The Pope's Mixed Messages

Saturday, December 25, 2010
In today's Christmas message, Pope Benedict urged Chinese Catholics to "be brave" against their oppressors.

Yet, the Catholic Church urges Cubans to just "go into exile."

Since the July 7th "agreement" between the Catholic Church and the Castro regime for the release of 52 specifically-named political prisoners, 40 have been sent into forced exile and only one has been released within Cuba.

Meanwhile, the other 11 political prisoners, who refuse forced exile, remain in prison this Christmas -- nearly two months past the given deadline -- without any sign of release.

So this weekend, the Church sought out two other political prisoners (there's plenty to choose from) -- not on the original list of 52 -- that would accept forced exile.

As a result, the Catholic Church continues to play into the hands of the Castro regime -- for as long as it keeps pressing political prisoners to accept exile as a condition, the regime will not release any that want to stay in Cuba and continue their peaceful dissidence.

Cubans also have a right to "be brave" in their own homeland.

According to MSNBC:

Pope tells Catholics in China to be brave

Pope Benedict prayed for a rebirth of peace in the Middle East and encouraged Catholics in Iraq and communist China to resist persecution in his Christmas message read amid heightened security on Saturday [...]

Benedict directly criticized China, where recently Catholics loyal to the pope were forced to attend a series of events by the state-backed Church which does not recognize his authority, bringing relations with the Vatican to a low point.

"May the birth of the Saviour strengthen the spirit of faith, patience and courage of the faithful of the Church in mainland China, that they may not lose heart through the limitations imposed on their freedom of religion and conscience but, persevering in fidelity to Christ and his Church, may keep alive the flame of hope," he said.

Apparently, the way to really get under the Pope's skin is by not recognizing his "authority."

Merry Christmas

"A good conscience is a continual Christmas."

-- Benjamin Franklin, American statesman, 1706-1790

"I hope this is the last Christmas we spend without democracy. Remember that the most important thing about being Cuban is to love one's motherland and, somehow or other, confront the regime that's oppressing her. I hope God will intervene and next Christmas we can be free and all Cubans can share here the freedom and democracy for which we have struggled for so long and so many have died."

–- Guillermo Fariñas, Cuban dissident and 2010 Sakharov Award recipient, on Radio Martí.

Spain Profits From Cuban Apartheid

Friday, December 24, 2010
According to a State Department cable -- released by Wikileaks -- during a 2008 meeting between then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Spain's Ambassador to the U.S. Jorge Dezcallar:

(C) The Secretary stated she remains unconvinced of the sincerity of minor post-Fidel changes in Cuba. She emphasized the need to make real change, as opposed to cosmetic ones. For example, Cubans should have access to cell phones and the Internet. The Ambassador countered that GoS doesn't think that changes in Cuba since Raul's ascent to power have been cosmetic. He denied that Raul is another Fidel, but warned against being too heavy-handed and "scaring him off, or he will be even more difficult."

Why is Ambassador Dezcallar so concerned about being "too heavy-handed" with Raul?

The answer is simple:

Because it's bad for business.

Yesterday, EFE reported that Spain's Sol Melia hotel chain disclosed $3.664 billion in business income with the Castro regime over the last 20 years.

And that's only one of 25 major Spanish companies conducting business with the Cuban dictatorship -- we stress business with the Cuban dictatorship, as the Cuban people are strictly prohibited from engaging in any type of business with foreign entities.

Castro's tourism apartheid and repression pays -- and Spain is shamefully cashing-in.

A Look Back at the 111th Congress

As the 111th Congress (finally) adjourned last night, here's a chronological look back at U.S.-Cuba legislative news items (and misguided predictions):

They didn't waste any time. While most of the nation focused on the stimulus bill winding through Congress, nine representatives introduced a bill calling for an end to the 46-year-old ban on travel to Cuba -- Sun-Sentinel, February 9, 2009

"I think there's sufficient votes in both the House (of Representatives) and the Senate to finally get it passed," Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan said at a news conference -- Reuters, March 31, 2009

After years of frustration, backers of a softer Cuba policy think their moment has come -- St. Petersburg Times, April 1, 2009

"I don't want to give you a time frame, but I'm certain it will come to the floor, and we will have a vote, and I believe we will have a significant number of cosponsors," U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt -- St. Petersburg Times, April 2, 2009

