Castro's Sprawling Racism

Saturday, July 30, 2011
Excerpt from Carlos Moore's "Putting Context to Cuba's Racial Divide":

Brought to light in 2008, the first comprehensive, officially-sanctioned document addressing the issue of race in Cuba under the Revolution, The Challenges of the Racial Problem in Cuba, paints a stark picture of the situation that exists even now in 2009 for the blacks. This graphic, 385-page document, supported by a bounty of hitherto unpublicized statistics, speaks of neglect, denial, and forceful resurgence of racism in Cuba under Communism.

The publication shows a growing impoverishment of the population as a whole, but it emphasizes that black Cubans are disproportionately affected. The old segregationist Cuba is gone, according to this document, yet, somehow the country's leadership continues to be predominantly white (71%). A majority of the country's scientists and technicians are white (72.7%), even though both races have equal rates of education.

The same whitening process affects Cuba's universities at the professorial level (80% at the University of La Habana).

In the countryside, the land that is privately held is almost totally in the hands of whites (98%), and even in the State cooperatives blacks are almost nonexistent (5%).

A robust percentage of able-bodied Cubans with jobs are white, whether male (66.9%) or female (63.8%). In contrast, the overall employment rate of blacks who are fit to work is startlingly low (34.2%). We are left to conclude that most able-bodied black Cubans are unemployed (65.8%).

Hostage-Taking Must Be Unequivocally Unacceptable

When will the Obama Administration put some teeth into its rhetorical demands for Alan Gross's release?

(Our concern is expressed at the end.)

From The Washington Post's Editorial Board:

Cuba should free Alan Gross

ALAN P. GROSS, the U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor who committed what Cuba considers the unconscionable offense of making the Internet available to members of its minuscule Jewish community, has almost exhausted possible judicial appeals of his 15-year prison sentence.

Mr. Gross, 62, a resident of Potomac, was arrested in December 2009 as he prepared to fly home from Havana. Convicted on trumped-up charges in March this year, he appeared a few days ago before Cuba's highest tribunal to appeal his conviction and plead for release. The outcome of his appeal, expected in the coming days, is certain to be dictated one way or another by Cuban leader Raul Castro — and will be a sign of whether Cuba is remotely interested in better relations with Washington.

Cuba, besides its repressive ally Venezuela, is virtually the only place in the Western Hemisphere where distributing laptop computers and satellite phone equipment intended to connect people to the Internet — Mr. Gross's supposed "crime" — could be construed as subversive. The regime in Havana is so brittle and creaky that it blanches at the idea of its subjects communicating too freely with the outside world, lest they undermine a communist system whose attempts at economic development have delivered scanty results.

There are plenty of humanitarian reasons to release Mr. Gross, who has been confined for 19 months. Somewhat overweight when he was arrested, Mr. Gross has lost 100 pounds, according to his wife and other American visitors who have been allowed to meet with him; he also suffers from gout, ulcers and arthritis. His daughter is struggling with cancer, and his mother is reported to be in poor health.

Cuban authorities have portrayed Mr. Gross as a spy involved in an enterprise aimed at undermining the regime. That seems unlikely in the extreme. In fact, Mr. Gross, a veteran development worker who had minimal command of Spanish, was part of a democratization project of the sort the U.S. government runs in countries all over the world.

At the time of his arrest, Mr. Gross was working for Development Alternatives Inc., a Bethesda firm that had won a $6 million government contract to promote democracy in Cuba. His work consisted mainly of providing computers and satellite phones to Cuban Jews, a community thought to number about 1,500, so they could access the Internet, whose use is restricted in Cuba, and contact Jewish communities beyond Cuba's shores. Not exactly a cloak-and-dagger project likely to bring the Castro brothers to their knees.

The Obama administration has made it clear that any improvement in relations with Cuba is on hold pending Mr. Gross's release. That's a fitting response to the communist regime's knee-jerk behavior in persecuting an American whose "crime," if any, may have been an excess of naivete.

