Cuban-American Wins 1st Gold for Team USA

Saturday, July 28, 2012
From AP:

On a stunner of an opening night at the Olympic pool in London, Michael Phelps was routed by his American rival, Ryan Lochte in the 400-meter individual medley. Lochte took gold, and Phelps trailed by more than 4 seconds.

It's Team USA's first gold medal of the 2012 Olympic Games.

From NBC News:

The 6-time Olympic medalist credits his Cuban mom, Ileana "Ike" Lochte, for his success

He is on the cover of Vogue magazine, has commercials for Speedo, Gillette, and Ralph Lauren – and just happens to be one of the best swimmers in the world.

Florida’s own Ryan Lochte seems to be on top of the world, and the London 2012 Olympic Games are next on his list to conquer.

Lochte, who grew up in Central Florida, credits his Cuban mom for where he is today.

Will Carromero Become Spain's Alan Gross?

The Castro regime has released its "official" version of the accident that caused the death of Cuban pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Paya.

As expected, it blames a Spanish youth leader who was accompanying Paya, Angel Carromero, for the accident.

Paya's family rejects the regime's version of the events, as they have received independent reports that the car was rammed beforehand.

A couple of interesting things to note regarding the "official" report.

First, it comes from the Ministry of the Interior -- the Castro regime's entity tasked with intelligence and repression.

Second, the report quotes Carromero (and the Swedish survivor, Aron Modig), yet both remain detained with no independent verification of their versions.

And now, the Castro regime is weighing criminal charges against Carromero, in order to prevent Carromero from freely and publicly stating his version.

In other words, similar to American development worker, Alan Gross, who has been imprisoned since December 2009, Carromero might tragically become Castro's Spanish hostage.

Image of the Day

Friday, July 27, 2012
A Cuban police officer scrambles to cover graffiti on a wall reading "Down With Fidel."

Russia Seeks Navy Base in Cuba

UPDATE: The Russian Ministry of Defense has released a statement denying such negotiations are taking place.

Just over two weeks ago, Cuban dictator Raul Castro visited Moscow asking for help.

Is this what he had in mind?

From Bloomberg:

Russia is in talks to set up naval bases in former Cold War allies Cuba and Vietnam as President Vladimir Putin undertakes the country’s biggest military overhaul since the Soviet era.

“We are working on establishing navy bases outside Russia,” Vice-Admiral Viktor Chirkov, the navy’s commander-in- chief since May, said in an interview with the state-run RIA Novosti news service and confirmed by the navy.

Senator Lugar Releases Paya Resolution

U.S. Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN), Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee, has lifted his objection over the bipartisan resolution honoring Cuban pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Paya.

Kudos to Senator Lugar for his statesmanship.

Lugar's Paya Stunt Not Befitting of a Statesman

There are six months left in the long political career of U.S. Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN), the Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee, who was defeated in a primary earlier in the year.

It has undoubtedly been an honorable career. Thus, it's unfortunate to now see Lugar resort to a shameful tactic not worthy of his legacy.

Upon the advise of his Latin American affairs staffer Carl Meacham, Lugar is blocking consideration of a bipartisan resolution honoring the life of Cuban pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Paya.

Paya was tragically killed on Sunday in a car accident in eastern Cuba, along with fellow dissident Harold Cepero.

Why is Lugar blocking this resolution?

Because he wants the Senate to consider a resolution he had previously filed seeking to have Argentina ousted from the G-20,
pursuant to its nationalization of Spanish oil company Repsol's stake in Argentina's oil company YPF.

Befuddled? You should be.

It is in poor form to hold hostage a Senate resolution honoring a man who sacrificed his life for human freedom because you want to scold Argentina for its commercial chicanery.

The actions of Argentina's government are unquestionably reprehensible and deserve to be reprimanded, but there's no moral equivalence here.

