Saturday, May 19, 2018

Venezuela: Cuba's colonial possession in South America implodes

Dark days ahead in Venezuela.
Dictator Raul Castro with his Venezuelan and Cuban puppets
In Venezuela the electoral system is rigged, the regime of Nicolas Maduro is a narco-state managed and controlled by the Castro regime's military and intelligence services. The Cuban presence has been called an "occupation army" by OAS General Secretary Luis Almagro.

Venezuela today is a territory subject to a foreign state it has become a colony of the Castro family. As Venezuelans starve in the streets and children die because of a lack of medical supplies, the Maduro regime purchased $440 million worth of foreign oil and shipped it directly to Cuba.

Venezuela is a communist regime were nurses complaining about the lack of medicine or medical equipment are arbitrarily detained. It is a country were citizens are driven to vote out of fear.

Those of us living in freedom have a duty to protest what is going on in Venezuela.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Universal Periodic Review: A review of the Castro dictatorship's desperate actions to cover up its dismal record

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” – Elie Wiesel

Castro regime delegation undergoes the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva
Today the third Universal Periodic Review of Cuba took place at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.  It was a circus.

The Castro regime cannot debate the facts. Instead it tries to flood the process with propaganda to drive out serious reports presented by non-governmental organizations, block dissidents from traveling to attend the review, and limit the time that democratic member states have to raise questions with cheer-leading by repressive regimes that take up time and limited interventions to 50 seconds.

Hillel Neuer of UN Watch exposed the rampant cheating of the Cuban government to avoid being evaluated during the Universal Periodic Review.
When that fails and serious issues are raised the representatives of the dictatorship engaged in ad hominem attacks such as guilt by association to generate confusion in order to not have to answer the tough questions on its systematic violation of human rights.

According to the representatives of the Castro regime the only Cubans that can be called human rights defenders are those who fight for the revolution, i.e. the 59 year old communist dictatorship that has turned Cuba into an Orwellian nightmare. 

But when Sirley Avila Leon, who believed the promises of the revolution, sought to see them fulfilled and went through the official channels to open a school for Cuban children she was shunned, marginalized, harassed, and was nearly killed in a machete attack in 2015. Following the attack state security let doctors know that she was not to be treated.

When Dr. Eduardo Cardet, a medical doctor, followed the existing constitution to effect changes to improve the human rights situation in the island, restoring sovereignty to Cubans, and expressed his views he was beaten up, jailed and sentenced to three years in prison.

The claim by the Castro regime that it is committed to human rights is false. The dictatorship in Cuba has spent decades undermining international human rights standards. They even defended right-wing military dictatorships from being condemned at the UN Human Rights Commission and in the 1960s recruited former Nazis to train their officials.

Gabriel Salvia of the Center for Opening and Development of Latin America ( CADAL in Spanish) tweeted about the complicity of the Castro regime with the Argentine military junta and I translated it to English.
The Castro regime runs roughshod over human rights in Cuba, and spends an exorbitant amount of money to cover up its repressive nature. In the current worsening international human rights climate
there may not be much that can be done, but one must speak truth to power and protest. Let the world know the cynical  nature of this exercise.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Human Rights in Cuba: Shadow UPR and three Cubans killed during the span of the current review

 “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” - Flannery O'Connor

Over the past few days this blog highlighted three cases from the past four years that highlight the cruelty of the Castro regime: in 2014 a blind attorney beaten down by state security agents; in 2015 a human rights defender and mother lost her hand and the use of her knees in a machete attack ordered by regime agents in reprisal for trying to keep a school open; and in 2016 a Cuban doctor was beaten down in front of his wife and children and taken to prison where he remains today suffering assaults and ill treatment for giving his honest opinion of the legacy of Fidel Castro.

Today in Geneva, Switzerland just steps away from where the Universal Periodic Review will be held on May 16th there was a self-described "Shadow UPR" that highlighted more recent cases, and the steps taken by the dictatorship in Cuba to avoid being held accountable. Below are the videos of the entire event and are worth watching.

Sadly there are those who will be unable to do so because they were victims of extrajudicial killings carried out by agents of the Castro over the past four years. Below are three cases, but sadly there are more.

Yunisledy Lopez Rodriguez: Brutally murdered at age 23 in 2014
Yunisledy Lopez Rodriguez was 23 years old, the mother of two small children and she lived in Vista Alegre, in the Municipality of Majabiquoa in Las Tunas, Cuba. She had suffered harassment from state security agents, who had wanted to evict her and her children from their home for her activism in the Civics and Truth movement.

Yunisledy found out that her then boyfriend "Ruber" had been given the order to kill Cuban dissident Sirley Avila Leon by state security. Yunisledy immediately told Sirley Avila Leon of the danger and on May 21,  2014 when Sirley's home was set on fire formally complained to the police. She reported that her partner had told her that he would murder Sirley and that through the above action had attempted to carry it out. The police never made a pronouncement on the matter and did nothing. 

Afterwards "Ruber" warned Yunisledy and told her that if she did not want to be killed that she should join him in Camaguey where he had been given the possibility to work as a "cuenta propista"  as a reward for carrying out his arson attack against Sirley Avila Leon and to give the impression that he was in a prison elsewhere. [This is an aspect of the job sector opportunities that Amnesty missed in their report.]