As the power of the Cuban lobby fades, broader considerations are gaining importance. I asked Rep. Bill Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat who cochairs the House's Cuba Working Group, about the Cuba lobby's ebbing influence. "We now have people on our side of the issue who are saying, 'We support candidates who have a different view in terms of what the relationship ought to be,'" he said -- U.S. News and World Report, April 14, 2009

As an observer of American trade policy, I will wager that the farm lobby wins this battle. US agricultural exports to Cuba averaged more than $350 million a year between 2004 and 2006 before hitting $691 million last year -- "Farm Lobby Versus Cuba Lobby," MyDD, May 4, 2009

The U.S. Congress will most likely lift a five-decades-old embargo on Cuba before the end of 2010, a senior Democratic lawmaker [Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel] said Tuesday -- Reuters, May 6 2009

Legislation to end a ban on Americans traveling to Cuba has enough support in the U.S. House of Representatives to win approval by year-end, said Representative Sam Farr, a California Democrat -- Bloomberg, September 21, 2009

The travel ban to Cuba may be one step closer to being lifted. A bill intended to end a ban on travel to Cuba by United States citizens may have enough votes to pass the House by the end of the year, a representative told the Bloomberg news service -- New York Times, October 4, 2009

Delahunt "has a pretty impressive list of sponsors. That bill looks good in the House,' said a former Bush administration Cuba expert. "Delahunt will pass the House,"' added an Obama administration official. Both asked for anonymity so they could speak frankly about the topic -- The Miami Herald, October 12, 2009

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) have jointly written a compelling case to end the travel ban for all Americans desiring to go to Cuba -- Huffington Post, November 17, 2009

Berman says those who support lifting the ban have their best chance in years to get rid of it, thanks to Democratic control of the White House and Congress and backing from a wide range of business, agricultural and other groups. He says the House may act on legislation by the spring -- Washington Post, November 20, 2009

Minnesota Democrat Collin Peterson is lending his heft as House Agriculture Committee chairman to end the travel ban to Cuba -- Minnesota Star-Tribune, February 24, 2010

U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan said he will bring a bill to lift the ban on travel to Cuba to the Senate floor this summer and that more than 60 Senators will vote for it -- Bloomberg, March 25, 2010

The U.S. House of Representatives may pass a bill next month that would cut restrictions on agricultural exports to Cuba and lift a ban on travel to the island, the measure's sponsor [Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson] said -- Bloomberg, March 31, 2010

"It's just a question of 'when,' it's not a question of 'if,' at this point," Delahunt said -- National Journal, April 5, 2010

Business associations are raising the lobbying stakes on legislation that would remove the American travel ban and boost U.S. farm sales to Cuba -- The Hill, June 29, 2010

'An unprecedented coalition of agriculture, business, religious and social organizations have endorsed (the bill), and today's vote demonstrates that Congress is ready to change our nation's approach on this issue,' [Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson] added -- IPS, June 30, 2010

A bipartisan pair of senators said Thursday they have the votes in the Senate to lift the longstanding U.S. ban on travel to Cuba. Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said they believe they have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster and lift the travel ban to the communist-held nation south of Florida -- The Hill, July 1, 2010

Traveling to Cuba may soon become a reality for Americans. Yes, we have heard this before, but this time it seems it could actually happen -- NY Daily News, July 4, 2010

Senator Byron Dorgan, co-sponsor of a bill to lift a ban on U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba, said both houses of Congress will pass the legislation this year -- Bloomberg, July 16, 2010

Kirby Jones, a longtime consultant with U.S. corporations, organizations and media wanting to do business in and with Cuba, told me that "in the 35 years that I've been following this issue, I've never seen Congress so close and so active in pursuing a change in Cuba policy. Progress has never been this close. We're somewhere between 205 to 210 votes, and that's very close -- Politics Daily, May 23, 2010

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated recently if Berman's committee approved the bill, it could be brought to the House floor either before or after the November midterm elections -- UPI, September 29, 2010

Advocates of easing restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba have not given up on legislation this year, the chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee said on Monday -- Reuters, September 31, 2010

A number of business associations are planning a lobbying blitz during the lame-duck session to repeal the U.S. travel ban to Cuba -- The Hill, October 6, 2010

And finally:

Legislation eliminating a longstanding travel ban to Cuba is dead in this Congress, several senior Democrats said this week -- The Hill, December 2, 2010

Quote of the Week

"It's not the first time that we are amidst a grave situation; they announce changes and then everything stays the same, you know how this country is."

