USCD PAC Statement on Alan Gross

Saturday, March 12, 2011
From the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC:

The Castro regime has just announced the simultaneous conviction and sentencing of American development worker Alan Gross to 15 years in prison.

It's unlikely a coincidence that the Castro regime makes this announcement on a Saturday afternoon, as the world's attention is focused on the natural disasters ravaging Japan.

Alan Gross has already been held by the Castro regime without charges or trial for 14 months for helping the island's Jewish community connect to the Internet.

The time has come for the Obama Administration to turn its rhetoric into tangible repercussions against the Castro regime. It must make unquestionably clear to rogue regimes that American hostage taking is unacceptable and will not reap dividends.

White House on Alan Gross

Statement from National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor on Alan Gross:

Today's sentencing adds another injustice to Alan Gross's ordeal. He has already spent too many days in detention and should not spend one more. We urge the immediate release of Mr. Gross so that he can return home to his wife and family.

USINT on Alan Gross

U.S. spokeswoman Gloria Berbena at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana said Gross was "in Cuba helping average Cubans connect with the rest of the world. It is appalling that the Cuban government seeks to criminalize what most of the world deems normal, in this case access to information and technology."

Amnesty's Newest Prisoner of Conscience

As we share in the joy of the release of Cuban pro-democracy leader Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, it's important not to lose sight of the imprisonment (since December 2010) and quickly deteriorating health of one of Castro's newest prisoners of conscience, Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina.

From Amnesty International:

Cuba must release prisoner of conscience on hunger strike

Amnesty International today called on Cuban authorities to release an activist on hunger strike who was detained for his human rights work three months ago and faces trial at the end of March.

Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina, the president and co-founder of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy, was arrested last December in relation to a meeting he organized at his home in August 2010 and for anti-government banners he displayed outside his home.

Néstor, his brother Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina and three other members of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy - Enyor Díaz Allen, Roberto González Pelegrín and Francisco Manzanet - have been charged with public order offenses relating to an attack on his home by a mob opposed to the meeting. The five men were arrested in August 2010 and released the following month. Only Rodriguez Lobaina was arrested again.

"Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina has spent more than three months in prison for expressing his opinions, defending democracy and promoting human rights in Cuba. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience jailed solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression and is calling on the Cuban authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally, or bear the responsibility of the impact of the hunger strike on Néstor's physical integrity," said Gerardo Ducos of Amnesty International. "Néstor imprisonment is yet another example of the suppression of the rights to freedom of expression and association in Cuba."

Held at Combinado de Guantánamo prison, Rodríguez Lobaina started his hunger strike on February 15. The next day he was transferred to an isolation cell and denied water for eight days. Rodríguez Lobaina's health deteriorated during his hunger strike and on February 28 he was transferred to a health post in the prison. He was then transferred to Augustino Neto Provincial Hospital on March 1.

Rodríguez Lobaina was arrested again by state security agents in Guantanamo on December 9, 2010. He was pepper sprayed and pushed roughly into a police car in front of his 10-year-old daughter who was left alone in the street as her father was taken into custody. While in detention Néstor says he has suffered beatings and threats from other inmates.

Dr. Biscet is Finally Home

Friday, March 11, 2011
After 12 years in Castro's dungeons, Cuban pro-democracy leader Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet is finally home.

That'll be Quite a Day

Unity, Leadership and Respect

For those who have argued -- unwittingly or purposefully -- that Cuba's pro-democracy movement lacks unity and leadership:

Think again.

Note the observations from various dissidents (of varying philosophies) in the Miami Herald article below:

Cuban dissident Oscar Biscet to be released

Oscar Elías Biscet, one of Cuba's best-known political prisoners, will be freed soon, the Catholic Church announced.

The Cuban Catholic Church announced Thursday the upcoming release of political prisoner Oscar Elías Biscet, the most unwavering and best-known dissident of the 75 jailed during a repressive wave in 2003.

