“Every time I meet with Cuba’s dissidents, I am inspired by their heroism and reminded of the important work they are doing on the island to achieve a truly free and democratic Cuba. The men and women who visited me today have been jailed, beaten, threatened, censored and generally had their lives made miserable by the Castro regime. In Cuba, these men and women are feared for their principles and courage, but in America, they are always welcome in my office.
“I believe I will see a free and democratic Cuba in my lifetime, but only if the United States supports Cuban civil society groups and patriots like this, and stops enriching and supporting their oppressors. Individuals like these are the ones we should be defending, legitimizing, going to baseball games with, and doing everything we can do to support.”
Rio de Janeiro’s acting governor warned Monday that the Olympic Games could be a “big failure,” because of budget shortfalls that threaten to compromise security and mobility during the games.
In an interview with Rio’s O Globo daily, Francisco Dornelles said the state is still awaiting a 2.9 billion Brazilian real ($860 million) payout from the federal government aimed at shoring up state coffers ahead of the Aug. 5-21 event. The funds were allocated last week but have not yet reached the state, and Dornelles warned that without them, police patrols may grind to a halt by the end of the week, for lack of gas money.
“How are people going to feel protected in a city without security,” Dornelles was quoted as asking.
“I’m optimistic about the games, but I have to show reality,” he said. “We can have a great Olympics, but if some steps aren’t taken, it can be a big failure.”
And this guy wants tourists to get on a plane and visit Rio?
On top of everything, from a really juicy political crisis to the zika virus, the police are protesting against the late payment of salaries and a lack of equipment ranging from car fuel to toilet paper.
And these are the police officers that will provide security in Rio?
It is a terrible shame that things have deteriorated like this. However, this is more than bad luck. Brazil probably wasn’t ready to do World Cup and Olympics in 2014 and 2016. Add to all of this the country’s penchant for corruption and toilet paper may be the last thing that we will have to worry about.
Finally, security is even more critical now than ever because of terrorism. We saw what happened at the Boston Marathon in 2013 where a couple of guys with bombs killed and injured many.
It’s probably too late to pull the plug but a lot of people, and even some athletes, won’t go. It’s just too much of a risk for people to take.
Castro propaganda willingly disseminated by the media mixed with a healthy does of ignorance can make apartheid Cuba appear to be a great vacation destination. But when you strip away the propaganda and educate yourself about the reality of Cuba under the brutally repressive apartheid Castro dictatorship, it quickly ceases to look like a good idea.
“Tourism only fuels the [Castro] regime’s repressive machinery.”
— Sirley Ávila León
A U.S. tourist, returning from Cuba on an educational excursion, urged readers to “GO! Go for the history, old cars, art, music, beaches, marine life, beauty and people. Mostly, go for what you’ll feel in your heart.” Similar enthusiasm was expressed by visitors to Nazi Germany. In the foreboding years prior to World War II, foreign dignitaries, entrepreneurs, celebrities and tourists hobnobbed with Hitler and Nazi leaders.
Guests of the Third Reich, such as Charles Lindbergh and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, may or may not have been privy to Hitler’s draconian laws and violent persecution of Jews. Nonetheless, knowledge of ongoing atrocities against Germany’s Jews, and other perceived enemies of the Reich, was widely reported in U.S. newspapers of the 1930s. The substantive coverage of Hitler’s abuses did not dissuade pleasure-seekers and unscrupulous corporations from flocking to the Nazi state lending it legitimacy and revenue. Likewise, modern-day travelers to Cuba disregard the heightened repression, arrests and murder of defenseless Cubans, foreign nationals and journalists, and are willingly seduced by an illusion astutely crafted by Castro propagandists.
President Obama’s normalization speech, on Dec. 17, 2014, was premised on the false belief that the Cold War had ended and that an injection of tourism and commerce dollars would empower the Cuban people. In the case of China and Vietnam, rather than ameliorate egregious human rights abuses, U.S. financial resources further entrenched despotic rule in both authoritarian nations. Strikingly, decades of global trade and tourism with Cuba has not produced authentic reforms inducing greater individual liberties and legal protections.
