Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Harvard University Screening
Members of Harvard's CAUSA with Director Jordan Allott
The Oscar's Cuba University Tour has brought Dr. Biscet's story and message to hundreds of university students across the country. Tour stops so far have included the University of Central Florida (11/2), University of South Florida (11/4), University of Michigan (11/5), University of Notre Dame (11/6), Harvard University (11/16) and Tufts University (11/17). In the coming weeks Oscar's Cuba will also screen at George Washington University in DC (12/6) and the University of Washington in Seattle (1/21), among others.
University of South Florida student group CASA
*courtesy of www.oscarscuba.com
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
Los pasados días 8, 9 y 10 de octubre la delegación española de Raíces participó en el Congreso Paneuropa Juventud, celebrado en la localidad madrileña de San Lorenzo de El Escorial bajo el título : La Unión Europea tras la reforma de Lisboa: un debate sobre el futuro de la Unión Europea.
La organización convocante, Paneuropa Juventud, es la rama juvenil de la Unión Paneuropea Internacional (UPI), el movimiento de unificación europea más antiguo, cuyos orígenes datan del manifiesto Paneuropa de 1923 en el que el conde Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi abogaba por un Estado Europeo unificado.
Perseguida por los nazis, la UPI contribuyó decisivamente tras la Segunda Guerra Mundial al proceso de integración europea que unificó el Viejo Continente después de más de medio siglo de guerras intestinas. Entre sus miembros de la posguerra destacaban, entre otros, los presidentes de la República Francesa Charles de Gaulle y Georges Pompidou, así como los primeros ministros de Alemania y de Austria, Konrad Adenauer y Bruno Kreisky, respectivamente.
Actualmente, la UPI tiene delegaciones en más de 30 Estados europeos y está presidida por Su Alteza Imperial Otón de Habsburgo-Lorena, hijo primogénito de Carlos I, último Emperador del Imperio Autro-Húngaro (disuelto tras la Primera Guerra Mundial). La organización sigue trabajando en pos de la integración y concordia de una Europa democrática.
El evento celebrado en Madrid el mes pasado, y en el cual participó Raíces, se centraba en el análisis y debate sobre el futuro de la Unión Europea en el nuevo marco del Tratado de Lisboa, ratificado por todos los Estados miembros de la Unión en 2007, que modifica en gran medida las instituciones comunitarias. Entre otras cuestiones, el tratado dota a la Unión de personalidad jurídica propia para firmar acuerdos internacionales, concede mayor peso al Parlamento Europeo y convierte en vinculante la Carta de los Derechos Fundamentales de la Unión Europea.
Durante el encuentro, la delegación española de Raíces tuvo la oportunidad de presentar su trabajo al ex presidente del Parlamento Europeo José María Gil-Robles (fotografía adjunta) y compartir impresiones con diplomáticos, políticos y pensadores de varios países europeos: España, Alemania, Austria, Eslovenia, Bosnia y Herzegovina, Croacia, etc.
Aunque no era el tema de la reunión, también se conversó sobre la situación en Cuba, asunto especialmente sensible en estos días en que se debate el mantenimiento o no de la Posición Común de la Unión con respecto al régimen cubano.
En resumen, participar en uno de los foros europeos más prestigiosos fue una gran experiencia para Raíces España y esperamos que sea tan sólo el inicio de un intercambio fructífero entre Raíces de Esperanza y la Unión Paneuropea Internacional, deseo que fue convenientemente transmitido a Carlos Uriarte, presidente de Paneuropa Juventud España que fue quien nos invitó a participar y a quien quedamos muy agradecidos.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Recently acclaimed Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez published this to her twitter page :
#twitter debe aclarar si su servicio nos ha censurado publicacion de tweets por sms o si ha sido el gobierno de#cuba que nos ha bloqueado
23 minutes ago via web
Translation: Twitter should clarify if they've censored the publishing of our tweets through SMS or if the Cuban government has blocked us
#cuba Bloquearon la publicacion desde moviles cubanos a twitter. Parece que pusieron el filtro aqui dentro.1 amigo publica por mi este tweet
about 3 hours ago via web
Translation: Cuba blocked the publication of twitter messages from Cuban mobile phones. It looks like they've put a filter. A friend is publishing this tweet for me.
