Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cuba, Two Million Tourists Third Year in a Row

Havana, Nov 29 (Prensa Latina) Cuba receives over two million tourists for third year in a row, informed Wednesday an official report from the Ministry of Tourism.

The report highlights that the figure is evidence of the positioning achieved by the Cuban tourism product in the main markets.

Canada heads the list of emitting countries, followed by the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Mexico, in that order.

More persons choose Cuba each year as a unique destination, not only for its exceptional beaches and sun, but also for being nature-friendly, its health and security conditions, adds the note.

It also speaks highly of historical and cultural values as the leading points of interest, as well as for its social achievements.

"Today all tourism and supporting institutions work tirelessly to guarantee favorable occupancy rates during the high season. Everything is ready for an intense winter season," says the release.

Cuban authorities thank tour operators, airlines and the media for their support, and recognizes the joint efforts of the sector´s professionals, Cubans and foreigners alike linked to this activity.

The hottest resorts this season are Varadero beach, 80 miles east of Havana, the King Gardens along the north central coast and the historical center of Havana.

Cuban accommodations total over 41 thousand rooms in about 200 hotels throughout the island.

Did U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen urge the assasination of Cuban President Fidel Castro?

In a video that has been posted in You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MunPrYJWy0) U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen encouraged the assassination of Cuban President Fidel Castro.

You watch the video and reach your own conclusions.

Of course, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, good 'W' ass kisser that he is, will not investigate the actions of this close ally of his Fuhrer.

It is my understanding that there is a U.S. law that bans assassinations of foreign leaders by members and/or employees of the U.S. government.

I call upon the new leadership of the 110th Congress, which will take office the first week of January 2007, to conduct hearings and an investigation on the alleged encouragement by a U.S. official of assassination attempts against a foreign leader.

Terrorism Made in USA (Español)

Granma Internaional

La Habana, 28 de Noviembre de 2006

Llama denuncia a sus cómplices de la FNCA ante la policía de Miami

JOSE Antonio Llama ha registrado una queja formal de estafa ante la policía de Miami en contra de ex directivos de la Fundación Nacional Cubano Americana, entre ellos a su presidente, José Pepe Hernández, hombre de confianza de Jorge Mas Santos.

Lo reveló el periodista Max Lesnik, de Radio Miami, de la emisora WOCN, en su programa diario El Duende, donde primero se anunció el caso, meses atrás. El mismo cronista también reveló en exclusividad el reciente escándalo de los periodistas de Miami pagados por el Departamento de Estado a través de Radio y TV Marti.

De confirmarse el delito, afirmó un investigador al reportero, el caso pudiera ser llevado ante los tribunales.

Por cierto, Miami es sin duda el único lugar del mundo donde un terrorista puede quejarse a la policía de haber sido robado por sus cómplices en un complot para perpetrar actos de terrorismo, sin ser de inmediato arrestado e inculpado.

En agosto último, Llama declaró públicamente que la FNCA adquirió un helicóptero de carga, diez aviones ultralivianos con control remoto, siete embarcaciones y abundante material explosivo con el objetivo explícito de realizar acciones terroristas contra Cuba.

Aquellos planes no pudieron desarrollarse a causa de la imprevista captura, por la guardia costera norteamericana, en 1997, del yate La Esperanza, hecho por el cual el propio Llama fue acusado y luego exonerado, gracias al FBI de Héctor Pesquera, el mismo oficial cuyo hijo, Ed Pesquera, destruyó en el 2003 el expediente de Luis Posada Carriles.

Detalle sumamente elocuente: entre los siete terroristas detenidos, se encontraba Juan Bautista Márquez, quien, mientras estaba en libertad bajo fianza, fue detenido por tráfico de 360 kilogramos de cocaína y tratar de comprar otros 2 220 kilogramos de droga.

Llama asegura que aportó 1 471 840,35 dólares de sus propios fondos "para financiar el proyecto" terrorista, que se fraguó durante el congreso anual de la FNCA celebrado en Naples, Florida, en junio de 1992. Considera que la enorme cantidad de dinero le fue estafada por varios directivos de la Fundación.

Entre los integrantes del grupo designado por José "Pepe" Hernández y Jorge Mas Canosa, el difunto fundador de la FNCA, se encontraban Elpidio Núñez, Horacio García y Luis Zúñiga, Erelio Peña y Raúl Martínez, de Miami; Arnaldo Monzón Plasencia y Angel Alfonso Alemán, de Nueva Jersey, también implicado en el caso La Esperanza; Fernando Ojeda, Fernando Canto y Domingo Sadurní, de Puerto Rico.

Decenas de individuos fichados por el propio FBI como terroristas se encuentran libres en el Sur de la Florida y siguen activos en grupos abiertamente favorables al uso del terrorismo contra Cuba, con la complicidad de las autoridades judiciales y de la actual administración federal. (Jean-Guy Allard)

US Consumerist Society

Cuban boom said fueled by jump in foreign exchange

Reuters

Wed Nov 29, 2006 1:21pm ET

By Marc Frank

HAVANA, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Cuba's foreign-exchange earnings swelled by some $3 billion this year due mainly to a jump in service exports, a government source with access to trade data said on Wednesday.

The communist-run country's balance of payments will be in the black for the third year running as a result, he said, without saying by how much.

"Increased nickel prices and pharmaceutical exports resulted in more than a $500 million increase over last year's $2 billion in exports, and service revenues jumped by over $2.5 billion to around $7.5 billion," he told Reuters, asking his name not be used.

Cuba apparently has spent most of the increased revenue on infrastructure and machinery. This includes $1 billion on an energy grid and hundreds of millions of dollars on waterworks and transportation.

It also has boosted imports of food and some consumer goods.

Economy and Planning Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez recently said imports were up by more than 27 percent this year over $7.5 billion in 2005.

Rodriguez said this week growth would be 12.5 percent this year, up from 11.8 percent in 2005, based on a locally devised formula that estimates the market value of free social services and subsidized goods and services and massive medical and other services exported mainly to Venezuela.

Cuba includes tourism and related activities, some communications, the export of medical and other professional services and the training of some foreigners in Cuba, such as Chinese Spanish-language students, as service revenues.

Tourism has stagnated this year, so increased service revenues would be from other sources.

Since the United States began more strictly enforcing its decades-old trade embargo on the country in 2004, always scarce economic information has become even harder to come by. Data, when provided, often differs from official to official and report to report. [JG: The anglos are always ready to provide negative information about Cuba]

However, the trend is clear since Cuba signed an agreement with Venezuela in late 2004 bartering and selling services for oil and also began receiving more credit from China.

Cuba reported imports of $5.5 billion in 2004 and non tourism service income of around $1.5 billion, compared with imports approaching $10 billion and non tourism service revenues of more than $5 billion this year, Reuters estimates.

Cuba's GDP fell 35 percent when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, depriving it of massive subsidies and resulting in shortages of food, energy, transportation and capital

Cuban Democratic Directorate

It has been reported in the national news media, that a so-called Cuban Democratic Directorate, one of the hundreds of gusano organizations headquartered in Miami, Florida, is going to issue, either today or tomorrow, some kind of a "report" about Cuba.

But here is the interesting part. It was also reported that this group of Cuban "freedom fighters" receives some $1 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the agency used by the U.S. government to fund its mercenaries inside and outside Cuba.

I wonder how many mansions and luxury cars this organization has bought with their welfare check provide courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.

I think I will skip their report. It will contain the usual propaganda garbage of the yankee imperialists.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mensaje del Comandante en Jefe a los participantes en la celebración de su 80 cumpleaños

Eco Tunero

Queridos compatriotas y queridos amigos de todo el mundo:

En este período he trabajado intensamente para garantizar en nuestro país los objetivos de la Proclama del 31 de julio.

Ahora nos encontramos frente a un adversario que ha conducido a Estados Unidos a un desastre de tal magnitud, que casi con seguridad el propio pueblo norteamericano no le permita concluir su mandato presidencial.

Al dirigirme a ustedes, intelectuales y personalidades prestigiosas del mundo, estaba ante un dilema: no podía reunirlos en un pequeño local. Solo en el teatro Carlos Marx cabían todos los visitantes, y yo no estaba todavía en condiciones, según los médicos, de afrontar tan colosal encuentro.

Opté por la variante de hablarles a todos utilizando esta vía. Es conocido mi pensamiento martiano sobre las glorias y los honores, cuando él dijo que todos cabían en un grano de maíz.

La generosidad de ustedes realmente me abruma. Son tantas las personas que me gustaría mencionar aquí, que nuevamente opto por no hacerlo, y les pido perdón por mencionar un solo nombre: el de Oswaldo Guayasamín, porque él logró sintetizar muchas de las mejores virtudes de los aquí presentes.

Me hizo cuatro retratos. El primero que pintó, en 1961, se perdió. Lo busqué por todos los rincones posibles y nunca apareció. Cuánto sufrí cuando supe qué clase de persona excepcional era Guayasamín. El segundo fue en 1981 y se conserva en la Casa Guayasamín en La Habana Vieja. El tercero, en 1986, se conserva en la "Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez de la Naturaleza y el Hombre". Qué lejos estábamos él y yo, cuando nos conocimos, de imaginar que el cuarto retrato sería su regalo de cumpleaños en agosto de 1996.

Cuán inspiradas fueron sus palabras cuando dijo: "De Quito y en cualquier rincón de la Tierra dejen una luz encendida, que regresaré tarde".

De Oswaldo Guayasamín escribí un día, al inaugurar la Capilla del Hombre: "Fue la persona más noble, transparente y humana que he conocido. Creaba a la velocidad de la luz, y su dimensión como ser humano no tenía límites."

Mientras el planeta exista y los seres humanos respiren, la obra de los creadores existirá.

Hoy, además, gracias a la tecnología, las obras y los conocimientos que el hombre ha creado a lo largo de miles de años están al alcance de todos, aunque aún no se conozcan los efectos que tendrán sobre los seres humanos las radiaciones de miles de millones de computadoras y teléfonos celulares.

