A Question for Roberta Jacobson / 14ymedio, Clive Rudd Fernandez

Roberta Jacobson (From  Marti-Noticias)

Roberta Jacobson (From Marti-Noticias)

14ymedio, Clive Rudd Fernandez, 22 January 2015 — In July of last year, when I talked to some of the victims of the “Marzo de 13” Tugboat massacre in the Bay of Havana, I found a list of horrifying statistics.

Two of them would make any halfway decent human being shudder: the bodies recovered from the sea as a result of the sinking of the boat were never returned to the families, and there was never an independent investigation into the massacre in which 41 Cubans lost their lives. Ten of them were minors.

What was so shocking about these events was not just the impunity of those who perpetrated the atrocity on Cuban soil, but that what happened on 13 July 1994 is a pattern that has been repeated almost since the Revolutionary government took power in 1959. Continue reading

OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA from Rosa Maria Paya Acevedo

See below for translation

OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

from Rosa Maria Paya Acevedo
Rosa María Payá Acevedo is a member of the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement.

Mr. Barack Obama
President of the United States of America

I am writing to you because I assume that goodwill inspired your decision to change U.S. policy toward my country.

I appeal to this goodwill, notwithstanding your decision to review Cuba’s place on the list of countries that sponsor terrorism despite the Cuban government’s attempt, just a year ago, to smuggle tons of weapons in a North Korean ship through the Panama Canal. And despite Cuban state security provoking the 2012 car crash that took the life of my father,Oswaldo Payá, one of Cuba’s best-known dissidents who represented the alternative to the regime, and his young associate Harold Cepero. And even though the Cuban government refuses to allow an investigation and has not given even a copy of the autopsy report to my family.

The Cuban regime has decided it needs to change its image, so it will relax its grip in some areas while it remains in power. It has discovered that it can allow more Cubans to enter and leave the country and that some people can create a timbiriche (a very small business), but the Cuban government still decides who can travel and who can open a small business. Mr. President, your laws are not what is preventing the free market and access to information in Cuba; it is the Cuban government’s legislation and its constant censorship.

We agree, Mr. President, that you cannot “keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect different results.”

But there is nothing new in treating as “normal” the illegitimate government in Havana, which has never been elected by its citizens and has been practicing state murder with impunity. That strategy already has been done by all the other governments without positive consequences for democracy in my country.

What would be new would be a real commitment to the Cuban people, with concrete actions supporting citizens’ demands. We don’t need interventionist tactics but rather backing for solutions that we Cubans have created ourselves.

For 55 years, the only free, legal and popular demand from Cubans has been a call for a referendum on self-government, the Varela Project. We want changes in the law that will guarantee freedom of expression and association, the release of political prisoners, the right to own private enterprises, and free and plural elections.

You asked in your historic speech : How can we uphold that commitment, the commitment to freedom?

I take you at your word, Mr. President. The answer to you and to all the world’s democratic governments is: Support the implementation of a plebiscite for free and pluralistic elections in Cuba; and support citizen participation in the democratic process, the only thing that will guarantee the end of totalitarianism in Cuba.

My father used to say, “Dialogues between the elites are not the space of the people.” The totalitarianism of the 21st century — which interferes in the internal affairs of many countries in the region and promotes undemocratic practices in countries such as Venezuela — will sit at the table next to the hemisphere’s democracies. I hope censorship doesn’t come to that table as well and that we Cubans, whom you so far have excluded from this process, can have a place in future negotiations.

We expect your administration, the Vatican and Canada to support our demands with the same intensity and goodwill with which you supported this process of rapprochement with the Cuban government. Human rights are the foundation of democracy, and we expect you to support the right of Cubans to decide their future.

We ask you to support an independent investigation into the attack that caused the deaths of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.

We do not want symbolic solidarity. We do not want to participate only in the parallel forum to the next Summit of the Americas. The chair that will be occupied by the Cuban government is not the chair of the people, because the Cuban government does not represent Cuba’s citizens. That’s why we need to be present at the main summit, so that the demands of Cuban citizens are heard and empowered by the regional democracies.

