Thursday, November 29, 2007

Write to Burger King

Send the letter below to Burger King at:
http://go.sojo.net/campaign/burgerking/

As a person of faith, I am writing out of concern for the farm workers who pick the tomatoes for Burger King's Whoppers, sandwiches, and salads. I believe that all people are created in the image and likeness of God, and I ask you to recognize that the human beings who harvest tomatoes deserve fair wages, real rights, and a voice in the protection of those rights.

I am disappointed by Burger King's rejection of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' (CIW) offer to work together to ensure fair wages and conditions for the workers who pick your tomatoes. McDonald's and YUM! Brands have already shown that improving farm worker wages and conditions is possible, despite Burger King's claims to the contrary.

I urge Burger King to seize the opportunity to work together with the CIW to improve farm worker wages by paying a fair price for your tomatoes and enforcing a code of conduct for human rights in the fields.

---

Read Penny Foolish at the New York Times

Twice Cuban Stamp Champ at 16

Havana, Nov 29 (Prensa Latina) Sixteen year old Adrian Fernández Guzmán, and member of the philately club of Cerro in this capital, was not only the youth champion in this specialty but also in the International Exhibition where the best was shown from the American continent.

With his pre-philately Cuban collection that studies mail in this nation through its postal marks before the appearance of the first stamp in 1840, Adrian obtained important prizes in 2006 in international events where the country participated with its young stamp collectors.

The Vermeil Grand Medal, the most important award for a young competitor in a Philatelic Exhibition, has decorated his chest five times: In the Washington DC World Expo, the United States; in the Cuba-Spain Binational Expo held in Valencia; in the Malaga World Exhibition; in the Youth world Exhibition in Belgium and in the National exhibition of Subjects and youths held in the southern city of Cienfuegos, Cuba.

As a result Adrian has been included in the 10 best stamp collectors on an international level according to a list made yearly by the International Philately Federation.

Adrian explains, "many think that philately is just collecting stamps. For me it is an opportunity to learn more, meet many people, including some that are important in my life and broaden my family by entering the Cuban philatelic family.

All told he has earned six Vermeil Grand Medals, four Vermeil, seven Grand Silver, ten silver and six Bronzes.

During the Congress of the International Federation of Philately held in the Colombian capital last September, Cuba was nominated to represent America in the Youth Commission of the World Federation of Philately.

Coco Beisbol: Complete roster for Cuba's 47th National Baseball Series

Havana's Radio Coco has published the complete roster for the 47th National Baseball Series of Cuba.

It also has a great report and photos of their staff.

I encourage Cuban baseball fans to send thank-you notes for the great labor that they do.

Cuba: EU lacks independent Cuba policy due to U.S. pressures

China View

2007-11-29 12:35:54

HAVANA, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) lacked an independent Cuba policy due to the U.S. pressure, Cuba's Vice Foreign Minister Eumelio Caballero said Wednesday.

"Sadly it has been impossible for the EU to develop its own Cuba policy because it is vulnerable to pressures from the United States," Caballero said at the 14th session of the International European Studies Conference held in this Cuban capital on Nov. 27-30.

Caballero said Cuba was seeking relationship with the EU based on mutual respect. "Cuba demands the EU's elimination of sanctions imposed on Cuba in 2003, so there can be a respectful dialogue between the two sides," he said.

Noting the European Council's proposal to seek an open and integral political dialogue between the two sides, he said such a dialogue would be impossible without the elimination of the sanctions.

Wednesday's session at Havana's European Studies Center is devoted to Europe's relationship with Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean.

Editor: Mo Hong'e

Father Granted Daughter In Cuba Custody Case

NBC6.net South Florida

POSTED: 5:48 pm EST November 28, 2007
UPDATED: 6:30 pm EST November 28, 2007

MIAMI -- A Cuban farmer would get sole custody of his 5-year-old daughter under a settlement reached Wednesday after a lengthy court battle involving the girl's U.S. foster parents and state officials, according to a person familiar with the deal.

Under the settlement, Rafael Izquierdo and his daughter would remain in the U.S. for several years and the foster parents, former baseball players agent Joe Cubas and his wife Maria, would get regular visits from the girl, according to a person familiar with the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules.

Beyond that, Izquierdo would have no parental restrictions and could eventually return to Cuba, the person said. The agreement is still subject to approval by Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Jeri B. Cohen, who has scheduled a Tuesday hearing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In memoriam: November 27, 1871


Granma

El asesinato de los ocho estudiantes de medicina el 27 de noviembre de 1871

La prepotencia y el horrendo genocidio

Raúl Rodríguez La O

De acuerdo a los manuscritos de todo el proceso original del fusilamiento de los ocho estudiantes de medicina y de las investigaciones posteriores realizadas a instancia del gobierno de Madrid para esclarecer todo lo sucedido antes y después de aquel fatídico 27 de noviembre de 1871, se puede afirmar casi categóricamente que todo el incidente fue creado artificialmente por el entonces Gobernador Político de La Habana, Dionisio López Roberts quien había sido destituido de su cargo ocho días antes por escandalosos y turbios manejos de extorsión a infelices chinos y prostitutas.

A esto se une una orientación gubernamental desde Madrid a las autoridades coloniales en la Isla de impedir a cualquier precio el triunfo de los independentistas cubanos que en el año de 1871 se encontraban en uno de los mejores momentos de la guerra iniciada el 10 de octubre de 1868 y evitar igualmente que el ejemplo de la Comuna de París en ese mismo periodo pudiera repetirse en Cuba.

Con esa situación creada, a mi juicio, el Gobernador Político de La Habana, Dionisio López Roberts ya destituido como hemos señalado anteriormente, con la intención de recuperar la confianza del gobierno español y dar muestra de lealtad suprema a su patria con el objetivo de que lo restituyeran en el cargo para seguir enriqueciéndose a costa del sufrido pueblo cubano, inventó la supuesta profanación de la tumba y restos del periodista asturiano Gonzalo de Castañón, quien había sido el propietario y director del periódico reaccionario al servicio de España y contra los independentistas cubanos denominado La voz de Cuba.

Fue él precisamente quien personalmente promovió el rumor de la supuesta profanación, y según los documentos históricos, fue también quien se dirigió al Cementerio de Espada, en La Habana y a la Cátedra del primer año de medicina que se encontraba al lado de la referida necrópolis, en los días correspondientes al 23, 24 y 25 de noviembre de 1871 tratando a toda costa e insistentemente y sin pruebas de inculpar a dichos estudiantes.

Interrogó al Capellán del Cementerio General de Espada, Presbítero Mariano Rodríguez Armenteros, Celador Vicente Coba y Quiza y al Conserje de esa institución y los tres declararon inocentes a los estudiantes. De igual modo se pronunciaron en defensa de sus alumnos del primer año de medicina los profesores de la Universidad Juan Manuel Sánchez de Bustamante y Domingo Fernández Cubas.

Pero como ya hemos indicado Dionisio López Roberts estaba decidido a poner en marcha su diabólico y criminal plan contra los inocentes estudiantes, pues hasta el propio hijo de Gonzalo de Castañón llamado Fernando cuando vino a La Habana para hacer la exhumación de los restos de su padre, en 1886, declaró públicamente que en ellos no había encontrado profanación alguna.

Por eso, al no encontrar apoyo alguno en las falsas acusaciones contra los estudiantes temprano en la mañana del 25 de noviembre acudió al cementerio antes mencionado, quizás con el propósito de realizar él mismo la profanación y luego inculpar con alevosía y cinismo a los propios estudiantes. Posteriormente visitó en el mismo día a los profesores y alumnos intentando nuevamente lograr sus objetivos. Pero como no encontró apoyo y sí rechazo total a sus acusaciones, pues decidió arrestar por la fuerza a un grupo de más de 40 estudiantes del primer año de la carrera de medicina quienes fueron encarcelados en la entonces Cárcel Nacional de La Habana, la cual se encontraba frente a la actual Embajada de España en nuestra capital y donde se conserva aún el calabozo donde José Martí guardó prisión por primera vez, en 1869.

Ya detenidos el 25 de noviembre los referidos estudiantes, cuya cifra total se menciona en los documentos en número de 45 y otras veces de 47, se produjo al otro día domingo 26, según los mismos documentos e informes, un desfile militar en La Habana con la participación de cerca de mil agentes del Cuerpo de Voluntarios. En esa misma ocasión el propio Dionisio López Roberts se encargó de informar sobre la detención de los estudiantes y de la supuesta profanación de la tumba del ídolo de estos, Gonzalo de Castañón. La provocación surtió el efecto deseado y aquellos sanguinarios Voluntarios defensores del régimen colonial español comenzaron, ya ebrios con motivo del desfile y la celebración que realizaban, a lanzar gritos de mueran los estudiantes, traidores e insurrectos.

Así en esa misma tarde del domingo 26 de noviembre con los ánimos y deseos de vengarse de los inocentes estudiantes que ya guardaban prisión, se dirigieron a la plazoleta de la Cárcel Nacional donde trataron incluso de penetrar por la fuerza para lincharlos sin previo juicio. Otro grupo se dirigió a la Plaza de Armas, sede del gobernador general español en la Isla.

Se produjo una situación incontrolable de insubordinación y posible conflicto entre las fuerzas regulares españolas y los miembros del Cuerpo de Voluntarios como ya había ocurrido en 1869 con el general Domingo Dulce y mucho antes en la provincia Matanzas. Incluso se produjeron algunos incidentes con el saldo trágico de algunos muertos y heridos.

