Mariela Castro hopes Cuban-U.S. relations can normalize in Obama second term

Mariela Castro hopes Cuban-U.S. relations can normalize in Obama second term
By BYRON TAU |
6/2/12 2:19 PM EDT

Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban head of state Raul Castro, said that she hoped Cuban-U.S. relations could normalize if President Obama wins a second term.

In a forthcoming interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour shared with POLITCO, Castro was asked about the possibilities for political reconciliation between the two Cold War adversaries in a possible Obama second term.

“I believe that Obama is a fair man and Obama needs greater support to be able to take this decision. If Obama counted on the full support of the American people, then we can normalize the relationships; we can have better relations than what we had under President Carter,” Castro said.

Obama relaxed some of the rules governing travel and remittances to Cuba in 2009 but the sanctions regime put into place after Castro’s 1959 Communist takeover has largely kept American visitors and businesses off the island.

Castro also told Amanpour that she supports a second Obama term, given the field.

“As a citizen of the world, I would like him to win,” Castro said. “Seeing the candidates, I prefer Obama.”

The State Departmet recently issued Castro a visa to attend a conference in San Francisco — prompting outrage from conservatives who accused the Obama administration of going soft on a regime that abused human rights. Obama supporters, however, noted that the George W. Bush administration also granted Castro several visas to visit.

The issue of Cuban sanctions and the Castro family has some resonance in the heavily conservative anti-Castro Cuban exile community — mostly based in the battleground state of Florida.

LA LUCHA CONTINUA in Vieques

Join The ProLibertad Freedom Campaign for a special conversation with long time Vieques community activist and former political prisoner Ismael Guadalupe Ortiz!

Come hear updates on:

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Friday June 15, 2012 at 6:30pm

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The people stand against NATO

Originally posted by A.N.S.W.E.R

“NATO: Shut it Down! Wall Street: Shut it Down! Homeland Security: Shut it Down!” That forceful chant rang out as protesters, many thousands strong, marched on the NATO Summit on May 20 in Chicago.

Responding with determination in the face of an organized campaign of government threats and intimidation aimed at anti-NATO protesters, an impressive number of young people, union members, antiwar organizations and community members filled the streets to demand “U.S./NATO Out of Afghanistan Now!” during the opening day of the NATO Summit.

The Coalition Against NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda (CANG8) estimates the crowd size as about 15,000.

In the week leading up to the NATO Summit, thousands of people marched and rallied in Chicago. The actions included a large rally of nurses demanding higher taxes on the rich and a march on Mayor Emanuel’s house, 1,000 people strong, which demanded “Health Care not Warfare!”

People came in buses, by train and by car caravan from all over the country to take a stand in Chicago against imperialist war and capitalist austerity.

In a moving display of solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and the Middle East at the end of the march, Afghanistan and Iraq veterans took off their medals and hurled them toward the NATO Summit grounds. One of those who returned his medals, Marine Vince Emmanuelli, said: “Our enemies are right here and we look at them every day. … They are the millionaires and billionaires who control this planet and we’ve had enough of it.” (WBEZ Chicago)

Months-long campaign against protesters

Though the military machines of NATO are the greatest purveyors of violence in the world, local and federal law enforcement agencies and the media engaged in a months-long attack campaign against protesters and protest groups.

The Chicago chapter of the National Lawyers Guild set up a 24-hour hotline to provide support for people who were arrested before and during the NATO protest.

Prior to the May demonstration, the NLG Chicago chapter reported:

“More than two-dozen people had been arrested so far in the lead up to the NATO summit. At least 7 arrestees in addition to the ones with terrorism-related charges are currently in custody.

“During a Wednesday night house raid, police broke down the doors of multiple apartment units with guns drawn and searched residences without a warrant or consent. In addition to 9 arrests made that night, NLG attorneys believe that two undercover police or confidential informants were arrested with the others and were later released. Of the 9 activists arrested, 6 were released without any charges despite being shackled for at least 18 hours in solitary confinement and denied access to attorneys.”

At the May 20 mass march, a police mob surrounded and brutally attacked the demonstration as it was winding down, swinging their clubs at people’s heads and injuring many dozens. At least 45 people were arrested. Among those injured were ministers, community activists, journalists and others who tried to rescue people from police.

‘The people will not be bullied or silenced by the police and government’

The ANSWER Coalition in Chicago went all out to build the March on the NATO Summit, both through street outreach and social media outlets, and had a big presence at the protest with banners and placards and large amplified sound that unified large numbers of marchers with booming chants. The banners and placards read: “No War on Iran! Hands off Syria!”, “Troops Home Now! Money for Jobs and Education!”, “Unite the 99%: Fight Racism!” and “U.S./NATO Out of Afghanistan Now!”

Asked what she thought of the protest, ANSWER organizer Ymelda Viramontes said: “Today’s protest shows that the people can and will resist the government and Wall Street’s attempts to bully and silence us. The number of people that came out into the streets of downtown today to show solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, Iran and Syria and demand no U.S. or NATO intervention—that’s a good indication that we can build a powerful movement against war and racism right here in the U.S.”

