Memorial service for Castro’s victims held in Miami

Via Local 10 News:

Hundreds gather to honor those who’ve died fleeing Cuba

Service held at Cuban Memorial at Tamiami Park

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A memorial serves was held Sunday in Tamiami Park to remember the people who have died fleeing Cuba.

Hundreds gathered in front of the Cuban Memorial for the event, which was hosted by Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez.

Several speakers who have lost loves ones who tried to flee the communist Caribbean island spoke during the event.

“We look at this like it was a memorial but in reality, the way I look at it, it’s like it was a cemetery,” Martinez said. “The only difference is the body isn’t here. But their spirit is. You see people coming (here), not just on days like this, but throughout the year and they look for the name of that loved one. The one that they never saw, maybe for 20 years and then found out they were dead. ”

Martinez said he hopes that the younger generation of Cubans will make an effort to support the memorial because it represents more than just the past but also the future.

“I saw very few children here and what happens when we are gone?” Martinez said.

Lillian Salaya said she makes sure her children know about their Cuban heritage.

“My stepdad was actually one of the political prisoners. He was arrested when he was 17 years old and served his whole childhood in prison where they would stick him in drawers,” she said.

She said it’s important to remember those who have lost their lives fleeing Cuba.

“I have four children and I talk to them about it,” Salaya said. “I try to give them instruction on everything that’s happened so it’s not forgotten.”

An encouraging signal from Havana’s Archbishop

There is hope that after Archbishop Juan de la Caridad García’s meeting with representatives of the Ladies in White, that he will usher in a new era of tolerance by speaking out against the injustices committed by the regime against the Cuban people.

Via Diario de Cuba:

Editorial: The Catholic Church takes a good step

   OPINION Editorial: The Catholic Church takes a good step DDC | Madrid | 20 de Febrero de 2017 - 09:41 CET. | 0 Archivado enCuba Damas de Blanco Derechos Humanos Editorial Iglesia Católica Juan de la Caridad García Facebook logo Twitter logo Google+ logo LinkedIn logo The Archbishop of Havana, Juan de la Caridad Garcia.
The Archbishop of Havana, Juan de la Caridad Garcia.

Ever since the trip to Cuba taken by Pope John Paul II, the Cuban Catholic Church’s dedication to the defense of human rights has clearly been insufficient. Understandably, some have come to describe this failure as constituting collusion with the dictatorship, especially during the years and years under Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, who decided to advance the Church’s position on the Island at the expense of not denouncing the social, political and economic crisis induced by the dictatorship. Ortega Alamino even went so far as to deny the existence of political prisoners in Cuba, and to serve as a spokesman for the regime in various international forums.

While Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Cuba yielded few advances in the struggle for human rights, that by Pope Francis was downright regrettable, with the pontiff solely focused on repairing relations between Cuba and the US, without even acknowledging the main problems haunting the country: the lack of freedom and permanent violations of human rights.

On Wednesday, however, the current Archbishop of Havana, Juan de la Caridad Garcia, received representatives of the Ladies in White and spoke with them, thereby sending an encouraging signal.

Hopefully this dialogue will help to lessen the harassment this group of women regularly receives from civil society, and the Catholic Church, without renouncing its ecclesiastical work and promotion of the faith, will speak out regarding the injustices suffered by the Cuban people at the regime’s hands.

The trail blazed by Archbishop Juan de la Caridad García must be trod again in the near future, for the sake of the Catholic Church, and for the good of the Cuban people, both believers and nonbelievers.

Individual freedoms are essential to living meaningful lives

We’ve often heard, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In his latest Commentary, Dr. Jose Azel looks at the similarities between the “Autonomists” of 19th century Cuba, and those of today who believe in engagement and accommodation, willing to accept a gradual change rather than abolishing Cuba’s totalitarian system. He rightly concludes that Cuban communism must be abolished.

Issue 62 via The Azel Perspective:

Cuba’s New “Autonomists” of the XXI Century

In the second half of the XIX Century, during the inter-war period between Cuba’s Ten Years’ War (1868) and its War of Independence

José Azel, Ph.D.
José Azel, Ph.D.
(1895), a reformist political movement emerged in Cuba under the rubric of Autonomismo.

Frustrated by the failure of the Ten Years’ War, and convinced that no other viable options were available, some Cuban intellectuals and businessmen sought to obtain a greater degree of political and economic autonomy from Spain while remaining under its rule. They were encouraged by a measure of tolerance shown by the then Spanish Captain General of Cuba, General Martínez Campos.

