CubaBrief: Spanish Post Opinion Journalist threatened by secret police. Human Rights defender receives death threats. Cuban Americans back sanctions.

There are numerous important items on Cuba that are worthy of coverage in this CubaBrief and for the sake of completeness we will touch on them now, and follow up in greater detail over the next few weeks.

State Security wants to silence Cuban journalist Abraham Jimenez Enoa

State Security wants to silence Cuban journalist Abraham Jimenez Enoa

On October 1, 2020 in a series of tweets, Cuban independent journalist, Abraham Jimenez Enoa, described his detention by police and state security agents:

“I just got home after being interrogated for almost five hours. Before that, when I arrived at the supposed police station where I was summoned, they stripped me nude to search me, I was handcuffed, and then they made me keep my head down as I was transported in a car with three plainclothes agents to the Villa Marista State Security office,” he said.

“There they told me that if I publish an article in The Washington Post again, I was going to be arrested for usurpation of functions because the newspaper is not accredited in Cuba, that they would start a war against my family and relatives, that all of this was because it was the U.S government that was backing me.”

“After many more threats, they took me back. They didn’t handcuff me, but they again made me hold my head down. This post is, above all, for those people who believe a dictatorial regime does not rule in Cuba,” he concludes.

On June 15, 2020 The Washington Post announced that they had “named Havana-based journalist Abraham Jiménez Enoa a contributor to its Spanish-language page, Post Opinión, and the newspaper highlighted that “he is the co-founder of El Estornudo, Cuba’s first online magazine dedicated to narrative journalism.” 

On a regular basis Jiménez Enoa provided commentary focused on social and political issues in Cuba for Post Opinión over the past five months. Castro’s repressive apparatus is seeking to sever this relationship with the above described measures. This crude censorship by the dictatorship needs to be denounced and this and other independent journalists defended.

On July 3, 2019 this independent Cuban journalist wrote an OpEd in The New York Times where he explained why he was not leaving Cuba. Abraham explained that “[t]hose of us who stay must maintain an open struggle against an authoritarian government,” and he concluded, “the only way to change the future is to keep raising our voices and march against the long-lived revolutionary system.”

The dictatorship’s state security has a record of making and following through on these kinds of threats. It is for this reason that the Center for a Free Cuba (CFC) has taken seriously the death threats made against former prisoner of conscience and human rights defender Librado Linares, and his family.

CFC filed a request for precautionary measures with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on September 30th on behalf of Librado Linares García, an engineer who heads Movimiento Cubano Reflexión in Cuba, in the wake of heightened death threats against him and his family; increased arbitrary arrests and attacks against his home; and the launching of a defamatory campaign against him. Spanish media reported on these developments, and CFC  will continue to monitor this case.

Librado Linares and his wife Magaly.

Librado Linares and his wife Magaly.

“These death threats should not be taken lightly. Numerous Cuban opposition actors who have been threatened similarly have ended up dead while under custody of the regime in Havana, as was the case of Oswaldo Payá and of Laura Pollán, among many others. Librado Linares is an opposition leader who has been unjustly imprisoned and who has been the object of a relentless campaign against him this past year. We come before the IACHR seeking protection for his life as well as the lives of his wife and son,” stated John Suarez, the CFC’s executive director.

On October 2nd at 11:00am Guillermo Grenier, the principal investigator on the project and chair of the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies in the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs, Florida International University presented “The Cuba Poll, which is the longest-running research project measuring Cuban American public opinion,” and found increased support for a policy that puts maximum pressure on the Castro regime with the objective of achieving regime change in Cuba, and for the maintenance of economic sanctions. At the same time polls showed that Cuban Americans wanted policies that helped Cubans not the dictatorship.

Some have found the poll results to be contradictory, but CFC executive director John Suarez, who attended The Cuba Poll presentation online asked that if support for the rollback of the previous Administration’s engagement policy by Cuban Americans polled was due to how it resulted in the “expansion of Castro’s military in the Cuban economy pushing out private Cubans from space they had before the detente with the United States. Professor Grenier described it as a good hypothesis.

Center for a Free Cuba, September 30, 2020 

CFC REQUESTS PROTECTION FROM THE OAS FOR THE LIFE OF LIBRADO LINARES GARCÍA WHOM CUBA HAS THREATENED WITH DEATH 

The Center petitions the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to issue precautionary measures

Librado Linares received death threats from state security agents in Cuba

Librado Linares received death threats from state security agents in Cuba

Center for a Free Cuba, September 30, 2020, Washington, DC.  The Center for a Free Cuba (CFC) today filed a request for precautionary measures with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of Librado Linares García, an engineer who heads Movimiento Cubano Reflexión in Cuba, in the wake of heightened death threats against him and his family; increased arbitrary arrests and attacks against his home; and the launching of a defamatory campaign against him. 

