The Dark Reality of Cuba

Behind the tourist facade, the real hell of Castro’s Cuba that Cuban’s live in.

By Katarina Hall via Victims of Communism:

THE DARK REALITY OF CUBA’S POSTCARD FANTASY

Without ever having been to Cuba, many people think of the island as a tropical paradise. Some see it as a time machine, with old cobbled streets, colorful buildings, old forts, and antique cars from bygone eras. Others believe that its crystal clear water, soft sandy beaches, and Caribbean island vibes make for the perfect vacation destination. At least, this is the picture Cuban postcards paint. As can often be the case with advertising, the truth is much different.

While Havana’s historical center might look like the perfect tropical city, the charm wears off after a couple of blocks. Blocks of busy hotels mask the conspicuous absence of actual Cuban residents in the core. A short walk outside the inner historical center reveals that most of the buildings are only façades hiding a ruined interior.

This is a more accurate picture of Cuba: a Potemkin postcard masking the island’s abandonment, poverty, and oppression.

The warning signs start as soon as you step off of the plane: immigration checks whether you are a person the state is controlling. After leaving the airport, it only goes downhill from there. Billboards lining the streets from the airport to Havana make it obvious you are entering a socialist country. Some of them present adoring pictures of Che Guevara. Others characterize the US embargo as genocide. You see tributes to other authoritarian socialist leaders like Hugo Chavez. Every other sign proclaims the greatness of the Communist Party.

After the sideshow of communist propaganda, one finds the real Havana—the Havana of dilapidated streets and trash; the Havana of foul smells and piles of garbage resulting from the state’s lackadaisical maintenance of the once-proud city. The buildings—beautiful colonial and Art Deco relics—sit in disrepair, each crack reflecting Cuba’s growing poverty and neglect.

Then come the signs of scarcity. Food stores and supermarkets are filled with rows of empty shelves. If a lucky store happens to have something in stock, it is most likely rows and rows of the same product, such as “galletas saladas” (saltine crackers). Trying to find specific products, like mushrooms, is impossible. If you set a goal to look for a product, you might have to roam throughout the city to find it. The few stores that stock the standard products one might easily find in the United States or Guatemala (like razors!), sell them at prices most Cubans cannot afford. Most Cubans live on an average of $8 a month—the price of two piña coladas!

When you start interacting with the Cuban people you realize that the basic liberties many residents of other Caribbean islands take for granted are non-existent. Cubans are still afraid to speak about politics because of the repercussions for making politically incorrect comments. There is no right to disagree with with the government. Disparaging the Castro regime in even the most superficial way could result in years of incarceration and forced labor.

State ownership of all newspapers and radio stations disposes of any form of freedom of the press. News is strictly limited to internal affairs, with some praise of Cuba’s new financial backer, Venezuela. The international 8:00 PM news broadcast is strictly limited to Cuba’s allies—a who’s who of authoritarian states, including Venezuela, Vietnam, China, Russia, and Laos. Other than that, international news focuses heavily on shootings and other chaotic events in the United States. Censorship of books, movies, and music in the island prevents the introduction of any other outside information.

The abandonment, poverty, and oppression have impressed themselves upon the personality of many Cubans in a tragic way. It comes up in day-to-day conversations. Many Cubans lack hope for the future; they believe that no matter what they do, their lives are unlikely to improve. Many Cubans are forced to build their lives around trivial concerns: playing dominoes, chitchatting, and sitting around waiting for something—anything—to change. Their right to speak, question, and discuss important ideas has been stripped by the Communist Party of Cuba. Their property and ambition have been expropriated by the state.

Despite its picturesque setting, Cuba is a dark place: her once beautiful towns dilapidated and ruined, her once ambitious people impoverished and disenchanted, her once vibrant culture constrained and controlled. Whatever postcard reality may have existed on the island was ripped to shreds in the 50 years following the Cuban Revolution. And yet for some Cubans at least there remains hope: many are tired of the country’s political and economic backwardness. When you leave the state-run theater of the historic center, one hears whispers of change on the streets of Havana.

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Photos from Caos y Cosas and Mario Cabrera.

Exiles outshine Cuba’s Olympic teams

There’s a long list of Cuban exiles, and Cuban diaspora athletes in this year’s Olympics, and they are out performing Cuba’s Olympic teams.

Regime hack Randy Alsonso Falcón, who´s active on social media promoting solidarity with Fidel, is vexed, and calls them ex-Cubans. Does that mean Cuba will end its policy of denying U.S. citizens of Cuban descent their rights and claiming them as Cuban Nationals who have no rights in Cuba? Of course he blames the influence of money for their advantage, never mind that his paycheck comes from stolen wages and goods pilfered from his money hungry Castro slave masters who own everything in Cuba

By Frances Martel in Breitbart:

Sour Grapes in Havana as Exiles Outshine Cuba’s Olympic Team

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

As the Olympics fortnight comes to a close, Cuban government propagandists are beginning to cope with the outstanding success of Cuban exile athletes competing under another flag, and often actively disassociating from the communist regime.
Cuban-born athletes and members of the Cuban diaspora born abroad have begun to vex the communist Castro government, as primetime television smears the athletes as less worthy of their ethnic identity. Most notably is the derisive commentary of Randy Alonso Falcón, host of the primetime commentary show Mesa Redonda, who dismissed Cuban-Spanish runner Orlando Ortega Echeverría as an “ex-Cuban” for winning his silver media for Spain.

