Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's No Peru, but...

The Spanish Embassy in Cuba was mobbed by 400 people today, according to a Miami Herald article, see excerpt below for more information.

Over 400 Cubans wait to seek Spanish citizenship


By WILL WEISSERT
Associated Press Writer
HAVANA --

More than 400 Cubans of Spanish ancestry mobbed that country's stately embassy in Havana on Monday, waiting to apply for citizenship under the newly enacted "law of grandchildren."

Spain has begun accepting citizenship applications from the descendants of people who went into exile after its brutal 1936-39 Civil War, part of a 2007 law meant to address the painful legacy of the conflict and the ensuing right wing dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco. But a new provision approved Friday also allows anyone whose parents or grandparents were born in Spain but went overseas because of their political beliefs or economic hardship to become Spaniards.

Those accepted do not have to renounce their current citizenship.


Officials in Madrid have estimated that as many as half a million people worldwide could be eligible to become citizens, although it is unclear how many of those are in Cuba. Some 300,000 people in Argentina alone may qualify.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wow..."Mad Props!"

Well, here you have it from the horse's mouth...well, the horse's brother's mouth.

In a speech Raul gave yesterday in Brazil, he let us all in on what he believes to be the Revolution's greatest accomplishment.

I'm sure the suspense is killing you, so here it is: Resistance.

"We resisted, I think that is the greatest accomplishment of our people, our greatest accomplishment; we resisted and we are here."

"Resistimos, creo que es el mérito mayor de nuestro pueblo, el mérito mayor nuestro; resistimos y estamos aquí..."

I mean really, so many things that he could've pointed to: healthcare, education, the international spread of revolution, etc with the typical responses.

But this is very telling. For Raul, the greatest thing to be accomplished is ideological resistance and existence.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Taking Applicants?

What a response...I know it is a politically sensitive question, but what a response...

Robert Wood, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC. December 15, 2008



QUESTION: Talking military, apparently, the Russians have just had some new initiatives here in the Western Hemisphere, especially bringing some of their ships into Cuba, I assume to Venezuela and possibly even to Nicaragua.

MR. WOOD: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What is your attitude with all this activity by the Russians? Do you see it as a payback for what we’re attempting to do with our missile shields in Poland and Czech Republic?

MR. WOOD: Look, we don’t have any problem – any fundamental problem with Russia having military relationships with countries of the hemisphere. I mean, that’s quite fine. You know, we have what I’d like to say is a very productive agenda in trying to help the region, democratize the region, bring economic prosperity. But in terms of Russia having military relationships with other countries of the hemisphere, that’s fine. I don’t think there’s any question about where the preponderance of military power comes from in the hemisphere, so, you know, it’s --

Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are...

OH!!!
Well, I hadn't bothered to check there...

According to an article in Penultimosdias.com, Carlos Valenciaga, formerly Fidel Castro’s personal secretary and head of his Coordination and Support Staff, has a new post working at the National Library, in the manuscript department.

Wonder if maybe he'll be writing one to let us in on some of the secrets?...you're right, probably not, but hey, it's a thought.

How the great do fall.

I have to wonder, though, if this is one of the reasons that Fidel's Reflections (once upon a time pet-named Valenciagas by more than a few Cubans) have changed so much recently.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yoani Questions Mariela

Yesterday Yoani Sanchez posted about her encounter with Mariela Castro...Yoani posed Mariela a very interesting question, basically, will the campaign and struggle to accept people's sexual preferences pass to other aspects and will there be a campaign for tolerance of people's political and ideological opinions?

Mariela responded that she doesn't know because she doesn't work in that area and that she thinks she's doing the best she can in her capacity...whatever that means.

Below is the video of the encounter:



The fact that she would say that she isn't political and therefore can't respond to a political question is somewhat odd considering the interview she gave to El Pais saying that she believes that in 15 years, Cuba will be a Socialist Democracy with more participation and more maturity.

Could it be that she is a reformer when her father is acting as such and when he's not, she' not?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Repressing at Home, Raul to Travel Abroad

According to Jesse Chacon, Venezuela's Minister of Information, Raul Castro will visit Venezuela on Dec 14th for a meeting of ALBA. This, before he is scheduled to visit Brazil, whose president said he wanted to be Cuba's largest trading partner, the 17th.

Raul will be leaving Cuba at a time where he will likely be getting some flack from the international community (of course not from the countries he will be visity) for the repression that occurred yesterday and is occuring today in Cuba.

There are various reports of police roundups throughout Cuba. Frances Robles has a nice overview in today's Herald, you can find it below.

Cuban police are detaining activists prior to Human Rights Day
Cuban activists are being stopped from attending Human Rights Day events in Havana, exile groups said.
BY FRANCES ROBLES

Up to a dozen human rights activists have been detained in Cuba in police operations apparently intended to keep them from attending Human Rights Day events in Havana on Wednesday, according to exile groups in Miami.

Wednesday's events are being organized to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Protests are planned by various Cuban dissident groups, including the Ladies in White organization formed by wives and female relatives of 75 dissidents and independent journalists who were rounded up during a 2003 crackdown on political dissent.

SECURITY AGENTS
The Federation of Latin American Women, a group that lobbies for an end to Cuba's dual currency, said Cuban State Security agents beat their members and broke one woman's hand.

''They did not even ask for identification,'' FLAMUR President Belinda Salas said in a statement. ``My husband Lazaro got such a beating that he was bleeding profusely through his mouth and head, plus he was struck hard on his testicles. . . . They ripped my blouse, leaving me naked, and the beating left me with a fractured hand.''

The incident occurred when several state patrol cars arrived in Havana's Vedado neighborhood, FLAMUR said.

The whereabouts of some who were picked up by police cruisers was unknown.

The Democratic Directorate, a Miami exile group that works with dissidents in Cuba, said they knew of about a dozen people in cities across Cuba that had been arrested since Monday.

Last year, the Cuban government launched a massive operation at bus stations, train stations and highways where dissidents were trying to catch rides to Havana Human Rights Day events. The operation illustrated how well Cuban State Security monitors opposition activities -- and how quickly they were able to snatch people up.

''Right now we have a list of people detained, and it's going to keep going up,'' said the Democratic Directorate's deputy national secretary, Janisset Rivero.

``We are not sure of all the details of what's going on, because every time we get someone on the line, we get cut off. They are cutting off communications.''

She said dissident doctor Darsi Ferrer had organized some kind of march in Havana. When Rivero talked to him, he said: ''I've got a big police operation in front of my house,'' and the call ended.

Arrests have taken place in Cienfuegos, Pinar del Río, Matanzas, Sancti Spiritus, Santa Clara, Placetas and Havana, she said. Among the detained is former political prisoner Jorge Luis García Pérez, known as ``Antúnez.''

WARNINGS GIVEN
Last week Cuban bloggers reported being taken to police headquarters, where they received warnings against attending a scheduled Internet bloggers conference.

''Amazing: They are violating human rights so people can't celebrate human rights,'' said U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutiérrez, who headed a Bush administration effort to prepare for Cuba's transition to democracy.

''I was reading about the crackdown on the bloggers, and I suppose that's all related. It reminded me of something like rounding people up because they are suspected of witchcraft,'' he said. ``It sounds so crazy and so out of touch with reality and so old-fashioned ---- old-fashioned like centuries ago.''

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Yoani Sanchez Quote

From Roger Cohen's NYT article (which is pretty good...up until the end in which he implies that Guantanamo should be given back)...

“You know, when a nation gets on its knees before a man, it’s all over. When a man decides how much rice I eat a month, or whether or not I can leave a country, that country is sick. This man is human. He commits errors. How can he have such power? Like a lot of people of my generation, I have willed myself to stop thinking about him, as a therapy. I think there will be relief when Fidel dies. We will breathe out. The mystical and symbolic weight of his presence is very heavy, for his opponents and even for his supporters. It’s hard to right his errors while he’s still there.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Opposition Member Sentenced to 3 Years

Julián Antonio Monés Borrero, from Baracoa, was arrested and tried for "attacking" a student of a military school.

The trial, held November 26, was a closed-door trial and lasted only three hours. The political police only allowed his closest family members to attend the farce.

On September 28th, Monés Borrero was wearing a shirt that said "CAMBIO." He was attacked by a man wearing civilian clothing who never identified himself. Reacting as any normal person would, Monés Borrero defended himself.

Since September 30th, he has been in jail, meaning he was held for nearly 2 months without a trial. He spent 40 days on a hunger strike protesting his arrest. Alas, the authorities paid it no heed.

