Archive for the ‘Fausta’s blog’ Category

“You will not like Cuba”

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Today’s must-read, via Carlos Eire,Luis Ball’s article,
You Will Not Like Cuba
Media Hype Sells Product That Does Not Exist

Maybe those readers who plan to visit this Caribbean paradise would like to know something that Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times have omitted: their phone conversations will be bugged, and possibly they will be secretly filmed in their hotel rooms. Remember, this is not Berlin after the fall of the Wall; this is Berlin before!

Twenty years ago, Fidel Castro began to promote his imprisoned island to foreign tourists. Canadian and Spanish tourists initially poured in. Eventually, however, word got out that Cuba was not much fun.+

Today, they still trickle in, but the boom in tourism that the Castros expected has not materialized. Those who do visit Cuba do so because it is, by far, the cheapest destination in the Caribbean. Those Europeans and Canadians who can pay more ignore Cuba as a destination.

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. My father worked for many years at what then was at one of the top hotels in the Caribbean. I sincerely do not understand why anyone would go to Cuba when you can find, not only in Puerto Rico, but all across the Caribbean, top-rated resorts (where, as a bonus, you are not subsidizing a murderous Communist regime intent on not changing).

As Capitol Hill Cubans point out, business will not bring change to Cuba,

The business community has been a key supporter of some of the worst dictatorships in modern times — all for the sake of stability.

Related:
A brief video of a street in downtown Havana, “in a good part of town,” and keep in mind Cuba received in 2014 US$300 million in trade from the US and 3 million international tourists:

Click on the photo above for more on Cuba travel.

Recommended reading:

NUESTROS AÑOS VERDE OLIVO

Persona Non Grata: A Memoir of Disenchantment with the Cuban Revolution

The Hezbollah camps Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, April 27th, 2015

While the U.S. media distracted itself with news about Bruce Jenner and tried to ignore Hillary Clinton’s corruption, the big news story of the week came via Emili Blasco: Nicolas Maduro negotiated with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela. See also Venezuela, el principal nexo de Hezbollah en América
A lo largo de los años, Tarek El Aissami ha desarrollado una red financiera sofisticada y de múltiples niveles
(more posts on El Aissami here).

ARGENTINA
Cristina Kirchner and Vladimir Putin cuddle up over oil – and bitter feelings for Britain
Argentina and Russia signed a a “strategic partnership” that included oil and gas deals, after Ms Kirchner visited Moscow and the Kremlin

BRAZIL
The ghost in the Planalto
Dilma Rousseff is in office but no longer in power

Thankfully, it is hard to imagine suicide or a coup. It is also hard to see Ms Rousseff, a tough former urban guerrilla who survived torture, resigning. And Brazilian law holds that a president can be impeached only for political or common crimes committed during her current term of office—though whether that rule would necessarily exempt any malfeasance during her first term is not clear. So far nothing ties Ms Rousseff to corruption; some would like fiscal irresponsibility to be impeachable, but probably it is not. It is for Mr Cunha to decide whether to start impeachment, and he is one of 52 politicians being investigated over alleged illegal donations from Petrobras.

Brazil’s Petrobras Reports Nearly $17 Billion in Asset and Corruption Charges
State-run oil company writes off $2.1 billion of alleged bribe payments

Images of transgender prisoner whose face was ‘pulverized’ by police after they stripped her and shaved her head spark outrage in Brazil

CHILE
Chile volcano ash cloud reaches Brazil; some flights canceled

COLOMBIA
Colombian Physicians Get the Final Go-Ahead for Euthanasia
18 Years of Legal Limbo Over with New Regulatory Protocol

Cobweb explosives, #FARC’s latest method discovered by Fudra [armed forces]

COSTA RICA
Scientist in Costa Rica discovers new species of glass frog
Brian Kubicki discovers the Hyalinobatrachium dianae glass frog species in Costa Rica’s Talamanca mountains

CUBA
Giving Obama Cover on Cuban Weapons Shipment

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visits Cuba

ECUADOR
Ecuadorian Activists Want Nothing Less than Universal Marijuana
Cannabis Ecuador: “With or Without Prohibition, There Will Always Be Drug Use”

MEXICO
MEXICAN AUTHORITIES RECOVER STOLEN RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL

NICARAGUA
In Paradisiacal Nicaragua, Contemplating a Canal. Paradisiacal?

