Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Brief History of the Ludicrous, Doomed Politics of Florida Cuban Votes

The Atlantic

Anya Landau French

Jan 31 2012, 10:41 AM ET


Republicans like Romney see hardline positions as essential, but Cuban American demographics may be changing, and the U.S.-Cuba relationship could change with it

After Newt Gingrich's upset victory in the South Carolina primary, all eyes turned to the potentially game-changing primary in Florida, and to the famously large and organized Cuban American voting bloc, which could help make or break any of the Republican presidential hopefuls. In a nod to the issue's expected resonance in Florida, both CNN debates in the state featured questions about Cuba, or more specifically, about Fidel Castro and how the candidates might handle news of his death. The leading candidates fell all over themselves: they couldn't wait for Castro to meet his maker; no, wait, he won't be so lucky -- he'll go to the other place; and if we could help Libya's Qaddafi get there, why not Castro? From the debate stage to the stump speech to the multi-point plans, the candidates rushed to prove their anti-Castro bona fides, and they hope, win the Cuban American vote.

Cuban Americans are expected to overwhelmingly support Mitt Romney in tonight's primary. With the leading candidates' positions so similar, why would this community break for Romney, and what does it mean for a potential general election face-off between President Obama and Governor Romney?

First, a bit of history. Ever since the Clinton administration returned a little boy found at sea to his father in Cuba, the Cuban American community has been splintering between the old guard and the new guard, between Cubans who wanted to keep Elian Gonzalez in the U.S. more than to reunite him with his father and the Cubans who were mortified by the black eye the community gave itself in the standoff with the U.S. government. The community is increasingly split between Cubans who left the island decades ago under desperate circumstances, never went back, and vote religiously in U.S. elections, often based on U.S. policies toward Cuba; and those who've arrived in the past 20 years, are less interested in politics, less quick to seek U.S. citizenship or vote here, and are more interested in frequent contact with friends and family still on the island.

As the rift deepened, President Bush and Cuban American congressmen allied themselves with the old guard, dishing out more and more red meat to this reliable voter base. As Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a now-senior Cuban American lawmaker Jeb Bush helped get elected more than 20 years ago, noted in December, "Cuban Americans are the most loyal Republican voters and we could easily be said to be the only solid, dependable bloc of voters for the GOP." This is partly because the older generation is simply more ideologically in tune with the GOP. But it's also because the community's political leaders, nearly all hard-liners, are incredibly organized and know how to get out their vote. The voters who go for Mitt Romney are unlikely to do so because Romney moved them, but rather because local leaders like Ros-Lehtinen, who is now the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, once and current congressmen who are also Fidel Castro's first wife's nephews, urged support for Romney.

Over the years, garnering Cuban exile votes has meant seeking to isolate and antagonize Cuba diplomatically and financially, trying (or at least seeming to try) to foment opposition on the island, and limiting Americans' contacts with Cubans and Cuban culture. But, slowly, Americans have been waking up to the futility of this mission. (The Buena Vista Social Club and other Cuban artists who came to the U.S. in the late 1990's and early 2000s were a big hit around the country, a small but important moment of mutual respect between Americans and Cubans.) Still, President George W. Bush dutifully appointed a Presidential Commission to come up with a sweeping and unrealistic plan "for a Free Cuba," severely curtailed family, academic, cultural, and even religious travel to the island, and he quadrupled U.S. government funding to "hasten the transition" in Cuba, That aid has been riddled with problems, such as embezzlement, fraud, mismanagement, lack of transparency and, most of all, lack of any discernible results.

The Bush administration, in its continual effort to pander to its hard-line Cuban exile base in Florida, also puffed up charges of Cuban state sponsored terrorism and human trafficking, suspended biannual migration talks, kicked out several Cuban diplomats -- implying but not actually saying they were spies -- and appointed a number of hard-line Cuban Americans to key posts, including Otto Reich, Roger Noriega, Mauricio Tamargo, Salvador Lew, and Dan Fisk (he's not Cuban American but helped codify the embargo when he worked for Senator Jesse Helms).

Eventually, the Bush administration ran out of red meat left to throw at the exile voter, and so it invited its favored Cuban dissidents to the White House (but not those who criticized U.S. policies), ordered up a new Commission to recommend more of the same, and scheduled plenty of high level speechifying. When Castro fell ill, the Bush administration insisted that a family succession was out of the question, both because we wouldn't allow it and because the Cuban people the U.S. had supposedly worked so hard to empower wouldn't stand for it.

None of this had any appreciable effect on Havana except to harden it. During Bush's two terms, Fidel Castro became more belligerent, authorities locked up 75 dissidents that Cuban state prosecutors claimed were collaborating with a hostile foreign power (the U.S.), and Castro even made new friends. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez happily came under Castro's tutelage and to his aid. Canada, China, Brazil, Vietnam, and Spain deepened trade ties, and Cuba restored relations with every last country in the Western Hemisphere save one -- us. The United Nations General Assembly voted again and again and again to condemn the U.S. embargo of Cuba, with only Israel and one or two small islands in the Pacific standing with the United States. Cubans who had come to rely on income generated from Americans' and others' visits to the island felt the pinch, and Castro cut back many of the emergency reforms he had reluctantly supported in the 1990s. When Raul Castro took over for his ailing brother in 2006, he slowly began to embrace a more market-based economy, not because of the U.S. embargo, but because, he admitted, the Cuban model simply wasn't sustainable.

By the time President Obama took office, the Castros had outlived -- and outruled -- ten U.S. presidents. There was little use in him dishing out hard-line red meat -- only the old guard exiles really wanted it and they would never vote for a Democrat, particularly one who said he saw no reason not to talk to Raul Castro (he has since found reasons, predictably, not to do so). So, then-candidate Obama worked to cultivate Cuban American voters who don't want to isolate friends and relatives on the island. Obama jeered at the tough talk with no results and offered real action: as president, he would lift all restrictions on family travel and remittances to Cuba.

Once elected, Obama came through on his promise, and later stood against a Congressional Republican effort to reinstate the draconian restrictions (one two-week visit to nuclear family only every three years, with no humanitarian exceptions allowed) at the end of last year. Obama's defense of his reforms suggests his team believes they've picked the right strategy. But given Romney's expected win, it begs the question, who really has the Cuban American vote?

It's a trick question, actually. A generic Republican could still handily take the Cuban American vote in Florida, because the electorate is still largely older, loyally Republican, and hard-line toward Cuba. But Obama doesn't need the whole Cuban American vote; he just needs a few more percentage points than, say, John Kerry won in 2004. He got them in 2008 and won the state by 200,000 votes, so Cuban Americans didn't actually figure as prominently as they have in previous elections. Unfortunately for Romney, all the hard-lining in the world probably won't win him any more Cuban American votes than a Republican would normally get, and his stance on immigration is likely to hurt him with the bigger population of non-Cuban American latinos. (Cubans get unparalleled access to the United States, so immigration isn't such a big issue for them.)

Yet, while Obama aimed for the center with his Cuba travel policies, many Cuban American moderates still don't vote, meaning that the average Cuban American voter is more conservative than the average Cuban American. That may convince the Obama team to lean further to the right -- where there's already little room left. But that would be a mistake, as conservative Cuban Americans aren't in play for Democrats. With a little more vision and courage -- offer an unapologetic engagement with the people of Cuba, in which all Americans could equally participate, for instance -- and he could inspire more of the gettable moderates to get out there this time around and vote. That would do a lot more than just bring Obama a few extra votes in Florida -- it would accelerate a gradual transformation in the politics of Cuban Americans, and thus the policies of the U.S. toward Cuba, away from the hardliners and toward the growing moderates. Romney may do well with the hard-liners this week, but that group and their coveted embargo might not last.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Raul Castro defends one-party system as bulwark against U.S. imperialism


By Jeff Franks

HAVANA | Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:07pm EST

HAVANA (Reuters) - President Raul Castro defended Cuba's one-party political system as a bulwark against U.S. imperialism and said it would remain as it is in a speech on Sunday to a Communist Party conference.

He also said previously announced plans to put term limits on the country's leaders were not fully official, but could gradually go ahead.

This weekend's conference, which is the first in the party's history, came amid wide-ranging reforms that have given Cubans the right to open small businesses and to buy and sell cars, but have included no promises of significant political change.

Castro held to that line in his speech when he railed against the United States, Cuba's longtime ideological foe, and its political system and said the Caribbean island 90 miles from Florida intended to remain a one-party state.

The Communist Party is the only legal political party in Cuba and, under a national constitution in effect since 1976, the supreme guiding force of the society and the state.