Biscet, a doctor who has been serving a 25-year sentence for alleged activities against state security, is the president of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights.

Biscet, who is black, has become one of the best-known opponents in Cuba and has earned the respect of both human rights groups and African American activists in the United States.

From Cuba, dissident Guillermo Fariñas said that Biscet's release represents a triumph of the peaceful opposition against a totalitarian regime that consistently violates individual freedoms.

"It's great news. Biscet is a man of integrity who could contribute to unify the Cuban opposition movement with all the ideas he has worked on," Fariñas said. "He is an anti-Castro symbol who began to confront the regime because of his opposition to abortion and later got involved in other civil society issues." [...]

Former political prisoner Pedro Argüelles Morán said Biscet's release was encouraging for all Cubans fighting for freedom and democracy in the country. "It's very important to see him free for what he represents to the people, for activists and exiles," he said. "He is one more person on the streets denouncing human rights violations. His release is very important."

Independent economist and journalist Héctor Palacios said Biscet represents a great opportunity for the nation's future.

"He is smart and has a lot of following," he said. "I wish he comes out healthy and as upbeat as always.''

Bringing Down Chavez

It seems that Venezuelan tyrant Hugo Chavez -- a close ally of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi -- is not too popular amongst Libyan rebels fighting for freedom.

According to BBC:

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez loses Libya stadium honour

A stadium in eastern Libya named in honour of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been stripped of its title, opposition groups say.

The Hugo Chavez stadium outside Benghazi has been renamed "Martyrs of February", in memory of people killed fighting to overthrow the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
President Chavez is a close ally of Colonel Gaddafi.

Last week he offered to mediate in the conflict in Libya.

"The name has been officially changed to 'Martyrs of February,'" the policeman responsible for guarding the stadium, Jaled al-Barghati, told the AFP news agency.

"The decision was made by the [opposition] National Council following a request from the local population," he added.

A Transformational Year For Cuba Policy

From the Yale Journal of International Affairs:

A Transformational Year For Cuba Policy

by Mauricio Claver-Carone

Since Fidel Castro fell ill in 2006 and transferred power to his brother Raul, members of Congress have been weighing possible options in U.S. policy toward Cuba, partially by raising the fundamental question: "is there a viable pro-democracy movement in Cuba?"

The uncertainty is not surprising. For years much of the foreign policy establishment in New York and Washington, and advocates of "normalizing" relations with Cuba, have argued there are no viable alternatives to Cuba's totalitarian dictatorship. The only answer is to "throw in the towel," unilaterally lift U.S. sanctions and engage the Castros. Somehow this engagement is supposed to alter their ruthless behavior.

That position had been music to the Castros' ears. But on February 23, 2010, it was permanently debunked. That tragic morning, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a forty-two year old afro-Cuban plumber and pro-democracy activist, died after an eighty-five day hunger strike. He was protesting the abuses of the Castro regime, his unjust imprisonment and denial of medical care.

Literally overnight, the international community's focus dramatically shifted. All of a sudden, there was undoubtedly a concrete pro-democracy movement in Cuba, noted for its courage and resilience. Since then, there is hardly a news story about Cuba that does not mention the opposition movement. While qualifiers such as "small," "fractional," and "divided" are frequently used by foreign news bureaus in Havana as they describe the pro-democracy movement—likely to avoid being booted from the island by the Castro regime—foreign reports no longer ignore the fact that a movement exists.

These accounts highlight a highly diverse group, challenging the Cuban state in a multitude of ways. There are the quixotic efforts of the wives, sisters, and daughters of Cuba's political prisoners, known as the Ladies in White, who dress in white and parade through public plazas. New regional bases of popular support are being carved out by leaders such as Jorge Luis Perez Garcia "Antunez" in the central province of Matanzas, by Orlando Zapata Tamayo's mother and siblings in the eastern province of Holguin, and by the Rodriguez Lobaina brothers in the Castros' home province of Santiago de Cuba. These follow the historic trend of Cuba's most prevalent revolutionary movements—against Spanish colonialism in the nineteenth century and against the Batista dictatorship in the 1950s—both of which originated in the eastern provinces and expanded westward to Havana. And then there is the stinging critique of the island's ever-growing blogger movement, led by Generation Y's Yoani Sanchez.

