Senate Passed Resolution Honoring Bishop Román

Saturday, April 28, 2012
This week, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution (S. Res. 443) presented by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) honoring Bishop Agustín Román:

S.RES.443

112th CONGRESS

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

RESOLUTION


Honoring the life and legacy of Auxiliary Bishop Agustín Román.

Whereas Agustín Román was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Miami, Florida in 1979, becoming the first Cuban to be appointed bishop in the United States;

Whereas Agustín Román was expelled from Cuba in 1961 by Fidel Castro’s regime along with many other Roman Catholic priests;

Whereas Agustín Román ministered in Chile for four years before coming to Miami, Florida in 1966, where he quickly became a spiritual leader and advocate for Miami’s Cuban community, as well as for many other immigrants communities including Haitian refugees;

Whereas Agustín Román was fluent in Latin, English, French, and Spanish, and served on the U.S. Bishops' Committee for Hispanic Affairs, worked as a hospital chaplain, and became episcopal vicar for the Spanish-speaking people of the Archdiocese;

Whereas Agustín Román was the son of humble Cuban peasants, which influenced the Bishop’s commitment to humility, tenacity, and unceasing devotion to his ministry in South Florida;

Whereas Agustín Román was instrumental in the construction of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity on Biscayne Bay, which serves as a monument to Cuba’s patron saint, the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year;

Whereas in 1980 Agustín Román served as a mediator during the Mariel boatlift incident, helping more than 100,000 Cubans flee the island and safely resettle in the United States;

Whereas Agustín Román helped negotiate a peaceful resolution to the 1987 riots of Mariel prisoner uprisings in federal prisons, earning him national recognition for his compassion, gentility, and humble spirit;

Whereas after his retirement at the age of 75, Agustín Román remained active at the Shrine, greeting visitors and responding to letters from fellow Cuban exiles;

Whereas Agustín Román passed away on Wednesday, April 11, 2012:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate--

(1) recognizes and honors the life of Agustín Román;

(2) recognizes and honors the spiritual leadership of Agustín Román for his
dedication to freedom and faith;

(3) offers heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Agustín Román; and

(4) in memory of Agustín Román, calls on the United States to continue policies that promote respect for the fundamental principles of religious freedom, democracy, and human rights in Cuba, in a manner consistent with the aspirations of the people of Cuba.

From Our Inbox

Re: A Stark Contrast

Unfortunately, the statement below elides John Paul II’s obsequious visit to Castro’s Cuba in January 1998. At that time, the pope made only scant and peripheral mention of “liberty,” never in a frontal way, and he made no effort to meet with opposition leaders, etc. He did, after all, appoint the ridiculous Jaime Ortega cardinal. When a handful of brave opponents of the regime began chanting “Libertad” at the papal mass in Havana, it was the John Paul II who shut them up prattling about freedom being found only in Christ, as if their fundamental rights could only be articulated in the context of theology. Eleven years earlier in 1987, when John Paul II visited Miami, a city whose Catholic congregation was over 90% Cuban and Cuban-American, he broached no subject concerning Cuba, the plight of divided families, the moral scars of totalitarianism—nothing, as if the plight of communism and exile had nothing to do with the sea of Cuban flags waving all around him. He even resisted speaking in Spanish to his congregation. In truth, Benedict XVI’s behavior in Cuba was no more and no less reprehensible than his predecessor’s. Neither pope has acted conscionably on the subject of Cuba. There is no way around it: the Catholic Church has been for over half a century an enthusiastic collaborator with tyranny in Cuba.

– Ricardo Pau-Llosa

Re: Cardinal Ortega Chooses Path of Pius XII

Dear Mr. Claver-Carone:

Your comparison of Jaime Cardinal Ortega to Pope Pius XII is as flawed and contradictory as any that could be conceived. If it is meant, as it obviously is, to expose Ortega's role as a shill for the Castro regime, then it fails miserably on a number of counts, as would any comparison that equates the innocent with the guilty and truth with propaganda (and Communist propaganda, at that).

