CubaBrief: Violence escalates against 15N organizers. House resolution backs Cuban people, calls for internet access. State names coordinator for Havana Syndrome

Cubalex, a human rights NGO, identified 1,227 detained Cubans (this is a partial number), related to the protests that began on July 11th, in their database. Summary trials have been carried out, with Cubans condemned in excess of 20 years in prison for taking part in the protests.

Following the 11J uprising on August 18, 2021 Havana brought Decree-Law 35 into force. Human Rights Watch reported that “the decree, which has the stated purpose of ‘defending’ the Cuban revolution, requires telecommunications providers to interrupt, suspend, or terminate their services when a user publishes information that is ‘fake’ or affects ‘public morality’ and the ‘respect of public order.’”

Cubans rose up and demanded an end to dictatorship on July 11, 2021

In response to this wave of repression a group of dissidents on the left of the dissident spectrum, members of the Archipelago group, decided to test the validity of existing Cuban laws.

They petitioned the Cuban government under the existing Constitution to grant their request to hold civic marches on November 20th in several Cuban provinces. The regime response was to call for a military mobilization around November 20th. The Archipelago group changed the date of the march to November 15th at 3:00pm.

The Castro regime has responded with escalating violence, and threats of imprisonment against organizers, and other dissidents that may attend or cover the civic march on November 15th. In the middle of the night the body of a dead bird was left, with its blood and feathers scattered around, at the entrance to Yunior García Aguilera’s apartment. Yunior is an artist, member of the Archipelago group, and one of the main organizers. He has also been the target of government-organized acts of repudiation at his home, shouting government slogans and trying to silence him and restrict his activism. Edited personal phone calls have been broadcast on Cuban state television in an effort to demonize Yunior Garcia and falsely claim that he is linked to terrorists. These incidents were reported by CNN and the report is included below.

Images of pro-regime elements with clubs and AK-47s appearing in public spaces in Matanzas on October 24 in an act of intimidation were posted on Facebook. Cuban prosecutors summoned dissident leaders from across Cuba who are organizing the march for November 15 warning them not to call for civic protests in their respective communities as they will be prosecuted if they do.

Pro-regime elements in Matanzas demonstrating their support for the dictatorship.

Below is a Tweet from Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo. He is currently a deputy to the National Assembly of People’s Power of Cuba, and national coordinator of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR). Through his position in the CDR, he is now in charge of spying on all Cubans on the island. Hernández Nordelo was serving a double life sentence for espionage and murder conspiracy in the extrajudicial executions of three Americans and a Cuban resident on February 24, 1996. He was released by the Obama Administration in December 2014. On August 2, 2021, he published a cartoon of a tank that shoots and sinks a cell phone that sends a clear message to the Cubans, and this week he warned dissidents that the regime was ready to pay whatever price necessary to defend itself.

These threats are nothing new, but an example of the six-decade pattern of repression of the Cuban dictatorship. Cuban independent journalist Reinaldo Escobar has written a summary that stretches back 62 years titled “A Brief Chronology of Disregard and Intolerance in Cuba” that outlines this history beginning in 1959 with Huber Matos through the Black Spring in 2003.

The international community is paying attention and on November 3rd the House of Representatives declared its solidarity with the Cuban people.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (for herself, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, and Congressman Albio Sires) successfully submitted a resolution expressing solidarity with Cuban citizens demonstrating peacefully for fundamental freedoms, condemning the Cuban regime’s acts of repression, and calling for the immediate release of arbitrarily detained Cuban citizens” to the House of Representatives on November 1, 2021. The Congressional resolution passed on November 3, 2021 resolving a number of important items including to “work with Cuban activists, civil society groups, private United States companies, and the international community to expand internet access for the Cuban people.” The House passed the resolution in a 382-40 vote. The full text can be found further below in this CubaBrief.

The outlaw regime in Havana is not just a menace to the Cuban people, but to scores of diplomats that suffered brain damage when Cuban officials failed to protect them. These injuries first documented in Cuba became known as the Havana Syndrome. “Secretary of State Antony Blinken appointed a high-ranking deputy, Jonathan Moore, earlier today to coordinate the department’s task force on the Havana Syndrome cases, reported Politico.

Politico, November 5, 2021

State Dept. names new coordinator on ‘Havana Syndrome’ cases

The State Department has named a new coordinator for its investigation into cases of so-called Havana Syndrome.

