A lifetime of MSM reporting Cuba fake news

It cannot be reported to often just how in bed with the dictator the MSM has been since the moment he first appeared on the scene.

Good article by Mona Charen in National Review:

The Media Has Been Reporting Fake News about Castro and Cuba for Years

While the media melts down over “fake news,” Castro’s death generates more of it.

A panic is sweeping the land — or at least something like it has unnerved CNN, Vox, and other precincts of progressive sensibility. They are alarmed that millions of Americans are being misled by “fake news.”

As someone whose inbox has lately bulged with items about Hillary Clinton’s impending demise due to a concealed, terminal illness; who has shaken her head at “breaking news” that Turkish coup plotters had gotten their hands on NATO nuclear weapons at Incirlik air base; and who has sighed at the endless iterations of stories like the “47 Clinton friends who mysteriously turned up dead,” I don’t deny that misinformation, disinformation, rumors, and malicious gossip appear to have achieved new salience in the national conversation. I shun right-leaning publications and sites that traffic in this sort of drivel.

You know there’s a “but” coming, and here it is: The death of Fidel Castro reminds us that the respectable press, the “two-sources” press, the press that enforces standards and performs reality checks and practices “shoe leather” journalism and all that, has been peddling “fake news” about Cuba and Castro for 60 years.

The mainstream press has been soft on Fidel since he first grabbed a pistol and started granting interviews to credulous reporters in the Sierra Maestra. The joke that made the rounds in 1980s was that Castro could have been featured in one of those ads boasting “I got my job through the New York Times!” Starting in 1957, Times reporter Herbert Matthews visited with the rebel leader and published accounts of his selfless commitment to “his” people. “Power does not interest me,” Castro told Matthews. “After victory I want to go back to my village and just be a lawyer again.”

The evidence of Castro’s monstrousness was available more or less immediately after his victory. Battista’s supporters were shot en masse — some in a carnival atmosphere in front of stadiums of people making the thumbs down gesture. Former revolutionary allies were next to mount the scaffold for the modern equivalent of the guillotine. Independent newspapers were closed. Unions were forbidden to strike. Religious colleges were closed and priests were forced into exile (they had plenty of company). Those who resisted the regime were arrested, denied medical care, and sometimes tortured. Their families were harassed. Castro promised free elections within 18 months. That was 708 months ago. Cubans are still waiting.

The New York Times and other liberal outlets entered a profound senescence where Cuba was concerned. Stories about neighborhood spies, beatings and jailings of the Ladies in White, shortages of all basic commodities (yes, even sugar and cigars), forced labor, and the rest of the miseries that a despotic government can inflict were hard to find. You discovered them mostly in right-leaning journals, or in human rights watchdog publications, or in memoirs like Armando Valladares’s wrenching account of 22 years in Castro’s prisons, Against All Hope (one of the most harrowing prison memoirs of the 20th century).

A sin of omission, you may say. Yes, but there was the other piece — the diligent myth tending. As Jay Nordlinger, National Review’s indefatigable voice for the oppressed, has pointed out again and again, the myth of Cuba’s wonderful, free, universal health care system Will Not Die. President Obama lauded it. Michael Moore beatified it. Bernie Sanders cited it to shame the United States by comparison!

What can you say to people with such a profound need to believe? Their faith is religious in nature and accordingly very resistant to logic or argument. Again, to cite Jay Nordlinger: There are actually three health services in Cuba. There is one for tourists, featuring state of the art equipment. There is a second for high-ranking communists, the military, approved artists, and so forth. This too is a good system. And then there is the squalid, dirty, understaffed, massively under-equipped medical system that ordinary Cubans (the vast majority) must endure. In the third system, overworked doctors re-use latex gloves, antibiotics are scarce, and patients must “bring their own bed sheets, soap, towels, food, light bulbs — even toilet paper.”

A 2014 report from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting found that in Cuban hospitals “the floors are stained and surgeries and wards are not disinfected. Doors do not have locks and their frames are coming off. Some bathrooms have no toilets or sinks, and the water supply is erratic. Bat droppings, cockroaches, mosquitoes and mice are all in evidence.”

And yet, even such an august publication as The Atlantic (I say that sincerely) published a piece after Castro’s death titled “How Cubans Live as Long as Americans at a Tenth of the Cost.” You can call it invincible ignorance. You can call it journalistic malpractice. You can even call it “fake news.”

Foto:  DailyMail
Foto: DailyMail

Biscet: “El momento es perfecto”

Dear brave Dr. Biscet, this self-sacrificing warrior, along with other opposition members in Cuba, they are why, after thirteen years Babalu is still here with our prayers, hopes, and dreams of a free Cuba. This is the answer to the besotted mourning left, and the hateful bigots who believe that Cubans are happy, smiling, dancing, and content living in poverty with their so-called free education, healthcare, and no rights. They can all go to hell with fidel.

Vladimir Turró Páez in CubaNet:
(Very roughly translated)


Biscet: “No le vamos a dar ni un ápice de tregua a la dictadura”

El opositor cubano dice que “el momento es perfecto”

héroe cubano
héroe cubano

HAVANA, Cuba-in the middle of the funeral procession of the ex Cuban ruler Fidel Castro Ruz, the Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Oscar Elías Biscet, met with Union Party for Cuba Libre (PUNCLI) activists Wednesday in a park in the Vedado section of the capital Havana.

“We are not going to give an iota of truce to the dictatorship, it is the perfect time to overthrow them and achieve the freedom of the Cuban people,” said Biscet.

At the meeting, they discussed with those present positions to face the new stage of fight with the goal of achieving democracy in Cuba.

“Dios está de nuestro lado. Ya salimos de uno, y al otro, a Raúl, le vamos arrebatar el poder muy pronto”

During the gathering, there were numerous people parked in the surrounding area to listen to the debate. They also gave them Emilia Project ballots.

