Tropical Sakharov

Guillermo Fariñas with a few of the Ladies in White

Guillermo Fariñas with a few of the Ladies in White

It’s difficult to imagine that inside the frail body of Guillermo Fariñas, behind his face without eyebrows, is a willingness to confront discouragement.  It is also surprising that at the times when his health was most critical, he never stopped caring about the problems and difficulties of those around him. Even now, with his gallbladder removed and painful surgical stitches crossing his abdomen, whenever I call him he always asks about my family, my health, and my son’s school. Such a way this man has of living for others! It is no wonder that he closed his mouth to food so that 52 political prisoners — among whom he personally knew very few — would be released.

There are prizes that impart prestige to a person, that shine a light on the value of someone who, until recently, was unknown. But there are also names that add luster to an award, and this is the case with the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought awarded to Fariñas. After this October, the next recipients of this highest laurel of the European Parliament will have one more reason to be proud. Because now the Prize has a higher profile, thanks to its having been awarded to this man from Villa Clara, an ex-soldier who renounced arms to throw himself into the peaceful struggle.

Who better than he, who undertook an immense challenge and accomplished it, who has given us all a lesson in integrity, who has subjected his body to pains and privations that will affect the rest of his life? There is no name more appropriate than that of this journalist and psychologist whose main characteristic is humility, to be included in a list where we find Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and Cuba’s Ladies in White. A straightforward man whom neither the microphones, nor all the journalists who have interviewed him, nor the cameras’ flashes of recent days have managed to change. With a modesty so admired by his friends, Coco — because even his nickname is humble — has made the Sakharov Prize seem much more important.


38 thoughts on “Tropical Sakharov

  1. @#37
    Slogans …
    For most youth is the catch to their idealism, perhaps not yet able to realize & understand how everything interfaces in real life perhaps for lack of life experience.
    Why would someone risk his/her life for a lie?
    May it be for attention, for expected monetary rewards, for simple ego, to pass the time?
    Is it possible that someone can really believe in what he/she is doing & willing to die for it?
    Why is it that for some the “dying for the cause” is the proof not only of their conviction but the proof of their idealism …
    Yet if someone is willing to do the same it merits insults & disbelief if it contradicts the other’s “ideal”.
    In a country where the rule of law is suspect, where justice may not be always fair & equal any “conviction” may be questioned.
    A conviction issued from a supected judicial system may be the result of political expediency, or personal motivations or many other possibilities.
    More importantly under that rule of law, no one is safe at any single moment & if it so happens it is one’s turn to fall “from grace” … then what the idealist’s opinion & position would be?
    Would he/she still die for the cause?
    How many “heroes of the rebolution” have fallen from grace? how many still within grace … yet in private (for their survival) wish things were different?
    I guess those are the traitors & mercenaries … only because they disagree w/the rebolution which supposed to set all free & equal …
    Slogans … youth & their idealism till they grow up … if allowed to.

  2. To my surprise, when the news of the Sakharov Prize to the world-famous Cuban self-starver Fariñas, even the right-wing swedish newspaper “Swedish Dagbladet” allowed their reporter saying that it is a bit strange that the Cuban “dissidents” received this price 3 of 20 times, which makes the country a world leader in the field. Even this newspaper finds that a little steep.

    Fariñas started his 23rd hunger strike on 24 February. He did this from his home in Santa Clara, because he is NOT serving a prison sentence. He was taken to the hospital to save the life. It happened with his family’s consent. Where he now enjoys free care of like any other Cuban. And he was not sentenced and imprisoned for anything (previously convicted of assault of a female colleague, but this was a few years ago, he was released).

    Jerzy Buzek, President of the EUROPEAN Parliament, said 18 March is “seriously concerned for the State of all political prisoners, especially Guillermo Fariñas”. The day after calling his compatriot Bronislaw Komorwski in Polish Parliament that Cuba would “to release all political prisoners, among them Guillermo Fariñas”.



  3. In the past the regime has used the political prisoners as a bargaining tool, releasing a number of prisoners in a trade for diplomatic or economic agreements. After that the regime has imprison a new group of dissidents, to be use in a future bargaining pressure for political concessions.

