Paul Ryan on Cuba Policy

Saturday, August 11, 2012
Upon arriving in Congress, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was an unconditional free trader. Thus, Ryan initially opposed sanctions towards practically any country in the world, including Castro's Cuba.

To his credit, Ryan's position has evolved over the years, as he learned of the brutal realities of the Castro brothers. Moreover, Ryan recognized the fact that trade with the Castro's totalitarian regime would be neither free nor fair, as it holds a monopoly over political and economic power. As such, the Cuban people would be denied the benefits of such trade, while their oppressors would unduly benefit.

In 2007, Ryan voted against an amendment to the Farm Bill by U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) that sought to ease financing and other restrictions on trade with the Castro regime.

That same year, he opposed efforts to cut funding for Cuba democracy programs.

Moreover, Ryan publicly withdrew his name from a bill seeking to allow unfettered travel between the U.S. and Cuba.

Since then, Ryan has consistently opposed Congressional efforts to unconditionally lift sanctions towards Cuba.

Dialogue Requires Respect For All Parties

Excerpt from Victor Gaetan's "Heartbreak in Havana" in the National Catholic Register:

Not only did the government ostracize Paya, but, by his account, Church leadership marginalized him, too.

He told the Italian newspaper La Stampa he was disappointed with the Cuban Catholic hierarchy: “In a country like this, the bishops were never meant to appeal to the forces of oppression and abuse who arrest opponents to resolve a crisis like this.”

To me, Paya compared the Cuban situation to Poland: "John Paul II prohibited the Polish Church from negotiating with the communist regime. This is why Solidarity won, and the Catholic Church remained unscathed."

“Here, the Church sees its role as engaged in dialogue with the Castros. From my perspective, dialogue requires respect for all parties, and as long as they jail us for advocating freedom, Christ himself would refuse to speak,” Paya told me.

The last time I talked to Paya by phone, on his 60th birthday last February, he was praying that the much-anticipated visit of Pope Benedict to Cuba would also mark the occasion of the beginning of “reconciliation” of all Cubans. Unfortunately, most regime opponents were forcibly prevented from attending the papal Mass and ceremonies. Paya’s house was surrounded by security police.

In death, Paya’s achievements were extolled by world leaders, from President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and former Polish President Lech Walesa.

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution honoring “the life, liberty and leadership” of Oswaldo Paya. It also called on Cuba to allow an impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.

Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram of condolence, transmitted through Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega, which captures the pain of these deaths: “The Holy Father… raises fervent prayers to God for the eternal repose of the deceased and asks him to grant consolation and strength to those who, at this sad time, are weeping for their irreparable loss.”

As his coffin, draped with the Cuban flag, was carried into the overflowing El Salvador de Mundo Church for a funeral Mass offered by Archbishop Jaime Ortega, hundreds of people stood and defiantly chanted, “Libertad” — Liberty.

Join the "L for Libertad" Campaign

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Lady in White and Her 6-Year Old Daughter Arrested

A member of the Cuban pro-democracy movement, the Ladies in White, has just been arrested near Havana, along with her husband and 6-year old daughter.

She is Leydi Coca Quesada.

Coca's home was the scene of a violent mob attack by the Castro regime this week. They mob launched insults, climbed the roof, threw paint inside the house and beat up her father-in-law.

The arrest had been denounced by Ladies in White leader Berta Soler in the Hablalo Sin Miedo website.

Meanwhile, in Holguin, a Cuban intelligence officer, Major Douglas Torres Pupo, slapped Zuleidys Pérez Velázquez, another member of the Ladies in White, across the face and broke her jaw.

More "reform" you can't believe in.

Swede Describes Cuban Interrogations

And there you have it.

