The Regime's Fear of Sara Martha Fonseca

Saturday, October 1, 2011
Cuban pro-democracy leader Sara Martha Fonseca and her husband Julio Ignacio Leon remain imprisoned and on a hunger strike since their arrest on September 24th.

She is in poor health due to police beatings and the effects of the hunger strike. Meanwhile, her husband has already been transferred to a military hospital.

Last month, Fonseca led a protest on the steps of the Capitol building in Havana, where the regime's attempts to violently suppress it were initially thwarted by the solidarity of gathering crowds.

Obviously afraid of Fonseca's peaceful advocacy and the sympathy she garners, the Castro regime is now threatening to charge her with "disobedience," which in Cuba's dictatorship carries a heavy prison term.

Out of Castro's Playbook

The "spontaneous" pro-government mobs.

From AllMediaNY:

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s supporters threw tomatoes and eggs at U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford when he met with a conflicting figure in Damascus.

About 100 protestors attempted to enter veteran politician Hassan Abdul Azim’s office as Ford arrived, then barricaded it and entrapped them.

“They were protesting in the street and at the entrance to the building. They tried to break down the door of my office, but didn’t succeed,” Azim told AFP news agency.

U.S. officials confirmed the embassy’s automobiles were severely damaged and the “mob was violent” but Ford was not harmed.

Earlier, Syria claimed the U.S. enticed violent acts against its military.

Military Sugar and Apartheid Auto Sales

Friday, September 30, 2011
The media has been buzzing this week with news of Castro's latest "reforms."

They are the legalization of auto sales and the closing of the Sugar Ministry.

According to AP:

Cuba has legalized the sale and purchase of automobiles for all citizens on Wednesday, another major step in the communist run island’s economic transformation and one that the public has been clamoring for during decades.

Major step?

Not so fast.
The only real effect of this "reform" is that ordinary Cubans will be able to legally barter and exchange old Soviet Ladas, which has been going on for years in the black market.

Thus, it should be entitled the Soviet Lada barter law. (Sales of pre-1959 cars have long been permitted, so nothing new there).

As for new cars, purchase of these require a special permit from the Ministry of Transportation, which are reserved for a special class of Cubans that work for the regime (as the regulation states, "in the interest of the State") in hard-currency sectors.

In other words, only the regime's elite.

Remittance receivers need not apply either.

Then, according to Reuters:

Cuba is closing its once powerful Sugar Ministry in favor of a state holding company charged with pulling the sector out of a long decline, official media announced on Thursday.

What they don't tell you is that for years Cuba's Sugar Ministry has been under the control of Castro's military and headed up by General Ulises Rosales del Toro.

The Ministry will now become a military-owned company named Grupo Empresarial de la Agroindustria Azucarera.

Thus, why even pretend that Cuba's long-time staple industry is for the people, when they can just place it under the military's extensive commercial portfolio, which ranges from tourism to retail stores.

Once again, only for the regime's elite.

The Third Cuban-American Senator

The National Review has awarded Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz its cover and title, "the next great conservative hope."

If elected, Cruz would become the third current Cuban-American U.S. Senator.

(Fourth in history, as retired U.S. Senator Mel Martinez was the first).

In 2010, the National Review awarded its cover to then Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio. Thus, it's a good harbinger of Republican primaries.

Is "Glamorous" a New Cuba Travel Category?

First it was "luxury" travel.

Now, "glamorous" travel:

By Anne Sorock in Big Government:

bloomspot, a high-end GroupOn-like company headquartered in the U.S. that offers luxury travel and experiences, this morning promised to delight Americans with a glamorous trip to Cuba. For $2,988 bloomspot, through the Nevada-based Spirit Quest Tours, is selling a seven-night trip “cruising around in vintage American automobiles most likely powered by Russian-made engines, see the city as its natives do.”

bloomspot is known for offering unique (in this case, dubiously legal) trips, and prides itself on the cache of its luxury-level products. A testimonial on its website describes the bloomspot difference:

“We prefer working with bloomspot because they emphasize a high-end experience and target a very fitting clientele. It’s not the average discount seeking customer but rather those interested in trying a new luxurious experience with a small incentive….” –Carolyn Thalin, Le Cirque, New York, NY

Once you get past bloomspot’s paragraphs of descriptions of the food, the quaint culture, and the concert by the Buena Vista Social Club, you are left with visions of a luxury vacation to a land that time has barely touched. Nowhere does bloomspot indicate that the trip is not for pleasure, but in fact a humanitarian mission, except in the pricing, which indicates a $75 fee for a humanitarian visa. Seemingly contradictory, in the “Why” section of their advertisment, bloomspot indicates these three reasons for the trip: ”Captivating driving and walking tours of Havana; Visit to UNESCO World Heritage city Trinidad, the city time forgot; and Concert by the Buena Vista Social Club.”

After substantial sleuthing, and following links OFF of the bloomspot site we finally came across the footnote that seemingly allows bloomspot and Spirit Quest Travels to send its high-end clientele to the island. In the midst of a packed eight-day schedule, there is this aside:

“We’ll each be bringing 2 lbs of medicine much needed by the locals, so we will have a chance to give it to those who are waiting to bring our humanitarian aid to Havana patients. Then get ready for our Welcome Dinner at the Parque Central!!”

Further investigation into the travel group providing the actual trip, Spirit Quest Tours LLC, reveals that not only do they seek to “excite your mind, pamper your spirit, challenge your body and inflame your soul,” but they also ”carbon offset your travel.”

This trip clearly disregards and makes a laughing-stock of the very clear U.S. embargo banning, among other things, travel to Cuba except in certain, very specific circumstances. For years, Americans have flouted this law by either traveling to Mexico or Canada before embarking to the poverty-stricken, tyrannized island, or by “qualifying” for one of the licenses granted by the U.S. government, summarized here:

•Persons visiting a close relative
•Journalists traveling in a journalistic capacity
•Official government officials traveling in that capacity
•Full-time professionals conducting research
•Students or academics participating in specific research or educational programs
•Religious organizations conducting specific religious activities

The U.S. government’s description of a Humanitarian Project, the license for which luxury bloomspot travelers will be paying, is as follows:

“Humanitarian Projects and Support for the Cuban People – 1) Persons traveling in connection with activities that are intended to provide support for the Cuban people, such as activities of recognized human rights organizations; and 2) persons whose travel transactions are directly related to certain humanitarian projects in or related to Cuba that are designed to directly benefit the Cuban people. Licenses authorizing transactions for multiple trips over an extended period of time are available.”

Does the conveyance of 2 pounds of medicine, duly parceled out amongst the luxury bloomspot travelers, adhere to these descriptions? As O’Reilly would say, you decide. I for one am unsubscribing from the bloomspot email list–I don’t think I measure up to the standards so adequately described by Carolyn of Le Cirque, anyways.

Castro Calls Obama "Stupid"

Thursday, September 29, 2011
So much for the "extended hand" theory.

A few weeks ago, the Castro brothers snubbed their "old friend" Bill Richardson.

And now, they insult President Obama.

From CNN:

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro lashed out at U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday for demanding changes on the island in order to improve bilateral relations and referred to him as "stupid."

On Wednesday, Obama told Hispanic journalists that he would be willing to change the country's tough line on Cuba "when we start seeing a serious intention on the part of the Cuban government to provide liberty for its people."

On Thursday, Castro responded with sarcasm in a written essay published in Cuban state media.

"How nice! How intelligent! So much generosity has failed to let him understand that after 50 years of blockade and crimes against our country, they haven't been able to bow our people."

He went on to say many things would change in Cuba, but only thanks to Cubans' own efforts and "despite" the United States. "Perhaps that empire will collapse first," he added.

He also slammed a recent ruling by a U.S. judge against a Cuban agent, but he said it was to be expected.

"Otherwise, the empire would cease to be the empire and Obama would cease to be stupid."

