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Daily Archives: February 3, 2015

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… with Cuba has been made with a Cuban-government entity. The Cuban government’s … buyer: the Cuban government. That’s hardly surprising, Cuba is a totalitarian … through one Cuban government agency, ALIMPORT."  Exporting to Cuba is not … only "Cuban market.” It only cares that Cuba’s one customer … Continue reading
"Los negociadores de la UE pueden lograr la excarcelación de otro grupo importante de prisioneros políticos", indicó el presidente de la CCDHRN, Elizardo Sánchez, durante una conferencia de prensa en Bruselas. Continue reading
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Los Gigantes del Cibao de la República Dominicana obtuvieron este martes su primera victoria en la Serie del Caribe de Béisbol al vencer 6-1 a Pinar del Río, en el segundo día del torneo en el estadio Hiram Bithorn de San Juan, informa EFE.

Los dominicanos marcaron su primera carrera en la baja de la segunda entrada cuando con un out, sencillos seguidos de Willie García y Jonathan Villar los ubicaron en almohadillas en posición anotadora y Carlos Paulino conectó imparable al bosque central, remolcando a García para el 1-0. 

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Rusia está preparando ejercicios militares junto con Corea del Norte y Cuba, de acuerdo con el general ruso Valery Gerasimov, informó la revista Newsweek

Según la publicación estadounidense, en una reunión en la que también estuvo el ministro de Defensa ruso, Sergey Shoygu, y otros jefes militares, Gerasimov anunció: "Estamos planeando una expansión de las líneas de comunicación de nuestro mando militar central". 

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… reopening the US Embassy in Havana, the country’s capital. But … support those who oppose the Cuban government. “The way those (U … government of the Cuban people,“ Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s head of US … US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced as … Continue reading
What Will We Do With the Hope? / Yoani Sanchez
Posted on February 3, 2015

"Any frustration is the daughter of excessive expectations," I shared my
concern with the U.S. members of Congress who visited Cuba in January.
The phrase was designed to stress the flow of illusions that has been
let loose in the population since December 17. The announcement of the
restoration of relations between Cuba and the United States has provoked
a resurgence in this country of a feeling lost for decades: hope.

However, the expectations that have been created are so high and so
difficult to meet in the short term that many may feel disappointed.
There is no way that reality can satisfy such extravagant fantasies of
change. The level of deterioration in Cuba needs enormous resources and
urgent transformations to be overcome. Time is of the essence, but the
Cuban government still has shown no real political will for the new
scenario to benefit a wide spectrum of Cuban society.

Before December 17, each person had been focused on aspirations in his
or her area of interests and needs. An old locomotive engineer, who saw
the dismantling of the railroad of which he spoke with great pride, now
says, "You'll see… we'll even have a bullet train." If you ask him the
source of such a conviction, he assures you that, "When los yumas – the
Americans – start to arrive they will improve transportation and surely
bring us investments to improve the lines and buy the latest generation
cars." His dreams take the form of an iron serpent, brilliant and fast,
crossing the island.

The expectations that have been created are so high and so difficult to
meet in the short term that many might feel disappointed

There are others whose illusions take on the lightness of a kilobyte. A
young man, 20, who only know the Internet through a few hours of slow
and expensive connections in a Nauta Internet room, says that before the
end of the year, "We will have data service on our cellphones." His
certainty is not born from any classified information to which he has
access, but because, as he explains, "Obama already said so, the
telecommunications companies can negotiate with Cuba, so what's lacking
for me to connect to Facebook and Skype all day long, it's nothing…
nothing."

The great national obsession, which is food, also has had a space within
the imaginative dreams of recent weeks. A housewife, who defines herself
as "sick of having to cook the same thing, because there is nothing
else," has projected her illusions on the arrival of goods from the
north. "Some lost products will return and the stores won't have empty
freezers like now." Her perspectives are direct and clear, experiencing
the lost taste of beef, the texture of oil and the smell of an onion
browning in the pan.

Small private entrepreneurs are not far behind. For the owner of a
luxurious private restaurant in the Vedado neighborhood, hope takes the
contours of a ferry connecting Havana and Florida. "It will come soon
and then we can bring cars, large imports and fresh food for our menu,"
he explains with a conviction that provokes a certain anguished denial.
He gives the impression that a full lounge, with drinks, bottles of wine
and dimmed lights, will cross the water and arrive at the new place he's
building right next to his restaurant.

While expectations grow like a balloon about to burst, others contribute
to them with projections from the artistic and creative field. A friend,
a private film producer, believes that shortly, "Hollywood could be
filming here and Cuban film talent could finally have the resources to
do big productions." For this celluloid artist, "What's missing is a
starting bell to authorize independent productions and allow us to have
investors from the United States."

Among the dissidence and civil society more than a few are preparing to
legalize their groups or parties at the least opportunity. Among the
hopeful, they are the most cautious because they know that the spigot of
political liberties will be the last to open… if it opens at all. They
project their own transition from the "illegal, clandestine and heroic
phase" to the stage of a "legal, public and intelligent opposition." Nor
should we discount the illusions that have reached Cuban academia, the
schools and other official institutions, where people are dusting off
their old ideas of jumping into the arena of politics when the
single-party system is a bad memory of the past.

When the bubble of dreams bursts and the excessive expectations bring
collective frustration, what will happen?

All these hopes, born on St. Lazarus Day and fed with the visits to Cuba
of members of Congress and American negotiators, are now a double-edged
sword for the Island's government. On the one hand, the existence of so
many illusions buys time and sets the horizon at the end of a long
process of conversations between both administrations, which could go on
for years. But, also, the disappointment derived from not meeting or
from postponing such dreams will be focused directly on the Plaza of the
Revolution.

The anger towards failure will not fall on Obama, but on Raul Castro. He
knows this and in recent weeks his spokespeople have emphasized cutting
back on the perspectives filling the streets of the entire country. They
are trying to anticipate that everything will be more or less the same
and that too many expectations can't be met. But there is nothing harder
than countering dreams. The symbolic weight of the beginning of the
"thaw" between David and Goliath, cannot be alleviated with calls for
calm, nor energetic speeches that point toward a halt in the negotiations.

When the months pass and the "bullet train" doesn't arrive, the Internet
continues to be impossible, the store freezers are as empty as they are
today, the customs rules continue to block commercial imports to private
hands, the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC)
maintains its monopoly on film production, and being a member of an
opposition party still results in official repression and ideological
stigmatization… when the bubble of dreams bursts and the excessive
expectations bring collective frustration, what will happen? Maybe from
there the energy necessary to push for change will be born.

Source: What Will We Do With the Hope? / Yoani Sanchez | Translating
Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/what-will-we-do-with-the-hope-yoani-sanchez/ Continue reading
Reflections from Companero Juan Juan / Juan Juan Almeida
Posted on February 2, 2015

As the debate continues, visitors come and go. It's normal and forms
part of the process of re-establishing relations between the United
States and Cuba. Also in this exchange, in a not-too-distant future, the
American government will return to its Cuban counterpart the territory
occupied by the naval base at Guantanamo. And to reciprocate, the
government of the island will accept that finally the imperial eagle
will return to its original nest at the top of the two columns that,
together with the canons, human figures and chains, compose the monument
to the victims of the Maine explosion.

