Archive for the ‘Raul Castro’ Category

Cuba UPDATED

Friday, August 14th, 2015

Secretary of State John Kerry is in Havana today for the opening of the U.S. Embassy. Read my article and roundup here.


Politico’s “formidable agent of change” on the job

UPDATE

If the Pope were working for the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Recently, Pope Francis

  • met with Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutierrez, the self-declared founder of liberation theology.
  • Restored to the priesthood Miguel d’Escoto, the Sandinista who expounded liberation theology as a priest and turned Nicaragua into a Cuban-ruled hellhole. D’Escoto also considers Fidel Castro a saint.
  • Brokered the “easing” of U.S.-Cuba relations that left the Cuban dissidents out in the dark.
  • Welcomed Raul Castro for an hour-long private audience.
  • UPDATE: Recognizes the Palestinian state.

To quote the estimable Mark Steyn, “If he were working for the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?”

More on the Pope and liberation theology at IBD: Liberation Theology’s Comeback Comes With A KGB Caveat

UPDATE
Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!

Cuba: The annotated Raul-Pope Francis meeting

Monday, May 11th, 2015

The excellent Carlos Eire translates, annotates, and interprets a report on Raul Castro’s meeting with his new BFF, Pope Francis,
King Raul : “If the pope stays on the same path, I might join the Catholic Church!”

King Raul and the Holy Father exchanged gifts during this “cordial” visit.  The tyrant gave the pope a rare medal commemorating the 200th anniversary of Havana’s cathedral — of which only 25 exist.

The tyrant responsible for driving 20 percent of his subjects into exile also had the audacity to give the pope a contemporary painting by an unnamed Cuban artist that depicts a kneeling migrant praying on a beach, at the foot of a cross made from boats.

(Le Rrrrronca!)

Read the whole thing.

Exit question:
Is Francis granting a private audience to the Ladies in White when he goes to Cuba next September?

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

Panama: Rosa María Payá detained

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Panamanian authorities’ warning shot to anyone not willing to kiss Raul Castro’s ring:

Rosa María Payá, the daughter of the late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, was briefly detained on Sunday at Panama’s airport and threatened with deportation to Cuba if she caused any public disturbances at the Summit of the Americas, according to an account she gave on Twitter.

Payá was released after being questioned and her personal items were subjected to a careful review by authorities, in what was later described by the Foreign Ministry of Panama as “a bureaucratic error.”

Big Brother’s “bureaucratic error,” that is.

Summits are a waste of time and money for real countries,” as Mary O’Grady stated,

But this one will be useful for Cuba, which will be allowed to join the group for the first time, and on its own terms. It’s hard to put a finger on the lowest point in Obama foreign policy, but its abject submissiveness regarding this meeting in the U.S. backyard is a serious contender.

Back in 2001,

OAS members signed the “Democratic Charter,” requiring the suspension of nondemocratic governments.

That was then. Now, not only is the murderous Communist regime attending, Panama is warning dissidents to keep quiet.

What a disgrace.

Cuba: Gimme, gimme, gimme Gitmo!

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Now that the murderous Communist regime in Cuba knows that to the Obama administration the word “easement” means “A deal for which the U.S. gets nothing in exchange”, they want more.

Who wouldha thunk it!

How much more?

The whole enchilada (YES, I KNOW ENCHILADAS ARE MEXICAN. Bear with me here!):

  • Ending what’s left of the embargo
  • Ending all TV and radio broadcasts to the island
  • Cutting off support to dissidents
  • Removal from the states sponsors of terror list
  • Giving Guantanamo Base to Cuba

and (drumroll please)

  • Reparations! “just compensation to our people for the human and economic damage that they’re suffered.”

Since Communists love slogans, Gimme, gimme, gimme Gitmo!

Lest you believe that gifting Gitmo to Russia and all of these concessions are unlikely to come about, keep in mind that Obama is obsessed with his “legacy”. Take it away, Ed!

Only if one believes that these conditions will discourage Obama. He’s desperate for a foreign-policy achievement that will allow him to claim a legacy, and Castro knows it. (So does Iran.) Castro isn’t anywhere near as desperate for normalized relations with the US; he gets plenty of hard currency from the rest of the world, and exchanges it with the near-worthless Cuban peso with which he pays Cubans. Castro wants to strengthen his regime, and humiliating Obama will raise his prestige immeasurably at home.