"In Cuba, based on its experience in the long history of the fight for independence and national sovereignty, we defend the one-party system instead of the demagoguery and commercialization of politics," Castro said.

He said permitting additional parties would open the door to U.S. interference. It "would be the equivalent of legalizing a party of imperialism on our soil," Castro said.

While the party will remain unchallenged, Castor said the country's leaders will be limited to two consecutive five-year terms, an idea he first mentioned at a party congress in April.

Castro said the party was still working out the legal measures for term limits, which will require a change to the constitution, but that implementation could begin "gradually, even before the constitution is changed."

He did not explain how that would be done or when it might start.

Term limits would be a break from the past in the Cuba, where Fidel Castro ruled for 49 years after the 1959 revolution and was succeeded by Raul Castro, his younger brother.

They also could help bring new blood into the government, whose current leaders are elderly and have no obvious replacements.

Raul Castro is 80, his vice president Jose Ramon Machado Ventura is 81 and Fidel Castro, now mostly retired but still present behind the scenes, is 85.

There was talk before the conference that the party might impose age limits on leaders and promote new, younger people into the party hierarchy, but there had been no mention of either.

Bert Hoffmann, a Cuba specialist at German Institute of Global Area Studies in Hamburg, said the message of the conference appeared to be "to downplay any expectations that economic reforms might entail political change."

(Additional reporting by Rosa Tania Valdes and Marc Frank)

------

JG: In the United States, they also also have one ruling political party, and it is called The Capitalist Party. But the ruling elites try to fool the uneducated and the dumb by telling them that there are competing Democratic and Republican Parties. Those two entities serve the interests of BIG CAPITAL, and never those of the working-class, which is the only institution in the world that creates wealth.

Amigos de José Martí Park in Ybor City

Love was in the air! The not-so-small contingent came together at the appointed time on Sunday, January 29, 2012, at the Amigos de Jose Marti Park in Ybor City, Tampa, Florida. They all gathered in front of the beautiful monument which honors Cuba's Apostle Of Independence. I estimated the attendance at 75-100 people.

There were people from North America, Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua. They were young, middle-aged and Seniors. Black, Brown, and White. Love united them.

Everyone came in peace. This was not a political act; the group did not hate anyone. No one yelled slogans. They came to express their respect, their love. They wanted to honor the 159th Anniversary of the Birth of Jose Marti.

The act had a “Celebration Program of the One Hundred Fifty-Nine Anniversary of the Birth of Jose Marti.”

1.Welcome: Vicente Amor / Albert A. Fox Jr.
2.Floral Wreath Presentation
3.Singing of the National Anthem of Cuba
4.Introduction: Abelardo Arteaga, Translation: Jorge Diaz
5.Guitar Presentation: Llyn French
6.Introduction of Councilwoman Mary S. Mulhern, Tampa City Council
7.Guitar Presentation: Llyn French
8.Presentation of a Poem of Jose Marti: Dr. Miguel Gonzalez
9.Closure: Mauricio Vazquez
10. All those present sing: “La Guantanamera.”

In my fifty years of living in the United States, I have never seen a more beautiful event.

In addition to the consulate office in Washington D.C. (which is called Sección de Intereses de Cuba en Washington) and The Amigos de Jose Marti Park in Ybor City are sovereign territories of the Republic of Cuba.

Photos of the meeting:


Monument to The Apostle

The Wreath

Speakers


Tampa City Councilwoman


Lieutenant General Antonio Maceo Grajales
"The Bronze Titan"
Supreme Commander of the Cuban Liberation Army


Photos of the area surrounding “Amigos de Jose Marti Park.”

Historical Marker

Masonic Monument to Jose Marti

Círculo Cubano
Ybor City

Friday, January 27, 2012

Conference of Cuba’s Communist Party to Begin on Saturday


Jan 27th, 2012

The 1st National Conference of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) will begin on Saturday to assess the work of that political organization objectively and critically, Granma newspaper reported on Friday.

According to the source, the conference will respond to the agreements reached at the 6th PCC Congress. Its opening date was chose to celebrate the 159th birthday of National Hero Jose Marti.

The draft conference agenda, whose initial version was published in October 2011, was discussed in over 65,000 meetings of PCC and Young Communist League (UJC) groups, Granma newspaper notes.

During the analysis of the draft agenda, over one million opinions were collected contributing to the modification of 78 of the 96 objectives of the document and the inclusion of five others.

The conference, expected to end next Sunday at Havana’s Conference Center, will continue discussing the mentioned agenda.

Source: Cubadebate

José Martí en Ybor City


José Martí and cigar workers on the steps of
V.V. Ybor's factory, 1893

Source: Wikepedia

This Saturday, Cubans throughout the world will remember and honor the 159th anniversary of José Martí's birth.

Ron Paul calls for diplomatic relations with Cuba

Los Angeles Times

By Alana Semuels

January 26, 2012, 7:19 p.m.


Ron Paul took a risky position in Florida in Thursday’s debate, calling for communication and diplomatic relations with Cuba, saying that people's positions have changed dramatically over the last few years.

Paul said that Cuba isn’t going to invade the U.S. any time soon, and that Americans weren’t looking under their beds anymore, worried. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich followed by pledging to continue the economic embargo on Cuba and to take any action short of military invasion to upend the government of Raul Castro.

Paul’s position is a potentially dangerous one in Florida, a state with a influential voting bloc of conservative Republicans from Cuba who have long favored aggressive policies toward Havana.

But a study of Cuban American voters in Florida suggests that Paul might be right, and that voters' opinions about Cuba are changing. Support for tightening the embargo dropped by roughly half between 2004 and 2008, according to a study by Benjamin Bishin, a UC Riverside professor.

Cuban Americans’ support for easing the embargo increased to 43.4%, from 26.7% in 2004, and support for easing travel restrictions increased to 47.4% from 32.9%, Bishin found. “Cuban Americans’ attitudes on issues of U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba seems to be in transition,” he wrote in a 2009 study.

The Star Ledger: Ron Paul was right on Cuba; Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were dumb and dumber

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fidel Castro publishes new article on US imperial appetites and a recent media campaign against Cuba

Radio Cadena Agramonte

Havana, Jan 26.- Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro said that Cuba won’t be that additional strength with which the US empire extends its reign over the peoples of America.

In his most recent article entitled The fruit which did not fall, Fidel Castro said the Cuban Revolution has endured over half a century, in spite of the imperial appetites of the power that lurks just a few miles off Cuban shores.

Fidel also summarized the endless struggle of the Cuban people against the continued aggressions of the US government and the anti-Cuban terrorist organizations based in the state of Florida.

He also mentioned the recent media campaign orchestrated against Cuba, to stain the name of the Cuban government and its institution, in connection with the death of a common prisoner due to multiple organ failure.

Wilmar Villar, a prisoner who was serving a four year sentence for disorderly conduct, assault and contempt of authorities, received all kinds of medical care before dying last Thursday of multiple organ failure.

In this respect Fidel urged the Spanish government to hold the United States accountable for what happens in its prisons, the ruthless treatment of millions of prisoners, the ominous practice of the electric chair and the brutal crackdown of anti-corporatism protesters.

Fidel Castro rejected the lies used by Spain and the European Union to attack Cuba and urged them to deal first with their sovereign crisis, if they can, and to solve the chronic unemployment among young people in the depleted region, as he described it. (RHC).

Is Ron Paul being bought? Say it ain't so Joe!

Breaking News: Ron Paul Falls in Line with GOP, Declares Support for War with Iran and Never-Ending War on Islam

In a dramatic reversal of policy, Texas Congressman Ron Paul has announced he will support a preemptive strike on Iran, along with the return of U.S. troops to Iraq, a never-ending war on Islam, and a CIA-led Cuba Spring if elected president in 2012.

A source close to Paul said the previously anti-war candidate had suffered long enough at the polls for his refusal to endorse across-the-board war, and that he would be unveiling his new, more aggressive foreign policy at Thursday evening’s GOP debate, ahead of the Florida primary next week.

More..

------

JG: Is Ron Paul becoming a typical GOP politician? Is he abandoning libertarian and anti-war policies?

Circo Republicano Contra Cuba

Caricatura Progreso Semanal

Circo republicano contra Cuba

The Salamander Wants to Bomb Cuba

Newt Gingrich prepared to bomb Cuba (TheAustralian.com)

* From: AFP
* January 27, 2012 12:00AM

NEWT Gingrich was ahead in the rhetorical war among Republican presidential hopefuls on who could be toughest on Cuba's communist regime, suggesting yesterday that he would bomb the island if there were a popular uprising.

