Archive for the ‘Cuba’ Category

Cuba: Hillary’s ignorance

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

Ignorance, or willful blindness? She was Secretary of State, after all.

Hillary was at Florida International University last Friday doing a full flop, and called for an end to the so-called embargo because Cubans “want to read our books, surf our Web, and learn from our people. They want to bring their country into the 21st century.”

Mary O’Grady says Clinton Needs to Read Up on the Castros
The embargo does not block the sale of books to Cuba, or isolate its economy from the world.

. . . when Mrs. Clinton said on Friday that “we must decide between engagement and embargo, between embracing fresh thinking and returning to Cold War deadlock,” she was applying the same reasoning the Obama administration uses to argue that the U.S. needs to either accept the nuclear deal with Iran or go to war. This is a false dichotomy that doesn’t hold for Cuba policy any more than it holds for dealing with Tehran.
. . .
The embargo does not block the export of books to Cuba because informational material is exempt. Cubans cannot read “our” books because Cuba controls the reading material that enters the country and imprisons for “dangerousness” anyone caught with nonapproved texts.

There is no such thing as “our Web,” and the U.S. embargo does not restrict Cubans’ access to the Internet. Most Cubans cannot get computers. Most of those who do have them are denied access to the World Wide Web. It’s only the party faithful who get approval.

As to learning from “our people,” Cuba tightly controls interaction with foreigners, and those who step out of line can go to jail. Try getting a visa from Cuba if you have been labeled a “counterrevolutionary,” as I have. These policies are expressly designed to block Cubans from communicating with each other and with outsiders to keep them from organizing politically or socially.

The unconditional end of the embargo will do nothing to change this. On the contrary, it may strengthen the dictator’s hand if it results in fresh capital flowing to the island.

Which it will.

While Hillary gave her by-invitation-only speech, Police prohibit students from protesting outside Hillary Clinton’s pro-Castro Cuba speech at Miami’s FIU, borrowing a page from the Castros.

The dog days of summer Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Yes. It’s summer in the northern hemisphere. Deal with it.

ARGENTINA
Audio slideshow: The Welsh in Patagonia, 150 years on

‘Judicial officials sought to delay AMIA cover-up trial’Luciano Hazan is the Justice Ministry’s under-secretary for Criminal Policy and will be representing the Executive in the AMIA cover-up trial. In conversation with the Herald, Hazan pointed fingers at the judges for their reluctance to investigate their colleague’s alleged implication in crimes.

Los presos ahora ganan 46% más que un jubilado

BOLIVIA
Bolivia Ready to Renew Ties with Chile to Resolve Maritime Claim, at least until the next time.

BRAZIL
Good luck with that: Rio’s favelas to accommodate visitors to 2016 Olympics

CHILE
Chile’s Pinochet covered up report on death of U.S. student, documents say

COLOMBIA
Colombia’s Ecopetrol to Export 1st-Ever Cargo of Crude to Japan in August

El Monótono Dialogo De Paz En Colombia, ¿Qué Intenciones Tiene?

Colombia’s biggest ever exhumation begins at Medellin rubbish dumpOfficials believe the remains of 300 people could be unearted from La Escombrera (The Dump) as the city begins the long-awaited exhumation

CUBA
Senators probe political motivations for trafficking report
Corker, Cardin question whether the State Department was motivated by politics to upgrade Cuba and Malaysia in annual report on human trafficking.

Cuba Emerges as Paradise for Gay Tourism

The U.S. now has an embassy in Cuba. But relations are hardly normal.With U.S. Embassy open in Havana, American diplomats face a changing mission.

Secretive White House meeting reveals Obama’s plan to visit Cuba in 2016

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Cabarete: Dominican Resort Is a Refuge Twice AbandonedHaitians, who had brought new life to an abandoned seaside hotel, face ejection under new laws and conflict with their island neighbors.

ECUADOR
Scraping the barrel
Will Ecuador turn into Latin America’s Greece?

