Archive for the ‘Cuba’ Category

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 a
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



Cuba: Raul gets richer

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

The Communist elite will profit; the Cuban people will remain oppressed.

(Emphasis added)

Mary O’Grady asks, Who Benefits if the Embargo Is Lifted?

President Obama appeared to be trying to prove his own revolutionary bona fides when he announced on Wednesday new diplomatic relations with the military dictatorship and plans to make it easier for Americans to travel to the island and engage in commerce with Cubans. He repeatedly linked the isolation of the Cuban people to U.S. policy, as the regime teaches Cuban children to do. He complained that the embargo strives to keep “Cuba closed off from an interconnected world.” In a reference to the limited access that Cubans have to telecommunications, he said “our sanctions on Cuba have denied Cubans access to technology that has empowered individuals around the globe.”

Even the humblest Cuban peasant would split his sides laughing if he heard those statements, which none did because they do not have access to anything other than Cuban state television—speaking of isolation. Cubans know that the island is not isolated from foreigners. According to Cuban statistics in 2013 there were 2.85 million visitors to the island of 11 million inhabitants. These included European, Chinese, Latin American, Canadian and American tourists and investors. In the first six months of this year, according to The Havana Consulting Group, there were 327,000 visitors to Cuba from the U.S.

The isolation (news flash Rand Paul) is caused by the police state, which controls and surveils foreigners’ movements, herding most visitors into resort enclaves. Foreign journalists who vocally oppose the Communist Party line are not allowed into the country.

More visitors won’t do anything to reduce Cuban poverty. The regime pockets the hard currency that they leave behind and pays workers in worthless pesos. Foreigners who decide to reward good workers without state approval can face prison.

It’s true that the Cuban people lack access to technology, but Mr. Obama’s suggestion that it is because of the embargo is a howler. Carlos Slim , the Mexican telecom monopolist and global player; Telefónica , the Spanish broadband and telecommunications provider; Vietnam’s Natcom; Ireland’s Digicel and countless other companies can do business on the island. But they can’t provide Internet access in homes because the state prohibits it.

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.

Jackson Diehl:

The economic benefits of engagement are minor, while the possibility that continued sanctions could be used to engineer regime change — or at least meaningful political concessions — is far greater.

At this point, the best the Cuban people could hope for is the Viet Nam outcome.

Cuba: Q & A

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Question:
As Obama makes history over Cuba, will the Castros be the real winners?

Answer:
From Raul Castro, “We won the war.”

Bonus,
Little known fact:

During the administration of Gerald Ford, a remarkable two-year diplomatic initiative was undertaken by secretary of state Henry Kissinger and his assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, William P Rogers, to normalise relations with Cuba. Had the talks succeeded, the US embargo would have been eliminated, with diplomatic relations between the two countries fully restored as early as 1976. If nothing else, Kissinger wanted to add the notch of Cuba to his diplomatic belt. After China, Kissinger assumed Cuba would be a cakewalk. “Little did we know,” sighed the late Rogers when I interviewed him.

But the potentially historic talks sputtered in December 1975 when Castro decided to intervene in the Angolan civil war. To their everlasting shock, the US team came to the inescapable conclusion that Castro was ready to sacrifice a rapprochement with his most important neighbour to pursue a bizarre military adventure halfway across the globe.

From that arm of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy . . . The Guardian.

UPDATE
Linked to by The Devil’s Excrement. Thank you!

Cuba: US law and dissidents’ objectives

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

“Smart democracy”!

Sending a 37-yr old speech writer to do the negotiating (talk about a jayvee team!) in secrecy gets you a free hostage in exchange for throwing away the demands of Cuba’s citizens who dare to speak out, and U.S. law:

Rosa María Payá Acevedo, member of the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement, writing in the WaPo,

For 55 years, the only free, legal and popular demand from Cubans has been a call for a referendum on self-government, the Varela Project. We want changes in the law that will guarantee freedom of expression and association, the release of political prisoners, the right to own private enterprises, and free and plural elections.

