We Support "Por Otra Cuba" ("For Another Cuba")

Saturday, June 7, 2014
On Sunday, June 8th, the independent think-tank, Estado de Sats, is relaunching its "Por Otra Cuba" ("For Another Cuba") initiative.

In 2008, the Castro regime signed, as a propaganda maneuver, the United Nations Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Six years later, these Covenants have not be ratified -- let alone implemented -- in Cuba.

The "Por Otra Cuba" campaign calls on the Castro regime to ratify and implement these Covenants -- and to abide by international law.

To mark the relaunch of this campaign, distribute the logo below on social media.

Within Cuba, it is being replicated as graffiti.

We proudly support "Por Otra Cuba."

Tweet of the Day: Cuba Doesn't Need a Foreign Investment Law

By Yaxys Cires Dib of Cuba's dissident, Christian Democrat Party:

Cuba doesn't need a Foreign Investment Law.  It needs economic freedom and property rights for Cubans. And for foreigners: national treatment.

Where Are the "Self-Employed" and "Reform" Defenders?

Over a dozen "self-employed" bike-taxis and horse carriage drivers have been arrested in the town of Cardenas, Matanzas, for protesting a decision by the Castro regime that prohibits them from transiting through main thoroughfares. (They can only use secondary and back streets.)

Yet, the only group that has raised their voice in defense of these imprisoned individuals is the pro-democracy dissident group, The Ladies in White.

So where are the groups that seek to focus U.S. policy on the "self-employed"? Or do they only care to use them as a "back-door" to do business with the Castro regime?

Also, last week the Castro regime announced that travelers are not permitted to carry with them packages for third-parties. Violations will result in fines or criminal charges.

This is an effort to crack-down on "mules" that take packages to Cuba (for a fee). This merchandise is mostly for families, but also ends up in the informal market and less so in the "self-employed" market.

However, the Castro regime insists on monopolizing all packages entering the country and to exert control over the informal sector. And like any good monopoly, it simultaneously announced an increase in fees to send packages through its state agencies.

We constantly see news reports praising Raul's "reforms." So where are the news reports denouncing this sham?

Irony of the Week: Cuban Democracy Activists vs. Hillary Clinton

Friday, June 6, 2014
This week, 574 Cuban democracy activists associated with the Civil Resistance Front, led by former prisoner of conscience Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez," courageously signed their names to a letter rejecting current efforts to ease U.S. sanctions.

Note: In Cuba, it's easy (and even wins you favor) to state opposition to U.S. sanctions, but expressing support is punishable with up to 15 years in prison.

These 574 democracy activists are in addition to recent statements against lifting U.S. sanctions by The Ladies in White, with hundred of members throughout the island; the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU), with thousands of activists; Estado de Sats, the largest independent think-tank; The Emilia Project, led by Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet; and the Christian Liberation Movement, with its nation-wide presence.

Despite their courage and the fact that these activists are the ones suffering the brutal repression of the Castro regime, it's practically ignored in the media.

Meanwhile, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton writes in her new book that she advised President Obama to ease sanctions -- against the wishes of these courageous Cuban activists on the ground -- and it's celebrated all over the media.

Shameful.

We proudly stand with Cuba's democracy activists.

The Tyranny of Experts

There's a great review in the L.A. Review of Books of "The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor" by renowned economist and NYU Professor William Easterly.

The book focuses on international development experts, but it's akin to some Cuba policy "experts" and their recent initiatives, e.g. the Council of the America's "timbiriche project."

Excerpt from the L.A. Review of Books:

William Easterly has struck the development establishment where it is weakest: its appalling human rights record.

The main service of the development establishment to oppressors of the poor is a relentless effort to recast moral and political problems as technical problems with technical solutions. In global or local discussions, the development technocrat can be counted on first to change the subject from oppression to solely material concerns and then to be a reliable source of legitimacy. The tyrant has little to fear from the technocrat’s abstract, decontextualized language, or his belief, in Easterly’s words, “that poverty is a purely technical problem amenable to such technical solutions as fertilizers, antibiotics or nutritional supplements.” Even the most human issues, like government itself, are technicalized, becoming matters only of expertise and capacity.

The technocrat does not wrestle with raisons d’état or ally with tyrants out of some tortured moral calculus (though he is used as cover for the former); he is simply above politics.

Another American Hostage Taken

It seems the world's rogue regimes have come to believe that America is willing to pay a high price for its hostages.

From CNN:

North Korea: We've detained another American

North Korea announced Friday that it has detained a U.S. citizen who it says entered the secretive country as a tourist in April and broke the law.

The news brings the number of Americans believed to be held in the communist nation to three.

The North's state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that authorities are investigating a man who it said violated the law by acting "contrary to the purpose of tourism."

In a brief English-language article, KCNA gave the American's name as Jeffrey Edward Fowle, saying he arrived as a tourist on April 29. It didn't give any other details.

Over 550 Cuban Democracy Activists Reject Efforts to Ease Sanctions

In a document signed by over 550 democracy activists from within Cuba, the Assembly of the Resistance launched an appeal to the international community to support democracy activists in Cuba and Venezuela, and to impede efforts to ease sanctions against the Castro regime.

APPEAL TO THE CONSCIENCE OF THE FREE NATIONS OF THE WORLD

Whereas, in recent days the Castro dictatorship, which for more than five decades has oppressed and continues to oppress the people of Cuba, has increased the viciousness of its attacks, both against Cubans on the island and through its puppet regime in Venezuela against the students and people of that sister nation;

Whereas, in the face of inaction by the Organization of American States (OAS), there has been an increase in repression by the Castro regime in Cuba and an expansion of its totalitarian reach in Latin America;

Whereas, business interests from around the world, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are trying to economically bolster the repressive Castro regime, to the detriment of those suffering on the island, placing financial interests over the demand for human rights.

The Assembly of the Cuban Resistance appeals to the moral conscience of the international community, to exercise its influence and authority, in order to:

  • Halt the intervention of Venezuela by the Castro regime;
  • Respect the physical and moral integrity of the Venezuelan people, which are undertaking an exemplary non-violent struggle for human rights and freedom, and is being brutally repressed;
  • Express solidarity for the Venezuelan students and people, so they feel the support of the world's free men and women, in their struggle against the same totalitarian forces which have oppressed Cuba for the past five decades; and
  • Condemn the measures taken by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other initiatives, which motivated by spurious economic interests, impede the efforts of the Cuban people to achieve their freedom. Instead of foreign investment with the dictatorship that represses the Cuban people, what we need is for the free world -- and most importantly Cubans in exile -- to support the efforts of the civil resistance.
1.             Jorge Luís García Pérez “Antúnez”
2.             Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina
3.             Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera
4.             Abel Ruiz Rosado
5.             Abel Torna Gavilán
6.             Abelardo Castro La Serra
7.             Adaimis Miranda Leisca
8.             Adis Miriam Dayé Urgelle
9.             Adonis Angel Verdú Martínez
10.           Adrián Rivas Cruz
11.           Agustín Alonso Parada
12.           Alain Lázaro Valdés Almereida
13.           Alain Polo Rodríguez
14.           Alberto Alain Fernández Pérez
15.           Alberto Antonio Machado Rodríguez
16.           Alberto Carlos Zamora González
17.           Alberto Gonzáles Sardiñas
18.           Alberto Prieto Estrada
19.           Alcibiades Joel Ramírez Cruz
20.           Alejandro Santiesteban
21.           Alexander García Bicet
22.           Alexander La Hera Rodríguez
23.           Alexander Montes de Oca Morfi
24.           Alexander Oliva Rodríguez
25.           Alexander Rodríguez Santisteban
26.           Alexis García Guzmán
27.           Alexis Pérez Lescaller
28.           Alexis Ros  Lasitta
29.           Alfredo Doinel Macías Suárez
30.           Alina Álvarez Roque
31.           Aliobis Castillo Villalva
32.           Aliuska Gómez García
33.           Alma Roig Rodríguez Díaz
34.           Amada Elisa Pileta Vázquez
35.           Amaury Agüero Mora
36.           Ana Fernández Mora
37.           Ana Maria Tamayo Ruíz
38.           Anderlay Guerra Blanco
39.           Andi González Hernández
40.           Andrés Abelino Domínguez Beltrán
41.           Andrés Cutiño Galán
42.           Andrés Lugo Pérez
43.           Andrés Pérez Suárez
44.           Andro Alberto Legrá Terrero
45.           Ángel Batista Vegas
46.           Ángel Cala Proenza
47.           Ángel Lino Fernández
48.           Ángel Pozo Rodríguez
49.           Ángel Ramón Hernández Moré
50.           Ángel Suero Oliveira
51.           Anisleidis Martínez Mayor
52.           Anubis de la Caridad Rodríguez Oro
53.           Anoy Rodríguez Fernández
54.           Antonio Luzardo Placencia
55.           Antonio Ramón Fonseca
56.           Arcadio Yero Aleaga
57.           Arian Ramón González Piñal
58.           Ariel Cruz Meneses
59.           Ariel Diego Acheco
60.           Ariel Giraldo Puertas
61.           Ariel González Sendiña
62.           Armando Batista Ávila
63.           Armando Hernández Solís
64.           Armando La Case
65.           Armando Narciso Novoa Esquivel
66.           Arruan Correa Malagón
67.           Asnier López Soria
68.           Aymeé Pintado Aldaya
69.           Basilio Alexis López Irbone
70.           Barbara Pupo Torres
71.           Bartolomé Carvajal Rodríguez
72.           Belkis Pérez Pérez
73.           Benigno Cruz Reina
74.           Benjamin Alexis Correa León
75.           Bernardo Cabrera Silva
76.           Bob Lemenos Fonseca
77.           Braudolio  Alcolea Suárez
78.           Braulio Artie Castañé
79.           Caridad García Carta
80.           Caridad Sotero Arsanza
81.           Carliel Vidal Camacho
82.           Carlos A. González Hernández
83.           Carlos Alberto Peña Cruz
84.           Carlos Manuel Hernández Jiménez
85.           Carlos Manuel Rumbao Vega
86.           Carmen Julia Rodríguez Seija
87.           Catalina Hidalgo Monell
88.           Celia Oro Guerrero
89.           Clara Leidys De la Rosa
90.           Clara Parra Ferrer
91.           Cristandi Següeño Cedeño
92.           Daimaris Morales Piña
93.           Daisy de la Caridad Ponce Marino
94.           Damaris Esquivel Acosta
95.           Damaris Garcia Martínez
96.           Damaris Leyva Matos
97.           Damaris Revé Rodríguez
98.           Danaysi González Capote
99.           Danaysi Muñoz López
100.         Dania Hernández Varó
101.         Daniel Albelio Pérez Cruz
102.         Daniel Alfaro Frías
103.         Daniel Cito Lamoth
104.         Daniel López Ramos
105.         Daniel Machado Amado
106.         Daniel Ouber Cisneros
107.         Daniel Varona Fernández
108.         Danilo Giraldo Puertas\
109.         Daniuska Toro del Pozo
110.         Dannelis Alcolea Varó
111.         Danny Salgado Guiteras
112.         Dayamanti González Capote
113.         Deinis García Ramos
114.         Deisy Romero Fernández
115.         Deivis Daniel López Rodríguez
116.         Delio Francisco Rodríguez Díaz
117.         Denier Barrios Correa
118.         Dennis Morales Llorente
119.         Dexter Pérez Rodríguez
120.         Diana Nubia Hornia Rodríguez
121.         Diane Gómez Hernández
122.         Dixan  Moreno Guerrero
123.         Domingo Andrés Pino
124.         Dunia Barros Correa
125.         Edilberto López Torres
126.         Eduardo Eugenio Ríos Fernández
127.         Eduardo Pérez Almanza
128.         Eduardo Pérez Almora
129.         Eduardo Ramos Balaguer
130.         Eglis LA Fonte Biliau
131.         Eguar Ramírez Torres
132.         Elaidys Ferrer Durán
133.         Elaine Bárbara Gómez Plasencia
134.         Elainy del Carmen Pupo Echevarría
135.         Elia Ángel Téllez Tian
136.         Eliecer Palma Pupo
137.         Eliso Castillo González
138.         Elizabeth Soa Ricardo
139.         Elsa Sarduy Saleno
140.         Emil Irandi Sobrasen Villar
141.         Emir José Bermúdez Pérez
142.         Ermis Carbonell Ferrer
143.         Erneides Torne Cabrera
144.         Ernesto Arocha Carta
145.         Ernesto Díaz Silva
146.         Ernesto Fonseca García
147.         Ernesto Leonardo Soler Nieves
148.         Ernesto López Matamoros
149.         Ernesto Manuel Carrera Moreno
150.         Ernesto Molina Escobar
151.         Ernesto Ramos
152.         Ernesto Suarez Figueroa
153.         Esbert Ramírez Argota
154.         Eugenio Jomarrón Oropeza
155.         Evelín Penira Concepción
156.         Eyder Almeida Moreno
157.         Fco Javier Aolce Abreu
158.         Fela Río Casao
159.         Fela Vaillán Plana
160.         Feliberto La Hera Benítez
161.         Felicia Santos
162.         Félix Rivero Cordoví
163.         Fermín Zamora Vázquez
164.         Fernando Alberto Castellanos
165.         Francisco Garcia Forniel
166.         Francisco Javier Alce Abreu
167.         Francisco Lázaro Concepción Díaz
168.         Francisco Luis Manzanet Ortiz
169.         Francisco Seguías Morales
170.         Francisco Zas Fusté
171.         Frank Sac Durán
172.         Franklin Montoya Sánchez
