Over 1000 political arrests in past month by Cuba’s ‘pimp state’

There were at least 1,052 politically-motivated arbitrary arrests in Cuba over the past month, according to the Cuban Commission on Human Rights:

In its first monthly report about repression this year, the commission said that the arrests had as their main aim “to silence dissident voices” during the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, held last week in Havana, Latino News reports.

A concept coined by a European diplomat who had lived in Cuba has since spread, writes analyst Carlos Alberto Montaner.

“The model created by the Castro brothers is a pimp state,” he writes. “Fifty-five years after the dictatorship was imposed, almost all the significant forms of income that sustain the country come from shady deals made abroad.”

The Venezuelan subsidy. Estimated at $13 billion a year by Prof. Carmelo Mesa Lago, dean of Cuban economists on the subject. That includes more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day, half of which are re-exported and sold in Spain. ….

The trade in doctors and health givers. This business brings in $7.5 billion a year. Specialist María Werlau has described this activity in the Miami Herald. The Cuban government leases its professionals and charges for their services. It confiscates 95 percent of their salaries. … Not even the aid to Haiti escapes this scheme.

Other leases, other businesses. But that’s not the end of the exploitation. The Cuban government leases other professionals to private companies……

Remittances from exiles. Emilio Morales, who fled from Cuba a relatively short time ago and is a major expert on the subject, places that source of income (as of 2012) at a little more than $5 billion. Roughly half of it is sent in cash and the rest in merchandise. The flow grows at the rate of 13 percent per year….RTWT

CUBA_SMDissident Cuban author and blogger Yoani Sanchez (right) told an audience at a literary event in Cartagena, Colombia, that she plans to launch a digital newspaper in her homeland with the idea of spurring press freedom, VOA reports.

“The worst can happen, that the first day we open the medium they break the door and block the website, which wouldn’t be that bad because there’s nothing more attractive than what’s forbidden, right? But it’s also possible that we are here starting the roots of a press that can transcend the present moment and become the newspaper of the future,” she said.

As LatAm leaders laud Fidel, US & rights groups condemn Cuban dissident detentions

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Cuban dissident Oscar Biscet was one of the dissidents detained during the CELAC summit

The U.S. State Department, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch joined in condemning the Cuban government’s detentions of dozens of dissidents to keep them away from a Havana summit of hemispheric leaders, the Miami Herald reports:

Human rights activists in Havana said an estimated 100 pro-democracy activists had been briefly detained or put under house arrest for the two-day Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which ends Wednesday. About 30 of them were detained when they gathered in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba just as Cuban ruler Raúl Castro was giving his opening address to the summit, according to the dissident Cuban Patriotic Union.

“We condemn such actions and urge the government of Cuba to allow Cuban citizens to express their opinions freely, and allow them to assemble peacefully in the exercise of that right,” said a State Department spokesperson.

“We encourage leaders, including those of international organizations, to take the opportunity to meet with average Cubans and members of civil society to demonstrate clearly their support for peaceful assembly and freedom of speech on the island.”

The secretary-general of the Washington-based Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, said he would not meet with dissidents because he did not want to “provoke problems or discomforts.”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon reportedly pressed Communist Cuba’s regime on arbitrary detentions of dissidents.

The ambassador to Cuba from Costa Rica, which will host the next summit, met for about a half-hour Wednesday morning with two human rights activists.

“We asked that under the pro-tempore presidency of Costa Rica, Cuba be encouraged to begin a process of gradual reforms on the issue of human rights,” said Elizardo Sanchez, head of the non-governmental Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

Cuban leader Raul Castro challenged Latin American leaders to show the political will to improve health care and education, then heard from his own critics after authorities stifled a protest, Reuters reports:

Cuban dissidents were expected to raise issues of human rights at an ad hoc democracy forum at a park in central Havana, but were apparently foiled after complaining that Cuban authorities detained at least 40 activists in recent days as a part of a campaign of harassment before the summit. With dissidents blocked from leaving their homes, only a smattering of state security agents were present where the forum was to have taken place.

“Critical voices are silenced during the CELAC summit: arrests, threats, mobiles cut,” tweeted dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez.

“Our message to world leaders visiting: meet with everyday Cubans and independent civil society to learn what’s really happening and support democratic change,” Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on Twitter.

Jose Miguel Vivanco, Latin America director for Human Rights Watch advocacy group, said that while the regime eased restrictions on travel abroad in 2013, “its abusive practices remain largely unchanged.”

“It’s hard to imagine another government in the region preemptively detaining dissenters to prevent them from voicing their opinions during a regional conference,” he said in an email to El Nuevo Herald.

The Communist authorities deported an Argentine activist, Gabriel Salvia, of the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL), for reputed “anti-Cuban activities.”

“What is inadmissible is not to be able to do in Cuba what can be done in any other country that belongs to CELAC,” he Tweeted from Havana airport.