Cuban Democracy Leader Arrested, Beaten for Support of U.S. Sanctions

Friday, June 13, 2014
Early Wednesday morning, the Castro regime ransacked the home of Cuban democracy leader, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez."  He was arrested, along with his wife, Yris Perez Aguilera.

During his imprisonment, Antunez was the subject of violent interrogations and beatings. He was thrown against walls, strangled twice until passing-out and injected with unknown substances.

According to Antunez, the authorities arrested him for his support of U.S. sanctions towards Cuba.

Last week, he led a document, signed by over 830 democracy activists, opposing recent efforts to ease U.S. sanctions toward Cuba.

These activists have sent this message to U.S. policymakers at great personal risk. 

In Cuba, it's easy (and even wins you favor) to state opposition to U.S. sanctions, but expressing support is punishable with up to 15 years in prison.

These are the men and women who are courageously challenging the regime on a daily basis.

They've suffered first-hand -- with their flesh and blood -- the consequences of decades of European and Canadian tourism, trade, investment and indifference.

Lifting U.S. sanctions would only multiply this, while unconditionally losing the only international leverage they have against Cuba's dictatorship.

Chairman Menendez on Dissident Crackdown in Cuba and Hillary Clinton

Chairman Menendez Statement on Suppression in Cuba, Arrests of Pro-Democracy Protestors

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding oppression in Cuba and the arrests of pro-democracy protestors this week:

The Castro regime’s enduring resolve to suppress the Cuban people’s aspirations for an open and democratic society was on full display in Cuba this week. Dozens of activists and members of the political opposition were brutally beaten by Cuban security forces and thrown in jail for nothing more than protesting peacefully. Among those who suffered the indignity of physical abuse was the head of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, a peaceful democracy activist who recently met with President Obama, Vice President Biden and members of Congress in Washington. This recent wave of oppression is part of the Communist regime’s decades-long policy of denying the Cuban people’s demands for basic rights and fundamental freedoms.

I am troubled by calls from former Secretary Clinton and others in this country to normalize relations with Cuba without any recognition of the total lack of human rights on the island and the violent suppression of the Cuban people. It is exactly the wrong message to send the Castro regime.  Proposing to end the embargo unconditionally will only embolden a regime that has not held one free election, that has not permitted one legitimate trade union to be organized, that has not allowed one Cuban citizen to fully own their own company, and that recently was caught sending weapons to Communist North Korea.

This week's wave of arrests of peaceful, pro-democracy protesters in Cuba should be a call to leaders in this country to stand with the Cuban people in their struggle for basic human rights and human dignity, not with the Castro regime.  We should not normalize relations and reward a regime that rules by fear and oppression.

Rubio: Castro Regime's Repression Cannot be Ignored

Rubio: Castro Regime's Repression Cannot be Ignored

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement regarding the latest wave of repression by the Castro regime:

This administration has kept trying to loosen sanctions against the Castro dictatorship, even though all the regime in Havana keeps doing is repress and abuse innocent Cubans who express their desire for liberty and democracy.

The Castro regime’s repressive apparatus is in full swing as it spent this week beating and detaining dissidents without cause. Activists like ‘Antúnez,’ his wife Yris Pérez Aguilera, Berta Soler and her husband Angel Moya have been detained and harassed. Independent journalist Roberto de Jesús Guerra was violently assaulted and reportedly suffered a broken nose and torn ligaments. 

The Castro regime’s repression cannot go ignored. The Obama Administration should reconsider any policy attempts that ultimately enrich and empower the regime to continue repressing innocent Cubans like this.

Let this latest wave of harassment and brutality by the Castro brothers serve as a reminder to those who call for more engagement as a way to bring change to Cuba. The only change that would bring is further entrenching the regime in power by giving them more money to carry out their violent repression of people’s fundamental rights and dignity.”

Note From the Pro-Cuba, Anti-Castro Lobby

Thursday, June 12, 2014
In Foreign Policy, the Council of the America's Chris Sabatini has written a defense of his organization's letter ("the letter") lobbying the Obama Administration to bypass Congress and ease sanctions towards the Castro regime.

Perhaps this is due to the overwhelming response against the letter by Cuban dissidents on the island, and by Cuban-American thought-leaders and organizations in exile.

He argues for a civilized debate on U.S. policy toward Cuba, but contradicts himself from the outset.

The title is: "The Anti-Cuba Lobby Has Jumped the Shark"

The byline reads: "By trading in denunciations, lies, and distortions -- instead of a reasonable discussion about how to open Cuba -- the rabid embargo lobby is starting to sound a lot like Castro himself."

As Chris surely knows, "the anti-Cuba lobby" is the term used by the Castros to refer to their opponents in the United States.

Arguing that others sound like the Castros by literally sounding like the Castros is not very persuasive.

Moreover, calling embargo supporters "rabid" is not a "reasonable" approach either.

Thus, at least practice what you preach.

It's funny for no one receives more insults and smears than those of us who support U.S. policy towards Cuba. But we have thick-skin.

On to the merits.

Sabatini contends that critics of the letter simply don't understand that it doesn't seek to lift the embargo -- just for a "careful tinkering" of the embargo.

Actually, we understand the letter quite well.

We understand that only Congress can lift the embargo -- and that there's strong bipartisan support for the embargo in Congress -- so this is just a back-handed strategy to lobby President Obama to bypass Congress and ease some sanctions.

We understand that -- with few exceptions -- the signatories of the letter have long-supported lifting the embargo -- not just "carefully tinkering" with it.

We understand that -- with even fewer exceptions -- the Cuban-American businessmen who signed the letter have rarely raised their voices for Cuba's courageous democracy activists, and during their trips to the island have preferred to huddle with the oppressors.

We understand that the letter calls for discussions with the Castro regime on a host of issues, but specifically eludes human rights, democracy and the recognition of independent civil society groups.

As various Cuban democracy leaders, intellectuals and regular Cubans on the street have noted, we also understand that the letter is unfamiliar with (at best) or deceptive about (at worst) how the "self-employed" sector actually works.

Here's how Sabatini explains it:

"[Raul Castro's] timid reforms have given birth to an incipient and insecure entrepreneurial class which, according to studies by the Brookings Institution, includes over 450,000 private business owners -- many of them supported only through the local informal economy and remittances from relatives in the United States."

First, Fidel Castro was forced to create "self-employment" licenses in the 1990s, pursuant to the collapse of his Soviet benefactors -- not as a result of Raul's "reforms." His goal was to control, institutionalize and profit from the thriving black-market.

Moreover, as soon as Venezuela began its billionaire subsides to Castro, he shut them down without any recourse. These licensees did not own anything, nor did they have any real or intellectual property rights.

Today, these "self-employed" licensees (far from "private business owners") are no different than they were in the 1990s. They have no rights, no legal entity, nor own any property.

And thus, the thrust of the debate (theory vs. practice):

In theory, the Council of the Americas claims it seeks to provide private support for "independent entrepreneurs."