Pius XII, who detested Naziism and saved more Jewish lives during the Holocaust than any European leader except Franco, was the object of a posthumous campaign of defamation orquestrated by the Stasi, the centerpiece of which was Bertolt Brecht's agitprop play "The Deputy." Your comparison of Pius XII to Ortega implicitly endorses the Communist canard that the pope was a "Nazi collaborator" in order to indict Ortega for being a Communist collaborator. This is even more inexcusable since Pius XII was an enemy of Communism both personally and as supreme pontiff. It is for that reason that he was targeted for character assassination by Stalinists. In this they proved far more successful than in their attempt to assassinate physically the other great anti-Communist pope.

You know as well as I that Cardinal Ortega's betrayal of his faith and his country has nothing to do with Pius XII, or Catholicism or even Communism itself. His pedophilia, confirmed by Reinaldo Arenas and others, caused him to be blackmailed by the Castro regime since his release from the UMAP concentration camp in 1965. The Vatican, which knows his predicament, does nothing that would exacerbate it. His likely successor, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y García-Menocal, vicar-general of the Havana Archdiocese, is an even worse pederast and as "compromised" as Ortega.

To whom, then, should you compare the execrable Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino? To John Paul II's handpicked successor as Archbishop of Krakow, who was compelled to resign when it was revealed that he had been an informant for State Security. Or compare Ortega to the 12 (of 15) Bulgarian Catholic bishops who were exposed two weeks ago as erstwhile Communist agents. They are Ortega's moral (immoral?) peers, not Pius XII.

I have read and admired your writings in the past. I hope to continue doing so.

With kind regards,

Manuel A. Tellechea

In My Humble Opinion, Pt. 36

Friday, April 27, 2012
In The Miami Herald:

Gov. Rick Scott said on Friday that he intends to sign contentious legislation that would ban the state and local governments from hiring companies with business ties to Cuba and Syria [...]

“Kudos to the governor; he put Florida taxpayers over foreign interests,” said Mauricio Claver-Carone, executive director of the Washington-based U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee that pushed for the legislation. “He did the right thing.”

Has the Obama Administration Lost Its Mind?

This week, President Obama gave a speech at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., in which he stressed that human rights violators must be held accountable.

Apparently, Cuba is the exception.

The State Department has granted a visa to a top Castro regime official, Josefina Vidal, who was unofficially expelled (along with her husband) from the U.S. for espionage activities in 2003.

Among Vidal's "skills," she's an expert at trying to justify the arbitrary arrest of dissidents and even of an American hostage, Alan Gross.

But that didn't stop the Obama Administration from granting her a visa to participate in a meeting of pro-Castro groups this weekend at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C.

Would it give the Syrian Information Minister a visa to come meet with sympathizers in the U.S.?

Of course not.

Yet, for three years, the Obama Administration has granted the Castro regime concession after concession -- and what do the Cuban people have to show for it?

The worst repression in four decades and an American hostage rotting away in a Cuban prison.

When will it be enough?


BREAKING: Governor Scott to Sign H.B. 959

Florida Governor Rick Scott has just announced on Radio Mambi that he will be signing H.R. 959 this upcoming Tuesday.

This legislation, which nearly unanimously passed the Florida legislature, prohibits companies that partner with the brutal Castro and Assad dictatorships from contracting with the state's public entities.

Kudos to Governor Scott for putting Florida's taxpayers before foreign interests.

Nine New Prisoners of Conscience

Meet Castro's nine newest prisoners of conscience.

Please raise your voices for their freedom.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, re-arrested on April 2nd. Ferrer was one of the prisoners of the "Black Spring" of 2003. He was released on parole last year after serving 8-years of a 25-year sentence.

Eider Frometa Allen, handed a 9-month sentence in March for "disobedience."