PANAMA
Panama, reputed to be region’s top money laundering hub, toughens up legislation

PARAGUAY
Paraguay preps bond tap in buoyant market

PERU
Protester killed in Peru during rally against Southern Copper project

Peru library to preserve Vargas Llosa’s vast literary treasure

PUERTO RICO
S&P downgrades Puerto Rico debt to ‘CCC+’ from ‘B’

URUGUAY
Ex-Gitmo detainees protest at US embassy in Uruguay, demand financial support

VENEZUELA
Should Venezuela be on the List of Terrorist States?

WATCH: ROGUE MANGO ATTACKS VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT NICOLÁS MADURO

Woman who hit Venezuela leader with mango rewarded with new home
Woman who threw mango at Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro promised new home

The week’s posts and podcast:
Colombia: How are the FARC negotiations going?

Sunday tango at the gazebo

En español: Unidad de quemados #217

Oh look, the guy behind the Clinton uranium deal was also the guy behind the Clinton FTA deal

Argentina: Hitting new lows on the #Nisman murder

Venezuela: Maduro negotiated for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela

Chile: Here’s the kaboom!

Alinsky wears high heels

Venezuela: Censorship all around

Cuba: Strawberries can get you jailed

Argentina: Prosecutor drops #Nisman’s case

Bolivia: Dumb. And dumber.

Podcast:
Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela & other US-Latin America stories



Alinsky wears high heels

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Read my post, Alinsky wears high heels.

Video: LANGUAGE ALERT

Venezuela: Censorship all around

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Dictatorship control on all,

The Economist:
Maduro’s muzzle
Not content with harassing the press, the regime censors itself

Under Nicolás Maduro, who succeeded Chávez as president in 2013, the government is supplementing its relentless propaganda with self-censorship. The apparent goal is to hide from Venezuelans bad news that might weaken their already shaky faith in the regime. The health ministry, for instance, has not published a weekly epidemiological bulletin since early November, despite concurrent outbreaks of three mosquito-borne diseases. Last May Venezuela saw its first cases of chikungunya, a disease originating in Africa, which causes very high fevers and severe joint pains. It took the authorities five months to declare chikungunya a notifiable disease. The most recent bulletin still fails to include it.

Self-censorship is not confined to the health authorities. The National Statistical Institute (INE) has not published poverty data for 2014. No one has provided production figures for PDVSA, the state oil corporation, for the past three months. When officials explain their silence, which is not often, they talk of a need to avoid “political manipulation” of statistics.

Not that this should come as a surprise to long-term readers of this blog: For years I have mentioned that

The International Monetary Fund keeps a List of IMF Member Countries with Delays in Completion of Article IV Consultations or Mandatory Financial Stability Assessments Over 18 Months. As of the writing of this post, Venezuela hasn’t held an Article IV consultation with the IMF in 99 months.

Let me translate that into plain English: The Venezuelan government has not allowed its own numbers to be verified for almost a decade.

It also stopped reporting a number of standard indicators several years ago

About the only thing that’s new is Nicolas Maduro’s latest conspiracy theory.

By the way, why is Venezuela still considered a hybrid regime?

States that fit the hybrid regime profile can be identified based on the following characteristics:
– elections which are not too flawed and which have the potential to make a difference;
– significant levels of corruption, particularly in the judicial and electoral arenas;
– a lack of vital components of democratic quality, such as checks and balances and government accountability;
– a problematic press freedom situation, typically including incumbents’ desire to control the media, particularly television;
– a poor civil liberties situation, including limits on freedom of expression and the freedom to form organisations and trade unions; and
– a problematic rule of law situation, including a lack of judicial independence.

The elections were rigged.

