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Daily Archives: March 9, 2010

Communications activist silenced in Cuban jail cell

Communications activist silenced in Cuban jail cellBy Ron Kampeas · March 8, 2010

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Alan has been about communications all hislife: The call-mom-everyday son, the family newsbreaker, the message guyfor Jewish groups, the get-out-the-vote enthusiast for candidate BarackObama, the technology contractor who helped the U.S. government bringthe world's remotest populations into the 21st century.

Now, however, Gross, 60, of Potomac, Md., has been languishing for threemonths in a Cuban high-security prison and his rare conversations aremonitored by Cuban officials.

"He spoke with my sister-in-law on a few occasions with someone standingby him," Bonnie Rubinstein, his sister, told JTA in an interview Monday."He was guarded, he tried to impart that he was OK."

In fact, not so OK, Rubinstein said, correcting herself: Gross' calllast week to his wife, Judy, was to ask for the medication he needs forhis gout and that is unavailable in Cuba.

"We're hoping he got the medication," said Rubinstein, a director ofearly childhood at Temple Shalom in Dallas. "He lost 52pounds. We're very worried about him."

Rubinstein was Dec. 3 as he prepared to return from Cuba, wherehe was completing work on behalf of the U.S. government. He has not beencharged, but leading Cuban figures — including Raul Castro –have accused him of being part of a plot to undermine the government.

After weeks of taking a quiet approach to secure Gross' release, hisfamily and friends launched a public campaign that is spreading toJewish communities across the United States, attracting the support ofU.S. lawmakers and high-profile media outlets. It kicked off last monthwhen Judy Gross issued a video appeal for the release of her husband of40 years. The Grosses have two adult daughters.

"Alan has done nothing wrong and we want him home," she said in the Feb.18 video. "We're hoping that U.S. officials and Cuban officals can gettogether and mutually agree on a way to get him home."

Up to that point, Judy Gross added, she had only been able to have threebrief conversations with her husband.

The video marked the family's decision to go public after several weeksof hoping to secure his release behind closed doors. Remarks by Cubanleaders suggesting that Gross was a spy were a factor in the change,said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the U.S. House ofRepresentatives Latin America subcommittee, who has met with the family.

"I'm going to continue to make noise about it, it's the only thing thatcan get him released," said Engel, who raised the matter last month withU.S. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton when she testified beforethe Foreign Affairs Committee.

The campaign emphasizes Gross' Jewish commitment.

"He is helping the Jewish community [in Cuba] improve communications and access," Judy Gross said in the video. Later, after outlininghis anti-poverty activism, she added that "Alan also loves the Jewishcommunity. He's been involved for as long as I can remember."

Gross was active as a young man in the B'nai B'rith Youth Organizationand worked several years in the 1980s for the Greater Washington JewishFederation.

In a statement, the State Department said Gross was working on "aprogram designed to play a positive constructive role in Cuban societyand governance by helping Cuban citizens to gain access they seek toinformation readily available to citizens elsewhere in the world." Suchprojects are banned in Cuba.

The State Department did not specify work with the Jewish community, buta backgrounder distributed by Gross' family, business associates andsupporters said he worked only with "with peaceful, non-,Jewish groups" in Cuba. El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish language dailypublished by the Miami Herald, quoted one Cuban Jewish leader as sayingshe had not heard of him.

Cuba's once thriving Jewish community was substantially depleted after's 1959 rise to power. Much of the community moved to Miami.Israel struck a deal with Cuba in the late 1990s that allowed theemigration of all but about 1,500 Jews.

"His work was humanitarian and non-political," the backgrounder says."Alan was helping Cuba's tiny Jewish community set up an Intranet sothat they could communicate amongst themselves and with other Jewishcommunities abroad, and providing them the ability to access the Internet."

Friends said he was organizing access to Wikipedia, EncyclopediaBritannica and Jewish music sites.

Gross' plight has galvanized at least two communities: the greaterWashington area, where he lives and is active in Am Kollel, a JewishRenewal community in suburban Maryland; and in Dallas, the home of hissister and mother.

Gross' mother, Evelyn, 87, is ailing from her concerns for Alan, whocalled her every day before his arrest, Rubinstein said.

"This is the kind of brother he was, " the sister said, her voicecracking. "If anything was going on with our parents, he would be theone to call. He is fun loving and sociable, everyone loves him. He's a'gut neshama' " — a good soul.

Last month, Gross' congressman, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and bothof Maryland's Democratic senators — Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski –wrote to Clinton expressing their "overwhelming concern" about Gross.Van Hollen also is circulating a similar letter to his colleagues in theU.S. House of Representatives.

Ron Halber, who directs Washington's Jewish Community Relations Council,said his JCRC is asking its counterparts nationwide to urge lawmakers tosign the letter.

"This man's career has been marked by humanitarian efforts," Halber said.

The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have weighed in witheditorials.