Ecuador’s “Liberation Front” Attacks Newspapers with Homemade BombsSelf-Proclaimed Revolutionaries Debut with Guerrilla Marketing in Guayaquil

EL SALVADOR
Salvadoran Government Deploys Armored Cars to Support Police against Gangs

GUATEMALA
We need to talk about GuatemalaGuatemala has been described as the worst place in the world to be a child.

JAMAICA
Was the PetroCaribe buyback a good deal for Jamaica?

LATIN AMERICA
Latinoamérica, ¿Para Qué Utilizan Los Gobiernos Socialistas La Ley?

‘Progress’ but no deal at TPP talks
Negotiators from 12 Pacific nations have finished a week of talks without agreement on a regional trade deal.

MEXICO
Annals of ExcavationUnderworldHow the Sinaloa drug cartel digs its tunnels.

‘FEMINICIDE,’ MEXICO ISSUES ALERT FOR SPIKE IN VIOLENT CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN

A Transformation in Mexican Migration to the United States, Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire – 27 July 2015 (H/T Mexidata)

PANAMA
Supreme Court ruling allows work to resume on Panama’s 29-MW Barro Blanco hydropower project

Watch: Panama Canal July Update (h/t JC),

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico to miss debt payment, signalling default

URUGUAY
Here’s why a historic meat packing plant in Uruguay was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site

VENEZUELA
Ciudad Guayana: Venezuela supermarket looting leaves one dead, dozens detained

Caracazo en Gotas: San Felix Edition

Mega-Gangs the New Plague in VenezuelaOrganized Crime Takes Root in Neglected Slums

Meanwhile, back in Caracastan: Maduro steals foreign-owned property

Venezuela Runs Out of Birth Control

Maduro takes over brewers complex as Venezuela runs out of beer because of lack of barley

The week’s posts and podcast:
Chile: Eat your rock before it gets cold

Brazil: How to make coxinhas

Argentina: Cristina tweets Iran

Answers: Where can women go, instead of Planned Parenthood?

Peru: Shining Path’s shameful prisoner camps

En español: @OLPL visita Bayly

New Jersey: It’s the taxes, stupid.

Why dress up?

Blogging shall resume shortly

Argentina: Tokyo Rose does the Falklands?

Venezuela: Leopoldo Lopez still in jail, FP fails

As expected: WH finishing up latest plan for closing Guantánamo

PODCAST
A word about Che merchandise plus US-Latin America this week



En español: @OLPL visita Bayly

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

El escritor Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, anoche, en el show de Jaime Bayly,

Interesantísima entrevista.

OLPL va a presentar su libro Boring Home este domingo a las 2PM en George Gallery, 815 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables. La nota editorial del libro en Amazon dice,

Este libro resultó ganador del Premio “Novela de Gaveta Franz Kafka” en Praga, en 2009, y suscitó no pocas desazones al autor en su patria, Cuba, donde fue prohibido y su circulación clandestina fue perseguida. Un libro que le valió la expulsión de los sellos estatales y su condena por pertenecer al movimiento blogger cubano. Boring Home no solo es un libro de cuentos. Posee una cara aspiración: la de convertirse en un artefacto al que le damos cuerda con nuestras lecturas activando sucesivos repertorios mentales. El bioquímico que persiste en el alma libertaria de Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo transmutó sus disquisiciones alquímicas en este libro-sustancia devenido base reactiva de nuestros imaginarios. Pardo Lazo abreva en las fuentes clásicas de la tradición isleña con un don experimental, propio de su carácter autodidacta. Los cuentos Boring Home parten desde el diálogo formal a la farsa, pasan por la distopía y se encierran, en algunas piezas, en la más provocadora ciencia ficción que no deja respiro.

As expected: WH finishing up latest plan for closing Guantánamo

Monday, July 27th, 2015

All part of the plan:

A White House spokesman says the administration is in the “final stages” of drafting its latest plan to close the prison holding terrorism detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
. . .
Press secretary Josh Earnest says closing Guantánamo remains a priority. Earnest said Wednesday it’s a waste to spend more than $100 million per year on a prison holding only 116 detainees.

