Thursday, May 20, 2010

Human Rights in Cuba and Honduras :2010

Human Rights in Cuba and Honduras, 2010: The Spring of Discontent

by John M. Kirk, Dalhousie University*
and Emily J. Kirk, Cambridge University*

May 19, 2010 Cuba-L Analysis (Albuquerque)
http://cuba-l.unm.edu/

The spring of 2010 has witnessed a plethora of articles
in mainstream US media on the human rights situation in
Cuba, largely surrounding three issues-the hunger
strike (and eventual death) of Orlando Zapata Tamayo,
that of Guillermo Fariñas (still alive at the time of
writing), and a series of demonstrations by opponents
of the government (and family members of prisoners)
known as the Ladies in White.

The facts are clear in all cases.  Zapata died on
February 23 after 85 days of a hunger strike-the first
Cuban to perish in this manner in almost 40 years.  The
following day Fariñas started his own strike at his
home, and has been hospitalized since March 11,
demanding the release of 26 allegedly ill political
prisoners.  The Ladies in White are a group that was
formed in 2003 to protest the imprisonment of 75
opposition figures and sentenced to lengthy terms.
Some 53 of that number remain in prison.  The women
have been leading demonstrations for 7 years, marching
on Sundays down Fifth Avenue in the Miramar district of
Havana.  In early April, however, they were confronted
by large pro-government demonstrations, and security
forces intervened to protect them.

For three Sundays in a row these confrontations
continued until Cardinal Jaime Ortega negotiated with
government officials, with the result that the Ladies
were allowed to march wherever they wanted, and without
official permission to stage a demonstration (normally
required by Cuban law).  What was negotiated was a
return to the status quo ante that had existed prior to
the first week of December 2009.  On May 2 a dozen
Women in White renewed their traditional march. [1]



The case of Zapata received a tremendous amount of
media attention, in part because it was the first time
in decades that an opponent of the Cuban government had
died during a hunger strike.  He was arrested in 2003,
charged with contempt and public disorder and given a
prison sentence of 3 years.  Subsequent acts of
defiance in prison led to further charges being laid.
He started his hunger strike on December 8, 2009, and
died on February 23, 2010.  He was widely presented as
a person imprisoned for his human rights beliefs,
summed up in a release by the International Republican
Institute entitled "Democracy's Heroes: Orlando Zapata
Tamayo".[2] Emotional descriptions were given of his
prison conditions and the punishments he had received.
His back was "tattooed with blows," and when he was
transferred to hospital he was "skin and bones, his
stomach is just a hole," his mother noted.[3]
Emotionally disturbed by the deliberate suicide of her
son, she lashed out at the treatment received, calling
his death "a premeditated murder" by the Cuban
government.  Her criticism of the lack of medical care
provided was highlighted in media reports, when it was
clear that just the opposite was true.  In fact a video
shown on Cuban television shows her expressing
gratitude to the medical staff attending him.[4]

Vocal denunciations of the abuse of human rights in
Cuba were sprinkled among the many articles dealing
with Zapata.  The term "prisoner of conscience" was
liberally used to describe his plight, and he was
presented as a political activist who was protesting
inhuman treatment in prison.  In the media rush to show
him as a person imprisoned for his political beliefs,
little attention was paid to his long criminal record,
involving domestic violence (1993), possession of a
weapon and assault, including the use of a machete to
fracture the cranium of Leonardo Simón (2000), fraud
(2000), and public disorder (2002).[5] In sum, the
issue of his imprisonment is somewhat murkier than
might at first appear.

Mainstream US media covered the events in great detail-
with over 80 articles published in a 3-month period.
Interviews with leading dissidents in Cuba, exile
politicians, Miami groups opposed to the Cuban
government, U.S. politicians, resulted, all praising
the courage and honesty of Zapata.  The opinion was
given that the Cuban government was fearful that the
death would lead to massive protests, and so "an
increased police presence was reported in the streets
of several Cuban cities".[6]  In various press reports
mention was made of major demonstrations of grief, and
concern by the government resulting in extreme security
measures being adapted.

