(Lo que uno aprende en The NY Times): “Glimmers of Tolerance for Voices of Dissent”!

According to The NY Times, change is happening in Cuba:  “Within Cuba’s Revolution, Glimmers of Tolerance for Voices of Dissent”

“Glasnost it is not, say Cuban intellectuals and analysts. But glimpses of candor in the official news media and audacious criticism from people who, publicly at least, support the revolution suggest widening tolerance of a more frank, if circumscribed, discussion of the country’s problems.

“There is more space for debate,” said Armando Chaguaceda, a Cuban political scientist and blogger who lives in Mexico. “People are more outspoken.””

Dios mio!  How did I miss that one?

I am sure that these new “glimmers of tolerance” will come as a shock to “Las Damas en Blanco” and other dissidents in the island.

Perhaps they need to get a complimentary subscription to The NY Times to read about all of these “glimmers of tolerance”.

Of course, the “glimmers” do come with a few limitations, as you read further in the article:

“There are still limits. While the government preaches frankness, it continues to crush opposition, and those who step over the fickle line between loyal criticism and dissent risk ostracism, loss of employment, harassment or jail.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, an independent group that tracks treatment of activists, said there were 761 short-term arrests of dissidents in November, one of the highest figures in the past two years.

And in October, five independent journalists were detained for several days, according to Reporters Without Borders.

“It’s ambiguous,” said Mr. Chaguaceda, the political scientist. “It depends who you are, how you say things, where you say them.””

Maybe it depends on what the definition of  “glimmer” is!    It always does in Castro’s Cuba!

In the meantime, “Las Damas” will march on Sunday and see no “glimmer” that the harassment and name calling have disappeared.

No “glimmering” for “Las Damas” this Sunday!   It’s another repressive Sunday in Cuba for them!


“La injusticia del Sr Gross”: Another wife wants her husband released from Cuba’s prisons!

As I wrote recently on American Thinker, who is protecting US citizens abroad these days?    North Korea, Iran and Cuba are the 3 countries holding US citizens for bogus reasons.

The case of Allan Gross is simply appalling.      What is this man guilty of?   Nothing!!!!!

He has been “left behind” as The Washington Post reminded us:

“The fourth Thanksgiving. The fourth Hanukkah. This is a hard season for Judy Gross, even harder for her husband, Alan, who on Tuesday began his fifth year of captivity in a Cuban prison.

Eleven more years stretch ahead on the sentence for Gross, who spends 23 hours a day in his cell. Gross, now 64, was convicted of “acts against the .?.?. territorial integrity of the state” — bringing cellphones, personal computers and networking devices to help connect Cuba’s tiny Jewish population to the Internet.”

There is something wrong with a US government that allows rogue states like Cuba to hold US citizens without cause.

The word for the Castro dictatorship is “barbaric”.

The word for the Obama administration is weak!

P.S. Follow me on Twitter!


Marc Masferrer and Cuba getting a seat in the UN Human Rights Council

As you may know, Cuba will now have a seat in the UN Human Rights Council:

“China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Cuba and Algeria won seats Tuesday on the U.N. Human Rights Council, riling independent human rights groups who said their election undermined the rights watchdog’s credibility.

The General Assembly elected 14 new members to the 47-seat Geneva-based council, which can shine a spotlight on rights abuses by adopting resolutions — when it chooses to do so.

It also has dozens of special monitors watching problem countries and major issues ranging from executions to drone strikes.”

This is a travesty but what else do you expect from the UN?  I can’t wait for Cuba to pass judgement on a member country that puts dissidents in jail or harasses citizens marching for freedom.    Let’s see how Cuba votes when that issue comes before the council.

Again, this is a travesty and an insult to our intelligence.

Marc Masferrer has been at the forefront of this battle.   Please check out interview with Marc.

Here is the link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cantotalk/2013/11/13/todays-message


Venezuela: The land of “shortstops” & Miss Universe winners

As we’ve posted often in blog, Venezuela is an important neighbor in disarray. In other words, “the cubanization of Venezuela” is a sad thing to watch. It’s really horrible for those of us who know where “cubanization” leads to!

Our friends in Venezuela take a break from their crazy politics and shortages of everything by talking about their incredible line of major league shortstops and young women who win beauty pageants.

They can’t stop talking about Hall of Famer Luis Aparacio, “should be in the Hall of Fame” David Concepcion, the unbelievable Omar Vizquel, and now “the new kid up the middle” Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers. Who did I forget?

The men will talk to you about shortstops and the women treat the Miss Universe pageant like game 7 of the world Series. In other words,don’t ask a young Venezuela woman for a date when The Miss Universe pageant is on.  She’d rather stay home and watch it.

This weekend, a young woman from Venezuela won The Miss Universe content:

“For the seventh time in Miss Universe history, Venezuela took the crown as 25-year-old Gabriela Isler was given the title of most beautiful woman in the universe in Moscow’s Crocus City Hall on Saturday night.

As the evening came to a close, the United States’ Olivia Culpo relinquished the Miss Universe crown and placed it upon Miss Venezuela.

Isler, who was born in Maracay, is an accomplished flamenco dancer who also works on Venezuelan television.”

Beautiful and dances flamenco?   “Que maravilla!”

Congratulations to Gabriela!

Frankly, it’s nice to see Venezuelans smile and having a little fun. it’s been “hell” down there for a long time!

Lack Of Civil Liberties For Afro-Cubans In Cuba Today

Fall 2013

My good friend Silvio Canto asked me yesterday to do a radio show on the hunger strike of Cuban dissident “El Critico del Arte,” and on the letter published in the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald by Congresswoman Frederica Wilson in support of the Afro-Cuban dissidents in Cuba.

My first reaction to Silvio’s request was total surprise. In the past, Silvio has asked me to be on his radio show when I have written an op-ed that gets published in babalublog. This time around, I had not written one. So, I concocted a thousand excuses as to why I should not accept his invitation – I only had less than 24 hours to prepare, I had all kinds of chores and errands to take care of on Saturday, I had to rake the leaves, perhaps I would still be in bed by 10:00 AM, and on and on.

But this got me thinking about how often we would like to go back in time and imagine how things would have turned out if we could change certain variables. For example, I’ve wondered at how my life would have turned out if I had grown up in Cuba, rather than in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. And, I engaged in all kinds of permutations about the “what if’s”, and, yes, my life would have turned out completely different in each of these scenarios.

The problem is that even if I could turn back the clock, no situation would be exactly the same. Each moment in time is linear; not cyclical. The Cuba that I kept going back to in my imagination was the Cuba BC (Before Castro) – and, this Cuba would never be again. As the late Cuban-American comedian Alvarez Guedes said during an interview, the Cuba that he knew doesn’t exist anymore.

We are so worried about achieving perfection in our lives, that we fail miserably to embrace the deep message embedded in Julio Iglesias’ song “La vida se hace siempre de momentos / de cosas que no sueles valorar / y luego cuando pierdes / cuando al fin te has dado cuenta / el tiempo no te deja regresar.” In essence, life is all about enjoying those special moments.

Rather than worrying about the “what may have been,” we should appreciate the “what is”. Live life to the fullest, as every moment is what it is supposed to be. Only when we realize this, will we be able to achieve fullness in our lives – with no regrets.

So, after finishing my musings, I e-mailed Silvio last night to tell him that I would be happy to be on his radio show this morning.
I realized how lucky I was to live in a free country where I could speak my mind about the abuses that go on daily in Communist Cuba. I felt fortunate to give a helping hand to my friend Silvio, and to “El Critico del Arte” with the hope that he would be released from prison soon. I was happy that after I had complained in a previous op-ed about the presence of a double standard from some members of the Congressional Black Caucus with respect to the lack of civil liberties in Communist Cuba, at last we could see the light at the end of the tunnel by having U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson (D-Fla., 24th district) speak out against the lack of freedoms of Afro-Cubans. And, at last, we had President Barack Obama meet in Miami yesterday with Cuban dissidents Dr. Guillermo Fariñas and Berta Soler to discuss the steps that need to be taken to have a Free Cuba again.