Paya is a former recipient of the European Parliament's Sakharov Award for Freedom of Thought and a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. He has exhibited extraordinary courage in the face of one of the world's most brutal dictatorships. Think Havel, Walesa and Aung Sang Suu Kyi.

So let's be respectful of Paya's legacy and honor his struggle for human freedom.

He surely deserves better, not to mention his grieving wife and children.

Plus it sends a message that will reverberate just as strongly among the tyrants of Havana, as it will with their allies in Buenos Aires.

Swedish Crash Survivor Detained in Havana

Thursday, July 26, 2012
The following is a statement from Sweden's Christian Democratic Party (KDU) on the status of its youth leader, Aron Modig, who survived the car crash that took the life of Cuban pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Paya.

Our Swedish is rusty (actually, it's non-existent), so here's our best effort (with an assist from Google Translator):

"As previously reported, Aron Modig, president of the Christian Democratic Youth League (KDU), was in a car accident on Sunday evening in eastern Cuba. Aron Modig has been flown to Havana by the Cuban authorities. He is currently being held at a Migration Center. On Thursday morning, the Swedish Embassy asked to meet with him.

At present, we do not know when Aaron will return to Sweden, but he hopes to come home as soon as possible, says Donald Brook, General Secretary, KDU

Meanwhile, Paya's widow, Ofelia Acevedo, has told the media she was informed that Modig sent text messages to various friends in Sweden telling them their vehicle was rammed by another car.

Quote of the Day

"The federal Government has already labeled both Cuba and Syria as terrorist nations. So, why are they going to force us to do business with these countries? It doesn’t make sense. I think the law is on our side. And, I think we’ll be victorious in the end."

-- Florida State Senator Rene Garcia, on the appeal of a federal judge's decision to block a law banning taxpayer funds from companies that collude with Cuba and Syria, WFSU, 7/26/12

The Blah Blah on "Reforms"

Despite the continuous blah blah on economic "reforms" by the Castro regime and its U.S.-based talking heads, here's the bottom line.

From The New York Times:

Even though the Cuban market appears to be opening up, few residents voice any confidence about the changes. “Today we can buy and sell property, but many people still feel there may be no security in ownership,” the restaurateur said. “The laws in Cuba can change from one day to the next.”

Any questions?

Cuban Activist Was an Inspiration to Many

By former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta:

Statement on the Passing of Oswaldo Payá

Cuban Activist Was an Inspiration to Many

Although Payá’s name was not well known in the United States, he spent decades under constant threat in Cuba, trying to transform his native country through nonviolent action. The 60-year-old medical equipment engineer was inspired at a young age by his Roman Catholic faith and the events of the Prague Spring of 1968 to overcome his government’s intimidation tactics and build the Varela Project—his nation’s first widespread domestic opposition movement. As the driving force behind the Varela Project, a grassroots petition drive that worked within constitutional channels and collected more than 25,000 signatures in favor of expanding basic freedoms, Payá exemplified a thoughtful, inclusive, and home-grown approach to challenging the Cuban state.

Payá, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, not only inspired thousands of his fellow citizens but also earned the praise of the international community. In 2002 the European Union honored his “decisive contribution to the fight” with its most esteemed human rights award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. That same year the National Democratic Institute recognized “his courageous and steadfast commitment to fundamental human rights” with its W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award.

I met Payá and his wife at their Havana home in 2005. The house was under constant surveillance, both electronically and by ever-present security personnel in the street outside. My colleagues and I spoke to the Payás in whispers while music blared through the house in what was probably a futile attempt to stop the conversation from being overheard by the Cuban government.

Although undeterred by the personal intimidation, Payá was pained by the costs to his children who, at the behest of their government, were shunned by friends and denied university access. Nevertheless, Payá was determined to see change come to Cuba though peaceful, nonviolent action. Despite the oppression, he never lost his faith or his hope.

We mourn Payá’s death, but his legacy lives on in Cuba, around the world, and at the Center for American Progress.