173.         Geovanis Izaguirre Hernández
174.         Gerardo Ortega Torres
175.         Gisel Aguilar Aguilera
176.         Graciliano Lafita Lafita
177.         Griselle Hernández Herrera
178.         Guillermo Feria Reyes
179.         Guiseidys  Piña González
180.         Haydee Galván Casals
181.         Héctor González Salazar
182.         Henry Arencibia Figueroa
183.         Hugo Damian Prieto Blanco
184.         Humberto Biel Merin
185.         Humberto Hurtado Mesa
186.         Humberto J Quirós González
187.         Idel Ruíz Torres
188.         Idolquis Domínguez Sabinde
189.         Isael Poveda Silva
190.         Ismael González Reyes
191.         Iván Ricardo Quevedo
192.         Ivonik Behar Cardozo
193.         Jacqueline Aguilera Disaire
194.         Jacqueline Callado Guardamaro
195.         Janet Izquierdo Álvarez
196.         Janet Mosquera Cayón
197.         Janoi Alain Gonzalez Magueira
198.         Jared de la Torre
199.         Javier Delgado Torna
200.         Javier Rodríguez González
201.         Jenni Hernández Román
202.         Jenry Rey Rodríguez
203.         Jesús González García
204.         Jesús Nibaldo Rojas Riviera
205.         Jesús Osorio Ruiz Calderón
206.         Joaquín Milanés Torres
207.         Joel Artiaga Cuello
208.         Joel Moisés Pérez Ramírez
209.         Jonnai Fonseca Aura
210.         Jorge Canse Betancourt
211.         Jorge Félix Candelaria Martínez
212.         Jorge Fernández Mora
213.         Jorge González Echemendia
214.         Jorge Luis Cedeño Marrero
215.         Jorge Luis Feria Jardines
216.         Jorge Luis López Tamayo
217.         Jorge Luis Trujillo González
218.         Jorge Millares Loa
219.         Jorge O. Lorenzo Pimienta
220.         Jorge Peña González
221.         Jorge Zaldívar Pérez
222.         José Antonio Alcorca Ramírez
223.         José Antonio Pompa López
224.         José Antonio Sisnés Rolando
225.         José Cano Fuentes
226.         José Díaz Silva
227.         José Francisco Fernández Adán
228.         José Lorenzo Cordero Prieto
229.         José Luis Gómez Cueto
230.          José Luis Martínez Somoza
231.         José Luis Torres Mariño
232.         José Manuel González Gómez
233.         José Manuel Peña Peña
234.         José Manuel Rodriguez
235.         Jose Martí Menéndez
236.         José Matos Duvergel
237.         José Miguel Piña González
238.         José Reinaldo Rodríguez Martínez
239.         José Rodríguez Herrada
240.         Josué Eduardo Carmenate Fernández
241.         Juan  Miguel Acosta Hernández
242.         Juan Bautista Boza Ortiz
243.         Juan Carlos Carmona Ceballos
244.         Juan Carlos Cito Lamoth
245.         Juan Carlos Hernández Cito
246.         Juan Carlos Lemus Pereda
247.         Juan Carlos Ramírez Fría
248.         Juan Carmelo Bermúdez Rosabal
249.         Juan Francisco Bofil Betancourt
250.         Julia Ramírez González
251.         Julio Arias Tejeda
252.         Julio César Fernández Zambrana
253.         Julio Cesar Pérez Pérez
254.         Julio Cesar Pérez Zaldívar
255.         Julio César Valdéz Díaz
256.         Julio González Diez
257.         Julio Magaña
258.         July Ferrer Bravo
259.         Julys Michelena Díaz
260.         Katika Lasitta Pupo
261.         Katiuska Rodríguez Rodríguez
262.         Keisy Delgado Montes
263.         Kirenia Herry García
264.         Kirenia Jiménez Medina
265.         Laudelina Alcalde García
266.         Laurelino Rodríguez Mendoza
267.         Lázara Bárbara Sendiña Recalde
268.         Lázaro Acosta Mena
269.         Lázaro Antonio Pérez González
270.         Lázaro Armando Opian Vázquez
271.         Lázaro Coy Rodriguez
272.         Lázaro E. Rodríguez Suárez
273.         Lázaro José de la Loba Usin
274.         Lázaro Méndez Cárdenas
275.         Lázaro Mendoza García
276.         Lázaro Yobanis Montesinos Hernández
277.         Leidis Tabares López
278.         Leidy del Carmen Ramírez Morales
279.         Lenin Córdova García
280.         Leona Antonia Quesada Lemos
281.         Leonardo Pita Díaz
282.         Leonardo Rodríguez Alonso
283.         Leonardo Viamonte Marrero
284.         Leonis Matos Matos
285.         Léster Lora Carbonell
286.         Léster Ronald Guerra Padrón
287.         Leticia Dorado Alonso
288.         Leudanis Raudell Gómez Calderón
289.         Levy García Rivero
290.         Leydis Reyes Cusa
291.         Lian Soriano Sarduy
292.         Liván Gómez Castillo
293.         Lidel Abarra Cadezal
294.         Lilian Hernández Chacón
295.         Lismeris Quintana Ávila
296.         Lissandra Cisneros Fumero
297.         Livián Quiñones González
298.         Lourdes Díaz Esquivel
299.         Lourdes Esquivel Vieto
300.         Luis Abel Rodríguez Aguilera
301.         Luís Andrés Domínguez Sardiñas
302.         Luís Antonio Rodríguez Isaac
303.         Luís Eduardo Pérez Machín
304.         Luís Enrique Guiber Martínez
305.         Luís Enrique López Torres
306.         Luís Jesús Gutiérrez Campos
307.         Luís Manuel Fumero García
308.         Luís Noa Silva
309.         Luis Reinaldo Álvarez Ríos
310.         Luisa Antonia Quesada Lemos
311.         Lusinda González Gómez
312.         Magaly Pérez Moreno
313.         Maidalis Leina Cortilla
314.         Maikel Martínez Cruz
315.         Maikel Mora Reyes
316.         Maikel Verdecia Sánchez
317.         Mailín Ávila Méndez
318.         Manuel Alejandro del Valle Íñigo
319.         Manuel Hernández de la Rosa
320.         Manuel Landy Ramos
321.         Manuel Moret Labrada
322.         Manuel Pérez González
323.         Manuel Rogelio Rey Carvajal
324.         Manuel Sardiñas Zañón
325.         Maray García Hernández
326.         Marcelino Abreu Bonora (preso político)
327.         Marco Antonio Díaz Boicochea
328.         Marda Naranjo Rodríguez
329.         Margarita Rodríguez Díaz
330.         María del Carmen Hernández
331.         María Elena González Grandy
332.         María Rosa Hernández Molina
333.         María Suárez Sánchez
334.         Mariela Rojas Sierra
335.         Marilyn Falcón Hernández
336.         Mario Delgado Cazaña
337.         Mario Moraga Ramos
338.         Marisol Marrero Medre
339.         Marisol Pupo Sierra
340.         Maritza Concepción Sarmiento
341.         Marlene Eduardo Aguilar
342.         Marlenis Abreu Almaguer
343.         Marlín Rodríguez Reyes
344.         Marta Alina Rodríguez Pérez
345.         Marta del Carmen Hernández
346.         Marta Leonisia Ramos Casado
347.         Marta Méndez Escalero
348.         Marta Pérez Rodríguez
349.         Michad Proenza Esquivel
350.         Miguel Daniel Borroto Vázquez
351.         Miguel Guerra Artie
352.         Miguel López Santos
353.         Miguel Yusdiel Ruíz Ortíz
354.         Mileysis Díaz Ceija
355.         Miriam Avilé Oliva
356.         Mirca Montalvo Acosta
357.         Misael Ávila Marrero
358.         Misahel Valdés Díaz
359.         Naida León Silva
360.         Nancy Quiñones González
361.         Natalie Correa León
362.         Nely Castellón Rojas
363.         Nely May Cuesta González
364.         Nelqys Faure Echavarría
365.         Nelson Pascual Rodríguez Pupo
366.         Nikel Barrero Vanega
367.         Nilda García Gil
368.         Niola Camila Araujo Molina
369.         Niurcy Acosta Pacheco
370.         Niurka Hernández Moré
371.         Niurka Valera Rodríguez
372.         Noberto Negrín Medero
