Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Cuba Releases Roster for World Baseball Classic

Escambray Newspaper

HAVANA, Jan 30 (AIN)- Cuba announced its 60-man provisional roster for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) to be held from March 3-20 at stadiums in the United States and Puerto Rico.

The Olympic and World Cup Champion Cubans are scheduled to play their first round games in Group C against Panama, The Netherlands and Puerto Rico on March 8, 9 and 10 in Puerto Rico.

According to the WBC website, the teams must announce their final 30-player roster at least 24 hours before commencement of the tournament. The squads are required to have a minimum of 13 pitchers and three catchers.

The 16-team tournament, which includes both amateur and professional players, is divided into four groups and has US Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association as its main organizers.

The second round will be played from March 12-16 between the top two teams from each group in the opening round of play. Cuba would play its second round games in Puerto Rico. Both the semi finals and finals will be played in San Diego, California on March 18 and 20.

Cubans provisional roster includes the following players: Catchers: Ariel Pestano, Eriel Sanchez, Yulexis La Rosa, Vladimir Garcia and Roger Machado.

Infielders: Joan Carlos Pedroso, Danny Miranda, Loidel Chapelli, Ariel Borrero, Leslie Anderson, Yorelvis Charles, Rudy Reyes, Hector Olivera, Michel Enriquez, Yulieski Gourriel, Amaury Suarez, Vismay Santos, Eduardo Paret, Yorbis Borroto, Juan Carlos Moreno, Luis Miguel Navas.

Outfielders: Carlos Tabares, Osmani Urrutia, Frederich Cepeda, Juan Carlos Linares, Yoandry Urgelles, Alexei Ramirez, Yoennis Cespedes, Yoandy Garlobo, Andy Zamora, Alfredo Despaigne, Dayan Viciedo, Reutilio Hurtado, Serguei Perez Pitchers: Danny Betancourt, Alberto Bisset, Pedro Luis Lazo, Yuneski Maya, Dennis Suarez, Yadel Marti, Yosvany Fonseca, Jonder Martinez, Yulieski Gonzalez, Jose Angel Garcia, Vicyohandry Odelin, Yadier Pedroso, Luis Borroto, Norberto Gonzalez, Adiel Palma, Robelio Carrillo, Valeri Garcia, Alien Mora, Ormari Romero, Luis Miguel Rodriguez, Ubisney Bermudez, Alberto Soto, Israel Soto, Maikel Folch, Vladimir Baños, Yosvany Perez.

The provisional roster is made up of athletes from all Cuban provinces and will be coached by Benito Camacho and Higinio Velez with the assistance of outstanding Cuban baseball figures such as Javier Mendez, Juan Castro, Alexander Ramos, Rey Vicente Anglada and Victor Mesa.

America's prison in Cuba

Mon, January 30, 2006

London Free Press, Canada

CP reporter Beth Gorham recently visited Cuba and the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Here are her impressions of the base that houses one of the world's most notorious prisons.


It's a strange place for an internment camp holding about 500 suspected terrorists. The chain link and barbed wire, the watch towers and the rifles toted by watchful soldiers -- all are at odds with the tropical beauty of Cuba's southeast coast.

When the first prisoners from the war on terrorism were brought to this U.S. naval base four years ago from Afghanistan, they were housed for nearly four months at Camp X-Ray, a gruesome set of outdoor pens that look like large dog kennels.

I picked my way through the abandoned prison, shocked by how primitive it was. The makeshift cells are overgrown with creeper vines and inhabited by small mammals the marines call banana rats.

There are no toilets or sinks; the prisoners were provided with two buckets for waste and they showered in the open without privacy.

Plastic sheets were sometimes lowered for protection from the blazing Cuban sun.

All the cell doors are open and there are still locks on the ground, available to visiting journalists as macabre souvenirs.

There are plywood interrogation huts and a dingy medical building where medics coped with major injuries among prisoners. The old guardhouse holds a wooden box with one lone key dangling from a hook.

Now the prisoners are housed in Camp Delta a few kilometres away. It looks much more like a regular U.S. prison, surrounded by two tall fences with barbed wire in between.

There are five separate concrete structures and a sixth is under construction nearby.

One is a communal, medium-security facility that affords a lot more freedom for detainees likely on their way to being released.

Prisoners wear orange, tan or white uniforms depending on their level of compliance.

News from around the world is posted on the cell blocks, including word of former Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein. There are arrows pointing toward Mecca to guide the Muslim men; they face in that direction to pray five times a day.

In the recreation area, the actual distance to Mecca of 12,793 kilometres is painted on the concrete floor.

Each cell has a Qur'an hanging from the bars in a surgical mask to keep it off the floor, and the hallways have ''prayer cones'' alerting guards they should be quiet as the detainees pray.

The base itself, home to about 8,000 U.S. forces and their families, support staff and people who have requested asylum, looks a lot like a regular town.

There are schools, an outdoor movie park, recreation centres, restaurants and suburban-looking subdivisions of townhouses and large four-bedroom homes with big garages. There's even a Starbucks and a McDonald's.

The beaches are beautiful and filled with coral, a paradise for divers. There's an old lighthouse that's been replaced by a mechanized light overlooking rolling hills that are more green and lush than usual, thanks to a record rainfall last year.

A small shopping mall holds a tourist shop selling T-shirts, ballcaps and mugs.

High on a hill overlooking the base, the prison camp and the sparkling Caribbean, four towering windmills provide about 25 per cent of the base's power.

From there you can see the yellow military commission building, where a handful of detainees, including Omar Khadr, have attended tribunals in a plush hearing room designed to look just like a courtroom.

Just outside town is the infamous line that divides the 116-square-kilometre base from the rest of Cuba, where a fence stretching 27 kilometres is patrolled by more than 100 junior U.S. marines in camouflage uniforms.

They watch their Cuban counterparts on the other side on Humvee patrols or through high-power binoculars from boxy wooden towers strung through the arid, rolling landscape.

It's a barren, lonely area filled with sagebrush and crickets. Every now and then, a vulture circles overhead.

Stadium-like lights have been erected to monitor the area, still an entry point for migrants who brave landmines on the Cuban side to get to the Americans and request asylum.

There's only one break in the fence, at the northeast gate, where the last two Cuban workers allowed on the base still pass each morning to get to their jobs at an auto body shop and an office supply store.

Before the break in diplomatic relations with Communist leader Fidel Castro in the early 1960s, hundreds of Cubans worked on the base. About 900 still collect U.S. pensions delivered monthly by the final pair of employees.


Nickname: Gitmo

Established: 1898 at the end of the Spanish-American War

Ancient history: Christopher Columbus is thought to have spent a night in the bay in 1494, while looking for gold. None was found.

Claim to fame: Oldest U.S. base overseas

Size: 116 square kilometres

Original purpose: Providing support for U.S. navy. The U.S. has continued to occupy the station even though diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States broke off in 1961.

Lease: The U.S. government obtained a perpetual lease on the base on Feb. 23, 1903.

Treaty: In 1934, a treaty reaffirmed the lease and obliged the U.S. to pay $4,085 US a year.

Unhappy landlord: Since coming to power, Communist leader Fidel Castro has only cashed one rent cheque and views the lease as illegitimate. The base has produced its own power and water since Castro cut off supplies.

Current activities: Patrolling waters for drug runners; dealing with migrants who arrive by sea or over the fence line separating the base from Cuban territory

Internment camp: Established on Jan. 11, 2002, for suspected terrorists

Residents: About 8,000, including more than 4,200 marines and members of a task force responsible for detainees; nearly 1,800 mostly Jamaican support staff; civil service personnel; 30 Cubans and one Haitian who have requested asylum.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Barbudos Béisbol

Cuba Calls Posada Carriles Trial a Farse

Escambray Newspaper, Cuba

HAVANA, Jan 30 (PL) -The President of the People's Power Assembly (Parliament), Ricardo Alarcon, considered the process against the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles in the USA a farse.

During an interview to PL, Alarcon analyzed the US government's role in the case of Posada who confessed being the author of the destruction of an airborne Cubana flight airplane in 1976 killing 73 persons and responsible for other bombings.

He is a person who boasted about his terrorist actions in US media and when denying sending him to Venezuela, Washington is sabotaging the bilateral extradition treaty and the Montreal Agreement on illegal acts against civil aviation, said Alarcon.

President George W. Bush´s administration, by assuming this position, is also breaking the 1373 resolution of the UN Security Council, adopted by the USA.

The resolution, approved in the wake of 9-11, prohibits any kind of political justification to deny the extradition of alleged terrorists.

That is the only way to have that kind of crimes punished, but Washington is blocking the way to justice since it is protecting Posada, just as it did with Orlando Bosch, another terrorist, said the Parliament's President.

Recent declassified official documents include CIA, FBI and State Department reports confirming Posada´s and Bosch´s participation in the Cubana flight attack.

In the papers was found a message from the US ambassador in Caracas, Venezuela's capital, a day after the crime, in which he stated the implication of both terrorists in the action and announced his intention of trying to get them out of Venezuela to avoid justice.

