Mar 29, 2009

Report of Attempt to Visit Antúnez and Cubans under Siege in Placetas

Claudio Fuentes, a Cuban on the island, has written about his attempt to visit Antúnez in Placetas. These are rights which he alleges were violated:
1. "The inability to roam freely in any zone or region of the national and sovereign territory...."

2. "...the right to make a phone call while detained..."

3. "...the simple right and freedom to assemble with whomever we wish..."

4. "...the civil right to freely get information through whichever means we feel like,"

5. "...the power to later disseminate our views about this...The little Internet that we manage to scrounge will also serve to denounce them and to express ourselves."

6. "...after having had my cameras returned, I realized that they had erased the photos contained in one of them..."

You can read his account of the experience published in English courtesy of Octavo Cerco's blog here.

Who, besides the regime and affiliates, can read it inside Cuba?

Mar 28, 2009

Don't Ask Stupid Questions

The technology is terrific; the problem is human. One can with not much difficulty imagine José Marti and Antonio Maceo armed with cellphone video cameras mobilizing insurgents remotely and live, or even texting warnings to the King of Spain and General Weyler. Sure their videos and messages would have been intercepted but at least the mainstream media wouldn't have so easily been able to customize an insurgency narrative that could subsequently be used to justify a US military occupation.

What's being debated today of course is not a US military occupation of Cuba but something far more lucrative: a full fledged multi-billion dollar US tourist invasion, perhaps even led by one-sided activists such as Yoko Ono's US based sister. Not at Placetas, Cuba. No, that is not a tourist destination yet. The mainstream media has something far better for now: New York's 'Chelsea Visits Havana'.

The US President now is of course a black, not McKinley, and he doesn't seem to be buying the story to the dismay of US and international Cuba investors who have been foaming at the mouth as they jockey for position to trade tourism, culture, food, cattle, nickel, cigars, sex, sex changes, genetics, genetic parts, and energy with the 20th and now 21st century's version of Valeriano Weyler.

No, Yoko, or Yoko's sister, supporting a tyranny wasn't John Working Class Hero's idea of love. He was for the life of the people Yoko, not for perpetuating tyrannies. How could you possibly have gotten them mixed up?

Others of course think differently. They believe that art and cultural exchanges will transform the tyranny, not legitimize it while institutionalizing repression, which they contend is no different in Cuba than in China, Bush's Guantanamo or even much of the rest of the world.

Indeed at Havana's 2009 Biennial which opened Friday there is even a painting of torture chambers in Cuba, the U.S.S.R, Argentina, Chile, the Pentagon and the US Guantanamo base! How's that for freedom of expression? Yes, Cuba is so free that they allow, after negotiations 'of course', a painting depicting Villa Marista, a former Catholic School turned torture chamber by the Fair's sponsor. Yes, the same Castro we all know, or no, his brother, or well, no, both and either. The point is that any Cuban (allowed in) and any tourist can sip on a Cuba Libre (rum and Coke) while beholding a painting depicting a Cuban torture chamber, right inside Cuba, with the torturers themselves sponsoring the event, and the tortured, perhaps alive or being crushed just a few miles away. Hey, some might even think: this is even better than abortion on demand (yes, that's legal in Cuba too, just like the US. So much alike now, see!)! How's that for change?

--Can we also get a video of those Cuban State Security forces surrounding those 5 supposedly non-violent protesters in Placetas?

--No, no and no. Period. That's real life stuff. That's not allowed. Just art. Just fiction.

--Could some newspaper perhaps send one of those journalists covering the Biennial or the US Art Fair to Placetas to at least take pictures of the siege?


--Why not?

--Look, bloggers are already covering it.

--But they are not there! Why can't US and International newspapers there take some pictures and videos of what's happening in Placetas? Maybe even interview both sides?

--Because........Hey look, below you can watch a video of the 5 fasting protesters before they were supposedly surrounded by 'State Security' and as they were being carried out of a nice Cuba hospital by their friends as they left of their own free will. Yes, free will. Free will. Free will. They're free, free, free. Take a look.

--But how about a picture of what has happened to them since?

--Well, ah, you can look at them in the Herald, They've published a picture of Antunez, their leader, resting happily on a cot. You can see it for yourself here, that is, if the Herald's link still works. Yesterday, they pulled the Spanish version of the story from circulation. No, I don't know why.

--Yes I see. I saw it. But that seems to be the same as one of the frames on the video. How about the New York Times? Aren´t they covering what may be happening in Placetas?