Sonia Garro Alfonso, (pictured below) a member of the Ladies in White. She's been in prison since March 18 with no formal charges filed.

Dany Lopez de Moya, handed an 18-month sentence on April 19th for "disrespect" and "resistance."

Niurka Luque Alvarez, a member of the Ladies in White. She's been in prison since March 17 with no formal charges filed.

Ramon Alejandro Munoz Gonzalez, imprisoned since March 18th with no formal charges filed. (He is the husband of Sonia Garro.)

Bismarck Mustelier Galan, in prison since April 1st with no formal charges filed.

Niorvis Rivera Guerra, in prison since March 2nd for "public disorder."

Rogelio Tavio Lopez, in prison since March 2nd for "public disorder."

A Letter From Shushkevich

Thursday, April 26, 2012
A humbling letter with an important message:

Dear Mr. Claver-Carone,

On behalf of the democratic forces of Belarus, my wife Irina and I would like to thank you not only for your valuable time, but especially for your ongoing efforts to bring democracy back to your ancestral land of Cuba, and give a voice to the rest of us attempting the same in our own long-suffering countries.

As you know, Belarus was once a new and struggling, but nonetheless free country. We achieved the total, unilateral and unconditional surrender of our Soviet nuclear arsenal (81 strategic warheads); had excellent relations with all nations, including Russia and the United States; full press, assembly and religious freedoms; and potential for development.

Those of us who strive daily to return to core European values are confident that the days of the current regime are numbered. We are indebted to our friends in the Western democracies who share this faith, and act to accelerate the inevitable and prepare Belarus for a new chance.

Winston Churchill once quipped that “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.”

I disagree. As we discussed, the United States of America has been steadfast and unwavering since 1996 in “calling a spade a spade.” Several waves of sanctions did fulfill their mission of targeting the Lukashenka regime and its allies. The European Union, after a long bout of appeasement, is coming around to the American position and likewise applying sanctions on the regime while carefully avoiding hurting the people. Especially heartening is a contact core group formed by Poland, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Germany, among others.

The Belarus Democracy Act of 2004 and then 2011 was an important step. To make this Law a reality, some steps need to be elaborated further. Namely:

1) Financing Belsat television as directly as possible. I mentioned while in Washington that Belsat is a “godsend.” Even if it reaches only 15% of television viewers for now, it is the most popular independent broadcaster, according to U.S.- and EU- sponsored surveys. As the regime controls most mass media, Belsat provides what my friend the late Václav Havel called “speaking the truth to power.” Though initiator of the project, Poland lacks the funds to scale up Belsat to the next logical level of mass appeal and distribution. Being in media yourself, I don't need to convince you of the worthiness of the likes of Radio Martí, TV Martí, Radio República and your "From Washington al Mundo" show in hammering away at the wall of lies imposed by dictatorships.

2) Pressure Russia directly on Belarus. Though this is difficult for Congress to achieve, the U.S. administration would be remiss not to notice the lifeline to the Lukashenka regime runs through Moscow. Though Lukashenka has been crafty playing both Moscow and the West against each other, U.S. and EU policy could narrow the margin of maneuver for the regime by putting Belarusian democracy also on the list of priorities with the Kremlin. Neither our country nor our democratic forces are nor have been antagonistic to Russia.

3) Pressing the International Ice Hockey Federation to move its 2014 World Championship from Minsk to a free country. Because Lukashenka and his regime have been touting this as a personal victory, and because symbolism matters in politics, the U.S. has done a great service by reminding both the IIHF and its sponsors that sport should not be a source of propaganda by a regime desperate for legitimacy.

4) Making it easier for young Belarusians to travel to the U.S. and EU. While Russia has no visa control for Belarusians, the onerous and expensive (one-fourth the average monthly income) procedures to obtain a visa sends the signal the West is not serious about eventually including Belarus into its family of nations.

These steps that simultaneously strengthen civil society while weakening the regime’s grip will accelerate our liberation and make it more durable this time.

