My latest article at Da Tech Guy: Cuba’s foreign prisoners
Archive for the ‘Cuba’ Category
Following Justin Bieber’s acts of vandalism, Colombian and Brazilian authorities are having to deal with an outburst of graffiti. Maybe they ought to ban the little twerp from coming back, or better yet, make him clean it up with his own two hands.
Authorities have focused on seizing drugs, not dismantling the organisations that peddle them. “This strategy is futile,” says former under-secretary of security for Buenos Aires province, Diego Gorgal. “It doesn’t change the supply, demand, or price of drugs.” It is also poorly executed. According to the latest International Narcotics Control Strategy Report produced by the US State Department, Argentine security forces seized 12 tonnes of cocaine in 2010; in the first six months of 2012 they confiscated only 3.4 tonnes. Operation Northern Shield, an initiative to improve Argentina’s border security through the installation of seven radars in the north, has flopped. Only three have been activated. Their backup? Forty-year-old aircraft.
Fire ravages Oscar Niemeyer building
Authorities in Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, fight a major blaze at a landmark building designed by modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer, The Latin America Memorial.
D.C. Jews press Obama to secure subcontractor’s release from Cuban jail Alan Gross was arrested in 2009 while on a mission to hook up Cuba’s small Jewish community to the Internet; a rally planned for Dec. 3 is meant to raise awareness for his cause.
Gay U.S. ambassador faces backlash in Dominican Republic
U.S. trial ends over Ecuador pollution judgment against Chevron: The case is Chevron Corp v. Steven Donziger et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 11-0691.
Uncovering Jamaica’s Jewish Past In the great Caribbean melting pot, one group is largely overlooked: Jewish refugees who settled centuries ago. Their descendants are unearthing graveyards to reclaim a piece of history.
EPN’s first year
Update on the Chong Chon Gang: Panama Reverses: North Korean Crew Not Freed
Organized crime prosecutor Nahaniel Murgas first said only the ship’s captain, first mate and a Korean official who watched the crew would continue to be detained and face charges of arms trafficking. He appeared later in the afternoon at the base where the crew members were being held and changed his version, saying only the ship was legally free to go. He left without further comment.
Mientras dice que “no defiende la marihuana”, Mujica pide que ‘el mundo ayude a Uruguay’ en su ‘experimento’ con marihuana.
Maduro’s government uses ambulances for posting flyers while hospitals lack ambulance service:
— German (@GerCortez) November 27, 2013
Venezuela elections: Empty shelves and a skyscraper squat
Venezuelans go to the polls in local and regional elections on 8 December that are being widely seen as a referendum on the six-month presidency of Nicolas Maduro. Opponents accuse him of leading the country to economic ruin, but he insists his reforms are essential and popular.
It’s [sic] means this entire thing, the whole of the macroeconomic mess, all the crazy dislocations of the last few years, the raspaíto, the impossible-to-find milk, the shoving matches for perniles, the cars that suddenly jump up in price as they roll out of the showroom, all of it (and, much worse, all of what’s to come) all of it is – to a much greater extent than almost anyone realizes – just a knock-on effect from the financial chasm left in PDVSA’s finances by the gasoline subsidy!
China + oil = deal CITIC Mining Survey Agreement With Venezuela: Another Boondoggle?
The week’s posts:
Venezuela: “21st Century socialism” = same old Communism
At Da Tech Guy’s Blog: Colombia: The controversy started by . . . Justin Bieber?
Linked to by Devil’s Excrement. Thank you!
The Cuban government said Tuesday that it was shutting down nearly all of its consular services in the United States “until further notice” because it was unable to find a bank willing to handle its business. The decision threatens to disrupt a recent surge in travel between the United States and Cuba on the eve of the holiday season. The Cuban Interests Section in Washington said that it was informed by its bank, M&T Bank, in July that it would no longer be able to provide services to foreign missions.
Play me the world’s smallest violin. For decades, Cuba has defaulted and cheated on all debts, and is currently imprisoning foreign businessmen who tried to collect on unpaid bills.
The Castro regime will now issue all sorts of “threats” and “propaganda” in an effort to coerce the Obama Administration into compelling a private bank to do business with it.
