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realclearworld

BREAKING: Alan Gross released from prison.

All major news outlets are reporting that Alan Gross has been released from prison with few details, except for that bastion of communist propaganda that is CNN:

Washington (CNN) -- U.S. contractor Alan Gross, held by the Cuban government since 2009, was freed Wednesday as part of a landmark deal with Cuba that paves the way for a major overhaul in U.S. policy toward the island, senior administration officials tell CNN.
President Obama is expected to announce Gross' release at noon.
Gross' "humanitarian" release by Cuba was accompanied by a separate spy swap, the officials said. Cuba also freed a U.S. intelligence source who has been jailed in Cuba for more than 20 years, although authorities did not identify that person for security reasons. The U.S. released three Cuban intelligence agents convicted of espionage in 2001.

So the Obama administration traded 3 spies implicated in the murder of US citizens for a humanitarian worker and an "unknown" intelligence source. Because bowing to communists and terrorists is what Obama and his cohorts do best.

This is a major setback for the opposition and dissident movements in Cuba. The Obama administration, by making this "deal", has confirmed that they are OK with the repression, brutality, incarceration, and murder the castro regime foists upon the opposition. And I will once again say what I have been saying since day one of this farce of a presidential administration, for the record: faced with the fact that he is, by far, the worst President this nation has ever seen, and with no true positive legacy, Obama is relying on the low hanging fruit of the Cuban embargo to placate the left. Look for President Executive Action to undermine codified US Cuba policy.

Obama is set to speak on this at noon today. Listen as the president tramples upon the rule of law, justice, the Cuban-American community and freedom loving Cubans on the island.

Update: Statement from Capital Hill Cubans:

For over five years, the Castro dictatorship has held American development worker, Alan Gross, as its hostage for helping the Cuban people connect to the Internet.

This shows the cruel extent to which the Castro dictatorship is willing to go in order to try to silence its own people.

With Gross' hostage-taking, the Castro dictatorship has sought to coerce the Obama Administration into releasing Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States and to unilaterally ease sanctions.

Today, this innocent American, who should have never been imprisoned in the first place, is returning home to his wife and daughters.

But sadly, rather than being released unconditionally, the Obama Administration has acquiesced to the Castro regime's coercion.

While we are relieved at the release of this American hostage today, there are 11 million Cubans that remain hostages of Castro's brutal regime. Moreover, repression in Cuba today is at a historic high.

In exchange for Gross' release, the Obama Administration will announce the release of three Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States for crimes, including a conspiracy to kill Americans.

Today, our hearts go out to the families of those young Americans, the pilots of the Brothers to the Rescue planes disintegrated in international waters by Cuban MIGs, who were murdered by the Castro regime with the help of these Cuban spies.

The Obama Administration will additionally announce that it will use its executive authority to ease a set of U.S. sanctions -- also in exchange for Gross' release.

As a result of these actions, the world today will be less safe.

Rogue regimes throughout the world will take note that you can take American hostages and will be rewarded with policy concessions.

Moreover, that rogue regimes can murder Americans, have U.S. courts and juries duly convict those involved -- and see justice aborted by a stroke of the President's pen.

UPDATE: Just as a stark reminder, here is the audio of the downing of the Brothers to the Rescue pilots, which the 3 Cuban spies being released are complicit in.

Update: DatechGuy is succinct:

Obama is trying to cement his legacy. Human rights be damned.

UPDATE:During Obama's remarks - which I confess I could barely stomach - he had the audacity of quoting Jose Marti. Yet with one glaring omission:

Obama stated "Liberty if the right of every man to be honest"

He left out the most important part:

"Liberty is the right of every man to be honest, TO THINK AND SPEAK WITHOUT HYPOCRISY."

Sometimes, what's not said is what rings loudest.

UPDATE:

JOIN US TONIGHT!

What: Come out tonight to show solidarity with members of the Cuban opposition visiting Miami!
When: 6:00pm
Where: FIU Law School, 11200 S.W. 8th Street, Miami, FL 33199

PRESIDENT OBAMA AND CUBA WITH JORGE PONCE AND MICHAEL PRADA

 

Here we go: The plundering of Cuba is about to begin…

download

Geez.  It didn't take very long.

Less than twelve hours after the present occupant of the White House announced his deal with Castrogonia, American relic hunters are itching to plunder the island.

All of the nifty pre-1959 relics preserved by Cubans are about to be snatched, most probably at a grossly unfair price.

Call them tomb raiders.  Call them relic hunters. Call them carpetbaggers.  Call them anything but principled.

Even conservative-leaning Fox News seems to be salivating.

There is so much neat stuff to be snapped up in Castrogonia.  Stuff left behind by the maggots (gusanos) who fled.

images

So, if you are a Cuban who left behind everything you and your family owned, forget about any compensation or reparations.