“The case of ex-Cuban Orlando Ortega and other cases of athletes have added to the controversy [at the Olympics],” Alonso claims, adding that “the growing influence of money” has clearly “damaged” the sports world. He does not elaborate on what it means to be an “ex-Cuban,” or who with Cuban roots living abroad qualifies, but a lack of loyalty to the Cuban Communist Party may qualify someone to be stripped of their ethnic identity by the television host.

Cuban athletes have surfaced to represent almost every corner of the globe during this year’s Olympics, and many are openly hostile to Cuba. Ortega was among them, apparently stroking the ire of propagandist Alonso after rejecting a Cuban flag after winning a silver medal in the Men’s 110M hurdles event. “They gave me a Cuban flag, but I wanted the Spanish one,” he told reporters. “When I get home I’m going to eat a paella.”

Speaking to reporters following his victory, which broke a long drought in track and field medals for the European nation, he repeatedly emphasized the value of his victory for Spain. “I want to thank Spain for trusting in me,” he said. “There will be many more victories for Spain, for my family, for everyone who trusted in me,” he added, notably leaving out the country of his birth.

Joining him in rejecting the potential that his victory would be used to bolster the image of the Cuban government was Yasmani Copello, a runner who secured the bronze medal in the 400M hurdles event. “This medal is for me and my new country,” the young Cuban-Turk told reporters. “I am very grateful to be Turkish…. I don’t think about Cuba.”

In an interview, Lorenzo Sotomayor, a newly-minted Azeri, echoed this sentiment. “If I were still in Cuba, I would not have come to the Olympic Games. I would be in the streets ‘struggling’ to earn a livelihood and feed my two children.” Sotomayor at press time has guaranteed Azerbaijan a place in the boxing superlightweight division semi-finals after defeating Yasnier Toledo, representing the Cuban government.

The list of Cubans representing nations far from home goes on. On team Italy, Osmany Juantorena will play in the men’s volleyball semifinals against the United States. The Italian women’s relay race will feature Cuban-born Libania Grenot. And even Qatar boasts a Cuban athlete: Rafael Da Costa Capote, a member of their handball team.

The Cuban government has not openly referred to any of these athletes with hostility, only openly attacking Ortega — who rejected the Cuban flag — and Cuban-American athletes. Ciber Cuba put together a list of Cuban athletes competing abroad, but left out all Cubans competing for the United States.

The list of Cuban-American athletes competing in Olympic history is a long one, and this year’s includes big names like gymnast Danell Leyva, judoka Angelica Delgado, and arguably the most talked-about athlete of the Games, swimming champion Ryan Lochte.

Continue reading HERE.

Caught on Tape: Cuban Woman Struck in Face for Protesting in Havana

Here’s a common sight in Cuba not included on Madonna’s state sponsored tourist tour. The beating of peaceful protesters. Caught on tape by Yusnaby Perez, a women peacefully protesting the lack of electricity is struck in the face by one of Castro’s thugs.

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Caught on Tape: Cuban Woman Struck in Face for Protesting in Havana

Click below (or here) to watch a video of a male Castro regime operative striking a woman in the face for protesting against electricity blackouts in Havana:

Translation: LOOK at this: Cuban women protesting against power outages strongly struck in the face in the middle of the street. A man allegedly a sympathizer with the Castro regime slapped the woman. She along with other neighbors placed a sign that read “Down with FIDEL, RAUL and BLACKOUTS” during more than 15 hours of electric outage.

Cuba: Crackdown on Christians see 1,600 churches targeted

More evidence of the failure of Obama’s Cuba policy, increased repressive acts against churches in Cuba.

By Carey Lodge in Christian Today:

Cuba: Crackdown on Christians sees 1,600 churches targeted

Reuters - Cuban women praying
Reuters – Cuban women praying

More than 1,600 churches have been targeted by authorities in Cuba this year as a crackdown on religious freedom continues.

According to CSW, church leaders have raised concerns that the government’s treatment of religious groups has significantly deteriorated in the last year.

Between January and July 2016, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) recorded 1,606 violations of religious freedom.

These included the demolition and confiscation of church buildings, the destruction of church property and arbitrary detention.

In March, prominent pastor and religious freedom activist Rev Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso was arrested just hours before President Barack Obama arrived in the country for his official state visit.

Religious leaders have also had their personal belongings confiscated, and more than 1,000 churches are still considered ‘illegal’ and are under threat of future confiscation.

According to CSW, church leaders have raised concerns that the government’s treatment of religious groups has significantly deteriorated in the last year.

CSW has accused the government of targeting church properties “to tighten its control over the activities and membership of religious groups and thus eliminate the potential for any social unrest.”

In its annual report on international religious freedom, the US State Department last week said the Cuban government “monitored religious groups” and “continued to control most aspects of religious life”.

“The government harassed, detained, and restricted travel for outspoken religious figures, especially those who discussed human rights or collaborated with independent human rights groups,” the report said.

“Many religious leaders stated they exercised self-censorship in what they preached and discussed during services. Some said they feared direct or indirect criticism of the government could result in government reprisals, such as denials of permits… or other measures that could limit the growth of their religious groups.”

