Tuesday, December 14, 2010

LPP First Draft...

Quote of the Week

Tuesday, December 14, 2010
"Nothing has changed in Cuba."

-- Joseph Daul, Member of the European Parliament from France, in response to the Castro regime denying dissident Guillermo Fariñas permission to pick up the 2010 Sakharov Award for Freedom of Thought, AP, December 14th, 2010.

Foreign Pressure Works

Monday, December 13, 2010
It's ingenious to think -- that after five decades of brutal rule -- the Castro regime wants to undertake genuine reforms or democratize.

They want to keep totalitarian control forever -- or more precisely, for as long as they can.

Thus, the Castro regime only reacts to pressure. In the same vein, once pressure is eased, the regime emboldens and retrenches.
We saw it pursuant to the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1990's, when the regime scrapped its then-new "reforms" (practically the same ones it's purportedly undertaking now) as soon as European and Canadian tourists (and Hugo Chavez's oil subsidies) bailed it out.

Now, it's looking for China to become its piggy back.

Yet, even the Chinese are frustrated with Castro's derelict regime.
Excerpts from The Financial Times:

Cuba bows to pressure to reform its economy
Rising debt charges are forcing Cuba to reshape its Soviet-style economy, with leading creditor China among those cheering on the changes [...]

In a recent closed-door meeting of 500 senior officials chaired by Raúl Castro, president, Cuba's economy minister, Marino Murillo, reportedly stated that mounting debt and the need for fresh credit had left the government no choice but to put its economic house in order.

Cuba last reported its foreign debt at $17.8bn in 2007. Most analysts agree it now exceeds $21bn, or close to 50 per cent of gross domestic product and 30 per cent more than annual foreign exchange revenues. Many creditors have tired of Cuba's debt reschedulings. China is a relatively new member of Cuba's creditor club, having provided billions in loans over recent years. But it is now Havana's biggest creditor and second largest trading partner, after Venezuela [...]

Cuba is counting on China and Venezuela to provide fresh development credit. Some of its debts to Beijing will be backed by Venezuelan oil as collateral. A diplomatic cable, released by WikiLeaks last week, describes a US diplomat's breakfast meeting with the commercial attachés from Cuba's biggest trade partners. "Even China admitted to having problems with getting paid on time," the cable reported. "[Officials from] France and Canada responded with 'welcome to the club'."

From The European Parliament (on Fariñas)

From The European Parliament:

Guillermo Fariñas unlikely to be able to receive Sakharov Prize in person
Guillermo Fariñas is the winner of this year's Sahkarov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The award ceremony takes place, most likely with an empty chair, on Wednesday, 15 December, in Strasbourg. President Buzek deeply regrets that Mr Fariñas has not been given permission to leave Cuba in order to receive the prize in person.
During the opening of the plenary session president Buzek declared the following with regard to this year's winner of the Sakharov prize:

"On October 21 Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas was chosen as the winner of this year's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Regrettably, Mr Fariñas is experiencing problems leaving the country, even though I made a personal appeal in a letter to the President of Cuba, Mr Raul Castro. We expect that Lady Ashton will take due note of these problems and that she will take this into account in future relations with Cuba. If Guillermo Fariñas were to leave in the next few hours, he could still be here in time to receive his prize".

The Sakharov ceremony will take place on Wednesday as scheduled, at 13.00h.

Guillermo Fariñas is the third winner from Cuba to receive the €50,000 prize, after Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas in 2002 and Ladies in White in 2005.

A doctor of psychology, journalist and former soldier, 48-year-old Guillermo Fariñas's has denounced the Castro regime. He is the founder of "Cubanacán Press," an independent press agency aimed at raising awareness of the fate of political prisoners in Cuba.

Fariñas has spent years in confinement and has gone on hunger strike 23 times so far, a non-violent means of fighting oppression in Cuba. His efforts to secure free internet for all earned him a Reporters Without Borders Cyber-Freedom Prize in 2006.

"Guillermo Fariñas was ready to sacrifice and risk his own health and life as a means of pressure to achieve change in Cuba. I hope to hand over the award to him in person, here in Strasbourg, in December, which would be a tremendous moment for the European Parliament and for all Cuban prisoners of conscience," said Mr Jerzy Buzek, president of the European Parliament.

