Reports from Cuba: Neither brave nor intelligent, much less fair

Eliecer Avila in 14yMedio via Translating Cuba:

Neither Brave Nor Intelligent, Much Less Fair

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On numerous occasions I have had to listen to the stories of friends and colleagues who have been detained or have been interrogated by the State Security. “These people are unreal, they know everything. The day I went to see so-and-so, what I said to what’s-his-face, what time, and even that we had coffee and ate roast pork. They don’t miss a thing!”

I imagine that these people feel very impressed, because it is as if they were sitting with a fortuneteller who “divines” their past, present and can even predict their future. The difference is that the fortunetellers, or so they tell us, “have a gift,” while State Security has human and technical methods and a society completely organized to facilitate their work, such that their gifts are simply their ears and a crystal ball made of optical fiber.

How are they not going to know the exact locations of the moles on our bodies, if they can openly and brazenly invade all our privacy?

They don’t have to be super-gifted nor pass in some school to “discover” who we spend time with, what our plans are, what our means are, because in the vast majority of cases we don’t even hide these things. The reason? It is very simple, we are citizens who study in normal schools, lead normal lives, we are not trained and don’t even want to be in intelligence or counterintelligence, we speak naturally and openly about what we think and desire because we are not ashamed.

On the other side, we have something very different, military personnel, indoctrinated, with studies of all kinds, with specialized equipment, transportation, a made-to-measure judicial system, subordinated press and fearful people who offer them what they ask for to avoid becoming targets of their investigations.

Who could do a bad job with all this? The contrary would amaze me. That there would be something they don’t know.

However, to the extent that you interact with them, you realize that they have many gaps. For example, there is an important difference between what the bosses know and what they tell the field agents. There is the need for State Security to constantly convert the ordinary into the extraordinary. This is justified because each one of these agents has to constantly think they are “saving the country” and that “the people appreciate their heroism and bravery.” In the majority of cases, however, what they are doing is committing a common crime in the name of authority against natural persons unhappy with a bad government.

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Carole King Sings “You’ve Got a Friend” to Hillary at the Democratic Convention–just like she sang it IN PERSON to Fidel Castro in 2002!

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“She (Hillary Clinton) is warm and funny and smart and all of the things that people say that she is.  It is remarkable! It is wonderful, it was destined to happen!  I ran into some people who were staunch Bernie supporters and I was very respectful because I think he’s a great person. I just, again, know Hillary. I think it is her time. She’s earned it. She (Hillary Clinton) is absolutely the perfect person to break that barrier. “

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“My songs were a message I wanted to bring here (to Fidel Castro),” stressed Carole King about her 60th Birthday celebration in Havana in the company of Fidel Castro,  (the jailer and torturer of the most blacks and women in the modern history of the Western Hemisphere–the person who most craved and came closest to nuking Carole King’s homeland–the person who came within a whisker of murdering thousands of King’s fellow New Yorkers in a bomb-plot against Macy’s, Gimball’s, Bloomingdale’s and Grand Central Station during the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in 1962.  )

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Not dat there’s anything (apparently) wrong with any of the above in liberal eyes! Because in appreciation for his crimes against humanity Carole King sang Fidel  Castro a personal and heartfelt You’ve Got a Friend on  Feb. 10, 2002.

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“Yes, folks, (Book TV host on left REALLY wanted to say)…Everything about Carole King’s trip to Cuba and her serenading of Fidel Castro can be found –fully-documented–in Humberto’s internationally-acclaimed books. That’s the thing about this crazy Cuban-Cajun. Liberals and Castroites (but I repeat myself) denounce him as a “crackpot!” and “loose canon!” but his books have been published worldwide by the world’s biggest publishers, who all signed-off on his thorough documentation. His books have been hailed everyplace from Publishers Weekly to a division of the London Times to Salon.com to Eastern Europe to FoxNews to the U.S. Congress to Spain and Brazil, etc…. But ONE place they haven’t been hailed is in: Havana Cuba!”

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“Le ZZZUMBA!!!”

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(“Humberto’s book is a very valuable book–a book badly needed around the world.” (Former Chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen R-Fla.)