"Only in the ancient, crumbling regime of the Castro brothers could thisridiculous charge be leveled," the Post said Feb. 22, referring to theinsinuations of espionage. "That's because Cuba is virtually alone, evenamong authoritarian countries, in trying to prevent most of itspopulation from using the Internet even for nonpolitical purposes."

Rubinstein said Gross had been to Cuba several times prior to the mostrecent visit, and that for the first time in his career he seemedapprehensive.

"He was concerned that whomever he spoke to in Cuba, he couldn't trustanyone there," she said. "He had never felt nervous, not even in Iran orIraq."

A statement by Gross' company, Joint Business Development Center, on aWeb site promoting voluntarism, said that it "has supported Internetconnectivity in locations where there was little or no access. In thepast two years JBDC has installed more than 60 satellite terminals,bringing Internet access, email, VoIP, fax and the like to remotelocations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Armenia, and Kuwait."

JBDC was subcontracting from Development Alternatives Inc., which itselfhad won a bid for the Cuba contract from the U.S. Agency forInternational Development.

According to a Washington Jewish Week story in January, DAI in the pasthas been linked to groups opposing the regime in — anally of the Castro regime. The newspaper also quoted Cuba experts aswondering why such assistance was needed, saying that World ORT alreadyprovides computer needs to Cuba's Jews. Such an officially sanctionedprogram, however, would likely not have promoted free Internet access,as Gross was doing.

In a Dec. 14 statement on the matter, DAI said it was working with theState Department to "ensure that the detainee's safety and well-being isgiven top priority."

DAI updated its statement on Monday in an e-mail to JTA.

"We are obviously very concerned about Alan's well-being and continue todo everything we can to secure his release," said the company'sspokesman, Steven O'Connor. "In that regard, we are grateful for theefforts of the State Department and remain hopeful that Alan can bereunited with his family soon."

The last visit American diplomats were allowed with Gross was on Feb. 2.The phone number for the Cuban Interests Section in Washington wasperpetually busy on Monday.

In her video, Judy Gross said her husband had visisted more than 50countries, helping not only to promote Internet access but to buildschools and promote employment. The backgrounder emphasizes his workwith Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"His work has had a positive impact in the lives of people in over 50countries, including the West Bank, Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, andHaiti," it says.

Friends and Cuba watchers say Gross is a victim of Cuban resentment ofU.S. outreach in the island nation. The autocracy had hopedthat efforts launched under President George W. Bush would subside, butPresident Obama — for whom Gross campaigned in 2008 — has maintainedthe programs.

"The Castro regime is trying to put pressure on the United States,"Engel said. "If Raul Castro wants to normalize relations with the UnitedStates, this is a heckuva way to do it."

Communications activist silenced in Cuban jail cell | JTA – Jewish &Israel News (8 March 2010)

Dissident’s death spurs new protests in Cuba

's death spurs new protests in CubaBy Rick Jervis, USA TODAY

Dissidents are going on hunger strikes in Cuba after the death of aprisoner of conscience in an attempt to bring global attention to theoppression of the Castro regime, dissidents and rights groups say.

"If they allow me to die, it will demonstrate to the world that therehave been political executions here in Cuba from 1959 until the presentday," said Guillermo Fariñas, referring to the more than 50 years thatCuba has been under communist control.

Fariñas, 48, went on a hunger strike Feb. 24, a day after the death ofOrlando Tamayo. Tamayo, 42, died after refusing and waterfor 82 days.

Two other prisoners — Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia and Evan HernandezCarrillos — have also announced hunger strikes, according to theMiami-based Cuban Democratic Directorate, which tracks oppositionfigures in Cuba.

Fariñas, who spoke last week from his home in Santa Clara, has sincebeen taken to a by relatives. He said Tamayo's death hasenergized Cuba's dissident movement.

"It has really touched the opposition," Fariñas said. "Everyone wants toshow support."

The movement comes as the United States and Europe have been softeningtheir stances toward Cuba. The Obama administration lifted restrictionson to the island by Cuban Americans and toned down the languageon Cuba in the annual State Department terrorism report.

In Congress, bills have been filed to ease restrictions further. TheEuropean Union lifted diplomatic sanctions, and Cuba's suspension fromthe Organization of American States has been ended as well.

Some Cuba experts see the hunger strikes as a gamble as a way of tryingto prompt change.

"Once these people lose their life, it does not help the oppositionmovement," said Juan del Aguila, an associate professor at Emory in Atlanta who has studied the Cuban opposition. "It isclearly a sign of desperation, no question about it."

About 200 Cubans have been imprisoned for crimes such as criticizing thegovernment's economic policies to passing out pamphlets against abortionor on the United Nations Bill of Rights.

As many as 5,000 Cubans served sentences for "dangerousness," withoutbeing charged with any specific crime, according to the StateDepartment. Prisoners are beaten on a near-daily basis in cells infestedwith vermin and lacking water, according to the department's humanrights report.

The International Committee of the Red Cross regularly visits prisons tocheck on conditions, including the U.S. facility for terrorism suspectsat Guantanamo Bay. It has been refused access to Cuba's prisons. "It'sbeen a long time since we've been able to visit Cuban prisons," saysMarçal Izard, an ICRC spokesman.

There was hope things would change when ceded power to hisbrother Raúl, but Watch says Raúl Castro has locked upscores of people for exercising their fundamental freedoms. The groupsays Raúl Castro has used the courts to silence free speech, quash laborrights and criminalize dissent. Human rights defenders, journalists andothers have been given sham trials and imprisoned for lengthy terms, thegroup says.

Tamayo had been imprisoned since 2003 on charges that include"disrespecting authority." Government media denounced him as a "commonprisoner."

Fariñas' first arrest came as a for reporting on hospitalcorruption. He has since served 11 years for a variety of offenses. OnMonday, Cuba denounced him in the Gramma newspaper and said it "will notaccept pressure or blackmail."

Fariñas said he recognizes that he is in a showdown and that Raúl Castrois not likely to give in.

"I don't plan on giving up, either," Fariñas said.

Dissident's death spurs new protests in Cuba – (8 March 2010)

Changes pending to Cuba’s paternalistic economy, sources say

Changes pending to Cuba's paternalistic , sources sayBy Marc Frank, ReutersMarch 9, 2010

Cuba's economy minister is pushing for less state intervention in one ofthe world's last Soviet-style economies, saying the government can nolonger afford its all-encompassing control and paternalism, Communistparty sources say.

The drive by minister Marino Murillo appears aimed at overcomingresistance to new reforms under , who has madeextensive changes in agriculture since taking over in 2008 from ailingbrother and is thought to want change in other economicsectors.

Murillo told armed forces and Interior Ministry officials in January"the gigantic paternalistic state can no longer be, because there is nolonger any way to maintain it," according to a Communist party sourcewho saw a video of the Jan. 16 event shown to party and government cadres.

Sensitive strategy and policy meetings are often not immediately madepublic in Communist-ruled Cuba, but videos of them are sometimes latershown to certain selected officials.

Cuba is grappling with a financial liquidity crisis triggered by theglobal recession which forced it to slash imports by 37 per cent lastyear. Inefficiencies in the centralized economy have also reducedproductivity.

Murillo said the Caribbean nation could no longer afford, for example,to pay tens of thousands of people to control state barber shops, beautyparlours and services such as appliance and watch repair shops. Hesuggested they could be administered differently by leasing them toworkers, said two people who also saw the video of his speech.

The economy minister, a former military officer appointed to the post ayear ago, denounced those who might resist the changes, which appear tobe underway in small experiments.

"I was called to a meeting last month and told the premises would beleased to employees soon as part of an experiment in the area," theadministrator of a state-run beauty parlour in central Havana said,asking that her name not be used.

A pilot project in Havanahas some state taxi drivers leasing theirvehicles at a daily rate instead of receiving a wage, drivers said.

Universities in a number of provinces have been asked to draw upproposals to transform local state-run services and minor productionactivity into co-operatives.

Professors who attended a similar presentation by Murillo at Havana earlier this year said he made clear that economic necessity,not ideological choice, was driving change and that reforms alreadyunderway in agriculture were a model for what would come.

Changes pending to Cuba's paternalistic economy, sources say (9 March 2010)

Family of detained U.S.AID subcontractor in Cuba calls for his release

Family of detained U.S.AID subcontractor in Cuba calls for his release

The family of a USAID subcontractor detained in Cuba in December isstepping up its efforts to gain his release. Alan , of Potomac,Maryland, was in Cuba three months ago for distributingcommunications equipment to Cuba's Jewish community, while working as aUSAID subcontractor who entered the country on a visa. Hisfamily says Gross's has started to decline while in detention.

"Alan Gross is a humanitarian, actively involved in Jewish causes, andhas worked in over 50 countries to help improve the lives of theimpoverished and jumpstarting their local economies," his wife JudyGross wrote to supporters, encouraging them to write letters to Congressto seek his release.

"In recent weeks Mr. Gross's health has started to decline. In addition,he has lost 52 pounds in three months."

Letters below the jump.

From: [] Sent: Wednesday, March 03, 2010 1:12 PM Subject: FW: Detention of Alan Gross

Dear Family and Friends,

Many of you know that our brother-in-law was arrested in Cuba inearly December.

Of course have been supporting Judy in her efforts to urge Alan'srelease. Up until now, our primary efforts have been in the backgroundtrying to help her and the girls. This, as you can imagine, has been oneof the greatest burdens that a family has to shoulder. Judy and thegirls are bearing it as well as possible as is Alan's mother. Even,Robert's mother, who has lost some of her sharp edge, realizes that Alanis gone and is upset.

For those of you who do not know or remember Alan, he is truly awonderful guy whose first career was as a social worker. That instincthas never left him throughout his working life.

We know that all of you have much going on in your lives.

We are asking that you read Judy's letter, below, and that youcontact your Senators and Congress-people to assist in gaining Alan'srelease.

If you want to know more about it, there are articles in The NewYork Times, The Washington Post, and Foreign Policy on the web.

