Todays Miami Herald has an update on the Cuban refugees found in the Bahamas.
By Oscar Corral

The eight Cuban migrants found alive on Elbow Key Thursday had been afloat for seven days in the Florida Straits, their food and water supply gone.

Then the sea turned on them, slamming their makeshift vessel against a jagged reef, and sending them all tumbling into the water, said Manuel Felipe Prieto, who lives in Miami and is the uncle of one of the victims, Yuley Parra, 22.
That’s when six of the Cubans may have died, Prieto said.

”Everyone jumped into the sea,” Prieto said. “They started swimming, but the sea was choppy. Yuley, the girl, was very skinny, and that’s when she disappeared.”

Prieto’s account comes from his conversation Thursday night with Raidel Martinez Chavez, the migrant taken to a hospital in Marathon to treat an infected thumb and lacerated arm. Prieto said Martinez lost part of his finger as he swam toward land through the razor-sharp reef, and that many of the other migrants were injured.

Mariners Hospital said Martinez was not taking phone calls.

The survivors told Coast Guard officials that six others had died while attempting to reach shore after their homemade vessel broke apart.

This group of Cubans was not the group of 15 that the Coast Guard had searched for last week. ”The two had no correlation,” said Coast Guard spokeswoman Gretchen Eddy. “That other group is still missing.”


For 13 days, the survivors ate snails and other mollusks, seaweed and other edible things that washed up on shore, Prieto said.

The Coast Guard said the survivors claimed they had left Cuba Jan. 13, and desperately swam to the island after the shipwreck Jan. 20.

Seven of the survivors were awaiting their fate Friday afternoon aboard a Coast Guard vessel, said Petty Officer James Judge. Judge said no bodies had been recovered, and that the Coast Guard planned to turn the migrants over to Bahamian authorities because they had been found on Bahamian territory.

The Coast Guard rescued the survivors after receiving a report from the Bahamian fishing vessel Sea Explorer, the Coast Guard said. Judge said no bodies had been recovered.

William MacDonald, assistant director for the Bahamas immigration agency, told the Associated Press the migrants would have to prove they faced persecution in communist Cuba to be granted political refugee status in his country. Otherwise, they will be deported.

Martinez will likely be allowed to stay in the United States because he was taken for medical care to the Florida Keys.


Meanwhile, the Cuban American National Foundation sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales asking him to conduct an immediate review of the controversial wet-foot, dry-foot policy, which mostly allows Cubans who reach U.S. shores to stay, but demands the repatriation of those picked up at sea unless they can show they qualify for asylum.
It has been two weeks since the White House promised Cuban exile leaders that federal officials will meet with them to discuss concerns they have with the policy.

So far, no date has been set for a meeting. (my emphasis)

UPDATE– George at the Real Cuba has photos of Elbow Key. Looking at them, how bare and rugged the landscape of the key is you’ll agree it’s amazing they survived. View these photos here

Please everyone, keep up with the letter writing and the phone calls.

Email the White House
or telephone 202-456-1414

That Pesky Embargo, is Bush getting tough?

From abc news

In what comes close to blatant meddling in U.S. internal affairs by fidel castro, Cuban officials invited U.S. corporations to lobby against the U.S. trade embargo and invest in the communist nation’s energy sector.

According to Perez de Prado, Cuba’s Vice Minister of Basic Industry, U.S. executives should work to “eliminate the absurd barriers that limit investment”.

“We would be happy if North American companies also participated in future projects”.

But first they have to get around U.S. law, and lately, the U.S. government has stepped up its enforcement of laws pertaining to trade with Cuba.

MEXICO CITY – A move by Cuba to interest American energy companies in investing in the communist nation resulted in a quick rebuke by the U.S. government.

After Friday’s meetings between Cuban energy officials and members of the American energy sector at the Sheraton Maria Isabel Hotel, the U.S. government informed the hotel’s parent company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, that its Mexican subsidiary was not allowed to have the Cubans as guests.
There is a 45-year-old U.S. embargo designed to undermine Fidel Castro’s communist government.

“U.S. law prohibits U.S. persons or entities to supply services to Cuban nationals, persons or entities,” said Judith Bryan, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. “The Sheraton (Maria Isabel Hotel) is subject to U.S. law because it is a subsidiary of a U.S. company.”