John Podesta is currently Chair and Counselor of the Center for American Progress.

Oppenheimer Should "Heed" Paya's Words

In a column entitled "Romney Should Heed Paya's Message," The Miami Herald's Andres Oppenheimer exercised the bad judgment of using Oswaldo Paya's tragic death to try to assert his own political and anti-sanctions bias.

Perhaps it is Oppenheimer who should "heed" Paya's own words, for his views were more nuanced than Oppenheimer would like you to believe:

"It is not up to the U.S. to bring about changes in Cuba. Nor is it up to the U.S. businessmen who say that by doing business here they will bring change. Nor is it up to U.S. tourists. And I say this to those who say that U.S. tourists will bring changes to Cuba. The Spaniards and Canadians haven't done so. Moreover, that's an insult to the Cuban people. Changes will not be made by tourists drinking daiquiris and mojitos, strolling through our beaches and staying in hotels that Cubans can't stay in."

-- Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, Cuban pro-democracy leader, (1952-2012)

See it for yourself at the 13:40 mark here.

Pollan and Paya Will Not be Forgotten

Wednesday, July 25, 2012
From The Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board:

Oswaldo Payá

The Cuban dissident's moral example will outlive Castro.

Twice in the past year a popular and internationally recognized leader for democracy in Cuba has died in unusual circumstances.

On Sunday 60-year-old Oswaldo Payá died in a car crash in the eastern province of Granma, near the city of Bayamo. Fellow dissident Harold Cepero also died. Two foreigners—a lawyer and political activist from Madrid and a Swedish politician—were in the car but escaped with minor injuries.

Payá was a fervent Catholic and pacifist who devoted his life to resisting the Castro dictatorship. In 1988 he founded the Christian Liberation Movement, and his work on the Varela Project made him a global hero.

Varela collected 25,000 signatures in support of a national referendum on free elections, the release of political prisoners and the right to free assembly, free speech and freedom to run a business. That so many Cubans were willing to risk reprisals by signing their names was a testament to their belief in Payá's example. In 2002 he received the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for his bravery and moral leadership.

Payá's petition was lawful in Cuba at the time, and Fidel Castro responded by changing the law, declaring the socialist system irrevocable. In March 2003 the dictator rounded up 75 dissidents, journalists and writers, including some 40 Payá lieutenants who had worked on Varela, and sentenced them to long prison terms. Payá wasn't arrested and continued his denunciations of the dictatorship. His work always emphasized the need to rebuild Cuban spirituality and raise the population's awareness of its rights.

Payá's death comes nine months after the death of Laura Pollan, the leader of the Ladies in White, who won the Sakharov Prize in 2005. The Ladies had worked to win the release of imprisoned relatives, and Pollan later widened her human-rights work and expanded the organization. In October she came down with a mysterious illness and died after a week in a Cuban hospital. Her family never learned the details of her illness because her body was cremated within two hours of her death.

Castro may believe another problem is gone. But when the island's liberation finally comes, Payá and Pollan will count for more in Cuban memory.

"L" Stands for Libertad

An amazing image from the streets of Havana yesterday.

"L" stands for Libertad (Freedom).

White House Statement on Arrest of Activists in Cuba

From The White House:

We condemn the arrest of nearly 50 pro-democracy activists by the Cuban government during funeral ceremonies for Oswaldo Paya this week. Some of those arrested were reportedly beaten at the time of their detention. The fact that this occurred while hundreds of people gathered peacefully to commemorate the life of one of Cuba’s foremost human rights advocates only underscores the importance of Paya’s struggle on behalf of the Cuban people. Unfortunately, these arrests provide a stark demonstration of the climate of repression in Cuba, as demonstrated by the June arrest of Jorge Luis Garcia Perez following his testimony to a U.S. Senate Subcommittee regarding rights abuses in Cuba, and by hundreds of other arbitrary detentions in recent months.