(CHC: How has an improvement in relations been placed on hold? In the year-and-a-half that Mr. Gross has been held hostage by the Castro brothers, the Obama Administration has continued to take measures easing sanctions, while U.S. Senators John Kerry and Patrick Leahy have acquiesced to the regime's demands to hinder Cuba democracy programs. Thus, they've sent a very dangerous message, which further endangers Mr. Gross and other American lives: hostage-taking pays.)

Fidel and Hugo's Last Hurrah

Must-Read of the Week

Friday, July 29, 2011
By Rikki Ratliff in The Toronto Sun:

Cuba: A Pretend Paradise

Cuba has become Canada's beloved vacation destination and unofficial 11th province.

Nobody travels more to Cuba than Canadians — about 600,000 of us head there every year. With affordable non-stop flights and unbeatable all-inclusive packages, even middle-class families can afford to play in paradise.

But beyond the shoreline, the oasis turns mirage.

As we casually sip our mojitos and work on our tans, dissident journalists are silenced and jailed every day for speaking out against Castro's island "utopia."

Popular Cuban author and blogger, Yoani Sanchez, is the most recent victim to endure Castro's silent treatment.

Her crime? Publishing a tell-all book that dispels the fantasy of Cuba as a model for socialized government. Her shipment of books from the publisher were seized by the government and never made it into the country.

For her practice of free speech, she is also prohibited from leaving Cuba.

Through telephone interviews and her blog site, Generation Y, she manages to find ways to loosen the invisible chains of communism that bind her.

Others like Sanchez convicted of dissidence are sentenced anywhere from five to 25 years in prison — many of them locked up with violent criminals, subject to the worst possible treatment. All this is happening just miles from our sheltered sandy resorts.

For the adventurous traveler who dares to enter into the "real Havana," the charming portrait belies the truth, as no local will ever speak of the reality of their circumstances.

Despite his failing health, Castro's grip on public perception remains as powerful as ever.

Jimmy Escobar is an author, frequent visitor to Cuba since the '90s, and a major supporter of the Cuban people.

"Loyalists to the government are planted within the tourism industry," Escobar warned over the phone. "The regime would never allow any worker in contact with vacationing Canadians to speak ill of the government."

If we were to sanction every destination that violates basic human rights, we'd be left with few options. However, how is Canada — a country that considers itself a human rights leader on the world stage — able to reconcile propping up a government through tourism, which jails its non-violent critics?

Sure we do a necessary dance with China, one of the greatest offenders of human rights, but the billions of dollars in trade is the easy justification.

But how necessary are Varadero vacations?

While thousands of Canadians save up their hard-earned paycheques to get into Cuba, thousands more Cubans risk their lives to flee on float vessels to freedom; many are turned away by U.S. officials in the Caribbean Sea, countless others drown.

The irony that our beloved vacation spot is a hell they're trying to escape is one that cannot be ignored.

Previous talks of bringing Turks and Caicos into the Canadian fold as the 11th province sound inviting. But why not start a real revolution — and welcome in the warm island of Cuba?

That way we wouldn't have to continue to duck under our beach umbrellas at abuses we would never tolerate here at home — all because of the lure of some cheap sunshine and a good cigar.

Ratliff is senior producer of The Source with Ezra Levant on Sun News Network

'Til Their Own Death Comes Knocking

Thursday, July 28, 2011
It's fascinating how tyrants always call for the ultimate sacrifice of others on behalf of their dictatorships.

Yet, when it comes to their own death, they want the mere thought to be inviable.

From Bloomberg:

Chavez Eliminates Death From Slogan, Vows to Rule Past 2031

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called on his government to remove the word death from a military slogan and said that he plans to rule past 2031 as he prepares for a new round of chemotherapy in the "coming days."

Chavez, speaking from a balcony at the presidential palace for a celebration of his 57th birthday today, said that while he's currently in a "quarantine" of sorts while receiving treatment, he expects to live another 57 years and to win another presidential term in elections next year.

Chavez, who was jailed in 1992 for leading a failed coup after serving as a paratrooper and tank commander, called on his government to change a military slogan that he promoted from "Fatherland, Socialism or Death," to "Fatherland, Socialism or Victory. We will live and conquer."