Female Pro-Democracy Leader Missing After Arrest

This past Monday, three female pro-democracy activists were brutally beaten and arrested for staging a peaceful protest against the Castro regime.

They are Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, Donaida Pérez Paseiro and Yaimara Reyes Mesa.

Perez Aguilera, who heads the island's Rosa Parks Civil Rights Movement, is the wife of pro-democracy leader Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez."

Hours after her arrest, Perez Aguilera was mysteriously whisked out of the police station by the authorities.

She has not been heard from since.

Halliburton Lobbies to Ease Cuba Sanctions

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
From AP:

Halliburton spent $85k in 2Q on lobbyists

Halliburton Co. spent $85,000 in the second quarter to lobby the federal government on regulation of inland drilling techniques and other issues, according to a disclosure report.

That's up from the $70,000 it spent a year earlier, and it's even with what Halliburton spent in the first three months of the year. Halliburton also lobbied the government on legislation involving offshore oil drilling, the country's relationship with Nigeria, Libya, Cuba, Burma and Egypt, corporate taxes, immigration, and health care, according to the report filed on July 20.

You can view the lobbying disclosure report here.

Obama: Cuba Must Reform (Video)

This next question is about Cuba, and it comes from Florida: What is your position regarding Cuba and the embargo? What should the Cuban people expect from you and your government during the remainder of your term, and in the future if you're reelected?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, what we did with respect to Cuba was recognize that the Cuban people now have not enjoyed freedom for 50 years, and everywhere else in the world you've been seeing a democratization movement that has been pressing forward. Throughout Latin America, democracies have emerged from previously authoritarian regimes. The time has come for the same thing to happen in Cuba.

Now, what we've tried to do is to send a signal that we are open to a new relationship with Cuba if the Cuban government starts taking the proper steps to open up its own country and its own -- and provide the space and the respect for human rights that would allow the Cuban people to determine their own destiny.

I changed the remittance laws so that family members could more easily send money back to Cuba, because that would give them more power and it would create a economic space for them to prosper. Within Cuba we have changed the family travel laws so that they can travel more frequently, as well as laws that relate to educational travel.

And so we've made these modifications that send a signal that we're prepared to show flexibility and not be stuck in a Cold War mentality dating back to when I was born. On the other hand, we have to see a signal back from the Cuban government that it is following through on releasing political prisoners, on providing people their basic human rights, in order for us to be fully engaged with them. And so far, at least, what we haven't seen is the kind of genuine spirit of transformation inside of Cuba that would justify us eliminating the embargo.

I don't know what will happen over the next year, but we are prepared to see what happens in Cuba. If we see positive movement we will respond in a positive way. Hopefully, over the next five years, we will see Cuba looking around the world and saying, we need to catch up with history. And as long as I'm President I will always be prepared to change our Cuba policy if and when we start seeing a serious intention on the part of the Cuban government to provide liberty for its people. But that's always my watchword, is are we seeing freedom for the Cuban people to live lives of opportunity and prosperity. If we are, then we'll be supportive of them.

Those conditions will suffice -- human rights, free political prisoners? No demand for a change in the economic structure, for example?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it's very hard to separate liberty from some economic reforms. If people have no way to eat other than through the government, then the government ends up having very strict control over them, and they can be punished in all sorts of ways for expressing their own opinions. That's not to say that a condition for us releasing the embargo would be that they have a perfect market system, because obviously we have trade and exchanges with a number of countries that fall short of a liberal democracy.

But there is a basic, I think, recognition of people's human rights that includes their right to work, to change jobs, to get an education, to start a business. So some elements of freedom are included in how an economic system works. And right now, we haven't seen any of that.

But let me just say this. Obviously if we saw a release of political prisoners, the ability for people to express their opinions and to petition their government, if we saw even those steps those would be very significant, and we would pay attention and we would undoubtedly reexamine our overall approach to Cuba if we saw a serious movement in that direction.

Over 30 Members Send Warning Letter to Repsol

A bipartisan group of 34 Members of Congress have sent a letter to the Spanish oil company, Repsol, expressing concerns over its reported plans to partner with the Castro dictatorship to conduct exploratory off-shore oil drilling.

