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  • Rayarena: Yes, the Dutch cover is particularly egregious, not only because it doesn’t represent the Peter Pan children, but because...

  • asombra: And Honey, the “frozen in time” angle IS a selling point–that’s why it’s used.

  • asombra: Carlos, I assume you meant that these publishers rejected putting pictures of you as a boy on the cover, obviously because you...

  • asombra: Ray is essentially correct. Since we reject the false narrative perversely constructed around us, insist on being what we are,...

  • asombra: Honey, Tauck sees Cuba as a marketable commodity, period, and they have tons of company. They’d only pass on it if it were...

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realclearworld

In a show of gratitude to Obama for his complete surrender, Cuba’s Castro has communist party newspaper Granma renamed

Lauzán:

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Coziness with Cuba places the United States at risk

John Suarez in the PanAm Post:

Coziness with Cuba Places the United States at Risk

Terror Activity There for All with Eyes to See

http://blog.panampost.com/wp-content/uploads/John-Suarez_avatar_1375322820-115x115.jpgToday, the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it with North Korea, removed Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terror, and ignored the ongoing terrorist nature of the Castro dictatorship. The regime in Cuba has a long history of sponsoring and training terrorism that the Obama administration has sought to minimize and ignore, in its drive to normalize relations with the regime.

There is clear evidence that the Castro regime is linked to drug trafficking and engaged in the smuggling of weapons to an outlaw regime (North Korea in July 15, 2013) and to terrorist guerrilla (Colombia February 28, 2015). In a previous post, I provided my top-10 reasons why Cuba should have remained on the list.

This is the latest example of the White House failing to communicate accurately the threats and dangers that exist in the world to US Americans, and it has been a profound disservice to the republic. Unfortunately, this pattern has been an ongoing one since the Clinton presidency.

A recent public discussion on US-Cuba policy at Florida International University revealed one reason why.  On February 5, 2015Frank Mora was confronted by the criticism that the Obama administration had only met with those who agreed with the president, and he responded that the White House wasn’t going to meet with critics to formulate policy.

This approach of only meeting with those who agree with you sounded familiar, and it was. Jim Wallis of Sojourners described President George W. Bush in a similar manner: “He doesn’t want to hear from anyone who doubts him.”

However, the similarity did not end there. In a October 17, 2004 article in the New York Times Magazine, Ron Suskind quoted a Bush administration official:

That’s not the way the world really works anymore … We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

The disaster in Iraq was predictable and indeed voices on the right outlined what was going to happen and were declared “unpatriotic” for their troubles.

The above statement, sadly not limited to the Bush administration, is a mark of hubris. Ignoring realities on the ground — in the belief that a new policy can change existing realities, and without taking into account the facts — is a recipe for failure.

When critics of Barack Obama’s policy pointed out that the swapping of Alan Gross for Cuban spies, who have taken part in state terrorism, would encourage other countries to repeat the practice of holding US hostages, the response was predictable.

The plight of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, being held hostage by the Iranian regime and placed on a show trial, is following the pattern laid out in Cuba by the Castro regime’s handling of Alan Gross. Read “Jason Rezaian Trial in Iran May Be More About Leverage Than Justice.”

Taking Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terrorism will provide the dictatorship with more resources and greater international legitimacy to advance its agenda. That includes undermining democracies, as has been the case in Venezuela, and engaging with all sorts of nefarious regimes and transnational actors. As was seen in the case of North Korea, this did not improve relations but made the regime more aggressive.

Ignoring or pretending a threat does not exist, because it is perceived as unimportant, is a mistake.

Continue reading HERE.

Obama’s acceptance of a lie in order to further another lie behind Cuba’s removal from terror list

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

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On Cuba's Removal From the State-Sponsors of Terrorism List

During a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Roberta Jacobson, acknowledged that Cuba's claim it has "never" supported terrorism was untrue.

Yet, in its "Rescission Memo to Congress" on Cuba's removal from the state-sponsors of terrorism list, the Obama Administration accepted the Castro regime's "assurances" that it will not support terrorism in the future -- a legal requirement for de-listing -- in the same breath as it's claim that it has "never" supported terrorism.

As such, the Obama Administration has accepted a lie, in order to further another lie.