En medio de esos dramáticos acontecimientos es necesario señalar que el Capitán General español de la Isla en dicho periodo era Blas Villate y de la Hera, el tristemente Conde de Valmaseda, quien se encontraba fuera de la capital ya que andaba de operaciones en el interior del país. Correspondió a su sustituto el General segundo Cabo, Romualdo Crespo enfrentarse a aquella descontrolada situación, quien actuó de manera incapaz e irresponsable y convirtiéndose de hecho en cómplice de los Voluntarios y del asesinato posterior de los ocho estudiantes y de la condena a prisión a más de 30 de ellos.

El juicio se celebró en la misma sede de la Cárcel Nacional en condiciones inapropiadas y sin las garantías procesales y condiciones elementales del derecho que pudieran garantizar un juicio justo e imparcial con esa turba de Voluntarios en el mismo sitio y muchos de ellos borrachos en número de más de mil pidiendo sangre, presionando, gritando y chantajeando desde las 9 de la noche del domingo 26 hasta la 1 de la tarde del lunes 27 de noviembre de 1871 cuando se dictó la segunda sentencia, pues el primer tribunal integrado por cinco miembros del Ejército Regular español y uno de cuyos Vocales fue el Capitán Federico Capdevila había dictado un primer fallo mediante el cual absolvió de culpabilidad alguna con los supuestos delitos a los estudiantes de medicina, lo cual motivó la furia de los Voluntarios y las exigencias de castigo a muerte de todas maneras para los inocentes estudiantes e incluso llegaron a pedir, según los documentos consultados, que se trajeran a todos los deportados en la entonces Isla de Pinos, hoy Isla de la Juventud, para que fueran también fusilados.

Prevalecieron la fuerza, el chantaje y la violación del derecho judicial, así como la debilidad y complicidad del General Segundo Cabo, ya que llegaron a tomar como rehén al propio Dionisio López Roberts, quien a las tres de la madrugada del 27 había acudido al lugar del juicio para intentar poner orden por encargo del General Se-gundo Cabo y no lo dejaron salir hasta por la mañana en espera de una sanción severa del segundo tribunal.

A este nuevo tribunal se le incorporaron nueve miembros más del Cuerpo de Voluntarios, con lo cual tuvieron la mayoría, además de la presencia de un oficial que transmitió una orientación del General Segundo Cabo donde decía que para evitar males mayores y un enfrentamiento sangriento entre Voluntarios y el Ejército Regular, debían tomar una decisión favorable a los primeros.

Así se produjo de ese modo el segundo fallo a la una de la tarde del lunes 27 de noviembre mediante el cual seleccionaron casi al azar o en rifa, como escribió José Martí, a ocho del grupo de los estudiantes detenidos y condenados estos a ser pasados por las armas, dos absueltos y el resto en número de más de 30 condenados a prisión. A las cuatro de la tarde se cumplió la criminal e injusta sentencia.

Ante el escándalo nacional e internacional, las autoridades de España ordenaron una investigación sobre el crimen cometido. Como resultado de ello fueron separados de sus cargos tanto el Capitán General de Cuba, Blas Villate de la Hera al igual que su segundo Romualdo Crespo y también definitivamente el Gobernador Político de La Habana, Dionisio López Roberts, principal instigador, promotor y culpable de los sucesos ocurridos como hemos señalado desde el principio.

En mayo de 1872, por una amnistía política del gobierno de Madrid y ante la presión y reclamación de sus familiares, obtuvo la libertad el resto de los estudiantes que habían sido también condenados injustamente a prisión. Sin embargo, nuevamente ante el temor de las protestas y furia de los Voluntarios se violaron sus derechos ya que dichos estudiantes fueron sacados clandestinamente en la madrugada por el puerto de la Habana hacia España en calidad de deportados políticos.

Tanta fue la injusticia y la violación de los más sagrados derechos del ser humano en aquel crimen cometido contra los ocho estudiantes de medicina, fusilados aquella fatídica tarde del 27 de noviembre de 1871.

Namibia: Nujoma Slams U.S. Policy On Cuba

allAfrica.com

28 November 2007

Emma Kakololo
New Era, Windhoek

The outgoing Swapo Party President Sam Nujoma yesterday called for the immediate and unconditional release of the five Cuban prisoners languishing in the United States of America (USA) prisons.

Nujoma further condemned the continued economic blockage and "sabotage" against Cuba by that country. He was speaking at the official opening of the Swapo Party Congress where he expressed Swapo Party's gratitude to its sister parties.

"Your presence in our midst is clear testimony that we are united in our efforts to consolidate our bonds of solidarity and comradeship as we tackle numerous challenges that confront humankind such as poverty, diseases and under-development."

The Communist Party of Cuba, Zimbabwean African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), Communist Party of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), Social Democratic Party of Sweden, and the People's Party for Reconstruction and Development of the Democratic Republic of Congo are amongst the sister parties attending the congress.

The country's attainment of its "genuine" freedom and independence, said Nujoma, was made partly through international solidarity by various countries such as Cuba, anti-apartheid movements and solidarity organizations around the world.

"The Namibian people will remain forever indebted to the selfless support and solidarity from the United Nations, Frontline States and Nigeria, Organisation of African Unity as the forerunner of the African Union and progressive countries such as the People's Republic of China."

The Founding Father said the congress was taking place against the backdrop of major international events that have impacted negatively on millions of people and that Swapo Party supports efforts being made by the AU to fight such calamities.

"Swapo Party supports efforts to restore peace and stability in Sudan and Somalia, while it appreciates the international concrete measures that are aimed at ensuring the return of permanent peace to Afghanistan and Iraq."

Expressing BDP's camaraderie, Kentse Rammidi, Deputy Secretary General, said BDP and Swapo shared a lot of similarities in that they have been and still are torchbearers of stability, democracy, progress and the future in the spectrum of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

"Recently my country acquired a piece of land in Namibia so as to have direct access to the sea at Walvis Bay. Had it not been for our collaboration and friendship this could not have happened."

Said ANC's Joel Sibusiso Ndebele. Premier of Kwazulu Natal: "21 March 1990 was a freedom day for Namibia. This day was also the beginning of our freedom in South Africa."

According to him, it was because of the steady and revolutionary march of "evolutionary twins" Nujoma and Oliver Tambo that both countries became free.

"And in the dungeons of Robben Island, we had Toivo ya Toivo and Nelson Mandela encouraging us that all suffering would be over soon."

Cuba Committed to Bolivian Literacy

La Paz, Nov 27 (Prensa Latina) Cuba ratified its commitment with the campaign to declare Bolivian territory free of illiteracy by September 2008.

Cuban Ambassador to Bolivia Rafael Daussa highlighted progress on Tuesday of the program that has already graduated 400,000 people since it was implemented 16 months ago.

Daussa stressed the role of Bolivian President Evo Morales as enthusiastic promoter of this initiative, with which Bolivia will become the third Latin American country free from illiteracy, along with Cuba and Venezuela.

Today the Venezuelan government donated a group of vehicles to allow the mission to access the most remote Bolivian locations.

Cuba contributes with the "Yes, I Can" audiovisual program, while Venezuela with TV sets, videos and solar panels.

Education Minister Magdalena Cajias thanked both countries for their solidarity aid and praised the commitment of many communities to learn to read and write.

Mexican Revolutionary Institutional Party delegation visits Cuba

Granma International

HAVANA, Nov 27 (PL).— Beatriz Paredes, president of the executive committee of the Mexican Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI), has completed a three-day visit to Cuba, reported the media today.

Paredes and 10 other leaders of this opposition party visited the island November 21-24 on the invitation of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba.

Their itinerary included the launch of the book Benito Juárez y Cuba, as part of the 2006 commemoration of the bicentenary of the birth of the former Mexican president.

Paredes recalled her previous stay in Cuba as Mexican ambassador.

During the visit she had talks with Cuban leaders including Vice President Carlos Lage; National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcón; Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque; and Abel Prieto, minister of culture.

Translated by Granma International

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chess World Cup 2007

From 11/22/07 to 12/18/07 Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, will conduct World Chess Cup and welcome 128 chess players on the land of Ugra. FIDE finalized the format of the World Cup as follows: It will be the format of Knock-Out system: seven rounds of matches with two game each except the Last Round (the final match), which will include four games.

Cuba is represented by GM Lenier Dominguez (2683 ELO) seeded #23 and GM Lazaro Bruzon (2602 ELO) seeded #66.

Official Website in English

The 128 players

Cuba says economy still hot with growth at 10 pct

Guardian Unlimited

Tuesday November 27 2007

Marc Frank

HAVANA, (Reuters) - Cuba's economy is expected to grow about 10 percent in 2007, fueled by a jump in factory and farm output, in the country's third straight year of double-digit growth, the official media reported on Tuesday.

"This year's plan is 10 percent and we are going to come in around that figure," Economy and Planning Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez said at a meeting of economists on Monday, parts of his speech broadcast on state-run radio on Tuesday.

Rodriguez gave few details, simply stating "there is an important jump in industrial and agricultural production."

A local economist said above normal rainfall since late 2006 has boosted agricultural production after a severe drought in 2004 and 2005 caused a 30 percent decline in output.

The economist, who asked not to be named, said massive investment in the energy grid had put an end to power outages that seriously interrupted industrial production in the past.

Tourism, the driving force behind the economy and main foreign exchange earner until service exports overtook it in 2005, declined by 9 percent through August, an industry source said. There was no growth in sugar output in 2007, though the crop has long since become secondary to the economy.

Cuba reported gross domestic product growth of 12.5 percent in 2006 and 11.8 percent in 2005, based on a locally devised formula that estimates the market value of free social services and subsidized goods and services. It also includes massive medical and other services exported mainly to Venezuela.

