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  • Honey: When Cruz does an interview,. he handles himself very well and he would do just as well in debates. He didn’t win so many...

  • asombra: Alberto, your translation was fine. It’s a matter of nuance which doesn’t really translate. The point is that the...

  • asombra: If Ortega were sharper and more cunning, as opposed to a second-rate and relatively clumsy stooge, he’d feign a sober,...

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realclearworld

Reports from Cuba: Living off others

By Fernando Damaso in Translating Cuba:

Living Off Others

http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/fotofernando-no-writing.jpgThe five spies, transformed by decree into “heroes,” have proved quite expensive, both to the Cuban people and the American taxpayers.

First, it cost to train, relocate, and “plant” them” in the United States to carry out their espionage work. Second, it cost to discover, prosecute, and sentence them to prison terms. At this stage it also cost to pay the lawyers who defended them.

Their years in prison cost the American taxpayer, who had to pay for accommodation, food, medical care, clothing, bedding, toiletries, internet use, etc., and cost the Cuban people, who paid for multiple trips by their family members, including their clothing, shoes, hair care, and other details, so they would look good abroad and before the media, going and coming. Add to this the costs of the national and international campaign “demanding” their release, rebranding them as “counterterrorists,” plus fees for lawyers who continued pursuing their cases for years.

When they were released by agreement between the governments of both countries, it seemed we could at last take a rest from them, but it was not to be: they have maintained their presence at every kind of event—political, cultural, educational, scientific—as well as sending them on “tours” around the world, as if they were a musical group. I would say that they are “in the soup,” to use a phrase from the past, except this dish has now disappeared from Cuban tables for lack of meat.

After touring several countries in Latin America, they began a 21 day “African tour” that will run until July 8. I don’t remember any veterans of the “the foreign wars” in Africa (and there were many) making this kind of “tour,” still less that they received this kind of special treatment. Although they say that “the tour” is in response to invitations, we all know they don’t include expenses, which, as always, will be paid by the Cuban people.

The large amount of financial resources spent on “The Five” would have been far better spent on repairing schools, hospitals, roads and sidewalks, and building houses.

As publicized so far, we know that one of the five holds the position of vice president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). Another has been recycled as a poet and painter, and a third as a cartoonist, both pretty bad indeed. What the other two are up to is unknown. On the whole, except for one, they don’t seem to be working.

It would be reasonable, given the time elapsed, if they decided to stop living off others and the public purse and began working for real. Given the proliferation of musical groups in the country, and considering that they are already members of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, they could become a quintet, in the style of Los Cinco Latinos, Los 5U4, The Formula, or The Jackson Five. They already have a stage name: Los Cinco or The Five, whichever they prefer.

He’s still alive: Fidel “La Bestia” Castro, a.k.a. Nosferatu, attends cheese conference

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Every now and then the senile sociopathic megalomaniac  Fidel Castro needs to prove to the world that he's still alive and somewhat lucid.

So, this time he showed up at a cheese conference, and took part in the proceedings for four hours.

The European branch of his Ministry of Truth (Reuters) reported the event with breathless brevity.  As always, the writers refer to the bloodthirsty dictator as "president," and, as always, they focus exclusively on superficial details.

Why cheese?  Why not?

The man is accustomed to doing whatever he wants.  Perhaps he's developed a fondness for cheese.

Perhaps he's figured out how to turn his giant slave plantation into the world's most important cheese-making nation.

Perhaps he simply said "quiero salir de paseo" (I want to go for a ride), and Raul sent him out for cheese.

Perhaps these 19  so-called "cheese makers" are really involved in the manufacture of colostomy bags, and the ex-tyrant had run out to get some more, but as soon as he arrived at the colostomy bag collective packaging plant, he felt compelled to berate them for four hours, as he used to do to the whole nation before he retired.

