Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's No Peru, but...

The Spanish Embassy in Cuba was mobbed by 400 people today, according to a Miami Herald article, see excerpt below for more information.

Over 400 Cubans wait to seek Spanish citizenship

Associated Press Writer

More than 400 Cubans of Spanish ancestry mobbed that country's stately embassy in Havana on Monday, waiting to apply for citizenship under the newly enacted "law of grandchildren."

Spain has begun accepting citizenship applications from the descendants of people who went into exile after its brutal 1936-39 Civil War, part of a 2007 law meant to address the painful legacy of the conflict and the ensuing right wing dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco. But a new provision approved Friday also allows anyone whose parents or grandparents were born in Spain but went overseas because of their political beliefs or economic hardship to become Spaniards.

Those accepted do not have to renounce their current citizenship.

Officials in Madrid have estimated that as many as half a million people worldwide could be eligible to become citizens, although it is unclear how many of those are in Cuba. Some 300,000 people in Argentina alone may qualify.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wow..."Mad Props!"

Well, here you have it from the horse's mouth...well, the horse's brother's mouth.

In a speech Raul gave yesterday in Brazil, he let us all in on what he believes to be the Revolution's greatest accomplishment.

I'm sure the suspense is killing you, so here it is: Resistance.

"We resisted, I think that is the greatest accomplishment of our people, our greatest accomplishment; we resisted and we are here."

"Resistimos, creo que es el mérito mayor de nuestro pueblo, el mérito mayor nuestro; resistimos y estamos aquí..."

I mean really, so many things that he could've pointed to: healthcare, education, the international spread of revolution, etc with the typical responses.

But this is very telling. For Raul, the greatest thing to be accomplished is ideological resistance and existence.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Taking Applicants?

What a response...I know it is a politically sensitive question, but what a response...

Robert Wood, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC. December 15, 2008

QUESTION: Talking military, apparently, the Russians have just had some new initiatives here in the Western Hemisphere, especially bringing some of their ships into Cuba, I assume to Venezuela and possibly even to Nicaragua.

MR. WOOD: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What is your attitude with all this activity by the Russians? Do you see it as a payback for what we’re attempting to do with our missile shields in Poland and Czech Republic?

MR. WOOD: Look, we don’t have any problem – any fundamental problem with Russia having military relationships with countries of the hemisphere. I mean, that’s quite fine. You know, we have what I’d like to say is a very productive agenda in trying to help the region, democratize the region, bring economic prosperity. But in terms of Russia having military relationships with other countries of the hemisphere, that’s fine. I don’t think there’s any question about where the preponderance of military power comes from in the hemisphere, so, you know, it’s --

Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are...

Well, I hadn't bothered to check there...

According to an article in Penultimosdias.com, Carlos Valenciaga, formerly Fidel Castro’s personal secretary and head of his Coordination and Support Staff, has a new post working at the National Library, in the manuscript department.

Wonder if maybe he'll be writing one to let us in on some of the secrets?...you're right, probably not, but hey, it's a thought.

How the great do fall.

I have to wonder, though, if this is one of the reasons that Fidel's Reflections (once upon a time pet-named Valenciagas by more than a few Cubans) have changed so much recently.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yoani Questions Mariela

Yesterday Yoani Sanchez posted about her encounter with Mariela Castro...Yoani posed Mariela a very interesting question, basically, will the campaign and struggle to accept people's sexual preferences pass to other aspects and will there be a campaign for tolerance of people's political and ideological opinions?

Mariela responded that she doesn't know because she doesn't work in that area and that she thinks she's doing the best she can in her capacity...whatever that means.

Below is the video of the encounter:

The fact that she would say that she isn't political and therefore can't respond to a political question is somewhat odd considering the interview she gave to El Pais saying that she believes that in 15 years, Cuba will be a Socialist Democracy with more participation and more maturity.

Could it be that she is a reformer when her father is acting as such and when he's not, she' not?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Repressing at Home, Raul to Travel Abroad

According to Jesse Chacon, Venezuela's Minister of Information, Raul Castro will visit Venezuela on Dec 14th for a meeting of ALBA. This, before he is scheduled to visit Brazil, whose president said he wanted to be Cuba's largest trading partner, the 17th.

Raul will be leaving Cuba at a time where he will likely be getting some flack from the international community (of course not from the countries he will be visity) for the repression that occurred yesterday and is occuring today in Cuba.

There are various reports of police roundups throughout Cuba. Frances Robles has a nice overview in today's Herald, you can find it below.

Cuban police are detaining activists prior to Human Rights Day
Cuban activists are being stopped from attending Human Rights Day events in Havana, exile groups said.

Up to a dozen human rights activists have been detained in Cuba in police operations apparently intended to keep them from attending Human Rights Day events in Havana on Wednesday, according to exile groups in Miami.

Wednesday's events are being organized to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Protests are planned by various Cuban dissident groups, including the Ladies in White organization formed by wives and female relatives of 75 dissidents and independent journalists who were rounded up during a 2003 crackdown on political dissent.

The Federation of Latin American Women, a group that lobbies for an end to Cuba's dual currency, said Cuban State Security agents beat their members and broke one woman's hand.

''They did not even ask for identification,'' FLAMUR President Belinda Salas said in a statement. ``My husband Lazaro got such a beating that he was bleeding profusely through his mouth and head, plus he was struck hard on his testicles. . . . They ripped my blouse, leaving me naked, and the beating left me with a fractured hand.''

The incident occurred when several state patrol cars arrived in Havana's Vedado neighborhood, FLAMUR said.

