Delahunt Arrogantly Insults Latin Americans

Saturday, September 5, 2009
Yesterday, U.S. Rep Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts and U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida debated U.S. policy towards Honduras in PBS's Newshour with Jim Lehrer.

During the debate, Delahunt condescendingly referred to Latin American countries as "banana republics."

"Banana republic" is a pejorative term used to stereotypically refer to the post-colonial, undeveloped, agricultural based economies of Latin America, with corrupt cliques, and uneducated and subservient populations.

Historically, it was a term used to justify American interventionism in Latin America, as U.S. politicians looked down on the region, judging it as backwards.

Congressman Delahunt then proceeded to blame the region's woes on "economic elites," regressing the debate to a class-warfare jargon more akin to a Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

This is quite ironic coming from the Congressman that represents Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard -- "champagne socialism" at its finest.

Regardless of your views regarding the situation in Honduras, such labels are degrading to all Latin Americans, and is reminiscent of the pompous arrogance that has translated throughout the years to abuse and discrimination.

Such pejorative terms may seem fine over sailing and martinis in the Vineyard, but they're insulting to all Latin Americans.

Congressman Delahunt owes us an apology.

Here's the transcript of the debate:

MARGARET WARNER: So, Congressman Delahunt, explain why you think the United States should be supporting Zelaya, who did act certainly extra-legally, or so the supreme court and the congress and Honduras both said?

REP. BILL DELAHUNT: Well, Margaret, I find it somewhat amusing that many of my colleagues on the Republican side must have gone to law school in -- in Honduras, because it would appear that they're constitutional scholars.

But let me be very clear. The -- the request or the initiative by Zelaya was not to extend his term. The question that was going to be on the ballot was a nonbinding referendum for the people of Honduras to decide simply this question: Should there be a constituent assembly?

That was it, pure and simple. I think we have to understand the context of Honduran politics. It's been a country that has been ruled by an economic elite. And, with all due respect to the elections that have been held down there, that economic elite exercises disproportionate influence in that democracy.

In the past -- and I dare say at times now -- it would be fair to describe Honduras as a banana republic.

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN: Oh, my gosh.

REP. BILL DELAHUNT: We can't go backward.

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN: What an insult. What an insult. That is...

REP. BILL DELAHUNT: We -- well, you can...

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN: Shame on you, Bill.

REP. BILL DELAHUNT: Ileana, let me -- please, don't say that.

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN: A banana republic, that's just great. What an insult to the Honduran people.

REP. BILL DELAHUNT: Well, you don't think that -- well, let me -- let me ask you this, OK? You would not, in the past, describe Honduras and other Central American and Latin American countries as banana republics?

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN: No, absolutely not. And I think that's an insult to the people of Honduras.

REP. BILL DELAHUNT: Then I dare say that you don't -- you're not that familiar with Latin America.

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN: It's an insult to everyone in Latin America to...

MARGARET WARNER: All right, let me interrupt.

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN: ... to -- to label any country as a banana republic.

REP. BILL DELAHUNT: Well...

Enchantment with Fidel Castro?

Letter to the Editor of Caribbean Net News:

Dear Sir:

I am baffled at Caribbean political and opinion leaders enchantment with Fidel Castro. I am baffled as to why his commentaries are even considered for publication in a free journal such as yours. His people cannot read whatever you may publish of his opinings. For that matter they cannot read anything else you publish unless the do so illegally. I sometimes fear that the other Caribbean leaders would like to have such devastating powers over their people. This does not bode well for the pockets and economies of the the Caribbean masses.

These leaders and other take refuge in sayings such as: Cuba has great educational and medical systems. So what? Mussolini made the trains run on time. Hitler brought back much needed pride and discipline to German society. The lesson is not just what a leader has accomplished, but to what end has he accomplished it? Is it to create efficiencies to further oppress peoples and to aggregate power and allegience to himself? Or is it to increase the well being and productivity of the governed? Castro has done his "good" things for the former reasons. He oppresses those who oppose him. He forbids internal criticism and jails those who organize against him. Yet he gains praise and adulation across the Caribbean. Why? Because he gives a few hand outs.