The Obama approach to Cuba was also linked with the
Zapata case, and anger was directed to both Cuba and
the president.  A common impression given is that the
Obama administration has tried to pursue a more
flexible approach to Cuba, but has been met with Cuban
intransigence and hostility.  One editorialist of The
Washington Post used the suicide to condemn Obama´s
policy-which was seen as being too liberal: "Is the
new, Castro-friendly approach working?  A good answer
to that question came Tuesday, when Orlando Zapata
Tamayo, a 42-year-old Afro-Cuban political prisoner,
died after an 83-day hunger strike".[7]

The U.S. government has recently issued outspoken
condemnations of the Cuban government's approach to
human rights, with statements by Philip J. Crowley
(Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs) and
even President Barack Obama.  The president condemned
the "repression visited upon Las Damas de Blanco, and
the intensified harassment of those who dare to give
voice to the desires of their fellow Cubans", while
noting that "Cuban authorities continue to respond to
the aspirations of the Cuban people with a clenched
fist".[8]  One searches in vain, however, for any
references by the president to the clenched fist of the
Honduran government and the appalling human rights
record since the removal of President Zelaya in June of
2009. In a related matter, it is clear that US media
has provided an extremely sympathetic portrayal of the
'Ladies in White,' as can be seen from the titles of a
recent article in the Miami Herald, "United by Pain,
Cuba's Ladies in White Vow to Keep Marching," and an
editorial in the Wall Street Journal, "Women Who Brave
Mobs".[9]  The terminology in the latter leaves little
to the imagination, with references to the women
"getting leaned on by Havana's toughs," "Castro's
goons," "the regime's desperation in the face of
popular discontent," and the Ladies in White "walking
in the face of an increasingly dangerous mob".[10]

The attention given to the "Damas de Blanco"[11] has in
many ways mirrored that given to the cases of Zapata
and, to a lesser extent, Fariñas.  The fact that they
have been protesting for several years in Havana
without any significant repression (or media coverage)
would indicate that the recent extensive coverage is
due to an unusual conjunctural set of circumstances. In
Miami a demonstration in favor of Cuban human rights
activists was held on March 25 in which Cuban-American
singer Gloria Estefan and her husband music producer
Emilio, together with exile singers Willy Chirino and
Olga Guillot, while a few days later Cuban exile, the
actor Andy García, participated in a march in Los
Angeles to show his support for the Damas de Blanco.

It would appear that, for a variety of reasons,
opposition groups to the Cuban government decided in
the spring of 2010 to ramp up their activities-and the
media jumped on the bandwagon and followed suit.  It is
also clear that, as the Cuban government responded, US
media became increasingly critical in their
presentation of the human rights situation. Typical of
the reaction was a pointed editorial in The Miami
Herald: "In a democracy, people can disagree.  They can
march to protest their government, they can chastise
their elected officials in public forums, they can walk
down the street carrying placards voicing their
opinions  [.]  Not in Cuba. Never in Cuba".[12]

This massive media campaign against marches taking
place by an opposition group-some of whose members have
admitted to having been paid by U.S. government
officials-during a few weeks had never been seen
before.  Again it must be emphasized that these weekly
marches have been going on for seven years, and without
any major harassment from government officials.  That
fact is ignored almost completely by the media.[13]
What is also ignored in U.S. media analysis is the
recent approval by Washington of some $20 million to
promote political destabilization in Cuba, with funds
being earmarked "to provide humanitarian support to
prisoners of conscience and their families. Funds may
also be used to support democratic rule of law programs
that promote, protest and defend human rights in Cuba".
Other funds are earmarked "to provide humanitarian
support to families of Cuban political prisoners".  In
all $20 million is to be made available.[14]  This of
course follows on from five decades of U.S. government
hostility after Washington broke off diplomatic
relations on January 3, 1961, maintains the "Trading
with the Enemy" act, and over the decades has supported
a variety of hostile acts (including terrorism) against
Cuba.

In synthesis, the issue of the hunger strike of Orlando
Zapata (which resulted in his suicide), and the
hostilities faced by the Damas de Blanco over a three-
week period in the spring of 2010 resulted in an
unprecedented barrage of media coverage in the spring
of 2010.  The media campaign was ferocious, and clearly
focused.  Perhaps the most thoughtful response to it
came from an unexpected source-Cardenal Jaime Ortega of
Havana, who criticized the "media violence" and the
"verbal war by the media in the United States, Spain
and other countries".[15] If one contrasts those facts
with events in Honduras during approximately the same
time, and if one analyzes the nature of media coverage
of events there, a very different picture emerges.

