For "Cuba Experts," Castro sycophants, and supporters of the Cuban dictatorship here in the U.S., the "reforms" of dictator Raul Castro are nothing short of marvelous. For actual Cubans, however, throwing yourself into the shark-infested waters of the Florida Straits in an attempt to escape those "reforms" is still a viable option.
Seven Cuban migrants have been returned to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, after arriving off the Keys.
The Cuban migrants arrived May 18 east of Card Sound Bridge in a rustic boat that was taking on water, the U.S. Coast Guard said. A Coast Guard Air Miami helicopter and Coast Guard Station Islamorada boat crew responded to the scene after getting a call from a passerby.
The migrants were removed from the boat and given food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.
Under U.S. law, Cubans who are intercepted in the sea are usually returned to Cuba. Those who made it on dry land are permitted to stay.
“Migrants who travel aboard ill-equipped vessels or smuggled aboard go-fast boats are putting their lives at extreme risk, said Rear Adm. William Baumgartner, Seventh Coast Guard District commander. “Our migrant interdiction patrols help save lives by deterring dangerous illegal migrant activity and removing migrants from unsafe environments.”
They were escorted back to Cuba Wednesday afternoon in the Coast Guard Cutter William Flores, a 154-foot Miami-based fast response cutter.
The seven were part of the 573 Cuban migrants returned to Cuba by the Coast Guard nationwide since the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1. Most of the migrants are sent back from Miami.
On May 15th my husband’s laptop just died. It blinked when I was working on it and the monitor turned itself off forever. It was the family computer, a practical tool that, like housing and multiple personal articles in Cuba have to shared with sons, their girlfriends and friends. It was six years old and we’d had it repaired on several occasions, but this time it decided to rest from the overwork and heat we submitted it to for years.
Just when we are engaged in the promotion of the “360 Cuba” Project, we published here, the sudden loss of this instrument central to the methodological and sustainable deployment of the program and the rhythm of publication of opinions in the blog.
The lack of support in resources — I’m one of the bloggers who doesn’t have a PC — makes me think that perhaps there has been a sustained move by the Cuban political police to obstruct our development — my husband is an opposition leader and also has a blog — stopping our development or better still, killing us through the media.
Of course that will reduce my writing output, but would not give up my right to continue broadcasting my opinions, because I consider it a duty of every citizen with their time, history and homeland, charting the reality that surrounds him with words and complaints, especially when it involves, as in the case of Cuba, a dictatorship.
This inconvenience has paralyzed us for now, but circumstances sometimes impose challenges on us which, while closing a door open windows and lead us to creativity. I looked for possible alternatives because I refuse to passively accept the situation which gives another victory to the Cuban dictatorship, and although small, a defeat to those of us who push for and defend democracy.
Before you click it on, however, a meditation is suggested.
Imagine Mr. Rogers introducing a Twilight Zone episode. He is sitting on the corpse of Rod Serling, zipping up his sweater and smiling.
"Somewhere in the sweltering tropics, a life-long member of the Communist Party talks to a camera for about 5 minutes about mistreatment she received at a police station.
She can't understand why she was treated so badly, and at one point flashes her communist credentials to prove that she should have been above and beyond harassment.
She repeatedly boasts about being a "militant" defender of the Revolution, and points out that she is now 61 years old, which means that she has been backing the Castro regime for all 54 years and five and a half months of its existence.
And now she whines and complains about the treatment she has received, which is no different from that doled out day after day to the vast majority of Cubans who don't have a little red Communist passport.
"Estoy decepcionada," she moans. "I am disillusioned."
So, what is the lesson here, boys and girls? What will we learn today?
Many things. So many, in fact, that they would be hard to list.
But one lesson does seem most obvious: This militant Communist harpy who has probably abused and harassed her neighbors for years and has cheered as others were beaten, arrested, tortured, executed, or exiled -- and who has probably taken part in acts of repudiation -- suddenly realizes that her beloved Revolution is far from wonderful, because its sheer brutality finally touched her.
