Press Advisory: March will remember Castro regime crimes, call for Magnitsky sanctions, and for others to join over 1,500 petitioners for Havana’s expulsion from the UN Human Rights Council.

Press Advisory

March in Washington DC will remember Castro regime crimes and call for Magnitsky sanctions, and for others to join over 1,500 petitioners for Havana’s expulsion from the UN Human Rights Council.

February 23, 2023

Contact: John Suarez and Janisset Rivero 786-208-6056 

Center for a Free Cuba. Washington DC. February 23, 2023. A “March for Freedom and Justice in Cuba” will be held today, February 23, 2023, by the Center for a Free Cuba, Cuba Decide, the Patmos Institute, and the podcast “Cubans in Washington, DC”, to draw attention to the anniversaries of the murder of prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo by prison guards on February 23, 2010, and the shooting down of two civilian aircraft of the humanitarian organization Brothers to the Rescue by Havana in an act of state terrorism on February 24, 1996 killing Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, Mario De La Peña, and Armando Alejandre.

Other victims of Castroism, including the Cubans killed on October 28, 2022 when a boat carrying refugees was ambushed and sunk north of Bahia Honda by a Cuban coast guard cutter, will also be remembered by protesters.

“We demand that Miguel Diaz-Canel, the president of Cuba, and those authorities who are accountable for these crimes be subjected to Magnitsky sanctions. We will also continue to call for Cuba be expelled from the UN Human Rights Council, and that all political prisoners be freed immediately”, said John Suarez, executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba.

Today’s “March for Freedom and Justice in Cuba” will start with participants gathering at 3:00pm in Lafayette Park ( the park facing the White House), then exit the park on 16th street marching up to the front of the Embassy of Cuba located at 2630 16th St. NW, Washington, DC.

Today’s demonstration coincides with the appeal to members of the UN General Assembly to expel Cuba from the UN Human Rights Council being signed by over 1,530 human rights advocates, religious leaders, writers, artists, intellectuals, journalists, businessmen, former diplomats and academicians

Among the signatories are Regis Iglesias Ramirez, spokesman of the Christian Liberation Movement, a prisoner of conscience who spent seven years in a Cuban prison; Paquito D’Rivera, Grammy-winning musician and composer; Hillel Neuer, Executive Director, UN Watch;  Dr. Jianli 建利 Yang 杨, President, Citizen Power Initiatives for China; Mary Curtis Horowitz, Chair, Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy; Guillermo Marmol, businessman and Chairman, Center for a Free Cuba; Dmytro Potekhin, Ukrainian civic activist and blogger; and Ambassador Everett Briggs, former U.S. ambassador to Portugal and Panama.

Also, among those signing, are: Rosa María Payá, founder and director, CubaDecide and Fundación para la Democracia Panamericana; Carlos Eire, author, and professor at Yale University; Ileana Fuentes, author, translator, feminist, human rights and democracy advocate; Carlos Alberto Montaner, journalist and author; Sirley Ávila León, human rights activist and victim of regime orchestrated machete attack in 2015, and Janisset Rivero, writer and human rights activist.

Signers urge that the UN General Assembly invoke Article 8 of the Council’s founding resolution and remove Cuba’s Castro regime on account of its gross and systematic violations of human rights. More than ever, the world has to stand with the victims in Cuba, and not with the wrongdoer.

This appeal was sent to democratic governments, human rights organizations, and international figures on February 23, 2023 including eighteen listed below:

President of the United States of America Joe Biden

Prime Minister of Sweden Magdalena Andersson

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,

Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern

President of Slovakia Zuzana Čaputová

President of the Republic of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi

President of the Republic of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda

President of Uruguay Luis Lacalle Pou,

President of the Republic of China Tsai Ing-wen

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet,

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Petr Fiala, 

Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz

Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky

Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas

Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin

Prime Minister of Australia the Hon Scott Morrison MP

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro

The petition remains open and available for signature on Change.org at https://chng.it/BzrY4Nyp. We will continue to update the list of signatories and expand the list of world leaders, and human rights defenders receiving the petition. 

