Estado De Sats Holds Workshop On Rights And Freedoms / Cubanet, Arturo Rojas Rodriguez

Participants in the first Rights and Freedoms Workshop at Estado de Sats (photo by the author)

Participants in the first Rights and Freedoms Workshop at Estado de Sats (photo by the author)

cubanet square logoCubanet, Arturo Rojas Rodriguez, Havana, 12 February 2016 – On Thursday, members of several opposition groups participated in the first “Rights and Freedoms” workshop. The event brought together twenty participants and took place at Havana’s Miramar neighborhood.

Sponsored by Estado de Sats (State of Sats), those present included Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White. In his presentation, Antonio Rodiles, director of Estado de Sats, called for an analysis of the Roadmap for the Forum for Rights and Freedom, taking as a point of departure the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Rodiles emphasized, especially, the rights of workers in the private sector.

Raul Ciriaco Borges Alvarez, president of the Christian Democratic Social Party of Cuba, said that the work of the opposition has to be designed to encourage people, and primarily workers, to know their rights, to demand them, empowering them ever more with the tools that will allow them to “free themselves from the fear that constrains them.”

Agustín López Canino, blogger and freelance journalist, highlighted the role of various organizations and projects within civil society to convey knowledge, using forums, workshops, conferences and other spaces “of vital importance,” which only require a careful attention of those present, so that from their families, communities and frequented circles, they disseminate what they learned.

In response to a controversial debate about the popular discontent over state management and the fear than many profess about saying or doing anything about it, Rodiles pointed out that they need to connect with people and tell them, “look at what’s going on, if you’re afraid and don’t want to protest, at least stop supporting the regime.”

The workshop highlighted the role of the #TodosMarchamos (We All March)), with the participation of the Ladies in White and the Patriotic Union of Cuban (UNPACU) as cornerstones in the demand for an Amnesty Law and the release of political prisoners, among other actions to achieve a true state of law in Cuba.

Workshop participants agreed on the need to support fundamental actions to promote economic progress with the active role of the private sector and agreed to prepare a document for dissemination and analysis.

Email for Arturo Rojas Rodriguez: leylia815@gmail.com

Cuba, Burma and Obama / Antonio Rodiles

Martin Luther King Jr.: This “wait” has almost always meant “never.”*

Antonio Rodiles, 1 February 2016 — More than a year after the announcement of the restoration of relations between the United States government and the Havana regime, the direction that the political and economic landscape of our island will take remains uncertain.

The administration of President Barack Obama has outlined and is delivering a broad agenda full of concessions to the regime without asking for or receiving anything in return, either for the United States or for the Cuban people.

It is important to note that the violation of the freedoms and political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights of Cubans is provided for in the existing judicial and legal system, which limits, by law, the implementation of any measure that could work to our favor.

The United States government has validated the Castro regime as a political actor, and expects that internal and external sectors, including the opposition, accept this premise and develop strategies based on it. Continue reading

Opposition Marchers Should Change Their Strategy / Ivan Garcia

Ladies in White and dissidents in Gandhi Park on Sunday November 22, 2015. Snapshot Arturo Rojas, taken from CubaNet.

Ivan Garcia, 13 January 2016 — There were more than seven thousand arrests of dissidents in 2015, with most detentions lasting several hours. Beatings, harassment, acts of repudiation and degrading treatment by police are common in Cuba. Political reforms are not part of General Raúl Castro’s agenda.

Despite the repression in Havana there is one city block where democracy is respected. It was not a gift from the regime. It was a victory achieved by the Ladies in White in the spring of 2010. In this area you can protest and march without being brutally assaulted. Continue reading

Media Campaign Aims to Discredit Rodiles / Angel Santiesteban

Antonio Rodiles making a statement after his arrest

Angel Santiesteban Prats, 26 December 2015 — State Security is using all the tools in its arsenal to denigrate Cuban dissident Antonio Rodiles, who is currently the most uncomfortable thorn in the side of the regime, in the court of national and international public opinion.

Rodiles is one of three organizers of the Forum for Rights and Liberties. In conjunction with the Ladies in White and other human rights organizations, the group promotes peaceful Sunday marches — demonstrations which have been causing great harm to the regime — under the hashtag #TodosMarchamos.

