Sep
20
2009
2

Juanes, the difficult terrain of neutrality.

Juanes and Ché, its hard to be apolitical in Havana..

Juanes and Ché, its hard to be apolitical in Havana..


Colombian rock singer Juanes has caused quite a stir in his adopted hometown of Miami for his project of bringing a stellar roster of Latin musicians to a mega concert in Havana. Today, after facing a storm of controversy among exile Cubans for several weeks, the concert, called Peace Without Borders is in full swing in the Plaza de la Revolución with an audience of over a million people.

To people outside the Cuban sphere the controversy surrounding this concert may be hard to comprehend, and I will attempt to shed some light on the subject.
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Aug
20
2009
0

Persepolis remixed

persepolis2
Expat Iranians use images from Marjane Satrapi’s famous graphic novel to recount the recent events surrounding the disputed election.The Iranian government has tried to silence the protesters, who in turn have become more and more creative in their ways of voicing dissent in the face of repression.

Read the resulting comic HERE

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Aug
10
2009
0

Reporters Without Borders ads

Form Reporters Without Borders 2008 report on Cuba:
The handover of power to President Castro’s brother has not seen any improvement in human rights. The form of repression has changed from political trials to daily brutality. Twenty journalists held since the “black spring” crackdown of March 2003 continue to serve sentences of between 14 and 27 years in prison. Three others have been jailed since Raúl Castro took over.Twenty of the 27 journalists arrested in the “black spring” crackdown of March 2003 continue to serve their sentences of between 14 and 27 years in prison.

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Jul
29
2009
0

Update: Yoani Gold Medalist


On checking out Yoani’s blog after writing today’s post, I learned that she has been honored by the prestigious Journalism School of Columbia University with their 2009 Maria Moors Cabot prize for outstanding Reporting on Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Written by IPH in: Cuba News,Freedom of Speech |
Jul
29
2009
0

Yoani Sánchez


I have mentioned Yoani before on this blog, but I haven’t provided much information about her besides linking to her blog posts.

What makes Yoani so admirable and unique is that she is one of the few Cuban bloggers who post from Cuba without hiding her identity. I came across this Wall Street Journal article from 2007 that gives a good indication of what makes Yoani tick.

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Written by IPH in: Cuba News,Freedom of Speech |
Jul
12
2009
0

Culture “only for the people”

thepeople
It is tragicomic how in repressive leftist regimes the words “the people” is used to justify a supposed supremacy of the masses, while in fact being a license for a small privileged caste to repress others. (liberators often find themselves continuing the job of deposed tyrants) Even “the people” will be punished in the name of “the people” if need be.

I’m not talking about the genuine struggles in which workers have attained important rights through protests and other political means throughout the 20th century. In this sense, the use of the term “the people” has a long and honorable tradition of fighting the status quo for a more just society. My problem is with authoritarian leaders who abuse the term to lend validation to ruthless powergrabs and abuse of authority in the name of the people, die volk, or the proletariat.

When Chávez in Venezuela designates new political authorities above the rank of the newly elected mayors from the opposition, this does not, in the jargon of the Bolivarian Revolution, negate the wishes of the electorate. Rather, it is the will of “the people”, because “the people” have elected Chávez to do their bidding. In this case “the people ” can also be a synonym for their leader. Get it? In the Soviet Union, China and Cambodia, atrocities were committed on the people, by the people, in the name of the people. After “God”, “the people” is probably the second most invoked justification for violence and oppression. “Freedom” is a new recent favorite, as seen in Iraq.

In Cuba the Castros has been doing the will of “the people” for 50 years. So well indeed that all the non-people have been forced to flee by throwing themselves to sea in a slow purification process which surely has left “the people” in Cuba in such a state of unanimity that free speech is redundant.

Still, there are troublesome elements such as Yoani Sánchez, the tireless Cuban opposition blogger who obviously relishes being an enemy of “the people”, which is the reason for this post.
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Written by IPH in: Cuba News,Freedom of Speech |
Jul
02
2009
0

Jailed Cuban dissident writer wins Norwegian award

Normando's wife, Yarai and their daughter, Daniela wait for his call from prison.

Normando's wife, Yarai and their daughter, Daniela wait for his call from prison.


Bloomberg reports that Normando Hernandez Gonzalez was awarded the annual Freedom of Expression award by the Norwegian Writer’s Union. Normando, whose name coincidentally means northlander, is in his sixth year of a 25 year sentence. One of the 29 independent journalists jailed during the infamous crackdown of March 2003 known as “Black Spring”, Normando’s crime was having written critical articles about the failures of the national health and education system.

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Jun
28
2009
0

Comic book writer detained at LAX

You might not get thrown in jail by the thought police in the United States for writing suspect material, but it will get you detained for hours by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration)

TSA officials are basically bureaucrats, a species that in all corners of the world harass ordinary people in the name of rules and regulations and the common good. In their unrelenting quest to keep the American flying public safe no granny will remain unfrisked and no comic book writer may carry scripts dealing with terrorism.

The offending evidence...

The offending evidence...

Writer Mark Sable was detained for some hours at L.A. airport in May when a search of his bags turned up a script for his comic series “Unthinkable”. In it, several terrorist plots, including 9/11 is mentioned, which set off alarm bells in the TSA agent motherboards. Ironically, the plot of Unthinkable concerns a writer who when contracted by a government think tank to imagine possible terrorist scenarios, becomes a suspect when several of his imaginary plots are carried out.

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Written by IPH in: Freedom of Speech,comics |
Jun
15
2009
0

#Iranelection

mouse_ahjaminejhad

#iranelection is the tag sweeping the Twitterverse, as the protests following the Iranian elections heat up. It is fascinating that in spite of a wide crackdown on communications prior to and during the election, (mobile services and text messaging shut down, Facebook and Youtube closed down) Twitter has emerged as the principal means of notification on the web, thousands of people like @persiankiwi with more than 8000 followers are reporting live from the streets of Teheran, with running updates and posting pics like this one of the opposition march.

This is citizen journalism on the ground going viral almost instantaneously, outpacing traditional media. The Iranian government is scrambling to shut down websites and ISPs, but users are finding loopholes and keep reporting in 140 characters or less. For a list of Twitter reporters from Iran in English, go here.

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May
26
2009
1

Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Internet?

The International Society for Human Rights has released a creative campaign pointing a finger at those leaders that fear that the openness of the internet is at odds with the closed societies they preside over. I guess this confirms that Raul Castro is the official image of Cuba.

mouse_raulcastro1
The campaign is by Ogilvy & Mather (Frankfurt) and won a bronze Clio this year in New York.

Check out the others here, starring authoritarians Ahmadinejad and Chávez.

For more info on the restriction of internet in Cuba, please see my previous post on the subject.

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