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… contingency plans drawn to attack Cuba, incensed over the small island … Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuban Documentation Project at the National … military options from blocking outgoing Cuban ships carrying troops and war material to airstrikes against Cuban bases and airfields. The documents … Continue reading
The man still advises the high and mighty. Frances Robles is reporting at The New York Times : Nearly 40 years ago, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger mapped out secret contingency plans to launch Continue reading
Bambi Smyth went on 75 dates overseas. Source: Supplied TWENTY-TWO countries. 81 days. 75 blind dates. 294 meals. Recently single Aussie traveller Bambi Smyth wasn't having much luck with the local lads, Continue reading
Bambi Smyth went on 75 dates overseas. Source: Supplied TWENTY-TWO countries. 81 days. 75 blind dates. 294 meals. Recently single Aussie traveller Bambi Smyth wasn't having much luck with the local lads, Continue reading
HAVANA, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- With a month and half to go before Havana hosts its annual marathon, known as the Marabana, some 370 runners from 39 countries have already registered to compete, the Cuban Continue reading
Havana marathon headed for record number of int'l runners Contributed by NAMPA / Xinhua. HAVANA, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- With a month and half to go before Havana hosts its annual marathon, known as the Continue reading
Welcome! " The Evening Blues" is a casual community diary (published Monday - Friday, 8:00 PM Eastern) where we hang out, share and talk about news, music, photography and other things of interest to Continue reading
SILVER CITY An eclectic blend of music will be making its way to Silver City for the Grant County Community Concert Association's 2014-15 concert season. Performances will feature favorite songs from Continue reading
… book, "Back Channel to Cuba," written by William M … Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuban Documentation Project at the National … military options from blocking outgoing Cuban ships carrying troops and war material to airstrikes against Cuban bases and airfields. The documents … Continue reading
KAREN BLEIER/AFP/ Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was angry that Cuba deployed troops to Angola, so he created a plan to stop Fidel Castro. NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. Secretary of State Henry Continue reading
Thank you, for that kind introduction.  And thank you to the Ethics and Compliance Officers Association for inviting me to speak with you today about the important topic of corporate compliance.  I understand Continue reading
Newly revealed government documents show former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had planned to bomb Cuba about 40 years ago. According to government papers obtained by researchers, Kissinger was Continue reading
Dong Nai rioters imprisoned for disturbing peace The People's Court of Nhon Trach district in the southern province of Dong Nai sentenced 15 men to 9-14 months in prison on September 29 for "causing Continue reading
… set for the monetary unification. Cubans have been watching closely for … equivalent value in Cuban pesos, said Pavel Vidal, a Cuban economist and … , Colombia. But if Cuba adds too many Cuban pesos to the system … monetary unification occurs," said Cuban economist Carmelo Mesa Lago, a … Continue reading
… ;halfway measures," particularly if Cuban troops moved into other southern … vowed to "crack the Cubans." The previously classified documents … Cuba followed an earlier attempt by Kissinger to mend ties with Havana … to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana.… Continue reading
* Man now in serious condition travelled to U.S. via Brussels * U.S. official says not a failure of Liberian monitoring * In Sierra Leone, Cubans due to arrive as official resigns (Adds patient Continue reading
(Reuters) - The man being treated for Ebola in Texas showed no signs of fever or symptoms of the virus when he left Liberia for the United States via Brussels on Sept. 19, Liberian and U.S. authorities Continue reading
… 40 years ago to attack Cuba over their deployment of troops … book, "Back Channel to Cuba," written by William M … Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuban Documentation Project at the National … Continue reading
"Cuba greatly appreciates foreign companies," according to Tokmakjian /
Posted on October 1, 2014

In 2010 the Canadian businessman stressed his full confidence in the
Island's authorities in an interview with Excelencias del Motor magazine.

14ymedio, Havana, 30 September 2014 — A year before his arrest in Havana
in September 2011, for a host of crimes (bribery, fraud, trafficking in
foreign currency, forgery, tax evasion, acts to the detriment of the
national economy), the Canadian businessman Cy Tokmakjian, sentenced
last week to 15 years in prison, made very positive statements about the
business climate in Cuba.

In an interview published in January 2010 in Excelencias del Motor
magazine, belonging to a Spanish group with representation on the
Island, the owner of the Tokmakjian Group spoke of the success of his
company and its projects after 21 years in Cuba.

