Archive for the ‘Communism’ Category

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



Did Obama give in on Cuba so Uruguay would take 6 Gitmo alumni?

Monday, December 22nd, 2014


Lame duck Uruguayan president and former Tupamaro terrorist José Mujica brags, according to an AFP and EFE report at La Tercera (link in Spanish), that he asked the Obama administration to release three Cuban spies in exchange for Uruguay accepting six Gitmo detainees.

Mujica indicó also indicated that negotiations with the U.S. government “are far from closed. They depend, among other things, on various decisions outside our reach.”

Paul Mirengoff asks, THE CUBA APPEASEMENT AND THE LATEST DETAINEE RELEASE — IS THERE A CONNECTION?

Although no one seems to dispute that Mujica, a former leftist guerrilla, urged that the Cuban spies be released, the U.S. denies that their release was ever part of the negotiations, which have been going on for many months. It would appear, then, that either Mujica or the Obama administration is lying.

However, the truth may be that Mujica asked for the release of the Cuban spies and the administration signaled that this would be taken care of as part of a larger deal with Cuba. In this scenario, the Obama administration could deny that the release of spies ever became part of the give-and-take of negotiations. Again, it seems likely that releasing the Cuban spies is something Obama wanted to do anyway, for purposes of accommodating the Castro regime.

If Obama’s recent transactions with Uruguay and Cuba are viewed collectively, here is the “bill” to the U.S.: (1) the release of six terrorists with no assurance (not even a paper one) that they won’t immediately return to the fight against the U.S., as so many have; (2) the release of three Cuban spies; and (3) the granting to Cuba’s Communist tyrants of as much legitimacy and economic help as Obama has the power to confer.

There will be more coming from these – up to now – seemingly unrelated stories.

The “normalized” Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

On Wednesday, December 17, 2014 President Barack Obama read a Statement on Cuba Policy Changes. One could parse the fallacies, starting with “the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba,” when in fact the change is in the relationship with the Communist regime oppressing the people of Cuba. Cuban opposition leaders decry the move, clearly seeing it as a betrayal since the know that engagement won’t automatically promote freedom

Opposition leaders from throughout the island have agreed on four immediate demands to put before the government: the release of political prisoners; the end of repression against human rights and pro-democracy groups; the ratification of international covenants on human rights; and the recognition of Cuban civil society groups.

Nothing in the December 17 Statement refers to those demands.

Apparently 53 political prisoners are to be released; I’ll be most obliged if anyone could send me a link to the list of their names and the date(s) of their release, since I have not been able to find it.

The Liberal Fallacy of the Cuba Deal
Don’t get me wrong: I support the normalization of relations. But believing it can remake the regime in Havana is the worst kind of American exceptionalist fantasy.

The fantasy that U.S. policies and actions can reshape another country has been with us for far too long. The ability of the United States to change any country’s internal economy or politics is extraordinarily limited, as our most recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan show, yet again.

Mariela Castro, Raul Castro’s daughter, clarified,

Change must come from within Cuba: Only Cubans can save Cuba.

As things stand right now, the odds have vastly improved for Cuba to “transition” into a profitable Communist regime, like China’s. Or perhaps, even more likely, the Viet Nam outcome,

The Vietnam outcome is what the Castros are counting on: a flood of U.S. tourists and business investment that will allow the regime to maintain its totalitarian system indefinitely.

Obama is trying to cement his legacy. Human rights (and true democracy) be damned.

Obama on video flaunting Cuban cigar hours after capitulating to Cuba


More ABC News Videos | ABC World News

As an aside, the Castro regime has availed itself of santería imagery to instill fear at home (even having members of his entourage pluck dead chickens at the Waldorf Astoria in 1960). Obama’s announcement came on St. Lazarus day, a saint in Cuban santería, as Val Prieto points out. When it comes to symbolism, Obama handed the Castros an ace in the hole.

Roundup:
Drudge:


CASTRO: CUBA STAYS COMMUNIST!

1960 article from The Economist: On The Rocks

Blogs:
In Cuba Policy Debate, Theories Don’t Cut It

Castros Pull It Off, Again? Some Preliminary Thoughts

Will Obama roll out the White House red carpet for Raul Castro?

‘Disturbing to say the least': Something’s VERY wrong with this photo of Alan Gross

Krauthammer: Liberalization Won’t Work in Cuba

Details of the Unilateral Executive Cuba Deal

What Part of Keeping Cuba Isolated Has Not ‘Worked’?

Obama’s New Cuba Policy: Eating With Raul

Rand Paul Rand-splains Cuba to Marco Rubio

Castro’s Hipster Apologists Want to Keep Cuba ‘Authentically’ Poor
The thawing of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba has elicited a lot of patronizing, asinine fretting about the imminent “Americanization” of Cuba.

