Russian Spy Ship Targets U.S. Nuclear Submarines, Then Heads to Cuba

Friday, September 4, 2015
Throughout the year, the Castro regime has continued to host and harbor Russian spy ships tasked with monitoring sensitive U.S. defense networks.

It even did so while Obama's negotiators were in Havana. Talk about bad faith.

Since Obama's "normalization" of relations with Castro began, repression has increased and its rogue activities remain undeterred.

So why exactly are we pumping billions into Castro's monopolies -- for absolutely nothing in return?

Well, apparently other than for Castro's military and intelligence services to have more resources to repress and damage U.S. interests.

From The Washington Times:

U.S. shadows Russian ship near nuke submarine bases

U.S. intelligence ships, aircraft and satellites are closely watching a Russian military vessel in the Atlantic that has been sailing near a U.S. nuclear missile submarine base and underwater transit routes, according to Pentagon officials.

The Russian research ship Yantar has been tracked from the northern Atlantic near Canada since late August as it makes its way south toward Cuba.

Defense officials familiar with reports on the Russian ship say the Yantar is believed to be gathering intelligence on underwater sensors and other equipment used by U.S. nuclear submarines based at Kings Bay, Georgia. The submarines, their transit lanes and training areas stretch from the coastal base through the Atlantic to Europe.

Intelligence analysts believe the ship, one of Russia’s newest military research vessels commissioned this year, is part of a larger strategic intelligence-gathering operation against U.S. nuclear missile submarines and other targets.

One official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity owing to the sensitivity of the information, said the ship is a concern because it is equipped with deep-sea surveillance craft and cable-cutting equipment.

In addition to cutting or tapping into undersea cables, the Yantar’s gear also could be used to rescue submarines if they become entangled in underwater cables.

A second defense official said the Yantar’s mission is not only to prepare to disrupt underwater communications. The ship is also part of a Russian underwater reconnaissance program to identify undersea communications trunk lines and nodes.

A major target of the program is the Department of Defense Information Network, known as DoDIN. Moscow is seeking to map the global information network that is vital for U.S. war fighters and policymakers and is a key target of Russian information warfare efforts.

The network includes dedicated military links as well as leased communications and computer systems.

Quote to Remember: On the China Model

Chinese and Tibetan dissidents are either locked up in prison, forced into hiding, or silenced by fear of police retaliation against their families. All the happiness about China's economic growth has made many Americans forget that police clubs and guns and the Laogai system keep the Communist Party in power. Moreover, it is still little recognized how American resources help to sustain that power through trade, investments, and the transfer of technology... It is only when the Laogai is abolished in China that real change will come about.
-- Harry Wu, founder of the Laogai Research Foundation, who spent 19 years imprisoned in Chinese forced labor camps.

Cuban Troops Participate in Military Parade in Beijing

From Xinhua:

Cuban troops join military parade in Beijing

Cuban troops joined the Chinese military parade in Beijing, with Cuba's first Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel attending the event. Analysts say Cuba's participation in the commemoration underlines the fact that China is one of the island nation's most important strategic partners.

A contingent of Cuban troops were among the thousand or so foreign troops from some 17 countries who joined their Chinese counterparts for the giant military parade through Beijing. Cuba’s First Vice President, Miguel Diaz-Canel also attended the event. Cuba declared war on the Axis powers after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. A close US ally at the time, Cuba was involved in anti-submarine patrols and in escorting Allied convoys through hostile Caribbean and Atlantic waters.

Cuba was never involved in the Pacific theater, but the government here felt it was important to have a military presence in Beijing for the 70th anniversary victory parade.

"It underlines the fact that China is one of Cuba’s most important strategic allies, together with Vietnam and Venezuela. So as we advance in better relations with the United States it’s only natural that Cuba would like to underline, hey guy, yes I want a good relations with the United States but our real good friends are in Beijing,” international affairs analyst Carlos Alzugaray said. Cuba’s military has developed strong working relationship with the Chinese armed forces. In June of this year General Fan Changlong, vice chairman of Central Military Commission visited Cuba, signing a series of cooperation agreements.