--The New York Times already did in 1897. You can see that here.

--So who is covering it now?

--What do you want? Everyone's at the US Cuba Art Fair or at the Biennial. Look, if you want a video on Antúnez under siege in Placetas we already published one above. It's an 'exclusive' from

--But where does the video show the State Security Forces surrounding them? What about the siege?

--You ask too many stupid questions. I already told you the mainstream media doesn't cover that. They are completely booked covering the Cuban Art Fairs! That's the future, get it? Once Antunez and the other 4 surrender or die perhaps Placetas can become a tourist destination too. If he's still alive then, Antúnez might even be able to earn some money signing autographs. Heart buried, like Geronimo, remember? How can you be so thick skulled?

Mar 27, 2009

I know this may sound crazy but is Google part of Media blackout on Antúnez and the ongoing siege in Placetas?

While the most well known US and international newspapers continue to ignore the siege of 5 fasting Cubans in Placetas by 'State Security', bloggers continue trying to alert the world to the unfolding events to the extent they are able to objectively confirm them.

Yet bloggers such as me are also facing a daunting challenge and from no less a media powerhouse than the Google search engine. Yes, the Great Google.

Typically Google will post my blogs and a little while later they appear on its search engine if one queries with 1 or 2 of the keywords mentioned on the title of the post. If one then sorts the results of the search by date, they appear immediately and on top of later ones. If one sorts by 'relevance' they will appear at some point depending on how relevant Google's search engine has evaluated them to be.
Such, however, is not the case with my 2 posts (one in English and the other in Spanish) relating to the media blackout on Antúnez and the ongoing siege in Placetas.

They don't appear if one sorts the search either by date (March 26) or relevance. I tried it with the keywords 'Antunez', then 'Antunez Placetas' and finally with the exact titles:

Continua Bloqueo de Noticias sobre Antunez y Disidentes Sitiados en Placetas, Cuba

News Blackout on Antunez and Dissidents Under Siege in Placetas, Cuba Continues

If you wish to confirm this, try searching them in Google or Yahoo and you may see they are just not there, even though others can presumably reach them by going to this blog, but only if they happen to know my blog's address. However, my other posts are available. Other later posts by others appear when these posts should be. What's most curious is that they don't even appear if one searches for the whole title of the post! Ironically, the posts are about a media news blockage.

Possibly there's a logical and justifiable explanation for this selective censorship of my posts and they may even appear soon after I post this. Let us not get paranoid yet, but if the problem continues with these 2 posts , I wonder what else might explain this phenomenon apart from censorship.
Meanwhile the news blackout on Antunez and 5 others under siege in Placetas, Cuba continues and the US or international mainstream media has yet to visit, confirm and report...and I was even hoping for our friend Google's help with this. Still am.


Less than 1 hour after I posted this it can be found on the Google Search engine. However, the other 2 that are cited above still do not appear in Google's search results. This new post is the one that appears in Google search results when one searches for those other 2.

I will proceed to take out the photo of Antúnez published by the Herald which I had inserted in said 2 posts as allowed by copyright 'fair use' provisions. Perhaps that is what has been causing the problem. We'll see.

.........................UPDATE # 2...............................
The post "News Blackout on Antunez and Dissidents Under Siege in Placetas, Cuba Continues" has not been blocked by Google. However, it does not appear in a blog search but rather in a standard Google web search. I guess Antúnez and I should be thankful and suppose this means it's been upgraded (although it should appear in blog searches as well). The Spanish version does not appear anywhere yet.

I wonder who can read it in Cuba.

Mar 26, 2009

News Blackout on Antunez and Dissidents Under Siege in Placetas, Cuba Continues

The news blackout on Placetas has now become a story too. No, of course I'm not referring to Granma and Castro's Cuban media monopololy. Everyone knows they will not publish anything that threatens their totalitarian grip.

Nor is it a full news blackout but something perhaps more subtle. Indeed, The Miami Herald published a piece today, although below the real Cuba headlines where they focus on what Fidel and Mariela Castro have to say today (distracting everyone's attention to something other than the siege of 5 dissidents of course). Nothing in it demonstrates that the Herald visited Placetas. Yet it published a picture of Antúnez resting happily in a cot.

No pictures of State Security forces surrounding his house. Are these forces not really there or did the Herald just not send a journalist to take pictures? If so, why not and why wasn't it explained in the article? Surely the Herald has correspondents in Cuba. Just take a look at the gallery of pictures they have published on the "Bienal de arte en La Habana". How were they able to take those pictures but none of State Security presumed to be surrounding the dissidents' house?

