WaPo: Spain Has "Universal" Obligation to Pursue Paya's Death

Saturday, August 31, 2013
From The Washington Post's Editorial Board:

Spain’s ‘universal’ obligation to pursue Cuban dissident’s death

The mysterious car wreck that took the life of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payáand his associate Harold Cepero last year occurred on an isolated road outside Bayamo, in Cuba’s eastern Granma province. Mr. Payáand Mr. Cepero were heading to Bayamo to meet with members of the Christian Liberation Movement in a blue 2010 Hyundai Accent, a rental car driven by a young Spanish politician, Ángel Carromero, who was visiting Cuba to support Mr. Payá and his movement. Mr. Carromero survived, as did Jens Aron Modig, of Sweden’s Christian Democratic Youth movement, who had joined him on the trip to Cuba.

The official Cuban version of the accident was that Mr. Carromero was driving too fast, lost control and hit a tree. But a detailed complaint filed by Mr. Paya’s widow, Ofelia Acevedo, and his daughter, Rosa Maria, before the Spanish National Court earlier this month tells a different and more ominous story.

They say that when Mr. Carromero and Mr. Modig met in Havana with Mr. Payá and Mr. Cepero on July 20, 2012, they were monitored and followed by Cuban security agents. They were followed again when they departed Havana for Bayamo two days later. On the road, the Hyundai was rammed from behind “premeditatively, deliberately and following the plan orchestrated by the authorities,” which was to kill all four of them, the complaint says. Mr. Carromero told us in March that the vehicle that rammed the Hyundai had government license places. Soon after the crash, the ramming was reported to a person in Sweden by a text message sent from Modig’s cell phone.

The ramming was not part of the Cuban official version. Mr. Carromero’s “confession” that he was at fault was coerced by the Cuban authorities, according to the complaint. Two Cuban security agents, identified as Col. Salinas and Col. Llanes, pressured Mr. Carromero “in a direct, deliberate and conscious way” to falsify testimony during a subsequent trial that was a “farce,” according to the complaint. Mr. Carromero was convicted of vehicular homicide; he later was released to serve out his sentence in Spain. In his comments to us, Mr. Carromero recalled a nightmarish aftermath of the crash in which he was drugged, interrogated and forced to make a videotaped confession in which he read words written out for him by a Cuban security agent.

The Spanish National Court, La Audiencia Nacional, is empowered to order investigations abroad under the concept of “universal jurisdiction,” that some crimes are so egregious they must be pursued across borders, including genocide and crimes against humanity. Spain has an obligation to Mr. Payá, who was a Spanish citizen; his family argues the Castro regime has not only silenced a critic but attempted to wipe out his movement. The Spanish court ought to order an investigation. It is unlikely that the thugs who rammed Mr. Payá’s car will be called to account, but an investigation would show the world, and the Castro brothers who rule Cuba, that a beacon of hope like Mr. Payá cannot be simply extinguished in a violent car wreck on a lonely road.

Cuban General Dead, North Korean General Purged -- Coincidence?

Friday, August 30, 2013
Is investigative reporting dead?

Earlier this week, the head of the Cuban Air Force, General Pedro Mendiondo Gomez, died in a mysterious car wreck.

And today, North Korea's Army Chief, General Kim Kyok-sik, was mysteriously purged and disappeared.

General Mendiondo was the chief of Cuba's air force and air-defense systems. U.N. inspectors had just sought permission to travel to Havana to interview him regarding the shipment of Cuban fighter jets and anti-missile defense systems caught being smuggled to North Korea.

Meanwhile, General Kyok-sik led the North Korean delegation to Havana earlier this summer, where this illegal smuggling deal was negotiated.

Obviously, Castro and Kim wanted these two Generals to take the fall and be silenced.

Yet, not one news story has noted this strange "coincidence."

Below is a picture of Generals Castro and Kyok-sik this summer.

Inaction Breeds Impunity in #Syria #Cuba

During today's remarks on Syria, U.S. President Barack Obama correctly stated:

"[I]t is not in the national security interest of the United States to ignore clear violations of these kinds of international norms, and the reason is because there are a whole host of international norms that are very important to us. You know, we have currently rules in place dealing with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We have international norms that have been violated by certain countries and the United Nations has put sanctions in place, but if there's a sense that, over time, nobody's willing actually to enforce them, then people don't take them seriously."