En días recientes la prestigiosa organización Fundación Mundial para la Vida Silvestre (WWF International por su sigla en inglés), radicada en Suiza y considerada mundialmente como la más importante ONG que controla el medio ambiente global, declaró que el conjunto de medidas aplicadas por Cuba para proteger el medio ambiente la convertían en el único país de la Tierra que cumple los requisitos mínimos de desarrollo sostenible. Esto constituyó un honor estimulante para nuestro país, pero de escasa trascendencia mundial, dado el peso de su economía. Por ello, el pasado día 23 envié un mensaje al Presidente Chávez que decía:

"Querido Hugo:

"Al adoptar un Programa Integral de Ahorro de Energía, te convertirás en el más prestigioso defensor mundial del medio ambiente.

"El hecho de ser Venezuela el país de mayores reservas de petróleo es de enorme trascendencia y te convertirá en un ejemplo que arrastrará a todos los demás consumidores de energía a hacer lo mismo, ahorrando sumas incalculables de inversión.

"Al igual que Cuba, productora de níquel, puede movilizar recursos por miles de millones de dólares para su desarrollo, Venezuela, con sus exportaciones de hidrocarburos, podría movilizar millones de millones.

"Si los países industrializados y ricos lograran el milagro de reproducir en el planeta, dentro de varias decenas de años, la fusión solar, destrozando antes el medio ambiente con emanaciones de hidrocarburos, cómo los pueblos pobres, que constituyen la inmensa mayoría de la humanidad, podrán vivir en ese mundo.

"¡Hasta la victoria siempre!"

Por último, entrañables amigos que nos han hecho el inmenso honor de visitar nuestro país, me despido con gran dolor por no haber podido darles personalmente las gracias y abrazar a cada uno de ustedes. Tenemos el deber de salvar nuestra especie.

Fidel Castro Ruz

28 de noviembre del 2006

Castro absence fails to dampen media ardour

BBC

Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 18:47 GMT

The absence of Cuban President Fidel Castro from celebrations in Havana to mark his 80th birthday has failed to curb the enthusiasm of the country's media.

Nothing has so far been observed in the media to suggest Mr Castro's absence from a ceremony in Havana's Karl Marx theatre indicates a deterioration in his health.

The major radio station Rebelde read out his address excusing himself from the festivities on doctors' advice no less than four times in 90 minutes.

The radio also announced that a further two chapters of the book A Hundred Hours with Fidel were now available in tabloid format on newsstands nationwide.

The newspaper Eco Tunero published President Castro's address to the assembly in full, and also offered translations in English, Italian, French and Portuguese.

'Volcano of wisdom and love'

The youth paper Juventud Rebelde described the Cuban leader as "a volcano of wisdom and love".

"Cuban artists joined voices in unity to welcome the participants in homage to our commander-in-chief for his 80th birthday."

The paper described the event as "a loving embrace" for a leader who was "an erupting volcano, but also one of wisdom and culture".

"Solidarity, revolution and technology" ran a headline in the paper El Habanero.

It said the "Past and Future Colloquium: Cuba and Fidel" was "designed to give a new dimension of the transcendence of the Cuban Revolution for the world".

There were reports that writers, artists, singers, intellectuals and public figures from more than 80 nations were attending the event.

The workers' paper Trabajadores quoted an organiser of the festivities as paying effusive homage to "this volcano named Fidel".

The organiser spoke of "what is projected to happen in this world of ferment revolving around Cuba and Fidel symbolising the true revolutionary concept".

Describing Mr Castro as "the man who has given the greatest impulse to international solidarity in contemporary history", he continued:

"Thank you, Fidel, for existing. Thank you for making Cuba a free land. Thank you for realising your dreams of social justice. Thank you for continuing to be a guerrilla."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

Southern Voices in Cuba to Celebrate Fidel’s 80th Birthday

www.moneyweb.co.za

Posted: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 10:09

Artists committed to justice, dignity, and beauty hailing from Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, South Africa, Venezuela, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Puerto Rico, will be teaming up with local musicians for the "Todas las Voces Todas" (All the voices together) concert to take place December 30th at the Jose Marti Anti-imperialist Plaza in Havana.

Renowned musicians from around the southern hemisphere are responding to a call made by the Ecuadorian-based Guayasamin Foundation to pay homage to President Fidel Castro, leader of the Cuban Revolution, on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

According to sources at the foundation and the Cuban Institute of Music, the diva of South African song, Miriam Makeba, is among the artists who have announced their participation. Makeba was in Havana last year as part of her Farewell Tour that covered 52 nations.

At the time she recalled that one of her most cherished gestures is when the Cuban government offered her a Cuban passport in the 1970s when the apartheid regime had deprived her from her South African citizenship.

On behalf of the leading representatives of Chile’s popular music, singer Pancho Villa has announced that he will perform his song "Para La Habana", which premiered last August during Silvio Rodriguez’s concert with the Tropa Cosmica in Argentina. The Illapu band, representing the new generation of Chilean folk music, are also set to take the stage.

From Argentina, Cesar Isella, who put music to the poem Cancion con Todos, written by Armando Tejada Gomez, will also be a featured performer along with Piero, known for his brand of rock with a social conscious.

Two of the main representatives of the Uruguayan song have confirmed their presence: Daniel Viglieti, about to celebrate 50 years of artistic life, and Braulio Lopez.

The list of participants also includes Victor Victor from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rican Danny Rivera and Venezuelan Lilia Veras.

Colombian singer Andres Cabas will bring his original Latin American pop rock creations to the stage, performing for the first time in Havana.

Ecuador will be represented by the Pueblo Nuevo group, one of the leading purveyors of Andean folklore of the last three decades, along with singer Margarita Laso.

Cuban dissidents ask U.S. to lift travel, aid limits

The Miami Herald

Posted on Tue, Nov. 28, 2006

BY FRANCES ROBLES
frobles@MiamiHerald.com

Four of Cuba's most prominent dissident groups are calling on the Bush administration to lift at least some restrictions on travel to the island and direct U.S. aid to pro-democracy groups there, saying the restrictions "in no way help" their struggle.

The dissidents' statement was intended to support the Miami organizations that handle some of the U.S. aid but wound up causing a stir, particularly among hard-line exile groups that support the travel restrictions. It also raised a question of whether the administration would still push its plan for an extra $80 million to aid an opposition that disagrees with its principal policies.

The six-paragraph statement released over the weekend comes in the wake of a Government Accountability Office report that questioned oversight and spending in $65 million by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for Cuba democracy programs.

The report showed that some agencies in Miami which send goods such as medicine to dissidents also made questionable expenditures on items such as Godiva chocolates or Gameboys for dissidents' kids.

"We deem it very important to achieve a greater efficiency in the use of said [USAID] funds," the statement said. "We believe that one possible way to achieve this would be the elimination of a series of existing restrictions on the shipment of aid and travel to Cuba, which in no way help the struggle for democracy we wage inside our country.

"We hope that the errors committed will be corrected and that a greater amount of aid will reach the pro-democracy activists, so we may advance with greater speed toward the economic, political and social freedom of our motherland."

The statement was signed by prominent opposition leaders Martha Beatriz Roque, of the Assembly To Promote Civilian Society, Gisela Delgado Sabión, of the Independent Libraries Project, Elizardo Sánchez, who heads the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, and Vladimiro Roca, of the Social Democratic Party of Cuba and spokesman for All United.

Roque's signature was by far the most surprising because of her long-standing support for travel restrictions. Roque is controversial even among Cuban dissidents, particularly for her hard-line stances and close relationship with Cuban-American legislators.

Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, a strong supporter of Bush's Cuba policies, noted that Roque has sent several letters to Congress supporting the 2004 regulations that tightened travel and remittances by Cuban-Americans to the island.

"I have questions to ask about this statement," he said. "It's confusing."

Roque acknowledged that the statement was an about-face for her, but said she signed it because overall it supports continuing the USAID assistance. Other dissident groups oppose the help, saying it gives the Cuban government a way to portray them as hired guns.

Sending U.S. government cash directly to dissidents is currently banned. Seventy- five dissidents were jailed three years ago in a roundup of what the Cuban government considered "mercenaries."

"Sometimes you have to take a position, because the other positions are worse," Roque said by phone from Havana. "This is not my position. I signed it, because the people signing it are the closest to my position."

The signers were unclear as to whether they were calling for lifting all the travel restrictions -- which also ban all U.S. tourist trips -- or just the tighter restrictions introduced in 2004 that cut back Cuban-American family reunification visits from once a year to once every three years.

Delgado, whose husband is a political prisoner, said she wants the entire ban on both U.S. tourism and family reunification visits lifted.

"We live in a closed society and we don't think the doors should be closed even more," she said in a phone interview. ‘‘What we need is an opening."

Roca agreed: "The travel restrictions have not provided results. They have hurt the opposition more than the government."

Sánchez said he believed that the group's intention was to oppose the 2004 limitations, not the ban on U.S. tourism. He said lifting the 2004 restrictions would help dissidents because more Cuban-American travelers could bring suitcases filled with medicine and food, rather than waste U.S. taxpayer money on expensive shipping.

A recent Miami Herald investigation found agencies spent large parts of their funding on expensive shipping fees.

The opposition groups' statement puzzled even Juan Carlos Acosta, their representative in Miami, whose spending was criticized in the GAO report.

"Originally the idea was to speak the truth of our efforts for many years," Acosta said. ‘‘. . . But the way it was put together, any member of the press would read it as they want to lift the embargo and any American should be able to travel to Cuba."

The U.S. Interests Section in Havana said they had no reaction to the statement.

"They don't make the policy," said spokeswoman Demitra Pappas. "That is determined elsewhere, and our policy hasn't changed."

Miami Herald translator Renato Pérez contributed to this report.

