Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights’

Cuba’s crackdown should make Obama think twice

| May 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Washington Examiner

In December, President Obama announced a historic thaw in U.S. relations with Cuba’s 56-year communist dictatorship. As part of this thaw, Cuba’s regime will be formally removed from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism this week.

At the time this move was first announced, we questioned just what it was that the Obama administration was receiving in exchange. There was and is still no evidence that Cuba has agreed to the extradition of the many murderers and terrorists who sought and received refuge in Cuba throughout the Cold War.

Without something to show for it, Obama seemed to be doing an awfully big favor for an unelected regime that has few if any redeeming qualities.

The Cuban regime is more like a national disease than a national government. Its hallmarks are the imprisonment of political dissenters and the suppression of economic and human rights, such as free expression and freedom of religion.

Cuba ... Read More

Venezuelans on Hunger Strike Stir Protest Calls

| May 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

Officials dismissed the strike as an effort to destabilize embattled President Nicolás Maduro’s government.

Leopoldo López, one of the leaders, released a video to announce the strike from the military stockade near Caracas where he has been held for 15 months. In the recording, he also called for a nationwide protest on Saturday to press for a release of political prisoners, the scheduling of congressional elections and an end to “repression and censorship.”

“Go out, hand in hand, brother and sister, without distinctions in ideology or political affiliation, to demonstrate that we are on the side of change for Venezuela,” Mr. López said in the video. His hunger strike began Sunday, two days after Daniel Ceballos, the other leader, stopped eating.

The two ... Read More

Victory behind bars? How imprisoning politicians in Venezuela could backfire.

| May 21st, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor

CARACAS, VENEZUELA — Venezuelan congressional candidate Daniel Ceballos wasn’t out corralling voters prior to Sunday’s primary election here. He didn’t brandish his youthful smile for photo-ops, shake hands, or kiss babies. Mr. Ceballos’s wife tweeted on Election Day that she hadn’t heard from her husband in 48 hours. In fact, no one had.

That’s because Ceballos, a 31-year-old former mayor, has been sitting in federal prison for the past 14 months, after refusing to help the federal government halt a wave of antigovernment protests that swept the country last year.

Ceballos isn’t the only candidate in this year’s National Assembly race to have seen the inside of a jail cell. He is joined on the opposition ballot by former student leader and current inmate Renzo Prieto, and another former mayor, Enzo Scarano, who was freed in February after spending 11 months behind ... Read More

Venezuela Sues the Messenger

| May 21st, 2015 | No Comments »

By Mac Margolis

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro can’t catch a break.

When a 54-year-old woman from northern Venezuela, desperate to own her own home, scrawled a message on a mango and flung it at Maduro’s head in late April, she inspired scores of copycats, a send-up by John Oliver and a smartphone game app, Maduro Mango Attack, which has been downloaded at least 100,000 times.

In his prime, the late Hugo Chavez might have grabbed a microphone and whipped up morale with some of his patented Bolivarian blunderbuss, but Maduro inspires mostly derision.

Two of three Venezuelans say the stumbling heir to Chavez’s revolution for “21st-Century socialism” is doing a lousy job, and now U.S. authorities have named Maduro’s right-hand companero, National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, as a leading suspect in a Venezuela-based global drug trafficking hub.

Inflation is speeding to 200 percent this year, foreign reserves are vanishing, and the World Bank says the ... Read More

In Cuba the transformation of the economy needs to happen much faster

| May 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Economist

It has been five months since Cuba and the United States announced that they would end their long cold war, but Cuba’s president, Raúl Castro, is still basking in the afterglow. On his way home from Russia this week he stopped off at the Vatican to see the pope, and said he might return to the Catholic faith. Later François Hollande paid the first-ever visit to Cuba by a French president; he was granted an audience with Fidel Castro, Raúl’s ailing brother, who led the revolution in 1959 and ruled until 2008.

But beneath the bonhomie lies unease. Cuba’s creaky revolutionaries spent half a century blaming the American embargo for all the island’s woes. Now they resist American capitalism for fear of being overrun. The result for most ordinary Cubans is not too much change but too little (see article). The island is poorer than many of its ... Read More

No longer protesting in the streets, young critics of Venezuela government turn to elections

| May 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
US News & World Report


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Last year, Rafael Rico was covering his baby face with a vinegar-soaked rag and dodging tear gas canisters as he clashed with Venezuelan riot police.