In July, Mr Fariñas nearly died after a five-month-long hunger strike he began on February 24, following the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a fellow political activist who passed away after 80 days of fasting. He ended the strike after the Cuban government gave in to his plea and released 52 political prisoners.

MEPs backing Mr Fariñas' nomination said his "struggle has been, and still is, a shining example for all defenders of freedom and democracy." José Ignacio Salafranca (EPP, SP) described Mr Fariñas as "the epitome of someone defending peaceful resistance."

December 14, 2010

Roll call lists Cuba dissidents arrested on Human Rights Day

The CIHPRESS news agency has published the names of some 90 Cuban dissidents it says were arrested and/or detained on Dec. 9 or 10, to coincide with International Human Rights Day. At least three of them — Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina, Isael Pobeda Silva and Yanier Jombert Cisneros — remain in jail.
The roll call is:
In Guantánamo province, Néstor and Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, Lomber López Serules, Isael Pobeda Silva, Yordis García Founier, Rogelio Tavío López, Rosaida Ramírez Matos, Enyor Díaz Allen, Roberto González Pelegrín, Francisco Luis Manzanet Ortiz, Randi Caballero Suárez, Emilio Almaguer de la Cruz, Redesmeldo Sánchez Torres, Eliecer Aranda Matos, Elisa Milagro Reinier Acosta, Roberto Pérez Alfonso, Rafael Matos Montes de Oca, Òscar Sabón Pantoja and Yanier Jombert Cisneros.
In Velazco, Holguín, Rafael Leiva Leiva, Jonal Rodríguez Ávila, Manuel Martínez León, José Peña Batista, Arisbel Rodríguez Ricardo, Josué Peña Batista, Carlos Peña Ramírez, Marlenis Leiva Leiva, Joan Blanco Suárez and Julio Pérez Zaldívar, who were reading the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when they were attacked by paramilitaries doing the dirty work of the secret police.
René Hierrezuelo Arafe and Guillermo Cobas Reyes (de Santiago de Cuba), who were arrested in Havana.
In Havana province, Raúl Velázquez Valdés, Lázaro González Pérez, Dolores Eliene Muñís Vásquez (Artemisa) and Enrique Mustelier Turro (Alquízar) who were detained in their homes
In Havana, Hugo Damián Prieto Blanco, Rodolfo Ramírez Cardoso, Juan Carlos Castellano Zamora, Luz María Piloto Romero, Silvio Benítez Márquez, Lilvio Fernández Luis, Arnaldo Herrera Campoalegre, Hermojenes Inocencio Guerrero, Manuel Guerra Pérez, Lisbey Lora Febles, Reinier Vera, Iván Méndez Mirabal, Orelvis Grillo Castañola, Darsi Ferrer Ramírez, Yusnaimi Jorge Soca, Pedro Moisés Calderín, Rubén Pitrín Perón, Pedro Fontanar Miranda, Juan Mario Guillén, René Ramón González Bonelli, Idalberto Acuña Caraveo, David Águila Montero, Bartolo Márquez Acebo, Frank Díaz Aguirre, Carlos Manuel Pupo Rodríguez, William Prior Peña, Jorge Luis Martínez Graveran, Jorge Luis Espino Rodríguez, Carlos Raiko Pupo Morgado, Miguel Amado Reyes Fonseca, Eduardo Pérez Flores, Michel Iroy, Vladímir Calderón Frías, Nairobi Morales Rodríguez and Julio Beltrán Iglesias.
In Güanes, Pinar del Río, Yisel Cruz Montejo, Hugo Prieto Quevedo, Luis Alberto Hernández Álvarez, Yosvani Alonso Brito, Sandino Antonio Andrés Álvarez López and Julio Adonis Castro Martínez, Denis Díaz González, Nilo Justino Padrón Padrón, Osniel González Cid, Julio Adonis Castro Martínez and Antonio Andrés Álvarez de Manuel Lazo, Lázaro Caridad Porra Vilas and Ernesto Antonio Obregón.
Under house arrest in Havana, Carlos Ríos Otero, Bárbara Sendiña Recarde, Georgina Noa Montes, Marjori Moreno Noa, Vladimir Alejo Miranda, Ernesto Artiles Tosco, Juan Carlos Bous Batista and Armando Santana Cumbrado.
In San Antonio de los Baños, Juan Gilberto Hernández Molina, Irino Morales Gutiérrez, Guillermo Flores Vázquez, Sergio Julia Negrín, Lían Escobar Díaz, Omar Lorenzo Pimienta and Osmani Ramos Vega de Alquizar, Emiliano Vignote Arias, Francisco Rubalcaba Martínez, Eulice Vignote Arias and Damari Martínez Lían.