I feel that both these things will happen, and I'm not making up
scenarios in order to encourage a debate.

Time has shown us that, although the present economic environment is
still challenging since there could be negative surprises, as far as the
political structure goes, the Caribbean has been and is one of the most
stable zones on the planet. So that keeping a military installation of
such size in the heart of a place where there are no international
conflicts, not even of low intensity, represents an excessive waste of
time and an important squandering of money.

The Guantanamo Naval Base was established in 1898, when the United
States military occupied the island after defeating Spain in what many
of us know as the Hispano-Cuban-American War. Later, with the signature
of the first president of the Republic of Cuba, Don Tomas Estrada Palma,
on February 23, 1903, the U.S. obtained that much-discussed perpetual
lease. It emerged as an historic anomaly and today makes no sense.
Neither military, strategic, or regional.



For its part, the monument to the Maine was constructed in 1926, and in
1961 the man who "reflected" on it* ordered the imperial eagle taken
down from the pedestal, because its figure was warping the new marketing
image of the revolutionary government.

But given present circumstances and the indefinite absence of the
insufferable "reflector," the eagle means nothing more than the piece
needed to complete the sculpture. I would dare say that because of the
strange culture of rejection that we islanders have for everything that
daily surrounds us, out of the two million Cubans who now live in
Havana, not even 100 of them have bothered to read the inscription at
the foot of the monument.

The return of the territory occupied by the naval base in the
municipality of Caimanera in Oriente will be welcome, as will be the
return of the image of the raptor to its environment on the Malecon.

Both events will be historic, but of no value. Since nothing about this
presses the principle of democracy for a country that requests change
and transformation, from the interior of a tempest hidden below a sea of
apparent calm.

As that Cuban virtuoso said, known for being the king of the tambor**
players and for the charming way he told a joke: "The agendas of
governments are divorced from the people; politics get done in the
street. The others react with the same naivety as an inexperienced mother."

Translator's notes:

*Fidel Castro's column in Granma newspaper is called "Reflections of Fidel"

**African drum

Translated by Regina Anavy

Source: Reflections from Companero Juan Juan / Juan Juan Almeida |
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/reflections-from-companero-juan-juan-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
Menos detenciones arbitrarias pero sigue el “modelo totalitario” (CCDHRN) 14YMEDIO, La Habana | Febrero 02, 2015 El número de detenciones arbitrarias por motivos políticos en Cuba se redujo durante el pasado mes de enero hasta 178, según el último informe de la Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional (CCDHRN) publicado este lunes. Pese […] Continue reading
Activistas y exiliados cubanos intercambian opiniones en Puerto Rico 14YMEDIO, San Juan (Puerto Rico) | Febrero 02, 2015 En la tarde del pasado domingo, la Casa Cuba de San Juan en Puerto Rico acogió un intenso debate sobre las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos con un enfoque especial en el papel que deben jugar […] Continue reading
El embargo interno ahoga a los cubanos LA HABANA.- El embargo interno se ha flexibilizado, pero todavía los cubanos no tenemos derechos a contratar una cuenta de internet en casa, pasear o pescar en un yate de motor o acceder a ciertos servicios de salud exclusivos para extranjeros LA HABANA.- IVÁN GARCÍA Especial En el […] Continue reading
Me preocupa que no hubiera ni un paso sustancial hacia unas elecciones democráticas transparentes, mejoras en los Derechos Humanos, libertad de reunión, o la capacidad de formar partidos políticos independientes y sindicatos independientes. Continue reading
"El lavado de activos y el financiamiento del terrorismo son amenazas que traspasan las fronteras y que requieren que reforcemos nuestros regímenes legales, judiciales y de seguridad", dijo el embajador británico Tim Cole. Continue reading
… with democracy activists by Cuba. "The Cuban people are the only … Menendez of New Jersey, also Cuban American. Unlike most hearings, where … more Americans traveling to Cuba, not fewer. Cuban American families in particular … of activists were arrested in Havana for placing flowers at the … Continue reading
… the Cuban government, they said the new policy of engagement with Havana … administration lifting several restrictions on Cuba and Havana releasing 53 political prisoners … the Cuban leader endorsing the recent thaw in relations between Havana  and … Continue reading
[1] Iván García, 27 January 2015 — The shifting political landscape of the Middle East is probably more complicated. No doubt it is. But given the spectacular diplomatic about-face on December 17 between Cuba and the United States — two sparring nations huddled in their respective trenches since the Cold War — the White House was not expecting a significant faction of the island’s dissident community to train its guns on the red carpet President Obama had rolled out for Cuba’s military strongmen. Disagreements are healthy. Nothing is more harmful than fake unanimity. But if you read the proposal from the Forum for Rights and Freedoms — released by an opposition faction led by Antonio Rodiles, Berta Soler, Ángel Moya, Guillermo Fariñas and Félix Navarro — and compare it to the four points of consensus agreed upon by other dissident groups, the differences are minimal. The independent journalist Juan González Febles, director of the journal Primavera de Cuba (Cuban Spring), believes the disagreements are ideological rather than programmatic. “Individualism and the lack of historical memory is a key factor in certain dissidents’ categorical rejection of other opposition proposals,” he observes. On Thursday, January 23 these divergent opposition views came out into the open. At a lunch attended by a dozen dissidents and Roberta Jackson, the U.S. official leading the team negotiating the reestablishment of a future embassy with the Cuban regime, the conflicting viewpoints caused a minor earthquake. The adversary is no longer just the Castro brothers. Obama is now also in the crosshairs. The faction criticizing the steps taken by Washington is balanced out by those with a different opinion. The schism is obvious. At 1:00 PM on Thursday a faction led by veteran opposition figures Elizardo Sánchez, Héctor Maseda and José Daniel Ferrer abruptly called a press conference. Antonio Rodiles had previously announced a 2:00 PM press conference with independent Cuban and foreign journalists. José Daniel considers the differences to be ones of degree. “When you read the document they released, there are points of agreement with our document. We all want democracy, political freedom and amnesty for political prisoners,” he says. Elizardo Sánchez believes that 90% of the local opposition agrees with no less than four basic points. “It’s an exaggeration to say these differences are the cause of arguments. But when you ask why not hold a joint press conference, it misses the point,” he says. Each faction claims it represents the majority. “Those of us who agree with the changes initiated by Obama make up 70% of the dissident movement,” says Ferrer. From the other side of the fence Antonio Rodiles paints a different picture. “Almost 80% of the opposition harbors significant doubts and does not support this new process,” he notes. “The United States is betting on neo-Castroism. Avoiding the issue of human rights and ignoring the dissident movement in the negotiating process is a doomed strategy.” Guillermo Fariñas believes the United States is ignoring long-time dissident leaders such as Oscar Elías Biscet, Antúnez and Vladimiro Roca along with recent activists such as Sonia Garro and a significant segment of the exile community. The new landscape undeniably confers independence on any group that questions the Obama-Castro negotiations. The Cuban regime has long accused opponents of being “mercenaries in the service of Washington.” Like logs on the fire is how Josefina Vidal, the likely Cuban ambassador to the United States, characterizes dissidents, whom she says do not represent the Cuban people. “In Cuba there are a variety of mass movement organizations which are Cubans’ true representatives,” she notes. The new scenario has clearly split the dissident community between those in favor and those opposed. To reach people and become an important player will require a 180-degree turn. Each faction will argue in favor of its approach and will come up with its own roadmap. The challenge is daunting. The military regime, however, retains an ironclad control over the media. Through fear it has managed to keep a large proportion of the population — fed up with the disastrous economy — out of the fray, passively watching the game from the sidelines. As a sign of protest against Obama’s policy, Berta Soler and ten or so opposition figures boycotted a farewell cocktail party hosted by Roberta Jacobson at the U.S. Cuban Interest Section in Havana. But although dissidents such as Elizardo Sánchez and José Daniel Ferrer support the new measures, General Raúl Castro is not counting on them. They are out in no-man’s land. [1] https://desdelahabanaivan.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/conferencia-de-prensa-en-casa-de-rodiles-viernes-23-1-_mn-620x330.jpg Continue reading
El senador Robert Menéndez lamentó que el Departamento de Estado fuera mantenido al margen de las negociaciones y que los cambios decididos por el gobierno de Obama no se usaran para obtener concesiones del gobierno cubano. “No consiguieron nada a cambio” Continue reading
"Entendiendo el impacto de los cambios en la política para los Derechos Humanos y la democracia en Cuba". Continue reading
La subsecretaria para el Hemisferio Occidental del Departamento de Estado, Roberta Jacobson, ha anunciado que Estados Unidos y Cuba planean reunirse este mes para continuar con el diálogo sobre la normalización de las relaciones bilaterales. Continue reading
Hoy en Puerto Padre no hay pollos, ni sardinas, ni leche ni queso, incluso, para los que tienen dinero conque comprar. Los anaqueles vacíos dicen más que los discursos Continue reading
Estados Unidos ha confirmado que unos 140 presos políticos fueron detenidos en Cuba durante el mes de enero, tal y como había denunciado la oposición, mostrándose consciente de que "la naturaleza del régimen cubano no ha cambiado". Continue reading

