When Will Castro's Advocates File Disclosures?

Saturday, September 10, 2011
Does the last sentence sound familiar?

A must-read article in today's Wall Street Journal:

Advocate for Libya, Syria Failed to File Disclosures

The public-relations firm Brown Lloyd James posts an extensive client roster on its website, including composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, the charity Autism Speaks, Carnegie Mellon University and the state of Qatar.

Unacknowledged on its website client list is its work for the regime of Libya's Col. Moammar Gadhafi and the wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It submitted required notices to the U.S. government in those cases this summer after inquiries about its efforts.

The communications company, headed in New York by former Beatles confidant and society figure Peter Brown, is one of dozens of public-affairs firms that foreign governments turn to when they want to burnish their U.S. reputations. The firm helps with media relations and special events, drawing on Mr. Brown's extensive New York social and business network [...]

Brown Lloyd James helped Col. Gadhafi's regime in 2009 and 2010 and Mrs. Assad with a magazine profile last winter without registering with the Justice Department. It also filed for the first time details of work for the governments of Gabon in 2010 and 2011 and Morocco in 2011 [...]

"In hindsight, it is easy today to criticize any work done in a country such as Libya or Syria," Mr. Holtzman said. The firm "worked in the belief that change was coming and that helping to open up these countries and exposing their leaders and their people to the West would facilitate dialogue and greater understanding," he said.

A Weekend Wake-Up Call

If you haven't seen the documentary "Cuba y los Elefantes" (subtitled in English), please take some time to do so (below) over the weekend.

It was filmed by Peru's Institute for Political Freedom and contains some of the best interviews with Cuban pro-democracy leaders, including Dr. Darsi Ferrer, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez" and many others.

It's also a great wake-up call to the realities of Castro's Cuba.

Quote of the Week

"While foreign journalists who upset the socialist government may lose their accreditation, independent Cuban journalists can go to jail."

-- Vicente Botin, former correspondent in Cuba for Spanish Television (TVE), on the Castro regime revoking the accreditation of El Pais's Mauricio Vicent this week, Along the Malecon, 9/7/11

Jim Cason's Refreshing Approach

By Joe Cardona in The Miami Herald:

I have always been amazed at the lengths some U.S. elected officials and diplomats (present administration included) will go to justify the totalitarian regime in Havana.

The left-leaning intelligentsia (though it is difficult to determine right from left anymore, particularly when it comes to foreign affairs) holds onto the notion that the U.S. economic embargo has been a complete failure. This claim has become gospel for policy wonks at American think tanks. If the ultimate barometer of U.S. policy towards Cuba over the last half century has been how effective American initiatives have been in helping the Cuban people attain democracy, then one must recognize that the “softer” method — reflected through talks (dialogue) and cultural exchange has also been an abject failure.

This week I shared some thoughts on Cuba with Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason, the former head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. I find his views on U.S.-Cuba relations refreshing. He speaks with a great deal of common sense. His convictions have been shaped by four decades of foreign service in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is precisely his experience in dealing with Latin American regimes both on the right and left that prevents him from tainting his views with the unfortunate, self-loathing American complex that plagues many U.S. diplomats in our hemisphere.

“The difference between Cuba and the other dictatorial regimes that I experienced in Latin America is that Cuba’s government is totalitarian,” said Cason, who arrived in Havana as chief of the U.S. Mission, in the fall of 2002. Upon his arrival, the Cubans were in no hurry to meet with the Bush administration’s appointee, so Cason took the opportunity to get to know the people of Cuba, particularly the dissidents and human rights activists who at that time were growing in number.

“These people were nothing like the ‘elitist, mercenaries’ the Cuban government had made them out to be,” Cason told me. “They were humble people. Many of them were living in dire economic conditions and yet no one asked for money. They sought moral support and supplies but no one asked for money.”

Those very same “humble people” comprised the majority of the 75 dissenters arrested by the regime in the spring of 2003 — now known as Cuba’s Black Spring. Fortunately for the opposition leaders imprisoned under bogus charges, Cason did not stand pat.

“I needed to do something to prompt the attention of the international press,” he said. And sure enough, Jim Cason’s response to the unjust imprisonments was unorthodox, thought provoking, and courageous.

He proceeded to go on a publicity blitz like no foreign diplomat had dared to do in Fidel Castro’s Cuba. The campaign included putting up a scrolling electronic billboard outside the Interests Section with messages that challenged the government’s unlawful detentions. As you can imagine, Castro was fit to be tied. The Cubans retaliated by putting up a wall of flagpoles to cover Cason’s billboard.

