Ted Cruz on Cuba Policy

Saturday, October 20, 2012
Tweet from Ted Cruz, Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Texas, and soon-to-be the third Cuban-American in the U.S. Senate.

From Last Night's Texas Senate Debate

From The Texas Tribune:

Final topic of the night: foreign policy.

The first question was about what happens if Fidel Castro dies. Should the trade embargo be lifted?

[Republican nominee Ted] Cruz said Castro’s brother is also a “tyrant” and that America’s Cuba policy shouldn’t be changed until Cuba stops being “a totalitarian state.”

An uncharacteristically succinct [Democrat nominee Paul] Sadler said he agreed with Cruz.

“There are reasons why the embargo is in place and I just agree with him,” Sadler said.

Castro's Cynical Migration Logic

From Investors Business Daily's Editorial Board:

Cuba Liberalizing Exit Visas? Get Ready For Mariel II

The media were quick to praise Cuba's "liberalizing" move to scrap exit visas for Cubans who want out. In reality, all the signs are pointing to a Cuba raring to dump a new wave of refugees onto U.S. shores.

The communist government announced Tuesday that an exit visa would no longer be required for most Cubans to leave the country as of Jan. 14. The media's instant reaction was that the move was another sign of liberalization under the helm of Raul Castro, who wants to patch things up with Cuba's vast diaspora of emigres.

Likelier, it was the resurrection of an old tactic the Castro brothers have employed in the past — unleashing thousands of refugees onto the U.S. as they did in 1980 during the Mariel boatlift and in 1994 — as a means of avoiding an Arab Spring against their failed 53-year-old regime.

The details pretty well tell that story.

Can a potentially desirable immigrant, such as a doctor, scientist or military man, pack up and head for Miami? Nope. The law prohibits such talent the right to leave on "national security" grounds.

Can dissidents get out? No. The Castro regime says exit visas are no longer needed, but passports are — and the Cuban government can deny those to anyone it wants. So any dissident can still be stopped.

That pretty well leaves working-class Cubans, and for this group, Cuba has sweetened its deal, letting them keep citizenship, rent out their houses and visit at least once every two years. Obviously, Cuba wants them to keep ties to the island, which in its own logic means hard currency from cash remittances.

Cuba's $18 billion economy takes in $1 billion in remittances now, and that could rise with a new wave.

Don't get us wrong. We're happy some Cubans are getting the right to travel. But we're not naive.

Cuba's paralyzed economy has slowed below state planning goals to 2.7% GDP growth. Imports have plunged over 50% in four years, and Cuba's sugar daddy, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, is seriously ill.

By Castro's cynical logic, what better than to have friendly emigrants bail him out with Uncle Sam's benefit cash? Bet on Cuba's regime knowing this.

FARC's Favorite Congressman Wants Closer Castro Ties

Friday, October 19, 2012
U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) has penned an oped in Politico asking for the U.S. to unconditionally normalize ties with the Castro regime.

This shouldn't come as a surprise.

Many will remember McGovern as the U.S. Congressman whose name was all-over the hard drive of Raul Reyes, the commander of the Colombian narco-terrorist group, FARC.

And not in a good way.

As the Wall Street Journal wrote at the time, "Mr. McGovern has been working with an American go-between, who has been offering the rebels help in undermining Colombia's elected and popular government."

McGovern led the opposition to the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.  His opposition was almost exclusively based on human rights considerations.

So surely his Cuba oped expressed concern over the continuous human rights violations of the Castro regime?

Not once.

Instead, he writes the "differences" between the U.S. and Cuba are simply that:

"We don’t agree about economic freedoms, or about how elections should be conducted; we don’t agree about the Middle East, Iran or any number of other foreign policy issues."

Forget the fact that Castro is the sole remaining dictator in the Western Hemisphere; that his regime beats, imprisons and tortures democracy advocates, independent journalists and labor activists on a daily basis; and that it violates essentially every fundamental human, civil and political right recognized under international law.

