CubaBrief: Cubans violently attacked for demanding protesters freedom. Wife described armed assault by govt paramilitaries on her home. Cubans three options.

“On July 11th, 2021, thousands of Cubans at various points throughout the Island participated in the largest act of rebellion in the history of the country. Not against the colony, nor against the dictatorships of Gerardo Machado or Fulgencio Batista, did this many people take to the streets on a single day to protest, to demand freedom and rights,” observed Cuban independent journalist Reinaldo Escobar in his January 29th article in 14ymedio.

The price for this large scale act of defiance is still being paid in political show trials across the island.

On January 31, 2022 the NGO CubaLex reported over social media that “the Internet was cut off for mobile data in the municipality of October 10, at least in the vicinity of the court. Today the protesters continue to be placed on trial, there are six minors among them. Let’s be vigilant.” Thirty three protesters were charged with sedition, and six of them under 18 years of age subjected to these politicized proceedings.

Family members of the 33 facing long prison terms, and human rights activists gathered nearby at the Juan Delgado Park and held a nonviolent protest that was quashed by the political police and a rapid response brigade. Witnesses said that all the participants were beaten up and taken to the police.

Cubalex at 7:39pm over social media reported that Cuban officials had “violently detained women: mothers, aunts, sisters, grandmothers who were in the vicinity of the court. Cubalex listed the following activists arrested: Camila Rodríguez, Carolina Barrero, Tata Poet, Daniela Rojo and students arrested: Leonardo Romero Negrín, Alexander Hall They also arrested relatives Yudinela Castro, Yesenia Diaz and the entire family of Duanis, including the 18-year-old sister and the 60-year-old grandmother. Yunaiky’s relatives were released because the grandmother fainted, reported Cubalex.

Mackyani Yosney Román Rodríguez (HRW)

Patrick Oppmann, is the long time CNN correspondent in Havana, and to remain in Cuba requires being “flexible” with regime demands on coverage. Nevertheless, his most recent report provides important information on the plight of 11J cuban political prisoners.

In a brief phone call from El Guatao, the women’s prison in Havana where she is being held, protestor Mackyani Yosney Román Rodríguez decried the “awful” conditions of her incarceration. Román said she was arrested in July after clashes with police, whom she blamed for causing the violence in the working-class Havana neighborhood of La Guïnera where she lived. “It was terrible, the police arrived and just started shooting,” she said. Román, 24, said she is charged with a long list of crimes, including sedition, and faces 25 years in jail. Two of her brothers also face lengthy prison sentences for allegedly taking part in the protests, she said.

Daniel Joel Cárdenas Díaz, a husband and father of two, also took part in the July 11, 2021 protests. His wife managed to record what happened next.

“Two days later, after police had quelled the protests across much of the island, [Marbelis Vázquez Hernández] said that police and Cuban “black beret” special forces appeared outside the couple’s home and began battering down the door. Vázquez managed to record two brief videos with her phone as police forced their way into the home, guns drawn. She says she hid the phone between her legs to keep it from being taken and sheltered with her young children as police fired at her husband. She said that one of the rounds grazed the back of his head. ‘When I saw him on the floor they were hitting him with a baton,” she said. “He was hurt on the floor covered in blood, in a huge pool of blood. I thought he was dead.’ While the video Vazquez took shows a pool of blood on the floor of her home, CNN was not able to independently confirm the extent of her husband’s injuries.In a third video taken after police took her husband away, Vázquez shows the blood on the floor and cries to her neighbors who have gathered at her front door, ‘They have destroyed my house!'”

Marbelis Vázquez Hernández, Daniel Joel Cárdenas Díaz and their two young children.

Cuban independent journalist Reinaldo Escobar in an essay published in Havana on January 29th, 2022 in 14ymedio reveals that Cubans who live on the island subject to the Castro dictatorship have only three options: “obedience, escape, or rebellion.” Escobar offers an outline of each, and concludes with the costs to be paid for assuming each one of the three available options.

“The price of obedience is the surrender of oneself. The prize, the peace of not ending up in jail, and the security of counting on the assigned quota of misery.”

“The price [of escape] is being uprooted, referring to metaphorical cultural, spiritual, familial roots which ground an individual to a place. The prize, if one arrives, are the fruits: the tangible fruits obtained through one’s own efforts.”