The former house speaker and his top rival, ex-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, were engaged in heated campaigning in Florida days before Wednesday's Republican primary. And both were desperately wooing the state's large Cuban-American community, nearly a million strong.

Mr Gingrich was asked to explain comments that if elected, he would "not tolerate four more years of a Cuban dictatorship".

If the US planes bombed Libya, should they do the same with Cuba?

"If there was a genuine, legitimate uprising, we would, of course, be on the side of the people," Mr Gingrich told Spanish-language network Univision.

"In that sense, I don't see why Cuba should be sacrosanct, and we should say, 'Oh, don't do anything to hurt' - you know, we're very prepared to back people in Libya. We may end up backing people in Syria. But now Cuba? Hands off Cuba. That's baloney.
The full digital experience

"People of Cuba deserve freedom."

The audience at the Miami venue where Univision held the interview broke into applause.

Mr Romney said if he were president, he would punish foreign companies doing business in Cuba.

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro dismissed the tough talk. "The selection of a Republican candidate for the presidency of this globalised and expansive empire is . . . the greatest competition of idiocy and ignorance that has ever been heard," he wrote in Cuban media yesterday.

Mr Gingrich also defended himself against accusations of being a hypocrite for criticising then president Bill Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Mr Gingrich spoke out against Mr Clinton at the same time he, as house speaker, was cheating on his wife. He said he wasn't criticising Mr Clinton's relationship with Ms Lewinsky but Mr Clinton's response to it.

"I have never lied under oath, I have never committed perjury, I have never committed a felony," Mr Gingrich said.

------

JG: What a f***ing idiot!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Cuba Issue in Last Night's "Debate"

Jannuary, 24th, 2012

Front Page has reported the following:

About 10% of the Florida primary voters are Cuban-Americans, prompting the moderator to ask Mitt Romney about his stance on the Castro regime and how he’d handle a potential refugee crisis if it were to fall. Romney was applauded, even though the audience was asked to be quiet, when he said he’d first “thank heavens that Castro has gone to his maker.” He sharply criticized President Obama’s softening of America’s policy towards Cuba and praised a democratic activist who died in Cuba while on a hunger strike.

Newt Gingrich was likewise applauded by following that up with saying, “I don’t think Fidel [Castro] is going to meet his maker. He’s going to another place.” Gingrich then won the biggest reaction of the night when he said that he would not tolerate four more years of the Castro dictatorship and would support a “Cuban Spring” by supporting every democratic activist achieve regime change.

Rick Santorum spoke in similar terms and broadened the discussion. He warned of the anti-American alliance that has formed between Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Iran and the “jihadists.” He said that these enemies are elated to have a base only 90 miles off the coast of Florida.

Ron Paul was the lone exception to a policy of regime change towards Cuba. He said that it is not 1962 anymore and that the U.S. should diplomatically and economically engage the Cuban regime, comparing it to how relations have improved with Vietnam.

Jorge Gonzalez' response:

1) Romney, Gingrich and Santorum are professional capitalists who hate Cuba with a passion. If any of them is elected, they could lead our planet to total destrucion.

2) Ron Paul was the only sane person in the rooom. For that reason I "temporarily" changed my voter registration in Florida last December 29 or 30. On January 31st I will be casting my vote for U.S. Representative Ron Paul. On February First or Second I will re-register again as an Independent, who has no party preference.

3) Barack H. Obama is also a failed politician, although I give him credit for having relaxed Cuba travel and remittances (for Cuban-Ammericans) to the island. His "Change You Can Believe In" of 2008 was a sad FRAUD!

4) The "dissident" who died last week in Cuba was a common convicted criminal. He, like Tamayo before him, had a suicide wish. Good ridance for the Cuban people!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Cases of Alan Gross and the Cuban Five

Center For International Policy - Cuba Report

Posted on 01/17/2012 by Center for International Policy

By Salim Lamrani, with contributions from Wayne Smith


The way may be opening for increased U.S.-Cuban ties. The United States has removed all restrictions on Cuban-American travel from the U.S. to Cuba and all limitations on Cuban-American remittances to families on the island. Coming at a time when the Cuban government is encouraging the establishment of small private enterprises, this opens the way for importantly increased ties between the two communities-as one observer put it: “for an inflow of capital from the U.S. to Cuba.”

There is, however, the proverbial “fly in the ointment” and that is the case of Alan Gross, arrested on December 3 of 2009 and since then representing a major obstacle to improved relations–along with the case of the Cuban Five on the other side (but more on that later).

Who is Alan Gross?

Alan Gross is a 61 year-old Jewish U.S. citizen from Potomac, Maryland who is an employee of Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), a subcontractor of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) which itself is a dependency of the State Department. In December 2009, when Gross was about to leave Cuba with a simple tourist visa–after his fifth visit that year–Cuban state security authorities detained him at the International Airport in Havana. An investigation discovered links between him and the internal opposition to the Cuban government. Gross had been distributing among the opposition portable computers and satellite telephones as part of the State Department program for “promoting democracy in Cuba.” [1]

A long-distance communications technology expert, Gross has great experience in the field. He has worked in more than 50 nations and set up satellite communications systems during the military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan to circumvent channels controlled by local authorities. [2]

Possession of a satellite phone is strictly forbidden in Cuba for national security reasons and telecommunications are a state monopoly with competition forbidden. [3]

Aid for the Cuban Jewish Community?

The State Department, demanding the release of the detainee declared, “Gross works for international development and traveled to Cuba to assist the members of the Jewish community in Havana to connect with other Jewish communities in the world.” According to Washington, Gross’ activities were legitimate and did not violate Cuban legislation.[4]

In October 2010, during the annual session of the UN General Assembly, Arturo Valenzuela, then assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, met with Bruno Rodríguez, Cuban minister for foreign affairs, to discuss Gross. This was the most important diplomatic meeting between representatives from both nations since the beginning of Obama’s era. [5]

Alan Gross’ family also said that his frequent trips to the island were to allow the Jewish community in Havana to gain access to the Internet and to communicate with Jews all over the world.[6] His lawyer, Peter J. Kahn, endorsed their words, “His work in Cuba had nothing to do with politics; it was simply aimed at helping the small, peaceful, non-dissident Jewish community in the country. [7]

Gross doubtless had contact with some members of the Jewish community in Cuba. Leaders of the Jewish community in Havana, however, contradict the official U.S. version of his relationship. In fact, leaders of the community affirm they did not know Alan Gross, and had never met with him despite his five visits to Cuba in 2009. Adela Dworin, president of the Beth Shalom Temple, rejected Washington’s statements. “It’s lamentable […]. The saddest part is that they tried to involve the Jewish community in Cuba which has nothing to do with this.”

Mayra Levy, speaker of the Sephardic Hebraic Center, declared she didn’t know who Gross was and added he had never been to her institution. The Associated Press said “the leaders of the Jewish community in Cuba denied the American contractor Alan Gross […] had collaborated with them.” [8] In like manner, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that “the main Jewish groups in Cuba had denied having any contracts with Alan Gross or any knowledge of his project.” [9]

Reverend Oden Mariachal, secretary of the Consejo de Iglesias de Cuba (CIC) [Cuban Council of Churches] which includes the [non-Catholic] Christian religious institutions and the Jewish community in Cuba, confirmed this position at a meeting with Peter Brennan, State Department coordinator for Cuban Affairs. On the occasion of the General Assembly of Churches of Christ in the U.S., held in Washington in 2010, the religious leader rejected Gross’ allegations. “What we made clear is what the Cuban Jewish Community, a member of the Cuban Council of Churches, told us, ‘We never had a relationship with that gentleman; he never brought us any equipment.’ They denied any kind of relationship with Alan Gross.”[10]

In fact, the small Cuban Jewish community, far from isolated, is perfectly integrated in society and has excellent relations with the political authorities in the Island. Fidel Castro, although very critical of Israeli policy in the occupied territories, declared to American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg that in history “no one has been as slandered as the Jews. They were exiled from their land, persecuted and mistreated everywhere in the world. The Jews had a more difficult existence than ours. Nothing can compare to the Holocaust,” he said. [11]

Cuban President Raúl Castro attended the religious ceremony for Hanukkah-the Festival of Lights–at the Shalom Synagogue in Havana, in December 2010. The visit was broadcast live on Cuban TV and published in the front page of newspaper Granma. He took the opportunity to greet “the Cuban Jewish community and the fabulous history of the Hebrew people.” [12]

Moreover, the Cuban Jewish community has all the technological facilities needed to communicate with the rest of the world, thanks to the assistance of other international Jewish entities such as the B’nai Brith and the Cuban Jewish Relief Project, the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), the World ORT, the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) or the United Jewish Committee (UJC); all of it endorsed by the Cuban authorities. [13]

