Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Alfredo Despaigne's Home Run #27 in Cuba's 51 National Series



He has 27 home runs in 59 games. It is very likely that he will become the new Cuban Home Run Champion. GO ALFREDO!

Rene González Asks Permission to Temporarily Visit Cuba


By: Redaction, AHORA

Tuesday, 28 February 2012 12:22

René González, one of the five Cubans imprisoned in the U.S. and now serving probation in that country, asked a US Court permission to temporarily travel to Cuba to visit his seriously ill brother, AP reported on Tuesday.

Gonzalez's attorney requested a Miami federal court to allow Rene to visit Cuba for two weeks, so he can see his 53-year-old brother, who is in serious condition after battling with lung cancer.

The attorney also says Gonzalez has fully complied with his probation since his release from U.S. prison five months ago. / RHC

The Frozen U.S.-Cuba Relationship

Council on Foreign Relations

Interviewee: Julia E. Sweig, Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies and Director for Latin America Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Interviewer: Brianna Lee, Production Editor, CFR.org

February 28, 2012


Fifty years after the United States enacted an embargo on all trade and commercial transactions with Cuba, relations between the two countries remain at a standstill. Julia E. Sweig, CFR's director of Latin American studies, says the Obama administration has prioritized domestic politics over foreign policy in its relationship with Cuba, even as Cuban President Raul Castro has been "moving in the direction of the kind of reforms that every administration over the last fifty years has called upon Cuba to make." The case of American USAID contractor Alan Gross, currently serving a fifteen-year prison sentence in Cuba on charges of attempting to upend the regime through a U.S.-authorized democracy promotion program, has also heightened tensions, she says. Meanwhile, Sweig adds, Cuba is strengthening ties with global powers like Brazil, as well as the Catholic Church, as the Castro administration seeks to open up new economic and social spaces for its citizens.

We've passed the fifty-year mark of the breakdown of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States. Where do we stand now? Is normalizing relations even remotely on the table on either side?

Let me start by talking about three geographical points on the map that are relevant to the answer. In Washington, the Obama administration, consistent with the approach of the Bush administration, has made a political decision to subordinate foreign policy and national interest-based decisions to domestic politics with respect to its Cuba policy. There is a bipartisan group of members of Congress--Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate--who represent Florida, a state where there are many swing votes that deliver the electoral votes for any president. Those individuals not only deliver votes, but they deliver campaign finance, and generally make a lot of noise, and that combination has persuaded the White House that reelection is more of a priority than taking on the heavy lifting to set the United States on the path of normalization with Cuba for now.

The second point is what's happening in Cuba. It's not realistic to expect the United States to undertake a series of unilateral moves toward normalization; it needs a willing partner. I believe we have one in Havana but have failed to read the signals. Raul Castro has now been in office since the beginning of 2008. Raul holds the reins on both foreign policy and domestic policy, and, domestically, the politics of implementing a fairly wide range of economic and political and social reforms are his priority. In a deal that was coordinated with the help of the Cuban Catholic Church and Spain, he released all of the political prisoners in Cuba. He also is taking a number of steps that imply a major rewriting of the social contract in Cuba to shrink the size of the state and give Cuban individuals more freedom--economically, especially, but also in terms of speech--than we've seen in the last fifty years. He has privatized the residential real estate and car market[s], expanded much-needed agrarian reform, lifted caps on salaries, and greatly expanded space for small businesses. He also is moving to deal with corruption and to prepare the groundwork for a great deal more foreign investment. He's moving in the direction of the kind of reforms that every administration over the last fifty years has called upon Cuba to make, albeit under the rubric of a one-party system. There's a broad range of cooperation--neighborhood security in the Gulf of Mexico, as Cuba has just started drilling for oil, counternarcotics, and natural disasters--between the two countries that is still not happening, and that gives me the impression that the United States has been unwilling to take "yes" for an answer and respond positively to steps taken by Cuba.

The third geographic part of the story is south Florida. When they're polled, the majority of Cuban-Americans say that the embargo has failed, and support lifting the travel ban or loosening the embargo or some steps along that continuum of liberalization and normalization. The one most significant step that Obama did take when he took office was to eliminate the restriction on Cuban-American travel and remittances to Cuba. Cuban-Americans are now voting with their feet. If you go to the Miami airport, you will see thirty, forty flights to Cuba a week just out of Miami. Cuban-Americans are now investing in their families' small businesses on the island. The politics of this are strange because we are told by the Obama administration that we can't rock the boat of the Cuban-American vote, but those very voters are in fact demonstrating that they support a radically different set of policies than, in fact, the Obama administration has supported.

The ongoing case of USAID contractor Alan Gross has stoked tensions between the United States and Cuba. At the heart of the matter is the U.S. democracy promotion program that authorized Gross' travel to Cuba. What impact does this case have on U.S.-Cuba relations?

Precisely because we have no overarching framework for diplomacy in place and no political will to establish it for now, the Alan Gross case casts a huge shadow over U.S.-Cuban relations. The heart of the issue is the context in which those [pro-democracy] programs were being implemented. We have a full-blown economic embargo with extra-territorial dimensions that are felt in the banking and finance world--a very comprehensive and well-enforced sanctions program. The democracy programs sound very mom and apple pie--USAID has them around the world, its officials will tell you. But having them in Cuba is an extraordinary provocation. They were inherited from the previous administration's concept of regime change, and under Obama, they remain largely intact. The programs are purposely kept secret from the American public. There is no public information about the private and not-for-profit subcontractors in the United States and around the world, and Cuban institutions and individuals who may be targets of the programs are likewise not told they are part of such U.S. government programs. The democracy promotion programs have been deliberately politicized in order to provoke, and they have succeeded in provoking.

What's key is the context. There's been no real diplomacy; there's no negotiating framework that I've seen for a very long period of time, and again, that has to do with domestic politics. It's very hard to understand otherwise why this guy's still in jail. The United States has repeatedly asked the Cuban government to release Gross unilaterally, with no commitments on our end. Asking for unilateral gestures, having rebuffed or ignored or failed to read the signals from Cuba, has created this impasse. Having said that, there can be a diplomatic, humanitarian solution, and I see no value to keeping Gross in jail and hope he will be released as soon as possible. But we will need real diplomacy and a framework for negotiating a range of issues both countries care about.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff paid a visit to Cuba recently, and it looks like Cuba's trying to formulate ties with an influential, rising Latin American power. How does this burgeoning relationship between Cuba and Brazil affect Cuba's relationship with the United States.?

Brazil is a regional power and a global power; it plays in a number of spaces well beyond Latin America. In the last couple of years it undertook some major investments, and those investments will grow in Cuba--in infrastructure, in agriculture, in perhaps energy as well, and others. Brazil is clearly stepping into a space where the United States should be, and the United States has made a decision to watch as that happens.

How does Cuba's human rights situation complicate the relationship between those two countries?

It doesn't seem to be complicating it at all. Rousseff--given her own history of having spent three years in jail and being tortured in the 1970s and having worked to make human rights more of a domestic and foreign policy--her presidency has quite a bit of standing with respect to talking to any government, including the Cuban government, about human rights. She was criticized by her own public, especially in the media, a great deal for choosing to have those discussions with Cuba privately. But I would suggest that having a public, browbeating, rhetorical approach has almost always backfired for major heads of state when dealing with Cuba, and if you look at the success that the Catholic Church and the Spanish government had around the political prisoner release, that success derived from a basic fundamental degree of respect, cooperation, and engagement as the framework for the relationship.

The Pope is set to make a highly anticipated visit to Cuba in March. What's the significance of this visit?

Pope John Paul II went to Cuba in 1998, and that was very significant because that was just a few years after a new constitution in Cuba had affirmed the right of religious believers to hold senior positions in government. In the decade-plus that's transpired since, the Catholic Church under Archbishop Jaime Ortega has become the most important provider of social services outside of the state. It has started its own business school; it has opened space for itself and for others for publications, opinion, and debate; it has worked in concert with the Cuban government, especially with Raul Castro, on a very nationalist project of building a more open society in Cuba. This Pope is a different person than Pope John Paul, and it's highly anticipated, but he's coming at a time when already there is substantial change under way in that country. The visit will help the Cuban Catholic Church create space for itself and continue to create space for itself, and signal to the Cuban government that it's an institution that can be relied upon to support the kinds of reforms that the government itself wants to make happen.

It's important to note that the Pope's going to Mexico on this trip, and Mexico's population of practicing Catholics is proportionally much bigger than Cuba's. In Cuba, the syncretic religions are widely practiced. The Catholic Church is an incredibly important institution, but it would be a mistake to think of Cuba the way we do Mexico, as a predominantly Catholic society.

Raul Castro held the First National Conference of the Cuban Communist Party last month. What was he hoping to accomplish?

This conference was preceded by a Party congress in April 2011, and you have to think about both in tandem. The biggest take-away from the Party conference was the formalization of term limits for senior officials in the Cuban government, both elected and appointed. That's a very significant step forward in terms of political reform, given that many of the top leaders in the politburo are over sixty-five and have been working in those positions or other senior positions for their entire careers. It's also an important sign to the junior people who are building their political careers that they're not going to be permanent.

