14yMedio in Translating Cuba:
“I Live Happy Because I Live Without Fear”
El Sexto tells of his incarceration in the Valle Grande prison
Map of the 4H Company in prison hand drawn by Danilo Maldonado, ‘El Sexto’
Danilo Maldonado, the graffiti artist known as El Sexto, finished a month in prison this January 25. He was arrested while riding in a taxi whose trunk was carrying two live pigs. The animals were painted green and each bore a name written on his side. On one could be read Fidel and on the other, Raul.
The artist’s intention was to release them in Central Park in order to recreate a rural tradition in which one tries to catch pigs with the added difficulty that their bodies are smeared with grease. His frustrated performance art was entitled Animal Farm, in Memoriam.
The light blue Lada that was transporting him was intercepted by three Revolutionary National Police patrol cars. The agents took away the identity cards of Danilo and the vehicle’s driver and took them to the Infanta and Manglar Station. Two days later, they transferred the artist to the Zapata and C unit where a prosecutor told him that he would be taken to trial. He stayed in those dungeons seven days until he was transferred to the central police station of Vivac de Calabazar, where he spent another seven days.
It happened that Vivac was the destination for dozens of arrestees accused of trying to participate in the performance announced by performance artist Tania Bruguera in the Plaza of the Revolution last December 30, which was interpreted by authorities as a counter-revolutionary provocation. Some of those arrested, who learned of his presence at the place, shouted, among other slogans, “Freedom for El Sexto.”
From the Valle Grande prison, where he is now, Danilo has sent us some jail anecdotes and a couple of drawings.
When I arrived at Valle Grande they took blood samples for the lab, shaved my head and beard. They also photographed me. During my stay in Vivac, they had diagnosed me with pneumonia, for which reason I was carrying antibiotics with me, but they took them from me and have not seen fit to return them to me so far, nor has a doctor listened to my chest to find out if I am the same, better or worse than when I arrived here. To make matters worse, I am surrounded by smokers who do not care at all that I am sick and asthmatic.
I am in Company Four. They call this place “the tank,” and there are all kinds of people. I met four dissidents from Alturas de la Lisa. Yorlay Perez, Yusel Perez, Santiago Perez and Hanoy.
One day a boy came into the tank who said he knew me from the park and that he followed my work on the streets. This swarthy young man of small stature surprised me when he took off his pullover revealing on his back a tattoo of the face of Fidel Castro. I explained to him that I am an opponent of the Castro regime and that the gentleman he wore engraved on his skin was the one responsible for me being a prisoner.
He responded that he had no family and that he was a “son of the fatherland,” for which reason Fidel had given him a home, and that was not happening anywhere else in the world. I told him that was true, that if he had been born in another country no one would have given him a home, but maybe he could have sought it for himself and that really he owed nothing to Fidel. I told him of the case of Amaury Pacheco, who with a family of six children was harassed into an eviction from an abandoned house in the Alamar suburb, where they had gone so far as to refuse him water and electric service.
Later I found out through another boy, whom I met in Vedado, that it was said that he was with State Security and that he always had a pistol under his shirt. His acquaintances nicknamed him the Hoarse One, but I called him Fidelito.
This son of the fatherland was prisoner for falsification of documents, something he had done in order to leave the country. In a single night he tried to hang himself twice.
Continue reading Reports from Cuba: ‘I Live Happy Because I Live Without Fear’
*@%$#!*!, How could we possibly come in second! Where did we go wrong?
In case anyone needs a reminder during these darkest of times for Cubans everywhere......
(this one comes from the You-Knew-This-Was-Coming department, which is now engaged in a fierce competition with the upstart You-Could-Have-Never-Predicted-This-One department across the hall).
We're Number One! We are the champions of the World! Numelo uno! Eat your heart out, Raulito! Your crappy dynasty sucks, mine kicks ass!
From Capitol Hill Cubans:
Cuba Remains World's Second Least-Free Economy
According to the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom, which was released today, Cuba remains the world's second least-free economy.
Cuba ranked 177 out of 178 in the world. Only North Korea is less free.
The Index of Economic Freedom is an annual guide published by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation.