Apparently the Herald's report is for some yet unknown reason based not on a visit to the site of the siege but on a long distance telephone conversation with Antúnez. So, Antúnez has access to a phone. Hmm. Did they ask him if he had attempted to leave the house to get nutrients or to phone someone to bring them? Apparently not. Why not?
What is the Herald trying to tell us is happening in Placetas? Is it that Antunez is taking a nap in America's favorite future tourist destination? No, of course not. The pictures are accompanied by words, sentences, even a message.
The Herald claims that Antúnez house is " that visitors can't reach because the Cuban National Police won't allow it." How do they know this if they have not visited the site? Are they just taking Antúnez and a couple of other dissidents' word for it, thus implicitly making the story of what is happening less credible? Surely the Herald must be aware that the Cuban apparatus is going to deny anything the dissidents claim. How could they have failed thus far to attempt to obtain objective evidence of what may in fact be happening? Pictures of the siege. Recordings of the Agents surrounding the house. Videos of someone trying to enter. One knows the Herald is capable of all of this so are are they just not interested in investigating what is objectively happening in Placetas? If so, why not? How could the art fair in Havana (gloriously featuring those responsible for the siege of the dissidents), or Castro's and his niece's worthless dictatorial propaganda be accorded better coverage than this? Isn't their media monopoly sufficient proof that what these 2 may have to say cannot stand up to objections?

Sadly and perhaps soon even tragically, the Herald's notion of objectivity in this case is at best amateurish. Indeed rather than attempt to confirm or deny objectively the slow assasination of 5 dissidents that may be taking place, today's article raises suspicions about Antúnez by telling readers that the "...Cuban 'government' (my quotes) revealed that he had accepted funds from a Miami organization ...with ties to terrorism..." Oh, I get it, Antúnez and the other 4 are perhaps a terrorist cell. All this human rights talk in Cuba is just a cover for terrorism. Do they mean the Al Queda type? Of course not. Just terrorism, or, better yet, the Cuban exile type. You know, Posadas Carriles and those hundreds of thousands of other terrorists. The same crowd who with the US tried to assasinate Fidel over 200 times (see the art show in Havana). Readers, that non-violent dissident, the one taking a nap in the picture published by The Miami Herald is perhaps really planning to blow up Fidel's Cuban Apparatus. Don't you trust him. Don't believe him. Not to worry, we won't investigate any further.

Why hasn't the Herald or any international journalist visited Placetas? There are 5 men supposedly on a liquid fast but supposedly with no access to nutrients. State Security forces supposedly have tried to gas them out and supposedly refuse to let anyone enter or exit. Why hasn't any international journalist gone there, taken pictures, videos and asked some questions right on the scene as would be the case if this were happening anywhere else? If they have absolutely no nutrients, how much time do they have left to live? Is that what the Cuban apparatus and the international media are waiting to find out?

Mar 25, 2009

Scarce News on 5 Cubans Under Siege

What exactly is going on in Placetas, Cuba?
News on what's happening with the 5 Cubans under siege in Placetas for a week remain scarce. appears to be the only news outlet reporting on the story. Yet their coverage is apparently based only on conversations with a spokesperson for the 5.

Today they reported that the dissidents were gassed last night while they slept and in order to force them out. In addition State Security poured petroleum on the porch, placed 'obsecene and aggresive signs' on the premises and harrassed them verbally but from outside. Antunez, the leading dissident and black has accused them of racism and reportedly manifested: "They have used the black race as their flag and now don't tolerate that us blacks question the system."
Why are they under siege and prevented from obtaining liquid nutrients to continue their fast? Have they attempted to exit to get nutrients? Has anyone tried to deliver nutrients? Have any international journalists attempted to visit the premises in Placetas? If so, what happened in any of these cases?
Has the International Red Cross sought access? Would 'State Security' be willing to allow them in? What nutrients do the dissidents have in storage, if any? How many more days or hours do they have left without nutrients?
................................UPDATE................................................. and are both reporting the detention of dissidents attempting to visit the 5 under siege in Placetas.

