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  • asombra: As for Fidel, nice biceps, no? Sheesh. Talk about delusions of hotness.

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Relegating human rights and democracy in U.S.-Cuba policy

Weakened as it is, that pesky embargo is in fact all that remains in this world of tangible support for a return to the rule of law and self-determination for the Cuban people. Those calling for an end to embargo are either naive, have $$ "business interests" $$, or a political agenda favorable to the regime.

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

How to Relegate Human Rights and Democracy in U.S.-Cuba Policy

In light of recent lobbying efforts by the Castro regime and its cohorts, along with The New York Times, to unilaterally and unconditionally ease U.S. sanctions, El Nuevo Herald recently interviewed four of Cuba's most renowned democracy leaders.

They are The Ladies in White's Berta Soler, the Cuban Patriotic Union's (UNPACU) Jose Daniel Ferrer, Estado de Sats' Antonio Rodiles and Arco Progresista's Manuel Cuesta Morua.

All four strongly agree that human rights and democracy should remain the priority of U.S. policy towards Cuba.

Moreover, three of the four -- Soler, Ferrer and Rodiles -- support current U.S. sanctions and believe they should remain in place until the Cuban regime takes significant steps towards human rights and democracy.

Only Cuesta Morua was not against the lifting of sanctions, though he is quite weary of those who intentionally obliviate human rights and democracy to further their Cuba policy objectives (i.e. this year's Council of the Americas letter, which he strongly criticized).

So how does he reconcile the two?

Essentially, through wishful thinking.

Cuesta Morua stated:

"I don't think the United States, if it takes a step towards normalization, will abandon the agenda of human rights."

Think again.

If relations with Cuba were normalized, the United States might occasionally raise the issue of human rights and democracy rhetorically -- but in practice it would be relegated to the bottom of the agenda.

The United States' agenda towards Cuba would become subject to the priorities of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Farm Bureau, the National Foreign Trade Council, every major agribusiness and oil conglomerate, etc.

None of whom care one bit about the human rights of the Cuban people -- nor of the Iranian people, Syrian people, Burmese people, et al.

This is not a theory. It is a fact.

Just take a look at U.S. policy toward China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia or even Venezuela.

Let's not forget, the State Department passionately opposed -- until it was embarrassed by the General Hugo Carvajal fiasco -- simple visa restrictions against individual human rights violators from the Venezuelan government.

(For that matter, why hasn't the rest of the Western Hemisphere lifted a finger on behalf of human rights and democracy in Venezuela, despite no U.S. sanctions and normalized relations with everyone?)

Or take a look at Obama's current Hong Kong "quandary."

As Politico wrote this week:

"Despite calls from some American lawmakers and democracy advocates in Hong Kong that the president speak out more forcefully on the side of student demonstrators, who want less interference from Beijing, Obama has publicly held his tongue."

Of course, Castro's D.C. lobbyists and apologists know that if relations with Cuba were normalized, human rights and democratic reforms would be relegated, which is why they are marketing the The New York Times' "bag of goods" that, "[normalizing relations] would better position Washington to press the Cubans on democratic reforms."

Most Cuban democrats know -- and the facts show -- that this would not be the case.

Image Below: Cuban dictator Raul Castro with U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue.

raul-castro-thomas-donohue_v8tnqt

Another enslaved baseball player escapes Cuba’s slave plantation

Via NBC Sports:

Cuban second baseman Andy Ibanez defects to sign with MLB team

http://nbchardballtalk.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/andy-ibanez-cuba.jpg?w=320

Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that 21-year-old second baseman Andy Ibanez has defected from Cuba with the intention of signing with an MLB team.

Ibanez was the youngest player on Cuba’s World Baseball Classic roster last year and Badler rates him as the No. 8 prospect still in Cuba. However, he’s unlikely to get a huge contract because as a 21-year-old with only three seasons of experience in Cuba he’s subject to the international spending limits that Cuban veterans are able to avoid.

Badler speculates that he’d likely begin his American career at Double-A and projects as a solid regular rather than a potential star.

