Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Obama's Cuba policies report card for his first six months in office

1. The genocidal Cuba embargo continues to be applied and enforced.

2. Obama continues to pander to right wing organizations like the Miami-based Cuban American National Foundation, which was created by Ronald Reagan.

3. He continues to listen to reactionary elements within the Democratic Party.

4. OFAC continues to harrass American travelers to Cuba.

5. Taxpayer money continues to be squandered at Radio and TV Marti. It is basically an issuer of welfare checks for the Batistianos in Miami.

6. The Cuban Adjustment Act continues to be in full force. It stimulates illegal immigration from the island.

5. His secretary of state continues to make silly and ineffective pronouncements.

FINAL SCORE CARD: F

Monday, July 27, 2009

US removes propaganda ticker at USIS building in Havana

JG: The provocation ticker put in place by George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice is being removed. The gusanos in Miami will be crying "a moco tendido."

Sign flashing human rights messages at the US mission in Havana goes blank

Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent

guardian.co.uk, Monday 27 July 2009 19.14 BST

It was smuggled through the US diplomatic pouch, secretly installed across the facade of a building overlooking Havana and tasked with a very specific mission: annoy Fidel Castro.

The scrolling electronic sign, a low-tech version of New York's Time Square ticker, escalated the US's propaganda war with Cuba's leader three years ago by flashing human rights messages in five-foot high crimson letters.

But history, or more specifically Barack Obama, appears to have now pulled the plug on the billboard which flitted across 25 windows of the US interests section in Havana. The screen has gone blank - the latest indication that half a century of enmity may be winding down.

The ticker, erected by the Bush administration in January 2006, infuriated Castro and provoked tit-for-tat diplomatic jousting which further strained relations. "It was basically a contest of which side could annoy the other the most," said Dan Erikson, author of The Cuba Wars and an analyst at the Inter-American Dialogue thinktank. "The US described [the sign] as a way to convey information to the Cuban people but the real purpose was to irritate the Cuban government."

It ran quotes from Martin Luther King, "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up", Abraham Lincoln, "No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent", as well as the likes of the former Polish president Lech Walesa.

The ticker also displayed messages that blamed the island's transport crisis and material privations on the communist authorities: "Some go around in Mercedes, some in Ladas, but the system forces almost everyone to hitch rides." Bush officials said the ticker was a way to circumvent censorship and convey hope and liberty to a tropical gulag.

Castro said it was another assault on Cuba's sovereignty by a hypocritical imperialist bully. Soon after it appeared he marched a million people past in protest, dug up the US mission's car park and erected anti-US billboards and 138 huge black flags to commemorate victims of US aggression - and block the ticker.

The revolutionary leader said there would be no contact between Havana-based US diplomats and Cuba's foreign ministry until the electronic sign came down.

Since then the comandante has fallen ill and been succeeded as president by his brother, Raúl, and Bush has been replaced by a Democrat who has spoken of a new start with the Caribbean island 90 miles off Florida. Influential Cuban American exiles in Florida have also softened their hostility to Havana.

After Obama's election the Cuban government expressed a desire to normalise relations and took down its billboards around the US mission, though the flags remained.

In recent months the White House lifted restrictions on remittances and travel for Cuban Americans - a slight easing of the JFK-era economic embargo - and resumed talks with Havana over migration and disaster preparedness.

The ticker disappeared several weeks ago but was reported only today. US diplomats told visitors there were "technical difficulties" and that there were no plans to switch it back on anytime soon, according to Reuters.

There is speculation that US and Cuban officials in Havana have resumed contact. The US state department and Cuban foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

"The Obama administration is more interested in normalising diplomatic channels and apparently did not see the sign as being conducive to that goal," said Erikson. He called the propaganda war surrounding the US mission in Havana as creepy, comical and slightly surreal.

Instead of an embassy the US has an interests section inside the Swiss embassy building on Havana's seafront. In 2004 US diplomats adorned the facade with a glowing number, 75, a reference to dissidents jailed the previous year. Cuba's government retaliated with billboards on the road opposite showing images of abused Iraqi prisoners and the slogan: "Fascists, made in the USA". The posters also blocked the Americans' view of the ocean.

The US stepped up the battle by importing the ticker through the diplomatic pouch, reportedly explaining the shipments to Cuban officials as material for a gazebo. The then head of mission, Michael Parmly, said it was an effort to bypass totalitarian controls and dialogue directly with ordinary Cubans.

The ticker made little visible impact on Cubans but became a tourist attraction. Cumbersome technology, however, diminished its impact. The sign was slow-moving, difficult to read and lacked Spanish accents and tildes. For instance "año", which means year, appeared as "ano", which means anus.

Unity Will Lead Cuba Forward, Raul Castro

Holguin, Cuba, Jul 26 (Prensa Latina) Cuban President Raul Castro on Sunday said its monolithic unity will lead Cuba forward, in spite of hardships and dangers.

Raul Castro Praises Cuban Province

In an address marking the 56th anniversary of the attack on the Moncada barracks, that Cubans considers the start of the revolutionary struggle that brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959, Raul Castro praised the effort done by Holguin to recover from the damage caused by hurricane Ike on Sep. 2008.

The head of state announced important meetings have been scheduled for the upcoming days: The Council of Ministers will meet on Tuesday to consider revising spending plans for the rest of the year because of the effects of the world economic on Cuban economy; the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party has also programmed a plenary session for next week, and the Parliament has been summoned for its mid-term session.

Raul Castro said that as part of a government program begun last year to turn unused state land over to private farmers 82,000 out of the 110,000 applicants have already been given their land.

He said agricultural production is Cuba's top priority and a matter of national security.

The Cuban people are able to overcome all difficulties, no matter how big they can be, Raul Castro stressed before tens of thousands people gathered at the Calixto Garcia Plaza.

Text of Raul Castro's speech, in Spanish:

Discurso pronunciado por el General de Ejército Raúl Castro Ruz, Presidente de los Consejos de Estado y de Ministros, en el acto central en conmemoración del 56 aniversario del asalto a los cuarteles Moncada y Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, en la plaza Mayor General "Calixto García",

Holguín, 26 de julio de 2009, "Año del 50 aniversario del triunfo de la Revolución".

Combatientes del 26 de julio de 1953 (Aplausos), del Ejército Rebelde, la lucha clandestina y las gloriosas misiones internacionalistas (Aplausos);

Familiares de los caídos;

Holguineras y holguineros (Aplausos); compatriotas:

Pudiéramos empezar haciendo una pregunta por pura curiosidad personal. Ustedes saben que yo soy de aquí (Aplausos y exclamaciones), y por lo tanto tengo el derecho de curiosear en el sentido de saber, si es posible, a qué comprovinciano se le ocurrió ponernos el sol aquí detrás (Risas), que a mí no me molesta, pero estoy seguro de que ninguno de ustedes me puede ver; verán, si acaso, una sombra: ese soy yo (Aplausos).

Por tales motivos, en esta conmemoración del 56 aniversario del asalto a los cuarteles Moncada y Carlos Manuel de Céspedes mi intervención será muy breve, atendiendo a las altas temperaturas que han caracterizado nuestro verano en este año, aunque comenzamos más temprano que lo habitual —a las 7:00 horas—, y sabiendo que desde las seis de la mañana ya se encontraban aquí todos ustedes, que la mayoría vino a pie desde sus respectivas viviendas (Aplausos), y que anoche, como pude ver brevemente por la televisión, estuvieron justamente celebrando este aniversario. Y, además, el sol ese que no se sabe quién se lo puso frente a ustedes.

Por tales motivos seré breve, repito, y en los próximos días, muy próximos, tendremos importantes reuniones que servirán de escenarios más propicios para extenderse a fondo en cuestiones complejas.

La primera será del Consejo de Ministros, pasado mañana, dedicada a analizar el segundo ajuste de los gastos previstos en el plan de este año, a causa de los efectos de la crisis económica mundial en nuestra economía, en particular la reducción significativa de los ingresos provenientes de las exportaciones y las restricciones adicionales para acceder a fuentes de financiamiento externo.

Como ustedes conocen, durante 11 días estuve recorriendo varios países del África amiga y participar, como presidente, hasta muy recientemente, del Movimiento de Países No Alineados y hacerle entrega de esa responsabilidad al Presidente de Egipto.

El tiempo de que dispongo es muy poco y apretado por estas reuniones e importantes temas que les estoy informando.

Al día siguiente de ese Consejo de Ministros, el 29 de julio, celebraremos el séptimo Pleno del Comité Central del Partido, en el cual, durante un día entero, según el programa y la agenda u orden del día a discutir, profundizaremos en asuntos vitales relacionados con la situación nacional e internacional.