At that time, the company was expanding with the opening of the
technical facilities of Wajay (Havana), Camaguey and Moa (Holguin),
which had helped increase the number of Cuban employees from 140 to 230

The Tokmakjian Group, according to its founder, intended to use Cuban
specialists for trade with the rest of Latin America, especially Panama,
Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. The businessman
introduced high-tech equipment to manufacture products in Cuba, "to
solve national problems quickly and export from this country," through
joint ventures.

"We have to maneuver carefully not to lose the investment, the support
and the confidence we have in Cuba"

Cy Tokmakjian showed no fear, faced with the ravages of the global
economic crisis. "I've been in Cuba 21 years, I know the current
situation in the country. During the years 1991 and 1992, the situation
was no better, we are 'accustomed' to working in difficult times," he
explained. "The parent company in Canada trusts Cuba and the Cubans,
which allows flexible receipts and payments; we expect Cuba will
recover; we will continue doing business. However, we have to maneuver
carefully, not to lose the investment, the support and the confidence we
have in Cuba. We are all working on this together, Canadians and
Cubans," he added.

"Cuba greatly appreciates the foreign companies that continue to work in
Cuba through difficult times. Together, Cubans and Canadians, we
maintain an ethic, a principle, and mutual assistance," he revealed.

Source: "Cuba greatly appreciates foreign companies," according to
Tokmakjian / 14ymedio | Translating Cuba - Continue reading
… Oliveros Padron Havana (Prensa Latina) The traditional powerhouse in judo, Cuba will … to the president of the Cuban Judo Federation, Rafael Manso, the … el presidente de la Federación cubana de la disciplina, Rafael Manso … México como los Juegos, los cubanos casi siempre comenzaron la competencia … Continue reading
… of the Central Bank of Cuba (BCC), Ernesto Medina, says that … in Cuba, where a convertible peso (CUC) circulates alongside a Cuban peso … pointed out that logically, the Cuban peso (CUP) would be the … Continue reading
In 2010 the Canadian businessman stressed his full confidence in the Island’s authorities in an interview with Excelencias del Motor magazine. 14ymedio, Havana, 30 September 2014 — A year before his arrest in Havana in September 2011, for a host … Continue reading Continue reading
What Will Change in Cuba's Economy with Murillo's Re-Appointment?
September 30, 2014
By Emilio Morales*

HAVANA TIMES — What does Marino Murillo Jorge's re-appointment as the
head of Cuba's Ministry of the Economy and Planning spell for the
island? Are there reasons to believe a change in the island's economic
strategies is coming, or is this merely a cosmetic change in the high
spheres of power?

Murillo's recent appointment as Minister for the Economy and Planning
has awakened as much interest as it has doubt among experts and the
international press, but, concretely, I dare quickly speculate that I
don't believe it means much. The problem facing Cuba's economy does not
lie in the person heading the Ministry of the Economy, in whether it is
Murillo or some other economist appointed by the Council of State, but
in the structural conception of the reforms and the strategic conception
underlying the change in the country's economic model.

To date, the reforms implemented by Raul Castro have not shown any signs
of taking off. On the contrary, the stagnation of the economy persists.

Hindering Growth

Since the readjustment, the Cuban economy has shown practically no signs
of growth and has stagnated, with a forecast of a very modest 1.4 growth
for this year. The measures that have been applied thus far to broaden
the private sector have reached the point of saturation, and the number
of self-employed has not been able to break the 500,000 barrier [there
is also no information on how may who took out licenses have since
turned them in]. Limiting the number of legal self-employment categories
to 201 reduces the threshold of opportunities and limits growth in the

In addition, four years have gone by and the wholesale market that was
to satisfy the needs of the private sector has not yet been created.

Though the changes currently underway have been more wide-encompassing
than those carried out 20 years ago, the truth is that they do not go as
deep as the situation demands. The productive forces have not been
freed, nor are they being incentivized with new opportunities, making
these the missing link of the reforms process.

The most tangible indication that Raul Castro's reforms have not been as
effective as expected is the rapid increase in Cuban emigration over the
last four years. This is clearly a sign that people are both unsatisfied
and disappointed, and it should be a direct indication that the
government ought to reassess its strategy and make the adjustments
needed to bring about a change in the way the country's economic model
is being changed.