They also made Cason the butt of all jokes, including an animated cartoon series featuring “ el Cabo Cason” (Corporal Cason) portraying the American diplomat as an evil wizard that eventually morphs into a rat. “I was honored and thought it was hysterical,” Cason said. “I really knew then that I was getting to them.”

“Getting to them” he did. Cason’s dogged insistence on speaking out for the jailed 75 drew attention to their cause. All of the 75 have now been released due to pressure from the international community, especially after last year’s death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo in prison.

“I didn’t go to Cuba to make friends. I went there to stand up for what is right and to defend those people against the totalitarian regime,” Cason pointed out.

Jim Cason chose to support vulnerable victims rather than to gain favor with a dictatorial regime — an approach that won him no friends among U.S. intellectuals but gave comfort to Cuban dissidents who risked their lives.

Leading Opposition Members Arrested

Friday, September 9, 2011
And the picture of the month.

From the AP:

Cuban dissidents detained ahead of protest

A leading Cuban human rights worker says authorities have detained two former political prisoners near the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba.

The detention Friday of Angel Moya and Jose Daniel Ferrer would be the first recent detention involving members of a group of 75 intellectuals and social commentators arrested in a 2003 crackdown on dissent. Moya is the husband of Bertha Soler, a leader of the Ladies in White dissident group.

The last of the 2003 prisoners were freed earlier this year under a government with the Roman Catholic Church, but the Ladies have kept up their opposition activities.

Human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez, says the detentions of Moya and Ferrer occurred Friday in Palma Soriano, a city near Santiago de Cuba.

BBC Catches Repression on Video

The BBC has taped the arrest of Cuban dissidents during the procession for Our Lady of Charity yesterday.

Please click here or on this moving image (courtesy of Cuban blogger Orlando Luis Pardo's Twitter) to watch:

Miami-Dade County Should be Ashamed

According to The Miami Herald:

The Port of Miami has given the greenlight to begin reinforcements of its cargo port — work required before its deep dredge project begins next year. The U.S. unit of Brazilian giant Odebrecht S.A. has clinched the project.

Odebrecht Construction Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of the giant Brazilian conglomerate, Odebrecht S.A., is set to begin work this month on improvements to the Port of Miami’s wharfs after Miami-Dade County Commissioners last week awarded a $57.1 million contract to the firm.


As you may recall, Odebrecht is the same company that has partnered with the Castro regime's military to expand the Port of Mariel facility in Cuba's northern coast. It is also a willing partner of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez in a host of construction projects.

Thus, it seeks to profit from both the repressors and the victims of repression.

Sadly, Miami-Dade County failed to stand on the side of the victims of repression that elected them.

Perhaps they can take note from Libya's courageous freedom fighters, who are refusing to do business with companies that had been complicit with Gaddafi's tyrannical regime.

But even from a pure business perspective, why would Miami-Dade County spend taxpayer money on a foreign company that is facilitating (thanks to a credit line from the Brazilian government) a competitive port just 90 miles away -- in Castro's Cuba?

Next time you see a Miami-Dade Commissioner at a Cuban patriotic event, naming a street or hailing political prisoners and pro-democracy activists -- remind them how they lost an opportunity to take a tangible stand on principle.

Richardson Snubbed (or Theatrics?)

Thursday, September 8, 2011
Time will tell.

From the AP:

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Thursday that Cuban officials denied his request to meet with a U.S. government subcontractor who has been jailed since 2009, dashing hopes that the man might be freed soon.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Richardson repeatedly described 62-year-old Alan Gross as an "American hostage." He said he would not leave the island until he was allowed to see the Maryland native at a military hospital where he is being held.

"My mission here as a private citizen is to secure the release of Alan Gross, an American hostage," Richardson said. "I've been informed by the Cuban government that I would not be allowed to see Alan Gross during my visit."

Richardson said that he had been scheduled to depart Saturday, but that he told Cuban officials he would not leave until he was granted a meeting with Gross.

"I promised his wife, Judy, that I would see him," the governor said.

There was no immediate comment from Cuba's government.

The news, delivered by a somber Richardson at the end of a long day of meetings with Cuban officials, was sure to come as a shock to those who had felt certain Gross' long ordeal was nearing an end.

At Least 55 More Political Arrests Today

At least 22 Ladies in White were arrested today as they tried to attend Mass in celebration of the feast day of Our Lady of Charoty.