This is only explained by the deep relationship between the US government and terrorists and as it may be disclosed in a trial, the trial is avoided.

In his autobiography Posada tells about his crimes and and his origins in the CIA, where he was taught how to kill and trained, said Alarcon.

According to Alarcon, Bush cannot act correctly in this case since he is stained by his collaboration and relations with assassins as part of his historical plans to attack Cuba.

Looky Here... Your U.S. Tax Dollars at Work

Associated Press Writer Sun Jan 29, 6:21 PM ET

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Iraqi money gambled away in the Philippines. Thousands spent on a swimming pool that was never used. An elevator repaired so poorly that it crashed, killing people.

A U.S. government audit found American-led occupation authorities squandered tens of millions of dollars that were supposed to be used to rebuild Iraq through undocumented spending and outright fraud.

In some cases, auditors recommend criminal charges be filed against the perpetrators. In others, it asks the U.S. ambassador to Iraq to recoup the money.

Dryly written audit reports describe the Coalition Provisional Authority's offices in the south-central city of Hillah being awash in bricks of $100 bills taken from a central vault without documentation.

It describes one agent who kept almost $700,000 in cash in an unlocked footlocker and mentions a U.S. soldier who gambled away as much as $60,000 in reconstruction funds in the Philippines.

"Tens of millions of dollars in cash had gone in and out of the South-Central Region vault without any tracking of who deposited or withdrew the money, and why it was taken out," says a report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, which is in the midst of a series of audits for the Pentagon and State Department.

Much of the first audit reports deal with contracting in south-central Iraq, one of the country's least-hostile regions. Audits have yet to be released for the occupation authority's spending in the rest of Iraq.

The audits offer a window into the chaotic U.S.-led occupation of Iraq of 2003-04, when inexperienced American officials — including workers from President Bush's election campaign — organized a cash-intensive "hearts and minds" mission to rebuild Iraq's devastated economy.

But the corruption and incompetence documented in the reports reveal that much of the effort, however well-intentioned, was wasted.

The failure of the rebuilding effort has been borne out most vividly by the rise of a virulent anti-American insurgency that has claimed most of the 2,237 U.S. military lives lost since the war began.

In some cases, auditors could find no trace of cash, much of which came from Iraqi oil revenues overseen by the occupation authority.

"Those deficiencies were so significant that we were precluded from accomplishing our stated objectives," the auditors said of U.S. officials in Hillah being unable to account for $97 million of the $120 million in Iraqi oil revenues earmarked for rebuilding projects.

An October 2005 audit found documentation for the spending of just $8 million of that money.

Negligence proved deadly in at least one case. Three Iraqis plummeted to their deaths in an elevator in the Hillah General Hospital that was certified to have been
replaced by a contractor who received $662,800.

Also in Hillah, occupation officials spent $108,140 to replace pumps and fix the city's Olympic swimming pool. But the contractor merely polished the old plumbing to make it look new and collected his money.

When the pool was filled, the water came out a murky brown and the pool's reopening had to be canceled. The reports did not identify the contractors involved.

Auditors have asked the U.S. ambassador to recover a total of $571,823 that the reports describe as overpaid funds.

In some cases, cash simply disappeared.

Two occupation authority field agents responsible for paying contractors left Iraq without accounting for more than $700,000 each. When auditors confronted their manager and asked where the money was, the manger tried to clear one of the agents through false paperwork.

"This appears to be an attempt to remove outstanding balances by simply washing accounts," the auditor said. The two agents were not identified and there was no
word on whether the pair were referred for prosecution.

One report describes mismanagement of more than 2,000 small contracts in south-central Iraq worth $88 million. Occupation staffers or those they supervised
handed out millions to companies that never submitted required competitive bids or that were paid for unfinished work.

Other examples cited in the reports:

_Only a quarter of $23 million entrusted to civilian and military project and contracting officers to pay contractors ever found its way to those contractors.

_One contractor was paid $14,000 on four separate occasions for the same job.

_Of $7.3 million spent on a police academy near Hillah, auditors could account for just $4 million. They said $1.3 million was wasted on overpriced or duplicate construction or equipment not delivered. More than $2 million was missing.

_U.S. personnel "needlessly disbursed more than $1.8 million" of the estimated $2.3 million spent for renovating the library in the Shiite holy city of Karbala.

_The library contractor delivered only 18 of 68 personal computers called for and did not install Internet wiring or software. The computers worked only as stand-alones.

_The U.S.-led security transition command spent $945,000 for seven armored Mercedes-Benzes that were too lightly armored for Iraq. Auditors were able to account for only six of the cars.

_At one point, several paying agents kept cash inside the same filing cabinet in the Hillah vault. One agent took $100,000 from another's stack of cash to clear his own balance. "This was only discovered because the other paying agent had to make a disbursement that day and realized that he was short cash," the report says

An Excellent Cuban Baseball Website

If you are a baseball fan, and you read Spanish, or are learning Spanish, I recomend a visit to the website of La Federación Cubana de Béisbol Aficionado.

It is included in the Links section on the right side of the page, or just click on the blue link above.


Enero 29, 2006

Por: José Luis Salmerón

Industriales único ganador en domingo trágico para líderes

Industriales volvió a tomar cinco rayas de diferencia con La Habana, cuando barrió a Guantánamo y Santiago de Cuba lo imitó contra La Habana, receta de Pinar del Río sobre Las Tunas y Ciego de Ávila vs. Metropolitanos, propósito en que fallaron Villa Clara y Granma, en tanto Isla cayó ante Camagüey y así tres punteros mordieron el polvo.

Read full Spanish article.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Cubans Honor National Hero Jose Marti

Saturday was the 153rd Anniversary of his Birth.


Havana, January 28 (RHC)-The Cuban people are honoring on Saturday National Hero Jose Marti on the ocassion of the 153rd anniversary of his birth with a number of activities celebrating his life and work.

This morning, some 4 000 Cuban school children marched to the Jose Marti Plaza in Havana to place flowers before his monument.

Work and educational centers across the island also carried out activities in honor of Cuba's most important independence leaders. Cuban students paid homage to Jose Marti with songs, poems, theater and dance performance dedicated to his life and work.

Meanwhile, university students awaited the 153rd anniversary of the National Hero Friday night at the Fragua Martiana cultural institution, located in Central Havana where young Marti was sentenced to forced labor for his independence ideas.

Jose Marti was born in Havana on January 28th, 1853. He dedicated a large part of his life towards Cuba's independence. At 16 years of age he was sentenced to forced labor for his ideas and after a few months of punishment he was deported to Spain where he graduated from Law, Philosophy and Literature.

After living in Mexico and Guatemana between 1875 and 1877, Marti returned to Cuba on September of 1878. He began his work for the island's independence with the support of Cuban emigres in New York, Tampa and Key West.

Jose Marti returned to Cuba and on May 19th, 1895 fell in combat in Dos Rios located in the eastern part of the island.

His death however, was not the end. The mambises (independence fighters) fought strongly against the Spanish army and almost defeated them until the United States got involved in the island's internal conflict.

During the US intervention, Jose Marti's example inspired the ideals of justice and independence during the republic, but above all was the main reason for the attack against the Moncada Garrison, headed by Fidel Castro which opened the way for the island's definitive independence.

Play béisbol: U.S. lifts silly ban on Cuba's participation

Oregon Eugene Register-Guard Editorial


Published: Saturday, January 28, 2006

Some things in life should be off limits to politics. Baseball is one of them.

Not that an occasional politician shouldn't be allowed to throw out the first pitch, although they should get some coaching first so the ball doesn't take five bounces to reach the catcher.

But politicians should be tossed out of the game whenever they try to interfere with decisions such as what countries should be allowed to play in a new international tournament organized by Major League Baseball and its players' union.

Called the World Baseball Classic, the idea is to put America's best players up against those from other nations. Sixteen nations were selected for the 2006 tournament, and fans everywhere were ecstatic about what some regarded as the first genuine World Series.

Enter the politicians. The Bush administration ruled that Cuba, which would have been guaranteed a share of the proceeds, could not participate because of a four-decade-old trade embargo.

It was a foolish, shortsighted decision by an administration that has tightened sanctions against Cuba despite 44 years of evidence that they've only strengthened Fidel Castro's standing at home.

Castro had more to lose than the United States in the tournament. Six years ago, a Cuban team played an exhibition series against the Baltimore Orioles and several top players defected. The U.S. decision gave El Jefe a chance to avoid a similar embarrassment and an opportunity to claim Cuba is being persecuted by the United States.

Last week, the administration finally reversed course on condition that Cuba receive no money. Castro, true to form, said Cuba will participate, even though the U.S. has "stolen many of our best players."

Now, the fledgling tournament is back where it was - and should have remained - before politicians started mucking with it.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

EDITORIALS: Peanuts, Crackerjacks and the Cuba Embargo

Saturday, January 28, 2006


President Bush is a big baseball fan who was once a general managing partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Fidel Castro is a former baseball player who still loves the game.

Baseball is the national pastime in the United States, and it's the national pastime in Cuba.

