About Aramis

About Aramis

Combines skill sets in communications, media relations, advocacy, and international relations. Fluent in English and Spanish. Experienced in simultaneous English / Spanish and Spanish / English interpretation as well as translation. Excellent French reading comprehension with working proficiency in writing and speaking. Miami-based, his work and projects have also enjoyed Latin American and European settings.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Cuban Resistance at the Heritage Foundation's Blog, The Foundry

Have you seen this video? Four brave Cuban women demonstrating for freedom at Cuba's historic Capitol Building in Havana on August 23, 2011?

The advance of the Cuban Resistance, thanks in part to the courage of women like these, is the biggest story in 2011 Cuba. Thanks to the good people at the Heritage Foundation, I was able to share this news with a broader audience.

Go read my piece on the Capitol protest and what it means for the cause of freedom in Cuba, published August 30, 2011 at The Foundry.

Here's a taste:

These valiant ladies, Sara Martha Fonseca Quevedo, Tania Maldonado Santos, Odalys Caridad Sanabria Rodríguez and Mercedes García Alvarez, wore black, a symbol of mourning for their country and those fallen in pursuit of freedom. They paused about one-third of the way up and unfurled a white banner bearing words of hope and courage: “Freedom, justice, and democracy… DOWN WITH THE DICTATORSHIP.”
There, before crowds of Cubans and foreigners making their way through the broad space before the Capitol where tourists often pause for snapshots of bicycle taxis or old American cars, camcorders and mobile phone cameras captured the sight of four Cuban women publicly demonstrating for freedom.
For at least half an hour they made their stand, borne above the crowds by stones that once buttressed Cuban democracy.
“We all are the Resistance! The streets belong to the people! Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” they chanted, as onlookers watched.
Their actions brought to mind the words of former Czech President and anti-communist resistance fighter Vaclav Havel, who wrote that when a person breaks the rules of a Communist state and does not obey the regime’s demand in silent conformity, he chooses to “live in truth,” an essential step in opposing the crushing power of that system...
Real Cuban voices, belonging to persons who chose to live in truth on that sun-drenched morning, shouted at the regime’s man. “Bully, Abuser! Let them go!” Facing a crowd that had suddenly lost its fear, the regime thug balked, and conferred with three additional plainclothes agents, returning after a time with uniformed male officers who manhandled and dragged the women away amid jeers and whistles of contempt for the oppressors from those witnessing the scene.

Read the rest of  "Cuba’s Pro-Freedom Resistance Movement Is Growing" at The Foundry.

I'll paste the full text below the fold for your convenience as well.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Helping the Cuban Resistance Speak: Interpreting for Dr. Oscar Biscet and National Review

Intrepid journalist and defender of liberty Jay Nordlinger over at National Review has written about one of the best known members of the Cuban Resistance, Nobel Peace Prize candidate Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, throughout his long and unjust imprisonment. He's done a service to his readers and stood with the cause of Cuban freedom once again by publishing a wide-ranging interview with Dr. Biscet shortly after his release.

When the opportunity came for me to help connect Jay to Dr. Biscet by serving as an interpreter, I was thrilled. So, early one morning, I walked into the office of the Cuban Democratic Directorate, and a few phone calls later, spent an hour as a human bridge between a nonviolent freedom fighter's struggle in an island nation under Communist rule since 1959 and the readers of the venerable magazine in whose pages the great American conservative Russell Kirk shored fragments against the ruins and fought to redeem the time.  Jay's one of the writers who's surely continuing to do founder William F. Buckley, Jr. proud.

I'd never spoken to Dr. Biscet before, and encountered a man of profound Christian conviction who speaks in universally understandable terms, determined to achieve freedom for his people, and who earnestly seeks to help men and women of goodwill understand that the totalitarian regime in Cuba must be opposed and brought to an end using firm, nonviolent action. This, he said, would allow the Cuban people to flourish and to enjoy friendly and respectful relationships with the rest of the world community.

