Archive for the ‘Raul Castro’ Category

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: 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.”

Venezuela: No food in the shops, but 3 jets for Raul

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

It’s a matter of priorities, people!


I can fly higher than an eagle,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings
.

Venezuela gives Cuba three aircraft to transport Raúl Castro
The aircrafts –two Dassault Falcon 50 and one Falcon 900– are worth some USD 100-110 million

The aircraft –two Dassault Falcon 50 and one Falcon 900– are worth some USD [$]100-110 million, and are regularly used for transporting ministers and even Cuban President Raúl Castro, sources said as reported by the Miami Herald reported.

Venezuela: Door-to-door raids, AWOL colonels, Panama out

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Tweet of the day:
Human rights violations in Venezuela


(h/t Babalu)

A new stage in the Cubanization of Venezuela: the Comités de Defensa de la Revolución (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution) have now arrived.
I received an email from Venezuela describing a new situation: Neighbors in the same buildings reporting anyone who protests to the National Guard, who then tear down the front door and arrest all the people in the apartment of the alleged protesters.

Fidel Castro’s “collective system of revolutionary vigilance,” in a new country.

According to NGO Foro Penal Venezolano, Protests in Venezuela leave 1,084 detainees so far

Unlike most reporters, this CNN reporter did go into the fray,

Andrea Shea King posts on the apps:

Zello? According to DefenseOne, this is the app that’s fueling the uprising in Venezuela. The Walkie-talkie app is the favorite app of protest organizers in Venezuela and in Ukraine.

Bookmark these alternatives to text messaging: What’sApp and Telegram. Or begin using them now.

The Crowdpilot app lets others listen in to each other’s conversations, especially helpful in situations like thrones [sic] in Ukraine and Venezuela.

In the city of Valencia, three National Guard colonels are AWOL after refusing to fire on their fellow citizens.

After Panama requested a meeting at the Organization of American States (OAS) to discuss Venezuela’s crisis, Maduro cut ties with Panama, calling country a ‘lackey’ for the United States.

Maduro used the most insulting terms, calling the president of Panama a “groveling lackey”, while telling the OAS to stay out of Venezuela, now and forever.

Bolivian president Evo Morales was in attendance:

Daniel Duquenal calls it The day Maduro became certifiable and tore his panama,

So, rather than having to appear at an OAS meeting and look like a brutal repressive fool, it is better to turn over the table and refuse to play. See, Maduro and its Cuban masters are understanding that the regime image is so deteriorated that they cannot count on a favorable OAS verdict no matter how much they have spent to buy its votes.

In other words, pushed against the wall, Cuba ordered Maduro to start breaking up with the OAS, a long held dear dream of Castro and Chavez, with already sabotage to the OAS by supporting someone like its incompetent secretary Insulza or creating CELAC and UNASUR to annul OAS cover.

I need to add a footnote probably lost in translation. After the electoral fraud of April 2013 Panama’s president was one of the rare few to travel to Caracas and visit Maduro as the real elected president. The reason was that Venezuela owes, I understand, more than a billion USD to Panama and that is a lot of money for a small country. Martinelli simply had to think of his people. But I suspect that he did not get paid anything for his troubles since Venezuela is bankrupt. So, he decided to screw Maduro by having Panama’s ambassador called an OAS meeting on Venezuela. After all, breaking with Panama is going to cost Maduro more than what it may cost Panama. Probably it will aggravate our economic crisis and make corrupt chavista upset that their assets risk being sort of frozen in Panama.

Panama’s not the only country Venezuela owes money to: Venezuela’s debt to Brazilian construction firms over USD 2 billion

In a report issued by Brazilian newspaper Valor Econômico, Brazilian construction corporations’ portfolio in Venezuela accounts for USD 20 billion, affected by serious “delays” in payment in recent days

Visiting dignitaries: Evo Morales was in Caracas for the Chavez memorial. Cuba’s Raul Castro, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, and Suriname’s Desi Bouterse (a shady character if ever there was one) were also at the memorial. Raul Castro’s visit to Venezuela, to prop up the government of Chavez’s handpicked successor amid violent anti-government riots, has caused more resentment than rejoicing

Some Venezuelans are convinced that the very worst violence unleashed on protesters has actually been committed by Cuban plants, not Venezuelan security force personnel.

Caracas Gringo has a photo essay of Raul Castro’s Cubazuelan Parade

Juan Cristobal Nagel takes a look at A legacy of destruction

A large number of Venezuelan immigrants aim to request political asylum, many of whom have been living undocumented in Florida for several years.

UPDATE:
Title corrected.

Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!