The report also mentioned concern from some religious leaders that government tolerance for groups that relied on informal locations, such as house churches, was decreasing.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW is alarmed by the escalation of FoRB violations throughout Cuba, but humbled and inspired by the courage and perseverance of the many religious communities who continue to peacefully resist government pressure.

“We remain disappointed by the broken promises for reform on the part of the Cuban government and urge it to change course. We call on the international community and in particular the United Kingdom, European Union and the United States government to stand in solidarity with Cuban citizens by pressing the Cuban government to halt these repressive actions and ensuring that human rights, and in particular FoRB, remains a core component of any upcoming dialogues with the Cuban government.”

Reports from Cuba: Cuba’s Landscape After the Thaw

By Yoani Sanchez in Translating Cuba:

Cuba’s Landscape After the Thaw

United States and Cuban flags in the streets of Havana
United States and Cuban flags in the streets of Havana

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 15 August 2016 – The baby cries in her cradle while her mother sings to console her. Barely three months old, her name is Michelle, like Barack Obama’s wife. This little Havanan who still nurses and sleeps most of the day, came into the world after the armistice: she is a daughter of the truce between the governments of Cuba and the United States. A creature without ideological phobias or hatred on her horizon.

In the history books that Michelle and her contemporaries will read, these months after 17 December 2014 – “17-D” as Cubans have dubbed it – will remain in a few lines. In these retrospective summaries there will be optimistic tones, as if the whole island, stranded for decades on the side of the road, had set out anew from this moment, putting pedal to the metal and making up for lost time. But, for many, living through the reconciliation is less historic and grandiloquent than was playing a starring role in a battle.

A process that, one day, analysts will compare with the fall of the Berlin Wall and perhaps define with high-sounding names like the end of the sugar curtain, the death of the Revolution or the moment when peace broke out, is losing brightness now, faced with the daily exhaustion. Indeed, the truce quieted the noise of the slogans and has allowed us to hear the persistent hum of the shortages and the lack of freedom.

The day when the presidents of Cuba and the United States announced the beginning of the normalization of relations has been left somewhere in the past. It will be a reference for historians and analysts, but it means little to those who are facing a whether decision to spend the rest of their lives waiting for “this to be fixed” or to choose to escape to any other corner of the world.

17-D has increased apprehensions about the end of the Cuban Adjustment Act. The number of Cubans who, since then, have crossed the United States border has shot up, with 84,468 arriving by land or air while another 10,248 have tried to cross the sea. The popular ironic phrase of the latter for leaving the island –“turning off El Morro,” a reference to Havana’s iconic lighthouse at the entrance to the bay – dramatically foreshadows those numbers.

Why not stay in the country if the thaw promises a better life or at least a more fluid and profitable relationship with the United States? Because 17-D arrived too late for many, including several generations of who had to face off against our neighbor to the north, shouting anti-imperialist slogans for most of their lives and abetting the commander-in-chief in his personal battle against the White House. They don’t trust promises, because they have seen many positive prognostications that survived only on paper and in the mystique of a speech, lacking any impact on their dinner tables or their wallets.

After a prolonged skirmish lasting over half a century and eleven US administrations and two Cuban presidents with the same surname, the nation is exhausted. The adrenaline of the battle has given way to dreariness and a question that finds it way into the minds of millions of Cubans: Was it all for this?

It is difficult to convince people that the confiscations of US companies, the diplomatic insults, becoming the Soviet Union’s concubine, and the many caricatures ridiculing Nixon, Carter, Reagan and Bush were all worth it, even with all the official propaganda that controls every one of the county’s newspapers, radio stations and TV channels.

The American flag raised at the US Embassy in Havana just one year ago, on 14 August 2015, put a final end to an era of trenches and to the eternal soldier: the Cuban government with its still hot Kalashnikov and a marked inability to live in peace. It is prepared for confrontation but its ineffectiveness is clearly evident in times of armistice. In his convalescent retirement, Fidel Castro noted how the country he molded in his image and likeness was out of his hands. The man who controlled every detail of Cubans’ lives cannot influence how he will be remembered. Some rush to deify him; others sharpen their arguments to dismantle his myth; while the great majority simply forget he’s alive: he is buried while still breathing.

Children born since 31 July 2006, when the illness of the “Maximum Leader” was announced, have only seen the president in photos and archival materials. They are the ones who don’t have to declaim incendiary versus before him in some patriotic act, nor be a part of the social experiments that emerged from the gray matter under his olive-green cap. They live in the post-Fidel era, which does not mean they are entirely freed from his influence.

For decades to come, the schism created by the authoritarian leadership of this son of Galicia, born in the eastern town of Birán, will divide Cubans and even families. The aftermath of this tension that has infiltrated the national identity, otherwise lighthearted, will last for a long time. There will be a before-and-after Castro for the followers of the creed of political obstinacy he cultivated, but also for those who will breathe a sigh of relief when he is no longer.

The Maximum Leader’s 90th birthday, celebrated this August 13 with cheers and a good dose of personality cult, has all the earmarks of being his farewell. Now his closest family members should be exploring the calendar to select a date to announce his funeral, because such a huge death won’t fit just any date. They will have to pick a day that is not associated with the memory of some offensive in which he participated, a project that he opened, or some lengthy speech that hypnotized his audience.

There will be no need, in any case, to disconnect the machines or to stop administering medications. To say the final goodbye, it will be enough to give him his measure as a human being. Forget all those epithets that extolled him as “father of all Cubans,” “visionary,” or “promoter of medicine” on the island, along with “model journalist,” initiator of the “water-saving policy”, “eternal guerrilla,” “master builder,” and a long list of other grandiloquent titles that have been repeated in the days before his birthday.

Fidel Castro and Michelle, the little baby born after the visit of Barack Obama to the island, will be together in the history books. He will remain trapped in the volume dedicated to the twentieth century, although he has made every effort to put his name on each page dedicated to this nation. She will star, along with millions of other Cubans, in a chapter without bloody diplomatic battles or sterile confrontations.

Ted Cruz: U.S. Must Stand With Opponents of Cuba’s Tyranny

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Ted Cruz: U.S. Must Stand With Opponents of Cuba’s Tyranny

By U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in The Miami Herald:

U.S. must stand with the opponents of Castros’ ongoing tyranny

I had the honor recently to meet with Cuban dissident Oscar Biscet, who was visiting the United States to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom that President George W. Bush had awarded him in 2007. Then serving a 25-year prison sentence for promoting human rights in Cuba, Dr. Biscet originally had to accept the award in absentia. But following his 2011 release, he was here in person.

I asked Dr. Biscet if his ability to leave the island was emblematic of political liberalization after normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States just over a year ago. Smiling, this man who has endured savage torture by Raúl and Fidel Castro’s police state said No. There was no liberalization. The Castros were just trying to appear reasonable so they could get the most money possible out of tourists coming to the island.

Didn’t Americans understand, he asked in genuine amazement, that their dollars were going to enrich the Communist regime? The answer is, once again, No. American tourists and industries are tripping over themselves to visit Cuba and project themselves onto a 1950s movie set, all while imagining their commerce trickles down to the Cuban people.

In 2013, I heard similar words from Guillermo Fariñas, a former soldier for Castro who had come to see Communism for the oppression that it is. Fariñas traveled to Brussels to receive the Andrei Sakharov Prize for his brave opposition to the Castros. But his leaving Cuba was not a sign of progress. Rather, he called it a ploy by the Castros to get American money while retaining political power. He said they were employing Putinismo — trying to imitate Putin.

Press reports this July confirmed the unchanged and grim state of affairs in Cuba. Fariñas began his 24th hunger strike to protest the vicious beating from Castros’ goons merely because he inquired after a colleague arbitrarily detained. Fariñas is asking the regime “to commit to ending the escalation in violence against peaceful opposition and to stop the beatings, death threats, prosecutions for false crimes and that they stop confiscating their personal property.”

But rather than accede to this simple request, the Castros have let him starve for two weeks. Some island paradise.

The fact is that a bad situation is getting worse, not better. The Obama administration encourages a dangerous delusion about conditions in Cuba, which perpetuates the status quo. Fariñas’ plight is a physical manifestation of the ugly reality that the Castros are enemies of everything the United States represents.

We must face this reality. By ignoring it we not only are turning our backs on a brave man, the Obama administration’s increased coordination with the Cuban regime also places the United States at risk. For example:

? Immigration: Visa-less immigration from Cuba has increased 80 percent in the year since the Obama administration announced normalized relations, the majority of immigration through Laredo, Texas. Government benefits for these immigrants will cost the taxpayers $2.45 billion over the next decade. There are also disturbing reports that migrants from Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries use black-market visas to Cuba to gain access to the United States.

? Aviation: The administration’s easing of the travel embargo raises concerns that Cuba’s airports may not have adequate security procedures in place to ensure that Americans are safe from potential terrorist attacks. While six U.S. airlines have been granted licenses to fly directly to nine Cuban airports, only seven meet the minimum security standards.

? Counter-narcotics cooperation: In July, the Obama administration signed a counter-narcotics arrangement with Cuba, which creates information-sharing between our two countries against illegal drug trafficking. These blanket assurances to cooperate are hardly assuring, especially considering Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s statement that Cuba is an intelligence threat to America, on par with Iran. There is also concern that the Castros will use information gleaned from their cooperation to service Venezuela’s anti-American policies.

? Military-to-military cooperation: The administration precipitously invited Cuba to participate in the Caribbean Nations Security Conference in January, despite Cuba’s long history as a State Sponsor of Terrorism and participation in illicit arms trafficking with enemy nations such as North Korea. This “cooperation” with an overtly hostile country makes the U.S. military vulnerable to Cuban espionage. To credit Cuba’s return of our Hellfire missile in February as progress betrays a precarious naïveté. Since the Obama administration has ceded its diplomatic and economic leverage against the Castros, the United States may not be so lucky the next time American military hardware suspiciously appears in Havana.

It would be nice to imagine that introducing capitalism to Cuba would create political liberalization, but failed attempts from China to Iran suggest this will not be the case. And absent this liberalization, increased cooperation with Cuba poses an intolerable security threat to the United States.

When Congress returns in September, I hope my colleagues will join me in insisting on proper oversight of the dangers posed by the Obama administration’s misguided rapprochement with the Castros. Congress can present a united front in opposing any nominees to be ambassador to Cuba and any funding for embassy construction in Havana until Cuba addresses basic human-rights issues.