Cuba celebrates Castro's 80th birthday

People's Daily Online

UPDATED: 14:07, November 29, 2006

Cuban people on Tuesday held a gala celebrating their leader Fidel Castro's 80th birthday, but Castro did not attend the celebrations personally upon his doctors' advice.

"According to my physicians, I was not yet ready for such a big event, so I decided to speak with you in this way," Castro said in a written message read to guests and supporters in the gala, which was held in Havana's Karl Marx Theater.

"I felt sorrowful for not being able to personally thank you and embrace everyone of you," Castro said.

He added that he was busy with his work recently, to realize the aims he proposed on July 31, when he temporarily ceded power to Defense Minister Raul Castro.

Castro's birthday was on Aug. 13, but he postponed celebrations because he was recovering from an intestinal surgery on July 27.

Officials said that around 1,600 guests from about 80 countries will attend a series of celebrations for Castro's birthday, which include seminars, symphony concerts and picture shows.

Source: Xinhua

Castro succession takes shape in Cuba under brother

The Washington Post

By Anthony Boadle
Reuters
Tuesday, November 28, 2006; 10:59 AM

HAVANA (Reuters) - Whether or not ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro reappears in public this week at his 80th birthday celebration, a successor government led with stealth by his brother Raul appears to be firmly in place.

For four months since the Cuban leader underwent emergency surgery and turned over power temporarily, his designated heir and long-serving defense minister has run the country with few speeches and less fanfare.

Ordinary Cubans have seen little of low-key Raul Castro other than fleeting glimpses of his speeding motorcade of new BMWs.

Government sources say the acting president has been very active holding dozens of meetings, strengthening the ruling Communist Party and getting involved in areas of policy that were his brother's domain, such as the economy.

Shocked by video footage of a frail Fidel Castro last month, many Cubans now doubt the aging "comandante" struck by an undisclosed illness will return to anything but a symbolic leadership role.

"It's utopian to believe Fidel will return to govern. You saw the difficulty he had walking," said a University of Havana psychology student who asked not to be named.

Their hopes for economic relief in the Western Hemisphere's only Communist society are now pinned on Raul Castro, who in the past backed reforms allowing private initiative to flourish.

SMOOTH SUCCESSION

Foreign analysts agree a thus-far smooth succession has begun, though they are not certain where it will take Cuba.

"Raul is firmly in charge, but he has not shown his hand yet," said Hal Klepak, a history professor at the Royal Military Institute of Canada and author of a book on the Cuban military.

Fidel Castro is expected to make at least a brief appearance at a military parade on Saturday marking the 50th anniversary of the day he landed in eastern Cuba to start a guerrilla movement that seized power in the 1959 revolution.

"It makes little difference if Fidel shows up or not. The succession has begun," said an Asian diplomat in Havana.

"Many people got it wrong. They thought Cuba would fall apart. But Cubans are not pushing for political change. They want more cheese and ham."

Raul Castro is widely believed to admire China's economic model of capitalist growth under continued Communist rule, but he has not given any indication that reform is on the way.

His first moves have been in the opposite direction, continuing a drive against corruption that has landed managers of state companies in jail and passing measures for stricter discipline in the work place.

Analysts say it is unlikely Raul Castro will introduce reforms while his brother is still alive and able to veto them, and while he feels the threat of U.S. destabilization is real.

"We cannot forget for one moment that we face a very powerful enemy that is capable of resorting to any means to achieve its goal of wiping the Revolution from the face of the Earth so that not a single trace is left," he said in a September 27 speech to workers.

Soviet-era MiG fighters and tanks will take part in Saturday's parade, the first in a decade in Havana's Revolution Square, to show Washington that Cuba can still defend itself despite cutting the size of its armed forces by 80 percent in recent years, Klepak said.

Analysts say the parade also will serve as a warning to Cubans, whose loyalty to Raul Castro is not the same as for his brother and could falter if he cannot improve their living standards.

The average Cuban makes just $15 a month and struggles to get by despite receiving such things as food rations and free health care.

(Additional reporting by Rosa Tania Valdes)

Memory and Future: Cuba and Fidel

Granma International

Havana. November 28, 2006

International Colloquium

The International Colloquium “Memory and Future: Cuba and Fidel,” organized by the Oswaldo Guayasamín Foundation to honor the leader of the Cuban Revolution on his 80th birthday, is to begin Wednesday, November 29 at the International Convention Center in Havana, with more than 1,800 prominent individuals from 80 nations.

For two days, political leaders, social activists, writers and artists will address – from their own and diverse viewpoints – the achievements attained in Cuba under Fidel’s leadership, and in a very special way, his perspectives and international impact, according to the event organizers. On Thursday, in a plenary session, the colloquium’s closing will take place at the Karl Marx Theater.

That same day, an exhibition is to be inaugurated in the National Museum of Fine Arts with 100 original works by the maestro Oswaldo Guayasamín from three of his most representative illustrative series: Huacayñán (El Camino del llanto), La edad de la ira and La edad de la ternura. The exhibit will also include portraits of Fidel painted by Guayasamín at different times.

(Translated by Granma International)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Continuity of Communism in Cuba irks Washington


Soldiers watch over Russian-made antiaircraft missiles in Havana, during a rehearsal for the next parade to celebrate President Fidel Castro’s 80th birthday, announced for December 2

Gulf Times, Qatar

Published: Tuesday, 28 November, 2006, 01:17 PM Doha Time

HAVANA: Cuba has pulled off what the US thought it never would, prolonging Latin America’s only Communist regime without Fidel Castro directly at the helm, analysts say.

“The US long thought almost exclusively of a rupture scenario: that if Castro is gone, there would be no system,” Lisandro Perez, a Cuba expert at Florida International University in Miami, said by phone, as the world watches to see if Castro will appear in person at 80th birthday celebrations this week.

But while an appearance may suggest whether Castro’s health is better or worse, Cuban officials no longer insist he will return to work full-time. And the celebrations, with fighter jets soaring and workers marching, are high on homage.

Castro, who underwent intestinal surgery in July, put his brother Raul Castro, the 75-year-old army chief, in place as the regime’s interim leader.

Since then, a handful of leading loyal Cuban Communist Party members have taken more active public roles, giving the sense that power may have more than one face.

Raul Castro has kept a fairly low profile, and Cuba has continued business as usual, formally without Fidel.

Now “the US government has no plan ... for the continuation of the system. The US does not know what to do, because it has had no policy beyond saying that when (Fidel) Castro is gone, it will aid in some way. In the absence of that scenario, there is no policy”, added Perez.

Indeed “with the demise of Castro, those who are in power in Cuba will attempt to perpetuate the existing system for quite a bit of time after Castro is gone. Raul Castro may say ‘I’m open to greater economic change’, but the idea that the system would fall apart is not accurate”, says Perez.

US “policies, whatever else they achieved, did not achieve their primary goal: regime change”, underscored Anthony Maingot, another FIU analyst.

“This is the most incompetent administration in the history of the US. And Cuba certainly is part of that,” Wayne Smith, the top US diplomat in Havana in the Jimmy Carter administration, now with the Centre for International Policy, said by phone.
“Rather than exploring Cuba’s proposals for limited co-operation on fighting drugs and other limited issues, the US (under George W Bush) continued to talk about bringing down the Cuban government. We don’t have a policy in Cuba,” stressed Smith noting that US propaganda broadcasts to Cuba also bear no fruit.


Though the Bush administration released “a 500-page plan in May 2004 to bring down the (Cuban) regime ... two years later in July (2006) rather than seeing the downfall or even deterioration of the regime we saw it was recovering economically thanks to economic relationships with Venezuela and China, nickel prices up and a possible oil field off the north coast”.

“By no means are they near collapse,” Smith said.

The US in July said a succession from Fidel to Raul Castro was “absolutely unacceptable, hinting the Cuban people would not accept it. A few days later it happened – and it turned out it was acceptable to the Cuban people. They accepted it with calm maturity”, said Smith.

Loly, a 63-year-old nurse in Havana, acknowledged that Fidel Castro was unlikely to return to power.

“Fidel is not coming back. When he is no longer alive, the political line is going to be the same, but let’s hope the economy improves. The people are not ‘comunista,’ they are Fidelista,” she said.

In Cuba, billboards long defiantly proclaimed “There will be no transition” in a jab back at US anti-Castro policies. Now billboards in Havana announce to the US “We are already living in Free Cuba”.

And the consequences of a hands-off, back-turned US policy could soon come back to haunt the US.

Under current US law, all of Cuba’s 11.2mn people are allowed to stay and work in the US if they set foot on US soil. The law can only be changed after Cuba holds elections acceptable to Washington, which might be years away.

Perez warned that “the US is counting on the authoritarian nature of the Cuban government to keep people from leaving. But they could stop patrolling their borders” and allow a huge emigration surge, a potential crisis for the US.

The US government “currently does not have any door open to talking, and presumably is barred by (its own) law”, noted Perez.

-----------------------------------------------

JG: The administration of George W. Bush continues with its collective head buried deep in the sand. Will they ever learn?

Hooray for those new billboards in Havana. They are right. Cuba has been free since January 1, 1959.

Cubans to mark Castro's 80th birthday, with or without him

Caribbean Net News

Monday, November 27, 2006

by Isabel Sanchez

HAVANA, Cuba (AFP): Cuba is abuzz with big celebrations to belatedly mark Fidel Castro's 80th birthday, going ahead whether or not the communist stalwart, little seen since undergoing a major operation, takes part, officials say.

Castro turned 80 on August 13, but the national party was put off because of his intestinal surgery just weeks earlier.

Instead, December 2 was picked for the fiesta because it marks the 50th anniversary of the day Castro and 81 bearded rebels - including brother Raul and Argentine-born revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara - returned from exile in Mexico aboard a yacht named Granma, launching a military campaign that would topple US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

A week of festivities got under way Friday and will climax on December 2, when Cuba will hold its first military parade in a decade.