She  denounced the new threat to the police but no action was taken against him and he went away. After two months approximately September 20-21, 2014, another man,  the father of her young son appears at her home and tells her that he'll kill her. But instead rapes her in front of her children and leaves.

Immediately she went to the police and made a complaint because he was supposedly a prison escapee, but the police took no action. They told her not to worry that he was already back in prison. Yunisledy called Sirley on September 24, 2014 and told her that they both knew why he was being sent to kill her. Yunisledy asked Sirley to care for her children because she had no police protection.

On September 26, 2014 while preparing food for her children the individual known as "El Tejon" entered the house and stabbed her 18 times in front of her two kids. This was done to give the appearance of a crime of passion.

Diosbel Díaz Bioto killed on December 16, 2014
 On December 16, 2014 the Cuban coastguard ram and sank a boat with 32 refugees, one of them, Diosbel Díaz Bioto, was killed. Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." This is completely and systematically violated in Cuba. 

Yuriniesky Martínez with his dad, son, and on (right) how he was found in 2015
Yuriniesky Martínez Reina (age 28) was killed by state security chief Miguel Angel Río Seco Rodríguez in the Martí municipality of Matanzas, Cuba on April 9, 2015 for trying to leave Cuba. He was part of a group of young men who were building a boat near Menéndez beach to flee the island, when they were spotted trying to leave and were shot at by state security. Yuriniesky was shot in the back and left to die.  He was found face down in some brush.

Cuba's UPR record is a shameful indictment: A regime that beats and imprisons doctors who dissent

"Facts are difficult things."  - John Adams

Prisoner of conscience Dr. Eduardo Cardet
Cuba will undergo its third Universal Periodic Review from 2:30pm to 6:00pm on May 16, 2018 Geneva time. The propaganda machine has already started up, but facts are difficult things.

The regime in Cuba calls itself a medical superpower and boasts of its medical doctors, but these health care professionals are not free, and not entitled to their opinion. Take a moment and review the case of Eduardo Cardet MD.

Medical doctor, beloved by his community, husband, and father of two. Today his life hangs in the balance in Cuba. On November 30, 2016 in front of his wife and kids he was beaten up by Castro's political police and taken away.  Amnesty International recognized him as a prisoner of conscience. He was sentenced to three years in prison on March 20, 2017 in a political show trial that violated international norms. He was badly beaten and stabbed twice by three prisoners on December 19, 2017 most likely on orders of regime agents. Family fears that he has a carcinoma on his nose that is not being treated. 

Eduardo Cardet continues to suffer this injustice in Cuba today. He is the national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement, a Cuban opposition movement that mobilized tens of thousands of Cubans to peacefully petition the Castro regime for democratic change. When members of his movement, on April 5, 2018, attempted to turn in a petition signed by 10,000 Cubans they were detained for 24 hours and the signatures seized by the political police. There are fears that those who signed will be persecuted.

This is the reality that the Castro regime is trying to hide behind an avalanche of propaganda. Dr. Eduardo Cardet should never have been jailed. He is a prisoner of conscience and should be free. 

He is not the first doctor imprisoned for what he thought. Decades earlier Dr. Armando Valladares would spend many years in prison for his dissenting opinion. Dr. Desi Mendoza imprisoned because he spoke out about a dengue epidemic. There have been others whose names we do not know.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Cuba is a dictatorship that brutalizes blind dissenters: Time to hold it accountable

Note to UPR 30 and the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights: Cuba is a dictatorship.

Blind Rights Defender Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leiva
The dictatorship in Cuba systematically violates all human rights both in law and in action. Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right of all persons to to travel into and out of their own country. The regime in Cuba does not recognize that right and treats it as a priviledge to be granted or taken away at the whim of the dictatorship. The concerns raised by the Office of the High Commissioner calls attention to the problem but with diplomatic language that minimizes the true extent of the problem.

Will the Office of the High Commissioner speak out against the physical assault of Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leiva, a blind human rights defender, on January 9, 2014 at 10:30am?  Together with his wife, Tania Maceda Guerra, and six other activists in Ciego de Avila, his home town, he was distributing "Voz Avileña", a dissident publication. Juan Carlos described what happened next.
I carried in my hand a copy of the newsletter "The Avileña Voice." There was a very large state security operation and they demanded that we give them the newsletter. When I refused and we eight activists sat on the ground, and began to shout, " Freedom", "Long live human rights" and "Down with Fidel" military troops reinforcements arrived and they beat us up. We were taken by car to the First police headquarters. During the trip a police officer pulled my wife's hair and bit her hands. I responded to the police officer biting him and then the official gave me a savage beating to the point that it made ​​me lose consciousness. They hit me so many times that I have both the right foot and index finger of the left hand broken. I have aches and bruises throughout my entire body . To all the activists who were with me Junior Ortega Rivero, Daniel Camacho Marchena, Daniel Martínez, Alberto Pla Risco, Quintana Sarría and others that were with me, all were violently beaten and dragged away and were also detained. Without any explanation we were all released around 3:00pm in the afternoon.
Ignorance is not an excuse for the Human Rights Council. On September 16, 2014 Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leiva spoke before the Council and denounced the brutal beating he and the other activists suffered placing it in the larger context. Seven months later another Cuban human rights defender, Sirley Avila Leon, was the victim of a machete attack that cost her a hand and the use of both knees.

Allowing the Castro regime to operate with impunity is unacceptable and there needs to be a cost for the criminal actions taken.  Time to indict Raul Castro.