And, if you are a Cuban who stayed and worked hard to preserve relics from the pre-Castro past, get ready to be swindled.

Much like a gang-raped co-ed at the University of Virginia, God help you if you dare to complain.

You deserve the abuse.  You deserve to lose everything.  You are a selfish lout who left a wonderful utopia because you didn't want to share your stuff with the less fortunate.  Or you are an imbecile who chose to stay in a Third-World hellhole.

Get ready for looting that will make the Nazis look like slackers, as the Castro dynasty and their henchmen get ready for the windfall of their dreams.

They will charge their pound of flesh for these treasures, you know.

That is, if today's Executive Order manages to survive all challenges.

samples_december

From Fox News:

Cuba's million-dollar Mercedes-Benz

With normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba on the horizon, you can be sure there are plenty of treasure-hunting car enthusiasts chomping at the bit to head to Havana and bring back some souvenirs

Pre-revolution cars from the 1950s and earlier famously haunt the streets and alleys of the Caribbean nation, as new car-starved locals tirelessly try to keep them on the road as taxis and daily transport.

Among the plentiful Fords and Chevrolets are some rare, luxurious cars once owned by the many successful capitalists that fled the island after Fidel Castro came to power.

Finding them is a favorite pastime of many visitors, including photographer Piotr Degler, who recently set out to discover a million-dollar Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe supposedly left to rot by the side of a road under a banana tree.

Degler documented the search in his Carros de Cuba 2015 calendar, which features a dozen shots of cars and people he came across curated from the more than 25,000 he took on the trip. After journeying nearly 2,000 miles, and speaking to countless locals, he finally found the elusive Mercedes sitting there, half buried in rubbish, its doors ajar and body decayed.

Degler captured the moment, one that may not last much longer now that Cuba’s doors are set to open to America once again. Although it looks too far gone to be saved, if someone could manage to restore it, the car is literally worth a million dollars or more.

If you're not up for the challenge, or would prefer a picture of it just how it is, Degler’s large format calendars start at $80.

 

 

Capitol Hill reaction to Obama’s early Christmas gift to Cuba’s vile apartheid Castro dictatorship

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-RsSCXqxO8S4/Thbjk6qU22I/AAAAAAAAG0o/SFm-ZlUkTM4/s1600/Capitol+Hill+2.jpg

Reaction from Capitol Hill's Cuban American members after Christmas came early for the vile and repugnant apartheid dictatorship of the Castro brothers thanks to President Obama. Apparently, it pays to be naughty (and repressive, and murderous) when you're on Obama's gift list.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL):

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-toDIqUghQOE/UnqyIKEUjgI/AAAAAAAAC4c/yYOlzBdZW1s/s1600/download+(2).jpg“Although the freedom of Alan Gross is welcome news, it’s important to remember that Mr. Gross should have never been imprisoned in Cuba by the Castro regime in the first place. The manner in which the White House has negotiated this prisoner swap is a slap in the face to the families of the Brothers to the Rescue and poses a threat to our national security. President Obama has unilaterally released three convicted Cuban spies who were responsible for the deaths of three American citizens and one U.S. resident: Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre, Mario de la Peña, and Pablo Morales, whose planes were unjustly shot down over international waters on direct orders of the Castro brothers.

“Ever since Gross had been unjustly imprisoned, several high ranking Administration officials reiterated to Congress and to the American people that there was no equivalency between the Cuban Five and Alan Gross and reaffirmed that no swap would take place. Furthermore, this agreement between Obama and Castro leaves out one important aspect: the Cuban people. The reality is that since the Obama administration first eased restrictions, the situation on the island has gotten worse with an increased level of arbitrary detainments. The Castro dictatorship should be answering to its own people to whom it has denied basic rights for over five decades.

“The liberalization policies aimed at easing trade and remittances to Cuba is another propaganda coup for the Castro brothers, who will now fill their coffers with more money at the expense of the Cuban people. It is quite possible that this unilateral action by the President without Congressional consultation is in violation of the following U.S. laws: Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996, Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, and the Trading with the Enemy Act. The White House attempts to normalize relationships with Cuba without the approval of Congress may be in direct violation of Helms-Burton that specifically states that all political prisoners must be released and free and fair elections must be held before establishing a diplomatic relationship. This misguided action by President Obama will embolden the Castro regime to continue its illicit activities, trample on fundamental freedoms, and disregard democratic principles.”

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL):

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-huykb7tu5e8/UvKF30WNA9I/AAAAAAAA_w4/Xra9Z2Is8sU/s1600/MarioDiazBalar.jpg"Alan Gross should never have spent one day in prison and we are glad that he will finally be reunited with his family.  However, the way that his release was achieved is outrageous and proves that once again, President Obama is the Appeaser-in-Chief who is willing to provide unprecedented concessions to a brutal dictatorship that opposes U.S. interests at every opportunity.