Originalmente publicado en El Nuevo Herald

Tras un viaje de casi 12 horas desde su tierra natal en Bayamo - la ciudad en el oriente de Cuba donde nació el himno nacional con un grito al combate contra España – el rapero conocido como El Crítico y el activista disidente Alexander Otero celebraban su libertad en un bar en La Habana Vieja. Solo dos semanas después de haber sido excarcelados en la guerra de palabras contra el Gobierno castrista, están listos para una nueva batalla.

Angel Yunier Remón Arzuaga es el único músico en la lista de 53 presos políticos liberados en enero por el Gobierno cubano como parte del acuerdo para restablecer las relaciones con Estados Unidos. Su crimen fue escribir en la puerta de su casa: "Abajo la Dictadura".

Parte del grupo de hip-hop Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso, las canciones de Remón arremeten contra la propaganda oficialista del régimen como un machete en el campo, con fuerza y sin perdón.

Su "libertad" en sí tiene condiciones: cualquier cosa que Remón, de 31 años, haga que el Gobierno considere fuera de las normas revolucionarias tendrá consecuencias. Pero ya está planeando traer su música de descontento a La Habana.

"Creo que este diálogo va a ser muy positivo y satisfactorio para el pueblo cubano", dice Remón, en la primera entrevista en persona que ofrece a un medio de Miami, sobre las nuevas relaciones diplomáticas entre Cuba y Washington. "Y será beneficioso para nuestro pueblo porque vamos a tener la posibilidad de compartir con personas que viven en una democracia".

Por su parte, Otero, de 38 años y quien exhibe en su brazo derecho un tatuaje que dice "No a los Castro", asegura que el maltrato sufrido durante más de año y medio de prisión no frenará su activismo para demandar mejoras en la isla.

"A mí me golpearon muy duro varias veces en la cárcel al punto de casi provocarme una isquemia cerebral", dice Otero. "Y nos golpeaban así por nuestra posición crítica a un sistema que no tolera voces distintas [...] Ahora lo que esperamos es que con estas negociaciones con Estados Unidos los cubanos podamos expresarnos sin ser golpeados por pensar diferente".

Su crimen

Remón y Otero fueron arrestados el 26 de marzo del 2013 acusados de desacato y atentado contra la autoridad. Aquella madrugada Remón dice haber sufrido un acto de repudio: la fachada de su casa en el reparto Ciro Redondo, en Bayamo, fue pintarrajeada con brea y asfalto.

[[QUOTE:“Creo que este diálogo va a ser muy positivo y satisfactorio para el pueblo cubano. Y será beneficioso para nuestro pueblo porque vamos a tener la posibilidad de compartir con personas que viven en una democracia”]]Los enmascarados que arremetieron contra su vivienda no fueron identificados y los reclamos de Remón a los dirigentes del Comité de Defensa de la Revolución (CDR) de poco sirvieron, dice el rapero. Poco después escribió en la fachada atacada, "Abajo la dictadura".

"La gente empezó a juntarse para ver lo que me había pasado y de pronto un agente se me vino encima", recuerda Remón, quien es coordinador en Bayamo de la opositora Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU). "Pero luego el agente alegó que yo lo ataqué y me llevaron a la cárcel".

Enterado del incidente, Otero fue a defender a Remón. Incluso empezó a criticar a voz en cuello los abusos de las autoridades contra los disidentes de la Isla.

"Exigimos al Gobierno de Cuba que le dé el paso a las nuevas generaciones", gritó Otero en la vía pública aquel día. "Porque el cubano que le roba al Gobierno es inocente; porque ladrón que le roba a otro ladrón tiene 100 años de perdón; porque este es un Gobierno corrupto", continuó.

Poco después, ambos fueron encarcelados en la prisión de Las Mangas, en Bayamo, y entre octubre y noviembre del 2013, El Crítico inició una huelga de hambre de casi un mes con la cual exigía la celebración del juicio oral. Tras la huelga de hambre que incluso despertó movilizaciones solidarias en la Calle Ocho de Miami, los tribunales cubanos condenaron en octubre del 2014 a cinco años de prisión a Otero y ocho para El Crítico.

La prisión fue un tormento a punta de golpizas por parte de los guardias e incluso, en ocasiones, a Remón se le prohibía la visita de familiares, recuerda el cantautor. Hasta tuvo que combatir el cólera.

“Alex [Otero] y yo no accedíamos a varias normas disciplinarias a las que eran sujetos los presos comunes, como vestir uniformes grises”, dice Remón. “Nosotros nos vestíamos de blanco, pero en varias ocasiones éramos sometidos a castigos y nos dejaban en ropa interior”.

Gracias a la activa estrategia mediática de la UNPACU, las denuncias de El Crítico desde la cárcel llegaron a Internet y You Tube, y su caso alcanzó la repercusión internacional suficiente para que Estados Unidos intercediera por él ante el Gobierno de Raúl Castro.

