It’s official: Venezuela becomes a dictatorship just like Cuba

For years the world has stood by silently as Venezuela’s democratic government has fallen apart and a dictatorship is put in its place under the guiding and manipulating hand of Cuba’s Castro regime. Like Cuba, a once free and prosperous nation has been destroyed and turned into a miserable and oppressive hellhole. And yet some still have the gall to feign surprise.

Francisco Toro in The Washington Post:

It’s official: Venezuela is a full-blown dictatorship


All this year, as they trudged through an unprecedented economic implosion, Venezuelans have been gearing up for what was meant to be the defining political event of the year: a referendum on whether to recall our increasingly loathed authoritarian president, Nicolás Maduro. The tense buildup suddenly ended Thursday as five separate (and supposedly independent, but c’mon now) lower courts approved injunctions to suspend the recall, closing down Venezuela’s last best hope for a peaceful solution to its long-running political crisis.

Even for battle-hardened Venezuelans, it all came as quite a shock. A major signature-gathering drive to officially activate the recall vote was scheduled for next week. Opposition activists were busy preparing their plans to get out their voters to sign. No one, not even the military, seemed to have been expecting this.

Today has been a day of sober reckoning in Caracas, as Venezuelans process the death of the recall process and its implications. It’s easy to overdramatize these things, I realize, but it’s also important not to lose the forest for the trees: a relatively large, relatively sophisticated major oil producer just three hours’ flying time from the United States has just become the second all-out, no-more-elections dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere.

This is serious. A turning point.


We’re rid of the adjectives. We are finally through with the academic circumlocutions.

There’s no need to hyphenate it anymore. Venezuela is just a dictatorship.

Read it all HERE.

Reports from Cuba: Tom Malinowski speaks with the independent Cuban press

Miriam Celaya via Translating Cuba:

Tom Malinowski Speaks with the Independent Cuban Press

Tom Malinowski, Deputy Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Tom Malinowski, Deputy Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 15 October 2016 — The second round of talks on Human Rights took place this past Friday between the governments of Cuba and the United States, as part of the ongoing dialogue initiated when relations were restored.

In line with the importance of the issue and in relation with the relevance that the US government has granted him, this Saturday, Thomas Malinowski — Deputy Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor- who co-chaired the US delegation, together with Mrs. Mari Carmen Aponte, Acting Assistant Secretary for Affairs of the Western Hemisphere — met with independent journalists Ignacio González and Miriam Celaya, to discuss topics that were debated on that occasion.

Unlike the previous meeting held in Washington on March 31, 2015, this time both sides delved deeply into human rights issues, on which they hold opposing positions.

“I don’t expect to be able to persuade the Cuban government about how we consider human rights should be applied in Cuba, but we consider human rights as an important and permanent item on our agenda,” said Malinowski. While acknowledging the opposing stances of the two governments, he considers that these meetings are of great value because, on the one hand, they reflect the common agreement of both governments on addressing that the issue of human rights in the rapprochement process is legitimate; and on the other hand, it has been established that the basis for these freedoms is upheld in international standards that establish the universal character of human rights, recognized and signed by our two countries.

“The result is positive. At least the Cuban government is not refusing to discuss human rights, and does not deny that they are also applicable to Cuba, though the legal interpretation of the principles is defined differently in our countries”.

Both sides discussed related laws and international treaties that confirm the universality and protection of fundamental rights, such as freedom of association, freedom to join unions, and electoral systems, among others. About the last item, the US side fully explained the characteristics of its electoral system and inquired about the Cuban system, particularly the obstacles faced by opponents and critics of the Cuban government to aspire to political office.

“For our part, we recognize that our system is not perfect. But in the US human rights violations are made public, and there are ways and mechanisms to force politicians to fulfill their commitments and obligations”.

Cuban laws, however, are designed so that the Power can manipulate them according to its interests, with no civic or legal mechanisms to force the government to observe the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed in 1948.

