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  • asombra: You know what Fidel was thinking in that top photo: “Gabo, you’re such a little bitch.”

  • asombra: Who’s the BS artist? Insulza, or some official Cuban “intellectual”?

  • asombra: In the 2nd photo, that’s Carlos Andrés Pérez at far left, the former president of Venezuela, also a FOF (friend of Fidel)....

  • asombra: If any writer, no matter how great, were to spew this kind of lovestruck bilge about a “fascist” dictator,...

  • asombra: Evidently, “Gabo” either didn’t know shit about José Martí or had zero respect for him. What an asshole.

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On Gabo’s Passing

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

On Gabo's Passing

Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 87, died last night at his home in Mexico City.

Known as "Gabo," he was one of the most popular and talented Latin American novelists of our time.  His writings include the epic 1967 novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Love in the Time of Cholera.

They also include Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Autumn of the Patriarch, both with strong political undertones and stinging critiques of Latin American dictators.

Unfortunately, Gabo's criticism spared dictators of the left.

His intimate friendship with Latin America's longest-serving, deadliest and only totalitarian dictator, Cuba's Fidel Castro, was legendary.

Throughout his life, Gabo's condemnation of dictators always stopped short of Havana, where he was provided a home with all of the privileges and luxuries denied to ordinary Cubans.

His double-standard became emblematic. It is practiced today by some of Latin America's leaders, including Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica -- all of whom were once themselves victims of military dictatorships and scorned those who coddled their repressors.

Yet inconceivably, these Latin American leaders now coddle the sole remaining military dictatorship of the Americas.

Goodbye Gabo. 

May your literary legacy live forever.

But close an unfortunate chapter in Latin America's ideological double-standard.

Cuba’s UNEAC: The ‘Moncada Barracks’ of Culture

Garrincha in Martí Noticias:

"UNEAC is the Moncada Barracks of culture!"

"That's interesting. Will we be having carnivals now celebrating those who died attacking the UNEAC barracks?"

Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Good Friday meditation on original sin


In 2006-- the year Fidel suffered his colonic disaster -- Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote a fawning essay published in The Guardian (UK), in which he praised the worst dictator in all of Latin American history.

Gabo didn't care that Fidel was a ruthless dictator. As far as Gabo was concerned, Fidel was a living saint.  The problem is that Gabo wasn't deluded.  He KNEW that Fidel was a ruthless monster and that is precisely what he loved most about him.  Gabo's Fidel was a Luciferian saint rather than a Christian one, and that resemblance to Lucifer made him attractive.  As The Prince of Lies had led his Revolution in heaven, Fidel had led a similar one on earth.  It was Fidel's megalomaniacal cruelty and his rejection of Judaeo-Christian ethics that made him so lovable.

On Good Friday, when Christians celebrate their liberation from the power of original sin, it is perhaps fitting that the nauseatingly sinful words of Garcia Marquez be exposed. Why call his words "sinful"? Because they reflect a love of evil and an ethic devoid of genuine love of neighbor and express warped sentiments and instincts that violate the Golden Rule: "do unto others as you would have done unto you."


The Colombian novelist was a consummate hypocrite --much like Nelson Mandela -- and that hypocrisy helped him earn him the Nobel Prize.  He lambasted Latin American dictators constantly, especially those who ruled through military juntas, yet he praised the one tyrant who raised oppression and the art of military dictatorship to new heights.  This praise was so effusive, so fawning, it often lapsed into homoerotic passion.

And after 2006, when Fidel was demoted from Comandante to Coma Andante, Gabo heaped affection and praise on Raul, the monster's testosterone-deficient little brother.


If  Gabo's words don't serve to prove the reality of the devil and of the warped impulses that afflict the human race, then perhaps the time has come for us all to live like chimpanzees in the jungle. Chimps do kill other chimps and eat their flesh, after all. And they don't even bother to cook that flesh.

Perhaps it's also appropriate to speculate that if he had been hung on a cross next to Jesus, Gabo would have played the part of the bad thief, berating and cursing the prophet from Nazareth. Why is such a speculation appropriate? Because that is exactly what Fidel would do, and Gabo admired Fidel.

His admiration of Fidel knew no bounds. Here's the proof.

The Fidel I think I know
He's a man of ironclad discipline, inexhaustible patience, colossal ideas and insatiable illusions.