Excerpts from AP:

Report: Swede involved in Cuba dissident car crash concerned about fate of Spanish driver

A young Swedish politician who survived a car crash in Cuba that killed dissident Oswaldo Paya and another government opponent has described an intense five-day grilling about why he was in the country and said he is deeply worried about the fate of his Spanish colleague who was charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Aron Modig said in an interview published Friday that he doesn’t remember anything about what led to the crash, recalling only fragments of how the car suddenly swerved off the road and how he regained consciousness in an ambulance. He said he fears for Angel Carromero, who was driving the rental car when it crashed on July 22 and could face up to 10 years in a Cuban jail.

“Nobody knows what’s happening to him there,” he said.

Modig, the 27-year-old head of the youth party of Sweden’s conservative Christian Democrats, returned home on July 31 after what he said were days of high-pressure questioning in a windowless room in Havana by Cuban police.

“The questions are always the same: ‘Why are you here? Who sent you?’ They switched between asking questions and scolding: ‘Don’t come to our country and interfere’,” Modig told the daily Dagens Nyheter in the interview. “In a dictatorship that’s no good, of course I got worried.”

No questions were posed about the accident, he said.

“I went there with good intentions to contribute to a freer Cuba, but was jailed and questioned. Cubans are treated like that every day,” he said.

Modig’s party had initially scheduled a news conference upon his return to Sweden two weeks ago, but canceled it in the last minute, citing the ongoing legal process in Cuba. The interview in Dagens Nyheter is the first he has given since his return; he was not immediately available for more comment.

Join the "L for Libertad" Campaign

Thursday, August 9, 2012
Here's how you can help:

Freedom Cannot Be Taken for Granted

By Joel D. Hirst in The Bush Center's Freedom Collection:

Last week I attended an event at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, hosted by the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance and the International Republican Institute to honor Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya, who died under still-unclear circumstances in a recent car crash, and other dissidents who continue to work for a free and democratic Cuba.

One of the speakers was András Bácsi-Nagy, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Hungary. In his speech, Bácsi-Nagy described his own fight for freedom decades ago from Soviet oppression. In one amazing twist, he told the story of work done and support received from the Cuban Ambassador (before the arrival of Cuba’s communist government, of course) in their fight against the USSR. This reminded me once again that freedom cannot be taken for granted. As with everything worth having, it must be fought for energetically and defended vigorously; and, tragically, it is rarely permanent.

Events like the one at the Capitol remind us of these facts and help place our support for freedom in context. In moments like these, as we commune with Syrians, Venezuelans, Cubans and Hungarians we reaffirm the principle that the fight for freedom is as universal as the freedoms we fight for. They also help us recognize that in this fight we have power and strength. We have strength first and foremost because we are on the side of truth, and sooner or later truth always triumphs. We have power because every time a dictatorship casts its ugly pall across a land we can rest assured that it is transient. We are also stronger because the community of dissidents like Berta Antunez, Carlos Alberto Montaner and Armando Valladares, featured here on the Bush Center’s Freedom Collection, emerge to personal freedom not only to help enshrine liberty at home but also to support others around the world who remain oppressed.

For this reason, we take heart. We use these moments to grieve over those we have lost in this battle: courageous individuals like Oswaldo Paya; Harold Cepero, who had been expelled from college for opposing the regime and died in the crash with Paya; Wilman Villar Mendoza, who was arrested for peacefully demonstrating against human rights abuses and died this year in prison while on a hunger strike; Laura Pollan, founder of the Ladies in White; and unfortunately many others. We also use these events to tell the dictators that they will not find reprieve in their longevity. And finally, we use our communion to reinforce our commitment to each other and the cause, and to take energy from each other as we prepare to charge back into the fray.

Cuban Airline Not Safety Compliant

According to a "U.N. Airline Risk Assessment List," Cuba's national airline, Cubana de Aviacion, is not fully safety compliant.

Cubana de Aviacion was confiscated by the Castro regime in 1959 -- along with everything else on the island.

The report was obtained by Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocaranda regarding airlines flying in and out of the Andean nation.