A Generational Problem

Something has evidently failed in the current strategy and I do not
believe Murillo can change the country's economic panorama all by
himself. We are dealing with a conceptual problem that is very hard to
overcome by a generation that has been applying the same conceptions to
govern the country for 56 years. The government has shown a tendency to
enter into inner disputes and change its economic strategies, but, in
fact, the content of its policies is the same one we heard in the
nineties, when the Soviet era was coming to an end.

Though opportunities for foreign capital afforded by the new Foreign
Investment Law and the Mariel Special Development Zone are both viable
and timely, the strategy appears to focus on the development of the
country's macro-economy and not its micro-economy, such that the
reforms, in their entirety, are obstructed.

Many are the opportunities (at least on paper) offered foreign
investors, and very few are those made available to Cubans living in
Cuba or abroad. This brings about the stagnation of the domestic market,
something which is going to make the elimination of the two-currency
system (scheduled for the end of the year or beginning of 2015) very
difficult and have adverse effects on measures aimed at encouraging
foreign investment.

The development of the domestic market must be included in the same
strategy the government has designed to encourage foreign investment –
the two must become the parallel tracks of the same mechanism, through
the essential development of a network of private enterprises. The State
has no other realistic alternative other than yielding ground to private
enterprises, if it wishes to develop the country's productive forces.

If it fails to do so, the change to the country's economic model will be
yet another turn of the wheel and positive results will always be
something still to come – with Murillo or whoever at the helm, if enough
of Cuba's economy is still standing to experiment with inertia some more.

*Emilio Morales is a Cuban economist, ex-head of strategic planning for
marketing in the CIMEX corporation and author of the books "Cuba: silent
transition to capitalism?" and "Marketing without Advertising, Brand
Preference and Consumer Choice in Cuba", and president of the Havana
Consulting Group in Miami.

Source: What Will Change in Cuba's Economy with Murillo's
Re-Appointment? - Havana - Continue reading
1 October 2014 Last updated at 15:49 GMT

Henry Kissinger 'considered Cuba air strikes' in 1976

US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger drew up plans to "smash Cuba" with
air strikes nearly 40 years ago, government papers obtained by
researchers show.

He was angered by Cuba's 1976 military intervention in Angola and was
considering retaliation if Cuban forces were deployed elsewhere in Africa.

The information comes from documents declassified at the request of the
National Security Archive.

They show that Mr Kissinger was eager for the US to stand up to Cuba.

The documents from the Gerald R Ford Presidential Library show that US
officials devised plans to attack ports and military installations in
Cuba in addition to measures ordered by Mr Kissinger to deploy Marine
battalions based at the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay to "clobber" the

Continue reading the main story
Start Quote

Kissinger... was insulted that a small country would ruin his plans for
Africa and was essentially prepared to bring the imperial force of the
United States on Fidel Castro's head"

Peter Kornbluh
The government documents are published in Back Channel to Cuba, a new
book by American University professor William M LeoGrande and the
director of the National Security Archive's Cuba Documentation Project,
Peter Kornbluh.

Mr Kornbluh told the New York Times that Mr Kissinger was angered by
what he felt was the decision by then Cuban President Fidel Castro to
pursue his own foreign policy agenda in Africa rather than normalise
relations with the United States.

The newspaper reports that Mr Kissinger has refused to comment on its story.

Mr Kissinger, secretary of state from 1973-77, initially supported
underground efforts to improve relations with Cuba.

But the newly released documents show he was infuriated by Cuban
President Fidel Castro's decision in late 1975 to send troops to Angola
to help the newly independent nation fend off attacks from South Africa
and right-wing guerrillas.

"Kissinger, the global chessboard player, was insulted that a small
country would ruin his plans for Africa and was essentially prepared to
bring the imperial force of the United States on Fidel Castro's head,"
Mr Kornbluh was quoted in the newspaper as saying.

"You can see in the conversation with [US President] Gerald Ford that he
is extremely apoplectic," Mr Kornbluh said, describing the then
secretary of state's language about doing harm to Cuba as
"quintessentially aggressive".

"I think we are going to have to smash Castro," Mr Kissinger told Mr
Ford in a White House meeting in February 1976, adding Mr Ford should
defer action until after the presidential election that November.