"People-to-People" Support for MINFAR

This month, the Castro regime hosted a briefing for Latin American journalists to boast about its tourism industry.

Amongst its "successes," it highlighted that "thirteen foreign hotel chains are in charge of the administration of 28,854 rooms total, by means of 65 management contracts with national companies Cubanacan, Gran Caribe and Gaviota."

For those that don't follow Cuba closely, Cubanacan, Gran Caribe and Gaviota are companies entirely owned and operated by the Castro regime's military (Ministerio de la Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias, MINFAR).

So when the Treasury Department issues "people-to-people" licenses to Abercrombie and Kent, and other similar travel providers, that offer "exclusive accommodations at Cuba's best hotels" (11 days for $4,325 per person) -- they are directly contributing to MINFAR's bottom line.

Thus, the Cuban "people" being directly supported by such travel are General Raul Castro, General Julio Casas Regueiro, General Aberlardo Colome Ibarra, General Ramiro Valdes, Coronel Alejandro Castro Espin, Coronel Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Calleja and the rest of the Castro clan's nefarious repressive forces.

Is that the intent of Obama's "people-to-people" travel policy?

We hope not -- but sadly, it's a very real consequence.

A Courageous Protest in the Capitolio

Yesterday, Cuban pro-democracy activist Ivon Mayeza Galano courageously stood on the steps of the Capitol building ("Capitolio") in Havana with a bed-sheet reading:

"Cambios en Cuba Sin Dictadura" ("Change in Cuba Without Dictatorship")

Passers-by expressed their support, but she was promptly arrested.

Perhaps the foreign news bureaus in Havana can look into her safety and whereabouts.

Update on Hostage Crises

Wednesday, July 27, 2011
By Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Elliott Abrams:

Key Days In Our Hostage Crises

Decisions will be coming in the next few days in the cases of our hostages in Cuba and in Iran.

In Cuba, the "Supreme Peoples Court" heard the appeal of Alan Gross last Friday and should be announcing its decision very soon.

Gross is an AID contractor who Cuba has jailed since 2009 on ridiculous charges that his work for AID was actually espionage.

In Iran, Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer have also been in prison for two years. They are hikers who strayed across Iran's border from Iraqi Kurdistan and the espionage case against them is equally baseless. They are scheduled to go on trial this Sunday, July 31, the second anniversary of their arrest.

One can make an argument for the Obama Administration's low-key handling of these cases—if they end well, with the release of all three men very soon. Then the Administration will be able to say that quiet diplomacy was the best bet and that release could not have been speeded up by louder criticism and more diplomatic attacks on Iran and Cuba.

But that argument will work only if they are all released. If these "trials," which are farcical and depend on decisions made at the top of each regime, do not result in the release of our hostages the Administration will have to abandon its present tactics. Far more publicity and pressure will be needed. For example, the Obama Administration eased rules governing travel to Cuba this year. It is obscene that Americans are cavorting on Cuban beaches while their entire population is held prisoner by the Castro regime, but the loosening of travel regulations cannot be sustained if Cuba refuses to release Alan Gross. If the White House will not tighten them again, Congress should do so unless Gross is freed within weeks.

Are Cuban-Americans Changing Their Views?

Yesterday, Chris Sabatini of the New York-based Council of Americas added his voice to those "Cuba "experts" -- with absolutely no political experience in South Florida -- who want President Obama to believe his Cuba policy is somehow good politics.

This, despite the fact that -- just last year -- President Obama's Congressional candidate in South Florida's 25th District couldn't break 18% of the Cuban-American vote.

So lets recap.

Are Cuban-Americans changing their views?

In theory
-- since 1985.

In reality -- not a single candidate who supports unconditionally easing sanctions towards the Castro dictatorship has ever been elected by the Cuban-American community.

And just for fun -- here's a breakdown of some discredited "theorists," including some of The Miami Herald's finest (former) political reporters (H/T Henry Louis Gomez):

Please note the dates.

"...there has been a generational change among Cuban voters. The power is no longer being wielded exclusively -- perhaps not even primarily -- by those whose political orientation is Cuba..."