“The three remaining Cuban spies who President Obama is releasing were convicted for spying on U.S. military installations, and one was convicted for his role in the shoot-down of an American civilian aircraft in international airspace, which murdered three innocent Americans and one U.S. resident.  Their early release is an egregious miscarriage of justice.  In addition, providing diplomatic relations and further weakening sanctions attempt to legitimize and provide hard currency to our hemisphere's worst human rights abuser.  President Obama's actions are an unconscionable betrayal of America's fundamental values and a profound insult to the oppressed Cuban people.

“The unjust imprisonment and inhumane treatment of Alan Gross demonstrates the utter depravity of the Castro regime, as well as the severe repression that has afflicted the Cuban people for decades.  President Obama's decision to allow the Castro regime to blackmail the United States and abandon our pro-democracy principles is an outrage.  These changes to policy will further embolden the Cuban dictatorship to continue brutalizing and oppressing its own people as well as other Anti-American dictatorship and terrorist organizations”

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL):

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-O27pjgEGC3A/T-uFiHWQaKI/AAAAAAAAJvI/KUp8H3AU_aA/s1600/marco-rubio.gif“Today’s announcement initiating a dramatic change in U.S. policy toward Cuba is just the latest in a long line of failed attempts by President Obama to appease rogue regimes at all cost.

“Like all Americans, I rejoice at the fact that Alan Gross will be able to return to his family after five years in captivity. Although he is supposedly being released on humanitarian grounds, his inclusion in a swap involving intelligence agents furthers the Cuban narrative about his work in Cuba. In contrast, the Cuban Five were spies operating against our nation on American soil. They were indicted and prosecuted in a court of law for the crimes of espionage and were linked to the murder of the humanitarian pilots of Brothers to the Rescue. There should be no equivalence between the two, and Gross should have been released unconditionally.

“The President’s decision to reward the Castro regime and begin the path toward the normalization of relations with Cuba is inexplicable. Cuba’s record is clear. Just as when President Eisenhower severed diplomatic relations with Cuba, the Castro family still controls the country, the economy and all levers of power. This administration’s attempts to loosen restrictions on travel in recent years have only served to benefit the regime. While business interests seeking to line their pockets, aided by the editorial page of The New York Times, have begun a significant campaign to paper over the facts about the regime in Havana, the reality is clear. Cuba, like Syria, Iran, and Sudan, remains a state sponsor of terrorism. It continues to actively work with regimes like North Korea to illegally traffic weapons in our hemisphere in violation of several United Nations Security Council Resolutions. It colludes with America’s enemies, near and far, to threaten us and everything we hold dear. But most importantly, the regime’s brutal treatment of the Cuban people has continued unabated. Dissidents are harassed, imprisoned and even killed. Access to information is restricted and controlled by the regime. That is why even more than just putting U.S. national security at risk, President Obama is letting down the Cuban people, who still yearn to be free."

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ):

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-2096KHRtcFM/UQXWQy2_VgI/AAAAAAAAGiQ/_W9vAri0iJU/s1600/Robert_Menendez,_official_Senate_photo.jpg“Today’s policy announcement is misguided and fails to understand the nature of the regime in Cuba that has exerted its authoritarian control over the Cuban people for 55 years. No one wishes that the reality in Cuba was more different than the Cuban people and Cuban-Americans that have fled the island in search of freedom. In November, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights & National Reconciliation (CCHR) documented 398 political arrests by the Castro regime. This brings the total number of political arrests during the first eleven months of this year to 8,410. This is a regime that imprisoned an American citizen for five years for distributing communications equipment on the island.  Releasing political prisoners today in Cuba is meaningless if tomorrow these individuals can be arrested again and denied the right to peacefully pursue change in their own country.

“It is a fallacy that Cuba will reform just because the American President believes that if he extends his hand in peace that the Castro brothers suddenly will unclench their fists. A majority of democratic activists on the island, including many that I have met with, have been explicit that they want the U.S. to become open to Cuba only when there is reciprocal movement by the Castro government.  They understand that the Castros will not accede to change in any other way.

“The United States has just thrown the Cuban regime an economic lifeline.  With the collapse of the Venezuelan economy, Cuba is losing its main benefactor, but will now receive the support of the United States, the greatest democracy in the world. This is a reward that a totalitarian regime does not deserve and this announcement only perpetuates the Castro regime’s decades of repression.

