Saturday, November 21, 2009

LPP Updates...

Engaging Cuba on Human Rights

The regime should be asked to release political prisoners in exchange for normal relations.

Normalization of U.S. relations with Cuba was widely seen as exactly the kind of high-value, low-hanging fruit that would be ideal for a president elected under the banner of "change." But a scathing new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, "New Castro, Same Cuba," will make lifting sanctions against the Castro regime—on travel, remittances, trade—more difficult for President Obama.
Sadly, the human-rights situation on the island remains dismal, despite new leadership. According to HRW, the Raúl Castro government has harassed and imprisoned dissidents using an Orwellian provision of the Cuban Criminal Code that punishes "dangerousness." Authorities can lock up individuals on the suspicion that they may commit a crime in the future, or for engaging in behavior that is "antisocial" or contrary to "socialist morality."
Among the activities the government has deemed "dangerous" are: handing out copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, failing to attend pro-government rallies, or simply being unemployed. In its report, based on more than 60 interviews carried out in Cuba without official permission or by phone from abroad, HRW documented more than 40 cases of dissidents who have been sentenced for "dangerousness."
Cuban law is replete with laws like the "dangerousness" provision that may be used to punish anyone seen as critical of the government. Human-rights defenders, journalists, political activists and others charged with breaking such laws find themselves at the mercy of a system that violates virtually every due process right.
Political detainees are denied access to legal counsel and family visits. They are subjected to abusive interrogations, and they may be detained for months or even years without being charged. Trials are pure theater, mostly conducted behind closed doors and finished in minutes.
Once in prison, abuse is commonplace. On Dec. 10, 2008—Human Rights Day—a political prisoner tried to read aloud to fellow prisoners from a book his wife had brought him called "Your Rights." In response, a guard came into his cell and told him to eat the book. When the prisoner refused, he was beaten and later sentenced to six more years in prison for "disrespecting authority."
Dissidents are subjected to public "acts of repudiation," in which crowds gather outside of their homes, throwing stones, shouting threats, and sometimes physically assaulting them. Those labeled "counterrevolutionaries" are fired from their jobs, monitored, threatened and prevented from traveling. The beating of dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez by two men she says were Cuban agents in civilian clothes in Havana just two weeks ago is further proof of this regrettable state of affairs.
Without outside pressure, the human-rights situation in Cuba will not improve. But outside pressure—sadly absent today, in the case of Europe or Latin America—has proved insufficient. At the same time, the U.S. embargo policy has been a unmitigated failure.
The logical route to follow is the one HRW and others have suggested: The U.S. should shift from a policy of regime change to a policy of human-rights promotion. The Obama administration should approach the European Union and the Latin American democracies and offer to lift the embargo on the condition that these countries join the U.S. in pressuring Cuba on a single demand: the release of all political prisoners, including those incarcerated for "dangerousness."
Once the U.S. government has secured this commitment and a multilateral coalition is in place, the U.S. should end its failed embargo policy. Cuba should be given a brief and specified period—the report recommends six months—to release all of its political prisoners.
If the government of Raúl Castro complies, it will set in motion a process whose ultimate goal is the full normalization of relations with the U.S. and the EU, as well as compliance with the democratic standards of the Organization of American States. If it does not, this multilateral coalition should enact targeted sanctions directed at the leadership of the Castro government.
The Castro brothers know that nothing would be more threatening to their half-century monopoly on power than the end of the U.S. embargo, which they use as a justification for their ongoing abuses. Indeed, they appear to be deliberately sabotaging normalization by making the human-rights situation worse.
This is why a multilateral approach is crucial. According to the Spanish daily El País, President Obama asked Spanish Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero three weeks ago to "Tell the Cubans we are taking steps, but if they don't take them too, it will be very difficult for us to continue." The Obama administration gets it. Now, if only we could get more Latin American countries to stop countenancing Cuba's human-rights violations and play a constructive role.
Mr. Castaneda, a professor at New York University and fellow at the New America Foundation, was Mexico's foreign minister from 2000 to 2003.
Source: The Wall Street Journal 