LPP Archive...

Cuba's Repressive Machinery: Human Rights Forty Years After the Revolution


This report was written by Sarah A. DeCosse, researcher with the Americas division of Human Rights Watch, on the basis of research she carried out between 1997 and 1999. Anne Manuel, deputy director of the Americas division, contributed research and writing to the chapter on international policy and edited the report. José Miguel Vivanco, executive director of the Americas division, Joanne Mariner, associate counsel at Human Rights Watch, and Jeri Laber, senior advisor to Human Rights Watch, also edited the report. We received help with the research and production of this report from Megan Himan, Jessica Galería, and Monisha Bajaj, associates with the Americas division, as well as several interns, including Amanda Sussman, Ariana Grebe, Loren Becker, Shadi Aryabod, Carina Cristovão, Jessica Baumgarten, and Sarah Carey. Special thanks to Steven Lee Austin for his assistance in the production of this report.
We are indebted to all of the Cuban former political prisoners, family members of political prisoners, human rights activists, independent journalists, labor rights activists, and others interviewed for this report. We especially appreciate the willingness of those living in Cuba to speak to us. We also are grateful to Giselda Hidalgo and Amado J. Rodríguez of Human Rights in Cuba for their valuable assistance. We would like to thank David Nachman, board member of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch, who interviewed Cuban Justice Minister Roberto Díaz Sotolongo for this report.
The J.M. Kaplan Fund provided generous support for the translation of this report into Spanish. The report was translated by Juan Luis Guillén.


Over the past forty years, Cuba has developed a highly effective machinery of repression. The denial of basic civil and political rights is written into Cuban law. In the name of legality, armed security forces, aided by state-controlled mass organizations, silence dissent with heavy prison terms, threats of prosecution, harassment, or exile. Cuba uses these tools to restrict severely the exercise of fundamental human rights of expression, association, and assembly. The conditions in Cuba's prisons are inhuman, and political prisoners suffer additional degrading treatment and torture. In recent years, Cuba has added new repressive laws and continued prosecuting nonviolent dissidents while shrugging off international appeals for reform and placating visiting dignitaries with occasional releases of political prisoners.
This report documents Cuba's failures to respect the civil and political rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as well as the international human rights and labor rights treaties it has ratified. It shows that neither Cuban law nor practice guarantees the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration. Cuba's obligation to respect the declaration arises from its incorporation into the United Nations Charter, rendering all member states, including Cuba, subject to its provisions. The UDHR is widely recognized as customary international law. It is a basic yardstick to measure any country's human rights performance. Unfortunately, Cuba does not measure up.
Repression of Dissidents
Cuban authorities continue to treat as criminal offenses nonviolent activities such as meeting to discuss the economy or elections, writing letters to the government, reporting on political or economic developments, speaking to international reporters, or advocating the release of political prisoners. While the number of political prosecutions has diminished in the past few years, Cuban courts continue to try and imprison human rights activists, independent journalists, economists, doctors, and others for the peaceful expression of their views, subjecting them to the Cuban prison system's extremely poor conditions. Even as Cuba released some political prisoners early in 1998 most of whom had completed most of their sentences continuing trials replenished their numbers. Prison remained a plausible threat to any Cubans considering nonviolent opposition. In the case of four dissident leaders arrested in July 1997 and only tried for inciting sedition in March 1999, receiving sentences ranging fromthree and one-half to five years, the arbitrariness of Cuban repression was starkly on display. (  Click Here for More Info )

Wikis and Update New...

Is Cuba's prisoner release a step to democracy?

