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Exile

FAKE NEWS

This title is now a common phrase in our daily living. But in reality
had been around since many years back.

When I was living peacefully in my native Country (Cuba) Bohemia
Magazine, José Pardo Llada, Mario Kuchilán and others in the media were
expelling their lies to make the Cuban people to succumb to their
extermination by the Communists when they were embracing the lies
fabricated by future Dictator Fidel Castro Ruz.

When Fidel Castro Ruz ordered the hijacking of the Cubana de Aviación
airplane who left Florida to Cuba on November 1, 1958, where my cousin
Ruskin Medrano, the pilot of the aircraft, was assassinated by the
hijackers, they were putting out the fake news that the airplane was
trying to join the rebels of Fidel Castro Ruz in the Sierra Maestra.

During the years of the Communist Tyranny in Cuba newspapers like The
New York Times, The Times Picayune and The Houston Chronicle, among
others, have been poisoning the mind of the American people with "FAKE
NEWS". In February, 1948, Fidel Castro Ruz assassinated my cousin Manolo
Castro who was the Director of Sports in Cuba and a former President of
the Federation of Students at Havana University. The New York Times
presented to the world Fidel Castro Ruz as a new Robin Hood and as a
savior democratic leader.

When in November 22, 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald carried out the plan
organized by the Communist terrorists in Cuba and assassinated President
John F. Kennedy the American Communists carried out one of the most
biggest FAKE NEWS plans in order to exonerate Dictator Castro and
disseminated hundreds of false theories placing the blame on the
anti-Castro Cubans, President Lyndon Johnson, the CIA, the Pentagon,
anti-Communist Americans, and hundreds of stupid theories, all false, in
order to destroy the USA.

When Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated by a Muslim follower of Fidel
Castro Ruz the FAKE NEWS ignored the facts of Sirham Sirham attending a
pro-Castro meeting.

When a divorced Cuban mother died escaping from Castro's hell and her
son survived, the FAKE NEWS started a campaign to return the son to his
father in Cuba. Finally President Bill Clinton criminally returned the
son to Castro's reign of terror.

President Jimmy Carter became a good friend and collaborator of Dictator
Fidel Castro. The FAKE NEWS presented Jimmy Carter as a Christian.

President Barack Hussein Obama finally went to Cuba to pay respect to
the Dictator and the FAKE NEWS portrayed him as a wise USA President
solving the Cuban problem.

Fulgencio Batista was in power less than six years. The Communist
Dictatorship has been in power in Cuba for 58 years and the FAKE NEWS
don't tell you that in 1958 Cuba was one of the 3 tops Countries in
Latin America and that today is one of the 2 worse Countries in Latin
America disputing the last place with Haiti.

The FAKE NEWS don't tell you that in 58 years the Cuban People haven't
have a chance to vote in FREE elections. The FAKE NEWS don't tell you
that more than ONE MILLION Cubans have died in exile during those years.
The FAKE NEWS don't tell you about the thousands of Cubans assassinated
by the Communists.

I don't want more blood to be spilled in Cuba. Most of the assassins are
already dead. Many of the criminals are already living in the USA or
have died out of Cuba. The majority of the Cuban People was stupid
enough to support Fidel Castro Ruz at the time when Batista was forced
to leave Cuba by President Eisenhower.

It is time that the FAKE NEWS are stopped by the American Press that is
not Communist. We know that envy is a great human sin. The Communists
and the Muslims want to destroy the USA. For the sake of this Nation,
for the sake of our descendants we have to stand firm and when the press
fake the news we have to be brave enough to call them FAKE NEWS.

God bless the USA. God bless all the Americans who have died all over
the world fighting for freedom. And I pray to God to punish those who
stab us in the back printing FAKE NEWS.

March 24, 2017

Dr. Carlos J. Bringuier Continue reading
Mother and son of 2015 machete attack victim receive death threat from
Castro regime agent
"I am obliged to once again denounce the dictatorial regime of the
Castros, this time as a mother and human rights defender." - Sirley
Avila Leon, March 20, 2017

Las Tunas, Cuba: Yoerlis Peña Ávila on March 15, 2017 received a death
threat against him and his grandmother, Sirley Leon Aguilera, for being
family (son and mother respectively) of Sirley Avila Leon, who was the
victim of a May 24, 2015 machete attack carried out by a regime
collaborator that left her permanently disabled. The threat is in
response to her legal demand presented to recover 126,000 Cuban pesos
($4754) in damages resulting from the attack.

On March 15, 2017 he was able to send an e-mail to his mother that
described what had happened that same day: "I was working and a man that
I do not know told me that it was better that the legal demand not be
continued because you did not know the risk in which you were exposing
me and my grandmother that for you to suffer they could attack us."

Four days earlier on March 11, 2017 Sirley Avila Leon had contacted her
son, and again on March 13th on both occasions they discussed the legal
action being pursued, but then found it increasingly difficult to
communicate. It appears that the Castro regime does not want this legal
action to be pursued and is using intimidation to try to shut it down.

There is good reason to be concerned with this pattern of threats and
harassment. Over a three year period (2012 - 2015) regime agents made a
series of threats and took actions that culminated in the attempted
murder of Sirley Avila Leon on May 24, 2015. Another round of threats
and harassment when she returned to Cuba on September 7, 2016 following
medical treatment in Miami led to her decision to leave Cuba on October
28, 2016 and request asylum in the United States when death threats
against her person escalated and her attacker, Osmany Carriòn, was free
and bragging that he would finish the job he started.

Sirley Avila Leon is asking democratic representatives, human rights
organizations, and members of international organizations and all people
of goodwill to urge the Cuban government to investigate the threat made
against her son and mother.

Background information

Sirley Ávila León was a delegate to the Municipal Assembly of People's
Power in Cuba from June 2005, for the rural area of Limones until 2012
when the regime gerrymandered her district out of existence. The Castro
regime removed her from her position because she had fought to reopen a
school in her district, but been ignored by official channels and had
reached out to international media. Her son, Yoerlis Peña Ávila, who had
an 18 year distinguished career in the Cuban military was forced out
when he refused to declare his mother insane and have her committed to a
psychiatric facility.

Sirley joined the ranks of the democratic opposition and repression
against her increased dramatically. On May 24, 2015 she was the victim
of a brutal machete attack carried out by Osmany Carriòn, with the
complicit assistance of his wife, that led to the loss of her left hand,
right upper arm nearly severed, and knees slashed into leaving her
crippled. Following the attack she did not receive adequate medical care
and was told quietly by medical doctors in Cuba that if she wanted to
get better that she would need to leave the country.

On March 8, 2016 she arrived in Miami and began a course of treatments
over the next six months during which she was able to walk once again
although still limited due to her injuries. She returned to Cuba on
September 7, 2016 only to find her home occupied by strangers and her
attacker free and bragging that he would finish the job. She moved in
with her mother and within a short time a camera and microphone were set
up across from her mother's home on a post.

Threats against Sirley's life intensified leading her to flee Cuba to
the United States and request political asylum on October 28, 2016.
Below is a video in Spanish explaining the circumstances that led her to
leave Cuba.

Video:
https://youtu.be/RP9wl3gEvUk?list=PLrD9-3c-lTSXbdBn4Dck89fuk9HjOBTZk

Source: Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter: Mother and son of 2015
machete attack victim receive death threat from Castro regime agent -
http://cubanexilequarter.blogspot.be/2017/03/mother-and-son-of-2015-machete-attack.html Continue reading
Luis Felipe Rojas, 14 March 2017 — A poet writes to unpick puzzles, to sell and buy other questions.  The Cuban poet Magali Alabau came to Miami this Friday 10th March to give a reading from her book “Fatal Attraction” (Betania, 2016). She did it in La Esquina de las Palabras Lounge, which was founded and … Continue reading ""Fatal attraction" Magali Alabau’s Riddles / Luis Felipe Rojas" Continue reading
Cuban dissident leader to Trump: 'Treat Cuba like a dictatorship'
BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

Frustrated by what they see as "indolence" from the previous
administration, some Cuban government opponents are urging President
Donald Trump to backtrack current Cuba policy and speak out about
increased government repression on the island.

Antonio G. Rodiles and his partner Ailer González — both members of the
Forum for Rights and Freedoms — are calling on the new administration to
reset U.S.-Cuba relations and "recognize that they are dealing with a
dictatorship."

"The main thing would be for those of us who are legitimate actors on
the Cuban scene — inside and outside the island — to be part of the
policy design and part of that political process toward the island"
unlike what former President Barack Obama did, Rodiles said during a
recent meeting with el Nuevo Herald.

The couple also denounced an increase in repression since Obama
announced his policy of engagement and the restoration of diplomatic
ties with Cuba in December 2014. The situation, they said, has become
worse since the death of former leader Cuban Fidel Castro in November
with a "millimetric monitoring" of opponents' actions and harassment of
their families.

"It is important for the new administration to start taking action on
the issue and make some statement, because silence is being very well
used by the regime to try to crush the opposition," Rodiles said.

The Cuban government opponent criticized the "indolence" of the Obama
administration toward the human rights situation on the island.

"We have direct experience, including talking to President Obama, and
the direct experience was that there was a lot of indolence in what
happened with Cuba ... There was a moment when we understood that the
administration was not an ally [in the struggle for] for democratic
changes in Cuba, that they had a vision that Cuba was going to change in
the long term and that we would have to accept neo-Castroism," he said.

Although he was careful not to mention what measures taken by the
previous administration should be eliminated — such as sending
remittances or authorizing U.S. airline travel to the island, which are
popular in Cuba and within a large portion of the Cuban American
community — Rodiles said he supports returning to the previous longtime
policy of applying economic pressure against the Raúl Castro government,
a practice Obama has referred to as a "failed policy."

"If the regime is taking advantage of some of these measures, I'd cut
that economic income," Rodiles said. "Everything that is giving benefits
to the regime and not to the people must be reversed."

The frustration expressed by the activist couple has become increasingly
evident. A video published by the Forum for Rights and Liberties and in
which González exclaims, "Obama, you are finally leaving!" unleashed a
whirlwind of controversy within social media networks.

According to Rodiles, Obama asked dissidents and activists during a
meeting in Havana on March 22, 2016, to have patience with his policy of
rapprochement.

"I told him that you can't be patient when they are kicking citizens and
women with impunity," Rodiles said. The couple was among several
activists arrested during a widely reported act of repudiation against
dissidents on the same Sunday that Obama arrived in Havana for an
historic visit.

Rodiles and González dismissed criticism by those who question their
support for President Trump and claim their agenda is dictated by groups
within the Cuban exile community. They said their interest is in
readdressing Cuba issues not taking a position on U.S. domestic issues.

"Those same people who say that we are being radical and
confrontational, are extremely unsupportive. They do not report any
violation of human rights. These are hypocritical positions," González said.

As for other strategies being carried out by other opposition groups on
the island in an effort to incite change, the couple acknowledged that
there are many different ideologies and approaches, which they said was
a healthy element in the struggle for democracy.

"The most important thing," Rodiles said, "is that the regime has to
understand that 60 years is more than enough, and that it's over."

Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter: @ngameztorres

Source: Cuban dissident Antonio Rodiles calls on Trump to get tough on
Cuba | Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article139927853.html Continue reading
… worlds. Rafael Soriano, as a Cuban who fled his homeland for … mainly in Miami after leaving Cuba in 1962. His paintings - … one type of artist in Cuba, and another type in exile … . This anteroom duplicates an important Cuban exhibition of the two artists … Continue reading
… Sao Paulo and at the Havana Film Festival, focuses on three … the 1990s. During those years, Cuba was plunged into economic crisis … seeing the reaction of the Cuban exile community in Miami to … , thus providing a connection with Cuban exiles who started a new … Continue reading
Raúl Castro slams Trump – and I'm forced to agree with the dictator. How
sick is that?
BY FABIOLA SANTIAGO
fsantiago@miamiherald.com

Cuban dictator Raúl Castro has no moral authority to condemn any
democratically elected world leader.

