Alan Gross's Desperate Plea for Help

Saturday, April 21, 2012
Castro's American hostage Alan Gross snuck a telling phone call to NBC's Andrea Mitchell today:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Jose Daniel Ferrer Remains Imprisoned

From Fox News:

The opposition Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation on Thursday denounced the fact that former political prisoner José Daniel Ferrer remains in jail without any charges being filed against him more than two weeks after being arrested.

"He continues to be detained, allegedly under 'provisional imprisonment' in the political secret police station in Santiago de Cuba, where he has remained interned, under cruel and subhuman conditions, since April 2," commission spokesman Elizardo Sánchez said in a communique.

Ferrer, who was among the "Group of 75" dissidents sentenced to lengthy prison terms in the spring of 2003, heads the illegal Patriotic Union of Cuba and was arrested in Santiago along with other opposition members.

The commission said that as of early Thursday the formal charges against Ferrer had not been made known and he had not been assigned a defense attorney.

According to the text of the communique, the opposition figure is in "solitary confinement" and is being subjected to "a particular form of biological torture" given that he is being exposed to an "enormous plague of mosquitoes."

The commission also emphasized the "provisional imprisonment" of Bismarck Mustelier, whom it said is also a member of the Patriotic Union and "has been held in the high-security Aguadores prison" in Santiago.

As a member of the Group of 75, Ferrer was released on parole in March 2011 and was among the 12 opposition members of the Group who refused to travel to Spain as a condition of their release from prison.

Tyrants Love Rolex

Friday, April 20, 2012
A great collage and reminder of their hypocrisy:

Raul's 26-Year "Doi Moi" Plan

Last week, Nguyen Phu Trong, Secretary General of Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, visited Cuba.

He explained to Raul Castro how a dictatorship can successfully maintain absolute political control and deny fundamental freedoms, while improving the economy in a "short" 26 years.

Something akin to 21st century fascism.

According to Secretary Nguyen:

"When Vietnam began to implement its policy of 'Renewal' in 1986, known as Doi Moi, many thought the country intended to abandon socialism. Since then, 26 years have passed and history has proven otherwise. Through our experience, combining the theoretical and scientific arguments of Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh's thought, we have concluded that only socialism can maintain national independence, prosperity and happiness for the people.

Under the tutelage of the Communist Party, the Vietnamese people have managed to tailor economic changes to a historical context and the specific needs of the nation, without sacrificing its political stability
."

Raul will now tell the Cuban people to continue making sacrifices, in order to preserve his dictatorship -- for the "reforms" will likely improve the economy by 2038.

And surely a chorus of useful idiots abroad will applaud Rauls' "Doi Moi."

Castro Applauds Repsol Expropriation

Thursday, April 19, 2012
This is absolutely fascinating.

Either Repsol's partnership with the Castro brothers is headed for troubled times or their current exploratory drilling is not going well.

From Reuters:

Cuba backs Argentina's YPF oil company expropriation

Communist Cuba on Thursday declared its support for Argentina's decision to expropriate a 51 percent controlling stake in the South American country's largest oil company, YPF, from Spanish owned Repsol.

"Cuba reiterates its solidarity with the Republic of Argentina and that this nation has a permanent sovereign right over all its natural resources," said a government statement, read on state-run television.

President Cristina Fernandez unveiled plans on Monday to seize Repsol's share of YPF, sparking a chorus of condemnation from Madrid to Washington and support from Venezuela and some other leftist governments in Latin America.

The brief Cuban statement accused Repsol of purchasing its controlling interest in YPF for less than its value.

The Spanish company is a key partner of Cuba's in its efforts to explore for oil off its northern coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

The company is currently drilling some 18 miles offshore in what has been billed as the start of exploration in a vast area thought to harbor billions of barrels of oil.

Obama's Foreign Policy Debacle

By Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post:

Obama mute, human rights abuses pick up

If it were not for the Middle East, Russia and China (and the premature pullout from Iraq), we might consider Cuba to be President Obama’s worst foreign policy debacle. He relaxed sanctions against the dictatorship. U.S. citizen Alan Gross was arrested and thrown in prison. He is in poor health. We’ve done nothing and have not reinstituted sanctions. And what has Cuba done?

Well, as former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams points out, in conjunction with Pope Benedict XVI’s visit, 1,158 people were swept up and detained. That’s more than have been grabbed off the streets or from their homes since the Bay of Pigs in 1961. Abrams rightly is concerned that the Catholic Church has gone mute, failing to respond to the widespread human rights violations.

We should be concerned about the loss of a critical voice for human rights and dignity, but the bigger problem here is U.S. policy. We have not re-upped sanctions, we have not exacted any penalty for the imprisonment of Gross and we are virtually silent on the hemisphere’s worst dictatorship.

Last September Obama spoke to the General Assembly of the United Nations. In his remarks he declared:

"We believe that each nation must chart its own course to fulfill the aspirations of its people, and America does not expect to agree with every party or person who expresses themselves politically. But we will always stand up for the universal rights that were embraced by this Assembly. Those rights depend on elections that are free and fair; on governance that is transparent and accountable; respect for the rights of women and minorities; justice that is equal and fair. That is what our people deserve. Those are the elements of peace that can last.

Moreover, the United States will continue to support those nations that transition to democracy — with greater trade and investment — so that freedom is followed by opportunity. We will pursue a deeper engagement with governments, but also with civil society — students and entrepreneurs, political parties and the press. We have banned those who abuse human rights from traveling to our country. And we’ve sanctioned those who trample on human rights abroad. And we will always serve as a voice for those who’ve been silenced.
"

But that not what this administration does. It does nothing in the face of increased human rights abuses in Cuba. It is paralyzed in the face of mass murder in Syria. It is trying to do business with Iran (with human rights nowhere on the agenda), and it tried to give away more goodies to North Korea. In short, Obama’s responsibilities are far greater than the pope’s, for the president is the leader of the world’s only superpower and of the free world. But he is as mute and ineffective as the Catholic Church. It’s a disgrace and a signal to our foes that America will no longer “stand up for universal rights.” Obama can’t be bothered; he is running for reelection, you know.

1,158 Reasons to Break the Silence

By Eliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations:

1,158 Reasons To Think Again About the Pope’s Visit To Cuba

I’ve written here before about the Pope’s visit to Cuba and his disappointing silence about political repression there. Now we learn in the Miami Herald that his visit occasioned the detentions of 1,158 Cubans in the largest sweep in decades.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, an independent group, has issued a report listing all the detentions–more than half of which came during or just before the Pope arrived on March 26. The total of 1,158 is “the highest single monthly tally in the last five decades, only comparable to the huge sweeps carried out across the country” in 1961 after the Bay of Pigs.

This should not come as a great surprise unless you think Cuba is in the midst of a Castro-led reform period. But it should occasion some comments from the Vatican, for the papal visit was what led to these detentions. Too quiet while in Cuba, the Pope should speak out more firmly now in favor of freedom there. The Herald story continues:

The tally added fuel to complaints that the pope and Cuban Catholic Church turned a blind eye to the communist government’s human rights abuses in their efforts to gain more space for church activities on the island. The dissident Ladies in White have asked for a meeting with Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino “because the repression has grown worse here in Cuba, and what we’re seeing is a total silence on the part of the church,” group leader Bertha Soler said Tuesday.

There are 1,158 new reasons for that silence to be broken.

Record Shattering Repression

During the month of March 2012, there were 1,158 documented political arrests by the Castro regime in Cuba.

According to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights, it represents "the highest monthly number of documented arrests in five decades (since 1961)."

Enough said.

Cuba's Future Is Ever So Bright

Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Today, Time Magazine selected U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) as one of its "100 Most Influential People in the World."

Senator Rubio, 40- years old, is only the second Cuban or Cuban-American to be selected to this prestigious list.

The first was 36-year old Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, who was selected
in 2008.

Meanwhile, Cuba continues to be ruled by brutal octogenarians obsessed with absolute power.

But the future of Cuba remains ever so bright -- both on and off the island.

Jeff Flake's Lobbying Past

In National Journal:

Rep. Jeff Flake has said that his work as a Mormon missionary in Southern Africa in the early 1980s sparked his interest in foreign affairs. But what the Arizona Republican Senate candidate doesn't often speak about is what he did after returning to the United States: work as a Washington lobbyist for an African uranium mine with financial ties to Iran.

Between 1990 and 1991, Flake was a registered foreign agent for Rossing Uranium, a company which operates a mine in Namibia that is among the world's largest suppliers of the nuclear fuel. He earned between $5,000 and $7,000 per month opening doors in the nation's capital and promoting the firm, according to records obtained by National Journal.

The Judge Who Can Convict Chávez

By Amb. Otto J. Reich and Ezequiel Vázquez Ger in Foreign Policy:

Tonight a small but enterprising Miami-based TV network, SoiTV, will air a revealing interview with former Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice Eladio Aponte Aponte, who has been under the protection of the U.S. DEA for several days. The authors of this article had access to the interview results.

Judge Aponte Aponte is, so far, the highest official who has defected since Hugo Chávez came to power. His testimony presents a unique view into the criminal structure promoted by the current Venezuelan government. Aponte also names individuals who have committed serious violations of Venezuelan human rights and attacks on foreign interests.

Mr. Aponte confessed that he received direct orders from President Hugo Chávez to use his legal power against individuals that opposed the regime. As president of the criminal tribunal of the Supreme Court, Aponte had supervision of all criminal courts in the country and practically on all judges, with a capacity to influence almost any judicial decision.

Moreover, in his testimony Mr. Aponte says he also received calls from Gen. Henry Rangel Silva, Venezuela's Defense Minister and Hugo Carvajal, who until recently was the head of military intelligence, among others, ordering him to "manipulate judicial proceedings." Both Rangel Silva and Carvajal have been designated by the U.S. Treasury as "drug kingpins" for their ties to the narco-terrorist FARC guerrilla army in Colombia. Moreover, Aponte alleges that he has "evidence" of the high officials' ties to narcotics traffickers. An example he cites is that of a drug shipment that was safeguarded overnight in a Venezuelan military base. Aponte says he was ordered to provide legal cover for the drug shipment as it made its way from the border to "the center of the country" (on the coast, where Venezuela's ports are located).

Aponte also admits to having been linked to other important figures designated by the U.S. Department of Treasury as international drug traffickers, such as Walid Makled who, according to a federal indictment in New York, sent hundreds of tons of cocaine into the U.S. with the help of top-ranking Venezuelan officials. Makled's "trial" began a few days ago in Venezuela.

It was, in fact, Aponte's link to Makled that led to Aponte's removal from the Supreme Court by the General Assembly of Venezuela and his subsequent defection to Costa Rica, where the DEA picked Aponte up. Makled had been arrested in Colombia nearly two years ago and extradited to Venezuela in 2011. While in a Colombian prison, Makled was interviewed by various U.S. law enforcement agencies, and his testimony implicated Aponte in drug trafficking. Since Chávez has had Makled in his jails for nearly a year, Chávez knew what Makled was going to say at his trial about Aponte, and therefore Aponte had to be "sacrificed" to save Chávez and what the Venezuelan people call his "narco-generals."

Numerous reports from the U.S. State Department and international human rights monitors indicate that the Venezuelan judicial system is used by the President Chávez as a tool to punish and persecute opposition leaders, as well as to obtain the release of drug traffickers.

Aponte's testimony is probably the most important evidence so far to show the lack of independent institutions in Venezuela, the existence of political prisoners, and the links between high-ranking members of the Venezuelan government to drug trafficking and criminal organizations such as Colombia's FARC.

Today on "From Washington al Mundo"

Tune in today to "From Washington al Mundo" for a discussion on North Korea's latest missile launch with Bruce Klingner of The Heritage Foundation. Klingner is former Chief of the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) Korea Branch.

Then, former U.S. Ambassador to Argentina Lino Gutierrez and the Bush Center's Joel Hirst will discuss the nationalization of Repsol-YPF by Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Is this a growing trend in ALBA countries?

And last, but definitely not least, the conclusion of last week's conversation with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Iran and Russia.

"From Washington al Mundo" is broadcast live on Sirius-XM's Cristina Radio (Channel 146) from 4-5 p.m. (EST) and rebroadcast on Friday from 4-5 p.m. (EST).

What Political Prisoners Have to Tell

Thanks to Germany's International Society for Human Rights for this great act of solidarity with Cuba's political prisoners.

A must-see:

Letters to The Economist

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Some great Letters to the Editor of The Economist magazine, pursuant to their naive special report on Raul Castro's so-called "reforms."

Cuba still far from paradise

SIR – You are encouraged by the small changes occurring in Cuba (“On the road towards capitalism”, March 24th). Yet the government relaxes its squeeze on the people when it finds itself in trouble, only to tighten its grip later. If the economy and the people are unproductive it is because that is how the government has made them. And how will Cubans buy land, houses, cars and mobile phones if they have no money for it all?

Oswaldo Lastres
Chicago

SIR – Allowing Cubans to run “bonsai companies” hardly qualifies as revolutionary, considering that the regime has set clear and narrow limits to the scope of microeconomic reforms and refuses to consider any macroeconomic ones. In this light, claiming that Raúl Castro’s timid reforms look “like a turning point similar to Deng Xiaoping’s revolution in China” sounds like a wild exaggeration.

Moreover, placing the onus for a successful transition in Cuba on a change in American policy is overly simplistic and plays into the excuses of the Cuban regime for its unwillingness to take meaningful economic and political steps.

Sebastian Arcos
Miami


SIR – I take exception to your assertion that “the Castro brothers themselves have always lived simply”. Privilege is a relative concept. If one compares the dictators’ lodgings with the White House, Buckingham Palace or the Elysée Palace, it would be fair to conclude that their residences are unpretentious. But if the comparison is between their quarters and the average Cuban, and what he gets from his ration card, then the Castros live in the Taj Mahal.

Jose Latour
Toronto

NED Took Laura Pollan Medal to Havana

From the National Endowment for Democracy (NED):

NED Medal Honoring Laura Pollán Presented in Havana

In an unprecedented act of international solidarity, the National Endowment for Democracy presented its Democracy Service medal to the family and colleagues of Laura Pollán in Havana.

Vice-Chair of NED’s Board of Directors Judy Shelton visited Cuba in March 2012, delivering the Democracy Service Medal awarded by NED to the late Laura Pollán and the Damas de Blanco last December. Shelton presented it in person to Berta Soler, the leader of the Damas de Blanco movement founded by Laura Pollán; Héctor Maseda Guitiérrez, Pollán’s widower and a journalist who spent eight years imprisoned by the Cuban government; and Laura Labrada Pollán, Pollán’s daughter and a member of the Damas de Blanco.

While the Ladies are the frequent focus of international recognition, this is the first time that an international organization has honored them in their own country. The presentation in Havana was an important act of solidarity with the Damas de Blanco at a time when they and other activists face heightened repression and physical attacks.

Pollán founded the Damas de Blanco when her husband was arrested along with 74 others in the “Black Spring” of 2003, rallying other women whose loved ones had been imprisoned. The women held weekly marches, dressed in white to symbolize the purity of their motives and carrying gladioli. She passed away on Oct. 14, 2011, several weeks after the Damas de Blanco were attacked by a mob. She was posthumously honored with the Democracy Service Medal at a special Capitol Hill ceremony on December 14, 2011, which Soler, Maseda and Labrada Pollán joined by teleconference.

Opposition Leader Facing New Charges

From The Miami Herald:

Cuban dissident’s wife says police may file charges against him

The wife of a dissident who was freed last year fears police will try to force him to serve the rest of his 25-year sentence.

Cuban police want to file fresh charges against leading dissident José Daniel Ferrer García, freed last year after eight years in prison, which could return him to prison to serve the rest of his 25-year sentence, his wife said Monday.

Meanwhile, the Cuban man who shouted “Down with Communism” before a Mass by Pope Benedict XVI has said he planned his outburst “because someone had to tell the world what [Cubans] feel in a loud voice,” Radio Martí reported. There were unconfirmed reports late Monday that police arrested Andres Carrión, 38, again because of his comments to the Miami radio station.

Ferrer’s wife, Belkis Cantillo, said police told her when she visited him in jail Monday that they wanted to charge him with public disorder for organizing street marches, and receiving outlawed financial aid from the United States.

Ferrer has been one of the most aggressive dissidents in eastern Cuban since his release from prison in March last year, organizing a long string of public protests that drew some of the harshest police crackdowns over the past year.

Truth About Cuban Oil is Trickling Out

After endless debate and speculation about the Castro regime's latest offshore oil drilling partnership with Spain's Repsol (don't forget they unsuccessfully explored together in 2004), it seems some truths are finally trickling out.

For example, what happened to the specter of a catastrophic environmental disaster affecting Florida's coasts -- similar to that of the BP Macondo spill?

Well, the U.S. Coast Guard, along with several state, federal, county and wildlife agencies, have now concluded (after various simulation exercises):

"[T]hat even under intense weather conditions and high seas, oil from the damaged platform would take at least a week to reach the Middle Keys by way of the Gulf Stream. And by the time the oil got here, it would result in more of a cleanup nuisance than the type of ecological disaster seen on the shores of Louisiana in the aftermath of the DeepWater Horizon/BP oil spill two years ago this week [...]

Jim Jeansonne (of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) said the only way his team was able to get the fictional oil to come to the Middle Keys using computer models was to calculate sustained 34-knot winds for several days coming out of the southeast. He said it would be as if a tropical storm was off the Keys on the Atlantic side and did not move for days.

'The probability is low, which is good,' Jeansonne said.

He said the team also calculated scenarios where oil reached Key West and the Lower Keys, but he called the chances of that ever happening from a disaster on the Scarabeo 9 'even more remote.'"


In other words, it was all a ploy -- as in the past -- by the Castro regime's cheerleaders trying to "scare" Congress into lifting sanctions.

As a matter of fact, what is the biggest obstacle to Cuba's offshore oil exploration?

According to the Castro regime's own energy expert, Manuel Marrero Faz, the obstacle is what he described (during a hydrocarbon conference last week in Havana), "as the ruthless economic, financial and U.S. trade sanctions with Cuba."

Isn't that a shame.

And by the way, how is Repsol's latest exploration with the Castro regime going?

Apparently, not so good:

"Drilling of the first well in the long-awaited exploration of Cuba's offshore oilfields has gone slower than expected, but should be completed by mid-May, sources close to the project said.

They said drillers had encountered harder rock beneath the sea bed than expected, which combined with other minor problems, had slowed progress
."

Those are very expensive problems.

Stay tuned.

Image of Beaten Dissident

Monday, April 16, 2012
Last month, the Castro regime's secret police brutally beat pro-democracy activist and former political prisoner, Julio César Morales González.

He was essentially left for dead in front of a Methodist church near his mother's home in the eastern Cuban town of Holguin.

