Friday, August 31, 2007

Oliphant cartoon on Cuba



JG: Excellent cartoon! Way to go Mr. Oliphant! I particularly liked the little character saying: "Say Hello to Batista." But I don't think that Cuba will take them back.

A new start on Cuba

Guardian Unlimited

August 31, 2007 7:30 PM

By Ian Williams

Telling the truth about Washington's policy towards Cuba can be dangerous - but it may pay off for Barack Obama next year.

The news that Fidel Castro is betting on the Clinton-Obama dream ticket should be taken with a large Mohito. It makes you wonder which TV station denied to ordinary Cubans that he is relying on for his news.

Even so, Barack Obama is doing well by doing good with his pledge to reform the administration's counterproductive Cuba policy. It may annoy the hysterical anti-Castro faction in Miami, but lots of sane Americans, including many Cuban immigrants, will support someone who breaks with the inane and inept foreign policy that has got the US nowhere in Cuba and led it up the Tigris elsewhere.

Anyone who has compared the complexions of the diehard anti-Castro types in Miami to those of their former compatriots in Havana will get an inkling of an unspoken truth. There is no way the overwhelming white Cuban supporters of the Cuban American National Foundation would vote for a black candidate, short of him personally delivering the bearded head of Castro on a platter. And even then they would prefer to tip him and send back to the plantation.

Indeed, one of the secrets of the Castro's success is that Afro-Cubans are very well aware that the exiled would-be rulers in Miami are not exactly equal opportunities types. Their ancestors had maintained slavery until 1886 - and many aspects of segregation right up to the revolution. They would not be welcomed as liberators.

From Kennedy onwards, one would hardly accuse Democratic administrations of being soft on Castro - but the Southern strategy of not so subtly coded racism worked to get the former Confederacy voting for the transmuted party of Abraham Lincoln. It is highly likely that like many Anglo whites, the more conservative and anti-Castro Cubans support the Republicans for the same racial reasons more than any perceived Democratic softness towards Castro.

But for Hillary Clinton, this is not necessarily about votes. It was her husband, after all, who declared his support for Robert Torricelli's bill cutting trade with Cuba even further after a fundraiser organized by Cuban wannabee Caudillo Jorge Mas Canosa put $275,000 dollars in his campaign treasury back when he was running against George Bush senior in 1992. Mas Canosa knew what he was doing. Bush, who had hitherto pragmatically opposed it, promptly followed Clinton in supporting the amendment.

It would be unfair to accuse Clinton of strictly mercenary motives - although one has detected more than a hint of such in the past. She is a believer. Her hard line on Cuba should be no surprise, since her foreign policy is identical in most respects to the neocons, as her comments on Iraq, Israel and much of the rest of the globe will testify.

Even so, one can only hope that she is getting some big cheques and endorsements for her support. The embargo and the travel restrictions make no sense in diplomatic or humanitarian terms. If we are concerned about democracy and human rights there is a serious double standard being observed. Castro does not have a free press, does not allow free unions, and locks up some dissidents. Neither does China. Who was the last Congressperson to call for an embargo of China over executions and enforced abortions?

The embargo punishes ordinary people in Cuba, depriving them of contact with their families in the US, and of the financial and medical support they offered. Quite apart from damage to ordinary Cubans, who are after all are non-voting foreigners till they land in Florida and so do not count, the laws rob American citizens of their freedom to travel and their rights to contact with their family members.

In short, the restrictions are morally unjustified and are tactically inane -since they tend to prove the point of what Castro is saying about Uncle Sam's vindictive hostility.

And as Bill Clinton himself pointed out when he walked into an ambush with progressive TV host Amy Goodman, they give Castro an excuse for economic policies that contrive to produce food shortages on one of the most fertile islands in the Caribbean.

Obama has been attacked for his callow youth. But the role of the little boy exposing the lack of substance to the imperial wardrobe becomes him. He should keep it up. There is a lot more exposure needed.

___

JG: A very good article!

Jewish community in Cuba criticizes U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

August 31, 2007

Yesterday, El Duende, a Spanish radio commentator in Miami published a commentary about U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a prominent member of the Gang of 66.

Here is my translation of the commentary:

The Jewish community in Cuba has shown their dissatisfaction with U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who they point out as being responsible for the United States House of Representatives not approving recent legislation which would have eliminated the prohibitions of the Republican government of Bush which limit humanitarian travel to the island.

A group of Jews in the island is collecting signatures among the frequent attendees to the Patronato Hebreo of Havana, with the end of denouncing publicly the Florida Congresswoman, as an enemy of Cuban Jews due to her attitude in the Washington, D.C. Congress in respect to Cuba. Her vote against the elimination of humanitarian trips to Cuba is detrimental to Cuban Jews in the island and infringes on human rights and the unity of the family.

According to what is being expressed in the letter of Cuban Jews in Havana, Congresswoman Wassermann-Schultz was the one who campaigned among her Democratic Party colleagues for them to vote against the motion which would have eliminated the Cuba humanitarian trips restrictions. The motion was made by a colleague of the Congresswoma’s own party, Representative Charles Rangel. El Duende received the news about the letter from the Cuban Jews of Havana from an informant who said: If you want to know more about this matter ask Bernardo Benes, who must have a copy of this letter. They accuse the Congresswoman of receiving $10,000.00 from the extreme ultra right wingers of Miami to vote against the motion of Congressman Charles Rangel, which would have lifted the restrictions on trips to Cuba. That is called take and give me, and forget about the poor Jews in Cuba, because the money is in Miami.

Cuba ends 20-year boycott of UN human rights experts

Monsters and Critics

Aug 31, 2007, 10:18 GMT

Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Geneva - Cuba has invited a UN special rapporteur to visit the country for the first time in more than 20 years, it was revealed Friday.

Swiss sociologist Jean Ziegler, expert on the right to food, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in Geneva he would visit Cuba from October 28 to November 6 as part of a team of five.

Ziegler said he expected to meet 'all the key people' though he had not yet finalised the details.

Cuba has refused access to UN human rights workers since the mid-1980s, when it started being regularly censured by the former UN Human Rights Commission and was placed on a list of countries under permanent observation.

The apparent shift in policy follows its removal from the list, along with Belarus, by the new Human Rights Council earlier this year and the gesture has been taken also as a sign of political change within Cuba.

'I welcome the invitation. It is a sign that Cuba is interested in opening a dialogue with the Human Rights Council,' said Ziegler. It is expected other experts could follow such as the rapporteur on health.

Cuba KO’s University of Miami baseball team in Italy 11-1

August 31, 2007

Cuba’s youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde, reported today that the Cuban baseball team which is representing the island-nation in the international tournament II Annual Week of Baseball in Italy defeated the University of Miami team by the score of 11-1. It was Cuba’s fourth consecutive victory in the Italian tournament.

The Cuban baseball team is managed by Lourdes Gourriel, a major Cuban star on his day, and father of Yuliesky and Yuniesky, who are carrying on the family tradition.

Totals: Cuba, 11 runs, 12 hits, 0 Errors; Miami 1 Run, 6 hits, 7 Errors.

The Cuban ten was composed of the following players: Ronnier Mustelier (lf); Yadir Mujica (ss); Danel Castro (2b); Rolando Meriño (c); Pedro Poll (1b); Isaac Martínez (dh); Juan C. Linares (rf); Yunior Paumier (3b); Yunieski Gourriel (cf) y Maicel Díaz (p).

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Out of jail

The Economist

Cuba's political prisoners

Aug 30th 2007 | HAVANA AND MIAMI
From The Economist print edition

But far from free

IN AS many weeks, three political prisoners have been freed in Cuba, including the longest-serving of them, Francisco Chaviano, after 13 years in jail. He had been accused in 1994 of revealing state secrets during his research into the lives and deaths of balseros, the people who—especially in the early 1990s—fled from Cuba on makeshift rafts.

Much has changed on the island since Mr Chaviano went inside. The economic depression which prompted the flight of the balseros has eased somewhat. Oil-rich Venezuela under Hugo Chávez has replaced the Soviet Union as the country's benefactor. And ill health caused Fidel Castro to depart the public stage a year ago, leaving his brother Raúl to run the country. Indeed, for the past fortnight opposition circles in Miami have again been gripped by rumours of Fidel's death. Although no new images of him have been published since early June, newspaper articles continue to be published under his name and officials insist he continues to convalesce.

Fidel's view of dissenters was uncomplicated: all were “mercenaries”, in the pay of the United States. And Raúl? Cuban human-rights groups report that in the past year the number of political prisoners held in Cuban jails has fallen by 20%, to around 240. There have also been fewer government-organised protests outside the homes of dissidents.

Raúl Castro is understood to be far more open to the idea of debate than his brother. Visibly irritated by the congratulatory tone of many Communist Party meetings, he has called on Cubans to discuss matters “fearlessly”. Those close to him say he genuinely likes to hear different views and opinions.

But Cuban dissidents are not cheering yet. They say the government is merely being more selective. Many of those released had served all or most of their sentences, and they remain on parole. Still languishing inside various jails are 61 of the 75 dissidents who were arrested in March 2003 during an unprecedented clampdown on political opponents. Many of them helped co-ordinate the Varela project, a grassroots petition calling for a referendum on political freedoms. The project's organiser, Oswaldo Payá, appealed to Raúl Castro recently to free all political prisoners in Cuba and to allow multi-party elections. The government, said Mr Payá, had punished people enough for holding different political opinions.