Cubanization of Caracastan update: Maduro copies Castro slave labor plan

Pa’l campo, cabrones ingratos! (To the fields, ungrateful bastards)

Poor Nicolas Maduro.

All of those evil Venezuelan business people and the super-evil Americans have forced him to adopt the Castro plan for harvests.

Yes, that plan.  Remember?

In case you don’t, here’s the scoop: for many, many years the Castro regime forced Cubans to do “volunteer” agricultural labor without pay.

I remember receiving a letter from my father — who was already dealing with heart disease — in which he told me that he was being forced to cut sugar cane.  The Castro regime didn’t care that he was ill. Off to the fields you go, you worm.

Then there’s the ancient Castronoid custom of sending children to do “volunteer” labor during their summer vacation.  Of course, it’s justified: how else can they thank the benevolent Revolution for their “free” education?

And who could ever forget the UMAP forced labor concentration camps?

Now that the Bolivarian Revolution is imploding in Venezuela, dictator Nicolas Maduro has issued a decree that copies the Castro system.  The only visible difference is that Maduro seems to be avoiding the use of the term “volunteer” for his forced labor scheme.

Yeah.  And Amnesty International is very upset about it.

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From UPI:

Amnesty International criticizes Venezuela’s ‘forced labor’ decree

Amnesty International has slammed a recent “forced labor” decree by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that could draft public and private workers to increase food production.

At the end of last week, Maduro signed a decree that would give Venezuela’s Ministry of Popular Power for Social Process of Work the ability to order any Venezuelan with the physical or technical capabilities to join a government effort to work in the agriculture sector for up to 120 days.

Venezuela is facing a deepening economic crisis in which basic goods, such as food, medicines and toiletries, are in short supply. Tens of thousands have traveled outside the country, mainly to Colombia, to restock supplies as store shelves and kitchen cupboards are nearly empty. Venezuela’s farming association in June said only 25 percent of the country’s agricultural land is being used to farm.

Amnesty International criticized the decree as “unlawful and effectively amounts to forced labor.”

“Trying to tackle Venezuela’s severe food shortages by forcing people to work the fields is like trying to fix a broken leg with a band aid,” Erika Guevara Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas director, said in a statement released Thursday. “The new decree completely misses the point when it comes to findings ways for Venezuela to crawl out of the deep crisis it has been submerged in for years.”

Maduro, who is facing efforts by the Venezuelan opposition to oust him, has blamed the country’s financial woes on a U.S.-backed “economic war” carried out by political enemies and corporations. To combat the alleged “economic war,” Maduro has taken steps including ordering the military to take control of five ports as part of “war strategies” to provide food and medicine.

“Authorities in Venezuela must focus on requesting and getting much needed humanitarian aid to the millions in need across the country and develop a workable long term plan to tackle the crisis,” Guevara Rosas added.

Maduro and his boss do a semi-Obama hand-on-arm salute

 

Economic reforms in Cuba will not lead to democracy on the island

Dr. Jose Azel in PanAm Post:

Economic Reforms Will Not Lead to Democracy in Cuba

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Do economic reforms lead to democratization, or does democratization lead to economic progress? This is the fundamental question surrounding the debate over the new U.S.-Cuba policy. President Obama and his supporters believe that economic reforms will empower the population to demand political reforms, whereas critics point out that General Castro has been perfectly clear that Cuba will not undertake any political reforms.

Let’s put aside, for present purposes, the ethical problems of a U.S. foreign policy that embraces despots and establishes a moral equivalence between oppressors and the oppressed. The focus here is on the “what should come first” aspect of reforms. The transition experience of East European countries provides the answer to the question. Fredo Arias King, an expert with encyclopedic knowledge of post-Soviet democratization, classifies the East European end-game experiences into eight groups:

Overthrow– Where communism ended when dissidents were able to overthrow an obstinate communist party and form a new government made up primarily of dissidents (Czechoslovakia-1989, East Germany, Yugoslavia, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia)

Substitution– Where communist parties were more flexible and willing to negotiate a transition (Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Slovenia).