Reuters published photos and a video of the event.  But it appears that the images have been doctored.   Babulu's crack investigative team managed to obtain an unretouched photo from a source who prefers to remain anonymous.

el-diablo-fidel

From Granma Euro-Lite (Reuters)

Fidel Castro visits cheese-makers, makes rare public appearance

Former Cuban President  [we refuse to admit he ruled as a dictatorFidel Castro, 88, visited 19 cheese masters for four hours on Friday in a rare trip outside his Havana home, official media reported on Saturday.

The photos showing the leader alive and well came out three days after his younger brother and current president, Raul Castro, announced a formal agreement with the United States on restoring diplomatic relations after a break of 54 years.

It was Fidel Castro’s first reported public appearance in three months. That previous encounter, with visiting Venezuelan students, was his first in more than a year.

Official media showed images of Castro seated at a panel in an auditorium at a research institute belonging to the Food Industry Ministry. He wore a white wind-breaker, a plaid shirt and gray pants [never let it be said that we skip the truly important details].

For a few more lines of text go HERE; for a video of this exciting world-shaking event, go HERE.

And for a sneak peek at  one of the gourmet artisanal cheeses about to be produced by these 19 cheese makers take a look below.   Coming soon to fine food stores throughout the United States:

fair-oaks-farms-cheese

 

‘Hey Obama, how about declaring Hialeah the headquarters for Cuba’s July 26 movement?’

Garrincha in Martí Noticias:

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Examining Cuba and North Korea healthcare claims

Like North Korea, Cuba's Castro dictatorship has made some very lofty claims when it comes to medicine and healthcare. And like North Korea, those magnificent claims are basically bullsh*t.

John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Examining Cuba and North Korea healthcare claims
 "Communist political violence flowed from a utopian vision of the future, from the great goals pursued, and from the intolerance the service of these ideals inspired, as well as from an intense attachment to power. The means had to be subordinated to historically unparalleled ends that require extraordinary measures." - Paul Hollander, The Distinctive Features of Repression in Communist States

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Both Cuba and North Korea are totalitarian dictatorships that have made claims of great achievements in the area of healthcare over the course of the past month.

On June 19, 2015 the regime in North Korea said that it had "created a wonder drug which not only cures AIDS, but also eradicates Ebola and cancer."  At the same time North Korea has approximately 10.2 million North Koreans currently facing famine.

On June 30, 2015 the World Health Organization said that the regime in Cuba had "became the first country in the world to receive validation from WHO that it has eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis." This is the same regime in Cuba that tried to cover up or under report dengue and cholera outbreaks jailing doctors and reporters who warned of the outbreaks at the time in order to preserve a false image of its healthcare system. The dictatorship has not reported any new cholera cases since September 2014 but according to the Public Health Agency of Canada the government of Canada reported a case of cholera in a traveler who returned from Cuba in January of 2015. Tourists have been stuck with the bill in Cuba after contracting cholera on vacation.

When evaluating the above claims by both dictatorships it is important to recall the nature of these type of regimes. The website Boundless which seeks to provide a "cloud powered education" gives a complete definition of totalitarianism which includes the following observation:

"Totalitarian regimes stay in political power through all-encompassing propaganda campaigns (disseminated through the state-controlled mass media), a single party that is often marked by political repression, personality cultism, control over the economy, regulation and restriction of speech, mass surveillance, and widespread use of terror"

Now the claim made by the regime in North Korea was ridiculed by the mainstream press and shows that the regime is not as sophisticated in its propaganda messaging as their Cuban counterparts.

The regime in Cuba used the World Health Organization (WHO) to promote a false narrative of the Cuban healthcare system exploiting a misleading validation process which the WHO described on their website:

"As treatment for prevention of mother-to-child-transmission is not 100% effective, elimination of transmission is defined as a reduction of transmission to such a low level that it no longer constitutes a public health problem. An international expert mission convened by PAHO/WHO visited Cuba in March 2015 to validate the progress toward the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. During a five-day visit, members visited health centers, laboratories, and government offices throughout the island, interviewing health officials and other key actors. ... The validation process paid particular attention to the upholding of human rights, in order to ensure that services were provided free of coercion and in accordance with human rights principles."