You asked in your historic speech : How can we uphold that commitment, the commitment to freedom?

I take you at your word, Mr. President. The answer to you and to all the world’s democratic governments is: Support the implementation of a plebiscite for free and pluralistic elections in Cuba; and support citizen participation in the democratic process, the only thing that will guarantee the end of totalitarianism in Cuba.

Andrew McCarthy, on U.S. law,

Several laws control the embargo. Among the most recent is the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act (codified in Chapter 69 of Title 22, U.S. Code). Section 6005 of the law outlines sanctions imposed against Cuba – the qualified blockade, prohibition on some financial transactions, and limitation on remittances.

But then there is Section 6007, the waiver provision. This tells us that, while it is true that it would require an act of Congress to repeal the restrictions on Cuba, no legislation is necessary to ignore the restrictions. The act empowers the president to do that on his own. All he needs to do is represent to Congress that the Cuban government

(1) has held free and fair elections conducted under internationally recognized observers;

(2) has permitted opposition parties ample time to organize and campaign for such elections, and has permitted full access to the media to all candidates in the elections;

(3) is showing respect for the basic civil liberties and human rights of the citizens of Cuba;

(4) is moving toward establishing a free market economic system; and

(5) has committed itself to constitutional change that would ensure regular free and fair elections that meet the requirements of paragraph (2).

Similarly, Section 6006 enables the president to provide humanitarian aid (food, medicine, and medical supplies) to Cuba … provided he represents to Congress that the Cuban government

(1) has made a public commitment to hold free and fair elections for a new government within 6 months and is proceeding to implement that decision;

(2) has made a public commitment to respect, and is respecting, internationally recognized human rights and basic democratic freedoms; and

(3) is not providing weapons or funds to any group, in any other country, that seeks the violent overthrow of the government of that country.

In other words, it has been American policy for decades – the policy Obama says does not “work” – that the United States may and should provide significant aid as long as Cuba, in return, stops terrorizing its citizens, respects basic human and civil rights, respects democratic freedoms, refrains from arming terrorists and insurrectionists, liberalizes its economy, establishes a free press, and lays the groundwork for free and fair elections.

McCarthy goes on to ask,

So, if that hasn’t “worked” to encourage Cuban reform, what is the president suggesting will “work”? Giving Cuba aid and legitimacy without requiring the regime to change? Why would we want to give an American taxpayer dime to, or help legitimize in any way, a regime that rejects these basic elements of a civilized society?

But no matter. The attitude is, “Let’s try something different. As for the Castros, they’ll be gone in a few years. In the long run, who cares what they do?” (I’m quoting from a blog that doesn’t need my links).

“What difference, at this point, does it make?”



Cuba: Whose “outdated Cold War perspective”?

Friday, December 19th, 2014

“Cold War perspective”? Hell yeah.

Outdated? You decide.

Read my article at Da Tech Guy Blog.

Cuba: What is the regime going to do?

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Well, we all heard Obama’s speech yesterday. Some of us also listened to Raul Castro’s speech, which took place at the same time as Obama’s.

It was a study in contrasts.

As The Diplomad puts it (emphasis added),

It [Obama’s speech] was a clever speech designed for people who don’t know the full history of Cuba since 1959 or the nature of US-Cuban relations. The speech gave away the leftist bias of its drafters with the nonsense equating “colonialism” and “Communism.” What colonialism was Castro Communism fighting? Cuba had been independent for sixty years when they took over, and one of their first acts was to turn the country into a colony of the Soviets. Communism and colonialism went hand-in-hand, no opposition, no clash. Obama’s speech sought “balance” by blaming both Cuba and the US for the state of relations. Nonsense. The Castros were and are murdering thugs who have never hesitated to kill anybody in their way whether at home or abroad. Castroite firing squads were operating at full speed even during the honeymoon period with the USA, when the NY Times was writing fawning pieces about Fidel Castro.

