Via Capitol Hill Cubans:
Foreign Investors (Now) Warn Against Doing Business in Cuba
Some foreign businessmen only learn the hard way.
Confiscations are still the norm in Castro's Cuba -- only the modus operandi has changed a bit.
Here are recent quotes from some of Castro's largest (and now former) business partners in the transportation, tourism and food sectors:
I wouldn't recommend anyone go to Cuba to invest.
-- Lee Hacker, Vice President for Finance, Canada's Tokmakjian Group, whose CEO was just handed an arbitrary 15-year prison sentence and had all of its assets confiscated in Cuba, Reuters, 9/27/14
Foreign executives should be under no illusion about the great personal risks they run if they chose to do business [in Cuba].
-- Stephen Purvis, Chief Operating Officer, Britain's Coral Capital, who spent 16 months arbitrarily imprisoned in Cuba and whose company had all of its assets confiscated, The Economist, 8/13/13
Founding a joint venture in Cuba for a small or medium-sized foreign company is the same as putting a noose around your neck.
-- Michel Villand, CEO, France's Pain de Paris, whose two bread factories and thirteen stores in Cuba were abruptly confiscated by the Castro regime, EFE, 11/11/13
Hugo for "Chavistas"
Ernesto for "Revolutionaries"
Fidel for "Worms"
By Lt. Col. Chris Simmons (Ret.) in Cuba Confidential:
Respected Defector Exposes Cuba’s Intelligence Presence in Cold War Ecuador
Legendary Cuban Spy-Master, Manuel Pineiro Losada
Former Dirección General De Inteligencia(DGI) officer Enrique García Diaz reports that prior to the 1979 re-establishment of diplomatic ties, Cuban intelligence maintained three positions in Quito. DGI officer Boris Castillo Barroso held a position in the Latin America Energy Organization (OLADE), while Luis Enrique Benites Montero“Enrique” and Javier Buduen Martinez“Miguel Angel” served undercover with the Centro Internacional de Estudios Superiores de Comunicación para América Latina (CIESPAL).
When official ties between the two nations warmed, the Cuban Embassy was allowed to re-open on August 24, 1979. Thereafter, Castillo established the DGI Centro within the safety of Havana’s diplomatic facility. He would later be assisted by Commercial Attaché and fellow DGI officerRoberto Oliva, whom the CIA took note of in December 1981.
Oliva is a likely match for Roberto Oliva Ibarra, a Cuban official assigned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) who served as a representative to the United Nation’s Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) during the latter half of the 1970s.
García Diaz said another spy assigned to the very small Embassy was Prensa Latina Correspondent and Departamento America (DA) asset Oscar Perdomo Marin, first posted to Ecuador in June 1974. Perdomo’s DA affiliation meant he worked targets and responsibilities outside the control of the DGI Centro. The Venezuelan asset was a friend of legendary Cuban spymaster Manuel Piñeiro Losada. During the early 1980s, Perdomo’s boss in Havana was the DA’s South America Section Chief,Jose Miguel Guerra Diaz, who also personally directed DA operations in Ecuador.
Continue reading HERE.
For the left, ideology and propaganda always trumps everything else. No cost is too high or consequence too great when it comes to furthering the Marxist cause. A perfect example of this is Richmond, California mayor Gayle McLaughlin, who obviously has her Marxist priorities straight. On a recent trip to Washington D.C., the leftist city official spent all her time lobbying for the imprisoned Cuban spies behind the murder of four Americans and completely ignored the pressing needs of her own community and constituents.
Via the Richmond Standard:
Richmond mayor faces heat for lobbying for Cuban Five in Washington D.C. instead of Hacienda residents
In June, Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin boarded a plane for Washington D.C. to lobby for the release of the Cuban Five, the five Cuban intelligence officers who were imprisoned more than a decade ago following espionage-related convictions in Miami.
During the trip, McLaughlin said she met with the state department regarding the jailed Cubans, who she said were “always in my heart.”
But some community members say the mayor has failed to keep in her heart the plight of Richmond’s most vulnerable residents.
The mayor did not use her D.C. trip as an opportunity to lobby for Richmond’s public housing tenants, despite February media reports exposing squalid conditions under an allegedly mismanaged and corrupt Richmond Housing Authority (RHA).
“What about pushing and advocating for Richmond?” outspoken resident Antoin Cloird said in a June 17 opinion piece on the community website Radio Free Richmond, adding, “the mayor ordered the immediate evacuation of the Hacienda, but she walked away as soon as the television cameras were off.”