Transformation-Where the principal communist leaders took the initiative toward regime change without the presence of great social pressures (Soviet Union-1985, Hungary-1956, and Czechoslovakia-1968)

Reappearance– Where former high-level government officials, who had been removed from power, used the nascent democratic movement to return to power (Russia, Romania, and Croatia)

Replacement– Where mid-level officials took up the flag of democratic or nationalistic reform to undermine the regime they served (Hungary-1989, Serbia-1989, and Bulgaria)

Reincarnation– Where the state parties felt great social pressure to fake a brake with communism in order to survive (Ukraine, Moldova, Albania, Mongolia, Macedonia, and Latvia)

Continuity– Where the communist leaders unexpectedly turned into the leaders of independent nations, but retained the principal structures of repression and the command economy (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Belarus)

Violence– Where leaders used state violence to provoke civil wars and retain power (Tajikistan, Serbia, Armenia and Azerbaijan)

Regardless of the typology, Arias King’s measurements, fifteen years after the transitions, show that those Eastern European countries that instituted political change prior to, or hand in hand with, economic changes were the most successful in becoming both free and prosperous; e.g., Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, East Germany. Those countries that decided to begin with economic reforms and postponed political changes were mostly unsuccessful in both areas; e.g., Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Serbia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan)

Continue reading HERE.

Cuban dictator Raul Castro mediates peace talks in Colombia, but refuses to talk to Cuba’s dissidents

Take note that the only reason Cuba’s vicious and brutally repressive apartheid dictatorship gets away with this is because the same people who cheer the totalitarian regime’s “diplomacy” abroad are the very same people who are completely silent about their crimes against humanity at home.

Andres Oppenheimer in The Miami Herald:

Castro mediates Colombian peace deal — but won’t talk to Cuban dissidents

Cuba Colombia Peace Talks

What irony! Cuban President Gen. Raúl Castro has been applauded by world leaders for his mediation in Colombia’s peace talks, but he steadfastly continues refusing to hold peace talks with his own country’s internal opposition.

The irony of Castro’s mediation in Colombia’s peace talks with the FARC guerrillas was brought to my attention this week by Guillermo Fariñas, the well-known Cuban dissident who started a hunger strike in his hometown of Santa Clara, Cuba, on July 20. He wants to call world attention to the plight of Cuba’s peaceful dissidents, and wants the Castro regime to start a dialogue with them.

More than 12 other dissidents have joined Fariñas’ indefinite hunger strike, and the National Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) dissident group has announced that an additional 200 of its members would hold a 12-hour fast in a symbolic gesture of support for the hunger strikers.

It sounds absurd, but even now — a year after Cuba and the United States resumed diplomatic relations and U.S. cruise liners with American tourists are descending on the island — Cuba’s military regime refuses to talk with any of Cuba’s peaceful opponents under the ridiculous claim that all of them are U.S. “mercenaries.”

Since 1959, Cuba’s unelected regime, which Raúl Castro has inherited from his older brother Fidel, has not allowed government critics to vote in free elections, form political parties, speak on the island’s television broadcasts, write in independent newspapers or exercise their United Nations-sanctioned universal right to freedom of assembly.

And while President Barack Obama visited Cuba in March and has dismantled much of the U.S. trade sanctions on the island, allowing American Airlines, Sheraton, Netflix and dozens of other U.S. companies to resume operations in Cuba, the Cuban government continues to use the fairy tale of “U.S. aggression” as an excuse to deny basic freedoms to its people.

“It is hypocritical for the Cuban government to act as the mediator in Colombia’s talks with that country’s violent guerrillas, and at the same time be incapable of being tolerant with its own country’s peaceful opposition,” Fariñas told me in a telephone interview.

Fariñas, who has held hunger strikes before, said he is starting this one to demand that Cuba stop the beatings and political detentions of opponents. He wants Castro to appoint one of his vice presidents to sit down with 12 representatives of Cuba’s peaceful opposition.