373.         Odalys Legrá Castellanos
374.         Odelsis Gómez Plasencia
375.         Oilyn Hernández Rodríguez
376.         Oleidys Yopis Amenares
377.         Omni Rodríguez Fuentes
378.         Ordenis Miñones Strit
379.         Orel Jordan Cabaña Vargas
380.         Orestes Puente Correa
381.         Orlando Chirino Rodríguez
382.         Oscar E. Mestre del Lleno
383.         Osleydis Carmona Guerra
384.         Osmaily Hernández Rivera
385.         Osmel López García
386.         Osnier Rodriguez Espinosa
387.         Osvaldo Mendoza Ferrial
388.         Oswaldo Cabrera Capote
389.         Pablo Enrique Camero Romero
390.         Pablo Ramón Lázo Peña
391.         Paulina González Chávez
392.         Paulo Escobar Rodríguez
393.         Pavel Hernández Rodríguez
394.         Pedro Enrique Aguilar Pupo
395.         Pedro Fontanar Miranda
396.         Pedro Larena Hernández
397.         Pedro Luis Ruíz Tamayo
398.         Pedro Pablo García Cárdenas
399.         Pedro Yankiel Ortega Sánchez
400.         Pilar Norma García Martínez
401.         Quirenia Aguilar Céspedes
402.         Quireña Díaz Arguelles
403.         Radamés Bueno Echevarria
404.         Raday Matos Matos
405.         Rafael Elías Argante
406.         Rafael Estrada Acosta
407.         Rafael González Estévez
408.         Rafael Martínez Ferreira
409.         Rafael Meneses Pupo
410.         Rafael Ramos Balaguer
411.         Rafael Rodríguez Echemendía
412.         Raicel Rodríguez Rivero
413.         Raidis Caballero
414.         Raimundo López Landasur
415.         Ramón Castañeda
416.         Ramón Chávez Furones
417.         Ramón Olivares Abello
418.         Randy Caballero Suárez
419.         Rataris Pérez Aguilera
420.         Raúl Cruz Febles
421.         Raúl Eires Granado Aura
422.         Raúl González Manso
423.         Rebeca Rojas Puyán
424.         Reinaldo Barrientos Salazar
425.         Reinaldo Cuesta Faria
426.         Reinaldo Fiera Enrique
427.         Reinaldo Lázaro Martínez
428.         Reinaldo Pérez Escalona
429.         Reinel Matos Matos
430.         Reinier Hernández Torne
431.         Reinier Jomarron Vega
432.         Reinier Mandry Quiñones
433.         Reinier Wilson Castellanos
434.         René Hazlo Hernández
435.         René Noa Sánchez
436.         Ricardo Jesús Valle Arango
437.         Ricardo Luna Rodríguez
438.         Ricardo Rodríguez Figueredo
439.         Rigoberto del Pozo Chacón
440.         Roberto Cedeño Rojas
441.         Roberto de Jesús Reyes Hernández
442.         Roberto de la Rosa Estrada
443.         Roberto González Peregrín
444.         Roberto Ocampo Rivero
445.         Roberto Velazquez Arias
446.         Roberto Velázquez Santisteban
447.         Rolando Díaz Silva
448.         Romelia Piña González
449.         Romero Morejón González
450.         Ronni Gómez Luna
451.         Ronnie Estrada Medina
452.         Rosa Quintana Cervantes
453.         Rosaida Escalona González
454.         Rosneidis Leiva Salas
455.         Rosney Bejerano Silot
456.         Roxanna Sánchez Cocho
457.         Rubén Corti Rowet
458.         Sabier Martínez Puentes
459.         Samuel Hernández Izquierdo
460.         Sandra de la Caridad Ávalos Bejerano
461.         Santiago Batista de la Rosa
462.         Santillo Martínez Álvarez
463.         Sarai Pérez Pedroso
464.         Saúl Fernando Hernández Cubela
465.         Segundo Rey Cabrera González
466.         Sergei Plana Diaz
467.         Sergio Rubia Negrín
468.         Silvio Proenza Batista
469.         Soldeiris Turella Porcio
470.         Sonia Torres Mariño
471.         Soraya Cruz Bruzón
472.         Suanmi Hernández Vilar
473.         Tania María Acosta Morales
474.         Tatiana Leiva Wenclán
475.         Tavinys Sotomayor Rodríguez
476.         Tomasa del Carmen Chelán Castillo
477.         Verdis Martínez Alvides
478.         Vicente Col Campanioni
479.         Víctor Quindelán Sánchez
480.         Victoria Díaz Silva
481.         Vilma Reiner Acosta
482.         Vivian Peña Hernández
483.         Viznely Danilsa Vidal Pérez
484.         Vladimir Turro Páez
485.         Walfrido Pérez Garcia
486.         William Alexis Cases Díaz
487.         William Murcia Rivero
488.         William Nelson Morgado Avaro
489.         Wilmer Moreira Proenza
490.         Xiomara de las Mercedes Cruz Miranda
491.         Yadira Elena Rivera Montero
492.         Yamilé Más Guzmán
493.         Yamilet Lai Sangrone
494.         Yanara Monsol Reyes
495.         Yaneisis Herrera Cabral
496.         Yanelis Iraida Flores Ramos
497.         Yaniel Losa Cailos
498.         Yanisbel Boza García
499.         Yaquelín Morales Fernández
500.         Yarolan Catalán Veiga
501.         Yaser Negrín Naranjo
502.         Yaser Pérez Perdomo
503.         Yasiel Enrique Machado Rodríguez
504.         Yasmani Borroto Bergolla
505.         Yasmani Cuesta González
506.         Yasmani Ramírez Rodríguez
507.         Yasmany Trujillo Álvarez
508.         Yasmel Montoya Avile
509.         Yatsiret  Bentilla Quiñones
510.         Yeimel Hernández Núñez
511.         Yeisi romero Fernández
512.         Yelenis Delgado Cue
513.         Yemalet Sangrone
514.         Yenni Quesada Rodríguez
515.         Yeris Curbelo Aguilera
516.         Yislani Damina Pérez Ponciano
517.         Yoan Ricardo Llerena  (Lourdes –Las Tunas)
518.         Yoan Rodríguez Fernández
519.         Yoandra Dieguez Rodriguez
520.         Yoandri Jorrin Alvarez
521.         Yoandri Montoya Avile
522.         Yoani Rosa Garrido
523.         Yoanis Ortega Benítes
524.         Yoannis Díaz Antúnez
525.         Yobel Sevilla Martínez
526.         Yoel Jerez Pérez
527.         Yoelvis Boza García
528.         Yoisiel Quevedo González
529.         Yoitel Machado Elías
530.         Yojan Adrián Sevilla Ramírez
531.         Yolanda Pérez Díaz
532.         Yolangel Pupo Pérez
533.         Yordan Marrero Huerta
534.         Yordanka Web Valtineri
535.         Yordis García Fournier
536.         Yosli Zamora Casimiro
537.         Yosvani Martínez Santillán
538.         Yosvany Pupo Pérez
539.         Yudani Fleitas Orozco
540.         Yudier Blanco Pacheco
541.         Yudiset Amores Aguilera
542.         Yuleidys López González
543.         Yuni Guerrero Rey
544.         Yunier Álvarez Montero
545.         Yunieski Gainza Acosta
546.         Yunieski Legrat Cusaga
547.         Yunieski Perdomo Echazabal
548.         Yunior Cortina Ramírez
549.         Yunior Quesada Pupo
550.         Yurileisis Aleman Ferrera
551.         Yurisander Aguilera Naranjo
552.         Yurise Torres Torriente
553.         Yurisleidis Viero Blanco
554.         Yusmel Acosta Aguilera
555.         Yusniel Chabeco Rodríguez
556.         Yusnier Pérez Peña
557.         Daniel Millet Jiménez
558.         Michel Canet Velazquez
559.         Michel Batista Fernández
560.         Fidel Palacio Tomas
561.         Yoysi Alfredo Camacho Núñez
562.         Marbelis Fernández Cruz
563.         Marisol Peña Coba
564.         Yudesy Rondón Villavicencio
565.         Martha Marcela Morales Rodríguez
566.         Orlando Gómez Echevarria
567.         Iván Tamayo Valdes
568.         Pedro Castillo Mauri
569.         Antonio Rodríguez Guerra
570.         Lázaro Chinea Paez
571.         Maria del Rosario Guillen Alaya
572.         Jorge Luis Suárez Varona
573.         Leney Mijans Calistre
574.         Conrado Galindo Sariol

