CubaBrief: Cuban dictatorship celebrates terrorist act that led to Cuba’s communist captivity. United States observes Captive Nations Week.

While Havana collaborates with the Russian empire, others seek to be free of it.

This past week in Cuba was set aside by the Cuban dictatorship to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Assault on the Moncada Barracks that began a process that ended in the imposition of communist rule in Cuba. Two Op-Eds published in the Miami Herald addressed this tragic legacy.

John Suarez, executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba, in his July 27, 2023 Op-Ed “In the 1950s, Cubans soon learned the Moncada attack was nothing to celebrate,” provided a historical overview and context of the July 26, 1953 assault on the Moncada barracks.

The men and women who battled Batista’s dictatorship, many of them in Castro’s July 26th Movement, hoped for the restoration of Cuba’s 1940 Constitution and its republic. This is what Fidel promised in his “History will Absolve Me” speech at his trial for the Moncada assault. They got a totalitarian dictatorship, instead. They then fought Castro for six years in a civil war with substantially higher casualties on both sides than during the struggle against Batista. About 400 Soviet advisers assisted Castro in crushing the resistance. The opposition ended up in exile, imprisoned or executed.

Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat, coordinator of the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance, and author of “Cuba: the Doctrine of the Lie”, in his July 27th Op-Ed “Communist regime in Cuba is not ‘accidentally’ authoritarian; it is ‘intentionally totalitarian’” and provides an excellent analysis on the regime’s nature on the international scene.

The Communist regime in Cuba is not accidentally authoritarian. In fact, it is intentionally totalitarian. It did not wander into the desert of dictatorship, seeking the oasis of social justice. From its very inception, it has relentlessly sought to overthrow the rules-based international order led by the United States and Europe. In pursuit of this, it has repeatedly rebuffed successive attempts at engagement by U.S. administrations. What’s more, these attempts have only emboldened the regime to seek more aggressively to counter American interests and values, including direct challenges to U.S. national security. 

In the week prior to the Moncada celebrations by the communist regime in Havana, and their international networks a very different observance was held. President Biden on July 14th signed a proclamation declaring July 16 through July 22, 2023, Captive Nations Week, in which ” support for brave people around the world who are standing up to oppressive rule and striving for greater freedom, greater dignity, and greater democracy” was reaffirmed. He also provided some background on its history, and provided context for the present day.

     “When President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed the first Captive Nations Week in 1959, he appealed directly to the hundreds of millions living behind the Iron Curtain — firm in the knowledge that authoritarianism could never erase a people’s love of liberty.  Over the coming decades, courageous women and men joined together to demand their fundamental freedoms and human rights.  But the battle against oppression did not end with the Cold War.  The forces of autocracy continue to reassert themselves.  In Iran, Belarus, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the People’s Republic of China, and elsewhere, we are seeing an all too familiar contempt for the rule of law, for democracy, for human rights, and even for the truth itself.”

On July 19th the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation held a Captive Nations Summit. CFC’s executive director moderated the third panel ” Global Voices of Freedom – Key to enduring resilience” with Grace Jo from North Korea, Prof. Valdas Rakutis, from Lithuania, and Sophie Luo Shengchun, from China. Introducing the panel and providing context to the subject cited a Cuban man of letters who had recently passed. 

Cuban exile, writer and journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner passed away on June 30, 2023 at age 80.  He was also a victim of Communism, forced to flee his country to avoid a long and unjust prison sentence by the Castro regime.  His life is an example of enduring resilience. In 2011, he said the following to the George W. Bush Presidential Center: “There is a secret family of victims of totalitarianism, which can be the families in Burma or the victims in North Korea or in Iran or in Cuba. We feel a special bond with them because we belong to the same family.” This is also true for our brothers and sisters in Lithuania, China and others who are suffering, or suffered under communism.

The last day of Captive Nations Week this year, July 22nd, coincided with the day in 2012 when Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero were killed by agents of the Cuban government

The full event is available below on Youtube.

The Moncada celebrations in Cuba extol an act of terrorism that resulted in the imposition of communist despotism that continues today while Captive Nations Week celebrates the liberation of countries from communist rule, and calls for solidarity with those peoples still captive under totalitarian rule.   In stark contrast the Cuban dictatorship is sending “volunteers” to join the Russian army and the Wagner mercenaries in waging a war of aggression against Ukraine.

Miami Herald, July 27, 2023

Communist regime in Cuba is not ‘accidentally’ authoritarian; it is ‘intentionally totalitarian’

Opinion By Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat July 27, 2023 12:31 PM

On July 10, Orlando Gutiérrez-Boronat speaks during a roundtable discussion, at the Hialeah Gardens Museum Honoring Brigade 2506, between elected officials and Cuban activists about political prisoners. Lauren Witte lwitte@miamiherald.com

The Communist regime in Cuba is not accidentally authoritarian. In fact, it is intentionally totalitarian. It did not wander into the desert of dictatorship, seeking the oasis of social justice.