Those Caribbean leaders who praise Castro should be ashamed of themselves. Where else in the world can a white man and a few white elites control a population of majority Blacks and let them live in utter abject poverty? Only in Cuba today. Fidel is white with no black ancestors. The vast majority of the Politburo is white with about three token Blacks. Black Cubans are rlegated to the most menial jobs and can obtain few jobs in the valued sectors such government or tourism. Many Blacks pass for white so the can obtain economic and social benefits. The majority of political prisoners are blacks. Yet no voice rises up to cry like they justly did with South Africa. The vocal praise the only white leader that is oppressing majority Blacks today. They should be ashamed.

John North
St Patrick's, Grenada

Taking Notes From North Korea?

Friday, September 4, 2009
North Korean Foreign Minister, Pak Ui Chun, met with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez, today in Pyongyang.

According to North Korean state media, Pak said "the traditional friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries are now growing stronger."

Meanwhile, Rodriguez stressed that, "the Cuban people are following with keen interest the Korean people foiling the moves of the U.S. imperialists for aggression."

Pak was tenderly received by Cuban dictator Raul Castro during a May 2009 visit to Havana.

Family Visits Remain Restricted (by Castro)

As the Treasury Department rolls out new regulations implementing President Obama's campaign promise to allow unlimited family visits and remittances to Cuba, a federal judge awarded a $27.5 million judgment against the Castro regime to the mother of a journalist imprisoned and tortured since 2003.

U.S. District Judge Alan S. Gold ruled this week that Olivia Saludes, the mother of imprisoned journalist Omar Rodriguez Saludes, should get compensatory and punitive damages from Cuba and its Communist Party.

In the opinion, Judge Gold wrote:

"During his imprisonment, he has been beaten, starved, given poor food, placed in solitary confinement and deprived of medical treatment. I have no doubt that the acts of the Cuban government are intended to oppress those in Cuba who seek to freely voice their opinions."

Why is this pertinent?

Because Olivia Saludes, who came to the U.S. in 2000 as a political refugee, has been denied requests by the Castro regime to visit her son in Cuba since 2003 -- not by the U.S. government, but by the Castro regime.

Of course, this is not new. For decades, the Castro regime has only granted visas to Cuban-Americans that they deem "non-threatening," even if they were born on the island. This is in direct contravention of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which states that "[e]veryone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."

(The Castro regime doesn't allow Cubans to leave the island without prior authorization and hefty fees either.)

From the deceased Cuban music legend Celia Cruz, who was denied a visa by Castro to attend her mother's funeral in Cuba, to artists and athletes that have defected, to human rights activists that courageously condemn the regimes atrocities, to any person the regime considers "ideologically deviant." They have all been, and continue to be, forbidden by the Castro regime from visiting their families as punishment for their views and vocal discontent.

In other words, the regime even seeks to silence critics abroad, keeping family members on the island as hostages.

It's imperative that the Obama Administration challenge the Castro regime to lift its family travel restrictions.

The Cuban people deserve reciprocity.

Vocabulary of Normalization (With Tyrants)

Thursday, September 3, 2009
According to Reuters, Britain did not want to offend Libya by excluding the Lockerbie bomber from a prisoner transfer deal and was told his death in jail would damage the "normalization" of relations with Qaddafi, official documents showed.

The negotiated release -- for the sake of "normalization" -- of Libyan terrorist Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, responsible the death of 270 people in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, has caused outrage.

"I do not believe that it is necessary, or sensible, to risk damaging our wide ranging and beneficial relationship with Libya [by excluding al-Megrahi from a prison transfer deal]," British Justice Minister Jack Straw wrote in the documents.

As a rule of thumb, "wide ranging" and "beneficial relationships" with brutal dictatorships should always cause concern and raise alarm bells.

