CubaBrief: Havana sentenced 150+ innocent Cubans up to 30 yrs prison during Christmas. German jailed 25 yrs for filming 11J protests. Look back at misrule in Cuba.

The Christmas holidays in Cuba “coincided” with predetermined political “trials” of dissidents, arrested during the July 11-13, 2021 nonviolent protests across Cuba. U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, Brian Nichols, tweeted on Dec. 26: “150+ Cubans across the island face up to 25 yrs from sham trials between Dec 13–24. The Government of #Cuba must stop these unjust sentences for peaceful protests. We call for the immediate release of #11J protestors.” Below is the map with a breakdown of where the trials were held that the assistant secretary shared over social media.

Mary O’Grady in her January 2, 2022 column in The Wall Street Journal “No Justice for Cuba’s July 11 Protesters: The Havana regime used the Christmas holidays to issue prison sentences of up to 30 years,” provided a hypothesis on the timing of the proceedings.

“Note the timing. With the international press largely off on holiday, the second half of December was an ideal moment to lock up dissidents and throw away the key. The harsh penalties are meant as a warning to Cubans about what happens to nonconformists.”

German tourist and dual citizen, Luis Frómeta Compte, was sentenced to 25 years in prison on December 23, 2021 for spontaneously filming a demonstration in Havana for private purposes with his smartphone while visiting relatives and was subsequently arrested. According to the Frankfurt arm of the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR), “the Dresden family man is one of about two thousand demonstrators arrested on July 11 during protests against the dictatorship.” ISHR strongly criticized the long prison sentence and pointed out that, in the meantime, the 59-year-old’s brother-in-law is also in pre-trial detention.

“By imposing such a heavy prison sentence on a dual national, the Cuban government shows that it makes no distinction between locals and foreign nationals. It is rigorously cracking down on anyone who is a thorn in their side. Luis Frómeta Compte has done nothing wrong, yet he now faces 25 years in prison. This is a scandal and a hard blow for his family just before Christmas. We demand the immediate release of Luis Frómeta Compte, his brother-in-law and all political prisoners in Cuba,” says Martin Lessenthin, spokesman of the board of ISHR, Germany section.

Luis Frómeta Compte has both German and Cuban citizenship, and he has been living in Germany since 1985. Despite this, Havana still refuses to permit consular assistance by the German embassy in Havana. His daughters, who live in Germany, are in disbelief and shocked by the verdict, as they tell ISHR: “It hurts immensely and I have no words to express my feelings. We can’t lose strength now and somehow have to stay strong for dad, even though it’s really taking a lot of our strength right now. One day before Christmas, I just feel endless sadness; it’s so incredibly hard, ” said Janie Frómeta.

Luis Frometa Compte with his two daughters Janie (left) and Maria.

For the second year in a row Cuban artists and activists made Hyperallergic’s The 20 Most Powerless People in the Art World “which highlights those who are rendered powerless in a system unduly influenced by the super-rich and the institutions and businesses that serve them.”

“Emblematic cases involve artist and vocal dissident Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who was detained on his way to the demonstrations and later transferred to the Guanajay maximum security prison, where he remains five months later; and Hamlet Lavastida, imprisoned in Havana for three months, who was forcibly exiled along with writer Katherine Bisquet. As the Havana Biennial neared, artist Tania Bruguera called for a boycott, and many curators, artists, and writers withdrew from the show. But hundreds of peaceful activists, among them youth under 18, still remain behind bars and facing prison sentences simply for thinking differently.”

Nevertheless, artists continue to make art condemning the Cuban dictatorship. Rapper Michael Marichal premiered his song “Tu Revolucion” (Your Revolution) on December 31, 2021. Marichal, a native of Caibarien, Villa Clara, and a New York resident, recorded his single, produced by Asere Music, for the collective album La Resistencia Vol. 2.

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet

The Washington Examiner published Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet’s OpEd 63 years of oppression and misrule in Cubaon January 3, 2022 in which he “marked 63 years since the communist usurpation of Cuba — 63 years of unfettered totalitarian control by the Castro brothers, their henchmen, and successors over nearly every aspect of their subjects’ lives.” Dr. Biscet, a former prisoner of conscience, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, examines the Castro regime’s six decades in power.

“It is sometimes said that the most basic measurement of a nation’s health is whether, when given the opportunity, people clamor to enter it or risk their lives to escape from it. By that standard, Cuba has been an abject failure since the communists took over. “

He also addresses the claim made by the regime and its apologists that Cuba’s difficulties are due to sanctions targeting the dictatorship.

