Question for President Santos

Saturday, April 14, 2012
During the opening speech of today's VI Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos stated:

"[J]ust as a new summit with a frustrated Haiti would be unacceptable, so it would be with Cuba absent."

So here's a question for President Santos:

If the FARC, the Castro-supported narco-guerilla movement, were to seize control of Colombia's government, would he welcome their participation in the VII Summit of the Americas?

Of course not.

So stop the selfish hypocrisy.

From The White House

From The White House briefing with Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhoades at the Hotel Caribe in Cartagena, Colombia:

Q. Hugo Chavez, President Ortega, and the President of Ecuador are not here. What does that tell you about the direction the Americas summit is taking and the possibility for future summits if you start having that kind of --

MR. RHODES: Well, first of all, there are -- the vast majority of the leaders of the Americas are here at this summit to deal with a pressing set of issues, from economic integration to energy cooperation and citizen security. So you're talking about a very small number of countries that aren’t attending. Cuba is not attending the Summit of the Americas because they are not in line with the democratic charter of the Americas. They have not taken the necessary steps to respect the rights of their own citizens.

We have said time and again that we welcome the day in which a democratic Cuba could become a full participant in the Summit of the Americas and in the institutions of the Americas. Unfortunately, that day has not yet come.

With regard to President Chavez, who obviously attended the last Summit of the Americas, he has been battling cancer, of course, as well, and it's my understanding that he is not going to be attending.

But again, I think what you have here is leaders from across this hemisphere, north to south, east to west, from different political persuasions and backgrounds, coming together behind a common purpose. And as the President and his counterparts pointed out at the CEO Summit today, you have a remarkable trio of leaders, in terms of President Obama representing the United States, President Rousseff, someone who came out of a movement and sacrificed greatly for Brazil to become a democracy, sitting with President Santos, who has, of course, been such a part of the effort to bring security to Colombia so that they could have the kind of growth that we're seeing right here today.

So we believe that this is a tremendous forum to have conversations about the future of the region. And again, we look forward to the day when a democratic Cuba can fully join the system of the Americas.

Free This Courageous Man!

Castro Will Not Be Invited to Future Summits

Canada and the United States have vetoed a proposal at the VI Summit of the Americas that would have allowed the Castro dictatorship to participate in future gatherings of the hemisphere's democracies.

Pursuant to a working meeting of Foreign Ministers, Argentina's Hector Timerman confirmed that a consensus had not been reached on the proposal and, thus, it will not be included in the final declaration.

CAVEAT: Unless the Presidents decide otherwise in their meetings today and tomorrow.

For Cuba to participate, it must meet the same democratic standards that 34 out of 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere abide by.

It's not too much to ask.

There should be zero tolerance for military dictatorships in the Americas.

Are Hard-Line Cuban-Americans Strong as Ever?

Friday, April 13, 2012
Here we go again.

Today, The New York Times ran a debate feature entitled, "Are Hard-Line Cuban-Americans Strong as Ever?"

Univision Radio's Ninoska Perez-Castellon and U.S. Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) answered in the affirmative.

But pollster Fernand Amandi countered, "[F]or the second and third generations of Americans of Cuban descent, for whom Fidel is a historical rather than personal enemy, the virulence of their anti-Castro posture is not as personal or passionate as their parents’ and grandparents’."

(They also asked the New America Foundation's Anya Landau French, who gave her profound Miami political expertise as a former staffer to a Montana Senator. Go figure.)

Ironically, Amandi's current analysis resembles that of The New York Times itself, which first concluded on Dec. 5, 1965 (that's right -- 1965):

The very active anti-Castro groups in Miami have faded into virtual obscurity.”

Then again on October 10, 1974:

Virtually all of several dozen Cubans interviewed would like to visit Cuba either to see their relatives or just their country, which they have not seen for 10 years or more; and some segments of the exile community, especially young refugees brought up and educated here, are not interested in the Cuban issues.”

And March 23, 1975:

For the first time significant number of exiles are beginning to temper their emotion with hardnosed geopolitical realism.”

And August 31, 1975:

A majority of the persons interviewed — especially the young, who make up more than half of the 450,000 exiles here — are looking forward to the time when it will be possible for them to travel to Cuba. Even businessmen, who represent a more conservative group than the young, are thinking about trading with Cuba once the embargo is totally lifted.”

And July 4, 1976:

A new generation of professionals between 25 and 35 years of age has replaced the older exile leadership.”

Et cetera.

Now, ask yourself.

If a pollster keeps predicting a candidate's victory cycle after cycle, yet the candidate keeps losing cycle after cycle, it means:

a. The pollster is clueless or biased. b. The results are wrong. c. Both.

And the answer is?

Obama Has Failed to Stand Up to Castro

From Governor Mitt Romney's Campaign:

Ileana-Ros-Lehtinen: President Obama Has Failed to Stand Up to the Castro Brothers

Boston, MA – Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today made the following statement on President Obama’s comments about Cuba:

“President Obama stated that Cuba will someday be free, but for three years he has adopted policies that only push that day farther into the future. Even though the Castro brothers continue to brutalize the Cuban people and have unjustly imprisoned an American aid worker, Alan Gross, President Obama has lifted sanctions on the regime. This only serves to prop up the Castros and extend their rule. We need to replace this president with a strong leader like Mitt Romney who understands the plight of the Cuban people and is unafraid to stand up for their freedom and universal principles of liberty.”

