Thursday night, Sánchez appeared at Columbia University’s School of Journalism to answer questions.
Sánchez described the problems Cubans have when trying to access the Internet and government surveillance of independent journalists. She also spoke about the changes made by Cuban leader Raúl Castro.
“I would love to pose 50 questions to Raúl Castro. And I anticipate right now that they won’t be answered,” she said.
Sánchez stressed that Cuban government restrictions of the Internet have “been even more aggressive” than she expected.
Cuba is one of 60 countries that censor communications and limit or harass Internet users constantly. The average access to the Internet by Cubans is the lowest in the Western hemisphere. Individual connections are restricted to official entities and educational and cultural institutions, under strict supervision.
Access to foreigners and Cuban citizens must be officially authorized after an exhaustive background check. “But as a journalist I am not frightened by the problems,” said Sánchez. “What’s most important is that the Cuban government and [the Communist Party daily] Granma are reading us. That is why they have created an alternative blogosphere to reply to us. They’re acknowledging us and that’s a first step toward acceptance.”
“Un hombre (Assange) que simbolizó a una especie de Robin Hood de la información ha terminado siendo cobijado en el castillo feudal de un Gobierno que evidentemente tiene una política rígida, agresiva hacia los medios de comunicación y la libertad de información”, señaló Sánchez.
A man (Assange) who symbolized a sort of Robin Hood of information ends up sheltered in the feudal castle of a government that obviously has a rigid, aggressive policy against the media and freedom of information.”
Mr. Correa’s real motivation is to show solidarity with a fellow enemy of Western democracies. The consolation for the West is that Mr. Assange and his Ecuadorean protectors may have to live with each other for a very long time.
Until Britain grants Assange safe passage, however, Julian’s stuck at the embassy.
In sheer numbers and percentages, Cuban women’s advance is notable. Cuba has a high number of female professional and technical workers (60 percent of the total work force in those areas) and in Parliament (43 percent), as well as high levels of primary, secondary and tertiary education enrollment, according to the Gender Gap report.
Indeed, Cuba is a friggin’ feminist paradise; look at how well the totalitarian Communist regime treats its women:
Wheee! Such good news for the most prominent of the Cuban women, blogger Yoani Sanchez. Oops! Not such good news as Voice of America notes:
Yoani Sanchez is a Cuban blogger who is not permitted to leave the country. She has attracted an international following for her blog, Generación Y, which gives readers unprecedented insight into the harsh realities of life in Cuba. Her work has won numerous awards, including Columbia University’s Maria Cabot prize for journalism, and the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award in 2011. But Cuba’s Communist government has refused to allow her to leave the country to accept these honors. Requests by Ms. Sanchez to travel have been denied 19 times.
But those are relatively recent instances of Cuba’s “feminist” support. Humberto Fontova knows his Cuban history since he lived it,
The longest-suffering female political prisoners in modern history suffered their tortures in Castro’s Cuba. Many died by firing-squad and prison beatings.
Their prison conditions were described by former political prisoner Maritza Lugo. “The punishment cells measure 3 feet wide by 6 feet long. The toilet consists of an 8 inch hole in the ground through which cockroaches and rats enter, especially in cool temperatures the rat come inside to seek the warmth of our bodies and we were often bitten. The suicide rate among women prisoners was very high.”
In fact, Castroism TRIPLED Cuban women’s pre-revolution suicide rate, making Cuban women the most suicidal on earth. This according to a 1998 study by scholar Maida Donate-Armada that uses some of the Cuban regime’s own figures.
Some suffered months in “Tapiadas” (underground cells in total darkness) Some were jailed a few miles from La Cabana. With the right wind direction, the firing squad volley’s would reach them. “HA-HA! Oiste?… Ce la cepillaron a tu marido! ( Hijo! Padre! Abuelo! Tio!)” (Heard that?! We just shot your husband, son, dad, grandad, uncle!) the guards would gather and cackle at the rat-bitten women, surrounded by cockroaches and caked in filth and menstrual fluid from lack of water in their torture chambers
Obviously Luisita doesn’t believe in the rights of all Cuban women, only in the rights of the Cuban women who toe the Communist Party line.
Additionally, millions of Cuban women are living in compulsory poverty, since the monthly salary is the equivalent of $20/month, which has pushed many young women into prostitution.
The tragedy occurred at about 9:30 p.m. in a residential neighborhood known as Cayo Hueso, where the vast majority of buildings and multi-family homes are in poor condition.
Some buildings have been declared uninhabitable by the Cuban authorities, although the families refuse to leave due to the country’s housing shortage.
The collapse mobilized dozens of paramedics and firefighters, as well as agents of State Security and specialized forces of the Interior Ministry’s construction section, according to Roberto de Jesús Guerra, director of Let’s Talk Press, an organization of dissidents in Havana. On Wednesday, the area was cordoned off by police and closed to vehicular traffic while workers examined the rubble.
“Unfortunately, what’s left of the building is only two walls. The rest fell apart,” Guerra said. According to local radio reports, six were injured in the collapse; four had to be rushed to Calixto Garcia hospital.
Emergency crews rescued two residents who lived on the second floor and had been trapped.
However, witnesses and emergency personnel who participated in the rescue and debris removal told El Nuevo Herald the death toll, initially put at three,could rise to as many as seven.
