Human Rights in Cuba

Time To Change

March 2013
« Dec   Apr »
Waiting for help
Waiting for help

Daily Archives: March 23, 2013

Cuba Tries to Block UN Speech by Oswaldo Paya's Daughter / Rosa Maria
Paya Acevedo
Posted on March 22, 2013

Thank you, Mr. President.

My name is Rosa Maria Payá, member of the Christian Liberation Movement
and daughter of its national coordinator, Oswaldo Payá, opposition
leader and Sakharov Prize laureate of the European Parliament.

My father dedicated his life to working for legal and nonviolent change
for Cubans to enjoy all basic human rights.

He promoted the Varela Project, a referendum supported by over 25,000
citizens, who have defied repression to demand legal reforms that
guarantee freedom of expression, freedom of association, free elections,
freedom of nonviolent political prisoners and the right to own private

The government has so far refused to allow this plebiscite, and it
imprisoned the majority of its leaders.

Yosvani Melchor Rodríguez is 30 years old, and has spent three years in
prison as a punishment for his mother being a member of our movement.

Cuban authorities said that my father and Harold Cepero, a youth
activist, died in a traffic accident. But after interviewing the
survivors, we confirmed that their deaths were not accidental.

[Cuban delegate Juan Quintanilla starts banging on his desk.]

President of the Session (UNHRC Vice President Luis Gallegos Chiriboga,
ambassador of Ecuador):

There is a point of order from the delegation of Cuba.

Cuba (Juan Quintanilla):

Thank you, Mr. President. I apologize for the noise in the room but
it was necessary to interrupt the statement by the mercenary who has
dared to come to this room. We would like to ask, Mr. President, if this
debate on Item 4 refers to general questions that may show a pattern of
violations of human rights, or whether it is also to be used to address
specific issues such as what is being done now by the mercenary, who has
been taking the floor at this juncture. We have this concern, Mr.
President, and we would be very grateful if you could clarify things for
us and if you could show this to the mercenary who is delivering a
statement. Thank you.

United States:

Thank you Mr. President. We highlight that the US firmly believes
that NGOs must be permitted to speak in the Council. The member states,
including the United States, may occasionally disagree with the content
of a NGO statement. It is essential that civil society voices be heard
here in an atmosphere of open expression. Without addressing the
substance of what the speaker was saying, we are of the opinion that
what we have heard of the intervention so far is addressed to the
subject matter at hand before this Council under item 4. Mr. President,
we respectfully ask that you rule that the speaker be allowed to finish
her presentation. Thank you.

China: Thank you, Mr. President. The Chinese delegation believes that
the concern of the Cuban delegation is valid. I hope, Mr. President,
that you will seriously consider the request by the Cuban delegation.
Thank you.

Russia: Thank you, Mr. President. Our delegation would like to support
what is being said by the delegation of Cuba, objecting to the procedure
being used for conducting the meeting. We would like to ask you to
appeal to the representative of the NGO which is speaking to adhere to
the established rules of procedure for the Council and the agenda as
established. Thank you very much.

Pakistan: We support the point of order raised by the Cuban delegation.
Thank you.

Nicaragua: My delegation is asking for the floor to support the request
put forward by Cuba in its point of order. Thank you very much.

Belarus: Mr. President, the delegation of Belarus joins the well-founded
statement on the point of order and procedural issues as raised by the
delegation of Cuba. Thank you.

President: I would like to remind the organizations that are speaking
that we are on Agenda Item 4, the human rights situations which require
attention in the Council, and that they confine to that subject matter
in their statements.

[Paya then resumed her statement.]

Thank you, Mr. President.

The driver of the car told the Washington Post that they were
intentionally rammed from behind. The text messages from the survivors
on the day of the event confirm this.

The Cuban government's state security calls my family home in Havana,
saying: "We're going to kill you." These are the same death threats that
were made to my father. I want to be clear: The physical integrity of
all members of my family is the responsibility of the Cuban government.

Today I wish to present this appeal, signed by 46 political leaders and
activists from around the world. We urge the United Nations to launch an
independent investigation into the death of my father.

The truth is essential to the process of reconciliation that is
necessary for a transition to democracy in Cuba. We do not seek revenge.
But we have a right to know:

Who is responsible for the death of my father?

When will the people of Cuba finally enjoy basic democracy and
fundamental freedoms?

Thank you, Mr. President.

At the end of the general debate, Cuba took the floor again to exercise
a right of reply.

Cuba, exercising right of reply:

An anti-Cuban mercenary addressed the Council today to try to blame
the Cuban government for the death of her father, who died last year in
a car accident. This mercenary was accredited by United Nations Watch, a
reactionary NGO without any credibility. Nobody takes it seriously and
it only works for the service of the United States.

Rosa Maria Paya is a created, invented individual — financed and
promoted by the US government. She has close relations with the US
Interests Office in Havana, which she has visited on many occasions.

As regards to the alleged facts, nobody in their right mind would
believe them during the oral and public hearing. And on the basis of
abundant proof, including expert proof, it was shown that Angel
Carromero was driving at well above 120 kilometers an hour, and it was
his lack of attention and care, the fact that he was driving too fast,
and a wrong decision to step on the brakes too hard on a slippery
surface that caused this tragic accident which cost the life of two
individuals. Angel Carromero in fact recognized this.

Both Rosa Maria Paya and Regis Iglesias — speaking on behalf of
another phony NGO — are vulgar agents, paid, educated and trained by the
US government in order to bring about a regime change in Cuba. They both
work for those who are in favor of the blockade and aggression against
their own people.

[Note: Original posted in English on Rosa Maria's blog.]

20 March 2013 Continue reading
US on verge of momentous Cuba decision: Whether to take island off
controversial terror list
Published March 23, 2013
Associated Press

HAVANA – A normally routine bit of Washington bureaucracy could have a
big impact on U.S. relations with Cuba, either ushering in a
long-stalled detente or slamming the door on rapprochement, perhaps
until the scheduled end of the Castro era in 2018.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry must decide within a few weeks
whether to advocate that President Barack Obama should take Cuba off a
list of state sponsors of terrorism, a collection of Washington foes
that also includes Iran, Syria and Sudan.

Cuban officials have long seen the terror designation as unjustified and
told visiting American delegations privately in recent weeks that they
view Kerry's recommendation as a litmus test for improved ties. They
also hinted the decision could affect discussions over the release of
jailed U.S. subcontractor Alan Gross, whose detention in 2009 torpedoed
hopes of a diplomatic thaw.

Inclusion on the list means a ban not only on arms sales to Cuba but
also on items that can have dual uses, including some hospital
equipment. It also requires that the United States oppose any loans to
Cuba by the World Bank or other international lending institutions,
among other measures.

U.S. officials agree the recommendation, which Kerry must make before
the State Department's annual terror report is published April 30, has
become ensnared in the standoff over Gross. The American was sentenced
to 15 years in prison after he was caught bringing communications
equipment onto the island illegally while working for a USAID-funded
democracy-building program.

Cuba has been on the terror list since 1982, and is also the target of a
51-year U.S. economic embargo — the reason why the island of beaches,
music and rum is the only country Americans cannot visit as tourists.
Removal from the list would not change that.

Critics say Cuba's inclusion on the list has little to do with any real
threat posed by the Communist-run Caribbean island, and they say the
list has become so politicized it's useless. North Korea was removed in
2008 during nuclear negotiations that ultimately failed, and was never
put back on. Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden had been hiding out, is not
on the list in large part because of its strategic importance.

Longtime Cuba analyst Philip Peters of the Virginia-based think tank the
Lexington Institute said removing Cuba from the list "makes sense ...
just because it's been a specious allegation that the United States has
repeated for many years ... It would improve the atmosphere."

Others argue against rewarding Havana unless it releases Gross.

"I have long believed it's in our interest to see an improvement in
relations with Cuba," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from
Gross's home state of Maryland who traveled with a congressional
delegation to Havana last month. But "the first step needs to be
resolving Alan Gross's situation."

Voices calling for a change in the policy are growing louder, however.

Last month, The Boston Globe cited administration sources saying
high-level diplomats determined Cuba should be dropped from the list.
That prompted State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland to say there
were "no current plans" to do so, though she did not explicitly rule out
the possibility.

Last week, a Los Angeles Times editorial called for Cuba's removal from
the list, and other newspapers have voiced similar opinions. The Cuba
Study Group, a Washington-based exile organization that advocates
engagement to promote democratic change, issued a white paper in
February calling for an "apolitical" reexamination of the terror

While Kerry can review the designation even after the State Department's
report comes out, Cuba's continued inclusion on the list in April would
almost certainly rule out its chances of removal in 2013.

A U.S. official involved in deliberations told The Associated Press that
Kerry will ultimately decide and nobody under him is in a position to
predict what will happen. "It's very much up in the air," he said.

But another administration official said that lifting the terror
designation will be a hard sell while Gross remains imprisoned.

"It's very unlikely," the second official said. "There is no consensus.
And if you are on (the list), you stay on as long as there is no
consensus on taking you off."

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not
authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Ostensibly, Cuba has been designated a terror sponsor because it harbors
members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel
group, the Basque militant organization ETA and a handful of U.S.
fugitives, many of whom have lived here since the 1970s.

But much has changed in recent years.

Late last year, peace talks began in Havana between Colombia and the
FARC, and even Washington has voiced hope that the negotiations will end
Colombia's half-century old conflict.

ETA announced a permanent cease-fire in 2011, and Madrid has not openly
called for the return of any Basque fugitives. Cuba has enjoyed improved
relations with Spain and Colombia in recent years, and both countries
routinely vote at the U.N. against continuing the U.S. embargo.

Under President Raul Castro, Cuba has freed dozens of dissidents and has
begun opening its economy and society, though it remains a one-party
political system that permits no legal opposition. Castro announced in
February that he would step down in 2018 and signaled a likely successor.

The time might also be ripe in terms of U.S. politics.

While in the Senate, Kerry was an outspoken critic of America's policy
on Cuba, saying it has "manifestly failed for nearly 50 years." He
called for travel restrictions to end and held up millions of dollars in
funding for the type of programs Gross worked with.

His boss, President Obama, no longer has to worry about reelection or
pleasing Cuban-Americans, an all-important voting bloc in the crucial
swing state of Florida.

Ann Louise Bardach, a longtime Cuba observer and the author of "Without
Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana and Washington," said all the
political winds would seem to point toward a reboot in relations —
except for Havana's decision to hold Gross and try to swap him for five
Cuban agents in the U.S.

"In a way they cooked their goose with Alan Gross," she said. "The
Cubans thought, 'Gee what a brilliant idea, we'll have a chit to trade.'
Little did they know that they would be at this moment where you have
considerable momentum to move on in Washington, and politically, because
of the Gross mess, Washington can't act."


Associated Press reporters Bradley Klapper and Jessica Gresko in
Washington, and Peter Orsi in Havana contributed to this report. Continue reading
Posted on Saturday, 03.23.13

Illegal Cuban migrants slip from Turks into Miami
By Juan O. Tamayo

Sixteen illegal Cuban migrants have slipped out of the Turks and Caicos
Islands as mysteriously as they arrived, and at least a dozen have been
delivered to Miami by what authorities suspect is a people-smuggling ring.

The Miami arrivals include the mother and other relatives of Oakland
Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who told ESPN last week that he
was ecstatic after having just seen her for the first time since he
defected in 2011.

Clara Gardiner, in charge of the Turks and Caicos' Ministry of
Immigration and Border Control, said Thursday that authorities are
investigating the Cubans' escape but that she did not know when the
inquiry would be completed.

The Cubans' disappearance points to the existence of a ring suspected of
smuggling Cubans and Haitians westward through the Bahamas and to
Florida, according to officials in the Turks and Caicos, a British-run
territory about 250 miles northeast of Cuba.

The case started when a Turks and Caicos coastal radar detected a speed
boat coming out of Cuba in October, according to two detailed reports on
the Cubans by the territory's Sun newspaper. Authorities followed it to
a waterfront mansion in the Discovery Bay area of Providenciales, the
third largest island in the territory.

Police detained a total of 25 illegal Cuban migrants in the rented
mansion and other parts of the island chain, the Sun reported, including
Cespedes' mother, Estela Milanes Salazar, three children, a
seven-month-old baby and her 17-year-old mother.

Some of the Cubans had fake Turks and Caicos stamps on their passports.
One told authorities that she had arrived more than three months
earlier, according to the newspaper. Most appeared to have arrived by
speed boat.

The four children and their two mothers stayed with a Cuban doctor
legally in the Turks and Caicos, and the rest were taken to the Five
Cays Detention Centre, where Milanes and nine others asked for political
asylum. It's not clear what happened to the others.

A judge ordered the 10 Cubans freed in January, after their attorney
complained that conditions at the detention center were terrible and
that one of the women had suffered a miscarriage for lack of medical
attention. They had to post a $20,000 guarantee and report to police
once a week.

Prosecutors opposed the request, arguing that the Cubans had requested
asylum only after they were found by police, that not all asylum
applicants were legitimate and that the Cubans would be free to slip out
of the Turks and Caicos illegally.

Authorities believe that smugglers spirited the 16 Cubans out of the
Turks and Caicos aboard speed boats. "Based on what we've seen so far,
this is an extremely well-organized operation," the Sun quoted one law
enforcement source as saying.

The ESPN report on March 12 noted that Cespedes had just returned to
Oakland As' spring training camp in Phoenix after seeing his mother and
11 other family members in Miami for the first time since he defected in

ESPN reported that Cespedes, speaking through an interpreter, Oakland
coach Ariel Prieto, said his 12 family members had left Cuba illegally
more than one year ago for the United States but was "vague" on details.

He mentioned a stop in the Dominican Republic — southeast of the British
islands — and claimed they had been "released" from the Turks and
Caicos, according to the ESPN report.

Cespedes said his mother, now 44, was a pitcher on the Cuban Olympic
softball team and could throw an 80 mph fastball.

Four Cuban women detained in the Bahamas as illegal migrants said,
meanwhile, that they have declared a hunger strike to block plans to
send them back to the communist-run island, according to the blog Diario
de Cuba.

The women are among the 33 Cubans who arrived illegally in the Bahamas
in different groups in recent months and are being held in the Nassau
Detention Center. Bahamas authorities usually repatriate almost all
Cuban migrants detained there. Continue reading
Originally published Friday, March 22, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Cuba: A dizzying blend all around

The U.S. government still strictly controls Americans' access, mostly by
permitting only registered cultural/educational tours.
By Kristin R. Jackson

A LITTLE PIG gets a breath of fresh air, at least for a while, in a bike
cart as its owner pedals through the back streets of Guantánamo, Cuba.

The Cuban city is best known for the nearby U.S. Navy base of Guantánamo
Bay with its notorious prison for terrorist suspects. But the city is a
thickly populated, hardscrabble home to about 250,000 people who, in the
face of the tottering Cuban economy, find ingenious ways to make a
living — like ferrying a pig home, where it will be fattened up for the
food market.

As U.S.-Cuban relations slowly thaw, more American tourists are heading
to Cuba, although the U.S. government, which has an economic embargo
against the Caribbean island nation, still strictly controls Americans'
access, mostly by permitting only registered cultural/educational tours.

Those who do get to Cuba will find a dizzying blend of decaying colonial
buildings and rickety old American cars, hot sun and gleaming beaches,
economic poverty and cultural wealth.

And, perhaps, a pig in a bike cart.

Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times' NWTraveler editor. Contact her
at Continue reading
Zapata lives
Zapata lives
No place to live
No place to live