Mr. President, dare now, after quoting our José Martí, to put into practice the honesty that a free Cuba deserves, “with all and for the good of all.”

God bless our countries.

Merry Christmas to you and your family,

Rosa María Payá Acevedo

================

Posted in the blog of Orlando Luis Pardo Laz0
19 December 2014

Translation of posters:

First poster: The hand is making an “L” for Libertad: Freedom

Second poster:

For life, for truth, for the future.

Rosa MaríaPayá and her family are at risk for demanding of the Cuban State an independent investigation to clarify the circumstances of the violent deaths of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepera. We will not abandon this Cuban family now, in the face of the lies of a fifty-year government accustomed to working in secrecy and with total impunity.

A government without a future detests that its citizens have a future.

Project Varela / Rolando Pulido and Rosa Maria Paya

Poster by Rolando Pulido

Poster by Rolando Pulido

But Cubans are tired, Cubans want changes. More than ten years ago, more than 25,000 Cubans proposed a project of legal reform called the Varela Project, to hold a plebiscite and ask the people whether or not they want free elections. The Cuban constitution establishes that if more tan 10,000 people support a legal proposal, then under the constitution the government if obligated to respond.” Rosa Maria Payá

Cubans Want Changes / Rosa Maria Paya, Rolando Pulido

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“But Cubans are tired, Cubans want changes. More than 10 years ago, more than 25,000 Cubans supported a project of legal reform, called the Varela Project, to hold a plebiscite and ask the people whether or not they wanted free elections. The Cuban Constitution establishes that if more than 10,000 people support a legal proposal, thed the government is obliged by the constitution to respond.”

Rosa María Payá

Poster by Rolando Pulido

 

Rosa Maria Paya Speaking to UN Watch / Rosa Maria Paya


Remarks of human rights advocate Rosa Maria Payá on why Cuba should not be elected to the UN Rights Council, delivered at UN headquarters on November 4, 2013, at a press conference organized by UN Watch and the Human Rights Foundation.

Transcript:

On September 20, the Cuban government declared, in the Human Rights Council, that they would not allow democracy in my country. They reject democratic values, and they pretend to redefine them with twisted principles, in order to remain in power forever.

The Cuban mission declined all recommendations to stop political apartheid, and to ensure fundamental freedoms, among many rights requested by the Cuban people from the government.

My father Oswaldo Payá is the founder of the  Christian Liberation Movement [MCL]. He won the Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament, and he struggled peacefully for the recognition, in law and practice, of the right of all Cubans to have rights. He promoted a referendum known as the Varela Project, which has the support of more than 25,000 citizens, more than the number requested by our Constitution. Ten years later, the Cuban government still refuses to answer this citizen call for a plebiscite, violating its own Constitution.

My father died last year, and it is known that cars from the Cuban State Security were chasing him, and that his car was pushed out of the highway. World leaders have demanded an independent investigation after the contradictory version given by the Cuban government, whose UN mission refused to allow this investigation, as requested during the last UPR.

How come the Cuban government belongs to the Human Rights Council, when they systematically abuse those who demand real changes, when they do not allow any investigation of extrajudicial crimes in which they could be involved?

When they abolished university autonomy, religious freedoms, freedom of movement, association and publication, while they took control of all mass media, in a nation where the most part of the people do not know Internet because it is not a right?

When they don´t respect property rights, nor the right to a free economy, only to promote now a fake reform that doesn´t guarantee the rights of Cuban workers, nor even the rights of the foreign investors?

How come the Cuban government is in the Human Rights Council, when their leaders transfer power dynastically, when during the last 64 years there have never been free elections in Cuba, they have never been subject to an effective popular vote, thus being illegitimate to represent us?

When they mock of the international community as they present themselves as victims before UN, while they traffic tons of weapons and explosives in a civil ship, violating UN´s resolutions about North Korea, and endangering many lives?

