Archive for Cuba

¿Cuba Libre?

You tell me:

Here is what the U.S. Agency for International Development, which takes its foreign policy guidance from the White House and the State Department, has to say about Cuba:

Cuba is a totalitarian state which relies on repressive methods to maintain control. Criticism of national leaders or the political system can lead to imprisonment. Members of the security forces harass and physically assault human rights and pro-democracy advocates, dissidents, detainees, and prisoners. The Cuban Government does not allow independent monitoring of prison conditions by international or national human rights groups and continues to refuse access to detainees by international humanitarian organizations (U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011).…

The Cuban Government routinely denies its citizens freedom of association and does not recognize independent associations. The Cuban Constitution prohibits any political organization that is not officially recognized. As a result, grassroots community efforts which operate in a democratic manner are extremely limited (U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011)….

The Cuban Government owns and the Communist Party controls all print and broadcast media outlets. News and information programming is nearly uniform across all outlets, and the law prohibits distribution of printed material from foreign sources considered “counterrevolutionary” or critical of the government. Foreign newspapers or magazines are generally unavailable, and distribution of material with political content, interpreted broadly to include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is not allowed and can result in harassment and even detention.

The Cuban Government controls nearly all internet access, with the exception of extremely limited facilities, where foreigners and citizens are allowed to buy Internet access cards for use at hotel business centers, where the price of Internet access is beyond the means of most citizens. Authorities review the browsing history of authorized users, review and censor e-mail, employ Internet search filters, and block access to Web sites considered objectionable (U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011).

Under the arrangement Obama has crafted, Cuba is required to do not a damn thing about reforming any of this. In “exchange,” the United States of America gives Cuba full diplomatic recognition. Plus, Obama tells the world’s other despots that a windfall from Uncle Sam could be awaiting them, too, if they abduct American citizens and hold them for ransom.

It’s true that we have diplomatic relations with just about everybody—North Korea being the only notable exception. But Havana doesn’t sound a whole hell of a lot freer. Pyonyang with an extra ration of fried plantains. Beijing with palm trees.

Cuba’s current sugardaddy, Venezuela, is in its own circle of Hell. If there was ever a time to squeeze Cuba for human rights concessions, this was that time. I guess human rights are just another first-world, colonial imposition on the indigenous proletariat of the world, and Obama says [bleep] that noise. Besides, Major League Baseball could do with a few more power pitchers and right-handed bats.


Big Surprise

Cuban agents recruiting academics in the US

This is from an internal FBI report:

The academic world—primarily defined as schools, colleges, universities, and research institutes— provides a fertile environment in which foreign intelligence services can operate. Consequently, the Cuban intelligence services (CuIS) are known to actively target the US academic world for the purposes of recruiting agents, in order to both obtain useful information and conduct influence activities.

More at the link. And I won’t even bother to rant; do it yourself. But do go to the link to read about how agents are identified, recruited, possibly blackmailed, etc.

– Aggie


How’s The Reset Button Working, Mr. President?

Russian warship docked at Havana.

Maybe stopped for a quick brewski?

A Russian warship was docked in Havana Wednesday, without explanation from Communist Cuba or its state media.

The Viktor Leonov CCB-175 boat, measuring 91.5 meters (300 feet) long and 14.5 meters wide, was docked at the port of Havana’s cruise ship area, near the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.

The Vishnya, or Meridian-class intelligence ship, which has a crew of around 200, went into service in the Black Sea in 1988 before it was transferred seven years later to the northern fleet, Russian media sources said.

Neither Cuban authorities nor state media have mentioned the ship’s visit, unlike on previous tours by Russian warships.

The former Soviet Union was Cuba’s sponsor state through three decades of Cold War. After a period of some distancing under former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, the countries renewed their political, economic and military cooperation.

The ship is reportedly armed with 30mm guns and anti-aircraft missiles.

Hmm. Perhaps Obama is the genius that Joe Biden told us he was. Maybe He is trying to disrupt the entire communist world. After all, there are problems in Venezuela and in Ukraine. Maybe the plan is to get them to tear themselves to pieces? Or maybe he is just the dolt that I think he is, and the world is simply much less safe than it was the day George W. Bush handed him the keys to the White House.

– Aggie


Tom Harkin Went to Cuba

And all we got was his lousy propaganda.

