Only Castro-Supporters Need Apply

Saturday, September 18, 2010
A good point by filmmaker Joe Cardona in The Miami Herald:

This is open-minded detente?

The Obama administration has embarked on a path of cultural exchanges and lax immigration policies toward Cuba reminiscent of Jimmy Carter's administration and the brief detente that existed with the island's regime.

This year alone, we have seen the likes of artists such as Silvio Rodriguez, Los Van Van, La Orquesta Aragon, Omara Portuondo and Adalberto Alvarez perform in various cities in the United States, including Miami.

The latter was unimaginable during the Indian summer of good relations Cuban and American diplomats enjoyed in the late 1970s under President Carter.

Along with the performers, our city has seen an increase of former Castro security agents, assistants and ex daughters-in-law who have added a circus-like, paparazzi feel to local television talk shows on Spanish language stations that deal with the Cuban polemic on a nightly basis.

For the most part, I support the cultural exchanges if for nothing else than to demonstrate that freedom of speech is alive and well in Miami, where Cuban exile leadership has been so maligned by the media (and sometimes rightfully so) for being narrow-minded and obtuse.

Albeit, the exchange seems to be "one way.'' I have yet to see Albita play the Karl Marx Theater in Havana or Willy Chirino play an open air show in the very spot that Colombian singer Juanes serenaded a million Cubans several months ago.

I have come to believe that human contact goes a very long way in dispelling the wall of mythology and propaganda promulgated on both sides of the Florida Straits.

These cultural exchanges have brought Cubans in Miami closer to the present-day sights and sounds of the island, which undeniably helps bridge the gap that politicians in Miami and dictators in Cuba cannot negotiate.

Given this new era of openness with Cuba, I was surprised when a friend brought her father's hopeless status to my attention.

Timoteo Gonzalez, a 77-year-old native of the Cuban town of Bolondron, would like to come to the United States to live out the rest of his days with his children who are hard-working contributors of our society.

The snag? In 1964, Mr. Gonzalez burned a cane field in protest of and out of frustration with the Cuban regime, which was at the height of one of its most rigid periods of intolerance. For this, he was arrested and tried in Cuba.

He served seven of his 30-year sentence and was eventually released to live the rest of his life as a political leper in a country that does not celebrate divergence.

What is puzzling about Gonzalez' case is that, considering this new immigration philosophy adopted by the administration toward Cuba, it is the American government that is not permitting him entry into this country, likening him to "a terrorist threat.''

I contacted Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen's office for help on this matter, and she regrettably informed me of the government's posture. "I find the fact that this government can give Mr. Gonzalez such a hard time on his petition to enter the U.S. and has no problem granting declared enemies of this country the right to travel, perform, and in the case of some of the former Castro aides, the right to reside in the U.S. truly hypocritical,'' Ros-Lehtinen commented.

I concur with the congresswoman. The decision is hypocritical indeed, along with shameful and shortsighted.

Unfortunately Gonzalez is the victim of selective historic revision and partisan politics.

The fact that he doesn't play the guitar and rail against the United States every opportunity he gets seems to work against him. So much for open-mindedness and detente.

'No Cigar' to Cuba Measure?

According to Congressional Quarterly:

Election-Minded Democrats Say 'No Cigar' to Cuba Measure

A last-ditch, business-backed push to ease travel and trade restrictions on Cuba has run into heavy opposition from a number of influential Democrats warning of political fallout for party candidates in Florida and other states.

The dispute pits a loose alliance of liberal and farm-state lawmakers — led by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard L. Berman and Agriculture Chairman Collin C. Peterson — against staunch foes of Cuba such as New Jersey's Albio Sires, a Cuban-American, and Florida's Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Both are senior members of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

So far, Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be resisting calls to bring the bill to the House floor before the Nov. 2 elections, though she said she remains open to moving it (HR 4645) this year. She stopped short of promising a floor vote. "We'll see," she said.

California's Berman said he is trying to line up votes so his committee can approve the bill and send it to the full House as soon as possible. Berman's panel is the last still to act on the bill. Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., whose committee also had jurisdiction, said he has ceded his panel's jurisdiction.

Minnesota's Peterson, whose Agriculture panel marked up the bill in June, said the measure is gaining momentum and has support from a wide variety of business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce. The chamber urged the Foreign Affairs Committee in a letter Aug. 24 to approve the bill and "end the unproductive preoccupation with an aging and moribund Communist regime."

