Cuba: Wifi is coming, Wifi is coming


Recent news about lists of text message words censored in Cuba received widespread media attention. A quick google search ofCuba censors text message words, returns 159,000 links in .078 seconds.

Now, Voilà!, what timing! Cuba Announces Major WiFi Expansion on Iconic Malecon!!

Via ABC News:

The Cuban government says it will make five miles of Havana’s iconic seafront boulevard, the Malecon, into the largest WiFi hotspot in one of the world’s least-connected nations.

State media said Wednesday that WiFi will be installed along the most popular stretch of the Malecon by the end of the year. The seafront is a favored spot for Cubans to gather at night to talk, drink and listen to music.

Home internet remains illegal for most Cubans. Since last year, the government has installed dozens of WiFi spots in public areas, charging $2 an hour in a country where the average state salary remains about $25 a month.

Cuba said last year that it had 65 WiFi spots in service and expected 80 more to open in 2016.

Wonderful news, just imagine crowds of locals and tourists enjoying the latest from the net in paradise.


Nevermind the long history of the regime’s unfufilled promises, even if the Wifi hotspots are built, that doesn’t doesn’t mean an end to censorship, or the Harassment of alternative media.

Amnesty International report:

Internet access in Cuba is censored.

With access to internet so limited, online censorship is not that sophisticated in Cuba. Authorities frequently filter and intermittently block websites that are critical of the state. Limiting access to information in this way is a clear breach of the right to freedom of expression, including the right to seek, receive and impart information.

Communicating with Cuban human rights activists from overseas is difficult.

Amnesty International, along with many other independent international human rights monitors, including UN Special Rapporteurs, are not allowed to access Cuba. The landline, mobile and internet connections of government critics, human rights activists and journalists are often monitored or disabled. In the lead-up to Pope Benedict’s three-day visit to Cuba in September 2012, a communications blockade prevented Amnesty International and other international organizations from gathering information on a wave of detentions that were taking place. Communicating with Cuban human rights activists remains challenging, particularly at times when the authorities are arresting people based on their political opinion.

Obama’s Cuba policy resurrects segregation

Obama’s legacy.

By John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Obama Cuba Policy Legacy: Resurrecting systemic legal segregation

“If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac


President met Castro in Panama as Cuban activists attacked by Castro’s diplomats

The Obama Administration beginning in 2009 pushed for a normalization of relations with an abnormal and totalitarian regime in Cuba that treats its own people as chattel. On December 17, 2014 the announcement was formally made and since then new relations established.

Throughout this process human rights have not only worsened in Cuba, but also in the United States with the approval of The White House until popular outrage has forced them to back track. Consider for a moment three episodes from 2016.


Protests against Carnival for discriminating against Cubans to appease Castro regime

First, Carnival Cruise Line signed an agreement with Castro regime officials on March 21, 2016 to sail to Cuba from the United States. In order to conduct their core mission Carnival had to agree to enforce the Castro dictatorship’s policy that bans all Cubans from traveling into the island by water. It did not matter if Cubans born on the island were now citizens of another country. Obama’s Treasury Department on July 7, 2015 signed off on the Carnival Cruise Line – Castro regime alliance ignoring that an entire class of Americans would be discriminated against based on their national origin. Mass protests, boycotts and lawsuits led the Castro regime to blink when it became apparent that popular outrage would lead the cruise ship company to cancel its cruises.

Second, the U.S. embassy in Cuba floated a trial balloon that announced that the United States government accepted that U.S. citizens of Cuban descent born in the United States are not recognized by the Castro regime as Americans but as Cuban nationals subject to the dictatorship’s laws and regulations. Even though one was born in the United States and has never applied for dual nationality in Cuba they are treated as a Cuban born by the Castro regime in terms of responsibilities but not rights and the government of the USA goes along with it in order to have “normal relations.” This also means that these U.S. citizens would be denied consular access in Cuba. The State Department once again had to back track in May of 2016 when this trial balloon sunk amidst negative press coverage and popular outrage.