His devotion is to the word. His power is of seduction. He goes to seek out problems where they are. The impetus of inspiration is very much part of his style. Books reflect the breadth of his tastes very well. He stopped smoking to have the moral authority to combat tobacco addiction. He likes to prepare food recipes with a kind of scientific fervour. He keeps himself in excellent physical condition with various hours of gymnastics daily and frequent swimming.

Invincible patience. Ironclad discipline. The force of his imagination stretches him to the unforeseen.

José Martí is his foremost author and he has had the talent to incorporate Martí's thinking into the sanguine torrent of a Marxist revolution. The essence of his own thinking could lie in the certainty that in undertaking mass work it is fundamental to be concerned about individuals.
That could explain his absolute confidence in direct contact. He has a language for each occasion and a distinct means of persuasion according to his interlocutors. He knows how to put himself at the level of each one, and possesses a vast and varied knowledge that allows him to move with facility in any media. One thing is definite: he is where he is, how he is and with whom he is.

Fidel Castro is there to win. His attitude in the face of defeat, even in the most minimal actions of everyday life, would seem to obey a private logic: he does not even admit it, and does not have a minute's peace until he succeeds in inverting the terms and converting it into victory.

If you really, really want to vomit, or are hankering for a crippling aneurysm that would allow you to collect disability checks from Social Security,  continue reading HERE.

Venezuela: Inspired by Marx!

Fausta over at Fausta's Blog:
Venezuela: Inspired by Marx!

Marxist Nicolas Maduro’s making a fashion statement inspired by Marx.

Groucho Marx, that is:

Nicolás Maduro introduced the new symbol of the revolution: The mustache cap.
The Venezuelan president surprised all during at event by showing the new icon of chavismo, by which all his followers can have his mustache.

Nicolás Maduro presentó el nuevo símbolo de la revolución: la “gorra del bigote”
El presidente venezolano sorprendió en un acto al mostrar un nuevo dispositivo del chavismo, gracias al cual sus seguidores pueden tener su bigote

The cap has a detachable mustache you can place under your nose.

I’m not making this up,

Maduro wore a blue one, but it’s also available in red or green.

Just in time for Mother’s Day! 

Bay of Pigs–nothing new under the sun


Every couple of years, for the past 40 or so, more stuff on the Bay of Pigs gets breathlessly "declassified!" blah...blah..blah generating more books and articles and symposiums...blah...blah...blah by "scholars" and "experts."

As a professional duty I've read all of it--and you know what?

Every Cuban in the U.S. knew all this stuff in 1961--at least by 1962 when the Bay of Pigs prisoners came back and our famous radio bemba cranked up. There's really nothing new under the sun. The canceled air strikes doomed the invasion. The decision was JFK's. Period. End of story. Kennedy and his cabinet and advisors were all typical Ivy League liberals ashamed of "cowboy" or "gunboat" diplomacy. Period. End of story.

There's really nothing to add to Eddie Ferrer's Operation Puma (1974)--or even to Mario Lazo's Dagger in the Heart. (1968.) The essentials were all there...Y PAL CARAJO!

But given that both Ferrer and Lazo were anti-communist Cubans (Lazo was also a U.S. citizen) their books (naturally) never got the traction they deserved in "scholarly" circles. If you're interested in the nitty-gritty spare yourselves all the trouble and all the "scholarly" mumbo-jumbo and read those two books, along with Grayston Lynch's Decision to Disaster. It's all there...Y PAL CARAJO!

Jesus, the most active resister, nonviolence and Venezuela

By John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Jesus, the most active resister, nonviolence and Venezuela

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." - Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770)

On Holy Thursday in Caracas Venezuelan students continued in their religious themed protests with a "Venezuelan Via Crucis" and attending a Mass for Peace officiated by Cardinal Jorge Urosa Sabino in the Caracas Cathedral. On Wednesday scores of Venezuelan youth marched through the streets of Venezuela "barefooted for the suffering of the country."

At the same time over twitter The King Center on the 93rd day of its 100 Days of Nonviolence campaign quoted Edmund Burke over twitter adding the affirmation "I will be nonviolent even if it is not easy."

Easter is a time for reflection, prayer, penance and celebration for Christians. According to the Christian tradition Holy Thursday is when Jesus Christ gathered his disciples for the last supper and later that same night in the Garden of Gethsemane he is betrayed by Judas and arrested.