Once again, please accept my heartfelt gratitude for your solidarity with a free Belarus, and I look forward to one day soon celebrating with you in Minsk and Havana the peaceful end of these dictatorships.

Dr. Stanislau Shushkevich
Truman-Reagan Award Recipient, 2012
Social-Democratic Assembly Party
Head of State of Belarus, 1991-1994

Tweet From Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet

Translation: How can there be reconciliation with a dictatorship! He who violates basic human rights does not love his fellow man and has contempt for God.


How Can a "Holy Man" Be So Vile?

This week, Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega presented a conference at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Upon being asked about the 12 dissidents that sought sanctuary in a Cuban Church, trying to call attention to the human rights violations on the island, Cardinal Ortega adopted the same vile language and defamations of the Castro regime saying:

"I'm sorry to say, but they were a group of delinquents, one was an ex-prisoner that was returned to Cuba, excludables sent to Cuba... they were people without any level of culture, some with psychological problems."

Delinquents? Excludables? People without any level of culture?

Then, the Cardinal has the audacity to lecture us about "reconciliation."

Fortunately, from Havana, Ladies in White leader Berta Soler appropriately responded to the Cardinal's insults:

"If the Cardinal followed the Social Doctrine of the Church, the first thing he should have done was to visit those men, who were not delinquents, and pray with them. Not ask that they be forcibly removed."

It's time for the Vatican to accept Ortega's retirement.

Must-Read: Drinking Castro's Elixir

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
A timely and important observation by Antonio Rodiles, director of the Cuban civil society project Estado de Sats:

The [Castro] government only hopes -- as an immediate and practical solution -- that the U.S. will eliminate its economic and trade restrictions, so that it can receive substantial investments in the short-term. However, due to failed attempts to achieve unilateral concessions from the U.S. government, the powers-that-be have now launched a full-scale campaign on all fronts to pressure for a relaxation of economic sanctions and a future lifting of the embargo.

The precarious idea of Raul Castro is to have communists, Catholics and docile exiles form an offensive pact, in order to de-legitimize the growing demand of Cuban civil society for a democratic transition. Academic, artistic, and religious exchanges; pressure in international fora; the activism of supporters and militants; and economic baiting, will be the priorities. The last Summit of the Americas is an example of how the intense political lobbying is already brewing.

Within this strategy, scholars, artists and intellectuals, both on the island and in exile, have drunk from a Castro elixir that keeps them spellbound inside the totalitarian bubble. Moreover, the Catholic Church's hierarchy is seen as enthusiastically participating in the preparation of the brew for such addicts -- including some of the innocent souls that it always prefers -- in open collaboration with the government. As such, the Church lobbies for the support, solidarity and financing of Raulismo under the false pretense of reconciliation among Cubans.

Castro's Fear of Jose Daniel Ferrer

By Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez in The Huffington Post:

José Daniel Ferrer, Former Cuban Black Spring Prisoner, on Hunger Strike After New Arrest

I knew they would go after him. When I spoke with José Daniel Ferrer for the first time, by phone, I immediately noticed his exceptionality. Shortly after, we talked around the table in our house and this impression was further confirmed. While outside night was coming on, the man from Palmarito de Cauto told us of the years he spent in prison, from the Black Spring of 2003 to mid-2011. The beatings, the denouncing, the inmates who respectfully called him "the politician" and the guards who tried to crush him by force. We spent hours listening to those stories, at times of horror and at others of true miracles. Like when he managed to hide a small radio, his most precious possession, from the searches until he himself smashed it against the floor, seconds before a guard confiscated it.

José Daniel, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), is today State Security's main headache in the east of the country. He occupies that place -- admirable but dangerous -- in part because his every word projects honesty and determination. Good-natured, young, conciliatory, he has managed to revive a dissident movement languishing between repression and the exile of some of its members. His drawing power, and the respect many have for him, comes also from his perseverance and, in particular, from the fact that he is quicker to embrace than to distrust. He has become a human bridge between several citizen projects and, right now, that makes him a sharp stone in the Cuban government's shoe.