But the party comes amid intense speculation over the health of Castro, who on July 31 temporarily ceded power for the first time in more than four decades in power to Raul, the defense chief.

Speculation has grown about the grey-bearded leader's health as rumours swirl in US media that he is suffering from end-stage cancer.

Cuban authorities have been short on details as his health is considered a state secret. They say Castro is recovering but have not said when he might return to lead the country full-time.

"He is continuing to recover, his health continues to improve, and we all are very optimistic about his recovery, when that is possible, when his doctors say so, but we are satisfied that he is recovering," Vice President Carlos Lage told local radio on November 21.

But Lage still did not say whether Castro would participate in the birthday bash.

Some 300,000 people are expected to march in the December 2 military parade, as Cuba's tanks, artillery units, and armored transport units will be rolled out and fighter jets will soar overhead.

Cuban officials say that some 1,500 special guests are attending the events, including presidents, ex-presidents, Nobel laureates, actors and musicians. They have not made the guest list public.

Since his surgery, Castro has not appeared in public but photographs and short video images of him have been released, in which he appeared gaunt but in good spirits. The last video was released October 28 amid rumours he was gravely ill or dead.

Meanwhile his temporary replacement, Raul Castro, 75, who was little known outside his military sphere of influence until now, has taken to his higher-profile role with discretion and humour.

At a September summit of the Non-Aligned Movement hosted by Havana, he strode the world stage for the first time in a leadership role appearing at ease, sometimes trading his customary military garb for a business suit.

Although he often is described as less charismatic than his brother Fidel, he appears comfortable speaking publicly when he chooses to do so.

Like Fidel, Raul Castro spoken out against the corruption riddling Cuban society since he took Cuba's helm.

Surrounded by top Communist Party loyalists, he has launched audits of state enterprises and unveiled new disciplinary sanctions.

If Fidel Castro appears at the celebrations "it would mean that his health crisis is behind him," Franco-Spanish author Ignacio Ramonet, who wrote the recent "Cien horas con Fidel" ("100 Hours with Fidel") authorised biography of the Cuban leader, said on a show on state television.

But the show's presenter, Randy Alonso, added that the most important thing in the birthday party would be "to bring there more than the physical presence of Fidel - his ideas, the ideas of the revolution."

Dissident Elizardo Sanchez challenged the impression that all was well in Cuba as the celebrations take off, however.

"Corruption is widespread. They are not going to be able to contain it, because it comes hand-in-hand with totalitarian regimes."

"The key is not whether the head of state will be able to return to power or not. It is whether there is a political will for reform in Cuba. And that is what I do not see anywhere," said Sanchez.

U.S. fights Fidel - with chocolates?

New York Daily News

Originally published on November 26, 2006

By Albor Ruiz

It is surrealism at its best: Fighting Fidel with Godiva chocolates and Harry Potter books.

This is what some Cuban-American organizations have been doing - apparently, for years.

They have spent thousands of dollars to buy the chocolates and the books and also cashmere sweaters, leather coats, Nintendo games and other assorted - shall we say subversive?- items.

These articles are, these organizations say in all seriousness, smuggled into Cuba to combat Havana's Communist regime by aiding dissidents on the island.

Granted, it may not be the most effective way of bringing down Castro and his government, but without a doubt it is a lot of fun - particularly because it is the U.S. taxpayers who cover the expenses.

These revelations are contained in "U.S. Democracy Assistance for Cuba Needs Better Management and Oversight," a recent report put out by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The investigation's conclusions are clear: The multimillion-dollar program designed to aid Cuban dissidents and families has instead encouraged waste and abuse among the organizations receiving the funds.

"Under the Bush administration's Cuba policy, it is illegal for Cuban-Americans to fly to Havana for a family funeral, but legal for the State Department to pay smugglers to bring chocolates and cashmere sweaters onto the island," said Sarah Stephens, executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas.

We are not talking about a few wasted dollars here and there. We are talking about $73 million that the U.S. government has spent supposedly promoting democracy in Cuba since 1996.

Ironically, the bulk of the money stays in Miami, the Government Accountability Office says.

After all, someone has to pay for the living and administrative expenses of the leaders of those patriotic organizations in Florida who get the funds and are in charge of distributing them inside Cuba.

And someone has to cover the cost of the dozens of mostly useless studies, publications and conferences about a post-Castro Cuba - usually more wishful thinking than concrete analysis.

Yes, there is no doubt: These are times of abundance - or vacas gordas (fat cows), as Cubans would call it - in sunny Miami.

The GAO report came about after Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) requested it. Both are longtime critics of U.S. policy toward Cuba. They belong to the bipartisan House Cuba Working Group, which would like to see travel restrictions lifted and a new policy not based on economic sanctions.

"This program is a poorly administered part of a badly flawed policy," said Delahunt, who is poised to become chairman of the House International Relations Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee when Democrats become the majority party in January. He has promised to hold hearings next year on the report findings.

"This program is unlikely to do anything to the Castro government but make it laugh at our expense," Stephens said. "After more than 40 years of failure, if there were more evidence needed that American citizens and American taxpayers need a new Cuba policy, the GAO report provides it."

Drop the failed, 45-year-old trade embargo, abandon the anachronistic Cold War mind-set and allow free travel and free trade, and scrap the interventionist White House's Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba. That would be a really new and rational Cuba policy.

Cuba rumbles out military flair amid the uncertainty over Castro

The News, Pakistan

Tuesday, November 28, 2006, Zeeqaad 6, 1427 A.H.

HAVANA: Cuba rolled out anti-air defenses, fighter jets and marchers Monday in a raucous rehearsal for its first military parade in a decade to mark Fidel Castro's 80th birthday, amid expectation here that the ailing leader may appear in the flesh.

Four months have passed since Castro underwent intestinal surgery and then relinquished power temporarily to his brother and defense minister, Raul Castro. Cuba postponed Fidel's birthday celebrations from August 13 to December 2, hoping his recovery might be well along.

But Cuban authorities, who do not comment in detail on Castro's health, have stopped saying Fidel will be back on the job full time. The celebrations have something of a farewell tone for many Cubans.

"I think he's feeling better and maybe will make a public appearance at the parade ... but getting back to government again, to his usual job, I don't know. It's difficult for me to see that," said a 52-year-old radio worker who wished to remain anonymous.

Since Fidel Castro's July 26 operation, he has only been seen on television and in still photographs.

Monday, activity was at a fever pitch and noise levels were up at Revolution Square, where military cadets were out in formation, MiG fighters soared beneath the clouds and Soviet-era troop transport helicopters clattered by.

Young workers from several state industries were out marching with their co-workers, waving huge red, white and blue Cuban flags in the cool breeze.

The military parade Saturday at which Fidel Castro is widely expected -- though his attendance is not officially confirmed -- is the climax of almost a week of festivities.

Some 300,000 people are expected to march, and 2,000 guests from 80 countries, including presidents, ex-presidents, Nobel laureates, actors and musicians, are due on hand. Allies President Evo Morales of Bolivia and president-elect Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua were to attend, as is Haitian President Rene Preval.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, Castro's key ally in keeping his regime alive economically, has not confirmed and faces elections this Sunday. But organizers said they would not rule out a quick visit by Castro's close friend.

All eyes will be on the main podium to see if the grey-bearded leader is present and, if he is, hazard a guess at whether he might be strong enough ever to retake the helm of Latin America's only one-party communist regime.

Cuba’s Economy Grows 12.5 percent in 2006

Havana, Nov 27 (ACN) The Cuban economy has grown 12.5 percent so far this year, with promising prospects for 2007, said Cuban Economy Minister José Luis Rodriguez in the eastern Cuban city of Bayamo on Sunday.

Rodriguez made his statement during a ceremony marking Cuban Economists and Accountants Day. He said the recovery is taking place in all areas of the economy, including those hard-hit by the financial crisis brought on by the collapse of the European Socialist Bloc at the end of the 1980’s.

The official said actions to save energy and generate electric power more efficiently were some of the factors contributing to the growth.

In 2005, the average price of a barrel of oil was 56.5 dollars. Thus far in 2006, the median price increased to 66 dollars, making it all the more important to modernize equipment and make efficient use of both imported fuels and of those extracted from Cuban wells, said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez underscored the work carried out by Cuban economists to guarantee the implementation of financial and investment projects aimed at guaranteeing the country’s energy security.

During the ceremony, Roberto Verrier, president of Cuba’s National Association of Economists and Accountants, read a message addressed to Cuban President Fidel Castro on behalf of the nearly 69,000 members of the organization.

National Economists and Accountants Day is November 26th to pay homage to Cuban-Argentinean guerrilla fighter Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who was appointed President of the Central Bank of Cuba on that day in 1959.

Ricardo Alarcon: Cuba Is People-Powered

Habana, Nov 27 (Prensa Latina) Without the Granma landing the Peoples Power assembly in Cuba would have been impossible, Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon stated Monday.

Alarcon said that the 30th anniversary of Peoples Power coincides with the 50th anniversary of the historic arrival of Granma Yacht led by Fidel Castro.

Talking with several journalists, including Prensa Latina, he highlighted the transcendence of that date even more for the action that the Cubans and international figures are readying for celebrating President Fidel Castro s 80th birthday.

Alarcon referred to advances in structure and functioning of the Peoples Power that in 1976 made the first postulations and elections of delegates in the grass-roots and constituted the National Assembly.

Over 100,000 people have carried out since then a work with sacrifice and social recognition, said the Cuban legislator.

Alarcon pointed out the democratic nature of this system, unlike others that impose officials and decisions to safeguard their particular interests.

"Our system has nothing to do with democratic bourgeoisie fiction because, in Cuba, the people wield power, even under the economic siege and US terrorism," he stated.

Peoples participation in decisions like the budget, neighborhood meetings and approval of main laws are evident successes.

Since the beginning of the revolution, the US has strived to make Cuban people suffer any way it can, including starvation and extreme material deficiencies.

