A Great "Reformer" is Arrested

Saturday, November 19, 2011
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the favored son of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi, was arrested on the border with Niger.

Gaddafi was detained while his supporters were trying to smuggle him out of the country.

For years, Saif was hailed by the international media and the Gaddafi regime's lobbyists as a great "reformer" that was going to modernize Libya.

Just a few months ago, a Guardian columnist still spun:

"Yes, Saif is a Gaddafi. But there's still a real reformer inside. The dictator's son I know is torn between family and democracy. We must engage with Saif's better instincts, for Libya's sake."

(Maybe it's because Gaddafi allowed Libyans to purchase and sell homes and automobiles, with even less restrictions than Castro).

The reality is that Saif was just as brutal and violent as his father.

Fortunately, Saif will end up where he belongs -- in a domestic or international tribunal accounting for his multiple crimes against the Libyan people, which no perceived "reforms" exonerate.

Iran's Unwavering Ally

Yesterday, the U.N. atomic energy agency's board passed a resolution condemning Iran's nuclear activities after a damning recent report by the watchdog.

It passed 32-2.

Among the two countries voting against -- Castro's Cuba.

Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution demanding that Iran cooperate with an investigation into the plot by Iranian government officials to assassinate the Saudi envoy to Washington.

It passed 106-9.

Among the nine countries voting against -- Castro's Cuba.

Intelligence Confirms Chavez's Cancer

Friday, November 18, 2011
From The Wall Street Journal:

Documents from intelligence services of two countries suggest Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's cancer has spread to his bones and is more aggressive than his government has reported.

The reports, based on interviews with people who have had access to Mr. Chávez's medical team, are likely to feed recent rumors that the man who has led Venezuela since 1999 won't be healthy enough to stand for re-election in October, potentially throwing the country's political future in doubt [...]

A Nov. 1 report from a European intelligence agency says medical tests show a "clear and significant growth of cancerous cells in the patient's marrow," according to a copy of the report viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Doctors treating Mr. Chávez privately concluded that "the spread of the disease is now accelerating," the report said. Reports by another intelligence agency drew the same conclusion.

The Venezuelan government denied the reports, and said only Mr. Chávez is authorized to speak about his health [...]

Supporters of the charismatic leader worry his absence would lead to infighting among his would-be successors, none of whom enjoy his mesmerizing hold on the loyalty of Venezuela's millions of slum dwellers.

Colombia also worries about political upheaval next-door. In Cuba, the survival of Mr. Chávez is crucial to the continuation of virtually free Venezuelan oil shipments—an economic lifeline for the regime of President Raúl Castro.

Moscow, which has sold Venezuela billions of dollars in jets, ships and helicopter, and Beijing, which has lent the Chávez government $32 billion as a down payment on more than 400,000 barrels of oil a day from Venezuela, are also watching.

The report from the European intelligence agency says Mr. Chávez's medical situation stems from long-neglected prostate and colon cancers.

A U.S. official says that he has seen intelligence reports suggesting the Venezuelan leader may have as little as six months to live. But another U.S. official said: "We just don't know."

One factor fueling rumors is the secrecy surrounding the patient. In June, after Mr. Chávez disappeared from public view during a trip to Cuba, the government tried to quell rumors about his health by saying he had a pelvic abscess. But on June 30, Mr. Chávez admitted what most people suspected: He had cancer.

Richard Feinberg's Favorite Bastards

In 1999, Richard Feinberg, a former National Security Council official under President Clinton, (rightfully) condemned past U.S. support for dictators throughout Latin America.

He wrote in the L.A. Times:

"For much of this century, the United States aided and abetted strongman rule that grossly and systematically violated human rights throughout the violence-torn isthmus save in democratic Costa Rica. In Nicaragua, under the realist doctrine attributed to Harry S. Truman-- '...he's a bastard but he's our bastard' --the U.S. allied with the corrupt Somoza dictators who governed for two generations."

Yet, in yesterday's Financial Times, Feinberg lobbies for the U.S. to aid and abet the strongman rule of the corrupt Castro dictators who governed Cuba for five decades (and grossly and systematically violate human rights).

Actually, he not only lobbies for the U.S. to embrace the Castro dictatorship, Feinberg wants the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to do so also.

He writes:

"Cuba’s recent liberalization of markets in private homes and automobiles suggests that the forces of economic reform are gaining momentum on the Caribbean island. This is good news not only for ordinary Cubans but also for the international community and the US – all of whom should be placing their weight firmly behind the reformist factions."