“Today’s regulatory changes, which are clearly intended to circumvent the intent and spirit of U.S. law and the U.S. Congress, present a false narrative about Cuba that suggests that the U.S., and not the regime, is responsible for their economic failure. Cuba’s economic struggles are 100 percent attributable to a half century of failed political and economic experiments that have suffocated Cuban entrepreneurs.  In Cuba, private business is controlled by the Cuban government, with the benefits flowing to the regime’s political and military leadership.  Cuba has had political and economic relations with most of the world, but companies choose not to engage because of political, economic and even criminal risks associated with investment on the island, as exhibited by the arbitrary arrests of foreign investors from Canada, England and Panama in recent years.

“To suggest that Cuba should be taken off the list of state sponsors of terrorism is alarming while Cuba harbors American fugitives, such as Joanne Chesimard, who is on the FBI’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists for murdering New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster and despite Cuba’s colluding with North Korea to smuggle jets, missile batteries, and arms through the Panama Canal."

U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ):

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-DtOFpc-h9AY/UPCal-wU3nI/AAAAAAAAcU8/w49VJNGVkbw/s1600/Albio+Sires+_.jpeg“What should be a joyous moment to celebrate the overdue homecoming of Alan Gross today has been marred by the actions undertaken by the Administration to secure his release.  The President’s announcement today detailing plans for a loosening of sanctions and initiating discussions to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba is naïve and disrespectful to the millions of Cubans that have lived under the Castro’s repressive regime; and the thousands of human rights defenders that have fought tirelessly and at times with their lives to bring about democratic change to Cuba.

"Any notion that the Administration’s engagement with Cuba will encourage a form of Cuban glasnost is a dangerous miscalculation. Cuba has not changed in 50 years and is unlikely to change if its repressive government is given more room to breathe.  In turn, the Administration has risked allowing the Cuban regime to continue its repressive policies towards the Cuban people as it has over the last half century.

"Now more than ever it will be incumbent upon the Cuban government to uphold the Inter-American Democratic Charter and respect the rule of law, human rights, freedoms of speech and assembly, and proceed with free and fair elections.  Moreover, while I may welcome the release of over 50 political prisoners, little has been said for the countless others that remain inside a Cuban prison or the fact that the same 50 plus prisoners freed today could very well be imprisoned again tomorrow for exercising the same human rights of free speech that unjustly placed them inside prison the first time.

"I am disappointed in the actions taken by the President today.  However, it is Congress that must and will ultimately decide if and when the sanctions against Cuba will be lifted.”

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX):

https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/3396959978/e4a57f152c58effe0df43affb2e27ab8.jpeg“We rejoice that Alan Gross’ wrongful imprisonment by the brutal Castro regime has finally come to an end, and that he will be able to spend the holidays with his loved ones. But make no mistake, although we are glad Alan is now free, the agreement the Obama Administration has entered into with the Castro regime has done nothing to resolve the underlying problem. Indeed, it has made it worse.

“Fidel and Raul Castro have just received both international legitimacy and a badly-needed economic lifeline from President Obama.  But they remain in control of a totalitarian police state modeled on their old state sponsor, the Soviet Union.  Their government can continue to detain individuals like Alan Gross indefinitely without process—as the many political prisoners still languishing in the Castros’ prisons can attest.  They retain their close, long-standing ties with hostile nations, notably Russia, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela.  They will continue their support for terrorist organizations from FARC to Hezbollah and Hamas.

“The President spoke today about a new era for relations between American and the Cuban people, but these circumstances do not bode well for either.  We have seen how previous Obama administration attempts at rapprochement with rogue regimes like Russia and Iran have worked out, with our influence diminished and our enemies emboldened.  Now they are revisiting this same disastrous policy with the Castros, blind to the fact that they are being played by brutal dictators whose only goal is maintaining power.  And if history be our guide, the Castros will exploit that power to undermine America and oppress the Cuban people. First Russia, then Iran, now Cuba – this is one more very, very bad deal brokered by the Obama Administration.”

Reports from Cuba: The privilege of living in Cuba

By Cederistin Dominguez in Translating Cuba:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_2lQM-HZBCKw/TRuvk4NcOeI/AAAAAAAAAGc/qh5sq6akIM0/s1600/pioneros.jpg
The Privilege of Living in Cuba

14ymedio, CEDERISTIN DOMINGUEZ, 10 December 2014 — The independent press that usually criticizes the Cuban government using human rights as a pretext should come out into the street today, December 10. Our children, especially those in primary school, will be playing, jumping and doing pirouettes in all Havana’s main plazas. Representatives from the United Nations, the foreign press and especially the national press will enjoy a great time there, watching the carnival of happiness and color that the children will give them spontaneously and voluntarily.

How do I know? Well, because I have lived in Cuba my whole life, and I know our children, and they are very prone to playing on the tenth of December… Why this day? Well, I don’t know, the truth is that now that you ask me it is a little strange. . . It’s cold, it rains and it is a school day.