There is no better time to make a difference than right now!

To read my previous op-ed about measuring the moral compass of the Congressional Black Caucus, click on https://babalublog.com/2010/04/04/measuring-the-moral-compass-of-the-congressional-black-caucus/


To listen to the radio interview, click on http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cantotalk/2013/11/09/todays-message

Too Close To Home

With its balmy, tropical climate, warm sandy beaches and swaying palms, South Florida has become the next best thing to Cuba for Cuban exiles. It’s the closest place to home here in the continental United States.

But, sometimes it can get a bit too close to home for my taste.

Up in Palm Beach County, they have a Sheriff. His name is Ric Bradshaw and he came up with a million dollar idea. His Orwellian brainstorm is to set up a program that would encourage the good citizens of Palm Beach County to report to the PBSO any “suspicious” activity or conversations that their neighbors may be partaking in. Such neighborly intervention could make “sure law enforcement knows about potential powder kegs before tragedies occur.”

His money quote- one that recently got him a featured link on the “Drudge Report”:

“We want people to call us if the guy down the street says he hates the government, hates the mayor and he’s gonna shoot him. What does it hurt to have somebody knock on a door and ask, ‘Hey, is everything OK?’ “

And…get this…the Sunshine Stasi State is giving Sherriff Bradshaw a million of our tax dollars so he can set up his creepy snitch network. The good Sherriff is going to use money to set up

“prevention intervention” units featuring specially trained deputies, mental health professionals and caseworkers. The teams will respond to citizen phone calls to a 24-hour hotline with a knock on the door and a referral to services, if needed.

Sherriff Bradshaw boasts that his program is “the first of its kind in the nation”. Thank goodness because we are…were(?) a free country.

The program, however, is not the first of its kind in the world. It is not new under the Sun. And that is why this hits a bit too close to home. In Cuba, they a have a similar “program” it’s the CDR, Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. The CDR’s mission, in essence, isn’t that much more different than Sheriff Bradshaw’s plan. It involves citizens spying on each other and reporting to the authorities. It’s the main tool used by the Cuban regime to oppress its citizens. It spreads dread, fear and terror.

So, in The People’s Republic of Palm Beach County, if your nosy yellow dog Democrat neighbor hears you cursing out President Obama because you think he’s a lying sack of Marxist excrement because he lied to the Nation about Benghazi as you and your best friend put your AR-15’s into the trunk of your car to go target practice at the gun range, for example, your neighbor can call Sheriff Bradshaw’s “prevention intervention unit’s” 24/7 hotline so they can come knock on your door the next day…and ask you :  “Hey, is everything OK?” Then they can take you in to evaluate your hatred of government and confiscate your AR-15 for your own good, just to be sure…

Maybe next year Joe Negron, R-Stuart, who helped push through the funding will push through another million or two so Bradshaw can set up “prevention intervention” homes on every block that will be tasked with coordinating and compiling intelligence on the neighbors so if they ever do anything unusual…knock, knock… Or hell, set up “clubs” in schools where children are reminded it’s their civic and patriotic duty to inform officials if their parents or other family members are potential threats…again knock, knock…

I remember a few of those “friendly” knocks on the door from [c]astro’s “prevention intervention units” growing up.