So we were surprised when the U.S. Treasury Department denied a request by Major League Baseball in December to allow Cuba to send its national team to the inaugural World Baseball Classic because the communist nation's participation would violate the U.S. embargo against Fidel Castro's nation.

Last week, the Treasury Department announced that it would allow Cuba to send a team.

This may not signal a change in the Bush administration's failed policies against the communist-run nation, but it could signal a thaw.

Shortly after he took office, Bush tightened the embargo against Cuba despite growing sentiment in Congress that the sanctions are a relic of the Cold War.

In response, Castro led more than 1 million Cubans on a march in the largest display of anti-American fervor since the 1959 revolution that put him in power.

Throughout Bush's time in the White House, it has been painfully clear that relations between the U.S. and Cuba would never make it to first base even as the Bush administration sought favor with another communist-run nation, China.

Now, even though Bush administration officials deny the Treasury Department's change of heart foreshadows a new approach to Cuba, it seems that baseball has brought the two together.

Castro offered to donate any proceeds from the tournament to victims of Hurricane Katrina, while there are some reports that Bush ordered the Treasury to reverse its decision. It may not be a milestone, but it's first base.

This is a good time for the Bush administration to re-examine its policies toward Cuba.

The U.S. embargo against Cuba has not moved the island nation any closer to democracy or made life any better for ordinary Cubans.

For a man who knows baseball as well as President Bush, he should know when a policy has run out of gas.

Friday, January 27, 2006

US Provocations in Cuba Denounced in Miami

Havana, Janaury 27 (AIN) The alternative press in Miami has denounced the relationship between right wing Cuban-Americans based in southern Florida and the latest provocations against Cuba by the US Interests Section in Havana.

A commentary by Andres Gomez, from Areitodigital.com, said that the actions of the US diplomatic representation -which installed an electronic billboard to spout messages against the Cuban Revolution-- runs contrary to its mission, "although in the end it reflects the ethics of the US government it represents."

After characterizing as utter nonsense the messages on human rights and democracy on the electronic ticker, Gomez added that during the last 47 years "few societies have done as much as Cuba to make the objectives of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a reality.

The Cuban American activist pointed out that the right wing groups based in Miami are attempting to destroy the minimal existing diplomatic ties between Washington and Havana, something they dream would be a prelude to President Bush ordering a military attack on the island.

Andres Gomez concluded by saying that the Cuban government has repeatedly denounced Washington's intentions, and quickly and agilely responded to all the provocations.

Castro Retaliates With Flags

U.S. Mission in Cuba Becomes Lightning Rod for Bilateral Tensions



HAVANA, Cuba, Jan. 27, 2006 — Always-simmering tension between the United States and Cuba has burst out into the open over a news ticker mounted on the U.S. diplomatic mission that beams human rights and democracy messages in big crimson letters into the Havana night.

Cuban President Fidel Castro, after marching more than a million people by the building earlier this week, has ordered construction workers to extend an open-air stage in front of the mission right up to within yards of the gate. He plans to mount huge flags on the stage to block the ticker from view, a construction ministry source said.

The stage is called the anti-imperialist tribunal and was built during the tug of war between the United States and Cuba to have shipwreck victim Elian Gonzalez returned to his father from Miami. The venue is currently used for political and cultural events.

Cuba plans for the flags to fly by Saturday, the birthday of the country's founding father, Jose Marti, leader of the Caribbean island's independence war against Spain.

"We have five days to do this job, working 24 hours a day," a construction worker said on Tuesday when Cuban flag-sporting bulldozers and other heavy construction equipment began ripping up half of the U.S. diplomatic mission's parking lot.

Castro has waxed furious over the electronic sign, which he charges is a gross provocation aimed at torpedoing already fragile bilateral relations.

The sign has featured statements by famous U.S. figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln, but also by those who helped bring down European communism such as former Polish President Lech Walesa.

The United States broke diplomatic relations and imposed economic sanctions on Cuba soon after Castro came to power in a 1959 revolution. Consular-level Interests Sections were established in 1977 to handle visa and other administrative matters. An immigration agreement was signed in 1994 and a few years later the two countries began cooperating to interdict drug smugglers.

Since 2001 Cuba has purchased U.S. food for cash under an exception to the embargo passed in 2000.

"It is clear when they decided to do this outrageous act and they could not have had in mind anything but a provocation to destroy fragile relations," Castro said Wednesday while visiting the construction site.

Castro charged the Bush administration had turned the Interests Section into a command post to "organize and direct the counterrevolution" and funnel money and supplies to his opponents.

President Bush has made no secret of his close political ties with the hard-line Cuban-American establishment in Florida, which advocates an end to all contact with
Cuba and a regime change.

However, Michael Parmly, the top U.S. diplomat in Havana, held a news conference on Thursday to say he found it strange that Cuba was upset by the ticker and to deny the United States was trying to provoke a rupture in relations.

"I see no reason to change what we are doing and we are simply trying to communicate with the Cuban people," he said.

Parmly said it would be a loss for both the Cuban and American people if all ties were ended.

"But we are going to keep trying to communicate with the Cuban people by any means we can," Parmly said, when asked what the United States would do if the electronic sign was blocked.

Muñoz: Cuba no ha exigido seguridad especial

Viernes, 27 de Enero de 2006

Alex Figueroa Cancel

El promotor del Clásico Mundial de Béisbol en Puerto Rico, Antonio Muñoz Bermúdez, dijo ayer que la delegación de Cuba no ha solicitado seguridad especial en el torneo.

Lea el artículo completo de Primera Hora de Puerto Rico
US Organizations Demand End of the Blockade of Cuba

Havana, Jan. 26 (AIN) Representatives of New York's Solidarity-with-Cuba Committee called on participants in the Sixth World Social Forum, underway in Venezuela, to demonstrate to demand the end of the US blockade of Cuba.

The committee, along with anti-interventionist organizations, are planning to demonstrate in Washington on April 9 to demand the halt of hostile actions against Venezuela by the Bush administration, reported the Granma newspaper.

Activities are calling for the normalization of diplomatic relations between Cuban and the US, and the immediate release of the five Cuban men imprisoned in American jails. The demonstrators are expected to urge the government to lift travel restrictions between the two countries as well.

Ike Nohem, a member of New York's committee, said many people in his country support both the Cuban and Venezuelan revolutions and support the cause of the five Cubans imprisoned in the US.

A communique issued by the committee explains that the organization is part of growing opposition to Washington's plans against Cuba and Venezuela. Bush's militaristic party was said not to represent the interests of US working class or young people.

The document points to the effects on the American people by transnational corporation's financial and economic policies which violate the people's democratic rights, reads the statement.

The text highlights the fact that the White House has failed to isolate Cuba and Venezuela, and -- on the contrary -- it is Washington that is being isolated due to its warlike, economic and interventionist policies.
U.S.-Cuba Battle Over Billboard Heats Up

Thu, Jan. 26, 2006

BY GARY MARX, Chicago Tribune

HAVANA - The top U.S. diplomat in Havana on Thursday defended the decision last week to install a huge electronic sign on the facade of the American diplomatic mission with streaming text of news and sayings about freedom.

"What we are trying to do is communicate with the Cuban people," said Michael Parmly, chief of the U.S. Interests Section.

But Cuban President Fidel Castro denounced the sign and other U.S. measures, saying the United States is intent on sparking a diplomatic crisis.

"All of the measures they have taken have the intention of provoking a rupture in these ties, these minimum links, in diplomatic relations," Castro told reporters Wednesday night as he stood outside the Interests Section.

In response, Cuban workers wielding jackhammers and other equipment have begun erecting a huge structure that observers believe is likely to block the sign that transmits messages from figures ranging from Martin Luther King to Abraham Lincoln to President Bush.

Wayne Smith, the former top U.S. diplomat in Cuba during the administration of President Jimmy Carter, said the sign would only further aggravate relations between Cuba and the United States.

"Instead of tackling real issues they are doing this," said Smith. "It's theater of the absurd."

On Tuesday, Castro led a huge government-organized march in front of the Interests Section to protest the ticker and other U.S. actions aimed at Cuba.

U.S. officials turned the ticker on just as Castro was beginning to address the crowd.

"How brave the cockroaches are," Castro said. "It seems that Little Bush must have sent the order."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

15 Year Old Jamaican Girl Will Go to Cuba for Eye Surgery

Read full story at www.jamaica-gleaner.com
More Orwellian 'newspeak' from the Bush administration

In an article published in the Internet, see below, the Voice of America labeled Luis Posada Carriles as an 'anti-Castro activist.' The hypocrisy of the Bush administration has no bounds. Black is white, and war is peace. They argued before an immigration judge that Posada Carriles is merely an "undocumented illegal alien."

Does the Bush administration think that people in the U.S. and the rest of the world are stupid?

The only label that should be given to that piece of scum is: TERRORIST.


US Considering Moving Anti-Castro Activist to Third Country

By VOA News

25 January 2006

U.S. immigration officials say they are considering moving Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles to another country.