Both the Castro regime and its “dissidents” back the same U.S. political party (any more questions?)

raulcastro3Fariñafid1

The Castro family's (from Mariela's to Fidel's himself) endorsements of Obama need no elaboration hereabouts--I hope.

And now famous Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas has endorsed Democrat Joe Garcia against Republican Carlos Curbelo--to the point of headlining in a TV commercial for the Democratic candidate.

And why shouldn't he? Farinas is acting perfectly rationally. Simply follow the money (botellita) trail. Lately Jorgito Mas' Cuban Foundation for Human Rights has been cadging the most U.S. taxpayer money for the vital U.S. taxpayer duty of helping upkeep the likes of Guillermo Farinas and Yoani Sanchez. And it's no secret who Jorgito backs...elementary my dear Watson--(and my dear U.S. taxpayer.)

Persecuted dissident Farinas has also come out for keeping open the vital remittance and travel economic lifeline from persecuted Cuban refugees to the persecuting Castro regime. This economic lifeline (partly at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer who obviously foots the bill for the "refugee" benefits) annually totals about what the Soviets used to send Cuba.

farinas98raul5JOEGARCIACONFORMELYLOSCASTRISTASDELEXILIO

Rod-Serling

"Imagine if you will...a place where a totalitarian terror-sponsoring regime maneuvers those portrayed as its opponents to lobby in favor of among its most vital economic lifelines. Then imagine that both this lobbyist and the economic lifeline are subsidized by the taxpayers of a nation portrayed as an implacable enemy..."

Fidel laughing8

The Cuban Missile Crisis Fairy Tale

Frank Sinatra and President John F. KennedyKennedy-woos-the-press-at-his-first-press-conference-1961-life
"Fairy tales can come true--it can happen to you...."

Imagine ISIS raising its flag over Bagdad and Damascus, the U.S. scooting from its bases in Saudi Arabia and the history books and media all hailing President Obama as a peer to Richard the Lionheart and El Cid. Crazier things have happened.

Take JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Imagine an Obama Presidency--but with only Chris Matthews, Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow “reporting” on TV and only Paul Krugman and Nicholas Kristof scribbling. No Fox News. No Rush. No Mark Levin. No Glenn Beck. No internet. That’s what John F. Kennedy enjoyed.

Hard as it might be for those who weren’t around at the time (or those with short memories) to imagine, only in his sweetest dreams can President Obama envision the slobbering love affair the media carried on with President Kennedy.

It's a tribute to the power of Castroite mythology that, even with all this information a matter of public record for almost half a century the academic/media mantra (gloat, actually) still has Castro, "defying ten U.S. Presidents!" Instead he’s been protected by them.

Our friends at Townhall help disseminate items UTTERLY unknown outside the miniscule Cuban-American informational ghetto.

The left wins, and that is really bad news from Brazil

 

Cuba hasn’t earned embargo’s end

The Editorial Board of The Miami Herald:

Cuba hasn’t earned embargo’s end
http://miamiherald.typepad.com/MH-logo.gif

In October of 1960, the United States imposed an embargo on exports to Cuba covering all commodities except medical supplies and certain food products. That was the beginning of a trade embargo that still endures and still inspires heated debate.

The anniversary of the embargo, plus this week’s upcoming vote in the United Nations condemning it — which the United States will lose, as usual — have prompted calls for a reassessment. Dropping the embargo altogether would require action by Congress. Meanwhile, anti-embargo advocates say, there’s a lot the president can do to soften or minimize its effects and open the door to restoring full ties with Cuba.

We disagree. Such a move would be premature and utterly lacking in justification at this time.

Granted, Raúl Castro has loosened the reins on the tightly controlled economy to permit more individual businesses. Some citizens can own property, and new rules are designed to encourage foreign investment. But it’s only because Cuba has been frozen in time for so long that such minimal change seems so dramatic. The Cuban nomenklatura still runs the Soviet-style planned economy that largely remains in place, and its members remain its major beneficiaries.

Some see vague government statements from Havana welcoming renewed diplomatic ties with the United States as a sign that it’s willing to negotiate longstanding differences. We would attribute that not to any goodwill but rather to Cuba hedging its bets as it nervously watches the slide in oil prices and the rise of political instability in Venezuela.