For example,

"All of us are convinced that President Castro would like normal relations and would see normalization, ending the embargo, as beneficial to both countries. It was a very good meeting. It was very open and we discussed a wide range of issues,"

-- U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee of California, chair the Congressional Black Caucus, during an April 2009 visit to Cuba.

Any questions?

Let's Play... Name that Country!

What country is this person talking about?

"All the sanctions by the U.S. and E.U. will directly hurt the military junta, the generals, and their cronies. It will not hurt the ordinary people, because all the economic business, all the big industries are in the hands of the generals and their relatives. No other, ordinary people have a chance, or they have no rights to participate in the economic sectors."

Cuba?

North Korea?

Burma?

The European Union (E.U.) mention probably gave it away, as the E.U. only has direct sanctions towards one of these three countries.

That's right, it's Burma.

It was made by Zin Linn, spokesman of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, Voice of America, August 27, 2009.

Nonetheless, the statement applies identically to any of the world's three remaining totalitarian regimes.

Amnesty Misrepresents Cuba Policy Facts

Amnesty International is lobbying the Obama Administration -- through an unfortunate misrepresentation of the facts -- to unconditionally lift sanctions towards the Castro dictatorship.

In a report released yesterday, Irene Khan, Amnesty's secretary-general, stated "the U.S. embargo against Cuba is immoral and should be lifted. It's preventing millions of Cubans from benefiting from vital medicines and medical equipment essential for their health."

However, Ms. Khan downplayed that the sale of food products, medicine and medical equipment from the U.S. to Cuba is legal under the 2000 Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act ("TSREEA").

Therefore, any shortage of medicine and medical equipment in Cuba is due to the failed policies of Cuba's dictatorship, not U.S. policy.

Since the enactment of TSREEA, the Castro regime has been able to muster almost $3 billion to purchase a variety of "food products" from the U.S., including daiquiri mix for its beachside tourist resorts (the Cuban people certainly haven't been the beneficiaries of these "food products"), yet barely designate any money for medical purchases.

The Amnesty report blamed this on end-use monitoring requirements for medical sales in current law, but fails to mention that any monitoring -- when applicable -- can be performed by independent non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations, or even religious and charitable groups.

Unfortunately, the real reason for the billionaire investment in "food products" versus medicine by the Castro regime lies in the grassroots lobbying that such purchases have "bought" the regime from farm bureaus and agricultural trade associations throughout the country. It's not a coincidence that the regime has strategically "spread the wealth" across 32 U.S. states, while systemically signing "advocacy agreements" with local agricultural interests. These agreements subject sales to lobbying Congress for the unconditional lifting of sanctions towards the Castro regime, in particular credit and tourist travel.

Amnesty also conveniently omits that the U.S. provides more humanitarian aid to the Cuban people -- most of which consists of medicine -- than the rest of the world put together.

Policy issues aside, Amnesty's current designation of 58 jailed Cubans as "prisoners of conscience" for their peaceful opposition to the Castro regime is commendable. As such, it should consider ramping up its lobbying and public relations efforts to gain access to Cuba's prisons, in order to secure the unconditional release of those 58, and account for thousands of others being detained for "dangerousness."

It would be a 2-for-1, as the lifting of U.S. sanctions is legally conditioned to the release of these prisoners.

In the meantime, Amnesty should get its policy-related facts straight.

The Beginning of the End of Cuba's Economy

A late night meeting of the Cuban leadership towards the end of 1959. Fidel Castro looks around the room and asks for "a good economist" to become the president of the National Bank of Cuba. Half asleep, Ernesto "Che" Guevara raises his hand. Castro replied with surprise: "Che, I didn't know you were a good economist", to which Guevara exclaimed: "Oh, I thought you asked for a good communist!"
 
Helen Yaffe, Che Guevara: The Economics of Revolution (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

And that's how Cuba's economy regressed from being a leader in hemispheric development indicators to becoming a bankrupt basket-case.  