Poetic justice, in that neighborhood beyond imagination, beyond dualities, where black is white and white is black, where all ills are banished simply with a few turns of phrase and a little red book that identifies you as a militant defender of those turns of phrase -- a neighborhood where every day is beautiful because someone says it is, a neighborhood where you have nothing, but everything belongs to you, a paradise for thieves in which there is no stealing, a haven for thugs, where torture is always called something else -- that neighborhood you visit in your nightmares, also known as the Castro Zone."
Venezuela talk-show host, who revealed infighting among Chavistas takes ‘leave of absence’ in Cuba
A popular pro-Venezuelan government television talk show host took leave of absence alleging ‘medical reasons’ for a few days following the release on Monday of a recording where he can be heard talking with a Cuban intelligence officer about the ‘sea of shit’ which is drowning Chavismo because of internal infighting and corruption.
The fact that Mario Silva has decided to be absent from the talk show and has flown to Cuba, “is clear indication that the recording, despite official rejection of its contents, is true”, said Venezuelan political analyst Carlos Romero.
Silva and his talk show ‘La Hojilla’ which was one of the favorites of the deceased Chavez who usually would participate making official announcements said as a first reaction that the recording was a ‘drag’ but later announced he had a “vesicle sac complication’ to be treated in Cuba and thus would be absent for ‘several days’.“Silva’s exit means he has to hide, following the release of a recording which has him involved with Cuban intelligence with non polite words towards the current situation in the Chavista government”, added Romero.
“There is no doubt it is his voice in the audio” said Romero although what he revealed and commented to the Cuban intelligence officer Aramis Palacio is nothing new, it’s an open secret in Venezuela”.
Bribery: Café Fuerte reports that Chavista dictator Nicolas Maduro has dipped his hand into Venezuela's treasury to gift 20,000 automobiles to officers in the Venezuelan military (my translation):
Maduro to give 20,000 automobiles to members of the military
It is an obvious attempt to reward officers in the military at a time where Chavismo must play its most valuable cards: President Nicolas Maduro has approved the purchase of 20,000 automobiles, which will be given to members of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) this year.
Defense Minister Diego Molero announced this week the delivery to members of the FANB of the first 88 Orinoco and Arauca cars, manufactured by Chery, a joint venture with China. "Not only are we giving away these cars but also Aveos, Corollas, and Corsas, which we will be delivering through the program The Black First Grand Mission."
The move is an inevitable reminder of the methods of stimulation towards generals and high-ranking officials used in Castroite Cuba. The Ladas and Moskichs were considered trophies for a history of loyalty or for the accomplishment of an international mission. A status symbol in the Castro nomenclature. For Maduro, it is about giving out treats in order to win over some of the Armed Forces who are trapped in uncertainty and doomed to a process of forced political radicalization.
Greenbacks:FrontPage'sDaniel Greenfield reports how Venezuela's dictatorship can only survive if it can continue to get its hands on enough American greenbacks. This leads to a thriving black market, just like Cuba.
Venezuelan Socialist Paradise: “We Depend Completely on the Dollar”
Black-market dealers operating on the thriving underground market sell greenbacks at more than four times the official, government-set rate of 6.3 bolivars to the dollar. And the price they’re getting these days — 28 per dollar — is more than three times what it was just eight months ago.
Because the bolivar is artificially overvalued and practically worthless outside Venezuela, everyone here is desperate for dollars, from auto-part importers to supermarkets to ordinary Venezuelans planning to travel abroad. Even government officials and the politically connected businessmen who have made fortunes off the free-spending state search out and trade in dollars.
Chavez’s attempts at controlling every aspect of the economy, drew most of the country into the black market economy where the only way to get fair value is to sell illegally and trade in dollars.
Through two presidential campaigns and Obama’s first term, mainstream editors, editorial writers, and journalists served as de facto auxiliaries for the White House press office. Certain that they were serving a noble cause, they soft-pedaled bad news about the economy and ignored or played down the president’s gaffes. Aided by one-liners from late-night talk-show hosts, they attacked and ridiculed Fox News or any reporter, radio commentator, writer, or blogger not riding Obama’s bandwagon. They hounded and harassed Sarah Palin—author Joe McGinnis even moved next door to her home—determined to destroy someone they perceived as a threat to Obama’s power. They rode shotgun as Obamacare made its way through Congress. And they led the chorus of derision that greeted early reports of political corruption inside the IRS.
In the morning, those who have engaged in whorish behavior—or in this case, those rewarded with invitations to insider Washington parties and access to private e-mail lists—are somehow astonished by a lack of respect. Members of the media, including Associated Press reporters, after favoring and flattering Obama for years, were stunned to discover that Obama’s Department of Justice was treating them like tarts and had targeted the AP with secret subpoenas.
The end of the affair is always painful and poignant. Unaccustomed to sunlight, fleeing suspicions of malfeasance and outright criminality, the Obama administration is pleading guilty to incompetence and ignorance...
An independent press is a compass, a vital part of the American system of checks and balances. It can provide the ship of state with mid-course corrections. But a compass that swings any way the helmsman wants is worse than useless. It points the way to disaster.
The Obama administration, in the end, simply just didn't trust the media that was eating out of the palm of its unclenched hand ... even when it was making them feel so important and successful at their job of making his time in office a success.
And if reporters and investigative journalists dare to do what is true to their job description they are punished:
Cross-dressing Cuban woman who fought for Confederacy a rebel in more ways than one
She was an enigma wrapped in a riddle surrounded by an iron corset. Loreta Janeta Velazquez fought in the American Civil War as man, spied — perhaps for both sides — as a woman, and was denounced as one of the great literary hoaxers of the 19th century after she wrote a book about it. And a century after being erased from U.S. history, she’s back in a PBS documentary.
Rebel, airing Friday as an episode of the Latin history and culture series Voces, is the second television documentary in recent years involving the elusive Velazquez. She was one of several women who fought in the Civil War featured in the History Channel’s 2007 Full Metal Corset.
Rebel brings her into sharper focus, which paradoxically shows how little we really know about her. Born in Cuba, dispatched to New Orleans to learn to be a lady by a father determined to rub out her tomboy streak, Velazquez infuriated her relatives by marrying an American soldier rather than the Cuban aristocrat favored by her father.
For a time, she played the conventional roles of wife and mother. But in 1861, when she was just 20, outbreak of fever killed her three children and her husband, a Texan who had joined the Southern rebels when the Civil War broke out. And the now rootless Velazquez returned her tomboy ways and then some.
She strapped down her figure with a metal corset, donned a uniform and enlisted in the Confederate army. Two years later, when her ruse was discovered, the Confederates made her a spy. She eventually turned up in Baltimore, working for the Union’s intelligence forces. To which government she was really loyal is abundantly unclear.
In 1876, more than a decade after the war’s end, Velazquez published a 600-page account of her war exploits. It caused a sensation, not only for its scandalous gender-bending but its disputation of the Civil War as a heroic experience.
The Southern troops alongside whom she fought were not chivalrous but seedy, Velazquez wrote: “Self-seeking is more common than patriotism. And in camp, a spirit of petty jealousy is even more common than it is at a girls boarding school.”
And the leadership of both sides was dominated by war profiteers. “War corrupts, and few are innocent,” she declared. “May my words convey what war really is, such that good people will hesitate to solve anything with war again.”
Her revisionist view triggered furious denunciations by the Confederate veterans who might otherwise have verified Velazquez’s account. Her book was denounced as a hoax and largely forgotten — as was Velazquez, despite some minor notoriety years later as a firebrand advocate of Cuban independence from Spain. The date and manner of her death are lost to history, and we don’t even know where she was buried.
In an interview with imprisoned Cuban writer Angel Santiesteban, the independent journalist and dissident addresses the speculation that the Castro regime will only release him from prison if he accepts forced exile (via Punto Cuba - my translation):
"There are many who predict I will be offered freedom only if I go into exile, and at this moment my answer to that is a resounding NO; I will only leave [Cuba] if Fidel and Raul Castro are on that plane with me."
There may not be enough milk or food in Venezuela, and we all know there is a dire shortage of toilet paper. But there is enough resources in Venezuela to pay the Cuban military to restore decades-old missiles in preparation for a war against... of course, the enemies of the revolution!
Today, the Venezuelan government conducted the test launch of an Otomat missile, model MK2.
Eighteen of these missiles have been restored, thanks to Cuban specialists, for use by Venezuela's Bolivarian Armed Forces.
Venezuela's appointed leader, Nicolas Maduro, announced the launch (and Cuba's support) with much fanfare, as well as the upcoming restoration of AMX 3 light tanks and EE-11 Urutú armored personnel carriers.
What exactly is Cuba's dictatorship arming Venezuela, which currently even has shortages of toilet paper, for?
Over the past week or so, there have been several news articles showcasing new photos Beyonce and Jay-Z released from their vacation in apartheid Cuba. It is really astonishing to see how this extremely wealthy and powerful American couple allowed themselves to be used as tools by the repressive and racist, white dictatorship in Cuba. Obviously, musical talent and business acumen is simply not enough to prevent these two from acting and appearing like insensitive dolts.
The Cuba portrayed in Beyonce and Jay-Z's vacation album is the Cuba only tourists see. It is the Potemkin Village, the Castro zoo, where enslaved Cubans are displayed in their cages for tourists to gawk at and take pictures. It is the Cuba where champagne flows freely, every restaurant has steak and lobster, and the air-conditioning runs all day and all night. Beyonce and Jay-Z's Cuba is one typical Cubans can only imagine for they are prohibited by their white slave masters from enjoying. It is a Cuba where being black is the proverbial black mark, where white slaves are treated differently from the black slaves.
The real Cuba is a much different island from what Beyonce and Jay-Z limited themselves to seeing. It is a heinous and heartbreaking place where innocent victims, the majority of them black, are rotting in prison cells for speaking out against their enslavement. It is a place where slaves must struggle daily to find enough food to eat, risking arrest and prison if they are caught taking a scrap of food from a trashcan outside a tourist hotel. It is the place where dissidents are ruthlessly beaten, unjustly imprisoned, and brutally murdered.
This is the Cuba Beyonce and Jay-Z never saw, and apparently the Cuba they have no interest in seeing.
The real Cuba is the island where black rapper Yunier Ramon remains imprisoned in a Castro gulag for performing music that criticizes his white slave masters. He was already in prison when Beyonce and Jay-Z visited Cuba, but neither of them bothered to say a word about him, let alone visit a fellow artist in need.
You see, Beyonce and Jay-Z have no interest in the real Cuba; they only want to sip cognac and smoke Cuban cigars in air-conditioned comfort while in the company of the island's slave masters.
Jose Daniel Ferrer: Summary of activism out on the streets of Eastern Cuba
The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba highlights the situation which a number of political prisoners of the mentioned group are facing, speaks about the repressive methods employed by the State against activists and affirms that activism and opposition out on the streets has only increased in the Eastern region of the country, attracting further solidarity from everyday people.
Protest marches, debates and the handing out of flyers with pro-freedom messages are occurring with much more frequency in different areas of Eastern Cuba. Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, former political prisoner and current executive secretary of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), points out that in the month of May these actions have increased as part of the Boitel and Zapata Live Campaign, where dissidents throughout the country pay tribute to martyrs Pedro Luis Boitel and Orlando Zapata Tamayo, both deceased after lengthy hunger strikes in prison.
On May 20th, Cuba’s Independence Day, two marches were carried out in Santiago de Cuba. One of them was led by 11 activists and finished in the Antonio Maceo Plaza, where police officials beat the demonstrators with helmets, sticks and other objects, all of this while everyday citizens were watching.