They urge Repsol to reassess the risks inherent in partnering with the Castro dictatorship, including the risk to its commercial interests with the United States.

Here's the letter:

Letter to Chairman of Repsol - deepwater drilling in Cuba -

From The White House

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Today, President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

Roberta S. Jacobson, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Department of State

Roberta S. Jacobson currently serves as Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Secretary of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) at the Department of State. Previously, Ms. Jacobson served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Canada, Mexico and NAFTA issues (2007-2010), Director of the Office of Mexican Affairs (2003-2007), and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Lima (2000-2002). From 1996 to 2000, Ms. Jacobson served as Director of the Office of Policy Planning and Coordination in WHA. She began her career at the Department of State as a Presidential Management Intern (PMI). Ms. Jacobson received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Cuban Hip-Hop Artists Arrested

Cuban hip-hop artists Julio León Fonseca (Julito) and Rodolfo Ramírez Hernández (El Primario) were arrested yesterday in front of a Cuban secret police facility for demanding the release of pro-democracy leaders Sara Marta Fonseca and Julio Ignacio León.

They were beaten and arrested along with other activists, including Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, Yaimara Pérez Mesa, Donaida Pérez Paseiro, René Ramón González Bonelli, Rances Camejo Miranda, Rodolfo Ramírez Cardoso and Yoani García Martínez.

Taking Hostages Must Carry a Heavy Cost

By columnist Miguel Perez:

From Cuba With Nada

Every once in a while, we send a useful fool to Havana. They go bearing gifts from the U.S. government; concessions we are willing to make to the world's oldest dictatorship — and one of the most repressive regimes on the planet — without getting anything in return.

Sometimes we think we actually are making progress. Yet when Fidel and Raul Castro's Communist dictatorship makes a concession, it is usually to correct an injustice that should have never been committed in the first place. Their concessions are not permanent changes to their tyrannical rule, but temporary gestures to minimize international condemnation.

They'll release political prisoners who should have never been incarcerated. Then, we'll foolishly recognize it as a sign of progress, only to realize that other dissidents are still being harassed and arrested for the same shameful "offenses," like trying to express themselves freely. That's some progress!

Like broken records, we Cuban-Americans keep telling the rest of our fellow Americans that the Castro brothers would never agree to concessions that would weaken their choking grip on the Cuban people. But nobody listens!

Since the U.S. policy of isolating Cuba has failed to force political change in the Caribbean island for more than a half century, some very naive American politicians assume that simply doing the opposite — caving in to the Castro brothers — is a viable alternative to ease the pain of the Cuban people.

These useful fools actually believe that by lifting all U.S. sanctions on the Cuban government, the Castro tyrants will be miraculously rehabilitated and embrace democracy — as if bloody dictators could go to rehab and come out transformed into humanitarians.

Of course, "useful fools" is the term traditionally used by communists to describe gullible people who fall for the romantic appeal of leftist rebels — idealists who allow themselves to be used by the communists. If it were up to the useful fools who visit Havana, the U.S. government would be making unreciprocated concessions to the Cuban tyrants.

After 52 years of witnessing the Machiavellian ways of the Castro brothers, the U.S. still sends people to Cuba bearing concessions, and still they come back empty-handed. Former President Jimmy Carter did it earlier this year.

But the latest one is Bill Richardson, the former New Mexico congressman, governor and U.S ambassador to the United Nations who recently went to Havana bearing concessions and came back with nada.

Richardson, who, like Carter, has been a Havana-useful-fool for many years, with a long history of taking naive and weak positions on Cuba, came back from his latest Havana travels explaining that he was disappointed and surprised by the way he was treated in the communist island.

"Perhaps the Cuban government has decided it does not want to improve relations" with the United States, Richardson said before leaving Havana. "Perhaps that is the message it is sending."

The question is not whether this is true or not, because of course it is! If it means making concessions, Havana is not interested in relations. The question is why it takes people like Richardson so long to come to that conclusion.

