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HAPPY AT 90 MILES » Human Rights
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
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
25
2009
0

Cuban rafters intercepted at El Malecon

balseros

This happened some weeks ago, seven people had launched a raft of wood and styrofoam to sea in a bid to reach the U.S. Without means of propulsion the vessel was caught by a current that ended up depositing them in front of the busy Malecón, the promenade that runs the length of the bay of Havana.

The coastguard and police showed up promptly, and after two hours of negotiations the raft was hauled away by the coastguard boat, forcing the failed defectors to swim to shore where the authorities were waiting. Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported the incident, and although the article is in Spanish only, there’s an interesting video showing the outcome of the incident, the worried migrants herded by uniformed men into police cars and driven away.
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Written by IPH in: Cuba News,Human Rights,migration |
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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Jun
11
2009
2

Cuban slave labor

I haven’t had much time for posting while away, but the plan is to get going with actual pages next week, so keep an eye out for that. Meanwhile, on the subject of trafficking, I’d like to make people aware that the Cuban regime practices institutionalized trafficking of its citizens abroad, using their labor as a currency of sorts as if they were property of the state. (Which they are for all intents and purposes)
free_cubadoctors
The example I was familiar with was the “Barrio Adentro” program of sending Cuban doctors to Venezuela to assist in community clinics in the slums. A noble and laudable mission, right?

Around 20,000 medical professionals (not necessarily doctors) have been sent to Venezuela. They are housed in decrepit hotels or shared houses under close vigilance by their minders. They are bussed to work each morning, seven days a week and then straight back to their residence with a 6pm curfew. Contact with Venezuelans outside their work is prohibited. The conditions under which they work has become known as hundreds have managed to escape their keepers (often with the help of Venezuelans) and defect to either neighboring Colombia or going into hiding in Venezuela to reach the U.S. later.
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Written by IPH in: Cuba News,Human Rights |
May
24
2009
0

The rhetoric of prison countries

cuba_bars
image credit: International Society For Human Rights

The necessity of imprisoning one’s people because they are liable to emigrate en masse if given half a chance is nothing but a sad admittance of failure. All societies exercise some level of coercion over their citizens in order to ensure order, but the ultimate proof of tyranny is a closed border. It is a capitulation of faith, replaced by a grim certitude that people must be prevented from voting with their feet.

I came across a piece of East German propaganda that attacks the motivations of those who would want to leave the “worker’s paradise”. It is called “He Who Leaves the German Democratic Republic Joins the Warmongers”. This pamphlet was distributed in 1955. It is sad that so many years later Cubans still suffer under similarly tired slogans and laws.

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May
18
2009
1

Internet in Cuba

Less than 2% of the population in Cuba has access to the internet.

Reporters Without Borders online protest against Internet Censorship

Reporters Without Borders online protest against Internet Censorship

There are real obstacles presented by economic limitations of the potential users and the U.S.embargo (lack of access to fiber optic cables limiting bandwith, although telecommunications technology is not part of the embargo). However, the fact remains that the Cuban government extends its severe censorship to the world wide web, undobtedly fearing its inherent openness.

Go to any bookstore in Cuba and check out the selection: The life of Che, Che’s diaries, Memories of Che, Fidel’s best speeches, The Open Veins of Latin America by Galeano and some works by Chomsky. There are other titles, conspicuously apolitical, but that about sums it up. Now imagine applying that kind of filtering to the internet. It’s hard, but the regime has managed through a couple of ways. Communications Minister Ramiro Valdes recently called the internet “A wild Colt (horse) that can and must be controlled.”

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May
12
2009
0

Games for change


There’s a burgeoning movement that entails the intersection of video games and documentary, especially in light of human rights. The portal Games For Change showcases a series of games with social issues such as human rights abuses, Poverty and global conflict.

A good example of a simple yet effective flash game is Against All Odds, created by UNHCR where you have your avatar go through the refugee’s experience of persecution, imprisonment and torture, and eventually escape. No specific country is mentioned, but it could be Zaire, Bosnia or Cuba, anywhere Human Rights are abused.

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Written by IPH in: Human Rights,Video Games |
May
04
2009
0

HIV and AIDS education through comics

In another look on the intersection of Human Rights issues and Comics, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has comissioned a comic book for its operations in Africa that aims to educate children and young people on the facts and human rights issues surrounding HIV and AIDS.

Unlike most comics made for institutions this one sports compelling illustrations and typography. It seems well produced, with versions in English, French and Arabic. Hopefully the booklet will be able to make a difference in the refugee camps with this difficult yet inescapable subject.

Click on the images to see PDF versions of the books.

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Written by IPH in: Human Rights,comics |
Apr
29
2009
0

Che comix

As a follow up to yesterday’s longish post on Mr. Guevara, here’s a quick look at his recent appearance in comics.

che_spain1

cheattack

Underground comics artist Spain Rodriguez has been comissioned by a British publisher Verso Books to do a biography on Che. The result is unapolagetically adoring by Rodriguez’ own admission. I’m not a fan of his awkward figures nor of his politics, but I haven’t read the book so I won’t comment further.
Here’s a REVIEW from Latin Culture Mag REMEZCLA. This negative review aside, I wouldn’t be surprised if this book becomes canon for many readers. With their visual impact and power of images fused with words, comics can be terribly persuasive when carrying a message, as talked about in this post and in a future post on a little book called “The Cuban Revolution for Beginners”

Out also is “Che, A Graphic Biography” from Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón, confusingly sporting the same title as Rodriguez’ book. Will there be a war of the Ches? The art looks good, but there’s not much info out on this book, except this publicity piece:

The creators have previously done a graphic version of the 9/11 report which sounds like great bedside reading.

So, is there room for a Graphic Novel with a less positive view of Saint Che and the Cuban Revolution? I think there’s not only room, it’s probably overdue.

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