Read more

Lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis

The University of Miami’s Dr. Jaime Suchlicki in Focus on Cuba:

1962 --- This newspaper map from the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis shows the distances from Cuba of various cities on the North American Continent. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis

In the autumn of 1962, the Soviet Union surreptitiously introduced nuclear missiles into Cuba. A surprised, embarrassed and angry President John F. Kennedy instituted a blockade of the island and after eleven tense days the Soviet Union withdrew its missiles.

The crisis which brought the world to the brink of a nuclear holocaust–the missiles of October–helped, among other things, to shape the perceptions of American foreign policy leaders toward the Soviet threat and the world. Some of the lessons of that crisis are still with us today.

The first lesson was that there is no substitute for alert and quality intelligence. The United States was surprised by the Soviet gamble, and not until the missiles were in the island and U.S. spy planes had photographed them did the While House discover the magnitude of the challenge and the peril that they represented to U.S. security. While Cubans on the island reported suspicious movement of missiles, U.S. intelligence failed to warn the Kennedy administration in advance of Soviet plans or objectives.

The second lesson was a heightened awareness about the dangers of nuclear weapons. Following the crisis, the United States, the Soviet Union and most countries of the world signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. A direct telephone line was installed for communication between the U.S. President and the Soviet leader, and U.S. withdrawal of some missiles from Turkey and elsewhere followed.

The third lesson was in management of crises. President Kennedy’s careful moves during those tense 11 days averted a nuclear confrontation. While some in this country advocated an invasion of Cuba and the end of the Castro regime, the president preferred a blockade, and diplomacy and negotiation with the Kremlin. As we have learned since, Fidel Castro called on Khrushchev to launch the missiles from Cuba against the United States, an action that would have surely forced a counter-launch not only against Cuba but also the Soviet Union, causing a major world catastrophe.

The fourth lesson is that weakness on the part of the American leadership, or perception of weakness by enemies of this country, usually encourages those enemies to take daring and reckless actions. The single most important event encouraging and accelerating Soviet involvement in Cuba was the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961. The U.S. failure to act decisively against Castro gave the Soviets illusions about U.S. determination and interest in the island. The Kremlin leaders believed that further economic and even military involvement in Cuba would not entail any danger to the Soviet Union itself and would not seriously jeopardize U.S.-Soviet relations. This view was further reinforced by President Kennedy’s apologetic attitude concerning the Bay of Pigs invasion and his generally weak performance during his summit meeting with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna in June of 1961.

Read more

Hope and Change in Obama’s Cuba: Apartheid regime officials get another huge gift from the U.S.

obama raul cuba

It is interesting (but no surprise) that the only people in Cuba who have received any benefit from Obama’s new Cuba policy are the members of the island’s brutally repressive and corrupt apartheid dictatorship. This is what “Hope and Change” looks like in Obama’s Cuba.

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Breathtaking: Obama’s Direct Gift to Cuban Regime Officials

This week, the Federal Register published the Obama Administration’s latest regulatory changes.

Buried in the rule — ignored by the press releases and overlooked by the media — was (perhaps) Obama’s greatest betrayal of the Cuban people.

Towards the end, there’s a section that reads:

Definition of prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba and prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party. OFAC is amending sections 515.337 and 515.338 to narrow the definitions in these sections.”

In summary, the Obama Administration has just opened the the door for the overwhelming majority of Castro regime officials to take advantage of the sanctions relief that was purportedly aimed to “support the Cuban people” — and more specifically, for Cuba’s independent “entrepreneurs.”

It now permits members of the Castro’s Council of State; its puppet legislature; its political prosecutors; local and provincial regime officials; ministry officials; secret police officials (DSE); intelligence officials (DGI); neighborhood repressors (CDR); media and cultural censors (UNEAC); and prison wardens and abusers to enjoy unlimited remittances, gift parcels, U-turn banking transactions, communications devices and to even employ U.S.-based Internet-related services that further their repressive activities.

