Thursday, July 29, 2010

LPP First Draft...

How Many Political Prisoners in Cuba?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010
There's been some discussion lately regarding the exact number of political prisoners in Cuba.

As pro-democracy leader and former political prisoner, Dr. Darsi Ferrer, explains in this interview from Havana -- the numbers are hard to decipher, as are the political circumstances of their arrest, but the truth is likely to be shocking.
Q. You've said you consider Cuba's prisons to be "dens of terror"?

DF: The prisons here are so Dantesque that there aren't words appropriate enough to define their magnitude, even the word terror is insufficient. That is the reason why the Cuban government will not allow the supervision of the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur Against Torture, Mr. Manfred Nowak. It has so much to hide. The U.N.'s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners are not respected in any way and even national laws are violated there every day.

Q. How many prisoners are presently at the Valle Grande facility?

DF: There are 18 units at that facility with a total penal population of around 2,000. You have to remember that it is a prison only for those awaiting trial and for those preemptively imprisoned under cautionary measures from the Havana province alone. Almost every day 80 to 100 prisoners are brought in, which is incredible. And of course, that doesn't include those already sentenced, which are sent directly to other prison facilities. It's alarming the immense number of Cubans that are imprisoned each day. There aren't 100,000 prisoners as has been speculated, there has to much more than 200,000 prisoners. It's such a hypertrophy that the Cuban government must hide it.

Q. So it can be presumed that more than 500 people are imprisoned each week in Havana alone?

DF: I wouldn't say 500 people, I would say many more, for you have to take into account the women's prisons, which are 4 or 5, the prison for young people, and the unknown prison centers dispersed through the city and province of Havana. In Combinado del Este alone there are over 5,000 prisoners. That's why I'm calling upon all of the people and institutions in the world focused on this issue to make an even greater effort to help humanize the Cuban prison system, easing the suffering of hundreds of thousands of prisoners and their families.

Read the whole story at the realcubablog...

Ariel Sigler arrived in Miami and was admitted to Jackson Memorial Hospital
July 28 - Ariel Sigler Amaya, the former Cuban prisoner of conscience who is paralyzed from the waist down after 7 years in Castro's Gulag, arrived at Miami International Airport on Wednesday afternoon to begin receiving medical care at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Siegler was received at the airport by more than 100 Cuban exiles, including Miami's Mayor Tomás Regalado.
"This dictatorship has very little time left, and I think this will be a temporary departure,'' Sigler said.
He entered the US with a humanitarian visa. His wife and kids remained in Cuba.

Cuban dissidents met with Aznar and asked the EU not to change its Common Position on Cuba
July 28 - Spain's former Prime Minister, José María Aznar, met with  a group of Cuban dissidents on Wednesday, including several of those who were released from prison and forced to travel to Spain.
Aznar and the dissidents asked the European Union to maintain its Common Position regarding Cuba, because the Castro regime has not changed.
"For Cuba to change, we have to see the Cubans being able to join in trade unions, political parties, professional associations, speaking freely and expressing themselves at the ballot box in a free atmosphere," said Antonio Ramón Díaz Sánchez, who was part of the group of dissidents who was released from prison and sent to exile in Spain.
Aznar asked for "a democratic regime" for all Cubans and stressed that "the freedom and dignity of people cannot be auctioned."
He asked the EU to maintain its current sanctions against the Castro regime.  Read the entire article at the realcubablog

Warning to all those Americans who want to go to Cuba as tourists
July 27 - After nearly a week of Canadians voicing their outrage and political opponents blasting the federal government for its handling of Cody LeCompte’s Cuban detention, the prime minister has finally heard the teen’s cries for help.
The Simcoe teen’s story, which has appeared in the Sun almost daily since Thursday, has prompted others to step forward with their horror stories, and the Harper government now recognizes there’s a problem.
“We called in Cuban officials today and raised our concerns about Canadians being detained without any charges,” a senior official, who asked not to be named, said Tuesday. “We also asked that these cases be resolved expeditiously.”
It seems that the case of the Canadian teen currently being held in Cuba, is only the tip of the iceberg.
That happens when you go as tourists to a lawless country. Read the entire article at the realcubablog

It's not the embargo, it's the stupid system that doesn't work
July 27 - While a chorus of voices in the U.S. increasingly demand that the Obama administration completely drop its economic embargo and 'normalize' relations with Cuba, such an event would not necessarily positively impact the Communist island – at least not in the near-term.
The physical infrastructure in Cuba and the existing economic system there are so dilapidated that it would take a long time even for a 'free Cuba' to become anything resembling a decent modern economy, according to Dr. William N. Trumbull, interim dean at the College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University in Morgantown.
“Cuba is an utter disaster,” he said. “Their economy is a basket case because of its economic system, not because of the embargo. Lifting the embargo might help a bit, of course, but not by much. The real problem with Cuba is itself.”
 Read the entire article at the realcubablog