By MATTHEW LEE and NOMAAN MERCHANT
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department on Friday named a new coordinator for its investigation into cases of so-called Havana Syndrome, responding to increased pressure from lawmakers to investigate and respond to hundreds of brain injuries reported by diplomats and intelligence officers.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken appointed a high-ranking deputy, Jonathan Moore, to coordinate the department’s task force on the cases. He replaces Pamela Spratlen, a retired diplomat temporarily called back into service by Blinken before leaving in September. She had faced criticism from some victims.

Blinken also appointed retired ambassador Margaret Uyehara to lead efforts to directly support care for State Department employees.

Investigators have been studying a growing number of reported cases by U.S. personnel around the world and whether they are caused by exposure to microwaves or other forms of directed energy. People affected have reported headaches, dizziness, nausea, and other symptoms consistent with traumatic brain injuries.

Possibilities under consideration include the usage of a surveillance tool or a device intended to harm. The cases are known as “Havana Syndrome” dating to a series of reported brain injuries in 2016 at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba.

After years of investigation, the U.S. government has still not publicly identified what or who might be behind the incidents or whether they are, in fact, attacks. But leaders in the State and Defense departments and at the CIA have pushed employees to report possible brain injuries and in some cases removed leaders who were seen as unsympathetic to the cases.

“This is about the health and security of our people and there’s nothing we take more seriously,” Blinken said Friday.

Several hundred cases are under investigation. There have been multiple reports in recent weeks of potential incidents linked to visits by high-profile U.S. officials, including a case involving a member of CIA Director William Burns’ traveling party in India and incidents at the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia, prior to a visit by Blinken.

The State Department said Friday that Deputy Secretary Brian McKeon had met with diplomats in Vienna to discuss possible cases reported this year in Austria. The department said it had taken a “number of important steps, none of which we can detail publicly, to protect our personnel.”

Both Democrats and Republicans have pressed President Joe Biden’s administration to determine who and what might be responsible for the cases and improve treatment for victims, many of whom have long said government officials aren’t taking their cases seriously. Biden earlier this month signed a bill intended to improve medical care for victims.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said at a recent hearing that after speaking to victims, there was still “clearly a disconnect as to what is happening at the top levels of the State Department and how victims are being treated in some cases.”

Shaheen has introduced new legislation to fix what she described as differences in how various agencies are investigating and treating cases.

“There’s still not enough information that’s being shared, not enough coordination that’s being done,” she said in an interview. “There’s not a unanimity of response on how to deal with it.”

CIA Director Burns, pressed on Havana Syndrome cases at a separate hearing last week, noted that the agency’s investigation into the cases is led by a key leader responsible for the operation to find Osama Bin Laden. He did not refer to the cases as “attacks” after being asked by Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., whether he would use that word.

“We’ve worked very hard to improve care, the care that our officers and sometimes their family members deserve,” Burns said. “And we have mounted an extraordinarily vigorous effort to get to the bottom of the questions of who and what may be causing these as well.”

Dr. James Giordano, a scientist working on investigations into the cases, said the incidents were being viewed as “an intentional engagement” by a U.S. adversary or proxies, though he declined to specify suspected countries.

“Speaking about attribution at this point in time is a very delicate matter because of the intelligence, military, and political ramifications,” said Giordano, executive director of the Institute for Biodefense Research in Washington.

Writing for the Cipher Brief, a publication focused on intelligence, a group of former CIA officers said they had “few doubts” that Russia was responsible and expected the U.S. to eventually blame Moscow. The officers called for the U.S. to bolster its military presence in Eastern Europe, limit Russian business and tourist travel, and seek collective defense through NATO.

“For at least a decade, Russia has conducted itself as in a state of conflict with the West in general and the United States in particular,” the group said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.

https://www.wfmj.com/story/45127995/state-dept-names-new-coordinator-on-havana-syndrome-cases

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/11/05/state-dept-names-new-coordinator-on-havana-syndrome-cases-519697


CNN, November 4, 2021

Cuba is cracking down on critics. This unlikely dissident says he’ll protest anyway

By Patrick Oppmann, CNN

Cuban activists call for peaceful protests in November. See how government is reacting 03:10

Havana, Cuba (CNN)A skinny, bespectacled, left-leaning playwright whose works until recently were promoted by the government would seem an unlikely candidate to become Cuba’s public enemy number one.

But Cuban officials are increasingly taking aim at Yunior Garcia Aguilera and his proposal to hold a peaceful political march later this month — for which the state has already denied permission.