On a lesser (non-military) scale, this is also important in light of the intercepted shipment of Cuban weapons to U.N.-sanctioned North Korea, which experts believe is in clear violation of the U.N.'s arms embargo.

If the U.N. is not willing to strongly sanction the Cuban and North Korean officials and companies responsible for this breach of international law, then the U.S. should consider further sanctions.

Otherwise, these regimes will only be emboldened by impunity.

Hey Kim, Castro, Putin -- Twerk You!

By author Rick Robinson in The Daily Caller:

Someday in the not-too-distant future, a music writer will author a coffee table book entitled August, 2013, remembering this moment in time as pivotal in the history of pop culture. Glossy pictures of a misunderstood female performer will adorn slick pages filled with lofty praise in tribute to the shift she caused in the paradigm of performance art.

The book will not be about Miley Cyrus’s twerking (for us old rockers, read: dry humping), or what she did with a foam index finger at the annual MTV Music Awards.  Instead, the book will highlight the life and horrendous death of singer Hyon Sung-wol.

A South Korean newspaper reported that this week North Korea’s communist dictator, Kim Jong-un, executed a dozen members of the Unhasu Orchestra – including Jong-un’s former girlfriend, singer Hyon Sung-wol – as their relatives and musicians from three other pop bands were forced to watch. Following the firing squad, the on-lookers were all sent to concentration camps.

Didn’t catch that story on Entertainment Tonight?

Not surprising.

Which is why the public’s obsession with Miley Cyrus’ twerking instead of Hyon Sung-wol’s assassination may say more about us than it does about the teen idol formerly known to Disney Channel viewers as Hannah Montana.

North Korea’s Lunatic-in-Chief Kim Jong-un used to date singer Hyon Sung-wol, a popular singer and performer. His now-dead father, Kim Jong-il, disapproved of his son dating a woman with an I.Q. to the right of his on the x-axis and made him break off the relationship.

While the young lovers went their separate ways and married different people, rumors swirled that the two continued to have a romantic relationship – rumors that apparently upset North Korea’s First Lady. To make this story even more weird, Jong-un’s wife is also a former member of the Unhasu Orchestra.

According to reports, under pressure from his nagging wife, Kim Jong-un had Sung-wol and eleven of her fellow performers arrested and killed by a machine gun firing squad.

Instead of Miley Cyrus and her latest 15 minutes of fame, the death of Hyon Sung-wol is the story in music right now. MTV and others should be shouting it from the rooftops to build international outrage.

Yet, instead of reporting on a dozen voices that can no longer sing, the media is focusing on one that still (allegedly) can – Miley Cyrus. Since Cyrus’ lewd performance on the MTV Awards, where she stuck out her tongue often enough to be considered the female answer to KISS’ Gene Simmons, our airwaves have been filled with clips and commentary on the appropriateness of her bawdy behavior.

Maybe we’ve just come to expect this from Kim Jong-un. After all, he once killed one of his cabinet secretaries by tying her to a pole and shelling her with mortar fire. Still, this month, Hyon Sung-wol and her eleven musical martyrs were only some of the voices not singing.

Several members of the female punk rock band Pussy Riot remain in Russian jails for musically advocating a popular uprising against the government at a concert in Red Square. Apparently, a lyrical call for revolt nearly a century after the people’s revolution gets you 20 years in a Russian jail.

Down in Cuba, Castro’s thugs are still harassing Gorki Aguila, front man for Porno para Ricardo, who was violently arrested earlier this year as he attempted to release his new CD.

If you want to be outraged by music, at least show you have a soul. Pull up Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction on YouTube and play it loud. Shout out “Long Live Hyon Sung-wol.” At the top of your lungs scream, “free Pussy Riot and free Gorki.”

And the next time you hear a story about Miley Cyrus on television or radio, join me and millions of other Americans in telling the media that until they join us, they can go twerk themselves.

