Join the Vigil to Protest the Obama-Castro Pact

Cuban Memorial

Here is a call to join a vigil to protest the Obama-Castro pact. The late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Let’s heed his powerful message, and join ranks in this vigil.

When: Thursday, January 22, 2015 starts at 5:00 PM

Where: Cuban Memorial, Tamiami Park 11201 SW 24 Street, Miami, FL (Next to FIU)

Who: Organized by the Cuban Resistance Assembly

“Las monjas se van a enojar con Obama” for spying on Pope Francis

I hope that they didn’t tell President Obama about this one:

“The National Security Agency spied on the future Pope Francis before and during the Vatican conclave at which he was chosen to succeed Benedict XVI, it was claimed on Wednesday.

The American spy agency monitored telephone calls made to and from the residence in Rome where the then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio stayed during the conclave, the secret election at which cardinals chose him as pontiff on March 13.

The claims were made by Panorama, an Italian weekly news magazine, which said that the NSA monitored the telephone calls of many bishops and cardinals at the Vatican in the lead-up to the conclave, which was held amid tight security in the Sistine Chapel.

The information gleaned was then reportedly divided into four categories — “leadership intentions”, “threats to financial system”, “foreign policy objectives” and “human rights”.

At that time, Benedict XVI was Pope, suggesting that the Vatican may also have been monitored during the last few weeks of his papacy.”

My guess is that the White House will distance President Obama from this.

It’s one thing to get the Germans or the Europeans angry.  It’s quite another thing to spy on the Pope before he became Pope.

This is not going to go down well with Catholic nuns!  Watch for the nuns to lineup outside the White House ready to slap President Obama’s hands.

Let me tell you something from personal experience.  There is nothing more scary in the planet than an angry nun with a ruler!

P.S. By the way, I miss Alvarez-Guedes on days like this one!  Can you imagine what he would say about the President of the US spying on a bishop waiting to become Pope?

 

Maduro “esta muy podrido” in Venezuela!

President Maduro of Venezuela may want to shoot that little “Hugo bird” who speaks to him from time to time.   Can you blame Maduro if he grabs the little bird by the neck and strangles him?

According to The NY Times, the people of Venezuela are not really into Maduro.  On the contrary, they miss Hugo, or at least “the Hugo of their dreams”:

“Prices are soaring, the country is plagued by electrical blackouts, some neighborhoods go days without water, and protests tangle the already stifling traffic. To top it all off, the cheap beer that helps people let off steam at many a weekend party has suddenly become scarce, too.

Nearly seven months after the death of Hugo Chávez, the country’s longtime leftist president and father figure, there is a growing sense that things are falling apart.”

To be fair, Venezuela’s problems were “Made by Hugo” all the way.  It was Chavez’ policies, from reckless spending to a horrible case of cronyism and corruption, that brought the country to this situation.

In other words, it did not start with Maduro but life is not fair specially when you hitch your wagon to a corrupt man like Hugo Chavez.

The problems in the country are rather severe and I am not talking about a shortage of toilet paper:

“Inflation in the first eight months of this year was more than triple the rate in the same period last year. When measured over the 12 months that ended in August, it exceeded 45 percent.

A government indicator that measures the scarcity of basic goods is close to its highest level in more than five years.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not defending President Maduro, a man who was “questionably” elected earlier this year after Chavez was officially pronounced dead.

All of these difficulties in the nation raise a legitimate question:  Will Maduro survive?

My opinion is that he won’t, no matter how many times he expels US diplomats or tells us that he had visions of Hugo.

Maduro probably wishes that they had kept Hugo connected to that life machine a bit longer.

Frankly, the end of Maduro is coming and it won’t be pretty.  I just hope that someone at the Obama White House is on top of events in Latin America.   Venezuela could come apart soon and Washington needs to be alert.

P.S. You can hear our chat about Colombia, Venezuela and other US-Latin America stories here.

Syria? How about regime change in Venezuela?