But who are the "independent entrepreneurs" they are talking about? What qualifies as an "independent entrepreneur"? Is it someone with a "self-employment" license? Who would the financial transactions be with? What financial vehicle would they use?

In practice, the Council of the Americas seeks to throw money at the problem through the Castro regime's institutions and murky legal framework. This would only allow for even greater control, institutionalization and profit by the authorities.

These licensees would be able to thrive if they simply had the freedom and rights to function as normal "private business owners" anywhere else in the world.

Unfortunately, the only licensees allowed to thrive are the ones given the nod by the Castro regime, either because of their connections, obedience or both.  Ironically, they are also the ones with the less connections abroad.

Meanwhile, those licensees who work off the black-market or remittances from abroad are the ones who face the most impediments (and usually end up back in the black-market). So why are they able to succeed more in the black-market than as "self-employed" licensees? Not because they have more resources, but because they are less controlled.

Throughout its history, the Castro regime has only made changes when it was compelled to, particularly during times of crisis (as it currently faces). The more money is thrown at the Castro regime, the more controlling (and repressive) it is.

As Cuban blogger Miriam Celaya, who has supported lifting sanctions in the past, recently wrote about the letter:

"[The embargo's] unilateral and unconditional relaxation could be more harmful than beneficial at this juncture, given the regime’s ability to maneuver advantageously in critical situations."

They understand this very well.

Finally, Sabatini argues that the letter also seeks to provide Cubans with more connectivity.  After all, "who's against a free Internet," he asks.

No one. That's why U.S. sanctions have specific exemptions to help provide the Cuban people with telecom services.

Moreover, that's why U.S. democracy programs help civil society with circumvention tools and technology, so they can access the "free Internet." Castro's American hostage, Alan Gross, is a testament to this.

However, handing the Castro regime a modern infrastructure and technology to further monitor, track-down, censor and repress its citizens -- in the hopes of a slight "Internet trickle-down effect" -- is obviously counter-productive.

Thus, there's a fine-line.

Not long ago, Sabatini labeled Venezuela's creation of a fiber optic network with the Castro regime as a "huge missed opportunity [for U.S. companies]."

He was wrong -- unless, of course, he meant a "missed opportunity" to further enrich the Castro regime and hand it greater control mechanisms over the Cuban people.

Cable or no cable, Castro's totalitarian dictatorship remains fully in control of the Internet -- and any improvements in connectivity are now solely for the regime's benefit.

As young, exiled democracy activist Karel Becerra, who studied computer science in Cuba, recently wrote in his criticism of the letter:

"Dictatorships aren't afraid of technology, per se. They are afraid of technology in the hands of civil society. This should be the focus of any proposal: free technology that can be put directly into the hands of the people. It should stem from the fundamental premise: technology for the end-consumers. This includes satellite phones, wireless devises, signal multipliers, satellite receptors, and devises to encrypt and transport data."

They understand this very well also.

State Department Condemns Detention of Democracy Activists

From the U.S. Department of State:

We have seen reports of the latest arbitrary detentions by Cuban authorities of dozens of civil society members and activists, including prominent pro-democracy activist Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, also known as “Antunez,” his wife, Yris Perez Aguilera, Ladies in White spokesperson Berta Soler, and her husband, Angel Moya. We have also seen reports that independent journalist Roberto de Jesus Guerra was violently assaulted and reportedly suffered a broken nose and torn ligaments. We strongly condemn the Cuban government’s systematic use of physical violence and arbitrary detention to silence its critics, disrupt peaceful assembly and even, in the case of the detentions of Ms. Soler and Mr. Moya, prevent attendance at a court hearing unrelated to broader issues of governance. We urge the Government of Cuba to end these practices and respect the universal human rights of Cuban citizens.

Top Dissidents Remain Imprisoned After Violent Crackdown

From The Miami Herald:

Two top dissidents still held day after crackdown

Jorge Luis García Pérez and his wife Yris Pérez Aguilera were rousted from their beds during an early morning raid

Cuban police and State Security agents were still holding dissidents Jorge Luis García Pérez and his wife Thursday, one day after they raided their home to roust them out of bed and paint over anti-Castro graffiti scrawled on the front walls.

García, known as Antúnez, and his wife, Yris Pérez Aguilera, “were taken from their beds yesterday, without a chance to put on any decent clothes or comb their hair or anything,” said Donaida Pérez, the sister of Yris.

The raiders broke down the door, searched the house and for about the 10th time in the last few years painted over the anti-government graffiti that the couple paint on the front of their home in the town of Placetas, east of Havana, Pérez added.

Among the more outspoken of Cuba’s dissidents and leaders of the National Civic Resistance Front Orlando Zapata Tamayo, García and Pérez have been detained by police dozens of times, although usually for only a few hours.

Over 830 Cuban Democracy Activists Sign Letter Against Easing Sanctions

Last week, we posted a document signed by over 550 Cuban democracy activists from within the island, urging the international community to support democracy activists in Cuba and Venezuela, and to impede efforts to ease sanctions against the Castro regime.

Over 830 democracy activists have now signed this document.

The effort, led by Cuban democracy leader Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez" and his wife, Yris Perez Aguilera -- both of whom were violently arrested yesterday -- also has the support of Berta Soler, leader of The Ladies in White; former prisoners of conscience (from the Black Spring of 2003) Angel Moya and Librado Linares Garcia; and independent labor leaders Ivan Hernandez Carrillo and Jorge Olivera.

In Cuba, it's easy (and even wins you favor) to state opposition to U.S. sanctions, but expressing support is punishable with up to 15 years in prison.

Thus, contemplate the courageous effort by each these democracy activists and the message they are trying to send to Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others seeking to ease sanctions on the Castro regime.

The signatories are:

1.      Jorge Luís García Pérez “Antúnez”
2.      Berta Soler Fernández
3.      Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina
4.      Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera
5.      Ángel Moya Acosta
6.      José Díaz Silva
7.      Jorge Olivera
8.      Iván Hernández
9.      Raúl Luís Risco Pérez
10.    Carlos Alexander Borrego Galardi
11.    Juan Francisco Sigler Amaya
12.    Librado Ricardo Linares García
13.    Lourdes Esquivel Vieto
14.    Yordan Marrero Huerta
15.    Armando Peraza Hernández
16.    Maria Elena Mir
17.    Magaly Broche De la Cruz
18.    Maybell Padilla
19.    Julián Enrique Martínez Báez
20.    Eduardo Díaz Fleitas
21.    Damaris Moya Portieles
22.    Donaida Pérez Paseiro
23.    Misahel Valdés Díaz
24.    Rafael Meneses Pupo
25.    Daniel Millet Jímenez
26.    Yoandri Montoya Avilé
27.    Yordis García Fournier
28.    Francisco Luís Manzanet Ortíz
29.    Ricardo Lázaro Fiallo
30.    Segundo Rey Cabrera
31.    Luis Enrique Santos Caballero
32.    Ramona Maday García
33.    Yanisbel Valido Pérez
34.    Yenni Barallobre Columbié
35.    Elsa Morejón
36.    Haydeé Galván Casals
37.    Maday Franco Castaño
38.    Ángel Pablo Polanco
39.    Randy Caballero Suárez
40.    Yoel Bravo López
41.    Víctor Quindelán Sánchez
42.    Abel Ruiz Rosado
43.    Abel Torna Gavilán
44.    Abelardo Castro La Serra
45.    Abismael González González
46.    Acela Cruz Rodríguez
47.    Ada Iris Miranda Leiva
48.    Adaimis Miranda Leisca
49.    Adis Miriam Dayé Urgelles
50.    Adonis Ángel Verdú Martínez
51.    Adrián Rivas Cruz
52.    Agustín Alonso Parada
53.    Ailyn González Bermúdez
54.    Alain Lázaro Valdéz Almereida
55.    Alain Polo Rodríguez
56.    Alberto Alain Fernández Pérez
57.    Alberto Antonio Machado Rodríguez
58.    Alberto Carlos Zamora González
59.    Alberto González Sardiñas
60.    Alberto Matienzo López
61.    Alberto Prieto Estrada
62.    Alcibiades Joel Ramírez Cruz
63.    Alejandro Santisteban
64.    Alexander García Biscet
65.    Alexander Jud Hernández
66.    Alexander La Hera Rodríguez
67.    Alexander Montes de Oca Morfi
68.    Alexander Oliva Rodríguez
69.    Alexander Pérez Aguilar
70.    Alexander Pérez Montero
71.    Alexander Rodríguez Santisteban
72.    Alexis García Guzmán
73.    Alexis Miranda Hernández
74.    Alexis Palmero González
75.    Alexis Pérez Lescaller
76.    Alexis Ros  Lasita
77.    Alfredo Doinel Macías Suárez
78.    Alina Álvarez Roque
79.    Aliobis Castillo Villalva
80.    Aliuska Gómez García
81.    Alma Roig Rodríguez Díaz
82.    Amada Elisa Pileta Vázquez
83.    Amarilys Troche Febles
84.    Amaury Agüero Mora
85.    Amni Andrade Hidalgo
86.    Amparo Milagros Morejón Díaz
87.    Ana Delia Almaguer
88.    Ana Fernández Mora
89.    Ana Iris Miranda Leiva
90.    Ana María Tamayo Ruíz
91.    Anairis Dania Mecerene Sánchez
92.    Anderlay Guerra Blanco
93.    Andi González Hernández
94.    Andrés Avelino Domínguez Beltrán
95.    Andrés Cutiño Galán
96.    Andrés Fidel Alfonso Rodríguez
97.    Andrés Lugo Pérez
98.    Andrés Pérez Suárez
99.    Andro Alberto Legrá Terrero
100.                 Ángel Batista Vegas
101.                Ángel Cala Proenza
102.                Ángel Lino Fernández
103.                Ángel Pérez Bernal
104.                Ángel Pozo Rodríguez
105.                Ángel Ramón Hernández Moré
106.                Angel Ramón Ramos Rodríguez
107.                Ángel Suero Oliveira
108.                Anisleidis Martínez Mayor
109.                Anoy Rodríguez Fernández
110.                Antonio Luzardo Placencia
111.                Antonio Ramón Fonseca
112.                Antonio Rodríguez Guerra
113.                Anubis de la Caridad Rodríguez Oro
114.                Arcadio Yero Aleaga
115.                Arián Ramón González Piñal
116.                Ariel Cruz Meneses
117.                Ariel Diego Acheco
118.                Ariel Giraldo Puertas
119.                Ariel González Sendiña
120.                Ariel Medina Acosta
121.                Armando Batista Ávila
122.                Armando Echeverría López
123.                Armando Hernández Solí
124.                Armando La Case
125.                Armando Narciso Novoa Esquivel
126.                Armolia Rodríguez Rodríguez
127.                Arruán Correa Malagón
128.                Asnier López Soria
129.                Aurelio Cabrera González
130.                Aymara Artiles Giralt
131.                Aymeé Pintado Aldaya
132.                Bárbara Águila García
133.                Bárbara Emirsy Escalona Simón
134.                Bárbara Hernández Martínez
135.                Bárbara Moya Portieles
136.                Bárbara Pupo Torres
137.                Bárbaro Núñez Vázquez
138.                Bartolomé Carvajal Rodríguez
139.                Basilio Alexis López Irvone
140.                Beatriz Gómez García
141.                Belkis Pérez Pérez
142.                Benigno Cruz Reina
143.                Benjamin Alexis Correa León
144.                Bernardo Cabrera Silva
145.                Bernardo León Martínez
146.                Blas Augusto Fortún Martínez
147.                Bob Lemenos Fonseca
148.                Braudolio  Alcolea Suárez
149.                Braulio Artie Castañé
150.                Caridad García Carta
151.                Caridad González González
152.                Caridad Sotero Arsanza
153.                Carliel Vidal Camacho
154.                Carlos A. González Hernández
155.                Carlos Alberto Gómez Basco
156.                Carlos Alberto Peña Cruz
157.                Carlos Alberto Rodríguez Senuto
158.                Carlos Felipe de la Cruz
159.                Carlos Irán González González
160.                Carlos Manuel Cárdenas González
161.                Carlos Manuel Figueroa Álvarez
162.                Carlos Manuel Hernández Jiménez
163.                Carlos Manuel Rumbao Vega
164.                Carmen Julia Rodríguez Seija
165.                Catalina Hidalgo Monell
166.                Celia Oro Guerrero
167.                Celso Luís Díaz Morales
168.                Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez
169.                Clara Leidys De la Rosa
170.                Clara Parra Ferrer
171.                Conrado Galindo Sariol
172.                Cristandi Següeño Cedeño
173.                Dagoberto Martínez Martínez
174.                Dagoberto Santana Marichal
175.                Daidy Barrios Martínez
176.                Daily Villacicencio Juria-Juria
177.                Dailyn Rodríguez Pérez
178.                Daimaris Morales Piña
179.                Daimi Estrada Marco
180.                Daisy de la Caridad Ponce Marino
181.                Dalia Peraza Díaz
182.                Damaris Esquivel Acosta
183.                Damaris García Martínez
184.                Damaris Hidalgo García
185.                Damaris Leyva Matos
186.                Damaris Revé Rodríguez
187.                Danaysi González Capote
188.                Danaysi Muñóz López
189.                Dania Hernández Baró
190.                Daniel Alfaro Frías
191.                Daniel Arbelio Pérez Cruz
192.                Daniel Cito Lamot
193.                Daniel Hernández Champán
194.                Daniel Hernández Velázquez
195.                Daniel López Ramos
196.                Daniel Machado Amado
197.                Daniel Ouber Cisneros
198.                Daniel Suárez Fernández
199.                Daniel Varona Fernández
200.                Danilo Giraldo Puertas
201.                Daniuska Toro del Pozo
202.                Dannelis Alcolea Baró
203.                Danny Salgado Guiteras
204.                Darienna Arrondes Martínez
205.                Dayamanti González Capote
206.                Deinis García Ramos
207.                Deisy Romero Fernández
208.                Deivis Daniel López Rodríguez
209.                Delfino Hernández Roja
210.                Delio Francisco Rodríguez Díaz
211.                Denier Barrios Correa
212.                Denis Díaz González
213.                Dennis Morales Llorente
214.                Dexter Pérez Rodríguez
215.                Diana Nubia Hornia Rodríguez
216.                Diane Gómez Hernández
217.                Dianelys Rodriguez Morejón
218.                Diosvany Calestre Cabello
219.                Dixán  Moreno Guerrero
220.                Domingo Andrés Pino
221.                Dulce María Castillo Águila
222.                Dunia Barros Correa
223.                Edilberto López Torres
224.                Eduardo Eugenio Ríos Fernández
225.                Eduardo Pérez Almanza
226.                Eduardo Pérez Almora
227.                Eduardo Pujol Valladares
228.                Eduardo Ramos Balaguer
229.                Eglis La Fonte Biliau