-MIAMI'S VOTE MADE HISTORY, November 10, 1985, by Tom Fiedler

"The memory was reinforced in a similar conversation with a middle-aged Cuban American who watches some of his contemporaries react in anger and frustration to the obvious Americanness of their yuca (Young Upscale Cuban American) children. They want their children to feel the loss of Cuba as they feel it.

This wish to have our children re-create our own past experiences is common, perhaps even universal. But it is a vain hope, one that brings only grief if it is pressed very hard
."

-THE 'MEMORY OF A MEMORY', November 20, 1988, by Joanna Wragg

"For Hispanic candidates banking on ethnic calls to arms, the survey suggests that the approach may bring no better than mixed results right now. And in the future, they may not work at all, as the numbers of younger voters overtake their seniors."

-MAYORAL ELECTION EXPOSES GENERATION GAP, November 7, 1993, by Andres Viglucci

"There is a generational transition going on," said Jose Ceballos, Hispanic coordinator for the Clinton-Gore campaign. "I have a lot of young Cubans who come up to me and say, 'Don't tell my Mom, but your guy's doing pretty good.' "

-GOP WOULD BE TOUGHER ON CUBA, KEMP PLEDGES, October 27, 1996 by Tom Fiedler

"There are also some generational differences. Younger people are more likely than older exiles to favor dialogue and to want to hear music from the island played on Miami radio, according to the poll."

-EXILES GLUM ABOUT PROSPECTS FOR CUBA, June 29, 1997 by Cynthia Corzo and Fabiola Santiago

"Some of the change is generational . Cubans who came to the United States in the 1960s - and traditionally have held the more conservative views - now make up only a third of the Cuban population in Miami-Dade.

"Through time, there has been a greater acceptance that there are going to be these initiatives,'' Perez said. "I also think that to some extent, there's been a transition in the Cuban-American community. People have changed their position, and many of the traditional hard-liners have died.''

-U.S.-CUBA EXCHANGES BECOMING MORE COMMON, March 26, 1999, by Fabiola Santiago

Rangel Marks Castro's Holiday

Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Sadly, this is not a joke.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel of New York has chosen this July 26th -- the Castro dictatorship's most celebrated revolutionary holiday -- to send the following Congressional Dear Colleague:

After 50 Years, Let's Join Over 100 Countries that Now Have Full Diplomatic Relations with Cuba

From: The Honorable Charles B. Rangel

July 26, 2011

Dear Colleague:

This Congress, I've reintroduced the Promoting American Agricultural and Medical Exports to Cuba Act of 2011 (H.R.1888) to promote and expand upon President Obama's recently modified Cuba policies. I am seeking your support for Export Freedom to Cuba Act (H.R.1886), the Free Trade with Cuba Act (H.R.1887), and the Promoting American Agricultural and Medical Exports to Cuba Act (H.R.1888). They will all contribute to the normalization of relations between our two great countries. All three of these closely related bills are crucial for developing a freer, more open dialogue with the people of Cuba.


Coincidence?

Senate Should Reject Farrar Nomination

By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida in NRO:

The Senate Should Reject the President's Nominee for Ambassador to Nicaragua

Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on the nomination of Jonathan Farrar to be the U.S. ambassador to Nicaragua. After thoroughly researching his track record, consulting with others familiar with his work and personally questioning him during a Senate hearing last month, I believe his confirmation would send the wrong message and I strenuously oppose it.

His tenure as chief of mission at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana should alarm all my colleagues. Several Cuban human-rights organizations reported his systematic "reluctance and disinterest" to work with dissidents in Cuba, while keeping his distance from the besieged pro-democracy organizations in that country. Under his direction, the mission dismantled creative methods that had been put in place and maintained by the two previous chiefs of mission to visibly engage with the Cuban people and bring them uncensored information. The most notable of these was taking down the news ticker that ran across the façade of the U.S. Interests Section projecting quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. and uncensored news headlines to those living under Castro's repressive regime.

When given a chance to alleviate these concerns during his nomination hearing, Mr. Farrar did not credibly explain what prompted the policy shift that ended these creative initiatives. He also failed to explain his role in this decision.