Gifting Gitmo already has support among some, but as Joshua Treviño commented on Facebook (emphasis added),

We need to establish a new rule of thumb: anyone arguing that major bargaining points should be ceded in exchange for unforced goodwill does not understand basic power dynamics and should be ignored in policymaking henceforth. The Cuban regime isn’t going to be any more grateful or well-disposed toward us after occupying Guantanamo than they are now. They’ll just feel, with some justification, like they’ve won — and moreover won cheaply. What good that does us, well, ask the Israelis about the goodwill garnered after leaving Lebanon and Gaza.

As for the hand-waving dismissal of the modern importance of “conventional hemispheric defense,” that is the sort of thing one writes when one’s historical horizons are confined to an exceedingly small slice of history.

The small slice of history, in this case, “is all about the O.”

Somewhere in Cuba, Fidel’s amanuensis is gloating,

(more…)

The easement Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, January 19th, 2015

LatinAmerThis Carnival is dedicated to the new meaning of the word easement, which, following last Friday’s U.S. Department Of Commerce and U.S Department Of The Treasury Announcement Of Regulatory Amendments To The Cuba Sanctions now includes “making a deal where one gets nothing in return.”

However, the big news of the day is Alberto Nisman’s death by a gunshot wound in his home while his bodyguards were absent. Go to this morning’s post for more.

ARGENTINA
THE LONESOME DEATH OF ALBERTO NISMAN

Oil and trouble
A prosecutor accuses the president of obstructing justice in the country’s biggest terror case

In 2013, Argentina announced that it would collaborate with Iran in a joint commission “to advance knowledge of the truth about the attack,” as Ms Fernández wrote on Twitter at the time. The country’s Jewish population, the world’s seventh largest, was puzzled and angry about the accord. Now the prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, alleges that the controversial deal was reached in back-channel negotiations that Ms Fernández initiated with Iran. He claims that she offered to cover up the involvement of any Iranian officials in exchange for increased trade. Argentina would export grain to Iran, while Iran would sell oil to Argentina to ease its severe energy deficit.

In the end, for reasons that are still unclear, the negotiations failed and the deal fell apart. But Mr Nisman has marshalled evidence of the talks in a 300-page document that he filed in a Buenos Aires court. “They decided, negotiated, and assured the impunity of the fugitive Iranians in the AMIA case with the aim of faking Iran’s innocence to serve geopolitical and commercial interests,” Mr Nisman declared. The allegations against Ms Fernández, her foreign minister, Héctor Timerman, and others are based on “irrefutable proof” from two years of investigations and myriad wiretaps, Mr Nisman claims.

Kirchner Accused of Covering Up 1994 Terrorist Bombing
Prosecutor: President Made Secret Deal with Iran for Cheap Oil

Fernandez Graft Cases Multiply in Argentine Electoral Year

Argentina’s Jews Reel From New Twist in Terror Probe
Prosecutor Accuses President Christina Kirchner of Conspiring to Cover Up a Probe Into a 1994 Terrorist Attack on a Jewish Center

Argentina’s Kirchner Named in Criminal Complaint
An Argentine prosecutor filed a complaint against President Cristina Kirchner, her foreign minister and others for allegedly conspiring to cover up a probe into Iran’s alleged involvement in the bombing of a Jewish community center.

A federal prosecutor in Argentina has filed a criminal complaint against President Cristina Kirchner , her foreign minister and others, accusing them of conspiring to cover up an investigation into Iran’s alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in this capital city.

The prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, said on Wednesday that Mrs. Kirchner had ordered Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and others to negotiate immunity for Iranian suspects in hopes this would reestablish trade ties and allow Argentina to import Iranian oil to ease a domestic energy crisis. The alleged plan didn’t come to fruition, however.

Prosecutor: Argentinian President Plotted to Cover Up Iranian Role in AMIA Bombing

ARUBA
Aruba Tops 1 Million Visitors for First Time

It also makes Aruba one of just five Caribbean destinations above the 1 million mark, along with the Bahamas, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.

Cuba’s 1 million visitors sure made a difference so far, or haven’t they?