“Cubans have spent too much time in silence,” Garcia Aguilera said during an interview in his cramped apartment in the downtrodden San Agustín neighborhood of Havana. “It’s time to open our mouths with liberty and say what we think.”

Garcia Aguilera is not the typical anti-government Cuban dissident. He has worked for years in state-run theater and television productions, is critical of the US embargo on the island and says he is more liberal than Cuba’s “conservative” leadership. Cuban state-run media this week compared him to renowned Czech playwright and human rights advocate Vaclav Havel, although the description was not meant as a compliment.

His planned march is intended to call for democratic reforms to the Caribbean nation’s political system, as well as the release of political prisoners. In response, the Cuban state has targeted him with an onslaught of accusations.

Cuban state TV has broadcast recordings of Garcia Aguilera’s personal phone calls, and aired programs alleging murky ties between the playwright and dark forces allegedly bent on toppling Cuba’s more than six-decade-old revolution.

In one phone call, Garcia Aguilera can be heard having a perfunctory conversation with a well-known anti-Castro Cuban exile Ramon Saul Sanchez, who offers Garcia Aguilera his support. Cuban government officials treated the call as damning evidence that the playwright has been in touch with Cuban exiles in Florida, whom the government accuses of plotting terrorist attacks on the island.

And in a video that aired Monday on the Cuba’s Reasons television program, a local doctor named Carlos Leonardo Vázquez González showed photos of a conference that he said he attended with Garcia Aguilera and other Cuban government critics in Madrid in 2019.

Garcia Aguilera at his home in Havana.

Vázquez González also said in the program that he was actually a double agent, reporting back to Cuban state security on Garcia Aguilera.

“What we are seeing in Yunior is the creation and performance of a counterrevolutionary,” Vázquez González said.

Garcia Aguilera confirmed the authenticity of the phone call and the conference but said they were misrepresented on TV. He denies receiving any funding from foreign governments or exile groups, and insists that he is pushing for democratic change from within Cuba using legal avenues.

In support of his plan to protest, Garcia Aguilera formed a group called Archipelago, which has over 31,000 followers on Facebook. Group members say they too are harassed for their activism, and complain of being followed by plainclothes state security agents and receiving threats by government officials.

Members also accuse Cuba’s state telecom provider of preventing Cubans from texting the word archipelago in Spanish or the date of their planned protest — a long-established censorship tactic on the island. CNN has independently confirmed the messaging block.

In October, Garcia Aguilera posted pictures on social media of the carcass and blood and feathers of a dead bird that were spread across the entrance to his apartment in the middle of the night — a gory scene that he understood as a warning to halt his activism.

He blamed the government for the vandalism, saying that police monitoring his house would have been aware of who was responsible. Cuban officials have not responded to his allegations of harassment.

On Monday, Garcia Aguilera’s wife also filmed neighbors carrying out a nighttime “acto de repudio” or “act of repudiation” — chanting government slogans at the couple’s doorstep and “warning” him to stop his activism.

Nevertheless, Garcia Aguilera and a handful of other protest organizers say they are intent on moving forward with their planned march. They say they want peaceful protesters arrested after demonstrations on July 11 to be released, more guarantees for individual freedoms and a lifting of official censorship.

View of empty streets in Havana, on September 1, 2020.

A dangerous time to protest

Speaking out against the island’s communist-run government carries even greater risks than usual, after the state was rattled by widespread protests in July, increased US economic sanctions and the implosion of their tourism industry during the pandemic.

According to the Cubalex group that monitors legal issues on the island, at least 1,175 Cubans were arrested following the July 11 protests when scores of people took to the streets to demand greater freedoms and economic conditions — the largest demonstration to take place in Cuba since the 1959 revolution.

While government officials said they targeted protestors who attacked police and looted stores, dozens of people said they were violently arrested for marching peacefully or merely filming the protests.

Cubans march in front of Havana’s Capitol during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana, on July 11, 2021.

Government officials insist that the island’s constitution grants Cubans the right to protest, but in practice, demonstrations are quickly broken up by police and government critics are accused of being “mercenaries” in the employ of Cuba’s Cold War nemesis, the United States.

“Having different opinions, including political ones, doesn’t constitute a crime,” said Rubén Remigio Ferro, the president of the Supreme People’s Court of Cuba, at a press conference in July shortly after the protests. “Thinking differently, questioning what’s going on, to demonstrate is not a crime.”

Those comments indicating an opening for some dissent are what inspired Garcia Aguilera and other members of the Archipelago group to apply to hold peaceful marches in various cities across the island, the playwright told CNN.