Some Autonomistas believed that Cubans would be better off as Spanish citizens, but with a greater degree of economic autonomy. Others Autonomistas held that partial reformism was a better alternative to a prolonged struggle for independence from Spain. In any case, they postulated that Autonomismo was not incompatible with Spanish sovereignty and sought to gain political “space” from the Crown.

Although the political stance and ideological elitism of the autonomists disturbed José Marti, who championed Cuba’s full independence from Spain, autonomists were not traitors or anti-nationalists. Some were former independentists who had fought bravely in the Ten Years’ War but were now convinced that times had changed and a new strategy was needed to fight Spanish colonialism.

Fast forward some 140 years and we find nowadays a similar divide in the Cuban nation. The label autonomist no longer applies, but the contemporary approaches to Cuba’s future correspond with those of the XIX Century.

The “neo-autonomists” of today, both in and out of the Island support gradual change that does not alter the command and control structure of Cuba’s totalitarian system. They view the minimalist economic reforms introduced by General Raúl Castro with the same sense of encouragement that the Autonomistas attached to General Martinez Campos’ apparent forbearance. Some seek to “actualize” the communist system; others see the purported reforms as political space or a strategic opportunity to undermine Cuba’s totalitarianism over the long-term. Not unlike the frustrated ethos that permeated the Cuban nation following the inconclusive Ten Years’ War, “neo-autonomists” perceive gradual reformism as the only viable course after nearly sixty years of communist rule and many failed efforts to overthrow the dictatorship.

Also not unlike the Autonomistas of the XIX Century, they will also eventually realize that the Castro government, like the Spanish Crown, has no intention of allowing legitimate reforms that will undermine its totalitarian rule. One of the lessons we have learned in the study of totalitarian systems throughout the world is that such systems do not generate truthful or useful knowledge regarding the causes of their own malfunction. Thus totalitarian systems are ontologically incapable of reforming themselves. Simply put, Cuban communism is not reformable. It must be abolished.

A defining feature of the Cuban experience under totalitarian rule is that of an intrusive state whose elites have used pervasive repression to atomize society. This process has eliminated political competition, destroyed economic performance and rendered civil society weak and ineffective debilitated by a miasma of fear.

Initiatives which do not empower society, leave the hegemonic political system untouched, and seek exclusively to alter official policies to improve economic conditions are contrary to democratic values. This is essentially what the Autonomistas sought in the XIX Century and what their modern day counterparts pursue today.

The “neo-autonomists,” as their predecessors, believe that economic progress is an essential antecedent to civic empowerment and must come first; popular sovereignty is not a priority. Central to their argument is that change should originate with an enlightened autocratic government and not with the will of the people.

The democratic counterargument is that civic empowerment is the foundation of progress and its necessary precondition. These divergent approaches may seem to differ only in the sequencing and prioritizing of polices. However, the differences are philosophically fundamental. The eradication of personal freedoms is incompatible with human dignity and the pursuit of happiness.

The contemporary Autonomistas look to economic measures undertaken by General Castro without democratic empowerment as useful to foster prosperity. This belief embodies the elitist and despotic notion that the “special knowledge” of the few should rule the activities of the many. This conviction is particularly noxious to Cuba’s future, because democracy will fail everywhere when there is no appreciation for its decisive role in good governance.

The citizenry empowerment camp values individual freedoms as essential to living meaningful lives. They do not consider political rights and civil liberties as superfluous luxuries to be perhaps appended following a program of economic reforms. As Nobel Prize laureate Indian economist Amartya Sen has noted, “People in economic need also need a political voice.”

Cuba’s Ladies In White Report 50 Arrests This Sunday

For the 89th Sunday in a row, members of the Las Damas de Blanco were denied their universal rights, beaten, and at least 50 members of the group were arrested.

14ymedio in Translating Cuba:

Cuba’s Ladies In White Report 50 Arrests This Sunday

A member of the opposition group Ladies in White is arrested on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, during a street demonstration in Havana. (EFE / Ernesto Mastrascusa)
A member of the opposition group Ladies in White is arrested on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, during a street demonstration in Havana. (EFE / Ernesto Mastrascusa)

14ymedio, Havana, 19 February 2017 — Some fifty Ladies in White were detained this Sunday on the Island, according to members of that dissident organization.

Former political prisoner and regime opponent Angel Moya told 14ymedio by phone that Berta Soler had been arrested by members of a State Security operation and the police surrounding her Lawton house. The incident happened shortly after three in the afternoon on Sunday, when Soler left the movement’s site in the company of the Lady in White Danaysi Munoz.