230.                Eguar Ramírez Torres
231.                Elaidys Ferrer Durán
232.                Elaine Bárbara Gómez Plasencia
233.                Elainy del Carmen Pupo Echevarría
234.                Elcida Cuba González
235.                Eldelvis Granda Pérez
236.                Elia Ángel Téllez Tiant
237.                Eliecer Palma Pupo
238.                Eliso Castillo González
239.                Elizabeth Soa Ricardo
240.                Elizardo Calvo Hernández
241.                Elsa Sarduy Saleno
242.                Emil Irandi Sobrasen Villar
243.                Emir José Bermúdez Pérez
244.                Enrique Echemendía Pacheco
245.                Ermis Carbonell Ferrer
246.                Erneides Torne Cabrera
247.                Ernesto Arocha Carta
248.                Ernesto Díaz Silva
249.                Ernesto Fonseca García
250.                Ernesto Leonardo Soler Nieves
251.                Ernesto López Matamoros
252.                Ernesto Manuel Carrera Moreno
253.                Ernesto Molina Escobar
254.                Ernesto Ramos
255.                Ernesto Suárez Figueroa
256.                Esbert Ramírez Argota
257.                Eugenio Jomarrón Oropesa
258.                Eugenio Padrón Roque
259.                Eva Martín Jiménez
260.                Evelín Penira Concepción
261.                Eyder Almeida Moreno
262.                Fela Río Casao
263.                Fela Vaillán Plana
264.                Feliberto La Hera Benítez
265.                Felicia Santos
266.                Félix Rivero Cordoví
267.                Fermín Zamora Vázquez
268.                Fernando Alberto Castellanos
269.                Fernando Ocampo Alonso
270.                Fidel Ángel Hernández Velázquez
271.                Fidel Palacio Tomás
272.                Fidel  Javier Alce Abreu
273.                Francisco Javier Aolce Abreu
274.                Francisco Lázaro Concepción Díaz
275.                Francisco Saz Fusté
276.                Francisco Seguías Morales
277.                Frank Sac Durán
278.                Franklin Montoya Sánchez
279.                Fredesman Díaz Curbelo
280.                Geovanis Izaguirre Hernández
281.                Geraldo Sigler Cruz
282.                Geraldo Villavicencio Juria -Juria
283.                Gerardo Ortega Torres
284.                Giovani Álvarez Díaz
285.                Giraldo Villavicencio Juria-Juria
286.                Gisel Aguilar Aguilera
287.                Graciliano Lafitta Lafitta
288.                Griselle Hernández Herrera
289.                Guillermo Feria Reyes
290.                Guilly Monteagudo González
291.                Guiseidys  Piña González
292.                Gulliber Sigler García
293.                Gustavo Beltrán Estépez
294.                Héctor González Salazar
295.                Henry Arencibia Figueroa
296.                Hortensia López Fundora
297.                Hugo Damián Prieto Blanco
298.                Humberto Biel Merín
299.                Humberto Hurtado Mesa
300.                Humberto J Quirós González
301.                Idel Ruíz Torres
302.                Idolquis Domínguez Sabinde
303.                Ilian  Marrero Abreu
304.                Indomar Gómez Izaguirre
305.                Iraida Suárez Jorge
306.                Isaac José Marin Páez
307.                Isabel Georgina Guevara Cabrera
308.                Isael Poveda Silva
309.                Ismael González Reyes
310.                Ismael Ramírez Pupo
311.                Ismara Herrera Alfonso
312.                Iván Ricardo Quevedo
313.                Iván Tamayo Valdes
314.                Ivonik Behar Cardozo
315.                Jacqueline Aguilera Disaire
316.                Jacqueline Callado Guardamaro
317.                Janet Izquierdo Álvarez
318.                Janet Mosquera Cayón
319.                Janoi Alain Gonzalez Magueira
320.                Jared de la Torre
321.                Javier Delgado Torna
322.                Javier Rodríguez González
323.                Jenni Hernández Román
324.                Jenry Rey Rodríguez
325.                Jesús ARmenteros García
326.                Jesús Castillo Concepción
327.                Jesús González García
328.                Jesús Nibaldo Rojas Riviera
329.                Jesús Osorio Ruiz Calderón
330.                Jesús Peña Pedraza
331.                Joaquín Milanés Torres
332.                Joel Artiaga Cuello
333.                Joel Moisés Pérez Ramírez
334.                Jonnai Fonseca Aura
335.                Jorge Antonio Pérez Meneses
336.                Jorge Canse Betancourt
337.                Jorge Damian Rodríguez
338.                Jorge Félix Candelaria Martínez
339.                Jorge Fernández Mora
340.                Jorge González Echemendia
341.                Jorge Luis Cedeño Marrero
342.                Jorge Luis Feria Jardines
343.                Jorge Luis López Tamayo
344.                Jorge Luis Suárez Tan
345.                Jorge Luis Suárez Varona
346.                Jorge Luis Trujillo González
347.                Jorge Millares Loa
348.                Jorge O. Lorenzo Pimienta
349.                Jorge Peña González
350.                Jorge Velázquez Carmenate
351.                Jorge Zaldívar Pérez
352.                José Alfredo Izquierdo Blanco
353.                José Andrés Liranza Rosabal
354.                José Antonio Alcorca Ramírez
355.                José Antonio Pompa López
356.                José Antonio Sisnés Rolando
357.                José Cano Fuentes
358.                José Clemente González Serrat
359.                José Fernando Almentero Torres
360.                José Francisco Amador Camacho
361.                José Francisco Fernández Adán
362.                José Lorenzo Cordero Prieto
363.                José Luis Gómez Cueto
364.                José Luis Martínez Somoza
365.                José Luís Monterrey Piloto
366.                José Luís Rodríguez Abreu
367.                José Luis Torres Mariño
368.                José Manuel González Gómez
369.                José Manuel Peña Peña
370.                José Manuel Rodriguez
371.                José Marino Andrade Treto
372.                Jose Martí Menéndez
373.                José Matos Duvergel
374.                José Miguel Piña González
375.                José Reinaldo Rodríguez Martínez
376.                José Rodríguez Herrada
377.                José Rumayor Díaz
378.                JoséAntonio Quintana Rivero
379.                Josué  Carmona Ceballos
380.                Juan Carlos Cito Lamoth
381.                Juan Carlos Hernández Cito
382.                Juan Carlos Lemus Pereda
383.                Juan Carlos Ramírez Fría
384.                Juan Carmelo Bermúdez Rosabal
385.                Juan Francisco Bofil Betancourt
386.                Juan Manuel Sarduy Segredo
387.                Judith Ferrer González
388.                Julia Ramírez González
389.                Julio Alberto Rodríguez Castiñeira
390.                Julio Arias Tejeda
391.                Julio Cesar Brusón
392.                Julio César Fernández Zambrana
393.                Julio Cesar Pérez Pérez
394.                Julio Cesar Pérez Zaldívar
395.                Julio César Valdéz Díaz
396.                Julio González Diez
397.                Julio Magaña
398.                July Ferrer Bravo
399.                Julys Michelena Díaz
400.                Katika Lasitta Pupo
401.                Katiuska Rodríguez Rodríguez
402.                Keinis Beltrán Beltrán
403.                Keisy Delgado Montes
404.                Kirenia Herry García
405.                Kirenia Jiménez Medina
406.                Laritza Cabrera Calixto
407.                Laudelina Alcalde García
408.                Laurelino Rodríguez Mendoza
409.                Lázara Bárbara Sendiña Recalde
410.                Lázaro Acosta Mena
411.                Lázaro Antonio Pérez González
412.                Lázaro Armando Opian Vázquez
413.                Lázaro Blanco Izquierdo
414.                Lázaro Chinea Paez
415.                Lázaro Chinea Paez
416.                Lázaro Coy Rodriguez
417.                Lázaro E. Rodríguez Suárez
418.                Lázaro Fabián García Hernández
419.                Lázaro José de la Loba Usin
420.                Lázaro Méndez Cárdenas
421.                Lázaro Mendoza García
422.                Lázaro Yobanis Montesinos Hernández
423.                Leidis Tabares López
424.                Leidy del Carmen Ramírez Morales
425.                Leney Mijans Calistre
426.                Lenin Córdova García
427.                Leodanis Blanco Fernández
428.                Leona Antonia Quesada Lemos
429.                Leonardo Hernández Olivera
