Moratino’s Airplane

There is a lot of speculation these days about the possible release of the political prisoners. The official press, as always — half asleep between growth statistics and old speeches taken from the files — neither confirms nor denies these rumors. A careful reading of the daily paper, Granma, tells us that Spain’s Foreign Minister has arrived on the island to condemn the American blockade, talk about climate change, and to try to get the European Union to abandon its Common Position* against Cuba. If we let ourselves believe what the announcers, with their throaty voices and striped ties, say, nothing is happening here… Or almost nothing. But we all know that in the dark recesses of diplomacy, in the high political terrain woven on the backs of the people, things are moving.

Whispers come and go. In them, the word “liberation” has been stuck to a term with nefarious connotations: “deportation.” “They will go directly from the prisons to the planes,” a gentleman who keeps his ear glued to the radio told me, based on what he hears on the prohibited broadcasts from the North. Forced expatriation, expulsion, exile, has been standard practice to get rid of dissenters. “If you don’t like it, leave,” they tell you from the time you’re small; “Get up and go,” they spit at you if you insist on complaining; “Why’d you come back?” is the greeting if you dare to return and continue to point out what you don’t like. The ability to rid themselves of the inconvenient, the skill to push off the island platform anyone who opposes them, this is a talent in which our leaders are quite adept.

Moratinos would have to have a very large plane to fit all those who obstruct the island’s authoritarians. Not even a jumbo jet could transport all those potentially at risk of going to prison for their ideas or their civil actions. A veritable airline with weekly flights would be necessary to remove all those who don’t agree with the administration of Raul Castro. But, as it turns out, many of us do not want to go. Because the decision to live here or there is something as personal as choosing a partner, or naming a child; it is not permissible that so many Cubans find themselves caught between the walls of prison and the sword of exile. It is immoral to force emigration on those who might be released in the coming days.

One question, simple and logical, jumps out at us with regards to this issue: Wouldn’t it be better if the ones they carried on this plane were “them”?

P.S. A link to the Archbishop’s statement is here.

Translator’s note:
European Union Common Position on Cuba: Adopted in 1996, it makes cooperation with the communist regime conditional on improvements in human rights and political freedom. The text can be read at this link


38 thoughts on “Moratino’s Airplane

  1. @#36
    I do sincerily thank you for your contributions; they are the best examples of anger, violence & intolerance.
    Thank you.

  2. @#35
    Perhaps your way of communicating reflects the repressed anger & impotence that rules your reason.
    Read #32 again … slowly this time … there are no insults in it: the “bully” statement is based on the way you express yourself, even in your own #35.
    Perhaps I should note & add to your racist tendencies (your own statement in this blogg in reference to Indians, Jews & inmigrants) homophobic.
    Please. please think before you express yourself, for your own benefit & credibility, perhaps it will help you …

  3. In the meantime, the incompetent octogenarian revolutionary brigade only capable dictating their crap into their computers, pretending they are winning some “media” war in this irrelevant and forgotten blog/diary/portal for defeated and beaten up nazists, is losing even their own internal battle.

    I notice that the EU, and even their own homeland, the usa, are increasing the dialogue with the government in Cuba, and that the dissidents are being removed by the very EU and Spain themselves as they are being perceived rightly as the obstacle, not the allies, in the fight for a normalisation of situation in Cuba.

    What a little oil can do to capitalist hypocrites, eh?

  4. Post 32, as always only racist remarks and insults and a lot of ignorance. You have no idea who Filipovic was and what was he fighting for, yet in your usual self-defeating way you dare talk about the things you simply know NOTHING.

    Your arrogance and insulting ways are the best testimony to your real and only purpose in life: nothing.

    Waste of air, space and time is the only plausible scientific description for people like you.

    Long time ago I invited you to drop your primitive ways and try to engage in a respectful and meaningful debate.

    The offer still stands, but I have no illusions about yorcapability to take it up.

    From your cheap and stupid insults (because you do not even know how to insult intelligently) it is clear how your two simple brain cells work. So, now I am inviting you to do the only thing yu may still be able to do: stop talking about everything because you talk trash and ignorance.

    Just like your other alter-egos/lovers. Look how crazy is the statemnet about Fidel in the post 34.

    Only someone incapacitated like you could say such a stupid thing. Silly old women.

  5. Pictures means NOTHING! Why not a quick hello LIVE! He is dead or unable to function! What you see are either old pictures/videos or a double!