Moya added that in Havana the Ladies in White Yordanka Santana and Norma Cruz were “abandoned to their fate*” on the ExpoCuba and Cotorro highways respectively, after being released. According to the same source, as of 6:00 in the evening 23 Ladies in White had been arrested in the capital, although that number could be increased by some “who still haven’t called in.”

A Lady in White protesting this Sunday in Havana. (Courtesy)
A Lady in White protesting this Sunday in Havana. (Courtesy)

Moya also reported on a Lady in White detained in Bayamo and eight in Palma Soriano, while in Matanzas there were 22. In that locality Leticia Ramos and Marisol Fernandez were arrested twice in a single day and he said that the whereabouts of both women was still unknown.

The opponent also reported that from the province of Ciego te Avila Lucia Lopez complained that she was “beaten at the time of her arrest” by State Security agents and “stripped of her blouse and bra before being released,” in a “clear act of indignity,” said Moya.

Lucía Lopez was “beaten at the time of her arrest” by agents of the State Security and “stripped of her blouse and bra”

Meanwhile, Iván Hernández Carrillo reported from his Twitter account of the arrest in the city of Cárdenas of Odalis Hernandez, Hortensia Alfonso, Cira de la Vega and Mercedes de la Guardia. Likewise, from Columbus the activist denounced the arrest of his mother Asunción Carrillo and Caridad Burunate when they were on their way to the church.

At two o’clock on Sunday afternoon, minutes before being detained, the leader of the Ladies in White women’s movement, Berta Soler, informed the media that there were already more than twenty detained in Havana to “prevent them from reaching the site.” She mentioned that two of them were “released on the road to Pinar del Rio*,” despite living in the capital. “Since last Wednesday morning there has been a constant [State Security and Police] operation outside,” the organization’s headquarters.

She also mentioned the particular case of Berta Lucrecia Martínez, who was detained at noon hours after a solo protest in Calabazar Park. According to the information that Soler has received, the activist stood for “more than 35 minutes” with a poster regarding Human Rights and shouting anti-government slogans.

“Last year 9,940 arbitrary detentions were recorded, a figure that “places the Government of Cuba in the first place in all Latin America”

Lucrecia Martinez is one of the Ladies in White who has repeatedly been prevented from attending Sunday Mass or reaching the headquarters of his organization. Until the moment of not knowing the place to where it was led by the police patrol that stopped it.

Calabazar park is a very busy wifi area. As reported to this newspaper by the activist Agustín López Canino, many people “filmed and photographed the moment of protest.”

Last year, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) documented a total of 9,940 arbitrary detentions, a figure that “places the Government of Cuba in first place in all of Latin America” ??at the head of such arrests, according to a report by the independent organization.

*Translator’s note: Cuban police/State Security often arrest dissidents and drive them a long way outside the city where they are arrested and then put them out of the car in the “middle of nowhere,” to find their own way home.

Remembering Beny Moré on the anniversary of his death

Remembering Bartolomé Maximiliano Moré, (24 August 1919 – 19 February 1963), who died 54 years ago today. His beautiful Como Fue is one the first Cuban songs I remember hearing, and to this day I love listening to it, and enjoy the memories it stirs of a seemingly more pleasant bygone era.

As Silvio previously wrote, “He was only 43 and a victim of cirrhosis of the liver.

More’s music is found in every Cuban household in the US. I remember that my parents ordered some Beny More LP’s when we finally got a record player in Wisconsin. More’s music was exactly what my parents needed to survive those cold Wisconsin winters.

He started singing as a young man and eventually joined Perez Prado, the big Cuban orchestra of the 1950’s. More eventually started his own band and enjoyed tremendous success until his death.

The bad news is that he died young. The good news is that he left a huge archive of music and much of it is available in the US”.


Obama’s failed Cuba policy a sorry legacy

Cuban-American’s continue to voice opposition to Obama’s failed Cuba policy.

“Numerous Cuban activists have been murdered by the regime during Obama’s tenure in office. However, the systematic butchery taking place in Cuba had no visible effect on Obama.”

By Daisy B. Peñaloz inThe Bakersfield Californian:

Community Voices: Obama’s Cuba legacy is a sorry one

Daisy B. Peñaloza
Daisy B. Peñaloza

Former President Obama’s revocation of the “wet foot/dry foot” policy would have been a welcome change were it not for the fact that he violated yet another U.S. law — the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act — in the process.