Most of those developments follow on from the
circumstances surrounding the coup d´état of June 28,
2009, when the democratically elected president, Manuel
Zelaya, was ousted. The Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights confirmed that several hundred arbitrary
arrests and beatings of supporters of the overthrown
Zelaya government by the armed forces and police
occurred. The list of abuses was long and detailed:
"killings, an arbitrary declaration of a state of
emergency, disproportionate use of force against public
demonstrations, criminalization of public protest,
arbitrary detention of thousands persons, cruel,
inhumane and degrading treatments, poor detention
conditions, militarization of Honduran territory, an
increase in incidents of racial discrimination,
violations of women's rights, severe and arbitrary
restrictions on the right of freedom of expression, and
serious violations of political rights".[16]

In just the first hundred days after the coup, the
Committee of the Families of the Detained and
Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) documented 4,234
violations by the de facto government, including 21
extrajudicial killings, 3,033 illegal detentions, and
818 cases of violence.[17]  It is clear that the
numbers of victims was in fact much higher, but that
many have not made public their treatment at the hands
of security forces out of fear of reprisal.  From June
2009 to February 2010, COFADEH documented 43
politically motivated murders.  Particularly chilling
is the fact that in the spring of 2010 some 7
journalists were assassinated.[18]  Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch condemned the
widespread abuses, echoing the conclusions of the
Organization of American States.

Sadly, these extremely clear violations of human rights
in Honduras have been commonplace, though the media in
North America have largely ignored them. A quantitative
analysis of the media attention paid to the three
issues studied here-the hunger strike of Zapata, the
treatment of the ladies in White over a 3-week period,
and the killings and beating accruing in Honduras in
recent months-is telling.

Table 1: Media Coverage of Three Human Rights-Related
Topics

News      No. of posts regarding      No. of post
regarding  No. of post Agency    7 murdered
journalists      Cuba hunger strike      on Ladies in &
human rights abuses      (02/10/2010-05/6/2010)  White
Honduras                    [20]
(02/01/20- (6/29/2009-5/6/2010)[19]
05/06/2010 [21]

CNN                2                            7
7 New York Times    1                            8
1 Washington Post    1                            13
5 Boston Globe      1                            4
2 Miami Herald      1                            55
46 Total              6                            86
61

As the table above indicates, there have been a large
number of articles on the hunger striker, and very
little on the murdered journalists, and much less on
the widespread human rights abuses in Honduras since
the overthrow of President Zelaya. In fact, of the news
agencies examined above, there are over 14 times more
posts published on the hunger striker in Cuba, than
that of the murders of journalist and human rights
abuses in Honduras.  As noted earlier, it is clear that
there is an abundance of material to be studied for the
latter-should the media be interested.

A qualitative analysis also indicates an unequal
representation of both issues. While the articles
describe the slow death of Zapata, a man who was
charged with various federal crimes and chose to ignore
medical assistance, there has been almost no
explanation of the vast and overarching abuses suffered
by the Honduran people-including dozens of murders and
thousands of arbitrary arrests and beatings.

To be sure, the severity or extent of these issues has
not been accurately portrayed in the media. Moreover,
not only is information sadly lacking in the case of
Honduras, but it is also often presented in a
superficial way. Noticeably, for example three of the
articles presented in these major media outlets were
identical, and simply listed Honduras among several
countries including Mexico, Colombia, Pakistan, and
Nigeria as dangerous places for journalists to
work.[22] The others briefly state that UNESCO, Amnesty
International and some Honduran human rights groups are
concerned about the level of violence and abuses of
human rights throughout the country, particularly of
those who oppose the government. Of all of these
articles found, only one CNN report explained in any
detail the prevalence and ferocity of violence that
Hondurans have been facing since the coup of June 2009.

By contrast, the Cuban government was incessantly
vilified for "letting" Zapata die and articles were
particularly emphatic about the government's
restrictions on the Damas de Blanco and the
"repression" of its people. Political and celebrity
figures including President Obama, Gloria and Emilio
Estefan, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Senator John
Kerry have also been widely cited in denouncing the
Cuban government's treatment of its people. By contrast
one sees no celebrities or politicians being cited to
condemn the dozens of assassinations at the hands of
the security forces in Honduras-sadly a case of
selective indignation.