Note the dramatic change in definitions.

Old Definition:

§515.337 Prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba.

For purposes of this part, the term prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba means Ministers and Vice-ministers, members of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers; members and employees of the National Assembly of People’s Power; members of any provincial assembly; local sector chiefs of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution; Director Generals and sub-Director Generals and higher of all Cuban ministries and state agencies; employees of the Ministry of the Interior (MININT); employees of the Ministry of Defense (MINFAR); secretaries and first secretaries of the Confederation of Labor of Cuba (CTC) and its component unions; chief editors, editors, and deputy editors of Cuban state-run media organizations and programs, including newspapers, television, and radio; and members and employees of the Supreme Court (Tribuno Supremo Nacional).

New Definition:

§515.337 Prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba.

For purposes of this part, the term prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba means members of the Council of Ministers and flag officers of the Revolutionary Armed Forces.

[81 FR 71374, Oct. 17, 2016]

Old Definition:

§515.338 Prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party.

For purposes of this part, the term prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party means members of the Politburo, the Central Committee, Department Heads of the Central Committee, employees of the Central Committee, and secretaries and first secretaries of the provincial Party central committees.

New Definition:

§515.338 Prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party.

For purposes of this part, the term prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party means members of the Politburo.

[81 FR 71374, Oct. 17, 2016]

Whether it’s pallets of cash for Iran’s mullahs or gifts for Cuba’s dictatorship, let’s dispel this notion that the Obama Administration cares about human rights or the well-being of those captive nation’s people.

This is about Obama kowtowing to the world’s most brutal regimes — at whatever cost — with the hopes of creating a political “legacy.”

Surprise! Castro regime stifles reports on Hurricane Matthew damage

State secret

As if more proof were needed, here is another instance of the kind of behavior that has earned the Castro regime a ranking as one of the most oppressive in the world.

The damage inflicted by Hurricane Matthew has become a state secret, as is usually the case with any disaster.

Those who dare to report on the situation are arrested.

And, alongside this particular bout of repression, the Castro regime continues to step up its harassment of independent journalists.

Off limits

From Reporters Without Borders:

Crackdown on media includes ban on Hurricane Matthew coverage

Cuba is ranked 171st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index – the lowest position in Latin America.

The arrests of journalists trying to inform fellow citizens about the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Matthew’s passage over eastern Cuba on 4 October are the latest example of how the Cuban government continues its harassment of independent journalism. Their reporting clearly did not please the authorities

Maykel González Vivero, a journalist working for the Diario de Cuba news website, was arrested in the eastern city of Baracoa on 10 October while interviewing people about hurricane damage and was held for three days. He had just been fired from state-owned Radio Sagua for working for independent media.

On 11 October, it was the turn of six members of the Havana-based Periodismo de Barrio news website, include its director, Elaine Díaz, to be arrested while visiting Baracoa to cover the aftermath of the hurricane. Their equipment was confiscated for several hours.

According to the authorities, the journalists were arrested under the state of emergency proclaimed by President Raúl Castro on 4 October, which supposedly prohibited journalistic reporting without special authorization. But for the state of emergency to be valid, it should have been accompanied by a resolution defining how and in what regions of the country it was to be applied. No such resolution was ever formally issued by the authorities.

There is no shortage of subjects that are off-limits for unauthorized media outlets. Reinaldo Escobar, a journalist with the 14ymedio website, was unable to cover the inauguration of the first regular flight between the United States and Cuba. He was arrested in Santa Clara on 31 august for doing “enemy journalism” and was forcibly escorted back to Havana.

