“Former” Spy to Advocate for More Trade With Havana at December’s “US-Cuba Legal Summit” in New York
On December 1st, the US-Cuba Legal Summit 2015 will convene at the University Club in New York City. Featured speakers include lawyers, a single US government official, pro-trade advocates and self-professed “former” Directorate of Intelligence (DI) spy, Arturo Lopez Levy.
Its published agenda insists “The U.S. Cuba Legal Summit looks to provide a platform for U.S. in-house counsel to investigate the legal system in Cuba with a sharp eye to potential pluses and minuses when opening lines of communications.” Which begs the question, why is Castro lackey Arturo Lopez Levy a panelist?
The real name of this faux “scholar” is Arturo Lopez-Callejas, the name he was known by for over 30 years. Additionally, he acknowledges his spy career in his book, Raul Castro and the New Cuba: A Close-Up View of Change. In the spirit of open disclosure, I hope attendees are advised that Lopez-Callejas is a nephew-in-law to Cuban dictator Raul Castro. More specifically, he is the first cousin of Castro’s son-in-law, Brigadier General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Primo Lopez-Callejas. General Rodriguez heads the Enterprise Administration Group (GAESA), placing him in charge of Cuba’s entire tourism sector.
The Miami Herald reported “Rodriguez, married to Castro’s oldest daughter, Deborah Castro Espín, is widely viewed as one of the most powerful and ambitious men in Cuba — smart, arrogant, frugal and a highly effective administrator of GAESA.” Retired Herald reporter Juan Tamayo also noted that Deborah Castro’s brother is Alejandro Castro Espín, Castro’s chief intelligence advisor.
Congratulations to Summit officials for a thorough vetting process. I’m sure Lopez-Callejas would never exploit such a lucrative opportunity to personally enrich his extended family and sustain a regime to which he pledged his life.
Cuban Migrants Pile Up on Closed Nicaraguan Border
Pressure Builds for “Humanitarian Corridor” from Ecuador to Mexico
The wave of Cuban migrants crossing from Central America on foot to reach the United States has created a serious crisis in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, where thousands remain stranded. To address the situation with local governments, Cuban Foreign Relations Minister Bruno Rodríguez visited Nicaragua to meet President Daniel Ortega.
Rodríguez also visited President Rafael Correa in Ecuador, the starting point for many migrants’ journeys since this is the only Latin American country that allows Cubans to enter without a visa.
On November 19 and 20, the presidents discussed what to do with the Cuban migrants who, after traveling across Costa Rica, are not allowed to cross the Nicaraguan border.
The exodus turned into an international crisis on November 15, when Nicaragua shut down its border and violently deported hundreds of migrants who had managed to cross into its territory. Cubans are in a hurry to arrive in the United States because they believe the Cuban Adjustment Act, which grants them permanent residence and benefits, could undergo changes following the normalization of relations between Washington and Havana.
After Nicaragua shut down and militarized its southern border, Costa Rica accused Ortega of creating a “humanitarian” crisis. Nicaragua responded by accusing its neighbor of “breaching its national sovereignty.”
In the meantime, Costa Rican migration authorities issued 3,037 temporary visas to those Cubans who arrived by land, most of them from Ecuador. Some 2,000 migrants are temporarily living in Costa Rican shelters.
Continue reading HERE.
The Shipwreck of Havana
One hour before noon, the bus stops on Calzada 10 de Octubre are flooded with irritated people who want to transfer to other neighborhoods in the capital.
Hundreds of old cars reconverted into collective taxis full of passengers roll in the direction of Vedado or Centro Habana. The autumn heat and sense of urgency cause those waiting to despair.
Public transport continues to be a popular subject in a magical and flirtatious city, which, in spite of its grime and ruins, will be 496 years old on November 16.
Orestes, a bus inspector, receives a spout of critical resentment from citizens who are disgusted with the precarious urban transport.
“I’m the one who has to take the ass-kicking. The directors travel in cars. But I’m on the street having to put up with people’s complaints. The worst part isn’t the poor management of the transport, it’s that you can’t see a short- or long-term solution,” he says.
In a city of two and a half million people, where only one percent own a private auto, there is no Metro and the suburban trains barely function, public bus service is vitally important.
Yoel, an employ of the sector, says that “the demand is double the number of passengers transported every day. The ideal would be to have an allotment of 1,700 to 2,000 buses. But there are barely 670 in circulation. There is a master plan out to 2020 to improve service, but I don’t think it will solve very much. In addition to the deficit in buses, there is the problem of the poor state of the streets and avenues, which cause breakdowns in the city bus service. And the vandalism of Havanans who shred the buses, destroy the seats or break the windows with stones. Ninety-eight buses were out of service because of acts of vandalism.”
