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Reports from Cuba: Pot with missing cord doesn’t come with a guarantee

By Regina Coyula in Translating Cuba:

Pot With Missing Cord Doesn’t Come With a Guarantee

Tiendas Panamericanas [Panamerican Stores], owned by the CIMEX corporation, has just launched a grand (for Cuban national standards) shopping center. Utilizing the building formerly occupied by the old towel factory, Telva, on the corner of 26th Avenue and Calzada del Cerro street, a side addition was built, doubling the space. The opening of Puentes Grandes has been well received, being that until now only small stores have existed in that neighborhood, and the closest shopping centers — La Puntilla, Galerias Paseo, and Plaza Carlos III — are located about two miles away.

Spurred by curiosity, I visited Puentes Grandes last Saturday. Hundreds of people had flocked to the place. There was a line at the handbag security station, because bags and purses are not allowed inside stores that take convertible currency. There was another line at the entrance. We were going on half an hour already. In other circumstances I would have left, but resisted the impulse just to be able to write this article. Finally, I went through a narrow entryway where, as always, are those who wait, and those other, clever ones who butt the line. The interior entrance is quite spacious, with metal shopping carts, and other cute small plastic carts on wheels for which I predict a brief, happy life, and baskets. All is set up for the customer to select his purchases; merchandise is kept behind the counter in the perfume and household appliance departments.

A large interior arcade connects the grocery and housewares area with the hardware department, where I was detained by an employee. To go from one area to the other, you have to now go outside and re-enter, even though just days before you could walk directly between departments and check out at any register. Why is this? The employee doesn’t know, but he was assigned there to enforce the trajectory. I had placed various items in my cart, then had to stand at the register line, go outside, stand in another line to leave my purchases at the handbag security station, then go stand in another line to enter the hardware area.

Among my purchases was a pressure cooker — a Columbian one. I don’t know whatever happened to those marvelous pressure cookers from the INPUD factory of the city of Santa Clara, which for a while now have not been on the market. At the exit of every Cuban store there is always an employee who compares purchases to sales slips

Employee: “You’re missing the guarantee for the pressure cooker.”

Me: “And where do I get that?”

Employee: “In Household Appliances.”

Back at Household Appliances, the young (all the employees are very young) lady told me “no,” in that overly-familiar, faux-affectionate way that many mistake for kindness:

“Mami (Mom), do you see a power cord in this pot? My department is *electrical* household appliances. The guarantee is given at the register.”

The check-out girl assured me that she had no guarantee certificates at the register, that it was at Household Appliances where I had to obtain one. Continue reading Reports from Cuba: Pot with missing cord doesn’t come with a guarantee

Blind Cuban Dissident Exposes Brutality of Castro Regime to UN Human Rights Council


Keeping in mind that Castrogonia has a seat in the United Nations Human Rights Council, this speech seems nearly miraculous.

I wonder if there is any film available of the Castrogonian delegation squirming in their seats?   Or -- as is more likely -- of their empty seats, since they probably boycotted the speech?

Speculations aside, it is nonetheless infuriating to observe that after hearing or reading this chilling testimony no one seems to be taking steps to have the Castronoids removed from this Council.


From the Directorio Democratico Cubano, translation via  Capitol Hill Cubans:

The Speech the Castro Regime Did Not Want Anyone to Hear

United Nations Human Rights Council
September 15, 2014

My name is Juan Carlos González Leiva. I've spent 20 years as a blind lawyer defending human rights, suffering beatings, arbitrary arrests and organized mobs. From March 4, 2002 to April 26, 2004, I was detained in the Police Center of Pedernales, Holguín, without trial, for celebrating a congress about human rights. There, they systematically sprayed chemical substances over me that burned my skin and occasioned hallucinations, strong headaches and allergies.

I was confined without access to the press, telephone, correspondence, or religious assistance. Murderous prisoners threatened me and prevented me from sleeping night and day. In my cell were left exposed electric cables with current.

Human rights defenders in my country are victims of a constant policy of repression.

For example: In 2014 I was beaten together with 10 activists in the street. Agents dislocated my left leg and right shoulder and I lost consciousness when they applied a choke hold. Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez”and his wife Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera were arrested, beaten and transferred to the local police headquarters where Antúnez was placed in a choke hold losing consciousness several times and was injected by state security agents with an unknown substance. His home was invaded and sacked.