“Wet foot/dry foot,” the brainchild of the Clinton administration, was a 1995 amendment to the Cuban Adjustment Act that sought to accomplish two objectives: Pacify the Castro dictatorship and discourage the hazardous migration of Cuban rafters crossing the Florida Straits. The ill-conceived measure did not achieve the desired effect. Thousands of Cubans continued to migrate undeterred by the risks.

After Obama’s normalization with the dictatorship on Dec. 17, 2014, Cubans realized that the U.S. government, instead of promoting freedom, was now collaborating with a corrupt regime in the pursuit of profit. Human rights had ceased to be a priority. Hope was extinguished for many Cubans. Consequently, another mass exodus ensued, propelling an estimated 100,000 Cubans to the United States in just two years.

The intent of the Cuban Adjustment Act was to facilitate the entry of political refugees into U.S. society without the customary required visa. Cuba remains a suffocating totalitarian police state. Its citizens, deprived of liberty and agency, are incessantly persecuted, imprisoned and murdered. Obama’s normalization did nothing to erase that fact.

Absent “wet foot/dry foot,” the Cuban Adjustment Act once again became whole, and all its inherent legal powers were restored and enabled. In typical fashion, Obama, through executive order and without congressional approval, violated the CAA by declaring Cuban refugees without visas inadmissible. Expressing concern for Middle Eastern refugees, while rejecting victims of totalitarianism 105 miles from U.S. shores, smacks of hypocrisy.

The repeal of the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, which gave U.S. sanctuary to trafficked and exploited Cuban doctors, was another casualty of Obama’s unhealthy obsession with the Castro brothers. Living in squalor, Cuban medical personnel — the majority of their wages garnished by the regime — were reduced to slave labor in host nations. Obama’s dictatorial executive orders, rather than inspiring confidence, further weakened and undermined our republic and the ability to succor victims of human trafficking.

Callous indifference to the suffering of Cuba’s political prisoners, pro-democracy groups, dissidents and exiles will be Obama’s most sorrowful and grievous legacy. During the escalation of repression in Cuba and abroad, the Obama administration remained mute and unresponsive.

Ironically, the Castros’ tactics of censorship surfaced at a Washington, D.C., press conference acknowledging the opening of the Cuban embassy. On that occasion, Cuban activist Rosa María Payá, daughter of murdered dissident Oswaldo Payá, was threatened by a State Department spokesperson with expulsion if she asked a question or commented.

Obama’s myriad of unlawful concessions to the dictatorship, without any meaningful reciprocation, have exacted a human cost. The Ladies in White are routinely beaten and arrested. They are subjected to 24-hour surveillance and hounded by organized mobs. “I will never forget what they did to me,” said Aliuska Gómez, recalling the day she was arbitrarily detained, stripped, and thrown naked into a filthy prison cell, prior to Obama’s official visit to Cuba. Hoping to keep a school destined for closure open, Sirley Ávila León appealed to Cuban officials without success. For her efforts, she was attacked with a machete by a Castro thug who severed her hand and inflicted serious wounds to the rest of her body.

Numerous Cuban activists have been murdered by the regime during Obama’s tenure in office. However, the systematic butchery taking place in Cuba had no visible effect on Obama. Although unlikely given its populist leanings, the Trump administration should uphold current U.S. laws such as the Helms-Burton Act and the Cuban Adjustment Act until the Castro regime abides by its requirements. Government leaders must send a clear, unequivocal message to global allies that the United States still values freedom, justice and respect for human rights.

Political refugees fleeing Cuban totalitarianism merit the protections of the Cuban Adjustment Act and should not be returned to Cuba. Lacking legitimacy and concrete, positive results, Obama’s Cuba policy has failed. It is not too late to make things right.

Daisy B. Peñaloza of Bakersfield is a preschool teacher. She left communist Cuba on a 1967 Freedom Flight.

A look at religious life in oppressed Cuba

For decades, religious expression in Cuba was suppressed, Christmas banned. In 1991, atheism as a prerequisite for communist party membership was lifted, although one could argue that this new tolerance of religious practice was for political reasons.

Castro’s War on Religion:

“From the moment that Castro took hold in January 1959, churches were in trouble. The regime quickly launched a propaganda campaign against the faithful, describing Catholics as “social scum.” By the late 1960s, Christmas was banned on the island. Churches were shut down. Priests and their parishioners were silenced, arrested or placed under tight surveillance, with every word of every service or homily monitored by government church-watchers infiltrating the pews. Any criticism, especially of the Marxist regime, was very dangerous. One could not be a member of the Communist Party in Cuba (the only party legally permitted, including for any government jobs) without professing a belief in atheism.”