Obama: The Cuban People Will Be Free

From Politico:

President Obama said in an interview with the Spanish-language El Tiempo that the Castro regime in Cuba cannot last forever — and that one day the Cuban people will be free of a government that "denies them their universal rights."

"History shows that the desire for freedome and human dignity can't be denied forever. No authoritarian regime will last forever. The day will come in which the Cuban people will be free to determine its own destiny," Obama said in an interview that was translated and printed only in Spanish. "While we wait for that day, I maintain my commitment to support the Cuban people in their desire to freely determine Cuba's future, and that the support will make them less dependent on the state that denies them their universal rights."

Obama touted his administration's making the most significant changes in several decades to U.S. relations and policies toward Cuba, including permitting visas to families and facilitating money-transfers from Cuban Americans to to Cuba. He said his administration has worked with countries across the region to find, by consensus, a path forward for the reintegration of Cuba into the inter-American system. The fundamentals of the system were laid out in the Inter American Democratic Charter in 2001 and require a commitment to democratic governance.

"Unfortunately and tragically, Cuban leaders have repeatedly refused such a plan," Obama said.

"The Cuban authorities have shown no interest in modifying [the country's] relationship with the U.S., nor a disposition of respecting the democratic and human rights of the Cuban community. Furthermore, during the recent visit of Pope Benedict XVI to that country, the Cuban authorities reiterated that Cuba would remain a single-party state and proceeded to persecute those that raised their voices in support of the rights of the Cuban people."

Still, he said, "I await with enthusiasm the day in which a democratic Cuba claims its deserved place in the Summit of the Americas and the day in which the Cuban community enjoys the same rights and liberties as other people in this region and around the world."

Promoting Democracy With the Internet

Thursday, April 12, 2012
From U.S. Senator Marco Rubio's Fighting for Florida:

Rubio Talks More About Promoting Democracy with the Internet

Senator Rubio was on From Washington al Mundo's radio show talking more about how access to the Internet empowers individuals and can be used to help promote democracy.

From Washington al Mundo's Mauricio Claver-Carone: "You mentioned social media and technology. Recently you spoke at a Google-Heritage Foundation conference on social media and technology to support dissidents and pro-democracy movements in Cuba, in particular. What impact has, in your eyes, what do you think that social media and technology, what impact has it had in regards to democracy promotion worldwide?"

Senator Marco Rubio: "Well it's the power of the individual. When individuals are empowered to speak their minds and to organize each other and to communicate with one another and to debate ideas and spread ideas among one another, that translates to societal and political change.

"So you've seen the impact that it’s had, for example, in the Middle East and the so called Arab Spring. And so why do regimes like China and others block access to the Internet? Because that kind of independent empowerment is a threat to centralized control of government. And obviously why is there no Internet at all in Cuba, except for the very elite in the government. It's because they can't survive. You know as silly as it may sound when you first hear it, the Cuban regime would not be able to survive if the people of Cuba had unfettered access to Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet. They wouldn't. They would not be able to survive that because it would all come crumbling down pretty quickly. That's why in Cuba, forget about access to the Internet, there is no Internet, unless you're a tourist at a hotel or a high-ranking government official. Your access to the Internet is severely limited."

FWAM: Rubio Discusses Western Hemisphere

As Rubio Heads to Colombia for Summit of the Americas, He Discusses Western Hemispheric Issues

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, is headed for Cartagena, Colombia today for this weekend’s Summit of the Americas. The Summit is an opportunity for Rubio to discuss the importance of democracy and trade with leaders from around the region, and help strengthen America’s relationships in this important part of the world. Before departing, he appeared on the radio show, “From Washington Al Mundo”, to discuss issues in Latin America including Iran’s influence, Venezuela’s upcoming elections and the importance of embracing democracy & free enterprise.

Interview with Mauricio Claver-Carone on “From Washington Al Mundo”
Senator Marco Rubio
April 11, 2012

Rubio on Iran’s Influence in the Western Hemisphere

Mauricio Claver-Carone: “You’ve expressed concern about Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere. And this has actually gone from, in the last few years, from speculation to fact as there’s been intelligence plots that have unfolded in Mexico with Iranian officials and Venezuelan officials and Cuban intelligence officials. We see that there are investments and transactions and perhaps even that Iran is trying to launder money to kind of deviate from its sanctions through Latin America. Are you comfortable that enough consideration is given to this potential threat?”

Senator Marco Rubio: “Well, it’s an evolving one that we need to keep an eye on. Right now, the way I would characterize the threat of the Iran presence in the Western hemisphere is three-fold. First and foremost, it has remained a diplomatic one. Basically, they’re just looking to show the world, ‘Hey we’re not isolated, we have friends and our friends are in Nicaragua, you know, Venezuela, Cuba,’ things of that nature. So I think that’s still their primary presence in the region. I mean, they’re always looking at how to avoid sanctions by funneling things through a Venezuelan bank or a Nicaraguan bank or something like that.

