To the Government supporters: “You showed your trashy ways” / Rebeca Monzo

Image of the pro-government supporters taken from the Internet

Rebeca Monzo, 15 April 2105 — The 7th (of April) arrived.  The Summit of the Americas in Panama and, with it, the invited and participating delegations started to arrive in the Central American country.  The official Cuban delegation, one of the largest, had a good time organizing and preparing, under the optics of the totalitarian regime, making up a series of NGO officials, with the objective of making themselves look like the only Cuban civil society.

The inconceivable and unacceptable thing was to send characters well-known as loyal to the regime, pretending to make them pass as members of this civil society. Among them, just to mention the most known, was Dr. Eusebio Leal, the historian of Havana, Miguel Barnet, President of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) and Abel Prieto, Adviser to President Raul Castro who, along with many others chosen, lended themselves to serve as bullies in the famous meetings of repudiation against the Cuban opponents, real members of nascent civil society, insulting them and even sometimes, hitting them and preventing them from leaving through the front door of where they were staying, having to remove them safely from the hotel by the kitchen and the backyard of the property.

These acts, absolutely unacceptable, have set a terrible precedent in front of governments of other countries, the international press, who have remained amazed before similar acts of marginality, vulgarity, and lack of respect to the host country.  As my friend Mary would say: “They showed their trashy ways,” confirming with their deplorable attitude what the opposition from within the island has been condemning for years.

As  if these abuses of power were not sufficient, they have tried to monopolize Jose Marti, as if he doesn’t belong equally to all of those born on this battered island.

Translated by: BW

“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

The Latin-America I Acknowlege / Miriam Celaya

Latin American Youth for Democracy at the Summit of the Americas in Panama responding to Cuban government demonstrators trying to block the civil society forum

Latin American Youth for Democracy at the Summit of the Americas in Panama responding to Cuban government demonstrators trying to block the civil society forum

Miriam Celaya, 13 April, 2015 — The Americas Summit in Panama will remain in my memory in the form of many images. Six intense days, which, for better or worse, strengthened and delighted me, all things considered, for I had the privilege to witness to a historical event: the Cuban presence at the most important hemispheric gathering, to have the honor to participate in it as part of independent civil society on the Island.

I won’t repeat the unhappy episodes brought about by government groups disguised as civil society, led by Mr. Abel Prieto, former Minister of Culture and current adviser to the General-President, who undertook to prove, beyond all doubt, the reactionary and exclusionary nature of the regime they represented. Let this minutest amount of data infer what kind of “superior” culture includes the public (and offshore) show of rudeness and violence of the indoctrinated and blinded Castro pack against a differing opinion. Continue reading

The Ordeal of the Independent Journalist / Cubanet, Jorge Olivera Castillo

Ernesto Perez Chang, writer and journalist CubaNet (Internet photo)

Ernesto Perez Chang, writer and journalist CubaNet (Internet photo)

cubanet square logoCubanet, Jorge Olivera Castillo, Havana – The sensation that the Cuban regime is counting on a kind of blank check to carry out its abuses is increasingly apparent.

The monthly reports of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), which expose to the world the repressive actions of the political police against pro-democracy activists, are ignored by the majority of international organizations responsible for monitoring this topic, flashing past their computer screed and being archived as soon as they read the headlines.

It is logical, before the avalanche of events that anyone with a minimum of responsibility would classify as cruel, inhumane and degrading, without the intervention of censorship which contributes to its relevance. Month after month the arbitrary and violent arrests are repeated, the acts of repudiation that often include vandalism, and the drama of the political prisoners whose incarceration exposes them to a major dose of arbitrariness. The international interest in the face of these episodes is markedly declining, fortunately always with exceptions, which to some extent helps the issue from disappearing from some agendas.

A method within the scientific repression applied by the Ministry of the Interior in its effort to prevent the growth of protest movements, are its veiled threats, blackmail, and covert actions that end with the loss of a job, or the impediment to occupy a certain place, all lined up against the friends and family members of the “counterrevolutuionary.”

