Another Leading Opposition Figure Arrested

Saturday, August 25, 2012
Cuban pro-democracy leader Guillermo Farinas was arrested by the Castro regime on Thursday for asking about the well-being of opposition activist Idania Yanes and others arrested this week.

Farinas approached the secret police agents stationed in front of his house to ask about the arrest of various activists.

Castro's agents became agitated by Farinas's peaceful inquiry and arrested him, as well as his colleagues, Jorge Luis Artiles Montiel, Jose Lino Asencio Lopez and Jesus Aristides Hernandez Perez.

Farninas is the 2010 recipient of the European Parliament's Sakharov Award for Freedom of Thought.

Quote of the Week

Every President wants to get along (with Cuba), but one cannot negotiate while certain things continue to take place, which have been taking place for fifty something years, in Cuba: the abuse of people, political prisoners, the people who have died trying to cross the Florida Straits searching for freedom and, most importantly, the lack of freedom of expression. Until that exists, no negotiations can exist with Cuba.

-- Emilio Estefan, Grammy winning producer, Huffington Voces, 8/24/12

Another Crackdown on Dissent

In The Miami Herald:

Dissidents report a crackdown in Cuba

Cuban dissidents Friday reported a crackdown across the island, with more than 30 activists detained to keep them from marking the monthly “Day of Resistance” and the one-year anniversary of one of the most active opposition groups.

Fourteen members of the Cuban Patriotic Union were detained in Havana as they gathered for the anniversary of the group, according to Pedro Arguelles, another member of the Union.

Five other dissidents were reported detained in the central city of Santa Clara during a vigil demanding the release of all political prisoners. Another four were arrested in the eastern town of San Luis and three more in the central town of Placetas.

Police told a dozen dissidents in eastern Camaguey province they would be arrested if they left their homes to attend an opposition gathering, and told seven others gathered in a Placetas home that they would be arrested if they did not leave.

Another 11 Union members gathered in the eastern town of Palma Soriano reported late Friday that they were headed outside to demand the release of all the activists detained. There was no further word from them.

Dissident Osmani Cespedes said more than 30 signs with anti-government slogans such as “Down with Raúl” and “Raúl Murderer” appeared Friday morning in several spots around the eastern town of Palma Soriano.

Ballot Question on Prohibiting Business With State-Sponsors

Friday, August 24, 2012
Yesterday, the Miami-Dade Commission approved the following question - introduced by Commissioner Steve Bovo - to be included in the November ballot:

"Would you support, to the extent permitted by law, prohibiting further the use of taxpayers' dollars to procure services or capital improvement projects from companies actively doing business in countries that are on the U.S. Department of State's list of state sponsors of terrorism?"

This question will serve as a good indicator of how Miami-Dade taxpayers feel about having their taxpayer dollars go to companies, e.g. Brazil's Odebrecht, that partner with the brutal regimes of Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.

No more high-priced lawyers and corporate lobbyists -- let the voters decide.

Leading Cuban Opposition Figure Arrested

Thursday, August 23, 2012
This morning, the Castro regime arrested pro-democracy leader Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia.

The secret police assaulted his home at 6:00 am, while his family was still asleep. They also confiscated all of his documents and other belongings.

Ferrer is a former prisoner of conscience, one of the original prisoners of the 2003 Black Spring crackdown.

Ironically, this week marked the first anniversary of his new opposition party, the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).

His popularity is evident by fact that the Castro regime chose to assault his home at 6:00 am, while his neighbors and local supporters were mostly asleep.

To Be Anti-Castro is To Be Pro-Cuba

By Jay Nordlinger in National Review:

I have been getting mail — spam — from the US-China Business Council. You know the type: Walk on eggshells around the Chinese Communist Party. Don’t do anything to upset them. We’re all gonna make our money, nice ’n’ quiet, and no one had better utter a word about the gulag, Tibet, or anything like that.

(How about the fact that China imprisons the 2010 Nobel peace laureate?)