  4. Pingback: Iniskogen » Blog Archive » Sacharovpriset gick tyst förbi

  5. Food Rationing In Cuba Seen Through American Eyes-Written by: Rudi Stettner

    Cuba has been making headlines for its efforts to privatize its economy. Since Cuba lost its massive Soviet subsidies back in the early 90′s, it has had to close the gap through austerity and adaptation. A pervasive fixture in Cuban life is the ration book.

    Patrick Symmes is a journalist who went to Cuba and “went native”, living on a monthly ration book and about $15.00 for a month of food. In addition to writing in the October issue of Harpers about his experience, Symmes spoke with CBC’s Rick Macinnes-Rae about his experiences living for a month about living on Cuban rations for a full month. In living for a month on Cuban rations, Symmes lost 11 and 1/2 pounds and gained a gut level empathy for the feelings of ordinary Cubans.

    Cubans are not starving, according to Symmes, but the daily reality of their lives is not a pretty picture. For 1 month, the official ration of rice is about 5 pounds of rice. The first pound costs a penny, and each additional pound costs 4 cents. Beans, which are a traditional staple in a Cuban diet are limited to a half a pound a month, which is used up in a few days. Symmes also noticed “a protein” in his ration book which he described a mixture of soy protein, flour and chicken flavoring.

    Getting more rice than that is a big problem, and involves farmers markets that operate at higher prices, hard currency stores and an underground barter system that is dependent upon items that “disappear” from state stores. Symmes described a system in which items not available in state stores are quietly sold at the back of the state stores. He witnessed and participated in bartering stolen gasoline for stolen chicken and stealing cement so it could be bartered later on.

    Milk and yogurt are available to children under age 7 and adults over 65. The years in between, according to Symmes, dairy products disappear from the ordinary Cuban diet.

    Despite all of the recent reforms, a multitude of government regulations prohibit Cubans from growing or producing their own food. If people were allowed to manage plots of land for commercial food production, a big dent could be made in Cuba’s food shortages.

    Symmes described a system in Cuba in which everyone has an “extra.” This could be a relative in Miami sending a monthly check, a job in a hotel in which foreigners tip in foreign currency or job related theft opportunities. Sadly enough, even nurses and other gainfully employed people turn to a sideline in prostitution to supplement their place in a salary structure in which even doctors earn $30.00 a month.

    Cuba has opened its economy to private individuals providing services such as hair cutting and repairing flat tires. Under Raul Castro, the role of foreign investors continues to grow. But much of Cuba’s threadbare austerity could be relieved by expanding opportunities to privately grow crops and livestock.

    At what point do free market reforms in Cuba reach critical mass and become capitalism? That is a question that troubles Cuba’s communist leadership not only on a philosophical basis but a practical one as well. As long as the survival of the communist system in Cuba takes priority over the well being of its people, stories like that of Peter Symmes will be the daily reality for millions of Cubans.

  6. The military regime calls dissidents “mercenaries” hired by the U.S. Government. Fariñas in an interview sagaciously remarks that mercenary are not known for dying for their ideas, he said, “No mercenary dies for his ideas, mercenaries die for money.”

    A mercenary is a professional soldier hired by a foreign army. A mercenary is essentially motivated by money. The Cubans dissidents aren’t professional soldiers of a foreign country, nor are they motivated by money. They are motivated by their ideals and patriotism.

  7. So Damierda! You going to pay how much in tax? Probably not much since your rants are worth so little!

    NPR: Cuba Makes Self-Employment Rules Official-HAVANA October 25, 2010,
    Potential entrepreneurs lined up outside government offices around the capital on Monday after Cuba made official the grand economic changes it announced last month, raising hopes that eagerly anticipated licenses for the newly self-employed could be issued soon.

    The economic overhaul — the most significant undertaken in communist Cuba since the early 1990s — was outlined in nearly 100 pages of rules and regulations for small businesses published in the government Gazette.

    “I hope this license will bring me a better future,” said Lazaro Ramos, who was one of about 20 people waiting outside a government office in Havana’s 10 de Octubre neighborhood. Ramos, 34, said he was unemployed but was hoping to get permission to make pinatas for children’s parties. “The economy is not good. But with this, I will be able to make ends meet.”