Traspasando fronteras

El Crítico no es un caso aislado dentro de una creciente tendencia a la politización del arte y la cultura en Cuba.

En sus más de dos décadas de historia, el movimiento de hip-hop en Cuba ha traspasado las fronteras del discurso tolerado por las autoridades y ha abordado temas polémicos que van desde el racismo y el acoso de la policía, hasta el peligroso cuestionamiento a la autoridad de Fidel y Raúl Castro.

Músicos, escritores, realizadores audiovisuales y artistas plásticos cubanos intentan con más fuerza mover el "piso" político de la isla aunque las consecuencias son graves.

La artista Tania Bruguera sigue retenida en Cuba desde diciembre, tras intentar un performance con micrófono abierto en la Plaza de la Revolución.

Otro rapero contestatario, Maikel Oksobo (El Dkano), fue recientemente condenado a prisión por "peligrosidad predelictiva". Encarcelados se encuentran el graffitero Danilo Maldonado así como el escritor Ángel Santiesteban, autor del libro de cuentos de la prisión Los hijos que nadie quiso, en el que se inspiró Remón para titular el dúo de rap que creó junto a Yudier Blanco Pacheco.

Pero a diferencia de otras manifestaciones artísticas que necesitan entrenamiento y muchos recursos, el hip-hop nació en Cuba conectado con las preocupaciones de jóvenes con entornos sociales difíciles y limitaciones económicas, como Remón, a quien se le quemó su casa.

Cuando apenas tenía 18 años, fue encarcelado por robar ropa en una tienda y fue condenado a seis años de prisión. Y allí, asegura, moldeó su espíritu crítico, que ahora refleja en las letras de varias de sus canciones producidas en Bayamo.

"Tengo el expediente sucio por culpa de quien se ensaña, antecedentes penales del penal de mi enseñanza. Bayamenses robaremos o veremos la esperanza", dice El Crítico en su canción Realidad de Bayamo.

Remón, quien compone rap contestario desde el 2010, dice que planea difundir sus canciones en La Habana y, más adelante, en el circuito internacional.

"Cuando salí de la cárcel me sentí muy alegre de reencontrarme con mi familia", dice Remón. "Pero en esta nueva etapa en que se está negociando para restablecer las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos planeo mantenerme en el activismo por la lucha de la democracia y la justicia social dentro de nuestro país".


Los artículos de esta serie no tienen firma y las fotografías no tienen crédito porque el gobierno cubano se negó a emitir visas para los reporteros de el Nuevo Herald. Además, algunas de las personas citadas en las historias sólo se identifican con su primer nombre para evitar represalias de las autoridades.

Continue reading
Leiva participa este martes en la primera audiencia de la cámara sobre Cuba. A su juicio, "en los próximos cuatro años veremos el cambio en Cuba. Esta es una época de retos y amenazas, pero también de esperanzas y oportunidades" Continue reading
Una historia que enfrenta el comienzo de una vida con el final de otra y en la que la realidad social de Cuba está muy presente y se convierte casi en una protagonista más del filme. Continue reading
"Tengo una restricción en el sistema", le dijo una funcionaria cuando Garro Alfonso fue a tramitar su pasaporte, motivo de la invitación de una ONG de derechos humanos en Alemania. Continue reading
Legisladores de EE UU preparan proyectos para levantar restricciones a
comercio con Cuba
Este sería el primer paso práctico hacia un levantamiento del embargo
estadounidense sobre la isla de gobierno comunista, aseguran los expertos.
Agencias
febrero 02, 2015

Legisladores estadounidenses están preparando una serie de proyectos de
ley para aminorar las restricciones al comercio con Cuba, con miras a
que se presenten en los próximos dos meses, dijeron el lunes asesores
parlamentarios.

Este sería el primer paso práctico hacia un levantamiento del embargo
estadounidense sobre la isla de Gobierno comunista tras el anuncio en
diciembre de que los dos países mejorarán sus relaciones tras cinco
décadas de hostilidad.

Uno de los proyectos que se redacta permitiría a empresas de
telecomunicaciones de Estados Unidos hacer negocios en Cuba y otro
apuntaría específicamente al mercado para productos agrícolas. Un
tercero sería una moción más amplia para levantarel embargo.

Un asesor legislativo demócrata, hablando bajo condición de anonimato,
dijo que el plan es generar un debate sobre la política hacia Cuba, pese
a la oposición de grupos en el Congreso. Las encuestas de opinión
muestran que la mayoría de los estadounidense están en favor de
relaciones más normales.

"Esta es una estrategia de largo plazo", dijo el asesor.

Senadores republicanos y demócratas presentaron la semana pasada una
medida que busca terminar con una restricción legal a los viajes entre
Estados Unidos y Cuba.

El presidente de Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, y su par cubano, Raúl
Castro, anunciaron el 17 de diciembre que trabajarían para normalizar
las relaciones entre los dos países.

El cambio tiene un amplio respaldo de los dos grandes partidos
estadounidenses, pero enfrenta una enconada resistencia de algunos
legisladores, especialmente de origen cubano, como el senador Marco
Rubio de Florida. El senador Mitch McConnell, el líder de la mayoría
republicana del Senado, no tiene intención de dejar que se vote la
moción sobre los viajes, dijo un portavoz.

Pero quienes apoyan la moción dijeron que consideraban presentarla como
una enmienda a un proyecto de gasto este año.

Source: Legisladores de EE UU preparan proyectos para levantar
restricciones a comercio con Cuba -
http://www.martinoticias.com/content/legisladores-estadounidenses-preparan-proyectos-para-levantar-restricciones-a-comercio-con-cuba/85756.html Continue reading
OSCAR PEÑA: Fidel Castro y nosotros 02/02/2015 2:00 PM 02/02/2015 7:58 PM Comments Si el propósito de Fidel Castro era quedar marcado en la historia, lo logró, pero –lamentablemente para sus nacionales– no de manera completamente beneficiosa y ejemplar. Se trata del cubano más enfermo de ambición de poder, ego, protagonismo y obstinación que se […] Continue reading
Regulaciones paradójicas 02/02/2015 8:49 PM 02/02/2015 9:32 PM Comments El Congreso, a punto de comenzar a tomar en cuenta un proyecto de ley bipartidista sobre la libertad de viajar a Cuba, tal vez debiera considerar las risibles circunstancias que se derivan de la actual política estadounidense sobre el tema. Actualmente, los estadounidenses que viajan a […] Continue reading
Organismos de DDHH piden que UE aproveche ‘ventana de oportunidad’ con Cuba y no sea ‘testigo’ PATRICIO ARANA/AFP 02/03/2015 8:05 AM 02/03/2015 8:05 AM BRUSELAS La Federación Internacional de Derechos Humanos (FIDH) y el disidente cubano Elizardo Sánchez pidieron el martes que la Unión Europea (UE) aproveche la “ventana de oportunidad” que se abrió en […] Continue reading
Cuba exige a EEUU que sus diplomáticos dejen de apoyar a la oposición La Habana plantea como condición para abrir las embajadas que su misión no financie a la disidencia EL PERIÓDICO / LA HABANA 03/02/2015 Cuba ha advertido a EEUU que para que la apertura de embajadas en Washington y La Habana pueda tener […] Continue reading
Cuba advierte a EEUU sobre las ayudas a los disidentes De Por Daniel Trotta | Reuters LA HABANA (Reuters) – Cuba advirtió el lunes a Estados Unidos de que quiere que los diplomáticos estadounidenses reduzcan la ayuda a los disidentes cubanos antes de que ambos países puedan volver a abrir embajadas en sus respectivas capitales. […] Continue reading
El Crítico: la música como instrumento subversivo en Cuba ESPECIAL PARA EL NUEVO HERALD Angel Yunier Remón Arzuaga, el rapero cubano conocido como “El Crítico”, formó parte de la lista de 53 presos políticos liberados a petición de Estados Unidos. Durante su tiempo en la cárcel mantuvo una huelga de hambre de 27 días y […] Continue reading
Si Estados Unidos desea la libre circulación de sus diplomáticos en Cuba, tiene que dejar de usarlos para apoyar a la oposición política, advirtió una alta funcionaria. Continue reading
Russia Plans Joint Military Drills With North Korea and Cuba
BY DAMIEN SHARKOV 2/2/15 AT 6:39 PM

