Freedom of expression
Forbidden Voices’: Female bloggers fight for freedom of speech By Hazel Pfeifer, CNN May 3, 2013 — Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Globe-trotting Cuban activists sway world opinion BY MIMI WHITEFIELD mwhitefield@MiamiHerald.com
At least a half dozen Cuban activists are now crisscrossing the globe, more or less at the same time, publicly airing their grievances against… Continue reading
Posted on April 15, 2013
This past Tuesday, the Cuban authorities finally acknowledged Calixto R.
Martinez Arias's right to go free, after he had served more than six
months in prison, initially for the crime of "insulting the leadership
figures of the Revolution." He had no trial.
Martinez Arias twice engaged in what is known in the post-1959 history
of Cuban political prisoners as "taking a stand" (literally, "planting
oneself"): he declared a hunger strike. In the first, he went 33 days
without eating, the second, 22. Until, after the second strike, it was
reported by state security that his case had been reviewed and they had
"understood" his demand for freedom.
"I started the first hunger strike to protest my stay in the Combinado
del Este prison," Martinez Arias said. "I also refused to wear prison
garb. When an inmate declares a hunger strike, the guards use many
methods to make them quit. The first thing they say is that you are
committing a disciplinary infraction, which hurts your eiligibility for
rights such as conditional parole, and for family and conjugal visits.
And ultimately they take you to the infirmary where the doctor will take
your vital signs and issue you a "suitable cell" notice, which means
just that: you are fit to be taken to the punishment cells."
"The punishment cell measures about 6 by 8 feet. It has no light. It has
a "Turkish" toilet, and a water basin you can access twice a day, when
the guards allow. There were days when they refused me water because a
captain who claimed to be the second-in-command of Building 3, where I
was detained, said that I could not drink water and took it away from me.
"By day you have to lie on the floor or stand. To that end, they remove
the mattress. They left me my clothes, but took away anything with which
I might cover myself. I spent very cold days, especially during the
first strike. The cells are very wet and very cold, deliberately
prepared to be that way. There were times when I had to sleep sitting on
the floor, up against the wall, because the guards would come very late
to give me the mattress. Lying on the floor you can contract a lung
disease from the cold and moisture. The floor is very dirty because the
cells are not cleaned. There are many insects: enormous rats, droves of
cockroaches. It is a sacrifice that you have to make, convinced that it
is all designed to psychologically torture you.
"During the second hunger strike, of 16 days, they took me to what they
call 'the increased' area, which is more severe. Then they took me out
of there after one day to an even harsher cell. There the conditions
were more brutal. They kept a surveillance camera on me at all times;
they never turned off the light."
In the second hunger strike, Martinez Arias started bleeding profusely
from his gums and his teeth began to fall out. He lost 45 pounds. But he
says: "I became a lot stronger."
The "Official Organ of the Communist Party of Cuba," the newspaper
Granma, on Wednesday April 10, published an account of the "good
conditions" in which prisoners live in Cuban jails. Regarding this,
Martinez Arias said:
"This is an absurdity. I can assure you that they began preparing this
article in December. In the month of December they informed us that
journalists from the national and foreign press accredited in Cuba were
going to visit the Combinado del Este prison. Major Rodolfo, who is in
charge of the building where I was, a building for 'pendings,' explained
to us that the visitors would not be given access to our building
because of the appalling conditions. Prisoners there live in a state of
overcrowding, because every day many 'pending' prisoners enter.
"It also has many leaks, and the bathrooms are in an extremely
unsanitary condition. The building should be declared uninhabitable.
Rodolfo explained that he was not going to take visitors there, because
of these conditions, and that this was not a bad decision because, and I
can almost quote him verbatim, 'when a visitor comes to your house, you
want to show him the best, not the worst parts.' For that reason, he
said, they were going to repair a wing of building No.1. The foreign
media should not be allowed to have access to the punishment cells. In
fact, in none of the pictures they showed are these cells seen."
In Cuba, the exercise of the right that everyone has to seek, receive,
and distribute information, by any means of expression, without
limitation by borders—as stated in Article 19 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights—may be considered a crime. But on occasion,
to put an independent journalist in prison, as in the case of Martinez
Arias, the authorities bring charges of common crimes against him, to
deflect the political nature of the arrest.
On September 16, 2012, Martinez Arias had been inquiring of some
terminal-workers near Jose Marti International Airport about a batch of
medical aid provided by international humanitarian organizations to
address the outbreak of cholera and dengue and that, because of official
mismanagement, had spoiled.
On leaving the airport, as he and others took shelter from the rain,
perched on the benches of a bus stop to avoid the puddles, a patrol car
arrived and gave them all tickets; but Martinez Arias was transferred to
the police unit of Santiago de las Vegas on the charge of being
"illegally" in Havana, having an address of the province of Camagüey.
Martinez Arias claimed in his defense that "the brothers Fidel and Raul
Castro are natives of the province of Oriente."
"Immediately" said the self-described activist "the police handcuffed
me, took me to a dark hallway, and beat me hard."
The police who detained and beat him then accused him of "insulting the
figures of the leaders of the revolution." He was automatically moved to
the Valle Grande prison, and from there, as punishment for continually
denouncing through his colleagues the human rights abuses of the prison
population, he was taken to the maximum-security Combinado del Este prison.
During the first hunger strike, State Security informed Martinez Arias
that the prosecutor's petition stated that he had been "insulting" and
"resistant", for having offended a policeman.
"If I had reacted during the beating they gave me by dodging a blow, or
by landing a defensive blow to the policeman who was giving me the
beating, I would have been accused of 'attacking,'" Calixto said. Police
in Cuba can feel "offended" and "attacked" if you don't react with
absolute passivity to their arbitrariness and brutality, and then they
fabricate the charges of "insult" and "attack", respectively, resulting
in the person's imprisonment.
Martinez Arias believes that the visibility conferred by having been
declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, together
with the solidarity of human-rights activists, independent journalists
in Cuba, and many foreign media with the participation of Cubans living
abroad, managed to send a message to the government of Raul Castro that
a person imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression
is not alone, and you cannot keep them in prison subjected to cruel,
inhumane, and degrading treatment without paying a high political cost
that limits your room to maneuver with impunity.
*Translator's note: Literally "the planted one"
Translated by: Tomás A.
This post appeared originally in Cubanet.org
12 April 2013
http://translatingcuba.com/calixto-the-resolute-lilianne-ruiz/ Continue reading
Posted on April 8, 2013
2003 was an incredible year. Harassment, arbitrary detentions, acts of
repudiation and verbal assaults against the opposition by the government
There was an escalation by the government against peaceful dissidents
and independent journalists. Castro called a referendum to shore up his
olive-green socialism. It was a response to the Varela Project petition,
which had been submitted to the National Assembly by the opposition
figure Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas. The petition was backed up by more than
ten thousand signatures and, following procedures enshrined in the
constitution, called on the legislature to undertake constitutional reforms.