“The price of rebellion during the last 63 years has been high: executions, long prison sentences, attacks on your reputation, prohibitions on leaving the country, the impossibility of practicing your profession. The prize is reduced, for the moment, to the satisfaction of knowing that you are doing what is correct.”

This Castro regime’s model of repression has been expanded to Venezuela, and Nicaragua, and threatens to expand elsewhere. Over the past twenty years both Russia and China have been aiding in this effort.

Mary Anastasia O’Grady in her January 30, 2022 column “Putin Is Already in Cuba and Venezuela: Now Russia and China are helping Maduro militarize the Colombian border,” reveals the fact that the Russians are already embedded in Latin America, together with China, in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, and are now threatening the sovereignty of Colombia.


CNN, January 31, 2022

They dared to protest last July. Now these Cubans are facing years in jail

By Patrick Oppmann, CNN

Wife of arrested Cuban protestor: All they asked for was liberty 03:12

Cárdenas, Cuba (CNN) — Days before protests swept across Cuba last July, Marbelis Vázquez Hernández felt that the island was at a breaking point.

Like so many other businesses, the small cafeteria she and her husband ran was shuttered because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Worsening food and medicine shortages had left many store shelves in Cuba completely bare. The government’s adoption of a plan to upend Cuba’s dual currency system meant those without access to remittances from abroad were at an even greater disadvantage.

“There was no medicine, nothing. And on top of that they sell everything in a currency that most Cubans don’t have,” Vázquez said referencing the new Freely Convertible Currency, or MLC, a currency which comes on prepaid cards.

“I lived next to a store where they sell things in hard currency and I can’t even go buy a lollipop for my kids. Everyone was in great need.”

Increasingly desperate and connected via mobile networks, Cubans organized their first protests in San Antonio de los Baños on July 11 in protest of power outages in the midst of the sweltering summer heat following months of frustration over shortages and pandemic-related restrictions. Quickly the protests spread across the island, with Cubans openly defying the communist-run government — which blames Cuba’s economic woes on US sanctions — in a way not seen since the 1959 revolution.

Cubans demonstrate in rare protests in Havana on July 11, 2021.

In the city of Cárdenas, a two-hour drive east of Havana, where Vázquez lives, hundreds poured onto the streets to denounce the chronic shortages and a lack of freedoms. One of them was Vázquez’s husband, Daniel Joel Cárdenas Díaz.

Vázquez said her husband took part in the protests outside a state-owned gas station near their home, but was too afraid to enter the store where police say looting took place. When police arrived and began clashing with demonstrators, Vazquez said her husband retreated back to the home they shared with their two-year old twin boy and girl.

“I even said, ‘You didn’t grab anything for the kids — not even a snack?'” she said.

Two days later, after police had quelled the protests across much of the island, Vázquez said that police and Cuban “black beret” special forces appeared outside the couple’s home and began battering down the door.

Vázquez managed to record two brief videos with her phone as police forced their way into the home, guns drawn. She says she hid the phone between her legs to keep it from being taken and sheltered with her young children as police fired at her husband. She said that one of the rounds grazed the back of his head.

“When I saw him on the floor they were hitting him with a baton,” she said. “He was hurt on the floor covered in blood, in a huge pool of blood. I thought he was dead.”

While the video Vazquez took shows a pool of blood on the floor of her home, CNN was not able to independently confirm the extent of her husband’s injuries.

In a third video taken after police took her husband away, Vázquez shows the blood on the floor and cries to her neighbors who have gathered at her front door, “They have destroyed my house!”

Vázquez said she believes police raided their house as a case of mistaken identity. She said that police first accused her husband of helping to overturn a car in front of the headquarters of the city’s communist party.

Vazquez said her husband was not involved with that incident.

CNN has reached out to the government for comment.

Vázquez’s husband Daniel Joel Cárdenas Díaz, seen here with their two children.

After the harrowing video Vázquez took was aired by the international press, Cuban-state run media released images of Cárdenas being calmly being questioned by police to refute what they called “fake news” reports that he had been critically wounded. The national news program also showed security camera video that state media said showed Cárdenas outside the gas station after it had been damaged.

In December, Cárdenas was tried and convicted of sabotage and public disorder. He now faces a 15-year sentence in prison, Vázquez said.

“These people didn’t kill anyone, they didn’t put bombs,” Vázquez said. “They threw rocks and asked for liberty, that was all. And they are being sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.”