But officials prefer to talk about the plight of five Cuban secret agents arrested in Miami in 1998 and serving sentences of 15 years to life in American jails. The government says they are political prisoners since they were sent to defend the island by infiltrating exile terrorist groups, and not to spy on the American government. This month their lawyers filed the latest of several appeals in an Atlanta court.

Whatever Raúl Castro might think of demands to free his government's own prisoners, he has his hands full trying to bring modest reform to a sclerotic economy. As long as Fidel is alive and hovering in the background, there will be no political change in Cuba.

Mother Talks Of Girl's Love For Her Father In Cuba


Elena Perez. (File) CBS


Rafael Izquierdo, the father of a four-year-old girl whom he wants to take back to Cuba. (File) CBS

CBS News

Aug 30, 2007 2:02 pm US/Central

(CBS) MIAMI The mother of a 4-year old girl at the center of an international custody dispute in Miami says she sent photos of the child to her father in Cuba and that the girl always appeared overjoyed when her dad's name was mentioned.

In one photo, the girl is holding a balloon that said "I Love you, Daddy."

Elena Perez testified Thursday that she bought the balloon after asking the girl what she wanted to say to her father. The testimony was the strongest yet from Perez to bolster Rafael Izquierdo's claim that the girl should return with him to the communist island.

Florida child welfare officials are instead backing the girl's foster parents who have adopted the girl's half brother and want to adopt her.

Perez came with the children to the U.S in 2005 but lost custody of them. The Department of Children and Families investigated charges that she suffered mental illness that made her an unfit parent.

The department alleges Izquierdo failed to protect his daughter from her mother's mood swings and sometimes violent behavior, and should not be able to return to Cuba with her.

Tuesday, the girl’s 13-year-old brother testified that both he and his sister had been the victims of frequent and often harsh abuse from Perez, who suffered from emotional outbursts which became significantly more severe moving to the U.S.

The boy said he told Izquierdo at least once about the abuse, but the girl's father never did anything about it. Izquierdo told reporters after the Tuesday hearing that the boy never told him about the abuse.

Cuban Film Going In for Goya and Oscar Awards Nominations

Radio Cadena Agramonte

Havana, Aug 30.- The Cuban film 'La Edad de la peseta' (The Silly Age) is being considered by specialists to be nominated for the Spanish Goya Award and the American Oscars.

The Cuban-Spanish-Venezuelan coproduction, directed by Pavel Giroud, could be included among the four finalists in the category of Best Iberoamerican Production for the 22nd edition of the Goya Awards and among the five nominees in the category of Non-English Speaking Film of the 80th edition of the Oscar Awards.

Three Cuban films have won the Goya Award in this category in the past. They were 'La Bella del Alhambra' (The Beauty of Alhambra) in 1989, 'Fresa y Chocolate' (Strawberry and Chocolate) in 1993 and 'La Vida Es Silbar' (Life Is Whistling) in 1999.

In the meantime, only 'Fresa y Chocolate' has been nominated for the Oscars, in 1994, while 'Un Hombre de Exito' (A Man of Success) was considered for nomination in 1987.

The nominees of the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be announced on January 22nd, 2008, and the Awards Ceremony is scheduled for February 24th.

'La Edad de la Peseta' has received several awards in international film festivals in Havana, Cartagena, Lima, and San Francisco, among others.(ACN)

Cuba Represented at International Folkdance Festival in Dijon


Radio Cadena Agramnote

Camagüey, Aug 30.- The Ensemble Maraguan, from the eastern province of Camaguey, is representing Cuba once again at the Fête de la Vigne (Festivals of the Vine), in the French city of Dijon, that started on Monday and will last until Sunday.

The ensemble founded in 1981 and conducted by engineer Fernando Medrano Vireya won the silver medal of this international festival in 2003.

This Olympiad of the international folklore was founded in the summer of 1946 once the World War II ended. In its early editions, the Festival of Dijon was the place where the folk groups of the region of Burgundy gathered together to spice the summer up in town during the grape harvest.

Over the last 60 years, this contest evolved to one of the most important cultural and tourist events in the world, encouraging the continuity of all forms of folkloric expressions.

Because of Maraguán’s high artistic and technical levels, the Cuban youngsters have gained credit in the circuit of European festivals that cheer with songs and dances the hottest season of the year.

Recently the ensemble that represents the westernmost island of the Caribbean performed in the World Folk Festival of Plozebet and in the 50th edition of the Festival of Confolens, also in France.(Gualveris Rosales Sánchez)

There is a gullible person born every minute!

Mambi Watch has a very interesting post titled He said what? regarding the gullibility of people who read anti-Castro blogs. Highly recommended!

Reach out to Cuba

Orlando Sentinel

EDITORIAL

Our position: At least Barack Obama is willing to admit the embargo isn't working. Anyone else?

August 23, 2007

The easy out in dealing with Cuba is to throw up an ideological wall and isolate yourself from practical politics.

That's pretty much been the standard approach from the United States for almost 50 years. Sadly, hardships continue for Cubans while the U.S. and Cuba spar like a dysfunctional odd couple.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama offers a different approach, and a sensible one:

Reach out to Cuba to "advance peaceful political and economic reform on the island." The plan calls for concessions on both sides.

It not only would empower the people of Cuba, but also allow the U.S. to have better leverage once Fidel Castro yields power. And that, based on growing speculation about his failing health, may have already happened.

It's similar to the situation in Eastern Europe. Blue jeans and rock and roll helped bring down the Berlin Wall -- it wasn't just political agendas.

For Cubans, easing travel restrictions and allowing exiles to send more money to needy relatives weakens Castro's power base. It makes Cubans less dependent on a regime that has put clamps on personal freedom, and builds the U.S. up as a noble ally of the people. It does nada for Castro.

Mr. Obama offers a dramatic philosophical shift -- away from the hard-line Bush administration, most Republican contenders, and even Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton.

He is taking on an issue that everyone is running away from.

We've seen how well the status quo has worked for five decades.

DeFede: DCF Trashes Dad In Cuba Custody Case

CBS News

Jim DeFede
Reporting

(CBS4) MIAMI For the past few days I've been sitting in a courtroom on the sixth floor of the Dade County Courthouse, where the fate of a four year old girl will ultimately be decided. Should she be returned to her Cuban father, or should she be allowed to stay with the foster parents who have been caring for her for the past year?

Sitting in that courtroom though, I have been outraged by the arguments the state has made to try and destroy this father's credibility.

You see that's the state's intent. They want to keep this child here in the United States; they want to keep this child with her foster parents and the only way to do that is to trash the father. One of the arguments the state had the nerve--the gall--to make in court was the very fact that this father came from Cuba to the United States to try and fight for his daughter. That in itself constitutes abuse.

Think about that for a second: A father fighting for his daughter constitutes abuse.

They even argued—get this—that because he did not send her a birthday card on her birthday, that he abandoned her.

Take note of that, parents. In the state of Florida, if you don't happen to send your child a birthday card on his or her birthday, you've abandoned your child in the State of Florida's eyes.

The Department of Children and Families should think long and hard about how they are handling this case.

It's been shameful.

I don't blame the foster parents, the Cubases—for wanting to keep this child. I don't blame the father wanting his child back. They are now emotionally tied to the case, but it's the State that should have been more objective.

Because ultimately, as we saw with Elian Gonzalez, these cases usually end with the father getting custody of the child because the law presumes that a parent has rights toward his or her child.

The State needs to do a much better job, because as I said before, there will be no winners in this case, only losers, and that's the saddest part of all.

US Smiles at Terrorists IF Anti-Cuba

Havana, Aug 29 (Prensa Latina) While five Cubans are unfairly imprisoned for infiltrating a terrorist network to which Robert Ferro belongs, Ferro, arrested in California with the largest private arsenal ever seized in the US, was only sentenced to five years, some months and a fine.

In his article "Indulgent sentence for another anti-Cuban terrorist," Granma newspaper reports that Ferro admitted being part of the Miami Alpha terrorist group and to have accumulated 1,600 weapons to organize actions against Cuba, however he was not accused of terrorism.

Ferro's sentence could be reduced before being served, while the fine for this entrepreneur is $75,000.

Pronounced at the end of summer, a period favoring media silence, the sentence, scandalous when compared with that of the Cuban Five unjustly imprisoned, got short shrift from US press.

Ben Linder a True US Ambassador

By Circles Robinson

An unofficial US Ambassador by the name of Benjamin Linder was buried 20 years ago in the city of Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

A very talented young person, Ben had two professions: one, as a professional clown and the other, as a mechanical engineer. Both were in need in war-torn Nicaragua.

Linder was killed at the age of 27, on April 28, 1987. His assassins were soldiers of the Reagan administration’s “Contra” war, who reined terror on the impoverished Central American country for having overthrown the brutal and corrupt US-backed Somoza dictatorship.

CBS News correspondent Dan Rather said at the time: “This wasn’t just another death in a war that has claimed thousands of Nicaraguans. This was an American who was killed with weapons paid for with American tax dollars. The bitter irony of Benjamin Linder’s death is that he went to Nicaragua to build-up what his own country’s dollars paid to destroy —and ended up a victim of the destruction.”

Despite being tainted by the Iran-Contra scandal involving weapons and drug trafficking, some of the same Cold War hawks from the Reagan years —led by John Negroponte, Elliot Abrams, Otto Reich and John Poindexter— have been back in the driver’s seat during the administration of George W. Bush.

In an article published earlier this month, Ben’s mother Elizabeth said: “Its’ foreign policy that killed Ben and thousands of Nicaraguans, and it’s happening again. I think of Ben’s death ever time I see another death.”