BOLIVIA
Bolivian Peasants Urged On by Drug Traffickers Hold Hostage, Beat 4 Police

BRAZIL
Petrobras’s Lesson for Latin America
We Ignore Cronyism at Our Peril

Codenamed Lava Jato, or “car wash,” the investigation into Petrobras operations by police and public prosecutors revealed a colossal corruption scheme involving former top executives, construction companies, and prominent politicians from the governing coalition dominated by the Workers’ Party (PT). Evidence uncovered so far suggests the privileged club of racketeers pocketed billions of dollars under the cover of public contracts.

CHILE
Chile’s Penta Case Pulls Dozens Into Corruption Scandal
Officials Took Cash for Influence, Allege Prosecutors

Chile’s Landmark Electoral Reform Passes Senate Hurdle
Binomial System on the Way Out, Gender Quota on the Way In

After a marathon 20-hour session on Wednesday, January 14, the Chilean Senate approved reform to an electoral system that dates back to the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The objective is to increase the number of deputies and senators, and change the voting mechanism from binomial to proportional.

COLOMBIA
Why is Colombia Smuggling Coca Base to Honduras?

Colombia’s Santos Orders Discussion of Bilateral Cease-Fire with FARC

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica’s Quakers dodged US draft, now face perils of changing world
After leaving Alabama in 1951, small group of American pacifists maintains community in Central American highlands

CUBA
U.S. eases Cuba embargo

Breaking News from the Rumor Desk: Fidel gravely ill due to “embolia” (embolism)

Via Babalu,
* Obama will allow Americans to use credit cards in Cuba
* Castro will continue to prohibit private businesses from accepting credit card payments

ECUADOR
Ecuador targets cartoonist as world rejects Paris attacks

EL SALVADOR
U.N.’s Ban Ki-Moon Worried by El Salvador Violence as Murders Soar

FALKLAND ISLANDS
Bronze bust of Margaret Thatcher unveiled in Port Stanley
A statue honouring former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who lead Britain to victory in the 1982 conflict to defend the islands the Falkland Islands, has been unveiled in Port Stanley.

HONDURAS
U.S. Seeks to Seize Properties Bought by Corrupt Honduran Officials

IMMIGRATION
CBO: ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS GRANTED EXECUTIVE AMNESTY WOULD BE ELIGIBLE FOR CERTAIN FEDERAL BENEFITS

México: las rutas de los migrantes que no pueden viajar en La Bestia

MEXICO
DECOMPOSING BODY OF MURDERED MEXICAN ACTRESS FOUND IN WATER TANK

Mexico’s Unemployment Drop Points to Labor Market Recovery
Unemployment In Mexico Last Month Was 3.8%

MEXICO PROVIDING BIRTH CERTIFICATES TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS IN U.S.

Losing marijuana business, Mexican cartels push heroin and meth

PANAMA
Obama to Meet With Cuban Dictator Raul Castro in Panama

PERU
Peru’s Entire Economy Is Threatened By Anchovies

Peru Currency Drops to Lowest Since 2009 After Surprise Rate Cut

PUERTO RICO
Google to Launch ‘Modular’ Smartphone
Google plans to launch a ‘modular’ smartphone in Puerto Rico, part of an audacious and risky effort by the Internet giant to upend the way mobile devices are designed, built and sold.

Sony to Withdraw from Puerto Rico after 25 Years, Web Site Says

URUGUAY
Uruguay Offshore Bidding Plans Hinge on Oil Recovery

VENEZUELA
Venezuelan Bishops Get Religion

Venezuela’s Bishops Have A Message For Pope Francis on Communism

Wow! Venezuela bishops tell Pope Francis the downside of socialism and communism

Report: Coup Plot Possible Against Socialist Venezuelan President. Not quite yet.

Venezuelan oil basket down to USD 39.19 per barrel

The week’s posts and podcast:
Argentina: Cristina’s corrupt deals with the Ayatollahs

Starting the day with Smart Diplomacy

Cuba: Effective Friday UPDATED

Charlie Hebdo: 5 million

Venezuela: Qatar gives a band-aid

Who’s publishing the new Charlie Hebdo cartoon? UPDATED

Cuba: Finally, the list of the 53 UPDATED

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Film: Boyhood

Cuba’s outdated Cold War mentality

Podcast



Cuba: What are the names of the 53 prisoners?