The Andean country has been the Castro brothers’ main benefactor in the last few years, helping prop up Cuba’s chronically weak economy with cheap oil. But if oil prices continue to drop, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro will need every penny he can get selling oil on the international market. He won’t hesitate to throw Cuba under the bus if it means survival for the Chávez movement in Caracas.

That makes the timing of any move by Washington toward Havana particularly inappropriate. Why throw it a lifeline now?

Continue reading HERE.

Memo to The NY Times about lifting another embargo

 

New York Times’ editorial board demonstrates their undying faith in the healing powers of ending the Cuba “embargo” (for fourth time in two weeks.)

newyork4newyork2newyork3new york67

"That evolution (against the embargo) has allowed a growing number of seasoned politicians to call the embargo a failure and argue that ending America’s enmity with Cuba represents the best chance of encouraging positive change on the island." (NY Times Oct. 25, 2014)

Whatever else you might say, at least the folks in the pics above are (were) probably sincere in their faith....now, regarding the NY Times and their sources for this marathon of Castroite editorials claiming the totalitarian regime will be hurt by an end to the so-called embargo????

sala5phil4sweig7raul5fid1

Dispatch from home: thank God for exile and injuries.

Cuban refugees in Bloomington, Illinois, October, 1963

Cuban refugees in Bloomington, Illinois, October, 1963

Fifty years ago, when I was living with my uncle Amado in Bloomington, Illinois, I routinely helped him proofread the letters he  sent to the local newspaper, The Bloomington Pantagraph.

My uncle, who was born in 1900, two years before Cuba became an independent nation,  had learned English as a child in the 1910's.   He left everything at the age of 62 and came to the United States as penniless and clueless as any other Cuban refugee.  But he never stopped dressing as a Cuban gentleman, even when taking a stroll in the countryside on a Sunday. (See photo above)

His English was good, but rusty.  He didn't ever have to use it very much in Cuba, where he was a successful architect .  Most of his clients were fellow Cubans who were building new homes and businesses.

Hard to believe, but true: there was a time when Cubans used to build houses and businesses with their own hard-earned money, and Cubans who made a living by designing and building those houses and businesses.

I digress.  My uncle wrote letters to the Pantagraph every week -- sometimes more often than that -- in which he would point out all of the incorrect facts about Castro's Cuba reported by the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, and other news agencies.  Before sending these letters, he'd ask me to polish his rusty English.   His grammar was always correct, as well as his spelling, but he still thought in Spanish and his phrasing was somewhat awkward.  This very smart and very wise and very kind man was not ashamed to have his writing corrected by his snotty 13-year-old nephew, who was far less smart, wise, or kind, and whose knowledge of English was still so shaky that he actually admired and imitated the charming accent of Andy Griffith and the Beverly Hillbillies.

We were living at the very edge of absolute poverty.  My uncle earned very little working as a lowly draftsman at an architectural firm that focused on building churches and banks.  He was probably the lowest-paid employee.  To make matters worse, he had one daughter with severe disabilities, a wife who knew no English at all, and two good-for-nothing nephews who were an additional drain on his meager income.  The local welfare office refused to give him any assistance when he took in those nephews, but I never heard him complain about that.  He never expressed anything but gratitude to the United States for having allowed him to escape Castrogonia.

My uncle literally counted his pennies at the grocery store and used every coupon he could find in the Pantagraph's food market inserts.  We kept the thermostat set as low as possible during winter and even kept the vents closed in two rooms.  During the coldest days, ice would form inside our windows.  In those two rooms with the closed vents --one of which contained our 1920's washing machine and clotheslines-- you could always see your breath.  Sometimes, the wet laundry we hung on those clotheslines would freeze and get as hard as plywood.  We had no car, and no telephone, and the television given to him by the First Presbyterian Church could only receive signals from  one channel (a CBS affiliate in nearby Urbana, Illinois).  All of our somewhat bruised furniture had been given to us by the Presbyterians and the Methodists.  All of our clothes came from the Salvation Army store, which was just a few blocks down the street from our rented bungalow.