The U.S. office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said this week it is moving forward to carry out Mr. Posada's removal from the United States. But it ruled out sending him to Cuba or Venezuela, because he might be tortured there.

Posada's lawyer told a federal court Tuesday his client, a naturalized Venezuelan citizen, should be released while awaiting a decision on whether he will be deported.

That decision is expected by April.

Venezuela and Cuba want the anti-Castro activist extradited to Venezuela, to stand trial for the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976. Cubans staged a huge anti-U.S. rally in Havana Tuesday, to coincide with Posada's court date.

The 77-year-old was arrested in the United States in May, 2005.
Cockroaches Upset

Castro says billboard threatens U.S. ties

January 26, 2006

By Anthony Boadle

HAVANA (Reuters) - President Fidel Castro said on Wednesday the electronic billboard flashing human rights messages from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana threatened the few diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba.

But he said Cuba, which has not had formal diplomatic relations with Washington since 1961, had nothing to lose.

"The only purpose of this garbage is to provoke the destruction of those tenuous links, as if we needed them," Castro told foreign reporters.

The two governments, bitter enemies since Castro came to power in a 1959 revolution, do not have formal diplomatic relations. Interests offices were opened in each other's capital during U.S. President Jimmy Carter's administration. Washington has enforced sanctions against Cuba since 1962.

Castro accused U.S. diplomats of breaking the rules of international diplomacy by funding his opponents and "smuggling" tons of equipment into Cuba in diplomatic pouches, including cameras and radios handed to dissidents.

Cuba, which buys $400 million a year in food imports from the United States under an exception to the U.S. trade embargo, had taken steps to guarantee alternative supplies, Castro said.

The Cuban leader spoke to reporters during a night time visit to workers building a structure in front of the U.S. Interests Section that will apparently block the view of the electronic billboard.

Brigades of workers began the task on Tuesday night, hours after Castro and hundreds of thousands of Cubans marched past the mission to protest the 5-foot-high (1.5-metre) ticker that streams messages across the facade of the Interests Section.

U.S. diplomats said Cuba's communist authorities were building a wall or screen to obstruct the view of the ticker, which displays messages to the Cuban people, news headlines and quotes from Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Lech Walesa.

"Building walls to isolate Cubans from the rest of the world is what the regime knows best," a spokesperson for the Interests Section said.

Cuban officials said they were extending an open-air stage that has been the main venue for political rallies against the United States since 2000.


The ticker across the 25 windows of the fifth floor of the Interests Section on Havana's Malecon waterfront is a new salvo in a decades-old propaganda war between Washington and Havana.

Last year, Cuba set up billboards with pictures of abused Iraqi prisoners at the site in reply to a Christmas decoration displaying the number of dissidents jailed in a political crackdown.

On Tuesday, Castro called U.S. diplomats "cockroaches" and accused the administration of President George W. Bush of seeking a new crisis between the United States and Cuba with "perfidious" provocations.

As Castro spoke from a podium, the U.S. ticker flashed "Conservatives win elections in Canada" and other news headlines in bright letters in full view of the marchers.

The headlines were followed by quotes from Lincoln, Gandhi and Walesa, founder of the Solidarity movement that toppled Poland's communist government and helped bring about the collapse of Soviet control over Eastern Europe.

The ticker began flashing messages on Jan. 16 with the words "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up" from civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 speech.

U.S. diplomats said they wanted to break the "information blockade" or censorship of Cuba's state-run media.
Cuba to play in US for Classic: Castro

Thu Jan 26, 2006 2:07 AM ET

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba will play in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in the United States in March despite the defection of many of its best players to the Major League, Cuban President Fidel Castro said on Wednesday.

Cuba's participation in the 16-nation tournament will still depend on U.S. authorities granting the necessary travel visas, he said.

"Are we going to withdraw? It is they (United States) who decide. We will be there," Castro told reporters in his first comment on the tournament since Washington authorized Cuba, current Olympic champion, to play in the United States.

"Cuba will play well, even though they have stolen many of our good players," Castro said, referring to million-dollar contracts that have lured Cuban baseball talent to the United States.

Read full Reuters report

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Havana Club: El Ron de Cuba

Read about it. Listen to the Music.
Cuba Moves to Block US Electronic Message Board

Wed Jan 25, 2006 12:04 PM ET

By Anthony Boadle

HAVANA (Reuters) - Bulldozers dug up a street in front of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana on Wednesday apparently preparing to block the view of an electronic billboard carrying human rights messages that has angered President Fidel Castro.

Read full Reuters story

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

José Martí and Simón Bolivar Look Down as Activists Rally in Caracas

Members of the Cuban delegation that are attending the 6th World Social Forum listen to Cuban Parliament Speaker, Ricardo Alarcon, not in picture, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Jan.24, 2006. Alarcon accused the U.S. government of protecting Luis Posada Carriles, an anti-Castro militant being held at a U.S. federal detention center in El Paso, Texas, on immigration charges. The pictures in background are of Venezuelan Liberator Simon Bolivar, left, and Cuban hero Jose Marti. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

ABC News

Activists Rally in Caracas Against Iraq

Activists Rally Against Globalization, Iraq War at World Social Forum in Venezuela

By IAN JAMES Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela Jan 24, 2006 — To the beat of drums and trilling whistles, thousands of activists from around the world showed their opposition to globalization and the Iraq war at the opening Tuesday of the World Social Forum backed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The six-day conference got under way in Caracas amid a light drizzle as activists filled a plaza waving banners reading "Stop Bush" and "End the occupation of Iraq" ahead of a giant march.

"There are more poor people than rich people in this world. We need to stop fighting these wars and start focusing on fighting this poverty," said Ivan Rosa, 30, of Philadelphia.

Organizers have said more than 60,000 people are signed up to attend, and tens of thousands more were expected at the forum, about half from outside Venezuela.

American activist Cindy Sheehan called for a stronger global movement against the Iraq war.

"We have to work together as a global community to fight for peace and justice. We're all in it together. It's not just me who has lost a son," said Sheehan, whose son, Casey, was killed in Iraq in 2004.

Sheehan, 48, of Berkeley, Calif., gained international attention when she set up a protest camp near President Bush's Texas ranch last year.

"We really need to stop the imperialist tendencies of countries like the United States and Great Britain," Sheehan told The Associated Press.

Those at the conference included anti-war protesters, Indian leaders, campaigners against free trade and environmentalists who appeared united by their respect for Chavez and opposition to Bush.

Chavez was expected to address activists on the sidelines, soaking up the spotlight as a leading radical voice of the Latin American left. He has recently strengthened ties across South America with left-leaning leaders who have won power in countries from Argentina to Bolivia.

"I've always admired President Chavez for standing up to imperialism and the meddling of the American government in South America," Sheehan said.

Canopies promoting Chavez's social programs for the poor lined a major avenue in Caracas, while a dozen Venezuelan-made military jeeps were on display, along with a tractor made jointly by Iran and Venezuela.

Oliviero Orjuela, a 36-year-old Colombian, said it was inevitable that Chavez would dominate the forum.

"He's the one who has most influenced the alternative vision in Latin America," he said. "Bush embodies the opposite vision the commercial vision that sees the world as a business."

Chavez has used oil profits to funnel millions of dollars into programs for the poor, making him an inspiration for like-minded activists from Canada to Chile.

But organizers emphasized the event was not intended as a rally for Chavez, though it was backed by government funding as in past years.

The World Social Forum was first held in Brazil in 2001 and coincides with the World Economic Forum of political and business leaders, which begins Wednesday in Switzerland.

Those at the Social Forum traditionally criticize free trade and denounce the evils of capitalism. This year's forum is being held in three countries, including a smaller gathering that ended Monday in Mali and another two months from now in Pakistan.

Some 2,000 events including seminars, speeches and concerts will be held across Caracas this week. Speakers include Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, Argentine Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel and former French first lady Danielle Mitterrand.

Stepping up security during the forum, Venezuela deployed 3,500 soldiers and police across Caracas.

Associated Press writer Natalie Obiko Pearson, in Caracas, contributed to this report.
President Jimmy Carter's 2002 Cuba Trip Report

Jimmy Carter receiving his Nobel Prize from Gunnar Berge, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Photo: AP Photo POOL/Bjoern Sigurdson.
Copyright © 2002 Pressens Bild AB, S-112 88 Stockholm, Sweden,
Telephone: +46 (0)8 738 38 00.

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2002
Artist: Ulf Valde Jensen
Calligrapher: Inger Magnus

Read the full report at the Carter Center
Luis Posada Carriles: The Declassified Record

Click here for the whole story on George W. Bush's favorite terrorist

More on LPC
Massive Demonstration in Havana against the Bush Administration's Billboard Provocation

January 24, 2006

A massive demonstration that has been estimated at around one million persons took place today in Havana. Before his speech, President Fidel Castro labeled the U.S. government as "cockroaches."

The U.S. government has criticized Cuba for human rights violations. What a bunch of hypocrites! This comes from a government that has tortured people in Abhu Graib and Guantanamo naval base, which is occupied illegally against the wishes of the Cuban people.