From its very inception, it has relentlessly sought to overthrow the rules-based international order led by the United States and Europe. 

In pursuit of this, it has repeatedly rebuffed successive attempts at engagement by U.S. administrations. What’s more, these attempts have only emboldened the regime to seek more aggressively to counter American interests and values, including direct challenges to U.S. national security. 

For example, in response to the overtures extended during the Ford and Carter administrations, Castro’s regime chose to act as a Soviet proxy, sending its armed forces to intervene in the Angolan conflict as well as others. Additionally, it consolidated control over Nicaragua, once more brazenly turning a democratic revolution into a totalitarian takeover. 

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[ Full article ]

https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article277489513.html


Miami Herald, July 27, 2023

In the 1950s, Cubans soon learned the Moncada attack was nothing to celebrate | Opinion

By John Suarez

On May 1, 2022, Raul Castro, right, and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel participate in the May Day parade at in Revolution Square in Havana. Zhu Wanjun Xinhua/Sipa USA

On July 26, at 5:00 a.m., Raúl Castro, age 92, Ramiro Valdés, 91, and Guillermo García Frías, 95, presided over the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the assault on the Moncada military barracks in Santiago de Cuba. It was a violent act that led to the formation of the July 26th Movement and helped establish a dictatorship with Fidel Castro as its leader. 

By contrast, 75 years ago, a delegation representing the Cuban Republic helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations. That republic provided an eight-hour work day; the right to strike; and university autonomy. The island enjoyed a large number of newspapers and radio stations with diverse political and ideological viewpoints.  This year, Cuba is observing the Declaration’s 75th anniversary with a new draconian penal code and more beatings and arrests of dissidents. 

After Fulgencio Batista’s coup ended Cuban democracy on March 10, 1952, Cubans fell for Fidel Castro, a charismatic young lawyer who promised to return constitutional order. Following the July 26 Moncada attack in 1953, the July 26th Movement’s urban terrorism killed Cubans throughout the rest of the decade. Raúl Castro plotted numerous aircraft hijackings. On Nov. 1, 1958, one such skyjacking killed 17 civilians when the plane crashed.

[ Full Article ]


https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article277714198.html

Center for a Free Cuba, July 19, 2023

Panel III: Global Voices of Freedom – Key to enduring resilience

Introduction by John Suarez

Cuban exile, writer and journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner passed away on June 30, 2023 at age 80.  He was also a victim of Communism, forced to flee his country to avoid a long and unjust prison sentence by the Castro regime.  His life is an example of enduring resilience. In 2011, he said the following to the George W. Bush Presidential Center: “There is a secret family of victims of totalitarianism, which can be the families in Burma or the victims in North Korea or in Iran or in Cuba. We feel a special bond with them because we belong to the same family.” This is also true for our brothers and sisters in Lithuania, China and others who are suffering, or suffered under communism.

As communist and authoritarian regimes around the world continue to destroy liberty with the rise of Communist China as a hegemonic power to challenge the liberal international order, a new generation of human rights defenders has risen to the occasion. These brave activists are now subjected to increasingly sophisticated persecution, ranging from jail, torture, and extrajudicial executions disguised as accidents to digital surveillance and oppression. 

The purpose of this panel “Global Voices of Freedom – Key to enduring resilience” is to listen to the experiences of those who have lived under communism in North Korea, Lithuania, and China and to explore the following questions: 

What can the international community do to assist these activists?,

What can the free world do to ensure that their voices are heard?   

Our first panelist is Grace Jo. Grace was born in North Korea, where she nearly died of malnutrition as a child. Grace’s brothers perished from hunger. Grace’s father was tortured and starved to death; he died when North Korean agents transferred him from a detention center to a jail; his “crime” was leaving his nation in search of food for his family. Grace’s older sister went to China to collect food for her family, but she never returned and was most likely sold into human trafficking.

   

Grace was twice repatriated to North Korea by the Chinese authorities, and each time she was imprisoned. Grace’s mother and one of Grace’s sisters were repatriated four times and tortured each time. Pastor Philip Buck bribed North Korean operatives in 2006 to let Grace and her two remaining family members to flee North Korea. Grace and her family were rescued from China by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2008, allowing them to enter the United States of America as refugees.

She and her family have been protesting the forcible repatriation of North Korean escapees hiding in China. Grace worked as a vice president for NKinUSA, an organization that assists North Korean defectors with rescue, resettlement, and emergency support.