The broader consequences of the congress and the conference were for Raul to continue a process that has been pretty slow and difficult of building a consensus among the longtime beneficiaries of the status quo that the status quo needs to change. One key thing for the Communist Party is to get the Communist Party out of day-to-day government. The party is supposed to be a political party, sort of ideological ballast, but it isn't supposed to be running ministries or having the kind of major role bureaucratically and politically that it's had over the last fifty years.

The other piece is to institute accountability and transparency within the institutions of governance themselves. That process means a radical overhaul of the way things have happened for the last fifty years.

How strong is the Cuban society's desire to move beyond the one-party system?

It's very strong. Public opinion is complicated because on the one hand, Cubans want change and they want much more space--economic space, speech space. I would say political party space, like having a multi-party system, that's not the top priority for Cubans. But what is a top priority is having the opportunity to make good for themselves with the wonderful education they have and to run businesses and to have the state get out of the way, while continuing to provide the basic social services that the entire population has benefited from and gotten so accustomed to.

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JG: On the last question, Julia Sweig is wrong. Cuban society supports both its government and the Partido Comunista de Cuba.

Hugo Chavez - Venezuela

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders: Wall Street greed fueling high gas prices

Wall Street speculation drives up the cost of oil and gas;
Goldman Sachs experts say it pushes prices up by 40%.

By Bernie Sanders, Special to CNN

February 28, 2012 -- Updated 1805 GMT (0205 HKT)>


Editor's note: Bernie Sanders is an independent senator from Vermont. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives and is the longest-serving independent member of Congress in American history.

(CNN) -- Gas prices approaching $4 a gallon on average are causing severe economic pain for millions of Americans. Pump prices spiked 5% in the past month alone. Crude oil prices stood at $108 on Friday, up from only double digits at the beginning of the month.

What's the cause? Forget what you may have read about the laws of supply and demand. Oil and gas prices have almost nothing to do with economic fundamentals. According to the Energy Information Administration, the supply of oil and gasoline is higher today than it was three years ago, when the national average for a gallon of gasoline was just $1.90. Meanwhile, the demand for oil in the U.S. is at its lowest level since April of 1997.

Is Big Oil to blame? Sure. Partly. Big oil companies have been gouging consumers for years. They have made almost $1 trillion in profits over the past decade, in part thanks to ridiculous federal subsidies and tax loopholes. I have proposed legislation to end those pointless giveaways to some of the biggest and most profitable corporations in the history of the world.

But there's another reason for the wild rise in gas prices. The culprit is Wall Street. Speculators are raking in profits by gambling in the loosely regulated commodity markets for gas and oil.

A decade ago, speculators controlled only about 30% of the oil futures market. Today, Wall Street speculators control nearly 80% of this market. Many of those people buying and selling oil in the commodity markets will never use a drop of this oil. They are not airlines or trucking companies who will use the fuel in the future. The only function of the speculators in this process is to make as much money as they can, as quickly as they can.

I've seen the raw documents that prove the role of speculators. Commodity Futures Trading Commission records showed that in the summer of 2008, when gas prices spiked to more than $4 a gallon, speculators overwhelmingly controlled the crude oil futures market. The commission, which supposedly represents the interests of the American people, had kept the information hidden from the public for nearly three years. That alone is an outrage. The American people had a right to know exactly who caused gas prices to skyrocket in 2008 and who is causing them to spike today.

Even those inside the oil industry have admitted that speculation is driving up the price of gasoline. The CEO of Exxon-Mobil, Rex Tillerson, told a Senate hearing last year that speculation was driving up the price of a barrel of oil by as much as 40%. The general counsel of Delta Airlines, Ben Hirst, and the experts at Goldman Sachs also said excessive speculation is causing oil prices to spike by up to 40%. Even Saudi Arabia, the largest exporter of oil in the world, told the Bush administration back in 2008, during the last major spike in oil prices, that speculation was responsible for about $40 of a barrel of oil.

Just last week, Commissioner Bart Chilton, one of the only Commodity Futures Trading Commission members looking out for consumers, calculated how much extra drivers are being charged as a result of Wall Street speculation. If you drive a relatively fuel-efficient vehicle such as a Honda Civic, you pay an extra $7.30 every time you fill your tank. For larger vehicles, such as a Ford F150, drivers pay an extra $14.56 for each fill-up. That works out to more than $750 a year going directly from your wallet or pocketbook to the Wall Street speculators.

So as speculators gamble, millions of Americans are paying what amounts to a "speculators tax" to feed Wall Street's greed. People who live in rural areas like my home state of Vermont are hit harder than most because they buy gas to drive long distances to their jobs.

It doesn't have to work this way. The current spike in oil and gasoline prices was avoidable. Under the Wall Street reform act that Congress passed in 2010, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission was ordered to impose strict limits on the amount of oil that Wall Street speculators could trade in the energy futures market. The regulators dragged their feet.

Finally, after months and months of law-breaking delays, the commission in October adopted a rule. It was a weak version of a proposal that might have put meaningful limits on the number of futures and swaps contracts a single trader could hold. Even the watered-down regulation adopted by the industry-friendly commission was challenged in court. The Financial Markets Association and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association wanted free rein to continue unregulated gambling in the oil markets.

So today, Wall Street once again is laughing all the way to the bank. Once again, federal regulators should move aggressively to end excessive oil speculation. We must do everything we can to lower gas prices so that they reflect the fundamentals of supply and demand and bring needed relief to the American people.

The time for real action is now.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Demuestran el fraude de la popularidad de Yoani Sánchez en Twitter



Salim Lamrani: La Jornada, Mexico:
¿Quién está detrás de Yoani Sánchez?

Venezuela says Chavez fine after Cuba surgery


By Daniel Wallis

CARACAS | Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:39pm EST


(Reuters) - Surgeons removed a lesion from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's pelvis and the socialist leader who has been battling cancer is in "good physical condition" after an operation in Cuba, his vice president said on Tuesday.

Chavez, 57, underwent surgery in Havana after returning to Cuba's capital despite his previous insistence that he had been cured of cancer after two procedures last year that rocked the South American nation he has ruled since 1999.

The latest health setback has fueled fresh doubts about Chavez's health, his ability to campaign for re-election in October and his fitness to govern for another six-year term if he wins.

"President Chavez is in good physical condition. ... The pelvic lesion was extracted completely along with the surrounding tissue," Vice President Elias Jaua told Venezuela's parliament in Caracas, smiling as jubilant supporters applauded and chanted "Chavez will not leave!"

"There were no complications relating to his local organs. ... He is recovering correctly," Jaua added, saying tests would be carried out on the extracted tissue in the coming hours to determine whether the lesion had been malignant.

The vice president did not say what type of cancer Chavez has been fighting. Jaua did not mention any possible follow-up treatment, and did not say when Chavez would return home.

One medical source close to the team that had been treating the president in Venezuela said the surgery on Monday night at Havana's closely guarded Cimeq Hospital had lasted 90 minutes.

Before departing Venezuela on Friday, Chavez said he would need surgery on a probably malignant lesion found in his pelvis, where a large cancerous tumor was removed in June. He has also said he might need radiation treatment after the new operation, raising the prospect of another lengthy convalescence.

"President Chavez appreciates, from his heart, the warm support he has received from the Venezuelan people, as well as the countless expressions of solidarity from men and women all over the world," Jaua said.

Chavez traveled to Cuba for treatment because the communist-led Caribbean island's former president, Fidel Castro, is a close friend and his main political mentor.

According to Chavez, it was Castro who broke the news to him by his hospital bed that he had cancer last June. Chavez has since returned for chemotherapy sessions and medical tests in Cuba, where he is guaranteed privacy and tight security.

RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN

Chavez's health situation could hobble his re-election campaign, when he would normally want to crisscross the South American country during the run-up to the October 7 vote.

He faces opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, a 39-year-old state governor who hopes to woo former Chavez voters with his promise of a Brazilian-style "modern left" government.

Before the announcement that he would need more surgery, opinion polls showed Venezuelans broadly split - a third pro-Chavez, a third pro-opposition and a third undecided.

But the polls indicate Chavez might have a slight edge in voter enthusiasm - attributed to his popularity among the poor and an increase in welfare spending for the most needy.

While the president may get a "sympathy bump" in the polls in the weeks ahead, voter perceptions of weakness - particularly in contrast with Capriles' youthful image - could offset that.

Chavez's latest health problems have pushed the OPEC nation's widely traded bonds higher on investor hopes for a more market-friendly government in the future.

Chavez has avoided grooming a successor and has dominated the political stage himself since his first election win in 1998, so rumors abound as to who from his inner circle could take over if he were to be incapacitated.

None of his closest supporters share his man-of-the-people charisma, or the political and rhetorical talents that have forged his close connection with Venezuela's poor majority.

The opposition has called on Chavez to name a temporary replacement during his recovery, but that is unlikely given that he chose to govern from his hospital bed in Havana during his extended absences last year.