The full article from Cubaencuentro is below:

Condenado a tres años de cárcel un opositor en Baracoa
Julián Antonio Monés Borrero fue acusado de 'atentado a la autoridad' por supuesta agresión a un estudiante de una escuela militar.
Redacción CE 02/12/2008

El Tribunal Municipal de Baracoa, Guantánamo, condenó al opositor Julián Antonio Monés Borrero a 3 años de cárcel, el pasado 26 de noviembre, por supuesto "atentado a la autoridad".

Monés fue acusado de agredir a un estudiante de una escuela militar, informó el sitio en internet Cubanet.

El activista de derechos humanos Rodolfo Barthelemy, citado por la publicación, dijo que vista se realizó a puertas cerradas, duró tres horas, y la policía política sólo permitió la entrada a los familiares más cercanos del disidente.

De acuerdo con el relato de los hechos, Monés, presidente del Movimiento de Derechos Humanos Miguel Valdés Tamayo y residente en Baracoa, se encontraba el domingo 28 de septiembre un centro recreativo con un pulóver que llevaba la palabra "Cambio" impresa, y fue agredido físicamente por un joven vestido de civil, que no se identificó. El disidente se defendió. Su agresor resultó ser un estudiante de una escuela de cadetes.

La esposa del opositor condenado, Matilde Duportal, dijo que en el juicio "quedó demostrado" que Monés "no cometió ningún atentado, puesto que ningún testigo que fue allí declaró que ellos vieron que el muchacho se identificó como oficial del Ministerio del Interior, ni que tampoco Julián le proporcionara ningún golpe (...) Quedó demostrado así también ante el abogado, quien demostró allí que habían hasta testigos falsos", dijo la mujer, informó el Directorio Democrático Cubano, son sede en Miami.

Según Cubanet, Monés Borrero, encarcelado el pasado 30 de septiembre, estuvo más de 40 días en huelga de hambre para protestar por su arresto.

El Directorio indicó que desde la noche anterior al juicio se registraron operativos policiales para impedir la asistencia de activistas de derechos humanos.

Varios disidentes fueron detenidos o puestos bajo arresto domiciliario. Efectivos de la Seguridad del Estado y de la Policía detuvieron a los opositores Roberto Ortiz y Francisco Manzanés en la noche del martes 25, según dijo Rodolfo Barthelemy, coordinador en Oriente del Comité Ciudadano contra los Malos Tratos.

El mismo día del juicio fue arrestado Keyber Rodríguez Fernández, presidente del Movimiento pro Derechos Humanos Juan Pablo II.

© cubaencuentro

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Kicking Off his Sunday Shoes

So, there has been some chatter about Raul's upcoming trips.

It has been confirmed that Raul will be traveling to Brazil for the Latin America and Caribbean Summit at Costa de Sauipe scheduled for December 17th.

It was in yesterday's Granma that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev extended an invitation to Raul to visit Moscow soon, word is he'll be going in January, but it's not official yet.

The Chinese also invited the Cuban President to Beijing...an invitation that would be very hard for Raul to decline since China is Cuba's 2nd largest trading partner.

Furthermore, Raul stated last week that he would be going to Venezuela in his first international trip since coming to power nearly 2 and a half years ago. Raul said "When do we have to go to Venezuela? I do not know anything. But if the nephew said that, we have to go and visit him."

So, it seems Raul will soon be Mr. Footloose. If Venezuela is to be his first trip, he will need to travel there before the 17th, when he is scheduled to be in Brazil. Although he could do both as two legs of the same trip. Which is what I'd expect to see for a Russia and China trip...and I wouldn't write Vietnam off while he's on that sojourn or India, who just donated 2 million USD to Cuba as hurricane relief.

Going further, I'd suggest that these trips he will soon be taking imply that Raul is feeling pretty comfortable at Cuba's helm.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Raul Warms up to Obama

Raul told Sean Penn (let's not get started on the fact that Penn was conducting an interview for The Nation, who had just met with Chavez in Venezuela before traveling to Havana) that he would be willing to meet with Obama on neutral territory, suggesting Guantanamo.

The Reuters report is below...I wouldn't take this too seriously as Obama is still the President Elect so this is all pretty preliminary, oh, and this was an interview by Sean Penn.


Cuba's Raul Castro open to meet Obama: report

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban President Raul Castro is open to meeting U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on neutral ground to try to resolve the island's four-decade-old feud with Washington, according to an interview with a U.S. magazine.

The interview for The Nation was conducted by U.S. actor Sean Penn, who traveled to Havana after meeting Cuban ally Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and before Obama won the U.S. presidential election on November 4.

"You asked if I would accept to meet with (Obama) in Washington. I would have to think about it. I would discuss it with all my comrades in the leadership," Castro tells Penn in the interview for a December 15 issue published on its website.

"Personally, I think it would not be fair that I be the first to visit, because it is always the Latin American presidents who go to the United States first. But it would also be unfair to expect the president of the United States to come to Cuba. We should meet in a neutral place."

Obama has said he will reverse the Bush administration's policies that restricted Cuban Americans visiting Cuba and sending cash to their families there. He is willing to talk to Castro but would keep the 46-year-old trade embargo as leverage to influence democratic changes in the one-party state.

"Perhaps we could meet at Guantanamo," Castro says, referring to the bay where the U.S. maintains a naval base, which Cuba considers a violation of its sovereignty.

"We must meet and begin to solve our problems, and at the end of the meeting, we could give the president a gift ... we could send him home with the American flag that waves over Guantanamo Bay."

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Che"--Good Enough to be Propaganda

Stephen Soderbergh's "Che" will be screened in the upcoming New Latin American Film Festival in Havana. According to this report, it was said in July that the movie would not be screened if it attacked Fidel in any way. How good to see that Soderbergh accomodated the Cuban government.

Say it with me now...BOYCOTT

The Reuters article is below.

Movie 'Che' to be shown at Cuba film festival

HAVANA, Nov 13 (Reuters) - "Che," the movie about Argentine Ernesto "Che" Guevara who fought alongside Fidel Castro in the Cuban revolution, will be shown next month in Cuba, the director of Havana's New Latin American Film Festival said on Thursday.

Ivan Giroud told reporters the movie, made by U.S. director Stephen Soderbergh, would be a special presentation not eligible for any of the festival awards.

Festival president Alfredo Guevara said in July that "Che" would not be shown if it included any "attacks" against Castro, the ailing 82-year-old who led Cuba for 49 years after taking power in the 1959 revolution. His brother Raul Castro replaced him as president in February.

Puerto Rican-born actor Benicio Del Toro played the role of Che, who was captured and executed Oct. 9, 1967, while trying to lead a leftist insurgency in Bolivia.

Del Toro won the best-actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where the film premiered.
The film was shot in Spain and Bolivia because, according to Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, the U.S. government, which has a 46-year-old trade embargo against Cuba, would not allow Soderbergh to make the movie on the Communist-led island.

Giroud said the film's principals would have to get U.S. permission to attend the showing.
He said the New Latin American Film Festival will show 114 films this year from countries throughout Latin America. (Reporting by Rosa Tania Valdes; editing by Jeff Franks and Todd Eastham)

The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming

Medvedev to visit Cuba: Kremlin
14 November 2008
Agence France Presse

President Dmitry Medvedev will visit Cuba later this month, the Kremlin said Friday, in Russia's latest move to fortify relations with outspoken US adversaries in Latin America.

Kremlin spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said the visit would take place on November 27 at the tail end of Medvedev's swing through the region that will also include a stop in Venezuela for talks with US arch-foe Hugo Chavez.

It will be the first visit to Cuba by a Kremlin leader since then-president Vladimir Putin went there in December 2000 nearly a decade after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba's Cold-War sponsor.

Though relations cooled dramatically during the 1990s as Russia reeled from the collapse of the communist economy and cut support for Cuba, the two countries have recently shown renewed mutual interest.

"Relations between Russia and Cuba are developing very dynamically," Medvedev said on Tuesday as he met the Cuban foreign minister, Felipe Perez Roque, at the Kremlin.

"We have moved past the pause of the last decade. Our contacts are very intense. Our relations are very friendly."

The Russian leader used the occasion to announce that Cuban leader Raul Castro, brother of Fidel Castro, would pay a visit to Russia next year.

News of the visit came as a flotilla of Russian warships led by the nuclear-powered destroyer Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great) was steaming toward Venezuela for joint naval exercises expected to coincide with Medvedev's visit.

Russian officials have said those manoeuvres, the first high-profile Russian naval presence on the United States' doorstep in generations, would take place sometime in late November.

Timakova said the Russian president would stop in Cuba after attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima followed by an official visit to Brazil and his stop in Venezuela.

She said the APEC leaders would discuss a range of issues focusing on economic and trade integration in the Asia-Pacific basin but also including talks on "important and current" security and stability issues there.

Russia has for years been quietly developing its relations with various countries in Latin America, notably Brazil and Venezuela, where cooperation deals have been struck on everything from agriculture to space exploration.