“The most important thing is to continue to work as we are doing, and conquer these public spaces, to remove the peoples fear, join together to achieve a regime change in Cuba”, said Biscet.

Carlos Manuel Pupo Rodriguez, national coordinator of the PUNCLI, said to CubaNet that the meeting was very fruitful, addressing important issues and ideas made to put an end to the Cuban system.

“We have to take advantage of the circumstances, it is the time to join forces to put an end to the Castro’s dictatorial political system, we have already suffered enough repression over 57 years,” Pupo said.

Rosa Aviles, another participant, claimed that the women’s faction within the Emilia Project has launched several ideas, stressing that they will be soon put into practice.

“We women of the project are growing and all together will put the end to the Castro Government, now that one has already left, we are closer to freedom”.

Opponents also complained about the Cuban Government imposing mandatory mourning on Cubans, subjecting them to a dry law with the prohibition of sales of alcoholic drinks, and by not allowing them to listen to music over nine days.

“Mourning must take it who feel it, and yet Cubans have it imposed on us as a coup of repression”, said Elías González, activist of the PUNCLI. “El luto debe llevarlo quien lo sienta, y sin embargo a los cubanos nos lo han impuesto a golpe de represión”

Read more in Spanish HERE.

Read about the Emilia Project at Dr. Biscet’s website HERE.

Liberal Media Out of Touch with Cubans

Seriously, understatement of the last century at least. (Note: I left the qualifier exiles out of the title because I firmly believe that the majority of Cubans on the island and off agree in their opinion of the thankfully dead dictator and the repressive dictatorship ruling Cuba.)

Via Accuracy in Media, a recap of media response to the dictators death:


Liberal Media Out of Touch with Cubans as Cuban Exiles Celebrate the End of Dictator Fidel Castro

little-havana-celebrates-fidel-castros-death-carlos-frias-twitter

by Spencer Irvine

The liberal media seemingly mourned the passing of the communist dictator Fidel Castro over the past week, which painted a stark contrast to the celebrations of Cuban exiles in Little Havana, a Cuban exile community in Miami, Florida. Headlines such as “World leaders bid farewell to Fidel Castro” (USA Today) and “From a parade of reign leaders, a glowing farewell to Fidel Castro” (Washington Post) do not match the sentiments of Cuban exiles, rejoicing at the end of Cuba’s longtime dictator.

Here are the headlines of the celebrations of Cuban exiles and their families in Little Havana:

Bloomberg: “In Miami’s Little Havana, Castro’s death sparks celebration”
CBS News: “Fidel Castro’s death celebrated in Little Havana: ‘Satan, Fidel is now yours’”
Chicago Tribune: “Little Havana erupts in joy on news of Castro’s death: ‘Cuba si! Castro no!’”
CNN: “Crowds flood streets of Miami’s Little Havana to cheer Castro’s death”
NBC 6 (local): “Little Havana ice cream shop sells ‘Burn in Hell Fidel’ flavor”
USA Today: “Miami’s Little Havana celebrates Fidel Castro’s death”



H/T: Agustin

Toricelli has no regrets on Cuba

Ah that pesky embargo—sorry anti-embargo crowd, it’s been a success, in more ways than one, not the least of which is that so far, U.S. taxpayers have not been left holding the tab for Cuba’s debt delinquency.

Via NJ.com

Torricelli: After meeting Castro, I have no regrets choking Cuba

Good ole commie days1989
Good ole commie days1989

By Robert Torricelli

The death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro raises once again the issue of the American embargo. It’s a controversial law that for five decades has been more misunderstood and misrepresented than anything I’ve experienced in public life.

I authored the law strengthening the U.S. embargo under President George H.W. Bush when I was in Congress, so a little perspective is in order as we ponder Castro’s passing and what he meant to U.S.-Cuba relations.

Among my first memories as a child growing up in Franklin Lakes were of the U.S. and the USSR teetering on the brink of nuclear war. Only recently have we learned just how close we came to global destruction. Poor communication required the Kremlin to give launch authority to local Soviet commanders. Castro urged a Soviet nuclear attack if American forces landed on his shores. We now know that those weapons were operational. This was Fidel Castro.

I met him in the spring of 1990 in his sprawling home by Havana Harbor. What I imagined to be an exchange of pleasantries quickly became a rambling four-hour conversation. It was a tour de force. I doubted that I’d ever see him again and I thought that I had nothing to lose.

I dove right in:

Did you kill JFK? “Not in my interest,” Castro said. President Johnson was worse for Cuba, he said.

And how did you know that the landing would be at the Bay of Pigs? “U.S. spy planes had been flying over it for days,” he said.

Did you always intend to create a Communist government? “I never heard of the term,” applied to the Revolution, he said. President Nixon, Castro told me, walked out of the Harlem Hotel where they had a pleasant conversation and told the press that “I was a Communist.”

Hours before our conversation, I had met political prisoners who had been incarcerated for four decades. One noted that the day of my visit was the first time the steel panels had been removed from his jailhouse windows, allowing him to see the sun. This was Fidel Castro.

Cuba had become more than an island prison. Basic freedoms were denied and generations were lost in abject poverty. A land — rich from farming and fishing — with a strong and entrepreneurial people had been diminished to importing food, while filling the streets with unemployed youth and teenage prostitutes. This was Fidel Castro.

No amount of poverty was enough to thwart Castro’s ambitions. Throughout the 1980s he continued to fund revolutions in Africa and Latin America. Thousands died from his armaments in Marxist insurrections while his island starved. This was Fidel Castro.

This was the reality of the Castro that I met in 1990. When I left that day, I decided to be part of the solution. Within two years, President Bush signed (under political pressure from then-Gov. Bill Clinton) the Cuban Democracy Act.