It is the very least we can do to assure Oscar Biscet, Guillermo Fariñas and others that some in America still stand with them, and not with the Castro regime that continues to oppress them.

Reports from Cuba: Intense Rains Give Evidence of the “Wonder” of Havana

By Ivan García in Translating Cuba:

Intense Rains Give Evidence of the “Wonder” of Havana

Ciudad-Maravilla-bajo-la-lluvia-_ab-620x330

Beneath the rain, Havana received the title of Wonder City of the Modern World. Photo by Elio Delgado Valdés, taken from Havana Times.

Iván García, 9 June 2016 — Ask Luis Carlos Rodríguez, retired, his opinion about the designation of “Wonder City” based on an Internet survey conducted in the winter of 2014 by the Swiss foundation, “New 7 Wonders,” and you will hear a long list of complaints, sprinkled with insults, about the olive-green government that has governed the destiny of Cuba since January 1959.

The old man lives in a quarter where the wastewater runs through the cracked central corridor, a little more than half a kilometer from the area of colonial Havana, which wears makeup for the photos of dazzled tourists.

The rainy season has become a calvary for the residents of Havana who live in the low zones, where the housing is in poor shape, or in any of the 80 unhealthy neighborhoods that proliferate in the capital.

In a hot, windowless room with a half-dozen plastic buckets and junk, Luis Carlos tries to trap the drops of water that filter through the corrugated roof.

“On days of pouring rain, I pray to the Lord that the room doesn’t fall down on me. I’ve already sealed the roof twice, but it continues to leak,” he says, and with the help of a nephew, he tries to patch a hole.

When the rain pours down in Havana, the people who live in dilapidated housing or on streets that are close to the coast, become sailors, bailing out water inside their homes or escaping to safe places in precarious boats.

On Tuesday, June 7, at 7:30 in the evening, while Richard Weber, the President of the New7Wonders Foundation was unveiling the Wonder City plaque on the Esplanada de La Punta, a stone’s throw from the Malecón, Reinaldo Savón’s family was loading its furniture and electrical appliances into a horse-drawn cart, with water skirting the middle of San Ramón, a neighborhood that suffers like no other from the rainy periods, for lack of an adequate infrastructure of drainage.

“I don’t know which wonder city those bastards awarded. I invite them to come live in San Ramón on days like these. After they see how peoples’ houses are flooded and how they lose their things, they will change their opinion. No one thinks about this part of Havana. It’s been more than 20 years since the Government promised us a solution, but everything stays the same, only promises,” Reinaldo says.

The Office of the City Historian, directed by Eusebio Leal, a regime official, who managed to save various valuable buildings in Old Havana from disaster, prepared a free cultural program. From June 7-11, you could enjoy, among other things, performances of the Teatro Lírico, the Ballet Folklórico, the Tropicana Cabaret, the Ballet Lizt Alfonso, a parade of singers, musicians and dancers on the Paseo del Prado, and a concert by the Orquesta Aragón on the corner of Prado and Neptuno.

But Havanans like Lourdes Pérez, a resident of a marginal neighborhood adjacent to the José Antonio Echevarría Technological University, in the Marianao municipality, isn’t much for parties.

Four years ago, Lourdes came to the capital from Santiago de Cuba with her three children and her husband in search of better luck. He sells corn tamales and clothing from Ecuador, and she takes care of elderly sick people.

Legally, Lourdes and her family are clandestine in Havana. They don’t have a ration book, and their hut, with a dirt floor and an aluminum roof, doesn’t have a bathroom or drinking water. They live poorly, eat little and drink cheap alcohol.

“We don’t have anything more. When we get a few pesos, they go for food and rum. The money isn’t enough to build a decent house. We barely survive with what we earn,” says Lourdes’ husband, who spends time gathering raw materials in the dump on Calle 100, west of the city.

Since December 17, 2014, after the truce with the United States, the old Cold-War enemy, Cuba, and especially Havana, has received a stream of famous visitors, investment projects, a runway of Chanel fashions, Hollywood filmings and even a mega-concert by the Rolling Stones.

Press passes are everywhere, but the benefits are invisible to the average citizen. The shortages sting like a whip; the infrastructure of the city is Fourth World; garbage is piling up in the neighborhoods; thousands of buildings threaten to collapse; public transport is chaotic, and finding something to eat continues to be the main preoccupation, not only for people in Havana but for all Cubans.

Orestes Ruiz, an engineer, can’t believe that Havana is a wonder city. “Too many shortages. Anyone who has traveled abroad will see that even the cities of Third World nations, to which they should compare us, have more hygiene, better Internet connection and more efficient public services.”

Nadine López, a university student, considers that it has to do with the excess of news in the international media, or it’s an operation of marketing or simply a joke in poor taste.

“You have to have a lot of imagination to reward Havana as a wonder city. I don’t know why there’s so much celebration. For those of us who live here it’s more of an offense than a recompense,” she says, while the rain dies down in a doorway on the Calzada Diez de Octubre.

Although the leaders promise a “prosperous and sustainable socialism,” and the media focus continues extolling Havana, a large segment of those who live in José Martí’s small fatherland wait for more palpable changes that will improve the quality of their lives.

For now, all that remains is soft music in the background. And press credentials.