My first thought on hearing Obama talk about the need to get past colonialism and Communism was that he was channeling his father’s anti-British obsessions. Cuba as Kenya. Much like Obama’s immigration speech, it is not at all clear what we are getting. Alan Gross, who should never have been detained has been released as has a long-imprisioned intel asset. In exchange we freed the Cuban agents who helped set up the murder of American citizens. There is a further loosening of currency and travel restrictions. The speech, of course, will upend years of established American positions and lead, for example, to the entry of Cuba into the OAS without meeting any of the requirements laboriously worked out, e.g., a functioning democracy with full respect for human rights.

Raul Castro’s speech was very short and to the point. None of the flowery phrases that his older brother would have used. Very business-like. No discussions of colonialism and Communism, and no promises to do anything in particular except to keep talking to the US.

My friend Jazz Shaw mentions my objections to easing up on Cuba, countering with,

I could take the above paragraph and substitute the word China for Cuba and it would remain precisely as true. The major differences between the two are that China is vastly more powerful, more dangerous and more influential. Their human rights record is, if anything, worse than Cuba’s. They can threaten the entire globe with a single move, where the Castros are generally limited to smaller evils and mischief in South America. And yet somehow we have established relations with China. This doesn’t excuse either country for their evil, but only serves to point out some of the harsh realities of foreign policy in the modern era.

But comparisons with China policy fall short on a vital aspect:
I have friends who have operated profitable businesses in China in the past 20 years. Their corporations paid their Chinese employees directly. However, anyone employing Cuban citizens does not pay the employee; they pay the Cuban government a stipulated (by the government) amount per person. The communist regime then pays the employee an amount no higher than the maximum salary (yes, Cuba has maximum salary laws), which is approximately 10% of the amount the communist regime received from the business.

That is the case with any of the hundreds of multinationals that have done business with Cuba in the country, and with the thousands of “doctors” Cuba sends to places like Venezuela and Brazil.

Cuba has defaulted on its obligations to multinationals time and time again.

Additionally, foreign businessmen who have tried to collect monies due by Cuba have been thrown in jail, most recently Alejandro Abood, Cy Tokmakjian, Krikor Bayassalian, Nessin Abadi, Sarkis Yacoubian, and Stephen Purvis.

N-O-T-H-I-N-G, not a thing the USA does is going to change that.

However, 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.

As I said yesterday, Obama is trying to cement his legacy. Human rights (and true democracy) be damned.

As an added bonus, OBAMA’S MOVE TO STRENGTHEN CUBA WILL ALSO HELP RUSSIA, IRAN, NORTH KOREA AND VENEZUELA by

providing them with a more economically robust trading partner, a better source of illicit arms, and, most important, naval bases and intelligence outposts just miles from our shores.

What could possibly go wrong?

[Post redacted to include missing paragraphs]

LINKED to by
Memeorandum.
Neoneocon. Thank you!
Doug Ross. Thank you!

UPDATE

UPDATE, Saturday, December 20
Noah Rothman explains the context of China and Viet Nam “normalization.”

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

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Alan Gross, the American political prisoner held by the Communist Cuban regime for five years, has been released.

As I have written before,

In December 2009, Alan P. Gross was arrested while in Cuba working as a U.S. government subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for bringing satellite phones and computer equipment to members of Cuba’s small Jewish community. He was held in jail, and, in March, 2011 was convicted for “acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state”.

What does “acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state” means? It means that, in Cuba, attempting to provide access to the internet is a crime.

American Alan Gross Released From Cuba After 5 Years in Prison
Gross Is Headed to U.S. on Government Plane, Obama Administration Official Says

Administration officials have said that his captivity has precluded any modification in U.S.-Cuban relations, so his release could clear the way for discussions about a broader deal. President Barack Obama is expected to make a statement about Cuba from the White House at noon on Wednesday.