    Officials took down personal details and told applicants to come back in a couple of weeks for more information. It was not clear how long it would take to process the licenses.

    Cuba announced on Sept. 13 that it would lay off half a million workers and push many of them into the private sector. It later detailed some 178 private jobs that will be allowable. But the rules did not become law until they were published Monday.

    The rules published Monday detail four kinds of taxes for the private sector: a sliding personal income tax, a sales tax, a public service tax and a payroll tax. It also establishes minimum monthly fees for different kinds of businesses, as well as deductions Cuban can take to reduce their tax burden.

    Some of the tax rules were detailed in the Communist Party newspaper Granma last week, but the newspaper account lacked crucial details and contained several contradictions.

    The lengthy rules laid out in the government Gazette clear up most of the uncertainty.

    The law establishes 178 private activities for which licenses can be granted — everything from restaurateur to taxi driver, from button maker to party planner. The majority of those businesses will be eligible for a simplified tax system that establishes a monthly quota regardless of revenue.

    For instance, parking attendants would pay 80 pesos ($4) a month, while typing instructors would have to fork over 100 pesos ($5) monthly. Barbers have one of the highest fees: 200 pesos ($10) a month.

    Those not eligible for the simplified tax system — jobs like taxi driver, plumber and rooming house operator — will pay a 25 percent income tax on the first 10,000 pesos ($476) earned each year, with the rate rising for those who earn more. Income exceeding 50,000 pesos ($2,381) a year will be taxed at 50 percent.

    Businesses will also be subject to a 10 percent levy on the total value of their sales, and those that use public services like electricity and water will have to pay a 10 percent tax on top of normal utility rates. The government heavily subsidizes public utilities, meaning the tax should amount to pennies for most businesses.

    Entrepreneurs who hire employees will have to pay a 25 percent payroll tax on their salaries, and all Cubans who are self-employed must 25 percent of their income into a social security system from which they will eventually draw a pension.

    The rules mean that, theoretically, a successful businessperson could face taxes of nearly 75 percent, between personal income tax and social security.

    But the law also establishes many deductions for raw materials, transportation and other business expenses that make such a high rate unlikely.

    The new regulations will allow Cubans over the age of 17 to start their own business, so long as they are permanent residents. Citizens can also apply for licenses for more than one business. They will even be allowed to sell their services to the state, though there will be strict transparency rules to try to stave off corruption.

    The law also establishes up to six months of sick leave and a year of maternity leave so that self-employed workers don’t have to pay tax while they are not earning.

    Cuba is in the midst of a major restructuring of its economy under President Raul Castro. The half million workers will be laid off by March 2011, and the Cuban leader has warned that another 500,000 state jobs must shed within the next five years. In total, that would be about 20 percent of the island’s labor force.

    Castro has insisted the changes do not mean the end of Cuba’s socialist system. But he says the cash-strapped government can no longer afford to subsidize every aspect of Cuban life and has warned Cubans they will have to work hard to make their own way.

    The government currently employs about 85 percent of the labor force, paying workers about $20 a month but providing free or nearly free education, health care, housing, transportation and basic food.

  8. dumbir/john the sandinista/juan

    The multi-personality piece of communist horseshit is back with his usual psychotic ramblimgs. dumbir the chronic bedwetter and micro-phallus has been hiding in his closet all this time, planning his next verbal assault on the nazi’s and capitalists hiding under his bed and inhabiting his fantasy world of heroic communists and evil democrats. What a pathetic and twisted belief system this little ill-informed twirp has where the oppressors and destroyers of nations, ie., the castros, the sandinistas the ayatollahs and the kims are to be idolized and western free societies demonized. dumbir I know you are limited by the scant grey matter in your skull but the next time you come up with another psuedonym it is ok to use something other than juan or john you clueless dumbass.

  9. An idiot just made a comment on my posts. Typical.

    Ad to confirm that the usa is a nazist abomination, here is more on the people who ultimately finance this loser calling herself “Yoani”, and a “pragmatic democratic capitalist”:

    That, and only that is what for yoani is serving obediently her masters. And a hope they will elevate her into some higher level servant once they fuck up her homeland.

    For a fisful of dollars.

    There are prostitutes in Cuba giving themselves to foreigners.