What I do know is that it coincidentally matches the world day of human rights and at least our children will not be bored in cages learning mathematics, physics or Spanish. After all, we are barbarians in all that.

But while I do not “cover the sun with a finger,” I also criticize what is badly done. For example, a very pretty activity that they should do more often with the children is acts of repudiation. The last time my boy told me that an old lady almost died while they were dragging her son and that they crushed a pile of people. Those things are very important so that children learn to behave and don’t turn out later to be like those vulgar youth who are rather critical of Raul.

Over there, those strange countries have even prohibited parties and governments from using children for politics. And they call that democracy? Here there is democracy and how. Check it out, even the newborns and fetuses, although they are unaware of their own existences, are already defending the revolution on the national news.

That is what our enemies will not pardon us for. The traitors are determined only to see the little specks in the eye, no different from the whole world’s, and from that they make a huge problem. So what if those children, when they grow up, will not be able to elect their own government, so what if they earn a laughable salary, so what if half of them by age 25 will no longer be here (having gone into exile), so what if they are expelled from their universities or their jobs if they think differently, they will not be able to associate or meet or access the internet, yadda yadda. The same old song as always… The good thing is that the people are aware that all that is false.

Look, why don’t they talk about the beauty of the choreography that the children are doing? Much more open and improvised than that of the Chinese or North Korean children. Here each child throws a ball, jumps or laughs when he feels like it… That is a the painful truth, but of course, that is not what they see… What interests them is all that bunch of nonsense that the neighbors from the north and the Europeans have put in their heads. That’s why we suspended the meeting that we had planned for these days with those evil freaks.

Okay, I am going to grab my raincoat and go out for a walk because today for sure they will sell sweet cookies in the street, and I have to take advantage…

Translated by MLK

As Babalu predicted: Pope Francis is given credit for today’s bad news

vatican-kerry-400x266

We're not clairvoyants or prophets.  We just deal with the facts.

Eleven months ago, when Secretary of State John Kerry visited the Vatican, a Babalu post asked: "Will Pope Francis Bring About the Release of Alan Gross?"

Here's a quote from that post:

How's this for a scenario?:  Pope Francis gets Alan Gross freed in exchange for the four Castro spies, and, on top of that, orchestrates the restoration of US/Castro diplomatic ties, along with the lifting of the embargo.  And it will all make Obama look so righteous and compassionate rather than weak, all because of the glow lent to the whole deal by Pope Francis's halo.

Such speculation is not far-fetched.

Well, guess what?  Unfortunately, today's events have proven that such speculation was in fact correct.

Yeah. The "embargo" has not been lifted yet.... but the current occupant of the White House has turned the circumventing of congress into a rare art form. Just wait.

Hate to say "I told you so."  Those moments always involve a most exquisite and intolerable kind of pain.

APTOPIX Italy Pope Epiphany

From Breitbart:

 WHITE HOUSE: POPE FRANCIS PLAYED KEY ROLE IN CUBA NEGOTIATIONS

Pope Francis and the Vatican were involved in the negotiations with Cuba, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters on background.

“Pope Francis personally issued an appeal thorough a letter that he sent to President Obama and to President Raul Castro, calling on them to resolve the case of Alan Gross and the cases of the three Cubans who have been imprisoned here in the United States and also encouraging the United States and Cuba to pursue a closer relationship,” the official noted.

The Vatican also hosted the United States and Cuban delegations to discuss the political exchange of prisoners and “improving their relationship” going forward.

In March, President Obama spoke about Cuba with Pope Francis during his visit to the Vatican and has continued to work with the Vatican during the process.

According to an administration official, Pope Francis was “aware” that Obama was considering a change in the policy against Cuba and reached out to the president. The official noted that the personal appeal was a “very rare” occurrence with the administration which lent “greater momentum” to the negotiations.

“The support of Pope Francis and the support of the Vatican was important to us,” a Senior Administration official explained, pointing to the pontiff’s history with Latin America.
The Obama administration also informed Pope Francis of the big diplomatic step between the two countries.

“The Vatican welcomed that news,” the official noted.

wink

If the New York Times really cared about the Cuban people…

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

If The New York Times Really Cared About Cuban "Entrepreneurs" and "Reformists"...

Yesterday, The New York Times published its seventh editorial criticizing U.S. policy, while whitewashing Cuba's totalitarian dictatorship.

As we noted, this latest editorial was particularly discombobulated.

Amid his trademark contradictions, misrepresentations and omissions, NYT editorial writer Ernesto Londoño argues that lifting U.S. sanctions would help Cuba's "entrepreneurs."

Of course, he provides no facts -- or evidence -- of how exactly that would happen.