One of the council’s e-mails was headed “State leaders ignoring anti-China rhetoric, pursuing Chinese investments.” When someone says “anti-China,” you have to consider what he means. In the Cold War, people who spoke up for human rights were sometimes called “anti-Russian.” It was said that they “hated Russia.” Actually, they were pro-Russian, and pro-Russia — to the extent of wanting people in that country to have rights.

Foes of the Kremlin were also accused of “poisoning the atmosphere of détente.” Remember that one? If you mentioned Sakharov, Solzhenitsyn, or Shcharansky (as his name was then spelled) — if you mentioned the boot stomping on the human face — you were told, “Are you trying to poison the atmosphere of détente? Do you really want to start a war?”

Similarly, people who favor democracy and human rights in Cuba — i.e., are pro-Cuban — are sometimes called “anti-Cuban” or “anti-Cuba.” To be anti-Castro, in my book, is to be pro-Cuba.

The “People’s Republic of China” — which is not a republic and whose people have no say whatsoever — is a one-party dictatorship with a gulag (laogai). When a business council says “anti-China,” remember that those accused of being “anti-China” may well be pro-China, pro-Chinese — pro-human.

Another way to put this is: The CCP does not equal China, though, of course, it pretends it does. Why should people in free countries pretend along with them?

Is OFAC Curbing Cuba Junkets?

After a year of allowing "people-to-people" travel to serve as a gateway for tourism junkets to Cuba, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) appears to be implementing its new rules tightening the requirements for such trips.

Is this proves to be the case, kudos to OFAC.

Excerpt from the Detroit Free Press:

Almost no organizations that got licenses from the U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) last year to sponsor trips to Cuba have received renewals. Trips that were advertised have been scrapped. Organizations are left to wait without any updates or information.

“We work with about 30 different non-profit organizations that have programs to Cuba in next 12 months, and 100% of them have not received renewals of licenses,” said Jim Friedlander, president of Academic Arrangements Abroad in New York, a travel service provider, late Tuesday.

No to Che

A wonderfully written Letter to the Editor in the Irish Independent regarding a proposal to erect a statue of Che Guevara in the town of Galway:

No to Che

Oscar Wilde said "When liberty comes with hands dabbled in blood it is foolish to shake hands with her". It is foolish to commemorate Che Guevara whose hands are covered in the blood of thousands.

If Galway erects a monument to Guevara it should bear the inscription: "When critical reasoning is asleep, in morons and monsters creep."

The only revolution is from a closed society to an open society. Cuba is a closed society. Guevara murdered thousands to inflict dogmatic Marxism on others, which brought poverty to Cuba and nearly nuclear devastation.

Dogma necessitates compulsory conformity urging violence and murder to silence the dissidents.

Karl Popper, the father of the Open Society in the 1930s, predicted the imposition of the Marxist regimes.

Prosperity comes from pushing out the frontiers of knowledge, creating centres of excellence and going from a potato chip economy to a computer chip economy.

Prosperity is a by-product of human development in an open creative scientific society. Prosperity is about knowledge, keeping pace in a hi-tech race.

Cuba has excellence in poverty. Cuba has excellence in curtailing human growth.

A monument to Guevara in Galway means the people of Galway do not value human rights and they agree with humans having the same quality of life as ants working in an ant colony.

Stephen Fallon
Barrington Street, Limerick

Today on "From Washington al Mundo"

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Tune in today to "From Washington al Mundo" for a conversation with journalist and Columbia University Professor Jessica Bruder on Vladimir Putin's attack on free speech and the prosecution of Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot. She's the author of the recent New York Times editorial, "Real Punk Belongs to Fighters."

And former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich will discuss the latest events in Venezuela, Ecuador and El Salvador.

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).