The 1959 Atlas of the World Economy placed Cuba's 22nd among the 122 nations covered at the time. Cuba's per capita income of U.S. $400 in 1957 was similar to that of Italy and above those of Spain and Portugal.  Today, Cuba is one of two remaining Soviet-style command economies in the world, along with starvation-ridden North Korea.
 
The Castro-Che legacy in a nutshell.

New York Times Slams Andrew Zimmern

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
From the NYT review of the Travel Channel's Bizarre World with Andrew Zimmern:

What's truly bizarre about Mr. Zimmern's presentation of Cuba — which is, it should be said, quite nicely shot and nearly always interesting to look at — is its failure, or refusal, to connect any dots between politics and the life he sees around him. Why is Cuba one of the few places where the tree rat is hunted for food? Why don't you see anyone using cellphones? Why are the streets full of ancient American automobiles?

A one-hour cable travelogue doesn't need to get into an analysis of whether Cuban poverty is a result of the American trade embargo or the policies of the Castro regime (both of which Mr. Zimmern acknowledges). But the show ought to be able to say that the citizens are poor and that they lack freedom, rather than saying that the Cubans are "a people who've learned to enjoy life's simple pleasures without the frills."

This don't-offend-the-host approach reaches a surreal pitch when Mr. Zimmern maintains that boating and fishing in Cuba are "unspoiled" because "with rare exceptions, Cubans are not allowed on boats" — without indicating why that might be so.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Amen!

The Real Cuban Embargo

Over the weekend, The Miami Herald ran an investigate, multi-dimensional series on U.S. sanctions towards the Castro regime.

Two observations from the island shed light on an all-too-often, purposefully overlooked Cuban reality:

Like many others in Havana, Yenny, a 36-year-old janitor from Holguín, cannot think of anything that the embargo has deprived her of having. What she wants from a post-embargo Cuba is money to afford such items.

"The embargo is not between America and Cuba,'' said Manuel, 46, a Havana cab driver. "It's between Cubans -- those who can afford things and those who can't."

The Cuban people understand that it's the Castro regime -- in its desire to exert absolute control over their lives -- that deprives them of food staples and other basic necessities, not the U.S. embargo.

This debunks the theory that unilaterally lifting sanctions would leave the regime without an excuse for their dictatorial behavior. That theory implies that the Cuban people actually believe this excuse, which obviously they do not.

But even more importantly, think about this tragic reality:

The political and economic hardships of the Cuban people could be resolved practically overnight -- not by the U.S. lifting sanctions -- but by the dictatorship easing its repressive, totalitarian control.

After 50 years, it's the Cuban people that deserve the fruits of U.S. aid, trade, tourism and finance, not the selfish few that insist on monopolizing it.


The Castro regime needs to lift its embargo over the Cuban people.

A (Timely) Historic Reminder

Tuesday, September 1, 2009
by William Hawkins*

The United States first imposed economic sanctions on Communist Cuba in 1960. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1964, Secretary of State Dean Rusk laid out the aims of the policy, which it should be noted did not include any expectation that the sanctions alone would lead to the overthrow of the Castro regime.

"First, to reduce Castro's will and ability to export subversion and violence to the other American states; Second, to make plain to the people of Cuba that Castro's regime cannot serve their interests; Third, to demonstrate to the peoples of the American Republics that communism has no future in the Western Hemisphere; and Fourth, to increase the cost to the Soviet Union of maintaining a Communist outpost in the Western Hemisphere."

Measured by its aims, U.S. sanctions policy has been successful in Cuba, and should be maintained because it continues to serve the first three of the four ends set out by Secretary Rusk.

The only goal that is no longer a concern is number four, as the Soviet Union has disintegrated. Before its collapse, the USSR was providing Cuba with $5 to $7 billion in aid each year and spending scarce hard currency on the purchase of oil for Cuba. With some effort, it was able to offset Cuba's loss of trade with the U.S. though the cost became another nail in the Soviet coffin.