Arturo López-Levy, B’nai Brith secretary for the Cuban Jewish community between 1999 and 2001, and today a professor at Denver University, is also skeptical about the U.S. version of the Gross case. On the subject, he stated, “Gross was not arrested for being Jewish or for his alleged activities of technological aid to the Cuban Jewish community which already had an informatics lab, electronic mail and Internet access before he got to Havana. [The Jews in Cuba] do not gather at a synagogue to conspire with the political opposition because this would jeopardize their cooperation with the government which is needed for their activities: the emigration to Israel program, the Right by Birth project–through which young Cuban Jews travel to Israel every year–or to deal with humanitarian aid. To protect the most important they detach themselves as much as possible from the U.S. programs of political interference on Cuban internal affairs. Gross travelled to Cuba not to work with any Jewish organization but for USAID.” [14]

Wayne S. Smith, chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba from 1979 to 1982 and director of Cuba Program of the Center for International Policy in Washington, said that “in other words, Gross was involved in a program whose intentions were clearly hostile to Cuba, because its objective is nothing less than regime change.” [15]

Illegal Activities According to Cuban Authorities

Cuban authorities suspected Gross of espionage and internal subversion activities. [16]Ricardo Alarcon, president of the Cuban Parliament, declared he had violated the country’s legislation. “He violated Cuban laws, national sovereignty, and committed crimes that in the U.S. are most severely punished.”[17]

Gross, a USAID employee was providing sophisticated communications equipment. The distribution and use of satellite phones is regulated in Cuba and it is forbidden to import them without authorization. On the other hand, Article 11 of Cuban Law 88 reads that, “He who, in order to perform the acts described in this Law, directly or through a third party, receives, distributes or takes part in the distribution of financial means, material or of other kind, from the Government of the United States of America, its agencies, dependencies, representatives, officials, or from private entities is liable to prison terms from 3 to 8 years.” [18]

This severity is not unique to Cuban legislation. U.S. law prescribes similar penalties for this type of crime. The Foreign Agents Registration Act prescribes that any un-registered agent “who requests, collects, supplies or spends contributions, loans, money or any valuable object in his own interest” may be liable to a sentence of five years in prison and a fine of 10,000 dollars. [19]

French legislation also punishes this type of action. According to Article 411-8 of the Penal Code, “the act of exercising on behalf of a foreign power, a foreign company or organization or company or organization under the control of a foreign agent, any act aimed at supplying devices, information, procedures, objects, documents, informatics data or files whose exploitation, spreading, or gathering can by nature attempt against the fundamental interests of the nation is punishable with ten years of imprisonment and a fine of 150,000 Euros.”[20]

On February 4, 2011, the prosecutor of the Republic of Cuba formally accused Alan Gross of “acts against the integrity and independence of the nation,” and demanded a jail sentence of 20 years. On March 12, 2011 Gross was finally sentenced to 15 years imprisonment after his trial.[21] The lawyer for the defense, Peter J. Kahn, expressed his regret that his client was “caught in the middle of a long political dispute between Cuba and the United States.” [22]

The New York Times remembers that Gross “was arrested last December during a trip to Cuba as part of a semi-clandestine USAID program, a service of foreign aid of the State Department destined to undermine the Cuban Government,” The New York paper also indicated that “U.S. authorities have admitted that Mr. Gross entered Cuba without the appropriate visa and have said he distributed satellite telephones to religious groups. [23]

Since 1992 and the adoption of the Torricelli Act, the U.S. openly admits its objective towards Cuba is “regime change” and one of the pillars of this policy is to organize, finance and equip an internal opposition. [24]

USAID, which is in charge of the implementation of the plan, admits that, as part of this program, it finances the Cuban opposition. According to the Agency for the 2009 fiscal year the amount destined for aid to Cuban dissidents was of 15.62 million dollars. Since 1996 a total of 140 million dollars have been dedicated to the program aimed at overthrowing the Cuban government. “The largest part of this figure is for individuals inside Cuba. Our objective is to maximize the amount of the support that benefits the Cubans in the Island.”[25]

The government agency also stresses the following, “We have trained hundreds of journalists in a ten year period and their work is seen in mainstream international media.” Formed and paid by the U.S., they represent, above all, the interests of Washington whose objective is a “regime change” on the island. [26]

From a juridical point of view, this reality in fact places the dissidents who accept the emoluments offered by USAID in the position of being agents at the service of a foreign power, which constitutes a serious violation of the Cuban Penal Code. The agency is aware of this reality and simply reminds all that “nobody is obliged to accept or be part of the programs of the government of the United States.” [27]

Judy Gross, the wife of Alan Gross, was authorized to visit him in prison for the first time in July 2010. [28]She took the occasion to send a letter to Cuban President Raúl Castro in which she expressed her repentance and apologized for the acts of her husband. “I understand today the Cuban Government does not appreciate the type of work Alan was doing in Cuba. His intention was never to hurt your government.” [29]

Judy Gross also accuses the State Department of not having explained to her husband that his activities were illegal in Cuba. If Alan had known that something would happen to him in Cuba, he would not have done that. I think he was not clearly informed about the risks.” [30]

A Way Out?

Clearly, Alan Gross violated the law. Of that there can be no doubt. On the other hand, he seems to have done little harm. His continued incarceration results in no important benefits to the U.S. His release, on the other hand, could be a major step toward improved U.S.-Cuban relations, especially if in the process he were prepared to apologize for his actions.

There is another side to the matter, however, and that has to do with the so-called Cuban Five. Just as the U.S. seems unwilling to move ahead in relations unless there is some movement in the Gross case, so do the Cubans seem reluctant to move without progress in the case of the Cuban Five, who were incarcerated in 1998. They were sent up to the U.S. by the Cuban government to penetrate and develop information about the anti-Castro terrorists groups in Florida after a sequence of bomb attacks against tourist centers in Havana. The idea was then to provide that information to the FBI so that it could take action to halt the exile terrorists. A meeting between representatives of the FBI and the Cubans was held in Havana over several days in June of 1998 and some forty folders of evidence were turned over to the FBI. The Cubans then waited for the U.S. to take action against the terrorists. But none was taken; rather, shortly thereafter, the FBI began arresting the Cuban five. In other words, they arrested those who had provided the evidence rather than the terrorists themselves. The Five were arrested, tried and convicted, though “tried” is not the right word for the trial was a sham. The prosecutors had no real evidence and so fell back on the old standby of trying them for “conspiracy” to commit illegal acts. No evidence, and they were tried in Miami where anti-Castro sentiment had reached such a level with the Elian Gonzalez case that there was no chance of empanelling an impartial jury. Defense lawyers requested a change of venue, but, incredibly, it was denied.

Worst of all was the case of Gerardo Hernandez, who was accused of “conspiracy” to commit murder and given two consecutive life sentences plus fifteen years–this in connection with the shoot down of the two Brothers to the Rescue planes in February of 1996. Never mind that there was no evidence that he was in any way responsible. But there, behind bars, he remains today, mostly in solitary confinement and after all these years not allowed a single visit from his wife.

The injustice in these cases contradicts the reputation of the U.S. for dedication to the rule of law. It must be corrected. Holding these men year after year without real evidence of any crime other than being the unregistered agents of a foreign power was one thing during the Cold War–though unjustified even then. But now, with the Cold War over and every possibility of beginning a new U.S.-Cuba relationship, it becomes morally unjustifiable and counterproductive. It is time surely to undertake a process of reviewing all these cases and then allowing these men to return to their families. One, René Gonzalez, has already been released from prison to serve out his remaining three years on parole, but at the same time, incredibly, not allowed to return to Cuba to be with his wife, who he has not seen in all these years. That, allowing his return, should perhaps be the first step in the process.

And it goes without saying that as the U.S. begins to move in the cases of the Cuban Five, Cuba should release Alan Gross to return to his family.

It should be noted that Alan Gross himself suggested there should be some reciprocal movement in these cases. “Following the recent exchange of the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, Gross was clear that he wants the United States and Cuba to make a similar gesture for him and the Cuban Five,” explained Rabbi David Shneyer, who had visited Gross in Havana. [31]

Salim Lamrani, PhD in Iberian and Latin American Studies of the Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV University, is a professor in charge of courses at the Paris-Sorbonne-Paris IV University and the Paris-Est Marne-la- Vallée University. He is a French journalist, and specialist on the Cuba-United States relations. He has recently published: Etat de siege. Les sanctions economiques des Etats-Unis contre Cuba with a prologue by Wayne S. Smith.

