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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.
https://orlandolunes.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/89305-unnamed.jpg?w=640&h=400
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 Cubans "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.”

ted_cruz2

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."

2_coyotes_attaching

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.

Ignoring human rights in Cuba

Elliott Abrams at The Council on Foreign Relations:

Ignoring Human Rights in Cuba

http://www.cfr.org/content/bios/Abrams_l.jpgPresident Obama proudly announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba today–after a week of additional arrests on that island.

Here’s the most recent story: “Police arrested Emilio García Moreira and Alexander Veliz García, along with 10 members of the Ladies in White and 12 other activists on the their way to speak with Cienfuegos bishop Domingo Oropesa Lorente.”

Since the announcement of a new Cuba policy last Fall, administration spokesmen and the president himself have defended it as a means of producing more democracy and respect for human rights in Cuba. But in the ensuing months, hundreds of peaceful protesters have been made political prisoners. There is zero improvement in the human rights situation in Cuba–zero.

That Castro felt free to jail still more people this week shows his understanding–sadly, a correct one–that Mr. Obama is not interested in human rights in Cuba and will move forward no matter what happens there. This new policy is a legacy item and nothing, it seems, will stop it.

And what of these new relations and the establishment of an embassy in Cuba? That raises some interesting issues. Will Cubans have access to our embassy, or will they be arrested for trying to reach it? Will our diplomats be able to travel on the island, and have access to the Cuban people? Today The New York Times carried this gem regarding a question posed to Secretary of State Kerry:

Asked if the American diplomats in Cuba would have free access to talk to Cuban citizens, he said, “We’ll talk about all those details later.”

Details. What better revelation could there be that the Cuban people are details in this move, which is not about them–and which will help not them but their oppressors.

Ay! Top Republican senator throws cold water on “normalization” circus fever

Sen. Mitch McConnell

News media people around the world have caught "normalizaton" fever, and the only prescription seemingly available is upbeat articles about relations between the White House and the Castro dictatorship.

Aww. Along comes a colossal party pooper: the Republican majority leader in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell, who predicts that  U.S. legislators will reject anyone nominated by the White House as ambassador to the Castro Kingdom.

Damn those awful right-wing Republicans, still mired in the Cold War, and still deluded about useless abstractions such as the difference between right and wrong, the existence of human rights, and the necessity of having a foreign policy that is ethical, pragmatic, and favorable to the progress of humankind.

Let's see how this contest of wills between the White House and the Senate plays out.  The steamroller set in motion by the current White House Occupant is on a roll, and  legislators in Washington D.C. are not known for commitment to abstract principles, especially when those principles stand in the way of steamrollers, or feverish epidemics, or potential contributors to election campaigns.

Walken-Cowbell

From Granma Lite (Associated Press)

Senate unlikely to OK envoy for Cuba
McConnell says GOP opposes re-establishing ties

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Republican majority is unlikely to confirm an ambassador to Cuba as the United States prepares to re-open its embassy in the communist country after more than 50 years of hostile relations.

In a speech to a local chamber of commerce in Kentucky, McConnell called Cuba "a thuggish regime" that is "a haven for criminals" fleeing prosecution in the United States.

"I'm having a hard time figuring out what we got out of this, you know? You would think that the normalization of relations with Cuba would be accompanied by some modification of their behavior," McConnell said. "I don't see any evidence at all that they are going to change their behavior. So I doubt if we'll confirm an ambassador, they probably don't need one."

Democratic President Barack Obama has urged Congress to lift the country's trade embargo with Cuba as part of his effort to re-establish ties with the island nation. But McConnell noted Thursday that many of the restrictions placed on Cuba would require legislation, "and we're going to resist that."

"It is a police state that is mired in the '50s and '60s," he said. "You've seen any film down there, they are still driving cars that are in a museum here. Cars from the '50s and '60s in use. They must be pretty good mechanics. So I don't know how it ends, but I do think there is going to be resistance."

McConnell's comments were part of a larger criticism of Obama's foreign policy initiatives.

Lord High Executioner I and Lord High Executioner II

Ojo!!!! We're keeping an eye on you, Obamita.... and you'd better hurry up that "normalization" without delay or any obstructions from your stinkin' right-wing legislators!!!!  ... Your legacy is at stake!