What Castro Does to Peaceful Women

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
A must-read testimony by 21-year old Eleiny Villamonte Cardozo, on the violence the Ladies in White were subjected to this week for trying to peacefully congregate:

"[T]he mobs continued to shout at us. But they were not calm with just that, so they started to throw rocks at us and fire water at us from a fire-hose to try and drown us. They told us “dirty-feet”, “dirty women”, and many other nasty things. As they threw rocks at us they hit the grandson of Ana Mara Aguilera Paneque who is only 4 years old, they hit him on his little stomach and knee. Berta Guerrero was hit on the foot with a rock. Another rock hit Romelia on her breast. It wasn’t one or two rocks, their were hundreds of rocks being thrown at us to try and kill us. And they continued firing water at us and shouted “clean your feet, dirty women” and other things like that.

Afterward, another State Security agent approached and said that he was going to get a search warrant to search the house. He left, but the mobs remained, screaming at us, and we remained calm inside the house. Another official, with a brown uniform with two stars on it, arrived. I don’t know his name, but he is a lieutenant colonel. He ordered to see the owner of the house because he was going to carry out a search. But the owner was in the bathroom at that moment, and the agent was so impatient that he barged in, grabbed Berta Guerrero (who was carrying her daughter) and nearly knocked her down, but Berta managed to get away from his grip. That’s when numerous men ran in and began to hit us, and they even took one underage girl (the daughter of Romelia). They were hitting us, and with these physical blows they took us out of the house.

They applied a headlock on me and took me out to the street. When I was on the street, they pushed me towards the mob of women who started to scratch me everywhere, they hit me all over, and they pulled my hair. In fact, I’m still scratched up on my chest and my arm. All the women came up to me to hit me. After they had beaten me, one guard said ‘you can’t hit her’, but she said this after they had beaten me up, after they had pulled my hair, after all the punches. It was very violent.

They shoved me into a police vehicle. Then, the vehicle would accelerate and suddenly brake so that I would go forward and hit my head against the glass dividing the seats. They took us to the Instructional Penal Unit, where they told me that I would be processed without a trial and that I’d go straight to prison for ‘public disorder’, to which I responded that I had neither carried out a public disorder nor a crime to be there like a criminal. My choice was to not eat any food that they gave me as a safety measure for my life, because I feared that they would poison me, kill me or slip pills into my food. I didn’t eat until today, and I felt very weak. They were very aggressive with us

Diaz-Balart: Obama's Appeasement Policy

By U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) in Fox News:

Obama Has Policy of Appeasement Toward Castro Regime

In July, Hugo Chavez commented on the United States presidential election, saying that he thought Barack Obama was “deep down a good guy.”

Earlier this summer, Mariela Castro, daughter of titular Cuban dictator Raul Castro, who taunts Cuba’s brave pro-democracy activists as “despicable parasites,” also praised President Obama after his administration allowed her to enter the United States to give a series of lectures and tour various U.S. cities.

These compliments – and the fact that they were not disavowed by the White House – come as no surprise, given President Obama’s appeasing stance regarding anti-American totalitarian regimes.

Since he took office in January 2009, President Obama has pursued a policy of appeasement toward the totalitarian Cuban dictatorship.

Despite the Castro brothers’ harboring of international terrorists and their increasingly relentless oppression of the Cuban people, President Obama weakened U.S. sanctions and has increased the flow of dollars to the dictatorship.

In response, the Castro brothers amped up their repression of the Cuban people and imprisoned American humanitarian aid worker Alan Gross for the “crime” of taking humanitarian aide to Cuba’s small Jewish community.

Clearly, President Obama is not concerned about the threat posed by the Cuban dictatorship, nor has he manifested genuine solidarity with the pro-democracy aspirations of the Cuban people.

The Cuban people are protesting in the streets and demanding freedom. But rather than supporting the growing, courageous pro-democracy movement, President Obama instead has chosen to appease their oppressors.

While President Obama claims that his policies aim to assist the oppressed Cuban people, his actions betray that he is not on their side.

You cannot credibly claim to care about the oppressed while working out side deals with their oppressors and welcoming the oppressors’ elite into the United States with open arms. And you cannot claim to support political prisoners while increasing the flow of dollars to their jailers.

