Monday, June 30, 2008

One Cuban fraud, State Rep. David Rivera, talks about travel fraud

The Associated Press has reported that the biggest gusano fraud of Miami, State Representative David Rivera is talking about the law that he authored. He claims that the state law which he sponsored, regarding travel to Cuba, was passed only to check travel fraud.

Representative, your slip is showing. Who are you trying to fool?

O.K. 'Pinocchio' Rivera, we believe you! What is happening to your nose?

Evo Morales Approves Expulsion of US Company from Bolivia

HAVANA, Cuba, Jun 29 (ACN) - Bolivian President Evo Morales gave his support Thursday to a call by coca leaf growers of the province of Chapare, Cochabamba to expel the US Agency for International Development (USAID), reports Granma.

Morales said Bolivia would not “kneel to the US Empire” and added “I welcome the decision of the small farmers movement and of the mayors of [the central department of] Cochabamba. Now, I feel and hope that the Chapare will not only be illiteracy free but also a territory free of US imperialism,” said Morales as reported EFE.

At a meeting with the rural population in Alcantari where he delivered ambulances donated by Spain, Evo once again denounced USAID and the US embassy in Bolivia for their actions aimed at destabilizing his government.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Walker San Miguel rejected the decision of the top authorities of the Departments of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, Tarija and Cochabamba who say they will not hold the nationwide August 10 recall referendum in their departments to determine whether they and President Morales should remain in office. Instead they are calling for early general elections.

According to Prensa Latina, the Defense official said that behind the desperation of these governors lie veiled intentions for a coup. “Proposing early general elections would be tantamount to a coup, an attack on democracy,” San Miguel told reporters.

Meanwhile, Ecuador said Thursday that it backs the Bolivian government and President Evo Morales in the face of destabilization efforts in the Andean nation, reported Prensa Latina.

Cuba's Oil Partners

Latin Business Chronicle

Monday, June 30, 2008

Eight countries, led by Venezuela, are actively working in cooperation with Cuba's oil production enterprise to develop various sectors of Cuban oil and gas resources, one expert points out.

Who will help Cuba exploit its offshore oil wealth? Three experts share their inight.


Inter-American Dialogue

Cuba reportedly plans to start drilling sometime next year to access several billion barrels of crude believed to lie off the country's coast. With Cuba's limited resources and technology, who will help the Caribbean nation exploit its offshore oil wealth? Will US companies be allowed to be involved? What impact would production from the fields have on Cuba's economy?

Philip Peters, Vice President of the Lexington Institute and author of The Cuban Triangle blog: Vice President Cheney erred when he said that Chinese companies are drilling for oil in Cuba's Gulf waters, but he sure got this right: 'even the communists have figured out that a good answer to higher prices means more supply.' Cuba has sold rights to about one-third of its offshore blocs; foreign partners pay their own exploration costs and share in the profits of any production. There is only one known plan to drill: Repsol, leading a consortium that includes Norsk Hydro, drilled in 2004 and will drill again next year. That's a sign of confidence on the part of those companies, but even if they hit the jackpot they are years away from delivering oil to market. Cuba's domestic production now covers about half of Cuba's energy needs. About 70,000 barrels per day of added output would make Cuba self-sufficient. Gulf oil has the clear potential to end Cuba's perennial foreign exchange crunch, and to make the Venezuela relationship less indispensable for Havana. American companies are barred from participation in any part of Cuban energy development: onshore, offshore, ethanol, oil, gas, exploration, production, refining.

Vicki Huddleston, a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former Chief of the US Interests Section in Cuba: Citing rising oil prices, President Bush called for repealing the ban drilling for oil along our continental shelf. Vice President Cheney, in an effort to justify US drilling in offshore waters, claimed that China was drilling for Cuban oil 60 miles from the Florida US coast. Ironically, neither Bush nor Cheney have any intention of allowing American companies to exploit any of the 4.6 billion barrels of unproven oil reserves or the 9.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas off of Cuba's coast. Yet, allowing US petroleum companies to do so would go a long way toward resolving both their concerns. If we had access to Cuba's offshore oil, it would diversify our sources—Venezuela is now our fifth-largest supplier—and help dampen the upward price spiral at the pump. If American companies with expertise in oil exploitation and protection of the environment were able to cooperate with the six oil companies that have contracts to search for Cuba's offshore resources, we would have considerably greater confidence that the latest and safest technology would reduce the environmental impact and diminish the possibility of a spill that might impact states along the Gulf of Mexico. Critics will argue that allowing American companies to become involved in exploiting Cuba's oil is a concession to an autocratic government. But excluding American companies will not prevent others from doing so nor change the Cuban leadership. Rather, it will simply exclude us from a new source of oil and possibly heighten the risk to the environment. As the competition for oil grows, our isolationist policy may become more costly to us than to Cuba.

Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Nebraska: In spite of the US economic embargo against Cuba, no less than eight countries, led by Venezuela, are actively working in cooperation with Cupet, Cuba's oil production enterprise, to develop various sectors of Cuban oil and gas resources. This includes joint venture agreements worth billions of dollars in foreign direct investment to develop increased refining capacity, petrochemical facilities, and deepwater oil exploration. At this moment, there is little or no chance that any US oil companies will be involved because of the embargo. This is not to say that there isn't significant interest, but barring a sudden reversal of the 50 year-old opposition to the Cuban regime, the prospects are dim that any US companies can be involved. With a new administration or a significant oil find, the US position might change, but it will require revoking many of the elements of the Helms-Burton Act of 1996. The estimated size of the offshore oil reserves are about half the size of the ANWR reserves in Alaska and would provide a significant boost to the Cuban economy in terms of investment in and technological transfer to the energy sector. In no way would the impact negate the fact that Cuba must also develop alternative energy sources, as it will remain a net oil importer for some time as resources are developed. This is a fact that Cuban officials are cognizant of and working diligently to address.

More on the fine that the OFAC thugs imposed on Spirit Airlines

JG: The Yankee imperialists HATE Cuba with a passion. They are as bad or much worse than the HATE that the Nazis had for the Jewish people. Yankee imperialism ideology and Nazi ideology are very similar.

Cuba will celebrate, this coming January 1st, the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. The imperialists have not been able to turn the clock back to the times when the American Mob used Havana as its playground. And the imperialists certainly miss the times when General Fulgencio Batista kissed the ass of Uncle Sam at least once a day. Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and the Cuban people put an end to the era, 1902-1958, when the Yankee imperialists exploited Cuba at least once a day if not more. I will stand up and give a big hand of applause to the Cuban people and say: THANK YOU FIDEL, RAUL, CHE, CAMILO !

Normally I try to stay away from publishing or reproducing articles from El Nuevo Herald, which is the mouthpiece of the gusanos of South Florida, but this time I am going to make an exception, because the following article is very well written.



Spirit Airlines fined for paying to fly over Cuba

A popular Broward County-based carrier -- Spirit Airlines -- has been fined $100,000 for violating the U.S. embargo against Cuba by paying the island to fly over their airspace.

Spirit is the second Florida corporation fined this year for violating the Cuban trade embargo, following the $7,500 fine imposed on Fort Lauderdale's BankAtlantic in February.

Posted on Mon, Jun. 30, 2008

El Nuevo Herald

Miramar-based Spirit Airlines has been fined $100,000 for paying the Cuban government for permission to use the island's airspace, constituting a violation of the long-standing U.S. embargo against the island.

According to a report by the Office of Foreign Asset Control of the Treasury Department, Spirit Airlines made several money transfers to Cuban government accounts from September 2004 to March 2007 without a valid license for such activity.

The fine imposed on the airline, which has its main hub at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, is the largest such penalty imposed by the agency during the fiscal year that began last October.

Spirit is the second Florida corporation fined this year for violating the embargo, following the $7,500 fine imposed on Fort Lauderdale's BankAtlantic in February.


Spirit Airlines told El Nuevo Herald that the violation occurred ''in an unpremeditated manner,'' a company spokeswoman said.

''During the beginning of 2007, Spirit Airlines realized that the permit required by [the Treasury agency] for authorizing flights over Cuba for the use of their airspace had not been renewed,'' said Spirit's spokeswoman, Misty Pinson.

``Spirit Airlines never had the intention of violating any requirements or laws to carry out its international operations.''

Spirit accepted blame. ''Because of this unintentional violation, our company quickly presented itself before the Treasury Department to provide all information regarding this matter, and following the meeting we agreed to pay the fine,'' Pinson said.

Founded in 1980, Spirit Airlines is the nation's largest private airline.

The company offers a wide range of domestic flights and promotional prices that start at $9.

The company also provides service to 22 destinations in the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

It is routine procedure and within the regulations of civil aviation for U.S. carriers to pay other nations for the use of their airspace during international routes, just as the federal government charges carriers for use of U.S. airspace.

Payments of this sort destined for Cuba require a special license from the Treasury Department, as part of the laws of the embargo.


The agency's report -- dated June 20 -- indicates that two other U.S. corporations were fined for sustaining illegal negotiations with Cuba:

• United Radio of Florencia, Ky., paid a $67,574 penalty because between March 2004 and November 2005 a subsidiary, Blue Star Canada, sent electronic products to Cuba illegally.