    And there are those like Yoani who sell themselves and their own people.

    All for a fistfull of fast falling dollars.

    Unlike the retard, Gerard Clemente is a respected authority and what he says may just happen. He accurately predicted fall of Soviet Union, Oil crisis, internet bubble and this last financial crisis.

    Read more from someone who knows better than these retards here spitting their imbecile hatred for Cuba.

    Not that local idiots have brains to understand te reality around them, so here’s what one of the most prominent trend researches in the usa, Gerard Clemente says: revolution in the usa. Around the 8th minute of he video:

    No iranian secret services here. Just Clemente.

  10. Ad to confirm that the usa is a nazist abomination, here is more on the people who ultimately finance this loser calling herself “Yoani”, and a “pragmatic democratic capitalist”:

    They use Divide and rule philosophy, usually exploiting idiots and losers like Yoani and her cronnies here, who hate their own country and their own people. They instruct them how to pretend they “love” their own country and their own people, they pay them money and then they destroy a country through internal civil war.

    That, and only that is what for yoani is serving obediently her masters. And a hope they will elevate her into some higher level servant once they fuck up her homeland.

    For a fisful of dollars.

    There are prostitutes in Cuba giving themselves to foreigners.

    And there are those like Yoani who sell themselves and their own people.

    All for a fistfull of fast falling dollars.

  11. An idiot just made a comment on my posts. Typical.

    Unlike the retard, Gerard Clemente is a respected authority and what he says may just happen. He accurately predicted fall of Soviet Union, Oil crisis, internet bubble and this last financial crisis.

    Read more from someone who knows better than these retards here spitting their imbecile hatred for Cuba.

  12. Not that local idiots have brains to understand te reality around them, so here’s what one of the most prominent trend researches in the usa, Gerard Clemente says: revolution in the usa. Around the 8th minute of he video:

    No iranian secret services here. Just Clemente.

  13. Remember how democrats and Obama were loud AGAINST the nazist Patriotic Act (Hillary herself called it nazist law on several occasions, search the net)?

    Here’s what obama and democrats did THIS year, in March: they extended it until the April 2011!!!

    Spying on each other, incarcerating with no reason, for no crime, it is all STILL LEGAL in the usa!!!

    Yeah, shit eater humberto will say “this is from russian TV”.

    Of course. Because it was quietly hidden away in the usa. But it IS official. Search the net and you will find French, Italian, Spanish, German, English and other TV stations confirming it.

    I have found Argentinian and Brazilian TV’s and newspapers reporting it. And a number of smaller TV stations in the usa, the nazist gulag.

  14. Those interested and intelligent people will search more. Here’s some more from La Rouche, trumpeting up removal of Obama.

    No iranian flags and secret services anywhere. Only usanian crimson, surrounded with usa flags.
    And have a look at what Ron Paul has to say about the financial crisis of “perfect” “democratic capitalism”:

    Go through all the videos. Ron Paul is not humberto or trudeau, and certainly not “yoani team”. He comes from the heart of the usa politics. What he says has more weight than some loser calling herself “yoani”, in Cuba.

    Things are just as bad, and most likely worse, for “democratic capitalism” than they are in Cuba right now. It is only a matter of time when will the final implosion sweep and destroy it.

    Cuba will survive the distruction thanks to its’ detachment from the world’s economy.

    What a delightful irony…

  15. For the people who may not know what the idiot calling himself humberto, or trudea, or whatever, is talking about, the presstv IS an iranian TV station. They had interviewed the usanian shit eater called Edward Spanaus, who came out by revealing the plans about removing Obama.

    That it is an iranian TV station, is irrelevant. The person (Edward Spannaus) is real. Do a search on him and you will see who he is and how deep is he rooted into the usa politics.

    And that what he said IS serious.

    Just as Broden’s declaration of republicans planning on violent revolution to remove Obama, should this first, legal, plan fail.

    Who is the shit eater here? humberto, trudeau and similar. Like “yoani” team. Brainwashing right-wanking motherfuckers.

  16. So, let us get this straight: the dissident had full medical support from the hated system, and even operation, all at expenses of Cuban taxpayers, just so he can make himself a rock star?

    And he was not killed during the operation, removing the gallbladder?