Not when the most distinguishing trait of his and his late brother's
legacy is death, prison and exile for millions of his critics and
opponents. Not when, as if the Castros didn't already have enough blood
on their hands, there's another dissident who has died amid questionable
circumstances.

Hamell Santiago Mas Hernández, 45, walked into one of Cuba's most brutal
prisons as a healthy man after being arrested in June for a catch-all
offense dubbed desacato — disrespect — widely used as an excuse to pick
up dissidents. Eight months later, he died awaiting trial, supposedly of
a heart attack. He had developed a kidney infection and had lost 35
pounds in three weeks. His wife has denounced conditions at the
Combinado del Este prison, where not even the water is fit to drink. The
Castros have for decades refused to let independent monitors inspect
prisons where political prisoners are kept in inhumane conditions.

So I repeat: Cuban dictator Raúl Castro has no moral authority to
condemn any U.S. president.

But President Donald Trump is an easy target — and Castro is no fool.

He smells the weakness — and opportunity — handed to him on a silver
platter by Trump acting like the hemisphere's new bully on the block.

In a regional summit with leftist leaders in Caracas on Sunday, Castro
lashed out at Trump's immigration and trade policies, calling his plan
to build a wall along the Mexican border "irrational."

"The new agenda of the U.S. government threatens to unleash an extreme
and egotistical trade policy that will impact the competitiveness of our
foreign trade, violate environmental agreements to favor the profits of
transnational [companies], hunt down and deport migrants," Castro said.

And here I am, critic and exile, being forced to agree with the dictator
— a first.

How sick is that?

It's repulsive, but Trump rose to power on an agenda that puts this
country at odds with the rest of the Americas, including our allies. His
first 1 ½ months in office have been like nothing Americans have ever
seen, with Draconian executive orders being signed amid a growing
scandal about Russia's tampering with the U.S. election to benefit him,
and the lingering questions: How much did Trump know? Did he participate?

It's especially notable that Castro has chosen to break his silence on
Trump at a time when the Trump administration is in the middle of "a
full review" of President Obama's U.S.-Cuba policy — and before any
changes are announced. Castro's only comment after Trump took office was
cordial (and, as always, pompous) indicating Cuba's willingness to
"continue negotiating bilateral issues with the United States on a basis
of equality and respect of our country's sovereignty and independence."
Cuba's ambassador attended Trump's inauguration and tweeted from it. At
least two of Trump's White House advisors have been to Cuba and were
ecstatic about doing business there during the Obama years.

But Cuban Americans in Congress have been pressuring Trump to get tough
on Castro and return to the isolation polices of the late 1990s and
early 2000s. That didn't yield much change, and certainly no end to the
58-year-old dictatorship. But during Obama's tenure — and under
unrelenting internal pressure from dissidents, independent journalists,
and a population that simply can't stand the oppression anymore — Raúl
Castro began some reforms, even if the quashing of opponents seldom
relented.

It would be a regrettable turn of events if, at this critical juncture,
Trump's protective nationalist policies gave new combative fodder to
Castro — who has promised to finally leave his post in 2018 — or to
those waiting in the wings to take over Cuba.

I'll say it again: Raúl Castro — head of one of the longest-lasting
dictatorships in the world — is no one to talk.

Yet, here I am, to quote Blue Oyster Cult, giving the devil his due.

Fabiola Santiago: fsantiago@miamiherald.com, @fabiolasantiago

Source: Cuban dictator Raul Castro slams Trump's immigration and trade
policy | Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/fabiola-santiago/article137006518.html Continue reading
Cuban Double Agent Fears for His Life after Revealing His True Identity
/ Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 27 February 2017 — Luis Enrique Cepero García was an
opponent of the Cuban regime serving a sentence in the Combinado del
Este prison when he decided to infect himself with a disease rather than
continue being subjected to mistreatment in prison.

Given his state of health, Luis Enrique was transferred and imprisoned
at the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine (IPK) in Havana where,
on orders from a doctor, his life ended abruptly one day in 1995.

"I remember that before he died in the IPK, my brother Luis Enrique told
me that a doctor told another doctor he would not be there the next day.
My brother began to have some tremors. Then in the afternoon a nurse
came into the room and began putting cotton in his nose, mouth and anus.
My brother died and I was left with that image in my head.

"Then I did something I should never have done. To take revenge I joined
the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) and pretended to
be a revolutionary in order to get inside State Security and take my
revenge for the death of my brother," says William Cepero García, who
today is a former spy living on Santa Maria del Rosario Road, kilometer
4.5, Cubicle #106, Cambúte, San Miguel del Padrón, a district located in
the east of the Cuban capital.

When Luis Enrique died, William was living in Old Havana, buying and
selling antiques. He started pretending to be a revolutionary. He says
that, with his money and growing popularity, it was not difficult to
attract the attention of the Cuban secret services.

"I started at the CDR… Well, you know how that works. In 2005 I was
approached by officers from DTI (Technical Investigations Department)
who wanted to recruit me. But I told them that, if I was going to do
something for the Revolution, it had to be something big. It was then
that I met an officer by the name of Yosbani, a young man from a
Domestic Counterintelligence unit in Old Havana. He was the one who
recruited me."

I met the spy

"It's all a surprise to me," says Luz María Piloto Romero, a Cuban
dissident who now lives in exile in Miami. "I met William Cepero García
because he was living in Old Havana around the corner from my house. His
brother, the one who died from HIV, was a good friend of mine. I always
saw William at non-violent opposition events in support of human rights."

Cepero García says that, after several exams and countless meetings at
the Municipal Identity Card Directorate's offices, he was instructed to
collect information on people in the area who sympathized with opponents
of the government.

"At first I was very frightened," he admits. "I realized that the people
I knew were innocent but, after a few months working as a spy, I
determined that the information I was giving to my official contacts had
already been given to them by other agents I did not know."

Cepero García remembers being sent in 2005 to Cambute in San Miguel del
Padrón, where there as an active opposition movement. He says that there
he was part of a group under the direction of the local Domestic
Counterintelligence office. He began trying to penetrate the Cuban Human
Rights Foundation, an opposition organization then headed by Juan
Antonio Bermúdez Toranza.

"I very cautiously tried to warn Juan. I didn't know whether or not he
was also a State Security agent and did not want to get burned.
Everything here has been infiltrated," he says.

But Bermúdez Toranza, who currently lives in exile in Spain, says,
"William came out from the shadows. It was Juan Carlos who introduced
him to me."

He is referring to Juan Carlos González Leiva, a blind attorney,
activist and founder of the Independent Blind Fraternity of Cuba and the
Cuban Human Rights Foundation.

"William approached me offering to help. He was interested in my needs,"
adds Bermúdez Toranza. "His help was economic. He was a guy who moved
money around, dealing in antiques, jewelry and those sorts of things.
But he was asking a lot of questions; he wanted to know everything. He
never disagreed with any of my decisions and it isn't normal to agree
with everything. I never trusted him. I always compartmentalized with
him because I suspected he was working for State Security."

Two years later Bermúdez Toranzo was arrested and charged with
counter-revolutionary activities. William left the area but returned in
2009 with a new mission. "Juan (Bermúdez Toranzo) was in jail and his
then wife, Neris Castillo, was one of the Ladies in White, and my new
mission was to insert myself in her life, get information on the Ladies
in White, blackmail her and sleep with her… You know how these things
go," he says.

A female spy's testimony

"He told me he had come to carry out a task but he didn't have the
courage for it. He told me about his brother. I saw him trying to help
young men who had decided to set out to sea and other people I can't
remember right now. That's why I took him to what was then the US
Interests Section in Cuba, to the human rights office, so he could
provide information and decide whether to switch from one side to the
other," explains the former Lady in White, Neris Castillo Moreno, who is
now Cepero García's partner.

"He helped a lot of people. When my brother was taken prisoner, William
helped him. After being in a jail myself for a week, there was nothing
to eat at my house and he said to me, 'Let's go, Luz. I'll fix you a
sweet roll.' And he did. I hope that all the people he once helped might
now help him. Actually, I was surprised by the news," says Luz María, a
Cuban dissident who now lives in exile in Miami and says she knows
Cepero Garcia.

According to Cepero García, his work as a double agent earned him enough
credit with the regime's intelligence agencies that they ended up giving
him the mission to become the leader of the Republican Party of Cuba and
later the secretary general of the November 30th Frank País Democratic
Party after the death of the previous office holder.

However, after receiving a new mission from officials at Cuban State
Security, which Cepero García had allegedly infiltrated years earlier,
the self-described "double agent" decided to reveal his true identity
and expose himself to the risks inherent in such a decision.

"I fear for my life but I am aware of what I have done. I have to face
whatever comes." And here his story ends.

Meanwhile, the exiled Cuban dissident living in Spain, who is familar
with the spy's performance in San Miguel del Padrón, insists that Cepero
García's true intention in making this revelation is to leave Cuba.

"What William wants is a visa to the United States. I know he is a spy
and that he has regrets and that he helped people. But, look, if William
is saying that, he is not doing it because he is in charge or because he
wants to say it. He is saying it because someone is ordering him to do
so. And I assure you it is someone in Section XXI (of G2, the
Intelligence Directorate)," concludes Juan Antonio Bermúdez Toranzo
categorically.

Source: Cuban Double Agent Fears for His Life after Revealing His True
Identity / Juan Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuban-double-agent-fears-for-his-life-after-revealing-his-true-identity-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
Juan Juan Almeida, 27 February 2017 — Luis Enrique Cepero García was an opponent of the Cuban regime serving a sentence in the Combinado del Este prison when he decided to infect himself with a disease rather than continue being subjected to mistreatment in prison. Given his state of health, Luis Enrique was transferred and imprisoned … Continue reading "Cuban Double Agent Fears for His Life after Revealing His True Identity / Juan Juan Almeida" Continue reading
Alina Fernández, daughter of late Cuban leader Fidel Castro, will make an appearance in the Keys next week for a book presentation on her life. Fernández, who fled the island … Click to Continue » Continue reading
14ymedio, Regina Coyula, Havana, 27 February 2017 — From the beginning you feel that something is missing, you shift awkwardly in the seat in the small room at The Enchanted Deer, although you want to seem calm. After a long version of Amazing Grace, you will be detached enough to take in what follows. The … Continue reading "The Cuban Exile in Havana / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula" Continue reading
Brothers To The Rescue: A Crime That Hurts "Like The First Day"/
14ymedio, Mario Penton

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 24 February 2017 – Members of the Cuban
exile remembered the anniversary of the death of four Cuban Americans
after the shooting down of two planes of the humanitarian NGO Brothers
to the Rescue by the Cuban Air Force in 1996.

The commemorative activities began with an act of homage to Manuel de la
Peña, Carlos Acosta, Armando Alejandre and Pablo Morales, at the
monument in Opa-locka that reminds them of the 21st anniversary of the
tragedy.

"Every year when we remember them, we feel immense pain," says Ana
Ciereszko, sister of Armando Alejandre, one of those murdered.

"When President Obama returned the spy responsible for the murder of our
relatives it was very hard because they gave their lives to save the
lives of others, Cuban rafters, many of whom have disappeared at sea,"
she added.

Cuban-American Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also recalled those
killed and lashed out at the Obama administration for the release of spy
Gerardo Hernandez, convicted of providing information to the Cuban
government that allowed the perpetration of the crime.

"Our nation must defend these murdered Americans and ensure that justice
prevails so that the families of these victims can have the final peace
they so deeply deserve," said the congresswoman.

Brothers to the Rescue emerged as an initiative of civilian aviators of
various nationalities and Cubans interested in assisting the rafters who
escaped from the island in fragile vessels during the migratory crisis
in the early 1990s. The collapse of the Soviet Union caused the greatest
economic crisis in the country's history and thousands of migrants threw
themselves into the sea in the hope of reaching the United States.

The two Cessna 337 Skymaster aircraft, from Miami, were shot down with
air-to-air missiles by a MiG-29UB 900 fighter and a MiG-23 fighter. A
third plane escaped and called for help from the US authorities, who
never gave it to them.