It was a simple plan. It plugged the holes in the original restrictions put in place by President Kennedy, but barriers to communication were lifted. The U.S. would deny Castro hard currency — some $720 million in subsidiary trade — to prop up the regime and cause internal pressure for reform by flooding the island with rising expectations through open communication.

There were almost immediately problems with the plan. Castro refused all American efforts to increase communication (news bureaus, reopening telephone cable, etc.) and later Venezuela under the Chavez regime began shipping subsidized oil, giving Castro a new source for hard currency by reselling it.

People ask me all the time whether I have any regrets about sponsoring the bill. The Cuban economy contracted and Castro remained with no breakthrough in political reform. The legislation, however, was not without its impact.

From the date of enactment of the Cuban Democracy Act, Cuba never again led an international insurgency. The wars in Central America came to an end. Cuba withdrew from Africa. The legislation didn’t produce a free Cuba but untold thousands of lives were saved by ending Castro’s foreign adventures.

No regrets.

Robert Torricelli, a Democrat, represented New Jersey in the U.S. Senate (1997-2003) and House of Representatives (1983-1997).

Oppenheimer on Castro: In any other country he would have been declared a war criminal

“Cowards make the best torturers. Cowards understand fear and they can use it.” – Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

Via Translating Cuba:

Fidel Castro Was Anything But Courageous / 14ymedio, Andres Oppenheimer

14ymedio, Andres Oppenheimer, 28 November 2016 – It is not elegant to criticize someone who has just died, but seeing the messages from the heads of state around the world exalting the supposed courage of the recently deceased Cuban leader Fidel Castro, the truth must be told: Castro was anything but courageous. On the contrary, he was a coward.

In the first place, he was a coward for not allowing a free election in 57 years, from the time he took power in 1959. Only someone who is afraid of losing doesn’t desire to measure himself against others in a free election.

In the second place, Castro was a coward because he never allowed a single independent newspaper or non-government radio station or television channel. His critics didn’t even have access to the official channels. It was as if they did not exist.

Castro gave the vast majority of his interviews to journalists, models or sports figures who revered and honored him. And the few interviews he gave to serious journalists were monologues, in which he did all the talking.

I remember in the late 1980s, when I asked the Colombian Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez to intercede for me to ask for an interview with Castro. He laughed and said: “Why do you want an interview with Fidel? He never says anything in an interview that he hasn’t said in one of his five hour speeches.”

Castro’s fear of losing his omnipresent image as Maximum Leader was such that he forbade the media to talk about his private life. He had to be portrayed as a demigod who had sacrificed his life for the public good. For decades, the names of his wife and children were a state secret.

When I traveled to Cuba in the early 1990s, a journalist from the newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth) the communist youth paper, told me he had been reprimanded by his boss for trying to publish a photo of Castro eating dinner. The commander could never be shown eating, said the journalist.

Even the circumstances of the death of Castro may have been a government montage: Cuban official media say he died on November 25, which is the same day that Castro and his guerrillas left the Mexican port of Veracruz on the yacht Granma in 1955 to start their armed insurrection in Cuba.

Did they tamper with the date of his death to show it as a heroic journey to the afterlife, which coincides with the date of the beginning of his revolutionary epic six decades ago?

Third, Castro was a coward because he did not allow any independent political party. According to the Cuban Constitution drafted by Castro, only the Communist Party, which he presided over for decades, is allowed on the island.

Castro used the United States trade embargo as an excuse to prohibit independent political parties and freedom of assembly. Even after he handed the presidency to his brother Raul, although he remained a powerful figure behind the scenes, the Cuban regime intensified repression of the peaceful opposition despite the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba that began under President Obama in 2014.

According to the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, an unofficial group, documented political arrests have soared from 6,424 in 2013 to 9,125 so far this year.

Fourth, Castro was a coward because he never allowed international financial institutions to monitor or verify the positive economic statistics of his government.

Castro boasted that Cuba reduced poverty and improved health and education, and much of the international press believed it, unquestioningly. But unlike most countries, Castro never allowed the World Bank or other credible international institutions to undertake independent studies on the island.

He boasted of the educational progress of Cuba, but never allowed Cuba to participate in the International Student Assessment (PISA) testing program. In fact, many studies show that other countries such as Costa Rica made more social progress than Cuba, without paying the price of mass executions, imprisonments and exiles.

Fifth, Castro never allowed international human rights organizations to conduct on-site investigations into human rights abuses. According to the research group Cuba Archive Castro was responsible for 3,117 documented cases of executions and 1,162 cases of extrajudicial executions. In any other country, he would have been declared a war criminal.

I am sorry, but the conventional narrative that Castro was a courageous revolutionary who defied ten US presidents and survived numerous assassination attempts does not impress me at all.

Courageous leaders are those who have the courage to compete with others in free elections. Castro was a coward who never dared to allow the Cuban people to exercise their basic rights, and who condemned his island to misery.

His death should be a reminder that there is no such thing as a good dictator. Whether a right-wing autocrat as Augusto Pinochet or a leftist like Castro, all dictators are bad and, deep down, cowards.

______________________________________

Editor’s Note: This article was previously published in Spanish in the newspaper El Nuevo Herald. It is reproduced with the permission of the author.

Dictators death inspires FMLN confession

Well well well, the death of a brutal dictator accompanied by an out pouring of homage from the free world seems to have created at least for now, a safe space for the now political party in El Salvador, the FMLN, supposedly no longer a terrorist group, to make public what has long been known to the CIA, and others.

By Adriana Peralta in PanAm Post:

El Salvador Leftists Admit Fidel Castro Aided their Side in Civil War

fmln-1

Members of the leftist party Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front came clean this weekend about how Fidel Castro aided their side of the civil war that took place between 1980 and 1992.

