How Obama's Policy is Stifling Economic Liberalization in Cuba

Saturday, April 16, 2016
In April 2014, we argued:

"Based on the lessons of history, those who still believe 'self-employment' licenses are 'a step in the right direction' toward capitalism, actually have all the more reason to support U.S. sanctions."

Click here to understand why.

Unfortunately, President Obama chose to ignore history for the sake of his legacy.

Thus, we're now seeing how Obama's policy is stifling -- rather than encouraging -- private sector activity in Cuba.

Not only have the number of "self-employed" licensees dropped since December 17th, 2014, but the Castro regime no longer has any incentive (need) to liberalize Cuba's economy.

Here's why --

From Barrons:

Does Cuba Communist Party Want Foreign Investment?

Don’t expect much from the Cuban Communist Party congress to be held Saturday through April 19.

The recent rapprochement with the United States will probably undermine the regime’s sense of urgency regarding the pace of liberalization on the island since it has led to an increase in dollar inflows from both remittances and increased tourism and reduced the need to expand local private sector activity,” say Eurasia Group analysts Risa Grais-Targow and Agata Ciesielska.

State media say that just 21% of the more than 300 economic updates announced at the last Communist congress were implemented, according to Eurasia Group. With debt forgiven by China, Russia, Mexico and Japan, Cuba is likely to take a “very gradual approach” to economic liberalization, the analysts say. While much attention has been paid to repression of citizens, consider this, again from Grais-Targow and Ciesielska:

The government is also beholden to elite interests, which will continue to operate as a constraint to more substantive reform. Senior figures within the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) have significant business interests in the country’s most important sectors, including sugar, tourism, and cigar production. In fact, the military’s holding company, GAE, reportedly employs 20% of Cuba’s workers and includes the island’s largest tourism corporation, real estate, retail, and warehouses, as well as the Mariel special trade zone, run by Castro’s son-in-law.”

Castro's Port of Mariel Larceny

Here's the result of the much-hyped joint venture between the world' most corrupt company, Brazil's Odebrecht, and Castro's military.

Excerpt by Pablo Pascual Mendez Pina in Diario de Cuba:

The payment of $957 million for a port that does not even meet the draft requirements to accommodate post-Panamax and super post-Panamax megavessels means that the master plan for Mariel container terminal ought to be published for the public's consideration.

Taking as a reference the costs of the Moín/Limón master plan and its constructive complexities, we estimate that, conservatively – with the help of specialists who requested anonymity – the cost of the infrastructure and civil works for the Port of Mariel should not have exceeded $300 million. To this number we can add $150 million for equipment and another $100 million for additional items, which would yield a total amount of $550 million – an estimate aggravating suspicions of a cost overrun, to the tune of $400 million.

If this concern were to be substantiated, we could state that the Port of Mariel was either a terrible business deal or, in the worst-case scenario, a transaction concealing criminal activity.

Stats of the Week: Cuba's Ageist Regime and Migration Crisis

1. Only 55 of the 1,000 hand-picked delegates to Castro's VII Communist Party Congress are under 35 years old.

Source: Diario de Cuba.

2. Nearly 1 out of every 139 Cubans might cross into the U.S. from Mexico this year.

Source: Adam Isacson's Latin America Blog.

Panama Intercepts Major Drug Shipment From Cuba

Friday, April 15, 2016
The Panamanian authorities have intercepted over 401 kilos of cocaine in a shipment from Cuba en route to Belgium.

The cocaine was found in a container camouflaged by molasses tanks.

Details are forthcoming of this interdiction at the Colon Free Trade Zone, which has been dubbed by intelligence officials as "Operation Fiery Cane" ("Caña Brava").

It's important to note that the interception -- also by the Panamanian authorities -- of 240 tons of illegal weapons from Cuba to North Korea in 2013 was originally under suspicion of a drug shipment.

It's also important to note that Cuba's port facilities are owned -- and tightly-controlled -- by the Castro regime's military.

In other words, the only criminal network that has access to Cuba's ports is the Castro regime itself.

In 2013, the Obama Administration allowed Cuba's regime to get away scot-free, despite clear evidence that it was at the center of a major illegal shipment of arms from its Port of Mariel to North Korea.

Similarly, the Obama Administration remained mum in March 2015, when the Castro regime was (again) caught smuggling 100 tons of weapons hidden in a a cereal shipment via through Colombia.

Old habits die hard for the Castro regime.

P.S. In 1993, a U.S. federal indictment listed Gen. Raul Castro (that's right, our new "partner") as part of a conspiracy that smuggled seven and a half tons of cocaine into the United States over a 10-year period. However, at the last minute, a recently inaugurated Clinton Administration got cold-feet and squashed it.

Kerry Feigns 'Outrage' at Carnival's Discriminatory Cuba Cruises

Yesterday, during a visit to Miami, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Carnival shouldn't succumb to Cuba's discriminatory policies.

The United States government will never support, never condone discrimination. And the Cuban government should not have the right to enforce on us a policy of discrimination against people who have the right to travel,” Kerry told The Miami Herald.

Except the Obama Administration already did. But now it's in damage control mode.

In July 2015, when the Obama Administration licensed Carnival's cruises to Cuba, it knew perfectly well that the Castro regime banned anyone born on the island (regardless of current citizenship) from entering the island through vessels.

