Morales le entregó la máxima condecoración de Bolivia, el Cóndor de los Andes, y la distinción Luis Espinal, que fue creada para reconocer a quien profese una fe religiosa y se destaque por defender a los pobres, los marginados y los enfermos.
Además, le entregó el tallado de una cruz formada con la hoz y el martillo, que es una reproducción de una que hizo el sacerdote jesuita español Espinal, asesinado en 1980 por paramilitares por su compromiso con las luchas sociales en Bolivia, y a quien Francisco dedicó el miércoles un homenaje cerca del lugar donde hallaron su cadáver.
Morales awarded him the Andean Condor, Bolivia’s highest decoration, and the Luis Espinal medal, created to honor believers in a religious faith who distinguish themselves by defending the poor, alienated, and sick.
Additionally, he gave him a carving of a cross shaped as a hammer and sickle, a reproduction of the one made by Spanish Jesuit priest Espinal, murdered in 1980 by paramilitary for his commitment to the class struggle in Bolivia, and to whom Francis dedicated on Wednesday a memorial near the location where [Espinal’s] body was found.
The trips—which are cleared under existing U.S. Treasury rules that allow approved travelers to go to the island for cultural and humanitarian exchanges—still need a green light from Cuban authorities.
I don’t think Rodiles will get to visit with them.
Apparently, the [Iranian] theocracy sees Barack Obama and John Kerry as hell-bent changers, willing to achieve their own legacies at the expense of the interests of their country and its allies — and thus as bewildering and worthy of contempt in a world where leaders are expected to promote their own people’s interests. Expect the geriatric Castros to share the same contempt for American outreach, and to double down on their anti-Americanism and their ruthless suppression of freedom to add spite to the embarrassment of U.S. appeasement. They see U.S. recognition as a big change that will further empower their police state.
While President Obama described the embassy as “not merely symbolic” and a move representing the liberation of the American people from “the past” in a speech this morning, the Cuban government issued a statement refusing to reestablish full diplomatic relations with the United States until America gifted the territory of Guantánamo Bay to Cuba and ceased broadcasting radio and television news reports into the island, which constitute the only way many Cubans have of receiving trustworthy international news.
. . .
While President Obama boasted of Americans’ privilege to not be “imprisoned by the past,” 84-year-old dictator Raúl Castro assured Cubans in his official statement on diplomatic relations with the United States that the Cuban people would remain in his shackles. Cuba “will continue bottled up in the process of realizing its economic and social model, to construct a prosperous and sustainable socialism, advance the nation’s development, and consolidate the achievements of the Revolution,” the statement reads.
Venezuelan Ombudsman Tareck El Aissami said that he would meet with the senator and added, on his Twitter account, that the pair would discuss “issues related to Venezuelan democracy, human rights and national peace.”
Ortega was pressed on the treatment of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni – detained for releasing a political prisoner without the president’s permission – by the Tunisian representative Yadh Ben Achour, one of the Arab World’s most respected legal rights scholars. It seems Ortega blew a gasket, snapping, “so that the lawyer Yadh Ben Achour, representing Tunisia, may shut his mouth, it is not true that Judge Afiuni was raped. He is making things up.”
. . .
But the worst, for Ortega, was yet to come. Hours after her outburst, Judge Afiuni turned up at her trial in Caracas – a trial that’s taking place now, five years and four months after the fact – and repeated that not only had she been raped in prison, but that both her vagina and anus had been seriously injured in the attack.
Cuba maintains one of its largest intelligence networks in Venezuela (and in Mexico). The late President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela preferred direct access to Cuba’s security service, as indicated by cables that were released and sent from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas to the State Department.
The Cuban security apparatchik remains a key source of Venezuela’s training for its military, and its domestic and foreign security services, as well as for the development and support of people and groups with terror agendas, and to restrain and inhibit opposition to the repressive leftist governments of Venezuela and Cuba.
Guerrillas, paramilitary groups and criminal gangs rule Apure’s second-largest city, not the government of Nicolás Maduro. None of its officials in that secluded region of the country have control over them. Neither the National Armed Forces, nor the National Guard, much less the governorship of the state or the mayor’s office.
Nobody from Caracas cares about what happens there, unless it is of interest to the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). That explains the diligence of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) in validating an irritating ruling made by most municipal councilmen there who disregarded the will of the people of the municipality by removing opposition mayor Lumay Barreto from office and appointing a PSUV activist in her place. That’s what the Government calls “participatory democracy.”
Studies Reveal Colectivos with 10,000 Active Members
Studies released by the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies(ICCAS) at the University of Miami have revealed that the Cuban regime is training Venezuelan paramilitary groups, including Los Tupamaros, La Piedrita, Simón Bolívar, and Alexis Vive. These groups have killed more than 25 students during protests, and injured over 300.
These studies show that for years the Venezuelan government has sent regime supporters to Havana to learn repression tactics in order to help their leaders stay in power. Furthermore, there is evidence that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a group designated as a terrorist organization by the US government, also trains these groups on Venezuela’s border with Colombia.
In 2011, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London, on behalf of the Colombian Defense Ministry, conducted an independent analysis of the computers of Raúl Reyes, a member of FARC’s Central High Command who was killed in an ambush in 2008. The investigation revealed important intelligence material on the guerrilla, including information that linked senior members of the Venezuelan army with drug trafficking.
The IISS also found evidence of that the FARC had trained Venezuelan colectivos in exchange for the campgrounds Hugo Chávez allowed the guerrilla to establish on the border.