“And then the third, which I think is the one that will grow in importance in the next few years, is their intelligence platform. Their Quds Force presence in the region, as they continue to invest in what they call ‘cultural centers’ and as they begin to train intelligence officers in the region and so forth. Again, I’m not sure that we’re at the emergency stage yet, but it is a growing problem and one that we need to keep an eye on. I think certainly if you look at the way Iran throws its weight around the world, one of the things that it hopes to be able to do is punch above its weight by being able to wage asymmetrical warfare, which basically means they’re not going to try to match us aircraft carrier to aircraft carrier. What they’re going to try to do is be able to attack us using third-party terrorists. They use terrorism as a part of their stagecraft, as a part of their foreign policy. The ability to stage those kinds of attacks from the Western Hemisphere against our own interests is something that I think they’re interested in building up the capability to do. We’ve got to keep an eye on that and be willing to counter it, and also send a very clear message to leaders in the Western Hemisphere that the United States is not going to tolerate terrorist threats emerging from our own hemisphere. Luckily, it’s contained to a handful of rogue countries and rogue leaders I should say, like Hugo Chavez and others, who continue to embarrass themselves and their countries by aligning themselves with people like Gaddafi and Assad and now Iran as well.”

Rubio on Upcoming Elections in Venezuela

Claver-Carone: “Obviously in November we have elections here in the United States and the impact of the elections will be felt not only in Latin America but in the rest of the world. But also, in Latin America, this fall there are elections in Venezuela, which you previously alluded to. This could possibly be a game changing election for the hemisphere. What do you think the United States and the hemispheric community can do to ensure, or to try and ensure, that there is not wide spread fraud in the elections as we’ve seen in the past?”

Rubio: “Well, first and foremost is to work with our partners in the region to call it for what it is. There is fraud and there are abuses. It’s one of the things I was really upset about when it came to Nicaragua. We didn’t prioritize it. I don’t think there is anyone that would dispute that the elections in Nicaragua that were just carried out were fraudulent. Everyone says that. But the U.S. was very slow in saying that, in being forceful about it. We spoke very forcefully the day after fraudulent elections in Russia. It took us forever to put any sort of strong pronouncement out when it came to the issue of Nicaragua.

“I hope we are not as slow in doing that in Venezuela. I hope that if indeed there are irregularities that we would join the Western Hemisphere and the community of democratic nations in the hemisphere in condemning that. Ultimately the election and the decision belongs to the people of Venezuela. It’s a sovereign nation. They have the right to choose who their leaders are, even if it is someone we don’t agree with. Our job as their neighbor and their friend is to ensure that we will not turn our back on their democratic aspirations and that if in fact their democratic rights are being undermined, we will be very forceful and clear in speaking out against that.”

Rubio On Embracing Democracy and Free Enterprise

Claver-Carone: “The last couple of decades there’s almost been like a pendulum in Latin America. You saw in the 1990s democracy sweep in and it was the great hope of democracy. And then after Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998, we saw that there was almost like a counterattack on democracy. Where do you think that pendulum lies today? Are Hugo Chavez and his allies on the retreat?

Rubio: “I think so, because if you look at those nations and what they’ve experienced. Compare what’s happening in Colombia to what’s happening in Venezuela. I mean compare the nations that have embraced democracy and free enterprise to the nations that have embraced what Venezuela is doing.

“Venezuela is a rich country. It has energy resources. It has an educated business class. This is a country that should be doing very well and by all accounts it has an increasing amount of income inequality. The more they embrace Chavez’s policies, or the more Chavez’s policies are kicked in, the more income inequality exists.

“For example, pair the economic growth and income inequality in Chile to Venezuela’s. Venezuela started out ahead of Chile on all these factors. And in a decade, Chile has surpassed them on everything, and it hasn’t been by embracing Chavez-style policies. I think what big government socialism has led to in Venezuela is what it’s led to everywhere in the world it’s been tried: corruption, income inequality, poverty and democratic instability.”

From The White House

From yesterday's Q&A with National Security Council Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere, Dan Restrepo:

Q. My question is about Cuba. Some of the countries would like to see Cuba participate in the Summit of the Americas. Do you see that as being possible at any time in the near future? And also, what’s your view of the economic reforms there and developments under Raul Castro?

MR. RESTREPO: This is Dan. We look forward to the day when a democratic Cuba rejoins the inter-American system. Three years ago at the summit there was a lot of talk that that was going to be the last Summit of the Americas without Cuba present. A decision was made to have the OAS General Assembly that same year that was held in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, deal with the question of how Cuba returns to the inter-American system.

And the countries of the Americas -- all the countries that will be present in Cartagena, including the United States -- came to the conclusion that the path for that return was Cuba complying with the same basic criteria, the same basic democratic commitments that the other countries of the Americas have made.