$5 says they’ll find one.
Update on Honduras’s election: What next?
Argentina to slap steep taxes on luxury imports; Cristina buys hers in Paris anyway.
This may be about to change: Why does Chile prosper while neighbouring Argentina flounders?
Chile has usually followed economically sensible policies, inflation is low and the budget is almost balanced – by contrast Argentina engages in repeated self-inflicted economic upheaval
Colombia’s Wayward Search for Peace (emphasis added):
One should therefore be skeptical of rosy reports from Havana about agreements being made on this point or that. All agreements to date are worthless until the guerrillas turn in their weapons and human rights violators surrender to the authorities.
Secondly, the Obama administration must clearly and loudly annunciate U.S. interests in the matter. After all, U.S. taxpayers have a $10 billion investment in Colombia, used to train and equip Colombian security forces and have as much a stake as anyone in any final agreement with the FARC. That the U.S. has relegated itself to the closet while the likes of Cuba and Venezuela flaunt their participation in negotiations is absurd — and no doubt has contributed to the Colombian people’s doubts about the outcome.
Deportation fears on rise in Dominican Republic
The New Sandinista Autocracy
In his 1986 State of the Union Address, President Reagan declared: “Surely no issue is more important for peace in our own hemisphere, for the security of our frontiers, for the protection of our vital interests, than to achieve democracy in Nicaragua and to protect Nicaragua’s democratic neighbors.” The region and the world obviously look much different today than they did in 1986: The Soviet Union and the Cold War are long gone, and Nicaragua no longer poses the same geopolitical threat to U.S. interests. Yet the Sandinistas are once again attempting to create a dictatorship, and Nicaragua’s neighbors are once again struggling with rampant violence. Large portions of Guatemalan territory are effectively controlled by the Zetas Cartel, and Honduras is now the global murder capital. (Honduran human-rights commissioner Ramón Custodio Lopez has expressed fears that his nation is becoming a failed state.) And while a March 2012 gang truce between MS-13 and Barrio 18 has significantly reduced homicides in El Salvador, the gangs have continued to extort and terrorize the Salvadoran people, and their truce appears to be unraveling.
Another update: Visiting royals? Those regrettable moments
The week’s posts:
Ecuador: Promises, promises
Bachelet wants to increase taxes, put private colleges out of business, and rewrite the Constitution. What could possibly go wrong? Chile: A step to the left
As expected in Colombia: Santos to run for 2d term
At Da Tech Guy’s: How things can get worse in Venezuela
Mary O’Grady reports on Brian Latell’s book, Castro’s Secrets: Cuban Intelligence, the CIA, and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy
What Castro Knew About Lee Harvey Oswald
The official narrative skips tantalizing signs of a Cuban connection.
The agency [CIA] recruited Rolando Cubela, a revolutionary insider, to do the job.
But Cubela was a double agent. And on Sept. 7, just after Cubela agreed to help the Americans, Castro gave an interview to an AP reporter in which he put the U.S. on notice that “aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders” would mean that “they themselves will not be safe.”
Castro didn’t need to look far for a willing partner to back up those words. It is “known with near certainty,” writes Mr. Latell, that Cuba had “opened a dossier” on Oswald in 1959, while he was stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, in Southern California. Oswald was enamored of the Cuban Revolution, and he had made contact with the Cuban consulate in Los Angeles.
On Sept. 27, 1963, Oswald checked into the Hotel Comercio in Mexico City for a five-night stay. He tried to get a visa from the Cuban embassy to travel to Havana. He had a fling with an embassy employee and probably spent time with others who were intelligence agents. When his visa was not forthcoming, witnesses said he went on a rant at the embassy, slammed the door and stormed off.
According to Mr. Latell, during his Mexico City stay Oswald twice visited the Soviet consulate where he met with “an officer of the notorious Department 13, responsible for assassination and sabotage operations.” The KGB was training Cuban intelligence at the time, and “it seems certain that [Oswald's] intelligence file in Havana was thickening.”