• Sonida International, based in Forest Hills, N.Y., paid $2,400 for making a bank transfer for a group of Cuban visitors on June 3, 2004.

$237,517 IN FINES

During the current fiscal year, the Treasury Department has imposed fines to both companies and individual residents of the United States for violations of the embargo that total $237,517 -- significantly less than the $803,229 imposed in 2007.

The majority of fines on individuals resulted from the sale of Cuban cigars through the Internet.

Some 20 individuals have already been ordered to pay penalties that range from $1,000 to $6,000.

Treasury agency sanctions for violations of the embargo total nearly $4 million since 2004, when President Bush placed new limitations on travel and increased controls on money transfers from U.S. companies.

An American dream realized in Cuba


Les Payne
June 30, 2008

Since her days as a young girl, Arabia Mollette dreamed of becoming a doctor. The streets of the South Bronx pulled in another direction.

"My family was hit hard with drugs," said the 28-year old student, "both of my parents." There were five sisters and a brother. At 15, "I was out in the streets selling drugs, sleeping on trains when I didn't have a place to stay. I was not on crack, but I did have a problem with drinking.

"Two of my sisters have passed away. One was shot to death in Schenectady when she was a freshman at college. She was in a car with her friend - at the wrong place at the wrong time. The situation had nothing to do with her; it was the person she was hanging out with. She died three weeks after her 19th birthday. It was devastating."

Sent away to relatives in Peekskill, Mollette achieved honors as a high school junior. And, at 17, she had a son with a 29-year-old. "The relationship with the father was not positive." It got worse when she talked of going off to college to fulfill her dream. "We were not together. He had my son at his house."

On the night of Feb. 19, 1998, the 4-month-old was rushed to the hospital, suffering from a heart attack, fractured skull and brain injuries. He died the next day. Claiming to have shaken his son when he wouldn't stop crying, the father pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 11 to 22 years in prison. "It's hard for me to sleep at night [thinking] I will not see my son again," Mollette told the judge before yelling at her son's father: "How could you put me through this?"

Gathering herself over time, the young student worked her way through Hunter College, graduating with a minor in African-American and Puerto Rican studies and a major in psychology. "I studied psychology because I wanted to understand myself as a black woman in America. I wanted to understand ... what made me do some of those things.

"Even as an undergrad, I was [sometimes] homeless. I didn't think becoming a doctor was going to happen due to the financial situation." The cost of a medical education ranges up past $150,000, with most young physicians $120,000 in college-loan debt. In June 2005, while participating in a biomedical research program at SUNY Binghamton, a friend told Mollette about the medical program she was attending. "I said, 'What medical school are you going to?'"

It was the Latin American School of Medical Sciences that Cuba created in 1999 to train doctors from the region. When Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) inquired about the school during a U.S. Congressional Black Caucus visit in 2000, Fidel Castro, not one to pass up a propaganda pitch, offered free medical training to low-income Americans to return home and serve their medically underserved communities.

Some 111 such U.S. students, mainly blacks and Latinos, have joined the 4,000 physicians Cuba has recruited from Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean. According to a recent Johns Hopkins newsletter, Cuba's highly rated, free medical system maintains the "highest doctor-to-patient ratio, about one physician per 170 patients, of all countries in the world." The U.S. ratio is one doctor to 400 patients; at HMOs, where most Americans receive care, it's one to 600 patients.

"I have utilized my tragic experiences to explain why I wanted to become a doctor, to fulfill this dream," Mollette told me during a recent trip to Havana, where I interviewed eight other U.S. students. "When I came down here [two years ago], I didn't speak any Spanish . By the grace of God, I was able to pick up Spanish in three months. When I'm studying or taking an exam, I think about the tragedies [of my life] to motivate me.

"My family can't help me, financially. I try not to be upset about that. Emotionally, they are there for me. So when I go home , I have to find some type of work, babysitting or cleaning somebody's house." All tuition, books, meals and even medical care the Cuban government provides free. "I have to buy my plane ticket and come back. And I have to purchase certain personal items I need. I wasn't born with a silver spoon. One day, I'll be able to help my family.

"What happened to my son, and my sister," Mollette said, breaking off into sobs, "is the reason I had to get myself together. I'm crying because for the first time in my life, I got to do something I wanted to do."


JG: WOW! What a great story. Thank you, Les, for telling it so well.

Howard Zinn: An illustrated people's history of the US empire

Cuba Defeats Santa Barbara Baseball Team

Photo: Juan Moreno

Alexander Malleta was the star with two homers in the opening game victory of the Cuban national team (8-3) over their Californian visitors

By: Raúl Arce

2008-06-23 | 12:34:51 EST

First baseman Alexander Malleta had three hits Saturday —two of them opposite field homers—, and five RBIs, during the opening game victory of the Cuban national team, 8-3, over the Santa Barbara Foresters.

Yulieski Gourriel drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly in the first. Malleta followed with an RBI single. Later on he cleared the Latinoamericano Stadium’s left field fence in the third and fifth innings.

The visitors tied the score briefly, thanks to a double by catcher Cameron Rupp off starter Elier Sánchez with two men on the base. The long drive hit the center field fence.

Vicyohandry Odelín was the winner but gave up a homer to Rupp. Relievers Yadier Pedroso and Miguel Lahera finished the game without trouble.

The line-up

The game drew a good crowd despite the unusually 4 p.m. game time and coinciding with the transmission of the European Cup soccer on television. The lineup used by manager Antonio Pacheco was as follows.

Giorvis Duvergel (cf) was the lead off hitter, followed by Michel Enríquez (3b), Yulieski Gourriel (2b), Alexander Malleta (1b), Frederich Cepeda (DH), Alexei Bell (rf), Yoandry Urgellés (lf), Ariel Pestano (c) and Eduardo Paret (ss). There were no substitutions, Paret also homered, while Cepeda, Urgellés and Pestano went hitless.

Cuba beat the Foresters 9-5 in game two of the exhibition series on Sunday with Yulieski Gonzalez the winning pitcher.

Harvey Schiller of the US, president of the International Baseball Association of (IBAF), arrives on Monday in Havana, the first time since he assumed the position in July of 2006. Schiller is scheduled to attend the final Cuba-Santa Barbara Forester game starting at 8 p.m.

XLI Jornada Cucalambeana in Cuba

The Cucalambeana goes beyond the national frontiers


LAS TUNAS. – The lovers of our broad spiritual and material peasant culture returned to set their expectations on a party which, every year, draws together the best and the most representative of peasant music of the country: The Jornada Cucalambeana.

Conceived with plenty of time, the program anticipates and provides a well balanced series of options, from today Monday the 30th (with the parties of the Committees for the defense of the Revolution in the neighborhoods, waiting to the 179th anniversary of the birth of Juan Cristóbal Nápoles Fajardo), to Sunday the sixth of July, when the fifth and last spectacle, which leads to the dances and the closing songs.

As explained by Neyxi Sobrado Vieites, Public Relations specialist of the Spanish-American House of the Décima in Las Tunas, this XLI Cucalambeana will also pay a special tribute to Inocente Iznaga, the Jilguero of Cienfuegos, and to doctor Virgilio López Lemus, investigator, decimista, and tireless defender of peasant culture and a personality who is very linked with the 14 editions of the Encounter and Spanish-American Festival of the Décima
and the Improvised Verse.

To the motivations which animate all the Cuban provinces, we have to add the interest in participating of the delegations from countries and regions like Spain, Mexico, Canary Islands, Italy and Germany.

Among the preparations that guarantee the quality of the Jornada are the works being done to revert the damages which unfortunately were suffered by the picturesque installations at El Cornito, another dwelling of the famous bard (the most important in his genre during the XIX century) and natural scenery where every year the principal activities of the Cucalambeana take place.

Bush’s OFAC thugs fine Spirit Airlines (En Español)

Multan en EE.UU. a aerolínea por violar bloqueo contra Cuba

Spirit Airlines, la mayor aerolínea privada de Estados Unidos, recibió una multa de la administración federal por 100 000 dólares por violar el bloqueo comercial contra Cuba, según la agencia NOTIMEX

Un informe de la Oficina de Control de Bienes Extranjeros (OFAC) del Departamento del Tesoro, indicó que la compañía pagó cuotas al gobierno cubano por el uso de su espacio aéreo sin la debida licencia entre septiembre del 2004 y marzo del 2007.

Las normas de aviación civil en vuelos internacionales reglamentan un pago por sobrevuelo territorial, pero en el caso de empresas estadounidenses requieren licencia especial del Departamento del Tesoro debido a la ley de embargo comercial (bloqueo) impuesta a Cuba hace más de cuatro décadas.

Spirit es la segunda compañía de la Florida multada por violar el embargo en lo que va del año, luego de que Bank Atlantic, de Fort Lauderdale, fue multado con 7 500 dólares en febrero pasado.

Otras compañías multadas, según el más reciente informe son: United Radio, con sede en Florencia, Kentucky, con 67 574 dólares, y Sonida International, de Forest Hills, Nueva York, con 2 400 dólares.