"I agree," Mr Ford said.

US contingency plans drawn up on the options warned any military
aggression by the US in Cuba could lead to a direct confrontation with
the USSR.

"The circumstances that could lead the United States to select a
military option against Cuba should be serious enough to warrant further
action in preparation for general war," one document said.

The plans were never undertaken, as Jimmy Carter was elected president
that year.

Mr Kissinger's planned intervention came 15 years after a group of some
1,500 Cuban exiles trained and financed by the CIA launched an ill-fated
invasion of Cuba from the sea in the Bay of Pigs.

The plan was to overthrow Fidel Castro and his revolution.

Instead, it turned into a humiliating defeat which pushed Cuba firmly
into the arms of the Soviet Union and has soured US-Cuban relations to
this day.

Supporters of Mr Kissinger say he played a key role in US foreign policy
under presidents Nixon and Ford at the height of the Cold War, pointing
out that he brokered detente with the Soviet Union, paved the way for
President Nixon's landmark visit to China and who, they argue, negated
the Communist threat in Latin America.

They argue that he was instrumental in securing peace deals in the
Middle East and Vietnam.

But critics say he was the orchestrator of the controversial carpet
bombing of neutral Cambodia during the Vietnam War and helped Pakistan,
Greece, Indonesia and Chile to embark on acts of repression.

Source: BBC News - Henry Kissinger 'considered Cuba air strikes' in 1976
- Continue reading
Are Private Secondary Schools Emerging in Cuba?
September 30, 2014
Dmitri Prieto

HAVANA TIMES — A brochure handed out in Havana's neighborhood of Vedado
offers a "package" of refresher courses for high-school students.
Parents are invited to pay between 5 CUC (Math only) and 15 CUC (Math,
Spanish, Physics and Chemistry) a month to ensure their "son or daughter
becomes a university student", calling a mobile phone number for

The scope of the academic packages offered catches the eye: they offer
refresher courses for the subjects mentioned as well as for the natural
sciences, in diverse combinations and at different prices. The subjects
are taught in 45-minute lessons (as in most conventional secondary
schools) according to a weekly schedule.

One wonders, in view of the way these lessons are structured, whether we
are dealing with mere refresher courses or a veritable proposal for an
alternative to Cuba's public schools.

It's clear the teachers of these refresher courses would not subject
students to exams, which would be taken by the latter in the
institutions where they "study" officially.

The quotation marks are not accidental: it is also clear that the
budding business of private lessons exists thanks to the poor quality of
public education, which can't even manage to have its students pass or
obtain good grades at the exams designed by the State
educational-methodological bureaucracy on the basis of official programs.

That is why both parents and students turn to "refresher" (or perhaps
downright private) lessons as an individual option. I see nothing wrong
in the existence of private refresher courses. But State education is in
such dire straits that these are beginning to replace the systematic
education offered at schools, in their very essence.

The offer I described above isn't the only one out there. There are
others, such as "comprehensive refresher courses", at 10 CUC a month,
offered 3 days a week (1 and a half to 2 hour lessons), for secondary
school students, which include the completion of the "assignments"
required by teachers of a wide range of subjects.

The issue becomes particularly complex when we start dealing with
university admittance exams. Those who wish to purse different kinds of
university studies must take a Mathematics, Spanish and History exams.
Some private refresher courses charge some 300 Cuban pesos (13 CUC) for
lessons (offered 3 times a week) designed to prepare you for these exams
in full.

The core problem isn't (exclusively) that of prices, but the extent to
which State education has deteriorated. Following this year's History
university admittance exam, the Ministry of Higher Education had to
offer a public statement in the news, explaining that the contents of
the exam were to be found "in textbooks" and hadn't been prepared on the
basis of the whims of the examiners.

It seems many of those aspiring to enter university who failed those
exams had complained.

When those of us who graduated years ago saw the exam questions put on
screen, they struck as the most elementary queries about facts that, it
is logical to assume, "every Cuban ought to know" about the country's

Will private schools that offer an alternative to State institutions
emerge, reducing the latter to mere venues for "rituals of passage"
(examinations) for young people who wish to "go up the ladder" of their
personal education? That is the question.