When they are the same military that shot thousands of Cubans from the beginning of the Revolution, who promoted armed movements in Latin America, who sank at sea the tug-boat “13 de Marzo” loaded with women and children, who murdered four civil pilots of the “Brothers to the Rescue” organization in international water, who imprisoned and deported most of the Varela Project leaders, who mistreat the activists of the Ladies in White movement, who have been in prison the young Yosvani Melchor for over 3 years just for being the child of an active member of the MCL, who threatened to death my father, my family, the members of the Christian Liberation Movement and many other dissident leaders, who split apart most of the Cuban families with their intolerance?

How can they belong to the Human Rights Council, when it´s the Cuba government the one that kidnap our nation’s sovereignty?

The presence in the Human Rights Council of the Chinese, the Russian, the Saudi and the Cuban regimes, is disappointing for the victims of repression, and it sends a message of complicity from the international community. Cubans know that we are responsible to lead our country towards a democratic transition, but this is a time for solidarity, and democratic governments should not share seats with criminals, which behave with impunity, since they are not suffering any consequence for their violations.

These are defining moments for my nation. It’s time to pressure the Cuban government to behave democratically, or, in defect, not to elect Cuba for the Human Rights Council, in order to preserve the legitimacy of United Nations.

Against democracy there are many economic and political interests, including those who defend a supposed stability, over a real peace based on universal rights. It is difficult to ignore lobbies and the power behind lobbies. But, to defend the values ​​for which it was created, the Human Rights Council has two choices: 1) to ignore that the sovereignty of the Cuban people is kidnapped; or 2) to defend the values ​​that are the basis of United Nations, claiming respect for the democratic demands of all Cubans, therefore defending citizen rights in all nations.

God help us all.

Thank you very much.

The Truth in the Gaze / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Poster: Rolando Pulido

Luis Leonel León: The Black Eyes of Rosa María Payá

From El Nuevo Herald

The magazine “People en Español” chose her as one of the 25 most powerful Latin women. On a list that includes Jennifer López, Sofía Vergara, Kate del Castillo, Lupita Jones, Paulina Rubio, Doctor Polo and other celebrities across the entertainment industry, this young woman stands out. She doesn’t design jewelry, isn’t a business woman,  doesn’t star in reality television, nor does she scream or cry in soap operas. On the contrary, she contains her immense tears that television would love to scoop up. Many have tried, from Bayly to María Elvira, but she keeps her black eyes still, shaking from within. They only cry in private. And that may be their greatest power.

Paradox of fate, her image became popular for a terrible event that marked her life and her gaze, perhaps forever: on July 22nd her father, Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, and his colleague Harold Cepero, lost their lives on a lonely rural road.

The Cuban authorities say that it was a “traffic accident,” where these two Cubans died and the two foreigners that accompanied them were saved: Swedish politician Jens Aron Modig (who was asleep at the time of impact and then lived eight days of Kafkaesque prison in Havana) and the Spaniard Angel Carromero (who in Cuba was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and who in his own country demanded an international inquiry into what her considers a State crime).

The two foreigners were isolated and coerced by the State Security. There are witnesses who saw these four people enter the hospital alive, but the only “investigations” permitted are those of the same dictatorship that more than once threatened to kill Payá, whose version is validated by the Spanish government. Rosa María, like many others, we are convinced that it was a shadowy operation still pending, like so many other manufactured horrors, for the Castro government will never admit the answer.

For many, Payá was a prominent international figure of dissent on the island. Founder of the Varela Project, he is to date the only man who has gathered thousands of signatures from Cubans (with names and identity numbers) requesting an opposition to the dictatorship.

Never in 54 years, has anyone gone so far in a peaceful confrontation to totalitarianism, to the point that the island autocracy was forced to change its constitution, to contain the purpose of the signatures with not only manipulations and state terror, but also with chains legislated to force people to vote for the irony of a single party, damaging free elections, Payá and his followers still claim, risking everything, even death.