Possessing cell phones that are censored, and operating small businesses whose licenses can be revoked, assets confiscated, and vendors jailed at the whim of Cuban authorities, does not constitute freedom. Entrepreneurs with connections to regime officials operate the “private” restaurants and lodgings, which are also subject to high taxes, extortion and surveillance.
The advertised “Potemkin village” tour is designed to fool foreign visitors. Tourists are shown the very best resorts, restaurants, hospitals and schools that the average, impoverished Cuban cannot access due to an enforced system of economic apartheid. The cultural education imparted during these tours are tinged with inaccurate Marxist interpretations of Cuba’s history fomenting misconceptions.
Visitors are taken to Havana’s notorious La Cabaña fortress, but the tour guides make no mention of the thousands of innocent Cubans executed within its walls and hastily thrown into mass graves.
In Cuba, the entire tourism industry is run by the military through GAESA, one of Castro’s monopolies. After Castro pockets the majority of the profits, the Cubans subcontracted by foreign companies receive a scant percentage in Cuban pesos. The Cuban military uses tourism money to finance domestic repression, global terrorism, drug-trafficking, weapons-smuggling and other illicit activities. The coveted bank credit and tourism dollars ensures the perpetuity of the Castro dictatorship.
Obama’s Cuba Policy: Celebrity Distractions, Security Detraction
On Friday, a bipartisan delegation of House Homeland Security lawmakers were denied visas to travel to Cuba to inspect the safety and security of Cuban airports.
What was the reaction of the State Department?
To distract by announcing Shaquille O’Neal as a U.S. Department of State “Sports Envoy to Cuba.”
On Sunday, the headquarters of Cuba’s Ladies in White was violently assaulted by the Castro regime, which sought to steal their belongings and arrested dozens to prevent them from attending Mass.
What does the State Department do?
Distract by simultaneously holding a basketball clinic scheduled with the Castro regime, swarmed by the island’s state and foreign media, featuring Shaq.
As regards the latter, it’s no secret that Obama has relegated the well-being of Cuba’s courageous democracy leaders to his frivolous legacy.
But Obama is now also sacrificing America’s security interests.
In case you haven’t been paying attention over the last few months (or been successfully distracted by Obama’s celebrity circus), here’s a timeline of events:
— Amid Obama’s political expansion of direct commercial flights to and from Cuba, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials privately express concerns to House Homeland Security lawmakers regarding the security and infrastructure of Cuba’s airports.
— The House Homeland Security Committee schedules a hearing to analyze these concerns, but is stonewalled by The White House. (See here for more.)
— Under threat of subpoena, one relevant TSA official publicly testifies to the House Homeland Committee, but won’t discuss specifics.
— The Associated Press travels to Cuba’s airports with U.S. airline officials and highlights various security and infrastructure concerns. (See here for more.)
— A bipartisan delegation of House Homeland Security lawmakers are denied visas to Cuba to independently investigate these concerns.
Doraisa Correoso Pozo was born in Santiago de Cuba on 11 April, 1969. When she was five years old she and her siblings witnessed the murder of their mother, Ladis Luisa Pozo, stabbed by a man who claimed to be in love with her. She was raised, above all, by her father, Salvador Correoso Martínez, with whom she lived for three years in the truck he used for work.
At 16 Doraisa was the victim of a rape that resulted in the birth of her only son, Frank Odelvis Deroncelé Correoso, in 1985.
In 1994 she tried to leave the country with her son. Her younger brother, Andrés Noel Correoso Pozo, who also sought to emigrate, was taken to prison for two years, but ended up serving eight. All that time, Doraisa explains, she sought justice for him.
In 1996 she joined the organisation “Followers of Chivás,” later dubbed the “Party of the People,” and began a life of intense activity in support of the opposition and political mobilisation.
In 2000 she backed the Varela Project, and went to on become a “Lady of Support” to the “Ladies in White.” She regularly attended in support of Laura Pollán in Havana, but on July 16, 2011 they decided to march towards El Cobre, headed by Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, then the representative of the women’s group in Santiago de Cuba.
