Archive for the ‘Communism’ Category

Venezuela: Maduro wants a Puerto Rican out jail

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

. . . who didn’t want to be pardoned.

Taking a cue from the U.S.-Cuba sweet deal (sweet for Cuba, that is), Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro wants to make a deal:
Venezuela’s Maduro would free Lopez if U.S. freed Puerto Rican

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday he would only seek the release of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez if the United States agreed to release a Puerto Rican nationalist currently held in a U.S. prison.

The man in question, Oscar Lopez Rivera, is serving

70 years for seditious conspiracy and a variety of weapons charges as well as the second thwarted escape attempt (which included plans for the use of violence)

in Leavenworth, and,

he is a dangerous terrorist as well as a sociopath, and has never been known to express any regret or remorse. He was a co-founder of a deadly terrorist group, who constructed bombs (their weapon of choice) and trained others in both how to build them and how to use them. He twice attempted to escape from prison, and the latter attempt included plans of violence and murder.

Lopez-Rivera was offered clemency by Bill Clinton in August of 1999 (in a move that was engineered by then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder) but refused to show remorse.

So, not only is Maduro meddling into Puerto Rican politics again – where he clearly is not wanted, he’s offering to exchange Leopoldo Lopez, an innocent man, for a sociopath terrorist:

“The only way I would use (presidential) powers would be to put (Leopoldo Lopez) on a plane, so he can go to the United States and stay there, and they would give me Oscar Lopez Rivera – man for man,” Maduro said during a televised broadcast.

After his offer, Maduro headed overseas – in a Cuban jet – in search of money, since at home the shelves are empty and oil hit $50/barrel as of the writing of this post.

He bundled up for the occasion:

First Russia, where Putin couldn’t fit him in his schedule. After that, China, where he has a date with

Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit and take part in a meeting between China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States Jan. 8-9 in Beijing.

Busy, busy.

UPDATE:
Regarding China, read today’s post by David Goldman.

China will be more active in Latin America.



Cuba: What are the names of the 53 prisoners?

Monday, January 5th, 2015

On December 17, Pres. Obama read his Statement on Cuba Policy Changes. In it, he mentioned,

In addition to the return of Alan Gross and the release of our intelligence agent, we welcome Cuba’s decision to release a substantial number of prisoners whose cases were directly raised with the Cuban government by my team.

No specifics, just “a substantial number of prisoners.”

Later it was revealed by the White House that, out of the untold number of political prisoners in Cuba (where in 2014 the number of arrests totaled 8,012), 53 were to be released as part of the deal. As Jason Poblete points out,

The 53 are part of a deal that included impregnating (through artificial insemination by having his sperm collected at prison in the U.S. and then flown to Cuba at U.S. taxpayers’ expense) the wife of a spy serving two life sentences for murder. U.S. taxpayers also paid to fly the spy to Cuba, where he was received as a hero, and the U.S. government paid about $3.2 million to Alan Gross.

Following the Statement, I have been trying to find the list of the 53 names. I set out right away, even asking on Twitter after my (failed) initial search,

The names, as far as I could see, are nowhere to be found. I thought perhaps I could not find them due to the fact that I have very limited resources through which I can conduct research. However, none of the dozens of Latin American or Spanish news sources I constantly consult had any information at all on the names, which is very unusual.*

As it turns out, I am in good company:

Reuters reports,
In U.S.-Cuba prisoner swap, mystery surrounds the unnamed 53

Cuba’s most prominent dissidents say they have been kept in the dark by U.S. officials over a list of 53 political prisoners who will be released from jail as part of a deal to end decades of hostility between the United States and Cuba.

For years, dissident leaders have told the United States which opponents of Cuba’s communist government were being jailed or harassed, but they say they were not consulted when the list of prisoners to be freed was drawn up or even told who is on it.

The lack of information has stoked concern and frustration among the dissidents, who worry that the secret list is flawed and that genuine political prisoners who should be on it will be left to languish.

“We’re concerned because we don’t agree with the silence, because we have a right to know who they are. Who are they?” said Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White dissident group, which marches in Havana on Sundays to demand the release of prisoners.

“There are not just 53 political prisoners, there are more, and we are concerned that the U.S. list might have common criminals on it,” she told Reuters in Havana.

Reuters also brings up another interesting question, in view of Obama’s wording “a substantial number of prisoners whose cases were directly raised with the Cuban government by my team,”

It also is not clear if some prisoners were kept off the list because the Cuban government refused to release them.

Mary O’Grady is also asking, Where Are Cuba’s Political Prisoners?
Fifty-three of those jailed by the Castros were supposed to have been freed in the Obama deal.
She couldn’t even get an answer from the State Department:

I asked the State Department this last week. State referred me to the White House. White House officials declined to provide the list of names citing “concern that publicizing it would make it more difficult to ensure that Cuba follows through, and continues with further steps in the future.”