No wonder he won the European Parliament’s Andrei Sakharov Human Rights Prize in 2002 and was an official candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize several times. The official version crumbles before the darkness of the facts and background, as an answer blowing in the wind: it was eliminated because it would not agree with the false reforms that the Cuban government sells the world and its own citizens, cementing the power of new leaders with consumer checkbooks fattened on behalf of that hypocritical melodrama called socialism.

Despite daily violations of the most elementary freedoms, Cuba has once again joined the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Rosa Maria Payá has not stopped speaking before this or other international forums to denounce the reality, to ask for help to speed up democracy and to ask for a serious investigation that would show the true reason for the death of her father and her friend Harold.

Also under death threat by the agents of the regime,  for some months she has lived in Florida with her mother.  As a good daughter and tenacious disciple, she continues fighting for the holding of a plebiscite that would provide the basis for authentic democracy in Cuba.

Opposing the great hoax called “cosmetic change” which will make the leaders of the Communist Party (or whatever they come up with) legally richer, while making  poorer those who asphyxiate every day and that luckily are losing their fear of protesting publicly in the streets.  For many this is a chimera.  For her it is a desire. Her faith. Another inheritance from her father.

Thanks to People the image of this 24-year-old Cuban (the youngest on the list) is repeated in news and signs, newspapers and social media along with other popular Latinas, powerful (even millionaires), talented and beautiful.  Her message, unknown to millions, will be transmitted through other channels a lot more popular to keep attempting to break the blindfold that has covered the eyes of a people for more than half of century, and also the eyes of a good portion of the world.

Neither sad, nor happy, it is Rosa Maria who looks at us from this snapshot by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, taken in Lawton, Havana, a few months after her father’s death.  The collapsing building where she appears, between reality and a metaphor: the wall of Cuba.

And her black eyes, deep and sincere, through which we can see the horror and the hope, the persistence and the tenderness, and that reward with another nuance, this kind of almanac of successful women. Vagaries of fate. From there, again overcoming again the invading eye of the press, she sustains her fixed look at the kidnapped island.

Translated by: Boston College Cuban American Student Association (CASA) and LYD

15 November 2013

Rosa Maria Paya Speaks at the United Nations About a Seat for Cuba on the Human Rights Council / Luis Leonel Leon

RMPAYA21Despite daily violations of the most elementary freedoms, Cuba has once again managed to join the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Rosa Maria Paya has continued to present herself before this and other international forums to denounce the reality, request support to foster democracy, and ask for a serious investigation to reveals the real reason for the death of her father and her friend Harold Cepera.

Cuban officials say that these two Cubans died in a “traffic accident,” though the two foreigners who accompanied them lived: the Swedish politician Jens Aron Modig (who was asleep at the time of impact and who then lived eight days of Kafkaesque detention in Havana ) and the Spanish Angel Carromero (who was convicted in Cuba of involuntary manslaughter, and who from his own country is demanding an international inquiry into what he considers a State Crime).

The two foreigners were isolated and coerced by the State Security. There are witnesses who saw these 4 people enter the hospital alive, but the only “investigation” allowed was undertaken by the dictatorship itself, which more than once had threatened to kill Paya, and whose version the Spanish government validates. Rosa Maria, and many others of us, are convinced that a shadowy operation was still waiting, like so many other manufactured horrors, for the answer will never be admitted by the Castro government .

I share this video of Rosa Maria Paya at the UN against the complicity of this organism with the dictatorship:

ROSA MARÍA PAYÁ OF CUBA FOR THE FUTURE / ORLANDO LUIS PARDO LAZO

See translation below

See translation below

For Life, For the Truth, For the Future.

Rosa María Payá and her family are taking a risk in demanding from the Cuban State an investigation that clarifies the circumstances of the violent deaths of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.

We mustn’t abandon this Cuban family now, before the slanders of a fifty-year-old government accustomed to working in secret and with total impunity.

