Departamento de Estado pospone evento sobre Cuba tras protesta de Marco Rubio
POR NORA GÁMEZ TORRES

ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

17 de mayo de 2018 03:43 PM

El evento "Cuba bajo Díaz-Canel", a celebrarse este viernes, ha quedado pospuesto, en otro episodio de los desajustes entre la Casa Blanca y el Departamento de Estado en relación a la política hacia Cuba.

El evento, organizado por el Buró de Inteligencia e Investigación [INR, por sus siglas en inglés] del Departamento de Estado, contaba como presentadores a expertos que han apoyado la política de acercamiento a Cuba diseñada por el gobierno del ex presidente Barack Obama, según señalaron activistas anticastristas.

"Es muy extraño, lo que ha sucedido con este evento, que se realiza cada dos o tres años y siempre me han invitado", dijo Carlos Saladrigas, presidente del Cuba Study Group, uno de los oradores del evento que iba a celebrarse el viernes. "De pronto recibo un email que se había pospuesto, pero sin fecha definida".

"Llamamos a la Casa Blanca y ellos actuaron rápidamente sobre el evento del viernes, que ha quedado pospuesto desde entonces", dijo un miembro de la oficina del senador por la Florida Marco Rubio, quien intervino al considerar que el panel no incluía a ningún experto que representara la agenda del presidente Donald Trump en relación a Cuba.

"El evento en cuestión ha sido pospuesto", confirmó un funcionario del Departamento de Estado en un comunicado. Aunque este no menciona los motivos de esa decisión, agrega que "intentaremos reprogramarlo en una fecha posterior con una amplia sección transversal de puntos de vista externos".

La Casa Blanca no comentó sobre el incidente.

El presidente Donald Trump prometió revertir la política de la admistración de Obama y a nivel discursivo ha sido más enérgico al dununciar violaciones de los derechos humanos en la isla y referirse al gobierno de ese país como una "tiranía". El senador republicano Rubio también tuvo un papel importante en el diseño de nuevas sanciones impuestas a compañías cubanas militares, con las que está prohibido hacer negocios.

El senador de la Florida Marco Rubio quiere más sanciones a empresas militares de Cuba y un voto en la OEA desconociendo al nuevo gobierno que debe nombrarse esta semana en La Habana. Nora Gámez Torres

Desde que Trump firmó una nueva directiva presidencial sobre Cuba en junio, activistas y políticos que apoyan una postura más fuerte con respecto a Cuba, se han sentido frustrados con la actuación de algunos funcionarios de carrera del Departamento de Estado a quienes acusan de seguir apoyando la anterior política de engagement. Rubio, por ejemplo, ha dicho que la lista de empresas militares cubanas bajo sanciones, confeccionada por el Departamento de Estado, es muy limitada y debe ampliarse.

"Parece que algunas personas protestaron, yo también lo hice, porque el panel era de un solo lado y que no había nadie que dijera lo que creemos nosotros es la verdad de Cuba", comentó Frank Calzón, director del Centro para una Cuba Libre. "Pudieron invitar a otras personas que piensan diferente, en vez de eso, el evento iba a ser un ejercicio de propaganda", agregó Calzón, quien cuestionó, además, la ausencia de congresistas cubanoamericanos en el panel.

Además de Saladrigas, en el evento iban a participar Marguerite Jimenez, de la Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), William LeoGrande, profesor de American University y Philip Peters del Cuba Research Center. WOLA apoya la eliminación del embargo y el acercamiento a Cuba, mientras que el Cuba Study Group fue una pieza clave en el diseño de la política hacia Cuba de la administración de Obama. LeoGrande y Peters forman parte del Consejo de asesores de Engage Cuba. Peters también fundó una consultoría (D17 Strategies) para asesorar sobre viajes, inversiones e intercambios con Cuba.

El evento, solo por invitación, estaba dirigido a empleados y contratistas del gobierno, y las opiniones vertidas allí no debían ser reproducidas en público, según indica un correo enviado a los invitados al que tuvo acceso el Nuevo Herald..

"El panel en el que tenía previsto hablar estaba completamente enfocado en la situación política interna en Cuba a la luz de la transición de liderazgo, no sobre las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y Cuba o la política del presidente Trump", escribió LoeGrande en un correo.

 

The Milton Friedman Prize
FOR ADVANCING LIBERTY

Las Damas de Blanco • Winner of the 2018 Milton Friedman Prize

The Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) have a simple message: The political prisoners of Cuba are our sons, our brothers, and our husbands. They must not be forgotten.