The bill would end a ban on most travel to Cuba that was first put in place as part of an economic embargo by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. It also would end a requirement embedded in federal law (PL 106-387) that restricts some agricultural exports to Cuba.

But Sires said he and Wasserman Schultz have warned Democratic leaders the bill would anger Cuban-American voters and hurt the electoral prospects of Florida Democrats. "This is not something that you want to do now," Sires said Thursday.

Also pushing for swift House action is outgoing Sen. Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, among many grain-state lawmakers behind easing the trade requirements. "This is the time to eliminate the restrictions," he said.

But the legislation has been attacked by Robert Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who contends that its passage would help Cuban leaders extend a "reign of oppression and human rights violations."

© 2010 · All Rights Reserved · CQ-Roll Call Group

Trouble in Ithaca

Friday, September 17, 2010
It seems Congressman Hinchey has earned some well-deserved criticism from his hometown newspaper.

From The Ithaca Journal:

Report: Hinchey Uses Castro Meeting, Photo, as Fundraiser

U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) is coming under fire for using his picture with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro as part of a fund-raiser.

On Monday (September 13), the website "Capitol Hill Cubans" reported that Hinchey, in a promotion for a June campaign event, sent out invitations that featured "Hinchey's friendship and efforts on behalf of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro."

The invitation, reproduced at the website, shows Hinchey in what appears to be a friendly chat with the former Cuban president.

Castro, who ruled Cuba from 1959 until 2008, was a controversial figure on the world stage, due to his Marxist policies and history of cracking down, sometimes violently, on dissidents and others under his reign.

The website criticized Hinchey over the invitation, stating that the Congressman "seems to think murderous dictators are a popular fundraising tool."

After the story was reported, Hinchey's Republican opponent, George Phillips blasted Hinchey over the event and invite. Speaking to blogger Bryan Preston, Phillips said:

"It's appalling that a sitting member of the United States Congress would use a photo of himself and Fidel Castro to raise money. Castro imprisoned, tortured and killed thousands of his own people and has been one of the world's most infamous dictators in the past half century. I hope the American people will join me in fighting to fire a US congressman so directly opposed to America's founding principles."

According to the invitation, campaign event was billed as "Maurice Goes to Cuba" and featured "an inspiring pictorial" of Hinchey's "efforts to end the Cuban embargo." The invite does not specifically mention Castro, except through use of the picture with Hinchey.

Hinchey, who describes himself on his website as a "progressive democrat," has been a member of the United States House of Representatives since 1993. If re-elected in November he will be serving his tenth term in that office.

Passing Nuclear Secrets to Chavez

According to AP:

U.S. couple charged in nuclear weapons secrets case

A scientist and his wife who both previously worked as contractors at the Los Alamos National Laboratory are charged with conspiring to help develop a nuclear weapon for Venezuela.

The two were arrested by FBI agents on Friday and appeared in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M.

They dealt with an FBI undercover agent posing as a Venezuelan agent. The government did not allege that Venezuela or anyone working for it sought U.S. secrets.

First Time (Since 1995, That Is)

Today's Washington Post includes the following observation regarding the Castro regime's self-employment charade:

"It's a big deal, a big breakthrough, because for the first time the government acknowledges that the private sector, the small-business operators, are not bit players but a strategic part of the Cuban economy, that they are the solution, that they will help save Cuba," said Philip Peters, a scholar at the Lexington Institute and adviser to the Cuba Working Group in the U.S. Congress.

Big deal? Big breakthrough? For the first time?

Unfortunately, The Washington Post forgot to fact check this quote.

Here's Reuters on February 25, 1995:

Self-Employment May Be Answer to Cuba's Problems

Workers here, no longer guaranteed a meal ticket for life in state industry, will have to look increasingly at areas such as self-employment if they want a job, says the country's top trade unionist.

Pedro Ross, president of the Cuban Workers Union and a member of the ruling Communist Party's Politburo, stressed in a recent interview that there was a need for a flexible labor market amid Cuba's current economic reforms [...]

Cuba is facing the obvious headache of what to do with surplus workers as it tries to pull out of deep recession triggered by the collapse of communism in the former Soviet bloc.

Some independent economists have put the number of people who would be shunted out of their jobs in an efficient economy at 1 million or more.

Concessions Would Only Embolden Castro

By Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat in America's Quarterly:

We shouldn't make unilateral concessions to the Castro regime because it will cost lives. Fundamentally fragile, totalitarian dictatorships interpret all policy actions through the narrow lens of regime survival. That means they unfailingly construe unilateral concessions as weakness. That is a very dangerous message to send to Raúl and Fidel Castro in the zero-sum game they play with their own people.