Bottom line: The U.S. government cannot confirm that they have been released and is not certain they’re going to be released, even though the three Cuban spies have already been returned.

O’Grady points out,

If Mr. Obama is serious about selling U.S.-Cuba detente, a little less obfuscation would be nice. The U.S. has not confirmed the identity of the intelligence asset who it says had been in a Cuban prison for nearly 20 years and was also traded for the Cuban spies. Mr. Obama said the Cuban, before his arrest, had supplied key information to the U.S. that led to the nabbing of those spies, as well as three others.

Press reports and intel experts I talked to say the “asset” is Rolando Sarraff. But a debate is raging in the intelligence community about whether Mr. Sarraff, who has not been heard from since his arrival on U.S. soil, is all he’s cracked up to be by Mr. Obama. Another possibility is that his résumé was embellished to cover up for what was essentially a trade of the convicted spies for Alan Gross, the U.S. Agency for International Development contractor who was arrested by Cuban state security in Havana in 2009.

Considering how the Communist regime has a history of touting the release of prisoners for propaganda purposes, this secrecy around the names of 53 people is extraordinary enough that, by now, my question is, is there a list?

The lack of transparency equals lack of accountability. Just what one would expect from the Obama administration.

* Note: Unusual enough that I can not recall a news item in ten years of blogging where two weeks’ research turned out nothing.

The top Latin American story of 2014

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Without a doubt, Pres. Obama’s December 17 Statement on Cuba Policy Changes was the top news of 2014 on Latin America.

Read the rest of my article at Da Tech Guy Blog.

Cuban dissidents meeting at the 14ymedio office, the online newspaper of blogger Yoani Sanchez (fourth from right)

Venezuela: Kidnappings and extorsion prior to jailings

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

El Nuevo Herald has a report on how Venezuelan intelligence agents are running kidnapping and extortion gangs:
Agentes de inteligencia venezolanos operan bandas de secuestro y extorsión (my translation)

“This is a very common modus operandi”, explained Anthony Daquín, former advisor to the Venezuelan Ministry of Interior and Justice. “Agents of the Military Counterintelligence Agency and the Sebin [Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional – Bolivarian National Intelligence Service] are running these kidnapping and extortion gangs”.

Their victims are people accused of crimes by chavista courts, and the kidnappings are carried by the same agents of these agencies, usually a day or two prior to the victims being delivered to the prosecutors for trial.

The purpose is to get as much money and assets as possible from the victims, often under torture, prior to being turned in to chavista justice.

The article is available only in Spanish, not yet in the Miami Herald.

Just the other day the NYTimes had Diosdado Cabello writing that “Our government responded with restraint” to the riots. Let’s see if they respond at all to these accusations.

Related:
Welcome to Venezuela, the kidnap capital of the world

Their men in Caracas: the Cuban expats shoring up Maduro’s government
From military advisers to aid workers, thousands of Cubans form an information network across Venezuela’s economy



Arguing with idiots about #Cuba

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

A. J. Delgado has a great post (complete with Big Lebowski gifs), Arguing with idiots about #Cuba (h/t Babalu). Here’s a sample,

“But we do business with other repressive regimes.” 
Hm, I’m aware.

Screen Shot 2014-12-25 at 9.04.59 PM

But…

a) The “America might as well trade with Cuba because we do with X, Y, Z” is simply hogwash. Do eight wrongs make a right? Also:

– Is a single ONE of those nations in the Western Hemisphere? No. (Hard truth: we do care more about what happens in, say, England, than in Tibet. Sorry.)

– Do we have strong cultural and historical ties with any of those nations, dating back over 200 years? No.

– Did any of those nations confiscate over $1 billion dollars in US property at the time, done by the very same regime/family in power now? No.

b) More importantly, though, we’re bound by reality. Are some of our oil-supplier partners not exactly good guys? Sure. But our economic realities prevent us from ignoring that market. Ditto with China. Cuba, however, we can realistically shun.

c) Speaking of China (which anti-embargo proponents love to bring up, thinking it’s their pièce de résistance), China is not a fully Communist model in its economic approach. Unlike Cuba, a surprising amount of private enterprise and ownership is allowed. And, a surprising amount of the wages paid to factory workers, for instance, end up in the workers’ pockets. Meanwhile, Cuba has been busy passing legislation this year (no doubt in anticipation of the Obama-deal) dictating the government will keep over 90% of a worker’s wages derived from a foreign company. In any event, thanks to this business, the Chinese government is now the most well-funded tyrannical regime in history. Is that something we want to do again? Just askin’…

On the China issue, Noah Rothman points out,

First, as The Federalist’s Sean Davis pointed out, the parallels between the extension of diplomatic relations to Cuba and similar overtures toward China and Vietnam are misguided. The American interest in “opening” China was primarily political; exacerbate Sino-Soviet tensions, bifurcate the communist world, and provide America with a freer hand to prosecute the Vietnam War.