There has been no confirmation as to whether she is correct and the government is blocking the signals or if it is a technical problem with twitter and/or Cuban cellphone service. Should it be true this would be a serious blow to many Cubans who use this technology as a vital lifeline to the world. Check back here for more info on the story as information comes in.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
This summer, a very wise man told us, “You have an incredible advantage. You are the missing link, the bridge, precisely because you’re both American and Cuban.” Although I have always appreciated learning languages and being fluent in two, I refused to understand that acquiring a new language was like acquiring a new piece of a different identity; it brought you closer to that culture. Because I speak English, I feel much more comfortable in an American setting than most of my countrymen; I guess you could say I’m more “Americanized.” Does that mean I am not Puerto Rican? Not at all. I guess I just have a little bit of both. I guess two languages, two identities (and even more), can coexist in one person… I guess you can be a little bit of everything and still be true to every single component of yourself. It's okay to be American and Cuban; Cuban and Puerto Rican. And it's not just okay--it's a beautiful beautiful thing.
As Raíces is a Cuban-American nonprofit organization, I felt we needed to stay true to our Cuban roots (yes, sometimes I do refer to myself as a CubaRican). And this obviously includes having our website in our own language: Spanish! So after long hours of hard work, my fellow Fellow Rafa Delgado and I, along with Wali’s help, managed to finally introduce Raíces (officially) to the world of bilingualism. Spanish represents our beginnings. We speak it at home, with friends and family… we had to have our website represent our true essence. I also managed to assist my fellow Fellows Sasha with the planning of the Summer Blast mixer, Alfo with the new C4C box design, and Rafa with his informational campaign on opportunities for RDE members to study abroad in Spain.
These 10 weeks were extremely inspiring and fulfilling for me. I made amazing friends, who I truly consider my herman@s at heart, and got the opportunity to reconnect with already-familiar Raíces’ brothers and sisters. After 10 weeks of hard work, long (yet fun) days at the office, I decided this was my niche—whether I was Cuban or not; this is precisely where I have to be because I believe in this movement. As the newest RDE Management member, the “Ops Baby” (as I like to call myself), I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us Roots! Thank you for embracing me and allowing me to be a part of this family without even having to ask. It was truly an unforgettable summer and the beginning of a new series of adventures! I love you all!
And remember: "Cuba y Puerto Rico son de un pájaro las dos alas."
~ Karla "La Boricua"
Monday, August 16, 2010
As soon as I received the notification that I would be invited to the 2010 Roots of Hope Fellowship in the new office I knew I would be in for a great experience but I had no idea what it would entail. Looking back at my accomplishments and experiences as well as those of the other fellows, I can honestly say I made the best decision I possibly could have coming to work for Riaces. Not only did I add some value to the organization with my accomplishments, but I learned a great deal about myself in the process. The fellowship was a wonderful combination of learning, working, and socializing. Although there were some kinks and bumps along the way, considering it was the first fellowship in the history of the organization, I saw the potential Raices has to attract young, bright, and passionate minds to act.
I was originally assigned to work with the Programming Team, specifically working on the Cell Phones for
During the last few weeks of the summer I inherited two new tasks both involving updating Student Network materials. The Student Network contact sheet needed renovation and reorganization to focus on students currently in college. This small project was begun in coordination with a few interns. It has yet to be completed but it is on its way. In addition, the Student Network Toolkit appeared very outdated and I was asked to begin researching other non-profit/human-rights groups for ideas on how to update the toolkit. I was able to design a rough outline of a potential new toolkit but the actual editing and input of information has not been started.
The experience as a whole was an awesome one but I definitely can point out favorite parts from the fellowship, two specifically. Probably the best and most valuable part of the fellowship was the leadership series I attended during the summer. Through this fellowship I was able to meet some of the most impressive and influential people in this community and in some cases, the world. I was able to listen to personal accounts of triumph despite uncertainty, making the American Dream a reality, and the reality of sacrifice. RDE has given me access to an incredible number of quality leaders who I would not hesitate to contact for advice.
My other favorite part of this experience was making friends with the rest of the wonderful group of fellows, as well as member of the Roots team. Rafa, Karla, and Sasha were able to contribute to the fellowship with their diverse perspectives and backgrounds. Not only did I learn from their stories and come to appreciate their input, but I gained three new friends by the end of the summer. I know we will keep in touch as we go our separate ways and it will make this summer experience even more of a lasting one.