Simply put: to retain power, the Castros must deny Cubans the very freedoms they overwhelmingly want. Therefore, if a morally and economically bankrupt, violence-prone, half-century old dictatorship is led to believe that it can kill without any significant response, it will unhesitatingly do so.

Take a recent example: the July 2010 deal between Cuba and the Roman Catholic Church, brokered by the government of Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, to free 52 dissidents. Such unilateral coddling along with the support received from a coterie of left-wing Latin American leaders and the decision by the Organization of American States to rescind Cuba's expulsion made the Castros think that they could once again get away with murder. (And any careful review of how the regime proceeded to methodically break the health of imprisoned civil rights activist Orlando Zapata Tamayo leaves no doubt that it was murder with the mistaken belief that killing a defiant black laborer would stymie the resistance of his fellow activists while passing unnoticed by the international community.)

Why did the regime then sit down with Cardinal Jaime Ortega and then deport some political prisoners? Because as the Cardinal himself has recognized, the spike in internal civic defiance and the international condemnation caused by Zapata's murder threatened the fragile status quo in which the regime survives.

Click here to read in its entirety.

True Reforms Require Rights

Thursday, September 16, 2010
An excerpt from The Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board:

This is not [Castro's] first bow in the direction of market reform. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Soviet subsidies, Castro courted foreign investment and allowed Cubans to open small restaurants, ferry foreigners as taxis and use the U.S. dollar.

But as the state recovered financially and Hugo Chávez appeared as a new source of subsidy, Cuban perestroika was put on ice. The limited privileges of small entrepreneurs were withdrawn. Not coincidentally, a crackdown on political dissidents began in 2003.

Now the regime claims it will again allow entrepreneurship. Cubans will be allowed to raise rabbits, make bricks, collect garbage and grow vegetables, among other things. And the state will again welcome foreign investment.

Is Cuba moving in a new direction? Surely it wants the world to think so. But the lack or property rights remains. Foreign investors from the likes of Chile and Spain have learned the hard way that Fidel's inner circle has the ultimate control about profits. That reality will deter foreign investment until it changes.

The lesson of economic reform in China, Vietnam and other Communist regimes is that they must include the genuine freedom to make and trade goods, earn money and keep the profits. Cubans can only do that now on the black market. The dual currency system, in which they can earn money only in non-convertible pesos but must shop for most items priced in the dollar-linked peso, condemns most Cubans to poverty.

The talk of reform is also an attempt to encourage the U.S. Congress to drop the travel ban on Cuba. We long ago supported dropping the entire embargo on Cuba, but the U.S. ought to at least get something for this concession if the Castros are so eager for it. The deal could include releasing political prisoners, repealing the laws that landed them in jail and allowing foreign investors to directly hire and pay workers. Meantime, we doubt Cuba will really change until Fidel finally goes to his eternal punishment.

Barbarians at the Gate

The dust has barely settled on the Castro regime's new self-employment charade, but those seeking to profit from Cuba's captive population -- no matter how unscrupulously -- are already forming a queue.

First, the L.A. Times runs an insensitive editorial entitled, "Capitalizing on Cuba," which bluntly demands:

"The U.S. embargo should be lifted, so American businesses can go to Cuba and get busy"

No mention whatsoever of any human, civil and political rights for the Cuban people (or genuine economic rights for that matter).

Then, Time Magazine chimes in:

"The Washington-based Cuba Study Group, a nonprofit headed by Cuban-American business leaders, has already proposed, along with Mexico's Banco Compartamos, a $10 million microloan program for Cuban entrepreneurs."

Doesn't that sound nice?

Of course, Time forgot to disclose that Banco Compartamos is a for-profit bank fueled by annual interest rates that exceed 100%.

Those are called predatory loans.

Needless to say, predatory loans are not the way to bring freedom to the Cuban people. To the contrary, they're the quickest way to create anger and disgust towards the U.S.

Predatory loans are rightfully frowned upon within the U.S. -- where people actually have rights and can freely express grievances -- so why try to impose them upon a repressed and victimized population abroad?

That's shameless and abusive.

Don't Change Tack on Cuba

Wednesday, September 15, 2010
From The Parliament:

Dissidents appeal to EU 'not to change tack' over Cuba

A group of recently released Cuban dissidents have urged the EU to make sure that its policy on Cuba 'does not change'.

The demand comes after the group, who are all currently exiled in Spain, met parliament's president Jerzy Buzek in Brussels on Tuesday.

