Neda: The Voice of a Nation

Saturday, June 12, 2010
Today marks the first anniversary of the Iranian electoral farce that entrenched the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, while inspiring a new generation of Iranians to take to the streets in favor of human rights and democracy.

Tragically, one of these young activists, Neda Agha-Soltan, was murdered by security forces eight days later.

In honor of her sacrifice, HBO has filmed a documentary, "For Neda," which will premiere this Monday, June 14th at 9:00 p.m.

Don't miss it.

Here's a sneak peak:

Outrage of the Week

Fidel Castro's anti-Semitic "Reflection" in Cuba's state-media:

"The hatred of the State of Israel against the Palestinians is such that they wouldn't hesitate sending a million-and-a-half men, women and children from that country to the crematoriums in which the Nazis exterminated millions of Jews of all ages. The Führer's swastika seems to be today's new Israeli flag."

No Change in EU's Cuba Policy

According to EFE:

BRUSSELS – The European Union's "common position" toward Cuba, which makes warmer relations with the communist-ruled island contingent on progress in human rights, will remain in place for now due to lack of unanimity in the 27-member EU on adopting a softer approach, Spanish official sources told Efe Friday.

They said opposition from Germany, France, the Czech Republic and Sweden is thwarting Spain's aspiration to change the policy during its six-month term in the EU rotating presidency, which ends June 30.

Though the common position is set to remain in force, a source with the European Commission said next Monday's discussion of the issue by EU foreign ministers will center on a "process of reflection taking into account the future of relations with Cuba."

At the same time, the ministers' formal findings will include "clear references" to human rights in Cuba and specifically to the February death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata after an 85-day hunger strike, European Commission sources said.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos met Thursday in Paris with Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez, who told reporters afterward that Havana did not plan any concessions to induce the EU to change its policy.

Taking Over Venezuela

Friday, June 11, 2010
From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Editorial Board:

Cubazuela: Continuing takeover

Cuba's de facto takeover of Venezuela continues, with a new Associated Press report on Cuban inroads into Venezuela's military and communications further blurring the line between these two Marxist regimes - and bringing into sharper focus the ongoing rise of "Cubazuela."

In exchange for shipping more than 100,000 barrels of oil daily to Fidel Castro's economic basket case of an island, President Hugo Chavez is getting Cuban expertise that can help him suppress the vast majority opposed to Venezuela's Cubanization.

Now, Cubans are training Venezuelan troops, helping them build bunkers to hide weapons and assisting with a digital radio system for security forces.

The takeover is so brazen that it caused Antonio Rivero, a Venezuelan brigadier general, to break with Mr. Chavez.

He retired early from his military post in protest, plans to run for a National Assembly seat and warns that Cuban troops could become a Chavez guerrilla army should el presidente be defeated in Venezuela's 2012 election or otherwise deposed.

The harder it is to tell who's really in charge in Caracas - Chavez or Castro - the greater is the U.S. need to regard Venezuela as an illegitimate communist dictatorship that's indistinguishable from Cuba.

Desperation Is No Substitute For Shame

In their desperate zeal to unconditionally eliminate provisions in U.S. law that condition trade and tourism with the Castro regime to the respect for human rights and democratic reforms, U.S.-based opponents of sanctions policy have hit a new low.

Since their policy arguments haven't swayed the U.S. Congress, they've opted to unscrupulously add the names of various courageous Cuban dissidents to a letter espousing their views on U.S. policy.

Let's be totally clear, this letter was not based on the volition of Cuban dissidents -- its timing, legislative insight and political specificity make that glaringly obvious. This letter was the initiative of U.S.-based organizations, the Cuba Study Group and the so-called Center for Democracy in the Americas, which lobby against sanctions.

But what's most reprehensible about this letter are growing indications that many of the dissidents that were signed-on have been misled as to its content, purpose and intent. Some have even confirmed that they've never heard of, let alone signed, such a letter. That's scandalous.

Surely, there are pro-democracy activists in Cuba that oppose U.S. policy -- and that is positive, for diversity of opinion is the basis of a future democracy -- but for every dissident that opposes U.S. policy, there is at least another that supports it.

Do they now want a competing letter from dissidents supporting U.S. policy (opposing the H.R. 4645)? Is that what they're trying to extract?

