Posts Tagged ‘Fausta’s blog’

Film: Boyhood

Friday, January 16th, 2015

My son recommended #BoyhoodMovie; it ‘s close to being the near-perfect Great American Movie of all time.

Read my review here.



Starting the day with Smart Diplomacy

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Lurch brought a friend to Paris:

Some of the reaction:

John Podhoretz

May God help us. Our secretary of state brought James Taylor with him to Paris and had Taylor sing “You’ve Got a Friend.” THIS HAPPENED. I want to escape America in a balloon.

Cuba: Effective Friday UPDATED

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

What this country doesn’t need is a good $2 Cuban cigar.

Alberto de la Cruz predicted it, Obama may release his new Cuba sanctions policy tomorrow against the apartheid Castro regime

Today, the Administration announces new regulations for Cuba travel, trade

Here’s the White House Statement by the Press Secretary on the Publication of Regulatory Changes regarding Cuba (emphasis added)

Last month, President Obama announced historic changes to our Cuba policy, beginning the process of normalization between our countries, and announcing his commitment to ease restrictions on American citizens and businesses. Today, the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Commerce took a significant step forward in delivering on the President’s new direction by publishing regulatory amendments to existing Cuba sanctions. These changes will immediately enable the American people to provide more resources to empower the Cuban population to become less dependent upon the state-driven economy, and help facilitate our growing relationship with the Cuban people.

We firmly believe that allowing increased travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba will allow the United States to better advance our interests and improve the lives of ordinary Cubans. The policy of the past has not worked for over 50 years, and we believe that the best way to support our interests and our values is through openness rather than isolation. The United States remains committed to our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a more prosperous Cuba that respects the universal rights of all its citizens.

So, no, not effective Friday, effective immediately? The NYT says

a set of new regulations to take effect on Friday easing decades-old restrictions on travel, business and remittances

so let’s not split hairs over the date; after all, everyone knew something like this was coming.

UPDATE:
Read it and weep, Fact Sheet: U.S. Department Of Commerce and U.S Department Of The Treasury Announcement Of Regulatory Amendments To The Cuba Sanctions

Venezuela: Qatar gives a band-aid

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

No specifics, though:
Qatar Helps Venezuela Weather Oil Crisis
Venezuela Will Receive ‘Several Billion Dollars’ in Financing From Qatari banks, President Nicolás Maduro said, as Opposition Members Criticized the Leader’s Economic Stewardship.

“They’re giving us enough oxygen to cover the fall in crude prices,” he said in remarks carried on Venezuelan state television.

An untold amount, in an untold date, by unnamed banks.

Sounds like a deal!

Meanwhile, Venezuelan authorities are doing what they do best:
Over 1.5 Million Diapers Seized from Venezuela Warehouse

A government raid on a warehouse in western Venezuela has resulted in the confiscation of more than 1.5 million diapers along with over 360 tons of detergent and thousands of pounds of food which were being illegally hoarded.

Venezuelan Vice President Jorge Arreaza said on state television Monday that during the raid, 1,523,776 diapers, 360 tons of detergent powder, as well as conditioners, razors and towels, were found.

In the warehouse, situated in Zulia province, there were also 15,000 units with thousands of liters (gallons) of infant milk substitute, 17,076 kilograms (37,646 pounds) of beans, 11,176 liters (2,952 gallons) of milk, 40,250 kilograms (88,736 pounds) of maize flour and 30,000 kilograms (66,139 pounds) of rice, Arreaza said.

They also found sanitary napkins, shampoos of different brands, soap powder, toothpastes, batteries, napkins, food supplements, milk powder, salsas and pet food.

No band-aids there.

And people who photograph the long lines and empty shelves are sent to jail.

Juan Cristobal Nagel posted videos of folks Overcoming capitalist savagery at Farmatodo Bella Vista:

Who’s publishing the new Charlie Hebdo cartoon? UPDATED

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Buzzfeed has the list:
Here’s Who Is And Isn’t Publishing The New Charlie Hebdo Cover Image
Libération, the newspaper where Charlie Hebdo staff have been working since the attack, unveiled the cover of the magazine’s next edition on Monday. Some news outlets have been censoring themselves when it comes to publishing cartoons of Muhammad after the deadly Paris attack last week.

UPDATE:
My initial reaction to the “Tout est pardonné” (all is forgiven) was “Rien n’est pardonné” (nothing is forgiven). Ace’s Laura looks at what it really means.



Cuba: Finally, the list of the 53 UPDATED

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

UPDATE, January 16,
Castro Re-Arrests Cuban Dissidents From the List of 53

—————————–

Marc Masferrer explains, on Facebook,

For more than nine years, I have tried to make my blog a repository of information, in English, about Cuban political prisoners. It rarely is an easy task — it’s not like the Cuban government provides an up-to-date list — but a major goal of my blogging has been to report the prisoners’ names and their stories so that they, and their captors, know they are not forgotten.