Police beatings and detentions of peaceful dissidents and detentions have risen significantly, Fariñas told me. As I reported recently, the non-government Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation says there were 6,075 political detentions during the first six months this year, which — if the current rate continues during the next six months — would be a significant increase over last year’s 8,616 detentions.

Continue reading HERE.

Forget Hillary, Forget the Trumpinator, Forget ISIS, Forget the Castro Kingdom and the Normalization Circus, Dance it All Away Like Gianluca Vacchi and Giorgia Gabriele on Their Private Yacht in Ibiza

 

Good morning.

Gianluca Vacchi, an Italian millionaire entrepreneur and his dance partner Giorgia Gabriele have taken the internet by storm with their dance moves.

In a world gone mad, maybe this is the best response to the madness and all the bad news?

Never mind their choice of music. Just click video above.

Oh, but to be 49 again, and a millionaire…..

Or maybe to be a monk….

At DNC convention, Obama plagiarizes Carter’s and Clinton’s failed Cuba policy

John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

President Barack Obama’s act of plagiarism at the Democratic Convention

“We opened up a new chapter with the people of Cuba…” – President Barack Obama addressing the Democratic Convention

President Obama’s “new chapter with the people of Cuba” has a familiar ring that amounts to an act of political plagiarism. Remember that according to Plagiarism.org “the practice of presenting as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source” is plagiarism.

On July 28, 2016 the President repeated an assertion he first made on December 17, 2014 that he was making “the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years” when he said that they would begin the normalization of relations with the Castro regime.

The current Cuba policy is neither new or original but a copy of the policy pursued by President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s and President Bill Clinton in the 1990s that in both cases extended the life of the Castro dictatorship at the expense of U.S. national security interests with mass exoduses from Cuba and increased bad actions that led to the policy being reversed in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan and partially reversed by President George W. Bush in 2003.

Let us also not forget that the first president to normalize relations with the Castro regime was President Dwight Eisenhower in 1959. Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista regime on January 1, 1959. On January 7, 1959 the United States recognized the new Cuban government ushered in by the Castro brothers and had actively pressured the Batista dictatorship to leave imposing an arms embargo in 1958. President Eisenhower thought that he could have normal relations with the Cuban revolutionary government which was also a reason the United States recognized it within the span of a week. In comparison it had taken the United States 17 days to recognize the government of Fulgencio Batista following his March 10, 1952 coup.What happened was that Fidel Castro began installing a totalitarian communist dictatorship, engaging in mass executions, expropriating U.S. companies , embracing the Soviet Union and seeking to subvert democracies in the region . This is what led to economic sanctions in 1960 and the end of normal diplomatic relations in 1961 and the embargo on February 7, 1962 during the Kennedy administration.

President Obama’s “new chapter with the people of Cuba” was neither “new” or with “the people of Cuba” but part of the Establishment’s long game to normalize relations with the Castro dictatorship that stretches back six decades and time and time again proved negative not only for the people of Cuba, the people of the United States but also the people of Latin America generally.

Continue reading HERE.

Reports from Cuba: Military and family remittances, a well-kept secret

By Osmar Laffita Rojas in Diario de Cuba:

Military and family remittances, a well-kept secret

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On July 8, the then Minister of Economy and Planning Marino Murillo Jorge reported in the National Assembly of the People’s Power on the state of the Cuban economy during the first half of the year, when growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) came in at a paltry 1%, half of the Government’s projection.

Murillo put this down to the fact that since December of last year there had been financial constraints born of falling export revenues and limitations on fuel supplies. But his protracted speech contained no references to the funds generated by the exports of specialized services, mainly rendered by doctors and paramedics, in Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador, nor was there any talk of the 3.6 million tourists who visited Cuba in 2015; or the family remittances coming in, mainly from the US.

The grave financial situation that the Government says the Cuban economy is facing clashes with the information provided by The Havana Consulting Group (THCG) last June, when it indicated that remittances to Cuba had hit a record high of 3.35 billion dollars in 2015.

THGC President Emilio Morales said that from 2008 to 2015 remittances grew by over 1.90 billion, with an annual average of 238.3 million dollars, which he called an “unprecedented” development.