So, Marco Rubio filled in the blanks:

A few moments ago, the body was treated to a report from the senator from Iowa about his recent trip to Cuba. Sounded like he had a wonderful trip visiting, what he described as, a real paradise. He bragged about a number of things that he learned on his trip to Cuba that I’d like to address briefly. He bragged about their health care system, medical school is free, doctors are free, clinics are free, their infant mortality rate may be even lower than ours. I wonder if the senator, however, was informed, number one, that the infant mortality rate of Cuba is completely calculated on figures provided by the Cuban government. And, by the way, totalitarian communist regimes don’t have the best history of accurately reporting things. I wonder if he was informed that before Castro, Cuba, by the way, was 13th in the whole world in infant mortality. I wonder if the government officials who hosted him, informed him that in Cuba there are instances reported, including by defectors, that if a child only lives a few hours after birth, they’re not counted as a person who ever lived and therefore don’t count against the mortality rate.

I wonder if our visitors to Cuba were informed that in Cuba, any time there is any sort of problem with the child in utero they are strongly encouraged to undergo abortions, and that’s why they have an abortion rate that skyrockets, and some say, is perhaps the highest the world. I heard him also talk about these great doctors that they have in Cuba. I have no doubt they’re very talented. I’ve met a bunch of them. You know where I met them? In the United States because they defected. Because in Cuba, doctors would rather drive a taxi cab or work in a hotel than be a doctor. I wonder if they spoke to him about the outbreak of cholera that they’ve been unable to control, or about the three-tiered system of health care that exists where foreigners and government officials get health care much better than that that’s available to the general population.

He wasn’t done. But Harkin, and all the other apologists for Communism, should be.

But Harkin’s not ignorant. Well, of course he is. But he’s well-informed: he knows everything Rubio says is true. Yet he praises Castro’s Cuba; he praises the whole package. He has no problem with it. As the last five years have made amply evident, Democrats have no problem with any of this at all.


What Did They Expect?

It’s a Communist state! Communist? Hello?

“I am leaving Cuba most disappointed and perplexed,” said former New Mexico Governor and recent Democratic diplomatic troubleshooter Bill Richardson from Havana’s Hotel Nacional last week. “After one week (in Cuba) I have exhausted all possibilities to visit Alan Gross. I have tried all channels. All I asked was a simple humanitarian gesture. And it was denied.”

Alan Gross is a U.S. citizens and a contractor for USAID jailed in Cuba since December 3rd, 2009. His crime was bringing cell-phone and internet equipment into Castro’s fiefdom to help Cuba’s tiny Jewish community communicate more freely with the outside world. For the record: pre-Castro Cuba boasted more phones and TVs per capita than most European countries. Today Castro’s fiefdom has fewer internet users per-capita than Uganda and fewer cell-phones than Papua New Guinea. The Stalinist regime is very vigilant in these matters. [Yeah, but that literacy rate, baby! Nothing to read, but everybody can. Ed.]

According to the AP: “The case has crippled attempts to improve relations between Washington and Havana, and destroyed what had been a warm relationship between Richardson and Cuban leaders.”

Last Tuesday President Obama told reporters: “Anything to get Mr. Gross free we will support, although Mr. Richardson does not represent the U.S. government in his actions there.” Then whoops!–the New York Times (no less!) reported that in fact Richardson would offer to remove Cuba from the U.S. State Department’s list of State-Sponsors of Terrorism. U.S. “tourists” do not generally carry such authority.

Except for the poor guy and the poor Cuban Jews, good. Wasn’t Richardson one of the first defectors from the Clinton camp in the 2008 campaign? Wasn’t his treachery the most heinous? How fitting that the Fredo of the Clinton family gets his comeuppance in Cuba. (G’father II fans will understand.) Snakes of a feather flock together.

Lest ye forget who Castro is:

“Kneel and beg for your life!” Castro’s executioners taunted the bound and helpless William Morgan as he glowered at Castro’s firing squad in April 1961. Morgan was an AWOL GI with creditors and ex-wives on his tail who fled to Cuba and wound up a Comandante in Castro’s Rebel army in 1959. He also soured on the Revolution when the unmistakably Red pattern emerged. Castro heard about Morgan’s discomfiture through spies and promptly arrested him. Within weeks he was in front of a firing squad.

“I kneel for no man!” Morgan snarled back, according to eye witness John Martino in his book, I Was Castro’s Prisoner.

“Very well, Meester Weel-yam Morgan,” replied his executioners, who were aiming low, on purpose – “FUEGO!”

The first volley shattered Morgan’s knees. He collapsed snarling and writhing. “See, Meester Morgan?” giggled a voice from above. “We made you kneel, didn’t we?” Over the next few minutes as he lay writhing, four more bullets slammed into Morgan, all very carefully aimed to miss vitals. Finally an executioner walked up and blasted his skull to pieces with a .45.