Y, además, por último, el 1º de agosto está convocada la sesión ordinaria de la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular, ocasión en la que, entre otras cuestiones, será sometido a debate el proyecto de Ley de la Contraloría General de la República, órgano que contribuirá a elevar la exigencia en el cumplimiento de la legislación vigente y en materia de control por todas las estructuras de dirección del país.

PREMIO AL ESFUERZO Y AL TRABAJO REALIZADO

Este año la selección de la sede del acto central por el 26 de Julio no se ajustó estrictamente a los indicadores establecidos. Hubiera sido ilógico partir solo del grado de cumplimiento de esos índices, cuando desde septiembre, tras el paso devastador de los huracanes, resultó evidente que en gran parte del país, sencillamente era imposible alcanzarlos.

No olviden, como en su oportunidad informamos en nuestro Parlamento, que los destrozos, sin que quiera decir que estén perfectamente todos compatibilizados o contabilizados, alcanzaron la cifra de alrededor de 10 000 millones de dólares, el equivalente al 20% del Producto Interno Bruto, o sea, del valor de todo lo que hicimos en materia de trabajo y producción durante ese año pasado.

Por tales motivos el Buró Político, al determinar que Holguín fuera la sede y otorgar la condición de destacadas a Villa Clara, Granma y Ciudad de La Habana, puso en la balanza lo logrado en los primeros meses del año, en circunstancias más o menos normales, y sobre todo el esfuerzo de las provincias, primero para enfrentar los fenómenos meteorológicos con las menores pérdidas de vidas humanas y recursos materiales, y particularmente en las labores de recuperación.

En ello a Holguín le ha correspondido una gran responsabilidad. Es una provincia extensa, con más de un millón de habitantes y una incidencia apreciable en la economía nacional por la industria del níquel, el tercer polo turístico del país y otras importantes producciones. Es un premio al esfuerzo y al trabajo realizado.

Por tanto, felicitamos a las holguineras y holguineros (Aplausos); al compañero Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez (Aplausos), primer secretario del Partido en la provincia en ese momento difícil y en los años previos, que también fueron de intenso trabajo. Hacemos extensiva esta felicitación al compañero Jorge Cuevas Ramos (Aplausos), procedente de Las Tunas, provincia también golpeada fuertemente por el huracán Ike y que desde su elección al frente del Partido en Holguín ha desplegado una entusiasta y activa labor.

Felicitamos igualmente a las provincias destacadas, sin dejar de reconocer el esfuerzo realizado por todas, a los compatriotas de Pinar del Río y la Isla de la Juventud (Aplausos), en el occidente, que afrontaron daños sumamente severos, así como a camagüeyanos y tuneros, en particular a los habitantes de Santa Cruz del Sur y Guayabal, poblados con afectaciones considerables, que en algunos casos, casi les ocasionaron la destrucción total (Aplausos).

UN PUEBLO EDUCADO EN LA GENUINA SOLIDARIDAD

Solo he mencionado algunos de los lugares que sufrieron los mayores destrozos. Realmente han sido meses difíciles y de arduo trabajo de un extremo a otro de la nación. En todo el país se ha puesto de manifiesto la capacidad de resistencia, organización y solidaridad de nuestro pueblo. Crecen los ejemplos de cómo debe trabajarse en estos tiempos.

Esa fue la conducta asumida por la inmensa mayoría de los compatriotas de esta provincia durante el paso del huracán Ike y en los meses posteriores. Así sucedió en todas partes.

Muchos compañeros han permanecido movilizados lejos de sus familias, incluso cuando no pocas de ellas también sufrían serias limitaciones, con frecuencia albergadas por haber perdido total o parcialmente sus viviendas.

Confiaron en la Revolución y cumplieron la tarea asignada, conscientes de su importancia y seguros de que sus seres queridos no quedarían en el desamparo.

Igualmente dice mucho de la calidad humana de nuestro pueblo, la masiva disposición de acoger en sus hogares a vecinos cuyas casas no ofrecían suficiente seguridad, actitud que se ha hecho cotidiana ante adversidades de diverso tipo.

En esos valores está educado nuestro pueblo, en la genuina solidaridad, comparte lo que tiene con sus hermanos, sean cubanos o de otras tierras, no lo que le sobra, que aquí no sobra nada, generalmente sólo problemas (Aplausos).

En esa misma medida el pueblo cubano agradece la ayuda, los gestos de generosidad y el apoyo recibidos desde múltiples rincones del planeta. Hago propicia la ocasión para reconocer la noble y digna labor de la fundación interreligiosa Pastores por la Paz (Aplausos), a su líder, el Reverendo Lucius Walker (Aplausos) y a los integrantes de la XX Caravana de la Amistad Estados Unidos-Cuba (Aplausos), así como a la Brigada Venceremos que arribó a su 40 aniversario, una representación de las cuales nos acompaña en este acto (Aplausos).

LOS DAÑOS A LAS VIVIENDAS SON UN ASUNTO MUY SERIO

Los daños a las viviendas son un asunto muy serio. Solo en esta provincia de Holguín resultaron afectadas casi 125 mil, de las cuales se han recuperado alrededor de la mitad.

A nivel nacional, si se agrega a las dañadas por estos tres ciclones, las pendientes de solución de años anteriores, sobre todo de principios del siglo por similares motivos de huracanes, sumaban a finales del 2008 más de 600 mil, por eso alerté en su momento que se requeriría tiempo para cambiar radicalmente esa situación.

Se ha hecho en realidad un esfuerzo digno de reconocimiento por entidades, colectivos laborales y los propios vecinos. Es significativo que hasta el 20 de julio estuviera solucionado el 43% de las afectaciones, o sea, más de 260 mil viviendas.

No obstante, resta muchísimo trabajo por hacer y además es necesario evitar que vuelvan a acumularse en el futuro esas enormes cifras, teniendo en cuenta que a consecuencia del cambio climático, se pronostica por muchos científicos que los huracanes podrían ser de mayor intensidad y con mucha más frecuencia.

ESTAR EN CONDICIONES DE PREVENIR Y ENFRENTAR LA SEQUÍA

Igualmente se trabaja para estar en condiciones de prevenir y enfrentar los efectos de los recurrentes períodos de sequía, cada vez más prolongados e intensos, mediante diversas medidas, entre ellas el trasvase de agua, incluso de unas provincias a otras.

Recuerden los tres años difíciles de sequía desde comienzos del siglo hasta el 2005, donde fue necesario en todo el país llevarles el agua hasta en ferrocarriles y en todo tipo de vehículos y vasijas a cerca de 3 millones y medio de cubanos (Aplausos).

Por eso estamos construyendo en diferentes lugares estos trasvases de agua estratégicos, que nos permitirán maniobrar con el líquido vital de unas provincias a otras.

Como se conoce, esta monumental obra comenzó aquí en Holguín, donde se presenta la paradoja de colindar la región en que más llueve en la isla —por allá en los límites de Baracoa, provincia de Guantánamo— con una de las más secas, lo que hace pocos años puso en peligro el abasto de agua a esta poblada urbe.

En los próximos días —lo íbamos a hacer hoy una vez concluido este acto, pero por los motivos anteriormente expuestos, al inicio de mis palabras, lo haremos en el transcurso del mes de agosto, más adelante—, dejaremos formalmente inaugurada la primera etapa del trasvase Este-Oeste (Aplausos), que comprende la conductora de la presa Nipe —allá por el río del mismo nombre, en el municipio de Mayarí— a la presa Gibara —no cerca de la ciudad de Gibara, más al norte, sino una que está aquí, más próxima a la ciudad de Holguín, al este de la misma.

O sea, presa Nipe a Gibara, desde allí, aguas abajo, por el río creo que del mismo nombre, al embalse Colorado, que está más al norte, y de este embalse Colorado vuelve para atrás, pero por el norte, mediante otra conductora ya construida, hasta la presa El Naranjo, de unos 11 ó 12 millones de metros cúbicos de capacidad y que muchas veces está seca, y que abastece esa zona y al polo turístico de Guardalavaca, en el cual en aquellos años de sequía fue necesario cerrar también algunos hoteles.

Esta costosa obra —y es solo el comienzo—, ya concluida y en uso, asegura el suministro estable de agua a la región norte de Holguín, incluida su capital.

