Cuban Political Prisoners of the Week, 5/1/16: Alexander Alan Rodriguez, Carlos Calderin, Jordys Dosil, Isain Lopez and Ernest Ortega
During President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba in March 2016, dictator Raul Castro said he would be willing to release all political prisoners; all he needed was a list of names.
Only the biggest fool would believe him, but several groups almost immediately released their lists. Of course, there was no mass release.
On April 25, the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, one of the most credible sources in Cuba for information on political prisoners released its updated list of 93 political prisoners.
A major goal of this blog since its inception more than 10 years ago is to recognize those brave Cubans imprisoned because of their opposition to, and their actions in service of their beliefs, against the Castro dictatorship. It is one small step to ensure that they, and their oppressors, know that they are not forgotten.
In that spirit, Uncommon Sense has revived one of its most important features, the Cuban Political Prisoner of the Week.
Alexander Alan Rodriguez, Carlos Amaury Calderin Roca, Jordys Manuel Dosil Fong, Isain Lopez Luna and Ernesto Ortega Sarduy, all activists with the Patriotic Union of Cuba, were among demonstrators arrested last summer while carrying out peaceful anti-Castro protests in the Parque Central in Havana.
According to the human rights commission, Alan, Calderin, Lopez and Ortega face charges of “disrespect,” while Dosil has been found to be a “pre-criminal social danger,” the Orwellian “crime” the Castro regime brands many of its political opponents, and sentenced to 3 years in prison. The others have not been sentenced.
Soon after they were arrested, Alan, Calderin, Lopez and Ortega were among several activists jailed at the Valle Grande prison who went on hunger strike to demand the end of political persecution and repression of opposition activists; elimination of the “pre-criminal social danger” law; and the release of all political prisoners.
Alexander Alan Rodriguez
Jordys Manuel Dosil Fong Carlos Amaury Ortega Sarduy
On right: Raul Castro and the CIA’s Robert Weicha shake on a deal in 1958 (the “deal” was a scheme concocted by Raul and Che Guevara’s KGB case-officer (Nikolai Leonov) which made monkeys of the CIA and opened the path for the Communist takeover of Cuba.)
Upon instructions from his KGB handler Nikolai Leonov in June of 1958, communist terrorist Raul Castro dutifully kidnapped 47 American hostages from the Moa Nickel plant and Guantanamo base in Oriente. The KGB-mentored plan was to blackmail the U.S. government to further pull the rug out from Batista and ease the way for the Sovietization of Cuba–and it worked splendidly. Above we see crackerjack CIA officer in Santiago, Cuba Robert Weicha and Raul Castro shake on the deal that freed the U.S. hostages. (i.e. that saw a clueless U.S. submitting to shameless KGB-directed blackmail.)
(Above left: Raul Castro eagerly employing the state of the art equipment provided to his KGB-directed terror-group by the CIA to launch Radio Rebelde, where these Stalinist-terrorists broadcast their fervent abhorrence of Communism and anything related to it. On right: retired KGB-officer Nikolai Leonov is a frequent guest on Cuban TV where he and Raul fondly reminisce (we imagine) about the monkeys they made of the CIA, especially (we imagine) CIA officer Robert D. Chapman who was assigned to the area where Raul Castro operated.
Top left: Che Guevara takes his turn broadcasting his fealty to liberty, justice and and democracy on radio equipment provided him by our crackerjack CIA (i.e. your taxpayer dollars, amigos.) On right. Raul Castro and his old KGB case-officer Nikolai Leonov continue fondly reminiscing–between guffaws.
Writing in the prestigious International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence (Volume 27, Issue 2, 2014) the man who served as the CIA’s crackerjack station chief in Santiago Cuba (the area where Raul Castro operated) from 1957-60 Robert D. Chapman bashes my book The Longest Romance pretty severely. In the official journal of American Center for Democracy he titles the same review: “Righting Cuban History.”
Gee? Now what could possibly have motivated him?
Well, let’s see; my earlier book Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant included a chapter very subtly titled, “Stupid Liberals in the CIA.” My latest book includes the following items:
“Me and my staff were all Fidelistas,” boasted Robert Reynolds, the CIA’s “Caribbean Desk’s specialist on the Cuban Revolution” from 1957-1960.