I remember one of his letters very clearly.  The Pantagraph had published some news story about the wonderful advances in agriculture that Fidel's so-called Revolution was making.  My uncle's face had turned red while he read that article, and I could see the veins on his bald head throbbing furiously.

I wish I had a copy of that letter.  It was beautiful.  And, as was the case with many of his letters,  the Pantagraph probably didn't publish it.   In it, my uncle rhapsodized about the corn and soybean fields that surrounded Bloomington and the abundant food available in our local stores.  That abudance, he pointed out, was only possible under a free-market capitalist economy.  Then he described in great detail all of the ways in which Cuban agriculture had been ruined by Fidel's communism, as well as all of the endemic shortages Cubans had to endure.   The lies being published by the Pantagraph were not just sheer communist propaganda, he said, but dangerous and evil.

I also remember him saying that he wished he could send a photo of the corn and soybean fields to Fidel, just to make him green with envy.  "'This is what you will never be able to achieve,' that's all I would write on the back of the photo," said my uncle.

Yesterday I went apple-picking with my lovely wife Jane and two of my grown children.  I couldn't help but think of my uncle Amado and that letter.  The sheer overabundance of the orchard left me breathless.  The beauty of the landscape actually made me weep.

IMG_0521

Children of Cuban refugee in Northford, Connecticut, October 2014

(If you have never been to New England in autumn, you might think I'm exaggerating, but the landscape here right now is so beautiful, so full of color, that it deserves to be described as unearthly, or as too beautiful to be real.  According to one of my  former professors, an English scholar who visited Yale in the fall back in the 1930's actually complained about the colors as "lacking in restraint and a bit overdone." )

The view from one of my windows.

The view from one of my windows.

It was the last day for apple-picking this season.  Most of the trees had already been picked clean.  But there were a few that had apples in hard-to-reach spots.  Row after unrestrained row, apples littered the ground under the trees.  Thousands of apples, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, mostly in perfect shape.  They had just fallen off or been knocked off.  There were enough beautiful apples on the ground at that orchard to distribute to every Cuban in Havana.   And this is just one relatively small orchard, in a somewhat urban area.

My uncle's idea of sending a photo to Fidel popped into my head, along with what he wanted to write on the back of that photo:  "This is what you will never achieve."

Thanks to my parents --who wisely tossed me across the Florida Straits -- I am here, rather than there.  Thanks to God, I am still alive, and able to walk, after cracking my skull in several places.  So what if my head buzzes all the time?  So what if it hurts?  So what if I get tired easily?  So what if I can't hear too well in my right ear?  So what if I sometimes feel as if I'm a glob in a lava lamp?  I'm alive, and I'm in New England, not in Castrogonia.  I can pick as many apples as I want, and so can everyone else.   My fellow apple-pickers were  a mixed bunch: white Americans, black Americans, Asian Americans, foreigners of all sorts too, speaking tongues I couldn't understand.   No one was rude or pushy, not one unkind word was spoken by anyone.   No one had to watch us to make sure we behaved correctly.  No one told us what to do or how to do it.

Bishop's orchard, Northford, Connecticut

Bishop's orchard, Northford, Connecticut

Thanks to my injuries -- which brought me close to death and still threaten me with a sudden stroke -- everything about that orchard seemed to be an uncommonly special gift.  Great God Almighty, what a world, and what luck.  I am here.  My loved ones are here with me.  The sky is so blue.  And everything here is so much better than whatever I lost in my native land.   If this is exile, give me exile forever.   If this is convalescence, give me convalescence forever.   Let me be grateful forever, never let my gratefulness cease, or my wonderment.

We bought $75.00 worth of apples.  At least six different varieties, including some I had never heard of before.  Jane made two apple  cakes today. We'll be eating and sharing more cakes and pies, along with home-made apple sauce.

Eleven million Cubans now live in an earthly hell where it is impossible for them to experience anything like this.  It has nothing to do with the fact that apples won't grow in Cuba, or the fact that the island has no autumn season.   Cubans could be picking all other sorts of fruit in orchards large and small, from one end of their island to the other, in landscapes equally beautiful, equally "unrestrained and over the top."    And they wouldn't have to wait for only one month out of the whole year to do it.  They could be loading their Cuban-manufactured or imported cars with bags full of fruit every month of the year, and bringing the fruit to their own well-maintained houses, to kitchens full of new appliances that they bought in Cuban-owned and Cuban-run private businesses.