 We are all focused on Syria and the Middle East. I just hope that someone in this White House is watching the events in Venezuela.

We just saw two stories from Venezuela that home the reality that the country is falling apart and freedoms are disappearing. The “Cubanization” of Venezuela is off and running. As they used to say in Cuba: “Para atras ni pa’ coger impulso”!

President Maduro has just announced that the government launched a news network to tell the public the truth about the situation in the country:

“Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced on Tuesday at a public event that the Government would launch a “Truth News Broadcast” via mandatory radio and television broadcasts to air his Administration performance. The newscast will be broadcasted at noon and in prime time.

Venezuelan opposition denounces that mandatory radio and television broadcasts constitute misuse of power by the Government, in addition to using state-run media for propaganda.

For its part, the Venezuelan Government argues that mandatory radio and television broadcasts are a necessary tool to broadcast its messages, in order to counteract the alleged “censorship” the private media apply against government events and achievements.”

A government news channel to tell the truth? is that like Granma in Cuba or Pravda in the old USSR?

Mandatory listening? Is that like everyone going down to hear “el comandante” at la Plaza de la Revolucion?

The second story is a statement by Mario Vargas-Llosa:

“Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa is “very concerned” over the direction Venezuela has taken over the last years, and remarked that the country “is a total disaster, a real chaos; where demagogy, corruption, and violence abound.”

“(Venezuela) is a country that, instead of moving forward, is going backwards; it features the highest inflation rate in Latin America,” Vargas Llosa remarked in an interview with news agency Efe apropos the publication of his new novel “El héroe discreto (The discreet hero)” in Spain, Latin America, and the United States. As usual, the writer seized the opportunity to give his opinion about current issues.

He asserted that, unlike his country, Peru, and other Latin American countries, whose economic situation have improved; Venezuela is “a negative exception” to that outlook.

“Venezuela’s case is rather tragic,” the writer asserted. He is also worried about Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro maintaining “the messianic ideas” of his predecessor (late President Hugo Chávez) to turn Venezuela “into a headlight, an example” for other countries.

“However, I’m afraid that Venezuela is rather the exception to the rule. Nowadays, there are more countries in Latin America where democracy is developing, featuring modern economic policies which are leading to progress and development,” Vargas Llosa remarked.”

Venezuela is on unsustainable path and there are some very bad days ahead.

Regime change in Syria? How about Venezuela?

The US needs to consider sanctions against Venezuela, specially given the real evidence that the country is eliminating freedoms and its economy is falling apart.

P.S. Listen here to our with Comandante Cazorla in Venezuela, a member of the opposition.

Washington, DC Organization to Honor Cuban Patriot on July 17th

Liberation Paya Sign
The National Endowment for Democracy will honor young leaders from Pakistan, Russia, Zimbabwe, and Cuba on Wednesday, July 17, 2013, in the Caucus Room 345 of the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC. At 4:00 PM, there will be a panel discussion entitled “Our Democratic Future: the role of youth in advancing democracy,” while a reception and award presentation will follow at 5:30 PM.

Representing a Cuba Libre will be the late Harold Cepero (1980-2012).

Harold was the leader of the youth wing of Cuba’s Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), the group that organized the Varela project — a citizen petition movement that called for a popular referendum to establish the foundation for a democratic system in Cuba. With more than 25,000 Cubans publicly signing the petition, the Varela Project became one of the most creative challenges to the country’s totalitarian rulers. On July 22, 2012, Cepero was killed in a suspicious car crash along with Cuba’s most prominent democratic activist and founder of the MCL, Oswaldo Payá.

Rosa María Payá Acevedo, another young leader of the MCL and the daughter of Oswaldo Payá, will accept the award on behalf of Cepero and the Christian Liberation Movement.

I call on Cuban-Americans in the Washington, DC area to show our respect to the cause of a Free Cuba by attending and registering for this event at http://2013democracyaward.eventbrite.com/

 

The Pure Brilliance of Dr. Benjamin Carson – UPDATED

A good friend suggested I look into the CSPAN video of the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast from this morning, and fast forward to the address from Dr. Benjamin Carson, director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

In under a half hour this learned and accomplished man said more and made more solid sense than Obama has in his entire adult life building for himself a political career. Dr. Carson knows what this nation was built on. He knows how this nation is supposed to run. He knows how the people of this nation are supposed to be a part of it. And he makes no apologies or excuses for his bluntness that these key things are not being done and that is why we are failing. He even says political correctness is a major problem in this country. You cannot help but feel and know Dr. Carson’s words and parables were aimed at Obama and at the Washington D.C. elected class on both sides of the aisle. The man, in my friend’s words, is a national treasure. More people should hear from Dr. Benjamin Carson. Here is your chance…

Rush Limbaugh: “Sleepy Obama Sits Through Prayer Breakfast Where Dr. Benjamin Carson Blasts Obamacare”

Keith Koffler @ White House Dossier: “Obama Treated to a Full Plate of Conservative Thought”

Twitchy: “ICYMI: Dr. Benjamin Carson’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast”

UPDATE: Excerpts from the movie “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story”

You can view the entire movie here on YouTube.

Hollywood premier of ¨Soy La Otra Cuba¨ at Macha Theatre

CUBAN CULTURAL NIGHT

Macha Theatre part of Macha Theatre/Films, presents Cuban Cultural Night, celebrating Cuba’s independence from Spain, with the premier of the documentary “I Am The Other Cuba” (Soy La Otra Cuba) which sheds light on the current state of Cuba, its revolutionary past, and its uncertain path toward an unknown future. Featuring interviews with a variety of Cuban dissidents, Italian filmmaker Pierantonio Maria Miccirelli touches on subjects ranging from the ever-present struggle for freedom, to the “myth of the revolution,” and a visit to the Ladies in White, a group of peaceful opposition women seeking a change to democracy, and a civil society.

Marti in Chains – a special monologue in remembrance of Jose Marti written by documentary producer Odalys Nanin and performed by Florenciani, will be performed prior to the show.

After the screening, delicious appetizers from the famous PORTOS Cuban Bakery will be served.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or discounted at: WWW. GOLDSTAR.COM

Special thanks to Gordiano Lupi.

In Spanish below the fold.

Read more

The Diaz-Balarts in Tampa — Photos from a Babalú reader

Earlier this month, we let you know about a “Meeting with the Cuban community in Tampa, Florida / Reaffirmation of the struggle for Cuba’s freedom” that would take place today. According to the initial press release, it would be a meeting of:

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Congressman David Rivera (R-FL), former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart,  members of patriotic Cuban-American organizations in Tampa and former Cuban political prisoners.

In that post, we solicited photos from anyone who might be able to attend. Babalú readers came through!

Here are some photos from reader Omar Díaz:

Meeting with the Cuban community in Tampa, Florida (1)
From left: Oscar Rodriguez, fmr. president of La Casa Cuba de Tampa; Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart; Alfredo Moreno current president of La Casa Cuba de Tampa; Lincoln Diaz-Balart; Ana Carbonell

Meeting with the Cuban community in Tampa, Florida

Omar summarized the event and the Diaz-Balarts remarks this way:

The bros. each spoke of the present day of Cuba under the dictatorship with Lincoln talking about the twitter note he read recently of the activist whose young daughter was beaten up by state security agents. They both quoted Churchill’s never give in when speaking of negotiating with Castro’s shmafia (shit + Mafia). I made that one up.
Their message was one of hope for Cuba’s future and the need for the exiles to maintain a hard line.

The brothers each spoke of present day Cuba under the dictatorship, with Lincoln talking about a tweet he read recently of the activist whose young daughter was beaten up by state security agents.

Their message was one of hope for Cuba’s future and the need for the exiles to maintain a hard line.

