Monday, August 31, 2009

Steve Clemons: Hillary Clinton's State Department has failed to carry out a full Cuba policy review

Steve Clemons, writing in TPM Café, has reported the following: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has failed to carry out a full policy review of our failed Cuba policies.

Here are the appropriate paragraphs:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "promised" Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Richard Lugar a "full policy review" during detailed responses to written questions posed by Lugar to the then nominee Clinton.

Nothing at all of consequence has happened with this review. There is no broad re-assessment of opportunities and challenges in the US-Cuba relationship, nor a new assessment of what was achieved or not regionally and internationally from Obama's recent Summit of the Americas outreach to Cuba and his efforts to lighten travel and remittance restrictions for Cuban-Americans.

At this point, Secretary of State Clinton has a State Department that is in "non-compliance" with the oversight committee of the US Senate that measures and observes the administration's actions because of the failure to perform this promised "policy review" -- behind which Clinton hid when not responding to a number of important questions.

JG: Barack Obama started his administration with a huge MISTAKE, the appointment of Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State. Both Hillary and Bill Clinton are in bed with the Miami ultra right wingers, and the couple will do everything that they can to sabotage improved relations with Cuba. Bill Clinton wanted to bomb Havana in 1996 when the “Brothers to the Rescue” planes, which were openly violating Cuba's airspace, were correctly shutdown by Cuba's Air Force. Those planes got what they deserved. Bill did not bomb Havana. Instead, he prostituted himself by getting in bed with U.S. Senator Jesse Helms and signing into law the Helms-Burton Act. The fascists in Miami have loved him ever since.

The Clinton's, together with the Gang of 66, very ably represent the evil side of the Democratic Party.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The extremely lucrative U.S. business of imposing “fines”

In the United States, everything, even including government day-to-day affairs can be considered a business. We even had a president who proclaimed "The business of America is business."

Cuba's daily newspaper Granma reported today, in a front page article titled “El bloqueo está igualito” that OFAC (The Office of Forreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury Department) has imposed a $5,750,000.00 fine against Australia and New Zeland Bank Group for alledgedly engaging in financial transactions with the government of Cuba during the Bush years of 2004 and 2006.

This is one more proof that there is very little difference between the George W. Bush and the Barack H. Obama administrations when it comes to enforcing the genocidal Cuba embargo/blockade.

Both Republicans and Democrats hate Cuba because it has a Socialists system and its government does not kiss the rear end of Uncle Sam.

Forget about the "Audacity of Hope." OFAC has to generate money for the Obama administration, which is going to be running this fiscal year a $1.6 TRILLION DOLLARS budget deficit.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Live and let live: It is time to reverse the course of our failed Cuba policies

Reverse course in Cuba

The U.S. policy of violence and economic isolation has failed

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

By Dan Simpson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

I have just come back from upstate New York's Chautauqua Institution with the week's theme having been Cuba. Keynote speakers included a Council on Foreign Relations analyst, a Cuban architectural historian, a member of the Cuban parliament, the editor of a Cuban magazine and a former Canadian ambassador to Cuba.

The presentations provoked thoughts on the state of U.S.-Cuban relations and on the current situation in Cuba, although I exonerate the speakers individually and collectively for what follows, as well as staid, intellectual Chautauqua, where I sometimes feel like a cobra among the garter snakes.

Bad U.S. relations with Cuba, an economically weak Caribbean island 90 miles off our shores, is a shameful blot on American policy and an example of America's leaders finding themselves unwilling or too blinded in terms of U.S. domestic politics to act sensibly and solve an unnecessary problem.

U.S.-Cuban relations from 1959 to 2009 comprise one of those chronicles where at numerous turns in the road there were opportunities to fix the problem. But at each of them, America, the overwhelmingly senior partner in the dance, instead found reasons, sometimes logical ones, to stomp on its partner's instep.

It's easy to see how U.S. relations with Fidel Castro's Cuba started badly. At the point that Fidel & Co. came to power Americans owned two-thirds of Cuba's assets. American crime organizations ran loose in Cuba. The country's president was Fulgencio Batista, a crooked dictator, very much America's kind of guy in Latin America at that point.

Mr. Castro's new government nationalized the Americans' assets, quite predictably. Instead of suggesting that we and the new government review the bidding, instead the United States under President Dwight E. Eisenhower, a Republican, and then John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, sought to bring down the new Cuban government. The means we employed were our normal favorites, violence, in the form of the Bay of Pigs invasion, and economic strangulation. Both failed miserably.

The grip that American business and organized crime had on the U.S. government at that point lent a Greek tragic inevitable quality to the two administrations' rejection of diplomacy in favor of attempts at assassination and violent overthrow, followed by seeking to smother what turned out to be the vigorous new infant in the cradle.

It was the Cold War, so the Russians quickly stepped into the gap. They stayed there until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and could no longer afford to sustain Cuba. Instead of taking steps to return to a more reasonable U.S.-Cuba relationship, the administration of George H. W. Bush, followed by that of Bill Clinton, instead rejoiced in the misery of a Cuba deprived of Soviet aid.