Following the meeting with Antonio Díaz, Ricardo Gonzalez and Normando Herrnández the Polish deputy said: "There is no half freedom. Freedom cannot be handed out in small rations. Cuban people should enjoy their basic human rights, freedoms and solidarity in their own country, not in exile."

Buzek added, "I have the highest respect for these brave people here and their families. They stand as an example to all those who care about freedom, human rights and democracy.

"The release of the prisoners is a positive step. However, parliament calls again for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Cuba.

"The Cuban government must respect fundamental freedoms, especially the freedom of expression and political association. I wrote this summer to president Castro to allow the ladies in white (Damas de Blanco) to leave the island so that they can accept parliament's invitation to collect the 2005 Sakharov prize in person.

"We voice again our profound solidarity with the entire Cuban people and support them in their progress towards democracy and respect and promotion of fundamental rights."

Earlier, the dissidents attended a meeting of representatives of the 73 member-parties of the European people's party (EPP) and other MEPs where they described the harsh conditions of their imprisonment and pleaded to the EU not to change its common position until the Cuban government "fully respects" human rights on the island.

Hernández told the meeting that "as long as the Cuban government systematically and on a daily basis violates the rights of Cubans, it should be clear that they will not see a change in the common position."

Diaz also said that there is continued harassment by the Castro regime of anyone who criticises it.

He cited as an example the daily difficulties of the mother of Orlando Zapata, the dissident who died last February, after a prolonged hunger strike.

EPP secretary general Antonio Lopez-Isturiz reaffirmed "the continuing commitment of the EPP to achieve freedom and human rights for Cuban people."

"The EU is delaying the decision because there is no concrete evidence of a change of attitude by the regime. Therefore, until there is a real change on the island, including a peaceful transition to democracy, we must maintain the current EU policy on Cuba," Lopez-Isturiz added.

His comments were endorsed by Finnish MEP Heidi Hautala who said the dissidents had "gone through a very difficult time. Conditions of their imprisonment were very harsh."

She said that "releasing some of the prisoners and then sending them straight into exile is only partially a positive step. Another 115 political prisoners are still behind bars in Cuba."

Foreign Relations Chairman Menendez?

From U.S. News & World Report:

Word on Capitol Hill is that Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee with a well-worn passport to the world's hot spots, is in the mix to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who's been hinting of an exit before the end of President Obama's first term. Kerry, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has acted as an emissary for Obama. Should he leave, Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, in a bitter reelection fight, would be in line to chair the committee. If he loses, it might fall to New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, whose goal is the fall of Cuba's Castro regime, a policy Obama doesn't seem to back.

Economic Reform vs. Temporary Survival

As we posted yesterday, it's important to understand that the Castro regime's latest self-employment charade is not about economic reform -- it's about temporary survival.

There's a big difference. Here's why.

In 2008, Generation Y's Yoani Sanchez wrote:

"I remember when, in 1994 they allowed licenses to open a private restaurant (paladar) or a cafeteria. Havana filled with improvised kiosks that brought back lost flavors and desired recipes. Within a couple of months all the creativity showed in hundreds of umbrellas, tables on porches and even sophisticated places to try a mamey shake or a guava pie. The pent up energies of thousands of Cubans materialized in products and services of a quality and efficiency previously unknown by my generation.

We witnessed, with astonishment and happiness, the rebirth of small private enterprises that our parents had seen drowned in the Revolutionary Offensive of 1968. A stroll along the streets of my native Central Havana confirmed that the previous scarcity hadn't been born of an innate incapacity to produce, but was caused by the ironclad State controls to private ingenuity.

To this boom in creativity and ingenuity we also had to say goodbye, the moment the "higher ups" understood that economic freedom would imply, inevitably, political autonomy."

By the late 1990's, once Canadian and European tourists and investors -- followed by Hugo Chavez's oil subsidies -- had effectively bailed out the Castro regime from its near collapse pursuant to the demise of the Soviet bloc, it quickly re-centralized the economy.

Today, Chavez's oil spigot has dried up, tourism is down 35% and the Castro regime owes foreign investors multiple times what it receives (not to mention freezing their bank accounts).

Thus, there is only one bailout source remaining:

U.S. tourism, financing and investment -- that's right, the same U.S. that the Council on Foreign Relations' (CFR) Julia Sweig and other Cuba "experts" absurdly claim is "increasingly marginal."

So if we want to see true economic reforms in Cuba -- not to mention political reforms -- here's some advice:

Don't bail out the Castro regime.