Unfortunately, that would be doing the Castro regime's bidding; for Cubans that express their support for U.S. sanctions automatically risk a 10-15 year prison term in Castro's gulag -- an indicative fact in itself.

So why would any well-intentioned person seek to further endanger these courageous advocates, which are already facing daunting challenges against Cuba's military dictatorship, by essentially entrapping them?

Must be the price of an ag profit.

Finally, for those wondering what tourism travel has to do with the Agriculture Committee, don't count on Chairman Peterson shedding any light.

Instead, in a foreign-policy focused press release, he opted to audaciously insult the Cuban-American community by stating:

"The statement of these pro-democracy, anti-Castro dissidents supporting H.R 4645 is a strong indication that people who oppose this bill are not speaking on behalf of the Cuban people, regardless of what they say."

So how many victims of Cuban repression does Chairman Peterson represent? None.

In contrast, the democratically-elected Members of the U.S. Congress (from both parties) that represent nearly 100% of the Cuban-American community -- those who represent the families and friends of the largest political prisoner population (per capita) in the world; those who represent 20% of Cuba's overall population, which lives in exile, and are the free voices of the Cuban people; those who represent the numerous victims of Castro's executions, tortures and multiple deprivations -- unanimously oppose Chairman Peterson's efforts to double the income of the brutal Castro regime.

Desperation is no substitute for shame.

Challenge of the Day

Thursday, June 10, 2010
We've constantly heard opponents of U.S. policy towards Cuba argue how greater trade and travel will help bring greater awareness to human rights abuses and to the tragic plight of the Cuban people.

This week, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue led a 43-person trade delegation to Cuba, where they explored business opportunities with the Castro regime -- not with the Cuban people.

In the wide media coverage the trip received, can someone help us locate one statement -- or even tangential mention -- by Governor Perdue or any member of his delegation regarding human rights, democratic reforms, political, social and economic freedoms, etc.

If so, please send it to

Good luck!

Sonny's Revelation: Castro's Broke

Atlanta FOX 5's Russ Spencer traveled to Cuba with Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and his "trade" delegation earlier this week.

He made several blog posts about the trip, entitled "Mission to Cuba."

We've added some editorial comments ("EC")
to further elaborate upon his rather straightforward observations.

Here's Spencer's post on U.S. sanctions:

Georgia business leaders got the hard sell themselves on their trip to communist Cuba.

The President of the Chamber of Commerce, Pedro Alvarez, criticized the U.S. Trade Embargo as an unjust attack on Cuba, and he warned the Georgia Delegation -- and Governor Perdue himself -- that the trade that does exist -- some $42 million last year -- will be jeopardized if things don't change.

EC: Pedro Alvarez is the head of Alimport, Castro, Inc.'s international trade monopoly, which is the only company in Cuba permitted to engage in international trade. Therefore, it's tragically fitting that he also refers to himself as President of the Chamber of Commerce, for it's a one company Chamber of Commerce. As for the "hard sell" -- there's another word for it: blackmail.

It all sounded harsh to these ears, but the Governor told me it's a boilerplate complaint from Cuban officials. The sad fact seems to be this: Even if trade restrictions were to be eased, Cuba doesn't have a lot of money to buy things.

EC: So should the U.S. Congress bailout the Castro regime also? Unfortunately, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota has proposed legislation to do just that.

The stagnation of the economy is apparent from the minute you step off the plane here. The embargo has given the Castros an easy scapegoat, but the truth is that Cuba doesn't make much that people want to buy. It is now a net importer of sugar, which used to practically grow itself in Cuba.

The hard currency Cuba does have comes from tourism dollars, which we weren't allowed to spend, and a tax on remittances from Cuban-Americans back home.

Tourism is down because of the faltering of the worldwide economy.

And while the U.S. government has relaxed the law to allow Cuban Americans to send as much as they want to Cuba, dollars have to be converted to what are called Convertible Cuban Pesos, and the communist government takes 20 percent off the top. Twenty percent!

EC: Hate to say we told you so.

Beyond that, though, Cuba is poor, and in these hot days of June, seemingly on the verge of getting poorer.

And here's Spencer's final reflections on the trip:

Governor Perdue was back in Georgia Wednesday after a two-day trip to Cuba. The aim of the trip was to lay the groundwork to expand Georgia exports to the communist nation, where the government makes all the buying decisions.