-- a Cuban citizen, on the Castro regime's supposed economic reforms, Diario de Cuba, December 19th, 2010

Rubio Remarks at Cuba Democracy PAC

Wednesday, December 22, 2010
See video below:

Foreign Pressure Works, Pt. 2

From an interview in Spain's El Mundo with Cuban author -- and former Fidel and Raul Castro confidant -- Norberto Fuentes:

Question: At this time, the Cuban National Assembly is gathered in Havana and has introduced a series of reforms. Is the regime really trying to undertake reforms and, if so, under what conditions?

Fuentes: This has many possible readings, it can be looked at many ways. That is to say -- they are pressured, they are obligated, they have no choice, that it's a definite strategic victory for the "enemy." The point is that they are making some reforms, they will keep doing them and that they have to see them through to the last consequences.

Five Political Corpses in 2011

Tuesday, December 21, 2010
By Moisés Naím of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

Hosni Mubarak is eighty-one years old and, since 1981, president of Egypt. Fidel Castro is eighty-five, and has held supreme power in Cuba for half a century. At eighty-three years old, the King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej ranks as the longest-serving head of the state: his rule began in 1946. Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia's king, is eighty-six. The Supreme Leader, who also calls himself Dear Leader, Our Father, The General and Generalissimo, will soon turn seventy. His real name is Kim Jong Il, the cruel tyrant of North Korea.

These five are very sick. Some may die in 2011. But even if this does not happen, their physical weakness creates political weakness that will force their countries to go through complicated and unpredictable power shifts.

The ripple effects of these transitions will reach beyond the borders of their nations.

Egypt is a fundamental player in the Arab world and the Cuban influence in Latin America is well known. Thailand's precarious political balance could easily collapse after the King's death and the turmoil can spill over onto neighboring countries. What happens in Saudi Arabia greatly influences your gas and heating bills and more broadly politics in the Middle East and as far as Pakistan. An armed conflict in the Korean peninsula would have large and immediate effects on the global economy. In fact, North Korea's recent bellicosity is intimately linked to its succession process.

These five countries are very different in their politics, economics, geography, demography and culture. Yet they are uncannily similar in terms of the succession processes of their current leaders.

All in the Family

Hosni Mubarak is doing his best to leave his job to his son Gamal. Fidel left power to his brother Raúl. Kim Jong Il has anointed his twenty-six-year-old son Kim Jong-un as his successor. Thanks to unknown military merits young Kim was just promoted to four-star general. His father has also decided that, at least for now, his successor should be referred to in the official propaganda as "Bright Comrade." If George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush were presidents, ask the Kims and the Mubaraks, why not us?

In the case of kings, family succession is more obvious. And also more complicated. King Abdullah appointed his stepbrother Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz as heir. The problem is that the younger successor is also an octogenarian. And he too is quite sick, having battled—or perhaps he is still battling—cancer. Succession decisions are made through complicated and secret negotiations involving the different factions of the Saudi royal family.

The same is true in Thailand. The king's son, Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (fifty-seven years old) is the natural heir. But while his father is revered, the prince is feared and unpopular. His controversial love life, his adoration of Fu-Fu, his poodle that has a military rank and sometimes sits in banquets, and the constant rumors about some of his more unsavory friends stand in sharp contrast with the admiration for his sister, Princess Sirindhorn. One possible, and highly speculative, scenario is that on his deathbed, the king could skip his son and appoint the princess or one of his grandchildren. In any case, the last thing troubled Thailand needs is to add to the violent political confrontations taking place in the street a power struggle inside the royal palace.

Sons, Brothers and... Generals

Another common denominator in these five countries is the fundamental role that the armed forces play in the succession process. All of these governments depend on the military to retain their grip on power. In Egypt, the president's son's lack of military experience and his promises of economic and political reforms have not gone down well with the generals. Raúl Castro is not only Fidel's brother but for decades he was the head of the armed forces. In Saudi Arabia, the princes who control the military or intelligence services are best situated for succession, or at least have a disproportionate influence in the selection process.

Once the "Dear Leader" disappears, North Korea will most likely not be run by the "Bright Comrade," but by a military junta. In Thailand, generals have a long tradition of coups and heavy-handed intervention in matters of state. They will not be passive observers of the succession process that will unfold after the king's death.