Following mass at St. Rita Church, the group meets — as coincidence would have it — at Gandhi Park, and walks in a peaceful weekly procession along 26th Street to Third Avenue. They do this knowing that what awaits them, Sunday after Sunday, is one of those operations mounted by the repressive forces of the Castro clan to which we have become so accustomed. Fortunately, however, images of every repressive attack are recorded, leaving no doubt as to what is really going on. Continue reading

Declaration on the Cuban Migrant Crisis / Forum for Rights and Freedoms

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Forum for Rights and Freedoms, 23 November 2015 — In recent weeks we have observed, with deep concern, the development of a new migration crisis. The human drama that thousands of Cubans are experiencing already affects the entire Central American region, the Caribbean, and especially Costa Rica, a nation that has received migrants with great solidarity, in contrast to the complicity of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.

The Castro regime has decided, once again – we recall the Camarioca exodus in 1965, the Mariel Boatlift in the 1980s, the Rafter Crisis in 1994 – to use Cubans as pieces in their political game, putting at risk their lives and safety. Denunciations of abuse, assaults and every kind of crime against Cuban emigrants has elicited the solidarity of all people of goodwill.

Since coming the Castro dictatorship’s coming to power, the regime has used migratory crises to win concessions from the United States. Continue reading

Writer Angel Santiesteban Arrested Again / 14ymedio

The writer Angel Santiesteban with the Ladies in White at Gandhi Park, just outside the church of Santa Rita. (Luis Lazaro Guanche)

The writer Angel Santiesteban with the Ladies in White at Gandhi Park, just outside the church of Santa Rita. (Luis Lazaro Guanche)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 November 2015 — The writer Angel Santiesteban was arrested on Wednesday afternoon in Havana. A police car drove the activist from Antonio Gonzalez Rodiles’s house, where he was, to a police station, according to Santiesteban himself who spoke to this newspaper at the time of his arrest.

After the arrest, the blogger Lia Villares informed this newspaper that the police told the writer that it was “circulated for a month,” under the alleged “violation of domicile.” This Thursday he could be “tried in the Fifth Chamber of the court,” the same source stated.

Another source told 14ymedio the writer had missed the last time he was supposed to have signed in at the police station, a control measure that he must complete every week, under the terms of his probation. Should certain information arise, the authorities could use this to revoke his parole and return him to prison.

Last July Santiesteban was released after entering prison in December 2012, after a process that was considered by many to be arbitrary and precipitate. At that time he was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison also for alleged “violation of domicile and injuries.”

The writer has won significant literary awards, including the Casa de las Américas Prize in 2006. His book The Summer God Slept received the Franz Kafka Novel in Drawer Prize in 2013; the prize is given to censored writers whose work is, literally, “in a drawer” because they are unable to publish in their home countries.

Another Sunday of Repression of Activists Throughout the Country / 14ymedio

The Ladies in White on their walk this Sunday in Havana (photo Juan Angel Moya)

The Ladies in White on their walk this Sunday in Havana (photo Juan Angel Moya)

14ymedio, Havana, 12 October 2015 – A new round of repression against activists was experienced in Cuba this Sunday. The arrests began in the early morning hours in order to prevent dissidents from participating in the march on Fifth Avenue in Havana, which on this occasion included a tribute to the late leader of the Ladies in White, Laura Pollan.

The march through this downtown street was joined by 57 Ladies in White and 21 human rights activists, in addition to the mother and grandmother of artist Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto. The walk began in Gandhi Park, next to the Santa Rita Parish in the Miramar neighborhood. Later several dissidents were arrested, among them the blogger Lia Villares and dissident Antonio G. Rodiles.

Activist Arcelio Molina Leyva reported to 14ymedio that “the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) was raided, and they stole everything they could,” besides detaining “those who were there.” The dissident detailed that among those arrested were Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, Ovidio Martin Castellanos and Yriade Hernandez Aguilera. Continue reading

The Ladies In White Face Another Sunday Of Repression In Havana / 14ymedio

Ladies in White during the pilgrimage this Sunday. (Angel Moya)

Ladies in White during the pilgrimage this Sunday. (Angel Moya)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 October, 2015 – Fifty-nine Ladies in White and 20 activists gathered this Sunday in Gandhi Park in Havana’s Playa district, despite the arrests previous to their traditional Sunday peregrination. After a summary of their weekly activities, the dissidents were detained, according to a report from witnesses at the scene.

From the early hours, the regime opponent Martha Beatriz Roque denounced the arrests of 12 human rights activists who had traveled to Santa Rita parish. Among those arrested with the mother and siblings of Zaqueo Baez Guerrero, one of the members of the of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) who had approached Pope Francis in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution.

Others arrested on Sunday included the regime opponents Antonio Gonzalez Rodiles, Ailer Gonzalez and Felix Navarro. The latter lives in the town of Perico, Matanzas, and traveled to the capital to show his support to the human rights movement.