Continue reading HERE.

Cuba’s Havana Archbishop, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, threatens and attacks dissidents again

For the umpteenth time, Cuba's Cardinal Jaime Ortega shows his corruption and iniquity. And for the corresponding umpteenth time, the Vatican and the Pope (current and past) will do absolutely nothing about it. May God have mercy on them.

Via Diario Las Americas (my translation):

'You all get your information from worm-infested Miami'

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A group of Cuban opposition members who attended 4th of July celebrations at the residence of Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, claim that Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino angrily told them "you all get your information from worm-infested Miami" when the dissidents attempted to give him a petition calling for amnesty for political prisoners.

According to the opposition members, they claimed the prelate denied the existence of political prisoners on the island during the altercation and then threatened to call security to have them removed from the residence if they continued to insist on giving him the document.

The incident took place on Thursday afternoon and opposition member Egberto Escobedo, who had the conversation with Ortega, corroborated the events that took place to DIARIO LAS AMERICAS.

Escobedo confirmed that at one time during the exchange, the Cardinal claimed that there were no political prisoners on the island and that "the information all of you [the opposition] receive comes from 'worm-infested' Miami."

"The Cardinal was indignant and insulted," he emphasized.

The incident took place shortly after a musical group dressed in flashy blue uniforms and white hats played the national anthems of Cuba and the United States and after a brief welcome statement from DeLaurentis.

Officials from the U.S. and accredited diplomats attended the party in Havana. The Cubans invited took advantage of the occasion to speak with dissidents, musicians, and intellectuals.

According to a report from Ivan Garcia, a correspondent for DLA in Havana, opposition members Escobedo and Jose Diaz Silva approached Ortega to deliver a list of 51 political prisoners while he was conversing with a group of bishops. The list was compiled by the Forum for Rights and Liberties -- headed by opposition members Antonio Rodiles, Angel Moya, and Berta Soler -- who has been calling for their release every Sunday for the past two weeks despite intense repression by State Security.

In a conversation with DLA, Diaz Silva corroborated the statements made by Escobedo.

Separately, a representative from the Ladies in White group in Matanzas, Leticia Ramos Herrera, criticized Ortega's words during an interview with DLA. She confirmed that the term "worm-infested" to describe Cubans in Miami was used by the Cardinal.

The reactions

Diplomats, invitees, and foreign journalists present remained huddled together during the harsh remarks, which became the talk of the event.

"He looked like a political commissioner for a Stalinist court instead of a merciful representative of God. One would think the Catholic Church should take in everyone. But for a while now there exists a sector in the national Church that has not only turned its back on dissidents, but just like the government, it also attacks them," said Victor Manuel Dominguez, a poet and independent journalist.

An official from an embassy of a western country who asked to remain anonymous said that because of the Cardinal's position, "the least one could ask of Ortega is to listen to the complaints of any person, whether or not he agrees with them."

The genesis of the Archbishop's belligerent tone are declarations he made June 5th to Cadena Ser, a Spanish radio network, where he claimed there were no longer any political prisoners in Cuba.

That assertion provoked a strong response from opposition member Jose Luis Garcia Perez Antúnez. And it was precisely Antúnez, Rodiles, Guillermo Fariñas, Angel Moya, and Berta Soler who were present during the harsh response from the Cardinal.

"What can you expect from a society where the religious institutions that supposedly should give shelter to all believers repudiates dissidents. That is why we have, with the suspicious silence of intellectuals and a sector of the clergy, the Sunday beatings of opposition members and the Ladies in White," said Antonio Rodiles to Ivan Garcia, a reporter for DLA in Havana.

Read the entire article (in Spanish) HERE.