Age is Unforgiving

"There is no evil that lasts a hundred years, or a body that can resist it," goes the old saying. Autocrats that look to extend their mandate beyond their death by leaving in power their son or brother run afoul of this adage. They are keen to ensure that their evil legacy lasts longer than one hundred years. In some cases, and to the detriment of their long-suffering societies, they will succeed. In others, the body—that is, society—will not resist the extension of the evil, that is, more of the same bit with a different leader.

Some or all of these five old and frail men will pass away next year. Their deaths will change more than their countries.

Connie Mack Named Western Hemisphere Chair

Mack Named Chairman of Western Hemisphere Subcommittee in 112th Congress

Congressman Connie Mack (FL-14) today was named Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere for the 112th Congress. Mack currently serves as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee.

The Western Hemisphere Subcommittee oversees matters affecting U.S. foreign policy and political relations in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

Mack said:

"I'm truly honored to be named Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee and to continue my work on addressing the pressing issues facing the region.

With freedom and free markets under continuous assault by thugocrats like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and the Castro Brothers in Cuba, the United States must remain committed to countering the influence of these socialist leaders in the region. We must also work with our allies in the hemisphere to eradicate terrorist organizations like the FARC, keep a watchful eye on the dangerous ties between Russia, Iran and Venezuela, and build relationships based on our shared goals of freedom, security and prosperity.

I look forward to working with Chairman Ros-Lehtinen, the other Subcommittee Chairmen, and the entire Committee on improving U.S. foreign policy and preserving freedom around the world."

Incoming Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said, "Congressman Mack does not hesitate to call a dictator a dictator, or, as is his preferred term, a "thugocrat." Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa are all placing democracy under siege in Latin America, and I am happy to have Connie standing up to their tyrannical advances as Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere."

The Cardinal's Hope vs. Castro's Reality

Sobering news from the AP:

The Roman Catholic Cardinal who helped broker a deal with Cuba to free dissidents jailed in a 2003 crackdown says he hopes the government will make good on its pledge to release the last 11 remaining in prison.

Havana Archbishop Jaime Ortega says "hope springs eternal" that Havana will honor its "formal promise" to free them.

Nearly two months have past since the November 7th deadline given for the release of these political prisoners.

Yet, just two weeks ago, Cardinal Ortega -- who originally failed to mention that the condition for these prisoner's release was forced exile -- expressed confidence that they "will be released."

Now, he says "hope springs eternal."

Thus, all of those negotiations with Cuban dictator Raul Castro and the international public relations tour on its behalf, was essentially a hoax -- only one political prisoner has been released in Cuba (and hundreds arrested since then).

As 19th century U.S. abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison wisely stated,

"With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost."

The Battle Goes On

From CBS4:

Miami Republican Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart is one of the highest profile voices pressing for a free Cuba.

He is retiring from political office next month. On Monday a political who's-who celebrated his service during the annual U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC (political action committee) luncheon at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables where the audience vowed to continue a hard line against the Castro regime.

South Florida Republicans and Democrats in Congress agree on little, but they are united on Cuba policy. Weston Democratic Congressman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz thanked Diaz-Balart for his work and said, "Under no circumstances should the U.S. Congress unconditionally embrace the Castro regime until all political prisoners are released and allowed to remain in their homeland, until free and fair elections are held, and until Cubans can freely leave the island."

Diaz-Balart chose to retire after 18 years in Congress. In 1996 he helped lead efforts to strengthen the embargo against Cuba after the shoot down of Brothers to the Rescue planes. The Castro brothers continue to hold on, though, decade after decade.

New Cuban-American faces in Congress will soon take up the fight. That number will include Miami Republican Senator-elect Marco Rubio.

But Rubio told the audience he is weary of being asked when American policy toward Cuba will change. Rubio said, "My answer is, when is Cuba policy going to change? How come that question is never asked?"

Miami Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart will keep his brother in mind on the House floor. He said he is bound to think, "What would Lincoln do? What would Lincoln say in this particular moment? But I've got his phone number."

He has not revealed his future plans but Lincoln Diaz-Balart is resolute about Cuba's future. He insisted it will not be what he calls the China model, one of authoritarian rule but a capitalist-styled economy.

Diaz-Balart, after receiving a standing ovation, said to his audience, "The inevitable future for Cuba is the other one, a democratic transition."

The wait for that return to democracy has lasted nearly 52 years. There is the iron willed determination of Cuban-American lawmakers in Congress to compel change in Cuba matched against ironfisted resistance to that change by the Castro regime.

The battle goes on.

