The new life of Cuban oppositionists in Spain

By Salim Lamrani

From the blog La pupila insomne (The sleepless eye)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Léelo en Español

José María Aznar with former prisoners and family on their arrival in Spain.

At the petition of the Vatican and the Spanish government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Cuban Catholic Church, headed by Cardinal Jaime Ortega, mediated with the authorities in Havana, an intervention that led in 2010 and 2011 to the release of 127 prison inmates, 52 of whom were considered “political” by Amnesty International [1].

According to that human rights organization, there are no prisoners of conscience in Cuba [2]. The Cuban Catholic Church shares this viewpoint [3]. Some sectors accused the Cuban government, the Catholic Church and the Zapatero government of forcing those people into exile. Several Western media outlets repeated that version [4]. The Spanish Popular Party (rightist) denounced “the expatriation” of the Cuban oppositionists [5]. Nevertheless, that version continues to resist any analysis. In effect, of the 127 persons released in the framework of the agreement between Havana, the Vatican and Madrid, 12 chose to remain in Cuba. Laura Pollan, the then-spokeswoman for the opposition group Ladies in White, and a bitter detractor of the Cuban government, spoke clearly on the subject: “Nobody has forced any prisoner to leave the country. Whoever says the opposite is lying.”

Similarly, several dissidents affirmed that at no time did the Cuban authorities ask them to leave the country as a precondition to their release [6].

Fernando Ravsberg, BBC correspondent in Havana, also denied that assertion. Several oppositionists who chose to leave the country told him that “they could have remained on the island if they had so wished. They assured me that at no time was departure abroad imposed upon them as a precondition for release” [7].

The painful reality in Spain

Far from finding a prosperous nation, the Cuban dissidents were strongly impacted by the economic crisis that besets Spain. Most of them have no jobs, no resources and sometimes no roof over their heads. The Red Cross shelters take care of them. According to the Spanish press, “one year after their arrival, the exiles are losing government aid and find themselves without any resources, because a huge majority of them have not found stable employment” [8].

The new right-wing Spanish government decided to eliminate the aid granted to the Cuban dissidents one year after their arrival and refused to extend it 12 months, as originally planned, for economic reasons [9].

In fact, Spain spent an average of 2,000 euros a month per person, i.e., more than 18 million euros, to cover the needs of the 115 oppositionists and their 648 relatives for one year. The cost was deemed to be too high in a country with 5 million unemployed citizens, about 25 percent of the active population [10].

Nevertheless, the Popular Party (PP) did not hesitate to use the Cubans in its political war against Havana and took four of them to Brussels to testify and defend the need to maintain the European Union’s Common Position toward Cuba, which limits political, diplomatic and cultural relations. However, the PP was ungrateful when it halted the financial assistance to them, leaving the Cuban oppositionists with the bitter feeling that they had been used [11].

Since their arrival in Spain, the oppositionists had ceaselessly expressed their support for the PP and criticized Zapatero’s PSOE [Socialist Workers Party], which had helped to release them [12]. Then, the Cuban dissidents decided to go on a hunger strike to protest against the PP’s decision and express their “total abandonment.” “It’s the only alternative we’ve got left,” said one of them, sitting under a tent outside the Spanish Foreign Ministry building [13].

Far from being attended by the Spanish authorities, the hunger strikers were “brutally” removed by the police and told to leave the public square [13]. Dawuimis Santana denounced the police brutality inflicted on them: “They were dragged along the ground, struck on the face and arms; one of them has a broken nose.” Four of them were arrested [15].

The forces of order usually are severe with demonstrators of every kind and made no exception with the Cuban oppositionists. Some observers said that the Popular Party, habitually very willing to come to the defense of the Cuban dissidents and denounce the “oppression” of which they were victims on the island, was this time very discreet when it came to the behavior of the Madrid municipal police toward them [16].

Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo, the Spanish Foreign Minister, acknowledged that the Cubans’ case was not “simple” and they were “in a difficult situation.” But he rejected any idea of extending their financial aid in view of the economic crisis afflicting the country. At most, he promised to speed up the process of validation of university diplomas [17].

Sometimes, the feeling of abandonment that the Cuban oppositionists experience in Spain takes tragic turns. Albert Santiago du Bouchet, who lived in the Canary Islands since his release, committed suicide on 4 April 2012 in response to the Spanish authorities eliminating his monthly cash allotment [18]. The Spanish government rejected any “direct link” between the suicide and the decision to end the financial aid. Still, his family and several friends stated that his precarious economic situation was the principal cause of the drama [19].

Return to Cuba?

Contrary to all predictions, several dissidents declared their intention of returning to Cuba if they couldn’t travel to the United States, accusing Spain of abandoning them [20]. “It’s better to be in Cuba than on the street here,” said Ismara Sanchez [21]. “I’ve been on the street since March 31,” unable to afford a room, complained Idalmis Nunez. “Things are difficult now; we have dragged our families far from home and we can’t feed them. For the first time in my life, my conscience weighs on me. I’m afraid,” admitted another oppositionist [22].

“The children have no more food, no milk. The children can’t go to school because they don’t have money for transportation,” said oppositionist Bermudez [23]. Orlando Fundora and his wife had to face such difficult living conditions that they even missed their homeland. In an interview with the BBC, Fundora unexpectedly confessed: “We ate better in Cuba [24].”

In reality, the decision to return to Cuba is not so surprising. Despite the nation’s limited resources, the difficulties and daily vicissitudes created by the economic blockade the United States has imposed since 1960, which affects all categories of the population and is the main obstacle to the nation’s development, the government of Havana has built a relatively effective system of social protection that satisfies the population’s basic needs.

Thus, despite the troubles, 85 percent of the Cubans own their homes. They also benefit from free access to education, health care and cultural activities. The ration card allows them to receive each month, in addition to their salary, a basic food basket that’s sufficient for two weeks. That way, nobody is left to his own devices and the state looks after the more vulnerable strata of society.

For that reason, despite the limits in natural resources, in Cuba you won’t find homeless people or abandoned children on the streets. According to UNICEF, Cuba is the only Third World country without malnourished children [25].

In the end, Europe was not the Eldorado promised to the Cuban oppositionists. They had to face the brutal economic reality of the Iberian peninsula and discovered that the most vulnerable were swiftly left to their own fate.

They also realized that their island is not the anteroom to Hell, despite the daily problems, and that Cuba’s system of social protection takes care of the weakest citizens.