“Cuban officials and the state-run media blame the U.S. trade embargo for all the ills of Cuban society. Recently, Diaz-Canel blamed the embargo — which he referred to as ‘genocidal’ — for the conditions that led to the July 11 protests.” … “But inside Cuba, the practice of blaming the embargo has become something of a joke among ordinary people. If someone doesn’t show up for work or is late to an appointment, he or she may say in jest that the embargo or blockade (‘el bloqueo’) delayed them. In short, Cubans don’t buy it.”… “One reason is that America’s trade embargo against Cuba has many exceptions, including for food, medicine, medical supplies, agricultural goods, and humanitarian supplies. And there are numerous other exceptions as well. For instance, Cuba imported more than $120 million worth of U.S. chicken in the first six months of 2021. Moreover, Cuba is free to trade with the world’s 193 other countries and does so extensively. Spain and Italy are major trade partners, and Cuba has developed strong commercial ties with the rogue regimes that control China, Russia, and Venezuela.”

Former Center for a Free Cuba executive director Frank Calzon looked back at events in Cuba over 2021 and called it an annus horribilis for the Castro regime and listed the reasons for this appraisal in Havana Times on December 30, 2021. and it is a must read.


Hyperallergic, January 4, 2022

Art

The 20 Most Powerless People in the Art World: 2021 Edition

Welcome to our annual list which highlights those who are rendered powerless in a system unduly influenced by the super-rich and the institutions and businesses that serve them.

by Hyperallergic

2021 was clearly a mashup (artwork by Valentina Di Liscia/Hyperallergic)

It’s been a rough year, but some people had it tougher than others.

Every year we create this list to highlight those who are rendered powerless in a system impacted by the outsized influence of the super wealthy, not to mention the commercial galleries and vanity museums that serve them. We call it the Powerless 20.

The individuals, communities, and other items on this list represent powerful ideas and heroic struggles for freedom and equality that one day will prevail over this unjust system. In keeping with our tradition, we allowed ourselves a tinge of humor, which we believe is integral to resilience.

And as we always say, here’s to hoping you’re not on it.

[…]

13. Cuban Artists and Activists, Again — The group makes the list for the second year in a row as the Cuban government only tightened its crackdown on creatives in 2021. Food and medicine shortages and poor living conditions made worse by the pandemic led to the largest protests on the island in nearly three decades, and many of those who participated were arbitrarily detained and persecuted. Emblematic cases involve artist and vocal dissident Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who was detained on his way to the demonstrations and later transferred to the Guanajay maximum security prison, where he remains five months later; and Hamlet Lavastida, imprisoned in Havana for three months, who was forcibly exiled along with writer Katherine Bisquet. As the Havana Biennial neared, artist Tania Bruguera called for a boycott, and many curators, artists, and writers withdrew from the show. But hundreds of peaceful activists, among them youth under 18, still remain behind bars and facing prison sentences simply for thinking differently.

[ Full article ]

Washington Examiner, January 3, 2022

63 years of oppression and misrule in Cuba

by Dr. Oscar Biscet | January 03, 2022 12:01 AM

HAVANA, Cuba — Saturday marked 63 years since the communist usurpation of Cuba — 63 years of unfettered totalitarian control by the Castro brothers, their henchmen, and successors over nearly every aspect of their subjects’ lives.

The government refers to the anniversary of its 1959 victory as “Triumph of the revolution” or “Liberation Day.” But those titles are deeply misleading. The revolution has been anything but a triumph for my nation. And instead of liberating the Cuban people, the communist regime has forced them to live as prisoners on a prison island.

This past weekend’s festivities included the usual long-winded speeches by government officials and regime-induced celebratory activities in public squares across the country. But these outward expressions of success belie the reality of a nation that’s rotting on the inside after decades of economic stagnation, political subjugation, and spiritual and intellectual despair.

It is sometimes said that the most basic measurement of a nation’s health is whether, when given the opportunity, people clamor to enter it or risk their lives to escape from it. By that standard, Cuba has been an abject failure since the communists took over.

Millions have fled Cuba since the revolution, and many thousands have died trying to make the perilous journey to Florida through treacherous, shark-infested waters, often in flimsy rustic rafts.

[ Full article ]

The Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2022

No Justice for Cuba’s July 11 Protesters

The Havana regime used the Christmas holidays to issue prison sentences of up to 30 years.

A protester is arrested during a demonstration in Havana, July 11, 2021. Photo: adalberto roque/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

By Mary Anastasia O’Grady

While Americans were last-minute gift shopping on Christmas Eve, Luis Aguilar Rivera was uploading a lamentation from Havana on YouTube.