Is diplomatic recognition of Cuba even legal?

castro-gif

“President Barack Obama is the first president we've ever had who thinks he can choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore." (Senator Ted Cruz, March 6th, 2014)

pappa3

“It is a time to reclaim the Constitution of the United States.” (Senator Ted Cruz, March 23rd 2015.)

While liberals applaud how the smiling, slobbering, tail-wagging Obama recently rolled-over yet again for Raul Castro (plan to open U.S. embassy) Cuba-watchers remind that—yes, though the Caitlyn Jenner saga is certainly fascinating—the U.S. Constitution is again being trashed.

In brief, President Obama’s latest submission to Stalinist dictator Castro violates U.S. law, as codified by the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 (Codified in Title 22, Sections 6021-6091 of the U.S. Code) To wit:

SEC. 201 (13) To consider the restoration of diplomatic recognition…when the President determines that there exists a democratically elected government in Cuba.

If this president has determined that there exists a democratically elected government in Cuba then we’re in worse trouble than even I thought.

Now let’s turn to Sec. 207, Settlement of Outstanding U.S. Claims to Confiscated Property in Cuba:

“The satisfactory resolution of property claims by a Cuban Government recognized by the United States remains an essential condition for the full resumption of economic and diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba.”

You see, in 1960 Castro’s gunmen stole almost $10 billion (in today’s dollars) worth of property from U.S. businessmen at Soviet gunpoint. They tortured and murdered a few Americans who resisted. But Castro’s KGB-trained spies (the “diplomats” ours keep rolling-over for during “negotiations) repeatedly laugh in the face of our “negotiators” when they deign to bring up the unpleasant matter of compensation for these Castroite crimes. That such compensation is codified into U.S. law as a prerequisite for diplomatic recognition does not seem to diminish the volume of the U.S. negotiators’ slobbering, or the tempo of their tail-wagging and leg-kicking when they get their bellies rubbed by the smirking Stalinist thieves.

In brief, if this president considers the spectacle of Communist thieves laughing in the face of cowering U.S. officials as a “satisfactory resolution” of property claims by U.S. citizens against those Communist thieves, then we’re in much, much worse shape than even I thought.

Our friends at Townhall help disseminate a few items not well understood outside of a few small ethnic enclaves in south Florida and northern New Jersey.

("Pero fijense que tipo MAS DESCARA'O(!!!) este Fontova! El articulo se trata de Cuba, pero este Fontova--sabiendo bien que a la gran majoria de los lectores norteamericanos no les importa tres pepinos los asuntos Cubanos--solamente pone a Ted Cruz y la Constitucion en el titulo del articulo, para atraerlos--QUE TIPO MAS DESCARA'O!!!")

beckche3

"LE RRRONCA!!!"

Reports from Cuba: The lives of opposition leaders have their names on the government’s blacklist

By Angel Santiesteban in Translating Cuba:

The Lives Of Opposition Leaders Have Their Names On The Government’s Blacklist
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José Alberto Botell, Guillermo Fariñas’ assailant

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 3 June 2015If the Cuban dictatorship has an enemy, it is themselves, as an institution of evil. After committing their outrages, the injustices and atrocities carried out by their henchmen who commit the atrocities they are ordered to commit — at any cost — in exchange for benefits awarded them by the governing officials who believe they are the owners of the nation. They cannot hide who they are.

The government has just exposed that there are two penal codes, one for dissidents, and another one for the acolytes who commit crimes on behalf of its totalitarian regime.

Recently they have “sentenced” José Alberto Botell, who was charged with the crime of “injuries,” after wounding five dissidents with a knife, one of them, Maria Arango Percibal, a member of the worthy Ladies in White.

Mary was in intensive care because of the severity of the injuries she received she when stood in front of the assailant to protect the leader of the United Antitotalitarian Front (FANTU), Guillermo Fariñas, winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, for whom the attack was intended. The attacker also severely injured another glorious Lady in White, Isabel Fernandez Llanes, and three other regime opponents.

