Archive for October, 2011

Laura Pollan’s mysterious death

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Mary O’Grady looks into Laura Pollán’s death,
A Dissident’s Mysterious Death in Havana
Days after a beating by a mob, Laura Pollán fell ill and soon died. She was cremated two hours later.

For more than eight years, the Castro regime tried its level best to silence Ladies in White leader Laura Pollán. Ten days ago Pollán did fall silent. She passed away, after a brief illness, in a Havana hospital.

Hospital officials initially said that she died of cardiac and respiratory arrest. But according to Berta Soler, the spokesperson for the Ladies in White in Havana, the death certificate says that Pollán succumbed to diabetes mellitus type II, bronchial pneumonia and a syncytial virus.

Since there was no independent medical care available to her and there was no autopsy, we are unlikely ever to find out what killed Pollán. We do know that although she was a diabetic with high blood pressure, both were under control and she did not need regular insulin shots. Indeed, she had been healthy only weeks before her death, according to friends and family. We also know that the longer she remained under state care, the sicker she got.

Here’s how it happened,

On Sept. 24, Pollán was attacked by a mob as she tried to leave her house to attend Mass. Her right arm was reportedly twisted, scratched and bitten. This is notable because for more than a year, the Ladies had alleged that when Castro’s enforcement squads came after them, the regime’s goons pricked their skin with needles. Those same women claimed that they subsequently felt dizzy, nauseous and feverish. Independent journalist Carlos Ríos Otero reported this for Hablemos Press before Pollán was hospitalized.

According to interviews with Pollán’s daughter and husband and with Ms. Soler, conducted by the Miami-based nongovernmental organization Directorio, eight days after the Sept. 24 assault Pollán came down with chills and began vomiting. Wracked with pain in her joints the next day, she was taken to the Calixto García hospital. After a battery of tests she was told everything was normal and released. On Oct. 4, she had a fever and shortness of breath. A prescribed antibiotic did not help. On Oct. 7 she was admitted to the hospital, later transferred to intensive care and the next day put on a respirator.

Her family was denied visitation rights until Oct. 10, when only her daughter was allowed to see her. State security agents surrounded her bed and monitored the doctors. On Oct. 12 doctors reported that she had a syncytial respiratory virus, which is otherwise known as a cold. She was obviously much sicker.

On Oct. 14 she died. When the family was allowed to see the body, state security agents were again on hand, as they were at the one-hour wake permitted at midnight. In record time—only two hours later—Pollán was returned to ashes. Who could blame the resistance for its suspicions?

Particularly since you hear about Castro official to political prisoner: ‘We killed Laura, we can do the same thing to you…’ while Another Lady in White falls ill after mysterious injection


Argentina: Cristina wins by a landslide

Monday, October 24th, 2011

While default waits in the wings, the electorate voted for Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner by a 53% majority.

At The Atlantic, The Price of Argentina’s Default

In the news,
Argentine President Secures Second Term

President Cristina Kirchner had a commanding lead and looked certain to win a second term on Sunday, and her Peronist party faction appeared close to retaking Congress, in the most lopsided election in the almost three decades since Argentina returned to democracy.

With 90% of polling places reporting, Mrs. Kirchner had 53.74% of the vote, far ahead of the nearest of six competitors, the socialist governor of Santa Fe province, Hermes Binner, who had 17.01%.

Translation from the video, “Make no mistake, I’m not talking about him [Ernesto Kirchner] as a husband, I’m talking about him as a political framework, perhaps one of the best political frameworks our country has produced”, which is probably damning with faint praise.

She certainly benefited from two factors:
a. China’s demand for raw materials
b. Ernesto’s death a year ago,

The win would mark a dramatic comeback for Mrs. Kirchner, who has been embroiled in conflict almost since taking office in December 2007. Days after her inauguration, U.S. prosecutors in Miami alleged that a suitcase holding $800,000 seized by Argentine customs authorities earlier in 2007 was a contribution to Mrs. Kirchner’s campaign from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Mrs. Kirchner decried a “garbage operation” in the U.S., the first of several conflicts with Washington.

Subsequently, she was caught up in a bitter and debilitating dispute with Argentine farmers over an increase in the grain export tax. Her faction of the Peronist party lost control of Congress in midterm elections in 2009, and some political observers wrote her off.