In this jurisdiction of State terrorism we now find the writer Ernesto Perez Chang who decided to inscribe himself on the roll of independent journalists. It is only the beginning of his ordeal. He knows it and assures that he will not go back on his decision. Something truly meritorious in the scenario that demands the complex and inexorable combination of talent and courage.

His work leaves no room for doubts. Along with his pedigree as an excellent storyteller, he has exhibited in his still short journey in the unofficial press, his gifts for reporting and background. Without pretensions of turning myself into the bird of ill omen, nor to assume pedagogical poses, I would suggest not underestimating the capacity of the common adversary to do him harm, with its lack of scruples and determination to take the most misconceived reprisals.

I say is with knowledge of the cause. In the blink of an eye, I was arrested on 18 March 2003 and one month later I was sentenced to 18 years in prison for writing outside the established lines. It is often alleged that times have changed, but the criminal nature of the Power has not. Prison may be used as a last resort corrective, but the manual of the G-2 political police agents overflows with “persuasive” tactics.

Before concluding I reiterate my support for a colleague who had the courage to jump the barriers of fear and censorship. It doesn’t matter when he did it, what matters is that we are sharing a necessary and enriching and spiritual experience. Hopefully other government writers will decide to take off their masks and start to publish in the pages available to them to write with objectivity and transparency. That have nothing to do with obeisance to illegitimate and excluding Powers.

A Tragedy in Several Acts / Reinaldo Escobar

Figure dedicated to Fe del Valle in the park of the same name in Havana. (14ymedio)

Figure dedicated to Fe del Valle in the park of the same name in Havana. (14ymedio)

Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 14 April 2015 — Like every April 13, last Monday a group of Trade Union workers met with the task of carrying a bouquet of flowers to a marble statue. It is a figure dedicated to Fe del Valle in the Havana park of the same name and located at the central corner of Galiano and San Rafael. The site usually supplies the absence of public toilets in the area and the sculpture has both hands mutilated.

In this space was one of the most exclusive Havana stores, El Encanto, with branches in Varadero, Havana and Santiago de Cuba. Founded in the early twentieth century by Solis, Entrialgo and Company, S.A. was one of the first properties nationalized after the revolutionary process. Continue reading

Speaking of Legitimacy / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Dámaso, 8 April 2105 — The claim that governmental organizations and associations are the sole representatives of Cuban civil society to the exclusion of all others not legally recognized by the authorities figures prominently in public statements and actions by leaders and officials of the regime and is a frequent topic in articles by academics and some official journalists.

Government leaders and officials simply state it. Academics try to provide a rationale for it while journalists generally disparage, accuse and repeat tired slogans.

The idea that “civil society has advanced beyond the primitive stage to the point that it is organized to serve political ends, with the state directing and regulating it,” is not only absurd, it amounts to blatant manipulation. Continue reading

Summit of the Americas: Inconsequential to the Average Cuban / Ivan Garcia

Source: Cubanet

Ivan Garcia, 9 April 2015 — After the Sunday hangover drinking beer with various friends, Jose Pablo reluctantly tends to his stall where he sells pirated CDs with Hollywood films and Mexican and Colombian narco-novelas. At his stand you can find 2015 Oscar winners and in a worn black backpack, a collection of national and foreign pornography.

Jose Pablo is a talkative type. But when you ask him what benefits the upcoming Summit of the Americas, to be held in Panama April 10-11, would bring, with a sneer he responds, “Nothing. All these summits, be they Latin American, or CELAC, are more of the same. Speeches full of promises that in the end resolve nothing. It’s all rhetoric. It is an unnecessary waste of money. Continue reading

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

tuit-Guillermo-Farinas_CYMIMA20150413_0008_13

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.

It’s not my fault either / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Raul Castro during his speech at the Summit of the Americas (EFE Señal Instucional)

Raul Castro during his speech at the Summit of the Americas (EFE Señal Instucional)

14ymedio bigger

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Panama, 12 April 2015 — During the Summit of the Americas, when Raul Castro said Barack Obama was not at fault for the decisions taken by the ten presidents that preceded him, confusion overcame me and it’s no wonder.