The people stand against NATO

US Prize Awarded to Cuban Poet Nancy Morejon

By Prensa Latina

Cuban writer and poet Nancy Morejon said she was surprised for the work/life award granted to her recently in San Francisco, California, by the Latin American Studies Association (LASA).

“It took me by surprise; I did not expect it,” the author of “Piedra Pulida” (Polished Stone) told Prensa Latina.

She said it is not a book or an essay; it is an important award that recognizes an author’s career.

Born on August 7, 1944, Morejon is one of the most prestigious writers and poets in the Island, and has devoted part of her career to study Caribbean literature and the work by Nicolas Guillen.

She is a full member of the Cuban Academy of Language since 1999, and was awarded the National Literature Prize in 2001.

She also is bestowed with the Officer of the National Order of Merit of France.

Considered the largest association around the world, LASA groups figures and institutions devoted to Latin American studies. Its main mission is promoting intellectual debate, research and teaching about the region.

 

US Prize Awarded to Cuban Poet Nancy Morejon

Contemporary LGBT rights in Cuba with Mariela CASTRO‏

Tuesday, May 29, 2012, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
PROGRAM LOCATIONS:
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
New York, NY 10018-2788

Fully accessible to wheelchairs
First come, first served – Seating is limited and will be first come first served.
Initial funding of the LGBT Initiative provided by Time Warner Inc.

Mariela Castro¡Saludos! Greetings!

The program with Mariela Castro and Rea Carey on May 29 is Sold Out!’ . . . and with all the negative publicity by the right it is important that those of us who did not get to register come out to show our support/solidarity with this important event.

Say ¡Presente! on May 29th! Bring your solidarity, flags, posters, etc. as we gather in front of the NYC Public Library.

Abrazos Solidarios,

Frank Velgara

 

In 2010 the Cuban government began providing sex reassignment surgery free of charge as part of their universal healthcare. This was the result of several years of work by the Cuban National Center for Sex Education under the leadership of Mariela Castro Espín, niece of Fidel Castro and daughter of current Cuban president Raúl Castro. The current developments in LGBT rights in Cuba are remarkable given the discrimination suffered by gays, lesbians, and transgender people in Cuba in the 20th century, as well as comparison with current LGBT movements in the U.S. and abroad.

Please join us on Tuesday May 29th at 7pm in the Trustees Room of the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building as Mariela Castro Espín and Rea Carey, Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, discuss the current international context of LGBT rights, including issues of sexual identity and orientation in contemporary Cuba.

Mariela Castro Espín is the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX). She was President of the Cuban Society for the Multidisciplinary Study of Sexuality (SOCUMES) from 2000 to 2010. She is president of the Cuban Multidisciplinary Centre for the Study of Sexuality, president of the National Commission for Treatment of Disturbances of Gender Identity, member of the Direct Action Group for Preventing, Confronting, and Combatting AIDS, and an executive member of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS). She is also the director of the journal Sexología y Sociedad, a magazine of Sexology edited by her own National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX). She is the author of 9 books, published in Cuba and abroad, among them Transexuality in Cuba (Havana, CENESEX Publishing House, 2008). In 2009 she was awarded with the Public Service Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), and in 2012 she received the Eureka Award for Academic Excellence, given by the World Council of University Academy (COMAU).She is married with 3 children.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, is one of the most prominent leaders in the U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights movement. Carey, who came to the Task Force in 2004 as deputy executive director, has served as executive director since 2008.  Through her leadership, Carey has advanced a vision of fairness and justice for LGBT people and their families that is broad, inclusive and unabashedly progressive. Prior to her work with the Task Force, Carey worked extensively in HIV/AIDS prevention and in the LGBT community as one of the co-founders of Gay Men and Lesbians Opposing Violence and the founding executive director of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition. She has also served as an advisor to major donors and foundations, and has served on the advisory boards for such wide-ranging publications as Teen People magazine and the Georgetown University Journal of Gender and the Law. She serves on the Advisory Board of theLGBTQ Policy Journal, of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government

Contemporary LGBT rights in Cuba with Mariela CASTRO‏

Spain Calls for End of US Embargo against Cuba

By EFE

Spain considers it “necessary to end the trade, economic and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States” since it “violates the basic rules of international trade,” the Spanish government said in response to a question posed in Parliament. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government was responding to a question posed last week in Parliament by United Left, or IU, spokesman Jose Luis Centella.The government’s written response noted that the U.S. embargo against Cuba “has been condemned on different occasions by the United Nations General Assembly.”

IU included the government’s written response in a statement.

Rajoy’s government also noted that Spain has “unequivocally” supported condemnations of the embargo at the U.N. and other forums.

Centella said he was satisfied with the government’s clear “and forceful” response, adding that he expected “greater activity” at the European Union and United Nations to end the embargo on the basis of “the international legality broken by the blockade.”