Unfortunately, Cuban authorities haven’t decided to go down that path. Instead, you see, even with Pope Benedict in Cuba a couple weeks ago, the Cubans insisting publicly that theirs will remain a one-party state, and cracking down on those who choose to courageously defend. So the path is there for Cuba’s return to the inter-American system, and we very much hope that Cuba will travel down that path as soon as possible.

The President has advanced a set of policies to reach out to the Cuban people to support them in their desire to determine Cuba’s future, and also to make them less dependent on the Cuban state. He has done that through lifting restrictions on family visits and remittances, on enhancing educational, cultural and religious travel, and also allowing greater support for religious institutions and activities through remittances from the United States to Cuba. Those are policies that the President remains committed to.

The economic changes that you’ve seen in Cuba today -- a lot depends on the implementation of those. They create the possibility of greater economic independence for the Cuban people from Cuban authorities. If that comes to pass, that would be a good thing. But fundamentally today, Cuban authorities continue to deny the Cuban people their universal rights. And the President will continue to stand up for those rights and encourage others to do so as well.

To Change Cuba, Stick With the Burma Model

Wednesday, April 11, 2012
In The Hill:

To change Cuba, stick with the Burma model

By Mauricio Claver-Carone

Advocates of “normalizing” relations with Cuba’s Castro regime continue to cite China and Vietnam as models of what can be gained by changing U.S. policy. Their argument is: Economic reform leads to political reform and America should be doing business with Cuba as nonchalantly as we do with China and Vietnam.

Ironically Cuba’s dictator du jour, Raul Castro agrees, albeit his rationale is a bit different: Vietnam and China are “model states” proving that economic stability can be attained while preserving political absolutism.

The time has come for reasonable people to admit that the China and Vietnam models have failed completely in achieving political reform and protecting the human rights of the repressed populations of both nations.

There is, however, another Asian model that does seem to be working.

In a key test of introducing political reform, Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been resoundingly elected to that nation’s parliament. Her National League for Democracy (NLD) claims 40 of 45 elected seats across Burma, in spite of her being held under house arrest since 1989. Some caution is warranted because the NLD will control only a tiny fraction of the 664 seats in the Burmese parliament, and the military is guaranteed a quarter of the seats.

Even so, this Burmese election represents political reform that is leaps and bounds ahead of anything attempted by China or Vietnam, two countries that have benefited from friendly U.S. political and economic policies. Tellingly, it is Burma that has been subjected to stiff U.S. sanctions, which could not be lifted until certain conditions are met:

- the release of all political prisoners;

- a demonstrated respect for freedom of speech, press, association, and the peaceful exercise of religion; and

- an agreement by the military government with democratic opponents, led by the NLD and Burma’s ethnic nationalities, to the transfer power to a civilian government accountable to the Burmese people through democratic elections and a rule of law.

Do these conditions sound familiar? They should. They’re very similar to those put forth for lifting U.S. sanctions applied towards the Castros’s regime by the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (LIBERTAD).

For the United States, the policy challenges posed by Burma and Cuba are very similar. In Burma, the impact of U.S. sanctions was weakened and circumvented over the years by investments from regime-friendly neighbors in China, India and Thailand. In Cuba, the same thing has occurred courtesy of Venezuela, Canada and Spain. Yet none of those investments in the ruling military juntas of Burma or Cuba has eased repression, increased political dialogue or brought political reform. Sadly enough, Cuba’s dictator Raul Castro still has a long way to go to catch up with the political reforms made in Burma.

In addition, to releasing opposition leader Aung Sun Kyi from house arrest, directly engaging her in a dialogue and allowing the NLD to participate in the parliamentary elections, the Burmese military made a number of other changes. It has:

- stepped aside in favor of a civilian government;

- legalized independent labor unions and strikes;

- authorized the creation of an independent National Human Rights Commission;

- relaxed press and internet censorship laws;

- released most political prisoners and, equally important, halted new political arrests.

In contrast, Raul Castro's military dictatorship remains completely intact, political reforms have never been on the table, repression is at its highest level in 30 years and political arrests have nearly tripled in the last year.

Meanwhile, Castro's economic "reforms" are limited to a handful of self-employment measures, mostly recycled from the 1990's with the regime retaining ownership rights. They don’t nearly approach the economic latitude allowed by its professed allies in Vietnam and China. That’s unfortunate.

Judging by history and the recent results in Burma, U.S. policy in Cuba clearly remains the right policy. In fact, I’ll happily wager with anyone that Cuba will make the transition to democracy before China or Vietnam. And when Cuba’s pro-democracy activists Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, Berta Soler and Jose Daniel Ferrer do win election to Cuba’s parliament, they will surely underscore the value of pressure. Then, the world can turn its attention to correcting the failing policies toward China and Vietnam.

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

Celebrating Our 25th Show!

From Washington Al Mundo Celebrates 25th Show on Cristina Radio

Stellar Lineup Includes Exclusive Interviews With Senator Marco Rubio and Former Governor Jeb Bush

APRIL 10, 2012 (Miami, FL) – National Latino Broadcasting LLC (NLB) celebrates today the 25th show of From Washington al Mundo, on Cristina Radio SiriusXM channel 146. The program, hosted by Mauricio Claver-Carone, delivers first-of-its-kind original programming from our nation's capital on the most pressing foreign policy issues. To celebrate the occasion, the program will feature a special interview with Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida governor Jeb Bush on Wednesday, April 11th. The special anniversary program will also feature another visit with the show’s first ever guest, U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Cristina Radio airs From Washington al Mundo, every Monday and Wednesday at 4 pm/ET. Mauricio Claver-Carone, a Capitol Hill insider, political advocate, and one of the nation's most widely-respected foreign policy commentators, shares his expertise on a broad range of international, political and economic affairs. The informative show features interviews and discussions with national and international leaders, policy experts and opinion-makers.

“Upon launching our channels, we promised compelling and topical programming dealing with issues that are not being addressed by other media outlets; programming that speaks to and keeps our Hispanic communities informed,” said Nelson Albareda, President and CEO of NLB. "From Washington al Mundo is the perfect example of the type of programming we are committed to provide our listeners."

In the 3 months it has been on the air, From Washington Al Mundo has featured interviews with Governor Mitt Romney; former President of El Salvador Francisco Flores; former President of Belarus Stanislau Shushkevish; Foreign Minister of Costa Rica José Enrique Castillo; U.S. Senator Bob Menéndez (D-NJ); Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL); former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton; former White House Chief of Staff John Sununu; U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), and David Rivera (R-FL); Puerto Rico's Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi; former U.S. Assistant Secretaries of State Otto Reich and Roger Noriega; former National Security Council Senior Director Dan Fisk; former U.S. Ambassadors to Argentina, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Portugal and Venezuela; the Wall Street Journal's Mary O'Grady; and pro-democracy activists from Bolivia, Burma, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Equitorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, Somalia and Syria, among many others.

In April 2011, NLB was selected by Sirius XM Radio to lease two channels on a long-term basis to air on each of the Sirius and XM satellite radio platforms. Cristina Radio launched this past January and airs on SiriusXM channel 146. NLB’s other channel, En Vivo on SiriusXM channel 147, is an innovative music channel airing exclusive Latin GRAMMY® related content, also hit the airwaves last January.

Quote of the Day

Tuesday, April 10, 2012
"Having been to Cuba three times on assignment, I think I know the perfect punishment for Ozzie. Send him there to manage Fidel Castro’s national baseball team, and let him experience life in a country where foreign travel requires government permission, and where $200 is considered a great monthly salary. Then we’ll find out whether he still loves Fidel."

-- Tom Weir, USA Today Sports writer, on Miami Marlin's manager Ozzie Guillen's comments praising Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, 4/10/12

Where Castro's "Law" Rules

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has released its 2011 Annual Report.

Here are some noteworthy observations regarding Cuba:

- The Commission observes with concern that Cuban law makes the death penalty the punishment for a significant number of crimes, especially crimes against the security of the State. The language of the law is broad and vague, and the death penalty can be applied even in the most summary proceeding that does not afford the minimum guarantees necessary for the accused to be able to exercise his right to an adequate legal defense.

- Capital punishment is the penalty for crimes against the security of the State; against peace and international law; against public health; against life and bodily integrity; against the normal conduct of sexual relations; against the normal development of childhood and adolescence; and against property rights. The crimes against the security of the State that carry the death penalty are the following: acts committed against the independence and territorial integrity of the State; those aimed at promoting war or armed action against the State; the provision of armed services against the homeland; providing aid and comfort to the enemy; espionage; insurrection; sedition; usurpation of political or military control; sabotage; terrorism; hostile acts against a foreign State; genocide; piracy; enrolling in the service of a foreign military force; apartheid and other acts against the security of the State. Other capital offenses include: the unlawful production, sale, use, trafficking, distribution and possession of drugs, narcotics, psychotropic substances and others having similar effects; murder; rape; violent pederasty; corruption of minors; robbery committed with violence or intimidation. The death penalty is also the punishment for a significant number of offenses criminalized in broad or vague language that include expressions like “dangerous state.”

- On the matter of the right to personal liberty, the IACHR has observed with concern that in Cuba, an offense criminalized under Article 72 of the Cuban Criminal Code, called “dangerous state”, defined as "the special proclivity of a person to commit crimes,” is still on the books and is still being enforced. Article 72 of that text provides that:

"Dangerous state is considered to be the special proclivity one finds in a person to commit crimes, demonstrated by the conduct observed in manifest contradiction with the norms of socialist morality."

- If a person is deemed dangerous because he or she engages in any of the behaviors mentioned above, security measures can be applied either before or after the criminal conduct. Article 78 of the Criminal Code provides that therapeutic or re-educational measures can be applied in the case of a person declared to be in a dangerous state, or the National Revolutionary Police may keep that person under surveillance. Under Article 79, one of the therapeutic measures is internment in care facilities, psychiatric institutions, or detoxification centers. The re-educational measures are applied in the case of supposedly anti-social persons and consist of internment in specialized work or study facilities; the person may also be ordered sent to a labor collective where his or her conduct will be supervised and rehabilitated. These security measures last a minimum of one year and a maximum of four.