The sad line then in Cuba, a time referred to there as the "special period," ran as follows: "Cuba has only three problems -- breakfast, lunch and dinner." As Cuba attempted to pick itself up and brush itself off, like Pittsburgh when Big Steel left town, succeeding American administrations still counted on two nonpolicies to get rid of Mr. Castro and his regime: Wait for Cuba to collapse one day from economic and political isolation and wait for Fidel to die.

Since then, Fidel handed power over to brother Raul when the Grim Reaper began gaining on him, and Hugo Chavez, the president of oil-rich Venezuela, began collecting like-minded friends around the region. The United States still did not take advantage of Cuba's economic need, or the change in leadership, to move toward reasonable relations with its near neighbor, but continued instead to pursue the same, now hallowed, clumsy, obsolete approach.

Why hasn't this approach worked?

First, Cuba now knows that economically and politically it can live without the United States. Cubans do not like poverty, but they know they can endure it. Their health care system is fine. Their literacy rate is high. Tourism, nickel ore and sugar put some change in the country's pockets.

U.S. attempts to sell Cubans democracy have fallen flat. They know what Cuba was like under Batista and the American fat cats and mobsters. They also followed the 2000 electoral drama in nearby Florida with great interest. A court giving the presidency to the brother of the governor of Florida based on dubious electoral results was not un-Cuban in its dramatic evolution.

There may be another fork in the road of U.S.-Cuban relations coming up, based on a change in the U.S. presidency. Mr. Obama has taken no bold steps yet, but his administration is showing more grace and agility so far than the George W. Bush crew, which drew support from the extremist anti-Castro Cuban exile community in Florida.

There may be more wiggle room to work with on the Cuban side as well, if Mr. Obama's people have the wit to see it. Raul Castro does show signs of being less rigid in his attitude toward the United States. (It was his brother, not him, that we wanted to kill, a fine difference.)

Venezuela's Chavez also may be running low on money for Cuba as he "friends" more Latin American countries and becomes more alarmed at the U.S. military build-up in neighboring Colombia and the coup d'etat in Honduras, which was conducted by soldiers some of whom had been trained in the United States.

Here again, as the clock ticks on into the Obama administration with no bold steps taken toward Cuba -- for whatever reason -- the United States and Cuba risk sliding into another four or eight years of stasis. The United States, with increasing futility, continues to try to isolate Cuba, waiting for one or both Castros to die. Other Latin Americans become increasingly exasperated with us -- and still a little fearful of the militarized economic giant to the north, which remains unable to arrive at a reasonable relationship with a little nearby island.

If for nothing other than the longevity of the problem, fixing this one would put some points on the board for a president badly in need of a three-pointer in his foreign policy. Send Hillary. Send Joe Biden.

Dan Simpson, a former U.S. ambassador, is a Post-Gazette associate editor (dsimpson@post-gazette.com, 412 263-1976).

First published on August 26, 2009 at 12:00 am

------

JG: A fine article. Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton are stridently anti-Cuba. They are part of the problem and not part of the solution. New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson is in Cuba right now. He is the right man for the job of making peaceful overtures to the Cuban government. Obama must abandon setting pre-conditions. They will not be accepted by Cuba.

It is very obvious to everyone, except the extremist Batista hard liners in Miami, that our Cuba policies have failed. If Barack Obama is not willing to make a clean break with the U.S. mistakes of the past, then he will be another inconsequential president.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cuba's National Baseball Selection to the 2009 World Baseball Cup

Manager: Esteban Lombillo.

Catchers: Ariel Pestano, Eriel Sánchez and Yosvani Peraza.

Infield: Ariel Borrero, José Dariel Abréu, Héctor Olivera, Yulieski Gourriel, Michel Enríquez, Luis Miguel Navas and Yorbis Borroto.

Outfielders: Frederich Cepeda, Alfredo Despaigne, Yoennis Céspedes, Giorvis Duvergel and Leonys Martín.

Pitchers: Pedro Luis Lazo, Norge Luis Vera, Maikel Folch, Vladimir García, Yadier Pedroso, Yulieski González, Jonder Martínez, Miguel Alfredo González and Freddy Asiel Álvarez.

Source: Granma

------

JG: Great team! GO CUBA!

Central Florida Bishop Urges Lifting Embargo Against Cuba

13 Central Florida News

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 4:09:58 AM

ORLANDO -- The Catholic Diocese of Orlando is reaching out to Cuba spiritually, financially and politically.

Bishop Thomas Wenski went to Cuba last week as part of a Catholic delegation to check on how donated money is being spent to help the country.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops awarded $860,000 to the Church of Cuba.

When Castro became Cuba's dictator, people were prohibited from attending Catholic services. [JG: to a near-sighted capitalist reporter, anyone who does not kiss the ass of Uncle Sam is immediately labeled as a "dictator." Batista was a "friend" and a "democrat" because he kissed the ass of the Yankee imperialists 24/7.]

About $250,000 of that money went to storm recovery after last year's Hurricanes Gustav and Ike devastated the island nation.

The Orlando diocese raised an additional $50,000 through special collections.

Wenski said that even that money is not enough to put a dent in Cuba's need. The Catholic Church is calling for an end to the embargo.