Today, religious faith of various denominations is practiced in Cuba, but not freely, as religious oppression is a fact of life in modern Cuba.

Christian Solidarity World Wide:

The Untold Cuba

Everyday life in the face of oppression

Paradise beaches, colourful streets, beautiful architecture and classic cars cruising the capital’s streets. This, for many, is Cuba.
But tucked away on this Caribbean island are hundreds of untold stories.

Stories of ordinary people building lives, families, careers and church communities – in the stark reality of repression under Cuba’s communist government. From their lives come stories of threats of eviction, harassment, imprisonment, beatings and unfair criminal charges.

This is the untold Cuba…

In the countryside. Photo: Carlos Lamelas/CSW
In the countryside. Photo: Carlos Lamelas/CSW

You’ll find Rafael and Maria’s house nestled in a rural part of Cuba’s countryside. In fact, it’s so rural they have no internet connection. One afternoon as these two church leaders were listening to a sermon on DVD, security agents came to their home and arrested them.

They were imprisoned for two days with no visitors and were fined around £125.

The reason? They were taking part in ‘forbidden activities’ – listening to a sermon on DVD – during the period of mourning for Fidel Castro. People who know the couple believe that the government was just looking for an opportunity to bring a case against them.

 A church service. Photo: CSW

A church service. Photo: CSW

When Berta [leader of dissident group Las Damas De Blanco] leaves her house on a Sunday morning, she’s one of thousands of women who do so wondering if they’ll reach their destination. Every week women linked to the Ladies in White – a group of peaceful protesters – are arrested to stop them going to church.

They’re often violently detained, interrogated, and in some cases are beaten.

Berta was arrested when she tried to go to a midweek Mass just before Christmas. The state security agents told her, “[Government agents] will not let you nor any Lady in White attend Mass on any day.” For Berta, and hundreds of other women like her, their arrest doesn’t just stop them from attending church services but isolates them from their church community.

 Reverend Yiorvis Bravos Denis and family holding a sign which reads ‘Stop eviction in Cuba’.

Reverend Yiorvis Bravos Denis and family holding a sign which reads ‘Stop eviction in Cuba’.

Yiorvis is carrying on the work his uncle passed onto him – leading one of the fastest-growing Protestant networks of churches in Cuba. With that work comes ownership of the family home – which also happens to be the headquarters of the movement.

Three years ago Yiorvis and his family were threatened with eviction, and the government nullified ownership of his home.

Unless Yiorvis asked for permission to do any church activities, paid rent to the government and acknowledged the government as the actual owner of the property, he would lose his church and family home. Yiorvis stood his ground. Since then, he’s been threatened with eviction again, prevented from travelling outside Cuba and been accused of being in debt to the government for unpaid rent.

 Catholic Church in Baracoa. Photo: CSW

Catholic Church in Baracoa. Photo: CSW

Juan Carlos faces an impossible choice: stop leading your church or go to prison. He’s just been ordered to leave his job as church leader and find work for the state. If he doesn’t comply, he faces a prison sentence.

No escape. Photo: Carlos Lamelas, CSW.
No escape. Photo: Carlos Lamelas, CSW.

The man who took many of these photos, Carlos Lamelas, was imprisoned for four months on false human trafficking charges. He’s a church leader as well as a talented photographer, and the Cuba he captures is one of beauty, colour and vibrancy.

It’s the Cuba he loves and the Cuba we must protect.

For Rafael, Maria, Berta and Juan Carlos, this is their home. But sadly, it’s a home that falls short in giving its citizens the rights they are owed.

And as long as this continues, their stories must be heard.

Continue reading HERE.

Center for a Free Cuba Press Release on U.S. Cuba Policy

The Center for a Free Cuba charges that “Obama bureaucrats are still running US Cuba policy”

Press Release

February 17, 2017 (202) 427-3875


In an urgent letter sent to five congressmen and three senators, which is circulating on Capitol Hill this afternoon, the Center for a Free Cuba charges that “Obama bureaucrats are still running US Cuba policy,” despite President Donald Trump’s commitment on reciprocity as the basis for relations between Washington and Havana.

The letter says that Miguel Fraga, the first secretary of General Raul Castro’s embassy in Washington, will visit Montana State University next week to orchestrate support for the Cuban regime, but that no American diplomats have been invited to speak at Cuban universities on the island.