Even worse, Londoño doesn't practice what he preaches.

For example, he raves about Cuba's "small business, such as bed-and-breakfasts."

These are known in Cuba as "casas particulares"

However, if Londoño really wanted to help Cuba's "entrepreneurs" -- why didn't he stay at a "casa particular" during his recent two-week trip to Cuba?

Instead, he stayed at the 5-star, luxurious Hotel Saratoga, owned by the Cuban military -- and under the watchful eye of Castro's secret police.

This is also were insensitive celebrities like Jay Z, Beyonce and Naomi Cambell party in Havana.

As an additional nugget, a minority stake in Hotel Saratoga that was owned by its developers, Britain's Coral Capital, was recently confiscated and its executives arbitrarily imprisoned for almost two-years.

(Read about Coral Capital's ordeal here.)

But there's another lingering question from his latest editorial.

He talks in abstract terms about the "old-guard" vs. "reformists" in Cuba.

Once again, he doesn't define who these are -- other than to suggest that among the "reformists" are some "leading economists."

So let's add some facts.

Cuba's so-called "old-guard" is the powerful 14-member military junta that controls the island with an iron-fist.

The "reformists" are apparently some powerless economists that Londoño met during his trip.

(Note how he altogether skips "democrats" as a category -- meaning those courageously fighting for democracy in Cuba.)

Londoño believes -- again, abstractly -- that lifting U.S. sanctions would help these "reformists"

Yet, all foreign trade and investment in Cuba -- according to Castro's 1976 Constitution -- must be transacted with the "old-guard's" monopolies.

So how would funneling billions upon billions of dollars in U.S. trade, tourism and investment through the "old-guard" help the "reformists"?

It doesn't.

To the contrary -- it would put the "reformists" at an even greater disadvantage -- not to mention Cuba's "democrats."

(Another fact that Londoño overlooks is that the most successful transitions of the 20th century were those where the "democrats" have prevailed -- i.e. Czech Republic, Estonia -- not those where so-called "reformists" prevail -- i.e. Russia, Romania. But we'll leave that for another post.)

Get ready. This is going to be a hellish day.

alg-fidel-raul-castro-jpg

Ganamos! (We won!)

The current occupant of the White House will make a major announcement on live television at noon.

At the very same time, King Raul I of Castrogonia will make a major announcement of his own in Havana.

The Associated Press (Granma Lite) reports:

WASHINGTON (AP) — American officials say the U.S. and Cuba will start talks to normalize full diplomatic relations as part of the most significant shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island in decades.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said the agreement includes normalizing banking and trade ties with Cuba.

munch_scream

 

Fidel Castro’s Perfect Peace Prize

Our good friend Jay Nordlinger in National Review:

Fidel Castro’s Perfect Peace Prize

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8f7HjPmvRLo/URwWfmtcUcI/AAAAAAAAItM/rWf4PqmIO2g/s1600/confucius.jpgThe Chinese Communists have something in common with the Nazis and the Soviets. Well, many things, but I’m thinking of one in particular: Piqued at the Norwegian Nobel Committee, they created a peace prize of their own.

In 1936, the Nobel committee gave its prize to Carl von Ossietzky, a political prisoner of the Nazis. (The award was for 1935, but determined and announced in 1936.) Hitler not only created his own awards. He forbade German citizens to accept Nobels — not just the peace prize, but any Nobel.

Stalin was the next one to be displeased. He was not winning the Nobel prize, and neither were other Communists. In response, he created the Stalin Peace Prize — more formally, the Stalin Prize for Strengthening Peace among Peoples.

Later, when Khrushchev was taking Stalin’s name off things, he took it off this prize, too: It became the Lenin Prize for . . .

In 2010, the Norwegian Nobel Committee did something remarkable: They gave their prize to a Chinese political prisoner, Liu Xiaobo. For more than 60 years, the committee had passed over Chinese dissidents. Beijing had always warned them they had better not honor a Chinese. But, lo, they did.

And the Chinese Communists, like the Nazis and the Soviets, created their own honor: the Confucius Peace Prize. Among its first recipients was Putin.

The latest recipient is Fidel Castro, as you can read here.

In a sense, he is the perfect recipient of the award: the gift of a Communist dictatorship to a Communist dictator. Recently, I was writing about the relationship between the Chinese and Castro: Find the article here.

Also, if you’re in a book-reading mood, and interested in the Nobel Peace Prize, here is Peace, They Say, my history of the prize.

The Nobel committee awarded a Chinese dissident in 2010. Will they ever award a Cuban? That would rock the place, I think — rock the island. (Oslo, too, for that matter, but that’s another story.) For the last 55 years, there have been many Cubans who deserved to win the prize: Armando Valladares, for one; Dr. Biscet, for another.