The sole reason those eleven million Cubans are deprived of such experiences is that they live in a communist totalitarian dictatorship run by a military junta.  And the only way that situation will come to an end is for that system to be replaced by one similar to the one I am lucky enough to live in.

Call it whatever you want: Castroism, communism, socialism, utopianism.   It stinks.  It always stinks.  It never works.  Without private property and a free market economy, there is never genuine freedom or prosperity.

No phony band-aid "reforms" will ever fix what is wrong in Cuba, no compromises with its bloodthirsty greedy oligarchs will ever do it either.  Nothing ever suggested by The New York Times editorial staff will allow Cubans to live as free prosperous people. And forget about apartheid tourism fixing anything.  It will only make things worse.

Look at these bags full of apples -- a portion of our harvest yesterday.  As my wise uncle Amado would say, this is what Castroism, communism, and 21st century Latrine socialism will never, ever achieve.  And this is what all of the bigots at The New York Times refuse to acknowledge, along with their willful ignorance, prejudice, and contempt.

 IMG_0527

 

 

 

 

El Niagara en Bicicleta

Bicycle

Much has been made of the health care system in Cuba. Many brag about the competency of Cuban physicians, while others discuss the free health benefits offered to the Cuban population. But like the propaganda by the New York Times editorials, much of the vibe is a smoke screen for the truth.

And the best way to get the truth is to listen to the popular song by Juan Luis Guerra: El Niagara en Bicicleta.

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUzkUq0RLyc

Reports from Cuba: The misery that unites us

By Rebeca Monzo in Translating Cuba:

The Misery That Unites Us

When the ill-named Special Period began in 1989, three years had passed since I had quit my job with the Cuban National Commission of UNESCO (with all that that implies), where I worked as a secretary. I was making 148 Cuban pesos (CUP) a month at a time when a pound of ham that tasted artificial and weighed half that amount once you removed the excess water cost 6.00 CUP. I was earning only 6.20 CUP a day.

Around this time, thanks to my very good and late friend Poncito, I had found out about the Cuban Association of Artisan Artists (ACAA) and how much it was growing. So, after submitting three samples of my work and letters of recommendation from two of its member artists, I was admitted to the organization, which allowed me to be my own “immediate supervisor,” improve my quality of life and work from home, which had become a veritable artist’s studio.

By then my older son was pursuing a career in design, my niece — who was also living with us — was in college and my younger son was in primary school. On weekends the house was filled with kids and on weekdays my friends — all of whom were professionals who worked  nearby — came over for a little peace and quiet, a cup of tea and a friendly atmosphere.

Since we all truly believed this was the end of the System, I “broke out” (as we often say here) my best porcelain china cups — family heirlooms — and filled them with Soviet black tea or an infusion of lemongrass stalks from my patio. Sometimes I managed to make a tasty pudding to sweeten our get-togethers. Outside my four walls the world looked grey and menacing. People on the street walked with their heads down and their shoulders slumped.

I remember one particular birthday during this period when there was nothing in the stores and only a few vegetables in the produce market. Some architect friends suddenly appeared at my door singing “Happy Birthday” and carrying a beautiful basket they had fashioned from cardboard and decorated with a beautiful bow made out of newspaper. Inside it they had carefully and tastefully placed some green bananas, several taro and half of a small pumpkin.

My friend the painter showed up with a beautiful painting of sunflowers. And the dentist, who was never able to fill even one cavity for me due to a shortage of materials, did me the honor of giving me a pixie haircut. He was a master at challenges like this. It was without a doubt one of the most memorable birthdays I have ever had.

As time went by, everyone’s lives gradually got more complicated and they began leaving the country. My children also left and this house, which had always been so happy and bustling, began descending into silence and solitude. I continued working as an artisan-artist and started meeting new people, making new friends (some of whom have also left) and seeing a new world open up through my blog.

Other wonderful people keep crossing my path, people who have given new meaning to my daily routine as well as the courage and strength to carry on. These days I am busy preparing for the next exhibition of my work outside “my planet,” taking advantage of our newly “restored” right to travel freely, which had been denied us for almost half a century.

