Nov 24, 2009

Are Reuters and AP Censuring Video of Attack on Cuban Dissident?

Claudio Fuentes has reported (in English) that video footage relating to the violent confrontation between Reinaldo Escobar and a pro-Castro group in Havana Cuba was taken from him by the Cuban police. According to Mr. Fuentes, his video camera was taken away after having been arrested as he was shooting the arrest of one of the people accompanying Mr. Escobar. Censorship by the Cuban regime won't surprise anyone but Reuters and the AP were present for they reported on it. Why haven't they published the full and unedited video footage of all that happened after Mr. Escobar finished speaking?

As reported in my blog post of November 21 the video released in YouTube (first one on said post) and circulating on the Internet cuts off right after showing Mr. Escobar attempting to establish a dialogue with a group of reporters.
According to Reuters: "He (Mr. Escobar) 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."
Yet we haven't been able to see and listen to said subsequent interaction between them or perhaps Mr. Fuentes' alleged arrest, or that of the person he was allegedly filming. So where's the video footage that would help establish the truth?

The Cuban regime has claimed that Mr. Escobar provoked the violent outrage that followed. So where is their footage to prove that? Wouldn't it serve their interests to publish it, since it could prove their allegation that Mr. Escobar somehow provoked the violence? Why don't they return Mr. Fuentes his video footage? What are they afraid of?

Why don't Reuters and AP just hurry up and publish their unedited footage of all that happened right in their faces so the world can know the whole truth? Isn't that their job, that is, as the free press?


Pro-Castro Mob Attacks Cuban Dissident But Castro Claims Saving Him

AP 'covers' attack on Cuban Dissident

Google, the Mainstream News Media, Blogs and Cuba : What I thought was not so crazy after all

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Nov 20, 2009

AP 'covers' attack on Cuban Dissident

Reinaldo Escobar is reported to have been attacked by a pro-Castro mob today upon arriving at the street corner where he had challenged state security agents to a 'verbal duel'. The story is still emerging in spurts through blogs, and even though correspondents from CNN, NBC and the BBC were reportedly present only El Nuevo Herald and the AP have reported anything thus far.

Mr. Escobar was attempting to establish an honest dialogue with the State Security Agents he has accused of beating up Yoani Sanchez, the renowned Cuban blogger and his wife.

The AP version of the story offers many details but it's stunning how it slips in a defense of Castro's infamous State Security Agents. Here's what the AP unabashedly claimed: “Usually, state security gives opposition activists a ride home after a few minutes to keep things from getting too violent.”

Usually? How many other repressive acts, if any, has the AP covered in Cuba the past year?

The AP evidently believes that Castro's State Security tries to protect activists from violence? How many activists have told them this? What are their names, when did they say it and where is it published?

El Nuevo Herald has published this photo gallery.

Nov 19, 2009

Under the Table - Is it going to be Business as Usual for Obama, Yoani Sanchez and Cuba?

Yoani Sanchez has written that she is in direct communication with Obama. She claimed yesterday to have sent him written questions and that Obama has responded. That was fast. She says the White House drafted the Spanish Translation of Obama's response. The White House has not denied it.

In a Spanish video. Juanita Castro, Fidel and Raul Castro's exiled sister, has declared that the CIA asked her (after the end of the cold war) to start saying that things in Cuba weren't so bad. The CIA has not denied it.

Elsewhere Juanita Castro wants to petition her brother Raul for democracy in Cuba. Given family ties, it's understandable that she does not seem to consider her brother an assassin and that you don't ask such people for anything, let alone democracy. Obama and the Cuban people should also have understood this by now. That does not mean that they should be removed by physical force. But it does mean that they should be removed, not engaged in plans for democracy for Cuba, as is apparently happening.

In response to one question by Ms. Sanchez, Obama allegedly wrote:
The U.S. government regularly talks with groups and individual s inside and outside of Cuba that have an interest in our relations. Many do not always agree with the Cuban government; many do not always agree with the United States government; and many do not agree with each other. What we should all be able to agree on moving forward is the need to listen to the concerns of Cubans who live on the island.
Obama does not mention the concerns of Cubans in exile. Why?

Could Obama's preference for 'Cubans on the island' have anything to do with the fact that many are former communists turned into moderate leftists? Yoani's husband was a correspondent for one of Castro's newspapers and Yoani has even praised Castro's first years even though hundreds of thousands of Cubans were forced into exile and hundreds executed without a real trial. Do Yoani Sanchez and Obama believe anyone should face a trial for these crimes or are they far more content with a new leftist government and impunity? Could it be that Obama and Yoani want to steer economic and political power in Cuba towards the new left while marginalizing Cuban exiles, specially the ones who left in the 1960's, 1970's and Mariel? Is that what all of this really means?

Does Obama want and expect 'Cubans' to define their future but under the table? Who does he deem Cuban or capable enough to accomplish this? Evident from his alleged response is that he has included some unelected exiles selected by his administration, but is primarily interested in working with unelected Cubans on the island (selected by his administration) and, of course, the unelected tyranny which Obama, Yoani Sanchez and others insist on legitimizing by calling it 'The Cuban Government'?

In her second question Ms. Sanchez even asks Obama:
"Should your administration be willing to put an end to this dispute, would it recognize the legitimacy of the Raul Castro government as the only valid interlocutor in the eventual talks?"
Obama's answer leaves little doubt that he considers Cuba's government to be the one led by Castro. Should he Mrs.Sanchez? Should he recognize an assassin as the legitimate leader of Cuba? Isn't that what you do?

So is this not then business as usual?

UPDATE BELOW - NOVEMBER 20, 2009 - 12:20 A.M.

Notwithstanding my disagreements and doubts about Yoani politically, I couldn't help but sympathize with her after seeing this video (Spanish) evidently produced with the help of the tyranny. They didn't think twice about violating Yoani's right to medical privacy. Nor about getting 3 doctors, supposedly concerned about her health, to publicly characterize her as a liar.

Yoani is a highly intelligent person and if she had invented the facts of her beating she wouldn't have gone to a hospital to seek help and establish a medical record.

In addition, Cubans report (at great personal risk) getting beaten up by the political police regularly and frequently. The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming.


Where's Fidel Castro?

Surprise! Castros Won't Respond to Accusations by Yoani Sanchez

Preguntas para Yoani Sanchez (In Spanish)

Cubans under siege end fast and sit-in

Protesters who have reportedly been under siege in Havana, Cuba announced an end to their 8 day liquids-only fast and 40 day sit-in. They added that they are not aware if the regime will also end the siege which they have been reporting. The protesters, led by Vladimiro Roca and Martha Beatriz Roque, released a statement declaring that "their demand for the return of the expropriated camera was not their final objective", but that the latter is "only symbolic of our rights, and of those of the people, shattered day by day by 'the Government'."

They added that "...with their attitude of unwillingness to return the loaded (with pictures-my parenthesis) article, and given the meaning of this, 'the Government' has made clear to the world that it does not possess the will to change, and that it will not budge one iota to restore rights ..." 



'Outcome Unpredictable' in Duel of Wills Between Protesters and Castro's Tyranny

Spanish language blog covering the siege and Ms. Roque's health

Siege in Havana: Conflicting Signals and Reports

URGENT: Where's Fidel Castro? - Part II

UPDATE. Cuban Dissidents' Homes Under Siege After Issuing Ultimatum

Where's Fidel Castro?

Nov 16, 2009

'Outcome Unpredictable' in Duel of Wills Between Protesters and Castro's Tyranny

The outcome of a duel of wills between Castro's tyranny and opponents in Havana 'is unpredictable', according to Vladimiro Roca (audio), president of the Social Democrat party and son of Blas Roca (1909-1987), former head of the Cuban Communist party. Out of the 11 original protesters, 6 remain.

Armando Rodríguez Lama had to be hospitalized from dehydration and according to Mr. Roca, he was beaten up by the political police upon attempting to return to the site of the siege. He is now back on the liquid fast but from his own home, outside of which he has reportedly hung his protest signs.

Others had to leave because of conflicting priorities and family life, and one has been accused by Mr. Roca of bad mouthing the other protesters and is suspected of working undercover for Castro's political police.