Our second panelist is Prof. Valdas Rakutis, member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Distinguished Guest Speaker on the 70th Anniversary of the Select Committee on Communist Aggression (Kersten Committee).

Free Cubans are grateful to Lithuania for not ratifying the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the and the Cuban dictatorship. We saw the fruit of this poisonous agreement on July 17-18 in Brussels at the EU-CELAC meeting where President Zelinsky was vetoed by Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua from attending.  Europe is Cuba’s top trading partner with 1/3rd of foreign trade compared to 8% by Russia. Yet, Cuban troops are fighting alongside their Russian allies in Ukraine today.

Our Third panelist is Sophie Luo Shengchun, Chinese activist, and human rights defender 

Shengchun Sophie Luo, an engineer, a full-time product line Quality Director for a global railway company, and a mother of two daughters, has been involved in human rights work since April 2013, when her husband, human rights lawyer and activist Ding Jiaxi, was arrested and then imprisoned for three and a half years.

Ding Jiaxi was forcibly disappeared on December 26, 2019, for attending a gathering in Xiamen with like-minded lawyers and friends, was cruelly tortured for 6 months, and is still being kept in a detention center in deplorable living conditions as of today. On June 24, 2022, Ding Jiaxi was secretly tried. Ding Jiaxi was convicted to 12 years in prison + 3 years deprivation of political rights on April 10, 2023, but no sentencing documents were provided to the family.

https://victimsofcommunism.org/event/captive-nations-summit/


The White House, July 14, 2023

A Proclamation on Captive Nations Week, 2023

During Captive Nations Week, we reaffirm our support for brave people around the world who are standing up to oppressive rule and striving for greater freedom, greater dignity, and greater democracy.

     When President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed the first Captive Nations Week in 1959, he appealed directly to the hundreds of millions living behind the Iron Curtain — firm in the knowledge that authoritarianism could never erase a people’s love of liberty.  Over the coming decades, courageous women and men joined together to demand their fundamental freedoms and human rights.  But the battle against oppression did not end with the Cold War.  The forces of autocracy continue to reassert themselves.  In Iran, Belarus, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the People’s Republic of China, and elsewhere, we are seeing an all too familiar contempt for the rule of law, for democracy, for human rights, and even for the truth itself.

     This is all too evident in Russia’s brutal aggression against its neighbor Ukraine and in the Ukrainian people’s courageous defense of their sovereignty, freedom, land, and lives.  And around the world, countless more are working every day in their own countries to advance the essential democratic principles that unite free people everywhere:  the rule of law; free and fair elections; the freedom of the press; the freedom to speak, write, and assemble; and the freedom to worship as one chooses.  These advocates and champions of democracy are living proof that the darkness that drives autocracy can never extinguish the flame of liberty that lights the souls of free people everywhere.

     The United States is proud to stand with all those who fight for freedom.  We will continue supporting democratic reformers and human rights defenders around the world, who are working for a future where women and girls can exercise their rights equally and contribute fully to society, where members of religious and ethnic minorities can live their lives without harassment, where LGBTQI+ people can live and love freely, and where citizens and the press can question and criticize their leaders without fear of reprisal. 

     Two years ago, at the first Summit for Democracy, I was proud to launch the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, with more than $400 million in initiatives to defend and grow democratic resilience with partners around the globe.  This year, at our second Summit, I committed another $690 million to keep growing our work to advance democracy internationally.  Democracy — transparent and accountable government of, for, and by the people — is our most powerful tool to realize lasting peace, expand prosperity, and protect human dignity. 

     The United States will continue to lead not just by the example of our power but the power of our example.  That is why, since my first day in office, my Administration has also taken decisive action to restore and strengthen democracy here at home.  I issued an Executive Order promoting access to voter registration and election information, and I signed into law the Electoral Count Reform Act, which helps preserve the will of the people against future attempts to overturn our elections.  The Department of Justice has strengthened its ability to fight unlawful voter suppression.  And I continue to call on the Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. 

     During this Captive Nations Week, as we honor the bravery of democratic reformers and human rights defenders everywhere, I am reminded of the words of the philosopher Kierkegaard:  “Faith sees best in the dark.”  To those living in darkness today:  We honor your resilience.  To those who are committed to the cause of liberty:  We are your partner for a better future. 

     The Congress, by joint resolution approved July 17, 1959 (73 Stat. 212), has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation designating the third week of July of each year as “Captive Nations Week.”

     NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim July 16 through July 22, 2023, as Captive Nations Week.  I call upon all Americans to reaffirm our commitment to championing those around the world who are working, often at great personal risk, to secure liberty and justice for all.

     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-eighth.

                               JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2023/07/14/a-proclamation-on-captive-nations-week-2023/