Category Archives: Cuba(n)

American Library Association (ALA) Candidates Speak on Cuban Library Issue

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I received this press release from the Friends of Cuban Libraries:

ALA Candidates Speak on Cuban Library Issue

Sara Kelly Johns and Molly Raphael, candidates for ALA president, spoke on March 8 at the office of New York City’s METRO library organization.

Both candidates affirmed their respect for intellectual freedom as a core value of the ALA, but a specific question from the audience about the Cuban independent library issue identified their contrasting views on intellectual freedom as a matter of policy.

Critics of current ALA policy say that past ALA investigations and panel discussions on Cuba have overlooked or ignored the repression of Cuba’s independent library movement, founded in 1998 to oppose censorship. According to journalists and human rights organizations, Cuba’s independent library workers have been subjected to police raids, arrests, 20-year prison terms and the court-ordered burning of confiscated book collections. Amnesty International has named Cuba’s jailed independent librarians as prisoners of conscience and is calling for their release.

In the only opinion poll of ALA members on the Cuba issue, conducted by AL Direct, 76% of respondents voted for the ALA to condemn the repression Cuba’s independent library movement.

During the question period at the March 8 presidential candidates event in New York, a member of the Friends of Cuban Libraries complained that several ALA investigations and panel discussions of this issue had allowed only one side of the controversy to be fairly heard. The questioner asked Sara Kelly Johns and Molly Raphael to guarantee that, under their leadership, diverse views on the Cuban library controversy would be fairly represented in future ALA considerations of this issue.

Sara Kelly Johns responded to the question by noting that she has paid close attention to the Cuban library issue. She gave assurances that, under her leadership, diverse views on controversies would be heard within the ALA and that the Cuban library issue would not be permitted to “go under the table.”
If brought to Council by a Council committee, the issue would be discussed.

In contrast, Molly Raphael said that the ALA has already established its Cuba policy on several occasions, and she stated it is not the role of the ALA president to challenge settled policies. With regard to the ongoing controversy over Cuba’s independent libraries, she stated it is not a “yes or no question.”

In contrast, the Friends of Cuban Libraries believe book burning is very much a “yes or no question.”

Also see:

fREADdom: How do you catalogue a burned book?

Jailed Cuban Activist Orlando Zapata Tamayo Dies on Hunger Strike

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[Photo taken in 2003 by Adalberto Roque for AFP]

This extremely sad news comes from the Miami Herald:

A jailed Cuban dissident on a hunger strike for 83 days died Tuesday, his mother reported, the first time in nearly 40 years that an island activist starved himself to death to protest government abuses.

It was the first time an opponent of the communist government died during a hunger strike since the 1972 death in prison of Pedro Luis Boitel, a poet and student leader who fought against both the Fulgencio Batista and Fidel Castro dictatorships.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a 42-year-old plumber and bricklayer, stopped eating solid food Dec. 3 to protest what he described as repeated beatings by guards and many other abuses at his Kilo 7 prison in the eastern province of Camagüey.

Active in several dissident organizations, he had been arrested in 2003 amid a government crackdown that sentenced 75 government critics to lengthy prison terms, and Amnesty International declared him a “prisoner of conscience.”

Initially charged with contempt, public disorder and “disobedience” and sentenced to three years, he was convicted of other acts of defiance while in prison, and by the time of his death faced a total of 36 years in prison.

“They have assassinated Orlando Zapata Tamayo. My son’s death has been a premediated murder,” Reina Luisa Tamayo told El Nuevo Herald, referring to government authorities. “They managed to do what they wanted. They ended the life of a fighter for human rights.”

Cuba’s government-controlled news media did not immediately report the death, and the spokesman for the Cuban diplomatic mission in Washington could not be reached for comment.

An increased police presence was reported in the streets of several Cuban cities Tuesday, possibly to avert protests in favor of Zapata, according to the Cuban Democratic Directorate, a Miami group that supports dissidents on the island.