Yoani to House Committee: End Travel Ban

Yoani Sanchez' counsel yesterday to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to end travel restrictions was completely ignored by witnesses and Members who cited her accusations of abduction by Cuban security personnel as a big reason to keep the ban.
President Obama was very complimentary to Yoani in his personal response to her questions which she posted on Generation Y.
If the President really takes her seriously, he logically now must authorize general licenses for all non-tourist travel and endorse the Freedom to Travel legislation, or at least publicly announce he will sign it.
Excerpt from message by Yoani Sanchez to Chairman Howard Berman:
Faced with no evolution of our current political and social situation, an opening of travel for Americans could bring more results in the democratization of Cuba than the indecisive performance of Raul Castro. The possible measures that the current Cuban president can implement in our reality are geared toward keeping power in his hands. A gesture that would bring about popular diplomacy – that which isn’t done in protocol lounges or foreign ministries, but person to person, face to face, from the intense interaction between people – would awaken citizen consciousness, and would accelerate the sense of belonging to a world community that Cubans lack so much. If restrictions on coming to Cuba are lifted, Americans would again enjoy a right that has been infringed in recent years – that of traveling freely to any latitude without penalty. Cuban citizens, for our part, would benefit from the injection of material resources and money that these tourists from the north would spend in alternative services networks. Without a doubt, economic autonomy would then result in ideological and political autonomy, in real empowerment. The natural cultural, historical, and family ties between both peoples could take shape without the shadow of the current regulations and prohibitions.
Continue reading "Yoani to House Committee: End Travel Ban" »

Support for blogger is sought in Spain

The Foreign Affairs Commission of the Spanish Congress next Wednesday will debate a motion of support for Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez and other oppositionists, the Spanish news agency EFE reported Saturday.
The nonbinding resolution, introduced by Carlos Salvador, a deputy (foto) from the Navarran People's Union, asks Madrid to condemn and help stop the "persecution" Salvador says the Castro government has directed against Sánchez and others. It also asks the Spanish government to help "make visible" the dissidents' activities.
EFE quotes Salvador as saying that in Cuba there has been "no relevant change toward an opening," despite Raúl Castro's promises of reform. The violation of human rights remains "constant," the deputy said.
Salvador believes the Spanish government should maintain a dialogue with Cuba but should not be "the defense attorney" for a regime that does not guarantee the basic freedoms.
Source: Cuban Colada

Ileana Still Needs to Apologize

So I was watching online yesterday's hearing at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The Committee met to hear witnesses and discuss (and sometimes debate) current U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba, which currently prohibits American tourism. I haven't yet finished watching the entire three hour meeting, but had to comment on something I saw that bothered me.

When I have more time I will try to summarize and comment on the other speeches given yesterday. But, if you haven't heard or read by now, yesterday's hearing had one moment that became "highly-charged" as they say [video excerpt above]. This happened when Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [FL-18] directed some controversial comments towards one of the invited witnesses, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey. It should be noted that Gen. McCaffrey is a highly decorated 32-year U.S. Army veteran (three times wounded in action) who also served as "Drug Czar" during the Clinton administration. But, this didn't stop Rep. Ros-Lehtinen from mocking his title, repeatedly interrupting him, and completely misquoting him.

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen began by indicating that she would be quoting from Gen. McCaffrey's statements from an April hearing at the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs. After first deriding with a sarcastic "woo" cheer Gen. McCaffrey's mention that he met Mr. Castro, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen posed several questions aimed to cast doubt on Gen. McCaffrey's professional assessment that Cuba does not pose a serious threat to U.S. national security. At the April hearing, Gen. McCaffery argued strongly that Cuba and the U.S. should be cooperating in matters to combat drug and human trafficking, and terrorist threats. He even mentioned peacebuilding efforts that would consider the training of Cuban officers in order to carry out these cooperative efforts.

But, of course, cooperation with the Cuban government in any fashion (even to protect U.S. interests) is considered heresy to militants like Rep. Ros-Lehtinen. Therefore, yesterday Rep. Ros-Lehtinen had all intentions to ridicule Gen. McCaffrey and his comments from April. But, in the end, just makes a total fool of herself. Lets review.