Russian media reported last Sunday that five Russian oil companies had taken equal shares in a deal to produce and refine Venezuelan oil, with the focus on a series of projects in Venezuela's Orinoco region.

A day earlier, the flamboyant Venezuelan leader said he was looking forward to signing nuclear cooperation agreements with Russia.

"Atomic energy. Technology for Venezuela. We are going to have atomic reactors, and they'll soon accuse us of building 100 atomic bombs," Chavez told a rally of supporters in Caracas.

He said Venezuela, one of the world's largest oil exporters, was interested in developing nuclear energy strictly "for peaceful purposes." cb/njc/mjs

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Minister of Foreign Investment Replaced

Marta Lomas Morales has been replaced by Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz as Minister of Foreign Investment and Economic Colaboration. This was announced in today's Granma (The notice is below, in Spanish).

They do not provide a reason for her dismissal, however, they do say it was a decision made by the Council of State ata the behest of the Polit Bureau of the PCC. The 62 year old was previously the permanent embassador to the UN.

Here is the Official Note:

El Consejo de Estado, a propuesta del Buró Político del Comité Central del Partido, acordó liberar del cargo de Ministra para la Inversión Extranjera y la Colaboración Económica a la compañera Marta Lomas Morales y en su lugar promover al compañero Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, quien culminó exitosamente su misión como Embajador Permanente de Cuba ante la ONU.

El compañero Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz es licenciado en Economía y ha ocupado importantes responsabilidades de dirección, todas con resultados positivos. Dentro del Ministerio para la Inversión Extranjera y la Colaboración Económica ha sido Especialista, Consejero Económico, Director y Viceministro.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Where's Waldo?

Fidel with Kiril Gundjaev when the Russian Orthodox bishop was visiting Havana last month. The photo was published on a Rususian Orthodox website. Granma had published a picture of Raul at the inauguration, it has not published any picture of Fidel meeting the bishop.

And just a few comments on Fidel:
1) He appears to be completely supporting himself on the arm of Gundjaev
2) He looks emaciated
3) His beard is increadibly thin
4) He has crazy eyes...not even looking into the camara.
and most importantly
5) It appears he's switched to Nike..."Just do it"...and to white, as it brings out his softer side.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Russians and Hurricanes

Not only has Paloma chosen today to visit, Cuba is also being visited today by the Vice President of Russia, Igor Ivanovich Sechin.

According to an article in today's Granma, Sechin is leading a delegation of high-level dignitaries and executives of important Russian institutions and businesses.

This as, according to another Granma article, Felipe Perez-Roque is in Russia, saying that Cuba and Russia should raise the level of their economic ties to that of their political ties. Is it just me, or is it getting a little Cold?

Closer

Strong cat. 4. Gusts at 170. 3rd major hurricane in a little over 2 months.


This will be nearly impossible to deal with. As a political note, it would be an excellent excuse for Raul to extend an olive branch to a new US administration.

Friday, November 7, 2008

PA-LO-MA

After having been devastated by 2 hurricanes earlier this year, it looks as though Cuba will be facing one more.

FYI--Hurricane season ends Nov 30.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Who's Going to Visit?

China's president Hu Jintao will be visiting Cuba this month. See the Reuter's article below for more info.

I have suspected for some time that Raul would turn to China for aid to become less dependent on Venezuela. It might happen more quickly than it would otherwise due to the plummiting price of petroleum and Venezuela's consequential potential inability to support Cuba's needs.

China's Hu to visit Washington, Cuba
BEIJING, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Chines President Hu Jintao will attend the G-20 summit of government leaders in Washington later this month, to discuss tackling the world financial crisis, before heading south to visit U.S. ideological foe Cuba.
The meeting may bring Hu's first chance to meet the new U.S. President-elect, but he will also face pressure for China to play a larger role in efforts to soften the impact of the worsening financial storm, particularly on the most vulnerable economies.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and others have called for countries with "substantial reserves", such as China, to contribute more to the International Monetary Fund.
Beijing has kept the door open to greater participation, with a vague yet positive offer last week to consider pitching in, but has not spelled out what it might expect in return.
After the Washington Summit Hu will head south to Peru for the meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news conference on Tuesday.
He will also pay state visits to Greece, Costa Rica and Cuba, where he will meet fellow Communist leader Raul Castro.
Castro may be hoping for Chinese help to weather the global financial crisis, which has come as a painful blow to the small island nation, already reeling from two powerful hurricanes and soaring import prices. (Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison and Liu Zhen)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Not Worth a Dime

The price of Nickel is down...









Way down.




Cuba holds 16 percent of the world’s nickel reserves and is currently the world’s sixth largest nickel exporter. In 2005, nickel export revenues totaled $1 billion. In 2007, the profit from nickel exports surpassed tourism profits with a gross of $2.2 billion.

However, with the price of Nickel having fallen by nearly 65%, from $34,000 to $12,000 a ton, Cuba's hard currency shortage will be even more severe than previously expected.

Who Was Chosen to Play with the Brazilians?


Today's Granma published an article describing a cordial visit between Lula at Raul. They brought some other government officials to the table as well.
It’s interesting to see who else was there from the Cuban side…specifically Lage, who was recently thought to be on the outs; Perez Roque, thought to be increasingly obsolete; and Cabrisas Ruiz, who has been taking an active role since being promoted to a VP of the Council of Ministers.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More on the USSR...scratch that, Russia ties

"The Cuban army air defences see planes taking off from Florida, but have nothing with which to shoot them down - the Osa fires to 45 km, the Kvadrat (Kub in the Russian version), to 25 km."

Yes, well, how good of the Russians to come to Cuba's rescue and finally allow them the ability to shoot down the planes they see take off from Florida. Until now, Cuban pilots have had to give chase to aircraft to shoot it down the old fashioned way, and Cuba just can't have that in this day-and-age.

Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring

Russian officers' Cuba visit seen portending more than just maintenance

[Liliya Biryukova, Denis Telmanov report: "Far-Off Air Defences, Nearby Missile Defences: Russian Military Officers Are Studying the Possibilities of Cuban Air Defences"]

A delegation led by Lieutenant-General Aleksandr Maslov, chief of staff of tactical air defence of the Armed Forces, flew to Cuba yesterday. As your Gazeta correspondent was told in the Ground Troops' press service, Russian officers will be on the island until 3 November and will meet with General Alvaro Lopez Miera, chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces Main Staff, and General Pedro Mendiondo Gomez, commander of air and air defence. "It is planned to discuss a consolidation of ties between the Armed Forces of Russia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba. There will also be an exchange of experience in the organization of the air defence of the troops and the training of officer personnel," the spokesman for the defence department announced.

The military officers will study the possibility of the instruction of Cuban officers in Russia in work with modern equipment. Representatives of the country's sole Armed Forces Tactical Air Defence Military Acad-emy (Smolensk) were included in the delegation to this end.

This is the first visit to Cuba of high-ranking Russian military officers since 2001, when the Lourdes base was closed. The MoD announced that it is of a purely technical planning nature involving the operation of the Igla manpad, the Osa-K and Kvadrat mobile SAMs, and the P-18 Terek and P-19 mobile radars in service with Cuba.

The P-19 sees an area in a radius of up to six kilometres and is a resource for the detection of low-altitude small and low-speed targets - helicopters and drones. The P-18 is capable of fixing a target at an altitude of 35 km at a distance of up to 250 km. The Cuban army air defences see planes taking off from Florida, but have nothing with which to shoot them down - the Osa fires to 45 km, the Kvadrat (Kub in the Russian version), to 25 km.

Nonetheless, the Russian command's attention to Cuba's army air defences is not fortuitous. It is such SAMs and radars that usually defend airfields and also other air-defence assets of greater range and power. The S-300 or S-400, for example.

Russian military experts believe that things will hardly be confined to maintenance of the old anti-aircraft guns on Cuba. Anatoliy Tsyganok, director of the Military Forecasting Centre, tied General Maslov's trip to the United States' plans to deploy missile defences in Europe. He believes that a natural consequence of this visit will be the appearance on Cuba of Russian planes, ships, and submarines. "It is likely that joint exercises will be planned for starters, after which we could be talking about arms deliveries," Tsyganok said.

Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, vice president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, believes that it is as yet too soon to be forecasting the consequences of the Russian air-defence generals' visit. "Down the road, possibly, Russia will attempt to restore the ports at which naval vessels can call," Ivashov told your Gazeta correspondent. "But direct arms deliveries would appear to me to be impossible if only because of Cuba's insolvency."

We would note that Deputy Premier Igor Sechin and Nikolay Patrushev, head of Russia's Security Council, were in Havana in August. They held talks with Raul Castro on the development of Cuban oilfields by Russian companies, and the press service of the Security Council subsequently announced that the leader-ship of the two countries intended to "work consistently on the restoration of traditional ties in all fields of cooperation and on their utmost expansion and intensification."