Indeed, in a troublesome indication of the still dictatorial nature of the Cuban government, David Mauri Cardoso a 22 year old university student was just expelled from the University of Cienfuegos. His “crime?” Referring to Fidel Castro as a dictator in a Spanish literature test in which a political question had been included.

The letter, signed by Frank Calzon, executive director of Center for a Free Cuba was sent to Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and congressmen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Mario Diaz Balart (R—FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), and Chris Smith (R-NJ).

While Mr. Fraga visits Montana, Amnesty International continues to circulate a petition to General Raul Castro asking for the immediate release of Dr. Eduardo Cardet, a physician, a Christian Democrat, and prisoner of conscience unjustly imprisoned for defending human rights and civil liberties in Cuba.

Copies of the letter. Amnesty International Urgent Action Appeal and Mr. Fraga’s Montana schedule were included with the letter.

El largarto cubano invades Brazil

Apparently even the lizards want out. The Anolis Porcatus, a Cuban lizard has been found in Brazil. Scientists there seem alarmed, finding the lizards thriving and reproducing in several locations. Well of course they’re successful in exile, they’re Cuban. There are several possible ways in which they made the long journey, however I’d like to think they hitched a ride courtesy Odebrecht, so finally some native Cubans other than the Castro’s and their henchmen benefit from that vile deal.

Loosely translated from CubaNet:

Invasion of a Cuban lizard species detected in Brazil

The authorities consider the presence of the invasive species as predatory and potentially harmful

Lagarto cubano (Diario Las Américas)
Lagarto cubano (Diario Las Américas)

RIO DE JANEIRO-a species of lizard of Cuban origin of endemic of the Antilles was identified in some municipalities on the coast of the Brazilian State of São Paulo, in an invasion attributed to maritime trade that can threaten the ecological balance in the region in the southeast of Brazil.

It’s the Anolis Porcatus, a Green Lizard of up to 20 centimeters, which feeds on small insects and that, despite its West Indian origin, had also been denounced as an invader in the State of Florida (United States).

The presence of the predatory and invasive species in Brazil is regarded as potentially harmful to the Brazilian fauna since it competes for the same food with local species.

Continue reading in Spanish, HERE.

Reports from Cuba: The Spirit Of The Executions Still Haunts La Cabaña

By Tania Diaz Castro in Translating Cuba:

The Spirit Of The Executions Still Haunts La Cabaña

az Castro Execution in La Cabaña (photo taken from The Nuevo Herald)
Execution in La Cabaña (photo taken from The Nuevo Herald)

Cubanet, Tania Diaz castro, 14 February 2017 — Nelson Rodríguez Leiva, 26, was shot in La Fortaleza de la Cabaña in 1971, along with his dearest friend, Angelito de Jesús Rabí, 17.

Also in the same place, but a century earlier, the poet Juan Clemente Zenea was shot.

It did not help Nelson that, in 1960 he had been a teacher in the Literacy Campaign in the mountains of Oriente, or that in 1964 he already had an excellent book of stories published by Virgilio Piñera, in Ediciones R, or that his mother Ada Leiva wrote a letter to Fidel Castro asking for clemency for her son, or that another book of Nelson’s poems was pending publication.

Just a few days ago El Nuevo Herald in Miami published an extensive report about the exposition of the writer Juan Abreu, with one hundred portraits of those executed by the Castro regime, painted by him, and presented at the headquarters of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.

Perhaps Nelson’s face was there.

Abreu received the respect and admiration of former political prisoners such as Pedro Corso, director of the Cuban Institute of Historical Memory Against Totalitarianism, and the poet Angel Cuadra, who said that Abreu’s Exposition “… is like making history talk through the faces, to rescue them and give them new life.” He would have also received the support of the writer Reinaldo Arenas, a dear friend, who lamentably died in New York and who always remembered his friend Nelson.

It’s about, said Abreu, “… not conventional portraits, but an approach to the faces, so often blurred, conserved in old photos.”

Abreu’s project is a history of the Cuban regime, today in the hands of Raul Castro, who wants to erase, above all, those days when this place was used for executions after summary trials, to make examples or simply for revenge or fear of a fierce opposition that arose among all the political opponents condemned to death. Bringing it to the European Parliament must be considered a victory.

The number of five thousand individuals shot dead hangs like a Sword of Damocles over Cuba. The spirit of all these who faced the firing squad hangs over La Cabana Fortress, no matter how many parties are held there, no matter who much fun and excitement and hullabaloo there is, no matter how many books are sold at the book fair that the executioner government hold every year, for a people who are so busy just trying to survive that they don’t have time to read.

