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 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?


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


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)