CubaBrief: Special edition for International Human Rights Day

On International Human Rights Day, the Center for a Free Cuba hosted a virtual meeting with three generations of Cuban human rights defenders to observe Cuba’s human rights legacy, and how to recover it. The Center also continues to gather signatures advocating for the expulsion of Cuba from the UN Human Rights Council.

Rosa Leonor Whitmarsh y Dueñas was born in the El Vedado quarter of Havana in the Republic of Cuba on May 9, 1930. She grew up in Cuba’s Republic, lived its democratic high watermark between 1940 and 1952, and remembered the role played by Cuba in the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sebastián Arcos Cazabón was born thirty one years later in 1961 in Havana, and spent the first three decades of his life growing up in the Castro regime. Carolina Borrero and Yoel Suarez were both born in Cuba, a generation later. This is a conversation that gives insights into the human rights situation in Cuba, and the legacy of the democratic Cuba that fought for the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Art Review unveiled their Power 100, and the San Isidro Movement / 27N moved up in their listing from 88 in 2021 to 67 in 2022. The publication explained the reason for the strengthened position: “Power takes strange forms, and on the face of it, imprisonment and exile should render an individual powerless. For Cuban artists like Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Hamlet Lavastida, their repression at the hands of the state has catalysed collective action.”

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara is jailed and Hamlet Lavastida forcibly exiled.

BabaluBlog published a blog entry to observe International Human Rights Day that this CubaBrief is sharing that highlights both a statement put out by President Biden calling for the release of Cuba’s political prisoners, and the Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter’s entry contrasting Cuba’s pre-Castro human rights legacy with the repressive  regime that exists today.

The full White House statement is reproduced below, together with a statement put out by the office of  Senator Rick Scott explaining how he had spent months urging President Biden to issue a statement requesting the release of Cuban political prisoners, and that it was finally done on the eve of International Human Rights Day.

While we are grateful for the President’s statement we remain troubled by the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba’s official reference to the October 28, 2022 Bahia Honda massacre as an “accident” repeating the Castro regime’s official narrative. It has yet to be retracted, despite the mounting evidence that it was a premeditated killing of fleeing refugees, of which Havana has a long and well documented track record.

Art Review, December 10, 2022

Power 100

Most influential people in 2022 in the contemporary artworld

67

San Isidro Movement / 27N

Artist Collective – Artists and intellectuals protest the crackdown on artistic freedom in Cuba

88 in 2021

Power takes strange forms, and on the face of it, imprisonment and exile should render an individual powerless. For Cuban artists like Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Hamlet Lavastida, their repression at the hands of the state has catalysed collective action. When in 2018 the authorities in Havana announced a new law designed to silence artists, Decree 349, Alcántara became the figurehead of the San Isidro Movement, named after a neighbourhood of the city. For this he has been repeatedly persecuted, and having been on hunger strike in prison without trial, this year he was sentenced to five years for the crime of ‘insulting national symbols’. The prosecution cited a series of Alcántara’s artworks featuring the county’s flag. While Alcántara is one of more than 700 people currently imprisoned over the four-year-old protest, Lavastida, a member of the 27N collective, is one of the many more now living outside the country, winning an Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award.


https://artreview.com/artist/san-isidro-movement-27n/?year=2022


BabaluBlog, December 10, 2022

International Human Rights Day

December 10, 2022 by Alberto de la Cruz

Today, December 10th, is International Human Rights Day, a day to remember all those who are living under tyranny and oppression. All over the world today, there are billions of people who are currently living as slaves and victims of totalitarian regimes, deprived of their rights and freedom.

For Cubans, both on the island and in exile, it is a day to remind the world how they have been denied their human rights for more than six decades by the communist Castro dictatorship. For the most part, the international community has chosen to look the other way and any attention paid to the human rights violations taking place in Cuba is rare and short-lived.

Nevertheless, we are pleased to see the White House took this occasion to call attention to the hundreds (if not thousands) of political prisoners rotting in Cuba’s gulags:

As we look forward to honoring Human Rights Day this Saturday, December 10th, I once again call for the release of the hundreds of political prisoners in Cuba who remain in detention following the July 11, 2021 protests. In the face of oppression, these protestors bravely exercised their fundamental freedoms, including the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The United States stands with the Cuban people as they stand up for their human rights and a say in the future of Cuba. We will continue to advocate for the release of all who were imprisoned in this brutal crackdown, and continue holding accountable Cuban officials responsible for violence against peaceful protests.

Throughout its decades in power, Cuba’s communist regime has ignored the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Human Rights Day. For the Castro family dictatorship. December 10th is just another day to oppress and subjugate the Cuban people.

There was a time, however, when Cuba was a forerunner in international human rights. But today, it is one of the world’s most violent and prolific violators (via Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter):

Over the past 20 years, I witnessed how Cuban diplomats undermined international human rights standards, first at the United Nations Human Rights Commission and later at the UN Human Rights Council.

[…]

Artists were arrested in Cuba in 2018 for protesting Decree 349, a law that eliminated the few artistic freedoms remaining there.

Prisoner of conscience Eduardo Cardet spent two years and 10 months in prison for speaking critically of Castro’s legacy. The sentence ended on September 30, 2019.

There are over a thousand political prisoners in Cuba today.

You can read Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter’s entire post on Cuba’s pre-Castro human rights legacy HERE.

https://babalublog.com/2022/12/10/international-human-rights-day-3/


The White House, December 9, 2022

December 09, 2022

Statement from President Biden on Political Prisoners in Cuba

As we look forward to honoring Human Rights Day this Saturday, December 10th, I once again call for the release of the hundreds of political prisoners in Cuba who remain in detention following the July 11, 2021 protests. In the face of oppression, these protestors bravely exercised their fundamental freedoms, including the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The United States stands with the Cuban people as they stand up for their human rights and a say in the future of Cuba. We will continue to advocate for the release of all who were imprisoned in this brutal crackdown, and continue holding accountable Cuban officials responsible for violence against peaceful protests.

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https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/12/09/statement-from-president-biden-on-political-prisoners-in-cuba/

Rick Scott, Florida’s U.S. Senator, December 9, 2022

At the Urging of Sen. Rick Scott, Biden Finally Calls for Cuban Prisoners to be Released

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, following more than a year of urging from Senator Rick Scott to stand with the brave Cuban people and denounce the oppressive, illegitimate, communist regime in Cuba, President Joe Biden issued a statement calling for the immediate release of all political prisoners who have been held since the July 11th protests.

Senator Rick Scott said, “For decades, the illegitimate, communist Cuban regime has oppressed the Cuban people and forced them to live under tyranny. The Cuban people want freedom, and on July 11, 2021, democracy activists from across the island organized, and with one voiced shouted, ‘¡Patria y Vida!’ and ‘¡Libertad!’ Since then, the regime has held and tortured hundreds of peaceful Cubans, including teenage boys and girls. I’ve spent more than a year calling on President Biden to join me in denouncing the regime and denying the expedited consideration of his nominees until he called for the immediate release of these brave people, and I am proud to see that finally happen today. But, this is not the end of our fight. I expect President Biden to continue to be a voice for freedom and democracy in Latin America, and end his appeasement of the regimes in Cuba and Venezuela. The Cuban people want a new day of freedom, and we will fight alongside them until that day is here.”

https://www.rickscott.senate.gov/2022/12/at-the-urging-of-sen-rick-scott-biden-finally-calls-for-cuban-prisoners-to-be-released