FMLN members met on Sunday to discuss the passing of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Secretary General of the party Medardo Gonzáles recognized the support Castro had provided the party during the war, in the form of planning military and paramilitary tactics as well as healthcare for wounded soldiers.

“He accompanied us in this process and in this fight,” he said, describing how he, Castro and others would dedicate hours to discussing general strategy and tactics that they wanted to implement.


These statements contrast with those made by Castro himself in November 2000, when confronted by then-President of El Salvador Francisco Flores. During the tenth Ibero-American Summit in Panama, Flores accused Castro of having interfered in El Salvador, especially during the civil war, a conflict that left more than 70,000 dead.

On that occasion, Castro denied the accusations.

“You are accusing me of deaths in El Salvador,” Castro said. “I haven’t accused you. If I have to accuse you, I accuse you.”

“Fidel also didn’t hide what he did or what he was doing,” Gonzáles recalled, and thanked Castro, the Cuban people, the COmmunist Party and Raul Castro for the help and support.

Sources: EDH, El Diario de Hoy.

Here’s a snippet of the so-called “general strategy and tactics” the dictator exported to El Salvador via Latin American Studies:

Since 1981, Cuba is known to have supported-with training, arms, and munitions-several major operations carried out by the FMLN. These have included the bombing of the Golden Bridge in October 1981, the sabotage of seventy-five percent of the Salvadoran Air Force at the Ilopango Air Base in January 1982, and the bloody assault on the 4th Brigade Headquarters in El Paraiso in December 1983. Adin Inglés Alvarado, a guerrilla captain until his defection in early 1985, stated that he and twenty-seven other rebels went to Cuba to plan and train for that attack. (153) He added that Cuba supplied the weapons and ammunition used in the raid (in which 100 soldiers were killed). “Besides the training,” he said, “they have us all the material to use. The explosives, machine-guns, and ammunition were totally sent from Cuba. Nicaragua was only the conduit, or staging point.”

Another senior rebel defector, Napoleón Romero, affirmed in a press interview in April 1985 that, “Nicaragua” is a directional center of the FMLN… there they give us advice, the Sandinistas as well as the Cubans.” (154) Salvadoran guerrilla documents, captured in 1985, provided evidence of assistance given the FMLN by Cuba, Nicaragua, the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, and Vietnam. (155) Manuel Piñeiro, apparently alluding to reports that Cuba had reduced its arms support of the FMLN, told a visiting U.S. official in early 1985 that Cuba would continue its aid to the FMLN and other guerrilla forces in Latin America and will do nothing to undercut the FMLN or the Sandinista regime. (156)

On June 19, 1985, the Cuban-advised FMLN launched a new terrorist campaign against the U.S. presence in El Salvador when urban commandos of the Revolutionary Party of Central American Workers (PRTC) machine-gunned to death four U.S. Marine embassy guards and nine civilians-including two U.S. businessmen, a Chilean, two Guatemalans, and four Salvadorians- and wounded 15 others at a sidewalk café in San Salvador. In October 1985, the FMLN staged two other major operations that must have required Cuban approval: a raid on a Salvadoran army garrison housing U.S. trainers and the kidnapping of President José Napoleón Duarte’s daughter. Negotiations for her release were channeled through Managua. In order to win her freedom, President Duarte capitulated and provided safe conduct out of the country to 104 wounded guerrillas and twenty-two others. Piñeiro received the rebels on their arrival at the Havana airport. (157)

Piñeiro initiated Cuba’s 1987 campaign of support for the FMLN by attending an FMLN/PCES “solidarity meeting” in Havana in January. (158) On March 31, FMLN guerrillas again overran the 4th Brigade Headquarters, killing at least sixty-four soldiers and a U.S. military trainer, President Duarte stated in a television interview that this attack may also have been planned with Cuban technical assistance and training because of the greatly increased accuracy of the guerrilla mortar barrage on the garrison. (159) Duarte told a U.S. congressional delegation in September that the Sandinista regime had “dramatically increased” shipments of military hardware to the FMLN since the Central American peace proposal was initiated. (160) The FMLN country-wide offensive in the fall of 1988 featured another bloody attack on the El Paraiso garrison, as well as car bombings and a mortar attack in San Salvador.

Read more HERE.

Fidel Castro’s mass murder

No one should be mourning the mass murdering butcher, least of all anyone living in freedom with full stomachs and safe spaces.

By David P. Goldman in Pajamas Media:

Fidel Castro’s Mass Murder by the Numbers

Fidel Castro shed blood on a scale unimaginable in American terms. His butchers executed perhaps 15,000 prisoners, according to academic estimates cited by Wikipedia:

British historian Hugh Thomas, in his study Cuba or the pursuit of freedom[22] stated that “perhaps” 5,000 executions had taken place by 1970,[21] while The World Handbook of Political and Social Indicators ascertained that there had been 2,113 political executions between the years of 1958–67.
Professor of political science at the University of Hawaii, Rudolph J. Rummel estimated the number of political executions at between 4,000 and 33,000 from 1958–87, with a mid range of 15,000.

That was in a country of 7 million. In per capita terms, that’s the equivalent of about 680,000 executions in the United States of America with our population of 318 million. What’s 680,000? The entire population of Denver or Seattle. Imagine taking every man, woman, and child of a major American city and murdering them. That’s the scale of Fidel Castro’s crimes.

680,000 is a bit less than the standard estimate for total military deaths in the American Civil War. Imagine standing 680,000 soldiers against a wall — all the dead of Antietam, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor Chickamauga and every other battle of the Civil War — and shooting them dead in cold blood. That’s the equivalent of Fidel Castro’s mass murder.

Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot killed more people in relative terms. After that, it’s hard to find a tyrant with a bigger body count than Fidel. To speak of him with anything but a curse is an insult to the memory of his victims.

Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarters
Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarters

A voice from Israel: Praising Castro is dangerous and cruel

By Rachel Sharansky Danziger in Times of Israel:

You have no right to praise Castro

The 6th of March, 1953 was a memorable day for Israel’s kibbutzim. Al-HaMishmar, the daily socialist newspaper, announced the death of a legendary leader. Israel’s United Workers Party declared that it was “horrified to hear about the great disaster that befall the Soviet nations, the world proletariat and all of progressive humanity.” Whole communities expressed the same grief and horror as they gathered to mourn the passing of “the Sun of the Nations.” A friend of mine still remembers standing as a child in his kibbutz‘s grassy center, surrounded by weeping adults and crying along.

The leader my friend shed tears for was Joseph Stalin, the man who sent millions of Soviet citizens to torture, imprisonment and death, and kept many more in a state of perpetual terror.

stalinimg_20161127_144858

In Soviet Russia, children shed tears too. One of these children was my father. “A wonderful thing has happened,” my grandfather whispered to his sons that morning, the curtains drawn and the windows shut. My grandmother paced back and forth in the background, worrying about possible retaliatory pogroms and new troubles for the Jews. “A terrible man had died, a man who could have killed us all. Tomorrow, you must do exactly what all the others children do, but in your hearts, remember that this is a wonderful day.”

The next day, my father and uncle cried with their classmates, as did many children around the globe.

Unlike my grandparents, most of Stalin’s mourners around the world knew nothing about their idol’s crimes. The truth of Stalin’s purges and persecutions, the very truth that turned life in the Soviet Union into a living hell, wasn’t known outside of the USSR until Nikita Khrushchev exposed it in February 1956. The Israeli kibbutzim mourned a monster. But they didn’t know it at the time.

Can the people who eulogize Fidel Castro today say the same?

Do we truly need “history,” as President Barack Obama stated, to “record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him?” Don’t we already know by what means he “altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation”? And should we truly feel “deep sorrow,” as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put it, at the passing of a “controversial figure,” who was nonetheless “a remarkable leader”?

We know what Castro did. Yet Prime Minister Trudeau spoke of Fidel Castro’s “tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante,’” without mentioning just how Castro ruled these people.Trudeau complimented the Cuban dictator’s contributions to education and health care in his “island nation,” but completely disregarded the bloodshed that accompanied these improvements, the butchery of the very people who supposedly held such a “deep and lasting affection” for their murderer.

In his statement, Prime Minister Trudeau joined the old and illustrious club of Western leaders who glorified and romanticized murderous dictators, from the comfort and security of their free societies. Such leaders are willing, in the name of certain shared ideologies, to disregard the will and liberties of other nations. They are willing to speak of oppressors with awe, and of their relationships with them as “an honor.”

Many Western politicians joined this club when they continued to revere Stalin himself even after Khrushchev’s revelation in 1956. They actively tried to hide the truth, or to dismiss it as irrelevant compared to the Soviet tyrant’s contributions to his people and mankind. Looking back, their actions appear ridiculous. And yet here we are, watching as our leaders follow the same pattern.

Is that truly the club today’s leaders of the free world want to join? Is that truly how they want history to remember them? Or, frankly, the present’s attention, as well, if the #trudeaueulogies campaign trending on Twitter is anything to judge by?

Dear world leaders, and dear fellow private citizens who mourn Castro today on Facebook and Twitter: please check your privilege. We who grew up in freedom don’t know what it’s like to never say what we truly think. We don’t know what it’s truly like to live in fear of our own leaders, aware that the secret police might arrest us at any moment. We don’t know what it’s like to always wonder which seemingly innocent act today will turn us into public enemies tomorrow, or the next year, or even decades away. We don’t know what it’s like to always wait for that knife to fall.

In our privileged ignorance of these things, it’s easy for us to dismiss them as we praise Castro for his values. It’s easy enough for us to lament the passing of a murderer. It’s easy enough for us to tweet about his progressive and socialist ideals, knowing full well that no one will arrest us for expressing such opinions. It’s easy enough for us to do so while we slurp our milkshakes and enjoy the comforts of our capitalist lives.

It’s easy, but it is also dangerous and cruel. It sends a message to dictators everywhere, telling them that if they spout the right slogans we and our elected leaders won’t hold them accountable or stand in their way. It leaves them free to oppress and murder. And it discourages the millions who suffer under their rule from seeking change, by showing that we, their only possible allies, couldn’t care less about their pain.

By eulogizing Castro, we aren’t merely dismissing his people’s suffering. We’re also abandoning people like Raif Badawi, the brave blogger who has been imprisoned and flogged periodically in Saudi Arabia since 2012, to their fate.

“But many Cubans are sad today too,” you might be thinking.” And you may even be right. It could well be that many Cubans shed real tears today, grateful for Castro’s positive contributions to their lives. But that is their prerogative, as people who lived through Castro’s hell themselves. It isn’t our place to do the same.

And besides, if history is anything to judge by, many more Cubans are mourning like my father and uncle did on March 6, 1953. They may be crying, with celebration raging in their hearts.

H/T: Fernando Marquet

In Cuba the economy does not grow

“Capitalism is using its money; we socialists throw it away.” – A quote from the Beast of Birán

By Roberto Álvarez Quiñones in Diario De Cuba:

Strangling us at the waist

tabacos171116

More than 20 years ago in Havana a friend and colleague of mine portrayed the regime’s incessant calls for austerity with an unforgettable image that I have never forgotten: “Boy, if we keep tightening our belts they’re going to strangle us at the waist.”

And that is what the Castro brothers are calling for, once again, according to the unbelievable latest report put out by the National Bureau of Statistics and Information (ONEI) a few days ago.

And I say unbelievable because as the year winds to an end the entity has come out and claimed that in 2015 the “trade surplus” of Cuba fell by 1.6 billion dollars, Cuban exports of goods and services decreased by 2.9 billion, and imports, 1.3 billion, due to the low commodity prices and the crisis in Venezuela.