Since he went to Cuba seeking the release of imprisoned American contractor Alan Gross and was not even allowed to visit Gross in jail, Richardson is now beginning to sound like a Cuban-American. "I don't know if I could return here as a friend," Richardson told CNN from Havana.

A couple of days earlier, Richardson had defiantly vowed to remain in Cuba until he got an opportunity to, at least, see Gross. But when the Castro government snubbed him, and his stay in Cuba became uncomfortable, he had to come home with his tail between his legs.

Gross, a 62-year-old Maryland native, was arrested in Cuba nearly 22 months ago for distributing Internet equipment, financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development, among a small group of Cuban Jews.

Charging that USAID's "democracy-building" programs are an attempt to bring down their government, the Cubans accused Gross of committing "crimes against the state" and in March, their kangaroo courts sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

How naive can we be? Our government tells the whole world that we are promoting "democratization programs" in Cuba and we expect the self-preserving Castro brothers to allow it.

Of course they are going to put a stop to widespread Internet access. And of course they are going to find any means necessary to stop people like Gross, whose only "crime" was giving the Cuban people some access to freedom!

Richardson, a diplomat who has won the release of several U.S. citizens around the world, went to Havana vowing that if Gross were freed, Cuba and the United States could renew talks on issues of interest to the Communist regime. Published reports indicate he had State Department-authorized concessions to make, including an offer to remove Cuba from the list of countries that, according to the U.S. government, support terrorism. But he never got the chance!

Richardson told reporters that Cuban officials did not even want to discuss Gross' case with him, or to find ways to resolve the standoff. "It was just an outright rejection of even a dialogue on what could be done," Richardson said. Coming from a useful fool who has been an outspoken proponent of dialogue and relations with the Cuban dictators, this is priceless!

Other useful fools have gone to Havana and come back without concessions that could lead to freedom and democracy for the Cuban people. But at least some, including Carter, have been allowed to meet with Gross.

Apparently, Carter and Richardson had been led to believe that Cuba would reconsider holding Gross in prison once his legal case had run its course through the Cuban courts. Since Cuba's Supreme Kangaroo Court denied Gross' final appeal in August, apparently Richardson felt the time was right to visit his communist friends in Havana — especially since Gross has lost 100 pounds in prison and calls for his release on humanitarian grounds have increased.

Yet Cuba's position apparently hardened when Richardson made the grave mistake of speaking freely in a country were even a former U.N. ambassador has to watch his words.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Richardson said Gross was being held "hostage" by the Cuban government, triggering the wrath of Cuban government officials who accused him of "blackmail" and slander. They denied Richardson's claim that he was invited to the island to discuss the release of the American contractor, who is being held in a Cuban military hospital. "His request to see the prisoner ... became impossible due to his slanderous statements to the press in which he described Gross as a 'hostage' of the Cuban government," said Josefina Vidal, the head of North American affairs in Cuba's Foreign Ministry. "We explained to Mr. Richardson that Cuba is a sovereign country which does not accept blackmail, pressure or posturing," she added. With amigos like these, Richardson doesn't need enemigos.

Until now, the Cubans have seen him as a useful fool and played him like a fiddle, but they have no use for him anymore. They needed an excuse to prolong the status quo and decided that their friendship with Richardson was expendable.

Ironically, the media keeps reporting that the Gross case has crippled attempts to improve relations between Washington and Havana, when in fact, those attempts have been consistently sabotaged by the Cuban government for more than 50 years. The Gross case and the treatment of Richardson is just Cuba's way of remaining isolated, to keep from having to make concessions that would loosen the Castro stranglehold of the Cuban people.

Perhaps now Richardson recognizes the futility of negotiating with tyrants whose only objective is staying in power. Unfortunately, instead of squeezing the Castro regime until it releases Gross, people like Richardson have been trying to free the American contractor with kindness toward his captors. It will never work. This is not a language the Castro brothers understand.