I fully expect Obama to declare an end to the embargo before year’s end. Will that be his “statement about Cuba from the White House at noon”?

UPDATE 10AM:
The remaining three of the Cuban Five were released in exchange: The Miami Herald (emphasis added),

The Cuban government had linked Gross’s release to the imprisonment of five Cubans convicted in 2001 of infiltrating South Florida military installations and spying on the exile community. The men, considered heroes in Cuba, were convicted in 2001 in Miami on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents in the U.S.

The administration had repeatedly ruled out a swap, saying the USAID subcontractor wasn’t a spy and can’t be part of a spy-for-spy swap. But news reports Wednesday indicate that three Cubans were released in exchange for Gross. The other two of the so-called Cuban Five were previously released after completing their sentences.

Val Prieto:

This is a major setback for the opposition and dissident movements in Cuba. The Obama administration, by making this “deal”, has confirmed that they are OK with the repression, brutality, incarceration, and murder the castro regime foists upon the opposition. And I will once again say what I have been saying since day one of this farce of a presidential administration, for the record: faced with the fact that he is, by far, the worst President this nation has ever seen, and with no true positive legacy, Obama is relying on the low hanging fruit of the Cuban embargo to placate the left. Look for President Executive Action to undermine codified US Cuba policy.

Get ready. This is going to be one hell of a day.

Read also my post at Da Tech Guy Blog.

UPDATE 11AM:
“Normalizing” U.S.-Cuba relations means giving the Communist Cuban government a lifeline, at a particularly critical time, now that its sugar daddy Venezuela nears economic collapse as oil prices drop. Marco Rubio:

“This is going to do absolutely nothing to further human rights and democracy in Cuba,” Rubio said in an interview. “But it potentially goes a long way in providing the economic lift that the Castro regime needs to become permanent fixtures in Cuba for generations to come.”

UPDATE 11:19

Guardian Washington bureau chief Dan Roberts,

UPDATE 11:25AM
CBS News affiliate in Miami stated Gross will not be with Obama at the WH press conference.

UPDATE 11:30
Betrayal: Vatican Brokered Secret U.S.-Cuba Talks

Pope Francis and the Vatican played a significant role in reopening diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S. The Vatican not only hosted in-person meetings between Cuban and U.S. officials, but actively played a role in the discussions, according to senior Obama administration officials. The meeting to finalize the reopening of relations was also held at the Vatican this past fall. The Vatican sent a personal letter to President Obama regarding Cuban relations. “We haven’t received communications from the Pope of this nature,” said a senior adminstration official. “That gave us greater impetus and momentum.”

Rep. Ron de Santis:

This prisoner swap sends a signal to rogue regimes and actors that taking an American hostage can be leveraged into scoring policy concessions. This makes America less safe and emboldens the dictatorship in Cuba.

UPDATE 11:53
The United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana

In a deal negotiated during 18 months of secret talks hosted largely by Canada and encouraged by Pope Francis, who hosted a final meeting at the Vatican, President Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba agreed in a telephone call to put aside decades of hostility to find a new relationship between the United States and the island nation just 90 minutes off the American coast.

Congress need not be consulted?

UPDATE 11:59AM
Is Cuba easing its embargo on American products and American travel?

12 noon:

Cuba no longer listed as state sponsor of terrorism.

UPDATE 12:16
Obama claims “Todos somos Americanos” – “we’re all Americans”. Not at all.

UPDATE 12:30PM
I was wondering, is Cuba easing Cuba’s embargo on American products and American travel? Will they not continue to shelter FARC & other known terrorists? Nothing on that in O’s speech.

Not in Raul Castro’s speech, either,

Castro said that he had spoken to Secretary Kerry about normalizing relations between the two country, adding that President Obama’s decision deserved “respect and gratitude.” He also thanked the Vatican, Pope Francis and Canada for their support in the process.

But he stressed there was still much work to be done: the US economic blockade remains in place, he said, causing “enormous damage to our people. It must end.”