Georgia farmers and agribusiness leaders got a chance to see one of the markets where their products might end up and they were stunned by what they saw.

EC: And not in a good way.

Phil Green, the CEO of Visions Telecom, went on the trip and he said his communist counterpart led him to believe the Cuban government isn't interested in widespread access to the internet, and like China, wants to control access to information.

EC: Enough said.

Picture Perfect Protest

From U.S. Rep. Ed Royce of California's Foreign Intrigue Blog:

The image of Orlando Zapata is haunting the Castro brothers. At least, that's the hope of artist Geandy Pavon.

Zapata, a plumber, was a Cuban political prisoner who starved himself to death to protest his abuse by the Castro regime. He died in February, after 85 days of fasting.

In a clever campaign – dubbed "Nemesis" - exiled Cuban artist Pavon has projected the image of the dead hunger striker against the façade of Cuban government buildings. It has been splashed against the Cuban consulate in Barcelona, and the Cuban Interests Section in Washington.

This may be one protest that gets the Cuban regime's attention. The Cuban dictator probably understands the power of hunger strikes. He built a memorial in Cuba to Bobby Sands in 2001. Sands was one of the 10 IRA members to starve themselves to death in 1981, which generated worldwide publicity and support for the group. Pavon is giving Zapata a voice from the grave.

So maybe they're feeling some heat? It was reported last week that the Cuban government has made some modest accommodations for political prisoners. Of course, there shouldn't be any political prisoners.

Let's face it, democrats worldwide have been staggering. We need better and innovative ways to punch back against tyranny, whether it be in Cuba, Venezuela, Vietnam or Iran. Kudos to Señor Pavon for his unconventional strike.

Only Mercantilists Need Apply

Wednesday, June 9, 2010
On Monday, the Castro regime welcomed Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to Cuba with open arms.

In turn, Governor Perdue embraced the opportunity to do business with the Castro regime's monopoly.

Yesterday, the Governor returned full of trade rhetoric, but with no "trade contracts."

Unfortunately, the Governor failed to mention that the reason he returned empty-handed was that in Cuba there's only one potential client, the bankrupt Castro regime -- something akin to 18th century colonial mercantilism, when all business with Cuba was the sole domain of the Spanish crown -- and that there were no options to directly engage the Cuban people.

However, during the Governor's visit, the Castro regime did announce that it would not allow the U.N.'s independent torture investigator to enter Cuba.


Three guesses.

According to The Associated Press:

The U.N.'s independent torture investigator says he is deeply disappointed by Cuba's decision to block him from visiting the country for the first time.

Manfred Nowak says the Cuban government informed him it was unable to accommodate his visit before the end of his term on Oct. 30.

Nowak said Wednesday that he had received a "clear invitation" from the government earlier this year and had hoped to investigate allegations of torture and ill-treatment in the communist country.

The U.N.-appointed human rights expert has made several fruitless attempts to visit the island since 2005.

In My Humble Opinion, Pt. 21

From NewsMax:

Expert: Obama Slowly Learning to Deal with Cuba

By Jim Meyers

The Obama administration is learning that the Castro regime in Cuba is not a "rational" or "trustworthy" partner to deal with, Mauricio Claver-Carone, a leading expert on American-Cuban relations, tells Newsmax.

Carone also says the pro-democracy movement in Cuba is a "viable alternative" to the Castro regime, and asserts that the Cubans "essentially control" Hugo Chavez's government in Venezuela.

Carone is the Executive Director of Cuba Democracy Public Advocacy, which lobbies against lifting the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, and is on the board of directors of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC. He is also a former adviser at the U.S. Treasury Department.

President Obama has offered to seek a "new beginning" in relations with Cuba, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last year that the old U.S. policy regarding the island nation had failed. In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Carone was asked for his take on the Obama administration's policy toward Cuba.

"I think the administration has been learning as it has been going along," he says.

"Obama has been learning about the intransigence of this regime and the fact that it is really not a reliable or rational partner to deal with.

"I don't criticize their effort to try to do something different and send a signal that we're willing to talk, to engage. The problem is, with regimes like Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Burma, these aren't rational partners. These are people that have very deep anti-American views and therefore are not trustworthy partners.