After attending the Cornell Cuba Conference this April I was incredibly impressed with the organization’s accomplishments and plans for the future. I was amazed by their organization, how smooth the conference ran, and the number of valuable panelists they were able to bring to the conference. Leaving the fellowship this summer I remain impressed with the passionate people within the organization, the interesting supporters from all walks of life, and the huge goals Raices has. I also see the great amount of work that has to be done to keep up the awesome record. For this reason I plan to stay involved with Raices in whatever capacity I can while in college. Though I did not apply to the Student Network Director position, I will remain involved with the students at my school and those within our network outside helping to spread our influence across the country.
Thanks to all the Roots of Hope members that made this Summer Fellowship possible!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
MOTHER HARASSED FOR MARCHING FOR DEAD SON
The mother of a Cuban prisoner of conscience who died after hunger striking has been repeatedly harassed and intimidated in an attempt to stop her from organizing marches to commemorate her son's death. The next march is planned for 15 August.
Reina Luisa Tamayo is the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a prisoner of conscience who died on 22 February 2010, having spent several weeks on hunger strike whilst in prison. Since her son's death, Reina Luisa Tamayo has organized weekly marches on Sundays in the town of Barnes, Holguin Province, Cuba, to honour her son's memory.
Relatives and friends accompany Reina Luisa Tamayo on these weekly marches from her home to attend mass at the Nuestra Señora de la Caridad Church, in Barnes and from there to the cemetery where Orlando Zapata Tamayo is buried. Last Sunday, 8 August, the group reported that as soon as they tried to leave Reina Luisa Tamayo's house to start their march, they were confronted a few metres away from the house by hundreds of government supporters who blocked their way and beat some of the participants. They were pushed back to the house and followed into the house's garden. The participants tried twice more to leave the house and resume the march but they were again violently confronted by the government supporters, who stayed outside the house until late in the afternoon. According to Reina Luisa Tamayo, during all this time a police patrol was close to her house watching as the events unfolded and failing to intervene.
The group have reported how prior to 8 August, they have also been confronted by government supporters and state security officials who have gathered around Reina Luisa Tamayo's house and prevented them from marching, sometimes preventing them from reaching the church, the cemetery, or both. They have also reported how state security officials and police officers have set up check points on the routes to Reina Luisa Tamayo's house on the day prior to the march to prevent people from reaching the house and joining the march.
Calling on the authorities to ensure an immediate halt to the harassment and intimidation of Reina Luisa Tamayo by government supporters, and that of her relatives and friends and any other citizens who seek to peacefully exercise their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association;
Calling on the authorities to permit Reina Luisa Tamayo and others to march peacefully as is their right on Sundays.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 22 SEPTEMBER 2010 TO:
Head of State and Government
Raúl Castro Ruz Presidente
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +53 7 8333085 (via Foreign Ministry); +1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Su Excelencia/Your Excellency
General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra
Ministro del Interior y Prisiones
Ministerio del Interior, Plaza de la Revolución, La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +53 7 8333085 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.
MOTHER HARASSED FOR MARCHING FOR DEAD SON
Reina Luisa Tamayo is one of the Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), a group of women relatives and friends of prisoners detained during a major crackdown on government critics in March 2003. In 2003, over several days, the Cuban authorities arrested 75 men and women for their peaceful expression of critical opinions of the government. They were subjected to summary trials and were sentenced to long prison terms of up to 28 years. Amnesty International declared the 75 convicted dissidents to be prisoners of conscience, 32 of them remain in prison.
Damas de Blanco organizes peaceful weekly marches in Havana where they distribute flowers and call for the release of their relatives and friends. In March 2010 Damas de Blanco organized a daily march for a week to mark the seventh anniversary of the arrest of their relatives. On 17 of March 2010, their march was forcibly broken up by Cuban police, who briefly detained several women. Some of the women claimed that they were beaten by the police.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Young, Dynamic, Student Leader Wanted
Raíces de Esperanza (Roots of Hope) is a national non-profit focused on empowering youth to become the authors of their own future. Our network of more than 3,200 students and young professionals across the U.S. empowers youth through community organizing, education, and leadership development initiatives.
At this time, we are seeking a Student Network Director to construct and lead a dynamic team of campus representatives from around the nation, to conduct a vital effort to invigorate and expand the Roots of Hope student network. In leading this team, the Student Network Director will serve as the point person for facilitating collaboration among student groups nation-wide and mobilizing the network for extraordinary initiatives that require large-scale support. The ideal candidate for this role will have a leadership style that empowers his/her leadership team to work together as a cohesive unit to accomplish goals and objectives collectively.