Discriminating against Cuban born crew to placate Castro regime

Thirdly, American Airlines is pulling Cuban-American pilots and flight attendants off flights to Cuba in order to placate demands by the Castro regime. Fabiola Santiago, of The Miami Herald, obtained an American Airlines memo announcing the policy as follows: “Please remember that those who are Cuban born should be removed with pay from Cuba flights until we can verify what requirements the Cuban government has for these crew members.” The Democracy Movement has announced that if American Airlines does not end this policy that they will take action.

President Obama’s Cuba policy legacy is to resurrect systemic legal segregation against American citizen’s based on their national origin in order to placate a foreign dictatorship. Benjamin Franklin was right: “If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.”

Castro’s forced labor camps, a selective memory

By Ernesto Hernández Busto in Penúltimos Días:


UMAP: Selective Memory

It seems that in Cuba one can now talk about UMAP, the notorious Military Units to Aid Production (in Spanish: Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción), internment and forced labor camps where the Cuban government imprisoned homosexuals, the religious, intellectuals, dissidents and any other “suspicious elements” between November 1965 and July 1968. Gradually, people have begun to speak about the camps, to admit things and individual cases, to collect testimonies, and to make visible this sad episode.

The psychologist Carolina de la Torre, a professor at the University of Havana, is about to publish the fictionalized story of her brother, Benjamin de la Torre, who committed suicide in 1967, just after leaving one of these camps. In a recent interview she recounted the difficulties in “finding out and writing about this episode in my own country.” In effect, for too long any investigation into this thorny episode in Cuba’s history has been avoided, while the importance of information and witness accounts that came to light off the island was called into question. The topic has always been “suspicious,” and this situation only began to change after official recognition from the victimizer: in an interview with the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, on 31 August 2010, after some hesitation and rhetorical circumlocutions, Fidel Castro declared publicly: “I am the one responsible for the persecution of homosexuals we had in Cuba… We did not know how to judge… Systematic sabotage, armed attacks, were happening all the time; we had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life and death, you know, so we didn’t pay enough attention.”

In fact, there was an excess of attention. For the young Cuban historian Abel Sierra Madero, UMAP cannot be understood as an isolated institution, but as a part of a project “oriented to social and political control. That is, as a technology that involved judicial, military, educational, medical and psychiatric mechanisms.” In recent research published in the magazine Letras Libres, and later, in an expanded version for Cuban Studies, Sierra Madero, using a relentless collection of testimonies, lucidly analyzes the Castro regime’s ideology that supported these supposed “academies to produce macho men.”

It was not just a question of a homophobic or exclusionary discourse that proposed, for example, to expel from higher schooling “counterrevolutionary and homosexual elements,” and to prevent their entry into the university. The process of “purification” was more complex and took place at all levels. Once the purges of the universities were finalized, young people who stood out for a wide range of reasons – which included everything from long hair to being Jehovah’s Witnesses, listening to “the enemy’s music” or not being “incorporated” (not having fixed work or belonging to mass organizations) – remained “exposed and at the mercy of the State.” The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) were charged with conducting a census to identify the “disaffected”, informing on them was encouraged through a National Information Center, and all this data ended up being shared with the Ministry of the Interior and Revolutionary Armed Forces, which were charged with forced recruitment. Quite simply, there was no escape. Rather than a “lack of attention,” it was the most attentive Orwellian machinery that was set in motion to concern itself with those who did not fit into the mold of the “New Man.”

Sierra Madero’s research focuses on this concept, associated with “a broader ideological camp of social homogenization in which fashion, urban practices of sociability, religious creeds and an attitude toward work were key elements in harmonizing with a normative official vision.” The testimonies collected – including those of the various psychologists who consulted in the camps – trace a hellish scenario: from forced hormone therapy treatments to an enormous plan of “Revolutionary hygiene” that turned the internees into an almost slave labor force, or subjected to them to behavioral and reflexological experiments, in which they came to use electroshock treatments. Other witnesses speak of tortures using electrodes and treatments that involved insulin-induced comas.