"An example of how [the administration] has been learning: During the announcement on changing the regulations on family visits and remittances [to Cuba], they said we want to have unlimited remittances. Then they learned as the process went along that the Castro regime would take 30 to 40 percent of every dollar that entered the island.

"A couple of days later the president came out and said one thing the regime could do to show good will would be to eliminate this 30 percent they take off the top. Well, they haven't done that yet."

If the Cuban communist regime is beginning to loosen its tight control of the country, it is not in response to U.S. policy but a reaction to a growing anti-government movement in Cuba, Carone says.

"This is an entrenched military dictatorship. But what is happening in Cuba is that there is a domestic pro-democracy movement, a domestic opposition movement which increasingly is more active, more outspoken.

"The movement is a viable alternative, and it's out there on a daily basis challenging the regime. That basically is what the regime is reacting to.

"The Castro regime for decades has tried to put out the story that there is no viable opposition in Cuba. Opponents of U.S. policy here in the United States have taken that call and have used it as part of their advocacy and say we have to deal with the Castro regime because there is no alternative. That's not true. There is a viable alternative."

Carone is staunchly opposed to a unilateral lifting of the trade embargo against Cuba.

"U.S. policy requires that for the United States to have normal trading relations with Cuba, three things have to occur," he tells Newsmax.

"First, the unconditional release of all political prisoners. Secondly, the recognition of certain fundamental human rights, including freedom of the press, freedom of association. And third, the legalization of the opposition party.

As to whether Obama will lift the embargo, Carone notes that "he cannot lift sanctions by law until those conditions are met. So he cannot unilaterally do so without Congress."

He also dismisses claims that the embargo hurts only the Cuban people.

"The one barrier to the well-being of the Cuban people is that regime," he declares.

Asked about the relationship between Cuba and Hugo Chavez's anti-American regime in Venezuela, Carone says:

"What's interesting is that all the news is focused on Chavez, Chavez being now the greatest regional menace.

"Hugo Chavez didn't spring out of nowhere. Chavez was released from jail in Venezuela after a failed coup attempt in the early 1990s. He went to Cuba and he spent years in Cuba until he returned to Venezuela and in 1998 came to power.

"The Cuban government essentially controls the Venezuelan government. All the major sectors, from the military to intelligence to security, are controlled by Cuban operatives.

"It's not the other way around. It's Cuban generals, Cuban intelligence experts, et cetera, that are essentially overseeing Hugo Chavez's operation in Venezuela."

Another Tragic Anniversary

Last Friday, June 4th, was the 21st anniversary of the brutal massacre of young, pro-democracy advocates in China's Tienanmen Square.

It remains a tragic reminder of the impunity that was given to the Chinese dictatorship by the silence of the international community at the time, its unconditional engagement and unscrupulous business interests.

Pursuant to this massacre, Chinese leaders were only emboldened in their political repression and proceeded to violently wipe-out any remnants of dissent.

Silence and complacency should never be an option.

Raul Castro is Not God

Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The following message was posted on Facebook by Juan Juan Almeida, son of recently deceased Cuban "Vice-President" and third highest ranking official in the Castro regime, General Juan Almeida:

Last Tuesday I had an unpleasant incident in the Villa Marista facility [Cuban State Security headquarters] and, like on other occasions, my issue has yet to be resolved, which by the way is very simple -- all I've been asking for since 2003 is that they let me exit the country to see a doctor, to hug my family and return. It would be very simple if I hadn't tripped upon the powerful whim -- more than powerful, illegal whim -- of the President of the Council of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, who confuses the position of President with that of God and forgets that he is a functionary who should respect the law.

For that reason, and since the Civic Plaza, or Revolutionary Square, represent for Cubans what the "agora" [public plaza] represented for ancient Athens,
I will be there on Thursday, June 10th, 2010, demanding the indictment of Raul Castro -- unless I am previously given permission to exit the country or arrested.

I formally informed Villa Marista of such, from where I just arrived.

The picture below is from the cover of Juan Juan's critical book, published in Spain last year, "Memories of an Unknown Cuban Guerrilla" -- it is of him, as a child, with Raul Castro.

In My Humble Opinion, Pt. 20

From today's Miami Herald:

Two members of Congress have freed $15 million for pro-democracy programs in Cuba, but are still blocking $2.6 million for a contractor whose employee is jailed in Havana, according to Washington officials.