SOS Ivan Fernandez Deprestre

For Cuban political prisoner and hunger striker, Ivan Fernandez Deprestre:

"Black-Budget": Cuba Remains Priority for U.S. Counter-Intelligence

Thursday, August 29, 2013
Anyone who still believes NSA leaker Edward Snowden is some sort of crusader for civil liberties is delusional.

Snowden has just leaked to The Washington Post a classified 178-page budget summary (known as the "black budget") for the National Intelligence Program, which details the successes, failures and objectives of the U.S. intelligence community.

As such, he has alerted the enemies of the U.S. as to technologies, moles, counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism operations, and the "critical blind spots" of U.S. intelligence throughout the world.

None of this has anything to do with civil liberties.

Moreover, it's clear that China, Russia Iran and Cuba and other U.S. foes now have access to this information -- and probably much more.

(This is why tyrants like Fidel Castro praise Snowden).

One of the things revealed in the "black budget" is the following:

U.S. intelligence officials take an active interest in foes as well as friends. Pakistan is described in detail as an “intractable target,” and counterintelligence operations “are strategically focused against [the] priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel.” The latter is a U.S. ally but has a history of espionage attempts against the United States.

This should be a wake up call to those who believe that Cuba does not pose a threat to the U.S.

The fact remains Cuba's gathering and sharing of intelligence with fellow state-sponsors of terrorism and other U.S. foes is a threat and, henceforth, remains a priority target for U.S. counter-intelligence operations.

Castro's Economic Idiocy

Excerpt by Cuban economist Roberto Alvarez Quinones in Diario de Cuba:

In the face of overwhelming evidence of the failure of its centrally planned economy, the insistence of the Cuban dictatorship in "actualizing the socialist economic model" is an insult to human intelligence.  If a social and economic model (preferred by the founders of communism) that suppresses freedoms in order to create wealth and benefit themselves is an absurdity; then the insistence by the Castros of prioritizing the state economy and its refusal to seriously liberalize the constrained productive forces of the nation is a colossal irresponsibility -- not to mention idiocy.

It's astonishing that General Raul Castro, Colonel Marino Murillo and the rest of the creators of the so-called "reforms" keep reiterating that the objective is to strengthen the socialist economy, and that they keep highlighting the Alignments ("Lineamientos") of the last Party Congress, according to which "socialist planning will continue being the principal means of managing the economy," and will also apply to the "non-state sector."

This guiding document even states that "the concentration of property in legal persons (private businesses) or individuals will not be permitted."  In other words, nothing or no one will be able to grow and they will only foment the artisan economy of subsistence from the times of the "Advanced" (Spanish conquistador) Diego Velázquez.

Young Cubans PAC Shows Generation Gap is a Myth

By former Miami Herald reporter Elaine del Valle (known as "Ladra") in Political Cortadito:

Young Cubans’ PAC shows generation gap is a myth

I’m sick of hearing that Generation Ñ doesn’t care about the Cubans on the island, or the embargo or U.S. Cuba policy. Ladra herself had been instructed to write that “changing tide” story at the Miami Herald several times during the last few years she worked at the paper.

But it just isn’t true.

There has always been a strong second generation of Cuban Americans willing to carry on the torch that demands freedom of choice and expression on that prison island that our parents called home.

And there was proof earlier this month at the first gathering organized by the new Young Leaders Group of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, co-founded by Keith Fernandez, the former campaign staffer for Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who looks like a cubanito Huckleberry Finn. Another director of the board Carlos M. Gutierrez, Jr. is former aide to Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart.

“Young Cubans, Cuban-Americans, and Americans of Cuban descent are as concerned as their parents and grandparents about the happenings in Cuba. Every time I see a story about the supposed ‘changing community,’ be it youth or composition, my friends and I are bewildered since we know its untrue,” Fernandez told me, reading Ladra’s mind.

“We decided to do something about that fallacious perception. While we may have different touch points – many of us have not experienced a personal sense of loss – we are all committed to human rights and one day seeing a free and democratic Cuba,” said.

Somewhere around 50 people crammed into the bar at Azucar in Coral Gables on a Thursday night to hear from Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antuñez“, a political prisoner who did 17 years and 36 days time for daring to defy the Castro regime. He was impressed and encouraged by the number of young people he saw at the gathering, he said.