Insect and rodent infestations, water leaks, mold and safety concerns were among the problems at Richmond’s public housing developments, particularly the Hacienda. The problems led RHA Executive Director Tim Jones to call the Hacienda “uninhabitable,” a declaration that moved City Council to vote to relocate its residents.
At the time, the mayor demanded swift action and stated she was “taking responsibility for assuring things continue to move forward without delay on all levels of review and action in regard to these Housing Authority issues.”
A half-year following that statement, however, the mayor has done little to urge swift action from the feds, and the Hacienda remains inhabited.
Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay says he was unaware of any meeting between McLaughlin and federally-elected officials such as Congressman George Miller on the housing issues. He was also unaware if the mayor had requested any such meeting, although he added he does not monitor her schedule.
Continue reading HERE.
President Obama is about to be further embarrassed at the upcoming Summit of Latrine nations, so says the Washington Post.
Since all Latrine Nations support the participation of Castrogonia at the summit --and the U.S. does not -- this obstreperousness will make the U.S. president look like a party pooper.
What is the point of this Washington Post article?
It seems to be pretty simple: Foreign affairs should be conducted according to the behavior patterns of spoiled 13- or 14- year-old children. Whatever all the "cool" kids want is correct, and anyone who doesn't want to cave in to that kind of peer pressure instantly becomes a dweeb and an outcast.
And who wants a dweeb for a president?
Coolest kids in the neighborhood
Will Latin American leaders give Obama an ‘earful’ on Cuba at Americas summit?
For the United States, the last Summit of the Americas was a fairly regrettable experience.
That 2012 event is probably best remembered for the prostitution scandal that embarrassed the Secret Service, its agents' reputation for steely discipline wilted by the tropical heat of host city Cartagena, Colombia.
Things didn't go much better for President Obama inside the conference hall. The region's heads of state dog-piled on Washington over its Cuba policies, saying there should be no further meetings if the United States insisted on excluding Havana.
With the next summit scheduled for April 2015 in Panama, the Cuba issue is once more giving the administration some sweats.
Earlier this month, Panama's foreign minister flew to Havana to personally invite Cuban leader Raul Castro to participate, even though the island was kicked out of the Organization of American States (OAS), which sponsors the events, in 1962.
Panama's new president, Juan Carlos Varela, said at the United Nations last week that he wants all the hemisphere's heads of state to attend.
This leaves Washington, and Obama, in a bind. The United States and Canada are the only countries in the region that don't want communist-run Cuba to be there. But if Obama skips the conference, or sandbags it by sending Vice President Biden, it would render the already-weak OAS even more hobbled, and potentially deal a fatal blow to the possibility of future summits.
Continue reading HERE.
More incontrovertible evidence of the magnificent and benevolent "reforms" of Cuba's Castro mafia.
Cuba asked for $55 mln, assets to release Canadian CEO -company
(Reuters) - Cuba had offered a deal to release a Canadian executive sentenced to 15 years in prison last week in return for C$55 million and company assets, the Canadian firm's officials said on Monday.
Cy Tokmakjian, 74, was convicted of bribery and other economic charges. Two of his aides from the Tokmakjian Group, an Ontario-based transportation firm, received sentences of 12 and 8 years. Fourteen Cubans were also charged.
The Tokmakjian Group, which did an estimated $80 million in business annually with Cuba until it was shuttered in September 2011, filed claims worth more than $200 million through the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris and an Ontario court.
The case has strained Cuba's relationship with Canada, one of its biggest trading partners. Western diplomats have said it would dissuade foreign investors at a time Cuba is actively seeking partners from abroad to do business on the communist-ruled island.
After Tokmakjian was detained in 2011, company lawyers met with Cuban officials about the case.
"They were ... told 'We're taking all your assets and in addition you're going to have to send another $55 million down before Cy will be released,'" Lee Hacker, Tokmakjian Group's finance vice-president, told reporters at the company's Ontario headquarters. He did not say why the deal fell through.
Cuba has yet to comment on the verdict or the sentencing. A call on Monday to the Cuban embassy in Ottawa for comment was not returned.
Other attempts at negotiation have failed, partly because Tokmakjian does not want to admit to crimes he has not committed, his son Raffi Tokmakjian said. Efforts to strike a deal have also been stymied by lack of direct contact with decision makers.
Tokmakjian Group's Cuban lawyers said the government also wants international claims dropped.
"The problem is we don't know who we're talking to. It's like we're dealing with a ghost," said Hacker.
Continue reading HERE.
It's totally Latrine behavior, learned from the masters in Havana.
They owe money they borrowed. They refuse to pay it back.
They dub their creditors "vultures" and reject all claims as a violation of their "national sovereignty."