Many thanks for your help in advance. With love,

Susan and Robert

—–Original Message—– From: Judy Gross Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2010 7:24 PM Subject: Detention of Alan Gross

Dear Friends and Colleagues of Alan Gross,

I would like to thank all of you for your calls and your warmsupport. Everyone has been asking what can be done to help get Alanhome. At the moment there are two things you can do to help.

First, below is a sample letter that I urge you to send to yourvarious Senators and Representatives. If you want to put this in yourown words, please remember that we think it is best to emphasize thehumanitarian issues and not the political ones. You may use thefollowing link to obtain contact information for your State delegations.

Second, my Congressman, Chris Van Hollen, is working on abipartisan letter to the Cuban government seeking Alan's release. We arehoping to get as many members of Congress to sign the letter aspossible. Please urge your Congressmen and women to sign the letter sothat we can send a clear message to the Cuban government. They shouldcontact Chris Van Hollen's office for more information.

Please send foward this letter below to friends, family members,your religious communities, clergy, etc. It would be wonderful forCongress to be deluged with this message!!

Warm Regards,


Letter to Congress

Dear Senator/ Congressman/woman,

This past week a letter has circulated through the House and Senateasking Congress to assist in the release of Alan Gross, a resident ofPotomac, MD who was arrested on December 3, 2009 by Cuban authorities.Mr. Gross was in Cuba under a UNSAID contract to help the small JewishCommunity improve communications with Jews in Cuba and overseas.

Alan Gross is a humanitarian, actively involved in Jewish causes,and has worked in over 50 countries to help improve the lives of theimpoverished and jumpstarting their local economies.

In recent weeks Mr.. Gross's health has started to decline. Inaddition, he has lost 52 pounds in three months.

As your constituent, I urge you to please sign on to the letter toThe Cuban Government, and do whatever you can to secure the release ofAlan Gross.


Family of detained U.S.AID subcontractor in Cuba calls for his release -Laura Rozen – (9 March 2010)

Cuban-style colonisers

Cuban-style colonisersWritten by A FAITHFUL ZIMBABWEAN,Monday, 08 March 2010 12:11

Zimbabwe is now colonised by four Cs – Corruption, Communism andCuban-style Colonisers.An election cannot come soon enough, Zimbabwean voters must turn out inforce and, even with all political hurdles forced on them by Zanu (PF),before and during the elections, they must vote them out and to extinction.We visited Cuba two years ago. It is made up of 40, 149 Islands. Castrostarted his revolution over fifty years ago and introduced Communism.The State owns every thing. There is no real incentive. All themagnificent colonial buildings are crumbling and falling down. Thedocks and wharfs are collapsing into the sea. The main highways are goodbut, get off them and other route roads are pot-holed, very windy andneed real maintenance.Castro did promise free , and for his people. He certainly provides that and first class. The children areproud of their uniforms and seem well disciplined and keen to learn.Those who do not want to go to are conscripted into theforces. Higher education is all free. There are a million or sopolicemen there and you see them every where. Crime is nothing likethat in Zimbabwe.When the Spanish Farmers were forced to give up their land it wasallocated to peasants. Some of the prime estates are a attraction, but lack the expertise for real production. The crops, likesugarcane, were generally lacking fertiliser, badly managed and very lowyielding. Bean crops had maize plants spaced wide apart as a secondarycrop. paddies were cultivated by oxen with very primitive implements.Most farmers have a horse and cart for transport and we saw many asleigh made from the fork of a tree pulled by oxen plodding down themain high ways. Tractors seem to be used for haulage and carting thepoorly paid labour from village to farms and cigar making factories. Wewere taken into the factories, but no cameras or hand bags are allowed. They seem embarrassed about the slave labour. and securityguards are watching your every move. The labour, mainly women of allages, are paid 400 pesos (about US$ 15) a month, plus ten cigars to useor sell.Every citizen draws a basic ration every week, supplied by theGovernment, and there is little unemployment, but no incentive forincreased productivity or mechanisation. The Telephone company isItalian but 51 per cent owned by the Cuban Government. Any one wishingto form, start or finance a company is welcome but 51 per cent has to beGovernment-owned. There are no takers. I wonder why!Mugabe certainly encouraged a massive education policy and free health,but his greedy corrupt cronies soon killed that off. Many of thecommercial farmers had schools for their work-force and for those fromnearby TTLs. Paid for by the farmer. Mugabe`s greedy land grab killedthat too. The labour was housed, fed rations, had health care andaccess to a farm trading store. They were even encouraged to playfootball. They were taught skills like brick making, tractor driving,fertilising, tobacco handling, mechanics, and they were paid.Today Mugabe`s lot treat labour as slaves. What is left of health,education, transport, manufacturing, textile and cotton industry, steeletc. is all ruined. The Buildings in our cities are first world – sowere Cuba's. Now Bob is killing any and every company that is notblack-managed and stealing the assets as well. Such a wicked way to getrich and kill a whole countryMugabe is determined to stay in power. His farm grab policy is mainlypolitical. The farmers are opposed to his wicked regime. No one willinvest in the country with him in power. Zimbabwe has more potentialthan any other country in Africa. Sanctions against Ian Smith's time didwonders – if we couldn't buy it, we made it Look how industry,agriculture and mining shot ahead. Research stations were the envy ofthe world.Zimbabwe has the potential to rise again into a world-leading nation –Vote Mugabe out. – A FAITHFUL ZIMBABWEAN, by e-mail