Blogger Agustín López Canino denounced his arrest and reported that he was handcuffed at the corner of 5th and 30th streets, in the Playa district, together with two other colleagues. The activists detailed that he was “taken to the outskirts of Havana” to prevent his accompanying the Ladies in White during their Sunday march.

Meanwhile, in Colón, Matanzas, independent journalist Ivan Hernandez Carrillo reported ten Ladies in White marched in Colón, Matanzas, for the release of the political prisoners.

The leader of the Ladies in White movement, Berta Soler said that Yaquelín Boni, an activist detained since Thursday during a protest outside Combinado del Este prison and accused of “disobedience,” has now been released.

Cuban Exiles Demand The Release Of Danilo Maldonado / EFE, 14ymedio

Danilo Maldonado, 'El Sexto' (The Sixth). (Artist's File)

Danilo Maldonado, ‘El Sexto’ (The Sixth). (Artist’s File)

EFE, Miami, 29 September 2015 — The Assembly of Cuban Resistance in Miami on Tuesday demanded the release in Cuba of artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto (The Sixth), who has spent 22 days on a hunger strike to demand his freedom after nine months of detention.

According to the Cuban exile group, the graffiti artist is in “critical condition” in the Cuban prison of Valle Grande, in the province of Mayabeque, along with the activisits Zaqueo Báez, Ismael Bonet Reñé and María Josefa Acón, detained in Havana and also on hunger strike.

The organization explained that Maldonado was arrested in December 2014 for painting the names of the two Castro brothers on the backs of two pigs, before an artistic performance he was going to stage with the animals. Continue reading

Cuba Awaits the Pope in Record Heat and Repression / Ivan Garcia

Berta Soler when she was arrested... Taken from ABC

Ivan Garcia, 17 September 2015 — For Nicolás Sarmientos, 73, making his usual rounds between the farm market, the bodega and the carters who sell fruits and vegetables in Havana is almost an extreme sport.

Although in theory we are knocking on the door of autumn, in Cuba the thermometers are soaring. The Meteorological Institute announced that the temperature in the capital exceeded 100 degrees, a height never reached.

Under a blazing sun and a numbing humidity, Nicolas searches the stands at the farm market for meat and beans to take home.

“The pantry and the fridge are empty,” he says, while looking at a poster of the Argentine Pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio with a Cuban flag in the background, attached to a column splattered with the red earth of the farms. Continue reading

Opponents Denounce Arrests And “Social Cleansing” Before The Pope’s Visit / 14ymedio

March of the Ladies in White.

March of the Ladies in White.

14ymedio, Havana, 18 September 2015 — The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) expressed Friday in a statement its “deep indignation and concern about the operation of ‘social cleansing’ that the government has developed in recent days” in Havana, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba. The spokesman for the organization, Elizardo Sanchez, stressed that thousands of paupers, beggars, bums, mentally ill and other wandering homeless people, in their great majority elderly people who have no place to live, have been interned before the Pope’s visit, that begins tomorrow.

The communication argues that the objective of “social cleansing” undertaken by the secret political police is to put these people out of sight of pilgrims, foreign journalists and other visitors. The organization stresses that the internments have been executed without judicial order and without disclosing the whereabouts of the victims. The CCDHRN asks the Pope to intervene for their immediate release.

The executive secretary of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer, has also circulated a message to publicize the arbitrary arrests of peaceful opposition within hours of the arrival of Pope Francisc.

Thousands of beggars have been detained in Havana, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba

Ferrer says at least two members of his organization, Alberto Valle Perez and Walter Reinosa Morales, were arrested yesterday in Havana, as well as Roberto Ferrer, a member of Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID) arrested with violence on La Palma, Arroyo Naranjo.

According to the UNPACU leader, in Santiago de Cuba and Holguin there is strong vigilance and mobilization of Interior Ministry troops, “ready to act against peaceful activists, defenders of human rights.”

The leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, has reported the detentions of some 17 members of the organization in Santiago de Cuba, Bayamo, Santa Clara and Pinar del Rio “to avoid” their attending the Masses that will be celebrated by the Pope on the island.

Among the detainees are the activist Leticia Ramos and her husband. Antonio Rodiles, director of Estado de SATS opposition group, has contacted their family and has said through his Twitter account that they are “confined in a room riddled with cockroaches.”