Chavez's new surgery came at a bad time for him, just as Capriles was launching his presidential campaign after thrashing opponents in an opposition primary. He has wished the president a speedy recovery.

Venezuelans are talking about little else than Chavez's health. Some still suspect he may have even invented the cancer to draw sympathy and create the image of a conquering return to fitness, while others speculate he could die within months.

Supporters have been holding vigils for him around the nation. State media has been awash with goodwill messages and old footage of a young and vigorous Chavez.

(Additional reporting by Marianna Parraga, Eyanir Chinea and Diego Ore; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Will Dunham)

¿Que es la CELAC?


La Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños, CELAC, (en portugués: Comunidade dos Estados Latino-Americanos e Caribenhos; en francés: Communauté des États Latino-américains et Caribéens) es un organismo intergubernamental de ámbito regional, heredero del Grupo de Rio y la CALC, la Cumbre de América Latina y del Caribe que promueve la Integración y Desarrollo de los países latinoamericanos.

La Celac fue creada el martes 23 de febrero de 2010 en sesión de la Cumbre de la unidad de América Latina y el Caribe, en la ciudad de Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, México. La I Cumbre de la Celac, con el objetivo de su constitución definitiva y de integración frente a la crisis económica, tuvo lugar en Caracas, Venezuela, los días 2 y 3 de diciembre de 2011. La II Cumbre de la Celac se celebrará en Chile en 2012.

La población total de los países integrados en la CELAC rondaría los 550 millones de habitantes y el territorio una extensión de más de 20 millones de kilómetros cuadrados.

Ver: Wikepedia: CELAC

Cuba's national orchestra plans Tampa Bay concerts for fall

Tampa Bay Times

By John Fleming, Times Performing Arts Critic

Posted: Feb 28, 2012 11:38 AM


Cuba's symphony orchestra will begin its stay in the area with a chamber music concert, including members of the Florida Orchestra, on Nov. 5 at the Cuban Club in Tampa's Ybor City, the old cigar factory district that has deep historic ties to Cuba. On Nov. 7 — the day after the presidential election — the Cuban National Symphony will perform at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.

The concerts in the bay area are part of a U.S. tour by the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba — believed to be the first since the assumption of power by Fidel Castro in 1959 — that starts in Kansas City in October and includes 17 cities in 10 states at this point.

Florida Orchestra officials stress that the Cuban concerts represent more than simply the presentation of a touring orchestra. "We are thrilled that we have the honor of not only presenting this wonderful orchestra in concert, but that their musicians will also be leading master classes in our community and participating in a collaborative chamber music concert featuring musicians from both orchestras," said board chairman Thomas Farquhar in a prepared statement. "The NSOC's additional activities here in the Tampa Bay area are a very natural extension of our cultural exchange."

At the Mahaffey concert, the program will feature Cuban pianist Ignacio "Nachito" Herrera in Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, along with Gershwin's Cuban Rhapsody, Guaguanco by Cuban composer-conductor Guido Lopez-Gavilan and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. The conductors will be music director Enrique Perez Mesa and Lopez-Gavilan.

The chamber music concert program is to be determined. In addition to the concerts, Perez Mesa and members of the National Symphony will offer master classes. Also on hand will be Roberto Chorens, executive director of the NSOC and director of the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory, where the Florida Orchestra quintet members gave master classes during their visit to Havana.

This May, the Cuban cultural exchange proceeds with Perez Mesa making his U.S. debut as guest conductor of the Florida Orchestra in a program that includes Cuban music. Stefan Sanderling, the Florida music director, has been invited to guest conduct the Cuban orchestra in Havana in spring 2013. Cuban guest artists and composers are likely to be featured in Florida Orchestra programs. The ultimate goal is to send the entire Florida Orchestra to Cuba to perform as early as the 2013-14 season.

John Fleming can be reached at fleming@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8716.

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By Douglas Stanglin, USA TODAY

In fall, the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba will begin its first U.S. tour since the Castro revolution, visiting 17 cities, including a chamber music performance at Tampa's famed Cuban Club, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The tour begins in Kansas City in October and tentatively plans to visit 10 states.

The three-day stop in November in the Tampa Bay area, however, will likely be the highlight, because of the performance at the Cuban Club, which was founded by Cuban immigrants in 1899.

Tampa Bay's Florida Orchestra is presenting the Cubans as part of a multiyear cultural exchange with the island nation, which began with a visit to Havana by the orchestra's wind quintet in September.

"They aren't just coming into town, playing a concert and leaving the next morning," orchestra president Michael Pastreich tells the newspaper. "What we're able to do is have a full-fledged residency where we can embrace the Cuban national orchestra into the fabric of our organization and the fabric of our community."

The orchestra, however, is skipping Miami, a hotbed of anti-Castro politics, the newspaper notes.

Cuba: "Para preservar y promover la paz es necesario erradicar todo lo que la amenaza y, en particular, la posibilidad del uso de armas nucleares"

Defiende Cuba en Ginebra el derecho a la paz

GINEBRA, 27 de febrero. — La paz es una condición fundamental para el disfrute de todos los derechos humanos, en particular el de la vida, afirmó aquí el diplomático cubano Juan Antonio Quintanilla.

Al intervenir en la octava sesión del Comité Asesor del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU, el representante antillano declaró que para preservar y promover la paz es necesario erradicar todo lo que la amenaza y, en particular, la posibilidad del uso de armas nucleares.

Quintanilla recordó las recientes reflexiones del líder de la Revolución cubana, Fidel Castro, tituladas La paz mundial pende de un hilo, en las que aborda la "situación política creada en torno a Irán y los riesgos de una guerra nuclear que involucraría a todos, posean o no tales armas".

Ante esa situación resulta cada vez más imperioso avanzar en el objetivo de un desarme general y completo, dijo, y calificó de inaceptable que en el mundo actual se gaste más en medios para hacer la guerra y menos en la promoción del derecho al desarrollo.

Con los recursos que se dedican a los armamentos se podría combatir la pobreza extrema que hoy padecen mil 400 millones de personas en el mundo, alimentar a los más de mil millones de hambrientos y evitar la muerte de 11 millones de niños cada año por hambre y enfermedades prevenibles. También se podría enseñar a leer y escribir a los 759 millones de adultos analfabetos, señaló.

Algunos países, liderados por Estados Unidos, cuestionan la existencia del derecho a la paz, al tiempo que promueven guerras e intervenciones en varias regiones del mundo, criticó.

Cuba —dijo Quintanilla— ha liderado un creciente movimiento en favor de la codificación del derecho a la paz, y en su empeño cuenta con el apoyo de la inmensa mayoría de la comunidad internacional.

A iniciativa de la Mayor de las Antillas, el Consejo de Derechos Humanos ha adoptado varias resoluciones y encomendado al Comité Asesor la redacción de un proyecto de declaración sobre el tema. (PL)

Source: Granma

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JG: Are the war-mongers in imperialist United States and Zionist Israel preparing to launch a nuclear war against Iran? SHAME ON THEM, IF THEY DO!

Cuban Cigar Sales Increased to $401 Million in 2011

By Rosa Tania Valdes

HAVANA, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Cuban cigar sales jumped 9 percent to $401 million in 2011 as spending on luxury items increased in countries with stronger economies, Cuban cigar executives said on Monday.

They said smokers in China, the Middle East, Russia and Brazil helped overcome declining sales in economically troubled Spain and Greece. Still, Spain held on to its position as the top consumer of what are generally considered the world's best cigars.

"We are selling our products in 150 countries, which allows us to compensate to a certain degree for sales declines in some countries with increases in others," said Javier Terres, vice president of Habanos S.A., the worldwide distributor of Cuban cigars.

More...

Monday, February 27, 2012

A "Distinguished Visitor" to Cuba Journal?

Or is Barack Obama and his thugs keeping an eye on what Cuba Journal is doing?

Date: Feb 27

Time: 11:33:33 AM

System:
IE 8.0 WinXP

Location: Washington, District of Columbia, United States Department Of Homeland Security

IP Address: (216.81.94.72)

Page Visited: cubajournal.blogspot.com/2008/06/fifty-years-of-infamous-behavior.html

This information was provided to me by Stat Counter, Dublin, Ireland.

Thank You, St. Patrick's Leprechauns!

1898: A Jingoistic and Interventionist U.S. Republican Senator from Vermont: Redfield Proctor


On March 17, 1898, two weeks after the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor, Vermont Republican Redfield Proctor delivered the findings of his investigative trip to Cuba in a speech to his Senate colleagues. Since 1895, Cuban insurrectionists had been waging a protracted guerrilla offensive against Spain’s occupying forces. Proctor understood the horrors of warfare, having served as colonel of the Fifteenth Vermont Volunteers during the Battle of Gettysburg and, later, as secretary of war for two years under President Harrison. But as became evident during his speech, the wartime sufferings of Cuba’s civilian population under Spanish subjugation shocked even this combat-hardened legislator.