The Treasury Department knew, which issued the license. And the State Department knew, which issued the foreign policy guidance.

Moreover, we warned them at the time.

Last month, during President Obama's visit to Cuba, he further heralded these cruises and pushed the Castro regime to green-light their entry, knowing (unless his echo chamber failed to brief him properly) about these discriminatory policies.

You simply don't negotiate the terms of a deal after-the-fact.

But they all thought no one would care, notice -- or that it would take care of itself.

This is similar to the missing Hellfire missile, which had been held by the Castro regime since June 2014 (and shared with God-know whom). Yet, regardless, the Obama Administration proceed to embrace Castro, establish diplomatic relations and ease sanctions.

It wasn't until Castro's possession of the missile was revealed -- nearly two years later -- by The Wall Street Journal in January 2016 that the Obama Administration was shamed into taking action.

So spare us the fake indignation, Mr. Secretary.

Carnival Launches the ‘Hate Boat’ to Cuba

By Mike Gonzalez in The Daily Signal:

Carnival Launches the ‘Hate Boat’ to Cuba

Ordinarily taking a cruise to Cuba would not rate high in my house.

Being trapped on a ship packed with “wild and crazy” middle-agers eager to “partay” on a conga line would be my wife’s idea of Hades. As for me, I have vowed not to return to Cuba until it’s free, and have not returned in 44 years.

But I must admit that Carnival Cruises is making it very tempting to try to book passage. Their recently announced discriminatory policy of refusing to take Cuban-Americans to the island of their birth puts a large, neon “Sue Me” sign right next to their company logo.

Oh, and there’s also the added bonus of exposing the fact that Carnival’s policy epitomizes what’s wrong with President Obama’s (sometimes literal) embrace of the Castros. Like all dictators, the Castros are bacterial: Touch them, and you get contaminated.

Carnival has now caught the Castros’ cooties. The same will happen to that nice company near you if it tries to do business with Cuba. It, too, will find out that it can only do business with Raul Castro’s son-in-law, General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Calleja, the man in charge of the Cuban economy.

Carnival’s policy is so stupid even Secretary of State John Kerry tried to distance the administration from the company on Thursday. “They should not embrace a policy that is Cuban, which winds up discriminating against Americans,” Kerry told Miami’s Channel 10.

Bloomberg laid out what’s at stake very well in this story with the telling headline, “Want to Do Business in Cuba? Prepare to Partner With the General.”

If you do, please understand you’re giving the general money to buy more bullets and torture implements. You may still want to go ahead, but consider there might not be enough NyQuil in the world to help you sleep after that.

Just consider the principle here. The Castro regime doesn’t recognize Cuban-Americans as Americans. And Carnival’s okay with that. It has sold out Cuban-Americans and abased itself in exchange for profit.

Let’s be clear here. This is what our “embassy” in Cuba says on its website:

"The Government of Cuba does not recognize the U.S. nationality of U.S. citizens who are Cuban-born or are the children of Cuban parents. These individuals will be treated solely as Cuban citizens and may be subject to a range of restrictions and obligations, including military service."

Get that? The Cuban regime says it owns you if you or your parents are Cuban-born. It does not recognize your decision to become a naturalized American, nor does it accept that being born in America makes you and American. As far as the Castros and their cronies are concerned, Cubans and their children belong to them and are incapable of ever breaking free.

And for good measure, the Cuban government says that people born in Cuba cannot come in by sea. Carnival will abide with that and will not book any American born in Cuba on any of its Cuba-bound cruises.

Would a suit against Carnival succeed?

It’s unclear whether Carnival is violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars American “places of public accommodation” from discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, or national origin.”

A federal lawsuit has already been filed in Miami. The issue is whether the act applies overseas, though many say it does as the passengers are embarking here.

But either way, Carnival knows it is violating the spirit of the law, and that what matters here is the court of public opinion. Carnival deserves shunning. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., born in the U.S. to Cuban parents, put it well when he said,

"I never could have fathomed an American company could be so blinded by the prospect of profit in Cuba that it would enter into a business deal with the Castros that tramples on the civil rights of our own American citizens. Make no mistake–by discriminating against Cuban-Americans, Carnival is allowing the Castro regime to extend its oppressive reach to our shores."

It’s impossible to know what Carnival’s executives were thinking when they agreed to let the Castros dictate their policy to their company. This “Love Boat” is headed to court.

Sun-Sentinel Editorial: Carnival Should Table Launch of Cuba Cruise

Thursday, April 14, 2016
From The Sun-Sentinel's Editorial Board:

Carnival should table launch of Cuba cruise

The decision may be disappointing, but it shouldn't be tough for Carnival Corp., now engulfed in a public relations nightmare over its maiden cruise to Cuba.

Now that it knows Cuban-born Americans would be forbidden from disembarking, Carnival should cancel its week-long May 1 voyage to Cuba, the first by an American cruise line.

Indeed, until Cuba changes its long standing policy of prohibiting native-born Cuban Americans from arriving by sea, all American cruise lines, ferry operators and shipping companies should collectively call a time-out on plans to sail to Cuba.

It is not OK for an American business to abide by policies that discriminate against Americans. It is not OK for an American business to check the birthplace on citizens' passports before letting them aboard. It is not OK for an American business to create two classifications of Americans, no matter the rhetoric of presidential candidates who would discriminate against Muslim-Americans and gays.

