Photographer gives North Korea the ‘Cuba’ treatment

For decades the misery and repression of apartheid Cuba has been glossed over by many artists who attempt to portray life on the island prison as a never-ending party full of happy, colorful natives. Now, one photographer is giving North Korea the same “Cuba” treatment.

Jessica Chou in Yahoo News:

Why This North Korean Street Style Story Is Dangerous

Even in the bleakest corners of the earth, if you’re searching for beauty, you’re guaranteed to find it. So when photographer Mihaela Noroc went to North Korea as part of her project, Atlas of Beauty, the stunning portraits she was able to capture tell a story not often told about the Hermit Kingdom. But is it the truth?

Noroc has made a name for herself traveling to more than 40 countries and photographing women, in natural light, who stare directly into her camera. “I think everybody has to cultivate their own beauty, rather than copying something that doesn’t [suit them],” she writes in her mission statement. “Beauty is everywhere, and it’s not a matter of cosmetics, money, race, or social status, but more about being yourself.” Through her work, Noroc hopes to celebrate diversity around the world, to celebrate the beauty of diversity. But what happens when she’s capturing beauty in a country that doesn’t celebrate diversity, and punishes its citizens for presenting anything other than a very narrow, government-dictated image of what is appropriate?


Noroc, however, seems unconcerned about the politics that govern the nation — even if those politics also severely limit the ability of women to express themselves in ways as small as through their personal style. “My project is about normal people, not about politicians,” she tells us — and to her credit, she does find a variety of women to photograph, from factory workers to waitresses to singers. But if her definition of beauty is contingent on the ability to “be yourself,” then these North Korean portraits have not fulfilled her mission.

Yes, the photos are an interesting look at the women of North Korea. Out of context, the photos are objectively beautiful, and the women are, too, because all women are beautiful, especially when they appear happy, healthy, and empowered. But when you consider that these women live in a nation where the United Nations estimates some 84% of households deal with “borderline or poor food consumption,” the photos start seeming like a red herring that distracts from those very problems to tell a false story in which the women living there have agency.

Read the entire article HERE.

H/T T.M.

Reports from Cuba: The stampede continues

By Rebeca Monzo in Translating Cuba:

The Stampede Continues

One year after initiating conversations to reestablish relations with the U.S., the Cuban Government continues its immobile posture, without taking a step forward.

The raised expectations, with which the immense majority of the Cuban population gave itself illusions, have stagnated, and the stampede of Cubans, most of them young, continues making news in all the foreign newspapers.

A new Mariel Boatlift, but this time by land, is happening. So far this year, the alarming number of national emigrants by different routes and countries, with Miami the final destination, has risen to 43,169, surpassing the massive emigration of 1994.

The loss of faith in the Cuban Government and the lack of those so-awaited changes have caused a large part of the Cuban people to opt for escape, in search of a better future for them and their families, in other latitudes. Even people who have the privilege of working in successful private establishments, like some private restaurants, realized that the options of expanding and becoming independent, and offering a better education to their children, were each time more unreachable.

Others, still clinging to what they call “change,” for lack of knowledge — for example, being able to travel, buy a car or an apartment, or sell their house —  ignore that these so-called changes are nothing more than the return of some rights usurped by their own government, for which they don’t need to be so grateful.

While a real opening isn’t happening and the Government continues clinging and demanding nothing intelligent, and continues paying wages of poverty to professionals and preventing them from having their own business, everything will continue the same.

This makes me think that really they don’t want change that would make their ancient governmental structure totter, or the irremediable loss of power, which would cause the failure of their politics to be discovered.

As long as the higher-ups don’t have the courage to renounce and admit their own errors, and continue to entrench themselves behind demands and absurd accusations directed at our neighbor to the north, the migratory stampede will be unstoppable.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Facebook Meme of the Day – What drove the left to finally admit Cuba’s Castros are terrorists

For decades, despite all the incontrovertible evidence, the left in this country has been loath to admit Cuba’s criminal Castro dictatorship is a terrorist regime. It does not matter how many terrorist acts they commit or how many terrorist organizations they arm or how many terrorists they give safe harbor to, the apartheid Castro dictatorship remains the poster child of the American left and they refuse to betray them.

That has always been the case until now. Presented with a chance to take a shot at two Republican Cuban American senators who happen to be running for president, the left succumbed to temptation and finally admitted that the Castros are terrorists.


Funny what motivates the left in this country.

Voters in Argentina vote to end Peronism and its disastrous socialist policies

Belen Marty in The PanAm Post:

Underdog Mauricio Macri Brings Down Kirchner Rule in Argentina

Voters Demand Change, an End to Peronism
Despite an intense campaign against him, conservative opposition-candidate Mauricio Macri defeated Cristina Kirchner’s appointed successor Daniel Scioli.

Opposition-leader Mauricio Macri is poised to become Argentina’s first non-Peronist president in decades, putting an end to 12 years of socialist-leaning Front for Victory rule. With over 66 percent of polls counted, preliminary official results give the Cambiemos (we change) candidate a 7 percent advantage over the ruling-party candidate, Daniel Scioli.

A businessman and soccer-club president turned congressman and Buenos Aires mayor, Macri surged in the polls after a surprising performance in the first round of the election.

Election day was relatively calm, at least by Argentinean standards. Transparency-watchdog Ser Fiscal received at least 102 complaints of irregularities, including stolen and doctored ballots, small explosions, closed stations, and foreigners allegedly crossing the border to vote for President Cristina Kirchner’s successor.

Voting centers across the South American nation remained open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. local time on November 22. And José Luis Patiño, founder and chief technology officer at Ser Fiscal, told the PanAm Post that all complaints would show up on a map detailing electoral crimes.

Around 14:00 local time, Patiño said half of Argentina’s registered voters had already cast their ballots: “So far the election has been calm, but problems usually arise afterwards, when local leaders begin realizing who is leading the race. If something wants to try anything, he’ll do it near the closing time.”

However,”when there is a lot of control, those with bad intentions fail,” he explained.

Continue reading HERE.

Cruise ship picks up eight Cuban refugees who escaped apartheid Cuba on a raft

The irony: While American cruise lines jockey for position to be the first to take American tourists to frolic and enjoy the sights and sounds of misery and squalor in apartheid Cuba, one of those cruise lines ended up rescuing eight Cuban refugees who managed to escape the island prison on a makeshift raft.

Via The Daily Mail:

Royal Caribbean cruise ship stops to rescue eight Cuban refugees adrift in the Caribbean as shocked passengers look on

Eight refugees fleeing from Cuba were rescued by a Royal Caribbean cruise ship after they were spotted out at sea just before the sun came up on Sunday morning.

The refugees were floating on a row boat that appeared to be attached to barrels, with backpacks and paddles inside.

They were taken aboard the cruise ship aptly-titled Independence of the Seas until the US Coast Guard arrived and picked them up.

Passenger Mark Sims said that at first others believed the refugees were pirates trying to get on the ship.

There were more than 4,000 passengers and 1,500 crew members on board at the time.

This isn’t the first time a Royal Caribbean ship picked up Cuban refugees.

Just last month Freedom the Seas picked up seven Cubans who had been out in the ocean with only crackers and water for ten days.

Continue reading HERE.

Obama-backed apartheid regime in Cuba violently arrests nearly 300 dissidents in another Sunday of repression

Yesterday marked the 31st consecutive Sunday of repression in Cuba as the Obama-backed apartheid dictatorship of the Castro brothers violently arrested nearly 300 peaceful dissidents and human rights activists. Ever since President Obama surrendered to the apartheid Castro regime and began the “normalization” process between the two countries, violent repression in Cuba has risen significantly. Nevertheless, the Obama administration continues to give concessions to the brutal Cuban dictatorship although the regime has given absolutely nothing in return. Cuba not only continues to be a totalitarian state, they have become bolder and more vicious in their repression since receiving the green light from the U.S.

Capitol Hill Cubans has the latest from the Hope and Change brutalizing Cuba’s dissidents:

Nearly 300 Cuban Dissidents Arrested on Sunday

The human rights situation in Cuba is going from bad to worse under Obama’s blank check for the Castro regime.

For the 31st Sunday in a row, nearly 300 Cuban dissidents were arrested as they tried to attend Mass, then peacefully demonstrate as part of the #TodosMarchamos (#WeAllMarch) campaign.

In Havana, nearly 100 members of The Ladies in White — the renowned group composed of the wives, daughters, mothers and other relatives of Cuban political prisoners — were arrested.

Among those arrested was its leader, Berta Soler, who on Friday was threatened by Castro’s secret police that “her time in the opposition had come to an end.”

In the provinces, 98 activists from the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) were arrested in the eastern city of Santiago; 51 in Camaguey; 9 in Las Tunas; 9 in Guantanamo; and 12 in Holguin.

Among those arrested was Cuban labor leader and former prisoner of conscience, Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, who also received death threats from Castro’s secret police.

It’s “what change looks like” in Obama’s Cuba.

Cuba’s migration crisis: All part of Castro regime’s plan

Soren Triff in Diario de Cuba:

Three clarifications on the forced migration of Cubans

The current crisis is not the result of fear that the Cuban Adjustment Act will be repealed. It is part of the regime’s plan.

cuba costa rica nica refugee

To explain the humanitarian crisis that the Cuban regime is generating in the eyes of the world, there are some terms used by the media that must be immediately rectified: “exodus,” “flight” and “economic emigration” or “political emigration.”

I understand that these are the traditional reference frameworks for migratory news about Cubans, but they are misleading. In Cuba the regime is creating a forced migration, not an exodus. It is an expulsion of the society’s middle class, not a flight. And it is a humanitarian crisis, not a migration of a political or economic nature.

Why is it a forced migration? For years the migrations of 1965, 1980 and 1994 have been studied as classic cases of forced migrations in political science and international relations textbooks, like Kelly M. Greenhill’s Weapons of Mass Migration. As with genocides, these were migrations artificially created by a leader making rational calculations about risks and benefits, resulting in the expulsion of human groups to other democratic countries in order to obtain a range of benefits.

In Cuba the regime controls the entrance and exit of its citizens, so these people have express permission from the government to leave the country. Raúl Castro is carrying out a deliberate, direct attack on certain nationals, using them as weapons in international politics, in addition to an indirect attack on the countries receiving Cubans.

Through this action the leader seeks to conceal the internal conflict between the government and the population, and its failure to improve the lives of Cubans, diverting attention from the national scenario to the international arena, as he banks on other countries accepting Cubans and helping to subsidize this model of government, as has happened before.

Expelled or escaped? Traditionally those who emigrate are considered news, but emigration is not a cause, but rather a consequence of something else. When the news focuses solely on those who migrate, the reason for the emigration remains hidden, and those responsible escape scrutiny. For example, between 1933 and 1938 there was an “exodus” of German Jews to Europe, America and Palestine that distracted attention from the cause: the denial of their rights and the destruction of their livelihoods.

The “Cuban model” consists of exploiting capitalist partners to prop up the regime, as it continues to subject its people to a survival economy. Those who attempt to change acceptable public behavior, economic or social, become internal “enemies” of the State. The regime harasses them with inspections, fines, jail time, taxes, the confiscation of their goods, and low-paying jobs, or ones that do not match their professional qualifications. All this amounts to a state of persecution. Expulsion from the country is a consequence of the above.

Continue reading HERE.

Reports from Cuba: Another prisoner swap?

Mario Lleonart in Translating Cuba:

Another Prisoner Swap?

Once again the name of Ernesto Borges Pérez returns to the public arena, generating new expectations about his release. He has served more than seventeen long years of the thirty to which he was sentenced, after his death sentence was commuted at the prosecutor’s request. Ernesto’s advance disclosure thwarted the illegal infiltration into the U.S. of twenty-six Cuban spies, of the hordes frequently sent there. But at the cost of seventeen unrecoverable years from Ernesto’s valuable life. Everything indicates that he is the bargaining chip long set aside to trade for the spy Ana Belén Montes.*

Ernesto may finally go free and benefit from his heroic action, which by any measure was invaluable, whatever the price paid. I hope that the answer to the prayers we have raised for so long finally arrives. Ernesto’s parents Yvonne and Raul, elderly and ailing, can still experience the greatest happiness of their lives. His brother Cesar, and Paola, his only daughter, in exile, can laugh again. And he, with his tremendous human virtues, strengthened in prison, can still be of great benefit to a world greatly in need of heroes like him.

*Translator’s note: The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency analyst convicted in 2003 of spying for Cuba and sentenced to 25 years in prison. See, e.g. “New Revelations About Cuban Spy Ana Montes.”

Translated by Tomás A.

The productivity tricks of evil dictators: Cuba’s Castro teaches how to purge threats offers some of the best productivity tips used by evil dictators. Cuba’s Fidel Castro offers the best way to purge threats to your power:

Purge Threats to Your Power

In order to hold onto power, a dictator often needs to get rid of threats. This means purging your closest friends and advisors when they get too close to you or you feel like they want your power. The threat alone makes those outside the circle vie for power and attention, while the inner circle is stuck sucking up to you.

Nearly every dictator uses this tactic to some extent, but Fidel Castro and Peru’s Alberto Fujimoro were especially good at it. As Steven Levitsky points out in the Journal of Democracy, Fujimori is most famous for his self-coup in 1992 where he closed Congress, suspended the constitution and got rid of the judiciary so that he could take control.

In their book The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behaviour is Almost Always Good Politics, authors Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith outline this idea as “Rule 1: Keep your winning coalition as small as possible.”

Fidel Castro was legendary at this. After the revolution in Cuba was a success, 12 of his 20 ministers had resigned (or were ousted). This included Castro’s fellow revolutionary Che Guevara. Castro sent Guevera to Bolivia for a mission in 1967, then cut his funding and left him stranded there because Castro saw Guevera as a threat.

How you can use this: If someone is challenging your authority, the easiest way to deal with it is to get rid of the person in question. Be careful and keep an eye out for anyone gunning for your position. On the flipside, if you’re looking to move up in the ranks, you’ll either want to be extra nice to the person who’s job you’re gunning for, so they don’t feel threatened. Alternatively, you could try to get rid of them before they get rid of you, but that’s much riskier (and not as nice).

Read the rest of the “tips” HERE.

The sad ballad of Cuban emigration

Carlos Alberto Montaner at his blog (translation by Translating Cuba):

The Sad Ballad of Cuban Emigration

Another stampede of Cubans. It happens from time to time. An editorial in Costa Rica’s La Nación offers a strong description of how the government of that country reacted: “First duty, to protect the victims.” The Costa Ricans gave them transit visas and, as they are stranded at the border, quickly built provisional shelters to feed and house them.

Bravo! This is what a civilized nation does. These are not animals. They are more than 1,700 people. They are not criminals, as a Nicaraguan Sandinista deputy unjustly labeled them. The criminals are the military and the police who are clubbing unarmed and peaceful immigrants. They are frightened individuals and families – children, pregnant women – almost all young, who are trying to reach the United States border by land, after traveling over a thousand miles from Ecuador.

Nor are they going to break the laws of the country they are heading to. In the United States a favorable law awaits them, enacted over 60 years ago in the midst of the Cold War. If they reach US territory they are granted a provisional parole and then allowed to regularize their status at the end of one year. They left Cuba legally and they will live legally in the United States. What sense does it make to stop them?

Not to mention that this measure that protects Cubans has a pedagogical utility. It serves to demonstrate that the best way to solve the problem of the undocumented is to arbitrate some formula that allows them to study, pay taxes, be productive and integrate themselves into the nation in which they are living. The notable success of Cubans in the United States is due, to a certain extent, to the fact that they can rebuild their lives quickly and fight to conquer the “American Dream.”

The same editorial, with anger and astonishment, reproaches the Cuban authorities who do not protect their own citizens. If 1,700 Costa Ricans, Uruguayans, Chileans, Spaniards, or people from any normal country in which the state is at the service of the people, found themselves in the situation these Cubans find themselves in, the government in question would have tried to protect them, the president would have publicly expressed his solidarity, and the foreign minister would have allocated resources to help them.

Cuba is different. The dictatorship has spent 56 years humiliating and mistreating every person inclined to emigrate. Anyone who leaves is an enemy. While civilized nations have institutions dedicated to supporting emigrants, without asking them their reasons for exercising their right to settle where they can and where they please, on this unhappy island the government plunders them, insults them and treats them as traitors.

Read more

Portrait of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen unveiled at House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing Room

Congratulations to our good friend and a tenacious and tireless fighter for freedom, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, on the unveiling of her portrait in the Hearing Room of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Jay Nordlinger in National Review:

Ily’s Hour

As she walks down the corridor in the Rayburn House Office Building, she asks someone, “Are you coming to my hanging?”

The woman doing the asking is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, known to some as “Ily.” She is a congresswoman from Miami, elected in 1989. (It was a special election following the death of an incumbent.) She is a Republican, and a force, and a joy.

Why “hanging”? Her portrait will be unveiled, and hung, in the hearing room of the Foreign Affairs Committee. She was chairwoman of that committee in the previous Congress.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is a champion of democracy, freedom, and human rights — not just in Cuba, land of her birth, but in all the world: the Middle East, the Far East, it doesn’t matter.

  • When you walk into the hearing room, the first portraits you see are those of Henry Hyde and Dante Fascell. I remember them well. (Shades of Hamlet?) Hyde was a congressman from the Chicago area; Fascell was from Florida.
  • The room is absolutely packed — cheek to cheek, shoulder to shoulder. Eliot Engel, the New York Democrat, says, “I’ve been a member of this committee for many years, and have never seen the room this full. Not even for a holiday party.”

Continue reading HERE.

Reports from Cuba: Cuban State Security warns Berta Soler ‘the end of the opposition’ has arrived

Via 14yMedio in Translating Cuba:

Cuban State Security Warns Berta Soler “The End Of Opposition” Has Arrived
Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White

The leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, was arrested Friday outside Havana’s Fifth Police Station and held for several hours. The regime opponent was there to show her solidarity with the the activist Hugo Damian Prieto, detained since October 25 and charged with the alleged crime of disorderly conduct for participating in a demonstration.

During the arrest, at a police unit in Alamar, east of the capital, Soler was warned by State Security official who called himself Francisco, that “the end of the opposition has already been reached.” The agent added that it was also time for “the end” of the Sunday marches in the area of Santa Rita Church.

Among those also detained during the day were Ladies in White Lismery Quintana, Maria Ancon and Maria Cristina Labrada, as well as the activists Zaqueo Baez, Egberto Escobedo and Angel Moya. All were released hours after their arrest, as was confirmed by this newspaper.

Marco Rubio pledges to end Obama’s policy of appeasement and surrender to Cuba’s apartheid regime

Via The Hill:

Rubio pledges to undo Obama’s Cuba thaw

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) says he would undo much of President Obama’s diplomacy with Cuba if elected president.

“Nothing was asked of Cuba,” he said Thursday of the White House’s diplomatic thaw with the island nation earlier this year, according to The Associated Press.

“We somehow ignore the fact that 90 miles from our shores is an anti-American communist dictatorship that oppresses its people and sows instability,” Rubio added.

“We have a vested interest in ensuring there’s stability on that island, and you won’t have it as long as it’s a dictatorship,” the GOP presidential candidate continued. “People think it’s because we’re being stubborn or holding onto old policies. I’m prepared to change strategies with Cuba, but it has to be one that yields results.”

Rubio said he would downgrade the Embassy of the United States opened in Havana earlier this year if he wins the presidency, instead making the facility a diplomatic interests section, which it was before the Obama administration.

He also pledged to snap back into place restrictions on U.S. government and business dealings with Cuba.

Rubio criticized American corporate interests for blindly rushing toward Cuba’s markets.

“American companies think that they want to invest in Cuba. They have no idea what the terms are,” he said. “The terms are, you don’t own anything. You can’t go to Cuba and open a business and own it.”

He also charged that Cuba’s restrictive society presents an immediate humanitarian concern for Americans.

“As long as they’re an oppressive regime, people are going to get in rafts and leave that island and come to the U.S.,” the presidential candidate said. “It’s our Coast Guard that’s going to have to go and save their lives in those straits.”

Continue reading HERE.