The reason for Cuba's dismal placement is the Castro regime's insistence on monopolizing all foreign trade and investment, and the lack of a rule of law.
So why isn't U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker leading a trade delegation to Zimbabwe, which is two-notches freer than Cuba?
Why isn't the U.S. Chamber of Commerce forming a Working Group for Iran, which is six-notches freer than Cuba?
Or how about a U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Belarus, which is fourteen-notches freer than Cuba?
Rather, why are the Obama Administration and its agri-business allies so intent on financing Castro's brutal, monopolistic dictatorship?
Never mind our stellar You-Knew-This-Was-Coming department.
Right across the hall from that news desk, here at the luxurious Babalu headquarters (a huge mansion previously owned by the Vanderbilts), the You-Could-Have-Never-Predicted-This-One department can come up with really big surprises.
Take this shocker from Venezuela, for instance. Please allow the author of the piece to explain the surprise.
And please keep in mind we're dealing with a country run by Nicolas Maduro, a true genius admired for his intellectual prowess.
From The Miami Herald:
By Jim Wyss
Whoops? Venezuela uses strange picture choice in online promotional campaign
Venezuela is at a tourism convention in Spain this week trying to draw visitors. It has to be a tough sell, considering it’s one of the most murderous countries in the hemisphere and is prone to civil unrest.
Perhaps as part of the campaign, they’ve rolled out a hash-tag called #Amamosavenezuela or “We love Venezuela.” In a promo on state-run Telesur television the tag-line reads: “We love Venezuela for receiving foreigners like one of our own.”
Unfortunately, they’re using a picture of me at Miami International Airport from Nov. 2013. The reason I’m so happy is because I’m just getting back to the U.S. after spending 48 hours in detention in Venezuela.
Considering there are still dozens of people under arrest for protesting last year, perhaps the tag-line is right on.
Colleague Luisa Yanez, left, gives Jim Wyss, a welcome hug upon his arrival. Miami Herald reporter Jim Wyss arrived at Miami International Airport after being detained by Venezuela for three days on Sunday, November 10, 2013.
It is nothing less than remarkable how in such short order, Obama has managed to turn the embargo -- the only leverage the U.S. has against Cuba's viciously repressive apartheid Castro regime -- from an asset in negotiations to a liability in negotiations.
Our good friend Ed Morrissey has more on this disturbing feat at Hot Air:
Castro to Obama: Reparations, Gitmo, and cutoff from dissidents the price for normalized relations
The good news: The discomfort over the embargo of Cuba has led to a good bargaining position in talks with the US. The bad news: Raul Castro’s the one that thinks so. Far from being grateful for the diplomatic overture from Barack Obama, Castro wants the US to pay reparations for the economic damage that Castro says the embargo caused, plus the immediate return of control over Guantanamo Bay, as the opening ante for normalizing relations:
Cuban President Raul Castro demanded on Wednesday that the United States return the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, lift the half-century trade embargo on Cuba and compensate his country for damages before the two nations re-establish normal relations.
Castro told a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States that Cuba and the U.S. are working toward full diplomatic relations but “if these problems aren’t resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement wouldn’t make any sense.”
So much for the yearning of the Cuban people for normalcy, eh? As far as Obama’s suggestion that engagement will bring about reform in Cuba, Castro has another demand:
Without establishing specific conditions, Castro’s government has increasingly linked the negotiations with the U.S. to a set of longstanding demands that include an end to U.S. support for Cuban dissidents and Cuba’s removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
On Wednesday, Castro emphasized an even broader list of Cuban demands, saying that while diplomatic ties may be re-established, normal relations with the U.S. depend on a series of concessions that appear highly unlikely in the near future.
Only if one believes that these conditions will discourage Obama. He’s desperate for a foreign-policy achievement that will allow him to claim a legacy, and Castro knows it. (So does Iran.) Castro isn’t anywhere near as desperate for normalized relations with the US; he gets plenty of hard currency from the rest of the world, and exchanges it with the near-worthless Cuban peso with which he pays Cubans. Castro wants to strengthen his regime, and humiliating Obama will raise his prestige immeasurably at home.