Rep. Ros-Lehtinen misquotes Gen. McCaffrey from the April hearing where he asserts that the Cuban government is not directly involved in drug-trafficking and drugs that wash up on the shores of the island. She reads a quote that goes:

"... but it was clear to me that they [drugs] were not on a government basis, but part of an international conspiracy to threaten the regime and to threaten their sense of communist morality."

This is what Gen. McCaffrey REALLY said:

"... but it was clear to me that they were not on a governmental basis and part of an international conspiracy. It would threaten the regime, and it'd threaten their sense of communist morality."

[Extended audio excerpt from April, MP3]

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen's inaccurate quote makes Gen. McCaffrey appear to make a defensive argument. But instead he is making an assessment based on his professional review of the intelligence (mentioned in the April hearing), followed by a description based on his several meetings with Cuban officials.


Aside from the several attempts to disparage Gen. McCaffrey's professional expertise, and the reported disrespect by addressing him as "sir" instead of "general," Rep. Ros-Lehtinen displayed a complete lack of respect towards an invited committee witness with repeated interruptions, and making mockery of his title. Below is the heated exchange (Gen. McCaffrey in italics):

- I'm offended by your deliberate marginalization of my viewpoints. And let me go on to say that it is clear in my mind...

- Just quoting you sir.

- It is clear ...

- Are those not quotes sir? Are those quotes, yes or no?

- I'm offended by your language.

- You're offended by your quotes?

- Let me go on to continue to respond by telling you...

- What part of the quotes offend you? Your quotes offend me.

- Are you going to let me answer or you gonna...

- I have my five minutes. I can do with my five minutes what I wish "general."

The lack of respect is shocking. There is no question that Gen. McCaffrey as an invited witness still deserves an apology from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Her show of contempt yesterday was a poor example of how an elected U.S. Representative should act, and she should take immediate steps to apologize for her behavior, if she hasn't already.

(Speaking of apologies, has she ever apologized to Dollan Cannell, the filmmaker who caught her saying something on camera that she later denied and accused Cannell of manipulating?)

Yoani's Husband Attacked

at 1:29 PM Saturday, November 21, 2009
Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez's husband, Reinaldo Escobar -- an independent journalist and blogger in his own right -- was attacked by Castro regime thugs yesterday.

Pursuant to the November 6th assault and abduction of his wife, Yoani, Escobar had challenged -- in a blog post -- her attackers to a "verbal dual" on a Havana street corner.

Apparently, the Castro regime reads Reinaldo's blog (despite censuring it from the remaining Cuban population), for a prearranged group of thugs were waiting for him at the indicated street corner, screaming obscenities, then physically assaulting him.

Take note of the picture below.

Reinaldo (in the purple shirt) is being aided by two colleagues. The white band on his friend's wrist is a CAMBIO band, which means CHANGE.

And that's exactly what the ancient Castro regime is afraid of.

A Question for Congressman Berman

Is this what you want Americans to not only witness in Cuba, but support with their dollars?
Reinaldo Escobar, husband of Yoani Sanchez, gets harassed and beaten at the hands of one of those "impromptu" crowds of "everyday" Cubans that always seem to show up, en masse, on time and with prepared hatred and clenched fists whenever certain Cuban citizens stray from the rigid official Cuban Government line.
Because make no bones about it, American tourist dollars will end up subsidizing these stifling crowds of intellectual cowards of purchased brutality.
This is what you and your congressional colleagues wanting to lift sanctions against Cuba want to ignore and sweep under the rug.
This act of repudiation against a peace loving man, whose only crime in Cuba has been having the audacity to express his opinions, is an affront to human civility. A stain on the human condition and the absolute antithesis of the American Ideal.
These acts of vituperation must not be condoned or rewarded. By eliminating restrictions on travel to Cuba by Americans you send a message to the world and to the Escobars and Biscets in Cuba: Americans no longer care about freedom and prefer to live on the world as opposed to in it.
Update: Via Penultimos Dias, the video of the appalling:

Source: babalú

Cuba: Pandilleros del gobieno atacan a Reinaldo Escobar (video)