Continue reading HERE

for more photos go HERE


The war waged by Castro dictatorship on Cuba’s private restaurants gets sophisticated

Elias Amor reports in Diario de Cuba:

The war on Cuba’s ‘paladares’: The regime’s campaign against private initiative grows more sophisticated

A private restaurant in Havana
A private restaurant in Havana

Observers and analysts have been discussing the Castro regime’s decision to temporarily ban new licenses to open small restaurants (paladares) in Havana, run by entrepreneurs. At the same time a warning has been issued to those already operating that they will be subject to stricter controls, with the initiation of a process of summons that will instruct violators regarding regulation violations, including “evading taxes, buying supplies on the black market or operating illegal clubs and bars. ”

Limiting supply on any market is a public policy measure with very negative effects on the population, with results that are just the opposite of those it pursues, even in economies like Cuba’s under Castro in which the market delivers only a portion of goods and services, with the State playing a major role in the their provisioning.

This absolutely unexpected decision by the regime flies in the face of information indicating an increase in tourists and travellers, constituting a market with a growing need for dining services. The Castro regime’s war against Cuba’s paladares is nothing new. Whenever any type of private economic activity flourishes on the Island, reactionary Stalin-like measures are adopted to show who is in control of the economy. What has happened with the paladares is just more of the same.

Its immediate effects will be:

  1. Stifling one of the possible channels for economic emancipation, supposedly opened up by the “Guidelines.”
  2. Limiting the supply of popular food offerings, which will increase the prices of those that continue to operate on the market.
  3. Directly benefitting suppliers (State and hotels) that were struggling to compete with small restaurants.
  4. Curtailing growth in the supply of agricultural products for entrepreneurs, thereby raising consumer prices.
  5. Reducing the entry of “mules” with intermediate goods for small restaurants that were having trouble obtaining supplies on domestic markets.
  6. Frustrating expectations and personal projects.
  7. Bolstering administrative/political control over economic activity.
  8. Cutting job creation at these establishments.
  9. Hampering the sector’s evolution towards specialization, diversification and improved productivity.
  10. Producing a decline in tax revenues.

The main difference between the current campaign against the paladares and previous efforts is that the regime’s initiative against private enterprise in Cuba is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Thus, the meetings to which owners of paladares are summoned are attended by “Popular Power” representatives from Havana and various State institutions, such as the National Tax Administration Office (ONAT) and the ubiquitous State Security. And, as stated by some of those called to these meetings, they are told that the paladares are important to the economy, and that the irregularities are not only found at private businesses, but also State operations too. To date, however, the bulk of the administrative pressure has fallen on the former.

Continue reading HERE.

White House grants Castro regime permission to buy on credit, tries to make this illegal act “irreversible”

Obamanoid gothic

Midwestern farmers, shout for joy!  Hallelujah!

Hey, Mildred, take a look at this wonderful piece of news!

Finally, we’ll be able to sell our wheat, corn, soybeans, cheese, and pork bellies to Cuba on credit!  Yee-haw!

We’ll be rich, Mildred, I tell ya, richer than Trump!

And those Cubans will buy our stuff on credit, get fat, and never, ever pay a cent for what we sell ’em.

Yep, Mildred, we’ll be richer than the Facebook guy and the Microsoft guy, richer than the Amazon guy –Bezos — who has a Cuban stepfather,  richer than the Clintons too!

And those cigar ladies in Cuba –you know, those mammy-type black women who pose for photos — they’ll get fat too, and look just like Aunt Jemima!

Yep, yep, God bless America, Mildred, when the Cubans refuse to pay us for the stuff we sold them on credit, the U.S. government will step in and cover the Cuban debt.

Thank you, Obama!  Thanks for ignoring U.S. law, Obama.  Thanks for makin’ sure that it will be okay to break the law forever, and to make U.S. taxpayers pay us for the stuff we sell to Cuba on credit!

And oh, Mildred, my sweet, sweet Mildred, thanks be to God that Hillary will be our next president.

She’ll be even better for us Midwestern farmers than Obama!