This has only resulted in massive support for Fidel Castro, he explained.

He recalled Parliament is in direct contact with the people and dedicates more hours to debate important affairs on all levels.

Dan a conocer equipos para la próxima Serie Nacional de Béisbol en Cuba

Juventud Rebelde

Los listados se harán oficiales en el congresillo técnico, el próximo martes

Correo: digital@jrebelde.cip.cu
26 de noviembre de 2006 00:31:13 GMT

GRUPO A

PINAR DEL RÍO

Receptores:

Yosvani Peraza Marín

Arturo Castro Fuentes

William Otaño Pérez

Norlys Concepción Ferro

Cuadro:

Jorge Padrón Bravo

Luis E. Gavilán Salgado Rafael Valdés Casola

Onel Olivera Valdés

David Castillo Velázquez

Donal Duarte Hernández

Osniel Madera Madera

Jardineros:

Alexei Ramírez Rodríguez

Mijaíl Rivera Páez

Raidel Hernández Peña

Luis G. González Rodríguez

Reidel Álvarez Sánchez

Iván Pita Cabrera

Lanzadores:

Pedro Luis Lazo Iglesias

Yunieski Maya Mendiluza

Vladimir Baños Chacón

Orestes González Rivera

Armando Martínez Sánchez

Raidel Miranda Sánchez

José R. Melendis Mirabal

Wendy Borges Martínez

Irandy Castro Izquierdo

Reinier Casanova Socarrás

Rubén Pita Monterrey

Rogelio García Morejón

Erly Casanova Callaba

Michel Martínez Pozo

Yosvani Torres Gómez

mentor:

Jorge Fuentes Fleitas



ISLA DE LA JUVENTUD

Receptores:

Vladimir García Martínez

Pablo López Corbalán

Joan Chaviano Sap

Cuadro:

Orlis Luis Díaz Cordero

Luis F. Rivera Despaigne

Juan Carlos Moreno Pérez Michel Enríquez Tamayo

Dainniel Gálvez Guerra

Yosvani Gamboa Domínguez

Coleyanco Rancol González

Reinier Llanes Santí

Jardineros:

Yoanis Pérez García

Rolexis Molina Guerrero

Luis Y. Fonseca García

Félix Pérez Cardoso

Liván Sánchez Breto

Juan M. Martínez Martínez

Lanzadores:

Carlos A. Yanes Artiles

Omar Licourt Pedroso

José Luis Moulin Blanco

Danni Aguilera Rives

Israel Soto Delís

Oscar Jacomino Ebanks

Ronald García Álvarez

Sergio F. Espinosa García

Ismel Matos Matos

Axel Baigorría Cobas

Yalieski Diéguez Mayet

Aleski Perera Tarrali

José Dainel Cruz Chacón Raimundo Vázquez Fdez.

Wilber Pérez Rodríguez

mentor:

Armando Jhonson Zaldívar



METROPOLITANOS

Receptores:

Reinier Orozco Álvarez

Liván Correa Sánchez

Dairon Larrinaga Yiens

Maikel Piñero Lissaset

Cuadro:

Bryan Camacho Borrayo

Michel Fors Ortiz

Yosmani Guerra Febles

Diogénes Y. Caballero

Leugin Barraso Hernández

Ryan Oniel Álvarez Delgado

Rafael Fuentes Bárzaga

Juan C. Torriente Núñez

Jardineros:

Yusmany López García

Iraid Chirino Arroyo

Oscar Mesa Savón

Eliut Torres Ramírez

Stanley Hdez. Apesteguía

Lanzadores:

David Álvarez Pompo

Ángel O. Argüelles Barnet

Maikel Hidalgo Rojas

Ramón Cairo Lorez

Rigoberto Arrebato Núñez Raidel Borges Belén

Abel Viego Montano

Carlos M. Puentes Morales

Miguel A. Rubido Rodríguez

Ebris Martínez Blanco

Yadiel Torres Espinosa

Reinaldo Fajardo Veliz

Alexei Chorot Lima

Rafael Lara Alfonso

Harold Quiala Álvarez

mentor:

Jorge Milián La Fita



MATANZAS

Receptores:

Lázaro Herrera Fernández

Alexander Llanes Varela

Yaimel Alberto Suárez

Dayan Alejo Rodríguez

Cuadro:

Yoandy Garlobo Romay

Hugo C. Morales Reyes

Yefferson Delgado Castañeda

Yandy Canto Ramírez

Orestes Mujica Díaz Yadil

Alexander Rdguez. Cabrera

Dixan Rodríguez Fdez.

Jardineros:

Yosbel Noda Hernández

Yasser Pérez Suárez

Carlos Mesa Noroña

Vaisel Acosta Cárdenas

Yasiel Varona Herrera

Ariel Sánchez Sánchez

Lanzadores:

Yosvani Fonseca García

Yussef Pagés Vázquez

Yasmani Arias Matienzo

Yasiel Cervantes Lugones

Guillermo Tortoló Ordoñez

Yousel Aguilar Crespo

L. Yohilem Garro Menéndez

Yoannis Negrín Pérez

Burney Pérez García

Orelvis Chill Ortiz

Yohan Hernández de Armas

Yasiel Mejías Cerdelles

Leinier Rodríguez Hermoso

Miguel A. Savedra Chinea

Abel Oquendo Alí

mentor:

Rigoberto Rosique Giart



GRUPO B

LA HABANA

Receptores:

William Santiesteban Rdguez.

Danger Guerrero Echevarría

Alberto Toledo García

Cuadro:

Pedro Arozarena Zayas

Roberto Zulueta González

José A. Iglesias Alemán

Liobel Pérez Lazaga

Michel Rodríguez López

Rolando Méndez Márquez

Alexei López Hernández

Misael Noriega Herrera

Jardineros:

Rafael Orta Luis

Juan C. Linares Izquierdo Juan Carlos Torres Cruz

Ernesto Molinet Domínguez

Orlando Lavandera Álvarez

Pedro W. Castillo Amaro

Lanzadores:

Yulieski González Ledesma Yadier Pedroso González

Jonder Martínez Martínez

Yusdel Tuero Rodríguez

José Ángel García Sánchez

Ángel Morejón Seoane

Jorge Luis Longa Torres

Gerardo Miranda Pérez

Armando Rivero Luzardo

Reinier Benítez Muñoz

Miguel A. González Puebla.

Miguel Lahera Betancourt

Noel Argüelles Carreras

Luiber Franchialfaro Luis

Rubén Valdés Pérez

mentor:

Esteban Lombillo Peña



INDUSTRIALES

Receptores:

Alden Mesa Savón

Alejandro Regueira Glez.

Frank C. Morejón Reyes

Cuadro:

Alexander Mayeta Kerr

Abdel Quintana Martínez

Rudy Reyes Erice

Enrique Díaz Martínez

Jokel Gil Acosta

Raiko Olivares Ríos

Yasmani Viera García

Rangel Rodríguez Fdez.

JARDINEROS:

Carlos A. Tabares Padilla

Yasser Gómez Soto

Dioelsis Linares Abreu

Yasser Ottamendi de Guzmán

Yoandry Urgellés Cobas

Serguey Pérez Guillén

LANZADORES

Yadel Martí Carrillo

Deynis Suárez Laguardia

Asley Sánchez de La Cruz

Frank Menéndez Acea

Maicel Díaz Sigler

Sandy Ojito Flores

Frank Montieth Herrera

Alexei Gil Pérez

Darwin R. Beltrán Cordovés

Odrisamen Despaigne Orue

Reinier Roll Valdés-Basanta Bárbaro Puentes Gutiérrez

Ihosvani García Correa

Yunieski Lagart Román

Yoandri Portar Carrasco

mentor:

Rey Vicente Anglada Ferrer



CIENFUEGOS

Receptores:

Osvaldo Arias González

Adir Ferran O’Farril

Camilche Veloz Chis

cuadro:

Pedro J. Rodríguez Román

Alexander Martínez Oropesa

José M. Pérez Alonso

Yosvany Lazo Monterrey

Yuniet Dita Cedeño

Jorge R. Rodríguez Suárez

Pável Quesada Pedroso

Yosiel Prieto Rodríguez

Jardineros:

José Dariel Abreu Correa Alejandro Marrero Vilches

Alexei García Jurequí

Yoelvis Leiva Vergara

Yusniel Ibañez Aragón

Lázaro Rdguez. Rodríguez

Lanzadores:

Alexander Quintero Zamora

Norberto González Miranda

Noelvis Entenza González

Leovel Cardoso Serpa

Adiel Palma López

Yasniel Hidalgo Muñoz

Yasmany Fdez. Arruebaruena

Samuel Ruiz González

Omar Montes de Oca Gómez

Randy Gutiérrez Vilchez

Yuniel Leiva Carrasco

Islet Santiago del Sol

Yoisnel Hernández Olano

Yasmany Insua Morfa

Yasiel Morales Yera

Mentor:

Dessy Lomba Ojeda



SANCTI SPÍRITUS

Receptores:

Eriel Sánchez León

Yoanis Delgado Pedroso

Reinier Yero Deliano

cuadro:

Yunier Mendoza Alfonso

Osdelvis Bernal Hdez.

Omar Arrozarena Aponte

Ixis Valle Ramos

Yuliesky Gourriel Castillo

Yoandy Bague Luis

Eliécer Varela Hernández

Yamel Morales Pérez

Jardineros:

Frederich Cepeda Cruz

Liván Monteagudo Castillo

Yuniesky Gourriel Castillo

José Luis Sáez Rodríguez

Adonis Zamora Acosta

Yasiel Santoya Zulueta

Lanzadores:

Yovani Aragón Rodríguez

Ifreidi Coss Gómez

Ángel Peña García

Ramón Licor Rodríguez

Noelvis Hdez. Puente

Ismel Jiménez Santiago

Yusdelvis Hernández Rdguez.