McGovern believes that such behavior merits "respectful dialogue" -- but only in the case of left-wing dictators, of course.

Remittance Firm Facilitated Medicare Fraud

Thursday, October 18, 2012
It was just a matter of time.

From The Miami Herald:

Feds: Remittance firm at center of Medicare-Cuba laundering scam

Federal prosecutors named Caribbean Transfers as the financial backer that sent millions of dollars to Cuba as part of a Medicare-fraud scheme.

An offshore remittance company called Caribbean Transfers financed a complex money-laundering ring that moved more than $30 million in stolen Medicare money from South Florida into Cuba’s banking system, federal authorities said Thursday.

The revelation surfaced in the widening case of a now-convicted check-cashing store owner who was first believed to be at the center of the federal case. It marked the first time that investigators traced tainted Medicare proceeds to Cuba’s state-controlled bank.

Now, Caribbean Transfers appears to have played the dominant role in the unprecedented money-laundering scheme.

Here's What Castro Has Come To

Can it get any more pathetic?

Castro looks to Europe's last dictatorship for its "modernization."

From Charter 97:

Belarus will share the secret of «success» in the economy with Cuba

Belarus is ready to take an active part in the modernization of the Cuban economy, said Alexander Lukashenko.

He made the statement as he met with Mr Marino Murillo, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, on 18 October.

Alexander Lukashenko remarked the visit of the Cuban delegation to Belarus was aimed at developing the arrangements made by the two heads of state during a recent visit of the Belarus President to Cuba. "We have agreed that a Cuban delegation will arrive in Belarus and we will discuss all the matters the head of the delegation will raise," said he.

"I know that Cuba’s leadership is interested in development avenues and the reformation system of our economy. I’ve promised Raoul Castro that we will show everything and will tell everything we are doing in Belarus. If this or that prospect appeals to you, we will definitely take part in implementing it in the Cuban territory similarly to how we do it in Venezuela," remarked Alexander Lukashenko.

Great Start to FARC Negotiations

From AP:

The [Colombian] government's lead negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, sought to set a businesslike, cordial tone in brief remarks at a joint news conference at a lakeside hotel north of Oslo. He said the government seeks "mutual dignified treatment" in the talks and doesn't expect the sides to see eye-to-eye ideologically.

His opposite number from the Western Hemisphere's last remaining major insurgency, Ivan Marquez, said the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, had come to Oslo "with an olive branch."

Then he began railing against Colombia's "corrupt oligarchy," its alleged masters in Washington, "state-sponsored violence," the government's "deceptive and backward" land policies, and the "vampires" of transnational oil and mining that FARC says are ravaging the nation.

"We want to denounce the crime of capitalism and neo-liberalism," Marquez said during a 35-minute discourse that denounced some companies and individuals by name, including a cousin of President Juan Manuel Santos and a relative of 1 of the government negotiators.

Clarification on CNBC Story: Hedge Funds and Cuba

Yesterday, CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, who is a great journalist, reported (read full article here) on U.S. hedge funds seeking to purchase Cuban debt defaulted on by the Castro dictatorship.

Currently, U.S. sanctions prohibit persons and corporations subject to U.S. jurisdiction from such Cuba-related transactions.

But some U.S. hedge funds are now bringing out their best lawyers and lobbyists to persuade the Treasury Department (OFAC) to allow them to do so.

In the CNBC article, I was correctly quoted as expressing opposition:

"Mauricio Claver-Carone, Executive Director of Cuba Democracy Advocates and the U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC, said Cuban American members of Congress do not want to allow hedge funds to buy defaulted Cuban debt, because they fear it will give ammunition to the US agricultural community which wants to extend credit to Cuba.

Currently under U.S. law, the agricultural community is exempt from the embargo when selling foodstuff to Cuba, however, the Cuban government must pay cash up front. The agricultural community has long lobbied for that to change.

'It would send a horrible policy message,' Claver-Carone said."

However, the following was misconstrued:

"Additionally, Claver-Carone said, Cuban-American legislators’ first priority, in the event of normalized relations, will be compensation for the seized property of Cuban exiles now living in the United States.

Supporting hedge funds’ purchases of the defaulted debt might risk their standing with constituents who see the funds as competing with the future funds available for compensation."

Thus, allow me to clarify the position I stated:

Fist and foremost, it would be up to a future and freely-elected sovereign government of Cuba to decide how to handle the debt issue, which has been tragically compounded by the Castro regime during these last 50 years.

From a U.S. perspective, the claims by all U.S. nationals (not just Cuban exiles) of property illegally confiscated by the Castro regime should not be subordinate to the irresponsible debts of this dictatorship, which some hedge funds now want to speculate and profit from.

Finally, while it is true that owning such debt would not currently fund the Castro regime, the argument by hedge funds that it would actually "give the the U.S. a seat at some future negotiating table" is misleading.

The U.S. will already have a seat at such a table, as it holds the key to Cuba's access to international developments banks. According to U.S. law, the U.S. must oppose Cuba's access to these institutions until a free and democratically elected government is chosen by its people. We've all seen how corrupt dictatorships misuse and misappropriate such funds.

Moreover, if the primary interest of these hedge funds was to expedite the goal of a free and democratic Cuba, then perhaps. But hedge funds have a legal obligation to their investors to create value and profit. Thus, these hedge funds are more likely want to see the Castro regime enrich itself, with the hopes that it would pay these debts off.

As Caruso-Cabrera writes in a follow-up article today:

"Owners of this debt are optimistic that if President Obama is reelected, he will loosen up restrictions on trade with Cuba, as he would no longer need to worry about reelection."

And their worst nightmare would be what all Cubans should hope for:

That the international community write-down this debt to help a future free and democratic Cuba reconstruct itself from the five-decade totalitarian nightmare it has been subjected to.

Fact-Checking Castro's Hypocrisy

By Jon Perdue in The Washington Times:

What Fidel Castro’s Nazi recruits says about the Left

Fact-checking communist hypocrisy

Though he appears to have taken a break from his writing, Fidel Castro utilized one of his last “Reflections” columns to commemorate “The 67th Anniversary of the Victory over Nazi Fascism.” In it, he offered congratulations to the Russian people, saying that, because the Soviets under Stalin had fought so hard to preserve Communism, they were able to “crush the invaders who wished to impose a thousand years of Nazism and holocaust on all humanity.”

The aging dictator has shown confusion in the past when applying the Nazi and holocaust labels. Two years earlier, he outraged many of the typically sympathetic members of the UN Human Rights Council meeting when he declared that the “Fuhrer’s swastika is today Israel’s banner,” adding: “The hatred felt by the state of Israel against the Palestinians is such that they would not hesitate to send the one and a half million men, women and children of that country to the crematoria where millions of Jews of all ages were exterminated by the Nazis.”

Castro’s calumny is standard fare in the professionally practiced anti-semitism of today’s far-left propaganda, which tries to portray its ideological roots as antithetical and in opposition to Nazism and fascism, which it portrays as occupying the right side of the political spectrum. This has always been a false dichotomy, rooted more in historical schisms that occurred before World War II and the ideological turf-wrangling that took place after.

A story published last week in Germany’s Die Welt puts to rest this false dichotomy, proving that it is extremism itself, rather than the edifying tenets of particular extremist ideologies, that drives radical leaders to murder and oppress their own people, even as they proclaim it a necessary evil to reach the promised paradise of their particular ideology.

According to Die Welt, newly uncovered documents from the German intelligence agency BND show that Fidel Castro actively recruited former Nazi paramilitary officers to train his revolutionary army in 1962, and offered salaries four times higher than these former Nazis would have received in Germany to come to Havana to impart their know-how.

According to the declassified documents, the BND believed that Castro’s entreaties “Clearly showed that Cuban Revolutionary Army personnel had little fear of contact with our Nazi past when it served their own cause.” The report further states that four former Nazis had accepted the offer, and confirmed that two of the Nazi trainers actually made it to the island to begin work.

Castro apparently didn’t stop at purchasing the services of Nazi paramilitary trainers. According to the documents, Castro sought out the services of two renowned Nazi operatives, Otto Ernst Remer and Ernst-Wilhelm Springer, to help the Cuban government purchase 4000 Belgian machine guns.

Revelations such as these about the inter-relations between what are normally touted as the far-left and far-right are bound to continue. In May 2007, a group of German scientists and engineers unveiled the “E-Puzzler,” the “world’s most sophisticated pattern recognition system,” which could process at record speed the torn and shredded Stasi files that had been partially destroyed by the East German agents as the Berlin Wall was falling in 1989. E-Puzzler has since reconstructed millions of once-secret files, revealing much of the collaboration between disparate extremist groups who sought logistical assistance for their own operations, regardless of the ideology of their co-partners.

Out of this torrent of reconstructed dossiers and documents has also come the revelation that arch-anticapitalist Fidel Castro had filled his pockets and those of his cronies with dollars generated by using the gulag labor of political prisoners. As the Miami Herald reported in May, a cooperation agreement was established in 1987 between IKEA and Fidel Castro to utilize Cuban prison labor to build furniture for the company.

After the initial report, a Cuban defector presented evidence that he had been part of a film crew for the Castro regime that was tasked with going inside the prisons to shoot a promo for Cuba’s gulag capitalism and what it could offer foreign companies looking for cheap labor that wouldn’t complain about the long hours.

Though it has always been known to all but the foolish that the Castro dictatorship was a living perfidy, the internet age has provided more of these real time revelations than normal. Historically, most of the secrets of despots are interred with their bones. But after half a century in power, one runs up a large list of sins to hide.

It remains to be seen whether further revelations that Fidel practices “communism for thee, capitalism for me,” or that he has been just as welcoming to Nazis as he has been to communists, will change the minds of those who may remain ambivalent.

Today on "From Washington al Mundo"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Tune in today to "From Washington al Mundo" for reaction on the foreign policy aspects of last night's Presidential debate with the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).

And Dr. Derek Scissors of The Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Center will discuss the role of China in this year's Presidential election.  He previously served as China economist at Intelligence Research, a global consulting firm.

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).

Amid Distractions, a New Political Prisoner

While the media remains distracted with Raul's re-shuffling of his exit restrictions, the Castro regime has handed a new prisoner of conscience a 2 1/2 year sentence.

Rafael Matos Montes de Oca of the pro-democracy Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) was condemned to 2/12 years in prison for "preemptive social dangerousness."

That's another one of those repressive "laws" that advocates of normalizing relations with the Castro regime absurdly want us to "respect."

Matos is the third member of UNPACU to be handed a long prison sentence this month for this blatantly political "crime."

The other two are Emilio Plana Robert and Reinaldo Castillo Martínez.

Quote of the Day

Let's start with the obvious: the exit permit is now a stamp from the MININT (Ministry of the Interior) on the passport.  From that angle, the reform is a farce because the government maintains control over something that should be a fundamental right for all Cubans.  'Behave or you will not be allowed to leave' is what is read between the lines.
-- Ernesto Hernandez Busto, editor of the blog Penultimos Dias, on the Castro regime's announced "reform" of its exit visa requirements, 10/17/12

New Travel Rule is Old Tactic

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
By Fabiola Santiago in The Miami Herald:

New travel law just another survival tactic for Castro

Once again, the Cuban government is vying to unleash another mass exodus on the United States.

With the announcement Tuesday in the official newspaper Granma of the elimination of the government-issued exit visa required for Cubans to travel abroad, the Castro dictatorship is following a familiar script.

Providing an escape route to the growing opposition and the discontented has been a superb survival strategy for more than five decades of totalitarian rule.

In 1980, Fidel Castro announced the opening of the port of Mariel to the disaffected who had stormed the Peruvian embassy in Havana desperate to leave the island, and he sent the message to exiles in Miami that they could pick up relatives as well. Some 125,000 Cubans — among them criminals and mental patients Castro forced on the boats — arrived in South Florida in five months.

In the summer of 1994, Castro announced that authorities wouldn’t stand in the way of Cubans seeking to leave and looked the other way as people built homemade rafts. Some 35,000 sailed across the Florida Straits, and after months-long stays in tent-city camps set up by the Clinton administration in Guantanamo, they were processed and flown here.

And now comes Raúl Castro, re-inventing his brother’s sure-footed strategy to send the enemy into exile — and relieve the pressure on the government to undertake meaningful reforms — by making it easier for the disenchanted masses to leave while retaining control of who travels.

While this may seem a blessing to a people without hope, when Cuba talks “immigration reform” and “new travel measures,” only one thing is certain: There will be major — and unfavorable — implications for the United States, particularly for South Florida.

Clues to Cuba’s intentions are in the details of the new rules.

They exempt medical professionals, scientists, and other desirable skilled would-be emigrants, and the military. They sweeten the offer to the Revolution-bred masses by assuring them that they would be welcomed back to Cuba and could retain their resident benefits as long as they return every two years.

In other words, travel to the mythical Miami, city with streets paved in exile gold; become a resident after a year under the Cuban Adjustment Act and be eligible for U.S. benefits; send thousands of dollars and goods to Cuba; come vacation in Varadero — and even collect a few pesos (those $20-a-month Cuban pensions), rent or sell your home and keep your old Lada.

“This is a way to get rid of Cuba’s population because they cannot meet the economic needs of the people,” says Andy S. Gomez, senior fellow at the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. “They do it with bad intentions. They know that the young people of Cuba are looking for any opportunity to leave the country…. As a young woman told me in Santiago de Cuba, ‘Anywhere but here.’”

It’s also no accident that the new travel rules are timed to go into effect on Jan. 13, days from the U.S. presidential inauguration.

No matter who wins the election, Cuban officials will be able to peddle their brand of truth to the Cuban people — particularly the disenchanted youth — that it’s not their government prohibiting travel, but the imperialist monster to the North. Another ploy to force their way into the American agenda.

If the Cuban government had anything but its prolonged survival in mind, that loathed exit-visa requirement dubbed by Cubans “the white card” would never have existed.

Cubans like independent journalist Yoani Sánchez would not have to ask for permission to attend a professional conference or to accept a prize even as the servile privileged, like Raúl Castro’s daughter Mariela travel as they desire. They would have been free to travel and return to their homeland, no big deal.

But travel control has always been used as a weapon of submission: Support the government or claim you’re apolitical and get permission to travel.

The new measures also control, but via passports.

“Looks like the Cuban government reserves the right to decide who leaves the country with the requirement that they have to update passports,” tweeted Rosa María Payá, the daughter of the late dissident leader Oswaldo Payá. She has not been allowed to travel to the Vatican to meet with the Pope, despite his official invitation.

“Although I have a passport, it wouldn’t do me any good with the new law,” blogger Sánchez also tweeted. “I would have to ask for another subjected to denial.”

They know their government well.

Language in the new travel rules note exemptions for “defense and national security,” meaning that dissidents remain as they are — without any rights.

Because anything short of real change is only another tactic for a regime gasping for fresh air — and survival dollars from the United States.

Another Victim of Castro's Power Plays

From The Washington Post's Editorial Board:

A pawn in Cuba’s power game
 
ANGEL CARROMERO, a 26-year-old youth leader in Spain’s ruling Popular Party, was the driver of a car that ran off a rural road in Cuba and crashed on July 22, killing one of the country’s leading dissidents, Oswaldo Payá, as well as another activist. Mr. Carromero denies he was at fault; a surviving passenger, a young Swedish activist, has said that “it’s wrong to accuse” him of culpability. The families of the two dissidents agree and declined to press charges against him.

Nonetheless, on Oct. 5 a Cuban court convicted the Spaniard of vehicular homicide. On Monday, he was sentenced to four years in prison. Mr. Payá‘s family was excluded from the brief trial; 42 dissidents were detained on the day it was held. The blogger Yoani Sanchez, who had driven to the town of Bayamo in order to cover it, was arrested and jailed for 30 hours.

Why did Cuban authorities respond in this way to what they describe as a one-car accident? Mr. Payá’s widow believes she knows the answer: The authorities, she charges, are trying to cover up what really happened in the crash. Family members have received accounts that the sedan Mr. Carromero was driving may have been forced off the road by another vehicle. They have called for an independent investigation with international ­involvement.

Spanish observers have their own suspicions. The regime of Raúl Castro, they say, is likely seeking to punish the ruling Spanish party for supporting the Cuban opposition. In a news conference orchestrated by Cuban authorities, Mr. Carromero and the Swedish activist said they had brought money for Mr. Payá and were helping to organize a youth movement.

Mr. Carromero’s sentence will come as no surprise to the family of Alan Gross, an American development contractor who has been a prisoner in Cuba since 2009. Mr. Gross was arrested for supplying computer equipment to Cuba’s tiny Jewish community under a U.S. aid program. Sentenced to 15 years, he has become a pawn in a gambit by the Castro regime to secure the return of five acknowledged Cuban spies who were captured and convicted of espionage in the United States.

Mr. Carromero may be in prison as a way of preventing the true story of Mr. Payá’s death from emerging, as his family believes. Or he may be a victim of a crude attempt by the Castro regime to extort concessions from the Spanish government. Spain is still attempting to obtain Mr. Carromero’s release — just as the Obama administration has tried, so far in vain, to free Mr. Gross without meeting the regime’s demands.

What’s sure is that Mr. Carromero should not be in prison because of Mr. Payá’s death. That he is offers a clear answer to those who wonder whether the Castro regime is changing for the better.

Perhaps Fidel's Death Imminent After All

Last week, rumors swirled that Fidel Castro had died.

Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocaranda even suggested that Castro was on life support and that the regime was making preparations for an announcement.

The 72-hour timeline Bocaranda announced last week has since passed, but he's sticking to his story and sources.

However, today's announcement by the Castro regime's newspaper, Granma, that it is going to eliminate the "white card" exit permit, theoretically supports this claim.

Of course, the exit permit announcement is just a "switcheroo" -- if you read the fine print, the regime is simply planning to eliminate the physical "white card" but pass on the exit restrictions and fees to the passport process.

An old "bait and switch" scam.

However, it's sure to calm tensions among the Cuban people, who (sadly) see leaving the country as their only hope and solution.

Thus, calming the mood of the populace -- perhaps for an imminent announcement on Fidel's death?

Don't Forget the Fine Print on Raul's "Reforms"

The Castro regime -- like Assad, Obiang and most other dictators -- seeks to buy itself time by propagating the narrative of "reform."

Because, of course, decades of brutal rule were somehow distractions to their "real" intentions all along.

Sadly, the media echoes this narrative.

But don't forget to read the fine print at the end.

For example, this morning CNN reports:

"Starting next year, Cubans traveling abroad will face fewer hurdles leaving the country.

The official news site Granma reported Tuesday that the Cuban government will no longer require a travel permit and a letter of invitation.

The move is part of the reforms that President Raul Castro promised when he took office in 2008."

But don't forget the fine print:

"The new change, however, does not mean that anyone wanting to travel will get a passport.

'The ordinary passport will be issued to the Cuban citizens who meet the requirements of the Migration Law,' which is being modified, according to the report in Granma.

While the report does not say how the law will be altered, it does add that the government will fight brain -- and money -- drain 'from the aggressive and subversive plans of the US government and its allies.' It will do so by leaving in place measures to preserve 'human capital created by the Revolution from the theft of talents practiced by the powerful nations.'"

In other words, nothing is really changing, other than the verbiage.

Last week, the BBC ran a similar narrative on Raul's housing "reforms."

The headline read: "Cuban property market booms after limited reforms"

But after a long story, full of the usual dicta, it concludes at the very end:

"While anecdotal evidence points to a boom in property sales, official statistics from January to August only record about 15,000 transactions, while the number of property donations is twice that."

Turns out it was all "anecdotal".

Cuba Business Question on the Ballot

From Local 10:

Cuba business question on the ballot

Miami-Dade voters: Should companies with Cuba connections get county contracts?

Among the questions on the multi-page ballot this November, voters in Miami-Dade will be asked whether they favor banning county business with companies that do business in or with Cuba.

The non-binding, straw ballot question is essentially a poll. Such a ban is meant to starve the economic engines of Fidel Castro's half-century old revolution.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban Bovo sponsored the question and his colleagues voted to add it to the ballot.

“I thought it was a good idea just to pose the question to the voters, 'Is this an issue or not?' as we make policy decisions,” said Bovo. “It also bleeds into an issue of survivability of the Cuban government and propping it up."

Last May, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a law banning million dollar state business with companies that do business with Cuba and Syria, both considered country’s with state-sponsored terrorism. At the same time, Scott stipulated that the law is not enforceable without federal action.

Of the 200 companies that might be affected by such future action, Coral Gables-based Odebrecht USA is arguably the one with the most to lose.

Odebrecht has been awarded multi-million dollar county construction projects. Its parent company, based in Brazil, has other business entities that are renovating Cuba’s Port of Mariel.

In response, Odebrecht has filed a lawsuit contesting the state law.

Even before the Governor signed the law, Miami-Dade's county attorney notified commissioners that the law is unenforceable.

A similar Miami-Dade County resolution was overturned a decade ago in federal court.

What a Surprise: Carromero Found Guilty

Monday, October 15, 2012
Note that in Castro's Cuba -- where the regime is judge, jury and executioner -- verdicts and prison sentences are announced through "a state-run Web site."

From AP:

A court sentenced a Spanish man to four years in prison for his role as the driver in a car crash that killed the dissident Oswaldo Payá, the authorities announced Monday.

A state-run Web site said the Spaniard, Ángel Carromero Barrios, was found guilty of the equivalent of vehicular manslaughter in a July 22 crash near Bayamo that killed Mr. Payá and another dissident, Harold Cepero. Mr. Carromero and a Swedish passenger, Aron Modig, both activists in their own countries, had traveled to Cuba to meet and offer support for Cuban dissidents.

Today on "From Washington al Mundo"

Tune in today to "From Washington al Mundo" for a conversation with Thor Halvorssen, President and CEO of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) and founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum, on HRF's latest campaigns on China, Equitorial Guinea, Pakistan and Venezuela.

And Jeffrey Tayler, contributing editor and Russia correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, discusses the punk rock group Pussy Riot and the future of Russia's protest movement in light of this weekend's local elections.  Tayler is also author of Facing the Congo, Siberian Dawn and Angry Wind, the latter being a portrait of a journey through the Muslim portion of black Africa.

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).

Disturbing Quote of the Week

The Cuban revolutionary army had no qualms about working with personnel who had ties to Nazism, as long as it served their objectives.
-- Bodo Hechelhammer, chief of historical investigations at the Bundesnachrichtendienst (Federal Intelligence Service, BND), Die Welt, 10/12/12

Castro Arrests 22 Ladies in White

Sunday, October 14, 2012
From AFP:

Cuban authorities have arrested at least 22 members of Cuba's dissident Ladies in White as they planned to mark one year since the death of their former leader, the group's new chief said Sunday.

Berta Soler said the women have been detained since Saturday to keep them from celebrating the one-year anniversary of Laura Pollan's death. But she vowed to keep up the pressure against the Communist regime.