  6. as an observation …
    I saw fidel’s “rare” pictures showd in tv.
    He has the look of near death in the reflection of his sunken eyes.
    Now is when the question comes to him: does God exist? what if? … w/death so near, fidel doubts & fears …

  7. @#29
    … what is your argument? where is it?
    Only insults fella
    Filipovic was/is a heroe, to the end of his life … you are not even when you are alive, you are just a bully.
    Read what you post, where is your argument eh?

  8. What a victory of cuban people…… regimen is backing in all fronts…… no is not possible for regime commint crimes on cuban people in the capital city because the thight survelliance net created by the young freedom fighters there….. now is not possible for tyranny to keep inocent people in jail because the huge international movilization created by the work of freddom fighters inside Cuba and the sacrifice of Zapata Tamayo, Fariñas, Ladies in White and hundred more freedom fighters in and outside Cuba…… now tyranny is filmed and recorded by the cuban people and its crimes no longer are unknown but public and broadcasted to the world opinion…… the ugly face of castrofascism is no longer in the dark but in the light watched by the world…….. only in the countryside can castrofascism repress, beat, jail and kill with certain impunity but it will not take too long before cubans find the way to show to the world those crimes they commint daily against Reina Luisa Tamayo, Antunez, Ladies in White and other fighters in the countryside……. what a victory for the cuban people…… congratulations cubans!!!!

  9. Everybody is happy with the release of “52” prisoners, as if that’s all of the politcal prisoners there are. That means that the Cuban government’s plan of appeasement has worked. Why not call for the release of all Cuban political prisoners? Farinas should continue his hunger strike. Why stop, when there’s more prisoners who will not be released? Seems very much like a simple political ploy on both sides. Politics! That’s all this blog is about. Simple politics. Nobody cares what happens to the ordinary citiizen. Castro wins in the end because he doesn’t have to release any more prisoners and he’s seen as a humanitarian. What a crock of shit! Nobody realizes that it’s politics as usual. It’s a gesture to the world. End the embargo now. Yoani seen in the photo with Farinas. How self serving. Maybe she’s the humanitarian. Very well played. Another crock of shit.

  10. Post 23, what is the actually point you are trying to make in this confused and misguided comment? If anything, I am on the same side as the hero Stjepan Filipovic, and you are on the side he was fighting AGAINST.

    Your insulting coments calling me a “racist” are merely dispaly of your own intellectual shortfalls and desperate attempts to say something good enough to “outsmart” me. That cannot happen for several reasons, the least the fact that you are not smart enough to achieve that.

    No. The main reason is exactly what you accusing me not to be. And to your horror I am. You simply do not have an argument to counter the facts I present, so you crap out whatever you can come up with, desperate as you are.

    Just like that cuban immigrant trash yumbo the micro dick. The cheap, low level crimson surviving on proceedings of his home invasions in poor neighbourhoods and occasional drug sale, when he is not consuming it himself.

    Well, “smarties” brace yourselves because it is not only me you have to deal with. It is the team Yoani and their misguided and shallow ideological platform that only produces the nonsense. The nonsense that is easy and extremly simple to rebuff and disintegrate.

    They are just as deprived of the necessary intellect for a serious political action as you simple posters.

    You all know it. that has been confirmed with the number of insults and rude posts from the beginning.

    My turn geniuses.

    My turn.

    And you all make it even easier for me. You should sit back and THINK before you psot this shallowness of yours here.

  11. NYR: A DECEPTIVE AMNESTY IN CUBA-Daniel Wilkinson-July 9, 2010

    In my NYR blog post earlier this week, and in a recent New York Review article I wrote with Nik Steinberg, I observed that the Cuban government under Raúl Castro has continued to harass and jail political dissenters—even as the blogosphere provides new ways for some Cubans to express their criticism. Now, the government has announced it will release fifty-two political prisoners who have been locked up since 2003—a decision made after the archbishop of Havana and the Spanish foreign minister interceded directly with Raúl Castro. The announcement is certainly good news for the prisoners and their families, who have been through a very difficult seven-year ordeal. One might hope it also signals a new willingness by the Castro government to tolerate dissent—or at least to stop locking up dissenters—which would be very good news for the entire country.

    But we’ve seen such negotiated releases before. Jesse Jackson convinced Fidel Castro to release twenty-six political prisoners in 1984, Bill Richardson secured the release of three in 1996, and Jimmy Carter got one prisoner released in 2002. My colleagues at Human Rights Watch managed to get half a dozen released after six grueling hours of negotiation with Fidel Castro in 1995. The most successful was Pope John Paul II, who obtained the release of more than eighty jailed dissidents in 1998.