Cuba's pro-democracy movement is becoming an increasingly difficult force to ignore. And for better or worse, everyone knows it.

The Castro regime knows it.

It is no coincidence that Fidel and Raul have spent the better part of 2010 doing back-flips to divert attention from the opposition. They have brought Fidel "back from the dead"—as he himself now boasts—for an ongoing series of speeches and interviews in which he has neurotically predicted nuclear holocaust and admitted the failings of Cuba's socialist model (though he later recanted). The Castros have extended land-leases for foreigners to build sailing marinas and golf courses—for the use of foreigners only, of course. And most importantly, they began a crisis management campaign to clean up their image by announcing the release of dozens of political prisoners to Spain, although they will never be allowed to return to Cuba. Throughout the world, the Castro regime is now seen as making concessions in order to draw attention away from the pro-democracy movement.

The Catholic Church knows it.

At the peak of a summer standoff led by the Ladies in White and a hunger strike by a former political prisoner, Guillermo Farinas, the Catholic Church quickly saw an opportunity to become relevant, after decades of religious oppression and institutional silence. Catholic leaders volunteered themselves to intercede with the Castro regime to negotiate the release of political prisoners. What remains to be seen is whether the Church's intervention strengthened or weakened the pro-democracy movement by downplaying their role in the negotiations. Regardless, it represented an acknowledgment of the movement's existence—and the potential power to be derived from it—by the Church.

The Spanish government knows it.

Just as the Catholic Church moved to intercede, the Spanish government weighed in as well. But unlike the Church, it was not motivated by its waning influence. Instead, it intervened as part of its ongoing effort to protect billions in investments on the island. Nothing is worse for business than instability and unpredictability. Again, this is a nod to the power of the opposition to disrupt business as usual.

Now finally, the U.S. Congress also appears to recognize it.

Instead of asking: is there a viable pro-democracy movement, members of Congress are asking: how can the United States support it?

In a July 14 letter to the U.S. Congress, some 500 pro-democracy leaders in Cuba explained how the United States might help, or at least avoid setting the movement back:

"At a moment such as this, to be benevolent with the dictatorship would mean solidarity with the oppressors of the Cuban nation. [We] believe that the freedom of Cuba will not arrive by means of the pocket-book or the lips of libidinous tourists, who are aseptic to the pain of the Cuban family. Rather, it will come through the efforts of those who, from within and abroad, fight for democratic change in Cuba."

Plainly stated, the message of these pro-democracy leaders is simple: we are here, we are strong, and there is no reason to bail out the Castro regime.

Mauricio Claver-Carone is a director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC and founding editor of CapitolHillCubans.com in Washington, D.C. He is an attorney who formerly served with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and has served on the full-time faculty of The Catholic University of America's School of Law and adjunct faculty of The George Washington University's National Law Center.

Petrobras Leaves Castro Oil-less

Thursday, March 10, 2011
How could this be?

The "experts" had assured us that Brazil would be reaping profits from Cuba's supposed (yet obviously mythical) oil "bonanza."

Perhaps the Ford Foundation will now give Cuba "experts" another grant to figure out what went wrong with their predictions.

According to Reuters:

Petrobras has relinquished Cuba oil block- official

Brazilian oil giant Petrobras has withdrawn from an offshore oil exploration block in Cuba's waters that it leased amid great fanfare in 2008, a Brazilian official said Thursday, citing poor prospects.

Marco Aurelio Garcia, foreign policy adviser to President Dilma Rousseff, told reporters
exploratory work off Cuba's northern coast did not "give results."