Zapata’s case sparked several street protests by government critics earlier this month, including one during which police in Camagüey detained some 35 people for several hours. The detainees later complained that some of them were beaten during the roundups.

The Directorio Democrático Cubano released the following statement (h/t to Uncommon Sense):

Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a valiant defender of the liberty of the Cuban people, died today, murdered by the Castro regime which refused to guarantee respect for his basic rights. An Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, Zapata Tamayo engaged in a hunger strike of over 80 days to demand such a guarantee and to protest against terrible mistreatment he suffered in the Communist regime’s prisons, including brutal beatings. Zapata Tamayo, who will be remembered as a giant of the Cuban resistance, had been unjustly imprisoned since March 20, 2003.

“The abuses committed against Orlando Zapata Tamayo prove that torture and terror are inflicted upon the Cuban people are official policy under the Castro regime. His death is evidence of the practice of state terrorism,” stated Janisset Rivero, Adjunct National Secretary of the Cuban Democratic Directorate.

In October, 2009, Zapata Tamayo was brutally beaten by military personnel at Holguin provincial prison, causing an internal hematoma in his head so severe that Zapata Tamayo had to undergo surgery. He began his hunger strike on December 3, 2009, at Kilo 8 prison in Camagüey, classified in Cuba as employing a “maximum severity” prison regime. For 18 days, Major Filiberto Hernández Luis, the prison’s director, denied Zapata Tamayo drinking water, the only thing he was ingesting during the strike. The effect of this act of torture was to induce kidney failure. In mid-January, he was transferred to Amalia Simoni Hospital in the city of Camagüey, where he was left to languish nearly completely nude under intense air conditioning, causing him to contract pneumonia. Despite his critical health condition, the regime transferred him to the hospital at Combinado del Este prison, which did not have the equipment and conditions necessary to treat him.

The Cuban Democratic Directorate also underlines that this crime joins a long list of atrocities committed by the Castro brothers which include thousands of executions by firing squad and countless cases of unjust imprisonment of Cuban citizens.

Additionally, Cuban prisoners of conscience Ariel Sigler Amaya and Normando Hernández González are also unjustly imprisoned and in terrible health. Their cases require prompt support and solidarity from Cubans around the world and the international community.

“They finally murdered Orlando Zapata Tamayo. They finally finished him. My son’s death has been a premeditated murder. I thank all of those brothers who struggled not to allow my son to die. There has been another Pedro Luis Boitel in Cuba,” stated Reina Tamayo Danger to the Cuban Democratic Directorate. Boitel was a Cuban student leader who was unjustly imprisoned by the Castro regime and died after a prolonged hunger strike in 1972.

The Cuban Democratic Directorate condemns this horrendous crime. We raise our voice to call for the condemnation of the Raúl Castro regime and those directly responsible for the death of this human rights defender for committing this crime against humanity.

Zapata Tamayo’s death will not be in vain. It will illuminate the path of Cuba’s civic resistance until the Cuban people achieve their freedom.

Wednesday News Items

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Things are getting busy around here. The end of the semester is always that way. Here a few news items to point your attention to:

It appears the Mumbai terrorists had some logistical support from a U.S. citizen. David Headley, the son of Pakistani diplomat, “changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006 so he could hide his Muslim and Pakistani identity and slip more easily into his American businessman cover story while scoping out targets.”  He also served as a DEA informant after getting busted for importing two kilograms of heroin from Pakistan. Read more here, here and here.

Continuing on the counter-terrorism theme, a senior al-Qaeda leader was killed in Pakistan by a Predator drone strike. Abdirizaq Abdi Saleh aka Saleh al-Somali was the number three leader of al-Qaeda after Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Nice shooting!

In other South Asian news, the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is in turmoil due to recent decision by the national government to allow part of the territory to secede and form the new state of Telangana.