Here's the full text of Jay Nordlinger's piece relating his interview of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet:

National Review / Digital           May 2, 2011
Voice of the Resistance
Dr. Óscar Biscet, in Cuba’s prisons for twelve years, speaks

‘I NEED to get to work,” says Dr. Óscar Elías Biscet. Are you familiar with him? He is perhaps the foremost Cuban democracy activist, a symbol of the general resistance to the Castro dictatorship. Has he been neglecting his work? Not exactly. For the past twelve years, essentially, he has been in prison, suffering the things that the regime’s prisoners have always suffered. George W. Bush gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007. The recipient could not accept it in person, of course. But he has now been released from prison. The day, so long hoped for, by so many of us, was March 11. I spoke to him three weeks after.

Biscet was born in 1961 and has a wife, Elsa Morejón Hernández, and two children, Winnie and Yan. The children have been in the United States for several years; Elsa, like her husband, is in Cuba. Biscet obtained his degree in internal medicine in 1985. A few years later, he embarked on human-rights activism. In 1994, he was charged with “dangerousness,” a very common charge. It means that the individual in question will not submit meekly to dictatorial rule. In 1997, Biscet established the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights (“Lawton” being the name of the Havana neighborhood in which he lived). The organization, of course, is banned. In 1998, he spoke out strongly against abortion, particularly late-term abortion: In his work as a doctor, he saw ghastly things. The authorities responded harshly to his protest.

After being detained repeatedly — 26 times — Biscet was arrested in 1999 and thrown in prison for three years. He was released on October 31, 2002, and had 36 days outside of prison. During this time, he worked on his “Democratic Principles for Cuba” and a civic project called “Club for Friends of Human Rights.” He was again arrested on December 6, 2002, and underwent his ordeal until last March 11.'

I found it somewhat amazing to hear his voice, after reading about him and writing about him for many years. His voice was low, grave, and resolute. We spoke by phone, Biscet in Havana, his questioner in New York. Serving as translator between us was Aramis Perez, of the Directorio Democrático Cubano in Miami. Biscet has felt “a kind of ambivalence” in the last few weeks. Those are his words: “a kind of ambivalence.” “I’m happy to be able to return home to my wife, but I’m unhappy to see an entire people still without freedom.” In his view, Cuba as a whole is “the big prison” while El Combinado del Este, where he and so many other dissidents have been confined, is “the little prison.” “We who live under this dictatorship look to the sea and know that the sea is our prison bars.” Biscet also says, “This great, beautiful island of Cuba has been converted by the Castro brothers into their own personal estate.”


Friday, April 1, 2011

I'd Rather Talk about the Resistance, but Everyone Asks about Former President Jimmy Carter

I've written an opinion piece on what former President Jimmy Carter could have said to the international media while in Havana this week. You can read the whole piece on Fox News Latino, or click through from the Opinion section on the main Fox News site.

President Carter could have leveraged the prestige of the office he once occupied, the status enjoyed by his Center, and the international media spotlight he brought with him to Havana to offer Cuba's nonviolent freedom movement a boost that would have registered in the world's newsrooms, among policymakers, and in real world and online forums. But he did not.
I condemn Carter's decision to excuse the regime's cold blooded murders of three citizens and one permanent resident of the United States. Fidel and Raul Castro, with both of whom Carter met (the former an "old friend" according to the onetime US President, and the latter praising Carter as "an honest man") are responsible for those killings, in addition to an unending list of additional murders, acts of torture, unjust imprisonment and other crimes in their bloody lifetimes.

Yes, [Carter] met with some members of civil society and the Cuban Resistance. He reportedly expressed hope for the Cuban people to enjoy freedom of speech, assembly, and travel and for the enforcement of international rights standards.
But then Carter called for the release of five convicted members of the regime's “Wasp” spy network serving sentences in US prison. Ringleader Gerardo Hernandez is serving life for charges including contributing to the murders of Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre, Mario de la Peña, and Pablo Morales in the 1996 shootdown over international waters of civilian aircraft flown by humanitarian group Brothers to the Rescue.
Carter's position was to excuse these heinous crimes.