Amongst those arrested were Laura Pollán, Belkis Cantillo, Aimeé Garcés, Tania Montoya y Mildred Noemi Sánchez.

They were dragged into a bus, beaten and driven away.

Moreover, 16 dissidents were arrested in the town of Guantanamo, six in Palma Soriano and one in Guantanamo, as they set to embark on a nationwide East-to-West protest march.

Will Cuba's Dissidents Save Alan Gross?

Facing rising international criticism from the brutal upswing in repression against Cuban pro-democracy activists, the Castro regime (just this week) accused the U.S. and Europe of launching a "media campaign" against it.

In other words, the Castro regime is feeling the pressure of such criticism. And rightfully so.

In the last month, there have been a wave of courageous protests -- from street corners to the steps of the Capitol building -- by Cuba's pro-democracy movement. Moreover, these protests have been met with popular support from bystanders.

The Castro regime's response has been ruthless. They've unleashed armed mobs against The Ladies in White, sent riot police to gas the homes of dissidents and have made widespread arrests throughout the island.

According to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights (CCHR), the number of documented political arrests have more than doubled in the first eight months of 2011 (compared to the same period in 2010).

This has led to widespread condemnation by human rights organizations and editorial boards throughout the world.

Sound familiar?

This is a similar situation to early 2010 -- pursuant to the death of Cuban political prisoner and hunger striker Orlando Zapata Tamayo -- when the Castro regime faced rising international pressure, hunger strikes by other pro-democracy leaders and relentless activism from The Ladies in White.

As a result, the Castro regime needed to change the subject fast. Thus, it invited Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega to the negotiating table, where the Cardinal acquiesced to banishing as many political prisoners abroad as possible.

Enter stage left, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Needing to once again change the subject fast, the Castro brothers have reportedly invited their old "friend" Richardson to Cuba to discuss the case of American development worker Alan Gross, who has been unjustly imprisoned since December 2009 for the "crime" of helping Cubans connect to the Internet.

Thus, will the activism and sacrifice of Cuba's courageous pro-democracy movement save Alan Gross?

Will rising international pressure towards the Castro regime work -- as it has in the past?

We hope so. And we also hope, if Gross is released, that the on-going struggle and sacrifice of Cuban activists left behind will not be forgotten.

Richardson Enjoys Castro's Welcome Cigar

Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Below is a picture (courtesy of the AP) of former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson during his current stay in Havana.

According to media reports, Richardon has traveled to the island to seek the release of American development worker Alan Gross, who has been unjustly held prisoner by the Castro regime since December 2009.

But first, Governor Richardson took some time to relax at the outdoor bar of Castro's exclusive Hotel Nacional to have a drink and a cigar.

Courtesy of his tyrannical host, of course.

Brutal Crackdown of Peaceful Activists

From the European human rights organization, Front Line Defenders:

Cuba: Ongoing brutal crackdown on human rights defenders during peaceful demonstrations

Since 17 July 2011, as many as seventy human rights defenders have been subjected to physical attacks, harassment, arrests and detentions while exercising their legitimate right to hold peaceful demonstrations calling for the release of political prisoners in Cuba. It is believed that these attacks form part of a brutal crackdown orchestrated by Cuban Government forces working under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior. Front Line expresses deep concern that similar attacks may be perpetrated against human rights defenders during similar demonstrations. Front Line previously issued an urgent appeal on 10 August 2011 following assaults on members of Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) by pro-Government groups and police officers on 7 August 2011 in Santiago de Cuba and Palmarito de Cauto, in the eastern province of Cuba. Damas de Blanco is a human rights organisation which advocates for the release of political prisoners in Cuba.

On 4 September 2011 eleven members of Damas de Blanco were detained in two cities in Matanzas province; 5 in Colon and 6 in Cardenas. Amongst the detained women were: Laura Pollán, Sara Marta Fonseca, Yaneris Perez Rey, Mercedes Evelin, Teresa Castellanos, Rosario Morales and Leticia Ramos Herreria, all of whom were released that evening. It is believed that María Teresa Castellanos, Mayra Morejon, Caridad Brunate Gómez, and Ivonne Mayesa remain in detention.