Is Feinberg aware that Somoza allowed the unfettered (unlike Castro's selective and condition-plagued rules) sale of homes and automobiles?

So how is it that (for Feinberg) the Somoza's are corrupt dictators, but the Castro's are reformists deserving of IMF and World Bank bailouts?

After all, the Somoza's were much more market-friendly dictators than the Castro's will ever be.

Of course, this is all part of an orchestrated public relations campaign by individuals and organizations that have always supported unconditionally embracing the Cuban dictatorship regardless of whether or not Castro's reforms are truly significant (they're not); regardless of whether or not Castro's holding an American hostage (he is); and regardless of whether or not Raul Castro has dramatically increased repression since his promotion to dictator-in-chief (he has).

Last week, it was the Center for Democracy in the America's "Support Cuba's 0.01%" report and today Feinberg will ("coincidentally") be regurgitating the very same talking points in a "different" Brookings Institution report.

It's fascinating and ironic (and hypocritical) to watch these folks lobby for the support of left-wing dictators by spinning them as the right-wing dictators they so deplored.

Must-Read: "Reforms" to Strengthen Castro

Thursday, November 17, 2011
By Professor Marek Jan Chodakiewicz of The Institute of World Politics:

Carbon Copy Communism

The Politburo and the Central Committee concur that there is room for a mixed economy and reforms are announced at the Communist Party congress. Some market mechanisms and a nod to the private sector should solve the problems of central planning. Minor private enterprise should be permitted in the agriculture, commerce, and service sectors.

It makes sense and sounds pragmatic. The dogmatism has softened. The reforms signal a liberalization that goes hand in glove with human rights - often a prerequisite for economic aid and engagement with hostile Western governments. Domestic reforms should pave the way for foreign aid and investment. Exiles, in particular, are wooed by the regime. The parting between exiles and the homeland was bitter, but that was years ago. Let bygones be bygones. They are welcome to invest and keep some of the profits. They hold foreign passports and naturally are given preferential treatment. They can come and go at will, unlike the rest of the population.

Exiles are a fantastic asset abroad: they can help change the perception of the homeland that is no longer a totalitarian dictatorship. They can influence their community to embrace the changes. This will translate into political pressure to open relations between their adopted home and the old country. The most progressive exiles will become public diplomacy ambassadors.

This sounds like Cuba, doesn’t it? But I am talking about Communist Poland in the 1970s and 1980s. After 1989, we gained access to the State Security archives that revealed the modus operandi of the Party and its intentions behind so-called liberalization.

First and foremost, all reforms, real and imagined, aimed at strengthening the regime. Second, economic reforms, in particular those presented as economic liberalization, intended to buy Communism some breathing space while duping the natives, foreigners, and exiles. Third, they were all modeled after Lenin’s New Economic Policy (NEP): the Party allows capitalism to shore up Communism but it never relinquishes power. Fourth, the secret police managed perceptions and manipulated the participants in this game, including the exiles.

The Polish version of the NEP commenced under Edward Gierek and continued under the junta of General Jaruzelski. Gierek’s improved human rights record (dissidents were rarely killed anymore, but merely beaten or briefly detained) led to Western credit, investments, and economic aid. Special hard currency stores were established which sold Western goods to foreigners, exiles, and their Polish relatives. Exiles were further wooed to establish so-called firmy polonijne (diaspora companies) that enjoyed favorable taxation and lax labor laws. They could repatriate some of the money. Anyone with a foreign passport lived like a king in a country where the average monthly salary hovered around US$20.00 per citizen.A Polish-Danish uncle of mine started a profitable sweatshop sewing jeans in Poland later sold abroad under a Western label. He intervened often with the Danish authorities to ease restrictions on Polish imports. My uncle was constantly under the watchful eye of the secret policemen who referred to him as “that Jew.” He did not enjoy his NEP ride forever. The government reneged on his tax deal and he went bankrupt.

Other exiles had great success, particularly those who collaborated with the secret police. After the fall these exiles secured good jobs for the families and cronies of their Communist contacts. This was evident during "privatization" which involved shady deals, credit scams, and state property embezzlement. Post-Communist crony capitalism was born, sometimes with exile participation.

Cuba and its exiles should prepare for the future. If the Castros or their successors opt for a “transformation” the outcome in Cuba will at best be similar to post-Communist Poland. If the regime remains intransigent Cuba will hover between China and North Korea. Some of the Cuban exiles will continue to prop the regime with their money, connections, and public diplomacy. Either way, the result will be a victory for the bad guys.

