Posts Tagged ‘Robert Menendez’

Cuba: Why is the US Chamber of Commerce chief visiting?

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Because they bought hook, line and sinker the propaganda bs:
U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief visits Cuba (emphasis added)

The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a group of American business executives visited a cooperative here Wednesday to become acquainted with the new forms of non-state management being pushed in Communist Cuba.

And,

Almost a year ago the service cooperatives began operating in Cuba, a novel iniative in a country that during five decades of ongoing revolution had only allowed that management formula to be applied in the agricultural sector.

So, five decades of Communist coops later, the agricultural sector continues to be in ruins. And Thomas Donohue hasn’t figured that yet?

Along with Donohue, Marcel Smits, the chief financial officer of Minnesota-based agribusiness giant Cargill, is there ” to assess the island’s business climate.”

Tweet of the Day: What Private Enterprise?

By Cuban democracy leader, Ailer Gonzalez Mena:The President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce praises the expansion of private enterprise in Cuba. What private enterprise? Castro’s no?

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) called it “shameful that a group like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would choose to visit the island gulag of Cuba where the tyrants owe billions of dollars to the private sector all over the world.”

Alberto de la Cruz points out,

There are two simple yet very important requirements for doing business with Cuba’s apartheid Castro dictatorship: 1) All business agreements have to be made with the Castro regime and all monies from that business must go through them, and 2) You are required to actively and consistently parrot, regurgitate, and disseminate Castro-communist propaganda. Furthermore, neither of these two requirements are negotiable and any prospective investor looking to do business in Cuba has only two options; they either comply fully with the demands or they must forgo doing any business in Cuba.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donahue is fully aware of these requirements and seems to have no issue complying with them.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) describes the hostile environment in Cuba, in a letter to Donohue, naming businessmen the regime has incarcerated:

While the Cuban government may be undertaking cosmetic changes in an attempt to attract badly-needed foreign investment and revive an economy that has suffered from a half-century of chronic mismanagement, I believe it is imperative to detail the frequently hostile operating environment that international business leaders have encountered in Cuba. The case of British businessman Stephen Purvis of Coral Capital is an irrefutable reminder of the ongoing risk faced by foreign businesses working in the country. Although Coral Capital was one of the largest private investors in Cuba – working closely with the Cuban government to renovate the Saratoga Hotel and develop the Bellomonte Country Club – the government eventually turned on Mr. Purvis, accused him of espionage and breaches of financial law, seized all of his assets, and imprisoned him for 16 months prior to his release in July 2013.

It is important to emphasize that Mr. Purvis’ misfortune is hardly uncommon. Canadian citizen, Cy Tokmakjian, President and CEO of the Tomakjian Group, has languished in a Cuban prison for nearly three years and still awaits trial. After providing the Cuban government with transportation, mining and construction equipment for several years, Mr. Tokmakjian was jailed in September 2011. The Cuban government seized his personal assets and those of his business, but never formally charged him with any wrongdoing. These examples are a clear indication of the complete lack of protection for foreign investment in Cuba, and should serve as a sharp warning for any company, including any U.S. business group, studying conditions in the country.

And let’s not forget working conditions in the island-prison

Furthermore, I am deeply concerned about the U.S Chamber of Commerce’s willingness to seek out a relationship with a regime that is in constant violation of international labor rights. More specifically, the Cuban government’s labor and employment practices are in direct violation of International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions on freedom of association, collective bargaining, discrimination, the protection of wages, and the abolition of forced labor. Regrettably, Cuba’s recent foreign investment law makes no efforts to bring the country’s poor labor conditions into accordance with international standards and, therefore, bears a paradoxical implication – it proposes beneficial changes for the state but ultimately ignores the benefits of the people.

Donohue says

his agenda was unhindered by the Cuban authorities and he was confident he was getting a “fair look” at Cuba

Yeah, right.

I wonder if Donohue is fluent in Spanish (looking at the above photo he seems to be traveling with an interpreter), and, if not, is he allowed to bring his own interpreter. Or is he allowed only a Cuban government-approved interpreter – for which he is billed? How much is he billed for the interpreter? How much is the interpreter actually paid?

The only certain thing coming out of this trip is that the oppression of the Cuban people will continue.


Bob Menendez on the Venezuelan nightmare

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Senator Bob Menendez, D-NJ, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, writes about The Venezuelan nightmare (emphasis added)

Venezuela’s alleged socialist paradise has morphed into a verifiable real-life nightmare.
At a time when many countries in the Americas are experiencing an economic ascent underpinned by growing middle classes, every indicator reveals that Venezuela is regressing at an alarming rate.