Hispanopost, June 9, 2016

Translated by Regina Anavy

Castro Regime’s “Openness” to the World Includes Censuring Non-Communist Ideas

Welcome to Cuba, no subversion allowed. So remove those rose colored glasses and shake off Obama´s Cuba policy fairy dust of magic Americans spreading democracy in Cuba through people to people contacts. It ain’t happening folks.

Sabrina Martín in PanAm Post:

Aduana de Cuba redobla fuerzas contra el narcotráfico y la introducción de "literatura contrarrevolucionaria"
Aduana de Cuba redobla fuerzas contra el narcotráfico y la introducción de “literatura contrarrevolucionaria”

Castro Regime’s “Openness” to the World Includes Censuring Non-Communist Ideas

Customs authorities have reportedly doubled efforts to fight drug trafficking and the smuggling of “counterrevolutionary” literature to the island.

Through May, customs agents captured six kilograms of cocaine, seven kilograms of marijuana and stopped a total of 41 attempts to smuggle narcotics. Thirty-one of these were for personal use and 10 looked to be for traffic.

The border agency also said it neutralized over 800 infractions in security lines, mentioning among the infractions the entry to the country of “literature with subversive content directed to counterrevolution”.

According to Cuban press, the deputy Director of the Republic’s General Customs (AGRC), Moraima Rodríguez, pointed out the attempts were neutralized, thanks to the skill of personel in the terminals and high tech equipment, like x rays and the advance information for risk detection technique.

Infractions included attempts to introduce devices, satellite equipment, weapons, brass knuckles, bow with arrows, rifles and handguns to the country, among other things.

“After a raise in the flow of international travelers, freight and the rise of containers in international transit, customs has created the necessary conditions for direct communication of information exchange and operational cooperation in real time with other countries,” officials said.

Sources: Cibercuba

Aduana de Cuba redobla fuerzas contra el narcotráfico y la introducción de "literatura contrarrevolucionaria
CiberCuba Noticias

Who will sell Cuban coffee to Nestle?

Obama’s policy of empowering the Cuban entrepreneur smacks into Castro’s wall of control, or we told you so number 9,680 . . . there is no legal private sector in Cuba.

Pedro Campos in Diario de Cuba:


Cuban farmers can’t sell coffee to the US, but the Government can

Castro coffee beans
Castro coffee beans

There’s nothing new under the Cuban sky. It was recently announced that Cuba’s National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) had rejected, “on behalf of Cuban coffee farmers” the possibility of selling their coffee directly to the US, in response to the Americans’ announcement of their willingness to include coffee in purchases to be made from Cuba, provided that they came directly from producers, without State intervention.

Now we have learned that Nestle will export coffee produced in Cuba, which will be available for Nespresso machines, in coffee capsules dubbed “Cuban Nespresso” or “Cafecito de Cuba” starting next September/October.

So, who will sell the Cuban coffee to Nestlé? The news story does not mention it, but could there be any doubt? The only party that can authorize itself to: the Cuban government.

The Government-Party State never fails to remind us, every day, of its totalitarian, monopolistic and semi-feudal character. It turns out that it grants itself the right to sell to the US, through Nestle, the coffee that it buys from farmers, via its monopoly, but farmers are not permitted to do so, as this would be supporting “imperialist policy.”

If the consequences were not so tragic for the coffee farmers, and the Cuban people, the lack of scruples, hypocrisy and double standards the Government demonstrates in its trade relations with the US would be laughable, as would be how it exploits Cubans’ work as an intermediary – whether they are doctors, tourism workers, sugar producers, tobacco farmers, or coffee farmers – and sells it to the highest bidder, ignoring Che’s maxim, which they like to cite, but not to apply to themselves: “don´t give imperialism a thing.”

If US money is to buy coffee directly from producers … it’s ‘dirty money;’ but if it’s to line government coffers … it’s clean. If it’s to help the opposition … it’s laden with foul intentions; if it’s for the Government … it’s appreciated. How long will this double-talk and these double standards, criticized in others, prevail?

But it must be noted that this monopoly also applies to the domestic economy, where the State controls virtually all industrial production (what remains of it), the vast majority of services, and also seeks to control all agricultural production, functioning as the sole intermediary between producers and consumers, with imposed procurement costs, and without taking into account the interests of direct producers and sale prices, decided in CUC for the State’s benefit.

This is nothing new in Cuban history, either. The Spanish Crown, the feudal and colonial government that conquered Cuba, wiped out almost all its natives and brought over thousands of Africans to exploit them as slaves, did the same thing, and not only with official tobacco shops, or estancos de tabaco – a system barring Cubans from selling their tobacco to anyone but the Spanish government – but with all foreign trade.

These were and are feudal policies. Hence, many have not hesitated to identify so-called “State socialism” as a new form of feudalism, precisely because of the absolute role assigned to the State, and its rulers’ unlimited authority and lifetime terms in power.

Thus, in that dark era, the Government went after Cubans who sold their spirits and cattle to “buccaneers” – merchants in the Caribbean region who smuggled Cuban products, in high demand, to the US and other countries.

It was precisely this monopolistic policy that sparked a revolt by vegueros (farmers) in the early 18th century, Cuba’s first independent mass military action against the Spanish Crown.

