Cuban opposition groups request conditionality in EU-CUBA Cooperation Agreement
See press release here 12/12/2016
Letter from Cuban opposition groups to the European Union
See letter here 12/12/2016
November 2016 Alert
Free the Forgotten Cuban Five 1/9/2015
Letter to PepsiCo’s CEO
Sent by email on November 17, 2015.
Indra K. Nooyi
Chairman and CEO
Dear Ms. Nooyi:
On November 6th, Reuters reported that Pepsi Co. was among fifty U.S. firms attending the Havana Trade Expo. While noting their awareness of a lacking clarity on how to make money in the Communist-ruled country, there was nothing on the fact that for the last five and a half decades Cuba has been ruled by a military dictatorship sustained on a huge repressive apparatus.
Doing business in today’s Cuba implies considerable risks that will come up in responsible due diligence. Moreover, it has serious ethical implications, as it requires partnering with a criminal regime that controls –particularly through its military conglomerate- most of the economy and systematically violates numerous I.L.O. conventions and labor standards.
Claims that doing business in Cuba will somehow empower the people economically or politically are ill-advised. A quarter century after Cuba, faced with the demise of the Soviet bloc, opened to tourism and business of the capitalist kind, it has primarily funded and enabled the police state.
Rushing to Havana to seek ways to profit from the oppressed and impoverished Cuban people falls prey to a hype cleverly designed to suit the purposes of Cuba’s regime. We trust that Pepsi Co. will honor its Global Code of Conduct and maintain a clear stance for human rights and fair labor practices as necessary conditions for doing business in Cuba.
We would be pleased to brief your staff on issues pertaining Cuba’s business climate including the situation of labor and human rights.
Maria C. Werlau
CUBA: URGENT ALERT.
HUSBAND-WIFE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN IMMINENT DANGER:
“DON’T ALLOW THEM TO KILL US.”
February 13, 2014. Summit, New Jersey. A distribution list email from Cuba sent by Martha Beatriz Roque, 2/13/2014 at 2:15PM reads (translated from Spanish): “Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez just called to tell me that his house was invaded for the third time, his wife was arrested, and he regained consciousness while laying on the street next to a patrol car. “Don’t allow them to kill us,” he told me in a groggy voice.” Ms. Roque then followed with a message to Cuba Archive: “He sounded like he was in a very bad state, exhausted from feeling unsupported. I am very worried that they will kill him and nothing will happen. He is now all alone and in hunger strike.”
“Antunez” and his wife, Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, are leading members of Cuba’s peaceful opposition movement. They went on hunger strike the morning of February 10th to protest the violent repression to which Cuban authorities have most recently subjected them –-detentions, violent home invasions, and confiscation of their belongings. Their telephones have been cut off and since January 24th their home has been surrounded by security forces. The couple lives in in Placetas, which is approximately 200 miles from the city of Havana in the province of Villa Clara.
See more on recent aggressions against Antúnez at www.directorio.org/pressreleases/.
Read remarks he delivered at Georgetown University on September 16, 2013 at: Miami Herald
April 7, 2013, New York City. Last night, artist Geandy Pavón staged his latest “Nemesis” upon the façade of the building of Cuba’s permanent mission to the United Nations at 315 Lexington Avenue, New York city.
See full text here ->
Cuba’s New Migration Law
The New York Sun
Huge Costs Confront Cubans Who Seek To Travel Under New ‘Migration Law’ Going Into Effect Today
By MARIA WERLAU, Special to the Sun | January 14, 2013
Cuban LGBT activist detained, 9/11/2012
Tuesday, September 11, 2012. This morning LGBT activist Leannes Imbert Acosta was detained in Havana by State Security (political police) and taken in a white LADA car to an undisclosed location.
Update: 11PM, September 11, 2012. Leannes Imbert Acosta was released tonight after spending around 12 hours in detention. She spoke with Cuba Archive shortly after her release and reported that State Security officials took her to a house in a remote location outside Havana. She was pressud to call off the multimedia exhibit on UMAP concentration camps that her LGBT group had scheduled for tomorrow, September 12th. They also confiscated the materials (copies from the exhibit) she intended to take to Cuba’s Center for Sexual Education ( CENESEX), for delivery to Mariela Castro, its director. After Leannes refused to give up the plan for the exhibit, the hostility and threats increased in intensity. Finally, after an exhausting day during which Leannes stood her ground, they drove her back to Havana. The owners of the locale where the exhibit had been scheduled were pressured (threatened) by State Security and cancelled. The organizers are looking for alternative venues and have postponed the opening.
Cuba: Investigate death of dissident leader Oswaldo Payá, 7/31/2012
“That the international community has not held Cuba’s government accountable for even its more evident and egregious human rights’ violations has only emboldened it further. As long as it enjoys sustained impunity and is legitimized by the civilized world, it will continue to employ terror and violence to silence its detractors.” See call to action.”
See the complete text here
Also see our Report: “Cuba: Strange accidents and unexplained deaths.”
Alert: Cuban Journalist and Prisoner of Conscience on Hunger Strike
URGENT ACTION APPEAL
From Amnesty International USA
Issue Date: 14 March 2013
PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE ON HUNGER STRIKE
Independent journalist and prisoner of conscience Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias is on hunger strike to protest against his detention in Cuba. As a result, he has been placed in solitary confinement in a punishment cell. (…) Amnesty International believes Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias’ detention is politically motivated and related to his peaceful exercise of freedom of expression.
The death of Laura Pollán, leader of Cuba´s Ladies in White, must be investigated
Cuba Archive – Truth and Memory Project
October 25, 2011. Summit, New Jersey. Suspicions surrounding the death of Laura Pollán, founder of Cuba´s Ladies in White, are mounting and well founded. (See The Wall Street Journal Mary O’Grady’s, “A Dissident’s Mysterious Death in Havana” (10/24/2011).) An investigation should be conducted as soon as possible by an independent team of experts.
Laura Pollán, age 63, died around 7PM on October 14th. She was co-founder and public face of the Ladies in White, who achieved worldwide support for their husbands, sons, and brothers, a group of 75 sentenced to long prison terms in 2003. To clean up its image, the Cuban regime released the 75 prisoners of conscience, most directly to exile. Laura’s husband, Hector Maseda, was freed last February but refused to leave Cuba. She then declared that the Ladies in White would become a broader human rights organization open to all women and advocating for all political prisoners (See Video for a July 2011 interview.) Laura would not let the movement become irrelevant; the regime unleashed increasing violence at them.