In 1999 Castro had promulgated Article 88, a legal hodgepodge that
mandated sentences of more than twenty years for dissidents and
independent journalists under the pretext they were undermining the
Fidel Castro himself appeared on television and read a list with names
of opposition figures who allegedly had contact with diplomats from the
United States and the Czech Republic.
One could see that something was brewing in the sewers of power. The
regime's attacks in the media were missiles specifically directed at
opposition leaders Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, Martha Beatriz Roque, Oscar
Elías Biscet, and the poet and journalist Raúl Rivero.
Months before the raid on dissidents, a furious Fidel Castro threatened
the opposition in a speech at the Karl Marx Theater. "Don't say later
that you were not warned," he told them. "We will not allow mercenaries
to carry out their work with impunity, though we won't kill butterflies
with cannon fire."
On March 18, 19 and 20, 2003 violent lightning raids were launched on
the homes of more than eighty dissidents across the island, marking the
beginning of surgical detentions intended to destroy the opposition.
It was a well-designed move. The international press corps was lining up
to go to Iraq, where all signs indicated that war was imminent.
According to Castro's calculations, the administration of George W. Bush
would soon be bogged down in a costly and exhausting war with the
dictator Saddam Hussein.
It did not happen that way. In a devastating offensive lasting little
more than a month, troops from the United States and its allies pulled
down a statue of the tyrant in Baghdad. In spite of the clamor of war,
the imprisonment of dozens of the island's opposition figures did not go
unnoticed by the world's press.
International criticism was considerable. The government in Havana had
not anticipated such a reaction. Some of Castro's friends such as
Portuguese writer José Saramago and Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano
criticized the detentions. Saramago's reaction was extreme. "This is as
far as I go," he said, abandoning ship and the fellow travellers who
supported the bearded Cuban.
Initially up to a hundred dissidents were detained. Later the number was
reduced to seventy-five. Settling accounts like an old wine merchant,
Castro's calculations were based on the assumption that the Bush
administration would negotiate the release of 'his mercenaries' by
exchanging them for the five Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States.
To Castro this seemed like a reasonable exchange — fifteen "wretched
worms" for each spy. Perhaps he was thinking back to 1961 when Kennedy
exchanged baby food and cereal for more than two-thousand anti-Castro
fighters imprisoned on the island after the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
The move came back to bite him. It was a crude political error. World
leaders demanded the dissidents' freedom, and the United States and the
European Union further tightened the screws on the economic sanctions
Castro upped the ante. Taking advantage of the case of three Cubans who
had commandeered a transport vessel, he decided to send a message to
frighten the population. At the time, in their eagerness to reach the
Florida coast, people were escaping any way they could. At a summary
trial three black youths, who were living in poor neighborhoods of
Havana, were sentenced to death.
It was bad. Dissidents and ordinary Cubans alike thought Castro had lost
his mind. Meanwhile, dissidents and independent journalists like us
lived in a constant state of anxiety. I walked around with a spoon and
toothbrush in my back pocket.
I felt that at any moment I could be arrested. Luckily, this did not
happen, though the phone was cut off for several days. We were all
afraid. I still remember a distressed Blanca Reyes, wife of Raúl Rivero,
describing his arrest and subsequent detention.
The evidence against him consisted of his articles and poems, an
Olivetti typewriter, books by universally acclaimed authors and photos
of his children, friends and family members. He was arrested in his
apartment in La Victoria, where he had lived since his wedding. It is a
rough neighborhood, a breeding ground for hookers, pimps and hustlers.
People with no future who do not enthusiastically applaud Castro's
rants. It was in one of these poor central Havana neighborhoods where
the disturbances of August 1994, known as the Maleconazo, the Malecon
uprising, broke out.
On the afternoon of March 20, when Raúl Rivero was arrested, the street
was filled with neighbors and onlookers. When he was put into a Russian
car, his hands shackled as though he were a terrorist, some outraged
neighbors began to shot "abusadores" and "libertad."
Ten years after the Black Spring, efforts to destroy opposition groups,
independent journalists and alternative bloggers have increased. Those
of us who have worked for democracy and freedom of expression press on.
Here we are.
Photo: Neighbors from the block where Raúl Rivero lived — on Peñalver
between Franco and Oquendo streets in Central Havana — witnessing the
arrest of the director of Cuba Press, an agency for independent
journalism established on September 23, 1995. Among its founders are
Iván García and Tania Quintero.
6 April 2013
http://translatingcuba.com/when-fidel-castro-wanted-to-break-up-the-dissident-movement-ivan-garcia/ Continue reading
Blogger Yoani Sánchez gets by with a lot of help from her friends
By MIMI WHITEFIELD And ANDRES VIGLUCCI
For more than six weeks, dissident Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez has
crisscrossed the Atlantic, making a splash and garnering accolades as
she hopscotches between high-profile events in Brasilia and Amsterdam,
Mexico City and New York, Washington, D.C. and Miami, with an eloquent,
unvarnished plea for freedom of expression in her homeland.
But how has this woman with limited Internet access at home in Havana,
few high-powered connections, no organization and limited financial
resources pulled off a grueling, attention-grabbing itinerary across
three continents that would challenge even the most savvy road warrior?
As it turns out, the same way she has managed to make a living in Havana
and cultivate hundreds of thousands of Internet and Twitter followers
around the globe: by plugging into an extensive, informal network of
dedicated supporters who for years have translated her blog and helped
Sánchez get her reports on life under communism out to the world — and
also by improvising like mad.
In Brazil, where she launched her world tour on Feb. 18 after the Cuban
government granted her permission to travel, pro-Castro protesters threw
fake dollar bills at the blogger and shouted she was being underwritten
by the CIA. Others claimed she was being paid thousands of dollars a
month by the Inter-American Press Association, a Miami-based
organization that advocates for freedom of the press in Latin America.
IAPA officials roundly deny the claim.
The reality appears to be far more prosaic.
Sánchez, whose husband and teenage son stayed at home, has no entourage,
no minder, no professional travel planner. She has done nearly all her
international flying by herself, friends and supporters say.
Some of the stops on Sánchez's tour have been the result of
seat-of-the-pants planning undertaken by her grass-roots supporters, who
helped her take advantage of longstanding invitations from colleges and
universities, human-rights groups, journalism organizations and tech
conferences to cobble together a schedule and find funding for plane
tickets and hotels.
Her flight from Havana to Brazil was covered by business supporters of a
film festival that planned to screen a documentary in which she
appeared. Another film festival took her to Prague. A Mexican university
paid for her travel to Mexico City. The IAPA put up Sánchez, volunteer
chair for Cuba of the group's Freedom of the Press Committee, at its
three-day conference in nearby Puebla, IAPA Director Julio Munoz said.