430.                Leonardo Pita Díaz
431.                Leonardo Rivera Monterrey
432.                Leonardo Rodríguez Alonso
433.                Leonardo Rodríguez Alonso
434.                Leonardo Viamonte Marrero
435.                Leonis Matos Matos
436.                Leopoldo Galera García
437.                Léster Lora Carbonell
438.                Léster Ronald Guerra Padrón
439.                Leticia Dorado Alonso
440.                Leudanis Raudell Gómez Calderón
441.                Levy García Rivero
442.                Leyane Less Vázquez
443.                Leydis Reyes Cusa
444.                Lián Soriano Sarduy
445.                Lidel Abarra Cadezal
446.                Lidia Reyes Pozo
447.                Lilian Hernández Chacón
448.                Lismeris Quintana Ávila
449.                Lissandra Cisneros Fumero
450.                Liván Gómez Castillo
451.                Livián Quiñones González
452.                Loreto Hernández García
453.                Lourdes Díaz Esquivel
454.                Luis Abel Rodríguez Aguilera
455.                Luís Alberto Cruz Silva
456.                Luis Almeida Reyes
457.                Luís Andrés Domínguez Sardiñas
458.                Luís Antonio Rodríguez Isaac
459.                Luís Cesar Chirino Llanes
460.                Luís Eduardo Pérez Machín
461.                Luís Enrique Guiber Martínez
462.                Luís Enrique López Torres
463.                Luís Enrique Milán Columbé
464.                Luis Enrique Monterrey Morejón
465.                Luís Esteban Hernández Izquierdo
466.                Luis Giraldo Rodríguez Silier
467.                Luís Jesús Gutiérrez Campos
468.                Luis Lázaro Guancho Hernández
469.                Luís Manuel Fumero García
470.                Luís Noa Silva
471.                Luis Reinaldo Álvarez Ríos
472.                Luisa Antonia Quesada Lemos
473.                Luisa Ramón Rodríguez
474.                Lusinda González Gómez
475.                Magaly Arcia Tamayo
476.                Magaly Pérez Moreno
477.                Magda Naranjo Rodríguez
478.                Maidalis Leina Cortilla
479.                Maidelys López Herrera
480.                Maidolis Leiva Portieles
481.                Maikel Bencomo Rojas
482.                Maikel Martínez Cruz
483.                Maikel Mora Reyes
484.                Maikel Morton Cordero
485.                Maikel Verdecia Sánchez
486.                Mailyn Ávila Méndez
487.                Mailyn Pozo de la Torre
488.                Mailyn Ricardo Gongorra
489.                Mairelis Mendoza Castillo
490.                Manuel Alejandro del Valle Íñigo
491.                Manuel de Jesús Asma Díaz
492.                Manuel Hernández de la Rosa
493.                Manuel Landy Ramos
494.                Manuel Moret Labrada
495.                Manuel Pérez González
496.                Manuel Rodríguez Alonso
497.                Manuel Rogelio Rey Carvajal
498.                Manuel Sardiñas Zañón
499.                Maray García Hernández
500.                Marbelis Fernández Cruz
501.                Marcelina Dora Lara Morales
502.                Marcelino Abreu Bonora (preso político)
503.                Marco Antonio Díaz Boicochea
504.                Margarita Rodríguez Díaz
505.                María de Jesús Espinosa Izquierdo
506.                María del Carmen Hernández
507.                María del Carmen Martínez López
508.                María del Rosario Guillén Alaya
509.                María Elena González Grandy
510.                Maria Guillén Gómez
511.                María Josefa Orama García
512.                María Luisa Troche Febles
513.                María Rosa Hernández Molina
514.                María Suárez Sánchez
515.                Maribel Díaz Marrero
516.                Mariela Rojas Sierra
517.                Marilyn Falcón Hernández
518.                Marino Rodríguez Reidel
519.                Mario Calderín García
520.                Mario Delgado Casañas
521.                Mario Moraga Ramos
522.                Marisol Marrero Medre
523.                Marisol Peña Coba
524.                Marisol Pupo Sierra
525.                Maritza Concepción Sarmiento
526.                Marlene Eduardo Aguilar
527.                Marlenis Abreu Almaguer
528.                Marlín Rodríguez Reyes
529.                Marta Alina Rodríguez Pérez
530.                Marta del Carmen Hernández
531.                Marta Leonisia Ramos Casado
532.                Marta Méndez Escalero
533.                Marta Pérez Rodríguez
534.                Martha Marcela Morales Rodríguez
535.                Mavies González Tápanes
536.                Mayelín Santisteban López
537.                Mercedes Gómez Basulto
538.                Mercedes López Suárez
539.                Mercedes Martín Jiménez
540.                Michad Proenza Esquivel
541.                Michel Batista Fernández
542.                Michel Canet Velazquez
543.                Michel Oliva López
544.                Migda Amalia Prieto Puente
545.                Miguel Cabo González
546.                Miguel Daniel Borroto Vázquez
547.                Miguel Guerra Artie
548.                Miguel López Santos
549.                Miguel Mena Armenteros
550.                Miguel Morejón Román
551.                Miguel Yusdiel Ruíz Ortíz
552.                Mildred Agüero Torres
553.                Mileysis Díaz Seija
554.                Mirca Montalvo Acosta
555.                Miriam Avilé Oliva
556.                Mirta Rodríguez Torné
557.                Misael Ávila Marrero
558.                Mislady Reyes Fernández
559.                Naida León Silva
560.                Nancy Quiñones González
561.                Natalie Correa León
562.                Natividad Blanco Carrero
563.                Nelgis Faure Echavarría
564.                Nelly Castellón Rojas
565.                Nelly May Cuesta González
566.                Nelson Pascual Rodríguez Pupo
567.                Néstor García Gómez
568.                Nieve Puntilla de Arma
569.                Nikel Barrero Vanega
570.                Nilda García Gil
571.                Niola Camila Araujo Molina
572.                Niurcy Acosta Pacheco
573.                Niurka Hernández Moré
574.                Niurka Valera Rodríguez
575.                Noberto Negrín Medero
576.                Odali Matienzo López
577.                Odalys Legrá Castellanos
578.                Odelsis Gómez Plasencia
579.                Oilyn Hernández Rodríguez
580.                Oleidys Yopis Amenares
581.                Olga Lidia González Méndez
582.                Olga Lidia Rivero
583.                Omni Rodríguez Fuentes
584.                Ordenis Miñones Strit
585.                Orel Jordan Cabaña Vargas
586.                Orelvis Perdigón Hernández
587.                Orestes Fernández Guevara
588.                Orestes Puente Correa
589.                Orestes Valenciaga García
590.                Orlando Chirino Rodríguez
591.                Orlando Gómez Echevarría
592.                Orlando Triana González
593.                Oscar E. Mestre del Lleno
594.                Osleydis Carmona Guerra
595.                Osmaily Hernández Rivera
596.                Osmel López García
597.                Osmel Pi Martínez
598.                Osnier Rodríguez Espinosa
599.                Osvaldo Felton Ferrer
600.                Osvaldo Mendoza Ferrial
601.                Oswaldo Cabrera Capote
602.                Oudis Céspedes López
603.                Pablo Enrique Camero Romero
604.                Pablo Lloveras Bayardo
605.                Pablo Luís Ramírez Cabo
606.                Pablo Ramón Lázo Peña
607.                Pastor Alexei Puertos Gómez
608.                Paula Lara Hurtado
609.                Paulina González Chávez
610.                Paulo Escobar Rodríguez
611.                Pavel Hernández Rodríguez
612.                Pedro Castillo Mauri
613.                Pedro Dulqué Ramírez
614.                Pedro Enrique Aguilar Pupo
615.                Pedro Fontanar Miranda
616.                Pedro Larena Hernández
617.                Pedro Leiva Góngora
618.                Pedro Luís González Díaz
619.                Pedro Luís Ruíz Tamayo
620.                Pedro Luís Sabat Valdez
621.                Pedro Luís Terrero García
622.                Pedro Pablo García Cárdenas
623.                Pedro Rodríguez Docurro
624.                Pedro Yankiel Ortega Sánchez
625.                Pilar Norma García Martínez
626.                Quireña Díaz Arguelles
627.                Quirenia Aguilar Céspedes
628.                Radamés Bueno Echevarría
629.                Raday Matos Matos
630.                Rafael Elías Argante