The U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the CIA estimate that this formula overstates Cuba's gross domestic product by between three and four percentage points.

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

Over the last four years communist-run Cuba has spent billions of dollars to improve its crumbling energy grid and other infrastructure and recover from years of crisis despite stepped up U.S. economic sanctions.

Cuban imports have doubled since 2003 as foreign exchange earnings jumped, due mainly to payment for medical services exported to Venezuela, soft credits from China, and increased revenues from nickel and pharmaceutical exports.

Foreign trade totaled $12.18 billion in 2006, with exports of $2.76 billion and imports of $9.42 billion, the government reported. The trade deficit was offset by more than $6 billion in revenues from services. For more statistical details on the Cuban economy through 2006, go to www.one.cu, the Web site of the Cuba's statistics agency.

(Edited by Anthony Boadle and Walker Simon)

Abanderado el equipo de Santiago de Cuba que intervendrá en la 47 Serie Nacional de Pelota


Sierra Maestra

Martes, 27 de Noviembre del 2007

El conjunto de Santiago de Cuba, actual monarca, que intervendrá en la venidera 47 Serie Nacional, fue abanderado en horas de la tarde, de este sábado, en acto solemne, celebrado ante la llama eterna, que perpetúa la memoria de los héroes de las luchas independentistas, situada en el cementerio Santa Ifigenia, enclavado en la segunda ciudad en importancia del país.

Al toque de Atiendan todos, tres de las figuras estelares de este combinado, José Julio Ruiz, Alexei Bell y Norge Luis Vera, depositaron una ofrenda floral en la base del Mausoleo que guarda los restos mortales de nuestro apóstol José Martí.

De inmediato la artista, Teresa García Tintoré, declamó el poema, Claustro de mármol, precisamente del Héroe Nacional cubano.

A continuación, Misael Enamorado Dáger, miembro del Buró Político del Comité Central del Partido Comunista de Cuba, y su primer secretario en esta provincia, le hizo entrega del estandarte rojinegro al director Antonio Pacheco Masó, quien a su vez la puso en manos del joven atleta Adeinys Hechavarría.

Luego el capitán del elenco, Rolando Meriño tuvo la responsabilidad de leer el compromiso de los peloteros indómitos, en el clásico que se inaugurará, el domingo 2 de diciembre, en el estadio Guillermón Moncada, de esta Ciudad Héroe, por ser Santiago de Cuba, el equipo campeón nacional de la pelota antillana.

En tal sentido, los peloteros montañeses se comprometieron a ser ejemplo de disciplina y dedicación al deporte, dentro y fuera del terreno, además de brindarle el más bello espectáculo a la afición de todo país, con un solo objetivo, retener el título, y así proporcionarle el alegrón que se merece el pueblo.

Las palabras de resumen fueron pronunciadas por Eulalia Dorado, vicepresidenta del Consejo de la Administración de la Asamblea Provincial del Poder Popular, quien exhortó a los integrantes del equipo a seguir demostrando los principios éticos y morales que le son inherentes, ya que ser santiaguero, es una condición que se defiende con honor, por las múltiples cualidades y valores que lo identifican como: la valentía, dignidad, patriotismo, heroísmo, solidaridad, sin dejar de pensar en la victoria.

Además, se encontraban presentes Rolando Yero, presidente de la Asamblea Provincial del Poder Popular, dirigentes de las organizaciones políticas y de masas, glorias del deporte, y una representación del movimiento de peñas deportivas, en nombre de la afición santiaguera.

Mary Sanchez: Cuba watchers should turn attention to U.S.

November 27, 2007

Mary Sanchez, of The Kansas City Star has published a very good commentary on U.S. Cuba relations, despite the fact that U.S. journalists have been conditioned by half a century of anti-Cuba capitalist propaganda. Typical is that she continues to see Fidel Castro as an evil dictator.

I will grant her one thing, though. One of the great things that the United States has is a truly free press, something that is missing in Cuba. She of course is entitled to express her opinion as to the nature of Cuba's regime, but then, so am I.

Mary, when a large island of eleven million people is constantly threatened by the Bully of the North, then they must do whatever is necessary to defend the independence and the national sovereignty of the greatest of the Antilles.

Because of the actions of the United States government, a truly imperialistic and hegemonic power, Cuba has to have a less-than-perfect system to insure the survival of their Socialist enterprise.

What has close to 50 years of embargo, sabotages, and other immoralities of the United States government accomplished? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! It is very sad that Americans are disliked throughout the world. People, including the Cubans, do not hate Americans. It is the U.S. government we dislike.

Here is Mary's column:

Cuba watchers should turn attention to U.S.
By MARY SANCHEZ

The vigil for a new day in Cuba has for some time been focused in the wrong direction. All eyes are on Fidel Castro, as the world waits for him to die.

The fantasy goes something like this: Once the grizzled dictator is dead and buried, a new day will dawn for the Cuban people. No longer fearful of harsh reprisals, they will take to the streets of Havana to demand democracy. The spirit of freedom will blossom and Cuban communism will be overturned in free and open elections.

Thing is, Castro has essentially been dead for 15 months. That’s how long it’s been since he was last seen publicly. The video images of him in a track suit still jabbing at George Bush only prove he is breathing. But governing? Not so much.

Castro ceded power to his brother Raul in July 2006. And virtually nothing has changed in the island nation since. So when Castro’s heart stops beating, don’t expect mass demonstrations in Cuba to match the jubilation in Miami. Raul is younger and a far less-intriguing personality. But all indicators are that he will continue to lead much as his revolutionary elder sibling did for nearly 50 years.

A better clue to how things could change in Cuba just might be in Washington. A changing of the guard at the White House is the one transition people can count on. Castro may hang on to life, but Bush will be packing his bags this time next year.

And so it is imperative that people begin querying the presidential candidates for their views on Cuba. Here is a debate question I’d like somebody to ask candidates: Are you the type of leader who will relentlessly cling to an embargo that has failed to produce the desired results for nearly 50 years?

If the next occupant of the White House chooses to unravel the mess the current administration has made of Cuba policy, it’s going to take a lot of diligence. For years Bush has been hell-bent on entrenching U.S./Cuba foreign policy in the failed policies of the embargo. And he appears ready to use his limited time left in office to intensify that effort.

Under the embargo, travel to Cuba is restricted. Journalists, close family members of Cubans, government officials and some educators are allowed, but only after the U.S. State Department gives its OK. Under Bush, it has done so with less and less frequency. And Cuban-Americans are being further separated from their family members on the island: They are allowed only one visit every three years, instead of an annual trip.

Now Bush administration officials are poised to severely curtail yet another legal route to visiting the island. According to advocates for more open relations with Cuba, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, part of the Treasury Department, may implement a policy change reducing travel between the United States and Cuba for performers.

A letter-writing campaign, drawing the support of musician Tre’ Cool of Green Day and actors Sean Penn and Danny Glover, is under way to forestall any such policy change.

Almost everywhere else in the world communism has held sway, the Bush administration promoted the idea of cultural exchange, allowing our scholars, students, artists and performers to interact with theirs. But Cuba somehow remains different.

Among the presidential frontrunners, Hillary Clinton oddly is bowing toward Bush’s position, implying she will be hard on dictators like Castro. She is opposed to lifting the embargo, as are Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and John McCain.

Barack Obama has wisely split from the pack, noting in a recent statement, “To help advance democratic change in Cuba, we need to grant Cuban-Americans the unfettered ability to visit family on the island and to send them remittances.”

The Cuba Research and Analysis Group, an organization that opposes the new restrictions on travel to Cuba, has contrasted the administration’s hard line with sentiments first lady Laura Bush expressed last year while touting the State Department’s Global Cultural Initiative campaign.

“One of the best ways we can deepen our friendships with the people of all countries,” Laura Bush said, “is for us to better understand each other’s cultures by enjoying each other’s literature, music, films and visual arts.”

Perhaps Laura can speak to her husband. Never mind. He’ll be gone soon.

To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send e-mail to msanchez@kcstar.com.

Cuba to Make Spirulina with UN

Habana, Nov 26 (Prensa Latina) Cuba and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) signed a technical cooperation project Monday, to develop the industrial chain of Spirulina Algae for human consumption.

The plan includes improving production and commercialization processes, controlling quality systems and staff training, modernizing labs to control quality, and obtaining other products with high added value.

The Spirulina is used as a nutritional and dietetic complement to cover needs of the country's social and sports sector, and it can solve nutrition problems and food security of the current and future society, the source stated.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Siegelman case: how the GOP is using the same electoral scams that Batista used in Cuba

The Raw Story reports that the GOP is today relying on electoral scams that are very similar to the ones used by General Fulgencio Batista in Cuba.

They are the same tricks used by George W. Bush to crown himself as the new President of the United States in the year 2000, using massive electoral fraud in Florida. He was helped in the process by his ultra-right-wing Cuban-American buddies in Miami.

Read the Raw Story report and the CNN report.

Will the history repeat itself in November of 2008? If the American people do not keep a close watch, they could end up with very undemocratic elections, just like Cuba during the period 1952-1958.

Hard-line Cuban exiles claim owl is a Castro agent


KTIV

Rare Owl Rehab

A rare Antillean short-eared owl is back in the Florida wild after two months in rehab.


The bird had been found with a broken pelvis.

"When we see these guys, it is a very special event because we believe we are documenting the expansion of a subspecies of a particular owl from the Caribbean to the mainland as it comes to Florida," scientist Sharron Montgomery said.

Three injured short-eared owls have been through the center in the last two years.