Recently, the government magazine Temas (Themes) dedicated an article by its director, Rafael Hernández, to “the time of the UMAPs.” In it, he affirms that there were more than 25,000 internees “among the more than 70 camps, scattered across the plains of Camagüey.” The number is very conservative but there is no way to contrast it. In a last year’s interview in El País, famous Cuban singer Pablo Milanés talked about his own experience in UMAP and mentioned “40 thousand” interns. Two former Cuban intelligence agents quoted by the scholar Joseph Tahbaz (Dartmouth College) in the most comprehensive study about this subject, Demystifying las UMAP: The Politics of Sugar, Gender, and Religion in 1960s Cuba, have estimated that of approximately 35,000 UMAP internee.

Last November, the journalist José Jasán Nieves reported about a meeting between several former inmates of the camps, now associates of the Christian Reflection and Dialog Center, and their guards, who at the time were young Revolutionaries convinced they were carrying out an important “task of the Revolution.” One of the guards, a former sergeant, has been a pastor in the Brothers of Christ Church for more than 25 years. And he cries out, of course, for forgiveness.

It appears, however, that on this issue there are different ideas about memory and forgiveness. Last December, after seeing a documentary on Mariela Castro and “The Revolution of Homosexuals in Cuba,” the LGBT activist Jimmy Roque published in the on-line newspaper Havana Times, an article asking Raúl Castro to apologize and accept his responsibility for the internment of homosexuals in the UMAPs. “Now is the time to ask forgiveness for this act of penalization, exclusion and punishment to which thousands of homosexuals and Cubans with ‘improper conduct’ were subjected,” the activist wrote, quoting the title of Néstor Almendros and Orlando Jiménez Leal’s famous documentary about this subject –from 1983.

In his article, Roque also referred to a supposed investigation into the matter that CENESEX, directed by Raul’s daughter Mariela Castro, had been pushing since 2011: “Where is this investigation? How many people have been interviewed” Who is performing it? When and where will the partial results be presented (along with those from now until the end of the study)?”

Two months later, in February, another Cuban activist, Yasmín Portales Machado, dared to quote a fragment of Roque’s article in his blog Proyecto Arcoiris (“Rainbow Project”) which deals with sexual diversity and is hosted on the Cuban government’s platform Reflejos. The text was censored and the blog closed after a succinct explanation about how it had violated “the norms of participation on the site” with a text “defamatory to the Revolution.”

In closed forums, or in publications with no real or large impact within Cuba, people then began to talk about the issue, but always quietly. They recognize that something was wrong. But there is still censorship and zones of silence. There is no mention, yet, about the origin of UMAP – and of many other similar “experiments” that seem inseparable from the construction of “a new society”: the devastating power that has been exercised by the Cuban State against all forms of dissent. The way in which one life is suddenly reduced to nothing, no longer matters, is no longer accounted for, and all violence then becomes legitimate, “natural,” exempt from responsibility. Because if we go there, how can we ignore the current repression against the dissidents, and the monopoly of the political voice and the systematic violation of human rights on the island?

Behind the “UMAP phenomenon” there was not, as one analyst recently recovered from several decades of amnesia said, a “perfect storm” of circumstances specific to the ‘60s, but the idea that any behavior that did not fit into the mold of ideological unanimity was not only reprehensible but punishable: it deserved to be suppress, isolated, subjected to the worst humiliations we could imagine. Same way of thinking erupted again in 1980, with the events of the Mariel Boatlift, and survives today as the ideological basis of the repressive forces.

I hope we don’t have to wait another 50 years for the day when some digital publication, not greatly read in Cuba, comes to think that this beating of dissidents that goes on today wasn’t a good thing either.