The Obama Administration also certified that Cuba has not supported terrorism "in the last six months" -- the other legal requirement for de-listing.  Meanwhile, a scandal is brewing in Colombia over a ship that was intercepted on February 28, 2015 -- just three months ago -- with over 100 tons of heavy weapons being smuggled by a shadow company of the Cuban military ("Tecnoimport"), seemingly for FARC terrorists.

Cuba's removal from the terrorism list, while questions linger about this illegal weapons shipment is highly irresponsible.

It is evidently clear that the Obama Administration's removal from the terrorism list has little do with the facts, but was instead compelled to meet a key demand of the Castro regime for the establishment of diplomatic relations.

The hasty removal of Libya (2006) and North Korea (2008) from the terrorism list has proven -- time and again -- that such concessions do not dissuade rogue regimes to change their behavior. To the contrary.

Thus, Congress must keep the important U.S. leverage the Obama Administration seeks to give-away without merit. It must maintain -- and strengthen -- the underlying sanctions associated with the terrorism legislation, which remain codified in law.

Capitol Hill reacts to Obama’s scandalous removal of Cuba’s terrorist regime from State Sponsors of Terror list

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH):

Speaker Boehner: The White House Has Handed the Castro Regime a Significant Political Win in Return for Nothing

Washington, D.C. – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement in response to the Obama administration’s decision to remove Cuba from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror:

The Obama administration has handed the Castro regime a significant political win in return for nothing. The communist dictatorship has offered no assurances it will address its long record of repression and human rights abuses at home. Nor has it offered any indication it will cease its support for violence throughout the region, including the brutal attacks on Cuban democracy protestors in Panama City during the Summit for the Americas earlier this year.  

As I’ve said before, relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom – and not one second sooner. Removing the regime from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror is just the latest example of this administration focusing more on befriending our enemies than helping our allies, but fortunately it will have little practical effect. Most U.S. sanctions on the Cuban regime are contained in other laws – laws the U.S. House will ensure remain in place as we work to protect those fighting for freedom, and in many cases, simply their own survival.

U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL):

Obama’s Decision To Remove Cuba From State Sponsor of Terrorism List Demonstrates Administration Put Politics Before Policy, Says Ros-Lehtinen

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement regarding the Obama administration’s removal of Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terror (SSOT) list. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“President Obama’s decision to remove Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list demonstrates that this Administration has once again put politics over policy. Cuba should not have been removed from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list since one of the many reasons for its inclusion are its links to repressive regimes around the world such as Iran, Syria, and Russia. Additionally, Castro continues to provide a safe haven to terror groups like the Colombian FARC and Spanish ETA and harbors fugitives from American justice. The Castro regime’s responsibility in the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down, the unresolved claims stemming from its illegal confiscation of property from American citizens and businesses, and its continual use of repressive tactics to silence any opposition to the tyrannical regime are further evidence that Cuba should not have been removed from the SSOT. However, it is clear that this review from the Obama Administration was not based on facts, but rather based on a desperate attempt to offer more concessions to the Castro brothers in exchange for opening an embassy in Havana.”

U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL):

Just Two Days Before Anniversary of Taliban Five Swap, President Obama Is At It Again

WASHINGTON, DC— Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) released the following statement after President Obama’s decision to remove Cuba from the State Department’s state sponsors of terror list.

“Regrettably, President Obama chose to remove Cuba from the U.S.-designated state sponsors of terror list.  He made this ill-advised decision despite the Castro regime's continuation of its terrorist activities, including illegal weapons smuggling, extensive espionage activities, assistance to terrorist organizations and rogue regimes, harboring fugitives from U.S. justice, including terrorists Joanne Chesimard and William Morales, and even protecting three high-ranking members of its military who have outstanding federal indictments for murdering Americans. The President's decision was wrong on the facts and wrong on policy. Just two days before the anniversary of the Taliban Five swap, President Obama is at it again. This does not come as a surprise, as President Obama has an unfortunate history of appeasing those who are a threat to our country's national security interests. Instead of supporting the pro-democracy movement and its leaders on the island, President Obama continues to earn his Appeaser-in-Chief title by continuing his endless concessions to the Castro regime.  Congress will continue its efforts to counter his destructive policies.”

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL):

Rubio Comments On Obama Administration’s Latest Concession To Castro Regime

Washington, D.C.– U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues, issued the following video statement regarding the Obama Administration’s latest concession to the Castro regime by de-listing Cuba from the United States’ State Sponsors of Terrorism List:

View Rubio’s remarks here in English and here in Spanish.