Danny González Pérez

Yasniel Sosa Ortega

Yoen Socarrás Suárez

Douglas Rojas Pérez

Yoarislevis Panama Castro

Iroel Alonso Travieso

Jorge Luis Pérez Jiménez

Armando Heguys Moya

Mentor:

Lourdes Gourriel Delgado



GRUPO C

VILLA CLARA

Receptores:

Ariel Pestano Valdés

Yulexis La Rosa Águila

Julio Ramírez Cabrera

cuadro:

Ariel Borrero Alfonso

Yeniet Pérez Romero

Andy Sarduy Escobar

Eduardo Paret Pérez

Dayán Viciedo Pérez

Léster Benavides Cabodevilla

Denis García Rodríguez

Darian González González

Jardineros:

Yuniet Flores Argüelles

Néstor Felipe Valdés Abreu

Gustavo Olano Machado

Leonis Martín Tápanes

Yorkis La Rosa Morales

Andy Zamora Farres

Lanzadores:

Eliecer Montes de Oca

Juan Y. Serrano Fdez.-Veitía

Vladimir Hernández Solas

Ediasbel García Espinosa

Alaín Sánchez Machado

Luis Borroto Jiménez

Yoandry Ruiz Hernández

Delvis Díaz Vera

Yolexis Ulacia Carrazana

Robelio Carrillo Carvajal

Freddy Asiel Álvarez Sáez

Yuliet López Bernal

Diosdani Castillo Vergel

Yordanis Díaz Ruiz

Yoandry Barrios Castillo

mentor:

Víctor Mesa Martínez



CIEGO DE ÁVILA

Receptores:

Roger Machado Morales

Lisdey Díaz González

Rudeldys García Machado

Cuadro:

Danny Miranda Agramonte

Mario Jorge Vega Rodríguez

Yorbis Borroto Jáurregui

Yorelvis Charles Martínez

Yogey Pérez Ramos

Yaibel Tamayo Martínez

Raúl González Isidoria

Adonis García Arrieta

Jardineros:

Yoelvis Fiss Morales

Roger Poll Soler

Isaac Martínez Dorta

José Ramón Alfonso López

Abdel Civil González

Yornadys Pérez Hernández

Lanzadores:

Michel Pino Feo

Valeris García Fiss

Alien Mora Sánchez

José Antonio Barroso Paulo

Lázaro Santana Vázquez

Cosmar Cervantes Dguez.

Raúl Reyes Pérez

Ismael González Morales

Maikel Folch Vera

Raicel Poll Barbón

Vladimir García Escalante

Osmar Carrero Valdés

Léster Díaz Granado

Andrés García Ortega

Jenny Vázquez Rodríguez

mentor:

Onecio de León Viguera



CAMAGÜEY

Receptores:

Yenier Bello Velozo

Alexei Tanis García

Alier Noa Ramírez

Cuadro:

Loidel Chapellí Jiménez

Rafael Lastre Benítez

Yoel Pedroso Famot

Adalberto Ibarra Reyes

Yusquiel García Salazar

Yuriandi Nápoles Morales

Alexander Ayala Garcia

Jardineros:

Marino Luis Márquez

Jaime Vidal Jiménez

William Luis Campillo

Leslie Anderson Stephen

Norberto Concepción Mtnz.

Héctor Hernández Ramírez

Dariel Álvarez Camejo

Lanzadores:

Luis Campillo Hernández

Duany Basulto Herrera

Yankiel Flores Cuba

Vladimir Pérez Sarmientos

Omar Barrero Rivero

Yimmy Jaime Sáez

Arley Hernández Fernández

Vicyohandri Odelín

Yarosqui Pérez León

Yormany Socarrrás Rojas

Ricardo Estévez Pozo

Alberto Rodríguez Solano

Reiniel Barrueta Manzana

Elier Sánchez Quesada

Yoandri Quiala de Águeda

mentor:

Miguel Borroto González



LAS TUNAS

Receptores:

Yusisley Flores Cairo

Osdanis Montero Ferrales

Yannier Velázquez Ojeda

Ángel Osmel Leyva Jiménez

CUADRO:

Joan C. Pedroso Brooks

Yordan Calaña Pérez

Danel Castro Muñagorri

Yordanis Alarcón Tardío

Amaury Suárez Burquez

Alexander Guerrero Pérez

Yordan Batista Gisbert

Jardineros:

Osmani Urrutia Ramírez

Yordanis Scull Zayas

Andrés Quiala Herrera

Henry Urrutia Rodríguez

Jorge A. Jhonson Dixon

Yuniesky Larduet Dmguez.

Lanzadores:

Ubisney Bermúdez

Damichel González Belicer

Yoelkis Cruz Rondón

Alain Cortés Pupo

Yoendri Molina Escobar

Wilbert Verdecia Velázquez

Ramiro Rengo Ferral Toirac

Félix Núñez Hernández

Dael Mejías Naranjo

José R. Santana Suárez

Jesús Guerra Melgarejo

Gionni Boice Camacho

Alejandro E. Ugalde Hdez.

Roimer Yunier Báez Leyva

Yacel Navas Peña

mentor:

Ermidelio Urrutia Quiroga



GRUPO D

HOLGUÍN

Receptores:

Selme A. Angulo Fernández

Franklin Abelle Sánchez

Adrián Moya Raymundo

Henry Portuondo Leyva

CUADRO:

Lázaro R. Bent Anderson

Yunior Paumier Oliva

Yordan Martínez Bayard

Leris Aguilera Portilla

Roynier Varona Miranda

Juan E. Rondon Sarmientos

Jeison Pacheco Masso

Yordan Manduley Escalona

Jardineros:

Oscar del Rosario Bauta

Yeral W. Sánchez Sousa

Yoannis Quintana Ávila

Geidys Soler Hinojosa

Leandro Martínez Martínez

Lanzadores:

Luis M. Rodríguez Ricardo

Orelvis Ávila Marrero

Dimitri Camarero Pupo

Juan E. Pérez Figueredo

Sandro Quevedo López

Aroldis Chapman

Juan Alberto Cruz Leyva

Joselín Carralero Gutiérrez

Luis Ángel Gómez Gamez

Reinaldo Silva Ávila

Carlos Santiesteban Peña

Joel Rodríguez Boza

Yosvani Caballero

Javier Fernández Camejo

Félix Fuentes Romero

mentor:

Manuel Cabrera García



GRANMA

Receptores:

Luis A. Ferrales Jiménez

Carlos Barrabí García

Urmanis Guerra Vargas

Cuadro:

Víctor V. Bejerano Morales

Yordanis Samón

Ramón Tamayo Tamayo

Carlos Benítez Pérez

Rolando González Puentes

Adrián Moreno Rondón

Lázaro Cedeño González

Marcos Fonseca Alcea

Armando Rosales Bárzaga

Leandro Lamadrid Jorge

Jardineros:

Yoennis Céspedes Milanés

Alfredo Despaigne Rdguez.

Marcos Naranjo Aleaga

Arsenio Zamora Carvajal

Lanzadores:

Ciro Silvino Licea González

Manuel Vega Tamayo

Misael López Moreno

Yunier Domínguez Polo

Arisbel Vargas Alcolea

Yanier González Rodríguez

Alberto Soto La O

Lázaro Blanco Matos

Alexei Rodríguez Jorge

Manuel Bermúdez León

Alexei Milán Simón

Leandro Martínez Figueredo

Niover Piña Álvarez

José A. Peña Rodríguez

Julio Torres Serrano

mentor:

Marcos Fonseca López



SANTIAGO DE CUBA

Receptores:

Rolando Meriño Betancourt

Reinier Pérez Duany

Alexis Durruthi Barbán

Miguel Ángel Téllez Piña

Cuadro:

Pedro Poll Martínez

José Julio Ruiz Barzán

Edward Laverdeza Roque

Luis Miguel Navas

Héctor Olivera Amaro

Alexander Jorge Montero

Maikel Castellanos Brooks

Gorguet Martínez Michel

Adeiny Hechavarría Barrera

Jardineros:

Reutilio Hurtado Pimentel

Alexei Bell Quintero

Edise Silva La O

Ronnier Mustelier Bell

Lanzadores:

Norge Luis Vera Peralta

Ormari Romero Turcás

Danny Betancourt Chacón

Osmel Cintra Valverde

Félix Rivera Duharte

Alberto Bicet Labrada

Albert Carrión Delisle

Neorvis García García

Yaumier Sánchez

Leodanis Menéndez Castillo

Ángel Puig Trompeta

Reinier Roibal Martínez

Pedro Agüero Castillo

Félix Fuentes Ortiz

Denni Alá Martínez

mentor:

Antonio Pacheco Massó



GUANTÁNAMO

Receptores:

Roberto Borrero Magdariaga

Yusded Romero Leyva

Kenen Bailly Reyna

Eugenio Galbán Medina

cuadro:

Yoenny Sutheran

Yoilán Cerce Martínez

Alexis Laborde Calunga

Dainer Moreira Ramírez

Vismay Santos Martínez

Andrés de La Cruz Matos

Onelio Fondín Rodríguez

Islan Martínez Asin

Silvio Bravo Reyes

Jardineros:

Giorvis Duvergel Rojas

Roberqui Videaux Martinez

Roberto L. Delgado Bueno

Reinier Furet Delgado

Lanzadores:

Alexander Rodríguez Matos

Yulier Puente Riveri

Leyán Lores Noa

Maikel Preval Santillón

Yunier Colón Creme

Dalier Hinojosa Hernández

Frank Navarro Noa

Rudier Peña Claffor

Loavis Perán Simón

Yarlis Marcos Chedeviaux

Yoelkis Vera Domínguez

Yandri Lestapier Donka

Alexander Digurnay

Giorbis Perán Simón

Alexander Parra Betal

mentor:

Rolando Quebrun Pérez

---------------------

JG: GO Industriales! GO!