According to press reports, an April 2009 dispatch signed by Mr. Farrar stated that Cuban pro-democracy activists' focus on human rights did not resonate with Cubans "who are more concerned about having greater opportunities to travel freely and live comfortably." This conclusion raises the possibility that Mr. Farrar believes respect for the rule of law and human rights is predicated on economic progress. Furthermore, his views conflicted with information from surveys done by internationally-recognized NGOs inside Cuba, which note that more than 75 percent of Cuban adults have expressed support for voting for fundamental political change if given the opportunity.

During his hearing, Mr. Farrar did not explain how he arrived at those conclusions. Furthermore, Mr. Farrar did not provide any evidence of programs he would have proposed to address the situation described on the April 2009 dispatch and help the Cuban pro-democracy groups strengthen the capacity of their organizations even as they face the relentless persecution of the Castro regime.

During a September 2009 visit to Cuba by then–Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Bisa Williams, the U.S. Interests Section in Havana hosted a reception where Castro regime officials were invited, but representatives of independent civil society were excluded. This unprecedented measure undermined long-standing bipartisan U.S. policy to support Cuba's pro-democracy movement. It's practically unheard of for the U.S. Interests Section to have an event and exclude dissidents.

During his hearing, Mr. Farrar failed to explain the purpose of excluding dissident organizations from U.S. events or his role in planning the September 2009 reception. He also did not provide an explanation as to how many other similarly exclusionary events took place during his assignment in Havana.

In sum, while in Havana, Mr. Farrar adopted a "give no offense" approach to U.S. policy in Cuba, unilaterally dismantling or weakening U.S. pro-democracy initiatives in order to placate the Castro regime. More importantly, the measures taken under his direction failed to produce any demonstrable improvement in the Castro regime's human rights record or its willingness to engage the Cuban people in a path towards meaningful political openness.

In Nicaragua, a determined and autocratic President Daniel Ortega is corrupting and weakening Nicaraguan institutions to extend his grip on power. He has manipulated elections, corrupted and manipulated the courts, and threatened opposition members with mob violence.

Mr. Farrar's nomination is problematic because of its broader applications to every embassy and diplomatic mission we have around the world. It goes to heart of the question: What is the proper role of the United States around the world when it comes to advocating for freedom? In countries where people live in the oppressive darkness or feel increasingly powerless in the face of authoritarianism, is the United States going to be a shining light that people can turn to for support? Are we going to be a voice for the powerless?

I believe that whether it's people in Cuba, Nicaragua, Libya, Syria, or anywhere else around the world, the United States must be a voice that will speak clearly and unmistakably for freedom. Our diplomatic corps — from the ambassadors all the way down to the Foreign Service officers on their first assignments — should be doing everything they possibly can to vehemently support democratic movements around the world. We certainly shouldn't be shunning them, diminishing them, or undermining them in any way.

I am deeply troubled by the message the president is sending not only to Nicaragua and Cuba but the entire Western Hemisphere through this nomination. I am concerned about what it says to the rest of the world. At this time, we need a forceful and unequivocal voice for democratic values and the rule of law in Nicaragua. Mr. Farrar is not the right choice for this post and he should not be approved by the committee.

Part-Time Purpose, Part-Time Party

When the Obama Administration first announced its new regulations for people-to-people ("purposeful") travel this year, the AP reported:

"If it is simply salsa dancing and mojitos, no. That doesn't pass the purposeful-travel criteria," a State Department official involved with the policy said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Moreover, when the Treasury Department announced its official guidelines for these new regulations, it emphasized that:

Authorized trips are expected to be led by the licensed organization and to have a full-time schedule of activities in which the travelers will participate.

Yet, this month's New York Times story on "people-to-people" licensed travel makes it abundantly clear that -- in reality -- these trips are only part-time purposeful and part-time party.

Here are some excerpts:

- Despite the intense schedule, Ms. Brout and the group found time in Varadero, in the northwestern province of Matanzas, to wade in the sea and sip mojitos at Xanadu, the grand former mansion of Irénée du Pont, now part of a golf course.

- This group squeezed in some leisure time, too, touring Havana's carefully restored old city, catching some jazz at La Zorra y el Cuervo and dining at La Guarida, a bohemian restaurant tucked at the top of a crumbling central Havana mansion.