In a strongly worded statement condemning the treatment
received by the Ladies in White, and reflecting on the
suicide of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, President Obama
called for "an end to the repression" in Cuba.  He
added "I remain committed to supporting the simple
desire of the Cuban people to freely determine their
future and to enjoy the rights and freedoms that define
the Americas".[23]  Clearly he was not referring to the
situation the rights and freedoms in Honduras.

Can we imagine what the U.S. government would say, or
do, if within a few months 7 journalists had been
assassinated in Cuba?  Or if dozens of government
opponents had been murdered by the Cuban military
during the same time frame?  A useful comparison of
official United States position on the human rights
abuses in both countries can de derived from statements
made by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on
these issues. She has repeatedly condemned the Cuban
government for the treatment of Zapata and others,
stating "They're letting these hunger strikers die.
They've got 200 political prisoners who are there for
trivial reasons. And so I think that many in the world
are starting to see what we have seen a long time,
which is a very intransigent, entrenched regime that
has stifled opportunity for the Cuban people, and I
hope will begin to change and we're open to changing
with them, but I don't know that will happen before
some more time goes by".[24] By contrast, directly
following the Honduran coup in 2009, she refused to
refer to the political situation as such, nor condemn
the violence and gross and repeated violation of human
rights in that situation.[25] Rather, she later stated
"we believe that President Lobo and his administration
have taken the steps necessary to restore
democracy".[26]  It is lamentable that she has not
been able to lay aside political preference in order to
criticize manifest abuses in Honduras.

On May 3, 2010 ("World Press Freedom Day") Ms. Clinton
issued a noteworthy statement noting that "Wherever
independent media are under threat, accountable
governance and human freedom are undermined".[27]  She
passionately defended journalists risking their lives
to provide "independent information" on government
abuses, and singled out the efforts of Cuban blogger
Yoani Sánchez, an outspoken critic of the Cuban
government, noting that President Obama had also
praised her efforts.  She concluded by noting that the
United States was committed to "defend freedom of
expression and the brave journalists who are persecuted
for exercising it".  One looks in vain, however, for
any reference by leading U.S. government officials to
the Honduran journalists who were assassinated for
doing just that. Apparently their contribution is less
important.  Clearly there is a double standard at play;
sadly, mainstream US media reflect that same double
standard.

On April 29, following the death of Orlando Zapata
Tamayo, the National Lawyers Guild of the United States
issued a statement that was widely ignored by
mainstream media.  In fact there is apparently no
analysis of its significance in any of the leading U.S.
media.  It is unfortunate because it puts in context
the crux of this issue-media treatment of the suicide
of one individual in Cuba after rejecting medical
assistance for weeks, versus an ongoing process of
assassination and brutality in Honduras, a traditional
US ally.  The NLG Executive Director Heidi Boghosian
closes the release in the following way: "The National
Lawyers Guild opposes infractions of human rights
anywhere, but Cuban prison officials acted properly
when Zapata decided to go on a hunger strike.  We urge
the media to turn its attention to real human rights
violations and deadly foreign policies in this country
and elsewhere".[28]  Well said.

NOTES

[1] See Will Weissert's report for AP, "Cuba Frees
Backer of Dissident Group Amid Appeal," May 11, 2010
and Mauricio Vicent, "El gobierno cubano se compromete
con la Iglesia Católica a permitir las marchas de las
Damas de Blanco," El País, May 2, 2010.

[2] The International Republican Institute,
"Democracy's Heroes: Orlando Zapata Tamayo," April 28,
2010.  Found at http://www.iri.org/node/2536. Accessed
May 13, 2010.

[3] Juan O. Tamayo, "Jailed Cuban Activist Orlando
Zapata Tamayo Dies on Hunger Strike," The Miami Herald,
February 23, 2010.

[4] In the March 1, 2010, national nightly news report
on Cuban television she was shown addressing Cuban
medical personnel: "Well, thank you very much. we have
full confidence.  we can see your concern and that
everything that is being done to save him".  See
"Orlando Zapata Tamayo, A Case of Political
Manipulation," Granma Internacional Digital, March 4,
2010.  Found at
www.granma.cu/ingles/2010/marzo/juev4/Orlando-Zapata-
Tamayo.html. Accessed May 13, 2010.  Further evidence
is provided in the article to show the extraordinary
lengths to which Cuban officials went-even having a
kidney ready in case his failed.  His mother is seen
also stating "I was able to see the doctors who were
there before I went in, and there were doctors from
CIMEQ (Center for Medical Surgical Research), the best
doctors, trying to save his life."