We call on the Cuban government to respect internationally recognized fundamental freedoms, including freedom of speech, rather than arresting their citizens for peacefully exercising these universal rights that are protected and promoted by governments throughout the world. We look forward to the day when the Cuban people can live in the free society Oswaldo Paya worked so hard to bring about throughout his lifetime.

When Will The Castros’ Arms Tire?

By Jay Nordlinger in The National Review:

Oswaldo Payá, one of the greatest of Cuban dissidents, died on Sunday. How did he die? In one of those “mysterious car crashes.” Dissidents and other inconvenient people sometimes meet their end in these crashes. One was Andrei Amalrik, the Russian, who had his crash in 1980. As I say in Impromptus today, Natan Sharansky talked about Amalrik with me several years ago.

In 1969, Amalrik wrote a book called Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984? When that Orwellian year came around, Sharansky was in the Gulag, and “the KGB guys were telling me, ‘It’s 1984, and your friend is not here, but the Soviet Union is: It will exist forever.’” Not quite: A mere seven years later, the Soviet Union was caput.

Sharansky recalled to me an image used by Amalrik: A totalitarian society is like a soldier who must point his gun at a prisoner 24 hours a day, every day. Eventually, his muscles will tire, the gun will start to sag, and the prisoner will escape. So, here is my question: When will the Castros’ arms tire? It seems they are willing to point, and use, the gun indefinitely. There must come an end sometime — right?

Update on the Paya Crash Survivors

From McClatchy Newspapers:

The Cuban government described it as a one-car accident and Spain's El Mundo newspaper reported Tuesday, without identifying its sources, that Carromero, who was at the wheel, told Cuban police he missed a sign to slow down on a curve, lost control and went off the road.

Paya's son Oswaldo told journalists Tuesday, however, that the Europeans phoned their bosses in Sweden and Spain Sunday "to say that a truck hit them, crashed into them, rammed them several times until it drove them off the road."

Carromero also called one of his supervisors hours before the crash to report he was being "pursued" by another vehicle, said Regis Iglesia, the Madrid representative of Paya's Christian Liberation Movement, MCL,. Iglesia told El Nuevo Herald he spoke with the Carromero supervisor, in the youth wing of the ruling Popular Party.

Carromero was being held in Bayamo on Tuesday and could face charges in the fatal crash. Modig gave a deposition Monday and was in Havana on Tuesday trying to a get a seat on a plane to Europe, a European diplomat in the Cuban capital told El Nuevo Herald.

The truth of the crash will not be known until Modig and Carromero go home and offer "an objective and irrefutable testimony" free from possible Cuban government pressures, said Sanchez, whose own preliminary inquiry tended to support the government version.

Paya's widow, Ofelia Acevedo, told the Miami-based Radio/TV Marti that she learned of the crash when Iglesia called her from Madrid to report the car had been forced off the road and that three of the men were in a Bayamo hospital "but a fourth one was not."

She dialed his cellular phone and a policeman answered. "He told me that the phone was ringing, and that he had taken it from the pocket of the fatality," said Acevedo.

AI: Dozens Arrested at Paya Funeral

From Amnesty International:

Cuba: Dozens arrested at funeral of prominent rights activist

The Cuban authorities’ arrest and short-term detention of more than 40 activists as they paid their respects at the funeral of human rights activist Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas is another sign of how entrenched repression against dissidents on the island remains, Amnesty International said.

Among those arrested and shoved onto buses immediately following Tuesday’s funeral mass in the capital Havana were former prisoner of conscience Félix Navarro Rodríguez and outspoken dissident journalist Guillermo Fariñas.

Elizardo Sánchez, President of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, told Amnesty International how as many as 200 state security and police officers descended on the street outside the church in the Havana neighbourhood of El Cerro and began roughing up the mourners and bundling them into buses.

“The authorities don’t want the public to know how many people were there and that we’re not afraid of them,” Guillermo Fariñas told Amnesty International after his release.