Ernesto Hernández Busto

Tour Cuba’s Museum of Revolution Propaganda

Just as everything else built buy Cuba’s dictators, Havana’s Museum of the Revolution contains dated, tawdry exhibits of propaganda. All poorly maintained, and without air conditioning.

By Katarina Hall in Victims of Communism:



Cuba’s most famous museum, the Museum of the Revolution, is exactly what you’d expect it to be: a temple to the Communist Party of Cuba, an attempt to discredit the United States, and a riot of propaganda.

Housed in the country’s former presidential palace, the museum gives you a revolutionary welcome with a SU-100 Soviet tank destroyer that Fidel used during the Bay of Pigs invasion. The palace itself is a sight to see—probably one of the most beautiful buildings in Havana and the only part of the museum worth looking at. Built in the 1920s and designed to look like Versailles, the building is imposing and overbearing, particularly its interior, which was decorated by New York’s Tiffany & Co.

The last Cuban president to use the palace as his residence was Fulgencio Batista, who lived there until 1959. Seen as a symbol of corruption, the palace was constantly a target of revolutionary violence. One of the most successful attacks took place on March 13, 1957, when a group of 50 revolutionaries stormed the residence with the intent of killing Batista. Although the attack did not succeed, the palace still shows the scars of the battle. The palace’s walls are covered with bullet holes.


For many, the museum would seem like any other historical attraction—as the Trip Advisor ratings and commentaries suggest. But for those who really pay attention, it does not take long to realize that the museum itself is one giant propaganda piece. The exhibits and displays are filled with countless diatribes against the United States and any other perceived enemy of the Revolution. The Revolution is exalted as the greatest and most successful episode in Cuba’s history. Not one display acknowledges any mistakes or shortcomings the Party may have, nor the current economic and human rights situation in Cuba.


Overall, the museum is a wacky experience. With the amount of money the museum makes with admissions, you would expect slightly more modern displays or well-kept exhibits, or maybe even air conditioning. But as you walk through the museum, you realize that in a way it is an analogy for the Revolution itself: it might seem like it has potential, but up close it is a disaster.

Read more HERE.

Marco Rubio demands answers from White House about TSA lies

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Rubio Demands Answers From White House About TSA Lies, Security of Cuba Flights

Of course, the irony is that while Iran’s Hassan Rouhani is in Havana plotting with the Castro regime how to undermine U.S. interests, the Obama Administration is lying to the American people and making it easier for them.

Kudos to Senator Rubio for his leadership.

Rubio Demands Answers From White House About TSA Lies, Security of Cuba Flights

Washington, D.C. – In a letter to President Obama, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is demanding The White House answer questions about the complete absence of federal air marshals on commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials’ false statements to Congress and the public about an agreement with the Cuban government that does not exist.

The full text of Rubio’s letter is below:

September 19, 2016

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania, Ave NW
Washington, D.C.

Dear President Obama,

You and your administration’s lack of concern for the American people’s safety – as evidenced by allowing commercial, non-charter flights between the U.S. and Cuba to commence without the presence of federal air marshals, and lying about it to Congress – is further proof that you are putting your legacy ahead of the safety and security of the American people, including the people of Florida.

During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing last week, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Deputy Administrator, Dr. Huban Gowadia, confirmed that there are currently no federal air marshals on commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba. This admission contradicts earlier claims by your administration that the federal air marshal agreement was finalized and they would be on commercial flights. Simply put, your administration has been caught in a bold-faced lie that has put American lives at risk.

It was incumbent upon your administration to finalize a federal air marshal agreement before U.S.-Cuba commercial flights first departed on August 31st. However, TSA officials have now publicly admitted the Castro government has not yet signed the document you submitted. In my view, Cuba remains a state sponsor of terrorism that is allied with some of the most despicable regimes in the world, including Iran to North Korea, and it is astonishing that the administration has allowed hundreds of U.S. passengers to board flights to and from Cuba under the false pretense that there would be federal air marshals on board. You have created an opportunity for our worst fears to become reality, just as they did on September 11, 2001.