    Those prisoner releases were also welcome news at the time each occurred. But they did not bring an end to repression in Cuba. The government never stopped locking up its critics and stifling dissent on the island. There is little reason to think this time will be different. Since Raúl Castro took over from his ailing brother in 2006, the Cuban government has jailed scores of political prisoners, including journalists, human rights defenders, and ordinary citizens engaged in “counterrevolutionary” activities. None of these newer prisoners are among the fifty-two the government now plans to release.

    In any case, for now, only five of the fifty-two will actually leave prison—and apparently not for their homes, but rather for forced exile to Spain. “They will go directly from the prisons to the planes,” Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez wrote on Wednesday, citing “a gentleman who keeps his ear glued to the radio” listening to “the prohibited broadcasts from the North.”

    The ability to rid themselves of the inconvenient, the skill to push off the island platform anyone who opposes them, this is a talent in which our leaders are quite adept…. [S]o many Cubans find themselves caught between the walls of prison and the sword of exile.”

    Real change is unlikely to come to Cuba without pressure from the international community. But as Nik Steinberg and I argued, the kind of pressure that’s needed will be difficult to muster as long as the US embargo is in place. The embargo has caused considerable hardship to the Cuban people and alienated governments that otherwise might be willing to criticize Cuba’s repressive practices.

    Until Washington and its allies find a better approach (Steinberg and I offer one option in our article), the periodic release of political prisoners will mean nothing more than shorter sentences for people who should never have been jailed in the first place. Nothing will prevent the Castro government from re-stocking the newly emptied prison cells with other Cubans who dare to question its hold on power.


    EL PAIS: Los 52 presos que liberará el régimen cubano vendrán a España-El ministro Miguel Ángel Moratinos revela que todos los excarcelados viajarán primero a Madrid, aunque posteriormente algunos puedan dirigirse a otros países.- El disidente Fariñas se muestra dispuesto a suspender parcialmente su ayuno y empezar a beber agua-MAURICIO VICENT / MIGUEL GONZÁLEZ | La Habana 08/07/2010

    Los 52 presos políticos que serán excarcelados por el régimen cubano en los próximos meses viajarán a España, aunque posteriormente puedan dirigirse a otros países, según reveló esta madrugada el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, en un encuentro con periodistas en la residencia del embajador español en La Habana, antes de iniciar su viaje de regreso a Madrid. Moratinos aseguró desconocer la identidad de los cinco primeros presos que saldrán en libertad en los próximos días ya que, según explicó, es el Arzobispado de La Habana el que se encargará de seleccionarlos, en función de su estado de salud y su deseo de viajar a España. Sí aseguró que las autoridades cubanas han dado garantías de que sus propiedades en la isla no serán confiscadas y de que sus familiares podrán volver cuando lo deseen. Respecto a los ex reclusos, no se excluye que pueden hacerlo, aunque necesitarán una autorización.

    Moratinos aseguró que el compromiso del presidente Raúl Castro es liberar a todos los presos políticos, aunque su número está sujeto a controversia -la Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional los cifra en 167?, por lo que se ha acordado centrarse en los 52 del denominado Grupo de los 75, detenido en la primavera de 2003, que resulta incontestable para todas las partes. Por ello, pidió al disidente Guillermo Fariñas, en estado crítico tras más de cuatro meses en huelga de hambre y sed, que abandone su protesta; algo que, según su médico personal, Ismel Iglesias, podría ocurrir pronto. De hecho, esta madrugada el doctor ha anunciado que el disidente se ha mostrado dispuesto a suspender parcialmente su ayuno y que puede empezar a beber agua una vez que sean liberados los primeros cinco reclusos.

    Poco antes, justo después de la reunión que mantuvo con el presidente cubano, Raúl Castro, y el cardenal Jaime Ortega, tras la cual se anunció la excarcelación de los 52 presos, el ministro español no pudo ocultar su alegría. “Sentimos una enorme satisfacción. Se abre una nueva etapa en Cuba con el deseo de zanjar definitivamente la cuestión de los presos”, dijo un exultante Moratinos. Según él, “ya no hay ninguna razón para mantener la Posición Común[europea]”. “Esto era lo que mis colegas me pidieron, espero que ahora respondan al compromiso”, dijo Moratinos. El jefe de la diplomacia española habló ayer mismo con la Alta Representante de la UE, Catherine Ashton, a quien informó del resultado de sus gestiones y tiene intención de hacerlo también con la secretaria de Estado de EE UU, Hillary Clinton.

    Moratinos y el cardenal Jaime Ortega vieron el partido entre España y Alemania en la residencia del presidente Raúl Castro. Según el ministro, ambos “han vibrado” con el triunfo de la selección española.