A Cuban Political Prisoner Writes Pope Francis

Thursday, September 3, 2015
The following letter was courageously smuggled out of the Cuban prison of Quivicán:

To His Holiness Pope Francis

First of all I would like to convey my highest respect and admiration and to wish you God’s blessings throughout your whole tenure as pontiff.

My name is Osvaldo Rodriguez Acosta and the purpose of this letter is to let you know that there are indeed political prisoners in Cuba, and that I am one of them, and am confined in Quivicán Prison.

I will begin by informing you that on September 23, 2012, my family and I were victims of an illegal police attack in our own home. This attack was led by Alberto Álvarez Rivero, a lieutenant colonel of the political police known as State Security, who destroyed the door to my house and entered it, in violation of the law, including Article 56 of the Constitution of our Republic, which declares everyone’s home inviolable.

Alberto Álvarez Rivero was assisted by several policemen who immediately began to attack all of us who were there: me and my wife, Juana Castillo Acosta, and our two sons, Osvaldo, who is twenty-five years old, and Christian, who is twelve. While they were carrying out this arbitrary attack, Alberto Álvarez Rivero launched into a rabidly aggressive assault on my wife and my youngest son, who were beaten without mercy and left unconscious on the floor, along with me and my oldest son.

Afterwards, we were taken by other military personnel to the municipality of San José de las Lajas, where three of us were imprisoned for more than three months without any contact with the outside world. My youngest son was placed in the care of my mother after the assault on our house.

In March 2013, at the provincial Popular Tribunal of Mayabeque, in a trial manipulated by the political police, we were unjustly condemned. My wife was sentenced to five years of correctional labor. My oldest son was sentenced to seven years in prison, and I was sentenced to nine. We were all found guilty of violent behavior, an ironically reversed charge the Castro regime levels routinely against those dissidents who are the victims of its violence.

I have been tortured four times in prison. The torture has been carried out with impunity by Norge Biscet, Aroidi Lores Rodríguez, Silva y Giovanni, all of them military personnel, but the Military Prosecutor refuses to bring them to trial, despite the fact that there is ample evidence to condemn them, including documents that describe the wounds inflicted on me.

My youngest son Christian has been psychologically traumatized to such an extent by this experience that he has not been able to attend school since 2012. He lives in constant fear of being attacked again and is in desperate need of being reunited with his family and of overcoming his trauma.

Your Excellency, may Our Lord allow you to expose the injustices to which we are subjected and to demand that we be freed immediately, especially because we have not committed any crime. My family and I thank you in advance for any effort you may make toward freeing us.

Osvaldo Rodriguez Acosta

Translation by Professor Carlos Eire in Babalu Blog.

The image below is of Osvaldo Rodriguez Acosta on September 23rd, 2012, pursuant to being beaten by Castro's secret police:

Cuba's Regime is Unrepentant, Its Crimes Are Ongoing...

By Dr. Yleem Poblete in The National Review:

The Castros Are Unrepentant, Their Crimes Are Ongoing, and They Do Not Deserve Forgiveness 

In October 1953, Cuban Communist guerilla Fidel Castro faced charges for leading the failed attack on the Moncada barracks. He defended himself with a four-hour-long speech concluding with: “History will absolve me.” Has it? Has the Castro regime been exonerated of responsibility for its crimes? The apparatchiks have not changed. Yet President Obama announced on December 17, 2014, that he was unconditionally reversing U.S. policy toward the Communist dictatorship. 

A concerted U.S. effort has since been under way to whitewash the Cuban dossier. Most recently, the administration reportedly manipulated the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report to justify upgrading the regime’s status and to create the illusion of Havana as a responsible stakeholder. Full diplomatic relations have been restored, numerous economic restrictions have been eased, and more U.S. concessions are expected. These steps, according to Secretary of State John Kerry, are rooted in a decision “to stop being the prisoners of history and to focus on the opportunities of today and tomorrow.”