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Proud Grandpa / Un Abuelo Orgulloso


Lilly Grace Gonzalez

Born October 13, 2006

Chavez Vows to Beat 'Devil' In Upcoming Re-Election Bid


Nov. 26: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gives a speech during campaign rally in Caracas.

Fox News

Monday, November 27, 2006

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Sunday assured hundreds of thousands of supporters he would win a victory in his Dec. 3 re-election try — a win he inferred would be a home run off the “devil,” a term he uses to refer to President George W. Bush.

The leftist leader made the statements to a sea of red-clad Venezuelans who he has gained support from over the course of his presidency.

Chavez, who is heavily favored to beat opponent Manuel Rosales, told the crowd he would confront the "devil," and that his re-election would deliver a knockout punch to the U.S.

A close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Chavez also said he would dedicate his win to Cuba, noting the Dec. 3 ballot will be the same weekend that Cuba celebrates the 50th anniversary of the landing of the yacht that carried Castro and his armed band to Cuba to launch a guerrilla war.

"This victory on Dec. 3 ... we're going to dedicate it to the 50 years since the arrival of the revolutionary boat Granma led by Fidel Castro to the coast of Cuba," Chavez said to cheers. "Fidel, applause from Venezuela! Long live Cuba! Long live revolutionary Cuba!"

Chavez, a staunch opponent of Washington, considers the ailing Cuban leader a mentor but has often said the socialism he seeks for Venezuela does not aim to copy Cuba's system. His critics, including Rosales, accuse Chavez of moving toward Cuba-style authoritarianism.

Peering through a pair of binoculars down a major avenue packed with supporters wearing the color of his party, Chavez admired what he called the "red tide."

"Our goal is not to win" the election, Chavez said amid the thunder of fireworks. "We must outdo our previous triumphs. ... We are going to win in a way that is overwhelming, crushing."

Sunday's rally was the largest in support of Chavez since campaigning began in August and appeared to number in the hundreds of thousands. There were no official estimate by police.

His rally came a day after hundreds of thousands of Rosales supporters flooded a major highway in one of the largest anti-Chavez demonstrations in years.

Rosales, a state governor who favors a free-market economy, trailed Chavez by a wide margin in an AP-Ipsos poll conducted earlier this month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Homo Antecessor Discoverer in Cuba

Havana, Nov 27 (Prensa Latina) Spanish anthropologist Eudald Carbonell Roura, one of the Homo Antecessor discoverers, is visiting Cuba on Monday to exchange with the island colleagues and foster bilateral collaboration.

Invited by the Havana University s Anthropology Department, Carbonell Roura is due to give a magisterial lecture entitled "New Paradigms in Human Evolution" at the Biology Faculty of this institution, to analyze impact of human evolution discoveries.

Firstly collaborator and later co-director of the Sierra Atapuerca project, Eudald Carbonell has had the opportunity to participate in the most important human fossils discoveries in the history of Spanish science.

In 1997, he received the "Principe de Asturias" award for his scientific and technical research.

Are there nuts in Cuba?


This weird man had decided to make money out of his terrifying ugliness.

Flickr

Daniel Mauermann’s “Cuba People” photoset on Flickr includes many striking images, but none more striking than this.

The pierced guy is a poor handicapped who once decided to make good money putting as much needles in his head as possible. Every day he is standing in Calle Obispo, the main tourist street in Havana, and claims one dollar per photo. He is quite famous - guess why. I don’t know his name.

Riquezas ecológicas del Monte Cabaniguán


Monte Cabaniguán


cocodrilo acutus


Tiempo 21 Cuba

19 de octubre 2006, 9:30 pm

Rosa Velázquez Pérez
rosav@enet.cu

Las Tunas.- A unos 60 kilómetros de esta ciudad oriental de Las Tunas, en unas 14 mil 500 hectáreas, se ubica el Monte Cabaniguán, de singular belleza y gran variedad de la flora y la fauna.

Las lluvias de este año 2006 han vuelto intransitables los caminos desde el municipio de Jobabo, al sur de Las Tunas, pero penetrar en la zona donde radica el mayor refugio de fauna del cocodrilo americano o acutus, resulta verdaderamente fascinante.

En la sabana abundan las copernicias o palmeras de guano y más allá, en el estero, los manglares hospedan iguanas, cateyes, pájaros carpinteros, cocos, sevillas, garzas, pelícanos, torcazas, flamencos y todo un concierto de pequeños animales, desde cangrejos hasta lagartijas, que disfrutan el festín de la vida silvestre alejada de los depredadores.

A principio de los años 90 del pasado siglo Manuel Alonso Tabet, especialista principal, trabajaba con unos 12 hombres, hoy sin embargo su equipo de colaboradores es de apenas tres, encargados de manejar la fauna. “Todólogos” prefiere llamarlos, porque realizan todo lo necesario con alegría, en un medio agreste que solo es posible enfrentar en colectivo y con el corazón.

Es un trabajo duro en el área protegida, sin embargo Manuel considera que tienen el privilegio de recibir un salario por divertirse, en el contacto directo con los animales, aunque está consciente de que solo a quien le guste ese modo de vida puede soportar el aislamiento, los mosquitos y otros riesgos.

Hay que tener cocodrilo en sangre, dice Manuel, porque el mayor desafío es el manejo de esos reptiles, cuya población se ha ido recuperando hasta mantenerse estable.

Con la ayuda de estos hombres he vuelto a la zona poco más de diez años después de mi primera visita.

Fascinante es el viaje en lancha por el canal a través del estero colmado de manglares.

En las aguas tranquilas de mueven los peces, mientras en las ramas de los árboles se aprecian a simple vista las iguanas que esconden la cabeza con disimulo.

Un verdadero bálsamo para el espíritu es deslizarse por las quietas aguas interiores del estero hasta la salida al Golfo de Guacanayabo, donde radica la estación biológica Don Miguel Álvarez del Toro, dotada del equipamiento imprescindible para la observación y estudio de las diferentes especies que habitan en el refugio de fauna del Monte Cabaniguán.

Los atardeceres en el litoral combinan los claroscuros; las luces y las sombras en un sitio de privilegio, pero cuando comienza a caer la noche y todo está en aparente quietud, alrededor de la cabaña donde pernoctamos en la estación biológica, incontables animales de hábitos nocturnos se mueven alrededor.

Cocodrilo AcutusY unos ojillos brillantes a la luz del rayo de una linterna nos advierten desde la orilla la presencia cercana en el agua del mar del rey del humedal, el cocodrilo acutus, un reptil que ha logrado sobrevivir a siglos de depredación del hombre y que hoy constituye una de las más preciadas riquezas de la fauna en el sur de Las Tunas, en la zona perteneciente al humedal Delta del Cauto en el oriente de Cuba.

Cuba’s Largest Breeding Site of Crocodile Species

Periodico 26

By Rosa Velazquez Perez (from Las Tunas local radio station)

With the opening of a research center in the eastern Cuban province of Las Tunas, a significant step has been taken towards the protection of area reptiles; experts consider this locale to be the largest natural sanctuary of the acutus crocodile in this region.

The research facility consists of a cozy log cabin which serves as housing and the office. Nearby are the kitchen and dormitories.

Solar panels provide electricity for the night, something that humanizes the work of the women and men dedicated to working with animals of this coastal marine ecosystem.

Thanks to patient observation and monitoring of that site’s abundant fauna, it has been possible to register some 140 species, which include birds in danger of extinction, such as the Cuban parakeet, the dirty woodpecker, and several species of hawks and aquatic birds.

Pink flamingoes adorn the scenery with their color and beauty, while pelicans perch on bare tree trunks and branches as they wait for prey.

Nevertheless, the acutus crocodile is the predominant animal species. Its stable population is self-regulating according to the possibilities offered by the surrounding environment.

Manuel Alonso Tabet, the chief specialist, for over a decade has dedicated himself to the observation of those reptiles in the region. He says he was attracted by their ability to survive, despite the poaching to which they have been subjected for years.

The biologist has been able to confirm how this crocodile to changes in his habitat. It does not attack humans, except to defend its offspring. It is able to escape the nets, when hunters attempt to capture it. It follows effective strategies to protect its young during the 80-90 day period of incubation. Once the small crocodiles hatch, their parents take care of them by leading through the estuary and the swamp towards the lair built in the mangrove swamp.

The attention given to this protected area has permitted the study of the formation of crocodile nests, which is one of the main limitations for the reproduction of this species. In fact, out of the 14,500 hectares covered by the Las Tunas wetlands, only nine are fit for the female crocodiles to lay eggs.

At times researchers have built artificial dunes, to which the reptiles responded by immediately building new nests. This has allowed a better idea of the possibilities of managing the nesting process.

In addition, infrared cameras have been placed in the zone to register the nocturnal movements of these reptiles.

The natural riches of this site make it an attraction for Cuban and foreign specialists, as well as volunteer nature lovers from the United States, Mexico, Ireland, Great Britain, and Peru who spend their vacations working toward the preservation of flora and fauna.

Castro's bash raises questions

www.int.iol.co.za

November 27 2006 at 12:43PM

By Carlos Batista

Havana - Larger than life even while ailing in hospital, Fidel Castro is casting a big question mark over his 80th birthday celebrations this week, as all Cubans wonder if they will get to see the revolutionary leader in the flesh.

Its been four months since Castro relinquished power temporarily to his brother and defence minister, Raul Castro, and postponed his birthday celebrations from August 13 to December 2, the 50th anniversary of his communist revolution in Cuba.

Castro underwent intestinal surgery in late July and while statements and letters from him have been read out, including by his friend and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, he has only been seen on television and in photographs, and speculation is rampant about his health.

The noise has come to a fever pitch amid preparations for his birthday celebrations, which get officially under way on Tuesday and involve
1 500 guests from 76 countries, including presidents, ex-presidents, Nobel laureates, actors and musicians. The Cubans have not made the guest list public.