“Everyone in the CIA and everyone at State was pro-Castro, except (Republican) ambassador Earl Smith.” (CIA operative in Santiago Cuba 1957’59, Robert Weicha.)
“Don’t worry. We’ve infiltrated Castro’s guerrilla group in the Sierra Mountains. The Castro brothers and Ernesto “Che” Guevara have no affiliations with any Communists whatsoever.” (crackerjack Havana CIA station chief Jim Noel 1958.)
In the fall of ’57, the CIA smuggled into Cuba the state-of-the-art transmitters that became Castro and Che’s “Radio Rebelde” From these mics, the Castroites broadcast their “guerrilla victories” island-wide, along with their plans to uplift Cuba into a Caribbean Shangri-La.
“Without U.S. help Fidel Castro would never have gotten into power,” flatly testified former U.S. Ambassador to Cuba, Earl T. Smith during Congressional testimony in 1960… “The State Department played a large part in bringing Castro to power. The press, and the Chief of the CIA Section and other U.S. Government agencies also responsible…we (the U.S.) are responsible for bringing Castro in power. I do not care how you want to word it.”
Interestingly, former Santiago CIA station-chief Robert D. Chapman–while claiming I’m rewriting Cuban History–does not directly challenge the veracity (much less refute) any of the quotes or other items about the CIA which I expose in my book!!!
Here’s Mr Chapman’s rebuttal to my fully-documented charges: “This information (Fontova’s) conflicts with everything ever written about Herbert Matthews’s journey to Castro.”
Yes, Mr Chapman: THAT’S THE ENTIRE RATIONALE FOR MY BOOK!!!–(i.e. correcting the commonly-accepted media bullshit regarding the Cuban Revolution.)
My sources for the items that (so understandably offend and embarrass Chapman) are the sworn testimony of a U.S. ambassador to Cuba and the accounts from one of pre-Castro’ Cuba’s most respected political figures (Carlos Marquez-Sterling.)
But apparently crackerjack CIA intelligence sleuth Robert D. Chapman still prefers the word of the Julio 26 Movement! Apparently nothing in the intervening 57 years has caused Mr Chapman to question the veracity of the claims made by the folks (The Castro brothers, Vilma Espin, and the rest of Castro’s 26 Julio movement operatives in Oriente) he believed wholeheartedly from 1957-60!
Chapman also questions many other fully-documented items in my book, most notably the Castro regime’s death toll. True to form, Chapman still prefers the word of the Julio 26 Movement to the documentation of such as the Cuba archive.
Here’s some background on Chapman as provided by NPR, where he was a guest Cuba “expert” :
Robert Chapman, the chief CIA officer in Santiago, was on his first field assignment when he arrived in 1957 and found himself in the center of a revolution.
“I knew everybody in town, more or less,” Chapman says. “The press was coming through. I would brief them on security, and I later found that my name was posted in the New York Press Club. If you’re going to see Castro, see Bob, you know?”
In other words, CIA station chief Chapman was probably the official facilitator/travel agent for such as Herbert Matthews, Robert Taber, etc. to “interview” Castro!
Via Capitol Hill Cubans:
As Predicted, Castro Keeps Reverting “Reforms”
Obama’s policy supporters long argued that normalizing relations and easing sanctions towards Cuba would encourage Raul’s “reforms.”
That misses the glaring fact that Castro’s regime only responds when it’s economically pressed. For example, “self-employment” — albeit a half-measure — was a temporary reaction to loss of Soviet subsidies. Years later, with the remnants of the Chavez-Maduro regime in Venezuela imploding, Cuba resorted to it again.
However, as we warned several months before the Obama-Castro deal (December 17th, 2014), once the Cuban economy stabilizes or begins to “bounce back,” the Castro government will reverse itself to freeze or revoke any “reforms.”
Lift U.S. sanctions and Cuba’s government will solely focus on strengthening its state conglomerates and the repression required to suppress change.
That’s exactly what has been happening.
Here’s the latest from Reuters:
Cuba backtracks on food reforms as conservatives resist change
Cuba decided at a secretive Communist Party congress last week to reverse market reforms in food distribution and pricing, according to reports in official media, reflecting tensions within the party about the pace of economic change.