The management of the hotel and Starwood could not be reached for comment.
This left the conference and the 16 Cubans participating in it scrambling for new accommodations. Late Friday, Alamar Associates, the Washington, D.C.-based conference organizer, announced it would hold the last day’s sessions in a Mexican-owned hotel in the city, said Kirby Jones, president of Alamar.
During Friday’s session, Cubans were offering a rare view of their energy sector.

Hindered by its lack of technology, capital and modern offshore oil rigs, Cuba is actively pursuing foreign investors for new joint-partnership agreements. The Cuban National Oil company, Cuba Petroleo or Cupet, already has signed joint-venture agreements with Canada, China, Spain and Brazil for exploration and services.

During the sessions, the normally close-lipped Cuban government officials spoke enthusiastically about the prospects there.

“U.S. oil suppliers and services providers are invited to participate in Cuba’s oil sector,” said Manuel Marrero, a principal specialist for Cuba’s economic ministry.
The Caribbean nation has intensified its search for outsiders to develop oil fields off its northern and western coasts, not far from the tip of Florida. But Marrero acknowledged the daunting legal hurdles that stand between business partnerships between American companies and Cupet.

“When we can look for services and suppliers in Houston, we certainly will,” Marrero said.

The Americans were non-committal about the opportunities in Cuba if the embargo is ever lifted.

“We’re just here gathering information,” said Joseph Newhart, with Exxon Mobil Exploration’s new venture special project’s division.

Newhart said the presentations left many questions, including whether there is credible evidence backing the Cuban government’s claim that there are big oil deposits offshore.

If I were sitting in a crumbling apartment somewhere in Cuba and heard this story, I’d be smiling. “Did you hear? Some of the elite were barred from the tourist hotel”. Oh yes, I’d be smiling.

Read the rest of this story here at the Houston Chronicle

Orquesta Aragón

Photo courtesy of the Diaz-Ayala Cuban and Latin American Popular Music Collection of Florida International University Libraries

One of my great loves is Cuban music, it’s the balm of my soul. I’m not a musicologist, I just buy what I think I’ll like based on recommendations and then if I like the artist, buy more. I have probably less than a hundred CDs in my Cuban collection. I always have my eyes and ears on the lookout for an undiscovered treasure but so far there are about a half dozen favorites that I listen to over and over again. They’re perfect, and I can’t get enough of them. The artists vary from early Arsenio to Cachao just great music that touches my heart.

One of my favorites is Orquesta Aragon’s “That Cuban Cha Cha Cha”. Like many Cuban bands that were successful B.C., the name has survived these decades, but the members have been revolving. I’m not saying that the current roster of musicians aren’t good or maybe even great, but even you put politics aside, which I won’t, ?they are Orquesta Aragon in name only. The Beatles without John, Paul, George, and Ringo are not the Beatles, and Aragon without Rafael Lay, Pepe Palma, Richard Egues, Jose Beltran, and the rest of the original lineup is not Aragon. American bands change members, but beyond a certain point, they change their name. Intrinsically they know that a name isn’t transferable in so personal a medium. A core fault of communism is that it doesn’t value the individual. Its adherents don’t understand that each individual’s unique talent is what creates value, whether if you’re running a government office, managing sugar fields, or creating music.

Orquesta Aragon started on September 30, 1939, when acoustic bass player Orestes Aragon Cantero brought his small band to Cienfuegos for their debut. One of the pioneer charangas, the band was comprised of violins, piano, flute, percussion and a singer.

They started out calling themselves Ritmica del 39, and then it was Ritmica Aragon before settling on the final name of Orquesta Aragon at the end of 1940. They also played waltzes and fashionable Spanish tunes locally at dances and parties. In 1948 a serious lung infection forced Aragon Cantero into retirement.

Twenty year old violinist Rafael Lay, who had been with the band for 7 years, took over the leadership. They started playing their first concerts in Havana in 1953, and when cha-cha became the rage Aragon seized its chance and landed a recording contract with America label RCA Victor.

In 1954, flautist Richard Egues joined Aragon. A stunning virtuoso, he brought an unequalled sense of improvisation to the band.? Orquesta Aragon brought cha-cha to the world. Everyone was dancing to the rhythm of the band from Cienfuegos.