Cuban-style colonisers | Letters – (9 March 2010)

Cuba replaces head of civil aviation

Posted on Tuesday, 03.09.10Cuba replaces head of civil aviationThe Associated Press

HAVANA — Cuba has replaced the official who oversees the country'sairlines and airports, a general who fought alongside andErnesto "Che" Guevara as a teenager, according to a terse statement inofficial media.

Rogelio Acevedo was replaced by Gen. Ramon Martinez Echevarria, thecurrent No. 2 in the Air Force air defense unit, according to anannouncement published Tuesday in the Communist Party newspaper Granma.

No reason was given for the change at the Civil Aeronatics Institute,which has played an important role in the expansion of Cuba's tourismindustry. The announcement said Acevedo, 68, would be given "othertasks," but it did not describe them or refer to Acevedo's background asa revolutionary.

Acevedo joined the fight against Fulgencio Batista when he was16, fighting in the Sierra Maestra mountains in a unit led by Guevara.His younger brother Enrique joined him, and wrote about the experiencein a book titled "The Shirtless Ones."

After the revolution triumphed in 1959, Acevedo was named first head ofa new national militia at age 18, and he later fought with Cuban forcesin Angola.

He is a longtime member of the Communist Party's Central Committee andhas run the Civil Aviation Institute since 1989.

Martinez studied in the former Soviet Union as a helicopter pilot, andis also a veteran of Angola. The Civil Aviation authority controls allair in Cuba.

Cuba replaces head of civil aviation – Americas AP – (9March 2010)

Google welcomes chance to export to Iran, Cuba

Posted on Tuesday, 03.09.10Google welcomes chance to export to Iran, CubaBy FRANK JORDANSAssociated Press Writer

GENEVA — A senior Google executive welcomed on Tuesday a U.S. decisionto relax restrictions on exporting communications services toIran, Sudan and Cuba.

Bob Boorstin, Google's director of policy communications, said the Websearch company would now be able to offer some of its other products inthose countries, such as the mapping satellite software Google Earth,photo management program Picasa and Internet chat client Google Talk.

"This is a great accomplishment," Boorstin told a meetingin Geneva. "We are hopeful this will help people like yourselves in thisroom and activists all over the world take a small step down what iscertainly a long road ahead."

The U.S. Treasury Department said the change to existing trade sanctionswas intended to help people "exercise their most basic rights" with thehelp of instant messaging service and e-mail.

Google itself has come under fire recently in countries where it operates.

Last month, an Italian court held three Google executives criminallyresponsible for violating the country's privacy laws for allowing avideo of an autistic teenager being bullied to be posted online.

In January, Google threatened to leave over attempts to snoop onChinese dissidents' Gmail accounts from inside the country. China'sgovernment denies any involvement.

Boorstin described the Italian court's decision as a form of "Internetcensorship" that would "encourage repressive regimes."

"From now on, you're criminally responsible for anything that appears onyour Web site," he said. "That's certainly going to have a chillingeffect on what people are willing to put up."

On China, Boorstin said Google was already offering a "a censored searchengine" through the domain to avoid meeting Chineserequirements for storing sensitive data about its users on servers inthe country.

"If and when we pull out of China and turn off, I'm afraidthat we will be taking away from the Chinese populace a tool that theyhave come to value," he said.

Boorstin encouraged human rights activists also to rely on platformsother than the Internet for transmitting information.

Google welcomes chance to export to Iran, Cuba – Technology (9 March 2010)

Russia, Cuba in power-generation venture

Russia, Cuba in power-generation venture

Inter RAO-UES, a Russian supplier of electric power, will open an officein Havana and begin a joint venture with the state-owned UniónEléctrica, the Russian media announced Tuesday.(logo) The joint venture, to be known as Generación Mariel, willundertake projects for the generation of thermal and hydroelectricpower. Its first project will be the modernization of the four-unitthermal power plant Máximo Gómez in the port city of Mariel, Havanaprovince, and the construction of two additional 100-megawatt plants.The first phase of the project will be to attract funding; the secondwill be the actual construction, expected to begin a year from now.In its website, Inter-RAO describes itself as a "power supplier with anumber of generation and distribution assets in Russia and abroad. [...]The company is a major and a leading exporter and importer ofelectric power in Russia."Its chairman is Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who has madeseveral trips to Cuba in the past couple of years.By having an office in Cuba, Inter-RAO can "support ongoing activitiesand effectively develop its business presence in Cuba and LatinAmerica," the company says in a press release.–Renato Pérez Pizarro.

Cuban Colada (9 March 2010)

La disidencia cubana se moviliza para salvar a Fariñas

La disidencia cubana se moviliza para salvar a FariñasEl opositor se encuentra muy débil después de dos semanas de huelga dehambreMAURICIO VICENT | La Habana 09/03/2010

La disidencia cubana se ha movilizado a todos los niveles para evitar undesenlace trágico en el caso de Guillermo Fariñas. El opositor, de 48años, se encuentra muy débil después de dos semanas de huelga de hambre,pero asegura que persistirá en la protesta hasta que las autoridadesexcarcelen a 26 presos políticos enfermos. "Estoy listo para inmolarme",advirtió ayer nuevamente. Entre tanto, un grupo de 10 disidentesmoderados envió una carta al brasileño, Luiz Inacio Lula DaSilva, pidiendo su mediación urgente dada "su privilegiada interlocucióncon las autoridades de Cuba".

Los activistas, incluido el socialdemócrata Manuel Cuesta Morúa,consideran que los buenos oficios de Lula, junto a su "credibilidad" y"liderazgo regional", pueden lograr que Fariñas abandone "el recursoextremo de la huelga de hambre", además de animar al Gobierno a que depasos en la dirección correcta. "La influencia regional de Brasil, suconfianza en el potencial transformador de la sociedad democrática y suconcepto de paciencia estratégica pueden ayudar a que Cuba comience acompartir los estándares mundiales en materia de ",asegura la carta, entregada a la embajada brasileña en La Habana.

Según los opositores, que acaban de constituir el Comité pro delos Prisioneros Políticos Cubanos Orlando Tamayo, es preocupantela "reacción" del Gobierno expresada a través del diario Granma-responsabilizando únicamente a Fariñas de lo que pueda suceder -. Ello,dicen, "hace temer el peor escenario luego de infructuosos intentos dedisuasión por parte de activistas cubanos y diplomáticos de la UniónEuropea".

La disidencia intenta convencerle

En los últimos días, miembros de la disidencia han viajado a Santa Clara( 270 kilómetros al este de La Habana), donde reside Fariñas, paratratar de convencerle de que abandone la huelga. El opositor ElizardoSánchez también pidió a la presidencia española de la Unión Europea queintentara persuadir a Fariñas. El consejero político de la embajada deEspaña, Carlos Pérez-Desoy, ha visitado ya en dos ocasiones a Fariñas,pero sin lograr que deponga su actitud.

El lunes, el diplomático le trasmitió una propuesta del Gobierno cubanoque contemplaba la posibilidad de que viajara a España para poner fin ala crisis. El la rechazó. "Yo no quiero el exilio. Lo quepropongo al Gobierno de Raúl Castro, si quiere acabar con esta huelga,es que deje salir a España a los presos políticos enfermos", dijo a EL PAIS.

Excarcelación incondicional

Por otro lado, coincidiendo con el séptimo aniversario de susdetenciones, 52 miembros del grupo de , condenados en 2003 a penasde hasta 28 años de cárcel, exigieron al Gobierno su excarcelaciónincondicional, así como una solución humanitaria para el caso Fariñas."Si el régimen lo dejara morir, estaría demostrando nuevamente sudesprecio total por la justicia y el respeto de los derechos humanos",dijeron los firmantes (43 de ellos en prisión y el resto con "licenciaextrapenal" por motivos de ).

Los presos – todos considerados de conciencia por AmnistíaInternacional- afirman que este aniversario se produce "cuando la crisisnacional se agudiza a niveles insoportables". A su juicio, eso prueba"sus planteamientos sobre la necesidad de cambios económicos, sociales ypolíticos", por lo que, dicen, ahora que Raúl Castro ha expuesto"reiteradamente problemas" que ellos habían denunciado, "resulta másabsurda y monstruosa" su permanencia en prisión.

La disidencia cubana se moviliza para salvar a Fariñas · ELPAÍ (9March 2010)

Autoridades dejarán morir a Guillermo Fariñas

Publicado el martes, 03.09.10Autoridades dejarán morir a Guillermo FariñasPor JUAN O. TAMAYO

El diario oficial cubano Granma informó el lunes que las autoridades dela isla permitirán que el Guillermo Fariñas muera si continúaen su huelga de hambre, alegando que no sería ético alimentarlo a lafuerza y que el gobierno ''no aceptará presiones ni chantajes''.

El artículo significa "mi sentencia de muerte'', dijo Fariñas, quienagregó que las autoridades cubanas están "preparando a la opiniónpública para mi muerte'' y será ''responsable de la manera en quetermine mi huelga de hambre''.

Un diplomático español que lo visitó el lunes dijo que Cuba estabadispuesto a permitir que abandonara el país con destino a España, peroFariñas dijo por teléfono desde su casa en Santa Clara que rechazó laoferta.

La dura postura de Cuba se produce en momentos en que Fariñas, unpsicólogo y periodista disidente de 48 años, lleva 13 días sin comer nitomar para exigir la de 26 presos políticos que alegaestán en mal estado de en las cárceles cubanas.

Fariñas, quien comenzó el ayuno un día después del fallecimiento delpreso político Orlando Tamayo después de una huelga de hambre de83 días, perdió el conocimiento durante dos horas y media la semanapasada, pero dijo que seguirá "hasta las últimas consecuencias''.

El artículo de Granma fue una mención poco común de un disidente porparte de los medios noticiosos controlados por el gobierno, quegeneralmente los considera ''mercenarios'' pagados por que tratan de socavar el sistema comunista.

"Existen principios bioéticos que obligan al médico a respetar ladecisión de una persona que ha decidido iniciar una huelga de hambre'',dijo Granma.

"Por tanto, de ningún modo puede forzársele a ingerir alimentos, comohacen cotidianamente las autoridades norteamericanas en las cárceles ycentros de tortura de Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib y Bagram, en violación delos derechos de los detenidos'', enfatizó el órgano oficial del PartidoComunista de Cuba.

"La sólo puede actuar cuando el paciente ha entrado en shock,fase en que como regla resulta tarde, lo que se llama punto de noretorno'', señaló Granma, agregando que Fariñas ya experimenta "unproceso de deterioro notable''.

"En este caso, no es la medicina la que debe resolver el problemaintencionalmente creado con el propósito de desacreditar nuestro sistemapolítico, sino el propio paciente y los apátridas, diplomáticosextranjeros y medios de prensa que lo manipulan'', añadió el periódico.

Elizardo Sánchez, activista de que vive en La Habana yquien ha exhortado a Fariñas a poner fin a la huelga de hambre, dijo quees responsabilidad del gobierno "ofrecerle de inmediato cuidados médicosinstitucionales, como debió haber hecho, y no hizo, con Zapata''.

Las autoridades estadounidenses en la prisión de Guantánamo parasospechosos de terrorismo han alimentado a la fuerza a varios detenidosque se declararon en huelga de hambre para protestar por su tratamiento,a pesar de las quejas de grupos de derechos humanos.

Las guías de la Asociación Médica de Estados Unidos y la AsociaciónMédica Mundial exigen que cuando un prisionero "es considerado por elmédico capaz de un juicio racional sobre las consecuencias de negarse acomer, no debe ser alimentado artificialmente''.

La guía de cinco páginas de la Policía de Inmigración y Aduanas deEstados Unidos acerca de cómo manejar a detenidos en huelga de hambreexige que sean supervisados de cerca por profesionales de la salud, enceldas de aislamiento, y que es necesario una orden judicial para quereciban "tratamiento médico involuntario'' como la alimentación forzada.

El artículo de Granma también criticó la "conducta antisocial'' deFariñas, expresando que atacó a dos personas, una de las cuales tuvo queser operada, antes de convertirse en "un agente al servicio de EstadosUnidos''.

Fariñas visita regularmente la misión diplomática de Estados Unidos enLa Habana, agregó Granma, "y algunas misiones diplomáticas europeas quedirigen la subversión en Cuba, de las cuales recibe instrucciones,dinero y abastecimientos''.

Fariñas, quien sirvió en una unidad de élite del ejército cubano enAngola, ha pasado 11 años en prisión. Fue condenado por última vez en el2002, a cinco años, pero fue liberado al año siguiente debido a su malasalud. Ha realizado una veintena de huelgas de hambre entre 1995 y el2006, algunas veces sólo durante unos días y otras durante meses, que lohan dejado muy delgado y en mal estado de salud.

La huelga de hambre de Fariñas y la muerte de Zapata han provocado unaavalancha de condenas internacionales por el historial de derechoshumanos de Cuba y han afectado gravemente los intentos de políticosestadounidenses y europeos de mejorar las relaciones con el gobierno deRaúl Castro.

"Se puede ver que la debilidad [del gobierno del BarackObama] no ha hecho nada por mejorar la situación en Cuba'', dijo elsenador republicano floridano George LeMieux en declaraciones el lunes ala Junta Editorial de The Miami Herald, citando el caso de Zapata y ladetención sin cargos de un subcontratista del gobierno federal en LaHabana durante los últimos tres meses.

Si Castro permite que Fariñas muera "sería una evidencia más de laimpiedad, obstinación e ilimitadas ansias de poder que han llevado lanación al desastre'', expresó una declaración emitida el lunes por másde 50 de disidentes encarcelados en la ola represiva del 2003conocida como la Primavera Negra de Cuba.

Los firmantes aseguraron que si el gobierno deja morir a Fariñas"estaría demostrando nuevamente su desprecio total por la justicia y elrespeto de los derechos humanos''.

Autoridades dejarán morir a Guillermo Fariñas – Cuba – March 2010)

Fight against Cuban regime knows no skin color

Posted on Tuesday, 03.09.10Fight against Cuban regime knows no skin color

In his Feb. 28 Other Views column, Blacks bear the brunt of Cuba'sbrutality, Carlos Moore has miscast the issue of race in the struggle torid Cuba of its totalitarian regime. He mentions the tragic death ofOrlando Tamayo and says that “he became the first black Cuban during 's 51-year regime to surrender his life insuch protest.''