This week, the 23-year-old engineering student is canvassing on the resort island of Margarita as he campaigns to represent the South American country’s opposition coalition in upcoming legislative elections.

Rico is the youngest of a crop of new candidates who raged in the streets against Venezuela’s socialist administration last spring, but now are putting their faith in the ballot box as the best way to force President Nicolas Maduro from power. More than a third of the candidates running in the opposition coalition’s primary elections on Sunday are younger than 40.

“You have to protest, but you also have to vote,” Rico said, borrowing from his stump speech. “The repression and human rights violations ... Read More

Take Cuba off the State Sponsors of Terrorism List?

| April 28th, 2015 | No Comments »

By George Phillips

Let us not give Castro the resources he needs to continue his regime’s 56-year reign of terror on his own people, and his continued support for terrorists and terrorist states.

To enrich and solidify that dictatorship at this time only prevents the Cuban people from being able to forge a better life through elections in a few years, now that they are finally “on the one-yard line,” when the Castro brothers, now in their eighties, could simply be left to their natural, un-bankrolled, ends. In a dictatorship such as this, only the dictators benefit.

As Sonia Alvarez Campillo was leaving Catholic Mass on July 14, 2013 with fellow members of Ladies in White, her pro-democracy organization, she was assaulted by Raul Castro’s agents.

These “security” agents broke Alvarez Campillo’s wrist as well as her husband’s ribs in their attack on her and other members of ... Read More

Voices: Cubans impatient to see benefits from thaw with U.S.

| April 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »

By Alan Gomez

HAVANA – When I last came to Cuba in late December, I detected a sentiment among the island’s people that I had never encountered before: optimism.

President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro had just announced their historic pact to re-establish diplomatic relations between the two countries, and every Cuban I encountered ticked off ways they felt the new opening could foster their economic well-being.

Now, four months later, I’ve run into something else: impatience.

As the two governments slowly work through their respective bureaucracies to enact sweeping changes, the impact on the daily lives of Cubans has so far been non-existent. The only segment of the population that has seen any benefit is the tourism industry, as more American business people, government officials and curious travelers have come to the island in the months since the announcement.

“At first, it was euphoria,” Ricardo Torres Pérez, an economist at the Havana-based Center for Studies ... Read More

Why Is Obama Parroting Castro Talking Points?

| April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
National Review

BY MONA CHARENTwo relatively recent photos of Barack Obama with foreign leaders reveal much about his deep-dyed leftism. The first features President Obama and democratically-elected prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of one of America’s most loyal friends. Obama looks strained. His face is stiff, and his eyes are veiled. The second is a snap of Obama at the recent Summit of the Americas in Panama. He’s seated with “President” Raul Castro, leader of a bitter enemy, who has never received a single free vote. Obama is grinning, his eyes dancing with pleasure.In contrast to the bitterness with which Obama addresses Netanyahu, he is all honey with Castro. “So I want to thank President Castro for the spirit of openness and courtesy that he has shown during our interactions . . . President Castro earlier today spoke about the significant hardships that the people of Cuba have undergone over many decades. I can say with ... Read More

Where Does U.S. Policy Toward Cuba Go From Here?

| April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

With this week’s perfunctory delisting of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, it is clear President Obama can’t give away the store fast enough. The apparently antiquated diplomatic notion that when engaging an adversary you use your leverage to try and exact concessions that get you closer to your objective is evidently not for him. Instead, as the Wall Street Journal put it, “Mr. Obama’s Cuban diplomacy has been one unreciprocated offering after another.”

Even worse than that, the administration now finds itself in the humiliating position where the Castro regime is placing conditions on the United States to upgrade diplomatic relations: i.e., ending the terrorism designation, returning the Guantánamo naval base, ending support for dissidents, and so on.

What we are witnessing is a truly remarkable, perhaps unprecedented, piece of statecraft. Give your adversary everything he wants and then see what happens, historical experience be damned. In his own ... Read More

President Obama’s use of farce on Cuba

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »

President Obama issued a “certification” yesterday under US law that Cuba should no longer be listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. He states, in part, “the Government of Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.” Of course, Cuba has insisted for 30 years that it does not support terrorism, despite reams of evidence to the contrary, i.e. support for Colombian and Basque terror groups in addition to US cop-killers. So, yesterday, the president of the United States essentially certified his own gullibility.