The legendary lineup was now complete and included:

Rafael Lay – leader, arranger, violin;
Richard Egues – arranger, flute;
Pepe Olmo – vocals;
Fernando Alvarez – chorus;
Pepe Palma – piano;
Jose Beltran – bass;
Orestes Varona – timbales;
Guido Due?as – conga and vocals;
Filiberto de Pestre – violin;
Dagoberto Gonzalez – violin;
Panchito Arbolaez – guiro

1954 saw the massive hit Engañadora (Unfaithful woman) which firmly established the cha-cha as the new craze and with it, Aragon, they had arrived. Their lush music is all encompassing, pop in a CD and one minute you?re relaxing to an up-tempo ballad, then you are swept off your feet, dancing to the irresistible rhythm of cha-cha. Next thing you know, you’re listening to a delightful, highly- structured piece “Señor Juez”, which includes a pause for what has to be one of the earliest, as well as one of the sweetest raps in music history.

They rode the crest of the fabulous 50’s with the progress of science and talk of sputniks and flying saucers. Aragon sang “I’m Going to The Moon for my Honeymoon” and treated Cuba to its first “homemade” demonstration of stereophonic reproduction. Audiences were invited to tune in on their radios and televisions simultaneously, and heard the sound of Egues flute and Lays violin pass from one speaker to the other.

(Cuba B.C. ranked 1st in per capita for TV’s in Latin America, and they had plenty of uncensored stations to watch on them, ditto radios.)

Aragon made musical history by winning the prize in the Santiago Carnival for three years. They had so many hits that people joked that the number one spot in the charts was reserved for them. RCA Victor released their songs in the United States where they became famous overnight. They toured Panama, Venezuela, Guatemala and the United States to great success, playing in Tampa, Miami, Los Angeles and New York.

Orquesta Aragon has been dubbed “The Seminal Charanga Band” by The Rough Guide to World Music, and is known well for its unique and tasty renditions of the cha cha cha. Rafael Lay Sr. and the world-renowned flautist, Richard Egues, could both be considered responsible for the band’s unsurpassed reputation. Their hits include such classics as Sabrosona, Cachita, Bodeguero, Nosotros, Esperanza, Pare Cochero.

After castro’s takeover, they stayed in Cuba, but the touring ended until fidel figured out that the state had much to gain financially and otherwise by sending Cuban culture abroad to Communist friendly nations. I don’t know what the band member’s politics were. One thing for sure, great art is produced with a free spirit and the music from the golden years of Orquesta Aragon is infused with the unique inspiring soul of pre-castro Cuba.

My own personal favorite track so far is the traditional son, “Al Vaiven De Mi Carreta”. ?As a friend would say, it has great teeth.

Refugee’s Dream Comes True

From Big News
via Wall Street Cafe

Cuban immigrant writes his way from cement to soaps

A young man flees Cuba, takes a job at a factory but dreams of becoming a writer. On a whim, he enters a television writing contest – and wins big.

It’s a story Erick Hernandez Mora easily could have invented during the 10 years he worked at the Supermix cement factory to support his family after emigrating to the United States.

But for the 32-year-old college dropout with earnest eyes and a mop of curly hair, it’s the one story he didn’t have to make up. He won the top prize last month in Telemundo’s Spanish-language soap opera writing program, took a job at the network and nabbed a book contract with Simon & Schuster to write a spin-off pot-boiler.

Hernandez says he’d rather focus on his fiction than his own story.

“Even without wanting to, when I write I invent things, so it’s better to write fiction because otherwise people will compare it to your real life,” he said.

Executives at Telemundo and Simon & Schuster agreed it was Hernandez’ frank writing and attention to detail that captured their attention – but it doesn’t hurt that his personal tale makes an equally good script.

“He represents the story of the immigrant, who comes to this country with a dream, and in certain part, it is a dream that has come true for him,” said Johanna Castillo, senior editor for Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books.

Castillo said she didn’t know about Hernandez’ personal life when he won the contract to write a book based on a Telemundo soap for the company’s new Latino publishing line.

This month Hernandez self-published his first novel about life in Cuba, and Castillo said she’s already asked for a copy.

Hernandez grew up in the beachside town of Guanabo, about 25 miles east of Havana, and as a boy spent his days devouring Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie novels. He quickly read through his father’s library of Hemingway and Latin American writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

The son of a telecommunications engineer, he was expected to head to the university and eke out a quiet living, but the self-identified “black sheep” chafed under the dictates of life in Cuba, refusing to join the Communist Party and dropping out of the university when officials wouldn’t let him choose what to study.

After a mandatory stint in the army, where he served two weeks behind bars for eating lunch with prisoners, Hernandez found work as a waiter, selling T-shirts and socks on the side.