Well attended events commemorating Ben’s life were held over the weekend in Portland, Oregon, where his family lives, and Berkeley, California, as well as in Managua, Matagalpa and San Jose de Bocay, Nicaragua.

A BADLY NEEDED ROLE MODEL

Linder was one of those people who cared more about humanity than creature comforts or personal wealth. He paid the ultimate price for supporting a cause he believed in thousands of miles away from home.

During his four years in Nicaragua, Ben, dressed in his clown uniform, used his juggling and unicycle skill to promote health campaigns. He also helped design a mini-hydroelectric plant for El Cua, a mainly coffee farming community without electricity.

The event that most comes to mind in my occasional encounters with Ben was the Xmas before his murder. He had hitched a ride with a group of leaders from a Nicaraguan farmer’s organization including its President Francisco Javier Saenz (1939-96) to El Cua, nestled in a valley where the “Contras” had terrorized the local population.

The trip was on Christmas Eve and Ben was looking forward to his late night chicken dinner, a custom in Nicaragua. Many things were scarce in the blockaded country but the best was always served on December 24th and New Years Eve.

As he got out of the jeep, elated that we finally arrived after a grueling trip, Ben invited our group to come by the following morning and have a look at the hydroelectric plant he helped design.

I can still see the shine in his eyes as he gave us a detailed explanation and cranked up the turbine. I remember upon leaving that Saenz, my boss, commented: “Benjamin has certainly realized himself.”

Four months later when Linder and two Nicaraguan co-workers were killed, the threesome were working on another small scale hydroelectric plant design at a dam site a few kilometers from the isolated town of San Jose Bocay, a couple hours up the dirt road from El Cua.

The Ben Linder Association of Rural Development Workers went on to finish that project and several others. They receive support from the Green Empowerment organization based in Portland, Oregon (www.greenempowerment.org).

At a time when the US has lost considerable prestige abroad it could sure use a whole lot of Benjamin Linder’s to turn things around.

Laughter and light… not a bad combination!

For readers wishing to learn more about Benjamin Linder I recommend the book “The Death of Ben Linder” by Joan Kruckewitt and the documentary “They can cut all the flowers, but they can not stop the spring.”

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Obama: Bush and FEMA incompetent when Katrina hit

A house built on a strong foundation should withstand floods and high winds.

A government built on a strong foundation of solidarity and common purpose should aid its citizens when their houses are not strong enough.

Two years ago, Hurricane Katrina revealed that our federal emergency response system and the leadership responsible for it lacked a strong foundation.

As thousands drowned and lost their homes, President Bush and FEMA responded incompetently to this tragedy.

Over the weeks and months that followed, things at FEMA didn't get much better. There's been a lot of squabbling, but no one has stepped up to take responsibility.

Nonetheless, New Orleans and other communities on the Gulf Coast are making a recovery -- small businesses, neighborhoods, and churches are coming back to life thanks to individuals and organizations taking matters into their own hands. In the absence of proper support from the federal government, Americans have reached out to one another and begun the work that the Bush administration has neglected.

Those working on the recovery have honored a principle our government has largely forgotten under President Bush: I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper.

Yet even for patient and generous people, the burdens continue to be overwhelming.

There are countless problems remaining to be solved: shuttered schools and hospitals, abandoned houses, faulty levees, and more empty promises from Washington.

New Orleans and the whole Gulf Coast face huge challenges ahead. But rebuilding is also an opportunity.

In rebuilding, we’ve got a chance to create something stronger -- a foundation that can serve as the rock on which dreams are founded.

Our focus should be on strengthening the fundamental elements any community needs to thrive: maintaining local law and order, bringing doctors and nurses back to provide reliable healthcare, and attracting top teachers to restore schools that will give our children the chance to succeed.

But to do this we must change our leadership.

These failures expose an arrogance in our current leaders -- a detachment from the lives of real people and an indifference to the consequences for the least fortunate -- that cannot continue.

And make no mistake, the failures of the Bush administration were not just failures of response. They were the end result of policies that have eroded our country's foundation and weakened our commitment to one another.

To rebuild in the wake of Katrina and get our country back on course, we need to renew our commitment to one another. We need to return to this core principle of our great nation by honoring our responsibility to our fellow citizens.

I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper. And that foundation is what makes all of us stronger.

Barack Obama

Cuba Forecast

www.economist.com

Aug 27th 2007

From the Economist Intelligence Unit
Source: Country Forecast

It now seems unlikely that the president, Fidel Castro, will return to office. Since he handed over "temporarily" to his brother and vice-president, Raul, in July 2006, the process of succession has taken place. Raul Castro has settled into his role as acting president, reducing political risk in the event of Fidel Castro’s death. The Economist Intelligence Unit expects evolutionary, rather than sudden, political and economic change within the existing political system. Hostile relations with the US will persist, but there is a growing possibility of improvement after 2008. The Banco Central de Cuba (BCC, the Central Bank) will maintain discipline in macroeconomic management but liberalising reforms will be slow. GDP growth will decelerate to 7% in 2007 and 5.7% in 2008. Investment will drive growth, supported by rising household spending. Construction, infrastructure and manufacturing will expand, and there will be some recovery in agriculture. The current account will show a small deficit, which will be matched by net direct investment and debt financing flows.

Key changes from last update:

Political outlook

Raul Castro's speech on the July 26th confirmed the change in style of leadership. It was relatively short, and reiterated the priority being given to improvements in productivity. It also repeated the "olive branch" offered to the US, but we do not expect US-Cuban relations to improve until after 2008.

Economic policy outlook

Public statements by the acting president and other officials confirm a policy of gradual adjustment. In the coming year a greater availability of consumer goods will be coupled with a series of reforms of official prices, while a series of commissions examine more far-reaching proposals.

Economic forecast

The cost of imports has been higher than expected in 2007, and may have contributed to recent trimming of state investment plans. Our GDP growth forecast has been cut slightly, from 7.1% to 7%, in the light of this adjustment.

The Neighborhood Bully

The Cuba embargo has had the opposite effect of what the United States wanted. It has united the Cuban people for 48+ years against the hegemonic designs of the U.S. government, who continues to act like the typical neighborhood bully. You would think that a sane and intelligent person would have realized that a long time ago.

First Medal for Cuba at IAAF World Championships

Cuban News Agency

Havana, August 29 (acn) Discus thrower Yarelis Barrios gave Cuba its first medal during the 11th World Championships of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that are currently underway in Osaka, Japan.

Barrios registered a personal best mark of 63.90 meters and finished only behind German veteran Franka Dietzsch who won the event with 66.61 and Russian Darya Pischalnikova, who took the silver medal with 65.78.

The 24-year-old Cuban athlete thus completes a very successful year as she won the Pan American Games last July in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and also the World University Games last month.

Cuba to skip Chicago boxing championship

Reuters, South Africa

Wed 29 Aug 2007, 14:33 GMT

HAVANA (Reuters) - Powerhouse Cuba has pulled out of the amateur World Boxing Championship in Chicago in October to avoid new defections by its boxers, the Cuban Boxing Federation said on Wednesday.

Two of its top boxers, two-time bantamweight Olympic champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and reigning amateur welterweight world champion Erislandy Lara, deserted during the Pan-American Games in Brazil last month.

Their attempted defection to Germany ended in arrest and repatriation. Cuban leader Fidel Castro said they would not box again for Cuba and accused the United States of stealing Cuba's top athletes.

In December, Cuba lost three Olympic boxing champions, Yan Barthelemy, Yuriolkis Gamboa and Odlanier Solis, who are now boxing professionally on contracts with German company Arena Box Promotion.

"We will not expose a Cuban team again to the excesses and provocations that in this case would occur in Chicago, in U.S. territory, an ideal location for merchants and traffickers to act freely with the complicity of U.S. authorities," the Cuban federation said in a statement.

The AIBA World Boxing Championship, from October 17 to November 1 in Chicago, is one of three qualifiers for the 2008 Olympics.

The Cuban federation said it was optimistic that it will qualify its boxing team for the Beijing Games.

For years, some of Cuba's top baseball players -- such as Jose Contreras and Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez -- have defected to the United States, drawn by million-dollar deals in the major leagues, a far cry from the low wages of state-run amateur sport in Cuba.

More recently, Cuba's legendary boxing talent has been hit by defections.

Fidel Castro, who has not appeared in public for 13 months due to illness, said three weeks ago that Cuba was studying its withdrawal from the Chicago championship to avoid defections.

"Imagine all the sharks of the Mafia wanting fresh meat," he wrote in a column. "I must tell them: we are not keen on delivering it to their doorstep."

___

JG: The right decision. Dignity against greed!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cuban exile sentenced for stash of ammo, guns in Upland hom

www.sfgate.com

Monday, August 27, 2007

Associated Press

17:42 PDT Riverside, Calif. (AP) --

A Cuban exile who claimed that he stashed more than 1,500 guns and other weapons in his home as part of a plan to overthrow Fidel Castro was sentenced Monday to more than five years in federal prison, despite pleas for leniency.

Robert Ferro, 64, was also fined $75,000 at the hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips. Ferro, of Upland, pleaded guilty to a single count of weapons possession earlier this year after allegedly claiming that he was storing the weapons with the knowledge of Alpha 66, a Florida-based paramilitary group that for decades has plotted to overthrow the Cuban leader.

A spokesman for Alpha 66 has denied that Ferro was a member of that group.