"We feel it's a very dull instrument that affects the innocent as much as it tries to punish the guilty," Wenski said. "I think it would help, perhaps, open Cuba further if there was a lifting of those restrictions. I think one of the best advertisements for the advantages of American democracy is to see a lot of fat American tourists walking around the country."

Now that the bishops are back in the U.S., Wenski said they are urging the Obama Administration to connect with Cuba to end travel restrictions.

------

JG: Applause for Bishop Wenski!

Fidel Castro says racist right-wingers fight Obama

Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:06am EDT

HAVANA (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is trying to make positive changes in the United States, but is being fought at every turn by right-wingers who hate him because he is black, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Tuesday.

In an unusually conciliatory column in the state-run media, Castro said Obama had inherited many problems from his predecessor, George W. Bush, and was trying to resolve them. But the "powerful extreme right won't be happy with anything that diminishes their prerogatives in the slightest way."

Obama does not want to change the U.S. political and economic system, but "in spite of that, the extreme right hates him for being African-American and fights what the president does to improve the deteriorated image of that country," Castro wrote.

"I don't have the slightest doubt that the racist right will do everything possible to wear him down, blocking his program to get him out of the game one way or another, at the least political cost," he said.

Castro, who writes regular commentaries for Cuba's state-run media, has criticized Obama, complimented him occasionally and said that he is watching him closely to see if he means what he says about changing U.S. policy toward Cuba.

His latest column comes during a visit to Cuba by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson that has stirred speculation that he may try to push U.S.-Cuba relations forward. (See: Is Bill Richardson carrying a message from Obama?)

Richardson has been a diplomatic trouble-shooter in nations with which the United States has poor relations. In 1996 he negotiated with Castro for the release of three Cuban political prisoners.

Obama has said he wants to end 50 years of hostilities between the United States and Cuba and has eased the long-standing U.S. trade embargo against the communist-led island.

But he has said the embargo will be lifted only if Cuba shows progress on political prisoners and human rights. Cuban President Raul Castro has said he is happy to discuss these issues but will make no unilateral concessions.

Obama has been criticized by anti-embargo groups for moving too slowly on Cuban policy.

Castro, 83, ran Cuba for 49 years after taking power in a 1959 revolution, but stepped down last year so Raul Castro, his younger brother, could succeed him.

He has not been seen in public since undergoing intestinal surgery in July 2006, but still plays a behind-the-scenes role in government and maintains a high profile through his writings.

He appeared on Cuban television on Sunday for the first time in 14 months meeting with Venezuelan students.

He seemed in good health as he smiled and talked with the students in an appearance some experts believe was aimed at shoring up support for his brother and the government at a time when Cuba is in deep economic crisis.

(Reporting by Jeff Franks; editing by Chris Wilson)

------

JG: On the Cuba issue Obama has been a big disappointment, but Fidel is on the mark. The right wingers are trying to destroy Barack Obama, specially on the very important issue of health care reform. I rather have Obama in the Oval Office instead of John McCain or Rush Limbaugh.

Monday, August 24, 2009

George W. Bush's C.I.A. = Hitler's Gestapo

New details emerge of CIA interrogators' treatment of prisoners

Obama's not so secret war on Social Security and retirees

JG: The guy promised the American People audacious hope. Instead he has delivered to us audacious hype.

He has continued the industrial military complex's war in Iraq, and has escalated what has practically become his war in Afghanistan.

He has continued George W. Bush's policies on secret surveillance of the lawful activities of the American people, and on the Cuba issue, he has continued the failed Cuba embargo/blockade.

Now, his administration has decided that there will be no Social Security cost of living adjustments for 2010 and 2011 for retired people, at the same time that medical and prescription drugs continue to go higher and higher.

Obama is going to be another Bill Clinton, phony as a three dollar bill. Thousands of Americans will desert him in 2012. But he could be saved if the G.O.P is stupid enough to nominate Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrigh or Rush "Give-Me-My-Pain-Pills" Limbaugh.

Bill Nader was always right. There is very little difference between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fidel meets Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa


Un profundo intercambio de impresiones se produjo en la mañana del pasado 21 de agosto entre el líder de la Revolución cubana, Fidel Castro Ruz, y el Presidente de Ecuador, Rafael Correa Delgado, acerca de la actualidad revolucionaria de ambos pueblos en la búsqueda de una mayor equidad y justicia social

Photo: Juventud Rebelde

JG: Fidel looks very well in this picture taken two days ago in Havana.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Did Miami's Cuban Mafia threaten artist?

They use intimidation and, in manay cases in the past, actual act of violence against those who are using their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression rights. The goons of Hitler, Mussollini, Franco and Pinochet used the same tacticts. People were "dissappeared" by the followers of those fascists.

In Miami, if you say anything nice about the Cuban goverment and/or if you dare to go and perform in Cuba YOUR LIFE WILL BE THREATENED by the scum who reside there.

Cuba condemns threats against Juanes over concert

Associated Press

HAVANA — Cuba is condemning threats made against Colombian pop singer Juanes, who plans to stage a "Peace Without Borders" concert next month in Havana's Plaza of the Revolution.