Then in 1994, President fidel castro(sic) cracked down on dissidents, riots broke out and more than 30,000 Cubans fled to the United States in boats and homemade rafts.

Hernandez and his girlfriend, now his wife and mother of their two young daughters, were among them. The two left in a 20-foot fishing boat with 18 other migrants on the morning of Aug. 20. By midnight they reached Miami.
Hernandez still remembers seeing failed homemade rafts bobbing in the sea as his boat chugged toward U.S. shores, but he refuses to dwell on what might have happened.

“I always look forward. I don’t believe in looking back,” he said.

Hernandez found a job cleaning at the cement factory and was soon promoted to running the computers that controlled the concrete mixers, but after a few years, he wanted more. He began reading again, and then he got out a pen and paper began to write.

Few took his efforts too seriously.

“It was his passion,” recalled Supermix truck driver Orlando Perez, who enjoyed reading bits of the novel Hernandez worked on in his spare time. “But, I told him he was crazy. ‘You work in concrete,’ I told him.”

Perez stopped laughing when Hernandez entered an Internet contest from Spain in 2002 and won second place for his short story.

Then in 2004, Hernandez spied an ad for a new program to train Spanish-language soap opera writers, co-sponsored by Telemundo and Miami-Dade Community College.

He and 14 others were selected from among more than 4,000 applicants from around the world. Mimi Belt, Telemundo vice president of artistic development, said part of Hernandez’s success is his willingness to learn.

She recalled sending a script back to him requesting significant changes. Hearing nothing for several days, she assumed he was upset. But when she finally called, “he told me ‘No, no, I’ve spent all these days studying why you wanted the changes so next time I can do it better.'”

Hernandez said he enjoys writing the simple love stories that are the heart of most telenovelas and the immediate feedback he gets when they are aired. But his literary work is more salty, infused with slang and the gritty details of life in Cuba.

To this day, Hernandez prefers pen and paper to computers.

“When you write by hand it just flows,” he said. “It’s not the same as the machine, where it’s ta-ca-ta-ca. … If I make a spelling mistake I have to stop. I can’t see it looking bad on the screen.”

He has too much to write now to do it all by hand. He’s been hired full-time by Telemundo and is finishing the book for Atria.

The family is now building a study to give him a place to work where he won’t be interrupted by his daughters and their Barbies.

“It’s different now because I no longer write as a hobby. I can’t just stop when friends come by or go watch the game,” he said wistfully.

But he still has to pinch himself sometimes in the morning when he thinks about where he started.

“I never thought that this would happen. I thought I’d be a waiter,” Hernandez said. “That’s all I knew how to do.”

God bless America, the land of opportunity.

Cuba & Iran

Who says Cuba is not a threat to the United States?

From Front Page Magazine:

The Iran-Cuba Axis

In a letter to then Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev regarding his role in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro reflected upon the possible use of nuclear weapons during the U.S.-Soviet confrontation, ?It was my opinion that, in case of an American invasion [Cuba], a massive and total nuclear strike would have to be launched.? Given Castro?s affection for nuclear weapons, it should come as no surprise to observers that the aging terrorist has befriended Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Just last week, Ahmadinejad, a recognized anti-Semite and human rights violator, threatened unspecified retaliation against the West unless it recognized his own country?s nuclear ambitions. ?If they want to deny us our right, we have ways to secure those rights,? he said in Tehran.

Given Castro and Ahmadinejad?s mutual distaste for the U.S. and Western-styled democracy, increased bilateral cooperation between the two countries presents serious national security concerns for the U.S. This month, Iranian Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani noted the importance of expanding Tehran-Havana relations saying both countries must come together to confront unilateralism of ?the big power? — an obvious reference to the U.S.

In the past year, Rafsanjani has noted Iran?s desire to play a role in meeting the ?technical and engineering requirements? of Cuba and other states in Latin America. Rafsanjani has also called Castro, ?An impressive character in contemporary history,? praising the Cuban leader for his resistance to the ?hegemonic policies of the U.S. and anti-imperialism.? Not surprisingly, Cuban Ambassador to Iran Fernando Garcia pledged his country?s support for Iran?s right to use nuclear energy earlier this month.

And, then there’s the question of oil. Read the whole story here.