In addition to this troubling news, you have refused to share with Congress key documents detailing the Cuban government’s vetting of airport workers and security procedures. Given your administration’s pattern of secrecy, misinformation and dishonesty on this matter, I believe the information in these apparently secret documents will likely further validate my concerns. I respectfully request that you provide the answers to the following questions:

– Why did the TSA lie to the American people and announce a federal air marshal agreement had been reached with the Cuban regime?

– When do you expect the Cuban regime to approve the agreement?

– Are there any flights between the U.S. and another country operated by a U.S. air carrier in which federal air marshals are not allowed on the flights? If so, which countries?

– In the meantime, what is the TSA doing to mitigate security risks associated with the lack of federal air marshals on these flights from Cuba to the United States?

– Did any White House official or officials instruct the TSA to proceed with allowing commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba before appropriate security procedures were in place? If so, please provide their name or names.

– Please also provide copies of the draft federal air marshal agreement with the Cuban regime, and the document detailing the Cuban government’s vetting of airport workers and airport security procedures.

Thank you for your attention to this critical matter, and I look forward to a timely response.


Marco Rubio
United States Senator

Cuban LGBT activist: “The Iranian President Isn’t Welcome Here in Cuba”

Isbel Diaz Torres, a Cuban LGBT activist, protested the visit of Iran’s president Hasan Rohani and “state homophobia” on social networks.

From his Facebook page:

Si deseas mostrar tu rechazo a la visita del presidente Irán a Cuba, puedes poner esta imagen en tu muro de Facebook. Abajo la homofobia de Estado!. Gracias
(If you want to show your opposition to the Iran President’s visit to Cuba, you can put this image on your Facebook wall. Down with state homophobia!. Thank you)


Via Diario De Cuba:

The sign reads Hasán Rohani is not welcome in Cuba your government kills gays.

Via Havana Times:

The Iranian President Isn’t Welcome Here in Cuba

In its waltz with the world’s dictators, the Cuban government isn’t satisfied with just recently going to hug egomaniac Eternal North Korean President Kim Il-un, but now it’s receiving the Iranian head-of-state who rules the world’s leading country in homosexual persecution.

Raul Castro has invited Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Cuba, who was traveling to the Americas to take part in the Non-Aligned Movement Summit, which took place on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

The visit of an authority whose Government punishes homosexuality and transexuality with whip lashes, death penalties and conversion therapy is extremely dangerous; especially because I fear that Human Rights violations like these will influence those that the Cuban government already practices.

Read more HERE.

Members of Cuba’s national volleyball team convicted of raping a Finnish woman

How can a country ruled by a barbaric dictator, whose agents regularly brutalize women in public cultivate a culture of discipline honor and respect?

Via The Guardian:

Five Cuban volleyball players jailed in Finland after rape conviction

3500Players from the Cuban national volleyball team at the court in Tampere, Finland. Photograph: Kalle Parkkinen/AFP/Getty Images

Five players from the Cuban national volleyball team have been jailed after being convicted of rape by a Finnish court on Tuesday. The court also ordered them to pay a total of £20,500 in compensation to the victim.

Six Cuban volleyball players held in Finland over alleged rape

Four of the men, including the team captain, were sentenced to five years in prison, while a fifth man got three and a half years.

The district court of Pirkanmaa acquitted a sixth man, who had been held in police custody with the five others in the city of Tampere, 105 miles north of the capital, Helsinki. The trial was held behind closed doors.

The team had been taking part in a World League tournament before the Rio Olympics when the attack took place at the hotel where they were staying. The men had denied the charges, claiming they were innocent. It was not immediately clear if the five who were convicted would appeal. Some said they had sexual intercourse with the Finnish victim but denied rape.