This delay in disclosure was politically motivated. The trade balance will soon be announced for 2016, and it will be worse. And the Government will want to claim that if in 2015 the fall in imports was sharp, this year of course there was less money to import goods and food. Then in 2017 things will be even worse, and we will have to tighten our belts, again.

With a straight face, ONEI officials went even further and reported that in 2015 the export of goods and services reached 14.9 billion USD, and imports totaled 12.6 billion.

This is completely false. All these statistics have been bloated with smoke-and-mirror accounting tricks. To start with, at no time since 1961, when Fidel Castro proclaimed the Communist nature of “his” revolution, has Cuba had a surplus in its trade balance, except for an almost symbolic surplus of 10 million dollars in 1974. That is, over the course of 54 years of self-declared Communism, Cuba has posted 53 international trade deficits, and 1 micro-surplus.

Neither has the Island ever exported goods and services worth more than 5.4 billion USD. Castro’s record exports came in 1989 with 5.399 billion, but in that same year imports were also at a record high of 8.14 billion dollars, and Cuban foreign trade showed a huge deficit: 2.74 billion.

It was, precisely, trade deficits that were responsible for Cuba’s enormous foreign debt, which hit 59.681 billion dollars in 2013, for per capita debt of 5,328 USD, the highest in the Third World. This was, basically, due to trade credits received and never paid by Havana. Thanks to Obama’s policy towards Cuba, lately several creditor countries have forgiven many of the debts owed by the Castros, who will get away without paying a penny of those debts, now renegotiated.

The economy does not grow

Cuba, of course, does not always need to post a surplus in its trade balance. It is normal for developing countries to run trade deficits, as they need to import technology, capital goods, raw materials, and equipment, for which they receive loans that they pay back with their economic growth itself.

But in a centrally-planned economy, imported technological and capital resources are not taken advantage of, as there is waste, bureaucratic negligence, errant decisions, massive theft at factories, very low productivity and widespread general labor inefficiency, to the point that workers are now imported from India.

Thus, the economy does not grow and loans are not paid back. Thus, suppliers stop selling, and funding sources stop lending money. Today Cuba exports fewer goods than it did in the mid-20th century, concentrated in four basic products: nickel, sugar, tobacco, rum and pharmaceutical products (16% of the total).

How, then, can the Castro regime report that it had a trade surplus in 2015, and exported goods and services worth nearly 15 billion dollars?

It´s simple. For years the Castros have had thousands of doctors and technicians of all kinds (including generals, colonels, and intelligence and counterintelligence officers) in Venezuela. Due to his verbal incontinence, Chávez himself actually admitted that he had 44,000 Cuban doctors and nurses in the country. There are another 11,400 Cuban doctors in Brazil, and there are even more in some 64 other countries.

Income confiscated, not produced

The Castro dictatorship confiscates 75% of the wages of those thousands of doctors and technicians, a maneuver unprecedented in modern history. This stolen money, as if they were slaves owned by State’s military regime, is then entered in the books as it were from exported services, exceeding some 11 billion dollars a year on average.

But that money obtained from Cuban doctors abroad does not really belong to the Castro government, but to those personnel, who work and receive a salary in foreign territories, not on the Island. No such income is received by the regime, but rather has been unfairly expropriated. Reporting this as it were from exported services is a farce.

And there are more accounting ruses. Castro re-exports part of the petroleum given Cuba by Venezuela, which, until a year ago, was at least 36 million barrels of oil a year. That is, Cuba exports a resource that was not produced in the country, that did not cost it a penny, and does not appear in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, it obtains with this non-produced good currency that boosts the supposed “surplus” in its trade balance.

Those in the upper echelons of the Castro regime have no qualms about reducing the already scarce supply of oil and gasoline in the country and exporting it to obtain currency, most of which ends up in the coffers of the civil/military nomenklatura rather than the nation’s public treasury.

To make matters worse, the Government inflates the GDP figure inordinately. It has done so since 1959, following orders issued by Che Guevara when he was president of the National Bank. But now its methods are even more “profitable.”

Fewer exports than 60 years ago.

First, social spending, like that on Public Health and Education, is plowed into the GDP, as if collected by private institutions at high prices in a developed capitalist country. That is, fictitious values ??of services, rendered free, are calculated as if they had generated revenue for private institutions. No other Government in the world lies in this way. If Latin American countries did the same thing, the poorest nations would suddenly seem rich.

Actual Cuban exports in 2015 were goods in the amount of 3.9 billion dollars, as reported by the ONEI itself in early 2016. That’s less than half of the $9.898 billion exported by the Dominican Republic, a much smaller country, whose GDP was seven times lower than Cuba’s before the Castro regime. In 2016 Cuba will have exported fewer goods, and in 2017 the number could be even lower. And it will no longer be able to tighten its belt, as my friend said.

The truth is that Cuba now exports fewer goods than it did about 60 years ago, when, in addition to the aforementioned products, it sold meat, coffee, pineapple, stud bulls, fruit and other agricultural products making Cuba a significant food exporter. Today it imports 81% of the food it consumes.

In short, Raúl and Fidel Castro’s regime is unique in its mockery of the international community, the UN, the ECLAC, the UNDP and every other international economic organization.

The appalling thing is that no one condemns these fraudulent statistics. Everyone accepts them, which enables the Castros to remain the great mythomaniacs and creators of fallacies that they are, as they pull the wool over everyone’s eyes while almost suffocating everyday Cubans … who cannot tighten their belts any further.

Trump picks Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General

Sen. Jeff Sessions, Repbulican Alabama is president elect Donald Trumps choice for Attorney General.