So far, the official media have reported three dead and six injured in the collapse on Infanta Street. People who lived the last years of their lives looking up and calculating the time left to the rafters, fearing what finally happened. How many others in this capital run the same risk tomorrow? What urgent solution will be applied so that these tragedies won’t continue to be a part of our daily landscape? We will not accept a response in the style of, “We are studying the issue in order to apply solutions in a gradual way.” Nor do we now fault the inhabitants themselves, who stayed in an uninhabitable place. Where could they go? Instead, we demand that the State construct, repair, protect us.
Political and civil rights abuses committed by the Cuban government have continued unabated in the three years since Raul Castro took over from his older brother, Fidel. U.S. travel and trade bans, therefore, must be lifted.
Although these conclusions — both included in the recent Human Rights Watch report, “New Castro, Same Cuba” — may seem incongruous, they are not. Rather, they illustrate that the economic pressure that failed to yield either regime change or human rights reforms over more than four decades of Fidel Castro’s rule is just as ineffective today as it has always been. Instead of continuing a failed policy, the Obama administration should craft a new one of incentives for Cuba to improve its human rights record.
You would think that the LA Times believes that Cuba’s horrible abuses are the responsibility of anyone other than the Communist Castros’ oppressive regime.
At least the LA Times recognizes that the US has made a move already
The Obama administration, to its credit, has relaxed travel restrictions on Cuban Americans, lifted limits on remittances and resumed limited negotiations on issues such as migration, but the engagement stopped there. Meanwhile, the Spanish government, which takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union in January, has indicated that it is seeking gestures from the Cuban government that would allow for normalization of relations with the EU.
The gesture the Cuban government made recently in return is that of waving a middle finger: as you may recall, blogger Yoani Sanchez was briefly kidnapped and subjected to a beating.
Which by the way, is very little compared to what the political prisoners that Marc Masferrer blogs about every week are going through in their captivity — Go read his blog, and also don’t miss this post from Yoani on the conditions in the Castros’ gulag.
How’s that for “gestures from the Cuban government”, LA Times?
A spokesman for the U.S. State Department’s Western Hemisphere department confirmed Obama had answered Sánchez’s questions.
Sánchez wrote that both the Spanish and English-language versions of Obama’s replies were provided to her by the White House.
Obama’s answers amounted to a standard restatement of his administration’s policies on Cuba — a desire for more bilateral and people-to-people contacts, in the hope they would lead to improved human rights, while insisting on “actions by the Cuban government.”
But he seemed to sidestep one particularly hard-nosed question: If his administration is really willing to put an end to the U.S.-Cuba dispute, would it “recognize the legitimacy of the Raúl Castro government as the only valid interlocutor in the eventual talks?”
“As I have said before, I am prepared to have my administration engage with the Cuban government on a range of issues of mutual interest as we have already done in the migration and direct mail talks,” the president answered. “It is also my intent to facilitate greater contact with the Cuban people, especially among divided Cuban families, which I have done by removing U.S. restrictions on family visits and remittances.
“We seek to engage with Cubans outside of the government as we do elsewhere around the world, as the government, of course, is not the only voice that matters in Cuba. We take every opportunity to interact with the full range of Cuban society and look forward to the day when the government reflects the freely expressed will of the Cuban people,”
In the Spanish version of his answers, Obama refers to Sánchez in the familiar tu instead of the more formal usted.
My beef with Yoani’s seven questions hinges on one single word: “dispute.” She speaks of this dispute between the US and Cuban governments as if it is the crux of the matter. As if the US trade embargo – a paper tiger if ever we’ve seen one and one she alluded to in a previous post – and the elimination of same and the opening of official diplomatic relations between the two governments will somehow be the end of all of Cuba’s woes.
If only that were the reality.
The only true dispute that exists in this context is the one between the castro government and the people of Cuba. The US government doesnt attempt to stifle Yoani’s voice, quite the contrary. The US government didnt incarcerate Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, Dr. Darsi Ferrer and a myriad other Cubans. The US government doesnt control and monitor every aspect of Yoani’s life. The US government didnt pick her up a few Fridays ago and violently beat her and her colleagues. The US government doesnt ration her food. The US government isnt the one that has agents parked in front of her house and following her around all day.
Welcome to the Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Today’s top story: Yoani Sánchez and Orlando Luís Pardo Lazo last Friday, November 6, were kidnapped off a street in Havana just as they were about to participate on a peace demonstration. They were severely beaten by three men, threatened, and released. More details on the story in the Cuba section below. I’ll be talking about this in today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern.
Val Prieto posted an item Claudia Cadelo, another Cuban blogging from the island-prison, is posting now at Babalu.
Another top story making the news in the media is that Chavez is threatening war with Colombia… again. You’d think he would come up with something new by now.
Zelaya in June 25 video: For those of you who must insist that Zelaya didn’t violate the law prior to being deposed, here is a video of Zelaya leading a mob to steal the Venezuela-printed ballots and electoral material that the Honduran authorities had declared illegal.
“Generals of the armed forces, the best way to avoid a war is to prepare for one,” Chavez said in comments on state television during his weekly “Alo Presidente” program. “Colombia handed over their country and is now another state of the union. Don’t make the mistake of attacking: Venezuela is willing to do anything.”
Chávez asks the military to prepare for war with Colombia: Chávez pide a militares “prepararse para guerra” con Colombia. Here he is stating it in his Alo presidente TV show (in Spanish). He also tells Obama “don’t make a mistake, Mr President Obama, and order open aggression against Venezuela by using Colombia. Don’t make that mistake, because we’re ready for everything.”