For 23 days this tireless Santiaguan has been detained. He can no longer traverse the steep roads connecting the towns of his region, nor respond to interviews, nor send messages via Twitter from his cell phone. Last Monday he declared a hunger strike in the police station where they are keeping him incommunicado. His wife, Belkis Cantillo, still has no information about how much longer he will be under arrest, or even if they plan to file legal charges. Some of us, his friends, have a bad feeling. José Daniel Ferrer has come to have an ability to call people together that frightens the Cuban authorities and they will punish him harshly for that. They fear him because he could give Santiago de Cuba's slogan, "Heroic City," a new meaning in these times.

Repsol Near Junk Status

Over a week ago, we noted how the slow pace of Repsol's offshore drilling partnership with the Castro regime had become a very expensive proposition.

Don't forget that the Scarabeo 9 rig being used to drill costs approximately $500,000 a day to operate.

Since then, Repsol's $10+ billion stake in Argentina's YPF has been expropriated, its shares have tumbled by more than 17 per cent and Standard and Poors downgraded the company's stock to one step above junk.

Things are not getting better for Repsol (or Castro).

Today on "From Washington al Mundo"

Tune in today to "From Washington al Mundo" for a conversation with renowned Venezuelan banker-turned-political prisoner Eligio Cedeño. Now in exile, Cedeño is the owner of the SOiTV network and one of Hugo Chavez's most prominent critics.

Then, Dr. Khataza Gondwe, Sub-Saharan Africa team leader for the U.K.'s Christian Solidarity Worldwide will discuss the brutal dictatorship in Eritrea and the plight of its refugees.

"From Washington al Mundo" is broadcast live on Sirius-XM's Cristina Radio (Channel 146) from 4-5 p.m. (EST) and rebroadcast on Friday from 4-5 p.m. (EST).

Norwegian Killer Hearts Castro

During his testimony in a Norwegian court, Anders Behring Breivik, the extremist that murdered 77 innocent people last July, tried to justify his "nationalist militant" actions by arguing:

"We have the same legitimacy as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara has when they tried to take power in Cuba from a sovereign government."

Moreover, on page 1,164 of Breivik's so-called manifesto, he quotes Fidel Castro as stating that “I began the revolution with 82 men. If I had to do it again, I would do it with 10 or 15 individuals with absolute faith. It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and a plan of action.”

Scary stuff.

Giving Business a Bad Name

Tuesday, April 24, 2012
A coalition of U.S. business groups have sent a letter to President Obama urging him to ease sanctions towards Burma.

The letter hypocritically applauds pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and seeks to use her recent parliamentary victory as an "excuse" for lifting sanctions.

We say hypocritically, for these business groups were making the very same pleas during the darkest days of Suu Kyi's house arrest.

But here's the line that blew us away:

"As we have so often seen, the presence of U.S. businesses and foreign investment inevitably helps lead to an improved human rights environment."

Really? Where?

In China and Vietnam?

Needless to say, they did not provide examples.

Not coincidentally, some of these same groups are seeking to pressure Florida Governor Rick Scott to veto HB 959, which would prohibit state public contracts with foreign companies that collude with the Cuban and Syrian dictatorships.

Time to have some shame.

U.N. Watch: L.A. Times is Wrong on Cuba

Letter to the Editor of the The Los Angeles Times:

L.A. Times is Wrong on Cuba Engagement

To the Editor:

In criticizing the United States for excluding Cuba from the Summit of the Americas, you argued that "engagement, not isolation, is the best way to encourage change." Cuba's record in other international forums demonstrates the opposite.