What should he have done instead? I suggest the following:
...imagine him surprising all concerned by saying something like this:
“I met with a number of representatives of Cuban civil society and the pro-democracy movement today. Among them were Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, a Nobel Peace Prize candidate, and pioneering nonviolent freedom activist; Laura Pollan and other members of the Ladies in White who have marched every Sunday for years for the release of political prisoners; Angel Moya Acosta and other former Amnesty International prisoners of conscience; Yoani Sanchez and Claudia Cadelo, award-winning bloggers, and others who overcome great obstacles to free expression. In Dr. Biscet, I see a man whose work deserves to be recognized by the Nobel Committee. As a former Peace Prize recipient, I support his nomination.
Today, I ask why citizens like these are denied a say in their country's future. I ask why they are portrayed on State television as 'Pawns of the Empire' for exercising basic rights and for using the Internet to connect with fellow citizens and friends abroad.
Cuba has been under one-party rule for 52 years. The Cuban people have been told falsely that my country and the American people wish to do them harm. Cubans know this is not the case, and for those who do not, let me assure you my fellow citizens want to see your country flourish, and for you to enjoy the same liberties and opportunities we do.
The Cuban people deserve a government that respects their freedom, chosen through free and fair elections. I urge world leaders to join me in calling for these elections. I pledge my support, and the Carter Center's, to this enterprise which could mark the beginning of a new chapter in Cuban history written by the Cuban people themselves, free from the fear of oppression.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Free Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina Now!

Nestor (left) and Rolando (right) Rodriguez Lobaina.

Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina, the founder of the Cuban Youth for Democracy Movement, faces a political trial on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 on trumped up charges of disobedience and public disorder. He has been arbitrarily imprisoned since December 9, 2010, the eve of International Human Rights Day, and was adopted as a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International on Friday, March 11, 2011.

I've issued a statement on the International Young Democrat Union's website calling for his immediate release, without condition. Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina has the right to live in his own home as a free man, working for a free country.

The Castro regime continues to criminalize basic liberties and enforce its totalitarian rule with its sprawling State Security apparatus:
Nestor’s trial comes at a time of intense repression against the nonviolent freedom movement in Cuba. This weekend, the Ladies in White, relatives of prisoners of conscience and recipients of the 2005 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, faced repudiation rallies by State-Security organized mobs as they marked the anniversary of the 2003 Black Spring crackdown against democracy activists, independent journalists, and human rights defenders. Last month, as members of the Resistance across the Island organized and demonstrated to mark the anniversary of murdered prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s death, Castro regime security forces cracked down, detaining or placing scores under house arrest and beating many activists in retaliation against their nonviolent actions.
Nestor's brother, Rolando, is also under threat:
Another alarming development is the recent arrest and threatening of Nestor’s brother, Rolando, with imprisonment. Rolando, himself a leading nonviolent freedom activist and the coordinator of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, has denounced a threat by the regime to charge him with espionage at a time when it is engaging in a public campaign to smear members of Cuban civil society and human rights defenders as agents of foreign powers.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Cuban Resistance Needs You

I'm co-hosting a TV benefit on Sunday, March 13 for the Cuban Resistance: the brave men and women who are on the front lines of the nonviolent struggle for freedom in Cuba. It will air at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Miami's Channel 41. It will also stream on http://www.americateve.com. Confirm you'll be watching by sending in your RSVP to this Facebook event:Sintonice "Todos Somos Resistencia" - Watch "We All Are the Resistance."

You will be able to help them by calling 1-855-YO-APOYO (1-855-962-7696) and making a donation. No matter how modest it may seem, it will mean the world to the members of the freedom movement. Please watch with your family. Give what you can.

