, of tolerating the independent civil society’s presence at the regional event. These are appropriate games of democracy, but a humiliation that the Antillean olive green caste was not willing to accept.

Now we were able to prove that it was not by happenstance that several activists of the Cuban independent civil society were harassed on our arrival at the Tocumen airport, some detained a relatively long time and interrogated, as if we were terrorists or criminals, by authorities that report directly to the Panamanian government. “We do not want disturbances or provocations at the Summit,” was the warning we received before allowing us to continue, and following that, a polite phrase that was almost cynical: “Welcome to Panama.” No doubt this is a peculiar sense of the hospitality and the official image this country is offering these occasional visitors. Continue reading

The Cuban government’s ‘civil society’ admits defeat and withdraws from the meeting with the heads of state / 14ymedio

The site of the closing of the Summit's Civil Society Forum (14ymedio)

The site of the closing of the Summit’s Civil Society Forum (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 10 April 2015 — In a “statement” published on the government website Cubadebate, the Cuban government’s “civil society delegation” announced today that it will not participate in the Friday afternoon meeting between the Civil Society Forum and the heads of state participating in the Summit of the Americas in Panama.

“We have taken this decision after collectively reflecting on the scenario that has been designed in the Civil Society Forum to force us to share with mercenaries paid from abroad for the purpose of subverting the political and social system of the country,” they explained in their statement.

US President Barack Obama will participate in this meeting, along with the presidents of Uruguay, Tabaré Vázquez, and Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis. In addition, Obama is expected to talk with various leaders of civil society, although the White House has not detailed with whom. Continue reading

The Summit from my TV / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula

Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Americas during the Summit. (Summit of the Americas)

Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Americas during the Summit. (Summit of the Americas)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Regina Coyula, Havana, 10 April 2105 – A clever strategy on the part of the Cuban government, with regards to the participation of the official civil society at the meeting associated with the Summit of the Americas, has been to present a delegation full of projects and good results from which they can look down on the newcomers from alternative civil society.

Cuban Television’s coverage – where the word ‘coverage’ is more akin to ‘cover up’ – identifies the official delegation, however, with objectives anchored in the era of the Cold War. They arrived in Panama with a fierce spirit and clear directions to not recognize independent civil society and to silence as much as possible its participation in the forum.

I don’t know if, after so much reading of the newspaper Granma, my granmar is so sharp that where others read patriotic indignation, I see lack of arguments; where they see maneuvers against Cuba, I interpret an intention to boycott the event. Continue reading

Cuba invites America’s entrepreneurs to do business together / 14ymedio

Rodrigo Malmierca, Cuba's Minister of Foreign Trade, speaks at a Business Forum at the Americas Summit. (Twitter)

Rodrigo Malmierca, Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Trade, speaks at a Business Forum at the Americas Summit. (Twitter)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Panama, 10 April 2015 – This Thursday Cuba offered itself as a safe destination for foreign investment and invited the business leaders of America, meeting in Panama, to visit the island “to make progress toward establishing mutually beneficial businesses.”

Rodrigo Malmierca, Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment also said, in statements to reporters, that “the policy of the [US] blockade goes against not only Cuba and the Cuban people, but also the will of businesspeople in the United States.”

In a speech to businesspeople participating in the CEO Summit of the Americas, Malmierca spoke of “great expectations” produced by last December’s announcement, the beginning of a process of normalization of relations between Washington and Havana. Continue reading

A North Korean ship coming from Cuba detained in Mexico / 14ymedio

The North Korean ship Mu Du Bong. (John Wrightson / Marinetraffic)

The North Korean ship Mu Du Bong. (John Wrightson / Marinetraffic)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 April 2015 — The North Korean ship Mu Du Bong and its crew are being detained in the port of Tuxpan, Mexico, as confirmed Wednesday by the Mexican Mission to the United Nations. The whip coming from Cuba ran aground on a reef, causing serious environmental damage to a protected natural area. According to the UN, the company owning the vessel is included on a list of sanctioned companies.

North Korea has accused Mexico of illegally retaining the vessel with 50 people on board and announced that it will take the necessary steps to release the vessel.

The ship was traveling with a crew of 33 North Korean nationals, according to data provided by the Mexican government. The workers are in good physical, moral and psychological condition, according to the Mexican embassy, with complete freedom of movement and will be repatriated in cooperation with the Embassy of North Korea. The vessel, however, will remain in Mexico while the investigation continues.