In Cuba, a U.S. contractor who was “distributing cell phones, laptops and other communications devices”  has been detained by the authorities. Sylvia Longmire reports, “[t] uunidentified contractor works for Development Alternatives Inc., a development group based in Bethesda, Maryland.” Who, or what, is Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI)? According to their website:

DAI has worked in 150 developing and transition countries, providing comprehensive development solutions in areas including crisis mitigation and recovery, democratic governance and public sector management, agriculture and agribusiness, private sector development and financial services, economics and trade, HIV/AIDS, avian influenza control, and water and natural resources management. Clients include international development agencies, international lending institutions, private corporations and philanthropies, and host-country governments.

More updates will be provided as more information is available.

Moving to the United States, district judge Nina Gershon has decided in favor of poverty pimps community organization, ACORN, by ruling the Congress acted in an unconstitutional manner in singling out the group. I’m not an expert in Constitutional Law, but I know it is the function of the legislative branch, not the judiciary, to decide how our tax dollars are spent. More here and here.

My last item is from NYC where our resident Nehru suited infantile leftist Charles Barron has struck again. This time at a City University of New York groundbreaking he was not invited to (h/t Gothamist):

After getting into a public squabble with a CUNY trustee at a groundbreaking event on Tuesday, City Councilman Charles Barron wants him out. According to the Daily News, the controversial Council member told an audience at Medgar Evers College (a CUNY school), “The Board of Trustees has to change… This is a racist, rednecked right-winger who’s sitting on the Board of Trustees. Make sure you write a letter and say he must be removed.”

This fool wants to be president of the NYC city council.

Cuban Bloggers Attacked by State Security Agents and Pro-Government Mob

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Last Friday, November 13, Cuban bloggers Yoani Sanchez and Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo were on their way to a march in downtown Havana when they were forced into an unmarked car by plainclothes police agents and beaten up. Juan O. Tamayo of the Miami Herald notes:

Blogger Claudia Cadelo and another woman were detained in the incident, but without violence.

“The U.S. government strongly deplores the assault,” said a State Department statement issued late Monday. “We have expressed to the Cuban government our deep concern . . . and we are following up with inquiries to [the three bloggers] . . . regarding their personal well-being and access to medical care.”

Sánchez’ husband, Reynaldo Escobar, told El Nuevo Herald she’s walking with a crutch and taking medicines for a backache, the result of being thrown head-first into a car and punched in the back by the three men in plainclothes who detained her for 20 minutes. There was no word on Pardo’s health.

Cuba’s government-controlled mass media has made no mention of the incident, which received wide coverage abroad because of Sanchez’s fame as the prize-winning author of the blog Generación Y, which regularly criticizes the ruling system.

“The Cuban authorities are using brute force to try to silence Yoani Sanchez’s only weapon: her ideas,” said José Miguel Vivanco, head of the New York-based Americas section of Human Rights Watch. “The international community must send a firm message to Raúl Castro that such attacks on independent voices are completely unacceptable.

“This brazen attack makes clear that no one in Cuba who voices dissent is safe from violent reprisals,” Vivanco added.

The Human Rights Foundation, an independent group also based in New York, decried the “blatant attempt by the Cuban government to silence independent thought and speech” and added: “Does the Cuban government realize the preposterous irony of violently assaulting citizens who were on their way to protest violence?”

Seven U.S. senators from both parties, meanwhile, issued statements Tuesday condemning the incident, with New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez calling it “yet another indication that despite all the hoped-for change on the island, the regime continues to rule with an iron fist that crushes any seed of free speech or human rights.”

The Cato Institute’s Ian Vasquez opines:

It’s the 490th anniversary of Havana today and the Cuban government has arranged for celebratory activities. Ordinary residents of Havana and all Cubans who cherish their civil and human rights have less to celebrate, however, as Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez regularly reminds us. Sanchez has become a major irritant of the regime because of her penetrating posts about the absurdities and injustices of everyday life in communist Cuba. You can see her blog in Spanish here, and in English here.