With the Holy See playing an integral role in this U.S.–Cuba rapprochement, will the pontiff follow Washington’s lead and also wipe the slate clean? Will the Holy Father provide political absolution to the Havana tyranny and Communist-party leadership during his visit to Cuba? Do the elements exist that would justify forgiving their crimes?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the sacrament of forgiveness requires “contrition, confession, and satisfaction.” Contrition requires the sinner to possess deep sorrow for past offenses against God and neighbors. The sinner must be firmly committed to amend his evil ways and resolve to sin no more. In the case of Cuba, the dictatorship does not detest the more than five decades of murder, torture, arbitrary arrests of human-rights dissidents and political opponents, or infanticide using Rivanol (among other methods). Quite the opposite.

Raúl Castro’s words and deeds since December 17, 2014, are boastful and strident in defense of Communism and the totalitarian system that his brother started and he continues. The Castro machinery is stained with the blood and tears of prisoners of conscience and human-rights defenders. The regime shows no remorse for past acts. In fact, it gave a hero’s welcome to a convicted Cuban spy who was complicit in the murder of innocent Americans. It still harbors wanted terrorists, killers, and other fugitives. Injuries continue. Thousands of men and women of all races, ages, and backgrounds, seeking to exercise their fundamental rights, have been beaten and arrested in just the last eight months.

Turning to the other elements necessary for forgiveness, the Catechism, citing the Council of Trent, further instructs that sinners, in addition to having a contrite and humble heart, must “confess with the lips” and practice “fruitful satisfaction.” It continues: “One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm. . . . Simple justice requires as much.” The penance “must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed.” In the case of other egregious offenses committed by the Castro regime, such as confiscation of private property and goods, the Catechism references the sinner’s “return of stolen goods” and “compensation for injuries.” Saint Augustine’s maxim underscores that “the sin is not forgiven unless what has been taken away is restored.” On all fronts, whether mortal or venial sins, Cuba’s Communist leadership has not taken steps to “make amends” or “expiate.” Instead, the apparatchiks have gone to great lengths to avoid accountability, shifting the blame to their victims.

The five-plus decades of heinous crimes carried out, knowingly and willingly, by Fidel and Raúl Castro, by the regime and its party machinery, are particularly grave in nature. There is no contrition, no public acknowledgment of transgressions, no atonement. Pope Francis should not grant political absolution or forgiveness. Instead, he should remind representatives of the Havana tyranny of Proverbs 14:19: “The evil shall fall down before the good: and the wicked before the gates of the just.”

Shrouded in Silence, Cuban Religious Leader Spends Six Months in Prison

The Castro regime recently punished Reverend Jesús Noel Carballeda with six months in prison -- without trial or charges -- for holding "authorized" religious services.

We challenge anyone to find a story in the mainstream media over the last six months raising Reverend Carballeda's imprisonment.

Or by John Kerry's entourage to Havana last month, including former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, U.S. Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

Or by farm bureaus, lobbyists and business groups.

Just imagine how good people of faith in Iowa, Arkansas, Georgia and throughout the American heartland, would react if they knew about these egregious attacks on religious freedom by the Castro regime.

From Christian Solidarity Worldwide:

Reverend Carbadella Released From Prison

Reverend Jesús Noel Carballeda, a 45 year-old Cuban pastor of an unregistered church in Havana who had been imprisoned for six months for holding unauthorized religious services, was released on 31 August.

Reverend Carballeda was detained in early February and imprisoned in the Valle Grande prison in San Antonio de los Baños outside of Havana. He does not appear to have been tried, but while in prison he was informed by government officials that he would be held for six months as punishment for his continued unauthorized religious activity.

Reverend Carballeda was previously imprisoned in 2000 for four months after militant communist neighbors filed legal complaints about church services he held in his family home in Marianao, Havana. Following his imprisonment, he was put on probation and made to check in with the authorities on a regular basis. While he was barred from holding any religious activity in the family home he continued to lead his church, holding services in parks, rented halls and other private homes.

