Friday, December 30, 2011

¡Cuba Va!

Ver: Con mis compatriotas ¡Cuba va!

Emisión postal por 80 años del debut de Alicia Alonso


Mesa Redonda

30 Diciembre 2011

La prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso y Silvia Munarriz, viceministra de la Informática y las Comunicaciones, cancelaron hoy, en esta capital, un sello postal por el aniversario 80 del debut escénico de la legendaria bailarina cubana.

En la sede del Teatro Amadeo Roldán, otrora Teatro Auditórium, tuvo lugar este suceso filatélico, justo cuando se cumplen los 80 años de que Alicia bailó por primera vez, en ese propio lugar, en una función de la Escuela de Ballet de la Sociedad Pro-Arte Musical.

El Grand vals de La bella durmiente del bosque, fue la obra inaugural interpretada, con solo 11 años, por la también directora del Ballet Nacional de Cuba en 1931.

Al término de la ceremonia Alicia expresó su satisfacción por la recordación de esta efeméride y destacó que sus triunfos y el de la compañía se deben también al esfuerzo de los bailarines, ma tres, ensayadores y trabajadores en general, muchos de ellos presentes en la cancelación.

Silvia Munarriz, precisó que era un privilegio para el ministerio que ella representa hacer esa emisión postal en fecha tan significativa, además de tratarse de una figura de talla universal como lo es Alicia Alonso.

Añadió que esta era una oportunidad única de honrar a la excelsa bailarina, quien tanta gloria le ha dado a Cuba, mientras continúa aumentando así la colección filatélica sobre la artista.

Esta cancelación es la antesala de la gala homenaje que tendrá lugar, esta noche, en la sala García Lorca del Gran Teatro de la Habana, con un programa de obras coreográficas de Alicia, que comenzará con el Grand vals del primer acto de La bella durmiente del bosque.

Proseguirá con el Grand pas de quatre, interpretado por Viengsay Valdés, Sadaise Arencibia, Anette Delgado y Yanela Piñera y le siguen Pretextos y Preciosa y el aire, este último protagonizado por Irene Rodríguez, como artista invitada, y Alejandro Silva.

La función continuará con A la caída de la tarde, a cargo del cuerpo de baile, y Diálogo a cuatro, por Dayesi Torrientes, Arianni Martín, Luis Valle y Arián Molina.

Anette Delgado y Dani Hernández centralizarán el Grand pas de La flauta mágica y por último, será interpretado el final del ballet Sinfonía de Gottschalk.

(Con información de la AIN)

The Privatization of U.S. Foreign Policy

The American imperialists have come up with a new twist when they are trying to subvert the internal affairs of a country they dislike.

The Cuba case is a very good example. The dislike of the imperialists has been transmorphed into regular vanilla flavor of hate.

The imperialists always think that the rest of the world is stupid and that they can hide their never-ending policies of greed and rapaciousness’ by coining new terminology.

The covert agents of the American empire are no longer called “assets” or “spooks.” Hillary and Obama now call them contractors.

Allan Gross was fooled by the Washington D.C. dynamic duo into believing this new word that they minted recently, in an effort to curry favor with corporate CEO’s, who apparently are now in charge of directing U.S. foreign policy, in exchange for 12 gold coins.

Gross deserves the 15 years that he got for allowing himself to be used by the smelly pair of the Potomac.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cuba: Surreal, Beautiful, Affordable for Visitors

Vintage American car rolls
past Cuba's former Capital Dome in Havana

www.mlive.com

Published: Thursday, December 29, 2011, 8:10 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 29, 2011, 1:18 PM

By Michael Patrick Shiels


HAVANA, Cuba -- It wasn’t just the plate of caballo – roasted horse – sitting in front of me at El Patio, an open-air restaurant in Havana’s Plaza de La Cathedral that made the night in Cuba surreal.

It was also the sight of the dramatic moonlight illuminating the crumbling Catedral San Cristobal -- completed in 1777 and purported to, at one time, house the casket of Christopher Columbus – and the sound of the five classical musicians playing in the square.

During a visit in early December, I discovered that beauty is abundant in this forbidden fiefdom left behind by time and politics.

Havana is by no means a foodie destination, but I washed down the horse, (salty and served with beans, rice and plantains) with decent wine in an elegant atmosphere at a price tourists could easily afford but Cuban citizens could only dream of.

I spoke with a young woman, a mother of one, who is employed in the communist system at a ration distribution center by day and works the streets by night. There are two classes of people here. The government caters to the tourists, but doesn’t care about us,” she said. When I asked her if that bothered her, she answered, in Spanish, “How could it not?”

She mentioned that some of her friends would soon set sail in an escape attempt for the freedom of Florida by boat, so I inquired as to whether she planned to go, too? “No, no,” she said wide-eyed, making a biting motion with her fingernails. “Tiburon (trans: shark) chomp chomp!”

Despite the frequent “passing the hat” by musicians in every restaurant, I never felt endangered or menaced as a tourist on the streets of Old Havana. My colleague, Jason Pater, of Grand Rapids, speaks fluent Spanish and served as a capable translator, often abbreviating my attempts with the line: “Mi amigo no sabe lo que esta hablando, su corazon es bueno, dejalo en Paz,” which he told me meant “My friend doesn't know what he is saying. His heart is good. Leave him in peace.”

Cuban government penalties for disturbing visitors are severe, since tourism dollars account for 70 percent of the failing economy. Rather than displaying resentment, Cubans on the street seemed delighted to meet the rare “Americano” since, due to the U.S. trade embargo, “Yankees” without special permission are forbidden to visit Cuba or “trade with the enemy.”

It is that half-century-long embargo that Manuel Yepe Menendez, dictator Fidel Castro’s now retired protocol chief, blames, rather than their socialist system, for the island’s state of physical and economic disrepair. Menendez, 75, was an original participant in the 1958 Cuban Revolution and served as a close ally to the Castro bothers and Che Guevara. He is one of the people authorized by the Cuban Government to meet with U.S. visitors.

“Is there anything at all about our American ideals or activities that you do admire or at least appreciate?” I asked Menendez during a long (guided) drive to a tobacco farm in the countryside. After pondering my question for a moment, he answered, “Your movies. We love your movies.”

But don’t try to find a copy of Entertainment Weekly, or any newspaper or magazine while walking the cobblestone streets. In a land that reveres American correspondent Ernest Hemingway, (his home Finca La Vigia, overlooking Havana, is a museum, while his favorite bar, the daiquiri-inventing Floridita, boasts a life-sized statue of “Papa”), newsstands are filled with only government history books about Chez Guevara, Jose Marti and Castro.

The daily newspaper, Granma International, prints slanted propaganda stories. One local equated Granma to toilet paper -- also a luxury in Cuba. Someone outside the bathroom door will sell you a few sheets of tissue on your way in, and public toilets do not have seats.

It was also surreal to tour the Museum of the Revolution and quietly witness a ceremony during which a Cuban general presented an award to a citizen while the attendees, standing in perfect lines, shouted “Viva Fidel!” The museum featured, among other anti-U.S. exhibits, a replica of the missile the Castro regime used to shoot down an American U2 spy plane next to the burned wreckage of the aircraft.

Still operating in Havana, though, are the American vintage cars: countless Buick, Oldsmobile, Chevy, Cadillac, Hudson, DeSoto and even Edsel tail-fined beauties rolling through the streets, many touched up with house paint, and dating back to the 1920’s!

Before I boarded the flight back to Toronto, I sampled late-night cocktails at The Nacional Hotel. A torpedo-sized Montecristo or Cohiba Cuban cigar, $35 anywhere else and illegal in the U.S., is $5 in Havana -- very affordable, for touristas, that is.

Michael Patrick Shiels may be contacted at TravelTattler.com

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JG: despite some idiotic comments by this Anglo author, the vast majority of the Cuban people support their government, because it is a vast improvement over the dog-eat-dog capitalism of former Yankee puppet, General Fulgencio Batista. The islanders have a deep love and respect for both Fidel and Raul. Che is a God in the island.

Piden Senadores Indagar Acciones Anticubanas en México de Grupos Subvencionados por Estados Unidos

Este país no puede convertirse en “instrumento de ataques” contra otra nación.

Periódico La Jornada, Mexico

Víctor Ballinas

Miércoles 28 de diciembre de 2011, p. 13


Senadores de PRI, PRD y PT manifestaron que es urgente que el Congreso de la Unión o, en su receso, la Comisión Permanente, soliciten una investigación sobre las acciones anticubanas que desarrollan en México fundaciones y organizaciones civiles extranjeras que son subvencionadas por la Agencia de Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo Internacional (USAID).

El perredista Carlos Sotelo, secretario de la comisión de Relaciones Exteriores América Latina y el Caribe, dijo que él asume el compromiso de llevar el tema a la comisión de la que forma parte para “evaluarlo y “si procede pedir una investigación. Es el Senado de la República, por sus facultades en materia de política exterior, el que debe evaluar la situación”.