Report: Venezuela-Cuba Facilitate Infiltration of Iranian Agents

Thursday, June 5, 2014
A new report by the Washington D.C.-based, Center for a Secure Free Society, and Canada's Institute for Social and Economic Analysis, raises concerns about the use of Venezuela as a "bridge" to smuggle Iranian agents into North America.

The report entitled, "Canada on Guard: Assessing the Immigration Security Threat of Iran, Venezuela and Cuba," highlights the following key points:

- Iran is collaborating with Venezuela and Cuba to exploit the seams in the Canadian immigration system.

- From 2009 to 2011, Latin America was the largest prior embarkation region for improperly documented Iranians migrating to Canada to seek refugee status.

- Venezuelan authorities provided at least 173 passports, visas and other documentation to Islamist extremists seeking to slip unnoticed into North America.

- Soft power solidarity networks in Canada serve as a “Trojan Horse” for Iran and ALBA to establish cover for spies, saboteurs and other nefarious actors.

As regards the passports, visas and other documentation to Islamist extremists, it's important to remember that Venezuela's immigration system has been under Cuban control since 2004.

At that time, Cuba's former intelligence chief, General Ramiro Valdes, and the Vice-Chancellor of its University of Information Science (UCI), Jose Lavandero Garcia, oversaw and implemented the complete overhaul of Venezuela's passport and naturalization agency (including all of its data, software and systems), formerly known as ONIDEX.

Read the full report here.

Has China Policy Failed? Or Has Cuba Policy Failed?

On this 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, which resulted in the death of thousands of democracy activists by the Chinese regime, we ask:

Has China policy failed?

This is a rather simplistic question -- but it's similar to the one employed (as seemingly the only talking point) by opponents of U.S. policy toward Cuba.

The fact is neither has failed, for neither China or Cuba are democratic nations that respect the fundamental human, civil and political rights of its people.  Vietnam can be added to this equation as well.  Meanwhile, Burma has begun to tilt the scales towards the success of sanctions.

Time will tell which country becomes a democracy first -- Cuba or China?

Considering that U.S. policy toward China has helped create the most lucrative dictatorship in human history, our bet is on Cuba.

Only then will we know which policy failed. 

In the meantime, it's clear that all of the trade and investment with China is not having a liberalizing effect.

-- From U.S. News and World Report:

Tiananmen Censorship Reflects Crackdown Under Xi Jinping

China's new president is more aggressive on censorship than his predecessor.

When it comes to free speech, China’s new boss is even worse than the old boss. China has routinely cracked down on anti-government speech during the days leading up to the June 4 anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square violence against pro-democracy protesters, but newly elected President Xi Jinping has responded to Internet growth with even stricter censorship and intimidation to silence dissent.

-- From Amnesty International:

China: Persecution of Tiananmen activists exposes President Xi’s reform lies

Xi has opted for repression over reform, as the authorities persist with trying to wipe the events of 4 June from memory.

The widespread persecution of activists in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown exposes the lie behind President Xi Jinping’s claims to be delivering greater openness and reform, said Amnesty International.

Dozens of activists have been detained, placed under house arrest or questioned by police in recent weeks for attempting to commemorate the hundreds, if not thousands, of unarmed protesters and civilians who were killed or injured in the crackdown.

Those detained in recent weeks include human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and prominent journalist Gao Yu. Others including Ding Zilin, spokesperson for the Tiananmen Mothers, have been placed under house arrest.

For 25 years, relatives of the victims have fought for justice at great personal cost. Most of the Tiananmen Mothers are now elderly, and a number of the original members of the group – both mothers and fathers - have passed away.

Twenty-five years on from the bloodshed, the government continues to use any means necessary to prevent Chinese citizens from expressing opinions at odds with government rhetoric. It jails activists on trumped-up charges, and uses violence against those who seek to protect human rights within the current legal system.

2014 has seen a wider clampdown against citizens calling for reform – most notably those associated with the New Citizens Movement. Several leading activists associated with the network – whose calls for greater transparency and an end to corruption echo many of the calls made by the pro-democracy protests in 1989 – have received long prison sentences.

-- And Collin Gallant in Medicine Hat News:

Increased trade with China still hasn’t sparked debate about democracy

[T]oo often, Western leaders who offer even the mildest criticism of China’s human rights record are forced to leave it politely at that.

Essentially, China’s foreign policy stance has been that outsiders should mind their own business, lest talk of internal affairs affect external relations. That means trade, and the country that’s speeding towards becoming the world’s largest economy has increasing clout.

Companies rush to do business in China. Every conversation on the Western Canadian economy revolves around the hope of shipping oil and gas off the west coast. Long gone are the days when “Made in China” was novelty.

