Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fidel and the Dolphins at Cuba's National Aquarium

August 30, 2010

Aroldis Chapman heading for 'The Show' tonight

Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Several websites have reported that Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman will be called up to the Cincinnati Reds tonight. Aroldis, who has thrown a nasty 105 MPH toward home plate, would be eligible for the playoffs if he is called up before September 1st.

He helped the Cuban Reds; now he will help the Cincinnati Reds.

Reds ready to call up Chapman Tuesday


Monday, August 30, 2010


40 Photos

If you are in doubt as to what is Surrealism,
click here.

Mi Unicornio Azul - Silvio Rodriguez

Mi unicornio azul
ayer se me perdió,
pastando lo dejé
y desapareció.
Cualquier información
...bien la voy a pagar.
Las flores que dejó
no me han querido hablar.

Mi unicornio azul
ayer se me perdió,
no sé si se me fue,
no sé si extravió,
y yo no tengo más
que un unicornio azul.
Si alguien sabe de él,
le ruego información,
cien mil o un millón
yo pagaré.
Mi unicornio azul
se me ha perdido ayer,
se fue.

Mi unicornio y yo
hicimos amistad,
un poco con amor,
un poco con verdad.
Con su cuerno de añil
pescaba una canción,
saberla compartir
era su vocación.

Mi unicornio azul
ayer se me perdió,
y puede parecer
acaso una obsesión,
pero no tengo más
que un unicornio azul
y aunque tuviera dos
yo solo quiero aquel.
Cualquier información
la pagaré.
Mi unicornio azul
se me ha perdido ayer,
se fue.

Cuba's Fidel Castro gives new details of illness

The Washington Post is reporting about an interview of Cuban revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, with Mexican daily La Jornada. The interview was published today. To read it (in Spanish) click here.

Cuba's former President said "I was at death's door, but I came back."

In the five-hour interview with La Jornada's editor, Castro said that during the illness his weight fell to 145 pounds (66 kilograms) - extremely thin for a man thought to be about 6-foot-3 (190 centimeters) and known for his large frame - but that he is now back up to 190 pounds (86 kilograms).

"I couldn't aspire to live any longer, much less anything else," Castro said. "I asked myself several times if these people (the doctors) would let me live under these conditions or whether they would allow me to die."


JG: I highly recommend that if you are fluent in Spanish you should read the original La Jornada interview. One more time, the high quality of Cuban medical care, has been proven to all.

Pedro Luis Lazo to retire

Pedro Luis Lazo, the Cuban pitcher with the best win record ever, will retire when the 50th Cuban National Baseball Series starts at the end of the year.

Lazo, age 37, will participate as part of the Cuban National Team at the Pre-World and Pre-PanAmerican tornaments, which start tomorrow in Puerto Rico.

Pedro is nicknamed The Cuban Skyscraper.

Source: Cuba Vision International and BaseballdeCuba.com.

Video 6/12/2010: Aroldis Chapman strikes out nine batters

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The lunacies of reactionary millionaire Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck's business is doing very well. Politics in the U.S. has become a huge and very lucrative business. The reason for that is that the numbers of the gullible sheep are growing exponentially.

This wingnut made $32 million last year.

Listen to some of the things this Faux idiot has said:

• “We are a country that is headed toward socialism, totalitarianism, beyond your wildest imagination.”

• “There is a coup going on. There is a stealing of America… done through the guise of an election.”

• “The president is a Marxist... who is setting up a class system.”

• “The government is a heroin pusher using smiley-faced fascism to grow the nanny state."

• “The health-care bill is reparations. It's the beginning of reparations."

• “I believe this guy [Barack Obama] is a racist” with “a deep-seated hatred of white people.”

Why are Americans so gullible and listen to this very wealthy idiot?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cuba announces its pre-selection for Baseball's pre-world and pre-panamerican competitions

Ariel Pestano

Cubadebate reports that the Cuban Directorate for Baseball has announced the 39 man pre-selection roster for the pre-world and pre-panamerican tournaments which will take place in Puerto Rico, starting on October First.

Here is the 39-man pre-selection roster:

Catchers: Ariel Pestano (VCL), Frank Camilo Morejón (IND), Yulexis La Rosa (VCL), Yosvany Alarcón (LTU) and Yenier Bello (SSP).

Infielders: José Dariel Abreu (CFG), Alexander Malleta (IND), Yunier Mendoza (SSP), Michel Enríquez (IJV), Aledmis Díaz (VCL), Yoilán Cerce (GTM), Héctor Olivera (SCU), Alexander Guerrero (LTU), Yuliesky Gouriell (SSP) and Yorbis Borroto (CAV).

Outfielders: Frederich Cepeda (SSP), Ariel Lázaro Sánchez (MTZ), Alfredo Despaigne (GRA), Yoennis Céspedes (GRA), Alexei Bell (SCU), Giorvis Duvergel (GTM) y Yoandry Urgellés (IND).

Pitchers: Pedro Luis Lazo (PRI), Miguel Alfredo González (HAB), Yadier Pedroso (HAB), Odrisamer Despaigne (IND), Yulieski González (HAB), Jonder Martínez (HAB), Norberto González (CFG), Arleys Sánchez (IND), Norge Luis Vera (SCU), Vladimir García (CAV), Dalier Hinojosa (GTM), Freddy Asiel Álvarez (VCL), Alexander Rodríguez (GTM), Maikel Folch (CAV), Robelio Carrillo (VCL), Ismel Jiménez (SSP) and Miguel Lahera (HAB).

Trainers and multi-discipline collective:

Rodolfo Puente (DNB), Benito Camacho (DNB), Germán Mesa (IND), Eduardo Martín (VCL), Esteban Lombillo (HAB), José Elósegui (IND), Orestes Kindelán (SCU), Omar Linares (IND), Julio Romero (IND), Javier Gálvez (LHA), Luis Jova (VCL), José Barrizonte (Instituto de Medicina Deportiva, IMD), Wilfredo Acosta Mariño (IMD) and Juan Ramón Alvaredo (VCL).

Habana Eva triumphs at the Los Angeles Latin Film Festival

August 26, 2010

Cubadebate reports that the Cuban film Habana Eva, a co-production of Cuba, Venezuela and France, was the big winner at the 14th edition of the Los Angeles Latin Film Festival.

The film is a romantic comedy that takes place in Cuba and it relates the dreams of a dress designer who has a young seamstress. The film got the Rita Award for best film at the festival.

More... (in Spanish)

Cuba's Museum of the Revolution

Museo de la Revolución

The presidential palace of General Fulgencio Batista has been converted into a Museum of the Revolution. On January First, 1959, the General huyó al amanecer like a scared rabbit.

On January 8th, 1959, after slowly traversing the island from the Sierra Maestra, in a historical Caravan of Liberty, Fidel Castro spoke to the assembled mases from the balcony of the building.

Jimmy Carter is an indefatigable worker for PEACE!

Carter wins release of American from North Korea

By the CNN Wire Staff

August 27, 2010 12:08 a.m. EDT

(CNN) -- Former President Jimmy Carter is leaving North Korea Friday with a U.S. citizen who was imprisoned in the communist country after entering it illegally in January, according to the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Aijalon Mahli Gomes was imprisoned in January of this year and later sentenced to eight years of hard labor with a fine of about $600,000 for the crime of illegal entry into North Korea.

"At the request of President Carter, and for humanitarian purposes, Mr. Gomes was granted amnesty by the chairman of the National Defense Commission, Kim Jong-Il," the Carter Center said in a statement. "It is expected that Mr. Gomes will be returned to Boston, Mass., early Friday afternoon, to be reunited with his mother and other members of his family."


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chef Guevara dice...

The similarities between the Tea Party and the Know-Nothing Party

Before there was a Tea Party there was the Know Nothing Party of the 1850's.

Like the Tea Party the Know Nothings were nativists whose hatred of foreigners was only slightly greater than their hatred of urban "elites."