    How peculiar.

    Why is that?

    Is that how the Cuban dictatorship operates? It allows dissidents to protest and when they self-harm, it saves their lives?

    Some dictatorship that is. Go to the usa and see how long would you survive without any protesting. No medical unless you have the money for a private care.

    Yeah, not even dictatorships are what they used to be. This one seems to care about its’ own dissidents more than they themselves do.

  17. Horseshit hiding behind humberto, trudeau and similar nicks. How gullible pieces of shit are people like you. I only posted one of the links I found. Take the title of the story and you will find many more, usa-based links covering the same story about the white house official.

    Stupid idiot that you are.

    And how stupid of you to get caught on that one, when the FIRST link is that of DALLS PRESS, usa own.

    Dallas, for your own cuban immigrant/ignorant information is a city in the usa.

    Not that you are expected to know jack shit, as perfectly clearly depicted from your pathetic posts.

    Stop wanking.


  19. Reuters: Factbox: Jailed U.S. contractor, sour U.S.-Cuba relations

    American Alan Gross has been held in Cuba since December on suspicions of espionage, although he has not been officially charged with a crime. The U.S. government has said he was not a spy but was in Cuba setting up Internet systems for Jewish groups under a federally funded contract promoting political change on the island.

    The following are facts about the case, which has stalled progress in U.S.-Cuba relations:

    * Gross, 61, was detained by Cuban authorities at the Havana airport as he was preparing to fly home on December 3.

    * He is said to have been in Cuba installing satellite equipment to provide Internet access for Cuban Jewish groups.

    * He was working as a contractor for Maryland-based company DAI under a U.S. Agency for International Development program aimed at promoting democracy in Cuba.

    * U.S.-Cuba relations had warmed slightly under President Barack Obama, but U.S. officials say there will be no major initiatives with its longtime ideological enemy as long as Gross is held.

    * Cuba views the USAID program as part of the United States’ long-standing campaign to subvert the island’s communist-led government.

    * Cuban officials have said Gross was suspected of espionage and providing illegal satellite communications equipment to dissidents, but the case is under investigation.

    * Cuba’s Law 88 says that anyone who “participates in the distribution of financial, material or other resources that come from the United States government … faces a sanction of three to eight years in prison.”

    * Gross is being held in a Havana military hospital, but his wife, Judy Gross, visited him in Cuba in late July.

    * She has written a letter to President Raul Castro, expressing remorse for her husband’s work and asking for his release due to their daughter’s illness.

    * New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson came to Cuba in late August to meet with Cuban officials about Gross, but left empty-handed.

    * A U.S. State Department spokesman said on September 2 there was no truth to reports the United States may swap five jailed Cuban agents for Gross.

    * Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela discussed the Gross case on September 24 on the sidelines of U.N. General Assembly in New York.

    * Judy Gross said the U.S. government had done little to help her husband.

    (Reporting by Jeff Franks; Editing by Peter Cooney)

  20. Reuters: Scenarios – U.S. contractor jailed in Cuba still in limbo

    – American Alan Gross has been jailed in Cuba for almost 11 months on suspicions of spying. He has not yet been charged with a crime, but there is no sign Cuba plans to release him anytime soon.
    Cuban officials say he may have been a spy and that he distributed satellite communications equipment to dissidents, but the United States insists he was only setting up Internet connections for Jewish groups.

    Gross, 61, was working as a contractor for Maryland-based company DAI under a controversial program by the U.S. Agency for International Development to promote democracy in Cuba.

    The case is fraught with the bitter politics that have marked U.S.-Cuba relations since the 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro in power.

    Here are some scenarios on how this case plays out:


    The Cuban government releases Gross with no strings attached after wife Judy Gross reveals their daughter has breast cancer and needs her father home. For Cuba, it would be a way to burnish the humanitarian image it likes to project by sending doctors around the world to medically underserved countries or to stricken areas for emergency aid. But the communist-led government may not be in charitable mood toward the United States, which has rejected Cuba’s repeated calls to release five Cuban agents held in U.S. prisons since 1998 after what Havana considers an unjust trial. The case barely causes a ripple in the United States, but the return of what are known as the “Five Heroes” in Cuba is a constant topic in Cuba’s state-run media and government pronouncements.