Lookin' Good


Raul was pictured on the front page of today's Granma. He is pictured here at the inaugural night of the 21st International Ballet Festival in Havana.
This should put an end to the rumors that have been swirling about his health. He looks pretty good for a man his age. He even looks like he has lost some weight.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blast from the Past

Ever slipped through a worm hole and ended up travelling 30 years into the past? Well, apparently Cuba did, oh and Russia too. Yesterday a Russian air-defense delegation started its Cuba visit.

"The Russian and Cuban military will exchange experience in organising tactical air defense and in training officers," said Russian Land Forces spokesman Igor Konashenkov. He also stated that there would be discussions to further bolster the ties between both air forces.

In the forward-looking spirit of Cold-War diplomacy, they will "study the possibilities of training Cuban military personnel at Russian academies and battleground air-defense training centres using modernized hardware of Russian production," says Konashenkov...But hey, at least their hardware will be modern!

During this time of an ebbing global economy, one would think that Russia, a huge oil exporter, might want to be a little tighter with its money. Cuba stands to benefit by increasing the satisfaction of its military personnel. Aside from that, however, it seems that building up Cuba's air defense is a truly pointless move. Who are you building it up agains? The US? Please...that's truly delusional.

So what is behind Russia's move?

I can think of a couple things.

1) Increasing military ties to Cuba and Venezuela, you create the illusion of regional instability involving 2 major oil exporters. Instability = higher prices. This could be a long shot in actually raising the price of oil, but hey, why not try.

2) Military ties with Cuba give Russia an important friend near its largest potential rival (I wouldn't say the US is currently a rival, but they could be in the future, so Russia is being forward thinking).

and 3) Of course, it also serves to anger the US, which Russia loves to do lately.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ricardo Cabrisas designated VP of the Council of Ministers

The title pretty much says it all...

Ricardo Cabrisas was born in 1937 and is Afro-Cuban. He had been a Minister of Government, having previously been Minister of Foreign Trade. He worked closely with Fidel and enjoyed his support.

I don't see the move as being too important on the face of things. He went from Minister of Government to one of the VPs...not that big of a shift. I think this could be Raul trying to placate some Fidelistas.

However, this could be a simple substitution. Osmany Cienfuegos has not been an active VP in years, but he had never been replaced. Although it has not been confirmed, that is likely to be the person Cabrisas is replacing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Namibia Donation

"Granma" just printed that Namibia will be donating $1,000,000 to Cuba. Namibia. Donating 1 million dollars.

The UNDP's 2005 Human Development Report indicated that 34.9% of the Namibian population live on $1 per day and 55.8% live on $2 per day. They are donating 1 million dollars.

Cuba has repeatedly denied US offers of aid, jeopardizing the welfare of its own people. To make up for the millions in hard currency and supplies that Cuba will not be getting from the US, other countries must step in and fill the void of aid being created by the Cuban government; some of the poorest countries feel obligated to donate their scarce resources.

It is unethical for the Cuban government to deny US aid and then have to accept aid from countries with a starving population.

I wonder how Namibians feel--you know, the third of the population that live in severe poverty--about their government donating $1 million dollars that could otherwise be going to them.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Raul Comes Out to Play


Nearly 20 days after Pinar del Rio and Isla de la Juventud were battered by hurricane Gustav and subsequently thrashed by Ike, Raul Castro FINALLY visited these devastated areas.

His audience appears to be happy to see him. Some suggest that this is because people view Raul as Cuba's executioner--literally and figuratively. They think he can get things done. He did, after all, establish the FAR, Cuba's most successful apparatus.

These devastated people think that if Raul is there, if the government is there, they will receive aid, and right now, that is all that they care about. For most, politics becomes a quick second to survival--if politics doesn't stand in the way of that survival, that is.

In this case, the sight of Raul Castro gives people hope (it must be really weird for him). Some expected that there might be riots, heckling, or at least some booing for all the time the people had to wait before Raul arrived, but there appeared to be none of that. Faults are quickly forgiven when there is hope for a better future.

But what of all the places he has not visited? Do they have hope? Will they receive aid? The government has already stated it simply does not have the resources to deal with this $5 billion catastrophe. Will these forgotten people feel abandoned, betrayed, or disregarded? and if so, will they just conform?

All my thoughts point to a 'yes.' A Freedom House survey, taken in April, says that most of their respondents stated that so long as their living situation was not as difficult as it was during the Periodo Especial, that they would simply conform.

On a brighter note, though, Raul might feel forced to institute reforms at a faster pace than he has been. Unfortunately, these reforms will likely deal exclusively with economic decentralization and increased economic freedoms. On a larger scale, though, any freedom from the government is a step in the right direction.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cuba Says "NO"

The US increased its no-strings-attached offer from $100,000 to $5 million and the Cuban government hastely refused it, instead insisting that the US lift, at least temporarily, its embargo on Cuba and give Cuba access to credits to purchase much-needed food and reconstruction supplies.

Having said "no" to the US indicates the government's unwillingness to put the Cuban people first. Raul's administration is showing profound similarities, to Fidel's by chosing to play politics at a time like this...the only problem for Raul is that he is not nearly as good as Fidel when it comes to playing politics. By chosing to emulate his brother instead of walking his own path, I believe Raul condemns his himself. Hopefully, he will not at the same time condemn the Cuban people (more than they've already been).

Cuba rejects U.S. aid, asks embargo rules be lifted
Posted on Mon, Sep. 15, 2008
BY FRANCES ROBLES
frobles@MiamiHerald.com
Cuba has rejected a $5 million offer for relief assistance from Washington, saying it cannot accept help from a country with an economic embargo against it, and instead renewed its request to allow the communist country to make purchases with credit.

In a statement made public Monday, the Cuban government asked Washington for a six-month reprieve on embargo rules that prohibit the communist country from making purchases from American companies, saying devastation from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike make it critical.

Washington and Havana have been embroiled in a diplomatic dispute over hurricane aid since Hurricane Gustav smashed into western Cuba on Aug. 30. Washington offered $100,000 and a humanitarian assessment team, and the Cuban Foreign Ministry answered by saying what it needed was purchasing credits.

Havana sent a second, more harshly worded note last week when Washington made the same offer after Hurricane Ike devastated eastern Cuba. The statement released Thursday called U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutiérrez a hypocrite, and said U.S. diplomats were cynical liars.

Washington's decision to limit the offer to $100,000 was criticized in some circles, who noted that the U.S. government normally spends millions in such disaster relief.

On Saturday, U.S. diplomats met in Washington with Cuban counterparts, and upped the offer to $5 million.

''We regret that they have not accepted this offer,'' State Department spokeswoman Heide Bronke said. ``We are considering Cuba's request to purchase other reconstruction materials on case by case consistent with U.S. law.''

United States law allows Cuba to make cash agricultural purchases, but does not allow Cuba to buy with credit. Cuba's request for a six-month reprieve would likely require an act of Congress.
Cuba's diplomatic note Sunday, released Monday, takes a much softer tone.

''The Cuban Interests Section in Washington wishes to communicate to the government of the United States that our country cannot accept a donation from the country that blockades us, although it is willing to purchase the indispensable materials that the North American companies export to the markets, and requests authorization for the provision of same, as well as the credits that are normal in all commercial operations,'' the statement said.

``If the government of the United States does not wish to do so permanently, the government of Cuba requests that at least it do so during the next six months, especially if the damage caused by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike is taken into account, as well as the fact that the most dangerous months of the hurricane season are still ahead.''

Last week Gutiérrez said the Cuban government is behind on payments to many of its creditors, and suggested that the request for credits was a pretext.

''Do they really want us to extend their credits?'' he said.

Recaps of Destruction

Dispute delaying U.S. aid to Cuba
A diplomatic confrontation has mired efforts to provide aid for the victims of Hurricane Ike in Cuba, and many say U.S. assistance is falling short.
Posted on Fri, Sep. 12, 2008
BY FRANCES ROBLES
frobles@MiamiHerald.com

"Diplomatic spat slows U.S. storm aid to Cuba
In contrast to millions of dollars in relief aid sent to Haiti, the U.S. government has funneled just $100,000 to Cuba so far -- even as reports surface that the communist country's hurricane wreckage is far worse than the Castro government is letting on.
Cuba suffered island-wide destruction when Hurricane Ike smashed buildings and homes in 169 municipalities coast to coast. A new report by a Miami-based group made public Thursday indicates that 537,000 homes were damaged across the island, and 3.2 million people remain without power.
Haiti, also hit in the past weeks by a devastating string of storms that left hundreds dead and one million homeless, has received $20 million in U.S. aid.
The funding discrepancy comes as a diplomatic spat between Cuba and the United States mires relief efforts.
Although the U.S. government said Cuba's refusal to accept a disaster assesment team prevents it from doing more, criticism against Washington is beginning to mount."