[5] One Cuban academic has noted that he was in jail
for "breaching the peace, 'public damage,' resistance
to authority, two charges of fraud, 'public
exhibitionism,' repeated charges of felonious assault,
and being illegally armed".  See Michael Parenti and
Alicia Jrapko, "Cuban Prisoners, Here and There,"
Monthly Review, April 15. 2010.  Found at
http://cuba-l.unm.edu.  See also "Campaña mediática
contra Cuba.  Cronología de los hechos," La Jiribilla,
April 4, 1010.  Found at http://cuba-l.unm.edu.
Accessed April 4, 2010.  A detailed analysis of the
Zapata case can also be found in Salim Lamrani, "The
Suicide of Orlando Zapata Tamayo," March 18, 2010.
Found at http://www.voltairenet.org/article164489.html.
Accessed May 13, 2010.  The French academic makes a
telling point, noting that in France between January 1,
2010 and February 24 a total of 22 suicides in prison,
with 122 in French prisons (2009) and 115 (2008)-
without any apparent  media interest.

[6] Juan O. Tamayo, "Jailed Cuban Activist.".

[7] See the editorial, "Is the Castro-friendly  Cuba
Policy Working?," The Washington Post, February 26,
2010.

[8] See White House Statement on Orlando Zapata Tamayo,
March 24, 2010. Found at
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/statement-
president-human rights-situation-cuba.  Accessed May
13, 2010.  Also see Philip J. Crowley, "Death of Cuban
Dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo," found at
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/02/137180.htm.
Accessed May 13, 2010.

[9] Juan O. Tamayo, "United by Pain, Cuba's Ladies in
White Vow to Keep Marching," Miami Herald, April 24,
2010, and the editorial "Women Who Brave Mobs," Wall
Street Journal, April 27, 2010.

[10] A very different interpretation is given by Cuban
academic Enrique Ubieta: "The Ladies in White are a
movie montage.  The right wing had learned to take
left-wing formulas of expression such as the Mothers of
the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, authentic women
struggling in memory of their children and
grandchildren, tortured and murdered.  In Cuba there
are no tortured or assassinated prisoners.  The people
in prison were judged by courts, following our laws.
So, they take the wives and mothers of people who
worked to subvert the constitutional order [.] they
dress them in white--a color associated with peace and
purity-they hand them some gladioli and take them to a
Catholic church, a perfect scenario for them to be seen
in Europe.  And when they are ready they say "Cameras!
Action!"  And that's where we see CNN, Spanish TV
cameras.  What you are seeing is a film that is a
fiction, while on the street away from the action are
the European and US diplomats-the producers of the
film, who are the ones paying for the show". See
Fernando Arrizado, "Enrique Ubieta: 'Las Damas de
Blanco son un montaje escenográfico,'" Cubadebate,
April 27, 2010.  Found at http:Cuba-l.unm.edu. Accessed
April 28, 2010.  (Translation by authors).

[11] See "Cuba's 'Ladies in White' March Blocked
Again," Washington Post, April 25, 2010 and Will
Weissert´s report for Associated Press of the same day.
Available at http://Cuba-l.unm.edu.  Accessed April 25,
2010.

[12] "Cuba's Brutality," The Miami Herald, March 19,
2010.  The editorial concluded: "Only a concerted
effort by democratic governments-from the left and the
right-can show Raúl and Fidel Castro that their free
ride of terror is coming to an end".

[13] In a recent interview leading Cuban academic
Rafael Hernández quotes the Royal Academy of Spain
dictionary to show that many of the opposition figures
who receive financial support from U.S. government
officials are in fact mercenaries.  The context of U.S.
enmity needs to be considered, since Washington broke
relations with revolutionary Cuba in January 1961, and
has supported a variety of policies designed to bring
about "regime change" in Cuba.  See Mauricio Vicent, "
Mauricio Vicent entrevista a Rafael Hernández, director
de la revista Temas," El País, April  9, 2010.