Proctor’s remarks to his fellow senators detailed the atrocities Spanish troops inflicted on their colonial subjects. Spanish general Valeriano Weyler’s policy of reconcentración, in which entire Cuban villages found themselves uprooted and relocated to fortified military encampments, had devastated the local population. Proctor described the conquered region outside Havana as rife with “desolation and distress, misery and starvation.” The lack of food had left “little children . . . walking about with arms and chest terribly emaciated, eyes swollen, and abdomen bloated to three times the natural size.” Cuban doctors confirmed Proctor’s worst fears. Their prognosis for the youngest victims of Spain’s inhumane conduct was “hopeless.” “Deaths in the street have not been uncommon,” said Proctor, before estimating that “out of a population of 1,600,000, two hundred thousand had died within these Spanish forts.” Any hope of eventual recovery appeared unlikely to the senator, as “nearly all the sugar mills have been destroyed.” The New York Times praised Proctor for shining “the clear light of truth upon the actual situation” on the war-torn island.

But Proctor endeavored to do more through his speech than merely detail Spanish crimes against Cuban civilians. He presented his oration as a call to arms for the United States to help the Cuban insurrectionists expel their Spanish oppressors. Unless American forces intervened against Spain, Cubans would never be “free from molestation,” unable to “rebuild their homes, reclaim their tillage plots, which quickly run up to brush in that wonderful soil and clime.” In one counterintuitive rhetorical flourish, Proctor downplayed the gravity of both “the barbarity practiced by Weyler” and the sinking of the Maine. Instead, he cited “the entire native population of Cuba, struggling for freedom and deliverance from the worst misgovernment of which I ever had knowledge” as the “strongest appeal” for American intervention. Like countless optimists who have advocated military ventures with unrealistic post-hostility expectations, Proctor dreamed of a “wonderful prosperity that would surely come with peace and good home rule.” After evicting the Spanish colonial masters, “the large influx of American and English immigration and money” would guarantee Cuba’s recovery in Proctor’s estimation.

Source: Click Here

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JG: In 1898 the nascent American Empire, interfered in the internal affairs of Cuba. They had not been invited by the insurrectionist Independence Fighters. The Yankees did not want a truly independent republic. They wanted and acquired three colonies: Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

On May 20, 1902, the Yankee imperialists proclaimed a new Republic of Cuba to serve their intereses mezquinos. The Yankees ruled Cuba through pliant puppets from that day until January First, 1959, Cuba's true Day of National Liberation.

WikiLeaks and Anonymous Score a Big Hit Against a U.S. Private Inteligence-Gathering Company

The whistle-blower organization WikiLeaks has scored an impressive big hit against the internal computer files of a private U.S. company that goes by the name Stratfor, which is short for Strategic Forces. It is not known if this private organization is a front for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, as the U.S. government moves to privatize just about everything, to ensure huge profits for capitalist companies. The question that we can ask ourselves is "Is the U.S. on the road to corporate Fascism?"

To read more about the story click here.

Fox News is reporting the following:

It cites a Dec. 6, 2011, email from CEO George Friedman to Stratfor analyst Reva Bhalla, on how to exploit an Israeli intelligence informant providing information on the medical condition of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

"[Y]ou have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control ... This is intended to start our conversation on your next phase," the email reportedly reads.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Why the U.S. Government Does NOT Understand the Concept of 'Live and Let Live'?

Choose the best answer to the question, in your humble opinion.

1) It wants to be 'Mother In Law' to the World.'

2) It is just another 'Busy Body' sticking its nose where it has not been invited.

3) It wants to make a 'Fast Buck' out of every person of our planet.

4) It is just another 'Failed Empire.'

5) Like the Third Reich, it feels superior to every race.

6) It has not read 'How to win and influence people.'

6) It is an insecure country.


Contribute your answer!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

U.S. Mercenaries Got What They Deserved on February 1996

Bimotor Cessna Skymaster de los utilizados por la aviación usamericana contra El Salvador y Vietnam, luego entregados a Hermanos al Rescate por orden del presidente George Bush padre tras una gestión de la congresista de la Florida Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Ver: ¿Hubiera podido evitarse el incidente del 24 de febrero?

Friday, February 24, 2012

U.S. Senators Meet Cuba's President and Talk About USAID Covert Agent Allan Gross

ABC News

By PAUL HAVEN Associated Press

HAVANA February 24, 2012 (AP)
A senior U.S. senator met with imprisoned American Alan Gross and discussed the man's case in a long sit-down with Cuban President Raul Castro, but told The Associated Press on Friday that Gross was not likely to be released any time soon.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, said he saw Gross on Thursday afternoon at a Havana military prison. He and Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, later met for 2 1/2 hours with Castro and offered to take Gross back to the United States on their plane.

"You can imagine how far that went," Leahy said in a phone interview. He added that "we have a long way to go" to win Gross's release.

The Maryland native is serving a 15-year jail term for spiriting satellite and other communications equipment onto the island while on a USAID-funded democracy-building program. Cuba considers the programs an attempt to destabilize the government, and Gross was convicted of crimes against the state, not espionage.

The Gross affair has chilled relations between the U.S. and Cuba and short-circuited any chance of rapprochement since President Barack Obama took office.

Leahy said Castro agreed that Gross "was no spy." Gross spoke virtually no Spanish and traveled to Cuba five times under his own name before his arrest in December 2009.

The talks with Castro and the senators was the first high-level meeting between the Cold War enemies since former President Jimmy Carter dined with Castro during a visit to the island in April 2010. Leahy said the late-night meeting was cordial and open.

The senator said Castro brought up the case of five Cuban agents sentenced to long jail terms in the United States, including one who was released last year but has not been allowed to return to Cuba while he serves out three years probation.

Leahy said Castro never explicitly linked Gross' fate with that of the agents, who were jailed in 1998, but "he made it very clear that while we may be concerned for Mr. Gross and have humanitarian reasons to be, they are very concerned about the five (agents) and have humanitarian and family reasons too."

While the agents' case is largely forgotten in the United States, it remains a cause celebre in Cuba, where the government hails the "Cuban Five" as heroes who were only trying to detect and prevent violent attacks against their country by exile groups.

Cuban officials have stopped short of linking the cases, but have said no one should expect the island to free the 62-year-old American in a "unilateral gesture."

Gross's legal appeals have been exhausted, but his family has asked Castro to consider a pardon on humanitarian grounds. Gross, who was portly when arrested in December 2009, has lost about 100 pounds and is now rail thin. His elderly mother and adult daughter are both battling cancer.

Leahy said Gross appeared in reasonably good spirits during the visit, but that he also indicated his two years of detention had taken a toll on his health.

"He obviously wants to leave. He feels that his health has been endangered," Leahy said, adding that he snapped several pictures of Gross to bring back to his wife, Judy.

Cuban state-run media carried images of the meeting between Castro and the senators, though they gave no details of what was discussed. Cuban media said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez was also present.

The senators are part of an American congressional delegation touring Cuba, Haiti and Colombia.

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JG: The answer, my friend, is laying in the wind: Trade The Cuban Five for the U.S. Covert Agent.

Why are we still stuck with failed U.S. policy on Cuba?

By: Sam Webb, Peoples's World

February 15 2012

Over a half century is a long time, but the blockade of Cuba goes on, seemingly with no end in sight. When it was announced in October of 1960, and then tightened by President Kennedy two years later, who ever thought that it would still be in effect 50 years later?

Then and now there is no good justification for this punitive policy. It is against the best interests of the U.S. as well as the Cuban people. Cuba is not a threat either to our security or to the countries of Latin America.

Common sense would seem to dictate a complete reevaluation of our policy, but that has been lacking in Washington.

The blockade - not to mention the other forms of subversion carried out or sponsored by the U.S. - has not toppled the Cuban government in the past and it is safe to say that it won't in the future. Indeed, under the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba, the Cuban people are retooling their form of socialism to make it more effective in the 21st century.

Moreover, in recent years we have normalized our relations with socialist China and Vietnam.

And yet normalization of relations with Cuba seems dead in the water. What explains the tenacity of this retrograde policy?

Now some will argue that the right-wing Cuban emigré community in Miami drives our government's policy toward Cuba. And they are correct, but only up to a point.
To leave matters here obscures the role of the U.S. ruling class.

While the ruling class is not of one mind as far as relations with Cuba are concerned, sections of the ruling elite still oppose even the slightest change in policy - let alone the lifting of the blockade. What they didn't like a half century ago and don't like now is Cuba's decision to exercise its sovereign right to build socialism so close to our shores.

A socialist society oceans and continents away is one thing, but one only 90 miles from Miami is another. It was and is considered a frontal challenge to U.S. dominance in the Americas - a region of the world that we controlled with dollars and gunboats for more than a century. But that era is over.

A new Latin America, inspired by the Cuban revolution, is being born.

Cuba as well as other countries in the region that are pursuing an independent path of development want amicable and equal relations with our government and people, but not at the cost of trading away their patrimony and independence.

The sooner our leaders realize this fact the firmer the ground will be for mutually beneficial interactions between our country and theirs.