Upon hearing that speech, delivered in front of more than thirty leaders meeting in Panama, it became even harder for me to understand why the gallant members of the pro Cuban government “civil society” who came to this city continued to label as assassins the activists, dissidents and independent representations who came to participate in forums parallel to the historic event.

If Obama is not guilty of what happened at the Bay of Pigs, nor the logistics support to the anti-Revolution rebels of the Escambray; if he is not responsible for the creation of Radio Martí, nor the Cuban Adjustment Act… nor even for the implementation of the embargo, then, what guilt is it that they want to foist on the activists defending human rights?

Now, that the general-president has already absolved the dignitary of the country that official propaganda sees as “the enemy,” it is worth asking why his supporters accuse of events that happened decades ago those, who organize opposition parties, or engage in library projects or independent journalism with the sole purpose of proposing a country different from that outlined in the guidelines of the Sixth Communist Party Summit.

When the horrendous sabotage occurred to the Cuban plane coming from the Barbados, Guillermo Fariñas was engaged in or preparing for an international mission in Africa. At the moment when they shot the prisoner Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Bolivia, neither Eliécer Ávila nor Henry Constantin had been born. It would be like blaming Abel Prieto for the firing squads, the forced relocation of the farmers from the center of the country to captive villages, the atrocities of the Revolutionary Offensive, the disaster of the 1970 sugar harvest, the “Five Gray Years” and so many other things.

When I mention Abel Prieto I could include the names of almost the entire delegation whose tickets and lodging were paid for by the Cuban government. Are they aware that when you accuse others of a past in which they didn’t exist nor make decisions, you will also be evaluated in the same light? Are they prepared to take on all the atrocities committed by their predecessors?

The Panamanians, however, gave us a clear example of this positive attitude during the summit, an attitude that is summed up by looking more to the future than the past. I would like to believe that Raul Castro is not responsible for anything… although the evidence points in the other direction.

Perhaps the time has come when we should concern ourselves more with solutions than with blame.

I know many compatriots, who totally within their rights, will not agree with me, especially since there are wounds impossible to heal and grievances difficult to forget. If I had to vote on it, I would raise my hand in favor of their retiring in peace. Their penance, their worst punishment, will be to watch us construct a nation without hatred nor rancor. Once again Cubans, everyone, at the same fiesta.

Ask the People / Rosa Maria Paya

A butcher shop in Havana. (Source)

A butcher shop in Havana with a photo of Fidel. (Source  Enrique de la Osa, Reuters)

El Mundo, Rosa Maria Paya Acevedo, 12 April 2015 – Although the current Summit of the Americas in Panama has been a blackboard where the peoples of the Americas have been forced – once again – to choke on the barbarian mouthful of that old subject that is Cuban totalitarianism, hope is renewed by the attitude of consistency and solidarity assumed by the diverse civil society of the Americas.

Today in Cuba a self-transition from Power to Power is being cooked up, which tries to ignore the will of the Cuban people and its exile, while enthroning the military elite after a masquerade of reforms which decriminalize certain economic concessions but continue to hijack all the rights of the citizenry.

Since landing in the sister nation of Panama, I have re-experienced firsthand repression in the style of the Cuban regime. The sincere apologies of the Panamanian Foreign Ministry lose force in the face of all the abuses it allowed to take place against the independent civil society of Cuba and all of the Americas. Continue reading

Cuba-USA: Enthusiasm Has Been Waning / Ivan Garcia

habana-bicitaxi2-_mn-620x330Ivan Garcia, 28 March 2015 – It feels like a lot of time has gone by since noon on December 17 when Rogelio Horta’s family sat dumbfounded in front of the television listening to Raul Castro announce that Cuba and the United States would reestablish diplomatic relations.

Everything seemed perfect. There would be improved telecommunications and internet. Self-employed workers and cooperatives would have access to credit. If differences between the two countries were patched up, the economic situation would improve. But as time passed, people’s expectations changed,” admits Rogelio, the owner of a cafe southwest of Havana.

Three months after the newsflash, the feeling among average Cubans is that the new developments will not significantly change their lives. Continue reading