On September 24th the Ladies had been attacked by a government-led mob and Laura had reportedly been bitten, pinched, and scratched. Since 2009 members of the Ladies have developed physical ailments after being pricked with needles by regime supporters. Rita María Montes de Oca was injected in the gluteus when a mob attacked a group of Ladies last August 18th. She developed nausea, dizziness, swelling of the legs, high blood pressure, pain in one eye, and other symptoms; her condition is said to be worsening, but she is afraid to go to a medical facility.
From Havana, Lady in White co-founder Berta Soler, intimate witness to the events, and exiled co-founder Yolanda Huerga, representative in the U.S. who spoke daily with Laura’s husband and daughter, have confirmed the details of Laura’s sudden illness and her death. Cuba Archive is assembling a timeline with all details. In sum, Laura was healthy and active despite her diabetes. A diagnosis was not given despite many tests. Two days before her death, the family was told she was probably suffering from dengue complicated by the syncytial virus, likely contracted at the hospital, which typically affects infants and is almost never fatal. The death certificate, however, did not list dengue as cause of death and instead states: diabetes mellitus type 2, bronchopneumonia, and syncytial virus.
State Security dictated what ensued after Laura died. Two hours later, the body was taken to the morgue for autopsy, but was out just an hour later. Two hours later, a midnight wake was allowed for just over an hour. The body was then immediately taken for cremation. The family was not allowed to witness the send-off into the chamber, which is normally permitted. In a little over one hour, they were handed the ashes. Yet, cremating a body and allowing the ashes to cool for handling takes several hours.
A rushed autopsy and immediate cremation is highly unusual given the puzzling illness and the absence of a convincing diagnosis, especially for someone of such high public profile. The political police, directing things at the hospital, knew that Laura´s husband was asking doctors if she could have been deliberately exposed to a toxin or germ. If the regime had nothing to hide, why not guarantee transparency to dispel doubts?
That the Cuban regime would turn to this type of elimination should not be dismissed. From the mid 1990s through the mid 2000s, several high-ranking civilian and military officials of the U.S. government made public statements acknowledging that the United States believed Cuba had or could have a biological weapons program. Defecting scientists from Cuba had confirmed these suspicions. Cuba’s political prisoners have long feared tainting of their food and water because many develop suspicious ailments in prison. Cuba Archive has documented three cases of political prisoners whose deaths, their families affirm, were caused by injections given by prison authorities. Other such cases have been reported, but lack sufficient documentation.
On October 20th former political prisoner José Ángel Luque Álvarez was beaten and detained in Havana for wearing a T-shirt with the word “change.” He reports that, as he was released two days later, State Security officer Fernando Tamayo Gómez told him: “We killed Laura; we can do the same with you and nothing happens.” Tamayo had been at the hospital when Laura died and was also present when political prisoner Orlando Zapata died of a hunger strike in February 2010.
We call on governments and international human rights organizations to demand a comprehensive investigation of Laura Pollán´s death by international forensic experts that includes a medical team that gains access to her full medical record. The ashes should also be tested to verify they are from human remains.
January 20, 2012. Summit, New Jersey. 31-year old political prisoner Wilman Villar Mendoza died yesterday evening at a Santiago de Cuba hospital during a hunger strike to denounce his unjust incarceration. The cause was “multiple organ failure due to general sepsis” (systemic inflammatory response, infection, and organ dysfunction). He leaves a wife and two daughters ages 5 and 7.
Last September, Villar joined the human rights group Cuban Patriotic Union of eastern Cuba led by former political prisoner of the 2003 Black Spring, José Daniel Ferrer García, released in 2011. OnNovember 14th, Villar participated in a public demonstration at his hometown of Contramaestre (northeast of Santiago de Cuba), calling for the end to repression against peaceful opponents and the Ladies in White. Detained, he refused to abandon his dissident activities and was immediately put on trial. In a summary, closed, process, he was sentenced to four years of prison for “contempt, resistance, and attempting against the state,” and taken to the Aguadores prison of Santiago, where around 1,200 prisoners are subject to subhuman conditions and constant abuse by prison guards.
Villar was confined in a one-man punishment cell after refusing to wear the uniform for common prisoners. (Political prisoners have consistently protested the Castro regime’s refusal to acknowledge their unique designation, as per a long tradition in the pre-Castro era.) He denounced the falsity of the judicial procedure and on November 24th declared a hunger strike, halting it briefly on December 25th when authorities said they would entertain his demand to reconsider his case. By early January, nothing happening, he resumed the hunger strike demanding his release. Confined without clothes and water provisions, he contracted pneumonia. Yet, he was not given medical care and kept in the severe regime, which worsened his condition. It was only six days ago (January 14th),that he was transferred to the hospital, already in critical state.
Maritza Pelegrino, Villar’s wife, declared that Cuban authorities had killed him by letting him die unjustly and made orphans of their two girls. She reported that authorities had offered his release if she abandoned the Ladies in White. When she declined, they had threatened to take her daughters.
The regime has unleashed massive repression to contain any sign of protest or support for Villar. For days, large forces had surrounded the hospital and State Security agents all over Cuba had been detaining –in some cases violently assaulting- human rights defenders and members of the pro-democracy opposition movement to prevent them from gathering or visiting the hospital. Many remain blocked from leaving their homes, some of which have been attacked with rocks, feces, and all sorts of objects. After Villar’s death was announced, violence was unleashed against some family members and supporters gathered at the hospital. Large security operatives were immediately put in place, especially in locations of eastern Cuba, to prevent attendance of the funeral. Dozens have been detained, many receiving beatings. The town of Contramaestre is said to be under military siege and people have been arrested attempting to enter hotels to send photos and reports by internet.
Cuba Archive had documented 12 cases of death by hunger strike of Cuban political prisoners until Villar’s death. (See www.CubaArchive.org –Reports.) Sadly, there are now 13. Other prisoners held for non-political causes have also died in hunger strikes, the most recent this January 1st (René Cobas). The Cuban government released several dozen political prisoners in 2010-11, but around 60 remain in prison. Hundreds of human rights defenders have been detained the last year. The Red Cross, the U.N. Rapporteur on Torture, and international human rights’ monitoring groups are not allowed to inspect Cuba’s prisons or detention facilities.