Cuban Culture Minister Abel Prieto blamed anti-Castro exiles in the United States for the threats and said the Sept. 20 show will go on as planned. His comments were reported Saturday by Cuba's state news agency, Prensa Latina.

Prieto said those issuing the threats "should be ashamed of what they're doing."
Some Cuban-Americans in the United States contend that the concert endorses the Communist-led government of Raul and Fidel Castro.

Juanes told police in Florida that someone sent him a message on Twitter that said, among other things, "I hate what you are saying but you will die for defending your right to say it."

A police report said that Juanes considered canceling the concert and cited "fears for his safety as well as his family."

Police say they are taking the threats seriously and are keeping a watch on the homes of Juanes and his business manager, Fernan Martinez Maecha. Both live in Key Biscayne, an exclusive island enclave near downtown Miami.

Promoters insist the Havana concert will have no ideological overtones despite being staged in the plaza, which has a six-story homage to revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara on the side of a building.

Others scheduled to perform are Cuban folk legend Silvio Rodriguez and Cuban salsa stars Los Van Van.

The Grammy-winning Juanes is known for his social activism. His first "Peace Without Borders" concert in March 2008 drew tens of thousands to the border between Venezuela and Colombia when tensions were high over a Colombian commando raid into neighboring Ecuador that killed a leading rebel commander.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Another chapter of "$$ Signs Dancing in their Heads"

The Associated Press
Friday, August 21, 2009; 2:10 PM

BELFAST, Maine -- A woman who alleged that Cuban officials caused the wrongful death of her father while on a [C.I.A.] covert mission in 1963 has won a $21 million default judgment against the island nation, but her prospects of collecting may be a long shot.

Sherry Sullivan, of Stockton Springs, is the daughter of Geoffrey Sullivan, a former member of the U.S. Air Force and Army National Guard who later became a certified commercial pilot. She believes he was shot down over Cuba, imprisoned and probably executed by the Cuban government.

-----

JG: Capitalists put a dollar sign on everyting and do not know the value of anything!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Obama slower than a turtle in reforming our failed Cuba policies

American bishops' visit aims to speed Cuba-U.S. thaw

Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:29pm EDT

By Esteban Israel

HAVANA (Reuters) - U.S. Catholic bishops think U.S. President Barack Obama needs to move more quickly to patch up long-bitter relations with Cuba and they hope to speed things up with a visit to the communist island this week.

A delegation led by Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley arrived in Cuba on Monday, where they will meet with church leaders.

They will also look over reconstruction work to repair damage caused by three hurricanes last year, said Father Andrew Small, director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Collection for the Church in Latin America.

But the main purpose of their five-day trip is to send a message to the White House that it must move more quickly to improve U.S.-Cuba relations.

"Isolation doesn't help change. There has to be greater contact. And the Obama administration has been, unfortunately, encouraging but painfully slow," Small said.

"We need some radical changes, particularly from the U.S. perspective," he told Reuters in the courtyard of a Havana church.

Cuba and the United States have been at odds since the 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro in power and eventually turned the island just 90 miles off the Florida coast into a communist state.

The political atmosphere has warmed under Obama, who has said he wants to "recast" U.S.-Cuban relations. He has taken small steps in that direction by slightly easing the 47-year-old U.S. trade embargo against the island.

But he has said further changes will depend on Cuba releasing political prisoners and making progress on human rights.

Cuba has said it is willing to discuss all issues, but that it will not make unilateral concessions to the U.S.

More...

Keep the public option in health care reform legislation

Author: John Wojcik

People's Weekly World Newspaper, 08/17/09 14:24

As President Obama continues his push for comprehensive health care reform and as reports emerge about “compromises” designed to win backing from Senate Blue Dog Democrats and Republicans, Health Care for America Now, a huge national coalition, and some unions have launched a new $650,000 television ad campaign targeting GOP leaders in the House and Senate and Republican members of Congress.

In support of a robust public option, the ad points out that while the Republicans take advantage of such a plan as members of Congress, they oppose giving the same benefit that would lower costs to both American consumers and small businesses. The ad blames their reluctance to back a public option on the millions of dollars in campaign contributions the lawmakers have taken from the health care industry.

The ad is running this week nationally and in the districts of Republican members of Congress who have spoken out against health care reform. The national version targets House Republican leader John Boehner, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, Senate Majority Leader Mitchell McConnell, and Senate Republican Whip John Kyl. The national ads are paid for by HCAN, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

“These Republicans on Capitol Hill are working for the insurance industry, not the American people,” said AFSCME International President Gerald McEntee. “They are putting profits ahead of people, and the voters need to know it. Congress has to make real reform happen – Americans can’t wait for reform that guarantees quality, affordable health care for all.”

The 1.6 million member AFSCME, one of the leading members of HCAN, represents public service workers in hundreds of different jobs across the country.

“It’s shameful that elected officials who, because of a public plan, don’t have to worry about being able to see a doctor when they get sick would stand in the way of making sure every family and every business in our country has the same guarantee of quality, affordable care,” said Richard Kirsch, national campaign manager for HCAN. “Is their opposition to health insurance reform motivated by the millions of dollars in campaign contributions they’ve taken from the health care industry?”