The Cuban government however has described the planned marches as a pretext invented by Cuban exiles and the US government that would lead to an invasion of Cuba “by the enemy.” It has announced island-wide military exercises for the same day.

“[The protest] promoters, their public projections and ties with subversive organizations or agencies financed by the US government have the open intention of changing the political system in our country,” Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said at a speech before the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party in October.

Already Cuba’s state-run media has broadcast images of militias training with AK-47’s and members of “Committee’s for the Defense of the Revolution” patrolling streets with metal batons.

Garcia Aguilera has since moved the proposed march from November 20 to November 15, although the Cuban government is unlikely to allow protestors to take part regardless of the date. He said the government’s overreaction to his proposed march has only proven his point.

“They have shown there’s no rule of law,” he said. “There’s no possibility for citizens to legally, peacefully and orderly show their dissent to those in power.”

With so much tension in the air, it’s unclear how many Cubans will join Garcia Aguilera’s call to protest but already the initiative threatens to further deteriorate frayed US and Cuban relations.

“The Cuban regime is failing to meet the people’s most basic needs. That includes food. That includes medicine. Now is a chance to listen to the Cuban people and to make a positive change,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said In October.

The Biden administration has warned the Cuban government that if it prevents the march from taking place, the island could face further economic sanctions.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/04/americas/cuba-protest-crackdown-intl-latam/index.html

14ymedio, November 2, 2021

A Brief Chronology of Disregard and Intolerance in Cuba

The Ladies in White is another group that has been repressed for decades for marching peacefully on Sundays. (EFE)

By Reinaldo Escobar

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, November 2, 2021 — The dictatorship’s most frequently recurring formula to impede or interfere with changes that do not align with their interests has been to incarcerate.

They’ve raised the bar in two ways: first, by presenting as apocalyptic the results of anything they consider a “return to the past,” and second, making those who dare to dissent pay disproportionately for “daring.”

The most recent expression of this authoritarian eagerness has been displayed in the aggressive response to the Movimiento San Isidro, the protesters of November 27 in front of the Ministry of Culture and the members of Archipiélago who intend to organize a peaceful march on November 15th.

However, those who comb their grey hairs and treasure their scars will recognize in these acts of power the same processes that have been practiced for the last 60 years. With only a superficial retelling of certain moments in which they’ve responded with excessive brutality to those who, in a civilized manner, submitted divergent proposals, including some from within the ranks who displayed their disagreement with the ways the revolutionary project was being carried out.

The list must begin with the resignation letter sent by Commander Huber Matos to Fidel Castro in mid-1959, which stated: “I do not wish to become an obstacle to the Revolution and I believe that having to choose between adapting and being cast aside, the honorable and revolutionary thing to do would be to leave.”

He was tried and sentenced to 20 years in jail. Fidel Castro, in his role as witness, declared that the principal offense of the accused was to malign the Revolution by describing it as communist. continue reading

In January of 1961, cameraman Orlando Jiménez Leal and editor Sabá Cabrera Infante presented a documentary titled PM (post meridian) where instead of showing the people as fired up and willing to die before the “imminent invasion of imperialism,” showed some from Havana as fun-loving — drinking beer and dancing rumba. [See also.]

Toward the end of June that same year, before the reactions that resulted in the censure of the documentary, Fidel Castro announced his so-called Palabras a los intellectuals [Words to the Intellectuals], where he consecrates in a single phrase not only the cultural politics of the country but also the intolerance to all possible discrepancies: ” Against the Revolution, no rights.” [See also.]

Between 1966 and 1968 a group of communists, led by Aníbal Escalante, who had served in the Popular Socialist Party and joined the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations, had the audacity to criticize the direction of the country, arguing, among other things, that the leaders of the 26th of July Movement were bourgeoise with plans to exit the Muscovite sphere of influence and return to the arms of Washington.

That phenomenon, named “microfracture”, ended with 35 of those implicated being tried. The most prominent figures received sentences of up to 15 years in prison.

In March of 1968, to confront the last vestiges of private property, the Revolutionary Offensive was decreed. Entrepreneurship, viewed as a remnant of the past, was punishable by confiscation of the means of employment and the prohibition of self-employment.

In October of 1968, poet Heberto Padilla won the Julián del Casal poetry prize sponsored by the Cuban Union of Writers and Artists (Uneac) for his book Fuera del Juego [Out of the Game]. The panel that awarded the prize stated that “its strength and what gave this book a revolutionary feel was, precisely, the fact that it was not apologetic, but rather critical, controversial, and essentially linked to the idea of the Revolution as the only possible solution to the problems the author obsessed over, which are those of the times we are living.”

