Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban has purchased the domain name Democracy.com “so it wouldn’t be used by someone with a political agenda,” he tells Yahoo Finance. Cuban said he acquired the domain name “to make sure someone didn’t do something crazy with it.”
The New York Times reported that Cuban purchased Democracy.com after receiving an email from entrepreneur Talmage Cooley, the site’s previous owner, who had used it as “a start-up social platform where politicians and civic groups could connect with supporters.” Cooley told The Times that he emailed Cuban about the auction and the billionaire investor made an offer a few minutes later.
“I just made it super succinct and talked about the importance of this name being used for good,” Cooley said. “I’m glad that somebody in the US bought it, as opposed to a Russian counter-democracy organization.”
Cuba continues to prevent independent journalists, civil society activists, and political opponents from traveling abroad, Julieta Pelcastre writes for Diálogo. This violates freedom of movement and expression, said Katherine Mojena Hernández, coordinator of the Cuban NGO Unión Patriótica, which advocates for rights and liberties.
“I am not allowed to leave Cuba because I think differently from the government, and I voice my disagreement,” Rosalía Viñas, a board member of the Havana-based Convivencia think tank. “This is the fourth time authorities prohibited me from travelling to Sweden to take part in an event about the internet and governance.”
The Patmos Institute (above), a Cuban NGO that advocates for human rights and religious freedom, showed a list of grounded citizens in September 2019, where Viñas and Mojena appear along with almost 200 human rights activists who are barred from leaving the country to take part in events, forums, and workshops that don’t align with the Cuban regime, Pelcastre adds.
In the documentary series The Grounded (Los Regulados – above), created by independent audiovisual magazine ADV, journalist Osmel Ramírez Álvarez from Diario de Cuba and Havana Times says that the regime has offered to change his status in exchange for his signed and recorded pledge not to oppose the government.
Cuba’s foreign minister is accusing the United States of violating the Geneva Conventions and the deal reestablishing diplomatic relations between the two countries, AP reports. State-run media last week accused the top U.S. diplomat in Havana of illegally supporting imprisoned dissident José Daniel Ferrer. The State Department on Thursday responded by blasting Cuba’s “reprehensible human rights violations and abuses.”
Ferrer appears as a robust and determined activist for democracy in Cuba, heading a group named the Patriotic Union of Cuba, or UNPACU. The Washington Post reports. But in a short prison visit, more than a month after Mr. Ferrer was detained Oct. 1 by authorities, his family says they saw a broken man, hunched over, having lost half his weight, covered in bruises. He was barely able to speak but told them hastily he has been threatened that he will not leave prison alive, after a handwritten letter appeared in which he wrote that he had been beaten and tortured and his life was in grave danger.
This horrific scene is cause for alarm, outrage and international protest, the Post adds. Mr. Ferrer (left) is a leading opposition voice to the Cuban regime. He previously served several years in prison after the 2003 Black Spring arrests of the followers of Oswaldo Payá, champion of the Varela Project, a citizen initiative calling for a referendum on democracy.