*"No 'Normalization' Until the Castro Regime is Gone," Family Security Matters, April 10, 2009.

"Richardson Plan" of Unilateral Concessions

Advocates of unilaterally and unconditionally normalizing relations with the Castro dictatorship are raving about the "Richardson Plan."

According to Mexico's La Jornada, during last week's visit to Cuba, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson allegedly presented a specific "plan of reciprocal actions to normalize relations with Cuban authorities."

It's reported that:

"The plan would defer larger and more contentious issues and start with the two sides taking humanitarian steps. The United States would put into effect the announced Obama policy ending restrictions on family travel and remittances; allow greater sports, cultural, scientific, academic, and business exchanges; and allow Americans in general to travel to the island.

Cuba would end "bureaucratic restrictions and high fees" that make family visits more costly, accept a U.S. proposal to end the restrictions that limit both sides' diplomats to the Havana and Washington capital areas, and start an "informal dialogue" with Cuban Americans."

So why are normalization advocates so excited about this plan?

Because it does just that -- it unilaterally and unconditionally normalizes relations with the Castro regime.

Let's take a closer look.

It states that the "plan" would "defer larger and more contentious issues." These are understood to be trade and travel sanctions on the U.S. side and human rights and democratic reform on the Cuban side.

Yet, aside from the obvious lack of moral equivalency between business and tourism and human rights and democracy, the "plan" immediately goes on to offer that the U.S. would allow "business exchanges" and allow tourism travel.

In other words, unilaterally lift sanctions!

Meanwhile, on the Cuban side, the Castro dictatorship would "graciously" allow U.S. diplomats to travel throughout the island and allow an "informal dialogue" with Cuban-Americans of their choice (something they've done for decades with Cuban-Americans of their liking).

And for the Cuban people?

Nada.

Human rights and democratic reform would be sacrificed away, and the U.S. left with no bargaining chips.

While we are at it, how about throwing in some beachfront property in Kentucky?

Direct Mail "Talks" Scheduled

Bilateral talks aimed at resuming direct postal service between the United States and Cuba are scheduled for mid-September in Havana, according to Reuters.

It's important to recall that:

Direct mail service from the U.S. to Cuba has been legally authorized since the Cuba Democracy Act ("CDA") of 1992.

Section 6004(f) of CDA states:

Direct mail delivery to Cuba. The United States Postal Service shall take such actions as are necessary to provide direct mail service to and from Cuba, including, in the absence of common carrier service between the 2 countries, the use of charter service providers.

Therefore, it's not the U.S. that has impeded direct mail service to Cuba, but the Cuban regime that has refused establishment of this service.

As with the issue of migration, the measure of success for these talks can only be based on the Cuban regime allowing for the establishment of direct mail, as it is clearly not impeded by U.S. law.

As President Obama said of Cuba at April's Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, "I am not interested in talking for the sake of talking."

Thus far, we've only heard talk from the Castro regime.

A Juanes Humor Respite

Monday, August 31, 2009
Courtesy of El Nuevo Herald.

More Beatings at Guantanamo Prison

Where's the international scrutiny?
 
Political prisoner reported beaten on orders of State Security
 
HAVANA, (Juan Carlos González Leiva, Cubanet) – Political prisoner Abel López says fellow dissident Ricardo Galván was recently beaten by guards at the Guantánamo provincial prison on orders of State Security.
 
He said the beating took place after Galván had written "Down with Fidel" and "Down with tyranny" on the wall of his cell in protest after guards had taken the water heater he needed for medical purposes.
 
Galván was arrested February 25 on charges of resistance and damage to the public for writing the word CAMBIO (Change) on walls.
 
Read more on "The Real Guantanamo" here.

Rep. Watson's Primary Challenger Responds

Rep. Watson Wrong on Castro and Cuba

By Felton Newell

Congresswoman Diane Watson's comments, at a August 27, 2009 health care town hall forum, trivialize the brutality of the Castro regime and overlook the failures of the Cuban health care system.