In this fortress, with a history as dark as the dictatorship itself, the Book Fair is celebrated, strategic project of Fidel Castro to clean the blood off their graves, cells, bars and walls, as if history could be made to disappear.

The two young writers, Nelson and Angelito, were tied up there, their eyes closed, so as not to see the rifles of the night, close together, as they asked to die.

Not long ago, someone who knew them, told me that Nelson was very romantic, that he wept with the melodies of The Beatles, and even resembled a bit James Dean, the American actor of the fifties and that Angelito, converted Into his noble page, had the face of a child.

Through the sad streets of La Cabaña Fortress, where Nelson and his friend walked towards death, today walk the “grateful” who ignore this story. They are looking for a book to read. Not precisely Nelson’s book of stories, The Gift, or those pages smeared with tears that someone picked up from an empty dungeon.

A portion of Juan Abreu’s faces (PanAm Post)
A portion of Juan Abreu’s faces (PanAm Post)

Caught on video, police brutality in Havana

A young man in Havana beaten for not carrying his id. Please share this, expose the brutality of the police state in Cuba.

Via Twitter:

Communist dictators just won’t let you have fun

Playing games, laughing, running in the fresh air, all provide the joyful feeling of freedom — an experience frowned upon in Cuba’s utopian paradise, especially if not organized by the state.

Loosely translated from CubaNet:

Soccer tournament organized by UNPACU ends in arrests

Several young people were arrested

Particpantes en el torneo de fútbol organiado por la UNPACU (Foto: UNPACU)
Particpantes en el torneo de fútbol organiado por la UNPACU (Foto: UNPACU)

MIAMI, United States- A soccer tournament organized by the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) has ended with the arrest of at least four of its participants, according to the testimony offered to Marti news by a member of the opposition.

In conversation with the web site, the interviewee said that after several days in attendance celebrating the games, as part of an initiative to facilitate healthy distraction for young people, the police intervened.

Continue reading in Spanish, and listen to the audio HERE.

Reports from Cuba: Cuban Doctors and Nurses in Exchange for Angolan Oil

Obama’s executive actions makes him complicit in the slavery of the Cuban people.

“Also, on January 12 a US government program, the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, was cancelled, easing fears that our physicians will abandon their overseas missions.”

By Juan Juan Almeida in Translating Cuba:

Cuban Doctors and Nurses in Exchange for Angolan Oil


Juan Juan Almeida, 14 February 2017 — In a memorable address on December 18, 2008 in Salvador de Bahía, Brazil, Raúl Castro referred to what we now know as Operation Carlota, saying, “We told the Angolan people we will only take with us the remains of our dead.” But he lied.

The Cuban military mission there did some farming and planted a seed that is only now bearing fruit. Initially, the mission provided support, earning the regime international prestige and increasing its political capital. Witness for example, the vote against the US embargo in the United Nations’ General Assembly. Now, General Castro, who is also president of Cuba, is counting on a good harvest: Angolan oil.

Below are the names of thirty people who were flew on KLM or TAAG Angolan Airlines on January 26 of this year from Havana to Luanda with the express purpose of trading medical services for Angolan crude oil.

Mariluz Simales Cruz, nursing

Larisa Peña Roja, biology

Ángel Alexis Calas Ortiz, nursing

Isabel Chala Castaneda, MD, hygiene and epidemiology

Margarita Saltaren Cobas, nursing

Alfredo Saltaren Cobas, biological sciences

Erenis Serrat Morales, clinical laboratory

Jorge Luis Vargas Mendoza, hygiene and epidemiology

José Alexander Campos Castillo, pharmacy

Mario Oscar León Sánchez, comprehensive general medicine, intensive therapy

Eladia Cuenca Arce, clinical laboratory

Paula Pompa Márquez, microbiology

Isabel María Oliva Licea, transfusion medicine

Andrés Aguilar Charon, chemistry education

Dioenis de la Caridad Campoamor Hernández, health care technology

Martha Alfreda Zamora González, immunology

Agustín Rodríguez Soto, professor of stomatology

Geisy Pérez Pérez, nursing

Marlenis Sánchez Tuzón, MD, clinical laboratory

Lazara Josefina Linares Jiménez, clinical laboratory

Yunia Delgado Peña, nursing

María Libia Paneque Gamboa, professor, Uniología Institutos Médicos

Dimey Arguelles Toledo, nursing

Katiuska Garboza Savón, professor, clinical laboratory

Victoria Priscila Moreno Zambrano, clinical laboratory

Maria Cristina Varela Alejo, pharmacy

Gliceria Alicia Díaz Santa Cruz, health care technology

Dania Victoria Rodríguez Hidalgo, nursing

René Camacho Díaz, professor, maxillofacial surgery

Yaimy Royero Martínez, surgical nursing

“In politics, money talks. It has the first and the last word. The medical missions in Venezuela won’t be cancelled. Speculation is that the price of oil will rise and, if that happens, the income we receive from that program should also rise,” explains an official from the Cuban Ministry of Public Health who, as is always the case, fears government reprisal and prefers to remain anonymous and out of sight.