Mrs. Kirchner came back, however. The economy recovered strongly from the global economic crisis of 2009-2009, as brisk demand from China buoyed farm commodity prices. The Kirchners proved adept at dividing and conquering the opposition, which was less adroit at advancing its agenda. Finally, the death of Nestor Kirchner of a heart attack at the age of 60 in October of 2010 created a wave of sympathy for Mrs. Kirchner.

Pollster Federico Aurelio said that in the wake of her husband’s death, Mrs. Kirchner’s approval rating, already on the ascent, shot up another 10 points or so. He says 70% of Argentines now approve of her.

It probably didn’t hurt to wear nice shoes.


The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean will resume next week.


Wanted: Rich, foreign, homebuyers

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

The Wall Street Journal’s video on the new plan to grant residency cards to foreign buyers of homes costing $500,000 or more,


Do you think Martin Bashir can spell the word “idiot”?

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Bashir Asks Liberal Guest ‘Do You Think Herman Cain Can Spell the Word “Iraq?”‘

For the record, Cain received a Masters degree in computer science from Purdue while working full-time for the Department of the Navy as a ballistics analyst. He went on to be CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, CEO of the National Restaurants Association, chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve, and has served on the Board of Directors for major companies including Nabisco and Whirlpool.

By contrast, according to Wikipedia, Bashir studied English and History at King’s College in London; no degree was listed. He has been a journalist ever since.

That’s King’s College, not Burger King College, but you wouldn’t know it from Martin’s witty repartee.

Can’t wait for Martin to ask Herman Cain himself that question.


Must-watch VIDEO: Hezbollah in your back yard

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Stakelbeck on Terror: Hezbollah in Your Backyard

Watch as former George W. Bush administration officials Roger Noriega and Jose Cardenas discuss Hezbollah’s alliance with Venezuela, its new terror base in Cuba, its work with Mexican drug smugglers along America’s southern border, and more.

Prior post The Mounting Hezbollah Threat In Latin America

h/t Gates of Vienna


His parents’ 50-year exile is not enough for the WaPo UPDATED

Friday, October 21st, 2011

You know Marco Rubio’s star is in ascendance when the WaPo came up with this beaut yesterday,
Marco Rubio’s compelling family story embellishes facts, documents show

The documents show that Rubio’s parents came to the United States and were admitted for permanent residence more than 2½ years before Castro’s forces overthrew the Cuban government and took power on New Year’s Day 1959…

Rubio’s office on Thursday confirmed that his parents arrived in the United States in 1956 but noted that “while they were prepared to live here permanently, they always held out the hope and the option of returning to Cuba if things improved.” They returned to Cuba several times after Castro came to power to “assess the situation with the hope of eventually moving back,” the office said in a statement.

In a brief interview Thursday, Rubio said his accounts of the family’s migration has been based on family lore. “I’m going off the oral history of my family,” he said. “All of these documents and passports are not things that I carried around with me.”…

His office tried to clarify the facts in its statement Thursday. After their 1956 arrival, the couple visited Cuba after Castro’s takeover. In 1961, Oriales Rubio took her two children back to Cuba “with the intention of remaining permanently.” Mario remained in Florida “wrapping up the family’s matters.” But within weeks of arriving there, “it because clear that Cuba was headed full speed towards Communism and they decided to return to the U.S,” the statement said.

The WaPo standard of purity precludes all reasons that Mr. and Mrs. Rubio would have had to make them flee the Batista dictatorship, and later the Communist dictatorship, then?

Hot Air links to Rubio’s statement in The Corner,

What’s important is that the essential facts of my family’s story are completely accurate. My parents are from Cuba. After arriving in the United States, they had always hoped to one day return to Cuba if things improved and traveled there several times. In 1961, my mother and older siblings did in fact return to Cuba while my father stayed behind wrapping up the family’s matters in the U.S. After just a few weeks living there, she fully realized the true nature of the direction Castro was taking Cuba and returned to the United States one month later, never to return.

They were exiled from the home country they tried to return to because they did not want to live under communism. That is an undisputed fact and to suggest otherwise is outrageous.

The Miami Herald also posted on the WaPo’s embellishments.