Between 26 and 28 August 2011, many protesters were arrested and held at various police stations throughout the province of Santiago de Cuba while attempting to hold peaceful demonstrations calling for the release of political prisoners. Specialised riot police used tear gas and violently beat protesters before taking them away to detention centres. It is reported that many of those detained suffered serious head injuries and required stitches, while others reportedly vomited up blood and fainted as a result of exposure to tear gas. Whilst those injured did receive medical attention they were not allowed to contact their families or legal representatives.

Although the majority of those arrested were released over the last number of days, Front Line has been informed of the names of seven human rights defenders, plus 3 relatives, who remain in detention as of 4 September: Messrs Miguel Rafael Cabrera Montoya, Bismarck Mustelier Galán, José Enrique Martínez Ferrer, Nivaldo Amelo Ramírez, Alexis Aguirrezabal Rodríguez, Alexis Yachoi Kuan Jerez and Víctor Campa Almenares. All seven are members of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Cívica Orlando Zapata Tamayo (National Front of Civil Resistance Orlando Zapata Tamayo).

They had been in the home of ex-political prisoner and member of the Secretariat of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Civica Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Mr Marino Antomarchit Rivero, in Palma Soriano on 28 August 2011 when police raided it. Marino Antomarchit Rivero's mother, wife, and two-year-old daughter were in the house at the time of the raid. His daughter was taken out through the window so as to avoid being caught up in the raid. Riot police destroyed the furniture in the house and stole the family's savings. It is further reported that police officers confiscated two computers, mobile phones, cameras, memory flash drives, notebooks, and hard drives. It is reported that 27 of those present were arrested at the time. The meeting had been organised in coordination with the Unión Patriótica de Cuba (Patriotic Union of Cuba), an organisation that has recently been founded by former political prisoner Mr José Daniel Ferrer García.

Marino Antomarchit Rivero, along with human rights defenders Messrs Jorge Cervantes and Guillermo Cobas, had been previously arrested on 26 August 2011, and therefore were not in the house at the time, although they have since been released.

On 28 August 2011, 13 women human rights defenders gathered at the home of Ms Aimeé Garcés Leyva. The women, who are members of Damas de Blanco, had planned to attend mass at the Santiago de Cuba cathedral, and afterwards hold a peaceful protest in the nearby streets. The house where they had gathered was surrounded by police cars and officers who subsequently entered the house, removed the women and beat them and twisted their arms. Ms Tania Montoya required medical attention as a result of an injury to her arm sustained in the beating. The women were placed on police buses which were then driven to nearby towns in the Province of Santiago de Cuba where they were released. On 27 August 2011 two members of Damas de Blanco, Ms Caridad Caballero Batista and Ms Marta Diaz Rondon, were beaten and sexually harassed, then detained, by police as they made their way to Aimeé Garcés Leyva's home in Palma Soriano. The former suffered a fractured finger and both women were covered in bruises upon their release from the police station in Bayamo the same day.

Protests in the towns of El Cobre and Palmarita Soriano were also violently repressed by Government forces.

Front Line is concerned for the physical and psychological integrity and security of the members of Damas de Blanco, Frente Nacional de Resistencia Civica Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Unión Patriótica de Cuba and all other human rights organizations involved in peaceful protest actions, considering reports of ongoing brutal crackdown against them. Front Line believes that the human right defenders have been targeted solely as a result of their legitimate work in the defence of human rights and expresses deep concern that these assaults may be repeated over the coming weeks.

In Memory of Julio Ruiz Pitaluga

Yesterday, former Cuban political prisoner Julio Ruiz Pitaluga died in Havana.

Pitalgua was a "plantado" -- a group of political prisoners that refused prison work, indoctrination or uniforms. And thus, who received the harshest punishments.

Like most "plantados," Pitaluga fought against both the Batista and Castro dictatorships.

He was a Captain in Castro's 26th of July Movement upon the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.

Upon seeing that Castro's intentions were simply to become a dictator himself -- and a totalitarian one, at that -- Pitaluga entered the opposition.

For this, he spent 25 years in Castro's political prisons.

"People-to-Castro" Travel

One of the most deceptive aspects of the Obama Administration's Cuba policy is its so-called "people-to-people" travel.

The argument behind these trips is that they facilitate non-governmental contact between the American and Cuban people -- and that this will somehow "enlighten" the Cuban people (as if they were ignorant to the realities of the totalitarian regime that represses them).

Yet, even if this were the case, the current "people-to-people" trips barely even provide any contact with non-governmental Cubans.

To the contrary, these trips are approved by the Cuban dictatorship and their itineraries are almost unanimously composed of visits with Castro regime officials.

Moreover, the tour guides are regime officials as well.