Che Guevara had a wall torn out of his 2nd story office in Havana’s La Cabana prison and execution yard office to better watch and coach his beloved firing squads. Though he was technically Cuba’s “Minister of Industries” at the time, many former La Cabana prisoners say he was the one giggling and mocking Morgan during his last minutes alive.

I wonder how much money I could make marketing a t-shirt of Che’s iconic visage about to tuck into a plate of steaming dog faeces?

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Castro: a Bad Guy

Are you like me in that you know Fidel Castro is a miserable son of a bitch, but you just don’t know exactly how or why?

Why do you think that is?

When a smitten Jesse Jackson yelled “Viva Che!– Viva Fidel!” alongside the latter at the University of Havana in 1984 with Jeremiah Wright ( among Jackson’s entourage) clapping wildly from the sidelines, the world’s longest suffering black political prisoner languished in a torture-chamber within walking distance of the celebration.

“N*gger!” taunted his Castroite jailers between tortures. “We pulled you down from the trees and cut off your tail!” Shortly before his death in 2006, this prisoner, the heroic Eusebio Penalver, granted this writer an interview. “For months I was naked in a 6 x 4 foot cell,” Eusebio recalled. “That’s 4 feet high, so you couldn’t stand. But I felt a great freedom inside myself. I refused to commit spiritual suicide.” Eusebio Penalver suffered longer in Castro’s prisons than Nelson Mandela in apartheid South Africa’s.

Shortly after a smitten Congressional Black Caucus visited with Raul Castro in Dec. 2009 and returned hailing him as “one of the most amazing human beings we’ve ever met! Castro is a very engaging, down-to-earth and kind man, someone who I would favor as a neighbor!” the Black human-rights activist Orlando Zapata-Tamayo, was beaten comatose by his Castroite jailers and left with a life-threatening fractured skull and Subdural Hematoma. A year later Zapata-Tamayo was dead after a lengthy hunger-strike. Samizdats smuggled out of Cuba by eye-witnesses’ report that while gleefully kicking and bludgeoning Tamayo, his Castroite jailers yelled: “Worthless N*gger!–Worthless Peasant!”

Shortly before a smitten Charlie Rangel engulfed Fidel Castro in a mighty bear hug in Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist church as the smitten audience shook the rafters with bellows of “VIVA-FIDEL!—VIVA FIDEL!” Black human-rights activist, Dr. Oscar Biscet was grabbed by Castro’s KGB-trained police, thrown in a dungeon kicked, spat upon, and burned with cigarettes. Cuban doctor, Oscar Elias Biscet suffers a sentence of 25 years in Castro’s torture chambers as I write. Essentially his “crime” involves reciting the works of Martin Luther King and the UN Declaration of Human Rights in a Cuban public square. This “crime” was greatly compounded by Dr. Biscet’s specifically denouncing the Castro regime’s policy of forced abortions.

“Here in this dark box where they make me live, I will be resisting until freedom for my people is gained,” declared Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, in the vain hope any of the “news” agencies bestowed “press” bureaus by his torturer would report the plight of Cuba’s political prisoners.


Yet in November 2007 President Bush awarded Dr Biscet the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The award was presented to Dr. Biscet’s son and daughter, who reside in freedom in the U.S. The ceremony was virtually blacked out by the MSM.

“I would like to thank President Bush for his great generosity in granting this medal and in helping us call attention to the plight of my husband and all other Cuban political prisoners and in trying to help their release.” (Elsa Morejon, Dr. Biscet’s wife, Nov. 2007 during Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony for her husband Dr. Oscar Biscet.)

Penalver, Tamayo, Biscet and thousands upon thousands of other Cubans were convicted in secret, by regime-hack judges in a judicial system copied from Stalin. They suffered their sentences 90 miles from the U.S., with press bureaus including CNN, NPR , ABC, CBS, NBC, AP and Reuters within walking distance or a short cab ride of their cells. As mentioned, Dr Biscet still suffers in such a cell.

But I’ll make a wild guess here: you’re familiar with the injustices against Nelson Mandela but have probably never heard the names of the Cuban political prisoners, much less details of their suffering. Am I right? Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (been-there, done that, with Stalinist myself!) recently nominated Dr. Oscar Biscet for the Nobel Peace Prize. “Dr. Biscet is a man of courage and dignity,” he wrote, “waging a relentless and self-sacrificing struggle for universal human rights and freedom.”

The crimes committed by left-wing dictators are equaled by the crimes committed by their supporters and media flacks. Who needs censorship when you have Jesse Jackson and NPR?

“Sure, Castro may be a murderous hack, but his people can read and have forced abortions. So he must be protected.”