Experts Confirm Cuba-North Korea Breached Sanctions

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
From AFP:

The undeclared shipment of Cuban weapons found on a North Korean ship are a violation of UN sanctions against arms transfers to Pyongyang, Panama said Wednesday, August 28, citing a UN report.

The public safety ministry said in a statement that according to a draft report by UN experts sent to Panama after the seizure of the ship in July, the cargo "undoubtedly violates UN sanctions, which supports the course of action Panama took."

The ministry statement was the first information released about the mission of the experts, who completed their inspections two weeks ago. They were led by Briton David Martin Uden, a former ambassador to South Korea.

A source in the public safety ministry said authorities had been given a first draft of the report compiled by UN sanctions experts.

PAHO Sponsors "Modern-Day Slavery"

By Andres Oppenheimer in The Miami Herald:

U.N. agency may sponsor “modern-day slavery”

The United Nations Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is doing great things in Latin America, but I wonder whether its latest role as a middleman to help place 4,000 Cuban doctors in remote areas of Brazil does not amount to sponsoring slavery.

Under a deal between Brazil and Cuba that was brokered by the Washington-based PAHO, the Latin American branch of the U.N. World Health Organization, the Brazilian government will pay Cuba the equivalent of $4,080 a month — or nearly $49,000 a year — for each of the Cuban doctors.

The Brazilian government says the Cuban doctors are needed in remote areas of northern and northwestern Brazil, because no Brazilian physicians want to take those jobs. The first 400 Cuban doctors started arriving in the South American country on Aug. 24 amid public criticism from Brazil’s biggest physicians’ associations.

Brazil’s National Federation of Brazilian Physicians, Fenam, has said that “the Cuban doctors contracts have the characteristics of slave labor.”

Under the PAHO-brokered Brazilian program, called Mais Medicos (More doctors), Brazil pays Cuba the entire amount of the Cuban doctors’ wages, and Cuba later pays a fraction of it to the doctors.

Here’s the problem: Neither Brazil, nor Cuba, nor PAHO are saying how much of the $4,080 a month per doctor will go to the doctors working in Brazil.

Solidarity without Borders, a Miami-based organization that helps Cuban doctors around the world, says the Cuban government pays its doctors working in Brazil and other countries between $250 and $300 a month, or about 7 percent of the full amount it gets from the Brazilian government. The remaining 93 percent are pocketed by the Cuban government, the group says.

“It’s a modern-day slavery system,” Solidarity Without Borders President Julio Cesar Alfonso told me in an interview. “The only difference is that it uses highly skilled slave work.”

Asked how does he know the amount paid by Cuba to its doctors in Brazil, since it’s an official secret, Alfonso responded, “It’s very simple: there are about 30,000 Cuban doctors in Venezuela, and other tens of thousands around the world, and more than 5,000 have already defected. They tell us how much they were being paid by the Cuban government.”

Former Cuban ruler Fidel Castro created this doctors-for-export racket in 1982 as a way to earn cash for the country. Castro opened medical schools throughout Cuba to produce as many doctors as fast as possible. As Cuba’s economic situation deteriorated over the years, Cuba stepped up its doctors’ export business, Alfonso says.

Some of the Cuban doctors that are being sent abroad have not even graduated, Alfonso said.

“They are now exporting 5th and 6th-year medicine students to Venezuela, as part of their training to get their degree,” he said.

Cuban doctors who are sent to Brazil, Venezuela and other countries don’t complain about their pay: the $250-$300 a month that they can make in Brazil is nearly ten times more than the average of $30 a month that they make in Cuba. In addition, it gives them a chance to defect, Alfonso says.

“It’s a good business deal for Cuba, and it also serves as a way to export Cuba’s ideology to the poorest parts of the world,” Alfonso says, adding that Cuban doctors played a big role in helping late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez win support in poverty-stricken parts of Venezuela. “In remote jungle regions where they never saw a doctor, the presence of a fifth-year Cuban medicine student is a godsend.”

When I called PAHO to ask how much the Cuban doctors in Brazil will be paid by Cuba, I was told that PAHO’s director, Carissa E. Etienne, was not available but that PAHO’s Brazil office would respond via e-mail.