Russia could soon be carrying out military drills alongside North Korea
and Cuba according to Valery Gerasimov, the chief of staff of the
Russian armed forces.

Speaking at a meeting on Saturday which was also attended by Russia's
defence minister Sergey Shoygu, along with the heads of all armed forces
branches, Gerasimov announced: "We are planning an expansion of the
communication lines of our military central command. We are entering
preliminary negotiations with the armed forces of Brazil, Vietnam, Cuba
and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea."

"We are going to conduct a series of joint naval and air force
exercises, as well as joint drills of our ground troops and air assault
troops," the military official added.

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According to the former U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine Steven Pifer,
Russia is developing these potential military partnerships as a response
to its current international isolation. Due to its involvement in the
Ukrainian conflict, the U.S. and EU have both imposed sanctions on the
country and certain Russian individuals, and the country was suspended
from the G8 last March.

"The Russian military may be reaching out to other countries as part of
Moscow's effort to show that it is not isolated, despite the very
negative international reaction to Russian aggression against Ukraine,"
Pifer says.

However Pifer, who also served as special assistant to president Bill
Clinton on Russia and Eurasia, does not believe Russia's attempts to
embark on new military partnerships will develop further: "I'd be
astonished to see Russian and North Korean troops training together,"
Pifer says.

"As for Cuba, Moscow has a long history there. My guess is that part of
the Russian interest is tit-for-tat: they are unhappy with U.S/ military
cooperation with the Baltic states and other countries, such as Georgia,
that are close to them, so they hope to tweak the United States by
upping their engagement in Cuba."

However, according to Pifer a Russian partnership with Cuba may also be
unlikely due to the recent thawing of relations between Havana and the U.S..

Last week Russian president Vladimir Putin told military officials in
Moscow that he would like to expand Russia's role in the arms trade
across the Far East and Latin America.

Source: Russia Plans Joint Military Drills With North Korea and Cuba -
http://www.newsweek.com/russia-plans-joint-military-drills-north-korea-and-cuba-303836 Continue reading
High demand for travel to Cuba already being felt at U.S. travel
agencies and websites
By Elizabeth LlorentePublished February 02, 2015Fox News Latino

Bob Guild's inbox is on fire, exceeding the server's limit multiple
times in recent weeks.

Blame it on Cuba.

Or, more precisely, the clamor to visit the island nation.

Ever since President Barack Obama announced in December that he was
easing trade and travel restrictions between the United States and Cuba,
topped off by proposed legislation in the U.S. Senate – to be mimicked
next week in a House version – lifting all travel restrictions to the
island, people have been reaching out to Guild and his agency, Marazul
Charters, about going there.

"I alone have gotten about 1,500 emails," said Guild, vice president of
Marazul, which in the late 1970s became the first American company to
organize trips to Cuba since the start of the embargo.

Last week, the popular travel site Kayak.com began posting flight and
hotel information about Cuba because of the huge demand for it.

"There's been a lot of press coverage about this and people are
interested in traveling to Cuba," Robert Birge, Kayak's chief marketing
officer, said to USA Today. "There's been an increased demand from
people for this information. Now that the demand is there, we've decided
it's time to make that information available on our site."

Not that you can actually purchase the tickets on the website.

The high-level push for dramatic changes in U.S. dealings with Cuba came
as a surprise to most, including long-time movers and shakers in the
arena of U.S.-Cuba policymaking. Remarkably, the White House managed to
keep negotiations a secret, holding discussions for more than a year in
locations such as Canada and even the Vatican.

The bipartisan Senate measure also caught many Cuba policy watchers
off-guard.

"I knew [they] intended to introduce a bill, but I didn't think they
would get it together so quickly," Guild, 66, said. "I'm taken aback.
The relations between Cuba and the United States have been locked for
more than 50 years. It's almost breathtaking everything that's happened"
in such a short time.

Whether the Senate bill, called the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, and
its expected sister measure in the House make it to a floor vote is
considered unlikely, though seldom before has there been such momentum
for such a policy change. Many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, in
addition to business groups, agricultural employers and more and more
younger Cuban-Americans, support normalizing relations with Cuba.

"There is bipartisan support for this," said Guild, who arranges trips
for Cuban-Americans who go to Cuba to visit relatives, and
people-to-people interchange tours conducted by institutions such as
universities and cultural groups.

"There are libertarian conservatives who think it's an infringement on
Americans' right to travel," he said of the embargo. "It's not about
empowering Cubans, it's about empowering Americans to travel anywhere in
the world."

One of the more immediate changes announced by the Obama administration
is the expansion of the type of interchanges – including educational,
humanitarian, religious and cultural – that people who travel to Cuba
are allowed to engage in, and the elimination of the requirement for a
special license from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign
Assets Control.

Obtaining a license used to mean involving attorneys to help fill out
hundreds of documents to prove that a trip met the definition of a
"meaningful" exchange between every person in traveling group and Cubans
on the island.

That, Guild said, contributed to making trips to Cuba expensive – often
running into the thousands of dollars per person – even though it is
just 90 miles from Florida, at most a half-hour plane ride from there.

He expects more people to get into the business of arranging travel
there, and that should bring the price down, he said.

Cuban-Americans going to Cuba on their own can take a round trip charter
flight from Florida, for example, for between $400 and $500.

That could get even less expensive if more airlines start offering trips
to the island from airports around the country. Many major airlines have
indicated that they are considering doing so.

The stepped-up tourism from the U.S. will present challenges to Cuba,
which gets about 3 million visitors from around the world – a million
from Canada alone.

"What is Cuba going to do to respond to the increased level of demand?"
asked Guild. "They'll have renovate older hotels, make it possible for
tourists to stay in people's homes. People can't just hop on a plane [in
greater numbers] and show up there and head to the beach."

The tourism infrastructure, he said, will have to change.