Sin duda, abundó el senador del PRD, hay que fortalecer el régimen de libertades, de opinión y de difundir posiciones políticas y puntos de vista sobre lo que acontece en el país y en el mundo, pero de eso “a que nuestro país sea sede de ofensivas para debilitar y en un extremo derrocar a un gobierno legalmente constituido, con el cual México tiene relaciones diplomáticas, incluso de carácter histórico, es mucha la diferencia. Esto amerita que lo trate el Congreso y en particular el Senado”.

Por su parte, el senador priísta Carlos Jiménez Macías subrayó: “Esos hechos no son los primeros, sino que se suman a la larga lista de actividades anticuba, que se producen no sólo en el ámbito de los grupos radicales en contra de la Cuba actual desde Estados Unidos, Miami o Florida, sino también ahora en tierras de América Latina”.

“Buscan desprestigiar a la isla”

En entrevista por separado, Jiménez Macías coincidió con el senador Sotelo en que si bien que “hay libertad para que la gente se exprese, opine y difunda sus puntos de vista sobre el régimen cubano, no podemos cerrar los ojos frente a la forma en que organismos que sabemos muy bien están subvencionados por el gobierno estadunidense y están buscando precisamente desprestigiar, generan una opinión contra el gobierno de la isla y buscan desestabilizarlo”.

El priísta advirtió: “Debemos ser muy cuidadosos y estar muy alertas de que bajo el manto de la libertad de expresión y de la posibilidad que tienen las organizaciones no gubernamentales, las fundaciones, las asociaciones de reunirse y hacer juicios, que detrás de ello no haya la intención de generar una imagen contraria del pueblo cubano y sobre todo que emprendan acciones que busquen desestabilizar su gobierno; eso hay que rechazarlo”.

Jiménez Macías aseveró: “El gobierno de México debe estar muy atento y mantener su posición de respeto absoluto a la soberanía y al régimen cubanos. Es muy importante que se sepa de fondo qué hay atrás de las organizaciones que el pasado 5 de diciembre se reunieron en la ciudad de México, y en la que participaron organizaciones de Miami subsidiadas con fondos del gobierno de Estados Unidos, conocidas por su política anticastrista.

“El gobierno mexicano, en todo caso, debe dejar muy claro que no auspicia ni financia actividades de este tipo y en todo caso debe hacerlos responsables de los contenidos que ahí se difundieron, pues todos conocemos el papel de las ONG y fundaciones internacionales. Sabemos cuáles son sus tendencias: las hay progresistas, conservadoras, de derecha, de ultraderecha, de izquierda. Algunas son bien conocidas por su franca intervención contra los gobiernos. Lo hemos visto en América Latina. Hay que ser cuidadosos”.

Ricardo Monreal, coordina- dor de los senadores del PT, resaltó el artículo de Carlos Fazio, titulado “La USAID, México, y la subversión en Cuba” (La Jornada, 26/12/11), y señaló que es una llamada oportuna para que la Comisión Permanente se pronuncie sobre este tipo de reuniones con la participación de organizaciones radicales y anticastristas financiadas por Estados Unidos, y con la participación de organizaciones de derecha de México. El país no puede convertirse en un instrumento de ataque a ninguna nación”, dijo.

Desde hace tiempo, “ONG identificadas con la extrema derecha y con grupos anticastristas anticubanos trabajan para que México sea un instrumento de ataque a Cuba. Es muy lamentable que el gobierno lo permita o sea omiso. El Senado debe pedir una investigación y el gobierno mexicano debe deslindarse de auspiciar ese tipo de reuniones en las que se trabaja para desestabilizar a la isla”.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ron Paul: Lift Cuba Embargo, Boost U.S. Economy



I am a registered Independent, so I can not vote in the Republican Presidential Preference Primary, but I am considering registering temporarily that way, so I can express my repudiation of Barack Obama, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, who are Capitalist Establishment Candidates, who are pledged to continue this 50 year monumental failure.

END THE CUBA EMBARGO!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Former U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Lead Investigator: Time to Clean Up U.S. Regime-Change Programs in Cuba

BY FULTON ARMSTRONG

Posted on Sunday, 12.25.11


When a covert action run by the CIA goes bad and a clandestine officer gets arrested, the U.S. government works up a strategy for negotiating his release. When a covert operator working for USAID gets arrested, Washington turns up the rhetoric, throws more money at the compromised program, and refuses to talk.

For three years, I was the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s lead investigator into the political operations of the State Department and USAID in Cuba and elsewhere in Latin America. The Cuba programs — designed to identify, organize, train and mobilize Cubans to demand political change — have an especially problematic heritage, including embezzlement, mismanagement, and systemic politicization. Some program successes costing millions of taxpayer dollars, such as the creation of a network of “independent libraries,” were grossly exaggerated or fabricated.

Complete Article

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JG: It is a well known fact that the sitting U.S. President uses USAID funds to channel taxpayer money to their political cronies. Dubbya and Obama have both done it.

It’s Not Just CEOs. Lawmakers Are the 1%, Too

by Mike Hall, Dec 27, 2011

Every wonder why it’s so hard to get a millionaires’ tax passed?

We all know that the gap between the 1 percent and the rest us has grown to obscene proportions. Their wealth has soared while ours has stagnated or fallen over the past decade and more.

We picture Wall Street stockbrokers, bankers and CEOs as the top winners in our out of whack economy. But new figures from the University of Michigan and the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) show that members of Congress—where 250 lawmakers are millionaires—are doing better than anybody.

More...

http://twitpic.com/7zfu7n

http://twitpic.com/7zfu7n

Scarabeo 9 Arrives in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago News

By CLINT CHAN TACK Tuesday, December 27 2011

CUBAN oil rig Scarabeo 9 has arrived in Trinidad and Tobago, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine confirmed yesterday adding that he was advised by officials from Spanish energy company Repsol YPF that Scarabeo 9 arrived on Christmas Eve and the rig is currently located off the coast of Chaguaramas and is expected to remain there for a two week period for inspection. Repsol is the client of the rig.

More than 2,500 Freed in Cuba Amnesty

Chicago Tribune

Rosa Tania Valdes

Reuters

12:18 p.m. CST, December 27, 2011


HAVANA (Reuters) - More than 2,500 Cuban prisoners have been released in recent days under a New Year's amnesty announced before a visit next spring by Pope Benedict XVI, a local human rights group said on Tuesday.

Cuban President Raul Castro said last Friday that the ruling Council of State had granted amnesty to more than 2,900 common prisoners.

Castro said the amnesty was a "humanitarian gesture" and had also "taken into account" an upcoming papal visit and requests by, among others, top Roman Catholic Church officials in Cuba and relatives of the prisoners.

"We estimate that more than 2,500 prisoners have been released in all the provinces, and the process continues," Elizardo Sanchez, head of the independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights, told Reuters.

The government and official media have not commented on the releases.

Cuban President Raul Castro said on Friday the amnesty covered people more than 60 years of age, prisoners who are ill, women and some young prisoners who had no previous criminal history, as well as a few prisoners who had been convicted for crimes against "the security of the state."

The Cuban president said 86 foreigners from 25 countries convicted of committing crimes in Cuba were also on the amnesty list.

A number of Western diplomats said on Tuesday they were waiting to be contacted by Cuban authorities about their nationals in Cuban jails.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Peace on the Florida Strait and Goodwill To All Men

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas on Sunday, let us pledge ourselves to support policies that will nurture and grow Peace between the people of the United States and the people of Cuba.

YES WE CAN!

Monday, December 19, 2011

U.S. Maintained Historic Policy of Aggression Against Cuba in 2011


Por Jorge V. Jaime *

Havana (Prensa Latina) The legislative and institutional aggressions of the United States against Cuba actually increased in the course of 2011, despite the relative flexibilities of the blockade decreed by U.S. President Barack Obama at the beginning of the year.

The attacks and attempts to thwart the projects of firms belonging to the government and Cubans were led mainly by congress people linked to the Cuban-American extreme right wing, mainly in the cities of Miami and New Jersey.

In general, Washington's historic hostile behavior against Cuba was maintained without significant changes, although, for the twentieth consecutive year, the United Nations General Assembly in October again condemned the blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba half a century ago.

In the presence of Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, the world forum voted in favor of another resolution on "the Necessity to End the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade," with only two votes against and 186 in favor.

Nevertheless, two days after the historic vote in New York, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, head of the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, openly asked U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to take more forceful actions against the government of Havana.

During a congressional hearing, the ultraconservative Lehtinen criticized Clinton because of what she called Washington´s "double standard," for using force to remove leaders like Muammar Gadaffi, while it abstains from similar actions against Cuba.

Lehthinen's provocative statements were added to others throughout the year with the same tone, spread by congress people from the group of politicians considered as anti-Cuban reactionaries: Marco Rubio, Mario Díaz-Balart, Bob Menendez, David Rivera, Bob Graham and Bill Nelson, among others.

In that same sense, Congressman Diaz-Balart, from the Republican Party of Florida, argued that U.S. President Barack Obama's policy on Cuba has been counter-productive, since the Cuban government has interpreted it as a sign of weakness.