Cuba says sugar cane damaged across country
HAVANA, Sept 12 (Reuters) - "Hurricane Ike flattened 156,000 hectares of Cuban sugar cane and flooded more when it churned along the island for two days this week, state-run radio reported on Friday.
Cuba harvested 330,000 hectares of cane during the 2008 harvest, producing almost 1.5 million tonnes of raw sugar.
There are 700,000 hectares devoted to sugar cane in the country.
The president of the Cuban sugar technicians said the preliminary figures would no doubt increase as workers gained access to plantations where roads were washed out. (Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by John Picinich)"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How You Can Help



The Federation of the International Red Cross will be sending aid to Cuba. They started a petition for $5.8 million USD to support operations in Cuba as a direct responce to hurricanes Gustav and Ike.


These funds will be used to support 8,000 families that have been devastated by either, or both, hurricane for the next 9 months.


The IFRC has issued a press release, where you can find more information. The page for donations is here.


It is a time to be generous. Cuba has been completely devastated from not one, but two hurricanes. There are rumors that during preparations for Gustav, the government distributed food from stores for people, and now there is nothing. Certainly this would only be in Western Cuba, but if it is true, it would likely have been repeated during Ike in the East.


Our Cuban brothers and sisters need our help; it is time for us to offer it without regard to politics.
Las Hijas de la Caridad are also petitioning for supplies to send to Cuba. They are asking for primary necesities like powdered milk, canned salchichas, dry beans of any variety, and cooking oil. Donations can be taken to 500 NW 63 Ave. Call 305-266-6485 if you would like more information.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Declaration from Consenso Cubano about Hurricane Gustav

As we all know, Hurricane Gustav demolished many parts of Cuba. Cubans are in dire need of aid. Policies in place by both the US and Cuban governments make then sending and receiving of such aid difficult. In this light, Consenso Cubano has issued a declaration about what it has agreed should be done during these trying times.

Declaration of Consenso Cubano

Regarding the Present Humanitarian Emergency in Cuba
In relation to the disaster caused by Hurricane Gustav and the possibility this situation can get even worse during the present season, Consenso Cubano declares the following:

1) Consistent with the foundational Pillars of Consenso Cubano, we consider ourselves called upon to extend unconditional and generous solidarity to our sisters and brothers on the island, guided exclusively by a humanist and humanitarian spirit.

2) We call on Caritas, and other institutions that enjoy credibility before all parties, to assum the leadership in these works. We also call upon the rest to offer their support in obtaining the donations and to facilitate the deliveries and distribution. No one should attempt to politicize the aid.

3) Inspired by our Humanitarian Agenda for the Cuban Family, we identify ourselves with and wholly support the initiatives soliciting the President of the United States to lift, at least temporarily, all U.S. restrictions that could impede these humanitarian efforts and create difficulties for affected families to communicate and support one another.

4) We solicit the Cuban Government to lift, at least temporarily, all restrictions in place that could hinder or impede these humanitarian efforts and impose difficulties for affected families to communicate and support one another. We also ask that, in the same manner, they support the gestures of Caritas and other humanitarian organizations without reserve, accepting their disinterested donations, taking any other measures that further this solidarity among Cubans.


With the highest spirit of national unity, we exhort all sectors of the Cuban Diaspora to further these humanitarian gestures. We ask all Cubans, everywhere, along with all peoples of the world, to do the same.



September 2008
Miami, FL. United States

Gorki! Gorki! Gorki!

As we know, during to Pablo Milanes concert, many of Gorki's friends started shouting his name, after which they received blows from State Security. Well, although no video of that has yet been made public, Yoani has posted a link on her blog to a youtube clip of audio from that moment. About two minutes long, it is long enough to get some sense of what was occurring.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gustav's Wrath Unfolds









The damage left by Hurricane Gustav is slowly beginning to unfold. As reported in today’s Granma (www.granma.cubaweb.cu), Pinar del Rio’s Provincial Defense Committee's preliminary assessment reveals that 120,000 homes are without roofs or have otherwise been severely damaged…that’s more damage than the last four hurricanes to have hit Pinar del Rio, total.

Restoring energy to Pinar del Rio will also be challenging, with 80 electric towers and 600 electric posts down. The situation is actually worse in Isla de la Juventud, which is completely without power. ''100 percent of the electrical grid is damaged,'' de la O (head of Cuba’s electric company) said. ``Totally destroyed.'' Officials have said that it may take over a month to restore power to the island.

Thankfully, no casualties have been reported. Homes have been demolished. Places of work have been crippled. The damage is evident now, but it might be even more evident in the future. The agricultural sector (the prime target of Raul’s reforms) has been severely damaged by Gustav. For the data on the damage to this sector, see Juventud Rebelde’s article on the subject: http://www.juventudrebelde.cu/cuba/2008-09-02/lo-que-la-bestia-no-arraso/

The only place to go from here is forward. Obviously, Isla de la Juventud’s electric grid will need to be completely rebuilt. This is actually something that ALL of Cuba needs. This catastrophe is forcing the government to do things that it should have done ages ago, which is a good thing. Maybe they’ll take the initiative with other provinces.

For now, the Cuban people face a monumental clean-up effort and also a monumental task of trying to recuperate their losses in the agricultural sector. Let us keep them in our hearts, minds, and prayers.

The Cuban people are strong, they have endured 50 years of totalitarian rule, they will certainly be able to survive this.

Friday, August 29, 2008

GORKI IS FREE!!!!!!!!!


Pic: Rui Ferreira

GORKI! GORKI! GORKI!

GORKI IS FREE!!! Yes, free.

I just spoke with him to confirm. He is happy, at his house celebrating his release with his friends (and, oh yeah, giving interviews...I'm sure he has ten billion people begging to interview him).

This is simply amazing. I can't think of the last time that a person went before Cuba's political courts as a defendant and then went home.

Gorki sends a huge "thank you" to everyone for their support, along with un abrazo.

He seems to be in excellent spirits.

It looks like he'll just need to pay a fine of 600 pesos.

I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart. Everyone who helped made a tremendous difference. Every signature placed, every call made, every status updated, every blog posted...they all made a difference, they all spread the word.

I congratulated Gorki by telling him that he had won. He corrected me, he said that we all had won.

Thank you for all your help. You made a difference!

Un fuerte abrazo,
Vanessa

Click here for more picks of Gorki at trial and after he was let go.

Gorki's Trial Update 1

Gorki's trial, scheduled for 8:00 AM today, has been delayed. The government pushed it back, to be held lataer in the day, after 2 other trials.

Many of the hundred and some bystanders have left, now about 40 remain, standing outside the courthouse. Those 40 consist mainly of Gorki's friends and foreign press. Let's hope they stay.

Gorki's Dad has been assured that Gorki's lawyer is there, so that is no longer a question.

Penultimos dias has more info: http://penultimosdias.com/2008/08/29/9546/#comments

Gorki's "Trial"

At 8:00 AM today, Gorki Aguila's trial was supposed to have commenced.

After the spectacle of last night's repression against those who publically supported Gorki (click here for more info from Yoani Sanchez: http://www.pornopararicardo.com/noticias/lo-que-paso-en-el-concierto-segun-yoani-sanchez.html), maybe the regime is feeling a bit of unease about the whole thing. As of 8:30, the trial had still not started.

The courthouse was filled with over a hundred people: Gorki's friends, bandmates, and father; reporters, dignitaries, and dissidents joined the audience as well. The area around the courthouse was allegedly also teaming with reporters.

There is a possibility that they have moved the site of Gorki's trial to avoid commotion.

Let's keep Gorki in our hearts and minds today and hope that the regime might change theirs.

Below, find an article from Cuba Encuentro expanding on the situation of Gorki's trial.


Última Hora: Dudas sobre el juicio a Gorki Águila
Agencias 29/08/2008

Media hora después de lo previsto, el juicio contra el roquero Gorki Águila se mantenía en la incertidumbre, informaron a CUBAENCUENTRO.com testigos que se encuentran frente al Tribunal Municipal de Playa, en Ciudad de La Habana, donde debe realizarse el proceso.

Según las fuentes, en el lugar se ha congregado al menos un centenar de personas, entre las que se encuentran diplomáticos y corresponsales extranjeros, miembros de la disidencia interna, personas del entorno de Porno para Ricardo y curiosos.

Varios detenidos han sido llevados ya al tribunal para procesos distintos. Sin embargo, en el momento de redactar esta información Águila aún no había sido trasladado.

Las fuentes han especulado sobre la posibilidad de que las autoridades hayan decidido realizar el juicio en otro sitio.