“President Obama and his administration continue to give the Cuban regime concession after concession, in exchange for nothing that even remotely resembles progress towards freedom and democracy for the Cuban people, or assurances that the regime will discontinue working against America’s national security interests. I simply don’t understand how the President can, in good conscience, continue these giveaways to the Castro regime and how he can be thinking of sending an ambassador to Cuba when there are still many unanswered questions and security gaps that will affect their safety and their ability to do the job that our ambassadors all over the world are being asked to do.”

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ):

Menendez on the Removal of Cuba from Terrorism List

Newark, NJ – U. S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) issued the following statement in reaction to the Obama Administration’s removal of Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

“This dangerous and misguided policy is resulting in the U.S. conceding on bedrock values, while Cuba is only more intransigent and uncompromising in its disrespect for universal values and freedoms. This approach of the U.S. giving and Cuba taking simply rewards the regime for decades of repression.  The Castro regime is feeling vindicated for fifty years of brutality, making this announcement a further misstep in a profoundly flawed policy.

“The fact is, the Castro regime has not shown one iota of change in its actions that earned it a spot on the State Sponsor of Terrorism list. Cuba still provides sanctuary to Joanne Chesimard who remains on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorism List for the murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster, it recently was caught sending arms to North Korea in the single largest violation of United Nations Security Council sanctions, and also received a shipment from a Chinese arms manufacturer that was seemingly headed for Colombia’s terrorist organization FARC. Yet today Cuba was somehow delisted from this dishonorable list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. To this day, we have not seen one substantial step toward transparent democratic elections, improved human rights, freedom of assembly, or the ability to form independent political parties and trade unions on the island.

“It is terribly disconcerting that the list of unilateral concessions by the Obama Administration continues to grow without any signs of reciprocity from a despotic and reinvigorated Castro regime. At the end of the day, decisions like this are doing nothing but depriving the Cuban people the liberties and freedoms they seek and deserve.” 

Surprise of the day: TV-Show Pawn Shop Owner Endorses Marco Rubio

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If you've watched the History Channel's "Pawn Stars" show, you will appreciate  this weird piece of news.

Rick Harrison is endorsing Marco Rubio.

Rick Harrison runs a pawn shop in Las Vegas and has shrewdly turned his business into a popular television program.

He's a capitalist success story.

For double-domed intellectuals and  self-anointed sophisticates, however, Rick might as well be Jethro Bodine from the Beverly Hillbillies,or Sarah Palin's fraternal twin.

His co-stars on this "reality" show are his surly Navy veteran father, "the Old Man," his wise-ass heavily-tattooed son,Corey "Big Hoss,"  and his son's incurably goofy friend Chumlee.

Somehow, the producers always manage to turn the often shady transactions of this pawn shop into history lessons, by focusing on the objects being pawned or sold.

Wait and see what the Rubio haters make of this endorsement.   Nothing good, for sure.  They'll probably suggest that Marco Rubio will appoint Chumlee as Secretary of State.

Naturally, they'll refuse to admit that  even hapless Chumlee would make a better Secretary of State than Hillary Clinton or John Kerry.

Pawn Stars-Lawsuit

From ---gasp!---Fox News:

'Pawn Stars' help Marco Rubio celebrate birthday

Las Vegas, Nev. – Presidential hopeful Senator Marco Rubio marked his 44th birthday in Las Vegas Thursday, spending the day with his friend Rick Harrison, the star of TV’s "Pawn Stars" and owner of the famous Gold and Silver Pawn Shop.

Harrison gave Rubio a private tour of the pawn shop located just off the Las Vegas strip. Rubio immediately went to the sports memorabilia section where he held and sized up a Super Bowl ring.

Harrison told the press why he endorses Rubio.

“I had lunch with him and the thing that impressed me the most was that this guy never say said 'for the party, the party, the party'. A lot of politicians do that,” Harrison said. “I’m good at reading people if you seen my show. This guy cares honestly about people.”

Rubio returned the compliment, saying he admires Harrison’s business success.

“He’s an example that in almost any other country in the world this story would be impossible, mine and his,” Rubio said.

Continue reading HERE

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Okay, that’s it. Se acabó la pachanga. The party’s over. Time to say “Hell is my homeland.”

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Sorry mom, sorry dad.  Lo siento mucho.  But I've got to stop being Cuban.  I'm burying that identity.

It's way too painful to be a Cuban.