Police who raided Ferro's home in April 2006 discovered 35 machine guns, 130 silencers, a live hand grenade, a rocket launcher and 89,000 rounds of ammunition concealed in false walls, dummy bookshelves and hidden rooms.

Ferro, a retired Army Special Forces officer, was prohibited from owning the weapons because of a prior conviction for possession of explosives on a Pomona chicken ranch. Federal authorities alleged that Ferro was running a training camp for Mexican nationals to overthrow Castro when they found the five pounds of C-4 explosives.

Ferro's current attorneys had asked for a sentence of less than two years because of Ferro's diabetes and a heart condition. In a filing with the judge, they said that Ferro would likely die within several years because of his poor health.

They also argued that Ferro was a gun collector and that at least 30 of the guns in the cache were "clearly antiques."

A phone message for his attorney, Christopher D. Johnson, was not immediately returned Monday.

Fidel Castro: Submission to Imperial Politics

Escambray

Of all the presidents of the United States, and those who aspire to that office, I only met one who, for ethical-religious reasons, was not an accomplice to the brutal terrorism against Cuba: James Carter. That assumes, of course, another President who forbade that United States officials should be used to assassinate Cuban leaders. That was the case of Gerald Ford who replaced Nixon after the Watergate scandal. Given his irregular manner of ascending to the office, one might characterize him as a symbolic President.

It is to the illustrious President Eisenhower, not in the least opposed to anti-Cuban terrorism but rather its initiator, that we owe thanks for at least providing a definition of the industrial-military complex which today, with its insatiable and incurable voracity, makes up the motor that is driving the human species to its current crisis. More than three billion years have gone by since planet Earth saw the first forms of life springing up.

One day, Che [Guevara] and I went to play golf. He had been a caddie once to earn some money in his spare time; I, on the other hand, knew absolutely nothing about this expensive sport. The United States government had already decreed the suspension and the redistribution of Cuba's sugar quota, after the Revolution had passed the Agrarian Reform Law. The golf game was a photo opportunity. The real purpose was to make fun of Eisenhower.

In the United States, you can have a minimum of votes and still become President. That is what happened to Bush. Having a majority of electoral votes and losing the Presidency is what happened to Gore. For that reason, the State of Florida is the prize everyone aspires to, because of the presidential votes it provides. In the case of Bush, an electoral fraud was also needed; for this, the first Cuban emigrants, who were the Batista supporters and the bourgeois, were best masters.

Clinton is not excluded from all of this, neither is the Democratic Party's candidate. The Helms-Burton Act was passed with his support, with a ready-made excuse: the downing of Brothers to the Rescue planes, those which on more than one occasion had flown over the city of Havana and which had violated Cuban territory dozens of times. The order to fend off flights over the Capital had been given to the Cuban Air Force just weeks earlier.

I must tell you that, close to that episode, Congressman Bill Richardson had arrived on a visit to Cuba on January 19, 1996. As usual, he brought with him petitions asking that several counter-revolutionaries be released from prison. We explained to him that we were by now tired of receiving such petitions, and I talked to him about what was happening with the Brothers to the Rescue flights. I also talked to him about the unfulfilled promises regarding the blockade. Richardson returned a few days later, on the 10th of February, and very earnestly told me, to the best of my recollection, the following: "That will not be happening again; the President has ordered those flights to be suspended".

In those days, I believed that orders issued by the President of the United States would be carried out. The planes were brought down on February 24, some days after the reply. The New Yorker Magazine supplies details about that meeting with Richardson.

Apparently, Clinton gave the order to suspend those flights, but nobody paid any attention to it. It was an election year, and he took advantage of that excuse to invite the Foundation leaders over and to sign that criminal Act, with the approval of all.

Following the migratory crisis of 1994, we learned that Carter wanted to do something to find a solution. Clinton didn't accept it and he called Salinas de Gortari, the President of Mexico. Cuba had been the last nation to recognize his electoral victory. He had contacted him on his inauguration as the new President of Mexico.

Salinas informed me by phone of Clinton's decision to find a satisfactory solution, and in turn he was asked for his cooperation in this effort. That was how an agreement was reached in principle. That agreement with Clinton included the idea of putting an end to the economic blockade. The only witness we could count on was Salinas. Clinton had thus left out Carter. Cuba was not able to decide who the mediator would be. Salinas relates this episode accurately. Anyone with an interest can read about it in his books.

Clinton was really kind when we informally crossed paths at a UN meeting attended by many heads of state. Moreover, he was friendly, as well as intelligent, in demanding adherence to the law in the case of the kidnapped boy, when he was rescued by special federal agents sent from Washington.

The candidates are now immersed in the Florida adventure: Hillary, the Clinton successor; Obama, the popular African American candidate and several of the other 16 who, up until the present, have proposed their candidacy in both parties, with the exception of Republican Congressman Ronald Ernest Paul and the former Democratic Senator from Alaska, Maurice Robert Gravel, and the other three Democrats Dennis Kucinich, Christopher Dodd and Bill Richardson.

I don't know what Carter said during his race to the White House. Whatever his position was, I was right when I guessed that his election could avoid a holocaust for the people of Panama, and that is just what I said to Torrijos. He established the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba and promoted an agreement about jurisdictional maritime limits. The circumstances surrounding his term prevented him from taking things any further and, in my opinion he embarked on several imperial adventures.

Today, talk is about the seemingly invincible ticket that might be created with Hillary for President and Obama for Vice President. Both of them feel the sacred duty of demanding "a democratic government in Cuba". They are not making politics: they are playing a game of cards on a Sunday afternoon.

The media declares that this would be essential, unless Gore decides to run. I don't think he will do so; better than anyone, he knows about the kind of catastrophe that awaits humanity if it continues along its current course. When he was a candidate, he of course committed the error of yearning for "a democratic Cuba".

Enough of tales and nostalgia. This is written simply to increase the conscience of the Cuban people.

Fidel Castro Ruz

August 27, 2007.

4:56 p.m.

Fight Over Cuban Girl Reaches Fla. Court

The Washington Post

By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ
The Associated Press
Monday, August 27, 2007; 6:04 PM

MIAMI -- A judge hearing arguments in a custody case over a 4-year-old Cuban girl criticized state officials Monday for saying she would be irreparably damaged simply by being taken from her foster family and returned to her father in her communist home country.

Cuban farmer Rafael Izquierdo is fighting his daughter's wealthy foster parents for custody. He allowed the girl's mother to take her to the U.S., but the woman later attempted suicide and allowed the state to take custody of the child.

Rebecca Kapusta, an attorney for Florida's Department of Children & Families, argued that the girl should be allowed to remain with former baseball agent Joe Cubas and his wife, and that the Cuban-American couple be allowed to begin adoption proceedings.

"Our experts have told the father to remove this young girl at this young age would result in permanent injury and she would never recover," Kapusta told Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri B. Cohen.

Cohen responded, "What you're trying to do is say that if a father wants to remove his child from placement ... that if a father does that or a mother, that constitutes prospective abuse? I have never seen anything like this in all of my years of doing dependency."

The judge also told Kapusta, "We know that there were extenuating circumstances because of what goes on between Cuba and the United States. I know that and you know that."

Izquierdo, 32, is seeking to return the girl to Cuba. The DCF maintains that he abandoned the girl by allowing her to come to the U.S., didn't provide child support and didn't send birthday or holiday cards.

Izquierdo's attorney, Ira Kurzban, said he let his former girlfriend, Elena Perez, take their daughter to the U.S. because he wanted the girl to have a better life, and that he could not have predicted that Perez would have a breakdown.

Kurzban said it would have been impossible for Izquierdo to send child support given the high exchange rate _ Izquierdo had the equivalent of $400 in the bank _ and the difficulty in getting money out of Cuba.

The department also says Izquierdo didn't immediately come to claim her after her mother was hospitalized, but the judge pointed out that it took months for the U.S. to issue Izquierdo a visa.

Kurzban said that shortly after Izquierdo learned that Perez had lost custody of their daughter, "he got a lawyer and said, 'I want my child back.'"

Cohen allowed the trial to go forward Tuesday on allegations that Izquierdo failed to protect his daughter by allowing her to come to the U.S. and that he abandoned her once she was here. She warned state officials, however, that their evidence seemed flimsy.

The custody fight has been much less sensational than the international battle over Elian, the Cuban boy who was 5 when he was found at sea after his mother drowned during an attempt to reach the U.S. in 1999. He ultimately was returned to Cuba with his father after U.S. agents seized the boy from a Miami home at gunpoint.

But the ghost of the Elian case hung over the courtroom Monday. The judge who initially put the girl in foster care had been an attorney for Elian's Miami family and Cubas was among community leaders who visited the boy and brought him gifts.

Izquierdo says he wants to bring his daughter back to his family home in the central Cuban village of Cabaiguan, where he lives with his parents, wife and their 7-year-old daughter.

"Her room is ready with and her bed and her little toys," he said.

His former girlfriend won the visa lottery to come to the U.S. with her son and daughter in 2004. In transcripts from earlier hearings Cohen read in court Monday, Perez said that her husband abandoned her after she arrived in the U.S. and she couldn't find enough help from relatives and agencies.

Perez has told authorities she wants her daughter returned to Izquierdo, but she had allowed the Cubases to adopt the girl's half brother.

Cubas said the girl, who calls him "Papi," shouldn't be separated from her brother and doesn't want to go back to Cuba. Both sides have been keeping the girl's name a secret.

Izquierdo's attorney accused DCF of setting up his client by demanding he appear in person _ thus ensuring the young girl would spend months with her foster family and become bonded to them.