El Tribunal Municipal de Playa está ubicado en la Calle 94, esquina a Quinta B, de Miramar.

http://www.cubaencuentro.com/es/cultura/noticias/ultima-hora-dudas-sobre-el-juicio-a-gorki-aguila-108459

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

PPR at Their Finest

"El General" Live at their clandestine concert this past December

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0iVq49Pa9k

Open Letter to Pablo Milanes

An open letter to Pablo Milanes has been written to appeal for the release of Gorki Aguila, lead singer of Cuba's most rebellious band, Porno Para Ricardo.

Gorki is supposed to go to trial tomorrow and his father has been told he'll face between 1-4 years imprisonment.

After all Gorki has done, let us not let this go unnoticed. Please sign this letter if you agree with it. Gorki needs our help! Let us not sit in silence. SPEAK OUT!

Here is the link to the letter: http://penultimosdias.com/

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

GORKI ARRESTED, PLEASE HELP



Gorki Aguila of Porno Para Ricardo is one of the only Cuban artists to constantly speak out against the regime and its faults, hypocrisies, and abuses. He has been arrested previously, serving about 2 years. He was released under conditional liberty. That didn’t prevent him and his band from releasing its most scrutinizing CD. Now he is under a constant threat from the Cuban government; he has been arrested again. Let’s not let this go unnoticed. His father was told that on Thursday, Gorki will go before a judge and that he faces between 1-4 years in prison. The only reason he was released before is because there was a large public outcry.Please send this on so that others can join the outcry. Gorki needs our help!Please see the article below for more information.

FREE GORKI!
(cobardía y represión)
http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r=5091133&msgid=150300&act=SRKR&c=145661&admin=0&destination=http://www.pornopararicardo.com/noticias/free-gorki.html

Hace pocos minutos la policía castrista detuvo a Gorki Luis Aguila Carrasco, leader de la banda Porno Para Ricardo en su casa, cuando se disponía a grabar las últimas canciones del proximo disco de la banda.

Ciro, el guitarrista del grupo, siguió al auto policial en bicicleta hasta la estación donde los esbirros de la dictadura han llevado a Gorki, que no se encuentra bien de salud, y que se disponía a hacer un esfuerzo para grabar los temas pendientes.Gorki tiene una inflamación en los pulmones y falta de aire, y fue sacado de su casa por un policía que dijo cumplir órdenes del delegado del poder popular, un tal Jesús y sin orden de arresto, en el mejor estilo comunista.
En la mañana del sábado estuvimos hablando e intercambiando ideas sobre el diseño de la portada del disco y opiniones sobre algunos de los nuevos temas, además de algunos detalles relacionados con la producción de este álbum, el website de la banda y haciendo chistes.Naturalmente, la creación artística independiente en Cuba se premia solo con persecuciones y órdenes de búsqueda y captura por parte de la policía de la dictadura.
El testimonio de Ciro:
Cuando nos disponíamos a empezar a grabar tocan la puerta. Gorki abre y desde el cuarto escucho, "¿Usted es el Ciudadano Gorki Aguila?" era un policia que le pidió que lo acompañara, el preguntó por qué y el policía le dijo que él solo cumplía órdenes.
El policía se dirigió a él siempre en buena forma. Yo los seguí al sector de policia y esperé en la esquina para por si les daba por cargar conmigo también y no quedara quién avisara.Cuando se fueron me acerque al sector de policia y estaba allí el mismo que lo vino a buscar, le pregunté que para donde lo habían llevado y el me dijo que para la estación de 3ra y 62 llamada popularmente la 5ta.
De regreso me encontré con el padre de Gorki que al enterarse se puso muy nervioso y fué a la 5ta a averiguar por su hijo.
Esto no es nada nuevo. Como los aficionados recordarán, se fabricó ya una vez un caso en contra de Gorki, que fué arrestado bajo cargos falsos y condenado a cuatro años de prisión. En aquella ocasión se filmaba Habana Blues y el régimen mantuvo a Gorki encarcelado impidiendole de participar en la película sobre la nueva música independiente y underground de Cuba. En realidad, el delito de Gorki es solo uno: tener los cojones necesarios para denunciar los atropellos de la tiranía contra el pueblo cubano y la ilegitimidad del régimen heredtario impuesto a Cuba.
Esto no es mas que la continuación del acoso al cual ha sido sometido Gorki por parte de la policía y el delegado del Poder Popular, que cuenta con la colaboración de vulgares chivatos barrioteros. Hace solo dos meses, el 17 de junio, Gorki fue llevado a una estación policial por el mismo delegado del Poder Popular, quien lo amenazó con la cárcel por su conducta "antisocial", de un modo bastante gangsteril como quedó recogido en la la grabación clandestina que hicera Gorki de esa citación policial, en la cual tambien puede escucharse su elección de seguir con su arte y el rechazo a la pretensión del delegado a que firmara un acta de peligrosidad.
Este nuevo episodio de acoso y persecución ocurre justo cuando Porno Para Ricardo se encuentra en medio de la grabación de su nuevo disco, lo cual elimina cualquier posibilidad de que este escalamiento represivo pueda calificarse de coincidencia?. En Cuba, la voz de los valientes es silenciada por el régimen, que no vacila en utilizar intimidación y fuerza.
Por tanto, y en consonancia con el clima de opresión que reina en Cuba -según nos informa el padre de Gorki- lo tendrán detenido hasta el jueves, hasta que le hagan un juicio por peligrosidad y la condena que le impongan puede ser de uno a cuatro años. Ese es el precio de vivir con valentía, pensar por si mismo, y de hablar sin pelos en la lengua.

Por favor distribuyan esta noticia a todas sus listas de correos, blogs, programas de radio y televisión.

¡Que liberen a Gorki!

¡Free Gorki!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Subliminal Message?

Is Granma preparing the island for the day Fidel is finally 6 feet deep? I enjoyed the irony of this, thought maybe you all would too.

Ampliar

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The UN Turns the World on its Head

Miguel Alfonso Martinez, a Cuban diplomat, has just been promoted from president of the Cuban Society for International Law; he will now preside over the UN's Advisory Committee to the Human Rights Council (HRC).

It is apparently not bad enough for Cuba, with its approximately 234 political prisoners (depending on the day, since Cuba has taken a fancy to arresting dozens of its opponents at a time, only to release them later without much of an uproar from the international community) to comprise part of the Council, the UN felt that the largest human rights violator per-capita in the hemisphere ought to head its reformed human rights arm.

The HRC's predecessor, the Committee for Human Rights was largely seen as insignificant and discredited, at best. At worst, it was corrupt and a puppet of human rights violators across the globe. The new and improved HRC is not proving to be far different.

It is only until the UN can fully comprehend and act upon the fact that human rights issues such as the perpetual incarceration of innocent human beings affects people and families and societies and does not serve as a political tool, that it will ever be truly respected.

For the UN to have constructed the HRC so that Cuba can take the helm of and shield itself with the very agency that is supposed to help civilians deal with brutal dictatorships (yes, among other things), is ridiculous. Furthermore, it is insulting. The daily Hell faced by 234 Cuban brothers and sisters is not an issue for political hankering. It is not something to be glossed over simply because Cuba educates its citizens.

Human rights are universal...at least I think that was the gist of the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS. It is time for the UN to take itself seriously and stop condoning the evil actions of its member states.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Hunger Strike in Holguín Prison

Four political prisoners inside the Provincial Prison of Holguín have declared themselves to be on a hunger strike. Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta began his hunger strike July 18th and Alfredo Domínguez Batista, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, and Luis Mariano Delís joined him on the 21st.

Please see the following link for an article with more information: http://www.miscelaneasdecuba.net/web/article.asp?artID=16447

Vice Minister of Fisheries Arrested for Corruption

Yesterday, Cuba Net (www.cubanet.org) released an article by José A. Fornaris which stated that Cuba's Vice Minister of Fisheries has been arrested, suspected of corruption.

With all the corruption that takes place in Cuba, one has to wonder if there is something more to the arrest of Jesús Benjamín. It is possible that they want to make an example of him, God knows Raul has been harping on the subject of corruption. I wouldn't rule out the fact that maybe they just wanted him out, or maybe he wasn't playing by the political rules Raul wanted.

Benjamín was arrested by State Security Agents, not by the police. He is currently under house arrest as the investigation into the allegation continues.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Raul's Final "Resting" Place

Although he hasn't died, Raul has already made the location of his tomb public, unlike his brother, who has died politically. Upon his death, Raul will be cremated and his ashes placed in the mausoleum for the combatants of the 2 Eastern Front, which he led. The ashes of Vilma Espin, his (ex?) wife, are currently located there.

This, according to an article (http://www.elnuevoherald.com/noticias/america_latina/cuba/story/252606.html) by Rigoberto Diaz.