Bread shortage frustrates Venezuelans Venezuela’s ‘erosion of Democratic order’

Frightening levels of criminal violence are coupled with economic freefall, punctuated by sky-high inflation and a scarcity of basic food items.

In Venezuela today, the rule of law is abandoned, the judiciary is hollowed out, freedom of the press is nonexistent, and corruption runs rampant. Drug traffickers collude regularly with government officials and the free flow of narcotics out of the country poses a threat to hemispheric security, as well as to the United States.

Read the whole thing.

In fact, Venezuela’s Dictatorship No Longer Cares About Appearances.

Silvio Canto and I touched on the subject in yesterday’s podcast.

As if things weren’t bad enough, there’s a potable water shortage.

CNN has more on Venezuela:


Cuba: Alan Gross on hunger strike

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Very bad news:
Alan P. Gross, the American who’s been in prison for over four years, has started a hunger strike.

Gross, 63, had already lost over 100lbs and has a large lump growing on his back, which under the “excellent free healthcare” Cubans endure are considered “chronic illnesses that are typical of his age.” He said in a statement (h/t Babalu)

that he was frustrated by the continued lack of effort by the U.S. government to orchestrate his release.

“I am fasting to object to mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments, not only regarding their shared responsibility for my arbitrary detention, but also because of the lack of any reasonable or valid effort to resolve this shameful ordeal,” Gross said in a statement released by his attorney. “Once again, I am calling on President Obama to get personally involved in ending this stand-off so that I can return home to my wife and daughters.”

In practical terms, the Cuban government is holding Gross hostage over the release of the Cuban Five, men convicted in federal court on espionage charges. Two of the men have been released from prison and returned to Cuba.

Sen. Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke about Gross on the Senate floor,

“And the clock is ticking for Alan Gross. On December 4th, 2009, Alan Gross, a private sub-contractor for the U.S. government, working to bring information to the Cuban people, was arrested in Cuba. Mr. Gross is a 64-year old development professional who worked in dozens of countries around the world with programs to help people get access to basic information.

“Since 2009, he has been detained in Villa Marista – a prison in Havana notorious for its treatment of political prisoners by the Cuban National Security Agency. This is not a minimum security prison where foreigners are routinely held. It is a harsh, repressive prison –reserved for Cuban dissidents.

“He is still being held at Villa Marista, and so I come to the floor to urge my colleagues – indeed, to urge the Administration – to do all it can to free Mr. Gross, and keep pressure on the Castro regime.

“After serving four years of a 15 year sentence, this 64 year old American’s mental health is reported to be deteriorating and his life may well be in danger.

“The case of Alan Gross is only one example of why we cannot let up until the dead weight of this oppressive regime is lifted – once and for all — from the backs of 11 million Cubans living on that island nation, isolated from the world.”

Gross’ situation is desperate.

Related:
A Cuban immigrant to Ecuador attempted suicide when denied entry.

Castro’s “Murder, Inc.”

UPDATE:
Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!

Argentina: Burning down the house

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Hold tight wait till the party’s over
Hold tight
We’re in for nasty weather

Argentina Warehouse Blaze Kills Nine Firefighters
The Argentine government launched an investigation into a fire that killed nine firefighters and destroyed a warehouse that stored banking and corporate documents here on Wednesday.

Investigators are looking into why the “substantial fire-prevention system” failed to control the blaze, which injured at least seven others, said Security Secretary Sergio Berni.

9 die in fire destroying Argentine bank archives

The destroyed archives included documents stored for Argentine corporations and banks, said Buenos Aires security minister Guillermo Montenegro.

Dear IMF,

We would really love to show you the documents and records of how wonderfully our economy is doing, and specifically my keen grasp of economic reality and policy, but unfortunately we can’t

Robert Menendez and Marco Rubio, Two leading US Senators anticipate an economic crisis in Argentina, soon
The current Argentine economic situation reached the US Capitol during the hearings to consider President Obama’s nomination for future ambassador in Buenos Aires, and what was said was not encouraging.

No respect shown by Obama for Argentina; but don’t worry, the new American ambassador’s going to fit right in with the ambassadors to Norway, China, and Hungary:
Obama nominee for ambassador to Argentina says he’s NEVER been to the country
– Noah Mamet bundled at least $1 million in campaign donations to President Obama’s two presidential election campaigns, and now he’s in line to be the U.S. ambassador to Argentina
– When Sen. Marco Rubio asked him during his confirmation hearing if he had ever visited the South American country, he admitted that he hadn’t
– Last month the Obama nominee for a similar post in Norway demonstrated a lack of knowledge about that nation’s political structure and said he had never been there
– Newly minted ambassador Max Baucus, now headed to Beijing, freely admitted in his own hearing that he’s ‘no real expert on China’
– The new ambassador to Hungary is a soap opera producer and prolific Democratic fundraiser who couldn’t tell senators what America’s strategic interests are in that country

Sing it, fellas!