I wish the release of 53 political prisoners was a more joyful moment, that maybe I could retire this function of my blog. But there is nothing in recent developments that suggests that the released prisoners’ places in the Castro gulag won’t later be filled by others. And then there are those prisoners who apparently didn’t make the list of 53.

Here is Marc’s list with links; I cannot emphasize enough that these are not the only political prisoners in Cuba:

1. Alcibiades Guerra Marín

2. Alexander Fernández Rico

3. Alexander Otero Rodríguez

4. Alexeis Vargas Martín

5. Ángel Figueredo Castellón

6. Ángel Yunier Remón Arzuaga

7. Anoy Almeida Pérez

8. Aracelio Ribeaux Noa

9. Bianko Vargas Martín

10. Carlos Manuel Figueredo Álvarez

11. César Andrés Sánchez Pérez

12. Daniel Enrique Quesada Chaveco

13. David Bustamante Rodríguez

14. David Piloto Barceló

15. Diango Vargas Martín

16. Eider Frometa Allen

17. Eliso Castillo González

18. Emilio Plana Robert

19. Enrique Figuerola Miranda

20. Ernesto Riverí Gascón

21. Ernesto Tamayo Guerra

22. Eugenio Hernández Hernández 

23. Haydée Gallardo Salázar

24. Iván Fernández Depestre

25. Jorge Cervantes García

26. Jorge Ramírez Calderón

27. José Leiva Díaz

28. José Lino Ascencio López

29. José M. Rodríguez Navarro

30. Juan Carlos Vásquez Osoria

31. Juliet Michelena Díaz

32. Julio César Vegas Santiesteban

33. Lázaro Romero Hurtado

34. Leonardo Paumier Ramírez

35. Luis Enrique Labrador Díaz

36. Madeline Lazara Caraballo Betancourt

37. Marcelino Abreu Bonora

38. Mario Alberto Hernández Leiva

39. Miguel Alberto Ulloa

40. Miguel Ángel Tamayo Frías

41. Miguel Guerra Astie

42. Ramón Alejandro Muñoz

43. Reiner Mulet Levis

44. Roberto Hernández Barrio

45. Rolando Reyes Rabanal

46. Ruberlandis Maine Villalón

47. Rubisney Villavicencio Figueredo

48. Sonia Garro Alfonso

49. Vladimir Morera Bacallao

50. Vladimir Ortiz Suárez

51. Wilberto Parada Milán

52. Yohanne Arce Sarmientos

53. Yordenis Mendoza Cobas

When Will Cuba’s Remaining Political Prisoners be Released?

Why didn’t it release the list on December 17th?

Here are a few clues:

The list includes over a dozen prisoners who were released prior to the December 17th announcement, such as Sonia Garro, Ramon Alejandro Munoz, Eugenio Hernandez Hernandez, Juliet Muechelena Diaz Vladimir Morera Bacallao, Alcibiades Guerra Marin, Eider Frometa Allen, Madeline Lazara Caraballo Betancourt, Jorge Cervantes García, Juan Carlos Vasquez Osoria and Niorvis Rivera Guerra.

The Administration insists that they were also part of the Obama-Castro deal. Of course, since they kept the list secret all this time, we’ll never know. So much for accountability and transparency.

One of the prisoners on the list, who was also released prior to December 17th, Marcelino Abreu Bonora, had been out of prison since October 24th. He was then re-arrested on December 26th (after the Obama-Castro deal), brutally beaten (click here to see evidence) and kept in a punishment cell for nearly two weeks before being re-released on January 7th.

Abreu Bonora’s case proves how fungible and fickle this deal is.

What’s clear is that the Obama Administration didn’t want to travel to Havana next week for further talks, while questions lingered about the unknown fate of these 53 prisoners.

Thus, after sitting on their hands for four weeks, they ratcheted the pressure on the Castro regime. Imagine that, pressure works.

Or they simply got creative with the list.

(Additionally, most of the political prisoners were released on the “condition” they don’t renew their democracy activism — or face re-arrest — while many were at the tail-end of their sentences.)

But wait! There’s more!
Expelled Castro spy most likely to lead talks with U.S. in Cuba. Details at Cuba Confidential:

The Cuban delegation is expected to be led by Josefina Vidal, director of the North American Affairs Division within Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Vidal led the previous round of migration talks last July in Washington, D.C. A member of the Communist Party of Cuba’s Central Committee, Vidal was thrown out of the US in May 2003 as part of a mass expulsion of Havana’s spy-diplomats. For five years, her office also played a central role in the negotiations regarding the return of USAID contractor Alan Gross.

Charlie Hebdo’s next: 1,000,000 copies

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Charlie Hebdo to Publish One Million Copies of Next Issue
Other Media Companies, Google Fund to Help Cover Cost of Giant Print Run

Charlie Hebdo—known for its satirical critique of all forms of authority, be it religion, government or the military—plans a shorter version of the next issue on Wednesday, with eight pages instead of the usual 16, said the magazine’s lawyer, Richard Malka.