Wayne S. Smith, now director of the Cuba Project at the Center for International Policy, was chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, 1979-1982, and is the author of The Closest of Enemies, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1987.

End Notes

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] Jeff Franks, <>, Reuter, October 24, 2010.

[2] Phillip J. Crowley, <>, op. cit.; Saul Landau, <>, Counterpunch, July 30, 2010. http://www.counterpunch.org/landau07302010.html (site consulted on February 18, 2011).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Phillip J. Crowley, <>, op. cit

[5] Paul Haven, <>, The Associated Press, October 18, 2010

[6] Anthony Broadle, <>, Reuters, October 24, 2010.

[7] Juan O. Tamayo, <>, El Nuevo Herald, February 5, 2011.

[8] Andrea Rodríguez, <>, The Associated Press, December 2, 2010.

[9] Jewish Telegraphic Agency, <>, February 6, 2011.

[10] Andrea Rodrígues, <>, The Associated Press, December 2, 2010.

[11] Jeffrey Goldberg, <> The Atlantic, December 7, 2010. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/09/castro-no-one-has-been-slandered-more-than-tthe-jews/62566/ (site consulted on February 18, 2011).

[12] The Associated Press, <>; Juan O. Tamayo, <>, El Nuevo Herald, December 6, 2010.

[13] Comunidad Hebrea de Cuba, <>. http://www.chcuba.org/espanol/ayuda/quienes.htm (site consulted on February 18, 2011).

[14] Arturo López-Levy, <>, August 2010. http://www.thewashintonnote.com/archives/2010/08freeing_alan_gr/ (site consulted on February 18, 2011).

[15] Wayne S. Smith, <>, Center for International Policy, March 2011. http://ciponline.org/pressroom/articles/030411_Smith_Intelligence_Brief_Gross.htm (site consulted on March 13, 2011).

[16] Paul Haven, <>, The Associated Press, February 19, 2010.

[17] Andrea Rodriguez, <>, The Associated Press, December 11, 2010.

[18] Ley de protección de la independencia nacional y la economía de Cuba (LEY N˚. 88), Artículo 11.

[19] U.S. Code, Title 22, Chapter 11, Subchapter II, § 611, iii <>, § 618, a, 1 <>.

[20] Code Penal, Partie legislative, Livre, Titre Ier, Chapitre I, Section 3, Article 411-8.

[21] William Booth, <>, The Associated Press, February 4, 2011.

[22] Paul Haven <>, The Associated Press, February 4, 2011.

[23] Ginger Thompson, <>, The New York Times, October 24, 2010.

[24] Cuban Democracy Act, Titulo XVII, Artículo 1705, 1992.

[25] Along the Malecon, <>, October 25, 2010. http://alongthemalecon.blogspot.com/2010/10/exclusive-q-with-usaid.html (site consulted on October 26, 2010); Tracey Eaton, <>, El Nuevo Herald, December 3, 2010.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Jessica Gresko, <>, The Associated Press, October 26, 2010.

[29] Anthony Boadle, <>, op. cit. ; Jeff Frank, <>, Reuters, October 24, 2010.

[30]Anthony Boadle, <>, op. cit EFE, <>, February 8, 2011.

[31] Agence France Presse, <> November 8, 2011.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Listen to this Miami Gusanos-Fascists: The New York Times recommends Cuba among the top ten tourist destinations to visit in 2012

Technorati

Author: Miguel Gibson
Published: January 22, 2012 at 6:13 am


The New York Times published a list of 45 destinations worldwide as recommending places to visit in 2012, and at No. 10 is Havana, Cuba. To make the list the prestigious publication valued in particular cultural offerings and tourist services.

The Cuban capital is once more available to Americans. All that stands between the Americans and the sensual streets of Havana are the Straits of Florida, as the Obama administration has expanded the range of travel allowed, quotes the journal.

A growing list of organizations is licensed to operate trips to Cuba, including National Geographic Expeditions, Austin-Lehman and the Center for Cuban Studies. “There are also more flights to Cuba from U.S. cities: Fort Lauderdale and Tampa recently joined New York, Miami and Los Angeles in the list, and Chicago will be added this year."

"The tours include meetings with art historians, and organic farmers among others. Conveniently, new restaurants and cafes, some in beautiful colonial houses, have resurfaced in 2011, "adds the newspaper. Havana is also preparing for its 11th Biennial from May 11 to June 11, attracting more than 100 Cuban and foreign artists", adds the publication.

The journalists from the publication chose a total of 45 emerging tourist destinations in 2012. The top ten are: Panama, Helsinki, Finland, Myanmar, London, Oakland, California, Tokyo, Tanzania, Chilean Patagonia, Lhasa, Tibet, and Havana, Cuba.

The rest of the list is completed by: Moscow, Glasgow, Puebla (Mexico), San Diego (California), Halong Bay (Vietnam), Florence (Italy), St Vincent (Caribbean), Moganshan (China), Birgmingham (UK), Space (yes, oddly enough, but true), Kerala (India), Paraty (Brazil), Koh Rong (Cambodia), Vienna (Austria), Chattanooga (Tennessee), Dakhla (Morocco), Maldives, Malacca (Malaysia), The Algave (Portugal), Tahoe (California), Wales, Antarctica, Uganda, Ukraine, Samana (Dominican Republic), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Chiloe (Chile), Jordan, Crans-Montana (Switzerland), Montpellier (France), Nosara (Costa Rica), South Korea, Lodz (Poland), Dalarna (Sweden) and Portovenere (Italy).

Read more: http://technorati.com/lifestyle/travel/article/the-new-york-times-recommends-cuba/#ixzz1kE2yGipG

------

JG: Watch the Miami Nuts say that the NYT is really the official organ of CPUSA, (Communist Party, USA).

You guys should move to Honduras!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The recent statements of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are an act of colossal cynicism, says Josefina Vidal at Cuba's MINREX

To read her statement, in Spanish, click here.

The Miami Herald Continues to Spread the Lies of Hillary Clinton

It was to be expected. The Miami Herald has always been a mercenary newspaper, only worthy of being used as the recipient of the urination of dogs and cats. The Miami Herald has always been a consistent supporter of the remnants of General Fulgencio Batista in Cuba. The Miami Herald has received funds from the United States government as payment for the lies that they publish about Cuba on a daily basis.

Hillary Clinton wants to convert a common criminal in Cuba into a political "dissident." And she follows the orders that she gets from the Chicago gangster that currently occupies the White House.

For the purpose of keeping one more record of all the lies of the Miami Herald, I am going to publish below the latest diatribe of Hillary Clinton and a gusano ass-kisser by the name of Juan Tamayo.

[Beginning of the garbage and lies]

By Juan O. Tamayo
jtamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com

[URL: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/01/20/2599352/us-reacts-to-cuban-dissidents.html#comment-417140176]

The U.S. State Department Friday deplored the death of Cuban dissident Wilman Villár, “a young and courageous defender of human rights,” and said it “highlights the continuing problem of political repression, and political prisoners, in Cuba.”

Villár’s death Thursday also “underscores the urgent need for greater international scrutiny of Cuba’s human rights record and international monitoring of Cuba’s prisons and prisoner population,” said department spokeswoman Neda A. Brown.

Cuba does not allow the International Red Cross to inspect its prisons.

Brown added that the Villár case “underscores the importance of the president’s (Barack Obama) continued efforts to support the desire of the Cuban people to freely determine their own future.”

“We will continue to support, in the words of the president, ‘pockets of freedom’ in Cuba through Cuban American family visits and remittances, purposeful travel, and humanitarian assistance to dissidents and their families,” she added.

[End of the garbage and lies]

Califican de inaceptables declaraciones de España sobre Cuba

Escrito por Luis Enrique Gonzalez

21 de enero de 2012, 00:03- La Habana, 21 ene (PL) Cuba calificó de inaceptables las declaraciones del gobierno español que no tiene la más mínima autoridad moral para enjuiciar a la nación caribeña.
Cuba condena manipulación en caso de recluso fallecido

Diversos medios de prensa se han hecho eco de declaraciones formuladas por la Vicepresidente del gobierno español del Partido Popular Soraya Sáenz y del Comunicado del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y Cooperación de España, en relación con la muerte del recluso común cubano Wilman Villar Mendoza.

El recluso había sido sancionado por golpear y lesionar en público a su esposa y agredir luego a los agentes de policía que acudieron ante la denuncia de la madre de esta.

Por su parte, la Alta Representante de la Unión Europea para la Política Exterior y de Seguridad Común Catherine Ashton ha dicho que este caso plantea dudas sobre el sistema judicial y penitenciario cubanos.