Source: Are Private Secondary Schools Emerging in Cuba? - Havana - Continue reading
Cuba announces details of currency unification, plans
larger-denomination bills
Published October 01, 2014

HAVANA – Cuba's central bank chief is giving new details of the
elimination of a special currency, saying that the shift will require
putting more Cuban pesos into circulation and issuing
higher-denomination bills.

The elimination of the stronger currency is one of the toughest
challenges facing Cuba's struggling socialist economy, forcing officials
to eliminate a distorted double set of prices for many goods without
spawning inflation.

Most Cubans earn and buy goods in local pesos. The convertible peso used
largely in the tourism sector is also used by Cubans to buy many goods
long unavailable in local currency. The convertible peso is worth about
one U.S. dollar, or 24 local pesos. The highest-denomination local bill
is 100 pesos.

Central Bank president Ernesto Medina tells the state news agency
consumer prices won't change.

Source: Cuba announces details of currency unification, plans
larger-denomination bills | Fox News - Continue reading
Peter Foster: Risky business in Cuba
Peter Foster | September 30, 2014 6:45 PM ET
More from Peter Foster

After forty years of 'constructive engagement' with Cuba,
government-backed Canadian investment has effectively propped up the regime

The Canadian government has for three years asked the Cuban authorities
either to lay charges against Canadian businessman Cy Tokmakjian or
release him. Unfortunately they got their wish last week, when the
74-year old was tried and sentenced behind closed doors to fifteen years
in jail.

The conviction appears outrageous, as does the sentencing for shorter
periods of two of his executives, Claudio Vetere and Marco Puche. But
the affair raises many questions. Did Mr. Tokmakjian not realize he was
operating in a corrupt system that could turn on him at any time? Did he
see himself as an agent of change? Was he naïve? To what degree were his
Cuban operations financed by the Canadian government? Is such financing

Businessmen should be allowed to risk their capital wherever they want.
Investment in Cuba, as in China and Russia, is also often presented as a
subtle way of undermining repressive regimes, but it is clear now, after
forty years of "constructive engagement" that government-backed Canadian
investment has effectively propped up the regime.

The days have long gone when the Cuban regime can blame the U.S. embargo
for the endlessly dismal state of its economy, but the loosening of the
U.S. embargo has resulted in as little reform as has investment from
other countries.

Tokmakjian Group is a classic story of Canadian immigrant success.
Starting with servicing diesel engines, Mr. Tokmakjian, an Armenian
immigrant, moved into transit and shuttle bus services both in Canada
and abroad. In Cuba, where he set up shop more than 20 years ago, his
company distributed Hyundai vehicles and equipment, along with other
types of mining equipment.

Mr. Tokmakjian was swept up in a move against "corruption" when Raul
Castro took over from his ailing brother Fidel in 2011.

Earlier this year, another Canadian businessman, Sarkis Yacoubian, who
was arrested before Mr. Tokmakjian, was expelled from Cuba one year into
a nine year sentence. The circumstances are unclear but Mr. Yacoubian
reportedly "cooperated" with the Cuban authorities, and may not only
have played a part in fingering Mr. Tokmakjian, but in unleashing the
whole anti-corruption campaign.

We assume that there is lots of quiet diplomacy taking place on Mr.
Tokmakjian's behalf. According to government spokesman John Babcock, "We
continue to follow this case closely and remain actively engaged at
senior levels. Consular officials continue to provide assistance to Mr.
Tokmakjian and his family." Somewhat bland, but grandstanding can be
dangerous when one of your nationals is in jail under a barbaric regime.
That makes it all the more puzzling why Canada remains one of that
barbaric regime's major aid donors and trading partners.

Some still naively – or self-interestedly – claim that Canadians have an
"advantage" in Cuba because they are not American. That apparently
includes Marc Whittingham, the head of the Canadian Commercial Corp., a
shadowy Crown Corporation that specializes in state-to-state deals in
areas such as armaments, and which may have provided finance to
Tokmakjian Group. He reportedly told a Cuban audience that Canada had
also been invaded by the U.S., in 1812, and had responded by burning
down the White House. In other words, "We're all anti-American here."