As a bonus, Omar sent us this photo of Cuban bread at a nearby bakery.

Gratuitous photos of Cuban bread at a Tampa bakery (Photo by Omar Díaz)
Gratuitous photo of Cuban bread at a Tampa bakery (Photo by Omar Díaz)

Many thanks to Omar for these contributions.

FYI: meeting in Tampa on struggle for Cuba’s freedom on August 30 (with the Diaz-Balarts and David Rivera)

If you’re in Tampa on August 30, this might be of interest to you. If you make it out, please do let us know how it goes and send us any photos of videos you can get.

From Diaz-Balart, PLLC:

PRESS RELEASE

WHAT: Meeting with the Cuban community in Tampa, Florida / Reaffirmation of the struggle for Cuba’s freedom

WHO: Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Congressman David Rivera (R-FL), former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart,  members of patriotic Cuban-American organizations in Tampa and former Cuban political prisoners.

WHEN: Thursday, August 30th, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.

WHERE: El Club Civico Cubano, 10905 Memorial Highway, Tampa, FL 33615

COMUNICADO DE PRENSA

QUE: Reunión con la comunidad cubana de Tampa y acto de reafirmación patriótica por la libertad de Cuba.

QUIEN: El Congresista Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), el Congresista David Rivera (R-FL), el ex-Congresista Lincoln Diaz-Balart, miembros de organizaciones patrióticas cubanas en Tampa y ex-presos políticos cubanos

CUANDO: El jueves, 30 de agosto de 2012 a las 3:00 pm

DONDE: El Club Cívico Cubano, 10905 Memorial Highway, Tampa, FL 33615

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Cuba Nostalgia 2011 – Structure built with more blood (or is it rust?)

Babalu Blog at Cuba Nostalgia 2011

Earlier this evening I went over to the Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds, location of the Cuba Nostalgia 2011 show, to supervise the building of the Babalu Blog Pavilion. Our dear Ziva, picked up earlier in the afternoon by our Founding Editor, was there to assist me in the strenuous, stressful — and often back-breaking — work of supervision. Val and Alberto, in fine form, completed their work in record time with a minimum of fuss and bother, although there was kvetching. That was to be expected. Here are the two of them hard at work putting the finishing touches on the structure:

IMG_0766

I’m happy to report that very little supervision with no disciplinary action was needed this year. After completing his work, and with the authorization of the Union Shop Steward, of course, Val took a well-deserved beer break. And another. And another.

IMG_0768

Our space this year is greatly expanded, thanks to the generosity of the organizers of Cuba Nostalgia. The new look for the structure is aimed at serving the authors and documentarians we have on hand this year.

One final note. There was one incident that we are still puzzled by: Is this blood Alberto has on his shirt or is it rust? We may never know, because Alberto is being coy about it, but it’s documented here for posterity.

IMG_0767

Cuba Nostalgia – My Big, Fat, Cuban Family Edition

Although most of the Babalú contributors are located in Miami, there are some of us who traveled from the West Coast to attend Cuba Nostalgia.

There is plenty of sweat and tears that go into setting up the Babalú Booth, but once the first family members arrive with pastelitos and café, it all becomes worth it (Yes, Val, you know it’s true).

Between keeping the posts coming on the site and connecting with the amazing people that share their Cuban stories, we get to hang out and just be together. This is usually the one time of the year we are all in the same place, but it never feels like a whole year has gone by.

We slip easily into the familiar rhythms of conversation. Regular readers stop by to give us hugs and tell us how much they appreciate what we do. It’s quite the love-fest.

People bring food and take photos and there’s a lot of friendly banter. Of course, we talk politics, and try to further the cause of freedom in Cuba, in between bites of croquetas. But we also give and get lots of hugs, and we openly express our appreciation for one another.

It feels very much like a wonderful family reunion.

And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Babalu family portrait

(Amanda, Ziva, Alberto, Marta, Val, Pitbull)