Continue reading HERE.

Lessons learned on Bay of Pigs anniversary

(My American Thinker thoughts about another anniversary of The Bay of Pigs)

Fifty-three years ago, my father had a meeting on the other side of town in Havana where we lived at the time. Cuba was in turmoil and opposition to Castro was widespread as more and more people saw communists in positions of responsibility.

At mid-morning, my dad called my mom and told her that something was happening in Cuba.  Our phone kept ringing as friends and neighbors spread the news.

Humberto Fontova recalls the events of that day:

""Freedom is our goal!" roared commander Pepe San Roman to the men assembled before him 48 years ago this week. “Cuba is our cause! God is on our side! On to victory!” Fifteen hundred men crowded before San Roman at their Guatemalan training camps that day. The next day they’d embark for a port in Nicaragua, and the day after that would be bound for a landing site in Cuba named Bahia De Cochinos. We know it as the Bay of Pigs.

Their outfit was Brigada 2506, and at their commander’s address the men (and boys, some as young as 16) erupted. A scene of total bedlam unfolded. Hats flew. Men hugged, sang, cheered, and wept. The hour of liberation was nigh – and these men, all volunteers, were putting their lives on the line to see their dream of a free Cuba fulfilled.

The Brigada included men from every social strata and race in Cuba. There were sugar cane planters and cutters, aristocrats and their chauffeurs. Mostly, they hailed from somewhere in between, fitting for a nation with a larger middle class than most of Europe.

"They fought like Tigers," wrote CIA officer Grayston Lynch, who helped train these Cuban freedom-fighters. "But their fight was doomed before the first man hit the beach."

Lynch, knew something about fighting – and about long odds. He carried scars from Omaha Beach, the Battle of the Bulge, and Heartbreak Ridge. But in those battles, Lynch and his band of brothers could count on the support of their own chief executive.

At the Bay of Pigs, Lynch and his band of Cuban brothers learned – first in speechless shock and finally in burning rage -- that their most powerful enemies were not Castro's Soviet-armed and led soldiers massing in Santa Clara, Cuba but the Ivy League's Best and Brightest dithering in Washington. - "

The Bay of Pigs had two terrible consequences.  The first one was in Cuba.  The second one was for President Kennedy and the US.

Down in Cuba, 1500 men were left on a beach without the assistance promised.  They were eventually captured and traded for agricultural supplies a year later. The invasion was also followed by very harsh repression, as any Cuban will tell you. The regime used the moment to crackdown and fill up the political prisons.

Here in the US, President Kennedy was forced to accept responsibility for the failure.  A month later, he met Chairman Khrushchev and it did not go well, as George Will wrote on the 50th anniversary of the Vienna meeting:

"On May 25, six weeks after Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit Earth, Kennedy said that “extraordinary times” demanded a second State of the Union address. In it he proclaimed “the whole southern half of the globe” a “great battleground,” especially emphasizing a place on few Americans’ minds: Vietnam. Then he flew to Vienna to meet Khrushchev — “Little Boy Blue meets Al Capone,” a U.S. diplomat said.

Khrushchev treated Kennedy with brutal disdain. In excruciating pain from his ailing back and pumped full of perhaps disorienting drugs by his disreputable doctor (who would lose his medical license in 1975), Kennedy said that it was the “worst thing in my life. He savaged me.” British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan said, “For the first time in his life, Kennedy met a man who was impervious to his charm.” Kempe writes, “From that point forward Khrushchev would act more aggressively in the conviction that there would be little price to pay.” Kempe says that when Robert Kennedy met with his brother back in Washington, “Tears were running down the president’s cheeks.”

As Khrushchev turned up the temperature on Berlin, Kennedy studied the modalities of conducting a nuclear war. On July 25, he gave a nationally televised address, referring 17 times to the U.S. commitment to West Berlin, although the entire city was under four-power (U.S., Soviet, British, French) rule.

On July 30, in a Sunday morning television interview, Sen. William Fulbright said: “I don’t understand why the East Germans don’t close their border because I think they have a right to close it.” He was wrong regarding the four powers’ rights, and five days later he apologized for giving “an unfortunate and erroneous impression.” But Kennedy, who did not dispute Fulbright’s mistake, evidently welcomed it.