A few hours later, I got PAHO’s non-answer. It said that that “the Cuban doctors are Cuban government officials,” and that they will be paid their normal wages with “an additional salary” by the Cuban government “according to the laws of that country.”

As for the Brazilian doctor’s federation assertion that the deal amounts to “slave labor,” PAHO’s response was that, “This question has been examined by various departments of the Brazilian government and the country’s authorities do not agree with that assertion.”

My opinion: There is nothing wrong with Brazil hiring Cuban doctors who are willing to go to remote areas of the country, where Brazilian doctors allegedly refuse to go.

But the Brazil-Cuba deal whereby the Cuban government reportedly pockets 93 percent commission on the Cuban doctors’ salaries is scandalous.

And for an affiliate of the United Nations — an organization whose charter calls for the abolition of all sorts of slavery, and that celebrated the U.N. International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade just last week — is even more outrageous.

Cuban doctors should be allowed to work in Brazil, but they should be paid their full salary. Otherwise, it’s hard to see the ongoing deal — and the fact that all three sides are not disclosing how much the Cuban doctors in Brazil will be paid — as anything other than a modern day high-skilled slave trade.

Must-See: New Cuba Tourism Ad

Today on "From Washington al Mundo"

The Cuban and Syrian People Deserve an Apology

For years, media outlets and policy makers peddled the false narrative of Cuba's Raul Castro and Syria's Bashar al-Assad as "reformers" to the international community.

This was never based on any evidence -- other than Assad attending college in Britain and Castro's economic cosmetics.

(In case you're wondering, Assad's Syria is a bastion of economic freedoms compared to Castro's Cuba.)

Yet, here we are, on the eve of a military response to Assad's use of chemical weapons against his own people.

Meanwhile, Raul Castro is taking American hostages, smuggling weapons to North Korea, subverting democracy in the region, trafficking intelligence to fellow state-sponsors of terrorism, dramatically increasing political arrests and murdering internationally-recognized democracy leaders.

These media outlets and policy makers owe the victims of these brutal dictatorships an apology for their misinformation campaigns.

Here's the false narrative (courtesy of Vogue):

Here's the reality:

Cuba Blatantly Lied About Weapons to North Korea

Good synopsis from The Wall Street Journal:

So what exactly was in the cargo hold of that North Korean vessel intercepted in the Panama Canal last month.

The North Korean-flagged Chong Chon Gang was sailing from Cuba, whose foreign ministry said at the time that it carried 10,000 tons of sugar and 240 metric tons of “obsolete defensive weapons,” including disassembled missiles, two MiG-21 Bis jet fighters and two disassembled antiaircraft missile complexes, “to be repaired and returned to Cuba.”

Here’s what was actually in the cargo hold, according to a new report by a Swedish arms-control institute:

* small arms and light-weapons ammunition

* night-vision equipment

* rocket-propelled grenades

* artillery ammunition for anti-tank guns

And here’s what it was likely for, according to the report: bolstering North Korea’s military capabilities—not for repairing and returning to Cuba.

The report, authored by Hugh Griffiths, a senior researcher and expert on arms trafficking with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, will likely confirm the suspicions of many North Korea watchers, who greeted Cuba’s initial explanation with skepticism.

Mr. Griffiths, in fact, concludes that the shipment was “without a doubt a violation of United Nations sanctions on North Korea,” since it includes conventional artillery ammunition buried beneath the sugar.

Findings: Cuban Weapons Were for North Korea's Illegal Use

See all of the findings and pictures here.

From The Telegraph:

Fighter jets and parts seized from a North Korean ship by Panamanian authorities were probably intended for use by the communist state, in an apparent violation of United Nations sanctions, an arms control institute has said.

The findings by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute contradict Cuba's claim that it was not breaking the sanctions as it was sending equipment to North Korea for repairs and expected it to be returned, including MiG aircraft and motors, missiles and anti-aircraft missile systems.

UN sanctions forbid North Korea from trading arms to deprive it of technology and revenue for its pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. If the Cuban equipment was intended for North Korean use, it would suggest Pyongyang is struggling to maintain its ageing conventional forces.