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A Google search with the words Sessions trouble for Clinton, returns about 916,000 links, including this article from the Washington Post, by Matt Zapotosky who writes:

“If Jeff Sessions is confirmed as attorney general, it will mean likely sweeping changes for the Justice Department, especially on civil rights policies.

It also could mean even more investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email practices and her family’s charitable foundation.

Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama who previously served as a U.S. attorney, has been an outspoken critic of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server, saying on Fox Business Network last month he was “uncomfortable with the way the investigation was conducted” in part because witnesses were not compelled to testify before a grand jury. He also has said it “seems like” the FBI had not fully investigated the dealings of the Clinton Foundation while Clinton was secretary of state and that, in his view, Clinton might have used her position to benefit the foundation.

“The fundamental thing is you cannot be secretary of state of the United States of America and use that position to extort or seek contributions to your private foundation,” Sessions said on CNN. “That is a fundamental violation of law and that does appear to have happened.”

Based on his voting record in the Senate, listed HERE, what the heck is his actual position on Cuba?

Amendment – Removing funds for television broadcasting
The US broadcasts a television station into Cuba for the purposes of convincing the Cubans to form a Democratic government. In July of 2005, the Senate voted on an amendment to provide that no funds may be made available to provide television broadcasting to Cuba, to increase by $21,100,000 the amount appropriated to the Peace Corps, and to reduce by the same amount the amount appropriated under title I to the Broadcasting Board of Governors for broadcasting to Cuba. The amendment failed 33-66. Jeff Sessions voted against the amendment to remove funds for travel into Cuba.

Amendment – Family travel to Cuba
In June of 2005, the House voted on an amendment to facilitate family travel to Cuba in humanitarian circumstances. The amendment passed 60-35. Jeff Sessions voted against the amendment.

Amendment – Cuba and International Terrorism
In December of 2001, the Senate voted on an amendment to provide for Presidential certification that the government of Cuba is not involved in the support for acts of international terrorism as a condition precedent to agricultural trade with Cuba. The amendment passed 61-33. Jeff Sessions voted against the amendment.

Amendment – Travel to Cuba
In October of 2003, the Senate voted on an amendment to prohibit the enforcement of the ban on travel to Cuba. The amendment failed to pass 36-59. Jeff Sessions voted in favor of the amendment.

Amendment – Humanitarian and Compassionate Travel
In July of 1997, the Senate voted on an amendment to provide for Cuban-American family humanitarian support and compassionate travel. The amendment failed 38-61. Jeff Sessions voted against the amendment to allow humanitarian and compassionate travel.

He also co-sponsored a resolution condemning human rights violations by the Castro dictatorship in Cuba:

Title : A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the human rights situation in Cuba.

SUMMARY AS OF:
3/22/2001–Introduced. Condemns the repressive and totalitarian actions of the Cuban Government against the Cuban people.Expresses the sense of the Senate that the President should: (1) establish an action-oriented policy of directly assisting the Cuban people and independent organizations to strengthen the forces of change and to improve human rights in Cuba (with such policy modeled on the bipartisan U.S. support for the Polish Solidarity movement); and (2) make all efforts necessary at the meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva in 2001 to obtain passage of a resolution condemning the Cuban Government for its human rights abuses and to secure the appointment of a Special Rapporteur for Cuba.

Opinions readers?

An opinion on why Obama’s Cuba policy must be reversed

A letter published in the WSJ by Javier Garcia-Bengochea:

Obama Cuba Policy and U.S. Property Rights

Let’s be clear about the consequences of President Obama’s unprincipled capitulation to the white, male, military dictatorship in Cuba and why it should be reversed. Everything in Cuba is stolen.

Regarding Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s “The Cost of Obama’s Cuba Policy” (Americas, Nov. 7): Let’s be clear about the consequences of President Obama’s unprincipled capitulation to the white, male, military dictatorship in Cuba and why it should be reversed. Everything in Cuba is stolen. Therefore, every American venture there permitted by President Obama will result in the widespread trafficking in stolen property, in many cases that of Americans. That’s not capitalism.

Look at my case, where a popular cruise line is trafficking in the port of Santiago de Cuba using a property confiscated from my family. This property has a claim certified by the U.S. Treasury. For the ill-informed regarding Cuba, protecting these unsettled claims is the reason there is an embargo.

Yet President Obama granted the company permission to traffic in my property despite my objections. He claims it isn’t trafficking. How? Because he says so. Sounds like Raúl Castro. And so it is with every activity in Cuba, including renting from Airbnb, smoking cigars, drinking rum and cruising in old American jalopies. Even the paintings in the museums are hot.

Most contracts between the dictatorship and American corporations will likely be canceled by a democratic government and property returned to the rightful owners. Why then would any U.S. company want change and risk its Cuba deal? No company will risk this. Investment seeks certainty. Mr. Obama has essentially linked the existence of every American enterprise in Cuba to the survival of the Castro dictatorship.

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to repeal President Obama’s reckless executive orders pertaining to Cuba, beginning with those that violate U.S. law. Fortunately for President Obama his violation of the law will soon be forgotten.

Javier Garcia-Bengochea

Certified Claimant

More on the Cuban American vote

Via Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Cuban American vote in the 2016 Presidential Elections: Just the facts please.

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” – Daniel Patrick Moynihan

National press has recognized that Cuban Americans played a decisive role in Florida going Republican in the 2016 Presidential election. The Pew Research Center that is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy organization that gathers data and conducts analysis on the issues looked at exit polls with 3,997 respondents and found that 54% to 41% Cuban Americans voted for Trump and Hillary respectively.

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These results were predictable to close observers of the Cuban American scene in South Florida. In May of 2016 I predicted that if Mr. Trump contrasted himself from Secretary Clinton and President Obama that the New York businessman would win 56% of the Cuban American vote.