The new life of Cuban oppositionists in Spain

[1] Amnesty International, “Cuba, Annual Report 2012”,
2012. http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/cuba/report-2012
(consulted on 2 July 2012).
[2] Ibid.
[3] Juan O. Tamayo, “Tense meeting of the Ladies in
White with the Cuban Church”, El Nuevo Herald, 25 May
2012.
[4] Axel Gylden, “In forced exile, a Cuban dissident kills
himself “, L’Express, 7 April 2012.
[5] Publico, “Aznar affirms that Cuban prisoners were `expatriated’ to
Spain”, 28 July 2010.
[6] Fernando Ravsberg, “The Catholic-communist
conspiracy”, BBC, 23 June 2011.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/mundo/cartas_desde_cuba/2011
/06/la_conspiracion_catolico-comun.html (site consulted
on 14 June 2012).
[7] Ibid.
[8] Carmen Perez-Lanzac, “Former political prisoners
who found refuge in Spain complain after losing their
aid”, El Pais, 11 April 2012.
[9] Carmen Perez-Lanzac, “Between 2010 and 2011,
767 Cubans arrived in Spain: 115 prisoners and their
relatives”, El Pais, 10 April 2010.
[10] Joaquin Gil, “The government pays 2,000 euros per
month for each of the 762 dissidents and relatives”, El
Pais, 13 July 2011.
[11] Jeronimo Andreu, “Former political prisoners
brought to Spain by Foreign Ministry one year ago lose
public assistance”, El Pais, 9 April 2012.
[12] EFE, “Cuban oppositionists ask Spain for a `more
forceful’ attitude toward Castroism”, 20 January 2012.
[13] EFE, “Ten former Cuban prisoners begin a hunger strike in
Madrid”, 13 April 2012.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Europa Press, “Arrest of four former Cuban
prisoners who protested outside the Foreign Ministry in
Madrid is decried”, 23 May 2012.
[16] EFE, “Spanish Popular Party demands Cuba
to stop oppressing the dissident movement”, 20 January
2012.
[17] Carmen Perez-Lanzac, “Former political
prisoners who sought refuge in Spain protest after
losing their aid”, El Pais, 11 April 2012.
[18] El Pais, “Former Cuban political prisoner dies; he arrived
in Spain last year”, 6 April 2012.
[19] Europa Press, “Spain sees no `direct link’ between
a dissident’s suicide and the end of aid”, 9 April 2012.
[20] Juan O. Tamayo, “Former Cuban political prisoners experience
nightmare in Spain”, El Nuevo Herald, 17 April 2012.
[21] Rios Biot, “`Better to be in Cuba than on the
street here'”, El Pais, 13 April 2012.
[22] Jeronimo Andreu, “Former political prisoners
brought to Spain by Foreign Ministry one year ago lose
public assistance”, El Pais, 9 April 2012.
[23] EFE, “Former Cuban prisoners denounce in Madrid
their `total abandonment'”, 10 April 2012.
[24] Fernando Ravsberg, “The Catholic-communist
conspiracy”, BBC, op. cit. [25] UNICEF, Progress for
children. A report card on nutrition, 2011.

Little White School Bus Makes it to Texas

It has been three years since Casa de las Americas purchased the little white school bus that you see in the picture for the Santos Cruz School in Puerto Esperanza, Pinar del Rio, Cuba. It is a school for children with special needs that was partially destroyed by Hurricanes Ike and Paloma back in 2009 . Franklin Flores and Jaime Mendieta of Casa de las Americas joined a contingency of construction workers organized by IFCO to make repairs to the school. During their time there they learned of the schools’ need for transportation for the children between their homes and the school. It is then that the idea to offer this gift to the children and the families of the Santos Cruz School became a goal.

The money to purchase the bus came from the generous contributions of many friends and members of Casa that have worked and attended various Casa fund raising events. Before its delivery, the bus needed some TLC and repairs, not to mention all the necessary paperwork for all sorts of permits. Pictured beside the bus, from left to right, are Franklin Flores, Tom Whitney (from IFCO) and Jaime Mendieta. Together they drove across many states between New York and Texas. “The bus made it”, exclaimed Franklin when they arrived on Sunday, June 15, 2012. Their road trip began on Saturday, June 9th and it took a little over a week to get there.

Along the way, they met many wonderful people that offered them room and board or simply welcomed a conversation about Cuba because their knowledge of it is limited and not always accurate given the cold war that exists between the two nations. According to the three companeros, the experience of driving through so many small towns offered repeated opportunities to confirm that there are many good people that live in this country and many intelligent and just minded folks that understand that the time for Cuba and United States to have a peaceful relationship is long overdue.
Casa de las Americas is particularly grateful to Gail Walker and Luis Barrios, the Co-directors of IFCO for allowing us to join the Pastors for Peace caravan and ensuring that Casa’s little white school bus makes it to its final intended destination.

It’s time to lift the U.S. imposed blockade on Cuba, grant the wives and families of the Cuban Five visas to see their incarcerated loved ones, Free the Cuban Five, and the U.S. to have peace with Cuba.

“Little White School Bus Makes it to Texas” by Nancy Cabrero

“Hacer es la mejor forma de decir” Jose Marti

Nancy Cabrero
President
Casa de las Americas

Planes subversivos contra Cuba

Por: Arthur González, PUBLICADO EN LA PAGINA AUCA EN CAYO HUESO

El Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos hizo público el aumento del financiamiento de veinte millones u/s para sus programas subversivos a través de las nuevas tecnologías de la informática y comunicaciones, con el trasnochado sueño de derrocar la Revolución , bajo el eufemismo de “promover la democracia en Cuba”. Según declaraciones de Mark López, vice administrador asistente para Latinoamérica y el Caribe de la Agencia Internacional para el Desarrollo (USAID), que todo el mundo sabe es una organización pantalla de la CIA , “En espíritu, y en dinero, hay un repunte” en los gastos de tecnología para aumentar el flujo de información hacia Cuba”.

Se asegura que la secretaria de Estado, Hillary Clinton ha impulsado una campaña para apoyar la libertad de Internet a nivel global, con el fin de acelerar “el cambio político, social y económico” y derrotar los esfuerzos del gobierno cubano por controlar la información. La administración del presidente Barack Obama “ayudará a la gente en un ambiente opresivo para la Internet a evadir los filtros, a estar un paso más allá de los censores, de los hackers, y de los matones que los golpean o los encarcelan por lo que dicen en línea”, declaró la Sra. Clinton este año.