The Cuban government accused the organization of having "terrorist
purposes" and defended the demolition of light aircraft on the grounds
that they were over Cuban waters. Brothers to the Rescue, however, says
that the shooting down took place in international waters.

"There has been no justice because there was no clarification of the
truth. The facts were carefully hidden under the presidencies of Clinton
and Castro," says Jose Basulto, 76, president of Brothers to the Rescue
and one of the survivors of the tragedy.

"It was a joint action, complicit, because they wanted to resume
relations between both countries," he says. He adds that on the Island
there practice runs for shooting down the planes and that it was
suggested to American officials what was going to happen. "We were
exposed to the enemy fire and nobody helped us," he adds.

According to Basulto, the days before each commemoration of the
demolition are filled with memories and are "very sad."

"Brothers to the Rescue was an example of human solidarity with the
people of Cuba and to teach the world the harshness of the suffering of
the people, capable of committing suicide at sea in order to escape from
that dictatorship," he recalls.

At Florida International University (FIU) a commemorative event was held
with relatives of the victims and a broad representation of the
exile. The meeting has become a tradition to remember the four
Cuban-American youth and, as every year, silence was held between 3:21
pm and 3:28 pm, the time at which the planes were shot down.

"My brother was my first baby. He was just a boy when he was killed,"
says Mirtha Costa, sister of Carlos Alberto Costa.

"He loved being together with everyone in the family. He was also a very
cheerful person and always looked for how to make jokes to others," he
recalls.

Both Costa and the other relatives are responsible for the CAMP
Foundation, named after the initials of each of the victims of the
shooting down.

The foundation supports diverse organizations that promote youth
education, such as Miami Dade College and the University of Miami.

The families of the victims will honor their memory with a Eucharist at
St. Agatha Church at 7:00 pm this Friday.

Video:
https://youtu.be/j8bD4F_J7W8

Source: Brothers To The Rescue: A Crime That Hurts "Like The First Day"/
14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/brothers-to-the-rescue-a-crime-that-hurts-like-the-first-day-14ymedio-mario-penton/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 24 February 2017 – Members of the Cuban exile remembered the anniversary of the death of four Cuban Americans after the shooting down of two planes of the humanitarian NGO Brothers to the Rescue by the Cuban Air Force in 1996. The commemorative activities began with an act of homage to … Continue reading "Brothers To The Rescue: A Crime That Hurts “Like The First Day”/ 14ymedio, Mario Penton" Continue reading
A group of exile organizations and volunteers are trying to help hundreds of Cubans who are stranded in Mexico following the end of the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy … Click to Continue » Continue reading
How does Cuba manage to achieve first-world health statistics?
The island's medical system is envied throughout the region and is a
major foreign revenue earner
Havana 10 FEB 2017 - 16:08 CET

Cuba's healthcare system is a source of pride for its communist
government. The country has well-trained, capable doctors, the sector
has become an important export earner and gives Cuba valuable soft power
– yet the real picture is less rosy. A lot of health infrastructure is
deteriorating and there is a de facto two-tier system that favors those
with money.

Cuba's child mortality rate is on par with some of the world's richest
countries. With six deaths for every 1,000 births, according to World
Bank data from 2015, Cuba is level with New Zealand. In 2015, the global
average was 42.5 deaths for every 1,000 births. Despite more than half a
century of a US economic embargo, Cuba's average life expectancy matches
that in the US: 79.1 years, just a few months shorter than Americans
who, on average, live to 79.3 years, according to 2015 data from the
World Health Organization (WHO).

Much of Cuba's success in these areas is due to its primary healthcare
system, which is one of the most proactive in the world. Cuba's
population of 11.27 million has 452 out-patient clinics and the
government gives priority to disease prevention, universal coverage and
access to treatment.

Cuba has also produced innovations in medical research. In 1985 the
country pioneered the first and only vaccine against meningitis B. The
country's scientists developed new treatments for hepatitis B, diabetic
foot, vitiligo and psoriasis. They also developed a lung cancer vaccine
that is currently being tested in the United States. Cuba was also the
first country on earth to eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis
from mother to child, a feat recognized by the WHO in 2015.

In 2015, Cuba spent 10.57% of its GDP on health, slightly higher than
the global average. According to the World Bank in 2014, the European
average spending GDP spending was 10%, compared to 17.1% in the United
States.

Two-tier system
A lesser-known characteristic of Cuba's healthcare system is the
existence of special clinics, reserved for tourists, politicians and
VIPs. The state reserves the best hospitals and doctors for the national
elite and foreigners, while ordinary Cubans sometimes must turn to the
black market or ask expatriate friends or family to send medicine.

"Cuba's health service is divided in two: one for Cubans and the other
for foreigners, who receive better quality care, while the national
population has to be satisfied with dilapidated facilities and a lack of
medicines and specialists, who are sent abroad to make money for Cuba,"
says Dr. Julio César Alfonzo, a Cuban exile in Miami and director of the
NGO Solidaridad Sin Fronteras.

In 1959, the country had only 6,000 doctors, half of whom emigrated
after the Cuban revolution. By 2014, Cuba had 67.2 doctors for every
10,000 inhabitants, with only Qatar and Monaco ahead of it.

However, despite these impressive statistics, the quality of primary
healthcare, which has been fundamental to Cuba's success, has been
declining in recent years. Between 2009 and 2014 there was a 62% fall in
the number of family doctors, from 34,261 to 12,842, according to Cuba's
National Statistics Office (ONEI).

An army of white coats
In the words of Fidel Castro, Cuba's "army of white coats" was formed in
1960, when a medical brigade was sent to Chile after an earthquake left
thousands dead. Since then, Cuba has sent more than 300,000 healthcare
workers to 158 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, according to
Cuba's state news agency. Today, around 50,000 Cuban medical workers are
present in 67 countries.

"Cuban doctors are rooted in solidarity and in the Hippocratic Oath. Our
job would be unthinkable without foreign missions," says Salvador Silva,
a doctor specializing in infectious diseases who has worked in Haiti and
Liberia.

"Yes, our salary is low and maybe that pushes us to go abroad, but it
also makes us proud when we see our work recognized throughout the
world, on top of just helping in our own country," he adds.

Doctors are arguably Cuba's most profitable resource and the country's
medical missions have proved to be a lucrative diplomatic tool. The
healthcare industry is also one of the country's main sources of income.
In 2014, Cuban authorities estimated overseas healthcare services would
bring in $8.2 billion, putting it ahead of tourism.

Cuba has a different deal with each country it works with. For example,
in exchange for sending 3,500 health care workers to work in and provide
training in Venezuela, a close Cuban ally, Venezuela sends oil.

With such a high demand for personnel, some suspect that the Cuban
government has been reducing educational requirements to hasten
students' entry into the work force.

"They are giving doctors licenses in record time to meet the need to
export them, and this has been detrimental to the quality of training
and medicine, which used to be the best. This has been happening since
they started the program in Venezuela, between 2003 and 2004," says Dr
Alfonzo.

Doctors are also eager to be sent abroad, not only to help the less
fortunate, but also for money. Salaries are higher – depending on the
location, with doctors abroad reportedly making up to $1,000 per month
(minus taxes), whereas those in Cuba make around $50. On the island, it
isn't rare to find taxi drivers, shopkeepers or construction workers
with medical degrees.

Juan drives a 1950s Chevrolet he bought with his brother and he uses it
as a taxi from 6pm to midnight. He's also a doctor in the clinic
Hermanos Ameijeiras.

"The wage is a pittance. We find ourselves obligated to make a living
doing other things. I have coworkers who sell prescriptions to
pharmacies, who work in unlicensed clinics or help their families in
shops. It's frustrating," he says. "It's like they're pushing us to
enlist in international missions, the business of Cuba."

The country's medical missions abroad have been an important escape
route for Cubans looking to defect. Before migratory reforms were passed
in January 2013 allowing Cubans with passports and visas to travel
abroad, the preferred way to abandon Cuba was via Venezuela. In 2013 and
2014, more than 3,000 doctors deserted the island to go to the United
States through a special visa program called Cuban Medical Professional
Parole, a program started by George W. Bush to help healthcare workers
who had escaped while working abroad.

Lucia Newman, a former CNN correspondent in Habana, said Cuban doctors
complain that travel restrictions prevent them from attending
conferences or keeping abreast of the latest medical advances. The US
trade embargo on Cuba includes some textbooks, but the major problem is
that Cuban doctors cannot buy medical equipment from the United States
or from any US subsidiaries.

For Odalys, a young patient waiting at the Hospital Salvador Allende,
"the situation is becoming unsustainable in this country and it's not
because of a lack of specialists, it's because we have to bring
everything ourselves. I just bought a light bulb for the hospital room.
I've called home so that they can bring me bedding, towels and even
toilet paper. There aren't even stretchers, I saw a family carrying
their sick son into a room. Free and universal health care, yes, but
it's a bit of a mess and very informal," she says.

English version: Alyssa McMurtry.

Source: Cuba's healthcare system: How does Cuba manage to achieve
first-world health statistics? | In English | EL PAÍS -
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Former Political Prisoner Arturo Pérez De Alejo Dies / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Miami, 25 January 2017 — The former political prisoner Arturo
Perez de Alejo, who was part of the Group of 75, died Wednesday in Miami
at 66, as reported by MartíNoticias .

Pérez Alejo was born in Manicaragua, in the then province of Las Villas,
on 23 May 1951 to a peasant family.

During the nineties, in the middle of the Special Period, he began his
dissident activity. He participated actively in the Democratic Action
Movement, the Nationalist Action Party and the Independent Democratic Front.

In addition, he founded the Escambray Independent Organization For The
Defense Of Human Rights, of which he held the presidency, and he was
noted for his dissemination of the Varela Project, a civic initiative
promoted by the late Oswaldo Payá to demand more liberties in the island.

In 2003 he was imprisoned in the 2003 repressive wave known as the Black
Spring. He was imprisoned for five years, and the conditions of his
imprisonment greatly undermined his health.

During his imprisonment he was recognized as a prisoner of conscience by
Amnesty International. In June 2010, through the efforts of the Catholic
Church, he was released and exiled to Spain.

He later moved to Miami, where he resided until his death. He spent his
last years closely linked to the work of organizations of the Cuban exile.

Source: Former Political Prisoner Arturo Pérez De Alejo Dies / 14ymedio
– Translating Cuba -
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… to condemn the Cuban government and secure the Cuban-American vote. It… beyond, Little Havana has remained the heart of Cuba in exile, where … Healthy Little Havana and PlusUrbia Design. "Little Havana is a symbol … Little Havana," said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. "Little Havana has … Continue reading
14ymedio, Miami, 25 January 2017 — The former political prisoner Arturo Perez de Alejo, who was part of the Group of 75, died Wednesday in Miami at 66, as reported by MartíNoticias . Pérez Alejo was born in Manicaragua, in the then province of Las Villas, on 23 May 1951 to a peasant family. During the nineties, … Continue reading "Former Political Prisoner Arturo Pérez De Alejo Dies / 14ymedio" Continue reading
The Punk Who Didn't Cry For Fidel / 14ymedio, Pablo De LLano

14ymedio, Pablo de Llano, Miami, 22 January 2017 — Minutes after the
announcement of the death of Fidel Castro, last November 25, Danilo
Maldonado Machado passed by his mother's house and knocked on the window
of her room. Maria Victoria Machado opened and her son asked: "Mom, are
you afraid?" She, who had heard the news, told him no: "You know this is
my bedtime." He continued: "Well, I'm going to warm up the track." Mrs.
Machado assumed that her son was going to paint some anti-Castro slogan
in a city, Havana, that that night had been mute, silent, empty. Free
for the cats and for the crazies.

"Have you ever asked him not to expose himself so much?"

"No," said the mother from Havana. "I admire my son."

El Sexto, the artistic alias of Maldonado, left and reappeared a while
later at the side of the Habana Libre Hotel. With a mobile phone, he
broadcast live on Faceboo, speaking directly to the screen and mocking
Fidel and Raul Castro, recalling dead regime opponents, moving through
the desolate streets: "Nobody it outside," he said. "Rare," he
scoffed. "Nobody wants to talk. But how long will you not want to talk,
gentlemen?"