Her flight from the Netherlands to Miami? Paid for by her sister Yunia,
a pharmacy tech who emigrated from Cuba two years ago, friends and
supporters said. Her Miami point person? Her brother-in-law, José
Antonio García, who does have some local connections because he works
for the Miami-based Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba, an independent
spinoff of the Cuban American National Foundation, though leaders say
neither group funded her visit.
"There was no grand plan or scheme going on here,'' said Maria Werlau, a
Cuban exile activist in New Jersey who hosted a dinner for Sánchez and a
group of her collaborators, most of whom had previously met only on the
Internet. "Everything was pretty much put together on the fly.
"She does not have a staff. She could probably use one,'' Werlau said,
It was Werlau who helped organize one of the highlights of Sánchez's
tour — her visit to the United Nations, where a protest by the Cuban
delegation forced the blogger to meet the U.N. press corps in a cramped
hallway. Werlau said she set it up by cold-calling the U.N. news
correspondents' group, which eagerly took up the offer to have Sánchez
"She is a celebrity in some circles,'' Werlau said.
Sánchez, who has often fielded skeptical questions during public
appearances about how she managed to finance and organize the tour, has
been emphatic in saying she hasn't taken any government money.
In fact, says Ted Henken, who coordinated her New York and Washington
visits, he advised another Cuban blogger , Orlando Luis Pardo, who
accompanied Sánchez on part of her itinerary, to say no to a Washington
tech conference co-sponsored by the State Department because it would
have covered his expenses.
But because some of the institutions and organizations that hosted
Sánchez may receive government funding, Henken, a professor of Latin
American Studies at Baruch College in New York, said it's impossible to
say categorically that absolutely no public funds have gone into
underwriting her tour.
But, he added, "To the extent that she can prevent it, she doesn't take
any government money.
"We care about image and we care about reality,'' said Henken, who is
also president of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy.
Lost in the mail
Henken turned to the Cuba Study Group, which supports a peaceful
transition in Cuba and has previously aided the association in funding
U.S. visits by Cuban scholars, for financial help. Study Group
co-chairman and Miami businessman Carlos Saladrigas said some of his
members came up with $6,000 to $7,000 for a car and driver in New York
and Washington and some lodging and air fare. The Cuba Study Group, he
said, receives no U.S. government funds.
So careful has Sánchez been about the source of trip financing that she
demurred upon learning that a Miami event to which she was invited was
being billed as a fundraiser for the Foundation for Human Rights in
Cuba, the group that employs her brother-in-law and receives U.S.
government funds. She agreed to attend only after the event, at the
Coral Gables Country Club, was scaled down and attendees, including Bay
of Pigs veterans and CANF members, were asked to pay only the cost of
putting it on, organizers confirm.
Mary Jo Porter, a Seattle transportation planner who has been
translating Sánchez's popular and award-winning Generacion Y blog into
English for five years, laughs at claims that the U.S. government is
paying for her translation work or the tour.
The job of translating the blog into more than a dozen languages, she
said, is done by volunteers such as a couple in Japan who own a
furniture shop, a Dutch lawyer and a Polish woman living in California.
A couple living outside Montreal, former Cuban journalist Aurora Moreira
and her husband, Chilean-born Camilo Fuentes, run and maintain Sánchez's
blog site, Henken said.
"We're all waiting for our check from the CIA,'' joked Porter, who flew
to New York last month at her own expense to meet Sánchez for the first
time. "It's been lost in the mail for five years.''
Though Sánchez has been repeatedly awarded international prizes and
frequently invited to speak at conferences and academic institutions
around the world, the Cuban government had consistently denied her
permission to travel. That changed with recent immigration and travel
Henken said he contacted Sánchez as soon as she tweeted that she had
received her passport, asking where she wanted to go and what she wanted
to do. She relayed a list of goals that included visits to colleges and
universities, news organizations and Washington. Also on the list: a
visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
New invitations soon began pouring in from all over the world, he said.
U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, a Cuban-American Democrat, and Democratic Sen.
Bill Nelson were the first to invite Sánchez to visit Congress, but she
insisted on seeing a bipartisan group, Henken said.
Henken and other volunteers began blocking out a schedule around planned
events sponsored by groups that had long sought Sánchez's participation,
including an Amnesty International film festival in the Netherlands, a
Manhattan symposium on the impact of digital technology on Cuban society
that was jointly sponsored by the New School and New York University,
and the IAPA's Puebla conference.
Tech groups and conferences in particular have asked her to speak on her
use of Twitter and other cyber-tools to spread news and information and
circumvent official censorship.
"You notice she is crossing the Atlantic over and over,'' said Porter.
"That's because the way the whole trip came together was based on other
people's dates on events they had planned. That's why she's not making a
logical progression around the world. It's exhausting for her.
Everything was so crazy and last-minute and unplanned.''
So exhausting was the pace, in fact, that on Thursday Sánchez canceled
public appearances in Miami, tweeting that she had lost her voice.
During the New York and Washington visits, meals were often on the run,
Porter said — including a plateful of cheese and crackers someone
grabbed for Sánchez during an interview at CNN so that she could eat in
the car en route to another appointment. Often they did not sit down to
eat until evening, usually at a supporter's home or at a thrown-together
event such as a dinner at the D.C. home of the editor of Foreign Policy
magazine, which has published many of her pieces.
The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank that also published a long
piece by Sánchez and had previously invited her to speak, scrambled to
host her on short notice too, Porter said. "They literally changed
people's schedules to do it,'' she said. "A lot of this for Yoani was
also honoring the people who were working with her all along, all these
people who have been working and working and working to make the reality
of Cuba visible.''
Sánchez also wanted to visit groups that had awarded her prizes,
especially the ones that came with cash attached, Henken said.
Her first stop, Brazil, was selected because she had a long-standing
invitation from Brazilian filmmaker Dado Galvão to appear at a screening
of his documentary, Conexão Cuba-Honduras. A group of Brazilian
businessmen supporting the festival where the film was to be screened
covered her airfare and picked up her food and lodging, said Galvão. He
also raised additional funds through his blog.
After protesters harassed her at the airport when she arrived in Brazil,
and later forced the cancellation of the film screening, a Brazilian
hotel association presented her with a couple of nights of free lodging
at a Rio de Janeiro hotel, Sánchez said during an appearance at Miami's
Freedom Tower. A Cuban in Salvador gave her an iPad3.
Two Brazilian legislators invited her to speak before an ad hoc
committee in the Chamber of Deputies. The National Congress paid for her
ticket from Salvador to Brasilia and then from Brasilia to São Paulo,
said Deputy Otavio Leite, who extended the invitation to Sánchez along
with Sen. Alvaro Dias. In São Paulo, Sánchez stayed at the home of Jaime
Pinksy, head of the publishing house Editora Contexto.