For his part, Marazul will begin organizing more of its own trips for
individuals starting in September, Guild said, expanding beyond the
group tours it puts together for organizations.


Elizabeth Llorente can be reached at elizabeth.llorente@foxnewslatino.com

Source: High demand for travel to Cuba already being felt at U.S. travel
agencies and websites | Fox News Latino -
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/lifestyle/2015/02/01/high-demand-for-travel-to-cuba-already-being-felt-at-us-travel-agencies-and/ Continue reading
Cuba Urges Washington to Halt Support for Dissidents Before Talks Resume
Rishi Iyengar @iyengarrishi

The island nation wants U.S. diplomats to stop supporting Cuban
opposition parties

Cuba warned the U.S. this week against aiding opponents of Havana's
communist government, as the two countries move toward re-establishing
diplomatic ties after over 50 years of adversarial relations.

In an interview broadcast on state television, the island nation's top
official for U.S. affairs said that the establishment of an American
embassy in Cuba is contingent on a scaling back of support for dissident
groups, Reuters reports.

"The total freedom of movement, which the U.S. side is posing, is tied
to a change in the behavior of its diplomatic mission and its
officials," Josefina Vidal said, ahead of a second round of bilateral
talks to be held in Washington next month.

"Matters of the internal affairs in Cuba are not negotiable," Vidal added.

Much of the Cuban diaspora in the U.S. remains hostile to the Castro
regime, including many influential figures in Washington.

Source: Cuba Urges Washington to Halt Support for Dissidents Before
Talks Resume | TIME -
http://time.com/3693337/cuba-u-s-talks-diplomats-warning/ Continue reading
Rubio: Cuba taking advantage of U.S.
By Marco Rubio
Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT) February 2, 2015

Story highlights
Sen. Marco Rubio: Castro regime wants even more in exchange for nothing
When dealing with tyrants, you can't wear them down with kindness, Rubio
says

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, is a member of the Senate
Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees. The opinions expressed in
this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)In "The Godfather Part II," Michael Corleone famously responds to a
U.S. senator's demands by saying, "My offer is this: nothing."

Since President Barack Obama announced his normalization deal with the
Cuban regime in December, life appears to be imitating art. Last week,
Cuban President Raul Castro declared that his regime would not even
entertain the Obama administration's requests to normalize ties until
the United States abandons our naval base at Guantanamo Bay, ends the
trade embargo, ceases pro-democracy radio and television broadcasts into
Cuba and compensates the regime for "human and economic damages" the
U.S. has, according to him, inflicted on the Cuban people. Last month,
the regime's lead negotiator summed up its position even more succinctly
after the first round of U.S.-Cuba normalization talks in Havana,
saying, "Change in Cuba is not negotiable."

In other words, emboldened by the first wave of concessions Obama gave
the Castro regime in the form of access to more U.S. dollars, it wants
even more in exchange for nothing.

When dealing with tyrants, you can't wear them down with kindness. When
that approach is attempted and one-sided concessions are made, tyrants
don't interpret them as good faith gestures. They interpret them as
weakness. This is a lesson the Obama administration has failed to learn
from its dealings with Iran, North Korea and Russia, and even terrorists
such as the Taliban.

On Tuesday, the American people will have their first opportunity to
hear from the Obama administration about its dealings with the Castro
regime when I chair a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee's Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere affairs. I look forward
to hearing the perspectives of State Department officials, even though I
am already concerned by the administration's reluctance to allow the
American people to hear directly from the two White House officials who
negotiated the deal with the Castro regime over the course of 18 months
of secret negotiations, and without the input of our government's top
diplomats and negotiators.

Many important questions remain about what exactly the Castro regime has
done in exchange for Obama's softening of travel and banking regulations
that will now allow more U.S. dollars to fill the Castro regime's
coffers. For example, it's unclear why, with all the economic leverage
it initially brought to the table, the administration apparently
accepted a deal to free conditionally 53 political prisoners -- many of
whom were released, but with charges pending or were threatened with
more jail time if they renew their pro-democracy work. Indeed, some have
already reportedly been rearrested in addition to hundreds of new
detentions since the December announcement.

Questions also remain about what, if anything, the administration has
done to secure the repatriation of what the FBI estimates to be more
than 70 fugitives from justice being provided safe harbor in Cuba,
including known cop killers such as Joanne Chesimard. Also unknown is
what, if anything, the administration intends to do to secure billions
of dollars' worth of outstanding American property claims and judgments
against the Cuban government. The list of questions and concerns like
these goes on and on.

In recent months, I've made clear that I believe the President and his
allies in Congress are misguided for supporting a policy that gives away
practically all the leverage the United States has to bring about
democratic change in Cuba in exchange for virtually nothing. While
reasonable people can disagree on the merits of what U.S.-Cuba policy
should be in the 21st century, no serious person can argue that America
is stronger when we give a cruel regime such as the one in Cuba
everything it wants from the United States, including money it uses to
repress its opponents, while we get nothing in return except more
anti-American bluster from a geriatric dictator.

With Cuba in the news recently, many Americans are asking why Cuba
matters to them and why they should care. The simple answer is that what
happens with Cuba has far-reaching and potentially damaging implications
far beyond the island nation. Cuba is not the only rogue regime with
which Obama is engaging in an attempt to end bad behavior. When America
sits at the negotiating table with one tyrant or radical regime, the
others -- from Iran to North Korea and elsewhere -- watch closely and
learn best practices that they can apply to advance their own
anti-American agendas. Just as the Cuban regime reportedly cited our
swap of five members of the Taliban in the negotiations for Alan Gross'
release, the Iranians watched how North Korea exploited U.S. diplomacy,
slow-walked negotiations and ultimately achieved their goal of
developing a nuclear weapon.

There should therefore be no doubt that regimes around the world will be
looking to emulate the Castro regime's so far successful efforts to take
advantage of Obama's weaknesses and to undermine the U.S. role as the
world's leading economic and military power.

When the President settles for one-sided deals with the Castro regime,
it hurts the Cuban people and their aspirations for freedom. When Obama
allows the Castro regime to get the best of him in negotiations, it
emboldens tyrants around the world. As the President's engagement with
the Castro regime continues, I will do all I can to ensure that his
"normalization" does not come at all costs, becoming yet another
instance of a failed foreign policy that makes America weaker in the
world and, ultimately, less safe.