La continuación del proyecto, que se encuentra en fase avanzada, incluye la construcción de la presa llamada Melones, que para ser más exacto, propongo denominarla Mayarí, por el río que la alimenta (Aplausos), cuya cortina —única en su tipo construida en Cuba con esa tecnología— terminará de cerrarse en abril de 2011, aunque comenzará a almacenar agua desde el próximo año 2010.

La presa Nipe, con alrededor de 130 millones de metros cúbicos, llevaba 25 años de construida sin darle valor de uso.

En ocasión de la inauguración mencionada, en el mes de agosto, de la primera etapa, de la que ya les hablé, o sea, del trasvase Este-Oeste, la televisión transmitirá un amplio reportaje acerca de esta obra de gran magnitud y suma relevancia, el que además explica todo el sistema de trasvases de agua entre provincias en ejecución.

Es un programa para el presente y sobre todo para el futuro, cuando el agua será cada vez un recurso más escaso, sobre todo en una isla larga y estrecha como la nuestra, donde el preciado líquido se pierde en rápidos vertimientos al mar.

Solo he mencionado una etapa de este programa, que abarca gran parte del país, desde Sancti Spíritus, en el centro de la isla, hasta Guantánamo. En esta última provincia, en el primer semestre del próximo año, concretamente el fértil valle de Caujerí, comenzará a recibir agua por gravedad a través de túneles que atraviesan las montañas —en este caso construidos por las fuerzas armadas—, lo que supone un considerable ahorro de combustible, al suprimirse su costoso bombeo.

También se trabaja en la rehabilitación de las redes de acueducto y alcantarillado de esta provincia, entre ellas las de los municipios de Cacocum, Urbano Noris y acciones puntuales en Frank País, Gibara y Banes. En la ciudad de Holguín se han ejecutado 114 kilómetros de redes, con 21 620 acometidas, hacia las casas, y una población beneficiada de 86 400 habitantes.

Con la llegada de nuevos equipos en los próximos meses, se incrementará el ritmo de estas obras en Holguín, donde ya existe una de las tres fábricas que produce las tuberías necesarias de diferentes tamaños. Como se conoce, se encuentra en ejecución además una costosa inversión que solucionará definitivamente el abasto de agua a la ciudad de Santiago de Cuba, la cual concluirá en el 2010. Y en el año 2011 se prevé terminar los acueductos de El Cristo y El Cobre en dicho municipio santiaguero, y se encuentra en proceso de estudio el de Palma Soriano.

VOLVERNOS HACIA LA TIERRA, HACERLA PRODUCIR MÁS

Pasando a otro tema, de los pocos que pienso tocar en la mañana de hoy, el 26 de julio del 2007, en Camagüey, me referí a la imperiosa necesidad de volvernos hacia la tierra, hacerla producir más. Entonces casi la mitad del área cultivable estaba ociosa o deficientemente explotada. Llamamos en ese momento a generalizar con la mayor celeridad posible y sin improvisaciones cada experiencia de los productores destacados del sector estatal y campesino, y estimular la dura labor que realizan, así como solucionar definitivamente los dañinos impagos por el Estado en el sector.

Avanza a ritmo satisfactorio la entrega de tierras en usufructo, aunque persisten insuficiencias, en unos municipios más que en otros. De las más de 110 mil solicitudes realizadas, se han aprobado hasta el momento cerca de 82 mil, que abarcan unas 690 mil hectáreas, o sea, el 39 por ciento del área ociosa.

Considero que es poco, no es cuestión ahora de salir corriendo a repartir sin control, es hacerlo más eficientemente, es hacerlo organizadamente, y que es una tarea de primera prioridad estratégica. Ya uno de los oradores que me antecedió en el uso de la palabra se refería a que es un tema de seguridad nacional producir los productos que se dan en este país y que nos gastamos cientos y miles de millones de dólares —y no exagero— trayéndolos de otros países.

¡La tierra está ahí, aquí están los cubanos, veremos si trabajamos o no, si producimos o no, si cumplimos nuestra palabra o no! No es cuestión de gritar Patria o Muerte, abajo el imperialismo (Aplausos), el bloqueo nos golpea y la tierra ahí, esperando por nuestro sudor. A pesar de que los calores son cada vez mayores, no queda más remedio que hacerla producir. Creo que estamos de acuerdo (Exclamaciones de: "¡Sí!" y aplausos).

Volando, sobre todo en helicóptero, a lo largo y ancho del país, a veces ordeno al piloto desviarse y darle una vuelta a cualquier poblado, ciudad, etcétera. Puedo asegurarles que en la mayoría de todos sobra tierra y de buena calidad, pegada a nuestros patios, que no se cultiva; y por ahí es por donde se está haciendo un plan para avanzar, con cultivos intensivos, poniéndoles riego donde sea posible que exista agua y que existan los recursos para ponerlo. Si un día faltara el combustible en este mundo tan cambiante y alocado, que la comida la tengamos cerca, que la podamos traer en un carretón con caballos, con un buey o empujándola por nosotros mismos (Aplausos).

De la tierra ya entregada se ha declarado libre de marabú y otras plantas indeseables cerca de la mitad y se han sembrado casi 225 mil hectáreas, es decir, la tercera parte.

No podemos sentirnos tranquilos mientras exista una sola hectárea de tierra sin un empleo útil y alguien dispuesto a hacerla producir esperando por respuesta.

Tierra que no sirva para producir alimentos, debe servir para sembrar árboles que es, además, una gran riqueza. Y quien les habla ha experimentado durante muchos años, y sobre todo en los últimos años, sembrando pequeños bosques, y he tenido el placer y la satisfacción de verlos crecer, y según el tipo de árbol, a veces en cinco años ya he formado un pequeño bosque con varios cientos de diferentes tipos; pero cada vez que hablamos del tema se aparecen los funcionarios del Ministerio de la Agricultura —del actual y de todos los demás anteriores ministros de Agricultura— con un listado interminable de millones de pesos o divisas solicitados para la tarea que se asigna, y si no aparece una bolsita de nailon no se puede sembrar. Yo no sé con qué diablo nuestros abuelos sembraban árboles (Risas y aplausos), y por ahí están, y estamos nosotros comiéndonos los mangos que sembraron ellos (Aplausos).

No educamos a un niño en el amor a los árboles y que siembren algunos —donde haya tierra, por supuesto— en el transcurso de su tránsito por la primaria, secundaria, preuniversitario. Me están oyendo aquí algunos dirigentes de la juventud; pero sembrar árboles pueden hacerlo jóvenes de la tercera edad, como yo, es decir que no es solo una tarea de la juventud (Aplausos).

Son estimulantes los resultados en el acopio de leche, que ha crecido en los últimos dos años en más de 100 millones de litros anualmente, pues de 272 millones en el 2006, se alcanzaron 403 en el 2008, y este año todo indica que el incremento será superior. De este tema hablé en el 2007 en Camagüey, un día como hoy.

He abordado muy someramente dos aspectos del decisivo tema de la producción de alimentos, que tiene gran importancia en la sustitución de importaciones, como les decía, y la reducción de los gastos en divisas del país.

NUESTRO PUEBLO ES CAPAZ DE VENCER TODAS LAS DIFICULTADES

El avance constatado, a pesar del déficit de recursos materiales y financieros, aunque insuficiente, confirma las enormes potencialidades que aún nos resta explotar en la agricultura y en todas las ramas de la economía.

Los modestos resultados nos ratifican, una vez más, el optimismo y la confianza en que ¡sí se puede!, y que nuestro pueblo heroico es capaz de vencer todas las dificultades, por grandes que sean (Aplausos).

Es sin duda un enorme reto, en medio del bloqueo económico y de muchas otras agresiones concebidas precisamente para impedir el desarrollo de la nación.

Nuestro pueblo no ha fallado nunca a un llamado de la patria. Invariablemente ha dicho presente desde los tiempos en que la tropa mambisa de Calixto García, el general de las tres guerras, de la estrella en la frente, al suicidarse antes de caer prisionero, el hijo de la madre heroica, enfrentó por estas tierras a muchos miles de soldados con un armamento muy superior, con creces, el mayor ejército que la metrópoli española envió a América.

Y junto al Ejército Libertador la población soportó, estoicamente y sin cejar en la lucha, las incontables penurias provocadas por la guerra y la cruel represión de las autoridades coloniales. Esa es nuestra estirpe y seguiremos siendo fieles a su legado (Aplausos).

Con la unidad monolítica de nuestro pueblo, su más poderosa arma, forjada en el crisol de la lucha bajo la dirección del Jefe de la Revolución Fidel Castro Ruz (Aplausos), por grandes que sean las dificultades y los peligros: ¡Seguiremos adelante! (Aplausos.)