631.                Rafael Estrada Acosta
632.                Rafael Freeman Leiva
633.                Rafael González Estévez
634.                Rafael Hernández Blanco
635.                Rafael Martínez Ferreira
636.                Rafael Ramos Balaguer
637.                Rafael Rodríguez Echemendía
638.                Raicel Rodríguez Rivero
639.                Raidel Felipe Britón
640.                Raidis Caballero
641.                Raimundo López Landasur
642.                Ramiro Piñeiro Amaro
643.                Ramón Cabrera Roque
644.                Ramón Castañeda
645.                Ramón Chávez Furones
646.                Ramón Olivares Abello
647.                Ramón Zamora Rodríguez
648.                Ramona Sánchez Martínez
649.                Raquel Hermides Cepeda
650.                Raquel Rodríguez Morejón
651.                Rataris Pérez Aguilera
652.                Raúl Cruz Febles
653.                Raúl Eires Granado Aura
654.                Raúl González Manso
655.                Raúl Velázquez Valdes
656.                Rebeca Rojas Puyán
657.                Reidel Matos Matos
658.                Reinaldo Barrientos Salazar
659.                Reinaldo Cuesta Feria
660.                Reinaldo Feria Enrique
661.                Reinaldo Lázaro Martínez
662.                Reinaldo Pérez Escalona
663.                Reinaldo Santana Díaz
664.                Reinier Hernández Torne
665.                Reinier Jomarrón Vega
666.                Reinier Mandri Quiñones
667.                Reinier Rodríguez Brusón
668.                Reinier Sánchez Valdez
669.                Reinier Wilson Castellanos
670.                René Hazlo Hernández
671.                René Noa Sánchez
672.                Reynaldo Díaz Milián
673.                Ricardo Jesús Valle Arango
674.                Ricardo Luna Rodríguez
675.                Ricardo Rodríguez Figueredo
676.                Ricardo Silveira Verdecia
677.                Rigoberto del Pozo Chacón
678.                Roberto Cedeño Rojas
679.                Roberto de Jesús Reyes Hernández
680.                Roberto de la Rosa Estrada
681.                Roberto González Peregrín
682.                Roberto Moreno Rodríguez
683.                Roberto Ocampo Rivero
684.                Roberto Velazquez Arias
685.                Roberto Velázquez Santisteban
686.                Rolando Díaz Roque
687.                Rolando Díaz Silva
688.                Rolando Pérez Muñóz
689.                Romelia Piña González
690.                Romero Morejón González
691.                Romualdo  Almeida del Toro
692.                Ronni Gómez Luna
693.                Ronnie Estrada Medina
694.                Rosa Quintana Cervantes
695.                Rosa Rodríguez Suárez
696.                Rosaida Escalona González
697.                Rosneidis Leiva Salas
698.                Rosney Bejerano Silot
699.                Roxana Fernández Kile
700.                Roxana Sánchez Cocho
701.                Rubén Corti Rowet
702.                Samuel Hernández Izquierdo
703.                Sandra de la Caridad Ávalos Bejerano
704.                Santiago Batista de la Rosa
705.                Santillo Martínez Álvarez
706.                Sarai Pérez Pedroso
707.                Saúl Fernando Hernández Cubela
708.                Savier Martínez Puentes
709.                Sebastian González Lam
710.                Sergei Plana Díaz
711.                Sergio Rubia Negrín
712.                Silvio Proenza Batista
713.                Soldeiris Turella Porcio
714.                Sonia Escobar Ricardo
715.                Sonia Torres Mariño
716.                Soraya Cruz Bruzón
717.                Suanmi Hernández Vilar
718.                Suleidys Argudín Balboa
719.                Tania María Acosta Morales
720.                Tatiana Leiva Wenclán
721.                Tavinys Sotomayor Rodríguez
722.                Tomasa del Carmen Chelán Castillo
723.                Ulises Rafael Hernández López
724.                Verdis Martínez Alvides
725.                Vicente Col Campanioni
726.                Victoria Díaz Silva
727.                Vilma Reiner Acosta
728.                Vivian Peña Hernández
729.                Viznely Danilsa Vidal Pérez
730.                Vladimir Turro Páez
731.                Walfrido Pérez García
732.                William Alexis Cases Díaz
733.                William Murcia Rivero
734.                William Nelson Morgado Avaro
735.                William Suárez Iglesias
736.                Willian Varela Medina
737.                Wilmer Moreira Proenza
738.                Xiomara de las Mercedes Cruz Miranda
739.                Xiomara Martín Jiménez
740.                Yadira Castro González
741.                Yadira Castro Rodríguez
742.                Yadira Elena Rivera Montero
743.                Yailenis González Prieto
744.                Yaite Diasnelli Cruz Sosa
745.                Yamilé Diego Samper
746.                Yamilé Más Guzmán
747.                Yamilet Lai Sangrone
748.                Yanara Monsol Reyes
749.                Yandis Martín Peraza
750.                Yaneisis Herrera Cabral
751.                Yanelis Iraida Flores Ramos
752.                Yaniel Losa Cailos
753.                Yanisbel Boza García
754.                Yanni Andrade Hidalgo
755.                Yaquelín Morales Fernández
756.                Yarolan Catalán Veiga
757.                Yasel Reinoso Ramos
758.                Yaser Negrín Naranjo
759.                Yaser Pérez Perdomo
760.                Yasiel Enrique Machado Rodríguez
761.                Yasmani Borroto Bergolla
762.                Yasmani Cuesta González
763.                Yasmani Ramírez Rodríguez
764.                Yasmani Suárez Tan
765.                Yasmani Trujillo Álvarez
766.                Yasmel Montoya Avilé
767.                Yatsiret  Ventilla Quiñones
768.                Yeimel Hernández Núñez
769.                Yeiny Cruz Rivero
770.                Yeisi Romero Fernández
771.                Yelenis Delgado Cué
772.                Yelenis Hernández Palacios
773.                Yelenis Rodríguez Peraza
774.                Yemalet Sangrone
775.                Yeni Peraza Rodríguez
776.                Yenni Quesada Rodríguez
777.                Yeris Curbelo Aguilera
778.                Yillian  Padrón Armenteros
779.                Yislani Damina Pérez Ponciano
780.                Yoan Ricardo Llerena
781.                Yoan Rodríguez Fernández
782.                Yoandra Dieguez Rodríguez
783.                Yoandri Jorrín Alvárez
784.                Yoani Olivares Despaine
785.                Yoani Rosa Garrido
786.                Yoanis Martínez Acosta
787.                Yoanis Ortega Benítez
788.                Yoannis Díaz Antúnez
789.                Yobel Sevilla Martínez
790.                Yoel Jeréz Pérez
791.                Yoel Junco Hernández
792.                Yoel Martínez Acosta
793.                Yoelvis Boza García
794.                Yoisiel Quevedo González
795.                Yoitel Machado Elías
796.                Yoján Adrián Sevilla Ramírez
797.                Yolanda Pérez Díaz
798.                Yolangel Pupo Pérez
799.                Yoleisis Pérez Ferrer
800.                Yordanka Web Valtineri
801.                Yosbel Torres Ibarbia
802.                Yosli Zamora Casimiro
803.                Yosvani Martínez Santillán
804.                Yosvany Brito Alonso
805.                Yosvany Pupo Pérez
806.                Yoysi Alfredo Camacho Núñez
807.                Yudani Fleitas Orozco
808.                Yudesy Rondón Villavicencio
809.                Yudier Blanco Pacheco
810.                Yudiset Amores Aguilera
811.                Yuleidys López González
812.                Yulesis Hernández Gutiérrez
813.                Yuliet Margarita Rodriguez Báez
814.                Yuni Guerrero Rey
815.                Yuniel Mendoza Fonseca
816.                Yuniel Santana Hernández
817.                Yunier Álvarez Montero
818.                Yunier Blanco Fernández
819.                Yunier Estenóz Martínez
820.                Yunier Jiménez de la Cruz
821.                Yunieski Calderón Veitía
822.                Yunieski Gainza Acosta
823.                Yunieski Legrat Cusaga
824.                Yunieski Perdomo Echazabal
825.                Yunior Cortina Ramírez
826.                Yunior Quesada Pupo
827.                Yuriet Pedroso González
828.                Yurileisis Alemán Ferrera
829.                Yurisander Aguilera Naranjo
830.                Yurise Torres Torriente
831.                Yurisleidis Viero Blanco
832.                Yusmel Acosta Aguilera
833.                Yusniel Chabeco Rodríguez
834.                Yusnier Pérez Peña