President Raul Castro unveiled an ambitious market reform agenda in one of the world’s last Soviet-style command economies after he took office a decade ago, but the reforms moved slowly in the face of resistance from conservatives and bureaucrats.
At the April 16-19 congress, Castro railed against an “obsolete mentality” that was holding back modernization of Cuba’s socialist economy. But he also said the leadership needed to respond quickly to problems like inflation unleashed by greater demand as a result of reforms in other sectors.
In response, delegates voted to eliminate licenses for private wholesale food distribution, according to reports over the past week in the Communist Party daily, Granma, and state television.
Delegates said the state would contract, distribute and regulate prices for 80 to 90 percent of farm output this year, compared to 51 percent in 2014, according to debates broadcast days after the event.
A thoughtful analysis from Dr. Jose Azel via The Azel Perspective:
With No Embargo, What Would Castro Do?
Ironically, an end to the travel ban on the merits of US tourists as communicators of democratic values would enrich the Cuban military — who control the tourism industry.
The recent editorials arguing for or against the continuation of the US embargo and travel ban towards Cuba have one feature in common; unlike the evangelical self-inquiry of “What would Jesus do?” the writers fail to ask the WWCD question. That is, what would Raúl Castro do if the United States were to unilaterally and unconditionally end economic sanctions?
This is a peculiar omission, since the formulation of US foreign policy is often compared to a chess game in which every prospective move is analyzed and weighted with an eye to what the adversary’s counter move would be. As with a conditional proposition in logic, a unilateral policy move by the United States implies reciprocity by Cuba in the “if … then…” array of possibilities.
And yet, advocates of a unilateral-unconditional ending of economic sanctions simplistically posit that the policy has failed and hence it must be changed, without advancing their vision of how the Castro government would respond to such a US initiative. This is an irresponsible approach to the formulation of US foreign policy.
Let me thus advance a WWCD scenario that, although necessarily speculative as these crystal ball exercises are, is perfectly consistent with the statements and actions of the Castro government.
First the obvious: Cuban officials would move to capitalize economically in every possible way, but most importantly by welcoming US tourists as the most immediate source of foreign exchange.
A corollary is that the Cuban government may also move to restrict travel by Cuban-Americans. The Castro logic is simple: US tourists do not speak Spanish, are not subversive, will have limited contacts with Cubans, and will stay in isolated resorts that are off limits to the average Cuban and controlled by Cuba’s security apparatus. Cuban-Americans, on the other hand, symbolize a more destabilizing and less profitable group, given their propensity to stay with family and friends and their ability to communicate in Spanish their experiences in a free land.
Ironically, an end to the travel ban on the merits of US tourists as communicators of democratic values would enrich the Cuban military — who control the tourism industry. Under this scenario, they would likely threaten travel by Cuban-Americans who offer more accessible evidence of the virtues of democracy and free markets.
My WWCD scenario foresees another Castro move that would be very awkward for the United States. For years, the Cuban government has carried out a very successful campaign in the United Nations and other international platforms to make a case for economic damages to Cuba caused by the US embargo.
In Cuba’s view, this policy by the United States has caused over US$116 billion in damages to the Cuban economy. The damages are detailed in yearly reports that Cuba submits to the United Nations. In the latest UN vote, 188 nations voted to end the embargo and only one nation voted with the United States.
Ending economic sanctions unconditionally would strengthen Cuba’s juridical case and would be exhibited by Cuba to the international community as an admission of culpability by the United States. Indeed, Cuba may seek reparations for damages in forums such as the International Court of Justice.
This “if … then…” scenario is not as far fetched as it may seem. The doctrine of state immunity, which protects a state from being sued, allows exceptions for disputes arising from commercial transactions. Moreover, scholars in this field have argued that states should not have immunity in cases relating to human-rights abuses.
Correspondingly, and astutely, the Cuban government has diligently built its case against the US embargo as a violation of human rights, contending it is a policy “deliberately designed to provoke hunger, illnesses and desperation in the Cuban population.” Opponents of the embargo naively reinforce Cuba’s case by always noting in their language that the embargo “only hurts the Cuban people.”