Cubas, 46, has represented the New York Mets' Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez and several other defecting Cuban ball players. Cubas became a controversial character in the late 1990s for his role in allegedly assisting top Cuba ball players leave the island. In 2005, his sports agent certification was suspended following accusations by one defector that Cubas took his immigration documents and refused to return them. He has denied the allegations.

(This version CORRECTS that Izquierdo got lawyer after Perez lost custody, not after adoption proceedings began.)

___

Further developments on Tuesday, August 28, 2007.

13-Year-Old Boy Takes Stand In Cuba Custody Case
Father Wants To Take 4-Year-Old Back To Cuba


By Glenna Milberg
Local 10 Reporter

MIAMI -- The 13-year-old half brother of a girl at the center of an international custody case took the stand Tuesday morning and described how their mother physically abused them, both in Cuba, and after she moved with the children to the United States in 2004.

The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) will use the boy's testimony to support its allegation that the 4-year-old girl's father, Rafael Izquierdo, is unfit to gain custody of his young daughter. The state maintains that Izquierdo knew his daughter's mother was abusing her, yet allowed her to take the child with her to the United States.

“Did you tell anyone about the abuse?” asked DCF attorney John O’Sullivan.

"I told my grandparents and Rafael (Izquierdo)," answered the boy.

He testified his mother, who won the right to immigrate to the United States in 2004, took her young daughter with her because Izquierdo, a farmer from Central Cuba, refused to take her. Izquierdo’s attorney refuted that, saying Elena Perez took her children because the U.S. Interest Section representatives told her they would receive more help and resources in the U.S.

A year after arriving in the U.S., Perez suffered debilitating mental health issues that led to a suicide attempt, and asked the Florida Department of Children and Families to take custody of the children.

Both have been raised for the last 16 months by foster parents Joe and Maria Cubas, of Coral Gables.

The Cubas adopted the boy, with his father's permission from Cuba. They want to adopt the girl, too, but Izquierdo traveled from Cuba with his wife and 7-year old daughter to claim her.

Perez cried in court as she listened to the son she gave up testify about watching her lash out when his younger half sister cried or talked back.

"She got hit everywhere," he told the court. "My mom would grab her, pull her up by her hair."

During pretrial motions Monday, Judge Jeri Beth Cohen indicated to DCF that she saw little evidence so far that Izquierdo should not be able to gain custody of his daughter.

In child custody cases, the state’s goal is family reunification where at all possible.

Because the case involves the possibility of sending a child back to Cuba, what might be a fairly common child custody case has taken on political overtones.

"This whole process is a farce," said Magda Montiel Davis, one of the attorneys representing Izquierdo. “His only sin, from their point of view, is the fact that he's from Cuba.

Choice Medical Services Signs Agreement with Cubanacan Turismo y Salud, - Choice Sends U.S. Patient to Cuba, to Arrive Early September

PR.com

Choice Medical Services has arranged for an uninsured Georgia man to go to Cuba for low-cost medical care. He is expected to arrive in Cuba by early September for orthopedic surgery. Separately, Choice has signed an agreement with Cubanacan Turismo Y Salud (Cubanacan Tourism & Health), that allows Choice to provide access to Cuba's leading hotels and resorts for use by its patients.

Winnipeg, Canada, August 28, 2007 --(PR.com)-- Helping it better serve consumers wanting to visit Cuba for affordable medical care, Choice Medical Services, a medical tourism firm, has signed an agreement with Cubanacan Turismo y Salud (Cubanacan Tourism and Health), the island nation’s largest tourism property holding company.

Separately, Choice announced that a US patient from Georgia is expected to be in Cuba in early September to receive medical care.

Cubanacan Turismo y Salud oversees more than 25 of Cuba’s finest hotels, luxury resorts, restaurants, and other tourism properties for serving health tourists. Among the group’s hotels and resorts are the El Comodoro and Chateau Miramar, both in Havana, the Brisas Guardalavaca in Guardalavaca, and the Brisas Sierra Mar Los Galeones in Santiago de Cuba.

“Teaming up with Cubanacan allows Choice to provide our patients with the very best in medical care and access to fine resorts and hotel accommodations for a rapid and pleasant recovery” said Bill Doran, CEO of Choice Medical Services. Doran signed the agreement in a special August 3rd meeting with Dr. Andres Piloto, President of Cubanacan Turismo y Salud, at Cubanacan’s corporate headquarters in Havana.

Cubanacan was pleased with the agreement which provides Cuba with greater access to the North American market.

“With Choice Medical Service’s assistance, we look forward to welcoming many more patients that can benefit from Cuba’s highest quality medical care and warm hospitality,” said Dr. Piloto.

According to the agreement, Choice can offer North Americans patients who are currently faced with extended wait times and exorbitant costs, access to safe effective and affordable healthcare. “We are very pleased with this contract as it helps patients with their medical needs, it supports the Cuban economy and aids the Cuban people, and it reduces pressure on the healthcare system here at home,” said Doran.

Georgia Patient To Head to Cuba
An uninsured American man from Georgia will be the next patient that Choice will bring to Cuba. Doran says the patient will be going for an orthopedic surgery.

“He’s very pleased to be able finally solve his medical issue and get on with his life. The cost is very reasonable, the care is high quality and the patient can recuperate in a tropical oasis. Who could ask for more,” said Doran.

Website Traffic Builds
While Choice Medical Services launched its Canadian and US marketing activities in early July, Doran says the firm has been excited by the strong initial consumer response.

“Based on our website traffic, with each day, we’ve had a growing number of visitors from across Canada, the US, and other countries,” said Doran. “So far, our confirmed patient figures have been on track with our goals.”

Major Cost Savings
For a cost comparison of common medical procedures performed in the U.S. versus in Cuba (all figures US$; for all Cuba figures, source is ChoiceMedicalServices.com):

Hip Replacement US: $60,000 Cuba: $8000 Savings: 86 percent
Appendectomy US: $19,000 Cuba: $4869 Savings: 75 percent
Tummy Tuck US$5063 Cuba: $2644 Savings: 48 percent

Consumer Contact
Consumers can call Choice toll free at 1-866-672-8284, or, visit its website at www.choicemedicalservices.com (From outside the U.S. and Canada, call
1-204-927-3721.)

Based in Winnipeg, Choice Medical Services is a leading privately owned medical tourism firm that helps consumers worldwide to access safe and affordable medical care in Cuba. Obtaining healthcare in Cuba, patients can save up to 80 percent off of high U.S. costs. Choice’s patients typically are Canadians that cannot endure waits of up to three months or more for care, and uninsured and underinsured Americans, many of which otherwise would be unable to afford the proper healthcare. All procedures are conducted by licensed and experienced doctors, nurses and their staff. Choice will be adding more treatment destinations in coming months.

Urban Agriculture Program Generates 50,000 Jobs in Cuba

Radio Cadena Agramonte

Santiago de Cuba, Aug 27 (acn) Cuba's program of Urban Agriculture has generated nearly 50,000 jobs across the island over the last few years. This number is expected to increase with the progressive incorporation of more land into this activity of production.

According to Cuban Ministry of Agriculture's reports, some 35,000 hectares are currently devoted to urban agriculture in the 169 municipalities across the country. Farmers are paid according to their efficiency which encourages hard work and contributes to the increase of productivity.

The implementation of several subprograms of the Urban Agriculture project have also contributed to reducing the overexploitation of land, which makes the process of farming less expensive.

Thanks to this initiative, Cubans have more access to fresh fruit, spices and vegetables, though production still fails to fulfill demand.

Nonetheless, Cuba's National Group of Urban Agriculture seeks to incorporate every piece of fertile land into the program for the benefit of the people and the country's economy which annually spends billions of dollars in imported food.

The greatest challenges to the Urban Agriculture program are found in the Cuban eastern provinces where the soil has been affected by salinity and erosion.

According to United Nation's reports, half of world population works in agriculture, mainly in the continents of Africa, Asia and America. (ACN).

Cuba Provides Hurricane Assistance to Belize

Love FM, Belize

August 27, 2007

The Government of the Republic of Cuba provided a Sanitary Brigade composed of ten Cuban technicians, along with thirty spray equipments to support the relief efforts of the Government of Belize after the pass of Hurricane Dean. On Friday, a plane chartered by the Government of Cuba arrived in Belize and since Saturday, the Cuban Sanitary Brigade is working in hurricane-affected areas in northern Belize. So far seven hundred and fifty houses of the Villages of Caledonia, Xaibe , Chan Chen and Patchakan have been benefited by the Cuban technicians and personnel of the Ministry of Health of Belize. The supplies donated by Cuba, includes three hundred liters of Cipermetrin. The Cuban Sanitary Brigade will stay in the country for two weeks. After their return, the equipments will be donated by Cuba to the Ministry of Health of Belize for further use in the local programs of epidemiologic control. The Cuban team is part of “Henry Reeve’ International Contingent of Doctors Specialized in Disaster Situations and Serious Epidemics”, an international brigade intended to respond anywhere that natural or other disasters occur. This Contingent was founded in August 2005 when more than 1,500 hundred Cuban medical doctors were willing to assist the Katrina hurricane victims in southern U-S-A. In September of that year, 700 doctors were sent to Guatemala where twelve out of twenty two states were hit by flooding and mudslides and associated disease. In October, when Pakistan was hit by a tremendous earthquake, 2,500 Members of the Henry Reeve Contingent set up in Pakistan thirty two field hospitals packed with high-tech equipment. The Brigade also has worked in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Peru.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Granma puts Obama on its first page


TheAtlantic.com, Marc Ambinder

27 Aug 2007 03:04 pm

Granma International

Barack Obama, Academics and Religious Leaders of the US Reject Sanctions

By Gabriel Molina

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama set himself apart from the traditional declarations against the Cuban Revolution in American electoral campaigns, marking a programmatic difference with the historic majority of the major candidates.