The ship, Chong Chon Gang, was intercepted on July 15 in the Panama Canal, with 25 containers of Cuban military equipment found beneath the 10,000 tons of sugar. The equipment was not listed on the ship's manifest.

Experts at the Stockholm institute say they have seen a report and photographs compiled by Panamanian authorities and the United Nations Organisation on Drugs and Crime on what was found in the containers.

The institute's experts said there was other cargo not mentioned by Cuban officials in public statements, including items of ammunition for rocket-propelled grenades and conventional artillery, much of it in mint condition and in the original packing cases. "They clearly were not 'to be repaired and returned to Cuba'," the institute says in an analysis.

Cuban Air Force Chief (Curiously) Killed in Crash

Isn't it curious how the head of Cuba's air force and air-defense systems dies in a car crash on the very same week that U.N. inspectors seek to travel to Cuba to interview him regarding the shipment of Cuban fighter jets and anti-missile defense systems caught being smuggled to North Korea?

Also, there's no mention of where or how the crash took place.

And his body was quickly cremated.

Perhaps the Castro's felt he couldn't be trusted.

Or perhaps it's just a conspiracy theory.

You decide.

From Cuban state media:

Cuban General Dies in Car Accident

Chief of the Anti-Craft Defense and Revolutionary Air Force died on August 26 at 3.20 AM from the injuries suffered in a car accident he was involved in this Sunday. 

According to a press release from the Ministry of the Revolutionary Army Forces, General Mendiondo was driving his car on Sunday morning when he had the accident.

Following his will he was cremated and his ashes will be laid during a military ceremony this Tuesday in the Colon Cemetery, in the Revolutionary Army Forces Pantheon, in Havana city.

Fidel Castro Admires Edward Snowden

Make sure to read before breakfast.

As written in Russia's Pravda:

Fidel Castro admires Snowden's courage

Fidel Castro has rebutted the reports saying that Cuba, under U.S. pressure, had denied Edward Snowden transit to Ecuador. According to Castro, he admires the fairness of Snowden's statements and says that the American made a great service to the world.

Castro said that he did not know, who convinced the former agent not to fly to the island of freedom. He also stressed that his country has been resisting the U.S. pressure for 54 years and is ready to fight "for as long as necessary."

Cuban Political Prisoner in Grave Health

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Afro-Cuban political prisoner, Ivan Fernandez Depestre, has been transferred to a hospital, pursuant to a 27-day hunger strike protesting his unjust imprisonment.

Fernandez Depestre was arrested on July 30th for participating in a peaceful march and subsequently handed a 2-year prison sentence for "social dangerousness."

He has been on a hunger strike since his arrest.

"[Ivan] is surrounded by doctors and looks very bad. He has lost a lot of weight. They are pricking him all over, as they can't find a vein. He seems very grave," said fellow democracy activist, Luis Enrique Santos.

Interview with Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet

Monday, August 26, 2013
Last week, Cuban democracy leader Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet joined Mauricio Claver-Carone on Cristina Radio's "From Washington al Mundo."

Dr. Biscet, a former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, discussed the current state of repression in Cuba and his new Emilia Project.

Listen to the podcast here.

U.S. Visitors Contract Cholera in Cuba (and Get Charged for It)

From The Miami Herald:

Cuba reports more cholera among foreign visitors

Cuba-born New York high school teacher Alfredo Gómez says it was bad enough that he contracted cholera during a family visit to Havana this summer. Then he got a bill from the government hospital -- $4,700.

Gómez’ complaint came as Havana reported that a total of 12 foreign tourists and 151 Cubans have come down with cholera in recent months – though Gómez says his hospital ward alone had six to 15 foreigners on every one of the six days that he spent there.

The Havana report on cholera, the second in August alone, seemed to hint at a growing transparency by Cuban officials who previously kept quiet about the disease in a bid to avoid damaging the island’s $2.5 billion-a-year tourism industry, experts said.

A bulletin Friday by the Pan American Health Organization said Cuba that same day had reported 163 cases in the provinces of Havana, Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. PAHO, the hemispheric branch of the World Health Organization, indicated that those cases took place this year but gave no specific time frame.

Among those cases were 12 persons who had traveled to Cuba from other countries – three from Italy, two each from Germany, Spain, Chile and Venezuela and one from the Netherlands, PAHO noted. Cuba had reported six of those cases to PAHO earlier this month.

