We spoke on Friday night with Comandante Cazorla in Venezuela. He updated the situation in his homeland.
Michael Prada joined me to talk about the influence of Cuba in Venezuela.
Florida Governor Rick Scott in the Sun Sentinel:
President Obama, stand with the people of Venezuela
In the last few weeks, the stories and images coming out of Venezuela have been infuriating, heartbreaking, and devastating. President Nicolas Maduro has unleashed the power of a police state against the Venezuelan people, who are being bloodied, beaten, and murdered at the hands of their own government.
We are witnessing a regime striking down its own people for exercising their voice and speaking out against those in power. The situation is tragic and unacceptable. As governor, I've been proud to stand side-by-side with Florida's Venezuelan community as we demonstrate our support for the people of Venezuela who refuse to be silenced.
Sadly, you won't likely hear that kind of support from President Obama when he visits Miami today. Despite the continuous images of violence and the pleas from our Venezuelan community, the president has been silent. The message to the president should be clear: Maduro's actions deserve not only the strongest condemnation, but also warrant significant sanctions.
Last week, I met with President Obama at the White House and asked him to immediately announce that the U.S would consider sanctions against Venezuela. He did no such thing.
I also visited El Arepazo 2, a Doral restaurant and gathering spot for the Venezuelan community to express support for their friends and family back home. I was moved by their passion and pride. I sent a letter to the president asking him to visit Doral so he could hear the calls for freedom and democracy in Venezuela, but he has stayed silent.
I applaud the leadership of Leopoldo Lopez, the pro-democracy leader who has called for peaceful opposition to the Maduro administration. His renewed calls for protests will continue to send a message to the regime and the rest of the world that the Venezuelan people will continue to be resolute. President Obama should use all diplomatic measures to denounce his unjust arrest. Once again, the president has taken no meaningful action.
We know that the Cuban dictatorship of the Castro brothers has a close relationship with Maduro, and is helping to guide his oppressive apparatus. This sort of meddling only threatens freedom in Venezuela as communist Cuba threatens to exert greater influence. President Obama needs to recognize the seriousness of that threat and act accordingly, but he has choosen to ignore these troubling signs.
We are lucky to live in a country that believes in a foundation of liberty and free speech. Freedom-loving people around the world look to the United States as an example of how to embrace diverse political backgrounds, foster differing opinions, and use those differences to make our communities and our country stronger.
Continue reading HERE.
By Rene Gomez Manzano in Translating Cuba:
Fidel, the Lawyer Who Never Won a Case
The awarding of the National Law Prize to Fidel Castro—who abolished the judicial branch, established “revolutionary courts,” did away with procedural guarantees, and outlawed unfettered advocacy—is a mockery of justice.
I acknowledge that when I read that item my first thought was: “But hadn’t he already been given that?” We know that in these totalitarian regimes dominated by Marxism-Leninism, the bosses, by virtue of being that, are destined for all the distinctions, recognitions, and awards that have been or might be given. That the alumnus Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz had not been previously considered when this Prize was first granted probably cost some bureaucrat in the judicial sector a good scolding.
Now that it is an accomplished fact we should ask: What objective reasons exist for granting it? Was it based on the person’s performance before or after coming to power? The dilemma warrants that we briefly address these issues in order to give a response.
The professional practice of the older Castro after graduating as a lawyer was practically nil. In this he is no different from other figures who have gotten into history carrying a law degree. Internationally: Robespierre, Karl Marx, Lenin. In Cuba: Agramonte, Céspedes, Martí. These are just a few examples.
Fidel and his logorrhea
Of course I’m not making value judgments, simply naming people who, for better or worse, have earned a place in history. “Lawyer” is the title that is generally used to describe those figures. Although the appellation is not false, it is not really accurate nor illuminating. To more accurately describe what is common in these characters, we have to use a slightly longer phrase: “Lawyers without cases.”