¡Gloria a los mártires de la Patria! (Exclamaciones de: "¡Gloria!")

¡Viva Fidel! (Exclamaciones de: "¡Viva!")

¡Viva Cuba libre! (Exclamaciones de: "¡Viva!")

(Ovación).

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JG: Long live the glorious 26th of July.

Dignity Decision

The constitutional president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, has declared that he will not hold any more talks with the United States government.

I believe he has made the correct decision. Obama and Clinton, behind the scenes, are supporting the new military gorillas dictatorship which the empire has imposed on the suffering Honduran people, while at the same time giving sanctimonious and hypocrisy pronouncements about being in favor of "democracy."

Below is the Prensa Latina report:

Ocotal, Nicaragua, Jul 27 (Prensa Latina) Honduran President Manuel Zelaya ruled out on Monday to travel to Washington to meet with US State Secretary Hillary Clinton, after demanding a firm stance by the United States against the coup leaders.

"If Washington wants to talk with me, it should send a representative here, to Ocotal," said Zelaya, who has been four days at the border between Nicaragua and Honduras in an effort to return to his country.

The president asserted that he has not thought of leaving the demonstrators alone, those who got to the border check point in Las Manos to support him and show their solidarity.

Zelaya considered that the United States should clarify its stance towards the usurpers of power in Honduras, after warning that Clinton is not using the term coup d'etat or taking any action against repression in his country.

Clinton should realize that this coup is being maintained there with the approval of many US rightwing circles in power, including several senators, said the president.

Honduran legal government Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas demanded that the US State Secretary established a significant difference between those who want peace and those who are causing violence.

"Those who are carrying rifles and those who are demonstrating peacefully can not be grouped on the same side," asserted Rodas in an answer to Clinton's statements that said Zelaya's decision to return to Honduras was bold and provocative.

If US State Secretary can not see this difference, then we are not talking about the same democracy or the same conflict, Rodas said.

The foreign minister is accompanying Zelaya in his effort to return to Honduras, from where both were forcibly taken out on June 28 by pro-coup military troops.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

July 26 Veterans Recall Fidel Castro’s Firm Certainty in Revolutionary Victory

HAVANA, Cuba, July 23 (ACN) - A group of combatants of the July 26, 1953 assaults on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes barracks, and Granma Yacht expedition members highlighted Fidel Castro’s firm certainty in the victory of the Cuban Revolution against the Batista dictatorship that ruled the country before January 1, 1959.

The veterans held a meeting with workers of the Cuban Friendship Institute (ICAP) at the Friendship House in Havana as part of activities marking the 56th anniversary of the heroic actions undertaken against the Batista army barracks in the cities of Santiago de Cuba and Bayamo.

Moncada Combatant and expedition member Emilio Albertosa Chacon pointed out that Fidel always had and promoted faith in the future to carry out the two historic actions, as he did during their incarceration at the then Isle of Pines (today Isle of Youth) and later during the journey of the Granma yacht towards Cuba and the combats waged on the Sierra Maestra Mountain Range.

The meaning of the legacy was also addressed by combatants Arsenio Garcia Davila and Gilberto Garcia Alonso along many others.

Fidel Castro led the expedition, onboard a yacht named Granma, from Mexico to eastern Cuba in order to begin the guerrilla fight against the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship. The yacht as well as other artifacts, planes and cars that played a role during the Cuban liberation war are preserved at Havana’s Revolution Museum.

ICAP President Kenia Serrano explained about the institution, founded December 30, 1960 to welcome an increasing number of friends of Cuba, who came to Cuba in those days in order to learn of the developing revolutionary process.

Serrano said that the ICAP is a social organization that maintains relations with over 2, 000 friendship-with-Cuba associations in 149 countries, plus 347 committees actively working in 112 nations for the release of the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters held in US prisons for over 10 years now.

July 26 central commemorations will be held next Sunday in the eastern city of Holguin with the attendance of some 200, 000 citizens, meanwhile Cubans in all cities of the country will join the celebrations with rallies in different localities and neighborhoods inspired by the revolutionary victories and determined to keep developing the socialist project they once chose.

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JG: The 56th anniversary of the 26th of July is coming up this Sunday. That important date is certainly to cause INDIGESTION in Wahington, D.C. and Miami, Florida. During the last 50 years they have thrown everyting but the kitchen sink at Cuba's revolutionary process. Poor folks; those circles have yet failed to realize that important and significant historical processes are rarely defeated.

Washington imperialists are extremely busy trying to dress up the military coup d'etat in Honduras as something respectable. When will they ever learn that the public learned a long time ago to distinguish between processes which help the people, i.e. the Cuban Revolution, and those which help the exploiters?

Washington would never be in favor of policies that help the people of Latin America. They are always in favor of coup d'etats, which make it easier to exploit the natives of the region.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

FACTS: The U.S. was behind the coup d'etat in Honduras

July 13, 2009

* The US Department of State had prior knowledge of the coup.

* The Department of State and the US Congress funded and advised the actors and organizations in Honduras that participated in the coup.

* The Pentagon trained, schooled, commanded, funded and armed the Honduran armed forces that perpetrated the coup and that continue to repress the people of Honduras by force.

* The US military presence in Honduras, that occupies the Soto Cano (Palmerola) military base, authorized the coup d’etat through its tacit complicity and refusal to withdraw its support of the Honduran military involved in the coup.

* The US ambassador in Tegucigalpa, Hugo Llorens, coordinated the removal from power of President Manuel Zelaya, together with Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon and John Negroponte, who presently works as an advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

* From the first day the coup occurred, Washington has referred to “both parties” involved and the necessity for “dialogue” to restore constitutional order, legitimizing the coup leaders by regarding them as equal players instead of criminal violators of human rights and democratic principles.

* The Department of State has refused to legally classify the events in Honduras as a “coup d’etat”, nor has it suspended or frozen its economic aid or commerce to Honduras, and has taken no measures to effectively pressure the de facto regime.

* Washington manipulated the Organization of American States (OAS) in order to buy time, therefore allowing the coup regime to consolidate and weaken the possibility of President Zelaya’s immediate return to power, as part of a strategy still in place that simply seeks to legitimate the de facto regime and wear down the Honduran people that still resist the coup.

* Secretary of State Clinton and her spokesmen stopped speaking of President Zelaya’s return to power after they designated Costa Rica's president Oscar Arias as the “mediator” between the coup regime and the constitutional government; and now the State Department refers to the dictator that illegally took power during the coup, Roberto Micheletti, as the “interim caretaker president”.

* The strategy of “negotiating” with the coup regime was imposed by the Obama administration as a way of discrediting President Zelaya – blaming him for provoking the coup – and legitimizing the coup leaders.

* Members of the US Congress – Democrats and Republicans – organized a visit of representatives from the coup regime in Honduras to Washington, receiving them with honors in different arenas in the US capital.

* Despite the fact that originally it was Republican Senator John McCain who coordinated the visit of the coup regime representatives to Washington through a lobby firm connected to his office, The Cormac Group, now, the illegal regime is being represented by top notch lobbyist and Clinton attorney Lanny Davis, who is using his pull and influence in Washington to achieve overall acceptance – cross party lines – of the coup regime in Honduras.

* Otto Reich and a Venezuelan named Robert Carmona-Borjas, known for his role as attorney for the dictator Pedro Carmona during the April 2002 coup d’etat in Venezuela, aided in preparing the groundwork for the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras.

* The team designated from Washington to design and help prepare the coup in Honduras also included a group of US ambassadors recently named in Central America, experts in destabilizing efforts against the Cuban revolution, and Adolfo Franco, ex administrator for USAID’s Cuba “transition to democracy” program.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cuba accuses US of supporting coup leaders

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 00:18:58 GMT

Cuba accused the US of 'providing military support' to the de facto government in Honduras that removed the country's elected leader Manuel Zelaya in a coup.

Speaking in Nicaragua, the Cuban Vice President Esteban Lazo said on Sunday that Havana demands that Washington 'cease its intervention' in Honduras' affairs.

"President Zelaya should be restored to his office, as requested by the Organization of American States (OAS) and other international organizations," said Lazo who represented Cuban President Raul Castro in Managua at the celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of Nicaragua's Sandinista revolution.

Source: RT News

European Union suspends aid to Honduras

In a big contrast to the policies of the Obama adminsitartion, the European Union announced today that it is suspending $92.73 million dollars in budgetary support payments to the Honduras illegal and unconstitutional regime which was intalled by a military coup d'etat on June 28th, reports Reuters.

The United States continues to keep an ambassador in Tegucigalpa and continues to provide military and economic aid to the fascist gorillas that govern the Central American nation.

Right now the United States is practically the only regime which continue to support the School of the Americas graduates who spearheaded the coup. Uncle Sam taught them very well.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The United States continues to train Honduran soldiers

SOA Watch

Written by James Hodge and Linda Cooper, National Catholic Reporter

Military coup that ousted president, didn't stop U.S. engagement in Honduras


A controversial facility at Ft. Benning, Ga. -- formerly known as the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas -- is still training Honduran officers despite claims by the Obama administration that it cut military ties to Honduras after its president was overthrown June 28, NCR has learned.

A day after an SOA-trained army general ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya at gunpoint, President Barack Obama stated that "the coup was not legal" and that Zelaya remained "the democratically elected president."

The Foreign Operations Appropriations Act requires that U.S. military aid and training be suspended when a country undergoes a military coup, and the Obama administration has indicated those steps have been taken.

However, Lee Rials, public affairs officer for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, the successor of SOA, confirmed Monday that Honduran officers are still being trained at the school.

"Yes, they're in class now." Rials said

Asked about the Obama administration's suspension of aid and training to Honduras, Rials said, "Well, all I know is they're here, and they're in class."

The decision to continue training the Hondurans is "purely government policy," he said, adding that it's possible that other U.S. military schools are training them too. "We're not the only place."

Rials did not know exactly how many Hondurans were currently enrolled, but he said at least two officers are currently in the school's Command and General Staff course, its premier year-long program.

"I don't know the exact number because we've had some classes just completed and some more starting," he said. "There's no more plans for anybody to come. Everything that was in place already is still in place. Nobody's directed that they go home or that anything cease."

The school trained 431 Honduran officers from 2001 to 2008, and some 88 were projected for this year, said Rials, who couldn't provide their names.

Since 2005, the Department of Defense has barred the release of their names after it was revealed that the school had enrolled well-known human rights abusers.

The general who overthrew Zelaya -- Romeo Orlando Vásquez Velásquez -- is a two-time graduate of SOA, which critics have nicknamed the "School of Coups" because it trained so many coup leaders, including two other Honduran graduates, General Juan Melgar Castro and General Policarpo Paz Garcia.

Vasquez is not the only SOA graduate linked to the current coup or employed by the de facto government. Others are:

* Gen. Luis Javier Prince Suazo, the head of the Honduran air force, who arranged to have Zelaya flown into exile in Costa Rica;

* Gen. Nelson Willy Mejia Mejia, the newly appointed director of immigration, who is not only an SOA graduate, but a former SOA instructor. One year after he was awarded the U.S. Meritorious Service Medal, he faced charges in connection with the infamous death squad, Battalion 3-16, for which he was an intelligence officer.

* Col. Herberth Bayardo Inestroza Membreño, the Honduran army's top lawyer who admitted that flying Zelaya into exile was a crime, telling the Miama Herald that ''In the moment that we took him out of the country, in the way that he was taken out, there is a crime," but it will be justified.

* Lt. Col. Ramiro Archaga Paz,the army's director of public relations, who has denied harassment of protesters and maintained that the army is not involved in internal security.

* Col. Jorge Rodas Gamero, a two-time SOA graduate, who is the minister of security, a post he also held in Zelaya's government.

The ongoing training of Hondurans at Ft. Benning is not the only evidence of unbroken U.S.-Honduran military ties since the coup.

Another piece was discovered by Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois, the founder of SOA Watch, while on fact-finding mission to Honduras last week.

Bourgeois -- accompanied by two lawyers, Kent Spriggs and Dan Kovalik -- visited the Soto Cano/Palmerola Air Base northwest of Tegucigalpa, where the U.S. Southern Command's Joint Task Force-Bravo is stationed.

"Helicopters were flying all around, and we spoke with the U.S. official on duty, a Sgt. Reyes" about the U.S.-Honduran relationship, Bourgeois said. "We asked him if anything had changed since the coup and he said no, nothing."

The group later met with U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens, who claimed that he had no knowledge of ongoing U.S. military activity with the Hondurans, Bourgeois said. The ambassador also said that he himself has had no contact with the de facto government.

That has apparently changed. Christopher Webster, the director of the State Department's Office of Central American Affairs, said Monday that Llorens has in fact been in touch with the current coup government, according to Eric LeCompte, the national organizer for SOA Watch.

LeCompte met with Webster Monday along with other representatives of human rights groups and three Hondurans -- Marvin Ponce Sauceda, a member of the Honduran National Congress, Jari Dixon Herrera Hernández, a lawyer with the Honduran attorney general's office, and Dr. Juan Almendares Bonilla, director of the Center for the Prevention, Rehabilitation and Treatment of Victims of Torture.

Webster told the group that Llorens and the State Department are engaging the coup government to the extent necessary to bring about a solution to the crisis.

Webster "told us that military aid had been cut off, and that the return of Zelaya as president is non-negotiable although the conditions under which he returns are negotiable," LeCompte said.

Herrera Hernández, the lawyer with the Honduran attorney general's office, told Webster that the coup government has disseminated misinformation by claiming the coup was legal because the court had issued an arrest warrant for Zelaya for pushing ahead with a non-binding referendum on whether to change the Honduran constitution.

However, the order to arrest Zelaya came a day after the coup, he said. And contrary to coup propaganda, Zelaya never sought to extend his term in office, and even if the survey had been held, changing the constitution would have required action by the legislature, he said.

Whatever legal argument the coup leaders had against Zelaya, it fell apart when they flew him into exile rather than prosecuting him, the attorney said. The legal system has broken down, he added, for if this can happen to the president, who can't it happen to?

Linda Cooper and James Hodge are the authors of Disturbing the Peace: The Story of Father Roy Bourgeois and the Movement to Close the School of the Americas.

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JG: Don't believe the smooth talk of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. They are active supporters of the coup d'etat in Honduras. They continue to give diplomatic recognition to the illegal regime of Roberto Michelletti, who is merely a puppet of SOA graduate, General Romeo Vazquez.

Royal Ballet in Havana



More great photos of the Royal Ballet in Havana.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

It is time for Obama to fire Hillary Clinton!

Behind the scenes, Hillary Clinton continues to sabotage the foreign policy pronouncements of Barack Obama.

He has declared that Manuel Zelaya is the constitutional president of Honduras. Hillary Clinton continues to refuse to call what happened in Honduras a coup d'etat. She is a very good protector of the oligarchical elites in Latin America. She always sides with the filthy rich and not with the people.

Obama needs to get rid of this evil woman. But because he is more interested in "compromises" I doubt very much that he has what it takes to fire her.

30th Aniversary of the Sandinista Revolution

Tomorrow Sunday the people of Nicaragua will celebrate the glorious 30th. anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution. There was no bloodier and more corrupt dictator than Anastasio Somoza in Central America. He was a very good friend of the Yankee imperialists, as they always make sure to befriend all kinds of shady characters.

Ronald Reagan's 'Contras' and Olllie North's cocaine cowboys did not prevail against the Nicaraguan people. Today, Nicaragua is free.

Long live the memory of Augusto César Sandino!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Venceremos Brigade sends open letter to President Obama

People's Weekly World Newspaper, 07/16/09 12:03

Author: Venceremos Brigade

July 13, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington DC

Dear President Obama,

On August 3rd, 2009, over 140 of us will be returning from Cuba without a government license — in defiance of the travel restrictions and economic embargo that our government has imposed on that nation for close to 50 years.

We are traveling to Cuba in order to denounce a failed and inhumane policy towards Cuba, and to express our solidarity with the Cuban people and their struggles. We are aware that we face repercussions for our act of civil disobedience, but are strengthened by Martin Luther King Jr.'s conviction that “one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

For the past half-century, the United States has pursued a policy implemented with the explicit purpose of making the Cuban people suffer to such an extent that they — out of misery and poverty — overthrow their government. The Cuban people can no longer be collateral damage for an outdated foreign policy. We reject such hostilities, and call for your administration to realize its own pledges for a more diplomatic and humane U.S. that respects the sovereignty of other nations. We strongly urge you to take meaningful steps towards ending the economic embargo and lifting all travel restrictions to Cuba for all U.S. citizens and residents.

Many of us identify with the philosophical principle that you were elected on — a platform of change — and that is our incentive towards contacting you. At this historical moment, your administration has the opportunity to start that new beginning you mentioned the U.S. was seeking. We agree and call for more engagement.