According to a statement released by Cuban prosecutors, 790 people have been charged for their involvement in the protests, with 172 people already convicted. The trials are likely the largest mass trials to take place in Cuba since Fidel Castro took power in 1959 and presided over televised trials of hundreds of officials of the deposed Batista regime.

Despite widespread calls for amnesty for the July protesters, the government has vowed to harshly punish those who took part in the spontaneous uprising.

“It has been corresponded to us to judge those who, acting as pawns of the subversive onslaught and attempted destabilization by the enemies of the revolution, have committed vandalism (and) violent aggression against authorities and officials,” Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz said at a government ceremony in January attended by the Minister of Justice, judges and other high-ranking officials, according to the state-run media.

But human rights observers say many of the accused protestors have not had adequate access to lawyers or been able to mount a defense as they face decades-long prison sentences.

“This is a level of massive, systematic criminalization of demonstrators that we have very rarely seen in Latin America in recent decades,” Juan Pappier, a senior Americas researcher at Human Rights Watch, told CNN. “It’s very clear the message the Cuban government is trying to convey is that what happened in July is absolutely forbidden and cannot happen again.”

In a brief phone call from El Guatao, the women’s prison in Havana where she is being held, protestor Mackyani Yosney Román Rodríguez decried the “awful” conditions of her incarceration.

Román said she was arrested in July after clashes with police, whom she blamed for causing the violence in the working-class Havana neighborhood of La Guïnera where she lived.

“It was terrible, the police arrived and just started shooting,” she said.

Román, 24, said she is charged with a long list of crimes, including sedition, and faces 25 years in jail. Two of her brothers also face lengthy prison sentences for allegedly taking part in the protests, she said.

CNN has reached out to the government for comment.

The protests — and now the trials of hundreds of protestors — mark a before and after in the island’s history for many Cubans.

Some of the protesters’ family members say regardless of the mass trials and harsh sentences, anti-government resentment will continue to simmer.

Marbelis Vázquez Hernández, pictured at her home in Cárdenas last week.

“When will our kids see him again? When they are adults,” Marbelis Vázquez Hernández said from her new house, a simple structure made from cement blocks on a rough, dirt road that she moved to with her children following her husband’s arrest.

She said she was too traumatized by seeing police beat her husband to remain in their old home. Even though it seems likely her husband will spend years in jail, Vázquez said she will appeal his case and continue to advocate for his release. She says she will not be intimidated by the government’s campaign against the protesters.

“I am not afraid, they have made me stronger,” she said.

https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/31/americas/cuba-protesters-mass-trials-intl-latam/index.html


The Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2022

Opinion

The Americas

Putin Is Already in Cuba and Venezuela

Now Russia and China are helping Maduro militarize the Colombian border.

By Mary Anastasia O’Grady

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a ceremony marking the opening of the new court term in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 27. Photo: LEONARDO FERNANDEZ VILORIA/REUTERS

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned in a Jan. 13 television interview that his government wouldn’t rule out the deployment of “military assets” to Venezuela and Cuba if the U.S. continues to defend Ukrainian sovereignty. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan dismissed the comment as “bluster.”

Pundits—responding as the Kremlin no doubt had hoped—briefly suggested the risk of a 1962 Cuban missile crisis redux. That was dumb, and Mr. Sullivan was right to treat the remark as a distraction.

Yet if the Biden administration meant to suggest that there’s no reason to worry about Russian aggression in the Western Hemisphere, it isn’t being straight with the American people. Russia has slowly been sinking its teeth into the region for decades and the West has said nothing. So has China. The issue deserves more attention.

[ Full article ]

https://www.wsj.com/articles/putin-is-already-in-cuba-and-venezuela-south-america-influence-western-hemisphere-ukraine-11643567547

Translating Cuba, January 30, 2022

The Three Options of a Cuban: Obedience, Escape or Rebellion

On July 11th, 2021 thousands of Cubans at various points throughout the Island participated in the largest act of rebellion in the history of the country. (14ymedio)

By Reinaldo Escobar

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, January 29th, 2022 — To say it poorly and quickly, for a Cuban who lives on the island subject to the current dictatorship, only three options remain: obedience, escape, or rebellion.

Obedience

Obedience can be taken on consciously, accepted for fear of the consequences of rebelling, or mimicked to create a space for escape.