Professor Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, Ph.D., is the Kosciuszko Chair in Polish Studies at The Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC.

Prevention of Cuba's Drilling Best Serves U.S. Interests

Wednesday, November 16, 2011
In The Huffington Post:

Prevention of Cuba's Drilling Best Serves U.S. Interests

by Mauricio Claver-Carone

Reasonable minds should be able to agree that it's not in the United States' national interest to assist anti-American dictators in searching for oil to support their repressive, failing regimes. It won't drop the price of gas in the United States or do anything to enhance our "energy independence."

Yet American assistance to make oil-drilling in the Florida Straits profitable is exactly what Cuba's dictators Fidel and Raul Castro hope to gain as they use the threat of oil-drilling to maneuver the Obama Administration into once again unilaterally lifting U.S. sanctions on Cuba.

Cuba's search for leverage over the United States is not new. The Castro brothers have been using offshore-drilling as a lure to extract economic and political concessions from various nations since 1991, when the collapse of the Soviet Union ended that country's hefty subsidies to Cuba.

Brazil recently declassified documents showing that in 1993 the Castro regime offered oil rights on the "most promising" areas of Cuba's offshore waters to then-President Itamar Franco and Brazil's national oil company Petrobras. In exchange, Cuba wanted Brazil to shun Cuban dissidents and cancel a meeting of Cuban exiles at Brazil's Washington Embassy. The Franco government all-too-happily complied. Years later, Petrobras exited Cuba empty-handed.

Castro found a new "partner" when Hugo Chavez rose to the presidency of oil-rich Venezuela in 1998. With the backing of Chavez and Venezuela's national oil company PDVSA, the Castro regime resumed its diplomatic offensive signing highly publicized oil-leases with Spain's Repsol, Norway's Statoil, Russia's Gazprom, India's ONGC Videsh, Malaysia's Petronas, Canada's Sherritt, Angola's Sonangol, Vietnam's PetroVietnam, and China's CNPC.

Only one company, however, actually conducted any exploratory drilling: Spain's Repsol in 2004. The company found some oil, but not in any commercially viable quantity. It, too, then pulled out of Cuba. Similarly, Canada's Sherritt and Brazil's Petrobras -- perhaps the most credible and respected of the region's oil companies outside the United States -- publicly abandoned their efforts in 2008 and 2011, respectively, stating Cuban oil production was not "commercially viable."

Why? U.S. sanctions drive up costs of production. Even the Castro regime admits it. Keep in mind that Mexico's Pemex and Venezuela's PDVSA refine most of their heavy crude in the United States, and then repatriate it. As long as U.S. sanctions against the Castro regime are in place, producing and refining any oil found in Cuban waters in the United States isn't an option.

That leads to a question: If off-shore drilling in Cuban waters is not commercially viable for respected regional oil companies experienced in dealing with Cubans, is such drilling really viable for the Angolans, Malaysians or the Chinese? The answer is no.

We learned this in 2006, when the Castro regime seemingly had convinced Washington policymakers, including then-Vice President Dick Cheney and Congressional leaders that the Chinese were ready to drill off Cuba's shores. The drilling never materialized, but the threat served the Castro regime's political interests as Reuters reported: "Havana is eager to see American oil companies join forces with the anti-embargo lobby led by U.S. farmers who have been selling food to Cuba for four years."

It may still be working. The ideological and commercial propaganda currently emanating from the Castros has both hypocritical environmentalists and unscrupulous oil companies lobbying to ease U.S. sanctions. BP's disastrous oil blow-out in the Gulf Mexico last year and the justifiable public outrage that ensued, virtually invited the Castros to employ the threat. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez confirmed as much in a message to former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who recently traveled to Havana in an unsuccessful effort to secure the release of American hostage Alan Gross.

In a flashback to 2004, Spain's Repsol is back in Cuba preparing to drill another exploratory well early next year. If Repsol abandons its drilling, the Castros say India's ONGC Videsh or Malaysia's Petronas will step forward. Curiously, Chavez last year granted this peculiar trio extensive oil-rights in Venezuela's Orinoco belt, where proven reserves are estimated at 235 billion barrels. That's about 50 times greater than speculations about all Cuban off-shore reserves. Foul play can certainly be deduced.