Por Jose Montoya.
La Verdad Al Punto

No compartir ideologías quiere decir que tenemos que actuar como pandilleros y criminales, Tanto Yoani Sánchez como su esposo y cualquiera en cuba tiene derecho a expresar su opinión, incluso a reclamar contra cualquier agresión si fuera realizada por quienes representan al gobierno porque es abuso de poder, este acto es repugnante y me recuerda cuando una presidente de Comité en cuba incluso revolucionaria de verdad me tubo que esconder en un closet de su casa porque una turba me buscaba para lincharme como gritaba el líder de la pandilla un jefe de vigilancia de la zona 26 del Cotorro Alias Maleta, estos que ajusticiaban a quienes nos queríamos ir por el puente marítimo del Mariel, esos, no son revolucionarios ni socialistas, son unos pandilleros y criminales que no considero responden a la actitud de un verdadero revolucionario o socialista, la revolución no puede representar una imagen de crimen autorizado ni de terrorismo político ¿Cuál daño podrá realizar alguien que se exprese contra la ideología o forma de gobernar de otros? Un grupo organizado en un sitio manifestándose no representa nada, el desorden y las actitudes criminales si demuestran que se les está hiendo de las manos la integridad revolucionaria y el respeto a la humanidad por lo que se llevó a cabo la revolución que no pertenece solamente a Fidel y Raúl si no a todo un pueblo, nadie tiene derecho a reprimir a aquellos que no comparten con nuestras ideologías o de diferentes parecer, eso no es revolución ni es socialismo, responde a terror y miedo demuestra la incapacidad de sostener la ideología que defienden, con gestos nobles y buena voluntad es que se ganan los méritos y los seguidores, de otra forma responder con pandillas no es la voluntad del pueblo cubano, porque si lo fuera seriamos todos unos criminales dictadores, pasando cuenta y reprimiendo no se demuestra que estén con la causa o la ideología la mayoría del pueblo cubano, si no saben hacerlo les podremos enseñar como hacerlo, utilizando la integridad, la razón y la verdad, la fuerza genera fuerza y la violencia, violencia, más allá de la imagen deteriorada de un sistema que le dice al mundo “Yo prevalezco porque te asesino o reprimo violentamente con mis pandillas”

Es lamentable que hombres como yo comiencen a reaccionar contra las mediocridades y crimines que corrompen la revolución cubana, una revolución que no es propiedad de ningún gobierno de transito, si no del pueblo que la logró, actitud canalla como la realizada contra Reinaldo Escobar nos alerta de muchas cosas, no es humano que incluso los enemigos de la revolución sean atacados como el acto repugnante y criminal que hemos visto y merece la critica y la advertencia de que cuando hombres como José Montoya reaccionan contra una barbaridad como esta, la revolución puede entrar en revolución para defenderse contra los que la mancillan cobardemente.

Si no saben sostener revolución con la con la verdad y tener argumentos que convenzan al pueblo de lo contrario a sus ideologías que no comparten con las que representan al gobierno, acá estamos y allá en cuba también, quienes si la sabremos defender con divinidad y sin violencia, respetando el derecho del hombre, el derecho no da derecho a violar el orden de ninguna forma, solo el derecho violado da el derecho ha manifestarse y reclamar al gobierno los agravios contra el pueblo y que sean reparados, eso es justicia, revolución y socialismo, y no lo que estamos viendo, pandillerismo evidente que nos hace reaccionar frente a tales injusticias y disparidad de poder.

“Abajo los abusos dictatoriales y pandilleros” esos y quienes lo permiten no representan la verdadera revolución cubana.
Fuente: Cuba Nuestra

Agreden al marido de la bloguera cubana Yoani Sánchez
Actualizado Sábado , 21-11-09 a las 09 : 35
Un grupo de personas agredió este viernes en el centro de La Habana al periodista cubano Reinaldo Escobar, marido de la bloguera Yoani Sánchez, después de que éste hubiese retado a mantener "un duelo verbal" al agente de Policía que presuntamente agredió a su esposa el pasado 6 de noviembre, informó a Reuters el propio Escobar.
El periodista, de 62 años, dijo que mientras esperaba en el lugar donde había citado al oficial aparecieron centenares de partidarios del Gobierno gritando consignas en favor del régimen cubano como "Viva Fidel" o "Viva la revolución". "Allí se armó una situación bélica en la que empezaron a darnos golpes, a empujarnos", aseguró durante una entrevista telefónica desde su apartamento en la capital de Cuba.
Según su versión, un grupo de varios centenares de personas se abalanzó hacia él, comenzando a tirarle del pelo, a romperle la ropa y a golpearle con zapatos.
Sin embargo, aseguró que no sufrió heridas. "Después me metieron en un automóvil y me dejaron lejos de allí", agragó. El presidente de Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, elogió esta semana a Sánchez por sus crónicas sobre la vida en Cuba que publica en el blog 'Generación Y' (www. desdecuba. com/generaciony), al que no se puede acceder desde la isla, pero que tiene un gran éxito entre los exiliados cubanos. "Tu blog ofrece al mundo una ventana particular a las realidades de la vida cotidiana en Cuba", escribió el presidente estadounidense. 