Carnival should follow the lead of Norwegian Cruise Line, which two years ago faced a similar defining moment when Tunisia refused to let about 20 Israeli citizens disembark. In that case, Norwegian said it didn't know Tunis was going to prohibit Israelis from entering. Still, the next week, the cruise line dropped Port of Tunis from its itineraries.

Upon receiving permission to launch cruises to Cuba two weeks ago, Carnival had expected the Castro government would lift its restriction on Cuban-born Americans who arrive by sea, as it has for those who arrive by air. Now, the company is trying to negotiate the policy change. "We believe we have a much better chance in helping to effect that change by working within the current boundaries of the policy while engaged in an active commercial agreement," it said in a statement.

But it's hard to see how moving forward with a 700-person cruise, every other week, will better convince Cuba to change its policy toward seafaring Cuban-born Americans.

Indeed, it sounds to us like Carnival, in charting a new business frontier, is most focused on being first in the market. And to be first to Havana, it's submitting to a communist dictator who wants to stick it to Cuban Americans.

One of those discriminated against is Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago, who was born in Cuba and tried to buy a ticket on the Fathom-brand ship that will be Carnival's first to cruise to Cuba. Once Santiago told the travel agent she'd been born on the island, she was told Cuban law prohibited her from entering and that "Fathom cannot accommodate Cuban-born individuals."

"Something precious is lost when a foreign government dictates what kinds of U.S. citizens can sail out of the Port of Miami," Santiago wrote. "Forty-seven years in this country, 36 as a U.S. citizen, a voter — and I cannot sail on an American cruise ship because Cuba says so."

We stand with Santiago — and all Cuban Americans — appalled to learn Carnival is putting its business goals ahead of its commitment to good corporate citizenship. We similarly call on the other cruise companies, standing in line to sail to Cuba, to similarly refuse to accept discrimination against Americans based on where they were born.

Carnival says it is committed to diversity. But more than a corporate mission statement, people judge a company by its actions. And in this case — let alone, in this market — Carnival is acquiescing to discrimination.

For those of us who have supported President Obama's decision to re-engage Cuba after 54 years of failed policies, it's again disappointing that Raul Castro refuses to move more quickly in breaking down even small barriers, like this one. Instead, it's feared protests over this policy — and editorials like this one — will cause Castro to dig in his heels.

In this moment, we're reminded of something President Obama said during his historic trip to Cuba last month.

"In the United States, we have a clear monument to what the Cuban people can build: It's called Miami."

Miami is a great city in large part because of many great contributions by Cuban Americans.

A good number of our Cuban-born neighbors may never want to visit the island until it embraces real democratic change, but that should be their choice.

Unless Cuba accepts all Americans who'd like to cruise there, Carnival should table the launch of its inaugural cruise to Cuba.

And to show support for our fellow Americans, other citizens booked on this cruise might similarly want to reconsider their plans.

Miami Beach Commission Nixes Mayor's Idea for Cuban Consulate

From The Miami New Times:

Miami Beach Commission Nixes Mayor's Idea for Cuban Consulate

When Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine not only became the first sitting head of a Dade County city to visit Cuba but also sparked the possibility of a hosting a Cuban consulate in Miami Beach, it could be seen as a litmus test to see how charged the third rail of local politics still is.

Turns out it's still pretty damn charged.

The Miami Beach Commission voted 4-3 today to oppose the idea of a consulate after a rash of local outrage. The vote is a rare blow for Levine, a mayor who usually enjoys majority support from a city commission packed full of his allies. 

Levine traveled to Cuba with students from Tufts University last month, and during a meeting with Cuba’s Foreign Relations Ministry, he broached the idea of a consulate. Commissioner Ricky Arriola, a Cuban American himself, joined Levine on the trip and defended the idea.

“No one invited them to Miami Beach," Arriola said Monday at a meeting of the city's Hispanic Affairs Committee. "I did not. Mayor Levine did not. What we invited was the essence of the American way of talking and engaging. Just simply to talk."

Though, even the idea of talking about it proved too controversial for many local Cuban Americans.

Activists showed up to oppose the talks, and last week protestors took to the streets to chant, “No Castro in South Beach!"

Both officials in the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County have formally opposed the idea of opening a Cuban Consulate within their borders. 

With the passage of the resolution, Miami Beach now also officially opposes the idea unless serious human rights reforms are made in Cuba.

Commissioners Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, Micky Ross Steinberg, Michael Grieco and John Elizabeth Aleman voted in favor of the resolution.

Levine, however, has remained resolute in his personal support for a consulate in Miami Beach, and even accused Commissioner Grieco of playing politics by sponsoring the resolution in the first place.

“The only reason this has happened is because you have a commissioner who is trying to use this as a political ploy because he would like to run for mayor, prematurely,” Levine told The Miami Herald earlier this week. “And he believes he can get the Cuban vote by appealing to their deepest level of fear and insecurity. Which is cruel. Especially when he’s not Cuban.”

Roughly 20 percent of Miami Beach's population is of Cuban descent.

Image of the Week: Carnival's Boarding Rules

Why Are Carnival Cruises Doing Castro's Dirty Work?

By Amb. Roger Noriega in Newsweek:

Why Are Carnival Cruises Doing Castro's Dirty Work?

All hell would break loose if a U.S. cruise line refused to sell tickets to Americans of Irish, Italian or African ancestry who wished to visit their native land—and for good reason.

The decision of Carnival Cruise Line to exclude Cuban-born Americans from its newly permitted journeys to the island confirms predictions that Obama’s normalization won’t improve the regime’s values, but it will lower ours.

One of the central pillars of U.S. Cuba policy for decades has been “people-to-people” engagement: “purposeful travel,” with meaningful cultural, educational, or scientific benefits, but not tourism.

Obama has gutted most of those requirements, creating a windfall for Cuba’s state-run tourism industry—most of which is owned by the military, controlled by the Castro clan and a source of revenue for the police state.

During President Obama’s normalization announcement in 2014, he praised the potential of travel and exchange, saying:

"This is fundamentally about freedom and openness, and also expresses my belief in the power of people-to-people engagement. With the changes I’m announcing today, it will be easier for Americans to travel to Cuba, and Americans will be able to use American credit and debit cards on the island. Nobody represents America’s values better than the American people, and I believe this contact will ultimately do more to empower the Cuban people."

During his visit to Havana, President Obama praised this opening to Cuba:

"Last week, we gave approval for individual Americans to come here for educational travel. U.S. airlines will begin direct commercial flights this year. With last week’s port security announcement, we’ve removed the last major hurdle to resuming cruises and ferry service. All of which will mean even more Americans visiting Cuba in the years ahead and appreciating the incredible history and culture of the Cuban people."

Beneath all of this talk lies the harsh reality that Cuba’s problems are the product of a repressive Cuban regime that refuses to change. This reality shone through recently with a story in The Miami Herald that revealed that Carnival Cruise Line (specifically its sister company Fathom), the first to receive legal authorization for cruises to Cuba, is refusing to sell tickets to Cuban-Americans for the voyage, citing Cuba’s arbitrary prohibition on Cuban-born persons traveling home by ship.

The piece recounts the experience of María de Los Angeles Torres of the University of Chicago, a Cuban-American who supports President Obama’s Cuba policy, whose reservation was canceled when the reservation agent discovered her Cuban birth.

This news should not come as a surprise to anyone who recognizes that the Cuban government remains one of the most repressive—and vindictive— regimes in the world. The Castros have a long history of using travel restrictions as a tool for manipulation, and they continue to do so today, even as the U.S. lifts its own restrictions.

What is shocking is that the administration’s uninformed policy has allowed the dictatorship to impose its immoral laws onto American companies and citizens.

During a recent congressional hearing about Cuba, policy expert Mauricio Claver-Carone explained that the Castro regime refuses to allow critics of the regime to enter the country. This list includes academics, journalists, government officials and private citizens. Moreover, Cubans seeking to leave the country must first receive permission from the government.

While the Obama administration continues to remove restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba, it has failed to secure reciprocal action from the Castro regime. So, the Cuban dictatorship will continue to turn away those who have been too vocal in their support for liberty, and it will continue to harass those who happen to be Cuban-American.

All of this begs the question: If President Obama really believes in “the power of people-to-people engagement,” why didn’t he do more to ensure that that engagement was not restricted by either side?

While in Cuba, the president called for “the reconciliation of the Cuban people—the children and grandchildren of revolution, and the children and grandchildren of exile—that is fundamental to Cuba’s future.”

Tragically, Obama’s hollow rhetoric and careless concessions have made his administration complicit in repression. Rather than change Cuban reality for the better, he’s changed U.S. policy for the worse.

Cuban-American Bar Association to Carnival: Reconsider Discriminatory Cruises

Mr. Mickey Arison
Carnival Cruise Lines
3655 NW 87th Avenue
Miami, FL 33178

Dear Mr. Arison:

On behalf of the Cuban American Bar Association (“CABA”), a bar association representing the Cuban American legal community, including many of your South Florida customers, we write you regarding cruises to Cuba by Fathom, a cruise line company wholly owned by Carnival Corporation.

As you are aware, it has recently come to light that Cuban-born Americans are prohibited from booking trips aboard Fathom’s soon-to-be launched cruises to Cuba. See Fabiola Santiago, Carnival Cruise To Cuba Discriminates Against Class of Americans, MIAMI HERALD, April 7, 2016. Confronted with its decision to impose a categorical ban against a significant portion of South Florida’s residents (and many of Carnival’s employees and shareholders) based on their country of origin, Carnival’s spokespersons say that Fathom cannot accommodate Cuba-born persons because “current Cuban law prohibits [them] from entering Cuba via ship or sea vessel.” Having investigated the accuracy of this statement, it appears that, in reality, Carnival is acquiescing to an unwritten, ad hoc policy by the Cuban Government, which, clearly, remains intent on tightly controlling the nature of any allegedly “open” cultural exchanges between Cubans and Americans, and on prohibiting the type of “tourists” who might inconveniently bring to light Cuba’s deplorable human rights.