Just over a week ago, in an incident that was widely reported in the international press and that reveals the threat to the Cuban regime of the growing Cuban blogger movement, Sanchez was assaulted in Havana by plain-clothed government agents. Though she was forcefully beaten, she and her friends managed to fight back and get away. More than that, they took pictures of their assailants and of the incident for posting on the blog, prompting the government thugs to leave the scene. One photo of an agent features the caption “She is covering her face…Perhaps afraid of the future.” Another photo features Sanchez pursuing her assailants with the caption: “They have watched us for decades. Now we are watching them.” Very smart.

Now her husband has been attacked. Reuters reports:

The husband of Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez said he was attacked by government supporters as he waited on Friday to confront state security agents accused of detaining and beating his wife two weeks ago.

Sanchez, whose writing about the hardships of Cuban life were praised this week by President Barack Obama, said men believed to be government agents forced her into a car and hit her repeatedly in a brief detention on November 6.

Reinaldo Escobar, also a blogger, said he had gone to a Havana intersection hoping that state security agents would respond to a challenge he issued earlier to meet there for a “verbal duel” about his wife’s incident.

He said he was speaking to reporters when, in what appeared to be an orchestrated event, several hundred people gathered and began shouting “Viva Fidel” and “Viva la Revolucion.”

About 20 of his supporters began shouting back and the situation turned violent, he said.

“They pulled my hair, hit me with a shoe, tore my shirt, pulled away my bag of books. I lost my glasses,” Escobar, aged 62, told Reuters.

His wife, who was not with him at the attack, wrote on Twitter: “Until when will the language of force, of intolerance and disrespect for the opinion of others be the one that prevails in my country?”

The Cuban government responded quickly to Escobar’s accusations, emailing to foreign journalists a story published in the website laRepublica.es with the headline “The Cuban people are tired of Yoani Sanchez.”

“Your blog provides the world a unique window into the realities of daily life in Cuba. It is telling that the Internet has provided you and other courageous Cuban bloggers with an outlet to express yourself so freely,” Obama wrote.

“The government and people of the United States join all of you in looking forward to the day all Cubans can freely express themselves in public without fear and without reprisals,” Obama said.

Sanchez, 34, has won several international awards and was named by Time Magazine last year as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Obama’s response added to her international stature as Cuba’s leading dissident voice, but she is little known on the island where Internet access is limited.

The Cuban government has made no secret of its distaste for her, but she is among a growing group of young Cubans who have taken to the Internet to express their desire for change on the island.

Released Guantanamo Detainee Responsible for Suicide Bombing

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[Blast crater at Combat Outpost Inman. Photograph by Bill Roggio, Long War Journal]

If you follow the links, the first article from the Long War Journal (by Bill Roggio, March 23, 2008), describes a suicide car bombing in Mosul that killed 13 Iraqi soldiers and wounded 42. Roggio reports an “armored truck packed an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 pounds of explosives through the gate of the outpost and detonated in a spot between the three main buildings of the compound. The blast destroyed the facades of the three buildings, including the building housing the battalion headquarters.”

The second article, also from Long War Journal (Bill Roggio, June 26, 2008), identifies released Guantanamo detainee Abu Juheiman al Kuwaiti, also known as Abdullah Salih al Ajmi as the likely perpetrator of the terrorist attack. Roggio writes Ajmi, “claimed he was tortured while at Guantanamo Bay” and wanted to “reconnect with the Jihad.” Whether Ajmi was telling the truth or is not, the radical left will likely focus on his claim of torture and explain this was what drove him over the edge to commit an unspeakable act. As if Ajmi had no connection to political violence prior to his getting locked up. Internet Haganah terms this behavior, Jihadi Recidivism 101. I agree. If he wanted to “reconnect with the Jihad” that tells me Ajmi was already, at the least, involved with these sorts of terrorist activities.

He sure was.

From WSJ:

Ajmi’s story is hardly unique. Some 500 detainees have been released from Guantanamo over the years, mostly into foreign custody. Another 65 of the remaining 270 detainees are also slated to go. Yet of all the prisoners released, the Pentagon is confident that only 38 pose no security threat. So much for the notion that the Gitmo detainees consist mostly of wrong-time, wrong-place innocents caught up in an American maw.