The question the media should be asking about Menendez

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Capital Hill Cubans points out,

the State and Justice Departments have already denied Correa’s extradition request of the Isaias brothers on six occasions starting in 2004.

Oops.

The State and Justice Departments officially denied Correa’s extradition requests of the Isaias brothers in 2004, 2009, three times in 2010, and most recently in June 2013.

In each of these denials, the State and Justice Departments noted how Ecuador’s allegations against the Isaias brothers do not meet the minimum legally-required standard of “probable cause” to even merit consideration of extradition.

Moreover, that Ecuador has not provided any evidence whatsoever against the Isaias brothers for the accusations that the New York television station takes at face-value.

Finally, Menendez is not the only Member of Congress that has expressed concern about the fate of the Isaias brothers.

There have been nearly a dozen other Members of Congress who have similarly (and rightfully) expressed concern.

And asks,

So why is Menendez being singled-out and targeted?

Isn’t it curious that all of these smears against Menendez began when it first appeared that he would take the helm of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee?

So who is afraid of Bob Menendez?

Perhaps that’s a question the media should begin asking.

My prior post here.

Who is to gain from smearing Robert Menendez?

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Long-time readers of this blog know that I have not written favorably about the senior senator from New Jersey in the past.

This new story, however, has the fetid odor of a smear campaign:
Feds reportedly looking into Robert Menendez for allegedly helping fugitive bankers. The “fugitive bankers” are Ecuadorian brothers William and Roberto Isaías, who fled Ecuador ten years ago after the government allegedly confiscated media outlets they owned which were critical of the government. They are here legally.

The Isaías brothers

have a variety of real estate and oil holdings in the United States, and recently acquired to broadcast rights of CNN Latino. They have also created a network of private schools, according to Andes, Ecuador’s state news agency.

Now NBC NY is echoing the accusations the Ecuadorian government made against the brothers, charges for which Ecuador has provided no evidence,

The ambassador recommended the Isaias brothers be kicked out of the United States. But to date, the Justice Department says Ecuador’s government, which has been at odds with the U.S. in recent years, has not provided enough evidence to warrant extradition.

Ecuador has seized many of the Isaias brothers’ assets in that country. But so far, a court in Florida has rejected Ecuador’s efforts to seize assets inside the U.S.

Based on unnamed sources, NBC says that

the FBI is looking into why the New Jersey Democrat contacted a high-ranking official at the Department of Homeland Security in April 2012 to ask him to give “full consideration” and “expedite” its review of the case of William and Roberto Isaias, who are seeking permanent residence in the U.S. The report said Menendez also made calls to the Department of State about the brothers.

And Ricardo Patino, Ecuador’s chancellor, has said he thinks campaign donations to American politicians have helped the brothers stay in the country.

Let’s ponder that for a moment: The Correa regime thinks something, so NBC NY runs a story on it?

The same NBC whose talking heads support immigration amnesty?

There remains the Melgen investigation. A grand jury in Florida already found no basis for the prostitution allegations; the remaining investigation should be concluded and not dragged unnecessarily.

But this new story is flimsy indeed. Members of Congress routinely hear from their constituents on a variety of issues, and, going by the article, Menendez does not appear to have done anything inappropriate.

Menendez said that he had not heard anything from federal authorities.

Menendez, a member of Congressional Human Rights Caucus, has been a staunch supporter of human rights, meeting with dissidents, and consistently opposing lifting the travel ban on Cuba, “a regime that denies its own people basic human rights,”

He’s consistently shown vigorous support for the State of Israel against Hamas in Gaza, and supports international sanctions against the Iranian nuclear program – the sanctions that Ecuador and Venezuela attempt to help Iran avoid.

So, let’s ask, who gains from smearing Menendez? Who is to gain from having Menendez removed as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations?

UPDATE:
Ecuadorians Deny Making Improper Contributions to Sen. Menendez

Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!


Colombia: mayor trouble

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

It’s “yankee go home” unless it serves the purposes of the Left, in which case Jim McGovern and Robert Menendez are welcome to intervene.

Read about the whole sorry mess where McGovern and Menendez are interceding for now-fired mayor of Bogota and former M-19 terrorist guerrilla Gustavo Petro, of all people at
Yankee Neocolonialism Returns to Colombia
Two congressional Democrats meddle in the affairs of a U.S. ally.

Yoani Sanchez meets Marco Rubio

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

In Washington, Yoani Sánchez speaks with senators, Obama aide

Sánchez, 37, met at the White House with presidential advisor for the Western Hemisphere Ricardo Zúñiga. And earlier she had held a meeting with Cuban-American U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

Sánchez wanted to clearly describe the difficulties the internal opposition faces, including the consistent harassment from the Cuban government.