In essence, Mr. Arison, you have elected to partner with one of the most repressive regimes in the world—the Cuban Government—in effectively imposing a travel ban on a select group of Americans, many of whom have supported your company from its infancy, before it was worth billions of dollars. We are not surprised that the Cuban Government wants to exclude Cuban Americans from Fathom’s cruises to Cuba. The only type of American tourists that Cuba wants are those who will frequent its tourist resorts and hotels—from which Cubans themselves are excluded—while turning a blind eye to the plight of the Cuban people. No doubt, Cuban Americans, having lived under and fled Cuba’s totalitarian regime, are not the type of anodyne tourists that the Cuban Government wants to welcome to the island. We are, however, surprised that you chose to appease the Cuban Government by implementing an exclusionary policy that is intended to suppress the freedom of travel and of expression of Cuban Americans. We are surprised that you would assent to a policy of immoral discrimination, which harkens back to the 1960s, when Cubans, fleeing Fidel Castro’s dictatorial regime and finding refuge in the United States, were often confronted with prejudice and discrimination. And, we are surprised that you so blatantly have chosen corporate profit over principle adopting the totalitarian regime’s unwritten regulation that upon information and belief, can be imposed on any person seeking entry to Cuba via ship or sea vessel. On behalf of the Cuban American community, we express our profound disappointment in your decision.

Whilst many in our ranks disagree that Carnival should be conducting these cruises to begin with, that is not the present subject of our objection to your company’s decision to move forward under these circumstances. However, the fact that you have allowed yourselves to serve as conduits for the Castro regime’s disdain of, and discrimination against, Cuba-born exiles to whom they refer to as gusanos (worms) is, quite frankly, reprehensible. The lack of sensitivity or concern for a significant group of persons who call Miami their home, a city whose port accommodates your vessels and serves your business, is an open-handed slap to our community. It is equally surprising that the course of action would be endorsed by Carnival’s corporate leadership, some of whom are descendants of people victimized by totalitarian regimes and otherwise excluded from equal enjoyment of life, liberty and happiness. We sincerely hope that you will reconsider this business enterprise and set aside corporate profit and the dubious distinction of being the first cruise line to re-engage in travel from the US to Cuba and choose, instead, to subscribe to our American principles of equality and human dignity for all.

Accordingly, we ask that you reconsider your decision to have Fathom provide cruises to Cuba under these conditions. Carnival should not agree to any travel arrangement or policy that discriminates on the basis of race, creed, or nationality—especially at the behest of a foreign dictatorship. Carnival should instead follow the lead of its competitor Norwegian Cruise Lines. When the Tunisian government refused to allow passengers of Israeli origin to disembark at the Tunisia port, Norwegian simply cancelled all cruise service to Tunisia. Discussing the decision, the CEO of Norwegian stated: “We want to send a strong message to Tunisia and ports around the world that we will not tolerate such random acts of discrimination against our guests... We apologize sincerely to our guests who were affected and want them to know that we have taken the appropriate action in response.” Gene Sloan, Norwegian Drops Calls in Tunisia in Wake of Incident, USA TODAY, March 11, 2014. We expect and hope that Carnival would have a similar response in this situation.

Very truly yours,

Anna Marie Hernandez

Boycott Carnival Cruises

Tuesday, April 12, 2016
By Daniel Vazquez in Sun-Sentinel:

Boycott Carnival cruises to Cuba, until Cuban Americans are allowed to board, too

Carnival plans to launch cruises to Cuba next month.

Wonder if the corporation will hang the appropriate warning signs at all entrances?

The ones that should read: "No Dogs. No Cubans."

That's right. Carnival cruises to Cuban are set to begin May 1. But some Americans are banned from boarding: Cuban Americans.

The irony. The cruelty. The ultimate 'dis to all Americans, courtesy once again of the Castro brothers.

Here's an idea: Carnival can use leftover signs from the 1960s, the ones commonly found plastered on apartment and motel buildings that proclaimed: "No Pets, No Kids, No Cubans."

Oops. Forgot. Carnival allows kids. And service dogs. Just no Cuban Americans.

Of course, some travelers may be giddy about the opportunity to visit Cuba for the first time in 50 years. But the cost is not worth it. In any form.

Much of the money spent on food, booze and cigars by visitors to Cuba will go directly to the violent and oppressive government, now run by Fidel's little brother. The money will hardly help the Cuban people.

The biggest rub: The ban on Cuban Americans boarding a Carnival cruises was negotiated by the Cuban government, the U.S. Treasury Department and Carnival Corporation.

That means the Obama Administration is fine with discrimination against Cuban Americans -- whose parents and family were forced to flee Cuba without any belongings while running to outpace flying bullets from Fidel's goon squads.

That means the Carnival Corporation is fine with putting profits before doing the right thing, even if it insults, demeans and outrages its own customers. Carvinal is based in South Florida, and many Cuban Americans are loyal customers... Or, they were.

And all of this means, of course, that the Castros get to stick it to the U.S. again.

My advice to Carnival: Put up the "No Cubans Allowed" signs right away. To cut down on confusion. And remind a good number of your own customers why they should take their business elsewhere.

Google's Cuban Partner Admits Monitoring Users

As we posted last week, Google's new Havana center (in partnership with pro-Castro artist, Kcho) has become a playground for Cuba's spies and future cyber-warriors.

Furthermore, after passing various security checks, when regular Cubans finally get to enter the center, they are treated to censored online access.

Thus, Google has now officially become an extension of Cuba's censors.

In case you had any doubts, here are some new quotes from Kcho and the security personnel at Google's Havana center admitting such practices:

"We maintain a database to control everyone who enters," said the head of security at the Google+Kcho Mor center.

"We are monitoring all the pages being viewed because I want to know what the connection is being used for," said Kcho himself.

