CUBA BRIEF: UM ICCAS soap opera contines. Regime orders artist to remove art. Havana blasts UK, Germany, Spain, Norway, and USA

Last year, while President Barack Obama concentrated on the final touches of his Cuba legacy, American diplomats at the US Embassy in Havana reported mysterious “headaches, nausea and hearing loss.” Today the number of victims, including Canadian diplomats injured by the alleged sonic attacks continues to increase. While Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Cuba guru, insists that Cuban government leaders would never stoop so low, CNN and The Hill report that more diplomats and their relatives have been hurt than previously reported. Press reports tell us that the previous Administration failed to inform the Congress as it should have.  In May the State Department expelled two Cuban officials due to this outrage.  

El Nuevo Herald reports that Cuba’s Vice-president Miguel Díaz-Canel, in a Cuban Communist Party video that has reached Cuban dissidents, defends press censorship and denounces independent initiatives taking place in Cuba. In the video, he denounces several embassies for their ”subversive“ activities and their support of “counter-revolutionary organizations.” Diaz-Canel blasted the United States, Norway, Spain, Germany, and Britain. He said some critical digital platforms will be closed. He was bitter about the celebration of Halloween in Cuba. Read here the El Nuevo Herald article by Nora Gamez Torres. If it is published in English we will distribute it.

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The saga of ICCAS, Andy Gomez, and UM’s Dr. Julio Frenk has turned into one of those soap operas that never ends. Today, after UM president Frenk assured seventeen special guests that Provost Jeffrey Duerk is in charge of setting up a search committee to find a new ICCAS director, distancing himself from earlier comments by Dr. Gomez, Gomez says that he has been meeting with a number of “Cuban community leaders,” presumably his friends, “seeking their opinion on the future of ICCAS.” Gomez also announced that while in this period of transition he will organize activities at the now closed institute. How Gomez without staff he says he will not hire, is to run any activities at ICCAS is an open question.  The most important recent Cuba-related activities by Dr. Gomez have nothing to do with academic excellence but with agitprop, as the now interim director on board luxurious yachts lectured tourists  on the Castros dynasty achievements. He did the impossible: speak about Cuba without mentioning repression, Havana’s alliance with North Korea or Raul Castro’s thousands of soldiers heavily involved in repressing the Venezuelans. Who speaks for UM, President Frenk who said ICCAS activities would be on hold until the new permanent director is in place, or Andy Gomez who insists on playing a most divisive role in this sad affair? Please read below Dr. Gomez’s letter to colleagues and friends.

We also include in this issue a letter to Dr. Frenk by Cuban pro-democracy activist Antonio G. Rodiles. Written in Havana it says that several articles on joint research by American universities and the Cuban regime were published by Cuba’s official newspaper. The University of Miami is one of them.  The letter says that through those agreements the Cuban regime receives U.S. government funds. The letter  to Dr. Frenk includes photographs, links and videos.

Would it be possible for American artists to call Raul Castro’s embassy in Washington ( ) to intercede on behalf of Yulier Rodriguez Perez, Cuba’s graffiti artist who was detained by police in order to “erase the 200 or so murals he has painted throughout the country.” According to the Associated Press and The Washington Post “the 27 year old says he has no plans to erase his works.”


The Washington Post, August 21, 2017

Artist ‘Yulier P’ detained in Cuba, told to erase murals

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FILE – In this Feb. 9, 2017 file photo, graffiti artist Yulier Rodriguez Perez, artistically known as Yulier P., poses next to one of his works, painted on a wall in Old Havana, Cuba. The Cuban street artist said on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, that he was detained by police last week and told to erase the 200 or so murals he has painted throughout the country. But the 27-year-old says he has no plans to erase his works. (Ramon Espinosa, File/Associated Press)

By Associated Press August 21 at 4:46 PM

HAVANA — A Cuban street artist says he was detained by police and told to erase the 200 or so murals he has painted throughout the country.

Artist Yulier Rodriguez Perez tells The Associated Press that authorities insisted he will be charged with damaging property if he does not remove whimsical images that have attracted widespread attention.

Rodriguez began painting abstract paintings on decrepit buildings and walls about three years ago. They stood out in a place where graffiti is rare and nearly all posters and murals feature political slogans or revolutionary figures. Authorities seemed to tolerate the works that he signed “Yulier P.”

But the 27-year-old said Monday that he was detained for two days last week. He says he has no plans to erase his works.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.


The Hill, August 20, 2017

More diplomats hurt in mysterious Cuban sonic attack

By Julia Manchester – 08/20/17 06:20 PM EDT

U.S. and Canadian diplomats serving in Havana have been injured in a mysterious sonic attack that has caused hearing loss.

More diplomats than previously reported have been hurt, CNN reported on Sunday, from attacks that have targeted diplomatic residences and hurt family members of people serving their country in Cuba.

It said more than 10 U.S. diplomats and family members had been treated for injuries, citing two senior government officials.

Five Canadian diplomats and family member have experienced similar problems, CNN reported.

The report comes amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Cuba in the wake of President Trump’s announcement that he will roll back the U.S. opening to Cuba initiated by the Obama administration.

The Washington Post reported in August that the State Department expelled two Cuban officials from the country’s embassy in Washington, D.C., in May after U.S. diplomats originally reported their symptoms. 

Cuban officials pledged to investigate the incidents. 

CNN said the attacks appeared to use a sophisticated weapon that “operated outside the range of audible sound.”

It said the weapon causes headaches and nausea in addition to hearing loss, and that the effects were immediate.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called on Cuba’s government to figure out what is behind the attacks.

Cuba’s government, for its part, has said it is not responsible and that it would never allow such weapons to be used against diplomats within its borders.


From: ICCAS <iccas@MIAMI.EDU>

Subject: Message from the Director

Date: August 22, 2017 at 9:11:13 AM EDT


Reply-To: ICCAS <iccas@MIAMI.EDU>

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

On August 15th I was appointed Interim Director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at The University of Miami by President Julio Frenk.  After being retired from UM for four years,

I am honored as a co-founder of ICCAS to return and assist the President and Provost in this transition period.

Last week, President Frenk and Provost Jeffrey Duerk met with members of the Cuban-American community to discuss the future of Cuban and Cuban-American studies at the University of Miami.  President Frenk and the meeting attendees engaged in a very fruitful and constructive discussion centered around the shared aspiration to strengthen the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS) at UM into a center for scholarly excellence within the University’s academic mission focused on research, teaching and community service.

President Frenk announced at the meeting that the search for the next director, headed by Provost Jeffrey Duerk will commence immediately.  The University will develop a mechanism for the Cuban-American community to provide input on this important search.  In the meantime, I have started meeting with a number of Cuban community leaders seeking their opinion on the future of ICCAS.  While the search for a permanent director is underway, President Frenk made it very clear that no policy changes or additional hiring will take place at ICCAS. President Frenk also assured the attendees at the meeting, that the University will not establish any Institutional agreements with the Cuban Government, including its universities.

In my role as Interim Director of ICCAS, I will advise the provost on the Future of the Institute. While we are in this period of transition, ICCAS will have limited activities.  We will notify you when these activities will take place and hope that you will join us.  The University of Miami shares a strong history with Cuba.  Cuban-Americans have helped build the University of Miami into a top-tier research institution and helped define the identity of Miami itself.

I have no doubt that under the leadership of President Frenk, this commitment will continue and will strengthen across the university.

I invite you to reach out to me with your thoughts about the future of ICCAS.


Dr. Andy S. Gomez

Director, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (Aug. 15)

Assistant Provost, Dean of International Studies & Senior Fellow for Cuban Studies University of Miami (Retired).


La Habana, 6 agosto 2017

Dr. Julio Frenk, Presidente

Universidad de Miami

Recientemente han aparecido publicados en Granma, periódico oficial del castrismo, varios artículos sobre las investigaciones conjuntas que se están realizando entre universidades e institutos de investigación norteamericanos y del régimen cubano. Dichos artículos mencionan a la Universidad de Miami, la Universidad del Atlántico, entre otras, como colaboradoras del Acuario Nacional de Cuba entre otras “instituciones” del régimen.

Nos dirigimos a las autoridades de ambas universidades para exponerles y denunciar que el Acuario Nacional de Cuba es una institución que el régimen utiliza para coordinar actos de hostigamiento, represión y monitoreo contra defensores de derechos humanos. Sus directivos juegan un papel clave en la realización de estos procedimientos represivos.

Resulta inexplicable que “instituciones” y sujetos que conforman el aparato represivo de un régimen totalitario, que deberían ser sancionados y condenados por sus prácticas violatorias de los derechos y libertades fundamentales, sean apoyados por instituciones de investigación y académicas norteamericanas, tramiten con ellas acuerdos de colaboración e incluso accedan a través de estos convenios a fondos del gobierno norteamericano.

Le adjuntamos fotos y links de videos donde se pueden comprobar nuestras acusaciones.

Escuchamos con extrañeza las declaraciones de funcionarios de la Universidad de Miami cuando señalaba que no tenían interés en establecer relaciones con el régimen cubano. Esperamos que la información facilitada les sea de utilidad. Nos complacería recibir una respuesta a nuestros señalamientos.


Ailer González, activista DDHH, Estado de Sats

Antonio G. Rodiles, activista de DDHH, Estado de Sats

Claudio Fuentes, activista DDHH, Estado de Sats


El Nuevo Herald, 21 de agosto de 2017

Miguel Díaz-Canel: ‘Cuba no tiene que dar nada a cambio’ a EEUU

Por Nora Gámez Torres

El vicepresidente y posible sucesor de Raúl Castro, Miguel Díaz-Canel, arremetió en un video filtrado contra opositores, medios independientes y proyectos para apoyar al sector privado, al tiempo que aseguró que Cuba no tenía que ofrecer nada a Estados Unidos en aras de mejorar las relaciones.

“El gobierno de Estados Unidos… invadió a Cuba, puso el bloqueo, impuso medidas restrictivas. Cuba no hizo nada de eso, así que a cambio de nada ellos tienen que resolver esas asimetrías si quieren relaciones y si quieren normalización de las relaciones”, dijo el primer vicepresidente cubano en lo que se supone fue una reunión con militantes del Partido Comunista de Cuba en febrero.

“Nosotros no tenemos que dar nada a cambio”, recalcó.

El video es una rara oportunidad de ver al vicepresidente más allá de los actos oficiales. Según el disidente cubano Antonio Rodiles, quien publicó el lunes el video en el canal de YouTube de la organización opositora Estado de Sats, la reunión de Díaz-Canel con “cuadros” del Partido habría ocurrido en febrero, antes que el presidente Donald Trump revisara la política hacia Cuba para darle un nuevo rumbo.

Díaz-Canel alertó a los presentes de la existencia de un “diseño norteamericano” que busca la “reconquista política y económica” de Cuba. Asimismo, observó que el proceso de normalización de relaciones iniciado por el entonces presidente Barack Obama era una “manera distinta” de intentar “la destrucción de la revolución”.

El vicepresidente es considerado el posible sucesor de Raúl Castro, pues este anunció que se retiraría en el 2018. Aunque algunos medios de prensa habían especulado sobre el carácter moderado o reformista de Díaz-Canel, en el video se le escucha defender la censura de los medios, criticar proyectos políticos de centro como Cuba Posible un centro de estudios independiente que promueve una oposición “leal”— y al programa de superación para emprendedores Cuba Emprende, que cuenta con el apoyo de la Iglesia católica.

Para Rodiles, las declaraciones del vicepresidente “verifican lo que ya sabía: es un individuo que no plantea ningún cambio, es un peón más de toda esta transferencia de poder”.

Según el disidente, el video —en el que se muestra una presentación con el logo del Partido que aborda cada uno de los temas tratados por Díaz-Canel— sugiere que el gobierno de Raúl Castro realiza un trabajo “más sistemático que el que llevaba a cabo Fidel Castro” para monitorear a la oposición dentro de la isla.

Según sus declaraciones, el vicepresidente estaría personalmente involucrado en el diseño de estrategias para manejar a la oposición y la sociedad civil independiente en la isla.

“Yo siempre le digo a los compañeros de los órganos del [Ministerio del] interior que trabajamos en conjunto en todo este enfrentamiento a la contrarrevolución: el día que nosotros pudiéramos cortar el dinero se acabó la contrarrevolución”, comentó Díaz-Canel.

También acusó a las embajadas de Estados Unidos, Noruega, España, Alemania y el Reino Unido de participar en actividades de “subversión”, que incluyen el apoyo a la “contrarrevolución confrontacional”, o la oposición tradicional.

No obstante, el gobierno cubano parece más preocupado con el surgimiento de una “oposición leal” que emplea un “lenguaje bien estructurado, no confronta directamente a la revolución, usa un discurso socialdemócrata y no están identificados como gente contrarrevolucionaria”.

Asimismo, alertó del surgimiento de una prensa independiente y de la actuación de medios extranjeros, que son tolerados en el país.

“Han aparecido sitios, revistas, portales, aparentemente inofensivos de perfil bajo, pero muchos de ellos anclados firmemente en estereotipos probados de guerra cultural”, dijo, y mencionó específicamente el sitio digital OnCuba, un medio estadounidense con corresponsalía en La Habana, que también publica una revista.

OnCuba, en su plataforma digital es muy agresiva contra la revolución. Se la vamos a cerrar”, aseguró. “Le vamos a cerrar su plataforma digital y que se arme el escándalo que se quiera armar, que digan que censuramos, está bien”.

“Aquí todo el mundo censura”, añadió.

Pero hasta el día de hoy la plataforma no ha sido cerrada, confirmó a el Nuevo Herald la directora editorial de OnCuba, Tahimí Arboleya, quien dijo que “… ha recibido todas las acreditaciones desde el 2013”, la última en abril.

Díaz-Canel también se refirió a “proyectos con contenido subversivo”, como el llamado “paquete”, las redes wifi “ilegales” y negocios privados cuya promoción se centran “en La Habana de los [años] 50”.

Por momentos, el video muestra una presentación en la que además de estos ejemplos de supuesta subversión se incluyen la visita de Obama a Cuba en el 2016, la proliferación del uso de símbolos norteamericanos y hasta la celebración de Halloween en la isla.

Siga a Nora Gámez Torres en Twitter: @ngameztorres