The section on Cuba on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs,
Trade and Development is a masterpiece of pussyfooting. It notes that
"The Government of Cuba has acknowledged that its centralized political
structure poses a barrier to economic productivity." I guess
"centralized political structure" is more diplomatic than "corrupt

According to the document, "Cuba needs assistance in developing modern
business practices and increasing accountability and transparency of
public institutions." In fact, Havana has zero interest in increasing
accountability and transparency, and modern business practices require
the rule of law. The Tokmakjian Group's mission statement stresses
"respect, honesty and integrity," three virtues that could not be more
antithetical to a regime whose only priority is to maintain power.

It is almost sickening to read the Canadian government congratulate the
island Gulag for meeting targets on "universal primary education;
promoting gender equality and empowering women; and reducing child
mortality." Even worse is the declaration that "The country is on track
to meet the targets for eradicating extreme poverty and hunger" when it
is the Castro regime that has created extreme poverty and hunger in the
first place.

The most obvious explanation for arresting Mr. Tokmakjian was simply to
seize his business. Communist regimes have never needed lessons in
theft, but in this case Vladimir Putin's expropriation of Yukos might
have been a model, since "Putinismo" is seen in Cuba as a possible
transition from the disaster of Communism to crony statism. Clearly the
fact that an international arbitration court ordered Russia to pay
former Yukos shareholders $50 billion didn't deter Cuba. Nevertheless,
Tokmakjian Group has launched a $200 million lawsuit against the Cuban

Mr. Putin may have thoughts about reestablishing the links with Cuba
that were severed when the Soviet empire collapsed. Venezuela's Hugo
Chavez, for whom Fidel was a role model, eventually took up the slack of
subsidizing the Cuban economy with cheap oil, but Venezuela too is now a
basket case, so the return of Russia may be timely if the Castros are to
continue their geriatric chokehold.

None of this is good news for foreign investors, for whom Mr.
Tokmakjian's experience is a warning. Let's hope quiet diplomacy works
soon in his case, but let's also stop taxpayer backing for Cuban trade
and investment. And let's hope all those Canadian tourists who flock to
Cuba every year give a passing thought to what their dollars are supporting.

Source: Peter Foster: Risky business in Cuba | Financial Post - Continue reading
Entrevista con hermana del sindicalista Vladimir Morera Bacallao
[01-10-2014 10:58:04]
Angélica Mora
New York

( ICLEP: El sindicalista Vladimir Morera
Bacallao completó este lunes 105 días en huelga de hambre. Su estado es
grave dijo su hermana Vilma, en entrevista con el Instituto Cubano por
la Libertad de Expresión y Prensa, ICLEP.
Vladimir se mantiene vivo por el suero que se le aplica cada vez que se

El sindicalista Vladimir Morera Bacallao lleva 105 días en huelga de
hambre. Su hermana Vilma advirtió que el estado del ayunante es
sumamente grave y se mantiene vivo por el suero que se le aplica cada
vez que se descompensa.
Por su parte, Iván Hernández Carrillo, líder de la Confederación de
Trabajadores Independientes de Cuba (CTIC), indicó que los médicos que
atienden al sindicalista dijeron que "la situación es incompatible con
las prisiones", expresando de este modo que el paciente no puede ser
regresado a la celda.

Morera Bacallao fue trasladado hace un mes al Hospital Arnaldo Milián
Castro, de Santa Clara.

Morera Bacallao, condenado a ocho años de cárcel, está "bastante grave"
enfatizó su hermana, Vilma Morera Bacallao en conversación telefónica
con ICLEP.

Precisó que a su hermano los doctores lo mantienen estable, inyectándole
suero y glucosas cuandosu estado se agrava.

Indicó Vilma que :"La familia no está de acuerdo con su decisión de
proseguir con la huelga. Pero él quiere que le levanten su injusta
condena y probar así su inocencia".

Agregó: , "Hago un llamado internacional para lograr que Vladimiro salga
con vida y pueda probar lo injusto de su caso, como él quiere. También
quiero agradecer por este medio el apoyo que estamos recibiendo".

Vladimir Morera Bacallao fue condenado en octubre del año pasado a 8
años de cárcel bajo cargos de "desorden público, atentado, desacato y
daños". En el mismo juicio fue sentenciado a cuatro años de cárcel el
también sindicalista Jorge Ramírez Calderón.