According to Mr. Roca (audio) one of the remaining dissidents, Yasmani Nicles Abad, is becoming dehydrated. Apparently he is on a total hunger strike and has not been drinking liquids. A transcription of the Spanish text of the audio is available here.

Martha Beatriz Roque, a diabetic, has continued her liquid fast despite not being able to control her symptoms with medications (Ciprocloxacina), which she has had to discontinue because of side effects. A doctor was finally allowed to visit her but allegedly could not remain at the home under siege because of threats from the regime.

According to Mr. Roca, Havana's Cardinal Ortega prohibited a priest from providing Ms. Roque the Holy Eucharist and Extreme Unction. She was only able to receive the sacraments because another priest provided them without requesting permission from the Cardinal. Mr. Roca has asked that Benedict XVI be informed of the Cardinal's refusal.

Mr. Roca is coauthor with Martha Beatriz Roque and two others of "La Patria es de Todos" ("The Homeland Belongs to All"). Mr.Roca's father wrote "The Fundamentals of Socialism in Cuba."

The 39 day sit-in (plantón) and fast while under siege, is reportedly taking place at Calle 39, number 105, between 41 and 43, Nuevo Vedado, Havana. They are demanding the return of an expropriated camera with photos and respect for Cubans' basic human rights.


Spanish language blog covering the siege and Ms. Roque's health

Siege in Havana: Conflicting Signals and Reports

URGENT: Where's Fidel Castro? - Part II

UPDATE. Cuban Dissidents' Homes Under Siege After Issuing Ultimatum

Where's Fidel Castro?

Nov 15, 2009

Siege in Havana: Conflicting Signals and Reports

Partially contradicting CNN's report, Vladimiro Roca protested that the Cuban regime prevented Marta Beatriz Roque from being examined and provided medications by a physician acceptable to her. Ms. Roque is a diabetic and started a hunger strike after being under siege for over 30 days in protest for the expropriation of a camera with photos and violation of Cubans' rights.

According to CNN:
“Authorities have not allowed food or medicine into the house, the dissident said. Under pressure from diplomats, Cuban authorities allowed a doctor into the house Thursday night, Valle Roca said. He would not identify the physician by more than his first name, Ricardo."
On Friday, Mr. Roca reported that Ms. Roque had fainted twice and was suffering from cystitis and kidney pain which prevented her from lying on her back. She is drinking liquids and has taken medications to control her blood sugar which indicates she doesn't intend suicide with the hunger strike. However, according to Mr. Roca she has said that she is willing to pay for liberty with her life.

The physician allegedly turned back was the husband of one of the 12 dissidents under siege. Mr. Roca also reported that the regime had nonetheless sent an unsolicited ambulance for Ms. Roque but that this was in order to appear as 'the good guys', evidently alluding to the regime's notoriety for human rights violations.

Asked about help from other Cubans, Mr. Roca pointed to supporters not being allowed to enter the premises of the siege, but that they are staging 'plantones' (sit-ins) in solidarity at Pinar del Rio, Villa Clara, Holguin, Camaguey and Oriente (now called Granma).

With regard to coverage by bloggers within Cuba, Mr. Roca explained that Cubans didn't have access to the Internet and thus bloggers didn't have much impact within the island; but that they contributed by informing the international community of what was happening within.

This could indeed be a decisive contribution given the Castro's regime absolute media monopoly. However, to my knowledge, the most well known blogs from within the island have (strangely) made no reference to Ms. Roque's condition, the hunger strike or to the 36 day siege taking place so close to them in Havana and reported by bloggers outside of Cuba and even by CNN. Why not?


Spanish language blog covering the siege and Ms. Roque's health

URGENT: Where's Fidel Castro? - Part II

UPDATE. Cuban Dissidents' Homes Under Siege After Issuing Ultimatum

Where's Fidel Castro?

Nov 10, 2009

Stop Execution of Cuban Exile Today -- Biased Trial

How many Cuban exiles were in the jury that convicted Yosvanis Valle for a murder for which he faces execution in Texas today? Valle still contends that he is innocent and that he was convicted because he could not finance a proper defense.

Had Valle had been Mexican he would surely have received financing from the Mexican government for his defense. For the tyranny in Cuba, of course, Valle is just another gusano (worm). They are concerned with defending Cuban spies in the US, not exiles. Thus this Cuban exile ended up being defended by the Texas Public Defender's Office.