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My working title for a bio-pic of Michael Moore. Catchy, doncha think?

Cuba banned Michael Moore’s 2007 documentary, Sicko, because it painted such a “mythically” favourable picture of Cuba’s healthcare system that the authorities feared it could lead to a “popular backlash”, according to US diplomats in Havana.

The revelation, contained in a confidential US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks , is surprising, given that the film attempted to discredit the US healthcare system by highlighting what it claimed was the excellence of the Cuban system.

But the memo reveals that when the film was shown to a group of Cuban doctors, some became so “disturbed at the blatant misrepresentation of healthcare in Cuba that they left the room”.

Castro’s government apparently went on to ban the film because, the leaked cable claims, it “knows the film is a myth and does not want to risk a popular backlash by showing to Cubans facilities that are clearly not available to the vast majority of them.”

One blogger calls Moore a modern day Leni Riefensthal. But the Führer liked her hagiographies, wasn’t embarrassed by them. Moore out-Riefensthaled Riefensthal. Call him Goebbels—like him, Moore has no balls at all.


Communist Coincidence

And the UN’s tribute to Cuba’s human rights record will begin in three… two… one:

An empty chair will represent Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas Wednesday when the European Parliament awards him a top human rights prize.

As of Tuesday, Farinas had not received the exit visa required by the Cuban government in order to travel abroad. The government did not immediately comment.

The European Parliament said in a statement Tuesday that Farinas would send a recorded speech for the awards ceremony in Strasbourg, France.

Farinas was named the winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in October. The award includes a 50,000 euro ($66,975) prize, according to the European Parliament web site.

He won because he was “ready to sacrifice and risk his own health and life as a means of pressure to achieve change in Cuba,” said European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek in a statement.

Farinas endured a 135-day hunger strike earlier this year, demanding the release of political prisoners. He was eventually hospitalized and accepted intravenous liquids, but refused to eat. The activist has gone on more than 20 hunger strikes.

Whether he went or not, at least they wouldn’t have to set a place for him.

Hey, I’m just trying to find the silver lining!


On Cuba, Human Rights, And The Left

Viva Zapata

Somehow it is ok to torture and murder a dissident, as long as he or she is protesting a communist regime.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón wore a broad smile as he warmly greeted Cuba’s Raúl Castro at the Rio Group summit on the posh Mexican Riviera last week. The two men, dressed in neatly pressed guayabera shirts, shook hands as Mr. Calderón, with no small measure of delight, gestured to his audience to welcome Mexico’s very special guest.

A mere 300 miles away, in a military prison hospital in Havana, political prisoner Orlando Zapata lay in a coma. For 84 days the 42-year-old stone mason of humble origins had been on a hunger strike to protest the Castro regime’s brutality toward prisoners of conscience. His death was imminent.

Zapata’s grim condition was no secret. During his strike, for 18 days, he had been denied water and placed in front of an air conditioner. His kidneys had failed and he had pneumonia. For months human-rights groups had been pleading for international attention to his case.

But over at the Playa del Carmen resort on the Yucatán, Mr. Calderón wasn’t about to let Zapata spoil his fiesta, or his chance to improve his image among the region’s undemocratic governments. The summit went on as planned with no mention of Havana’s human-rights hell. On Tuesday Zapata passed away.

Zapata’s death while Latin American leaders broke bread with Castro is a coincidence that captures the cowardice and expediency toward Cuban oppression that has defined the region for a half century. Now the Latin gang, with Cuba as a prominent member, has decided to form a new regional body to “replace” the Organization of American States. To make their intentions clear, they banned Honduras’s democratically elected President Porfirio Lobo from last week’s meeting.

I finally walked away from the political left when Israel was blamed for September 11th, but I’ve had issues with them for decades. They either defend the authorities in places like Cuba or they ignore the abuses that they perpetrate on their citizens. It is nauseating.

I wonder if Biden or Obama will take a moment out of their busy schedules to comment on the death of Mr. Zapata?

– Aggie


How Much Does Hugo Chavez Suck?

About this much:

President Hugo Chavez has turned to his friends in Cuba for help in tackling Venezuela’s energy crisis, drawing criticism for seeking advice from the communist-led island that has struggled with its own electricity woes.

Chavez gave few details on Wednesday about what is expected of Cuba, but insisted that “it’s valuable experience that’s serving us well.” He said that he spoke for hours Tuesday with Cuban Vice President Ramiro Valdes after his arrival in Venezuela to lead the consulting team.

The decision to seek help from Cuba bewildered Venezuelans coping with the nation’s power shortage.