Her agenda included a visit to the State Department in the afternoon to pick up her 2011 International Women of Courage Award, an honor she won in absentia two years ago. The award recognizes her commitment to integrity and the defense of human rights.

She later visited Georgetown University to speak at a forum with students and academics.

Sánchez said the meeting with the U.S. senators was positive and also highlighted the spirit of opening, despite the fact that she has expressed her opposition to the embargo the United States has maintained since 1962.

“We talked about relevant issues, of course, the support, the help and solidarity we can have from abroad,” said Sánchez, founder of the blog Generación Y. She added that there was also a touch of typical Cuban humor.” She said jokingly that she had invited the senators to have coffee “on the 14th floor of my Yugoslav-style building, where I hope someday they can go visit.”

In a different article, the Guardian points out,

Sanchez, whose attempts to travel abroad have been rejected more than 20 times in the past five years, is currently on an 80-day tour across Europe, Latin America and the United States

Yesterday, also in Congress, House Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere: Joint Statement on Cuban Government’s Continued Human Rights Abuses, Babalu has the post.


The Pope Francis Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, March 18th, 2013

LatinAmerWelcome to the Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean. This week’s big story: Pope Francis, the first Latin American Pope.

ARGENTINA
Behind the Campaign to Smear the Pope
Argentines who want their country to be the next Venezuela see Francis as an obstacle.

Francis

Pope Francis appears for first angelus
Pope Francis appeared before more than 100,000 people massed in St Peter’s Square on Sunday for his first Angelus prayer and asked the faithful to pray for him.

Muchas gracias for a ‘triple first’ of a Pope

Popes and Dopes
Some journalists are remarkably ignorant–or at least think their readers are.

Vatican denies Dirty War allegations
The Vatican has denied that Pope Francis failed to speak out against human rights abuses during military rule in his native Argentina.

Video: Will Pope Francis go left on economics?

Jaime Bayly on the Pope (in Spanish)

BOLIVIA
Earth to Evo Morales

BRAZIL
Brazil’s oil royalties
Counting the barrels

CENTRAL AMERICA
Presidential elections in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama

CHILE
Exhumation of Pablo Neruda’s remains set for 8 April
A court in Chile has set a date for the exhumation of the remains of the Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, as part of an inquest into his death.

National Science Foundation Celebrates Inauguration of Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile

COLOMBIA
Colombia’s Peace Process Sans Chávez

CUBA
In First U.S. Trip, Cuban Dissident Yoani Sanchez Vows To Turn Up The Heat

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Report Grand Jury Investigating Robert Menendez

ECUADOR
Ecuador preacher sentenced for homophobic comments
The former Ecuadorean presidential candidate Nelson Zavala has had his political rights suspended for a year and been fined for homophobic comments.

FALKLAND ISLANDS
The Falklands referendum
Loud and clear
The islanders seek to sway world opinion by voting to stay British

British Media Focus on Bergoglio’s Falklands Remarks

This Map Helps Explain the Falklands Dust-Up

HONDURAS
Chicken and avocado stuffed naan

MEXICO
Chavez’s legacy is worse than Calderon’s

Spicy, Spicy

Mexico’s Education Breakthrough
Why February 2013 may be remembered as a turning point for Mexican schools.

PANAMA
FERIA INTERNACIONAL DE DAVID 2013

PUERTO RICO
Contrary to prior reports, Paulson Not Planning a Move to Puerto Rico

VENEZUELA
Body of Chavez makes final journey
The body of Venezuela’s late president Hugo Chavez is being escorted to its resting place in a Caracas museum.
For now, that is.

Chavez madcap wake

Venezuela says permanently embalming Hugo Chávez’s body faces ‘technical’ difficulties

Latin America after Chávez

The Narrative of the Dead

Lukoil learns the hard way

ROS-LEHTINEN: Venezuela after Chavez: What comes next?
U.S. dithering won’t encourage democracy

The week’s posts and podcasts:
Yoani Sanchez in NYC

Crazy in Venezuela

At BlogHer, Francis I: The First Latin American Pope

Pope Francis I loves tango

BREAKING: New Pope elected – an Argentinian porteño

Falklands: The votes are in, but Cristina can’t believe it

Hugo’s mummy

Podcasts:
Silvio Canto’s

Willie Lawson’s


Melgen-Menendez-Noriega?

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Breitbart has the story:
The Manuel Noriega Connection to the Family Behind the Melgen-Menendez Dominican Port Security Deal

But fret not. Everybody’s in a frazzle because government spending’s going to increase only by 8.9%.