This was just so random, I felt I needed to share. They are really going to need some hefty security around there.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

He's Still Second...At Least on Paper

I received clarification from the Cuban government about whether Raul was First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

The e-mail states that their "Commander and Chief, Fidel" (shocking, since that is a title that Raul now has), is still First Secretary and that Raul is still Second Secretary.

So much for that little news item. But at least now we know that Fidel is First Secretary (at least in title).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Look at the new Council of Ministers

I realized that not much attention has been paid to Cuba's new Council of Ministers. Raul announced just one change to it: Jose Ramon Machado Ventura would be the new First Vice President. But not much else has been said about it.

I must say that this might be because not much has changed. There have been 3 (4 if you count the fact Fidel isn't heading it up) changes in its structure:

1. As previously mentioned, Machado Ventura, who was not in the Council of Ministers, is the new First VP
2. Otto Rivero Torres, also not previously a member, is a VP
3. Wilfredo Lopez Rodriguez, formerly a Minister of Government, is no longer part of the Council of Ministers.

I find it interesting that the Council of State was changed far more than was the Council of Ministers. It's possible that Raul had more of a say in the constitution of the latter beforehand. Although maybe he's just waiting to make more changes. I don't know why he wouldn't have made them already, though.

Just wanted to leave some brief observations from today.

Oh, and to echo a point I've made before: keep an eye on Rivero Torres. He's young (39) and is part of the Councils of State and of Ministers and is also part of the Central Committee of the PCC.

First Secretary + Second Secretary = Third Secretary?

Ok, so, I'm getting over my tremendous shock at just having visited the Cuban government's website, http://www.cubagob.cu/,and seeing them list under Raul's titles: Primer Secretario del Comité Central del PCC (First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party). The PCC's website still has Fidel listed as First Secretary, though. So, take it as you will. I think it's further evidence that Raul is the one who is completely at the helm.

But to hedge my bets, I'm just going to call him the Third Secretary.

Here are the links:

http://www.cubagob.cu/gobierno/cur_min.htm

http://www.pcc.cu/pccweb/secretariado.php

Friday, July 11, 2008

Worth a Thousand Words:




Yesterday Raul presided over a joint meeting of the Polit Bureau and the Council of State. As we can see, seating arrangements were allotted ahead of time, and where people are sitting can tell us quite a bit.

Quite noticeably, the first two rows of people look like they just limped out of a geriatric ward. Most of the women have been relegated to a back corner, not even having a clear view of el Nuevo Comandante. Blacks, with the exception of Esteban Lazo Hernández and Pedro Sáez Montejo (I could be wrong on this ID), have been relegated to the back of the room. So much for Cuba’s supposed sexual and racial advancements.

I just want to point out a few key people who have been talked about quite a bit. Carlos Lage, who many (yes, me too) have been thinking is taking a decreasingly important role in the government, made it into the front row. So, I’m going to have to readjust my stance on his prominence in the government. Maybe he’s being more low-key because he is taking after Raul’s lead, whereas before, he could have been trying to please Fidel.

Alarcon is in the 2nd row, but I don’t think this is too much of a knock to him, especially since he’s seated next to Ramiro Valdez, who we will hopefully never see moved into the first row.

The person who has most obviously fallen from grace is Felipe Perez Roque, who is seated all the way in the back of the room (and is yawning, worried, or sleeping). I wonder what a body language expert would say about his body language.

Additionally, I don’t think that I need to point out the obvious, but I will anyway: There’s one person missing from the Polit Bureau…say it with me…F. I. D. E. L. He’s probably still alive, but politically speaking, he’s already a corpse.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mariela's Response:

This is Mariela's response to criticism of Cuba's reaction to a gay rally, mentioned in the post below.

Mariela Castro califica de 'montaje infeliz' una marcha gay convocada por grupos independientes
Redacción CE 8 de julio de 2008
Respuesta de Mariela Castro a Pierre Assalian
"Todos conocemos que las campañas contra Cuba son financiadas y organizadas por el gobierno de los Estados Unidos, utilizando grupos terroristas y organizaciones inventadas a última hora para poder justificar ese financiamiento y desviar la atención sobre la mayoría de los fondos que se quedan en los bolsillos de sus organizadores. ¿Ha leído sobre estos escándalos? Un mecanismo habitual para ello es crear la noticia y vendérsela a diferentes agencias y órganos de prensa, con el fin de hacer notar que el dinero asignado fue empleado 'adecuadamente'…".
"Algunos reporteros de la prensa extranjera acreditada en Cuba me comunicaron que recibieron la orden de los directivos de sus periódicos de no publicar más noticias sobre los avances sociales de Cuba en el campo de los derechos de la comunidad LGBT, por presiones recibidas expresamente de diplomáticos norteamericanos. Por eso tal vez no conoce todo el trabajo que estamos haciendo para promover los derechos sexuales de la población LGBT, del intenso y extenso programa que realizamos en toda Cuba alrededor del 17 de mayo, de nuestros esfuerzos en el campo legislativo. Sin embargo, se alarma con esta noticia inventada y políticamente manipulada para justificar los fondos que recibieron estas organizaciones, provenientes del programa de gobierno norteamericano para desacreditar a Cuba, con la ostentosa intención de desacreditar el trabajo que estamos realizando".
"He recibido cartas de activistas gays, lesbianas y transgéneros que viven en Cuba y en el extranjero y están indignados con esta noticia. En primer lugar, porque esas organizaciones en Miami son profundamente homofóbicas y nunca se ocuparon de los derechos de homosexuales cubanos ni cubano-americanos. En segundo lugar, porque no van a permitir que ninguna organización radicada en el exterior decida por ellos. En tercer lugar, porque todo ha sido un montaje infeliz: no hubo marcha porque nadie los apoya, nadie se les enfrentó, nadie los reprimió, no hubo un solo policía en los alrededores y no hubo ningún detenido. La prensa extranjera nos comunicó que había sólo 6 personas en el referido parque y ninguno era LGBT, ni siquiera supieron explicar la problemática LGBT en Cuba cuando la prensa les preguntó, por eso no fueron suficientemente cubiertos por los medios de prensa extranjera convocados, quienes sufrieron una gran decepción al descubrir que se trataba de un show burdo y mal montado. En fin, fueron ignorados".
"Lamentamos que las agresiones a nuestro trabajo desde el exterior empiecen a ser cada vez más desesperadas (…) Nosotros seguiremos haciendo y mejorando nuestro trabajo, con el pleno apoyo de la comunidad LGBT de Cuba y de muchos amigos en el mundo…".
* Pierre Assalian
President Professionnal Development of AMPQ
President - 17th World Congress of Sexology
Advisory Board Member WAS
Associate Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, McGill University
Executive Director Canadian Sex Research Forum
Cubainformacion, España6 de julio de 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What Would Mariela Say?

So much for all the talk of Cuba's emerging sense of gay rights...I must say, I definitely saw this one coming...

Cuba's Gay Pride Parade Canceled

Havana - Cuba's first Gay Pride parade was abruptly canceled Wednesday, before it even began.

The unofficial march, organized with Florida's Unity Coalition, was not sanctioned by Cuba's National Center for Sex Education, which is headed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of President Raul Castro.

Activist Mario Jose Delgado announced the cancellation of the march moments before it was to start Wednesday at a park in Havana. He said two organizers who were to deliver a set of demands to the Justice Ministry were detained one day earlier. Delgado said he has no details of the arrests.

"The president of the Cuban League Against AIDS and the president of the Foundation LGTB Reinaldo Arenas in Memoriam have been arrested," Delgado said. "They were to be here with our written demands but now we cannot carry out our activity."

Click here for the rest of the article: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/cuba/sfl-0625,0,7044420.story?track=rss

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Frank Delgado "La Isla Puta"

A fantastic performance:

Sweet and Sticky

It seems that sugar production has finally started to increase, something that has not happened since 2003, when the sugar industry decreased from 156 mills to 66 mills.

"HAVANA, May 26 (Reuters) - Cuba will meet domestic demand for refined and raw sugar this year, the official media said over the weekend, after importing 200,000 to 300,000 tonnes of low-grade refined sugar from Brazil and Colombia in recent years.

"Sugar Ministry specialists assured me all the raw sugar for the domestic economy, as well as refined, was secure, that it has already been produced," Cuba's top sugar reporter Juan Varela Perez said at the weekend on his regular radio spot."

So, yes, this is the government saying these things, so who knows if it's actually true. But assuming that it is true, this may mean good things for Cuba's future, economically speaking. The sugar industry has been getting a great deal of government attention of late. High sugar prices and soaring ethanol prices have made the sugar industry a great place to invest, and the government has actually paid attention and made some good decisions, which is a positive step.