Just look at some of the upcoming Fall 2011-Winter 2012 trips:

The trips hosted by the Center for Cuban Studies almost all include meetings with the daughter of current dictator Raul Castro, the Ministry of Culture, the official cultural censors (UNEAC), the Ministry of Public Health, the repressive neighborhood watch committees (CDR), and of course, visits to Varadero beach to learn "how tourism affects the community."

The trips hosted by Common Ground Travel include more of the above, plus a "legal studies" trip that visits with the regime's lawyers guild (perhaps a visit with imprisoned American development worker Alan Gross would be more appropriate), the Ministry of Agriculture and the Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (a long-time front for Cuban intelligence).

The trips hosted by Global Exchange follow the same trend and even include visits to the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and the Ministry of Tourism to "research opportunities for investment in Cuba."

The Insight Cuba trips are nothing more than tourism - baseball games, rum museums, cigar factories and music.

And finally, Witness for Peace invites Americans to go hear from Castro regime officials just how evil the U.S. and its foreign policy is.

Bottom line: These current "people-to-people" trips are essentially promotion seminars by a repressive regime (on the state-sponsors of terrorism list).

Moreover, they are a slap-in-the-face to courageous Cubans fighting for freedom.

Castro Laps 2010 Repression

Tuesday, September 6, 2011
According to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights (CCHR), the Castro regime has made at least 2,221 political arrests during the first eight months of 2011.

That's 1,091 more than in the same period in 2010.

More "reform" you can't believe in.

Conceding How Tourism Funds Castro's Military

News reports about the death of Castro's Defense Minister, Julio Casas Regueiro, have almost unanimously conceded the fact that the military owns and controls Cuba's tourism industry.

So why would anyone support having tourists fuel this industry (thus, Castro's military)?

Unless, of course, you support Castro's military dictatorship.

From AFP:

Among Casas Regueiro's unexpected legacies: he helped turn Gaviota into Cuba's largest tourism conglomerate, with hotels, restaurants, retail shops, marinas and airlines.

From CNN:

When Raul Castro was made defense minister, he put Casas in charge of the profitable businesses that the military ran, including tourist hotels and the main telephone company.

From Reuters:

[Casas] helped lead Cuban military-run enterprises that are some of the largest in the country and include everything from tourism to retail stores.

From AP:

Beginning in 1990, Casas ran the Defense Ministry's Business Administration Group, which includes a host of efficient and profitable enterprises designed to generate the hard currency Cuba has needed to buy critical imports... The armed forces also manage a chain of hundreds of small consumer goods stores and a tourism company that runs more than 30 hotels, with subsidiaries that provide domestic tourist travel by air and land.

From Al Jazeera:

As a military official, Regueiro was credited with pressing through some of Cuba's political and economic reforms in the 1990s as the island sought to recover from the collapse of the Soviet Union, its key supporter during the Cold War. They included creating new roles for the armed forces such as managing the Gaviota hotel chain to create a source of hard currency for the military and creating small local industries to maintain and replace Soviet-made equipment.

And even The New York Times:

The Cuban military runs real estate businesses, factories, supermarkets and even a large tour operator, Gaviota. Its companies, many of which generate much-needed hard currency, enjoy a reputation for efficiency in a country dogged by mismanagement and a bloated bureaucracy.

Are Castro, Chavez and Gaddafi Rational Actors?

Monday, September 5, 2011
A wake-up call for those that have argued -- and still argue -- for rapprochement and negotiations with the Castro and Chavez regimes, as if they were rational actors.

From Bloomberg:

When asked if he would offer Gaddafi asylum, Chavez recalled a conversation he had with Cuba’s Fidel Castro about the capture of Saddam Hussein after Iraq was invaded. Chavez said Fidel told him that in such situations “what we have to do is win or die.”

While on this topic (sort of), please make sure to read Nicholas Kristof's editorial in The New York Times, "Thank You, America!"

Here's the introductory paragraph:

Americans are not often heroes in the Arab world, but as nonstop celebrations unfold here in the Libyan capital I keep running into ordinary people who learn where I’m from and then fervently repeat variants of the same phrase: “Thank you, America!”

CBC Members Snub Cuban Freedom Fighters

Excerpt from a hard-hitting critique of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in World Net Daily:

*It's important to note that not all CBC Members are sympathetic to the Castro regime. Some of them have been strong allies of Cuban freedom. Thus, it's never wise to generalize. However, the criticism of the seven Members below is fair.