The week of festivities will climax on Saturday, when Cuba will hold its first military parade in a decade. Some 300 000 people are expected to march, as tanks, artillery and armoured transport units will be rolled out and fighter jets will soar overhead.

It is then that all eyes will turn to the main podium to see if the grey-bearded leader is present and, if he is, judge whether he is strong enough to ever retake the helm from his brother.

Cuban authorities have been short on details as his health is considered a state secret. They say Castro is recovering but have not said when he might return to lead the country full-time.

After Castro's last five-minute television appearance October 28, Cubans are divided about their elderly leader's future.

"I think he's feeling better and maybe will make a public appearance at the parade ... but getting back to government again, to his usual job, I don't know. Its difficult for me to see that," said a 52-year-old radio worker who wished to remain anonymous.

"Its over, he's not getting back on his feet ever again," a dissident whispered.

"The boss is totally fit," said a retired leader of the Revolution Defence Committee.

Most Cubans when questioned about Castro's health simply raise their eyebrows and shake their heads in a silent "who knows?"

The fact any information on Casto's health is considered a state secret does not encourage easy conversation and most people avoid the subject.

Even medical doctors when consulted are reluctant to give an opinion on Castro's health, pointing out that little has been reported on the complicated intestinal surgery he underwent on July 27, and that a proper diagnosis is practically impossible.

Within a month of the operation, Castro said he had lost 18,6 kilograms (41 pounds). His usual proud, stout frame of a statesman had given way in pictures to a frail, weak-looking elderly hospital patient.

"I don't know what he's got, but his face, his cheekbones tell me he's not a healthy man. You also have to keep in mind that he's 80; he may get very good medical attention, but he also has a very tough lifestyle," one doctor said.

Meanwhile, Cuban officials here and abroad insist that Castro is recovering, and his friend Chavez seems increasingly enthusiastic about seeing him return to power.

"I think that soon we'll see Fidel Castro's second mandate. The first one lasted 40 years, and very soon the second one will begin," Chavez said on Saturday after showing a group of followers a letter Castro sent him.

Castro has tried to calm the speculation surrounding him by saying that his recovery "will be long and not exempt of risk."

Regardless of Castro's appearance in Saturday's parade, political observers will more readily focus on this year's second and final session of Cuba's parliament in the last week of December.

That's when economic plans and the budget are set for the next year, and Castro's presence at that meeting would speak volumes about his intention to return to office.

Sapa-AFP

Cuba-embargo foes see hope in new Democratic-controlled Congress

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

By William E. Gibson and Vanessa Bauzá
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted November 27 2006

WASHINGTON -- For the past three years, Wendy Alonso has felt trapped by strict U.S. travel restrictions that have kept her from visiting her father, grandmothers and other relatives in Cuba.

Now, like other Cuban-Americans yearning to see their families, and farmers eager to sell goods to Cuba, Alonso hopes for brighter prospects when Democrats take control of Congress next year.

"It's all about the family," said Alonso, 18, of Tamarac. "I don't really care about anything else. I really do hope they change the law so at least people like me can go [to Cuba] every year."

Proponents of easing travel restrictions and other sanctions, emboldened by this month's congressional elections, foresee a more receptive climate for new policies to help Americans connect with the Cuban people. The Cuban-exile lobby, weakened by fragmentation and the departure of allies on Capitol Hill, is looking to President Bush to wield his veto power to protect the U.S. embargo.

"Our job will be tougher now," said U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, a champion of sanctions against Cuba. "The Cuban dictator is going to have strong allies in positions of power in Congress. But I am absolutely convinced that the cause of freedom in Cuba is going to prevail no matter what the efforts are to prolong the dictatorship." [JG Opinion: The Cuban people support their government]

All sides in the long-running U.S. debate say they want to encourage democracy and free markets in Cuba. While Diaz-Balart and many hard-line Cuban exiles argue that travel and commerce would prop up the Fidel Castro government, advocates for a new policy say American engagement would encourage reforms as Cuba heads toward a post-Castro transition.

"I think we will see some legislation come forward but not as much as we would like," said Alfredo Duran, president of the Cuban Committee for Democracy, a Miami-based group of moderate Cuban-Americans generally opposed to embargo policies.

Easing travel restrictions, especially for Cuban-American families, is the first step, he said.

"Cubans need to be part of the 21st century," Duran said, "and the people best able to give them that opportunity and take away their fears are their relatives."

Nobody expects removal of the U.S. embargo or establishment of normal relations with Cuba any time soon. But some House members, while preparing to visit Cuba next month, see a clear path for legislation that would loosen the rules on travel and remittances, particularly by Cuban-Americans who want to deliver goods to their families.

Further fueling prospects for change is a congressional investigation into questionable U.S. spending on programs intended to undermine the Cuban government, including money spent for such items as computer games, crab meat and leather coats. A study by the Government Accountability Office found mismanagement and lax oversight of portions of the $73 million paid to U.S. organizations from 1996 to 2005 to promote democracy in Cuba, most of it awarded without competitive bids.

Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., who will become chairman of the House International Relations Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, promised hearings as early as January on the findings.

Looking beyond the hearings, anti-embargo forces hope to eventually make it easier for farmers to sell food to Cuba and to develop academic exchanges.

And they plan to press legislation that would allow American companies to bid for contracts to drill for oil and gas along the Cuban coast. Cuba is forming contracts with companies from China, Canada and Europe to explore offshore energy sources.

"If there's going to be drilling in the Florida Straits 50 miles from the Keys, my guess is that Floridians and Americans in general would rather it be done by U.S. firms with better and safer technology," said Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who for years has tried to allow more American engagement with Cuba.

Flake and about a half-dozen fellow House members plan to meet with Cuban officials, U.S. diplomats and dissidents on a trip to Havana next month, partly to talk about obstacles to U.S. sales of food to Cuba.

"I think we have the planets aligned now," Flake said. "We see more support for change in South Florida. The GAO report has got to be intensely embarrassing to the Bush administration. You can add to that the new Congress and changes in Cuba, with Fidel unlikely to resume his position in full capacity."

Any change in U.S. policy is likely to come gradually, however.

Cuba-related legislation is nowhere near the top of the Democratic agenda, which focuses on the war in Iraq, raising the minimum wage, establishing ethics rules for Congress and making drug coverage affordable.

Presidents of both major parties have perpetuated the embargo, imposed in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy in the wake of the Cuban missile crisis.

In the 1990s, the Republican-run Congress sharply tightened the embargo to try to isolate Castro and to prevent President Bill Clinton from moving toward closer relations with Cuba. Under pressure from U.S. farmers and free traders, Congress did allow sales of food to the island.

President Bush has further tightened the embargo by sharply restricting travel and requiring advance payments for food sales. Cuban-Americans now can visit Cuba only once every three years, and the money they are allowed to spend each day has been cut from $164 to $50.

Francisco Montiel, a veteran of the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and self-described "hard-liner" who lives in West Palm Beach, said tough economic sanctions on Cuba are the only way to cripple Castro's hold on power. But Montiel, 72, said he knows recent Cuban immigrants are more likely to favor easing travel restrictions. "I'm afraid of the changes Congress might do to help Castro," he said.

Even some embargo supporters favor loosening of travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans. All sides of the American debate, however, say more fundamental change likely will not occur until Castro dies and Cuba reforms itself.

"In the absence of Cuba making major concessions -- releasing political prisoners, allowing a multiparty system and freedom of the press -- I don't see Congress making significant changes," said Frank Calzon, executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba, an advocacy group in Washington that supports sanctions. "Only then would Congress insist on some concessions from the Bush administration."

William E. Gibson can be reached at wgibson@sun-sentinel.com or 202-824-8256 in Washington.

John Lennon's anniversary to be day of 'healing'


www.nme.com

27.Nov.06

Widow Yoko Ono makes calls on fans

Yoko Ono has called for the anniversary of John Lennon's death to be "a day of worldwide healing".

Ono placed a full page advert in The New York Times on November 26 in which she urged fans to mark the anniversary by apologising to those who have suffered because of violence and war.

In the letter, dedicated to victims , she wrote: "Every year let's make December 8 the day to ask for forgiveness from those who suffered the insufferable.

"Know that the physical and mental abuse you have endured will have a lingering effect on our society... Know that the burden is ours."

The singer and artist, who signed the letter Yoko Ono Lennon, mentioned the way she dealt with murder of John Lennon on December 8, 1980, she said: "I don't know if I am ready yet to forgive the one who pulled the trigger...but healing is what is urgently needed now in the world.

"Let's wish strongly that one day we will be able to say that we healed ourselves and by healing ourselves we healed the world."

Lennon was shot outside his New York apartment by Mark Chapman, who is currently serving a 20 years to life sentence in prison.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cuban History and Patriotism Come Together

Havana, Nov 26 (Prensa Latina) Celebrations for the 80th birthday of Cuban President Fidel Castro organized by the Ecuadorian Guayasamin Foundation and the military parade for the 50th anniversary of Cuba´s Armed Forces will bring Cubans together this week.

History and patriotism will once again come together on the Island with those top level activities. Over 1,000 personalities from 64 countries will be in Cuba since late November until early December to honor Fidel Castro on his 80th birthday, an initiative by the foundation named after late Ecuadorian painter Osvaldo Guayasamin.

That institution offered to celebrate the Cuban leader´s birthday with a concert at the Havana Anti-imperialist Tribune, and an exhibition of Guayasamin´s works.

Adoum (1926, Ambato, Ecuador), former private secretary to Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was the first famous academic who arrived in Havana for the festivities.

The Vice President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yerodia Abdoulaye Ndombasi, is also among the guests who have already arrived in the last few hours.

In that context, the December 2 military parade will mark the 50 anniversary of the Armed Forces, founded that day in honor to the disembarkation of the Granma Yatch.

The parade will be preceded by the traditional walk by university students recalling the assassination of eight medicine students by Spanish colonialists on November 27, 1871.