Among those fully compliant are the U.S. carriers Delta and American Airlines, Latin America's Copa and AeroMexico, and Europe's Air France and Iberia.

Tourism Remains Key Source of Income

Tourism remains a key source of foreign income for the Castro regime.

So why on earth would some policymakers want to keep fomenting the income of this cruel, totalitarian dictatorship?

And so much for the "theory" that tourists promote democracy.

From AP:

Cuba reports revenues rose 12.8 percent last year in tourism, key source of foreign income

Cuban authorities report that tourism revenues rose 12.8 percent in 2011, returning to levels from three years earlier as the key sector recovers from losses due to the global financial crisis.

In an undated report posted recently on its website, the National Office of Statistics said tourism income was $2.5 billion in 2011, compared with $2.2 billion the previous year.

In all, the island hosted 2.7 million visitors, up 7 percent from 2.5 million in 2010.

Raul Wags the BBC's Havana Correspondent

Yesterday, the BBC's Havana correspondent reported, "Cuba's ban on anti-Castro musicians quietly lifted."

Apparently, the ban has been "lifted" so quietly that not a single Celia Cruz, Willy Chirino or Gloria Estefan song has been played on Cuban radio.

So where did the BBC get this info?

According to the story, "the Communist Party has not authorised any official interviews. But several of Cuba's biggest radio stations have confirmed to the BBC that the ban has been overturned."

In other words, Cuban dictator Raul Castro authorized a whisper campaign for foreign journalists, in order to grab a headline, and promote his so-called "reformist" label.

It's called "Raul Wagging the Media."

But until Celia, Willy or Gloria are actually played on Cuban radio, it's irresponsible to claim that Castro's censorship ban on exiled artists has been lifted.

Dr. Biscet's New Television Program

Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, a renowned Cuban pro-democracy leader and former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, has launched a new independent television program entitled "Revealing Cuba."

The new program, produced and distributed by The Lawton Foundation for Human Rights within Cuba, analyzes international and domestic events.

In the first episode (click below to watch), Dr. Biscet interviews Baptist Pastor Mario Felix Lleonart on the subject of religious persecution in Cuba.

It contains English subtitles.

Another Debunked Anti-Sanctions Argument

For years, some argued that sanctions have placed the U.S. at a disadvantage vis-a-vis nations currently doing business with Castro.

So much for that argument.

From Canada's MacLean's Magazine:

Foreign business in Cuba: Beware the dangerous embrace

[A] strange incongruity exists in Cuba today: Havana is bending over backwards to attract foreign currency at the same time it is imprisoning some of its biggest Western investors. For all Cuba’s reforms, this Castro appears to be as intent on maintaining an iron grip on the country as the last one.

Few are more keenly aware of the pitfalls of doing business in the new Cuba as a pair of Canadians sitting in jail in Havana. It has been more than a year since Sarkis Yacoubian, the president of Tri-Star Caribbean, a trading firm with headquarters in Nova Scotia, was detained in the Cuban capital. And September will be the one-year anniversary of the arrest of Cy Tokmakjian, the president of a trading company based in Concord, Ont. He and Yacoubian have both been imprisoned without charges. Their assets now belong to Cuba. No trial date has been announced.

Both Yacoubian and Tokmakjian ran well-established businesses in Cuba, had years of experience in the country, and multi-million-dollar contracts with several government ministries. Yacoubian imported the presidential fleet of BMWs. Tokmakjian, who’d been in Cuba for more than 20 years and did $80 million in annual business there, had the rights to Hyundai and Suzuki, which are used by the country’s police.

So far, Raúl has scared off more joint ventures than he has attracted, jeopardizing the investment Cuba needs to succeed. Spanish oil giant Repsol quit the country in May. Canada’s Pizza Nova, which had six Cuban locations, packed its bags, as did Telecom Italia. The country’s biggest citrus exporter, BM Group, backed by Israeli investors, is gone. A Chilean who set up one of Cuba’s first joint enterprises, a fruit juice company, fled after being charged with corruption last year. He was convicted in absentia. Shipping investors are pulling out, even as Cuba prepares to open a new terminal on the island’s north coast.