Castro’s claim about Oswald—in a speech 30 hours after Kennedy was shot—that “we never in our life heard of him” was a lie. Indeed, in a 1964 conversation with Jack Childs —an American communist who had secretly been working for the FBI—Castro let it slip that he knew of Oswald’s outburst while at the embassy in Mexico City and said that the ex-Marine had threatened to kill the U.S. president.
Castro’s Secrets is also available on Kindle.
Prose poetry from (who else!) Carlos Eire, Dispatch From the Balcony of Time Travel
Judge Maria Giraudi ordered that the singer’s belongings be held after photographer Diego Pesoa filed suit for damages, alleging that Bieber’s bodyguards hit him and damaged his equipment as the singer was leaving a nightclub.
Pesoa’s lawyer, Matias Morla, said Bieber “gave the order to beat him and then got back in his van.”
Paco Almaraz takes care of the little burned-out twerp (in Spanish):
Dirceu is now in the clink: Brazil Mensalao jailings begin
Brazil starts jailing high-profile politicians convicted last year in the country’s biggest corruption trial, the “Mensalao” (big monthly allowance).
The calm in Chile
Senate Unanimously Confirms Gay Ambassador to Dominican Republic
In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Senate has confirmed James “Wally” Brewster as the ambassador to the Dominican Republic, despite recent protests from antigay groups in the Caribbean nation.
Shampoo, rinse, repeat: Time Warp Monday
Mexican Farmers Confront Drug Cartels
Farmers in the rich agricultural heartland of Mexico’s Michoacán state, fed up with a reign of terror and extortion by a drug cartel, have organized community police forces and driven out the cartel.
Update on the Chong Chon Gang: Panama extends North Koreans visas to get ship, crew
How Wall Street Has Profited From Puerto Rico’s Misery
Who is Tareck el Aissami?
The criminalization of dissidence and opposition: CHÁVEZ’S SUCCESSOR SEES A TRILOGY OF EVIL
The week’s posts and podcast
Venezuela: The start of the really bad news
At Da Tech Guy: Attention Christmas shoppers! Che on aisle nine!
US-Latin America stories of the week
New York-based Human Rights Watch said five candidate nations — China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Algeria — have refused to let U.N. investigators visit to check alleged abuses.
If Cuba is not included among those five, it must be because the U.N. investigators have not asked.
The week’s must-read? This: Documents show depth of U.S. concern over Mexico violence. As I’ve been saying for nearly a decade, border security is national security.
Argentina’s Fading Diva
“You can see light at the end of the tunnel,” Mr. Mariscal said, “but you don’t know if it’s the train coming towards you.”
Before Global Games, Rio Is Fighting to Dim Red Light. Good luck with that.
Michael Totten is Home From Cuba,
That is one truly strange place. It’s right there alongside Libya under Moammar Qaddafi in the bizarro department. I’m glad I went, but I’m even more glad to be out of there.
Chevron’s lead lawyer, Randy Mastro, had some success this week showing that [Ecuadorian judge Nicolas] Zambrano doesn’t seem to know very much about the record-breaking decision he supposedly rendered. When asked, the former Ecuadorian judge couldn’t name key elements of the ruling, such as the most powerful carcinogenic substance it cited or a crucial scientific study purporting to link oil contamination to human illnesses. He also struggled to explain how he was able to deploy French, American, and Australian case law in the ruling, since, as he conceded, he does not speak or read French or English.
From Brookings: The Upcoming Electoral Cycle in Latin America in the Midst of Social Unrest: What Lies Ahead?
Tunnel for Smuggling Found Under U.S.-Mexico Border; Tons of Drugs Seized
The sophisticated underground passageway featured electricity, ventilation and an electronic rail system and took about a year to build, officials said.
- Increases government control over radio, television, telephone and internet services, including requirements for local control and data storage.
- Institutionalizes various FSLN organizations into the government and constitution, further merging the government and party (which would have serious repercussions if the FSLN did lose an election some day in the future, in that the party would still retain control over aspects of government).
LNG carriers will cross the 48-mile waterway 350 times a year, and voyages to Asia from the U.S. will cost 24 percent less than longer routes, according to calculations from the canal authority. The expected 12 million tons, assuming half the transits are hauling cargoes, would be equal to about 5 percent of the world’s trade in 2012, Fearnley Consultants AS estimates.