A few years earlier, the Dade County Democratic Party, which Miami belongs to, agreed to oppose the government against traveling to Cuba, just like almost 500 US academics creators of the Emergent Coalition to Defend Educational Trips (ECDET). They have joined Christian American churches that recently demanded from Members of Congress a vote to suppress the measures that President Bush has taken to block visits and sending remittances.

Academics compare these restrictions to the ones dictated by Nazis in Germany towards Jewish professors and they state similar arguments to those from Christian leaders, both Catholic and Protestants, who met with or sent letter to Members of Congress a few days ago to pressure them to approve bill that would eliminate restrictions to travel to Cuba.

Obama is scheduled to speak in Miami this Saturday. His statement was discussed by Cuban foreign minister Felipe Pérez Roque on Wednesday, August 22, who said that he expresses the feelings of the majority in the USA, since these draconian measures adopted by President Bush’s administration violate the constitutional rights of Americans and represent an anachronism and a “barbarian act”, according to a report from AM. In 2003 the Senate and the House of Representatives in Washington approved a bill that annulled the effect of those sanctions, but it was eliminated with procedural maneuvers by a minority led by Cuban-American legislators such as the Díaz Balart brothers.

The Democratic candidate, who is on second place in the public preferences, criticized, through a spokesperson, the “strategic and humanitarian” mistake by George W. Bush, by approving those actions. In an op-ed in The Miami Herald, Obama said that the connections with the Cuban families are “the best tool to help take the principle of democratic roots to the island”.

Since 1959, the first candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, turned the Cuban “case” in a domestic policy issue. “Fidel Castro is part of Bolivar’s legacy. We should have given the young and energetic rebel a warmer welcome after his triumph”, admitted Kennedy when he was still a Senator. But later he became involved in opportunistic positions against Castro during his electoral campaign, calling Nixon’s position towards the Revolution as weak.

In March of 1959, Nixon played the main role, as Eisenhower’s vice president, in that “not warm at all welcoming” to the victorious hero [Fidel]. Since that wasn’t enough he focused from that day on trying to bring down the new revolutionary leader.

Unfortunately, the electoral attitude cost Kennedy his life, when as President he tried to change his country. In the last months of 1963, the extreme right, the complex military industry and the Pentagon, decided that the CIA, the Mafia and the Cuban gangsters –the same that had become Kennedy’s allies to kill Castro- should conduct the scandalous murder. Later, they did the same with his brother Robert, who was also determined to modify the establishment.

Since then, the main presidential candidates have assumed and “anti-Castro” position, to prove they are more hawks than doves. The only exception was, James Carter, who won the elections, unlike the others, by keeping in his plans the issue of normalizing relations with Cuba. But for different reasons, he didn’t go beyond taking them to the level of creating the Section of Cuban Interests.

Obama underlined this Monday, August 20, according to press wires, that if he gets to the White House, “he will lighten the restrictions imposed by Washington over the Island so that Cubans residents of the United States can visit their family or send them money”.

The chairman of the local party, Joe Garcia, has said now that Obama’s words “reached the heart of the community. The Senator has understood that most Cuban-Americans are convinced of the value of the trips for freedom and democracy. He has shown courage and a commitment to change a rhetoric that has been moving here by all politicians for the last 50 years”, said the politician from Miami.

Garcia was one of the directors of the Cuban American National Foundation that has adopted a moderate political position since the dead of their Chairman Jorge Mas Canosa and since the failure with the case of the child Elian [Gonzalez]. That moderation is rejected by a group mostly comprised of old batistianos, who created that the Cuban Liberty Council, of which most of the Miami mafia was a militant that supports all kinds of measures against Cuba.

None of the other candidates has made a statement in these terms. Although both Obama and Hillary Clinton voted in 2005 to end the travel restrictions and money to Cuba that had been implemented by Bush in 2004, last May, Clinton declared that she does not support right now lifting the travel restrictions.

However, the irrational, illegal and almost desperate measures implemented by Bush, have contributed a lot to rescue the image of Cuba in the US. In fact there’s a line of thought in the country that has gone as far as approving amendments to change a policy that they consider a failure. But they have crashed against the influence of the Mafia that claims to have put Bush ahead in Florida and thus, in the national [elections].

The academics of the ECDET will appeal the recent decision in a court in Washington, DC, that dismissed their legal arguments against the prohibitions implemented by the Treasury.

The ECDET considers those measures adopted by the government in 2004 as unconstitutional. But the federal court decided less than a month ago, on July 30, to support the motion of Bush’s government that denies the validity of ECDET’s arguments over the restrictions imposed by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), to prevent American professors and students to take or teach classes in Cuba.

The ECDET is the second coalition of academics that is organized to fight against the measures that president Bush declared towards Cuba. In 2004, in an open letter signed by more than 100 prominent Cuban American academics, writers and artists –eleven of them from New York—was published as paid advertising in the Miami Herald.

The document called the US policy towards Cuba as a “moral and political failure that has lasted almost half a century” and announced the formation of a national organization to prove that there is not a monolithical position among Cuban Americans, but rather, the same small group that is consulted and interviewed all the time even when the community has many different positions.

Doctor Lillian Manzor, an associate professor of Latino and Latin American literature, one of the academics that signed the letter, said that the group had formed an organization called Emergency Network of Cuban American Scholars and Artists for Change in U.S.-Cuba Policy (ENCASA/US-CUBA), to repeal a US policy that is more than 50 years old and that has as the central piece an embargo that has been legendary for its cruelty towards the Cuban people.

MORE RESTRICTIONS TO THE FREEDOM OF TRAVEL
But in another tightening of the restrictions, the US government deauthorized then more than 25 travel agencies, suspended at least six licenses to travel for religious reasons, and issued a strong regulation for all operations related to the island. The irrational measures limited the visits to the island by Cuban Americans to one every three years, without even admitting exceptions for illness or death. Bush also declared that only the children and parents are considered relatives. He doesn’t believe in cousins, nieces, nephews or [travel] for religious or academic purposes.

The ECDET also considers a violation of the academic freedom the absurd regulations about who can or cannot teach classes, who can take them, the duration of the classes or where they are taught. According to those regulations from the OFAC, adjunct professors cannot teach classes [in Cuba]; degree candidates are allowed to attend only those universities where the degrees are taught; they cannot last more than 10 weeks and they cannot be taken in Cuba until all these conditions are fulfilled.

“We don’t see a rational reason to prevent adjunct professors from teaching a class. Wayne Wmith [sic] for example, is an adjunct professor, he has never had the intention of being a full time professor, but he has taught at John Hopkins University for more than 20 years, he is one of the top experts on Cuban issues in the country, and year after year he has taught special, short-term courses about Cuba. But since 2004, he and other short-term faculty have been prevented from doing so the group expressed in their statement.

“Among other points that should be revised and are appealed is the fact that OFAC has not presented any evidence –as required by the Administrative Procedural Law- that it has conducted an independent evaluation of the need to restrict US academic programs in Cuba. Instead, like the agency admits, the OFAC was ‘directed’ by the White House to impose these sanctions and it did exactly as ordered.

The most recent prosecution has been the 182,750 dollar fine to Travelocity for booking trips to Cuba. This has been the first sanction of its kind from the Department of the Treasury to an Internet travel agency.

In summary, it’s difficult for a politician in the US to stray away from the path marked by the electoral interests that have been created. Because doing it not only means to distance himself from the extreme right represented by Bush, it also means risking losing Florida that has been decisive in the presidential elections. But the environment created by Iraq helps. It’s so unpatriotic to take this type of democracy to Cuba, as it is to take it to Iraq. And it’s also truth that “those with audacity will get to Heaven”.

Funny Video

Babalu Blog is a typical anti-Castro blog in Miami. If Fidel Castro sneezes, they immediately post that the "tyrant" is close to death. They were part of the interminable rumors of Radio Bemba last week, to the effect that the Cuban president had died. Of course, rumors are just that, rumors.

But they came up with a video that is funny and I give them an A+ for it.

Click on the link below:

Cuban government releases new castro video...

The Illinois senator knows 45 years of failed policy when he sees it.

Palm Beach Post

Palm Beach Post Editorial

Obama breaks Cuba line

Monday, August 27, 2007

Except for dust-ups over hypothetical crises, the eight Democratic presidential candidates had done little to distinguish themselves from each other on foreign policy until Barack Obama spoke out last week about the Cuba embargo.

The Illinois senator knows 45 years of failed policy when he sees it. Sen. Obama said that if elected, he would end the embargo and lift the Bush administration's travel restrictions on Cuban-American families. He correctly sees the isolation of the Cuban people as detrimental to advancing democracy on the island - "a humanitarian and strategic" mistake that has enabled Fidel Castro to keep his grip on power.

The primary means we have of encouraging positive change in Cuba today," he said, "is to help the Cuban people become less dependent on the Castro regime in fundamental ways."

Usually, expressions of common sense don't merit praise for courage. But politicians from both parties have been so intimidated by the Cuban exile community's hard-liners - and so willing to pander to them - that reasonable policy has become a refreshing departure. No other Democrat in the field has broken with the Bush administration's position, nor is one likely to. Front-runner Hillary Clinton issued a statement in response to Sen. Obama that reiterated her commitment to the status quo.