Source: Granma

Travel agencies will sue Florida because of a new anti-Cuba law

A report by ABC News states that “Sixteen Miami travel agencies specializing in trips to Cuba plan to sue the state today over new regulations of their businesses.”

“A state law that goes into effect Tuesday says Florida businesses selling trips to countries on the State Department's list of nations that sponsor terrorism must post a $250,000 bond to stay in operation.”

“Travel agents say the measure will drive up operating costs and force some businesses to shut down.”

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cuban President Gives the Cuban National Flag to the Olympic Baseball Team

Juventud Rebelde

El destacado atleta Alexander Malleta recibió nuestra insignia nacional de manos del Presidente de los Consejos de Estado y de Ministros, General de Ejército Raúl Castro Ruz, quien expresó su confianza en que los peloteros cubanos darán lo mejor de sí en la competición


29 de junio de 2008 01:19:14 GMT

El Presidente de los Consejos de Estado y de Ministros, General de Ejército Raúl Castro Ruz, expresó su confianza en que los peloteros cubanos darán lo mejor de sí en la competición, al abanderar este sábado a la preselección cubana de béisbol en el Estadio Latinoamericano.

«Todos ustedes saben lo que el pueblo de Cuba espera de ustedes, y ustedes y nosotros sabemos que lo van a lograr plenamente. Aquí lo veremos en agosto», expresó Raúl.

El destacado atleta Alexander Malleta recibió nuestra insignia nacional de manos del Presidente cubano, y Frederich Cepeda en nombre de sus compañeros de equipo expresó el compromiso con el pueblo cubano, Fidel y la Revolución, que acompaña a cada uno de los integrantes de la preselección nacional que nos representará en la próxima cita estival de Beijing.

El vicepresidente del Consejo de Ministros y presidente del Comité Olímpico Cubano, José Ramón Fernández Álvarez, destacó la calidad humana y las condiciones deportivas de los peloteros.

En la Ceremonia de Abanderamiento también se encontraban presentes el presidente del INDER Christian Jiménez y otros dirigentes del deporte cubano.

El compañero Raúl con anterioridad presenció la jornada de entrenamiento de la preselección nacional.

Los representantes del béisbol cubano inician hoy domingo una gira internacional de preparación que los llevará a Holanda y Asia, como parte de su entrenamiento para los Juegos Olímpicos, donde debutarán el 13 de agosto frente a Japón.

Donate: "We the People"

It is a known fact that big corporations, special interests, lobbyists and extremely wealthy people send millions to the Republican Party. They do it both legally and illegally.

Barack Obama's campaign to become our next president is different. He relies on donations from average Americans like you and me.

Let us all pledge to put an honest and trust worthy person in the Oval Office.

Donate to Barack Obama's Campaign

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Book review: Mob in Cuba

June 26, 2008

In Havana Nocturne Irish American author T.J. English tells the riveting tale of the Mob in Cuba. It features a heady brew of organized crime lords, political corruption, world famous nightlife and international conflict. CAHIR O’DOHERTY talks to the author about the nation and his new book.

BY the mid 1950s the Havana Mob comprised some of the most notorious American underworld figures of their day. Legendary gangsters like Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Santo Trafficante, and others had come to Havana in the late 1940’s and early 50’s seeking criminal opportunities.

These were men who had honed their craft or amassed their wealth in the “glory days” of Prohibition in the U.S., and who had always dreamed of controlling their own country. A fascination with Cuba and the criminal underworld might seem like an odd fit for Tom English, 50, the son of a large Irish Catholic family of 10 brothers and sisters from Tacoma, Washington. But early in his writing career, English worked as a freelance journalist in New York City (for the Irish Voice and Irish America magazine) during the day and drove a taxi at night.

He now refers to cab driving as a metaphor for what he does as a writer – “interviewing strangers, exploring the unknown, reporting on what he sees and hears from his sojourns in and around the underworld.”

In the 1990’s while working as a reporter for the Irish Voice covering the Westies, the-last-of-their-kind New York based Irish American criminal gang, he became known as a crime author. His book The Westies was a bestseller and a movie, State of Grace, starring Sean Penn followed, as did a stint as a writer on NYPD Blue. Then came a book on Vietnam gangs in New York.

In all his books English has always had a poet’s ear for nuance and irony, which serves him well again in Havana Nocturne, an almost surreal tale of wildly competing interests.

Havana, Cuba became the Mafia Shangri-la, a place where they provided the gambling, narcotics, booze, prostitution and every other form of vice free from government interference or threat of law enforcement.

By the mid 1950s Havana had became the dark side of the American Dream, a sparkling playground built on fear, exploitation and greed, and in the fondest dreams of the Mob who ran it, a potential stepping stone to a global enterprise.

But running in tandem with the mob’s ambitions, a radical political group was determined to write a much different destiny for Cuba – a destiny completely at odds with the bloated gambling dens and show palaces of the criminal classes. From the beginning a dramatic showdown was inevitable between the double-breasted mob bosses and the small but surprisingly effective inland band of guerilla fighters led by a charismatic former lawyer and political candidate named Fidel Castro.

As English argues in his authoritative study, it’s impossible to tell the story of the Havana Mob without also chronicling the rise of Castro and the revolution he founded. It is also surprising to note that until English’s new book it has not been comprehensively done.

The fact is that Castro’s struggle found its focus in opposition to the criminality and exploitation of the mob run city, and the political regime that they claimed was in its pocket. Although English carefully points out that it’s not accurate to say that the mobsters were the chief reason for the Revolution, it’s true to say they became a powerful symbol of the national corruption and exploitation Castro’s uprising vowed to change.

The tense standoff between the two opposing groups often led to completely surreal moments – the mob responded to violent popular protests, for example, by building even more casinos and hotels and inviting more movie stars to perform. They seemed to be suggesting that style (so to speak) could triumph over substance. They threw truckloads of money at the their problems, but never at their roots.

As English notes in his book, what happened next changed the history of both Cuba and the U.S. It’s impossible, he argues in Havana Nocturne, to understand the present day stand-off between the governments of Cuba and the U.S. without first knowing the details of this deeply conflicted era.

For English, right from the start, the logistical difficulties of writing Havana Nocturne stemmed from the decades long face down and continuing embargo between the two nations.

“I went there legally,” he says “I got a special license from the U.S. Treasury Department. But my first application was rejected. You have to explain what your research is and what the theme of your research is.

“I had written I was researching the role of the mob to the Batista government in the 1950s. When that was rejected I thought maybe there’s something wrong with the politics of this application. So I rewrote it. The only thing I changed was I’m researching whether the mob funneled guns and money to the Revolution. It came back approved.”

Finding the right political formula for each nation also came in handy going through Cuban customs.

“I happened to arrive in Cuba in a really difficult time. Fidel has just gone into hospital. This was July of 2006. Cuba was in lockdown. Friends were telling me you’re not going to get in,” English recalls.

“But I told them the truth; I was there to research the mafia subject. And they’re quite proud they chased the mob out so they were predisposed to let me in. I had packed the collected works of Jose Marti, the great poet revered by Castro and the Revolution.

“When the customs guys saw it his whole demeanor changed. It was a tremendous weight had been lifted from both our shoulders. I’m sure that book was the good omen that got me in there.”

It’s difficult now to appreciate the appeal and excess of Havana in it’s heyday. For some it was a non-stop glamorous party, for many others it was an era of corruption and excess to which they were not invited. But for America’s political class it exuded a strange fascination, and some will be surprised to learn of the visitors who made the trip.

As English notes in the book, Jack Kennedy went to Havana for the first time as the senator from Massachusetts in the December of 1957, where his traveling companion Senator George Smathers of Florida (who died last year at the age of 93) introduced him to the two co-leaders of the Havana mob, Meyer Lansky and Santo Trafficante.

One of the attractions of Cuba in the 1950s for a young senator was that you could wine and dine with such people, and it all was outside the scope of the American media and American law enforcement. That was one of the attractions of Havana — what happened there, stayed there.

Says English, “It was a junket for business people and politicians who would go down there and would dabble in the sexual marketplace and the nightlife down there. They’d perhaps do things they wouldn’t do back home.”

According to English, Trafficante got a sense that Jack Kennedy had a keen taste for the ladies, and so he set up a tryst between Kennedy and three prostitutes in a very upscale neighborhood in Havana at the Hotel Commodoro, which still exists there, frozen in time.

They set him up in a room with a two way mirror – which Kennedy didn’t know – and the story goes Trafficante and an associate of his watched the tryst take place but didn’t photograph it. Trafficante later kicked himself, English explains, because it would have made terrific blackmail material.

Says English, “It’s an interesting incident because it explains the animosity that the mob felt toward the Kennedys in later years when Jack Kennedy was elected president. When he appointed Bobby Kennedy attorney general, Bobby continued his vendetta against the mob that he had started earlier, and it angered them no end. The theory being that that’s part of the blowback that led to the Kennedy assassination.”

It’s also a stark reminder that although, as English says, “the sound of the shot machines and the intoxicating rhythm of the mambo linger on” the standoff between the two competing legacies has endured, and neither side has shown any indication of forgiving or forgetting.


JG: It is very funny to see why the Bush thugs at OFAC rejected his original license application to travel to Cuba:

“I had written I was researching the role of the mob to the Batista government in the 1950s. When that was rejected I thought maybe there’s something wrong with the politics of this application. So I rewrote it. The only thing I changed was I’m researching whether the mob funneled guns and money to the Revolution. It came back approved.”

Bush and his buddies in Miami are admirers of Batista and non-admirers of the much needed Cuban Revolution. They hate it with a passion.

Friday, June 27, 2008

AIPAC Insider says that U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart is highly vulnerable

Naked Politics - The Miami Herald

Posted by Lesley Clark at 06:11 PM on June 26, 2008

AIPAC's Insider, a political tipsheet for members of the pro-Israel American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, lists Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart as among the "Highly Vulnerable" in its look at House races.

The write-up notes that Diaz-Balart has not had a competitive race since winning his first term in 1992, but that this cycle "he will face a formidable challenge from former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez." The newsletter notes that Democrats believe Martinez "can chip away at Diaz-Balart's base and make this a competitive race."

Complete Post

Carnaval de Cuba

Conga Santiaguera Cubana

Conga Santiaguera

Conga Santiaguera - Cutumba - Santiago de Cuba

Carnaval de Cuba

CUBA - Comparsa de Carnaval Cubano - TV Cubana

CUBA: The ‘Telenovela’ as Springboard for Public Debate

Inter Press Service News Agency

By Dalia Acosta

HAVANA, Jun 26 (IPS) - Months have gone by and he still receives suspicious calls on his cell-phone. Memories of a woman who became obsessed with him are triggered every time Chucho sees a popular prime time Brazilian TV "telenovela".

"When she found out that I wanted to break up, she started to harass me madly, tracking my every move, calling my cell-phone at all hours, and coming on to me sexually all the time, and when she saw that I was rejecting her, the situation deteriorated into violence," the 25-year-old told IPS.

Chucho constantly sees himself reflected in the story of Eloisa and Sergio, one of a number of couples featured in the telenovela (serial) "Mulheres Apaixonadas" (Passionate Women) that is showing three times a week on Cubavisión, one of Cuban state television’s four national channels, and is watched by millions of viewers.

Eloisa is aware that she "loves too much" and can even go to the extreme of almost killing her husband; Raquel does not know how to get away from her violent husband; Helena has placed all her hopes on reviving a lost romance; and Lorena is facing the consequences of living with a younger man who she says "could be my son."

"In Latin America, and in Cuba in particular, telenovelas are helping to prompt public discussion on issues that would be impossible to bring up in other settings," University of Havana history Professor Julio César González Pagés told IPS.

"Questions like AIDS, sexual diversity and marginalisation are reflected in these programmes more intensely than aspects of high society or high-brow culture," said González Pagés, head of the Ibero-American Masculinity Network. "The relationship between men and women is also important, especially because in many cases relationships go beyond the times when love followed the Romeo and Juliet model."

"Passionate Women" deals with a broad range of social issues like gender violence, alcoholism, the romance between two teenage lesbians and their relationships with their families, sexual harassment, prostitution and adoption.

But although the telenovela approaches these questions in a "politically correct" manner, Cuban journalist Isabel Moya argues that "it is practically impossible to delve in depth into such a wide range of issues, and many are dealt with in a fairly superficial way."

"The essential underlying problem of this telenovela is that the women live, breathe and exist for their relationships, the rest is just scenography," said Moya, the head of the gender and communications department at the "José Martí" International Institute of Journalism in Havana, and the director of the state Editorial de la Mujer (Women’s Publishing House).

"The name of the telenovela makes that clear. The plot is overly focused on ‘passion’ and the concept of love is closely linked to possession, control and complementarity, rather than depicted as an opportunity for pleasure and affection shared by two independent human beings," she told IPS.

At the same time, "the rich diversity of characters that you see in the telenovela’s opening credits sequence gives an impression of a more diverse cast than the middle and upper-middle class families that the programme’s main conflicts revolve around."

Whatever the case, academics like González Pagés are studying the way telenovelas are sparking necessary debate on social issues in Cuba.

That occurred with the Cuban telenovela "La cara oculta de la luna" (The Dark Side of the Moon), which addressed questions like AIDS and bisexuality, and could happen again in the case of Passionate Women.

As with all Cuban telenovelas, the episodes are seen by most Cubans and become such frequent subjects of conversation in the market or on the bus that at times it is hard to understand certain comments or jokes for those who aren't up-to-date on the lives of each of the programme’s characters.

"In Cuba, if you want to know what people are talking about, you have to watch the telenovela. You can even walk by a corner and a guy calls you the name of one of the characters. If you’re not up on what’s going on, you won’t know if they’re insulting you or giving you the nicest compliment in the world," Georgina Torriente, a journalist who works with a local radio station, told IPS.

Unlike in other countries where cable TV stations broadcast telenovelas all day long, Cubans only have one nightly episode, with the latest Cuban serial alternating nights with a foreign programme, usually Brazilian.

Some provincial stations show telenovelas at other times of the day, and air reruns of popular serials late at night. "People are loyal to the programmes, and tend to plan activities around them," said Torriente.

"Many academics who have studied the phenomenon of telenovelas say viewers establish a dialogue between what they watch on TV and what they experience in their daily lives, and in that sense, tackling issues like the ones that are appearing now can help generate debate and discussion within the family," said Moya.

González Pagés said that when it comes to encouraging debate on questions of equality, "any forum is legitimate, even telenovelas."

"Although this is a country with excellent laws that protect women in their relationships, there are still many deeply rooted patriarchal customs. These serials serve as spaces for bringing up subjects like violence, lesbian sexuality, alcoholism and others that we don't know how to approach otherwise," said the professor.

Cuba has issues list for U.S.

News Leader - Springfield, Missouri

DeWayne Wickham • June 27, 2008

Havana -- Josefina Vidal follows the American presidential campaign with great interest but no delusions.

Vidal is a point person in the Cuban government's effort to blunt the Bush administration's attempt to topple the Castro regime. Like many others here, she's intrigued by the possibility Barack Obama might become the next U.S. president.

She's intrigued by Obama's willingness to meet with America's enemies without preconditions (though, his advisers said, not without some diplomatic advance work). But she worries that even an Obama victory in November would not bring meaningful improvement in U.S.-Cuba relations.

After nearly a half century of saber rattling, an economic embargo and diplomatic sniping, Vidal, the Foreign Ministry's director of North American Affairs, said it's time for the two sides in this long-running Cold War drama to normalize relations.

But if the next administration expects Cuba to make major concessions in return for improved relations, she said, that won't happen.

"If the American government continues to insist that Cuba has to make dramatic change to its economic and political system, that's a nonstarter," she told me in an interview. "The same way we won't discuss the American way of government, ours is not open for discussion."

When I asked what Cuba is prepared to discuss with the next occupant of the White House, Vidal provided an unofficial list of issues.

Immigration is No. 1. Cuban officials want an end to American immigration policy that encourages Cubans to defect.

Vidal said that "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy, which allows Cubans who reach U.S. soil to stay, fuels a smuggling network operating out of Miami that charges $10,000 to $25,000 per person.

Cuban officials note that a bilateral agreement already permits 20,000 Cubans to legally migrate to the United States each year.

Another issue Cuba wants to resolve is control of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, a military facility the United States has operated on Cuban soil for more than a century.

"This is a portion of the Cuba territory that at some time has to be given back to Cuba," Vidal told me.

Cuba also wants to talk about terrorism, she said -- not the terrorism of Osama bin Laden, but the terrorism of Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada, two Cuban exiles the Castro regime believes were behind anti-Castro terrorist attacks.

President George H.W. Bush pardoned Bosch in 1990. The current Bush administration has been indifferent to significant evidence that Bosch and Posada had a hand in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that took the lives of 76 people.

Vidal said her government also wants to have formal talks with the next administration about interdiction of drug traffickers.

"I think this is an issue where we can cooperate, because two-thirds of the drugs produced in South America cross the Caribbean," she said.

She said formal contacts also could bring greater cooperation in dealing with natural disasters by producing a hurricane warning system that will help countries through the region.

Of course, the American side will have its own list.

Somewhere near the top will be the return of people who fled criminal prosecution in the United States and found refuge in Cuba.

At this point, how these issues might be resolved is less important than whether Cuba and the U.S. can end their diplomatic impasse of more than 50 years.

Obama's willingness to talk to Cuba -- and other countries the U.S. doesn't agree with on important issues -- isn't politically naive. It's enlightened -- and a sign the world will be a much better place if he makes it to the White House.

Write Wickham at

More info on Cuba's 'breakthrough' cancer drug

Dr. Gisela Gonzalez, head of the Cuban cancer research team, holding vials of the new drug.
Photo: Roberto Leon / NBC News


Posted: Friday, June 27, 2008 11:07 AM
Filed Under: Havana, Cuba
By Mary Murray, NBC News Havana Bureau Chief

HAVANA – A Cuban Scientific Research Institute just patented a promising new drug that it says helps terminal lung cancer patients live longer.

In some cases, the drug known as CimaVax EGF extended the lives of participants in the treatment trials by close to a year.

CimaVax EGF, is classified as a therapeutic vaccine, because it is composed of modified proteins that help the body recognize and destroy cancer cells for those already suffering from lung cancer. It does not prevent lung cancer.

"It is the first lung cancer vaccine to be patented in the world," said Dr. Gisela Gonzalez, head of the team that researched and developed the drug through testing with hundreds of patients over 16 years.

She did point out that other countries are working on similar vaccines, but that they are still in the development stage.

Gonzalez cautioned that while it is "not a miracle drug," she does believe it is a "breakthrough in treating terminally ill patients."

Gonzalez said the research team would not identify any side effects of CimaVax EFG, but said that it seems to have numerous advantages over traditional treatments alone. Patients breathe easier, experience less fatigue, less pain and increased appetite. It is administered in conjunction with conventional treatments of chemo and radiotherapy.

CimaVax EGF is undergoing testing in other countries.

After Cuba concluded the Phase One study that determined safe dosage and the best way to administer the vaccine, Phase Two trials started in Cuba, Canada and England, said Gonzalez. This August additional ones begin in China and Peru. Already the vaccine is being registered in Malaysia for sale in Europe.

While testing has been approved by the U.S. government, clinical studies may not begin for at least two years.

The Phase Two studies that were conducted in Cuba and elsewhere took a look at how much longer patients lived with CimaVax EGF as compared to other treatments. Those given the vaccine lived on average 11.47 months compared to 5.33 months for terminal patients treated with only chemotherapy and/or radiation. In the best case scenarios, some fortunate patients lived for up to 18.53 months while taking the new vaccine, compared to other patients who lived for just 7.55 months while undergoing conventional treatment.

Given those clinical results, Cuba started Phase Three studies in the hope that CimaVax EGF could become the new standard of care in treating end stage lung cancer.

About 4,500 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed annually in Cuba while the disease claims over 1.3 million deaths worldwide annually, with the highest rates in the United States, Canada and Europe.

Across the globe, lungs are the most common site of fatal cancers for both women and men. Lung cancer generally affects people over 50 who have a history of smoking, although other risk factors include exposure to second hand tobacco smoke or pollutant emissions from cars or factories.

CimaVax EGF could also prove effective in slowing other cancers, believes Dr. Tania Crombet, the team’s chief clinical researcher at Havana’s Center for Molecular Immunology. She said that researchers have begun testing CimaVax EGF’s effectiveness against breast, prostate, uterus and pancreas cancers.

Crombet also said CimaVax EGF is now available in Cuban hospitals for any patient, regardless of nationality. "We can market the vaccine in Cuba and receive patients from outside."

And that could mean an influx of fresh, hard currency for the struggling island’s economy.

With more than 7,000 scientists dedicated to researching new drugs, Cuba has one of the most sophisticated biotech industries in the developing world. Last year the country earned $350 million from exporting 180 different medicines.


JG: I am very proud of my native Cuba. Their advances in biological technology and medical drugs is truly amazing for a little poor country of only eleven million people. APPLAUSE!

Are you fired up and ready to go?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

LAWG Report: Appropriations Committee activity on Cuba related bill

Latin America Working Group

June 26, 2008

Dear Cuba Policy Advocates,

Cuba Provisions in Financial Services Appropriations bill: We bring you a brief update today about activity on these provisions in the House Appropriations Committee. We wrote to you about this on Thursday, June 19. Yesterday, June 25, Congressman Jose Serrano (D-NY) presented his Financial Services Appropriations bill to the full Appropriations Committee for approval and readying for a vote on the floor of the House.

The bill included three small Cuba provisions that do the following:

1) Allow Cuban Americans to travel to Cuba to visit family once a year rather than once every three years;

2) Expand the U.S. definition of family to include aunts, uncles, 1st cousins, nieces, and nephews.

3) Tweak the "cash-in-advance" regulations to allow agricultural goods to leave U.S. ports for Cuba prior to receiving Cuba's cash payment; title is transfered after the cash is received in the seller's account.

The bill passed out of the Appropriations Committee with the Cuba language intact. This is a small, but positive step -- one tiny chink in the full travel ban. Obviously we -- and you -- want more than this. We want unrestricted travel for all Americans to Cuba.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) spoke strongly against the Cuba provisions in committee, as did Rep. Allen Boyd (D-FL); but they did not offer an amendment to remove the language from the bill. Rep. Serrano responded with clear arguments for the Cuba provisions, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) also spoke passionately in favor of engagement with Cuba. It is our assessment that Reps. Wasserman Schultz and and Boyd were under pressure as Democrats not to offer an amendment but to defer their opposition to the House floor when the bill is considered by the full House. Also, we believe that they did not have the votes to defeat the Cuba provisions in committee.

The next step is for the bill to move to the House floor for amendments and approval -- in July or September, date yet uncertain. Because this is an election year, and because it is unlikely that appropriations bills will go to President Bush's desk for his signature this year (the Democrats want to be able to re-write the budget and the appropriations bills in early 2009 under a potential Democratic president), we cannot predict the fate of this bill. However, if it comes to the House floor, we have to be ready to defend the Cuba provisions. Losing would send the absolutely wrong message to south Florida and to a new Administration. So, we will come back to you for your help in contacting your members of Congress when the Financial Services bill has a date for floor consideration. Our task will be more difficult in front of the whole House; we will need you.

We want to thank Rep. Serrano and his staff for the good work they did on this bill.


JG: Hip! Hip! Hooray!

100th Anniversary of the birth of Salvador Allende

Today, we remember the valiant anti-fascist fighter, Salvador Allende, Socialist President of Chile, who died during the military coup of General Augusto Pinochet, who was acting at the behest of the CIA and two of the greatest scum of the world: Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger.

Compañero Salvador Allende, PRESENTE!

El ultimo combate de Allende

Fidel Castro: Salvador Allende es un ejemplo que perdura

Gas could fall to $2 if Congress acts, analysts say

Limiting speculation would push prices to fundamental level, lawmakers told

By Rex Nutting & Michael Kitchen, MarketWatch

Last update: 4:24 p.m. EDT June 23, 2008

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The price of retail gasoline could fall by half, to around $2 a gallon, within 30 days of passage of a law to limit speculation in energy-futures markets, four energy analysts told Congress on Monday.

Testifying to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Michael Masters of Masters Capital Management said that the price of oil would quickly drop closer to its marginal cost of around $65 to $75 a barrel, about half the current $135.

Fadel Gheit of Oppenheimer & Co., Edward Krapels of Energy Security Analysis and Roger Diwan of PFC Energy Consultants agreed with Masters' assessment at a hearing on proposed legislation to limit speculation in futures markets.

Complete story


JG: I have been saying it for a long time, the [Bleep!]ing greedy capitalist speculators have been driving oil futures up. Better yet, NATIONALIZE ALL THE OIL COMPANIES!

High-level Chinese official finishes his very successful visit to Cuba

2008-06-26 04:44:50

HAVANA, June 25 (Xinhua) -- He Guoqiang, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, ended Wednesday his friendly four-day visit to Cuba where he met with Cuba's high-level leaders.

He and the Chinese high-level delegation that accompanied him were seen off by the secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party Fernando Ramirez, in Varadero's airport, 140km east from Havana.

Before leaving to Trinidad and Tobago He, who is also secretary of the CPC's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said that his stay in Cuba was a success.

During his stay in Cuba, He met with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro who has a severe intestinal sickness since 23 months ago and with Cuban Leader Raul Castro.

He also met with the Cuban First Vice President Jose Ramon Machado and witnessed the sign of an agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation between Cuba and China.

The agenda included a homage to the Cuban leader Jose Marti and a visit to an agriculture and livestock production cooperative in the municipality of Guira de Melena.

He had arrived in Havana on Sunday and said that the propose of the visit is "to deep even more in the mutual knowledge, to strength the Chinese-Cuban friendship, to increase the political trust and to promote a beneficial cooperation."

He and his retinue will also visit Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil and Angola.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

IBAF hails Cuban baseball effort

People's Daily Online

16:25, June 26, 2008

The president of the International Baseball Association Federation (IBAF) Harvey Schiller hailed Wednesday the efforts made by the Cuban sports authorities to achieve the return of baseball to the Olympic program.

During a press conference before finishing his three-days visitto Cuba, Schiller compared his visit in Cuba with a home run with full bases.

Schiller traveled to Cuba as part of his strategy to make baseball to return to the Olympic Games, since the game was excluded from Olympic Games London-2012.


Cuba's 1st gay pride parade is scrapped

The Chicago Tribune

June 26, 2008

HAVANA—Cuba's first gay pride parade was abruptly canceled Wednesday, moments before it was to begin.

The unofficial march, organized with Florida's Unity Coalition, was not sanctioned by Cuba's National Center for Sex Education, which is headed by Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raul Castro. Activist Mario Jose Delgado said two organizers who were to deliver a set of demands to the Justice Ministry were detained Tuesday.

"Mariela Castro's work is good ... and we're not criticizing it," Aliomar Janjaque, one of the detained leaders, said last week. "But we believe they should do more."


Cuban church protests support for gay rights

CARICOM passport set for December

Jamaica Gleaner

published: Thursday | June 26, 2008

MINISTER OF Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr Ken Baugh, yesterday announced the introduction of a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) passport for Jamaicans by December 2008.

Baugh, who is also the deputy prime minister, said the Government wanted to deepen economic ties with Latin America and Cuba.

He said Jamaica would carry out a policy of fully fledged engagement with Cuba.

The minister also issued an indirect call for the United States (US) to lift its embargo against the communist state, noting that this decision would benefit the entire region.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Gang of 66's Debbie 'Dubbya' to offer anti-Cuba amendment

L.A. Times Blogs

Congress looks to change Cuba policies

A House Committee is expected to give the green light today to a financial services bill that would ease U.S. trade and travel restrictions with Cuba.

The $43 billion bill includes provisions that would allow Americans with family in Cuba to travel there once a year instead of once every three years. It also will broaden the definition of who qualifies as family by including first cousins, aunts and uncles.

The provisions are meant to appeal to Cuban-Americans, not the Cuban government, Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee told a Capitol Hill publication. Another provision in the bill would end the requirement that Cuba pay for agricultural imports before they leave a U.S. port.

Instead, the Cuban government would be permitted to pay once goods have arrived in Cuba. A Florida congresswoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is expected to offer an amendment to remove the Cuba provisions from the bill. Given that most House lawmakers oppose easing U.S. policy on Cuba, a spokesman for Wasserman Schultz said he thought it was unlikely the measures would remain in the bill.

-- Nicole Gaouette in Washington, D.C.

End of EU sanctions on Cuba deals US a setback

June 25, 2008

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The European Union's decision to lift sanctions against Cuba dealt a setback to US diplomacy after Washington failed to convince eastern European allies to block the move, analysts say.

"It was a failure for American diplomacy, which did everything possible through pressure on eastern European countries, like the Czechs or the Poles, to get a different result," said Janette Habel, an analyst with France's Institute of Higher Learning on Latin America.

Marifeli Perez-Stable, vice president of the Inter-American Dialogue think-tank here, said Washington's hardline stance against Cuba was dented because its eastern European allies backed the EU's decision.

The US position to keep up its tough stance on Cuba "until the two Castros die is running out of fuel," Perez-Stable said.

"In Europe or Latin America, no one agrees with US policy on Cuba, whether the governments are on the right or on the left," she said.

Complete article

Cuba plans its first gay pride parade

Wednesday June 25, 2008

Today, Cuba's gays are planning some reform of their own. Working with Florida's Unity Coalition, activists in Cuba have organised the island's first gay pride parade.

Members of the Foundation LGTB Reinaldo Arenas in Memoriam and other groups will participate in the march, according to Unity. They will meet in Havana's Don Quixote park at 10am and march to the Ministry of Justice to deliver a series of demands.

Marchers seek an apology from the government for its past repression and, in some cases, incarceration of openly gay citizens and the inhumane treatment of prisoners with AIDS, according to Unity.

In Havana, gay activist Aliomar Janjaque said that despite some progress on gay rights, discrimination against homosexuals continues in Cuba. He said people are still passed over for jobs, prevented from gathering in certain places and, in some cases, jailed because of their sexual orientation.

"Mariela Castro's work is good and valid and we're not criticising it," said Janjaque, 31, a psychology student who is president of the Foundation LGTB Reinaldo Arenas in Memoriam. "But we believe they should do more."

Mariela Castro, Raul Castro's daughter, heads the island's National Centre for Sex Education. In May, she led a public rally against homophobia that briefly brought gay activists out of the shadows. Earlier this month, Cuban officials announced they were allowing free sex-change operations for transsexuals.

In South Florida, Cuban natives like Arturo Alvarez, who co-owns Club Azucar, said the government's recent measures don't go far enough.

"We'll see with this parade if openness has really been achieved," said Alvarez, 44, an internist by training who deserted 20 years ago while on a medical mission in Namibia.

Alvarez traveled to Cuba in May to attend Mariela Castro's rally and is cautiously hopeful about signs of change on the island. As a gay teenager in Havana, he was barred from Communist youth groups and experienced withering rejection.

"You couldn't have the slightest gay mannerisms. You could show no trace of who you really were," said Alvarez, who has organised gay pride parades in several Latin American cities, including the first in Montevideo, Uruguay, last year.

For decades under Fidel Castro, Cuban gays were subject to widespread antipathy and government crackdowns, Alvarez and others said. But the community has seen a growing level of tolerance since the 1990s and a lively gay social scene has for years thrived in Havana.

Janjaque said organisers hope an orderly, peaceful march would draw attention to their concerns.

"We want to raise awareness but we don't want to provoke a wave of repression against the gay community," he said. "If there is a hostile reaction from the government, we will stage a much larger demonstration. We will take to the streets."

An open email to Cuban Americans

Subject: U.S. Representative Jose Serrano will try to reform Cuba travel policies

Within the next 30 days, it is possible that the restrictions that Bush placed on Cuba travel may be changed or reformed.

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, of which Jose Serrano (D-NY) is a member, will take up changes that were approved by a House panel.

It would allow Cuban-Americans to travel to Cuba every year, as opposed to once every three years, which Bush imposed on us in 2004.

In addition, Cuban Americans would be allowed to visit uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and cousins, which Bush does consider as members of our extended family.

It is imperative that we write to Mr. Serrano and to the chairman of the committee, Dave Obey, and to the other members of the panel to express our support.

The website for the appropriations committee is

U.S. Senator Barack Obama supports unlimited travel to Cuba by Cuban Americans and the right to send unlimited money remittances to our families in the island.


Excellent relations between Cuba and Angola

All Africa.Com

Angola Press Agency (Luanda)

25 June 2008

Posted to the web 25 June 2008

The Angolan Foreign Affairs minister, João Bernardo de Miranda, on Tuesday in Luanda said that Angola and Cuba have exemplary friendship and co-operation relations since 1975.

The minister was speaking at the signing ceremony of two co-operation agreements with Cuba, specifically in the fields of judicial sentences execution and legal aid, in the ambit of the work visit that the Cuban Foreign minister, Felipe Perez Roque, is carrying out to Angola.

Restrictions on Cuba travel imposed by Bush will be challenged in the U.S. House of Representatives (Report in Spanish)



Junio 25, 2008

La contienda electoral por la presidencia ha acelerado una pugna que se viene librando en Washington y Miami por las prohibiciones de viajes a Cuba. Esas controvertidas medidas tomadas por George W. Bush en el 2004, han devenido uno de los más importantes temas en el estado de Florida, donde el partido demócrata lo considera el reto principal en los comicios presidenciales de noviembre.

La agencia Reuters informó el miércoles 18 que un panel de la Cámara de Representantes había aprobado el día anterior a favor de dejar sin efecto esas prohibiciones, porque los cubanos residentes en Estados Unidos, podrán visitar a un rango mayor de parientes en su país de origen todos los años, en lugar de cada tres años como decretó Bush. Sin embargo, el asunto no es tan fácil pues, aunque la propia Reuters sitúa el problema en un contexto más realista al recordar que en el pasado reciente, similares medidas sobre el comercio y los viajes entre EE.UU., y Cuba han sido aprobadas en el Congreso, pero han quedado sin efecto o muy neutralizadas frente a la oposición del mandatario.

De ese modo W. complace al grupo cubano americano que reclama haberle posibilitado acceder a la presidencia y amenazaron con no respaldarlo en las elecciones del 2004 contra el demócrata Edward Kerry.

Este predominio cubano americano de Florida es el que desafía el partido demócrata para las elecciones de noviembre próximo, con las repudiadas prohibiciones como divisa. Retan no solo la presidencia, sino a la camarilla batistiana Lehtinen-Díaz Balart de la Cámara de Representantes, que ha hecho carrera tratando de aniquilar a la Revolución en la tierra que los vio nacer.

El representante José Serrano, presidente del panel del Comité de Apropiaciones, declaró al presentar el proyecto que la propuesta no es una concesión al Gobierno cubano, sino a los cubano americanos, que se mantienen reclamando su derecho de viajar a la Isla cuando deseen. Pero la iniciativa, como se sabe, debe ser discutida por el pleno de ambas cámaras. Aunque se apruebe, está sujeta al veto presidencial.

Serrano detalló las dificultades que existen ahora para visitar a parientes enfermos en Cuba y dijo que el proyecto permitiría también visitar a primos, sobrinos y tíos, a los cuales se les privó de ese derecho por Bush.

Asimismo, la propuesta pretende normalizar el comercio de productos agrícolas removiendo los obstáculos que fuerzan al pre pago de los embarques.

Un proyecto recién presentado por los legisladores estaduales de Florida, David Rivera, y Carey Baker, obligaría de ser aprobado a que "las compañías con licencia del Departamento de Estado para prestar servicios de viajes a Cuba y a cualquier otra nación terrorista", paguen un cargo de registro anual de 2 500 dólares y depositen una garantía de 300 000 dólares. Las compañías de viajes se quejan de que la medida incrementará sus costos, los obligará a defenderse de alegaciones infundadas de personas con motivos políticos y hará casi imposible para muchas familias limitadas económicamente costearse un viaje a la Isla.

Unas 120 familias cubanas y sus agentes de viajes le pidieron el miércoles último al gobernador Charlie Crist que vetara ese proyecto de ley que impondría las nuevas regulaciones más duras a las compañías.

"No hay nada en este proyecto de ley que te proteja como consumidor. Es básicamente una cacería de brujas de parte de personas con sus propias agendas políticas", dijo Tessie Aral de ABC Charters Travel en Miami, quien organizó la protesta en la capital estatal.

Sylvia Wilhelm, directora ejecutiva de Cuban American Commission for Family Rights, cree que el proyecto de ley es otro intento de año electoral de mostrarse "duro" con relación a Cuba. Pero agregó que la medida podría tener un efecto contrario este año pues cree que la mayoría de los cubano americanos quieren que se levanten las restricciones.

"Ningún gobierno tiene derecho a separar a las familias", dijo. "Lo único que las restricciones han logrado es crear problemas a la familia cubana. Nuestro grupo va a hacer campaña activa contra cualquier candidato que apoye las regulaciones que separan a las familias".

El periodista Álvaro Fernández representó a la Comisión Cubano Americana pro Derechos Familiares, invitado a hablar durante uno de tres paneles en una conferencia en Washington, D.C., auspiciada por el Centro para la Política Internacional, tenía como temas "Imperativas para una Nueva Política Hacia Cuba. Opiniones Cambiantes en la Comunidad Cubano americana". En ese panel hablaron Alfredo Durán, del Comité Cubano para la Democracia; Joe García, director del Partido Demócrata de Miami-Dade y candidato a enfrentar a uno de los Díaz- Balart, así como Antonio Zamora, del Foro Legal EE.UU.-Cuba.

"Probablemente el aspecto más interesante de nuestro panel fue que, aunque nosotros cuatro tenemos ideas diferentes en cuanto a Cuba, todos estuvimos de acuerdo en lo siguiente: la crueldad de las restricciones que limitan los viajes familiares a Cuba, además del estado de cosas en este país, bien señalaría la posibilidad de un cambio político en Miami...—expresó Fernández—. En EE.UU., la política sobre Cuba es local y fácil de identificar. Es fabricada en Miami y podemos darle tres nombres: Lincoln Díaz-Balart, Ileana Ross-Lehtinen y Mario Díaz-Balart. Mi premisa fue simple y ya la he mencionado: saquemos de Miami a uno, dos o a los tres congresistas del sur de Florida y la política EE.UU.-Cuba que existe comenzará a desmadejarse".

Advirtió sobre un comité de acción política (PAC) anticubano que reparte contribuciones de campaña. Denunció cómo recientemente fueron repartidos más de 300 000 dólares, dedicados a comprar legisladores demócratas recién llegados al Congreso, que se conforman con unos pocos miles de dólares, distribuidos por Debbie Wasserman Schultz, una congresista demócrata del sur de Florida.

"En el tema de Cuba —dijo—, la derrota en las urnas de por lo menos una de esas tres personas podría causar un cambio enorme. Y Miami nunca más sería la misma ciudad. El hecho es que no se pierde nada con probarlo".

Mientras tanto, Bush sigue dando muestras de su concepción unilateralmente hegemónica. No cree en la soberanía ni siquiera de sus aliados europeos, a pesar del gran desprestigio que sus políticas y otras arrogancias le han granjeado en el mundo y en el propio Estados Unidos.

El diario londinense The Guardian dio a conocer que varios empresarios ingleses, fueron conminados a cortar los negocios que tienen con Cuba o a retirar sus cuentas de Lloyds TSB. Esa institución escribió a sus clientes diciéndoles que deben mover sus cuentas a otro banco, "aparentemente amenazados por el gobierno de Estados Unidos, el cual ha dicho que procesará a cualquier empresa que tenga alguna sucursal en territorio norteamericano y a la vez sostenga negocios con Cuba".

La firma Queenswood Natural Foods Company, de Bridgwater, Somerset, recibió una de las cartas en la que se le comunicó que Lloyds no autorizaría más pagos de la compañía para comprar azúcar a Cuba. Otra misiva de Lloyds TSB fue a una empresa inglesa que ha importado habanos de la Isla, desde hace nada menos que un siglo, la conminaba a buscar otras alternativas de bancos para realizar sus pagos al pequeño país caribeño.

La embajada cubana criticó al banco y dijo al diario que la acción forma parte de la ilegal guerra económica a nivel mundial, que Estados Unidos incrementa en los últimos años de Bush con esas presiones a los negocios y las finanzas, que encolerizan a los empresarios. Pero estos prefieren buscar otros bancos. The Guardian apuntó que ellos saben que no se trata de un asunto ideológico, pues comercian sin problemas con China y Vietnam. Un vocero de Lloyds declinó contestar las preguntas del diario.

El parlamentario laborista Ian Gibson condenó la actitud de Lloyds y dijo que promoverá acciones contra esta vengativa campaña.

Durante la reunión de la UE sobre Cuba en Luxemburgo, las presiones teleguiadas por Washington tuvieron en vilo a los observadores.

Algunos conocedores de la actualidad política en Estados Unidos advertían a los europeos que corrían el peligro de llegar tarde a admitir la realidad. challenge

En efecto, hace tiempo hemos notado que los europeos podrían quedar colgados de la brocha si siguen en la onda miamense de Manuel Aznar.

Los daños de estos días en Mississippi, los aumentos en el precio de la gasolina, muestran que las políticas de Bush, incluso las del medio ambiente y la guerra, están en crisis en el mundo y en su propio país.


JG: U.S. Senator Barack Obama should use his influence as leader and presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party to make sure that the infamous Gang of 66 of Debbie 'Dubbya' Wasserman Schultz and James Clyburn is stopped from torpedoing the reforms on travel to Cuba.

Cuba welcomes end of EU sanctions

June 24, 2008

HAVANA (AFP) — Cuba welcomed on Tuesday the European Union's lifting of sanctions against the communist-rule island, saying "truth" and "reason" had defeated the punitive measures.

"We never surrendered in this confrontation, because we were convinced that reason would prevail," Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said during an official visit in Angola, according to the state-run agency Prensa Latina.

The EU "had no other choice but to abandon its strongarm policy," Perez Roque said. "The truth opened the way in the recent decision of the EU to lift its sanctions."

It was the first reaction of Raul Castro's regime since the EU officially lifted its sanctions on Cuba Monday in the hope of encouraging democracy on the island in the post-Fidel Castro era.

The move was decried by Washington and Cuban dissidents.

The measure was a largely symbolic political step as the EU sanctions have been suspended since 2005. It was championed by Spain, which normalized relations with Cuba last year.

Last weekend, Fidel Castro, 81, who officially handed power to his brother Raul in February due to an illness, described the EU's decision to end the sanctions "enormous hypocricy."

Castro criticized the EU for demanding that human rights be respected in Cuba, while it approved a "brutal" immigration law and kept quiet about abuses committed by US President George W. Bush's administration.

Cuban dissidents had said that Fidel Castro's decision to voice his criticism of the EU while the government remained silent hinted at a disagreement between the Castro brothers and within the Communist Party.


JG: As long as other countries respect Cuba's national sovereignty and independence, Cuba could and should have friendly relations with any country based on policies of mutual respect. What I am sure Cuba will always reject is those misguided and imperialistic countries who try to impose ill advised dictates on its government and its people. Live and let live.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Homo Sapiens

Feingold, Dodd planning filibuster of wiretap bill

Dodd, Feingold Statement on Senate Consideration of FISA

Will Immediately Offer Amendment to Strip Retroactive Immunity

June 24, 2008

Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) released the following statement today in response to the announcement that the Senate this week will consider the compromise legislation that would reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) this week.

“This is a deeply flawed bill, which does nothing more than offer retroactive immunity by another name. We strongly urge our colleagues to reject this so-called ‘compromise’ legislation and oppose any efforts to consider this bill in its current form. We will oppose efforts to end debate on this bill as long as it provides retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that may have participated in the President’s warrantless wiretapping program, and as long as it fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans.

“If the Senate does proceed to this legislation, our immediate response will be to offer an amendment that strips the retroactive immunity provision out of the bill. We hope our colleagues will join us in supporting Americans’ civil liberties by opposing retroactive immunity and rejecting this so-called ‘compromise’ legislation.”

Cuba approves, makes available lung cancer vaccine

Tue Jun 24, 2008 8:37pm BST

By Jeff Franks

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban scientists said on Tuesday the first vaccine to extend lives of lung cancer patients has been approved by Cuban authorities for use and is available in the island's hospitals.

The drug, CimaVax EGF, has been shown to increase survival rates on average four to five months and much longer in some patients, they said in a news conference at Cuba's Center of Molecular Immunology.

In contrast to chemotherapy, the traditional treatment for lung cancer, they said CimaVax EGF has few side effects because it is a modified protein that attacks only cancer cells.

They said it was the first lung cancer vaccine to be approved anywhere in the world, although there are others currently being tested.

"It's the first vaccine for lung cancer registered in the world," said Gisela Gonzalez, who headed the development of the vaccine, begun in 1992.

The drug is in various stages of clinical trials in a number of other countries and is most likely to be approved next in Peru, where it could be publicly available by year's end, Gonzalez said.