09:44 UK time, Thursday, 8 July 2010
The first seven of 52 political prisoners released by Cuba are flown to Spain with their families to start a new life in exile. It is the largest prisoner release by the communist authorities for decades. Is this a 'new era' for Cuba?
The Cuban government has been under pressure to free dissidents after hunger strikes by prisoners such as Guillermo Farinas. Their release follows talks in Havana with officials from Spain and the Roman Catholic Church. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, in Havana, said the move "opens a new era in Cuba".
Cuba has always denied that it has political prisoners, calling them mercenaries paid by the United States to undermine Havana's rule. Laura Pollan, of dissident group Ladies in White, whose husband is a political prisoner, said Cuba was at "the first steps of a true democracy". But the Cuban Commission on Human Rights claims there are still 110 political prisoners in Cuban jails.
What is your reaction to the release of these prisoners? Does this signal a change in the way Cuba is governed? Is this a step towards democracy? 

Cuba Puts Dissident Punk Rocker on Trial

Singer faces four years in prison for openly defying the revolution and deriding the communist government Cuba is to charge a punk rocker today with "social dangerousness" because his songs denounce and deride the communist government.

Gorki Aguila, lead singer of Porno para Ricardo, faces up to four years in prison for openly defying the revolution and scorning Fidel and Raul Castro as "geriatrics".

The 39-year-old has been in police custody since Monday and was due to appear at the Playa municipal court in western Havana to be charged with subverting "communist morality".

The case has triggered protests from artists and human rights groups. Supporters were due yesterday to assemble at Havana's Malecón promenade to protest. "We invite everyone to gather and shout Gorki," said the band's website.

Police arrested Aguila at his home where he was completing a new album provisionally called Geriatric Central Committee, a reference to the aging leadership.

Formed 10 years ago as part of an underground music movement, Porno para Ricardo is banned from official airwaves.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, an illegal but tolerated group, said the singer had infuriated the authorities with some of his latest lyrics but had not violated the law. "Gorki Aguila has not committed any specific crime as defined by the current criminal code," it said in a statement.

The first trickle of open publicity came from an article by Jack Mabley with the Chicago American. He wrote a column on July 26, 1960, in which he attacked Robert Welch and the John Birch movement. However, I did not see any further public criticism of the group until the Communist Party ordered the annihilation of the John Birchers six months later.(Read More Click Here)


Q: What is capitalism?

A: The control of commodities (goods and services) through corporations that produce only to make profits for their shareholders (the capitalist class). In contrast, socialism is the control of commodities through a government that produces only to serve people (the working class).

Q: Rich people deserve to be rich because they work harder. Why should they give up their money?

A: Capitalists gain their wealth from the labor of others--not from their own work. The workers who actually create the wealth-by picking the crops or assembling the engines, for example-should get a fair share of the wealth they create. Why should someone be a millionaire, with three houses, a private plane, and the like when other folks can't even afford enough to eat?

The End of Democracy?

Around the world, authoritarianism is on the rise, and the West seems powerless to oppose it

The End of Democracy?
Earlier this month a Russian court acquitted three men accused of involvement in the 2006 murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Politkovskaya’s writing had exposed Russian human rights abuses in Chechnya, and she had been detained on occasion by the Russian military as a result. The end of that court case followed the murder of Stanislav Markelov, another critic of the Russian government who had represented many victims of Russia’s security services. He was gunned down on the streets of Moscow in January. Anastasia Baburova, a 25-year-old student and journalist with Novaya Gazeta, a newspaper that is often critical of the Kremlin, and for which Politkovskaya also wrote, was shot dead when she tried to help. She was the fourth Novaya Gazeta journalist murdered since 2000. ( More Info Click Here )

Cuba: Police state or democracy?

By Marce Cameron

It’s not surprising that we tend to associate Cuba with the word “dictatorship” rather than, say, “democracy”. This is not because Cuba really is a dictatorship, but because most Australians form an opinion of socialist Cuba based on how Cuba is portrayed in the corporate media.
Media ownership in Australia is concentrated in the hands of a few billionaire families. According to capitalist ideology, media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer have earned their wealth through hard work, ingenuity and good fortune. But you can’t earn a billion dollars through hard work. The fortunes of the obscenely rich come from profits, and the source of capitalist profit is the exploitation of workers — in this case workers in the media and entertainment industries.
The media tycoons wield enormous political influence, the kind of influence that can bring down governments. The role of Venezuela’s corporate media in the short-lived CIA-backed military coup against the leftist government of Hugo Chavez on April 11, 2002, is a classic example. For all their pious chatter about defending democracy and opposing dictatorships, Venezuela’s corporate media revealed which side they’re really on, as retold in the 2002 documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.