Roles and Responsibilities
- Collaboratively develop a strategic vision for a student network with a team of student leaders at campuses around the country
- Facilitate collaboration, coordination and communication among affiliated student groups on projects and programming
- Develop and manage practical systems to ensure communication and cooperation between campus groups and campus leaders
- Serve on RDE's Management Team
- Serve as the central point of contact for all RDE activities on a collegiate level and liaise between the student network and RDE's Management Team
- Participate in one-on-one leadership trainings and coaching sessions with other leaders in Roots of Hope
- Executive level experience leading a Cuban-American student organization or similar affinity group on a major university campus
- Have a strong, established network of Cuban-American student leaders throughout the country
- Possess a wealth of knowledge of the Cuban context
- Exhibit a commitment to developing a culture of collaboration and trust
- Be a self-starter with an entrepreneurial spirit
- Experience or high interest in strategic team management, including motivation and accountability
- Demonstrate a desire to enhance leadership and team-building skills
- Character reflects the core values of Raices: Hope, Dignity, Humility, Compassion and Smart Passion
- Professionally Bilingual - English and Spanish
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Hace unos días, y gracias a las gestiones del Vicerrector de Alumnos Alfonso Martínez-Echevarría, la Universidad CEU San Pablo de Madrid aprobó la instalación de urnas recolectoras de teléfonos celulares en sus facultades, iniciándose así la andadura de Cell Phones for Cuba en España.
La idea es reunir durante todo el curso lectivo 2010/2011 un buen número de teléfonos celulares entre la comunidad universitaria de una institución que cuenta con cerca de 7.000 estudiantes. Estas unidades serán recicladas y con el dinero obtenido la delegación española de Raíces conseguirá teléfonos válidos en Cuba que se harán llegar a jóvenes isleños.
Además del CEU, varias asociaciones universitarias españolas han comprometido su apoyo en el proyecto y difundirán la iniciativa entre sus redes estudiantiles. Gracias a ello, la delegación española de Raíces y C4C tendrán la oportunidad a partir de este invierno de participar en coloquios, charlas y debates juveniles, donde podremos exponer nuestra labor.
Por otro lado, Miguel Cruz, responsable del proyecto C4C, participará el próximo noviembre en el XII Congreso Internacional Católicos y Vida Pública (CCVP). Este evento, organizado por la Universidad CEU San Pablo, reúne cada año a católicos de todo el mundo que destacan por su vocación de servicio público. En el CCVP de 2010 habrá una presencia muy relevante de cubanos, pues además de Miguel tomarán parte Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, coordinador del Movimiento Cristiano de Liberación de Cuba, y Alejandro González Raga, periodista cubano y ex preso de conciencia. Alejandro reside actualmente en Madrid como exiliado y sus hijos forman parte de la delegación de Raíces de Esperanza en España.
Junto a los cubanos, participarán en el Congreso dirigentes políticos, directores de medios de comunicación, varios rectores Universitarios, académicos y líderes sociales llegados desde Europa, África y América. Se tratará de una oportunidad única para promocionar C4C a nivel internacional.
Por otro lado, hemos cerrado con la Universidad CEU San Pablo un acuerdo marco que facilitará que miembros de Raíces vayan a estudiar a Madrid, ya sea un curso de su carrera universitaria, ya sea en verano para la Summer University de la institución.
Con la colaboración de la compañera Karla Vergara y el equipo de comunicaciones estamos empezando a elaborar una campaña informativa interna para que los miembros de Raíces conozcan las posibilidades de estudio en España.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Although I was born in Miami to Cuban-born parents and attended arguably the most Cuban school in the world outside of Cuba (Belen Jesuit), I was not aware of how times were truly changing on the island until I attended the Cornell Conference and began my fellowship with Roots this summer. Up until that point I was so accustomed to and desensitized to the Cuban culture that I really had no intellectual curiosity regarding Cuba, its people still living there, and the state of politics and society. My parents left when they were little and my grandparents had to start a new life in Miami; none of them ever looked back, there was only time to move forward. As a result there was little pressure to learn about Cuba-present day, instead I heard stories of the old Cuba: the Cuba when the U.S. dollar and the Cuban dollar were at equal value, stories of the revolution, and most interesting to me, the romanticized revolution lead by a feared but respected figure, Fidel Castro. For some reason, I never felt I needed to look deeper.
I had traveled outside Miami and the country before but I had never lived for an extended amount of time outside my hometown. Living in Charlottesville, Virginia sparked an identity crisis, the identity crisis that has plagued many Miami-Cuban boys and girls who go out of state for college. I will admit, in high school I always had a thing against the cubanazos. In my head I would say “Come on, we get it, you’re Cuban! You live in Miami, not that cool.” But as the school year progressed at UVA I found myself looking back more and more often to the most Cuban aspects in my life. I bought a Cuba Carnaval poster for my dorm room, a cafetera to make Cuban coffee, and I even considered buying a Cuban flag to hang up. What was going on? I was becoming more Cuban than ever before, in the least Cuban place. And, on top of it all people were really curious about my Cuban background.
I thought about my parents’ culture shock stories when they left Miami to go to university in D.C. and the Northeast. It was definitely not sexy to be Hispanic. Because “El Exilio” dominated their cultural experiences, the American way of life was very foreign. It is safe to say that at least for their undergraduate years, it was very far from the typical “best years of your life.” I went back in my memory to stories my parents had told me about their lives before kids and so forth and none of the happy ones had to do with college. I began to realize that my experiences living away from Miami studying and working would be very different.
As I became involved with the Cuban American Student Association at UVA and later attended the Cornell Cuba Conference, it all began to make sense to me. It was almost as if my generation of Cubans, Cuban-Americans, and Cuba-lovers was the chosen one. The identity crisis characterized by feeling trapped in between two worlds, the Cuban and the American, was not a crisis or conflict at all. Instead I realized it was an opportunity, an opportunity to bring both worlds together in common interests.
Now working as a fellow with Raices and seeing firsthand the progress the organization made has allowed me to look further and see the vast potential we Cuban – American or lover – youth have to foster progress and change on the island. I am aware that the Cubans in Cuba are to be the authors of their own destinies, but I am truly excited to take part in making it possible to write that new chapter in Cuban history, or better yet, Cuban future.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Some people like to tell fiction stories, a product inspired by their nighttime dreams. Some people like to sit along the sidelines of history and narrate the facts, sprinkling their research data with a hint of their own take on things. I know that the latter certainly had a big impact in my life, given that, sadly, the educators that genuinely worry about their students' education nowadays seems to have somewhat plummeted; I found myself compensating for their lack of interest in my own education through books and curiosity. I have personally never enjoyed fiction as much as I have enjoyed learning about the facts. However, the trips, the experiences, and the years--and not that I have been on this Earth for too long--have helped me to come to the conclusion that the best stories are the ones told by those we call "regular people."
I grew up hearing about wonderful men and women who fought day and night to make the world a better place (as corny as it may sound to some people). Of course, one always dreams of becoming one of those someday; someone people will continue to tell stories about for some time. As we grow up, though, life and time have an art to shift things around--sort of like a macro life-altering feng shui. Slowly, our dreams of becoming the president of the U.S. or an astronaut become childish aspirations hampered by real life; the dreams of making the world a better place don't seem as tangible or as colorful. Suddenly, we have to quantify everything: if I go to this university, it will get me X kind of job that will allow me to make Y amount of money to sustain Z amount of kids. Then we look back and we're no longer the 10-year-old that dreamed of becoming an astronaut. But somehow we always think that 10-year-old was the better version of ourselves. At 10 one knows no boundaries, no governments, no politics, no races, no religions. At 20, we're already too caught up in the mess and mayhem of the world and the heroes we used to admire seem like people we're never going to be able to resemble.
The stories I hear from the people around me in Raíces de Esperanza tell me otherwise. During these past couple of weeks, after getting to know the Roots more deeply, I have come to the conclusion that we humans are fond of pursuing that which is already at our fingertips. The heroes that we read about in books (or those whose tweets we religiously read every time our smartphones vibrate) were not born with a label on their forehead or an outstanding biography. They were ordinary people who happened to be amazing leaders.
The Roots come from all different backgrounds, some were born in Cuba, some weren't, and some aren't even Cubans. But every single one of us has a story. Some of our stories are real tearjerkers. Most of them came to a happier resolution. All of them have a commonality: Cuba is one of the main characters. The other main character? The youth. I rest assured that Cuba’s future is bright, for it rests in loving hands of big dreamers fueled by an incredibly strong and passionate spirit. I am thrilled to be a part of this organization filled with extraordinary heroes I like to call brothers and sisters. Roots, keep on dreaming with childish enthusiasm—a virtue of true leaders.
