Archive for May 3rd, 2013

René González has been given permission to remain in Cuba!

May 3, 2013

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In a huge development in the case of the Cuban Five, the court has finally granted a motion, first made last June, to allow René González to serve the remaining portion of his three-year parole in Cuba, after which he will of course be able to remain in Cuba, outside the jurisdiction of the court. Until this time, the court has required him to spend that parole at an undisclosed location in Florida, requiring him to remain in virtual seclusion because of the danger to his life from the very terrorists whose plots he and the other members of the Five came to the U.S. to expose.

René has been in Cuba for two weeks to attend a memorial service for his father Cándido, who died recently.

Phil Horowitz, Rene’s attorney, said: “Rene and I are happy that he will be able to be permanently reunited with his family. Rene’s exemplary conduct shows that these are not individuals that the government has made them out to be. We are just so happy and will take all the steps pursuant to the court order.”

The 7-page court order by Judge Joan Lenard describes the requirements for his right to remain in Cuba. The principal requirement is that he renounce his citizenship, which he willingly offered to do previously (René held dual U.S.-Cuban citizenship). To renounce a U.S. citizenship, it must be done outside of the United States, as per U.S. federal code, Section 1481 a(5).

We are extremely happy for René, who has, along with his Cuban Five brothers, been unduly punished for being a proud defender of his people, his homeland and the Cuban Revolution.

This development must give all the Cuban Five supporters great inspiration to continue the fight so that Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio and Fernando can return home immediately!

National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
Email: info@freethefive.org * web: http://www.freethefive.org

Statement by H.E. Bruno Rodríguez , Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Human Rights Council

May 3, 2013

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Statement by H.E. Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, during the presentation of the National Report to the Universal Periodic Review performed by the Human Rights Council. Geneva, May 1st, 2013

Mr. President:

Cuba is honored to present its second National Report to the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism (UPR) performed by the Human Rights Council. It does so feeling proud of its humane work and its performance to ensure the enjoyment of all human rights by all its citizens.

The economic, political and media blockade imposed by the United States which Cuba has resisted undefeated for more than fifty years, is a mass, flagrant and systematic violation of human rights which causes damages, scarcities and hardships, but has not managed to hinder the provision of equal opportunities, the equitable distribution of wealth or the realization of social justice.

The relentless attempts by the United States to impose a “change of regime” on the Cuban people is a serious violation of its right to self-determination, which has failed to prevent the active, democratic and direct participation of its citizens in the construction of its constitutional order, the decisions adopted by its government or the election of its authorities.

Appearing before this Council is a country without persons who are helpless or deprived from their dignity; where there are no children lacking quality education; where there are no ill persons lacking a dedicated medical assistance or senior citizens devoid of social protection. Ours is a nation where there are no workers, peasants, intellectuals or students whose rights are not protected by law; a place where public safety is guaranteed; where there is no organized crime or drugs. Appearing before this Council is a united people, with a profound social cohesion; a State where there has not been a single extrajudicial execution; where there are no tortured or disappeared persons; where there are no kidnaps or secret prisons.

This exercise is being held on the International Workers’ Day, which is being joyfully celebrated in Cuba by millions of compatriots and hundreds of friends from all over the world in all streets and squares. They do so as free men and women, in the defense of the rights they have achieved. They are not masses of people who are rightfully outraged, or workers who have lost their jobs, or students besieged by high costs or debts, or immigrants persecuted for reasons of selfishness, racism or xenophobia. May our solidarity go to all those who are struggling, anywhere in this planet, for human rights for all, for peace and development, for the survival of the human species, which is being threatened by colossal arsenals and climate change.

Mr. President:

This report is the result of a broad and participatory process of consultations which involved several governmental institutions, the Parliament, several civil society organizations and other relevant institutions.

The follow-up to the recommendations accepted during the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review was the main objective of the works carried out by the National Group which coordinated the process and drafted the report.

Significant economic and social changes have taken place since Cuba’s first presentation before this mechanism back in 2009. We have moved forward in the process of institutional development; we have continued to improve citizens’ participation and control as the fundamental basis of our democracy and upheld our efforts to achieve a sustainable development with social justice.

Cuba remains committed to its irrevocable determination to move forward with its socialist, autochthonous, original, democratic and openly participatory development.

We have not come here to present a completed work; nor do we intend Cuban socialism to be considered a model to anyone. Neither do we accept the existence of a unique or universal democracy model, much less the imposition of the political system of the western industrialized countries, which is currently going through a crisis. We likewise reject political manipulation, hypocrisy and double standards which are often present in human rights debates.

Mr. President:

One of the most transcendental developments occurred since the last session was the adoption by the National People’s Power Assembly of the Guidelines for the Economic and Social Policy of Cuba, which are a set of essential decisions aimed at the updating of the Cuban economic and social model as well as a government program.

The Guidelines were adopted after a very broad popular debate in which millions of Cuban men and women had absolute freedom to propose more than 400 000 amendments which modified two thirds of the draft and put to the vote each and every one of its twelve chapters. This was a peculiar experience of direct consultations with all citizens to reach a consensus on the economic, monetary and social policies of the government, as well as the actions that need to be taken to overcome the effects of the global economic crisis and the problems facing the Cuban economy without resorting to neoliberal or austerity formulas and without bailing out banks at the expense of unjust cuts in social expenditures.

Cuba has continued to strengthen the democratic character of its institutional system with laws, policies and programs that have a popular and participatory character, in accordance with the aspirations of the people.

New standards have been adopted that expand human rights’ legal framework such as the ones related to social security, housing, employment, self employment, the distribution of land in usufruct, among others. Likewise, progress has been made in the improvement and updating of the juridical system of the country through the implementation of a series of modifications that are more in tune with the needs of the Cuban society and the highest international standards in this area.

The most outstanding of them have been the amendments introduced to the Migration Law, which have had a major impact on and improved the relations between the Cuban nation and its émigrés, despite the continued manipulation of the migration issue.

Mr. President:

The system for the legal protection of human rights in Cuba is not confined to a description in the Constitution. Human rights are duly developed and guaranteed in other substantive and procedural provisions in force, in accordance with the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration and all other international human rights instruments.

Cuba has attained significant achievements in the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights. Education is universal and free at all levels.

Through the implementation of a series programs, the Cuban State ensures that every boy, girl and adolescent has the possibility and the right to study in the National Education System and continue their training, on the basis of equal opportunities, for as long as their capabilities and efforts allow. The First Vice President of the Council of State and of Ministers was invested with powers to protect and oversee the exercise of children’s rights.

The right to education is guaranteed to every child and youth who may suffer from some sort of mental or physical disability through the Special Education system in those cases where it is impossible to fully incorporate differently abled persons to general education institutions. The attention to these children and youths is guaranteed in every corner of the national territory through different modalities and at all educational levels.

According to the most recent UNESCO’s World Report on the Follow Up to Education for All (2012) Cuba ranked sixteenth in the world for its educational development index. UNESCO recognized Cuba as the Latin American and Caribbean country that invests the highest share of its national budget in education.

Pursuant to the maxim expounded by Martí, “To be educated is to be free”, Cuba stands out for its cultural development, full access by its people to art and literature, the preservation and defense of our culture and the enhancement of our spiritual values.

Cuba has been likewise recognized for its outstanding results and the high quality of its public health system, which is universal and free. With an infant mortality rate of 4.6 per every 1000 live births, Cuba has managed to consolidate several indicators which reveal a much better performance than those of several rich and industrialized countries. With one medical doctor per every 137 inhabitants Cuba is, according to the World Health Organization, the most gifted nation in this sector.

From 2009 to 2011 the social security system provided coverage for 19 371 mothers of children with severe disabilities, which has enabled them to personally take care of their children.

The attention to elderly persons is a priority. It is for that reason that a multi-disciplinary and intersectorial work is done to ensure the quality of life of this growing population sector. Life expectancy at birth is 78 years as an average. During the next ten year period more than 87 per cent of Cubans will surpass the age of 60.

The rights to life, liberty and security of persons are based on the principle of respect for human dignity and are the fundamental pillars in all the actions undertaken by the Cuban authorities and the functioning of the entire society.

Five Cuban anti-terrorists who are suffering an unjust and prolonged incarceration in the United States are devoid of every protection. They were tried without the guarantees of the due process, in an ambiance of revenge and hatred, in the midst of a slanderous campaign that was funded by the Prosecution; they were submitted to long periods of solitary confinement. Their legal defense was hindered and they were subject to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatments and several of them have not been allowed to be visited by their relatives.

We are deeply concerned about the legal limbo that supports the permanent and atrocious violation of human rights at the illegal Naval Base in Guantánamo, a Cuban territory that was usurped by the United States, a center of torture and deaths of persons who are under custody. One hundred and sixty six persons have remained under detention for ten years now, without any guarantees, without being tried by a court or the right to legal defense. One hundred of them have gone on a hunger strike and 17, whose lives are at risk, are being submitted to forced feeding through intubation. That prison and military base should be shut down and that territory should be returned to Cuba.

Cuba recognizes, respects and guarantees religious liberty without any discrimination whatsoever. There are around four hundred religions and religious institutions represented in the country.

All citizens’ rights to freedoms of opinion, expression, information and press are recognized. The high educational and cultural level of the people; the social and public character of the media; the nonexistence of financial and media emporiums that impose economic and political interests elsewhere in the world; the absence of commercial publicity, which more often than not is mind-numbing; and the exercise of people’s power provide the material conditions for their enjoyment.

The right to free and truthful information should be guaranteed by all States. There is urgency for the democratization of the Internet and the transfer of resources and suitable technologies for social communication. The monopoly over technology and the generation of contents, the political or military use of networks and the cultural and linguistic discrimination should come to an end. It is necessary to eliminate the digital divide.

The blockade prevents Cuba from connecting itself to nearby submarine cables, which increases the costs of these services and hinders people’s access to them and forbids international suppliers from providing us with services, software or technologies. For example, our country is denied access to several Google services or to international technological platforms.

Between 2010 and 2013 the United States has also allocated 191.7 million dollars to the funding of organizations and hirelings, the use of information technologies for subversive purposes and illegal radio and television broadcasts intended to bring about a change of regime in Cuba. Added to this there are other funds that are worth millions which are paid by their special services and private groups. Some of its allies take part in that effort.

Mr. President:

In Cuba equality and non-discrimination are fully guaranteed. The achievements attained in the area of gender are outstanding. The Cuban government continues to implement a series of laws, policies and programs aimed at upholding of those principles.

The number of Cuban women in the National People’s Power Assembly -the Cuban Parliament-, increased to 48.86 per cent. In proportion, Cuba ranks second in the world in terms of the number of women parliamentarians. For the first time, two women have been elected Vice Presidents of the Council of State. Besides, they account for 41.9 of its members. One third of the ministries are led by women.

Institutional racism was eradicated. The least favored sectors were offered real benefits and full possibilities for the upgrading of their educational level. We are still struggling to fully and effectively ensure equal opportunities to those who belong to the traditional least favored sectors or to dysfunctional families. Yet to be eradicated are certain racial biases and stereotypes which were inherited from a colonial past of slavery and a neocolonial regime which established racism and racial segregation.

As a complement to the efforts made by the government and the all-out protection provided by our laws, the decision was made to appoint one Vice President of the Council of State to follow up and monitor the struggle against racism and racial discrimination.

We feel proud of our African heritage. We selflessly shared the same fate of our African brothers and sisters in their struggle against colonialism and apartheid.

The struggle against discrimination based on sexual orientation is another area where we have recorded a sustained progress. The National Sexual Education Program has implemented a permanent educational strategy to promote respect for free sexual orientation and gender identity through the creation of several areas of exchange based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination.

With regard to the promotion and guarantee of the exercise of the rights of disabled persons, we have made it possible for most of them to be able to study and work. They are offered support in different areas of social life.

Mr. President:

Cuba’s Penitentiary System is based on the principle of human enhancement. Cuba abides by all the precepts contained in the International Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and prioritizes the preventive approach through a number of social programs, among them the ones aimed at turning prisons into schools.

Medical and dentistry care is guaranteed to all inmates at no cost, on a par with the assistance provided to the rest of the Cuban population. They receive equal pay for the work they do.

In Cuba, 27 095 inmates, approximately half of the total, are studying at different levels of learning, including higher education, in every prison of the country. Many of them are also being trained in some trade. This education system has contributed to the reincorporation of inmates to society, including work.

Mr. President:

Our people, despite all the scarcities and difficulties, have selflessly shared and continue to share what it has with other nations, thus making a fraternal contribution to the exercise of the human rights of other peoples of the world.

Since 2004, tens of thousands of citizens have recovered their sight thanks to the “Miracle” Operation. Eye surgeries have been performed, free of charge, on 2.4 million persons from 34 Latin American, Caribbean and African countries.

Since 2005 the International Contingent of Medical Doctors Specialized in Disaster Relief and Serious Epidemics “Henry Reeve” has offered medical assistance to more than 3 million victims.

Cuba’s cooperation with Haiti, a sister Caribbean nation that needs resources for reconstruction and development, has continued. More than 12 000 Cuban cooperation workers have worked in that country.

Since 2004 cooperation in the literacy and post-literacy projects have expanded through the implementation of the Cuban programs “Yes, I can” (UNESCO’s King Sejong Award); “I Can read and Write” and “Yes, I Can Go On”. Until November of 2012 a total of 6.9 million persons had graduated from the program “Yes, I Can”; and 976 000 persons had graduated from the program “Yes, I Can Go On”.

Mr. President:

Cuba maintains a high level of cooperation and interaction with the procedures and mechanisms of the United Nations system in the area of human rights which are implemented universally and on a non-discriminatory basis.

We have always expressed our unequivocal willingness to establish a dialogue on every issue and with all States on the basis of mutual respect, sovereign equality, and the recognition of the right to self-determination.

Cuba has consolidated a positive dialogue with the bodies created by virtue of international treaties on human rights.

Since 2009, five National Reports have been issued; three of them have already been presented before the relevant Committees. The Initial Report based on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the Initial Report based on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are currently undergoing a review process in Cuba prior to their submission.

Cuba is a State Party to 42 international human rights treaties and complies with all their provisions. Other human rights instruments, including both international Covenants, are still being considered by the competent authorities.

Our country has cooperation relations with several humanitarian and human rights organizations from all over the world, both in its own territory and as part of international cooperation missions.

Mr. President:

We are open to a constructive and respectful dialogue, based on the truth. We will offer all necessary information and clarifications.

Thank you very much.

May 5th for the Cuban 5

May 3, 2013

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Santos Crespo, President of Local 372 in New York City Sends a Letter to Obama in Support of the Five

Santos Crespo is the President of Local 372 since June 2011. Local 372 represents nearly 25,000 Department of Education employees who provide essential support services to the 1.1 million children – and their families – in New York City public schools. Local 372 members, who are sometimes referred to as “non-pedagogical” employees because they are non-teaching staff, work in the cafeterias handling food and monitoring children in schoolyards to ensure their safety, in classrooms providing anti-violence/gang and drug prevention counseling, in homeless shelters to ensure that parents send their children to school despite living in a shelter, on trucks bringing supplies to the schools. Local 372 is the largest union within DC 37, which is the largest municipal union in New York City.

May 5, 2013

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

As a worker and life time union leader who has lived by the motto, “An injury to one is an injury to all”, I am asking you to take the moral high road towards justice by releasing the Cuban 5 who are serving shocking long sentences in U.S. prisons. As you know these five Cuban men — Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez came to this country to monitor the activities of anti Cuban terrorists in Miami. They came unarmed with no intention of harming the people or security of the U.S. but rather to protect their own island nation; what could be nobler. As a compassionate person you not only have the power but the responsibility to reunite them with their families in Cuba.

The labor movement around the world has had the opportunity to meet the family members of the Cuban 5 and is taking action to build a movement for their freedom. The labor movement in Canada is making the case of the Cuban 5 a political priority including the Steelworkers, Food and Commercial Workers and Postal Workers. And of course throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, the injustice done to these men is well known and an example of the breech between your administration and our neighbors in the Southern hemisphere.

With great enthusiasm our union movement contributed our brains, energy and finances in supporting both of your election campaigns. Latinos and workers in general voted for you in record numbers and here in the U.S. we are beginning to reach them about this case. The loud but shrinking voices from Southern Florida do not speak for us in the labor movement. It is becoming clearer that the majority of people even in Florida want normalization of relations with Cuba and you yourself have said that improving relations with the people of Latin America is important to your presidency. One small thing you could do to get that desire started is to free the Cuban 5 now.

Sincerely,
Santos Crespo
President Local 372

———————–
REMEMBER ON SUNDAY MAY 5TH TO CONTACT PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA TO JOIN THE WORLDWIDE DEMAND FOR THE FREEDOM OF THE CUBAN 5

DIFFERENT WAYS TO REACH THE WHITE HOUSE

By phone: 202-456-1111 (If nobody answers the phone leave a message)
If calling from outside the United States, dial first the International Area Code
+ 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-1111
By Fax: 202-456-2461
If fax is sent from outside the United States, dial first the International Area
Code + 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-2461
To send an e-mail: president@whitehouse.gov

To send a letter:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
United States

SEND AN ONLINE MESSAGE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments,

For more information about the Cuban 5 visit: http://www.thecuban5.org
DONATE

II Annual “5 Days for the Cuban 5 in Washington DC” May 30 to June 5
To endorse: apoyojornada@gmail.com

The Shame and Harm of Keeping Cuba on the Terrorist List

May 3, 2013

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