“These death threats should not be taken lightly. Numerous Cuban opposition actors who have been threatened similarly have ended up dead while under custody of the regime in Havana, as was the case of Oswaldo Payá and of Laura Pollán, among many others. Librado Linares is an opposition leader who has been unjustly imprisoned and who has been the object of a relentless campaign against him this past year. We come before the IACHR seeking protection for his life as well as the lives of his wife and son,” stated John Suarez, the CFC’s executive director. 

In its report dated September 29th, Movimiento Cubano Reflexión condemns these actions and describes the agenda of Cuba’s State Security authorities.

“The threats, including death threats, continue against MCR’s Secretary General and his family in Camajuaní. For more than a year and a half, [State Security] has implemented an additional repressive operative against MCR’s Secretary General, Librado R. Linares García and his family, that includes: death threats and/or threats of beatings, via mobile text and voice-mail messages; throwing garbage, rocks, paint and dead animals in front of his house; placing signs along the railing of his porch; and, in one occasion, writing lude statements on the façade of the house,” the report states.

The request for precautionary measures includes proof of these attacks and asks the IACHR to intercede with the Cuban government on Librado Linares’ behalf and demand protection for his physical integrity as well as that of his son César Linares and his wife Magaly Broche. 

The Center for a Free Cuba calls on the international community to denounce the increase of repression in Cuba against advocates of human rights and hopes that this petition to the IACHR is answered before irreparable harm is done.

https://www.cubacenter.org/articles-and-events/2020/10/2/cfc-requests-protection-from-the-oas-for-the-life-of-librado-linares-garca-whom-cuba-has-threatened-with-deathnbsp

FIU News, October 2, 2020

FIU Cuba Poll: Most Cuban Americans support President Trump and his policies, will vote to re-elect him

Politics, Law & Society

By Madeline Baro

October 2, 2020

A majority of Cuban Americans support President Donald Trump and plan to vote for him in November, according to the latest FIU Cuba Poll.

They gave Trump high marks on his handling of key national issues such as the COVID-19 crisis, immigration, health care, Cuba policy, China policy and the economy, and mixed but still supportive reviews on his handling of race relations and national protests. The Cuba Poll, which is the longest-running research project measuring Cuban American public opinion, also found increased support for isolationist policies and for the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

“Cubans remain a majority Republican ethnic group and like the majority of Republicans throughout the country, they are supportive of President Trump and his administration’s approach to governing,” said Guillermo Grenier, the principal investigator on the project and chair of the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies in the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs, the primary sponsor of the poll. “He receives high marks on handling all of the measured key national issues as well as his handling of Cuba policy and will receive a strong majority of the Cuban-American vote on Election Day.”

A total of 1,002 Cuban Americans were polled from July 7 to Aug. 17. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent. The poll was conducted by Grenier and Qing Lai, associate professor of sociology in the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies.

Support for the embargo has fluctuated over the past three decades. The 2020 poll found 60 percent of Cuban Americans support the policy, continuing an upward trend seen initially in the 2018 poll. This is the highest level of support since 2007. Younger Cuban Americans are more likely to oppose the embargo (46 percent) as are Cuban Americans who were not born in Cuba (50 percent) and registered Democrats (72 percent).  The general support for the embargo is expressed simultaneously with the view, by 71 percent of the population, that the embargo has not been an effective policy.

“There is strong support to give antagonism a chance,” Grenier said. “The political narrative encouraging engagement has been replaced by one encouraging isolation of Cuba. This is a national narrative and Cubans are more sensitive to it than other groups.”

Grenier and Lai characterized the tendencies in the results of the poll as either supporting “policies of the carrot” (engagement) or “policies of the stick” (isolation). 

When it comes to the “policies of the stick,” 73 percent of respondents support policies that are designed to promote regime change by putting maximum pressure on the Cuban government. All categories of respondents expressed overwhelming support for hardline policies, with only registered Democrats and the oldest respondents (76 years of age and above) opposing the policies. The increased support for the embargo is also an indication of this type of assertive policy.

In the “policies of the carrot” camp, the sociologists noted the strong support for suspending embargo sanctions during the COVID-19 crisis (61 percent), high support for engagement measures such as selling of food (69 percent) and medicines (74 percent), and strong support for policies designed specifically to improve the economic well-being of Cubans on the island (70 percent). Also, while fewer Cuban Americans support a policy of unrestricted travel compared to the 2018 poll (47 percent in 2020 vs. 57 percent in 2018), the support for airlines to establish routes to all regions of Cuba is strong (65 percent). The pollsters noted that about half of Cuban Americans in South Florida send remittances to family members on the island and 70 percent have close relatives or significant others living in Cuba.

“It is not surprising that the poll measures a certain amount of ambivalence in the population,” Grenier said. “Most Cubans desire change in Cuba and in U.S. Cuba policy. They are unclear, even after 60 years of experience, whether isolation or engagement will bring about change so they are leaving the door open to more engagement while signaling that, perhaps due to the leadership provided by Trump and his administration, they are willing to give isolation policies their support. Still, both tendencies are evident in the community.”

Florida International University’s Cuban Research Institute (CRI) began sponsoring the Cuba Poll in 1991 to record a snapshot of the Cuban-American community at a time of major geopolitical change, including the collapse of the Soviet Union. Funding for the 2020 Cuba Poll was provided by the Green SchoolCRI and the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, the FIU Office of the President and the Division of External Relations, Strategic Communication and Marketing.

https://news.fiu.edu/2020/fiu-cuba-poll-most-cuban-americans-support-president-trump-and-his-policies,-will-vote-to-re-elect-him

The New York Times, July 3, 2019

Young People Are Fleeing Cuba. But I’m Staying.

The only way to change the future of Cuba is to keep raising our voices and march against the long-lived revolutionary system.

By Abraham Jiménez Enoa

Mr. Jiménez Enoa is a Cuban journalist.

July 3, 2019

Hundreds of young Cubans marched in Havana in April against animal abuse.Credit.Yander Zamora/EPA, via Shutterstock

Hundreds of young Cubans marched in Havana in April against animal abuse.Credit.Yander Zamora/EPA, via Shutterstock

HAVANA — For 12 years the government allowed a march through the streets in support of L.G.B.T.Q. rights. This year, the regime ordered its cancellation. Nevertheless, I and a group of friends joined others in May and peacefully walked seven blocks before a cordon of police officers violently shut down the march. The confrontation was just another example of a great dichotomy in Cuba, an island divided — and threatened — by age.

Sixty years after the revolution, young Cubans like myself and my friends must decide whether to leave the island to avoid suffering the consequences of dictatorship — authoritarianism, repression and a failed economic model — or stay and push for change. For about 17,000 a year between 2008 and 2016, the decision was to go.

The Castro revolution and the regime’s perennial leaders have grown old together. Today, Cuba faces the quandary of having the largest population of people 60 and over in Latin America. According to data from the National Office of Statistics and Information, by 2030 almost one-third of the population will be at least 60.

The Cuban system never departed from the orthodox doctrines it inherited from the former Soviet Union. The fact that young Cubans are fleeing is an undeniable defeat for the Castro regime. It also means we are facing a future in limbo: Either the dictatorship falls, or the island will become a nation of elderly people.

In raising our voices, we can see a future of possibilities.

The arrival of public Wi-Fi in 2015 resulted in internet connectivity for 56 percent of the island’s 11.2 million people. The internet has reconfigured society by allowing citizens to express themselves freely on its platforms and feel empowered. An alternative to the official voice imposed for years has emerged. Dissent is moving beyond the online world and materializing in real life.

The first evidence of a civil society taking shape appeared in January, when a tornado devastated several Havana municipalities. The country’s population, without the consent of the political party that controls all aspects of life in Cuba, turned out in droves to the affected areas to show solidarity with the victims and provide assistance.

Then, in February, the first constitutional referendum in 43 years was held. Despite the government’s broad campaign promoting the “Yes” vote, more than two million Cubans voted “No,” abstained or left their ballots blank.

Other small acts of insurrection have followed. Hundreds of people marched to demand a law to protect animals and punish their mistreatment. Ecological groups have taken to social networks to organize cleanups of public spaces. Arbitrary arrests, kidnappings and harassment of independent journalists, opposition figures and civil society activists by the government no longer go unnoticed. But these demonstrations of civic advocacy are still rare.

It’s very difficult to plan for life in a nation where the basic salary is around $30 a month, where the government issues decrees to regulate everything from artistic expression to the number of tables and chairs that a restaurant can have, and where a person is fortunate to find toilet paper at the market.

The United Nations International Organization for Migration reports that 1,558,312 Cubans currently reside elsewhere. The history of the revolution has been one of exodus — this is true of all Cubans, but especially of young people.

Not even President Barack Obama’s repeal of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy in 2017 could stop the flow. Cubans may no longer throw themselves into the sea on rafts in hopes of reaching the Florida coast, but they continue to emigrate: A majority of those who flee take on the risky adventure of surrendering themselves to Central American smugglers — coyotes — to arrive at the border posts of Mexico and, from there, pursue the American dream.

Fidel Castro once said that “being internationalist means paying our own debt with humanity.” Paradoxically, the revolution ended up fulfilling the dictator’s wish: Cuba has become one of the world’s largest exporters of human capital. The country gives its professionals free access to education at its universities, but not the freedom to have a career or express themselves without violence.

Cuba’s generational divide threatens to grow. Without the capacities and contributions of young people, it’s impossible to imagine a way out of the systemic crisis that the country is experiencing. By robbing the island of its future, the octogenarian leaders will be left with no successors.

Those of us who stay must maintain an open struggle against an authoritarian government. The only way to change the future is to keep raising our voices and march against the long-lived revolutionary system.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/03/opinion/international-world/cuba-youth-revolution.html