    HAVANA TIMES: Cuba-US Should Duplicate Spy Swap-July 9

    Russia and the United States made a spy swap Friday in Vienna, Austria. The day before, Cuba announced it would gradually release 52 political prisoners in negotiations involving the Catholic Church and Spain.
    Both actions show that when there’s a will there’s a way and that seemingly intransigent politicians can actually dialogue effectively when they put pre-conditions aside.

    Another similar action that would be a big step towards normalization of relations between the US and Cuba —something that President Obama hinted at during his campaign— would be a prisoner swap with Cuba. This might involve sending US agent Alan Gross (of the defense contractor Development Alternatives, Inc.) back to the US, and Washington finally releasing the Cuban Five.

    Gross has been in a Cuban jail since last December and the Cubans imprisoned since September 1998 in the US.

    The US government denies Gross was distributing illegal electronic equipment in Cuba saying he was simply on a humanitarian mission, one similar to those his company carries out under contract for the US Defense Department in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Meanwhile, the Cuban Five —considered heroes on the island— have been in US jails for nearly 12 years. Havana claims they had only infiltrated terrorist organizations that are allowed to operate out of Miami against Cuba, but the US says the men conspired to spy on American military installations.

    In light of events over the last two days, a similar swap with Gross and the Cuban Five, allowing all to return to their countries and families, would be a historic sign of goodwill that could lead to the end of a half-century long adversarial relationship between the United States and Cuba.

  14. @#24
    By the very nature of its existence a dictatorship is reactionary; perhaps all its moves are geared to its survival, to the prolonging of its hold to power.
    Seldom you’ll see a humanitarian gesture (just to pick one) without an ulterior motive most of the times as “window dressing”
    A dictatorship will push the enforcement of its agenda to the very boundaries of human nature, paying careful attention to the mood of the people they hold under their power, using “implied fear”, confusion tactics, mob reprisals, domicile registrations, national identity cards, regulating the movement of the general population, rationing of food supplies, regulation & control of education, transport & health services which while “presented” as entitlements become tools for the dictatorship to be able to control the very people they exploit.
    Thes are just a few the “moves” used by a dictatorship …
    So yes, while amazing in the perversity is amazing in its cruelty …

    Thanks for the good comment Rick!!!

  15. What is truly amazing is that the only times concessions are made is when the regime is backed against the wall by economic circumstances and then they take advantage of the good feelings from some gesture that appeases some of the issues at hand in this case the hunger strike by Farinas, the upcoming vote in the EU Parliament and the possibility of a vote in the US Congress about travel sanctions while not making any fundamental change in their system.

    Once the Castro regime gains another breathing space from their economic disasters and fundamental failure to create a viable system to provide for their people’s need they soon clamp down again with repressive tactics imprison a new group to silence internal dissent once again and continue with their totalitarian dictatorship as they have done over and over again for more than fifty years in spite of the best intentions of any groups to alleviate the terrible Human Rights conditions in Cuba.

  16. @#5
    It is not funny or perhaps it is to you talking about peace & religious fanatism while just about every post you have contributed here has a tone of violence, of ethnic cruelty & disrespect for religion?
    First was the Indians & their “naturla lazines, then the Jews of Nazi Germany …
    Since you claim to be a Yougoslav … even when as such it does not longer exists I guess you choose to forget the blood baths of the recent years, the laws passed by the different factions holding to power w/the end of a gun .
    Some of the laws still in effect preponents of religious or ethnic separation, or governing by force.
    I guess you are a beliver on the usurpation of legitiamte powers by force, while justifing crimes against humanity commited for that end.
    I am begining to consider, perhaps you are a Milosevic style of person, justifing ethnic cleansing & religious cleansing in the name of independence … but … you certainly are no worth of Stjepan Filipovic’s words of defiance.



  18. Arlene sad face, I’m not sure what your point is. If you’re saying that people who post comments on blogs may not be who they say they are, well, welcome to the internet.

  19. 9Luz Clarita

    Julio 8th, 2010 at 14:17
    GY esta controlado por los COMUNISTAS DE CUBA… Lo digo en Spanish porque es una triste realidad
    Solamente dejan entar a los que a “ELLOS les CONVIENE’
    SHAME ON YOU “MODERADORS” on Yoani Sanchez BLOG…Repeat…SHAME on YOU!!
    Something is happening with the bloggers, this is one example, this blogger use to comment in the Spanish version of this blog and id herself as “born american” of hispanic ansestors. Wouldn’t be easier for her to write in English? Is this the same person with same avatar I’ve seen in the Spanish blog? Here, she does not speak
    neither English or Spanish, look at SPANA!! look at MODERADORS!!!!
    Shame on you/Mentirosita


  21. Interesting post by Phil Peters at the Cuba Triangle:
    “I’m told by someone close to the process that the releases are not contingent on the prisoners leaving the country – that “may leave the country” means what it says, and doesn’t mean “must.” In many cases over the years, that condition has indeed been imposed, trading imprisonment for forced departure – but apparently not in this case.”

    If Peters’ information proves correct and those released are not forced into exile, this would be a positive development.

  22. NPR: Church Says Cuba To Release 52 Political Prisoners-July 8, 2010

    Cuba has promised the Roman Catholic Church it will free 52 political prisoners, slashing the number it holds by nearly a third in what would be the communist-run island’s largest release of dissidents since Pope John Paul II visited in 1998.
    Five would be released inititially and they would go into exile in Spain, while the others would be freed over the next three or four months, said Havana’s archbishop, Cardinal Jaime Ortega.

    The deal struck Wednesday followed a meeting between President Raul Castro and Ortega. Also participating was visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

    “Today we announce with complete satisfaction that the objectives we have worked toward have been met,” Moratinos said. A statement from the Spanish Embassy declared, “This opens a new era in Cuba with hope of putting aside differences once and for all on matters of prisoners.”

    Moratinos then wrapped up his two-plus days here, but did not take any freed prisoners back to Spain with him. He and Ortega said they weren’t sure how long it would take for the first five prisoners to be released.

    Human rights and opposition activists called the scope of the agreement a surprise.

    “We were hoping for a significant release of prisoners, but not this,” said Elizardo Sanchez, head of the independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

    Ortega said those to be released were all members of a group of 75 leading political opposition activists, community organizers and journalists who report on Cuba in defiance of state controls on media. They were rounded up in a crackdown on dissent in March 2003.

    “I’m so excited,” said Laura Pollan, whose husband, Hector Maceda, was one of the 75 and has been serving 20 years in prison for treason.

    But Pollan was also hesitant, saying she worried the government might not free as many political prisoners as it said it would.

    “I don’t think they will let everyone go; I think only some will be,” she said in her shabby living room in crumbling central Havana. “It won’t be the first time that they lie.”

    She later added, however, “I hope to God I’m wrong and can tell you in September that I was wrong and that the government kept its promise.”

    Some of the 75 original prisoners had previously been freed for health reasons or after completing their terms, or were allowed into exile in Spain. But 52 have remained behind bars – most serving lengthy prison terms on charges of conspiring with Washington to destabilize Cuba’s political system. All are now seemingly poised to go free.

    Ortega refused to divulge which five prisoners would be released first, or how they were chosen, saying he couldn’t do so because some of their relatives had yet to be notified.

    The cardinal also wouldn’t say whether those released after the initial five will be deported to Spain or allowed to stay on the island. Asked if subsequent groups of ex-political prisoners would be forced into exile, he said only that leaving Cuba “is a proposal” they will be offered.

    Sanchez said forced exile is not the same as unconditional freedom and called Wednesday’s agreement “opening the prisons a little, and not to everyone.”

    “These liberations will not mean a significant improvement in the terrible situation of human rights that exists in Cuba,” said Sanchez, whose Havana-based commission is not recognized – but largely tolerated – by the government, which officially brooks no organized opposition.

    Still, according to a report released this week by Sanchez’s group, the number of Cuban political prisoners has fallen to 167, the lowest total since Fidel Castro took power on New Year’s Day 1959.

    If the agreement holds, that number would drop by nearly another third.

    It would also be the largest group of political prisoners freed since the government released 299 inmates in a general amnesty following the pope’s visit 12 years ago. Of those, about 100 were considered held for political reasons.

    “This is joyful news for the prisoners and their families, a credit to the Cuban Catholic Church,” said Sarah Stephens, head of the Washington-based Center for Democracy in the Americas, which supports lifting the United States’ 48-year-old trade embargo against the island.

    She said the government-church deal was “a lesson for U.S. policymakers that engagement – talking to the Cubans with respect – is accomplishing more, right now, than the embargo has accomplished in 50 years.”

    But U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican and Cuban-American, dismissed the prisoner release as a ploy.

    “We must not be fooled,” she said in a statement. “Until all political prisoners are liberated, all political parties, labor unions, independent media are legalized and allowed to operate freely … maximum pressure must be exerted on the Cuban tyranny.”

    State Department spokeswoman Virginia Staab said that “we would view prisoner releases as a positive development, but we are seeking further details to confirm the facts.”

    Cuba’s Catholic Church has recently become a major political voice on the island, though only with the consent of the Castro government.

    In May, Ortega negotiated an end to a ban on marches by a small group of wives and mothers of political prisoners known as the Ladies in White, of which Pollan is a founding member.

    The cardinal and another church leader subsequently met with Castro for four hours. Church officials then announced the government would transfer political prisoners to jails closer to their families and give better access to medical care for inmates who need it. That led to 12 transfers last month, and freedom for paraplegic Ariel Sigler.

    Those discussions also apparently laid the groundwork for Wednesday’s agreement.

    The church’s increasing role helped to defuse a human rights situation that has been tense since the Feb. 23 death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, an activist who died in prison after a lengthy hunger strike. He became the first Cuban opposition figure to die after refusing food in nearly 40 years.

    His death sparked international condemnation.

    The agreement Wednesday cast some doubt on the future of Guillermo Farinas, an opposition activist and freelance journalist who is not in prison but has refused food and water since February to protest Zapata Tamayo’s death and demand freedom for dozens of political prisoners, all among the 75 jailed in 2003.

    He said by phone from a hospital in the central city of Santa Clara, where he has received nutrients intravenously, that he would continue his hunger strike and was prepared to go until he dies. Cuban state media reported that Farinas recently suffered a potentially fatal blood clot in his neck.

    Fidel Castro said Cuba held 15,000 political prisoners in 1964, but officials in recent years say none of their prisoners are held for political reasons – all for common crimes or for being paid “mercenaries” of U.S.-funded groups trying to overthrow Cuba’s government.

  23. THE INDEPENDENT: Still waiting for freedom-Friday, 9 July 2010

    The Cuban regime has a tendency to time displays of clemency to coincide with the arrival of important visitors. In this case the visit of Spain’s Foreign minster to Havana has been accompanied with a decision to release more than 50 political prisoners.

    We should be pleased that these individuals are going free. But at the same time, praise for Raul Castro’s gesture needs to be tempered by the knowledge that not all the democracy activists jailed in a crackdown seven years ago are about to be let out. At least one will never walk free. Orlando Tamayo died on hunger strike in February. It’s also worth asking why this has taken so long, and why the Cuban government has faced so little international pressure over its naked repression.

    The answer, of course, is that in many parts of the world, Latin America especially, and on the left in the West generally, admiration for Cuba’s David-and-Goliath struggle with the United States, and a feeling of disgust about the American blockade of the island, have created a degree of moral blindness concerning the regime’s abysmal human rights record.
    The brothers Castro have been good at playing up to foreigners’ images of their country, as if there is little more to Cuba than bars once frequented by Hemingway, crumbling Spanish palaces, salsa music and warm memories of Che Guevara.

    Cuba does indeed defy stereotypes about communist states as necessarily dreary and lifeless places. But it also remains a police state and its prisons still contain political prisoners, even if there are fewer now than in the past, according to human rights groups. There is neither a free press, nor freedom of expression nor freedom of association. The country has been waiting half a century for the free election Fidel Castro promised when he took power in 1959.

    When these failing are pointed out, the Castro brothers’ apologists invariably point to the country’s free education and healthcare, as if the provision of social services and the denial of political freedoms naturally complement one another. This depressing notion needs to be vigorously countered.

    None of this means we need excuse, let alone, support America’s coercive tactics against Havana. Starting with the Bay of Pigs invasion, this policy has been utterly counterproductive. And the European Union is right to push to bring the regime in from the cold. But neither should we be naive about how far this regime still has to reform before it can join the community of free nations.

  24. Concubio,

    For a long time now, since Alan Gross was arrested I said that the reason he was accused of spying for giving away cell phones and computers was the start to a swap for the Cuban 5 Spies. This is precedence for what is coming!

  25. Glad to hear the good news about the soon to be free political prisoners.
    In my eyes this is victory for Coco Farinnas and the Ladies in White. The Cuban catholic church and “CARA e’CULO CHUPON” Moratinos are just a facade.
    At the end of the day it does not matter who gets the credit, the most important thing is that they will go free and Farinnas is going to live.
    In the other hand watching the whole thing in a bigger context, the exchange of spies between Rusia and the USA could set a precedent for the freedom of the five Cuban spies.In others words the FIX IS IN.

  26. Your words of inspriational and touch the soul of the Cuban people. A brighter day is coming.

  27. I am not ones of those who will bestow kudos on Raul Castro, especially if – as seems likely – the 52 released political prisoners are stripped of their citizenship and forced into exile. In addition to it being immoral to force emigration (Yoani’s words), it is also a violation of Articles 13 and 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  28. The jornalist are free at last!!! And Coco Fari~as has stopped his hunger strike, and small victory for freedom in a hellish country!!!

  29. THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Highlights Communist Repression-Posted July 8th, 2010 at 1:30pm

    The announcement that Cuba’s communist regime intends to free 52 political prisoners over the next few months raises serious questions that require honest answers by the Cuban government and by those anxious to bestow kudos upon Cuban President Raul Castro for these cosmetic and expedient gestures of leniency.

    How many political prisoners? Prominent U.S. Members of Congress—Ileana Ros Lethenen (R–FL), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R–FL), and Mario Diaz-Balart (R–FL)—warn that, by accepting claims that place the number of Cuban political prisoners at less than 200, the U.S. and the international community are being suckered by the Castro regime. The congressmen correctly note that the actual number of “political prisoners” runs in the thousands and includes those jailed for “farcical criminal charges” such as “peligrosidad” (dangerousness) and desacato a la autoridad” (contempt against authority).
    Is the regime just shifting its pattern of repression? According to Elizardo Sanchez of the unofficial but authoritative Cuban Human Rights Commission, the Cuban communist regime is moving to “low intensity” repression in which the regime resorts to short-term detentions of opposition activists rather than long-term jail sentences. Sanchez reports 802 such detentions took place in the first half of 2010.
    Will the prisoners be forced into exile? It is unclear whether the released prisoners be expelled from Cuba unjustly, compounding the injustice of their imprisonment with an “immoral act” as notes intrepid freedom blogger Yoani Sanchez.
    Will genuine dialogue follow? The release of political prisoners will only have meaning if the Castro regime follows up with a serious dialogue with the Catholic Church, civil society, and all dissidents including those soon to be released. Such dialogue must have measurable outcomes. The objective must be the end of all political repression on the island and the process for opening political and economic space to the genuine protection of human rights and individual liberty.
    The releases—if they occur—will lead to additional calls from liberal Democrats and other advocates of normalized relations with communist Cuba to end travel and trade restrictions. Such actions are premature and inconsistent with President Obama’s promise to promote Libertad [liberty] for Cuba. Permitting a few political prisoners to leave their cells is not necessarily a harbinger of genuine change.

    The release of individuals unjustly imprisoned in Cuba’s gulags is welcome news. However, if the system, the laws, and the leaders who locked up the innocent in the first place continue wielding unlimited power, dictating what all Cubans can say and do, and dispense political justice as they see fit, little is gained. The status quo prevails and tyranny triumphs.

  30. GY esta controlado por los COMUNISTAS DE CUBA… Lo digo en Spanish porque es una triste realidad
    Solamente dejan entar a los que a “ELLOS les CONVIENE’
    SHAME ON YOU “MODERADORS” on Yoani Sanchez BLOG…Repeat…SHAME on YOU!!

  31. Simba Sez: Dumir, were you trying to say something and got muddled? I can’t find the part where you are discussing the possible freedom of political prisoners in Cuba, and that’s what this post is about. Yoani seems to think it’s a good thing they are being released, and I certainly agree with that. What’s your position? Out in left field lost?

  32. I have information from a very good source that Guillermo Farinas will stop or has stopped his hunger strike. The official announcement will be released in the coming hours.

  33. dumbir/darko/juan

    Everytime you post you renew your credentials as the “village idiot”, or more appropriately, the blog’s resident moron. You either beleive the horseshit you write or think others will swallow your ravings/propaganda. What a useless tool…

    You are overdue for another name change…

  34. Post 3, if you did not mention the bros Castros, it would be a perfect description of the patriot act in the usa, or the anti-terrorist laws in GB and Australia. Please note that all three laws are still vigent and have not been revoked.

    Let us also note that Osama bin Laden has never been caught, that Iraq is in absolute chaos, and that the war in Afghanistan has been lost years ago. Today the occupators are looking for a quiet exit, leaving the country to its’ own self-destruction and slide back into the abyss of muslim fanatism, which was created exclusively thanks to the nazist state of usa.

    In the greater shceme of the things, who really gives a shit what goes on in Cuba, when there are others, MUCH bigger players, who are screwing what little is left of global peace.

    And not for much longer if you ask me. The lies in the resume of the current usa president have come to the surface (he claimed to have been a professor in Chicago University, when he was a mere assistant with no actual role, both he and his wife have stopped practicing the law almost 10 years ago, yet they were promoted as “successful” lawyers to the day they entered into the white house.

    It also came to light that Obama was indeed born in Kenya, as The Times (if the memory serves me right at the moment)had published in 2004 in an article about him.