Morales Gonzalez had previously spent 12 years as a political prisoner and was released in 2005.

Here's a picture of him after the beating.

More "reform" you can't believe in.

Repsol Gets Burned Bad

Karma is a fascinating phenomenon.

Repsol's nonchalant attitude towards the rule of law has come back to bite them.

As you may recall, Spain's Repsol is also currently conducting offshore exploration with Cuba's Castro dictatorship.

Doing business with governments that have little to no regard for the rule of law is always bad business in the long-run.

From BBC:

Argentina to expropriate Repsol oil subsidiary YPF

The Argentine government will seize a controlling interest in oil company YPF owned by Spanish firm Repsol.

President Cristina Fernandez said a bill will be presented to the Senate allowing the government to expropriate 51% of YPF shares.

The move, announced on national television, was welcomed by her cabinet and Argentine governors.

Spain and the EU have already expressed concern at such a state takeover of YPF, in which Repsol has a 57.4% stake.

Today on "From Washington al Mundo"

Tune in today to "From Washington al Mundo" for an exclusive interview with U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.).

Congressman McCotter will discuss U.S. policy toward China, Russia and the recent dispute between President Obama and Governor Romney's foreign policy advisers.

Listen to "From Washington al Mundo" live today on Sirus-XM's Cristina Radio (Channel 146) from 4-5 p.m. (EST) and rebroadcast on Tuesday from 3-4 p.m. (EST).

Quote of the Day

Sunday, April 15, 2012
I’m not somebody who brings to the table here a lot of baggage from the past, and I want to look at these issues in a new and fresh way... I am sometimes puzzled by the degree to which countries that themselves have undergone enormous transformations, that have known the oppression of dictatorships or have found themselves on the wrong side of the ruling elite, and have suffered for it, why we would ignore that same principle here.”

-- U.S. President Barack Obama, on Latin American countries that want to include Cuba's Castro regime in the Summit of the Americas, Washington Post, April 15, 2012

Poland 1983 vs. Cuba 2012

Read the following AP article from June 16, 1983 carefully.

Note the striking similarities in the modus operandi of the Polish regime vis-à-vis the current modus operandi of the Castro regime.

From AP:

Held at Home, Walesa Says

Secret police entered labor leader Lech Walesa's home yesterday, Walesa said, and placed him under "house arrest" to keep him from meeting Pope John Paul II during his visit to Poland.

He vowed to try to meet the pontiff anyway, despite orders from three agents not to leave his home without them.

"I consider myself under house arrest," Walesa said by telephone from Gdansk, the Baltic seaport where he lives and where he led the now-outlawed independent trade union Solidarity.

"I shall pack up my things for Czestochowa at 1600 hours Friday whatever the consequences," he declared, "and that is that."

The Polish-born Pope is to arrive today, and Vatican officials have said privately that they hope to arrange a private meeting between the Pope and Walesa and his family, possibly on Sunday in Czestochowa. The Pope is to spend three days in that city, in southwestern Poland.

Walesa said guards had taken up positions "outside my doors, under my windows and balconies" of the apartment where he lives with his wife, seven children and aides.

Polish officials, who have derisively referred to Walesa as "former leader of a former trade union," say he has no official standing any more and so cannot have a meeting with the Pope. The two met last in November 1980 at the Vatican.

Officials suggested that a meeting still could take place, though. "Who can stop him if he really wants to?" a government spokesman said privately.

Deputy Premier Mieczyslaw Rakowski added during a news conference for foreign journalists, "In politics, we are frequently confronted by compromises."

As Polish citizens hung bunting and banners to greet the Pope on his arrival in Warsaw this evening, police and army units set up roadblocks and made security preparations for the pontiff's eight-day visit, which includes stops in six cities and two monasteries.

Polish authorities have warned Poles to be on their best behavior during the visit and have forbidden the sale of liquor in areas the Pope will visit.