In his message, the Cuban leader underlined Washington's obscure objectives in its new and dangerous anti-Cuban campaign, which he had discussed at a TV special address to the nation on Sunday evening.

Following is the full message: "Dear Comrades: "Before the march in front of the perfidious and provocative office of the Empire begins, I wish to reiterate what I said on Sunday at the end of my address to the heroic people of our beloved fatherland, to the noble people of the United States and the world public opinion: "The government of the United States is deliberately pursuing the following objectives: "First, the release of terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, who was trained by US authorities -- Bush Sr. included -- and used to perpetrate monstrous crimes against the Cuban people. Recruited in 1961, this repulsive character was trained to carry out special operations during the Bay of Pigs invasion. He and Orlando Bosch, officially pardoned by Bush Sr., subsequently received rigorous training to execute despicable acts of terrorism against Cuba. Likewise, he was given instruction to take part in Operation Condor, an international terrorist organization responsible for odious crimes against Latin American personalities. He is the mind behind the midair bombing of a Cubana de Aviacion's airliner, which claimed the lives of 73 people, off the coasts of Barbados, on October 6, 1976. Taken out of a Venezuelan prison by the CIA on August 18, 1985, he immediately became involved in the dirty war against Nicaragua, supplying weapons to the contras in El Salvador and shipping drugs to the United States. For over four decades, Luis Posada Carriles maintained close ties with US intelligence agencies, received financing from various administrations and was used by the Cuban American National Foundation in attempts to assassinate the Cuban head of state. Efforts by the current US President, and a pardon signed by Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso, finally secured his release from prison on August 26, 2004. Then, taken to a Central American country under protection from the US government, he was authorized to secretly enter the United States. Between March 18 and 20, 2005, he entered the country on the Santrina, a yacht captained by the notorious terrorist Santiago Alvarez, a man who, strangely enough, is also being held for weapons trafficking and gross violations of US national security laws. These are irrefutable facts.

"Second, the current US administration has utterly failed in its efforts to isolate and stifle Cuba economically. But it does not accept this failure, and grows ever more desperate.

"Third, the government of the United States has done everything in its power to please the Cuban American terrorist mafia, which resorted to fraud, in Florida, to put President George W. Bush in office.

"Fourth, President Bush and his administration have committed themselves to implementing a macabre transition plan in Cuba, an act of flagrant interference in the internal affairs of our country, which would return it to a state of backwardness.

"Fifth, the government of the United States has implemented every imaginable measure to deprive Cuba of completely legitimate sources of income. It has made it more difficult for people to send remittances to Cuba and even, callously, forbidden, or made it next to impossible, for Cuban-born US residents to visit their relatives on the island.

"Sixth, under pressure from the Cuban-American mob, and as one their next step, the government of the United States is intent on openly violating the US-Cuba Migratory Accords.

"Seventh: The government of the United States is looking for any pretext to prevent, at all costs, the sale of agricultural products to Cuba, which has been growing, while our country has paid every cent on time during five years, something it did not expect from a blockaded nation facing constant aggression.

"Eighth, the government of the United States, unhappy about President Carter's decision of May 30, 1977, is intent on breaking the minimal diplomatic links which exist between Cuba and the United States today. The gross acts of provocation of the US Interests Section in Havana do not and could not have a different objective.

"The Bush administration is well aware that no government on earth can tolerate such an affront to its dignity and sovereignty.

"Cuba's attitude, and its response to the empire's provocations, will be entirely peaceful, but we shall strike back with all the strength of our moral fortitude and we shall persist in our determination to fight to the death, against whatever act of belligerence of the restless and brutal empire that threatens us. Let no one for a minute forget the oath of Maceo, our Bronze Titan, when he said that whosoever attempts to take possession of Cuba shall conquer but the blood-soaked ground beneath his feet, if he does not first perish in battle.

"I will observe this march together with ardent pioneers and students who from the Anti-Imperialist Tribune cheer our valient and combatant people that will march today in front of that perfidious and provocative office as they will march against any agressor.

"Homeland or death! "We shall overcome!"
Castro Rips Bush as Anti-U.S. March Begins

Tuesday, January 24, 2006; Posted: 10:00 a.m. EST (15:00 GMT)

HAVANA, Cuba (AP) -- Fidel Castro accused the United States of seeking to rupture the minimum remaining diplomatic ties with his country, addressing tens of thousands of Cubans before starting a march outside the American mission here on Tuesday.

"The rude provocations that have been undertaken from its Interests Office in Havana does not, and could not, have any other goal," Castro said from a podium before the sea of cheering people stretching out along Havana's Malecon coastal highway ahead of the government-organized march.

"Bush: fascist! Condemn the terrorist!" the marchers chanted, most of them waving little red, white and blue Cuban flags and signs equating President Bush with Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles, whom Castro accuses of a series of violent actions against the island. "Cuba will triumph!" they shouted.

Among those Castro greeted before his speech was former Nicaraguan president and Sandinista Party leader Daniel Ortega.

Also seen in the crowd were Castro's wife, Dalia, his older brother Ramon and his eldest son Fidel Jr., along with top Communist Party leaders. The marchers included Elian Gonzalez, the boy at the center of an international custody battle in 2000, and his family, as well as relatives of five Cuban agents imprisoned in the United States.

Castro called the march to protest recent U.S. actions aimed at Cuba, including new electronic signs activated a week ago along the mission's facade to broadcast human rights messages. The U.S. Interests Section in Havana handles consular affairs in the absence of full diplomatic relations.

The Cuban leader also accused the Bush administration of working with Cuban exiles in Miami to violate migration accords between the two countries, to block the legally permitted sales of American food to the island and of violating Cuba's independence with a post-Castro transition plan authorities here say is a thinly veiled attempt at regime change.

"The government of President Bush knows very well that no government in the world can accept such a perverse insult to its dignity and sovereignty," Castro said.

Human rights signs activated

The mission a week ago turned on signs with streaming text of news and sayings from Martin Luther King Jr. and excerpts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Cuba is a signatory. The signs were activated as Castro began speaking Tesday morning.

"It's nonsense!" Carla Smith, a 61-year-old lawyer among those marching, said of the signs. "Within a few days, we'll have forgotten all about them."

The signs on the oceanfront building are the latest salvo in an ongoing billboard war between the two countries.

Cuba more than a year ago erected signs outside the mission with photographs of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners and a huge swastika with a "Made in the U.S.A" stamp.

The signs were switched out on Monday for new ones equating Bush with Posada and Adolf Hitler.

Cuban authorities accuse U.S. officials of protecting Posada Carriles, characterized by Castro as the worst terrorist in the Western Hemisphere.

Posada Carriles to face court

The march was timed to coincide with a Tuesday court date for Posada Carriles, who is held at a U.S. federal detention center in El Paso, Texas, on immigration charges.

Cuban-born Posada Carriles, a former CIA operative, was arrested in Miami in May on charges he entered the United States illegally. He is awaiting an immigration judge's deportation ruling.

The militant is accused by Cuba and Venezuela of masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner and of staging bombings in Havana in 1997 and 1998.

"He is a murderer, he should not be freed," said Smith, worried that Posada Carriles would be released from jail. "It's so unjust, we have to do something."

Castro also has accused Posada Carriles and his colleagues of plotting to assassinate the Cuban leader at a summit in Panama in November 2000.

Monday, January 23, 2006

WBC: Wishful Thinking of the New York Sun

Cuban Players May Defect During Tourney

By MEGHAN CLYNE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
January 23, 2006

WASHINGTON - Hope is rising that Major League Baseball's World Baseball Classic will prompt Cuban players to defect to America, as opponents of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro are readying aid to asylum-seekers in advance of the international tournament.

Dream On! Dream On!
Cuba Offers Free Eye-Surgery for 150,000 US Patients

Ahora.cu / 23-01-2006

Cuban President Fidel Castro offered free eye-surgery for 150,000 poor US citizens including air transportation and their accommodations on the island. He said the eye patients could travel to Florida from where they would be brought to Cuba by plane.

Read full Ahora.cu article
Cuba's President Denounces US Provocation

Cuba's Castro calls for protest at U.S. mission

January 23, 2006

By Marc Frank

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban President Fidel Castro accused the United States on Sunday of trying to torpedo relations and harboring Cuban-born terrorists, then called a protest in front of the U.S. diplomatic mission for Tuesday.

Castro, in a three-hour televised appearance, charged that a huge electronic ticker tape mounted across the fifth floor of the U.S. diplomatic mission in downtown Havana aimed to end minimal relations under which each country maintains Interests Sections in the other's capital.

Cuba's President Fidel Castro gestures during a live television broadcast in Havana January 21, 2006. Castro accused the United States on Sunday of trying to torpedo relations and harboring Cuban-born terrorists, then called a protest in front of the U.S. diplomatic mission for Tuesday.

The two countries, bitter foes since Castro came to power in a 1959 revolution, do not have formal diplomatic relations and the United States has maintained a trade embargo against the Communist-run nation since 1962.

"The U.S. government ... is deliberately trying to force a rupture in the actual diplomatic relations," Castro charged.