Forcing the Cuban people to live under duress and separating them from their relatives does nothing to weaken Castro. On the contrary, it allows him to make the United States the scapegoat for his failures and ensures that Cubans will stay powerless to promote change.

On Friday, the latest rumors of Castro's death swept Miami. At some point, of course, the rumors will be true. When they are, the U.S. will be in a better position if our policy is more like Sen. Obama's.

___

The Capitol Times, Madison, Wisconsin

Ricardo Gonzalez: Obama's on right track to long overdue shift in U.S. policy on Cuba

A letter to the editor — 8/27/2007 10:39 am

Dear Editor: Now that Sen. Barack Obama has broken the ice on Cuba as an issue in the presidential sweepstakes, we are finding out where the candidates stand.

No surprises there. As expected, most are supportive of the status quo -- including Sen. Hillary Clinton, who among Democrats is the most unwilling to change course. Never mind that the present course, adhered to by her husband for eight wasted years, has failed terribly and will never succeed in making Cuba adopt any reforms, let alone choose a different system for development.

To his credit, Rep. Dennis Kucinich has consistently supported ending the embargo and isolation of Cuba. But Kucinich has as good a chance of becoming president as Fidel Castro himself.

Sen. Christopher Dodd has been a longtime advocate of change in U.S.-Cuba policy. Former Sen. John Edwards has never really had a position on Cuba, and Gov. Bill Richardson would return to Clinton 's policy. Sen. Joe Biden joins Hillary in near-total support for the Bush folly.

The Republicans simply continue to pander to the aging Miami exile community instead of learning from their party's master of foreign policy, Richard Nixon, who shortly before his death called for change.

To be sure, Obama did not veer too far from the Bush approach -- he would "grant Cuban-Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send remittances to the island." While that is an important step, what about the right of all Americans to travel freely to Cuba?

A new generation of leaders is waiting in the wings in Cuba. We need to engage those folks in order to prepare for the peaceful evolution in Cuba that will bring about normalization of relations based on mutual respect.

Over many years, in poll after poll, a majority of Americans support lifting the embargo and engaging Cuba. Now even a majority in the Cuban-American community in Florida support this view.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, Cuba served as a springboard for American influence in Latin America. In the 21st century, however, Cuba may very well be the wall that separates both hemispheres.

To tear down this wall we need to work out our differences at the proverbial negotiating table. Doing nothing or blasting the wall with force will not solve any of the issues at hand and would create a host of new ones.

Ricardo Gonzalez, former member of Madison City Council and current president of Madison-Camaguey Sister City Association

Cuba publishes Castro column amid health rumours

Reuters

Sun Aug 26, 2007 9:25PM

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba published on Sunday a historical essay by ailing leader Fidel Castro, whose long absence from public view has fuelled speculation about his health among Cuban exiles in Miami.

Castro, who turned 81 on August 13, has not appeared in public since undergoing intestinal surgery in July last year when he handed over power to his brother Raul Castro.

Cuban officials and ally Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez repeatedly insisted last week that Fidel Castro continued to recover, was writing and participating in major decisions of state.

Speculation Castro's health had taken a turn for the worse mounted in Miami on Friday when local television stations began broadcasting rumours he had died.

Castro was last seen by Cubans in a television interview broadcast by Cuban television on June 5, but has continued to publish twice weekly "reflections of the Commander" attributed to him.

"Fidel is fine and is very disciplined about his recovery," Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque told reporters during a meeting of Latin American and Asian officials in Brazil's capital, Brasilia on Thursday.

Castro's Sunday column, a long essay on politics in Cuba prior to his 1959 revolution, was printed by the Communist Youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth).

Cuba last week marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Orthodox Party President Eduardo Rene Chibas, considered by Castro and many young Cubans at the time as the best hope of stemming growing corruption in the Cuban government.

Chibas committed suicide during a radio address in 1951 and the following year Fulgencio Batista staged a coup, which Castro said on Sunday would not have been possible if Chivas had been alive.

After the coup Castro and other young members of the Cuban Orthodox Party turned to armed rebellion.

Nejrin: Embargo on Cuba is the longest in human history

Yemen Times

Mohammed bin Sallam

SANA’A- Oct. 26- HE The Cuban Ambassador to Yemen, Piem Venipo Nejrin, held last Wednesday a press conference on the 40th anniversary of the economic embargo imposed on his country by the U.S.

The Cuban Ambassador said: “the economic, trade and financial embargo imposed on Cuba by the U.S. is the longest and most severe in the history of humanity. It is part of the U.S. aggressive policy and animosity toward the Cuban people and the main objective of it is to destroy the Cuban Revolution and make the Cubans suffer from starvation and famine.”

“This embargo constitutes a primary component in the policy of terrorizing the state and causing harm to its population without a distinction between ages and genders,” he added. “This policy was applied by ten U.S. administrations as an act of annihilation, according to the second article of Geneva Convention on Protection of Annihilation Crime and its Sanction, which was signed on Dec. 9-1948. The U.S. behavior forms a crime against the international law.”

Mr. Nejrin pointed out: “over 70% of the Cuban population were born and have been living under the embargo due to their insistence on defending their right for the determination of fate, as well as their insistence on achieving independence and social equity.”

According to preliminary reports, the loss caused by the embargo since it was imposed exceeded US $ 82 billion, with an annual average of $1.8 billion, the Cuban diplomat added. “The total amount does include more than 54 billion dollars that were attributed to direct damages on economic and social targets in Cuba as a result of destruction and terror operations, which have been fomented, organized and funded by the U.S., the estimated loss of last year alone exceeded 2.7 billion dollars.

In conclusion of the conference, the Cuban Ambassador set the demands of his country toped by urging the UN General Assembly to stop the embargo policy and the endorsement of thirteen of its decisions, concerning the backing of 169 UN member states.

Cuba renews its confirmation that such a U.S. conduct toward the international resolutions means an underestimation of the role of the UN, plurality and the international law.

___

JG: The capitalist ruling class in the United States continue their Cuba embargo, not because it is effective or successful, but because of their hatred for the word SOCIALISM.

Chavez Offers Billions in Latin America

Forbes

08.26.07, 1:46 PM ET

Associated Press

By NATALIE OBIKO PEARSON and IAN JAMES

CARACAS, Venezuela -

Laid-off Brazilian factory workers have their jobs back, Nicaraguan farmers are getting low-interest loans and Bolivian mayors can afford new health clinics, all thanks to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Bolstered by windfall oil profits, Chavez's government is now offering more direct state funding to Latin America and the Caribbean than the United States. A tally by The Associated Press shows Venezuela has pledged more than $8.8 billion in aid, financing and energy funding so far this year.

While the most recent figures available from Washington show $3 billion in U.S. grants and loans reached the region in 2005, it isn't known how much of the Venezuelan money has actually been delivered. And Chavez's spending abroad doesn't come close to the overall volume of U.S. private investment and trade in Latin America.

But in terms of direct government funding, the scale of Venezuela's commitments is unprecedented for a Latin American country.

Chavez's largesse tends to benefit left-leaning nations that support his vision of a Latin America with greater independence from the United States. But he denies the two countries are in a competition.

"We don't want to compete with anyone. I wish the United States were 100 times above us," Chavez told the AP in a recent interview. "But no, the U.S. government views the region in a marginal way. What they offer is a pittance sometimes, and with unacceptable pressures that at times countries can't accept."

U.S. aid tends to be low-profile, constrained by strict guidelines and often distributed through other institutions so that recipients may not know it's from the U.S. government. Venezuela offers money with few strings attached and a personal Chavez touch that aid experts say generates more good will dollar for dollar.

Clay Lowery, the U.S. Treasury Department's acting undersecretary for international affairs, argues that the U.S. plays a larger role than reflected in its aid figures. The United States, for instance, drove Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank debt relief deals totaling $7.5 billion over the past three years in Latin America, he said.

"Who is the biggest financier of the IDB? The United States. Who is the biggest financier of the World Bank? The United States is. We don't count those," Lowery said. "We're basically engaged on a multilevel, multi-prong approach."

Still, as the Chavez effect gains ground, there are signs the U.S. is responding to the challenge.

The U.S. Navy medical ship Comfort is on a four-month, 12-country voyage to Latin American ports, and has already treated more than 80,000 patients with free vaccinations, eye care, dental checkups and surgeries aboard the converted oil tanker.

U.S. officials are taking their cue from the free eye surgeries and medical training that Chavez offers, says Adam Isacson of the Washington-based Center for International Policy, which tracks American aid and advocates international cooperation.

"They're trying to do things that are aimed in a small way at countering what Chavez is doing - Chavez's much larger aid programs," he said.

His group calculates that nearly half of U.S. aid to the region goes to military and police programs. However, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson also has pointed to the U.S. government's work with the IDB to mobilize up to $200 million through private lenders to support small business loans.

Chavez's aid isn't limited to his region. Low-income Americans get cheap heating oil, while the former Soviet republic of Belarus is counting on Chavez to help pay off a $460 million gas bill to Russia. But most of the funding goes to Latin America.

When a Brazilian plastics factory was shuttered in 2003 by its indebted owners, hundreds of workers formed a cooperative. They appealed for help in a private meeting with Chavez, who offered subsidized raw materials in exchange for the technology to produce plastic homes in Venezuela. The factory soon hummed back to life.