Juan Carlos González Leiva, for another. He is a blind dissident and ex-prisoner, a man of tremendous courage (like these others). He was in America recently but has now returned to Cuba. I have an interview with him in the current National Review.

Years ago, Valladares told me, “If the Cuban dictatorship were right-wing instead of left-wing, we would have won two or three Nobel prizes already.” I believe that is true.

I also believe that Castro and the Confucius prize go together perfectly. The Chinese Communists imprison, torture, and kill great men and women. Castro and his brother and their comrades imprison, torture, and kill great men and women.

Let them award one another . . .

Yes, Venezuela could collapse if oil keeps dropping

 

Reports from Cuba: Choreography of an interrogation

By Victor Ariel Gonzalez in Translating Cuba:

Choreography of an Interrogation

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“Sit down!” ordered ‘Number One.’

“I’m comfortable like this, thanks,” I responded.

14ymedio, VICTOR ARIEL GONZALEZ, Havana, 12 December 2014 — “But you didn’t come here to be comfortable,” he concluded, and for once we were in agreement on something, Number One and I: I was not comfortable. It was Human Rights Day, which in Cuba is a sad date, and a mob of agents dressed in civilian clothes had arrested me together with other journalists as well as dozens of independent activists.

I was taken by force from the bus on which I was returning to the editorial office after taking photographs in the middle of Vedado, and also stripped of my mobile phone from which they also erased information. They put me into a patrol car that was parked at the corner of 21 and L, where they transferred me to bus full of uniformed police officers at the park at 21 and H. From there, accompanied again by plainclothes agents, they took me in a private car and I came to stop at the Aguilera station, an old barracks from the Batista police era.

Obviously, no one feels comfortable if they are trounced like that. During my trip to the Aguilera cells they held me without handcuffing me, maybe hoping for some violent reaction on my part so they could beat me up right there or later insinuate that I am one of them and therefore “they were treating me well.” That’s how these State Security guys work, mine also spoke of “accidents” that have happened because of not handcuffing arrestees. “What I am committing is a violation of procedure,” said the man next to me, in the rear seat of the Greely. True: It is a violation that unknown perpetrators kidnap a free citizen.

Returning to the scene of the interrogation, here I am next to a couple of henchmen who shared that December 10 with me. I will describe them: ‘Number One’ is older and calls himself Javier. His supposed position as lieutenant colonel was let drop by ‘Number Two,’ who had earlier identified himself as “Captain Ricardo” and is quite a bit younger.

When they brought me up to the interrogation rooms, Number Two was waiting for me, and his intervention started badly. He called me a “spoiled little boy” and “frustrated engineer.” Number One then arrived, authoritarian and even more unpleasant, his head polished by a splendid shave. “Sit down!” had been almost his first words directed to me, because the beginning phase of the choreography of the interrogation was intimidation or the attempt to establish authority.

Seeing that I would only be allowed to speak when they wanted me to, I tried to remain quiet most of the time. I wanted them to end their diatribe as soon as possible. One told me, among other things, to learn “to listen” and drop the “stobbornness” – he meant to say “stubbornness.” Number Two insisted, “You have problems, you have problems, you have problems.” The choreography was in phase two: informative-educational.

In that part of the dance Number One left the room, then entered to interrupt Number Two and then left again. The third act was when Number One interrupted his subordinate again, I don’t remember much of his discourse, and he said from the open door in a paternal and severe tone: “Your brother . . . came looking for you,” concluding with “We’re going to free you soon.”

Before describing the choreography’s fourth act, that of the threat, I find it imperative to clarify something about these guys: It is well for them to know that they do not have to “free” me, simply because I am already free. Freedom, more than walking around on a slave island and in a dilapidated city that individuals like my interrogators police and terrorize, is a state of grace.

They are less free than I because they obey orders, and because they feel the need to arrest someone who thinks differently in order to try to demonstrate that they are stronger. But it is easy to see that they are scared to death, because when they display their little borrowed power – in this country the powerful really are not they, but their bosses – they only demonstrate how startled they are that a little group of peaceful people like me think and express themselves differently.

Watch out for fear, officers, it cuts both ways. The act threat act in your interrogation served to reaffirm my conviction that there will be no going back. You will be able to threaten me and my family, but I will keep writing while I have the means.

Really, you have left me no other option. I only hope that by the next choreography you will have rehearsed your macabre dance a little more and studied the script better.

Translated by MLK

Cuba’s Alan Gross Stew

Garrincha in Martí Noticias:

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"This stew has gotten a bit sour. Do we have anything else we can add in?

"We have some USAID rappers blood sausages."

"Throw it in!"