Growing up, Cuba was always the main topic of conversation in my household and at family gatherings. I'm sure it's been much the same for you and for so many others since 1959, across the generations.

As much as I loved hearing my parents' and grandparents' stories, they always left me uneasy. Since Cuba wasn't free, I wondered, what were we going to do about it?

This is the answer in which I believe: Join the Resistance. Defeat Communism. Struggle together with Cubans on the Island to rescue our families, hometowns, and ancestral dwelling places from totalitarianism. Defend the crown of Our Lady of Charity, Queen of Cuba, against the faithless usurpers, for the greater glory of God.

Whether in Cuba or abroad, when we defend the Cuban people against tyranny, we are the Resistance. Right alongside the Ladies in White as they worship God at Holy Mass and march down the streets of Havana, Camagüey, Banes, and other cities to defend their loved ones and demand their freedom. With Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, who just spent his first night at home after years of unjust imprisonment. With the bloggers and Twitter users reaching out from their isolation. With the National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front as they organized demonstrations across the country in memory of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a prisoner of conscience murdered by the Communists when he was most vulnerable. With the unknown number held in bondage by the totalitarians for living peacefully as free men who want a free country. 

We all are the Resistance. Todos Somos Resistencia.

Please watch "Todos Somos Resistencia" this Sunday night. Pay special attention to the images of Sara Martha Fonseca in Havana; Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, usually known as "Antunez" in Placetas; Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina in Baracoa. Your contribution will aid people like them. Together, thanks to their struggle and ours, we will one day be able to embrace and break bread as a single Cuban family in a free Cuba.

The first few minutes, helping to establish the urgency of the Resistance's task, and showing us our first glimpses of these valiant patriots and their work:

The Ladies in White in Cuba and our solidarity with them in Miami:

Singer/songwriter Donato Poveda's heartfelt tribute to "Los Plantados," free Cuban stalwarts who endured, and today still endure, political imprisonment:

An interview with beloved musician Willy Chirino, a star whose name lights up international marquees, but who still thinks of himself first as a guajiro, a country boy from Pinar del Rio:

A video essay that speaks for those of us who had to leave, or who have never known Cuba but still love her and want to see her free:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Murdered Cuban Prisoner of Conscience

Orlando Zapata Tamayo died on February 23, 2010. He was murdered by the Communist regime in Cuba, and those who caused his death enjoy impunity.

I never met Orlando Zapata Tamayo, but I know a few things about him.

He had extraordinary courage, the kind it takes to stand up for freedom in totalitarian Cuba. As a result of his work, he became a prisoner of conscience in 2003.

The second thing is that he had an unshakeable sense of human dignity. His own dignity was gravely imperilled by the regime during his imprisonment. He faced beatings, torture, murder attempts, and every form of mistreatment. However, the regime was never able to strip him of his dignity. Zapata fought to preserve it with everything he had.

I also know that Zapata's dream of freedom for Cuba is shared not only by Cubans, who have been fighting for it since 1959, but by men and women of goodwill around the world. I will not forget the kind of solidarity and prayers he inspired. Thank you.

On February 22, 2010, Zapata was a man whose life we were trying to save. On February 23, 2010, he became a man whose dream we were fighting to achieve.

We will achieve it.

+++ In your charity, please pray for the repose of Orlando Zapata Tamayo's soul, for his family, for the people of Cuba, and for God's love to triumph over hatred and injustice:

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cuba Top Tweet!- IYDU Freedom Campaign Special Report

I'm the Top Tweet under "Cuba" or "#Cuba" on Twitter!

New followers are always appreciated. I do my best to make sure my updates are worth your interest.

The piece that sparked all the interest was my Special Report for IYDU's Cuba Freedom Campaign, which I posted about here.

IYDU Cuba Freedom Campaign Special Report

I've written a special report for the International Young Democrat Union's Cuba Freedom Campaign.