It is unlikely that much progress in resetting relations with Cuba will occur in this election year, even if the president were so inclined. The shrill anti-Cuba rhetoric of Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and other Republicans probably militates against any sober and sensible discussion of the issue.

It also underscores the likely turn for the worse in U.S.-Cuba relations if the Republican right gains control of the White House and Congress in the coming election. In fact, if this occurs, even the unthinkable - armed intervention - becomes a possibility.

One thing that the past half century has made clear is that foreign policy can't be left to the politicians, generals, and corporate brass to decide. Too much blood and treasure is at stake. The people must intervene. End the blockade!

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JG: Esteemed Mr. Webb: Today we have in the Oval Office a POTUS that does not have any cojones. He does not want to challenge the ruling elites of U.S. imperialism. Does he fear that if he goes on TV and asks Congresss to repeal the failed U.S. embargo of Cuba, he will end up like JFK, assassinated? Probably.

Barack H. Obama is nothing but a con-man from Chicago. Remember his "new begginging" with Cuba? He is a consumate liar. Instead, he went to the house of gusana Gloria Estefan and collected from right-wing Miami fascists a cool one million dollars. He is a typical U.S. politician. All he cares about is how many green-backs he can put in his own pocket to aid his re-election.

He fooled me in 2008. NOT AGAIN! I will not vote for him in November, 2012.

Se les acaba el tiempo a los dueños de los relojes

por Pedro González Munné *

Hoy en día, cuando en todas partes se cuestiona el mejor lugar para disfrutar de la visa para un sueño, sigo creyendo que éste no lo es y aunque los cubanos seguimos llegando, tal vez por aquello de los beneficios del ajuste, privilegio negado a los negritos de Haití o los indios de Latinoamérica, como tan mal vociferan estos exiliados racistas que nos gastamos en la calle Ocho y sus emisoras.

Sin embargo, estos mismos exiliados, ratas del imperio desde que arribaron a esta ciénaga en los 60, ahora se revuelven contra su propia sangre y califican, al Ajuste Cubano de Ley: "anacrónica e injusta".

¿Por qué? Pues porque el exilio se diluye, sus pretextos de ser emigrados políticos se acaban y se esfuman las subvenciones de decenas de millones de dólares del dinero de los contribuyentes a sus organizaciones de cuatro gatos, destinadas a payolas a periodistas, políticos y pagar programas de radio, páginas de internet e interminables diatribas de octogenarios héroes de la estampida.

Nunca, hasta hoy, se acordaron del privilegio de esa Ley al inmigrante cubano, con residencia legal en Estados Unidos y beneficios desde pagos de seguro social hasta sellos de alimentos, con la posibilidad de hacerse ciudadanos a los cinco años, lo cual no podían obtener otras comunidades de honestas familias, como los nicaragüenses, los venezolanos, mexicanos o centroamericanos -los indios de marras- o los negritos haitianos.

Su gritería se basa, esta vez, en la diferencia con los cubanos nuevos, emigrados de las oleadas a partir de los años 80, los cuales tan pronto legalizan su situación viajan de vuelta a la isla a visitar a sus seres queridos -si el Gobierno cubano les permite la entrada-, lo cual, es su derecho según la constitución norteamericana, al ser residentes legales, o ciudadanos.

Luego de muchos años de ser los preferidos del imperio, los exiliados pierden el lustre de auto declararse titanes de la estampida y también, lo que más les duele en el ocaso de sus vidas, va raleando la payola.

La realidad duele y también el hecho de la osadía del cubano en favor de su Revolución, lo cual no demuestran como dóciles seguidores del palo y la zanahoria -ejemplos frecuentes sobran en Miami-, sino de constructores afanados por un sistema social donde la educación, la salud y la protección son derechos y no promesas de políticos, todo a pesar de la constante amenaza real y un genocida embargo del mayor imperio del mundo.

Por la otra parte, no existe justificación para el control de una burocracia obsoleta y absurda sobre los destinos de un pueblo, o del mantenimiento de figuras -con su justo pedestal en la historia-, pero hoy muestra de atraso y resabio, demostrando en su abstrusa contención a lo nuevo, todo lo contrario de la imagen proyectada por sus acciones pasadas. Triste final del líder, terminar en el apolillado uniforme de pasadas glorias, como blanco del escarnio popular.

Los extremos se tocan y a la vez como cambian las fronteras políticas de uno y otro lado, la apología del inmovilismo, la loa ilustrada por la prebenda y el ocio impuesto al productor, nos convocan al desastre, abonado por aquellos ecos de una estampida cobarde, solidarios contra el pueblo, a los ejemplos de fatiga de quienes fueran, o nunca fueron, los revolucionarios que hoy necesita la Patria.

El imperio no osa invadir a Cuba, no por aquello de tecnologías y prepotencias en demasía, sino porque la estrategia debe contar con la respuesta del tsunami internacional de apoyo a la Revolución cubana y del combate viril de un pueblo constructor de esa sociedad, ni con mucho perfecta o acabada, pero sí la base de las esperanzas, esfuerzos e ideales de todos los cubanos, donde quiera que estemos.

Es hora de enfocar los cañones a los verdaderos enemigos, de adentro y de afuera, del concierto unido con la convocatoria de todos los cubanos desperdigados por el mundo y sobre todo, de escuchar el alerta del poeta que con su verbo, su pluma y su sangre forjó el acero de una Revolución aplazada: levantemos al fin una Nación con Todos y por el bien de todos.

* Director de www.lanacioncubana.com. Cinco libros publicados, uno en edición. Cuatro premios nacionales de periodismo en Cuba, Vanguardia Nacional del Sindicato Nacional de los Trabajadores de la Cultura de Cuba.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cuban Residents in USA to Meet in April

Havana, Feb 23 (Prensa Latina) Washington will host the 1st National Meeting of Cuban Residents in the United States on April 28, convened by the Cuban Interest Section in that city.

The event will bring together representatives of Cubans who reside in the United States and are linked to their country respectfully, aware of the urgency to defend sovereignty and national identity, says a press release published by the Cuban diplomatic section in Washington.

According to the information, posted on Cubadebate website, participants in the event will receive a call and a form of accreditation timely.

The meeting is part of the irreversible normalization of relations between emigres and their homeland, which the Cuban government began implementing during the "1978 Dialogue" and continued with the "Nation and Emigration" Conferences, held in Havana, the document says.

The event will be an opportunity to examine what we have done and the ways and means to continue working together in favor of the normalization of relations between Cuba and its emigres.

It will also discuss the effects of the U.S. hostile policy, the blockade on Cuba and the manipulation of the migration issue, as well as the situation of the "five Cuban antiterrorist fighters" unjustly held in U.S. prisons, concludes the text.

Modificado el (jueves, 23 de febrero de 2012)

NOTA DE PRENSA: I Encuentro Nacional de Cubanos Residentes en los Estados Unidos de América

NOTA DE PRENSA

El 28 de abril de 2012 tendrá lugar en la ciudad de Washington DC, el I Encuentro Nacional de Cubanos Residentes en los Estados Unidos de América, convocado por la Sección de Intereses de Cuba en este país.

Participarán en este evento una representación de nuestros compatriotas que residen en los EE.UU. Su convocatoria y formulario de acreditación se harán llegar oportunamente a los invitados.

Esta importante cita se inscribe dentro del proceso irreversible de normalización de las relaciones de la emigración con su Patria, iniciado por nuestro Gobierno durante el “Diálogo de 1978” y que continuó con las Conferencias “Nación y Emigración”, celebradas en La Habana.

La cita acogerá a los residentes cubanos en Estados Unidos, que se vinculan con su país de manera respetuosa, conscientes de la urgencia de defender su soberanía e identidad nacional.

La reunión brindará la oportunidad de examinar en común, el camino recorrido y las vías y medios para continuar trabajando a favor de la normalización de las relaciones entre la nación y sus emigrados, además de los efectos de la política norteamericana de hostilidad y bloqueo hacia Cuba y su manipulación del tema migratorio, así como la situación de los “Cinco luchadores antiterroristas”, presos injustamente en los EE.UU.

Washington, 22 de febrero de 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lizt Alfonzo Dance Company Continues South African Tour


Cuban News Agency

HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 21 - Cuba’s Lizt Alfonso Dance Company is currently performing in South Africa, as part of its presentations for the centennial of the African National Congress (ANC), celebrated this year.

Before the one-night-stand at the State Theatre of Pretoria, entitled Celebrating the Spirit of Freedom, personalities playing host highlighted at that cultural center the island’s cooperation with Africa, in sectors like health (particularly in the struggle against malaria), education and construction, among others.

They also recalled Cuba’s contribution to the end of the opprobrious racist regime of apartheid, and the cultural bonds uniting the Caribbean nation with that continent, the www.cubaminrex.cu Web site reported.

From February 10th through the 12th, the company, created in 1991 and made up by women dancers, showed its art in Cape Town, in a show that was a genuine expression of the combination of the Spanish and African influences in Cuban culture.