Cuba's so called universal healthcare system has been a private embarrassment for the communist country as most of the nation's patients are denied even the most rudimentary access to safe and modern healthcare, yet, yesterday in a town hall meeting. Congresswoman Watson heaped praise on Cuba's health care. Not stopping at admiring a system where access to simple everyday medications is often an epic struggle, Congresswoman Watson went on to extol Cuba's former dictator Fidel Castro, a man who has murdered, tortured and exiled his own countrymen as "one of the brightest leaders I have ever met." It is no surprise that journalists and citizens alike have responded the Congresswoman's remarks with shock and trepidation.

Most American's familiarity with the Cuban healthcare system is limited to the Michael Moore documentary "Sicko", but to the residents of Cuba the reality of their access to healthcare is quite different than what Cuba allowed Mr. Moore to film for his movie. "Universal healthcare" in Cuba is in reality a two-tiered system where, on the one hand, the elite members of the ruling Communist party and wealthy tourists willing to pay have access to relatively high end health care in Havana, and, on the other hand, the rest of the country is forced to seek healthcare in dangerously understaffed and archaic hospitals and clinics. Since private hospitals are illegal in the country, the vast majority of Cuban residents are forced without an option to rely on the underfunded government run healthcare program. It is no surprise that the World Health Organization ranked Cuba's healthcare system behind that of the United States.

Those familiar with Cuban healthcare outside of Havana, cite it as a cautionary tale of backwards ineffective medicine. The country is plagued by medical shortages of hundreds of the most common and necessary modern drugs. Important daily medications like aspirin not only require prescriptions, but are in such short supply that there are often waiting periods of weeks for the drug, which even when available, is rationed to patients in envelops rather than bottles. For those unlucky enough to require hospitalization, many of the state run hospitals require patients to bring their own sheets, blankets and water. The situation has recently been made even worse with one in five health care workers being sent to work in Venezuela in return for oil, an arrangement which has left many state run healthcare facilities without a resident physician. Its no wonder that in a documentary shot for ABC television with undercover cameras, Cuban patients were shown crowded in to rooms with rusty equipment, broken windows and covered in flies.

Congresswomen Watson's remarks must also be noted for her high praise for Cuba's former dictator. Castro has long been noted for his brutal rule of power, even once exclaiming "revolution first, elections later." It is estimated that during his tenure as dictator his regime murdered tens of thousands of its countrymen and imprisoned many thousands of others for having contrary views, lifestyles and in the case of many journalists, for simply reporting the news. Furthermore, Castro has imprisoned his own people in concentration camps for their politics, beliefs and sexuality. It is therefore no wonder that the Human Rights Watch once labeled his regime as a "abusive machinery."

It is certainly clear that our health care system is in need of reform, and that the current national dialogue is a vital component of the reform process, but equally clear is that the model for such reform should not be a repressive regime's two tiered system that leaves those most in need of healthcare woefully left behind. In citing the Cuban system Congresswomen Watson misses an important component of the cure for our nation's healthcare crisis, that not only do we need to ensure healthcare for all Americans, but we need to make certain that the healthcare is of the high quality and standards that Americans deserve.

Mr. Newell is the Democratic primary challenger to Rep. Diane Watson.

Cuban Students Deserve Reciprocity

Despite New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's calls for increased educational and cultural travel as a "confidence building measure" during his visit to Cuba, the Castro regime slammed the door on 28 Cuban students -- and apparently Governor Richardson's ego -- that had received scholarships to study at U.S. universities.

This shouldn't come as a surprise, as the Castro regime only accepts unilateral, one-way concessions:

It allows U.S. students to travel to Cuba, where it controls the curriculum, ideological content and political behavior, but it doesn't allow Cuban students to travel abroad.

It allows foreign pop stars to give a concert in Havana's Revolutionary Square, but it doesn't allow Cuban artists that are opposed to the regime, or that have been exiled, to participate.