Below is the full text and first 48 signers as of February 23, 2023. Full list of signers is available upon request.

Expel Cuba from the UN Human Rights Council.

We condemn the UN General Assembly decision to elect Cuba’s Castro regime to be one of the 47 member states on the UN Human Rights Council, for the 2020-2023 term.

Havana spent decades at the vanguard of undermining international human rights standards. Here are two examples of Cuba’s Castro regime’s attacks on human rights in the UN Human Rights Council in the past.

On March 28, 2008 the Cuban delegation, together with the Organization of the Islamic Congress, successfully passed resolutions that turned the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression from defending free expression to policing freedom of expression

Less than a year later, on February 2, 2009 during the first Universal Periodic Review of China, Cuban Ambassador, Juan Antonio Fernández Palacios, recommended that China repress human rights defenders with more firmness, making a mockery out of the new human rights instrument.

The Castro regime does not deserve to be on the Council undermining international human rights standards. It deserves to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court for its own human rights violations committed while presently on the Council.

  • Since 1989 the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has not been permitted to inspect conditions in Cuban prisons, although between 2002 and the present the ICRC visited detainees over 100 times at the United States Guantanamo Naval Base prison in eastern Cuba.

  • Cuba is the only country in the Americas that Amnesty International, and other independent human rights monitors, cannot visit, and where independent human rights groups are considered illegal.

  • While on the UN Human Rights Council the Cuban government has engaged in escalating violence and repression against Cuban nationals.

  • On July 11, 2021 tens of thousands of Cubans across the island in over 50 cities and towns took part in large non-violent demonstrations chanting “freedom”, “yes, we can”, “we are not afraid. Protests, despite the harsh government response, would continue until July 13th.

  • President Miguel Díaz-Canel appeared on national Cuban television on July 11, 2021 declaring: “They [protesters] would have to pass over our dead bodies if they want to confront the revolution, and we are willing to resort to anything.” (Source: https://youtu.be/STkFxRS6gH4 ) … “We are calling on all the revolutionaries of the country, all the communists, to take to the streets and go to the places where these provocations are going to take place today from now on, and in all these days and face it decisively, firmly, with courage.” (Source: https://youtu.be/pd5SAVZkbVU ) The Cuban president concluded his address stating “the order of combat is given, revolutionaries take to the streets.” (Source: https://youtu.be/t7MX8O3L5WM ). This combat order was an incitement to violence by government security forces against civilians. (Sources: Freedom House, RSF).

  • Protesters and journalists reported beatings of protesters and multiple cases of arbitrary detentions. (Source: Human Rights Watch) Amnesty International received reports on July 12, 2021 of “internet outages, arbitrary detentions, excessive use of force, including police firing on protesters, and allegations that there are a long list of missing people. ” (Source: Amnesty International).

  • On July 12, 2021 Rosa María Payá reported that a source in Santiago de Cuba said “Five dead… more than 20 people arrived at the provincial hospital with severe injuries… an old man who had his brains knocked out with a stick.” (Source: CubaDecide).

  • Videos emerged of National Revolutionary Police firing on protesters, riot police dressed in black also firing on protesters, and Cuban civilians with gunshot wounds, including one fatally shot. Other videos showed security forces violently assaulting nonviolent protesters, and busing in and arming supporters to attack protesters. ( Source: Center for a Free Cuba )

  • The Cuban government officially recognized one Cuban killed on July 12th during the protests, Diubis Laurencio Tejeda, (age 36). (Source: BBC News) He was shot in the back by regime officials on day two of nationwide protests in Cuba in a suburb of Havana. (Source: European Parliament, Proyecto Inventario, CubaDecide). NGOs placed the number at five, but the total number remains unknown. Received anecdotal reports that family members of others killed have been threatened to remain silent.

  • Hundreds of Cubans were (and are) being subjected to summary trials in express courts without defense attorneys. (Sources: ISHR, Havana Times).  Hundreds more, including children, were sentenced to long prison terms of up to 30 years for taking part in the 11J protests.