The most recent was likely caught up in a storm in Cuba and blown to Florida, experts said.

"We have seen more and more getting to Miami," Montgomery said. "Maybe they moved through during wind currents and migration patterns."

The officer who found the owl is a bird expert and had worked at the museum wildlife center, so he knew exactly what it was and quickly diagnosed the injury.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Bill Stiffler said the owl looked much better on Friday and had gained a lot of weight since when he first saw him.

"We don't band all our birds, but special ones we do," expert Greta Mealey said. "So we did this one."

Stiffler got the honor of setting the bird free on Friday.

As a ground owl, the one set free will be able to eat plenty of rats, mice, small birds and even chickens.

Experts said there might be a small colony of short-eared owls being established in South Florida.

---

JG: Next, they will claim that the owl has asked for political asylum and wants to visit Bush in the White House.

U.S.-Cuba showdown looming in World Cup

Chicago Sun Times

November 26, 2007

The United States will open qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in June against the tiny Caribbean nations of Barbados or Dominica and is likely to wind up in a politically charged semifinal group with Cuba.

''The opportunity to play in Cuba will be significant,'' U.S. coach Bob Bradley said after goalie Kasey Keller set the matchup by plucking a blue ball from a bowl during the World Cup draw Sunday in Durban, South Africa. ''I think the players will look forward to it.''

The U.S. team, which will be trying to reach its sixth consecutive World Cup, has a first-round bye. After advancing to the quarterfinals in 2002, it was eliminated in the first round in 2006.

''We're pretty excited to get the process started,'' U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra said. ''Playing in Cuba would be a new experience. As we know from previous qualifying campaigns, it's tough to play in hostile environments like the ones we find in Guatemala and [Trinidad & Tobago]. From difficult conditions to hostile fans, you can't take any of these games for granted.''

The U.S. team is 5-1-1 against Cuba but never has traveled to the island nation. The teams have not met in a World Cup qualifier since 1949, when they played twice in Mexico City. The teams tied in their first matchup, and the United States won the second 5-2 to reach the 1950 tournament.

The United States has maintained sanctions against Cuban leader Fidel Castro's government since 1962. Cuba has come to this country to play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but the teams have not met since the United States earned a 4-1 victory in the 2005 Gold Cup in Seattle.

''We've got an opponent in June, and if we're successful with that, we'll look at the semifinals,'' U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said. ''We played all three teams previously, but we haven't played Cuba away. That would pose some new challenges. But they are soccer challenges, and we'll deal with all those other issues at the time.''

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Olympic Fanfare and Theme - John Williams

Olympic Fanfare and Theme

Baseball Looks to Create a Possible Portal to Cuba


In Havana, relatives of Yadel Marti, a Cuban pitcher, watching him play at the World Baseball Classic championship in Puerto Rico.

The New York Times

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT

Published: April 26, 2007

Major League Baseball officials are quietly preparing to re-establish a relationship with Cuba if the United States lifts its trade embargo.

Fidel Castro, 80, has experienced serious health problems in recent years, and his brother Raúl is Cuba’s interim president, a situation that has prompted speculation about the country’s future. Baseball officials began discussions a year and a half ago about how to approach the possibility of normalizing relations with Cuba.

Baseball is contemplating a strategy for teams to sign Cuban players in an effort to create an orderly system for acquiring talent from the island, according to three baseball officials and a scholar who was briefed on the plans.

“There may not be any significant changes with our relationship with Cuba in the near term, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about these things,” Joe Garagiola Jr., the senior vice president for baseball operations, said in a telephone interview. “We are thinking about them, and that is probably the extent of what we can say at this point.”

Garagiola, a former general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, is coordinating baseball’s discussions on Cuba.

Baseball is also considering moving a minor league team to Cuba and building training academies similar to those that nearly all teams have in the Dominican Republic, according to a report earlier this month by Fortune magazine.

Major League Baseball has stepped up its efforts to expand internationally in the past year. In March 2005, baseball and the players union organized the first World Baseball Classic, a 16-team international tournament designed to broaden interest in the sport. Baseball began expansion initiatives in Asia and Africa this past off-season.

But Cuba, which is 90 miles from Florida, has a rich baseball history and is considered a future source of players, fans and revenue. The first Cuban players arrived to play professional baseball in the United States in the early 1900s. In 1946, the Washington Senators established a minor league team in Cuba, and the Brooklyn Dodgers sporadically spent spring training there in the 1930s and ’40s.

Fidel Castro took power in 1959, and the United States imposed sanctions on Cuba in 1961. Some of the Cuban players who have since reached the majors have been defectors, like pitchers José Contreras of the Chicago White Sox, Orlando Hernández of the Mets and his half-brother Liván Hernández of the Diamondbacks.

Over all, Cuba has produced 152 major league players, according to baseball-reference.com, including Minnie Minoso, Camilo Pascual, Luis Tiant, Tony Oliva and Tony Pérez.

Outside the United States and Canada, only Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have produced more players. The highest number of Cuban players was 30 in 1967, and there were 9 last year, according to the Web site.

In 1999, Baltimore played a home-and-home series with Cuba after the Orioles’ owner, Peter Angelos, worked with the Clinton administration to make the delicate arrangements happen.

But baseball, in accordance with United States law, prohibits clubs from scouting in Cuba or any country affected by sanctions. Because major league scouts are permitted to watch Cuban players only when they compete in international tournaments off the island, much remains unknown about Cuban baseball. It is unclear how deep the talent pool is, how developed the youth leagues are and what shape the fields and equipment are in.

However, one glimpse came at a workout that the Cuban national team held in Havana right before the World Baseball Classic in 2006. At the workout, which was observed by a New York Times reporter, the players wore mismatched jerseys and used just a dozen baseballs, some of them scuffed. A major league team might use 10 dozen baseballs for a similar workout.

Cuba has a 16-team national league that plays a 90-game season from November to April. Players like infielder Yulieski Gourriel, who awed scouts at last year’s World Baseball Classic, are believed to be talented enough to play in the majors. But the overall competition is considered to be close to the play in Class AA baseball in the United States, which is two steps below the majors. Cuba has done well in international competition, including at the World Baseball Classic. It reached the championship of the event, losing to Japan.

“Everybody on our side wonders how much talent is really there,” said Lou Melendez, baseball’s vice president for international baseball operations and administration, who oversees baseball’s academies in other countries. “I don’t think it is as strong as the Dominican Republic, but nobody knows. There is a talent pool there, but we just don’t know how deep it is.”

Baseball officials have reached out to business executives, university professors and Cuban-born players to learn more about the intricacies of baseball, and life, there.

Discussions between baseball and the State Department could soon take place.

A State Department spokesman said the agency would not comment on a hypothetical diplomatic situation like the United States’ relations with a post-Castro Cuba.

Roberto González Echevarría, a professor of literature at Yale University and the author of “The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball,” said he was informally advising Garagiola and had the impression that baseball officials wanted to work with Cuba. González Echevarría was born in Cuba.

“Joe has said they want to respect the league, but the moment that major league teams can sign Cuban players, they are all going to want to leave,” González Echevarría said. “Would the players rather play in an impoverished country or play minor league baseball in America in the hopes of making it to the majors?”

One major league general manager, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to reveal his team’s intentions for Cuba, said his team had plans but would be restricted by whatever rules baseball imposed.

“What happens if Cuba becomes free is going to depend on the rules M.L.B. puts in place,” the general manager said. “We are keeping our eye on the situation, but we can’t do anything until the rules are different. We would treat it like any other Latin American country and look to put training facilities there.”

Another general manager, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for the same reason, said Major League Baseball would not let teams “just run into Cuba and sign as many players as possible.” An orderly system for acquiring players would have to be implemented, he said.

For now, the future in Cuba is unclear. Castro had emergency intestinal surgery last year and ceded leadership responsibilities to his brother. President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela said recently that Castro, his close friend and ally, had “almost totally recovered” from his illness and had “reassumed a good part of his duties,” although not formally.

González Echevarría described the situation involving relations with Cuba as “extremely complicated.”

“The way they deal with a post-Castro Cuba is a process, it’s not a sudden thing,” he said. “The situation will change gradually. Baseball has to be flexible to deal with this.”

Caribbean oil summit set for next month in Cuba

Reuters

Fri Nov 23, 2007 8:21pm GMT

HAVANA, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Caribbean presidents will gather in Cuba next month for a meeting of Petrocaribe, which supplies Venezuelan oil to the region at preferential prices, Venezuela's ambassador to Cuba said on Friday.

Ali Rodriguez said the summit will coincide with the reopening of a 65,000-barrel-a-day refinery that is being overhauled by Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez plans to inaugurate in mid-December.

The Soviet-era refinery at Cienfuegos on Cuba's south coast will serve as a Petrocaribe hub to supply import-dependent Caribbean islands with refined products such as gasoline, diesel and aviation jet fuel.

"The Petrocaribe meeting and the inauguration of the refinery will be done at the same time," Rodriguez said at a news conference in Havana.

The exact dates of the meeting have yet to be worked out, he said.

Fifteen Caribbean nations --all but Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados -- benefit from the 2005 Venezuelan initiative, which allows them to defer payment of 40 percent of their oil bill for 20 years with a low-interest rate of 1 percent.

The favorable terms for purchases of up to 200,000 barrels a day have increased Chavez's influence in the Caribbean where he has struck a close alliance with communist-run Cuba.

Rodriguez said Venezuela maintains a stable supply of crude and refined products to Cuba -- officially put at 92,000 bpd -- but shipments will increase to feed the Cienfuegos refinery.