Cuban Dissidents Suffer Violent Crackdown

The Castro regime has unleashed a violent crackdown against Cuba's democracy leaders.

Here's a summary:

At 6 a.m., Castro's secret police ransacked the home of Cuban democracy leader, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez."  He was beaten and arrested, along with his wife, Yris Perez Aguilera.

Roberto Guerra, a Cuban independent journalist and head of the Hablemos Press (CIHPRESS) news service, was beaten by Castro's security agents (pictured below).

Other CIHPRESS journalists, including Mario Hechavarria Driggs and Yeander Farres Delgado, were arrested. Meanwhile, a state security agent sought to intentionally strike Raul Ramirez Puig with a car.

Martha Beatriz Roque, former prisoner of conscience, was also intercepted and beaten by two agents outside her home.

Thirty members of The Ladies in White, including its leader Berta Soler, and twenty other democracy activists, were arrested as they tried to attend a trial involving one of their colleagues, Yanelis Cutino.

A half-dozen members of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU), including its leader Jose Daniel Ferrer, were intercepted, beaten and arrested as they traveled from Santiago de Cuba to Las Tunas.

For the 22nd week in a row, 27 UNPACU activists were arrested in Santa Clara, including its regional leader, Sakharov Prize recipient Guillermo Farinas, who is facing threats of being confined to a psychiatric hospital.

More "reform" you can't believe in.