"I know there are people out there criticizing Chavez for helping us. They say he is interfering with the internal affairs of Brazil," said Salviano Jose da Silva, a security guard at the Flasko factory near Sao Paulo. "But all he's doing is helping to guarantee our livelihood - something the government should be doing but isn't."

When floods hit Bolivia this year, the U.S. provided $1.5 million in a planeload of supplies and cash. Chavez promised 10 times more and sent in teams that helped victims for weeks. In all, Chavez's pledges to Bolivia total over $800 million, more than six times the U.S. commitment this year.

He also offered money for new garbage trucks in Haiti and an Argentine dairy cooperative.

Opponents say Chavez is spending haphazardly on "giveaways" abroad at a time when more than a quarter of Venezuelans still live on less than $3 a day. They question how long he can sustain it since government revenues are highly dependent on fluctuating oil prices.

While Venezuelan asphalt paves streets in Bolivia's capital, a sign recently protruded from one of Caracas' potholes reading: "Why for Bolivia yes and for me no?"

Chavez argues much of the funding brings benefits back to Venezuela, including oil-related investments and other cooperative exchanges. He says billions more are being spent within Venezuela, and cites social programs credited with helping to reduce poverty.

His recent commitments in the region exceed those of the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Each lent nearly $6 billion in 2006, but their influence has declined as nations repay their outstanding loans. Regional International Monetary Fund debts dropped from $49 billion in 2003 to just $694 million this year, largely due to early repayments, some of them financed by Chavez.

Chavez offers funds in unconventional, sometimes spontaneous ways. Summing it up is difficult due to a lack of transparent accounting, so the AP tally is based on public pledges rather than what has actually been spent. Some of the money is expected to be paid over multiple years. The tally also cannot cover undisclosed spending, such as aid to Cuba or Venezuela's share in building a $5 billion oil refinery in Ecuador.

Venezuela's funding differs from U.S. aid because it includes investments that in the U.S. would come from the private sector and purchases of bonds that are later resold.

Most of the funding - $6.3 billion - involves energy projects, some of which directly benefit Venezuela's oil industry, such as a $3.5 billion refinery to be built in Nicaragua. That also includes funding for electricity plants in Haiti and Bolivia, and an estimated $1.6 billion in fuel financing to at least 17 nations.

Venezuela has pledged $772 million in development aid, including AIDS treatment in Nicaragua, housing in Dominica and Cuban doctors in Haiti.

In Bolivia, $20 million went directly to mayors selected by leftist President Evo Morales for projects including health clinics and schools. Mayor Miguel Avila gratefully accepted a $427,000 check for his town of San Lorenzo to build a new farmers' market.

Critics warn that scant oversight leads to waste and corruption.

"You don't do things well by just giving money away," said Liliana Rojas-Suarez, a former IMF economist at the Washington-based Center for Global Development. "If you give money without any conditions attached, without any expectations, without anything, what are the incentives?"

But Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic Policy Research says Chavez has succeeded in providing more financing options and breaking up a "creditors' cartel" of Washington-based lenders whose economic prescriptions failed to improve the lives of the poor.

Chavez helped Argentina pay off its IMF debt by buying some $5.1 billion in Argentine bonds in recent years, and now proposes a "Bank of the South" that would use billions from Venezuela's international reserves as seed money.

Meanwhile, Venezuela's state development bank, Bandes, is expanding into Bolivia, Uruguay, Honduras, Guatemala and Haiti. In Nicaragua, it is offering loans at just 5 percent interest, compared to 35 percent by some private banks.

Nicaraguan farmer Juan Vicente Castillo, whose cooperative plans to grow black beans to pay off part of a $750,000 Bandes loan, says: "We are very grateful to President Chavez's government for this loan that the commercial banks wouldn't give."

Contributing to this report were AP correspondents Stan Lehman and Alan Clendenning in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Dan Keane in San Lorenzo, Bolivia; Filadelfo Aleman in Managua, Nicaragua; Nestor Ikeda in Washington, D.C.; and Diego Mendez and Luis Romero on board the USNS Comfort.

En Español: Cuba celebrates the 20th anniversary of Joven Club de Computación


Granma

La Habana, lunes 27 de Agosto de 2007

Los Joven Club de Computación y Electrónica salieron la mañana dominical a las calles de toda Cuba para celebrar junto al pueblo su cumpleaños 20 y el feliz final del verano con una fiesta gigante, especialmente dedicada a los niños.

Plaza mayor de la alegría fue el Palacio Central de Computación, que en los parques de la Fraternidad y El Curita instaló 80 ordenadores, con libre acceso para que niños y adolescentes puedan jugar, competir y, también, aprender.

La oferta incluyó festivales deportivos y recreativos, espectáculos artísticos para grandes y chicos, minicarnavales, ferias gastronómicas, pantallas gigantes para la exhibición de videoclips con buena música cubana.

Fue una buena experiencia, por vez primera los Joven Club idean y organizan algo de tanta dimensión, aseguró a la AIN Raúl Van Troi Navarro Martínez, director de ese programa de la Revolución.

El desarrollo de este revolucionario programa, concebido por el Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro y puesto desde el primer día en manos de la UJC, permite hablar hoy de 602 instalaciones en la nación, cifra que incluye cuatro palacios y cinco laboratorios móviles para llevar esta ciencia a los más intrincados parajes.

En total, los Joven Club disponen de más de 6 000 ordenadores, así como también de medios de impresión, digitalización de imágenes, almacenamiento y reproducción de información, al servicio de todos, más ahora que en muchos casos las puertas permanecen abiertas día tras día, las 24 horas.

Solo de los cursos regulares impartidos semestralmente han egresado en estos 20 años 1 190 788 personas de todas las edades, pero una cantidad similar es atendida cada mes en esas instalaciones, consagradas a la misión social de proporcionar una cultura informática a la comunidad y, en especial, a los niños y a los jóvenes.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

News of the Weird: The Democartic National Committee

Today, McClatchy Newspapers reported that “the Democratic [Party] National Committee stripped Florida of its national convention delegates yesterday, August 25.” The newspaper group went on to express their opinion that the decision “renders the state's Democratic presidential primary officially meaningless and it delivers a stern message to states looking to bump up their presidential primaries.”

“The move, which would become effective in 30 days unless Florida Democrats reach a compromise with the national party, came after the committee found that the Republican-dominated state legislature had violated party rules by scheduling primary balloting for Jan. 29. Party rules require that only certain primaries be held before Feb. 5.”

Can someone explain to me how national party rules can override the laws passed by a state legislative body?

It is very interesting that the move came on the same day that U.S. Senator Barack Obama addressed Democrats in Miami-Dade County in regards to his ideas regarding a new Cuba policy. It has been said that the Democratic “establishment” is backing the candidacy of U. S. Senator Hillary Rodham-Clinton. Are they trying to sabotage Obama’s candidacy?

___

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 — The Democratic National Committee, threatening to take the toughest line possible, voted Saturday to refuse to seat any Florida Democrat at the Democratic presidential convention in 2008 if the state party did not delay the date of its 2008 primary to conform to the party’s nominating calendar.

Andrew Councill for The New York Times

The committee gave Florida Democrats 30 days to propose a primary date that conformed with Democratic rules prohibiting all but four states from holding their primaries or caucuses before Feb. 5. But Florida leaders, who seemed stunned by a near-unanimous vote and the severity of the punishment, said they were doubtful they could come up with an alternative.

They said they were bound by the vote of the Republican-controlled State Legislature, which set the primary for Jan. 29.

Beyond what is emerging as a clear embarrassment for the party, the practical results of this dispute were unclear. To a considerable extent, it could prove to be little more than a reminder of how little authority the party appears to have over its nominating process this year.

Florida Democratic leaders said they were resistant to bowing to the party’s demands, having already refused twice. And assuming the party has a presumptive nominee by the time the convention is seated in Denver next year, it will be the nominee — not party officials — who would have the power to resolve a dispute over who is seated.

Aides to several candidates said it was inconceivable that in the end, a Democratic presidential candidate a year from now would penalize a state like Florida, going into a general election, by refusing to seat the state’s delegates.

Obama’s Gamble

U.S. senator Barack Obama realizes that, if he were to get the nod of the Democractic Party as its presidential candidate, it would be difficult to win the keys to the White House without the 27 electoral votes of Florida. But it is not impossible to win the presidency without winning in Florida. Bill Clinton won 32 states and 370 electoral votes in 1992 without Florida.

The senator has come up with two very good proposals that break rank with the traditional anti-Cuba policy: allow unlimited visits to the island by Cuban-Americans who want to visit their relatives. This is good for voters in Miami-Dade County. But what about the rest of the country? As The Los Angeles Times editorial noted this week, this should be expanded to include all Americans. Freedom to travel should have no limitations, and we do not need a Big Nanny Federal Government telling Americans where they can and can not go to.

His second proposal is to allow Cuban-Americans to send unlimited sums of money to their relatives in Cuba. This is also good, because it is the right and morally correct thing to do, and not because an infusion of U.S. Greenbacks is going to bring down Cuba’s socialist government.

And then comes the tricky part. The senator says that he wants to bring liberty to Cuba. There will be those inside the island, and I concur, that will say that was achieved on January 1st, 1959. But the type of liberty that the United States government wants is one accompanied by the hyper-Capitalism of the United States. Cuba has made the choice of traveling a different path. We do not have a right to stick our noses into their internal affairs.

I do hope that the senator from Illinois wins the nomination from his party and the office of President of the United States. His proposals are very welcome and constitutive a good starting point.