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Archive for March, 2012

Goodbye Machadito*

Hey, guajiro, it’s me Julio Machado, how are you my brother? And your wife? How’s it going? Hey I’m following you on the news.

He made it hard for me to recognize his voice, he disguised it to not sound bad and the cell phone coverage was poor. Hey, guajiro, how’s it going, listen buddy, I don’t know your voice, in these days when communication is hellish. His voice sounded tired but never lost its usual humor and he never treated his compatriots on the island with anything but affection and friendship. His disease was taking over but he persisted in living. Listen, brother, don’t worry, I’m thinking back to Radio Marti in September. He knew the internal resistance needed him, that he wasn’t just another journalist. Perhaps now I sensed his approaching end but to avoid one more source of pain and worry we ignored the seriousness of it. It was late July.

When he was only 16 this peasant from Baez had gone to prison for distributing proclamations against the Castro dictatorship. After he was released, still very young, he was forced into exile among the captive peoples of the western provinces of Cuba. Little did this simple, natural and always cheerful peasant who would later leave for exile in the United States, imagine that he would wind up on Radio Marti in one of the most noble jobs: reporter. Nor did he know he would make so many friends all over Cuba and that his death would be so mourned.

From Thursday to Tuesday during the night we would listen to him. How are you man, how are things going, who should I call? Or, I called so-and-so or what’s-his-face, I’m very concerned about this or that. I remember one time of crisis in a certain sector of the opposition with the radio station, when he was worried and advised that we weren’t acting in the best way, something we understood.

I don’t forget how much he insisted that people and the opposition understand the real magnitude of remaining in the air for a station like Radio Marti living under the eyes of and with the sinister attempts of the regime and its agents on and off the island to remove it. When there were any awards or recognition for an opponent or an independent journalist Julio vibrated with emotion as if it were his own. I remember when the political police through known agents in Havana posted on the internet the false information that I was in negotiations to move to Chile. Guajiro, hey, hey Chilean peasant, he said laughing, call me when you get to Chile. Ah, don’t fuck with me, brother, I said. He relaxed me telling me that these slanders were normal and I should be prepared for it and not devote my time to responding to provocations, that was their goal, to divert my attention. And it was true, my slogan, “I won’t shut up and I’m not going,” annoyed and ate away at them and especially worried the tyranny and its henchmen.

And Julio Machado was not only the journalist who called in a formal tone to record a report and I don’t think he could have ever done more because his solidarity, affection and concern overflowed. There is an anecdote which speaks so little but it so illustrative of what that great Cuban meant and radiated: once there was a group of opponents and independent journalists in a video conference meeting in Havana in which were present, from the other side, several journalists from the station and they suddenly began to request the presence of Julio Machado and they had to go looking for him. I was not present at this conference but all the attendees I asked told me that when Julio appeared everyone stood up and started clapping and his reaction was to blush from embarrassment.

Although at the time of death he had been absent for many months because of his illness, he had something that made an impact and it will be difficult to recover from this loss. It always hurts to lose a friend, but it hurts more when it is someone we have come to love so much.

When I spoke by telephone with his wife from the funeral home thanks to Janisset Rivero and my sister Bertha who accompanied her in her grief, I tried to explain what is Machadito meant for us which is unimaginable, when I say we, I mean not those of any organization, tendency or particular region of the country but for all Cubans. And even sometimes we would say, hey, guajiro, how is it possible you call for so few hours and communicate with so many people; he replied with his smile and just told me, because, brother, it’s me who’s sorry and I do he work I can as a patriotic duty and I suffer with you and he added, you are unable to imagine how I suffer, Antunez, when they are beating you, when I arrive and I hear they beat Idania, Yris, Sara, Rondon. When he finished with his speech I was left thinking, this Julio is really special.

One of the things that made him greater and immortalized him is that despite having their own vision of the Cuban reality, he never questioned any project or initiative, let alone opposition groups or leaders, and he would have been able to do because he was connected and knew everyone, but it was quite the opposite. As a journalist he reported all views and opinions even in the most contentious issues.

Julio was also a school friend and inspiration to independent journalism on the Island. While recording GE listened to you and without diminishing you, he would suggest, and anyone who reported always wanted to record with him. He also had a trick that made his friends laugh and excited novices and beginners. I asked him what had happened and when he finished there were recordings with the raw and unedited testimonials. And after the stress and fear of talking on the radio, he would say forget about everything around you and that you’re going out on the radio, concentrate on me you’re talking with as a friend, and say it in your own words.

His great concept of friendship, his love for his fellow workers and the workplace he showed openly and without an air of bravado. Antunez, here we’re a group do not worry, he would tell me when I reported the news that another journalist that I had wanted to report to him. The opposition or the journalist who gave the news to Julio Machado had the certainty that it would air and that detail increased the confidence in him and his work. Now I wonder what would Machadito would have felt if he had known about the later repression and the lewd abuse to the girls of Rosa Parks whom he so admired. Now I wonder if he learned of the murder of Wilman Villar? God forbid, otherwise such suffering and helplessness would surely have precipitates his death. Until when will worthy Cubans keep falling without seeing their homeland free.

Brother Julio, you know what I regret most in what you just happened to you? That physically there is no remedy, that I can not hear your voice any more, and your sincere smile, that we could never get together here in Baez Park or Casallas in Placetas to have the coffee that we had promised we would when Cuba was free and that sooner or later stations like the one you performed on you with so much love would not have to report violations, abuse and all forms of human rights violations, because we assure and promise that our efforts and teachings and examples of men like you, will make the tyranny that oppresses us fall, guajiro, and that your descendants will not be captives people nor will they die in distant soils and among strangers.

Rest in peace dear brother, the country is grateful and proud of your worthy passage through life.

* Julio Machado, a journalist of Radio Marti, who died on February 3, 2012 in Miami.

February 6 2012

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Transcript of recording.

Speaking is Idania Yanes Contreras, president of the Central Opposition Coalition, Santa Clara and a member of the Women’s Movement for Civil Rights Rosa Parks. February 1, 2012.

“Well we are here at the headquarters of the Central Opposition Coalition located on the Extension of Marta Abreu 93 A between B and C in the Virginia neighborhood here in the city of Santa Clara. This march is held the first day of each month and at the moment we are surrounded by a large number of State Security and Police officers.

“Also this march… the last March we dedicated to demanding the release of Ivonne Malleza Galano and her husband Ignacio Martinez, and this march is dedicated to demand the release of Yazmín Conlledo Riverón and her husband Yusmani Rafael Álvarez Esmoris, who have been incarcerated since last January 8 and that unjustly and falsely accused of crimes. But I also take this opportunity, since February 4 marks the 99th anniversary of the birth of Rosa Parks, and our movement honors her name.

“From the town of Placetas: Xiomara Martín Jiménez, Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, Yaité Diosnelly Cruz Sosa, and from Santa Clara are Yanisbel Valido Pérez, Damaris Moya Portieles, María del Carmen Martínez López, and the speaker Idania Yanes Contreras.

“We are carrying a sheet that says March for Freedom and Against Impunity, Release Yazmín Conlledo and Yusmari Álvarez Unjustly Imprisoned. Rosa Parks Women’s Movement. Long Live Human Rights.

“We’re leaving here, and well, we know we aren’t going to walk very far, they are already there, and they are watching us and we are leaving here on this march.”

Beginning of March: The continuation of transcript includes the audio of the march.

Freedom for Yazmín Conlledo Riveron y Yusmani Rafael Álvarez Esmoris, Freedom ….

Long live human rights, long live …

Down with repression, Down ….

We are being arrested.

And piercing screams of pain and protest from different women.

“Don’t put your hands on my breasts, murderer, don’t put your hands on my breasts, murderer, murderer human rights violator. Do not hit me, murderer, stop hitting me, you are going to kill me, don’t put your hands on my breasts,  don’t put your hands there again henchman, don’t put your hands on my breasts, don’t put your hands on my breasts, murdered, dog, Ahhhhhh! Don’t put your hands on my breasts.”