Now, we should also note that Raul has been paying close attention to the agricultural sector (or rather, letting the central government NOT pay close attention to it), making it his principle place for any major reforms. One can see a significant (relatively speaking) decentralization in Cuba's agricultural sector, signifying that Raul understands that the central government's stranglehold on the economy does not benefit Cuba's industries, and more importantly to Raul, it does not benefit him.

A year down the line, if the sugar industry improves further, and other agricultural industries that have been partially decentralized also improve output and efficiency, Raul would be hard-pressed not to expand the decentralization outside the agricultural sector. Cubans are demanding economic change (yes, many are demanding far more than this as well) and they will soon see that decentralization is the key. If Raul sees his future tied to the contentedness of the Cuban people, as I think that he does, he will have to further loosen the government's iron clasp on the day-to-day affairs of the Cuban people.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Red Herrings in Duke

This weekend I attended a conference held by Raices de Esperanza, at Duke. I am glad to say that I met many wonderful people who have their hearts full of good will and the desire to help Cuba be free. It was a great experience and I thank all who were involved in making it happen. I have many positive things that I can say about it, but honestly, most have been said at the conference and so I don't think we can learn from my simply repeating them. I feel obliged to speak candidly about one of the negative aspects of this conference so that, just maybe, next time, we will stop repeating our mistake...it is a mistake that has been made by the exile community for about 5 decades now.

Far too much of this conference was spent on the red herring that the Castro regime has dangled in front of the exile community for the past 50 years, the one that we keep biting and getting hooked onto: the embargo and its surrounding politics. Conference participants literally spent hours "discussing" (it was more like: "hey, this is my long-winded opinion," and "hey, you're stupid and a communist and now you have to listen to my ridiculously long-winded opinion" and then "hey, you're stupid and here is my long-winded opinion that doesn't begin to address your argument because I wasn't even really listening to you..." and "hey, you're stupid..." you see my point I hope) the merits of the embargo, the merits of the travel ban, the politics behind them. They also spoke about political candidates and who they endorsed and other such irrelevant things. Maybe I'm being a little harsh, maybe they are not entirely irrelevant, but they certainly are brought up during a panel titled "Understanding the Opposition." Politics has its place, and it is not omniscient.

This was supposed to be a conference about Cuba and how to better aid it, not one focused on US-Cuba policy. The conference had a sub-focus of "yesterday, today, and tomorrow." The present and future that I saw at this conference was a bit disheartening. It seems to me that we are falling into the same trap that the Cuban-American community has been falling into for years. We are getting entangled by reaching out for that red herring. We could put it aside, we could focus on our similar desires and our one goal of a free Cuba and what we can do to help bring it about. Instead, we spend hours bickering over something we don't have any control over anyway.

If something can be learned from the past, it should be that when we have been divided we have failed. Until we learn this lesson and unite behind our common cause, our todays will likely be like our yesterdays, and our tomorrows will remain unchanged. I remember this quote that I saw on a poster in a classroom, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten." I sincerely hope that we will wake up from this repetitive nightmare we have created for ourselves.

Keep Gorki Free

Hi all,
Gorki Aguila of Porno Para Ricardo (PPR), Cuba's most controversial and pro-freedom rockers, has again been harassed by the police, given another citation. Of course, this is after his having served time in prison after being arrested in April 2003. He was finally released under conditional liberty after having served nearly 2 years in prison. Well, upon his release, he went right back to work producing excellent music with an excellent message. (To read more about Gorki and the wonderful band he's a part of, check out their website: http://www.pornopararicardo.com/).

Well, PPR has managed to do a lot recently. They've released a couple new albums and possibly the first public song written about Raul Castro, which has come with a great deal of media attention, including Gorki being on many international radio and TV shows. They have also managed to have a secret concert in Havana (http://youtube.com/watch?v=y0iVq49Pa9k). Now, the regime really doesn't like for a freedom-loving person to gain so much publicity, and they have been doing what they can to try to put some fear back into Gorki. Let's keep his name in the news and in our conversations and give him so much name recognition that he becomes untouchable. Let's make sure they can't send him back to the misery he once suffered unjustifiably.

Check out the story (in Spanish) below to see the latest way they are harassing him and his bassist Hebert, and what Gorki has to say about it. (From www.Pornopararicardo.com)

Continúa la represión contra el grupo

La represión comunista está llegando de nuevo a la puerta de nuestro amigo Gorki, y también a la puerta de Hebert, el bajista de la banda.

Gorki nos escribe y nos dice que :

"Una vez más a mi me han citado a la policía para no perder la costumbre de su politica de acoso y de intimidación, el motivo esta vez fue el mismo de siempre, parece como si quisieran que me fuera del pais o coaccionarme de alguna u otra manera. También a Hebert el bajista lo ha ido a visitar un tipo del Minint con el pretexto de una entrevista. Hebert se ha asustado y ha venido a contarme. Quiero que si es posible pongan esto en la web como modo de noticia y denuncia".

Naturalmente que le damos la noticia a todos, amigos, fans, y también a enemigos y que hacemos responsables a las fuerzas represivas de la dictadura por cualquier cosa que pueda suceder a Gorki, a Hebert y a los otros miembros de la banda o sus familiares. Ya es algo habitual que a personas que pacificamente se oponen al gobierno cubano se les intimide y presione para abandonar el país. La policía presta sus unidades y estaciones a la seguridad del estado -que no es mas que la policía política del régimen- para que sus miembros citen a los que en el argot represivo se conoce como los "problemáticos y pensantes" para "cordialmente invitarlos" a abandonar el país. La presión se ejerce con intimidación, amenazas de cárcel y a veces veladas amenazas en contra de los familiares.

Si uno de los miembros de Porno Para Ricardo se pincha un dedo con la espina de una rosa, ya sabremos quienes son los responsables. Ahora los quieren empujar al mar, con la esperanza de que desaparezcan.

Leer más...

A raíz de esta noticia, aprovechamos para hacer un homenaje póstumo al regguetonero Elvis Manuel quién desapareció cuando la embarcación donde escapaba de Cuba se hundió.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Interview with the CJM (in Spanish)

So, I know that I've been MIA of late...my apologies...I've been incredibly busy with work, school, and Cuba activities. One of these Cuba activities is mentioned below--the teleconference with youth in Cuba. It was a tremendous success that was very necessary. The people we spoke with were very vocal in their displeasure with the regime and they saw us in a very positive light, as we see them (of course). So, anyway, read away.

And I will be posting again soon.


Entrevista a lideres de la Coalición Juvenil Martiana
Álvaro Yero Felipe

8 de abril de 2008
La Habana
www.PayoLibre.comDado al interés despertado en Cuba y en el exilio por la tele conferencia efectuada el pasado 18 de marzo entre jóvenes de la Coalición Juvenil Martiana (CJM), desde un lugar de La Habana, y estudiantes de la Universidad de Miami, Edgar López Moreno y Yuri Pérez Vázquez, presidente y vicepresidente respectivamente de dicha coalición y participantes de la actividad, accedieron a ser entrevistados.


¿Que importancia le conceden a este encuentro, entre ustedes y miembros del grupo CAUSA?


Yuri Pérez Vázquez (YPV): Para nosotros fue muy estimulante contactar con un prestigioso académico de la talla del Dr. Andy Gómez y estudiantes cubano-americanos del grupo (CAUSA), que a pesar de su lamentable destierro conservan sus raíces y han asumido un compromiso patriótico.


Edgar López Moreno (ELM): Considero significativo el establecimiento de este nexo, pues abre un espacio de colaboración e interacción entre los jóvenes cubanos en pos de la libertad de Cuba.


¿De los temas abordados cuales consideran de mayor relevancia?


CJM: Apreciamos como esencial el tema del conflicto generacional y político existente en Cuba, que fue reflejado por la prensa con total claridad. Además señalamos la frustración de la juventud, la formación de un liderazgo juvenil y la necesidad de la cobertura mediática.


¿Que resultados tangibles arrojó la tele conferencia?


YPV: Bueno, arrojó una prometedora asistencia académica de parte del Instituto de Estudios Cubanos y Cubano-Americano de la Universidad de Miami (ICCAS, por sus siglas en ingles), que nos aportará las herramientas cognoscitivas para la formación de los recursos humanos imprescindibles en el proceso de transición.


ELM: También un muy buen resultado fue el nacimiento de una relación de colaboración entre nuestras organizaciones que facilitará el flujo de información dentro de la juventud cubana y la búsqueda de estrategias comunes para la CJM y el grupo CAUSA en el exilio.


¿Esperan la reedición de eventos similares?


CJM: Por supuesto que sí, de hecho ya estamos organizando un próximo encuentro, y aspiramos a realizar estas actividades con otras Universidades u otras organizaciones juveniles.


¡Muchas Gracias!