The journalist said the police pushed him to the ground outside the church, before forcing him to board the bus with around 20 other mourners, the majority of whom were also mistreated by police. Many shouted chants including “Long live Oswaldo!” and “freedom for Cuba!”

They were then held at different locations in the capital, including Tarará Police School in East Havana. Most of them, including Guillermo Fariñas and Félix Navarro Rodríguez were released several hours later and it appears the last of those held were let go on Wednesday morning.

“Tuesday’s events follow the pattern of short-term detentions and imprisonments we’ve seen the Cuban authorities carry out time and again as a form of intimidation against dissidents and human rights activists,” said Gerardo Ducos, Amnesty International’s Cuba researcher.

“Indeed, it was the very kind of repression which Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas dedicated his life to combating before his tragic death last weekend.”

Payá, whose funeral the activists were attending, fell victim to a road accident on Sunday in eastern Cuba’s Granma Province.

The longtime activist was leader of the “Liberation” Christian Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, MCL) and had spent time in a labour camp in the 1960s for his beliefs.

In 2005, the European Parliament awarded him the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought – which has also been awarded to Guillermo Fariñas and the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) activism group.

An official investigation has been opened into Payá’s death as his family members raised questions about the exact circumstances of the car crash.

Caught on Tape: Repression During Paya's Funeral

Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Hablemos Press has filmed some of the police repression during today's funeral procession in Havana honoring deceased Cuban pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Paya.

Over 50 activists have been arrested thus far.

It takes a particularly cruel regime to repress during a funeral.

Here's more context from AFP:

Dissidents arrested at Paya funeral in Cuba

Cuban police arrested dozens of dissidents Tuesday at a funeral for political activist Oswaldo Paya and after his daughter's vow to seek justice over his sudden death in a road accident.

Those arrested included Guillermo Farinas, a leading rights activist, who was held for questioning by plainclothes police deployed outside the Havana church where Paya's funeral was held.

Farinas, known for hunger strikes that drew attention to the plight of political prisoners in Cuba, and about 50 others were stopped by police after emerging from the funeral mass shouting slogans against the government.

They were forced onto two buses that the church had provided to take people to the cemetery where Paya was to be buried.

Click below to watch the video footage:

FL Appeals Ruling Against Cuba/Syria Law

From AP:

Scott says state appealing ruling on businesses with ties to Cuba, Syria

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says the state is appealing a federal judge’s ruling that blocked enforcement of a law barring governments from contracting with companies also doing business in Cuba or Syria.

Scott said Tuesday that Florida should not support the repressive Cuban and Syrian governments.

The state wants an Atlanta-based appeals court to reverse U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore’s ruling that prevented the law from taking effect July 1.

That ruling came after a legal challenge from Coral Gables-based Odebrecht Construction Inc., which contends the law is unconstitutional because foreign policy power rests solely with the federal government.

Odebrecht’s parent company in Brazil has a subsidiary working to expand Cuba’s port of Mariel. At stake are bids on billions of dollars in Florida state and local government contracts.

Senate Resolution Honoring Oswaldo Paya

This morning, Senators Bill Nelson, Bob Menendez, and Marco Rubio have introduced a resolution (S. Res. 525) to honor the life, legacy, and exemplary leadership of Cuban dissident and activist Oswaldo Payá. Payá died in a car crash on Sunday, July 22, 2012 in Bayamo, Cuba. Payá was 60 years old and is survived by his wife and three children.

Payá devoted his life to peaceful opposition on the island. His Varela Project stood for civil and human rights, including free and fair elections. It was the largest petition drive in Cuban history, delivering thousands of verified signatures to the regime and calling for an end to one party rule, freedom for political prisoners, and support for private business. Payá bravely led this initiative at great risk to himself, his loved ones, and associates. For his incredible work, he received the European Parliament’s Sakarov Prive for Freedom of Thought in 2002 and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by former Czech President Václal Havel in 2005.