THCG attributed the increased flow of money into Cuba to increasing emigration, the lifting of restrictions on the remittances sent to Cuba, travel by Cuban Americans to the Island, and the opening up of the sector of the private and cooperative non-agricultural economy.

The military and remittances

Western Union has offices in many of Cuba’s retails stores in the 15 provinces and the special municipality of the Isla de la Juventud, which are administrated by the Grupo Administración Empresarial S.A. (GAESA) of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR). Thus, the military controls the largest amounts of money coming into Cuba in the form of remittances.

FINCIMEX, the financial institution of the CIMEX Corporation, managed by GAESA, issues magnetic cards to Cuban users for free, like Caribbean Transfers, Ocean Card, Trascard and American International Service, S.A. The holders of these cards, after signing the contract, can receive money from Europe, the United States, Angola and other parts of the world, and draw cash from banks and ATMs throughout Cuba.

In addition, the Postal Service has established offices in Cuba’s major cities, dedicated to the collection of money sent mainly from Europe. Many people turn to this service, which actively competes with Western Union.

With the exception of mulas (who smuggle money into the country without declaring it, to deliver it to recipients for the payment of a fee) the Cuban government has control over most of the money sent home by Cubans abroad to their relatives in Cuba.

But the Government never discloses information on these remittances, or the revenues generated by Cuban Americans’ trips to the island, even though that money is registered in the books.

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Castro regime Vice President blames shopkeepers for shortages and long lines

Top Dog

From Cafe Fuerte

Yeah!  That’s the way to do it.

Imitate Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro, and blame your country’s failures on the business people.

Oh, wait…. In Cuba there are no business people.  Everyone works for the military junta that owns the entire country and runs its economy. And you are a top dog in that junta….

… Well… what the hell… blame those shopkeepers anyway.  Contemptible proto-bourgeois scum.

General Ramiro Valdés Menéndez, known as “El Comandante de la Revolución,” gave “commerce functionaries” quite a tongue lashing.

The General’s official title is “Vicepresidente de los consejos de Estado y de Ministros.”

Top Dog and Super Four Star Dog

“You abuse the people,” he said to shopkeepers.  “You serve the people, they don’t serve you….You make people wait outside your stores in the hot sun and only allow two or three at a time  to come in…No, that’s not right.”

General Valdés, a spry young hero of the Revolution, age 84, went even further, and called for “a study of the issue of long lines, for the benefit of citizens who are on their feet all the time.”

Yes, sir.  Jawohl, mein Kommandant.

Franz Kafka, eat your heart out.  Whole story HERE in Spanish.

Evil “commerce functionary,” abuser of the people

Trump appears no different than Hillary or Obama when it comes to coddling Cuba’s apartheid dictatorship

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Will Hillary Condemn Trump’s Cuban Hotel Venture?

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Four years ago, President Obama (and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) was amid his “reset” with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Together with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Obama lobbied to end “Cold War legislation” that sanctioned Russia, pushed for permanent normal trade relations and was even caught on a hot mic whispering “sweet-nothings” in Putin’s ear.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney condemned Obama’s “reset” and appeasement of Putin as a folly. Moreover, he labeled Russia as the U.S.’s main geopolitical foe.

Romney was right. Yet he was mocked by Obama and the Democrats as a “Cold Warrior.”

Fast forward four years and the script has flipped.

It seems Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has an affinity for Putin, while his chief campaign adviser has even served as a Washington lobbyist for some of Putin’s stooges and thugs.

Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is now (rightfully) condemning Trump’s stance and — perhaps unwittingly — admitting Obama’s policy was wrong-headed.

Today, Bloomberg News has a story about how Trump Organization executives have been traveling to Cuba — perhaps illegally — in search of hotel and golf course investment opportunities with Castro’s military.

That would put Trump on par with Obama in seeking dangerous and reprehensible business deals directly with Cuba’s repressive security organs.

Thus, the first question is whether Trump will disavow the story and take a principled stand for freedom and democracy in Cuba.

Or, whether Hillary and the Democrats will condemn Trump for this venture with Cuba’s regime and chalk it up to his apparent affinity for dictators.

