Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Committee for Democracy in Cuba

Committee for Democracy in Cuba del

Monday, January 28, 2008 3:56 PM
Subject: ICDC News

Dear Mr. Estefanía

Please find attached the news from Cuba and from the activities of the
International Committee for Democracy in Cuba (ICDC) from the months of
November through December 2007.

The ICDC has completed the overview of its 2007 activities. The bulletin
is giving a summary of the main events and actions taken by the ICDC
over the last year. It is available online in English and Spanish at the
ICDC website.

Also if you are interested in the new issue of Cuba-Europe Dialogues,
a quarterly bulletin issued by People in Need in cooperation with
European Cuba Network, visit

Please feel free to contact us with questions or suggestions to the
reports or activities.

Best regards

Lucie Nečasová

People in Need, Czech Republic

Human Rights and Democracy

ICDC Secretary

Tel: +420 226 200 462

Cell: +420 777 607 247



News from the International Committee for Democracy in Cuba

November through December 2007

News from Cuba

Hector Palacio Ruiz Allowed to Go to Spain for Medical Treatment

On October 25th Hector Palacio was allowed to leave Cuba for Spain for
urgently needed medical treatment. Hector Palacio's was arrested and
sentenced to 25 years in prison as one of the 75 dissidents imprisoned
during the crackdown in the spring of 2003. He had been hospitalized
from much of the last few years as his health deteriorated. His wife,
Gisela Delgado, the director of Cuba's Independent Library Project, was
allowed to accompany him.

Cubans Deliver Petition Calling for Monetary Reforms

On Wednesday, November 21st, a group of dissident women handed in a
petition signed by 10,738 people on Wednesday demanding an end to Cuba's
dual currency system which they said caused poverty and inequality. The
petition's signatures were gathered by members of the Latin American
Federation of Rural Women (FLAMUR) and delivered to Cuba's National
Assembly, which is required by the Cuban Constitution of 1976 to address
any petitions signed by more than 10,000 citizens. The campaign draws
upon the strategy used by the Varela Project, which in 2003 delivered a
petition with even more signatures calling for democratic reforms to be
made. The government rejected the Varela's projects petition outright,
but could handle this petition differently. Cubans are paid in pesos,
but have to use convertible pesos (CUC), which are 24 times more
valuable, to buy a wide range of consumer goods. It is still unclear
how the government will respond to this latest grassroots challenge.

Opposition Holds International Human Rights Day Events in Spite of Pressure

The Ladies in White and other prominent oppositions groups held
demonstrations in Cuba to mark International Human Rights Day on
December 10th and to increase pressure for the government to release
political prisoners and to make democratic reforms. The Cuban
government had increased its pressure on known opposition leaders in
hopes of preventing them from carrying out these planned protests.
Organizers and potential participants were harassed, detained and jailed
across the island in late November and early December. The opposition
held their demonstrations as planned, though they were reportedly
severely out numbered by counter- demonstrators paid for by the government.

Several Foreigners Deported For Joining Ladies in White in Silent
Protest March

Eight Spanish women were detained and deported on Monday December 10th
after participating in a Ladies in White demonstration calling for the
release of all prisoners of conscience in Cuba. The group of women, who
were members of the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia party, had
traveled to Cuba on tourist visas, and were seen by authorities carrying
banners that said "democracy" and "freedom." The Cuban government
stated simply that tourists have no business meddling in Cuba's internal
affairs and has in the past deported numerous foreigners who support
local dissidents.

Cuban Government Promises to Sign UN Rights Pacts

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque claimed that Cuba would soon
sign onto the U.N.'s International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights. The documents were approved by the U.N. General Assembly in
1976, but have remained unsigned by the Cuban government. In addition,
the Foreign Minister stated that Cuba would open its doors in 2009 to
scrutiny by the newly created U.N. Human Rights Council; even though the
former U.N. Human Rights Commission's special rapporteur's requests to
visit the island in the past were refused. Both claims surprised many
international observers, but were welcomed.

Activists Call for Independent Colleges in Cuba
A group of Cuban students and young professionals said Tuesday, November
27th it has collected 5,000 signatures petitioning the government to
allow universities that would operate independently of the state while
encouraging freedom of speech. Supporters of the University Students
without Borders Project want Cuba's communist government to permit
autonomous colleges and also reopen Havana's Catholic University of
Santo Tomas de Villanueva, which the Castro government shuttered in
1961. This latest petition drive was started only in August and hopes
to get the 10,000 signatures required to deliver it to Cuban lawmakers.
For now, organizers are afraid to submit the petition, since it
jeopardizes the status of thousands of students and various faculty
members who have signed, but are currently either studying or working at
one of Cuba's universities. The government has responded by arresting
two youth leaders from the Cuban university autonomy movement, Eliécer
Consuegra Rivas and Gerardo Sánchez Ortega on November 29.

News from the ICDC

2007 Overview of ICDC Activities Available

The ICDC has completed the overview of its 2007 activities. The
bulletin offers a foreword by Vaclav Havel, and articles by Madeline
Albright, Miriam Leiva and others, while giving a summary of the main
events and actions taken by the ICDC over the last year. It is
available online in English and Spanish at the ICDC website.

The Latest Issue of Cuba – Europe Dialogues

The latest issue of the bulletin Cuba – Europe Dialogues has been
completed and is available on line at

The current issue
focuses on trade, tourism and investment between Cuba and the European
Union. Feature length articles by Oscar Epinosa Chepe, Maria Werlau and
Pavel Res, amongst others, dissect the historical economic relationships
between Cuba and Europe by looking at how globalization and tourism are
transforming the island currently. There are also articles highlighting
the work being done by the European NGO network members, People in Peril
and Pax Christi, in Cuba over the last year. It is also available in
English and Spanish.

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