S. Res. 525 recognizes and honors Payá’s life and legacy. In memory of Oswaldo Payá, the resolution also calls on the Cuban government to provide its citizens with internationally accepted standards for civil and human rights, and it calls on the Cuban Government to allow an impartial, third party investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Oswaldo Payá.

Honoring the life and legacy of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas

S. RES. 525

Honoring the life and legacy of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas;

Whereas on Sunday, July 22, 2012, 60-year-old Cuban dissident and activist Oswaldo Payá died in a car crash in Bayamo, Cuba;

Whereas at a young age, Oswaldo Payá criticized the communist government in Cuba, which led to his imprisonment at a work camp on Cuba’s Isle of Youth in 1969;

Whereas in 1988, Oswaldo Payá founded the Christian Liberation Movement as a non-denominational political organization to further civic and human rights in Cuba;

Whereas in 1992, Oswaldo Payá announced his intention to run as a candidate to be a representative of Cuba’s National Assembly of Popular Power and, two days before the election, was detained by police at his home and determined by Communist Party officials to be ineligible to run for office because he was not a member of the Cuban Communist Party;

Whereas in 1997, Oswaldo Payá collected hundreds of signatures to support his candidacy to the National Assembly of Popular Power, which was rejected by the Cuban electoral commission;

Whereas the Cuban Constitution supposedly guarantees the right to a national referendum on any proposal that achieves 10,000 signatures from Cuban citizens who are eligible to vote;

Whereas in 1998, Oswaldo Payá and other leaders of the Christian Liberation Movement created the Varela Project, a signature drive to secure a national referendum on “convert[ing] into law, the right of freedom of speech, the freedom of press and freedom of enterprise;”

Whereas in May, 2002, the Varela Project delivered 11,020 signatures from eligible Cuban citizens to the National Assembly, calling for an end to four decades of one-party rule, to which the Cuban government responded by beginning its own referendum that made the island’s socialist system “irrevocable,” even after an additional 14,000 signatures were added to the Varela Project petition;

Whereas the Varela Project is the largest civil society-led petition in Cuban history;

Whereas Oswaldo Payá bravely led this initiative at great risk to himself, his loved ones, and associates;

Whereas in March 2003, the Cuban government arrested 75 human rights activists, including 25 members of the Varela project, in the crackdown known as Cuba’s “Black Spring;”

Whereas Oswaldo Payá’s dedication to freedom and faith earned him the European Parliament’s Sakarov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2002;

Whereas Oswaldo Payá received the W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award from the U.S. National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in 2003;

Whereas Oswaldo Payá was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by former Czech President Václav Havel in 2005:

Whereas President Barack Obama stated, “We continue to be inspired by [Oswaldo] Payá's vision and dedication to a better future for Cuba, and believe that his example and moral leadership will endure.”

Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate ---

(1) recognizes and honors the life and exemplary leadership of Oswaldo Payá;

(2) offers heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Oswaldo Payá;

(3) praises the bravery of Oswaldo Payá and his colleagues for collecting over 11,000 verified signatures in support of the Varela Project;

(4) in memory of Oswaldo Payá, calls on the United States to continue policies that promote respect for the fundamental principles of religious freedom, democracy, and human rights in Cuba, in a manner consistent with the aspirations of the people of Cuba.

(5) in memory of Oswaldo Payá, calls on the Cuban government to provide its citizens with internationally accepted standards for civil and human rights, and the opportunity to vote in free and fair elections; and

(6) calls on the Cuban Government to allow an impartial, third party investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Oswaldo Payá.

More Castro Regime Visas (and Barbara Lee Fetes)

The Obama Administration has granted three more Castro regime officials U.S. visas.

In May, it granted U.S. visas to Cuban dictator Raul Castro's daughter, Mariela, and to 60 other regime officials, in order to attend a Latin American Studies Association (LASA) conference in San Francisco.