She said several private companies had been licensed to market the vaccine, but it will be produced in Cuba. Cost for the treatment had not yet been determined, Gonzalez said.

Other cancer vaccines under development elsewhere include one made by Antigenics Inc against melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and another made by Avant Immunotherapeutics Inc and licensed by drug giant Pfizer Inc that attacks glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and deadly type of brain tumor.


Tania Crombet, director of clinical investigations at Havana's molecular immunology center, said people from outside Cuba can come to the island for treatment.

"It's possible to provide this vaccine to any patient, because it's available in Cuba, it's approved by the Cuban drug agency so we can market the vaccine in Cuba and we can receive patients from outside," she said.

The exception would probably be Americans, she said, who are restricted from Cuba travel by the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba in place since 1962.

"Even though there is a new therapeutic tool approved in Cuba they probably wouldn't be able to come to Cuba to receive it because of the embargo," Crombet said.

The drug has been approved for clinical trial in the United States, but its possible use there is at least two to three years away, Gonzalez said.

Cuba's state-run biotechnology sector includes around 50 research and development centers and is considered one of the most advanced in the developing world.

(Editing by Michael Christie and Anthony Boadle)

Do the Fanjul brothers exploit their farm workers?

The controversial film documentary, Sugar Babies, will never play at Casa de Campo -- the resort in the Dominican Republic built by the Fanjuls, Florida's sugar barons.

The subject of the documentary is the miserable working conditions and hopelessness of farm workers on Fanjul plantations in the DR.

The documentary had been scheduled to play at the Miami International Film Festival, but was yanked for some unaccounted for reason by Festival staff just days before the festival commencement.

Last week, the film garnered the award for best documentary by the Delray Beach Film Festival. In a press statement, Festival Director Dr. Michael Posner said, "The audience got to see the ongoing atrocities that still exist in the world today."

Source: Eye on Miami

Spain: Move to lift Cuba sanctions shows EU's independence

EU Business

24 June 2008, 00:04 CET

(MADRID) - The European Union has demonstrated its independence from Washington on foreign policy matters with a move to lift its diplomatic sanctions against Cuba, a Spanish government official said Monday.

"The EU has shown its independence and its autonomy on foreign policy because, before and after the decision, there were statements from the White House indicating its direct opposition," said Spain's secretary of state for the EU, Diego Lopez Garrido.


Obama has a lead in South Florida, poll shows

A new Zogby International poll shows Barack Obama sitting on a 16-point lead over John McCain in South Florida.

Posted on Tue, Jun. 24, 2008


In a sign that Democrat Barack Obama will be competitive in the nation's largest swing state, he is beating Republican John McCain comfortably in South Florida and has a slight edge among Hispanics, according to a new Miami Herald poll.

Obama is ahead 46-30 percent over McCain in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties in the survey of 807 people conducted by Zogby International. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.



JG: Go Barack! Obama in the White House on January 20, 2009! I am fired up and ready to go!

Monday, June 23, 2008

What are Cuba's Joven Club

Joven Club de Computación y Electrónica

Who Are We?

An initiative of our Commander in Chief, the Computer and Electronics Clubs for Young People (JCCEs) are a program undertaken on September 8th, 1987 to contribute to the computerization of Cuban society.

There are over 600 program locales scattered across the country. In some 96 boroughs, over two clubs are in operation.

Five mobile computer labs take club services to areas which are difficult to access in the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, Granma and the Special Borough of Isla de la Juventud.

Computer Club head offices have opened in the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Ciudad Habana, Cienfuegos and the Special Borough of Isla de la Juventud.

The program’s technological infrastructure consists of 7,138 computers —one club for every 18,673 inhabitants—and means for printing, digitizing images, storing and reproducing large volumes of information, entirely at everyone's disposal.
In the twenty years since its creation, some 1,310,516 people have benefited from the program's regular courses. Over a million services are offered monthly.

What we do

Our clubs offer a broad range of services, including: use of computer consoles, intranet navigation, courses for state employees, email services for Latin American students in Cuba and/or relatives of Cubans working abroad and courses on different computer and electronics-related subjects.

Three types of courses are offered:

1. Introductory computer courses
2. Programming and applications courses
3. Electronics courses

These are taught in the following manner:

1. 64 hour courses taught in two segments over the year (October – January and March – June)
2. Interest circles (October to May)

The main subjects taught are:

1. Computer operation
2. Office package
3. Programming
4. Basic and digital electronics
5. Networks and email
6. Information security

How we do it

To encourage computer literacy among the Cuban people, make new technologies available to everyone and contribute to the process of computerizing society, our program relies, in the first place, on its human capital, 5,736 employees, 3,572 of whom are instructors. In addition to this, the program has over 600 locales and a broad technological infrastructure.

A municipal, provincial and national training system which works in coordination with universities, research centres and information science polytechnics, among other institutions, guarantees training for program instructors. Thanks to this system, at its 20th anniversary, the program could boast of 700 instructors who had completed the "New Technologies for Education" Masters program.

TinoRed, an electronics information services network, constitutes a one-of-a-kind system composed of analogous sub-systems for the transmission and reception of information to and from regional and provincial servers and/or local networks and club user stations, the UJC National Committee and other entities and individuals. Through this network, the reality of Cuba’s youth, its culture, educational system, history, sports community, medical system and other areas is conveyed abroad.

Remember The Love Boat and Little House on the Prairie?

American TV has gone like the country: donwnhill. They don't have good programs like these anymore!

U.S.-Cuban Relations: A New Beginning?

Center for International Policy

June 20, 2008

By Wayne S. Smith

My last conversation with Raul Castro came some 26 years ago, as I was bowing out as Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. But U.S.-Cuban relations are so frozen in time that he might have uttered the words yesterday.

"Why," Raul asked, "is it so difficult to begin a dialogue with your government? There are major issues that may require lengthy negotiations. There are others, however, that could be solved quickly. And in the process of addressing them, we could improve the atmosphere. But we must begin to talk. That is the key thing: to talk."

Unfortunately, there were no takers. The Reagan Administration wasn't interested in dialogue. Nor, all these years later, is the Bush Administration. Raul has several times, since taking over the presidency some two years ago, again suggested a dialogue without preconditions. Again, no response. Of course not, for the Bush Administration's stated objective is to bring down the Castro regime. As then-Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega put it in October of 2003: "The president is determined to see the end of the Castro regime and the dismantling of the apparatus that has kept him in office so long."

In other words, they want a final solution, and thus there is no place for dialogue or negotiations. But what has this "all-or-nothing" approach achieved? Absolutely nothing. It has not brought down the Cuban government nor forced any concessions from it. Nor has it undermined their economy. On the contrary, they have a growth rate of about 8%. And rather than advancing human rights, in 2003 the hard-line Bush approach led to the arrest of more political prisoners. And so long as the announced U.S. objective is to bring down the Cuban government, there will be no general release, no matter how many times the U.S. demands it.

The Bush Administration makes much of its empathy for Cuban dissidents, but in fact it ignores their request that it ease restrictions on family travel and remittances, a request voiced even by Marta Beatriz Roque, as well as Vladimiro Roca, Elizardo Sanchez, Oscar Espinosa Chepe and others. The new measures the Bush Administration imposed in 2004 limiting Cuban-Americans to one visit every three years, with no provision for emergency travel, are indeed cruel and pointless. But they will doubtless remain in place no matter how strongly the great majority of Cuban-Americans - and the dissidents - urge their removal.

And Bush will continue to reject dialogue. So does McCain, who seems to see a willingness to talk as a sign of weakness. For all practical purposes, he seems intent on continuing the sterile policies of the last eight years.

For his part, Obama indicates a willingness to talk and to remove the restrictions on family travel and remittances. He has been congratulated not only by many Cuban-Americans, but also by Oscar Espinosa Chepe and other dissidents for doing so. This could be the beginning of something new!

We should not delude ourselves. Normalizing relations with Cuba will be a difficult task, made even more so by certain provisions of the Helms-Burton Act of 1996. Indeed, the latter will probably have to be annulled before the embargo can be fully removed.

Much can be done at the start, nonetheless, to create a new atmosphere. The new administration should immediately lift travel controls and simplify the process by which Cuba pays for U.S. agricultural sales. The latter might then be doubled or even tripled.

The key, however, is to make it clear - either simply by our actions, or perhaps as stated in a meeting of senior leaders - that it will no longer be our objective to "bring down" the Cuban government. And we should now discuss disagreements through normal diplomatic channels, as we do with other countries.

The U.S. of course wants to see Cuba release political prisoners and to move toward a more open society. But we will not accomplish that through threats and refusal to talk. And putting those goals forward as preconditions for engagement with the U.S. is the best way to delay their achievement - and engagement. We should see them as goals, not preconditions.

Wayne S. Smith served in the U.S. Embassy in Havana from 1958 until the rupture of relations in 1961. He was then Chief of the U.S. Interests Section from 1979 until 1982 and is now an Adjunct Professor of Latin American Studies at Johns Hopkins University and the director of the university's Cuba Exchange Program.


Some South Florida voters would back lifting Cuba travel restrictions for exiles