The failures of the Obama administration in Cuba are not an isolated foreign policy failure.

Around the world, President Obama has taken an approach of appeasement when it comes to some of our most virulent enemies.

In addition to Cuba, from Iran to Syria to Venezuela, President Obama has shown an unwillingness to stand firm when anti-American forces threaten our interests, and his weakness has emboldened America’s enemies. If we are going to reassert our position in the world, we need a change at the top.

Unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney has consistently vowed to take a firm stance against the Castro regime and strongly support the growing pro-democracy movement in Cuba. That will start by tightening sanctions against the brutal Castro dictatorship and fully funding Cuban pro-democracy assistance programs.

Similarly, after thoroughly and seriously studying the issue, Romney’s running mate, my friend Rep. Paul Ryan, fully understands that a policy of appeasement and accommodation only emboldens the terrorist Castro regime.

Seven or eight years ago, my brother Lincoln, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and I had long and thorough briefing sessions on the issue of Cuba with Paul Ryan, and, since then, Rep. Ryan has not only supported a vigorous U.S. pro-democracy policy toward Cuba, he has been one of the strongest supporters of a free Cuba in the U.S. Congress.

The Romney-Ryan Administration will support pro-democracy movements throughout our hemisphere, work with our allies to fight criminal gangs and terrorists, and oppose the dangerous incursion of enemies such as Iran and Hezbollah into America’s backyard.

The Castro brothers have oppressed the Cuban people and threatened U.S. security interests for far too long.

Mitt Romney will reaffirm America’s dedication to the freedom of the Cuban people and refuse to assist their oppressors until the promise of a free, democratic Cuba is finally realized.

Castro Confirms Ban on Cuban-American Artists

The BBC was the first news outlet to erroneously report on a supposed "lifting" of the Castro regime's ban on Cuban-American artists, even though not a single song by Willy Chirino, Celia Cruz or Gloria Estefan had been played on Cuban radio.

Moreover, there had been no official confirmation that the Castro regime's ban had been lifted.

Regardless, the BBC ran with the story and other media outlets piggy-backed to further their narrative of Raul, the so-called "reformer."

Yet, yesterday, the national director of music at Castro's Institute of Cuban Radio and Television (ICRT) announced that artists, such as Celia Cruz, remain banned from Cuban radio for having been "allied with the enemy and attempted against our families."

The BBC should retract its story, as Castro's ban on Cuban-American artists is tragically alive and well.

More "reform" you can't believe in.

Complete GOP Platform on Cuba and Venezuela

Monday, August 20, 2012
Here's the complete GOP platform on Cuba and Venezuela:

The current Administration has turned its back on Latin America, with predictable results. Rather than supporting our democratic allies in the region, the President has prioritized engagement with our enemies in the region.

Venezuela represents an increasing threat to U.S. security, a threat that has grown much worse on Obama's watch. In the last three years, Venezuela has become a narco-terrorist state, turning it into an Iranian outpost in the Western Hemisphere. The current regime issues Venezuelan passports or visas to thousands of Middle-Eastern terrorists, offering safe haven to Hezbollah trainers, operatives, recruiters and fundraisers.

Alternatively, we will stand with the true democracies of the region against both Marxist subversion and the drug lords, helping them to become prosperous alternatives to the collapsing model of Venezuela and Cuba.

We affirm our friendship with the people of Cuba and look toward their reunion with the rest of our hemispheric family. The anachronistic regime in Havana which rules them is a mummified relic of the age of totalitarianism, a state-sponsor of terrorism. We reject any dynastic succession of power within the Castro family and affirm the principles codified in U.S. law as conditions for the lifting of trade, travel, and financial sanctions: the legalization of political parties, an independent media, and free and fair internationally-supervised elections. We renew our commitment to Cuba’s courageous pro-democracy movement as the protagonists of Cuba’s inevitable liberation and democratic future. We call for a dedicated platform for the transmission of Radio and TV Marti and for the promotion of Internet access and circumvention technology as tools to strengthen the pro-democracy movement. We support the work of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba and affirm the principles of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, recognizing the rights of Cubans fleeing Communism.