?No Mas! -Vigil For Rafters


4545 NW 7th Street Suite 14 Miami, Florida 33126

Tel. 305-264-7200 E-mail: movidemo@aol.com



Miami, January 6, 2006 – En lo que pudiera ser un segundo caso de violacion por parte del propio gobierno de Estados Unidos de la politica de pies secos, pies mojados, el gobierno esta a punto de repatriar a 15 balseros cubanos, entre los que se encuentran varios ni?os y mujeres, luego de haber sido recogidos de encima de la estructura del Puente de la Siete Millas que conduce a Cayo Hueso. Hace solo unos dias, el Guarda Costas repatrio a Cuba a un grupo de balseros que encontro sobre el islote de arrecifes en que se encuentra enclavado el faro que orienta la navegacion en Cayo Hueso, el cual esta anclado desde 1873 sobre la plataforma continental de Estados Unidos.

El Movimiento Democracia esta organizando una vigilia de los familaires de los balseros a bordo del escampavias para este sabado a las 11:00 de la ma?ana.

Aparentemente, el gobierno norteamericano esta procediendo contra su propia politica de pies secos pies mojados al no reconocer como parte del territorio norteamericano a sus propios faros de navegacion anclados en la plataforma continental de este pais, o a sus puentes que conectan sus cayos con tierra firme.

Esto es a todas luces una intentona condenable de violar aun la de por si ya cuestionable politica de pies secos pies mojados en detrimento de los que llegan buscando libertad, luego de jugarse la vida. Si este paso se tolera en silencio, lo proximo que sucedera es que recogeran a quienes ya estan en tierra firme y los repatriaran, sin el menor derecho. Y asi continuaran quitando derechos y cerrando puertas, y condenando al cubano a mas desesperanza y sufrimientos al entregarlos, sin ningun sonrojo, a la tirania de la cual escapan.



Miami, January 6, 2006 – In what appears to be a second instance of violation of the wet foot dry foot policy by US authorities themselves in the cases of Cuban rafters, the government is about to repatriate 15 rafters that the Coast Guard found on a pillar of the Seven Miles Bridge leading to Key West, according to the relatives? versions. The rafters are currently being held on a US Coast Guard cutter.

Only a few days ago, another group of rafters was repatriated after they were picked up by the US authorities on the structure of the lighthouse that serves the navigation heading to Key West, Florida, even though the lighthouse has been anchored on the continental platform of the Untied States since 1873.

The Democracy Movement is organizing a Vigil by the relatives that will take place this Saturday at 11:00 AM on the bridge next to the US Coast Guard Station in the Macarthur Causeway at the entrance to Miami Beach. The vigil is to request from the authorities that they revise the far-stretched new interpretation of the wet foot, and grant freedom to the rafters.

For additional information, please call Ramon Saul Sanchez or Norman del Valle at 305-264-7200.


El Movimiento Democracia ha soliciatado reiteradamente que se consideren algunos cambios fundamentales a la politia migratoria de Estados Unidos de manera que esta:

? Sea mas respetuosa de las convenciones internacionales sobre refugiados,

? Sea mas en concordancia con las mejores tradiciones de esta nacion en terminos de respeto a los derechos civiles,

? Sea menos estimulante a la desobediencia de la autoridad en alta mar

? Ponga menos presion sobre los guardacostas que los llevan a actuar con exceso en ocaciones para acatar el mandato que les llega de Washington.

? Desestimule el trafico humano y prevenga a tiempo que se forme una mafia poderosa que no solo lucre con el dolor de los cubanos y haitianos, y ponga en peligro sus vidas, sino que dentro de poco comenzaran a matar personas que no tienen el dinero para pagar sus usureras cuotas por viajero.

? Sea mas humana

Entre las sugerencia que ha hecho el Movimiento Democracia se encuentran:

Proveer informacion a los familiares en Estados Unidos y Cuba cuando el Guarda Costas ha interceptado a las personas y los mantenie por dias y semanas a bordo del escampavias.
Que se de igual oportunidad a los que son entrevistados en alta mar que los que son entrevistados en tierra de manera que no se estimule la desobediencia a la autoridad, premiando con la libertad al que toca tierra (pies secos), y condenando a la reaptriacion (pies mojados) al que es interceptado en alta mar.
Grabar, sin editar, las intercepciones de los cubanos que escapan de la Isla para que no quede dudas acerca de que los procedimientos que se usan sean apropiados.
Que se graven en video cintas las entrevistas que ocurren a bordo de los escampavias a los detenidos para determinar su eligibilidad como refugiados o repatriados
Que se les permita a los interceptados asesoramiento legal aunque sea por medios electronicos (camaras y telefonos de satelite o internet).
Que se equipen los escampavias con el minimo de preparacion necesaria para albergar a los detenidos cuando estos van a permancer varios dias a bordo del escampavias.
Que cuando hay incidentes donde hay muertes, no se repatrien a los detenidos por lo menos hasta tanto se pueda adquirir de los detenidos la version de lo sucedido.
Que en los casos en que las embarcaciones vengan sobrecargadas de personas o traigan a bordo ni?os o mujeres (o ambos) que no se utilicen ca?ones de agua, cables o mayas que puedan hacer volcar las lanchas, o tacticas de decender con los elicopteros sobre las lanchas para crear turbulencia lo cual puede causar que se vire la lancha.
Leyes mas severas para los traficantes de personas por dinero, incluyendo condenas de maximo rigor para los traficantes que causen la muerte a cualquier pasajero.
Que se investigue a fondo la participacion de funcionarios del regimen de Cuba en la logistica y ganancias del trafico humano desde la Isla.
Un esfuerzo conciente, dentro de las limitaciones que todos conocemos, para informar a los cubanos en la Isla del peligro real que existe al tratar de salir de Cuba por mar.

Obviamente, mantener una politica migratoria con un regimen dictatorial es condenable siempre. Solo cuando desaparezca el principal causante de la tragedia cubana, cesara el exodo desde Cuba. Brindamos sugerencias porque no seria justo quejarnos sin proveer soluciones, que aunque imperfectas, son en nuestra opinion, posibles de poner en vigor. Al menos servirian para abrir el dialogo en busca de mejores politicas. Ojala que se nos escuche antes que una tragedia de aun mayores proporciones suceda. Lo hemos advertido bastante. Despues que no se nos llame irracionales.

Para mas informacion por favor llamar a Ramon Saul Sanchez o Norman del Valle al 305-264-7200.

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Comida Cubano Atlanta

When my daughter and her husband moved to Atlanta and I was ready to pay them a visit, I went online in search of local Cuban restaurants. It turned out there were several.

Based on a couple of recommendations we went to Las Palmeras, it was very good. Located in a quiet mostly residential neighborhood, they have a full menu, and great service. I ordered the chicken special, my daughter, being a light eater ordered a few sides, while my son-in-law ordered a Pan Con Bistec. My meal was delicious as were the assorted sides my daughter ordered. Son in law Joe however, while insisting that his sandwich was good, said it didn’t compare to the Cuban place where he ate lunch on a regular basis. I promised that on my next visit that’s were we would go.

So, last week my daughter and I had lunch at the Havana Sandwich Shop on our way to the airport and my flight home. It’s a family place, a warm inviting hole in the wall. You place your order at the deli-style counter, are given a number, you find a seat and wait. They were very busy; both with the late lunch crowd and people picking up take out orders. While we were waiting for our food I found one of the owners, the very gracious Debbie Benedict, introduced myself, and obtained permission to take photos.


There is nothing like a good Cuban sandwich, full of flavorful filling, on authentic Pan Cubano, golden and toasty, just the right amount crunch. One of my favorite dishes is Picadillo, so I couldn’t resist ordering the combo plate, a half sandwich, served with black bean soup and yellow rice. I also ordered a turkey sandwich for later on the plane. Joe was right, it was wonderful. The Picadillo was bursting with flavor inside the perfectly toasted bread, made fresh on the premises. The yellow rice was just the way I like it, peas included.

While not a full service Cuban restaurant, you can get almost any traditional dish here you would like. Besides about 15 different sandwiches including the traditional Cuban, Turkey, Pan Con Lechon, even Medianoche on sweet egg bread, you can also get a number of dinner plates, Arroz Con Pollo, Milanesa, Boliche, Bistec, and every side dish imaginable. The only thing missing that I would have liked is La Frita, why are they so hard to find? All in all, pretty good for Atlanta. If you find yourself in this great Southern City and want some good down home Cuban food check out the Havana Sandwich Shop, located at 2905 Buford Highway, 404-636-4095. Bring your appetite, portions are very generous.

Location courtesy Yahoo Maps

Thanks to Scott, the correct phone number is 404-636-4094.