We are students, teachers, medical personnel, autoworkers, social workers, artists, professors, lawyers and community organizers, among other occupations. We are an intergenerational group of different races, ethnicities, sexes, and sexual orientations, and are traveling from throughout the U.S. We will be doing volunteer work (in the past 40 years, this has varied from sugar cane harvests to painting neighborhood hospitals to renovating schools) and meeting with Cubans throughout the island (from rappers to hurricane relief workers to those fighting for LGBT equality to the Federation of Cuban Women); opening up engagement and dialogue among both people while exercising our constitutional right to travel.

This is what unites us: our affirmation of our constitutional right to travel, solidarity with the Cuban people, and an absolute condemnation of a foreign policy that has used the Cuban people’s suffering as a political pawn, blocking off engagement between both countries.

The time for rectifying U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba is past due.

Your administration has recently taken steps towards dialogue with Cuba. There is bipartisan support in both houses of Congress for further opening. The majority of the U.S. population — including Cuban Americans — is in favor of these measures. In addition, congressional momentum towards easing the embargo has been in line with the expansion of internet-based technologies within Cuba, as well as economic benefits for the U.S., particularly for the agricultural industry and small, minority- and women-owned businesses.

Furthermore, the very constitutionality of the travel restrictions, a means of enforcing the embargo, will soon be challenged in our federal courts.

In Cuba, the highest-ranking leadership has repeatedly expressed its willingness to discuss any topic — even offering to release all individuals the U.S. considers political prisoners. In just the past few years, there have been new, developing social and cultural spaces where political critiques are being expressed — independently — by Cubans themselves. These have been accompanied by several deregulatory measures by the new President there.

Internationally, U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba is overwhelmingly denounced. From the U.N General Assembly condemning the embargo for 17 consecutive years to the Organization of American States (OAS) recently deciding to rectify the act of excluding Cuba, the international community has clearly called for a multilateral approach that includes — not isolates — Cuba.

Thus, the question is not why we should lift the embargo — with the travel restrictions as part of their enforcement — but why is it still in place? Such a justification is inconsistent with our constitutional rights, your electoral pledge for foreign relations based on respect and equality and the most decent, humanitarian sentiments of the U.S. people. Such sentiments require an opening of exchange, an end to the embargo and all other acts against Cuba, including the incarceration of the 5 Cuban patriots — sent here to cooperate with the U.S. government against terrorism — whom you can, and should free through a presidential pardon.

Therefore, we ask that you — with your authority as President — transcend the old, stalled politics of yesterday. We urge you to support lifting the travel restrictions for all U.S. citizens and residents, and take serious steps towards ending the economic embargo on Cuba . Only then can a new beginning begin, where the U.S. and Cuba lay the foundation for a relationship based on friendship and mutual respect.

Until then, we will travel to Cuba as the 40th contingent of the Venceremos Brigade, demanding a U.S. foreign policy that respects our rights and our sentiments towards the Cuban people.

Sincerely,

Diego Iniguez-Lopez

Bonnie Massey

On behalf of the Venceremos Brigade, 40th contingent

Venceremos Brigade
PO Box 5202
Englewood , NJ 07631-5202
email: vbrigade@yahoo. com
voicemail: 212-560-4360
website: www.venceremosbrigade.org

Cuba pre-selects 58 players for World Baseball Cup

The World Baseball Cup will be played from September 9 to the 27th, 2009. It will be played in European venues.

Cuba will be represented by a National Selection team composed of 24 players.

Cuba has split those who aspire to represent the Pearl of the Antilles into two teams who will train together before the final 24 are selected.

Here are the two teams:

OCCIDENTALES

Receptores: Eriel Sánchez, Yosvani Peraza y Yaismel Alberro. Cuadro: José Dariel Abreu, Yoandri Garlobo, Rafael Valdés, Ernesto Molinet, Michel Enríquez, Yariel Duque, Roberto Carlos Ramírez, Rudy Reyes y Donal Duarte. Jardineros: Frederich Cepeda, Leonys Martín, Jorge Padrón, Juan Carlos Linares, Ariel Sánchez e Irait Chirino. Lanzadores: Pedro Luis Lazo, Yadier Pedroso, Yulieski González, Miguel Alfredo González, Ismel Jiménez, Miguel Lahera, Jonder Martínez, Vladimir Baños, Noelvis Entenza, Norberto González y Arleys Sánchez. Mentor: Esteban Lombillo. Auxiliares: Rafael Muñoz y Omar Linares. Entrenador: Javier Gálvez.

ORIENTALES

Receptores: Ariel Pestano, Rolando Meriño y Yulexis La Rosa. Cuadro: Ariel Borrero, Yorelvis Charles, Héctor Olivera, Yoilan Cerce, Yulieski Gourriel, Adonis García, Luis Miguel Navas, Yorbis Borroto y Alexander Guerrero. Jardineros: Alfredo Despaigne, Yoennis Céspedes, Giorvis Duvergel, Yoelvis Fiss, Leslie Anderson y Yeral Sánchez. Lanzadores: Norge Luis Vera, Freddy Asiel Álvarez, Maikel Folch, Yaumier Sánchez, Vladimir García, Valeri García, Alfredo Unzue, Alberto Bicet, Alien Mora, Misael Siverio y Danny Betancourt. Mentor: Eduardo Martín. Auxiliares: Luis Jova y Orestes Kindelán. Entrenador: Omar Carrero.

Source: Granma

Lawsuit challenges U.S. ban on travel to Cuba

Thu Jul 16, 2009 3:26pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal lawsuit was filed on Thursday challenging the constitutionality of a U.S. policy that compels Americans who travel to Cuba to disclose details about their spending there.

The policy forces travelers to incriminate themselves, said the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn by the Center for Constitutional Rights, a non-profit legal advocacy group.

U.S. citizens can technically travel to Cuba but are barred from spending money there without authorization from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces sanctions against the communist country that date back almost to Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution.

Unlicensed U.S. travelers face fines of up to $10,000.

Previous lawsuits against the travel ban have been thrown out of U.S. courts, but political circumstances are changing.

In April, President Barack Obama pledged a "new beginning" in U.S. relations with Cuba and lifted restrictions placed by the Bush administration on travel and cash remittances by Cuban Americans to their homeland.

A bill that would lift the ban on travel to Cuba for all Americans is also pending in Congress.

The New York lawsuit challenges OFAC's right to compel individuals to answer questions about their expenditures while in Cuba. Volunteering such information would make an individual vulnerable to criminal prosecution, the lawsuit said.

The U.S. government policy is "part of its efforts to stifle American travel to Cuba," the lawsuit said.

A spokesperson at the Treasury Department could not immediately be reached for comment.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of a New York man, Zachary Sanders, 35, who traveled to Cuba for three weeks in 1998. Sanders, who flew to Cuba by way of the Bahamas, refused to offer details about his spending and was fined $1,000.

He contested the fine but his appeal was rejected and the fine was increased to $9,000, his lawyer Anjana Samant said.

"He was very clear that he went to Cuba because he believed the U.S. travel ban is unlawful and immoral," said Samant.

(Reporting by Edith Honan; editing by Anthony Boadle)

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JG: So far, there has been very little change in Cuba policies from those of George W. Bush. OFAC continues to harass American citizens who travel to Cuba.

Do not expect much from Obama when it comes to Cuba. He is 100% capitalist and they hate Socialism with a passion. Billary will do anything she can to obstruct better relations between the two countries.

Welcome to "Change You Can Believe In."



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Rights Group Says Government Requirements and Penalties Against Cuba Travelers Unconstitutional

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2009
10:51 AM

CONTACT: Center for Constitutional Rights
Jen Nessel, 212.614.6449, jnessel@ccrjustice.org
David Lerner, Riptide Communications, 212.260.5000

NEW YORK - July 16 - Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel Sokolski & Zekaria, P.C. filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Brooklyn, New York challenging the government’s attempt to fine individuals thousands of dollars for failing to fill out a self-incriminating questionnaire, as part of its efforts to stifle American travel to Cuba.

In what attorneys call “blatant disregard for the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and Eighth Amendment prohibition against excessive fines,” the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) requires people suspected of having traveled to Cuba to disclose detailed information about the alleged travel, under the threat of monetary penalties and potential jail time.

“The vindictive tactics of OFAC are nothing short of bullying,” said plaintiff and CCR client Zachary Sanders. “In the spirit of progress and forward thinking, the U.S.’s restrictions on travel to Cuba and petty policies that perpetuate outdated Cold War ideology should be repealed.”