As this opening bid shows, Castro’s main aim in these talks is clearly to humiliate Obama. After making this pronouncement, Castro will demand at least one of those conditions as non-negotiable, but they’re all non-starters for the US. The easiest for Obama to provide — cutting off pro-democracy dissidents — would expose Obama’s overture to the Castro regime as the craven bid for short-term glory that it is. This is otherwise a waste of time and diplomatic effort, and will be until both Castros are long gone from the scene.
Read the entire analysis HERE.
The rush to "normalize" relations with the Castro regime is a lot like a mindless stampede.
Those doing the rushing seem desperate, much like bargain hunters rushing into a Wal-Mart on Black Friday eve.
No, wait, that's too tame a stampede, since only a few people are ever injured during such events.
This rush is a lot more like lemmings rushing off a cliff.
One would expect a more cautious approach, especially from businesses and the U.S. government, given the long and very obvious track record of the Castro regime's constant shenanigans.
Of all of the items now being overlooked, none seems more surprising than the issue of "trade" with the Castro regime, which many seem to think will magically generate lots of income for the U.S.
In the first place, "trade" involves some sort of exchange. What does the island of Cuba produce? What can it trade? Zip. Nihil. Nada. Rien. Nichts.
It's once-lucrative sugar industry is dead. Its cigars may be expensive, but they don't add up to much. Rum? Forget that too. Cuba has no manufacturing and it imports much more than it exports. It can't even produce enough food, clothing, and housing for its own people.
And the Castro regime never pays its bills. The Cuban economy is way too weak to generate enough income to repay anyone, much less pay interest on loans. Its record of default is appalling and well-known. In 2013, for instance, Russia was forced to give up on collecting the 29 billion dollars owed to it by the Castro regime.
In essence Cuba is a predator and creditors are its prey.
So, now, thanks to the current occupant of the White House, the U.S. will begin selling agricultural products to the Castro regime on credit.
Lots of folks are excited about this. Very excited. Even the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture is excited.
One doesn't have to be a historian or an economist to be astounded by the blindness of these euphoric morons.
They are ignoring the obvious and refusing to listen to warnings.
Or perhaps they all know that the U.S. taxpayer will end up paying for the Castro regime's debts. That's a lot more likely than sheer willful blindness.
If that's the case, then all this hype from the Agriculture Secretary should win some sort of award for brazenness and deceit.
Mil gracias, Obamita! Senkiu beri moch....
from The Tampa Bay Times:
Agriculture Secretary says Cuba trade could grow by hundreds of millions
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack predicts U.S. trade with Cuba could rebound from its current $300 million to close to $500 million with Florida among the states capitalizing the most.
But to move to the next level, Vilsack urged Congress to go beyond the loosened trade restrictions recently ordered by President Obama. Specifically, he called for Congress to allow his department to promote trade in Cuba as well as other international markets where it is hamstrung.
"Today I can't use a single dollar of my trade promotion (budget) for our trade with Cuba," Vilsack said in an interview this week with the Tampa Bay Times. "It's 11 million people, a $1.7 billion market, and we really ought to be dominating that market."
Instead, he said, during the prolonged Cuban embargo the U.S. has lost ground to Europe and South America.
The list of agricultural products that could be exported to Cuba is a lengthy one: rice, poultry, soybeans, fruits and vegetables, to name a few.
Florida ports, he said, can capitalize two ways: as a direct shipper of fruits and vegetables and as a conduit for products brought in from other states.
Short of trade promotions, just the loosened restrictions that went into effect in January will make a difference, Vilsack said. For one, no longer will goods have to be paid for in advance which was a major disadvantages for Cubans "who don't have a lot of cash," he said. In the past, Cubans had to go through a third party to receive many American products; now they can deal directly with American banks.
Continue reading and weeping and gnashing your teeth HERE.
You're most welcome, King Raul, your majesty. Day-naahda, ah-mee-go!
They are trying to spin this as a "bipartisan" effort to open up tourist travel to Cuba when in reality it is a bipartisan manifestation of everything that is wrong with Washington D.C.