Some provisions of the embargo extend the territorial jurisdiction of the United States in a way shunned by most nations. The Cuban government will rejoice at the opportunity to place the United States “on trial” in international stages populated by anti-Americanism.
This is not to suggest that Cuba’s case would prevail and be awarded damages, but it is the sort of scenario that makes advocacy for a non-negotiated ending of economic sanctions such an irresponsible argument. Supporters of terminating the embargo unconditionally must be confused; the Castros are not the type to “turn the other cheek.”
No surprise here.
Another Sunday, another wave of repression in the Castro Kingdom.
Marti Noticias reports the following (my translation):
Throughout the island, dissidents who dared to express discontent with the Castro regime were beaten and arrested.
In Havana, according to dissident Antonio Rodiles, State Security agents deployed more agents than usual to ensure that most of the streets leading to Ghandi Park in Miramar were blocked.
“The Castro regime intends to wipe out the opposition in any way possible. This has been their objective since Obama’s visit to the island.” You can listen to his report HERE.
In Havana, at the Lawton headquarters of the Ladies in White, 27 Ladies and 4 other dissidents were violently arrested as soon as they stepped out, on the way to Mass at St. Rita church.
Eyewitnesses María Milán and Ariel González, report that those arrested were brutally beaten and dragged into a bus.
In another Havana neighborhood, Lady in White Lucinda González, was also intercepted by police as soon as she left her house. As she was being dragged away into a police car, she began shouting and also scattered onto the street some leaflets containing the text of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and some anti-government statements
In a very rare display of defiance, neighbors came to her aid and prevented the police from arresting her. But, as she spoke by phone with Radio Marti, she said her house was completely surrounded by uniformed and plain-clothes police who were threatening to knock down her door and arrest her. You can listen to her chilling account HERE.
In Santiago de Cuba, Guantánamo, Las Tunas, Isle of Pines, and Havana, over 200 members of the Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU) were arrested, according to its coordinator José Daniel Ferrer.
Diario de Cuba reports that several Ladies in White were also arrested in Matanzas. (Read that report HERE)
Here’s a scene straight out of Dante’s Inferno, as Gustave Doré could have never imagined it.
Enslaved tortured souls forced to take part in a May Day parade in Havana, at the crack of dawn.
They have to be there because their bosses and their local Committees for the Defense of the Revolution keep tabs on who shows up and who doesn’t.
And those who fail to show up will pay for it later, in myriad ways.
Those gathered there won’t have to listen to Fidel harangue them, as I did 55 years ago. He spoke for hours on end back then, blah, blah, blah, and his speech was broadcast throughout Havana’s streets via loudspeakers.
That was Hell too. But this hell is worse. Back then there were some who believed Fidel’s many promises, and had some hope of a better future through the theft of other people’s property.
It is so damn easy to fool the poor and uneducated, as well as the well-educated zombie youth of the so-called First World.
“Take from the haves and give it all to the have-nots and everything will be hunky-dory.” Yeah. Paradise regained. Feel the Bern.
Fifty-five years later, all everyone has is a labyrinth of ruins to inhabit and zero hope for the future.
And they still have to show up for the god-damned parade, despite the obvious failure of the so-called Revolution.
Worst of all, those who aren’t dumb enough to still believe all the lies have to pretend they have a deep abiding faith in all of the falsehoods that have been rammed down their throats since birth — such as the “victory of ideas.” On top of that they have to worship the satanic idols who continue to crank out the lies and still seek to assume divine status.
Hell on earth, Hell on earth, Hell on earth, Hell on earth…… repetition is a virtue in this case.
Anyone who has lived in that Hell knows why its name must be intoned repeatedly, infinitely, in a never-ending litany, for the sake of those who haven’t lived there.
God help us all. Deliver us from evil.
This is no longer Cuba. This is Hell on earth. Cuba has been dead for 57 years, and in Hell.
And its sojourn in Hell has been lengthened indefinitely — needlessly— for egoistic reasons, by the current unworthy occupant of the White House.
Who says poor persecuted Cuba lacks technology because of the embargo?