"Obama´s concessions have been seen as a sign of weakness by the White House and are another demonstration of how wrong the U.S. administration's policies regarding Havana really are," said the congressman of Cuban origin.

In January 2011, by virtue of a resolution by the U.S. President, some regulations related to Washington´s blockade against Cuba were relaxed, but important restrictions against Cuba remained in force.

The minor changes signed by the White House only allow trips for academic, religious, cultural or sports events that comply with certain regulations, and especially with a policy Obama has called "promotion of person-to-person contact."

The U.S. Department of Treasury warned that the flexibilization of educational and cultural trips by U.S. citizens cannot be interpreted as the promotion of tourism to Cuba.

The Office for Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) decided to clear up what it called "mistaken interpretations appearing in some media," which had talked about an alledged broad opening of trips to Cuba.

Indeed, this very month, the OFAC and the Department of Treasury sanctioned another foreign bank for trading with Cuba in the context of the economic blockade maintained by the U.S. government for more than 50 years, despite international protests against this extra-territorial measure.

The OFAC reported that a New York branch of the German Commerzbank was fined 175,000 dollars, for carrying out transactions violating the U.S.-imposed financial blockade against Cuba.

Before Commerzbank, in this same year, JP Morgan Chase had to pay a fine of 88.3 million dollars for alledged transgressions against the regulations of the White House for dealings with Cuba.

Also, the U.S. branch of CMA-CGM, the world´s third biggest shipping company, was fined 374,400 dollars for transporting goods from Cuba.

In tune with Ros-Lehtinen´s incitements against Cuba, another congressman from the ultra-right wing, David Rivera, orchestrated attempts to revoke the relaxation of the restrictions on trips to the Caribbean island.

Rivera, a Republican from south Florida, presented an amendment that was approved by 36 votes in favor and 6 against in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

This proposal was very similar to the one presented by Diaz-Balart, which was added to a Department of Treasury bill and was certified by a committee of the U.S. Senate.

Both Rivera´s and Diaz-Balart´s amendments would restore the drastic prohibitions to travel to Cuba that were in force during the George W. Bush administration.

While the U.S. government increases its hostility towards Cuba, U.S. non-governmental organizations are sponsoring initiatives in favor of the Cuban people, and are denouncing the absurd laws ratified by different U.S. administrations.

A recent example of this was the Conference of Washington. This forum, convened against the U.S. government´s inclusion of Cuba in the list of countries fostering terrorism, was a success and gathered renowned academics in defense of Cuba.

"It was very important that academic and civil society sectors with certain voice and influence in the U.S. political system declared the unfairness of the measure," commented Carlos Alzugaray, a professor at the University of Havana.

In a telephone conversation with Prensa Latina from the venue of the event, this political scientist and an expert in the United States, said that the seminar allowed establishing dialogue emphasizing that subject in the very center of power of the country.

"We agreed that there is no reason to maintain Cuba on that list, which in fact is arbitrary, because the first thing we should discuss is Washington's right to create a registry of alleged terrorist states," emphasized Alzugaray. The United States included Cuba in the controversial list in 1982, at the request of then Secretary of State Alexander Haig and by a resolution certified by then President Ronald Reagan.

The NGOs Latin America Working Group and the Center for International Policy sponsored the pro-Cuban meeting at the National Press Club, in Washington D.C.

Among the distinguished lecturers were the university professor Arturo Lopez-Levy, of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies in the University of Denver; Wayne Smith, a former U.S. diplomatic representative in Cuba, and Sarah Stephens, from the Center for Democracy, among others.

The Washington-imposed blockade of Cuba has caused direct economic damage estimated at almost 975 billion dollars and, according to some experts, the amount would be higher if the calculation were made taking into account the inflation of U.S. retail prices.

Cuba reasserted this year its traditional position to maintain respectful dialogue with the government of the United States.

Such dialogue must be developed on the basis of fairness, equality and reciprocity," said the director of the North America Department at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Josefina Vidal.

Obama has the historic opportunity to change relations with Cuba. There is an international demand for the White House to make that decision, turn the page and change this relationship of 50 years that does not respond to the interests of the U.S. or Cuban people, said the Cuban official.

* Head of the North American Desk at Prensa Latina.

Modificado el (domingo, 18 de diciembre de 2011)

Hate-Monger and fake-exile U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is at it, AGAIN!

The Hill

Rubio to resume holds on two western hemisphere nominees over Cuba

By Pete Kasperowicz - 12/19/11 09:17 AM ET


Freshman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Saturday that he would block the nomination of two of the Obama administration's western hemisphere nominees, because the State Department has failed to answer his questions about Cuba travel policy.

Rubio said on the Senate floor Saturday that he asked State to look into two "people to people" travel itineraries from a company out of New York. Rubio said that rather than fostering democratic change in Cuba, these trips appear to just be tourism. "The reason why this is problematic is because it gives money to the Castro government," he said.

Rubio said State's reply to Rubio on Saturday was essentially a non-answer.

"Then I got this letter today that, to summarize, basically says: Thank you for your letter, but we can't talk to you about it," Rubio said. "That is not what I expected to get, and so we are going to hold those nominations again until we take this seriously.

"This is a problem," he added. "We have these companies in America that are advertising tourism to Cuba — tourism that is not just a source of irritation, it is a source of hard currency."

Rubio's office said that the two nominations he would hold are those of Roberta Jacobson to be Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, and Adam Namm to be Ambassador to Ecuador.

Cuban Americans like Rubio have long argued that allowing travel to Cuba allows Americans to bring hard dollars to the island, which the Cuban government can then harvest by forcing Cuban residents to buy goods in dollar stores.

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JG: I am Cuban-American and did not vote for this piece of SCUM from Miami!

The Gardens of the Queen


60 Minutes

(CBS News)

60 Minutes cameras take you on an underwater adventure off the Cuban coast to one of the world's most pristine and vibrant coral reefs, known as the Gardens of the Queen. Anderson Cooper scuba dives with marine biologist David Guggenheim, dodging giant groupers and sharks, to explore this increasingly rare oasis.

Scientists estimate that 25 percent of the world's reefs have died off and much of what's left is at risk.

The following is a script of "The Gardens of the Queen" which aired on Dec. 18, 2011. Anderson Cooper is the correspondent. Andy Court and Anya Bourg, producers.

Coral reefs are often called "the rainforests of the ocean." They're not just biologically diverse and stunningly beautiful, they're a source of food and income for nearly a billion people. They're also in danger. Scientists estimate that 25 percent of the world's reefs have died off and much of what's left is at risk. There is, however, one spot in the Caribbean that marine biologists describe as a kind of "under-water Eden," a coral reef largely untouched by man. It's called the Gardens of the Queen, and getting permission to go there isn't easy. It's located off the coast of Cuba, and as you might have already guessed, there are no direct flights.

Our first stop was Havana, Cuba's crumbling capitol where music fills the air, old cars seem to run forever and the only ads you see are for the revolution. From there, we drove for six hours through the countryside and then took a boat for six hours more until we got to a stretch of tiny islands, 50 miles off Cuba's southern coast. The islands are little more than patches of mangroves and small spits of sand. The only inhabitants who greeted us: hermit crabs and iguanas. They seemed indifferent to our arrival.

It was Christopher Columbus who named this area the Gardens of the Queen after his Queen Isabella, but the real gardens he probably never even got a glimpse of...to see them, you have to go underwater.

David Guggenheim: This is really the most incredibly well protected and flourishing reef I've ever seen.

We went diving with David Guggenheim, an American marine biologist and a senior fellow at the Ocean Foundation in Washington, D.C.

David: The corals are healthy. The fish are healthy and abundant. There are predators here, large sharks. It's the way these ecosystems really should look.

Anderson Cooper: You're saying this is like a time capsule, almost?

Guggenheim: It's a living time machine. And it's a really incredible opportunity to learn from.

We brought special scuba masks with us so we could talk underwater. Every time we went diving we could see sharks circling our boat before we even went in. David said they wouldn't bother us and we certainly hoped he was right.

The first thing you notice in this underwater Eden is the coral. It's color, it's texture. Coral isn't a rock or a plant. It's colonies of tiny animals that share a common skeleton. This is a large and relatively rare specimen of pillar coral. Those hair-like things are the tentacles of thousands of individual animals that are plucking microscopic plankton from the water. Coral is one of the oldest living animals on the planet. Some of it is said to be 4,000 years old, older than the tallest redwood.

What makes coral reefs so important is that they host an extraordinary variety of fish. Some come here for shelter from predators. Others come here to eat.

Cooper: I've been diving in many places all over the world and I've never seen so many large fish. Like this grouper here. There's about six or seven Caribbean reef sharks like this circling around right now. Scientists will tell you the presence of so many sharks and different species of sharks, is a sign of a very healthy reef.

Guggenheim: When we call coral reefs the rainforests of the ocean, we're talking about the diversity of life that lives on these reefs. The relationships among these animals, the fact that the corals create a home for the fish, that they're little fish that feed big fish, that some of these little shrimp walk inside the mouths of the grouper and clean parasites off of the grouper. It's a very complex web of life.