From the unrepentant former imperialists at the BBC
Argentina found to be in contempt of court by US judge
A US judge has ruled that Argentina is in contempt of court for refusing to obey an order to repay the debt it owes to two US hedge funds.
Argentina has been mired in a US court dispute with the funds, which bought the country's debt at a discount after its default in 2001.
In July, Judge Thomas Griesa ruled that Argentina must repay the funds before it can repay other bondholders.
Argentina refused, sending the country into default. Earlier on Monday, Argentina's ambassador to the US warned in a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry that if the country was found to be in contempt of court, it would represent "unlawful interference" in Argentina's domestic affairs. Judge Griesa said he would decide on a penalty at a later date.
After Argentina defaulted on its debt in 2001, the country negotiated a settlement with the majority of its bondholders to repay a certain portion of the amount owed.
However, two hedge funds - NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management - have demanded full repayment of the $1.5bn (£920m) they are owed, and have sued to prevent the country from paying back only its restructured bonds.
Argentina has refused, saying that they are "vulture funds", and attempted to enact legislation to skirt Judge Griesa's ruling. That has left two banks in New York - Bank of New York Mellon and Citigroup - with millions of dollars on hold that Argentina had planned to pay in interest to holders of its renegotiated debt.
When you do business with criminals, you risk becoming their victim.
In one way -- let's call it "the way of the world"-- you can't really feel too sorry for this Canadian businessman who had no qualms about dealing with the Castro crime syndicate. And you might even say that he got what he deserved.
In another way -- let's call it "the golden rule" way -- you have to admit this guy is getting seriously shafted. And you have to feel compassion for him and his family.
But, then again, isn't this shafting exactly what Cubans have been enduring for 55 years and what Canadians have been ignoring all along, quite gleefully, while they stuff their pockets with blood money? Where has their compassion been during those 55 years?
Which brings up a rather basic question: Why is it that when a Canadian gets treated like a Cuban by the Castro regime, all of a sudden the news media is all over the story, and cries of "injustice" are taken seriously?
Are Canadians really that much more important than Cubans or so much superior to them?
GTA businessman jailed in Cuba maintains his innocence
Now facing 15-year-sentence, Cy Tokmakjian, head of Ontario-based Tokmakjian Group, tells son Rafi claims against him completely false
VAUGHAN, ONT.—The son of a Canadian businessman jailed in Cuba on corruption-related charges says his father maintains he’s innocent and is determined to fight for his freedom.
Rafi Tokmakjian says the claims against his father Cy, who has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, are completely false.
He says he’s spoken to his father over the phone and he insists he’s done nothing wrong.
Tokmakjian says his father — who owns the Ontario-based transportation company Tokmakjian Group — has done business for 40 years both in Canada and abroad without any problem.
He says his father ran his business appropriately and in accordance with every single law in those jurisdictions.
The company said its lawyers were notified Friday that Tokmakjian, 74, was convicted and sentences on a variety of charges that Cuban officials call part of a widespread campaign against graft.
He was held for more than two years before being tried in June.
The company’s Cuban offices were raided in 2011 as Cuba launched an anti-graft drive that has swept up foreign business executives from at least five nations as well as government officials and dozens of Cuban employees at key state-run companies.
Foreign business people have long considered payoffs ranging from a free meal to cash deposits in overseas accounts to be an unavoidable cost of doing business in Cuba. President Raul Castro has said that rooting out rampant corruption is one of the country’s most important challenges.
Tokmakjian Group issued a statement earlier this year saying Tokmakjian did nothing wrong and suggested he didn’t get a fair trial.
Toronto-area MP Peter Kent has called the conviction “a travesty of justice,” and is calling for Tokmakjian to be sent back to Canada.
While countries south of the U.S. border keep going "Latrine" and electing politicians who espouse "21st century socialism," in France the tide seems to be flowing in the opposite direction.
Is this a prelude to the November elections here in the U.S.A.?
Maybe? If France turns its back on the left and its abysmal failures, is this any indication of what could happen on this side of the North Atlantic Ocean?
From France 24
French conservatives win senate elections in fresh setback for Socialists and President Hollande
Just three years after France’s upper house Senate made history with its first ever swing to the left, the right clawed back a majority Sunday in a new setback for Socialist President Francois Hollande.
The conservative UMP party of Hollande’s predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy and its allies from the centrist UDI have a majority of between 10 and 20 seats, according to partial results.
The far-right National Front (FN), meanwhile, set a record by winning two seats in the house for the first time in what its leader Marine Le Pen described as a “historic victory”.