You know who. The Castro regime has been making that phony claim for decades, and the cult followers of the Holy Revolution have been echoing that complaint for just as long.
But take a look at this: a technician installing a surveillance camera outside the headquarters of the Ladies in White, in the Lawton neighborhood of Havana.
Progress. Yes, you betcha. Lots of progress, thanks to the Normalization Circus.
Go HERE for image and info tweeted by:
Victims of Communism Day
Today is May Day. Since 2007, I have defended the idea of using this date as an international Victims of Communism Day. I outlined the rationale for this proposal (which is not my original idea) in my very first post on the subject:
May Day began as a holiday for socialists and labor union activists, not just communists. But over time, the date was taken over by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes and used as a propaganda tool to prop up their [authority]. I suggest that we instead use it as a day to commemorate those regimes’ millions of victims. The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the total at 80 to 100 million dead, greater than that caused by all other twentieth century tyrannies combined. We appropriately have a Holocaust Memorial Day. It is equally appropriate to commemorate the victims of the twentieth century’s other great totalitarian tyranny. And May Day is the most fitting day to do so….
Our comparative neglect of communist crimes has serious costs. Victims of Communism Day can serve the dual purpose of appropriately commemorating the millions of victims, and diminishing the likelihood that such atrocities will recur. Just as Holocaust Memorial Day and other similar events help sensitize us to the dangers of racism, anti-Semitism, and radical nationalism, so Victims of Communism Day can increase awareness of the dangers of left-wing forms of totalitarianism, and government control of the economy and civil society.
Sadly, recent political trends show that this year is an especially important time for Americans, in particular, to recall the crimes of communism. The front-runner for the presidential nomination in one major party has praised the authoritarian leadership of of ex-KGB Colonel Vladimir Putin and and the “strength” displayed by the Chinese communists when they massacred thousands of students at Tiananmen Square. A leading candidate in the other party has extolled the supposed virtues of the brutal communist regimes of Cuba and Nicaragua, including even their bread lines, ideological indoctrination, and censorship of the media. The situation in this country is not nearly as bad as the wholesale whitewashing of communism that Vladimir Putin’s regime seeks to accomplish in Russia. But the fact that people who say such things can be serious contenders for the presidency is disturbing nonetheless.
In a 2012 post, I explained why May 1 is a better date for Victims of Communism Day than the available alternatives, such as November 7 (the anniversary of the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia) and August 23 (the anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet Pact). I also addressed various possible objections to May Day, including claims that the date should be reserved for the celebration of labor unions.
Continue reading HERE.
Goodbye, Jaime Ortega
Things are so bad in Cuba that any news about a shakeup in the country’s elite – even if it’s just a quasi-retirement, like that announced for Jaime Ortega– is good news.
Cardinal Ortega had been the Archbishop of Havana since 1981. In exchange for concessions for his Church, he ingratiated himself with the Castro regime to such a degree that he ended up being perceived as one more component of it. Under his leadership the Catholic Church sought and managed to recover a significant social presence, which is not illicit. What was wrong, however, was doing so by failing to denounce the social, political and economic crisis induced by the dictatorship, the lack of fundamental freedoms in Cuba, denying the existence of political prisoners and serving as a spokesman for the regime at international forums.
At these events the cardinal demonstrated an attitude of classist disdain and a lack of compassion, mercy and Christian love and sympathy for the “uneducated” or “criminals,” as he branded Cuban citizens demanding the rights. Ortega forgot the mercy that Jesus showed to thieves and prostitutes. Rubbing shoulders with “Castro’s princes” made him arrogant and led him off the path he had sworn to follow.
He served as a go-between for the Interior Ministry when it sent the Black Spring political prisoners into exile, thereby allowing the regime to avoid direct talks with the civil society groups that were pressuring the Government, and then proceeded to deny the existence of those same activists in Cuba. In this way he was complicit in the regime’s sleight of hand campaigns: making people disappear and then claiming that they don’t exist.
For all these reasons, though the cause of democracy in Cuba should not expect much from Pope Francis and Vatican strategies, the fact that Jaime Ortega has left the scene (at least partially) represents progress.