This time, the Castro regime officials have been granted visas to attend an AIDS conference in Washington, D.C.

They are:

Dr. Lorenzo Jorge Perez Avila, Director of the Pedro Kouri Tropical Medicine Institute
Luis Estruch Rancaño, Deputy Minister of Public Health, Cuba
Maria Isela Lantero, Director of the AIDS Programs, Cuba

These officials are also being feted by U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) at an event on Capitol Hill tomorrow, where they will laud "[the] very promising work happening in Cuba."

Never mind that the Castro regime's solution to HIV/AIDS on the island has been to involuntarily place Cubans suffering from the disease in isolated sanitarium prisons.

In other words, to further violate their civil liberties.

As we posted last year, the Castro regime has five prison facilities for Cubans suffering from HIV/AIDS. Many of its inmates are sent to these facilities under the draconian "Law Against Social Dangerousness," a measure also used against political prisoners.

Below is a picture of the Santa Clara HIV/AIDS prison where over 235 inmates are held. Note that the International Committee on the Red Cross and U.N.'s Special Rapporteur Against Torture are not allowed to enter Cuba and inspect these facilities.

Thus, no accountability whatsoever.

How would Barbara Lee like it if everyone in her Oakland district suffering from HIV/AIDS was involuntarily imprisoned?

Isn't that antithetic to what being a liberal is supposedly all about?

As for the Obama Administration, when will it stop rewarding Castro regime officials with U.S. visas despite violating the fundamental rights of the Cuban people (not to mention of an American hostage)?

Enough is enough.

Must Watch: "Libertad!" at Paya's Mass

Monday, July 23, 2012
Those attending today's Havana Mass in honor of deceased Cuban pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Paya began yelling "Libertad!" ("Freedom!") in an emotional chorus.

Click below to watch.

Image of the Day

Deceased Cuban pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Paya's widow receives the support of the Ladies in White during today's Mass in his memory:

Romney Statement on Paya's Death

Mitt Romney: Cuba Has Lost a Strong and Respected Voice

Boston, MA – Mitt Romney today made the following statement on the death of Cuban activist Osvaldo Paya:

"The cause of freedom in Cuba has lost one of its strongest voices and respected leaders yesterday. The news of Osvaldo Paya's death is profoundly heartbreaking and infuriating. The circumstances surrounding Mr. Paya's death again raise questions about the pattern of conduct by a despotic regime that is constantly seeking ways to annihilate all internal dissent while the world stands in silence. The international community should demand that the facts concerning Paya's death be accurately determined and that the surviving witnesses be protected.  Ann and I wish to convey our deepest condolences to the Paya family and to Cuba's pro-democracy movement for the loss of Osvaldo Paya, a man of extraordinary courage, conviction, and peace."

Nelson Statement on Death of Oswaldo Paya

Statement by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) on the Death of Oswaldo Payá

Sen. Nelson was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Oswaldo Payá.  Payá's Varela Project was a symbol for civil and human rights in Cuba, including free and fair elections.  He led this petition initiative at great risk to himself and for his work he received the European Parliament's Sakarov Prive for Freedom of Thought in 2002 and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.  His fight for freedom and democracy won't be forgotten.  And Sen. Nelson will continue to support the cause of freedom for the Cuban people.

Rubio Statement on Death of Oswaldo Paya

Senator Rubio Mourns the Loss of Cuban Dissident Oswaldo Paya

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement regarding the tragic loss of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, who died in a car crash on Sunday:

"Oswaldo Payá's death is a tragedy and huge loss for his family and all Cuban people, especially those who struggle in and outside of Cuba to see an end to the repressive Castro regime. My condolences go out to the Payá family, and my prayers are with them during this difficult time. I also join in solidarity with all those courageous Cubans who continue the fight for freedom that Payá was an instrumental part of for so many years.
Payá is one of many heroes on the island who has exposed the myths and failures of the Cuban Revolution and challenged its habitual violation of human rights. As we try to learn more about the circumstances of Payá's death, it is critically important that the international community join those inside Cuba in pressuring the regime to be forthcoming with the truth. Given this regime's gross human rights record, its callous treatment of political dissidents and over 50 years worth of blood on its hands, we should insist that they be transparent in answering all the questions about Payá's death. It's important that anyone with knowledge about this car crash be protected and allowed to share what they know."