This last characteristic is what distinguishes these beings. Unlike their colleagues, their activity is not devoted to drafting legal documents, outlining legal theories, or obtaining the acquittal of an accused. No; in the universities they were outfitted with the same tools, but they use them, if at all, to achieve more ambitious and broader political or social objectives. If they represent a clientele, it is political and not professional.
In the case of Fidel Castro, the grantors argue that the Prize is granted “to mark the 60th anniversary of his self-proclaimed defense ’History will absolve me.’” According to Granma, the obliging colleagues of the association of legal officials described this document as “a seamless legal piece . . . that has transcended the boundaries of space and time.”
Continue reading Reports from Cuba: Fidel, the Lawyer Who Never Won a Case
Brazil's Dilma Roussef protects the unscrupulous and infamous Odebrecht to ensure tyrants remain in power and the cash keeps flowing.
Juan Cristobal Nagel in Caracas Chronicles:
Grandpa, where do you keep your wallet?
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, she for whom everything is “an internal affair” unless it involves left-wing Latin presidents, is calling for an emergency meeting of UNASUR next week here in my adopted hometown of Santiago.
As we all know, Foreign Minister Elías Jaua went on a whirlwhind tour of South America last week, desperate to prevent the OAS from discussing Venezuela, and instead proposing it go to a friendlier forum such as Unasur. It seems like that is going to happen a few kilometers from where I am writing this. We can expect a wholehearted endorsement of the Maduro administration from UNASUR, as well as a denunciation of a “soft coup” and of “fascists” trying to overthrow him. It won’t matter one bit, since people will remain on the streets.
The interesting thing, though, is that Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht, the Gerald Fords of construction firms, are owed more than $2 billion from the Venezuelan government. Should I connect the dots for you? Dilma + UNASUR + $2 billion = Love for Maduro.
Odebrecht has become the nuts and bolts of the Brazilian operation in Venezuela. With $20 billion in investment projects in the country, and 13,000 employees in Venezuela alone, this firm is so deeply entrenched in the survival of the Maduro administration, that it becomes the Brazilian Foreign Ministry’s only concern in Venezuela, just like its diplomacy toward Cuba is guided by the same goals. And if Maduro continues to destroy PDVSA, a competitor of Petrobras, then that’s just the cherry on top.
Explosive incendiary devices manufactured by student posed no threat whatsoever.
Saamer Akhshabi, A Georgia Tech student from Iran who burned himself very badly while making molotov cocktails died yesterday. He had spent the past week in agony at a hospital with third-degree burns over 90% of his body.
When he was removed from his apartment last week, after a huge explosion caught his neighbors' attention, police and FBI agents found evidence that he was manufacturing molotov cocktails.
All who knew this computer engineering student praised him as very intelligent and charming.
The question remains: why was he making molotov cocktails?
Unfortunately, that question has been answered by authorities according to the official game plan of the Obama Ministry of Truth:
"There is nothing wrong here. Pay no attention to the threat behind the curtain. Move on. We will never be in danger. Think happy thoughts."
Here is the official word, from Georgia Tech:
“We have worked closely with other law enforcement agencies during the investigation of this tragic incident. The FBI has relayed that, to date, they have not developed any information or evidence indicating criminal intent in this investigation,” said GTPD interim Chief Robert Connolly. “As a result of the above, it was determined that Mr. Akshabi was not a threat to the Georgia Tech community."
Notice please, that the word "terrorism" is absent from the quote above. Notice also that the event is dealt with in terms of "criminal intent" and that the wordsmiths cleverly use this smokescreen to avoid the sticky issue of the molotov cocktails.
So, were the incendiary devices part of a fraternity prank? A hobby, not much different from stamp collecting? A class assignment for Computing 743 ?
This response from the authorities assumes that the public is very gullible or stupid. It's part of a larger pattern, all to familiar in our sad day and age: all threats are officially ignored. The list is way too long, for there are several items added to it every day -- items that are seldom checked or questioned by the news media.
Nothing is a threat. No one is a threat. Kumbaya. We have no enemies. Let's reduce our military. Keep calm and put your head back in the sand. Shred that list of terrorist states.