The stepped up efforts on behalf of a bill that includes a strong public option come in response to reports that pressure is on in the halls of government to craft a compromise that would replace the public option with either a proposal for a non-profit co-operative or a mechanism for creating a public option only after it becomes clear that other measures are leaving too many people still uninsured.

AP has reported that remarks by the president in Colorado Sunday where, after giving detailed reasons for his support for a public option, he described that option as only part of his health care reform agenda, as indicative of his willingness to sacrifice it for the sake of compromise. Other reports cite remarks by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius who described the public option as “not the essential element” of the administration’s healthcare agenda and remarks by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

Pressed on whether the administration was willing to compromise on the public option, Gibbs would only say that the president has thus far sided with the notion that choice and competition can best be achieved with a public option.

Former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean said this morning that he expected the House to pass a bill with a public option and the Senate to pass a bill, with 60 votes, that will not include a public option. He said that the two bills will then have to be reconciled and that if there is a strong enough push from people across the country combined with the fact that the final bill, under allowable “budget reconciliation procedures,” will need only a simple majority of 50 votes, “we will end up with the public option.”

There are some Blue Dogs in the Senate who, under this scenario, would be freed up to vote “no,” the thinking goes, to cover their so-called “right” flank without actually sabotaging passage of a bill with a public option.

Health care activists aren’t taking any chances on the ins and outs of the legislative process, however, and have called for a continued push for the public option during the closing weeks of August.

Dean said last week at a labor-backed “Netroots Nation” gathering in Pittsburgh that the only thing that made health reform legislation proposed by the House worth doing was the public option. “The public option is incremental reform,” Dean said, “but there is no incrementalism without the public option.”

Progressives in Congress are more determined than ever to push for the public option.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, said Sunday, “The only way we can be sure that very low-income people who work for companies that don’t offer insurance have access to it, is through an option that would give the private insurance companies a little competition.” The congresswoman, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, also worked in the past as the chief psychiatric nurse at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Dallas.

Kirsch notes that even if the public option weren’t part of the Obama reform plan, “the right would be screaming about a ‘government take-over’ as loudly as it is now.” He noted how, during the recent period, the right shifted its focus to “scare stories about government-backed euthanasia.”

“If scuttling the public option won’t quiet the right, it will definitely quiet the left,” Kirsch warned. “And that would be disastrous to the prospects of Democrats passing legislation this fall. Giving people an alternative to the private health insurance industry is the one issue that highly motivates progressives. Over and over again at Health Care for America Now, it is what our tens of thousands of activists – from grassroots community people to high-dollar Democratic donors – want to talk about. For them it has become the measure of whether health reform is about real change or just a cosmetic lift to a broken system.

“Responding to those same voices,” Kirsch added, “four Democratic committees in two houses of Congress have passed legislation that includes a public option, and the President has consistently reaffirmed his support.”

He compared the GOP strategy for health reform to insurance company strategy for paying big medical claims, “delay and deny,” and suggested that “maybe there’s another reason that Republicans in Congress are so focused on killing the public option. They think that if they succeed in killing the public option they’ll cause mass desertion from the progressive army that’s powering the President’s agenda for reform.”

------

JG: HEALTH CARE FOR ALL. PEOPLE BEFORE PROFITS!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chavez visits Fidel for his 83rd birthday

Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez said Friday he found his close ally and mentor Fidel Castro in good health during a visit to Cuba to celebrate the Cuban leader's 83rd birthday.

Chavez says they shared a cake. He says he also gave Castro Venezuelan products including chocolate and sardines, and two charcoal drawings: one of Venezuelan independence hero Francisco de Miranda, and a second of Cuban hero Jose Marti.

He said Castro "is in absolute use of his mental faculties."

"You know what the imperialists say," Chavez said. "Some say that Fidel is crazy. ... They create rumors."

Castro ceded power to his brother, Raul, after he fell ill three years ago and has not been seen in public since. He stepped down as president in February 2008.

Castro marked his 83rd birthday on Thursday out of the public eye but with an essay on the global economic crisis, climate change and immigration that headlined Cuban newspapers.

On Wednesday, Cuba unveiled what it says is a recent photograph of Castro, showing him looking healthier than in other pictures since he underwent emergency surgery.

Chavez said the two leaders talked for some five hours on Friday before he returned to Venezuela.

"Fidel is fine, he's in his prime," he said.

Friday, August 14, 2009

U.S. groups openly challenge the U.S. ban on travel to Cuba

Party for Socialism and Liberation

Friday, August 14, 2009
By: Frank Meade

Despite world economic crisis, socialist government continues to prioritize the most important necessities for the population
On Aug. 3, the Venceremos Brigade returned to the United States from Cuba, marking the 40th trip to the island nation without a license from the U.S. government. The brigade allows activists a unique chance to meet with the Cuban people—from Cuban officials to workers and students—to learn about life in Cuba, the problems created by the U.S. blockade and how the socialist government works.

This year, 144 activists participated in the trip demanding an immediate end to the illegal U.S. travel ban and criminal blockade, which seeks to strangle development on the island and force an imperialist counterrevolution.