Processing capacity at Cienfuegos will expand to 109,000 bpd in the near future, said Rodriguez, Venezuela's former oil minister.

Rodriguez also said Venezuela could help Cuba build a plant to improve its heavy crude. Cuba produces 65,000 bpd of high-sulfur oil, most of which is burned in thermoelectric power plants, and output is increasing.

Renovation of the long-dormant Cienfuegos refinery by a joint venture between the state oil companies CUPET of Cuba and PDVSA of Venezuela, cost an estimated $500 million. (Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Xavier Briand)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cuba’s Medical Diplomacy: A Winner

Huntington News

Nov. 22, 2007

By Sir Ronald Sanders

The Cuban people are quite remarkable. They have survived almost ten decades of a formal trade embargo by successive governments of the United States, the abandonment of Russia and many years of economic deprivation.

They have endured decades of suffering including food rationing, no access to goods that their Caribbean neighbours might consider ordinary, and few washing machines and dryers so as to conserve on electricity.

During the so-called ‘special period’ after Russia pulled out of Cuba, hundreds of thousands of Cubans walked to work, rode on vastly overcrowded buses, or reverted to horse-and-cart for transportation.

But, while all this was going on, the Cuban government provided assistance to other countries in Africa, in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Cuba could hardly afford it, yet the government’s programmes of assistance continued.

Even when Cuba is hit by savage hurricanes causing considerable damage to its agriculture and infrastructure, it continued to provide help to Central American and Caribbean countries that were also affected. Many of the countries to which it provided help enjoy much higher per capita incomes than Cuba and their standard of living is higher.

Little wonder that Caribbean countries have strongly upheld their support for Cuba despite urgings from US government officials to criticise, if not abandon the Cuban government, over its internal human rights record.

The Cuban government’s strategy of medical diplomacy has worked; it has won friends and supporters in the smallest villages in nations in Central America and the Caribbean.

What Caribbean governments and people appreciate is not just that Cuba has been a consistent friend in time of need, but Cuba has given assistance at great sacrifice to itself. It is the quality of the assistance, and the knowledge that it is given despite hardship within Cuba, that has left a lasting impression on Caribbean people, and increasingly now people in Central America.

Recently, I saw two large Central American aircraft parked outside the terminal at the Cheddie Jagan International Airport in Guyana. Knowing that there were no scheduled flights between Central America and Guyana, I inquired about them. An airport official explained that the two airplanes had been charted by the Cuban government to come to Guyana to take over 150 people to Cuba for eye operations.

This is not unique to Guyana. It has happened in the Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, St kitts-Nevis and Grenada.

Cuba paid the entire cost for transportation to and from these Caribbean nations, accommodation in Cuba and the cost of the medical treatment.

This programme called “Operation Miracle” by the Cubans was started in 2004 and its purpose is to save hundreds of thousands of relatively poor people from blindness by undergoing surgery to remove cataracts, transplant corneas, and treat glaucoma.

Since the programme started over 750,000 people have been treated, and while there has not been success in every case, hundreds of thousands of people from Central America and the Caribbean now see where once their vision was severely blurred or they have been saved from a loss of eyesight in the future. In effect, where once they faced the threat of being permanently handicapped, they can now live productive lives.

And, the important thing about the Cuban programme of medical assistance is that it is consistent.

Earlier this year, the US administration sent a ship with medical personnel and facilities around the Caribbean to treat people in need. While the US effort was fully appreciated, it suffered from both the perception that it was a knee-jerk response to the successful Cuban programme, and the fact that it is not continuous.

Josefina Vidal, the director of the North American division of the Cuban foreign ministry put it well in a recent visit to Canada when she said, “Cuba is respected for the aid it provides to many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Cuba sends delegations of doctors and teachers throughout many of the poorest areas of the hemisphere. It also provides scholarships to other nations so students can attend high-quality Cuban medical and other programmes”.

It is significant that while hospitals in Canada and the United States are populated with doctors and nurses from the Caribbean, the health services of many Caribbean countries are being maintained by Cuban medical personnel without whom their health services would be in dire conditions.

This Cuban policy of sending teams of medical personnel abroad is not without deleterious effects within Cuba itself.

There was a time Cuban communities could enjoy access to a dedicated doctor who lived within their “block” and had intimate knowledge of their medical history. This is beginning to change.

For, although Cuba continues to produce doctors and specialist nurses, it was recently reported that “the corps of doctors and nurses left in Cuba are stretched thin and overworked, resulting in a decline in the quality of care for Cubans”.

Understandably, this is beginning to cause some resentment within Cuba, and the Cuban authorities will have to fine tune the balance between continuing to give their own people the health care to which they have become accustomed, and the assistance they provide overseas.

But, there are enormous benefits to Cuba. The most obvious one is support for the Cuban government in international organisations such as the UN where apart from three countries led by the US, the trade embargo has been is routinely and regularly condemned.

Cuba now sends medical personnel, or provides medical assistance, to more than 70 countries, and recent reports put the number of medical students in Cuba at more than 10,000 from 27 countries, more than 90% of them were enrolled in medicine.

In money terms, Cuba is also doing well. The Economist Intelligence Unit estimates that non-tourism services exports in 2005 (mostly medical services) was around US$2.4 billion, putting it ahead of gross tourism earnings of US$2.3 billion in 2005.

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs also reports that official data for export earnings from medical products (medicines and equipment) were below US$100 million in 2004, but there are now press reports citing a figure of US$300 million for such products. To this has to be added, considerable income from Venezuela under the scheme to swap oil for medical services.

Cuba’s medical diplomacy has been a success both economically and as a foreign policy tool. In the process, hundreds of thousands of poor people have benefited – a winner for all.

The writer is a business executive and former Caribbean diplomat. Responses to: ronaldsanders29@hotmail.com

Utah Rotarians delivering aid to Cuba

Salt Lake Tribune

By Rosemary Winters

The Salt Lake Tribune

Article Last Updated: 11/21/2007 01:46:43 PM MST

Utah's Hispano-Latino Rotary Club is leading a humanitarian mission to Cuba on Friday.

Some 40 Rotarians from various Utah clubs plan to deliver 2,500 pounds of school supplies, five wheelchairs, clothing and shoes to Cuban kids.

The eight-day trip is the Hispano-Latino club's first to Cuba, said the group's president, Cesar Diaz of Sandy. Getting permission from both the Cuban and U.S. governments was an "incredible ordeal," he said.

"Rotarians are not political. We are not religious. We just want to go and serve and do whatever we can to help," said Diaz, whose club routinely organizes international service trips.

Each traveling Rotarian has to pack 50 pounds of supplies to take to Cuba.

The LDS Church's charity foundation donated most of the school supplies, Diaz said. Those will go to two grade schools and an art school in Havana. Clothing and shoes will be delivered to an orphanage. The wheelchairs have been assigned by Cuban officials to three children and two adults.

---

JG: The Salt Lake City Rotarians are a perfect example of what can be accomplished when people get together to help each other.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What another President George says to the current one

"Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations: cultivate peace and harmony with all."
----President George Washington, farewell address

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez stops in Cuba, meets privately with Fidel Castro

International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press

Published: November 21, 2007

HAVANA: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stopped in Cuba to meet with ailing leader Fidel Castro and his brother Raul on Wednesday on a return home from an international tour, official media reported.

The Prensa Latina news agency said in a brief dispatch that Chavez told the brothers about his trip to Iran, the OPEC meeting in Saudi Arabia, France and Portugal. The Venezuelan president was headed home later Wednesday.

The 81-year-old Fidel Castro stepped aside in mid-2006 following emergency intestinal surgery and granted provisional power to Raul, the 76-year-old defense minister and his constitutionally designated successor.

Chavez considers Castro a close friend and political ally, and has visited him numerous times during his convalescence. Castro has not appeared in public since falling ill 16 months ago.

Chavez is scheduled to return to Cuba in December to help inaugurate an oil refinery that the two governments renovated in a partnership.

Mexico-USA Cartoon


Source: Corp Watch

Cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Los locos de Miami

Granma

Protesta Ecuador por trato descortés a Correa en Miami

QUITO, 20 de noviembre.— Ecuador expresó su más enérgica protesta a la embajada de Estados Unidos por el trato descortés hacia el presidente Rafael Correa por parte de las autoridades de migración en el aeropuerto de Miami, informó el martes la Cancillería.

Según versiones periodísticas, el jueves el mandatario fue sometido a revisión, en franca violación a sus atributos como Jefe de Estado, los que recibe el presidente de Estados Unidos cuando viaja a cualquier país del mundo.

El Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores envió una nota para manifestar la más enérgica protesta ante el gobierno de los Estados Unidos por la falta de la más elemental cortesía con el Jefe del Estado ecuatoriano, señaló en un comunicado.

La Cancillería sostuvo que las normas internacionales de cortesía diplomática obligan a los países amigos a rendir a un mandatario extranjero que arriba a su territorio, aunque sea en tránsito, las debidas atenciones y facilidades. (AP)

Alabama Participates in Cuba Expo

WSFA TV, Montgomery, Alabama

Posted: Nov 20, 2007 04:45 PM

MONTGOMERY - Agriculture & Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks announced that agribusiness leaders from Alabama participated in the Havana International Trade Fair on November 3rd - November 8th. Representatives from the state's agricultural and pharmaceutical industries were in Cuba promoting poultry and poultry products, lumber and forestry products, soybeans, feed grains, and medical supplies. The Havana International Trade Fair is the largest product showcase in Caribbean America. The venue presents an excellent opportunity to build on trade exports to Cuba and also with other foreign buyers attending that represent more than forty countries.