Cuba's State-Directed Self-Employment

Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The oxymoron says it all.

According to AP:

Cuba's leaders lay out details for layoffs

Cuba's communist leaders have already determined what they want soon-to-be-dismissed workers to do after they get their pink slips in massive government layoffs, detailing a plan for them to raise rabbits, paint buildings, make bricks, collect garbage and pilot ferries across Havana's bay.

One Million New Cuban Barbers?

According to the BBC:

Cuba has announced radical plans to lay off huge numbers of state employees, to help revive the communist country's struggling economy.

The Cuban labor federation said more than a million workers would lose their jobs - half of them by March next year.

Yet, this year, the Castro regime's most revolutionary -- no pun intended -- economic reform has been to allow a limited number of Cubans to rent state-owned barbershops.

So will there be one million new Cuban barbers?

Maybe the Castros are planning a new Cuban "cultural revolution" -- similar to the one in the 1960's, where state security would round up long-haired hippies, vagabonds and political "undesirables" and force them to get haircuts.

Sarcasm aside, here's the kicker.

MSNBC further reported:

According to Communist party sources who have seen the detailed plan to 'reorganize the labor force,' Cuba expects to issue 250,000 new licenses for self-employment by the close of 2011, almost twice the current number, and create 200,000 other non-state jobs.

That means the Castro regime will allow another 250,000 of its most well-behaved citizens the "privilege" of renting state-owned barbershops. As for the inefficient Cuban state creating 200,000 other non-state jobs -- that's an oxymoron in itself.

So what about the other 750,000 Cubans? Better yet, what about the other 11.5 million?

Why not just give them the freedom to choose their skills and enjoy the fruits of their labor?

Essentially, because we've seen this self-employment charade before -- it's not about reform, it's about survival -- there's a big difference (and will be the subject of another post).

One thing is for sure, there will soon be a shortage of clippers.

Banished Prisoners: Don't Relax EU Policy

Monday, September 13, 2010
From The European Parliament:

Don't relax EU policy towards Cuba, say former political prisoners

The EU should not revise its policy, agreed in 1996, on Cuba - i.e. no dialogue with Havana in the absence of progress on democracy and human rights - as there is no sign of genuine political change there, and hundreds of political prisoners are still behind bars
, recently-released Cuban political prisoners Ricardo González Alfonso, Normando Hernández, Antonio Díaz and Alejandro González Raga urged Parliament's Human Rights Subcommittee on Monday.

Welcoming the four Cuban ex-prisoners, Human Rights Subcommittee Chair Heidi Hautala (Greens/EFA, FI), said that "they had gone through a very difficult time. Conditions of imprisonment were very harsh: bad hygiene and sanitary conditions, excessive heat and humidity, poor alimentation, solitary confinement. We acknowledge and admire your strength and endurance, your faith and integrity to endure these very hard circumstances". Ms Hautala also underlined that "releasing some of the prisoners and then sending them straight into exile is only partially a positive step. Another 115 political prisoners are still behind bars in Cuba."

Improving the human rights situation in Cuba

Parliament can help to improve the human rights situation in Cuba by raising awareness of the work of human rights groups, said Antonia Diaz in reply to questions by Chair of the Delegation for relations with Central America Emine Bozkurt (S&D, NL) and Subcommittee Vice-Chair Laima Liucija Andrikiene (EPP, LT). The debate on Cuba should be promoted in the European Parliament and in the UN Human Rights Council, even though some groups of countries have affinities with the Cuban government, he continued, calling for free and independent elections in Cuba, added Mr Diaz.

"We must be consistent in defending human rights in all countries, irrespective of possible sympathies", reiterated Richard Howitt (S&D, UK).

Clear "no" to changing the Council policy decision on Cuba

José Ignacio Salafranca (EPP, ES), asked the ex-prisoners if they thought that changing the EU Council policy decision of 1996 - which defines relations with Cuba and makes any resumption of dialogue conditional upon progress on human rights and political openness from the Cuban side - would help to improve the human rights situation in Cuba or whether it would simply give more "fresh air" to the regime?

All four ex-prisoners opposed revising the policy decision. "If in Cuba there were real freedom of expression, of association and of press, I would come here to ask that the common position be modified", said Mr González Alfonso.

The policy decision "is not against the Cuban people, but against the Castro regime", noted Mr Hernández González.

Very limited internet access

"What could impact could the internet have on human rights and future generations?" asked Marietje Schaake (ALDE, NL). Mr Diaz explained that internet access in Cuba is possible only with official authorization. "The internet has very little influence in Cuba and the government does not want people to know about it", he said.