When asked if Petrobras had abandoned the block, he said: "Yes, that was already decided some time back. Petrobras withdrew from that (block). We're sorry, but the truth is you have to work with tangible elements and there wasn't any security of that in this block."


Surely without coincidence, Castro's oil company (Cupet) called for more energy saving measures yesterday.

A Lesson in Civility for Castro's Thugs

This week, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights (CCHR) released a statement expressing concern over the well-being of two purged Castro officials, Conrado Hernandez and Raul Castellanos Lage, who have been in prison for the last two years without trial or charges.

Note the irony:

The CCHR is an opposition group, considered "illegal" by the Castro regime, which gathers information on dissidents and political prisoners.

During their time in positions of authority, the imprisoned Castro officials never lifted a finger to support Cuba's dissidents and political prisoners. To the contrary, they were de facto oppressors.

Yet today, their fortune has been reversed.

And who are the only ones speaking out for these officials' well-being?

Their former victims.

For those who may not remember, Hernandez and Castellanos Lage were purged alongside former Vice President Carlos Lage and Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, who for years were hailed by the international media and Cuba "experts" as the future leaders of the regime.

They too have been forgotten by their former promoters.

Twit of the Day

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
From the Irish magazine JOE:

Twit of the Day

Twitter isn't just for teen pop idols or Charlie Sheen's latest ramblings – even communist leaders are getting in on the act. Case in point Cuban political leader Fidel Castro, who has just hit 100,000 followers after a year on the site.

Fidel's Twitter page, entitled 'Reflections of Fidel', offers daily musings on political affairs from the 84-year-old. Fidel follows just 19 Twitters users, including Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez and the official Twitter page for Cuban baseball.

Castro's page is the first Cuban account to pass 100,000 followers, though just 2% of Cuba's 11.2 million population have internet access.

Surprisingly, Fidel didn't tweet any congratulations to his followers upon reaching the milestone and instead continued his recent tweets, which have warned of NATO intervention in Libya.

Despite this week's success, Castro has some way to go to pass out his fellow worldwide leaders – the aforementioned Hugo Chávez has close to 1.3m followers, British PM David Cameron boasts 1.7m, while US President Barack Obama sets the standard with over 7m followers.

Castro's American Hostage

From the Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board:

Cuba's American Hostage

Alan Gross could get 20 years.

While Arabs are ousting dictators, it's tyranny as usual in Cuba, where U.S. government contractor Alan Gross went on trial last week for espionage. Or at least that's what the Castro regime said took place. The civilized world doesn't know because the two-day proceeding was held behind closed doors. The regime simply announced that a verdict would soon be delivered, which could condemn the 61-year-old to 20 years in prison.

Mr. Gross stands accused of bringing computer equipment to the island to help Cuban Jews communicate with the diaspora. The dictatorship, which is terrified of the Internet, says Mr. Gross acted "against the integrity and independence" of Cuba. He has been held in Villa Marista prison since December 2009.

One speculation is that Fidel and Raul Castro want to trade Mr. Gross for five Cubans arrested in 1998 and convicted for spying in the U.S. President Obama can't make that trade. Yet the U.S. is not powerless, despite the feeble comments by State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley last week that the U.S. has been in "dialogue" with Cuba for the past year and has "raised Mr. Gross's case in every instance."

The language the Castro brothers really understand is financial. Every year the U.S. issues 20,000 permanent resident visas for Cubans to enter the U.S. The program is a safety valve for discontent on the island, and the emigres who join millions of their brethren in the U.S. become new sources of revenue for Cuba when they send remittances home. A message that future visas will depend on the return of Mr. Gross would get the regime's attention.

We warned a year ago that Castro would use this incident to test Mr. Obama, and Mr. Gross's trial is a sign that the regime believes it has nothing to worry about.

Guilty Consciences Prevail

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
For two decades, Canadian tourists have been one of the Castro regime's main sources of income.

However, it seems that guilty consciences are finally prevailing, as there were two "revelations" in Canadian newspapers today from these "useful" tourists for the Castro regime.