A radio broadcast, purportedly from the clandestine Radio Solidarity, was heard last night in Warsaw, welcoming the Pope and vowing to "draw strength for further work" from his visit.

The government announced pardons yesterday for 795 prisoners, including political and "common" criminal offenders, but gave no indication that it might accede to calls for a general amnesty from the Pope, the church and Solidarity.

The official media reported that 73 prisoners objected to the way the pardons were worded and refused to accept them. Fifty of those freed had been serving time for organizing strikes or other union activity, the reports said.

The government regularly issues such reports. The latest announcement appeared to be timed to coincide with the papal visit, although the Pope was not mentioned.

At the Vatican, the Pope said at his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square that he hoped the trip "may serve the cause of truth and love, freedom and justice."

John Paul said the visit was taking place at "an immensely difficult moment in the life of my country." In the audience were 200 Poles and Polish emigres, who waved red and white Polish flags and sang the traditional toasting song, "Sto Lat" ("May he live 100 years").

H/T Dr. Tania Mastrapa

Amnesty Alert for Jose Daniel Ferrer

From Amnesty International:

URGENT ACTION

Cuban Prisoner of Conscience Still Held

Cuban government critic José Daniel Ferrer García has been detained without charge for more than 10 days. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. 42 others arrested at the same time have now been released.

José Daniel Ferrer García, the coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Union Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU) has been detained without charge since 2 April when he was arrested by security forces along with 42 others as part of a crackdown on government critics in the province of Santiago de Cuba. The others detained – who included his wife Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, a member of the protest group Ladies in White – were all released without a charge a few days after their arrest.

José Daniel Ferrer García is being held at the provincial headquarters of the Department of State Security (Departamento de Seguridad del Estado) in the neighbourhood of Versalles, on the outskirts of the city of Santiago de Cuba. He has yet to be charged and has not had access to a lawyer.

José Daniel Ferrer García was previously declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, along with 74 others who were imprisoned in 2003 solely for their the peaceful expression of their opinions. He was granted conditional release in March 2011, having served eight of his 25 year sentence. Under the terms of his release, he
could be sent back to prison to serve out the remainder of his sentence. Amnesty International believes his arrest is an attempt to repress the peaceful dissident activities he and members of UNPACU are undertaking in eastern Cuba and the organization is once again adopting him as a prisoner of conscience.

Rubio Delivers Letter From Ladies in White

Rubio Meets with Latin American Presidents, Delivers Letter from Ladies in White

Washington, D.C. – Today, at the Summit of the Americas, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio met with Paraguay President Fernando Lugo and Chilean President Sebastián Piñera.

During his meeting with President Piñera, Rubio hand delivered an open letter from the Ladies in White to the presidents of the hemisphere, calling attention to the Castro regime's deplorable human rights record. The letter also asks the democratic leaders of the region to exclude Cuba from future summits as long as the regime continues to deny the Cuban people the freedoms enjoyed by others throughout the hemisphere.

The letter Rubio delivered on behalf of the Ladies of White can be found here.

Mack to Santos: Cubans Deserve Democracy

Mack to President Santos: The Cuban People Deserve Democracy

CARTAGENA, Colombia -- Connie Mack, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and lead of the bipartisan Congressional delegation to the Summit of the Americas, reacts to comments by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during the summit on Cuba's participation at future hemispheric meetings.

Mack stated:

"As a leader who has struggled to preserve and protect democracy for his own people and promote regional economic integration through passage of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, we want to see President Santos succeed and we are on his side. But a leader must stand for what is right. There should be zero tolerance for military dictatorships in this - or any - hemisphere. I agree with President Santos that the Cuban people should be represented at the Summit of the Americas. But it should be by a democratically elected government that respects the human and political rights of its people, not a regime that chooses to isolate itself by refusing to respect the democratic standards by which the other 34 out of 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere abide. That is certainly not too much to ask, and it is the least that the Cuban people deserve."