He wore a white Panama hat. Sunglasses hanging from his shirt. Under the
right eyelid, tattooed barbed wire. Headphones around his neck. He was
an eccentric putting on a comedian-politician show in an empty but
guarded theater. The most risky sitcom of the year in Havana. Then he
asked some squire, "Papi, where's my can?"

El Sexto took out a spray can and on a side wall of the Habana Libre,
the former Havana Hilton and the hotel where the father of the Cuban
revolution had immediately taken possession of to set up his first
headquarters after conquering the capital, he scrawled: "He left."

Live. His face in the picture. Risk level one hundred.

He enjoyed it. He looked at the camera and said, "I see panic in their
faces." Six feet five-and-a-half inches tall, thin, bearded, exultant. A
Don Quixote crossing the line.

Hours later, according to the reconstruction of his mother, he was
forcibly removed from his apartment by a group of police and locked up
in the maximum security prison Combinado del Este, outside Havana,
accused of damage to state property. Only this Saturday, two months
later, was he released.

"They gave me my identity card and said I would have no problem
traveling outside the country," the artist told 14ymedio a few hours
after he was released without charges. "I am in good health and I am
very grateful for the solidarity of all those who were aware of my
situation."

During the time he was imprisoned, Amnesty International declared him
a prisoner of conscience. A campaign on Change.org collected about
14,000 signatures for his release. Kimberley Motley, an African American
lawyer specializing in human rights, traveled to Cuba in December to try
to visit him in prison, but was detained and returned to the United
States. The vice-president of the German Parliament, the Social Democrat
Ulla Schmidt, declared herself his "political godmother."

This was his second time in prison. In 2015 he spent 10 months locked up
for planning a performance art piece with two pigs painted with the
names of Fidel and Raul. In his 33 years El Sexto has become a heterodox
figure of dissent. More a provocateur than an activist, he is
essentially a natural punk, a creative thug who in another country would
only have paid a fine for painting a wall, but to whom 21st century Cuba
dedicates the punitive treatment it considers appropriate to a threat to
the security of the State.

When they released him in 2015, after a hunger strike, El Sexto traveled
through different countries and explained in a talk that in the
beginning he defined his political stance as that of an artist in
response to the official propaganda so abundant on the island: "If they
have the right to violate my visual space, I also have the right to
violate their visual space," he maintained.

Years earlier Cuban government proclamations were calling for the return
of five Cubans imprisoned in the United States for espionage. They were
called The Five Heroes. It was then that Maldonado adopted his nickname
"El Sexto" – the Sixth – and emerged as a graffit artist.

"Danilo says that art has to be brave and try to impact people,"
explains his girlfriend, Alexandra Martinez, a Cuban-American journalist
he met in Miami. She says that El Sexto is a fan of Estopa, a Spanish
rock/rumba duo, and Joan Manuel Serrat, a Spanish singer-songwriter. She
tells how impressed he was when he went to New York and visited the
studio of artist Julian Schnabel, director of Before Night Falls, the
film about Reinaldo Arenas, a Cuban poet who died of AIDS in exile, and
also the director of Basquiat, about the artist who began is career
using the tag SAMO (for Same Old), on his graffiti in the streets of
Manhattan.

Mrs. Machado says that in the case file the cost of erasing her child's
graffiti at Havana Libre was recorded as 27 Cuban pesos

Martinez likes a drawing he has done in his current prison stay,
titled Cemetery of living men. It's a three-level bunk with a man in the
bottom, the middle bunk empty and a cockroach in the upper
bunk. "Someone," his mother says, has been sneaking out of prison the
pages he painted and publishing them on his Facebook page. They have a
surreal style.

He also writes. He talks about his nightmares – zoomorphic guards who
mistreat him; he takes notes of the language of the prisoners –
"fucking: synonymous with food"; and directs messages to his audience –
"I still have not received news of my case," "I draw little because of
my allergy, the excessive dampness and the lack of light, " "the boss of
my unit beat me," "only the cosmic knows the true purpose of this ordeal."

Mrs. Machado says that in the case file the cost of erasing her child's
graffiti at Havana Libre was recorded as 27 Cuban pesos, the equivalent
of one dollar and one cent US. "But they do not forgive what he
painted," she says. Maldonado has written from prison: "Imagine how many
people laugh about me. I'm already famous in jails and prisons." Fidel
Castro left. The bars remain.

_______

Editor's note: This text is reproduced here with the permission of El
País, which published it today.

Source: The Punk Who Didn't Cry For Fidel / 14ymedio, Pablo De LLano –
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… been living in exile in Cuba for three decades after escaping … guards hostage. She fled to Cuba, where she was given political … ;s normalizing of relations with Cuba, decides how to engage with … defenders and democracy activists in Cuba, empower civil society, defend freedom … Continue reading
14ymedio, Pablo de Llano, Miami, 22 January 2017 — Minutes after the announcement of the death of Fidel Castro, last November 25, Danilo Maldonado Machado passed by his mother’s house and knocked on the window of her room. Maria Victoria Machado opened and her son asked: “Mom, are you afraid?” She, who had heard the news, told … Continue reading "The Punk Who Didn’t Cry For Fidel / 14ymedio, Pablo De LLano" Continue reading
Cuban immigrants facing humanitarian crisis near U.S. border, Tampa
helping out
Non-profit sending non-monetary donations to help
Isabel Rosales
3:28 PM, Jan 22, 2017

TAMPA, -
A pair of wrinkled hands are proof of a long fight in escaping a regime.

"11 years in an inferno. In hell," said Oscar Rodriguez, a Cuban exile.

For 11 years in 1960s he attempted to leave Cuba. That's why as
president of non-profit Casa Cuba. He started an initiative to send
donations to the border. From clothing, to toiletries to non-perishables.

"I think they are in worse conditions because they are like in a limbo,"
said Lydia Gonzalez, who also escaped the communist regime.

Right now around 150 Cubans are stuck there. Their trip to the U.S. cut
short. To pay for the months-long journey most sold their homes and
every belonging.

"I feel so bad," said Gonzalez. "I feel so bad."

Despite feeling bad she said she's supportive of ending the wet foot,
dry foot policy.

"It's not a free country like come and come and come. No, you need to
have your law," Gonzalez said.

The policy has long angered a number of politicians who say some Cuban
immigrants abused the law by getting American residency not for
political escape but for economic betterment.

"We don't care about the Republicans or Democrats in this situation. We
just care about the people," said Rodriguez.

He insists he's staying neutral in this debate, but is speaking out for
the community's help.

"They are over there without hope, so we have to give a little bit to
them," Rodriguez said.

Casa Cuba reopens Saturday, Jan. 21, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 2506 W.
Curtis St. in Tampa.

Source: Cuban immigrants facing humanitarian crisis near U.S. border,
Tampa helping out - Story | abcactionnews.com | Tampa Bay News, Weather,
Sports, Things To Do | WFTS-TV -
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And Now What? / Somos+, Jose Presol

Somos+, Jose Presol, 18 January 2017 — We expected it for a long time
and it happened, but when we weren't in the line for the ration book. I
am referring to the end of the "wet foot, dry foot" policy. We all knew
that it would end, but what we least imagined was that it would be now
and done by the current president, Barack Obama.

It had to be sooner or later. The American people are leaning toward a
policy of protectionism and focusing on their own problems and stumbles,
and there are many Cubans in exile who affirm, "I am not politically
persecuted, I came to resolve my economic problems."

At the same time, there are constant complaints that old and current
repressors and collaborators with the Cuban political regime are also in
the United States, and whether or not they are still collaborating with
the tyranny is not clear. This had to come.

Obama, who not so long ago seemed wonderful to so many people, now has
thousands of defects. No friends, his message was clear, "Cuba's
problems must be solved by Cubans." One more thing we have heard and
interpreted according to our own convenience.

That was a way of saying, among other things: Gentlemen, the American
taxpayers have no obligation to indefinitely finance the immigration of
citizens of other nationalities, especially when we are not sure of
their ideology and when these funds are needed, for example, to improve
the conditions of our own veterans.

Few governments in the world are not aware that these resources are not
unlimited and that this problem is not solved by "minting money."

The fault belongs to us, Cubans. We all know, we are not fools, that the
problem is not that there is no food, the problem is those who have made
it so that there is no food. We have found it more convenient to confuse
the symptoms with the disease. We have found it more convenient to deny
reality. We have found it more convenient to say, with clenched teeth
"over there," that it is an economic problem.

But yes, it is an economic problem, but please, haven't we been under a
constant bombardment of Marxist doctrine for 58 years? Have we not
listened to a single word? Hey guys, they say it themselves, "The
economic problems are political problems."

I am not a fortune-teller and I don't know what the evolution of the
problem in Cuba will be, but I am sure that there have already been two
things: 1) a bucket of cold water for those who hoped to "escape" the
situation, and 2) the disappearance of the escape valve from the current
situation in Cuba, which does not please the regime, despite their
saying otherwise.

As I said, I do not know how the subject will evolve, but I have hope
that it will end up radicalizing the postures inside Cuba and clarifying
them outside Cuba, and vice versa.

I hope that we Cubans, once and for all, will face our problem, trying
to provoke quantitative changes (so they will understand me, I use
Marxist terms) that, in accumulation, end up producing qualitative changes.

And those quantitative and qualitative changes begin with ourselves.

First, we have to think about who our real rival is and face it, without
palliatives; finding all the cracks in the system and enlarging them,
analyzing their contradictions and denouncing them.

Second, recognize that the problem of Cuba belongs to Cubans, all of us
without exception, and that Cubans must solve it, and forget about
remedies, collective or individual, that come from outside.

Third, we need to focus on programs and lines of action to conquer our
rival; focus on weakening everything that benefits it; focus on
highlighting the weaknesses and errors of the system.

Fourth, these programs and lines of action should focus on Cuba's real
needs. We must not return to situations that we often yearn for and fail
to recognize that they were the reasons for what we have now. We must
build a New Republic, with the ideals of freedom and democracy from our
early founders.

Fifth, around these programs and lines of action, we have to create the
necessary unity (and, why not, organization) to gather forces instead of
dispersing them, not looking for some leader to solve it for us.

Sixth, these programs and lines of action must be peaceful, we are
children of a nation that has not known peace and tranquility since
October 10, 1868, it is high time that we also address that.

Seventh: Cubans, think. You are the children of the people who fought
for 30 years for independence, who suffered 4 years of American
occupation, people who have had 57 years of a false republic and more
occupations (material or mediated) and another 58 of tyranny. We have
fallen many times and many times we have risen, even mistaking and
getting it wrong again. So get up at once and contribute with your
effort and imagination. This is your opportunity. Do not let it pass.

Translated by Jim

Source: And Now What? / Somos+, Jose Presol – Translating Cuba -
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Artist jailed in Cuba since November for anti-Fidel Castro graffiti may
be released Jan. 28
By Elizabeth Llorente Published January 18, 2017 FoxNews.com

A prominent graffiti artist in Cuba who was jailed the day after Fidel
Castro died for actions that appeared to celebrate the late Cuban
leader's passing, reportedly will be released on Jan. 28, his girlfriend
told FoxNews.com

Danilo Maldonado, known as "El Sexto," has been transported to various
jails since his arrest on Nov. 26. The 33-year-old dissident has not
been charged with any crimes, those close to him say. He is being held
in a maximum-security jail on the outskirts of Havana, according to
Amnesty International, which has been monitoring Maldonado's
imprisonment and on Tuesday demanded his release.

His girlfriend, Alexandra Martinez, who lives in Miami, said she is
hopeful but leery about news that Maldonado will be released. Martinez
said Maldonado told her in a telephone call on Tuesday night that Cuban
authorities told him they were freeing him on Jan. 28.

"We don't know if this is just more psychological torture," she said.
"Last week, he called me screaming that they told him they were going to
execute him. So it was shocking to hear yesterday that they are
releasing him."

