Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Your Voice Counts

International Human Rights Day:
Ways to Take Action

International Human Rights Day, which commemorates the day that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted, was celebrated on Monday, December 10th. The UDHR sets out a broad range of fundamental rights and freedoms to which all people are entitled without bias or segregation. It has been accepted by almost every government and has become the foundation on which protection and advocacy of human rights is based.

Despite officially adopting the universal declaration in 1948, the Cuban regime has continuously and systematically violated the human rights, freedoms, and dignity of its population. Human Rights Watch has consistently accused the island’s government of torture, arbitrary detention, corrupt trial procedures, and extrajudicial execution, in addition to calling out the limits Cuban law imposes on freedom of expression, association, assembly, movement, and press. For more details on human rights in Cuba, visit Human Rights Watch or Amensty International.

Below are a handful of ways that you can take action this week (and always) to help defend the rights of the Cuban people!

Be a Loudspeaker for Cuban Voices
Get involved in translating the dozens of blogs coming from Cuba. Cuban bloggers are yearning or their ideas to be expressed outside of their borders and to breed dialogue inside and outside of the island. Check out TranslatingCuba.com and read this interview with its founder, Mary Jo Porter, to understand the value and promise that translating blogs holds.

Support Freedom of Expression and Access to Information
Donate cell phones or USBs for Roots of Hope to refurbish and send to Cuba. These devices are the primary way that information spreads like wildfire among young Cubans, including artists, students, bloggers, and nascent entrepreneurs. Hear how technology helps.

Use social media to make your #VoiceCount
Follow @RootsofHope on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook and share your ideas for supporting youth in Cuba and promoting their freedoms and rights.

Draw Attention to Jailed Activists in Cuba
Email or tweet Amnesty International to draw attention to the dozens of political prisoners in Cuba and ask for their inclusion in their letter writing and awareness campaigns. For examples, read about activists who are still jailed such as Calixto Ramon of Hablemos Press, and Marcos Máiquel Lima Cruz, or those who have been freed in recent years, such as Ricardo GonzálezIf you would like to write letters or organize a letter writing campaign for jailed activists in Cuba, email us at comms@rootsofhope.org

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Crackdown on Music in Cuba

Raices de Esperanza strongly objects to The Cuban Ministry of Culture's announcement that it is banning the production and distribution of reggaeton music as part of a larger crackdown on “vulgar, banal, and mediocre” musical expression. Citing a desire to retain the authenticity and quality of Cuban music, the president of the Cuban Institute of Music (ICM) called out the elimination of sexual and explicit lyrics as the central motivation for these actions.

Given these erratic and disproportionate actions, we can only assume that the Cuban Ministry of Culture perceives the musicians’ success as subversive of their control. We call on the Cuban government to not censor Cuban artists and allow the Cuban people to exercise their inherent human right to freedom of expression.

Although reggaetton and hip-hop musicians are not a direct threat to the Cuban government, they have amassed a large following and audience across the island. Over recent years, the music scene in Cuba has become increasingly reflective of the diversity and interests of its population and has become an outlet for their observations and for communication among its citizenry. We hope that musicians in Cuba are not discouraged, but rather emboldened to continue making and sharing music that echoes their reality, reflects their aspirations, and shapes a new generation of Cuban artists.

For questions, please contact comms@rootsofhope.org