Saturday, January 31, 2009

En Español: Memorandum of understanding in regards to the strategic collaboration between the Republic of Cuba and the Russian Federation

Durante las conversaciones oficiales sostenidas por el Presidente de los Consejos de Estado y de Ministros de la República de Cuba, Raúl Castro Ruz, y el Presidente de la Federación de Rusia, Dimitri A. Medvedev, los mandatarios expresaron su satisfacción por el desarrollo ascendente de la colaboración entre ambos países en las esferas política, económico-comercial, científico-técnica, cultural, humanitaria y otras, que constituye un testimonio de la amistad histórica y el respeto mutuo existente entre los pueblos ruso y cubano. Ambos dirigentes declararon su intención de establecer relaciones de carácter estratégico.

Los jefes de Estado acordaron profundizar el diálogo ruso-cubano a todos los niveles, incluido el máximo nivel, sobre una amplia gama de temas de la agenda internacional y de las relaciones bilaterales, a cuyo desarrollo debe contribuir el incremento del comercio de bienes y servicios, los intercambios en diferentes ramas de la actividad productiva y de los conocimientos científico-técnicos. Esta colaboración tiene el objetivo de promover el florecimiento y progreso de los dos pueblos.

Raúl Castro Ruz y Dimitri A. Medvedev constataron con satisfacción la coincidencia de posiciones respecto a la necesidad de un sistema multipolar y estable de las relaciones internacionales, que garantice el desarrollo sostenible, así como la búsqueda de vías para lograr la paz y el bienestar de la comunidad mundial.

Reafirmaron la necesidad de un nuevo orden internacional basado en la Carta de la ONU y en las normas del derecho internacional, en los principios de respeto a la soberanía, no injerencia en los asuntos internos, de autodeterminación, igualdad soberana de los Estados, solución pacífica de las controversias y el no uso de la fuerza o amenazas de su empleo.

Rechazaron enérgicamente la imposición de medidas coercitivas unilaterales y, muy particularmente, el bloqueo económico, comercial y financiero impuesto por el gobierno de los EE.UU. contra Cuba.

Las partes reiteraron su disposición de continuar desarrollando los vínculos bilaterales mediante la profundización del diálogo a todos los niveles sobre los temas internacionales y regionales, mediante el perfeccionamiento creciente de los mecanismos de consultas periódicas, la más estrecha coordinación en la ONU y en otros organismos internacionales, para contribuir al establecimiento de un orden internacional justo y equitativo, al fortalecimiento de la seguridad y la estabilidad internacional, así como a estrechar los lazos de amistad fraternal, solidarios y de colaboración multifacética.

Los Jefes de Estado declararon su más decidida condena al terrorismo en todas sus formas y manifestaciones, y reafirmaron su aspiración de fortalecer el papel central de la ONU en la lucha contra el mismo. Manifestaron la preocupación por los fuertes vínculos del terrorismo con el crimen internacional organizado, el tráfico ilegal de drogas y de armas; y subrayaron especialmente el peligro de que las armas de exterminio en masa puedan caer en manos de terroristas.

Reafirmaron la voluntad de cumplir sus obligaciones en relación con el desarme y el control de armamentos, así como coordinar sus esfuerzos con el objetivo de lograr la no proliferación, teniendo en cuenta sus legislaciones nacionales y las mencionadas obligaciones internacionales en esta materia.

Raúl Castro Ruz y Dimitri A. Medvedev manifestaron su profunda preocupación ante la actual crisis económico-financiera y expresaron su opinión de que la solución de la misma exige una profunda reforma del sistema financiero internacional, que permita establecer un orden mundial estable y justo que garantice el desarrollo sostenible y la disminución de la desigualdad social. Para garantizar lo anterior las partes acordaron actuar de manera coordinada en las organizaciones internacionales.

Reconociendo como uno de los problemas más serios de la actualidad, la proliferación ilícita de narcóticos y otras sustancias psicotrópicas, los mandatarios reafirmaron su decisión de luchar contra la producción ilegal, el tráfico y el consumo ilícitos de estos, así como los delitos relacionados, incluyendo el lavado de dinero. Subrayaron la gran importancia de coordinar acciones utilizando las posibilidades que ofrecen los acuerdos bilaterales y multilaterales dirigidos no sólo a impedir el tráfico ilegal de narcóticos, sino también a aquellos vinculados a la prevención.

Los Jefes de Estado subrayaron que el respeto a la diversidad cultural constituye una de las condiciones clave para la estabilidad internacional. En ese sentido adquiere particular importancia la ampliación del diálogo intercultural e interreligioso con el objetivo de crear posibilidades para el desarrollo armónico y el enriquecimiento mutuo de las culturas y las civilizaciones.

Las partes contribuirán a la realización de intercambios entre los órganos legislativos, ejecutivos y judiciales, y entre los representantes de diferentes organizaciones estatales y sociales.

Cuba y Rusia coadyuvarán al desempeño exitoso de la Comisión Intergubernamental, así como al de otros órganos permanentes y especiales de colaboración en la esfera del comercio, la economía, la seguridad, la colaboración técnico-militar, la protección del medio ambiente, la cultura, la educación, la ciencia y las tecnologías, y otros órganos que se considere necesario crear.

Las partes continuarán fortaleciendo la base jurídico–contractual de las relaciones bilaterales.

Firmado en Moscú, a los 30 días del mes de enero del año 2009 en dos ejemplares en idiomas español y ruso.

Raúl Castro Ruz
Presidente de los Consejos
de Estado y de Ministros
de la República de Cuba

Dimitri A. Medvedev
Presidente de la
Federación de Rusia

Chavez to Obama; "Hand over the terrorist monster"

Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:17am EST

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez urged U.S. President Barack Obama to extradite an anti-Castro Cuban exile wanted in Venezuela who the administration of George W. Bush had refused to hand over.

Extradition of former CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles, accused of plotting the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jet that killed 73 people, could improve bilateral ties that have for years been frayed by a war of words between the Bush administration and Venezuela.

"Send us the terrorist Posada Carriles," Chavez said in a televised speech late on Friday. "We've been waiting four years for the extradition of the biggest terrorist in human history."

The Bush administration had refused to hand over Posada after he was arrested in the United States for entering the country illegally, sparking harsh criticism of a double standard in Washington's war on terror.

Posada, who was involved in the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion to topple Cuban leader Fidel Castro, was jailed for two years in Texas on immigration charges but released in 2007. He now lives in Miami.

Posada also is accused in Cuba of plotting 1997 hotel bombings in Havana that killed an Italian tourist.

Chavez, whose country provides some 12 percent of U.S. oil imports, was a harsh critic of former President George W. Bush. He has accused Obama of repeating the same policies, although he recently applauded Obama's decision to shut the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

He also has urged Obama to lift the U.S. embargo of Cuba and return Guantanamo Bay, which the United States has rented since the early 20th century.

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Bill Trott)

------

JG: This is where we discover if Obama is truly an agent of change, or where we discover that he merely stands for more of the same.

Coco Taxi: Cuba's ingenuity at work

They are definitely much cuter than those ugly Camellos which were put to pasture a few months ago.

These colorful Cuban inventions are powered by an Italian engine and a Cuban made fiber glass body.

The Coco Taxis are the best way to comfortably sight see Havana. You might get lucky and spot one of those beautiful Cuban brunettes on your way to a helado de mamey at the famous Coppelia Ice Cream Park on 23rd Street and L Avenue.

I want to take Cuban model Vida Guerra in my Coco Taxi when I visit Havana. See below.

Ay, caramba!

Peter C. Bjarkman reports on new rules for the 2009 World Baseball Classic

Michel Enríquez smacked the crucial hit that spelled victory for Cuba in the landmark “tie-breaker” game with Team USA at Beijing.

Observations On Some World Baseball Classic Rules Changes

By Peter C. Bjarkman
January 30, 2009

Special for www.baseballdecuba.com

Major League Baseball officials met yesterday (January 29) to adopt several rule modifications for the second edition of the World Baseball Classic, and what they have come up with carries some loud echoes of baseball’s other top “world championship” event—the one staged under the Olympic banner last August in Beijing. Foremost among the modifications is the one putting in place a “sudden-death” extra-inning rule to prevent lengthy tie ball games that stretch out fixed television schedules and wreck havoc with tournament administration. Under the Beijing-style format the thirteenth inning of a tied game would begin with runners automatically placed on first and second bases and the original batting order remaining in tact. (In the Olympic tournament this rule was put into effect in the top of the eleventh inning, and managers were allowed to readjust the spot in their batting order where they wished to start the inning, once the unorthodox tie-breaker went into effect.) Whether or not this baseball-unfriendly scenario will be utilized for the championship game in Los Angeles is still under review and discussion by the WBC committee.

As this author wrote at length during the Beijing tournament, this intended game-shortening rule may be a necessity for international tournaments—events designed for television presentation and featuring several games daily. Yet it does hold a sour taste for baseball purists who have always found the “timelessness” of the sport to be its most special and endearing feature. It also must be noted that when the tie-breaker scenario came into play during several contests in Beijing it hardly seemed to function as originally designed: to speed up extra-inning contests by manufacturing a hasty resolution through gifted rather than hard-earned runs. Managers adopted numerous delaying strategies to manipulate the rule; the first batter was regularly walked to load the bases and thus set up force outs at any base, and numerous pitching changes and managerial mound visits then normally ensued. The inevitable result of such strategies was that one extra inning played under the new rules often dragged out as long, or longer, than several frames played under traditional baseball regulations. And none of the managers (winners or losers) seemed particularly pleased with the outcomes that resulted—especially USA skipper Davy Johnson after his team fell to heated rival Cuba in the first testing of the revolutionary format.

Other rule modifications will likely prove less controversial, although some seem to take away from the original spirit of the diamond sport. The pitch count limits in effect for WBC I will now be upped slightly: 70 (from 65) total pitches allowed to any hurler in Round One, 85 (up from 80) in Round Two, and 100 (up from 95) in the semifinals and finals. The wording of the new regulations also seems to suggest that these will now be strictly “per-game” limits, and thus that an opening round pitcher (for example) will not be restricted to only 70 tosses for the entire round. This last matter is not entirely clear in the MLB press release as originally worded. The pitch-count limits were supposedly adopted in 2006 to protect the arms of big league hurlers who were not yet in mid-season form; however, the rule impacted most heavily on the staff of Team Cuba, whose ace closer Pedro Lazo was not available for use in the finale. (Cuba would likely have thrown Lazo into almost every tight game had the rules allowed this).

One other pitch-count rule will be an entirely new innovation for this year’s version of the Classic. Since this time around the two semifinal matches in Los Angeles will be played on consecutive days—rather than on the same day, as was the case in 2006—no hurler throwing more than 30 pitches in the semis will be allowed to return for the finals. This rule has been adopted to take away any advantage that might accrue to a team winning the earlier semifinal match and thus enjoying an extra day of rest before the championship game.

A couple of other modifications seem to forebode less dramatic impact. The current MLB rule of video replay will be in effect, which means that umpires will be allowed to review certain “boundary calls”—especially home run balls near a foul pole, apparent home run balls that graze the top of the fence, or possible fan interference on what might appear to be home run balls. Also, first and third base coaches will be required to wear protective head gear (batting helmets) as a safety measure, and teams will now also be required to announce their starting pitchers one full day in advance. (Regarding the later issue, during previous IBAF international championship tournaments such as the World Cup, Olympics, and Intercontinental Cup, managers were allowed to announce starters—at the same time as the remaining lineup—as late as one half-hour before the opening pitch.)

Despite the non-traditional elements in several of these rules (especially the tie-breaker system and the artificial pitch-counts), fans are likely in store for large doses of thrilling baseball action when national teams of the world’s top baseball countries square off in early March. It is hoped in this quarter that MLB officials will resist any attempt to cheapen the grand finale with their thirteenth-inning rule that might well ruin a perfect climactic pitchers’ dual for the expediency of pre-arranged network television schedules.

Peter C. Bjarkman, author of A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864-2006, will cover the 2009 WBC II for www.baseballdecuba.com from Mexico City, San Diego and Los Angeles. His latest books entitled Baseball’s Other Big Red Machine: The History of the Cuban National Team and Who’s Who in Cuban Baseball, 1962-2007 will appear from McFarland & Company Publishers during the coming year.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Euphemisms of American Imperialism

Torture is an 'enhanced interrogation technique.'

The prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is merely a 'detention center.'

Violations of the Constitution are 'signing statements.'

Civilians killed by the zionists in the Gaza strip or by U.S. soldiers in My Lai during the Vietnam War are only 'collateral damage.'

George Orwell's newspeak is alive and well and residing in Washington, D.C.

O Liberty! Liberty! how many crimes are committed in thy name!

Texas Agiculture Commisioner asks Obama to increase trade with Cuba

KXXV-TV

Associated Press - January 30, 2009 2:05 PM ET

AUSTIN (AP) - Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced today he's asking President Barack Obama to help expand trade with Cuba.

Staples wants Cuba to be restored as a market for Texas and American products, plus to help Cuba's humanitarian needs.

Staples made the announcement during a symposium on Cuba-U.S. relations at the University of Texas at Austin.

Staples sent a letter to Obama this week saying other countries are capitalizing on Cuban demands for products.

The Texan is asking that Obama move aggressively toward strong diplomatic relationships that "allow for free and open trade with our Cuban neighbors."

Staples led a Texas delegation to Cuba last year.

The Quality of Home Runs: Cuban baseball book to debut in February


Book Launch and seminar,
Dr. Thomas F. Carter,
University of Brighton

6:30 p.m.
Thursday 5 February, 2009
Henry Thomas Room,
Tower Building
London Metropolitan University
London N7 8DB


In the parks, bars, and cafes as well as homes, schools, and stadiums across Cuba, Cubans argue about baseball. These discussions are not just about baseball but what it means to be Cuban.

In this seminar, Thomas Carter introduces his new book on how baseball has played a significant role since the nineteenth century in Cuban society and in the formation of Cuban national identity and how it continues to resonate with everyday life and politics to this day.

Its associations with nation building, independence, revolution and a myriad of other values make Cubans what they are. It serves as a form of self-expression and a means for distinguishing themselves from others while providing a forum for negotiating relationships between citizen and state in the discourse of nationalism.

This evening’s seminar will provide an overview of the historical trajectories of baseball in Cuba and its inherently Cuban values associated with the playing and watching of the sport.

Dr. Thomas F. Carter is a cultural anthropologist who earned his doctorate in anthropology in the desert southwest of the United States at the University of New Mexico. He has taught at several institutions in the US and UK and is currently Senior Lecturer at the Chelsea School in the University of Brighton. He is part of the first generation of anthropologists to conduct detailed ethnographic fieldwork in Cuba since the 1959 Revolution and the only one that studies interrelationships between nationalism, cultural identity and Cuban baseball. His ethnographic research in Havana (30 months) and Belfast (30 months) has made him a leading expert on the interplay of sport, identity politics, transnational migration, and spectacles at the local, national, international levels.

Wine will be served after this seminar and Dr. Carter will be available to sign copies of his book

Entrance to this seminar is free but please register your intention to attend by email: admin@cubastudies.org

Fidel Castro demands Obama return Guantanamo base

Yahoo! News

Reuters - Friday, January 30

By Marc Frank

HAVANA - Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro demanded on Thursday that President Barack Obama return the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo to Cuba without conditions, and he accused the new U.S. leader of supporting "Israeli genocide" against Palestinians.

Castro, who had recently praised Obama as "honest" and "noble", lashed out at his administration for stating that Washington will not return Guantanamo if it has any military use for the United States and without concessions in return.

"Maintaining a military base in Cuba against the will of the people violates the most elemental principles of international law," Castro wrote in a column posted on the government-run website www.cubadebate.cu.

"Not respecting Cuba's will is an arrogant act and an abuse of immense power against a little country," Castro said, resorting to a charge he has leveled against the 10 previous U.S. presidents since he came to power in a 1959 revolution.

Cuba indefinitely leased Guantanamo to the United States in 1903 after the United States occupied the country during the 1898 Spanish-American War. Castro charges that the base at the south-eastern tip of Cuba was taken over illegally.

Earlier on Thursday, Washington's loudest critic in Latin America, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, also urged Obama to return the Guantanamo base, after applauding his decision to close the prison camp for terrorism suspects there.

"Now he should return Guantanamo and Guantanamo Bay to the Cubans because that is Cuban territory," Chavez, Cuba's closest ally, said in a speech in Brazil.

Fidel Castro has been seen only in a few videos and photos since undergoing intestinal surgery in July 2006 from which he never fully recovered.

But he has maintained a public profile through his writings and meetings with visiting foreign leaders, and he is believed to retain an important political role behind the scenes.

His brother Raul Castro provisionally took power after the surgery, then officially became president in February.

Obama has said he wants to move towards normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations but would not eliminate the 46-year-old U.S. trade embargo against the communist-led island without political reforms.

Until Thursday's column, the Castro brothers had praised Obama and held back direct criticism of his administration.

Fidel Castro on Thursday also attacked Obama for supporting Israel's invasion of Gaza.

"It is the way our friend Obama has fallen into sharing Israel's genocide against Palestinians," Castro wrote in his column called "Deciphering the thought of the new U.S. president."

------

Reflexiones del compañero Fidel: DESCIFRANDO EL PENSAMIENTO DEL NUEVO PRESIDENTE DE ESTADOS UNIDOS

Fidel Castro Ruz

2009-01-29

No es demasiado difícil. Después de su toma de posesión, Barack Obama declaró que la devolución del territorio ocupado por la Base Naval de Guantánamo a su legítimo dueño debía sopesar, en primer término, si afectaba o no en lo más mínimo, la capacidad defensiva de Estados Unidos.

Añadía de inmediato, que respecto a la devolución a Cuba del territorio ocupado por la misma, debía considerar bajo qué concesiones la parte cubana accedería a esa solución, lo cual equivale a la exigencia de un cambio en su sistema político, un precio contra el cual Cuba ha luchado durante medio siglo.

Mantener una base militar en Cuba contra la voluntad de nuestro pueblo, viola los más elementales principios del derecho internacional. Es una facultad del Presidente de Estados Unidos acatar esa norma sin condición alguna. No respetarla constituye un acto de soberbia y un abuso de su inmenso poder contra un pequeño país.

Si se desea comprender mejor el carácter abusivo del poder del imperio debe tomarse en cuenta las declaraciones publicadas en el sitio oficial de Internet por el gobierno de Estados Unidos el 22 de enero de 2009, después del acceso al mando, de Barack Obama. Biden y Obama deciden apoyar resueltamente la relación entre Estados Unidos e Israel, y consideran que el incontrovertible compromiso en Oriente Medio debe ser la seguridad de Israel, el principal aliado de Estados Unidos en la región.

Estados Unidos nunca se distanciará de Israel y su presidente y vicepresidente “creen resueltamente en el derecho de Israel de proteger sus ciudadanos”, asegura la declaración de principios, que retoma en esos puntos la política seguida por el gobierno del predecesor de Obama, George W. Bush.

Es el modo de compartir el genocidio contra los palestinos en que ha caído nuestro amigo Obama. Edulcorantes similares ofrece a Rusia, China, Europa, América Latina y el resto del mundo, después que Estados Unidos convirtió a Israel en una importante potencia nuclear que absorbe cada año una parte significativa de las exportaciones de la próspera industria militar del imperio, con lo cual amenaza, con una violencia extrema, a la población de todos los países de fe musulmana.

Ejemplos parecidos abundan, no hace falta ser adivino. Léase, para más ilustración, las declaraciones del nuevo Jefe del Pentágono, experto en asuntos bélicos.

Fidel Castro Ruz

29 de enero de 2009

6 y 17 p.m.

Hemingway's Cuba letters now at JFK Library

In this photo provided by the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum writer Ernest Hemingway appears Cuba in 1948. Thanks to an agreement between U.S. Rep James McGovern, D-Mass., and the Cuban government, copies of more than 3,000 documents from Hemingway's time in Cuba are at the John F. Kennedy Library. (AP Photo/John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, HO)

January 29, 2009

By KELSEY ABBRUZZESE

BOSTON (AP) — When Gaylord Johnson Jr. was struggling with a term paper at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., he figured he'd ask for help from someone who knew the material best: Ernest Hemingway.

"I've read a couple of the Nick Adams stories and have also read critical material on the same," Johnson wrote in a letter to Hemingway in 1956, referring to one of Hemingway's most famous characters. "I am, however, not quite satisfied with all I've read, and I wondered if you would write me and tell me just what you think of Nick Adams."

Johnson's letter, along with more than 3,000 other documents from Hemingway's time in Cuba, was previously tucked away in the basement of Hemingway's estate at Finca Vigia, unseen by scholars and researchers.

Now, thanks to an agreement between U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., and the Cuban government, copies of those writings are at the John F. Kennedy Library.

The archival replicas include corrected proofs of "The Old Man and the Sea," a movie script based on the novel, an alternate ending to "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and thousands of letters, with correspondence from authors Sinclair Lewis and John Dos Passos and actress Ingrid Bergman. The documents were previewed Thursday and will likely be available to researchers in late spring.

McGovern, museum officials and scholars hailed the agreement with Cuba as historic cooperation between the two countries.

"It's a turning point toward a more rational, mature relationship between our two countries," McGovern said. "I think Hemingway can be the bridge to help move both sides to a point where we can have a good, solid relationship."

McGovern, an advocate of normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba, said Cubans consider Hemingway one of their own because he lived there for 21 years, longer than any other place he resided in his life.

The Worcester congressman also credited the Cubans working at Finca Vigia for scanning and digitizing all the materials and working to preserve the originals and the house in Cuba, which was also part of the agreement.

The JFK Library already has an extensive collection of Hemingway material — 100,000 pages of writings and 10,000 photographs, paintings and personal objects such as Hemingway's passports, flasks and wallet — thanks to a connection between Hemingway's fourth wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway, and the Kennedys.

Hemingway's wife returned to Cuba in 1961 after Hemingway's death that July, hoping to retrieve his belongings from his house at Finca Vigia. Because Fidel Castro had risen to power, she asked a friend who knew the Kennedys if President Kennedy could help her get to Cuba and take Hemingway's possessions back to the United States, since the Cuban government planned to turn the estate into a Hemingway museum. The president took care of logistics within days.

When Mary Hemingway decided to donate the collection to a library, Jacqueline Kennedy told her through a letter exchange that Hemingway's writings would always have a special place in the JFK Library.

The collection has been available for viewing by appointment on the fifth floor since 1972, and the library boasts the most comprehensive body of Hemingway material in one place.

Still, Sandra Spanier, professor of English and general editor of the Hemingway Letters Project at Pennsylvania State University, said that Mary Hemingway couldn't physically carry everything out of Cuba because of the large volume of works. Spanier was part of the group that saw what was left behind at the Hemingway Museum at Finca de Vigia in 2002, along with Jenny Phillips, a Concord psychotherapist whose grandfather, Maxwell Perkins, was Hemingway's editor.

Phillips arranged the trip through McGovern when she heard there were letters in the basement from her grandfather but couldn't gain access to them. She returned with her husband, Frank Spanier, and Pulitzer Prize-winning Perkins biographer A. Scott Berg to assess the collection and look into steps to preserve it.

Spanier said she got goosebumps when she saw Hemingway letters to Mary before their marriage and an original typescript of the short story "In Another Country."

The microfilm copies at the JFK Library provide scholars a window into the period that occupied half of Hemingway's writing life, which before left a "black hole" in Hemingway studies because the material was off-limits to biographers, Spanier said.

"The question has always been, what didn't Mary bring out?" Spanier said. "It's really a very intimate view of him that we've not had."

As library director Tom Putnam said, "This completes the story."

Jenny Phillips saw the story of her grandfather's relationship to Hemingway. In one typed letter in 1929, Perkins addressed Hemingway without a salutation and wrote in his own hand at the bottom: "For God's sake, un-Mister me anyhow."

"It started as an immodest little curiosity about letters from my grandfather that might still be in the basement at Finca Vigia," Phillips said. "The larger significance of the project became obvious very quickly."

Russia and Cuba sign partnership at Kremlin talks

Fri Jan 30, 2009 1:01pm GMT

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro signed a "strategic partnership" agreement at a Kremlin meeting on Friday, part of a new era of friendship between the former Cold War allies.

The two sides drew up 34 agreements during Castro's visit to Moscow -- the first visit by a Cuban leader since the end of the Cold War. No details of the partnership document were released.

Russia has also agreed to give Cuba a loan to buy Russian goods, although the exact amount of the loan was not disclosed.

"Your visit to our country opens a new page of Russia-Cuba relations," Medvedev said during opening remarks.

Moscow was Cuba's main benefactor during the Cold War but relations waned after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Over the past few months both countries have worked to rebuild ties. Russian oil companies want to drill in the sea around Cuba and its military has talked about air defence cooperation with the Cubans.

"It is our duty on the Cuban side ... to take the appropriate steps for the constant, serene but unstoppable consolidation of our relations in all aspects," Castro said.

"The strategic association we have agreed ... reflects perfectly what we have achieved and what we aspire to achieve."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ex-slugger Linares says Cuban baseball declining

International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press

Published: January 29, 2009

HAVANA: Cuban great Omar Linares believes baseball on the island has "dropped a notch," and that players need to improve their fundamentals and play more international games in order to regain their lost dominance.

In a surprisingly candid interview with Cuban state television, the 41-year-old retired third baseman said Wednesday night that "from the beginning, a good job is not being done and players accumulate deficiencies, getting older without knowing how to bunt or pick up coaches signals, for example."

"That's why I believe Cuban baseball has dropped a notch," he said, adding that players in development for future spots on the Cuban national team "should go up against more quality teams because baseball has improved a lot on an international level."

With an eye toward this year's World Baseball Classic, Linares said Cuba "will have to prepare more and prepare better" and that players will "have to take their training seriously" if they want to win. Cuba finished second in the inaugural WBC, falling to Japan.

Linares, now a hitting instructor for Cuba's top team, Industriales of Havana, said he hoped to one day earn a top coaching spot with the national team. But in a country where almost no one dares publicly criticize any aspect of life, his comments on government television may hinder his chances for future promotion.

Once dubbed by Baseball America as the most influential amateur player of the last 25 years, Linares was a home run machine who also hit for average and was a solid fielder with a strong throwing arm. He batted third and was the hero of Cuban gold medal winning Olympic teams in 1992 and 1996, as well as the squad that took silver after falling to the United States in 2000.

He was pursued by U.S. major league scouts throughout the 1980s and once claimed team officials offered him $40 million to defect during the Olympics in Atlanta.

Linares is known in Cuba as "El Niño," or "the Kid," because he joined the island's top league at 15 and won a spot on national team just two year's later, becoming the youngest player in its history.

During 20 seasons in Cuba, he had a career average of .368 with 404 home runs. With the government's blessing, he went to Japan to play professionally in 2002, but by then was past his prime.

Cuba lost to South Korea and took silver at the Beijing Olympics, after losing in July to the United States during the championship game of the 24th Haarlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands. In 2007, the island's national team also fell to the Americans in the final of the Baseball World Cup.

Cuba asks for the return of Guantanamo

Published: Thursday 29 January 2009 09:11 UTC

Cuban Foreign Minister, Felipe Perez Roque, has asked for the return of Guantánamo Bay from the United States. Cuba has tried to get the territory where the US army base is located back since 1959, but Guantánamo bay has been in American hands since the 19th century.

Now that US President Barack Obama has decided to close the prison camp at the base, there is new hope in Havana. The contract for the territory can only be annulled if both Cuba and the United States agree.

Source: Radio Netherlands

Joan Carlos Pedroso hits three Bambino Shots

Cuban slugger Joan Carlos Pedroso, who plays for the Las Tunas team in Cuba’s National Baseball Series, hit three homers in the game against Granma last night.

Pedroso is now in third place in the home runs category, and is within striking distance of leaders Rolando Meriño and Yosvani Peraza who both have have 12 bambinazos.

Players of El Béisbol Cubano

U.S. Corn Growers: Re-establish trade with Cuba

1/28/2009 4:04:00 PM

National Corn Growers Association Urges Reopening Of Trade With Cuba

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), along with other agricultural producers, food processors and exporters, sent a letter to President Obama urging his administration to consider re-opening trade and economic relations with Cuba. Opening trade and travel would allow Cuba to buy more products from the U.S. and would significantly improve the United States’ relationship with other trading partners in the region.

“With Cuba being just 90 miles off the coast of Florida, it makes perfect sense to re-open trade and travel,” Bill Hoffman, Chairman of the Joint Trade Action Team said. “Building the United States’ relationship with Cuba would not only bring immediate benefits to agriculture but would also allow America to assist Cuban citizens with humanitarian needs.”

Last year, 104 members of the House of Representatives and 24 Senators sent letters on this same issue, demonstrating strong bipartisan support for this issue.

In addition to NCGA, organizations that signed the letter include American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Chicken Council, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation, National Oilseed Processors Association, National Sorghum Producers, National Turkey Federation, North American Export Grain Association, North American Millers Association, Northarvest Bean Growers Association, USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, USA Rice Federation, U.S. Dairy Export Council, U.S. Grains Council, US Rice Producers Association and U.S. Wheat Associates.

Click here for a copy of the letter to President Obama. (PDF File)

'Cuban Five' will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court today

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Attorneys for five Cubans sentenced in 2001 on espionage charges will file an appeal with the US Supreme Court on Thursday, a source close to the case told AFP.

The appeal is based on the case having been tried in Miami, which the defense argues is a city with a large population of anti-communist Cuban exiles who were biased against the defendants.

The Cuban spies had argued that they were monitoring Florida-based anti-Castro groups to prevent terrorist attacks on Cuba, and that their work was not directed against the U.S. government.

Cuba to invite U.N. torture investigator to visit

Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:25pm GMT

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba is inviting the U.N. special investigator on torture to visit the country this year, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez said on Wednesday.

Perez announced the planned visit of Manfred Novak as he elaborated on plans for Cuba to testify next month before the U.N. Human Rights Council on the situation in the Communist-run nation.

"Cuba is a country where in the last 50 years there has not been a single person ''disappeared'', case of torture nor extrajudicial execution," Perez said.

For decades Cuba refused to cooperate with the U.N. Human Rights Commission or receive investigators, claiming they were part of U.S. efforts to besmirch and undermine the revolution.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission was reorganized into the Human Rights Council with less western influence in 2007. Cuba has cooperated with the new body and is a member.

Novak has the title of "Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." The U.N. special rapporteur for food visited Cuba in 2007.

U.N. member governments must present a report on the human rights situation in their country to the U.N. Human Rights Council every four years.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Highlights: 2006 World Baseball Classic

video

Why is Cuba so successful in protecting its citizens from hurricanes?

Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas to lead delegation to Cuba

By Leigh Jones
The Daily News

Published January 28, 2009
Hurricane Ike smacked the Caribbean island of Cuba twice before rolling on to Galveston.

Although seven Cubans died during the storm, 2.6 million people — 23 percent of the island’s population — evacuated out of harm’s way.

Just three days later, 40 percent of Galveston’s 57,000 residents prepared to weather Ike’s wrath in their homes.

Across Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, 20 people died during the storm.

Despite the national policy of silence toward the tiny communist nation, America’s coastal communities have something to learn from the Cubans, some say.

Later this year, Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas will lead a delegation of regional officials to Cuba to find out if Galveston could improve its hurricane response by emulating any part of the Cuban plan.

The Washington, D.C.-based Center for International Policy, which is organizing the trip, asked Thomas to join the delegation because Galveston and Cuba were twin victims of Ike, said Wayne Smith, a senior fellow at the center and director of its Cuba program.

“We have our differences to be sure,” he said, alluding to the ongoing tensions between the United States and Cuba. “But both of us are in the path of these hurricanes that seem to be increasing in size, intensity and number. How can we cooperate? How can we better help one another in these circumstances?”

This year’s trip is the third in a series of meetings between Cuban and American officials the center has organized. In 2007, Cuban officials joined political leaders from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in Monterey, Mexico.

In 2008, the group made its first visit to Cuba to visit the country’s meteorological service and meet with medical response teams.

Thomas, who has never been to Cuba, said she was interested to see what Cuba’s hurricane experts had to say.

Cuba’s expertise in dealing with hurricanes dates back to around 1900, when the country established the first hurricane observation network.

The Cubans could have helped warn Galveston about the 1900 Storm, but three weeks before it made landfall, the federal government banned all meteorological information coming from the island.

Thomas and her fellow delegates will publish a report on their findings when they return to the United States.

Although the trip’s dates have not been finalized, it likely will take place in April, she said.

The trip is being funded by the The Atlantic Philanthropies, a New York-based organization that provides grants to groups that work with disadvantaged and vulnerable people.

January 28: 156th Anniversary of the birth of José Martí


José Martí has not died. He lives immortally and eternally in the heroic pages of Cuban history. He is with us every day, and his words illuminate our trail, day and night.

The Apostle said:


"Barricades of ideas are worth more than barricades of stones."

"Life on earth is a hand-to-hand mortal combat... between the law of love and the law of hate."

"A knowledge of different literatures is the best way to free one's self from the tyranny of any of them."

"To beautify life is to give it an object."

"Men are products, expressions, reflections; they live to the extent that they coincide with their epoch, or to the extent that they differ markedly from it."

"A grain of poetry suffices to season a century."

"Man needs to go outside himself in order to find repose and reveal himself."

"Mankind is composed of two sorts of men — those who love and create, and those who hate and destroy."

"I am good, and like a good thing
I will die with my face to the sun."

"Now is the time of the furnaces, and only light should be seen."

"Rights are to be taken, not requested; seized, not begged for."

"The motherland is an altar, not a platform."

"Day and night I always dream with open eyes."

"The conceited villager believes the entire world to be his village.'

"To govern well, one must see things as they are."

"Whoever brushes aside even a part of the truth, whether through intention or oversight, is doomed to fall. The truth he lacks thrives on negligence, and brings down whatever is built without it. It is easy to resolve our problem knowing its components than resolve them without knowing them."

"Knowing is what counts. To know one's country and govern it with that knowledge is the only way to free it from tyranny."

"The problem of independence did not lie in a change of forms but in change of spirit."

"Absolute ideas must take relative forms if they are not to fail because of an error in form."

"Politics and strategy are one."

"One must have faith in the best in men and distrust the worst. One must allow the best to be shown so that it reveals and prevails over the worst."

"The soul, equal and eternal, emanates from bodies of different shapes and colors. Whoever foments and spreads antagonism and hate between the races, sins against humanity."

"Everything that divides men, separates or pens them, is a sin against humanity."

"Ostentatious men who are governed by self-interest will combine, whether white or black, and the generous and selfless will similarly unite."

"Liberty is the right of every man to be honest, to think and to speak without hypocrisy."

"Liberty is the essence of life. Whatever is done without it is imperfect."

"Freedoms, like privileges, prevail or are imperiled together You cannot harm or strive to achieve one without harming or furthering all."

"The vote is the most effective and merciful instrument that man has devised to manage his affairs."

"Fortunately, there is a sane equilibrium in the character of nations, as there is in that of men. The force of passion is balanced by the force of interest. A nation that neglects either of these forces perishes. They must be steered together, like a pair of carriage horses."

"Talent is a gift that brings with it an obligation to serve the world, and not ourselves, for it is not of our making."

"He who could have been a torch and stoops to being a pair of jaws is a deserter."

"It is the duty of man to raise up man."

"A genuine man goes to the roots. To be a radical is no more than that: to go to the roots. He who does not see things in their depth should not call himself a radical."

"It is a sin not to do what one is capable of doing.

"Men of action, above all those whose actions are guided by love, live forever. Action is the dignity of greatness."

"Like stones rolling down hills, fair ideas reach their objectives despite all obstacles and barriers. It may be possible to speed or hinder them, but impossible to stop them.

"It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."

“All of the world’s glory fits in a kernel of corn.”

"With all, and for the good of all."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Two exemplary things that Bill Clinton did in regards to the Cuba issue

1) He appointed a very courageous and competent lady, Janet Reno, as his Attorney General. When the nutty family of Elián González in Miami refused to hand over the child to his father, Juan Miguel González, and publicly said “You will have to take him from us by force,” Miss Reno replied “much obliged” and proceeded to do it on April 22, 2000.

2) U.S. Representative George Nethercutt, Democrat from Washington State, introduced The Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Said bill allowed U.S. companies to make one-way, all-cash agricultural sales to Cuba. The bill passed overwhelmingly in a vote of 301-116, and President William J. Clinton signed into law on October 28, 2000.

I hope that our new President, the Honorable Barack H. Obama, will not keep us much longer in a state of suspense, and will surpass Bill with many more exemplary things in regards to our U.S.-Cuba policies.

House Congressional Resolution 17

Expressing the sense of Congress with regard to providing humanitarian assistance to Countries of the Caribbean [Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Turk and Caicos, The Bahamas] devastated by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike and Tropical Storms Fay and Hanna.

Government Printing Office PDF File

Inauguran exposición titulada Mirar a Martí

Foto: Calixto N. Llanes

Juventud Rebelde

Por: Aracelys Bedevia

Correo: digital@jrebelde.cip.cu
27 de enero de 2009 00:05:54 GMT

Jóvenes cubanos inauguraron la exposición Mirar a Martí, que contó con la presencia de Armando Hart, presidente de la Oficina del Programa Martiano

Una muestra de diez grandes obras, realizadas por igual número de artistas, que convida desde su título a Mirar a Martí, fue inaugurada este lunes, en la galería Orígenes del Gran Teatro de la Habana, como parte del tributo de la UJC al más universal de los cubanos.

Ahí, a solo unos metros de la primera estatua que se levantó en Cuba a nuestro Héroe Nacional, está el Martí activista, convocador, inquieto y penetrante imaginado por Roberto Diago Querol; el Apóstol pensador de Alberto Jorge Carol; y el héroe cubanísimo, el Martí puro y criollo de Juan Vicente Bonachea.

Otros grandes de la plástica cubana como Flora Fong, Mariano Rodríguez, Nelson Domínguez, Raúl Martínez, René Portocarrero, Ernesto García Peña y Ernesto Rancaño, ofrecen también su visión del hombre de La Edad de Oro. Del Martí sencillo y tierno que con los pobres de la tierra quiso su suerte echar, del que nos recuerda que toda la gloria del mundo cabe en un grano de maíz.

«Cada una de estas obras, más allá de técnicas, materiales y figuraciones es una evocación particular de ese símbolo que es Martí para los cubanos de bien. Todas, sin excepción, nacieron de ese diálogo personalísimo que, como cada cubano, estos artistas de la plástica han tenido en la intimidad con ese hombre que, al decir de Lezama, es un misterio que nos acompaña», expresó Luis Morlote, presidente de la AHS, en la apertura de la exposición que contó con la presencia de Armando Hart, presidente de la Oficina del Programa Martiano y Julio Martínez, primer secretario de la UJC, entre otros invitados.

Visiblemente emocionado por la selección de la obras, Hart expresó su gratitud a la juventud cubana. «No hay nada que me reconforte más que el contacto con ustedes», y anunció que el próximo 24 de febrero darán a conocer la convocatoria de un concurso destinado a promover el pensamiento martiano.

The difference between being a responsible opposition and being a foreign financed Fifth Column

There are people who want to build and there are others who want to destroy.

Much has been written for many years about the opponents of the Cuban government inside the island. Some call them dissidents; some naïve persons call them ‘freedom fighters’ and the Cuban government calls them ‘mercenaries’ paid and directed by the Yankee imperialists.

Where does the truth lie? That is something that, at times, is very difficult to ascertain.

Every country in the world has laws which prevent people from violently trying to overthrow the legally established order. Cuba is no exception.

The United States government has spent billions of taxpayer money financing and directing groups inside the island which would like to restore dog-eat-dog capitalism to the island. Those efforts are not only immoral; they are also illegal. No country has the right to stick its nose into the internal affairs of another country. Unfortunately, that is a very bad trait of Americans and their government.

When Michael Parmly, the head of the United States Interest Section in Havana was serving as a ‘mule’ to transmit illegal payments from supposedly terrorist groups or persons in Miami to the so called ‘dissidents’ inside the island, he was not engaging in the normal and legal activities of a diplomat. He was engaging in criminal and illegal activities. He deserved to be declared ‘Persona Non-Grata’ by the Cuban government.

When the ‘Ladies in White’ perform their ritualistic and peaceful march in a Havana neighborhood they are exercising a human right which is enshrined in the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights.’

A National Dialogue needs to be established by all responsible parties, including the government, inside the island. Those who do not act in a responsible way do not deserve to sit at the table.

Corpus Christi bean trade with Cuba grows

Corpus Christi was the first port to sign an agreement with the Pearl of the Antilles.

Caller Times, Corpus Christi, Texas

By Fanny S. Chirinos
Originally published 12:00 a.m., January 27, 2009

CORPUS CHRISTI — About 5,000 tons of pinto beans will leave the Port of Corpus Christi this evening and arrive in the Port of Santiago de Cuba by Saturday evening. The shipment is the first to head for Cuba this year.

Corpus Christi-based WestStar Foods began loading the sacks of beans on Monday aboard the MCP Famagusta, a vessel chartered by Register International. Pat Walleson, WestStar's managing partner, said he expects to ship an additional 5,000 to 15,000 tons to Cuba this year.

The four-day trip to the island will mark the 92nd charter to Cuba for Register International, said its president, Sean Register. The Corpus Christi port in 2003 became the first U.S. port to sign a trade agreement with Cuba.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Raul Castro to visit Russia

January 26, 2009

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Cuban President Raul Castro will arrive in Moscow on Wednesday on an official visit until February 4, Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing the Kremlin.

Russia is considering a $20 million loan to Cuba, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said last week, adding that the money would be spent on buying Russian goods.

Russian oil firms want to drill offshore and its military has talked about airspace defense cooperation with Havana.

(Reporting by Simon Shuster; editing by Elizabeth Piper)

Cuba’s deficiencies

1) The economy. A centrally planned economy does not work very well. Cuba must move to a more open and free market system, with extremely tough controls and regulations to prevent and correct the excesses and greed of a purely laissez-faire capitalist economy. Scams and frauds must not be allowed ever. Protection of the consumer should be rule number one.

2) One political party. Cuba has many proud accomplishments, like education, health care and sports, but a one party state can never be called a democracy. Cuba is an autocracy. Political parties which adhere to the Socialist principles of Cuba’s constitution should be allowed.

3) The press and expression. Because of the attempts of the Yankee imperialists to subvert and destroy Cuba’s chosen political path, freedom of expression and of the press does not exist in Cuba. Criticizing the government should not be grounds to send someone to jail.

4) Thefts and corruption is something that the Cuban government has to deal with very strongly and forcefully.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Right wing Florida State Representatives sent letter to King George in 2003 asking him for the "liberation" of Cuba

A letter to the president

Posted on Tue, Aug. 12, 2003 in The Miami Herald.

This is a letter sent Monday to President Bush by several state Republican representatives from South Florida regarding U.S. policy on Cuba.

It is with great pride in your dedicated service to our nation that we send our most cordial greetings from South Florida. Our continued thoughts and prayers are with you as you continue to courageously provide our country a forceful and steady hand during some difficult times in world affairs.

We take this opportunity to write in light of recent developments regarding U.S.-Cuba policy. As you know, the Cuban-American community has been one of the most, if not the most, loyal constituencies in the Republican Party's history. The elections of Republican icons like former presidents Reagan and Bush demonstrated this loyalty as Cuban Americans voted over 90 percent for their candidacies. It is no mistake or coincidence that three out of four Hispanic Republican members of the U.S. Congress are Cuban American.

Given its loyalty to the GOP, we are obligated to share with you a growing and alarming concern in the Cuban-American community regarding the Bush administration's current Cuba policy.

The Cuban-American community is most appreciative of your steadfast commitment to maintain U.S. sanctions against the Castro regime until all political prisoners are freed in Cuba, freedom of expression and association is established and internationally supervised elections are scheduled. However, there is great disappointment and outrage over the lack of a comprehensive policy agenda that reflects your commitment to such a serious issue as the freedom of the Cuban people.

The Cuban-American members of Congress have made specific recommendations to the administration. These recommendations include:

o Immediate revision of the 1994 Clinton-Castro Migration Accord.

o Indictment of Fidel Castro for the murder of three U.S. citizens and a U.S. legal resident on Feb. 24, 1996.

o Ensuring TV Martí is seen by the Cuban people.

o Increasing financial and technical assistance to Cuba's democratic opposition movement.

We wholeheartedly endorse these recommendations.

We feel it is our responsibility as Republican elected officials to inform you that unless substantial progress on the above-mentioned issues occurs rapidly, we fear the historic and intense support from Cuban-American voters for Republican federal candidates, including yourself, will be jeopardized.

Next month our Cuban-American congressmen will face another serious battle in Congress to prevent the weakening of the U.S. embargo on the Cuban dictatorship. Specifically, Republican Rep. Jeff Flake is expected to renew his effort to open mass U.S. tourism to the Cuban dictatorship. You have firmly opposed any weakening of the embargo in the past.

It is absolutely critical that you express as soon as possible, once again, that you will never permit any weakening of the embargo while you are president.

Furthermore, our community is firmly opposed to the 1994 Clinton-Castro Migration Accord, by which Cuban refugees intercepted at sea are returned to Cuba.

In the fall of 2000, as a candidate for the presidency, you committed in a letter to Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart that you would carry out as president a thorough review of all Clinton executive actions regarding Cuba, including the Migration Accord. The community is still waiting for the promised review.

It is important for your administration to realize that there will always be threats of mass migration from Cuba, as well as other serious threats to U.S. national security, as long as the Castro regime is in power.

Accordingly, the ultimate solution to any potential migration crisis is the liberation of Cuba.

The Cuban tragedy must receive priority attention by your administration. Our members of Congress need to be continuously sought out and supported on the issue of Cuba.

The recent misguided and offensive negotiations between your administration and the Cuban tyranny for 10-year prison sentences for returned refugees who had been intercepted at sea highlights the importance of coordinating with our Cuban-American congresspersons on Cuba-related issues.

Cuba can no longer continue to suffer.

Our community deserves the highest attention and consideration regarding freedom and democracy for the Cuban people.

As stated earlier, without significant, immediate and tangible progress on the issues outlined in this letter, we cannot guarantee that in next year's election Cuban Americans will provide Republican candidates for federal office the unprecedented levels of support garnered in past elections.

We hope this matter can be resolved before Cuban-American support for Republican candidates is further damaged. Justice for the Cuban people and the loyalty of Cuban Americans to the Republican Party deserve nothing less.

The letter was signed by Reps. Ralph Arza, Gus Barreiro, Gastón Cantens, René García, Marcelo Llorente, Juan-Carlos Planas, Manny Priéguez, David Rivera, Julio Robaina, Marco Rubio, Ken Sorensen, Juan Zapata, and John Quiñones.

------

JG: Comemierdas Bastards! Why don't these comecandelas send their sons an daughters to "liberate" Cuba, or better yet, why don't they lead a new invasion of Cuba with them at the head of the new "Brigade"? Reason: because they do not have the necessary cojones.

Exit polls: Bolivian referendum passing. A big win for Socialism.

LA PAZ, Bolivia, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Bolivians voted Sunday to swing their country toward socialism and allow President Evo Morales to seek re-election this year, exit polls indicated.

Television exit polls showed the constitutional referendum being approved by 60 percent of Bolivians.

------

JG: Socialism is on the ascendancy in Latin America. People are tired of Capitalist exploitation.

‘Los Viejitos’ of Miami-Dade are more right wing and more reactionary than the rest of the Cuban American population as a whole

Boy, am I in trouble! Before I start, I must say that everyone is entitled to their own opinion as long as they agree with me. Gotcha! Just kidding!

The Poll that is awaited every year was released recently. I am talking about the famous FIU poll. I feel that the poll is vastly overrated because it only relies on 800 Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade County. The sample is extremely small and the poll is not representative of how all Cuban Americans feel in the totality of the state of Florida, which has an extremely large population of Cuban Americans. For example: there is a large Cuban American community in the Tampa Bay area. None of them were interviewed. This poll only represents the views of the Miamians and not the entire Cuban American community, either in Florida or in the continental U.S.

Lets get to the key question:

When do you think that major political changes are likely to occur in Cuba?

57% of ‘Los Viejitos’ (65 and older) felt that the correct answer was either ‘NEVER’ or ‘NEVER AS LONG AS A CASTRO IS IN CHARGE.

Boy, what a bunch of sourpusses these old farts are!

Remedy: Every night, before they go to bed, have them drink one gallon of prune juice and five pounds of Ex-Lax.

Problem solved!

An Opening to Cuba Can Give Obama Momentum Internationally

Global Research.Ca

January 24, 2009

Center for International Policy - 2009-01-23

By Dr. Wayne Smith

Cuba will not be a priority issue for the new U.S. administration, either in terms of economic interests or security concerns. It will face far more urgent problems in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in tensions between Pakistan and India, and between Israel and Hamas - not to mention the challenge of how to turn around the U.S. economy. But as pointed out in the Brookings report and by a number of other analyses, moving toward a more sensible approach toward Cuba will be one of the quickest and easiest ways of signaling change and encouraging support for our broader foreign policy agenda - especially in Latin America. The fact is that we have no support whatever for our present Cuba policy. Dozens of other governments, including key Latin American governments, have called on us to change that policy. And most certainly it should be changed - as befits a policy that hasn't worked in fifty years, a policy that has become more than anything else an embarrassment.

Most governments call on us to lift the embargo. But that cannot be the first step. Congress must first annul the Helms-Burton Act and encourage the Congress in the right direction. At best, however, it will take time and there will be opposition.

But President Obama can immediately signal change by dropping the Bush administration's rhetoric, which has held that its objective was to bring down the Castro government; rather, Obama should indicate instead that the U.S. wants to encourage change through reduced tensions and dialogue. And in the latter context, it should immediately resume the periodic conversations that used to be held between U.S. and Cuban officials about issues such as migration and drug interdiction and indicate its willingness to discuss other pressing bilateral issues.

And there are a number of things Obama can do quickly and easily, indeed, with the stroke of a pen, that will make a real difference. For example:

Cuban-American Travel. Obama has said that he will immediately remove the restrictions on Cuban-American travel and remittances to their families on the island. A good first step. These were imposed by executive order in 2004. Prior to that, Cuban-Americans could visit their families on the island once a year, but no one really checked, so in fact they could visit more frequently than that if there was some need. Since 2004, however, they have only been able to visit once every three years, and, incredibly, there has been no provision for emergency travel. Hence, if, say, Maria, visited her mother in September of 2005, but then, upon return to the U.S., was informed in December that her mother had taken suddenly ill and was dying, there was no way Maria could return to be at her mother's bedside. Rather, she would be told that in three years, she could visit the grave. That is inhumane. Fortunately, Obama has promised to allow Cuban-Americans unlimited travel.

End Restrictions on Academic and Educational Travel. At the same time in 2004 that the Bush administration imposed restrictions on Cuban-American travel, it also imposed severe restrictions on academic travel, and did so arbitrarily. It said it was imposing the new restrictions because of "abuses" of the old system, but it could never point to a single abuse; rather, its purpose clearly was to drastically reduce academic exchanges. And it succeeded. Prior to 2004, there had been hundreds of American students involved in study programs in Cuba. After 2004, only a handful. The principal problem had to do with the length of the new programs. Prior to 2004, most programs had been of three-to-four weeks duration to focus on some aspect of, say, Cuba's culture, politics, history or economy. These programs had neatly fit between semesters and had not interfered with graduation schedules. But after 2004, all programs had to be at least ten-weeks long, i.e., semester-length programs. These did interfere with graduation schedules; hence, few students signed up for them. The very successful academic study programs in Cuba by and large came to an end - in blatant violation of academic freedoms. As in the case of the restrictions on Cuban-American travel, these unwarranted restrictions on academic travel were imposed by executive order. Hence, here again, President Obama can remove them simply with a new executive order, i.e., with the stroke of a pen. And he should do so, in defense of academic freedoms, because the study programs were valuable politically, and to signal change.

At the same time, he should remove the restrictions that were imposed in 2003 on educational travel. This travel had been organized by institutions such as the National Geographic and various art museums and cultural institutions to take Americans to Cuba to learn about Cuban art and culture. Thousands of Americans traveled to Cuba under these programs, travel which certainly strengthened cultural ties between the two peoples. As in the previous cases, the restrictions were imposed by executive order and, again, can be removed by President Obama with the stroke of a pen.

Encourage the Lifting of all Travel Controls. It will take congressional action to lift all travel controls, so that any American who wishes can travel freely to Cuba. It will be important that the president from the outset indicate his full support for such a measure and urge the Congress to introduce and pass the necessary legislation. During the years of the Cold War, the U.S. pushed for the Helsinki Agreements and encouraged Americans to travel to the Soviet Union, believing them to be, in one way or another, messengers of democracy. That seemed to work reasonably well. How then does it make any sense for us now to prevent Americans from traveling to Cuba? In fact, it does not.

Begin Issuing Visas to Cubans Again. In years past, it was possible to have academic and cultural exchanges with Cuba, with Cuban scholars coming to U.S. universities and conferences, and Cuban artists and musicians able to participate in cultural events in the United States. Under the Bush administration, that has been virtually impossible. Cuban academics have not even been given visas to come to the conferences held by the Latin American Studies Association (LASA). In reaction, LASA has taken the position that until our country is again open enough to invite Cuban participants, it will hold no more conferences in the U.S. Accordingly, last year's conference was moved from Boston to Toronto. This is an embarrassment to us all. The Obama administration should immediately remedy the situation by instructing the State Department to begin again issuing visas to Cuban scholars and cultural figures invited to participate in exchange programs, research projects or cultural presentations. They should, in effect, go back to the guidelines for visas issuance that existed prior to the Bush administration - and examine the possibilities of broadening those guidelines in the months and years ahead, as relations improve and expand.

Remove the Restrictions on Cuban Payment for Agricultural Goods. Over the past few years, U.S. agricultural producers have been allowed to sell to Cuba. Indeed, they are now one of its major suppliers, selling over $500 million a year of their products to the island. Estimates are, however, that those sales could be tripled if the U.S. government would remove the complicated payment system it forces the Cubans to follow. This also could be done with the stroke of a pen and would benefit U.S. suppliers as well as Cuban purchasers. It should be done as quickly as possible. Remove Cuba From the List of State Sponsors of Terrorism. Cuba has been on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism for many years now. Leaving aside the question of whether it ever should have been on the list, there has been no evidence at all over the past decade that would justify its presence there. I study the list carefully every year and have noted what seems to be an effort on the part of its authors to signal their disagreement with its conclusions. For example, the 2007 report noted that "Cuba did not attempt to track, block or seize terrorist assets, although the authority to do so is contained in Cuba's Law 93 against acts of terrorism, as well as Instruction 19 of the Superintendent of the Cuban Central Bank."

But any competent lawyer would respond to that by asking "what assets?" There is no evidence at all that Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organization has any assets in Cuba. And so, there is nothing to seize. The only thing the statement makes clear is that Cuba does have laws on the books against support for terrorism. How, one must ask, does that square with the report's assertion that Cuba is a terrorist state? And the 2007 report also mentions the presence in Cuba of members of the Basque ETA guerrilla organization and the Colombian FARC and ELN. But it acknowledges that they are living legally in Cuba and goes on to state that: "There is no information concerning terrorist activities of these or other organizations on Cuban territory."

That being the case, their presence, then, is not a cause to keep Cuba on the list. Removing Cuba from the list can be accomplished without fanfare or policy statements. The State Department every spring prepares a report on the subject. In years past, those reports have concluded that Cuba should remain on the list, but have done so without any supporting evidence. This year, once the new leadership is in place in the State Department, it should give instructions to those preparing the report to come up with an honest conclusion. If there is no evidence that Cuba is involved in terrorist activities, the report should say so and recommend that it be removed from the list.

Pardon the Cuban Five in Return for the Release of Cuban Political Prisoners. Cuba will never accept preconditions. Demanding that it release political prisoners before the U.S. takes any steps to improve relations is the best way to assure that neither ever takes place. The Cubans have been down that road before, to their regret. Raul Castro, however, has come up with an interesting idea. One gesture for another, as he describes it. Cuba would be willing to talk to a number of the dissidents now held in prison, and their families, to see if they'd be interested in going to the U.S. If so, Cuba would be willing to release them. That would be its gesture. The gesture on the part of the U.S. would be that it free the Cuban Five, the five Cuban agents who came to the U.S. to penetrate and spy on exile terrorist organizations in Miami.

The Cuban Five should be pardoned anyway. Their trials were grossly unfair. There was never any evidence that they had committed any crime other than to be the unregistered agents of a foreign power. They were spying on exile groups, not on the U.S. government. And spying on exile groups is not a crime. The case of Gerardo Hernandez is perhaps the worst. Convicted of "conspiracy to commit murder," he is serving a life sentence. Yet there was never any evidence at all that he was involved in any way in the shoot down of the Brothers to the Rescue aircraft back in 1996. The conviction of the Five and their long years in prison are a black mark on the U.S. system of justice, one that at some point must be overturned. One can imagine the outcry among some in Miami, however, at the suggestion that they be pardoned.

Raul Castro's suggestion may offer a way out. It would be difficult for the hardliners to oppose the pardoning of the Five if that was to lead to the freeing of a group of political prisoners in Cuba. And so, hopefully, it is something President Obama can at some point consider.

Close TV Marti. For years now, the U.S. has tried to beam television programs into Cuba. The Cubans have by and large managed to block them out so the U.S. is now having the signals broadcast from a plane. This is most expensive and has had questionable success. In any event, the programs are broadcast during the dawn hours, so it is doubtful that many people would be watching even if they could receive the signals. The whole exercise simply makes us look foolish. TV Marti should be cancelled, and in fact so should Radio Marti; rather, we should go back to programs on the VOA. These were widely listened to in Cuba and had great credibility, something Radio Marti has never had.

An Encouraging Word. After so long and bitter a feud, the idea of restoring amicable relations may seem quixotic. If, however, the two sides begin a dialogue and discuss their differences sensibly and logically, they will find that solutions are not so difficult to come by. Neither should pose a threat to the other's security and economic engagement would benefit both. Dialogue, in short, can produce a mutually-beneficial outcome that confrontation never could.


International Policy Brief January 2009

Dr. Wayne S. Smith is one of our most veteran Cuba-watchers. He first began observing the Cuban Revolution as an analyst in the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research in early 1957, just after Castro returned to Cuba to begin his guerrilla struggle against Batista. He was then transferred to Havana, arriving there in August of 1958 and remaining as Third Secretary of Political Affairs until the U.S. broke diplomatic relations in January of 1961. He served on the Cuba Desk from 1964-66 and was with the first group of American diplomats to return to Cuba in 1977. From 1977 until 1979, he was director of Cuba Affairs in the Department of State, and then became chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana until 1982, when he left the Foreign Service because of his disagreements with policy. Since then, he was been an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University involved with its Cuba Exchange Program, and since 1992, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C. where he directs its Cuba Program. He is the author of The Closest of Enemies: A Personal and Diplomatic History of the Castro Years (W. W. Norton, 1987).

Global Research Articles by Wayne Smith

------

JG: As usual, Dr. Smith's article about Cuba is excellent.

The duo is gone, but their cheerleader is not

During the reign of George W. Bush, a duo in his incompetent and reactionary administration was at the top of the pyramid which has always tried to undermine Cuba’s right to independence and national sovereignty. They were Otto Reich and John Bolton. They were more right wing than the infamous U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, who was the point man of American imperialism in its ideological and economic war against Cuba and who, unfortunately, was embraced by former president Bill Clinton. These two individuals were so bad, that during Bush’s tenure, the U.S. Senate refused to confirm them to jobs which GWB had assigned to them.

They are, of course, now gone, after our new 44th President was sworn in last Tuesday.

John Bolton tried to accuse Cuba of manufacturing biological weapons which could be used for a “terrorist” attack on the United States. Fawning sycophants in the Democratic Party, led by U.S. Senator Robert Menéndez became cheerleaders for the idiotic patrañas mouthed by Bolton, when the U.S. Senator from New Jersey declared that “I am happy to see that the [Bush] administration has finally come forth with an acknowledgement of Cuba’s capabilities. Cuba’s biotechnology industry is not just for medical reasons… I think they could be making a variety of things, from anthrax to smallpox to other agents. ”

Should Mr. Menendez make an appointment with a shrink to treat his paranoia?

Was George W. Bush, with the help of Mr. Menéndez’ dutiful cheerleading, planning to use the groundless claims of Mr. Bolton as an excuse to launch a pre-emptive attack on Cuba during 2002 and 2003?

The duo, and their master in the Oval Office are now gone, but the cheerleader is still serving in the U.S. Senate. Time to get rid of him too in the next election!

Cuba - José Martí - Currency

Front

Back

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why the Miami Cubans failed

"In South Florida, the Cuban American community has held enormous sway over U.S-Cuba policy, and in recent years, it tightened its grip on both the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government. Strongly supported by President Bush, heavily influential on Capitol Hill (with the help of two Cuban American senators, four representatives, and one of the best lobbying games in Washington), and a political and financial force in Miami, the Cuban exile community reached new heights of political power during the Bush years. Yet it still remained powerless to achieve what it claimed to seek -- a transition to democracy in Cuba -- because its leadership had so fully renounced the diplomatic tools and economic leverage required to meet that objective. In the absence of political dialogue, economic engagement, communication, and contact, the Cuban exiles rely almost wholly on the bureaucratic tools of the U.S. government to force a change in Cuba."

      Daniel P. Erickson
      The Cuba Wars
      Bloomsbury Press, New York, 2008

Cuba 1868-1968 Cien Años de Lucha

Fighters for Independence
and
National Sovereignty












Friday, January 23, 2009

Cuba's Foreign Minister welcomes Obama order to close Guantanamo

January 23, 2009 - 8:30 p.m.

GUATEMALA CITY (AFP) — Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque on Friday welcomed US President Barack Obama's decision to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and said he hoped the US base there would be dismantled.

"I see the decision of President Obama to close the torture and detention center as a positive step, Perez Roque told journalists during a visit to Guatemala.

"I think that the existence of a center where they've carried out physical and psychological torture, and humiliated prisoners, is an affront to humanity," Perez Roque added.

The Cuban foreign minister said he hoped the United States would dismantle the naval base where the "war on terror" prison camp is located -- it has been in Guantanamo, on the island's southeast coast, for more than a century -- and return the land to Cuba.

"The Guantanamo naval base remains against the will and desire of the people and the government of Cuba," Perez Roque said.

The 45-square-mile (115-square-kilometer) facility is the oldest overseas US Navy base; the Cuban government says the Guantanamo lease, signed in 1903, is invalid, while Washington claims it is valid.

On Thursday, Obama ordered the closure of the prison camp within a year and banned torture in a dramatic repudiation of the anti-terror policies of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro and his brother, President Raul Castro, had warm words for newly sworn-in Obama on Wednesday, in sharp contrast with decades of anti-US rhetoric.

Russia to help Cuba with oil projects

January 23, 2009 - 4:20 p.m.

MOSCOW (AP) — Leading Russian oil companies pledged to help Cubapetroleo with prospecting, production, refining and other aspects of the oil industry under an agreement signed in Moscow on Friday before Cuban President Raul Castro's visit next week, Russian news agencies reported.

The memorandum of understanding calls for cooperation on activities "from geological work to drilling, refining and sales" of oil, ITAR-Tass and Interfax quoted Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, a point man for the economic side of Russia's renewed push for influence in Latin America.

Dalal's Story


Dalal Abu Aisha is a 13 year old Palestinian girl living in the Gaza Strip. Her father and mother and her two brothers and sister were killed by an aerial bombardment conducted by the Israeli zionists during their recent aggression. She and her cat were the only survivors.

The Next Step

The 44th President of the United States has signed an executive order to close the prison which the U.S. maintains at its naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba.

That is only a first step.

If a person reads carefully the document which established the naval base in Guantanamo, he/she will see that said document only authorized the use of the land as "a coal station and supply base." The original document did not authorize the building of a prison, and did not authorize the systematic violation of human rights by acts of torture.

The logical next step is to return the territory which the base occupies to their legitimate owners: THE CUBAN PEOPLE.

Argentina publishes new photos of Fidel Castro


In this picture released on Friday, Jan. 23, 2009 by Argentina's presidential press office, Cuba's former President Fidel Castro poses for a photo during a meeting with Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez, unseen, in Havana, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009. (AP Photo/Argentinean Presidential Press Office)

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BUENOS AIRES -- A photograph of Cuban leader Fidel Castro has appeared for the first time in more than two months.

The office of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez released the photo on Friday, two days after they met in Havana.

It shows Castro standing, wearing a blue track suit with red stripes on the sleeves and collar while Fernandez grasps his arm, smiling.

It is the first released photo of the 82-year-old Castro since a Nov. 18 shot of him meeting Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The long spell without a photo of Castro had contributed to rumors he was gravely ill.

Castro hasn't been seen in public since undergoing abdominal surgery in July 2006 and he formally turned over the presidency to his brother Raul last year.

Source: Seattle Post Intelligencer