The Defense Intelligence Agency reported on May 1 that at least 36 former Guantanamo inmates have “returned to the fight.” They include Maulavi Abdul Ghaffar, who was released after eight months in Gitmo and later became the Taliban’s regional commander in Uruzgan and Helmand provinces. He was killed by Afghan security forces in September 2004.

Another former detainee, Abdullah Mahsud, was released from Guantanamo in March 2004. He later kidnapped two Chinese engineers in Pakistan (one of whom was shot during a rescue operation). In July 2007 he blew himself up as Pakistani police sought to apprehend him.

Ajmi’s case now brings the DIA number to 37. It’s worth noting that these are only the known cases. It is worth noting, too, that people like Ajmi were among those the Defense Department thought it would be relatively safe to free, or at least not worth the hassle and expense of the litigation brought about by cases like Rasul.

All this should give some pause to those – John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton among them – calling for closing Guantanamo. The prison is helping to save lives by keeping dangerous men from returning to the fight against our soldiers.

Stranger still are those who argue that people like Ajmi were somehow a creation of Guantanamo. They might want to have a chat with a detainee named Mohammed Ismail, who told the press after his release from Gitmo that his American captors “were very nice to me, giving me English lessons.” Ismail was recaptured four months later while attacking an American military position in Kandahar.

So why was Ajmi released?

Saturday Miscellania: “Is Fidel Part of the Zionist Movement?”

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The wife and I went to Carnegie Hall last night to see Al Green and Dianne Reeves. It was a fantastic show. Ms. Reeves’ filled the entire hall with her rich voice. And her band were no slouches either. When Mr. Green took the stage the place went wild. It felt more like a stadium than Carnegie Hall. He may be getting old but he still has his moves, grooves and oodles of soul. What a show.

What you should be reading this weekend:

Bob from Brockley: The Real Axis of Evil (an old post as Bob is on vacation)

But I am a Liberal!: Some positive developments

Contentious Centrist: Discusses Arthur Herman’s excellent article, “Why Iraq was Invetiable”, from this month’s Commentary.

Don’t Trip Up: Oppressors closer to home discusses a recent article by Farooq Sulehria in which he claims the Islamic world is not oppressed by the U.S., Israel, Europe, or the West but by terrorist organizations and governments who claim to be acting in the name of Allah.

Internet Haganah: Jihadi Recidivism 101

Israpundit: On the expected release of terrorist Samir Kuntar

Martin in the Margins: Rewriting history

ModernityBlog: Open thread on how to defeat the fascists

NeoConstant: All Quiet on the Eastern Front

Simply Jews: Abu Hamza The Hook is going places–final

The Stark Tenet: Obama is nothing but a politician

Sultan Knish: The Prostitution of Peace and The All-Powerful AIPAC

Always a bit strange to see how people find your blog. Some of the search terms are understandable but the strangest one this week was:

“is fidel part of the zionist movement”

Um, I don’t think so dude…

In other news, NeoConstant and The Stark Tenet were added to my blogroll.

Cuban Independent Libraries Need Your Help

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[h/t to Friends of Cuban Libraries]

The 2008 annual conference of the American Library Association (ALA) begins this week in Anaheim, California. Three members of the ALA Council, Barbara Silverman, Shixing Wen and Cristina Ramirez, have introduced a resolution condemning the persecution of Cuba’s independent library movement and calling for the release of imprisoned librarians. The resolution also takes note of the burning of confiscated library books in Cuba and demands that surviving books be returned to their lawful owners.

While support for this resolution should be unanimous among those dedicated to freedom of thought and expression, there is an organized pro-Castro faction within the ALA. This group denies the existence of censorship, library persecution and book burning in Cuba.