"The gross provocation by the U.S. Interests Section in Havana can have no other purpose. ... They know no government in the world could allow it," he said, noting his government's diplomatic protests had been ignored.

For a week the ticker tape has flashed human rights messages and calls for democracy by various personalities, including leaders of east-European revolts against Communism such as former Polish President Lech Walesa and Czech leader Vaclav Havel, along with news, in nine-foot high crimson letters.

Cuba purchases around $400 million worth of food for cash each year from the United States under a 2000 amendment to the trade embargo.

Castro said he was taking measures to insure food supplies were not interrupted, without explaining further.

Castro also charged a Tuesday immigration hearing for Cuban-born (Luis) Posada Carriles was aimed at granting him conditional parole.

Posada, 77, has been held by the United States since May for illegally crossing the border into Texas from Mexico.

Posada is wanted by Cuba and Venezuela, where he is a citizen, for a string of bombings and other attacks against Cuban targets, including the blowing up of a Cuban commercial airliner in 1976, killing all 73 people aboard, and bombings of Cuban hotels and night spots in the late 1990s.

The United States has said Posada will not be extradited to either country and has refused to charge him with any other crimes.

"On January 24, when the status of the ferocious terrorist will be reviewed, the people of the capital will march with all their exemplary revolutionary discipline and unity in front of the interests Section of the fraudulent and bastardly government of George W. Bush," Castro said.
Evo Morales Sworn In as Bolivia's New President

Morales begins to form government

Bolivian leftist may bring resources under state control

Monday, January 23, 2006 Posted: 0655 GMT (1455 HKT)

Bolivia's new president, Evo Morales, waves Sunday after his inauguration in La Paz.

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) -- Bolivia's first Indian president was working to form a new leftist government Monday, a day after he pledged in his inaugural speech to transform the poor Andean nation by bringing its natural resources under state control.

Bolivians were waiting to see if Evo Morales' Cabinet choices, which he is expected to announce on his first day in office, will shed light on whether the former street activist will take a market-friendly approach or a more radical path at the outset of his five-year term.

Morales, who counts Cuba's Fidel Castro and President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela as his political allies, is the latest leftist in Latin America to be swept to power by people weary of sluggish economies and free-market policies.

"I wish to tell you the people, especially the Quechua and Aymara people, you now hold this presidency. We are going to finish off the colonial state and the neoliberal economic model," said Morales as he addressed an estimated 100,000 people who crammed the city center after his inauguration Sunday.

Indians, many in brightly colored wool caps and ponchos, cheered along with leftist sympathizers, miners and students on the cobblestone plaza outside Congress during Morales' inaugural address earlier Sunday. Firecrackers boomed and some Indians blew long, wailing notes on cow horns.

"I wish to tell you, my Indian brothers, that the 500-year indigenous and popular campaign of resistance has not been in vain," Morales said.

Morales recalled past decades of harsh discrimination as something akin to apartheid-era South Africa, adding "Bolivia seems like South Africa," that Indians weren't allowed in the very plaza where the inaugural ceremony was taking place.

"Evo, presidente!" chanted a jubilant crowd at the rally in La Paz late Sunday. Morales shouted "Viva Bolivia!" in his native Aymara Indian language as firecrackers boomed overhead.

The 46-year-old son of a peasant farmer, Morales said in his inaugural speech that his socialist government would reshape Bolivia and he lashed out at free market economic prescriptions, calling them a failure in easing chronic poverty here.

Sunday's inauguration was attended by 11 national leaders, including left-leaning presidents Nestor Kirchner of Argentina, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Ricardo Lagos of Chile.

A man dressed as a sacred condor madly flapped his feathered wings as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez left the Congress, trying to call his attention. "Chavez!

Chavez!" the crowd shouted as the Venezuelan leader then joined Morales on a balcony of the presidential palace.

People traveled from all over Latin America to witness the Morales inauguration, including 18-year-old Chilean Miguel Gutierrez, who sported a red T-shirt with the image of socialist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

"I support Evo Morales because I believe this is a radical change," Gutierrez said. "He's going to unite Chavez and all the rest of the progressive world. He is going to change the direction of South America."

Dressed casually in an open-collar shirt and alpaca wool jacket, Morales vowed his leftist Movement Toward Socialism would be stubbornly independent, steering clear of outside influences. While he said he had a positive meeting with Thomas Shannon, U.S. assistant secretary of state on the eve of his inauguration, Morales vowed he would not "submit" to any outside powers.

Morales rose to power as a leader of the coca leaf farmers and spent years in an often violent struggle against Washington-backed coca eradication programs aimed at controlling the leaf that can be made into cocaine. The leaf also has traditional uses among Bolivians.

He has also promised to consolidate control over Bolivia's abundant natural gas reserves and call a constitutional assembly this year to answer Indian demands for a greater share in power at all levels.

Nonetheless, he said he would rule "with all and for all" and would not seek revenge for the past. And while he accused foreigners of looting Bolivia's national resources since the Spanish conquest, Morales repeated his pledge to respect property rights that he made after winning the presidency last month in a landslide.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Cubans are coming! The Cubans are coming!

'World' a better place
Steve Dilbeck, Columnist

Cuban-born Preston Gomez, three times a manager in the major leagues and currently a special assistant to Angels GM Bill Stoneman, said it's nothing but positive news.

"I think it's good for baseball," Gomez said. "I don't think politics should be involved. Eventually it could help between the U.S. and Cuba, and hopefully one day they open up and both sides get together.

"Sometimes, baseball can do more than any politician in the world."

Read full Los Angeles Daily News article
Column: Letting Cuba Play is Right Move

By NANCY ARMOUR, Associated Press


Last updated: 5:16 a.m., Saturday, January 21, 2006

If you decide to invite the world to a party, that means everybody gets to come. Not just the countries that are your friends or that you can tolerate for a while.

Everybody. Otherwise, what you're billing as a housewarming for the entire neighborhood is really more like an exclusive get-together. And when word gets out that you invited everyone but that weird couple with all the cats, you look like a mean-spirited jerk.

Which is why the U.S. Treasury Department was smart to relent Friday and let Cuba play in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Read full Albany Times Union article
Cuba: Baseball All Stars for Sunday's Game

Havana, Jan 20 (Prensa Latina) Players included in the Western and Eastern teams for the All-Star Game of the 45th Cuban National Baseball Series will step on base at Havana´s Latin American Stadium next Sunday.

Directed by manager Rey Vicente Anglada, Western Stars infielders are made up by aces Enrique Diaz (Industriales), Michel Enriquez (Isle of Youth) and Yulieski Gourriel (Sancti Spiritus), the two latter considered among the best three players of Cuba.

Other infielders are Juan Carlos Moreno (Isle of Youth), Luis Felipe Rivera (Isle of Youth), Jorge Padron (Pinar del Rio), Dainniel Galvez (Isle of Youth) and Michel Rodriguez (La Habana).

The outfield is led by four members of the last Cuban national selection, Industriales Yoandry Urgelles and Carlos Tabares, Frederich Cepeda (Sancti Spiritus) and Alexei Ramirez (Pinar del Rio).

Serguey Perez (Industriales) and Jose Dariel Correa (Cienfuegos) will make their debut in this type of game.

Three quality catchers will guide the Western pitchers. They are Eriel Sanchez (Sancti Spiritus), Jokel Gil (Metropolitanos) and Vladimir Garcia (Isle of Youth).

Pitching combines experienced hurlers Pedro Luis Lazo (Pinar del Rio), Yadel Marti (Industriales) and Carlos Llanes (Isle of Youth) and youth Maicel Diaz (Industriales), Noelvis Hernandez (Sancti Spiritus), Yadier Pedroso (La Habana), Deynis Suarez (Industriales), Vladimir Baños (Pinar del Rio) and Yosvani Perez (Cienfuegos).

Yoandry Garlobo, from Matanzas, will be the designated hitter.

The Eastern Stars selection appears as strong as that of the West.

Powerful hitters Rolando Meriño (Santiago de Cuba), Luis A Ferrales (Granma) and Ariel Pestano (Villa Clara) will be the catchers.

Villa Clara´s shortstop Eduardo Pared and first baseman Ariel Borrero stand out in the infield that includes Leslie Anderson (Camaguey), Yusquiel Garcia (Camaguey), Danel Castro (Las Tunas) Vismay Santos (Guantanamo) Amaury Suarez (Las Tunas) and Yorelvis Charles (Ciego de Avila).

The best hitter of Cuba during the last seasons, Osmani Urrutia (Las Tunas), and rising stars Yohenis Cespedes (Granma) and Dayan Viciedo (Villa Clara), Roberqui Videaux and Giorvis Duvergel Rojas (Guantanamo) and Alfredo Despaigne (Granma), will play the outfield.

Righthander Luis Borroto (Villa Clara), Luis Miguel Rodriguez (Holguin) and Ciego de Avila´s Michel Pino Feo are the most experienced of a roster including several youth with a good performance during the current baseball showdown.