After Aug. 13, an unsympathetic Kennedy, who never asserted the indisputable legal right of free movement of people throughout Berlin, told New York Times columnist James Reston that East Germans had had 15 years to flee to the West. Reston wrote that Kennedy “has talked like Churchill but acted like Chamberlain.” Clearly, there was a causal connection between Kennedy’s horrible 1961 and the Cold War’s most perilous moment — Khrushchev’s 1962 gamble on putting missiles in Cuba."

The Bay of Pigs is obviously something of interest to my parents' generation and those of us who grew up hearing about it.

I've met men from Brigade 2506 and they are impressive fathers and grandfathers who now run businesses and recall that fateful day.

The historical value of The Bay of Pigs is that it confirms that the bad guys will always test the US president and push more and more when they sense weakness.

I hope that Valerie Jarrett is letting someone into The Oval Office who is reminding President Obama that weakness will definitely invite aggression.

As a Mexican businessman once said to me about President Reagan:  "This guy Reagan is tough.  I hope that he stays that way."

Yes, we need a tough US president.  The Bay of Pigs is one example of what happens when he "dithers" rather than leads.

P. S. You can hear my chat with Barry Jacobsen, military historian, & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.


Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dies: Can Fidel be far behind?


Fidel's chum Gabo kicks the bucket

Ding dong the cretin's dead.  Estiró la pata, as Cubans used to say.

He was a great novelist, but a despicable human being.

Anyone who counts Fidel Castro as a close friend has to be a moral monster, a degenerate, and among the most despicable of human beings.

In addition to being Fidel's pal, Gabo also gave us "Lateeen-ohs" a reputation for being nonsensical and less than rational.  His so-called "magical realism" pegged us all as totally out of touch with reality, and tagged us as noble savages -- endearing, perhaps, but also annoyingly savage and inferior to rational North Americans and Europeans.

Good riddance.  Too bad he didn't have a suicide pact with his friend Fidel and the little brother who is now running the Castro Kingdom.

And here is what the New York Times had to say.  See below. Notice that -- as always -- this equally despicable newspaper applies the label "right wing dictator" to Augusto Pinochet, but fails to mention that Fidel Castro falls into the same category on the left.

Here's a question for the obituary editor at the New York Times: if Gabo had loved Pinochet would you even be mentioning his passing?   Or what if he had admired Hitler?

Bastards. Cabrones.  And do they care that Christ died for their sins?


Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian novelist whose “One Hundred Years of Solitude” established him as a giant of 20th-century literature, died on Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.

Cristóbal Pera, his former editor at Random House, confirmed the death. Mr. García Márquez learned he had lymphatic cancer in 1999, and a brother said in 2012 that he had developed senile dementia.

Mr. García Márquez, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, wrote fiction rooted in a mythical Latin American landscape of his own creation, but his appeal was universal. His books were translated into dozens of languages. He was among a select roster of canonical writers — Dickens, Tolstoy and Hemingway among them — who were embraced both by critics and by a mass audience.

“Each new work of his is received by expectant critics and readers as an event of world importance,” the Swedish Academy of Letters said in awarding him the Nobel...

....Like many Latin American intellectuals and artists, Mr. García Márquez felt impelled to speak out on the political issues of his day. He viewed the world from a left-wing perspective, bitterly opposing Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the right-wing Chilean dictator, and unswervingly supporting Fidel Castro in Cuba. Mr. Castro became such a close friend that Mr. García Márquez showed him drafts of his unpublished books.

Continue reading HERE, if you can stand to do so.

Reports from Cuba’s Venezuela: Where have all the dollars gone?

By Juan Cristobal Nagel in Caracas Chronicles:

Where have all the dollars gone?

Reading the Venezuelan press, it’s easy to forget this is a petro-state, and that the barrel of oil is selling at prices close to its historic high.