Despite the fact that Repsol still faces exploratory hurdles (and gargantuan production costs if oil is found), the United States is cautiously licensing specialty oil mitigation firms to respond quickly to any accident. Commendable as that is, Cuba's search for oil in the Florida Straits could be thwarted altogether if the United States swiftly tightened its sanctions on Cuba by withholding U.S. executive visas for the Castro regime's foreign partners; stripping those partners of drilling rights and concessions in the United States and our off-shore waters; multiplying their legal liabilities; and legally disqualifying use of the drilling rig Scarabeo 9 that is now enroute to Cuba.

Irrespective of whether the United States lifts sanctions or tries again to engage Cuba, the anti-American nature of the Castros' regime is unlikely to provide necessary safeguards for off-shore drilling. Precaution might bring us temporary peace of mind, but prevention would better serve our long-term national interests.

Secretary Salazar on Cuba Oil Drilling

Castro's Gross Manipulation

Two weeks ago, an American rabbi visited Alan Gross, an American development worker being held hostage by the Castro regime for helping the island's Jewish community connect to the Internet.

Unfortunately, the rabbi didn't get to spend any time alone with Alan Gross.

To the contrary, as AFP noted:

"Gross and the rabbi spoke for an hour and 40 minutes with a translator and Interior Ministry agents present."

That pretty much says it all. (Needless to say, Gross and the American rabbi didn't need a translator to understand each other).

Days later, the rabbi published a moving report advocating a "prisoner exchange" of Gross for five Cuban spies convicted in the U.S. (on charges that include conspiracy to commit murder), which he claims Gross himself endorsed at the "escorted" meeting.

Then, the final touch.

Last week, senior Castro regime official Ricardo Alarcon stated that the U.S. should not expect any "unilateral gestures" (despite the numerous unilateral gestures already made by the Obama Administration) and instead urged for Jewish groups to lobby President Obama and lawmakers for such a "prisoner exchange."

Coincidence? Hardly.

Laura Pollan Lives

Last night, protest artist Geandy Pavon projected the image of deceased Ladies in White leader Laura Pollan onto the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa, Canada.

Her legacy lives on.

Senators Block Cuba Provisions in Spending Bill

Tuesday, November 15, 2011
From The Hill:

An eclectic group of senators blocked a version of the spending "minibus" that included a provision to lower trade barriers with Cuba when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attempted to bring it to the floor on Tuesday.

The measure, which he attempted to attach to a pending energy and water funding bill, contained funding for financial services and state and foreign operations as well as the provision which would have allowed cash exchanges between Cubans and U.S. banks.

Florida Sens. Marco Rubio (R) and Bill Nelson (D) as well as Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), however, objected on grounds that such a provision violated Senate rules that prohibits appropriations bills from containing legislative language. The three senators also argued that the dictatorial ruling regime in Cuba is teetering and that lowering trade barriers could bolster its grip on power.

The parliamentarian sustained the senators’ objection and Reid quickly offered a second version of the legislation without the Cuba measure that included number of minor changes including one that would ensure all amendments remain germane.

That version however was shot down by Sen. Jim Moran (R-Kan.), the author of the Cuba provision, who commented that the new version was not the version that had come out of commitee. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) also objected, complaining that bill spent too much and would fund abortion in Washington D.C. and around the world.

Because Reid could not find agreement on keeping the amendments germane, he "filled the tree" before attaching clean versions of the spending bill to the water and energy bill.

FARC's New Cuba-Trained Leader

From Reuters:

Colombia's FARC guerrillas named Timoleon Jimenez, a hardliner known as Timochenko, as their new leader after the Andean country's armed forces killed his predecessor, a rebel statement said on Tuesday

In one of the largest strikes against the guerrillas, Colombian forces killed FARC leader Alfonso Cano on November 4. But the insurgents vowed to fight on, dampening hopes that his death might bring the nation closer to peace.

Timochenko, who received military and political training in Cuba and Russia, is considered more uncompromising than other rival commanders of the FARC, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, according to Colombian intelligence services.

Is Raul Castro Just Misunderstood?

Last week, the New America Foundation's Anya Landau French wrote in the Christian Science Monitor:

"The regime is changing, no doubt, as Raul Castro fights a corrupt and resistant bureaucracy, dialogues with the Catholic Church on human rights, and announces term limits for all high level government posts."

Doesn't that sound nice?

Of course, forget the fact that Raul has served as the regime's chief executioner and is responsible for thousands of deaths (including those of Americans).

Forget the fact that Raul was nearly indicted in U.S. federal courts (politically scrapped at the last minute by President Clinton) for trafficking seven and a half tons of cocaine into Florida.