Earnest ignores any importance of Guantánamo base as a strategic asset.

I stand by my prediction: Obama will gift Guantánamo base to the Castros before his term is over.

The Indoctrinator Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Today’s Carnival is dedicated to cartoonist Luciano Cunha, creator of The Indoctrinator.

ARGENTINA
Pathetic: Now Argentina accuses Falkland Islands fishermen of stealing their FISHA SENIOR Falkland Islands diplomat has hit back at claims by an Argentine minister that the wealth of the remote archipelago derives from “stolen” fish.

PRO’s Macri says government seeking to ‘demonize’ him

BOLIVIA
Bolivia Frees 47 of 51 Arrested after Violent Protests

BRAZIL
Brazilian politics
The power behind the throne
A junior partner in government is running the country

It is the person, not the party, that is abandoning the coalition, the PMDB was quick to declare. Still, Mr [Eduardo] Cunha’s exit is a worry for the president. Last week came news that police are investigating her predecessor and political mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, for possible influence-peddling on behalf of construction firms. He denies the allegation. That is a further blow to the battered PT. Ms Rousseff needs the PMDB more than ever if she is to survive until the end of her term in 2018. Increasingly, it is running the show.

An oil scandal is shaking Brazil’s democracy to its core

New plant species ‘discovered on Facebook’
Experts identified a plant pictured on Facebook as a new species, since named as “drosera magnifica“, or magnificent sundew, according journal research paper
. Someone tell Pope Francis.

CHILE
Chile charges over burning students
A Chilean judge charges seven former soldiers over the burning of two students during a 1986 protest against Gen Augusto Pinochet’s government.

COLOMBIA
Colombians Outraged by Gang Rape of Bus Driver

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica: Examples of How to be Like Greece (h/t JC)

CUBA
Evidence Mounts That Oswaldo Payá Was Assassinated by the Castros
Human Rights Foundation Documents Cuban Agents at Work on Tragic Day
; Victims of Communism organization follows up on Ted Cruz’s address change proposal

Inside the offices of Granma, Cuba’s government newspaper

There’s a sucker born every minute: Cuba Hoping To Kickstart Offshore Oil & Gas Industry

Springtime for America’s EnemiesDangerous and short-sighted U.S. diplomacy has empowered no one except state sponsors of terrorism and fascistic regimes.

ECUADOR
Rafael Correa recibe la asesoría de la chavista Eva Golinger
La «novia de Venezuela», como la llamó Chávez, se ha ocupado en «desacreditar» a quienes critican al presidente de Ecuador

GUATEMALA
Fired for Daring to Prosecute Extortion in Rural Guatemala
Georgetown University’s False Heroine: Part III

HAITI
A Glimpse Of An Everyday Struggle Among Haiti’s Health Care Workers

JAMAICA
Pennies on the dollar: Jamaica to retire $3B in oil debt to Venezuela

Jamaica has forged a deal to retire $3 billion in oil debts to Venezuela thanks to bond sales.

In a Friday statement, Jamaica said it has issued roughly $2 billion in bonds on the international capital market that will pay down the debt it accumulated through Petrocaribe, a Venezuelan program that provides fuel to countries at market prices but under generous credit terms.

Officials say a negotiated settlement with Caracas will dismiss about $3 billion in long-term debt in exchange for $1.5 billion. It was not immediately clear Friday if Jamaica’s deal will retire all of its Petrocaribe debt.
. . .
Jamaica’s Petrocaribe settlement is similar to one the Dominican Republic negotiated with Venezuela earlier this year. That Caribbean country dismissed $4 billion in Petrocaribe debt in exchange for $2 billion.

MEXICO
Mexican judge jails three Joaquin Guzman prison guards

Filmmaker Ridley Scott to bring life of “El Chapo” to the big screen
British director purchases rights to Don Winslow’s bestseller ‘The Cartel’

Is there a rift between Mexico’s president and first lady?
Rumors fly after videos capture allegedly awkward moments between Enrique Peña Nieto and his wife, Angélica Rivera

PANAMA
Panama, Costa Rica join forces, demand corruption investigation of CONCACAF Gold Cup

PARAGUAY
US asks Paraguay to extradite Fifa official Nicolas Leoz

PERU
Police burn down illegal gold mine town in Peru
Action against La Pampa is latest blow in war against illegal mining that is destroying rainforest and spreading mercury poisoning


First pictures of last-uncontacted Amazon tribe
Mashco Piro tribe have lived in the jungle in Peru for at least 600 years, but have never before been approached

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico debt crisis: austerity for residents, but tax breaks for hedge funds
The Caribbean territory has courted some of Wall Street’s richest citizens, selling its debt and offering inducements while local people face high taxes and cuts

URUGUAY
Uruguay says more Syrian refugees welcome

VENEZUELA
Mega-Gangs the New Plague in Venezuela
Organized Crime Takes Root in Neglected Slums

Venezuela Bars Foreign Lawmakers’ Visit to Jailed Opposition Leader

Memo To Venezuela: The Soviets Nationalized Food Distribution And Guess What? It Didn’t Work

Mother of all battles in scarcity-hit Venezuela: having a baby

The last available health ministry figures for infant mortality under 1 show an increase of 2.35 percent from January to October last year compared with the same period of 2013.

The week’s posts and podcast:
Madrid’s City Hall and the man on the Moon: Tales from a socialist mindset

Puerto Rico: The bets are on

Argentina: #Nisman’s killer washed his hands in the sink

Venezuela: A lesson we can’t forget

Brazil: Meet The Indoctrinator

Mexico: El Chapo’s buddies tunneled out, too UPDATED

Planned Parenthood and the evil of our times

Argentina: Judge in Cristina’s hotel case, “If I turn up suicided, look for the killer”

LatAm currencies slide

Colombia: Today’s infographic

Cuba: “Mojito diplomacy”

Cuban embassy now open in DC



Cuba: “Mojito diplomacy”

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

What’s your poison?

Just what we needed:
‘Mojito diplomacy’ as Cuba reboots US relations in reopened embassy

Guests toast inauguration of island’s new Washington mission inside its ‘Hemingway’ bar

Just like Hemingway’s favorite Havana hangout, a small but attractive bar had been set up nearly four years ago in one of the rooms at the Cuban embassy to liven up breaks between the many closed-door meetings held with political scientists and activists there.

Is “political scientists and activists” the current euphemism for operatives of the Communist regime?

But back to mojitos, here are the ingredients:

Depending on who you believe, the mojito either came from the Spanish word ‘mojar’, which means to wet, or the African word ‘mojo’, which means to cast a spell. Anybody who’s ever tasted one will agree that it’s thirst quenching and spellbinding in equal measures.
INGREDIENT
2 parts BACARDÍ Superior rum
4 lime wedges
12 fresh mint leaves
2 heaped tsp of caster sugar
1 part soda water/club soda
Sprig of fresh mint to garnish
METHOD
Gently press together the limes & sugar. Bruise the mint leaves by clapping them between your palms, rub them on the rim of the glass and drop them in. Next, half fill the glass with crushed ice, add the BACARDÍ Superior rum & stir. Top up with crushed ice, a splash of soda and a sprig of mint.

To recap: the new “mojito diplomacy” is all wet, cast under the spell of Communism, aims to stupefy, and is served in a room named after a drunk misanthrope who blew his brains out.

It taxes the brain to think of one good thing about the current embassy openings.

Dissidents in the island-prison could not be reached for comment.

Related:
At Stratfor, Why the U.S. Should Be Wary of Cuba (registration required)

UPDATED
Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!

Cuban embassy now open in DC

Monday, July 20th, 2015

After 54 years, Cuba reopens embassy in Washington on Monday

Over at State, it’s between Croatia and Cyprus.

But As Embassies Open, a Further Thaw in Cuban-U. S. ties Faces Hurdles in CongressObama administration has made little progress in swaying lawmakers to lift embargo

The new regulations took effect in January, but Congress will have to act to fully lift the trade and travel embargoes. Most U.S. companies are currently prohibited from doing business in Cuba and traveling there from the U.S. as a tourist remains illegal.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that the Obama administration hadn’t made progress in encouraging Congress to lift the embargo but that Mr. Obama could still take steps on his own that couldn’t be blocked by opponents in Congress.

Capitol Hill Cubans has a Statement on the Opening of U.S. and Cuban Embassies

Finally, it serves as a reminder of the coercive tactics that culminated in this process. As Gerardo Hernandez, the Cuban spy who was sentenced to life in prison by a U.S. federal court for the murder conspiracy of Americans, and thereafter commuted by President Obama as part of his deal for the release of an American hostage held by Raul Castro, boasted this weekend:

We are going to have diplomatic relations with the United States without having ceded one iota.”

Meanwhile, the United States has ceded plenty.

Re-establishing of U.S.-Cuba diplomatic ties has been no good for the Cuban people. Marc Masferrer has the specifics.

Bottom line? Nothing New under the Cuban SunEmbassies Paint Over Old, Tired Communism

Cuba: “What next” would mean

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

In yesterday’s post, Cuba: What next?, I posited,

I have been predicting for quite a while that the Obama administration’s next goal regarding its foreign policy on Latin America is to gift the Guantanamo naval base to the Castro’s communist regime.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) explains the consequences this will have for America:

Aside from further demonstrating weakness, relinquishing the base at GTMO would be a strategic misstep of epic proportions for the United States. It would have significant national security and military implications. GTMO is the oldest overseas U.S. naval base and only permanent U.S. defense base in the region. Its location enables U.S. forces to maintain full advantages across a wide spectrum of military operations. It plays a critical role in migrant operations assistance missions and is a logistics center for U.S. ships and aircraft, allowing these assets to maintain tactical advantages and freedom of movement in strategic waters in a region with limited U.S. military presence.

If Castro achieved control of GTMO, what would happen? The all-too-obvious answer is that it would allow him to extend an invitation to one of the close allies of Havana, such as the Putin regime in Moscow or the mullahs in Tehran. If any of the actors interested in taking over the lease of GTMO does move into the warm Cuban waters off Florida’s southern coast, this would provide a direct military threat to the U.S. homeland. Consider for a moment the depth of waters and potential ability for nuclear submarines to conduct intelligence operations or worse.

Two years ago, the Russian Defense Minister stated that Russia wants to build military bases in several countries in the Western hemisphere, including Cuba. Press reports of Russian intelligence ships operating in the waters around Cuba, most recently earlier this year on the eve of U.S. talks with Cuba in Havana, prove that Russia is deadly serious about making good on those intentions.

Duncan does not exaggerate; Last year Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated that Russia is planning to expand its permanent military presence outside its borders by placing military bases in a number of foreign countries:

the list includes Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, the Seychelles, Singapore and several other countries.

“The talks are under way, and we are close to signing the relevant documents,” Shoigu told reporters in Moscow.

The minister added that the negotiations cover not only military bases but also visits to ports in such countries on favorable conditions as well as the opening of refueling sites for Russian strategic bombers on patrol.

Duncan continues

Remember what Russia is doing in its own neighborhood for a moment. Vladimir Putin brazenly acted to annex the Crimean Peninsula, ignoring the international outrage, and Ukraine is worried about a “full-scale” Russian invasion. If the U.S. gave way on GTMO, Putin would likely welcome the opportunity to have warm-water lodging for his navy only 90 miles from the United States.

And let’s not forget Iran,

Similarly, Iran continues to test the patience of the international community with its nuclear operations and refusal to cooperate with international inspectors. If things go badly for Iran with any nuclear deal, having a deeper presence in Latin America through Cuba offers Iran options for retributive action should they want it.

Dr Ely Karmon, in his report Iran in Latin America: President Rouhani’s Era points out,

On April 30, 2014, the State Department issued its Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, which stated that “Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere remained a concern,” but that “due to strong sanctions imposed on the country by the United States and the European Union, Iran has been unable to expand its economic and political ties in Latin America.”[2]

Whether Iran gets what it wants on the nuclear deal (which it does) or not, by lifting sanctions, the U.S. has given Iran every incentive to continue its ongoing economic and political expansion into Latin America. You can expect that making a deal with the Castros on Gitmo is part of their plans.

Related:
1. The Deal Wasn’t About Iran’s Nukes

The administration readily caved on Iran’s nukes because it viewed the matter only as a timely pretense for achieving other cherished aims. These were: (1) preventing an Israeli attack on Iran; (2) transforming the United States into a more forgiving, less imposing power; (3) establishing diplomacy as a great American good in itself; (4) making Iran into a great regional power; and (5), ensuring the legacies of the president and secretary of state as men of vision and peace.

Items 2-5 will play well with that Gitmo gift.

2. Raul Castro calls for new Cuba-US relationship (emphasis added)

In a speech to the National Assembly, Mr Castro said that, for normal relations to resume, a US embargo on Cuba would have to be lifted.

He also called for the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay to be returned to Cuba.

The die is cast, now we just wait for it to roll.

Cuba: What next?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

A little speculation on what the Obama administration has in mind:
Cuba: What next?

Francis kept his souvenir Communist cross UPDATED

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Pope Francis took the Communist crucifix home (h/t 1P5, emphasis added),

I understand this piece and I did not find it offensive. I carry it with me. I left the decorative honours which President Morales gave me behind… I have never accepted such decorations but Morales acted in good faith, to please me, so I thought of it as coming from the people. I prayed it over and I thought I would leave them with Our Lady of Copacabana, so they go to the shrine. The wooden Christ I took with me.”

I had mistakenly reported that he had left the blasphemous item behind, along with the medals Evo Morales awarded him.

The Rev. Robert Gahl, a moral theologian at Rome’s Pontifical Holy Cross University in Rome is even talking of a “potential for dialogue and even synergy,” with Communism.


Raul Castro blindfolds a man he’s about to execute, signaling a “potential for dialogue and even synergy.”

Which brings me to the next headline:
Pope Francis Downplays Human Rights in Cuba, Reveals Obama Misled

Here is Pope Francis’ reply to the issue of human rights in Cuba:

Human rights are for everyone. And human rights are not respected not only in one or two countries. I would say that in many countries of the world human rights are not respected. Many countries in the world .. and what will Cuba lose or the U.S. lose? Both will gain something and lose something, because this happens in negotiations. Both will gain, this is sure: peace, meetings, friendship, collaboration. These they will gain … but what will they lose, I cannot imagine. They may be concrete things. But in negotiations one always [both] wins and loses. But returning to human rights, and religious freedom. Just think of the world. There are some countries and also some European countries where you cannot make a sign of religion, for different reasons, and on other continents the same. Yes. Religious liberty is not present in all the world, there are many place [sic] that do not have it.

At the same time, Francis says the Cuba negotiations were God’s work, and he didn’t mediate,

There was no mediation. It was the goodwill of the two countries, and the merit is theirs for doing this. We hardly did anything, just a few small things.

It’s enough to make the guys at Babalu beg for mercy.

But wait! There’s more!
Francis now wants to help with the Colombian peace process.

As Peter Lynch said,

Sometimes it’s darkest before the dawn, but then again, other times it’s darkest before pitch black.

Related:
The new Perfect Latin American Idiot.

UPDATE
Dennis Prager:

When the pope keeps a hammer-and-sickle crucifix; when the pope declares free-market capitalism, the one economic system that has lifted masses of people out of poverty, to be largely evil (“the dung of the devil”); when Cuba’s Cardinal Jaime Ortega declares that there are no political prisoners in Cuba; and when the pope issues an encyclical on global warming while the oldest Christian communities in the world are exterminated, it is clear that while one can still turn to individual Catholic priests and lay leaders for moral guidance, one cannot turn to the Church and its pope for moral guidance. On the contrary.