"I am pleased the State Department has finally released these important funds,'' Sen. George Lemieux, R-Fla., said in a statement Monday revealing the release of the $15 million. The State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are expected to distribute the funds over the next months to Cuban civil society groups in the form of supplies such as computers, medicines and aid to the families of jailed dissidents.

The release of the funds, help up since early 2009, is likely to anger the Cuban government but brought quick praise from supporters of the dissidents.

"At a time when dissidents are under siege, they need to know that the U.S. stands on their side," said Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the pro-embargo U.S.-Cuba Democracy political action committee [...]

The two members of Congress lifted their hold on $15 million last week but are continuing to block the other $5 million, according to two Washington officials who asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. The $5 million includes $2.6 million for Gross' DAI.

"Contractors were a bad idea from the get-go," Claver-Carone said, arguing that private firms like DAI have little experience with totalitarian communist regimes like Cuba's.

More Provinces, "Illegals" and Arrests

In what -- at first -- appears like a classic Castro oxymoron, Reuters reports:

Cuba has plans to split the province of Havana into two provinces in a move to make local government more efficient, state-run media said on Tuesday.

Efficiency through greater bureaucracy?

But in reality, it seems they're just looking for another excuse to add more political prisoners, for as Cubanet reports:

4-year sentence for living in Havana without permission

Dissident Duartes Miguel Lara Rodríguez has been sentenced to four years in prison on charges of being a "danger" to society because he was living illegally in Havana. Vladimir Alejo said Lara Rodríguez's recognized residence is in Holguín province and he didn't have the government's permission to live in the capital as required by Cuban law. Alejo said Lara Rodríguez has been deported several times. His wife lives in Havana.

More provinces = more "illegals" = more arrests.

Political Prisoner Bleeding to Death

Cuban political prisoner Egberto Escobedo Morales is literally bleeding to death.

The health of Escobedo, who has been on hunger strike since April 16, worsened this week when he began throwing up blood and experiencing intestinal bleeding.

Escobedo, a member of the National Council for a Democratic Transition, was arrested in July 1995 and sentenced to 20 years in prison for "enemy propaganda" -- a charge the Castro regime commonly uses against democracy advocates.

He started the hunger strike to protest against the Castro regime's inhumane prison conditions and last April's farcical National Assembly "elections."

Courtesy of Uncommon Sense.

Pro-Democracy Funding is Released

Monday, June 7, 2010
$15 Million Finally Provided for Pro-Democracy Activities in Cuba

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) today made the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of State's decision to release $15 million of the $20 million in FY2009 Cuba Democracy Assistance funds. The funding will be primarily used for Non-Government Organization's (NGO) pro-democracy activities on the island.

"The Cuban people are taking increasingly bold steps in demanding a democratic future for their nation and these funds are critical to programs that promote democracy and human rights in Cuba," LeMieux said. "I am pleased the State Department has finally released these important funds, but we are not done yet. I will continue to press both the State Department and my Senate colleagues to quickly release the remaining $5 million in FY2009 Cuba Democracy Assistance funding."

The FY2009 Cuba Democracy Assistance funds were appropriated in 2008.

Smuggling Terrorists Through Cuba

Are we supposed to believe that the Castro regime, with its totalitarian control over movement and vast intelligence network, was unaware of 272 Somalis (some with potential terrorist ties) being smuggled to the U.S. through Cuba?

From the NY Daily News:

When the FBI and CIA worry about Americans signing up with Al Qaeda, they don't just hunt in the tribal belt on the Afghan-Pakistan border: They also look in East Africa.

Somalia's lawless capital of Mogadishu was the first battleground Al Qaeda picked to fight over with America in 1993 - and it ended with U.S. soldiers being dragged through the streets.

A secret war is again being waged there with Osama Bin Laden's latest jihadi ally, the al-Shabaab militant group.

It is that war that the two accused Jersey-born jihadists were heading toward when they were nabbed at JFK Saturday, officials allege [...]

On Friday, Anthony Joseph Tracy, 35, was set free after pleading guilty to human smuggling charges and serving several months in prison in a case shrouded in secrecy.