Tweet of the Day – Building socialism in Cuba

By dissident blogger and photographer Yusnaby Perez:



https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bx22_GSCAAElGFN.jpg

Havana after 56 years of "building socialism." NOTE: Not one bomb has ever gone off here.

Another shameless New York Times editorial in support of Cuba’s apartheid Castro dictatorship

Not much has changed at The New York Times since the days of Castro propagandist Herbert Matthews. More than a half century later, the Times editors are still shamelessly shilling for the murderous Castro dictatorship and their apartheid regime.

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Desperate and Shameless: The New York Times' Latest Cuba Editorial

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-q917ojjB9ag/VEzq3YnSYXI/AAAAAAAAShQ/2eRIuNGonG0/s1600/cny.jpg

Last Sunday, The New York Times treated us to an editorial on U.S.-Cuba policy, which was full of glaring contradictions, misrepresentations and omissions.

Today, it's treating us to a similarly deceptive -- and absolutely shameless -- editorial on Cuban-American politics.

Just how shameless?

It finally admits in its opening paragraph:

"There was a time, not too long ago, when any mainstream politician running for statewide or national office in Florida had to rattle off fiery rhetoric against the Cuban government and declare unquestioning faith that the embargo on the island would one day force the Castros from power."

What? Not too long ago?

Is the NYT recognizing that it has been absolutely wrong about Cuban-American politics for the last 40 years?

After all -- this is the same NYT that on December 20th, 1965, sought to convince politicians and public opinion that:

The very active anti-Castro groups in Miami have faded into virtual obscurity.”

Then again, on October 10, 1974:

Virtually all of several dozen Cubans interviewed would like to visit Cuba either to see their relatives or just their country, which they have not seen for 10 years or more; and some segments of the exile community, especially young refugees brought up and educated here, are not interested in the Cuban issues.”

And on March 23, 1975:

For the first time significant number of exiles are beginning to temper their emotion with hardnosed geopolitical realism.”

And on August 31, 1975:

A majority of the persons interviewed — especially the young, who make up more than half of the 450,000 exiles here — are looking forward to the time when it will be possible for them to travel to Cuba. Even businessmen, who represent a more conservative group than the young, are thinking about trading with Cuba once the embargo is totally lifted.”

And on July 4, 1976:

A new generation of professionals between 25 and 35 years of age has replaced the older exile leadership.”

Et al.

Yet, now again, today -- on October 25th, 2014 -- claims:

"In recent years as younger members of the diaspora have staked out views that are increasingly in favor of deepening engagement with the island."

In recent years?

The NYT has been making that same political argument since 1965!

Beyond this glaring contradiction, the editorial weaves, bobs and turns in desperate search for a selective gauge that favors its long-discredited narrative on Cuban-American politics.

Continue reading HERE.

At last!: German news bureau dares to expose the $inister $ide of Castro regime’s medical export racket

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Ever since the first Cuban medical workers were sent to West Africa to deal with the Ebola plague some weeks ago, the world's news media has devoted a lot of attention this story.  Journalists and world leaders alike have  heaped a lot of praise on the Castro regime for its "altruism."

The number of laudatory press reports is staggering.

Even more staggering is the lack of reporting on the dark side of this story: the Castro regime's ultimate motives for sending doctors to West Africa and other nations.

Finally, one report has surfaced that deals with this darker side of Castrogonia's medical export racket, including the fact that the Cubans sent to West Africa run a much higher risk of dying from Ebola than any other foreign medical personnel.

From Deutsche Welle:

200162545-002

Cuban doctors fight Ebola in West Africa 'voluntarily'

The world is full of praise for Cuba: No other country has sent as many doctors to West Africa. Critics of the communist regime, however, believe Havana's using its doctors for political purposes - and at a hefty markup.

Cuba is showing the capitalist world how crisis aid should work. Since the beginning of October, the communist island nation has sent more than 250 doctors and caregivers to West Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 50 more are soon to follow.