Source: Rubio: Cuba taking advantage of U.S. - CNN.com -
http://edition.cnn.com/2015/02/02/opinion/rubio-cuba-embargo/ Continue reading
3 millones de turistas en 2014, ¿por cuánto tiempo? [03-02-2015 13:38:59] Elías Amor Economista (www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- En un Informe reciente, la Oficina Nacional de Estadística de Cuba acaba de publicar el dato relativo al turismo en la Isla durante 2014. Según datos oficiales, el año cerró, al fin, con más de tres millones de entradas. En […] Continue reading
Razas y Fraternidades, orígenes similares, e imperecederos [03-02-2015 13:57:48] Miriam Herrera (www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- Lo esencial que enseña la evolución sobre las razas es que no existen diferentes razas biológicas de seres humanos. Lo que llamamos “razas” humanas son categorías determinadas por razones históricas, sociales y culturales, pero esas categorías no corresponden a divisiones “naturales del género […] Continue reading
Ciudadano denuncia corrupción policial [03-02-2015 13:48:27] Enrique Díaz Rodríguez (www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- Ciudadano cubano denuncia corrupción policial comprobada en arbitraria sanción impuesta a su persona por agentes de la Policía Nacional Revolucionaria (PNR). Carlos Manuel Peña Hill, residente en calle 136 e/n 101 y 103, en Marianao; denuncia que oficiales de la PNR actuaron en su contra, […] Continue reading
Oficiales cubanos asesinan a un prisionero en la cárcel de Quivicán [03-02-2015 13:31:06] Magaly Norvis Otero Suárez Centro de Información Hablemos Press (www.miscelaneasdecuba.net). La Habana.- Oficiales de la Prisión Provincial de Quivicán asesinaron a golpes al prisionero Alexander Rosell Rodríguez, el 30 de enero, informaron sus compañeros. El prisionero político Osvaldo Rodríguez Acosta asegura a […] Continue reading
American Tourists Won't Bring Democracy to Cuba
[02-02-2015 14:24:56]
Jaime Suchlicki
Director del Instituto de Estudios Cubanos y Cubano-Americanos de la
Universidad de Miami

(www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- Over the past decades hundred of thousands
of Canadian, European and Latin American tourists have visited the
island. Cuba is not more democratic today. If anything, Cuba is more
totalitarian, with the state and its control apparatus having been
strengthened as a result of the influx of tourist dollars.
The assumption that tourism or trade will lead to economic and political
change is not borne out by serious studies. In Eastern Europe, communism
collapsed a decade after tourism peaked. No study of Eastern Europe or
the Soviet Union claims that tourism, trade or investments had anything
to do with the end of communism.

The repeated statement that the embargo is the cause of Cuba's economic
problems is hollow. The reasons for the economic misery of the Cubans
are a failed political and economic system. Like the communist systems
of Eastern Europe, Cuba's system does not function, stifles initiative
and productivity and destroys human freedom and dignity.

As occurred in the mid-1990s, an infusion of American tourist dollars
will provide the regime with a further disincentive to adopt deeper
economic reforms. Cuba's limited economic reforms were enacted in the
early 1990s, when the island's economic contraction was at its worst.
These reforms were rescinded by Castro as soon as the economy stabilized.

The assumption that the Cuban leadership would allow U.S. tourists or
businesses to subvert the revolution and influence internal developments
is at best naïve.

American tourists will have limited contact with Cubans. Most Cuban
resorts are built in isolated areas, are off limits to the average
Cuban, and are controlled by Cuba's efficient security apparatus. Most
Americans don't speak Spanish, and are not interested in visiting the
island to subvert its regime. Law 88 enacted in 1999 prohibits Cubans
from receiving publications from tourists. Penalties include jail terms.

Money from American tourists would flow into businesses owned by the
Castro government thus strengthening state enterprises. The tourist
industry is controlled by the military and General Raul Castro.

While providing the Castro government with much needed dollars, the
economic impact of tourism on the Cuban population would be limited.
Dollars will trickle down to the Cuban poor in only small quantities,
while state and foreign enterprises will benefit most.

Tourist dollars would be spent on products, i.e., rum, tobacco, etc.,
produced by state enterprises, and tourists would stay in hotels owned
partially or wholly by the Cuban government. The principal airline
shuffling tourists around the island, Gaviota, is owned and operated by
the Cuban military.
Once American tourists begin to visit Cuba, Castro would restrict travel
by Cuban-Americans. For the Castro regime, Cuban-Americans represent a
far more subversive group because of their ability to speak to friends
and relatives.

Lifting the travel ban without major concessions from Cuba would send
the wrong message "to the enemies of the United States": that a foreign
leader can seize U.S. properties without compensation; allow the use of
his territory for the introduction of nuclear missiles aimed at the
United Sates; espouse terrorism and anti-U.S. causes throughout the
world; and eventually the United States will "forget and forgive," and
reward him with tourism, investments and economic aid.

Since the Ford/Carter era, U.S. policy toward Latin America has
emphasized democracy, human rights and constitutional government. Under
President Reagan the U.S. intervened in Grenada, under President Bush,
Sr. the U.S. intervened in Panama and under President Clinton the U.S.
landed marines in Haiti, all to restore democracy to those countries.
Military intervention is not necessarily a policy toward Cuba. The U.S.
has prevented military coups in the region and supported the will of the
people in free elections. While this U.S. policy has not been uniformly
applied throughout the world, it is U.S. policy in the region. Cuba is
part of Latin America. A normalization of relations with a military
dictatorship in Cuba will send the wrong message to the rest of the
continent.

Ending the travel ban and the embargo unilaterally does not guarantee
that the Castro brothers will change their hostile policies against the
U.S. or provide more freedoms and respect for human rights to the Cuban
people.

Supporting regimes and dictators that violate human rights and abuse
their population is an ill-advised policy that rewards and encourages
further abuses.
A large influx of American tourists into Cuba would have a dislocating
effect on the economies of smaller Caribbean islands and even Florida.

If the travel ban is lifted without preconditions, Americans and
Cuban-Americans could take their small boats from Florida and visit the
island. Thousands of boats would be returning to Florida after visiting
Cuba with illegal Cuban migrants and goods, complicating security and
migration issues in South Florida.

If the travel ban is lifted unilaterally now by the U.S., what will the
U.S. government have to negotiate with a future regime in Cuba and to
encourage changes in the island? Lifting the ban could be an important
bargaining chip with a future regime willing to provide concessions in
the area of political and economic freedoms.

The travel ban and the embargo should be lifted as a result of
negotiations between the U.S. and a Cuban government willing to provide
meaningful and irreversible political and economic concessions or when
there is a democratic government in place in the island.

Source: American Tourists Won't Bring Democracy to Cuba - Misceláneas de
Cuba -
http://www.miscelaneasdecuba.net/web/Article/Index/54cf7aa83a682e0950f8b3ce#.VNDMyGjF9HE Continue reading
Cuba hearings to begin Tuesday on Capitol Hill
BY MIMI WHITEFIELD MWHITEFIELD@MIAMIHERALD.COM
02/02/2015 7:00 AM 02/02/2015 7:56 PM

The first in a series of congressional hearings examining the potential
impact of President Barack Obama's new Cuba policy gets underway Tuesday
in the Senate.

Later in the week, the action switches to the House with two hearings:
the main show — "Assessing the Administration's Sudden Shift'' — before
the Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday and a subcommittee hearing
on human rights in Cuba on Thursday.

The common theme for this week's hearings seems to be whether Obama gave
away too much without getting enough from Cuba as the two countries work
toward restoring diplomatic relations.

That's the position of Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who as
chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Western Hemisphere subcommittee
called the first Cuba hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

In an opinion piece he wrote Monday for CNN, Rubio recalled a line from
The Godfather Part II in which mob character Michael Corleone responds
to the demands of a U.S. senator by saying, "My offer is this: nothing."