Cuban authorities have accused Maldonado of damaging state property,
though no formal charges have been pressed, according to those close to
him as well as Cuban exile groups and international human rights
organizations that have been tracking his situation.

Cuba-based news media reported that Maldonado had created graffiti on a
wall in Havana that read: "He's gone," which was seen as a disrespectful
act by Cuban authorities.

"He is a prisoner of conscience who must be released immediately and
unconditionally," said Amnesty International in its Tuesday statement.

Amnesty International noted that it has been denied access to Cuban
jails since 1988. It describes the jail that is housing Maldonado as a
place "where convicted murderers and political prisoners being punished
for their political views are traditionally held."

Meanwhile, Martinez said she is looking toward Jan. 28.

"I fully expect and demand that they follow through" with the promise of
release, she said.

Source: Artist jailed in Cuba since November for anti-Fidel Castro
graffiti may be released Jan. 28 | Fox News -
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/01/18/artist-jailed-in-cuba-since-november-for-anti-fidel-castro-graffiti-may-be-released-jan-28.html Continue reading
Somos+, Jose Presol, 18 January 2017 — We expected it for a long time and it happened, but when we weren’t in the line for the ration book. I am referring to the end of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy. We all knew that it would end, but what we least imagined was that it … Continue reading "And Now What? / Somos+, Jose Presol" Continue reading
Cuba 2016: The Visit of Barack Obama and Death of Fidel Castro / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 2 January 2017 — A spring rainstorm with light gusts of
wind fell over metropolitan Havana on Sunday, March 20th, when at 4:30
PM Air Force One landed at the first terminal of the José Martí
International Airport carrying President Barack Obama to one of the
final redoubts of communism in the world.

While a Secret Service agent opened Obama's umbrella at the foot of the
airplane stairs as he greeted Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez,
two hours earlier in Miramar, west of Havana, State security agents had
fiercely repressed a group of forty women and two dozen men who were
demanding democracy and freedom for political prisoners.

The dissident movement Ladies in White was instrumental in the
olive-green autocracy's calculated political reforms before the
international gallery.

Raúl Castro, hand-picked for the presidency in the summer of 2006 by his
brother Fidel, took the brunt of the escalating violence, and in three
way negotiations with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos
and the National Catholic Church in 2010, he freed 75 dissidents and
sent the majority into exile.

Castro II changed the rules of the game. The repressive modus operandi
of the regime began using brief detentions and returned, in a worrisome
way, to beatings, death threats, and verbal attacks on its opposition.

The afternoon that The Beast rolled into Old Havana, where Obama ate
dinner with his family in a private restaurant, the regime sent a
message back to Washington: the reforms — if they can be called reforms
— would be made at the convenience of the Palace of the Revolution, not
the White House.

On December 17, 2014, Raúl Castro and Barack Obama decided to
reestablish diplomatic relations and to turn around the anachronistic
policies of the Cold War.

The strategy of Obama proved indecipherable to the Taliban of Castroism.
He did not threaten to deploy gunboats nor subvert the state of affairs.

In his memorable speech at the Grand Theater of Havana on the 22nd of
March, he simply offered things that the majority of Cubans desire, and
of course did not renounce the doctrines that sustain American
democracy, of supporting private businesses and political rights.

Obama said what he thought looking into the eyes of Raúl Castro,
squatted in an armchair on the second balcony of the theater and
surrounded by the military junta that has administered Cuba for almost
60 years.

The 48 hours of his visit shook Havana. Neither the strong security
measures nor the Communist Party's strategy for minimizing the impact of
Obama's speech prevented the spontaneous reception of the people of
Havana that greeted the president wherever Cadillac One passed.

But official reactions to the visit were not long in coming. Fidel
Castro, retired from power, sick and waiting for death in his
residential complex of Punto Cero, opined that Obama's outstretched hand
was poisoned candy.

The propaganda machinery of the regime began to corrode, and some signs
of economic backlash against intermediaries and private sellers of
agriculture products, which began in early January, were reinforced in
the following months.

Obama's visit entrenched the hard-core of the island's totalitarianism.
The gang closed ranks, they returned to the spent Soviet language, and
began to render to Castro I a cult of personality modeled on a North
Korean manual.

It was assumed that the arrival of the president to Havana would be the
event of 2016 in Cuba, but at 10 PM on the night of November 25th,
according to the government, Fidel Castro died.

His death was no surprise. With 90 years and various ailments, the death
of the ex-guerilla was imminent. For better or for worse, he placed Cuba
on the world political map, confronting it with strategies of subversion
against the United States.

His revolution was more political than economic. He could never erect a
robust economy, and the architecture and textile factories during his
extensive rule, only produced things of shoddy and bad taste. Any
reasonable person should analyze the benefits and prejudices of the
regime of Fidel Castro. Sovereignty powered by cheap nationalism.
Division of families. Polarization of society. Relentless with its
enemies and local opposition.

Agriculture declined, he buried the sugar industry and it is difficult
to find any economic, sports or social sector that has not gone
downhill. There was no political honesty in recognizing his failures. On
the contrary, the regime entrenched itself in what it knows best: odes,
panegyrics and trying to enshrine its absurdities in gothic lettering.

And then, 2016 was the year of Raul Castro's diplomatic apparatus, the
most outstanding in his decade as president of the republic. In the last
five years he has reaped success. The secret negotiations for the
reestablishment of relations between the United States and Cuba. The
intermediation of peace in Colombia, with the Roman Catholic Church and
the Russian Orthodox Church. The cancellation of financial debts and
negotiation of a new deal with the Paris Club. And he even managed to
blow up the Common Position of the European Union. Unobjectionable
triumphs of Castro's advisers in international relations.

But those same advisers misjudged their strategy against the United
States. Like the American media and pollsters, they failed to discern
the Donald Trump phenomenon. They may now regret that they have not made
enough progress during Obama's term.

Trump is unpredictable. He repeals the agreements reached with the
United States saying he will make a better one. But something is clear
to the regime. To negotiate benefits you have to make concessions. No
more gifts.

In 2016 there was much more. Mick Jagger unfolded his unusual physical
energy in a mega-concert, scenes of the movie Fast and Furious were
filmed in Cuba, and almost every day a celebrity landed in Havana.

In May, Chanel offered a haute couture show in the Paseo del Prado in a
country where the majority of inhabitants earn $25 a month and not
everyone can see Chanel models in fashion magazines.

Cruises began arriving from Miami as did regular flights from the United
States. There were more than 1,200 cultural and academic exchanges, and
the visits by weighty figures of both governments have been numerous.

The meetings and negotiations have been constant; as constant as the
repression. According to the National Commission of Human Rights and
Reconciliation, in the month of November there were 359 arbitrary
detentions of dissidents, activists, and independent journalists.

The détente is not about to land on the Cuban table. Markets continue to
be out of stock, two meals a day is still a luxury, and one hour of
surfing the internet is equivalent to the wages of a day and a half of
work by a professional.

The year 2017 will be a key year. Barack Obama, the conciliator, will
not be in the White House, and in Cuba the old leader Fidel Castro will
not be there either.

Source: Cuba 2016: The Visit of Barack Obama and Death of Fidel Castro /
Iván García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-2016-the-visit-of-barack-obama-and-death-of-fidel-castro-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 2 January 2017 — A spring rainstorm with light gusts of wind fell over metropolitan Havana on Sunday, March 20th, when at 4:30 PM Air Force One landed at the first terminal of the José Martí International Airport carrying President Barack Obama to one of the final redoubts of communism in the world. … Continue reading "Cuba 2016: The Visit of Barack Obama and Death of Fidel Castro / Iván García" Continue reading
Normalizing The Communists Who Run Cuba Makes This Survivor Sick
Totalitarianism touches every aspect of every person's life, and Cuban
communism has been traumatic for adults and children not drunk with
fanaticism.
By Armando Simón
JANUARY 16, 2017

Ever since the death of that psychotic dictator Fidel Castro, I have
been experiencing déjà vu. At age ten, I fled my native Cuba after the
Communists took over and proceeded to trash the nation to make it
conform to their totalitarian ideology. You may think that a
ten-year-old would be ignorant of politics and not remember much, but
totalitarianism touches every aspect of every person's life, and it was
traumatic for adults and children who were not drunk with fanaticism.

Aside from the constant persecution, militarism, censorship,
indoctrination in schools, and idiotic slogans pasted everywhere, there
was a complete vanishing of books, comic books, good films, food,
clothing, household items, you name it. Not only were the Communists
psychotic murderers, they were stupidly incompetent at running the
economy, something that they boasted of benefitting the population. In
fact, the only ones who never lacked for anything were the Communists.
You see, "some animals are more equal than others."

So my parents sent me to Florida and joined me soon thereafter. In a few
years I was immersed in American life and culture. When I was in my late
teens and early twenties, I slowly became exposed to Communists in
America. In America, the Communists refuse to call themselves as such
and refer to themselves with euphemisms like "social activists,"
"progressives," and "liberals" (thereby tarnishing every decent
liberal). When they found out I was Cuban, they would grin and tell me
how much they admired Castro, how much good he had done for the Cuban
people.

At the time, I thought they were misinformed, so I tried to tell them
what it was really like. But they didn't want to hear what I had to say,
and nothing penetrated their skulls. They would argue with me! They had
never lived in Cuba before the revolution, they had never visited Cuba
after the revolution, they knew absolutely nothing about Cuba's history,
they knew nothing about Cuban culture, they didn't even speak a word of
Spanish, yet they would argue with a Cuban about Cuba! And they didn't
see how grotesquely stupid was their position.

We Care About Ideology, Not People

Later, in the 1970s, they developed a myth: that Cuba had been America's
colony and playground (i.e., it was a tourist destination—big deal),
prostitution had been abolished, and it was run by the Mafia. This
delusional mantra was overlaid with claims that the Communists had
improved the educational system, and everyone on the island benefitted
from a superb health system (which didn't help my cousin from dying from
beriberi due to malnutrition).

They studiously ignored the tens of thousands of Cubans who fled such a
paradise, a fifth of the population; or the instances of political
repression that would occasionally be revealed, from Huber Matos early
on to the present-day Ladies in White. So although they would blather
about how much they cared about the welfare of the Cuban people, the
reality was that they didn't really give a damn. That was just an
excuse. They just cared about the welfare of the Communist regime.
President Obama's decisions on Cuba exemplify these ideas, from
normalizing the Cuban regime to just recently ending asylum for Cubans
who manage to escape to the United States.

Along this same line, no sooner had the guns gone silent in Cuba that
Hollywood began to crank out pro-Castro and anti-exile movies: "Cuban
Rebel Girls," "Cuba," "Havana," "Scarface," "Creature from the Haunted
Sea," "The Godfather 2," "The Motorcycle Diaries," "Che," "Che," and
more "Che." Since for leftists history is not a scholarly subject but an
instrument for power to be manipulated and molded, historical facts were
distorted. In one film Batista, who was a black man, was portrayed as a
white blonde.

Love for A Murderous Dictator Is Evil
Since the fall of the evil empire, I did not hear much from such
individuals, aside from occasionally coming across some ignorant jackass
who sported a Che Guevara T-shirt. But now, with the death of that
psychopath—yes, he was a true psychopath—they have come crawling out of
the woodwork to heap praise on Fidel Castro, saying yes, he may have
been a dictator but, hey, that is outweighed by how much good he did for
the people (and the s.o.bs still don't speak a word of Spanish!).

Besides, he defied America, whereupon they indulge in abuse of the
United States, usually by citing myths that they hold dear. Much has
been in print, such as the comments of Canada's Justin Trudeau, but you
can hear some of the gushing admiration and Peter Hitchens throwing cold
water on the admirers on YouTube.

So it's all coming back. I have a deep hatred for such individuals, not
just because they are praising a murdering, dictatorial Communist
dictator, although that is understandable in the same way as hearing
Muslims justify pedophilia. It is also because I know full well that
such individuals, given half the chance, would send people to either
concentration camps or firing squads, set up book-burning bonfires, shut
down book publishers and news sources, and establish a secret police. Of
that, you can be sure. That benevolent-sounding pipsqueak is evil.