The Know Nothings were terrified that America was being overrun by foreigners who didn't share their loyalty to the U.S. Constitution (Irish Catholics then, Mexican Catholics now). They saw an international conspiracy by a Semitic religion designed to conquer the nation (Jews then, Muslims now). They also hated Americans who were not as American-American as they were.

"When the Know Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except Negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." ~ Abe Lincoln, 1855

The similarities between the Tea Party and the Know Nothings is striking. 1856 Know Nothing Political Platform

* Know Nothings wanted to abolish naturalization laws; Tea Parties want to end citizenship to children born in this country to foreign parents.

* Prevent foreigners (Know Nothings) or Muslims (Tea Party), from serving in the military or elective office.

* War to the hilt on Romanism (Know Nothings) or Islam (Tea Party).

* Both want to punish poverty. Know Nothings wanted to deport foreign paupers, a Tea Party candidate wants to send poor Americans to prison.

The Know Nothings became powerful enough to run a candidate for president in 1856. Millard Fillmore was the Sarah Palin of his time. Judging from [the political campaigns of]the mid-term elections to date, may reach an equal level of influence.

Source: A Little Reality

Marco Rubio's Hyperbole

The extreme and 'out of the mainstream' right-wing forces in Florida have captured the reins of the state GOP. Their anointed führer, Marco Rubio, is off and running his first TV adds for the November elections.

Let's listen to what he has to say:

"My parents lost everything: their home, families, friends, even their country.“

The American people are not stupid, Marco; they can probably add two and two together. They know that your family was not part of the rafters, who for economic reasons, left the island in 1994. Most likely your family was part of the exploiters who obeyed the orders of the Yankee imperialists, who owned most of Cuba's productive assets. That exploitation, Marco, gave rise to the Cuban Revolution, and your family, Marco, ended up on the losing side of history. Your family had to flee and seek refuge in Miami, with the masters who ruled Cuba before 1959.

You are not part of the so-called "American dream," Marco. You are a person who has allied himself with extremists, who try to force the American public on a trail that they do not want to travel.

You will lose, Marco, because your party is a minority party, which does not represent a better life for the average American, those who work.

Do not talk about the so-called "American dream" because your party is the party of the filthy rich and not those who sweat their brow with their labor. Capitalist millionaires amass their fortune by exploiting the working class. That is the reason why you and your family had to leave Cuba.

Fidel and Hugo met in Havana yesterday


Cuba gives good performance at the Youth Olympic Games

The 2010 Youth Olympic Games have ended, and Cuba performed very well considering the fact that it is a small island of only 12 million people.

The criollos ended in fifth place, behind China, Russia, South Korea and the Ukraine, and they collected nine gold, three silver, and two bronze medals.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chinese made oil drilling rig to start operating off the coast of Cuba in 2011

A rig about to be completed in a Chinese shipyard is booked for seven exploratory drills in Cuban waters, beginning in early 2011, a trade association official told Reuters in Havana.

The seven projects are slated to begin in early 2011 and end in 2012, Lee Hunt, President of the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) was told by Cuban officials during a visit to Havana.

The first drill will be for a consortium led by Spain’s Repsol YPF. The drilling of the Scarabeo-9 rig, owned by Saipem, a subsidiary of Italian oil company ENI SpA, would be the by far biggest concerted effort ever to tap oil in Cuban waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Only two offshore test drills have been performed in Cuban waters so far; in 2006, a drill by Repsol found high-quality oil, but not in commercial quantities.

Source: CubaStandard.com


JG: Wouldn't it be ironic if Cuba finds oil on its shoreline? Uncle Sam would be sitting on Key West looking south with a handkerchief on its hands and crying: "Boo! Hoo! The Cuba embargo does not let me get any of that oil!". In the meantime, Spain, China, Italy, Vietnam, Russia, Brazil, Venezuela and Angola will have smiles on their faces.

Salim Lamrani: Cuba and the Number of "Political Prisoners"

The Huffington Post

By Salim Lamrani

Lecturer, Paris Sorbonne Paris IV University

Posted: August 24, 2010 04:48 PM

The question of the number of "political prisoners" in Cuba is subject to controversy. According to the Cuban government, there are no political prisoners in Cuba, rather they are people convicted of crimes listed in the penal code, particularly the act of receiving funding from a foreign power. In its 2010 report, Amnesty International (AI) describes "55 prisoners of conscience,"(1) of whom 20 were released in July 2010, followed by another six on August 15, 2010 after mediation by the Catholic Church and Spain, and later another two.(2) Thus, according to AI, there are currently 27 "political prisoners" in Cuba. Finally, the Cuban opposition and, more precisely, Elizardo Sánchez of the Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CDHRN) put the number at 147 political prisoners, minus the 6 recently freed, in other words, 141.(3) The Western media favor this latter list.

First, before raising the question of the exact number of "political prisoners" in Cuba, it is worth clarifying one aspect of this issue, i.e., the existence or non-existence of financing of the Cuban opposition by the United States.

This policy, carried out clandestinely from 1959 to 1991, is now public and confirmed by many sources. Indeed, Washington has acknowledged this fact in various documents and official statements. The 1992 Torricelli law, in particular section 1705, states that "the United States Government may provide assistance, through appropriate nongovernmental organizations, for the support of individuals and organizations to promote nonviolent democratic change in Cuba."(4) The Helms-Burton Act of 1996 provides in Section 109 that "the President [of the United States] is authorized to furnish assistance and provide other support for individuals and independent nongovernmental organizations to support democracy-building efforts for Cuba."(5) The first report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba proposed the development of a "solid support program that promotes Cuban civil society."(6) Among the measures envisaged was funding, totaling $36 million dollars, destined to "supporting the democratic opposition and strengthening an emerging civil society." The second report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba proposed a budget of $31 million to further finance the internal opposition.(7) The plan also provided for "the training and equipping of independent print, radio, and TV journalists in Cuba." (8)

The U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana -- the U.S. Interests Section (USINT) -- has confirmed this in a statement: "The U.S. policy has long been to provide humanitarian assistance to the Cuban people, specifically to families of political prisoners. We also allow private organizations to do the same." (9)

Laura Pollán, of the dissident group "Ladies in White", admits receiving money from the U.S.(10): "We accept help, support, from the extreme right to the left, without conditions."(11) The opposition leader Vladimiro Roca admits that Cuban dissidents are subsidized by Washington, claiming that the financial assistance received is "totally and completely legal." For the dissident René Gómez, financial support from the United States "is not something that has to be hidden nor that we have to be ashamed of."(12) Similarly, government opponent Elizardo Sánchez confirmed the existence of U.S. financing: "The key point is not who sent the aid, but what is done with the aid." (13)

The Western press admits this reality. Agence France-Presse reported that "the dissidents, for their part, appeal for and accept such financial assistance.(14) The Spanish news agency EFE refers to "opponents paid by the United States."(15) According to the British press agency Reuters, "the US government openly provides federally-funded support for dissident activities, which Cuba considers an illegal act."(16) The U.S. newsgathering agency Associated Press says that the policy of manufacturing and financing internal opposition is not new: "Over the years, the U.S. government has spent many millions of dollars to support Cuba's opposition".(17) It states, "Part of the funding comes directly from the U.S. government, whose laws promote the overthrow of the Cuban government." (18)

Wayne S. Smith is a former diplomat who was head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana from 1979 to 1982. According to him, it is completely "illegal and unwise to send money to the Cuban dissidents".(19) He added that, "No one should give money to the dissidents, much less for the purpose of overthrowing the Cuban government" since "when the US declares its objective is to overthrow the government of Cuba and later admits that one of the means of achieving that goal is to provide funds to the Cuban dissidents, these dissidents finds themselves de facto in the position of agents paid by a foreign power to overthrow their own government." (20)

Let's recall now the position of Amnesty International. The organization speaks of 27 "political prisoners" in Cuba as of August 15, 2010. Nevertheless, at the same time AI recognizes that these individuals were charged for having "received funds and/or materials from the United States government in order to engage in activities the authorities perceived as subversive and damaging to Cuba".(21) Thus, the organization found itself in a contradiction, in that international law considers the financing of the internal opposition in another sovereign nation to be illegal. Every country in the world has a judicial arsenal establishing the illegality of such conduct. U.S. and European laws, among others, strongly sanction the act of receiving funds from a foreign power.