Gross will be released only when (instead of constantly turning the other cheek so the Castro brothers can keep slapping us) our government decides to play hardball with Cuba. We can expect Gross to be freed only if we impose further travel and economic sanctions on the Castro regime. We must make the Cuban government appreciate the heavy cost of keeping an American hostage.

The Castro Oil Blackmail Continues

In the 1990's, Brazilian oil company Petrobras was granted several oil exploration concessions by the Castro regime in exchange for snubbing Cuban dissidents on the island and exiles abroad.

A recently declassified memo from the Brazilian Foreign Ministry (published in Folha de S. Paulo) describes how in 1993, the Castro regime confirmed to the government of then President Itamar Franco that "the most promising" blocks for oil exploration would not be included in an upcoming public offering.

In exchange, the Brazilian Embassy in Havana purchased and installed a barbed wire fence to counter the risk of being "invaded" by dissidents of the Cuban dictatorship.

And a meeting in Washington, D.C., between Brazil's Ambassador to the U.S., Paulo Tarso Flecha de Lima, and members of the Cuban exile community was vetoed.

Three things to note:

First, how the Castro regime's oil exploration "dog and pony" show dates back to the 1990's.

Secondly, how 20 years later the Castro regime continues to use "oil exploration" as blackmail. Just yesterday, Castro's Foreign Minister brought it up as a negotiation "nugget" for the Obama Administration.

And finally, considering that Petrobras has since pulled out of Cuba (due to poor prospects), it raises the question:

How many of the foreign companies currently holding Cuba drilling concessions are serious investors versus just serving as Castro's geopolitical pawns?

The Repression Rundown

Monday, September 26, 2011
Here's a rundown of last weekend's repressive actions by the Castro regime.

From the Coalition of Cuban-American Women:

On Saturday, September 24, 2011, an organized pro-government mob of around 300 people, alongside State Security agents with loudspeakers that resonated speeches by Fidel Castro, and who were screaming slogans, insults, obscenities, and carrying flags and posters, surrounded the home of one of the representatives of the peaceful human rights group of women known as the “Ladies in White”. Some thirty five women from numerous provinces were gathered at Calle Neptuno #963, between Aramburen y Hospital in Havana, home of Laura Pollán, to make their usual once a year pilgrimage by foot to attend mass at the Church of Our Lady of Mercy, patron saint of all prisoners.

The women were brutally assaulted by plainclothes State Security agents when they tried to leave the house at 4:00 p.m. The mob pounced on them, hitting, twisting their arms, and even biting the women. The crowd kept screaming “they will not go through” (no pasarán) and “machete, they are only a few” (machete que son poquitas), implying that the women would never get through the crowd, and that, because the women were only a few, they were easy prey, implying brutal violence, at the hands of the mob.

Thirteen other Ladies in White, including Berta Soler in Havana, left from another location they had previously agreed on and were able to circumvent State Security agents and reach the Church of Our Lady of Mercy to attend mass.

Two supporters of the Ladies in White, Liudmila Rodriguez and Yanelis Delenka Despaigne, were taken down from the bus they were riding by State Security agents who took their personal documents to prevent them from continuing their journey on to Havana from Eastern Cuba. Doraysa Correoso and Annia Alegre also from Eastern Cuba, disguised themselves as beggars to be able to reach the house of Laura Pollan in Havana. Throughout the island there were activists, including Ladies in White, who were threatened and kept under house arrest to prevent their assistance to the mass at the Church of Our Lady of Mercy.

Numerous other human rights activists also suffered short term arrests on Saturday, September 24, 2011. Among them were: human rights defenders Aimee Garces and Tania Montoya who were detained as they left Laura Pollan’s home to make their return trip back to their homes in Eastern Cuba and released after authorities took away all their money. In Havana, activist Eriberto Liranza, leader of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy was arrested, beaten and released, and so were Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez and his wife Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera in Placetas. Manuel Cuesta Morua was detained and prevented from attending an independent cultural event in Havana and released a few hours later.