"We will march despite repression by the Cuban government," said the group's new head, Berta Soler. "The Ladies in White are in mourning but also strong."

Soler said she had reports of at least 12 arrests in Havana, six in Villa Clara and four in Matanzas.


Repressive Image of the Day

Aime Cabrales, a member of the Ladies in White, being arrested for trying to attend a peaceful gathering honoring the one-year anniversary of the death of the group's leader, Laura Pollan:


Courtesy of Cuban blogger Orlando Luis Pardo.

The Havana Model of Intimidation

By Robert Cox in The Buenos Aires Herald:

Warning signal from Venezuela

The harassment in Venezuela of Jorge Lanata, the journalist who has become an unofficial leader of the political opposition to the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is more significant than it might seem at first sight.

Lanata, who was travelling with a camera crew to cover the presidential elections for the Clarín Group, was detained for questioning by state intelligence agents both going into and out of Caracas. The procedures used to harass him and his colleagues are familiar, reminding me of the time when I travelled to Cuba to represent a human rights non-governmental organization at a United Nations conference in Havana.

Upon arrival, I had my first encounter with the men from the Minint, the somewhat sinister name given to the Ministry of Interior. They wanted to send me back to Miami. But as a condition for holding the conference in Havana, which gave Castro-Communist Cuba a token of international prestige, the United Nations secured a guarantee that everyone from organizations affiliated with the UN must be allowed into Cuba to attend the conference. A journalist who travelled on the same plane was sent back because his US passport revealed that he had been born in Cuba.

Once in Cuba, I was followed and harassed in ways both picaresque and menacing. A colleague from the human rights organization got the jitters and left early.

When I finally left Havana my bags were searched and my notes and documents reporting the human rights situation were seized at the José Martí international airport.

It was routine police state procedure and it was exactly what Lanata and the other Grupo Clarín journalists were subjected to at the Simón Bolívar airport in Caracas. (How galling it is that two countries that restrict freedom of expression have airports named after genuine advocates for freedom.) Lanata, José Gil Vidal and Nicolás Wiñazki, of Clarín, and Gabriel Conte, editor of MDZOL, a digital newspaper in Mendoza, were given special attention by secret police who erased their reportage from their electronic equipment, alleging espionage, a charge that was not followed up.

The significance of this quasi-totalitarian attempt to restrict freedom of information by the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service is that it is an indication of what could happen in Argentina if President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner should decide to imitate her friend President Hugo Chávez by trying to silence dissident voices and establish state control of the media.

Remembering Laura Pollan

On this one-year anniversary of her death -- under still unclear circumstances -- we honor the courage, vision and trajectory of the leader of Cuba's pro-democracy group, The Ladies in White, Laura Pollan:


In My Humble Opinion, Pt. 39

From The Naples Daily News:

While the economy, government spending and foreign policy are commonly top issues for Cuban-American voters, for some, America's relationship with Cuba remains a hot-button topic.

Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, a nonpartisan group supporting candidates who back Cuba's pro-democracy movement, noted Obama could face criticism for some well-intentioned Cuba policies. Obama has allowed more travel into Cuba and let family members move money and goods into the island for relatives — decisions that some say have enriched Castro and increased repression there.

"No one opposes humanitarian support to your family," Claver-Carone said. "But now, you're seeing a huge influx of capital and non-humanitarian goods, like flat-screen TVs. And what's the regime doing about it? Cashing in, starting these new import taxes.

"The regime essentially finds a way to milk our policy."

3 Lucky, 13 Unlucky Defectors

From UPI:

At least three Cuban national soccer players defected while in Toronto for a World Cup qualifier match against Canada, officials confirm.

Meanwhile, from CNN:

Two people drowned and at least 11 went missing, when a raft bearing 23 refugees from Cuba sank off the coast of Isla de Mujeres, near Cancun, Mexico Friday, according to immigration authorities.