Acknowledging that the blockade is established in law, Castro said that president Obama could modify its application, and he called on the US government to adopt measures which will benefit both countries.

“Recognizing that we have many fundamental differences on the subjects of national soveignty, democracy, human rights and foreign policy, we reaffirm our willingness discuss all of these subjects.”

Castro called on the US government to remove the obstacles between the countries, dividing families – specifically he called for the re-establishment of direct flights, postal deliveries and telecommunications.

“The progress we have already made shows that it is possible to find solutions to our problems,” he said.

Another question:
How is Obama going to prevent Cuba’s possible role in bypassing sanctions on Venezuela, Russia and Iran?

UPDATE 2PM
Alan Gross on TV thanking all who helped in the effort to release him.

CODA:
As Val Prieto put it, “and from the here’s a swift kick in the nuts department….”

Alan Gross returns to the United States, is greeted by an image of Che Guevara

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by
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The criminal #Greenpeace Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Before Greenpeace:

After Greenpeace:

It’s time to put the Greenpeace vandals out of business

ARGENTINA
Why Argentina Must Learn the Virtues of Economic Orthodoxy
Ignore Basic Economic Lessons, Bring on More Crises

BOLIVIA
Bolivia’s YPFB Hit by Corruption, Sexual-Harassment Scandal

BRAZIL
Survivors Recall Genocide of Amazon Tribe in Brazil, the Waimiri-Atroari.

Brazil killer alleges 42 victims
Brazilian police arrest a man who says he killed 42 people in the last decade, which would make him one of the country’s most prolific serial killers

CHILE
Chile Not Facing an Economic Crisis, Bachelet Says

Construction in Chile of world’s largest telescope approved

COLOMBIA
Colombian Government, Rebels Resume Peace Talks

COSTA RICA
Take a Ride on Costa Rica’s Fiscal Train Wreck
Executive Ignores Credit Risk, Overrules Congress for 19 Percent Spending Increase

CUBA
Cuban Regime Arrests Over 100 Activists on Human Rights Day
Police Target Dissident Ladies in White, Independent Journalists

‘Al Capone’ Justice for Fidel Castro

The AP’s Latest Attack: On Cuba’s Independent Rappers

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Abortion stalls Dominican Republic Penal Code vote

ECUADOR
Ecuador Moves to Block Disclosure of U.S. Propaganda Activities
Government attempts to prevent court discovery of documents at its U.S.-based PR firm

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador President to Cuba for Checkup after Falling Ill in Mexico, since that worked so well for Hugo Chávez.

GUATEMALA
Guatemala: Breaking the silence
How do a country and its people come to terms with the atrocities committed during a decades-long, bloody civil war? Dialogue is key here, and that’s a focus of DW Akademie projects in Guatemala.

HAITI
Haitian President May Drop His Premier
To end an impasse and allow for elections, President Michel Martelly said that he would accept the recommendations of a commission that has called for the prime minister to resign.

IMMIGRATION
Adding Insult to Injury: Obama Paying for Illegal Amnesty with Fees Paid by Legal Immigrants

Sheriffs: Obama’s Amnesty Creates ‘Insurgence of Heroin,’ ‘Saloon-Door’ Border Mentality

JAMAICA
Jamaica Approached To Sell PetroCaribe Debt

LATIN AMERICA
Neocolonialism update: Iran expanding its presence in Latrine America

MEXICO
Mexico minister denies home scandal
Mexico’s finance minister defends his purchase of a luxury home, amid reports he bought it from a firm whose parent company won public contracts.