Some Tactics Never Change

By Fabiola Santiago in The Miami Herald:

Cuba’s new piece of Stalinist theater

To see horror, one startled eye is enough.

— Cuban poet Heberto Padilla.

Like many Cubans in Miami, I’ve waited for days to hear from the man we call el sueco, the Swede, the human rights activist who survived the car “accident” in which Cuba’s best-known dissident, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and a young enthusiastic activist, Harold Cepero, were killed.

But Jens Aron Modig has not said a word in public since he returned to Stockholm, and few are surprised.

The Cuban government split up the two survivors and kept a hostage: the Spaniard driving the car, Angel Carromero, a fellow human-rights activist accused by the Cuban government of vehicular homicide and facing 15 years in prison.

For those of us who have witnessed first-hand accounts of past victims of Cuba’s regime, the Stalinist theater piece that played out in Havana before Modig flew home is reminiscent of another well-known case: the Padilla Affair of 1971.

Heberto Padilla was one of Cuba’s most important poets, a gentle, talented man who translated Keats, Blake and Byron and penned odes to love and country and everything else in life worth writing about.

In 1968, a panel of judges awarded Cuba’s highest literary prize to Padilla’s book of poetry, Fuera del juego (Out of the Game), an unprecedented work critical of the totalitarian turn of the Cuban Revolution. The state-sponsored Union of Cuban Writers and Artists, which awarded the prize, was forced to issue a statement criticizing the book as counterrevolutionary. Padilla became a pariah, constantly under surveillance. Two years later, after officials learned he was writing a novel that also would be an affront, he was arrested.

Under the duress of interrogation and the threat of imprisonment, he was forced to perform a humiliating act of self-criticism by reading a statement before the union saying he had been wrong for questioning the revolution.

Forty one years later, Carromero’s mea culpa — issued in Havana as the Cuban and international press dutifully captured it and sent it out into the world without much questioning — rings so familiar.

He was driving too fast, the accident was his fault and should not be used for political purposes, Carromero said. Modig was allowed to go home.

As we wait out his eloquent silence, it’s helpful to remember Padilla, who outsmarted his jailers.

The impeccable writer let the grammatical mistakes of the state security official who actually penned his statement stand, and the free world knew that no matter what he said, it was a fake confession.

Padilla, who died in exile in 2000, lived in virtual house arrest until he was allowed to leave Cuba in 1980 at the request of Sen. Ted Kennedy.

The suspected truth behind Padilla’s false mea culpa wasn’t fully known until he and his family were free.

If a book of poetry was that that much of a threat to a totalitarian regime then, imagine the significance now of the real story behind Payá’s death.

We must listen to the silences, question the mea culpas – and wait.

One thing is different: Truth is harder to keep in the shadows for decades. Even dead poets speak long after they’re gone.

Today on "From Washington al Mundo"

Tune in today to "From Washington al Mundo" for a discussion on Israel and Iran's nuclear development with Michael Makovsky, Foreign Policy Director at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

And Reggie Littlejohn, Founder and President of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, will discuss her coalition's efforts to end forced abortion and sexual slavery in China. She also led the international effort to free blind activist Chen Guangcheng this year.

You can now listen to "From Washington al Mundo" seven-days a week on Sirius-XM's Cristina Radio (Channel 146) from 4-5 p.m. (EST) and again at midnight (EST).

Imagine Teddy Bears Over Havana

Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Does Sweden only support dissidents in Cuba?

Of course not.

Sweden is a leader in the promotion of human rights and democratic movements in repressed societies throughout the world -- from Cuba to Burma.

However, when Swedish youth leader Aron Modig was asked this question at the press conference staged last week by Castro's Ministry of the Interior, he stated affirmatively and even "apologized" for doing so.

