Thursday, June 24, 2010

June 24, 2010

Former Cuban prisoner describes his guards' tortures Cuba

Anderlay-guerra-blanco-salio-de-prision-en-agosto-2009Anderlay Guerra Blanco
1-tortura-la-shakira The "Shakira"

In an interview with Cuban independent journalist/blogger Luis Felipe Rojas, former prisoner Anderlay Guerra Blanco describes the tortures he witnessed and suffered as an inmate at the Combinado de Guantanamo prison.
I reproduce it here in its entirety because no paraphrasing would do it justice.
Q – You got out of prison a few months ago, on August 18th, 2009. For how long were you jailed and in which prisons?
A – I spent four years jailed in Guantanamo’s Provincial Prison. The sentence was because of an “illegal attempt to leave the country”. During those four years, I was never transferred to any other prison, so everything I saw and learned about Cuban prisons was taught to me right there, in the infamous “Combinado”.
Q – Did you witness tortures and punishments in Guantanamo’s Combinado Provincial Prison? If so, tell me about them.
A – The prison guards use several forms of punishment against the inmates, but the most humilliating ones are the beatings they give to men who are in handcuffs. From those abuses, the “Shakira” is the most outrageous. Batons and sticks are used to beat the man up, after he has been handcuffed. Then, the inmate is left in a punishment cell for 24 or 48 hours.
Q – “Shakira”, why that name?
A – The “Shakira” is the worst method of torture that I saw in that place. Since the individual is handcuffed with both hands and feet tied to his back, and later is thrown in the dirty floor of a punishment cell, he is left in an extremely uncomfortable position. When he tries to make any movement, the only part of his body that moves are his hips. Can you imagine the irony?
They have established the parallel with the singer that happily dances moving her hips in a very peculiar way, with the way the inmate copes with the pain and the uncomfortable position. I saw men there who urinated and defecated in that position because thye are held like that for 24 or 48 hours. Besides, there are different variations of that same torture. The chain that ties hands and feet can be lengthened or shortened. If they shorten it, the inmate can only rest his chest in the dirty, humid and putrid floor they share with insects and rodents. The decision to stop the punishment comes from the guards when they want to, if the inmate is to much of a “rebel” or if the “infringement” is considered severe, he is left like that for a longer time.
There is even a variation of the “Shakira” where the inmate is literally hung from the ceiling of punishment cell, through the chains that tie his hands and feet. This lacerates the skin, leaving permanent scars in wrists and ankles.
Read the rest below the fold.

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The Disgruntled Longshoremen

Thursday, June 24, 2010
In contrast to the previous post -- with a twist of irony -- this "libertarian communist" blog highlights the story of a longshoremen rebellion that reportedly took place in Havana weeks ago.

Cuba: arrests following "violent disturbances" as starving dockers refuse to load ship
Reports are starting to emerge of violent clashes last week between dockers and secret police in Havana, Cuba over a shipment of rice bound for Haiti, claiming it should stay on the island instead. Below is a translation of an article - date 16th June - being circulated in Spanish:

In the last few days we have been receiving reports of a serious incident that took place in the loading docks in the port of Havana, in which a large group of dockworkers emphatically refused to sanction the departure of a cargo of rice, bound for Haiti. The dockers protested violently, shouting that they were not prepared to assist the loading of the ship when their children were dying of hunger (rice being effectively unavailable in Havana).

Confronted with the refusal of the dockworkers, "political police" arrived at the harbour and detained the most vocal protesters. According to reports, the ship was finally loaded by reservists from the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR).

Seeing as how no "independent journalist" (those who report on the "activities of the opposition") has covered this, we had to find our own means of proving it. Today, having consulted various sources - including residents in the neighbourhoods of some of the detained individuals, such as El Calvario - we can confirm it as true.

The tyranny [dictatorship] has taken a lot of care to ensure that this protest does not spread and - as is common practice - it is blackmailing the prisoners' families into silence, promising that if they cooperate, their detained relatives will be treated leniently. 
S: Capitol Hill Cubans 

Do Detractors of Cuban Catholic Church Risk Further Disunity among Cubans?