So the next time you hear someone praise Castro and his minions, do me a
favor: break their face.

Armando Simón lives in San Antonio and is the author of "A Cuban from
Kansas," and, "The Only Red Star I Liked Was a Starfish."

Source: Normalizing The Communists Who Run Cuba Makes This Survivor Sick
-
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Wet Foot-Dry Foot Policy for Cubans Eliminated / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 12 January 2017 – [Note: This is an
extended version of an article that appeared earlier today.] The Obama
administration ended the "wet foot/dry foot" policy that allowed Cuban
citizens to stay in the the United States as long as they touched land
in that country.

The Obama administration has also eliminated the Cuban Medical
Professional Parole (CMPP) program, which was set up under the
presidency of Republican George W. Bush, to host the hundreds of doctors
fleeing the island's government from third countries, where they were
serving on "medical missions."

In an official communication, aired jointly in both countries, the Cuban
Government committed to receiving individuals from a list of 2,746
Cubans who were considered inadmissible after the Mariel exodus and
others who did not originally appear on the list.

This measure by the United States does away with the entry by land and
sea of ​​all Cuban citizens without visas, repealing the "wet foot/dry
foot" policy that gave legal status to Cuban migrants who managed to
reach US territory.

From now on, citizens of the island will be treated like any other
Latin American migrant.

"And now what do we do?" asks Yuniel Ramos, a Cuban migrant who is in
Honduras accompanied by more than forty compatriots heading to the
United States.

"We are desperate, in the middle of the jungle, how can Obama bypass
Congress and change things without even giving us a period of time to
arrive?" he added.

The end of that policy was an old demand from the Cuban government,
which called it "criminal" and "responsible for the deaths of thousands
of Cubans."

The "wet foot/dry foot" policy is an executive order, signed by
President Bill Clinton in 1995, following the Rafter Crisis of that era,
put into effect after negotiations with the Government of the Island.

"The Government of Cuba agrees to begin accepting the return of Cuban
nationals with return orders," read the press release issued as part of
the exchange.

The presidential adviser who made the announcement in the United States
also suggested that the measure is consistent with the strategy proposed
by the Administration to promote change in Cuba.

Between 2006 and 2015, more than 8,000 health professionals have arrived
in the United States through the Medical Parole Program, according to
figures from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
(USCIS). In 2015 alone, 1,663 Cuban health professionals were welcomed.
The elimination of the CCMP program represents an important triumph for
the Cuban government, which earns great profits from the work of its
doctors abroad, who are paid only a small portion of the money paid to
the Cuban government by foreign governments in exchange for their services.

President-elect Donald Trump threatened to end Obama's reestablishment
of diplomatic relations unless the Cuban government signed a "better
deal" with him.

On December 17, 2014 both countries announced the reestablishment of
diplomatic relations after 50 years, generating a wave of repulsion
among the historic exile in Miami.

"Castro uses refugees as pawns to obtain more concessions from
Washington, so there is no reason to end the Cuban medical program,
which is a reckless concession to a regime that sends its doctors to
foreign nations in a modern-day servitude," said Florida Republican Rep.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

"The revocation of the Professional Parole Program for Cuban Doctors was
done because that is what the Cuban dictatorship wanted and the White
House gave in to what Castro wants, instead of defending the democratic
values ​​of the United States," she added.

According to Alexander Jiménez, a Cuban living in Ecuador, the news left
him in shock.

"I had everything ready to go to the United States with my wife, I have
a lot of family members on the road, they are in the jungle, we are
desperate because we cannot communicate with them and now they cannot
continue on their way," he said.

Dariel Gonzalez, a Cuban health specialist who came to the United States
a year ago through the CMPP program, said he had "run out of words."

"It's a low blow that Obama is giving to all health professionals who
want to escape the slavery to which they are subjected by the Cuban
government. This leaves us totally defenseless,"he said.

On the same Thursday that the announcement occurred in Havana and
Washington, meetings were held between delegations of both countries to
discuss the trafficking of people and the claims of confiscated goods.

Both countries stated, however, that the United States will continue
granting 20,000 "exceptional" visas to Cubans on the island to promote
safe migration between countries.. The family reunification program will
also be maintained.

"It is important that Cuba has a population of young people who become
agents of change," said White House adviser Ben Rhodes.

The White House has made clear that it is aware that the reasons for
emigrating are more economic than political.

Cubans who show up at the border will be treated like any other
immigrant. They will have the opportunity to explain their motives if
they are afraid to return home, according to Ben Rhodes.

According to the announcement, Cuba will change its own immigration
policy and will allow Cubans to remain outside the country for a term of
up to four years before they lose their right to reside in the country.
Until today, Cubans who remained outside the country for more than two
years forfeited their right to live in their native country.

Note from the Editor: Contributing to this report were reporters from El
Nuevo Herald: Nora Gámez and Abel Fernandez.

Source: Wet Foot-Dry Foot Policy for Cubans Eliminated / 14ymedio, Mario
Penton – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/wet-foot-dry-foot-policy-for-cubans-eliminated-14ymedio-mario-penton/ Continue reading
… toward Cuba had to be immediate to prevent a wave of Cubans … Ramos, a Cuban migrant currently in Honduras with other Cubans who had … , encouraging Cubans to make dangerous sea passages and siphoning off Cuban professionals … repatriated to Cuba, he said. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, a Cuban exile … Continue reading
… repatriated to Cuba, he said. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, a Cuban exile … the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program. The United States and Cuba are … the lives of the Cuban people — inside of Cuba — by providing them … Havana, the future of Cuba should be in the hands of the CubanContinue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 12 January 2017 – [Note: This is an extended version of an article that appeared earlier today.] The Obama administration ended the “wet foot/dry foot” policy that allowed Cuban citizens to stay in the the United States as long as they touched land in that country. The Obama administration has also … Continue reading "Wet Foot-Dry Foot Policy for Cubans Eliminated / 14ymedio, Mario Penton" Continue reading
Sounds Of War To Drown Out The Economic Crisis In Cuba / 14ymedio, Mario
Penton

14ymedio, Mario Penton, 2 January 2017 – With a military march and a
"parade of the fighting people" the new year dawns in Cuba. This time
there were no tanks in the Plaza of the Revolution, but thousands of
Cubans were taken there from their workplaces in order to demonstrate
unity with the Communist Party and the figure of Raul Castro in the
absence of his brother Fidel, who died on 25 November of last year.

The event was dedicated to the young, "those who are carrying on the
work of the Revolution," to the deceased leader and to the
disembarkation from the yacht Granma, which in 1956 brought a handful of
revolutionaries from Mexico to Cuba who overthrew the government of
Fulgencia Batista. All this in a year that is called 'complicated' after
a fall of 0.9% in the GDP, which reflects the failures of the Raulist
reforms and resurrects the old ghosts of the Special Period.

"It is ironic that they dedicate this demonstration to young people,
because they are the first ones who are escaping to wherever they can
because that don't see hope or any possibility of progress in Cuba,"
says Manuel Perez, a young Cuban psychologist who emigrated to Argentina
looking for better work opportunities.

Carlos Amel Oliva, youth leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu),
shares this view.

For Oliva, the Cuban government is in the midst of "a campaign whose
strategy is well thought out" to revive nationalism among young people,
following the ideological vacuum left by the reestablishment of
relations with the United States.

"Young people are indifferent to these old demonstrations. The only
thing that interests many young Cubans is to escape to any country to
find what they cannot find in theirs," he says.

In the last three years more than 100,000 Cubans have arrived in the
United States by various means to avail themselves of the Cuban
Adjustment Act and obtain residence in that country. A large proportion
of these migrants are young or of working age, which increases the
problem of the aging of the population on the island. In 2025 Cuba will
be the oldest country on the continent in demographic terms.

Negative migration balances, coupled with a low level of fertility, the
already obsolete just-opened technology park, and the scarcity of
foreign investments, which amounted to scarcely 6.5% of what was
planned, constitute serious problems facing the country. Added to that
is the crisis in Venezuela, the Cuban government's main ally, which has
substantially reduced trade with the country, according to official data.

"When the enemy disappeared, there was no one to fight against. That is
something that should be given much attention and hopefully the US
administration will maintain an intelligent discourse and offer no
reason to revive the old Cold War discourse," says Oliva, 29, who
opposes the regime. This Unpacu leader believes that the warlike message
was also addressed to the US government.

For Arnoldo A. Muller, president of the Social Democratic Co-ordination
of Cuba, a Cuban opposition organization attached to Cuban Consensus, an
umbrella organization that brings together several organizations in
exile, the January 2nd march "is a demonstration of strength."

"They want to maintain the continuity of the system and do not want
change. It is a message about who has military control over the country,
the regime makes it known to the people that Castroism continues," he says.

The military parade was barely able to count on some troops trying to
recall the significant moments of Cuban independence battles and the
struggles against the government of Fulgencio Batista. Transportation in
the city was focused on bringing thousands of people from their
workplaces, and there were reports of traffic jams due to the terrible
state of Havana's main arteries.

From the province of Pinar del Rio, Dagoberto Valdés, director of the
Center for Coexistence Studies, adds that military parades "are a
throwback to the culture of war" and "the legacy of a history that has
been written about warlike events and not about the development of civil
society."

For Valdes, it is a manifestation "of that tradition that has believed
that the triumph of the Cuban nation is to make it strong as a Republic
in Arms and not as a Republic of Souls."

Valdés believes that, on the contrary, it is necessary to "change the
logic of war for that of peace, the inheritance of war for the ethical
inheritance, the building of the republic over virtue and love."

Source: Sounds Of War To Drown Out The Economic Crisis In Cuba /
14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/sounds-of-war-to-drown-out-the-economic-crisis-in-cuba-14ymedio-mario-penton/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, 2 January 2017 – With a military march and a “parade of the fighting people” the new year dawns in Cuba. This time there were no tanks in the Plaza of the Revolution, but thousands of Cubans were taken there from their workplaces in order to demonstrate unity with the Communist Party and … Continue reading "Sounds Of War To Drown Out The Economic Crisis In Cuba / 14ymedio, Mario Penton" Continue reading
… led by Castro returned to Cuba from exile in Mexico on … Army columns. Units of the Cuban army, including, tank divisions, special … Continue reading
It's Time For Politics To Stop Separating Families And Friends /
14ymedio, Pedro Campos

14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 29 December 2016 — The model imposed in
Cuba in the name of a socialism that never existed had, among its worst
results, the politicization of everything. Families fought over
politics. Friends became enemies. This was one of the most disastrous
consequences of the "revolutionary intransigence" in which several
generations of Cubans were (badly) educated.

This intransigence, generated by the group in power, facilitated the
development of others.

The phenomenon affected practically every family and friendship, which
according to tradition had always remained very united. The divisions
began in 1959, when the provisional government that was intended to give
way to the restoration of institutionalized democracy, failed to do so
and turned itself into a permanent revolutionary government that began
to apply justice in its own way.

Immediately, more than a few began to see how to advance the centralized
and anti-democratic policies, traditionally identified with communism,
that had done so much damage in Europe and which, in the island's past,
had been linked to Batista, the tyrant who was expelled from power.

Disagreement in democracy is normal, but when there is none and dissent
is considered treason and is not accepted, as in Cuba in the early days
after the triumph of the Revolution, thinking differently is identified
as "counterrevolutionary."

With the first "counterrevolutionaries" began the first great exodus and
many families stopped seeing each other or even communicating for many
years. Then came other waves. In the early 80's, some of those who had
gone into exile began to return to visit and that began to break the ice.

It was not easy for families to welcome "worms" and "traitors" who now
returned with gifts and greater incomes, from a country with another
language, culture, climate and traditions. People were afraid that they
could lose their membership in the Communist Party or a government job.

Some of those who remained in Cuba would not receive their relatives at
that time. Or old friends would not visit with them.

With time and new waves of migration, many of those who had refused to
receive their relatives or friends also went into exile. During the
Mariel Boatlift, some had participated in the repudiation rallies and
shouted, "Let the scum go." They threw eggs. And later, more than a few
them took the same path.