The fact remains, Rubio was born and raised in the USA by legal immigrants.

Someday he will be President of the United States.

My family’s flight from Castro, by Sen. Marco Rubio


Chavez says he’s free of cancer

Friday, October 21st, 2011

That’s the headline today, but first, a fable,

An Ox came down to a reedy pool to drink. As he splashed heavily into the water, he crushed a young Frog into the mud. The old Frog soon missed the little one and asked his brothers and sisters what had become of him.
“A great big monster,” said one of them, “stepped on little brother with one of his huge feet!”

“Big, was he!” said the old Frog, puffing herself up. “Was he as big as this?”

“Oh, much bigger!” they cried.

The Frog puffed up still more.

“He could not have been bigger than this,” she said. But the little Frogs all declared that the monster was much, much bigger and the old Frog kept puffing herself out more and more until, all at once, she burst.

Back to the headline, Hugo Chávez Says His Cancer Is Gone, Simón Romero, writes,

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela declared on Thursday that he had beaten cancer, less than five months after he stunned Venezuelans by revealing that he had undergone emergency surgery to remove a tumor while in seclusion in Cuba.

This is not the first time he’s said that. Back in July he was saying exactly the same thing; now he continues to assert,

“No abnormal cellular activity exists,” said Mr. Chávez in comments broadcast on state media while on a visit to western Venezuela, where he was preparing to visit a Roman Catholic shrine. “I’ve begun to exit the cave,” said the president, dressed in a green military uniform.

Despite Mr. Chávez’s announcement, which he made after a brief trip to Cuba for a checkup, mystery still shrouds his condition.

Clearly, Hugo is sick – no doubt about it. Whatever condition he has is manifesting itself in many clear ways that he can not hide. Obviously it is a severe medical condition. Rumors have been flying on the nature of the illness(es), the most recent include kidney failure and medullary aplasia.

Is it cancer?

He’s the one who’s saying it’s cancer, he’s the one saying he’s cancer-free. However, as I pointed out in the past, “cancer” is a good smoke screen (there are some 200 types of cancers), elicits compassion – we all have family/friends who have been devastated by it – and explains a multitude of therapies and absences (and trips to Cuba).

Ask yourselves, with the decades-long propaganda on “Cuba’s excellent health care”, if Cuban doctors had actually cured Chávez’s cancer, wouldn’t both regimes (Cuba’s and Venezuela’s) be parading a team of oncologists on innumerable press conferences confirming this “cure”?

He has never publicly revealed what type of cancer afflicted him. Altogether, Mr. Chávez, 57, underwent four chemotherapy treatments, including three in Cuba and one in Venezuela, according to the government.

Physically, he still looked like a changed man on Thursday, appearing bloated and with a green military cap covering a bald head. Spiritually, Mr. Chávez also seems to have acquired a more religious air. “I’m more Christian every day,” he said Thursday. “Socialism is the road to Christ.”

Hugo must think that having close ties to Iran and moving Venezuela’s gold to Caracas may bring him closer to heaven, then. Hugo also spent some time beating up on the rich and mangling Biblical parables (video in Spanish)

Salvador Navarrete is the only physician who has dared to speak about Chávez’s medical condition (emphasis added),

a prominent Venezuelan doctor who describes himself as the president’s former personal surgeon, said this week that Mr. Chávez had less than two years to live, attributing his illness to a “very aggressive” tumor in the pelvic area.

Dr. Navarrete, a former militant in Mr. Chávez’s political movement, said he drew his conclusions from recent discussions with Mr. Chávez’s family.

It’s not clear if Navarrete has treated Chávez during this “cancer” occurrence – and, from a public-relations point of view, Navarrete’s statement that Chávez has been treated for bipolar disorder may be more damaging than a “cancer” (yet another reason for Chávez to bang the “cancer” drum loudly).

What is clear is that Navarrete has had to leave, along with his family, Venezuela suddenly (apparently going to Mexico) because of the fallout. Romero reports,

agents from the Sebin, Mr. Chávez’s secret intelligence police, had appeared at Dr. Navarrete’s office this week to question him.

Navarrete’s private practice and his teaching position are ended.

The moral from the fable at the start of this post? Take everything coming out from Chávez’s mouth as so much puffery, particularly when it comes to his health.