Other activists arbitrarily detained and beaten were: José Daniel Ferrer García, Yusmila Reina Ferrera, Geobanis Izaguirre Hernández and Ernesto Ortiz Betancourt.

I ask the United Nations protection for me and all the activists inside Cuba because soon I will return to my country to continue defending human rights.

(Courtesy of the Cuban Democratic Directorate.)

Reports from Cuba’s Venezuela: Les fraudeurs

Juan Cristobal Nagel in Caracas Chronicles:

Les fraudeurs

Monsieur Pigasse

Yesterday we learned – via the increasingly indispensable Marianna Párraga – that PDVSA is selling the refinery it owns in the US Virgin Islands. This comes on the heels of the almost certain sale of Citgo, as well as other assets overseas.

Whether the reason for these privatizations is a lack of cash, a way of escaping from the claws of justice, or a little bit of both is not what’s important. The obscurity with which these transactions are being carried out is simply outrageous – no due process, no public discussion on the matter, no public tenders … nothing.

Remember, the people in charge now are the same people who tore their garments when CANTV and Viasa were privatized via an immaculate public tender process back in the early 90s.

As this latest scandal continues to unfold, and we are forced to learn about it via international news agencies, over and over again one name keeps propping up: the investment firm Lazard.

Who are these guys? Well, they are an investment bank. Apparently the connection to PDVSA is via one Matthieu Pigasse, high-end financial celebrity and a ranking member of the caviar gauche, the high society French left wing. Pigasse has been involved with both the Argentine and the Ecuadorean government debt negotiations, and is a frequent guest of both Presidents. His firm was also involved in making millions off of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.

This company is slimier than a plate of escargots, but you don’t have to trust me on that – you can read it in the tell-all book!

In all of the stories about Lazard’s involvement with PDVSA, not once has the term “public tender” come up. How did Lazard end up as the underwriters to the fleecing of Venezuela? How much commission are they charging? Who ever said they were the right firm for the job? Hell, not even chavistas like them! Even Jorge Giordani warned us about the mysterious “French” consultants.

As the old saying goes, if it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a French investment banking firm at the center of a massive web of corruption.

I have to hand it to the Lazard folks. Many people have gutted Venezuela in the last few years, and a few lucky ones continue gutting it, right to the last drop. But few are doing it so surreptitiously and so stylishly as you guys.

The very long arm of Cuba’s ‘Cultural Exchanges’

Garrincha in El Nuevo Herald:

“Embargo” update: China sends U.S.-made spy equipment to Castrogonia


As China continues to cozy up to Castrogonia and its Latrine American cartel, further proof emerges of espionage-related dirty deals.

Both China and Russia see Castrogonia as a useful outpost for their expansionism.

The latest  Chinese-Castronoid hijinks involve electronic equipment and a violation of the "Embargo."

But no one should expect the current U.S. government to increase sanctions for such venial sins when far greater sins elsewhere around the globe are ignored.

Let's see what kind of lame reprimand this latest provocation elicits from Washington.


From the Washington Free Beacon:

Chinese Telecom Firm With Military Links Ships U.S. Equipment to Cuba

Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company linked to the People’s Liberation Army provided U.S.-origin equipment to Cuba in apparent violation of U.S. economic sanctions on the communist-ruled island.

U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports said the equipment included U.S.-made modems, routers, and switches for telecommunications networks.

The transfer took place within the past two months and was reported by the U.S. Southern Command, the military command with responsibility for Latin and South America in internal channels, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

One official said the transfer violated U.S. economic sanctions imposed on Cuba and that the transfer is under investigation by the Commerce Department....

....Huawei, a global network equipment manufacturer based in Shenzhen, China, has been identified by the Pentagon in reports to Congress as one of several companies that maintain close ties to the People's Liberation Army.

Along with two other firms, Huawei, “with their ties to the [Chinese] government and PLA entities, pose potential challenges in the blurring lines between commercial and government/military-associated entities,” the 2012 report said.

Huawei also was identified by the U.S. government as posing a cyber espionage risk. A House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report in 2012 warned U.S. businesses not to use equipment made by Huawei and another firm, ZTE, over concerns the gear can be used by China’s government to conduct cyber espionage.

Whole story HERE.