The intransigents insist on continuing to confront families and friends
over politics, and they still reject friendships between people who
think differently, but there are also people who feel individuals are
separate from their ideas and they leave them alone, considering them
friends. Pope Francis comes to mind when he talked about "social
friendship."

In Miami, on the other side, there are also intransigents. Both sides
make it all the more difficult.

Now, in the aftermath of the former leader's death, we hear again about
"revolutionaries" who did not make friendships carry the weight of
politics and did not accept judgments about the consequences of their
imprint on democracy and socialism. Intolerance is necessary for nothing
to change.

There are many people who do not lend themselves to politics destroying
families and friendships. They are fundamental pillars of the future Cuba.

Today, because of the wide exchanges among all Cubans, despite the
intolerance expressed from the rulers, there is more tolerance. This is
part of the preparation necessary to live in a democracy, which will
come sooner rather than later.

It is time for politics to stop separating families and friends. We are
in a good moment for it. Cuba, to advance, needs to leave behind so much
confrontation, so much stubbornness, so much stupidity. Perhaps all
that, on both sides, reached the highest possible point in recent days,
and now, like all that rises, it must descend.

It must be understood that, regardless of the political differences, we
Cubans will one day have to talk to each other and sit together in a
democratic parliament leaving behind grudges and the difficult and
dramatic moments of our history, leading with the future and looking for
a way to accept ourselves in our diversity.

There will have to be apologies and pardons, difficult encounters. If
not men, history will punish crimes and abuses. There will have to be
changes in political power, it will have to be peaceful and democratic,
but blood must be avoided in order not to resume the cycle of violence,
if we really want to see Cuba as a great nation with its international
economic and political weight. Politics will have to give way to family
and friendship. A divided country is easily made a victim of national
and global hegemonies.

Source: It's Time For Politics To Stop Separating Families And Friends /
14ymedio, Pedro Campos – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/its-time-for-politics-to-stop-separating-families-and-friends-14ymedio-pedro-campos/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 29 December 2016 — The model imposed in Cuba in the name of a socialism that never existed had, among its worst results, the politicization of everything. Families fought over politics. Friends became enemies. This was one of the most disastrous consequences of the “revolutionary intransigence” in which several generations of Cubans were (badly) … Continue reading "It’s Time For Politics To Stop Separating Families And Friends / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos" Continue reading
Cuban Adjustment Act or Upheaval Act / 14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo

14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo, Quito, 14 December 2016 — I wake up and I
see a report on the arrival of a group rafters on the coast of Miami.
I'm surprised by the open declaration of one of them, who confesses
having left Cuba in search of a better future, but says he has nothing
against Fidel Castro. His words set me to meditating.

The Cuban Adjustment Act is a good deed on the way to hell. Thousands of
Cubans arrive in the United States every year to take advantage of its
benefits. Its repeal is a taboo subject among the exile and the
emigration. Those who say they are in favor of its elimination or reform
from abroad, receive avalanches of criticism and support, demonstrating
the division of opinions about it.

The government of the island ascribes to the Cuban Adjustment Act the
main reason for the exodus, dismissing internal conditions and policies
that cause people to leave, this being a long-time strategy of the
regime: Someone else is always to blame.

Authorized voices within the Cuban-American political establishment,
such as Senator Marco Rubio, call for a revision of the Cuban Adjustment
Act on the basis that not all Cubans arriving in the United States and
claiming refuge under it meet the conditions to apply for asylum, and
many of them demonstrate their political apathy by returning to the
island as soon as they obtain a US residence permit, discrediting their
supposed condition as a politically persecuted person.

Since the beginning of the most recent migration crisis in November of
2015, the division among Cubans stranded in Costa Rica and Panama is
evident.

One group reaffirms, recklessly and motivated by an ignorance of the
nature of the Adjustment Act, that they are economic migrants, which
strengthens the arguments of the regime about the causes of illegal
immigration.

Others, however, say that they left Cuba because of its repressive
policies, lack of political and economic freedoms, and the
impoverishment of the country, something imposed by an internal blockade
that has plunged the Cuban people into despair.

Both sides agree that this mass escape was motivated by the fear of
political transformations that would be generated by the "thaw," leaving
them inside a nation that sees no long-term changes in the relationship
between the government and the people.

It is legitimate to question whether the Cuban Adjustment Act should
continue under the current terms. The receiving government spends an
annual average of 500 million dollars in aid to the "Cuban
refugees." Some estimates indicate that, from 2014 to late 2016, the
United States has allocated 1.5 billion dollars for monetary aid for the
first six months, food stamps for three months which are renewable for
longer, health insurance for ten months for adults and more health
insurance assistance for children, as well as supplementary services for
the elderly.

Does every Cuban deserve such kindness? The final saga of the migratory
crisis, which has had its most recent and dire chapter in Ecuador,
demonstrated that some members of the regime are parasites benefitting
from the Cuban Adjustment Act. They waste no time in leaving behind the
claws of the tiger, and brazenly appear among the voices clamoring for
an airlift to continue their journey to the United States, while in Cuba
they were persecutors of the Ladies in White, Cuban counterintelligence
officials, members of the National Assembly of People's Power, and
militant communist/opportunists who, tired of the perks of the regime,
head north to take advantage of other perks in "la Yuma" – the United
States. Many of them, who denied there was a political motive to this
breakout, are now in the United States enjoying government help.

Another group, misunderstood and attacked, launched itself in courageous
though reckless protest against the Cuban embassy in Quito, showing the
political nature of the exodus and starring in one of the never before
seen historic feats of the emigration. Unfortunately, it is an event
little spoken of. Many of the protesters were deported to Cuba. Another
group of people and protagonists of the protest camp in Quito's Arbolito
Park are already in the United States, justifying with their actions and
political stance that they deserve the benefits of the Cuban Adjustment Act.

I support reform of the terms of the Cuban Adjustment Act. It is not
fair that the American taxpayers' money goes into the hands of those who
enjoyed communism and now want to enjoy capitalism without deserving to.
It is not fair that economic emigrants and future speculators head back
to the island with their recently obtained residence permits, trampling
on the spirit that gave rise to the law. Those who are unscrupulous and
reject with their behavior – far from that of the politically persecuted
– the refuge offered to them, should have their status reassessed.

I do not live in the United States and I have not benefited from the
Cuban Adjustment Act, nor do I consider myself politically persecuted,
despite my actions and opinions, but I condemn those who mock the law
and discredit the support and sustenance that the United States
government has offered to our people in the hard years of the exodus,
which sadly does not end.

Source: Cuban Adjustment Act or Upheaval Act / 14ymedio, Rolando
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… during his historic visit to Havana in March, 2016. FRANCE 24 … and social chaos to Cuba. He divided Cuban families, fuelled exile, and … the Cuban nation! That cult of personality always existed in Cuba, but … closer contact between Cubans and Americans, both here in Cuba and abroad … Continue reading
14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo, Quito, 14 December 2016 — I wake up and I see a report on the arrival of a group rafters on the coast of Miami. I’m surprised by the open declaration of one of them, who confesses having left Cuba in search of a better future, but says he has nothing against … Continue reading "Cuban Adjustment Act or Upheaval Act / 14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo" Continue reading
Losing Fear To Get Freedom / 14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo

14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo, Quito, 10 December 2016 — On the 58th
anniversary of the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista, the seizure of power
by Fidel Castro and the disappearance of the national hope of a return
to the constitutional values ​​of 1940, the people of Cuba, their
emigration and the "historic exile" continue to ask the same rhetorical
question: When will we be free?

Before the Obama administration's rapprochement, the island's regime
raised the alarms of the possible perpetuation of the current state of
affairs. Opposition groups have concentrated their intellectual efforts
on delegitimizing the actions of the United States government and few
have concerned themselves with analyzing the new opportunities for
action that it presents. They demand that Washington return to the
politics of confrontation of the last 50 years, a return to a Cold War
based on ideological footholds or real threats to the stability of the
United States that no longer exist. Times have changed, the world is not
the same, this is a fact.

Although US President Barack Obama broke the taboo by stepping foot in
Havana and shaking General Raul Castro's hand, and despite the ongoing
conversations, the situation in Cuban continues more or less the same.
The defenders of the regime point to the deep popular roots of the
"Revolution"; the defenders of Obama's policies blame the opposition's
inability to articulate a plan to destabilize the regime or to win
popular support; the detractors of the US administration, coincidentally
the traditional opposition the Cuban regime, both on the same side but
for opposite reasons, argue that rapprochement is useless. For
officialdom it is a maneuver to hide mixed objectives, for the regime's
opponents it is a maneuver to strengthen the regime and betray
democratic aspirations, etc.

But what are the real reasons that social unrest does not happen in Cuba?

In the current Cuban conflict four elements are involved. We must assume
that there are four important figures, three national and one
external. The national figures are the government and its repressive
structures ("mass organization" in the official jargon), opposition
groups inside and outside the country and, most importantly, the
ordinary people (workers, students, housewives, technicians, doctors
etc.), mostly discontented but with high levels of political apathy. The
external element is the US government and its policies toward the island.

Where is the project?

The traditional, dispersed and divided opposition base their positions
on the flagrant violations of human rights. The main flag of dozens of
opposition groups is the establishment of democracy and free elections,
a cause undoubtedly just but one that does not offer a intelligible plan
to the Cuban masses who want a change in their pocketbooks and in their
kitchens. The objectives of the struggle seem futile to a needy majority
that depends on the ration book and the tiny wages, the lowest salaries
in the Western hemisphere. The opposition discourse forgets to speak out
about the pressing needs of the population. What does the ordinary Cuban
want to hear? Do they want to hear about democracy? Are the interests of
the opposition the same as those of the common people?

Leadership?

The opposition leadership is a burning issue. Some avoid talking about
it so that they are not accused of "pandering to the regime" and end up
being called "G2 agents," that is in the pocket of State Security. New
times need ethical leadership, a leadership immune to the caudillos, one
that can articulate the ideas and diverse projects in the current
collage of opposition factions.

We have a common rosary of ex-prisoners turned into patriotic opponents,
people who love to get checks and their phones recharged, opposition
caricatures who don't act if the interests of their fiefdom or their
personal opinions are not affected. A leadership that doesn't skimp on
launching insults to devalue their adversaries, in the seeking of
remittances from abroad. A kind of political flip-floppers that end up
smearing the work of ethically firm and committed opponents. One wonders
which they benefit more, the democratic cause, or the regime's
discourse. They should aspire to a prepared leadership, trained in
theory and practice. Leaders, not supervisors, are what the cause needs.

Civil disobedience?

The Gene Sharp Academy has become famous among opponents. It is common
to hear the term as if it were a hidden card, a weapon per se. Civil
disobedience is a process that starts from a common idea, a shared
desire by the majority who attempt to act together from the first moment
in the simple refusal to be a part of what they don't agree with

The mistake is to call the masses to participate in marches and strikes
when they have not first been called to abandon the repressive
structures of the regime. It is joining together in civil disobedience
when fear is lost and this is discovered when realizing there are many
who are willing to be punished.

A simple act of civil disobedience is putting a ribbon on the door or a
sticker in the window. It is not about a march like that of September
1st in Venezuela if people haven't already identified with the
opposition project.

"The suspicion syndrome"

The fear of being marked by the regime is one of the reasons for
political apathy. The vast majority of Cubans talk quietly at home,
criticizing the barbarity and arbitrariness of the government. People
avoid talking about it more at work saying: "You don't know who's
who." The fear of being put on the blacklist makes people prefer to
remain outside any political debate and simply repeat the regime's
propaganda or join its repressive organizations (mass organizations) "so
as not to stand out." Opportunism and amorality have become an instinct
for self-preservation.

End of the charismatic government

Fidel Castro met his end. The charismatic leader, bearer of all truth,
was a decrepit old man. Although some, glued to the criticism of his
image and legacy, still blame him for everything as if he still ruled,
the reality is that nature, the only effective opponent of the regime,
has removed Fidel Castro.