Also on Aug. 3, the 20th U.S./Cuba Friendshipment Caravan, organized by IFCO/Pastors for Peace, returned to the United States after collecting 132 tons of humanitarian aid for delivery to the Cuban people and visiting Cuba for a nine-day program of education and fellowship.

Rev. Lucius Walker, founder and executive director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace, had the unusual opportunity on this trip to have extended meetings with both Cuban President Raul Castro and with ex-President Fidel Castro.

Difficulties continue to be imposed on the Cuban people, as many supplies are limited or unavailable because of the U.S.-imposed blockade. However, in true internationalist form, Cubans actively seek the friendship of the people of the United States in spite of the policies imposed by the U.S. government. They make a clear distinction between the people and the U.S. government.

It does not take long to notice that the socialist government in Cuba prioritizes the most important necessities for its population. Even with the hardships of the blockade, quality health care and education are accessible and free, housing is guaranteed, employment is a right and every Cuban receives an allotment of food staples.

While in Cuba, the brigade worked in urban gardens alongside Cuban farmers, helped with construction projects, visited health care clinics, attended cultural events and met with Cuban officials and entertainers. There was ample free time as well to explore various cities and get to know the local residents. The trip was well rounded and offered an extensive opportunity to experience Cuban life.

This year’s trip especially significant

This years’ travel challenge was especially significant as Cuba is celebrating its 50th anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution. We were visiting on July 26, one of Cuba’s major national holidays, and the date of the attack on the Moncada barracks by a group of young revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro in 1953. The attack failed but helped open the way for the triumph of the Revolution a few years later—a great achievement for the workers of Cuba.

However, this year’s celebrations were tempered by the new realities of further hardship as the world economic crisis is beginning to impact Cuba, exacerbating difficulties already caused by the blockade. Even though leaner times lay ahead, the spirit of revolution is evident as Cubans look for solutions determined to keep the socialist state alive and well.

This year marks a critical time for the end of the blockade and travel ban as identical legislation is being debated in both houses of Congress with bipartisan support. At the same time, President Obama has stated he will lift restrictions on travel and remittances for Cuban Americans. As Dagoberto Rodríguez of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained to us at the Julio Antonio Mella Internationalist Camp, (where we stayed in our second week) despite that promise, the Obama government has yet to even prepare those regulations.

The brigade serves to place additional pressure upon the U.S. government through active resistance to its inhumane policies. The invaluable experiences gained while in Cuba prepare activists to speak on the realities of the socialist state upon return home in the effort to combat the myths perpetrated by the U.S. government and espoused by the Cuban right-wing counterrevolutionaries in Miami.

With a changing climate in Washington, D.C., it is imperative as social justice activists to keep the pressure on U.S. politicians to finally end the barbaric blockade and support Cuba’s right of self-determination and sovereignty from U.S. imperialism. Now more than ever, we must stand united with the Cuban people and lobby our representatives to end the 47-year-old blockade imposed against Cuba.

Viva Cuba! Viva La Revolución! Viva Fidel! Viva Raúl! Venceremos!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Exhibit photo shows healthier looking Fidel Castro

By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ (AP)

HAVANA — Cuba has unveiled what it says is a recent photograph of ex-President Fidel Castro, showing him looking healthier than in other pictures since he underwent emergency surgery three years ago.

The photograph is the centerpiece of an exhibit that opened Wednesday dedicated to the former leader. Today is his 83rd birthday.

Curator Arturo Suarez said the large image of Castro was taken by his son, Alex Castro, who he said is a professional photographer. Wearing a blue baseball cap, a white sports jacket and black shirt, Fidel looks better than in other shots that have shown him looking gaunt since he gave up the presidency.

The close-up portrait was taken "very recently," Suarez said. He didn't give the date or other details.

"Life gave me the opportunity to take this photo and, I must say, I have some advantage because I can do it up close," Alex Castro told reporters.

"83 Motives" features 80 photos and three paintings of Fidel. Among them are Fidel in New York in 1955, with Pope John Paul II in Cuba in 1998, with fellow revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara in 1959 and with writer Ernest Hemingway in 1960. Others depict him scuba diving, canoeing in Venezuela and fixing a tire on a Jeep.

Castro stepped down as president in February 2008 and has not been seen in public for three years, though he has published dozens of essays in state newspapers.

He was expected to celebrate his birthday in private. No official celebrations were scheduled, but Cuban workers and other groups planned small celebrations.

------

JG: Happy Birthday Fidel!

U.S. capitalism is screwing Americans when delivering health care services

The statistics are very sad and eye opening. 48 million Americans do not have health care insurance. The U.S. spends 17% of GDP when delivering medical services. Millions are forced into bankruptcy every year because they can not afford the the high bills that the medical-industrial complex hands out to them.

Americans are being screwed left and right.

In the meantime, the Brigades of Fear of the Republican Party are invading town hall meetings using tactics that are reminiscent of Third Reich brown shirts. Intimidation, insults and threats are the main tactics that they are using in trying to put a stop to a much needed revamp and reform of our bankrupt health care system.

We have the highest costs of any industrialized nation when delivering health care to our citizens.