It is laughable that for such a criminal specimen, the prosecution would ask for a five-year sentence and the Criminal Court itself would reduce it by one year to leave it at four years maximum. Needless to say Botell was sent by the political police to get Fariñas out of the way because he openly opposes the negotiations between the United States and Cuba, unless the Castro brothers put an end to the systematic violations of human rights in advance.

If Fariñas had gone alone, or his companions had not reacted as they did, we would be grieving the loss of another opposition leader today. The type of violence shown by the attacker — who turned the scene into a carnage — even against women, shows that his intentions, meaning “orders,” were to assassinate Fariñas.

Had their plan gone well, we would now add another dead to our cause, just like they did with Laura Pollan, the leader of the Ladies in White, whose health condition deteriorated rapidly — strangely in and odd circumstances — in a hospital room commanded, supervised, ruled and surrounded by State Security agents.

Or as they did to Oswaldo Paya, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, who died after an alleged “traffic accident”, in which there is evidence showing the hand of the political police behind it, as a result of which his family and one of his companions in the car raise their voices at international bodies to demand justice.

The lives of opposition leaders, especially those who oppose the Cuba-US negotiations, have their names on the government’s blacklist and, in advance, they have been labeled already: Berta Soler and the Ladies in White, Angel Moya, Guillermo Fariñas and Antonio Rodiles, are today the “targets under the sniper’s scope with a finger on the trigger”.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 3 June 2015

Border Patrol Prison, Havana, Cuba

Translated by: Rafael

Human Rights in Cuba not invited to the Obama-Castro cocktail party

Morin in The Miami Herald:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CI_0ovnWgAAcQ-B.jpg:large

H/T Reganista

Interview with Rosa Maria Paya: The U.S. is negotiating with Cuba’s ruling caste

In Spain's El Pais (translation via Post Revolution Mondays):

“The United States is negotiating with the Cuban caste.”

Cuban regime opponent, daughter of Oswaldo Para, speaks of the shortcomings of the thaw.
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To Rosa Maria Paya (b. January 1989, Havana), daughter of the late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya and a member of the Christian Liberation Movement — founded by her father — is not afraid to say the thaw will not end “the embargo on freedoms” that the Cuban Executive imposes on its inhabitants. “The United States is talking with the Government and those surrounding it. But civil society is left outside. It is a privilege reserved for the Cuban caste. For the rest, it is a situation of exclusion,” she says.Although she looks favorably on the advance in relations between both countries — in her own words: “And attempt to include Cuba as part of the international community is good, provided the inclusion is of all of Cuba, not just the government.” Paya believes that the reestablishment of the talks offers a “halo of legitimacy to a Government that every day violates the rights of its citizens.”

And she defends, over and over again, the need for this process to come with a change for society. “The confrontation with the United States is the excise the government has used to justify some of its repressive measures. Now the excuse has fallen but the situation continues the same, which shows that it was not the United States that was oppressing Cubans, but rather the government itself.”

Among the North American giant’s motives, according to Paya, should be to defend “the opening of Cuba to Cubans themselves,” to offer legal security to entrepreneurs who want to embark on new commercial activities on the island.

“Totalitarianism is a tacit threat to them, like negotiating with the mafia. I don’t expect an altruism from foreign investors, but to negotiate without the guarantees of democracy is to accept the rules of the Cuban government,” says this young woman of 26, with some political ideas of her own who spend this same time leading rallies in front of the cameras.

In drawing a parallel between this “game that follows the rules of the Cuban government,” with the current situation of the thaw in which the United States, despite its initial demand to ensure the rights of Cubans, has finalized the embargo and removed Cuba from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, without a real advance in freedoms for society.