A second march was carried out by 16 dissidents who managed to walk down various blocks of the El Sueno neighborhood, shouting pro-freedom messages. The result was police persecution. “State Security and Rapid Response Brigade agents came and began to throw rocks and beat activists“, recounted Ferrer Garcia. The repressors also threw tar and tried to raid the home of Daniel Barriel, secretary of the “Zapata Lives” sector of UNPACU in that neighborhood, where the activists congregated after the march. But the police was not able to achieve their objective, considering that the civic protests of the dissidents only intensified, forcing the aggressors to leave.
Repression of independent journalists, opposition leaders and human rights activists increased. There were reports of an average of 400 short-term arrests each month and activists travelling from the provinces to Havana were frequently detained. Prisoners of conscience continued to be sentenced on trumped-up charges or held in pre-trial detention.
Rights to freedom of expression, association, movement and assembly
Peaceful demonstrators, independent journalists and human rights activists were routinely detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Many were detained and others were subjected to acts of repudiation by government supporters.
In March, local human rights activists faced a wave of arrests and local organizations reported 1,137 arbitrary detentions before and after the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.
The authorities adopted a range of measures to prevent activists reporting on human rights including surrounding the homes of activists and disconnecting phones. Organizations whose activities had been tolerated by the authorities in the past, such as the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, were targeted. Independent journalists reporting on dissidents’ activities were detained.
The government continued to exert control over all media, while access to information on the internet remained challenging due to technical limitations and restrictions on content.
In July, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, one of Cuba’s most respected human rights and pro-democracy campaigners, died in a car accident in Granma Province. Several journalists and bloggers covering the hearing into the accident were detained for several hours.
Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, founder of the independent news agency Let’s Talk Press (Hablemos Press), was forced into a car in September, and reportedly beaten as he was driven to a police station. Before being released, he was told that he had become the “number one dissident journalist” and would be imprisoned if he continued his activities.
A number of measures were used to stop or penalize activities by political opponents. Many attempting to attend meetings or demonstrations were detained or prevented from leaving their homes. Political opponents, independent journalists and human rights activists were routinely denied visas to travel abroad.
For the 19th time since May 2008, Yoani Sánchez, an opposition blogger, was denied an exit visa. She had planned to attend the screening in Brazil of a documentary on blogging and censorship in which she featured.
In September, around 50 members of the Ladies in White organization were detained on their way to Havana to attend a public demonstration. Most were immediately sent back to their home provinces and then released; 19 were held incommunicado for several days.
In October, the government announced changes to the Migration Law that facilitate travel abroad, including the removal of mandatory exit visas. However, a series of requirements – over which the government would exercise discretion – could continue to restrict freedom to leave the country. The amendments were due to become effective in January 2013.
Brazil Says They Will Not Hire Cuban Doctors; Turns To Spanish And Portuguese Physicians Instead
Brazil’s interior provinces are daunting for the uninitiated. They are remote, isolated and very, very poor. And though malaria, yellow fever and tuberculosis run rampant, Brazilian doctors often refuse to be assigned to areas like Pará, Goiás or Mato Grosso.
The Brazilian government, it turns out, has started looking for foreign physicians who would be willing to travel to these areas and provide the kind of medical care that is needed. Earlier this month, the government announced that they were in talks with ministries in Spain, Portugal and Cuba, who might be up for helping out in those regions where there are only two doctors per 1,000 inhabitants, according to the Spanish newspaper El País.
Brazilian Health Minister Alexandre Padilha made public a slew of requirements for potential incoming doctors: They would have to pass an exam, since there would not be an automatic transferal of degrees, and doctors from countries where there are less than 1.7 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants -- which is the rate in Brazil -- would not be accepted.
The project took a turn on Wednesday, when Padilha announced that Brazil would not be accepting Cuban doctors, since their qualifications are not comparable to Brazilian medical degrees. “We rejected doctors who have had less time than necessary to practice medicine, without specialization or residencies,” Padilha stated.
Padilha added that the focus would be on locating qualified doctors from Spain and Portugal, and he confirmed that the Spanish Ministry of Health was interested. “The Ministry has expressed interest in cooperating and exchanging professionals, as well as interest in cooperating in specific projects,” Padilha said to the website Terra Brazil.