Monday, January 5th, 2015

On December 17, Pres. Obama read his Statement on Cuba Policy Changes. In it, he mentioned,

In addition to the return of Alan Gross and the release of our intelligence agent, we welcome Cuba’s decision to release a substantial number of prisoners whose cases were directly raised with the Cuban government by my team.

No specifics, just “a substantial number of prisoners.”

Later it was revealed by the White House that, out of the untold number of political prisoners in Cuba (where in 2014 the number of arrests totaled 8,012), 53 were to be released as part of the deal. As Jason Poblete points out,

The 53 are part of a deal that included impregnating (through artificial insemination by having his sperm collected at prison in the U.S. and then flown to Cuba at U.S. taxpayers’ expense) the wife of a spy serving two life sentences for murder. U.S. taxpayers also paid to fly the spy to Cuba, where he was received as a hero, and the U.S. government paid about $3.2 million to Alan Gross.

Following the Statement, I have been trying to find the list of the 53 names. I set out right away, even asking on Twitter after my (failed) initial search,

The names, as far as I could see, are nowhere to be found. I thought perhaps I could not find them due to the fact that I have very limited resources through which I can conduct research. However, none of the dozens of Latin American or Spanish news sources I constantly consult had any information at all on the names, which is very unusual.*

As it turns out, I am in good company:

Reuters reports,
In U.S.-Cuba prisoner swap, mystery surrounds the unnamed 53

Cuba’s most prominent dissidents say they have been kept in the dark by U.S. officials over a list of 53 political prisoners who will be released from jail as part of a deal to end decades of hostility between the United States and Cuba.

For years, dissident leaders have told the United States which opponents of Cuba’s communist government were being jailed or harassed, but they say they were not consulted when the list of prisoners to be freed was drawn up or even told who is on it.

The lack of information has stoked concern and frustration among the dissidents, who worry that the secret list is flawed and that genuine political prisoners who should be on it will be left to languish.

“We’re concerned because we don’t agree with the silence, because we have a right to know who they are. Who are they?” said Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White dissident group, which marches in Havana on Sundays to demand the release of prisoners.

“There are not just 53 political prisoners, there are more, and we are concerned that the U.S. list might have common criminals on it,” she told Reuters in Havana.

Reuters also brings up another interesting question, in view of Obama’s wording “a substantial number of prisoners whose cases were directly raised with the Cuban government by my team,”

It also is not clear if some prisoners were kept off the list because the Cuban government refused to release them.

Mary O’Grady is also asking, Where Are Cuba’s Political Prisoners?
Fifty-three of those jailed by the Castros were supposed to have been freed in the Obama deal.
She couldn’t even get an answer from the State Department:

I asked the State Department this last week. State referred me to the White House. White House officials declined to provide the list of names citing “concern that publicizing it would make it more difficult to ensure that Cuba follows through, and continues with further steps in the future.”

Bottom line: The U.S. government cannot confirm that they have been released and is not certain they’re going to be released, even though the three Cuban spies have already been returned.

O’Grady points out,

If Mr. Obama is serious about selling U.S.-Cuba detente, a little less obfuscation would be nice. The U.S. has not confirmed the identity of the intelligence asset who it says had been in a Cuban prison for nearly 20 years and was also traded for the Cuban spies. Mr. Obama said the Cuban, before his arrest, had supplied key information to the U.S. that led to the nabbing of those spies, as well as three others.

Press reports and intel experts I talked to say the “asset” is Rolando Sarraff. But a debate is raging in the intelligence community about whether Mr. Sarraff, who has not been heard from since his arrival on U.S. soil, is all he’s cracked up to be by Mr. Obama. Another possibility is that his résumé was embellished to cover up for what was essentially a trade of the convicted spies for Alan Gross, the U.S. Agency for International Development contractor who was arrested by Cuban state security in Havana in 2009.

Considering how the Communist regime has a history of touting the release of prisoners for propaganda purposes, this secrecy around the names of 53 people is extraordinary enough that, by now, my question is, is there a list?

The lack of transparency equals lack of accountability. Just what one would expect from the Obama administration.

* Note: Unusual enough that I can not recall a news item in ten years of blogging where two weeks’ research turned out nothing.

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!