Since the beginning of the outbreak in March, some 4,500 people have lost their lives to the Ebola virus, mostly in the African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Internationally, the Castro regime's health push has been very well received. Both Margaret Chan, the WHO's general secretary, and the "Ebola czar" for the United Nations, David Nabarro, have personally thanked President Raul Castro and his health minister Robert Morales for their support. Even Cuba's archenemy, the United States, has praised its neighbor's actions.

Cuba casts a shadow upon other nations with its contingent of helpers. And not for the first time: Cuban doctors and nurses were also rushed to Pakistan-administered Kashmir after the catastrophic earthquake there in 2005; there were many more Cuban doctors and nurses there, in fact, than Pakistan itself sent. And in 2010 they were the first on the scene after a similarly disastrous earthquake struck Haiti....

Other nations support crisis regions, sending helpers and supplies as well. The procses can take a long time, however, as the current Ebola epidemic in West Africa has made tragically evident.

But "Cuba is a special case," says Jose Luis Di Fabio, who heads the WHO's Havana office.

"The country has the ability to react very quickly because of the experience of the physicians and the political will to do so," he said.

It's precisely the country's "political will" that Antonio Guedes judges from a completely different perspective. Guedes is a Cuban, a doctor, and president of the exile party Cuban Liberal Union (ULC) in Madrid.
For him, the political course Cuba is charting does not have altruism at its core. Rather, the regime in Havana is more interested in international attention and goodwill.

"Cuba is doing this first and foremost to polish its political image, secondly for economic reasons, and thirdly, so that countries that have received their help will vote in Cuba's favor in international forums like the United Nations," Guedes told Deutsche Welle.

A staggering 50,000 employees of the Cuban health ministry are currently serving abroad in 66 countries, according to the ministry. Of those, 30,000 are stationed in Venezuela. There are 12,000 in Brazil, 2,000 in Angola, and a further 2,000 in other parts of Africa. In total, almost a third of Cuba's 83,000 doctors are working in foreign countries.

The government in Havana earns more than six billion euros a year ($7.6 billion) through these doctors, because only a fraction of what the doctors cost these foreign nations are paid out in their salaries.

Brazil pays Havana 3,100 euros per doctor per month. Only because of pressure from Brazil's government do these doctors now get at least 900 euros per month. According to WHO representative Di Fabio, the Cuban government receives a daily flat rate of 190 euros per helper.

The Cuban Embassy in Berlin did not respond to Deutsche Welle's request for information as to the salaries of doctors in Ebola-affected regions.

Continue reading HERE (especially for a realistic analysis of the "inhuman" demands placed on Cuban doctors abroad and of the meaning of "voluntary" work in Castrogonia).

Protests for the freedom of Sonia Garro in Cuba and New York City

By John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Protests for the freedom of Sonia Garro in Cuba and New York City
"Opponents of freedom would like us to believe that our choices when facing conflict are to use violence in which they have superior capacity or do nothing, history shows there is a more powerful alternative." - Jamila Raqib in the Oslo Freedom Forum 2014
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Protest in front of the Cuba mission in New York City

The Cuban dictatorship had scheduled a trial for Sonia Garro Alfonso and Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González for October 21, 2014 and for the third time suspended it. This may have had to do with the mobilization of activists inside and outside of Cuba.  Dozens of Ladies in White were arrested to prevent them attending demonstrations in support of Sonia Garro, but the demonstrations went on any way. In New York City, Sara Marta Fonseca organized a demonstration outside of the Cuban mission demanding Sonia's release.

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Ladies in White demonstrating their support for Sonia Garro and her husband

Lady in White Sonia Garro Alfonso, and her husband, Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González, have been imprisoned since March 18, 2012 when 50 police forced their way into their home firing rubber bullets at them and wounding Sonia in the foot with one of the bullets. This attack and arrest took place around the time Pope Benedict was visiting Cuba.

Less than two years earlier while taking part in a march on October 7, 2010 at 23rd Avenue in Havana with a makeshift banner that read: "Down With Racism and Long Live Human Rights" she was detained by police for seven hours and badly beaten. Sonia Garro Alfonso suffered a fracture of the nasal septum and other injuries reported by EFE.

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Sonia Garro Alfonso jailed since March 18, 2012