Sherriff Bradshaw’s program doesn’t technically criminalize dissent, but it can be abused as an effective method to control, put the fear of the authorities and intimidate ordinary citizens into docility and submission just like the Cuban CDR’s. It creates a first in the nation precedent where citizens who have a healthy distaste of tyranny and love of personal liberty can be singled out and ostracized as “not normal” or anti social or anti-American worse yet, mentally unstable. (that means they take your guns away)

This too, is not new under the Sun and it’s being ingrained into our children to create the next generation of conforming, unquestioning, docile sheeple. And those that do question authority are ridiculed and out casted.

Here’s an excerpt from President Obama’s commencement speech the graduating class of Ohio State University:

Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.

There’s nothing to see here…move along…don’t ask questions…and do anything suspicious…Oh sorry, I’ll have to finish this post another time…someone’s knocking on my door….

Delivering us from evil, one inappropriate site at a time…sort of.

I was having a terrible day.

We arrived at Jackson Memorial Hospital at 6:30 that morning to check in for surgery slated to begin two hours later. It wasn’t until 3:45 that afternoon that the OR finally became available.

Now, in my humble opinion, if you must have complex surgery, University of Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital’s facilities is where you want to have the surgery; we had the best surgeon, in the best hospital. It seems that everyone agrees with that assessment, and that accounted for the delay.

So, before I write another word, I want to make something CRYSTAL clear:

The people that I had contact with there, from the cheerful lady who brought the meals to the room, to the nurses and doctors, from our surgeon to his interns, and from the patient care specialists to the cafeteria staff, were all just incredible. After all the bad publicity that Jackson gets I expected a disaster, but that disaster never materialized; to be fair, the delay in the surgery was due to an emergency, and that’s a normal. everyday occurrence in any hospital in the U.S.

Anyway…I sat here, nearly 12 hours after pulling into the parking lot, lounging in a waiting room that I will admit was far more comfortable than your run-of-the-mill two-bad-couches-and-an-old-TV-tuned-to-CNN typical waiting room, thinking that someone would update me on how the surgery was progressing, when I decided to avail myself of the computers set up for guests and family members to use as they wait. I wanted to bun some time checking my email and catching up on what was going on in the world.

My inbox was typically bulging with Presidential election year political spam…but from the good guys, so I didn’t mind, and off to the web I went.

The first site I tried to visit was blocked, deemed as inappropriate.

I was slightly annoyed, but I have run across public access computers that block blogs and forums based on content in the past, so I wasn’t surprised. Having no choice, I decided to get my news from elsewhere, and I was glad to see that Drudge was available.

However, I couldn’t let that “inappropriate” word out of my mind.

Who decides what is inappropriate for the public computers at a State facility, and what exactly is the definition of what may be deemed inappropriate to begin with?

So, I went off in a search:


OK, so lefty sites trying to pretend to be centrist are not blocked.


Flat-out vulgar leftist sites are not blocked.


Sites promoting the overthrow of our Republican form of government and our Constitution are not blocked.


The official media arm of a murdering dictator is not blocked.


A murdering dictator’s useful idiot is not blocked.

But if you try to access a site run by a hard-hitting bunch of intransigent Cubiches with a passion for freedom, justice, and truth, you get this:


I don’t know whether to be proud, insulted, or both.


I am thinking that I may have to issue a public apology here, because men should own up to their errors.

It seems that “Alex” at Two Shores has take umbrage at my describing him (the blog) as “a murdering dictator’s useful idiot”, and perhaps that was a crazy thing for me to say.

Alex, you are right…I went too far by calling you “a murdering dictator’s useful idiot.”

There is absolutely nothing useful about you.

Imprisoned Ladies in White Sonia Garro Receiving Death Threats

Prayers for Sonia Garro’s health and safety

Sonia Garro, a female pro-democracy activist and member of the Ladies in White, was imprisoned on March 18th of this year.

According to Garro’s sister, she has been receiving numerous death threats at the women’s prison of “El Guatao”, where she remains incarcerated without charges or trial.

She was originally arrested in the wave of repression against dissidents prior to Pope Benedict XVI’s trip.

