House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is currently leading a delegation of eight Congressional Democrats to Cuba.
According to Pelosi's statement, “[the delegation] will work to advance the U.S.-Cuba relationship and build on the work done by many in the Congress over the years, especially with respect to agriculture and trade.”
No mention of freedom, democracy or human rights -- including the nearly 100 dissidents arrested over the weekend.
And apparently, unlike Pelosi's strong opposition to trade with democratic nations throughout the world, she is not bothered promoting trade with Cuba -- despite it violating every tenet of international labor rights.
Moreover, a meeting request from Cuba's famed Ladies in White, the wives, mothers, daughters and sisters of political prisoners, remains unanswered.
But nothing tells the (tragically) ironic story of the new Obama-Pelosi policy towards Cuba than the hotel she is frequenting -- The Hotel Saratoga.
It was also the hotel frequented by the recent Leahy-Flake delegation.
The Hotel Saratoga is a beautiful neoclassical structure in Old Havana. It was purchased in 1939 by Blanco Lopez and Co., headed by Jose Blanco and Jose Lopez Blanco, who were also leaders of the Association of Cuban Hotels.
In 1959, The Hotel Saratoga was confiscated by the Castro regime.
Upon the collapse of the Soviet Union, Castro saw European and Canadian tourism as a means to salvage his dictatorship. Thus, he began seducing foreign investors to invest -- in minority partnerships with the Castro regime -- in order to reconstruct the island's hotels.
In 1999, a British company, Coral Capital Group Ltd., entered into a minority partnership with the Castro regime to transform (a then-dilapidated) Hotel Saratoga into a chic, modern, 5-star property.
Coral Capital invested over $75 million in its partnership with Castro.
In 2005, the Hotel Saratoga re-opened as the swankiest hotel in Havana.
But, as always, Castro got greedy and wanted it all for himself.
Thus, in 2011, Castro confiscated Coral Capital's minority stake in The Hotel Saratoga.
And for giggles, he had Coral Capital's two senior executives in Cuba, Amado Fahkre and Stephen Purvis, imprisoned in the notorious torture facility known as Villa Marista (akin to Moscow's infamous Lubyanka).
Fahkre and Purvis spent nearly two years arbitrarily imprisoned, had all their assets confiscated and were finally expelled to Britain.
Purvis told The Telegraph about his experience as Castro's prisoner (after having been one of his biggest foreign investors):
“They decide absolutely everything about your life, even personal grooming. The idea is to separate you from your personal identity, so you lose a sense of who you are. Several inmates who passed through my cell during my time went cuckoo, and there was an attempted suicide about once a month. You’d be trying to sleep at night and suddenly there’d be this terrible wail from some other cell.”
As Pelosi and her delegation enjoy their comfortable nights at the twice-confiscated Hotel Saratoga -- embracing and promoting business with totalitarian thieves -- they should reflect on the wails from nearby Villa Marista.
Below: Pelosi enjoys a tender moment with Castro's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.
at 7:35 PM Wednesday, February 18, 2015
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