The WaPo sees the light on Obama and Cuba

Thoughts on Cuba

Odds & Ends: Cuba

Democracy in Cuba is a long-term project. One of the arguments from those who want to lift the embargo is that capitalism will bring democracy to Cuba. What this argument fails to take into account is that Cuban society from an ethics standpoint has de-evolved. Since Castro has taken over, Cuban society has regressed. Through its loss of freedom and the economic rations, the Cuban people have adopted a “survival of the fittest” mentality. In terms of daily life, this means that the Cuban people have to steal either materials, or food, or money in order for their family to survive. Their thought is that the consequences be damned, I have to do this for my family to survive. For foreign companies that want to do build factories and or businesses in Cuba, be prepared to deal with employees who will steal.

The democratic process in Cuba will take at least three generations. The first generation will need to fight for their democratic rights. This will either be a violent or a peaceful revolution. The second generation, once it has secured those rights, will need to have those rights protected through constitutional means. The third and subsequent generations will need to be vigilant in protecting those rights. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, Cuba will have a democracy, if they can keep it. In that democraticization process civil society will need to be re-established. The re-establish process needs to include a religious component.

Boycott Cuba, Conservative Hellhole
Why, again, are we celebrating a country run by elderly, militaristic white Hispanic men?

Cuba’s Maximum Wage, Or What Life Is Like When You Follow Gawker’s Economic Policy

¿Qué Ofrece Raúl Castro?

ARGENTINA
Will the Pope butt in? Argentina calls on Britain to discuss Falklands sovereignty after US and Cuba deal
ARGENTINA President Cristina Kirchner has today called on Britain to discuss the Falklands’ sovereignty in light of an historic deal between the US and Cuba.

BRAZIL

Edição 2405

24 de dezembro de 2014

No es facil

Estados Unidos e Cuba reatam laços diplomáticos – mas é cedo para comemorar

CHILE
Emanuel heading to Chile for holidays, despite possible criticism

COLOMBIA
Colombia Farc truce follows killings
Colombia’s Farc begins an indefinite, unilateral ceasefire, hours after the army said that the left-wing rebels had killed five soldiers.

ECUADOR
Ecuador Ends Environmental Cooperation with Germany

JAMAICA
Jamaica Urged To Take Lead In Renewed Cuba Relations

PUERTO RICO
Cuba’s Tourism Gain Will Be Puerto Rico’s Loss Says Analyst

URUGUAY
Uruguay’s Mujica Shows U.S. Letter De-Linking Ex-Guantanamo Inmates from Terrorism

VENEZUELA
Venezuela is done for; it is not me saying it, it is Raul Castro

Another thing is that the way Raul Castro has dumped Venezuela for the US tourism dollar. Now that Venezuela is bankrupt, the only quick fix available for Cuba is to open its tourism to US visitors, and to Miami Cubans eager to come back and buy back, say, their ancestral home. Raul Castro, for all practical purposes, told us today that Venezuela is done, that he cannot leech much more from it, and that he dumps us without ceremony. We are broke and not even the most idiot of chavistadom can pretend to ignore that for much longer.

But what worries me the most about the whole Raul-Obama deal is that a wind of impunity is blowing through the Caribbean. Thousands of Cuban criminals that supported the Castro horrendous dictatorship are now going to go Scott free. Sure, a couple of them will be somehow sent to trial, scapegoats for decades of tyranny and errors. But it looks like the Castros are now going to die peacefully in their bed while the cult to Che will grow even stronger as throngs of lobotomized US tourists will be driven to the high places of Che crimes.

Current occupant of the White House imposes sanctions on Venezuela, no one pays attention

US-Cuba: A Historic Decision

How Venezuela’s Collapse Helped Thaw Cuban-American Relations
The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez helped keep the Cuban regime propped up, but that’s not possible in an era of low oil prices

The week’s posts and podcast:
Cuba: Raul gets richer

Cuba: Q & A

Cuba: US law and dissidents’ objectives

Ecuador: Selling it to China

Cuba: What is the regime going to do?

Cuba: #AlanGross released – is Obama ending the embargo in exchange? UPDATED THROUGH THE DAY

Argentina: Cristina aims for The People’s Cube

Puerto Rico: NY Yankees’ Jorge Posada scammed out of $11million

Elsewhere

Uruguay: Send more Gitmo alumni!

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Whose “outdated Cold War perspective”?

Brace yourselves: Obama to end the embargo after Gross’s release

Podcast
A look at Venezuela, Cuba and other US-Latin America stories of the week