Fidel's hypnotic personality was the cornerstone of the Cuban
government. The interfamily transfer of power left a vacuum that we
ignore. Raul Castro, the elderly general, is a person with little
facility with words, jovial among his people but lacking charisma,
incoherent, a faint shadow of what was the sex-symbol image of the
Commander in Chief in his younger days.

Obama's visit unveiled a Raul Castro without arguments, disoriented, his
voice shrill and disagreeable, reflecting what was left of the "historic
leadership of the Revolution." The dictatorship has lost its charisma
and its essence becomes more evident.

Possibility of dialog

The Cuban opposition currently does not have the power or the popular
support to force a dialog with the government. Some passionate but
hardly pragmatic leaders refuse, as an exercise in bravado, to accept a
possible future dialog with the regime. Dialog is desirable, it can be a
way to negotiate agreements and to obtain a share of power when the
conditions for it are created. But, being realists, the opposition in
Cuba had done very little to obtain the elements of pressure.

Obama policy and "normalization"

"Normalization" took the opposition by surprise. Something cooking
behind the scenes until we all got a whiff of it. President Obama,
ending his term in office, launched an adventure toward an uncertain
future. Like it or not there are now fluid diplomatic relations between
both countries. The screws have been loosened on the restrictions of the
embargo-blockade, a policy that has been voted against for two decades
by the majority of the countries that make up the United Nations General
Assembly. Keeping it was illogical and trying this new path is the only
reasonable option.

The disappearance of tensions and the eventual end of the embargo will
put an end to the concept of the imperialist enemy and mark the end of
political ideological work. The regime is left without the excuse of
considering itself the hero of the "plaza under siege." The blame cannot
eternally fall on the United States: there are no reasons for the
scarcities, the corruption, the persecution of entrepreneurs, the
imposed lack of connection to the internet, the lack of freedom of
expression and the violations of human rights. Will the opposition adapt
to the new rules of the game and abandon its tantrums?

Keys

A social explosion will not occur in Cuba as long as a separation of
immediate interests between the population and the opposition
persists. People must lose their fear and become aware that most Cubans
want an immediate change in relations with the state. An ethical renewal
of the opposition is essential, as is the meeting at an intermediate
point that permits unifying the idea of change for Cuba on the basis of
a viable project to undermine the foundations of a regime that has lost
its charismatic leader. Articulating a project for a future Republic
that does not start from antiquated rhetoric about obsolete economic
projects and licenses to kill.

A social explosion will come only when the majority of the population
identifies the single culprit responsible for their ills, for which the
distractions and excuses must disappear. We must put an end to the idea
of the "imperialist enemy." It requires a committed opposition that
takes advantage of the new conditions and doesn't lend itself to the
improbable activities of those who have settled into a way of life
guaranteed by dissent.

The freedom of Cuba does not depend on the United States, it depends on
our own efforts. As long as we don't understand our own responsibility,
we will not achieve the changes we aspire to.

Source: Losing Fear To Get Freedom / 14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo –
Translating Cuba -
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… during his historic visit to Havana in March, 2016. FRANCE 24 … and social chaos to Cuba. He divided Cuban families, fuelled exile, and … the Cuban nation! That cult of personality always existed in Cuba, but … closer contact between Cubans and Americans, both here in Cuba and abroad … Continue reading
14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo, Quito, 10 December 2016 — On the 58th anniversary of the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista, the seizure of power by Fidel Castro and the disappearance of the national hope of a return to the constitutional values ​​of 1940, the people of Cuba, their emigration and the “historic exile” continue to ask the … Continue reading "Losing Fear To Get Freedom / 14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo" Continue reading
Prayers for greater freedom, social justice in Cuba
by Father Joseph D. Wallace, December 9, 2016

Years ago, when I was in the seminary, I became friends with a fellow
seminarian who is now Father Manuel Rios, pastor of Saint Mary of the
Assumption Parish, in Elizabeth, N.J., and who remains a dear friend of
mine. Manny's family came to this country when he was a young man to
live in West New York, N.J. Many times I stayed at Manny's house and was
spoiled by his mother's wonderful cooking and the warmth of the wider
Cuban community who lived in great numbers along Bergenline Avenue that
ran through such places as Union City and West New York.

It wasn't hard to pick up after a short time being around the exile
Cuban community in this area, known as "Havana on the Hudson," that they
had no time for Fidel Castro. They viewed him as a brutal dictator who
imposed great suffering on those who opposed his brand of Marxism that
included suppression of religion on the island.

Since his death the other week, both political and religious leaders
have worded their responses and condolences very carefully. It is
because of his rather duplicitous legacy on the world scene. The vast
majority of Cubans prior to Castro were devout Roman Catholics. In fact,
Castro was baptized and raised in the Catholic Church as a child, but
would later say in an interview in a documentary that "I have never been
a believer."

When Castro suppressed all Catholic institutions in Cuba in 1962, Saint
John XXIII excommunicated him.

Of course, Roman Catholics were not the only religious community
affected by Castro's anti-religious sentiments and persecutions. The
Jewish community which numbered over 30,000 before his revolution is
presently down to fewer than 1,000 living in Cuba today.

It really was not until the 1990s that Castro begun loosening his vice
grip on religious freedom on the island. In 1992 he actually allowed
practicing Catholics to join the Communist Party in Cuba. His rhetoric
about religion also started changing at this time, describing his
country as "secular" rather than his earlier description of "atheist."

In 1998, Saint John Paul II visited Cuba, the first pope to ever visit
the island. Castro and John Paul treated each other with respect and
dignity during the visit. Castro even donned secular clothes rather than
his usual fatigues (used to continue the notion of revolution). The
result of that meeting was that Castro formally reinstated Christmas Day
as an official celebration since he abolished permission to celebrate
Christmas in 1969. He also allowed for religious processions to resume
again. The pope sent him a telegram at that time thanking him for this
new permission for Christians.

Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I came to Cuba to
consecrate the Orthodox Cathedral and bestowed an honor on Castro for
building and donating the church in the heart of Havana.

In 2012 Castro had a 30 minute audience with Pope Benedict XVI during
his visit to Cuba. Benedict, who advocated ending the American embargo
on Cuba, also encouraged a more open society in Cuba. During Pope
Benedict's visit, Castro asked what popes do with their time and asked
the pope his opinion on the changes that have taken place in the church
over the last century.

Pope Francis visited Cuba and met with Castro on Sept. 20, 2015, when
they discussed such things as protecting the environment and the
problems of the modern world. Pope Francis is also credited for helping
to broker the restoration of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba.
After the restoration of full diplomatic relations between the two
countries last year, Pope Francis in a statement quoted the Cuban hero
and independence fighter, Jose Marti, when he said the restoration "is a
sign of the victory of the culture of encounter and dialogue, 'the
system of universal growth' over 'the forever-dead system of groups and
dynasties.'"

In a 2009 spoken autobiography, Castro said that Christianity exhibited
"a group of very humane precepts" which gave the world "ethical values"
and a "sense of social justice," as he added, "If people call me
Christian, not from the standpoint of religion but from the standpoint
of social vision, I declare that I am a Christian."

While we all hope that the death of Fidel Castro may lead to greater
freedom and social justice in Cuba, the jury is still out. Even after
the lifting of religious repression laws back in the 1990s the Castro
regime was reported by the U.S. Commission on International Religious
Freedom's 2016 report that Cuba's "government designated 2,000
Assemblies of God churches as illegal and ordered their closure,
confiscation or demolition."

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, where many exiles from Cuba live,
summed things up well when he said, "His death provokes many emotions,
both in and outside the island. Nevertheless, beyond all possible
emotions, the passing of this figure should lead us to invoke the
patroness of Cuba, the Virgin of Charity, asking for peace for Cuba and
its people."

Father Joseph D. Wallace is director, Ecumenical and Inter-religious
Affairs, Diocese of Camden.

Source: Prayers for greater freedom, social justice in Cuba | Catholic
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Exiles: Putin Could Offer Trump a Deal on Cuba
Putin seeking to take pressure off deteriorating Russian economy
BY: Reuben F. Johnson
December 6, 2016 11:12 am

Post-Fidel Castro Havana may lose its long-time protector and guarantor
of security, Russia, according to Cuba-watchers in Miami's community of
exiles and dissidents.

They predict Russian President Vladimir Putin will offer the incoming
Trump administration a free hand to deal with Cuba as it sees fit in
return for the United States recognizing Moscow's invasion and
annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea.

The assessment comes from former Cuban officials who fled the island
nation under the rule of Fidel Castro. They said Putin is seeking to use
the recent passing of Castro as an opportunity to take the pressure off
a deteriorating domestic economic situation back in Russia.

The first indicator was the naming of the Russian government officials
who led the delegation to attend Fidel Castro's funeral, said one former
Cuban official now living in Miami. The two most senior members from
Moscow's political order dispatched to Havana were Vyacheslav Volodin,
speaker of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, and
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin.

Naming Rogozin as one of the two most important representatives to the
funeral ceremony "is almost an insult to the Cubans," said a Russian
political analyst in Moscow. "Rogozin is regarded by many as more of a
clown than anything else, and he is most famous for a series of
ridiculous and bombastic public statements that have no anchor in reality."

"It is clear that Moscow wanted to keep the delegation low-key so as to
not in any way antagonize Trump by having a senior Russian official like
PM [Dmitry] Medvedev or Putin himself deliver a eulogy that lambasts
Washington with a lot of inflammatory rhetoric," said a former Cuban
defense official now living in the Miami area. "This unusual reticence
to engage in the usual anti-U.S. tirade accompanies some other
indicators that Putin needs to lay the groundwork for this 'trade' where
the U.S. gets to do whatever it wants with Cuba and he in return gets a
blank check for Ukraine."

Putin stayed in Moscow during the funeral. His official spokesman
announced that the Russian leader was preoccupied with preparing a
speech for the president's upcoming annual address to the Federal
Assembly—a joint session of both houses of the national parliament. But
analysts in Moscow told the Free Beacon that nothing about this event
would normally preclude Putin from still attending Castro's funeral.
Instead, Putin is preoccupied with the deteriorating domestic situation
in Russia.

For years under Putin, Russia has engaged in a series of land-grabbing
invasions of neighboring nations. Russia is now bordered by "frozen
conflict" zones that it either claims as its own or are occupied by
Russian armed forces.

These "statelets" cost Russia an estimated $5 billion per year—a
significant drag on the Russian state's operations. Meanwhile, Russia's
economy continues to spiral down while both the value of the Russia
ruble and the oil prices that the state budgets depend on for revenue
are at record lows. These conditions show little to no chance of
improving any time soon.

A crisis of public confidence in Putin's rule could very well be in the
making. Recent economic data shows that since 2014 the size of Russia's
middle class has declined by more than 16 percent, putting an additional
14 million people into the ranks of the poor. The number of people who
consider themselves middle class has likewise fallen from 61 percent two
years ago to 51 percent this year, while real household incomes have
decreased by 7 percent since last year.

Much of this decline has been blamed on countersanctions put in place by
Putin after the United States and the European Union imposed embargoes
on Russia over the invasion of Crimea. The Russian president banned food
products from Europe and Ukraine in response to various U.S. and EU
travel bans on Russian officials, freezes of Russian assets, and Russian
banks being barred from numerous international financial markets.

Putin needs a "relief valve" that can reduce Russia's external financial
obligations and a lifting of sanctions if the country's economic
situation is ever going to improve, said Russian political experts. They
told Western news outlets that these sanctions are endangering Putin's
chances for reelection in 2018. Some Kremlin insiders have recently
floated snap presidential elections—in order to give the former KGB
lieutenant colonel another six-year term now while his reelection
prospects are still positive.

"Proposing this Cuba-for-Ukraine trade is a sign that Putin is running
out of options and running out of time," said the Cuban defense official
in exile. "And he is just hoping that the Trump team would be naïve
enough to take him up on this deal."

Source: Exiles: Vladimir Putin Could Offer Donald Trump a Deal on Cuba -
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