Presentations, which began at the Spier Amphitheatre in Stellenbosch, continued at the Lyric Theatre of Gold Reef City, in Johannesburg, from February 17th through the 19th.

Cuba’s ambassador to that country, Angel Villa, highlighted at the Spier Amphitheatre the importance given by his country to the centennial of the ANC –founded on January 8, 1917- and said that the presence of the Lizt Alfonso company in these celebrations is part of the tribute of the Cuban people to the struggles and victories of its South African brothers.

Baleka Mbete, national coordinator of that political group, the most outstanding leader of which is former President Nelson Mandela (1994-1999), underlined the merits of the dance company and urged South African youngsters to draw inspiration from the example given by Cuba in the development of culture.

No Conditions for Pope on Cuba Trip - Envoy


By Philip Pullella

ROME | Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:15pm IST


(Reuters) - Cuba has not made any demands on Pope Benedict for him to condemn the 50-year-old U.S. embargo on the island when he visits next month but would welcome a new pronouncement if he decides to make it, Cuba's ambassador to the Vatican said on Wednesday.

In a wide-ranging interview, Ambassador Eduardo Delgado Bermudez also said a possible meeting between Benedict and Fidel Castro was not on the programme "for now" but could not exclude it. He said Castro was in "excellent" overall health.

Delgado, 69, said Cuba saw the visit by Benedict as an opportunity to further deepen Church-state relations on the communist island, which have improved tremendously since the historic 1998 visit by Pope John Paul, who condemned the embargo several times.

"Frankly speaking, we have no 'shopping list' for this visit," he told Reuters at the Cuban embassy, near the Vatican.

"We will receive him with respect and appreciation. That is our greatest desire, both of the government and the people of Cuba, and not just the Catholics," he said in Spanish.

The embargo, which marked its 50th anniversary on February 7 and which Cubans call "the blockade", is still the cornerstone of U.S. policy toward the Caribbean island 90 miles (145 km) from Florida, although it has failed to meet its primary objective of undermining the Castro government.

Washington imposed the near-total trade embargo at the height of the Cold War to punish Havana for its support of the Soviet Union and in the hope it would bring an end to communism on the island. Cuba says the embargo has cost the island nearly $1 trillion, a figure many experts consider inflated.

"The position of the Holy See is against the embargo, which is the position of 99.99 percent of humanity," Delgado said, noting that every fall at the United Nations General Assembly, a vast majority of nations backed a resolution condemning it.

"We are not asking anything specific from the pope but if His Holiness feels that there has to be a new pronouncement (on the embargo), he will do it. But Cuba has not made any requests or set any pre-conditions ... we are not asking, we are not begging, we are not soliciting for the help of others," he said.

"It would be welcome it but it's not that we're hoping for it (at all costs)," he said.

FIDEL MEETING?

Last week a senior Vatican official told Reuters that Benedict wanted to see Fidel Castro but it would depend on the health of the 85-year-old leader who ruled Cuba for 49 years before his brother succeeded him in 2008.

At present, the 84-year-old German pope is only scheduled to meet Fidel Castro's younger brother, President Raul Castro, 80, whose formal title is president of the Council of State and president of the Council of Ministers.

Raul Castro is due to welcome the pope at Santiago de Cuba on March 26, hold private talks with him in Havana on March 27, and see the pontiff off when he leaves Havana for Rome on March 28.

But Delgado would not be drawn on the possibility of a meeting between Benedict and Fidel Castro during the trip. "It is not on the programme for now," he said.

Delgado, asked about Fidel Castro's health, denied that he was suffering from cancer.

"Fidel is in good health. His health has improved. Mentally he is in perfect shape. As far as walking and moving about he has difficultly but in general, his health is excellent," Delgado said.

The elder Castro now seldom appears in public, but occasionally meets in private with visiting foreign leaders and writes columns about international affairs.

Cuban state media reported that Fidel Castro took part in a nine-hour session with writers and intellectuals last week.

One purpose of the papal visit is to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Cuba's most famous religious icon, the statue of the Virgin of Charity.

Last month a replica of the statue completed a 16-month pilgrimage around the island that was the first such religious display since the 1950s.

It was another signal of improved relations between the government and the Catholic Church, which were at odds for many years following the 1959 revolution.

Relations began to warm in the 1990s, a process that was aided by John Paul's 1998 visit and intensified in 2010 when the Church brokered a deal with Castro to release political prisoners.

Delgado said John Paul's visit had helped to make Church-state relations on the island "much more fluid" but he did not think there would be any "great surprises" related to the trip, such as in 1998, when the government reinstated Christmas day as a national holiday.

Benedict's visit to Cuba is part of a March 23-28 trip that will take him first to Mexico.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella)

------

JG: The necrophiliacs Miami gusanos will have a heart attack, when they read that Fidel is in good health.

Cuba belongs to the Cubans, not Uncle Sam!


The U.S. embargo is a 50 year old FAILED POLICY!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Spain That Mariano Rajoy Would Like To Go Back To

Mariano Rajoy

Francoist concentration camps
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


During Francoist Spain between 1936 and 1947, several concentration camps were created and coordinated by the Servicio de Colonias Penitenciarias Militarizadas.

Members of these concentration camps were republican ex-combatants, political dissidents, homosexuals and regular convicts. They were used as forced labourers.

List of concentration camps

More than 180 concentration camps were created during Spanish Civil War and the following years. This is a partial list:

Los Merinales concentration camp, Dos Hermanas, Sevilla
La Corchuela concentration camp, Dos Hermanas, Sevilla
El Palmar de Troya concentration camp,n Utrera, Sevilla
Hostal de San Marcos de León concentration camp, 7,000 men and 300 women from 1936 until 1939
Miranda de Ebro concentration camp
Castuera concentration camp
Península de Llevant concentration camp, Mallorca
Formentera concentration camp
La Isleta concentration camp, Gran Canaria
Lazareto de Gando concentration camp, Gran Canaria
Cartuja de Porta Coeli concentration camp, Valencia[1]
Los Almendros concentration camp, Alicante
Albatera concentration camp, Alicante
Pasaje Camposancos – A Guarda concentration camp
Ronda concentration camp, Málaga
Betanzos concentration camp
Horta concentration camp, Barcelona
Poblenou concentration camp, Barcelona
Monasterio de Corbán concentration camp, Santander
Soria concentration camp
Burgo de Osma concentration camp, Soria

Cuba Rejects Spanish Interference

Havana, Feb 20 (Prensa Latina) Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodriguez suggested that Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo mind his country´s business and refrain from interfering in Cuba´s affairs.

Rejecting remarks made by Garcia-Margallo in an interview published in El Mundo newspaper on Sunday, Rodriguez said Spain´s top diplomat used disrespectful expressions referring to human rights and democracy in Cuba, thus interfering in its internal affairs.

"It is not in Cuba where Franco´s admirers are. He would do better by looking around," said a Cuban official note made available to Prensa Latina.

"We express our strongest rejection of those remarks that constitute a new interference in the internal affairs of Cuba," said the Cuban diplomat, noting that Havana is no longer a colonial territory.

"The Spanish minister must recall that for over half a century now we have been a sovereign, independent country which does not accept questions by anyone, particularly by those who try to give us lectures, when in fact they have a glass roof," he said.

The Cuban diplomat said the Spanish government should rather work hard to address the serious problems its society faces, such as the economic crisis and the increase of unemployment affecting more than five million people, mainly youth.

According to the note, he also urged Garcia-Margallo to be concerned about police repression against peaceful demonstrators and the deplorable situation of prisons, among other human rights violations.

sgl/as/rma/et/ro
Modificado el ( lunes, 20 de febrero de 2012 )

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El periódico “El Mundo”, en su edición dominical del 19 de febrero, publicó una entrevista al Canciller de España, José Manuel García-Margallo, quien utilizó expresiones irrespetuosas e injerencistas sobre los derechos humanos y el estado de derecho en Cuba.

Expresamos nuestro más enérgico rechazo a esas declaraciones que constituyen una nueva intromisión en los asuntos internos cubanos. No es en Cuba donde están los admiradores de Franco. Es mejor que mire a su alrededor.

El Ministro español debe recordar que Cuba ya no es una colonia, que somos desde hace más de medio siglo un país soberano e independiente que no acepta cuestionamientos de nadie, y en particular de aquellos que intentan dar lecciones, cuando en realidad tienen el tejado de vidrio. Su gobierno debe más bien ocuparse de dar solución a los graves problemas que enfrenta en su sociedad como la crisis económica, el continuo incremento del desempleo que afecta a más de cinco millones de personas, sobre todo a los jóvenes, la represión policial contra los manifestantes pacíficos, la deplorable situación en las cárceles, entre otras violaciones de los derechos humanos.