Just today, we found out that

To put it all in perspective, Últimas Noticias has an excellent story about the day-to-day struggle of poor Venezuelans to find the things they need. One of several money quotes:

“Approximately a year ago, María Rodríguez and her husband stopped selling basic staples from their little shop, located in a small terrace in Mamera, a poor neighborhood up the hill from the Antímano boulevard, in western Caracas. “Everything has gotten really difficult [to obtain]. It’s not even worth it to go to wholesalers in Quinta Crespo or the La Yaguara Makro because, besides having to stand in line and pay for transportation, they don’t let you buy wholesale, you can only take two or four packages per person. That is only good for us, but not for reselling. Now, we just get by through selling junk food such as candy and chocolates (which we get from a local wholesaler), root beer, and soda, which distributors continue bringing us.” same story also repeats the much-vaunted line about how Venezuelans are consuming more calories than ever before. Of course, if you can’t buy chicken or flour, and instead you have to consume Torontos and Maltín Polar, you caloric intake is going to go up – way up! But is that a good thing? It’s no wonder there is one ranking where we are doing exceedingly well – obesity rankings.

This confirms the anecdotes we have been hearing about: in the first few months of the year, the supply of currency in the economy dried up almost completely. We were even hearing about how activity in our major ports was down to a trickle. Scarcity is simply the end product of a decision made by someone, somewhere, to simply shut down the supply of dollars.

Typically we try to explain this several ways: it’s the Cuban subsidies, or the boligarchs that are stealing the country’s money, or the fire in Amuay that is forcing us to import everything, or the sales in advance to China.

Me? I think it’s all of this, and then some. And while some people think the worse may be over, I have my doubts.

Reports from Cuba: ‘I only know that I am afraid’

By Tania Diez Castro in Translating Cuba:

“I Only Know That I Am Afraid”

HAVANA, Cuba — For almost the first three years of his regime, Fidel Castro was not interested in Cuban intellectuals. He did not forgive their passivity during the years of revolutionary insurrection. They had not put bombs in the street, nor did they engage in armed conflict with the previous dictator’s police. Even those who lived abroad did not do anything for the revolutionary triumph. He never forgave them. Neither he nor other political leaders considered them revolutionaries either before or after the Revolution.

Che Guevara had left it written forever in his little Marxist manual Socialism and Man in Cuba: “The guilt of many of our intellectuals and artists resides in their original sin: they are not authentically revolutionary. We can try to graft the elm tree so that it will produce pears, but at the same time we must plant pear trees.”

But the pears that Che mentioned had nothing to do with human beings because an intellectual, writer or artist is characterized by his sensitivity, his pride, his sincerity. In general, they are solitary and proud.

But also they are, and that is their misfortune, an easy nut to crack, above all for a dictator with good spurs.

During those almost first three years of the Revolution, the most convulsive of the Castro regime — the number of those shot increased and the few jails were stuffed with more than 10,000 political prisoners — surely writers did not fail to observe how Fidel Castro was cracking the free press when after December 27, 1959, he gave the order to introduce the first “post-scripts” at the bottom of articles adverse to his government, supposedly written by the graphics workers.

It was evident that Fidel Castro, who controlled the whole country, did not want to approach them to fill leadership positions of cultural institutions founded by the regime, like the Institute of Art and Cinematographic Industry, House of the Americas, the Latin News Press Agency and numerous newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations that were nationalized.

For minister of education he preferred Armando Hart. For the House of the Americas, a woman very far from being an intellectual, Haydee Santamaria.  For the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television, Papito Serguera, and for the Naitonal Council of Culture, Vicentina Antuna and Edith Garcia Buchaca, two women unknown in cultural domain.

The first approach that Fidel Castro had with writers, June 16, 1961, in the National Library of Havana, could not have been worse. It was there where he exclaimed his famous remark, “Within the Revolution, everything; outside the Revolution, nothing,” and where he made clear that those who were dedicated to Art had to submit themselves to the will of the Revolution, something that is still in force.

The maximum leader left that closed-door meeting more than pleased on seeing the expressions of surprise and fear of many of those present, and above all by the words of Virgilio Pinera, one of the most important intellectuals of the 20th century when he said: “I just know that I am scared, very scared.” That precisely was what the new Cuban leader most needed to hear from the intellectual throng: Fear, to be able to govern at his whim.

Two months later the Fist Congress of Cuban Writers and Artists was held, and UNEAC was founded.  The intellectuals had fallen into line.

Continue reading Reports from Cuba: ‘I only know that I am afraid’

Is Alan Gross more valuable to Castrogonia because he is Jewish?

Alan Gross visited  by Rabbi Arthur Schneier during the feast of Purim

Alan Gross visited by Rabbi Arthur Schneier during the feast of Purim

The answer to the question raised in this article's title seems to be "yes."

Rabbi Abraham Cooper --associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles --suggests that some oligarchs  in Castrogonia definitely think that Jews in the United States have immense clout and are therefore in a better position than most people to pressure the U.S. into releasing the Cuban "Five" (now three) in exchange for Gross.

Rabbi Cooper employs the term "freedom fighter/terrorist" for the Castronoid spies serving jail sentences in the U.S.  Whether he is being sarcastic or not is hard to tell.

But there is no doubt at all about one thing: the abysmal vileness of the Castro regime rivals that of the devil himself.

Prayers for Alan Gross' freedom on Passover 2014

By Rabbi Abraham CooperPublished April 14, 2014

I never met Alan Gross. But on Monday night, when I gather with 700 other American Jews in Phoenix to celebrate the Passover Seder, his plight will be one of the hot-button issues, along with the post-mortem on Secretary of State John Kerry’s Mideast peace talks and Iran’s imminent nuclear breakout.

That’s because it is increasingly clear that Gross, an American, is caught in a no-man’s land between the U.S. and Havana, a hostage to the Cuban authorities’ desperate desire to free five of their freedom fighter/terrorists from U.S. custody.

Gross, 64, was not convicted of espionage, but of bringing computers and satellite phones paid for by a grant from a U.S. agency to a Jewish group serving the tiny Jewish community in the communist island nation 90 miles from Florida.

I learned of Gross’ plight in 2012 from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who used a very public meeting with 200 Jewish leaders at the State Department to denounce Havana for jailing him – while distancing the U.S. government from any responsibility to get him out!

“Try to help him,” Clinton told me.

My chance came two years ago, when the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Shoah Foundation were asked to prepare a permanent Holocaust exhibition for a synagogue in Havana.

From the moment I landed, I asked to see Gross. It never happened, but I did have a formal meeting with a government official who dealt with “religious” issues (including the visit of Pope Benedict XVI that took place a few weeks later).

I urged the Cubans to release Gross on humanitarian grounds. The official emphasized that Gross had “violated the law,” but he did not accuse him of being a spy or try to justify his draconian 15-year sentence.

Later, during an informal discussion with a well-informed Cuban, it became clear that one of the reasons they threw the book at Gross was because Alan Gross is a Jew. Not that he is being mistreated in jail because he is Jewish. To the contrary. But some Cubans were convinced that his value as a hostage went up because he was a Jew.

“Everyone knows that the Jews have a lot of clout in Washington,” this person told me somewhat sheepishly – so sentencing Gross to 15 years could be the key to win the freedom of their agents jailed in the U.S., the thinking went.

Well, I guess they never Googled Jonathan Pollard, an American Jew who, despite decades of protests from members of the Jewish community over the harshness of his sentence, is still in Federal Prison in North Carolina for spying for Israel 30 years later!

So, for now, Gross remains a prisoner of unfortunate circumstances and unrealistic expectations. I have no idea what it will take to win his release. He is reported to be on a hunger strike and has myriad medical issues. I can only hope the Obama administration will make his release a priority before further economic concessions are made to the Cuban regime.

Geopolitics aside, it is true that the mitzvah (good deed) of Pidyon Shvuim (ransoming Jewish hostages) is considered of great importance. Jewish law dictates that a community can sell its last holy Torah scroll to save the life of a fellow Jew.

So if Washington or Havana were to ask this rabbi (and they have not) how to solve the Gross quandary, here would be my simple game plan: Have President Castro release Gross on humanitarian grounds, and I am sure that an interfaith group of clergy, myself included, would undertake to bring much needed medicines to help Cubans in need .

In the meantime, I will be thinking of Alan Gross and his family while eating the bitter herbs at our Passover Seder, and saying a prayer he will soon be free.

There is a shortgage of food, medicine, and shelter in Cuba – Now you can add condoms to the list

Another Advance of the Revolution!

Via The Miami Herald:

Condom shortage hits Cuba

  Havana author Polina Martínez Shvietsova wrote that the shortage of condoms in state-run pharmacies started about 15 days ago, although shops that cater mostly to foreigners still sell the prophylactics at $1.30 each — a day’s wage for the average Cuban.  First, potatoes disappeared from Cuban markets. They are back, but police are struggling to keep throngs of frantic buyers in check. And now there are shortages of beer and condoms, with some shops charging up to $1.30 for each prophylactic.