Will Joanne greet President Obama in Havana?

chesimard

 

(My new American Thinker post)

According to news reports, the U.S. and Cuba will be opening embassies later this month.  We even heard a rumor that President Obama may travel to Havana to cut the ribbon.

Will Joanne attend the ribbon cutting ceremony?

We are talking about Joanne Chesimard, a fugitive from U.S. law enjoying life in the tropics as a special guest of the Castros:

It was a murder on the New Jersey Turnpike - stunning violence near the New Brunswick exit.
Now, decades after Black Liberation Army leader Joanne Chesimard was sentenced for the 1973 killing of a state trooper, escaped prison, and surfaced in Cuba in 1984, she is first and foremost among the estimated 70 American fugitives harbored there whose apparent flouting of U.S. law is fuel for critics of recent efforts to restore U.S.-Cuba relations.
In December, 54 years after America severed diplomatic relations with Cuba, Presidents Obama and Raul Castro proposed a renewal of ties.
"We view any changes in relations with Cuba as an opportunity to bring [Chesimard] back," said New Jersey State Police Col. Rick Fuentes, "and stand by the reward" for her capture.

Let's hope that Col. Fuentes is right.

However, the Cuban government has not been making any concessions, from repression of dissidents to opening up Cuba's economy.

In fact, The Washington Post points out that repression is getting worse in Cuba:

Since December, there have been more than 3,000 political detentions in Cuba, including 641 in May and 220 on Sunday alone, according to dissident sources. Most were accompanied by beatings; at least 20 detainees required medical treatment in May. After Cuba was invited for the first time to the Summit of the Americas in Panama, regime thugs attacked the civil society activists who also showed up.

I guess that the "hope and change" memo did not get to Raúl Castro.  Or maybe Raúl understood that "yes we can" meant that he could go on like before.

The Chesimard issue is a disgrace.

President Obama should tell Raúl Castro that talks will be put on hold until Chesimard is on a plane to New Jersey.

He should also say that the U.S. is not paying reparations or giving up Guantánamo, as the Castro thugs are demanding publicly.

Am I the only one who would love to see a little spine from the U.S. delegation?  It's a joke to watch the U.S. get pushed around by a dictator on his knees now that Venezuela can't subsidize him anymore.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Reports from Cuba: I plead to Human Rights organizations on behalf of the slave labor in Cuban prisons

By Angel Santiesteban in Translating Cuba:

I Plead to Human Rights Organizations on Behalf of the Slave Labor in Cuban Prisons

The exploitation of man by the State

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 17 May 2015 — If there were an indictment against Cuban government and its socialist process,among many other things, most of which are coincidentally human rights violations, would be charges of slavery in which they keep their nationals.

Slave labor in the Castro regime’s prisons

It is known that although the dictatorship signs lucrative contracts (in the millions) with various countries, for sending them Cuban professionals — including doctors, medical technicians and university professors — it pays these professionals a tiny percentage of what the State charges for their services.

Besides that, for the most part, these professionals join these adventures not from altruism, “internationalism” or any convenient adjective by which they are labeled by the totalitarian regime, but out of mere survival instincts; to help their families and get them out of the totally precarious conditions in which they live.

It is not misleading to point out that those two years of family separation have a crisis impact that results in a higher rate of divorces, in some cases in families with children; another common consequence is that many infidelities are forgiven by one or both spouses.

As far as I am concerned, I have witnessed, besides physical and psychological abuses committed against the inmates, who have all of their rights violated, including their schedules. Prisoners are sent to work in the hardest trades, from dawn and with a lousy breakfast, and are returned to their facilities after twelve hours or more.

Even I have sometimes seen that on their arrival, they have been forced to unload a few tons of cement bags — on their shoulders — or unload trucks of rebar and then receive a miserable salary that does not even guarantee them a minimum support for their minor children.

https://blogloshijosquenadiequiso.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/combinado-del-este-cuba.jpg

Report from within “Combinado del Este” prison.

That slave work is done in the worst abusive conditions, with torn boots, tattered clothes, starvation, humiliation from correctional officers who guard them. This is a real slavery that has nothing to envy to the one practiced by the first settlers on their arrival on the island of Cuba.