El dinero será administrado por tres entidades del Departamento de Estado: la Oficina de Latinoamérica y el Caribe (LAC) de la USAID ; la Oficina de la Democracia , los Derechos Humanos y el Trabajo (DRL); y Asuntos del Hemisferio Occidental (WHA). El mayor bloque individual de dinero es el de $ 4 millones u/s que LAC gastará en un programa de “democracia digital” para estimular el uso de “tecnología innovadora y aumentar el flujo de información libre de censura a la isla, desde ella y dentro de ella.

Para evitar otro incidente como el de Alan Gross, el programa evitará equipos sofisticados como teléfonos satelitales y en su lugar usará solamente artículos disponibles en la isla, tales como computadoras, DVDs, unidades USB y teléfonos celulares, dijo un empleado del Congreso enterado del caso. Seis de los otros nueve programas para Cuba, incluidos en la carta, mencionan también la tecnología. López dijo que “es difícil cuantificar el aumento de un año al otro en fondos para tecnología debido a que los programas se extienden a varios años”.

Por supuesto que estos planes confirman las permanentes denuncias de Cuba sobre las acciones de la diplobloguera Yoani Sánchez Cordero, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, el llamado Estado de SATS, engendro dirigido por Antonio González Rodiles, que son personajillos al servicio de los norteamericanos y que de auténticos no tienen ni el nombre; los dirigen los diplomáticos norteamericanos y otros aliados europeos para que cumplan las misiones fabricadas en los EE.UU. Sobre estos señores muchos cubanos denunciamos recientemente la fabricación del llamado Festival de Click, que persigue lo mismo que plantea la carta del Sr. López, el que no puede ocultar las verdaderas intensiones de estos blogueros lacayos de la oficina.

¿Cómo reaccionaría el Departamento de Estado si Cuba organizara algo similar para los Ocupantes de Wall Street o a los Indignados europeos? ¿Aceptarían plácidamente esa injerencia en sus asuntos internos?, por supuesto que lo verían como una declaración de guerra y tomarían fuertes medidas incluidas las militares.

En mi consideración, lo mejor que han podido hacer los yanquis es divulgar este nuevo presupuesto para su Guerra Sucia contra Cuba, porque sin proponérselo nos dan la razón y dejan sin hoja de parra a Yoani y su tropa, demostrándose una vez más como trabajan los Servicios Especiales Norteamericanos cuando pretenden derrocar un gobierno que no se pliega a sus mandatos.

No importa cuánto dinero distribuyan, mientras más mejor, pues al final todo se queda dentro de la Isla , lo mismo que los medios técnicos que envían. NO aprenden las lecciones de 53 años. Así les pasó con las bandas de alzados que organizaron en las montañas del Escambray en los años 60, y con las redes de la CIA creadas dentro de las ciudades, todas fueron desbaratadas y los medios y dinero fueron a parar al Estado cubano.

Después en los 80 sucedió lo mismo con otras organizaciones contrarrevolucionarias y los 30 supuestos agentes de la CIA , sirvieron para una denuncia pública por la TV cubana, que desprestigió a esa Agencia de Inteligencia y puso en la palestra a cientos de oficiales, siendo el descalabro más grande de un Servicio de Inteligencia en el Mundo, sin precedentes históricos. Lo mismo ocurrió en los 90 con algunos elementos supuestamente contrarrevolucionarios que respondían a la seguridad cubana y más recientemente el 2011 otra media docena de agentes cubanos que se burlaron de la CIA , USAID y FUPAD.

Por tanto, es evidente que no aprenden la lección o quizás no les importe porque al fin y al cabo el presupuesto millonario incrementa los bolsillos de muchos de sus funcionarios.

Planes subversivos contra Cuba

Actor Mike Farrell Sends a Message to President Obama

Originally posted by International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5

This July 5, the actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Mike Farrell, joins the international campaign of the 5th of each month for 5 Cubans and today sent by postal mail to President Obama the following letter:

July 5, 2012

Dear President Obama,

Though I fear your staff protects you from letters such as this, I write in the hope that one of our voices leaks through. I am one of thousands of people around the world who ask that you make a humanitarian gesture that is also a meaningful step to reduce international tensions: grant Executive Clemency and cause the release of the Cuban 5, who have been wrongly held in our prisons for nearly 14 years.

Together with a number of colleagues in the arts who speak as Actors and Artists United for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, I ask for the release of these five men: Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Rene González Sehwerert, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez and Fernando González Llort.

Release them because they are sons, husbands, brothers, poets, pilots, college graduates and artists who have committed no crime against the United States.

Release them because they came to this country unarmed and never posed a threat of any kind to US National Security.

Release them because they came here only to monitor the activities of violent Cuban exiles who, operating from bases in Miami of which our government is well aware, were planning violent actions against innocent people in Cuba.

Release them because they were trying to prevent more brutal acts against their country and save innocent lives.

As you’re aware, Mr. President, yesterday was our Independence Day, a day many politicians use to celebrate our nation’s laws, its history, and its people. For many of these same politicians, supporting the so-called “war on terror” is used as a way to demonstrate their patriotism.

That being so, it is an act of profound hypocrisy for our government to continue the incarceration of these heroic men who put themselves at risk to stop the very terrorism we claim to find so abhorrent.

Therefore, I respectfully ask that you to reverse this mockery of justice and use the power conferred on you by our Constitution to do the right thing and allow the Cuban 5 to return home to their loved ones.

Sincerely,

Mike Farrell

READ THE ORIGINAL LETTER

Mike Farrell is a member of U.S. Actors and Artists United for the Freedom of the Cuban 5

REMEMBER: THE 5TH OF JULY FOR THE CUBAN 5

NEXT THURSDAY JULY 5TH, CALL THE WHITE HOUSE AND JOIN THE WORLDWIDE DEMAND FOR THE FREEDOM OF THE FIVE.

DIFFERENT WAYS TO REACH THE WHITE HOUSE

By phone: 202-456-1111

If calling from outside the United States, dial first the International Area Code
+ 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-1111

By Fax: 202-456-2461

If fax is sent from outside the United States, dial first the International Area
Code + 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-2461

To send a telegram

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
EE.UU.

July 5 for the Cuban 5, Actor Mike Farrell Sends a Message to President Obama

ROBERTO GONZALEZ, PRESENTE!