LA Times Lies About GOP Platform

The LA Times has irresponsibly put out an article alleging that the GOP platform dropped its support for Cuba sanctions.

This is absolutely untrue.

There was an effort by Ron Paul delegates to remove the Cuba language from the GOP platform. However, this effort was defeated by the Romney campaign.

UPDATE: The LA Times has issued a correction. However, it's unfathomable how their editors allowed such a story full of untruths and without a single quote or confirmation go out in the first place.

Today on "From Washington al Mundo"

Tune in today to "From Washington al Mundo" for a discussion on the U.S.'s complex relationship with Pakistan with Amb. Teresita Schaffer, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and South Asia and U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka.

And Reason's Michael Moynihan will discuss his recent editorial in Foreign Policy, "Leftist Planet: Why do so many travel guides make excuses for dictators?"

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).

Quote of the Week

They hit my little boy, my 4-year old grandson, with a rock in his stomach and then another rock hit his little knees.

-- Ana María Aguilera Paneque, a member of the Ladies in White, after the Castro regime attacked a home where the female activists had peacefully gathered, Marti News, 8/20/12

Why Santos Did Backflips for Castro

Sunday, August 19, 2012
It's becoming increasingly clear why Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos did backflips for the Castro dictatorship during this year's Summit of the Americas gathering in Cartagena.

Apparently, Santos was willing to eviscerate the democratic principles of the Summit process in order to protect his negotiations, hosted by Castro, with the narco-terrorist FARC.

Yet, his "deal with the devil" doesn't seem to be bearing successful results.

In Colombia Reports:

The administration of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is holding secret peace negotiations with the country's largest guerrilla group FARC in Cuba, said former president Alvaro Uribe Sunday.

During a speech in the northern Colombian city of Sincelejo, Uribe said "it's incomprehensible, the security deteriorates and the government is negotiating with the terrorist group FARC in Cuba."

Ryan Asked About Cuba Policy

From ABC:

During the one-one-one interview with WPTV NewsChannel 5, Ryan sought to reassure Cuban-Americans in South Florida that despite voting to lift the embargo against Cuba in 2001 and 2004 -- he has since supported the embargo -- he and Romney would maintain a hard line against the Communist regime.

"One of my best friends in Congress is Mario Diaz-Balart. I'm also good friends with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. And, I've had some great meetings with them -- briefings from them -- over the last number of years about how important it is to make sure we stare down the Castro regime and we do nothing that helps embolden the Castro regime," he said.

Cuba Exports Corruption and Mismanagement

Excerpts from The Miami Herald:

Venezuelan state governor: Cuba inefficient at managing ports, food distribution

A Venezuelan state governor says that Cuba’s central role in overseeing the Venezuelan food distribution and ports is contributing to shortages.

Hugo Chávez’s government has granted Cuba key concessions in Venezuela’s food distribution system by making the island its purchasing agent abroad as well as its seaport manager — activities that represent a fabulous business for the Castro brothers while generating more scarcity and huge losses for Venezuela.

The governor of the state of Carabobo, Henrique Salas Feo, said that a great part of the problems of scarcity and cost of living increases in Venezuela could be attributed to the corruption of people close to its government and Cuba’s inefficiency managing the facilities at Puerto Cabello.

“Puerto Cabello is the entry gate to Venezuela; it handles 80 percent of everything that enters or leaves the country, but since the Cubans took over, things are getting worse by the day, which is affecting Venezuelans’ daily life,” Salas said in a telephone interview with El Nuevo Herald [...]

The situation created by expropriations, the strict currency exchange control and the system that controls pricing is leading Venezuela to go abroad to acquire basic consumer products.

The Chávez administration has also granted concessions to Cuban enterprises to acquire products abroad, a situation that lends itself to corruption.