CUBA, 20 de febrero de 2012

(Tomado de Cubaminrex)

REPSOL acerca a Cuba y EEUU

La petrolera iniciará una exploración en aguas profundas del golfo de México

El proyecto supone un avance en el diálogo entre Washington y La Habana sobre seguridad petrolera

Miércoles, 25 de enero del 2012

HUGO L. SÁNCHEZ

LA HABANA


Cada metro que la española Repsol perfore en breve en zonas cubanas del golfo de México será, sin proponérselo, un punto a favor de resolver medio siglo de malas caras y retóricas envenenadas entre Washington y La Habana. El destino ha querido que estas aguas, escenario de naufragios y traficantes de personas huyendo de la isla y rechazados en Florida, constituyan una especie de mesa de negociaciones en este mundo donde el petróleo parece decidirlo todo.

El diario Granma y todos los espacios noticiosos de la televisión informaron la semana pasada de que Repsol reiniciará, en los próximos días, la exploración petrolera en aguas profundas de la Zona Económica Exclusiva (ZEE) de 112.000 kilómetros cuadrados.

Repsol, esta vez en asociación con la noruega Statoil y la india ONGC-Videsh, realizó un primer intento de hallar hidrocarburos hace ocho años y es una de las nueve empresas extranjeras con lotes contratados en esa zona. Ahora, el pozo se ubicará 22 millas al norte de la costa cubana, en el bloque de Jagüey. Repsol tiene los derechos para seis de los 59 bloques de la ZEE con reservas calculadas de 5.000 a nueve millones de barriles de crudo.

Manuel Marrero, especialista principal de petróleo del Ministerio cubano de Industria Básica, comentó recientemente: «Todos estamos esperanzados, sin falsas esperanzas tontas, de que existen probabilidades de encontrar yacimientos de petróleo y de gas grandes».

La plataforma semisumergible que se utilizará es la Scarabeo 9, indica el periódico del Partido Comunista. Fabricada en China y Singapur, fue verificada por autoridades cubanas de la seguridad marítima y el medioambiente.

El rotativo omitió que, a solicitud de Repsol, la plataforma fue certificada antes por la Oficina de Seguridad y Legalidad Ambiental del Departamento del Interior y el Servicio de Guardacostas de EEUU. El secretario estadounidense del Interior, Ken Salazar, que se entrevistó en Madrid en junio con Nemesio Fernández Cuesta, director de exploración de Repsol, dijo entonces que la petrolera aceptó «voluntariamente cumplir con las regulaciones de EEUU» en el golfo.

La revisión de la plataforma es, de forma indirecta, el punto más avanzado de Washington y La Habana para dialogar sobre seguridad petrolera toda vez que entre ambos países no existe mecanismo bilateral al respecto.

En el fondo de todo, a favor de un entendimiento entre dos gobiernos enemigos, está el fantasma del mayor desastre en el golfo de México, causado por British Petroleum en el 2010.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

An Open Tweet to Yoani Sánchez

Jorge R. Gonzalez @PolkCubiche

@yoanisanchez #Yoani, how many Yankee Dollars did you get today at USIS en el Malecon de #Cuba?

In reply to Yoani Sánchez

In Spanish: How Cuba's Agent Daniel Infiltrated the CIA

Raúl Capote, el agente Daniel durante la filmación del documental "Las razones de Cuba". Foto: Ismael Francisco

18 Febrero 2012

Hoy en la Feria del Libro, testimonio de un cubano que infiltró la CIA


Por Pedro de la Hoz

Enemigo es un testimonio vívido, real, aleccionador. Su publicación por la Editorial José Martí hará posible que los lectores cubanos y de otras partes del mundo sepan, de primera mano, con cuanta saña desde la Casa Blanca y el Pentágono, el Capitolio y Langley, la Calle C, del North West en Washington (sede del Departamento de Estado) o de la Calle 8 de Miami, se urden planes -ayer, ahorita, en este mismo minuto- para derrocar a la Revolución cubana y volver a sumir al archipiélago en una situación neocolonial.

Su autor, Raúl Capote, aunque habanero, descubrió tempranamente la vocación literaria en Cienfuegos, donde participó en el movimiento de Talleres Literarios y fue miembro de la Asociación Hermanos Saíz. En 1996 ganó el Premio Calendario, de la AHS. Letras Cubanas publicó en 1999 su novela El Caballero Ilustrado y poco después El adversario, con la editorial puertorriqueña Plaza Mayor.

A raíz de comenzar a ser conocido en el ambiente cultural dentro y fuera de la Isla, la inteligencia enemiga, mediante agentes radicados en Cuba bajo el palio diplomático, inició una labor de captación. Ignoraban, sin embargo, los irreductibles principios de Capote. Y menos su desempeño como agente de los Órganos de la Seguridad del Estado.

Esas vivencias se narran en Enemigo. De cómo Raúl Capote se convirtió en Daniel, combatiente de la contrainteligencia de la Revolución, dan cuenta estas páginas, así como de los planes de la CIA para penetrar la intelectualidad, las Universidades del país y los sectores juveniles.

“Precisamente -declaró Capote a Granma- el libro está dedicado a los jóvenes. Espero que contribuya a ilustrar a los lectores, a esclarecer la verdad sobre la labor del enemigo contra Cuba, espero que facilite argumentos a los revolucionarios para el enfrentamiento a las campañas de descrédito, de los medios de prensa al servicio del gobierno de los EE.UU, contra la Revolución; espero que inquiete, que preocupe a los indiferentes, que sea un arma de denuncia y de combate para todos los cubanos que amamos a nuestra Patria y creemos que la construcción de un mundo mejor no es una quimera, no es una utopía, es una necesaria realidad, una razón para luchar hasta el fin”.

(Tomado del diario Granma)

How Big Brother "Do No Evil" GOOGLE violates your right to privacy

Read: "Congressmen Query Google Over Apple Safari Cookie Tracking"

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cuba Beckons: Come On Down!


A reconditioned 1951 Chevy ferries beachgoers to Playa Ancón, “one of the best beaches on Cuba’s south coast.” Photograph by Dmitri Alexander

National Geographic
The Time is Now
Falling for Cuba
By James Vlahos

The Left in Latin America Tells the United States: The Americas Summit Should Include Cuba

Stabroek News

Georgetown, Guyana

Thursday, February 16, 2012

By Stabroek editor

HAVANA, (Reuters) – Officials from the left-leaning ALBA bloc of Latin American countries threw down the gauntlet to the United States yesterday by insisting Cuba participate in April’s Sixth Summit of the Americas in Colombia and asking the host country to invite the communist island.

ALBA, founded in 2004 by Venezuela and Cuba, is a grouping of eight countries that has positioned itself as a counterpoint to U.S. influence in Latin America. ALBA also includes Ecuador, Nicaragua, Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, the Commonwealth of Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

In a meeting of ALBA’s Political Council, the officials put off a decision on a threatened boycott of the summit if Cuba does not attend, saying they would see how the latest U.S.-Cuba dust-up plays out.

Cuba has said it would like to take part in the event, but Washington insists it cannot unless it institutes democratic reforms that permit it to rejoin the Organization of American States, which organized the summit along with host Colombia.

The communist island, tossed from the OAS in 1962 and invited back in 2009, has no intention of rejoining because the OAS “has served, for purposes of domination, occupation and aggression, as a platform for the United States to attack and plunder Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

The United States and Cuba have been at each other’s throats since the Caribbean island’s 1959 revolution, with Washington demanding more democracy and broader human rights for Cuba and Cuba telling the superpower 90 miles (145 km) away to mind its own business.

Cuba’s ability to thumb its nose at the United States for half a century has won it sympathy and admiration in Latin America, which has long felt dominated by Washington.

The Cuba issue has become a headache for Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos because it threatens to scuttle the summit, or at least take the shine off an event the Andean country wants to use to burnish its image after years of internal conflict.

“I don’t think Santos will let this happen. It’s his party and he wants to be a regional leader,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. “It’s hard to do that if you have a divided summit, or a boycott.”

WILL ATTEND IF INVITED

The leaders of 34 countries, including U.S. President Barack Obama, are expected to attend the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia on April 14-15.

Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, trying to balance the demands of the United States and Colombia’s fellow Latin American nations, flew to Cuba last week to discuss the matter with Rodriguez and President Raul Castro, who told her Cuba planned to attend if invited.

In a closing declaration, ALBA’s Political Council said Colombia “has undertaken a consultation process with all the countries of the region on Cuba’s participation.”

It said it would follow closely “the development and results” of the process.

ALBA does not include some of the region’s larger countries, but has become a vociferous and at times effective forum, including in 2009 when its members played an important role in getting Cuba invited back into the OAS.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said at an ALBA summit earlier this month the group should consider not attending the Cartagena summit if Cuba is not invited.

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has been the main promoter of some kind of joint ALBA action on Cuba’s behalf, and yesterday his foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, spoke forcefully about the issue.

“The countries of ALBA ask respectfully but very firmly that our brother government of Colombia invite Cuba to the Summit of the Americas,” he told reporters.

“We don’t want to appear to be threatening to not attend,” Patino said, but he pointed out that “eight countries of America are saying that (Cuba) must be invited.”

The summit in Colombia is a political forum, not an OAS-owned event and therefore the issue of whether Cuba should attend does not apply, he said.