Traveling at rush hour on a bus in the capital is an Indiana Jones adventure. Fights, pickpockets and deranged sexual advances. People with their nerves on the point of exploding at the least touch.
Some day they’ll have to erect a monument to the old cars that serve as taxis in the city. For the average worker, making a round trip by taxi costs one day’s wages.
But the cyclical crisis of urban transport has converted the taxis into a remedy. They carry 200,000 people daily, although not always under good conditions. Of the more than 12,000 private cars for rent in Havana, half of them don’t have the required technical specifications.
“The owners put them to work even without painting them or covering the roof. With what they earn they improve them,” says Renán, who owns an old 1955 Ford.
And yes, they all have disk players that they keep on high volume, which assault the passengers with timba or reggaeton music.
But the talkative Cubanos convert them into a permanent chronicle and a rostrum where people unload their disappointment at the state of things and the appalling government management.
Leave My Little Paper Boat Alone
Christian, Social Democrats Are Marxists by Another Name
Property rights, or the lack of them, are central to all contemporary political philosophies. Marxism rejects property rights outright, as explained by Karl Marx in the second chapter of his Communist Manifesto: “the theory of Communists may be summed up in a single phrase: Abolition of private property.”Even within the family of democratically grounded political beliefs — classical liberalism, social democracy, and christian democracy — the topic of property rights receives dramatically different interpretations. Let’s try to examine briefly this extremely complex topic.
Classical liberalism is unambiguous as to property rights, as articulated by John Locke, the 17th-century British political philosopher and father of classical liberalism:
Every Man has a Property in his own Person … The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the State that Nature hath provided, and left in it, he hath mixed his Labour with, and joyned to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his Property.
For Locke, property rights are a necessary implication of self-ownership. For example, if I take a sheet of paper that I own and fold it carefully so as to make a paper boat, that paper boat is properly mine. I have joined my labor with my sheet of paper, making the crafted paper boat my property.
Unceremoniously, I christen my paper boat “Liberty” and launch it to the pool.
Social democrats see it differently. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, social-democracy movements profoundly influenced by Marxism sought to replace private ownership with social ownership of the means of production.
Continue reading HERE.
Macri And The End Of Populism In Argentina
The victory of Mauricio Macri in Argentina is the triumph of common sense over strained discourse and failed emotions. It is also the arrival of modernity and the burial of a populist stage that should have disappeared long ago.
There is a successful way of governing. It is the one used in the 25 leading nations of the planet, among which should be Argentina, as it had been in the first quarter of the twentieth century. Everyone hopes that Macri will lead the country in that direction.
Which are those nations? Those recorded in all rigorous manuals, from the Human Development Index published by the United Nations, to Doing Business from the World Bank, to Transparency International. Some twenty compilations agree, however they stack up: the same ones always appear at the top of the list.
Which ones? The usual suspects: Norway, England, Switzerland, Canada, Germany, United States, Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, and the usual etc. How do they do it? With a mixture of respect for law, clear rules, strong institutions, markets, open trade, reasonable administrative honesty, good education, innovation, competition, productivity and, above all, confidence.
Sometimes the governments are liberal, Christian democrat or social democrat. Sometimes they combine in coalitions. Despite disputes, they all form a part of the extended family of liberal democracies. What is usually discussed in elections is not the form in which society relates to the state, but the amount of the tax burden and the formula for distributing social spending. The economic model, on which productivity rests, is not in play in the voting booth, nor is the political model which organizes coexistence and guarantees freedoms. On this they agree.
They are nations, in short, that are calm, without upheavals, without saber rattling and rumors of chaos, wonderfully boring, where the voices against the system are too weak to be considered, and where you can make long term plans because it is very difficult for the currency to suddenly lose its value or for the government to hijack your savings in an infamous and illegal seizure.
That does not mean that there are no crises and speculative bubbles, or that some, like Greece, engage in underhanded practices and need to have their chestnuts pulled out of the fire. Of course this happens, but they overcome it, and the economy recovers without breaking the democratic game. There are inevitable cycles, which are produced in free markets, where every now and then greed distances buyers and sellers. The leading nations have learned how to overcome it and move forward.
Everyone hopes that Mauricio Macri will move in the same direction for the good of Argentinians, but given that it is the largest and best educated country in Latin America, one can venture that his victory will have notable consequences across the whole continent. For now, it is very important that Argentina has abandoned the drift towards Chavism introduced by Kirchnerism.
Obama’s negotiations with Cuba’s repressive apartheid regime continues to bear fruit… for the Castro dictatorship, that is.
Two Cuban Dissidents Released Under Obama Deal Get New Prison Sentences
Last week, the Castro regime handed a four-and-a-half year prison sentence to Cuban dissident leader, Vladimir Morera Bacallao.