“[The Cubans] control everything that comes in and goes out. We are importing meat from Nicaragua. Yet often that container does not come from Nicaragua and it is subject to a triangulation whereby a Cuban food enterprise buys the meat at a certain price and later sells it to Venezuela at a higher price,” Salas said.

The governor said there are no practical reasons for Venezuela to grant Cuba the business of purchasing its food abroad. “They are bleeding the country dry,” he said.

Puerto Cabello was transferred to Cuban hands in 2009 after Chávez took away the management of the port facilities from the regional government to hand it to Puertos del Alba, a joint company that is 51 percent owned by Venezuela and 49 percent by the Castro regime.

Journalists Play Cat-and-Mouse in Cuba

Here's why there are dozens of news stories this morning about Diana Nyad's latest attempt to undertake a free, competitive and protected swim from Cuba to Florida, but none on the dozens of Ladies in White beaten and arrested for trying to peacefully congregate.

By Wim Jansen in Radio Netherlands:

Reporting from under the Cuban radar

September 1979. There’s a struggle just outside the doors of the pompous Hotel Nacional in Havana. Trapped between two heavies, Dutch journalist Dick Verkijk is being hustled to a waiting car. As the threesome passed close to me, Verkijk called out: “Wim, they’re throwing me out of the country. Call the embassy!” And that was it. Gone. Straight to the airport.

Cold war

It was the middle of the Cold War when I travelled to Cuba for the first time. A young, inexperienced journalist, I was pleasantly surprised to be granted a visa to attend a conference of the Non-Aligned Movement. A visa I was eager to make use of to produce a series of reports about life in the land of Fidel Castro.

I was greeted by a friendly lady at the international press centre when I went to pick up my accreditation. Who was I going to interview? And did I want to interview a minister? Fidel Castro perhaps? My mouth fell open. Would that really be possible? With a friendly smile, she assured me she’d do her best ‘just for me’. Later I heard that the same special offer was made to all 800 journalists who’d come to the Communist island. In the end, not one of us was granted an interview with either El Commandante himself or one of his ministers.

Smiling critics

That wasn’t a problem for my newspaper. My editors wanted stories about ordinary Cubans: how do they get by? Are they happy with Russia’s support? Do they really hate America? Even though my journalist’s visa was officially only valid for the conference, I was able to move about fairly freely. I spoke to Cubans queueing in front of a shop whose shelves were bare, to a teacher at a primary school where I just wandered in off the street and to a forklift driver down on the docks. Cubans aren’t scared to talk and will cloak their criticisms in jokes and humour.

After that first trip, the Cuban embassy in The Hague informed me they were disappointed in me. I had broken the rules, and I would not be getting another visa. Five years later, that ban had obviously got lost somewhere in the filing cabinets, and my annual request was suddenly met with approval.

Duty to complain

I’ve now made seven trips to Cuba (including one visit as a tourist with my family). After each one, I’d get complaints either directly or indirectly that I hadn’t stuck to my officially approved programme or that I’d snuck off and talked to dissidents. “But you must understand that as a journalist I have to tell all sides of a story” I’d say to the embassy official. “And you must understand that as a diplomat it’s my duty to complain about it” the attaché would reply.

In all honesty, I love reporting from Cuba despite the cat-and-mouse game with the authorities. Once you have a visa, you can move about relatively freely, flying under the radar of the international press centre. You just have to be reasonably discreet - don’t take any crusading attitudes and don’t express your own opinions too loudly. Ignore that advice and you may find yourself being forcibly escorted to the airport by a couple of anonymous heavies.

Regime Violence Against Women and Minors

The Castro regime has arrested 14 women, 6 men and 5 minors for participating in a peaceful gathering of the Ladies in White in the eastern city of Holguin.

Yesterday, police and paramilitary operatives threw rocks at the participants, beat the women, confiscated books and DVDs and dragged them to jail.

More "reform" you can't believe in.