He says nary a word about at least 10 other Cubans who have died inhunger strikes in Cuba's political prisons (Pedro Luis Boitel, RobertoLopez , Luis Alvarez Rios, Carmelo Cuadra Hernandez, EnriqueGarcia Cuevas, Reinaldo Cordero Izquierdo, Santiago de Jesus RocheValle, Nicolas Gonzalez Regueiro, Jose Barrios Perez and OlegarioCharlot Spileta).

Thousands have died in front of firing squads, trying to escape Cuba orlingered for decades in Cuba's prisons. Never has the Cuban exilecommunity referred to the issue of race of those killed or suffering inCuba during the last half century.

Moore attempts to lump in U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart's legitimateindignation over the dictatorship's latest crime against a politicalprisoner with Raúl Castro's pretend regrets about Zapata'sdeath, calling it a “double farce.'' Worse, still, he calls Diaz-Balarta “staunch supporter of the tiny white elite of wealth that wasoverthrown in 1959'' and claims the “has only hindered theability of black Cubans to improve their lot.''

He conveniently forgets all the votes Diaz-Balart, his brother Rep.Mario Diaz-Balart and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen have cast in Congress onbehalf of the Haitian community and their support for civil rights.

Finally, Moore says that blacks bear the brunt of Cuba's brutality, andthat those who shared Zapata's aspirations for a free Cuba should notallow “his brave, principled legacy to be hijacked — certainly not bythose who before 1959 despised him for being black and continue to do soin spite of their hypocritical tears.''

Yet Orlando Zapata Tamayo was not even born before 1959. Theoverwhelming majority of those jailed and killed by the Castro regimehave been white. Once again Moore chooses to ignore the facts.

Being white, black or mixed race has never been the issue in fightingthe regime. , democracy and for all Cubans is at theheart of our struggle.

CESAR PIZARRO, chairman, Facts About Cuban Exiles, Miami

Fight against Cuban regime knows no skin color – Letters to the Editor (9 March 2010)

Cuba takes tough stance on hunger striker Guillermo Fariñas

Posted on Tuesday, 03.09.10CUBACuba takes tough stance on hunger striker Guillermo FariñasCuban authorities indicated Monday that they had no plans to force-feedhunger striker Guillermo Fariñas.BY JUAN O. [email protected]

Cuba's Granma newspaper Monday indicated that GuillermoFariñas will be allowed to die if he continues on his hunger strike,saying it would be unethical to force-feed him and that the government“will not accept pressures or blackmails.''

The article amounts to “my death sentence,'' Fariñas said, adding thatCuban authorities are “preparing public opinion for my death,'' andwill be “responsible for whatever way my hunger strike ends.''

A Spanish diplomat who visited him Monday told him Cuba was willing tolet him leave for Madrid, an offer that he refused, Fariñas said byphone from his home in Santa Clara, 175 miles east of Havana.

Cuba's tough posture came as Fariñas, 48, a psychologist and dissident, went without and liquids for a 13th day to demand the of 26 political prisoners he says are in ill .

Fariñas, who launched his protest one day after political prisonerOrlando Tamayo died following an 83-day hunger strike, and passedout for about 2 ½ hours last week, said he would continue his fast“until the final consequence.''

Granma's article marked a rare mention of a dissident by thegovernment-controlled news media.

“There are bio-ethical principles that require a physician to respect aperson's decision to start a hunger strike,'' Granma said. “Therefore,there's no way he can be forced to take food, as U.S. authorities doregularly at the prisons and torture centers in Guantánamo, Abu Ghraiband Bagram.''

“Doctors can only act when the patient has gone into shock, a stage atwhich this is usually too late . . . what is called the point of noreturn,'' it said, adding that Fariñas already is experiencing a“process of notable deterioration.''

“In this case, it's not the medical field that should resolve a problemintentionally created with the goal of discrediting our politicalsystem, but [Fariñas] himself and those traitors, foreign diplomats andnews media that are manipulating him,'' Granma added.

Havana activist Elizardo Sánchez, who has urged Fariñas toend his hunger strike, said it's the government's responsibility “toimmediately offer him institutional medical care, as it should have doneand did not do with Zapata.''

U.S. authorities at the Guantánamo for terror suspects haveforce-fed a number of detainees who staged hunger strikes to protesttheir treatment, despite complaints from human rights groups.

Fariñas' hunger strike and Zapata's death triggered an avalanche offoreign condemnations of Cuba's human rights record and dealt a blow toU.S. and European politicians' push for improved relations with Cubanleader Raúl Castro's government.

“You can see with [the Obama administration] being soft on Cuba hasdone nothing to improve the situation in Cuba,'' Florida Republican Sen.George LeMieux told The Miami Herald's Editorial Board on Monday, citingthe Zapata case and Cuba's detention of a U.S. government subcontractorin Havana for the past three months, without charges.

Cuba takes tough stance on hunger striker Guillermo Fariñas – Cuba (9 March 2010)

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