The list put together by Elizardo Sánchez is longer and includes all sorts of individuals. Among the 141 names, ten were freed due to health, leaving a total of 131 people. With regard to these 10 individuals, Sánchez explained that he keeps them on the list because they could be jailed again in the future. Another four individuals served their sentences and left prison. Thus 127 people remain. Another 27 people are to be released prior to October, according to the agreement signed between Havana, Spain, and the Catholic Church.

Of the 100 remaining individuals, about half were imprisoned for violent crimes. Some carried out armed incursions into Cuba and at least two of them, Humberto Eladio Real Suárez and Ernesto Cruz León, are responsible for the deaths of various civilians in 1994 and 1997 respectively.(22)

Ricardo Alarcón, the president of the Cuban Parliament, emphasized these contradictions, "Curiously, our critics talk about a list... Why don't they explain that they are asking for freedom for the person who murdered Fabio di Celmo?" (23)

The Associated Press (AP) also emphasized the dubious nature of Sánchez's list and indicates that "some of those would not normally be seen as political prisoners." "But a closer look will find bombers, hijackers and intelligence agents." The AP points out that among the 100 people, "about half were convicted of terrorism, hijacking or other violent crimes, and four are former military or intelligence agents convicted of espionage or revealing state secrets." (24)

For its part, Amnesty International confirms that it can not consider the people on Sanchez's list to be "prisoners of conscience" because it includes "people brought to trial for terrorism, espionage and those who tried, or actually succeeded, in blowing up hotels", according to the organization. "We certainly would not call for their release or describe them as prisoners of conscience." (25)

Miguel Moratinos, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, who played a pivotal role in the agreement for the liberation of the 52 prisoners, also has called into question the validity of Sánchez's list and has underscored its imprecise character: "They don't say that 300 must be freed, because there are not 300. The Cuban Human Rights Commission's own list, a week before I arrived there, spoke of there being 202. The day before I arrived in Cuba, the Commission said there were 167." (26)

After the freeing of the other 27 persons included in the June 2010 agreement, there remained only one "political prisoner" in Cuba, Rolando Jiménez Pozada, according to Amnesty International. The Associated Press for its part points out that in fact this individual is "jailed on charges of disobedience and revealing state secrets." (27)

Curiously, the list developed by Sánchez, which is the least reliable of the lists and which has been criticized from all sides due to the inclusion of individuals convicted of grave acts of terrorism, is favored by the western press.

The Cuban government has made a notable gesture by proceeding to free prisoners considered to be "political prisoners" by the U.S. and some organizations, such as Amnesty International. The primary obstacle to the normalization of relations between Washington and Havana -- from the point of view of the Obama government -- no longer exists. That being the case, it is up to the White House to make a reciprocal gesture and put an end to the anachronistic and ineffective economic sanctions against the Cuban people.

Translated by David Brookbank.


1 Amnesty International, «Rapport 2010. La situation des droits humains dans le monde», May 2010. http://thereport.amnesty.org/sites/default/files/AIR2010_AZ_FR.pdf (website consulted June 7, 2010), pp. 87-88.

2 EFE, «Damas piden a España acoger a más presos políticos», 25 de julio de 2010; Carlos Batista, «Disidencia deplora 'destierro' de ex presos», El Nuevo Herald, August 15, 2010.

3 EFE, «Damas piden a España acoger a más presos políticos», July 25, 2010.

4 Cuban Democracy Act, Title XVII, Section 1705, 1992.

5 Helms-Burton Act, Title I, Section 109, 1996.

6 Colin L. Powell, Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, (Washington: United States Department of State, May 2004). www.state.gov/documents/organization/32334.pdf (website consulted May 7, 2004), pp. 16, 22.

7 Condolezza Rice & Carlos Gutierrez, Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, (Washington: United States Department of State, July 2006). www.cafc.gov/documents/organization/68166.pdf (website consulted July 12, 2006), p. 20.

8 Ibid., p. 22.

9 Associated Press/El Nuevo Herald, «Cuba: EEUU debe tomar 'medidas' contra diplomáticos», May 19, 2008.

10 Associated Press, "Cuban Dissident Confirms She Received Cash from Private US Anti-Castro Group", May 20, 2008.

11 El Nuevo Herald, «Disidente cubana teme que pueda ser encarcelada», May 21, 2008.

12 Patrick Bèle, «Cuba accuse Washington de payer les dissidents», Le Figaro, May 21, 2008.

13 Agence France-Presse, «Prensa estatal cubana hace inusual entrevista callejera a disidentes», May 22, 2008.

14 Agence France-Presse, «Financement de la dissidence: Cuba 'somme' Washington de s'expliquer», May 22, 2008.

15 EFE, «Un diputado cubano propone nuevos castigos a opositores pagados por EE UU», May 28, 2008.

16 Jeff Franks, "Top U.S. Diplomat Ferried Cash to Dissident: Cuba", Reuters, May 19, 2008.

17 Ben Feller, "Bush Touts Cuban Life after Castro", Associated Press, October 24, 2007.

18 Will Weissert, «Activistas cubanos dependen del financiamiento extranjero», Associated Press, August 15, 2008.

19 Radio Habana Cuba, "Former Chief of US Interests Section in Havana Wayne Smith Says Sending Money to Mercenaries in Cuba is Illegal", May 21, 2008.

20 Wayne S. Smith, "New Cuba Commission Report: Formula for Continued Failure", Center for International Policy, July 10, 2006.

21 Amnesty International, Cuba: Five years too many, new government must release jailed dissidents, March 18, 2008. http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/cuba-five-years-too-many-new-government-must-release-jailed-dissidents-2 (website consulted April 23, 2008).

22 Juan O. Tamayo, «¿Cuántos presos políticos hay en la isla?», El Nuevo Herald, July 22, 2010.

23 José Luis Fraga, «Alarcón: presos liberados pueden quedarse en Cuba y podrían ser más de 52», Agence France-Presse, July 20, 2010.

24 Paul Haven, "Number of Political Prisoners in Cuba Still Murky", Associated Press, July 23, 2010.

25 Ibid.

26 EFE, "España pide a UE renovar relación con Cuba", July 27, 2010.

27 Paul Haven, "Number of Political Prisoners in Cuba Still Murky", op. cit.

Salim Lamrani is a university lecturer at the University Paris-Sorbonne-Paris IV and the University Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée and a French journalist, specialist on the relationship between Cuba and the United States. Lamrani has just published Cuba. Ce que les médias ne vous diront jamais (Paris: éditions Estrella, 2009). It is available in bookstores and on Amazon: For specific requests, contact him directly at: lamranisalim@yahoo.fr , Salim.Lamrani@univ-mlv.fr


JG: This is an excellent expose by Mr. Samrami of all the ways that the U.S. goverment uses to finance their mercenaries inside Cuba.

It is a well established fact that the so-called "internal opposition" in Cuba are neither independent nor objective. They are docile tools which the Yankee imperialists use every day of the week to try to overthrow Cuban Socialism, the only system in the world that truly helps people.

What the World Bank says about Cuba!

“Cuba has become internationally recognized for its achievements in the areas of education and health, with social service delivery outcomes that surpass most countries in the developing world and in some areas match first-world standards. Since the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and the subsequent establishment of a communist one-party government, the country has created a social service system that guarantees universal access to education and health care provided by the State. This model has enabled Cuba to achieve near universal literacy, the eradication of certain diseases, widespread access to potable water and basic sanitation, and among the lowest infant mortality rates and longest life expectancies in the region. A review of Cuba’s social indicators reveals a pattern of almost continuous improvement from the 1960’s through the 1980’s. Several major indices, such as life expectancy and infant mortality, continued to improve during the country’s economic crisis of the 1990’s… Today, Cuba’s social performance is among the best in the developing world, as documented by numerous international sources including the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Programme and other UN agencies , and the World Bank. According to 2002 World Development Indicators, Cuba far outranks both Latin America and the Caribbean and other lower-middle income countries in major indices of education, health and sanitation.”