- While visitors are shuttled around on a tight schedule, their evenings are often free, and several said they felt they had time to draw their own conclusions, both positive and negative.

- "You spend a day in a dance class, and then in the evening, you can go to a club and dance with Cubans. And you're not breaking any rules," she said. "That's great."

Actually -- you are breaking the rules.

And that's not to mention the recent onslaught of luxury travel announcements to Cuba -- which inherently defy the purpose of these trips.

Remember when travel advocates would argue that visitors would stay in "casa particulares" and eat at "paladares"?)

Yesterday, Treasurywarned of misstatements in the media -- and abuses -- regarding its Cuba travel policy.

Now, the question remains -- will they pull the licenses of these obvious violators?

Treasury Recognizes Cuba Travel Abuses

Monday, July 25, 2011
The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has just released the following travel advisory:

CUBA TRAVEL ADVISORY

ISSUED: July 25, 2011

SUBJECT: Travel to Cuba and People-to-People Groups

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") is aware of misstatements in the media suggesting that U.S. foreign policy, as implemented by OFAC, now allows for virtually unrestricted group travel to Cuba by persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Although OFAC amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 515 (the "Regulations"), in January 2011 to expand licensing of travel to Cuba for certain specific purposes, the amended Regulations still contain significant travel restrictions.

Read more here.

Let's hope Treasury takes action against those intentionally skirting the law.

The Indefensible Case for One-Party Rule

The underlying basis of this column is very disturbing.

Yet sadly, this is what some people want for Cuba.

By Paul Roderick Gregory in Forbes:

China's Flawed Case For One-Party Rule

Robert Lawrence Kuhn, an international investment banker, biographer, corporate strategist and paid advisor to the Chinese government, is the face of China's PR campaign for the Chinese Communist Party's (CPC) 90th anniversary. The publication of his China Daily article "China 'best served'' with CPC at the helm" as two-page advertising supplements in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal shows China's desire to legitimize itself in the eyes of the international community.

Kuhn is not the only advocate of Chinese-style one-party rule. Among those joining him are New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman and investor-philanthropist George Soros. Both praise the CPC's sound and timely decision making. Some scholars also argue that "benevolent" one-party rule is better for poor countries that cannot afford "messy" democracies at early stages of development. They point to contemporary China, South Korea and Taiwan in their early years as cases in point. (Both South Korea and Taiwan transitioned to democracy within two decades. The CPC has exercised one-party rule for more than a half century with no end in sight.)

Here's a summary of the brilliant counter-arguments made by Gregory:

- In market democracies, voters and the market determine "who gets what." In China, the CPC decides who lives where, which companies get state credits, what prices to charge for high-speed rail, how to clear occupied land for new construction, what wages to set, how much corruption to tolerate, and whether to allow citizens to attend church on Sunday.

- If we use history as our guide, only democracy has produced high living standards, not CPC-like dictatorships. And those countries that are now rich did not wait to introduce democracy until their peoples were rich and well educated. The slogan: "bread first, freedom later" has appeal, but it has yet to work in the long run.

- I know of no historical precedent of a dictatorial regime removing itself for poor decision-making in an act of self-flagellation. Instead, the worse the performance, the more the regime clings to power to avoid the day of reckoning with the people.

- [T]he CPC social contract gives the Chinese people a bad deal. They have preciously little economic freedom (as I would define it) to compensate for their lack of political freedoms. They are not allowed to live where they want. They do not have secure property rights to the land on which they live or the farmland they cultivate. Businesses cannot enter into contracts that will be enforced by courts that follow a rule of law. The CPC dictates how many children they can have. Private persons must bribe corrupt state and party officials to do business. Private businesses lack access to bank loans, and they are disadvantaged by regulators vis-à-vis state businesses.

- The ultimate lack of freedom is that the CPC can take virtually any arbitrary action against the people in their economic and social lives, and they can do nothing to stop this. The lack of a rule of law is perhaps more deadly than the lack of democracy.

- If the Chinese people support the one-party system, why is it so afraid of the people?