Unfortunately, the damage has already been done.

A lesson for those that want American tourists to supplement them.

The first
is entitled, "Tourists milked dry":

We have just returned from Cuba, which is the thing to do if you should ever find yourself there.

Cuban vacations are run like dairy farms. We tourist-cows are herded into room-stalls and vigorously milked of dollar-pesos until dry, then returned to pasture to "freshen" for next year... although for us, there never will be a next year.

We were on an all-inclusive holiday -- sorry, I meant all-intrusive, for we never could get away from the music or the noise of renovation, maintenance and construction -even after moving three times.

And if the "farming" operation doesn't get to you, life among the herd will. Many young Canadians acted like the worst of Americans; the Quebec youth acted with the arrogance of privilege; the Russian young were quite simply mafioso.

Another thing. This business where we must bring clothing, pens and trinkets for the poor Cuban children: Enough already. I have been to countries far poorer than Cuba, but only in Cuba have I seen begging elevated to entitlement.

If you must eat to excess, drink to excess and don't mind noise to excess, then I suppose Cuba is OK. If you want quiet, interaction with the citizenry of a foreign country and culture, go elsewhere.

The second, "Just a voice":

These happenings bring to mind a recent all inclusive trip to Cuba, a one party communist state. The day we arrived the Egyptian protests started and we did wonder if that was going to happen in Cuba,but it didn't. We were primarily in a large tourist complex although there was no problem touring the country if you wished. Cuban relations with the U.S. are nil. There are no American tourists. Our limited impression of Cuban living standards were given by the employees or those we met. The people are very friendly and warm . There has to be a two generation gap between the young and ruling Castro regime and you can sense the urge for change by the young and it will come. Their salaries are about a dollar a day. Unemployment is high, people are poor, although millions are being poured into tourism. Basic compulsory education is to grade six. To be a waitress or other venues of work requires an additional two years of schooling regardless of age. You cannot leave the country without being penalized. Housing is to be desired. You do not rent. Medical care is very good and many come from outside Cuba for treatment. We had about 27 T.V. channels in our room. English, French, Italian, Russian, 3 Chinese, CTV and others. However the Cuban citizen only has four channels, two sports and two political. There is no Internet for the Cuban people. There is a close relationship between Cuba and China as can be seen by their new plush buses, scooters and equipment and yes their quality questionable.

The beaches are beautiful and can be endless and surprising. We ran into a couple of young men who asked if we were coming back if we could bring some clothes for them, later was the first time we ever saw topless women bathers -- no big deal -- a boobs a boob. Uncovered is discovered as part of the human body with it's own unique function and also an inspiration to the romantic and those in the world of art.

As pleasant as it is for the tourist in Cuba, it makes you feel uncomfortable that the people are considered a nobody and held down by a small group although they like you so much you cant leave the airport before paying a $25.00 each exit fee.

The Cubans have no voice, no "vote" as to their destiny, something precious we have and could remind ourselves by visiting Princeton's Veterans Square.

Hillary and Michelle on Yoani

From today's 2011 International Women of Courage Awards ceremony at the State Department.

First Lady Michelle Obama:

It wasn't long before Yoani Sanchez's blog had caught fire on the Internet and was being downloaded onto computer flash drives and passed from person to person. When it was censored by the state, she continued her blog through what she calls a "citizen network" -- a network of people outside of Cuba who helped publish her posts. Her writing is now translated into 15 languages. Fifteen.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

Yoani Sanchez of Cuba. She is the young blogger that Mrs. Obama referenced. She has used technology to promote positive change. She has created an interactive space for the exchange of ideas and free expression. She has given voice to the concerns and aspirations of her fellow citizens. And, as governments are learning around the world, you cannot stop the internet. And so her words, despite her government's best efforts, are being translated into other languages, are being picked up and spread around because freedom knows no boundaries. And she deserves our thanks for demonstrating that again and again.