Morera Bacallao, accused of “public nuisance,” is currently on the 41st day of a hunger strike protesting his unjust imprisonment at El Pre penitentiary in Santa Clara.
He is a member of the opposition, Cuban Reflection Movement.
Meanwhile, Jorge Ramirez Calderon, has been handed a two-and-a-half year prison sentence. He was also accused of “public nuisance.”
Ramirez Calderon, an independent labor activist, was arrested pursuant to a public protest in front of a government building in Manicaragua.
Both Morera Bacallao and Ramirez Calderon were part of the list of 53 Cuban political prisoners that were purportedly released as a result of the Obama-Castro deal on December 17th, 2014.
There hasn’t been a peep of protest from the Obama Administration on this latest affront.
Argentina made an important right turn on Sunday. Mauricio Macri, the opposition candidate, won Sunday’s election. He is not perfect but offers a more realistic option than the misguided populist policies of the incumbent party.
At the same time, “argentinos” longing for change will have to be patient because Mr. Macri is inheriting a mess of huge proportions, as we read in Bloomberg:
For decades the misery and repression of apartheid Cuba has been glossed over by many artists who attempt to portray life on the island prison as a never-ending party full of happy, colorful natives. Now, one photographer is giving North Korea the same “Cuba” treatment.
Why This North Korean Street Style Story Is Dangerous
Even in the bleakest corners of the earth, if you’re searching for beauty, you’re guaranteed to find it. So when photographer Mihaela Noroc went to North Korea as part of her project, Atlas of Beauty, the stunning portraits she was able to capture tell a story not often told about the Hermit Kingdom. But is it the truth?
Noroc has made a name for herself traveling to more than 40 countries and photographing women, in natural light, who stare directly into her camera. “I think everybody has to cultivate their own beauty, rather than copying something that doesn’t [suit them],” she writes in her mission statement. “Beauty is everywhere, and it’s not a matter of cosmetics, money, race, or social status, but more about being yourself.” Through her work, Noroc hopes to celebrate diversity around the world, to celebrate the beauty of diversity. But what happens when she’s capturing beauty in a country that doesn’t celebrate diversity, and punishes its citizens for presenting anything other than a very narrow, government-dictated image of what is appropriate?
Noroc, however, seems unconcerned about the politics that govern the nation — even if those politics also severely limit the ability of women to express themselves in ways as small as through their personal style. “My project is about normal people, not about politicians,” she tells us — and to her credit, she does find a variety of women to photograph, from factory workers to waitresses to singers. But if her definition of beauty is contingent on the ability to “be yourself,” then these North Korean portraits have not fulfilled her mission.
Yes, the photos are an interesting look at the women of North Korea. Out of context, the photos are objectively beautiful, and the women are, too, because all women are beautiful, especially when they appear happy, healthy, and empowered. But when you consider that these women live in a nation where the United Nations estimates some 84% of households deal with “borderline or poor food consumption,” the photos start seeming like a red herring that distracts from those very problems to tell a false story in which the women living there have agency.
Read the entire article HERE.
The Stampede Continues
One year after initiating conversations to reestablish relations with the U.S., the Cuban Government continues its immobile posture, without taking a step forward.
The raised expectations, with which the immense majority of the Cuban population gave itself illusions, have stagnated, and the stampede of Cubans, most of them young, continues making news in all the foreign newspapers.
A new Mariel Boatlift, but this time by land, is happening. So far this year, the alarming number of national emigrants by different routes and countries, with Miami the final destination, has risen to 43,169, surpassing the massive emigration of 1994.
The loss of faith in the Cuban Government and the lack of those so-awaited changes have caused a large part of the Cuban people to opt for escape, in search of a better future for them and their families, in other latitudes. Even people who have the privilege of working in successful private establishments, like some private restaurants, realized that the options of expanding and becoming independent, and offering a better education to their children, were each time more unreachable.
Others, still clinging to what they call “change,” for lack of knowledge — for example, being able to travel, buy a car or an apartment, or sell their house — ignore that these so-called changes are nothing more than the return of some rights usurped by their own government, for which they don’t need to be so grateful.
While a real opening isn’t happening and the Government continues clinging and demanding nothing intelligent, and continues paying wages of poverty to professionals and preventing them from having their own business, everything will continue the same.
This makes me think that really they don’t want change that would make their ancient governmental structure totter, or the irremediable loss of power, which would cause the failure of their politics to be discovered.
As long as the higher-ups don’t have the courage to renounce and admit their own errors, and continue to entrench themselves behind demands and absurd accusations directed at our neighbor to the north, the migratory stampede will be unstoppable.