Secret Prison Libraries In Cuba

God bless these brave defiant Cuban women who’ve found a way for their imprisoned dissident husbands to practice internal resistance- right under the noses of castro’s gulag goons.

From the friends of Cuban libraries:

When Fidel Castro ordered the jailing of 75 of the most active Cuban dissidents with sentences of up to 28 years, he dealt a harsh blow to the opposition movement. But [as the Spanish proverb says] no evil happens without something positive resulting from it. The wives of the “75” discovered a form of internal resistance that was unprecedented… [by taking in books during prison visits to create clandestine libraries]. The majority of the political prisoners are now spending their “free” time studying history, political science and poetry, learning languages and studying medical books. The people thrown in prison form the indisputable cream of the dissident movement. Before their arrest, they were independent reporters, labor activists, economists, physicians or librarians with a greater than average appetite for reading.
Alfredo Felipe Fuentes is an independent journalist and librarian who before his arrest used to distribute an impressive collection of books on civil rights in his neighborhood. (His indictment declares: “noble literature in his library was mixed with books containing an evident inclination toward civil disobedience, inciting change in the social system and the Government.”) And the list of publications confiscated from him mentions 50 titles on human rights, in addition to 51 copies of the International Declaration of Human Rights. Incriminating material, indeed! It isn’t surprising that the prosecutor’s demand that he be given 15 years was increased to 26 years. In the last few years, Alfredo has been deprived both of his human rights and of his books on this subject, but in his cell is a biography of Gandhi, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, The Power of the Powerless by Vaclav Havel, and The Second Revolution by Adam Michnik….

Manuel V?zquez commented one time that, thanks to the books delivered by his wife Yolanda, his solitary cell seemed like a miniature version of the Frankfurt Book Fair. The books circulate among the political prisoners and the common criminals…. Manuel couldn’t believe that all of those delightful books could have passed the scrutiny of the prison censors. Maybe the explanation is that if the guards were cultured enough to interpret the poems of Akhmatova and to distinguish between Karl Marx and Karl Popper, they would also be leaders of dissident movements and not employees of the State security system.

Read the story from The Friends of The Cuban Libraries.

Code Yellow


From the Code Pink Yellow website:

Dear Friends,

We have some bad news to relay about the Cuba trip. We knew that this trip was a challenge to the Bush administration?s restrictions on travel to the island.

However, we had anticipated that, as in the past, the government would either let us come and go without incident, or would send us a letter after we returned. Instead, we?CODEPINK, Global Exchange, and some of the participants?have already received ominous letters from the Treasury Department, calling on us to ?cease and desist? our plans for the trip, demanding the names of all the people who had signed up, and threatening us with a million dollar fine and ten years in jail.

When some individual participants received these letters, they canceled their plans?leaving us without the ?safety in numbers.? And while our organizations are willing to fight the government on this (Global Exchange has been fighting the travel restrictions for 15 years!), we feel that right we are too overloaded with other efforts, such as stopping the war in Iraq, to take on a prolonged legal battle right now.

In a backwards move that would make even che proud, the pink ladies have shown their true castroite color. Threatened with a big fat fine, jail time, and-this is my favorite, no crowd of willing dupes for company, they have cancelled the trip to Cuba. Why? Because they are too busy stopping the war in Iraq right now! Well, hell, we can’t expect them to risk all that money and real jail time for castro when there’s a war to stop, now can we? Maybe they’ll take their high principled selves to Iraq, say Fallujah?

Read the back pedaling here.

Where’s The Pork?

This weekend, while you’re enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers and the company of friends and family, maybe like us, you like to swap favorite stories and jokes.

Here?s an old one about a pig you might like:

“fidel goes to a hog farm and tells the manager: I want you to try this new diet on this pregnant sow. I’ve devised it myself and I think we could double the production of piglets. Some months later the sow has the average number of piglets, 5 piglets. The farm manager is a little nervous, but tells the district manager that fidel’s sow produced 6 piglets. The district manager calls the provincial managers and is happy to announce that the sow had 7 piglets. This man is very excited and calls the national manager to announce the birth of 8 piglets. The national manager calls the minister of agriculture, and can’t contain his happiness when he announces that fidel’s sow produced 9 piglets. The Minister is ecstatic. He calls fidel and triumphantly announces that his diet has produced 10 piglets. fidel says: “Just what I thought would happen. This is what we’ll do: we’ll export five piglets, and the five that remain will be allocated for national consumption.”