Forget the fact that Raul has stolen and hoarded nearly all of the island's wealth under the control of his military cronies and phantom corporations.

Forget the fact that since Raul's "promotion" to dictator-in-chief, Cuban pro-democracy activists are suffering the highest numbers of political arrests in 30 years.

Forget all of the above.

The Raul Castro fan-club wants you to counter-intuitively believe that his family's 52-year totalitarian dictatorship is not blame for Cuba's corruption -- it's the "bureaucracy" that's to blame.

Moreover, they want you to believe that Raul is really an "in-the-closet" democrat. After all, he's now supposedly "willing" to step down from power when he turns 91-years old.

Silly pro-democracy activists -- all that pain, suffering and sacrifice for nothing.

They should just concede that Raul is simply misunderstood and join him in prolonging his family's dictatorship to at least 62 years.

Selling Uranium to Chavez

Monday, November 14, 2011
From Colombia Reports:

Colombia's leftist guerrilla group FARC was interested in selling uranium to the Venezuelan government in 2008, according to emails found on computers from the FARC's late leader Raul Reyes.

A previously unknown email from Reyes to the ex-head of the FARC's 48th Front, "Edgar Tovar," published by Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional, read; "another issue is that of uranium. There is a man who supplies me with the explosive materials that we prepare, and his name is Belisario, and he lives in Bogota; he's a friend of 'Jorge 40;' he sent me samples and the specifications and offered to sell each kilo at $2.5 million and that they deliver and we look at whom we will sell to, and that shall be the business with a government... they have 50 kilos ready and can sell a lot more; they have direct contact with those that have the product."

That message from February 16, 2008 agrees with another between Reyes and FARC commander, "Ivan Marquez," over the amount of uranium discussed. Reyes stressed the importance of selling the metal saying, "on these sides they offer 50 kilos of uranium with the possibility of acquiring more amounts... It occurs to me that 'Angel' might have an interest in this product for their friends from distant lands. I hope to discuss this topic with the man."

According to an analysis of these letters by the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), "Angel" is a pseudonym that is associated with Venezuela, and the man "who might have an interest" in the product would be none other than Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez.

The Paradox of Cuba's Rulers

By Havana-based blogger Regina Coyula:

I don’t envy the position of the government at all, even though I also don’t feel pity for any of our rulers. The economic situation in Cuba doesn’t look any better than five years ago. Lifting the prohibitions on what should have never been prohibited, like the legal regulations that for now keep people distracted, are in my opinion a way to gain time, and the confirmation of how wrong the managers of this country have been, the same ones that have been wrong time and time again over the last 50 years, but are still there today.

We rectify or we sink” — those were the words of the President General, without any signs of their inertia giving way to action. Nothing appears to change, therefore, since we don’t rectify, we sink (that is to say, they sink, we arrived first).

But if we energized the country, we would have to make reforms that encourage the investment of capital and create a safe climate for investors, to start, and other reforms so radical that the government, as we know it and with all its members aboard, would go under.

If they change, they sink; and if they don’t change, they sink. There is the paradox.

Translated by Meg Anderson

Cuba's Dangerous Spy Apparatus

By Jerry Brewer of Criminal Justice International:

Cuba's Spy Apparatus, a Conduit of Latin America Insurgency

To effectively monitor aggression, interference and other forms of insurgency within their homelands, democracies throughout the Americas must immediately address their governments' counterintelligence missions.

Cuba's Intelligence Directorate (DI), formerly known as the Dirección General de Inteligencia, or DGI, has been and remains a contingency of very well-trained, organized and financed agents of covert and hostile espionage throughout the Americas and elsewhere.

The Cuban DI is responsible for all foreign intelligence collection. The 40-year history of the nefarious operations of the DI has included active involvement in aiding leftist and dictatorial movements in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

With Castro's recent subterfuge of renaissance into quasi-capitalism and a modicum of professed freedoms - one for the decades, many people are demanding that the U.S. trade embargo, in place since 1960, be lifted.

The truth is that Cuban espionage has been linked to villainous associations with the Chinese and Iranians, as well as with Venezuela. As well, a report from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency indicates that Cuba has been expanding intelligence operations with others in the Middle East and South Asia.

Cuba has trained thousands of communist guerrillas and terrorists, and has sponsored violent acts of aggression and subversion in most democratic nations of the southwestern hemisphere. U.S. government studies within the intelligence community documented a total of 3,043 international terrorist incidents in the decade of 1968 to 1978. Within that study, "over 25 percent occurred in Latin America."