The BBC about Fidel no-show and Raul's silence
July 26 - Not since the heyday of Kremlinology has so much been read into the presence, or absence, of a communist leader.
Would Fidel Castro show up at today's Revolution Day celebrations in central Cuba? If so, what would it mean? And if he didn't, what would that mean?
Would Fidel Castro show up at today's Revolution Day celebrations in central Cuba? If so, what would it mean? And if he didn't, what would that mean?
The answer to the first question came when current dictator Raúl Castro and other communist party leaders took their seats for the speeches in Santa Clara – but no Fidel. Read the entire article at the realcubablog

So far, no sign of Fidel and Raúl didn't speak (UPDATED)
July 26 - 1 PM Update - The rally ended with no signs of Fidel Castro and without Raúl speaking.
Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was a no show at the Revolution Day celebration in the city of Santa Clara and his brother Raúl didn't speak at the rally.
According to press reports, about 90,000 people were forced to attend the event.
Another member of the old-guard, José Ramón Machado Ventura, was the main speaker.
As of 9:45 AM the rally is still going, so there is a possibility that the Cuban mummy will make an appearance at the end.

Getting the mummy ready for the July 26 "celebration"

'Locoven' canceled his trip to Cuba because of an "imminent" US aggression
July 25 - Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez canceled his scheduled trip to Cuba tomorrow, because he expects the United States to attack Venezuela using Colombia as a base.
Chávez was supposed to join the Castro brothers tomorrow in Havana, to celebrate the 57th. anniversary of the attack against the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba by Fidel Castro and a group of followers.
Chávez also warned that he may stop supplying oil to the US, "even if we have to eat rocks."
Read the entire article at the realcubablog

"I didn't ask to come to Spain"
July 25 - "I'm not going to Alicante. I'm staying in Madrid. . . . They will have to use the Civil Guard to get me out of here. I didn't ask to come to Spain. The Spanish government made commitments to us [in Havana] and now we feel abandoned," Julio César Gálvez, one of the Cuban prisoners of conscience that were forced to travel to Spain after being released from prison.

Extra,..Extra...The true under the table...

Fidel Castro to release first volume of memoirs

Fidel Castro, the former Cuban president, has announced plans to release the first volume of his memoirs.

Cubans sense change in the air
Fidel Castro (left) and brother Raul Photo: AP
The Strategic Victory, which tells the story of how a few hundred revolutionaries under Mr Castro's command defeated the Cuban army in 1958, will be published in August.
He told Cuban website that the book will include photographs, maps and plans of the guerilla war against the dictator Fulgencio Batista.
Mr Castro, 83, said that he started writing the memoirs after he fell ill in 2006 and handed power to his brother Raul. The book took several months to complete, he said.
The book will include a short autobiography in which the former president details his childhood and describes how he became a guerrilla fighter.
"I did not want to wait to respond to the numerous questions about my childhood, adolescence and youth and how I became a revolutionary and armed combatant", Mr Castro wrote.
After a long period out of the public eye since his illness, Mr Castro, who turns 84 next month, has made seven public appearances in recent weeks, including three televised speeches.

Canada presses Cuba on cases of detained Canadians

Canada presses Cuba on cases of detained Canadians AFP/File – Canada has called in Cuba's envoy to voice concern at the detention of seven Canadians in the Caribbean …

OTTAWA (AFP) – Canada has called in Cuba's envoy to voice concern at the detention of seven Canadians in the Caribbean nation, warning Havana it could lose tourists its economy needs, the foreign affairs ministry said.
Peter Kent, Canada's top diplomat for the Americas, said Ottawa called in Havana's representative in Ottawa to a meeting Tuesday on Canadians now detained in Cuba, including Cody LeCompte, a 19-year-old Canadian man who has been unable to leave after a car accident in April.
Seven Canadians at the moment are either detained or unable to depart from Cuba, a diplomatic source said.
"While aware that Cuban law allows for a lengthy period of investigation, Canadian officials expressed their concern that the investigation into this matter is taking so long," Kent said.
"Canadians have long appreciated Cuba as a tourist destination. The delays faced by Canadians awaiting resolution of such cases could affect the choice by fellow Canadians of Cuba as a tourist destination in the future," he also warned.
Canada is the chief source of tourists in Cuba, ahead of Italy and France. Tourism is Cuba's top hard-currency earner.

Immigration ruling could send message to states

Two woman walk along the U.S.-Mexico border showing graffiti that 
reads "the walls" in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, Tuesday, July 
27, 2010. Arizona's new AP – Two woman walk along the U.S.-Mexico border showing graffiti that reads 'the walls' in Nogales, Sonora, …