JG: The capitalists recognize good quality when they see it!

Source: As quoted by Salim Lamrami.

Cuban Torrejas


1 loaf of French bread (about 3 inches diameter), cut in 2 or 3 inch thick slices
1 tablespoon olive oil (not extra-virgin)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
2 cups sugar
½ cup condensed milk
4½ cups water
1 cup half and half cream
1 2-inch piece cinnamon
2 cups milk
tablespoon Cognac
2 tablespoons vanilla
¼ pound sweet (unsalted) butter


• Place the slices of bread in a rectangular glass dish. Although they may seem crowded, they will fall into place after being soaked in milk. Mix the milks and pour over the bread. Allow the bread to soak in the milk for 2 hours.

• Remove the soaked bread carefully with a wide spatula. The bread will be very soft. Drain the bread on a wire rack over a pan.

• Beat the eggs lightly. Heat the butter with the oil in a large skillet to frying temperature. Dip the bread slices in the egg and quickly transfer to the skillet. Fry until golden. Regulate the temperature of the butter so that the bread will fry though without burning. Add more butter as necessary. Drain on paper towels while preparing the syrup.

• Stir the sugar into the 4½ cups water, add the stick of cinnamon and cook at low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved and the liquid becomes clear. Boil for a minute or two. Let cool before adding the optional Cognac. Remove the stick of cinnamon.

• Place the fried bread in a deep glass serving dish. Pour the syrup over the bread. It may be served at room temperature after resting for 10 minutes or refrigerated and served later.

Servings: 10

Ooh! It's so good!

Source: Cuban Cooking

Poema de José Martí: La niña de Guatemala

Quiero, a la sombra de un ala,
Contar este cuento en flor:
La niña de Guatemala,
La que se murió de amor.

Eran de lirios los ramos,
Y las orlas de reseda
Y de jazmín: la enterramos
En una caja de seda.

...Ella dio al desmemoriado
Una almohadilla de olor:
El volvió, volvió casado:
Ella se murió de amor.

Iban cargándola en andas
Obispos y embajadores:
Detrás iba el pueblo en tandas,
Todo cargado de flores.

...Ella, por volverlo a ver,
Salió a verlo al mirador:
El volvió con su mujer:
Ella se murió de amor.

Como de bronce candente
Al beso de despedida
Era su frente ¡la frente
Que más he amado en mi vida!

...Se entró de tarde en el río,
La sacó muerta el doctor:
Dicen que murió de frío:
Yo sé que murió de amor.

Allí, en la bóveda helada,
La pusieron en dos bancos:
Besé su mano afilada,
Besé sus zapatos blancos.

Callado, al oscurecer,
Me llamó el enterrador:
¡Nunca más he vuelto a ver
A la que murió de amor!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The GOP wants to give the filthy rich tax cuts of $1.7 million a year while privatizing Social Security

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

It is very obvious where the interests and priorities of the Republican Party are! They are hoping that the voters in November will be dumb enough to turn the U.S. House of Representatives over to the GOP and give "the richest one-tenth of 1 percent of Americans — those whose incomes exceed $2.9 million a year — an average tax cut of $1.7 million a year."

Put that in you pipe and smoke it, Rand Paul, Joe Bohner, and other idiot Tea Baggers!

"And three-quarters of Americans — those with incomes between $20,000 and $200,000 — would face tax increases. For example, households with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 would face an average tax increase of $900."

And if that is not enough the GOP plan would "privatize a substantial portion of Social Security, eliminate the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance, end traditional Medicare and most of Medicaid, and terminate the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The plan would replace these health programs with a system of vouchers whose value would erode over time and thus would purchase health insurance that would cover fewer health care services as the years went by."

The Grand Obstructionist Party has declared war on the middle class of America. Their battle cry is: DESTROY EVERYONE EXCEPT THE MILLIONAIRES!

Where is our guillotine when we need it the most?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Time Magazine: 50 years of Cuba embargo have utterly failed to dislodge the Castro regime

Time Magazine, in an article published today on their website, state what everyone in the world already knows: the Cuba embargo is a failure. It has not brought down the Cuban government.

The Miami gusanos, the intelligentsia in Washington, D.C. and the genocidal Zionists, are today the only supporters of this cold war relic.

The title of their article is a question: Will the White House Fight to End the Cuba Travel Ban?

When it comes to tackling a tough issue, Barack Obama has shown that he is spineless. He has been rather timid when handling the Cuba issue. Is he money oriented, like the Democratic Party's Gang of 66?

Time, not the magazine, will tell.

JM Álvarez: Yoani Sánchez nos obsequia una nueva perla que más que perla, es un diamante en bruto... y bien bruto

Yoani Sánchez and Salim Lamrani


jueves 19 de agosto de 2010

Ella clama a los cuatro vientos que el enemigo tergiversa sus palabras. Todo viene a raíz de una entrevista que le hizo Salim Lamrani donde su “capacidad intelectual” quedó por los suelos. Lamrani es profesor, escritor, periodista e imparte cursos en dos universidades parisinas. ¿Quién comprometería su prestigio falseando una entrevista realizada a un robot, programado por el grupo español PRISA para hablar de malangas y boniatos?

En aquel encuentro, Yoani nos regaló varias perlas. Por ejemplo: “Privatizar, no me gusta el término porque tiene una connotación peyorativa, pero poner en manos privadas, sí” (¿dónde las iba a poner si no?), o esta otra: “Cuba es una isla sui generis. Podemos crear un capitalismo sui géneris”. Al parecer, Yoani tiene la solución para evitar el derrumbe capitalista mundial: un nuevo capitalismo denominado “sui géneris”. Quizás la llame un día de estos el Premio Nobel de economía Paul Krugman interesándose por ese nuevo concepto.

Al hilo de lo anterior, la pregunta es la siguiente: ¿Es posible superarse en despropósitos e ignorancia? Pues aunque parezca increíble, la respuesta es que sí. Hace pocos días le dijo al caricaturista Pepe Varela lo siguiente: “Roma le paga a los traidores y después los desprecia"; sin embargo la frase que los historiadores atribuyen al cónsul romano Quinto Servilio Cepión es “Roma no paga a traidores” ¿Serán los historiadores también apócrifos?. Esta nueva perla, más que perla es un diamante en bruto… y bien bruto.


JG: To see a transcript of the interview where Salim Lamrani demolishes Yoani Sanchez, click here.

See Yoani squirm when Salim tell her she is acting as an "advocate of Washington."

Most people do not know that Yoani got 15,000 Euros with one of her "prizes." This in how the Yankee imperialists and the European Union indirectly funds her anti-Cuba yada, yada, yada.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

2010 Cuba Postage Stamps: José Martí: Patria es Humanidad

Cuba's Heavyweight Lenier Eunice Pero pummels Turkey fighter for important win

Cuba's Lenier Eunice Pero wears the blue trunks.

The match took place at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. All three fighters from Cuba qualified for the finals.

Source: TODAYonline

Paloma Herrera: Prima Ballerina of the American Ballet Theather

Paloma Herrera and the American Ballet Theater are currently visiting and performing in Cuba, after a 50 year absence.

Juventud Rebelde: Insaciable sed por la danza

American Ballet Theater to Visit Cuba in Honor of Ballerina

This visit to Cuba by the American Ballet Theater would have been impossible under the administration of George W. Bush, so we have to give thanks to Barack Obama for restoring cultural exchange between Cuba and the U.S. Thank you, Mr. President!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New Jersey publication supports capo di tutti capi, Robert Menendez

Birds of the same feathers flock together. So it was not surprising that a writer from an Internet publication, with a last name that sounds Cuban, Llorente, comes now to the support of the capo di tutti capi, Robert Menendez. They both hail from the Mafia controlled state.

The Miami and New Jersey Cuban Mafias are very concerned that some of their strangle hold on the Cuba issue will come to an end, if the Obama administration issues new rules to govern travel to the Caribbean island.

In my opinion the new rules, although beneficial to those Americans who want to vacation in Cuba, do not amount to a hill of beans.

Obama continues the Cuba blockade/embargo, so not much of importance is going to change in US-Cuba relations. The new rules are a fig leaf, which Obama can hide behind and then say "I did something in regards to the Cuba issue." What he needs to do is to lift the Cuba blockade/embargo, something that he won't do because he continues to listen to point man of the Cuban-American Mafia, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez.

Only when the Cuba blockade/embargo is lifted, will Obama be doing something that is worth noting and applauding.

A prominent U.S. Senator said recently that they have the votes in the U.S. Senate to lift all travel restrictions to Cuba. Right now, both Barack Obama and his predecessor continue to deny to all Americans the "pursuit of happiness." Go and vacation in Iran or North Korea, they seem to be saying. You can't visit Fidel, but you can visit Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-il.

The rise of corporate fascism in the United States

There is one simple name when big corporations run our political and economic affairs: CORPORATE FASCISM.

The original title of this video was: Weekly Address: No Corporate Takeover of Our Democracy

Victory and defeat

Baseball is the fuel which keeps me alive. Reading the political and economic news has become rather depressing. Will Israel start a nuclear holocaust? Will America's youth continue wasting their lives with heavy use of illegal drugs? Are USA and California bankrupt? Will we continue to destroy the earth? Gloom and doom are everywhere!

Except baseball! We hate politicians who trick citizens into believing that they are honest. Scott, McCollum, Greene and Rubio are perfect examples. The politicians in the USA are beginning to look more and more like the politicians in Batista's Cuba during 1952-1958. Can this country be saved?

Since baseball is just a pastime and a loved game, we admire those pitchers who can trick the opposing batter with an intelligent slider or a 100 MPH fastball. No one gets killed and scams, of the financial capitalist type, do not exist in baseball.

Cuba has had victories in Baseball recently. Gold medals for its National Selection in the University Games. This week the baseball ladies of Cuba ended up fighting for fifth place in the feminine world championship tournament. Should they stick with baking cookies? Not at all! Reverses are part of life. The struggle for the next gold medal shall continue.

In juvenile baseball, 9-10 years old, the Cubanos advanced to the semifinals. They are going for the gold medals. Children are the future of the world, said Jose Marti. Those children who are representing Cuba will be the future baseball stars of the coming years.

Hey batter, batter! Let's play ball, and try to forget the dismal state of the world.

Israeli Warmongers Go Berserk! Help Stop the Monsters!

The warmongers in Israel have gone mad! Will they unleash a nuclear holocaust upon the peace-loving people of the world?

John Bolton, that U.S. wingnut par-excellence, is adding fuel to the fire with an article in the right-wing Jerusalem Post.

We must all raise our voices and condemn the winds of war that Israel and the United States government are fanning throughout the world.

ETERNAL SHAME ON THE ISRAELI MADMEN! He who lives by the sword will die by the sword!

Five apátridas who serve in the U.S. Congress write to President Obama

It was to be expected. The five bad Cubans who serve in the U.S. Congress and who promote the genocidal practices of the U.S. government toward Cuba, sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Friday. In it they express their opinions about any relaxation of travel to Cuba.

The letter contains the usual mierdas which the five scum spout on a daily basis.

In case that you are from Mars and just landed in the our planet, here are the names of the five apátridas:

Robert Menedez (Capo di tutti capi)

Lincoln Diaz-Balart (Representing the interests of Fulgencio Batista, Position #1)

Mario Diaz-Balart (Representing the interests of Fulgencio Batista, Position #2)

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Queen of Calle Ocho, a.k.a. La Loba Feroz)

Albio Sires (Representing the interests of gambling and organized crime in New Jersey)

Source: CNN

Cubadebate: Mafia anticubana en el Congreso contra viajes de norteamericanos a Cuba

Cuba confirms its interest in participating in the pre-PanAmerican and Pre-World baseball competitions

Cuba's daily Granma reports that the President of the Cuban Baseball Federation, Higinio Vélez Carrión, confirmed that Cuba is interested in participating in the baseball competitions of the Pre-PanAmerican and Pre-World, which will take place in Puerto Rico, from the First to the 10th of October.

In addition to Cuba, the following countries have announced that they will participate: Dominican Republic, Netherlands Antilles, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, United States, Canada, Nicaragua, Mexico, Aruba and Puerto Rico.

Those teams who finish in the top six places will qualify to play in the Pan American Games in Guadalajara and also in the World Cup of Baseball.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Index for the chapters of 'La Victoria Estrategica'

This post will have links to the various chapters, published by Cubadebate in the Internet, of Fidel Castro's book 'La Victoria Estrategica."

The book is in Spanish. If anyone knows of any reliable and authorized English translations, I will be happy to include links in this post.


Chapter 1: La situación general del país y de la lucha revolucionaria en mayo de 1958

Chapter 2: La preparación de la defensa de nuestro territorio

Chapter 3: La ocupación de Las Mercedes

Chapter 4: Presión desde Minas de Bueycito

Chapter 5: Desembarco en el Sur

Chapter 6: El enemigo llega a las Vegas

Chapter 7: La entrada en Santo Domingo

Chapter 8: Grave amenaza por el Sur

Chapter 9: La Plata amenazada

Chapter 10: Hasta San Lorenzo

Chapter 11: Quevedo en Jigüe

Chapter 12: La primera Batalla de Santo Domingo

Chapter 13: El Combate de Meriño

Chapter 14: Contención en Santo Domingo

Chapter 15: La retaguardia rebelde

Chapter 16: La Batalla de Jigüe, las primeras acciones del cerco

Chapter 17: Contención en Minas de Frío

Chapter 18: La Batalla de Jigüe, el combate contra los refuerzos

Chapter 19: La Batalla de Jigüe, la rendición del Batallón 18

Chapter 20: La derrota de Sánchez Mosquera

Chapter 21: Victoria en Las Vegas de Jibacoa

Chapter 22: El Combate de Jobal

Chapter 23: La Batalla de Las Mercedes, los primeros cuatro días del cerco

Chapter 24: La Batalla de Las Mercedes, los tres días finales

Chapter 25: El balance final de la batalla

Do not be fooled; the war in Iraq has not ended

This is a very well orchestrated PR campaign by the Obama administration. 56,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq. If you believe their high-sounding pronouncements, you are part of the gullible sheep.

Barack Obama is not a peace lover. If he was truly in favor of peace he would lift the Cuba blockade immediately.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Barack Obama's wrong approach to the Cuba issue

President Barack Obama, like his previous ten predecessors in the White House, does not want to recognize that the continuation of the Cuba blockade/embargo is what is really wrong with his Cuba initiatives, and therefore is trying to distract the American people with so-called new proposals that do not amount to a hill of beans.

I am in favor of people-to-people visits between Cubans and Americans, but if Barack Obama thinks that initiative is going to overthrow Cuban Socialism or that it is going to improve the lives of the Cuban people, then he really is not a very intelligent person.

The occupants of the White House are usually very arrogant. They think that they can give lectures to other countries. How wrong they are! Barack Obama is trying, unsuccessfully, to hide the fact that the community of nations, by a 184-3 vote at the U.N. have repeatedly condemned his genocidal blockade/embargo of the Cuban people.

What Barack Obama, if he is truly interested in peace, needs to do is to send a message to the U.S. Congress which asks them to lift the failed Cuba blockade/embargo.

I will not vote for any of the Democratic Party's Gang of 66 in November, and I will not vote for Barack Obama again. Want to continue the Cuba blockade/embargo? You lose my vote!

Monday, August 16, 2010

USA beats Cuba 5-0 in women's baseball


August 16, 2010

Marti Sementelli pitched a complete-game shutout to lead Team USA to a 5-0 win over Cuba Sunday at the Aviacion Stadium. With the win, the U.S. clinches a spot in the medal round.

Sementelli struck out nine and limited Cuba to just four hits while walking one to pick up the win.

“Obviously, Marti was a key player in today’s win,” said head coach Don Freeman. “She pounded the strike zone and Cuba wasn’t able to mount a threat.”

Malaika Underwood broke the scoreless tie, putting Team USA up 1-0 in the top of the fifth after sending a 3-2 pitch over the left-field fence, giving the U.S. its third home run of the day.

Jenny Dalton-Hill sparked the USA sixth with a single up the middle and took second on the sacrifice by Wynne McCann. A passed ball by Cuba put Dalton-Hill on third and USA turned to Ghazaleh Sailors to pinch run. With one out, Karen Costes executed on the suicide squeeze, as Sailors scored for the 2-0 edge. An error by Cuba extended the frame, putting runners on first and third. The U.S. called for the double steal and Veronica Alvarez would cross the plate for the three-run lead.

“When Malaika hit the home run, our team was able to relax and the suicide squeeze by Karen in the sixth to score Ghazaleh really deflated the Cuban team,” said Freeman. “She really laid down a great bunt.”

Cuba mounted a threat in the bottom of the sixth, putting runners on second and third with two outs but Sementelli struck out pinch hitter Dainari Morales to end the inning and keep Team Cuba off the scoreboard.

Tamara Holmes, who registered six RBIs earlier in the day against South Korea, added another against Cuba with a triple to center to score Clarisa Navarro from first. Holmes would cruise home on McCann’s single up the middle.

“Everyday we’ve have a different offensive key hit. But day after day, we continue to get key hits from Wynne McCann. She’s been doing a great job and we hope she can continue it throughout the tournament,” said Freeman.

McCann was 2-for-3 at the plate while Jenna Marston paced USA with three hits. Navarro and Holmes finished the day with two hits apiece.

Cuba pitcher Mabel Cuello took the loss, giving up one run on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Cuba airs film on Presidents Ho Chi Minh and Fidel Castro

Vietnam News

HAVANA — Cuban television presented a documentary film on Vietnamese late President Ho Chi Minh and Cuban leader Fidel Castro on Friday.

The film, entitled Convergence, retells the two leaders' lives and revolutionary cause and contributions to the struggle for national independence and the world's revolutionary movement.

Convergence was screened on the occasion of the 84th birthday of Fidel Castro (August 13), the 65th anniversary of Viet Nam 's Independence Day (September 2) and 50 years of Viet Nam-Cuba diplomatic ties.

Presidents Ho and Castro are not only the brilliant leaders of Viet Nam and Cuba but also of the world, Vietnamese Ambassador to Cuba Vu Chi Cong affirmed at the film's presentation.

He also expressed Viet Nam's gratitude for the Cuban people's solidarity and friendship over the last 50 years.

The 60-minute film was directed by Carlos Manuel and jointly produced by Mundo Latino studio under the Communist Party of Cuba's Central Committee and Viet Nam's Ministry of Information and Communications in 2009.

Sanctions are an extremely lucrative business for the capitalist U.S. government

Here is the latest chapter in the never ending saga of "let's make money any which way we can." It is the number one commandment embraced and practiced by a good capitalist.

Barclays, one of the largest banks in the United Kingdom, has been fined 398 million U.S. dollars by the Obama administration. They claim that the Brits were "handling covert financial transactions involving banks in Cuba, Iran and Libya".

What a perfect excuse, eh?

Source: www.guardian.co.uk

An act of war?

Do not miss reading the article by Global Research titled "Is Obama Playing with Nuclear Fire in Iran and Korea?"

We may have elected a wolf in sheep's clothing. Barack Obama does not come across right now as a promoter of peace.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August 14: 75th Anniversary of the Social Security Act

Seventy Five years ago, on August 14, 1935, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act.

The Republican Party would like to destroy this very important law. George W. Bush tried to privatize it, and was defeated on his efforts.

Do not be fooled by the GOP rhetoric. Social Security is people helping people and that is the reason that the GOP wants to see it destroyed.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fidel's Birthday Cake

Children sing a birthday song next to a cake that reads in Spanish "Congratulations Commander" at an event honoring Fidel Castro on his 84th birthday in Havana, Cuba.

Around 200 children's choirs appeared across Cuba on Friday as part of celebrations marking its leader Fidel Castro's 84th birthday.

Another concert is planned on Saturday on the steps of the University of Havana, where the leader of the Cuban revolution and former President studied law.

The artists' festival “For Fidel and For Peace” began on Thursday with more concerts and poetry readings.

Source: The Hindu

The Republican Party continues to propose tax plans which benefit the filthy-rich.

Look at the chart above and explore who benefits from the tax plans being offered by the two major political parties.

The super-rich make a killing under the GOP plan. Millionaires will be able to pocket an additional $104,000 per year. Joe six-pack, who makes $25,000 per year, will get $769.

If you are a working-class stiff and you vote for the Republicans, your brain must be examined very carefully, since you are voting against your best self interest.

Cuba defeats South Korea 21-9 in femenine baseball

Article and more photos at CubaSi

Fidel: La Historia No Contada

The text and links to five videos which chronicles the life and work of that giant of Cuban history, Fidel Castro, who today celebrates his 84th birthday.

By Adonis Subit Lamí of La Gaceta de Jagua

This is a set of videos that should not be missed by serious students of history. It is based on the documentary by Estela Bravo.

Cuba's elder statesman, Fidel Castro, celebrates his 84th bithday today

Those silly Miami Cuban exiles right wing nuts who danced in Calle Ocho on July 31, 2006, look idiotic and stupid right now. The fact that they are motivated by hate is visible and clear for everyone to see. No one inside Cuba wants the Batistianos to go back, even if they have a ton of money. It is a contagious and communicable disease.

Cuba's Comandante and historical revolutionary leader celebrates today his 84th birthday. He is not perfect for sure, but one thing is emphatically true, for 51+ years he has defended Cuba's national sovereignty and independence against all the depraved and evil acts of the Yankee imperialists.

Cubans govern Cuba today, and the empire will continue complaining and whining that Cubans do not enjoy that peculiar brand of money-democracy that the empire has. The U.S. puppets are now in the trash bin of history or living in Miami or New Jersey. The Cuban people will ensure that they are kept there.

Happy birthday and gracias Fidel!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Is the U.S. bankrupt?

Lawrence Kotlikoff is an economics professor at Boston University. Yesterday, Bloomberg published an article by the academician where he argues that the U.S. Is Bankrupt and We Don't Even Know It.

Both the U.S. government and Americans have been living beyond their means: borrowing, borrowing, and borrowing ever more greater sums of dollars. The examples are all around us: fighting two imperialist wars of natural resources conquests in Iraq and Afghanistan, and borrowing the money from China; we are thinking about starting a third war against Iran with our buddies the Israeli Zionists; huge capitalist mortgage scams that came tumbling down in 2008, huge tax cuts for Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and billionaire wannabe politicians like Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Jeff Greene of Florida; adding debt upon debt to the credit cards of over-leveraged Americans. And last but not least, huge bailouts for Wall Street and U.S. Bankers, and stimulus packages which have not created many jobs.

The super rich are living high on the hog. Wall Street is making a killing, while Main Street is getting the shaft. That is how U.S. Capitalism works.

The house of cards is coming tumbling down. We have met the enemy and he is us. There will be gnashing of teeth. What ever happened to The Free Market, which is supposedly able to solve all our problems and needs?

Sit down on your front row seats and watch the tragedy unfold before your very own eyes. It is not going to be pretty,

Daniel Ellsberg: “I was the target of a Miami Cuban exiles hit squad”

Yesterday, an Internet publication named The Daily Beast interviewed Pentagon Papers documents leaker and author Daniel Ellsberg.

Mr. Ellsberg stated the following when he was asked if the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, was in danger:

“I happen to have been the target of a White House hit squad myself. On May 3, 1972, a dozen CIA assets from the Bay of Pigs, Cuban émigrés, were brought up from Miami with orders to “incapacitate me totally.” I said to the prosecutor, “What does that mean? Kill me.” He said, “It means to incapacitate you totally. But you have to understand these guys never use the word 'kill.'"

Click here to read the full article.

Miami right-wing nuts to hold concert

The “freedom fighters” of the US-Cuba Democracy PAC are having a soiree this coming Sunday at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium at 4:00 p.m. This will be their 6,978 event to plan the “transition” to US money-democracy in Cuba. Their last 6,977 events failed due to a lack of interest inside the island. Calle Ocho viejitos will get a 20% senior citizen discount.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Millionaire's Yacht

Jeff Greene wants to represent Floridians in the U.S. Senate. Look at his yacht above; do you think that he is going to represent the interests of working-class people who are making $10.00 an hour and are barely surviving in our disastrous economy? Greene is a typical capitalist business man; he will screw you every day of the week, any way he can, so that he can get his hand on more cash.

I will also not vote for Kendrick Meeek; not only is he a member of that corrupt group of Democrats whom I have dubbed The Gang of 66, he belongs to the William Jefferson and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz branch of the Democratic party.

Only bad Cubans in Florida will vote for Marco Rubio, so I guess I am stuck with either Charlie Crist or writing in NOTA.

The US Blockade of Cuba Is Pure Punishment for Cuban and American People

The crippling Cuban embargo must go. Will Congress finally do the right thing?


Foreign Policy in Focus / By Anna Kalinina

August 10, 2010 |

In 1958, Hilton Hotels proudly opened the tallest and largest hotel in Latin America, the Havana Hilton, located in the heart of Havana, Cuba. Boasting a casino, an outdoor swimming pool, and a panoramic view of Havana from its rooftop nightclub and bar located atop 25 stories of five-star accommodation, this luxurious destination was only open to Americans for two years.

When Fidel Castro assumed power and the relations between Cuba and the United States deteriorated at the peak of Cold War tensions, this American hotel changed both name and nationality, becoming Hotel Tryp Habana Libre. By 1962, Washington had imposed a full economic blockade of Cuba, which to this day continues to debilitate the Cuban economy and prohibit U.S. tourists and investors from travelling to the island. Today, the formerly U.S. hotel only rarely hosts U.S. visitors.

However, despite the ailments of old age, Fidel Castro and his brother remain relatively unscathed. After 48 years, the debate about whether it is time for a new direction in U.S.-Cuban relations continues. This time, however, Congress might weigh in on the side of détente, and Cuban voices have been brought into the mix.

The Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act (HR 4645) introduced on February 23, 2010 would finally allow Americans to travel to Cuba and ease restrictions on agricultural exports to the island. Although the bill narrowly passed the House Agriculture Committee by a 25-20 vote on June 30, it still must go through the House Financial Services Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee before reaching the House floor. At this moment, the bill has 71 cosponsors, 61 of which are Democrats. Republicans favoring the bill include Reps. Judy Biggert (IL), Charles Boustany (LA), Jo Ann Emerson (MO), and Jeff Flake (AZ). “I was elected to be a Member of Congress, not a travel agent,” said Flake to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in support of a similar bill (HR 874) in November 2009. “Americans should be able to travel wherever they want. They don't need our advice and shouldn't have to seek our permission.”

However, one hardliner seeking to maintain the status quo is New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez. Together with his colleague in the House, Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ), the two Cuban-American Democrats have publicly expressed staunch opposition to easing U.S. policy toward Cuba. In reference to HR 4645, Menendez argues that the bill “would enrich a regime that denies its own people basic human rights.” The junior senator has even threatened to filibuster the bill if it reaches the Senate floor.

Close but No (Cuban) Cigar

There have been many congressional attempts to remove roadblocks in the U.S.-Cuban relationship, but none has yet become law. On February 4, 2009, Rep. Mike Delahunt (D-MA) introduced the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (H.R. 874). The initiative, which currently stagnates at 181 cosponsors, was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and no action has been taken since. The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2007 similarly died in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations after being read twice. Before this attempt, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Flake introduced the Export Freedom to Cuba Act of 2007 (H.R. 654), which never came to a vote after being referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs on January 24, 2007.

The latest bill, HR 4645, faces an equally uphill battle. Of the listed initiatives, however, it is the only one that has reached any sort of vote. Two similar bills introduced in the Senate, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act (S.3112) and the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (S.428), have both been referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

These efforts have been aimed at dismantling a policy that the United States has maintained from the Kennedy administration to the present. Hoping to depose the regime of Fidel Castro, the United States has continued an economic blockade of Cuba for almost half a century, insisting that the Cuban government democratize and demonstrate a commitment to human rights before diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries can be reestablished. Last year, the Obama administration eased travel restrictions for Cuban Americans and reversed the limitations on remittances imposed by the previous president. Nevertheless, The New Yorker reported that “the Administration has made it clear that sanctions will remain in place until Cuba takes definite steps towards further democratization, and improves its human-rights record — a key element of which would be the freeing of its political prisoners.” Since July 12, Cuba has begun releasing some of its political prisoners including Normando Hernandez, who told BBC News that this is a ploy by the Cuban government to garner international attention. Overall, a total of 52 prisoners are expected be released in the upcoming months.

Whether this is a turning point for Cuba or a diplomatic chess move is hard to tell. Though Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for instance, has called the releases a “positive sign,” Elizardo Sanchez, head of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights in Havana referred to the measure as a “political decision of the Cuban government, taken for short-term political motives, to have an immediate effect overseas, not in Cuba itself." William LeoGrande, the dean of the School of Public Affairs at American University and a specialist in U.S. policy toward Latin America, sees this as an “extremely important” move, partially done in order to improve Cuba’s relationship with the European Union and to test Washington’s response.

However, the decision to release political prisoners was not the product of political transformation. The only semblance of change has been the seamless shift in presidency from Fidel to his younger brother Raúl Castro in 2008. Policy-wise, the fact that Cuba has remained the same illustrates the futility of the embargo. Nevertheless, it has been effective in other ways. The policy originally intended to challenge the leadership of Fidel Castro has made life more problematic for the Cuban people.

Punishing the People

Nearly 50 years of sanctions have taken their toll on the Cuban economy. According to Stephen Wilkinson, assistant director of the International Institute for the Study of Cuba in London, the United States is the natural market for Cuban products. “Sanctions have been a huge brake on Cuban economic development,” he says. “The country is starved of capital.” The Cuban government estimates that the monetary loss to Cuba due to the embargo is approximately $685 million per annum, though total non-monetary costs for the society may be much higher.

The consequences of the embargo are pervasive throughout Cuban society, felt in local businesses as well as in hospitals. Wilkinson, who has been traveling to Cuba since 1986, explains that the embargo prevents Cuba from acquiring certain medical materials, diagnostic equipment, and pharmaceuticals that can only be obtained from U.S. companies. This has made the diagnosis and treatment of certain pediatric cancers very difficult. For instance, Cuba has been unable to obtain isotope I-125 for the treatment of childhood eye cancer. In an article for The Guardian, Wilkinson recalls having “seen the cancer wards in a Havana hospital where children with leukemia were vomiting 16 hours per day for lack of these drugs.”

Yet despite the nearly 50-year lifespan of this crippling policy, there is surprisingly little anti-American sentiment among the Cuban people. From his experiences traveling to Cuba since 1976, Canadian professor John Kirk says that “there is a feeling of respect for the American people and despair at the inability of 10 U.S. governments to normalize relations with Cuba. It is important to note, however, that there is a clear distinction made between the U.S. government and the U.S. people — despite the impact of 50 years of hostility.” When asked about anti-American sentiment in Cuba, Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow Chris Oechsli had a similar reply: “As an American in Cuba I never felt uncomfortable with anybody at anytime.”