Carlos Rangel posts on Muzzling a country

Today’s vision of hell, airline travel edition:

Friday, April 17th, 2015

From Airbus, the folks who floated the standing up flights trial balloon, this:

Could cattle class get any worse? Introducing BUDGET economy where airlines are squeezing an extra seat in every row
Airbus are increasing their seats from 10 to 11 seats in every row
The addition will see Airbus creating a fourth cheaper class called Choice
The change is to be launched in 2017 on the Airbus 380 model
Airbus state the move is to reflect 90 per cent of fliers using economy
Thankfully seat widths will remain at the standard 18 inches

“Thankfully” nothing – When the seats are so narrow that the little head pillows are shown narrow side up, you know it’s hell.

Those seats are not wide enough for the average adult, but the 3rd graders may do OK.

Pity the fool who gets the aisle seat, too. Those are narrow aisles.

As for BUDGET economy, a friend just told me that the EU countries are charging a US$500 travel tax on flights from the US. How’s that for “BUDGET economy”?

Cuba: Victory lap at the VII Summit

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

How’s this for a proposal?
Stay the hell away from any Summit of the Americas and stop elevating the clowns.

What the US Got From Cuba Deal: Zilch
That pointless pow-wow between Raul Castro and President Obama over the weekend only underscores how Havana is giving up nothing for normalization.
(emphasis added)

But the president’s trolling of Cuba-defending Republicans ought to result in mockery, not outrage. Because the real problem with the Obama administration’s approach to normalization with Cuba isn’t the normalization itself. It’s that this normalization came without getting the United States any of their long-stated policy priorities for the Cuban people in return. Normalization is President Obama’s gift to the Castro regime—a gift with no strings attached.

This is, not coincidentally, the exact same problem we see with the administration’s approach to negotiations with Iran (with far more at stake, of course). In both cases, an avowed enemy of the United States is handed huge strategic concessions by the Americans—in exchange for what amounts to nothing.

Unilateral sanctions on Cuba have been oppressive and largely ineffective, and that’s why the public largely supports lifting them. But rolling them back should have come through the normalization process in Congress, and it should have come in return for tangible reforms in Cuba.

The government in Havana is best understood as a cross between violent left-wing radicals and organized crime. And we are normalizing our relations with them now—for what, exactly?

Summit Ends In Triumph For Castro

Things are so bad in Venezuela that its citizens are starting to pick up rifles. A nascent guerrilla movement is rapidly forming in the western region of Venezuela, according to Reuters. Such is the desperation that comes of Cuban control of all levers of power, as well as fraudulent elections to preserve a facade of democracy.
It also has been seen before — in spontaneous rebel movements that sprang up in Central America in the 1980s and in the military “Dirty War” that gripped nearly all of South America in the 1970s. Anyone attempting to fight back was smeared by the Castro propaganda machine as a human rights violator. But people fought back anyway, and some, such as Chile, really won.
There is also terrorism, which Cuba has spread through every country in the region in the past. Incredibly, it’s still going on as two large caches of smuggled weapons from rogue states in the Caribbean show.

Apartheid in Cuba: When will Cuba end its ‘internal embargo’? (h/t Babalu

When I travelled for two weeks in working class areas of Cuba last year, a Cuban worker explained to me that while they hear endlessly from the government about the “American embargo against Cuba,” the real problem is the “internal embargo”—the embargo that the government elite has imposed on the Cuban people to keep them from participating in the economies of the elite and the outside world.

The internal embargo is so complete that, not only is there physical separation from the elites, but there is even a separate currency.

You can bet that embargo won’t end.

How’s this for a proposal: Stay the hell away from any Summit of the Americas and stop elevating the clowns.

The Summit of the Americas circus Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, April 13th, 2015


This time the circus was in Panama, where OBAMA-CASTRO MEETING OVERSHADOWS ANTI-US LINE AT SUMMIT

ARGENTINA
CFK: ‘It’s ridiculous to consider Venezuela, Argentina a threat’

Argentine court orders arrest of Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber will be arrested if he ever sets foot in Argentina, following an alleged fracas outside a Buenos Aires nightclub in 2013

BRAZIL
Brazil Ignites Union Fury with Outsourcing Bill
State Employees Warn Hiring-Policy Changes Threaten Labor Rights

Protesters Return to Brazilian Streets
Antigovernment protesters returned to the streets of several Brazilian cities Sunday to express dissatisfaction with President Dilma Rousseff and her ruling Workers’ Party.

The end of the BRICs

CHILE
Chile Fights Off Creeping Crisis as Graft Accusations Escalate.

Bachelet: I Will Not Resign, Government Is Not Covering Up Scandals. Bachelet didn’t attend the VII Summit.

Chile prisoners ‘extorted Spaniards’
Spanish police break up an extortion ring run by Chilean jail inmates who allegedly cold-called Spanish civilians demanding kidnap ransoms.

COLOMBIA
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS
Could Colombia play peacemaker between U.S. and Venezuela?

Colombia Navy Finds 21 Cuban Migrants on Border with Panama

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica finishes work to close artificial canal built by Nicaragua in disputed territory

CUBA
Menendez Unloads on ‘Alarming’ Reports of Pressure from White House to Rush Removal of Cuba from Terror List

The President meets the General: Dictatorship legitimized and misbehaviour whitewashed

Obama Mau-Maued By Tinpots At Latin Summit After Conceding So Much To Cuba

HAITI
Haiti’s Hillary Headache: Clinton to announce Presidency Bid Sunday

IMMIGRATION
TWO GOOD REASONS TO CURB IMMIGRATION

JAMAICA
Watch Barack Obama and Usain Bolt do sprinter’s trademark lightning pose on presidential visit to Jamaica

LATIN AMERICA
Latin America Will Tackle Corruption Later

MEXICO
N Korea urges Mexico to free detained ship

Meet Mexico’s fastest growing drug cartel. It even builds its own rifles

PANAMA
Pro-Castro Panamanian groups threaten Cuban activists

Dos Amigos: President Obama and Raúl Castro Shake Hands in Panama
I guess we should be glad he didn’t bow.

PARAGUAY
Paraguay peasants resist soybean agribusiness activities

PERU
6.5 Million Ounces of Gold LOST in Peru!

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico exports its drug addicts to Chicago
Island police and mayors direct heroin addicts to Chicago and other cities with promises of housing and treatment
.

URUGUAY
UN to help Guantanamo refugees with houses in Uruguay

VENEZUELA
Panama OAS summit for dummies

Sign or Else: Venezuelans Coerced into Anti-Obama Petition

PBS NewsHour Laments Smell of ‘Imperialist Meddling’ and ‘Bullying’ Venezuela — by Obama?

Meeting under trees in the dark of night, and other stories from Venezuela’s struggling guerilla resistance

The week’s posts and podcast:
Today’s hashtag

Ecuador: Correa tweets!

Breaking: Dissidents attacked again in Panama by Cuban gov operatives

Cuba, the “Not Ready For Prime Time Civil Society” country

Biden: Like taking a binky from a baby

Colombia: Hillary changed her mind on FTA over $50 million, oops, $130 million

Panama: Cuban agents assault dissidents

Coming up next: The Summit of the Americas circus

Venezuela: Opposition leaders’ wives to attend the Summit of the Americas

Jamaica: Vendors angry about Obama visit

Nicaragua’s steps to dictatorship

Panama: Rosa María Payá detained

Podcast: On the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Panama



Breaking: Dissidents attacked again in Panama by Cuban gov operatives

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Telemundo 51 (video at the link in Spanish) reports that Cuban government operatives are again harassing dissidents attending the VII Summit of the Americas.

Blogger Yoani Sanchez stated that the dissidents had to take shelter from their aggressors at the Salón Topacio of the Panama Hotel, while the police and the military try to regain control outside the premises.

On Twitter,
@RosaMariaPaya THREATENED WITH BEATINGS. They told her she can not coincide >Raúl Castro!

As I was saying this morning, Cuba’s “Not Ready For Prime Time Civil Society.”

Cuba, the “Not Ready For Prime Time Civil Society” country

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Read all about Cuba, the “Not Ready For Prime Time Civil Society” country

Biden: Like taking a binky from a baby

Friday, April 10th, 2015

To quote Duane,
“. . .the thought of pulling a pacifier from a baby’s mouth and inserting it unwashed, sterilized or otherwise de-cootied into my mouth is a thought that has never entered my head.”

Biden puts Bloomberg’s grandson’s pacifier in his mouth

Craig Ramsay for the win!