Los hechos ocurrieron el 14 de febrero de 2013, cuando el régimen
movilizó turbas para un acto de repudio frente a la casa de Ramírez

Ambos sindicalistas fueron golpeados y detenidos. La esposa de Ramírez
Calderón, Nélida Lima Conde, también fue agredida y luego condenada a
tres años de libertad condicional.

Source: Entrevista con hermana del sindicalista Vladimir Morera Bacallao
- Misceláneas de Cuba - Continue reading
On Tuesday, the Obama administration  announced how many refugees will be allowed to enter the US from now until next September. The announcement included information about a  new program that's supposed Continue reading
U.S. must raise stakes to get hostage Alan Gross returned by Cuba
09/30/2014 3:00 PM 09/30/2014 7:09 PM

Confronted with the barbaric beheadings of journalists James Foley and
Steven Sotloff by the terrorists of the Islamic State, President Obama
has rightly changed course and announced a new strategy.

After six lackluster and bewildering years, the president would do well
to reappraise his strategy for dealing with Cuba and North Korea, as
well. Cuba is still holding hostage a USAID contractor. Alan Gross is
ill and has lost 100 pounds in harsh Cuban prisons.

Havana wants "to exchange" Gross for release of Cuban spies in U.S.
prisons who have been convicted of "conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals,
destruction of aircraft, and murder." They not only infiltrated Florida
military bases, but also set up the killing of four Miami men, members
of Brothers to the Rescue, who were flying unarmed civilian aircraft
over the Florida Straits to spot fleeing Cubans aboard rafts in need of

Raúl Castro, now president of Cuba but then head of its military forces,
personally gave the order to the pilots of the Cuban MiG aircraft that
shot down the small planes. Today, Castro's proposed deal to swap
"prisoners" pits the desire of Gross' loved ones to see him free and
home against Cuban-American families in Miami who sought and got justice
for their loved ones murdered in the Florida Straits.

Since his election President Obama has pursued a policy of extending a
"hand of friendship" to Cuba and to North Korea, an equally brutal
communist regime. Nothing's changed for the better in Cuba or North Korea.

As Bloomberg News reported a year ago, North Korea even announced its
military has been given "final authorization to attack the United
States, possibly with nuclear weapons." With U.S. troops still stationed
on the border between North and South Korea that's no idle threat.

Alan Gross committed no crime. He gave a laptop computer and satellite
telephone to a group of Cuban Jews wanting to connect to the Internet
and had boarded a plane to head home when he was taken hostage. For
weeks after he was "arrested," no charges were presented. Then a
kangaroo court imposed a 15-year prison sentence, of which he's served
four years.

The draconian sentence can be explained only as another Cuban attempt to
force U.S. leaders to comply. The Obama administration has bent over
backward pleading for Gross' release, to no avail.

In the past, Havana extorted ransom from the United States to free
Cubans captured during the Bay of Pigs invasion; our government had
trained and equipped the men. Havana subsequently engineered a series of
refugee crises.

President Clinton was maneuvered into re-interpreting American law to
intercept refugees on the high seas and return them to Cuba instead of
U.S. ports and freedom. To free the convicted Cuban spies, Havana once
offered to exchange 75 human-rights activists that were in its prisons.
The dissidents refused to leave Cuba, declaring they weren't spies but
patriots seeking political and economic changes in Cuba. A few years
later Castro, responding to international pressure, banished the
dissidents and their relatives to Spain with "no right of return."

Which brings us back to Gross: He is innocent. Freeing him requires
severing Cuba's extortionate link between him and release of the Cuban
spies. The Obama administration and Gross' advocates ought to join in
rejecting any "deal" likely to result in the taking of more American
hostages and loss of life.

Castro holds on to Gross because he perceives that it's a way of getting
what he wants from the United States. It's the same worldwide. And, just
last month, there were press reports of a "yet unidentified Cuban spy"
caught targeting an intelligence system being "sentenced to 13 years in

It won't be long before Havana — and other unfriendly countries — will
take another American hostage and start the barter anew.

Pursuing diplomatic channels and negotiating is civilized and useful.
There also comes a time when something more is needed. That time is now
in Cuba. Only when U.S. government raises the stakes — the political and
economic risks facing Cuba — will Alan Gross be allowed to come home,
and only then will Havana have to think twice before taking another hostage.


Source: U.S. must raise stakes to get hostage Alan Gross returned by
Cuba | The Miami Herald - Continue reading
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