Today Cuba’s Government-Party-State (Cuban because it´s in Cuba, not because it defends the interests of the Cuban people), not only boasts a monopoly on tobacco, coffee, sugar and sugar cane byproducts, but over the whole economy. This is precisely one of the root causes of the disaster wrought in Cuba: an eternally authoritarian and populist Government that functions like a set of feudal lords, invoking a kind of socialism that has ever even existed.

The model of the centralized state once again reveals that it has nothing to do with socialism, freedom, or democracy, and that its sole objective is to preserve the power of its elites.

Sen. Marco Rubio lashes out at Obama over repression in Cuba

“I call on President Obama to demand that the Cuban tyrant he sat next to at a baseball game looking like they were having the time of their lives, immediately release the Cuban democracy activist who sat next to me in my office discussing a way forward in Cuba out of its ongoing misery.”

Sarah Rumpf in The Capitolist:


Cuban activist jailed by Castro regime a week after visiting Rubio

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Sen. Marco Rubio had harsh words for the Obama administration after Carlos Amel Oliva Torres, a Cuban activist, was jailed by the Castro regime a week after he visited the Senator in Washington, D.C.

According to a report by Diario de Cuba, Oliva returned to Cuba on June 30 and was arrested by the regime’s secret police as he traveled from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, where he was to attend a youth conference. Hundreds of other activists were also arrested so far this weekend for protesting Oliva’s imprisonment.
In the statement Rubio released on Sunday, he condemned President Barack Obama for being willing to sit next to Cuban President Raul Castro at a baseball game while failing to act on behalf of Oliva, who had sat next to him in his Senate office just a week ago:

Carlos Amel is a young Cuban democracy activist who sat right next to me during a visit to my Washington office last week, but now he sits in a Cuban jail as a prisoner of conscience. Over a year and a half into President Obama’s Cuba policy and billions of dollars worth of concessions later, human rights and political freedom have gotten worse, not better. President Obama had no problem sitting next to Raul Castro at a baseball game or serving as his personal lobbyist to bring American businesses to Cuba. I call on President Obama to demand that the Cuban tyrant he sat next to at a baseball game looking like they were having the time of their lives, immediately release the Cuban democracy activist who sat next to me in my office discussing a way forward in Cuba out of its ongoing misery.
Oliva’s whereabouts remain unknown, according to Capitol Hill Cubans, who also reported on the arrest of dissidents protesting Oliva’s imprisonment.

Continue reading HERE.

Over 100 Cuban Dissidents Arrested

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Over 100 Cuban Dissidents Arrested Demanding Release of Youth Leader

Over 100 Cuban dissidents were arrested yesterday as they protested in the eastern provinces for the release of youth leader, Carlos Amel Oliva.

Amel Oliva, of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU), arrived in Havana on Thursday, June 30th, from a visit to Washington, D.C.

The car he was traveling in was intercepted by Castro’s secret police, as it made its way from Havana to Santiago de Cuba.

His whereabouts remain unknown.

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Cuban activist released under Obama-Castro deal is back in jail after overseas trip

Marc Masferrer in Uncommon Sense:

Cuban activist released under Obama-Castro deal is back in jail after overseas trip

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Cuban human rights activist Rolando Reyes Rabanal, who was one of 53 political prisoners released after the U.S. and Cuba re-established diplomatic relations in December 2014, was arrested Saturday after returning from a visit to Colombia.

Reyes was one of three activists with Foro por Derechos y Libertades (ForoDyL) who attended a human rights event in Bogota, and he was the only one detained upon his return to Havana, according to MartiNoticias.com. (Another five activists had been blocked from attending the conference.)

Reyes was detained by immigration officials at the Havana airport, before he was turned over to State Security.

“It looks like he has been accused of ‘public disorder,’ but we don’t have confirmation because they haven’t explained where he is being held or why,” said Antonio Rodiles, who heads ForoDyL.

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Me informan que Rolando Reyes Rabanal fue detenido en el aeropuerto de La Habana por ‘desorden público’. Es redículo. Yo había pasado unos dias junto con él en un curso de DD.HH en Bogotá y pocas veces en mi vida he conocido una persona tan pacífico y tan difícil de provocar. ¡Que le dejen en libertan ya! ?#?FreeRRR?

Since his release after President Barack Obama and dictator Raul Castro struck their deal, Reyes has been arrested numerous times because of his participation in the #TodosMarchamos campaign, which has been spearheaded by Foro DyL and the Damas De Blanco (“Ladies In White”).

Rodiles said the dictatorship has recently increased its repression against members of the Foro DyL and other activists in the #TodosMarchamos campaign.

A legacy of truth – The Professor Juan M. Clark Foundation

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The lies of Castro, brilliantly manipulated into myth through a complacent enamored media and international glitterati, became the de facto truth of, and propaganda cover for the Castro revolution, now the longest surviving dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere.

The late great Juan M. Clark, PhD, Bay of Pigs veteran, former political prisoner, and eternal fighter for the restitution of democracy in his homeland, Cuba, dedicated his life to exposing those lies and dismantling the myths of the revolution. The result of his work is the 1990 publication of Cuba, mito y realidad: Testimonios de un pueblo, wherein he chronicled the myths and realities of life in Cuba through the personal stories of Cuban experts and eye-witnesses to the history, the Cuban people. Cuba: Mito y Realidad was the product of some 20 years of work compiling and analyzing data. Even before its publication in 1990 Professor Juan Clark was aware of the importance of producing an English version that could reach the average reader in the United States and beyond. He worked incessantly (another 20 years) and under immense constraints toward producing the English version. His passing took place in the midst of that endeavor.