"The EXPO was another great success for Alabama products," said Commissioner Sparks. "We have been so fortunate that our agriculture industry has been able to benefit from exporting to Cuba."

Some of the products included in the agreements from the EXPO include poultry, forestry products and soybean oil. Alabama forestry suppliers will receive orders for 15,000 utility poles valued at approximately $3 million as well as significant orders of newsprint. Poultry suppliers are contracting for over 12,000 tons of chicken valued in excess of $7 million. Large volumes of soybean oil processed in Decatur, AL will also be under contract for shipment.

While attending the EXPO, Commissioner Sparks was able to introduce one of Alabama's newest shipping carriers, three new lumber and forestry companies, an Alabama feedstuff company, and representatives from the pharmaceutical and medical supply industry to Alimport and other Cuban government officials.

During the EXPO, Commissioner Sparks was able to meet with Cuba's Foreign Trade Minister Raul Ramirez, Chairman of Alimport Pedro Alvarez, Minister of Cuban Agriculture and Fidel's brother Ramon Castro, and Cuba's new Ambassador to the United States Jorge Bolanos.

Also in attendance at the EXPO were Nebraska's Governor, agriculture commissioners from Georgia, Minnesota, and Virginia, and companies representing 20 states and over 40 countries.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cuba has incredible numbers in international baseball events since 1961

Source: Peter C. Bjarkman at BasebalDeCuba.com

49| 2007 World Cup #37 (Chinese Taipei) – Silver Medal (8W-2L)

48| 2007 Pan American Games #15 (Río de Janeiro) – Gold Medal (4W-1L)

47| 2006 Intercontinental Cup #16 (Chinese Taipei) – Gold Medal (8W-1L)

46| 2006 MLB World Baseball Classic #1 (San Diego) – Silver Medal (5W-3L)

45| 2005 World Cup #36 (Netherlands) – Gold Medal (11W-0L)

44| 2004 Olympic Games #4 (Athens) – Gold Medal (8W-1L)

43| 2003 World Cup #35 (Havana) – Gold Medal (9W-0L)

42| 2003 Pan American Games #14 (Santo Domingo) – Gold Medal (5W-1L)

41| 2002 Intercontinental Cup #15 (Havana) – Gold Medal (10W-0L)

40| 2001 World Cup #34 (Chinese Taipei) – Gold Medal (9W-1L)

39| 2000 Olympic Games #3 (Sydney) – Silver Medal (7W-2)

38| 1999 Intercontinental Cup #14 (Sydney) – Silver Medal (6W-3)

37| 1999 Pan American Games #13 (Winnipeg, Canada) – Gold Medal (5W-2L)

36| 1998 World Cup #33 (Northern Italy) – Gold Medal (10W-0L)

(end of truly amateur events and beginning of the use of professional players)

35| 1997 Intercontinental Cup #13 (Barcelona, Spain) – Silver Medal (8W-1L)

34| 1996 Olympic Games #2 (Atlanta) – Gold Medal (9W-0L)

33| 1995 Intercontinental Cup #12 (Havana) – Gold Medal (9W-0L)

32| 1995 Pan American Games #12 (Argentina) – Gold Medal (9W-0L)

31| 1994 World Cup #32 (Nicaragua) – Gold Medal 10W-0L)

30| 1993 Intercontinental Cup #11 (Northern Italy) – Gold Medal (11W-0L)

29| 1992 Olympic Games #1 (Barcelona) – Gold Medal (9W-0L)

28| 1991 Intercontinental Cup #10 (Barcelona, Spain) – Gold Medal (10W-0L)

27| 1991 Pan American Games #11 (Havana) – Gold Medal (10W-0L)

26| 1990 World Cup #31 (Edmonton, Canada) – Gold Medal (10W-0L)

25| 1989 Intercontinental Cup #9 (San Juan, PR) – Gold Medal (8W-0L)

24| 1988 World Cup #30* (Northern Italy) – Gold Medal (13W-0L)

23| 1987 Intercontinental Cup #8 (Havana) – Gold Medal (13W-0L)

22| 1987 Pan American Games #10 (Indianapolis) – Gold Medal (8W-0L)

21| 1986 Amateur World Series #29 (Netherlands) – Gold Medal (10w-1L)

20| 1985 Intercontinental Cup #7 (Edmonton, Canada) – Gold Medal (8w-1L)

19| 1984 Amateur World Series #28 (Havana) – Gold Medal (11W-0L)

18| 1983 Intercontinental Cup #6 (Brussels) – Gold Medal (8W-2L)

17| 1983 Pan American Games #9 (Caracas) – Gold Medal (9W-0L)

16| 1981 Intercontinental Cup #5 (Edmonton, Canada) – Silver Medal (6W-3L)

15| 1980 Amateur World Series #26 (Tokyo) – Gold Medal (11W-0L)

14| 1979 Intercontinental Cup #4 (Havana) – Gold Medal (10W-0L)

13| 1979 Pan American Games #8 (San Juan, PR) – Gold Medal (8W-0L)

12| 1978 Amateur World Series #25 (Northern Italy) – Gold Medal (10W-0L)

11| 1976 Amateur World Series #24 (Colombia) – Gold Medal (10W-2L)

10| 1975 Pan American Games #7 (Mexico City) – Gold Medal (8W-0L)

9| 1973 Amateur World Series #21 (Havana) – Gold Medal (14W-0L)

8| 1972 Amateur World Series #20 (Nicaragua) – Gold medal (14W-1L)

7| 1971 Amateur World Series #19 (Havana) – Gold Medal (9W-0L)

6| 1971 Pan American Games #6 (Cali, Colombia) – Gold Medal (8W-0L)

5| 1970 Amateur World Series #18 (Colombia) – Gold Medal (12W-1L)

4| 1969 Amateur World Series #17 (Santo Domingo) – Gold Medal (10W-0L)

3| 1967 Pan American Games #5 (Winnipeg, Canada) – Silver Medal (8W-3L)

2| 1963 Pan American Games #4 (Brazil) – Gold Medal (7W-1L)

1| 1961 Amateur World Series #15 (Costa Rica) – Gold Medal (9W-0L)

---

JG: Numbers to be proud of, despite Sunday's loss to the Americans.

Cuban chess Grandmasters head for World Cup in Russia

China View

2007-11-21 08:40:23 Print

HAVANA, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Cuban chess Grandmasters Leinier Dominguez and Lazaro Bruzon on Tuesday set off for Russian city Khanty-Mansiysk, which will host the Chess World Cup starting on Saturday.

It will be the third time that Dominguez, rated 29th in the world with an Elo coefficient of 2,683, will compete in the Cup.

In the 2004's Cup in Libyan capital Tripoli, he earned the number eight spot, Cuba's best ever result. It will be national champion Bruzon's fourth Cup. He has an Elo of 2,607. His best result was reaching the third round in the 2005 competition.

The Cup has attracted 128 players from 39 countries. It is played using a knockout system, of two matches in each round. Tie breaks are settled with two 25-minute games followed by two five-minute games if needed.

If two rounds of tie breaks still do not yield a result, the game will be decided by a match where the player playing white has five minutes versus four minutes for black.

Editor: Sun Yunlong

A fake 'poll' of the Republicans

USA Today, published today findings of what they call a 'poll' of Cubans inside the island.

If there ever was a 'poll' that stinks to high heaven, this is the one. It has a quotation from the right wing Heritage Foundation, which some people say is funded by the United States government.

Get a hold of this:

A. The name of polling organization is International Republican Institute. I say that anything regarding Cuba, which is associated with the word Republican, is suspected of the typical anti-Cuba bias.

B. The persons that conducted this so-called 'poll' did not tell the people they were interviewing that they were being polled. Very professional, eh?

I say this is another attempt by Bush and the GOP to destabilize Cuba with false and misleading information.

Montecristo's Makeover


The New Band

Cigar Aficionado

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2007

By Gregory Mottola

Cuba's Montecristo band has had another makeover. The iconic brand recently underwent a little nip and tuck to give it a sharper look. The change is only one part of a major Habanos redesign for many of Cuba's cigars.

The fleur-de-lis, which is central to the band's design, remains unchanged, but it is now embossed, as are the circles adorning the center. The color of the band, although similar to the previous version, has also changed: the brown is darker and redder, more of a bean color than the previous milk chocolate shade. The new band first appeared on the Montecristo Petit Edmundo, then on the regular Edmundo size, and is now being produced for all Montecristos.

The new band marks the first change since 2003, when the band went from a matte brown to a glossy brown and the fleur-de-lis became more ornate.

For more on this story see the current issue of Cigar Insider. Also, check back here next week to see our photo gallery of Habanos's re-designed bands.

Cuba Sets January Date For Crucial Elections

KDKA - CBS

Nov 20, 2007 2:45 pm US/Eastern

HAVANA (AP) ― Cuba announced Tuesday it has set Jan. 20 for national elections that are part of the process of determining whether ailing leader Fidel Castro continues as president.

The ruling, signed by interim leader Raul Castro and read on state television, set the date for elections to provincial and national assemblies — voting that is held every five years.

There was no explicit mention of Fidel Castro, but the 81-year-old leader of the Cuban Revolution must be re-elected to the national parliament before he could repeat as president of the Council of State to remain in full power.

Raul, 76, is the council's first vice president

The date for the national elections had not been previously announced, but earlier indications were that the vote would not be held until March or April. There was no word on why the balloting will be held in January.

Fidel Castro stepped aside on July 31, 2006, after undergoing emergency intestinal surgery, provisionally ceding his powers to Raul and a team of other top leaders. He has not been seen in public since, appearing only in official photographs and videos and regularly writing essays with mostly international themes.