Consultado por Prensa Latina un funcionario de la cancillería cubana declaró que "es insólito que teniendo el gobierno de España la mitad de sus jóvenes en paro y una alta tasa de asesinatos y violencia contra las mujeres, se gaste dinero en una campaña para presentar una brutal agresión a la esposa como disidencia política".

Asimismo, manifestó además el "enérgico rechazo a estas inaceptables declaraciones, realizadas sin siquiera averiguar o esperar a conocer qué ocurrió realmente".

"Ni al gobierno español ni a la Unión Europea les asiste la más mínima autoridad moral para enjuiciar a Cuba", indicó.

La misma fuente aseveró que "en vez de dedicarse a estas burdas tergiversaciones de la realidad, deberían ocuparse de investigar y sancionar las numerosas muertes en detención que ocurren en sus instituciones, los frecuentes actos de brutalidad policial contra manifestantes que suceden sistemáticamente en España y otros países de la Unión Europea".

También tendrían que investigar "los crímenes y maltratos contra los inmigrantes, los vuelos secretos de la CIA con personas secuestradas y la existencia de cárceles secretas o la participación de sus oficiales en actos de tortura", enfatizó.

(Cubaminrex)

Nota Informativa del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de la Republica de Cuba

(Cubaminrex)

A las 18:45 horas del 19 de enero falleció en Santiago de Cuba el recluso común Wilman Villar Mendoza, en la sala de cuidados intensivos del hospital Clínico Quirúrgico “Doctor Juan Bruno Zayas”, a causa de fallo multi-orgánico secundario a un proceso respiratorio séptico severo, que llevó al paciente a un shock por sepsis.

Esta persona había sido remitida con urgencia el pasado 13 de enero del centro penitenciario “Aguadores”, al hospital provincial “Saturnino Lora”, al presentar síntomas de una neumonía severa del pulmón izquierdo, recibiendo todas las atenciones para este tipo de afecciones, aplicándosele ventilación y nutrición artificial, fluidoterapia, hemoderivados, apoyo con drogas vasoactivas y antibióticos de amplio espectro de última generación.

El hospital clínico quirúrgico “Juan Bruno Zayas”, donde falleció, es uno de los centros hospitalarios de mayor nivel en la región oriental y su sala de terapia intensiva cuenta con una gran experiencia en la atención al paciente grave.

Villar Mendoza residía en el municipio Contramaestre, provincia Santiago de Cuba y cumplía sanción de privación de libertad desde el 25 de noviembre del año 2011, por los delitos de Desacato, Atentado y Resistencia.

El hecho por el que fue sancionado se produjo durante un escándalo público en el que agredió y provocó lesiones en el rostro a su esposa, ante lo que su suegra solicitó la intervención de las autoridades y al acudir agentes de la PNR se resistió y los agredió.

Sus familiares más allegados estuvieron al tanto de todos los procedimientos que se emplearon en su atención médica, además de reconocer el esfuerzo del equipo de especialistas que lo atendió.

En relación con este hecho, desde hace varios días agencias de prensa extranjeras, en particular de Miami, vienen promoviendo una intensa campaña internacional difamatoria, en contubernio con elementos contrarrevolucionarios internos, que presentan a Villar Mendoza como un supuesto “disidente” que falleció tras realizar una huelga de hambre en prisión. Al respecto se disponen de abundantes pruebas y testimonios que demuestran que no era un “disidente” ni estaba en huelga de hambre.

Wilman Villar después de haber cometido el delito, por el cual fue procesado en libertad, comenzó a vincularse con elementos contrarrevolucionarios en Santiago de Cuba, quienes le hicieron creer que su presunta pertenencia a los grupúsculos mercenarios le permitiría evadir la acción de la justicia.

Cuba lamenta la muerte de cualquier ser humano; condena enérgicamente las burdas manipulaciones de nuestros enemigos, y sabrá desmontar esta nueva agresión con la verdad y la firmeza que caracteriza a nuestro pueblo.

Cuba Strongly Condemns Manipulations of Recent Death of Convict

Radio Cadena Agramonte

Havana, Cuba, Jan 21.- Cuba regrets the death of any human being as it strongly condemns crude manipulations by our enemies. By resorting to truth and the firmness of our people, Cuba will dismount this new aggression, reads a note released by the Cuban government exposing details of the death of inmate Wilmar Villar Mendoza.

On January 19, at 18:45 hours, inmate Wilmar Villar Mendoza passed away at the intensive care unit of the Doctor Juan Bruno Sayas Hospital, in the city of Santiago de Cuba. Villar died from a multi-organ dysfunction that followed a severe septic respiratory process that led him into shock by sepsis, the note reads.alt

The inmate had been urgently taken to the Saturnino Lora provincial hospital from the Aguadores penitentiary last January 13, following symptoms of severe pneumonia that affected his left lung. The patient received the treatment corresponding to his condition, which included ventilation, artificial feeding, fluid therapy, blood derivatives, support on active drugs and last generation broad spectrum antibiotics.

The Juan Bruno Zayas hospital, where Villar died, is one of the highest-level health centers in the eastern Cuban province, while its intensive care unit counts on vast experience in treating patients in serious conditions.

Wilmar Villar was a resident of the Contramaestre municipality, Santiago de Cuba province and he was meeting a prison sentence since November 25, 2011 for charges such as defiance against authorities, attack and resistance. His imprisonment came after a public indecency in which he attacked his wife and wounded her in the face, a reason for her mother in law to request the action of local authorities. In the event, Villar posed resistance and attacked the police officers.

Villar´s closest relatives followed all medical proceedings and learned of the efforts by the team of specialists that assisted him.

For some days now, foreign media outlets, particularly in Miami, have promoted an intense international defamatory campaign in relation to this event, in conspiracy with internal counterrevolutionary elements, the note reads. This campaign wants to present Villar Mendoza as an alleged “dissident” who died after having staged a hunger strike in prison. In this respect there are abundant proofs and testimonies that expose that he was neither a “dissident” nor was he on a hunger strike.

Having committed the crime for which he was punished, Wilmar Villar began to get involved with counterrevolutionary individuals in Santiago de Cuba, who made him believe that his alleged relations to mercenary groups would help him evade justice.

The note concludes stressing that Cuba regrets the death of just any human being and strongly condemns the crude manipulations of our enemies, but Cuba will be able to dismount the new aggression by resorting to the truth and the firmness of our people. (Taken from Radio Havana Cuba)

Update About Fake Cohiba Cigars

According to information published in the February 2012 issue of the knowledgeable and respected Cigar Aficionado Magazine, the fake Cohibas that Thompson is peddling out of a Post Office Box, are manufactured in the Dominican Republic. If you go to pages 122 and 123 you will find the coronas cigars.

The real Cohiba, from Cuba, scores at the top of the rating chart with an incredible score of 94. Anything with a 90 or above rating is excellent. (If a cigar ever achieves a rating of 100, it will probably be rolled, by hand, in Cuba).

The price for a real Cuban Cohiba in the United Kingdom is £14.27 British Pounds. At Friday's exchange rate of $1.5489 per £ (as published in the Wall Street Journal), the price in U.S. dollars for a real Cohiba is $22.10.

In contrast, the fake and lower quality Cohibas counterfeited in the Dominican Republic, are given a rating of only 88, and you can buy one for $14.79 U.S. Dollars.

In the corona gordas section (page 124), a real Cuban Cohiba 1966 Edición Limitada 2011 will cost you £38.70 in the United Kingdom, or $59.95 in U.S. Dollars, based on the same exchange rate. This Cuban cigar also rates a 94.

The cigar bands for the real and counterfeit Cohibas are noticeably very different. Artistically, the Cuban made cigar bands for the Cohibas are far superior.

Because of the continued hatred toward Cuba by the American imperialists, under the leadership of both George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama, if you want to purchase a real Cohiba cigar, you will have to travel to a civilized nation that does not have a failed embargo against quality Cuban products. You can't smoke a U.S.-made drone aircraft.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lawyers Request the Extradition to Panama of Luis Posada Carriles and Other Terrorists

Panama, Jan 19 2012 (Prensa Latina) A request for the extradition of the terrorists of Cuban origin Luis Posada Carriles, Guillermo Novo, Pedro Remon and César Matamoros, and Panamanian Jose Hurtado, was filed on Thursday, said lawyer Silvio Guerra.

Those criminals tried to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro at the main hall of the University of Panama, where he was scheduled to speak at the end of an Ibero-American Summit. Hundreds of people would have died if they had succeeded.