Five-year sentences were given to Osmany Santiago Uriarte Mestre, 21, Ricardo Norberto Calvo Manzano, 19, Abrahan Alfonso Gavilan, 21, and Rolando Cepeda Abreu, 27. Luis Tomas Sosa Sierra, 21, got three and a half years.

Eight members of the team were initially arrested in early July but two were released without charge.

During the investigation, the Cuban Volleyball Association acknowledged the arrests, saying the investigation seemed to indicate acts by the players that were “totally removed from discipline, the sense of honour and respect that govern our sport and society”.

Reports from Cuba: “We bought the death of my brother”

Horrific end of a journey for the dream of living in freedom. One that thousands upon thousands of Cubans have been willing to risk, by any possible means to escape the island gulag.

By Mario Penton in Translating Cuba:

“We bought the death of my brother”


Dunieski Eliades Lastre (left) and Edelvis Martínez Aguilar (right), Cuban migrants killed in Urabá, Colombia. (Courtesy)

14yMedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 18 September 2016 — “With the money from the sale of my mother’s house, we bought the death of my brother.”

Spoken with indescribable bitterness, these were the words of Edgardo Nordelo Sedeño, brother of Dunieski Eliades Lastre, age 25, murdered in Colombia on 8 September along with the young woman Edelvis Martínez. Both were Cubans and were trying to sneak through the jungles and borders that separated them from their goal: the United States and their dream of a free life.

Although Forensic Medicine has ruled out for the moment the alleged rape of Edelvis Martínez, the prosecutor has revealed gruesome details in the tragic ends of these young migrants trying to reach the United States.

Edelvis Martinez Aguilar was an accountant for a paladar, a private restaurant in Havana. She left with her boyfriend Liover Santos Corria, 35, heading to Guyana. After crossing Venezuela and Colombia they met up with Eliades Dunieski who apparently traveled to Capurgana to get to the Darien jungle. That day, two of them were killed in a Colombian swamp.

“We can not say that Martinez had been raped, at least there is no macroscopic evidence of that. Forensic Medicine did the research, collected samples from the body and are undertaking a conclusive analysis of the issue,” an official with the Columbian Attorney General’s office told 14ymedio, who asked to remain anonymous.

“We have found clear signs of torture in both victims before the murder,” he added.

The alleged perpetrators were identified as Johan Estiven Carreazo Asprilla, alias ‘Play Boy’, age 20, and Carlos Emilio Ibargüen Palacio, age 26. According to Santos, the only survivor, the Cuban migrants paid $1,500 to be taken to Panama, but once they arrived at the Gulf of Uraba the smugglers demanded more money. When the Cubans explained that they had no cash, the boaters murdered them with knives and hid their bodies tied to a tree trunk at the bottom of the Matuntugo Swamp. Santos saw his girlfriend beheaded after she was raped, he says, but he was able break loose and escape from the crime scene.

“The young man is under protection on a Navy ship because we fear for his safety,” said the source in the Colombian Attorney General’s office. According to the investigator, it is very likely that there are more people involved in the murder of the Cubans so it is necessary to protect the main witness.

“The boatmen pleaded not guilty, but the prosecution has sufficient evidence to incriminate them,” the source explained.

Following the arrest of suspects involved in the crime, a search of the travel backpacks of those killed found cell phones, cash and clothes. Also seized were a firearm, a smoke grenade, several pieces of clothing related to the crime scene and a wooden boat in which was one of the shoes of the murdered woman.


The alleged murderers of the two Cuban migrants in Colombia. (Colombian authorities)

The identity of those murdered was corroborated by Cuban authorities. According to what this newspaper has been able to confirm, the United States embassy in Colombia has taken up the issue and expressed interest in granting asylum to the survivor.

Although the Cuban consulate in Bogota declined to comment on the matter, the Colombian Foreign Ministry said they have been in contact with the relatives of those killed through diplomatic representatives in Miami to advise them on the procedure to claim the bodies.