Cuba’s largest export is the sale of enslaved doctors – but ‘slave’ is such a harsh word

Although it walks and quacks like a duck, Newsweek just can't bring itself to admit it is a duck. Mountains of evidence detailed in this article prove Cuba's apartheid Castro dictatorship is engaged in the slave trade, selling enslaved doctors to the highest bidder. Nevertheless, they just can't bring themselves to admit and call it what it really is.

To Fight Ebola, Cuba Is Sending Its Biggest Export - Doctors

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“They were trying to get us to do the best job we could. We were told that this is very good income for the country,” said a Cuban doctor we’ll call Dr. Jose Suarez, describing instructions from his government as he prepared, five years ago, to leave Cuba for Venezuela. There he was to join up in his nation’s most prestigious, most successful and most lucrative enterprise: its physician-export industry.

Along with his wife and children, Suarez now lives in New York, having defected to the United States in 2009. He asked that his real name and personal details not be used, fearing that family members back on the island would suffer retaliation.

Cuba’s export of medical professionals has gained the Communist country much praise, including most recently from the island’s neighbor and nemesis, the United States, where top officials have praised Cuba’s response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. The Cuban contingent of medical professionals sent to the epidemic’s hot zone was larger than any other country’s.

Suarez’s story suggests a nuanced picture behind those international accolades, in which these doctors, who bravely combat diseases and treat the poor around the world, are treated as an instrument of the state.

[...]

Last July the general director of Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Commerce and Investment, Dagmar González Grau, told Havana’s Popular Assembly that 64,362 Cuban professionals were sent by the state to serve in 91 countries. Three in four of those professionals are in the health sector, González Grau said, according to Trabajadores, a state-run newspaper.

The government, she added, expects those professionals to bring in $8.2 billion in 2014. By those figures, the Cuban government could be earning as much as $6.15 billion from its exportation of doctors alone.

These proceeds far exceed any other Cuban enterprise, with tourism lagging well behind in second place. Sales of Cuban staples like cigars, rum and guayabera shirts are not even close. The sugarcane industry, the pride of the country during the Cold War (though it was heavily subsidized by the Soviet Union), is no longer profitable.

Read all of the damning (but not so damning - let's not go crazy here and use such harsh language and risk denigrating all the wonderful and beautiful things Castro's revolution has done) article HERE.

Reports from Cuba’s Venezuela: The Phantom of Miraflores

Via Venezuela News & Views:

The Phantom of Miraflores

http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/ws/304/amz/worldservice/live/assets/images/2013/03/08/130308050207_venezuelan_military_304x171_afp.jpgThere is no doubt about it, not only Maduro is in denial but he has a plan. That the plan is written by Cubans willing to gamble on outright repression is inconsequential. That the plan has any chance of success is beyond the point. That chavismo itself will not support it is the least of his worries.

Floating, falling, sweet intoxication

Right now all indicators are in free fall.

The black market has reached 178 yesterday and there is no sign whatsoever that the slide will stop. Certainly not as long as the regime clings to a fictitious 6.3 that only people well connected may access (I suppose like those in the van caught yesterday in Puerto Cabello with around 10 million USD in cold cash).

From the oil front news are getting worse. The Brent has reached a 5 years low and some predict an oil barrel at 43USD!!!!!

And even though the regime hides the best it can its statistics the advanced numbers by serious observers predict now a 3 digit inflation for next year, and Barclay's says that GDP will contract 4.4% this year and 6.2% next year.

In this darkness that you know you cannot fight

There are more concrete indicators that suggest things are going downhill fast.

Coffin production has decreased because there is no stuff to build them coffins. What? Let's hope that there is enough fuel oil for incineration.

Telecom services will go up next year. "because we do not want G4 network to be only for the elites". Stuff like that cannot be made up... I would, personally, settle for a G3 working, for at least one in two mobile calls going through.

Our main food producer, Polar, keeps being under constant attack. It was accused of not producing all the corn flour needed, by no one else but the chavista head of the Polar Union. Unfortunately he did not bother to check that Polar was processing all the corn it could get and it certainly was not its fault that there was no more corn available. That has not stopped organizations like "Juventud Obrera de la Central Bolivariana de Trabajadores" (Young Unskilled Labor of Bolivarian Workers Central Union?) led by a certain Gerdul Guttierez (Gerdul?) to demand more inspections even though at the same time they acknoweldge that they have nothing on Polar...

Turn your face away from the garish light of day
Turn your thoughts away from cold unfeeling light

So what is Maduro doing from Miraflores Palace? Nothing. Well, nothing besides insulting people right and left and looking for scapegoats. Any scapegoat will suffice at this point.

Continue reading HERE.

Tweet of the Day – CIA agents in Cuba

By Cuban dissident and independent journalist Yusnaby Perez:


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Here you have a CIA agent pushing ideological confusion on this helpless noble child.