“The Angola mission,” he points out, “is a different sort of thing. They are not sending doctors to be doctors but rather to be instructors. They are going there to teach classes, not to see patients.

“This is predicted to be Cuba’s most profitable economic endeavor, more than tourism or remittances from overseas. We are talking about a massive shipment of doctors and other medical personnel as part of an exchange agreement that will guarantee favorable crude oil prices.

“Also, on January 12 a US government program, the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, was cancelled, easing fears that our physicians will abandon their overseas missions.”

Court Denies Last Appeal of Political Prisoner Leopoldo López

By Sabrina Martin, PanAm Post:

Venezuela’s Top Court Denies Last Appeal of Political Prisoner Leopoldo López


After serving three years out of a 14-year prison sentence, the future just got much bleaker for political prisoner Leopoldo López.

The Venezuelan Supreme Court closed the case for good, having ratified the sentence given to López, meaning he will have to carry out the rest of his 14-year sentence pending further international pressure to have him released.

This Thursday, February 16, Venezuela’s highest judicial court dismissed an appeal filed in August by López’s defense lawyer, Juan Carlos Gutiérrez. He explained that, faced with the court’s decision, they will now have to turn to an international approach.

“The TSJ reiterates the injustice, the illegality that has been this process,” he said.

The court dismissed López’s appeal as “manifestly unfounded,” according to an excerpt from the ruling.

Gutiérrez said the appeal had been introduced “with strict adherence to jurisprudence” and claimed the courts “break with the rule of law and its jurisprudential line.”

López was sentenced on September 10, 2015 to 13 years and nine months in prison. The conviction is the maximum for crimes of public instigation, conspiracy to commit a crime, property damage and arson.

On August 12, 2016, the Venezuelan Court of Appeals ratified Lopez’s ruling, claiming that he should remain in prison for that full time period.

The Popular Volunteer Party has called for a demonstration in response.

Source: Diario Las Américas

Visit Free Leopoldo HERE, for more information.


Reports of violence in Baracoa

It’s unusual to read of such lawlessness in Cuba. Images of police quickly squashing any opposition gatherings or protests are common on social media, however it seems a street gang is challenging the regime for control of the streets of Baracoa. What gives?

Loosely translated from Diario de Cuba:

Baracoa neighbors denounce the emergence of violent gangs, despite the militarization of the city


Vecina de Baracoa tras el paso del huracán Matthew. (AP)
Vecina de Baracoa tras el paso del huracán Matthew. (AP)

Residents in Baracoa, a town devastated by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, are alarmed by the rise of violent gangs despite the militarization of the city, and are calling on authorities for a solution.

“After the passage of the Hurricane, a gang known as “Los 300″ formed in Baracoa, dedicated to rape, stealing, and beating people, including members of the brigades that are dedicated to recovery”, says a fearful neighbor asking for discretion over their identity. “If they find out that it was I who gave details, perhaps they can pass something to me or to my family”.

María Isabel Rodríguez recalls an incident that occurred about a month ago: “a boy of about 20 years old was murdered by the gang. Some young people returning from a party discovered the body in the early morning hours. They made a video just before the police arrived.”

DIARIO DE CUBA obtained the video, which shows the body of a young black man, lying on the floor apparently with stab wounds in the arm and left side. It has not been published due to the graphic nature of the images.

Rodriguez says, “We demand that the special troops deployed here in the municipality, and the Ministry of the Interior put an end to the wave of violence”.

Residents of Baracoa and the other territories affected by Matthew in Guantanamo have complained about the strong presence military that apparently has been directed to control access to these locations, to prevent protests, and to monitor the places of distribution of food and building materials. Dissidents, independent journalists and human rights activists have denounced harassment and threats against them to prevent them from reporting on what is happening.

Continue reading in Spanish HERE.

And from Twitter:

Translation: Cubanoselmundo: #Cuba violence emerges in #Baracoa despite the militarisation of the regime #actualidad