“Keep true to the dreams of thy youth.”
- Friedrich von Schiller
~ Karla "La Boricua"
Sunday, July 4, 2010
On this American Independence Day (July 4th), many will celebrate with flag waving and backyard barbeques. However, many take for granted their basic, assumed rights, such as the freedom of expression, whether in favor of or contrary to the national government and regime.
Amnesty International (AI), a global non-governmental organization drawing attention to human rights abuses, has recently issued a report (Restrictions on Freedom of Expression in Cuba) and called on the Cuban government to make changes to eliminate its “repressive machinery”. Any persons with opinions contrary to the government’s stance risk arbitrary arrest and harassment by officials—such as happened to Las Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) earlier this year.
“The laws are so vague that almost any act of dissent can be deemed criminal in some way, making it very difficult for activists to speak out against the government,” said Kerrie Howard, Deputy Americas Director at AI. Other restrictions on journalists by the Cuban government include requiring all journalists to join the national journalists’ association (in turn controlled by the Communist Party) and restricting island access to certain blogs openly criticizing the government, such as Yoani Sanchez’s blog (Generation Y), blocked since early 2008.
Even now, digging into its own ranks, the government has expelled a high level party official, Esteban Morales, for acting as a whistle blower to corruption and writing on a state website that “people in government and state positions are preparing a financial assault for when the revolution falls”.
AI recognizes at least 53 political prisoners on the island and has called for their release. The Independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights estimates about 190 political prisoners, including AI’s fifty-three.
The organization also addressed the United States embargo, claiming the government was using it as a scapegoat to justify inadequacies at guaranteeing human rights. “[The embargo] is frankly a lame excuse for violating the rights of the Cuban people,” stated Ms. Howard. “The government needs to find solutions to end human rights violations, instead of excuses to perpetrate them.”
Amnesty International has demanded the government “revoke or amend legal provisions that unlawfully limit freedom of expression, end harassment of dissidents, release all prisoners of conscience, and allow free exchange of information through the internet and other media.”
Monday, May 10, 2010
In a couple of weeks one of the biggest gatherings for all things Cuban will be taking place in Miami. Now in its 10th year Cuba Nostalgia is a place to remember and learn about Cuba. We are so thrilled to have been invited to participate this year. The event will run May 21-23 and will will be there collecting cell phones for youth in Cuba. If you are in town please come by with any and all old cell phones you can gather up and stop by the booth we are sharing with Babalu Blog, who were so gratious to invite us and show support for what we are doing!
Saturday, May 1, 2010
According to Jaime Ortega, the head of the Catholic Church in Cuba, the people are demanding economic and political change. The 73-year-old cardinal said the people are talking about deficiencies in Cuba’s socialist system, even comparing it to a Stalinist-style bureaucracy which produces apathetic workers with low productivity.
A former political prisoner himself, Ortega called on Guillermo Fariñas (a dissident who began his hunger strike in February and is currently being fed intravenously at a hospital) to stop his hunger strike while repeating earlier calls by the Cuban Conference of Bishops to the government to respect the lives of prisoners of conscience. He further urged the Cuban government to free all political prisoners.
In response to the harassment of the Ladies in White—wives and relatives of men imprisoned since the 2003 Black Spring crackdown on journalists and government opponents—Ortega responded "There should not be in our history this type of verbal and even physical intolerance". Yesterday was the third Sunday in a row the Ladies were prevented from marching by pro-government and security forces, with the confrontation lasting seven hours.
Now in the worst economic hardship since the collapse of the Soviet Union, due in part to three hurricanes in 2008 and the global economic downturn, Cubans are more anxious than ever for the advent of the Cuban “cambio”. The “very difficult situation” amplifies the national consensus that the government should “make the necessary change quickly” to move towards ending “economic and social difficulties”, Ortega announced. “Its delay produces impatience and unease in the people.”
While his statements are generally cautious, this time he was more direct and blunt. This straightforwardness may reflect increased pressures from the Cuban bishops to speak out on Cuba’s dictatorship, as many other Latin American church leaders have in their respective countries in the past.
Though opinions differ on what changes need to come, the overwhelming demand is that “the necessary changes be made quickly”.