Google should feel very proud.

Pictured below: Raul Castro and Google's Cuban partner, Kcho.

Miami Beach Committee Opposes Possible Cuban Consulate

From Local 10:

Miami Beach committee opposes possible Cuban consulate in their city

Mayor open to possibility of Cuban consulate

Cuban exiles packed the Miami Beach City Commission chambers Monday night for a public hearing about a Cuban consulate possibly being established in the city.

After hours of discussion, the Miami Beach Hispanic Affairs Committee voted to make a recommendation to the City Commission to oppose a Cuban consulate in Miami Beach. The recommendation will be made to the commission during a meeting Wednesday.

The public hearing was called after Mayor Phillip Levine announced that he was open to the possibility of a Cuban consulate in Miami Beach, shortly before his trip to the island nation last month.

Commissioner Ricky Arriola, who is a Cuban-American, went on the trip with the mayor.

Arriola said his family lost everything when they left Cuba, and it's his belief that allowing for a Cuban consulate in the city "is an idea that should be discussed."

The meeting followed months of major changes in the relationship between the United States and Cuba.

While some see changes such as embassies opening and President Barack Obama visiting the island as positive changes, others don't feel the same.

During the meeting, Miriam De La Pena spoke about losing her son, Mario, when the Brothers to the Rescue plane on which he was traveling was shot down in 1996.

"Yes, we should have a conversation," she said. "We should have a conversation of freedom, of democracy, of human rights for our people. That's the conversation we should have with the Castro government."

Dorian Williams, who is not Cuban, said the consulate would be a symbol of pain, and he doesn't support it.

Miami-Dade County has already passed a resolution opposing the consulate.

Ladies in White Leader: Castro Sets Conditions, Obama Makes Concessions

Monday, April 11, 2016
From EFE:

Top Cuban dissident disappointed by Obama's visit: 'We'd hoped for more'

The leader of The Ladies in White, Berta Soler, hoped for more from U.S. President Barack Obama during and after his recent visit to Cuba and now is asking him to set conditions on the island's government by making an "energetic" statement demanding the cessation of police violence and establishing a general amnesty for political prisoners.

"We want the U.S. government to set conditions on the Cuban government, and what we're seeing is that the it's the Cuban (government) that is setting the conditions, and publicly, with the embargo, the Guantanamo naval base, while the U.S. (government) is giving concessions and (other) things in exchange for nothing," she said in an interview with EFE in Washington.

Soler, one of the best-known figures within the Cuban dissident movement, this week traveled to the U.S. capital to denounce the increase in repression on the island in a hearing before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.

During her five-day visit she also met with U.S. State Department officials, senators, university students and attorneys with the Commission to ask they to pressure the Cuban government to halt police violence, which "increased before, during and after Obama's visit."

"The Cuban government sent a very clear message that 'I am in charge here' and so police violence resurged. (If the government is pressured) perhaps it will not halt the arbitrary arrests but certainly these serious beatings we're receiving," she said.

Over the past 10 months, the traditional peaceful Sunday march by the Ladies in White in Havana has frequently ended with arrests, including on March 20 just a few hours before Obama's arrival on the communist island for his historic visit.

Soler participated in Obama's meeting in Havana with a group of dissidents and representatives of independent civil society, an occasion on which she made several requests of the president that she is still waiting to see fulfilled.

"We hoped for much more (from Obama's visit), there were very nice words ... but it was very necessary to energetically speak out for the cessation of police violence and for a general amnesty for political prisoners. We didn't see that, and we mentioned it in our meeting," she said.

Cuba's Diplomatic Malfeasance: Why Consulate Proponents Are Misguided

From Notes From the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Partial Chronology of Cuban Diplomatic Malfeasance 1962 - 2015

The case against opening Cuban consulates in the United States

Cuban diplomats for more than 50 years have plotted and facilitated terrorist attacks, beaten up peaceful protesters, threatened and bitten protesters using homophobic language, and participated in the cover up of extrajudicial killings. In the ongoing conversation surrounding engagement with the Castro dictatorship some inconvenient facts are being overlooked.

Castro's Cuba even by the standards of a totalitarian regime does not behave as expected. The Castro regime has explicitly viewed terrorism as a legitimate tactic to advance its revolutionary objectives. In 1970 the Cuban government published the "Mini Manual for Revolutionaries" in the official Latin American Solidarity Organization (LASO) publication Tricontinental and translated it into many languages, written by Brazilian urban terrorist Carlos Marighella, which gives precise instructions in terror tactics, kidnappings, etc. and translated into numerous languages which were distributed worldwide by the Cuban dictatorship. There is a chapter on terrorism that declares, "Terrorism is a weapon the revolutionary can never relinquish." This manual is still circulating today and the Cuban dictatorship has trained terrorists that targeted the United States and other countries in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s with acts of violence with the objective of altering political behavior. John Hoyt Williams in a 1988 article in The Atlantic reported: "In the Arab world some 3,000 [Cuban advisers] can be found in Libya and Algeria, among other things training terrorists and Polisario guerrillas."

Below is a partial record of Castro's diplomats, who are often spies, in their diplomatic posts around the world engaging in actions that should give White House policy makers pause before green lighting Cuban consulates across the United States.