Professor Clark’s friend, Germán Miret, was able to publish the books, and as editor he noted, “Dr. Clark is no longer with us—he died on February 27, 2013—but he left us this treasure of information as his legacy to the Cuban people and the world”. He very graciously sent me the books, and provided information for this post. Thank you Germán.

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Professor Juan Clark’s “Castro’s Revolution, Myth and Reality” is an updated and augmented version in English of his work in Spanish “Cuba: Mito y Realidad”. This publication, fills a vacuum on the literature on Cuba.

Clark’s work is the most comprehensive and detailed analysis of how the Cuban tragedy came to be, the terrible cost it wrought on Cuba, and the lessons it holds for future generations in Cuba and elsewhere. Incredibly, even after 57 years of a one-family tyrannical rule, the Cuban experiment still fascinates population segments in the United States and other countries. Juan Clark’s masterpiece is a strong foundation to challenge the myths on which support for the Castros is based.

While Cuba: Mito y Realidad was a one volume book of some 700 pages, Clark’s work in English is being published in two volumes with over 1,300 pages in total. Available HERE, and HERE respectively.

The price for each volume is $23.00 and there will be a charge to cover the cost of mailing. Createspace is the printing house and distributor for Amazon and the best way to obtain them.

A foundation, the Professor Juan M. Clark Foundation, Inc. was established to distribute these books free of charge – with the proceeds from the sale of the book – to universities, libraries, other institutions of learning; members of Congress, policymakers and opinion builders.

Cubans say that nobody will understand what living in Cuba today entails unless “you experience it”. These books will give you, the reader, a clearer idea of what living in Cuba was during the first year of Castro’s revolution and then through the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and the beginning of the XXI century.

It will also give you a rare insight into Fidel Castro’s personality and behavior; this, through numerous interviews with people who know him well and shared with the author stories never before published. It will be an eye opener that will let you know who the real Fidel Castro is.

The foundation ensures Dr. Juan Clark’s work will continue as his legacy. Please consider a direct donation to The Juan M. Clark Foundation, P.O. Box 5666914, Miami, Fl. 33256-6691. Thank you.

H/T: With thanks to my dear friend Fernando Marquet.

What is Cuba’s Public Health Minister doing on Capitol Hill?

Considering the inferior healthcare provided to Cuban citizens, with poorly trained doctors, and lack of medicine and equipment what besides anti-embarbo propaganda can this Cuban official offer?

Jason Poblete via Washington Examiner:

Cuban Public Health Minister Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda met with lawmakers and staff 10 a.m. in the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
Cuban Public Health Minister Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda met with lawmakers and staff 10 a.m. in the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)


Cuba’s top health official holds Capitol Hill briefing

Members of the House Diabetes Caucus were invited to talk about the condition with top Cuban health and biotechnology officials Wednesday morning, which is raising questions about why the meeting was being held, and whether the meeting is really aimed at preparing the ground for lifting the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

Cuban Public Health Minister Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda met with lawmakers and staff 10 a.m. in the U.S. Capitol. The invitation came from Engage Cuba, whose director James Williams takes credit for leading an “under-the-radar” $3 million national campaign to convince the Obama administration to reform U.S.-Cuba relations, according to his bio on engagecuba.org.

Williams has not registered to lobby on Cuba matters and has not returned several inquiries from the Washington Examiner questioning his rationale for avoiding lobbying transparency laws.

Late last month, the White House hosted a private meeting to promote commerce with Cuba that was organized by Engage Cuba and was kept off of public schedules.

The invitation for Wednesday’s meeting, which was sent to members of the Diabetes Caucus, says the “diplomatic breakthrough between the U.S. and Cuba has opened opportunities for our countries to begin cooperating on public health and scientific advances that can help millions in the United States, including 29.3 million Americans who suffer from diabetes.”

But Jason Poblete, a Cuban-American attorney who represents several clients with property claims in Cuba, said the over-arching goal of Engage Cuba is to lift Congress’ trade embargo on the island nation. Poblete said Wednesday’s forum with Cuba’s top health official is aimed at that larger purpose.

“I suspect this is part of that larger lobbying effort to further erode support for U.S. economic sanctions [on] the regime,” he wrote on his Facebook page in a letter addressed to colleagues who follow the U.S.-Cuba relationship.

He also said Ojeda is likely “complicit” in human rights abuses in Cuba and will be “pushing the miracles of Cuban biotech, a sector that not too long ago came under (credible) suspicion of engaging in unlawful biotechnology work including bio-terror weapons research with other enemies of the U.S.”

Poblete urged briefing attendees to ask six questions:

1. Does Cuba collaborate with Iranian or North Korean scientists?

2. Are Cuban biotech labs sitting on properties that were stolen from Americans?

3. Are Cuban labs/procedures up to the safety standards required under U.S. laws and regulations required for allowing imports of foreign medicines?

4. Have Cuban biotech products ever been tested on political prisoners? (Poblete says they have.)

5. Why are Cuban healthcare professionals leaving Cuba in record numbers?

6. Why is the Cuban military involved in this work if it is, as [Poblete suspects] they will say, a purely civilian project?

Continue Reading HERE.