A moderate earthquake rocked Cuba Tuesday morning, according to reports. The quake struck about 50 miles away from the southeast coast, with tremors felt about 100 miles away from the epicenter in cities including Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo, Palma Soriano and Bayamo, Earthquake Track reported.
The earthquake hit at 4:08 a.m. local time nearly seven miles beneath the earth’s surface. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake was 5.4-magnitude. However, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) estimated a preliminary magnitude of 5.7.
There were no immediate reports of injuries of major damages caused by the quake. However, the its magnitude was felt by people near the epicenter and surrounding cities, many of whom reported on social media about experiencing aftershock tremors.
The Madness of the Obama Administration: Sharing law enforcement information with an outlaw regime
A counterproductive agreement
The Office of the Spokesperson at the U.S. Department of State issued a statement that “On January 16, the United States and Cuba signed a bilateral Law Enforcement Memorandum of Understanding to deepen law enforcement cooperation and information sharing.” Let that sink in for a moment. The United States is sharing law enforcement information with an outlaw regime that in the span of the past four years has been exposed: smuggling tons of heavy weapons to North Korea and Colombia in violation of international sanctions; acquiring a U.S. hellfire missile then refusing to return it to the U.S. for over a year; linked to drug smuggling in Venezuela and a shipment of cocaine intercepted at the Panama Canal; and was only taken off the list of state terror sponsors in 2015 because of the Obama Administration’s normalization drive.
Despite all this the Obama Administration has agreed that “under this memorandum, the United States and Cuba will continue the Law Enforcement Dialogue process, which includes technical exchanges on specific law enforcement issues of mutual concern such as counternarcotics, money laundering, fraud and human smuggling, and counterterrorism.”
Sadly, human trafficking experts have called out the Obama Administration and the State Department for watering down its human trafficking report for political reasons in order to give Cuba a better score than it actually warrants.
The U.S. State Department signed a new agreement on law enforcement cooperation with Cuba on Monday, seeking to further deepen ties with the communist island just four days before the end of the Obama administration.
The agreement outlines U.S.-Cuban cooperation on a wide range of criminal and security-related issues, including terrorism, narcotics, cyber-security, immigration, money laundering, smuggling and human trafficking.
Notably, the agreement did not include a return of U.S. fugitives that Cuba has harbored, including New Jersey cop killers, Black Panther hijackers and Puerto Rican terrorists. Cuba’s continued protection of those fugitives has been a major source of congressional opposition to President Obama’s Cuban policy.
The State Department had previously confirmed that the return of those fugitives was part of the talks with Cuba, but State Department officials did not return requests for comment Monday, a federal holiday in the United States.
The agreement was signed by the de facto U.S. ambassador in Havana, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, and the Cuban minister of the Interior, Julio César Gandarilla. Also present: Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, the architect of Obama’s policy restoring diplomatic ties to Cuba in 2014 after a six-decade freeze.
The agreement comes just a few days after the Department of Homeland Security announced that it has ended the two-decade-old “wet-foot/dry foot” policy, meaning Cubans who safely reach U.S. soil will no longer be granted legal status.
Death of Castro Fest Celebrates Fidel’s Demise Through Heavy Metal
Nowhere outside of Cuba did the November 25 death of Fidel Castro have a bigger impact than in South Florida. Many Miamians will always remember where they were when they heard of Castro’s death, just as they recall their whereabouts during the 9/11 terror attacks, the JFK assassination, or the OJ Simpson car chase.
“I was in Orlando when I heard Castro died,” Ruben de la Rosa, guitarist of Hialeah metal band Nekromaniak, tells New Times. “When I drove back to Miami and saw all of SW Eighth Street closed, that was what really confirmed it.”
De la Rosa, like many South Floridians, was a generation or two removed from being personally affected by Castro. “My grandfather had his plantation taken away. I always heard stories about people disappearing, the execution squads.”
Though his band consists of three Cuban-Americans, it was the one member with the most tenuous connection to Cuba who came up with the idea to commemorate Castro’s death with a show. “Our singer Paul [Balthaser], we call him the last American in Hialeah. He said, ‘You guys are always talking about Castro being bad news.’ He said we should do a death-of-Castro festival in the middle of Hialeah. We talked about it, but it didn’t seem logical to do it in Hialeah with all the bands who wanted to be a part of it.”
With the help of Alex Marquez, who drums with the band Thrash or Die, they decided to throw the Death of Castro Fest this Friday at the more central location of Churchill’s Pub. The lineup is packed with metal bands, but don’t expect the show to be heavy and morbid.
“We don’t wish death on anyone,” de la Rosa insists, “but Fidel Castro brought a lot of death and poverty. This gig is a thank-you to all the people who struggled because of Castro, to let them know their struggle wasn’t in vain coming over here from Cuba. It’s a celebration for all the stories we grew up hearing from our parents and grandparents about executions and coming here on rafts for freedom.”
Though the main attraction will be the heavy metal, the organizers wanted to make sure this was also a fiesta involving Cuban culture, de la Rosa says. “We’re going to have pastelitos, domino tables, and a piñata shaped like Castro’s head. A lot of people have called dibs on beating the hell out of the Castro piñata,” he points out.
The transfer of administration was carried out stealthily, commencing last September, but earlier this year at the doors of retail establishments in the municipalities of Old Havana and Central Havana there appeared signs warning people: “Closed for inventory,” a sign that, according to sources, indicated an imminent “change of ownership.”
Although the closure will be just for a few days, the measure has upset residents, who must make long walks to buy food at other chain stores, where the shortages on shelves and refrigerators are notable.
Along with the real estate company Fénix and the construction firm Puerto Carena, Habaguanex formed part of an internal management model designed to capture funds for the reconstruction of the city’s Historic Center, an initiative that survived the very trying Special Period, but began to run aground due to a series of corruption scandals.
The torpedo that sank Habaguanex was the brewery known as La Factoría, located in the Plaza Vieja, whose manager was accused of illicit profits and the sale of drugs on site, in addition to heading up a clandestine chain supplying food to restaurants, a violation that also brought down the head of the central warehouses of the Historian’s Office, based at the headquarters of what was once San Ambrosio.
The investigations led authorities to Meyci Wess, then general manager of the corporation, who headed up a corrupt clan, a sort of mafia that made life miserable for workers who refused to collaborate in their shenanigans. Wess’s most trusted managers were nicknamed “the untouchables,” and their embezzlement rose into the millions. Thanks to their influence peddling, these individuals were also able to obtain visas and travel abroad. Wess was tried and punished, placed under house arrest, and sources consulted indicate that Eusebio Leal tried to help her.
The scandal also metastasized to the justice system, as some defendants bribed lawyers belonging to the association of collective firms and the municipality of Old Havana, who were then prosecuted for the crime of bribery in case 214/2013. However, the scapegoat for the whole scandal coming out of Habaguanex was the former manager of La Factoría, who, according to sources, has not been pardoned in the deals that, in response to orders from the Holy See, benefited to a greater extent those sanctioned for economic crimes.
Many claim that the money embezzled in the rescue of the Historical Center comes two twice the investment made so far. Meanwhile, Dr. Eusebio Leal, supposedly “not involved in any of the transgressions,” is in charge of leading a crusade against the misuse of national symbols.
During the last two years of his presidency, Obama made his stance on Cuba crystal clear. While Cubans have been fighting for human rights, freedom, and the end of apartheid in Cuba for more than a half-century, paying for that struggle with their lives, those causes are of no concern whatsoever to the president. Instead, his focus is on sustaining and defending the murderously repressive apartheid regime. In fact, Obama is so deeply devoted to this goal that with just eight days left in his presidency, he took one last shot at killing the remaining hopes for freedom the Cuban people may have had.
Obama ends asylum programs, in final shot to freedom in Cuba
Just last week, the Cuban government arrested Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and Cuban opposition leader Dr. Oscar Biscet. He was threatened with imprisonment for his anti-government activities.
That would be nothing new for Biscet. He has already spent 12 years behind bars as a political prisoner. And he would have plenty of company. The regime arrested more than 10,000 dissidents last year alone.
Despite the oppression, the continuing violations of human rights, the Obama administration has spent the past two years attempting to convince the American public that the Cuban government has changed its ways.
The military dictatorship that has not held free and fair elections for over 50 years, we are told, merits moral equivalency with the democracies in Latin America. As for supporting freedom 90 miles from our shores? Well, that’s passé.
That is the essence of President Obama’s normalization gambit: To treat the regime as an equal despite all evidence to the contrary. As a result, the U.S. has legalized business dealings and financing mechanisms for the regime, even though Congress maintains the trade embargo.
Now Obama has turned his flawed perspective to U.S. immigration policy for Cuban nationals. Eight days before leaving office, he has terminated the 1995 Clinton-era “wet foot, dry foot” policy as well as the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program.
According to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson:
“The aim here is to treat Cuban migrants in a manner consistent to migrants who come here from other countries .?.?. equalizing our immigration policies .?.?. as part of the overall normalization process with Cuba.”
From a law enforcement perspective, this last minute respect for immigration law is puzzling. Obama’s contempt for our immigration system has allowed waves of unlawful migrants to move in through our porous southern border and protected “sanctuary cities” where criminal aliens roam free.
For decades, Cuban refugees have come to the United States, fleeing persecution and availing themselves to the protection of the U.S. government. In recent years, flawed policies like “wet foot, dry foot” have created perverse incentives for dangerous forms of migration. As a result, human smuggling networks have spread throughout Latin America.
While a revision of this policy was past due, repealing it in order to further normalization efforts hands the Cuban government another unnecessary political victory. It has long used refugees as pawns to influence the American government. Refugee crises like the Mariel boatlift of 1980 prove as much.
Ending the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program was nonsensical at best, and a tacit endorsement of the Cuban government’s human trafficking efforts at worst.
Ever distrustful of non-revolutionary “professional class,” Havana has long treated physicians as commodities rather than caregivers. Many are forcibly sent abroad to developing countries; in exchange, the Cuban government collects their salary. It’s a lucrative business, estimated to pad the wallets of the junta by $8 billion a year.
There is no question the “wet foot, dry foot” policy for Cuban refugees was broken from the very beginning and needed to be fixed. That Obama finally addressed this flawed policy is not the problem, but the “how” and the “why” certainly is.
For one, Cubans are the only people in the Western Hemisphere living under the yoke of a violently oppressive tyranny (although Venezuelans may soon be joining them). Their only hope for freedom and a life where human rights are respected is to leave Cuba. Secondly, after years of turning a blind eye to illegal immigrants pouring into the U.S. through the Mexican border, the president suddenly decides that Cuban migration must be halted. Obviously, President Obama’s decision to end “wet foot, dry foot” had nothing to do with controlling illegal immigration and everything to do with giving another unilateral concession to the apartheid Castro dictatorship.
Big mistake on Cuba: Removal of’ wet-foot’ policy hangs Cuban migrants out to dry
Oh, so now he decides to get tough on illegal immigration!
What could President Obama possibly have been thinking Thursday when he ended a longstanding policy that allows any Cuban who makes it to U.S. soil to stay and become a legal resident.?
The “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy has been in effect since 1995. A crisis that year saw a surge of about 40,000 escapees from the island nation take to the water in attempts to reach Florida. So it was decided that if a refugee was intercepted in the water, he was returned to where he came from, but if he made it to shore, he would be fast-tracked for citizenship.
Not anymore. A refugee can make it to Miami Beach and continue to North Dakota if he likes, but he still is subject to being kicked out.
Obama said in a White House statement that Cuban migrants now will be treated “the same way we treat migrants from other countries.”
Really? Like the migrants who practically cartwheel across our porous border with Mexico every day? The difference is, Cuban refugees face certain political persecution upon their return to Cuba.
What’s going to become of them? Does the Obama administration really think they will be lovingly embraced by their government authorities? A country that’s only just taken mere baby steps in emerging from decades of jackbooted totalitarianism?
Mr. Obama may be sending Cuban migrants back to face either death, or a cruel fate in which they’d just wish they were dead.
To hear Cuba and the United States describe it, it’s a decisive step toward normalizing migration policies between the countries.
Don’t believe it.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio – whose parents emigrated to the United States from Cuba before Fidel Castro seized power – says changes are needed in our migration policies with Cuba. Few people are denying that.
But, he clarified, “we must work to ensure that Cubans who arrive to escape political persecution are not summarily returned to the regime, and they are given fair opportunity to apply for and receive political asylum.”
Hopefully Obama’s new policy will be in effect only as long as it takes to wait for the president-elect to take the oath of office.
The Most Reverend Joe Vasquez, a highly-placed American Catholic bishop has condemned Obama’s cancellation of the wet foot- dry foot policy, one of the top acts of the Normalization Circus.
This is highly unusual, given the leftist leanings of many in the American Catholic hierarchy, including Bishop Vasquez himself, who is all in favor of the Normalization Circus.
Back in Rome Papa Che has said nothing.
As everyone knows, Papa Che is the chief architect of the Normalization Circus and a great fan of the late Maximum Leader Fidel and his brother King Raul.
Whether or not this renegade bishop will be disciplined remains to be seen.
On Friday, the U.S. bishops’ migration chair criticized the Obama administration’s denial of decades-old special protections for Cuban migrants to the U.S.
“I am disappointed over the Administration’s sudden policy change to end the ‘Wet Foot/ Dry Foot’ policy for Cuban arrivals,” Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, Texas, who heads the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration, stated on Friday.
“While we have welcomed normalizing relations with Cuba, the violation of basic human rights remains a reality for some Cubans and the Wet Foot/Dry Foot policy helped to afford them a way to seek refuge in the United States,” he continued.
Previously, as part of the policy in place since the 1990s, Cubans who successfully entered the U.S. without a visa could be paroled for a year and then would be eligible for residency. Those migrants who were intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard on their way to the U.S. were returned to Cuba.
Now that policy has been repealed and Cuban migrants found to have entered the U.S. without a visa will be deported back if they do not qualify for asylum.
On the last Sunday of Obama’s presidency, Cuba’s valiant human rights and democracy activists once again tasted the rotten and rancid fruit of the president’s “engagement” and embrace of the apartheid Castro dictatorship. On the 84th Sunday of the #TodosMarchamos (We all march) campaign, the peaceful activists were subjected to violent repression for the 84th consecutive time.
Eight Ladies in White arrested in Havana and another 20 were prevented from leaving their homes
State Security forces arrested eight Ladies in White and one activist this Sunday in front of the women’s movement’s headquarters in the Lawton neighborhood of Havana. Meanwhile in Matanzas, at least three other women suffered the same fate according to dissident sources.
Sodrelis Turruella Poncio, who stayed behind to watch over the headquarters along with Maria Hortensia Millan Pedroso, told DIARIO DE CUBA that eight women left the home, including the group’s leader Berta Soler along with activist and former political prisoner Angel Moya.
“This is the 84th Sunday of repression against the Ladies in White and the #TodosMarchamos (we all march) campaign for the release of political prisoners. All of those who took to the street were violently arrested by State Security agents and the police,” said Turruella.
She added that the homes of some twenty women were under siege to prevent them from leaving and reaching the women’s movement’s headquarters in Lawton, Havana. Some of them were also arrested.
If it’s the weekend, then it’s time to beat up some Cuban women.
That’s the way it’s been for Castro State Security ever since the Normalization Circus set up its tents in Castrogonia, and that’s the way it was again this past Saturday.
Members of one of Cuba’s many dissident groups were harassed by Castronoid State Security agents and violently expelled from the nation’s most sacred Catholic shrine.
Nothing new here. But can anyone with a conscience just move on and ignore this latest outrage?
Of course you can … if your conscience is progressive/liberal and your religion is leftism.
These women are nothing but despicable ingrates who refuse to appreciate all the marvelous benefits bestowed on Cuba’s noble savages by the Castro dynasty.
Loosely translated from Martí Noticias
Cuban women belonging to the pro-democracy Movimiento Dignidad (Dignity Movement) were expelled from the island’s holiest Catholic shrine this Saturday..
Several women belonging to Movimiento Dignidad who had walked 17 kilometers to the shrine of Our Lady of Charity were accosted by Castronoid security agents at the shrine’s hostel and prevented from attentding Sunday Mass.
The women claim that they were violently expelled from the hostel and sent home before they could enter the shrine and attend Sunday Mass.
Yoanna Quesada, one of the women chased away from the shrine, told Martí Noticias that a Castronoid State Security agent named “Enrique” or “Enriquito” ordered the hostel to be surrounded and that she and her companions were threatened and treated roughly (“en forma grosera”) by these agents as they were physically expelled from the hostel.
Quesada also said that the leader of her group, Belkis Cantillo–also a member of the Ladies in White — begged one of the priests at the shrine, Padre Eugenio, to intercede for them, but the priest said that “he couldn’t become responsible for their lives because the repression at work was way too strong.”
Moraima Díaz Pérez, another democracy activist expelled from the shrine, said that Father Eugenio was visibly shaken, and said that he couldn’t allow them to enter the church or even to remain on its steps because they ran the risk of being “tortured, beaten, and imprisoned.”
Quesada stressed the fact they had only come there to pray (“Solo veníamos a la iglesia a rezar”).
Whole story HERE in Spanish, includes voice recordings from victims of this act of repression.
Get more details HERE from Diario de Cuba, also in Spanish. And see YouTube video HERE.
The residents of a central street in Old Havana exhausted every way to get a sewer leak fixed. For weeks they had complained at the “Accountability Meetings” of the local People’s Power, reported the problem to their polyclinic, and written letters to the Havana Water Company; but the hole is still there.
The desperate residents’ last resort has been to make their dissatisfaction known through the hole itself. Handwritten on a piece of cardboard, an ingenious demand to fix the break is written in the first person: “How long am I going to be like this? I have been like this for three months already and no one does anything. Will it take a death to resolve the problem.”
The initiative is unusual in a country where showing a poster with demands may be the shortest way to a prison cell, but the text has managed to survive several days in the midst of the daily bustle, because it mixes the despair and distrust of the citizen with that humor that relaxes tensions and makes you smile whether in a maternity ward or a funeral parlor.
It seems that Immigration authorities in Miami are interpreting the new rules for Cuban “migrants” very strictly.
Cubans arriving at the airport — NOT Cubans arriving on rafts — are now being sent back to Castrogonia immediately, simply because they requested asylum.
This event could become a test case for the interpretation of the new rules.
Loosely translated from Marti Noticias
Over one hundred Cubans at Miami International Airport are now in limbo.
They are the first arrivals from Castrogonia to be subjected to Obama’s new interpretation of the Cuban Adjustment Act.
According to channel 41 AméricaTeVé, all of these Cubans arrived legally, with the proper visas.
Trouble surfaced immediately when they asked for asylum in the U.S. under the Cuban Adjustment Act.
Some of these Cubans have been deported and sent back to Castrogonia. Some who have been allowed to stay remain in a legal twilight zone.
A relative of some of these would-be refugees said to channel 41 that Immigration officials announced that everyone who arrived before 5 pm could stay in the U.S., but anyone who arrived after 5 p.m. would be deported back to Castrogonia immediately.
All Cubans who have arrived in the past two days have been held in a special area at the airport.
Some of those who were waiting for the arrival of their relatives have petitioned the Immigration authorities to allow these newly-arrived Cubans to remain in the U.S.
Whole story HERE, in Spanish (includes video report).