France, England, Canada and Cuba have excellent health care systems. The reason for that is that they have governments that truly care about the wellbeing of its citizens.

In the U.S., the barons of capitalism say every day: “Let them eat cake.” They could care less whether you live or die, as long as they are making tons of money off you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cuba concentrates on building an equitable system, while the western news media carps about toilet paper

Three very strong hurricanes which hit the Pearl of the Antilles, plus the worldwide economic crisis, which was created by the the excesses of neo-liberal capitalism (i.e. anything goes,) have done some damage in Cuba. What it has not been damaged is the desire of the Cuban people to continue to defend its national sovereignty and independence. The puppets of the U.S. empire will not return in the foreseeable future. No Roberto Micheletti in Cuba's future. It must be a very sad day at Langley and the Pentagon.

The capitalists still have not reconciled themselves to accepting that fact. So all they can do is write idiotic news media reports about a so-called toilet paper shortage in the island.

In Washington D.C., Barack and Hillary continue with their near-sighted support of the genocidal Cuban embargo, while the anti-Cuba blogs in Miami continue to indulge in their favorite pastime: comer mierda.

Fidel will celebrate his 83rd birthday on Thursday. He is admired throughout the world. The little David who defied the mighty empire is still going strong. The gusanos who danced in the streets of Miami on July 31, 2006 have confirmed what everybody knows: they are nothing but an inconsequential band of fools.

Stay the course, Cuba! Do not let foreigners tell you how to run the island.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Granma: Obama following the irrational policies of his predecessors

www.chinaview.cn

2009-08-08 13:14:04

HAVANA, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Cuban official daily Granma on Friday accused U.S. President Barack Obama of repeating the "irrational" Cuba policies of his predecessors.

Since Obama took office in January, the U.S. government has imposed sanctions worth more than 365,000 U.S. dollars against Cuba, said Granma in an article.

"This reaffirms the null will from the White House to eliminate an irrational policy, which is condemned by almost all the nations of the world," it said.

"The change announced by Barack Obama does not have much to do with the U.S.-Cuba ties ... as well as with the embargo that the U.S. administrations have kept (against Cuba)," said the article, describing the 47-year-old U.S. embargo against Cuba as a form of "genocide."

Since the victory of the Cuban revolution in 1959, the U.S. administrations have invariably adopted a hostile policy toward Cuba. The United States severed relations with Cuba in 1961 and has imposed economic blockade and restrictive measures on trade with Cuba since 1962.

Editor: Li Shuncheng

------

JG: his domestic policies are O.K., with the exception of his continuation of the wars of the military-industrial complex in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there is nothing audacious about his Cuba policies. With minimal changes, he has continued the bad policies of George W. Bush. Like his ten predecessors he is a captive of the Miami Cuban Mafia. Do not expect much from Obama when it comes to new Cuba policies. It will be more of the same crap.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The G.O.P.: The anti-Hispanic party

The Republican Party has confirmed what everyone suspects: they have become a fringe political party, and as such are on their way to becoming extinct.

Eight courageous Republican U.S. senators defied their party and voted to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor. It was a historical occasion. She was very well qualified to ascend to the Supreme Court. She becomes the first Hispanic judge in the highest court of the United States.

Led by fanatical hate-mongers like idiot Limbaugh and Newt Gingrigh, the republican party is becoming the party that hates just about everyone. The three "G's" of God, Guns and Gays are their platform. An extremely ideological and anti-secular crowd now directs the national affairs of the Party of Abraham Lincoln.

What a shame. The hate fanatics and the obstructionists rule the G.O.P. today. They have nothing positive to offer to the U.S.A.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Courageous citizens defy US travel ban

WIVB

More than 100 people return to US via Peace Bridge

Updated: Monday, 03 Aug 2009, 8:45 AM EDT
Published : Monday, 03 Aug 2009, 8:45 AM EDT

* Kelly Hayes
* Posted by: Emily Lenihan

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - More than 100 courageous US citizens who have defied the country's ban on travel to Cuba will be returning home via the Peace Bridge.

About 140 Americans will be returning from Cuba Monday morning.

This is the 40th anniversary of contingent of the Venceremos Brigade to Cuba.

Members of the group, say they have the right to travel to Cuba and want to see the ban dropped.

With Honduras, with all of Latin America -- sign the statement

July 31, 2009 -- We, the undersigned social, political and solidarity organisations, faced with the ongoing coup d’état in Honduras and the imperialist project of installing military bases in Colombia whose objective is to throttle the hope for liberty and emancipation across the Latin American continent,

Declare:

1. Our complete support for the immediate and unrestricted return of President Manuel Zelaya and the restitution of constitutional order, without conditions, to Honduras. Furthermore, we demand the punishment of those responsible for the coup d’état and the recognition of people’s sovereignty to freely decide their future, through referendum, consultation or any other means of participative democracy.

2. We denounce the cynicism shown by the US government and its satellites in the Organisation of America States, with an attitude which speaks of the recognition of the constitutionality of Zelaya’s Presidency at the same time as they reach agreements and hold conversations with the organisers of the coup, and carry out all types of delaying tactics with the objective of demobilising the impressive resistance movement which has been awakened in the interior of Honduras, coordinated in the National Resistance Front against the Coup.