The parliament, known in Cuba as the National Assembly, elects a new council every five years, several weeks after deputies are elected. It was not announced when the new National Assembly would meet for the first time to renew the top council members.

The Constitution calls for the council's first vice president, currently Raul, to fill the presidential slot when vacated. Fidel, Cuba's unchallenged leader since 1959, held the council presidency since its 1976 creation.

---

Granma

Convocan a elecciones para Diputados y Delegados a las Asambleas Provinciales

RAÚL CASTRO RUZ, Primer Vicepresidente del Consejo de Estado de la República de Cuba, en virtud de lo establecido en el Artículo 94 de la Constitución de la República.

HAGO SABER: Que el Consejo de Estado ha considerado lo siguiente:

POR CUANTO: Mediante Acuerdo de este Órgano, de fecha 9 de julio de 2007, se convocó a los electores de la República para las elecciones generales con vista a elegir Delegados a las Asambleas Municipales y Delegados a las Asambleas Provinciales y Diputados a la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular, respectivamente: se estableció la fecha en que se efectuarían las elecciones para elegir a los Delegados a las Asambleas Municipales y se expresó que la fecha de las elecciones para elegir Delegados a las Asambleas Provinciales y Diputados a la Asamblea Nacional, respectivamente, sería dispuesta en el momento que correspondiera.

POR CUANTO: Teniendo en cuenta que ya se efectuaron las elecciones de la primera etapa, en las que se eligió, por un período de dos años y medio a los Delegados a las Asambleas Municipales del Poder Popular, es procedente disponer la fecha en que se celebrarán las correspondientes a la segunda etapa en las que se elegirán, por el término de cinco años, los Delegados a las Asambleas Provinciales y los Diputados a la Asamblea Nacional, respectivamente, del Poder Popular.

POR TANTO: El Consejo de Estado, en uso de las atribuciones conferidas, tanto en la Constitución de la República como en la Ley No. 72/92, "Ley Electoral", adopta el siguiente

ACUERDO

PRIMERO: Disponer que el próximo veinte de enero de dos mil ocho se celebren las elecciones, en las que los electores de la República elijan, por el término de cinco años, a los Delegados a las Asambleas Provin-ciales y Diputados a la Asamblea Nacional, respectivamente, del Poder Popular.

SEGUNDO: Comuníquese a los Presidentes de las Comisiones Nacionales Electoral y de Candidaturas, respectivamente, y a cuantas personas naturales o jurídicas corresponda, y publíquese en la Gaceta Oficial de la República.

DADO en el Palacio de la Revolución, en la ciudad de La Habana, a los veinte días del mes de noviembre de 2007, "Año 49 de la Revolución".

RAÚL CASTRO RUZ

Primer Vicepresidente del

Consejo de Estado

Letter from US Artists and Scholars in support of Cultural Relations with Cuba

JOIN THE SIGNERS OF THIS LETTER

November 19, 2007

President George W. Bush

The White House

Washington, DC

Dear President Bush:

We wish to bring to your attention the accompanying letter, dated October 26, 2007, received from Alicia Alonso, Prima Ballerina and Director of the Cuban National Ballet, and also Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Ms. Alonso has toured extensively in the United States and her work has long been admired by the American performing arts community, cultural critics and the public.

We are writing you as representatives of the cultural sphere in the United States. We write you as American citizens. We write to express our dismay at your administration’s continuing hostility towards Cuba. We write to express our opposition to policies that keep us divided from our Cuban counterparts, preventing cultural interchange between our two countries. We believe the time has come to move towards cooperation and constructive relations with Cuba.

The present policies deny such possibilities of friendship and cultural sharing. We further note that cultural interchanges and relationships are also modes of communication and expression. In denying us the possibility of engaging in such exchanges and relationships, we are being denied our fundamental rights as guaranteed by the 1st, 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

This reality seems to run counter to other positions expressed by your Administration. In September 2006, for example, Laura Bush inaugurated your Administration’s “Global Cultural Initiative,” stating that "One of the best ways we can deepen our friendships with the people of all countries is for us to better understand each other's culture by enjoying each other's literature, music, films and visual arts."

As citizens, artists, scholars, educators and cultural workers from all artistic practices, academic disciplines, advocacy and service organizations in the arts, we hope you will read and consider the words of Alicia Alonso as we call upon your Administration to:

1. open a respectful dialogue with the government and people of Cuba in accord with established protocols supported by the community of nations;

2. end the travel ban that prevents U.S. citizens from visiting Cuba and allow for Cuban artists and scholars to visit the United States, thus eliminating the censorship of art and ideas, and

3. initiate, by working with appropriate members of Congress, a process that can result in the development of normal bilateral relations between our countries.

The School of Assassins

Twenty Thousand Protest at Fort Benning: Eleven Face Federal Criminal Trials

By Bill Quigley
t r u t h o u t | Report

Monday 19 November 2007

In what has become the nation's largest annual gathering for peace and human rights, over twenty thousand people protested outside the gates of Fort Benning, GA, on November 18, 2007. Eleven people were arrested on federal criminal charges and face up to six months in prison.

Fort Benning is the site of the internationally notorious US Army training school for Latin American military and security personnel. For decades it was called the School of the Americas (SOA) - it is now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). The school has graduated hundreds of military officers who have led or participated in nearly every human rights atrocity in the hemisphere. Organizations across the world, including Amnesty International USA, have called for its closure since discovering copies of torture manuals used at the school. In June 2007, 203 members of the US House of Representatives voted to close the scandal-ridden school - six votes shy of the margin of victory.

Thousands listened quietly as Adriana Portillo-Bartow told how her father, stepmother, sister, sister-in-law and two daughters, ages nine and 11, were "disappeared" in Guatemala in a war directed and carried out by graduates of the US Army School of the Americas. Thousands moved towards the gates of the Fort and called out "presente!" as the names of hundreds of other victims of graduates of the school were sung out.

Veterans of WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the never-ending Gulf Wars marched side by side with Catholic sisters and Buddhist monks. Flowers, posters, pictures and thousands of small white crosses bearing the names of people executed by graduates of the school were put on the closed padlocked gates topped with barbed wire. Thousands of college and high school students chanted and prayed Grandmothers for Peace as military loudspeakers blared warnings and law enforcement helicopters hovered overhead. Huge puppets, singing children and drum circles alternated with the spirited calls of priests, rabbis and ministers of many faiths and races. Songs in many languages, indigenous chants, guitars, horns and mountain flutes filled the air.

The eleven people who crossed onto the grounds were arrested by military police. The eleven, ranging in age from 25 to 76, are scheduled for federal criminal trial January 28, 2008, for trespass - punishable by up to six months in federal prison. Over 200 people have served federal prison time for civil disobedience at prior protests - dozens of others arrested have served years of supervised federal probation. The movement to close the school started in 1990 when about 20 people held the first protest outside Fort Benning.

Even if the US government is reluctant to close the school, Latin American countries look like they will do it themselves. Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Venezuela have announced they are withdrawing their militaries from the school.

Crimes by graduates continue. Colombia recently arrested five high-ranking military officers who received training at the US Army School of Americas and two additional officers who were instructors at WHINSEC. All are charged with providing security and troops for the major drug cartel in Colombia.

Simultaneous protests occurred in Santiago, Chile, Tucson, Arizona - outside of Fort Huachuca - where three people were also arrested and face federal criminal charges, Toronto, Canada, as well as Berkeley and Monterey California.

For more on the movement to close the School of the Americas see www.soaw.org

Bill is a human rights lawyer and professor at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. Bill is also a member of the legal collective of School of Americas Watch. Quigley@loyno.edu

Dennis Kucinich at the School of the Americas Protest



Melissa Helman Crosses the Line at Ft. Benning



On Sunday, November 19, 2006, Melissa made the conscious decision to commit civil disobedience by climbing the fence that secured entrance ... all » to The School of The Americas. She was arrested after entering US Government property.

The School of the Americas, in 2001 renamed the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation," is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Over its 59 years, the SOA has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, "disappeared," massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the School of Assassins."

On January 29, 2007 Melissa will appear in court for a prison sentence of a maximum of six months. She will become a prisoner of consciousness, hope, and for peace.

Please take the time to contact your senators, congressmen, and whoever if you believe that the school should be shut down. (music by David Rovics: CC. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0)

Pilgrimage of Resistance (2007)

The Politics of Hope

The way Hillary Clinton unites the Republicans is a great concern. Obama is the best Democratic hope. He carries little baggage that the Republicans can pin on. His politics of hope appeal to independents and new voters. And, of course, he was against the Iraq war from beginning. Of all the Democratic candidates ….. the last person Republicans want to face is BARACK OBAMA. (PS: Ask Bob Novak!)

— Posted by E James

From an Internet Blog.

Venezuela, Cuba Preparing to Bring Cienfuegos Refinery Online

By Matthew Walter

Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuela and Cuba will start production at the Cienfuegos refinery on the Caribbean island nation ``in the coming days,'' Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said.

The countries' state oil companies Petroleos de Venezuela SA and CUPET formed a joint venture to bring the refinery online after it sat dormant for 14 years, Chavez said today while attending a summit for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Saudi Arabia, according to a government statement sent by e-mail.

During a first phase, Cienfuegos will process 65,000 barrels a day of crude oil into refined fuels, according to the statement. Cuba and Venezuela invested $236 million in the project. In the second phase, the countries plan to invest another $1.3 billion to increase output to 100,000 barrels a day.