There State Security forces awaited them, with individuals mobilised to attack them. Belkis Cantillo was stabbed in an arm and a truck hit Doraisa and knocked her down. The incident left her laid up at the Saturnino Lora Provincial Hospital for several days.
On February 10, 2016, Doraisa Correoso was very close to her house, in front of the Third (Motorised) Unit, located on Fourth Street, between Aguilera and Enramada. She was there demanding freedom for Lisandra Rivera Rodríguez when a group of policemen – or members of the military dressed as police – emerged from the facilities and brutally attacked the 11 protestors there, among them Enrique Figuerola, who suffered a broken jaw.
“They told me that Lisandra had been taken away by the police and was being held at the Third Unit. I told another sister of mine, and Enrique, and we all went to the Third with Damarys Rodríguez Ramos, Lisandra’s mother.”
“In Santiago, when someone is arrested or in trouble, we all lend our support, regardless of the organisation to which he or she belongs. We asked for her release, peacefully, because that’s what we are: peaceful fighters. Suddenly, and I don’t know why, a group of political police officers came out and gave us a terrible beating. Agents “Julio” and “Richard” (false names) were in charge of the operation.
In 2007, President George W. Bush awarded the Medal of Freedom in absentia to the Cuban human rights and democracy activist Oscar Elias Biscet. This week, he was able to place the award on Biscet’s shoulders.
The 2007 citation read as follows:
Oscar Elias Biscet has dedicated his life to advancing human rights and democracy in Cuba. A medical doctor, he has been persecuted for his peaceful calls for a free Cuba. A former prisoner of conscience, he remains a powerful advocate for a Cuba in which the rights of all people are respected. Freedom-loving people everywhere are his brothers and sisters, and his sacrifices benefit all mankind. The United States stands with Oscar Elias Biscet in his heroic struggle against tyranny, salutes him for his courage, and honors him for his devotion to freedom and human rights.
Biscet could not receive the award because he was in one of Castro’s prisons. But this week he was able to travel to Dallas, where former President Bush gave him the award.
Here’s some of what Bush said:
Laura and I welcome you, we thank you. This is an extraordinary event, one that should lift the soul of every American.
In 2007, I awarded the Medal of Freedom to Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. I did so because of his courage and devotion to freedom. He couldn’t be with us then because he was in a prison cell, locked away for daring to criticize Cuba’s communist regime and for demanding respect for the fundamental rights of the Cuban people. For the past several years, Oscar has entrusted his Medal of Freedom to the Bush Institute’s Freedom Collection….
There’s still a long road ahead before Cuba’s freedom is realized, but at long last, Oscar has finally been released from prison and allowed to leave the island. So, we welcome you, Oscar. We’ve been waiting for you and we are thrilled you’re here.
I want to read a few words from my speech in the East Room when we announced your Medal of Freedom. Here is part of what I said:
“Oscar Biscet is a healer — known to 11 million Cubans as a physician, a community organizer, and an advocate for human rights. For decades, he has told the world what he has seen in Cuba: the arrogance of a one-party state; the suppression of political dissent; the coercion of expectant mothers. For speaking the truth Dr. Biscet has endured repeated harassment, beatings, and detentions. The international community agrees that Dr. Biscet’s imprisonment is unjust, yet the regime has refused every call for his release.
“To the Cuban dictatorship, Dr. Biscet is a ‘dangerous man.’ He is dangerous in the same way that Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi were dangerous. He is a man of peace, a man of truth, and a man of faith. In captivity, he has continued to embody courage and dignity. His example is a rebuke to the tyrants and secret police of a regime whose day is passing.
More of the same, more of the same, more of the same.
Oui, monsieur, oui madame, oui mademoiselle, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
Cardinal Ortega’s successor praised his collaboration with the criminal Castro regime and proudly announced that he would do his utmost to keep the Cuban Catholic Church subservient to the Castro regime.
The prince of the Catholic Church in Cuba was very clear about his political and economic philosophy: he said he doesn’t want “capitalism, or anything like that” in Cuba.
Of course, some of his statements were carefully disguised. Rather than praising the Castro dictatorship openly, he simply praised ‘”socialism” as “just, balanced, and brotherly.”
One must therefore assume that the archbishop must think of capitalism as unjust, selfish, and unbalanced.