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has adopted the previous Soviet-styled Cuban intelligence service as his model for Venezuela's security service, while utilizing Cuban intelligence counterparts and advisors as his primary sources on security and intelligence. Moreover, resisting U.S. drug and terrorism interdiction throughout South America has been a busy agenda of Chavez.

Chavez is perceived to be the mentor of Bolivia's president, Evo Morales, a former coca grower's union leader who recently, while seeking to normalize diplomatic relations with Washington, stated that the DEA is not welcome in his country.

In 2009 Ecuador refused to renew the ten-year lease to the United States at Manta airbase, an action that was dismissed simply with language describing a revision of the nation's Constitution under President Rafael Correa's leadership. The Constitution "bans foreign military bases" on Ecuadorian soil.

Still, the successes of the U.S. Southern Command and drug enforcement operators in Latin America are well-documented.

As well, Panama, Colombia and Peru recognized the critical need to fight narcotrafficking and terrorism, and quickly expressed interest in alliances with U.S. efforts. The success of Colombia against the FARC guerrillas, as well as Mexico's valiant fight against its narcoterrorist organized crime insurgents, represent either one becoming part of the solution or a part of the problem.

Getting back to Chavez, reports link his government with radical terrorist organizations and other state sponsors of terrorism. Hezbollah fundraising activities, in the form of "financial transactions," on Margarita Island in Venezuela have been widely reported.

According to General Marcos Ferreira, a former Venezuelan Intelligence Director, Chavez gave instructions to "destroy records" on ten suspected Hezbollah fundraisers conducting suspicious financial transactions on the islands of Margarita, Aruba and Curaçao, and in the cities of Maracaibo and Valencia.

Margarita Island appears to be the center of an extensive terrorist financial network stretching throughout the Caribbean to Panama, and the Cayman Islands, where three Afghanis traveling on false Pakistani passports were caught entering from Cuba with $200,000 in cash in August of 2001. According to British colonial authorities, efforts to launder the money through Cayman banks also involved a group of Arab businessmen.

The deployment of the Cuban Intelligence Service in Venezuela is so deep that its agents enjoy "direct access" to President Chávez, and often provide information not shared with local intelligence services, as indicated by cables sent from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas to the State Department,

Chávez has tried to indoctrinate the Venezuelan military, bringing in thousands of advisers to replicate Cuban military doctrine, and to deal with security and intelligence issues. Cuban officers are deeply involved in intelligence and security matters in Venezuela, from the acquisition of military equipment to overall military strategy. The number of Cuban intelligence experts working in Venezuela is reported to be around 3,000.

Too, reports place FARC and ELN guerrillas from Colombia in safe havens in Cuba.

And, prior to Vicente Fox becoming president of Mexico, there was a reported "gentleman's agreement" between Mexico and Cuba - that "Havana intelligence could operate in Mexico, largely against U.S. targets, as long as Havana did not meddle in Mexico's internal affairs." Cuba continues to maintain a large intelligence-gathering hub in Mexico City.

Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.

Take Action: Alan Gross Day

Sunday, November 13, 2011
A must-see.

Judy Gross, the wife of an American development worker unjustly imprisoned by the Castro regime, addresses last week's 2011 General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America:

Another Wayne Smith Absurdity

Throughout the years, the Center for International Policy's Wayne Smith has made an abundance of absurd remarks in support of Castro's dictatorship.

Yet, he always finds a way to top himself.

Yesterday, Smith told The Toronto Star that American development worker Alan Gross "deserved" to be imprisoned by the Castro regime, as he was distributing "rather sophisticated devices" in Cuba.

Those "rather sophisticated devices" were simply communication links for Cuba's Jewish community to be able to establish regular Internet connectivity.

It's only "sophisticated" in the eyes of a regime (and its supporters) that denies its people their fundamental human right to free information -- protected under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and thus, international law.

(Moreover, those "rather sophisticated devices" were cleared by Cuban customs upon Gross's arrival to the island).

But that's not all.

In the same breath, Smith condemns the conviction by U.S. federal juries of five Cuban spies for -- amongst other things -- penetrating military bases and conspiring to kill American citizens.

He calls it a "blot on the honor of the U.S."

To summarize, Smith believes the arrest and arbitrary conviction of Alan Gross for helping Cubans connect to the Internet is warranted, but the trials, convictions and appeals of five Cuban spies that led to the death of American citizens are a mockery.

That's absurd -- even for Wayne Smith standards.