That was another one of the lies that Modig, who survived the car crash that killed Cuban pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Paya, was forced to tell during the Castro regime's staged "mea culpa."

Otherwise, he'd still be in an interrogation cell.

But we're not sure what's more fascinating -- the fact that such Stalinist theater takes place in the 21st century, or that Castro's foreign echo-chamber regurgitates it as fact.

Particularly when, on the very same week, the following events were transpiring in Europe's last dictatorship, Belarus.

From Bloomberg:

Sweden’s ambassador to Belarus was expelled for “being too supportive of human rights,” Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said on his Twitter account.

“Outrageous,” Bildt wrote. “Shows nature of regime.”

The Nordic country has retaliated by ousting two Belorussian diplomats, Bildt said.

Sweden will inform the Belorussian embassy in Stockholm that the new ambassador to Sweden won’t be welcome and that two other representatives will have their credentials revoked, Bildt said Friday in a statement posted on the government’s website.

“The Lukashenko-regime’s expulsion of Sweden’s ambassador to Belarus is a big breach against the norms for relations between states,” Bildt said. “The accusations that the regime has directed at the ambassador are completely baseless. That Sweden is very much engaged to promote democracy and human rights in Belarus is no secret.”

Belorussian President Aleksandr Lukashenko last month fired the border-guard and air-force chiefs after Swedish pilots illegally flew a small airplane from Lithuania to Belarus.

A group of Swedish citizens illegally flew a small plane from Lithuania to Belarus on July 4, dropping teddy-bear toys with signs calling for free speech over the capital, Minsk, Lukashenko said last month, according to a statement on his office’s website. The pilots were able to return to a Lithuanian airport without being intercepted and posted video footage of their flight on the Internet.

Video of Latest Havana Capitol Protest

The independent news agency Hablemos Press has posted the following clip of this week's protest in front of Havana's Capitol building.

According to witnesses, they were applauded during the protest by passers-by, which led to increased police violence against them.

The participants all remain detained.

Quote of the Week

"The changes under Raul Castro are like putting blush on the bodywork of a 1959 Chevrolet, which needs a new motor to work. Everything is being cooked in the same sauce, the [regime's] measures are for temporary survival, for in the long-term they solve nothing."

-- Daniel Benitez, journalist from Cuban state media who recently defected in Mexico, Cafe Fuerte, 8/7/12

MUST-SEE: A Cuban Olympian Calls for "Libertad"

Upon winning the Olympic gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling, Cuba's Mijain Lopez Nunez appears to make the "L" symbol for "Libertad."

It is the symbol for "freedom" that was popularized by deceased Cuban pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Paya and Ladies in White leader Laura Pollan, and which recently lined the streets of Havana during Paya's funeral.

Here's Mijain:

Here's a scene from Paya's funeral procession:

Cuba Oil "Expert" Recoils

Monday, August 6, 2012
In May 2011:

Cuban deepwater exploration projects that will begin this year have a high probability of success and may increase the island nation’s oil output by more than 500 percent, said Jorge Pinon, energy fellow at the University of Miami Center for Hemispheric Policy.

“The probability of success in finding hydrocarbons is great,” said Pinon, a former head of BP Plc’s operations in Latin America who recently visited Cuba. The communist nation would own about 60 percent of crude produced from projects resulting from the exploratory wells, he said.

Today, after Castro's second well came up dry:

"A lot of people have been very naive in thinking that an oil-rich Cuba was going to materialize overnight, and that is not the case," said Jorge Pinon, former president of Amoco Oil Latin America and now an energy expert at the University of Texas. "You don't just turn the faucet on overnight."

Another Protest at Havana's Capitolio

According to Hablemos Press, six Cuban pro-democracy activists were arrested yesterday for leading a protest at Havana's Capitol building ("Capitolio").

They carried signs reading:

"Freedom for the Cuban People," "Down With Injustices," "Down With the Dictatorship," "Freedom for Political Prisoners" and "Long Live Human Rights."

Those detained are Lázaro Mendoza García, Jorge González Echendia, Luis Enrique López Torres, José Antonio Pompa López, Ernesto Márquez Herrera and Wilfredo Piloto.

Simultaneously, another protest was held in East Havana by members of the Latin American Federation of Rural Women (Federación Latinoamericana de Mujeres Rurales, FLAMUR) and the Republican Youth Impact Movement (Movimiento Impacto Juvenil Republicano).

Among those detained in that protest are Nayllibis Corrales Jiménez, Deysi Ponce, Osniel Valentín, Yosiel Guía Piloto, Fred Calderón, Miguel Ulloa, Rolando Ayala, Yander Ferrer and Miguel López Santos.

Today on "From Washington al Mundo"

Tune in today to "From Washington al Mundo" for a discussion on energy policy in Latin American with Pedro Burelli, former Executive Board Member of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).

And Shahriar Etminani of the Iran Democratic Union will discuss the latest on the efforts of that nation's pro-democracy movement.

You can now listen to "From Washington al Mundo" seven-days a week on Sirius-XM's Cristina Radio (Channel 146) from 4-5 p.m. (EST) and again at midnight (EST).

Second Oil Well Comes Up Dry Also

Remember all of the lobbying and sensationalism regarding Castro's supposed oil prospects?

(Which we consistently denounced as a ploy to have sanctions unconditionally lifted).

Cubapetroleo has just announced that its second offshore well, drilled by Malaysia's Petronas and Russia's Gazprom, has come up dry also (or "not commercially feasible").

Earlier year, Spain's Repsol announced that the first well came up dry.

The Scarabeo-9 drilling rig will now finally be handed off to Venezuela's PDVSA before its contract expires and is whisked off to to Brazil.

WSJ: Castro Takes Another Hostage

Sunday, August 5, 2012
By Mary Anastasia O'Grady in The Wall Street Journal:

Cuba Takes Another Foreign Hostage

After Oswaldo Payá's suspicious death in a car accident, the regime arrests the driver, a Spanish rights activist.

Cuba wants to make itself an international travel mecca. But it also needs to keep the Cuban people away from pesky foreigners who could put counterrevolutionary ideas, like the notion of the right to earn a decent living, in their heads.

Last week the military dictatorship demonstrated how it plans to solve this dilemma when it arrested Spaniard Ángel Carromero and charged him with vehicular manslaughter in the car wreck that killed Cuban dissidents Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.

There is every reason to believe that the regime is making an example out of Mr. Carromero—a member of the youth wing of the Popular Party in Spain—not because of his driving but because of his politics. Foreigners: be warned.

If human-rights advocates had the technology to create, in a laboratory, the perfect dissident to challenge Cuba's military dictatorship in Havana, they couldn't do better than what God made in Payá. The 60-year-old pacifist was brave, articulate and unwavering in his belief that if Cubans would only drop their fear, they could claim the justice and equality under the law that is their due. A unique combination of intelligence, raw courage and gentle humility made him Castro's worst nightmare.

Payá's death immediately raised speculation in the human-rights community about whether the regime played a role in the crash. If so, it would hardly be news. Thousands of Cubans have been killed since Fidel seized power because they refused to conform. Now that Raúl Castro—who earned a reputation over the years as the "executioner" working for his older brother—has been promoted to dictator, a hit job on Payá, if that's what happened, would be a dog-bites-man tale. But there may be more to this incident.

Also in the car was a Swedish human-rights advocate named Jens Aron Modig, who was unhurt. In the days after the crash, rumors swirled that he'd sent a text message to Europe from the wreckage saying that the car was forced off the road by another vehicle. But neither he nor Mr. Carromero has confirmed that, and no message has been made public. Another plausible theory is that the car was being tailed—not hard to believe—but that the crash was indeed an accident.