Sara Marta Fonseca a member of the Pro Human Rights Party Affiliated to the Andrei Sajarov Foundation and spokesperson of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, together with her husband, remain imprisoned since Saturday, accused of "public disorder".

Reporting on Castro's Oil Hearsay

From CNN's Fareed Zakaria, to Time's Tim Padgett, to the Castro regime's usual apologists in Washington, D.C., there's been a barrage of articles this week on off-shore exploration plans by Cuba's dictatorship.

So were there any new developments?


As with practically every story on this issue, the latest (re-)interest was due to speculation -- not to any independent verification -- derived from a conversation with Castro regime officials.

Specifically, it was due to comments from Lee Hunt of the International Association of Drilling Contractors, who just returned from a trip to Cuba and is now regurgitating everything Castro regime officials (strategically) told him.

In other words, it's based on hearsay.

If this were a legal case, it be would dismissed. However, journalism doesn't have the same standards.

This is the same modus operandi used by the Castro regime in 2008 -- fueled by media and political speculation -- that the Chinese were drilling off Cuba's coasts.

At that time, the alarm bells were rung and soon thereafter came calls for the immediate and unilateral lifting of U.S. sanctions, so that U.S. companies could provide support to the Castro regime in this endeavour.

Sound familiar?

Well, here we go again.

The current zeal is such that it's even making reporters forget to fact check.

For example, Time's Tim Padgett says:

Repsol, Statoil of Norway and ONGC of India will get the drills diving in six fields near Havana, while five other firms, including Petrobras of Brazil, have signed up for about 20 others.

Padgett obviously failed (or forgot) to verify that Petrobras (the only company, other than Spain's Repsol, that could seriously undertake such an effort) has publicly decided to take a pass on Cuba (due to poor prospects).

Moreover, even the most optimistic "experts" -- those that dream of oil fortunes for the Castro brothers -- admit that even if oil was found off-Cuba's shores, it would take at least 3-5 years before production could actually begin.

But that's still not stopping them from putting the cart before the horse.

The fact remains that U.S. sanctions have made it commercially impractical for the Castro regime or its foreign partners to effectively explore for oil off Cuba's shores and impossible to produce in the future, if (and it's still a big if) oil is ever found -- unless a democratic government prevails before.

That's right -- impossible.

Their current bet is that if oil is found, then overwhelming interest would force U.S. oil companies to lobby Congress to lift sanctions, so that they could produce, refine and market it here -- like Chavez's Venezuela does.

Otherwise, where else are they going to do it? There aren't any other commercially or geographically feasible options.

And then, the U.S. could increase its dependency on yet another petro-dictatorship -- for that's served U.S. interests so well in the last century (sarcasm).

Finally, it's fascinating why those with supposed "environmental concerns" regarding Castro's exploration plans -- such as the usually anti-drilling Environmental Defense Fund -- don't just lobby Congress to pursue the only full proof way to protect the environment -- prevention.

And that's very simple -- if Repsol persists, sanction the billions it currently holds in U.S. oil drilling concessions.

Fidel Attacks Obama

From Politico:

Fidel Castro: President Obama U.N. speech 'gibberish'

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro called President Barack Obama’s speech to the United Nations last week “gibberish” in a new opinion piece.

Castro, writing his “reflections” on a Cuban government website, slammed Obama’s address in his first column since July, Reuters reported on Monday. Castro said Obama — who he dubbed the “yankee president” — misrepresented the U.N. on many issues, including the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. policy concerning Israel and Palestine and the uprisings in Arab nationals this year.

“Who understands this gibberish of the President of the United States in front of the General Assembly?” Castro wrote.

Steps to Yesterday's Repression

Sunday, September 25, 2011
Yesterday, the Castro regime organized a mob of over 300 people to face down 35 peaceful Ladies in White, who simply wanted to walk together to celebrate Mass on the feast day of Our Lady of Mercy.

Here are the steps to yesterday's repression (in pictures).

They bus in the mob:

Police block off the street:

They assault the Ladies in White:

And then get a fresh snack as a reward: