Saturday, February 28, 2009

El Periodico Digital de Mexico says it was 13-0

El Periodico Digital de Mexico has also reported that the score of the game between Team Cuba and the Pericos de Puebla was 13-0.

Notimex also reported that the score was 13-0.

Fidel Castro se deja ver en público por primera vez en casi tres años

El Periódico de Catalunya

28/2/2009

INESPERADA REAPARICIÓN EN CUBA

• La población de Jaimanita explica el paseo esta semana del expresidente

• Chávez asegura que la "caminata" se planificó para que no quedara constancia

HUGO L. SÁNCHEZ
LA HABANA

Fidel Castro ha estado paseando por las cercanías de Marina Hemingway, con dos médicos a los lados y con sus acostumbrados pasos, pero no tan largos como siempre, según el comentario que desde mediados de semana domina en el pueblo costero de Jaimanita, en el oeste de La Habana, donde vive el otrora comandante en jefe de Cuba. A Fidel Castro no se le veía en público desde julio del 2006, cuando fue operado.

Unos dicen haberlo visto y otros han visto a quienes lo han visto caminar, como confirman a EL PERIÓDICO diversos habitantes de la zona, donde al principio de la Revolución el entonces joven estadista se encontrara con el novelista estadounidense Ernest Hemingway, fanático de la pesca de la aguja en la Corriente del Golfo.

CON CHÁNDAL

Un pescador aseguró que lo vio "porque en este país cualquiera puede identificar a Fidel por más lejos que se lo encuentre", andando con chándal, "el mismo que sale en las fotos y en los vídeos, con los tres colores de la bandera cubana (rojo, azul y blanco), y llevaba a dos personas a los lados, parecían médicos o algo así".

"Cada vez que él quiere le juega la cabeza a la muerte", dice uno de los trabajadores de la marina, un área con bungalós, un hotel y atracaderos de yates para turistas. "En diciembre lo daban por muerto y a lo mejor algo le dio, pero ya está dando pelea de nuevo: genio y figura...", agrega. "Él siempre se sale con la suya, y cada vez que quiere aparece en los periódicos de todas partes. Es genio también en eso. Caminaba recto y con paso firme".

La referencia internacional a este paseo la hizo ayer el presidente venezolano, Hugo Chávez, quien calificó la caminata de "milagro". Chá- vez explicó que fue algo que Fidel "planificó para que no hubiera registro", porque no permitió que se tomaran fotos ni vídeos, y agregó que la gente "lloraba al verlo". Apuntó que así se lo había escrito Fidel en cuatro cartas, a las que ya le estaba respondiendo. El paseo no ha salido en los medios de comunicación cubanos, todos bajo control del Estado, ni ha sido confirmado oficialmente.

LOS PARTES

Al inicio de la enfermedad de Fidel Castro, que desde finales de julio del 2006 lo apartó del poder, era Chávez quien daba los partes médicos más halagüeños sobre el exmandatario. Pero hace poco el gobernante adelantó que Fidel no sería visto más en público, e inmediatamente después dio una versión bien diferente. Recordó ayer el mandatario venezolano que "Fidel dijo un día que Dios ayuda a Chávez y a sus amigos". Chávez se reunió con Fidel el pasado fin de semana.

------

JG: Summary: former President Fidel Castro was seen strolling at the Marina Hemingway near Jaimanitas. He had a steady and and firm step. He was accompanied by what appeared to be two doctors.

This was reported by a newspaper in Catalunya, Spain. (see above)

The report from the newspaper in Spain has not been confirmed or denied by the Cuban government or its official news-media, so at this point it would have to be classified as purely speculative.

An American visiting Habana Vieja talks about Karl Marx

So while we, as Americans, may sniff at Karl Marx, he was not a Hitler. His unsparing examination of how capitalism works was intended to be helpful to the vast majority of humanity. His thinking was always directed at sharing wealth more justly and ameliorating the injustices of capitalism, and no matter how badly successive governments and dictators misapplied his analysis, we might remind ourselves that our own country remains so fearful of his thinking and analysis that this man, who has inspired countless revolutions around the world, has been virtually scrubbed from our own culture. He is like the film actor from the 1930s, John Garfield, once as popular as Clark Gable but consigned to the dust-bin of history for his allegiance to Marx's thought. Thought, analysis! -- virtually scrubbed from American life during the Cold War. Does it not speak to our insecurities that we cannot or do not ever openly debate our common economic system? Could it have something to do with the numbers of Americans living singly in entire houses and the large numbers living with no houses?

Peter Coyote, in Reconstruction Underway in Cuba.

JG: Peter, you hit right on the head. In one of the wealthiest nations in the world, thousands sleep in the cold concrete of a sidewalk, while 47 million do not have health insurance. Capitalism: the exploitation of man by man!

The excellent photography of Carlos Miller

My apologies to Carlos Miller for having forgotten to give him credit for one of his pictures.

Please visit his photo essay about the Obama visit to Miami at:

Obama Visits Miami

Conflicting Reports on Cuba's Baseball Victory

We, the fans of Cuban Baseball, who live outside the island, are receiving conflicting reports in regards to the victory of Cuba's National Selection Baseball Team, over the Pericos the Puebla, during the game celebrated yesterday in the Mexican city.

Juventud Rebelde has reported that the score was 13-0, while BaseballDeCuba.com, which is based in the United States, says that the final score was 19-0.

Who is right and who is wrong is anyone's guess!

3/1/2009 - Two Internet news sources in Mexico have reported that the score was 13-0. Go to this link.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Cuba defeats Pericos de Puebla 13-0

Cuba's National Selection Team to the 2009 World Baseball Classic defeated today the Pericos de Puebla by the score of 13-0. The training game was closed to the public.

The Cuban team lineup was as follow: Céspedes (cf), Olivera (2b), Cepeda (dh), Despaigne (rf), Gourriel (3b), Malleta (1b), Anderson (lf), Pestano (c), Navas (ss) and Aroldis Chapman on the pitching mound.

The best batter was Céspedes, who went five for six, with three doubles and a homer. Cepeda and Gourriel also connected homers.

These details were published by Cuban daily Juventud Rebelde.

The next training game will be on Sunday, also against the Pericos, and it will be open to the public.

Stay tuned!

Chavez says Fidel Castro walks in Havana streets

International Herald Tribune

Reuters

Published: February 27, 2009

By Frank Jack Daniel

Cuba's ailing former leader Fidel Castro, not seen in public for almost three years, walked the streets of Havana in a "miracle" that made people cry, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Friday.

Chavez, a close friend of the legendary revolutionary, spent several hours with Castro in Cuba last weekend and said he was in his best health since falling ill in July 2006.

Other regional leaders have also described Castro as looking well in recent weeks.

Chavez's account of the walk and a trip to visit farmland may indicate an improvement in Castro's health.

"Fidel went out and they saw him, Fidel walking in the streets in Havana, a miracle, the people cried," Chavez said during a service to commemorate a massacre in Venezuela.

"Of course he planned it so there would be no record of it. But there are some photos I have seen. I consider myself privileged," Chavez said. Chavez did not say when the walk took place.

Government officials on the Caribbean island told Reuters they could not confirm that Castro had gone on the walk.

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor Calls For U.S.-Cuba Charter Flights From Tampa International Airport

By TED JACKOVICS | The Tampa Tribune

Published: February 27, 2009

TAMPA - Tampa International Airport could become the fourth U.S. airport to serve U.S.-Cuba charter flights under a request by U.S. Rep Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.

In a Feb. 3 letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Castor said the move would improve travel prospects for thousands of Bay area Cuban-Americans.

Those who qualify under U.S. restrictions to visit Cuba from the United States must fly from Miami, New York or Los Angeles.

Castor said she has called on President Obama to fulfill his campaign promise to lift travel restrictions on Cuban-Americans wishing to visit family members in Cuba.

"With this anticipated move, the number of U.S. travelers to Cuba is expected to nearly triple from the current 10,000 per month to nearly 30,000 per month," Castor wrote.

That would increase direct air charter flights from the United States to Cuba from three to about eight to 10 a day, she said.

"In their quest to travel to Cuba to say goodbye or comfort a loved one, they are subjected to the worst kind of bureaucratic red tape because of the restrictions," Castor wrote. "The addition of Tampa International Airport as a departure point could be one less burden the families would have to face."

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved language that would allow Cuban-Americans to visit relatives on the island more frequently and also ease some restrictions on trade with Cuba.

Under one of the measure's provisions, family members could visit Cuba once a year rather than once every three years.

Reporter Ted Jackovics can be reached at (813) 259-7817 or tjackovics@tampatrib.com.

Chavez says Fidel Castro doing 'very, very good'

February 27, 2009

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says the 82-year-old Fidel Castro seemed "very, very good" when they met in Cuba last week.

Chavez remarked on the former Cuban president's health for the first time since they met and said Castro was "like never before."

Castro has not been seen in public since mid-2006 when he underwent intestinal surgery and ceded power to his younger brother Raul.

Venezuela's socialist leader said he met with Fidel Castro twice, once for three hours and a day later for more than four hours.

According to a government statement, Chavez also said in a phone call carried on state television early Friday that the two discussed subjects including the financial crisis and the new government in Washington.

Statistics for the 15 batters of Team Cuba to the 2009 WBC

Statistics for the 15 batters of Team Cuba
Cuba's 48th National Baseball Series
PLAYERAVGOBPSLURUNSRBI
A. Despaigne.357.470.6814858
J.C. Pedroso.355.502.67538 43
R. Meriño.353.478.6375049
L. Martin.320.504.5035932
M. Enriquez.337.523.5123933
Y. Peraza.312.448.6433140
Y. Cespedes.301.410.5585552
Y. Gourriel.354.438.604 3531
H. Olivera.338.435.5304642
L. Anderson.365.482 .5022543
A. Malleta.309.454.5192939
A. Pestano.259.423.4562943
F. Cepeda.300.445.4893333
L.M. Navas.331.417.4362310
E. Paret.277.405.351236
Statisticss: Alden González Díaz and Rafael Pérez Pérez

Source: Granma's Sigfredo Barros

Cuba Nova Baire Linux Logo

Yemayá


Yemaja is an orisha, originally of the Yoruba religion, who has become prominent in many Afro-American religions. Africans from what is now called Yorubaland brought Yemaya and a host of other deities/energy forces in nature with them when they were brought to the shores of the Americas as captives. She is the ocean, the essence of motherhood, and a protector of children.

Cuba

In Santería, Yemayá is seen as the mother of all living things as well as the owner of all waters. Her number is 7 (a tie into the 7 seas), her colors are blue and white (representing water), and her favorite offerings include melons, molasses ("melaço" - sugar cane syrup), whole fried fishes and pork rinds. She has been syncretized with Our Lady of Regla.

Related Post: Changó

TODAY: Team Cuba vs Pericos de Puebla


Today at noon, the Cuban National Selection Team to the Second World Baseball Classic will hold a training game against the Pericos de Puebla, a professional baseball team that plays in the Mexican Major Leagues. The game will be closed. On Sunday they will play another game which will be open to the public.

Cuba Journal will bring you the results of the game as soon as they become available.

Cubans Say U.S. Moves to Ease Embargo Not Enough

Latin America Herald Tribune

Friday, February 27,2009

HAVANA – Cubans feel that the U.S. House of Representatives' approval of a measure that would make it easier for Cuban-Americans to visit the island and for Cuba to purchase food and medicine from the United States is a "positive" but "insufficient" step.

The legislation, which still must get over the hurdle in the Senate to become law, would allow Cuban-Americans to travel to the island once every 12 months to see relatives and not once every three years, as is currently the case.

In addition, it broadens the range of people who are considered to be relatives and eliminates some regulatory procedures on the sale of medicines and food to Cuba like the one requiring advance payment.

One analyst consulted by EFE said he felt that the measure was "a little disappointing for Cubans" because expectations have been raised about complete elimination of the travel restrictions.

A European observer said that the expansion of the categories of people who can travel is "interesting," but he recalled that the measure is still just a bill and the Republican minority in the Senate has the ability to hold up its approval.

In addition, he said he felt the remarks of Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, were much more interesting and important" with regard to the need to revamp the policy of the U.S. economic embargo because of its failure to "bring democracy to the Cuban people."

Another analyst said that the step taken by Congress is "a normal move" toward the situation prior to 2004 - when the Bush administration tightened travel restrictions - within a process limited by the fact "that Obama doesn't have time now to deal with the issue of Cuba."

He added, however, that the new U.S. president "has to give a signal to the region with an eye toward the Summit of the Americas," which will take place in April with the countries in the region aligned in a coordinated manner for the first time against the 47-year-old embargo.

The approval of the measure was seen in the streets of Havana as something that "could be seen coming."

That, at least, is the view of Michael Gonzalez, 28, who told Efe that the decision of Congress "puts the ball in Cuba's court" because now the island's communist government will have to think about "what they're going to do about the invasion of Cuban-Americans that could follow."

"I think that the law will be approved by the U.S. Senate because even (some) Republican senators have defended a change in the immigration policy with Cuba," he added.

A 34-year-old Havana resident who preferred not to give his name said that the measure "is insufficient," but he added that "whatever is done in the direction of making the embargo more flexible and normalizing things a little bit is positive."

"In any case, the impact of that is overvalued. It's going to have a positive impact, but it won't mean the switch that people think. It's going back to 2003, before Bush implemented the policy in 2004, and that's not a big thing," he said.

Maria Esther Rodriguez, 70, who has a daughter living in the United States, said the measure would be "very beneficial" for families like hers "from the sentimental point of view, and also from the economic one for the families in Cuba who will also be able to receive help for their economy."

Eumelia Carmenate, 65, has a son in the United States and said that "the best thing in the world would be, instead of every three years, to be able to see him here each year."

"My son Miguel is desperate, hoping to come as soon as possible because the last trip was in December 2006 and he can't come back until December of this year, according to the prevailing law," he added. EFE

Dewayne Wickham: US-Cuba policy reeks of hypocrisy

Salem Statesman-Journal, Oregon

Opinion

Time has come to end the Cuba embargo

By DeWAYNE WICKHAM • Gannett News Service

February 27, 2009

This could be the beginning of the end for the 47-year U.S. economic embargo of Cuba.

A relic of the Cold War, this archaic attempt to strangle the life out of our communist neighbor was dealt a critical blow a few days ago when the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations released a report that brands the embargo an abysmal failure.

Not only has it not succeeded in toppling the government Fidel Castro installed in Cuba shortly after coming to power in 1959, but the embargo has also undermined U.S. foreign policy in other parts of the world, the report concluded. It "remains a contentious subject" with many Latin American countries and "a source of controversy between the U.S. and the European Union," said the report, which was prepared by a top aide to Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, the panel's ranking Republican.

This country's Cuba policy is nearly universally condemned - and for good reason. It reeks of hypocrisy.

While successive administrations have used claims of lack of democratization and human rights abuses on the island to keep the restrictions on American travel and trade with Cuba in place, they maintained normal relations with nations that have more troubling records of mistreating their people, according to the State Department's annual report on human rights abuses around the world.

During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to loosen restrictions on how often Cuban Americans can travel to Cuba and how much money they can send to relatives there.

The Senate committee's report suggests that much more be done. It wants Congress to consider an outright end to the embargo.

The travel ban is an especially vexing problem. As it stands, Cuban Americans have a special right to travel to Cuba, while most other Americans are denied the freedom to visit the Caribbean nation. Enforcing a travel policy that's based on national origin is morally wrong - and legally questionable.

With all the foreign policy challenges facing the Obama administration, Cuba is low-hanging fruit that should be harvested quickly.

Ending the embargo will help the U.S. reclaim some of the moral high ground it has lost in Central and South America, where a growing number of leftist leaders have come to power berating this country for trying to impose our will on other nations in the hemisphere.

There's no good foreign policy reason to continue the embargo. This nation's engagement of China and Vietnam has done more to open up those communist societies than decades of diplomatic stalemate.

And neither is there a good domestic policy reason to continue the embargo. The Cuban-American vote in Florida - a state that often plays a decisive role in presidential elections - was not a key factor in 2008. While most Cuban Americans in Florida voted for Republican John McCain, a majority of the state's Hispanics who went to the polls voted for Obama, according to exit polls.

More importantly, a December poll of Cuban Americans by Florida International University found that nearly two of three favored ending the restrictions on sending money to Cuba and support allowing all Americans to travel freely there.

All of this suggests that those who still back the embargo are political dinosaurs who will soon discover that their time has passed.

DeWayne Wickham is a columnist for Gannett News Service, 7950 Jones Branch Road, McLean, VA 22107. Send e-mail to DeWayneWickham@aol.com.

------

JG: Way to go Dewayne! I agree 100%.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

US food sales to Cuba seen boosted by pending law

Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:11am GMT

By Marc Frank

HAVANA, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Pending U.S. legislation aimed at easing the 47-year-old trade embargo against Cuba should boost food sales to the communist-led island, but increases will be limited until the embargo is fully lifted, experts in U.S. and Cuba said on Thursday.

Legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday and now awaiting a vote in the Senate would eliminate some of the obstacles to trade created by the embargo and toughened under former President George W. Bush.

While the proposed law is not a panacea for what ails U.S.-Cuba trade, it would make it somewhat easier, said Pedro Alvarez, head of Cuba's state-run food importing monopoly Alimport.

"Everything they do toward lifting the embargo would benefit the United States and Cuba," he told Reuters. "We have never blocked U.S. companies from doing business with us. It is their own government that is doing that."

Cuba began importing U.S. agricultural products under a 2000 amendment to the trade embargo allowing purchases for cash.

Trade dipped after the Bush administration modified the rules in 2005 to require that Cuba pay in cash before ships left U.S. ports, instead of upon arrival in Cuba, complicating trade and adding to costs.

Food sales came back, reaching a record $710 million last year amid soaring commodity prices, but some, such as rice, did not recover in the face of tough competition from Vietnam, Cuba's main rice supplier, and other Asian countries.

The House bill would prohibit the Treasury Department from enforcing the Bush regulations, make it easier for U.S. marketers and sellers to go to Cuba and at the same time ease limits on family visits and remittances sent to relatives in Cuba.

SIGNIFICANT BOOST

Marvin Lehrer, senior adviser on Cuba for the USA Rice Federation, said the proposed changes could provide a significant boost for U.S. rice sales to Cuba.

The island, just 90 miles (140 km) from Florida, imports about 600,000 tonnes of rice, making it the second-largest importer of rice in the hemisphere after Mexico.

Before the embargo, Cuba was the largest export market for U.S. rice.

In 2004, the United States shipped 175,000 tonnes of rice to Cuba, which was about 30 percent of its total demand, Lehrer said.

But the Bush regulations caused sales to plummet to 12,600 tonnes in 2008. Removing those obstacles could return sales to 25 to 30 percent of Cuba's rice consumption, he said.

"We have logistic and transport advantages over Far East suppliers to Cuba. They also prefer the quality of U.S. rice," he said.

With countries such as Vietnam providing preferential financing to Cuba, Lehrer thinks the United States can only reach part of its rice potential in Cuba until the embargo is fully lifted.

"Open trade and travel would bring our share of imports to 50 percent," he said.

The proposed legislation is tucked into a larger spending bill, under which most of the changes would expire on Sept. 30 unless extended by Congress or President Barack Obama.

The bill still must be passed in the Senate where it faces stiff opposition, then would have to be signed by Obama.

Alvarez said that tweaking regulations would not be enough to significantly increase U.S. food sales to his country, but agreed that elimination of the embargo could make a big difference.

"We are not China, but could be an important market close to home," he said. "Every little bit of trade would help struggling U.S. farmers and companies as well as Cuba in these hard economic times."

(Editing by Jeff Franks and Mohammad Zargham)

Palestinian Foreign Minister Condemns US Blockade of Cuba

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 26 (ACN) Riad N. A. Malki, Palestinian National Authority's Foreign Affairs Minister ratified this Thursday his country's condemnation of the 50 year long US blockade against Cuba.

"We support the Cuban people's struggle against the siege imposed by the US authorities and we demand the definitive lifting of the blockade," said the Palestinian diplomat in statements to the press after laying a wreath at the Jose Marti Monument.

Malki, accompanied by Marcos Rodriguez, Cuba's Foreign Affairs deputy Minister, paid tribute to the Cuban National Hero at the Revolution square that bears his name.

Both countries agree on international matters and keep a close relationship at the Non Aligned Movement (NAM), which last January at the United Nations reiterated the necessity of a peaceful solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

Nowadays, there are over 80 Palestinian students on scholarships in Cuba, 55 of them in the health sector, 26 in higher education and two in sports. So far 364 Palestinian youngsters have graduated in Cuba.

Brookings Institute: Use "Smart Power" to Help Cubans

Brookings Institute

Cuba, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Latin America, International Relations

Vicki Huddleston, Visiting Fellow, Foreign Policy
Carlos Pascual, Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy

February 24, 2009 — Contrary to popular myth and public misunderstanding, if President Barack Obama wishes to change the U.S. policy toward Cuba, he has ample authority to do so. If he takes charge of Cuba policy, he can turn the embargo into an effective instrument of ''smart power'' to achieve the United States' policy objectives in Cuba.

Obama's leadership is needed to change the dynamic between the United States and Cuba. The status quo is no longer an option. Not only has it failed to achieve its goals; it has tarnished our image in the hemisphere and throughout the world. Waiting for Congress to act will only further delay change. Fortunately, even in the case of Cuba, Congress has not materially impaired this country's venerable constitutional arrangement under which the president has the ultimate authority to conduct our foreign affairs.

Executive authority

Again and again we hear that the embargo can't be changed because the Helms-Burton law codified it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whether you agree or disagree with the current commercial embargo, the president can effectively dismantle it by using his executive authority. Helms-Burton codified the embargo regulation, but those regulations provide that ``all transactions are prohibited except as specifically authorized by the Secretary of the Treasury by means of regulations, rulings, instructions, and licenses.''

This means that the president's power remains unfettered. He can instruct the secretary to extend, revise or modify embargo regulations. The proof of this statement is that President Bill Clinton issued new regulations for expanded travel and remittances in order to help individuals and grow civil society.

Obama will have to modify Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations to fulfill his campaign promise to increase Cuban-American travel and remittances. If he wants to reproduce the more open conditions in Cuba that led to the ''Cuban Spring'' of 2002 and Oswaldo Payá's Varela Project, he could reinstate people-to-people and educational travel. By a simple rule change, he could also speed the entry of life-saving medicines from Cuba, rather than subjecting them to delays from cumbersome OFAC licensing procedures.

Since 1992, U.S. law -- the Cuban Democracy Act -- has sought to expand access to ideas, knowledge and information by licensing telecommunications goods and services. Yet, in practice, regulations are so strictly interpreted that the United States in effect is imposing a communications embargo on Cuba. To lift it, the president can authorize a general license for the donation and sale of radios, televisions and computers. In addition, rather than helping Cuban state security keep Yoani Sánchez and others off the Internet, the Obama administration could make Internet technology readily available so that any barriers to communications would be clearly the fault of the Cuban government, and not ours.

Environmental concerns rate high with the Obama administration. So it might open bilateral discussions, exchange information and license the provision of scientific equipment to improve the health of the ocean and success of commercial fisheries.

The United States Geological Survey estimates that the North Cuba Basin holds 5.5 billion barrels of oil and 9.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves. If the president wishes, he can instruct the secretary of the treasury to license U.S. companies to explore, exploit and transport these resources that we and the region so badly need.

Failed policy

After a half-century of failed policy, there is enormous support in the Cuban-American community for initiatives that will improve the well being and independence of the Cuban people. What they didn't know -- but know now -- is that there is no reason they can't reach out to the Cuban people and still retain the embargo as symbol of their concern about the Cuban government's failure to live up to international norms of human rights, democracy and transparency.

------

JG: I do not know why this report mentions Yoani Sánchez, who is a left zero inside Cuba. She does not represent anyone inside the island other than herself, and has ZERO influence among the Cuban people. Her blog computer server is in Germany and not inside the island. Yoani is a creation of the Western anti-Socialist news media. She is constantly promoted by some blogs inside the United States who would like to see Cuba destroyed. I would not be surprised if she is being financed and directed by funds from the United States government, who has in the past created and financed the so-called "opposition" inside the island.

Cuba starts filming 'Lizanka'

Cuba and Russia have announced that they have started filming Lizanka, which is a cinematographic depiction of love during the events of the October Missile Crisis of 1962.

The film is a joint production of the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC, by its Spanish acronym), and Mosfilm of Russia, according to a press release given out in Havana. The director is Daniel Díaz, who also directed "Alicia en el pueblo de maravillas" and "Hacerse el sueco".

The film narrates the story of Sergio and Aurelio, two Cuban youth who dispute the love of Lizanka, the most beautiful and coveted lady in Veredas, an imaginary town where Soviet ballistic missiles are placed during the early years of the 1960's. Just before the military crisis erupts, a group of Soviet soldiers arrive in the town, among them Velodia, who becomes a dangerous rival for the two Cubans. The daily lives of Veredas and Lizanka are irremediably altered.

The October Missile Crisis was one of the most dramatic episodes of the Cold War. It almost started a nuclear war in 1962, after Washington verified the positioning of Soviet ballistic missiles in Cuba, which were aimed at the heart of the United States.

The Soviets agreed to withdraw the ballistic nuclear missiles and the United States promised not to invade Cuba.

Source: AFP

Miami-Dade Right Wingers Defeated

Yesterday, the United States of Representatives held an important vote (Roll Call 86) for an omnibus appropriations bill, H.R. 1105, which funds the Federal Government operations up to October 1 of this year.

The bill had important provisions which remove draconian and inhuman dictates put into effect by former president George W. Bush in the year 2004.

For the first time in many year the 'I hate Cuba' Fascists of the Miami-Dade delegation were overwhelmingly defeated. The vote was 245-178.

The bill does the following things in regard to the Cuba issue:

• Prevent the U.S. government from spending any of its budget enforcing 2004 rules that keep Cuban Americans from visiting their homeland more than once every three years.

• Create a general travel license for Americans who sell food and medical supplies to Cuba.

• Let Cuba pay for the American produce it buys when the products arrive in Havana. Current law forces Cuba to pay up front before products leave U.S. ports.

• Require the U.S. Treasury Department to issue a report showing how much of its staff and funding is spent on enforcing the ban on travel to Cuba.

Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, scions of a sub-minister of dictator Fulgencio Batista of Cuba, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, another prominent Batistiana in Miami-Dade, were roundly defeated. Debbie 'Dubbya' Wasserman-Schultz, who normally joins the three infamous right wingers, voted with her party this time.

Who Will Be Cuba’s Starting Pitchers?

Periodico 26

BY SIGFREDO BARROS - sigfredo.bs@granma.cip.cu -

It doesn’t matter what level of baseball you’re talking about. The first decision for any manager is who will be the starting pitcher. In the case of Higinio Velez, he has 13 hurlers to choose from on the Cuban squad for the 2nd World Baseball Classic.

I’m inclined to choose Pinar del Rio right-hander Yunieski Maya, without a doubt the top pitcher during the first two-thirds of the Cuban league, to start game one. Maya is capable of going six innings with the 70 pitches allowed and leave the path open to the relievers with his good fastball, slider and very important determination to win.

In this new edition of the Classic the second rival will only be known after the first games. If Mexico beats Australia, with its home-field advantage and a team that many say is its best ever for a tournament, they would be Cuba’s next rival after getting by South Africa.

In that game left-hander Aroldis Chapman should get the call, based on his tremendous speed and the fact that several of the best hitters on the Mexican team are lefthanders: Adrian Gonzalez, who hit 36 homers with the San Diego Padres; and veterans Karim Garcia and Erubiel Durazo.

If Cuba wins that game it would only have to wait to see who wins a possible Mexico-Australia game to decide on March 12 the winner of the group. In the next round, to take place in Petco Park in San Diego, the first game would be between the winner of Group B and the second place team from the Group A, who play their first round in Tokyo.

Relief pitching is extraordinarily important in the Classic, the only international event that regulates the number of pitches. It forces the managers to think very hard about whom should replace a starter, when he reaches 70 pitches (first round), 90 (second round) and 100 (semifinals and finals).

Maya and Chapman are clearly two of the most indicated to start the first two games, all important in an event that doesn’t last long.

Cuba expected to rise to top of Pool B at the 2009 World Baseball Classic

MLB

Biggest threat to '06 runner-up should come from Mexico

By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com

02/24/09 7:29 PM EST

When looking at the Group B rosters, the question becomes, "Who can top the mighty Cubans?"

The answer might be "no one," even though the Cuban team lacks names that are familiar to Major League Baseball fans. But the squad is loaded with amateur talent that has plenty of experience in international tournament play.

After all, Cuba finished second in the 2006 World Baseball Classic to Japan and earned the silver medal in the 2008 Olympics. The Cubans also took home the gold in the 2004 Olympics.

Team Mexico figures to be the biggest threat to the Cubans, as its roster includes such recognizable names as Oliver Perez, Adrian Gonzalez, Jorge Cantu and Joakim Soria. The Mexican team also sent the Americans home in '06 with a 2-1 victory in Round 2.

As for the other two countries in Pool B, Australia and South Africa, they're just hoping to win a game after going winless in the inaugural Classic. But both figure to be stronger, with the game growing in popularity in their respective countries.

It should make for an exciting pool, but it's hard to imagine the experienced Mexican and Cuban national teams going home early.

CUBA

2006 result: Advanced to finals, lost to Japan

MLB players: Zero affiliated with Major League clubs

Key players: Outfielder Frederich Cepeda, pitcher Pedro Lazo, infielder Yuliesky Gourriel

The Cubans again figure to be one of the favorites to win the Classic after finishing second in the inaugural tournament and earning the silver medal in the 2008 Olympics. Several key players return from '06, including Cepeda, Lazo, Gourriel, infielder Eduardo Paret and veteran catcher Ariel Pestano.

Gourriel, widely considered to be the top talent on the squad, batted .273 in the 2006 Classic. But keep an eye on the hard-throwing Lazo, who earned an impressive 4 2/3-inning save against the Dominican Republic in the semifinals of the '06 Classic.

MEXICO

2006 result: Finished sixth, defeated the U.S., 2-1, in Round 2

MLB players: 17 affiliated with Major League clubs

Key players: First baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitcher Oliver Perez, closer Joakim Soria

Pitching was the strong point for the Mexican team in 2006 after posting a 2.77 ERA, and it appears the squad has the arms to do it again. Perez will undoubtedly be the ace, but he'll have plenty of help from such veterans as Rodrigo Lopez, Luis Ayala, Elmer Dessens, Dennys Reyes and Ricardo Rincon. And they have one of the best young closers in the game in Soria, whose nickname is the "Mexecutioner."

Offensively, the club also could be a threat, especially with Gonzalez, who has become one of the best first basemen in the National League. Several veterans make up the rest of the offense, including Cantu, Rod Barajas and Alfredo Amezega, and former Major Leaguers Erubiel Durazo and Karim Garcia.

AUSTRALIA

2006 result: 13th place, with 0-3 record, did not qualify for Round 2

MLB players: 19 affiliated with Major League clubs

Key players: Outfielder Justin Huber, pitcher Rich Thompson, shortstop Brad Harman

The key for the Australians is to find their hitting stroke after scoring just four runs in the '06 Classic. But this year's roster includes three offensive players -- Huber, Harman and outfielder Chris Snelling -- who got a taste of the Major Leagues last season.

And Harman could be the man to lead the offense after batting .429 in the inaugural Classic and hitting 17 home runs in the Minors last season.

SOUTH AFRICA

2006 result: 16th place, with 0-3 record, did not qualify for Round 2

MLB players: Six affiliated with Major League clubs

Key players: Pitcher Barry Armitage, shortstop Anthony Phillips, pitcher Alessio Angelucci

The South Africans were outscored, 38-12, in the inaugural tournament, including a 17-0 drubbing by the U.S., but they took an 8-7 lead into the ninth against Canada in their first game before ultimately falling, 11-8.

The team is hoping to build on its near victory over Canada, but that could prove to be a tough challenge, as the country has never produced a Major League player. But the roster does feature six players in the Minors as well as Armitage, who pitched in the Classic in 2006.

Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

El Guayabero: Cuba's New Wine

Ahora.cu

By Alexis Rojas Aguilera / Friday, 06 February 2009 / redaccion@ahora.cu

A new brand of sweet red wine with the name “El Guayabero” distinguished the major products of the food industry in the eastern province of Holguin.

The name to this new type of wine is a tribute to the late Don Faustino Oramas, a Holguin musician and composer, king of the double sense songs, who died on March 27, 2007 at the age of 96 years.

The new product is among the items of the food industry exhibited in the event ExpoCiencia 2009 which opened Wednesday in the city of Holguín.

Moraima Manfugás, specialist of the branch in the province, said that the trademark accounts with the registration of intellectual property and is intended to conceptualizations of excellence products.

She stated that the wine has the backing of hundreds of people consulted, who appreciate at this variety of drinks, a local symbol of the culture associated with the oldest working musician in Cuba.

ExpoCiencia Holguín-2009, taking place at “La Periquera” museum of this city, will provide the population the achievements of the province in the branches of science, health, electricity, information and education among others.

Cuba's Havana Club rum sales rose 13 pct in '08

The International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press

Published: February 25, 2009

HAVANA: A surge in overseas demand helped Cuba's Havana Club rum sell a record 3.4 million cases in 2008, a 13 percent increase from the previous year that came despite a global economic crisis, state media reported Wednesday.

Washington's 47-year-old trade embargo shuts the brand out of the United States, but Havana Club is offered in more than 120 countries and saw sales increase by more than 10 percent in 40 of them, Marc Beuve-Mery, general manager of Havana Club S.A., told government news agency Prensa Latina.

Cuba's domestic drinkers are the company's top market, but Prensa Latina cited Beuve-Mery in reporting that Germany alone saw a 26 percent increase in Havana Club sales to overtake Italy as the brand's top overseas consumer.

Spain, France, Greece, Chile and Russia are also leading overseas markets, Beuve-Mery said, though he did not discuss the company's earnings or profits for the year.

The Cuban government has produced rum under the Havana Club label since 1960 — the year after Fidel Castro and his bearded band of rebels toppled dictator Fulgencio Batista and seized power.

The brand has been available in international markets since 1993, when the government-run firm partnered with the French beverage company Pernod Ricard SA.

Team Cuba defeats Aguilas de Veracruz by 8-3


Cuba's National Selection Team to the 2009 World Baseball Classic held an exhibition/training game against the Aguilas de Veracruz, a team that plays in the Mexican Professional Baseball Leagues. It was played in Puebla, Mexico. If you read Spanish, click here to read the report from BaseballDeCuba.com.

The Aguilas used seven pitchers, but none of them were able to stop the barrage of Bambinazos by Team Cuba. Industriales star Alexander Malleta had a monster homer that cleared 400 feet on the left-center field. Dependable Frederich Cepeda, who is without a doubt, one of the most reliable members of the team, also rounded the four bases, as well as the superb catcher from the Avispas of Santiago de Cuba, Rolando Meriño. The winning pitcher was Danny Betancourt, and Cuba's best reliever, Vladimir Garcia, got the save.

The next training game for Team Cuba will be against the Pericos de Puebla, in the same Hermanos Serdán Stadium, on Friday, at noon.

Prensa Latina Report (In Spanish)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

House votes to ease limits on Cuba trade, travel

Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:58pm GMT

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. restrictions on trade with Cuba and family travel to the island would be eased under legislation passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday but the changes could encounter trouble in the Senate.

Supporters hope congressional action will be the first step toward reviewing and possibly reversing the decades-old U.S. policy of shunning Cuba. Tucked into a larger spending bill, most of the changes would expire on September 30 unless there is a move to extend them by Congress or President Barack Obama.

Obama has made clear he favors relaxing limits on family travel and cash remittances by Cuban Americans to Cuba, although he has said the U.S. trade embargo against that country should stay in place to press for democratic reforms.

The legislation approved by the House does not lift the overall embargo. But it would prohibit the Treasury Department from enforcing Bush administration rules requiring payment of cash in advance for agricultural sales to Cuba.

Analysts believe that U.S. rice sales to Cuba will soar if the provision becomes law. Rice sales declined every year after the cash-in-advance rules were imposed in 2005, because Cuba could turn to Vietnam -- a country with which it has close ties -- for rice on easier terms.

The House-passed legislation also would provide for general licenses for travel to and from Cuba for marketing and selling agricultural products. And it would allow Americans with relatives in Cuba to travel there more frequently and for longer periods of time.

But the measure must pass the Senate before becoming law, and Florida Republican Senator Mel Martinez, a Cuban-American, opposes the changes, an aide said. Martinez could try to use Senate procedural hurdles to stop the bill.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last month the Obama administration wants to ease travel restrictions on families wishing to visit relatives in Cuba and she pledged a review of Cuba policy.

Democratic Representative Jose Serrano denied lawmakers were trying to put pressure on or get ahead of the Obama administration on Cuba policy.

A veto threat from then-President George W. Bush kept the bill from being voted on until now.

"I think if this passes and gets signed into law, it will send the message, or at least alleviate any concerns the White House may have that Congress is not on board" with easing U.S. policy toward Cuba, Serrano said.

Francisco "Pepe" Hernandez, president of the Cuban American National Foundation, one of the leading Miami-based exile groups, said he was pleased with the House passage but worried there could be problems in the Senate, which is expected to take up the measure as soon as Friday.

"We have been asking for that since the (travel) restrictions were put in place," he said. "We believe there should be more opportunities for Cuban families to connect."

Last year, nearly one-fourth of Congress wrote to the Bush administration urging a review of Cuba policy after Fidel Castro, who seized power in a 1959 revolution, retired due to poor health. His brother Raul took over as president.

Washington broke off diplomatic ties with Havana in 1961, after Castro moved the island rapidly on a socialist path aligned with Moscow during the Cold War. The United States imposed the trade embargo in 1962.

(Additional reporting by Lisa Shumaker in Chicago and Jim Loney in Miami; Editing by John O'Callaghan)

Omnibus Appropriations Bill First Step on Cuba

The Havana Note

The House debate on the Omnibus Appropriations bill has begun on C-SPAN.com or TV (and can be viewed later in its archive).

The bill contains language on Cuba with several positive aspects that was inserted by Representative Serrano with the assistance of Representative Castor. It should be considered a significant forward step that shows how the majority can use the rules to its favor and is upsetting to the hard liners in Florida. Passage helps build momentum for stronger action by the Obama administration and Congress.

It will be interesting regarding prospects for legislation to end all travel restrictions to see whether Sen Martinez can use Senate rules to block the bill, Sen. Menendez gets involved and Sen Reid accommodates him. (See Miami Herald story and on line poll here.)

However if the legislation survives intact, it is only a partial victory. The section on Cuban American travel is non-enforcement language. It does not suspend or reverse the law. Oddly travel for agricultural sales receives a general license but not family or other non-tourist travel. OFAC's politically distorted role in the Bush Administration is also a target.

[Text of Cuba language can be seen here.]

Passage will effectively enable at least annual Cuban American travel for the balance of the fiscal year. However, it does not remove from President Obama the responsibility to use his authority to enable general licenses for all twelve categories of non-tourist people to people travel, including Cuban American, educational, religious, humanitarian, cultural, sports and "support for the Cuban people".

The comment page of the Office of Public Liaison can be used to put all non-tourist travel on the agenda of the interagency review of Cuba policy through this link.

The urgency and importance of making your voice heard to President Obama is reflected in a report yesterday from our friend and colleague in Miami Silvia Wilhelm:

"Senator Menendez was on Miami TV right now very positive that the only thing the administration is going to allow is a roll back to the Clinton era family travel and that absolutely NOTHING else is going to move and that if it came down to listening to Lugar or him and others in the community, Obamawould listen to him and others."


Posted by John McAuliff on February 25, 2009 12:28 PM

------

JG: I certainly hope that Obama does not listen to Robert Menendez. He is in bed with the Miami ultra right-wingers and will sabotage any reform of our failed travel to Cuba policies. The president should listen to Representative Bill DeLaHunt, and support and get behind H.R. 874, The Freedom to Travel To Cuba Act. Make sure that you leave a polite comment for President Obama on the link to the Office of Public Liaison.

Male African Lions and Meerkat Pups


The 30 who represented Cuba in the 2006 World Baseball Classic

Click the photo to read the caption below each baseball player.

Today: Team Cuba vs Rojos Del Águila de Veracruz, Mexico


Team Cuba to the World Baseball Classic II will play an exhibition/training game against the professional baseball team "Rojos Del Águila de Veracruz" in Mexico.

More information follows below, in Spanish.

Cuba buscará tener una exitosa preparación rumbo al Clásico Mundial de Béisbol

* Se han definido los partidos con sus respectivos horarios para el acceso a todo el público en tres de los juegos que llevará a cabo la Selección Nacional de Cuba en el Estadio de Béisbol Hermanos Serdán.

Es muy importante aclarar que serán un total de cinco juegos los que el equipo cubano completará en Puebla de los cuales tres serán con acceso al público y dos de ellos a puerta cerrada.

ASÍ SE JUGARÁ

Los días 25 de febrero, 1 y 5 de marzo la selección antillana podrá ser observada por aficionados en el diamante poblano con un partido ante los Rojos del Águila de Veracruz y dos juegos ante los Pericos de Puebla. Los juegos a puerta cerrada que tendrá la selección de Cuba serán el viernes 27 de febrero y el martes 3 de marzo ante la novena verde.

De esta manera el calendario de juegos de exhibición que tendrá la selección de Cuba en Puebla quedó definido de la siguiente manera:

Miércoles 25 de febrero (con acceso al público)

Cuba vs Rojos Del Águila de Veracruz 19 Horas

Viernes 27 de Febrero (puerta cerrada)

Cuba vs Pericos de Puebla 12 Horas

Domingo 1 de marzo (con acceso al público)

Cuba vs Pericos de Puebla 12 Horas

Martes 3 de marzo (puerta cerrada)

Cuba vs Pericos de Puebla 19 Horas

Jueves 5 de marzo (con acceso al público)

Cuba vs Pericos de Puebla 19 Horas

Todos los entrenamientos de la Selección Nacional de Cuba son a las 14 horas a puerta cerrada. La primera práctica de la novena cubana será este sábado 21 de febrero.

PRECIOS PARA LOS JUEGOS DE PREPARACIÓN DE CUBA

En beneficio para todos los aficionados de Puebla y de las distintas partes que asistan a este gran evento de exhibición, la Directiva de los Pericos de Puebla ha determinado apoyar a los fanáticos manteniendo los mismos precios que se establecieron en la temporada del 2008 sin sufrir ningún tipo de incremento.

Los precios para los juegos de la Selección de Cuba en que tendrán acceso el público y los medios de comunicación, serán los días 25 de febrero ante los Rojos del Águila de Veracruz, así como el 1 y 5 de marzo ante la novena verde.

Los boletos se pondrán a la venta en las taquillas del Estadio Serdán el día lunes 23, martes 24 y miércoles 25 de febrero con horario de 11 de la mañana a 6 de la tarde con los siguientes precios:

Butaca central 100 pesos

Butaca preferente 80 pesos

Butaca lateral 60 pesos

Tribuna general 20 pesos

Source: www.periodicodigital.com.mx

The Last Hurrah: U.S. Senate Gusano-in-Chief vows to block changes to our failed Cuba policies

The Commander-In-Chief of the Gusano Forces in the capitalist United States Senate, Senator Mel Matinez, is growing increasingly worried.

There is a growing speculation amid the political junkies in the U.S. that change is in the air regarding our failed Cuba policies. I frankly am very doubtful that it will come to be achieved, do to the fact that capitalism is a system that will never “reform” itself because it is primarily based on screwing the people, especially the working class, since it is the only group that creates wealth with their labor. Capitalists do not create wealth; they exploit those who create it, the workers.

The frustrated Mel, who knows that he would have been easily defeated in 2010, and therefore announced his voluntary “retirement” [Thank You, God] has said “that he'll oppose any legislation that would change U.S.-Cuba policy.”

Did you know that any single U.S. Senator can stop any piece of legislation being considered in the upper chamber? This is a built-in mechanism that allow reactionary capitalist Senators to put a stop to legislation which purports to “reform” their decaying system.

What usually happens is that, under the table, money is passed to the “dissenter” and he “changes his mind.”

Mel: take the money and run!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The XVIII International Book Fair Cuba 2009 ended in La Cabaña

El Habanero

By Ricardo Alonso Venereo

The XVIII International Bock Fair Cuba 2009 ended in San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress, in the Cuban Capital and from next February 26th to March 8th it will go to the rest of the West Indies in the Caribbean. It will start in the western part of the country (from February 26th to the first of March) and then to the eastern part (from March 5th to 8th), with the official closing in Santiago de Cuba, until its XIX Edition in 2010.

More than a million copies were sold in the Fair in Havana, which not only were in San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress but also in all the bookstores located in Havana City, Pabellon Cuba, in Vedado and the Agriculture Fair in Rancho Boyeros. These two last ones will continue selling books until March the first.

The audience attending the Fair in the Capital had the opportunity to know more about the Chilean literature and its writers, as this was the Special Guest - condition they will transfer to Russia in 2010 - and to pay homage to the poet Fina Garcia Marruz, National Literature Prize, and the researcher Jorge Ibarra, Social Science and History Prize, those who at the same time will transfer to Reinaldo Gonzalez, National Literature Prize, and to Maria del Carmen Barcia, Social Science National Prize, personalities to whom the XIX International Book Fair Cuba 2010 will be dedicated to.

Also, to know about the history of Casa de las Americas, an institution that will celebrate its 50th anniversary and the Fair is also paying homage.

But outside the Capital they will pay homage to Fina, Ibarra and Chile too, because they will keep on being the guests in this XVIII Fair and of course, they will receive attention in the rest of the Cuban geography.

La Cabaña was again the ideal place of the meeting between writers and the public, between the readers and the books, to know about new dreams and realities, to know the editors' and designers' job, to award devotion and the talent of many Cubans that find in the world of the book a reason to be better every day and give everything for the education of the people.

There are the Cuban editorials that are making their greatest efforts to make people know more than 200 titles and that together with the printing press had manufactured eight million volumes so that every body could take home a book or some, especially, the children, the greatest readers of the future.

The foreign exponents that had arrived with their texts, returned with a few of them. Many people think it is incredible the eagerness of the Cuban for the reading. This hobby started many years ago when Fidel Castro said to the people: "read" and he created - 50 years ago – the Cuban National Printing Press, that had published as its first book: The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quijote de la Mancha, from Cervantes, in four volumes at the moderate price of one peso each.

There were ten days which had made the audience of the Capital shudder and to those who had visited us and they checked by their own the beautiful magic that is established between the people and the book in the Fair.

So long, said the Fair in the Capital. It is the same as the beginning of a long journey of letters and love all over Cuba.

Translator: Caridad Martinez Fernandez

Cubita


If you ever go to Montreal, do not forget to get some Cubita coffee. Available at IGA supermarkets.

24 February: Mambises start the war against Spain


On February 24, 1895 The Mambises started their war of independence against Spain. Let us remember today those valiant Cubans who shed their blood for us so that we could be free.

But in 1898, the Yankee imperialists to the north intervened in the independence struggle to rob the Cuban people of what they richly deserved. The Platt Amendment would follow.

The third war of independence would be fought by the new Mambises of the 26 of July Movement. On January First, 1959, they would win their war and rid the island of the Yankee puppet. Cuba was finally free.

Help Defeat Debbie Dubbya

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote as early as tomorrow on an omnibus-bill which will fund the federal government through the end of September.

Debbie Dubbya Wasserman-Schultz, who is a fanatical anti-Cuba zealot, will try to remove an important provision from the bill. It would rollback the 2004 provisions of George W. Bush on travel to Cuba by Cuban-Americans.

Contact your House member today and ask him/her to vote against the machinations of Debbie Dubbya.

Raúl Castro marks first year as Cuba's leader


The Miami Herald

BY FRANCES ROBLES
frobles@MiamiHerald.com

It's been a busy first year in office for Cuban leader Raúl Castro, who has met with up to a dozen presidents from around the world as Latin America took bolder steps decidedly to the left.

Recent pictures captured the global moments -- Castro in Moscow, posing with a Russian Orthodox patriarch, or at a photo op at the presidential palace in Algiers. There's another one of him flanked by the honor guard in Havana with the president of Namibia at his side.

As Cuba struggled with economic realities that included back-to-back devastating storms, the nation took a strong stand bolstering its foreign policy agenda. While Cuba-watchers in the United States dithered about how often Cuban-Americans should be allowed to visit relatives on the island, a stream of the most important leaders in the region -- including the presidents of Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador -- made trips to Havana.

''Raúl Castro's foreign policy outreach has been truly impressive,'' said Daniel P. Erikson, author of the recent book, The Cuba Wars: Fidel Castro, the United States, and the Next Revolution. ``Cuba played host to close to every president of a major rising power and improved relations with Latin America. The Cubans are not expecting major changes from the United States, so they are focusing on building other alliances.''

Tuesday marks one year with Castro officially at Cuba's helm as president. His year at the top saw his nation's benefactor Hugo Chávez win a referendum in Venezuela that could allow him to stay in power indefinitely. Russia's presence in the region grew considerably as El Salvador's leftists gained ground in upcoming elections. Guatemala's leader recently apologized to Cuba for that country's role in the Bay of Pigs invasion, and Bolivians took a bigger step toward creating a socialist state by approving a new constitution that empowers the indigenous majority.

While U.S. law keeps Cuba isolated, other countries have cozied up to Cuba to take advantage not just of its nickel reserves -- some of the largest in the world -- but its seemingly endless parade of doctors who do mission work overseas. Getting closer to Cuba's transition of power allows Latin American leaders to demonstrate independence from the United States and seek a competitive advantage, Erikson said.

Washington meanwhile has remained mum on how U.S. policy may be modified in the face of new leaders both here and on the island, even as widespread speculation expects President Barack Obama to make broad sweeping changes.

Obama campaigned on the promise that he would lift restrictions that keep Cuban-Americans from visiting more than every three years and said he would remove the cap on how much money Cubans could send their relatives each month in remittances. Many people believe that signals an end to the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba, which would require an act of Congress.

The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week issued a report that says the U.S. policy of shunning communist Cuba should be reevaluated, the Washington Post reported this weekend. A month into his term, Obama has yet to tackle Cuba policy.

''I don't think we are as relevant in Cuba's decision-making as we were five years ago,'' said U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass), who has visited Cuba several times. ``I don't think the Cubans are as focused on relations with the U.S. as they once were. Why? Because they have multiple options.''

But if Castro has a fat array of options internationally, his prospects domestically have been considerably leaner.

He began his year in office with a succession of cosmetic consumer moves that gave Cubans more purchasing rights. The decision to allow things like hotel stays, cellular phones and DVD players were much welcomed, but created an expectation that more profound measures would follow.

Castro did revamp the agriculture industry to dole out land to farmers, in what most experts say is the most serious structural reform in recent memory. But the three hurricanes that hit Cuba this summer forced Castro to spend the second half of the year focused on recovery, not reforms.

''I expected him to do even less. I didn't think he would move quite so quickly on agriculture,'' said Cuban military expert Hal Klepak, a Canadian academic who lives in Havana. `You must keep in mind that they are not going to let this get out of control. This is not going to be 1989 Czechoslovakia. This is 2009 Cuba, and there's reform, but it's not going to undermine the revolution.''

Erikson noted that although Castro promised more economic reforms than he delivered, he made a series of moves that signaled a more moderate political stance. He signed United Nations treaties, commuted death sentences, and the number of political prisoners in Cuba dropped by at least 100 since Fidel Castro first took ill in 2006.

''I think Raúl is someone careful, serious, smart -- not charismatic and he knows it,'' said Erikson, who is speaking Tuesday night at Books and Books in Coral Gables. ``He has proven to be a serious-minded, competent leader. But ultimately for Raúl Castro, he is not going to match his brother's 49 years.''

Monday, February 23, 2009

Democrat's Omnibus Bill does not go far enough on the Cuba issue

Blomberg reported today that the Democratic Party has introduced a so-called omnibus bill to distribute taxpayers dough to the Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! crowd. Here is the relevant paragraph in the article, in regards to the Cuba issue.

"The measure would relax Cuba travel restrictions imposed by the Bush administration, allowing families to visit relatives there once a year rather than once every three years. It would also reverse Bush administration restrictions imposed in 2005 on food and medicine sales to Cuba."

President Obama, when he was campaigning for the Presidency, promised unlimited travel and remittances by Cuban-Americans to our families in the island. Is he going back on his campaign promises? Frankly, I believe that BHO is forgetting who put him in power. It was a coalition of progressives, African-Americans and Hispanics. Is he caving in to the demands of right wing elements within the Democratic Party?

Once a year visits is not enough! We expect Obama to carry out his promises, or very soon people will begin saying: "Oh. He is just another typical American President. Once he gets into office he forgets his campaign promises."

Say it ain't so Joe!

PDF File: Senator Lugar Cuba Report

Click this link to read and/or download the report. You will need Adobe Document Reader in your computer.

Ballet Nacional de Cuba will present Hansel and Gretel in Canada


Cubarte

February 23, 2009

Havana, (AIN).- The Canadian government agreed to celebrate, for the first time, the Day of the Family and a high point of that day will be the presentation of Hansel and Gretel, by the Cuban National Ballet (BNC, after its initials in Spanish).

The function, at the Hamilton Place theatre in Canada, will be held next 26 of February and will present young figures of the Cuban company, with the choreography of Eduardo Blanco and under the general direction of the prima ballerina assoluta, Alicia Alonso.

Hansel and Gretel has the music of Jules Massenet, Richard Wagner, Sergui Prokofiev and Joseph Luigini, design by Ricardo Reymena, Eduardo Romero and Luis Carlos Benvenuto and will have a young cast of the Canadian Ballet in this version of one act and five scenes.

This ballet is an unshakable ode to the human spirit and was written and published for the first time in 1812 in his born Germany, by the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

The famous fairy tale has fascinated generation of children. This time the main characters of the play will be performed by Yadil Suarez, Regina Hernandez, Annie Ruiz, Denisse Salvent and Yonah Acosta.

It is unquestionably that the ballet Hansel and Gretel is made exactly to celebrate the Family Day in Canada.

The allegorical fantasy is an splendid artistic cooperation between the two countries.

Translation: Rodney Lopez (Cubarte)

GOP U.S. Senator Lugar: Cuba embargo is a failure

The US economic embargo on Cuba "has failed" and should be re-evaluated, senior Republican Senator Richard Lugar argues in a report.

Senator Lugar's views are contained in a report that was drawn up by a member of his staff and was due to be released on Monday.

Complete BBC article.

Miami Scum prepare to try to defeat 'The Freedom to Travel To Cuba Act' (H.R. 874 & S. 428)

In a country such as the United States, where money is king, trying to do the reponsible thing is always an uphill battle. But we the people should be confident. Goodness always prevails over evil. It may take some time, but evil people, in the end, always get their comeuppance.

The forces of evil in Miami-Dade County, Florida, led by Representatives Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Debbie 'Dubbya' Wasserman-Schultz, are actively working behind the scenes to defeat The Freedom To Travel To Cuba Act in the 111th Congress. Make no mistake about it, Debby Dubbya may try to pass herself as a liberal, but like Bill Clinton in 1996, she is in bed with the Miami fascists.

They will get out the big checkbooks of the ultra right-wing and anti-Cuba PAC's in Miami, and one more time, with cold hard cash, they will attempt to buy the votes of such reactionary and corrupt Democratic Party scum like Clyburn, Meek, Hastings, Wexler, Klein, Kennedy, and others.

Money talks, and you can expect a fierce battle to buy the votes of the 'I hate Cuba' fascists.

I urge the readers of Cuba Journal to contact their members in Congress and ask them to support H.R. 874 and S. 428. Exercise your citizen's rights and do not support or vote for the corrupt anti-Cuba crowd, who shamelessly sell their votes.

Strike The Bum Out! (Team Cuba Statistics)

Team Cuba to the 2009 World Baseball Classic
Player statistics for Cuba's 48th National Baseball Series
Up to February 8, 2009
PITCHERS
Pitchers (13)WINLOSSINNRUNSCLEAN RUNSBBK'sERA
Luis M. Rodríguez7474.1373210293.87
Pedro L. Lazo2244.213 1211342.42
Norge L. Vera6573.0433214443.95
Miguel Lahera5036.0121216273.00
Ciro S. Licea7376.0382923413.43
Yolexis Ulacia3345.123148362.78
Danny Betancourt6366.0302934353.95
Yunieski Maya92 95.2 191623811.51
Vladimir García1245.08718461.40
Ismel Jiménez83 83.2342927563.12
Aroldis Chapman6174.1333142893.75
Yulieski González6273.2332721603.30
Norberto González3344.0161014442.05