For the past two decades, every U.S. president has argued that greater interaction would normalize relations with China and that increased trade would lead to liberalization.

Interestingly it’s the exact opposite tact that has been employed in the blockaded smaller, and notably poorer, countries like Cuba and North Korea.

Whether the more open trade policy has bolstered democratic prospects in China is extremely debatable.

But that hardly matters, since no one cares to have such a debate.

Castro Regime Endorses Lobbying Efforts to Ease Sanctions

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
During an event today for the release of three Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States, the head of Castro's Interests Section in Washington, Jose Ramon Cabañas, endorsed efforts by the Council of the Americas and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to unilaterally ease sanctions.

"There is no relationship between what U.S. society does, feels and says, it does not reflect on what the authorities are doing," he told EFE.

Cabañas lauded Raul Castro's economic "reforms" and added that "the (U.S.) government should reflect that interest of the will of civil society," referring to efforts by these U.S.-based groups to ease sanctions.

(Note how the Castro regime has already thwarted and adopted the term "civil society" to suit its purposes.)

Meanwhile, at a press conference in Miami last week, radical pro-Castro groups, including the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, ANSWER Coalition and the Maceito Brigades also celebrated the Council of the America's letter and other similar efforts.

According to The Miami Herald: "[ANSWER Coalition Executive Director Brian] Becker also noted that recent weeks have seen a campaign urging President Barack Obama to improve relations with Havana that includes posters in Washington’s Metro system and a letter to the White House signed by 44 prominent personalities."

Needless to say, a hard-currency windfall, coupled with totalitarian control, international impunity and record-breaking repression is music to the Castro dictatorship's ears.

Quote of the Week: Raul's "Reforms" vs. Real Regulations

The reforms are one thing and all the regulations are another. It feels like the earth keeps moving under our feet. Nothing works like they say it will.
-- Ibrain Vibes, 43-year old Cuban farmer, on the announcement that the Castro regime will give some farmers direct access to its state wholesale markets, Reuters, 6/1/14

This Saturday: CubAmerican Screening in Washington, D.C.

This Saturday, June 7th, at 7:15 P.M., the documentary film, CubAmerican, will be screened at the Burke Theater (U.S. Navy Memorial) in Washington, D.C.

Don't miss this great film!

Click here for ticket information.

Cuban Dissidents Launch Constitutional Change Initiative

From The Miami Herald:

New movement tackles constitutional changes in Cuba

More than 300 roundtable sessions that attracted 2,400 people were held last weekend in Cuba, part of a project to reach a consensus among political players and civil society — inside and outside Cuba — on a proposed constitution.

The debates of the so-called Constitutional Road Map, driven by opposition figure Manuel Cuesta Morúa, include the hope that thousands more people will sign on to the project, known as Constitution Assembly Now.

Morúa, leader of the Progressive Arch movement, said that the discussions focused on finding a consensus about whether to reform Cuba’s current constitution, reinstate the 1940 constitution or create a new one.

The initiative comes as a government commission is conducting a closed-door study of possible changes to the constitution.

Although the 72 organizations currently working on the road map are mostly in the opposition, Morúa said Tuesday that “the idea is to open the process to all citizens. It’s about reaching a wider legitimacy with the participation of citizens not linked to the opposition. This is not a discussion among opposition groups, and this first activity proved it.”

Morúa said that among the 2,400 participants were many people who were not activists or opponents of the Cuban government, and that the roundtables should fairly “open the discussion to citizens in their communities.”

To avoid government control — authorities often prevent similar meetings — the nature of the meetings and the places where they were to be held were not announced in advance.

You Forgot Havana, Mr. President

U.S. President Barack Obama delivered some good remarks today during his Freedom Day speech in Warsaw, Poland.

We're glad he mentioned the struggle for freedom in Caracas, but he forgot to mention the overarching struggle for freedom at the root of Venezuela's ills -- in Havana, Cuba.

From President Obama's remarks:

We stand together because we know that the spirit of Warsaw and Budapest and Prague and Berlin stretches to wherever the longing for freedom stirs in human hearts, whether in Minsk or Caracas, or Damascus or Pyongyang. Wherever people are willing to do the hard work of building democracy -- from Tbilisi to Tunis, from Rangoon to Freetown -- they will have a partner in our nations. For in the struggles of these citizens we recall our own struggles. In their faces we see our own. And few see this more clearly than the people of Poland.

From Within Cuba: An Analysis of the Embargo

Cuba's only independent think-tank, Estado de Sats, led by democracy and intellectual leader Antonio Rodiles, hosted a session to discuss U.S. policy towards Cuba and the recent letter by the Council of the Americas.

Rodiles is joined in the discussion by independent journalist, Camilo Ernesto Olivera, and former prisoner of conscience (from the Black Spring crackdown of 2003), Jorge Olivera.

It's a great elaboration of their concerns regarding recent efforts to unconditionally lift U.S. sanctions towards Cuba.

Please watch (in Spanish) below (or here).

Cuban Dissidents Confront Insulza at OAS General Assembly

Yesterday, pro-democracy groups held a parallel forum at the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), currently being held in Asuncion, Paraguay.

Cuban dissidents invited to attend this event had a run-in with OAS Secretary General, Jose Miguel Insulza.

Viezant Boloy, a Cuban independent lawyer and democracy activist, told Insulza:

"You abandoned us in Havana!" (referring to Insulza's attendance of the CELAC Summit there in January).

"I didn't see you," said Insulza.

"Of course you didn't, I was in prison along with other human rights defenders.  You knew it and did nothing!" retorted Boloy.

(Boloy was arrested, along with other Cuban dissidents, for trying to organize a parallel human rights forum during CELAC in Havana.)

Here's the reason "Why the OAS is Irrelevant Today":

Cuban Gay Rights Activist Brutally Beaten, Arrested

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
David Bustamante Rodriguez, a 21-year old gay rights activist, was arrested for holding a peaceful protest on the rooftop of his home in Santa Clara.

During the protest, he chanted "food and freedom" and held signs demanding the respect for human rights. He is now being accused of "public disorder."

David, who is HIV positive, was arrested and taken to an AIDS prison, where he brutally beaten.

He was left with a broken arm, ribs and hip.

Needless to say, Mariela Castro is nowhere to be found.

More "reform" you can't believe in.

State: No Alan Gross for Cuban Five (Three) Exchange

From the U.S. State Department's Daily Press Briefing with Spokesperson Jen Psaki:

QUESTION: [S]ince you, the Administration, has decided to do this (Sgt. Bergdahl-Taliban exchange), does it have any implications for other cases where Americans are held, specifically two of them, Alan Gross and Bob Levinson? There’s some discussion in the ether that it might be appropriate to trade the three remaining Cuban Five for Mr. Gross, given the fact that he was, while not a soldier serving in uniform, was working for – indirectly for the U.S. Government, as was Bob Levinson when he was – went missing on Kish Island.