- From the information received it would appear that during 2011, the Government allegedly continued what the IACHR had labeled a tactic of political repression in the form of systematic arrests for several hours or even several days, threats and other forms of harassment against opposition activists.

- The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression received information to the effect that temporary arbitrary detentions were still being made and could last hours or even a few days. The victims were persons identified as opponents of the regime and the idea was to prevent them from participating in political activities or to respond to demonstrations or the circulation of messages critical of the Government. According to the information received, another common practice is to stage acts of censure in front of the homes of political dissidents, as a way to harass them and prevent them from going out in public. These events, during which government slogans are yelled and patriotic anthems and revolutionary music are played full blast, tend to be accompanied by arrests and attacks on the members of the opposition. According to the reports received, Cuban dissident organizations reported between 2,668 and 2,784 arrests between January and September 2011, averaging at least 333 detentions a month in the first eight months of 2011. However, the dissident organizations reportedly saw a sizeable increase in arrests in September, with between 486 and 563 persons taken into custody. According to reports received, 80 persons were allegedly either convicted or tried on political grounds; 63 of these were reported to be in prison. The increase in arrests prompted a public communiqué from the British Embassy in Cuba, in which the diplomatic mission called upon the State to allow peaceful protests and expressed concern over the short-term detentions of political and human rights activists, and the aggressive treatment against opposition organizations like the Damas de Blanco [Ladies in White].

- In February 2011, the government announced that Cuba would be connecting to a submarine fiber optic cable installed in cooperation with Venezuela, which would increase internet data transmission speed by 3,000 times, and would increase the percentage of persons with access to the net, whereas just 3% of the population has access at the present time; it would also lower the cost of international calls. However, thus far there are no reports that the fiber optic cable has been made accessible to the general public; the high rates and usage and connection restrictions reported in previous years still persist.

- The IACHR received information on repeated physical assaults and verbal abuse against Cuba’s Ladies in White. It learned of a number of episodes that happened on the way to church, after attending mass, or when they were getting ready for one of their routine Sunday marches. Women in the group were allegedly beaten by women in uniform and the police, using stones and sticks. They were also temporarily detained and threatened with dogs.

- The IACHR has closely monitored the situation of independent trade union leaders in Cuba. In 2011 specifically during the hearing on the Situation of Labor Union Rights in the Americas, the IACHR received information on serious regulatory restrictions on the exercise of labor union rights and defense of labor rights. It was told that the right to strike is still not recognized under Cuban law, which means that exercise of that right is still prohibited in practice. The law in Cuba still does not recognize the possibility of forming independent labor unions, as all workers must belong to the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba, the only government-recognized union. It has a monopoly on representation of workers vis-à-vis government.

- The Committee expressed concern that crimes involving corruption of minors (the use of children in prostitution and pornography) and the sale of children, which are crimes under the Cuban Criminal Code, would not protect adolescents ages 16 to 18. On the contrary, rather than provide them with the reintegration, rehabilitation and recovery services to which they are entitled by virtue of their special status as children, the State informed the Committee that adolescents over the age of 16 who engage in antisocial behavior and practice prostitution may face “re-educational security measures (…), including confinement in a rehabilitation centre” because they pose a “manifest threat to society.”

More Record Breaking Repression

Last month (March 2012), the Castro regime conducted over 760 documented political arrests.

This shatters its previous 30-year record of 563 monthly political arrests, which was set on September 2011.

Moreover, it brings the three-month total of political arrests this year to 1,575.

That's in three months alone.

This must be the radical "change" that Raul's proponents keep talking about.

Miami Marlins Add Insult to Injury

The Miami Marlins just announced that they have suspended manager Ozzie Guillen for 5 games.

Guillen recently told Time Magazine, "I love Fidel Castro!"

Why the double standard?

As we previously posted, former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was rightly suspended for two seasons (1996-1998) for much less adulatory remarks regarding Adolf Hitler.

Why is the respect and sensitivity of Cuban-Americans worth less?

After all, your club is based in Little Havana.

Guillen Should Be Suspended

Monday, April 9, 2012
Former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was suspended from baseball in 1996 and forced to sell the club in 1999 after praising Adolf Hitler.

Schott said during a 1996 television interview that Hitler was "good at the beginning but then went too far."

After talks with baseball officials, Schott apologized for her Hitler comments, but was still suspended.

This week, Miami Marlin's manager Ozzie Guillen told Time magazine, "I love Fidel Castro."

Guillen has since apologized, but like Schott, he should also be suspended.

He should be suspended out of respect for the thousands murdered by Castro's cruel dictatorship, its millions in exile and all of the Cuban players that have literally risked their lives to play in freedom.

Quantifying Cuba's Self-Employment

From The Economist to The Los Angeles Times, there's an apparent fascination with the Castro regime's self-employment licenses.

Perhaps it's because it fits into the media's narrative of Raul Castro as a "reformer."

However, as we've noted before, these self-employment licenses are hardly "new."

They are recycled from similar policies during the 1990's aimed at saving the dictatorship from economic collapse.