Cuban official talks about Alan Gross



Josefina Vidal of Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, clarifies issues regarding Alan Gross, and the Cuban Five
CNN Interview of Thursday, May 10
on “The Situation Room”

Dear Friends of the Cuban Five:

The U.S. government and media have distorted the facts surrounding the case of Alan Gross, who was arrested in Cuba in December 2009 while carrying out destabilization efforts inside Cuba, as an employee of the CIA-front organization U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Gross is serving a 15-year sentence.

After Wolf Blitzer of CNN conducted a May 9 telephone interview with Alan Gross, in which false claims were made against Cuba, Cuba’s ambassador to the United States in Washington DC, Jorge Bolaños, issued a letter calling for an opportunity for Cuba to state its position, as well as Cuba’s willingness to dialogue on all issues with the U.S. government.

On Thursday, May 10, Josefina Vidal, director of the North American department of Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, was interviewed on CNN’s Situation Room, by Wolf Blitzer. Vidal’s answers to Blitzer’s questions on various themes related to U.S.-Cuba relations, are enlightening and informative.

Written by National Committee To Free The Cuban Five

 

U. S. government’s Radio and TV Marti call Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega a lackey

By William Booth, Published: May 5

MEXICO CITY — Criticism of the leader of the Catholic Church in Cuba, who has been negotiating with the communist government to expand religious and political freedom, intensified last week when the head of Radio and TV Marti called the archbishop of Havana a lackey who is colluding with an oppressive regime.

The stinging editorial against Cardinal Jaime Ortega — signed by Radio and TV Marti’s director, Carlos Garcia-Perez — is significant because Marti is a U.S. government agency, with its board of directors appointed by the White House and its policies coordinated with the State Department to direct messages to Cubans.

Some analysts said the editorial could undermine Ortega’s position in Cuba and they wondered whether it signaled a lack of support for the Church’s delicate position on the communist-run island.

Marti broadcasts, according to spokeswoman Lynne Weil, “are editorially independent, although supported by U.S. taxpayer dollars. Their editorials, unless otherwise stated, represent the views of the broadcasters only and not necessarily those of the U.S. government.”

Weil said she did not know when the State Department saw the editorial or whether there was any discussion of its content.

“I would suggest that this is equivalent to a U.S. government statement and that people may conclude, rightly or wrongly, that this is a U.S. government position,” said Phil Peters, a Cuba analyst at the Lexington Institute.

The cardinal has been hailed by some for his role in the freeing of political prisoners and for creating a small but relatively safe space for citizens to complain about the Cuban government, including its tight immigration and economic policies. Cuba’s Catholic magazines contain some of the most lively, as well as pointed, criticism of the government.

But Ortega has been hammered in the Cuban exile community and by members of the South Florida congressional delegation, who say he is an appeaser who enables the Castro brothers and prolongs their rule.

Many activists voiced disappointment that Ortega did not publicly push for human rights or defend dissidents during the recent visit to Cuba by Pope Benedict XVI.

Ortega also came under fire for statements he made at an April 24 Harvard University panel, where he described the 13 dissidents who sought to occupy a Havana church a few days before the pope arrived as “criminals” and “people of low culture.”

The dissidents, who included a mentally ill person, had said they hoped to push the church to engage the pope on human rights issues. Ortega had state security officers remove them.

Guillermo I. Martinez, a columnist with the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, recently called Ortega a bootlicker. The popular Cuban American blog Babalu called Ortega “a truly despicable man.”

Ortega has said that he gets attacked from all sides.

“Perhaps this takes time and is a sort of martyrdom all Christians, including myself as pastor, must undergo,” the cardinal said at Harvard. “That is what it means to give your life for the sheep.”

In his editorial, aired on Radio and TV Marti and published on the broadcaster’s Web site, Garcia-Perez, a Cuban-American lawyer from Puerto Rico, accused Ortega of speaking with “scorn and arrogance” of the 13 dissidents.

“This attitude of Ortega just goes to show his political collusion with the government and his willingness to follow the official line,” he wrote. “This lackey attitude demonstrates a profound lack of understanding and compassion toward the human reality of these children of God.”

El Nuevo Herald in Miami contacted several of the 13 dissidents, who denied they had criminal records.

“I can only say that the 13 are a perfect reflection of Cuban society, in which there is everything,” Havana human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez told the newspaper.

Jorge Dominguez, the Harvard professor who invited the archbishop to speak, said: “Cardinal Ortega is a good man. Calling him a lackey is beyond belief.”

Dominguez added, “It is amazing that this comes from a U.S. government broadcaster.”

The professor noted that as a young priest, Ortega was sent to a reeducation camp and forced to do manual labor, as the church struggled in a state that had declared itself officially atheist.

“Who freed the political prisoners in Cuba? Not the European Union. Not the U.S. government. And not Radio and TV Marti. It was Ortega who convinced Raul Castro to let them out,” Dominguez said.

He added, however, that Ortega’s condemnation of the dissidents was unfair. “A lot of people have criminal records in Cuba, but you have no way of knowing if they have records simply because the state has targeted them for their political activities,” he said.