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you all know, but it’s worth repeating, Sergeant Bergdahl was a member of – is a member of the military who was detained during an armed conflict. That obviously is a unique circumstance in any case. Whether it’s Alan Gross or Kenneth Bae or others who are detained American citizens, we take every step possible to make the case and to take steps to ensure their return home to the United States.

QUESTION: Right. But this seems to be – especially in the Alan Gross case, the Cubans have made it perfectly clear – not just privately, but I mean, they’re screaming it from the rooftops – that if there can be a resolution to the three remaining of the Cuban Five, that then Alan Gross will be freed.

MS. PSAKI: I – again, every circumstance is different, Matt, and I’m not going to speak to every circumstance from the podium. But this is a case where he was a member – is a member of the military. He was detained during an armed combat – armed combat. These were a unique set of circumstances.

QUESTION: So working for another agency of the government makes a difference? You’re not prepared to trade people for someone who was not serving in uniform?

MS. PSAKI: Again, Matt, we take every circumstance and every case of an American citizen being detained overseas incredibly seriously, and we do everything we can to assure their return.

QUESTION: And then my last one then is: So that means that the Administration is still opposed to any deal with the Cubans for Alan Gross that involves the three remaining Cuban Five?

MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed in that case, no.

Tweet of the Day: Castro's Rolex Marxism

Quote of the Day: No Freedom Without Solidarity

There is no freedom without Solidarity. There is also no freedom if there is no solidarity with nations who want to have freedom but have not claimed it yet.
-- Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, toast remarks during today's Solidarity dinner with U.S. President Barack Obama in Warsaw, Poland, 6/3/14

Charlie Crist's Numbers Plummet Among Cuban-Americans

Monday, June 2, 2014
Last month, a policy advocate at the New York-based Council of the Americas, which has zero experience in Florida politics, but is leading a lobbying effort to press the Obama Administration to bypass Congress and ease Cuba sanctions, wrote in Politico:

"Crist’s Cuba change of heart has cleverly repositioned him relative to Scott in a way that reflects broader demographic changes in the state beyond Cuban-Americans [...] As of early May, Crist still led in most statewide polls. How much that will change since his Cuba announcement remains to be seen. But it’s a fair bet that, despite Scott’s efforts to tar him as soft on the Castro regime, Crist will come out even at worst."

Wrong bet.

Survey USA has been tracking the Florida Governor's race for WFLA-TV Tampa.

Note this is not polling by Miami groups, or by Washington, D.C. or New York City foreign policy groups, with an agenda.

In Survey USA's April 14, 2014 poll, Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) led Charlie Crist (now D) by a 52%-46% margin among Cuban-Americans.

Since then, Crist has gone full-steam ahead with his newly-found Cuba policy of wanting to lift all sanctions, travel to the island, conduct business with the Castro regime (despite recognizing Cuba should remain a "sponsor-of-terrorism") and insult those who disagree with him.

How has this fared for Crist in the polling data?

In Survey USA's May 23, 2014 poll, current Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) now leads Charlie Crist (now D) by a 63%-30% margin among Cuban-Americans.

That's more than a 2-to-1 margin.

There may just be another flip-flop in Crist's near future.

Venezuela Transferred $18 Billion to Cuba

Meanwhile, the Cuban economy remains in shambles, which raises the questions:

What has Castro done with all of this money?

What benefits have the Cuban people derived from this money?

From El Universal:

USD $18 billion sent to Cuba in last three-years

The cash flow included lending, donation and investment

The Cuban economy did not collapse in the last decade only because of the input from the Venezuelan government. In three years only, USD $18 billion was transferred in the form of loans, investments or grants.

The government of deceased President Hugo Chávez, and now the administration of Nicolás Maduro, never provided details of uncontrolled outlays. However, little by little, official data from Caracas and Havana have provided an estimate of the alliance paid in cash.

In 2008-2011, approximately USD $18 billion was transferred from Venezuela to Cuba by means of funds, loans and investments. Most of it accounted for payment of services and the onerous Bolivarian philanthropy.

The sum of money arises from data collected as part of a research conducted by the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE), based in the United States. To that aim, the official numbers in Cuba were considered.

"We don't know how much is debt and how much is transfer (gift). The impression is that almost all of it is transfer and the debt, if any, is under very favorable conditions," explained Luis R. Luis, the author of the paper, Ph. D in Economy and a member of the ASCE board of directors.

Most of financial flows to Cuba through 2013 come from Venezuela, yet the breakdown is unknown. "Some must be debt, yet the numbers do not show it," Luis said.

After Taliban Exchange, Castro Reiterates Ransom Demand for American Hostage

Unsurprisingly, the day after the Obama Administration authorized the exchange of five Taliban prisoners to secure the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the Castro regime held a press conference to reiterate its ransom demand for American hostage Alan Gross.

The press conference featured Cuban spy, Fernando Gonzalez (pictured below), who returned to the island in February after serving a 15 year prison sentence in the United States for his espionage activities.

Of course, the case of Alan Gross is very different from the Taliban exchange.  Click here for the reasons why.

Nonetheless, it already seems to be sending the wrong message to rogue regimes throughout the world.

From AP:

Cuba Agent: US-Taliban Prisoner Swap a Precedent

The exchange of five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo for a U.S. Army soldier held captive in Afghanistan could set a precedent for a similar swap with Cuba, a Cuban intelligence agent who spent years imprisoned in the United States said Monday.

Fernando Gonzalez, who returned to the island in February after serving more than 15 years behind bars in the United States, said the deal to secure the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has a clear parallel to the cases of U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross and three Cuban agents still imprisoned in the United States.

"It is obvious that the only thing needed is the will on the part of the U.S. government to bring about that swap or exchange," Gonzalez said in his first news conference back in Havana. "This latest development makes that clear."

WSJ: Foreign Investors Won't Liberate Cuba

By Mary Anastasia O'Grady in The Wall Street Journal:

Foreign Investors Won't Liberate Cuba

The billions already poured into the island have done nothing to advance civil society.

Attitudes toward the 52-year-old—though much-modified—U.S. embargo of Cuba's military dictatorship have changed a lot in recent years. But not always in the ways you might expect.

There was a time when it was not hard to find a Cuban dissident willing to criticize the embargo. Today, a great many of the island's political activists and human-rights advocates no longer believe that foreign investment helps them in their struggle for liberation. They are asking for more economic pressure on the regime from abroad, not less.

As Cuban political activist Antonio Rodiles told journalist Pablo Diaz Espi for the Spanish website Diario de Cuba last month, "We need, first and foremost, the re-establishment of basic rights and freedoms. The international pressure, which includes the American embargo, is very necessary to at least contain the impunity enjoyed by the totalitarian regime."

This is worth noting, not the least because of new pressures on President Obama to allow Americans to do more business in Cuba. Last month one group—made up largely of lobbyists and former U.S. bureaucrats and politicians who now make their living as consultants—sent a letter to Mr. Obama asking him to unilaterally lift some restrictions on U.S. investment and travel to Cuba.

The letter's signers say a change in U.S. policy "can help the Cuban people determine their own destiny," strengthen civil society and improve bilateral relations between the U.S. and the dictatorship. But as Cubans are not allowed to freely engage in any business transaction with a foreign entity, any new investment from the U.S. must go through the Castro brothers and their friends.