In the United States, some logistics and support came from Raices de
Esperanza (Roots of Hope), a privately funded group that seeks to
empower young people in Cuba. Its members sponsored a breakfast and
reception while Sánchez was in New York and also organized a Miami event
with the Knight Foundation, where she answered questions that arrived
"We haven't directly financed her trip or travel. We just took on the
costs of the events,'' said Raul Moas, executive director of Raices de
After a couple of needed rest days with her sister's family in Miami,
Sánchez revved up again. García, her brother-in-law, put together an
intense itinerary that included a meeting with Miami Herald and El Nuevo
Herald editors and reporters, her Miami coming-out at Miami Dade
College's Freedom Tower, and a tech talk at Florida International
"Much like Yoani's message, which is viral and organic, so too were the
logistics for her visit, which were coordinated through a handful of
regular, everyday people,'' said Juan Mendieta, a spokesman for the
college, in an email. "It was very grass-roots, and we're extremely
pleased with how everything turned out."
Next up: Peru and after that, possibly, Argentina. Then it's off to
Europe for the third time before her expected return to Cuba in mid to
late May, supporters say. "The trip is still evolving,'' Porter said.
During the Freedom Tower talk, Sánchez addressed her funding and said
money and prosperity are sensitive topics for the Cuban government.
When a Cuban, through talent or solidarity with others, starts to move
beyond the "survival level,'' she said, "that starts to bother the
government and it starts questioning the integrity and moral ethics of a
"The Cuban government says I am a millionaire — yes, a millionaire in
friends," she said.
McClatchy correspondent Vinod Sreeharsha contributed to this story from
Read more here:
http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/04/06/v-fullstory/3327812/blogger-yoani-sanchez-gets-by.html#storylink=cpy Continue reading
Published April 5, 2013 By Peter Adamu
Suddenly, there is an outbreak of visits to Cuba by senior Zambian
government officials. Some sort of cordial and warm relationship is
emerging. There is a strong bond, from the looking of things, being
created between Zambia and Cuba.
The last a check-list was done, the closest the Zambian government came
to bonding with Cuba was some obscure newspaper presence of the private
owned Post stationed in that country.
However, in a space of two three months, two top figures of the ruling
Patriotic Front are already flirting with Havana – Cuba's capital.
Sports minister Chishimba Kambwili and other government officials are in
Cuba for whatever exchange programme it is.
Wynter Kabimba – the Minister of Justice and the Patriotic Front General
Secretary – traveled to Cuba for what should understandably have been a
bilateral visit some eight weeks ago.
Take note; Kabimba is the Chief Executive of the PF while Kambwili is
National Youth chairman of the ruling party. These are not just mere
positions but postings that give the two gentlemen sufficient leverage
to command policy direction of the party.
While in Cuba, Kabimba made damming statements against the West. He
called them imperialists. He was full of praise for Cuba and countries
like Venezuela and Bolivia where leaders have stayed in power beyond two
terms through manipulation of their constitutions and its own people.
There is no doubt. No one can question the fact that Cuba has some good
record in medical school. It also offers some impressive record in
sports – especially boxing although their coaches recently deployed to
Zambia have left without nurturing a single world-class boxer.
Anyway, that is as much as Zambia can attempt to learn from this island.
And if that is what Zambia wants to learn, technocrats – not Kabimba and
Kambwili – are better placed to undertake any form of exchange programmes.
But if its Kabimba going to Cuba, it's politics and that is where we are
getting it all wrong. Kabimba made strange but real pronouncements
stating permanent support for Cuba and its policies while committing
Zambia to learning from this country. In a way, he was trying to be a
Robert Mugabe that he is not and will never be.
However, from that trip, there seems to be a policy direction that aims
to portray Cuba as Zambia's 'messiah'. This is very interesting.
Before the PF were elected, Kabimba never took time to visit Cuba or
even promote the 'angelic' image he now sees in Fidel Castro's country.
Kabimba and the PF have gathered some false courage to go and denounce
the west in Cuba. Before long, Kambwili is in Cuba. This should ring a bell.
And take a look at this; for over 50 years, Cuba has been ruled by Fidel
Castro in a communist type of governance. Until 2008 when he was
indisposed, Castro – revered as the Great Leader after indoctrinating
his people – ruled Cuba with an iron fist.
He has since passed on the baton to his brother Raul. Yet this is not a
kingdom of Mwata Yav or King Mswati. Simply put, the transition of power
from Fidel to Raul was reminiscent of a family dynasty. And this is
where Kabimba wants Zambia to draw its lessons. In so doing, he is
suggesting that in an event and for whatever reason, President Sata
cedes power today, his son Mulenga will not be a bad idea to take over
in the interim. Could this be one of the lessons from Cuba?
Look here; Fidel Castro outlasted nine US presidents before he
relinquished his position as Cuba's president and Washington's
irritant-in-chief. This is the man Kabimba wants Zambians to eulogise.
In Zambia's humble 48-year-old history, it can at least boast of having
five democratically elected presidents. This is not the case with Cuba.
Zambia is currently ranked miles better than Cuba in terms of press freedom.
The present ranking places Cuba at 171 while Zambia is 72nd. Cuba's
peers in press freedom are countries like Sudan and Eritrea. This is
where Kabimba, inspired by the demagoguery ideas of Fred M'membe, wants
Zambia to draw its inspiration.
It is an open secret that M'membe hero-worships Fidel. He is a fan of
the Cuban dictator. On face value, the Post Newspaper owner postures as
a communist. In reality, he is a capitalist who thrives and wants to
compete with teenagers by riding Hollywood styled automobiles such as
He preaches protection and respect of humanity but practices non.
M'membe, the chief PF propagandist and President Sata's unofficial chief
advisor, practices nothing of what he preaches. But because of his
fanatism of Cuba, it should now be a model to Zambia and Kabimba says, yes.
M'membe has gone on a warpath with countries like South Africa and its
President Jacob Zuma for apparently giving President Rupiah Banda an
opportunity to give his side of the story on the on-going persecution.
Zuma has been a subject of M'membe's misguided attacks while Kabimba and
Kambwili are heading to Cuba to draw inspiration from the dictatorship
of Fidel Castro. It's no wonder Zambians are experiencing a return to a
one-party state. Very soon, coupons will be introduced to buy mealie
meal like the case was in Kaunda's era. It will not be surprising if the
only option to vote is between Sata and a frog. Yes, this has happened.
And everything points to Cuba where the opposition does not exist,
freedom of expression is only a preserve of the ruling class supporters
and the transfer of power is woven in a family dynasty.
If this is the route Kabimba, Kambwili and PF are taking, one thing they
ought to know is that Zambians are watching. For now, including their
M'membe, none of them enjoys presidential immunity.
Whatever business they are doing in Cuba on behalf of Zambia, their
actions will be called to question when the right time comes. For this
and many other reasons, Zambia does not need to learn governance from
Cuba. At least, Zambia can do without Cuba but not without a key partner
like South Africa.
http://zambiareports.com/2013/04/05/opinion-zambia-needs-no-lessons-from-cuba/ Continue reading
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
Published: March 31, 2013
MIAMI — Yoani Sánchez, the Cuban dissident whose trenchant blog and
Twitter posts have made her a cause célèbre for democracy on the island,
lingered on the edge of the sea wall at La Ermita de la Caridad, Miami's
shrine for Cuban exiles, and looked toward home.