Castro’s secret police stormed her home, shot her in the leg with rubber bullets and dragged her away.

More “reform” you can’t believe in.

My Question: Where Is That Infamous Hollywood Outrage?


A chill wind is blowing in this nation. A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio and Clear Channel and Cooperstown. If you oppose this administration, there can and will be ramifications.

Every day, the air waves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent. And the public, like so many relatives and friends that I saw this weekend, sit in mute opposition and fear.Tim Robbins, 4/15/03

This laughable righteous indignation missive from a Hollywood actor to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. over nine years ago was meant to imply the Bush Administration was somehow stifling free speech and the free press, and outlawing political dissent in a fascist manner. I just don’t seem to recall anyone in the MSM being hauled out of bed in the middle of the night by deputies and taken in for interrogation. Nor did I see such an action against Hollywood and other movie directors, writers, and producers being pulled from their Beverly Hills mansions in that manner for their eight years of trashing then sitting President George Bush and endangering our troops in harms way.

The guy that made this stupid film may not be some bigwig Hollywood icon, but since when does Hollywood decide the 1% of their industry deserves free expression rights be protected, and not the other 99%? But you see, Robbins and all the rest who were bitching and moaning during the previous administration were basically pissed their complaints were not having an impact on the administration … or the American people. However, no voices were silenced. From Cindy Sheehan to Robbins to the news media, political cartoonists, and the entertainment industry everybody had their boisterous clamoring against the White House, and even our brave military fighting two wars, heard.

Tim’s, Hollywood’s, and the media’s bloviating of free speech appears to be so silent today in the wake of this outrage that even the crickets have a gag-order.

This photo, and its story of the violation of our First Amendment in deference to the demands of foreign law, should be widely seen until everyone understands the depth and importance of what has happened.

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has gathered some interesting views on this midnight house call…

WHY BARACK OBAMA SHOULD RESIGN. Just for the record, this is what it looked like for a man who made a film that made the Obama Administration uncomfortable…

Here’s the key bit: “Just after midnight Saturday morning, authorities descended on the Cerritos home of the man believed to be the filmmaker behind the anti-Muslim movie that has sparked protests and rioting in the Muslim world.”

When taking office, the President does not swear to create jobs. He does not swear to “grow the economy.” He does not swear to institute “fairness.” The only oath the President takes is this one:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

By sending — literally — brownshirted enforcers to engage in — literally — a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration, President Obama violated that oath. You can try to pretty this up (It’s just about possible probation violations! Sure.), or make excuses or draw distinctions, but that’s what’s happened. It is a betrayal of his duties as President, and a disgrace.

He won’t resign, of course. First, the President has the appreciation of free speech that one would expect from a Chicago Machine politician, which is to say, none. Second, he’s not getting any pressure. Indeed, the very press that went crazy over Ari Fleischer’s misrepresented remarks seems far less interested in the actions of an administration that I repeat, literally sent brown-shirted enforcers to launch a midnight knock on a filmmaker’s door.

But Obama’s behavior — and that of his enablers in the press — has laid down a marker for those who are paying attention. By these actions he is, I repeat, unfit to hold office. I hope and expect that the voters will agree in November.

Read the whole column…

As I have been saying, the video is a distration from the real reason all this death and destruction has blown-up on the other side of the world. The real reason is Obama’s and the State Department’s failed foreign policy, and their weakening of our nation’s stance on the world stage.

By the way, here is a small list of very telling examples of our media’s double standard in the insulting of a religion for art’s sake. You will find it interesting given today’s situation.

It is all about the visual and subliminal impression being telegraphed in the above photo. If the authorities and the feds did not want to portray this in the perceived negative manner it is being taken, AND were honestly serious about ‘protecting’ this man, they would not have permitted reporters to be there and especially not allowed photos be taken. But the media is using this photo to give the impression this guy is to be shamed and blamed for what is happening. They have chosen a side … Daily Mail: “The man who set the Middle East ablaze hides his face in shame….”