So just how extensive are today's self-employment licenses, as compared to the 1990s?

Let's quantify it.

During their peak in 1996, there were 209,606 licenses granted by the Castro regime.

Meanwhile, last week, the Castro regime announced it had now granted 371,200 licenses.

That's a net gain of 161,594 licenses in 16 years.

(Remember that these figures are always subject to the regime's whims and manipulations).

Calculate population growth during the last 16 years -- as stagnant as it is due to young people fleeing the island -- and the growth in licenses is essentially negligible.

That's not real change by any realm.

Today on "From Washington al Mundo"

Tune in today to "From Washington al Mundo" for a conversation with Tutu Alicante of EG Justice, who will discuss the brutal repression and corruption of Teodoro Obiang's petro-dictatorship in Equatorial Guinea.

Equatorial Guinea is the only territory in mainland Africa with Spanish as the official language.

Also, White House veterans Dan Garza and Jose Mallea will discuss the work of The Libre Initiative, a new non-profit that promotes economic freedom and fiscal responsibility. They'll be previewing some new polling data.

Listen to "From Washington al Mundo" live today on Sirus-XM's Cristina Radio (Channel 146) from 4-5 p.m. (EST) and rebroadcast on Tuesday from 3-4 p.m. (EST).

WSJ: Dissidents Deserved Papal Hearing

Sunday, April 8, 2012
From The Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board:

Cuba After Benedict

Dissidents who asked to meet with the Pope are now being arrested.

Pope Benedict XVI's recent trip to Cuba was described by the Vatican as way to spread the gospel to a nation captured by an atheist state. And surely it was the Pope's purpose to inspire as many Cubans as possible. The irony of the Pope's visit is that it has provoked a crackdown on dissent.

Agence France Press reports that in the last week at least 43 dissidents in the eastern province of Santiago, one of the stops during the Pope's three-day Cuban sojourn, have been detained by the police. They include former political prisoner José Daniel Ferrer and his wife Belkis Cantillo.

Mr. Ferrer was one of the 75 arrested in Cuba's "Black Spring" in 2003, and he was among 12 who refused to accept exile as a condition of release in 2011. He is the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba. Ms. Cantillo is among 10 members of the Ladies in White—Catholic mothers, wives and sisters of political prisoners—who were arrested in the sweep.

The Ladies in White had lobbied the Vatican through the papal nuncio in Havana for a meeting with the Pope. Cuba's Jaime Cardinal Ortega told them that the Holy See's schedule was too tight. This request was widely publicized before the visit. So it was hard not to miss the contrast of the Pope's inevitable meetings with the Castro brothers, Raúl and Fidel, and even with the ailing Venezuelan strongman, Hugo Chávez, in the country for medical treatment.

The unhappy truth is Benedict would have had to go into the Cuban jails to see many of the island's Christian dissidents. Local activists provided the names of almost 300 who were detained in the week before the Pope arrived and held so that they couldn't attend the papal Masses in Santiago and Havana.

Thirty-eight-year-old Andres Carrión Alvarez, who did make it to the papal Mass in Santiago and chose the moment to shout "down with Communism" in front of the cameras, was beaten and led off by state security. He has not been heard from since.

Some of those arrested ahead of the Pope's visit have been released, including Ms. Cantillo. Others, like Sonia Garro, are in lock-down. Ms. Garro. a particularly courageous member of the Ladies in White who had her nose broken by Castro mobs last year, was taken away by Cuban security from her home on March 18. She has since been transferred to the Guatao women's prison in Havana and is being charged with "disrespect." She could get a sentence of up to four years.

Fairly or not, her fate and that of many other Cuban dissidents caught up in this post-papal crackdown will always be linked to the visit of Benedict XVI. They deserved a hearing while he was there.

Using Castro's Same Rhetoric

Excerpt by famed Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez in Diario de Cuba:

[A]t one moment, he [Carlos Saladrigas] explained that exiled Cubans can be categorized as "historic" and "hysterical" depending on the level of passion and intolerance of their position. I confess that it sounded totally contrary to the spirit of his speech. I don't have, nor will I have the vital experience Saladrigas has accumulated during decades of living and interacting with the Cuban diaspora, but at that moment what came to my mind was the slander and insults received by those of us who are unsatisfied with our own country.

The play on words -- because in the end that's all it is, a play on words -- "historic" and "hysterical" had sadly already been made popular coming from the mouth of Carlos Aldana. This other "Carlos" was director of the Department for Revolutionary Orientation (DOR) and was in fact considered as a possible replacement for Fidel Castro. Right around the time of the so-called Letter of the 10, signed by various Cuban intellectuals, Aldana did as he pleased from his seat as the controller of culture and state journalism. Someone asked him at the time about poet Maria Elena Cruz Varela and the severity of her imprisonment simply for endorsing that protest. With a smile that comes from power, it is said that Aldana affirmed that "they may say that she is a historic poet, but in reality she is just a hysterical woman."

Twenty years later the same play on words resonated through the Felix Varela cathedral. I had no other choice but to do the sign of the cross.

Translation by Alberto de la Cruz.