Santiago de Cuba southpaw Pedro Poll will be the designated hitter.

Marcos Fonseca, who directs Granma, will be the manager.

During the history of the All-Star Games, these two selections have competed with the same name expect in 1994, when the Western stars were called "Thunders" and the Eastern ones were dubbed "Lightings."

West pitchers have thrown two shutouts, while Easterners have whitewashed the West three times.

Westerners won the latest All-Star Game in 2005, when they beat the East 4-1.
WBC: Behind the Scenes Negotiations

Posted on Fri, Jan. 20, 2006


Bush will allow Cuba to play in World Baseball Classic

Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - Cuba's powerhouse baseball team got the sign to ``Play Ball!'' after President Bush personally agreed Friday to let the squad take part in the World Baseball Classic, a first-of-its-kind clash of baseball titans from around the globe.

The hitch for Havana: It cannot profit from the event or send too many security guards.

A month ago, the Cubans were told they were not welcome in the United States, where many of the games, including the champion game, will be played. That decision pleased Cuban-American hard-liners, but not Major League Baseball, which sees the 16-team tournament as a showcase event and affirmation of the sport's growing popularity outside the United States.

The Cuban team has not played on American soil since beating the Orioles in an exhibition game at Baltimore's Camden Yards in 1999.

Under the first application for a U.S. Treasury Department license, Cuba would have received some profits from the tournament. The Bush administration has been tightening sanctions on Cuba in recent years to deny resources to the island's communist government.

But on Friday, Treasury reversed its decision after U.S. officials said Bush, a baseball fan and former part-owner of the Texas Rangers, personally agreed to the deal after the limits on money and personnel were imposed.

``The president wanted to see the matter resolved in a positive way,'' said Frederick Jones, a spokesman for the White House's National Security Council. ``Our
concerns were making sure that no money was going to the Castro regime and that the tourney ... would not be misused by the regime as a tool for espionage.''

Treasury worked closely with the State Department and World Baseball Classic Inc., the firm organizing the event, to ``reach a licensable agreement that upholds
both the legal scope and the spirit of the sanctions,'' said Treasury spokeswoman Molly Millerwise.

The deal limits the Cuban team to 30 players and 15 coaches and support staff, said a Bush administration official who requested anonymity to discuss delicate negotiations. An additional 21 people will be allowed to accompany the team, including members of the island's baseball federation, journalists and a small security contingent. All will be vetted to exclude objectionable persons before U.S. visas are issued.

Each Cuban player will be entitled to $100 per day from the tournament organizers, said a congressional aide familiar with the issue. U.S. government officials declined to confirm the number, but one said the license specifies that the Cuban government cannot obtain any money from the games.

Havana officials agreed to the limitations in a contract attached to the license that one official described as ``bulky.'' Cuba earlier had offered to donate any proceeds from the tournament to victims of Hurricane Katrina, or skip any payments altogether.

Cuban-American lawmakers had lobbied strongly for barring the Havana squad from the tournament, which will be played in March to allow professional ballplayers to participate. Teams from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and other countries will be loaded with Major League talent, ensuring a high level of competition.

Cuba has frequently triumphed in international tournaments, including the Olympics, but seldom has had to face Major League-caliber opponents.

Miami Republican Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who wanted Cuba to be represented by players who had defected, called the decision ``lamentable and unfortunate'' and said it would allow Havana ``to utilize a sporting event for propaganda purposes while Castro's security agents keep a watchful eye on the Cuban players to prevent their escape to freedom.''

Cuban sports teams are often accompanied by security agents on trips abroad because of fears of defections. Diaz-Balart said he would help any Cuban player who wanted to defect.

Some, like Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., who was born on the island, had proposed having Cuba represented by a team of Cuban-American ballplayers.

The ruling on the World Baseball Classic came just weeks after Cuban-Americans in South Florida were angered by the Coast Guard's decision to return to Cuba 15 migrants who had landed on the piling of an old bridge in the Florida keys.

Major League Baseball officials were clearly pleased with the decision to let Cuba play.

``The presence of Cuba in the tournament ensures the highest level of competition for the tournament which, for the first time, will bring together the very best players throughout the world in a single event,'' said Bob DuPuy, MLB president and chief operating officer in an e-mail response.

The Cubans are expected to play in a four-team qualifying round in San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 12-15. If they win that round, and a second round, they would advance to semifinals in San Diego on March 18. The championship game will be March 20 in San Diego.

The rejection of the first license application sparked an outcry from critics who argued that sports and politics should not be mixed. And its reversal Friday was hailed by critics of U.S. economic sanctions on the island.

``Allowing Cuba to play in this baseball tournament was the right decision, both for the fans and for international relations,'' said Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., who enjoys friendly relations with Cuba and signed a letter with 90 other lawmakers urging that Cuba be allowed to play ball.

But despite the resolution to the baseball issue, tensions between the two nations are likely to continue dogging Cuba's participation in U.S. sporting events. On Friday, Cuba's official Granma newspaper carried a story protesting a U.S. decision to deny visas to two cyclists and their trainer to take part in the third stage of the World Cycling Cup qualifiers.

Jose Pelaez, head of the Cuban Cycling Federation, was quoted as saying that the denial violates international sporting regulations that oblige host nations to guarantee entry to athletes to compete in international events. The event is to be held in Los Angeles on Jan. 20-23.

Knight Ridder Newspapers correspondent Clark Spencer contributed to this report from Miami.
US Business People Keep Boosting Trade with Cuba

www.Ahora.cu / 20-01-2006

US business people have signed new commercial accords with Cuba, in an action that further ignores Washington's economic blockade of the island.

The accords were inked on Thursday by the Texas-based Corpus Christi Harbor and Cuba's Alimport Food Import Company, in the presence of top directors of both entities. The agreements set out the import by Cuba of different agro-products through that port.

Corpus Christi Harbour's business director Michael Perez recalled that his entity was the first port to have signed a commercial agreement aimed at promoting free commercial relations between Cuba and the US, in 2003. Some 50,000 tons of wheat plus over 1,000 tons of beans and many other products have been exported to Cuba through that port in Texas, said the US executive.

Perez said that Cubans should know that the current exchange is not just based on trade but also on bilateral friendship and he called his trip to Havana very positive and significant for his entity and his city, Prensa Latina news agency reported.

The US business executive said they hoped that one day they will be able to visit the island without a license from the US government in direct reference to the over-40-year economic blockade of Cuba.

The president of the island's Alimport enterprise, Pedro Alvarez, praised the efficient loading work at the Corpus Christi Harbor and said that the current accord is a further step forward in the development of bilateral relations. By signing this agreement, Alimport commits itself to increasing its imports from that US port, which will be immediately implemented, said the Cuban executive.

Alvarez said that Cuba imports 100,000 tons of frozen chicken from the US and he announced future joint work with the US port in order to set up a container-boat connection between Corpus Christi and Cuba. Other prospects include the evaluation of that port's capabilities to load rice in bulk as well as other products. Alvarez also thanked the Mayor of the US city of Corpus Christi for his letter backing the port's work with Cuba and inviting Alimport directors to visit the US facilities.

The director of the US port Ruben Bonilla handed over the keys to the city of Corpus Christi to Alvarez, who officially invited the mayor of that city to visit Cuba next April. Alvarez said that at that time they will hold a business meeting aimed at signing agreements for the second half of the year.

Also on Thursday, the US Ozark Mountain Poultry signed a trade agreement with Cuba's Alimport for the export of frozen chicken through the Corpus Christi Harbor. The signing of accords was presided over by Howard Otwell, director of the US company and by Alimport President, Pedro Alvarez. This will constitute the first import of frozen chicken that Cuba receives through the Corpus Christi harbour.

(From AIN)

Friday, January 20, 2006

World Baseball Classic: MLB, Players Association Statements

01/20/2006 3:35 PM ET

Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig and Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Don Fehr issued the following statements today regarding the U.S. Department of Treasury's decision to grant a license allowing the Cuban National Team to participate in the World Baseball Classic.

Commissioner Selig said: "I wish to thank the Department of State and the Department of Treasury for their assistance in securing the approvals necessary for Cuba to participate in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in March. The federal government thoughtfully and diligently helped us bring the application process to a successful conclusion. Now, with Cuba's entry in the tournament approved, the World Baseball Classic promises to be an historic event and will guarantee our fans the greatest possible competition among the best players in the world."

Fehr said: "We are grateful for the cooperation of the Departments of State and Treasury. The license we have been given opens the way for the Cuban Baseball Federation's participation, along with other federations from around the world, in the inaugural Baseball Classic, and we now look forward with even greater anticipation to the opening of the tournament in early March."
Internet Blogs: A Window to The World

It is truly amazing how much computer technology has changed and advanced. I started working with computers in 1970, after taking a 69-week course in a local business school. Twenty five of us started the course, and three of us graduated. We lost half the class when we started studying about binary numbers, the 1s and 0s that are at the heart of any computer. In my first job as a computer programmer, the machine was an IBM System 360, Model 20 that was extremely big and displaced a lot of heat.