"Me siento como en Cuba pero libre," said Ms. Sánchez, summing up her
first day in Miami last week. "I feel like I'm in Cuba but free."
With that, Ms. Sánchez officially cemented her bond with the old guard,
the city's Cuban exiles.
On Monday, despite her anticipated return to Cuba and her opposition to
the economic embargo, Ms. Sanchez will take the stage at the Freedom
Tower downtown — a haven where hundreds of thousands of Cubans in the
1960s and 1970s were first processed as refugees and handed slabs of
industrial cheese and Spam. Among those expected to greet her will be
veterans of the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion — standard-bearers of
the dwindling hard-line generation — and the newest Cubans, those who
see increased contact with the island as a path to progress.
It was not too long ago that Cuban-Americans here rolled out the red
carpet only to defectors who disavowed their homeland and stayed in
America. But Ms. Sanchez, a journalist who will return to Cuba to join
her husband and son, has offered up an alternative narrative for both
the disenchanted in Cuba and the hopeful in Miami, one forged over the
"This is transcendent," said Eduardo J. Padrón, the president of Miami
Dade College, which is sponsoring the event, recalling his own arrival
at the Freedom Tower as a 15-year-old. "There is incredible agreement
here that she symbolizes the voice of a free Cuba. Her visit has proved
that all of us can agree, regardless of the means, on the ultimate goal."
Ms. Sanchez said in an interview Friday that the warmth of the welcome
she has received here has exceeded her expectations. "I am finding Cuba
outside of Cuba," she said, in Spanish. "I was raised in Cuba and
indoctrinated that the exiles were the enemy, that they had betrayed the
country. And here I am, seeing Cubans preserving Cuba, preserving the
culture, the history, the music."
Working from her Havana apartment, Ms. Sanchez, 37, has spent years
writing dispatches on the island's stifling contradictions, the
absurdities of everyday life under the Communist system and the lack of
freedom and human rights. The Internet and the USB drives that Cubans
use to share information have been her chief ally.
She named her blog Generación Y, a nod to Cubans her age who were given
names beginning with Y at a time when the Soviet Union held greater sway
over the island. The blog receives millions of hits a month, the vast
majority from people outside the island because Cuba restricts Internet
access. She also has 459,000 Twitter followers.
Ms. Sanchez has been arrested, detained, beaten and harassed for
speaking out against prohibitions on freedom of expression and freedom
of the press. She is fond of saying that the rights of citizens are not
gifts from the government but, as the phrase makes clear, "rights" that
For five years, Ms. Sanchez tried to obtain permission to travel outside
of Cuba but was denied until now. President Raúl Castro recently
eliminated travel restrictions for many Cubans and the government chose
to grant her permission to travel, too. Her 80-day tour has brought her
to three continents, where she has given speeches and received a string
of awards and recognitions.
Rosa de la Cruz, one of Miami's most prominent art collectors, said that
two years ago she dedicated a room in the museum-like building that
houses the de la Cruz Collection to videos of Ms. Sanchez. The
collection also hands out copies of Ms. Sanchez's book, "Havana Real."
"She is a positive person, not a negative one," said Mrs. de la Cruz,
who supports the economic embargo but also views the push for human
rights in Cuba as paramount. "And it's important to be positive. It has
been very difficult for her to do this in Cuba. And she has said if she
had to do it again, she would do it again."
Natalia Martinez, the communications director for Roots of Hope, a
network of 4,000 young professionals who work to help young people in
Cuba, said Ms. Sanchez spoke often about the need for a diversity of
opinion and emphasized the importance of empowering Cubans on the island.
Technology is one way to punch a hole, Ms. Sanchez says often. So she
asks for a flood of cellphones and USB sticks and other devices.
"She addresses the fact that there is a lot of hurt, a lot of pain,
associated with the Cuba issue, and she doesn't dismiss it," Ms.
Martinez said. But, she said: "Cuban-Americans have more opportunities
to be involved in Cuba now than they had before, and Yoani has come to
symbolize some kind of joint agency between them. That resonates here."
Ms. Martinez added, "She is focused on building a narrative about the
Over the weekend, though, Ms. Sanchez grappled with a far less ambitious
agenda: She spent time in Miami with her sister, her brother-in-law and
niece. It has been two years since her sister left Cuba for Miami.
"For two years I haven't been able to hug them," she said.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/01/us/yoani-sanchez-cuban-dissident-welcomed-in-miami.html?_r=0 Continue reading
Photos posts Photos
Posted 30 March 2013 12:00 GMT
Written byEllery Roberts Biddle
The car accident that killed democracy advocate Oswaldo Payá has been
shrouded in mystery and misinformation since it happened in eastern Cuba
Payá, who dedicated his life to promoting human rights and democratic
governance in Cuba, died along with his colleague, advocate Harold
Cepero. Angel Carromero and Jens Aron Modig, European politicians who
were visiting Cuba to support Payá's efforts, survived the crash.
Oswaldo Paya, at his home. Screenshot from video by Tracey Eaton, taken
with photographer's permission.
Oswaldo Paya, at his home. Screenshot from video by Tracey Eaton, taken
with photographer's permission.
While state press and Cuban officials [es] reported that Carromero, who
was at the wheel, lost control of the car and hit a tree, rumors of a
second car began to circulate. Though the two Europeans survived the
crash, weeks passed before either survivor gave an account of the
accident. Having endured decades of harassment and threats on her
father's life, Payá's daughter Rosa Maria publicly stated that she
suspected foul play. Cuban authorities charged Carromero with vehicular
manslaughter; he was put on trial in October, found guilty, and
sentenced to four years in prison. Carromero also delivered a statement,
before the press, confirming authorities' version of the story.
Given that the passengers killed in the accident were in the back seat
of the car, the claim that the car crashed into a tree seems unlikely.
This month, Angel Carromero, who served jail time in Cuba and was then
(with assistance from the Spanish government) granted permission to
complete his sentence in Spain, gave an interview to The Washington
Post. The newspaper's website does not specify who conducted the interview.
In this new account of the accident and its aftermath, Carromero
describes being followed by a series of strange cars, the last of which
crashed into the back of the car, killing Payá and Cepero, who were
riding in the backseat. Carromero recalls being taken to a hospital and
later asked to sign the "official" account of the accident and recite
the account before members of the press.
Carromero says that military officers intimidated him, suggesting that
he would face further trouble if he did not stick to the official
version of the story.
One of them told me that what I had told them had not happened and
that I should be careful, that depending on what I said things could go
very well or very badly for me.
He also describes meager prison conditions and claims that while he was
in the hospital, personnel unnecessarily sedated him. He believes this
may have caused his memory of the incident to lapse.