New York City, USA (1962)

Cuban diplomats Elsa Montera Maldonado and Jose Gomez Abad, a husband and wife team at the Cuba Mission in New York City, who in reality were State Security agents who plotted to murder large numbers of Americans. Both were expelled for their role in a planned terrorist attack on the Friday after Thanksgiving in 1962 which sought to detonate 500 kilos of explosives inside Macy’s, Gimbel’s, Bloomingdale’s and Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal.

New York City, USA (1969)

A Black Panther plot to bomb five Manhattan department stores on April 3, 1969 during the Easter shopping rush was broken up by the indictment of 21 members of the militant group on April 2nd. The Chicago Tribune reported that they had planned to "set off bombs in the midtown stores of Macy's Alexander's. Bloomingdale's, Korvette's and Abercombie & Fitch. The bombings were to be accompanied by gunfire in the crowded stores." They had also planned to dynamite the tracks of Penn Central railroad at six location and bomb a police station in the Morrisania section of the Bronx to divert police from the railroad bombings. On April 10, 1969 Andrew Tulley reported in the Reading Eagle that that the Communist Cuban mission to the United Nations has become a financial and propaganda headquarters for promoting revolution by black militants and white radicals. Specifically, it was said, these include the Black Panther Party. The United States denied re-entry visas to two Cuban U.N. diplomats..."as a normal reaction to evidence that the Cuban mission is engaged in extensive subversive activities. One of the two diplomats, Jesus Jimenez Escobar, a mission counselor, is described as one of the Havana regime's leading experts in the export of revolution." Tully had met one of the five other Cuban diplomats then under investigation in Cuba in 1959: Lazaro Espinosa, third secretary at the U.N. missions was introduced to him by Che Guevara at the Havana Hilton Hotel as Castro's "leading technician in terrorism." The judge presiding over the Black Panther trial on February 21, 1970 had three gasoline bombs explode in front of his home. On May 13, 1971 a jury with five African American members acquitted the thirteen Black Panther members of murder conspiracy charges.

New York City, USA (1994)

The United States expelled two Cuban diplomats on April 12, 1995, for having assaulted people last August (1994) protesting in front of Cuba's mission to the United Nations. The diplomats, Edmundo Suarez Hernandez, a counselor, and Saul Hermida Griego, an attache, and their families were told are to leave by midnight Sunday. The Cuban Foreign Ministry responded with a statement that the incident in August had been "provoked by terrorist groups who go around unpunished because of the inefficiency of the New York police." On August 30, 1994 anti-Castro protesters chained themselves to the Cuban Mission door. Cuban diplomats attacked them with sticks, screaming, "Cuba Our Way!" Two diplomats wielded a crowbar and ax handle. More than a dozen police officers suffered injuries. Four Cuban Mission employees were arrested on assault charges. All four were released after claiming diplomatic immunity.  US officials said it's unusual for diplomats to be expelled for violent behavior.

Mexico City, Mexico (1996)

On March 8, 1996 a group of Mexican students belonging to various universities,  a federal representative of the PAN Cristián Castaño Contreras, and a Cuban journalist were brutally assaulted by officers and employees of the Cuban embassy during a peaceful demonstration outside of the embassy. The attack left many injured. The Cuban embassy staff even attacked a student displaying a Mexican flag and tried to destroy it. The behavior was reminiscent of a Rapid Response Brigade in Cuba used to beat down dissidents in the island.

Washington, DC (2000)

On April 14, 2000 nonviolent protesters gathered in front of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington DC. In the early evening, a band of about 10 Cuban diplomats, alleged to have been drinking took off their coats, ties and jewelry, began screaming obscenities and yelling threats, and indiscriminately attacked 20 peaceful protesters  with fists and sticks, even injuring a Secret Service officer. Among the Cuban diplomats engaged in the violent assault, according to one of the victims, was Gustavo Machin Gomez.

Paris, France (2003) 

At the Cuban embassy in Paris on April 24, 2003 Cuban diplomats engaged in the brutal beating of nonviolent protesters with iron bars and threatened them with deadly force. "Not only did members of the embassy come out with iron bars to hit us, but one of them was carrying a firearm, which he loaded while outside the embassy," RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard said. "This new element is extremely serious. It is unacceptable that persons linked to a foreign embassy should commit such offences on French territory."

Geneva, Switzerland (2004)

On April 15, 2004 when the United Nations Human Rights Commission  decided by a single vote to censure the communist regime for its human rights record a Cuban human rights defender Frank Calzon was physically attacked by members of the Cuban diplomatic delegation. According to Freedom House: "Witnesses said a Cuban delegate punched Mr. Calzon, knocking him unconscious. UN guards reportedly protected him from further assault by additional members of the Cuban delegation."