Protests in Washington, Beatings and Arrests in Havana

Last weekend, as pro-democracy activists were being beaten and arrested for peacefully protesting or assembling in Havana, pro-Castro groups enjoyed a sunny protest and gathering in Washington, D.C. to push for the release of imprisoned Cuban spies.

Dictatorship vs. Democracy.

Here's the pro-Castro protest at The White House:

And their gathering beforehand:

The Case of Odebrecht in Venezuela

It's really hard to comprehend how Miami-Dade County politicians have poured -- and some still want to pour -- billions in Cuban-American and Venezuelan-American taxpayer money into Odebrecht's coffers.

From Infodio:

Think corruption in Brazil's World Cup is bad? The Odebrecht case in Venezuela

Brazilians are meant to be incensed with Dilma Roussef for what they perceive as squandering public money and corruption in contracting construction companies for infrastructure projects related to the coming World Cup. The big winners are privately-held companies, among which Odebrecht, the one that has benefited the most according to Bloomberg. While I can't tell whether Odebrecht won those contracts from Roussef's government in open and legitimate bidding processes, as it should have, it is worth shedding some light on Odebrecht's operations in Venezuela.

Odebrecht refers to 21 projects, either finished or ongoing, in its Venezuela page. Most of them are massive infrastructure projects (subway systems, bridges over Orinoco and Maracaibo Lake, hydroelectric dams, etc.) worth hundreds of billions of dollars. The official database of public contractors in Venezuela contains details of 32 projects in which Odebrecht is involved. However there is scant information about exactly how much public money has chavismo given to Odebrecht over the years. Some sources say it's $20 billion, though it is difficult to know for certain, as most projects incur into cost overruns due to corruption, overpriced materials, etc. Other sources have claimed that, by end of 2010, Venezuela owed Odebrecht over $1 billion (of a total $5.4 billion), and its contracts with Venezuela represented 38% of the company's operations outside of Brazil.

What is practically impossible to find is information about public calls to tender, made by the Venezuelan government, won by Odebrecht. Contracts appear to have been granted "a dedo," meaning Hugo Chavez deciding after a little chat with Lula, or Dilma, to grant billions of dollars worth of contracts to the Brazilian giant. In the absence of open bids for such contracts in Venezuela, just how can Odebrecht explain its "success" in our country? The answer lies in Odebrecht's contributions to Lula's Workers Party:
each real donated to campaigns of worker party lawmakers yielded 14 to 39 reais worth of contracts in less than three years... Campaign donations from five Odebrecht units grew to 37.9 million reais in 2012, from 8.1 million in 2002, according to the electoral tribunal. Odebrecht’s building unit gave 6 million reais to the worker’s party in 2013, as incumbent Rousseff, a former guerrilla who was tortured by the military regime, seeks re-election. 
Lula did the bidding for Odebrecht in Venezuela, and so has Dilma, the "tortured former guerrilla" that hasn't uttered a peep about brutality and torture unleashed by Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. Torture and other atrocities, when its done by those on Dilma's side, are perfectly kosher, you see? Odebrecht has, of course, returned the favor in kind. That's the entrepreneurial class in Brazil as well as in the rest of Latin America, where connections and nepotism trump innovation and transparency any day of the week.

Experts consulted by Bloomberg referred to Odebrecht as "the most efficient of the builders at transitioning from the dictatorship to democracy". And that efficiency is best seen in Venezuela, where Odebrecht is the power behind Itaramaty's 11-year long policy of keeping chavismo in office at any cost. In 2002-2003, when PDVSA was brought to a halt during a national strike, it was "union leader" Lula who came to Chavez's rescue by shipping gasoline to Venezuela. Lula, after all, is on record admitting to his criminal comrades at the Foro de Sao Paulo that keeping Chavez in power was part of the Forum strategy.

So can anyone expect that in Brazil, Odebrecht's fiefdom since the times of dictators, the company was not going to get the lion share of public expenditure? It is a good thing that the world is about to turn its attention to Brazil, a few ugly stories, as Odebrecht's "success", will hopefully make it to mainstream media.

U.S. Chamber Seeks Leniency on Terrorist Financing

From The Financial Times:

US Chamber of Commerce voices concern over potential BNP fine

The US Chamber of Commerce, the powerful American business lobby, has voiced concern about the potential scale of a fine on French bank BNP Paribas by US regulators, echoing anxious demands by the French government for moderation.

Speaking in Paris, Myron Brilliant, head of international affairs for the USCC, said the Chamber might “weigh in” on the issue if BNP was hit by “excessive” penalties for breaking US sanctions on doing business with Iran, Sudan and Cuba.

“We worry about actions by government and other entities that could undermine the business environment and create uncertainty,” Mr Brilliant told the Financial Times. “We do not want to see a chilling impact on investment into the US.”

Cubans Don't Believe Castro's "Excuses"

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
In her new book, "Hard Choices," former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton writes that the embargo has given the two Castro brothers “an excuse not to enact democratic reforms.”

First, to believe that the Castro brothers, who have ruled over Cuba with a brutal, totalitarian iron-fist, will suddenly enact democratic reforms -- as if they had been "closet democrats" for five decades -- if the U.S.embargo is lifted is simply naive (at best).

Second, when U.S. leaders make this argument, it's music to the Castro's ears. As we recently explained in The Hill, "Dictators Need No Excuses to Crackdown on Dissent."

Third, this argument has been consistently debunked by polling data from the island showing that less than 10% of Cubans believe the U.S. embargo is the cause of their ills.

Finally, this argument borders on insult, for it implies the Cuban people are somehow ignorant or stupid as to the nature of the Castro regime (and its history of lies).

Just yesterday, Cuban independent journalist, Camilo Ernesto Olivera, visited the Havana neighborhoods of San Leopoldo and Coco Solo, which tourists don't frequent, and asked them about recent efforts to lobby President Obama to bypass Congress in further easing sanctions.

Here's how the conversation went (in Diario de Cuba):

(Caution: There's foul language)

An elderly woman said: "If the Americans ease the embargo any further, then they better get on all fours so Raul and these SOBs can screw them. These guys in the government are a mafia, not a government that one can negotiate anything with."

A group of men noted: "You can tell that those who signed that [Council of Americas] letter are living comfortably in the 'Yuma' and have no idea how things work here. For me, the real blockade is not the one by the Americans. The real blockade here is the government's, which doesn't let anyone live. It doesn't give, nor tells you where to get.  They're afraid of people having money."

A young man noted on the Castro regime's recent crackdown on "mules" who transport merchandise: "The Generals who own the hard-currency stores want all the business for themselves. The poor quality and expired items that they sell at these stores for gold prices are a fraud, but they force it upon people as they have the arms and the terror mechanisms in their hands."

Finally, another man noted: "That I'm aware, it wasn't the Americans that closed the 3D home theaters or the clothing stores. It's not the Americans choking the private taxis. The Americans aren't the one who send inspectors or the police so that one can't move. It's hard to put food on the table. But if you say it loudly, they arrest you... and it's not the Americans, it's this government that's worthless..."