The Ladies in White Live through Another Day of Repression / 14ymedio

The Ladies in White march through the streets of Havana Sunday (14ymedio)

The Ladies in White march through the streets of Havana Sunday (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio.com, Havana, 13 September 2015 – This Sunday, 42 Ladies in White, accompanied by 21 activists from different political groups, walked down Havana’s Fifth Avenue, in the Miramar neighborhood. Finishing their usual route and subsequent meeting in Gandhi Park, next to Santa Rita Parish, the group was arrested by police and other plain-clothes forces, according to reports to 14ymedio by several eyewitnesses.

Together with the women from the human rights movement were other opposition figures such as Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and Antonio Gonzalez Rodiles from the opposition group Estado de Sats. The current whereabouts of those arrested is unknown, and their cell phones give the message “turned off or out of area.” However, the leader of UNPACU, Jose Daniel Ferrer, has been set free.

The Ladies in White had carried several banners demanding amnesty for political prisoners. A demand that has been the focus of attention for several opposition groups and that has gained strength before the upcoming visit by Pope Francis to the Island.

This week the Cuban government announced the pardon of 3,522 prisoners on the occasion of the Pontiff’s arrival in Cuba. Nevertheless, the opposition has criticized the fact that the list of pardoned prisoners does not include activists jailed for political reasons.

Elizardo Sanchez, who heads the National Human Rights and Reconciliation Commission, said in an interview with EFE that there are at least 60 people imprisoned “for political reasons or through politically conditioned proceedings.”

Translated by Mary Lou Keel

Chilean Congressman Among Those Arrested In The March Of The Ladies In White / 14ymedio

Chilean congressman Felipe Kast (center right) and Antonio Rodiles (center) marching together in Havana. (14ymedio)

Chilean congressman Felipe Kast (center right) and Antonio Rodiles (center) marching together in Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 6 September 2015 – This Sunday 49 Ladies in White and 15 activists marched along Fifth Avenue in Havana’s Miramar neighborhood, surrounded by a strong police operation. At the end of the pilgrimage they were arrested and sent in a bus to whereabouts unknown.

Among those detained was the Chilean member of congress Felipe Kast, from the EVOPOLI party, who accompanied the march. The incident happened hours after the Chilean Foreign Minister, Heraldo Muñoz, ended his official visit to Cuba along with a Chilean delegation made up of officials of the Chilean government, and representatives from 35 businesses and trade associations.

According to what a source close the Chilean congressman told 14ymedio, Kast was detained for several hours before being released, around 4:00 in the afternoon local time. One released he was taken to Jose Marti International Airport where he left for Santiago de Chile that same afternoon.

Beginning early in the morning, the dissident Martha Beatriz Roque warned of “a police deployment around Santa Rita Church.” The activist detailed that the “repressive forces” were positioned on 3rd, 7th and 31st streets, to block regme opponents from accessing the place.

Meanwhile, the regime opponent Angel Moya denounced that there had been 20 arrests of the Ladies and White and other activists, hours before the beginning of the Sunday march.

In the town of Colón, Matanzas, independent journalist Ivan Hernandez Carrillo reported that 10 Ladies in White marched “for the release of political prisoners, followed by plainclothes police,” with no arrests reported.

The Other Flag / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Secretary of State of the United States, John Kerry, in his Friday meeting with dissidents in Havana

Secretary of State of the United States, John Kerry, in his Friday meeting with dissidents in Havana

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 15 August 2015 — Six hours after the hoisting of the Stars and Stripes at the US embassy along the Malecon, a similar ceremony occurred on 150th Street in the Cubanacan neighborhood where the official residence of Jeffrey DeLaurentis, charge d’affaires of that country, is located.

All of the heads of the United States Interest Section have lived in this mansion in recent years, and there is a flagpole in its garden. Across from it, congregated hundreds of guests who did not physically fit in the small space where hours earlier American and Cuban officials had witnessed the symbolic act that opened the US embassy in Havana. Continue reading

US Expresses “Deep Concern” Over The Arrest Of Dissidents In Havana / 14ymedio

During the march of the Ladies in White on Sunday August 9, some demonstrators wore masks of Barack Obama. (Twitter /ForoDyL)

During the march of the Ladies in White on Sunday August 9, some demonstrators wore masks of Barack Obama. (Twitter /ForoDyL)

14ymedio biggerEFE, Washington 10 August 2015 — The US government on Monday expressed “deep concern” about the detention for some hours of about 90 dissidents in Cuba, including a group of members of the Ladies in White, and insisted that it will continue to work to ensure respect for the right to demonstrate in Cuba.

“We have seen the reports, and our staff at the embassy in Havana confirmed these arrests,” said John Kirby, spokesman for the State Department, in his daily briefing.

Kirby stressed the “deep concern” of the US government over these arrests. Continue reading