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JG: Do not miss the excellent video that 60 Minutes provided yesterday. Click on 60 Minutes at the beginning of this post.

The original article has the complete script.

Fin del “capitalismo”


David Brooks

Menos y menos de los que contribuyeron al éxito de nuestra economía… se beneficiaron de ese éxito. Aquellos en la punta de la cima se volvieron más ricos que nunca con sus ingresos e inversiones. Pero todos los demás batallaron con los costos que crecían mientras las quincenas no, y demasiadas familias acumularon más y más deuda… Esto no se trata de lucha de clases. Esto se trata del bienestar del país.”

Estas palabras que se escucharon por todo el país no provenían del movimiento Ocupa Wall Street y sus simpatizantes. No eran de un economista progresista, ni de uno de esos intelectuales que han insistido en que la desigualdad económica destruye el modelo económico. “Este país sólo prospera cuando todos tienen una oportunidad, cuando todos ponen su parte y cuando todos juegan bajo las mismas reglas… Lo que está en juego es si éste será un país donde la gente trabajadora puede ganar lo suficiente para mantener una familia, construir un ahorro modesto, ser dueño de un hogar y asegurar su jubilación”, subrayó el vocero de este nuevo mensaje "populista" en el sentido estadunidense: en defensa del hombre común ante los poderosos.

El orador fue el presidente Barack Obama. El discurso ofrecido a mediados de la semana pasada fue considerado como un giro "populista" con vistas a la relección del presidente en 2012. Analistas y editorialistas afirmaron que el discurso fue notable por su enfoque sobre la desigualdad como el gran tema del momento. Pero tal vez lo más notable fue que el discurso comprobó el extraordinario logro de Ocupa Wall Street en cambiar la "narrativa" nacional. En poco más de dos meses, el enfoque oficial ha cambiado de la reducción de déficit federal y la deuda nacional a uno sobre la desigualdad económica y sus injusticias, o sea, para ponerlo en los nuevos términos, lo del uno por ciento y el 99 por ciento.

Obama "dejó claro que finalmente está preparado para concursar en la elección sobre los temas de la desigualdad de ingreso y la obligación de ambos, el gobierno y el sector privado, de ampliar la cada vez más encogida clase media de la nación", opinó el New York Times en un editorial sobre el discurso.

Que el joven movimiento Ocupa ya cambió la óptica del debate nacional no es poco, pero aún está por verse si eso lleva a cambios en el terreno real de la vida cotidiana del 99 por ciento.

El hecho es que casi 3 millones han perdido su vivienda, y se calcula que otros 3,6 millones enfrentarán lo mismo en los próximos dos años. Y aunque la tasa de desempleo por fin bajó de 9 a 8,6 por ciento, por lo menos la mitad de esa reducción se debe no a la generación de empleo, sino el abandono de decenas de miles de la fuerza laboral, o sea, gente que ya se dio por vencida para encontrar una chamba. Hay más hambre y más desesperanza en todo el país.

Aunque Obama y su equipo hablen en nombre del 99 por ciento no necesariamente convencerá a todos. Hay ciertos detalles que provocan más bien dudas, entre ellos que el sector financiero continúa siendo uno de los principales contribuyentes a la campaña electoral del presidente, aportando hasta la fecha un tercio de sus fondos recaudados para esta próxima elección (en 2008, Obama recibió más fondos de Wall Street que su contrincante republicano).

Otro es el hecho incómodo (políticamente) de que Obama y su gabinete pertenecen al 1 por ciento. Ocho de los 10 integrantes del gabinete, incluido el presidente, analizados por el Center for Responsive Politics son millonarios. Hillary Clinton, la secretaria de Estado, es la más rica con un valor neto promedio de 31 millones de dólares, seguida por William Daley, jefe del gabinete, con 28 millones. Obama tiene un valor neto de 7,3 millones. Los bancos preferidos por los integrantes del gabinete más ricos para sus cuentas personales son JPMorgan Chase y Wells Fargo. Clinton, Daley, Rahm Emanuel (su ex jefe de gabinete) y Obama tenían un total combinado de más de 50 millones en cuentas de JP Morgan Chase en 2010, según análisis de datos públicos por el Center for Responsive Politics.

También está el hecho de que hasta que estalló el movimiento Ocupa Wall Street, el presidente, su gabinete y gran parte de la cúpula política (con notables excepciones) no abordaban el tema de la desigualdad económica. No hablaban de que la desigualdad en el ingreso en Estados Unidos está en su nivel más alto desde los años 20. No indicaban que por primera vez desde 1927, el 10 por ciento más rico tenia 50 por ciento del ingreso nacional.

O el dato que provocó gran atención esta semana cuando se reveló que los Walton, los seis herederos de la fortuna Wal-Mart, habían acumulado un tesoro personal equivalente al valor neto combinado de 30 por ciento de los estadunidenses en la base de la pirámide económica, según datos de 2007 (o sea, podría ser aún mayor hoy día).

El movimiento Ocupa, al provocar el debate sobre la desigualad documentado por todos estos datos y hechos incómodos, también genera preocupación entre los republicanos que, en público, descartan como flojos y rojos a los manifestantes (el multimillonario republicano Donald Trump denunció esta semana que Obama creó el movimiento Ocupa). “"Yo estoy tan asustado de este esfuerzo anti-Wall Street. Estoy asustado a muerte”", afirmó Frank Luntz, uno de los estrategas nacionales más reconocidos del Partido Republicano en una reunión de gobernadores republicanos del país. Indicó que "están teniendo un impacto sobre lo que el pueblo estadunidense piensa del capitalismo", reportó Yahoo News. Entre sus recomendaciones a los políticos republicanos que enfrentan preguntas de sus bases sobre la desigualdad económica y otros temas que surgen del movimiento Ocupa: no usen la palabra capitalismo. “Estoy intentando remover esa palabra y sustituirla con ‘libertad económica’ o ‘libre mercado. El público … aún prefiere capitalismo que socialismo pero creen que el capitalismo es inmoral. Y si nos perciben como defensores de ‘Wall Street’, tendremos un problema”.

Mientras el presidente y otros millonarios afirman representar al 99 por ciento y el uno por ciento propone evitar el uso de la palabra "capitalismo", parece que el movimiento Ocupa ha logrado, por lo menos, dejar claro que el emperador está desnudo.

La Jornada

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JG: Barack Obama is a faithful servant of Corporate America, the Banks, and Wall Street. Do not listen to what he says, WATCH WHAT HE DOES!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Barack Obama rewards his cronies in Miami

The Sacramento Bee

A grant to a Miami nonprofit that supports democracy in Cuba ignited critics who argue the money was given to reward Obama’s cronies.

USAID defends $3.4M Cuba grant program

By Juan O. Tamayo
The Miami Herald

Published: Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 - 4:55 am


The U.S. Agency for International Development is strongly rejecting complaints of political favoritism in its grant of $3.4 million to a human rights group closely linked to the Cuban American National Foundation.

USAID this summer approved the three-year grant to the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FHRC), a Miami nonprofit created by CANF members, to help support civil society and democracy on the communist-ruled island.

News of the grant drew complaints from critics who allege that FHRC has little experience with such grants and point to the warm relations between CANF, the premier exile organization, and the Obama administration.

South Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart complained last week that U.S. funds for democracy programs in Cuba “should be provided only to organizations with strong experience and proven track records” on the island.

“It would be a disgrace if the Obama administration broke with tradition and used a penny of that critical funding to reward political cronies,” Diaz Balart added in a statement emailed.

Mark Lopes, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean and a former aide to Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said a “technical evaluation committee” made up of officials from government agencies is in charge of reviewing grant applications and selecting winners.

“The criteria for competing for USAID funds is included in the grant application … This is a technical process based on the merits of the proposals submitted,” Lopes added. “No political appointee had any role in the selection process.”

Washington’s Cuba democracy programs have been criticized as inefficient and that they only provoke Havana authorities, who outlawed any cooperation and view the programs as “subversive” attempts for “regime change.”

USAID subcontractor Alan Gross is serving a 15-year prison sentence in Havana on charges of undermining the island’s national security by providing a satellite telephone to Cuban Jews so they could connect to the Internet more easily.

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JG: There is no difference between the two capitalist parties, Republicans (George W. Bush) and Democrats (Barack H. Obama) when it comes to spending taxpayer's money that goes directly to the cronies of the sitting president. If their subversive agents are caught violating the sovereignty and laws of Cuba, SEND THEM TO JAIL!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Jose Feliciano - Feliz Navidad

Escudo Nacional de Cuba y Sus Dos Banderas

ORQUESTA ARAGON: Pare Cochero!

Andrea Rodriguez, of the Associated Press, Wanders and Reports Along the Malecon

By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press – 1 hour ago

HAVANA (AP) — Along Havana's northern coastline, storms that roll down from the north send waves crashing against the concrete seawall, drenching vintage cars and kids playing games of chicken with the salty spray.

Fisherman toss their lines into the warm waters, shirtless men play dominoes on card tables, and throngs of young people gather on weekend nights to laugh, flirt and sip cheap rum.

This is the achingly beautiful and most instantly recognizable part of Havana's cityscape: the Malecon seafront boulevard, with its curlicue lampposts and pastel buildings rising into an azure sky.

Just about anywhere else in the world, it would be a playground for the wealthy, diners in four-star restaurants and tourists willing to spend hundreds of dollars a night for a million-dollar view.

But along the Malecon, many buildings are dank, labyrinthine tenements bursting beyond capacity, plagued by mold and reeking of backed-up sewer drains. Paint peels away from plaster, and the saline air rusts iron bars to dust. Some buildings have collapsed entirely, their propped-up facades testimony to a more dignified architectural era.

Now, for the first time since the 1959 revolution, a new law that permits the sale of real estate has transformed these buildings into extremely valuable properties. Another new law that allows more people to go into business for themselves has entrepreneurs setting up shop and talking up the future. And a multimillion-dollar revitalization project is marching down the street improving lighting, sidewalks and drainage.

The year has seen some remarkable first steps toward a new Cuban economic model, including the sacrificing of a number of Marxism's sacred cows. The state is still firmly in control of all key sectors, from energy and manufacturing to health care and education, but increasingly people are allowed to engage in a small measure of private enterprise. Officials say the changes are irreversible, and this is the last chance to save the economy.

Yet Cubans will tell you that change comes slowly on the island. Strict controls on foreign investment and property ownership mean there's precious little money to bankroll a capitalist revival. Even some Malecon denizens who embrace the reforms see a long haul ahead.

"It's not that I see the future as black, more like I'm seeing a little spark from someone 3 kilometers away who lit a match," said Jose Luis Leal Ordonez, the proprietor of a modest snack shop."But it's a match, not a lantern."

Leal's block, the first one along the promenade, has offered a front row seat to five decades of Cuba under Fidel Castro. The residents of Malecon 1 to 33 have watched the powerful forces of revolution play out beneath their balconies, and today they're bracing for yet another act as Castro's younger brother Raul turns a half-century of Communist dogma on its ear.

___

Given that Cuba's national identity has been inextricably bound up with its powerful neighbor 150 kilometers (90 miles) to the north, it is perhaps fitting that the Malecon is the legacy of a "Yanqui."

The year was 1900 and the country was under U.S. control following the Spanish-American War. Governor General Leonard Wood, who commanded the Rough Riders during the war with friend Teddy Roosevelt as his No. 2, launched a public works program to clean up unsanitary conditions and stimulate the economy. A key element was the Malecon.

At that time Havana ended about a block from the sea, separated from the waves by craggy rock. Raw sewage seeped into the bay nearby, so fishermen and bathers avoided this part of the waterfront. Only later would high-rise hotels and casinos spring up to make the Malecon a world-famous tourism draw.

For those early American occupiers, "The idea was to create a maritime drive so the city, which until now had its back to the sea, would begin to face the ocean," said architect Abel Esquivel. Since 1994, he has been working with the City Historian's office to restore the crumbling Malecon.

As the boulevard and promenade took shape, buildings sprang up on this block. One of the first was a three-story boarding house for singles and childless couples who occupied 12 apartments.

Today those have been subdivided horizontally and vertically, again and again, to take advantage of every last inch of space, and some 70 families live crammed into every nook and cranny.

Leal runs his cafeteria in the home where he was born 46 years ago, at the dark crux of an interior passageway. It caters mostly to neighbors and goes unnoticed by tourists on the sun-drenched walk outside.

A lifelong supporter of the revolution, Leal is grateful for the opportunity to live rent-free and earn two master's degrees on the state's dime. Still, after years of frustration working for dysfunctional government bureacracies, he quit his state job. He opened his snack shop May 1, and already it brings more income than before, enough even for his daughter's upcoming "quinceanera," her coming-of-age 15th birthday party.

He is one of the people on this block who is buying into Castro's entrepreneurial challenge.

Another is Omar Torres, who operates a private restaurant known as a "paladar" on a second-story terrace with sea and skyline views. He praised the government for lifting a ban on the serving of lobster and steak and allowing him to more than quadruple the number of diners he can seat.

Downstairs, an artist runs an independent gallery selling paintings of "Che" Guevara and cityscapes to tourists. Although he doesn't own the house, he's so confident in the future that he's using the income to remodel his rental.

Elsewhere folks are letting out rooms to travelers, and newly licensed street vendors are now legally peddling peanuts in tightly wrapped paper cones.

"Cubans dream of truly feeling like masters of their own destiny, for the state not to interfere in personal matters," Leal said. "Until now the state told you that you couldn't even sell your home."

___

From its early days, the Malecon was a place to see and be seen, to celebrate a success, drown a sorrow or woo a sweetheart. By the 1920s it was a favorite strip for middle-class Cubans who motored up and down to show off their vehicles.

Havana developed without a strong central plan or dominant core, and the Malecon became one of its most important communal spaces, said historian Daniel Rodriguez, a Cuban-American researcher at New York University.

"I think the closest thing Havana has to an urban center is this long seawall," Rodriguez said. "It's a long, ribbony main square."

Today the concrete promenade stretches 6 kilometers (4 miles) from the harbor to the Almendares River, the last section completed in 1958 under strongman Fulgencio Batista.

Those were heady times, when the city's nightclubs pulsed with a mambo beat and mafia casinos on the Malecon drew planeloads of American tourists. But their days were numbered.

The following January, the young rebel Fidel Castro marched triumphantly into Havana and in short order began seizing mansions and apartment buildings and redistributing them to the poor, triggering a tectonic shift in housing as well as the rest of the economy and society.

Castro declared private real estate incompatible with the revolution's ideals. "For the bourgeoisie," he said, things like "country, society, liberty, family and humanity have always been tied to a single concept: private property."

___

In a country where everyone is guaranteed a place to live, millions are jammed into dilapidated, multigenerational homes. The government is landlord to vast ranks of tenants who pay nothing or a nominal rent of around $2 a month. Sapped of any sense of ownership, some cannibalized the old buildings, ripping out wood, cinderblocks and decorative tiles to use or sell. That, combined with the punishing climate, has stifled upkeep and hastened decay in the buildings on the Malecon.

One of them, the Hotel Surf, was a beauty when Griselia Valdes arrived here as an 18-year-old newlywed in 1963. The entryway was tiled in pink and black with white benches and a restaurant on the ground floor. The rooms even had air-conditioning.

The glass bricks that lined the front wall are long gone, demolished by big storms. A drainpipe dumps over a spider web of electrical wires hanging at eye level in a passageway, while rainwater filters through the walls and spills into the lobby. The elevator was taken out years ago, but with the motor left rusting at the top of the shaft, people fear it could come crashing down any day.

"Mostly it is us who have abused the building with the subdivisions, with the banging and the crashing," Valdes said. "From neglecting it, from indolence."

Jan Ochoa Barzaga, who lives in the hotel's basement, is pessimistic about how much Raul Castro's reforms can change things. The factory worker finds it very frustrating that his girlfriend, like many others in Cuba, received a free university education from a generous government, but is languishing in a low-paid job.

Ochoa Barzaga tried to make the sea passage off the island in 2009, but was caught and returned home. If he had another opportunity to leave, he wouldn't think long.

"If they opened it up again," said the 32-year-old. "I'd be out of here."

___

The Malecon continued to serve as center-stage throughout Fidel Castro's rule, with the military conducting war games along the seawall during the 1960s after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. In 2000 a flag-waving Castro personally led marches along the seawall to demand Cuban raft-boy Elian Gonzalez's return from the United States.

Four years earlier, with Cuba buckling under a severe economic crisis following the collapse of the Soviet Union, thousands marched through the streets with makeshift plywood and inner-tube rafts and set off from the Malecon in a desperate gamble to reach Florida. Many failed.

On Aug. 5 of that year, riotous protests erupted on the boulevard and surrounding streets that were likely the biggest challenge to Castro since he took power. Amid looting and dozens of arrests, Castro addressed the crowd from atop a military vehicle.

"We were witnesses to all that," said Torres, the private restaurant owner, who saw the multitudes from his balcony. "You began to reconsider the meaning that Fidel has for Cubans, because in a moment of chaos and uncertainty, his presence was something else. Even the rioters began shouting, 'Fidel! Fidel!'"

That image of a robust, charismatic father figure faded when illness forced him from power five years ago.

The future is left to Raul, who at 80, is five years younger than his brother. He has dropped one bombshell after another with his economic reforms. None caused more of a stir than the measure legalizing the real estate market.

There's no sign of an imminent gold rush along this block of the Malecon, or anywhere else. Few individuals hold title to these homes; most rent from the government. Meanwhile the new law contains protections against individual accumulation of property or wealth, and officials insist this is no wholesale embrace of capitalism.

"All these changes, necessary to update the economic model, aim to preserve socialism, strengthen it and make it truly irrevocable," Raul Castro said in December 2010.

There's also the question of money: Cuba has only a tiny middle class with the kind of coin to not only buy a seafront home but afford the maintenance needed to keep the corrosive air at bay. The new law bars anyone not a permanent resident from buying property, including exiles who still imagine a day when they might return.

For Jorge Sanguinetty, who grew up a few blocks from the Malecon and was an economist for central planning under Fidel Castro before fleeing in 1967, the history of the seawalk is personal.

"I was like Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn. I used to go fishing there, walking through the rocks. We could see the salt from the waves on our windows during the storms," Sanguinetty recalled, saying he still dreams about it more than 40 years later. "You have to see a sunset (on the) Malecon. They are absolutely sensational."

Sanguinetty, founder of the international development group DevTech Systems, is writing a book about potential redevelopment in Cuba and has followed the issue closely over the years. He said the same forces that caused the Malecon's decay also added to its charm.

"The stagnation of Havana had this unintended consequence: Even though many things have fallen apart and are no longer salvageable, Havana will remain very desirable because uncontrolled development didn't take place," he said by phone from his office in Miami. "So there are many jewels there architecturally, and the Malecon is one of the most beautiful jewels in the crown."

___

When it comes to the Malecon, the City Historian's Office wields near-total control. A largely autonomous institution, it collects undisclosed millions of dollars each year from the hotels and tourist restaurants it runs in restored buildings, and plows a big chunk of that back into rehabilitating more. The office recently said it has more than 180 projects, on top of the hundreds already completed.

The result has been an architectural rebirth that's on display in the gleaming Spanish-American cultural center, a rescued former tenement next door to Leal's building. A few doors away is a near-total rehab with brand-new apartments upstairs from a state-run restaurant, a mixed-use model that could be repeated.

There are also reminders that money is tight. Residents here remember how in the early 2000s, at the site of the collapsed Hotel Miramar, a fancy hotel from 1902 where tuxedoed waiters once attended to a fashionable clientele, Fidel Castro and Chinese President Jiang Zemin laid the cornerstone for a $24 million hotel to be built with help from Beijing.

Construction mysteriously froze after just a few weeks. Today, bricks form a single uncompleted first story and a faded artistic rendering tacked to a fence depicts the glassy, hyper-modern structure that never got built.

Despite the decay and unfulfilled hopes, the residents say they live in a magical place that creates a sense of community that doesn't exist even one block inland.

"I'm right on what we call the balcony of the city," said Leal, the cafeteria owner. "For me there's no place more sacred than where I live."

___

Associated Press writer Laura Wides-Munoz in Miami contributed to this report.

Peter Orsi can be reached at www.twitter.com/Peter(underscore)Orsi/

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JG: SUPERB!

Gran Maestro Cubano Leinier Domínguez satisfecho con debut en Mundiales de la Mente


CMKX Radio Bayamo, Cuba

17/diciembre/2011 10:15:36 GMT -0500

Fuente: PL

Fotografía: Archivo Redacción Digital

Beijing, (PL) El Gran Maestro cubano Leinier Domínguez considera que por encima de cualquier estadística, los resultados de su debut en los Juegos Mundiales de la Mente deben medirse por la experiencia adquirida y cuánto aprendió.

Satisfecho con su actuación en la lid concluida la víspera en esta capital, el joven ajedrecista dijo hoy a Prensa Latina que por tratarse de un torneo no válido para el ELO, “la competencia permite experimentar y esa oportunidad siempre se aprovecha”.

El único representante de América Latina y el Caribe en la justa aclaró que no por ello deba pensarse en una simple competencia más, al recordar una credencial común de los 16 jugadores participantes: todos tienen un Elo superior a los dos mil 700.

Y frente a ellos cumplí mi principal objetivo, acumular experiencia y aprender, recalcó.

Sus resultados fueron los siguientes: Modalidad rápida, cuarto lugar con cuatro puntos en siete partidas, ubicado detrás de Wang Hao (China), Vugar Hashimov (Azerbayán) y Gata Kamsky (Estados Unidos).

En la Blitz, enfrentamientos de tres minutos en un todos contra todos, acumuló cinco puntos de 15 posibles. Los medallistas en esa modalidad fueron Vachier Lagrave (Francia), Alexander Grischuk (Rusia) y Shahriyar Mammadyarov (Azerbaiyán).

La ronda de partidas a la ciega, cierre de la lid, la concluyó con tres de siete puntos. El título lo obtuvo Almasi Zoltan (Hungría), escoltado por Vachier y Hashimov.

El GM cubano afirma que toda competencia ayuda y resulta útil, en su caso, para un compromiso cercano, el torneo de San Sebastián, España, certamen que celebrará su centenario y en el cual participará mejor preparado, según adelantó.

Domínguez llegó a Beijing tras lograr exitosa actuación en ese país europeo, donde acumuló cinco puntos en seis partidas como primer tablero del Sestao Naturgas, en el Campeonato Nacional de Clubes.

Luego de la cita en la capital china, ratificó que 2011 ha sido un buen año, sobre todo en la segunda mitad, en la cual reconoce que jugó con mayor concentración.

Cuban-Americans Travel to the Homeland and the Sending of Family Remittances Survive

By WILLIAM MARCH | The Tampa Tribune

Published: December 17, 2011 Updated: December 17, 2011 - 12:00 AM

TAMPA --
A measure putting strict limits on Cuban-Americans' travel to Cuba and financial assistance sent to family members there has been removed from a congressional spending bill.

That ends — for now — a threat to the increased travel and remittances allowed by the Obama administration.

The measure would have reinstituted the restrictions in place during President George W. Bush's administration, when Cuban-Americans could visit families in Cuba only once every three years and send only $1,200 a year to immediate relatives there.

In 2009, shortly after taking office, President Barack Obama lifted those restrictions, allowing unlimited visits and remittances.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, a leading opponent of the Fidel Castro regime, had attached an amendment reinstating the restrictions to the trillion-dollar spending bill, which is designed to keep the government running so the House can take its holiday recess.

But House Republicans agreed Thursday to drop the language as part of a deal to bring the bill to the House floor.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, praised the change, saying Cuban-American families "can breathe a sigh of relief" that holiday season visits won't be prevented by what she called "last-minute political maneuvers."

"President Obama held firm on his policies supporting Cuban-American families in the face of Congressional Republican efforts to undermine progress. Holding firm proved to win the day," Castor said.

She said the restrictions would have damaged business prospects for the Tampa Bay area. Flights from Tampa to Cuba, which began in September, have grown from one a week to four, and total travelers to Cuba have tripled from 10,000 per month to nearly 30,000.

Joe Lopano, chief executive of Tampa International Airport, projected that about 43,200 passengers will fly from Tampa to Cuba in 2012.

"The flights to Cuba are an important part of the airport's business plan," said airport authority spokeswoman Janet Zink. "Any measures that would slow demand is worrisome to us. We are very grateful for the work Rep. Castor did to maintain the status quo."

wmarch@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7761

Beautiful Old Havana

A man drives a horse and carriage in Old Havana, Cuba,
a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
(THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Ends Cooperation Deal with Racist Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio


The Civil Rights Division of U.S. Justice Department today said a three-year investigation finds that 'Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office has engaged in a "culture of bias" involving racial profiling and a widespread pattern of discrimination of Latinos.

Here is the DHS statement:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is troubled by the Department of Justice's (DOJ) findings of discriminatory policing practices within the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO). Discrimination undermines law enforcement and erodes the public trust. DHS will not be a party to such practices. Accordingly, and effective immediately, DHS is terminating MCSO's 287(g) jail model agreement and is restricting the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office access to the Secure Communities program. DHS will utilize federal resources for the purpose of identifying and detaining those individuals who meet U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement's (ICE) immigration enforcement priorities. The Department will continue to enforce federal immigration laws in Maricopa County in smart, effective ways that focus our resources on criminal aliens, recent border crossers, repeat and egregious immigration law violators and employers who knowingly hire illegal labor.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Republicans Agree to Drop Language Dealing with Cuba Travel from Budget Deal Bill

Advisers to President Barack Obama had recommended that he veto the law, if it included the controversial language sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

Read the Faux News Article

Florida Republicans Fail to Overturn Cuba Policy

POTUS CALLED THE BLUFF, AND THE EXTREMISTS FOLDED THEIR HAND. Score one for Obama!.

The Exceptional Architecture of Sagua La Grande, Cuba

This building has been declared a National Monument.

Cuba Sets New Tourism Record in 2011

Hotel Nacional, Havana, Cuba

For the fourth consecutive year, Cuba has surpassed the previous year record in the number of tourists that arrive in the island as tourists, reported Cuban daily Granma today.

Last year, 2,531,745 was a new record number of tourists. That number was surpassed on December 13, 2011, and we still have two more weeks to go for the current year.

The biggest number of visitors came from the United Kingdom and Canada. There was also growth in the number of visitors coming from Argentina.

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JG: The Miami anti-Cuba right-wingers are going to have cagalera.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Photo of Fidel With Beret is 50 Years Old

Photo by Liborio Noval

Cuban-style health care in America? Yes we can!

People's World

By: Mike Lado
December 15 2011

tags: Cuba, health care reform, international

Part two of a two-article series.

See part one here.