    Making matters worse from Cuba’s perspective, the United States has never let the wives of two of the agents visit their husbands in prison, on grounds they, too, were involved in Cuba’s spy services. Cuba allowed Judy Gross to come to the island to visit her husband in late July, and that may be as charitable as it gets.

    There is also the possibility, probably remote, that Cuba could let Gross go because it decided there was nothing to be gained by holding him, or even that he had done nothing wrong.


    Cuba sends Gross home in exchange for the release of the Cuban Five. This has been suggested by some, speculated about by others and flatly denied as a possibility by the U.S. government. Some believe a swap would make sense, given questions about the prosecution of the five agents, who were rounded up after Cuba shot down two private planes flown by anti-Castro Cuban exiles from the United States in 1996. But it would require that U.S. President Barack Obama commute their sentences, which would be bitterly opposed by the mostly Cuban-American anti-Castro groups and lawmakers who have held sway over U.S.-Cuba policy for decades. They wield considerable clout in Washington and politically important Florida and so far, Obama has not been willing to spend much political capital on Cuba matters.

    There has been speculation the Cuban government might hand over Gross in exchange for assurances Washington would halt the kinds of programs he was involved in. Cuba views them as part of the United States’ long campaign to topple the communist government. But the programs have proven durable in Washington, where they are pitched as another blow for democracy in Cuba, and stopping them would likely produce political problems for Obama.

    Some think Cuba would be disposed to free Gross if Obama eases travel restrictions on Americans going to Cuba. It was reported in August he was about to do so by allowing academics, corporate officials, humanitarian groups and athletic teams to travel more freely to the island 90 miles from Florida. But whatever was in the works has not happened yet. Even if it comes to pass, Cuba may view it as too small a step to warrant a response.

    Last year, Obama removed restrictions on Cuban-American travel to Cuba, lifted limits on remittances sent to the island and initiated talks on migration and postal service. The Cubans said the changes were welcome, but small potatoes because the 48-year-old U.S. trade embargo against the Caribbean island remains in place.


    Gross remains in jail, possibly after finally being charged with a crime, tried and found guilty. Under Cuban law, he could be sentenced to as much as eight years in prison for distributing equipment supplied by the U.S. government. That is the worst-case scenario, but a definite possibility because it could take a big concession by the United States to free Gross, which currently looks unlikely.

    U.S.-Cuba relations had warmed slightly under the Obama administration, but the United States has taken the position that no major initiatives will be undertaken with Cuba as long as Gross is held. So a lengthy stay behind bars would mean that Washington and Havana would remain where they have been for five decades — stubbornly at odds. It has long been speculated that is what the Cuban government really wants, but it insists otherwise. Some U.S. groups prefer the status quo over any accommodation with a Castro-led Cuba.

    (Editing by Peter Cooney)


    Reuters: Exclusive: American held in Cuba expresses regret to Raul Castro

    – The wife of a U.S. aid contractor jailed in Cuba has written to President Raul Castro expressing her husband’s regret for his work there and told Reuters the White House has done little to gain his release.
    Judy Gross said that in the letter, which Castro read but did not respond to, she pleaded with him to free her husband Alan because their daughter has been diagnosed with breast cancer and he is needed at home.

    Alan Gross, 61, who worked for a Washington-area company contracted under a U.S. Agency for International Development program to promote democracy in Cuba, was arrested at the Havana airport on December 3 and has been held on suspicion of espionage and subversion.

    In an interview this weekend, his wife denied he was a spy and said he went to Cuba five times last year to help Havana’s Jewish community gain Internet access to Jews worldwide.

    Cuban officials say Gross committed “serious crimes” by giving restricted satellite communications equipment to local dissidents, but no legal charges have been filed.

    His detention has stalled efforts by Washington to improve ties with the communist-led island.

    Judy Gross criticized the White House for not doing enough to seek release of her husband, whom she called a “pawn” caught up in a decades-old ideological feud between the United States and Cuba. She said she has heard nothing from President Barack Obama.

    The White House said on Sunday it shared her “concern and frustration with the continued unwarranted detention of her husband.”