In 2006, the United Nations Human Rights Council elected Cuba as a member and then dropped Havana from its watch list. In return for this engagement, Cuba has vehemently opposed efforts to scrutinize abuses by China, Iran, Sudan, Syria and other repressive regimes. Cuba takes a leading role in sponsoring resolutions that justify terrorism and advocate cultural relativism instead of universal human rights.

Should Raul Castro's communist government really be given another forum to subvert?

Hillel C. Neuer
Geneva

The writer is executive director of U.N. Watch.

Obama's Michael Moore Pick for World Bank

Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama selected Korean-American health expert Jim Yong Kim as the World Bank's new President.

Dr. Kim, a surprise pick for the job, was eventually confirmed last week by the World Bank's executive board in a vote, but it was the first time the job was contested.

Frankly, there's plenty of reason to be skeptical of Dr. Kim's selection -- for his past writings are more fitting of a Michael Moore documentary, than of a World Bank President.

For example:

The studies in this book present evidence that the quest for growth in GDP and corporate profits has in fact worsened the lives of millions of women and men.”

Even where neoliberal policy measures have succeeded in stimulating economic growth, growth’s benefits have not gone to those living in 'dire poverty,' one-fourth of the world’s population.”

Using Cuba as an example, Chapter Thirteen makes the case that when leaders prioritize social equity and the fundamental right of all citizens to health care, even economically strapped governments can achieve improved and more equitable health outcomes.”

Source: Jim Yong Kim, Joyce V. Millen, Alec Irwin, and John Gershman, Editors, Dying for Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor, Common Courage Press: Monroe, Maine, 2000.

Of course, if you're interested in the reality of Cuba's health care system, click here.

On Capitol Hill: Press Freedom Conference

Monday, April 23, 2012
PRESS UNDER ATTACK

How Latin American Regimes attempt to destroy the independent press

Thursday, April 26, 2012, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
United States Capitol, Rayburn House Office Building Room 2172
Washington, DC

RSVP here.

CONFIRMED SPEAKERS

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) – Chairwoman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, US House of Representatives

Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) – Chairman, Sub Committee on Western Hemisphere, Committee on Foreign Affairs

Eliot Engel (D-NY) - Ranking Member, Sub Committee on Western Hemisphere, Committee on Foreign Affairs

Osvaldo Hurtado – Former President of Ecuador (1981-1984)

Alberto Padilla – Former Host of CNN en Español, Editor www.economiayfinanzas.net

Carlos Alberto Montaner – Analyst CNNE, Director de Firmas Press

Amb. Otto Reich – Former US Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere

Mauricio Claver-Carone – Editor of CapitolHillCubans.com, host of Cristina Radio’s “From Washington al Mundo”

Ronald Mendez Alpire – Journalist & writer, Bolivia

Andres Paez – Member of the National Assembly, Ecuador

Enrique Herrería – Member of the National Assembly, Ecuador

Guillermo Lousteau – President, Inter American Institute for Democracy

Guillermo Antonio Adames Pasco – President of Omega Stereo Radio, Panamá

Fernan Molinos – Sub Director and Executive Editor, Diario La Prensa, Panamá

Oscar Silveira – Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo de las Telecomunicaciones y el Acceso a la Sociedad de la Información de América Latina

ORGANIZED BY:

The Not So "Self-Employed" Workers

The Castro regime has announced that its "self-employed" workers will be required to march -- along with state workers -- in the annual May Day parade.

These are the same "self-employed" workers that the media misrepresents as private business owners, when in fact they are simply lessees of the Castro regime -- with no ownership rights whatsoever.

Now, they are being required to march with the Castro regime's official labor union, the Conference of Cuban Workers (Conferencia de Trabajadores Cubanos, CTC).

(Remember that independent labor unions are strictly illegal and repressed in Cuba.)

The Castro regime has also revealed that of its current 300,000 "self-employed" workers, 235,000 of them did not previously belong to the CTC.

Thus, the state's official labor union has now increased its ranks thanks to non-state workers.

Confused yet?