If you were an ordinary Chinese citizen, how would you answer a survey researcher asking you whether you like the CPC regime or not? The answer is obvious and so much for Kuhn's proof of regime popularity.

If the people support the CPC, why is it so afraid? Why does it crack down mercilessly on informal Christian religious services? Why does a Nobel Prize awarded a dissident poet create an international incident? Why does it grow hysterical when a foreign leader receives the Dalai Lama? Why is it so fearful of public protests or strikes?

The answer: The CPC realizes that it has no basis for legitimacy; therefore, it must repress any hint of an alternative or a challenge to its legitimacy. Growing church attendance suggests to the CPC that one day the church could challenge its monopoly, as it did in Communist Poland. If workers organize into real labor unions, the unions could eventually become an alternate political movement. A lone dissident may strike a chord among the people that sets off something that they cannot suppress by their usual repression. The CPC leaders look with fear and trembling at the Arab Spring, knowing it could happen in their backyard.

The AP's Blind-Eye Toward Raul's Repression

Today, the AP ran its second (almost duplicate) story in less than three weeks on Cuban dictator Raul Castro's supposed "reform" of the Cuban (state-owned) housing "market."

Was there any more news on the issue?

No -- it still remains subject to Raul's "pledge" and speculation.

Moreover, what has been announced -- thus far -- is farcical.

But hey -- why miss another opportunity to further the pre-disposed narrative of Raul's "reforms."

Meanwhile, last week, 16 Ladies in White were brutally beaten, dragged and stoned in Santiago de Cuba.

Any AP story?

Nope.

And this weekend, 21 dissidents were arrested and 34 placed under house-arrest in Santa Clara, in order to prevent them from supporting a Methodist Minister who was (ironically) being expelled from his home by Castro's secret police.

Not to mention -- the arrest of more Ladies in White in Palma Soriano, the pummeling of pro-democracy leader Iris Perez Aguilera in Placetas and many other acts of repression.

Any AP story?

Nope.

Yet they did squeeze-in a story on lower bulk prices in the wholesale market, which is (of course) owned and operated by the Castro regime.

Shameful.

Castro Increases Military Expenditures

Sunday, July 24, 2011
From Cubapolidata:

In 2010, the Cuban government increased its defense and internal order expenditures by 2%.

According to the recently released 2010 Statistical Annual of Cuba (Anuario Estadístico de Cuba 2010) by the Cuban Office of National Statistics (Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas (ONE), expenditures in the area of defense and internal order were $2.14B CUP compared to 2009′s total that was $2.09B CUP. (Figures are in millions of Cuban pesos.)

The Raúl Castro government continues the trend of increased defense expenditures.

Another Fugitive Living It Up in Cuba

From Toronto Sun:

Wanted man living it up at resort

Photos of a man police say is on the run and wanted in the shooting death of a 16-year-old Ottawa man surfaced online Friday showing him vacationing in Cuba, QMI Agency has discovered.

But shortly after QMI Agency found the photos of Mohamed Wehbe they mysteriously disappeared.

On Friday, a man calling himself Khalid Wehbe posted photos of Mohamed Wehbe shortly after 5:14 a.m. on his Facebook page -- though it is not clear whether the pictures were taken recently.

It is also unclear whether Mohamed Wehbe, who has a Canada-wide warrant out for his arrest, remains in Cuba.

After QMI Agency contacted Khalid Wehbe, through Facebook, the photos were promptly removed and later in the day his profile was deleted altogether.

The images show the two Wehbes together along with other young men and women posing at what Khalid Wehbe describes as the "Havana Resort." Several show them posing with imaginary guns.

Exporting Freedom or Voyeurism?

Myth: "The United States should immediately remove travel restrictions and allow Americans to act as ambassadors of freedom and American values to Cuba."

-- Letter to President Obama by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.

Reality: "Outsiders have long been predicting Cuba's demise as a revolutionary socialist state. And there is undoubtedly a voyeuristic element in many tourists' motives for going there: see it before the wheels drop off."

-- U.K. Telegraph's travel expert, Nigel Richardson, who proceeds to be enthralled by "jineteras."