Paya says, “It is terrible when talking becomes more important than the objectives of the talks. When this happens, the impunity is total and the government feels free to assassinate a Sakharov Prize winner and nothing happens.” She is referring to her father, Oswaldo Paya, who died in 2012 in strange circumstances in a traffic accident. “To call it an accident is to use the government’s words,” she says.

Paya’s criticism against the executives who prefer “to ignore the violations of human rights” is not directed solely at the North American giant. The young woman even links to “the 15 years of recession experienced by the democracies in the region,” with the Cuban dictatorship.

“I’m not saying it’s the only reason, but it is a common denominator. And you can observe the complicit silence of the senior Latin American politicians with all the crimes of the region, not only those of Cuba,” she says.

The instrument that the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement proposed to achieve that advance in rights and initiate a process of the democratic transition is to hold a plebiscite to ask the citizens of the island if they want to participate in free elections, in which any citizen can stand as a candidate of the opposition, with full media coverage and, above all, “with guarantees for the voters that there will be no consequences from the powers-that-be.”

Looking at this utopian scenario cannot, however, ensure that Cubans taking to the polls is going to translate into the end of the Castro mandate. “I believe that if Cubans could vote, they would vote for freedom. But if they do not do it, all we can do is to give them the tool. Cubans will be free when they want to be so.”

Some required reading for the 4th of July : What it means to be a Cuban hard-liner

founding_fathers(long)

HARD-LINERS

Seven years ago, Mauricio Claver-Carone published a brilliant essay that analyzed the similarities between Cuban "hard-liners" and the Founding Fathers of the United States.

If you've read this before,  today is the perfect day to re-read it.

If you haven't read it yet, today is the perfect day to do it.

Happy Cuatro de Julio.  

America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!

Mauricio Claver-Carone

Mauricio Claver-Carone

From Capitol Hill Cubans:

July 4th Reminder: How Obama's Cuba Policy Breaks the Most American of Traditions.

Like every July 4th, we're re-posting the following reminder of why taking an uncompromising stand for political freedom and democracy is the most American of traditions.

This year, it's a particularly poignant reminder.

By Mauricio Claver-Carone in The Washington Times:

Why Cuban-Americans are "Hard-Liners"

May 21, 2008

The nation's mainstream media and political pundits rarely miss an opportunity to attach the label of "hard-liner" to Cuban-American critics of the dictatorship.

That begs a question: Are Cuban-Americans fairly labeled as "hard-liners"?

Indisputably, the Cuban-American community has maintained its uncompromising support for complete political freedom and democracy in Cuba. Cuban-Americans have consistently and ardently opposed any political or commercial engagement with Cuba's regime until it meets conditions set out in the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act passed by Congress in 1996. Those essentially are: Immediate release of all political prisoners; recognition and respect for fundamental human rights set out by international accords; and legalization of opposition political parties, an independent news media and independent labor unions.

HBO's popular new TV series, "John Adams," about our nation's Founding Father and second president, offers some significant historical perspectives on what "hard-liners" can achieve.

The enlightened and inspiring debates of the Second Continental Congress of 1775 included the likes of such "hard-liners" and "radicals" — as some historians now refer to them — as John Adams of Massachusetts and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. Adams and Jefferson, who became our third president, adamantly rejected all negotiations with the British monarch until the God-given freedoms of the American people were fully recognized.

Continue reading or re-reading HERE.

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Happy 4th of July and Happy Birthday to the freest country on earth!

While some are trying to extinguish our country's beacon of freedom and erase the notion of  liberty we represent, America will emerge victorious and tyranny will once again be defeated.

Happy Birthday, America!

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Ted Cruz: “when the sheep are walking among coyotes, it pays to be cynical.”

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Tell it like it is.  Don't mince words.

Or, in Spanish: Habla sin pelos en la lengua (speak without hairs on your tongue).

Any way you slice it, it's risky for any politician to be brutally frank.

But Ted Cruz doesn't mind the risk.  Instead, he embraces it.

Maybe that's what can happen when journalists tag you as being "non white" but also "non Hispanic."

Ay!  As the Swiss playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt once said: "When death has you by the throat, you don't mince words."

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From The Blaze:

Ted Cruz blasts away at biased news media

After a young staffer told Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz how “nice” a member of the media is, Cruz said he actually stopped the young man with a harsh reminder about the intentions of most reporters.

“I actually stopped him and I said, ‘You know what? No, she’s not [nice]. She wants to destroy you. Nothing would make her happier than to take your life and filet you on the front pages. And don’t think for a minute that because she smiles and is friendly to you, that it’s anything else,’” Cruz said, sharing the story on The Glenn Beck Program.

“Isn’t that pretty cynical?” Beck asked with a laugh. “I mean, I agree with you 100 percent, but it’s a little cynical!”

Cruz responded that the mainstream media is full partisans who have “picked a team,” and “when the sheep are walking among coyotes, it pays to be cynical.”

“You see Republicans when they’re interviewed by left-wing reporters, and they get afraid,” Cruz said. “They want them to like them. They are not going to like us! They hate us.”

Cruz said he finds it amusing that, even though his father was imprisoned in Cuba for supporting Castro, sometimes the mainstream media tries to say other candidates are “more Hispanic” than he is, “because there’s nothing that makes you Hispanic like embracing the left-wing amnesty agenda.”

“And look, that’s fine, the media is who they are,” Cruz concluded. “What we need to do when we deal with the media is speak the truth, but do it with a smile. Margaret Thatcher said, ‘First you win the argument, then you win the vote.’ The last several elections, we haven’t won the argument. We haven’t even made the argument.”

Ana Belen Montes, the spy unknown in Cuba

By Ivan Garcia:

Ana Belen Montes, The Spy Unknown in Cuba

In a maximum-security prison in Texas, more than 900 miles from Cuba, Ana Belén Montes, former Pentagon military-intelligence analyst, is serving 12 years, incarcerated with some of the most dangerous women in the United States.

She shares a cell with a disturbed housewife who strangled a pregnant women to take her baby, a nurse who killed four patients, and a follower of Charles Manson who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford.

According to a report written in 2013 by Jim Popkin, life in a harsh Texas prison has not softened the aging child prodigy of the Defense Department. Years after she was caught spying for Cuba, Montes maintains a defiant attitude. “I don’t like being in prison, but certain things in life are worth the price of going to jail,” writes Montes in a 14-page letter to a relative. “Or are worth the price of committing suicide after doing them, in order not to have to spend all that time in jail.”

Ana Belén, like Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansen before her, surprised the intelligence services with her audacious acts of treason. By day, she was a buttoned-down GS-14 agent in a Defense Intelligence cubicle. By night, she worked for Fidel Castro, receiving encoded messages by shortwave radio that she then passed on to her contacts in crowded restaurants, and making secret trips to Cuba when she was able to leave the United States, with a wig and false passport,

Montes spied for Cuba for 17 years. She passed on many secrets about her colleagues, defense strategies, and advanced listening platforms that the American special services had installed in Cuba, so that experts in the field consider her one of the most damaging spies in recent times.

You would think that a spy of such stature would be a national hero in Cuba. When the urbane British double agent Kim Philby defected to the old Soviet Union, the KGB treated him royally for his valuable services rendered.

Until his death in Moscow, Philby wore fancy clothes and drank his favorite malt whiskey. Richard Sorge, the Soviet agent who from Tokyo whispered to Stalin the date and time of the Nazi attack on the USSR, continues to receive posthumous honors as a hero and red carpet ceremonies in Russia.

But Castro’s intelligence service has cast its elite spy aside. Right near Obispo Street, the noisy and crowded commercial artery in the old district of Havana, lives a man who worked for Cuban counterintelligence for 25 years.