Independent journalists and visitors like Gómez have been reporting hundreds more cases never confirmed by Cuba, where the state-run news media virtually never uses the word “cholera” and instead refers to cases of “acute diarrheic diseases.”

Gómez, 49, who left Cuba in 1997 and now teaches math at the William Nottingham High School in Syracuse, N.Y., said he and two relatives were hit by intense diarrheas two days after they ate together at a state-run restaurant in Havana in late July.

Doctors at the Manuel Fajardo Hospital told them they had cholera, Gómez said, and transferred him to the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine, where the fourth floor of the hospital is reserved for foreigners who contract the disease.

Gómez said at least six and up to 15 foreigners were on the floor each of the six days he spent there, Aug. 4-10, receiving antibiotics and intravenous fluids for the disease, which is easily transmitted through water and can kill through dehydration.

That same week more than 60 Cubans were being treated in Kouri hospital wards reserved for island residents with cholera, he said, and a nephew told him that a large number of people had been struck by the disease in the Havana suburb of Mantilla.

The treatment fore foreigners at the hospital was very good and much better than the treatment for island residents, he added, but problems started when the foreign patients received huge bills as they were about the leave the hospital.

He heard two Spaniards on the phone with their insurance companies in Madrid trying to figure out how and what to pay, Gómez said. And he was pressured strongly to pay his own bill with his credit cards or through his U.S. health insurance policy.

“They really want to charge me, and they tried by all means that I should pay,” he said in a phone interview from Syracuse. “It was a rude, abusive attitude. They would not let met leave without paying.”

The bill he was shown was for $4,700 but he left without paying, he added, arguing that the U.S. embargo banned him from paying and that in any case his bill should be paid by the government-run restaurant where he contracted cholera.

Must-See: Ladies in White Being Arrested This Weekend

UPDATE: Cuban independent journalists (Hablemos Press) documented the arrest of over 65 members of The Ladies in White yesterday.

The following pictures were taken this weekend (by @ivanlibre).

It shows members of The Ladies in White being arrested as they tried to attend Mass in the province of Matanzas.

Such repression against the peaceful female democracy group has become a tragic Sunday ritual for the Castro regime.

The two men in the stripped blue and red shirts are the secret police officials in charge of the operation, while the women in military uniforms provide the "optics."

Pressure Works Against the Castro Regime

Granted, Russia Today (RT) is not a trustworthy news source.

However, if the report below is true, then it shows that pressure works against the Castro regime.

So why doesn't the U.S. threaten the Castro regime with "adverse consequences" for holding an American development worker hostage, Alan Gross.

Or, for illegally smuggling weapons to North Korea.

Or, for trafficking intelligence to other state-sponsors of terrorism.

Or, for subverting democracy in the Western Hemisphere (e.g. Venezuela).

Or, for violating the fundamental human rights of its citizens.

For, obviously, the Obama Administration's travel and engagement policy hasn't worked to deter the Castro regime in any of these fronts.

To the contrary, it is helping financially sustain it.

From RT:

US pressured Cuba not to let Snowden in – report

Edward Snowden was forced to stay in Russia after the US threatened Cuba with “adverse consequences” should the NSA whistleblower get on board Aeroflot’s Moscow-Havana flight, Kommersant newspaper has learnt.

Under US pressure the Cuban authorities informed Moscow the Aeroflot plane would not be able to land in Havana, a source told the Russian newspaper.

One of the sources close to the US State Department stated that Cuba was one of the countries whose authorities were warned of “adverse consequences” if it helped Snowden.

Quote of the Day

Sunday, August 25, 2013
I don't have any reason to celebrate 50 years of the Industriales because Cuban baseball -- this baseball they come to represent here -- represents oppression against players, it represents repression, it's a cloistered and persecuted baseball.  I want to dedicate this game to all of the political prisoners of Cuba and, specially, to imprisoned contractor Alan Gross and everyone that is suffering there at this time.
-- Orlando Chinea, legendary Cuban national team pitching coach (now exiled), during the Industriales reunion game in Tampa, Radio Marti,  8/25/13