The Obama Cuba policy had deeply outraged Cuban Americans and the repeated unilateral concessions in an environment where human rights on the island are deteriorating led to a profound rejection of the policy.

Furthermore that this policy gave a green light to discrimination of Cuban Americans by U.S. corporations to satisfy the demands of their new business partners, the Castro dictatorship provoked protests and law suits in 2016.

Nevertheless we find the usual crowd that produce misleading polls that may have cost Secretary Hillary Clinton the White House continue to double down using partisan push polls to try and blot out the sun with their thumb.

Recalling another Democratic U.S. Senator for the State of New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan let me make a plea for a civil discourse and to agree on the facts in evidence. Otherwise there is a danger of falling into historical negationism that serves no one.

It was not only President Elect Donald Trump who benefited from opposition to Obama’s Cuba policy but so did Senator Marco Rubio and Congressional candidates in South Florida in all the races where there was a contrast on Cuba policy between the two candidates.

The argument I made and am making is that if President Elect Trump had not shifted his position on US – Cuba policy to contrast himself from President Obama and Secretary Clinton he would have remained in the 33 -37% range and possibly even lose the Cuban American vote to Hillary Clinton and that in a tight statewide Florida race it would have cost him the win. This is what happened with the Chinese American vote when Republicans abandoned the anti-communist issue on China. It wasn’t the immigration issue that was hurting him with Cuban Americans.

Continue reading HERE.

Must read from Claver-Carone: Obama’s Cuba policy makes a bad situation worse

The following Miami Herald article by Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC and Capitol Hill Cubans, catalogs the exact reasons why Obama’s Cuba policy is a failure.

Mauricio Claver-Carone in The Miami Herald:

Obama’s Cuba policy makes bad situation worse

It’s been almost two years since President Barack Obama announced that he was “charting a new course on Cuba” and lifted numerous U.S. trade sanctions on the island to empower the “Cuban people” and the island’s “emerging private sector.” At the time, reasonable minds could disagree with Obama’s tactics, which ignored the plight of Cuba’s political dissidents, but few could disagree with the president’s purported intent.

Since that Dec. 17, 2014, announcement, there’s been little to celebrate. Political repression in Cuba is at historic highs; emigration has risen to levels not seen since the 1994 flight of rafters; violations of religious freedom have increased tenfold; and the rate of growth of the so-called “emerging private sector” (“cuentapropistas”) has turned negative.

In short, Obama’s new course for Cuba has made a bad situation worse.

Recently Obama and his administration added insult to injury by promulgating rules that allow Americans to do business with Cuba’s state monopolies run by Castro family members. These are businesses and properties confiscated without compensating the owners — stolen — by the Castros’ regime. Many of the owners were Americans or Cubans who fled the island. Three new provisions, jointly promulgated Oct. 14, by the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments, send a clear message: The Obama administration has pivoted to support the Castro regime, rather than the Cuban people and their desire for economic and political reform. The new U.S. regulations:

Remove the $100 cap on the import of Cuban rum and cigars for personal consumption. The cap had been imposed because these industries along with their trademarks had been confiscated. U.S. law and prior administrations had never legitimized such theft of private property, trafficking in stolen property, or support to Cuba’s state monopolies. Apparently, President Obama no longer cares.

The biggest beneficiary is, of course, the Castros’ rum industry, anchored by a stolen distillery and its “Havana Club” brand. Jose Arechabala established the distillery in 1878 and began exporting Havana Club rum to the United States in 1934. The Castro dictatorship forcibly seized all of the Arechabala family’s assets in 1960. The family was imprisoned or fled the island with only the shirts on their backs. Today Americans traveling to Cuba can party, drink and take home all the Havana Club rum they like, not knowing or caring that the Castros enjoy the profits.

Narrow the definition of “prohibited Cuban regime officials.” This change grants officials of the Castro government the same access to U.S. financial assistance that, purportedly, was crafted solely to support “the Cuban people and emerging private sector.” As a result, members of Castro’s Council of State; the puppet legislature; political prosecutors; local and provincial regime officials; ministry officials; secret police (Direccion de Seguridad del Estado, DSE) and intelligence agents (Direccion General de Inteligencia, DGI); neighborhood repressors (Comites de Defensa, CDR); media and cultural censors; even prison guards will be allowed to receive unlimited remittances and gifts, set up banking accounts, access and use the Internet to repress Cuban dissidents who have been seeking U.S. support for economic and political reform.

It’s hard to justify this latest “White House gift” amid the dramatic increase in repression.

Permit “contingency contracts” with Castro’s state monopolies. U.S. law prohibits contracts with Cuba’s state monopolies. Sales of agricultural commodities, medicine and medical devices were Congressionally-mandated exceptions. The Obama administration has now ignored the law to authorize dealings with these monopolies if the contracts include a “contingency clause” stating it won’t be implemented until U.S. law is changed or the transaction is specifically authorized by the Treasury Department. That’s tantamount to stealing the future of the Cuban people.

Obama is so intent on creating a lobby of U.S. corporate interests to pressure Congress into changing the law, that he has invited the Castro family to divvy up and establish a contractual claim to ownership on every potentially lucrative industry or business on the island, leaving the Cuban people with nothing for tomorrow.

The president has repeatedly described U.S. policy toward Cuba as a “relic of the Cold War.” He had to dig deeper into the archives to derive this provision, so reminiscent of an era when U.S. foreign policy famously teamed with Latin American dictators and American corporations, like the United Fruit Company, to negotiate away the economic future of those nations.

There’s no longer any rational strategy behind President Obama’s “Cuba policy.” It has gone from what it initially portrayed as a noble purpose to pure sycophancy in pursuit of “historic firsts.” Unfortunately, those Cuban dissidents who recognized Obama’s intent from the beginning and labeled it “a betrayal” of their fight for freedom have now been proven correct. Their foresight has come at a terrible cost.