Following the defection to the United States of the intelligence officer Florentino Aspillaga on June 6, 1987, like the domino effect, many agents in Aspillaga’s circle were retired.

Continue reading Ana Belen Montes, the spy unknown in Cuba

Embassies in Cuba, the U.S., and Turkey

Lauzán:

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- Cuba reopens its embassy in the U.S.A.

- The U.S.A. reopens its embassy in Cuba

- Antonio Castro opens an "Interests Section" in Turkey

No, Mr. President, Castroite Cuba is not what change looks like

The Editorial Board of Investors Business Daily:

No, Mr. President, Castroite Cuba Is Not What Change Looks Like
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Tourists take a selfie as they drink cocktails at the Bodeguita del Medio Bar in Old Havana, Cuba. AP

Diplomacy: President Obama's much hailed "normalization" of ties with Cuba is anything but normal. Cuba is a top violator of human rights and the rule of law. Normal relations will just entrench the regime, not change it.

With a flurry of the usual cliches about going forward and not being "imprisoned by the past," President Obama hailed his own decision to normalize relations with Castroite Cuba with his trademark "This is what change looks like!" in a speech at the White House Wednesday.

Problem is, it's one of the most inaccurate statements he's ever made.

The exchange of embassies in the two countries amounts to virtually no change, given that more than 300 U.S. diplomats already staff the U.S. interests section in Havana today.

And the president's decision to permit Americans to travel to Havana and buy $400 worth of goods won't bring change either, given that the Cuban military controls all the tourist infrastructure on the island and the American tourist market is a big one.

It is Cuba's military that will benefit from the cash of curious Americans eager to visit Havana's Malecon seafront road to take Beyonce-style selfies with mojitos, posing with colorful, maraca-shaking locals.

If Cuba had a private sector of any significance, yes, there could be a change in the economic dynamic and perhaps the rise of powerful interests seeking more freedoms. But the fact remains that it's Raul Castro's military regime with its vast security apparatus that is getting the big cash lifeline from the U.S. in exchange for ... nothing. Cuba's regime will feel no pressure to change anything.

Maybe that's why most Americans — by 46% to 39% — think Obama has "given away the store," according to a poll reported by Fox News Wednesday.

The State Department has pointed out that Cuba is one of the worst violators of human rights in its recent report, operating with extreme restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly, as well as mass surveillance, a president who rules by decree, zero free or fair elections, and a vicious style of mob rule against dissenters.

Lobbyist Mauricio Claver-Carone of the Cuban Democracy Advocates in Washington has pointed out that normalization of relations doesn't even appear legal.

"According to U.S. law (Libertad Act), diplomatic recognition should only be considered 'when the President determines that there exists a democratically elected government in Cuba.' It also states that 'the satisfactory resolution of property claims by a Cuban Government recognized by the United States remains an essential condition for the full resumption of economic and diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba,'" he wrote on his blog, Capitol Hill Cubans. Neither of those conditions have been met.

Obama has assured that where he has differences with Cuba, he will speak out for "American values." Will he really?

Just as Castro has done mass surveillance on the domestic population, the Obama administration has done it, too. Just as Castro has spied on and harassed journalists, so has the Obama Justice Department. Just as Castro has ruled as dictator in the name of "the people," so has the White House, ruling by executive order.

And pardon us if we notice the similarities between Obama's big labor political surrogates forming harassment mobs on the lawns of unpopular bankers and the mob thuggery against dissidents that is normal in communist Cuba.

The bottom line is that President Obama doesn't even have the moral authority to challenge Castro, given his own presidency.

And that isn't change, that's simply making the U.S. one nation among many, ending the U.S. role as the beacon of the hemisphere and leader of the free world.

Essentially, this normalization brings the U.S. down to Cuba's level, given that money will ensure that the conditions are no longer there for Cuba to change.

Obama assured that it would all mean "a better future is ahead."

He must have been thinking of Castro.