Via Capitol Hill Cubans:
Castro Asks, Flake-Leahy Deliver
Just 24 hours after Cuban dictator Raul Castro demanded a whole new series of concessions from the Obama Administration, U.S. Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) sought to satisfy him.
President Obama already -- unilaterally and unconditionally -- handed over most of his leverage on December 17th, so Flake and Leahy had to step up to the plate.
Thus, they introduced legislation today to lift the tourism ban and provide the Cuban military with a cash windfall.
Note the lifting of the tourism ban has been a priority demand specifically relayed to the Obama Administration on numerous occasions.
For those unaware, the Cuban military owns and operates the island's tourism industry -- hotels, restaurants, gas stations, car rentals, nightclubs, etc.
As a matter of fact, Hotels Magazine recently recognized the Cuban military as the largest hotel conglomerate in Latin America.
Tourism to Cuba's regime is akin to oil for Iran's.
And yet, that's exactly what Flake and Leahy seek to deliver on a golden platter.
By now it has become crystal clear that the "normalization" talks between the U.S. and the Castro regime are nothing more than an unconditional surrender ceremony.
Raul Castro has nothing but demands, including some huge items not mentioned in the infamous December 17th announcement.
No concessions of any sort from him, no sir.
Here is one of the important items that the U.S. won't be addressing any time soon.
From the Sun Sentinel:
U.S. has no idea how many fugitives Cuba is harboring
The United States does not know how many fugitives are in Cuba.
Nobody tracks it. Nobody even routinely asks for the return of those wanted on serious federal charges, much less more common state offenses, the Sun Sentinel has found.
Law enforcement officials on state and federal levels say paperwork is rarely filed in Washington to request diplomatic assistance out of a sense that doing so would be futile. The United States has no working extradition treaty with Cuba.
"I could request Mars send someone back and we'd probably have better luck" said Ryan Stumphauzer, a former U.S. assistant state attorney in Miami who prosecuted Medicare cheats, most of them Cuban-born. "We know Cuba is not sending anybody back."
Since President Obama's surprise shift in December toward normalizing relations with the Communist-led nation, some members of Congress have demanded that Cuba hand over fugitives. The irony: law enforcement isn't regularly seeking their return....
....The Sun Sentinel, in a recent far-reaching investigation into Cuban crime rings in America, disclosed that Cuban nationals are taking advantage of generous U.S. immigration laws to come to the U.S. and steal billions from government programs and businesses.
Millions of dollars have traveled back to Cuba, and many individuals flee there when police close in on scams the Cubans specialize in. These typically involve health care, auto insurance, or credit card fraud; cargo theft; or marijuana trafficking, the Sun Sentinel found.
The Sun Sentinel located one fugitive wanted in a million dollar Texas credit card fraud case living in Santa Clara, Cuba. He'd written to the judge in his case in 2013, saying he "went to the U.S. to steal" and included his return address in Cuba.
Prosecutors had no evidence he was actually in Cuba and had not sought his return. "We can't extradite from Cuba. We wouldn't reach out to the State Department in a case like that," said Scott Carpenter of the District Attorney's Office in Fort Bend County, Texas.
Read the whole article HERE.
The “military hero as coward” motif has a long tradition with Michael Moore. But his earlier oinkings in this regard–well before the release of “American Sniper”–were aimed at much safer targets.
“Wimps,” writes Moore in “Downsize This.” “These Cuban exiles, for all their chest-thumping and terrorism, are really just a bunch of wimps—that’s right: Wimps.”
In a manner that would instantly arouse and mobilize the politically–correct police (were it any minority group except overwhelmingly Republican Cuban-Americans) Moore was dissing Cuban-Americans in general but singling out the Bay of Pigs freedom-fighters for special spite and scorn....
“Florida’s Cubans” continues Michael Moore in his book “are responsible for sleaze in American politics. In every incident of national torment that has deflated our country for the past three decades…Cuban exiles are always present and involved.”
By the way, can you imagine someone writing, say: “New York Jews,” or “Detroit Blacks,” or “California Mexicans are responsible for sleaze in American politics,” and escaping the wrath of the usual watchdogs in these matters as did Michael Moore?