Yoani Out-Tweets Fidel

It's being reported by the AP -- as if it were some magnanimous news event -- that Fidel Castro has surpassed 100,000 Twitter followers.

The headline reads, "Cuba's Fidel Castro is island's maximum leader in cyberspace."

Not only is this pathetic, but factually imprecise.

Despite monopolizing all of Cuba's Internet and telecommunication services, Fidel has 100,000 Twitter followers for his ramblings.

Yet, the island's top Twitter is Cuban pro-democracy blogger Yoani Sanchez, who despite being persecuted and harassed by the Castro regime, has nearly 110,000 followers.

If Fidel can't out-tweet Yoani while "cheating" through censorship and repression -- just imagine if all Cubans were free to Tweet-at-will.

Fidel would be at the bottom of the list.

Freudian Slip on Cuba Travel

In announcing the Obama Administration's expansion of U.S. airports authorized to host charter flights to Cuba for "purposeful" travel, the International Business Traveler (IBT) seems to have suffered a Freudian slip.

The Obama Administration argues that it's "purposeful" travel policy is aimed at helping the Cuban people.

And just last week, at a hearing in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held steadfastly that the goal of this policy is "not to please the Raul Castro government."

Well, taking Secretary Clinton at her word -- if it's not the goal, then it's definitely an unintended consequence.

As the IBT let slip:

"The move is being perceived as a great beginning to support Cuba's failing economy by providing additional resources."

In case you still have any doubt, a recent IMF Report reached the same conclusion.

On the Right Side of History

For years, Spanish companies have invested billions in the Castro regime.

Despite limited short-term returns (and the resulting high price of repression for the Cuban people), Spanish investors are betting that they'll be well-positioned for business opportunities in a post-Castro Cuba.

Meanwhile, U.S. advocates of partnering with the Castro regime argue that opportunities are currently being lost to Spain and other unscrupulous investors.

But are they?

Here's a look at the Libyan example from Turkey's English periodical, Today's Zaman:

Turkish investments in Libya, particularly of construction companies, are estimated to be between $8 billion to $13 billion. Under such circumstances Ankara is still hedging its policy towards the regime. In other words, it is not willing to cut its ties with Gaddafi and call for his departure as it famously did in the case of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt [...]

[O]ne should ask: Is Turkey right to hedge in Libya? After all, Washington did the same as long as it had American citizens on the ground. Obama raised his voice against Gaddafi only when it was safe to do so because all American citizens had been rescued. On the other hand, Turkey should also realize that sooner or later Gaddafi will have to go. It is time to recognize that the billions of dollars of Turkish investments are gone. Ankara should be on the right side of history.


The U.S. should remain on the right side of history.

As for Spain -- tough luck.

Time for a New Trick

Monday, March 7, 2011
The world's despots are quickly running out of tricks.

One of the oldest has been to (absurdly) use the U.S. as a bogeyman for their failures and repression.

See this excerpt from The Economist:

"I'm going to reveal a secret," announced Yemen's increasingly embattled president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to an audience at the university of his capital, Sana'a, on March 1st. "There is an operations room in Tel Aviv that aims to destabilize the Arab world." He added, unwisely for a ruler who relies heavily on American aid, to the tune of $300m last year: "It is all controlled by the White House." Playing on fears of foreign involvement is an old trick. Mr Saleh needs new ones quickly if he is to fend off the rising tide of opposition at home.

And not to be left behind,

Cuban Television will broadcast on Monday evening a documentary about "the U.S. subversive plans" against Cuba, local media said on Monday.

Problem is: a). people are not stupid and b). despots have no credibility left.

U.N. Still Denied Access to Castro's Jails

From today's report by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture to the Human Rights Council:

In November and December 2010, the Special Rapporteur reiterated requests to Cuba, Iraq and Zimbabwe whose respective Governments had extended invitations to visit their countries, but dates have yet to be agreed.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on Torture has never been allowed access to Castro's jails. Meanwhile, the last time the International Committee of the Red Cross visited Castro's jails was in July 1959 -- that's right, July 1959.