Former Political Prisoners Say US Failed on Promise To Bring Their Families From Cuba
Former Cuban political prisoners Niorvis Rivera, Aracelio Riviaux and Jorge Ramirezmet Thursday in Miami with staff for Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for help in bringing their relatives from Cuba.
The three were part of the group of 53 dissidents released as part of negotiations between Cuba and the United States that allowed the return to the island of the Cuban spies still in American prisons. But shortly after their release, the opposition members had been returned to prison.
Days before US president Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba on 20 March, they were released and taken to US territory in less than 72 hours, which some interpret as a goodwill gesture by Raul Castro’s government, and others as an attempt to hide the presence of political prisoners in Cuban jails.
According to the dissidents, US officials who mediated their release promised them that their families would also leave for the United States in less than a week. But to date, they remain in Cuba.
The opponents are threatening to return to the island “on a raft” if the process of reunification is not accelerated.
“We feel betrayed,” said Jorge Ramirez, an independent labor unionist from Villa Clara who claimed that the American embassy in Havana, the Catholic Church and the Cuban government had all gone back on their word.
“The American staff told us that our families would be here in a week,” commented Riviaux, a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), who spent nine years in prison charged with the crimes of assault, contempt and dangerousness.
“It’s been a month since our relatives went to Havana, and this is good. If we do not see any progress, we will be the next rafters, but heading in the direction of Cuba,” he said.
For Jorge Ramirez it’s “a trick” which they played on them to get them to leave the island. According to him, “possibly it involved officials of the American government and even the Vatican.”
According to Ramirez, the main problem is that while the Cuban government is putting obstacles in the way of the families leaving Cuba, they have no way to help them economically.
The mainstream media is absolutely AGOG(!!!) over this movie-making “milestone,” amigos!
(Media reacts to new movie about Hemingway in Cuba )
“That the movie was made at all during the economic embargo was a feat of diplomacy, financial and otherwise,” (Helen Verongos, the New York Times.
“Production values and on-location filming enhance the period flavor of “Papa: Hemingway in Cuba.” The scenes inside the Hemingways’ home were filmed at the real Finca La Vigia, which has been restored as a museum.” (Joe Leydon, Variety.)
“Getting it (the movie) made against the backdrop of the U.S. embargo against Cuba required years of dedicated effort by director Bob Yari.” (Eliza Berman, Time.)
For the benefit of the agog let’s flesh out this column’s title a bit and see if just maybe they can wrap their heads around this earth-shaking “milestone.” To wit:
A KGB-founded and mentored totalitarian regime whose founder boasted, “propaganda is the vital heart of our struggle,” who the CIA pegs with “creating the most effective propaganda empire in the Western Hemisphere,” whose KGB- mentored secret police meticulously vet every single visa applicant—especially journalists, academics and filmmakers –this very regime SOMEHOW permitted a Hollywood production crew on its sovereign soil!
Furthermore, this Stalinist regime’s military and secret police own the nation’s tourism facilities almost lock, stock and barrel. Ernest Hemingway’s haunts –from El Floridita bar to the Ernest Hemingway Marina to his former home Finca Vigia itself–rank among the Stalinist nation’s top tourist attractions.
…….And OH! ….Almost forgot: Recently declassified Soviet documents document how the subject of the film also served as an eager (but bumbling) KGB agent.
OK, ready media movie critic geniuses?!….Good. Now put on your thinking caps. Start gulping your favorite cognition–enhancing organic green tea! Twist yourselves into your favorite cognition-enhancing lotus position….ready?
You have three hours to formulate your answer to this question: “given the above can you perhaps guess why Cuba’s Stalinist authorities JUST MIGHT have rolled out the red carpet for these movie producers?…and why the Stalinist regime’s media is promoting it?
….Didn’t think so.
This “TRUE STORY!” by the way has the March 1957 attack on Cuba’s Palacio Nacional to try and assassinate Batista carried out by Castro’s July 26 movement (instead of by the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil, which was in fact a RIVAL to Castro’s terrorist group.)
This “TRUE STORY!” also has “J. Edgar Hoover investigating Hemingway–not because Hemingway was a full-flegded KGB agent, which of course is never mentioned in the movie–but because Hemingway had the goods on Hoover as a secret transgender dresser and flaming sodomite!