A GOVERNMENT WITHOUT A FUTURE DETESTS THAT ITS CITIZENS HAVE A FUTURE.

Categories of Human Beings / Rosa Maria Paya

Where are the documentaries about the Bahamian concentration camps where there are school-age children and women with their lips sewn shut?

It has been a few weeks since South Florida’s media and social networks have been denouncing the systematic abuses to which refugees from Cuba and other nations are subjected in the Bahamas. The trigger was a series of clandestinely made cellphone videos that showed officers kicking people and subjecting them to different tortures. Those who made the videos public assure these were taken in the refugee detention camps in Nassau, and even when people have recognized their friends and relatives in the videos, the Bahamian Chancellery has denied that these are authentic.

These detention centers seem to be the scene of systematic human rights violations, but they are not a new phenomenon. The oldest data I know of refers to the New York Times of August, 1963, which discusses the intervention of Cuban air and naval forces in the former British island during which 19 refugees were kidnapped and taken back to Cuba. But even more astonishing is the reaction of the international community before a situation that has been taking place for years, and for which there are not many echoes beyond the modest ones from the voices of Cubans and Cuban Americans.

In the past 20 years, there is no trace of these events in two of the most important American newspapers, even when the Interamerican Human Rights Commission (IACHR) has issued reports thereon from allegations dating from 1998. For its part, the Spanish newspaper El País lists the names of the two Caribbean islands when it comes to hurricanes while other Iberian newspapers only mention them to highlight the progress of the oil drilling carried out in collaboration with Cuba.

The reaction is different when it comes to the equally unjust humiliations suffered by the prisoners at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo. The acts of condemnation in this case reach high political dimensions including the Human Rights Commission of the Russian Chancellery, the Swiss President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations, the American Catholic Church, some leftist French party and thousands, perhaps millions of people from around the word who are in favor of the closing of this prison in the easternmost end of Cuba.

However, curiously enough, in that very end of my country the Provincial Prison of Guantánamo, run by Cuban authorities, is known for its inhumane treatment, the lack of hygiene, a poor diet and occasional beatings to which the people who are surviving there are subjected to. Most of the country’s prisons are run in similar conditions.

It would seem as if the men in orange uniforms held at the naval base belonged to a different category from that of the non-uniformed emigrants of the Caribbean. One hypothesis could be that the people of the Middle East evoke greater sympathy or compassion than the Caribbean people, but since it is precisely in that region where countless human rights violations have been committed in the past and continue to be committed to this day by the authorities of those countries, and the international condemnation has historically suffered its ups and downs, this argument doesn’t hold water. It would be scandalous if the level of the scandal was related to the category of the oppressors.

It is not the US Marines who are torturing Cubans and Haitians in the Bahamas; it is not “the Yankee empire” against “the oppressed people of the world.” Therefore, the perception is that the abuses committed by the authorities of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas are less attractive to the international community.

I cannot help questioning the motivations of the forces behind these reactions. If it is not compassion for those who are suffering, a sense of justice and respect for international treaties, could it be that the level of solidarity is determined by the unpopularity of the oppressor? Doesn’t the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaim that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights? A world in which lobbies have the last say and pressure groups have more interests than convictions is scary.

Who is lobbying for our brothers whose rights are violated with the same impunity in Havana and Nassau? Where are the documentaries about the Bahamian concentration camps where there are school-age children and women with their lips sewn shut? Where is the absolute condemnation for the humiliations that these people who emigrate suffer from, which are not subjected to any accusations? Why throughout the 20 years this situation has been taking place has it not become popular among youth to favor the closure of the prison camps in the Bahamas?

Apparently, the sense of impunity is contagious, and the Bahamian officials feel they can beat Cubans in the same way in which the repressive bodies of the State Security in the Largest of the Antilles have no mercy toward opposition members. Each of them should know that impunity is not sustainable over time, and that time is running out.

Rosa María Payá

Translated by Chabeli

6 July 2013