EE.UU.: pareja admite que espió para Cuba

Dibujo de Walter Kendall Myers y su esposa Gwendolyn durante un juicio celebrado en junio. Foto: Art Lien
Los espías fueron detenidos tras una operación encubierta.
Un ex funcionario del Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos y su mujer se declararon culpables de espiar para Cuba durante cerca de tres décadas.
Walter Kendall Myers y su esposa Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers, residentes en Washington DC y de 72 y 71 años respectivamente, fueron arrestados por el Bureau Federal de Investigaciones (FBI) por espionaje el pasado junio.
El ex presidente Fidel Castro declaró entonces en una de sus Reflexiones que las acusaciones de espionaje eran una "ridícula historieta".
La pareja, que enfrenta cargos de conspiración por actuar como agentes ilegales del gobierno cubano, llegó a un acuerdo con la acusación, por el cual la mujer no podrá pasar más de siete años y medio en prisión por comunicar información clasificada a La Habana y por haber cometido fraude usando medios electrónicos de comunicación.
Además, tendrán que pagar US$1.7 millones, el total de los sueldos recibidos por Walter Kendall Myers durante sus 24 años de servicio en el departamento diplomático de EE.UU..

Traición al país

El Departamento de Justicia de EE.UU. dijo que ambos tuvieron acceso a información sensible y que traicionaron a su país. Este caso, según el Departamento, refleja que el país sigue protegiendo cuidadosamente sus secretos.
Como explicó el periodista de la BBC Emilio San Pedro, varios documentos analizados durante el juicio sugieren que los Myers sólo recibieron pequeñas sumas de dinero por su trabajo y que más bien habían ejercido como espías por su respeto hacia el líder cubano Fidel Castro y al sistema comunista de gobierno en la isla.
La pareja habría empleado varios métodos para envíar información altamente secreta a Cuba, entre ellos la transmisión de mensajes codificados en morse por radio de onda corta.
Departamento de Estado de EE.UU.
Walter Myers fue empleado del Departamento de Estado de EEUU, y está jubilado.
Walter y Gwendolyn Myers fueron detenidos a partir de la operación de un agente encubierto que los convenció para dar información sobre sus actividades haciéndose pasar por espía cubano.
Los acusados le habrían dicho a ese miembro del FBI que eran conocidos como agentes 202 y 123, que habían conocido personalmente a Fidel Castro y que "el método favorito de la señora Myers para pasar los secretos era mediante el intercambio de carritos de compra en un supermercado".

Larga carrera en Washington

Myers empezó a trabajar para el Departamento de Estado de EE.UU. en 1977 como instructor del Instituto de Servicios Externos, donde tenía acceso a información clasificada como secreto de Estado.
Luego fue ascendido, con lo que obtuvo mayor libertad para acceder a la información. Hasta 1999 trabajó periódicamente para la Oficina de Inteligencia e Investigación del Departamento de Estado (INR, por sus siglas en inglés).
Después pasó a trabajar en esa institución de forma permanente hasta que se retiró en 2007, pero según el Departamento de Justicia, en el año previo a su retiro, Myers utilizó su computadora para leer cerca de 200 documentos sensibles o clasificados relacionados con Cuba.
Myers se había casado con su esposa Gwendolyn en 1982. Ella se desempeñó como analista en un banco de la capital estadounidense y nunca obtuvo autorización para acceder a información de seguridad.
Fuente: BBC.Mundo