Fortunately, almost unanimously the critics are slamming the movie–not because of its historical imbecilities, of which the critics are utterly oblivious–but as as work of art. So hey! Let’s cross our fingers…just maybe this movie won’t replace Godfather II as America’s top educational source on pre-Castro Cuba!
“Humberto Fontova is a gifted polemicist who pulls no punches. A great service for liberty, justice and truth.” (The Weekly Standard on Fidel; Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant.)
Let’s not kid ourselves; none of these American companies tripping over themselves to partner up and do business with Cuba’s murderously repressive apartheid dictatorship have any intention of “exporting” freedom to the island.
Carnival’s cruise to Cuba all about pesos
Everybody loves cruising. Let the first person who hasn’t signed up for the all-night buffet, premium drink package and a shore excursion on an over-crowded beach cast the first container of SPF 50 sunscreen.
It’s all about flying free on the ocean, unencumbered from serious stuff we process daily.
I assume this is the marketing spin for Sunday’s inaugural sailing of Carnival’s Fathom, which will offer a little Havana Daydreamin’ on its 704-passenger ship. Ocean-view rooms were going for $2,470 per person.
The weeklong itinerary includes stops at ports along Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.
It also includes a political firestorm in murky waters. Carnival went along swimmingly with Cuban government demands banning Cuban-Americans from sailing to Cuban ports. For a while anyway.
Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago exposed the discriminatory nonsense after she was denied an attempt to book a spot on the cruise ship. A lawsuit piled on the pressure.
Carnival finally caved and dropped the policy recently. Cuban officials aren’t commenting. Perhaps they are acting coy while planning to round up tourists and lock them away as political prisoners.
It’s all a money grab. Exporting baseball, as the U.S. did in March, and then importing tourists on a regular basis is good for business on both sides of the Cuban-American divide.
Which gets us back to the Castros’ political squeeze play and its slap in the face to deny Cuban-Americans their rights as tourists. The Castros first literally ran Cubans from their homes in the 1960s, and then decades later are telling them they are not welcome back to visit by ship.
If my parents — who fled in 1961 — were still alive today, I would tell them the word the Americans would use to describe this is “ironic.” Also, “despicable” comes to mind.
I have no issues with free enterprise. The U.S. does business with a lot of unsavory nations. We’ll just add Cuba to the list. As long as everyone understands the rules of engagement, we are good. Nobody is exporting freedom for the Cuban people. They are just importing opportunity to make a boatload of money.
Just don’t expect a cent from many Cuban-Americans, including me. I sailed on Celebrity cruise lines in March, and had no problems with dictators denying me the opportunity to set foot in their countries.
Read the entire editorial HERE.
Keeping track of the pitiful demise of the Bolivarian republic of Venenozuela — a.k.a. the Castronoid republic of Caracastan — requires hardly any effort.
Every day — so it seems — several more items disappear from store shelves.
For anyone who hasn’t lived through a crisis of this sort, it might seem unimaginable. One’s daily life is quickly transformed into a real life-and-death struggle.
For those of us who lived through the same phenomenon in Cuba decades ago, it’s everything we expect to happen anywhere that the government turns socialist/communist.
Hate to say “told you so” to Venezuelans, but we did warn you. Yet so many of you voted for Chavez and Maduro and their Bernie Sanders/Castroesque soak-the-rich revolution.
Venezuela Runs Out of Beer
Venezuela’s largest privately-owned beer company has stopped producing beer after running out of malted barley (or, more specifically, running out of foreign currency with which to buy malted barley).
The company, Empresas Polar, stopped production yesterday—it warned last week that it would run out of malted barley by then.
Polar is putting “your drunk uncle’s favorite political forecast to the test,” Francisco Toro of the Caracas Chronicles wrote. “You know the one I’m talking about, right? That one uncle of yours who gets drunk at every family gathering and starts to rant about how the only way we’re going to get people mad enough to take to the streets and overthrow the government is if the beer runs out? Well, here you have it Tio.”
Beer now joins a long list of products and food that there have been shortages of in socialist Venezuela since the price of oil went down and the country’s government did nothing to loosen its grip on the economy.
Continue reading HERE