“It’s laughable that he’s looking for help from Cuba,” said Aixa Lopez, director of the Committee for People Affected by Power Outages, which monitors the extent of current energy shortages and rationing in Venezuela.

Laughable, but logical. Who better to consult on the abject failure of the socialist so-called economy to provide for the betterment and welfare of the people than the abjectest failure of all, Coo-ba? Batisita may have been corrupt, but under Fulgencio, the island shone brightly indeed (there’s a bilingual pun in there if you care to look for it); under Fidel, it’s all drab, all the time.

Enjoy that “high literacy rate” and that “low infant mortality rate”, Venezuelans—there’ll just be nothing for you to read (or even watch on TV, once Hugo shuts down all the stations) and no jobs for all those literate and healthy children when they grow up.



Pay up, stogie boy. We’ll accept payment in cigars and rum. And left-handed starting pitchers.

A Miami judge has ordered Cuba and the country’s governing Communist Party to pay a total of 27.5 million dollars to the mother of an imprisoned political dissident.

In what is thought to be the first ruling of its kind, federal judge Alan Gold said Olivia Saludes, the mother of Omar Rodriguez Saludes, should be awarded damages for the anguish and adverse affects on her health caused by her son’s incarceration.

Rodriguez, a journalist for the Nueva Prensa (New Press) agency was locked up in 2003 with more than 70 other dissidents.

The Communist Party came out worst in the judgement, which was dated September 2, ordered to pay 25 million dollars, while the Cuban government was ordered to pay 2.5 million.

Saludes said she had not seen her son in six years and suffers from insomnia and constant nightmares.

Saludes’ lawyer, Pedro Martinez-Fraga welcomed the ruling which was issued on September 2.

“This case establishes a completely new precedent, because for the first time in history (it) recognizes the rights of the family in a case (relating to) damages caused to a political prisoner in Cuba,” he told AFP.

I’m sorry for this lady’s pain (not to mention her son’s), but this might finally give Fidel that fatal infarction we’ve all been waiting for.

Hey, Pig-Pen, don’t look now, but your shortstop just defected!

Just kidding!


Cuba Runs Out Of Toilet Paper

I mention this only because a couple of days ago CNN ran a glowing report about Cuban health care

I innocently wondered if they are having trouble supply their cancer patients with aspirin?

The state-run company that manufactures the island’s supply has warned that the economic crisis and a series of devastating hurricanes has left it unable to guarantee it will be able to produce or import sufficient supplies again until the end of the year.

“The corporation has taken all the steps so that at the end of the year there will be an important importation of toilet paper,” said a spokesman for the state conglomerate Cimex. The shipment will enable the state-run company “to supply this demand that today is presenting problems”, he added.

Cuba both imports lavatory paper and produces its own, but does not currently have enough raw materials to make it, he said.

President Raul Castro told the national assembly in Havana last week that the government had cut its budget for the second time this year. Few had expected that a decision to cut imports by 20 per cent to save government funds would have a knock on effect in the smallest room of every Cuban home, with lavatory paper among the products that have been disappearing from the shelves of state-run stores.

Hotels are expected to weather the unfortunate shortage by importing their own supply.

Doesn’t a vacation in Cuba sound like a lot of fun?

You can read about the CNN report on Cuban health care here

Here’s the transcript of the story, which aired during the noon ET hour of CNN’s Newsroom on August 6:

ANCHOR DON LEMON: We have been looking at how other countries deal with health care. Cuba provides its citizens with universal health care. Is it working? Is it working? We’ll have a report on that in just about 12 minutes from now, right here on CNN….

LEMON: You know, we’re hearing a lot about socialism in the debate over health care reform. We’re going to look at real socialized medicine Cuban style right here in the Newsroom….

LEMON: Cuba as a model for health care reform? Well, we’ll see. It is a poor country. But it can boast about health care. A system that leads the way in Latin America. So, what are they doing right? CNN’s Morgan Neill takes a look at the good, the bad of Cuba’s health care system.

CLIP OF MICHAEL MOORE FROM “SICKO”: Is there a doctor here in Cuba?

REPORTER MORGAN NEILL: When Michael Moore’s film “Sicko” came out in 2007, the debate it sparked put Cuba’s health care system under the microscope. Cuba’s supporters gleefully pointed out that the poor communist island gave its people universal health care, something the United States doesn’t do. Critics charged that conditions in Cuban hospitals are appalling. And that Cubans had to pay bribes to get decent care.

Go to the site to read all of the transcript. I’m afraid my mind is made up about Cuban health care. There’s no convincing me.

Skeptically yours,


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