Thursday, October 6, 2011

Michael Eastman's Cuba
Oct. 5 - Michael Eastman has established himself as one of the world's leading contemporary photographic artists. The self-taught photographer has spent four decades documenting interiors and facades in cities as diverse as Havana, Paris, Rome, and New Orleans, producing large-scale photographs unified by their visual precision, monumentality, and painterly use of color.
His photographs of Havana show the decay after 53 years of neglect of what was once one of the world's most beautiful cities.
Click here to see his gallery of photos of Havana, including some beautiful mansions that are now completely destroyed.
Michael Putney: Compassion fatigue on Cuba
Oct. 5 - Are we experiencing compassion fatigue on Cuba? I’m seeing signs of it, which doesn’t bode well for Cuba’s brave pro-democracy activists. Or for us. They’re suffering and most of us — along with most of the world — are yawning.
Thousands marched down Calle Ocho two years ago after Cuban human rights activist Orlando Zapata Tamayo went on a hunger strike and died. Now, as prisoners of conscience continue to suffer in the Castros’ jails and pro-democracy dissidents on the outside are beaten and harassed, the response for the most part is a shrug.
But not from South Florida’s three Cuban American members of Congress, who are trying to sound the alarm. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and David Rivera called a news conference last week to demand answers from the Castro government about the whereabouts and well being of three women dissidents picked up by Castro’s goon squad. They were taken into custody Sept. 26 in Havana, held incommunicado and released just this past Monday.
One of the women, Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, is the wife of the well known pro-democracy activist “Antunez,” Jorge Luis García Pérez. In an email he says his wife and the other two women were on their way to “Section 21,” Cuba’s main state security office, to demand information about the health of some political prisoners. Their detention came a day after state security broke up a peaceful march by the Ladies in White.
What does it say about the Castro regime that it feels so threatened by a small group of non-violent, middle-aged women that it sics pro-government mobs and state police on them? Looks to me like a government that watched the Arab Spring and is deathly afraid of a Cuban Fall, literally and metaphorically.
So the Castros and their security apparatus — about the only thing that does work in Cuba — are resorting to the most vile tactics available to stifle dissent. Of course, this is a government that has made “dangerousness” a crime. It is beyond Orwellian.
“Before,” says Ros-Lehtinen, “the modus operandi of the regime was to detain people for just a few hours to send a message, ‘This is repression, you can’t do this.’ Now, they’re actually sentencing the opposition leaders up to five years in jail.” Read more
New media bring the world closer to Cuba
Oct. 5 - Cuban bloggers and dissidents are becoming adept at sending news of protests abroad, but internal communication remains difficult.
When two women at Havana’s Cuatro Caminos market began beating on pots and pans with spoons one day in August, their protest call for freedom echoed around the world.
At least 16 video entries, many of them the same or similar footage, were posted on YouTube and reposted on websites from Miami to Madrid. They showed the women calling out for freedom before police arrived to take them away. As a crowd followed, a rhythmic chant of “ Libertad, Libertad, Libertad’’ began.
Cuban dissidents have long demanded respect for human rights and for just as long, pro-government demonstrators have clashed with them. But what has changed in Cuba — and changed drastically — is that new media are bringing these events to the world almost as quickly as they unfold.
A protest by a group of women on the steps of the Capitolio building in Havana was likewise prime material for videographers, bloggers and Twitter aficionados. Members of the crowd can be seen holding up cellphones to capture the event.
During a meeting of dissidents in Palma Soriano — a small town northeast of Santiago that was a hotbed of protests this past summer — dissident José Daniel Ferrer, watching from a distance, posted tweets as security agents surrounded the home and broke up the meeting with tear gas. Read more

No comments: