Fidel Castro, Hollywood’s favorite living dictator, and his li’l bro Raul arrested more than 360 political prisoners in the first 13 days of May alone. Perhaps Kings Castro I and II are just trying to balance out the numbers of American tourists and fawning movie producers arriving daily (such as Steven Speilberg, who hates Nazis but will cuddle a less potent version in exchange for favors in Havana).
The glitterati apparently just ignore the thousands of lost and forgotten political prisoners while they gush over Cuban health care. They pay little heed to the little people that seem to terrify the Castro brothers, such as book-wielding librarians, church attendees, artists of all mediums and anyone generally discontent or loudly unhappy.
Dissident and rapper Angel Yunier Remón Arzuaga is one of those languishing in Cuba’s jails. Known in Cuba as “el Critico del Arte” (the “Art Critic”) or just or el Critico, he is half the duo Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso (“The Unwanted Children”), based in the city of Bayamo. Remón Arzuaga was arrested after his unflattering lyrics caught the attention of communist overlords.
“Welcome to Bayamo. … Criticizing has become suicide; I get burned and I don’t ask for help; I will criticize without mercy; I fight and I know the consequences. Bayamo, this is my trench; I don’t look outside, my family is here inside” – “Bayamo” by Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso
“El Critico” was the object of a neighborhood celebration – against him – and thoughtfully organized by the state at his home on March 26, 2013. Responding with verbal defiance brought him tear gas and an arrest, even though he was the one attacked and injured.
After more than a year, Remón Arzuaga has still not been formally charged, yet the regime seeks an eight-year sentence against him.
As a guest of the state, the young father almost died from cholera and a long hunger strike where he demanded his rights. His health deteriorated drastically due to terrible conditions in Cuban prisons, which routinely include torture and beatings.
While he could barely speak, Remón Arzuaga managed to get his message across to his wife Yudisbel Roseyo Mojena that it’s either “freedon or death” for him. He is truly a Cuban version of Patrick Henry with a rapper’s scattered but moving speech.
Roseyo Mojena suffers with him as she cares for their infant alone and pleads her husband’s case to the world. An extraordinary young woman in her own right, she vows to continue “on the streets” in support of his struggle. Defying authorities as a young member of the “Ladies in White,” Roseyo Mojena engages in terrifically subversive things such as walking in a group to mass and celebrating Mother’s Day. In the People’s Paradise of Cuba, people doing such things are just asking for trouble.
Perhaps both the Marx brothers are burgeoning into a little senility in their fears. It’s a bad combination – unchecked monomania and paranoia, with an entire movie industry dedicated to fulfilling their fantasies and shoring up their creds.
Remón Arzuaga is an activist member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, a pro-freedom organization. Freedom is not something Castro et.al. are particularly fond of, and many members have been hounded and imprisoned.
Threatening to suspend the rapper’s right to one weekly phone call, the authorities are infuriated that he dared reveal conditions at the jail through an audio message via the Patriotic Union of Cuba and YouTube.
An eyewitness to abuse, Remón Arzuaga described cruel abuse of prisoners. One tragic victim, Rogelio Ovidio, was beat by his jailers and refused medical assistance after they informed him he could possibly be HIV positive.
Remón Arzuaga found Ovidio’s body last July and described the horrific scene in his secret audio message: “I saw his body.… His head was broken, his right arm was injured and his back was full of bruises. I found him at two in the morning, and he had already hung himself. … I didn’t know he was dead right away because he was being held in a dark cell. I saw his silhouette, and I thought he was just sitting down.”
Cuba’s prisoners die from easily treatable conditions such as cholera and infections from beatings. Remón Arzuaga complained of “horrible food regiments and very poor hygienic conditions” in hospitals more like concentration camps for sick prisoners.
The rapper also exposed mistreatment of friend and fellow dissident Alexander Otero, who was viciously beaten and left with facial paralysis, serious arm injuries and is unable to even speak. Like the prisoners of the Soviet system, Otero and other political prisoners are denied treatment solely because of their opinions. In another shout out to the Gulag, Cuba’s got state prison snitches too, and ‘El Critico’ has been honored to have one all to himself.