Our friends at The Blaze help disseminate a few items utterly unknown except in a few enclaves in Miami-Dade....
A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced a bill on January 29, 2015, to lift the U.S. embargo. This proves that the enemies of restoring freedom and democracy to Cuba come from both sides of the aisle.
Low information voters are bad enough. But maybe low information presidents, pundits, and legislators contribute to the problem. To wit:
“In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new. (President Obama, Jan. 21, 2015.)
“The permanent (Cuba) embargo was imposed in 1962 in the hope of achieving, among other things, regime change. Well. Regime change — even significant regime modification — has not happened in Havana.” (Syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor/analyst George Will, Dec. 24, 2014)
“In the end, I think opening up Cuba is probably a good idea. The 50-year embargo just hasn’t worked. If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn’t seem to be working.” (Congressman Rand Paul Dec. 18, 2014.)
Given the breadth of policy-making, policy-influencing and policy-brokering represented by the figures quoted above you’d hope that one might have prevailed upon their huge staffs to actually research the issue at hand.
They apparently did not. So here I’ll volunteer my services in hopes of raising the information level on this issue:
On January, 21, 1962 at Punta del Este Uruguay U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk gave a speech to the Organization of American States explaining the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba and recommending that the members join the U.S. in voting for these sanctions. In this speech there is not a single word–or even an inference–that regime-change was the embargo’s goal. “The United States objects to Cuba’s activities and policies in the international arena not its internal system or arrangements.”
Indeed, Secretary Rusk went out of his way to stress that regime-change was NOT the embargo’s goal. In brief, the U.S. was trying to contain Soviet-Cuban sponsored international terrorism:
Every terror group from the Weathermen to Puerto Rico’s Macheteros, from Argentina’s Montoneros, to Colombia’s FARC, from the Black Panthers to the IRA, and from the PLO to AL Fatah received training and funding from Castro.
Granted, while most were not immediately defeated they were certainly contained. Then for three decades the Soviet Union was forced to pump the equivalent of almost ten Marshall Plans into Cuba. This drain on her resources certainly helped bankrupt the Evil Empire.
OK, we’ve dealt with false premise No.1. But amazingly, this extremely wearisome embargo debate always starts from—not one–but two false premises. The second one asserts that the U.S. imposes on Cuba something properly definable as an “embargo,” even after Democratic Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama loopholed the original sanctions half to death with executive order after executive order... And, btw, WHY do the Castro brothers want the embargo lifted?
Well, according to all Cuba "experts" it’s because the Castro brothers (who have micro-managed a totalitarian fiefdom almost five times as long as did Hitler and over twice as long as did Stalin and Mao) are suicidal nincompoops."
Our friends at Frontpage Magazine help disseminate items well-known hereabout--but UTTERLY UNKNOWN almost everyplace else.
The current occupant of the White House claims that the "normalization" of relations with the Castro regime will bring about a resurgence of free enterprise on the island.
He's not alone. Nearly everyone who tries to defend the new U.S. policy of engagement with the Castro regime cites the "fact" that there are now private enterprises owned by Cubans and that these entrepreneurs are going to transform their nation as soon as the embargo is lifted and American tourists flood the island.
Take a look at this 68-year-old "cuentaproprista" (self-employed entrepreneur) who sets up shop every day on some convenient sidewalk on Belascoain Street in central Havana -- a street supposedly teeming with private businesses.
He sells used merchandise that he obtains by doing odd jobs in once-fancy neighborhoods where elites still live: Miramar, El Vedado, Playa. This is what he receives as payment from the privileged foreigners and oligarchs who employ him ad hoc to cut grass or trim shrubbery.
Excuse me, pardon the slip of the tongue: this isn't used merchandise; the proper term is previously-handled merchandise. (Can't say previously-owned because private property is taboo in the Castro Kingdom).
In the U.S. this is the kind of junk found in flea markets, yard sales, or Salvation Army stores. And from the looks of it, his inventory would be hard to sell, even in the poorest of American neighborhoods. This stuff might even be given away for free, and still be refused.
This is the kind of businessman the new engagement with the U.S. is going to turn into a freedom-demanding wealthy power broker.