Let’s just say that Obama’s White House is not a stickler for facts or the law. On March 9th, the president issued a detailed, formal declaration that the lawlessness in Venezuela “constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States. Less than a month later, White House advisor Ben Rhodes flatly contradicted the president’s declaration. A State Department official ... Read More

Normalizing Cuba Ties Doesn’t Erase Castro’s Legacy

| April 14th, 2015 | No Comments »

Leadership: The sight of President Obama glad-handing Cuban dictator Raul Castro showed just how far American diplomacy has sunk. Far from being a Nixon-goes-to-China moment, this was a craven capitulation.

There’s a reason 10 presidents of both parties kept Cuba’s Castros on America’s bad-guys’ list for more than 50 years. Each leader understood a basic truth: Totalitarian Cuba is a sworn enemy of the U.S., a violent threat to the Western Hemisphere’s peace and prosperity and an ally of our worst enemies — including the former USSR.

Hearing an American president now apologize — as Obama did over the weekend at the Summit of the Americas — for past U.S. efforts to protect our homeland and our militarily weak neighbors from Cuba’s aggression is bizarre and disgraceful.

No move to repair ties with the Castro regime should have been made until that country agreed to real, major reforms — including the release of all ... Read More

For U.S., Brazil ‘aligned’ itself with human rights violators at the U.N.

| April 13th, 2015 | 1 Comment »
Estadao Brazil

By Jamil Chade

[Translation by IASW]

The Human Rights Council voted resolutions on various crises around the world and Brazil abstained to vote in cases involving Syria and Iran.

“Brazil has aligned itself with the position taken by some of the biggest human rights violators in the world” by choosing not to support resolutions condemning Syria and Iran. The statement was made by US representative to the UN Human Rights Council, Keith Harper, in an exclusive interview in which he doesn’t hide his frustration over the political choices of the Brazilian government. But he also took the opportunity to insist on areas in which Washington and Brazil can collaborate.

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council voted on resolutions on a number of crises around the world. Brazil abstained to vote on matters dealing with Syria and Iran, prompting criticism from NGOs. Now, with a direct speech and without diplomatic language, the American representative ... Read More

Obama Puts the Heat on Chavistas

| April 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

By Fabio Rafael Fiallo

On March 9, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order that qualifies Venezuela’s regime as a threat to U.S. internal security and foreign policy. The order imposes asset freezes and visa bans against seven high-ranking officials, mostly from the military and the police, for their role in violations of human rights.

Caracas’ reaction was predictable enough. The Venezuelan government and its regional allies (Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua at the forefront) swiftly dismissed the claim that Venezuela could be a threat to the United States and accused Obama of interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs. Never mind that, as emphasized by Chile’s former President Ricardo Lagos, “as regards human rights, there aren’t frontiers, and wherever such rights are violated, someone has to cry foul”. (Lagos was discussing Venezuela when he made the statement.)

Neither have all critics of Chavismo applauded Obama’s move. More than a few contend that the ... Read More

Summiting With Raúl

| April 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

President Obama arrived in Panama on Thursday for the 7th Summit of the Americas, where he will share the limelight and probably some public interaction with Raúl Castro. Mark it down as another legacy moment for the U.S. President, whose predecessors since 1959 have refused to legitimize the Cuban regime. So many dictators, so little time left before Jan. 20, 2017.

The meet-and-greet continues Mr. Obama’s attempt to reconcile with Cuba’s Communist regime, though the Castros are proving to be hard negotiators—like, you know, the Iranians. Mr. Obama has offered an economic lifeline and the promise of diplomatic recognition, while asking nothing in return. Raúl has responded by raising his demands.

Fidel’s little brother now says he won’t move on normalization until Mr. Obama hands over Guantanamo and takes Cuba off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Mr. Obama is waiting for a review of a State Department analysis on the terror list, but he’s ... Read More

Castro’s Trunk Monkeys

| April 10th, 2015 | No Comments »

Diplomacy: The dawn of U.S.-Cuba rapprochement has come with a dreary reminder of what we’re dealing with — as Cuban agents beat up dissidents at a hemispheric summit in Panama, just as they do back home in Havana.