Cuba: Lies, lies, and more lies

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

For decades, we’ve been subjected to numerous reports on Cuba’s “excellent free healthcare”, when in fact it is an apartheid system where poor Cubans have to provide their own sutures, supplies, and sheets if they’re in the hospital (video in Spanish)

Now we’ve been hearing about Raul Castro’s “reforms”; Mary O’Grady writes about the reality:

It was only two years ago that Castro boasted a loosening of the rules in the state-owned economy. He did it under duress: The bankrupt government couldn’t continue to pretend to pay people who pretend to work. The dictatorship forecast that it had to unload more than a half-million Cubans from state payrolls. To ease the pain and potential social unrest, Castro pronounced 178 trades “legal.”

A gullible foreign press swooned over Castro’s words as if he was getting ready to admit the defeat of the 55-year-old communist revolution and let the market take over.

Which, as we have seen, is not the case.

The regime, he [Raúl Castro] said, is not about let “private business people” go around “creating an environment of impunity and stimulating the accelerated growth of activities that were never authorized for certain occupations.” Illegal activities like “competing excessively with state enterprises,” will not be tolerated, he warned. In other words, Cuban poverty is here to stay.

Fabio Rafael Fiallo points out how Once Again, the Castro Regime Lies:

The fiction of “reform” has once again been in full swing since 2010, as President Raúl Castro has introduced a new set of policy changes labeled as an “updating” of Cuba’s socialism. The purpose of the exercise is to inject the economy with homeopathic doses of capitalism — the very capitalism that the regime took so much care to wipe off.

A cornerstone of the “updating” exercise relates to the creationof a “special economic zone” in the west designed to host foreign firms and expected to operate according to criteria other than those applied in the rest of the country.

These kinds of special economic zones have been tested already in a country ruled by another staunch communist regime: the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea, where some 100 South Korean enterprises, staffed by 50,000 North Korean workers, are allowed to operate. The complex has not halted the continued decline of the North Korean economy, nor the recurrent famines. And there is no reason to believe that the Cuban version will perform any better.

And much like North Korea, the Cuban regime fails to realize that it is not by insulating several hundreds of square miles from the rest of the country — so as to keep the bulk of the population immunized from the “virus” of capitalism — that an economy can possibly take off.

Still more unfounded are the expectations that the Cuban regime is trying to nurture the political realm. While Raúl Castro proposes to President Obama to establish a “civilized relationship” between their two countries, the Cuban regime continues to repress members of the dissidence, denying them the right to express their views, beating them brutally and submitting them to recurrent arrests.

Arrests of dissidents have in fact been on the rise: 4,000 in 2011, 5,000 in 2012 and more than 5,300 in 2013. Some leading dissidents — such as Laura Pollán and Oswaldo Payá — lost their lives under strange circumstances.

And more truth on the island-prison: How the Castro brothers observe Christmas in Cuba: Beating children and stealing toys

Cuba: The new car

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

For the first time since the 1959 revolution, Cubans will have the right to buy new and used vehicles from the state without government permission, at a price:

Which means Cubans Now Allowed to Buy $263,182 Peugeots.

UPDATE:
Linked to by Dustbury. Thank you!

Obama bows to Raul Castro

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Having bowed to Mexico’s then-president Felipe Calderon, children in Mumbai, a couple visiting Japan’s Great Buddha, Saudi King Abdullah,

Queen Elizabeth, Viktor Yushchenko,

the Emperor Akihito of Japan,

the mayor of Tampa,

Chris Cristie,

and Hu Jintao,

President Obama, now in South Africa for the Nelson Mandela funeral, continues his policy of “smart diplomacy through obeisance” by bowing to Cuban Communist dictator Raul Castro:

For educational purposes, here’s the Obama Bow/Grovel Guage for the Common Citizen:

UPDATE:
Linked to by MOTUS. Thank you!

At Drudge:
Obama greets Cuban strongman with handshake…
‘Castro, he’s shaking hands with Raul Castro!’
CNN Defends: ‘Not to Be Misunderstood’…
CARTER: ‘Hope it will be omen for future’…
RUBIO: ‘Castro regime sponsors terrorism abroad and against their own people’…


Cuba: The Pope’s shameful trip UPDATE: Did Benedict see Chavez?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Yeah, yeah, now the Pope’s given another Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square, right under the Che monument (Che monument soon to get a Galway branch, like a bank). Benedict gave lip service to hope and change.

Raul Castro got the photo-op of his lifetime, getting a Papal blessing, even when Hugo Chavez didn’t attend,

and Fidel Castro got a private audience with the Pope

The meeting followed Benedict’s open-air Mass in the same public square where a younger, healthier Castro once delivered official speeches that lasted for hours and frequently railed against the United States.

Here’s a photo,

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

For Christ’s sake.