The response to those disobedient verses was to add a prologue to the book that described it as counterrevolutionary. Padilla was subsequently jailed for 35 days and forced to provide a public retraction.  Later, he went into exile. His work is not studied in Cuban schools.

Few will remember those “democratization assemblies”, following the failure of the Ten Million Ton Harvest, during which citizens were asked to express their complaints without fear. Barely any data exist (there was no internet in 1970) of the workplace firings and the expulsion of university students which resulted from that unleashing of honesty, or better yet, naivete, in which some came to define the regime as an autocracy and others described the volunteerism and lack of citizen consultation as the worst of the worst.

The First National Congress on Education and Culture was held from the 23rd to the 30th of April 1971. This event launched what historians refer to as the Five Grey Years. They conducted a purge to eliminate from cultural centers all those who “appeared homosexual” or who displayed what they called “ideological weaknesses”. This resulted in the disappearance of Pensamiento Crítico [Critical Thinking] magazine, which provided an academic viewpoint, less orthodox than the practice of socialism. [See also.]

On the scale of intolerance, the well-known events of 1980 must be mentioned, when the state sponsored “acts of repudiation” against those who no longer wanted to partake in the experiment launched by the communists.

On June 13, 1991, Daniel Díaz Torres’s movie, Alice in Wondertown, premiered. That day, hundreds of militants from the Communist Party and the Union of Young Communists were mobilized to repudiate the screening of the film, which provided a sarcastic view of the absurd reality.

That same month a group of intellectuals published a document known as the Letter of the Ten, in which they demanded democratic changes and the release of prisoners of conscience.

The signatories of the declaration, Raúl Rivero, Manuel Díaz Martínez, Nancy Estrada, Lorenzo Fuentes, Bernardo Marquéz Ravelo, Manuel Granados, Fernando Velázquez Medina, Roberto Luque Escalona and Victor Manuel Serpa, were subjected to all kinds of reprisals and harassment.

Poet María Elena Cruz Varela, the author of the letter, was publicly accused of being a CIA agent for having created the dissident group Criterio Alternativo [Alternative Critique], which was branded “a small counterrevolutionary group”. Her house was raided and she was beaten and dragged out of her building and forced to, literally, swallow her documents. Cruz Varela was sentenced to two years in prison.

In February of 1992, Cuban writer Jesús Díaz participated in a public debate in Zurich with Uruguayan intellectual Eduardo Galeano. There, Díaz read a text titled Los anillos de la serpiente [The Serpent’s Rings], which caused profound displeasure among state media because, among other things, it questioned the motto of ’Socialism or Death’ pitched by Fidel Castro.

Jesús Díaz was expelled from the Cuban Union of Writers and Armando Hart,  the Minister of Culture at the time, distributed a pamphlet which accused him of having committed an enormous crime and included the following threat: “Laws do not allow the death sentence for your infamy; however the morality and ethics of Cuban culture will punish you more harshly.”

On September 8th, 1993, Cuba’s Conference of Bishops issued a message titled El amor todo lo espera [Love Hopes All Things], which was subsequently read in all Catholic churches and severely criticized the economic, social, and political situation in the country.

One columnist, who is sadly remembered, published an editorial titled El amor todo lo espera siempre que no venga de Caín [Love Hopes All Things, as Long as They Don’t Come from Cain] where he stated that Cuban bishops were “historic accomplices of all the nation’s enemies,” and that the pastoral message could be considered “a stab in the back, at the most difficult, decisive and heroic moment faced by the Cuban Revolution.”

In March 1996, during the plenary of the Party’s Central Committee Raúl Castro announced the decision to close the Centro de Estudios de Américas (CEA) [Study Center of the Americas], a Cuban center of ideas comprised basically of young researchers who had dared to mention novel ways to build socialism. They were accused of being “fifth columnists” and dispersed to different places of employment.

On June 19th, 1997, members of the Grupo de Trabajo de la Disidencia Interna [Internal Dissidence Working Group] published a document titled La patria es de todos [The Homeland Belongs to Everyone] in response to the scheduled Fifth Congress of Cuba’s Communist Party (PCC), where they were analyzing the main complaints of the population and developing recommendations. A month later, the signers of the document, Vladimiro RocaFélix Bonne, René Gómez, and Martha Beatriz Roque were detained and processed in summary trials. On May 5th, 2002 the last of them, Vladimiro Roca, was freed after serving close to five years in a maximum-security prison.

In May 2002, protected by Article 88 of the 1992 Constitution, Movimiento Cristiano Liberación [Christian Liberation Movement], led by Oswaldo Payá and supported by other opposition organizations, presented Project Varela as a legislative initiative endorsed and signed by more than 11,000 citizens. This proposal advocated for economic and political reforms.

The government’s response was to amend the Constitution of the Republic, creating the concept of the irrevocability of socialism. In March 2003, in the middle of what is now known as the Black Spring, 75 human rights activists were arrested, including 25 members of Project Varela; they were condemned to long prison sentences.

This extensive yet incomplete account succinctly includes only peaceful acts and their disproportionate responses between 1995 and 2003. Obviously missing are the many specific cases that demonstrate that these abuses of power are not exclusive to the present, but rather, practically habitual over the last six decades.

What occurred in the 18 years since is perhaps more well-known to those who today ask themselves what can be done to change things in Cuba. Among the most notable reprisals to those who have peacefully attempted to do something, several stand out: the permanent harassment of the Ladies in White, who base their struggle on the release of political prisoners, attacks of all kinds against Unión Patriótica de Cuba [Patriotic Union of Cuba] or any other opposition movement.

Arbitrary detentions, prohibitions on travel outside the country, even outside their own homes, confiscation of means of work, and threats of judicial procedures have also befallen bloggers and independent journalists, cultural activists, and defenders of human rights.

The political structure which today governs the country assumes continuity, for which it takes on the responsibility of all the abuses committed to date. The current victims, thrown into the same old sack of discredit as always, understand that there are no scruples that justify distancing themselves from those demonized yesterday. As the poet would say, “We are sewn by the same star.”

 Translated by: Silvia Suárez

https://translatingcuba.com/a-brief-chronology-of-disregard-and-intolerance-in-cuba/

The Hill, November 4, 2021

40 House Democrats vote against resolution supporting Cuban protesters

By Lexi Lonas – 11/04/21

© Getty Images

Forty House Democrats voted against a resolution on Wednesday that condemned the Cuban government and supported protesters in the country.

The resolution said it was focused on “expressing solidarity with Cuban citizens demonstrating peacefully for fundamental freedoms, condemning the Cuban regime’s acts of repression, and calling for the immediate release of arbitrarily detained Cuban citizens.”

The House passed the resolution in a 382-40 vote, with all 40 votes against it coming from Democrats. Three of the four “present” votes were from Democrats, with five lawmakers not voting.

The resolution condemned Cuba’s response to a massive anti-government protest that occurred over the summer, stemming from food shortages and the economic situation in the country.

Human Rights Watch found the Cuban government “systematically engaged in arbitrary detention, ill-treatment of detainees, and abuse-ridden criminal prosecutions in response to overwhelmingly peaceful anti-government protests in July 2021.”

The resolution also calls on the Cuban government to allow Cubans to peacefully protest on Nov. 15 when a group called Archipelago is planning to demonstrate over civil rights.

Yunior Garcia, leader of the Archipelago group, said prosecutors with the government held a meeting with him to discourage the protest and said there could be legal ramifications.

“We are not mercenaries, nor are we receiving orders from anyone,” Garcia said recently, according to Reuters. “We are openly demonstrating a difference of opinion.”

Many of the “no” votes Wednesday came from the Democrats from the party’s more progressive side.

Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.), one of the co-sponsors of the resolution, told NBC News that the rejection of the resolution by some Democrats shows “how extreme the leadership in the Democratic Party is.”

But Rep. Jim McGovern (Mass.), one of the Democrats who voted against the resolution, defended his vote, saying the measure failed to acknowledge “the role the U.S. plays in contributing to the suffering of ordinary Cubans.”

The resolution called on the Cuban government to release all political prisoners and to stop blocking access to the internet for its citizens.

It also urged the Biden administration to work with Cuban activists, rally international support, support protesters’ goals for freedom and “assess whether the United States can develop methods to allow remittances, medical supplies, and other forms of support from the United States to directly benefit the Cuban people.”

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/580187-40-house-democrats-vote-against-resolution-supporting-cuban-protesters

United States Congress, November 3, 2021

Introduced in House (11/01/2021)

117th CONGRESS
1st Session

H. RES. 760

Expressing solidarity with Cuban citizens demonstrating peacefully for fundamental freedoms, condemning the Cuban regime’s acts of repression, and calling for the immediate release of arbitrarily detained Cuban citizens.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

November 1, 2021

Ms. Wasserman Schultz (for herself, Mr. Diaz-Balart, and Mr. Sires) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

RESOLUTION

Expressing solidarity with Cuban citizens demonstrating peacefully for fundamental freedoms, condemning the Cuban regime’s acts of repression, and calling for the immediate release of arbitrarily detained Cuban citizens.

  • Whereas, on July 11, 2021, thousands of Cubans took to the streets to express their dissatisfaction with Cuba’s continued repression of its people, its worsening economic situation, and shortages of food and medicine;

  • Whereas these demonstrations were the largest protests on the island in over 25 years, with courageous Cuban men, women, and youth taking to the streets in cities and towns across the country;

  • Whereas the Cuban regime arbitrarily denied a request to allow a peaceful demonstration on November 15, 2021, which the organizers have specified would be “against violence, to demand that all the rights of all Cubans be respected, for the release of political prisoners and for the solution of our differences through democratic and peaceful means”;

  • Whereas the Cuban regime also denied an earlier request for protests to be held on November 20, 2021, stating that date was off-limits because it would conflict with “national defense day” and claiming without evidence that “subversive organizations” with links to the United States Government were promoting the protest;

  • Whereas artists, academics, activists, and journalists have been long engaged in ongoing protests calling for an end to Cuba’s persecution, censorship, arbitrary detention, and other human rights violations;

  • Whereas expanded internet access is foundational for the Cuban people to be able to exercise their internationally recognized human rights of access to information and freedom of expression, creating opportunities for Cubans to communicate more openly with one another and for their voices to be heard around the world;

  • Whereas numerous public reports and first-hand accounts revealed that the Cuban regime deliberately blocked access to certain websites and messaging apps, throttled internet access, and launched targeted attacks to disrupt the internet connections of private Cuban citizens;

  • Whereas during the July protests, regime security officials physically assaulted domestic and international journalists, including Associated Press correspondent Ramon Espinosa, and prevented dozens of reporters from leaving their homes to report on the protests, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists;

  • Whereas Cuba is among the most restrictive countries in the world for journalists, ranked 171 of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2021 World Press Freedom Index;

  • Whereas Cuban human rights groups report there were already at least 150 political prisoners in Cuba before the July 11 protests, and Cuba has reportedly been responsible for over 400 additional arrests or forced disappearances since then;

  • Whereas hundreds of Cubans who participated in the July protests continue to face unjust detention and other forms of retribution, including dozens who have been sentenced in summary trials without due process and dozens of others who remain unaccounted for;

  • Whereas United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressed concern about “the excessive force against demonstrators in Cuba and the arrest of a large number of people, including journalists” and noted “it is particularly worrying that these include individuals allegedly held incommunicado and people whose whereabouts are unknown”;

  • Whereas, on July 25, 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the foreign ministers of 20 countries issued a statement to “condemn the mass arrests and detentions of protestors in Cuba and call on the government to respect the universal rights and freedoms of the Cuban people, including the free flow of information to all Cubans”;

  • Whereas, on October 17, 2021, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian A. Nichols said “Denying the right of peaceful assembly to Cubans this November 15th shows the Cuban regime’s disregard for the human rights and freedoms of its people. This and other blatant attempts to intimidate their citizens is a clear sign the regime won’t listen to what Cubans have to say.”;

  • Whereas over the summer, Cuba has seen record numbers of COVID–19 infections and deaths, pushing hospitals and health centers to near collapse; and

  • Whereas basic medicines and common goods have become scarce throughout the country and economists estimate Cuba’s economic conditions will become even worse in the coming months: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) expresses strong solidarity with the Cuban people who took to the streets throughout the country on July 11, 2021, and with those who plan to peacefully demonstrate on November 15, 2021, to once again express their desire to live in a free country with self-determination;

(2) condemns the Cuban regime’s violent repression of peaceful protesters and journalists and its other efforts to restrict the Cuban people’s right to peacefully protest, freely express themselves, and exercise their other universal human rights;

(3) calls on Cuba to end all efforts to block or throttle the Cuban people’s internet access or restrict their access to certain websites or applications and to permit them to freely communicate online, including during future demonstrations and peaceful protests;

(4) calls on members of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, the Cuban Ministry of the Interior, and Cuba’s National Revolutionary Police Force to not arrest or detain peaceful protesters, provide due process to all individuals, and immediately release all political prisoners and arbitrarily detained individuals still in their custody; and