Here's the video version:

Wikileaks Vindicates Cuba “Embargo”

Monday, December 20, 2010
By Humberto Fontova in The Americano:

Rubbing his hands in triumphant glee, Castro boasted at maximum volume to the entire world that he was freeing Cuba from "Yankee economic slavery!" (Che Guevara's term, actually) and that "he would never repay a penny!"

"Cuba Policy isn't made in Washington," griped Bill Press in a CNN column. "It's made in Miami by former Batista supporters who think they can reverse history!"

"Bush's defense of the (Cuban) embargo serves a family voting bloc and little else!" once griped Kathleen Parker in a column.

"A small number of powerful exiles in South Florida cow our politicians into keeping the crazy Cuban policy!" griped media baron Al Neuharth in USA Today.

"The powerful Cuban exile lobby has long dictated the U.S.'s Cuba policy." Tim Padgett, Time Magazine.

And it goes much further. Those insufferable Cuban-exile lobbyists managed to get Bill Buckley and Gore Vidal, Chris Dodd and Larry Craig, Pat Buchanan and Antonio Villaraigosa, George Will and Noam Chomsky, The Brookings Institution and the Cato Institute, The Wall Street Journal and The Nation, the U.S. Communist Party and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- all on the same side of an issue. All of the above have come out publicly against the so-called Cuban embargo. All blame it on the "politically-powerful" and "well-heeled" Cuban-American lobby.

And you are quite welcome, American taxpayer. To wit:

"A (Wikileaks) cable reported on a breakfast hosted by a U.S. diplomat in Havana with commercial and economic counselors from five of Cuba's largest trading partners — China, Spain, Canada, Brazil and Italy — plus key creditor nations France and Japan. The diplomats reported continuing problems collecting their Cuban debts, with the Japanese noting that after restructuring all of Cuba's official debt in 2009, Tokyo had not received any payments….Even China admitted to having problems getting paid on time and complained about Cuban requests to extend credit terms from one to four years," the cable said. "France and Canada responded with 'welcome to the club.'"

Last month, South Africa was also forced to write off 1 billion Rand debt owed to them by Cuba.

In fact, despite all the media and political gabble and scribble about some "Cuba embargo," the U.S. currently serves as Cuba's biggest food supplier and fifth biggest import partner, selling $710 million worth of U.S. products to Castro's fiefdom in 2008, and transacting more than $2 billion worth of business with Cuba in the last decade. Nowadays the so-called U.S. embargo merely stipulates that the Castro regime pay cash up front through a third–party bank for all U.S. agricultural products; no Ex-Im (U.S. taxpayer) financing of such sales. Enacted by the Bush team in 2001 this cash-up-front policy has kept the U.S. taxpayer among the few in the world not screwed and tattooed by Fidel Castro. Just ask the French, Canadians, Japanese, South African, etc.

So again: U.S. taxpayer, you are quite welcome.

Not that Castroite sponging started recently. In fact, per-capita-wise, for years Cuba has qualified as the world's biggest debtor nation with a foreign debt of close to $50 billion, a credit rating nudging Somalia's, and an uninterrupted record of defaults. In 2008 one of the world's most respected economic forecasting firms, the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit, ranked Cuba as virtually the world's worst country business-wise. Only Iran and Angola ranked lower. This firm predicted that Cuba's abysmal business climate would remain that way for the next five years, at the very least.

Standard & Poors refuses even to rate Cuba, regarding the economic figures released by the regime as utterly bogus.

In 1986 Cuba defaulted on most of its foreign debt to Europe. Three years ago France's version of the U.S. government's Export-Import Bank, (named COFACE) cut off Cuba's credit line. Mexico's Bancomex quickly followed suit. This came about because the Castro regime stuck it to French taxpayers for $175 million and to Mexican taxpayers for $365 million. Bancomex was forced to impound Cuban assets in three different countries in an attempt to recoup its losses.

Last year the Castro regime suddenly froze $1 billion held in Cuban banks by foreign (mostly Spanish) businessmen. "Cuban banks informed depositors that they had no foreign exchange to back up the convertible peso in which many were doing business," explained Reuters Havana Bureau.

However valuable to American taxpayers today, U.S. sanctions against Castro's Stalinist regime were not originally enacted due to their abysmal credit rating. In July 1960, Castro's KGB-trained security forces stormed into 5,911 U.S. owned businesses in Cuba and stole them all at Soviet gunpoint – $2 billion were heisted from outraged U.S. businessmen and stockholders. Rubbing his hands in triumphant glee, Castro boasted at maximum volume to the entire world that he was freeing Cuba from "Yankee economic slavery!" (Che Guevara's term, actually) and that "he would never repay a penny!"