[14] See "United States Department of State.
Congressional Notification. Program: Western
Hemisphere.  Appropriation Category: Economic Support
Funds.  Project Title: Cuba.  Intended 2010 Obligation:
$20,000,000".  Found at http:cuba-l.unm.edu.  Accessed
April 5, 2010.

[15] "The tragic event of the death of a prisoner as he
was on a hunger strike has resulted in a verbal war by
the media in the United States, Spain and other
countries.  This strong media campaign contributes to
further exacerbating the crisis.  It is a form of media
violence to which the Cuban government responds in its
own way".  See "A Call for Dialogue: Interview with
Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Archbishop of Havana".
Originally published in Palabra Nueva, journal of the
archdiocese of Havana on April 19, 2010, and
subsequently translated and published in Progreso
Weekly, May 4, 2010. Found at
http://progreso-weekly.com/2/index.php?option=
com_content&view=article=1613: a-call-for-dial.
Accessed May 16, 2010.

[16] "Honduras: Human Rights and the Coup d'Etat".
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 2009.
Retrieved 2 May, 2010 from
http://cidh.org/countryrep/Honduras09eng/Chap.1.htm

[17] Canadian Council for International Co-operation,
"Honduras: Democracy Denied.  A Report from the CCIC's
Americas Policy Group with recommendations to the
Government of Canada," Ottawa, April 2010, p. 16.

[18] Council on Hemispheric Affairs, "Washington's
Invented Honduran Democracy," April 22, 2010.  Found at
http://www.coha.org/washingtons-invented-honduran-
democracy.  Accessed on May 12, 2010.  On April 26,
2010 Amnesty International issued a statement:
"Journalists in Honduras are at serious risk.  Six
journalists, all men, have been shot dead in the last
eight weeks, and numerous others have received death
threats.  No one has been held to account and no action
taken to support and protect journalists".  See UA:
94/10, AI Index: AMR 37/006/2010, "Honduras:
Journalists Killed".

[19] See search results for "murdered journalists,
human rights abuses, Honduras". Retrieved 6 May, 2010
from www.miamiherald.com. See search results for
"murdered journalists, human rights abuses, Honduras".
Retrieved 6 May, 2010 from www.washingtonpost.com. See
search results for "murdered journalists, human rights
abuses, Honduras". Retrieved 6 May, 2010 from
www.boston.com. See search results for "murdered
journalists, human rights abuses, Honduras". Retrieved
6 May, 2010 from www.nytimes.com. See search results
for "murdered journalists, human rights abuses,
Honduras". Retrieved 6 May, 2010 from www.cnn.com.

[20] See search results for "Hunger Strike, Cuba".
Retrieved 6 May, 2010 from www.miamiherald.com. See
search results for "Hunger Strike, Cuba". Retrieved 6
May, 2010 from www.washingtonpost.com. See search
results for "Hunger Strike, Cuba". Retrieved 6 May,
2010 from www.boston.com. See search results for
"Hunger Strike, Cuba". Retrieved 6 May, 2010 from
www.nytimes.com. See search results for "Hunger Strike,
Cuba". Retrieved 6 May, 2010 from www.cnn.com.

[21] See search results for "Ladies in White, Cuba".
Retrieved 6 May, 2010 from www.miamiherald.com. See
search results for "Ladies in White, Cuba". Retrieved 6
May, 2010 from www.washingtonpost.com. See search
results for "Ladies in White, Cuba". Retrieved 6 May,
2010 from www.boston.com. See search results for
"Ladies in White, Cuba". Retrieved 6 May, 2010 from
www.nytimes.com. See search results for "Ladies in
White, Cuba". Retrieved 6 May, 2010 from www.cnn.com.

[22] "Media Group: 17 Journalists Killed in April". The
Washington Post. 28 April, 2010. Retrieved 6 May, 2010
from
www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
dyn/content/article/2010/04/28/AR20100428011 76_pdf>

[23] "White House Statement on Orlando Zapata Tamayo
and the Ladies in White," March 24, 2010.  Found at
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/statement-
president-human-rights- situation-cuba. Accessed May
13, 2010.

[24] Clinton, Hillary Rodham. "US State Department -
Secy. Of State Clinton: On Nuclear Nonproliferation".
Remarks on Nuclear Nonproliferation at the University
of Louisville as Part of the McConnell Center's Spring
Lecture Series. 9 April, 2010.  Found at
http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2010/04/13958.htm.
Accessed 15 May, 2010; Weissert, Will. "Castro: Cuba
Will Resist Hunger Strike 'Blackmail'". Associated
Press. 4 April, 2010.