Summary prepared from international media reports and internet reports of opposition members inside Cuba. See www.CubaArchive.org/database (Wilmar Villar, case #1130) for a listing. Sources in Cuba cannot be reached by telephone.
Dolia Leal Francisco is one of the founders of the Ladies in White and was one of the most militant, heading the Sunday marches and carrying on active advocacy campaigns with foreign governments journalists, and NGOs. Her then husband Nelson Aguiar was released from prison for health reasons in October 2009 at the special request of the Spanish Foreign Minister during a visit to Cuba. They came to the United States as political refugees in April 2010.
Testimony of Dolia Leal, by telephone, July 22, 2012.
When her husband Nelson was at the Combinado del Este prison of Havana, Dolia had been warned by a State Security agent during a visit that she ought to be careful and tone down her activism, as she could well suffer a car accident. She had responded that she did not own a car and rarely rode in one and that if anything happened to her, it would be their fault –meaning the political police. He had responded: “Let’s see how you are going to prove it.”
Approximately 20 days later, on June 15, 2007, she was riding with a neighbor who was going to visit his father in his car and accompanied by his mother. They headed towards Combinado del Este, in the outskirts of Havana. She only remembers waking up at the hospital covered in blood, but the other two passengers, who escaped with minor injuries, related what happened. As they rode along, a car going in opposite direction made a U-Turn and crashed into their vehicle at high speed. Their car had been pretty much destroyed by the impact. The driver was reportedly a German citizen, a Dr. Waldemar Heinz Merck, in a rented car. The police that came to the scene had carried on happily with the German, even having cold drinks he had in his car, where they has sat chatting with the air conditioner on.
Dolia had been in the back seat on the passenger side, which suffered the brunt of the impact. She suffered severe facial and bodily bruises, a bitten tongue, cuts to her lips, and a posterior vitreous detachment in the right eye. A subsequent infection to both eyes almost resulted in her going blind and took four months to clear.
Inquiries after the accident at the German embassy produced no results, even though the German Ambassador in Cuba knew Dolia and visited her at home, bringing her food while she was recovering. The Embassy claimed to have no information and the Ambassador told her he could not talk about the matter. Cuban authorities provided her no information. She wrote a letter to pertinent authorities requesting an investigation, which was never responded to. The driver of the car found out at where the German was staying and went to the hotel, where he was told he had checked out to return to Germany urgently.
Following is the Spanish language report filed by an independent journalist in Cuba shortly after the accident with a photo of Dolia’s bruised face.
Un accidente extraño
Junio 22, 2007
Juan González Febles
El auto en que viajaban Dolia Leal y Dennis Lorenzo fue impactado violentamente por un auto rentado marca Toyota, conducido por el turista alemán Dr. Waldemar Heinz Merck.
De acuerdo a la información que nos facilitó la Sra. Leal Francisco, proveniente de la Policía Nacional Revolucionaria, Merck era sólo eso, un turista.
Refiere la Sra. Leal que los policías revolucionarios fraternizaron con el supuesto turista en un ambiente distendido. Incluso bebieron refrescos enlatados ofrecidos por el turista, dentro de la atmósfera climatizada del Toyota. El accidente se produjo cuando Merck, a alta velocidad realizó un viraje en U e impactó al vehículo en que viajaban Leal y Lorenzo. La fuerza del golpe les desplazó a la senda contraria y les hizo impactar con otros obstáculos en la vía. El Moskvich quedó literalmente destrozado. Lo que quedó del mismo fue tasado por las autoridades en 1600 pesos cuc.
La Sra. Leal viajaba en el asiento trasero y se encontraba directamente detrás del asiento correspondiente al acompañante del conductor. Por tal razón sufrió severas lesiones en el rostro y en el resto del cuerpo. Su estado clínico fue declarado de cuidado en el hospital militar Luis Díaz Soto, ubicado al este de la capital, donde fue atendida.
La Sra. Leal Francisco quedará con un desprendimiento vítreo posterior en el ojo derecho. No pueden hacerse pronósticos sobre hasta que punto quedará afectada su visión. Por otra parte, sufre un proceso infeccioso en el ojo derecho que deberá ser tratado con antibióticos de amplio espectro.
En el momento de la redacción de esta nota, la Sra. Leal presenta síntomas de descoordinación que hacen pensar en un eventual stress post traumático. Se le ve profundamente afectada y por momentos incapaz de conducir su relato con coherencia.
Una funcionaria consular de la embajada de Alemania en La Habana fue consultada para que aclarara detalles sobre las circunstancias que rodean este caso. La funcionaria exigió a este reportero no ser citada en la información, y manifestó el desconocimiento de la embajada sobre accidentes, ya fueran de tránsito o de cualquier tipo, que hayan involucrado a ciudadanos alemanes. Tanto en la capital cubana, como en el resto del territorio nacional.
En trabajos posteriores se dará seguimiento a este inusual accidente.
As the world celebrates the primacy of human rights, Cuba ignores their most basic and universally accepted standards. Among the long list of violations, countless thousands languish in the tropical gulag for “crimes” unique to totalitarian regimes. (…) Meanwhile, Cuba refuses international accountability or monitoring.
Read More human_rights_day_12.10.2010
Cuba Archive Challenges the Cuban Regime
Summit, New Jersey, June 10, 2010. Yesterday, the Rapporteur on Torture of the United Nations’ Council on Human Rights announced his profound disappointment for not being allowed into Cuba for a fact-finding mission. The Austrian human rights lawyer Manfred Nowak reported that Cuba would not accommodate his visit before the end of his term next October 30th (the second of two three-year mandates).
Cuba is a signatory of the Convention Against Torture and member of the United Nations’ Council on Human Rights. Since 2005 Mr. Nowak sought to visit the island; in February 2009 the Cuban government extended him a formal invitation to visit before the end of that year. Since then, Cuban authorities have delayed fixing the date of his visit.
The Rapporteur’s statement reads: “I regret that, in spite of its clear invitation, the government of Cuba has not allowed me to objectively assess the situation of torture and ill-treatment in the country by collecting first-hand evidence from all available sources.”
Cuba refuted Nowak’s assertions in a press comuniqué issued yesterday by its Permanent Mission in Geneva. It stated that his statement does not correspond with Cuban officials’ “continued efforts to facilitate the visit.” Though declaring that Cuba “does not need an objective evaluation of the country’s situation,” it clarified that the invitation was in place and that it would continue to seek “a mutually agreeable date” for the visit. Among affirmations of Cuba’s alleged achievements in penal and judicial rights, it included not producing “a single case of extrajudicial execution or forced disappearance.” For years, high officials of the Cuban regime have made similar public statements.
Cuba Archive challenges the Cuban government to allow the Rapporteur’s visit before October and to also disprove each one of the hundreds of extrajudicial executions or forced disappearances documented by its Truth and Memory project. Details of each case are available in an electronic database at www.CubaArchive.org. This website also contains summaries in English and Spanish of a sample of these cases, many of which have been reported to international organizations and are substantiated by the testimony of witnesses and family members of the victims.
Aside from over 3,800 executions by the current Cuban regime documented to date, Cuba Archive has recorded over 1,300 extrajudicial executions, including several massacres of civilians –such as the Tugboat massacre of 1994, the Canimar River massacre of 1980, the shootdown of two civilian airplanes in 1996, and the killings of hundreds of political prisoners. Civilians attempting to escape the country and several political dissidents and opponents are among the forced disappearances.
Documents containing details of all recorded cases are available for inspection by human rights experts.
P.O. Box 529
Summit, NJ 07902 U.S.A.
The Cuban regime responded to Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s extreme form of protest with increasing mistreatment. On February 23rd, 2010, he became the 11th documented victim of hunger strike to protest conditions in Cuban prisons.
See details: hunger_strike_death_2.24.10
THE CASTRO BROTHERS’ LEGACY OF BLOOD AND TEARS
December 30, 2007, Summit, New Jersey. In anticipation of the 49th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution on January 1st, Cuba Archive, a non-profit organization based in New Jersey, has unveiled an electronic database of its documented victims. With cases encompassing all sides of the political spectrum, the magnitude, gravity, and systematic nature of the crimes of the Cuban Communist leadership leave no doubt of its long and profound disregard for human life.
Cuba Archive launched today an online system with thousands of cases records assembled over years of research. The comprehensive effort documents cases irrespective of political or ideological attributes of the victim or perpetrators. To date, over 9,000 records have been entered into the electronic system, which grows as additional cases are entered and research and outreach efforts expand.
Users who register will gain free access to the electronic archive, containing cases spanning more than five decades. The state led by Fidel and Raúl Castro emerges responsible for thousands of firing squad executions and extrajudicial killings. The archive reports over one thousand deaths in prisons, police stations, or State Security offices, as well as dozens of civilians murdered while trying to escape by sea or seeking asylum in foreign embassies and at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo. Pregnant women assassinated in political prisons and religious leaders and minors executed by firing squad are part of the tragic record. Nine extrajudicial killings and five deaths of prisoners for lack of medical attention are recorded for 2007.
The database is accessed at the organization’s website, www.CubaArchive.org, which complements the archive with summary reports, profiles of victims, and other relevant material in both English and Spanish.
Cuba Archive seeks to focus the attention on the victims rather than the numbers, which constantly change as the work progresses.
Through this work, Cuba Archive seeks to promote an understanding of the large toll in human life of the political process known as “The Cuban Revolution.” It calls on world governments, international organizations, and all people of goodwill to hold Cuba’s leaders accountable for its crimes and deny them the legitimacy reserved for civilized and democratic governments. The toll of 49 years of dictatorship and terror requires an unequivocal demand for the fundamental rights of Cuba’s citizens to life, liberty, and self-determination.
CUBA: JULY ANNIVERSARIES OF TWO MASSACRES
Unpunished, but not forgotten
July 6, 2007, Summit, New Jersey.
Among the most flagrant atrocities committed by the Castro regime in its long history of human rights’ abuses, two incidents stand out –the Canimar River Massacre of 1980 and the Tugboat Massacre of 1994. Both took place in the month of July and poignantly illustrate the Cuban leadership’s profound disregard for human life and their egregious violation of the fundamental right of citizens to leave their country.
On July 6, 1980 three youngsters hijacked an excursion boat that was to navigate inland along the scenic Canimar river flowing into Matanzas Bay. Surprised passengers screamed their approval to go to the United States, but the security guard resisted and shot at the youngsters, who wounded him with firearms clandestinely obtained from their military service. Concerned for his health, they sent him back to shore with a passenger who refused to leave. Alerted authorities commanded a chase. High-speed Cuban Navy patrol boats fired on the escapees and attempted to sink the vessel. Then, a Cuban Air Force plane overflew the boat and opened fire. Finally, most not yet wounded or dead drowned when a special boat used for heavy industrial work was brought in to ram and sink the vessel.
The excursion boat had capacity for one hundred passengers, yet only ten survived. Reportedly, there were at least 56 victims, including four children, ages 3, 9, 11, and 17. The actual number was kept secret and recovered bodies were not handed to the families, communal funerals forbidden. The Cuban government claimed it was an accident, but survivors were threatened with prison into silence and kept under surveillance for years
Fourteen years later, on July 13, 1994, a group of around seventy family members and friends, including many children, boarded the tugboat “13 de marzo” in the middle of the night planning to escape to the United States. As they made their way out of Havana’s harbor, three tugboats that had been waiting in the dark started a chase. Relentlessly, they sprayed the boat with high pressure water jets, ripping children from their parents’ arms and sweeping passengers off to sea. Finally, the attackers rammed the “13 de marzo” enough to make it sink. Passengers who had taken refuge in the cargo hold were pinned down and desperately pounded on the walls, the children wailing in horror, as they went down. Survivors who then clung to life in high seas, contended with the three pursuing tugboats circling them and creating wave turbulence and eddies for them to drown. The attack stopped suddenly when a merchant ship with a Greek flag approached Havana Harbor and Cuban Navy ships picked up survivors. Brought to shore, the stunned women and children were interrogated and sent home. The men were kept in detention for months and given psychotropic drugs. No bodies of the 37 victims (including 11 children) were returned to their families for burial. Survivors and relatives of the dead were denied information and put under surveillance. Many were dismissed from their jobs and systematically harassed by the authorities.
More detailed accounts are available at www.CubaArchive.org:
Tugboat Massacre (with photos of victims)
Summary of Documented Victims of Exit Attempts
Cuba Archive is an initiative of
Free Society Project, Inc.
P.O. Box 529
Summit, NJ 07902
Free Society Project, Inc. March 2007. ©All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution of this material is authorized as long as its source, Cuba Archive ( Free Society Project), is cited.
Cuba’s Bloody Iron Curtain
For immediate release
May 3, 2007, Summit, New Jersey. In the wake of the most recent escape attempts from Cuba, foiled or successful, we note the systematic murder of civilians by the Castro regime for their mere attempt to flee the island. These crimes illustrate a profound disregard for human life and stem from the egregious violation of the fundamental right of Cubans to leave their country.
Article 215 of Cuba’s Penal Code punishes attempts to leave the national territory without government authorization with up to eight years in prison. In fact, if a citizen tries to take an able vessel or aircraft to do so -a necessity because all are state property and strictly controlled- the punishment is up to twenty years in prison or death. Over the course of decades thousands have served prison, under dire conditions, for these so-called crimes. Still today, a number of political prisoners are serving very long sentences for attempting to escape the country.
But what is even more shocking is what Cuba’s Penal Code does not say. The Castro regime has, in fact, for decades systematically murdered civilians for trying to escape their country. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, are estimated to have been killed by government authorities for attempting to escape by sea, for seeking asylum in foreign embassies, or trying to cross into the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo. That Guantánamo, largely ignored by the media and world public opinion, is sealed off by barbed wire, separated by a mine field, and under the shadow of watchtowers manned round-the-clock by Cuban border guards with orders to shoot to kill.
Cuba Archive’s incipient documentation effort has already revealed 247 victims of assassinations and executions for attempted escapes from Cuba. This is a partial number that grows consistently as research progresses, yet it already exceeds the 227 killings at the Berlin Wall. See a summary of selected documented cases at http://www.CubaArchive.org/english_version/articles/89/1/Cubans -killed-for-attempting-to-flee-Cuba. An account in English of the massacre of 37 civilians in 1994 is available at www.CubaArchive.org/english_version/articles/97/1/The-Tugboat-Massacre.
February 16-18, 2007
Photograph courtesy of Carmen Calzada
The fifth Cuban Memorial will be held February 16-18 at Tamiami Park, Miami.
During three days, this symbolic cemetery will give testament to the world of the thousands of victims of the Castro dictatorship. Each documented victim will have a cross with his/her name together with date and location of death. Almost 10,000 crosses will be planted together with a larger cross symbolizing the many more victims who remain unaccounted for.
People of all ages and different nationalities -executed, assassinated, disappeared, killed in prison, lost as sea, or who gave their lives fighting for freedom in Cuba- will be honored with this sober memorial. Victims’ loved ones will, as in prior years, come bearing flowers to place by their cross. For many, this yearly ritual is the only opportunity they have had to honor their dead. Many more visitors from the community come to pay their homage and witness this moving sight.
The field of crosses will be open to the public on Friday, 2/16, from noon to 6PM, Saturday 2/17 from 9AM to 8PM, and Sunday 2/18 from 9AM to 5PM.
All day on both Saturday 2/17 and Sunday 2/18, the Cuba Archive project (www.CubaArchive.org), which provides its lists of victims for this event, will be collecting testimony from witnesses and survivors to continue its work documenting the cost in lives of the Cuban Revolution.
Tamiami Park is located at 11201 S.W. 24th St. (Coral Way and 107th Ave. / entry through 112th Ave.).
Friday, February 16, 2007: Press Conference and Inauguration
Relatives of victims will share brief personal stories at the press conference. Translation to English will be available as needed. A brief inaugural ceremony will follow.
Saturday, February 17, 2007, 7.00 PM: Ecumenical Service++
This is the most significant community event of the Memorial. An ecumenical service will precede the blessing of the field of crosses and the area where a permanent monument is to be built.
Participants will light candles in memory of the victims.
Sunday, February 18, 5.00PM: Closing Ceremony++
++ These ceremonies will be filmed by a professional crew and transmitted live at www.CubanMemorial.org. Any television station interested in obtaining live feed should contact the organizers.
Letter to Anthony Boadle, of Reuters
Sent via e-mail
Ref. Legacies bind Castro, Pinochet in their twilight, by Fiona Ortiz and Anthony Boadle, Wed Dec 6, 10:42 AM ET
Dear Mr. Boadle,
I have long appreciated your coverage of Cuba. For this reason, I was shocked to read the following in your article of December 6th comparing Castro and Pinochet:
“Both leaders built police states. Dozens of Pinochet’s agents were convicted of assassination and torture and Castro’s government has not hesitated to jail dissidents. But there are no credible reports of disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture in Cuba since the early 1960s, according to human rights groups.”
Our organization is documenting the loss of life resulting from the Cuban Revolution. Our work-in-progress has ironically already documented more cases just of firing squad executions in the first three years of the Castro regime to surpass the entire number of killed and disappeared by the Pinochet regime in its entire tenure (3,197).
Perhaps a shallow understanding of the mass killings in Cuba of the early sixties explains your misunderstanding. But, we would very much appreciate if you and Reuters could set the record straight and pass along the correction to the human rights groups consulted on this matter.
The fact is that thousands of Cubans have been killed by the Castro regime over decades, i.e. well beyond the early sixties. Hundreds have been machined-gunned down or drowned just for attempting to flee. Sadly, world media has given too little attention to this appalling reality. But, it has been extensively reported not only by Cubans’ human rights groups inside and outside Cuba as well as in the substantiated reports of organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, Reporters without Borders, and the United Nations.
For your review, attached is the bibliography for 90% of our records, compiled by our Research Director, Armando Lago, Ph.D. Soon primary sources that have provided us direct testimony will also be available. Regrettably, this listing is not yet ready, as it is presently been worked on to be added to the searchable database of cases coming soon to our website. We urge you to visit our website, www.CubaArchive.org, to familiarize yourself with the victims and the sources of our information.
On the matter of torture, there are countless reports that this has been and remains a systematic practice of the Castro regime. The evidence is substantive and is even validated by the recovered files of the Secret Police of the former Soviet bloc countries, such as Stasi and Czech Police. These records clearly demonstrate that Cuba’s secret police had joint training and cooperation programs to torture and repress opponents, both imprisoned and not, that date into the late eighties. But, the evidence is even easier to find. All one needs to do is take a stroll along Little Havana in Miami or Bergenline Avenue in New Jersey to come upon first-hand testimony of killing and torture by the Castro regime well into the present.
Given that you have long covered Cuba and work for the largest news agency in the world, we are aware of the effect your reports have. We trust you take this responsibility to heart and better inform yourself on this matter, not just for the sake of Castro’s victims, but as a service to the readers. After all, Reuters, as we have learned from its website, is committed to upholding at all times “integrity, independence and freedom from bias.”
I do not have Ms. Ortiz’s email and would appreciate if you could forward her this message.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if we may assist you or your news agency in investigating this matter.
Maria C. Werlau
Executive Director, Cuba Archive
P.O. Box 529
Summit, NJ 07902
See article that prompted the letter at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/06/AR2006120600677_pf.html
Boadle responded on 12/11/06 by email:
Thanks you for your letter. I do agree that our story should have at least mentioned the executions in the first years after Castro’s revolution. The reference was dropped due to space constraints. In terms of disappearances, torture and extra-judicial killings, we do think there is no comparison, but I will check your data base. Best regards,
Bureau Chief, Cuba
Letter to the Editor, The Washington Post
Copy to Michael Shifter, InterAmerican Dialogue
Ref. Michael Shifter, The Best of Both Dictators, 12/10/06.
Comparing Pinochet to Castro, fashionable these days, is much too kind on Castro. For one thing, the cost in lives of the Castro regime has exceeded by many times that of Chile’s former dictatorship.
Our work-in-progress (www.CubaArchive.org) has documented more cases just of firing squad executions in the first three years of the Castro regime than the total number of killed and disappeared by Pinochet in his entire tenure (3,197). But that Castro mostly killed only at the beginning of his rule is a common misconception. Selective assassination and disappearance have complemented the imprisonment and exile of large numbers of Cubans in assuring the effectiveness of Stalinist rule. What’s worse, Castro has systematically killed or jailed his citizens for trying to escape, something Pinochet never dreamed of.
For decades, the Cuban Border Guard has machine-gunned or drowned civilians, including children, whose only “crime” was attempting to flee the island-prison. The toll is likely in the thousands. Our incipient effort has already documented more such killings than from attempted crossings of the now vanished Berlin Wall.
In the international arena, the few targeted assassinations carried out under Pinochet pale in comparison to the thousands killed in Castro’s internationalist excursions and wars of subversion.
If anything is comparable between Pinochet and Castro is the abhorrence of murder, no matter the numbers. But the brutality of both regimes is better apt for a contrast. Sadly, in the way of comparisons, the international outcry over the Castro regime has long been lacking.
Maria C. Werlau
Executive Director, Cuba Archive
P.O. Box 529
Summit, NJ 07902
For immediate release
February 7, 2006, Summit, New Jersey. Yesterday in Havana, the Cuban government declared that 3,478 Cubans had been victims of state terrorism sponsored by the United States. Cuba Archive has been unable to corroborate this claim with verifiable data.
In 2002, the Cuban government claimed that “more than 3,000 terrorist acts” had been committed against Cuban citizens,” and attributed them all to the United States. At the time, Armando Lago, Ph.D., Research Director for Cuba Archive, reviewed the only document publicly available to substantiate the claims. An inquiry to the Cuban government for information was referred to this document. Following are his conclusions:
1. The names of only 46 victims were cited. 20 had never appeared in previous known publications of the Cuban government; 26 were known cases already documented by Dr.Lago. Data given for many of the victims –such as names and dates- contained discrepancies with other publications sanctioned by the Cuban regime.
2. Cuba classifies two military/combat events as terrorist attacks against civilians. Of the 551 incidents cited, 400 took place at the Bay of Pigs. This was a military invasion by Cuban exiles seeking freedom and democracy for the people of Cuba that was financed and supported by the U.S. government. Other cited incidents occurred during the Escambray civil war. This internal uprising against the Castro dictatorship took place in the early 1960s and was led by small farmers resisting confiscation of their land by force by the Castro government. The United States government delivered some material support to local insurgents fighting military forces of the Castro regime.
3. Cuba Archive has not found direct involvement by the U.S. government in the extrajudicial assassination of Cuban civilians. An indirect link exists in its financing and coordination of anti-Castro infiltration teams whose members, in certain instances, killed civilians outside of the objective of their mission.
4. 199 victims claimed by Cuba as victims of terrorism cannot be responsibly attributed to a particular cause or perpetrator. This number includes Cuban exiles assassinated in the United States and 73 persons killed in the Cubana de Aviación plane that exploded upon leaving Barbados for Cuba (52 Cubans, 11 Guayanese and 5 North Koreans).
5. Regarding the 1976 explosion of the plane from Barbados, unless more conclusive determination of cause becomes available, the victims of this incident appear in Cuba Archive’s lists under unknown cause. The plane was never lifted from the ocean for a determination of cause, as Fidel Castro refused an offer from the British government to do so. It is said to have been carrying arms on its return from the war in Angola; the following year a plane of the same characteristics, carrying arms to Nicaragua, exploded under similar circumstances. In addition, suspicious events that contradict allegations of cause are associated with the explosion and courts in Venezuela exonerated the two accused men on two separate occasions.
For the Castro period, from 1959 to the present, Dr. Lago has documented 149 extrajudicial assassinations in actions against the Castro regime attributed to anti-Castro insurgents inside the island or by Cuban exiles. For a full review of claims of terrorism, the Cuban government must provide a full list of victims, with adequate and verifiable data.
Cuba Archive is an independent and non-partisan initiative that upholds the intrinsic right of all people to live safely and in freedom and rejects terrorism in all its forms. In documenting the cost in lives of the Cuban Revolution from 1952 onwards, it conducts its work with academic rigor and impartiality, documenting all deaths irrespective of the social, political, and other attributes or affiliations of the victims. For additional information, please visit www.CubaArchive.org.