Oswaldo Payá challenged the legitimacy of the Cuban government by creating the Varela Project. The project took advantage of a loophole in the Revolution's Constitution by collecting petitions calling for democratic liberalization of Cuban society. The Castro regime's brutal response of canceling the petition and arresting the leading signatories of the project proved once again that the Castro Communist dictatorship's sole purpose in its dying moments is to remain in power at all costs. The regime's response led to the "Black Spring", whereby 75 independent journalists and activists were unjustly imprisoned. Payá was also a founding member of the Christian Liberation Movement that was created to denounce human rights violations in Cuba.

White House Statement on Paya's Death

From The White House:

The President's thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Oswaldo Payá, a tireless champion for greater civic and human rights in Cuba.  Payá  gave decades of his life to the nonviolent struggle for freedom and democratic reform in Cuba as the head of the Christian Liberation Movement, the leader of the Varela Project, and through his role as a civil society activist.  He remained optimistic until the end that the country he loved would see a peaceful and democratic transition.  We continue to be inspired by Payá's vision and dedication to a better future for Cuba, and believe that his example and moral leadership will endure.  The United States will continue to support the Cuban people as they seek their fundamental human rights.

Today on "From Washington al Mundo"

Tune in today to "From Washington al Mundo" for an in-depth conversation with former U.S. Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who will discuss issues from Cuba to Syria, and foreign policy in the 2012 Presidential election.

TIME UPDATE: You can now listen to "From Washington al Mundo" seven-days a week on Sirius-XM's Cristina Radio (Channel 146) from 4-5 p.m. (EST) and again at midnight (EST).

Quote of the Day

"There was a car trying to take them off the road, crashing into them at every moment. So we think it's not an accident. They wanted to do harm and they ended up killing my father."

-- Rosa Maria Paya, daughter of Cuban pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Paya, who was tragically killed yesterday, McLatchy Newspapers, 7/23/12

Embassies Must Protect Paya Crash Survivors

Sunday, July 22, 2012
As we previously posted, Cuban pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Paya was killed in a car accident in Bayamo, when his car was rammed.

According to Paya's family, he was the victim of a similar accident two weeks ago. The family decided to keep it silent at the time.

Thus, there's an obvious pattern, which raises questions of whether this was in fact an "accident."

There is a Swedish (Aron Modig)and Spanish (Angel Carromero Barrios) survivor of today's crash, who were accompanying Paya.

Modig is the President of Sweden's Christian Democratic Youth League and Carromero Barrios is Vice-President of the Partido Popular's New Generations.

It's imperative that their Embassies protect them, so the truth can prevail.

The Castro regime currently has the provincial hospital in Bayamo surrounded by police forces.

Oswaldo Paya Killed in Accident

Cuban pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Paya has been tragically killed in a traffic accident today in the city of Bayamo.

Several Europeans that accompanied him were also injured.

Paya was a 2002 recipient of the European Parliament's Sakharov Award for Freedom of Thought.

There are still more pending questions than answers surrounding this mysterious accident.

Our thoughts and prayer are with his loved ones.

Quote of the Week

"This always happens. Every time there is an opening for any kind of business they look for a way to close it."

-- Maria, who uses her Spanish passport to travel to the United States several times a year to buy goods for resale at her home in Santiago de Cuba, on the Castro regime's steep new tarrifs, Reuters, 7/19/12