To read more from Cardinal Ortega’s interview with the Catholic monthly newsletter, Palabra Nueva, visit: (http://www.palabranueva.net/contens/pn_notic.htm#1011).
Alex Salamanca is studying Psychology and Political Science with a Sustainability minor at the University of Florida. He is very interested in the post-regime environment and how the country will have to change to meet the demands of the 21st-century.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Maritza Aldir is an alum of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. She works in advertising at SapientNitro.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Internationally, she is the best known blogger and has been covered extensively by the international press. As she highlighted at the Conference, she is not the only blogger risking her life on a daily basis to achieve the freedoms of speech and of the press.
So who are these other bloggers? Fresh off the press is a list of the top 10 premier Cuban Bloggers. I encourage you to follow them and disseminate their information so that they too can have a voice. By spreading knowledge about these bloggers we can create a space for their views to be shared with Cubans and the world.
10 more voices; 10 more pockets of light.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Here are a few messages of hope and support for the Cuban people from some names you just might recognize....
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
In Los Angeles:
Pictures Courtesy of: Boston - Harvard CASA
Madrid - Ariel Gonzalez
New York - Copyright © Aldo Martinez Jr.
Los Angeles - Perezhilton.com via Daniela Berzuini
Saturday, March 27, 2010
In Miami Gloria Estefan had this message for us:
But this wasn't isolated to Miami, in Boston a group of Harvard students, part of our student network, were doing the exact same thing:
Please join us here on out blog to share your thoughts and reflections on the historic events taking place around the world. Together we will achieve "Change in Cuba"
Friday, March 26, 2010
Numerous outcomes came from this organized march on Miami’s famous Calle Ocho. Media coverage, ranging from local newspapers and news stations to international media outlets, covered the march in Miami, raising awareness of the ongoing Cuban cause. Secondly, other marches occurred on the campus of Harvard University, or will occur in Los Angeles (accompanied by award winning actor Andy Garcia) and New York City this Sunday, emulating the march that look place in Miami. Although they will not attract the same number of participants, the impact each of these marches will have through their respective local media outlets will continue the outreach of this powerful message.
While the sudden growth in awareness due to this march is incredibly powerful, the most powerful outcome is the unity displayed by the Cuban American exile community. In my 19 years of being in the United States, besides the Elian Gonzalez ordeal, I have never seen a more united front of Cuban American exiles supporting one cause. This was a Cuban American exile community that over the past decade have voted almost evenly across party lines in all elections (most notably the 2008 presidential election), taken to the streets in protests against other exiles with different opinions than their own, and have been weakened and unorganized in their efforts to spread the message of the human rights violations occurring in Cuba.
Not anymore! Yesterday marked a new beginning in the history of the Cuban American exile community. Democrats and Republicans, young and old, all gathered, in white, and marched with a common goal. The atmosphere in the march itself was vibrant, and represented a community empowered to find new ways to work together to raise awareness of the Cuban cause.
Eramos Unidos en Diversity.
Miguel Cruz is a senior at the University of Texas in Austin. He will graduate this May with a degree in Aerospace Engineering, and will be joining Lockheed Martin in June.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Yet there is another face, one that is not as known but just as important. Their names? Sylvia Aguado, Sonia Campillo, and Mayelin Gonzalez, just to name a few. Collectively, they and many others are Las Damas de Blanco. These mothers and spouses of political prisoners peacefully march through the streets of Cuba demanding the release of their loved ones from the regime's gulags.
During their marches they face constant taunts, harrasment and even threats of violence. Recently, they were forcefully dragged onto buses as pro-regime counter-protestors, who ironically get to excercise a right to speech Las Damas are denied, taunted them and shouted "Viva Fidel!" These women didn't flinch and held their ground as best they could. The light of their dignity shined through the evil that was descending upon them.
Las Damas don't flinch.
When the regime taunts them, they keep walking. When the regime threatens them, they keep walking. When the regime tries to pull them off the streets, they keep walking.
These incredible ladies have risked their lives and reputations to stand up for what is right. While the regime-sanctioned isolation of Las Damas is difficult to imagine from the United States, their dark reality is a testament to the enduring spirit of these women.
I know Las Damas will always keep walking. This Thursday, I'll be walking for them.
Keith Fernandez is a senior majoring in Political Science at Florida International University. He has been active in several Cuba-focused organizations and will be attending the University of Florida Levin College of Law in the fall.