Every Sunday, the Ladies in White gather, or attempt to gather, for Mass at Saint Rita de Casia Church in Havana, followed by a procession down Fifth Avenue. They wear white to symbolize the peaceful nature of their protest, and each wears a photograph of a loved one who is in prison. For this the authorities have constantly harassed them and organized mob violence against them.

The movement began on March 18, 2003, when journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez was arrested in his home in Havana and sentenced to 20 years in prison for criticizing the regime of Fidel Castro. His case drew worldwide attention, with Amnesty International calling him a prisoner of conscience and demanding his release. Around 75 others were arrested at the same time, in an incident that has been called the Black Spring. All have since left prison, though not unconditionally, with the majority having had to leave Cuba. Since that time, sporadic arrests of journalists, lawyers, and other intellectuals have continued in Cuba, belying the myth that with normalized relations, Cuba’s human rights record would improve. If anything, it has deteriorated.

Two weeks after Maseda was arrested, his wife Laura Pollán Toledo brought together a group of wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters of the imprisoned to pray for their loved ones. They have continued to gather each Sunday, and the movement has since spread to other churches throughout Cuba. Although they are not a political party and do not have an overtly political program, they seek freedom of expression for all and the release of prisoners of conscience in Cuba. In recognition of their courage, the Ladies in White were the 2005 recipients of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, awarded by the European Parliament. The Cuban government prohibited them from attending the award ceremony in Strasbourg, France.

In 2015 Berta Soler, one of the leaders of the group, told the U.S. Senate, “Our aspirations are legitimate…. Our demands are quite concrete: freedom for political prisoners, recognition of civil society, the elimination of all criminal dispositions that penalize freedom of expression and association and the right of the Cuban people to choose their future through free, multiparty elections. We believe these demands are just and valid. Even more importantly, for us they represent the most concrete exercise of politics, a step in the direction of democratic coexistence. Cuba will change when the laws that enable and protect the criminal behavior of the forces of repression and corrupt elements that sustain the regime change.”

As the first step, the Ladies in White demand the release of all political prisoners. The outlook for many of the prisoners is grim; prison conditions are deplorable, visits are rare, and even their mail is intercepted by the authorities. And the Ladies themselves have faced increasing police harassment and arrest in recent years, as the Cuban government tries to hide-but not correct-its habit of quashing dissent. Laura Pollán died in 2011 under gravely suspicious circumstances. But the movement she founded continues: The Ladies in White will meet, pray, and bear witness every Sunday until Cuba’s political prisoners are freed. 

The Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty, named in honor of perhaps the greatest champion of liberty in the 20th century, is presented every other year to an individual who has made a significant contribution to advance human freedom. Save the date for the 2018 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty Biennial Dinner on May 17, 2018 at Cipriani 42nd Street, New York.

The late Nobel laureate Milton Friedman agreed in 2001 to lend his name to the prize, which has become the leading international award for acknowledging contributions to the promotion of individual liberty. In a statement at the time he said: “Those of us who were fortunate enough to live and be raised in a reasonably free society tend to underestimate the importance of freedom. We tend to take it for granted. It has made us in the West more complacent, so having a prize emphasizing liberty is extremely important.” Dr. Friedman died in 2006.


Judge Sérgio Moro • Keynote Speaker at the 2018 Dinner

Judge Sérgio Moro has become a household name in his country thanks to Operation Car Wash, the massive scandal in which he has sent some of Brazil’s most powerful politicians and business elite to jail for corruption. As Brazilians have marched in the streets, calling for the impeachment or prosecution of sitting or former president, they have worn masks of Moro’s face and carried banners emblazoned with his name. Operation Car Wash began in 2014, originally as an investigation into a small car wash that served as a money laundering facility. It ended up uncovering a bribe that had been accepted by a top executive at the government-controlled oil company Petrobas—and from there, investigators began toppling a massive network of corruption involving hundreds of people, including politicians from the ruling and opposition parties, and billions of dollars in bribes, often using public funds. Moro, who has presided over some of the biggest cases in the scandal, is credited with changing the way corruption cases are tried in Brazil, refusing to offer the wealthy and politically connected special treatment and declaring that, “No matter how important you are, no one is above the law.”


International Selection Committee for the 2018 Prize:

Leszek Balcerowicz
Former Deputy Prime Minister
and Finance Minister
Poland

Janice Rogers Brown
Former Judge
U.S. Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit

Vicente Fox
Former President
Mexico

Sloane Frost
Chairwoman
Board of Directors
Students for Liberty

Peter N. Goettler
President and CEO
Cato Institute

Herman Mashaba
Executive Mayor
Johannesburg

Harvey Silverglate
Co-founder, Foundation
for Individual Rights
in Education

Donald G. Smith
President
Donald Smith & Company Inc.

Linda Whetstone
Chair
Atlas Network