The 28 Cuban students that were poised to study in the U.S. had been awarded scholarships by the State Department's Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs for course work in agricultural sciences, business administration, information technology, or communications and journalism.

These scholarships are part of a larger, on-going program offered to students from throughout the world. Last year was the first time that Cuban students were able to apply for this program through the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.

According to the Nuevo Herald, the response was overwhelming. Despite the risk of repercussions for simply applying, over 750 applications were processed, from which 28 students were selected.

Nonetheless, the Castro regime has chosen to keep them hostage on the island.

Educational and cultural programs cannot be a one-way street.

It's implausible to "confide" in a regime that treats its own people in this manner.

Reciprocity should be required.

Political Prisoner Offers Toilet Paper Solution

Sunday, August 30, 2009
Recent news that the Castro regime is unable to provide the Cuban people with toilet paper for the rest of the year calls for creative solutions.

Political prisoners in Cuba have a great deal of experience in dealing with this type of shortage, as the regime routinely denies them any hygienic items.

Here's one political prisoner's solution, which can be easily adopted by the rest of the Cuban population:

Prisoner writes "Down with Fidel" with his excrement

HAVANA, (Tania Maceda Guerra, Cubanet) – Political prisoner Aurelio Antonio Morales Ayala says he used his own excrement to wrote "Down with Fidel" on the wall of the solitary confinement cell where he'd been held for over two weeks.

Morales Ayala, a member of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights, was then at the Potosí prison in las Tunas province. He told of the incident in a telephone call after being transferred to the Típico Viejo de las Tunas.

He said that he slept on the bare floor "among the rats and cockroaches" in the solitary confinement cell.

He is serving a two-year and nine-month sentence for civil disobedience.

Problem solved.

Quote of the Month

"Cuba's disastrous economy would be a joke were it not for the poverty it has perpetuated among millions of Cubans. The whole country is stagnating. Fifty percent of its arable fields are going unfarmed. First and second year college students work one month out of the year in agriculture. Its insane farm policies lead to frequent shortages of fruit, vegetables and other basic food needs, shortages even more serious than toilet paper.''

-- Fareed Zakaria, CNN's GPS, August 16th, 2009

Why does the OAS...?

Reject a constitutional succession in Honduras, yet certify electoral fraud in Nicaragua and the indefinite reelection of Chavez.

Preach non-interference in the internal affairs of nations, yet interfere in the constitutional and democratic process of the Republic of Honduras.

Criticize the security forces of Honduras, yet ignore the fierce repression that exists against the Venezuelan opposition.

Pretend to champion the rule of law, yet ignore the Honduran Constitution, which was repeatedly violated by Zelaya.

Criticize alleged media repression in Honduras, yet remain silent amidst the large scale closing of radio stations in Venezuela and amidst threats by the Ecuadorian government to do the same.

Preach the defense of democracy, yet allow supposedly democratic governments to support narcotics trafficking, which tragically affects true democracies.

Condemn Operation Fenix, which was undertaken by the Colombian government against a terrorist organization, yet not question the fact that rocket launchers previously sold to Venezuela ended up in the hands of the FARC.

Pretend to support a solution through mediation, yet pressure so that non-negotiated terms are imposed.

Question the security measures of the government of Honduras, yet ignore the repeated calls by Zelaya for insurrection and violence that has resulted in the loss of life.

Proclaim solidarity with the people of Honduras, yet refuse to listen to the majority of sectors of Honduran civil society, which have categorically rejected a corrupt and failed leader, who has repeatedly demonstrated that he values his own interests more than those of the people.

Courtesy of UnoAmerica.

EDITOR'S NOTE: While some of the assertions regarding Honduras are questionable, for violations of the rule of law certainly took place, they do highlight a thought-provoking hypocrisy on the part of the Organization of American States ("OAS").

Allow us to conclude with a final Cuba-related one:

Pursue sanctions against Honduras due to a military coup, yet embrace the military dictatorship of General Raul Castro in Cuba.