Voice of a soldier talking to another: “She has a cellphone there, she has a cell phone there.”

“Murderer, I do not stick your hands in the breasts, Ahhhhhh! … Stop that …”

Here the call was cut off. Minutes after the arrest Barbara Moya, eyewitness to the events and mother of Damaris Moya Portieles, one of the victims of the cruel and brutal act against these defenseless women, said:

“Look at the officials of State Security and the National Revolutionary Police they were all over the women in the Rosa Parks Women’s Movement, they pushed them, they threw them to the ground because there are peaceful and it took between six and seven police officers for each one the grabbed from the ground, pushing and mistreating them like the political police do in this country. There were about 20 or 30 policemen for the ladies of Rosa Parks.

“We were recording everything they were doing and the people from State Security took a blanket they brought to cover it up and put it in front of the camera so that we could not record them. We said that the world would find out all this, because even though they put that blanket  up we could record something.”

February 1 2012

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Compatriots, brothers, sisters, all Cubans, executive directors and members of this coalition of coalitions appalled by the cowardly assassination of political prisoner Wilman Villar Mendoza, who died on Thursday afternoon as a result of torture and mistreatment during a long agony on hunger strike during which he demanded fair and transparent criminal proceedings, which would provide all the procedural guarantees for his defense, we want to share with all our countrymen out of Cuba this declaration.

First Orlando Zapata Tamayo, then Wilfredo Soto García, and later Laura Pollan and Wilman Villar Mendoza, are murdered by the Castro-Communist tyranny, all in just a few months. The latter was a cunning display of impunity and cruelty, another innocent life is lost and another family suffers.

How long will we allow them to continue killing such worthy Cubans? Why is the international press accredited in Havana silent in the face of this new crime and silent and indifferent to the heartrending cries of his wife and the desperate pain of his orphaned little girls? Why so much fallacy and complacency? Why are there so few strong statements from the democratic governments of the world and international organizations?

We do not see anywhere international sanctions to condemn and stop this crime wave. What do Pope Benedict XVI and those who organizing and preparing his famous visit to the Island say? Where is the Vatican’s reaction before the murder of this young 31-year-old Christian and defender of human rights?

This new and cruel murder shows that evil and death are not isolated events in Cuba, but are part of a strategy of annihilation and terror by a sinister machinery of terror and extermination called Castro-Communism that can continue killing if we do not take urgent and concrete steps to stop it.

Compatriots in the crime of Wilman is the answer to those who opt for the approach to and compromise with Castro, those who believe the Vatican visit will contribute to the freedom of Cuba. How long will you continue to allow opportunistic lacks of faith and promoters of discouragement and continue to contribute to crimes like these, oxygenating a tyranny that kills and does not pay?

Wilman’s murder shook the entire Cuban nation. His executioners should have no illusions, hundreds, thousands and thousands of Wilmans, as happened with Boitel and Zapata, will continue rising up until Cuba is free and we will do in spite of those who divide inside and outside, of those politicians and mobsters who persist in depriving the resistance of  its resources and attack those who support those who resist and fight in Cuba.

Given the current situation and the seriousness of police violence against the peaceful opposition Cuba, we believe that the moment demands a tough position against the Castro tyranny, lest our brothers continue to fall. Our Front says to you, brother Wilman, they killed you physically, but morally you is more alive than ever, because like Zapata and Boitel you overcame those jailers who thought to make you surrender and your resistance forms part of the path and we will follow your example of calling things by their name, and those outdated and deluded people who chose to approach, be flexible, and compromise are precisely those who killed you.

The international community must be very alert because we do not know what will happen in Cuba in the coming hours. The hordes of the tyranny are terrified because they know the crime they committed. At present important civil society leaders have been arrested and others are besieged within their homes. What do they fear? The awakening of the people who said enough is enough with crime and impunity. The regime knows what itdid and just like in the Arab world the Cuban spring is at their doors and Wilman’s death brings us closer to that time.

These are Raul’s reforms, these are the openings, these are the opportunities totalitarianism provides us. So they kill the best sons of the people, those who try to buy us with bigger remittances and leisure travel. That is the answer to those who believe that Cubans are just pigs for fattening with materialistic things and not people with rights, No! Know that Cubans on the island need is freedom and democracy and that we condemn out oppressors and will not continue to give them oxygen to commit crimes as horrific as that committed against Wilman. Marti said freedom is very expensive and we must be resigned to living without it or pay its price and its price was paid by our brother Wilman.

The Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Front of Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience and the signatories of this document say, Fidel and Raul Castro, the Civic Resistance Front loudly calls you MURDERERS and assures you that your crime will not go unpunished, you will pay for it.

Signed

Raúl Luis Risco Pérez, a political adviser

Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo, National Spokesperson

Eriberto Liranza Romero, coordinator in the west

Idania Yanes Contreras, coordinator in the center

Julio Columbie Batista, regional coordinator in Ciego de Avila, Camaguey.

Delmides Fidalgo Lopez, coordinator of the east

José Díaz Silva, political advisor and director of the independent libraries project of the Front.

Ricardo Pupo Sierra, Cristian Toranzo Fundichely and Yoan David González Milanés Front leaders.

Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, national coordinator

Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez, general secretary of the Front.

January 21 2012

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Young people from the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy with Eriberto Liranza

Now it was the turn of Eriberto Liranza Romero. Now is he whom we have to discredit, destroy and above all to make his brothers in the struggle to lose confidence in him. The smear campaign to discredit and destroy Liranza, unlike those against other members of the resistance, has a more insidious and serious side. And cowards and opportunists who have been given the unscrupulous  task of reaching out to some embassies to deliver reports and gossip against the undisputed leader of the most sensitive and important sector of the Cuban opposition: the youth. Eriberto chairs the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy.

Eriberto, despite his short time as a civic activist and not being as well-known, has proven to be a natural leader which thus arouses the jealousy of some which is used by the political police attack and discredit him.

I am a faithful witness to the unifying effect of this young Christian and of the repressive arsenal of tyranny that is spent against him unlike some that have been hidden to say “that Eriberto and his constant protests and making noise have put him at the center of things in the neighborhood.”

Yes, if that is what someone says from the opposition and in certain places they give priority to trying to stop him, then he is truly a youth leader. The last straw is that certain little characters attack Eriberto and the Front, people who are astute collaborators with the political police with this novel method of collaboration that consists of joining with our oppressors to report how many activists will participate in this or that meeting or event. And in the worst case, a certain individual in the capital gave the officers who besiege the corners of his home, a list of people who may or may not join in the activity.

I have a friend who on getting out of the prison suffered a bitter disappointment that unfortunately took away from the opposition, when, hours after he was released he went to the capital to visit his brothers of the organization and was arrested at the corner of the site, unable to get home because there was a meeting of opponents and officials intercepted him and will not let him even get close because he was not in the list of participants, to wit approved by the political police.

It is unfortunate that in some places they are closing the doors to men like Eriberto Liranza who doesn’t give way and promotes democracy through acts of civil disobedience, so that his home is under siege, and he is systematically arrested and beaten. However, the odd bourgeois, alarmed because of the protests and acts of Eriberto have perverted the district and will receive promotions to adulterated projects, which are limited to photos, little meetings, in short to these underhanded compromises that some make with the State Security.

A week ago some police officers were given the task of writing letters apparently written by Eriberto Liranza attacking the Ladies in White and other  opponents. But the strategy is absurd and no longer has the desired effect of the institution that spawned it.

But what most infuriates and annoys the friends and brothers of Eriberto’s struggle is not  the smear campaign orchestrated against him, we are already accustomed to the Communists doing this, but that officials of rank, prestige, and even knowledge and experience are falling into the trap of playing the game to damage the reputation of those who with no intention of notoriety, fame or recognition are at the forefront of the struggle and pro-democracy activism in Cuba. And they know well, our Front will not allow them to continue attacking any of our brothers and to echo the lies. Whoever serves the executioner, let them come…

February 12 2012

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