The ICCAS report concludes,
The most troubling aspects of this relationship are the growing drug trafficking and the continuous opposition to U.S. policies. The inclusion of Iran in rounding out this triumvirate, has added a dimension of strategic importance. The proximity of Cuba and Venezuela to the U.S. makes the two countries ideal platforms for anti-American activities, specifically in the event of a U.S. conflict with Iran. These two allies may be called upon to support Iranian policies and objectives.
You can read the ICCAS’s Cuba Transition Project report by Pedro Roig below the fold: (more…)
Spanish police arrest man who allegedly sent liquid heroin from Colombia to the United States by implanting it in puppies
More headlines from Venezuela:
Sources tell me Leopoldo Lopez may suspend his hunger strike. He won’t be long of this world if he persists in starving himself. UPDATE: Indeed, he ended his hunger strike.
There are multiple problems with that. First off, UNASUR – the Union of South American Nations – was founded by Chávez and is widely seen as pliant to the Venezuelan regime. What’s more, “accompaniment” is not “monitoring”.
Venezuela’s government is a complex web of interlocking political relationships built during chavista rule. Several groups and individuals merit closer observation to determine how Venezuela’s immediate future will develop. The first person to consider is Cabello. As National Assembly speaker, he stands to lose immunity if the opposition sweeps the December elections — a possibility that is growing more likely as a majority of opinion polls show the ruling party trailing the opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable. Cabello faces an investigation for cocaine trafficking through Venezuela to the United States — a crime entailing potential arrest and extradition if Cabello loses his immunity. Consequently, Cabello has joined Maduro in reaching out to the United States on the modest goal of appointing ambassadors, and Cabello likely will remain involved in this outreach to reduce his personal risk. Initially, Cabello was publicly absent from the negotiations. But in the face of growing political challenges from Maduro, Cabello seems to have inserted himself in the negotiations for the long run.
It’s not clear that a leadership change in Caracas will negate the goodwill China has built up, since Maduro might be replaced by a colleague from the USP. The political opposition might come into power at some point, but the next presidential elections are far off, and it seems hardly likely that Maduro will survive that long. Of course, few would want the thankless task of attempting to clean up the mess that is Venezuela, which might be the only thing preventing a palace coup.
However, even if Maduro is replaced by someone in his party who regards China favorably, there will almost certainly be a demand for debt renegotiation, simply because the Venezuelans can’t afford to repay what they owe.
According to the FAO, which presented the diploma on June 8th, Venezuela is one of 72 countries that have reached the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving the percentage of their populations suffering from hunger. But the prize, based on government data up to 2012, comes amid growing evidence that the trend has reversed.
By some estimates, including the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces controls over 70% of the economy. Enterprise Management Group (GAESA), the commercial holding company for the Cuban Defense Ministry, is involved in all key sectors of the economy. Through government-owned subsidies, the company is heavily involved in tourism, retail sales, mining, farming and energy, and joint ventures with foreign investors.
The lede summarizes it:
The armed forces control 70% of the economy now. It’s not likely they’ll give that up for a free market.
For me, Sánchez’s most appalling indictment of Fidel concerns the chaotic exodus of more than 125,000 Cubans in 1980 from the port of Mariel. Most who fled were members of Cuban exile families living in the United States. They were allowed to board boats brought by relatives and to make the crossing to South Florida.
But many of the boats were forcibly loaded by Cuban authorities with criminals and mentally ill people plucked from institutions on the island. Few of us who have studied Fidel Castro have doubted that it was he who ordered those dangerous Cubans to be exported to the United States. He has persuaded few with his denials of any role in the incident.
Yet Sánchez adds an appalling new twist to the saga. We learn that prison wards and mental institutions were not hurriedly emptied, as was previously believed. Sánchez reveals that Castro insisted on scouring lists of prisoners so that he could decide who would stay and who would be sent to the United States. He ordered interior minister Jose Abrahantes to bring him prisoner records.
Sánchez was seated in an anteroom just outside of Fidel’s office when the minister arrived. The bodyguard listened as Fidel discussed individual convicts with Abrahantes.
“I was present when they brought him the lists of prisoners,” Sánchez writes, “with the name, the reason for the sentence, and the date of release. Fidel read them, and with the stroke of a pen designated which ones could go and which ones would stay. ‘Yes’ was for murderers and dangerous criminals; ‘no’ was for those who had attacked the revolution.” Dissidents remained incarcerated.
A number of the criminal and psychopathic marielitos put on the boats to Florida went on to commit heinous crimes — including mass murder, rape, and arson. Among the many despicable acts Fidel Castro committed over the years, his decision to facilitate that violence stands in a sordid class by itself.
[Cuban foreign minister Bruno] Rodriguez suggested improved relations could bring economic benefits for both sides. “The modernization of the Cuban economy also presents an opportunity for the German economy,” he said.
It’s not about the lines, though, not really. They’re just a symptom. Scarcity is the disease. And if you think Cuba’s chronic shortages are because of American sanctions, think again. The guy that mentioned Home Depot? He makes a living selling screws and nails on the black market. He’ll be sentenced to prison if he’s caught, so Miroff left his last name out of the article.
Sentenced to prison. For selling nails and screws.
You’ll also go to prison if you sell cooking oil or cheese. You’ll go to prison if you’re found in possession of a lobster whether or not you bought or sold it. Only tourists get to eat lobster, not because it’s an endangered species but because the government sells them at state-run restaurants for foreigners and won’t tolerate anyone challenging its monopoly.
Communism fails just as dismally in Cuba as it failed everywhere else, and for the same reasons. If you ban economic behavior, you won’t have much of an economy.
Read the whole thing, while keeping in mind that the regime has sworn to not change.