Tracy, a former informant for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and two U.S. intelligence agencies, was collared at JFK Airport last January. He copped to helping 272 Somalis illegally enter the U.S. from Kenya through Cuba but failed a lie detector test when he denied smuggling al-Shabaab fighters here, a source told the Daily News.

Now the FBI and ICE are hunting down at least 130 Somalis Tracy brought here out of fears some might have been from al-Shabaab, the source said.

Mexican Cartel Linked to Castro

The recent arrest of the Mayor of Cancun, Mexico (and candidate for Governor of the overall state of Quintana Roo), Gregorio Sanchez Martinez, for money laundering, human smuggling and narcotics trafficking, has revealed a series of disturbing links to Cuban intelligence in these illicit activities.

According to Mexican investigative journalists, Sanchez Martinez is married to the daughter of a high-ranking Colonel in Castro's intelligence services and was involved in a human trafficking ring that smuggled Cuban, Russian and Chinese nationals to the U.S., through Mexico.

Working together with the Governor's wife was Boris del Valle Alonso, a Cuban official who served as a "security adviser" to Sanchez Martinez and as a member of "Los Zetas," the feared paramilitary group-turned-drug syndicate.

Boris is related to Fidel Castro's wife, Dalia Soto del Valle.

Looks like this web is only beginning to unravel.

Is Cuba More Democratic Than Honduras?

Sunday, June 6, 2010
To argue that Cuba's 51-year military dictatorship is more democratic than Honduras, which despite the unfortunate forced expatriation of its former President in June of last year, proceeded to freely elect a new civilian President in November, doesn't pass the laugh test.

However, the OAS and some of its Member States have a strange sense of humor.

From the Earth Times:

Honduras suspension tops agenda as OAS meets in Lima

A year ago, the general assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) met in Honduras, where they opened the door to readmitting Cuba after its 47-year-old suspension - pending its support of OAS' democratic principles.

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya greeted the move as a "reunion of the Americas," saying: "The Cold War ended today in San Pedro Sula."

Zelaya clearly spoke too soon.

Only 25 days after that historic meeting, on June 28, 2009, the conservative-turned-leftist Zelaya was ousted by a military-backed coup. The other 33 active OAS members promptly suspended the Central American country.

Honduras' own readmission will be the hot topic of this year's general assembly sessions in Lima Sunday to Tuesday. But it's almost certain that Honduras will not even get an offer like that which was extended to Cuba a year ago.

Most Latin American countries do not recognize the government of Zelaya's successor Porfirio Lobo, who was elected in November. And readmission requires 75 per cent support among members.

Spain reportedly had wanted to invite Honduras to the European Union-Latin America and Caribbean summit two weeks ago. But they had to backtrack because countries like Brazil, Venezuela and Bolivia, among others, threatened to boycott a summit which included Lobo.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in fact snubbed Lobo and invited Zelaya to the bicentennial of the start of her country's independence process last month.

Thus, it shouldn't come as a surprise that:

Another topic of discussions will likely be the status of planned reform of the Inter-American Democratic Charter and of the Charter of the Americas, with central focus on the push to strengthen democracy and fight poverty and racism in the

Can't wait to see how they'll try to re-define democracy.

Yoani Spoke Too Soon

Yesterday, in The Huffington Post, Cuban-blogger Yoani Sanchez wrote that Cuba and North Korea are dissimilar due to the extreme, foolish statements of North Korea's leaders, which she thought -- despite their many absurdities -- Cuba's dictators no longer had time for.

In an editorial entitled, "Cuban Leaders Strangely Silent on North Korea's Sinking of the Cheonan," Yoani wrote:

"In the Cuba of today, overwhelmed by the economic crisis and with a huge ideological vacuum, we can't handle any more problems. Plus, no one wants to follow the leaders of North Korea in their demented positions, nor appear to be close to them in international forums... The absence, even today, of these kinds of statements, is a source of hope. It gives us the impression that, at least with regards to some lunacies, we have been cured."

Spoke too soon.

On that same day, Fidel released a conspiracy-theory "editorial" in Cuba's state media claiming that:

"U.S. Navy commandos sank a South Korean warship in March in order to blame North Korea, raise tensions and convince Japan to keep U.S. forces in Okinawa."

But then again, it's not Yoani's fault -- for who reads Castro's editorials, anyway?