I was working for a small company. That Mod 20 did not have disk drives. The memory in that computer was extremely small, a mere 4K. All the data files of the company were stored in 80-column cards. A big room contained thousands and thousands of cards, maybe even millions. Once a month those cards had to be sorted using an IBM 082 Sorter. The sort took the whole afternoon. All computer programs had to be keypunched and fed to a compiler that did not reside in memory. It would punch out a machine language object deck that was used later on to execute the program.

There were no computer terminals. You looked at a report by using a huge IBM printer. Changing ribbons was an extremely messy affair. We had no GUI, or Graphical User Interface, that we take for granted today. There was no Internet. Modem was an unknown word.

Today I have a PC that has a huge amount of memory. It is an IBM ThinkPad laptop, and it can be carried anywhere. It has a very clear screen with wonderful colors. Back in 1970, everything was black and white.

Today, just about anyone can afford to buy a PC and be connected to the Internet for less than $10 a month.

What truly amazes me is the creature known as an Internet blog. You can have your own personal diary and publish it for the whole world to see. Anyone can publish a book in any of those blogs and communicate with the whole world.

This blog has been in operation for less than two months, and in that short period of time, people from the USA (the great majority) followed by Canada, United Kingdom, Ecuador, France, Australia, Denmark, Cuba, Chile, Iceland, Thailand, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Portugal, Argentina, Sweden, Spain and India have visited Cuba Journal.


An Internet blog is your own personal window to the WORLD.
Cuba and the WBC: Cooler Heads Have Prevailed

I am very happy that Cuba will be playing in the inaugural World Baseball Classic, and that extremists elements, under the leadership of Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, were repudiated.

Let us leave politics out of sports.

Cuba Allowed to Play in World Baseball Classic


By Ronald Blum

8:33 a.m. January 20, 2006

NEW YORK – Cuba will be allowed to play in the World Baseball Classic, after all.

The U.S. Treasury Department issued a license Friday allowing the Cubans to participate in the 16-team tournament.

Baseball's first application was denied in mid-December by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, but the commissioner's office and the players' association reapplied after Cuba said it would donate any profits it receives to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. laws aimed at punishing Fidel Castro's communist government prohibit certain commercial transactions with Cuba, generally attempting to deny money.

"Working closely with World Baseball Inc. and the State Department, we were able to reach a licensable agreement that upholds both the legal scope and the spirit of the sanctions," Treasury spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said.

"This agreement ensures that no funding will make its way into the hands of the Castro regime. The Treasury is pleased to now be able to issue this license and looks forward to seeing all of the teams showcase their talents on the international stage."

After the initial rejection, the International Baseball Federation threatened to withdraw its sanction of the tournament if Cuba was not allowed to participate. In addition, Puerto Rico threatened to withdraw as a host.

"We were always positive," said Antonio Munoz, the promoter who paid millions of dollars to stage the first two rounds in Puerto Rico. "There were some negative people, but they were wrong in the end."

Initial reaction among Cuban fans was positive.

"Oh, magnificent! Tremendous!" exclaimed Osvaldo Herrera, who was standing on a street corner in Havana with three other sports lovers discussing Cuban baseball.

The tournament, the first in which the world's top players will participate on national teams, runs from March 3-20. The other 15 teams submitted their 60-man preliminary rosters earlier this week.

Cuba won the Olympic gold medal in 1992, 1996 and 2004, and the United States won in 2000. Olympic baseball was initially limited to amateur players, but even after professionals were allowed in for the 2000 Sydney Games, major leaguers didn't participate because baseball doesn't stop its regular season for the Olympics.

Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens are among the big-name players on the U.S. roster, and Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols and Vladimir Guerrero are on the Dominican team. Puerto Rico and Japan also are expected to be among the top teams at the tournament.

Associated Press writers Anne-Marie Garcia in Havana and Pedro Zayas in San Juan contributed to this report
L.A. Times: Nearly Zero Viewership of TV Marti in Cuba


January 20, 2006

Broadcasting a Vision of Democracy Into a Void

The U.S. has sunk nearly $200 million into TV Marti's programming aimed at Cuba. But one scholar estimates it has 'nearly zero viewership.'

By Carol J. Williams, Times Staff Writer

MIAMI — Tune in to TV Marti, and you can see anything from global news and hard-hitting documentaries to a sitcom with a bearded revolutionary wreaking havoc on a mythical island shaped a lot like Cuba.

But after 16 years and nearly $200 million from U.S. taxpayers, a question nags at its critics and even some who support the pro-democracy mission of the propaganda outlet: Is anyone in Cuba watching?

Full Los Angeles Times article
Tons of Arkansas Chicken Headed to Cuba


The island nation of Cuba said it intends to buy about 4,630 tons of chicken from Arkansas-based Ozark Mountain Poultry.

Ozark CEO Howard Otwell said the deal is worth about $2.5 million. The company is based in Rogers.

The chicken will be shipped through the Texas port of Corpus Christi.

Pedro Alvarez, the head of Cuba's food import company, signed an agreement with Corpus Christi port officials yesterday and promised to double the amount of Cuba-bound cargo coming through the port.

Most U.S. trade with Cuba is banned under a 45 year old U.S. embargo designed to undermine Fidel Castro's communist government.

But a law passed in the year 2000 allows American food and other agricultural products to be sold to Cuba.

Alvarez has said Cuba has contracted to buy $1.5 billion in American food since Castro's government began taking advantage of the U.S. law in late 2001.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Kat Robinson, Producer
Created: 1/20/2006 5:47:17 AM
Updated: 1/20/2006 10:06:04 AM
Cuba to Import 700,000 Tons of U.S. Corn

USAgNet - 01/20/2006

Cuba has agreed to import more U.S. corn as part of a memorandum of understanding signed Tuesday with the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and has expressed interest in continued imports of distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS).

Under the agreement, Cuba will buy 700,000 metric tons (27.5 million bushels) of U.S. corn in 2006. The value of the agreement is estimated at nearly $100 million based on recent corn prices.

"This agreement represents a significant increase in the amount of U.S. corn Cuba intends to import this year over previous years," said Davis Anderson, USGC chairman. "As Cuba's tourism industry expands, its people are finding they have more money to buy meat, milk and eggs, thus driving the increased demand for feed grains."

According to the Vice Minister for Foreign Trade in Cuba, the country's economy grew at a rate of 11.2 percent in 2005. U.S. corn imports to Cuba have risen every year since 2001, which marked the first time in 20 years that Cuba imported U.S. corn. The 700,000 tons established by the agreement with Alimport, Cuba's sole trade entity, is an increase of approximately 44.6 percent over 2004 imports of 484,051 tons (19 million bushels). During Tuesday's meeting, Cuban trade officials also indicated they would import 140,000 tons of DDGS in 2006.
It's Time to Let Cuba Compete in World Baseball Classic

On Baseball
Hal Bodley

Having a world baseball tournament without Cuba is like putting on a major league season without the New York Yankees.

The U.S. government should have realized this a month ago and not allowed the petty game of politics to interfere with the inaugural World Baseball Classic.

Read full article at USA Today

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Alleged Cuba Agents Plead Not Guilty in Miami

Thu Jan 19, 2006 12:34 PM ET

MIAMI (Reuters) - Two Florida academics pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges of working as covert Cuban agents who funneled information on government officials and Cuban exile groups to Havana for nearly three decades.

Carlos Alvarez, a 61-year-old psychology professor at Florida International University, and his wife, Elsa Alvarez, 55, a social worker at the school, entered the pleas before a U.S. magistrate in Miami, a court official said.

Both naturalized U.S. citizens from Cuba, the couple was indicted in December on charges of acting as foreign agents without notifying the U.S. government.

Prosecutors say they used their positions at the university to attempt to recruit potential spies for Cuba and informed Havana on public attitudes and key players in

Miami's exile community, the heart of opposition to Cuban President Fidel Castro and his communist government.

The indictment marked the latest prosecution of suspected Cuban spies.

The most prominent recent case was that of the "Cuban five," convicted in 2001 of infiltrating military bases and exile groups. An appeals court has agreed to review
the convictions.

Carlos and Elsa Alvarez were being held without bond.
A Present for the Cuban People and its Youth

Cuba: Baseball World Cup Champion in 2005


Thursday, January 19, 2006

This coming Sunday a great Cuban baseball party, and of sports in general, will take place in the Latin American Stadium in Havana. The All Stars Game and other activities will take place to celebrate the 45 anniversary of INDER and the 4Oth anniversay of the Cuban victory in the Central American Games in 1966.

Read full Juventud Rebelde article in Spanish

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Baseball Great Hank Aaron Wants Cuba to Participate in WBC

"I hope that these [Cuban] kids are given an opportunity to play, because whatever happened before, they had nothing to do with it," Aaron said in Washington at an event to promote the World Baseball Classic and celebrate 130 years of Japan-U.S. baseball history. "I just hope they have an opportunity to compete. They really deserve to. They have some great ballplayers in Cuba."

Tommy Lasorda and former Baseball Commisioner Peter Ueberroth have also said the same thing.

Is the Bush administration DEAF?