Mar 24, 2009

Solidarity with 5 Fasting Cubans Grows even as Castro Tightens Screws

"There's a sign at the entrance to Antunez home that reads as follows: 'In the US Obama asked for change and became president. In Cuba Oscar Elias Biscet asked for changes and he is behind bars. Both of the men mentioned are black; the American lives in what is an exemplary democracy for the world. The second, Biscet, lives under a ferocious tyranny headed by the tyrannical Castro brothers."
The quote was posted as a comment by someone identifying as "Encasa De Antunez" (#37) in tonight.

Antunez, a dissident and former political prisoner who recently ended a 30 day hunger strike but immediately continued with a liquids only fast (along with 4 other dissidents) now finds his home (and the sign) surrounded by Cuban 'State Security'. They refuse to allow anyone to enter and deliver liquid foods or medications to the fasting dissidents.
In other words, Cuban 'State Security' is either executing orders to force them back on an absolute hunger strike (assasination) or attempting to force them to stop protesting for their rights.
Expressions of solidarity with Antunez are nevertheless growing although not yet as fast as the unprecedented avalanche of solidarity with Castro's tyranny of the past several weeks.

How will those nations with diplomatic relations with Cuba respond? How will they conduct good relations with the tyranny? Will they intervene on behalf of the dissidents and attempt to provide them with liquid foods despite the tyranny's siege? Will they demand that the siege be ended? Will they condition their diplomatic ties to the respect of human rights in Cuba? Or will they remain silent to avoid disturbing their relationship with the tyrant?

Mar 17, 2009

Lula the Great: Castro Si, Embargo No...Hmm.

If in 1976 a pedestrian in San Francisco merely demonstrated interest in crossing a street all approaching cars would immediately halt. One then would cross the street or avenue and no one even rushed you. The first time I experienced this I felt a 'renaissance of wonder' (no, not like Ferlinghetti partially but critically botched up in "I am Waiting"). This is civilization! So I thought.

Some 20 years later this was no longer the case. The one with the car was the one with the power and with a mere honk of the horn made sure you knew you were crossing or intending to cross his or her street.

With comparable arrogance, insensibility and indifference Lula today honked his horn at millions of Cubans, declaring to the Wall Street Journal "There is no human, sociological or political reason to maintain the embargo on Cuba."

No, Lula, of course not. You are the one with the car and there is no reason to halt for Cubans crossing the street.


That's all for now for I'm not president of Brazil. I need to work.

Mar 3, 2009

Cuban exiles demand respect for Human Rights

Cuban exiles demanded the respect for human rights in Cuba in front of the Cuba Mission to the United Nations in New York City. Here is a video of the animated gathering:

Mar 2, 2009

S. 428: The Cuba Travel Act - Part II - Response to a new objection

RESPONSE TO ANOTHER OBJECTION TO THE EMBARGO (begun below in my post "S. 428: The Cuba Travel Act" on February 27)

Fifth objection and response (objection submitted as a comment on March 1 by Al Godar of 'Blogs Sobre Cuba' ) is that the embargo must be lifted because in his experience
"...a great portion of the Cuban people believes that the United States hates us and want to harm us..."

To respond to this objection some facts first need to be clarified.

Given the history of US-Cuba relations since 1898 Castro and others have constantly hammered on valid arguments against the United States. The U.S. intervened in Cuba 1898, without invitation, in its war for Independence, occupied the nation with 50 thousand troops and 'settled' with the Spaniards while forcing Cuba's legitimate leaders to the margins. Under threat of continued occupation the US then imposed the Platt Amendment on Cuba's first constitution thereby awarding itself, uninvited, the right to intervene in Cuba's internal affairs. Furthermore, Cuban history is packed with derogatory statements by US Congressmen and Presidents about the Cuban people (see "Cuba between Empires" by Louis Perez). As if that were insufficient, the US flag was propped up on the island after the war of Independence and Cubans were forced to lease Guantanamo to the US undert threat of continued occupation.

There is no doubt that all of this and much more is part of every Cuban's education under Castro, and, regrettably, rightfully so. Yet that is only the first part of the story.

In 1936 the Platt Ammendment was revoked and by 1940 Cubans approved a new Constitution, without the Platt Ammendment and as a sovereign and fully democratic republic. The US did not intervene.

There were elections in 1940, 1944 and 1948. Three months before the 1952 elections former president Batista was significantly behind in the polls and executed a military overthrow of Cuba's democratic government. The U.S. under president Truman recognized Batista's coup government as legitimate in just 15 days. So again the US gave Cubans reason to believe the U.S. was a hostile nation. This is the second part of the story and Castro tells it well.