What Would Jesus Have Done?

By Vanessa Lopez in The Miami Herald:

On the pope’s trip to Cuba... What would Jesus have done?

It is a simple question that Catholics are taught to ask themselves as children: What would Jesus do?

Perhaps no better metric exists by which to measure the actions of the current Vicar of Jesus Christ — Pope Benedict XVI. The Cuban-American community spent the past month anxiously awaiting Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival in Cuba. Would He meet with Las Damas de Blanco, the Ladies in White, one of the Catholic Church’s most faithful groups on the Island?

Would he speak to the Cuban people’s need for freedom and the Cuban government’s many abuses?

Would he be the breath of fresh air for a downtrodden, desperate, and anguished population?

Would he defend the oppressed from their oppressors or would he simply try to pragmatically “create space” for the Catholic Church?

As a Catholic and a Cuban American longing for the freedom of the Cuban people, the hope that I had in the church’s role as a guiding institution in Cuba’s transition has been diminished, if not extinguished. During the Pope’s visit to Cuba, Benedict XVI decided to secure a minimal space for the church rather than defend Cuba’s innocents and its most loyal followers against the abuses they endure daily. Whether this is ultimately in the church’s long-term benefit is debatable.

A legitimate question remains: Is the pope’s decision one that Christ would have made?

The pope broke from the tradition of both Christ and the Church of defending the defenseless in order to meet its short-term goals of “securing space.” What would Jesus have done in a similar situation? The answer seems readily available in the Gospels.

For example, In John 8, Jesus is at the temple and the Pharisees bring before him an adulteress, saying by Moses’ Law, she should be stoned. Facing a crowd ready to condemn the woman, Jesus protected her. He let the multitude walk away, choosing to protect the meek woman over lowering his principles to placate the masses and win more disciples.

Pope Benedict XVI did just the opposite. During the Mass in Santiago, when a man slid past security and yelled for freedom and was beaten before the crowd and the cameras, not the pope, not the clergymen, not the pilgrims from the U.S., not one individual stood by this man to protect him from the mobs that condemned him for violating the revolution’s laws.

In the same way, would Jesus have chosen to ignore the Damas de Blanco? Would anyone suggest that Christ the King would bow to the will of a murderous dictatorship and ignore his most faithful on the island — the constantly harassed, beaten, and detained who sing his praise most high? Christ valued human dignity over “creating space.” At the end of John 8:59, the Pharisees are so angered by his teachings that they attempt to stone him and he must flee.

Jesus did not appease. He did not collaborate. He spoke the truth plainly.

Pope Benedict XVI made a few vague and platitudinous references couched in appeasement about freedom and little more.

Christ would likely have met with Cuba’s leadership, as did the pope. After all, Christ met with the Pharisees and tried to show them the way. But Christ would not have ignored and excluded the cries of the abused. Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.” The pope ignored Cuba’s most overburdened and abused.

Would Christ have acted pragmatically, choosing to grow the church, or would Christ have defended the defenseless?

During this Holy Season, we are reminded that Christ did not rub elbows with Rome. He did not say what the powerful and influential wanted to hear. He spoke the truth and fought for the meek, ultimately being crucified rather than parse words. In choosing pragmatism, did Joseph Ratzinger ask that simple question – what would Jesus do?

Vanessa Lopez is a research associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami.

Democracy Should Remain Regional Priority

An excerpt from last week's remarks by U.S. Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee for the Western Hemisphere, to the Organization of American States (OAS):

"The Need For Greater Hemispheric Unity on Shared Hemispheric Goals and the Importance of the OAS"

[O]n support of democracy, there is regional lack of unity.

Yet, now that we have seen how our region can unite behind a shared purpose as we have in Haiti, there are so many other areas where such a common hemispheric effort could serve all of our peoples.

I think the best place to start is by renewing our commitment to one of the most important documents which not only the Hemisphere, but frankly the world, has ever seen: The Inter- American Democratic Charter.

Article 1 of the Charter puts it clearly and succinctly: "The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it."

I think it says it all right there.

Our people have the right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.

The good news is that today our region, for the most part, is a bastion of democracies.

From the bottom of Chile to the top of Canada, this hemisphere has, for the most part, lived the words of our democratic charter.

We have established democracies for our peoples, and our governments have defended the system.

Yet, I think we all know that there have been countries where the commitment to democracy has been non-existent.

Of course, Cuba comes to mind in this regard.

It remains a dictatorship, rejecting the basic principle of democracy to which the hemisphere has committed itself.

But, it is those times when the second part of Article 1, our governments' obligation to promote and defend democracy, becomes most important.

Some have read this as merely a domestic obligation, where each government must ensure its own democracy but the other nations can look away.

I don't agree.

I think this Charter and the Democratic principles it embodies require the active support of states in the region.

When a country is clamping down on its free press or is unfairly tilting the scales in its elections, I think we should all speak out.

Unfortunately, in the instances where we have seen democratic backsliding, too often countries of our region have remained silent.

Choosing not to offend a leader who has clamped down on democratic rights has all too frequently become the norm, rather than the exception.

I believe this must change.