As is often the case the majority is in the middle and uninformed about the specifics. ALA Councilors are unaware of Cuba’s grim reality and receive much of their information from biased committees dominated by the pro-Castro faction, with results that could be expected.

But thanks to the new resolution on the ALA Council’s agenda, now is the time to change ALA policy. Ms. Silverman, Mr. Wen and Ms. Ramirez are being attacked for daring to speak the truth about Cuba. We need to let them know how much we appreciate their principled support for intellectual freedom and justice. They need our encouragement in standing up for truth and freedom.

ACTION NEEDED… PLEASE ACT IMMEDIATELY TO SEND MESSAGES OF SUPPORT TO:

Barbara Silverman (kidzread@aol.com)

Shixing Wen (shwen@umich.edu)

Cristina Ramirez (cdramirez@vcu.edu).

You don’t need to be an ALA member, a librarian or a U.S. citizen to make your voice heard on this crucial issue.

Every message counts. Your message can be short or long, but the main thing is that you send a message today! And please express support for the principle of intellectual freedom, avoiding any language that could be regarded as “political.”

Among the points you can make in your messages are:

* The issue of library repression in Cuba is a matter of principle, not politics
* Express thanks for their defense of jailed library workers who cannot defend themselves
* The ALA has a duty to speak out against book burning wherever it takes place

Solidarity with the Cuban People (Not the Government)

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[h/t Solidaridad Cuba]

This May 21 get involved in the global effort to demonstrate support for freedom and human rights in Cuba! Champions of Freedom from all over the world are organizing events and listing them on our global solidarity map.

How can I take action on Cuba Solidarity Day?

  • ORGANIZE a peaceful march or vigil in a public place! Use white t-shirts, candles, and posters and pass out information on Cuban political prisoners and on human rights violations in Cuba to members of your local community!
  • ENCOURAGE at least 10 other friends, colleagues, family members and neighbors to do the same!
  • MOBILIZE your community leaders – teachers, church ministers, political leaders, human rights organizations, and activists!
  • REACH OUT to local and international media and let them know why you are taking action!
  • SHOW your support for Cuba Solidarity Day through Facebook and MySpace!

Let’s demonstrate our support for Cuba’s political prisoners, respect for the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and the right of the Cuban people to choose their own destiny and live freely and peacefully! Join us as we call out in one voice to demand peace, freedom, and democracy on the island!

READ MORE:

Vaclav Havel: Our Stand Against Castro’s Cuba

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[H/t The New York Sun]

PRAGUE — Five years ago, the European Union was on the verge of fulfilling one of the aspirations of the Velvet Revolutions that swept across Central and Eastern Europe by expanding from 15 to 25 members through the accession of several post-communist states. Yet, while the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain may have fallen into the dustbin of history, others vestiges of the Soviet era remain firmly in place. Certain areas of the world have been transformed for the better, even as others have been suspended in time to fend for themselves. One place that has not changed is Cuba, despite Fidel Castro‘s decision to retire and hand the reigns of power over to his brother Raul.

On March 18, five years ago, Castro’s government cracked down on the Varela Project and other civil society initiatives rather than risk allowing a spark of democratic reform to spread across Cuba as it had in the former Soviet bloc. The 75 prisoners of conscience locked up were dissidents, independent journalists, leaders from civil society, and librarians, who had dared to speak the truth openly about what life is like in Cuba. Even though seven prisoners have recently been released, 52 of the 75 remain incarcerated in deplorable conditions. In general, the only reason that any of these prisoners were freed was because of how seriously their health had deteriorated.

Given how central the values of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law are in Europe, we feel it is our obligation to speak out against such injustices continuing unchecked. Less than 20 years ago there were political prisoners on the E.U.’s borders who were denied the basic rights of freedom of speech and expression, lived in constant fear of being denounced, and dreamed about enjoying what Europeans in the “West” took for granted.

Cuba’s regime has remained in power, the same ways that communist governments did in the former Yugoslavia, Poland, the former Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — the last three as part of the Soviet Union — by using propaganda, censorship, and violence to create a climate of fear. Likewise, the solidarity that was expressed by those outside of these countries helped bring about the changes.