Cross-posted in The Green Room.


From Tehran to Tijuana

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Bret Stephens’s column points out many of the things I’ve been posting about Iran’s increasing presence in Latin America:
From Tehran to Tijuana
Time to notice Iran’s decades-old infiltration of Latin America.

The story begins with the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, an example of the way Tehran uses proxies such as Hezbollah to carry out its aims while giving it plausible deniability. Iran later got a boost when Hugo Chávez came to power in Venezuela and began seeding the top ranks of his government with Iranian sympathizers. In October 2006, a group called Hezbollah América Latina took responsibility for an attempted bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005, Iran has increased the number of its embassies in Latin America to 11 from six.

The largest embassy is in La Paz, Bolivia.

All this has served a variety of purposes. Powerful evidence suggests that Iran has used Venezuelan banks, airliners and port facilities to circumvent international sanctions. Good relations between Tehran and various Latin American capitals—not just Caracas but also Managua, Quito, La Paz and Brasilia—increase Tehran’s diplomatic leverage. Hezbollah’s ties to Latin American drug traffickers serve as a major source of funding for its operations world-wide. Hezbollah has sought and found recruits among Latin America’s estimated population of five million Muslims, as well as Hispanic converts to Islam.

And then there is the detail that Latin America is the soft underbelly of the United States.

In September 2010, the Tucson, Ariz., police department issued an internal memo noting that “concerns have arisen concerning Hezbollah’s presence in Mexico and possible ties to Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTO’s) operating along the U.S.-Mexico border. The potential partnership bares alarming implications due to Hezbollah’s long-established capabilities, specifically their expertise in the making of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED’s).” The memo also noted the appearance of Hezbollah insignia as tattoos on U.S. prison inmates.

Stephens was in John Batchelor’s show last night. Batchelor, who is very knowledgeable about Iran, recognizes that this is not a trivial issue.

In addition to Stephens’s article,
As I have reported for Real Clear World, Iran’s current defense minister, Ahmad Vahidi, is wanted by Interpol for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires. Italian newspaper La Stampa reported in 2008 that Iran is using Venezuela to duck UN sanctions.

It’s about time someone tells Hillary Clinton, whose reaction was, “nobody could make that up, right?”

No, they don’t need to.


Hugo Chavez’s BFF Gaddafi no longer

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Libya live: Muammar Gaddafi ‘killed’ as Sirte falls
Live rolling coverage from Libya as rebels claim to have killed ousted dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, following the fall of his stronghold Sirte.

• Colonel Gaddafi reported killed in Sirte – senior NTC official
• Photo released purports to show Gaddafi ‘badly injured’
• Gaddafi’s son Mutassim dead – NTC commander
• Rebels converge on centre of Sirte to celebrate
• Rebels hoist new national flag over captured holdout

WARNING: all links have gruesome photos

Many of the reports say that Gaddafi was killed by “rebels”, however, Noticias 24 claims he was killed by a NATO air strike to his convoy as he was trying to escape Sirte

Just last month Hugo was praying for him.

At least this puts to rest the rumors that Gaddafi was in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez was in Havana about to fly to Venezuela when the news broke about Gaddafi.

Chavez is heading to a shrine in Táchira to pray some more.


Venezuela fines Globovision over prison coverage

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Hugo Chavez’s dictatorship has fined TV channel Globovision US$2.1 million over its coverage of the deadly prison riots at Rodeo prison last June:

Globovision was fined for its coverage of a prison riot that erupted in a prison in June after troops raided an adjacent prison looking for weapons. The raid set off gunfights that left three dead, and the standoff finally ended with negotiations after 27 days. Authorities said four inmates who escaped also were slain by soldiers.

Globovision’s vice president, Maria Fernanda Flores, called the fine “unpayable.” The channel has defended its coverage of the riot.

The fine equals more than 7.5% of the station’s annual revenues, and will likely bankrupt the station.

Long-term readers of this blog may recall that Guillermo Zuloaga, Globovision’s majority owner, had to flee Venezuela last year, following Chavez’s constant threats against him and the station.

Venezuela News and Views has more. The Devil’s Excrement has a post on another Chavista decision on a candidate for the opposition.

AFP had this report last year on Globovision,

Prior posts on Globovision here.