[25] (Sheridan, Mary Beth. "U.S. Condemns Honduras
Coup". The Washington Post. 30 June, 2009. Retrieved 6
May, 2010 from <
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
dyn/content/article/2009/06/29/AR200906290 4239.html>)

[26] Rothschild, Matthew. "Hillary Clinton's Honduran
Disgrace." The Progressive. March 5, 2010. Retrieved 7
May, 2010 from
http://www.progressive.org/WX030510.html)

[27] Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, "World
Press Freedom Day," May 3, 1010.  Document located at
http://cuba-l.unm.edu.  Accessed May 3, 2010.

[28] National Lawyers Guild, "NLG Urges U.S. Media to
Cease Misrepresentation of Cuba's Human Rights Record,"
April 29, 2010.  Found at http:cuba-l.unm.edu.
Accessed April 29, 2010.

*Emily J. Kirk will be an M.A. student in Latin
American Studies at Cambridge University in September.
* John Kirk is a professor of Latin American Studies at
Dalhousie University, Canada. Both are working on a
project on Cuban medical internationalism sponsored by
Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council
of Canada (SSHRC).  Professor Kirk co-wrote with
Michael Erisman the 2009 book "Cuba's Medical
Internationalism: Origins, Evolution and Goals"
(Palgrave Macmillan).  He spent most of February and
March in El Salvador and Guatemala, accompanying the
Henry Reeve Brigade in El Salvador, and working with
the Brigada Medica Cubana in Guatemala.

_____________________________________________

Portside aims to provide material of interest
to people on the left that will help them to
interpret the world and to change it.


Cuba: Fariñas espera propuesta de iglesia para reconsiderar huelga de hambre

Según un comunicado oficial, el presidente Raúl Castro recibió el miércoles a monseñor Ortega y al presidente de la Conferencia Episcopal y arzobispo de Santiago de Cuba, Dionisio García, con quienes mostró disposición "de resolver la situación y el problema" de los presos políticos.
AFP
Publicado: 20/05/2010 16:39
La Habana. El periodista opositor cubano Guillermo Fariñas, en huelga de hambre desde hace 86 días para exigir la liberación de presos políticos, dijo este jueves que espera una propuesta de la Iglesia Católica para reconsiderar su protesta.
"No queremos adelantarnos, estamos esperando que venga la propuesta, cuando venga la propuesta nosotros decidiremos cuál es la conducta a seguir", dijo Fariñas por vía telefónica desde Santa Clara, 280 km al este de La Habana, donde sigue su huelga en un hospital.
Fariñas, un sicólogo y periodista de 48 años de edad, inició su abstención de alimentos y líquidos un día después de la muerte del preso Orlando Zapata, a consecuencias de una huelga de hambre de 85 días.
El opositor reclama la liberación de 26 presos políticos -de un total de 200 según la oposición- en mal estado de salud, pero no descartó reconsiderar su exigencia conforme al resultado de la negociación de la Iglesia.
Fariñas señaló que el martes recibió la visita de dos sacerdotes católicos, emisarios del cardenal Jaime Ortega, quienes le pidieron tener "calma", pues habría conversaciones entre las máximas jerarquías del gobierno y la Iglesia sobre la situación de los presos y que regresarían con una propuesta concreta.
Un comunicado oficial dijo este jueves que el presidente Raúl Castro recibió el miércoles a monseñor Ortega y al presidente de la Conferencia Episcopal y arzobispo de Santiago de Cuba, Dionisio García, con quienes trató "la actual situación nacional e internacional".
Monseñor García reveló este jueves que el tema de los presos políticos fue tratado en la reunión con Raúl Castro, quien -dijo- mostró disposición "de resolver la situación y el problema" de los presos.
Fariñas mostró su acuerdo con la mediación de la Iglesia siempre que sea "imparcial".
Los sacerdotes "han dicho que las autoridades saben que los 26 tienen problemas de salud. Las autoridades están interesadas en que tampoco se les mueran en prisión. Ellos no quieren que se le mueran en prisión, la oposición tampoco quiere que se mueran en prisión", concluyó.