More could be learned if Mr. Carromero could speak freely. But from the moment he was taken to the hospital in the city of Bayamo, he has been in police lockdown. He has not been allowed to talk to the Payá family and has only been seen by the public on what looks like hostage videotape. In that tape he uses at least one term that is not common usage in Spain, which suggests the script was written for him.

The Payá family has not pressed charges against the 27-year-old, but if his is found guilty by the regime, he could get one to 10 years. Mr. Modig, who says he doesn't recall what happened, appeared on Cuban television last week with a government minder seated next to him. He "confessed" to helping Mr. Payá in his work by giving him money, and he apologized to the nation. He was allowed to return to Europe last week but canceled a press conference on Friday.

It may be that a government vehicle provoked the crash and that the regime figures that if it holds Mr. Carromero for a few years, memories will dim and by the time he is released and tells the truth no one will care.

But the regime's decision to politicize Payá's death has only further fanned suspicions of foul play. A 1,500-word editorial in the state newspaper Granma last week responded to critics who claim that the government was behind the crash by complaining about Mr. Carromero's affiliation with a party in Spain that has been a harsh critic of Cuban repression.

Granma said that on a tourist visa he had no right to be cavorting with Payá. It also lashed out at Mr. Modig and his ties to Swedish Christian Democrats, who, it said, "rival the ultraconservative North American Tea Party." The editorial went on to list numerous organizations from around the world that have engaged in trying to help dissidents, or what it calls "subversive" activities.

Another enemy operation named in the editorial is the U.S. Agency for International Development. Cuba is already holding a USAID hostage, contractor Alan Gross, who was arrested in 2009 and later sentenced to 15 years in prison for bringing satellite communications equipment into the country. With the taking of what appears to be a second hostage, Raúl, the so-called reformer, is reiterating his hard-line policy.

The Castros fear the increasing audacity of dissidents to speak out, organize and assemble, and they know that contact with the outside world has helped them. They have decided to put an end to it. That purpose is served by locking up Mr. Carromero and holding him incommunicado. "Opening" to tourists never meant allowing them to do dangerous things, like mixing freely with the Cuban people.

Update on Sonia Garro

Sonia Garro is a member of the Ladies in White, who has been unjustly imprisoned since March 18th.

According to Cuban independent journalist Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, she was recently beaten, stripped and confined to a punishment cell without medical attention for 11 days in Havana's Manto Negro Prison.

One of the guards even told her, "I don't care if you die, as all 'worms' should be under ground."

The Castro regime refers to dissidents as "gusanos" ("worms").

Garro's husband, Ramón Muñoz González, husband of Sonia Garro, also remains imprisoned since March 18th. He is being held in the Combinado del Este Prison.

They were both victims of the Castro regime's repressive crackdown undertaken just days before Pope Benedict’s visit to the island.

Others remaining in prison from the Papal visit crackdown are Niurka Luque Álvarez (also a member of the Ladies in White), Jorge Vázquez Chaviano, Dany López de Moya and Bismark Mustelier Galán.

Castro Stands by Assad's Genocide

From AP:

UN General Assembly Denounces Syrian Crackdown

The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly denounced Syria's crackdown on dissent Friday in a symbolic effort meant to push the deadlocked Security Council and the world at large into action on stopping the country's civil war.

Before the vote, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon reminded the Assembly of the fresh violence in the city of Aleppo and drew comparisons between the failure to act in Syria with the international community's failure to protect people from past genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia, and Rwanda.

"The conflict in Syria is a test of everything this organization stands for," Ban said. "I do not want today's United Nations to fail that test."

The vote came after the more powerful Security Council was stopped by a series of Russian and Chinese vetoes on resolutions that would have opened the door to sanctions on Syria.

The General Assembly vote was 133 in support of the resolution and 12 against, with 31 abstaining. Syria's ambassador angrily called the vote "a piece of theater."

Russia and China had objected to those provisions. Both voted "no" Friday, along with Syria, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Belarus, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Venezuela.