Benedict turned a deaf ear to the people clamoring for freedom – in the video above you can hear the chant of “libertad, libertad” (freedom, freedom).

The Catholic Church remains silent on arrest of protestor and hundreds of dissidents in Cuba, yet,

Unofficial reports also seem to confirm the future saint Fidel’s first miracle: the instantaneous disappearance from the island of the Ladies in White and all dissidents.

The hand of God lets go of Cuba and Cubans?

I wouldn’t know about the hand of God.

But going by the evidence, one can safely conclude that the Pope sure doesn’t have b*lls.

UPDATE:
Photo of Fidel & Benedict added.
Linked by Babalu. Thanks!
Linked by Nice Deb. Thanks!
Linked by Doug Ross. Thanks!

UPDATE,
Did Benedict meet Hugo?
Pope Blesses Cancer-Stricken Chavez in Cuba, Journalist Says (h/t Venezuela News & Views)

The alleged meeting, which Bocaranda first reported was in the works on March 25, was arranged by Venezuelan diplomats who used to work at the South American nation’s mission to the Vatican, the journalist said. All participants agreed the brief meeting would be without media coverage, Bocaranda said.

Plenty of time to meet the Communists, no time for anyone else.


CELAC: Chavez’s latest “alternative”

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

After creating the ALBA with Cuba ten years ago, Hugo Chávez now is hosting the inaugural for the CELAC (Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y del Caribe – Community of Latin American and Caribbean States).

ALBA is mostly dependent on Venezuelan oil, and its current members – Bolivia, Nicaragua, (Honduras dropped out), Ecuador, Dominica, St Vincent and Antigua – are not exactly the largest economies in the world. Another Chávez brainchild, the Bank of the South (Banco del Sur) has tanked, so far, due to liquidity issues and lack of reserves.

But Chávez knows how to get publicity, and he also knows that his fellow heads of state in Latin America love to travel all-expenses-paid-by-their citizenry to other countries since it gives the appearance of doing something, everybody gets to badmouth the USA, the local media (which he controls) will lap up the meeting, Mexico wanted to be included in something, and, who knows, there may even be slush fund opportunities in the bargain.

Voilá, CELAC was born, created in Mexico last year.

The spin is intense: CELAC is touted as “a new geopolitical structure“, soon to replace the “old and worn out” OAS, with Caracas not only as its capital (of course!) but also the capital of the Americas, with growing economies ; just take a look at the map:

The map shows the purported growth in GDP for 2010 in each country’s economy. Let me dampen your enthusiasm over these numbers by pointing out that anyone who believes Cuban government statistics deserves to be called a fool. I leave it to you to verify other statistics, for instance, Argentina’s, where their government is prosecuting independent economists.

Canada and the USA are not invited, of course. Chile’s president prudently sent his vice-president instead. In total, leaders of 33 countries are expected.

Raúl Castro turned up for the opening, crowing “for the first time, we’ll have an organization for our America“, conveniently forgetting that his brother said more or less the same thing about ALBA a decade ago. Venezuela rolled out the red carpet and lined up the military in full tin soldier garb, but Hugo couldn’t make it to the airport to greet him,

Crisitina Fernández of Argentina and Dilma Rousseff of Brazil already met with Chávez, and Felipe Calderón tweeted from Mexico this morning that he’s on his way.

And, this morning oil is up, which may help fund the proceedings.

What is there not to love?

Well, for one thing,

Because it lacks any formal charter or mandate, however, Celac will be more effective as a forum for left-wing figures like Mr. Chávez to “pontificate” and fan anti-U.S. sentiment, said Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas in New York.

It’s a good photo-op, but

“It’s a good show for Chávez. It boosts his standing and shows Venezuelans that he is a regional leader and that other heads of state will come to Venezuela,” Mr. Shifter said.

But beyond photo opportunities, Mr. Shifter says he doubts Celac will be able to distinguish itself from the slate of existing regional organizations such as Mercosur, the Union of South American Nations, the Andean Community of Nations, and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.

“There are very significant problems among the subregional organizations,” Mr. Shifter said. “It’s hard to imagine that an organization that includes all of Latin America and the Caribbean will have fewer obstacles.”

Or, as The Economist put it,

On paper CELAC will try to co-ordinate among trade blocks, such as Mercosur and the Andean Community (but UNASUR is also supposed to do that). It will also try to stimulate regional trade and speak with one voice in international forums. If only. The lesson of ALBA is that regional clubs based on political ideology rather than national interest do not get very far.

The USA is the major trading partner for most of these countries.

It’ll be interesting to see what the heads of state end up signing, if anything, at the end of this summit.

UPDATED:
You can watch it live here.

Cross-posted at Real Clear World

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