PHOENIX – States that had been watching Arizona's immigration law in hopes of copying it received a rude awakening when a judge put most of the measure on hold and agreed with the Obama administration's core argument that immigration enforcement is the role of the federal government.
The ruling marked a repudiation of the Arizona law as U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton indicated that the government has a good chance at succeeding in its argument that federal immigration law trumps state law. It was an important first-round victory for the government in a fight that may not be settled until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in.
But opponents of the law said the ruling sends a strong message to other states hoping to replicate the law. "Surely it's going to make states pause and consider how they're drafting legislation and how it fits in a constitutional framework," Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, told the Associated Press. "The proponents of this went into court saying there was no question that this was constitutional, and now you have a federal judge who's said 'hold on, there's major issues with this bill.'"
He added: "So this idea that this is going to be a blueprint for other states is seriously in doubt. The blueprint is constitutionally flawed."
Gov. Jan Brewer called Wednesday's decision "a bump in the road" and vowed to appeal.
Her spokesman Paul Senseman said the state would ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Thurdsay to lift Bolton's preliminary injunction and to expedite its consideration of the state's appeal.
The key sponsor of Arizona's law, Republican Rep. Russell Pearce, said the judge was wrong and predicted that the state would ultimately win the case.
In her temporary injunction, Bolton delayed the most contentious provisions of the law, including a section that required officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws. She also barred enforcement of parts requiring immigrants to carry their papers and banned illegal immigrants from soliciting employment in public places — a move aimed at day laborers that congregate in large numbers in parking lots across Arizona. The judge also blocked officers from making warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants.
"Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked," said Bolton, a Clinton appointee who was assigned the seven lawsuits filed against Arizona over the law.
Other provisions that were less contentious were allowed to take effect Thursday morning, including a section that bars cities in Arizona from disregarding federal immigration laws.
The 11th-hour ruling came just as police were preparing to begin enforcement of a law that has drawn international attention and revived the national immigration debate in a year when Democrats are struggling to hold on to seats in Congress.
The ruling was anxiously awaited in the U.S. and beyond. About 100 protesters in Mexico City who had gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy broke into applause when they learned of the ruling. They had been monitoring the news on a laptop computer. Mariana Rivera, a 36-year-old from Zacatecas, Mexico, who is living in Phoenix on a work permit, said she heard the news live on a Spanish-language news program.
"I was waiting to hear because we're all very worried about everything that's happening," said Rivera, who phoned friends and family with the news. "Even those with papers, we don't go out at night at certain times there's so much fear (of police). You can't just sit back and relax."
More demonstrators opposed to the law planned to gather on Thursday, with the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the immigrant-rights group Puente saying they would march from the state Capitol at dawn.
Demonstrations also are planned for outside Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office, said activist Salvador Reza.
Lawmakers or candidates in as many as 18 states say they want to push similar measures when their legislative sessions start up again in 2011. Some lawmakers pushing the legislation said they would not be daunted by the ruling and plan to push ahead in response to what they believe is a scourge that needs to be tackled.
Arizona is the nation's epicenter of illegal immigration, with more than 400,000 undocumented residents. The state's border with Mexico is awash with smugglers and drugs that funnel narcotics and immigrants throughout the U.S., and the influx of illegal migrants drains vast sums of money from hospitals, education and other services.
"We're going to have to look and see," said Idaho state Sen. Monty Pearce, a second cousin of Russell Pearce and a supporter of immigration reform in his state. "Nobody had dreamed up, two years ago, the Arizona law, and so everybody is looking for that crack where we can get something done, where we can turn the clock back a little bit and get our country back."
Kris Kobach, the University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor who helped write the law and train Arizona police officers in immigration law, conceded the ruling weakens the force of Arizona's efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants. He said it will likely be a year before a federal appeals court decides the case.
"It's a temporary setback," Kobach said. "The bottom line is that every lawyer in Judge Bolton's court knows this is just the first pitch in a very long baseball game."
In the meantime, other states like Utah will likely take up similar laws, possibly redesigned to get around Bolton's objections.
"The ruling ... should not be a reason for Utah to not move forward," said Utah state Rep. Carl Wimmer, a Republican from Herriman City, who said he plans to co-sponsor a bill similar to Arizona's next year and wasn't surprised it was blocked. "For too long the states have cowered in the corner because of one ruling by one federal judge."
The core of the government's case is that federal immigration law trumps state law — an issue known as "pre-emption" in legal circles and one that dates to the founding of America. In her ruling, Bolton pointed out five portions of the law where she believed the federal government would likely succeed on its claims.
The Justice Department argued in court that the law was unconstitutional and that allowing states to push their own measures would lead to a patchwork of immigration laws across the nation and disrupt a carefully balanced approach crafted by Congress.
Arizona argues that the federal government has failed to secure the border, and that it has a right to take matters into its own hands.
For now, the federal government has the upper-hand in the dispute, by virtue of the strength of its arguments and the precedent on the pre-emption issue. The Bush administration successfully used the pre-emption argument to win consumer product cases, and judges in other jurisdictions have looked favorably on the argument in immigration disputes.
"This is clearly a significant victory for the Justice Department and a defeat for the sponsors of this law," said Peter Spiro, a constitutional law professor at Temple University who has studied immigration law extensively. "They will not win on this round of appeals. They'll get a shot after a trial and a final ruling by Judge Bolton."
Associated Press Writers Paul Davenport and Jacques Billeaud contributed to this report.