Cuba launches its own online encyclopedia

By Shasta Darlington, CNN
December 14, 2010 1:24 p.m. EST

A street in the Cuban capital Havana -- one of the longest entries
 in EcuRed is about the former Cuban president Fidel Castro.
A street in the Cuban capital Havana -- one of the longest entries in EcuRed is about the former Cuban president Fidel Castro.
  • Users can update entries on the site if they're approved by administrators
  • One of the longest entries is about Fidel Castro
  • The site says the U.S. has taken territory and resources from other countries by force
Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- Cuba is launching its own version of Wikipedia Tuesday with an online encyclopedia that describes the United States as the "empire of our time."
The site EcuRed, at www.ecured.cu , already has nearly 20,000 entries. One of the longest is about former leader Fidel Castro, the founder of the Cuban Revolution.
EcuRed was up Monday and early Tuesday ahead of its official launch, but appeared to be down later in the day, apparently because of too much traffic.
According to the site, its goal "is the accumulation and development of knowledge with a non-profit, pro-democracy aim from a decolonizing point of view."
Users approved by EcuRed administrators will be able to update entries, and the site will be available to all Internet users in Cuba -- an estimated 1.6 million out of a population of 11.2 million.
EcuRed describes the United States, Cuba's Cold War foe, as "the empire of our time, which has historically taken territory and natural resources from other nations by force, to put at the service of its businesses and monopolies."
Floods threaten Cuba
La Habana / AP
Posted: 12/14/2010

The coast of Havana and the entire west coast of the island are on alert for possible flooding with the arrival of the sixth season cold front. The director of the Forecast Center of the Institute of Meteorology of Cuba, Jose Rubiera reported waves of three and four meters high on the Malecon of Havana.
So far, authorities in Havana decided to close all the emblematic Avenida Malecón de La Habana, stretching over seven miles. 

The Malecon of Havana looks like this

New anti-terrorism rules hamper the importation of Cuban cigars

Frenan importación de puros cubanos
Cuban cigars are brought from Europe due to the embargo against the island. Still, their importation is prohibited.
The Associated Press

From 2.000 to 100.000 cigars confiscated

CHICAGO, Illinois - One unintended consequence of fight against terrorism has angered some fans pure: terrorists in Yemen tried to send bombs to the United States cargo planes and now an expert in Iowa can not get their cigars come from Switzerland.

Tighter controls and restrictions Department of Homeland Security established postal items last month unintentionally hampered the common, though illegal, practice of ordering Cuban cigars from European distributors.

As  result of new regulations, officials said that seizure of cigars from the Caribbean island's best _considerados world, but illegal in the United States since the implementation of the embargo 1963_ trade in Cuba have skyrocketed.

The increase has been most evident in Chicago, a center of the national network of air cargo. Usually, customs at O'Hare Airport seized approximately 2.000 pure every two weeks. However, in the last two weeks have been  confiscated more than 100,000, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

"These new rules make it more difficult this traffic," said Brian Bell, a spokesman for the agency in Chicago.

The  Seizures in Chicago and plans to destroy confiscated cigars have  created turmoil in the U.S. community of smokers cigars, and some of them have expressed their outrage. Salons  Conversation website of the magazine Cigar Aficionado (Fond of cigars) are flooded with dialogues seizures, and many users complain how difficult it has become purchase cigars.

But luxury stores, which for decades have complained about the arrival of Cuban cigars praised seizures.

"Some  gentlemen who order their Cuban cigars now I say 'go, I'll having to buy more cigars in your store, '"said Chuck Levi, owner  Iwan Ries & Co, a cigar business in Chicago. "That pleases me."

A  setting thwarted terrorist plot in Yemen in October sparked the new procedures. The terrorists hid bombs inside two printers and went to the former homes of two synagogues in Chicago, possibly in an attempt to blow up two aircraft burden on the United States.

The new federal rules adopted  in November include the prohibition of receiving any postal charge from Yemen. Federal officials also said Additional revisions will be many packages, but have not reported what these new procedures.

One of the reasons why  which many cigars are being seized in Chicago is a new almost completely rule prohibiting the sending of international packages on passenger aircraft bound for the United States.

Since there less planes, European suppliers have had to stack hundreds of packets before getting aboard a space freighter Bell said. Once the inspectors located one or two packages pure, it becomes apparent that the rest of which are similar containing the same, he added.
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