La muerte de Roberto Gonzales nos llena de mucha tristeza a todos los que conocemos de su arduo trabajo que como abogado llevo a cabo por la liberación de los 5 héroes cubanos. Los compañeros de Casa de las Américas de NYC, queremos expresarle nuestras condolencias tanto al pueblo cubano como a su esposa, hijas y demás familiares por tan valiosa pérdida.
Que las fuerzas positivas del cosmos estén del lado de todos en este momento de dolor.

‘’El verdadero ser no mira de qué lado se vive mejor, sino de qué lado está el deber’’, el compañero Roberto González cumplió a cabalmente con este pronunciamiento de nuestro apóstol, José Martí.

Casa de las Américas de NY,
Nancy Cabrero
Presidenta

Story below, Originally posted by International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5

June 22- Roberto González Sehwerert, brother of René died this morning.

Roberto fought relentlessly since the first day that the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban 5 was made public. As a lawyer he made extraordinary contributions to this cause, denouncing the case brilliantly throughout the world. Thanks to his active participation, he was able to gather the solidarity of many lawyers, jurists and supportive friends from all over the world.

We send the warmest embrace to his loving wife Sarita, his sons Roberto and René, his parents Irma and Candido and his nieces Irmita and Ivette.

For his brother René, he will be forced to be without the embrace of his loved ones in this time of enormous pain. While the early departure of Roberto hurts us deeply, the unfair imprisonment and mandatory exile of Rene hurts us too.

The pain of such a good and dignified person like Roberto, leaving us so soon, can only mean that we must carry on the fight to free the Cuban 5 as Roberto did until his last breath.

ROBERTO GONZALEZ, PRESENTE!!!

Washington and the Cuban Revolution Today

Washington and the Cuban Revolution Today: Ballad of a Never-Ending Policy

By Ike Nahem

You can also download a copy of the article here

Part I: The Myth of the Miami Lobby

The Obama Administration, consistent with the approach of the Bush Administration, has made a political decision to subordinate foreign policy and national interest-based decisions to domestic politics with respect to its Cuba policy. There is a bipartisan group of members of Congress – Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate – who represent Florida, a state where there are many swing votes that deliver the electoral votes for any president. These individuals not only deliver votes, but they deliver campaign finance, and generally make a lot of noise, and that combination has persuaded the White House that reelection is more of a priority than taking the heavy lifting to set the United States on the path of -normalization with Cuba for now.

Julia Sweig, director for Latin American Studies, US Council on Foreign Relations

The essential continuity of US anti-Cuba policy under the Barack Obama Administration has been a source of mystery and confusion to many who oppose US sanctions. Within the US academic, think-tank, and media meritocracies – who often go in and out of government office – many are frustrated, even embarrassed, by Washington’s continued pariah status over Cuba in Latin America and internationally as registered in annual lopsided, humiliating votes against the US policy in the United Nations.

So why does Washington’s economic and political war against Cuba – the longest unchanged foreign policy in US history, entering its sixth decade – persist? Why is Cuba such an outsize question in US politics? Why does Washington continue a policy that is utterly isolated in world and regional forums, holding up US diplomats and policymakers to derision and contempt? (The stated reasons given – the supposed lack of “democracy” and “human rights” in Cuba – reek with such misinformation, half-truths, obvious hypocrisy and arbitrary selectivity that they cannot be taken seriously and must be dismissed out of hand. I will comprehensively take up the question of democratic rights, human rights, civil liberties and the Cuban Revolution in Part III of this essay.)

The most common explanation for these questions is expressed in the quotation by Julia Sweig that opens this essay. (Sweig is a scholar with the super-Establishment Council on Foreign Relations and is their Director for Latin America Studies. She is the author of the excellent book Inside the Cuban Revolution and is a very informed observer and analyst of Cuban history and politics. She is unquestionably a strong opponent of US sanctions against Cuba and in favor of normalized diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana.) Sweig and other dissenters within Establishment circles, as well as many elected officials purportedly opposed to US policy, point to or at the Cuban-American population and elected officials who form in Washington a so-called, and supposedly so-powerful, “Miami Lobby.” Some even go so far as to say US policy and “national interest” is being held “hostage” by this “Lobby.” Such nonsense crosses over into virtual conspiracy theories.

This argument and explanation turns political reality on its head. It has never been true and, in today’s world, it has never been less credible. It is a myth and an illusion that the Cuban-American community and Cuban-American office-holding politicians are the driving, determining force behind US policies toward Cuba. US foreign policy in general, and Cuba policy in particular, is driven by the interests of the US ruling capitalist class of bosses, bankers, and bondholders. It is primarily mediated through its two political parties and state institutions and secondarily through its big-business media, think tanks, and academic minions. Cuban-American bourgeois politicians are part of that mix, prominent, but far from decisive.

Washington has never, and does not now, need the aging representatives of the ex-ruling powers of Cuba, or their descendants, to explain to them why they should oppose the Cuban Revolution and the domestic and international policies of the revolutionary socialist Cuban government. The actual political affect of the “Miami Lobby” myth (which through endless repetition has become almost a mantra) is to take the political focus off the US government and place it on the Cuban-American community and a handful of Cuban-American elected officials. It puts the cart before the horse, the caboose at the head of the train

Such politicians of Cuban origin in the US Congress as Republican Florida representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, Democratic New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, and Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio can be useful as a cover or a foil for a US policy that is so unpopular. Cuban-Americans can be blamed and chided by those opposed to the policy and praised and defended by those in favor of the policy. But they do not make the policy.

The myth of the “Miami Lobby” cuts across building a broad protest movement and the kind of effective action that can actually force a change in the policy. By homogenizing (or worse, demonizing) the contradictory and increasingly polarized Cuban-American community, the myth of the “Miami Lobby” has become an obstacle to winning over more Cuban-Americans to oppose US sanctions.

The fact is that for over five decades now there has been a bipartisan policy and a common goal of defeating and eradicating the Cuban Revolution. None of this has ever been, or is it now, primarily motivated by the interests of the Cuban-American exile community in Miami. The origins and continuity of Washington’s hostility to the Cuban Revolution is homegrown. It flows out of the politics, policies and example of the Cuban Revolution – both inside Cuba and in its resonance across the Americas and internationally in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and even inside the advanced capitalist powers.

The Impact of the Cuban Revolution on US Politics

Cuba appears and is presented as a minor question in US politics and foreign policy. This is all the more so since the end of the so-called “Cold War” and its decades-long conflict and clash between Washington and Moscow. In those days Washington’s lurid propaganda painted Cuba’s revolutionary government as a “client” and “puppet” of the former Soviet Union. While this was always consciously insulting and factually absurd, the alliance of Cuba with the Soviet bloc was used to fabricate a Cuban “threat” to the US and the American people. (October 2012 will be the 50th anniversary of the traumatic “Cuban Missile Crisis, which was used to convince many working people in the United States on the “threat” from Cuba.)