For let’s be clear — Putin and Castro belong to the same gene pool: They are both brutal tyrants, who U.S. intelligence agencies identify as top counter-intelligence threats, who work jointly against U.S. interests, who subvert democracy in their respective regions and who violate fundamental freedoms and human rights.

And just like Obama’s Russia “reset” has proven to be folly, so will his Cuba “reset.” Ironically, both have cornered us into adopting real Cold War policies that Obama propagated to be moving away from.

Hillary and Trump now have a chance to be on the right side of history.

The final question remains — will either choose to, or will both be wrong?

Hillary Clinton and Vilma Espin (Raul Castro’s late wife) sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G (almost literally!)

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“Constant Craving…?”

(I wrote this article for Newsmax in 2007–but I see no reason to change a single word, especially in light of the events at last night’s Democratic Convention —also in light of  Wikileaks which show that Hillary Clinton pulled the strings (violating U.S. law) that strong-armed a U.S. visa for Vilma’s daughter, Mariela Castro, back in 2012. This allowed the Stalinist apparatchik to lecture about the glories of Cuban communism  from Sea to Shining Sea–(literally).  Mariela’s tour took her from San Francisco to New York….Le  ZZZUMBA!!!)

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Vilma Espin (Raul Castro’s late wife and Cuba’s long-time “First Lady”) was Cuba’s delegate to the U.N.’s 4th annual Women’s Conference held in Beijing in September 1995, where she hob-knobbed with U.S. delegate Hillary Clinton. The Conference was sporadically televised so the ardor and duration of Hillary  Clinton’s greeting of Cuban delegate Vilma Espin was caught on film.

Those who saw it recall the salutation as involving more than the perfunctory peck on the cheek customary for new or even casual acquaintances.

Given their similar agenda’s for “villages and children,” socialized healthcare, wealth distribution– given the Clinton regime’s later kow-towing to the Castro regime by lending Castro the services of their crackerjack lawyer and friend, Gregory Craig, given the Clinton regime Shang-haing of Elian Gonzalez — given all this, enquiring minds can only speculate about the origin and inspiration for the Vilma-Hillary smoochfest.

Rest of the article here….

“Constant Craving…?”

 

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Le ZZZUMBA!!!

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“PLEASE calm down!–or I’ll call security on the CRAZY CUBAN!?” (says a badly-rattled Bill Maher)

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“Highly entertaining!… Humberto Fontova’s voice is powerful and compelling…imagine Deliverance as written by Hunter S. Thompson!” (Publishers’s Weekly)

 

Cuban dissidents on hunger strike: more bad news

Carlos Amel Oliva

From Marti Noticias:

Coco Fariñas is not the only Cuban hunger striking dissident in peril.

The health of several other hunger strikers is deteriorating rapidly, and one of the doctors involved in caring for some of them is growing concerned.

“They have lost a lot of weight, and their blood pressure is very low,” said Dr. Roberto Serrano.

One of these imperiled hunger strikers is the young dissident Carlos Amel Oliva, who began his 16th day on hunger strike yesterday.  He is protesting the confiscation of some of his property and vows to keep striking until the items arbitrarily stolen by the Castro regime are returned.

Another hunger striker who worries Dr. Serrano is Lázaro Díaz Curbelo.

“These hunger strikers should all have been hospitalized by now, given their symptoms.”

Good luck finding this piece of news in the  news media of the free world.

Read the whole story HERE in Spanish and also –if you are interested in this developing disaster — click on the linkd above , or simply go HERE

Lázaro Díaz Curbelo after an encounter with Castronoid thugs

Surprise! Luxury “American” hotel in Havana gives tourists a true taste of Cuba

Starwood’s stunningly ugly hotel

American hotel giant Starwood has taken over a very ugly hotel in my old neighborhood of Miramar in Havana that was formerly managed by a Spanish firm.

The hotel has been renamed Four Points by Sheraton Havana.  Take a look at its web site HERE.  The pricey hotel is three blocks away from the seacoast. Room rates vary from $190 to $600 per night.