Today on "From Washington al Mundo"

Tune in today to "From Washington al Mundo" for a conversation with U.S. Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. Chairman Mack led the U.S. Congressional delegation to last week's Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.

Then, Hispanic Magazine CEO Sam Verdeja, Sun-Sentinel columnist Guillermo Martinez and former Miami Herald executive Cesar Pizarro discuss their new book, "Cubans: An Epic Journey."

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).

Will Governor Scott Side With FL Taxpayers?

Sunday, April 22, 2012
The Miami Herald has published a one-sided article voicing the exaggerations of foreign companies (and their governments) that want to continue doing business with the brutal regimes of Raul Castro and Bashar al-Assad, while simultaneously reaping profits from Florida's taxpayers.

The article even claims that it's "unclear how broadly the law will apply."

What's so "unclear"?

It's the exact same bill that Florida Governor Rick Scott signed last year regarding Iran and Sudan.

If a foreign company has investments of over $1 million with the Castro and Assad regimes, it cannot contract with Florida's public entities (funded solely by taxpayers).

It doesn't ban them from doing business in Florida, affect private business activities, tourism, banks or any of the other allegations in the article.

Perhaps it should -- for partnering with criminal dictatorships is reprehensible.

But this bill is only about how Florida taxpayer money is apportioned by public entities.

That's it.

(Also, for the umpteenth time, this bill in consistent with federal law and similar to other state laws covering all four state-sponsor of terrorism nations -- Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.)

So the question remains:

Will Governor Scott side with foreign companies or with his constituents -- Florida's taxpayers -- who have spoken loud and clear about how they do not want their money spent?

After all, if these foreign companies want to keep receiving billions in taxpayer-funded projects, the solution is very simple:

Stop colluding with Castro and Assad.

According to The Miami Herald:

Florida’s top two foreign trading partners and the Florida Chamber of Commerce are sounding alarms about a new state law banning governments from hiring companies with business ties to Cuba.

The warnings from economic powerhouses Canada and Brazil pit mighty business interests against the Miami-Dade lawmakers who authored the bill and the majority of legislators who voted for it, placing Florida’s pro-business governor in a political bind.


Fleeing Film Actors Flee Themselves

A fitting ending (and tongue twister).

In Huffington Post:

The Tribeca Film Festival premiere of "Una Noche," a film about three Cuban teens trying to escape the Communist island nation for a better life in the U.S., was marred by the disappearance of two of the film's lead stars -- who went missing as soon as their plane from Cuba touched down in Miami.

Anailin de la Rua de la Torre and Javier Nunez Florian, the 20-year-old Cuban-born actors, were flown from Cuba to the United States on Wednesday and were supposed to make their way to New York on Friday in order to promote the film. But instead, the pair stayed in Miami, according to 20-year-old Dariel Arrechada, the third star of the film who traveled with them.

Quote of the Week

"I did nothing legally or morally wrong. I have no guilty conscience."

-- Alan Gross, an American development worker being held hostage by the Castro regime for helping Cuba's Jewish community connect to the Internet, NBC News, 4/20/12

Fidel's Team of Assassins

By former CIA National Intelligence Officer Brian Latell in The Miami Herald:

Assassination operations had always been Fidel’s personal bailiwick. None could be conducted that he did not authorize and help plan. The means for carrying out this most sinister of secret Cuban capabilities were always decentralized and rigidly compartmentalized. It was not scruples that concerned Fidel but the need for airtight deniability.

The Cubans used DGI-controlled illegals, surrogates of other nationalities, as executioners. They carried out some of the most sensitive missions overseas, especially against high-visibility, well-protected targets. Death squads drawn from Latin American terrorist and revolutionary groups beholden to Cuba could be relied on, deniability compounded by degrees of separation. Carefully screened, the foreign assassins were trained at secret Cuban bases, learning to kill in gangland-style hits, elaborately orchestrated paramilitary operations, commando strikes and sly poisonings.