Independent of the Soviet Union, the “Cuba Question,” that is the political dynamics and impact of the Cuban Revolution, has always had major weight and importance in US politics and foreign policy, especially in the Americas. This remains the case today even though Cuba is a small island of less than 12 million people and the United States is a globe-straddling economic, financial, political, and military superpower, albeit in relative decline today on all these fronts.

The end of the “Cold War” and the political disappearance of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies over 20 years ago has not seen any easing up of US anti-Cuba policy. On the contrary, it has essentially deepened. The consensus of the US ruling class and central policymakers remains that Washington’s economic and political war against Cuba must remain and continue in today’s post-Cold War. That world reality has developed into a new era, if not historical epoch, defined by the worst generalized economic and financial crisis of the world capitalist system since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In public US politicians mock, deride, and denigrate Cuba, it is clear that both ruling parties in Washington continue to see Cuba as a formidable political force with significant moral and political authority, especially in the Americas, but worldwide. There is virtual unanimity in both parties that the revolutionary Cuban government needs to be confronted and defeated, not reconciled with on the basis of respect for Cuban sovereignty. From Washington’s point of view, the Cuban government promotes anti-imperialist (or, as they falsely put it, “anti-American”) revolutionary action, has not renounced the program of international socialist revolution, and, short of that, supports any policies and struggles that defend the interests of workers, peasants, and youth. Such a perspective clearly impacts negatively on the economic interests of US capital and Washington’s political and “strategic” prerogatives in defense of those interests.

Tactical Divisions Over Cuba Policy

It is common on the “US Left” to become politically disoriented and disarmed (and safely in the hands of “lesser evil” liberals and Democrats) by the intense and even brutal forms expressed over what are in actual substance relatively minor tactical differences over policy between the two imperialist parties and within the ruling class in the United States. Cuba is a classic case in point.

Every year in the United Nations there is a lopsided (in 2011 it was 186 for and 2 against with 3 abstentions) anti-Washington vote on the “Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States against Cuba” that gets bare mention in the US corporate media. Across the Americas, Washington’s anti-Cuba policies are routinely ridiculed and opposed in every Hemispheric and regional forum, including “Summits” of the Organization of American States, traditionally a servile tool of US policy and Hemispheric domination. Cuba’s strong defense of its sovereignty, its revolutionary ideas, and its practice of international solidarity with oppressed and exploited humanity, has given the socialist island important political and moral authority and weight in world politics – way out of proportion to its size, numbers, economic strength, or military firepower. This is a cause of great irritation and consternation for the US rulers and their acolytes of the “Miami Lobby.” But it is a great testament to the power of ideas in the world. In truth there is no greater power on earth than when progressive and revolutionary ideas inspire and grip millions and become a material political force.

How to achieve the common goal of overturning the Cuban government in real political time naturally leads to furious tactical differences within the US government and within and between the Democratic and Republican parties who share and exercise power in the US capitalist state. This is inevitable given how isolated and unpopular the US anti-Cuba policy is in the Americas, in the world, and even inside the United States. Maneuvers, shifts, and concessions occur from one year to the next, and from one White House to the next, all reacting to the pressure of events. It’s all aimed at positioning Washington off the defensive in order to more effectively disorient, undermine, and overwhelm the Cuban Revolution.

Obama vs. Bush

President Obama has made some shifts and even partial retreats from the anti-Cuba rules enforced by George W. Bush. These are objectively positive. It’s good that some Cuban musicians, artists and scholars have been allowed into the US at the invitation of universities and cultural institutions. It’s good that Cuban-Americans are allowed to travel to their country of origin without the previous insulting bureaucratic restrictions. It’s better than before that rules for licenses allowing limited travel to Cuba by other US citizens have been relatively loosened.

These moves by the Obama Administration are in no way a shift away from the basic US policy of “regime change,” that is, destroying the Cuban Revolution. They basically move US rules back to the norms under the Clinton Administration and the first period of the George W. Bush Administration, before they were tightened up with the triumphalist hubris that followed the US invasion of Iraq. At that time Bush selected Otto Reich as his Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, along with other important figures among the counter-revolutionary exile groupings such as Roger Noriega, a former top staffer for ultraright, notoriously racist North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms. Such were the personnel directing the Hemispheric policies of Bush’s Administration.

But this did not work out well for US policy and position in Latin America, particularly after Washington’s (and Reich’s) fingerprints were found all over the failed April 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela against the popular, elected government of Hugo Chavez. Bush was forced to remove both Reich and then later his successor Noriega and retreat from the hyper-arrogant rhetoric and posturing toward Latin America that became politically costly to Washington.

What Obama has done is shift away from the more bellicose language and Bush-style bombast around Cuba by making minimal adjustments in policy around travel and visa rules to try and undo the political damage of the Bush years. Nevertheless, Obama has been quite strikingly unsuccessful in winning any support for the US anti-Cuba position in the Americas, which remains completely isolated, excepting the right-wing Stephen Harper government in Ottawa. Canada still continues to be the largest source of tourism to Cuba and carries out considerable commercial exchange with the island.)

Under Obama, the Treasury and Justice Departments have stepped up harassments and prosecutions of US or foreign businesses deemed to “violate” US “rules” and sanctions against commercial and financial exchange and collaboration with Cuba. Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon recently stated, in an interview with French academic and journalist Salim Lamrani, “…[T]he Obama administration has been considerably more consistent in the imposition of fines and sanctions against foreign companies who violate the framework of sanctions against Cuba, that engage in business transactions with us…A number of banks have been fined several millions of dollars, more than 100 million in one case, for conducting dollar-based business transactions and for having opened dollars accounts with Cuban companies.” On June 12, 2012 it was announced by the US Department of Justice that the Dutch Bank ING agreed to a $619 million fine for violating the US “Trading with the Enemy Act,” by moving US currency from trades with Cuba (and also Iran) through US financial networks. According to the online Guardian Express Newspaper, “The fine is considered to be the largest ever in the history of the US financial system.” Since the Obama Administration took office in 2009 major European banks Credit Suisse, Barclays, and Lloyds have reached similar settlements with the US government over financial dealings with Cuba.
The Obama Administration continues to support and promote State Department and CIA overt and covert programs that aim at subverting and undermining the Cuban government, and which landed State Department agent Alan Gross in a Cuban prison. (The idea that Gross’s conviction and incarceration is the impediment to improved US-Cuban relations which Obama wants to pursue is a very bad joke. Washington’s actions in dispatching agents like Gross – just one instance of a large-scale policy of unremitting economic and political war against Cuba funded to the tune of many dozens of millions of dollars in openly budgeted allocations, not counting resources used for covert programs – represents the real impediment to improved and normalized relations.) Obama’s State Department continues to keep Cuba on its list of “nations supporting terrorism,” a huge lie and vile slander. Obama continues to ignore Cuban diplomatic initiatives for bilateral cooperation around issues such as drug trafficking and hurricane response coordination. Obama continues to resist the unanimous opinion of Latin American and Caribbean member states of the Organization of American States to end the exclusion of Cuba. Obama continues to dismiss and resist any attempts to negotiate mechanisms, including any “exchanges,” that would release the Cuban Five, four of whom are in their 14th year of incarceration, while one, Rene Gonzalez, was released after serving his full term, but is not being allowed to return home to Cuba. Another clear sign of the essential continuity in Obama’s anti-Cuba policy from the Bush Administration – and really all previous White Houses since Eisenhower – is in Obama’s appointment of Ricardo Zuniga as “Director for Western Hemispheric Affairs” for the White House National Security Council. Zuniga was formerly a key player in the US Interests Section in Havana under Bush, organizing the extreme provocations against Cuba led by Interests Section Chief James Cason.

Looking at the balance sheet of Obama’s policies toward Cuba compared to that of George W. Bush, recalls the classic line of Groucho Marx: “I’ve worked myself up to nothing from a state of extreme poverty.”

Waves and Patterns of Cuban Emigration to the US

There have always been Cuban workers who emigrated to, lived, and worked in the United States. However, the origin and formation of a mass Cuban-American “community” began with the large-scale emigration after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Like all genuine social revolutions, the Cuban Revolution was marked by deep-going and irreversible class struggle and polarization. In the first period after the Cuban Revolution some 5% of the then Cuban population of 6 million made its way to Florida and the US where it was received with open arms and special privileges as “refugees from communism,” obviating regular immigration requirements.

The first wave of exiles were overwhelmingly from the Cuban ruling classes, their supporters, hangers on, and enforcers in the military and police apparatuses, as well as the extensive organized–crime networks – narcotics marketers, brothel owners and pimps, casino magnates, and so on – that flourished in the Batista era. As the Cuban Revolution began to implement radical economic and social policies that benefited peasants, agricultural and industrial workers, and the impoverished majority in general, large layers of the relatively small Cuban middle and professional classes followed the largest landowners, capitalists, army officers, cops, and gangsters into exile. While a small minority, it was nevertheless hundreds of thousands of people. (One example of this pattern was in the over 50% of the 6,000 doctors in Cuba who left the country after the Revolution. These doctors overwhelmingly served the Cuban upper and middle classes. The average Cuban rarely, if ever, saw a doctor their entire life. Life expectancy was in the low 50s. Infant mortality was over 60 per 1000, among the world’s highest. Today Cuba graduates 10,000 new doctors every year; life expectancy is approaching 80 and infant mortality is 4.5 per 1000, among the world’s lowest.)

Additionally it should be noted that these first waves of emigrant-exiles were overwhelmingly Caucasian; among the most far-reaching policies of the revolutionary Cuban government was the smashing of Jim Crow-style segregation laws and policies on the island. Cuban’s of African origin were among the strongest and most enthusiastic supporters and protagonists of the Revolution, which was echoed in the wide support for the Cuban Revolution among African-Americans in the United States.

Of course there was no mechanical one-to one political correspondence in the class polarization that accompanied the Cuban Revolution. Not every middle-class Cuban opposed the Revolution and split to Miami; a good number were in support or ambivalent but patriotic. (For an excellent portrayal of this early period of the Revolution from the vantage point of an alienated middle-class Cuban, see the masterful, world-acclaimed Cuban film Memories of Underdevelopment, directed by Tomas Gutierrez Alea.) And there were a small number of workers, peasants, and Afro-Cubans who actively supported the counter-revolution. Nevertheless, it is an indisputable fact that the large majority of the Cuban population at the time, and overwhelmingly so among working people, peasants, youth, and Black Cubans, embraced the Revolution as their own work and actively defended it.

Many thousands of Cuban exiles were recruited by the US military and intelligence apparatus for covert action against Cuba. Business and financial opportunities were established for the Cuban ex-bourgeoisie in south Florida by their US government and business benefactors. The US Congress passed the Cuban Adjustment Act in 1966, which allowed for quick permanent residency and expedited citizenship for declared opponents of the Revolution. Over $1.3 billion, nearly $10 billion in current dollar value, was allocated for direct financial assistance to exiles.

The Mariel Boatlift

Over several months in 1980, a series of provocations against Cuba by the James “Jimmy” Carter Administration, working with the conservative Peruvian military government, led to gatherings of up to 10,000 Cubans at the Peruvian Embassy in Havana wanting to leave the country. (Millions of Cubans mobilized at this time in support of the Revolution.) The death of a Cuban police guard at the Peruvian Embassy led the Cuban government to declare a policy of allowing all Cubans who wanted to leave the island to bypass existing legal processes. Cuban- Americans were invited to come pick up their relatives at the Mariel Harbor. Some 125,000 additional Cubans arrived in the US during the so-called Mariel Boatlift. (Today the Brazilian government and companies are working with Cuba in a major industrial project to make Mariel a state-of-the-world port for freight and trade which, when completed and operational, will be a major boost for the Cuban economy.)

This wave of exiles was of a much different social and class composition than the first waves. They were more on the margins of Cuban society, unassimilated into the working class, indifferent or hostile to the revolutionary process in Cuba. Many had histories of petty criminal activity in areas with no operating space or “market” in Cuba such as gambling, loan sharking, commercial sex, and narcotics trafficking. Most simply wanted to leave Cuba and go to the United States to join relatives or friends and pursue perceived business opportunities. They thought that the United States would be a far more fertile arena and market for their social and business – and criminal – proclivities. US propaganda accused the Cuban government at the time of emptying its prisons and even mental hospitals and shoving “the dregs of Cuban society” onto boats bound for the US. Cuban authorities vehemently denied this and demanded proof of such deeds, which was never delivered, although the slander lived on. (For Fidel Castro’s passionate explanation of the entire affair and response to US slanders see, An Encounter With Fidel: An Interview With Gianni Mina, Ocean Press, pages 61-67.)

The “Special Period” Wave

In the 1990s, under the severe economic conditions of what was called in Cuba the “Special Period,” following the collapse of the governments of the Soviet Union and Eastern European “socialist camp,” thousands more Cubans left the island lured by the Cuban Adjustment Act and the refusal of the US to implement agreements for legal, organized immigration. The relative improvement of the Cuban economy in recent years and the ending of travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans under President Obama, combined with the onset of economic depression and crisis in the US and Europe, has reduced the volume and political volatility of Cuban emigration to the United States.

There are higher proportions of Irish and Israeli emigrants to the United States than Cubans, and this without either the expedited privileges of the Cuban Adjustment Act or the accompanying demonization and propaganda attacking those countries from the US government and big-business media. Given the economic catastrophes currently gripping Greece, Spain, Portugal, and other “Eurozone” economies millions of working people have been displaced and forced to consider emigration. It would be interesting to look at immigration statistics in those countries compared to Cuba today. Many from Spain and Portugal are today even emigrating to Latin America.

In any case what stands out is that the large majority of Cuban working people continue to stand their ground in Cuba and to fight for their revolution despite the Cuban Adjustment Act, despite unremitting US threats, sanctions, and a sense of siege, and despite often grinding economic conditions. Today these Cubans are debating and fighting to improve and change what has to be changed

Elian Gonzalez

The case of Elian Gonzalez in the 1990s was a political turning point that highlighted the developing and roiling contradictions within the Cuban-American community. It set in motion politically centrifugal tendencies.

Public opinion in the US at the time overwhelmingly favored the right of Elian’s father to return to Cuba with his son. The right-wing counter-revolutionary circus in Miami acted out by Elian’s distant relatives, manipulated by right-wing Cuban American organizations, was viewed as distasteful and inhumane. Washington tried every lure and trick to keep Elian in this country and – in what would have been a real propaganda coup – to entice his father to “defect.” But eventually they had to face the reality that this was not going to happen and that Cuban, Latin American, and US public opinion was becoming indignant. Father and son were finally let go. The issue had riveted US politics for many months and was a real blow to the authority and political standing of the counter-revolutionary exile organizations and personalities.

The Cuban-American Community Today

Over 1.5 million people whose family origins are in Cuba are now citizens of the United States. Cuba’s current population is nearly 12 million people. Cuban-Americans are 4-5% of the Spanish-speaking US Latino population of over 40 million people. (Accurate figures are hard to specify given the large layers of undocumented working people who have migrated to enter a vast, illegal “black market” in labor to work in the fields, factories, and cities of the United States when such jobs were relatively plentiful.) These Spanish-speaking (or English, French, or Creole-speaking from the Caribbean, or Portuguese-speaking from Brazil) immigrants seeking to labor in the US came from every country and nationality, but only those of Cuban origin, under the Cuban Adjustment Act, get a very fast track to US citizenship and a legal existence to work and live.

Over three-fourths of Cuban-Americans live in Florida, 1.2 million people according to the 2010 US census. The next four states sees a large numbers drop to a little over 80,000 in New Jersey and a little less than 80,000 in New York, some 75,000 in California and 35,000 in Texas. Florida is the fourth most populous US state with 18.8 million people; Cuban-Americans are less than 10% of that total. Cuban-Americans are 30% of Florida’s Latino population. African-Americans are around 16% of Florida’s population, figures that in most counts include Black immigrants from the Caribbean. The Haitian population of south Florida is between 100-200,000 including many undocumented workers. Cubans make up 32 percent of eligible Latino voters, Puerto Ricans 28 percent, and Mexicans 9 percent.

It is absurd to extrapolate out of the size of the Cuban-American electorate an assertion that this “bloc” is decisive in “delivering” Florida’s electoral votes to a future President who must therefore “pander” to “extreme anti-Castro” positions. By manipulating statistics this could be said about any group, grouping, religious denomination or sect. In a close race between Republicans and Democrats, don’t the 3% of Florida’s Jews become “decisive?” What about the 725,000 Puerto Ricans? Why aren’t the Presidential campaigns pandering to the “pro-Aristide” views of Florida’s large Haitian population who by a large majority support the former Haitian President who was ushered out of country by the US military after a coup? (The anti-Aristide campaign was directly led by the above-mentioned Roger Noriega.) The absurdity is further underscored by the fact that Florida’s Jews, Puerto Ricans, Haitians and the 70% non-Cuban Latinos are more preponderantly Democratic in their voting tendencies (if they bother, like a near-majority of eligible voters in general, to vote at all given the dismal choices), and opposed to US sanctions against Cuba than Cuban-Americans are supposedly preponderantly Republican and obsessively, knee-jerkedly, “anti-Castro.”

The truth is that, once given the legal right to do so, Cuban-Americans are defying the threats and admonitions of the Ros-Lehtinens, the Diaz-Balarts, the Menendezes, and the Rubios, that is, the Congressional faces of the “Miami Lobby,” and flocking to Cuba and reconnecting with their homeland and families. Flights are packed and leave every day from Miami and weekly in a growing number of cities. They also rush to buy tickets and fill concert halls to see popular Cuban musicians like Los Van Van, who happen to identify with the Cuban Revolution. (On April 27, 2012 a fire was set at the company Airline Charters, one of the companies that arranges legal flights to Cuba.)

The fact is that the political domination of the old Batistaite ruling oligarchy and Cuban ex-bourgeoisie that became ensconced in south Florida and some enclaves in northern New Jersey is sputtering to the end of its era of sway. That ex-bourgeoisie was set up and established comfortably in business and with a cozy niche in US bourgeois politics over the broader Cuban-American community, and enjoyed a degree of immunity from US law by the US government

Very important, if not decisive, in this dynamic is the broader development and growth of the Latino population in the US that is not of Cuban origin and with a very different history and relationship to the “Cuba Question.” Over decades there has been a growth and accumulated political weight in US society and politics of this broader Latino community, with a mass component of undocumented workers who were a needed source of cheap labor and high profits for US capitalists. This broader Latino community comprises peoples of many national origins: Mexicans, Central Americans, Haitians (also concentrated in Miami as well as New York City) none of whom share the views toward Cuba, Fidel Castro, and the Cuban Revolution of the surviving first waves of immigrant-exiles from the 1960s.

The fact is that among many Latinos living and working in the United States there exists a significant degree of pride and respect, if not solidarity and affection, toward Cuba for standing up to the Yanquis with dignity, even among those far from agreeing with Fidel Castro’s revolutionary Marxist views.

In fact, it can be said that the children and grandchildren of the first waves of Cuban émigrés, who, in general, are hardly partisans of the Cuban Revolution, are nevertheless more objective and curious about Cuba, and more generally in favor of normalized relations and an end to US sanctions. This generation of Cuban-Americans has undoubtedly been shaped as much by their experiences as Latinos in the US and by their interaction in the workplace with other Latino workers and other workers, Black and Caucasian, than by their status as second or third generation exiles from Cuba and the Cuban Revolution with all that political baggage.

The ex-bourgeoisie of Cuba, although many have prospered in business and bourgeois politics from their connections and status, is in no way integrated into the US ruling class. The bulk of Cuban-Americans today are wage workers, professionals, and small business owners. Their political views are shaped and developed primarily by the broad issues of class politics in the United States and much less, and certainly not decisively, by the imperatives of “anti-Castro” exile politics. This is all the more true as so many Cuban-Americans visit the island and become familiar with the economic and political discussions and debates dominating Cuban society today.

The ultra-right grip of the ex-Cuban bourgeoisie, and the violent terrorists trained by the CIA, on Cuban-American political viewpoints regarding US-Cuba relations is unraveling. Ever-growing numbers, at or near majority levels, of Cuban-Americans favor normal relations with the island and an end to economic and travel sanctions. It is precisely the growing pressure from Cuban-Americans that led the Obama Administration to lift the travel restrictions on that (and only that) section of the US population.

It is of great political significance that Washington finds it more difficult to credibly hide behind the Cuban American community to justify or rationalize its anti-Cuba policy. The “Miami Lobby” has always been the directed not the directors, the puppets not the puppeteers. Hopefully the purveyors of the false “Miami Lobby” line will catch up with political reality.

June 15, 2012

Ike Nahem is a longtime anti-war, labor, and socialist activist living in New York City. He is the coordinator of Cuba Solidarity New York (cubasolidarityny@mindspring.com) and a founder of the New York-New Jersey July 26 Coalition (www.july26coalition.org). Nahem is an Amtrak Locomotive Engineer and member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, a division of the Teamsters Union. These are his personal political opinions.

VENCEREMOS BRIGADE SEND OFF

Venceremos Brigade

Join the Venceremos Brigade as we celebrate the departure of the 43rd annual Venceremos Brigade contingent to Cuba!

On Sunday July 8th, 31 U.S. citizens, are publicly engaging in civil disobedience by defying the U.S. government’s travel restrictions on Cuba by traveling to the Caribbean island without a license as members of the 43rd annual Venceremos Brigade!

Join us as we send off the amazing brigade!
Joins us for food, fun, and an amazing film!

Cubans have selected a list of the 100 of the most relevant and authentic Cuban songs in order to merge them into an album that contains the roots of this genre. This small expedition travels to far place of the island in search of the song’s essence. exalting the main characters behind the rhythm. This documentary full of humor and authentic Cuban songs!

Friday July6, 2012 at 7pm

Casa de las Americas

182 E. 111th St.

(btwn. Lex. Ave. and 3rd Ave.) Take the 6 train to E. 110th St.
Suggested donation: $5-10 (For the Venecermos Brigade Scholarship Fund)

For more information contact: Vbrigade@gmail.com

VENCEREMOS BRIGADE SEND OFF

Martin Garbus speaks on new motion for the Five‏

Originally posted by National Committee To Free The Cuban Five

Martin Garbus speaks on new motion for the Five‏
June 13 Press Conference:

Attorney Martin Garbus speaks to the press about the latest legal development in the case of the Five

Listen to the audio below

Renowned lawyer Martin Garbus, called “legendary, one of the best trial lawyers in the country” by Time magazine, has joined the team of lawyers appealing the convictions of the Cuban Five. Last week Garbus and Supreme Court specialist Thomas Goldstein, together with long-time Cuban Five lawyer Richard Klugh, filed a motion in U.S. Southern District Court, seeking an evidentiary hearing and the right to discovery on behalf of Gerardo Hernández, in his Habeas Corpus appeal. This motion relates specifically to the issue of U.S. government payments to members of the Miami media during the trial of the Five, journalists whose coverage helped to add to the already poisonous atmosphere in Miami against the Five.

Yesterday, June 13, Garbus held a press conference that was facilitated by the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. He noted that “A lot of that pressure [to indict to the Five, and then to indict Gerardo Hernández for conspiracy to commit murder] was created by the media…So in large part that media is responsible for the very indictments themselves. And then of course the media is responsible for saturating the jury pool and saturating, of course, the jury that sat on the case.”

Exposure of the government’s payments to Miami journalists has been a key focus of research conducted by the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five during the past three years, in collaboration with the Partnership for Civl Justice Fund and Liberation newspaper. The presence of Miami journalists on the U.S. government payroll, who purported to report as “independent” press, goes to the heart of the unjust conviction of the Five. The Five were not only victims of a politically-motivated prosecution, but a government-funded propaganda operation as well.

Listen to the complete presentation by Martin Garbus, followed by a question-and-answer session with the press, by clicking the link below.

Listen to the press conference

Read the motion

Background on the paid journalists

Help fund our continued research

Muhammad Alí: “Siempre recordaré el encuentro con el gran Teófilo en su Cuba natal”

Originally posted by CUBADEBATE

Un amigo de Cubadebate, Bob Schwartz, nos acaba de hacer llegar este comunicado de condolencia por la muerte de Teófilo Stevenson. Lo envía el más famoso de los boxeadores norteamericanos, Muhammad Alí:

“Me entristeció profundamente esta mañana la noticia de la muerte de uno de los grandes campeones del boxeo, Teófilo Stevenson. Aunque nunca peleó profesionalmente, haber ganado tres medallas de oro en tres Juegos Olímpicos diferentes, garantiza que él habría sido un enemigo formidable para cualquier otro campeón de peso pesado reinante o cualquier retador en su mejor momento. Siempre recordaré el encuentro con el gran Teófilo en su Cuba natal. Él fue uno de los grandes de este mundo, y a la vez fue un hombre cálido y abrazable. Mis condolencias para su familia y amigos. Que descanse en paz.”

Muhammad Ali

Defending the Cuban Revolution