Easing travel restrictions to Cuba?

I just got a press release from Amnesty International calling on Cuban Authorities to End the Harassment of the Mother of Deceased Prisoner of Conscience. The press release reads,

(Washington, D.C.) The Cuban authorities must act to end the harassment of the mother of a prisoner of conscience who died following a hunger strike to push for the release of other prisoners, Amnesty International said today.

Reina Luisa Tamayo, whose son Orlando Zapata Tamayo died in February this year, told Amnesty International she has been repeatedly harassed by authorities and government supporters during the regular marches in memory of her son that she carries out in the town of Banes.

“Reina Luisa Tamayo is simply paying tribute to her son who died in tragic circumstances, and that must be respected by the authorities,” said Kerrie Howard, Amnesty International’s Americas deputy director.

Every Sunday Tamayo, who is usually accompanied by relatives and friends, walks from her home to the church of Nuestra Señora de la Caridad, to attend mass and then they march to the cemetery, where Orlando is buried.

On Sunday August 15, government supporters arrived early in the morning and surrounded her house, Tamayo told Amnesty International, preventing her and her relatives and friends from marching and attending mass at the church.

Ahead of the march, Cuban security forces also allegedly detained in their homes some of the women due to attend for up to 48 hours, without any explanation for the measure.

Tamayo told Amnesty International that six loudspeakers were installed near her house and were used to shout slogans against her and the Ladies in White, an organization of female relatives of prisoners of conscience campaigning for their release.

On August 8, Tamayo was confronted by government supporters, who blocked her path and, according to her account, beat relatives and friends of the family. She said a police patrol was parked nearby watching the events, but failed to intervene.

Amnesty International has also expressed its concern at a series of recent detentions by the police of independent journalists and dissidents. “At a time when the Cuban government has begun to release prisoners of conscience, the campaign of harassment against Reina Luisa Tamayo and the arbitrary detention of journalists and dissident figures shows that the authorities are yet to make significant progress on human rights,” said Howard.

Writer Luis Felipe Rojas Rozabal was detained by the police at 7 a.m. on August 16, at his home in the town of San Germán, province of Holguín.

Rozabal’s family is unaware of the reasons of his arrest, but they have said they suspect this might be related to his criticism of the government. He has been arbitrarily detained on several previous occasions in similar circumstances.

Several members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, a network of political dissident organizations, have also been detained.

As you may recall, yesterday I posted on how the Communist regime has been harassing Mrs. Tamayo.

While Tamayo, Rozabal, Yoani Sanchez and others are cruelly repressed, the NY Times has an article on U.S. Said to Plan Easing Rules for Travel to Cuba

The Obama administration is planning to expand opportunities for Americans to travel to Cuba, the latest step aimed at encouraging more contact between people in both countries, while leaving intact the decades-old embargo against the island’s Communist government, according to Congressional and administration officials.

The officials, who asked not to be identified because they had not been authorized to discuss the policy before it was announced, said it was meant to loosen restrictions on academic, religious and cultural groups that were adopted under President George W. Bush, and return to the “people to people” policies followed under President Bill Clinton.

Alberto de la Cruz points out,

Conspicuously missing from the New York Times article, however, is any mention of what, if any, positive effects those academic and cultural exchanges during the 1990s had. As far as I can remember, none of those visits helped the enslaved people on the island achieve freedom and democracy. While all those American artists and academics were hobnobbing with the members of Castro’s elite in Havana during the Clinton days, the Cuban people continued to be repressed and brutally subjugated by the dictatorship. Also missing from the article is any speculation on how people-to-people contacts would be any different this time.

Perhaps these pesky realities were purposely omitted due to the fact that these “exchanges” do nothing to help the Cuban people. They do make the liberal elite feel good though, and in the end, that is all that really matters; who cares about the enslaved Cuban people–somebody has to make the mojitos and roll the cigars.

The repression continued, Cubans continue to be slaves of their government, and the easement from the EU has had no positive effect.

Any questions?

(post re-edited to add omitted links)

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