Sakharov prize laureates - Ladies in White and Oswaldo Payá

MEPs agreed that the representatives of Ladies in White should be invited to Parliament in December for the Sakharov prize 2010 award ceremony, so that they can finally receive this prestigious prize.

One of the 2005 Sakharov Prize laureates is the Cuban protest movement "Ladies in White" (Damas de Blanco), in which many wives of the political prisoners are active. The organization came into being following the arrest of political dissidents in 2003, who were imprisoned for criticizing the lack of political freedom in Cuba and calling for constitutional changes. The leader of the MCL (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación) Oswaldo Payá received in 2002 the Sakharov prize.

The Cuban delegation was also received by European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek.

Congressman Uses Fidel for Fundraiser

U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) seems to think murderous dictators are a popular fundraising tool.

This past summer, Hinchey hosted a "Maurice Goes to Cuba Event" to raise money for his Congressional race.

The invitation (seen below) features Hinchey's friendship and efforts on behalf of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Perhaps for his next event, he's considering Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong Il.

Quote of the Month

"Can anyone defend a model with no freedoms, no free press, no political parties, no international presence and with state ownership directed by those that rule the state? I think not. I want for all countries what my country has: free elections, free political parties and, above all, a free press. Without a free press, there is no freedom or democracy, and there will be misery above all."

-- Alan Garcia, President of Peru, responding to a question about Fidel Castro's comment that the "Cuban model no longer works," EFE, September 12th, 2010.

L'Audace de Fidel

Sunday, September 12, 2010
According to BBC:

France condemns Castro Roma 'holocaust' remark

France says comments by former Cuban leader Fidel Castro about its treatment of Roma migrants are unacceptable and show his ignorance of history.

Mr Castro accused Paris of carrying out a "racial holocaust" over its expulsion of members of the Roma community [...]

"The use of 'holocaust' by Mr Castro demonstrates his ignorance of history and disdain towards its victims," said French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero. "Such words are unacceptable."

In a clear reference to Cuba's treatment of dissidents, Mr Valero added: "That Fidel Castro shows an interest in human rights is truly revolutionary."

The Cyclone of Guantanamo

Last night, undefeated World Boxing Association featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa unanimously beat Orlando Salido to take the International Boxing Federation crown in a title unification bout.

First and foremost, our congratulations to him on this extraordinary feat.

Like all Cuban professional athletes that have defected -- or political dissidents banished abroad -- Gamboa, known as "The Cyclone of Guantanamo," is banned from his homeland by the Castro regime and his family targeted and marginalized.

Gamboa touches upon this tragedy in the following HBO clip:

The Liars Tribe

The New York Sun's Editorial Board on Castro's latest deception with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg:

Castro at the Crossroads

There's a wonderful riddle about the stranger traveling in the land of the two tribes — liars and truth tellers. Members of the two tribes look identical. The difference is that one tribe always lies, and one tribe always tells the truth. The stranger is walking along a road trying to reach the capital. Presently he comes to a fork, at which is standing one of the locals. The stranger is unable to detect whether the local is a truth-teller or a liar. But he needs to find out which fork leads to the capital. He is permitted one question. So what could he ask the local — who either always lies or always tells the truth — that would get him to his destination? [...]

Mr. Castro is what he always has been, a typical communist. He is a member of a tribe whose language is fundamentally disconnected from truth. It is something to remember when he talks about economic reform in the captive island. It is something to remember when he talks, as he did to Mr. Goldberg, of his sudden and new-found affection for the Jews and for Israel. Communist dictators can't tell the truth because they stand at the head of structures of inter-locking lies. When any one lie is exposed, the whole edifice is threatened. This is what happened in, say, the Soviet bloc when a free trade union, Solidarity, exposed the lie that the communists were for labor.

Can one have any useful conversation with a man like Mr. Castro? In the riddle about the stranger at the crossroads, the solution for the stranger is to put the question to the local is this way: "If I were to ask you tomorrow, 'which way to the capital?', what would you tell me?" The member of the tribe that always tells the truth would tell him the correct way. The local who always lies would have, on the morrow, told him the wrong way, but he must lie about what he would tell him on the morrow, so inadvertently tells the stranger the right way. It's not so simple as that, however, to get the truth out of a communist. The Great Goldberg, who is a marvelous reporter and dealt with Castro's dissembling in a post Friday evening, can take comfort in the fact that a long line of Cold War newspapermen learned the lesson he just learned the hard way.