Today's news drove that final nail halfway into the coffin lid, then the British tabloid Daily Mail pounded it all the way in.

That horrendous photo above was used by the Daily Mail as the lead  image for their article on the latest bad turn in the "normalization" dance between the U.S. and the Castro Kingdom.

Yeah. That hideous caricature of a Cuban is what Cuba has become.  And that is the Cuba of the future too, the Cuba that European and American tourists are going to keep alive.

From now on, if anyone asks where I'm from, I'll say  "22nd street."  That's the street I lived on in Miramar, a suburb of Havana.

And if I'm pressed to be more specific I'll say I'm from 22nd street in the eighth circle of Hell.

In the eighth circle, according to Dante, one finds all frauds, seducers, flatterers, those who exchange money for spiritual goods, sorcerers, false prophets, corrupt politicians, hypocrites, thieves, and sowers of discord.

Yeah.  I escaped from the eighth circle.  Thanks dad, thanks mom, for tossing me out when you did. Thank you, God, for giving them the courage to let me fly off by myself.

Here's the news story that the Daily Mail links with the gorgon pictured above:

Obama administration drops Cuba from 'State Sponsors of Terrorism' list as U.S. moves closer to full diplomatic ties with communist island nation

Secretary of State John Kerry made the final decision, effective Friday
Only Iran, Syria and Sudan remain on the list
Larger trade embargo remains in place for now
State Department could re-open Havana embassy with 15 days' notive to Congress
Cuba still wants the US to vacate Guantanamo, which it has leased since 1906

whole story HERE.

That photo above is no isolated incident.

Here's the cover that Scribner's UK chose for my first memoir, after I refused to follow their orders.  They had asked me to remove every single reference to religion and politics from the memoir.   And after I refused to cave in, they said: "we picked a very special cover for you and we hope you like it."  They also changed the subtitle without my permission: from "Confessions of a Cuban Boy" to "Confessions of a Cuban Boyhood."

Oh, they hate it so much when we refuse to be the caricatures they want us to be.

British

And here's the cover chosen by the Dutch publisher.  Just like the Germans and the Italians, and the Brits, they said they couldn't use my photo on the cover because I "don't look Cuban enough."

Dutch

Reports from Cuba: ‘El Sexto’ dedicates his award to his jailers to show them that he is not alone

14yMedio in Translating Cuba:

‘El Sexto’ dedicates his award to his jailers to show them that he is not alone
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Lia Villares collects the award for Danilo Maldonado, “El Sexto” Wednesday in Oslo. (MileydiMC)

The Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto, could not collect the 2015 International Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissidence, in the ceremony organized by the Oslo Freedom Forum. The prize, awarded by the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) of New York, was received by the activist Lia Villares, since the graffiti artist has been in prison since last December, charged with contempt, for trying to stage a performance with two pigs decorated with the names “Fidel” and “Raul.”

After presenting a brief music video, with the refrain repeating “Three years [in prison] for two pigs, no,” and closing with the images of a rally to demand freedom for the artist and the phrase, “Contempt should never be avoided,” Villares read a letter written by El Sexto from Villa Marista penitentiary.

“I want to dedicate this prize also to those who have me in prison, to remind them that I am not alone,” the artist said. The graffiti artist also thanked the Ladies in White, his daughter, the writer Angel Santiesteban (who is also in prison) and the artist Tania Bruguera (arrested this Sunday in front of her house and released shortly afterward).

The other award winners, members of the Sudanese non-violent resistance movement and the Indonesian comic Girifna Sakdiyah Ma’ruf, personally received a representation of the Goddess of Democracy, the iconic statue erected by Chinese students during protests in Tiananmen Square in June 1989.

The Oslo Freedom Forum, which opened Monday in the Norwegian capital and will close on Wednesday, gathers the proponents of freedom and human rights from several countries. This year’s gathering is the Freedom Forum’s seventh, and focuses “on those places where it is impossible to stage protests, which are silenced or attacked, as in Cuba and Russia,” according to its founder, Thor Halvorssen.

Revolutionary art at the Havana Art Biennial

Garrincha in Martí Noticias:

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Yeee-haw! Now, this is one people-to-people Cuba school trip to remember!

amnistia-internacional-prostitucion-infantil

Party on!  Fiesta time for young Yanqui tourists and their chaperones.

Putas, puros, y mojitos para todos!  Hookers, see-gars, and mow-hee-toes for everyone!

No way any Hooters can beat this sort of competition.

Yes, sir-ee, those noble Cuban savages down there in their colossal whorehouse of an island sure know how to make their superior visitors happy!

Thanks, current occupant of the White House.  Mil gracias for making events such as this possible!  Moo-cho gra-see-ah.

We all hope you thanked Our Lady of Charity yesterday for making you so awesome!

Mow-hee-toe

Mow-hee-toe

From The New York Daily News:

Prep school official took students to Cuba for an alcohol-fueled trip complete with hookers, cigars

A top official at Brooklyn’s scandal-scarred Poly Prep Country Day School took students on a “rite of passage” trip to Cuba complete with hookers, cigars and plenty of drinking, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.

Employee Lisa Della Pietra, a former student who now raises money for the elite prep school, said development director Steven Andersen “put students in harm’s way” and then tried to “buy his way out of it” with Poly’s money.

In a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn state supreme court, Pietra claimed she reported Andersen’s shenanigans to the school’s headmaster, David Harman.

But nothing was done beyond a “sham” investigation, Pietra said, and Andersen, her boss, retaliated against her for making complaints.

puro_cubano

According to court papers, Andersen “manufactured” an educational trip to Cuba so he could check out a personal investment he told Pietra would be his “nest egg.”

Andersen allegedly paid a prostitute to entertain the students as a “rite of passage,” and drank and smoked Cuban cigars with the students, Pietra’s suit said.

When another alum of the school threatened to expose Andersen’s behavior upon return, the development director paid him a sum to buy his silence, Pietra claimed.

She also accused the school of colluding to cover up the accusations against Andersen, and said the development director threatened his staff to ensure their silence.

Pietra further alleges that when she reported Andersen’s bullying and inappropriateness to Poly Prep leaders, her boss got wind of it — and then began bullying her....

....Calls to Poly Prep’s headmaster’s office for comment were not immediately returned.

Continue reading HERE.

pinnochio

Encuentro pipol-tu-pipol (People to people encounter)

Encuentro pipol-tu-pipol
(People to people encounter)

Obama officially removes Cuba’s State Sponsor of Terror Castro regime from the State Sponsor of Terror List

With Obama's new Cuba policy of complete and total surrender to the apartheid Castro regime, we can't say we didn't see this coming. The Cuban dictatorship, which for decades has supported international terrorism and terrorist organizations and continues to do so to this day, has been removed from the U.S. State Sponsors of Terror list by Obama. The Castro regime has given nothing in return for this "gift": Cuba continues to harbor terrorist fugitives and its support of terrorist organizations such as the FARC and Hamas is alive and well.

Yet another freebie from our president to a vicious, corrupt, and criminal regime. A regime which will continue to terrorize the Cuban people and provide support to those who terrorize others throughout the world. ¡Gracias, Obama!

Via The Miami Herald:

U.S. removes Cuba from list of state sponsors of terrorism

US President Barack Obama, right, leans toward Cuban President Raul Castro during their meeting at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama, Saturday, April 11, 2015. The leaders of the United States and Cuba held their first formal meeting in more than half a century on Saturday, clearing the way for a normalization of relations that had seemed unthinkable to both Cubans and Americans for generations.

For 33 years, Cuba has occupied a spot on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism — a place reserved for nations that repeatedly provide support for international acts of premeditated, politically motivated violence against non-combatants.

It was placed on the list during the Cold War, an era when there was still a Soviet Union and Cuba was accused of supporting and arming leftist insurgencies in Latin America and Africa.

But 45 days ago Friday, as part of his opening toward Cuba, President Barack Obama informed Congress he intended to remove Cuba from the list that also includes Syria, Iran and Sudan. In his report, he said Cuba hadn’t provided any support for international terrorism in the previous six months and had provided assurances it wouldn’t support such acts in the future.

With no attempt by Congress to override his recommendation in the 45-day period, the president’s directive now takes effect as soon as it is published in the Federal Register.

“We are just two days away,” Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico, told reporters in Havana on Wednesday during a visit to the island. “There has not been a vote in the Congress so that’s going to stand. I think it will be a matter of weeks when we have restored diplomatic relations.”

At the conclusion of the fourth round of normalization talks in Washington last Friday, the two sides said they were very close to reaching agreement on renewing diplomatic ties and opening embassies. Cuba has long contended it should never have been on the list and getting off it has been a key element in the Cuban delegation’s negotiating stance since the talks began.

“There’s certainly a symbolic element to it — a return to reality. Cuba hasn’t been sponsoring left-wing guerrilla movements for a long time,” said Richard Feinberg, a professor of international political economy at the University of California, San Diego and a National Security Council director during the Clinton administration.

But members of the Cuban-American delegation in Congress still look suspiciously at Cuba’s activities, especially its decision to give safe haven to criminals wanted for serious crimes in the United States, and think Cuba should remain on the list.

“Unfortunately, it is unsurprising that the Obama administration has removed the Castro regime from the state sponsor of terror list. As his December announcement made clear his primary interest was in pushing a political narrative about the Castros’ actions, instead of one rooted in reality,” said South Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

“In his rush to cut a ribbon on a new embassy in name only, his administration has left unresolved many crucial issues such as U.S. citizens and businesses that have certified claims against the Cuban regime for illegally confiscated properties, fugitives from American justice who have been granted refuge by the Castro regime, and the regime’s abysmal human rights record,” said Ros-Lehtinen.

Continue reading HERE.

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo at the LASA 2015 Congress in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo in Post Revolution Mondays:

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1. THE CUBAN STRANGEVOLUTION
 

Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure. The telegram from the Home says: YOUR MOTHER PASSED AWAY. FUNERAL TOMORROW. DEEP SYMPATHY. Which leaves the matter doubtful.

As in the beginning of Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger, Mother Revolution may have died today. Or yesterday. The tweets from the Homeland —the last disconnected spot in the hemisphere— are misleading. No funerals for Fidel, despite the successive unsuccessful farewells on-line. Abroad, deep sympathy for socialism all over the US academy and surprisingly also from its supposed archenemy, the State Department. Within, reforms emerge as the new style of repression: the Realpolitik of Raúlpolitik. Soldiers turned into salesmen. Spies into diplomats. Which leaves doubtful the matter of Marxism after the handshake of markets, with the US Chamber of Commerce approaching our Central Committee, for the sake of avoiding chaos in Cuba and converting another Communism into Consumerism.

A hyper-nationalist environment is opening up 25 years too late to the global economy. This process implies an overdose of estrangement. Strangers are reaching out before Cuba changes to commonplace capitalism. Cubans themselves are learning fast profitable practices, copy-and-paste from abroad, driven by the numismatist osmosis from exile to insile. The figure of the foreigner is no longer —as in the 20th-century Cuba— a taboo imposed by the totalitarian State, much less the dramaturgic dilemma repeated from poetry to playwrights and from short-stories to cinema screen —with Strawberry and Chocolate as the transgender example par excellence. After dealing with more than 3 million tourists in 2014 alone, the open code of our closed society is now obvious: wealth and welfare are imported effects in Cuba and do not depend on any endemic effort.

The Sugar Curtain, with its ideological filter of loyalty to the Leader, its secret alliances with dictatorships both from left and right, and the export of violence to every continent as a way to divert subversion out of the Island, is crumbling in Cuba; yet the Castro elite in power keeps total control of a self-transition not to democracy but to dictocracy. A second generation of Castros is knocking at the foreign door of the Oval Office. And their olive green guerrilla uniforms, in an act of transvestism, fit into luxury guayaberas and civil suits cut by the tailors of our post-totalitarian State capitalism.

We, the others, are now approaching you, the other others, in a close encounter of the Cuban kind. The alternative model that used to play the victim —first during the Cold War and then in this unipolar world— is about to join the classic canon of capitals and cops, without quitting the revolutionary —technically, retrovolutionary— rhetorics. Decades of autocratic Asian experience, and billions in geopolitical loans, legitimizes our Caribbean experiment.

In consequence, in our popular vocabulary the feared term “foreigner” has mutated into the much more noble “amici” —the plural which welcomes singular citizens from the First Europe—, the colloquial “pepe” —who generously share even our mother tongue, preferably from Spain and Argentine—, the efficient “fula” —a reduction of the visitor to the color of his hard currency—, the astounding “faste” —which in Cuba is the flying metaphor of “fasten your seat belts” before takeoff, and the unique “yuma” —to avoid any derogative reminiscence of the Yankee imperialists.

All these etymological delicacies of our vocubalary are just the first step of a neighboring procedure that doesn’t take foreigners for granted. On the contrary, Cuba is expected to cubanize them right on the spot. And such a hyper-politeness is the secret shortcut to foreignizing ourselves. We are really committed to this conversion from claustrophobic comrades to cosmopolitan colleagues. The New Man of Ernesto Guevara is the New Manager: “Ché” is overpronounced in Cuba today as “check”.

The relief from the scarcities of Castroism points now to JetBlue, MasterCard, Netflix, Airbnb, Amazon, AT&T, US agricultural corporations, Google apps and other external et ceteras. True life is elsewhere, as poet Arthur Rimbaud put it. Given the current circumstances, the POW Rambo —himself a byproduct of the Cold War as well— is reference enough to start our journey back to the future. And, more prone to McDonalds than what Americans are ever willing to accept —as we recognize each other, we will realize how unknown we have been— at least we do agree that fundamental freedoms are to be excluded from this formula of fidelity. The rationale is that, if we Cubans have already waited for over half a century to fully exercise our rights, now we must wait a little longer. Until history freezes over. Till democracy do us part.

Continue reading HERE.

Machete in the back

ermita

Yesterday Obama visited the Our Lady of Charity shrine in Miami, a VERY symbolic and SACRED place for the Cuban Exile community. Now because of this visit many are calling this a “symbolic” visit or an “olive branch” extended out to the Cuban Exile community because of Obama’s move to normalize relations with the dictatorship of Cuba.

On the outside, it seems warm, and fuzzy. The first President to visit the shrine, but a DEEP DOWN feeling that I have is that of a MACHETE piercing through my back.

Why?

-Well let’s see…..The US is about to drop Cuba form the State sponsor of terrorism. What a coincidence that TODAY is the last day of the 45 day period that congress could of challenged the President’s decision to remove Cuba form the state sponsored terror list.
- Obama opened the door for the normalization of relations between Cuba and the US.

And

-Basically the President ignored and left out the Cuban exile community and the people of Cuba.

But….Alfredo, the president visited our shrine and said “hola” to those in the church! Yes, and the dictator Fidel and his revolutionaries came down the mountain all wearing rosaries…..and 56 years later …the nightmare continues!!!

Crackdown on opposition in Cuba ignored by visiting Congressional delegation

John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Crackdown on opposition in Cuba ignored by visiting Congressional delegation
Will the plight of Cubans continue to be ignored for the sake of regime engagement?
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Danilo Maldonado "El Sexto" arbitrarily detained since Dec 26, 2014 HRF

Five months after President Obama's announcement of a reset on Cuba policy repression continues to rise. At the same time the Administration seems to be ignoring the Castro regime's continuing outlaw behavior such as smuggling Chinese arms through Colombia uncovered on February 28, 2015. Visiting delegations of the U.S. government have been focusing on economic opportunities with the dictatorship while remaining publicly silent on human rights situation only to say that they've discussed it privately with officials.

One of these individuals, who is in Cuba today, is Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico. Back on December 17, 2014 Senator Udall discussed the policy announcement on UK's Channel 4 and at the time he said: "We are going down the road to empower the Cuban people, for us to be engaged rather than to isolate and we are going to see good things happen in both countries for our people." Senator Udall is now in Cuba with Senator Al Franken, Congressman Raúl Grijalva, and Congressman John Larson with an agenda that appears to be focused on trade and lifting economic sanctions.

Unfortunately since December 17th, despite the prediction of Senator Udall, we have seen some bad things happen to Cubans. Rising violence and arbitrary detentions against dissenters among them artists such as Danilo Maldonado "El Sexto", Tania Bruguera, and Gorki Águila. Another example that demonstrates the totalitarian nature of the regime is the case of Yosvany Melchor, imprisoned since 2010 in reprisal for his mother not becoming a regime informant.  Berta Soler, leader of the internal opposition group, the Ladies in White expressed her concerns regarding the Cuba reset.

Continue reading HERE.

I’m more puzzled than Geisha Boy. Why an “Olive Branch” from Obama to Florida Cubans at Ermita Shrine? Why Not Roses?

geisha1geisha3
From the Miami Herald:

"President Obama extended a symbolic olive branch Thursday to Miami's Cuban-Americans by paying his respects to the shrine to Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre in Coconut Grove.

I am greatly puzzled because according to Websters:

To extend an olive branch: to make an offer of peace or to approach a foe in the spirit of conciliation.

Whereas:

Dark Pink Roses: a symbol of gratitude and appreciation, and so are a standard way to deliver a message of thanks.

So why did President Obama not show up at this traditional Cuban-American shrine with roses? After all,
for months this same mainstream media has been relentlessly reporting how--based on on polls by Bendixen & Amandi, FIU, blah...blah--the overwhelming majority of Florida Cuban-Americans SUPPORT Obama's Cuba policy.

So why an "Olive Branch?" What's to conciliate with Cuban-Americans? Based on the media's own assertions Cuban-Americans were not foes of Obama's Cuba policy. Based on the media's own assertions they were Obama's supporters. So shouldn't Obama be extending a "thank-you" gesture of some kind? Shouldn't it be roses instead of an Olive Branch?

geisha4beck4

I am greatly puzzled...unless of course this is an (unwitting) admission by the Miami Herald that (as often exposed here at Babalu Blog) those relentlessly-cited polls by Amandi & Bendixen and Florida International University are nothing but cheap public relations scams commissioned by Democrats?

"Le ZZZUMBA!!!"

FL Bar attorneys on tourist junket to apartheid Cuba get a lesson in the Castro system of law

After learning that there is no due process in Cuba and the "rule of law" is effectively whatever the dictatorship says it is, the Florida attorneys quickly jumped to action and ordered another round of mojitos at the state-run bar.

Via the Daily Business Review:

Havana Lawyer Asses Cuban Legal System

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The Cuban bar has no compunctions in voicing its displeasure with the Cuban legal system—particularly with the criminal justice system, inherited from the 17th century Spanish Inquisition—to government officials.

Yet, Havana attorney Osvaldo Miranda Diaz said, they are "getting tired of complaining."

"Nothing changes," he said. "The system is disgusting. There is no due process."

Miranda Diaz gave an overview of the Cuban legal system Thursday to a roomful of U.S. attorneys on a fact-finding trip to Cuba through the Florida Bar's international section. The delegation of 30 attorneys—most from Florida—are staying in Havana through Saturday. They include former American Bar Association president Stephen Zack and lawyers from Genovese Joblove & Battista, Hinshaw & Culbertson, Squire Patton Boggs and Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.

The lawyers questioned Miranda Diaz extensively about the Cuban legal system—some expressing shock about the vast differences.

For one thing, Miranda Diaz said, Cuba has no jury system. Instead Cuba uses professional and nonprofessional judges who hear all cases, both at the trial and appellate level. Most have no desire to be judges or prosecutors, but agree to do a stint when "drafted" by the government, he said. Miranda Diaz himself reluctantly did two years as a judge, he said, when the government presented him with the option after law school of "judge or prosecutor."

He explained how Cubans become lawyers. The whole selection process, as in all professions, is done by the government and based solely on a student's test scores, he said. Would-be lawyers choose law as their top preference but may or may not be picked by the government.

The hopeful law students also do not get to choose their law school. There are about five law schools in the country, with Havana University the top one, Miranda Diaz said. To boost their chances of getting accepted into that school, students may use a fake Havana address, since one must live in Havana to be accepted there.

Far more women than men attend law school in Cuba, Miranda Diaz noted, with 79 percent of students female. Miranda Diaz's hypothesis is that men are steered to the engineering field.

One statistic that baffles Cuban lawyers, though, is why only 10 percent of law students are black, since "we don't have racism in this country," according to Miranda Diaz.

Miranda Diaz explained the criminal justice system in Cuba to the shocked Americans. When a Cuban is arrested, he can be jailed without the right to see a lawyer or make a phone call for 72 hours. After a week, the prosecutor decides whether to grant the person bail or not.

At that point, he or she has just five days to hire a lawyer and does not get access to his or her criminal file until the case is through. This is despite the fact the island country claims an "innocent until proven guilty" philosophy.

"They can keep you in jail for one week and do what they want—interrogate you, do anything," he said. "It's like the Soviet system."

On a positive note, bribery and corruption of judges does not occur in Cuba, Miranda Diaz said.

Like American lawyers, Cuban lawyers are bound by ethical guidelines, he noted. One of the more unusual ones: "Lawyers cannot be drunk during a trial."

"We ought to adopt that one," Zack cracked.

Legal fees are usually flat fees rather than hourly, Miranda Diaz said, which can be problematic since a case can last one week or one year.

International arbitrations are on the rise, he noted, but can only be used by foreigners.