The refinery, which was completed in 1991 with an installed capacity of about 76,000 barrels a day, has never operated because of its reliance on outdated technology from the former Soviet Union.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Walter in Caracas at mwalter4@bloomberg.net

Operation Peter Pan in the Poor Memory of Miami

Escambray

Although it may seem incredible, it is absolutely true: the right wing sector of Miami will dedicate Thanksgiving Day to parties, dinners and dancing, to Operation Peter Pan, which began in Havana 47 years ago.

The level of unreality and deceit in which many Cubans who escaped to the US in the early days of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 live, is shown by one of the party’s organizers when he characterizes that anti Cuban action as “freedom, sacrifice, perseverance and love”.

For an objective description of Operation Peter Pan, we must expose what really happened.

Between 1960 and 1962, 14,000 Cuban children were handed to so called charitable organizations by their parents, created by the institutions themselves to transport the children to the United States, where they would be housed for an undetermined time in undisclosed homes or orphanages.

It is not difficult then to imagine the torture the children went through, abruptly separated from their parents and other relatives, arriving in a strange country and without the slightest idea when they would see their loved ones again.

Many of those children have narrated and even written books or appeared in documentaries recalling the horrible incident, anguish and loneliness which placed them in the center of an episode totally beyond their comprehension..

That drama, whose psychological consequences will never let them forget, forms part of the so many anti Cuban actions against the Revolution by criminals and thieves tied to the ousted tyranny, elements of the Catholic Church and above all under the auspices of the US embassy in Havana.

The coordinator of Operation Peter Pan was Monsignor Bryan Walsh, a Priest from the Miami Dioceses closely linked to the Central Intelligence Agency. Those who conceived this monster took into consideration the logical climate of uncertainty between the bourgeoisie and lesser bourgeoisie, provoked by the process of socio-economic change on the island including a mass media campaign created by the North and whose objective was to prepare conditions to disseminate false information among the population.

The terror campaign began on October 26th,1960 through the Radio Swan transmissions, giving information about a false and never conceived Law where the children would be separated from their parents and sent to Russia to brainwash them and turn them into communists.

The anti Cuban sectors went as far as printing the so called law and distributing it among the population.

The first five children arrived to Miami on December 26th, 1960. That is how the sad child exodus began, which worsened in October of 1962 when the US government unilaterally cancelled direct flights to Cuba.

Thousands of parents who were promised visas and were anxiously waiting to reunite with their children, many of whom waited years, were left behind.

Peter Pan deserves to be remembered, but as an act of extreme cruelty and an example of the capacity, still valid, to lie, manipulate and exploit the feelings of love for each other in the interest of recovering privileges and squalid interests. (Taken from ACN).

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hillary, Nixon and the Fanjuls: birds of the same feathers?

“Hillary Clinton has always been an old-style Midwestern Republican in the Illinois style; one severely infected with Methodism, unlike the more populist variants from Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa.”

“Her first known political enterprise was in the 1960 presidential election, the squeaker where the state of Illinois notoriously put Kennedy over the top, courtesy of Mayor Daley, Sam Giancana and Judith Exner. Hillary was a Nixon supporter. She took it on herself to probe allegations of vote fraud. From the leafy middle-class suburbs of Chicago's west side, she journeyed to the tenements of the south side, another list in her hand. She went to an address recorded as the domicile of hundreds of Democratic voters and duly found an empty lot. She rushed back to campaign headquarters, agog with her discovery, only to be told that Nixon was throwing in the towel.”

“The setting of Hillary's political compass came in the late Sixties. The fraught year of 1968 saw the Goldwater girl getting a high-level internship in the House Republican Conference with Gerald Ford and Melvin Laird, without an ounce of the Goldwater libertarian pizzazz. Hillary says the assassinations of King and Robert Kennedy, plus the war in Vietnam, hit her hard. The impact was not of the intensity that prompted many of her generation to become radicals. [Hillary] left the suburb of Park Forest and rushed to Miami to the Republican Convention where she fulfilled a lifelong dream of meeting Frank Sinatra and John Wayne and devoted her energies to saving the Party from her former icon, Nixon, by working for Nelson Rockefeller.”

“Hillary was on Mondale's staff for the summer of '71, investigating worker abuses in the sugarcane plantations of southern Florida, as close to slavery as anywhere in the U.S.A. Life's ironies: Hillary raised not a cheep of protest when one of the prime plantation families, the Fanjuls, called in their chips (laid down in the form of big campaign contributions to Clinton) and insisted that Clinton tell Vice President Gore to abandon his calls for the Everglades to be restored, thus taking water Fanjul was appropriating for his operation.”

The above is from The Making of Hillary Clinton an article by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair.

MEET THE FANJUL FAMILY

To understand the power of Florida sugar, it is illustrative to look at the very wealthy, very private members of the Fanjul family of Florida. With an enormous sugar empire that dwarfs even the U.S. Sugar Corporation, the Fanjul family's sugar holdings in Florida and the Dominican Republic total more than 400,000 acres, operated by a family of companies under the corporate umbrella of Flo-Sun, Inc.

Four brothers -- Alfonso "Alfie," José "Pepe," Alexander, and Andres -- are the principal owners and managers of Flo-Sun. The Fanjuls are Cuban-American descendants of the wealthy Gomez-Mena family of Cuba, which controlled much of the American-dominated sugar industry in Cuba until Fidel Castro seized power, and the New York-based Fanjul family. Matriarch Lillian de Fanjul and her four sons make their home in exclusive Palm Beach, Florida, an hour's drive and a world away from the gritty sugar plantations of western Palm Beach County.

Unlike U.S. Sugar Corporation, its Florida rival, whose offices are smack in the middle of Clewiston's sugar fields, Flo-Sun is headquartered in a posh complex in Palm Beach. The Fanjuls themselves live in multimillion-dollar mansions set among the palm-tree-lined streets of the town.

With their wealth conservatively estimated at several hundred million dollars (Forbes magazine puts the figure at $500 million), the Fanjuls can afford to spread around lots of political money. And they do. Family members, corporate executives, the corporations themselves, and the Florida Sugar Cane League PAC have contributed $2.6 million to political candidates and committees since 1979. (Until mid-1994, the Fanjuls and executives for Fanjul companies accounted for an increasing share of the Florida Sugar Cane League PAC's funds, from 20 percent in 1980 to 62 percent in 1992. While the PAC is still filing reports with the FEC, there has been little actual activity, with only $38 listed as receipts since October 1994.) Fanjul family members alone gave direct contributions of $359,505 to more than 172 congressional candidates of both parties.

That is just the "hard" money. The Fanjuls also give substantial "soft money" contributions to political parties. In fact, the Fanjul family and its companies account for 59 percent of all the soft money given by the sugar industry to the national party committees since 1991.

The Democratic and Republican parties alike are beneficiaries of Fanjul largesse. Alfie Fanjul, one of the four Fanjul brothers who controls Flo-Sun, is a lifelong Democrat. He served as co-chairman of Bill Clinton's Florida campaign, and co-sponsored a Cuban-American fund-raiser at Victor's Cafe in Miami that reportedly raised more than $100,000 for Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, according to The Wall Street Journal. In addition, Fanjul-controlled companies have contributed $131,000 to the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee since 1991. After Clinton won, Fanjul was invited to attend the president-elect's "economic summit" in Little Rock, where he occupied a place three seats away from Clinton and Vice President-elect Al Gore and next to future Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen. Alfie Fanjul later appeared with Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt at a ceremony announcing an Everglades cleanup plan.

His brother, José "Pepe" Fanjul, is a Republican activist who served as a vice chairman of the Bush-Quayle finance committee during the 1988 presidential campaign. In 1988, Pepe Fanjul was also a member of "Team 100," the group of people giving $100,000 or more to the Republican Party. In 1990, he was a guest in the Bush White House. Since 1991, Fanjul-controlled companies have contributed more than $186,500 in soft money to Republican national committees. More recently, Pepe Fanjul joined the finance committee of Sen. Bob Dole's (R-Kan.) presidential campaign.

There's nothing unusual about the Fanjul family's extensive political contributions, according to Jorge Dominicis, a vice president of Flo-Sun, Inc. Dominicis was interviewed by a researcher for the Center for Responsive Politics in August 1994. "People who are powerful contribute and have access to political leaders," Dominicis said. "You contribute to people with whom you've had a relationship in the past. It's not hard to figure out who to give money to. Tom Lewis [R-Fla.] has been very helpful. And it doesn't take much to realize that Charlie Rose [D-N] is chairman of the subcommittee that handles your issues. It's all part of the process. It keeps you from being forgotten or not having access to that office. If you're a large company and you don't contribute, you have a tough time. Members conclude that you don't support them."

Over the years, the Fanjuls have enjoyed high-level contacts with the Reagan, Bush and Clinton Administrations, key members of Congress, and most of Florida's political establishment. Former Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher is a family friend, and during the Bush Administration, the Fanjuls and Mosbacher spent a lot of time together, including vacations at a Fanjul-owned resort in the Dominican Republic. In February 1994, according to the Palm Beach Post, Alfie Fanjul paid $5,000 to attend a fund-raising dinner organized by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), and even offered the use of his yacht Crili to attendees.

The above is from Sugar’s First Family by the Center for Responsive Politics.

JG: Let us not forget that it was Hillary’s husband, President Bill Clinton, who prostituted himself by jumping into bed with none other than U.S. Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), and signed into law the infamous Helms-Burton Act.

Hillary has declared that she would continue the failed Cuba embargo, which last month was condemned by a 184-4 vote at the United Nations. She would follow the policies of Nixon, Reagan and Bush, and most likely, if she is the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, would accept money, like her husband Bill, from the Fanjul brothers and the ultra right wing PAC’s of Miami.