In remarks to Prensa Latina, Guerra confirmed that they went today to the Fifth Court of the Criminal Circuit to file the official request of extradition of Posada Carriles and his accomplices and also request that the Foreign Ministry sends it to the US government.

That step has been possible because the Second Court confirmed the ruling of the Fifth Criminal Court through edict notifying eight years imprisonment for Posada Carriles and Jimenez; seven years for Novo Sampol, Remon and Matamoros and four years for Hurtado.

Such a court ruling, with an address by magistrate Secundino Mendieta, resolves the appeal filed by defense lawyers and plaintiffs in favor of the defendants. However, these sentences were not for possession of explosives to assassinate, an outstanding claim.

Guerra said he was aware that international extradition requests filed by Venezuela and Ecuador have also been registered and the United States has never agreed to them, but they will continue insisting.

The plaintiff, who appeared in the trial against the terrorists on behalf of student groups of the University of Panama, added that he is interested in registering the extradition request made by the Panamanian State on the grounds of its jurisdiction and through the Panamanian Foreign Ministry.

Guerra strongly criticized ex President Mireya Moscoso, who met this week with Posada Carriles in Miami, and wondered what can one expect from the person who pardoned people who were to perpetrate a massacre of her fellow country people, mainly students, at the main hall of the University of Panama.

Cubadebate: Solicita abogado panameño extradición de Posada Carriles y otros terroristas

In Spanish: Cuban intelligence agencies knew since 2004 about the subversive activities of Allan P. Gross in the island

Source: Cafe Fuerte

PDF Document (In Spanish) 15 MB, 18 Pages

Publicado el Lunes, 16 Enero 2012 05:37 - Por Wilfredo Cancio Isla

La inteligencia cubana conocía las labores del contratista estadounidense Alan P. Gross desde mediados del 2004, cuando viajó a La Habana con la misión de entregar una cámara de video y medicamentos a un líder masón que resultó ser agente de la Seguridad del Estado.

De acuerdo con la sentencia judicial del caso, el cardiólogo infantil José Manuel Collera Vento, Gran Maestro de la Gran Logia de Cuba, recibió de manos de Gross un paquete enviado por Marc Wachtenheim, director de un proyecto destinado a promover cambios democráticos en la isla con financiamiento del gobierno de Estados Unidos.

Hasta el 2010 Wachtenheim fungió como el director del programa “Iniciativa para el desarrollo de Cuba” de la Fundación Panamericana para el Desarrollo (FUPAD), que recibía fondos de la Agencia de Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo Internacional (USAID).

Testimonio clave

El testimonio de Collera Vento fue clave en el juicio contra Gross, según revela la sentencia. Otro agente destapado por la Seguridad del Estado, Raúl Antonio Capote Fernández, también sirvió como testigo en el proceso contra el contratista, condenado a 15 años de cárcel en marzo del 2011.

El documento -de 18 páginas- señala que Gross “arribó a La Habana el 26 de junio del 2004 y en esta ciudad cumplió el encargo, recibiendo a cambio la suma de 400 dólares estadounidenses aproximadamente, provenientes de los fondos de la FUPAD, cuando días después regresó a Estados Unidos”.

Para esa fecha Collera Vento, el “agente Duarte” devenido luego “agente Gerardo”, rendía ya cuentas a la Seguridad del Estado y conocía de los planes de la FUPAD por boca del propio Wachtenheim.

Collera Vento conoció a Wachtenheim durante una visita a Washington el 2001. En esa oportunidad ambos visitaron el Consejo de Seguridad Nacional y el Departamento de Estado, y se entrevistaron con el entonces subsecretario de Estado, Otto Reich, y Frank Calzón, director del Centro para una Cuba Libre. La visita sirvió también para que Collera Vento recibiera la Medalla de la Libertad del Congreso de Estados Unidos.

La sentencia relata que durante esas reuniones se manifestó abiertamente “la necesidad de poner fin al proceso revolucionario cubano y crear las condiciones para una transición política en Cuba”, y que Wachtenheim le habló de planes para instalar redes informáticas inalámbricas en las logias masónicas de la isla, sin ser detectadas por las autoridades cubanas.

Misión de alta tecnología

Fue Wachtenheim quien en 2007 contactó nuevamente a Gross para que adquiriera equipos de telecomunicaciones de alta tecnología para introducirlos en Cuba, entre ellos un equipo de conexión satelital BGAN.

El equipo BGAN permitía el acceso a internet a través de satélites del operador Inmarsat, obviando los canales nacionales de conexión sin que pudiera ser detectado. Para la adquisición del equipamiento, Gross recibió $5,500 dólares provenientes de las cuentas de FUPAD.

A partir del 2008, Gross se sumó al programa Democracia para Cuba, auspiciado por la empresa Development Alternative Inc (DAI), con sede en Maryland. El proyecto, impulsado por la USAID, buscaba romper el bloqueo del régimen cubano sobre el libre acceso a la información.

En total, Gross realizó siete viajes a Cuba y logró crear tres redes inalámbricas con BGAN en la Comunidad Hebrea de La Habana, la Comunidad Hebrea de Camagüey y la Congregación Hebrea de Santiago de Cuba. Tras la puesta en práctica del proyecto, la remuneración se elevaba a $258,274 dólares.

Representantes de esas congregaciones hebreas brindaron testimonio para la acusación judicial. De acuerdo con la sentencia, Gross les hizo creer que se trataba de una donación para mejorar la comunicación entre la comunidad judía.

Arresto nocturno

El funcionamiento de las redes inalámbricas entre las comunidades judías estimuló la iniciativa de un proyecto similar para las logias masónicas en la isla.

El documento judicial añade que el 2 de diciembre del 2009, Gross se citó con el ciudadano estadounidense Akram Elias, ex Gran Maestro de la Logia Masónica de Washington, para una reunión que se realizaría al día siguiente en el Hotel Nacional de La Habana. En ese encuentro, ambos pretendían ultimar detalles para implementar el plan en instituciones de la masonería cubana.

Pero Gross fue la noche del 3 de diciembre del 2009, un día antes de su regreso a Estados Unidos.

En la sentencia se menciona además la declaración de Capote Fernández, “agente Daniel” de la Seguridad del Estado, quien dice haber recibido un equipo BGAN en abril del 2008. El agente se servía del equipo satelital para comunicarse con Wachtenheim y supuestamente pasarle información de la actualidad cubana.

El BGAN de Capote Fernández se averió y debía ser cambiado, pero Rene Greenwald, asistente de Wachtenheim, lo llamó para advertirle que la persona designada para el reemplazo “había sido detenido en La Habana por haber cometido una serie de descuidos".

Agentes destapados

Collera Vento y Capote Fernández fueron destapados por los órganos de la Seguridad del Estado a través de la serie especial Las razones de Cuba, transmitida por la televisión nacional en marzo del 2011.

A raíz de la detención de Gross, las autoridades cubanas desataron un meticuloso rastreo para tratar de localizar otros equipos BGAN que pudieran haberse introducido en el país burlando los controles de aduana o mediante vías alternativas.

Agencias internacionales de prensa, entidades extranjeras y organismos no gubernamentales acreditados en La Habana fueron objeto del escrutinio de la inteligencia cubana, según testimonios obtenidos por CaféFuerte.

El dictamen judicial refleja además que Judy Gross, esposa del contratista, habría interpuesto una demanda contra la DAI a nombre de su familia, según declaración jurada en poder del tribunal.

El documento contiene una detallada relación de los testigos y expertos interrogados en la causa, así como de los equipos y pertenencias incautados al acusado.

Gross, de 62 años, se encuentra cumpliendo condena en el Hospital Militar "Carlos J. Finlay" de La Habana, afectado por numerosos problemas de salud. Dos representantes de la comunidad judía cubana lo visitaron en ocasión de las celebraciones de Hannukah, a fines de diciembre.

La pasada semana, las autoridades cubanas salieron al paso a un reciente editorial de The Washington Post que exige la liberación inmediata del contratista y afirma que Estados Unidos no debe ceder a la extorsión del régimen de La Habana.

El gobierno de Raúl Castro ha manifestado disposición a buscar una "salida humanitaria" al caso de Gross a cambio de que Washington acceda a excarcelar a los cinco espías cubanos que cumplen largas condenas en Estados Unidos. El Departamento de Estado ha rechazado insistentemente la opción de un canje.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Five years ago, La Loba Feroz, a.k.a. U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, publicly called for the assassination of Cuban leader Fidel Castro

Read the Cuba Journal post, which quotes from the Orlando Sentinel. <--- (Click on the link)

There is no difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party of La Loba Feroz. NATO gangsters, directed and financed by the Democratic Party's Barack Obama, carried out the assassination of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. U.S. voters will get rid of the gangster from Chicago on November 2012.