Roseyo Mojena was also threatened over publicizing her husband’s prison abuse, and they would really like to shut her up. It’s possible even American movie stars may have limits to how much injustice they can stomach – but the majority haven’t discovered them yet.
The young mother was forced to sit hours in a sun-seared bus, denied communication with her husband, assaulted and their home was even stoned – Neanderthal police tactics.
Roseyo Mojena passionately charged, “They are trying to change his ideas, but they will not succeed because he is firm, now more than ever.”
Tyrants always demand quiet, subservient victims, and they particularly dislike Cuba’s “Women in White,” who are mostly relatives and friends of jailed or murdered dissidents. I suspect it’s because vestigial remnants of conscience remain even in Raul Castro and his allies. How to run a proper police state if they allow a little remorse to dilute their many sins?
From his statement, the dissident rapper urged young Cubans to stand up “in defense of our rights” and to fight for a free and democratic Cuba – frightening words to the Castros and a likely explanation for the astronomical increase in politically motivated arrests at the moment.
According to the Hablemos News agency, there were at least 884 political arrests in April alone. That’s a lot of people for a small nation.
Recent activities of the securitate include May 8 arrests of 18 activists to keep them from laying flowers at the grave of murdered political prisoner Juan Wilfredo Soto. A few days later 90 of the Damas de Blanco, or “Ladies in White,” were arrested for daring to observe Mother’s Day in their accusatory white dresses.
But what possesses American stars and celebrities to adoration of the camouflaged one? The list of Castro proselytes and their pilgrimaging from Los Angeles is sickening.
According to a slew of sources, Jack Nicholson publicly said the following, which I fail to find an adjective for as it surpasses “moronic” in superlatives in English: “Fidel Castro is a genius! We spoke about everything. Castro is a humanist. Cuba is simply a paradise!”
Similarly Oliver Stone lauded Castro as “selfless and moral, one of the world’s wisest men.”
In a sickening amen chorus the following have officially added their celebrity approvals over the years: Robert Redford, Spike Lee, Sidney Pollack, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover, Ed Asner, Shirley MacLaine, Alanis Morissette, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chevy Chase, Jack Nicholson, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Saul Landau and Kevin Costner.
Were they being tortured? Drugged? Terribly misquoted? If not, Joseph McCarthy should raise from the dead just to puke on them all.
Dave Blount in 2010 had an interesting take on the astoundingly vile statements so many of America’s famed and dearest have made. He quotes Cuban intelligence defector Delfin Fernandez on bizarrely inappropriate praise heaped at the feet of such a non-deserving man.
Explaining that he was assigned to “bug” Cuban hotel rooms with audio and video devices, Fernandez revealed “famous Americans” are priorities for Castro’s intelligence. Big surprise there.
“When the celebrity visitors arrived at the Hotels Nacional, Meliá Habana and Meliá Cohiba, we already had their rooms completely bugged with sophisticated taping equipment,” Fernandez claimed. “But not just the rooms, we’d also follow them,” apparently watching for something to leverage.
Wife of the jailed Cuban rapper Roseyo Mojena is reaching out to America’s music industry, asking them to stand by her husband “El Critico,” who was on the brink of death at the time.
“I would be grateful a million times over and thankful … if they could stand with us and ask the Cuban government for his freedom,” Roseyo Mojena pled.
So far Cuban American singers Gloria Estefan and Albita Rodriguez have gone at least to the effort of tweeting support. Cuban born actress/singer Maria Conchita Alonso was busy recently picketing for human rights in front of the White House on behalf of Venezuela, another disaster.
But dissidents are gunning for the big-name rappers such as Jay Z and his wife Beyonce, who the New York Post identified as Cuban partiers with nothing to say in support of one of their own imprisoned musicians.
Meanwhile Stephen Spielberg is apparently still mesmerized by the “eight most important hours of my life” he spent with Castro at dinner. I could safely bet they weren’t spent negotiating the end of political repression in Cuba. More likely a deal for using the Hotel Nacional de Cuba and cheap security for an upcoming film.
Use hashtag #FreeElCritico on Twitter in solidarity of the jailed rapper.