Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Change Has Come to Hollywood....Change in Cuba Can't Be Far Behind

It is no secret that the Cuban regime has found support over the years from many celebrities, but the tides are turning in Hollywood as in the rest of the world. With Cuban citizens reaching out to the world more and more, through blogs and twitter, through cell phones and cameras, no longer can the human rights abuses be ignored.

Here are a few messages of hope and support for the Cuban people from some names you just might recognize....

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...

But but of much can you say with lots of pictures, of lots of people, all over the world? This past week members of Raices participated in/helped organize solidarity marches for Las Damas en Blanco, a group of women who for seven years have marched in white and in silence for the freedom of their husbands, brothers, sons who are currently prisoners of conscience in Cuba.  The pictures form these events prove that the world is coming together in support of, not only these brave individuals, not only the Cuban people, but in support of the basic human rights we should ALL HAVE regardless of where we live, what we believe, or what we have to say.

In Miami:

In Boston:

In Madrid: 


In Los Angeles:

Pictures Courtesy of: Boston - Harvard CASA
                                    Madrid - Ariel Gonzalez
                                    New York - Copyright © Aldo Martinez Jr.
                                    Los Angeles - via Daniela Berzuini

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Marches for Las Damas en Blanco

The last week has been truly incredible. The world is catching on to our movement and the solidarity that has been shown for the plight of the Cuban people is incredible. Over 100,000 people, Cubans and non Cubans alike, young and old, peacefully walked to show the world that our time ya "ESTA llegando"

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:

And we are not stopping there, more marches are planned for this weekend: 

New York: 
Sunday, March 28th @ 1PM
North Fountain of the Met (83rd St & 5thAve)

Domingo, 28 de Marzo  @ 12:00 
Frente a la Embajada de Cuba (Paseo de La Habana 194) 

Los Angeles: 
Sunday, March 28th @ 2pm
Meet at Echo Park next to the Jose Marti Bust

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

Guest Blog - Miguel Cruz - Unidos en Diversity

Yesterday, March 25th, will be remembered as one of the most influential days in the history of the Cuban exile community in Miami. Tens of thousands heeded Gloria Estefan in her call to March silently, in all white, to honor Las Dames de Blanco, who have persistently marched through the streets of Havana over the past seven years to honor their husbands, fathers, and sons who are Cuban political prisoners.

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

Guest Blog - Keith Fernandez - Las Damas de Blanco

Orlando Zapata Tamayo. Guillermo Fariñas. Oscar Elias Biscet. These are some of the names familiar on a global scale. To many, these jailed men are the faces of the Cuban dissident movement.

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.

Petition for the Freedom of Cuban Political Prisoners

In the weeks following the unfortunate death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the Cuban human rights activist and prisoner of conscience who lost his life after an 82-day hunger strike, over 34,000 people, hailing from more than 100 countries, have signed a petition calling for the "immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners currently Cuban jails."

Today, Raíces de Esperanza is calling on YOU to add your name to the list of signatories.

Over 300 prominent writers, artists, and activists from around the world have already signed the petition in support of our brothers and sisters on the island who are fighting for the very civil liberties and political rights that we, students and young professionals residing in the United States, exercise every day.

The list includes musicians Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Paquito D'Rivera, Willy Chirino, Albita Rodríguez, and Gorki Águila, actor Andy García, Academy Award winners Pedro Almodóvar and Fernando Trueba, Cervantes Prize recipients Mario Vargas Llosa and Juan Marsé, Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz, National Book Award recipient Carlos Eire, blogger Yoani Sánchez, as well as many members of Las Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), the mothers and spouses of Cuban dissidents jailed during the Black Spring of 2003. These public personalities have given the petition tremendous international exposure. It's time to get the word out in the United States.

We are asking you to do your part to support our cause:

1. Sign the petition, which you can find here.

2. Spread the word about the petition to your friends and family.

3. Stay tuned for additional information about an event honoring the Ladies in White.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Guest Blog - Carmen Peláez VANISHING ISLAND

As I write this in my warm Brooklyn apartment with my biggest concerns for the day being how I’m going to get to navigate through the five different places I have to be at today—I think about Guillermo Fariñas.