The Political Council, likely setting the stage for another showdown with the United States, also said in its declaration that ALBA would “unequivocally demand” at the summit that the 50-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba be lifted.

“At the end of the day this is very disruptive,” said Shifter. “This would be a tremendous blow and whatever Washington had going on with Latin America would turn off completely,” he added.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

National Ballet of Cuba in Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Credit Where Credit is Due

Jorge R. Gonzalez @PolkCubiche (Twitter)

I give credit to Barack #Obama for making it possible for Cuban-Americans to visit their families in #Cuba as many times as they want.

6:08 PM - 16 Feb 12 via web · Embed this Tweet

Tampa Looks to Cuba for Trade Opportunities

Source: Fox News Latino

Written By Phil Keating

Published February 16, 2012


It is something you just don't hear anywhere else in the United States, especially Florida: Tampa wants to trade with Cuba.

Irrespective of the antagonistic politics involved between the United States and Havana, this is all about economics.

"It is about jobs, and it is about money," says Tampa City Council Chairman Charlie Miranda.

"I can tell you, the Cuban people are warm and friendly," says Stephen Michelini, of the World Trade Center Tampa Bay. Michelini just returned from another trade mission to Cuba, meeting with Communist government leaders and Cuba's Chamber of Commerce President.

Michelini and others are aggressively setting up Tampa Bay to be "The Gateway to Cuba" -- the kind of talk that is politically forbidden in anti-Castro Miami.

“We’re actively marketing in the Cuban governmental agencies to position Tampa so that when the U.S. side changes the regulations, we’ll be in a principal position," says Michelini.

Under the U.S. embargo rules that apply to Cuba, the only trade that is currently legal is agriculture and medical. Much of those shipments south leave the U.S. through the Port of Tampa.

But Tampa Bay leaders are establishing an economic pipeline to the communist island, primarily important person-to-person contacts, which they hope will soon be tapped into a gusher of millions of dollars.

U.S. Embargo on Cuba Turns 50

Tampa's Council, Chamber of Commerce, Port of Tampa leaders, U.S. Representative and substantial Cuban-American population are closely following Raúl Castro's recent liberalizations of Cuban society and the explosion of travel to Cuba under the Obama Administration.

Where under President Bush, Cuban-Americans could only visit relatives in Cuba once every 3 years, today Cuban-Americans can visit the island as often as they can.

And the demand for seats on charter planes to Havana is surging.

Miami leads the country, with about 60 Cuba-bound charter flights a week. Tampa is now the No. 2 U.S. city for Cuban charter flights, with four a week.

Demand in Tampa has been so great, the President of the Chamber says airlines have had to stagger the number of people per flight to make room for all of the gifts and goods they are taking with them.

The only ways for Americans without family connections to travel to Cuba right now are either via universities and museums offering "cultural exchange trips," or illegally sneaking into Cuba through a third country.

But Tampa's Council Chairman believes things are going to change within five years.

The Tampa City Council has sent a friendly greeting to the President of Cuba's National Assembly and invited Cuban diplomats to visit Tampa businesses.

The Port Authority recently held a business seminar on potential trade opportunities. And Tampa-based Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor now champions lifting most if not all restrictions.

In a statement released to Fox News, "Our aim is to create jobs for our small-business owners in historic Ybor City, West Tampa and throughout our community."

Ybor City, northeast of downtown Tampa, was rolling cigars with Cuban tobacco and trading with Cuba long before South Florida and Miami was drained of swamp and developed.

It was in Ybor City that Cuba's José Martí championed independence for the island, and a statue of Martí still stands.

Arthur Savage, President of AR Savage, a longtime family shipping business, not only hopes to tap into Tampa's historic relationship with Cuba, but like other business and political leaders, make Cubans in the near future think of Tampa first, not Miami, or any other U.S. port.

"We think that it would be an economic boom to the region if we could once again help Cuba, in rebuilding it and supplying it, with the material and everything that it needs to get its country back," Savage says. "With the economic downturn that it is, I think everybody ought to be looking at every trade opportunity that there is."

The question of when, exactly, those Cuba trade opportunities open up, depends almost entirely on the Cuban dictatorship, unless U.S. policy unexpectedly changes.

According to the supporters of the U.S. Cuba Embargo, it stays in place until Cuba holds legitimate free and open elections, frees political prisoners and prioritizes human rights.

In the meantime, Tampa Bay is more than delicately getting ready.

Phil Keating is national correspondent for Fox News Channel out of the Miami bureau.

------

JG: GO! TAMPA, GO! Trade between Tampa and Cuba is a win-win proposition.

Guerrillero del Tiempo

Caribbean News

Fidel Castro publishes memoirs...

February 06, 2012


HAVANA, Cuba (ACN) — The leader of the Cuban Revolution and former president of Cuba, Fidel Castro, attended the launch on Friday of his memoirs, a two-volume book titled “Fidel Castro Ruz: Guerrillero del Tiempo” (Fidel Castro Ruz: Guerrilla of Time), at Havana’s Convention Palace.

The book is a compilation, in nearly one thousand pages, of conversations between Castro and writer and journalist Katiuska Blanco. It opens with the Cuban leader’s memories of his childhood and closes in December 1958, just before the triumph of the Revolution.

The presentation took place lasted about six hours, during which Castro greeted personally a number of attendees, among whom were old comrades from the Moncada military action and the Granma expedition.

The volumes were presented by Cuban Culture Minister Abel Prieto and the president of the Association of Cuban Writers and Artists, Miguel Barnet, who recounted some of the anecdotes contained in the book.

The book is a published by the Casa Editora Abril Cuban publishing house and the Federico Engels printers, with photos and drawings by Ernesto Rancaño, who also designed the cover.

Talking with and answering questions from the audience, Castro spoke about a number of things: the battles fought by students in Latin America and the rest of the world over their rights; tremendous scientific discoveries and emerging technologies; the risk of shale gas and the fabulous perspectives of nanotechnology.

Castro told the audience he reads hundreds of press releases every day; devours all the information he gets; follows closely the situation in Venezuela commemorating on February 4 the 20th anniversary of the military uprising led by Hugo Chavez.

He also spoke about the threats hanging over Syria and Iran, while the US and Europe are trying to convince Russia of the “ridiculous” idea that the antimissile shield was established to protect that country from the threats of Iran and North Korea.

Writer Graziella Pogolotti, president of the Alejo Carpentier Foundation, started the round of questions and told Castro that he should continue writing about his experiences as a fighter and his meetings with world personalities.

Castro said he is willing to do everything possible to pass on “whatever he remembers well”, and added: “I’m aware of the importance of writing all of this to pass it on, so that it can be useful.”

In closing the meeting, Castro regretted that time had run out and remarked, “I feel very happy, but I like to collaborate with the doctors. And, just for the record, I don’t do it as an act of courage but as an act of intelligence.”

Source: CSS News

February 16: Fidel Castro Becomes the Prime Minister of Cuba in 1959

Global Grid For Learning

Posted by Jason on February 16, 2011

Fidel Castro became Prime Minister of Cuba on 16 February 1959. He remained in power as Prime Minister, and then as President, for the next 49 years, making him the world’s longest serving political leader.

Fidel Castro was a revolutionary with strong affiliations to the Communist Party. He wanted to eradicate poverty from Cuba and declared the country a socialist republic. A hostile relationship between Cuba and the USA culminated in the threat of an American invasion of Cuba in 1962. Castro responded by allowing the USSR to deploy nuclear missiles on Cuba. The crisis brought the two superpowers to the brink of nuclear war.

Relations between Cuba and the USA remain difficult, with US trade embargos and travel restrictions being used to pressurise Cuba to reform its political system.

JG: Good photo of a young Fidel in 1959. Click on the link to see it.

Cubans have chosen Socialism, (people helping people) over Capitalism, (people screwing people.) It will reform its native brand of Socialism to improve it, not to repeal it. VAS BIEN RAUL!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Barack Obama's extra judicial executions

An extrajudicial killing is the killing of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process. Extrajudicial punishments are by their nature unlawful, since they bypass the due process of the legal jurisdiction in which they occur. Extrajudicial killings often target leading political, trade union, dissident, religious, and social figures and may be carried out by the state government or other state authorities like the armed forces and police.

On September 30, 2011 a drone strike in Yemen killed American citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both individuals resided in Yemen at the time of their deaths. The executive order approving al-Awlaki's death was issued by the Obama administration in 2010 and challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights in that year. The U.S. President issued an order, approved by the National Security Council that al-Awlaki's normal legal rights as a citizen should be suspended and his death should be imposed, as he was a threat to the United States. Al-Awlaki has been supposedly linked[by whom?] to the 2009 Fort Hood Massacre and with the 2009 Christmas Day bomb plot, the attempted destruction of a Detroit-bound passenger-plane.[53] Two weeks after killing of al-Awlaki, the extrajudicial killing of his 16 years old son was also authorized by the Obama administration and carried out.

Source: Wikepedia

JG: The Gangster from Chicago that we have now in the White House loves extra judicial executions, proving one more time, that we are not a nation of laws, but a nation of criminals.