3. We consider that all this is part of a planned offensive by North American imperialism and the transnationals, against the countries of the Alba (Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas) and all the progressive forces in Latin America in order to preserve their hegemony, their free trade agreements and their interests in privatisation and the exploitation of natural resources.

4. We reject the suspiciously coordinated campaign of false accusations and lies against the Ecuadorian and Venezuelan governments, originating in the USA — the world’s biggest drug consumer — and Colombia: the biggest producer, thanks to its government, headed by narcopresident Uribe. The leading figures in the international drugs trade have the nerve to talk of the failure of the anti drugs policy in Venezuela. All of this is aimed at justifying the US military presence in the zone, with “Plan Colombia”.

5. We alert public opinion about the seriousness of Colombia becoming the biggest aircraft carrier in history, with the installation of up to seven North American bases, an undisguised threat to the sovereignty of all Latin American countries. It represents a very grave step towards the internationalisation Colombia’s internal conflict and carries the risk of destabilising the whole region, with a provocation of unforeseeable consequences.

6. We denounce all the media multinationals, from CNN to the Spanish Prisa group, and the whole network of channels, newspapers and radio stations which belong to the local oligarchies, with their “cartel”, the Inter American Press Association, which combine disinformation with lies, in order to create a virtual reality in world public opinion, as a foundation for developing military offensives.

7. We express our commitment to organising all types of solidarity action, as of today and in the most coordinated way possible, to respond robustly to any type of aggression.

Against the oligarchies, the fascist coup in Honduras and the imperialist threat in all of Latin America

SIGN THE STATEMENT

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Castro to U.S.: communist Cuba will not change

Sat Aug 1, 2009 11:03 pm EDT

By Jeff Franks

HAVANA (Reuters) - President Raul Castro said on Saturday he would not change Cuba's communist system to make peace with the United States, but repeated his willingness to discuss all issues with the island's longtime enemy.

In a speech to the Cuban National Assembly, [of People's Power] Castro acknowledged the United States under President Barack Obama was less "aggressive" toward Cuba, but he expressed irritation with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for saying repeatedly that Washington expected Havana to make changes in exchange for better relations.

"I have to say, with all due respect to Mrs. Clinton ... they didn't elect me president to restore capitalism in Cuba, nor to hand over the revolution," said Castro, who succeeded his brother Fidel Castro as president last year.

"I was elected to defend, maintain and continue perfecting socialism, not destroy it," he added, prompting a long standing ovation from assembly members.

"We are ready to talk about everything, but ... not to negotiate our political and social system," he said.

More...

------

JG: Very well said!

Hillary Clinton is the Rasputin of the Obama administration. Beware Cuba! Do not trust her. She is an evil person.

Zionists continue to steal Palestinian lands and property

August 2, 2009 - Associated Press

JERUSALEM – Israeli police evicted two Palestinian families in east Jerusalem on Sunday, then allowed Jewish settlers to move into their homes, drawing criticism from Palestinians, the United Nations and the State Department.

More...

JG: Both the Bush and Obama administrations are in the pockets of the Israeli Zionists, and they have received copious amounts of money from AIPAC which is very similar to CANF. The U.S. State Department is not going to complain. Hillary is a faithful servant and does the bidding of New York Jews.

What the Israeli Zionists are doing in Jerusalem and in the West Bank is very similar to what Uncle Sam did with the lands of Native Americans in the West, and sovereign lands of Mexico in the Southwest in the IXX century. They stole it with the barrel of a rifle, committing countless atrocities like the massacre at Wounded Knee . Uncle Sam is a very good teacher when it comes to stealing other people's lands. Bush did it in Iraq, and Obama wants to do it in Afghanistan.

Beware Cuba. This is what the Yankee imperialists want to do with our beautiful island. Do not trust the Yankees in so called "negotiations".

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Obama's ambassador in Honduras: an ultra right winger Cuban-American from Miami

“Dime con quien andas y te diré quien eres” or “tell me what company you keep and I will tell you who you are,” goes the old adage.

Since his accession to the United States presidency, Barack Obama has veered sharply to the rigtht. His Cuba policies continue to be the same as George W. Bush's. He panders to the gusanos in Miami, like many of his presidential predecessors in both of the major capitalist parties.

Since the Honduras military coup d'etat he has kept his ambassador in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, who is a right wing alumni of the infamous joint operation of the CIA and the Catholic Church in Cuba, Operation Peter Pan. Hugo Llorens is part of the vociferous anti-Cuba crowd who reside in the cesspool of the U.S. That will explain in part why the United States is supporting the coup in Honduras. His pronouncements about "democracy" and “constitutionality” in Honduras are for the consumption of the gullible sheep.

Cuba's Granma, under the byline of Jean Guy Allard, has published an article which has the whole pedigree of Hugo Llorens.

In the meantime, Barack Obama, who most likely will become a millionaire while he is in the White House, keeps on sending letters to his previous supporters asking for more “campaign contributions.”

Fool me one, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

“Te conozco mascarita.”