Good Lord. Sacre merde.
Talk about whitened sepulchers! Time to meditate on a gospel passage…
As Jesus said to the religious leaders of his own day (Matthew 23:27): “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”
Jesus H. straight-talking Christ. Jesus Christ, Lord God crucified, grant us patience. Jesus Christ, whip-wielding savior, cleanse our temple.
Apparently the archbishop disagrees with the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891), which defends private property and capitalism and condemns socialism as being “against justice.”
Yes. Thank you, pope Leo XIII:
“Socialists, therefore, by endeavoring to transfer the possessions of individuals to the community at large, strike at the interests of every wage-earner, since they would deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages, and thereby of all hope and possibility of increasing his resources and of bettering his condition in life. What is of far greater moment, however, is the fact that the remedy they propose is manifestly against justice.”
Archbishop of Havana condemns capitalism, says he wants more socialism for Cuba.
The new archbishop of Havana, Juan de la Caridad García, said in an interview with the Associated Press that he does not want Cuba to have “any capitalism, or anything like that,” adding that he “wants socialism to make progress and move forward in a just and balanced and brotherly society.”
The archbishop defended the work of his predecessor, Cardinal Jaime Ortega. “I think that the cardinal did a lot of good,” he said. “In some places people have too negative a view of him, but that is a false image. I will continue what he began.”
The first post on this blog was published thirteen years ago today. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. I had no idea where this blog was going back then, if it was going anywhere at all. I certainly could not have imagined it still being around all this time.
Thirteen years. Lots of water under lots of bridges.
I applaud all of you loyal readers who have stayed the course with us through the years. We have been through some interesting times indeed. Some laughs, some tears. Lots of heartbreak. I like to think Babalu has made a difference. I’m sure it has. At the very least the archives of this blog serve a a reservoir of truth about the Cuban reality.
I know I haven’t been around much the past couple of years. The death of my parents, arguably the patriarchs of this blog, affected me greatly and I have lacked the focus I believe is needed to stay in this Cuba fray full throttle. Babalu has been in good hands tho. Great hands. Alberto de la Cruz has done a much better job than I could have. He has toiled over this baby day in and day out. Out here on the front lines of this cyber counterrevolution despite all the frustrations, anger, heartbreak and gamut of emotions that Cuba elicits. Every day. I am beyond proud to call him my brother.
And the rest of our Babalu battalion: Dr. Carlos Eire; Humberto Fontova; Henry Gomez; Silvio Canto Jr.; and Ziva Sahl: I am in awe of your dedication. Of your love for that island shaped like a crocodile. Of your commitment to the truth. Your devotion to what is right and just. You all are an inspiration. Patriots in every sense of the word. I hope you know just what incredible examples you are of the true Cuban heart and soul.
Babalu can boast of a few accomplishments, too. We have opened some minds to the reality of Cuba and tyranny and communism. We ran the first internet Cuban human rights awareness campaigns. We have spoken at human rights conferences. We have joined in solidarity with our brothers and sisters from Venezuela and Iran and other countries whose people suffer under the yoke of oppression. We have had an audience with the President of the United States. We have been not only Cuban patriots, but proud American patriots as we have not only been thankful for being afforded the American dream, we have been good and dutiful citizens. We have, always, supported our men and women in the Armed Forces whose sacrifices and dedication and perseverance protect this freedom whose fragility is more than apparent through the prism of Cuba.
There have been many, many tears. We have mourned the deaths of Cuban freedom fighters like Laura Pollan, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Oswaldo Paya and many others. We have languished, year after year, over our Cuban brothers and sisters in castro’s gulags. Over being beaten mercilessly for wanting something so simple as to have a say in their lives. To be able to speak without hypocrisy, to choose what is best for them, for their families, for their country. To live as free men and women.
Back on this day in 2003, things we a bit clearer. The lines were not as blurred as they are today. In 2003, we had a sitting President who understood the anguish at the lack of freedom in Cuba. Who took a stand, however unpopular in the eyes of those who stood to benefit from another, because it was right and just and true. Today we have a sitting President who murmurs feigned concern over oppression, only to then consort and collude with the oppressor. And we have a media whose arrogance and willful blindness has escalated. Fostering and promoting a false narrative like never before.