(5) urges the Biden administration to—

(A) work with Cuban activists, civil society groups, private United States companies, and the international community to expand internet access for the Cuban people;

(B) support the Cuban people’s inherent right to demonstrate peacefully in the name of democracy and human rights;

(C) continue to stand behind the aspirations of the Cuban people for freedom, for dignity, for prosperity, and the basic rights that they have been denied by the regime since 1959;

(D) assess whether the United States can develop methods to allow remittances, medical supplies, and other forms of support from the United States to directly benefit the Cuban people in ways that alleviate humanitarian suffering without providing United States dollars to the Cuban military; and

(E) rally the international community to join the United States in condemning human rights abuses and honoring the Cuban people’s demands for freedom.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-resolution/760/text

14ymedio, October 31, 2021

Cuban Rapper Maykel Osboro Ends Hunger and Thirst Strike in Prison

Maykel Osorbo himself (on the left) phoned El Funky (on the right) to tell him that he was ending the hunger and thirst strike. (Facebook / Archive)

14ymedio, Havana, 31 October 2021 — Rapper Maykel Castillo Osorbo ended the hunger and thirst strike that he started a few days ago at the Kilo Cinco y Medio prison, in Pinar del Río, where he has been since May 31. The curator Anamely Ramos, Osorbo’s partner and a member, like him, of the San Isidro Movement (MSI) reported this on her Facebook page this Saturday .

“He is weak but well,” writes Ramos, who says that Osorbo himself called Eliécer Márquez El Funky to break the news. “He wanted to notify us quickly so that people did not continue to worry. He knows they love him. That is his greatest pride,” says the curator.

The musician was arrested on May 18 and is accused of “attack,” “public disorder” and “evasion of prisoners or detainees” for some events that occurred on April 4, in a demonstration on Damas Street, headquarters of the opposition group, when the police tried to arbitrarily detain him but he refused to get on the patrol.

In her post, Anamely Ramos also mentioned the young Andy García Lorenzo, 23, imprisoned in Santa Clara, for whom the Prosecutor’s Office was asking for seven years in prison for demonstrating on July 11, and she reported that he was also on a hunger strike. “Yesterday I learned that Andy also ended the strike and that he was sentenced to seven years immediately afterward,” says Ramos. “You have to be very vile to do something like that. I think of the judges, the prosecutor, how do they lend themselves to something like that?”

“A person on strike has hit bottom, but it is a bottom that emerges with many convictions,” continues the curator and art historian. “Somehow this being on the edge connects you with the most essential and even with your deepest personal history. However, the bottom to which the Cuban regime falls more every day, is a bottom with no return, it is that of cruelty and shame, no chance of coming out again.”

And she asserts, referring to the Cuban government: “You are leaving. It cannot be otherwise. Those who are imprisoned will emerge. It cannot be otherwise.”

On October 26, the MSI expressed its “unconditional” support for the Archipiélago group and its Civic March for Change of November 15 (N15) which the regime has described as “illegal” and that it tries to boycott by daily discrediting its organizers in the official media.

Archipiélago, for its part, does not cease its civic initiatives for that day. This Saturday, the platform called for “the union of lawyers and legal professionals in Cuba” to get in touch with the group and help those who want to demonstrate on 15N.

“It is not necessary that they be in accordance with the values promoted by the March or with the ideals of the promoters,” they specify in a statement released on networks. “Our call is addressed to those who are willing to act by virtue of their profession, of objectivity, of justice, leaving aside political biases and prejudices.”

They call for legal specialists because “many people who participated in the 11J protests have had to confront the authorities without legal representation or minimal advice” since “various violations of respect for due process in prisons or prison units The country’s police officers have gone unpunished for lack of legal assistance. “

“Due to the spontaneous nature of those demonstrations, there was no prior coordination or timely assistance, everything had to be done on the spot. As a consequence, some results were obtained soon, others are still on the way and a large part of their identity is still unknown”, explains the platform, which leaves their data (cell phone for WhatsApp and Telegram: +34 644 19 21 22 and email: Apoyoarchipielago15N@gmail.com) for the lawyers to contact them.

In addition, on Friday Archipiélago launched the Polis page, an open source tool created to “horizontalize decision-making in the group and provide feedback taking into account the voices of all Cubans,” where opinions of all kinds can be gathered.

https://translatingcuba.com/cuban-rapper-maykel-osboro-ends-hunger-and-thirst-strike-in-prison/