Havana blogger Miriam Celaya wrote that a woman friend had joked that if in the 1990s she had to buy condoms instead of hard-to-find balloons for her son’s birthday party, today she might have to buy him balloons so he can practice safe sex.

Cuban ruler Raúl Castro has repeatedly declared that the island is moving, slowly but steadily, away from its highly inefficient Soviet economic model and toward a more-productive system that mixes socialism with small doses of private enterprise.

Yet Cubans are complaining almost daily about shortages, sometimes in one province and not in another, sometimes in some stores and not others, and sometimes about one item and not another — for instance, no galvanized roofing sheets but lots of nails.

Havana author Polina Martínez Shvietsova wrote that the shortage of condoms in state-run pharmacies started about 15 days ago, although shops that cater mostly to foreigners still sell the prophylactics at $1.30 each — a day’s wage for the average Cuban.

“In the great majority of pharmacies in the [Havana] municipality of Playa, there’s a shortage,” she wrote. “In the municipality of Plaza, in the pharmacy at 23rd and 24th Streets, the salespeople said, ‘We have none, and we don’t know when they will arrive.’ . . .

“Nevertheless, all of the pharmacies that have no condoms do have signs recommending safe sex,” Martinez wrote in her report published in Cubanet, a Miami-based website for independent journalists.

Continue reading HERE.

Raul Castro, the enemy of unanimity by a unanimous vote

Lauzan in Yahoo Noticias:


"By an absolute unanimous vote, I hereby declare myself an absolute enemy of unanimity!"

Desperately Seeking Proof of Cuba’s Role in Venezuela?

Victoria Henderson in PanAm Post:

Desperately Seeking Proof of Cuba’s Role in Venezuela?

Scholars and Journalists Should Question State's Incentive to Conceal Information

Why does the mention of Cuba’s influence in Venezuela throw otherwise reasonable people into a seeming state of incredulity?

This week, Moisés Naím (a former minister of trade and industry for Venezuela and a former executive director of the World Bank) published an article in the Financial Times arguing that the “enormous influence that Cuba has gained in Venezuela is one of the most underreported geopolitical developments of recent times.”

I shared Naím’s article on my Twitter feed, one of many articles I have posted on the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. Oddly, none of the articles I have shared about state repression and censorship by the Venezuelan regime has elicited as much push-back from the intellectual and media set as those articles I have shared drawing attention to Cuba’s role in the Venezuelan crisis.

An article I tweeted a few weeks ago on the Cuban connection in Venezuela prompted a series of responses (some public, some private) from people who suggested that Cuba is a “red herring” of the “extreme right wing” in Venezuela and Latin America more broadly.

In response to my tweet of Naím’s recent article, a distinguished Associated Press reporter on Latin America (seconded by a reporter from Al Jazeera) responded: “documentation/testimony, please” — ostensibly referring to the need to further substantiate Naím’s claim.

That such a distinguished reporter would ask me for documentation instead of Naím seems a bit odd. Perhaps the reporter was simply taken aback that a scholar outside of the Miami and Washington enclaves would give airtime to an argument portraying the Cuban regime in a less-than-flattering light.

As I see it, there are two main points of contention with respect to Naím’s article: one is whether Cuba does, in fact, play a critical role in Venezuela; the other is whether this role has been underreported in the media (and the latter, it seems to me, is the main point of Naím’s latest article).

With respect to Cuba’s role in Venezuela, Naím quotes Juan José Rabilero, ex-head of Cuba’s Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs). A neighborhood surveillance and intelligence-gathering network, CDRs were established to ensure “revolutionary vigilance”: “Militia battalions will be created throughout Cuba,” explained Fidel Castro on launching the CDRs in 1960. “Each man for each weapon will be selected. A structure will be given to the entire mass of militiamen so that as soon as possible our combat units will be perfectly formed and trained.”

Naím notes that Rabilero, giving a speech in the Venezuelan state of Táchira in 2007, confirmed the presence of 30,000 cederristas (members of the CDRs) in Venezuela. Surely even a skeptic will accept statements about Cuba’s role in Venezuela when these statements come from officials themselves?

Continue reading HERE.

Image of the Day – Cuba for tourists vs. Cuba for Cubans

See if you can guess which is which...

H/T Yusnaby Perez