The U.S., now the world’s largest producer of natural gas because of the extraction of fuel from shale rocks, will account for much of that traffic as it becomes the third-largest exporter of LNG by 2020, Morgan Stanley estimates. With American energy independence now at a 27-year high of 86 percent, the route will boost exports to Japan, offsetting nuclear-power generation lost after the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
Paraguay says can be launch pad for Israeli technology in Latin America
With a favorable tax system, stable business environment, Paraguay could be key to providing Israeli innovators with access to broader Latin markets, says Paraguayan minister.
La Mallorquina, open since 1848, closed:
My grandparents used to take the family (of 12!) to eat there in the 1920s and ’30s.
Desperation News and Views
Miami Herald reporter held for second night in Venezuela while covering economic crisis; he was released on Saturday and is back in the USA.
John Hinderaker watches the pageants and posts lots of pictures: MISS UNIVERSE: A FINAL PREVIEW [UPDATED WITH RESULTS]
The week’s posts and podcast:
Chile: Left turn coming up
With Jerry Brewer on Silvio Canto’s podcast
after a $32,000/plate dinner, With Charlie Crist as guest, President Obama raises cash in Miami, chats with Cuban dissidents Guillermo “Coco” Fariñas and Berta Soler.
Florida’s newest high-profile Democrat, former Gov. Charlie Crist, was spotted at the Segovia Tower in Coral Gables at a $32,000-a-head fundraiser hosted by personal injury attorney Ralph G. Patino.
Obama moved next to a fundraiser hosted by Jorge Mas Santos, a Cuban American National Foundation leader and CEO of MasTec. There, the president thanked Mas Santos, who stood next to him, and singled out Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
Obama told two of Cuba’s leading dissidents in South Florida that he admires their sacrifices, a rare White House recognition of the peaceful opposition on the communist-ruled island.
“The most important thing here was the recognition by the president of the United States, the most powerful democracy in the world,” dissident Guillermo Farinas said minutes after the meeting.
The other dissident is Berta Soler, of the Ladies in White.
Speaking by the pool of Mas Santos’ house, Obama said his policy of supporting civil society in Cuba is beginning to show results, but that Washington must continue to be “creative and thoughtful” in its policies.
Results, you say? Cuban human rights monitor reports 763 political arrests in October.
Just last week Fariñas was beaten up by a mob in his hometown of Santa Clara, Cuba.
If you like your policy of supporting civil society in Cuba, you can keep it. Period.
Back when Hugo Chavez was alive, he imported 30,000 Cuban “doctors” (some of which eventually defected), and began buying most medical equipment through Cuba, China and Argentina instead of from the suppliers.
Now the whole country’s medical system – both the “free” healthcare and the private – is collapsing, as Frank Bajak reports:
DOCTORS SAY VENEZUELA’S HEALTH CARE IN COLLAPSE
Last month, the government suspended organ donations and transplants. At least 70 percent of radiotherapy machines, precisely what Gonzalez will need once her tumor is removed, are now inoperable in a country with 19,000 cancer patients – meaning fewer than 5,000 can be treated, said Dr. Douglas Natera, president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation.
Needles, syringes and paraffin used in biopsies to diagnose cancer, drugs to treat it, operating room equipment, X-ray film and imaging paper, blood and the reagents needed so it can be used for transfusions are all in desperately short supply.
Alberto de la Cruz points out the Cubanization of Venezuela:
Under the “leadership” of their puppet governor Nicolas Maduro, this Cuban colony has managed to become almost completely Cubanized in just a few short months. Implementing the same strategies in Venezuela as they have done in Cuba, the Castro dictatorship has driven the health care system in that country into the ground. Unfortunately for them, they have no “embargo” to blame for this destruction. And another unfortunate situation for Cuba’s Castro dictatorship and their sycophants brought about by this development is that it once again proves that the atrocious health care system in Cuba (and now in Venezuela) has nothing to do with “embargoes.” Instead, it has everything to do with corruption and mismanagement at the hands of the criminal and totalitarian Castro regime.
Read the horrifying report here.