From Wisconsin Ag Connection:

White House Loosens Regulations on Cuba Exports of Agricultural Products

Last Friday, the Obama Administration announced the next steps in further loosening the U.S. sanctions against Cuba, continuing the process of normalization that the Administration hopes to make permanent before leaving office. Americans have been authorized to bring back rum and cigars from Cuba, for personal use. However, for agriculture, the excitement is in an expansion of exports for goods such as farm equipment and pesticides.

According to the National Association of Wheat Growers, these new amendments allow exporters to avoid cash-in-advance requirements for transactions involving agricultural commodities that have caused significant barriers. The loosening of restrictions in trade with Cuba provides an opportunity for American wheat growers to take advantage of the available Caribbean market, in the face of declining prices and market surplus.

With foreign competitors taking advantage of the Cuban wheat import market, American growers welcome this announcement that will help decrease financial barriers and regulations that have restricted US wheat access for decades. NAWG President Gordon Stoner said that ‘one of the solutions to boosting the sagging farm economy is increased trade.’

The group supports efforts to liberalize trade with Cuba by loosening regulations on products exported out of the country and encourages Congress and the Obama Administration to continue on the path towards ending the embargo.

Winners of Normalization Circus lottery

Lobbyist offers Clinton $5,000, asks for White House access to advocate for trade with Cuba’s apartheid regime

For Cuba’s corrupt Castro dictatorship, the government corruption in Washington D.C. offers a myriad of opportunities.

JP Carroll in The Daily Caller:

Email: Lobbyist Asks For Meeting With Valerie Jarrett And Offers $5,000 To Clinton Aide


In an email to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, a lobbyist working on U.S. relations with Cuba asked for a meeting with Valerie Jarrett and offered $5,000 for a campaign event.

Luke Albee, a Senior Advisor with advocacy group Engage Cuba, wrote in an email to Podesta, “its [sic] time to move on to the next Obama legacy item: Cuba,” according to Wikileaks. “Can you help me and my two partners get an audience with Valerie Jarrett so we can talk through harnessing the business community on this?” Albee asked in the email.

Engage Cuba is “the leading coalition of private companies and organizations working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba” and “the only organization whose primary focus is U.S.-Cuba legislative advocacy,” according to their website. The organization also claims that they “have the largest bipartisan lobbying operation working on U.S.-Cuba policy.”

Albee likely asked Podesta to arrange a meeting with Valerie Jarrett because she is Senior Advisor to President Obama and is seen as a member of his inner circle. The June 2015 email goes on to specifically admit that Engage Cuba has “up to 46 co-sponsors on the travel bill — and [is] going to need help getting it over the line.”

At the end of the email, Albee writes, “I am happy to come early and chop for you at the Leahy event.” This is likely a reference to Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont who strongly supports normalizing relations with Cuba. Albee served as Sen. Leahy’s Chief of Staff from 1993 to 2004.

“I think our new pro-engagement pac can contribute $5k to the event,” Albee wrote in the email.

Continue reading HERE.

The transition of Venezuela to a total dictatorship by Cuba almost complete

After yesterday’s events in Venezuela, the transition to a complete totalitarian dictatorship in that country by Cuba’s Castro regime is nearly complete.

Via Reuters:

Venezuela electoral body suspends referendum drive, opposition fumes

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (C) receives military honors at Maiquetia airport, in Caracas, Venezuela October 20, 2016. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

Venezuela’s electoral authority on Thursday suspended the next phase of a recall referendum against unpopular President Nicolas Maduro, sparking outcry from the opposition who accused the Socialist government of dictatorial tactics.

The oil-rich country is mired in a brutal economic crisis that has families skipping meals amid food shortages and triple-digit inflation. Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader elected three years ago to replace late leader Hugo Chavez, has seen his popularity tumble in hand with the recession.

His foes had vowed to push for a recall referendum against him this year, which, if successful would have triggered fresh presidential elections that polls show Maduro would lose.

The election board had already said there would be no such vote this year, and appeared to put the final nail in the coffin on Thursday night.

Citing court orders, the electoral body said in a statement it was suspending next week’s signature drive to collect around 4 million signatures and trigger the vote.

Earlier on Thursday, Venezuelan ruling party officials said several regional courts had voided an earlier signature drive by the opposition, due to fraud allegations.

“We hope that justice will be served and that those responsible for this swindle will be detained,” said Socialist Party No. 2 Diosdado Cabello during a political rally on Thursday.

The Democratic Unity coalition blasted the decision, adding it would outline its action plan on Friday.

“We have a government of thieves using power to maintain itself,” opposition lawmaker Jorge Millan said on Twitter.

“But in the street the people are demanding a recall, and no one will stop us!”

The opposition needed a referendum this year because under Venezuela’s constitutional rules, should Maduro lose a plebiscite next year, his vice president would take over rather than there being a new election, denying the opposition their opportunity to take power after 17 years of socialism.

Maduro’s rivals warn that by preventing a democratic solution to the crisis, the government is stoking chances of unrest in violent Venezuela.

“The government is pushing a very dangerous scenario in which the crisis worsens,” opposition leader and two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles said on Twitter.

Earlier this week, Venezuela’s election board delayed an election for state governorships to 2017 from December, giving the government more breathing room before going to the polls..

(Reporting by Corina Pons and Alexandra Ulmer; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Peter Cooney, Andrew Cawthorne and Michael Perry)

No intelligence will be shared with Cuba’s dictatorship vows Senate Intelligence Committee Chair

Franco Ordoñez and Anna Douglas via In Cuba Today:

Chair of Senate Intelligence: We will not share intelligence with Cuba

Eloy Angulo, 79, a former Cuban political prisoner, protests outside the Cafe Versailles in Little Havana
Eloy Angulo, 79, a former Cuban political prisoner, protests outside the Cafe Versailles in Little Havana

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said it’s dangerous for the United States to considering sharing intelligence with a country that is so closely tied with Russia and Iran.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C, criticized a White House directive that instructs the U.S. director of national intelligence to cooperate with Cuban intelligence counterparts. Burr said the United States would alert any country of a possible imminent terrorist threat, but he said the United States should not be providing intelligence to any country that might share it with adversaries.

“I don’t think as long as I’m chairman of the committee, that the intelligence community is going to be in an intelligence sharing relationship with Cuba,” Burr said.

The little-known directive has raised concerns among South Florida Cuban Americans who are intimately aware of the Castro’s government past success spying on the United States government. But others feel that the United States could and should share a limited amount of information with the Cuban government much like it shares some terrorism related information with adversaries like Russia.

The Obama administration says the directive is intended to combat “mutual threats.”

Read more at InCubaToday.

My mother needs to teach in our colleges


(My new American Thinker post)

This is so crazy that I am speechless.   It appears that our young people, known as millennials these days, are completely ignorant of communism.   Let me show you this from Market Watch:

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, citing survey results released on Monday, blames widespread ignorance for the relatively positive views millennials have toward socialism and communism.

Of the 2,300 Americans polled by YouGov, 80% of baby boomers and 91% of the elderly agree with the statement that “communism was and still is a problem” in the world today. Millennials?  Only 55%.

The insanity continues with many millennials believing that President George W. Bush killed more people than Stalin.   Incredibly, Stalin was known as “The butcher of Ukraine” to many Russians who actually know the history of the 20th century.

What an indictment of our educational system. What are we teaching our young people about an ideology that killed millions of people in the 20th century?

It is also further proof that our schools are too caught up in political correctness, or even moral equivalency. It is one thing to teach history, such as the Soviet revolution or Mao’s Long March or the Cuban Missile Crisis, but it’s quite another to compare Lenin to George Washington.

In other words, there are good and bad guys in history. And there is nothing wrong with millennials hearing that we are the good guys and the communists are not. It is our absence to say these things that has a bunch of millennials confused about the real history.

My mother, who came here from Cuba with my late father, is furious to hear that millennials are so ignorant.   She has offered to tutor them for free with real human stories about communism.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.