Cubazuela on the offensive


CH Cubans

CH Cubans

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights (CCHR) has documented 411 political arrests by the Castro regime during the month of September 2014.

This bring the total number of political arrests during the first nine months of this year to 7,599, Capitol Hill Cubans reports. In just nine months, these 7,599 political arrests surpass the year-long tallies recorded for 2010 (2,074 political arrests), 2011 (4,123 political arrests), 2012 (6,602 political arrests) and 2013 (6,424 political arrests).

It is shameful and irresponsible that Latin American and Caribbean democracies, which in some cases have suffered from military domination, are supporting Venezuela’s push for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council, argues Diego Arria,  Venezuela’s permanent representative to the United Nations from 1991-93.

These governments know full well of the collapse of democracy in Venezuela, he writes for the New York Daily News:

They know full well the magnitude of its infamous record on human rights, including the recent arrest and torture of political and student leaders duly documented in the UN Council of Human Rights as well as by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

These countries also know that the Venezuelan regime is under the influence of the Cuban government, which means, by giving Venezuela the opportunity to serve on their behalf, they will be allowing Cuba to have de facto representation in the Security Council…..

Venezuela’s regime is known for providing passports to many individuals in the Middle East who belong to radical groups, including Hezbollah, as well as cooperating and providing logistics for narco terrorists groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

So well-established are these bad deeds, five high-ranking Venezuelan generals have been included by the U.S. Treasury Department on its “kingpin list.” Two of them are today state governors and active members of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela.


Cuba attendance undermines Summit of Americas

CUBA DEPEISTRESen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) blasted Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela for saying he’ll invite Cuba to the 2015 Summit of the Americas, The Hill reports:

Menendez wrote a letter to Varela on Wednesday to express his “dismay” over Varela’s intent to invite Cuba to the summit in April.

“Cuba’s participation would undermine the spirit and authority of the Summit of the Americas,” Menendez wrote. “The Government of Cuba remains this hemisphere’s must enduring dictatorship, having deprived the people of Cuba of democratic rule for more than a half century.

“The Government of Cuba fails to meet even the most minimal standard of democratic governance required for its participation at the Summit of the Americas.”

Other sources, including Capitol Hill Cubans, suggest that Panama is being coerced by Cuba’s regime.

Panama appears to be mostly interested in recovering the nearly $500 million it’s owed by Cuba and securing the release of a prominent Panamanian businessman the Castro regime has imprisoned (without trial) for nearly two years, says Mauricio Claver-Carone, a Washington DC law professor and current director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC.  

“If Panama’s government succumbs to Cuban blandishments that it be included, the Obama administration must refuse to participate at any senior level,” he writes for the Miami Herald. “Preserving and fulfilling the commitments made to democracy is in the best interests of all the nations in the hemisphere. Doing less risks dismantling democracy in the Americas.”

Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei has a new exhibit titled @LARGE: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz  that opened on September 27, 2014 and will be on view through April 26, 2015 at the old Alcatraz prison.

 Trace, one of seven installations by the artist features 176 portraits, all built using Lego bricks. Each portrait “represents an individual who has been imprisoned or exiled because of his or her beliefs, actions, or affiliations.” Ai Weiwei has called them “heroes of our time.” One of them is Cuban prisoner of conscience Iván Fernández Depestre (above).

Silva: Brazil can help Cuban transition to democracy

Brazil-mARINA sILVAA former Amazon activist and Environment Minister Marina Silva is in a dead-heat presidential race with President Dilma Rousseff, who represents the Workers Party, which she herself helped found three decades ago, the UK Independent reports.

“Brazil has a great opportunity to become a global leader by leading by example,” Ms Silva said, talking about human rights and environmental protections. “Our values cannot be modified because of ideological or political reasons, or because of pure economic interest.”

Asked whether she would continue Brazil’s strong investment in and political support for regimes such as Cuba, Venezuela, China and Iran, Ms Silva said that dialogue was essential with each – but that her personal convictions meant Brazil would be more vocal in pushing human rights. “The best way to help the Cuban people is by understanding that they can make a transition from the current regime to democracy, and that we don’t need to cut any type of relations,” she said.

“If elected, she has such a remarkable personal story that she’d come to the presidency with a lot of legitimacy, tremendous excitement and high expectations,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue.


‘Gusano’ highlights Cuba’s intolerance of dissent

The Cuban pro-democracy group For Another Cuba has produced an exceptional documentary, detailing the intimidation, harassment and violence facing critics of the Communist regime. Totalitarian regimes are marked by their violent intolerance of even peaceful dissent and Gusano (‘Worm’) highlights the treatment meted out to those Cubans who opt to leave the island, notably by government-organized mobs, a.k.a. Committees for the Defense of the Revolution.

Essential viewing.    



Cuba – ‘operatives’ or simply civic activists?

If there are two things that inspire me it’s a ramped up, over-the-top, scurrilous AP story about democracy promotion and a Broadway musical–especially a Rodgers and Hammerstein production, writes Christopher Sabatini, editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly and senior director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas:

So, here is my adaptation of the classic Sound of Music,  “My Favorite Things,” based on the recent series of articles published by AP on USAID’s democracy program in Cuba.  The non-bracketed, italicized parts are sung to the music of “My Favorite Things.”  

Calling USAID agents,

when they’re just bureaucrats.

 [As in the Zun Zuneo story, where it refers to “agents of the US government, working in deep secrecy..”   USAID officers are not agents.  They may be poorly dressed, overly earnest bureaucrats. But agents?  No one describes them that way--except AP.]….

Referring to Gross,

on a top “secret mission.”

 These are a few of my favorite words!

 When deadline calls,

when the editor barks,

when I’m feeling down,

I simply pull out,

some of my favorite words,

and then I don’t feel so…bad.

Saying “deployed,”

when sent would  be better.

 [As in the first sentence of the August 4 AP story which says that the U.S. agency “deployed” Latin American youth to “work undercover” when they hadn’t been trained in the dangers of “clandestine operations.”   You deploy the military; I’m not sure you deploy activists to an island by sending them there. But wow, that sounds great, doesn’t it?  They’ve definitely deployed a great verb.  I bet it was those “agent” ideas to do that.]  

Using “assignment”,

and “guise” and “recruitment.”

[In the August story, the authors claim that Costa Rican and Venezuelan activists had an “assignment” to “recruit” Cubans for “anti-government activism” under the “guise of civic programs” with “security codes.”  Unfortunately, all the quotes above are mine, not APs, indicating that this inflammatory language was not in the actual documents they FOIA’d, leading one to conclude that they must have come from the AP reporters‘ fevered creative writing.  Sweet!]

Referring to activists,

by calling them “operatives.”

[…Several times the August 4 article describes the people USAID sent to Cuba who were working for NGOs as “operatives” for no apparent reason--though at one point it says they “posed as tourists” (please see my last blog post on that.)]….. 

[In the August 4 report, there are also other sloppily used terms like “bankrolling” (why not funding, except for the fact that bankrolling sounds illicit?), “blowing their mission” or the description that the HIV workshops were “supposed to offer straightforward sex education.”  [emphasis mine] or that the workshops were a “recruiting ground”  for “ginning up opposition” or “stirring unrest.”   Democracy programs the world over work with community groups to help them gain civic tools and experience; that doesn’t make them subversive, just useful.]….