Translated by Regina Anavy
For decades, despite all the incontrovertible evidence, the left in this country has been loath to admit Cuba’s criminal Castro dictatorship is a terrorist regime. It does not matter how many terrorist acts they commit or how many terrorist organizations they arm or how many terrorists they give safe harbor to, the apartheid Castro dictatorship remains the poster child of the American left and they refuse to betray them.
That has always been the case until now. Presented with a chance to take a shot at two Republican Cuban American senators who happen to be running for president, the left succumbed to temptation and finally admitted that the Castros are terrorists.
Funny what motivates the left in this country.
Underdog Mauricio Macri Brings Down Kirchner Rule in Argentina
Voters Demand Change, an End to Peronism
Opposition-leader Mauricio Macri is poised to become Argentina’s first non-Peronist president in decades, putting an end to 12 years of socialist-leaning Front for Victory rule. With over 66 percent of polls counted, preliminary official results give the Cambiemos (we change) candidate a 7 percent advantage over the ruling-party candidate, Daniel Scioli.
A businessman and soccer-club president turned congressman and Buenos Aires mayor, Macri surged in the polls after a surprising performance in the first round of the election.
Election day was relatively calm, at least by Argentinean standards. Transparency-watchdog Ser Fiscal received at least 102 complaints of irregularities, including stolen and doctored ballots, small explosions, closed stations, and foreigners allegedly crossing the border to vote for President Cristina Kirchner’s successor.
Voting centers across the South American nation remained open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. local time on November 22. And José Luis Patiño, founder and chief technology officer at Ser Fiscal, told the PanAm Post that all complaints would show up on a map detailing electoral crimes.
Around 14:00 local time, Patiño said half of Argentina’s registered voters had already cast their ballots: “So far the election has been calm, but problems usually arise afterwards, when local leaders begin realizing who is leading the race. If something wants to try anything, he’ll do it near the closing time.”
However,”when there is a lot of control, those with bad intentions fail,” he explained.
Continue reading HERE.
The irony: While American cruise lines jockey for position to be the first to take American tourists to frolic and enjoy the sights and sounds of misery and squalor in apartheid Cuba, one of those cruise lines ended up rescuing eight Cuban refugees who managed to escape the island prison on a makeshift raft.
Royal Caribbean cruise ship stops to rescue eight Cuban refugees adrift in the Caribbean as shocked passengers look on
Eight refugees fleeing from Cuba were rescued by a Royal Caribbean cruise ship after they were spotted out at sea just before the sun came up on Sunday morning.
The refugees were floating on a row boat that appeared to be attached to barrels, with backpacks and paddles inside.
They were taken aboard the cruise ship aptly-titled Independence of the Seas until the US Coast Guard arrived and picked them up.
Passenger Mark Sims said that at first others believed the refugees were pirates trying to get on the ship.
There were more than 4,000 passengers and 1,500 crew members on board at the time.
This isn’t the first time a Royal Caribbean ship picked up Cuban refugees.
Just last month Freedom the Seas picked up seven Cubans who had been out in the ocean with only crackers and water for ten days.
Continue reading HERE.
Yesterday marked the 31st consecutive Sunday of repression in Cuba as the Obama-backed apartheid dictatorship of the Castro brothers violently arrested nearly 300 peaceful dissidents and human rights activists. Ever since President Obama surrendered to the apartheid Castro regime and began the “normalization” process between the two countries, violent repression in Cuba has risen significantly. Nevertheless, the Obama administration continues to give concessions to the brutal Cuban dictatorship although the regime has given absolutely nothing in return. Cuba not only continues to be a totalitarian state, they have become bolder and more vicious in their repression since receiving the green light from the U.S.
Nearly 300 Cuban Dissidents Arrested on Sunday
The human rights situation in Cuba is going from bad to worse under Obama’s blank check for the Castro regime.
For the 31st Sunday in a row, nearly 300 Cuban dissidents were arrested as they tried to attend Mass, then peacefully demonstrate as part of the #TodosMarchamos (#WeAllMarch) campaign.
In Havana, nearly 100 members of The Ladies in White — the renowned group composed of the wives, daughters, mothers and other relatives of Cuban political prisoners — were arrested.
Among those arrested was its leader, Berta Soler, who on Friday was threatened by Castro’s secret police that “her time in the opposition had come to an end.”
In the provinces, 98 activists from the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) were arrested in the eastern city of Santiago; 51 in Camaguey; 9 in Las Tunas; 9 in Guantanamo; and 12 in Holguin.
Among those arrested was Cuban labor leader and former prisoner of conscience, Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, who also received death threats from Castro’s secret police.
It’s “what change looks like” in Obama’s Cuba.