It's a quick overview of the momentous events surrounding the pro-freedom Cuban Resistance and political prisoners in 2010, including the murder of hunger striking prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo and the banishment of scores of unjustly imprisoned freedom activists to Spain, intended to brief my IYDU colleagues, who represent youth political organizations around the world. I'm currently serving as a Vice-Chairman of this great group.

Here are a couple of points:

In 2010, despite a constitution and legal system that ensures the systematic violation of the Cuban people’s basic rights; a pervasive and repressive state apparatus that employs surveillance, torture, and violence against freedom activists; and a notorious record of political imprisonment and harsh treatment spanning half a century, Cuba’s civic resistance movement is having a greater impact on the Island and abroad than ever before...
Strong and consistent nonviolent activism on the Island, coupled with international pressure and solidarity with the Cuban resistance, has forced the regime to embark on a face-saving strategy of sending political prisoners into exile in Spain and elsewhere, while claiming that it is generously liberating them, without ever committing itself to systematic reforms on human rights or democracy...
The Cuban resistance will continue its struggle for freedom, even though the risk of political imprisonment will remain as long as these unjust laws, the repressive machinery that enforces them, and the political actors who maintain totalitarian rule in Cuba persist.

Read "Cuba's Political Prisoners and the Struggle for Liberty" on IYDU's website.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Interpreting for Bertha Antunez before House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Relations

Yesterday, I had the distinct honor of serving as an interpreter for Bertha Antunez, a real heroine of the Cuban Resistance, during her testimony before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs

Bertha is being greeted by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, in this photo:

You can watch archived video of the Committee hearing here, and a full transcript is available here.

Bertha contributed her perspective as a longtime veteran of the nonviolent freedom movement on the Island, as well as thoughts from and about her brother, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, usually known as Antunez. Antunez is one of the leading activists in the Cuban Resistance, and a former political prisoner to the tune of 17 years and 38 days of unjust incarceration. Here's a good article about Antunez written shortly after his release in 2007, which includes an interview with the man himself.

The hearing, "Is it Time to Lift the Ban on Travel to Cuba?" took place on Thursday, November 19, 2009.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Harper Perennial Edition of "In the First Circle" Joins My Solzhenitsyn Shelf

My pre-ordered copy of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's novel In the First Circle just arrived today! 

The inadequately translated, self-censored version Solzhenitsyn tried to sneak past the Soviet censors is one of the greatest pieces of literature I've ever read... so I can't wait to read this definitive English-language edition!

It's published by Harper Perennial, which has the following to say:

A major literary event 50 years in the making:In the First Circle is the first complete English translation of Nobel Prize–winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “best novel” (Washington Post). With an introduction by Edward Erickson, this work by the author of The Gulag Archipelago is the story of a brilliant mathematician who finds himself locked in a Moscow prison filled with the country’s brightest minds and must decide whether to aid Stalin’s repressive state.
Book Description

The thrilling cold war masterwork by the Nobel prize winner, published in full for the first time
Moscow, Christmas Eve, 1949.The Soviet secret police intercept a call made to the American embassy by a Russian diplomat who promises to deliver secrets about the nascent Soviet Atomic Bomb program. On that same day, a brilliant mathematician is locked away inside a Moscow prison that houses the country's brightest minds. He and his fellow prisoners are charged with using their abilities to sleuth out the caller's identity, and they must choose whether to aid Joseph Stalin's repressive state—or refuse and accept transfer to the Siberian Gulag camps . . . and almost certain death.
First written between 1955 and 1958, In the First Circle is Solzhenitsyn's fiction masterpiece. In order to pass through Soviet censors, many essential scenes—including nine full chapters—were cut or altered before it was published in a hastily translated English edition in 1968. Now with the help of the author's most trusted translator, Harry T. Willetts, here for the first time is the complete, definitive English edition of Solzhenitsyn's powerful and magnificent classic.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Follow Aramis on Twitter

Follow me on Twitter: @AramisLPerez

Here's my first tweet:
Exploring the TwitterVerse. Who do you follow and why?