China under Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping engaged in dramatic market-oriented economic reforms in the 1970s, and there was no “normalization” of relations between Beijing and Washington until 1979 – well after Kissinger and then Nixon had famously visited the reclusive communist giant in 1971 and 1972 respectively. Reforms first, normalization second.

Moreover, the suggestion that the opening of bilateral diplomatic ties and business relations between America and China helped to transform the People’s Republic into a human rights paragon overnight is complicated by the 1989 massacre of peaceful pro-Democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square. Even today, despite a booming and markedly capitalist economy, China remains one of the world’s leading human rights abusers.

No, Cuba is not China.

No, you can’t have free markets without free peoples.

No, objections to Obama’s “normalization” are not caused by our “outdated Cold War perspective”.

Yes, those who oppose the embargo were vociferous about South Africa’s apartheid, even when Cuba’s communist regime is blatantly racist, and practices a de facto apartheid medical system.

But, as A.J. is aware, when it comes to Cuba, you can’t cure stupid.

Parting question, has anyone found the list of the 53 political prisoners that were supposed to be released yet? I’m still looking.

Venezuela: Revolución sin leche . . .

Monday, December 29th, 2014

pero con criminales (Revolution with no milk, but with criminals)

Two news items from the benighted Bolivarian revolution:

1. Famous Venezuelan ice-cream store closes over milk shortage

“We are closed during the season due to shortage of milk,” the famous Coromoto ice-cream store in the highland town of Merida announced on its Facebook page.

2. In Venezuela criminals are appointed to the High Court, TSJ

Translation:

1987 murder in Ciudad Bolivar
1989 associated with another murder
1990 manages to go free
1993 secretary in some Caracas court (!!!!!)
1995 becomes lawyer from the Santa Maria U. (one of the easiest universities to get a degree from, little bit more than signing attendance sheet)
2002 defends one of the regime murderers of 2002 April
2003 becomes a minor judge in Caracas (!!!!)
2004 issues arrest order against Simonovis
2005 judge in charge of Anderson case (where he did forgeries)
2007 suspended in March and fired in June
2014 TSJ “justice”.

“You want a criminal lawyer.”

Venezuela: Leopoldo’s letter

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

Los Teques prison

Leopoldo López has a Letter From a Venezuelan Jail
I am one of scores of political prisoners locked away because of our words and ideas.

When the current ruling party, the United Socialist Party, first took power in 1999, its supporters viewed human rights as a luxury, not a necessity. Large segments of the population were living in poverty, and in need of food, housing and security. Protecting free speech and the separation of powers seemed frivolous. In the name of expediency, these values were compromised and then dismantled entirely.

The legislature was neutered, allowing the executive to rule by decree without the checks and balances that prevent government from veering off track. The judiciary was made accountable to the ruling party, rendering the constitution and the law meaningless. In an infamous 2009 case, Judge Mary Lourdes Afiuni was imprisoned for ordering the release of a businessman and government critic who had been held for three years in pretrial detention, one year more than allowed under Venezuelan law.

Meanwhile, political leaders—myself included—were persecuted and imprisoned, stifling the competition of ideas that could have led to better decisions and policies. Independent news organizations were dismantled, seized or driven out of business. The “sunshine that disinfects,” and the scrutiny that motivates good decision-making, no longer benefit our leadership.

Venezuela’s current president, Nicolás Maduro, has taken this to a terrible new low.

The odds are that López will remain jailed for as long as the dictatorship remains in power.

Over at the NYTimes, Diosdado Cabello is bellyaching about sanctions, Hectoring Venezuela on Human Rights, and actually says,

Our government responded with restraint,

In other Venezuelan news, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro Names New Foreign Minister
Rafael Ramírez to Become Ambassador to United Nations, Being Replaced by Delcy Rodríguez

Many analysts viewed the shift as a demotion, after he was first removed last year as head of Venezuela’s oil sector following more than a decade. He then became the president’s top economic adviser, before becoming foreign minister this year.

Daniel Duquenal asks,

Why did Ramirez finally fall? Because he was the only one that made a tiny bit of sense inside chavismo. Oh, he was not a bright light, but at least he understood that if you want to make the revolution world wide you need cash; and to get the type of cash revolutionaries will accept you need more than just a printing press. As such, once Giordani was ejected Ramirez set up on the task to convince chavismo that there should be some order put into state finances. After all, he knew better than anyone else the dismal situation looming on the horizon as having been himself the main culprit for the downfall of PDVSA, Venezuela oil company once upon a time golden goose.