So the next time someone asks (or reports on) the number of political prisoners in Cuba, the fact remains there's no independent verification.

Five-Year Sentence for NEW Political Prisoner

While the attention of foreign news bureaus in Havana is solely focused on Alan Gross and the banishment of political prisoners to Spain, the Castro regime is seeking a five-year prison sentence for Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina, head of Cuba's Youth for Democracy Movement.

He was arrested on December 9th, 2010, and is accused of "public disorder."

Even more concerning, Rodriguez Lobaina is on the 20th day of a hunger strike and his health is dramatically deteriorating, as prison authorities have denied him water for several days.

Where's the outrage?

Overlooking a Ferry Important Fact

An article in yesterday's Orlando Sentinel conjures up images of American travelers taking a cheap ferry ride to Cuba -- and overlooking the insensitivity that the Castro regime prohibits Cubans from even approaching a vessel without risk of fine or imprisonment.

It reads like an advocacy pitch from businessmen in pursuit of a quick dollar and others looking to unconditionally normalize relations with the Castro regime.

Yet, it fails to mention a very important fact.

Just last week, President Obama extended the U.S.'s national emergency on the anchorage and movement of vessels from the U.S. to Cuba.

Thus, Obama would have to rescind the national emergency before such a ferry can operate, which seems unlikely considering it was just re-extended.

You'd think this would have been mentioned in the article, but there was too much zeal (and not enough fact).

The Ivy League of Tyrants

Sunday, March 6, 2011
Qaddafi and Castro have always been joined at the hip. Thus, the striking similarities.

Yesterday, we explored how they've effectively swindled their former colonial powers, Italy and Spain respectively, for decades.

Today's Foreign Policy reminds us of the Qaddafi (Castro) regime's past terrorist activities in three continents and its present "schooling" of 21st century tyrants.

The same past and present that advocates of normalizing relations with these regimes want us to (conveniently) forget in pursuit of their business and ideological agendas.

Here's an excerpt:

Harvard for Tyrants

How Muammar al-Qaddafi taught a generation of bad guys.

Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi is well known now for the abuses he has inflicted on his own people during more than four decades of brutal rule in Libya, but few remember the vast campaign of carnage and terrorism he orchestrated across West Africa and Europe when he was at the height of his powers.

Nor are his more recent alliance with Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and his long-standing relationship with Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua -- both of whom are busy trampling their constitutions and moving toward dictatorship -- well understood. And the fact that all three governments support the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a terrorist group that produces more than half of the world's cocaine and two-thirds of the cocaine entering the United States, is usually ignored.

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm

From AFP:

Explosions shake munitions dump in Cuba

HAVANA - A series of explosion have shaken a military munitions dump in Cuba without causing any casualties, the military announced Sunday.

The cause of the blasts, which occurred outside the town of Santiago de las Vegas, south of the capital, after 8:00 pm Saturday (0100 GMT Sunday), was not immediately known.

But a statement released by the Revolutionary Armed Forces According the the statement, the emergency situation was under control in less than three hours, and nobody was killed or injured.

Is USAID's Cuba Program "Ineffective"?

How do you reconcile these two statements from the AP's story on the sham "trial" (and now conviction) of American development worker Alan Gross?

First:

Several analysts say Cuba wanted to use the case to shine a light on the USAID programs, which have long been a source of irritation in Havana. With the trial over, they argue, Cuba has no strategic reason to keep Gross in jail much longer.

Then:

The USAID programs have been criticized repeatedly in congressional reports as being wasteful and ineffective, and funding was held up briefly in 2010 over concerns following Gross' arrest.

Apparently, the USAID program is so "ineffective" at helping Cuban civil society that the Castro regime is holding an American hostage in order to try to extort the U.S. into terminating it.

Just like Radio and TV Marti is so "ineffective" that the Castro regime spends its scarce resources trying to scramble it at all costs.

Makes perfect sense. Doesn't it?