Cuban, American, and International Consensus

In Cuba, pro-democracy leaders and peace activists are now pushing for Congress to lift the travel ban. On May 30, a group of 74 leading members of Cuba’s civil society sent a letter to the members of Congress urging passage of HR 4645. Among the signatories are bloggers Yoani Sánchez and Claudia Cadelo de Nevis, the co-founder of the dissident group Ladies in White Miriam Leiva, and Guillermo Farinas, a democracy activist who recently ended a three-month hunger strike protesting the Cuban regime. Collectively, the activists argue that the presence of U.S. visitors on the streets would strengthen Cuban civil society while continued “isolation of the people of Cuba benefits the most inflexible interests of its government.” They also mention that “to further facilitate the sale of agricultural products would help alleviate the food shortages we now suffer.” Referring to the letter, Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson said that “when the strongest pro-democracy activists in Cuba say that the current travel and agriculture trade restrictions only support the Castro regime, you have to ask yourself why we would keep these restrictions in place.” In a 2005 meeting with Wayne Smith, senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, the president of the Cuban National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcón also expressed that Cubans are “interested in having normal relations and having the embargo lifted.”

But it is not just the Cuban people who would like to see a change in the status quo. A WorldPublicOpinion.org study conducted March 25–April 6, 2009 revealed that of the 765 adult Americans surveyed, a 59 percent majority found that it is "time to try a new approach to Cuba, because Cuba may be ready for a change." An even greater 69 percent of the public favored re-establishing diplomatic ties with the country and 70 percent endorsed the measure to lift travel restrictions to the country. By maintaining the embargo, the United States continues to isolate itself from the international community. In October 2003, Alternatives Action and Communication Network for International Development, a Canadian-based NGO, compiled votes of the UN General Assembly from 1992-2002 on the "necessity to lift the blockade against Cuba." During that 10-year period, only the United States, Israel, Uzbekistan, Paraguay, Albania, and the Marshall Islands have opposed lifting the embargo. However, only the United States and Israel have been consistent in their voting. [Which proves my point that only the U.S. and Israel both actively work AGAINST peace.]

Small Steps toward Change

The possible short and long-term impacts of lifting the travel ban are debatable. Repealing travel restrictions would open Cuba up to American tourists willing to spend large sums of money on their vacations. Among the arguments in favor of this measure, the notion that tourism will pump money into the Cuban economy while simultaneously creating American jobs is perhaps the least contentious. According to William LeoGrande, the principal impact of the embargo is felt in Cuba’s tourist industry, as that is the centerpiece of the Cuban economy. “Travel has a direct impact on the standard of living of ordinary people,” he maintains. When tourists leave tips at restaurants, stay at local nightly accommodations, take cab rides, and buy locally crafted souvenirs, “they engage with the non-state sector of the economy.”

However, tourism is more than just a major contributor to the Cuban economy. From his experiences traveling to Cuba since 1976, John Kirk, an expert on Cuban-Canadian relations, explains that tourism “has been useful in showing Cubans alternative modes of living, consumption patterns, and ideas,” says Kirk. Stephen Wilkinson also sees the trans formative potential of tourism, which could bring in a lot of revenue and raise living standards. “Improvement in the economy would entice those who have emigrated to the United States to return to Cuba and they would bring back with them their wealth, savings, and new skills, and this in turn will have a positive effect,” he predicts. “Once Cuba becomes wealthier it will be able to afford the luxury of a more liberal democratic system. In this way maybe reform could come through the lifting of the travel ban.” Additionally, a repeal of travel restrictions would open the door for study abroad programs and valued educational and cultural exchanges.

On a larger scale, lifting the embargo in its entirety would invite not only U.S. tourists to Cuba, but also American investors and corporations seeking new locations. Chris Oechsli agrees that an influx of foreign capital alongside new economic opportunities and ideas could potentially weaken state control of the economy. In turn, this could trigger economic development and the potential for innovation. But even if this prediction is wrong, “opening travel from the point of view of improving the standard of living of ordinary Cubans is the right thing to do,” says William LeoGrande.

This shift in foreign policy would likely produce domestic outcomes. In a letter to the president, representatives of a dozen leading U.S. business organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, estimated the cost to the U.S. economy at $1.2 billion per year. In terms of lost agricultural sales and exports, the Cuba Policy Foundation in 2002 estimated a total loss of $4.84 billion. Many believe that the embargo has not worked, including Sarah Stephens, executive director of the D.C.-based advocacy group Center for Democracy in the Americas. She argues that "by increasing food exports and repealing the travel ban, this legislation will provide more jobs for Americans and Cubans.” In fact according to a March 2010 study by Texas A&M University, “loosening export and travel restrictions to Cuba could spark $365 million in sales of U.S. goods and create 6,000 new jobs in the United States, leading to a $1.1 billion economic impact.” A 2002 CPF commissioned study by the University of Colorado estimated that lifting the embargo after five years would result in a domestic gain of $1.9 billion and 12,000 new jobs, many in the travel sector.

Lifting the travel ban would certainly have economic impact, but its political influence is more difficult to gauge. The Cuba Study Group, a DC-based nonprofit organization of business and community leaders of Cuban descent dedicated to facilitating democratic change in Cuba, argues that in isolating Cuba, the United States has “hindered its ability, and that of the émigré community, to play a constructive role in Cuba’s inevitable future processes of change.” Although proponents of the embargo argue that international tourism has had no impact on social change movements in Cuba, an influx of American tourists and capital may empower local institutions, businesses, and organizations both financially and through sheer geographic proximity. “The biggest source of tourism for the Caribbean is the United States,” says LeoGrande, “but this market is currently closed to Cuba.”

Ultimately, externally enforced political change can rarely be sustained internally. As such, a successful political transformation of Cuba must result from internal changes. On both sides of the embargo debate, people are eager to see Cuba change. Even Cuban dissidents are ready for the United States to adopt a new policy. The question remains: Is Congress ready to change?

Anna Kalinina is an intern for Foreign Policy In Focus.

Cuba sends team to the 4th Women's Baseball Championship

Venezuela is expected to have a strong team.
Photo: ABN

The competition will start tomorrow in Venezuela.

Group A: Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipie, Hong Kong, The Netherlands, Venezuela.

Group B: Cuba, Japan, Puerto Rico, South Korea, USA.

Here is roster for Team Cuba:

El equipo cubano

Receptoras: Yordanka Rodríguez (CAV) e Inima Vázquez (CHA);

Jugadoras de cuadro: Alian Sánchez (SCU), Dainaris Morales (CAV), Kirenia Moreno (LTU), Dayana Batista (GRA), Yaluanis Cervantes (CAV), Orisleidis Peguero (CAV) y Virgen Vargas (GRA);

Jardineras: Yaileidis Pérez (CAV), Nairobi Odelín (CHA), Yudelis Charón (CHA), Yaile Luis (CAV);

Lanzadoras: Yaima Ramos (CHA), Daineris Moreno (PRI), Olga Lidia Guevara (CAV), Raida de Feria (CHA), Liadnis Rodríguez (CAV), Mayumi Solano (GRA) y Mabel Coello (GRA);

Manager: Rubén Chiu

Source: Juventud Rebelde

Venezuela and Colombia re-establish diplomatic relations

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos (Front L) talks to his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez (Front R), in their first meeting since Santos took office, in Santa Marta, Colombia, Aug. 10, 2010. Santos and Chavez reached an agreement on Tuesday to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries during their talks. (Xinhua Photo)

People's Daily Online

09:37, August 11, 2010

Colombian and Venezuelan governments agreed Tuesday to reestablish diplomatic relations.

The agreement was reached between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez after a long meeting in Santa Marta, a Colombian city on the Caribbean coast.

"We are here seeking the re-establishment of relations between two sister countries," Santos told reporters before the summit.

"We shall begin patiently to rebuild what was torn apart," said Chavez.

Both presidents told a post-summit conference that they also agreed to create five working commissions to solve the bilateral debt issue, boost commercial ties, reach an economic complementation agreement, develop a working plan for social investment and establish a security mechanism.

Venezuela severed ties with Colombia on July 22, after Bogota accused Caracas of hosting guerilla chiefs in its territory.

However, tensions began to ease as a new government led by Santos took over in Bogota. In a sign of good will, Chavez sent his foreign minister to attend Santos' inauguration ceremony on Saturday. Foreign ministers of the two countries met on Sunday and agreed on the date and location of the summit between the two presidents.