Read more about this tragic "accident" HERE.
Capitol Hill Cubans reveals what Damien Cave didn't and couldn't mention in his recent article about "private" business in Cuba in the New York Times:
What NYT Doesn't Say About "Private Enterprise" in Cuba
This week, The New York Times ran a story about Cuban exiles providing humanitarian relief to their homeland.
Apparently, the NYT has been unaware that Cuban-Americans have always been the main source of humanitarian relief to the island. They may also be surprised to find out that the U.S. provides more humanitarian aid to Cuba than the rest of the world combined.
To that end, U.S. sanctions have always had humanitarian exemptions. With one important caveat -- to ensure such aid is not funneled through the Castro regime.
And there's good reason for this.
In recent examples, pursuant to Hurricane Sandy in 2012, we saw how foreign aid supplies ended up in the regime's hard-currency stores and tourism facilities. Also, how a Cuban independent journalist was imprisoned, pursuant to discovering medical aid to fight a cholera outbreak was being kept at Havana's airport, rather than being distributed.
But then, in a neat trick, the NYT story tries to confabulate business support with humanitarian relief.
It romanticizes a program called, Cuba Emperende, which through the Catholic Church (whose senior leadership has been supportive of the current dictatorship), trains Cuban entrepreneurs.
First and foremost, Cubans don't need help being entrepreneurial. It's in our DNA. All Cubans need is freedom and a rule of law -- and they overwhelmingly tend to succeed. This has been proven generation-after-generation in the U.S. and any democratic country throughout the world where Cubans have established themselves.
More pertinently, it's disingenuous to talk about "private enterprise" or "small business" in Cuba, for both of these terms imply private ownership. And unfortunately, private ownership is illegal in Cuba. Thus, Cuba Emprende may be training entrepreneurs in Cuba, but their enterprises are owned by the Castro regime.
For example, the "paladar" featured in the NYT story is run on a self-employment license. That means, the licensee has permission to run a small restaurant and keep some of the earnings, but the licensee has no ownership rights -- intellectual or tangible -- over the "paladar." Moreover, they have no legal recourse.
Sure, the licensee may be making a bit more money than working at the government factory, but it is still working for the owner and landlord -- the Castro brothers. And at their whim, as we've seen time and again, the license and "paladar" is no more.
Of course, the most successful "paladares" are fairly safe, as they tend to have the "protection" of a senior military or intelligence official.
A State Department cable -- released by Wikileaks -- once noted:
"A USINT officer outside the XXXXXX paladar XXXXXX spotted the supposedly 'self-employed' owner drive up in a car with Ministry of the Interior (MININT) plates. A one-table paladar in the Santa Fe neighborhood (known as the 'fish paladar') reportedly enjoys an elite clientele - Raul Castro."
And recently, another Cuban independent journalist revealed how the true "owner" of Havana's chic (and supposedly "private") Star Bien restaurant was the son of Castro's repressive Minister of the Interior, General Abelardo Colome Ibarra.
(Notice how these things never tend to be discovered by foreign investigative journalists?)
So when Cuba Emprende (not surprisingly, run by Carlos Saladrigas and Co.) states that it is "interested only in incubating small businesses, in line with the government’s stated economic policy" -- it is cause for great skepticism.
It's also reason why the current safeguards in U.S. law remain in place -- and be enforced.
For the goal should not be training, financing and managing businesses (unwittingly or not) for the Castro brothers.
Cuba's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodriguez, confirms what we all know and expected, but the media refuses to report:
"We express the invariable and total solidarity to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and its constitutional President Maduro, to the government and the political-military leadership before the foreign interference, especially the United States, the attempts to defeat violently the legitimate government elected democratically, the events organized by fascist groups that have provoked deaths, wounded and destruction, the sabotage and the economic aggression and the transnational media campaigns. Cuban collaborators will continue working to the benefit of the Venezuelan people and will comply with their duty under any circumstance as it was demonstrated by their presence during yesterday’s civic-military parade."
"The entire world--from the European parliament to the Spanish government to the United Nations --knows that the reforms in Cuba are a fraud, that my father died at the hands of the Cuban government after many death threats from that government and that fundamental rights and freedoms are violated daily in Cuba....And yet most of these powerful international actors keep pretending. (Rosa Maria Paya Jan. 30 2014)
Imagine if you will...an "international human-rights community," that made an international human-rights hero out of a terrorist who was found guilty (by an independent judiciary during a trial witnessed by dozens of international observers) of planting bombs in public places.
Imagine if you will...this same international community relentlessly battering (in verbal form) an finally strangling to death (in economic form) the segregationist regime responsible for this trial and the subsequent jailing of the convicted terrorist, among many others...
Now imagine if you will...this same "international human rights community" verbally-excusing and financially-succoring a Stalinist-segregationist regime that jailed and tortured political prisoners at over ten times the rate of the segregationist human-rights violator they demonized, anathemized and finally strangled to death economically...
According to Anti-Apartheid activists a grand total of 3,000 political prisoners passed through South Africa’s Robben Island prison in roughly 30 years under the Apartheid regime, (all after trials by an independent judiciary, in Mandela's case with international observers cramming the courtroom) Usually about a thousand political-prisoners were held in South Africa's jails. These were out of a South African population of 40 million.
Now according to the Human Rights group Freedom House a grand total of 500,000 political prisoners have passed through the Castro-regime's various prisons and forced labor camps (many after "trials" modeled on Andrei Vishinsky's, others with no trial whatsoever.) At one time in 1961, some 300,000 Cubans were jailed for political offenses (many in torture chambers and forced-labor camps designed by Lavrenti Beria's disciples.) This was out of a Cuban population in 1960 of 6.4 million.
Imagine if you will...the disillusionment--nay, the shock and bewilderment of people like Rosa Maria Paya who while living in Stalinist Cuba perhaps harbored the impression that the same "international human-rights community" whose poster-boys her dad's movement adopted and whose leaders they admired, might display at least a molecule of support for Cuban victims of Stalinism-Segregation...?
....Welcome to the Twilight Zone, Ms Paya.
Via Fausta's Blog:
Venezuela: Door-to-door raids, AWOL colonels, Panama out
A new stage in the Cubanization of Venezuela: the Comités de Defensa de la Revolución (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution) have now arrived.
I received an email from Venezuela describing a new situation: Neighbors in the same buildings reporting anyone who protests to the National Guard, who then tear down the front door and arrest all the people in the apartment of the alleged protesters.
Fidel Castro’s “collective system of revolutionary vigilance,” in a new country.
According to NGO Foro Penal Venezolano, Protests in Venezuela leave 1,084 detainees so far
Unlike most reporters, this CNN reporter did go into the fray,
Andrea Shea King posts on the apps:
Zello? According to DefenseOne, this is the app that’s fueling the uprising in Venezuela. The Walkie-talkie app is the favorite app of protest organizers in Venezuela and in Ukraine.
Bookmark these alternatives to text messaging: What’sApp and Telegram. Or begin using them now.The Crowdpilot app lets others listen in to each other’s conversations, especially helpful in situations like thrones [sic] in Ukraine and Venezuela.
In the city of Valencia, three National Guard colonels are AWOL after refusing to fire on their fellow citizens.
After Panama requested a meeting at the Organization of American States (OAS) to discuss Venezuela’s crisis, Maduro cut ties with Panama, calling country a ‘lackey’ for the United States.
Maduro used the most insulting terms, calling the president of Panama a “groveling lackey”, while telling the OAS to stay out of Venezuela, now and forever.
Continue reading HERE.
In an Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times, Robyn Wapner completely dismantles the Atlantic Council's push-poll on Cuba, which the media continues to quote as if it were legitimate and not a carefully crafted piece of pro-Castro propaganda.
Just how do Americans see Cuba?
Nothing about U.S. relations with Cuba is simple. But a recent Atlantic Council poll examined none of the nuances.
The Washington-based think tank Atlantic Council released a poll last month that has been touted by many as marking an unprecedented shift in support for a change in U.S. policy toward Cuba. Media outlets, including the L.A. Times, jumped on the bandwagon, citing the poll as evidence that Americans are now eager for engagement. But a closer look shows that many of the most consequential results of the poll are based on push-polling tactics.
Push polling is the craft of designing survey questions to shape and influence the results. In this case, several questions in the Atlantic Council Cuba poll appear to "push" respondents toward assuming a position against current U.S. policy.
The Atlantic Council's survey examined none of these nuances [Cuba's lawless and terrorist acts past and present]. It barely got beyond simple talking points. For example, the question that garnered the most touted finding read:
"As you may know, since 1961 the United States has had no diplomatic relations with Cuba and restricts trade and travel with Cuba for the vast majority of American citizens and businesses. Would you favor or oppose normalizing U.S. relations with Cuba / the U.S. engaging more directly with Cuba?"
And if a respondent answered no, he or she was subjected to this follow-up:
"The United States has formal relations or at least talks and negotiates with many countries that are not friendly to us, have poor human rights records, or both, including China, Russia and Iran. Yet we continue NOT to have any relations or discussions with Cuba. Knowing this, let me ask you again, do you favor or oppose normalizing U.S. relations with Cuba / the U.S. engaging more directly with Cuba?"
Another question asked whether Cuba deserves to be a designated state sponsor of terrorism. Those who said yes were prompted with this:
"Thousands of Al Qaeda terrorists are in Sudan or Syria, and Iran has been aggressively building its nuclear program. Despite human rights abuses, Cuba poses none of the active dangers to the United States and our security that these other countries possess. Thinking again, does Cuba pose the same threat as Sudan, Syria and Iran, and thus belong on the state-sponsored terrorism list?"
Ask a question enough different ways with enough leading statements and pollsters are bound to get the answer they want.
Further, while the poll asked respondents about ways U.S. policy toward Cuba could be changed, none of the options provided the opportunity to demonstrate support for components of current U.S. policy.
Read the entire take down of this propagandist poll HERE.
In spite of the multitudinous assurances from the "Cuba Experts" of the incredible magnanimity and supreme benevolence of the "reforms" being implemented by the Castro brothers' brutally repressive apartheid dictatorship in Cuba, Cubans continue to throw themselves into the sea in an effort to escape.
Via The Miami Herald:
Cruise ship rescues 24 Cuban migrants in Caribbean
A passing Carnival cruise ship has rescued 24 Cubans stranded in a wooden boat for five days, part of an apparently increasing number of would-be migrants setting off from the southeastern end of Cuba and trying to reach the United States.
The 2,000-passenger Carnival Paradise picked up the 23 men and one woman on Wednesday and put them ashore at its next scheduled stop in the Cayman Islands, a British territory about 125 miles south of Cuba.
“In keeping with a longtime tradition of aiding mariners in distress, Carnival Paradise altered its course and brought on board 24 individuals from Cuba who were provided with food, water, fresh clothing and accommodations and evaluated by the ship’s medical team,” the cruise company said in a statement.
Cayman authorities have reported spotting a growing number of Cuban migrant vessels in territorial waters in the past year, but provided no numbers. Cubans aboard seaworthy ships are allowed to continue, but others are forced ashore and usually returned to Cuba.
Most of the Cuban boats leave from the southeastern end of the communist-ruled island and try to ride the prevailing currents and winds to Central America. From there, the migrants can head by land to the Mexican border with the United States.
Continue reading HERE.
By Angel Santiesteban in Translating Cuba:
Open Letter to the European Community
I am addressing each one of the twenty-eight nations which make up the European Community, to demand more depth, through an exhaustive investigation with free people, unencumbered and unafraid, to find a just consensus to the national issues of the Island, more so when we know that the historic practice, in more than a half century of socialism, has not been the welfare of the people, but the maintenance of the cruel machinery for the sake of their “Iron Totalitarian Power,” the imprisonment and daily repression of dissenters, and the mysterious deaths of opposition leaders.
I appeal to you, in the light of the recent decision of your Foreign Ministers, to open up a bargaining agreement with Havana, which we consider to be a grave mistake, in view of the fact that while the European Union was arriving at this agreement, the regime was imprisoning its opponents.
We hope that you do not see Cuba as a palliative to help you solve the crisis you are dealing with, at the cost of permitting the violation of our rights.
Exposing ourselves to risk, we have learned that the Castro brothers will never permit any imposition which gives any space for opposition, so that they have not even signed the United Nations Covenants, which in this 21st century should be the minimum indispensable requirement for the self-respect of any state, in the face of the international community; achieving this, and thus liberty and respect for the opposition, would be the contribution that the European Community could present to the Cuban people, and in turn this would be a credible step forward on the part of the Raúl Castro government, showing that it really is its intention to provide openings and improvements in terms of the Human Rights of the Cuban people.
In actual fact, they have filled up the jails with young people who, without any other option, have preferred to be criminals rather than submit to hunger and the absence of basic necessities. In those prisons, you will find many professionals, “embezzlers”, who have had the same misfortune as those who haven’t studied, since they haven’t had the opportunity to emigrate, as is the case with the overwhelming majority.
With respect, we urgently request that the European Community does not change its Common Position, without previously assuring itself in respect of the necessary change for the political democratisation of the Cuban archipelago.
Lawton prison settlement. February 2014.
Please sign the petition for Amnesty International declare the dissident Cuban Angel Santiesteban to be a prisoner of conscience
Translated by GH
26 February 2014
Ambassador Roger Noriega in AEI's The American:
The OAS is AWOL on Venezuela
The Organization of American States is betraying its essential mission to defend representative democracy.
The Organization of American States (OAS) sits silent on Venezuela, even as political unrest, government violence against student demonstrators, and economic catastrophe threaten to tear that country apart. At long last, the regional body that years ago was sequestered by Venezuela’s petro-diplomacy has been bound and gagged.The “permanent council,” comprised of the region’s ambassadors, was set to meet last week to review events in Venezuela, at the request of Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli. The meeting was abruptly “postponed” after Dominican president Danilo Medina, whose ambassador is the council's chairman, followed Venezuela’s instructions to delay his envoy’s return to OAS headquarters in Washington. The Dominican chairman arrived only yesterday and will convene the council at the convenience of the Venezuelan government.
The OAS’s member states made history on the fateful day of September 11, 2001, by adopting the Inter-American Democratic Charter and making the promotion and defense of democracy one of the organization’s essential missions. It remains to be seen if it has any relief to offer the people of Venezuela at this perilous hour.
The OAS is where governments — not people — have their say. And, it operates by consensus, rarely putting matters to a majority vote. Even if a significant group of countries were determined to adopt a simple resolution of concern, such an action would be unthinkable over the objections of the Venezuelan representative. However, a meeting of the council would require the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to explain its use of excessive force against peaceful protesters, and, more important, it would give other countries an opportunity to weigh in on worrisome events in a sister republic.
Ideally, the OAS would afford governments the opportunity to actually do something about willful violations of the Democratic Charter or human rights conventions. But, today, the OAS is less than the sum of its parts. Since the late Venezuelan caudillo Hugo Chávez and his acolytes began to work as a unit in regional fora a decade ago, they have succeeded in undermining a powerful inter-American consensus for promoting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Their goal was to dismantle regional organizations that have been built by decades of diplomacy.
Does the former coca grower who is Bolivia’s president have any use for a commission that fights drug trafficking? Does a caudillo waging a campaign against the independent media in Ecuador have any use for a special rapporteur on freedom of expression? Does a man who is rigging the rules in Nicaragua to hold on to power indefinitely have any use for the separation of powers? Does the regime whose thugs are beating protesters in Venezuela have any use for the American Declaration of Human Rights or the Inter-American Democratic Charter? Of course not. However, these are the men who have hijacked the OAS.
Continue reading HERE.