"In recent months, I've made clear that I believe the president and his
allies in Congress are misguided for supporting a policy that gives away
practically all the leverage the United States has to bring about
democratic change in Cuba in exchange for virtually nothing," wrote Rubio.

The senator said he wants answers on what the administration has done to
secure the repatriation of an estimated 70 fugitives from U.S. justice
who now live in Cuba as well as "what exactly the Castro regime has done
in exchange for Obama's softening of travel and banking regulations that
will now allow more U.S. dollars to fill the Castro regime's coffers."

Rubio, who is testing the waters for a possible presidential run, called
the hearing the same day he assumed the subcommittee chairmanship last week.

Among those scheduled to testify at the Senate hearing are Assistant
Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson, who
recently headed the U.S. delegation during normalization talks in
Havana, and Tomasz Malinowski, assistant secretary for democracy, human
rights, and labor.

Rosa María Payá, of the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement, also is
scheduled to testify. She is the daughter of Oswaldo Payá, one of Cuba's
most respected dissidents when he died in a mysterious 2012 car crash.

She'll be joined by activists Berta Soler, Miriam Leiva, and Manuel
Cuesta Morúa.

There's expected to be an overflow crowd when the House Foreign Affairs
Committee convenes at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The hearing will be webcast at
www.foreignaffairs.house.gov/live-video-feed.

"The Obama administration's sudden shift on Cuba policy raises many
concerns, including how hard the United States pressed the Castro regime
on its abysmal human-rights record during the secret White House
negotiations that cut out the State Department," said Republican Rep. Ed
Royce, a Californian who chairs the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

"When it comes to the unilateral concessions provided to the Castro
regime, the Obama administration has much to answer for. From the
commercial goodie bag provided to the Castro regime to the pardons
bestowed upon three convicted spies, one of whom was responsible for the
murder of American citizens, the concessions provided to these Caribbean
despots is pathetic," said South Florida Republican Rep. Ileana
Ros-Lehtinen.

"I look forward to hearing from State, Treasury, and Commerce and
questioning the basis for normalizing relations with an unworthy regime
that continues to detain dissidents," she said.

In addition to Jacobson, John E. Smith, deputy director of Treasury's
Office of Foreign Assets Control, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of
Commerce for Export Administration Matthew S. Borman are slated to testify.

During a Thursday morning hearing on human rights before the House
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and
International Organizations, Jorge Luis García Pérez, an anti-Castro
activist known as Antúnez, will testify.

Source: Cuba hearings to begin Tuesday on Capitol Hill | The Miami
Herald The Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article8964596.html Continue reading
Glenn Garvin: Cuba still shelters U.S. fugitives
BY GLENN GARVIN
02/02/2015 6:20 PM 02/02/2015 6:22 PM

Having already announced that the United States will reestablish full
diplomatic relations with Cuba and eased American travel restrictions to
the island, President Obama is now at work on removing the Castro
brothers' family farm from the State Department's list of state sponsors
of terrorism.

He's ordered a "review" of Cuba's status on the list, to be completed no
later than May. Given the president's flexible morality when it comes to
Cuba — he's already released a Cuban spy who was also serving two life
sentences for conspiracy to commit murder — there's little doubt how the
review will turn out.

And it's true that most of the guerrilla groups that Cuba used to
support around Latin America have either turned to legitimate politics
or gone out of business altogether. These days, the Castros support
terrorists who've struck at just one country: the United States.

Cuba began providing safe haven for accused American criminals early on.
In 1961, a black militant leader from North Carolina accused of
kidnapping a white couple during a racial disturbance evaded the FBI and
arrived in Havana.

By 1968, U.S. fugitives were arriving with regularity, often aboard
hijacked airplanes. Many were members of self-proclaimed revolutionary
groups who carried out their political agenda with bombings, bank
robberies and murder of police officers drawn by Cuba's open embrace of
anyone who claimed to be carrying out "armed struggle" against
non-communist governments.

"We understood that if anything ever happened in the U.S. and we had to
leave, the best thing was to come to Cuba," explained Charlie Hill, a
member of a militant group called the Republic of New Africa that wanted
to form an independent black nation in the American South.

Hill and two other members hijacked a plane to Cuba after shooting and
killing a New Mexico police officer who wanted to search their car,
which was loaded with guns and dynamite. His comments were made to
Teishan Latner, a research fellow at NYU's Center for the United States
and the Cold War, whose forthcoming book, Irresistible Revolution: Cuba
and American Radicalism, 1968-1992, offers a revealing look at the Cuban
government's treatment of the fugitives deemed genuine revolutionaries.

The Castro regime gave them ration cards and free housing. One large
Havana home was known as Hijack House because so many of its occupants
arrived on pirated aircraft. Neighbors referred to another as Casa de
las Panteras for the all the fugitive Black Panthers living there.

These revolutionary pilgrims got many privileges not available to
ordinary Cubans, including the loan of AK-47 rifles for hunting
expeditions. To be fair, Castro came to regret that one when his
relations with exiled Black Panther chief Eldridge Cleaver — who fled to
Cuba after a shootout with Oakland police — went south.

Cleaver chillingly reminded the government he had guns. After a tense
standoff of several weeks, there was mutual agreement that Cleaver would
move on to Algeria.

For more pliable fugitives, the rewards were bounteous: college
educations and cushy jobs. Some worked at propaganda stations beaming
revolutionary rhetoric at the United States. Others taught English at
elite Havana schools.

William Lee Brent, a Black Panther who hijacked a plane after shooting
three San Francisco cops, was a Cuban emissary to the left-wing
government of Grenada during the 1980s before his death from pneumonia.
Assata Shakur (who originally went by the name Joanne Chesimard), a
member of the cop-killing Black Liberation Army convicted of murder in
the death of a policeman during a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike,
became a hostess for delegations of international leftists. Presumably
they're impressed by such diplomatic credentials as her place on the
FBI's list of most-wanted terrorists and the $2 million reward posted
for her capture by U.S. law enforcement.

As recently as the 1990s, the FBI had a list of 91 fugitives from
terrorist-type charges living in Cuba. But age and disillusionment have
taken a toll, and researcher Latner believes there are no more than two
dozen left, perhaps only half that.

Still, they include some big names: Ishmael LaBeet, one of five men
convicted of the infamous Fountain Valley Massacre, a racially tinged
1972 armed robbery in the Virgin Islands that turned into mass murder,
with eight dead. William Morales, the master bomb-maker of the Puerto
Rican separatist group FALN, which set off 140 or so blasts around the
United States during the 1970s and 1980s, killing at least six people.
Victor Gerena, an armed robber working for another Puerto Rican
separatist group, who is believed to have taken the proceeds of a $7
million heist to Cuba with him.

The biggest of all remains Shakur.

She used to be a star attraction on the Cuban government's cultural
reception circuit, but has virtually disappeared in recent times. "I
think they are definitely worried about bounty hunters trying to grab
her," says Latner. Maybe Obama's easing of travel restrictions to Cuba
will have a silver lining after all, at least for the FBI.

Source: Glenn Garvin: Cuba still shelters U.S. fugitives | The Miami
Herald The Miami Herald -
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