In the most sensitive operations, when even greater deniability was desired, Fidel did rely on carefully screened Cubans. In the 1970s and 1980s, according to Aspillaga, a super-secret four-man squad of assassins reported exclusively to Castro. In our meetings, Aspillaga described two of Fidel’s secret assassins. One he knew in the 1980s was nicknamed "El Chiquitico," the Little One. Another was familiar to him only as "El Chamaco," the Kid. In one of our recorded interviews, Aspillaga said of Fidel, "When he chooses someone, he takes his personality and dominates you... he controls you mentally. That’s what he did to those four assassins." They had been molded and brainwashed, Aspillaga believed, into blindly loyal killing machines.

Read more here.

The Dream of Leaving Cuba

By Yoani Sanchez in The New York Times:

Outside the sun is blindingly hot, and in the immigration office 100 people are sweating profusely. But no one complains. A critical word, a demanding attitude, could end in punishment. So we all wait silently for a “white card,” authorization to travel outside Cuba.

The white card is a piece of the migratory absurdities that prevent Cubans from freely leaving and entering their own country. It is our own Berlin Wall without the concrete, the land-mining of our borders without explosives. A wall made of paperwork and stamps, overseen by the grim stares of soldiers. This capricious exit permit costs over $200, a year’s salary for the average Cuban. But money is not enough. Nor is a valid passport. We must also meet other, unwritten requirements, ideological and political conditions that make us eligible, or not, to board a plane.

With so many obstacles, receiving a “yes” is like hearing the screech of the bolts pulled back on a cell door. But for many, like me, the answer is always “no.” Thousands of Cubans have been condemned to immobility on this island, though no court has issued such a verdict. Our “crime” is thinking critically of the government, being a member of an opposition group or subscribing to a platform in defense of human rights.

In my case, I can flaunt the sad record of having received 19 denials since 2008 of my applications for a white card. I left an empty chair at every conference, every award ceremony, every presentation of my books. I never received any explanation, only the laconic phrase “For now, you are not authorized to leave the country.”

But it is not only dissidents or critics who suffer these mobility restrictions. Hundreds of doctors, nurses and health professionals whom the government values too much to risk losing know that choosing those professions means they will save lives but will be unlikely to see other latitudes. They have seen their families separated, their children go into exile, while they wait for the authorities’ approval to leave. Some wait three years, five years, a decade, forever.

The blacklist of those who cannot cross the sea is long, and though the information is never published, we all know how the system works. And so we don masks of conformity before the watchful eyes of the state, hoping to achieve the cherished dream of crossing national boundaries. The exit permit thus becomes a method of ideological control.

A few days ago Ricardo Alarcón, president of the Cuban Parliament, told a foreign interviewer that the government is studying a radical reform of emigration. But we all know how the Cuban government utilizes the euphemism “we are studying” to buy time in what could become a wait of decades.

In reality, these same authorities are unwilling to give up this rich industry that brings them millions of dollars a year in fees for entering and leaving the country. The rumors fly but the locks never open.

A year ago, for example, as I was applying for permission to attend an event in Spain, the news “broke” that Cubans would soon travel freely. When I asked the official handling my request if it was true, she sneered at me, “Go to the airport and see if they let you leave without a white card.”

That same afternoon, as I was issued one more denial, my cellphone rang insistently in my pocket. A broken voice related to me the last moments in the life of Juan Wilfredo Soto, a dissident who died several days after being handcuffed and beaten by the police in a public park. I sat down to steady myself, my ears ringing, my face flush.

I went home and looked at my passport, full of visas to enter a dozen countries but lacking any authorization to leave my own. Next to its blue cover my husband placed a report of the details of Juan Wilfredo Soto’s death. Looking from his face in the photograph to the national seal on my passport, I could only conclude that in Cuba, nothing has changed. We remain in the grip of the same limitations, caught between the high walls of ideological sectarianism and the tight shackles of travel restrictions.