Photo of El Cobre, Shrine to Our Lady of Charity, in Santiago de Cuba
Seen from the United States, Cuba often seems such a black or white sort of question: engage them or don’t engage them. Typically, older generation Cuban exiles (who can’t or won’t go back home) and longtime and “neo” Cold Warriors favor squeezing the government in hopes of breaking its back. Younger generations of Cuban Americans, along with conservative and progressive pragmatists, favor engaging the people and even the government of Cuba in order to help foster stability and prosperity as Cuba undergoes inevitable economic and political changes in the months and years ahead. Often the emotions get hot in this debate, dividing no one more than the Cuban American community.
As Carlos Saladrigas wrote in the Miami Herald this week, hard-line Cuban exiles who lashed out at 74 Cuban dissidents who favor American travel to Cuba, “The hard-liners practice an antidemocratic double standard. If they do it, and if they like it, it is good and patriotic. If others do it, it is ``treason'' and ``divisive.'' They behave as if they were the sole voice of the exile and dissident communities.”
But now there is another debate bubbling up, equally divisive, around the Cuban Catholic Church’s dialogue with the Cuban government. Phil Peters hits the nail on the head:
“Usually, the rap against the Catholic Church in Cuba is that it lacks courage, and doesn’t use its position to push for change on fundamental issues such as human rights. Now, the Church is engaged in a dialogue with the government precisely about human rights issues . . . Still, it’s not enough. The shots are coming from Oswaldo Paya in Cuba, and from Mauricio Claver-Carone in Washington. The message is simple: Do it my way or don’t do it at all.”
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Development of constabulary forces in Cuba

Dr. Richard L. Millett, author of the book Beyond Praetorianism: The Latin American Military in Transition (1996) and several works on Latin American militaries wrote a paper for the Combat Studies Institute of the US Army Combined Arms Center entitled, “Searching for Stability: The U.S. Development of Constabulary Forces in Latin America and the Philippines.
In his study, Dr. Millett offers a survey of U.S. military involvement in the training of indigenous security forces in the Philippines and the Caribbean Basin in the 20th century.
He includes a chapter on the U.S. military’s Cuban experience:
The American effort to form a nonpolitical, constabulary must be judged as a failure. In part this was because US control over events in Cuba was always partial and of limited duration. The Cuban political elites played on American desires to withdraw from Cuba and on Washington’s fear of internal disorders first to influence the development of the Rural Guard and then to make it subordinate to a clearly political (and probably unnecessary) army.
The U.S. Defense Department’s conduct of stability operations throughout the world includes training and advising foreign security forces.
Once Castroism is no longer Cuba’s form of government and a pro-democratic transition government is formed by Cubans, the U.S. military could consider “What’s past is prologue” metaphor in Shakespeare’s Tempest with its earlier experience training Cuban security forces in probable future stability ops on the island.
Such training of Cuban forces should ideally instill adherence to the defense of a constitutional republic and subjugated to civilian-control.
Jorge Castañeda’s (former Mexican foreign minister and NYU professor) piece on geopolitics in Latin America and the two competing regional blocs: “Americas-1″—nations neutral to the conflict between the United States and Venezuela/Cuba or are openly opposed to the “Bolivariano” governments of Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela; and “Americas-2″—radical left nations moderately retreating but able to support their positions and defeat any attempts to cut their influence.

Chicago archbishop on visit to Santiago

(cfg) Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, arrived Wednesday in Havana for a two-day visit to Santiago de Cuba, at the invitation of that province's archbishop, Msgr. Dionisio García Ibáñez.
García, president of the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops, was recently in the news as having met May 19 with President Raúl Castro in the company of Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Archbishop of Havana, to discuss the situation of political prisoners.
During his two-day visit, Cardinal George will concelebrate two Masses, one in the Cathedral of Santiago and the other in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity, Cuba's patron saint, near Santiago.
In September 2008, after two hurricanes struck the island, Cardinal George asked then-President George W. Bush to temporarily lift the restrictions on travel and money to Cuba so humanitarian aid could be delivered quickly. His plea was turned down.
[UPDATE: Miguel de la Torre, a professor at Iliff School of Theology in Denver who specializes in Cuban religion and politics, told The Chicago Tribune that George's pastoral visit could carry long-term significance.
"It is up to the religious leaders to begin to deal with the Judeo-Christian issue of reconciliation," De la Torre said. "One of the problems I have with the U.S. embargo of Cuba is that it prevents U.S. citizens from mingling and talking to Cuban citizens. The quickest way to begin to melt this animosity is for the people to begin to talk to each other, and hopefully the government will be able to catch up."]
Posted by Renato Perez at 04:13 PM in Religion, U.S.-Cuba relations
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Castros' sister is ill; it might be lung cancer

Juanita Castro Ruz, (jcr) the 76-year-old sister of Fidel and Raúl Castro, revealed in her blog that she is suffering from a serious illness, the Spanish agency EFE reported Wednesday.
She wrote that, for the past two months, she has experienced "a health condition" that she doesn't identify, a "delicate condition, yes, but I am not at grave's edge." Castro lives in Miami.
"I am in the hands of doctors, receiving the prescribed treatment," she wrote. According to EFE, writer Carlos Alberto Montaner, a friend of Castro's, said that she is suffering from lung cancer.
Castro asked the media and the general public for "understanding and respect for this moment" in her life. To read the entire EFE report, click here. More, from El Nuevo Herald, is here.
Posted by Renato Perez at 10:41 AM in Fidel Castro, Raul Castro
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S:Cuban Colada