    “Administration officials have repeatedly made clear to Cuban authorities that Alan Gross should be released immediately to be able to rejoin his wife and family — and we will continue to do so,” National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said in a statement.

    In an August 4 letter to Castro, she wrote, “I recognize today that the Cuban government may not like the type of work that Alan was doing in Cuba.”

    “But I want you to know that Alan loves the people of Cuba, and he only wanted to help them. He never intended them, or your government, any harm,” she said.

    “To the extent his work may have offended you or your government, he and I are genuinely remorseful,” she wrote.

    She told Castro her family needed Gross home since his 26-year-old daughter, whose name she asked not be used, was diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy.

    The only response came at a meeting this month with Jorge Alberto Bolanos, head of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, who offered mother and daughter visas to visit Gross in Cuba. He said President Castro had read her letter.


    Cuba allowed Judy Gross to visit her husband in late July at Havana’s Finlay Military Hospital where he shares a cell with two Cubans. They met during the day for three days in an improvised visiting room.

    “He looked like walking death,” she said of her first sight of her burly 6-foot husband, who in almost 11 months of detention has lost 86 pounds.

    “His pants and shirt were too big. It was a shock.”

    Gross was dragging his right foot due to a disk problem that will need surgery, suffers from arthritis, has gout and developed an ulcer from the stress and diet, she said.

    “For a long time they kept the lights on all night. The heat was unbearable,” she said. Following complaints by U.S. diplomats, his cell now has air conditioning and a television set on which he watches lots of baseball.

    But she returned home to news of her daughter’s illness and when it was passed on to her husband, he was devastated.

    “He felt totally impotent, unable to do anything for a daughter in need. He feels like a caged lion. He cannot relax. He feels he has to get out of there,” said his wife.


    She has met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and praised U.S. State Department efforts on her husband’s behalf.

    But Judy Gross expressed disappointment with Obama for failing to weigh in, even though her husband spent five weeks campaigning in rural Virginia for Obama’s election.

    “Not a call, not even an email,” she said. Alan Gross’s 88-year-old mother Evelyn wrote to Obama and got no response.

    While the Cuban government has not stated its conditions for releasing Gross, a source close to the case said it likely wants Washington to end its Cuba aid programs, which Cuban leaders view as attempts to subvert the communist government.

    “I think they want a recognition that their sovereignty was violated. They see USAID’s ‘Cuban Democratization Program’ as intended to undermine their authority, and one would expect they want that policy changed,” the source said.

    Meanwhile, the Cubans are holding Gross hostage as an example of a foreigner who broke their laws, his wife said.

    “If Alan thought something was going to happen to him in Cuba, he would not have done this. I feel he was not clearly told the risks,” she said.

    (Additional reporting by Ross Colvin; Editing by Jeff Franks and Jerry Norton)

  22. Certainly the mediation by the Spanish government and the Cuban Catholic church help on the release of the political prisoners, but the bulk of the merit for their release shall go to Orlando Zapata who died as a hero last February after a prolong hunger strike, without compromising his ideals; to the Ladies in White weekly Sunday protest for years demanding the release of their love ones, and to Guillermo Fariñas with his hunger strike seeking the release of 26 political prisoners in poor health. They brought world attention to the suffering of the political prisoners, forcing the regime to mediate and start their release.

  23. Certainly the mediation by the Spanish government and the Cuban Catholic church help on the release of the political prisoners, but the bulk of the merit for their release shall go to Orlando Zapata who died as a hero last February after a prolong hunger strike, without compromising his ideals; to the Ladies in White weekly Sunday protest for years demanding the release of their love ones, and to Guillermo Fariñas with his hunger strike seeking the release of 26 political prisoners in poor health. They brought world attention to the suffering of the political prisoners, forcing the regime to mediate and start their release.

  24. Thank you Yoani for this beautiful blog and the international support. What happens in Cuba is SHAMEFUL and its great that these brave individuals are being heard and recognized with these prestigeous awards. We now all need to show more support than ever before. We have to help the oppressed citizens of Cuba and let them know its time to speak up and demand real changes. Coco Farinas peaceful protest will have its place in Cubas permanent history and I hope sparks a new begining.
    Sandokan, thank you also for your excellent posts.