In 2009, seven members of the CBC visited Fidel Castro. Not only were they full of praise for the tyrant – in that regard, they were hardly alone on the left – but they also refused to meet with any democratic dissidents, including Cuba's leading black dissenter.

As a Washington Post editorial noted at the time, "In five days on the island, the (CBC) Congress members found no time for dialogue with Afro-Cuban dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez... Mr. Garcia, better known as 'Antunez,' is a renowned advocate of human rights who has often been singled out for harsh treatment because of his color. 'The authorities in my country,' he has said, 'have never tolerated that a black person (could dare to) oppose the regime.'

"His wife, Iris, is a founder of the Rosa Parks Women's Civil Rights Movement, named after an American hero whom Afro-Cubans try to emulate."

As the snub of Cuba's leading black freedom fighters demonstrated, in a conflict between helping the left and helping blacks, the CBC chooses the left.

Havana's Accreditation Requirements

News that the Castro regime has "irrevocably" revoked the accreditation of Spanish journalist Mauricio Vicent raises an interesting question:

What does it take to remain an "accredited" foreign journalist in Castro's Cuba?

Perhaps writing stories about 24-fingered Cubans or pigs that feed milk from a dog, particularly while pro-democracy activists face daunting repression during daily protests.

Or perhaps referring to dictators Fidel and Raul Castro as "President" despite having never been elected by the Cuban people during their 52-year totalitarian rule.

Or perhaps always using qualifiers for Cuba's courageous pro-democracy movement, such as small, disorganized, U.S.-supported and always stressing that the regime refers to them as "mercenaries" (no matter how absurd).

Or perhaps -- as is the case today -- just ignoring the arrest of over 10 Ladies in White in the province of Matanzas.

We recognize it's a tough balancing act for many of these foreign journalists, but people who do not follow Cuba on a daily basis are unaware of these nuances (and of the nature of the Castro dictatorship) -- thus, it sadly leads to disinformation and indifference.

More Ladies in White Arrested Today

Sunday, September 4, 2011
At least 10 Ladies in White, including one of their leaders, Laura Pollan, were arrested today in the central province of Matanzas.

Also (re-)arrested was Sara Marta Fonseca, who led a courageous protest on the steps of the Capitol building in Havana early last week.

Some of the others were Yaneris Perez Rey, Caridad Brunate, Mercedes Evelin, Teresa Castellanos, Rosario Morales, Mayra Morejon and Ivonne Mayesa.

Amnesty Demands Release of Dissidents

From Amnesty International:

Dissidents Arrested in Cuba

Eleven members of a dissident organization and three of their relatives have been detained, without being told of any charges against them, since their arrest on 28 August in Cuba. They have not been allowed access to their families.

Eleven members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU), an umbrella group of dissident organizations from the east of Cuba have been detained without charge since 28 August. Three other men, who are relatives of the detainees, are also in detention. According to relatives they are being held at a State Security facility on the outskirts of the city of Santiago de Cuba.

Twenty-seven members of UNPACU met at the house of Marino Antomarchit in the town of Palma Soriano, in the south-eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, to discuss the current crackdown against dissidents in the province.

Witnesses state that around 140 members of the security forces, including the National Revolutionary Police (Policía Nacional Revolucionaria), State Security and members of the prison service surrounded the house at 1pm.

Shortly afterwards, tear gas canisters were launched into the house, where Marino Antomarchit's two-year old daughter and 76-year-old mother were also present, causing nausea and coughing of those who were there. At 5:40pm, between 30 to 40 members of the security forces entered the house and reportedly beat the men and caused damage to the house. The 27 UNPACU members were arrested as were three relatives who had come to the house after the arrival of security forces. Sixteen of the men were released on 31 August, all without charge. Eleven of them remain incarcerated in overcrowded conditions and have not been allowed family visits.

Please Take Action here.

Castro Rejects Free Libya, Welcomes Iran

Never missing an opportunity to oppose freedom and foment tyranny:

The AP reports:

Cuba has announced the withdrawal of its ambassador and diplomatic mission in Libya and reiterated that it does not recognize the rebels' transitional government.

Meanwhile,

Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Rahimi is scheduled to visit Cuba and Ecuador in mid-September, Iranian Journalist Club reported.

And just when,

The United Nations' nuclear agency says it is "increasingly concerned" that Iran has conducted experimental work to develop nuclear weapons, in particular on warheads to deliver nuclear payloads.