Phil Peters, US-Cuba policy expert and author of The Cuban Triangle, is
doubtful that those following the case will find Carromero's account
…[Carromero's] conduct to date has frustrated those that most want
to pin Paya's death on the Cuban government, and the presentation of the
case – slow, late, and piecemeal, with Modig consistently useless – has
limited its impact. My strong guess is that skeptics of both accounts
are not going to get satisfaction.
Carromero claims that when they saw a vehicle following them, Paya and
Cepero said it was "from 'la comunista.'" Peters notes that this
doesn't sound right — Cubans do not colloquially refer to authorities
this way. "La comunista" would be a pretty general way to refer to just
about anyone in Cuba, a Communist country.
Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo says he has no
reason to believe Carromero. Spanish daily El Pais notes that the
Spanish government has handled the case delicately, likely in the
interest of preserving Cuba-Spain relations and protecting other Spanish
citizens who are awaiting trial in Cuba.
Havana Times reports that García-Margallo has said that Carromero should
present this information before the court. At his trial, Carromero gave
what he now claims was a false description of the accident.
Havana Times blogger Harold Dilla also expressed skepticism about
Carromero's account. He noted that people on all sides of the incident
seem to have given accounts and spread information that is not entirely
truthful– the lack of impartial, thorough reporting on the incident has
made the situation all the worse. Dilla wrote,
The unfortunate death of Oswaldo Paya is another example of the
morbidities that come with the lack of information openness in Cuba and
the lack of independent response channels.
Although the Cuban government acted to provide rapid and
technically supported information on the facts of the incident, I don't
think it was sufficient for anyone, if we consider that Paya was always
considered an enemy and harassed accordingly.
Dilla also supported the Paya family's request for an independent
investigation of the case and argued that "the Cuban government should,
in the name of decency, be obligated to allow that."
Many have called for an independent investigation of the accident; the
Payá family has sought assistance on the matter from the United Nations.
But even this may be a challenge. Agustín López casts doubt [es] on the
efficacy of such an effort
¿Qué tribunal internacional tendrá la suficiente potestad para
realizar una investigación imparcial y por qué métodos obtendrán pruebas
periciales que no sean fraudulentas? ¿Se dignara algún cubano que
conozca la verdad a arriesgar la vida en una transparente declaración?
What international court will have sufficient power to conduct an
impartial investigation and what methods will be used to obtain credible
evidence that will not be fraudulent? Will any Cuban who knows the truth
to deign to risk his or her life by making a transparent statement?
In the wake of the accident, a diverse range of Cuban voices — even
those who didn't agree with Payá — expressed appreciation for his
efforts to push for reform on the island. Payá was internationally
recognized as one of Cuba's most pragmatic, forward-thinking advocates
for freedom of expression, freedom of association, and other fundamental
rights on the island. For Payá's family and those who supported his
work, it is unfortunate that his death has been marked on all sides by
layers of misinformation and mistrust.
http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/03/30/crash-that-killed-cuban-democracy-advocate-still-shrouded-in-mystery/ Continue reading
Published on : 29 March 2013 - 4:02pm | By RNW Latin America Desk
For over a decade, the Cuban government refused to allow one of the
world's best known bloggers, Yoani Sánchez, to travel abroad. When
Havana finally loosened travel restrictions for Cuban citizens, Sánchez
was one of the first to take advantage of the change, embarking on an
80-day 10-nation tour. One of the countries she visited was the
Netherlands, a stopover arranged by Amnesty International and the Dutch
film festival "Movies that Matter" .
by Alejandro Pintamalli
Yoani Sánchez also visited RNW's Latin America department at our new
premises in Hilversum. She answered questions t readers had posted on
our Spanish-language Facebook page web site. "I don't feel like a hero",
she said. "My knees tremble. I'm a coward who is trying to do
something. These are times for cowards."
Sánchez responded to dozens of questions posed by our worldwide audience.
Julio César Díaz in Chile: who finances your trips and luxury products?
I love this type of question because it helps me refute a lot of lies. I
live in a country where you can't ask those in power a question like
this. No one can ask the president where he gets the money to buy luxury
products. In my particular case, I'm able to travel because of
solidarity. I flew to Brazil thanks to the money I collected from
Brazilian bloggers. I was then invited by academic institutions and
humanitarian groups, such as Amnesty International and various
universities in the United States. Everywhere I've gone, I've been fed,
hugged and given a place to sleep. I'm going to Florida soon using a
ticket which my sister has been saving up for for the past two years.
So, that's it basically: solidarity, solidarity and more solidarity.
Maruss Khievick in El Salvador: How much does the CIA pay you to promote
your biased project, financed by the worst human rights violators in the
I haven't received a penny from the CIA. I think this accusation is
ludicrous. The day I find out that the CIA is planning to do something
evil in Cuba, I'll be the first person to condemn them.
Harold Tupaz in Colombia: Is there so much hunger in Cuba that you sell
your fatherland for a McDonald's hamburger?
I don't like McDonald's. I like pineapples and Cuban bananas. I think
this question just adds to the confusion which I am trying to clear up.
The confusion is that Cuba is about a single party, man, government or
ideology. Criticising the government is not the same as criticising
Cuba. Cuba is much more than that: it's huge, plural and diverse.
Ana Brus in Holland: I went to Cuba in 2000. Has the country changed
since then, and in what way?
I think it has. Cuba is changing, and the thing that gives me a lot of
hope is that people are changing on the inside. More and more people
dare to speak out and do things. Technology has helped a lot to bring
about this change from silence to criticism. People are expressing
themselves on Twitter, in blogs and through videos. These small changes
in recent years are also creating a space for private initiative. People
now think: 'OK, I'm going to stay here and see if I can make a living
through my own sweat'. So, yes, things are changing, not because of the
politicians, but because of civic pressure.
Luis Chaura in Florida: Would you like to be the president of Cuba?
No way. I want to devote myself to journalism, to the media. I'd like to
set up a newspaper. Besides, in the Cuba of my dreams, presidents won't
be important. Power will be transferred to the people.
Gabril Delpino in Cuba: what would you do if they barred you from
returning to Cuba?
If they did, I would get on the first raft to the island. No one is
going to prevent me from going back to the country where I was born and
where I want my grandchildren to be born. The island doesn't belong to
Lázaro Díaz in Miami: After such a long journey and having complained so
often, aren't you afraid that the Cuban government might take reprisals?
Of course, I'm afraid of reprisals, but I've seen the monster's face.
Francisco Javier in Spain: Why is your blog's server blocked at times
and why isn't it possible to speak about American policies in your blog?
It gets blocked because we're the victims of a lot of attacks by
hackers. This hasn't been confirmed, but we believe that the attacks
come from the University of Computer Sciences on the outskirts of
Havana. In November 2012, my site was attacked 15,000 times in a single
month. Regarding US policy, it was on the eve of the last elections,
people were leaving comments on my blog expressing their support for one
candidate or the other. So we said, 'this is a blog to speak about Cuba'.