  25. Damir,

    What a gullible fool you are — either that or a paid Quisling. To take seriously Iranian state TV shows you are totally out of it. Normally I am not an advocate of cut and paste, because it is better to voice our own opinions, but here goes:
    The Iranian state-controlled radio and television, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), has acted as an arm of intelligence and security agencies implicated in gross human rights violations since the disputed presidential election of June 2009.

    Research by International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and investigations into the content of programs produced and broadcast by the IRIB reveal a close working relationship between intelligence and judiciary officials in charge of prosecuting post-election detainees, such as in the case of Maziar Bahari, a Newsweek journalist who was detained last year.

    The IRIB has also aired defamatory programs against well–known political personalities and civil society activists, such as Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Dr. Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, a former member of parliament, in the guise of documentaries. The IRIB has also exerted unlawful coercion on the families of those killed and injured during the past year’s protests to make false statements.

    The Campaign is calling for the removal of Ezzatollah Zarghami, IRIB’s director, for his involvement in covering up gross human rights violations and propagating false, slanderous, and unfounded allegations.

    “Iranian state television has colluded with intelligence and security agencies in trampling over the rights of detainees and citizens,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s spokesperson.

    Interviews with former detainees and the families of protestors killed by security forces, coupled with a detailed review of Iranian TV programs, reveal the notable role of the IRIB as a tool in service of human rights violations.

    The Campaign’s research indicates that IRIB producers worked hand in hand with interrogators, intelligence officials, and judiciary officials to obtain and film false confessions. Through heavily edited segments, scenarios were propagated, promoted by the Intelligence Ministry, to conceal human rights violations and make unfounded allegations against dissidents..

    Under Iranian laws, IRIB producers and directors of these programs are guilty of “dissemination of falsehoods,” “insult and defamation,” “slander,” and “disturbing public opinion,” and should be prosecuted in a court of law for their libelous programs.


  26. Long live Guillermo Fariñas! Well deserved of the Sakharov Prize, may he continue to be a light of expression in Cuba.

  27. One of the few non-violent ways used to attract attention to the Castro brothers 51 years dictatorship is engaging in a hunger strike as an act of political protest.
    It is very sad that these hunger strikes have to be used to bring world opinion to bear against the oppression and denial of freedom by the regime and force change.

    Fariñas is a professed admirer of Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Gandhi engaged in several hunger strikes for the independence of India, and he succeeded.

    In “Gandhi’s Letters to a Disciple” he writes, “Under certain circumstances, fasting is the one weapon God has given us for use in times of utter helplessness.” Gandhi felt strongly that fasting and political action was inseparable. So does Fariñas.


    Press TV is state-funded[9] and is a division of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

    The annual budget of Press TV is 250 billion Rials (more than 25 million US dollars).[10]

    Press TV broadcasts news reports and analyses which are close to the official position of the Iranian government, and its programmes are monitored and regulated by the Islamic Republic.[11][12] Although there have been attempts to establish private, independent media outlets in Iran, notably by former Iranian Presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, the 1979 Constitution of the Islamic Republic mandates that “all broadcasting must exclusively be government-operated.”[13]


  30. Here’s the proof of the things to come soon, very soon, for all resident derechistas. Better known as cuban mafia from the slums of Miami:

    The real revolution is near. Can you feel the tremors already? It is Broden who is saying openly that the armed revolution is being considered among the republicans (derechistas putas de perros).

    More here, directly from within the White House:

    Both news channels are a lot more serious than the Huffington Post that feeds this abomination called “Yoani”.


    JUST SPOTTED ONE! John the Sandinista !

  32. And here’s the translation: I propose the Cuban Guillermo Farinas for the “Anastasio Somoza Garcia” prize. The aforseaid award is presented to the batistiano who eats the greatest quantity of shit with the aid of the United States of America.

  33. Yo propongo el Cubano Guillermo Farinas para el premio “Anastasio Somoza Garcia”. Dicho premio va a ser concedido al batistiano que come la cantidad de mierda mayor con al ayuda de los Estados Unidos de America.

  34. The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, was established in December 1988 by the European Parliament as a means to honour individuals or organizations who had dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights and freedoms.

  35. Pingback: Tweets that mention Generation Y » Tropical Sakharov --

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