The Cubanization of Venezuela: Cuba’s puppet dictatorship denies existence of mysterious viral outbreak

The same wondrous and miraculous healthcare system in Cuba that is consistently crippled by third-world epidemics like dengue and cholera is now infecting their colony Venezuela. And just like Cuba, they are denying anything is wrong in Venezuela.

Frances Martel in Breitbart:

Venezuelan Government Dismisses Existence of Deadly Illness apparent viral disease causing fever and skin rashes has taken the lives of ten in Venezuela, according to hospital officials. While doctors have ruled out both Ebola and Chikungunya fever, they remain stumped as to what is causing the illness.

According to El Universal, the nation's largest newspaper, the virus has hit hardest in the northern state of Aragua, where eight people died last week. Maracay's Central Hospital in the region declared a "state of alarm," noting that the disease could be either viral or bacterial, but tests have not confirmed its identity. Of the initial eight victims, half were children, all who died less than 72 hours after being admitted to the hospital. One of the ten victims died not in Aragua, but in the capital, Caracas.

All had similar symptoms: fever, "general discomfort," and rashes. Local10 news also described the symptoms, quoting Venezuelan medical officials, as: "symptoms of fever and spots on the skin, and then produces large blisters and internal and external bleeding... then, very quickly, patients suffer from respiratory failure, liver failure and kidney failure."

While the fever and rashes caused many to be concerned that the west African Ebola virus had somehow spread to South America, doctors ruled out the possibility through testing.

Complicating matters more, the government of Venezuela is denying the existence of the illness in its entirety. Governor of Aragua Tareck al Aissami, along with President Nicolás Maduro's press secretary, Delcy Rodríguez, have referred to the disease as a "media disinformation campaign" used to "dishearten the people," according to BBC. Another government spokesperson described the disease as a "disinformation and terrorism campaign," refusing to acknowledge medical professionals' calls for further investigation.

Doctors have demanded the government acknowledge their alarm on the situation. Douglas León Natera, the president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation, described the situation as "total alarm" and held the government directly responsible: "there is absolute silence on the part of sanitation authorities of the state, which I understand to mean they know absolutely nothing, because the people in charge of these offices are not doctors and do not know about public health."

Venezuela's socialist government has left it bereft of many basic hospital needs, creating a state in which any public health disaster would be an existential threat to the government's health care system. Heavily dependent on Cuba's fledgling medical program for personnel, Venezuelans' lack of everything from latex gloves to hospital gowns has created a surge in emergency procedures like amputations, and debts with drug companies have made it increasingly difficult to acquire basic medicines.

Quote of the Day – Sean Penn’s daughter has fond memories of meeting Cuba’s murderous apartheid dictator, Fidel Castro

We all know the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Now we know that in the case of Sean Penn's daughter Dylan Penn, neither does the turd fall far from the a**hole.

Via Gossip Cop:
"When I was 14, in Cuba, I met Fidel Castro with my dad, and it was really impressive."

Hostage Alan Gross Update: $60 million lawsuit against U.S. government back on track?

Jailed American Alan Gross, center,  poses for a photo with Rabbi Elie Abadie, right, and U.S. lawyer James L.Berenthal

Alan Gross, center, poses for a photo with Rabbi Elie Abadie, right, and U.S. lawyer James L.Berenthal

Long-suffering Castro hostage Alan Gross and his family continue to flail against the great injustice of his imprisonment in Castrogonia.

Unable to lash out against those who are really responsible for his plight -- the Castro regime -- they have sued the U.S. government.

Their lawsuit was dismissed by one court, but they have appealed and now they have another turn at arguing their case.

This sad and most depressing spectacle continues to get sadder with each passing day as Castrogonia shamelessly holds on to Gross as a bargaining chip and the Obama administration eases sanctions on the criminals responsible for his plight.

From Fox News Lateeeeeen-oh

Lawsuit against U.S. by American contractor jailed in Cuba heads back to court

WASHINGTON (AP) – An attorney for a Maryland man who has spent over four years imprisoned in Cuba will argue before a federal appeals court that he should be allowed to sue the U.S. government over his imprisonment.

An attorney for Alan Gross, who was working in Cuba on a government contract when he was arrested in 2009, was expected to appear Friday before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. A lower-court judge threw out the lawsuit against the government in 2013, saying federal law bars lawsuits against the government based on injuries suffered in foreign countries, but Gross' lawyers appealed.