The day before, the Cuban military dictatorship had handed Mr. Aguilar Rivera’s 21-year-old son—who reportedly has cognitive issues—a 22-year prison sentence for his participation in the antigovernment protests of July 11-13. “It seems incredible that in this country, where it is said that the people come first, this is happening. It cannot be,” Mr. Aguilar Rivera insisted on the video.

It can be and it is—though not without the use of legendary Soviet coercion still practiced in Cuba, as Mr. Aguilar Rivera explained in his YouTube post. “I have official testimonies that the judge who handed down the sentence started crying when everyone left.” He added: “He knows the great injustice that is being committed.”

The Aguilar Riveras are part of something much bigger than one case, as U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, Brian Nichols, tweeted on Dec. 26: “150+ Cubans across the island face up to 25 yrs from sham trials between Dec 13–24. The Government of #Cuba must stop these unjust sentences for peaceful protests. We call for the immediate release of #11J protestors.”

[ Full article ]


Havana Times, December 30, 2021

Cuba 2021: a Tragic Year and an Uncertain Future

December 30, 2021

Photo by Juan Suarez

By Frank Calzon*

HAVANA TIMES – If the people who mis-govern Cuba from the Plaza de la Revolucion were to sum up the year 2021, they might well use the phrase of Queen Elizabeth when she branded 1992 as annus horribilis because of a fire that destroyed much of Windsor Castle, its historical documents, tapestries, and valuable pieces of art.

It is impossible to analyze what happened in Cuba in 2021 without taking into account the following:

1. “The dog that did not bark.” Despite many predictions, Joe Biden did not ease the sanctions imposed on the Castroite regime by the previous administration. On the contrary, he branded Cuba’s rulers as “oppressors” because they pocket the remittances that Cuban Americans send to relatives on the island. The US president also announced he’s looking for ways to make sure the money reaches Cubans directly.

2. Tens of thousands of Cubans – men and women, whites and blacks, young and old – protested peacefully on July 11 on streets throughout the island. The streets are no longer only “just for revolutionaries,” in the shameful phrase of the late Fidel Castro. As the song Patria y Vida says, “Who told you that Cuba belongs to you? My Cuba belongs to everyone.”

3. As a result of the increased repression, many international organizations and democratic governments called on Havana to free all political prisoners. They include teenagers sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for daring to peacefully defend rights that appear in Cuba’s “socialist constitution.”

[ Full article ]

German citizen Luis Frómeta Compte has been sentenced to 25 years in prison in Cuba. The charges were “agitation of public nuisance” and “incitement to riot”. His only crime is to record the protests that occurred in July 2021 with his smartphone.

Cuba: German sentenced to 25 years in prison

ISHR criticizes sentence of Luis Frómeta Compte, who filmed July protests with smartphone

Luis Frómeta Compte

Dresden/Frankfurt am Main/Havana, December 24, 2021 – Bad news just before Christmas Eve: as reported by the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR), German citizen Luis Frómeta Compte has been sentenced to 25 years in prison in Cuba. The charges were “agitation of public nuisance” and “incitement to riot.” The Dresden family man is one of about two thousand demonstrators arrested on July 11 during protests against the dictatorship. While visiting relatives, he had spontaneously filmed a demonstration in Havana for private purposes with his smartphone and was subsequently arrested.

ISHR strongly criticizes the long prison sentence and points out that, in the meantime, the 59-year-old’s brother-in-law is also in pre-trial detention. Luis Frómeta Compte’s lawyer will appeal.

“By imposing such a heavy prison sentence on a dual national, the Cuban government shows that it makes no distinction between locals and foreign nationals. It is rigorously cracking down on anyone who is a thorn in their side. Luis Frómeta Compte has done nothing wrong, yet he now faces 25 years in prison. This is a scandal and a hard blow for his family just before Christmas. We demand the immediate release of Luis Frómeta Compte, his brother-in-law and all political prisoners in Cuba,” says Martin Lessenthin, spokesman of the board of ISHR, Germany section.

Daughters living in Germany are shocked and saddened

Luis Frómeta Compte has both German and Cuban citizenship, and his whole life has been in Germany since 1985. Despite this, the Cuban regime still refuses to provide consular assistance through the German embassy in Havana. His daughters, who live in Germany, are in disbelief and shocked by the verdict, as they tell ISHR: “It hurts immensely and I have no words to express my feelings. We can’t lose strength now and somehow have to stay strong for dad, even though it’s really taking a lot of our strength right now. One day before Christmas I just feel endless sadness, it’s so incredibly hard,” said Janie Frómeta.

Luis Frometa Compte with his two daughters Janie (left) and Maria.

Source: https://ishr.org/cuba-german-sentenced-to-25-years-in-prison/