The prisoners work seven days a week

This past May 1st, some prisoners decided to take the day off to wash their clothes, a task they usually do on their return from the daily work. And that attitude was taken by Major Aliet as an act of rebellion, and as punishment he kept them out of work for several days, which prevents them from receiving that puny wage, and, above all, prevents them from leaving the severity of the prison that drives them mad after several days cloistered. Any reaction to the abuse is sanctioned or they get additional charges to add more time to their sentences.

https://i2.wp.com/www.TranslatingCuba.com/images/angel/1433789102_angel-santiesteban-prision-militar-de-jaimanitas.jpg

Angel Santiesteban-Prats, Military Prison, Jaimanitas, Havana Cuba.

In the Border Patrol military facility of where I am — besides taking them out to work today, Sunday May 17th — they were denied the corresponding break time by the order of officer Parra, head of the prison logistics.

Then you have to listen to the Castro family trying to defend its dictatorship, its iron-dictatorship, its humiliating-dictatorship, its unbearable-dictatorship that rules us for over half a century, about which one can only feel ashamed for them.

We plead that international bodies accept this letter about these violations letter that lacerate Human Rights.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

May 17, 2015.

Border Patrol Prison, Havana, Cuba

Translated by: Rafael

“Normalization” will destroy paradise! Condescending bias and bigotry of New York Times on display again

Open sewer in Batabano, Cuba

Open sewer in Batabano, Cuba

Ouch....

Here we go again.  The New York Times seems to have an inexhaustible reserve of love for the Castro regime and its many accomplishments.

In fact, that reserve is so vast, and the love so deep, that the Times can turn dross into gold, as in the article published today, which praises Castrogonia's extreme poverty and repression as a great environmental triumph.

Not only that, the Times article voices concern over the impending ruin of Cuba's "pristine" environment by American businesses and tourists (without a word about the European and Canadian businesses and tourists who've been raiding the island's resources for decades).

Yes, we've seen this before.  The utter degradation of millions of human beings is inconsequential.  What matters most is the preservation of the environment, and that can only be achieved through the preservation of totalitarian communism.

People be damned, the earth is better off without human beings.  Human rights be damned, noble savages are better off in repressive, economically regressive states.

Environmentally "pure" Havana

Environmentally "pure" Havana

Never mind the fact that communist states and the Castro regime in particular have in fact caused plenty of environmental damage.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau would be so proud of today's NYT article.  It confirms everything he had to say about noble savages.

If the article itself is not enough to convince you, take a look at the Twitter chatter on this impending natural disaster caused by "normalization."

Or, simply consider the sexually charged words spoken by a U.S. senator, quoted in the NYT article as definitive proof of the savage nobility of the Cuban people :

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, who has worked to promote collaboration between American and Cuban scientists, said the amount of money that may be available close by “does put them at a choice point, in terms of whether they’re willing to sacrifice what they’ve got environmentally in order to develop and look more like Miami Beach or Montego Bay.”

Mr. Whitehouse said he suspects, however, that Cuba will wade into American economic waters with caution.

“I don’t think they’re so lustful of development that they will just roll over and completely prostitute themselves to whomever comes by with a checkbook,” he said.

Our friend Fausta Wertz has posted a very perceptive and informative analysis of this latest exemplar of NYT buffoonery.

Polluted river in central Cuba

Polluted river in central Cuba

So has Michael Bastasch in The Daily Caller, in a piece filled with very useful links:

NY Times: Cuba’s Communism Was Good For The Environment

The New York Times has published a story bemoaning how American companies looking to do business in Cuba could threaten the country’s “pristine” environment that’s the product of decades of communist dictatorship.
“The country is in desperate need of the economic benefits that a lifting of the embargo would almost certainly bring,” the Times article reads. “But the [embargo], combined with Cuba’s brand of controlled socialism, has also been protective, limiting development and tourism that in other countries … have eroded beaches, destroyed forests, polluted rivers, damaged coral reefs and wreaked other forms of environmental havoc.”

Cuba came under communist rule in 1959 after Fidel Castro successfully overthrew the Batista government. For decades, Castro ruled as a dictator and ally of the Soviet Union, imposing a harsh communist regime on the Cuban people that stymied economic growth and people’s standards of living, leaving much of Cuba’s environment untouched.

Environmentally sound, sustainable trash recycling in Havana

Environmentally sound, sustainable trash recycling in Havana

 For whatever reason, The Times is worried that Cuba’s pristine “coral reefs, mangrove forests, national parks and organic farms” will be affected if President Barack Obama is successful in his political push to normalize relations with the island nation and lift the U.S. embargo.“Already, American corporations are poised to rush into a country only 90 miles from Florida’s shores,” the Times article warned....

...While Cuba’s environment may still be “pristine” as The Times describes it (ignoring the deplorable environmental record of Cuba’s chief subsidizer, the Soviet Union), Cubans still frequently experience food shortages, lack of access to electricity and poor health care.

Cuba’s centralized economic system means frequent shortages of food and other basic products. The Economist noted in 2010 that Cuba’s farms barely produced 20 percent of the country’s food needs, and even with recent agricultural reforms under Raul Castro there are still shortages....

...While bad for Cubans, the country’s laggard economy was great for environmental conservation, according to residents worried about American access to Cuba’s coastlines.

“This tsunami is coming,” Liliana Núñez Velis, president of the the semi-independent think tank Antonio Nuñez Jiménez Foundation for Man and Nature, told The New York Times. “[A]n internal tsunami is asking for consumption, consumption, consumption and profit, benefit and profit.”

Read Bastasch's entire article HERE.

"Pristine" Cuban beach, about to be ruined by Americans

"Pristine" Cuban beach, about to be ruined by Americans

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

 

Cuba’s Castros to Obama: Come on in, the blood is warm…

Pong:

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"Leave some room for the Pope."

Today’s Must-Read: 5 questions Obama must answer about the potential U.S. embassy in Cuba

Ana Quintana in The Daily Signal:

5 Questions Obama Must Answer About the Potential US Embassy in Cuba

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On Wednesday, President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuba have reached an agreement on reestablishing diplomatic relations.

As part of his normalization bid with the Castro regime, the president has granted the dictatorship another in a series of dangerous concessions. But after Obama’s statement today, there are many questions that have yet to be answered.

Throughout the past 18 months of clandestine negotiations and 6 months of semi-public talks, the Cuban negotiators have consistently raised many obstacles to the president’s much wanted embassy.

Cuban officials made it clear that the regime will not change its political or economic system, despite the Obama administration’s many overtures. The regime also demanded an end to the embargo and removal of Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism before restoration of diplomatic relations.

Later in January at a summit of Latin American countries, Cuban leader Raul Castro reiterated these points, conditioning further openings with the U.S. on the lifting of the U.S. embargo, the return of Guantánamo Bay naval base, and compensation for “human and economic damage” incurred as a result of the U.S. embargo.

So far, Obama has given Havana three convicted spies accused of killing Americans, drastically eased sanctions, lobbied Congress to lift the embargo and removed Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list.

In light of that, the Obama administration must answer these questions:

1. Did the U.S. receive compensation for the $8 billion in U.S. assets unlawfully seized by the Cuban government?

According to the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (LIBERTAD), which was passed in 1996, reestablishing diplomatic relations cannot happen until: first, the Cuban government compensates American citizens for illegally confiscating their property  valued at $8 billion, the largest seizure of U.S. assets in history, and second, “when the president determines that there exists a democratically elected government in Cuba.”

It is safe to assume that Havana has not met either requirement. Cuban leader Raul Castro has gone so far as saying that before an embassy can be opened, the U.S. must provide reparations for the damages of the embargo.

2. Has the U.S. agreed to the Cuban government’s demands of restricted diplomatic travel?

It is no secret that Cuba is a police state and that extends to Americans as well. U.S. diplomats in the Interest Section are kept from privately meeting with human rights activists and even persecuted members of the religious community.

If so, this defeats the purpose of an embassy,  as routine diplomatic activities are impossible.

3. Will the Cuban government continue to search diplomatic pouches?

Cuban officials have consistently demanded that they be able to inspect diplomatic pouches. Like the Cuba policy website Capitol Hill Cubans has stated, this is a clear violation of diplomatic protocol, against the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and completely unprecedented in the Western Hemisphere.

4. Did the U.S. make any concessions on Guantanamo Bay?

Both Fidel and Raul Castro have long rallied to shut down the U.S.’s naval base presence in Guantanamo Bay. It is another area where the regime and Obama see eye to eye: The president too has long supported closing it down. Were any backroom deals made?

5. Will the U.S. continue its support for Cuba’s democratic opposition and human rights activists?

The Cuban government strongly opposes Washington’s support for dissidents and has raised it as an obstacle to the president’s much-wanted embassy in Havana. Cuban officials urged the U.S. not only to stop funding of independent groups, but also to mandate the Cuban government’s role in selecting Communist Party approved organizations to receive U.S. funding.

It has always been the U.S.’s position to support a democratic transition on the island. It seems to no longer be the case.

Obama has made a complete reversal: We are now engaging and financing the Cuban regime and isolating the Cuban people. The president cannot allow his self-serving legacy policy to be at the cost of democracy in Cuba.

Another surprise! Obama administration totally uninterested in quizzing Alan Gross

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Whoa!

It doesn't take a Hamlet to figure out that something is rotten in the kingdom of Obama.

U.S. government officials have yet to ask Alan Gross any probing questions about his five years of imprisonment in the Castro dynasty's prisons.

This makes no sense.  Could it be that the entire  Gross incident was part of a larger plan, now unfolding?

And, was that photo of Che in Gross's lawyer's office as huge a hint as we here at Babalu have been suggesting for months?

James Kirchick raises many pertinent questions  in The Daily Beast.

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Below is an excerpt.  Read the whole article HERE.

U.S. Never Asked Alan Gross About His Imprisonment in Cuba
by James Kirchick

Alan Gross was locked up by the Castro regime for half a decade. When he got out, no one in the U.S. government bothered to debrief him about his time in captivity.
After spending more than five years in a Cuban jail, former USAID contractor Alan Gross is probably in possession of a lot of information that the United States government would like to know. How did Cuban officials become aware of his work bringing internet access to the island’s tiny Jewish community? What were the conditions like inside the Valla Marista prison, where he was held? What were the mannerisms and interests of his interrogators? What was the content of the conversations he had with his fellow prisoners?

Yet according to an authoritative source, no U.S. government official has debriefed Gross since he was released from a Cuban jail last December as part of a broader deal normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba. That political thaw reached a symbolic milestone Wednesday when both governments announced they would open embassies in each others’ capitals, 54 years after the severing of diplomatic relations.

Asked whether Gross had been debriefed by the United States government, both Jill Zuckman, Gross’s spokesman, and Noel Clay, a State Department spokesman, declined to comment.

After a citizen has been held against their will by an adversarial government, terrorist organization, or rogue group, it is standard procedure for their own country’s government to sit them down and try to extract as much useful information as possible. This process is known as a “debrief” in intelligence and diplomatic parlance. An American aid worker rescued from Somali pirates by Navy Seals in 2012, the former Army sergeant held by the Taliban for five years, even non-American hostages released by ISIS—all have been debriefed by U.S. government officials following their periods in captivity....

....Incompetence can never be ruled out as an explanation for U.S. government actions, of course. But an equally likely rationale for Washington’s decision not to debrief Gross—to glean whatever information it can about the Castro regime, its intelligence apparatus, and its penal system— is that the Obama administration isn’t at all eager to do so.

After all, the failure to debrief Gross fits into a pattern. So determined is the Obama administration to normalize relations with the Castro regime that it resists treating Havana as an adversary....

....This insatiable desire to normalize relations with Havana—regardless of whether or not the regime changes its behavior—is a major reason why dissidents in Cubaare complaining that the administration has caved to Castro’s demands without extracting anything in return. It is why Obama removed Cuba from the State Department’s list of terrorism sponsors despite the fact that the island is, as Iwrote in this space not long ago, “a Star Wars cantina of violent Cold War-era radicals” and a collaborator with the Columbian FARC. And it’s why Obama celebrated the official opening of the American embassy in Havana Wednesday morning—lauding a “new chapter” in relations—while the Cuban regime continues to harass and arrest dissidents by the hundreds and shows no signs of loosening its monopoly on power.

Gross, perhaps ironically, has emerged as a vocal supporter of the administration’s opening to Cuba. Why doesn’t anyone in the administration bother to find out what else he has to say?

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