  • Decree-Law 35 issued by the dictatorship entered into force on August 18, 2021. The new law penalizes “ethical and social” harm done “or incidents of aggression”, “or defamations that harm “the prestige of the country” on social media, reported 14ymedio. The text entering into force was approved on April 13, 2021. This law expands restrictions on publishing online. (Source: PEN, Freedom House, HRW)

  • Today, Havana is backing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, repeating disinformation, and persecuting Cubans on the island who demonstrate their solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

The election of the Cuban regime of Raul Castro to the Human Rights Council in 2020 made a mockery of the dysfunctional international human rights body.

Now is the time to clean up the dysfunctional human rights council so that it can carry out its duties at this critical time.

Therefore, we request that the UN General Assembly invoke Article 8 of the Council’s founding resolution and remove Cuba’s Castro regime on account of its gross and systematic violations of human rights. More than ever, the world has to stand with the victims in Cuba, and not with the wrongdoer.

Signatories,

Regis Iglesias Ramirez, spokesman, Movimiento Cristiano Liberación.

Mary Curtis Horowitz, Chair, Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy

Guillermo Marmol, businessman and Chairman, Center for a Free Cuba

Paquito D’Rivera, Grammy-winning musician and composer 

Everett Ellis Briggs, U.S. Ambassador (ret.)

Sirley Ávila León, human rights activist and victim of regime orchestrated machete attack in 2015.

Ambassador Otto J. Reich, former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs, former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela; President, Center for a Free Cuba

Hillel Neuer, Executive Director, UN Watch

Rosa María Payá, founder and director, CubaDecide and Fundación para la Democracia Panamericana

Dr. Jianli 建利 Yang 杨, President, Citizen Power Initiatives for China

Dr. Anna María Cervone, president, L’Internationale des Femmes Démocrates du Centre (IFDC)

Carlos Eire, Professor of History and Religious Studies, Yale University

Nestor Carbonell, author, and businessman

Graciella Cruz-Taura, Professor of History, Florida Atlantic University

Carlos Alberto Montaner, journalist and author

Josefina Vento, DDS, dentist 

Roberto de Jesús Quiñones, journalist and attorney

Raul Masvidal, entrepreneur, civic leader, Managing Partner, Masvidal Partners

Jorge Olivera Castillo, journalist, poet, and dissident.

Laida A. Carro, Coalition of Cuban-American Women

Eduardo Zayas-Bazán, Profesor Emeritus, East TN State University

Elsa Morejón, human rights defender

Roberto San Martín, Actor

Sebastián Arcos Cazabon, Cuban Committee for Human Rights

Amalia Dache, Professor, Graduate School of Education,  University of Pennsylvania 

Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, Cuban biologist, former professor, University of Havana

Sergio Díaz-Briquets, consultant

Ileana Fuentes, Cuban-American feminist author

German J Miret, businessman, author

Michael Lima Cuadra, director, Democratic Spaces

Frank Calzón, political scientist, human rights advocate, and author

Victor J. Pujals, Professional Engineer

Dmytro Potekhin, Ukrainian civic activist and blogger

Kizzy Macias, Fundación de Artivismo ProActivo Miami

Ahmed Samih Farag,  Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies

Erich de la Fuente, Adjunct Professor, Florida International University

Josefina Vento, DDS, dentist 

Charles Alfredo Donate, Faculty Administrator, Florida International University

Enrique del Risco,  Clinical University Professor, New York University

Carmen Pelaez, Cuban American filmmaker, writer, activist

Manuel Cuesta Morua, Spokesman, Partido Arco Progresista. Coordinator, Plataforma Nuevo País

Saily González Velazquez, Entrepreneur, Activist

Teresa Ortiz, L.L.M, J.D., Cuba Demanda

Eric Chenoweth, Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe

Vicente Morín Aguado, journalist

Tony Costa, Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba

Janisset Rivero, writer and human rights activist

John Suarez, Executive Director, Center for a Free Cuba

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