Despite the valiant attempts by progressive Democrats to pass a universal health care system, we got the less-than-ideal Affordable Care Act that still leaves several million uninsured people.

In part one of this series, I described how Cuba does a miraculous job of having a successful health care system despite the U.W. embargo she faces. In addition to hospitals Cuba has an island-wide network of neighborhood medical stations and specialty polyclinics that reduce reliance on emergency rooms for care. Now onto the million-dollar question: would such a system work here in the States, and how? I've tweaked the system a bit to adjust to our current structure of government.

The first level of care, based on the Cuban system, would be a municipal medical clinic. Each town or municipality of over 1,000 people would be served by a clinic staffed by nurses and physician assistants. So don't we have this like the Cubans do? As KaiserEDU.org notes, the United States is facing a critical shortage of primary care physicians in medicine. Most medical students saddled in debt go to high paying specialties instead of primary care. It would take some time to train all those new physicians to fill the gap.

In the interim we can use nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to fill the void. NPs and PAs can work alone or under the supervision of a doctor. They both have prescribing rights and are just as qualified as doctors to deliver basic care. In a Cuban-style system a doctor would be assigned to a set of clinics to oversee operations with the NP or PA supervising a nursing staff directly as needed. These medical stations would cover primary care such as physicals and immunizations.

The next level up is a polyclinic. I suggest one polyclinic per county or county equivalent. In Cuba polyclinics generally serve several tens of thousands of people. In our big cities and larger counties more than one polyclinic will be needed to cover people. At the polyclinic people should be able to see a doctor who's a specialist, receive diagnostic tests, dental and optical care, outpatient surgeries, and treatment for urgent care scenarios.

Finally, the hospitals. These would be used in case of life threatening emergencies. The more we reduce the need for a hospital emergency room through the polyclinic, the less people will show up at the hospital sick.

A successful health care system that covers all for free must be well financed and have some kind of democratic control.

So who's going to pay for all this? Well first we can start by jacking up taxes on the rich and big corporations. Strengthening the progressive income tax system is a must for a good health care system to be successful. A successful taxation system that places the burden of cost on the people who can afford to pay allows every citizen to receive free, quality health care without having to turn the entire nation upside down searching for a way to finance such a system.

Now the nitpicky part: who gets to control the system? In my plan the people do. On the local level I propose that every county elects a democratic assembly of health care workers, professionals and patients who oversee the day to day operation of the county polyclinic and local clinics. There should be regional assemblies as well for control over hospitals affiliated with a major university or medical school.

Abortion should be legal and on demand at a polyclinic for women who choose it. HIV/AIDS treatment and testing should be free and available for all who need it, including post-exposure prophylaxis treatment. Fertility treatments for women who are unable to conceive should be available. Local medical clinic staff should be trained to be sensitive to the needs of all patients and should set their personal beliefs aside when it comes to the needs of a patient.

This is a system that is for the needs of a patient, is run by the people themselves, and takes big insurance out of the equation.

Organizations Urge U.S. Congress to Reject Anti-Cuban Act

Washington, Dec 15 (Prensa Latina) - Organizations in favor of flexibilizing the relationship between the United States and Cuba demanded the Congress of this country to reject a legal project presented by anti-Cuban representative Mario Diaz-Balart, to limit trips and remittances to the island.

Among those opposed to the idea is the Group of Cuban Studies, mainly comprised of the business people of the island settled in this country.

Tampa democrat Kathy Castor also called legislators of her party and the republicans in charge of analyzing the issue to eliminate the clause, included in June in the Treasury bill.

Others defended the position taken by President Barack Obama in 2009, to lift some restrictions on to trips to Cuba, as well as the sending of family remittances to the Caribbean nation.

The pro-Cuban stance takes place at a time when the expenses act, which includes those limitations, was temporarily suspended to prioritize the debate of other regulations termed as critical and that should be approved in the coming days.

The Diaz-Balart plan expects to re-establish the rule imposed by former President George Bush in 2008, of allowing only one family visit to Cuba every three years, a total amount of 1,200 USD per year as remittances, and restricting the concept of "family".

According to Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee, the practical effect of the project would be to stop transfers to Havana to only one in 2012, since the bill deals with the budget of only one year.

The Diaz-Balart action is part of policies that are historically generated from the United States to hurt the Cuban people and government.

Modificado el (jueves, 15 de diciembre de 2011)

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JG: I am not an organization, but Cuba Journal adds its voice to remove the provisions offered by U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart to a money appropriations bill.

El recuerdo de Juan Manuel Márquez

Juan Manuel Márquez pronuncia un discurso en Nueva York
y a su lado, Fidel.

Discurso de Fidel en el Parque Central de Nueva York el 24 de abril de 1959.

En esta noche de hoy, noche de triunfo, noche que ha de quedar inolvidablemente grabada en nuestros corazones, noche de orgullo para la América entera, solo un pensamiento triste nos invade, solo un dolor nos estremece. Al contemplar aquí esta inmensa muchedumbre, al hablar aquí hoy, mi pensamiento se eleva hacia aquel que fue mi compañero de organización del Movimiento 26 de Julio en el exilio; mi pensamiento se eleva a quien fue compañero de esta jornada; mi pensamiento se eleva a aquel orador formidable; a aquel compañero que hacía poner de pie a la multitud con su palabra vibrante: Juan Manuel Márquez (APLAUSOS).

No está presente hoy, pero la obra que inició está aquí presente. No está presente él, pero está presente su recuerdo; no está presente él, pero están presentes los frutos de su sacrificio: Juan Manuel Márquez, otra vez nos hemos vuelto a reunir con los cubanos y los latinoamericanos de Nueva York. Pero esta vez no son 1 000, son decenas y decenas de millares de miles, que esta vez no hay latinoamericanos solo, hay también norteamericanos, esta vez no estamos hablando de sueños que habrán de realizarse, sino de sueños que se han realizado y de sueños que se habrán de realizar, con el aliento de ver lo que se ha hecho (APLAUSOS).

Esta vez no la reunimos para iniciar una empresa guerrera, la reunimos y la convocamos para iniciar una etapa y una empresa de creación y de paz. No la reunimos cuando todo está por delante, cuando todos contábamos con la fe nuestra y con la fe de unos cuantos, sino cuando contamos ya, gracias al esfuerzo de los que como tú han caído con la fe y con el respaldo de millones de latinoamericanos. Juan Manuel Márquez, a ti debemos dedicarte hoy el mejor recuerdo, el más devoto recuerdo y el más sentido homenaje, porque aquí está tu compañero que siguió la lucha, aquí está tu compañero que te recuerda y te echa de menos.

No se pondrá hoy de pie la multitud con tu palabra, pero se pondrá de pie con estas palabras que pronuncio al conjuro de tu recuerdo.

(OVACIÓN)

Juan Manuel Márquez fue el segundo jefe del Movimiento 26 de julio y de la expedición del Granma. Con solo 16 años se incorporó a la lucha contra el tirano Gerardo Machado y fue encarcelado en el Presidio Modelo, en abril de 1932, con 17 años de edad, por lo que fue el más joven de todos los presos políticos en ese centro.

Tras la caída del "asno con garras" se opone firmemente a la intervención norteamericana a través de la mediación Summer-Welles. Posteriormente, ya conocedor de la influencia de los medios, funda el periódico Catapulta, donde refleja su pensamiento político y critica tempranamente a ese "machadista arrepentido" llamado Fulgencio Batista. Más tarde comienza a colaborar con el semanario El Sol, espacio en el que fustiga a los gobernantes de turno y expresa su lucha por la revolución agraria-antimperialista. Juan Manuel tuvo una destacada trayectoria de combate y de críticas a las lacras del sistema político y social imperante en Cuba y en los programas radiales sobresalió por sus relevantes cualidades de orador, y finalmente se volcó a la lucha contra la tiranía batistiana, fase más reconocida de su sentir patriota, por lo cual sufrió cárcel y torturas. Tuvo una activa participación en la organización de la expedición del Granma y luego de Alegría de Pío fue asesinado el 15 de diciembre de 1956 por la soldadesca batistiana.

Source: Granma

Labels: Cuba, Granma, Juan Manuel Márquez

Canadian Band Ready to Travel to Cuba

Vancouver rock ’n’ rollers The Vicious Cycles will travel to Cuba in January to help support Cuban rock bands.

The Vancouver Sun

Vancouver band Vicious Cycles ready to rock Cuba

Band of bikers expects ‘a whole bunch of Harleys’ to come to their show

By Francois Marchand, Vancouver Sun December 14, 2011


The Vicious Cycles 'Solidarity Rock' Cuban Tour Kick-off

With Rich Hope and his Evil Doers, AK-747s

Friday, Dec. 16, 9 p.m.

The Media Club, 695 Cambie

Tickets: $10 at the door

VANCOUVER — It’s almost a rock ’n’ roll Buena Vista Social Club.

In January, Vancouver rock ’n’ rollers The Vicious Cycles will embark on a tour of Cuba, performing alongside underground Cuban punk act Arrabio.