Gross was detained while working to set up Internet access as a subcontractor for the U.S. government's U.S. Agency for International Development, which promotes democracy in Cuba. It was his fifth trip to Cuba to work with Jewish communities on setting up Internet access that bypassed local censorship. Cuba considers USAID's programs illegal attempts by the U.S. to undermine its government, and Gross was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

In 2012, Gross sued the government and the contractor he was working for, Maryland-based Development Alternatives Inc., for $60 million, saying they failed to give him adequate training and warnings before he undertook the risky assignment. The lawsuit did not say how much each party should pay or how Gross' attorneys arrived at the $60 million figure.

Gross said in court in Cuba that he was a "trusting fool" who was "duped," though documents filed in the case show he was aware his work in Cuba was dangerous.

"This is very risky business in no uncertain terms," he wrote in one report on his work, and a 2012 AP investigation also found he was using sensitive technology typically available only to governments.

The Gross family settled with Development Alternatives Inc. for an undisclosed amount in May 2013.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg threw out the lawsuit against the U.S. government that same month. That decision led to Friday's appeals court hearing, during which Gross' lawyer and the government will each have 10 minutes to argue their sides of the case.

The ‘Rift’ Cannot Be Good for US Military Morale


Cayman Islands continues pushing desperate escaped slaves from Cuba back out to shark-infested seas

The humanity and compassion of the Cayman Islands' government is boundless.

Via Cayman27:
Migrants come and go as solution sought

A Cayman delegation led by Deputy Governor Franz Manderson is in Havana, Cuba today (18 September). Mr. Manderson is meeting with his counterparts there to update the countries’ current agreement on dealing with illegal migrants.

Meanwhile, the latest group of undocumented migrants to enter our waters have left Cayman Brac.

Staying only a few hours the group of 20 Cubans were first seen off Spot Bay around 11:00 a.m. but left the sister isle  around 4:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon.

Immigration officials confirmed the group of 18 men and 2 women decided to continue their journey to Honduras after being anchored off Scott’s Dock in West End for around three hours.

Cuba: Imprisoned independent labor leader in critical condition

I would ask where are America's labor unions in defense of this Cuban labor leader, but apparently they are too busy attending events to free murderous Castro spies.

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Vladimir Morera Bacallao

Imprisoned Cuban Labor Leader in Critical Condition

Independent labor leader, Vladimir Morera Bacallao, is in critical condition pursuant to over 90 days on a hunger strike protesting his unjust imprisonment.

In November 2013, Morera Bacallao was sentenced to eight years in prison by the Castro regime for his independent organizing activities.

He's been recently transferred to the Orlando Milan Castro Hospital in Santa Clara.

"All of us, his family, are opposed to the hunger strike.  But he asks us not to insist, to respect his decision.  He wants to prove his innocence with his life," his wife, Vilma Morera Bacallo, told Diario de Cuba.

Reports from Cuba: Ministerial Hustling

By Luzbely Escobar in Translating Cuba:

Ministerial Hustling

When I was younger and went out looking for something to do in Havana’s evenings or nights, one day I stumbled over Julio. I went out with a girlfriend from Berlin and he was looking to make a living scamming innocent foreigners. He approached us intending to invite us to a Rumba Festival, but was disappointed by our refusal. The trick was easy: lead the unwary to Hamel Alley where there was almost always the sound of drums and right now there was the Festival he mentioned.

I had warned my German friend about those characters who invent everything to attract the tourists, and the truth was that, in those days of September 1993, there wasn’t much to do. Every encounter ended in a park, along the Malecon, or the home of a friend. Julio didn’t give up and told my friend, Angelica, that he knew a place where there was salsa dancing. We turned our worst faces to the old rockers and took off before they came up with something else. I remember my friend at the end of this episode telling me, “That’s what I would call cultural hustling.”

I’m telling this story because right now there is a cultural event called Habanarte. I support the theory that this is more or less the same thing, but organized by the Ministry of Culture itself. With a program that includes everything but which, in reality, brings little new, one more festival where supposedly a program specially designed for the event is created, which comes to be a kind of umbrella that covers everything and anything that’s happening in Havana lately. Thus, this umbrella festival takes credit for everything and even includes visits to museums on its list of events.