The whereabouts of some who were picked up by police cruisers was unknown.

The Democratic Directorate, a Miami exile group that works with dissidents in Cuba, said they knew of about a dozen people in cities across Cuba that had been arrested since Monday.

Last year, the Cuban government launched a massive operation at bus stations, train stations and highways where dissidents were trying to catch rides to Havana Human Rights Day events. The operation illustrated how well Cuban State Security monitors opposition activities -- and how quickly they were able to snatch people up.

''Right now we have a list of people detained, and it's going to keep going up,'' said the Democratic Directorate's deputy national secretary, Janisset Rivero.

``We are not sure of all the details of what's going on, because every time we get someone on the line, we get cut off. They are cutting off communications.''

She said dissident doctor Darsi Ferrer had organized some kind of march in Havana. When Rivero talked to him, he said: ''I've got a big police operation in front of my house,'' and the call ended.

Arrests have taken place in Cienfuegos, Pinar del Río, Matanzas, Sancti Spiritus, Santa Clara, Placetas and Havana, she said. Among the detained is former political prisoner Jorge Luis García Pérez, known as ``Antúnez.''

Last week Cuban bloggers reported being taken to police headquarters, where they received warnings against attending a scheduled Internet bloggers conference.

''Amazing: They are violating human rights so people can't celebrate human rights,'' said U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutiérrez, who headed a Bush administration effort to prepare for Cuba's transition to democracy.

''I was reading about the crackdown on the bloggers, and I suppose that's all related. It reminded me of something like rounding people up because they are suspected of witchcraft,'' he said. ``It sounds so crazy and so out of touch with reality and so old-fashioned ---- old-fashioned like centuries ago.''

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Yoani Sanchez Quote

From Roger Cohen's NYT article (which is pretty good...up until the end in which he implies that Guantanamo should be given back)...

“You know, when a nation gets on its knees before a man, it’s all over. When a man decides how much rice I eat a month, or whether or not I can leave a country, that country is sick. This man is human. He commits errors. How can he have such power? Like a lot of people of my generation, I have willed myself to stop thinking about him, as a therapy. I think there will be relief when Fidel dies. We will breathe out. The mystical and symbolic weight of his presence is very heavy, for his opponents and even for his supporters. It’s hard to right his errors while he’s still there.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Opposition Member Sentenced to 3 Years

Julián Antonio Monés Borrero, from Baracoa, was arrested and tried for "attacking" a student of a military school.

The trial, held November 26, was a closed-door trial and lasted only three hours. The political police only allowed his closest family members to attend the farce.

On September 28th, Monés Borrero was wearing a shirt that said "CAMBIO." He was attacked by a man wearing civilian clothing who never identified himself. Reacting as any normal person would, Monés Borrero defended himself.

Since September 30th, he has been in jail, meaning he was held for nearly 2 months without a trial. He spent 40 days on a hunger strike protesting his arrest. Alas, the authorities paid it no heed.

The full article from Cubaencuentro is below:

Condenado a tres años de cárcel un opositor en Baracoa
Julián Antonio Monés Borrero fue acusado de 'atentado a la autoridad' por supuesta agresión a un estudiante de una escuela militar.
Redacción CE 02/12/2008

El Tribunal Municipal de Baracoa, Guantánamo, condenó al opositor Julián Antonio Monés Borrero a 3 años de cárcel, el pasado 26 de noviembre, por supuesto "atentado a la autoridad".

Monés fue acusado de agredir a un estudiante de una escuela militar, informó el sitio en internet Cubanet.

El activista de derechos humanos Rodolfo Barthelemy, citado por la publicación, dijo que vista se realizó a puertas cerradas, duró tres horas, y la policía política sólo permitió la entrada a los familiares más cercanos del disidente.

De acuerdo con el relato de los hechos, Monés, presidente del Movimiento de Derechos Humanos Miguel Valdés Tamayo y residente en Baracoa, se encontraba el domingo 28 de septiembre un centro recreativo con un pulóver que llevaba la palabra "Cambio" impresa, y fue agredido físicamente por un joven vestido de civil, que no se identificó. El disidente se defendió. Su agresor resultó ser un estudiante de una escuela de cadetes.

La esposa del opositor condenado, Matilde Duportal, dijo que en el juicio "quedó demostrado" que Monés "no cometió ningún atentado, puesto que ningún testigo que fue allí declaró que ellos vieron que el muchacho se identificó como oficial del Ministerio del Interior, ni que tampoco Julián le proporcionara ningún golpe (...) Quedó demostrado así también ante el abogado, quien demostró allí que habían hasta testigos falsos", dijo la mujer, informó el Directorio Democrático Cubano, son sede en Miami.

Según Cubanet, Monés Borrero, encarcelado el pasado 30 de septiembre, estuvo más de 40 días en huelga de hambre para protestar por su arresto.

El Directorio indicó que desde la noche anterior al juicio se registraron operativos policiales para impedir la asistencia de activistas de derechos humanos.

Varios disidentes fueron detenidos o puestos bajo arresto domiciliario. Efectivos de la Seguridad del Estado y de la Policía detuvieron a los opositores Roberto Ortiz y Francisco Manzanés en la noche del martes 25, según dijo Rodolfo Barthelemy, coordinador en Oriente del Comité Ciudadano contra los Malos Tratos.

El mismo día del juicio fue arrestado Keyber Rodríguez Fernández, presidente del Movimiento pro Derechos Humanos Juan Pablo II.

© cubaencuentro