That’s why today, every word posted on this blog fills me with pride. There is dignity and honor in fighting for what is right and just and true.
Every single word ever published and every word yet to be published on Babalu stem from that spot in our hearts and in our souls called hope.
Only oppression should fear the full exercise of freedom.
More than a year after President Obama announced his new Cuba policy to “empower” the Cuban people by effectively surrendering to the apartheid Castro regime and showering the dictatorship with unrequited love, Cubans on the island are still waiting to see the benefits. What they have seen since Obama’s policy change, however, is a significant increase in violent repression, skyrocketing political arrests, and as we see below, ongoing zero tolerance for any materials that challenge the oppressive status quo on the island. There’s your “Hope and Change.”
Cuban Communists Seize “Counter-Revolutionary” Literature at Customs
Castro Regime’s “Openness” to the World Includes Censuring Non-Communist Ideas
Customs authorities have reportedly doubled efforts to fight drug trafficking and the smuggling of “counterrevolutionary” literature to the island.
Through May, customs agents captured six kilograms of cocaine, seven kilograms of marijuana and stopped a total of 41 attempts to smuggle narcotics. Thirty-one of these were for personal use and 10 looked to be for traffic.
The border agency also said it neutralized over 800 infractions in security lines, mentioning among the infractions the entry to the country of “literature with subversive content directed to counterrevolution”.
According to Cuban press, the deputy Director of the Republic’s General Customs (AGRC), Moraima Rodríguez, pointed out the attempts were neutralized, thanks to the skill of personel in the terminals and high tech equipment, like x rays and the advance information for risk detection technique.
Infractions included attempts to introduce devices, satellite equipment, weapons, brass knuckles, bow with arrows, rifles and handguns to the country, among other things.
“After a raise in the flow of international travelers, freight and the rise of containers in international transit, customs has created the necessary conditions for direct communication of information exchange and operational cooperation in real time with other countries,” officials said.
Berta Soler and her husband Angel Moya were arrested again this morning — less than 24 hours after being arrested on Sunday.
In an act of defiance, she and her husband broke camera equipment they themselves had mounted on the second story of the Ladies in White headquarters and then tossed them out onto the street, to prevent State Security from stealing the equipment intact.
The cameras were there to record the repressive actions of Castro State Security agents.
Yesterday, State Security made an attempt to remove that equipment, so their actions could not be recorded.
Soler and Moya, said they’d rather smash their own equipment than have it stolen intact by State Security.
“Preferimos, antes de que se lleven los equipos, que es lo que vienen a robarse, se los lleven rotos”. (We prefer that they take this equipment away broken, because that’s what they are trying to steal anyway).
Whole story HERE, in Spanish
In additioin, Berta Soler has made a chilling prediction. Sent via email:
Press Release from The Cuban Democratic Directorate “Directorio”
“There will be a fatality here (Cuba) at any moment, as a result of the repressive violence of the Castro regime.”
A prophetic warning from Havana, Cuba, by Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White
“There will be a fatality here (Cuba) at any moment as a result of the repressive violence of the Castro Regime” denounced today Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White referring to the brazen manner in which the State Security political police is increasing the intensity of violence against the Ladies in White, the “Todos Marchamos” campaign participants, street merchants, in essence, any Cuban who dares to proclaim a desire for real change in Cuba.
For 59 consecutive Sundays members of the Ladies in White, Todos Marchamos, have suffered numerous broken bones, cuts and bruises, concussions, injections of unknown substances, threats of infections, savage bites and other vial acts committed by State Security political police. These acts have been further exacerbated by a continuous pattern of being re-arrested and verbally taunted with threats of being made to “disappear”– threats that are taken very seriously given the history of Cuban resistance leaders that have met with mysterious deaths.
This past Sunday a large operation was mounted by State Security all for the purpose of removing a camera placed on the second floor of the house which serves as headquarters for the Ladies in White. This camera was a means to offer a “connection” to the peaceful demonstrators with the rest of the world. This action is an indication that the regime is gearing up for additional measures which they do not want to risk being documented.