This is the only promise Fidel Castro has ever kept in his life.

Humberto Fontova is the author of four books, including Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant and Exposing the Real Che Guevara.

Few Coincidences in Castro's Cuba

There are few coincidences in Castro's totalitarian Cuba.

Castro attacks:

On December 3rd, 2009, the Castro regime arbitrarily arrested U.S. development worker Alan Gross for helping Cuba's Jewish community connect to the Internet.

On June 11th, 2010, Fidel Castro "reflected" that "the hatred felt by the state of Israel against the Palestinians is such that they would not hesitate to send the one and a half million men, women and children of that country to the crematoria where millions of Jews of all ages were exterminated by the Nazis. It would seem that the Fuehrer's [Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's] swastika is today Israel's banner."

The U.S. pressures -- better late than never:

On July 14th, 2010, at a State Department reception in honor of Hannah Rosenthal, the Obama Administration's special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, Hillary Clinton urges U.S. Jewish groups to push for Alan Gross's release.

Castro steps back:

On August 31st, Fidel Castro personally invites an Israel-hawk to Cuba, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg (just days after his article regarding Israel's bombing of Iranian nuclear sites), treats him like a foreign dignitary, and expresses nothing but support for Israel's self-determination -- for the first time ever (historically, Castro trained PLO terrorist in Cuba and even sent troops to fight against Israel in the Yom Kippur War).

Castro takes preventive measures:

On December 3rd, 2010, one year after the arrest of Alan Gross, he's still being held without charges or trial -- no due process whatsoever. Therefore, Adela Dworin, president of Havana's Temple Beth Shalom, (all-of-the-sudden) publicly denies ever knowing U.S. development worker Alan Gross and even (incredibly) claims that Cuba's Jews can "communicate freely."

Castro rewards "obedience":

Two days later, on December 5th, Cuban dictator Raul Castro celebrates Hanukkah for the first time ever at Havana's Temple Beth Shalom with -- naturally -- Adela Dworin.

Machiavelli would be proud.

Here's Raul and Adela "sharing a moment":

Only Suckers Need Apply

Sunday, December 19, 2010
According to the AP:

"The life of the revolution is in the balance," [Raul] Castro said in a two-hour speech closing out a twice-yearly meeting of the island's national assembly. He repeated his contention that the dollop of limited capitalism being injected into the economy does not mean the end of the revolution's ideal to create an egalitarian utopia.

"The strategic economic changes are being made to sustain socialism," he said. "They are to preserve and strengthen socialism, so as to make it irrevocable."

That's quite an oxymoron.

To inject elements of capitalism in order to strengthen socialism (and make it irrevocable) means that the Castro's are only looking for a temporary reprieve from the current crisis. Then, they'll hit reverse.

Sound familiar? That's exactly what they did a decade ago.

The AP story continues:

Still, Castro had a message to those who wonder if the Cuban government is serious this time around — since past economic openings have fizzled.

He said the changes are "the result of profound meditations and analysis, and we can assure you this time there will be no going back."

For months, media outlets and Cuba analysts have been touting these economic changes as unprecedented. Now, Raul just admitted it's more of the same, except that this time the regime won't hit reverse -- no really, they "promise."

Yet here's the clincher: If these measures are only meant to strengthen socialism (and make it irrevocable), then he just confessed their plan is to hit reverse.

As usual, it's more of the same lies.

So who will bailout the regime this time?

Like Canadian and European tourists in the 1990's and Hugo Chavez this past decade -- only suckers need apply.

Chavez's Guardian Coup

Renowned Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington divided coups into three types:

1. Breakthrough coups - In which a revolutionary army overthrows a traditional government and creates a new bureaucratic elite.

2. Guardian coups - The stated aim of this form of coup is to improve public order, efficiency, or to end corruption. There is usually no fundamental shift in the structure of power, and the leaders of these types of coups generally portray their actions as a temporary and unfortunate necessity.

3. Veto coups - These coups occur when the army vetoes mass participation and social mobilization.

Now read the following news item from Reuters:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is taking decree powers for a year in a move he says is needed to deal with disastrous floods but opponents denounce as a calculated blow to democracy.

Did Chavez stage a coup?

Answer: #2

Will the OAS denounce Chavez's coup as a violation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter?

Don't hold your breath.