Raúl Cerverio in Spain: how much money would you need to make a
newspaper in Cuba? Millions would have to be sent to Cuba, thereby
partly breaking the economic embargo.
For a virtual newspaper , the only thing you need is talent and stories
to tell. We have an abundance of both. I don't know how that would
translate in euros and cents, but it would need millions in terms of
talent. We're a team of people who want to tell our reality using the
technologies at hand. It wouldn't be a print newspaper, so it wouldn't
be very expensive. It wouldn't be sold, so we wouldn't get rich doing
this. That's the initial idea. As far as the embargo is concerned,
everyone knows that I'm extremely critical of it. I'm not critical to
help the Cuban government, but to help my country.
Martín Guevara Duarte: Freedom of expression, to read and associate,
have to go hand in hand with the freedom to establish companies and
trade. In China, people are free to make money, but the country
continues to strictly control freedom of expression and the right to get
involved in politics. In Cuba, Raúl Castro appears to be moving in the
same direction. What do you think?
Yes, exactly. It seems that the government wants to create a model with
a form of economic and political liberalisation. But for a number of
reasons I don't think it's going to work. It's taken them too long. They
started going down this path very late. Cuban society doesn't only want
prosperity. It wants freedom of expression. The other reason is an
unshakeable truth, a truth that's like a stone, a mountain: the leaders
who came to power during the revolution are dying off. I don't think
they have enough time left to introduce the Chinese model in Cuba.
Gabriel Delpino in Cuba: How did you lose your tooth? Is it true that
that happened when you were in prison? A friend of mine doubts that
version of events. She says you're a drama queen.
I think we Cubans are quite melodramatic. Our national history is a
mixture of that. Don't forget that soap operas originated in Cuba. Fidel
Castro used many dramatic touches to hypnotise the nation. Personally, I
try not to talk much about my painful journey. It has been long and full
of incidents. I prefer the path of joy.. all the wonderful events I've
experienced. I lost a tooth when three female police officers were
trying to forcibly undress me in a room. I don't try to show off the
fact that I lost that tooth. A smile is never incomplete. It's a smile.
http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/controversial-cuban-blogger-answers-tough-questions Continue reading
Three Cuban women speak out
For the first time in more than 50 years, Cubans in exile have been able
to see firsthand the work of three of the bravest women opposing the
• Yoani Sánchez, who arrived in Miami on Thursday, has won numerous
awards for her Generation Y blog and for depicting life under Cuba's
communist regime 140 characters at a time on Twitter. Her work has been
translated into 20 languages and has more than half a million followers.
She is now in the midst of a world tour proclaiming the importance of
freedom of expression. She has been met by throngs of sympathizers as
well as organized groups of pro-Castro thugs. Most exiles have applauded
her, although a few have criticized her opinion that lifting the Cuban
embargo should be negotiated.
• Berta Soler is in Madrid, Spain representing the Ladies in White,
Cuban women who have been gathering on Sundays at churches throughout
the island to walk peacefully to demand the release of all Cuban
political prisoners. They have been doing so for 10 years, since the
Cuban government in 2003 jailed 75 Cuban dissidents, provoking what many
call Cuba's Black Spring. Soler will be in Miami in May to be honored by
the University of Miami.
• Rosa María Payá is also in Madrid. She is the daughter of one of
Cuba's early dissidents, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, leader of Cuba's
Christian Liberation Movement. He died in a car crash late last year.
Rosa María Payá and the car's surviving occupants point to phone
messages that indicate he did not die in an accident, but rather that a
Cuban state security car forced them off the road and into a tree. Payá
has met with leaders of the Spanish government to ask that they formally
demand that the United Nations conduct an investigation into her
The three women have distinct personal opinions of the situation in Cuba
and how change should come about. None of them or, for that matter, any
of the growing group of dissidents, criticizes another or says that her
views are the best and only ones that should be considered.
This is precisely the view of Facts About Cuban Exiles (FACE), founded
in 1982 to promote in a civil way the facts about the hundreds of
thousands of Cubans who have left the island in the more than 53 years
that Fidel and Raúl Castro have been in power. The civility of these
women in their peaceful dissent is admirable.
We in exile do not need to agree with everything each one of them says.
People have the right to disagree. That is what living in a free society
is all about. But when we disagree we must do so in a civilized and
We welcome these women's valiant efforts to portray life in Cuba despite
all efforts by the island's repressive regime to quiet them.
FACE members are thrilled by their upcoming presence in Miami. We, as
will thousands of other exiles, welcome them knowing that we are
honoring the brave face of dissidence in Cuba. Together, they are
bringing Cuba closer to true freedom than at any point in many decades.
Cesar Pizarro, chairman, Facts About Cuban Exiles, Miami
http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/03/29/3313747/three-cuban-women-speak-out.html#storylink=misearch Continue reading
Posted on March 22, 2013
Thank you, Mr. President.
My name is Rosa Maria Payá, member of the Christian Liberation Movement
and daughter of its national coordinator, Oswaldo Payá, opposition
leader and Sakharov Prize laureate of the European Parliament.
My father dedicated his life to working for legal and nonviolent change
for Cubans to enjoy all basic human rights.
He promoted the Varela Project, a referendum supported by over 25,000
citizens, who have defied repression to demand legal reforms that
guarantee freedom of expression, freedom of association, free elections,
freedom of nonviolent political prisoners and the right to own private
The government has so far refused to allow this plebiscite, and it
imprisoned the majority of its leaders.
Yosvani Melchor Rodríguez is 30 years old, and has spent three years in
prison as a punishment for his mother being a member of our movement.
Cuban authorities said that my father and Harold Cepero, a youth
activist, died in a traffic accident. But after interviewing the
survivors, we confirmed that their deaths were not accidental.
[Cuban delegate Juan Quintanilla starts banging on his desk.]
President of the Session (UNHRC Vice President Luis Gallegos Chiriboga,
ambassador of Ecuador):
There is a point of order from the delegation of Cuba.
Cuba (Juan Quintanilla):
Thank you, Mr. President. I apologize for the noise in the room but
it was necessary to interrupt the statement by the mercenary who has
dared to come to this room. We would like to ask, Mr. President, if this
debate on Item 4 refers to general questions that may show a pattern of
violations of human rights, or whether it is also to be used to address
specific issues such as what is being done now by the mercenary, who has
been taking the floor at this juncture. We have this concern, Mr.
President, and we would be very grateful if you could clarify things for
us and if you could show this to the mercenary who is delivering a
statement. Thank you.