“Colombia will provide all the help needed for repatriation, but this is a matter for the family or the Cuban Embassy. Family members can delegate power to the embassy or manage the process independently,” said the Foreign Ministry.

Making nice with Cuba is a high price to pay for winter sun

One Canadian who gets it. Yes Stephen Flanagan, every word.

Letter to the National Post Editor:

Letters: Making nice with Cuba is a high price to pay for winter sun

Foto: Alberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images
Foto: Alberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images

Re: Cuba’s No Paradise, Christie Blatchford, Sept. 1
I guess ruining misery is objectionable for many Canadians regarding the United States normalizing relations with Cuba. This “paradise” has been under the iron fist of a manipulating despot and his brother for close to half a century (yes, that sure is the definition of democracy). The people have been suffering economically for decades and many of its political prisoners remain in gulags, not counting the ones taken out to be shot.

The health-care system is vastly overrated with many shortages all over the island, of course, with the exception of the Castro palatial grounds which are state of the art. People snitch on others and the secret police continue to instill fear in the population.

If not for Venezuelan oil in return for Cuban military support, the island would be completely destitute. Maybe it all boils down to a lot of people up here fearing not being able to get such a cheap fun in the sun destination in winters to come.
Stephen Flanagan, Ottawa.

Cuba tweet of the day

Benefits of socialism number 9,999. Yes, outrageous.

Via the Twitter account of Cristian Crespo F.

Translation: OUTRAGED CUBANS! @RaulCastroR The world know this: you are a murderer! As is your brother and those who surround #Cuba

The letter shown at the end of the video is the official notice of building non-repair.

They Wanted to be Like Che… and They Are

Cuban vs. Cuban, freedom vs. tyranny. Sad and heartbreaking, tyranny is winning, and Cubans are paying the price as they have for fifty-seven years plus. But never mind, the Americans are coming, the Americans are coming . . .

By Luis Felipe Rojas in Translating Cuba:

They Wanted to be Like Che… and They Are

Members of the Rapid Response Brigade monitoring the national headquarters of the Ladies in White in the Lawton neighborhood of Havana. Photo: A Moya. From MartiNoticias.

Luis Felipe Rojas, 31 August 2016 — Abusers, they beat women in the street, participate in acts of repudiation, and monitor those who think differently. They are the kids of the feared Rapid Response Brigade.

Now they are thirty-somethings. They graduated from Cuban universities, but before they were wearing red bandanas in school, raising their hands to say “We will be like Che”… and they are.

The Honorary Officials (OH) of State Security are a wildcard of repression in the service of the Castro tyranny. They started by betraying their classmates for making a politically tinted joke, or the neighbor who sold rice in the black market, and now they recycle themselves in monitoring posts in the neighborhoods where dissidents and opponents of the Havana regime live.

When the military whistle sounds they turn to kicking women and men who have no more defense than their shouts of “Freedom for the political prisoners! Down with Fidel! Laura Pollan lives!”

They wear tight shirts, cheap knock-off gold-colored watches made in China, and they always wear a frown. This is how they appear in the photos of the most well-known press agencies in the world, such as AP, EFE and REUTERS, but no one can hold them to account. The majority of the western democracies are too focused on picking up the crumbs that let them get a foothold with those who grant permission in Cuba: to site a hotel chain, operate flights, whatever it might be, a little corner of the cake raffled off by the honchos of the Cuban Revolution…

They have traveled the world not precisely to make war like the assassin Che Guevara, but to say they are persecuted politicians, to get a visa to stay or work, and to return with a handful of bills to show off to their fellow countrymen.

They are the sons of communism. Their prize is to sit themselves down in the first little neighborhood joint and raise a national beer, a plate with half a pound of pork and in some cases rent a third-hand car.

They wanted to be like Che… and they are. The shamelessness of the human being has no limits.

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:


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.




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.