Cuba is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that has not embraced democracy and continues to repress all forms of political dissent. Today, Cuba is closer to making genuine democratic changes due to sacrifices made by dissidents and activists inspired by how other parts of the world have been transformed since the end of the Cold War.

We believe that the former communist Central and Eastern European countries are in a unique position to support the democracy movements in Cuba based on the similarities of their histories and experiences. Our intentions in pushing for democratization are based on friendship and cooperation, good will, and an understanding of the needs, expectations, and hopes of Cuban people.

We, the undersigned, believe that the E.U., as one of the driving forces in international politics, needs to speak out in unison against governments oppressing their own citizens. The E.U. should denounce human rights violations in Cuba and call for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience. The ministers of foreign affairs from all E.U. member states should send a demarche on March 18 to their Cuban counterpart demanding their release as well.

The actions taken or not taken by the Cuban government should be used as a benchmark when the European Council reviews the E.U.’s Common Position on Cuba in June. Lastly, the E.U. should continue actively supporting peaceful democratic movements and civil society organizations in Cuba by taking advantage of the intrinsic knowledge some of its member states have about making a transition to democracy.

Five years ago the dream of several former Soviet satellites being members of the E.U. was becoming a reality. Dissidents and those committed to the spread of democracy had made this possible. The time has come for us to repay that debt by helping those in Cuba, whose dreams have already been deferred for too long.

Mr. Havel is a former president of the Czech Republic. Other authors of this article are: Ferenc Köszeg, Hungarian Helsinki Committee; Rexhep Meidani, former president of Albania; Vytautas Landsbergis, Lithuanian MEP and former president; Milan Kucan, former president of Slovenia; Mart Laar, former prime minister of Estonia; Kim Campbell, former prime minister of Canada; André Glucksmann, philosopher; José Ribeiro e Castro, Portuguese MEP; Edward McMillan-Scott, British member of the European Parliament; and Leszek Balcerowicz, former president of the Bank of Poland. All are European based members of the International Committee for Democracy in Cuba. © 2008 Project Syndicate.

Brian Latell on C-SPAN 2’s Book TV

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fidel-book.jpg

Latell, a former Cuba analyst for the CIA, National Intelligence Officer for Latin America from 1990 to 1994 and a senior research associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami discusses his recent book, After Fidel: The Inside Story of Cuba’s Regime and Cuba’s Next Leader. This event was part of the Raleigh International Spy Conference at the North Carolina Museum of History. The panel was titled: “Castro and Cuba: The Inside Story.” Powerful stuff and not to be missed. Click here to view.

The emphasis of this year’s conference is “CIA’s Unsolved Mysteries,” featuring the top experts in counterintelligence to discuss unresolved issues from the Cold War:

  • Pete Bagley, the former chief of CIA’s Soviet bloc counterintelligence division will defend his controversial new book on KGB defector Yuri Nosenko, with its mysterious connections to Lee Harvey Oswald and John F. Kennedy that kicked off 40 years of unresolved internal strife at CIA.
  • David Robarge, Chief Historian for CIA and expert on infamous counterintelligence chief James Angleton, will discuss the controversy created by the former chief of counterintelligence for the Agency by his obsessive hunt for a Soviet mole.
  • Brian Kelley, the wrong man in the Robert Hanssen spy case – and former counterintelligence officer for CIA, will use examples of defectors and double agents he uses as case models for courses he teaches to train espionage agents.
  • Jerry Schecter, former correspondent for Time magazine in Moscow during the Cold War, and respected expert and author of books on Cold War espionage, was on hand to witness for the press the important cases of defectors and double agents in the heat of the Cold War.
  • David Ignatius, former foreign editor – now columnist for the Washington Post – and author of espionage fiction, is respected in the “community” for his insights on the impact of defectors and double agents on the craft of espionage.