I have long surrendered the idea of returning to Cuba and seeing any of beautiful Havana’s architecture intact. Becoming too aware of the logistics of disrepair, Cuba has become an island made of merengue, slowly and surely disintegrating…but I never ever lost faith in its people. The one thing that I knew I would eventually return to was a populous ready to meet every challenge, hungry for freedom and resourceful enough to turn the page on one of the most brutal times in our history.

But now, even that seems impossible. Not because of their will, but because they too are disappearing. Our modern day Maceo’s, Marti’s and Elena Meredos’s are vanishing before our eyes; wasting away while undergoing hunger strikes in desperate, last pleas for attention. We are a much maligned and often misunderstood people, but how much longer can we wait for the world to take notice? How can we let another one or our warriors die-needlessly and isolated?

Now is the time for us to join forces and support the dissidence in Cuba with all the resources and energy we can gather. The tsunami of repression the Castro brothers are enacting tell me how desperate they are…we have much more power than we think—if we can mange to focus our efforts.

What can you do? Write a letter to Las Damas de Blanco letting them know they are not alone. Donate to Yoani Sanchez so that she can continue to get our truth out. Send your old cell phones to Raices de Esperanza making it easier for Cubans to technologically unite. Encourage your favorite Cuban organization to join forces creating one organization that tells the world ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Fidel Castro is the luckiest dictator in western hemisphere—not because of his own ingenuity-but because Cuba is an island—and his power lies in its isolation. We can overcome that barrier in the 21st century. And we must act now before Cuba and everybody in it, that ever was or will ever be, disappears into the ether.

Carmen Peláez was born in Miami to Cuban parents. She is a playwright and actor residing in Brooklyn, New York.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

New play uses technology to bring Cuban and American artists together

With our eRevolution conference on Technology and Cuba just around the corner it felt extremely appropriate to run across this new play, The Closest Farthest Away. It allows for Cuban and American actors to interact on the same stage even though the actors are 90 miles away from each other. This Telemundo report shows a little about how its done:

The play looks like it has some really interesting possibilities. If you are interested in checking out this play it will be preformed on:  

Start Time:
Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 8:00pm
End Time:
Saturday, March 13, 2010 at 9:30pm
Byron Carlyle Theatre, 500 71 Street, Miami Beach, FL 33141

Join us here, in our comments section, afterward to share your opinions and insights on the performance

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Raices Cuba Conference Application Deadline Extended

Deadline EXTENDED to next Sunday, March 7th, 2010!

Great news!!! Roots of Hope is extending the application deadline for this year's national youth leadership conference at Cornell University from April 8-11, 2010. APPLY NOW!

Want to be part of a transformational experience with dynamic young leaders from across the country passionate about Cuba! APPLY NOW! This year, we're holding our trademark conference at Cornell and focusing on how the power of technology can be used to empower youth in Cuba. The name of the conference is eRevolution: Camino a una nueva era (Journey to a New Era) and it will take place from April 8-11, 2010. To apply, please visit

For the past seven years, the Roots have brought together students and young professionals taking leading roles in our careers and passionate about empowering young people in Cuba at a national youth leadership conference. In the past, our annual conferences have been held at Harvard, Princeton, and Georgetown, and included keynotes by personalities such as Grammy Award winner Gloria Estefan, Academy Award nominee Andy Garcia and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. For info on this year's program and speakers, please visit

Andy Garcia gives the opening Keynote AddressThis year's conference is more relevant than ever before. Around the world, we've seen how the power of technology can be used to empower the people and promote positive social change. In Cuba today, young people hunger to connect with each other and the outside world.  If you're passionate about Cuba and a dynamic young leader, then YOU should definitely apply. This is an opportunity to get involved and make a difference TODAY. Remember, the deadline is Sunday, March 7th! Don't miss out!

Important to note: Roots of Hope wants to ensure that travel expenses are not a factor in any potential participants' decision to attend the Cornell Cuba Conference. Financial assistance is available to those that request it on the application, including some 100% reimbursements for travel expenses. For more info, visit