Just before the grand opening of the Summit of the Americas in Panama this year, hemispheric leaders were treated to an unseemly spectacle:

Cuban agents — including a top intelligence official, according to the Capitol Hill Cubans blog — massed near a peaceful protest of dissident groups, also from Cuba, in Panama City. There, they showed how they treat dissenters back home — hurling objects, screaming “counterrevolutionary,” “mercenary” and “imperialist,” and beating the civil society participants with their fists — all to send a message.

In Havana, it’s what’s known as “an act of repudiation.” Incredibly, they got away with it. Anyplace else, they’d be charged with assault.

Perhaps that’s because this is the summit where Cuba’s ... Read More

Mr. Obama’s opportunity in Panama

| April 8th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post By Editorial Board

PRESIDENT OBAMA’s move to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba in December was supposed to improve political and economic conditions for average Cubans and remove an irritant in U.S. relations with other Latin American nations, which have been pushing to end the isolation of the Castro regime. Four months later — a short time, admittedly — there is no sign of those benefits. According to Cuban human rights groups, political detentions have increased: There were more than 600 in March alone. More than 50 long-term political prisoners are still being held. Several Cuban opposition leaders are banned from leaving the country, which means they cannot attend this week’s Summit of the Americas in Panama.

U.S. and Cuban officials have yet to agree on the terms for reopening embassies. But the Castro regime has nevertheless reaped some substantial gains. Raúl Castro will be welcomed to the Americas summit for the first time; Mr. Obama will shake his ... Read More

Venezuela: The Price of Revolution

| April 8th, 2015 | No Comments »

By Nathan Crooks

Venezuela has more oil than Saudi Arabia and more poverty than Brazil. As the world’s only left-wing petrostate, it hopes to light a revolutionary path to prosperity for Latin America’s poor. The country’s an economic and social mess, though, with inflation pushing 70 percent, the world’s highest rate, and a homicide rate second only to Honduras. With the price of oil falling by half in the second half of 2014, the legacy of the late President Hugo Chavez is at risk as his hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, struggles to keep providing cheap oil and other subsidies to buy influence abroad and popular support at home. Citizens wait in long lines to find scarce household items from deodorant to toilet paper. Congressional elections expected later this year will give Maduro’s government its first major electoral test.

The Situation

With oil revenue accounting for 95 percent of the country’s foreign currency earnings and an economy that produces little else, the Caribbean nation of 30 million people found itself with 60 percent less cash ... Read More

Venezuela: Stop Harassing Human Rights Defenders

| April 8th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article appeared in Human Rights Watch

(Panama City) – Venezuela is intimidating and harassing human rights defenders, and making unsubstantiated allegations that they are seeking to undermine Venezuelan democracy, 28 international and Latin American human rights organizations said today. The authorities’ allegations concern the groups’ legitimate functions of documenting abuses and representing victims before international human rights bodies.Venezuelan authorities should cease this tactic immediately, the groups said. Governments participating in the Summit of the Americas in Panama on April 10-11, 2015, should press the administration of Nicolás Maduro to ensure that human rights defenders can do their job without fear of reprisals, the organizations said.The government harassment is clearly intended to discredit and intimidate groups that document human rights violations, the groups said.On February 12, Diosdado Cabello, president of the National Assembly and member of the governing party, stated on the website of his weekly TV show, Con el Mazo Dando, aired on the state-run Venezolana de Televisión, that “NGO representatives from the ... Read More

Venezuela Urged by Former Leaders to Free Jailed Politicians

| April 7th, 2015 | No Comments »
ABC News

Nineteen former leaders from Latin America and Spain are pressuring Venezuela to release opposition politicians who have been detained.

In a statement released by the foundation of former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, the leaders called for the politicians’ immediate release and for groups like the Organization of American States and the United Nations to craft “an alternative solution that respects constitutional principles and international standards.”

The statement was released on Monday, four days before the Summit of the Americas starts in Panama. Leaders from 35 nations, including Latin American and Caribbean countries, the U.S. and Canada, are expected to attend.

The detentions in Venezuela are sure to be a summit issue. The biggest theme is the thaw in relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

Click here for original ... Read More

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