The dissident community on the island and in exile responded to the letter with indignation. "The embargo that must be eliminated is the one which totalitarianism has imposed on the Cuban people," Cuban poet and former political prisoner Raúl Rivero wrote in the Spanish daily El Mundo. As to bilateral relations, once there is a democracy, "the issues between both governments can be resolved diplomatically in 24 hours."

Cuba's Christian Liberation Movement, founded by the late Oswaldo Payá, had this to say: "To support and applaud this logic of no-rights is an act of complicity that infringes, precisely, against the potential birth of a real 'civil society.' "

Advocates for economic liberty argue that the embargo unjustly restricts American freedom: Investing abroad is central to free trade whether in South Africa during apartheid or in Castro's Cuba. That's a defensible libertarian argument. But it's a bad joke coming from signatories to the letter like Andres Fanjul, whose family made a fortune from U.S. sugar quotas or Venezuelan tycoon Gustavo Cisneros.

On a visit to Cuba last week Tom Donohue, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, reportedly commended the regime for its recent efforts to attract investment. That's a howler too.

For more than 20 years Castro has been inviting foreigners to run hotels, mine for nickel, make cement and otherwise provide capital to the island. Spaniards, Canadians, Brits, Swiss, Italians and Russians, among others, have invested billions in partnership with the government. Some of these investors have made use of confiscated American property. Millions of Europeans and Latin Americans have made Cuba a tourist destination. Hundreds of thousands of Americans now travel to the island every year.

Yet Cubans are still tyrannized. Foreign employers pay the government in hard currency, but the government pays the workforce slave wages in nearly worthless local pesos. Foreign capital funneled to the despots has only made life for ordinary Cubans worse because it has given Castro an economic lifeline and more resources with which to repress the population.

Cuban philosopher and former University of Havana Professor Alexis Jardines argued in Diario de Cuba last week that focusing on Cuba's economic problems plays into the hands of the thugs: "We shouldn't forget that in state socialism, misery is artificially provoked."

It's true that Cuba is changing slowly, but that's being driven by desperation not engagement. The Castros want to end the embargo not because they are reforming but because they are not reforming. The economy remains a train wreck. The regime can now buy all the food and medicine it wants from the U.S., but under the embargo it has to pay cash. Having defaulted on nearly $75 billion in loans from the rest of the world, it has run out of willing state creditors.

Cubans now permitted to travel abroad bring merchandise from Miami, reducing some of the privation on the island. But the regime knows well that accumulating wealth means accumulating some control of one's own destiny. That's why a foreigner caught paying an employee hard currency can end up in jail.

It can be profitable doing business in a Caribbean country with one-man rule. I get it. But the theory that a wave of foreign investment to Cuba will swamp the totalitarian boat has been tested and failed. Let's not pretend that cutting deals with plantation owners is about making Cubans better off.

Over 1,120 Political Arrests in May

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights (CCHR) has documented 1,120 political arrests by the Castro regime during the month of May 2014.

With 4,941 political arrest in just five months, the year-long tallies from 2010 (2,074 political arrests) and 2011 (4,123 political arrests) have already been broken.

The Castro regime is clearly en route to shatter all political arrest records in the last five years.

These are only political arrests that have been thoroughly documented. Many more are suspected.

More "reform" you can't believe in.

Over 60 Ladies in White Arrested on Sunday

Perhaps Tom Donohue and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce should have taken some time to meet with these courageous women last week.

Of course, he would have heard some unpleasant truths and it would have cost him an audience with Cuba's only CEO.

But doing the right thing isn't always the most expedient.

At least 60 members of The Ladies in White were arrested this weekend by the Castro regime, as they tried to attend Sunday Mass.

The Ladies in White is a pro-democracy group that consists of the wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and other relatives of Cuban political prisoners.

Dozens of arrests took place in the provinces of Matanzas and Santiago de Cuba.

Among those arrested were Mercedes de la Guardia Hernández, Katiuska Rodriguez Rives, Odalis Hernandez Hernandez, Yamila Sendra Ruiz, Leticia Ramos Herrería, Amada Rosa Herrería Rodríguez, Hortensia Alfonso Vega, Mercedes de la Guardia Hernàndez, Tania Echeverria Menendez, Caridad Burunate Gómez, Asunción Carrillo Hernandez, Làzara Rodríguez Roteta, Maritza Acosta Perdomo, Maira Garcìa Àlvarez, Maria Teresa Castellanos Valido, Alejandrina Garcìa de la Riva and Niurka Perdomo Gómez.

There were also at least 14 arrests in Holguin, 14 in Havana and 2 in Ciego de Avila.

More "reform" you can't believe in.

On the Taliban Exchange (and Alan Gross)

Sunday, June 1, 2014
Predictably, some are using President Obama's decision to exchange Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, to push for a similar exchange of Castro's American hostage Alan Gross for three Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States.

President Obama's decision has raised serious concerns that the Taliban exchange will further endanger U.S. troops in the future. Obama has responded to such criticism by underscoring that this was not a "concession," but part of his specific commitment to bring home all of the troops from Afghanistan and to close Guantanamo Bay. National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel also argued today that Sgt. Bergdahl was not a hostage, but a "prisoner of war."

First and foremost, President Obama should do everything within his power to pressure the Castro regime to unconditionally release Alan Gross. We have yet to see any tangible pressure applied. To the contrary, since Alan Gross' taking, Obama has continued easing sanctions and engaging in unconditional bilateral talks.

However, a similar exchange with Alan Gross would make this a dangerous trend, not part of a specific, strategic goal, which would rightfully expose President Obama to further criticism of encouraging hostage-takings by rogue nations and terrorist groups.

The following important differences apply to the Alan Gross case:

1. Alan Gross was not a spy. He was an innocent civilian contractor, whose activities in Cuba were consistent with international law, while the three imprisoned Cubans were spies. As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (and Hillary Clinton before) has said on the record multiple times, there's no equivalence between Gross and the Cuban spies. Any exchange would imply Gross was a spy and give credence to the Castro regime's false accusations against him. Moreover, it would open the door to future attacks against any American traveler who supports Cuban civil society, which has been explicitly stated by Obama as the premise of his travel policy.

2. The Cuban spies were convicted in U.S. federal court. Unlike the Taliban prisoners, the Cuban spies were openly tried, convicted and sentenced in U.S. federal court. Moreover, they enjoyed all due process and appellate rights. A release of the Cuban spies would require a pardon for their crimes or a commutation of their sentence by President Obama, including of Gerardo Hernandez, who is serving a life-sentence for conspiracy to murder three American citizens and a permanent resident. The families of those murdered have strongly objected to such an exchange.

3. Alan Gross was explicitly imprisoned as a hostage. As Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, wrote recently, the Cuban regime imprisoned Alan Gross to secure the release of the Cuban spies. Moreover, the regime was convinced that his value as a hostage went up because he was Jewish. “Everyone knows that the Jews have a lot of clout in Washington,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper was told while visiting Gross in Cuba.