In 2000, OFAC accused Mr. Sanders of having gone to Cuba without authorization. Mr. Sanders refused to answer OFAC’s “Requirement to Furnish Information” about the trip and challenged the legality of OFAC’s actions in administrative proceedings. An administrative law judge rejected Mr. Sanders’ claims, ordering him to pay a $1,000 fine – not for having travelled to Cuba, but for failing to acquiesce to OFAC’s demands. Mr. Sanders appealed the fine this past fall but, on the Bush administration’s final day, the Department of Treasury rejected his plea and raised his penalty to $9,000.

“Although the Obama administration relaxed Bush-era restrictions on Cuban-Americans’ ability to visit family in Cuba, it has done nothing to end the travel restrictions generally or to change OFAC’s unlawful practices,” said CCR attorney Anjana Samant. “What happened to Mr. Sanders could happen to anyone else.”

The lawsuit comes days before over 140 members of the Venceremos Brigade embark for Cuba as part of the group’s 40th anniversary of traveling to the country as an act of civil disobedience as a challenge to the trade blockade. Said Diego Iniguez-Lopez of the Brigade, who is going on the trip, “The Venceremos Brigade is going to Cuba this year asserting our constitutional right to travel to Cuba while showing our solidarity with the Cuban people against the travel restrictions and economic embargo, which for close to 50 years have closed off valuable dialogue and exchange between both countries' people."

OFAC, which is housed in the United States Department of the Treasury, enforces economic embargos and economic travel restrictions on Cuba. While travel to Cuba is technically legal, travel restrictions placed by OFAC forbid Americans from spending any money while in Cuba.

Please note: Plaintiff Zachary Sanders is available to do interviews in Spanish as well as English.

###


The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The emperor and his puppet

Dwight D. Eisenhower is all smiles for
his protege and puppet in Havana.

Cuba-U.S. immmigration talks set to resume at the United Nations

Various news agencies have reported that "talks between Cuba and the United States on the thorny issue of immigration, suspended since 2003, will resume on Tuesday at United Nations headquarters in New York."

This is a step in the right direction. Although the Obama administration continues to support the failed Cuba emabargo, talking is better than insulting each other.

The colossus of the North must recognize and admit that the government of Cuba will never bargain away its right to sovereingty, self-determination and independence.

Declaración de Prensa de la Delegación Cubana a las Conversaciones Migratorias con los Estados Unidos, Nueva York, 14 de julio del 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cuba wins crown at World Port Baseball Tournament

Cuba has won, for the eigth time, the prestigious World Port Baseball Tournament in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Cuba won the championship game played yesterday by 9-3. Cuba had seven wins, one loss and one tie game. The Netherlands, the runner up, had four wins and five losses. Maikel Folch was the winner of the final game, and had two wins and no losses at the tournament. He was also selected as the best pitcher in the tournament.

Cuba's Yoelvis Fiss was selected as MVP and home run king for the tournament.

Tournament Wiki Page

Granma's Sigfredo Barro: Cuba, por octava vez

'Mel, Amigo, El Pueblo Está Contigo'

Click here for photo essay.

Obama and Hillary are still keeping the U.S.ambassador in Tegucigalpa, and continue to reject calling the coup d'etat what it really is.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sugar Cane Cutters by Mario Carreño

Sugar Cane Cutters by Mario Carreño.

Cuban painter Mario Carreño, who died a decade ago in Chile, has returned into the news. His work “Fuego en el batey” (Fire in the sugar mill village) was recently auctioned off at Christie’s New York Latin American Art Evening for the astronomical sum of US $2.18 million, probably the highest price paid in history for a piece by a Cuban artist.

At the end of the 1990s, this same gallery had auctioned off one of the artist’s other pieces, “El arlequín desollado”, for $442,500. At that time is was thought that this sum would be difficult to surpass by Mario or any other creator from the island.

Source: IPS article reproduced at Havana Times.

Britain's Royal Ballet arrives in Havana

BBC

Page last updated at 08:09 GMT, Sunday, 12 July 2009 09:09 UK

The UK's Royal Ballet has arrived in Havana for its first visit to Cuba.

It is putting on five days of shows, featuring the company's Cuban star Carlos Acosta and a tribute to Cuban ballet legend Alicia Alonso.

All the tickets were sold out within hours, as Cubans looked forward to seeing the first major ballet company since the Bolshoi almost 30 years ago.

To cater for the huge demand, the performances will be shown on giant screens outside the theatre.

The director of the Royal Ballet, Dame Monica Mason, said the national passion for ballet was one of the attractions of taking the company to Cuba.

"Dance is central to the culture in Cuba. It's at the very heart of the Cuban people," she said.

She said the tribute to Alicia Alonso would include a dance from Giselle, one of her best-known performances.

Alonso, who is 88, danced in the US and Europe and has led the Cuban national ballet since shortly after Fidel Castro took power in a 1959 revolution.

Acosta, considered one of the world's best dancers, was her student before leaving Cuba.

The company will perform at the Gran Teatro in central Havana the first three days, where the screens will be based.

The Karl Marx Teatro will host the final two.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Brazil to help finance Cuban port project

Thu Jul 9, 2009 6:24pm EDT
By Jeff Franks

HAVANA, July 9 (Reuters) - Brazil said on Thursday it would give Cuba up to $300 million in credits to start rebuilding the island's port of Mariel.

Brazilian Industry and Trade Minister Miguel Jorge said $110 million had been approved by his government and the rest would likely be approved too, as Brazil strengthens its ties with Cuba.

He said in a news conference that construction, to be led by a Brazilian company, would begin "very soon" with the building of infrastructure including highways and a railroad for the port about 30 miles (50 km) west of Havana.

Brazilian officials said Cuba expects the entire port project, which will be built in several phases, to cost up to $2 billion.

The first phase is projected to take four or five years to complete and cost $600 million, they said.

Cuba wants Mariel to serve as logistics center for its still-nascent offshore oil industry and to be equipped to handle shipments from around the world, including the United States, just 90 miles (145 km) to the north of Cuba.

Jorge, who was on the second day of a two-day visit to Cuba, said Brazil's state-owned oil giant Petrobras, which last October was awarded a bloc for oil exploration in Cuban waters, would open an office in Havana on Tuesday.

He said Petrobras was completing seismic studies of the bloc and working on getting a drilling rig to Cuba.

Jorge did not say when Petrobras expected to begin drilling. So far, only one test well has been drilled in Cuba's offshore fields -- by Spain's Repsol-YPF in 2004.

(Editing by Jim Loney)

New York Philharmonic invited to perform in Cuba

The New York Times has reported the following:

The New York Philharmonic, is seriously considering an invitation to perform for the first time in Havana. Philharmonic officials plan to travel to Cuba on Friday to look over logistics, the orchestra’s spokesman, Eric Latzky said.

The visit would take place in late October, just a few days after the orchestra returns from an Asian tour that will include Vietnam. In February 2008, it traveled to North Korea.

In the wake of that visit, several Philharmonic officials had casual conversations with an ABC News official who has contacts with Cuban diplomats in Washington. The ABC official put the two sides together, unofficial contacts ensued, and a formal invitation came last week, Mr. Latzky said.

The Cuban visit would last three or four days, he said, and include two concerts. The Philharmonic’s incoming music director, Alan Gilbert, would conduct, as he will for the Asian tour just before. No repertory has been chosen, Mr. Latzky said.

Migel Alfredo Gonzalez shines in Rotterdam

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the star pitcher of los Vaqueros of La Habana, Cuba's current National Baseball champion team, blanked the Japanese squad, only allowing them one hit in five innings. Cuba KO'd the team of the Rising Sun in just seven innings. The final score was 10-0.

With this victory Cuba remains at the top of the standings of the 2009 World Port Baseball Tournament, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Cuba has no losses in seven games. Six wins and a 1-1 tie vs Taiwan.

Miguel Alfredo has two wins and the batting average of those facing him is just 083.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The United States, Obama and Hillary continue to look the other way

It has been now ten days since a graduate of the School of The Americas, General Romeo Vazquez, staged his military coup d'etat against the constitutional and elected government in Honduras.

Just about every decent country in the world has condemned and repudiated the Gorillas that now govern the Central American Nation.

Obama and Hillary continue to procrastinate. "By their deeds yee shall know them" goes the old biblical proverb.

It is very obvious that the Democratic Party, Obama, and Hillary prefer to have a fascist right wing government in Honduras. They continue to provide economic aid and continue to keep 800 U.S. Army troops in Honduras to ensure that the "correct" people run the country.