The Scarabeo 9 Is Already in Front of the Malecón de La Habana


Source: Cubadebate:
El Scarabeo-9 ya está frente al Malecón de La Habana

Update at 5:59 p.m. Jan 19, 2012.


Cuba set to explore offshore as oil rig arrives

By PETER ORSI, Associated Press – 28 minutes ago


HAVANA (AP) — A huge drilling rig arrived Thursday in the warm Gulf waters north of Havana, where it will sink an exploratory well deep into the seabed, launching Cuba's dreams of striking it rich with offshore oil.

The Scarabeo-9 platform was visible from Havana's sea wall far off on the hazy horizon as it chugged westward toward its final drill site about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the capital, and 60 miles (90 kilometers) south of Key West.

Spanish oil company Repsol RPF, which is leasing the rig for about a half-million dollars a day, said it expects to begin drilling within days to find out whether the reserves are as rich as predicted.

"The geologists have done their work. If they've done it well, then we'll have a good chance of success," Repsol spokesman Kristian Rix said by phone from Madrid. "It's been a long process, but now we're at the point where we discover whether our geologists have got it right. It's a happy day."

It's been a long, strange journey for the Scarabeo-9, Repsol and Cuba, a process shadowed at every step by warnings of a possible environmental debacle and decades of bad blood between Cuba and the United States.

The U.S. trade embargo essentially bars U.S. companies from doing oil business with Cuba,

[Cuba Journal Editor: What the U.S. doing is totally illegal, and contrary to International Law. U.S. laws do not have extra-territoriality. The U.S. is not the total ruler of the world. Might does not make right!]


and threatens sanctions against foreign companies if they don't follow its restrictions, making it far more complicated to line up equipment and resources for the project.

Ditto!

To avoid sanctions, Repsol chose the Scarabeo-9, a 380-foot-long (115-meter), self-propelled, semisubmersible behemoth built in China and Singapore and capable of housing 200 workers. The rig qualifies for the Cuba project because it was built with less than 10 percent U.S.-made parts, no small feat considering America's dominance in the industry.

While comparable platforms sat idle in the Gulf of Mexico, the Scarabeo-9 spent months navigating through three oceans and around the Cape of Good Hope to arrive in the Caribbean at tremendous expense.

Even after the rig is in place, the embargo continues to affect just about every aspect.

The Scarabeo-9's blowout preventer, a key piece of machinery that failed in the 2010 Macondo-Deepwater Horizon disaster, is state of the art. But its U.S. manufacturer is not licensed to work with Cuba so replacement parts must come through secondary sources.

It's also more complicated to do things like the maintenance necessary to keep things running smoothly and decrease the chances of something going wrong.

If it does, Cuba would be hard-pressed to respond to a major spill on its own, and getting help isn't as simple as making a phone call to Washington. The embargo would require licenses to be issued for all manner of equipment and services for an emergency response.

Few U.S. companies so far have gotten permission to work with the Cubans in the event of a spill — representing just 5 percent of all the resources thrown at the Macondo blowout, according to an estimate by Lee Hunt, president of the International Association of Drilling Contractors.

Two U.S. companies have received licenses to export capping stacks, crucial pieces of equipment for stopping gushing wells, but related services like personnel and transportation have not been green-lighted, Hunt said.

"So what you have is a great big intelligent piece of iron without a crew," he said. "You can't just drop it on the hole and hope (the spill) will stop. It's not a cork."

Even Tyvek suits worn by cleanup crews cannot currently be exported to Cuba because potentially they could be used for the construction of bacteriological or chemical weapons, Hunt added.

Meanwhile cooperation between the two governments, which often struggle to see eye-to-eye on things as basic as delivering each other's mail, has been only bare-bones.

"With any other country — Mexico, Canada or Russia — we would already have in place agreements between the coast guards of the two countries," said Dan Whittle, Cuba program director for the Environmental Defense Fund. "There would be contingency plans written and publicly available. There already would have been drills, a comprehensive action plan for responding to a spill."

"We don't have that yet."

There has been some movement.

U.S. inspectors examined the rig last week in Trinidad and gave it a clean bill of health, though notably said that did not constitute any certification. And American representatives at a regional oil meeting last month in the Bahamas were left impressed by their Cuban counterparts' openness and willingness to share information.

But the countries' proximity has increased fears of a disastrous spill with the potential to foul not only Cuba's reefs and gleaming, white-sand beaches, but also, swept up by the Gulf Stream, the coast of Florida and the Atlantic Seaboard up to North Carolina.

Curiously, those fears have been cited by people on both sides of the embargo issue: Some say the prospect of environmental disaster shows the U.S. needs to lift the embargo and work with the Cubans in the interest of safety; others say the fact that the trade ban failed to prevent Cuba from drilling shows it needs to be made even tougher.

Some of the harshest criticism has come from Cuban-American members of Congress such as House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who recently accused the Obama administration of dropping the ball on Cuban drilling.

"Oil exploration 90 miles off the Florida coast by this corrupt, unaccountable dictatorship could result in horrific environmental and economic damage to our Gulf Coast communities, in addition to enriching the Castro tyranny," Ros-Lehtinen said.

The exact size of Cuba's offshore reserves, estimated at 5 billion to 9 billion barrels, is still unknown. And production would not come online for years, so any windfall is still on the horizon. But island officials are hopeful of a big strike that could inject much-needed cash into their struggling economy, and they're not asking anyone for permission.

"Cuba is going through its own change regardless of American foreign policy," said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the U.S. Senate who met with Cuban officials in Havana this week on oil and other matters.

"This discovery, or potential discovery, of significant amounts of oil could dramatically change the economy of Cuba, and change the relationship with the United States in small ways and large," Durbin said while visiting Haiti on Thursday.

Associated Press videojournalist Pierre-Richard Luxama in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, contributed to this report.

Mojitos at La Bodeguita del Medio

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Barack Obama Wants to Start a New War

The United States is financially broke and almost bankrupt. But the President of the United States, together with his band of Zionist mercenaries in Israel, wants to start a new and horrible war against a country that has not attacked us, Iran.

WAKE UP AMERICA!

Of all the candidates for POTUS, only one stands out that is decent, honest, and 100% against reckless engagements in new foreign wars. That man is Libertarian U.S. Representative Ron Paul.

Send Barack Obama a message. Your days are numbered! We, the people, do not want a new war.

A vote for Ron Paul is a vote to stop Obama's new reckless war.

Icing on the cake is the fact that Ron Paul is totally opposed to embargoes that do not work (against Cuba) and which do not have the support of the civilized world.

Vote for Ron Raul on the January 31st Primary Election in Florida.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jeffrey Goldberg: It's Time to Remove Cuba From the State Sponsor of Terrorism List

The Atlantic

Jan 17 2012, 9:04 AM ET

It's been curious to me for some time that Cuba, a country that does not sponsor terror groups, is listed by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terror. Cuba's inclusion (there are three other countries on the list, Iran, Syria and Sudan) undermines the seriousness of the list. Cuba is on the list, of course, because Castro-haters in the U.S. want it to be on the list, but it is not intellectually or analytically honest to include Havana. The State Department realizes this, of course, which is why its description of Cuba's "terrorist" activities is written the way it is. From my Bloomberg View column this week:

More...

------

JG: Mr Goldberg forgets to tell his readers that the top two Castro-haters in USA are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who both have been dissapointments and frauds.

Friday, January 13, 2012

USA Capitalist Company Is Peddling Fake Cohibas


An extremely dishonest U.S. company named Thompson & Co. Inc. is offering fake Cohiba cigars in the printed January 16, 2012, issue of Fortune Magazine. Their quarter-page display advertising (see above) appears in the next-to-the-last page of that issue.

We already have one dishonest capitalist company, Bacardi, selling fake Havana Club rum. Now, a second dishonest capitalist company has joined the peddling of fake Cuban products.

Making money is the most important thing for capitalists. It does not matter to them if what they are doing is immoral, illegal, unethical or criminal. The end justifies the means.

World-wide connoisseurs of rum and cigars know that the REAL Havana Club rum and Cohiba cigars are made only in the Republic of Cuba.

Thank to the efforts of George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama, who have continued the failed economic embargo/blockade of Cuban products, dishonest companies like Thompson and Bacardi peddle counterfeit products to those who belong to the “There is a sucker born every minute” crowd.

I feel very sorry for the honest Americans who continue to be screwed by the capitalist marketers of fake products.

Grandpa's Gang of Six



My six grandchildren on the 2012 New Year's Weekend