Those who consciously accept it are the ones who possess a militancy based on their convictions. They act as soldiers, convinced that “the boss’s orders embody a mandate of the Homeland,” believing that those who occupy those very high positions are enlightened bearers of a solid political foundation and grantors of all the elements necessary to make the decisions; elements which can not always be divulged because discretion is a weapon of war and the enemy must not know everything.

Those who obey out of fear have come to the conviction that any rebellion is useless because it would be mercilessly quashed, whereas they view the crumbs offered to them as an advantage. Their low self-esteem leads them to believe (with or without reason) that they would not be capable of surviving or prospering in the competitive society to which they could escape.

The mimics are difficult to identify, because they can far exceed the displays of enthusiasm and “revolutionary fervor” of those who are genuinely convinced. You see them at the reaffirmation marches waving little flags and smiling for the cameras; applauding, praising, raising their hands to approve whatever is proposed, and, if necessary, wielding a club to confront opponents. Until their visa is approved and they gather enough money for a ticket.

The price of obedience is the surrender of oneself. The prize, the peace of not ending up in jail, and the security of counting on the assigned quota of misery.

Escape

It is difficult to calculate the exact number of Cubans who have chosen this option. To know it would require adding those who already have a residency, even citizenship in another point on the planet; those who live outside the country but return to “punch the card” before the 24 months required by law for them not to be considered emigrants, and sadly, those who rest at the bottom of the sea in the cemetery in the Florida Straits.

The decision to emigrate is not as dramatic today as it was in the half-century during which the concept of “definite departure” was in force, although black lists still exist to deny entry to those who are “inconvenient” or to sanction for several years those who are considered “deserters.”

“Traitors will not return here,” pounded the hymn of the National Revolutionary Militias in 1960, when everyone who “abandoned the country” was considered an enemy. Two decades later, in the midst of the Mariel stampede, they were described as scum. “We don’t want them, we don’t need them,” argued the commander.

When it was discovered that money could flow from abroad, the discourse changed in an attempt to depoliticize emigration. The so-called “economic motives” as a reason for escaping were used similarly by authorities to portray a normal country and by some emigrants who didn’t want “to look for problems.”

There have been many forms of escape: risking one’s life at sea or in the jungle; asking family members to legally sponsor loved ones who remained on the Island; staying behind while on an official mission, a cultural event, sports competition; requesting humanitarian refuge. The thing is to leave.

The price paid for this option is being uprooted, referring to metaphorical cultural, spiritual, familial roots which ground an individual to a place. The prize, if one arrives, are the fruits: the tangible fruits obtained through one’s own efforts.

Rebellion

When a person respects himself, he is not in a position to obey that which is unacceptable to him. That is the case of children who confront the absurd imposition of authoritarian parents; women who break up with their abusive husbands; a worker who encourages a strike to force the employer to increase salaries or improve work conditions, and the citizen unsatisfied with his/her government.

In countries not governed by a dictatorship, citizens are not forced to escape their country because they have, through their vote at the polls, a civilized alternative to change things. Furthermore, they have the right to rebel, expressed in the sacred right to take to the streets and protest, appealing to a degree of violence that, from the ethical point of view, is acceptable if they do not manage to be heard by peaceful means.

Rebellion has a history in Cuba. But there is no space to tell the story the whole world knows. The latest dictatorship in our history (hopefully the last) is also the longest-serving and the one that has produced the most victims.

Rebels in the mountains, armed explorers, terrorists, conspirators of all kinds were active in the 1960s. The options of peaceful resistance appeared later, defenders of human rights, political party organizers, civil society activists, independent journalists. Rebels, all of them.

On July 11th, 2021, thousands of Cubans at various points throughout the Island participated in the largest act of rebellion in the history of the country. Not against the colony, nor against the dictatorships of Gerardo Machado or Fulgencio Batista, did this many people take to the streets on a single day to protest, to demand freedom and rights.

They were the ones who refused to continue obeying, the ones who wanted to change the country, not to change countries.

The price of rebellion during the last 63 years has been high: executions, long prison sentences, attacks on your reputation, prohibitions on leaving the country, the impossibility of practicing your profession. The prize is reduced, for the moment, to the satisfaction of knowing that you are doing what is correct.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

https://translatingcuba.com/the-three-options-of-a-cuban-obedience-escape-or-rebellion/