PANAMA
Panama: Cuba to Attend First-ever Americas Summit

PERU
Frantic efforts to save Lima climate change talks
Main talks suspended as delegates from 190 countries admit there is ‘no consensus’, while frantic efforts have begun to reach some token agreement, but few are optimistic of a quick resolution, if any

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico tops list of 25 best Caribbean islands list

URUGUAY
Former Guantanamo Prisoners Leave Hospital in Uruguay

VENEZUELA
The Precise Instant Everything Went to Hell

The Phantom of Miraflores

UK: Journalist’s flat burgled, family threatened

VenEconomy: Drug Trafficking – The Other Pest of the Venezuelan Revolution

Mother of slain beauty queen seeks asylum in the US
María Eugenia Tovar, mother of beauty queen Génesis Carmona, killed during an anti-government protest in February, would not explain the reasons for her decision

US Congress passes sanctions against Venezuelan human rights abusers

The week’s posts:
White privilege, indeed

Mexico: Gulf Cartel run from Texas

Venezuela: Default by September 2015?

Peru: Greenpeace vandalism

Colombia: FARC using al-Qaeda for European drug trade

Uruguay: Gitmo alumni go free

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
U.S. releases 6 al-Qaeda detainees to Uruguay

Time to put Greenpeace vandals out of business



The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 8th, 2014

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Argentina Fines Facebook for Defying Censorship Order
Social-Media Company Permits “Defamatory” Groups, Faces US$77,000 Rebuke

Prosecutor in Argentina Will Look into Hidden Swiss Bank Accounts

BARBADOS
Barbados PM to Visit Cuba

BOLIVIA
Bolivian Authorities Seize Huge Load of Contraband Fuel Bound for Chile

BRAZIL
Corruption Curses Mexico and Brazil

COLOMBIA
Pablo Escobar’s sister trying to pay for the sins of her brother
The sister of the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, Luz Maria Escobar sits by her brother’s tomb
Luz Maria Escobar, the sister of Colombian cartel boss Pablo Escobar, has told how she is trying to make amends for her murderous brother

CUBA
Political Arrests Have Quadrupled in Cuba

GUATEMALA
Guatemalan Populism Meets Its Match in Gloria Álvarez
Education Can Restore Republicanism in Latin America

HAITI
Haiti hit by anti-government clashes
Thousands of anti-government protesters clash with police in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, calling for overdue elections to be held.

IMMIGRATION
Watch: Gowdy’s brutal cross-examination tears apart immigration activist’s ‘racism’ argument

MEXICO
Mexico’s president
Business backlash

Mexico City Police Chief Says He Is Stepping Down

These graphics will show you why Mexicans are saying they’ve had enough
The 43 missing students have come to represent the more than 22,000 people who have disappeared since 2006

NICARAGUA
China’s Nicaragua Canal Could Spark a New Central America Revolution
Many critics thought construction of a canal across Nicaragua never would begin. Now that it’s about to, they ask how it will end—and some are asking for guns to stop it.
Er, it’s not the Chinese government, it’s Wang Jing and his Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. (HKND) – big difference.

PANAMA
Panama Invites Cuba to Summit of the Americas

PUERTO RICO
Opinion: Koch brothers eye Puerto Rico

URUGUAY
Uruguay to take Guantanamo prisonersPresident Jose Mujica 4 December 2014
Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica says his country is set to resettle six prisoners from Guantanamo Bay on humanitarian grounds.

VENEZUELA
Cash-Strapped Chavistas Bankroll Million-Dollar Music Festival
Opposition Blasts ‘Caracas Sound’ as Wasteful Government Spending

The week’s posts and podcast:
Colombia: Peace at all costs?

Venezuela: The oil teat runs dry

Saturday night tango: Matteo & Patricia

Puerto Rico: In search of roast pork

Venezuela: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend?

Cuba: Londoño meets with dissidents

Venezuela: Maria Corina charged; falling oil prices

En español: Unidad de quemados

Venezuela: Oil break-even price?

Colombia: Gen. Alzate resigns UPDATED

Kevin Williamson on Russell Brand’s Che fixation

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Venezuela and the falling oil price

Russia aims at Latin America

Podcast:
Talking about art with artist Adrian Plasencia in Silvio Canto’s podcast