    So, lies and political games everywhere. Total disrespect for the people who five them the job, and yo are complaining about some small and insignificant country in Mexican Gulf…?

    Come on, let us get some perspective here. Who is really a danger for the world here?

    usa of course.

  35. This from NYTIME column by Marc Lacey: posted from MEXICO CITY:
    MEXICO CITY — The Cuban government on Wednesday agreed to release 52 political prisoners in the coming months, a dramatic move that might ease international criticism as well as save the life of a prominent dissident who has been on a hunger strike for four months to push for the liberation of inmates.

    The announcement, which would reduce the number of prisoners of conscience on the island by about a third, came after a meeting that included President Raúl Castro of Cuba; Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the archbishop of Havana, and the Spanish foreign minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos.

    The prisoners to be released, five initially, and then, 47 others, were all detained during a major crackdown on dissent in 2003, when the government of President Fidel Castro rounded up 75 activists and journalists who were accused of acting as “mercenaries” on behalf of the United States.

    Of the original 75 detainees, some completed their sentences or were released on health grounds. Those who remained behind bars turned into potent symbols to Cuba’s critics of the government’s heavy-handed approach to dissent.

    The announcement of the decision to release the prisoners came in a statement from Orlando Marquez, the spokesman for Cardinal Ortega.

    The five prisoners to be released first, whose identities were not made public, were to be flown to Spain with their families. The others to be set free will be repatriated, church officials said. “This process will be concluded in three to four months from now,” the church statement said.

    Although the United States did not play a role in the negotiations over the release, some analysts said the accord might help improve relations between Cuba and the United States.

    Wayne S. Smith, a former American diplomat in Havana who favors an end to the American embargo of Cuba, said the prisoner release should prompt the Obama administration to “do something to encourage the trend.”

    Mr. Moratinos, the Spanish foreign minister, had arrived in Havana this week in a bid to save the life of Guillermo Fariñas, 48, a psychologist and journalist who has been on a hunger strike since Feb. 24.

    A previous hunger striker, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, died earlier in February, delivering an embarrassing blow to the Cuban government. He had been a political prisoner and had stopped eating for 85 days to protest prison conditions.

    Mr. Fariñas, who began his hunger strike to protest Mr. Zapata’s death and to call for the release of inmates who are ill, was too weak to talk to reporters on Wednesday, his sister told Reuters. He told The Associated Press though that he might continue forgoing food and water.

    His mother, Alicia Fernandez, was clearly hopeful that he would start eating again. “I feel like I’m born again,” Reuters reported that she had said.

    Mr. Fariñas left little doubt before the announcement on Wednesday that he was ready to die.

    “I want to die in my country right under the noses of the dictators who have the guns, rifles, cannons and bombs,” he wrote on an opposition blog. “I have the moral weight of the people from below, who have been deceived and repressed for 51 years by those who have the weapons, the violence and totalitarian laws they use to govern poorly from above.”

    It was clear that the government was closely following Mr. Fariñas’s protest. Granma, the Communist Party newspaper, published an article that quoted his doctor as saying that he was “in danger of potential death.” The paper, however, failed to describe the subject of Mr. Fariñas’s protest.

    The Roman Catholic Church in Cuba has played an increasing role in recent months in trying to moderate the government. Cardinal Ortega recently helped prod the authorities to lift a ban on marches staged by the Ladies in White, a group of wives and mothers of political prisoners. Church leaders also helped persuade the government to move some prisoners to jails closer to their families.

    “Ortega is slowly widening the political space for the church,” said Robert Pastor, a professor at American University who met the cardinal while helping to arrange a trip to Havana by former President Jimmy Carter in 2002.

    Even as the Cuban authorities were reducing their prison population on Wednesday, a new inmate was flown into the country. Venezuela extradited to Havana a man accused of participating in the bombing of a hotel disco in Havana in 1997.

    Cuban officials say that the suspect, Francisco Chávez Abarca, who was arrested at the airport outside Caracas last week, was a close associate of Luis Posada Carriles, a former C.I.A. operative who lives in South Florida and is wanted in connection with the bombing of a Cuban plane in 1976 that killed 73 people.

  36. The Castro brothers solution to internal dissent is to silence the individuals with the courage to face their repressive forces and if imprisonment does not achieve this the next best solution is their forced exile then they can claim that since they are no longer in Cuba they do not really speak for the Cuban people. This same reasoning is used to ignore the pleas of the nearly two million who have already had to leave the island and are not allowed to participate in their countries future in spite of the fact that most still retain Cuban citizenship.


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