“The regime does not want to liberate political prisoners and is intensifying the violent campaign against TodosMarchamos. The regime will continue repeatedly and brutally arresting us, but we will continue to demand our right to peacefully demonstrate. The regime would like to erase us, however, we will continue with our mission. The Ladies in White was founded to support political prisoners and we will not stop”, stated Berta Soler to the Cuban Democratic Directorate in a telephone interview today.
“The Cuban Democratic Directorate “Directorio” implores the international community to be mindful of the imminent danger faced by Cuban human rights activists, reiterated by Berta Soler’s prophetic warning. We have lost too many Cuban lives during the past six decades, let the Castro Regime know that the world is watching,” said Dr. Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat, co-founder and spokesperson of the Cuban Democratic Directorate.
Some years ago the Latin American left abandoned the guerrilla struggle as the main way to gain power, choosing to use, instead, the existing democratic institutions and mechanisms in their respective countries.
The problem presents itself when, through these same institutions and mechanisms, they must leave power. Then we see the machinations begin, the changing of constitutions, the setting aside of democratic institutions, abuses of power and other aberrations of a totalitarian character. The examples are endless.
In Argentina, since the opposition with Macri at the helm won the elections, former president Cristina Fernandez and her adepts have tried every possible way to make it difficult for them to exercise power.
In Venezuela, when the Chavistas lost their majority in the National Assembly, they started and still continue a process of disavowing the work of the Assembly, even going to the extreme of creating an unconstitutional monstrosity they call “the Congress of the Country,” which includes ignoring the call for a mid-term referendum.
The Chavistas are violating all democratic laws, documents and regulations, and continue to protest and even receive support from their external minions when they make a call to order.
In Bolivia, the self-styled “first indigenous president” tries to hold another referendum, ignoring the results of the previous one, so that he can be re-elected in perpetuity.
In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega is again nominated for president for the November elections.
In Brazil, the offensive against the government that replaced Dilma Rousseff has not ceased and now, as it that weren’t enough, former president Lula de Silva reappears, wanting to present himself as a candidate for president in 2018.
The left, when it gets a taste of “the honey of power,” becomes totally addicted. They must be urged to find an effective treatment to avoid this.
People in Need — a Czech human rights organization– has just issued a scathing report on the Castro regime’s repressive policies.
A significant part of the information in this report was obtained over the course of numerous trips to Cuba in 2015 during which People in Need’s representatives spent collectively more than 180 days on the island and visited over 200 activists in every Cuban province.
It’s a detailed report that should be required reading for every tourist or government official who travels to Castrogonia.
Here is People in Need’s list of the ten most basic human rights denied to Cubans:
1. Earning a just salary
2. Accessing the internet
3. Having a free press
4. Starting their own businesses
5. Organizing freely
6. Going on strike
7. Traveling freely
8. Staging peaceful public protests
9. Being assured a fair trial
10. Voting freely in multi-party elections
People in Need’s report begins with the following statement:
Despite the recent acceleration of the process of political and economic opening that Cuba has undertaken since Raul Castro’s accession to the presidency in 2006, there has been no substantial improvement in regard to human rights and individual freedoms on the island. Over the last few years, Cuban authorities have constantly restricted the political and civil liberties of Cuban citizens using a range of repressive strategies, while also failing to guarantee the protection of fundamental rights as stipulated in international treaties previously signed by the Cuban government. This is being done to maintain the existing political system and to keep the Communist Party of Cuba and the Revolutionary Armed Forces in power. Even though the government has made some concessions aimed at gradually liberalizing the economy that have been welcomed by the international community and tempered the pent up frustrations of the impoverished Cubans, it has also been actively silencing dissidents and the opposition.
People in Need also suggests that the following simple rules be observed by the so-called free world:
For the International Community:
Insist on the same level of protection of human rights as is required from other Latin American countries
Meet with representatives from civil society during official visits to the country
Insist on ending all forms of repression directed towards civil society
For International Media
Before publishing any information released by the Cuban government, consult with members of the independent civil society
Open the door to Cuban journalists (both official and independent) and provide training to them