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Posted July 20, 2003 by publisher in Cuban History

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Center for a Free Cuba

Cuban singer Celia Cruz’s remains arrived in Miami, where her fans will pay their respects. She wished to have her wake held in Miami surrounded by free Cubans. “Her success in the years following her departure from her beloved Cuba are a tribute of her perseverance, compassion and love for life,” said President George W. Bush. In Havana, her relatives held a memorial service in the house where she lived from 1954 – 1960. ( El Nuevo Herald, EFE, Havana, July 18)

“While the news of Celia Cruz’s death received considerable attention throughout the world, the news of her demise was reported in a short and bitter note by Cuba’s official daily, Granma, which published two small paragraphs at the bottom of page six of its eight-page edition.” (AP, Havana, July 17)

Cuba interferes with US-based television programs broadcast by satellite to Iran, announced the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a federal agency that is responsible for non-military US broadcasts. The jamming was first detected on July 6th. “The act is illegal; a serious threat to satellite communications and it needs to be stopped,” said BBG President Kenneth J. Tomilson. (BBG, Washington, July 15)

The US Coast Guard detained 15 Cubans that fled in a ferryboat from Cuba. Havana accused them of “hijacking the boat.” Cuban-American members of Congress warned about the “possibility of execution” if they are returned. (Reuters, July 18)

Three men were killed and a 10-year-old boy critically injured in the port of La Coloma, when they tried to seize a boat to flee the island. Authorities said the shootings occurred without the intervention of surrounding forces. (EFE, Havana, July 18)

Six members of Congress (including Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) asked US Attorney General John Ashcroft what actions the Justice Department is conducting regarding the murder of US citizens in international airspace by Castro’s MIG-29 fighter jets in 1996. ( Press Release and Letter to Attorney General Ashcroft, July 11, 2003)

“Support from nations, churches and human rights organizations around the world is vital to our success,” said dissident Oswaldo Pay in an article on the Varela Project, where he denounces repression in Cuba. ( Los Angeles Times, July 15)

“Cuba is the country with the highest number of prisoners of conscience in the world,” said activist Elizardo Sanchez in Havana. The number “increased spectacularly” to 336 people condemned for “political or socio-political motives” at the end of March 2003. (El Pais, Madrid, AP, July 15)

According to Havana, “Cuba remains among the aggressive policy priorities of the US. Otto Reich says the Cuban government will soon fall and Jose Maria Aznar (Spain’s president) and Vaclav Havel (former Czech president) are lackeys and spokespersons of such policies.” (JR, Havana, July 15)

At the 14th of July Bastille Day celebrations held at the French Embassy in Havana, “Fidel Castro’s revolutionary government chose to sing La Marsellaise without the presence of French diplomats.” No Cuban officials attended because dissidents were invited. (El Mundo, Madrid, July 15)

The first US ship to dock in a Cuban port in the last 40 years transported a shipment of 600 tons of lumber and 1,614 tons of newsprint. Sales to Cuba have totaled $480 million since December 2001. (El Mundo, Madrid, July 17)

On Monday, foreign ministers representing the 25 member-nations of the European Union (EU) are expected to approve a modification of the EU’s “Common Position on Cuba,” asking the regime to “change its attitude” and to start a process of “economic reforms.” (El Mundo, Madrid, July 17)

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