Cuba Archive / Free Society Project, Inc.
Cuban baseball players pay with their lives for defecting
March 9, 2006. San Juan, Puerto Rico. Media reports have highlighted the abundant state security detail accompanying Cuba’s team at the First World Baseball Classic in Puerto Rico. The intense vigilance is the norm when Cuban athletes travel abroad –no resources are spared to avoid embarrassing defections.
A lively debate surrounds the Cuban team’s presence –should the team representing the Cuban dictatorship participate in events held in free countries as counterparts of professional teams that play by the rules of open societies? For the discussion to be enlightened, a few rarely mentioned facts should be taken into account.
Scores of Cuban athletes have risked their lives trying to flee the island, some at sea in makeshift rafts, most risking prison or death when defecting overseas. In fact, on July 18, 1978, Cuban baseball star Pedro José Rodríguez was assassinated by Cuban State Security agents during the Central American and Caribbean Games in Medellín, Colombia. Rodríguez was thrown from the 5th floor window of his hotel room for attempting to defect.
Repression of athletes is codified in Cuban laws that make them pawns of the Communist state. Servitude begins in childhood. Article 90 of Cuba’s Code of Childhood and Youth (Law No. 16 of June 28, 1978) dictates: “The promotion of athletes to higher categories takes into account not only their athletic achievements, but also their social and political attitude.” To make sure they continue delivering, all athletes selected to play abroad are held to Article 216 of Cuba’s Penal Code, penalizing with up to three years in prison any attempt to leave the country without prior government approval.
If nothing more can be expected at the First World Baseball Classic for the repressed people of Cuba -or the athletes among them- a symbolic gesture would not hurt. A moment of silence for Pedro José Rodríguez and the thousands more victims of the Castro regime could hardly spoil the fun.
For more on the victims of the Castro regime, see www.CubaArchive.org. Cuba Archive: A Truth Recovery Project, is documenting the cost in lives of the Cuban Revolution.
Maria C. Werlau
Fidel Castro’s Shameful Duplicity:
Cuba’s Butcher Maximus Mourns “Culture of Life” Pope
April 8, 2005.
Fidel Castro, in his latest stroke of propaganda, attempted to outdo the rest of the world declaring three days of national mourning for Pope John Paul II. Let’s not be fooled by this tragicomic deceit. Cuba’s serial killer played deaf to the Pope’s plea during his 1998 trip to Cuba to end oppression. His blatant disregard for life, in the systematic execution and assassination of opponents and dissenters, is long-known, documented, and ongoing.
In April 2001, Fidel Castro publicly declared: “In our country there have never been death squads –not a single disappearance, no political assassinations, not one person torture. …find just one shred of proof, someone demonstrate that the revolutionary government has ordered or tolerated any such acts, and I will never again assume a public post.” Now, as the United Nations Human Rights Commission meets in Geneva, Cuban Foreign Minister has parroted this absurd claim.
The Truth Recovery Archive on Cuba, primarily based on the work of Dr. Armando Lago, Ph.D., is assembling the record of the Castro regime’s victims. Despite the inability to operate inside Cuba, 8,000 cases of execution, assassination, and disappearance for political causes are documented –including two Catholic nuns, twelve religious leaders of other denominations, dozens of minors, pregnant women, 29 U.S. citizens, and 28 other foreign nationals.
A long list of injustices discredits Castro’s outlandish claim. One in particular stands out for its connection to the Catholic Church. On December 3rd, 1980, the three García-Marín brothers, ages 25, 21, and 19, members of the persecuted Jehova’s Witnesses, sought asylum at the Vatican Embassy (“Nunciatura”) in Havana. Cuban Special Troops burst in and took them into custody. Soon, they were sentenced to execution by firing squad, falsely accused of killing an embassy worker who was later found alive. A few months later, the three were taken from their cells in the middle of the night and never seen again. The mother was sentenced to twenty years in prison for protesting her sons’ killings and released a few years later when her mental health deteriorated. She died still pleading that she be given their bones for proper burial.
The long list of extrajudicial killings and executions includes many young Catholic leaders, but obeys no affiliation –religious or otherwise, nor gender, age, race, occupation, or socioeconomic status. Many cases have been reported by international organizations, others remain known mostly to survivors. Numerous families have been denied remains. So, not that we count on Cuba’s master of deception to keep his word, but, for the record, here is our dare: Mr. Castro, prove us wrong or step down.
The culture of life has yet to reach Cuba. In justice to John Paul II, let us remember his words: “…every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the Church’s very heart.” Let the world take heed and reject Castro’s malicious antics.
For more on Castro’s victims, see www.CubaArchive.org.
Feb.18-20, 2005, 11AM-7PM
11201 S.W. 24th St.
Please see below news of an important event to take place this coming week-end in Miami.
Our project (T.R.A.C. – Truth Recovery Archive on Cuba) continues to work to research the cost in lives of the Cuban Revolution, providing the Memorial organizers our lists of victims. These are derived mostly from the work of Dr. Armando Lago and complemented by other reports obtained from different sources. We plan to be there gathering direct testimonies from witnesses and relatives of victims.
Each documented case of death or disappearance for political causes has a white cross with the name and date of death. Currently, we have documented close to 10,000 cases of executions, assassinations, suicides, and disappearances for political reasons, including 28 U.S. citizens and 23 citizens of other countries. Most cases of dead or missing rafters (“balseros”) are yet to be recorded, but an econometric estimate of balsero deaths brings the total number of deaths caused by the Castro regime to over 100,000. And we have yet to begin counting victims from other countries in Cuba’s internationalist wars
and Castro-sponsored subversive movements.
We should note that in the first three years of Fidel Castro’s government it executed by firing squad more people that the military government of Augusto Pinochet killed and disappeared in its entire tenure (16 years) -officially 3,197. Yet, this comparison is made only with documented cases. We continue to document more cases and see the lists grow.
Each victim represents a face, a story, a truncated future, a family left behind, an entire nation terrorized and oppressed. It is a very moving experience to talk to people visiting crosses and witness their devastating loss in the simple act of rendering tribute in front of a white cross in their name. Most of these families have never had that opportunity.
Please come by to record this historic event.
Maria C. Werlau
President, Free Society Project, Inc.