And this is the kind of economic system that will catapult all Cubans into first-world status, with the help of American tourists, naturally.
Yes, you can bet on it. For sure. As Charlie Sheen was once fond of shouting: "Winning!"
Thanks to Martha Beatriz Roque for the photos and the story.
Here we go again.
Favoring the Castro regime and denigrating Cuban exiles seems to be a hard habit to break for the New York Times.
The addiction is evident, and so is the giddiness with which that newspaper enjoys this peculiar habit.
Unfortunately, there is no rehab for this addiction, and if there were, the NYT would be a prime candidate for perpetual relapses.
The only prescription for the NYT's bigotry fever seems to be more bigotry.
This time around, they recruited Ann Louise Bardach, one of the most virulent of pro-Castro anti-exile bigots, to write a special piece on one of the items on Raul Castro's list of demands.
Ann Louise Bardach
Although a reference to Dana Carvey's old SNL "Church Lady" skits was probably unintended, the title of her essay echoes one of the Church Lady's favorite sarcastic insults:
"Well, isn't that special?"
What makes this essay so special is the way in which it combines two of the favorite flavors of the day: the "normalization" issue with race-baiting.
Yes, race-baiting. Did you know that the chief reason we Cubans enjoy a preferential immigration status is the fact that most of us are white?
And --of course -- you must have already known that Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Robert Menendez are "privileged" white racists who love being unfair to dark-skinned Hispanic immigrants?
Yes, sir, yes ma'm. And get a load of the carefully-selected--perhaps specially commissioned--image used to illustrate this essay, which reinforces its race-baiting:
Wait a minute, Ann, wait a minute, NYT, aren't all Lateeeeen-oh's NOT white by definition?
What about all those forms we have to fill out with little boxes to check: White, Hispanic, Asian, African-American, Native American, Alaskan, Aleut, and so on? Don't those forms prove that "Hispanic" is a non-white race?
Oh well, we just can't win. On top of being white rather than "Hispanic" we Cuban exiles are also Republicans who constitute a "veritable crime syndicate."
As Jimmy Fallon might say on one of his Friday night Thank-you sessions:
THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH, NEW YORK TIMES, FOR PUTTING THE "BIG" IN "BIGOTRY."
Why Are Cubans So Special?
By Ann Louise Bardach
Every Cuban knows the “wet foot, dry foot” drill: Risk fleeing to the United States and get caught at sea, and you will be sent back to the island; but if you wangle just one toe onto dry land, you’re home free. From there, typically, it’s a fast track to permanent residency, and eligibility for all manner of benefits, from green cards to welfare, then citizenship — all compliments of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. Indeed, for almost a half century, Cubans have been the most privileged immigrants in the United States.
The repeal of this Cold War relic of immigration policy is long overdue. Last week, on the same day that the highest-level American diplomat in almost 40 years arrived in Cuba, the Miami-Dade County Commission unanimously voted to petition Congress to revise the act. Should the commission get its wish, the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, devised in 1995, would likely also be upended.
Most Americans are under the impression that the Republican Party is unequivocally opposed to amnesty for immigrants. In fact, it has long backed a blanket amnesty — but only for Cubans. For every other hopeful immigrant, the party’s message has been clear: “Deportations, deportations, deportations,” to quote Jorge Ramos, the Walter Cronkite of Spanish-language television. Why?
One answer is that the 2.1 million Cuban-Americans have been, until quite recently, a rock-solid Republican constituency. There is also a race and class issue. Unlike most of Central and Latin America, Cuba does not have a distinct indigenous population (the Spanish slaughtered almost all of the native Indians of the island). Hence those fleeing the Castro regime in the 1960s and ’70s were almost entirely white, educated and middle or upper class....
....There are...compelling reasons to end the Cuban Privilege. One of them is fairness. Are Cubans seeking a better way of life really more deserving than, say, refugees fleeing death squads or drug cartels?
Another is its enabling of a veritable crime syndicate....
Continue your exposure to this venom HERE. There are many, many more toxins to inhale in the rest of this piece.
Love that Niuyortain: it's so special! Obey its commands, Obamita, or else!