The third part begins with Cuba's civil society (urban organizations and student leaders) and Castro's 26th of July movement uniting forces to evict Batista and restore the constitution. On January 1, 1959 they succeeded and Cubans were euphoric but also expected elections and Castro promised as much. Yet on January 3 he started appointing presidents, first Manuel Urrutia and subsequently Osvaldo Dorticós. No elections. On February 1959 he even recognized the 1940 constitution but then proceeded to step all over it, ruling by decree, authorized, according to him, by 'the revolution'. Thusly he began the process of installing a totalitarian state with informers on every block, opponents (including various revolutionaries) imprisoned or executed after summary trials; and first tens, than hundreds of thousands of Cubans fleeing the country with the revolution betrayed by one of its leaders.

With close to 20% of the population in exile, 16 years later Castro pushed through a 'new constitution' (1976) that was according to him, almost unanimously approved. He midified it in 1992 and again in 2002. To make a long story short, Castro's regime, now supposedly run by his brother, remains in power 50 years later. He allows Cubans no means of directly electing a president or reestablishing a multi-party democracy such as the one Batista overthrew. This is the third part of the story and it will cost you dearly if you try to publish it in Cuba, as dissidents will attest.

Therefore, to answer the objection, the correct response cannot possibly be to finance Castro by lifting the embargo. Such a strategic move would most definitely work against the best interests of the Cuban people and of the relationship which the US should strive to establish with them. Lifting the embargo would be an alliance with the tyranny just as it occurred in 1952 with Batista, not an alliance with the Cuban people, as it should be.

The first part of the correct answer is to educate Cubans inside and out about the full history of Cuba, not just the parts that Castro uses to justify perpetuating his regime's tyranny.

The second part of the correct answer is for the United States to recognize its past violations and to inform Cubans (1) that they will never happen again and that (2) the embargo is there to help evict the tyranny and nothing else.

El blogero Al Godar de 'Blogs Sobre Cuba' ha sometido la objeción, mediante un comentario el 1 de marzo, de que el embargo hay que levantarlo porque
"Una gran parte de la población cubana piensa que los americanos nos odian y quieren jodernos."
Nos explica que la tiranía ha convencido a muchos de que es así, intentando con eso auto justificarse.

Luego de hacer un breve resumen de las graves faltas cometidas por los EE.UU. con Cuba entre 1898-1939 y nuevamente en 1952, respondo (en Inglés) que levantar el embargo gravemente heriría los intereses del Pueblo Cubano y también el tipo de relación que el gobierno de los Estados Unidos debería de intentar establecer con este, pues sería una alianza con la tiranía como ocurrió en 1952 con Batista, en vez de una alianza con el pueblo, como debería de ser.

La repuesta correcta al odio a los EE.UU. que Castro ha cultivado para auto justificarse, debe de ser en primera instancia la educación. Es decir, hay que educar al pueblo cubano sobre como la educación que Castro les provee distorciona la parte de la historia que comenzó el 3 de enero de 1959, fecha en la cual comenzó a designar presidentes en vez de reestablecer la constitución, y convocar elecciones, la verdarera razón por la cual se derramó sangre cubana en la revolución.

La segunda parte de la repuesta correcta es que los Estados Unidos debería de publicamente reconocer sus errores entre 1898-1940 y en 1952, explicándole al Pueblo Cubano que (1) jamás volverán a ocurrir y (2) que el embargo es una alianza con ellos y no con la tiranía, y cuyo único propósito es el de ayudarlos a erradicarla.

Mar 1, 2009

US embargo on Cuba - Debate in Congress

How much are Cubans worth? A debate in U.S. Congress

-How much are the human rights of Cubans worth?
-Well, it's hard to say. The Council of Hemispheric Affairs says the embargo costs the US 3.5 billion, but I've seen figures as low as $1 billion.
-So the per capita cost per Cuban is somewhere between $76.92 and just over $200. Is that lifetime or annual?
-Annual, annual, of course.
-That's too much. Castro would never pay that much for one. How much does he rent them to Spain, the Neatherlands, Canada for?
-$15 monthly.
-That's too much. How many Cubans did he trade for one tractor in 1961?
-Hey, comrade, better not let Obama hear us talking like this. Just make it law fast.

Council on Hemispheric Affairs says:
Blockade on Cuba Costs US Economy More

H.R. 188: The Cuba Reconciliation Act (U.S. House of Representatives)

S. 428: The Cuba Travel Act (U.S. Senate)