Ramirez could risk it as his own power base inside chavismo was rather small even though arguably the one with the biggest potential influence. He could aspire at bringing around some consensus. After all Ramirez had the power of blackmail knowing very well who stole what and when and how much. But he miscalculated the extent of chavismo internecine fights where no one was willing to give an inch or power. So in the end, rather than making some crucial economic decisions they all found it easier to agree in sidelining him. Oh!  They could not fire him outright of course. Chavez almost never did so. Failed operators were sent into the sweet oblivion of an overseas embassy.

But Ramirez is also paying for having “failed” to keep oil barrel at 100 USD. The autistic regime cannot understand the reasons why oil is now below 60, neither Ramirez can, and even less Maduro. But Cuba does and sent Venezuela packing. Which I am sure made  Maduro pass that additional anger on Ramirez… (1)

At least there is a piece of good news for Ramirez there: he has the excuse to bring his family out of Venezuela and never come back if he wishes.

At Caracas Chronicles Francisco Toro looks at other personnel changes and finds Your Christmas Turd, courtesy of Diosdado Cabello and TSJ [TSJ = Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, Venezuela’s Supreme Court].

UPDATE;
Linked to by American Thinker. Thank you!



The Interview. Yes, The Interview

Friday, December 26th, 2014

I plunked down $6 and watched it on YouTube.

You should, too.

Parts of it reminded me of Fidel Castro taking Barbara Walters for a ride back in the day, by land,

and by sea,

in preparation for Barbara Walters’s interviews of Fidel Castro.

Read my post at Da Tech Guy blog.

Last night’s podcast

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

I was Rick Moran’s co-host in last night’s podcast. discussing The Opening to Cuba: What do Cuban Americans Think? with Silvio Canto, Jr.

Related to the topic,
The Real Cost of Castro Inc.

If relations are fully normalized, American tourist dollars would pour into companies owned by the Castro regime, since tourism is controlled by both the military and General Raul Castro, warns the Cuba Transition Project (CTP).That means rum, tobacco, hotels and resorts are all owned and operated by the regime and its security forces. Cuba’s dominant company is the Grupo Gaesa, founded by Raul Castro in the nineties and controlled and operated by the Cuban military, which oversees all investments. Cuba’s Gaviota, run by the Cuban military, operates Cuba’s tourism trade, its hotels, resorts, car rentals, nightclubs, retail stores and restaurants. Gaesa is run by Raul’s son-in-law, Colonel Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas.

The number of foreign companies doing business in Cuba have been cut by more than half since the 1990s, to 190 from some 400. Reasons include: Being forced to partner with army-controlled groups; hire workers through state agencies; and the freezing of bank deposits. Complaints have poured in from former senior executives at Dow Chemical, General Mills, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Colgate-Palmolive, Bacardi, American Express Bank, PepsiCo, Warner Communications, Martin Marietta Aluminum and Amex Nickel Corporation. Iberia, Spain’s national airline which at one time accounted for 10% of foreign commerce with Cuba, killed its Havana routes because they were unprofitable.

Carlos Eire was not in the podcast, but you should read how he’s Dealing with anti-Cuban-American vitriol on Christmas Eve

Confirmed: US Sperm For Spies program

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Disgraceful.

Babalu named it, Obama’s Sperm for Spies program:
Cuban spy serving life for murder was allowed to send sperm to wife in Cuba

Yes. They threw in a baby with the bath water.

Gerardo Hernández, who was serving two consecutive life sentences since he was the

head of the spy ring known as the Wasp Network, was convicted in 2001 of conspiracy to commit murder for his role in the Brothers to the Rescue incident that left four Cuban-Americans dead.

was able to impregnate his wife through artificial insemination by having his sperm collected at prison in the U.S. and then flown to Cuba at U.S. taxpayers’ expense (emphasis added):

The plan was hatched with the help of US Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), his office confirmed to help ensure the release of ailing US aid worker Alan Gross

The US Justice Department, which ought to change its name to the No-Justice Department, confirmed,

“We can confirm the United States facilitated Mrs. Hernandez’s request to have a baby with her husband,” spokesman Brian Fallon told CNN.

In exchange, Alan Gross was not allowed to attend his mother’s funeral when she died last June.

Yesterday I said, “There will be more coming from these – up to now – seemingly unrelated stories.” Little did I know a baby was in the deal.

UPDATE
CUBA SIGNALS THAT EXTRADITION OF US FUGITIVES OFF THE TABLE