As is the case with all hotels in Castrogonia, the real owner is the Cuban military junta.  Starwood is  hired to manage it for the generals for a share in the profits.

The employees are hired by Gaviota, a phony “corporation” owned by Castro, Inc.  Starwood has to pay them wages close to the American minimum wage, but definitely below it.

Castro, Inc. taxes that income at 92%.

So, Starwood gets relatively cheap labor (compared to workers in the U.S.) and Castro Inc. gets an exorbitant cut of their pay.

Starwood also gets to charge guests American hotel rates in dollars.  Castro, Inc. gets the lion’s share of that –and of everything else the hotel provides — and Starwood gets the scraps.

Apparently, the scraps are enough to satisfy foreign firms like Starwood, Barcelo, Meilia, etc. who run all of Castro, Inc.’s hotels.

So, what do you get for a $250 per night room at Starwood’s hotel?

Michael Weissenstein, a travel writer, went to check it out.   To say he wasn’t impressed would be an understatement worthy of the BBC.

He also seems to be unaware of the fact that his $250 per night room would cost a Cuban worker an entire year’s salary or that a $600 room would cost an entire two and a half years of income.

Here are a few snippets from his report:

$250 per night room

From Skift:

Starwood Now Manages a Cuban hotel, but Not Everything is Perfect Yet

Those expecting international standards from the first U.S.-run hotel in Cuba in more than 50 years may go home disappointed….

… Our experience was pretty unpleasant. The hotel had been rebranded with great fanfare a month earlier, including promised amenities like Starwood’s comfortable “signature beds.” But our mattress was saggy, with a stained decorative cover and flat sheet tucked over the sort of squeaky rubber pad used for bed-wetting children. When I investigated why a bedside lamp wasn’t working (due to a missing bulb), I realized that the entire wall-mounted light was loose and balanced in the sole position that kept it from collapsing.

The hallways carpets looked new and the paint looked fresh, and our room did have a new-looking hairdryer, showerhead and bathroom tiles. But the walls were scuffed and dirty. Tables looked like someone had scraped stickers off them with a piece of sharp plastic. The minibar door hung loose on its hinge, with drinks inside in a pool of room-temperature water.

The coffee maker came with two packs of coffee, a teabag and a sign: “Coffe-Te NOT INCLUDED.” In-room internet was $5 an hour.

Dispirited, my fiancée and I headed to the pool. The front desk clerk said it was open ’til 7 p.m. but added graciously, “You can swim until 9 or 10.”

We arrived at 6:30 p.m. It was closed. A worker treating it with chemicals from a plastic bucket told us to come back after two hours….

… The menu dated to around the hotel’s opening in 2010, when it was run by the Spanish hotel chain Barcelo. How do I know? Because someone had taped a little piece of paper with the “Four Points by Sheraton” logo on the front. When I pulled it back, it said “Barcelo.”

Unwilling to try our luck with entrees, we fled for an excellent privately run restaurant nearby, then stopped in the lobby for a nightcap.

I asked for an Absolut vodka, soda water and lime. I don’t know what came, but it wasn’t Absolut. It tasted of paint thinner and curdled my mouth.

When I complained to the bartender, she tasted and agreed it wasn’t Absolut but showed me the bottle and insisted no one at the hotel had filled it with a cheaper brand or adulterated liquor. She opened a fresh bottle of Finlandia and poured me a drink that tasted as advertised.

I headed to the men’s room but fled the moment I opened the door, driven back by the smell of raw sewage. We headed for our room.

Our stay ended the next morning on its lowest note.

The complimentary buffet looked inedible and was: a series of warming pans containing two-toned scrambled eggs, greasy sausages and swollen boiled hot dogs floating in tepid water. To accompany the spread, a mix of stale and fresh bread rolls and puckered chunks of guayaba, papaya and watermelon.

I tried a grayish sausage patty and spit it out. It was colder than room temperature. I washed it down with coffee that was thin and bitter with a chemical aftertaste.

We checked out and headed home to recover.

Read the whole story HERE

Donal Tron eeh yoorhar ow! (Donald Trump, eat your heart out).