Valle, known as “El Cubano”, was convicted by a Harris County jury. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the county is made up of whites, blacks, American Indians, Alaska Native persons, Asian persons, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders and 'Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin'. No Cuban exiles are identified; they are lumped into the Hispanic category even though their political ties to their native land are radically different compared to those of other hispanics and to Mexicans, who constitute by far the majority of US Hispanics.

Cuban exiles are less than 1% of the population and less than 2% of all Hispanics in the U.S.. Lumping them together with other Hispanics might work for the U.S. Census but it certainly prevents them from being provided equal protection under the law as required by the U.S. Constitution.

How many Cuban exiles were in that jury that convicted Valle? Would it have been acceptable if a jury only of blacks had convicted a white Anglo Saxon or vice versa?

Wouldn't the composition of the jury have have been an issue in evaluating the fairness of the trial if a black, Mexican or a White Anglo Saxon had been convicted? Why then has it been irrelevant in determining a verdict and a death sentence for a Cuban exile? Did Valle's defense ask this question? If so, what answer did he/she receive? If not, why is this Cuban exile being executed in Texas today?


Yosvanis Valle was executed by the government of the State of Texas minutes ago.


According to EFE, Mr. Valle confessed to the crime and apologized to the victim's family just before being executed.

His confession does not affect the reasonableness of my argument above nor justify the death penalty.

He was sorry for what he had done. He could have remained the rest of his life in solitary confinement where he would not have been a threat. His executioners believe they had the right to kill him even though they did not create him or were threatened by him.

Nov 9, 2009

Surprise! Castros Won't Respond to Accusations by Yoani Sanchez

CNN reported that the Castro regime refused to comment on accusations by Yoani Sanchez that she and one other were detained and beaten by the tyranny's political police. Of course, and who is going to make them do it? 'Don't make us laugh', the Castros surely boast and with good reason, for thanks to them there hasn't been an independent judiciary in Cuba in 50 years; only tyranny. No separation of powers. These criminals control everything. Who could possiubly be surprised that they admit no questioning? CNN? Yoani?

Gee, someone might even think this is the first time these assassins beat up a woman or a dissident, or that this is as bad as can be reported about them. (I mean, where has CNN been all of these years?) That's also perhaps why the Castros don't respond, that is, because it even serves their interests, by distracting from their more monstrous crimes. Furthermore, absent independent investigations and judiciary, it's their word (or silence) against their victims'.

Or worse. They don't respond in order to implicitly suggest that they proudly admit to their crimes, which they call virtue. Yes and to think that their representative was elected President of the Advisory Board for the UN Council of Human Rights. Isn't that something?

Yet, do I trust Yoani? Here's what she reportedly declared in an interview 2 days after the alleged attack:
"This is what we are seeing in Cuba now: the absence of any sort of argument, handling people through violence and fear. This is all we have left. There is no symbolical legacy, none the things that existed in the first years of the [revolutionary] process. Terror is the only thing that remains."
So you see, for Yoani, in those first years Fidel Castro was just fine. If only we could return to those days? Is this what Yoani thinks?


Cuban Police Beat Up 3 Women Attempting to Visit Dissident Antúnez (Video)

Preguntas para Yoani Sanchez

Preguntas para Reinaldo Escobar sobre "Una Sola Familia (cubana)"

Nov 8, 2009

News Distribution Attacked in Argentina

Two mayor Argentinean newspapers reported attacks on their papers' distribution in Buenos Aires. In addition, blog portal "Voces Cubanas" (, which features Cuban bloggers such as Yoani Sanchez is no longer accessible from at least 2 independent servers and locations in Argentina. However, Ms. Sanchez blog is still accessible here.

The attacks on distribution of print papers began on Friday coincidentally the same day in which Yoani Sanchez alleged having been detained and beaten by the 'political police' in Havana.

In Buenos Aires newspaper distribution trucks were blocked and several distribution points reported threats, thefts and even armed assaults. You may still be able to read about it (in Spanish) in Clarin here and here and in La Nacion, here.


The blog portal "Voces Cubanas" ( is again accessible after having been unavailable for more than a week.