“It’s the first time that we are entering the Senate and in a nice way, with two senators,” she said.
Stephane Ravier, one of the two successful FN candidates, reflected the party’s upbeat mood, saying: “Now there is only one more door to push open, that of the Elysee (presidential palace).”
The fortunes of the FN have been on the ascendent this year with the anti-immigration eurosceptic party gaining electoral ground in municipal elections and topping the European Parliament vote in May.
An opinion poll this month showed that FN leader Le Pen would beat Hollande in presidential elections in 2017 in the event of a second round run-off between them.
The Senate elections saw more than 87,500 regional and local elected officials nationwide vote for their preferred candidate, six months after the Socialists suffered a drubbing in municipal polls that saw the right make significant gains.
Continue reading HERE in English. and HERE in French.
Juan Carlos Gálvez with vice president Machado Ventura on 14 December 2008 at the 7th Congress of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution
From Translating Cuba, via Capitol Hill Cubans and 14ymedio:
Must-Read: Real Corruption in Cuba Stems From the Very Top
An official with the Housing Institute denounces corruption and privileges, as well as reprisals taken against his family.
14ymedio, September 24, 2014 – Before leaving Cuba in October, 2013, the author of this accusation occupied an important post at the Housing Institute and, as a jurist, saw firsthand the intrigues perpetrated by high-level officers of the agency to illegally grant properties to elites and friends. As is shown in the accompanying photos, Juan Carlos Gálvez Migueles was an active participant in the political life of the Island. On December 14, 2008, Gálvez was elected to the national secretariat of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, and ratified as a member of the executive committee of that organization.
A lawyer by profession, Gálvez worked as a counterintelligence officer following his studies at the Eliseo Reyes Rodríguez “Capitán San Luis” Advanced Institute of the Interior Ministry. His problems started when he refused to collaborate in the legalization of mansions belonging to the children of ex-President Fidel Castro.
“I was disappointed in many things about the system that were drummed into me and that I was taught to defend. The blindfold fell from my eyes when I saw the problems of daily life in the real world of the average Cuban,” Gálvez told 14ymedio in an email exchange. “That system is not made for honest, sincere, hardworking people like me, where the more corrupt one is, the better.”
My Duty is to Denounce – I Am Not Afraid
by: Juan Carlos Gálvez Migueles
By these presents I wish to make a public statement about the violation being committed by officials of the Cuban State who represent the Provincial Housing Administration of Havana, against three women and a girl of just one year of age, with the intent of evicting them from the property located on 3rd Street, Building 15022, Apt. 10, between 7th and N streets, Altahabana neighborhood, Boyeros municipality. These women are: Sara Elvira Migueles Velo, 47-years-old; Rosaima Rodríguez Migueles, 17-years-old; Marinelvis Martínez Migueles, 24-year-old, mother of a one-year-old girl, named Aynoa. They are, respectively, my mother, sisters and niece.
The property from which the authorities want to remove them was acquired by this writer in May, 2012, when I was appointed Principal Specialist of the Havana Provincial Housing legal division, while in process of being named assistant legal director of this agency.
In August of 2013, I was accepted to participate in an advanced public administration course at the University of Extremadura, Spain. However, the Spanish embassy did not grant me a visa because I missed the deadline to submit some required original documents. At that point I decided to leave Cuba for good, due to various reasons that at present I don’t believe it opportune to divulge.
Continue reading HERE.
Dr. Felix Regueira
How many stories like this do you know of, personally?
Maybe dozens? Hundreds? Maybe it's your own story?
Every now and then some local newspaper far from South Florida scoops up one of these stories. They think it's extraordinary. Little do they know.
Quite often, these small local newspapers are the only news media that seem to have a reasonable approach to the history of the so-called Revolution and the exodus caused by it, even though they sometimes scramble the details.
In this case, the scrambling is somewhat intense: Though the article states that this young Cuban exile with a Gallego surname came to the U.S. directly after fleeing to Spain, a side bar (not included below) states that he obtained his Bachelor's and M.D. degrees in Galicia, Spain (Santiago de Compostela), and moved to the U.S. afterwards. (Time to laugh: the side bar states that he obtained his degrees at the "University of Santiago de Compos Tela in Spain.")
God knows how he learned English in a remote corner of Franco's isolated Spain and what he had to do to get licensed in the U.S. That would be another whole article.
And so would his parents' story, and his wife's story..... Well, you know.... all too well.
This is the Cuba killed by Castroism. Multiply this guy's story by millions. Time to weep: Castroism killed a rising giant of a nation and aborted its potentially brilliant future.
From The Victoria Advocate (Texas)
Doctor recalls fleeing Cuba, support of his parents
Six weeks before his 15th birthday, Felix Regueira made a decision that would change his life.
He left everything he had ever known - his home, country and parents.
Regueira fled Cuba in 1966, seven years after Fidel Castro overthrew the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship and created a communist country.
Regueira, now 62, practices pediatrics in Victoria and has done so for more than 30 years. He came to the Crossroads in 1979 because of the need he saw for pediatricians at a time when only three served the entire city.
Regueira said he never become what he wanted to be without making the bold move to leave.
He did it all so he could achieve his dreams.
"I am very lucky," Regueira said. "Fidel Castro made it so that males that were 15- to 40-years-old could not leave the country for military purposes."
Regueira said he had beautiful memories of his country before Castro took power. He said Cuba had a flourishing economy and radiated in culture.
Although he was young, he said, he felt the harsh turn of government. He turned to his grandfather to explain the meaning of communism.
"He said (communism) is what they have in Russia," Regueira said. "That means we're going to lose everything we have ever owned. Everything is going to be state-owned."
As years passed, Regueira said, Castro sequestered all of what Cuba's economy thrived on. He said the government took over international companies, then Cuban industries and finally prevailed over community businesses - like his father's grocery store.
"My father, who worked so hard at his store, became an employee of his own business." he said. "I told my parents, there is no future here. I had to leave."
Regueira said saying goodbye to his parents and brother without knowing if he would ever see them again was incredibly difficult.
Nevertheless, he said, he remained strong and boarded a plane to Spain, eventually landing in Miami.
"I knew with a system like that there is no freedom of choice," Regueria said. "The government dictates everything you will be. I was able to become what I wanted, and I gave my kids a chance at a future."
Regueria's parents and brother made it to the United States a few years later. Regueria said his mother worked as a seamstress and father as a butcher to put him and his brother through medical school.
Regueria's wife, Norma, also fled Cuba during the beginning of Fidel Castro's reign. Leaving was not easy - her father was imprisoned for two years under false accusation, slowing down the process.
The couple, who have been married for 42 years, both said they are living examples of immigrants working hard and prospering in America.
"We have to realize that there is poverty on the other side," Norma Regueira said. "I fully understand that there needs to be a land of law and order. We have to see that people from other countries have a lot to offer. We have to make the process of applying for citizenship more friendly so we don't continue to have desperation leading to breaking laws."
She said her husband encompasses great love for the work he does helping children.
"My husband is just a passionate man about what he does," she said. "Medicine is what drives him; it's his passion. I would not have it any other way."
The doctor, who built his own practice, said he could never see himself doing anything else.
"One thing I like about pediatrics is how children get better." he said. "They come in sick one day and the next day they are better. That stimulates my mind and body-that I'm doing something so fast and so good."
With all his success, Regueira always sticks close to his roots, and often reflects at the sacrifice his parents made for him and his brother.
"My parents are a great example of how to lose everything and start all over again," Regueira said. "They have never gone out of Miami, never went to a movie, never traveled. All they did was work all the time to help my brother and I. They made the ultimate sacrifice for us."
By Fernando Damaso in Translating Cuba:
Another Absurd Prohibition
Wandering around some of the shopping streets in Havana, with the objective of photographing shop logos embedded in the granite floors of their entrances, I was shocked at the Fontana store on Neptuno Street with the absurdity that accompanies us every dat.
When I was taking the picture, after having come to an agreement with the clerk who was sitting next to one of his dirty shop windows, a character who said he was the manager came out, angry, and told me it was forbidden.
On asking him why, he responded to me, upset, that it was an order from the superior bosses, adding: It is forbidden to photograph the floor, the store inside and out, the display windows and even the bars.
I smiled and answered him: Tell your superior bosses that it is forbidden to photograph the ruins that Havana has been turned into, cannot hide the reality
I’ve confronted this absurd situation in cafes, restaurants, shops, offices and other state property. It seems, indeed, to e a government regulation. Perhaps they think that someone could copy their primitive sales systems and abuse the public. Anything is possible.
But it’s not the case in private establishment, where they’re happy when people take pictures and the employees themselves will push the shutter for you, because it’s free advertising.
Clearly, between the private businesses and the state businesses there is a lot of difference: the former are pleasant, agreeable with good service, while the second, although the sell in hard currency, are dirty, disagreeable and with the worst service.
As a photograph is worth a thousand words, here I show you some that speak for themselves. The title photo is the sidewalk on Fontana, taken before the manager came out, the second is Neptuno between Consulado and Industria.