The latest on US-Cuba talks with Jorge Ponce

GUEST:  Jorge Ponce, Cuban American writer and contributor to Babalu Blog…..we will look at the latest developments in the on-going US-Cuba talks…..we will also get Jorge’s perspective on government employees using personal accounts to do business….Jorge spent over 35 years in the US federal government….and is the Obama administration out to get Senator Menendez for criticism of US-Cuba talks….

Click to listen:

Alain Castillo remembers a very sad day

Alain Castillo is a young Cuban American living in Texas.  This is what he wrote today to remember the events of February 24, 1996.   It’s great that a young man like Alain is writing about Cuba.  It’s a pleasure to introduce you to Alain….



Today marks the 19th anniversary of the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down.

As we carry on this day and remember those brave heroes who risked their lives to save others, I reminisce on the impact that this caused in my life in Miami and the US.

At home, my dad would at times yell at the television set whenever a picture of Fidel or Raul Castro was shown. And although the news reports were critical, he took the time to scream obscenities to these monsters because of the pain that they caused him and our family.

Nonetheless, he had a right to do it without political retribution – not economic plight—because none of his neighbors would tell state police. We were in the decent part of Hialeah, Florida—no less.

One of the best things that I remember was how he taught me to know about Cuba’s history and politics and in essence, be part of the struggle. The first major event that I can say I was a part of was the debate between the communist dictatorship’s Ricardo Alarcon and Cuban American National Foundation’s Jorge Mas Canosa in 1994.

Yet, what impacted me the most in that time period was the shoot down of four civilian, unarmed planes from the Brothers to the Rescue.

To me, this was one of the most horrific and in-your-face atrocities that any government can do to Americans. This was an example of extreme terrorism pre-9/11 and it has never been officially condemned by the US government and prosecuted in International Court.

At the time I attended Ben Sheppard Annex, a public elementary school, which housed fifth graders from the area for that year. (Miami Dade Public School had zoning and budget issues back then.)

Within a few days of the shoot down, our school held a gathering where all the fifth grade students and teachers attended. The student and teacher population was predominantly Cuban-American, but we had students and teachers from different backgrounds, including many African-American, Mexican-American, Dominican-American and African-American, Jamaican-American and Anglo-American teachers as well.

Yet, for that time period, we were all Cuban Americans, standing next to each other in prayer and in silence remembering and honoring the four victims of a grave injustice: Armando Alejandre Jr., Mario de la Pena, Carlos Acosta and Pablo Morales.

We sat down, with a sunny-day over us, in memoriam of the lives taken over international waters. Although we never knew them, we were all saddened by the news and were taught how to show solidarity and union to support the fallen pilots.

In recent years, Telemundo 8 in Miami continued investigating the shoot down and found a Cuban MiG radio communication that broadcasted the celebratory reaction of these Cuban pilots who shot them down.

We know that General Raul Castro gave the order because at the time no one flies without his permission. In essence, no one shoots without his permission either.

Why has this not been officially condemned by the US government at the time and now?

In 1996, the Clinton Administration was involved in their own politics in Central and Southeastern Europe with another tyrannical egomaniac (Slobodan Milosevic—remember him?), genocide in Africa and a re-election campaign in the US.

To them, the Cuban problem, despite its proximity, would be another intolerant and turbulent black hole.
Instead, evidence and the courts condemned to lengthy prison terms the spies that infiltrated the Brothers to the Rescue organization who have – you guessed it—been released as part of the new “course” on Cuba.

Yet, given this new life-line given to the Cuban government for free, America can still act bold and take advantage of the situation. Although the key figures of the shoot down were trialed, jailed and now released, the US can use this in the bargaining table.

So given the mulligan, will the US take the ball and run with it and condemn Raul Castro, or will they fumble?

Will the real US please stand up?


Who is the winner in the Obama/Raul match?

Boxing MatchWhen you throw the first punch in a fight, your chances of winning are enhanced. Nevertheless, you would be responsible for any collateral damage that you may have caused.

With the above in mind, Cuban Government officials threw the first punch when they confiscated the holdings of U.S. businesses shortly after Fidel rose to power in 1959 – which originally were valued at $1.8 billion, and which at 6 percent simple interest translates to nearly $7 billion in 2014.

Statements made in the U.S. media outlets indicating that the purpose of the U.S. embargo was regime change are nothing more that the Castro propaganda machine in full swing. Even President Obama has fallen victim to this propaganda by repeating the Castro mantra in his speeches.

You would think that any opening with Cuba would entail the compensation of the $7 billion owed to U.S. businesses. After all, if the President of the United States cannot look after its own citizens, then who will? Obama did not make these property claims a condition precedent to the normalization of diplomatic relations with the rogue, Castro regime. He should have!

President Obama is about to find out why it is not wise to negotiate with dictators from a position of weakness. There have been many Cuban-Americans who have criticized the President for the unilateral concessions made to the Cuban Government and with getting very little in return. They rightly have argued that the big winner in these negotiations has been Raul Castro.

Well, Dictator Raul Castro demanded the U.S. Government on January 28, 2015, for the return of Guantanamo Base. But, even more outrageous, Raul demanded that the U.S. Government compensate the Cuban Government for the losses caused by the U.S. embargo – which, according to a Cuban official on September 10, 2014, amounted to $1.1 trillion.

Delusional, right???!!! So, Raul wants to be rewarded for stealing from U.S. business owners. Indeed, these claims would be delusional to anyone with a logical mind!

President Obama’s reasoning for his Cuba opening was to enhance his legacy. With Raul’s demands announced today, I don’t think that the President would want to be remembered for this initiative. In fact, “History Will Not Absolve Obama” for putting his alleged interests over the interests of Americans.