Thank you Mr. President. We highlight that the US firmly believes
that NGOs must be permitted to speak in the Council. The member states,
including the United States, may occasionally disagree with the content
of a NGO statement. It is essential that civil society voices be heard
here in an atmosphere of open expression. Without addressing the
substance of what the speaker was saying, we are of the opinion that
what we have heard of the intervention so far is addressed to the
subject matter at hand before this Council under item 4. Mr. President,
we respectfully ask that you rule that the speaker be allowed to finish
her presentation. Thank you.
China: Thank you, Mr. President. The Chinese delegation believes that
the concern of the Cuban delegation is valid. I hope, Mr. President,
that you will seriously consider the request by the Cuban delegation.
Russia: Thank you, Mr. President. Our delegation would like to support
what is being said by the delegation of Cuba, objecting to the procedure
being used for conducting the meeting. We would like to ask you to
appeal to the representative of the NGO which is speaking to adhere to
the established rules of procedure for the Council and the agenda as
established. Thank you very much.
Pakistan: We support the point of order raised by the Cuban delegation.
Nicaragua: My delegation is asking for the floor to support the request
put forward by Cuba in its point of order. Thank you very much.
Belarus: Mr. President, the delegation of Belarus joins the well-founded
statement on the point of order and procedural issues as raised by the
delegation of Cuba. Thank you.
President: I would like to remind the organizations that are speaking
that we are on Agenda Item 4, the human rights situations which require
attention in the Council, and that they confine to that subject matter
in their statements.
[Paya then resumed her statement.]
Thank you, Mr. President.
The driver of the car told the Washington Post that they were
intentionally rammed from behind. The text messages from the survivors
on the day of the event confirm this.
The Cuban government's state security calls my family home in Havana,
saying: "We're going to kill you." These are the same death threats that
were made to my father. I want to be clear: The physical integrity of
all members of my family is the responsibility of the Cuban government.
Today I wish to present this appeal, signed by 46 political leaders and
activists from around the world. We urge the United Nations to launch an
independent investigation into the death of my father.
The truth is essential to the process of reconciliation that is
necessary for a transition to democracy in Cuba. We do not seek revenge.
But we have a right to know:
Who is responsible for the death of my father?
When will the people of Cuba finally enjoy basic democracy and
Thank you, Mr. President.
At the end of the general debate, Cuba took the floor again to exercise
a right of reply.
Cuba, exercising right of reply:
An anti-Cuban mercenary addressed the Council today to try to blame
the Cuban government for the death of her father, who died last year in
a car accident. This mercenary was accredited by United Nations Watch, a
reactionary NGO without any credibility. Nobody takes it seriously and
it only works for the service of the United States.
Rosa Maria Paya is a created, invented individual — financed and
promoted by the US government. She has close relations with the US
Interests Office in Havana, which she has visited on many occasions.
As regards to the alleged facts, nobody in their right mind would
believe them during the oral and public hearing. And on the basis of
abundant proof, including expert proof, it was shown that Angel
Carromero was driving at well above 120 kilometers an hour, and it was
his lack of attention and care, the fact that he was driving too fast,
and a wrong decision to step on the brakes too hard on a slippery
surface that caused this tragic accident which cost the life of two
individuals. Angel Carromero in fact recognized this.
Both Rosa Maria Paya and Regis Iglesias — speaking on behalf of
another phony NGO — are vulgar agents, paid, educated and trained by the
US government in order to bring about a regime change in Cuba. They both
work for those who are in favor of the blockade and aggression against
their own people.
[Note: Original posted in English on Rosa Maria's blog.]
20 March 2013
http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-tries-to-block-un-speech-by-oswaldo-payas-daughter-rosa-maria-paya-acevedo/ Continue reading
In Washington, Yoani Sánchez speaks with senators, Obama aide
BY JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ
WASHINGTON -- Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez ended her two-day visit to
Washington, D.C., Wednesday by holding private meetings analyzing U.S.
policy toward Cuba, including the embargo, and offering her personal
testimony on the situation of civil society in Cuba..
"It has precisely been this type of conversation that I dream of having
someday in Cuba," Sánchez said.
Sánchez, 37, met at the White House with presidential advisor for the
Western Hemisphere Ricardo Zúñiga. And earlier she had held a meeting
with Cuban-American U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Bob Menendez
of New Jersey.
Sánchez wanted to clearly describe the difficulties the internal
opposition faces, including the consistent harassment from the Cuban
Her agenda included a visit to the State Department in the afternoon to
pick up her 2011 International Women of Courage Award, an honor she won
in absentia two years ago. The award recognizes her commitment to
integrity and the defense of human rights.
She later visited Georgetown University to speak at a forum with
students and academics.
Sánchez said the meeting with the U.S. senators was positive and also
highlighted the spirit of opening, despite the fact that she has
expressed her opposition to the embargo the United States has maintained
"We talked about relevant issues, of course, the support, the help and
solidarity we can have from abroad," said Sánchez, founder of the blog
Generación Y. She added that there was also a touch of typical Cuban
humor." She said jokingly that she had invited the senators to have
coffee "on the 14th floor of my Yugoslav-style building, where I hope
someday they can go visit."
As a pioneer in the use of dissenting blogs in Cuba, Sánchez said that
technology is important to encourage a democratic process and an opening.
"Technology was also a part of this conversation," Sánchez said. "The
Cuban lock has to be opened from within and from outside."
During the tour Sánchez has visited Mexico, Brazil, the Czech Republic
and Spain. She began an 80-day tour in February after the Cuban
government decided to reform its travel policy.
Rubio warned that the public should stay alert about Sánchez's safety
when she returns to Cuba.
He said that Raúl Castro's regime is full of thugs and assassins and
that the U.S. should join other nations in demanding human rights and
safety not only for Sánchez but also for the entire Cuban people.
The Cuban government has not made any statement about the criticism that
Sánchez and other opponents abroad have made, including Berta Soler, the
spokeswoman of the Ladies in White, and Eliécer Avila, both on a tour
Meanwhile, Menendez, D-N.J., said that Sánchez is a Cuban patriot
committed to the future of her country as a free and democratic nation.
"She is a model to follow by the new generation of Cubans seeking to
join the global community through technology and access to information
and, ultimately, be able to enjoy freedom of expression, political
rights and economic opportunities in their own motherland," Menendez said.
"Her work as an independent journalist has been indispensable and,
despite suffering in the hands of the regime, she remains optimistic
about the future of Cuba."
In a press release, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that
Sánchez's meeting with Zúñiga was to discuss the efforts made by the
blogger to promote more respect toward freedom of expression in Cuba.
"The United States anxiously awaits the day in which all Cubans would
have the opportunity to express themselves in public without fear,"
Hayden said. "We will continue to support the policies that encourage
the flow of information to and from Cuba."
Sánchez will return to New York on Thursday to complete her calendar of
activities. Then she will travel to Europe, and on April 1, she will
In South Florida she will be part of a program hosted by Miami Dade
College with students and community leaders.
She will also receive the MDC Presidential Medal for her consistent work
and commitment for human rights as well as Florida International
University's Medallion of Courage.
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