So, my question stands. “Where is Hollywood, and the media, in this obvious government bullying of a citizen exercising his Constitutional First Amendment rights?” Hell, we are NOT allowed to treat terror suspects this way…

“WAR.” – Andrew Breitbart

Follow Me: Will The US Embassy Attacks Be Used Against Our First Amendment Rights?

Remember way back when Rahm Emanuel, and others, said you can’t let a crisis go to waste?

In 2009 the U.S. and Egypt co-sponsored the free speech restrictions in the Human Rights Council…

Americans are reacting in shock after the U.S. Embassy in Egypt apologized to the Muslim world for “abuse” of free speech–after it was stormed by radical Islamists who raised the Al Qaeda flag and chanted slogans in support of Osama bin Laden on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In fact, restrictions on free speech regarding religion have been the official foreign policy of the Obama administration since the fall of 2009.

Upon enthusiastically joining the anti-Israel club of tyrants known as the U.N. Human Rights Council, Obama’s new appointees co-sponsored a resolution–with Egypt, no less–that embraced restrictions on free speech that Islamic countries had sought in order to justify harsh anti-blasphemy laws.

The text of the resolution provided that “the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities”–and condemned “negative racial and religious stereotyping,” and stated that the media had a special “moral and social responsibility” to develop “voluntary codes of professional ethical conduct” regarding these topics.

U.N. Resolution 16/18 was brought about primarily to protect one culture, one religion, at the expense of everyone else

While you were out scavenging the Wal-Mart super sales or trying on trinkets at Tiffany and Cartier, your government has been quietly wrapping up a Christmas gift of its own: adoption of UN resolution 16/18. An initiative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (formerly Organization of Islamic Conferences), the confederacy of 56 Islamic states, Resolution 16/18 seeks to limit speech that is viewed as “discriminatory” or which involves the “defamation of religion” – specifically that which can be viewed as “incitement to imminent violence.”

Initially proposed in response to alleged discrimination against Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11 and in an effort to clamp down on anti-Muslim attacks in non-Muslim countries, Resolution 16/18 has been through a number of revisions over the years in order to make it palatable to American representatives concerned about U.S. Constitutional guarantees of free speech. Previous versions of the Resolution, which sought to criminalize blasphemous speech and the “defamation of religion,” were regularly rejected by the American delegation and by the US State Department, which insisted that limitations on speech – even speech deemed to be racist or blasphemous – were at odds with the Constitution. But this latest version, which includes the “incitement to imminent violence” phrase – that is, which criminalizes speech which incites violence against others on the basis of religion, race, or national origin – has succeeded in winning US approval –despite the fact that it (indirectly) places limitations as well on speech considered “blasphemous.”


The background to all of this, unsurprisingly, is an effort on the part of Muslim countries to limit what they consider to be defamatory and blasphemous speech: criticism of Islam, say, or insulting the prophet Mohammed – which, as we’ve learned, can mean anything from drawing a cartoon or making a joke in a comedy sketch to burning a Koran. Such acts – according to some readings of the Koran and, indeed, according to law in some OIC countries – are punishable by death. Hence the riots that met the publication of the so-called “Danish cartoons,” the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the murder of Theo van Gogh, and on and on.


And here’s where Resolution 16/18 gets tricky.

Because who, exactly, arbitrates what is “incitement to imminent violence”? Violence by whom? If drawing a caricature of the Prophet incites violence by Islamic radicals to the tune of riots, arson, and murder, all sanctioned by the IOC itself – then drawing such a caricature (or writing a book like the Satanic Verses) will now constitute a criminal act. And that is exactly what the OIC was aiming for. It is also in direct violation of the principles of Western democracy – and the First Amendment. (Though it is crucial to note that any resolution passed by the General Assembly remains nonbinding, which makes you sort of wonder what the point of all this is, anyway.)

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