One more disappointment among the many that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have given us. Next time that you hear them talking about "freedom" and "democracy," please realize that they are in favor of keeping the oligarchical elites in power.

Monday, July 06, 2009

PLOMO CON ELLOS! The Gorillas of Honduras are commiting crimes against the people

It is very sad to see what is happening in Honduras. The Fascist Gorillas that govern that Central American country are beginning to kill citizens of Honduras who are exercising their constitutional rights.

Speeches and high pronouncements are not going to solve anything. A multinational Latin American military strike force needs to be created and used to restore Manuel Zelaya to the presidency.

These thugs will not understand anything but brute force.

PLOMO CON ELLOS!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Cuba wins over Taiwan by 9-1

In their third straight vitory of the World Port Baseball Tournament in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, the Cuban team beat Chinese Taipei by 9-1 today. The criollos had sixteen hits and the winning pitcher was Freddy Asiel Alvarez. Yoelvis fiss connected a vuelacercas.

Cuba remains undefeated (3-0) and will play against host The Netherlands tomorrow Sunday.

GO CUBA!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Cuba beats Japan 8-0

In the second game of the World Port Baseball Tournament, which was played today in The Netherlands, the Cuban National Selection Team beat Japan by the score of 8-0.

Cuba connected 12 hits, and the Japanese could only come up with three. Maikel Folch was the winning pitcher for the criollos.

Tomorrow, Cuba will play Chinese Taipei.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Cuba defeats Netherlands 1-0


Rolando Meriño brought home the winning run
Photo: ALex Castro

Cuba defeated The Netherlands this afternoon in the 2009 edition of the World Port Baseball Tournament in The Netherlands. The final score was 1-0. Cuba had nine hits and The Netherlands collected four.

I looked for the score all over the Internet. Wikipedia came to my rescue. Click here for the Wiki Website devoted to the 2009 tournament.

Cuba will play Japan tomorrow. The U.S team withdrew from the tournament at the last minute. If it looks, walks, and sounds like a chicken it must be a ...

Details of yesterday's game:

Meriño decidió ante Holanda

Sigfredo Barros
sigfredo.bs@granma.cip.cu

Excelentes faenas del abridor Miguel Alfredo González, el relevista Yadier Pedroso y el cerrador Vladimir García, unidas a un decisivo jit de Rolando Meriño le dieron a la selección cubana un cerrado triunfo de 1-0 frente a Holanda, en el programa inaugural del XII Torneo Mundial de Puertos, con sede en Rotterdam.

El mentor Roger Machado colocó en el césped del estadio Neptunus Familye una alineación con Giorvis Duvergel en la pradera central, Leonys Martín en el derecho, Meriño en función de designado, Eriel Sánchez detrás del plato, Yoelvis Fiss en el bosque izquierdo, Borrero a cargo de la custodia del primer cojín, Adonis García como antesalista, Yorbis Borroto en el campo corto y Rafael Valdés en la intermedia.

Miguel Alfredo se presentó en buena forma y durante seis entradas limitó a los holandeses (representados en la justa con buena parte de su equipo nacional, encabezado por el olímpico receptor Sydney de Jong) a dos jits, repartiendo un par de ponches y regalando tres boletos. Retiró por su orden a los primeros ocho rivales y su único momento difícil llegó en el sexto capítulo, cuando Eugene Kingsale disparó sencillo y, ya con dos outs, De Jong conectó doblete. Pero obligó a otro internacional, Brian Engelhardt, a roletear por el box.

Un digno rival resultó el hombre seleccionado por Rod Delmonico, nuevo mentor de los tulipanes, para abrir el choque, el zurdo Diegomar Markwell, el mismo que trabajó contra Cuba en la Copa Mundial del 2005. Lo hizo bien, pero en el tercero toleró la única del choque cuando Rafael Valdés encendió un cohete a los jardines y, tras el sacrificio de Giorvis y el ponche de Leonys, Meriño lo remolcó desde segunda con un sencillo.

Los innings séptimo y octavo los lanzó Pedroso, quien permitió un jit y estrucó a dos, mientras el cierre estuvo a cargo de Vladimir, un jit y un ponche propinado. Leonys, Eriel y Fiss batearon de 4-2. Hoy, desde las 8:00 a.m., hora de Cuba, enfrentarán a Japón.

ANOTACIÓN POR ENTRADAS

NEPTUNUS FAMILYE C H E
CUB 001 000 000 1 9 0
HOL 000 000 000 0 4 1

G: Miguel Alfredo González (1-0).
P: Diegomar Markwell (0-1).

1997: The Chess Match that Shook the World


Deep Blue was a computer program developed by IBM to beat grandmaster Garry Kasparov, the top chess player in the world at the time, according to ELO ratings. Playing white, Deep Blue won the first game in the match on February 10, 1996 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Kasparov rebounded over the next five games, winning three and drawing two, to soundly beat the machine in the 1996 match.

THE MACHINE STRIKES BACK!

Deep Blue was then heavily upgraded (unofficially nicknamed "Deeper Blue") and played Kasparov again in May 1997, winning the six-game rematch 3½–2½, ending on May 11, in game six, and becoming the first computer system to defeat a reigning world champion in a match under standard chess tournament time controls.

IBM 1997 Rematch Website

Another Dollar Chaser leaves Cuba's National Baseball Team

Another Cuban baseball player, Aroldis Chapman, age 21, lured by the dollar mermaids, has left the Cuban National Baseball Selection Team.

I think that he is making a huge mistake. The good Cuban baseball players remain in the island and play for the national honor of being in the baseball team which represent the island in international competition.

Remember what happened to El Duque? The New York Yankees discarded him faster than you can say "Down with Fidel Castro."

I wish Aroldis the best of luck. But in his country, he is now a pariah. Because he is black, he will also have to deal with the inherent racism and xenophobia that are daily ocurrences in La Yuma.

GM strikes back against Cuba's Coco Taxi

General Motors Electric Rickshaw

Honduras Dictatorship Suspends Contitutional Guarantees

The de facto military government which currently rules Honduras after the legitimate president of the republic was sent into exile this past Sunday has suspended all constitutional guarantees for Hondurans, report various international news agencies in the Internet.

In the meantime, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton continue to have a passionate debate as to whether to label the events of last Sunday a coup d'etat. Don't worry folks, the Tooth Fairy, Batman and Superman will take care of everything.

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it must be a ...

The United States government continues to maintain its ambassador in Tegucigalpa and continues to send economic aid to the illegal regime of Roberto Goriletti, who is merely a puppet of General Romeo Vazquez, Chief of Staff of the Honduras Armed Forces.

The "Compromiser in Chief" in the White House is trying to find a solution. Will he hold a press conference to tell the American people that we definitely need those Honduras Chiquita Bananas?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Smooth Talker in the White House

President Barack Obama continues to greatly disappoint people when it comes to the response of his administration against the fascist gorillas who now govern Honduras.

You have to hand it to him, though. He is a very smooth talker, but he definitely fails to walk his talk.

France and Spain have announced that they will withdraw their ambassadors from Tegucigalpa. The World Bank and the Interamerican Development Bank have announced that they have frozen and stopped any further economic aid to the gorillas. The United Nations and the Organization of American States have denounced the coup d'etat carried out by a graduate of the U.S. School of the Americas. Two courageous Latin American presidents, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchener of Argentina and Rafael Correa of Ecuador have announced that they will accompany Manuel Zelaya tomorrow when he returns to Honduras.

Under the table, Uncle Sam, continues to support the coup, while the courageous Honduran people have paralyzed their nation with an indefinite General Strike.

What Barack Obama needs to do is withdraw the American ambassador and cut off all aid to the illegal regime. U.S. law requires that he cut off assistance to any government that comes to power via coup d'etat.

Barack Obama is all talk and no action.

------

The Honduran gorillas want to convince the U.S. that they are “democrats” and “anti-drug”

Thursday July 1st. Update: 12:15 p.m.

If you do not have the law on your side, smear your opponents.

That is a tactic that the Honduras gorillas certainly learned from the two major capitalist parties in the United States.

The illegal regime that governs Honduras now is claiming that that “Zelaya had been letting drug traffickers ship U.S.-bound cocaine from Venezuela through Honduras. The de-facto government spokesman said that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was aware of Zelaya's ties to organized crime.”

Typical fear and smear. Their American masters have taught the gorillas very well.

The return of Honduras legal president has been postponed until the weekend. The Organization of American States has given the new regime in Tegucigalpa a 72 hour ultimatum to restore the legitimate president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, to his constitutional office.

AGAINST THE FASCIST COUP IN HONDURAS!


Honduras Libre