Of. Tel. 973.701-0520
What: Press Conference
When: February 18, 2005 11:00 a.m.
Where: Tamiami Park (11201 S.W. 24th St. , Miami , FL)
**On the Youth Fair Parking Grounds**
Contact: Emilio Subil (305) 979-6411
Emilio Solernou (786) 346-5141
A press conference will launch the Third Annual Cuban Memorial, to be held Friday, February 18th through Sunday, February 20, 2005 in Miami.
The third annual Memorial will once again reinforce its commitment to denounce the horrible crimes committed by Fidel Castro’s regime.
Family members of the victims will be available for interviews.
The Cuban Memorial Organizing Committee
6600 S.W. 24th Street, Miami FL 33155
Corcoran Gallery suspends program at Cuba’s Interest Section amidst protests
November 24, 2004.
The Washington Post reported today that the Corcoran Gallery of Art has abruptly cancelled an evening program at the Cuban Interest Section scheduled for November 30th (“Corcoran Pulls the Plug on Cuba Night, p. C11.) The announcement coincided with the initiation of a grass roots campaign protesting the event and questions by the U.S. government regarding adherence to regulations that restrict funds to the Castro regime.
Yale professor Carlos Eire, recipient of the 2003 National Book Award for “Waiting for Snow in Havana,” expressed his dismay to Corcoran’s President David Levy in a harsh letter. Referring to the invitation to Cuba’s diplomatic mission as an opportunity to get in touch with the “real Cuba and it people,” he stated: “Your phrasing raises a very interesting philosophical question: Are Cubans on the island the only “real” ones? Are exiles less “real” than the place they flee?” Calling the Cuban regime “one of the most reprehensible in the world,” he added: “I am certain that back in the 1980’s, you would not have associated with any representatives of the former Republic of South Africa, with its apartheid laws.” Among others who wrote in objection to the event is Elena Maza, Cuban American artist from Maryland who is a member of the Corcoran’s Alumni Association.
The Free Society Project wrote to Corcoran’s President and Chair of its Board of Trustees: “It’ is truly objectionable that your distinguished institution affords legitimacy to officials who only represent a brutal tyranny and offers to serve as instrument of their senseless propaganda.
Hopefully, this has been an oversight by Museum staff unfamiliar with Cuba’s Constitution, Penal Code, and many other laws that clearly state that art and culture in Cuba are solely allowed for the purposes of the totalitarian Communist state.” It offered to help organize an educational program on repression of cultural and artistic freedom in Cuba and bring Cuban artists in exile to recount their experiences. Citing thousands killed or disappeared by the Castro regime, the letter highlights the 1979 assassination while under arrest of 16-year old Máximo Galán Zaldívar, detained at the State Security Office for “ideological deviation” for leading a rock and roll group.
The Free Society Project is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that promotes human rights through research, scholarship, and publications. Its Truth Recovery Archive on Cuba is documenting the cost in lives of the Cuban Revolution.
Corcoran had led educational trips to Cuba under general licenses issued by the U.S. Treasury Department to allow travel for people-to-people exchanges despite the long-standing embargo on Cuba. The Bush Administration suspended general licensing for these exchanges amidst reports of widespread abuse as the Cuban government reaped the economic benefits while limiting free exchanges with the Cuban people. U.S. visitors reportedly enjoying highly structured and mostly tourist-oriented opportunities.
Maria C. Werlau
President – Free Society Project, Inc.
Of. Tel. 973.701-0520
EXECUTIONS BY FIRING SQUAD NOTHING NEW IN CUBA
For immediate release.
May 2003, Washington, DC. On April 11th, the Cuban government executed three men accused of hijacking a ferry. Worldwide outrage and condemnation have been reported, a welcome development. But, the brutal nature of the Castro regime is not news. Thousands of its victims have written this tragic story for over 44 years. Close to 6,000 executions for political reasons have been independently documented, a figure believed lower than the actual number.
On April 2nd a group of ten hijacked a ferry with 50 passengers in an attempt to flee Cuba for the United States. A standoff of one day ended without violence, although the hijackers were reportedly armed with one pistol and several knives. On April 8th, the three ringleaders -Lorenzo Enrique Copello Castillo, Barbaro Leodan Sevilla García and Jorge Luis Martínez Isaac- were sentenced to death for acts of terrorism in secret summary trials, in total disregard of due process of law. Less than three days later they were executed by firing squad, their families notified only after the bodies had been buried under cement. Seven alleged co-conspirators received prison sentences ranging from life to three years.
The executions were believed to be the first in three years. In its four decade long reign in power, however, the Cuban Communist government has executed thousands in its effort to crush opposition. A documentation effort led by Dr. Armando Lago, the Truth Recovery Archive on Cuba, is recording the loss of life resulting from the Cuban Revolution. It reports executions of eighteen men who, from 1961 to 1992, attempted to flee the country by boat, most without resorting to force or violence. In 1963, for example, the New York Times reported that three Protestant ministers left Cuba by boat as part of a group of nineteen. They arrived at Anguilla Key, Bahamas, where the Cuban Coast Guard staged a raid. Returned to Cuba, Reverends José Durado, Pablo Rodríguez and Antonio González were swiftly executed for exiting the country illegally.
Cuba’s Penal Code establishes the death penalty, delivered by firing squad, for a large number of causes that include numerous acts against state security, including hijacking. The Penal Code also declares illegal entry to and exit from the national territory as crimes punishable with prison. The Truth Recovery Archive on Cuba has documented the assassination of 73 people, including children, caught while attempting to flee the country by sea. Cuban patrols have machine gunned the escapees or rammed their vessels, drowning them. Many more anecdotal accounts are known, including the sinking of rafts with sandbags thrown from aircraft.
The Castro regime has shown time and time again its mercilessness with those who challenge its absolute rule. The executions came in the wake of a crackdown on Cuba’s peaceful dissident movement and two plane hijackings. As world attention has been focused on Iraq, 75 human rights’ activists and independent journalists and librarians received prison terms ranging up to 28 years for conspiring with U.S. diplomats to subvert the government.
For additional information on the Truth Recovery Archive on Cuba and updates on research on loss of life during the Cuban Revolution, go to www.CubaArchive.org.
Maria C. Werlau,
Free Society Project, Inc,