Presentations by the National Ballet of Cuba, Haydée Milanés, Descemer Bueno,
among others, are part of the shows absorbed by Habanarte. Also, the Art in the Rampa show, and even the sixth Salon of Contemporary Art, have been put under the umbrella.

An odd, or revealing, piece of data is that the Paradiso agency confirmed the participation of 1,500 Venezuelans and announced that the event in question is being marketed to tourists passing through Havana and Varadero. The perfect mix to ideologize even more the cultural spaces that, gradually, we Havanans have conquered to relax the everyday political ballad.

At the press conference that took place a few days ago, we learned that the Festival Information Center will be located at the Casa del Alba, the most rancid epicenter of political propaganda masquerading as culture. All this made me remember Julio and his fake musical event, and my friend Angelica who realized the farce in time. However, unlike that lie to get some money from unsuspecting tourists, Habanarte is a huge ministerial balloon scamming thousands of people.

(The event takes place from 11 to 21 September, but the official opening is on September 12, at 11 pm, at El Sauce Cultural Center, of Artex, with a concert by El Chevere de la Salsa, Isaac Delgado.)

Reports from Cuba’s Venezuela: On the brink of Newsprint-geddon

By Gustavo Hernandez Acevedo in Caracas Chronicles:

On the brink of Newsprint-geddon

These newsprint reels sold to El Impulso by the government would give the paper a few more days.

Barquisimeto’s main newspaper El Impulso informed its readers via an editorial last week that they would be forced to stop publishing, because their reserves of newsprint were simply insufficient to keep working.

Earlier this year they faced the same situation, but got a brief lifeline through CADIVI. During this time, they held on thanks to a dramatic reduction in the number of pages and the solidarity of our Colombian neighbors.

But El Impulso isn’t alone: Guayana’s Correo del Caroni, San Cristobal’s La Nacion and Maracay’s El Siglo recently announced that they would reduce their page numbers in order to keep publishing. The crisis has been affecting most Venezuelan newspapers for more than a year now.

The lack of access to currency isn’t the only thing to blame here, as the government has assumed more direct control over the import and distribution of newsprint. The Alfredo Maneiro Editorial Corporation (which is in charge of publishing State-owned papers and publications) is now selling it directly to newspapers themselves. In the end, they gave El Impulso 24 reels, so they could remain active for the next two weeks.

But this temporary stopgap doesn’t change much. Newsprint-geddon is just around the corner, and the communicational hegemony is using it as a way to control the flow of information and opinion (with a little help of their HegemonCorp. friends). As many independent papers are felling the pinch, Nicolas Maduro gave the green light to two new papers, one of them for the State party the PSUV.

Surely they won’t have problems getting their newsprint.

The new wave of refugees from Cuba

Santana in El Nuevo Herald:

First Amendment protection for Castro apparatchiks Buena Fe–but not for U.S. citizen Ted Nugent


Tonight some Castro-regime apparatchiks under the guise of musicians named Buena Fe perform in Miami-Dade County Auditorium.

Many historic exile groups (including groups representing the longest suffering political prisoners in the modern history of the human race) have protested the blatant provocation from the Stalinist terror-sponsoring regime that tortured them--but to no avail.

It seems that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the Stalinist provocateurs. To wit:

"The mayor said that although he doesn’t support or condone the “inflammatory statements” made by the duo, he’s following guidance from County Attorney Robert Cuevas. Miami-Dade can’t cancel the event due to a contract signed with its organizers as well as “the tenets of the First Amendment.”

"We live in a free country and we have to live democracy. Whoever wants to attend a performance originating from Cuba should go. Those who oppose it can stay away." (Gloria Estefan.

This is a free country, and even jerks are protected by the First Amendment. (Fabiola Santiago, Miami Herald)

Recently several venues have abruptly cancelled Ted Nugent's fully-contracted planned performances. Some were Indian Tribe-owned Casinos but others were partly taxpayer-funded venues,(much like Buena Fe's who will perform in the taxpayer-funded Miami-Dade County Auditorium)

Nary a peep about Ted Nugent's "First Amendment rights" has been heard from the media, much less from any of Nugent's fellow musicians.

Of course it's entirely possible that Ted Nugent's lawyers are not as up to speed on the protection offered by the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution as are famed constitutional scholars Fabiola Santiago and Gloria Estefan.

Not that I have a dog in this fight or anything: