ISIS and the missing Gitmo guy targeting Rio Olympics for terror?

(My new American Thinker post)

Brazil has enough problems these days, from a lousy economy to a political crisis to zika and a “futbol” team that can’t win anymore.

Let’s add another one and this one (via Fausta’s Blog) may be the most unpleasant of all:

A new Telegram channel, Ansar al-Khilafah Brazil, appeared today, declaring itself an ISIS cell in Brazil that had pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “If French police couldn’t stop France attacks, then their training Brazil’s police will serve no use,” said a message on the new channel. But the administrator later posted that it was just a messaging channel with one person reposting ISIS news in several languages.
ISIS has been offering its regular propaganda channel in Portuguese along with English, French, German, Russian and other languages in target areas.

We add the crazy story of the GITMO alumnus living in Uruguay who is suddenly missing.  It is believed that he crossed illegally into Brazil.  We don’t believe that he went to Rio to learn how to “samba” or to tell Sergio Mendes that he loved his “Fool on the Hill” arrangement.

Let’s safely assume that he is up to no good with thousands coming to Rio for the Olympics.  After all, he is a terrorist!

In the past, we may have overlooked these threats, but you can’t anymore, after Nice, Orlando, San Bernardino and Paris.

Brazilian authorities assure us that there is no specific threat.   Frankly, I can understand that they may be trying to downplay it.    At the same time, the aforementioned article reminds us that French ISIS fighter Maxime Hauchard tweeted, “Brazil, you are our next target.”

We know that ISIS loves soft targets.   What could be “softer” than thousands of people moving around a major city during an Olympic event?  It’s scary!

So let’s hope that the entire world has their eyes open because these threats have to be taken very seriously.

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

Meet Hugo’s daughter (‘La chica rica’)

maria-money chavez daughter
Maria Chavez

(My new American Thinker post)

Let me introduce you to the richest young woman in Venezuela, or “la chica rica”, i.e. the rich girl.

Her name is María Gabriela Chávez, or the daughter of the socialist Hugo Chavez.

According to Ezequiel Spector, a lawyer, PhD candidate, professor at the University Torcuato Di Tella and contributor at PanAm Post, this is one lucky Maria:

The alleged fortune of María Gabriela Chávez, daughter of the late Hugo Chávez, has recently stirred up controversy in Venezuela. Media reports suggest that Chávez’s daughter has US$4.2 billion stored in bank accounts in the United States and Andorra, which might make her the wealthiest person in Venezuela.

Critics have pointed to a supposed inconsistency: how can one support the so-called Bolivarian Revolution while enjoying such enormous riches? However, the premise of this critique is flawed, because it assumes that Chavismo emerged to uphold rights and equality.

How did the Chavez family get so filthy rich? Did they create great industries and hire thousands of people?   Did they contribute to the economy?    They did it because they stole it in the name of income inequality:

They are rich because the government has awarded them privileges and subsidies, at the expense of the average citizen. That’s 21st-century socialism’s social mobility. They don’t want capitalism, since their socialist system has already made them quite comfortable.

They also do it because the Western media doesn’t ask them about their wealth.

For example, Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela, recently visited the US.   She was given a total pass by US journalists who were fascinated by the Cuban health care system rather than Castro, Inc, the empire that has made her family fifthly rich too.

Maria Gabriela in Caracas and Mariela in Havana, a couple of lucky girls who preach socialism and live like Maria Antoniette!

As Hall & Oates sang many years ago:

“You can rely on the old man’s money

You can rely on the old man’s money….”

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

Castro’s Cuban version of ‘perestroika’ is not working, either



(My new American Thinker post)

Down in Cuba, Raul Castro made two announcements.

First, he said “adios” to the minister of the economy. For the record, the Cuban minister of the economy is nothing but a figurehead who does whatever the Castro brothers tell him to do. And;

Second, he reminded Cubans that the troubles in Venezuela will bring more hard economic times.

Raul said this about the hard times ahead:

“Rumors and forecasts of an imminent collapse of our economy with a return to the acute phase of the Special Period … have started to appear,”

Castro said according to a copy of his speech provided by the country’s official news agency Prensa Latina.

Foreign journalists are barred from the assembly.

He was referring to the years after Cuba’s biggest benefactor, the Soviet Union, collapsed. During that time, in the early 1990s, Cubans had to cope with widespread power outages and food shortages.

“We cannot deny there will be some impact, including worse than currently, but we are prepared and in better conditions than then to revert it.”

In many ways, this is reminiscent of perestroika in the late 1980s, or Mr Gorbachev’s efforts to revive the USSR economy. In other words, talking reform is not reform, unless you are willing to make structural changes in a communist system,

This is how Peter Boettke, Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University, explained thefailure of perestroika:

One of the main reasons perestroika failed was because it wasn’t tried.

During his six years in power, Gorbachev introduced at least 10 programs for the “radical restructuring” of the Soviet economy, not a one of which was implemented.

Instead, economic reform was limited to inconsistent and incoherent half-measures.

The law on individual economic activity, the law on state enterprises, and the various price-reform proposals, for example, amounted to nothing more than half-measures incapable of producing the desired economic results even if they were implemented in an ideal environment.

Conceptually, economic reform is a fairly simple matter.

Private property in resources must be established and protected by a rule of law; consumer and producer subsidies must be eliminated; prices must be freed to adjust to the forces of supply and demand; responsible fiscal policy should be pursued that keeps taxation to a minimum and reins in deficit financing; and a sound currency must be established.

Introducing such reforms — even within Western economies — is anything but simple.

And the major problem is not just a conceptual one of designing the appropriate sequence or plan of reform.

In other words, communist economic systems cannot be reformed. They have to thrown into the garbage and replaced with real free markets, the rule of law and a respect for private property. Gorbachev did not do that in the USSR and Castro is not doing it in Cuba.

Why is Castro not allowing full market reforms in Cuba? The answer is simple greed. The Cuban economy, and the Castro family’s ownership of it, has turned these two bearded revolutionaries into filthy rich men. Add to this the billions stolen from U.S. citizens (estimated today’s value is US$ 7 billion) and Cubans and this is a racket of unprecedented proportions 90 miles south of Florida!

Reforms mean that the Castro family would have to share its wealth with Cubans. Sorry — that’s not going to happen no matter how many times President Obama and Raul Castro do the wave in Cuba.

How do you say perestroika in Spanish? Same as in Russian!

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

Going shopping in Venezuela is a border crosser

(My new American Thinker post)

What else can you say about Venezuela?  It is a mess!

Years ago, I went to Caracas, and I remember having to buy some things for my trip.  I walked over to a small shopping center near the hotel, purchased some things, and that was it.  It was like any U.S. city, from the availability of products to number of stores.  To say the least, Caracas was a modern city with nice people.

Well, things have changed, and not for the better.  In the last couple of days, I saw a report of people crossing into Colombia to purchase groceries:

In just 12 hours, more than 35,000 Venezuelans crossed the border into Colombia on Sunday to buy food and medicines in the city of Cucuta, when the Venezuelan government agreed to opened border crossings for one day only.

People began crossing the Simon Bolivar international bridge at 5:00 a.m. to purchase products that are scarce in Venezuela.

“We’re from here in San Antonio (and), honestly, we don’t have any food to give our children, so I don’t think it’s fair that the border is still closed,” a Venezuelan woman told EFE in Cucuta.

The woman, who preferred to not give her name, crossed the international bridge with her husband and children ages 5 and 2.

The border crossings between Tachira state and Norte de Santander province were closed on Aug. 19, 2015, by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who said he took the measure to fight smuggling and prevent members of paramilitary groups from entering Venezuela.

What is the definition of a failed state?  In my mind, a failed state is one where people have to cross a border to buy milk and other groceries because their stores are empty.

Sooner rather than later, the U.S. and the OAS will come to terms with the reality that Venezuela is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis previously unseen in Latin America.  What else can you say about shelves without foodstuffs, gas stations without gasoline, drug stores without aspirin, and hospitals without medical supplies?

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

5 dead in Dallas…..5 more reasons to say that President Obama has failed us!

(My new American Thinker post)

Obama Care is a huge problem that President Obama will leave his successor. And there is Iraq, Libya and so on.  Lots of messes for his successor to clean up indeed.

In retrospect, race relations will be his biggest failure.

Back in November 2008, I voted for Senator McCain but looked forward that our first black president would bring us together. I was anticipating that he’d talk about the structural problems in the black community, such as the collapse of the black family unit and black on black crime in Chicago and other inner cities.

Instead, Obama has made things worse by focusing on the police and doing nothing about black districts lacking any hope or seeing no change.

A few months ago, Gil Troy, a professor of history at McGill University wrote an article that looks rather interesting after Dallas:

The last Democratic president and the last Republican president both managed race relations more effectively than Obama has. Seven years after American voters made history by electing the country’s first black president, racial tensions have worsened.

It didn’t rank on Obama’s one-item list of his “few regrets” during his State of the Union address. But signs of Obama’s failure are on our streets, on our campuses and among our leaders, left and right.

“Ferguson” has become shorthand for African-American fury objecting to insensitive white cops harassing young blacks.

The “Black Lives Matter” movement has spilled into American campus culture, as privileged kids attending the world’s finest universities bemoan their alleged oppression — bullying anyone who challenges them.

This black backlash has prompted a white backlash, personified by Donald Trump.

Every justifiable police shooting called “racist,” every Halloween costume labeled politically incorrect, every reasonable thought censored makes Trump look like America’s last honest man.

Amid this tension, Obama has been disturbingly passive — even during America’s first serious race riots since 1992.

He acts like a meteorologist observing the bad weather, not a president able to shape the political climate.

How embarrassing that Obama’s most memorable act of presidential leadership on race may end up being inviting a black professor and a white cop to the White House for his 2009 “beer summit.”

Yes, President Obama will be remembered for two things:

a) The articulate president who could not articulate a message to bring us together.  In other words, the man can speak but has little of consequence to say; and,

b) The first black president who did not understand the real problems in black communities.

His legacy will be that he left us more angry and divided than ever.

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

The Russians are coming…to Cuba?

(My new American Thinker post)

Guess what happens when you go to a ball game and legitimize a Cuban dictator? Raul Castro turns around and gives the Russians a big piece of business — the air traffic control system in the island.

This is from Sabrina Martin of the Pan Am Post:

The largest Russian manufacturer of electronic devices for civil aviation will be in charge of creating a new air traffic control system for Cuba.

The news comes days after the Cuban government refused visas to US congressmen who were traveling to the island to inspect and certify the conditions of airports before regular flights between Cuba and the United States can resume.

The Russian company Azimut signed a contract with the Cuban state company Aviaimport to transfer technology, information, and research in civil aeronautics for air traffic control on the island.

The deal includes the delivery of the source-code and the execution of tests. Likewise, the Russian company will offer training for the Cuban employees who will be in charge of the system’s operation.
The agreement between the state-owned firm and Azimut will last until June 2017 and the system is expected to be implemented in 10 international airports in Cuba.

Currently, Cuban airports use an ORACLE-based system, acquired from Canada in 2000, which officials deem outdated.

It’s worth noting that six airlines were authorized by the US government to operate 155 weekly flights for almost 20,000 passengers between five US cities and nine Cuban destinations.

This is a slap in the face to U.S. businesses who bought into the idea that the Obama-Castro deal would open new markets. At the end of the day, Raul Castro selected the Russians, and all of the potential security challenges that it brings.

He also denied visas to a U.S. House delegation that wanted to check the Cuban airport security systems. Wonder why? The decision to bring in Vlad Putin answers that question!

Russia is back in the Middle East and Cuba. We can thank Obama for that!

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

Happy # 240 to the USA

‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…..’

We remember today these words made famous in 1776.    They are specially significant for those of us who were not born here, the many “cubanitos” like me who were brought here in the 1960s.

It is the most incredible message of individual freedom and self-government ever written.     Our thanks to those men for their courage and vision.

Happy # 240 to the USA.

July 3, 1968: A super day for Luis Tiant


On this day in 1968, Luis Tiant was just awesome:  19 Ks in 10 innings as Cleveland beats Minnesota 1-0!

Tiant finished the 1968 season: 21-9, a 1.60 ERA, 264 strikeouts and 19 complete games.    Unfortunately for Tiant, Denny McLain won 31 games that year and ran away with the AL Cy Young award.

Tiant was the AL starter in the 1968 All Star game.   He pitched 2 innings and gave up the game’s only run.    The NL beat the AL, 1-0.

Tiant’s excellent pitching put the Indians in 3rd place behind Detroit in the last season before divisions.

Overall, Luis Tiant won 229 games, with a 3.30 ERA and 187 complete games.

Of course, they will never forget him in Boston for pitching in the 1975 World Series.

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

July 2, 1964 and the day we left in Cuba


My brother Joaquin, little sister Lidia and that’s me to the right.  It was our last picture in Cuba.  My brother and I were holding baseball gloves and our sister was playing with little puppies.

Our father died last December. He always had something wise to say about the day that we left Cuba.   It will be different without him this year.

July 2, 1964 was a long time ago but it is incredible how much I remember of that day.

Years later, I wrote about it in “Cubanos in Wisconsin“.

We stayed at a hotel the night before because our home had been closed by the authorities after the “inventario” or inventory.

In other words, they checked each and everyone of our household belongings to make sure that we had not moved anything between “el telegrama” or our authorization to leave and the actual departure date.

This is what what totalitarian regimes do!   They have no respect for people, specially those who disagree with them.

As I recall, it was a nice July morning in Cuba.

We took a taxi to the airport and ended up in Mexico that night.

Between eating breakfast in Havana and going to sleep in Mexico City, our plane’s landing gear did not open until the pilot made one last attempt to land, a Mexican reporter spoke to my dad about the situation in Cuba and we got a taste of tacos in Mexico.

It was one of the longest days of my life!

I will never forget this day. I can still see the look in my parents’ face when the plane left Cuba.

Most of all, I will miss my father today because he always had something to add to my memories of that fateful day that changed my life.