In the process, they will be helping a Cuban community organization secure new equipment for up and coming rock acts and music schools in a country that has been repressing rock ’n’ roll for decades.

The Vicious Cycles are the fifth Canadian band to head down to Cuba as part of Solidarity Rock, a charitable music initiative launched by a handful of Edmonton-based musicians and Cuban friends like William Garcia, a member of Arrabio who is handling logistics on the Cuban side through the Hermanos Saiz Association.

The Cycles are the first Vancouver band to make the trek to Cuba, playing seven shows in 10 days across the country.

“It’s artists helping artists, musicians helping musicians,” Vicious Cycles bassist Rob Wright said. “It’s not just Canadian musicians helping Cuban musicians, it’s a true exchange.

“It’s about helping musicians find their own way. It’s not about any sort of political structure. We’re going over there to play rock ’n’ roll and to help others play rock ’n’ roll.”

The Vicious Cycles are a motorcycle-loving crew that released their first album The Strange and Terrible Saga of ... this spring.

The band includes members of Raised By Wolves, The Blackjacks and Les Tabernacles and is known for its wild, sweaty performances.

For Wright, the opportunity to play for Harley-Davidson fans in Cuba was a no-brainer.

“The guys in Arrabio organized a meeting with the Harley-Davidson club in Trinidad,” Wright said. “They’re getting a whole bunch of Harleys to come out to our show, which should be pretty wild.”

Edmonton-based documentary filmmaker Drew McIntosh has been involved with Solidarity Rock since its inception in 2008, when he and Edmonton rock band 7 and 7 Is made their first trip to Cuba as part of the project.

Over the course of four tours, McIntosh has shot hours upon hours of footage that he hopes will eventually become a full-length documentary about the underground rock ’n’ roll scene in Cuba.

“The guys that play traditional salsa music and shake maracas for tourists make the money,” McIntosh said. “But there are these bands that are some of the best bands I’ve ever seen and they would never be invited to play big festivals in their own cities. We’re showing the world that Cuban rock ’n’ roll exists, and if we can start putting that stuff in music schools now, I think it will be an interesting legacy.”

So far, the Solidarity Rock project has donated a full band setup with P.A., amplifiers, drum kit and guitars to the Hermanos Saiz Association in Sancti Spiritus, and it has also provided instruments to various bands directly.

“There’s a thriving punk rock scene in four cities in the centre of the country,” McIntosh said. “For the last 16 years, there has been the same 10-12 guys playing that kind of music. Arrabio is part of that. They are the original surviving punk rockers that have been there the whole time.”

McIntosh added that he hoped this fifth tour would see Solidarity Rock expand into different chapters across Western Canada via groups based out of Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver.

“We want to break it into chapters that can take on their own autonomous projects,” McIntosh said.

“That way we can achieve more successes.”

The kickoff concert at the Media Club Friday night will also feature performances by Rich Hope and his Evil Doers and the AK-747s, as well as an exhibit featuring pictures by McIntosh and other photographers who have documented the Cuban rock ’n’ roll scene over the past four Solidarity Rock tours.

“In the long term, one of the goals of solidarity rock is to bring Arrabio to Canada to tour,” Wright said.

fmarchand@vancouversun.com

Miami Gusano's Section 901 in H.R. 2434

Here is the section introduced into H.R. 2434 by capo di tutti capi of the Miami Mafia, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

TITLE IX--ADDITIONAL GENERAL PROVISIONS

Spending reduction account


Sec. 901. Any amendments made after January 19, 2009, to the regulations set forth in sections 515.560(a)(1), 515.560(c)(4)(i), 515.561, and 515.570 of title 31, Code of Federal Regulations, are hereby repealed, and such regulations are restored and shall be carried out as in effect on such date, notwithstanding any guidelines, opinions, letters, Presidential directives, or agency practices relating to such regulations issued or carried out after such date: Provided, That any references in such section 515.561 to the regulations set forth in section 515.560(c) of such Code shall be considered to be references to such regulations as in effect on January 19, 2009.

Notice that the Batista family adoptive member does not dare to use the word Cuba, and instead relies on lawyers legalese. Is he trying to fool you? Does he think that people are stupid?

Cuba Journal will keep you posted on this continuing drama/farce.

Related Story: Non-Haters and Supporters rally for U.S. Travel to Cuba

More of the same talking points from Andres Oppenheimer at the Miami Herald

Remember Andres Oppenheimer at the Miami Herald? His not so good book about Cuba titled Castro's Final Hour was published in 1993. His book is so good that you can buy it today at Amazon.com for one penny. Yes, I am not kidding you, one penny! If you are a Scrooge type and do not want to spend that much money this Christmas, you can probably read it for free at your local library or through the inter-library loan system.

This guy is one of the many idiots employed by the The Miami 'Gusano' Herald. He is a typical know-nothing person who has profited handsomely from the anti-Cuba business.

Today, he has the audacity of publishing another article in that newspaper that delights the readers in the Cesspool of the United States. Of course, do not expect to read anything positive about the Caribbean island when you peruse his latest article. It is negativity raised to the third power in regards to Cuba.

It has been now 18 years since his first book. If he had chosen a different title, people probably would not laugh so much about him.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

White House Statement Regarding Cuba Provisions in H.R. 2434

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20503

July 13, 2011


The Administration strongly opposes a number of provisions in this bill.

H.R. 2434 "reverses current policies on Cuba, senior advisors [of the President] would recommend a veto."

Cuban Family Travel and Remittances. The Administration opposes section 901 of the bill, which would reverse the President's policy on family travel and remittances to Cuba . This section would undo the President's efforts to increase contact between divided Cuban families, undermine the enhancement of the Cuban people's economic independence and support for private sector activity in Cuba that come from increased remittances from family members, and therefore isolate the Cuban people and make them more dependent on Cuban authorities.

JG: Notice that the "advisers" are recommending a veto. Because this bill provides very important funds to run the federal government, I believe that a presidential veto is not likely. But section 901 could be removed in the U.S. Senate.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Miami Scum Gusano Mario Diaz-Balart Wants to Build a New Berlin Wall Around Cuba for Cuban Americans

Orlando Sentinel

Cuban Americans could travel only once every three years if measure is approved

By Juan O. Tamayo The Miami Herald

12:18 p.m. EST, December 13, 2011

A Congressional proposal to roll back the Obama administration’s broad opening of Cuban-American travel and remittances to Cuba appeared likely to be approved as part of a year-end spending bill winding its way through the Capitol.

“My concern is that this is very much alive,” Rep. José E. Serrano, a New York Democrat who has long opposed U.S. sanctions on Cuba, declared Monday as he tried to mobilize opposition to the proposal.

President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the measure, submitted by South Florida Republican Mario Diaz Balart in July, to roll back Obama’s decision to ease U.S. restrictions on Cuban Americans who travel or send money to Cuba.

But the measure is part of a critical U.S. spending bill that must be approved by the House and Senate in the next few days, and which Obama would find it difficult if not impossible to veto, according to Congressional staffers.

The Diaz-Balart measure would return the restrictions to levels set by President George W. Bush: only one trip every three years for “family reunifications,” a cap on remittances of $1,200 per year and a tighter definition of “family.”’

“This is changing the rules in the middle of the game,” Serrano told El Nuevo Herald Monday. “What happens to Doña Juana, who left today for Cuba. She will be in violation … What happens to people who made plans to travel the 22nd?”

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JG: This is typical of the COMEMIERDA Mario Diaz-Balart. Hate is his big motivation.

I hope that the U.S. Senate removes his scummy proposal.

Don Quijote de Cuba


The famous character of the novel of
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra,
El Ingenioso Hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha,
as seen in an artistic statue at a Cuban park

Source of photo: Our Lovely Enemy, Part 2

Habanos Cigar Jar Commemorates China-Cuba Relations


Cigar Aficionado

Gregory Mottola

Posted: December 13, 2011


To commemorate 50 years of diplomatic relations between China and Cuba, Habanos S.A., the worldwide distributor of Cuban cigars, has created a special decorative cigar jar full of 25 Bolivar Distinguidos, a double-tapered cigar measuring 6 3/8 inches by 52 ring.

The size is known as a Romeo in Cuban cigar factories and is otherwise only offered as a Cuaba Distinguido within the regular cigar production portfolio.

Though the 50-year anniversary technically took place in 2010, the cigar jar was unveiled a week ago at a release party held in Hong Kong’s Cohiba Atmosphere, P&L Club.

“We had the Cuban General Consul from Guangzhou, China come down to Hong Kong and officiate the launch of this China edition Bolivar cigar,” said Audrey Choong, marketing director for Pacific Cigar Ltd., which distributes Cuban cigars to the Asia Pacific region.

The jar is made of bone China and is printed with the 50th Anniversary statement, the flags of both China and Cuba, the Bolivar brand art and a tiger symbol, as 2010 was the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese horoscope.

Only 2,010 numbered jars have been created, 400 of which are allotted to Hong Kong. It retails for HK$8,000 per jar, which is about $1,030 or $41 per smoke.

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JG: Beautiful jar! I only wish that the photo was much bigger.