Reverend Carballeda's church is linked to the Apostolic Movement, a fast growing network of protestant churches which the Cuban government has refused to register. Because the religious group is unregistered, all of the affiliated church's activities are technically illegal and they are unable to apply for permits for a designated place of worship. In March, Reverend Carballeda’s wife told CSW: "We do not want to bother anyone. We just need a place to worship. We are forced to meet in the open air, in parks or rented rooms as [the authorities] will not give us legal recognition."

The detention of Reverend Carballeda is part of a larger crackdown on religious freedom in Cuba over the past few years. In 2014, CSW documented 220 separate cases of religious freedom violations, up from 185 in 2013 and 120 in 2012. Unregistered religious groups have been a particular target of government repression, with religious leaders reporting harassment, fines and threats of confiscation or destruction of property. The case of Reverend Yiorvis Bravo Denis, a leader in the Apostolic Movement whose home was arbitrarily expropriated by the government in 2013, has been filed with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, petitioning for precautionary measures.

U.S. Embassy Re-Opened Amid Record Political Arrests in Cuba

Wednesday, September 2, 2015
The Cuban Commission for Human Rights (CCHR) has documented 768 political arrests by the Castro regime during the month of August 2015.

That is the highest number of political arrests over the last 15 months and higher than any monthly average over the last 10 years.

These are only political arrests that have been thoroughly documented. Many more are suspected.

According to CCHR: "In the months that have passed in 2015, we have observed a deterioration of human and political rights in Cuba (the worst in the Western Hemisphere), while the [Cuban] government has not taken a single significant step to improve the situation."

Meanwhile, the Observatory for Human Rights in Cuba independently documented 913 political arrests by the Castro regime during the same period -- of which 462 were women.

Sadly, this took place during the same month that Secretary of State John Kerry visited Havana for the flag-raising ceremony at the U.S. Embassy.

It was at this event that Cuban dissidents were shunned by the Obama Administration.

A message Castro clearly noted.

Moreover, this repression took place under the noses of the Kerry entourage -- including Members of Congress, journalists, lawyers, lobbyists and unscrupulous businessmen.

All of them were -- wittingly or unwittingly -- oblivious to Cuba's tragic reality.

This is "what change looks like" in Cuba.

Remarkable Cuban-American Congressional Unity

Yesterday's announcement by U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), that she will support President Obama's deal with the Iranian mullahs, (sadly) ensures that it will prevail against any Congressional effort to reject it.

It is the 34th vote necessary for the Senate to sustain President Obama's veto.

Despite a $50 million lobbying campaign by pro-Israel groups against the Iran deal, the Obama Administration was able to overcome this strong challenge by strategically dividing Jewish-American lawmakers.

Facing a setback due to opposition from U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), it immediately countered with the support of other Jewish lawmakers, including U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); but most importantly, of the longest serving Jewish member of Congress, U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI), and U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who represents the most Jewish district in the nation.

One can't help contrast this with the remarkable unity shown by Cuban-American lawmakers against President Obama's deal with the Castro dictatorship.

In the Senate, Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), couldn't differ more on domestic policy.

Yet, there's no daylight between them when it comes to Cuba policy.

In the House, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) represent the only two majority Cuban-American congressional districts in the nation.

Their enormous popularity among their constituencies speaks for itself.

Also, in the House, there's Albio Sires (D-NJ), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Alex Mooney (R-WV).

Reinforcing such unity, among partisan, generational and regional lines.

It is also reflected at the state level, where both the Florida and New Jersey legislatures have passed resolutions rejecting Obama's deal with the Castro dictatorship.

In Florida, the resolution was led by Republican legislators, while in New Jersey, it was led by Democratic legislators -- all Cuban-Americans.

It's also why opponents of Cuba sanctions obsess with push-polls -- and are constantly pushing them (pun intended) -- for the ultimate and only reliable poll (the ballot box) continues to reject their theories.

These sanctions foes want policymakers to ignore all Cuban-American elected officials -- and instead believe their push-polls.

Something akin to -- "elecciones, para que?"