However, he said it would publish one million copies. Charlie Hebdo normally sells about 30,000 copies a week.

Other media companies, including Le Monde and Vivendi SA ’s Canal Plus , among others, have offered to help pay for the giant run, he said. Roughly €250,000 ($300,000) will come from a fund Google Inc. set up two years ago to settle a copyright fight with French newspapers, the fund’s director said.

I applaud this decision.

Let’s make sure they get bulletproof glass and the staff and their bodyguards are trained and issued with firearms.

Bonus:
These Are The Charlie Hebdo Cartoons That Terrorists Thought Were Worth Killing Over



France: Massacre on #CharlieHebdo

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

la-vie-de-mahomet-charlie-hebdo

French satire weekly Charlie Hebdo has been attacked by Muslims again, this time killing twelve people, including two policemen, and wounding twenty more.

Livefeed at France24

This was a well-planned, premeditated attack.

Will talk about this on Silvio Canto’s podcast live at 9AM Eastern.

Prior posts on Charlie Hebdo here.

(more…)

The first 2015 Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, January 5th, 2015

ARGENTINA
Argentina Now Freer to Bargain with Holdout Creditors. Argentina will rather go down paying millions to their lawyers than to their creditors.

The Argentinian Harry Reid? Argentine leader Fernandez cancels travel after ankle injury

BOLIVIA
Sky transport of Bolivia: no congestion, quicker trips to work
A $234m cable car route linking La Paz and El Alto is offering clean, affordable transport to people in both cities – and great views

Bolivia Has Highest Foreign Reserves in Latin America

BRAZIL
5 Brazilian habits Americans will never understand

[Sound starts right away] Watch: Plane bursts tyre at Rio de Janeiro airport and continues to gate
American Airlines plane carrying approximately 200 people bursts a tyre upon landing at Rio de Janeiro airport but drives forward to gate

CHILE
Children stolen by Chile regime come to light

COLOMBIA
In Colombia, a palm oil boom with roots in conflict

CUBA
Cuba’s Vested Interest in Discrediting CIA Spy Rolando Sarraf Trujillo

In Cuba, harassment of U.S. diplomats even extends to their pets. Will that now change? Nope.

Nylons for nothing in Cuba

Odds & Ends from Miami: Cuba, Post Script

ECUADOR
Ecuador’s Correa to Visit China

Gas Ovens Take the Heat for Ecuador’s Flagging Economy
Induction Cookers the Touted Cure in Tax Overhaul to Close 2014

IMMIGRATION
MOST ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS CAUGHT AT BORDER NON-MEXICAN AND ADULT

JAMAICA
Former Warrenton mayor behind Jamaican bobsled team dies

MEXICO
Juan Garcia Abrego, the man who ran the Gulf Cartel from the 1980’s until 1996: LEGENDARY MEXICAN CARTEL BOSS FIGHTING FOR U.S. CITIZENSHIP

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Northern-Va-Yoga-Teacher-Hari-Simran-Missing-in-Mexico-287306811.html

NICARAGUA

Ortega’s government has granted Wang, among many other sweeping powers, the ability to expropriate land along the canal route, which may affect as many as thirty thousand Nicaraguan property owners. It appears likely that Wang will also be able to seize the autonomous territories of the black Creoles and indigenous Sumo and Rama Indians, which were granted to them by the Nicaraguan Constitution of 1987.

Doubts over ambitious Nicaragua canal project grow as work gets underway. About the only ones to gain would be the Chinese, IF the Chinese government is involved – and even that is not clear at this point.

Would Augusto Sandino Support the Canal for Nicaragua?
Opponents Invoke the National Hero but Ignore His Nuance

PANAMA
Panama Canal Consortium Wins $233 Million for Cost Overruns

PARAGUAY
Paraguayan Leftist Guerrillas Free Brazilian Hostage

PERU
Peru Finishes 2014 with 3.22% Inflation Rate

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico’s appeal in tax dispute is “baseless”-Doral

URUGUAY
Uruguay’s anti-tobacco law spurs black market in cigarettes

VENEZUELA
Jackson Diehl: Obama is overlooking deep trouble in Venezuela

New Year’s Wishes for Venezuela

There are reasonable options but no one cares

Maduro demands respect from the US
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he demanded respect from the US during an encounter with American Vice-President Joe Biden in Brazil.

Venezuela recession confirmed as Maduro attacks US ‘oil war’

And Their Ice Cream, Too

The week’s posts:
Cuba: What are the names of the 53 prisoners?

Saturday night tango

Venezuela: Biden asks for release of political prisoners

Brazil: Dilma’s shaky inaugural

Why the coyotes were right

Happy 2015!

Mexico: Wal-Mart bodegas

Venezuela: Kidnappings and extorsion prior to jailings

Arguing with idiots about #Cuba

About that Nicaragua Canal . . . UPDATED

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Were taxes an issue in the 2014 midterm election?

The top Latin American story of 2014



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.