San Jose, Costa Rica (2004)

Costa Rican members of the International Committee for Democracy in Cuba led by former president Luis Alberto Monge invited other Latin American and European leaders as well as representatives of civil society to hold a “International Forum for Democracy in Cuba” on the eve of the Ibero-American Summit on November 16, 2004.  The Cuban government learned on November 9 that the event was being planned and attempted through diplomatic channels to have the event suspended, accusing participants of being: CIA agents, terrorists, and servants of the North American government, and requesting that Costa Rican authorities inform them of the steps taken to cancel the event. When Costa Rica refused to suspend the event on November 10 the Costa Rican consul was called to the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Relations and once again the demand to have the event cancelled was made.  A diplomatic note was sent on November 11 followed by a second one on November 12 with the aim of canceling the forum. Having failed to stop the event Cuban diplomats organized an act of repudiation inside the Legislative Assembly. Costa Rica's governing institutions are open to the public. The Cuban counsel Rafael Dausá Céspedes utilized groups with ideological affinities with the Cuban revolution in Costa Rica to physically storm the event to use physical intimidation and threats of violence to shut it down after it had started. Six activists including the vice-president of the Czech Senate, Jan Ruml began a “sit-in” to protest the actions of the mob. They refused to depart the room under a threat of violence. . This led to a two and a half hour stand off. Meanwhile in another part of the same building the event went off without a hitch, because the sixty did not want to surrender the room to the six.

Oslo, Norway (2010)

On May 22, 2010 Norwegian media reported that Cuban diplomat, Carmen Julia Guerra, insulted, threatened, and bit a young Norwegian woman, Alexandra Joner age 19, of Cuban descent on her mother's side while she was across the street from the Cuban embassy in Oslo. She was filming a non-violent demonstration in solidarity with the Ladies in White and in remembrance of martyred Cuban dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo. The main national newspaper in Norway, Aftenposten,  photographed the young girl with bite marks on her hand.

Mexico (2012) 

In January of 2012 there were reports in the media of Cuban, Iranian and Venezuelan diplomats meeting in Mexico to discuss cyber attacks on U.S. soil and allegedly seeking information about nuclear power plants in the United States.

Dominican Republic (2012)

On January 28, 2012 in the Dominican Republic the Cuban ambassador physically assaulted a 70 year old Cuban exile who had screamed "Down with Fidel! Down with the Castros!" This same diplomat had been already expelled by the United States in 1995 for beating up peaceful demonstrators in New York City.

Panama (2015)

On April 8, 2015 Cuban diplomats streamed out of the the Cuban Embassy in Panama attacking civil society representatives who at the time were laying flowers at a bust of Jose Marti in a public park nearby. Several activists were injured and at least one required surgery. During the Summit of the Americas Cuban diplomats disrupted official meetings in order to block Cuban and Venezuelan dissidents from taking part, despite being officially accredited.

Havana, Cuba (2016) 

Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine and Commissioner Ricky Arriola, had a highly publicized meeting in Cuba to discuss opening a Cuba consulate on Miami Beach with Gustavo Machin Gomez a Cuban diplomat who took part in a violent attack on peaceful demonstrators in 2000 in Washington DC. He was expelled from the United States for his espionage activities in 2002. Chris S. Simmons, a 23-year Counterintelligence Officer, from 1996-2004 involved with the majority of US Counterintelligence successes against the Castro regime provided the background on the Cuban Foreign Ministry's, deputy director of North American affairs. According to Simmons, Machin was involved in the operation to "spin" the death of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas in 2012. Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero were killed in an incident in which state security agents hit their car in a second vehicle, on July 22, 2012. These are the kind of individuals we will have in our community if a Cuban consulate is opened.

Obama's Cuban Migration Crisis Isn't Going Away

From The Miami Herald:

Cuban migrants: The exodus though Central America continues

Some 2,000 Cubans are again stranded on the Costa Rica-Panama border

More than 700 others are at a landing spot where they arrive by sea from Colombia

The ashes from the recent Cuban migration crisis are still smoldering, and another mess is underway.

Less than a month after Costa Rica and Panama thought they had put an end to a crisis that exploded in 2015 and left more than 9,500 Cubans stranded in both countries until this March, the seeds of a new migration storm have sprouted and are prospering along the porous and fragile Costa Rica-Panama border.

According to a report by Panama’s Migration Service with updated data through April 6, at least 2,723 Cuban migrants have been detained in that country.

In Paso Canoas, the main border crossing with Costa Rica, at least 1,987 Cubans are stranded there, including: 53 girls, 48 ​​boys, 714 women and 1,172 men. And in Puerto Obaldia, the point where Cuban migrants from the island arrive by sea from Colombia, there are 736, including: 30 boys, 27 girls, 419 men and 260 women.

The report said the number of migrants increased significantly over the past three years: from 1,154 in 2012 to 21,023 in 2015. The total from 2012 to March 2016 is 35,905.

Carnival Should Follow Former Norwegian CEO's Lead

Sunday, April 10, 2016
Note the stark contrast between Norwegian Cruise Line's rejection of Tunisia's discriminatory practices vs. Carnival's acquiescence of Cuba's discriminatory practices.

As The Miami Herald's Fabiola Santiago reminds us, all that's missing from Carnival's Cuba cruises are the old nefarious signs, "No Cubans. No Blacks. No Jews. No Dogs."

From The Algemeiner:

Norwegian Cruise Line Cancels Tunisia Stops After Country Bars Israeli Tourists

The Norwegian Cruise Line announced Tuesday that it is canceling all of its remaining port calls to Tunisia and ceasing all future port calls there in response to the Tunisian government’s refusal to allow a group of Israelis to disembark the Norwegian Jade ship in the Tunis-based port of La Goulette on Sunday.

About a dozen Israelis were denied entry and singled out among hundreds of tourists. “[Cruise staff] were very elusive,” said Ed Glina, a Canadian tourist on the ship who witnessed the incident and stayed on board in solidarity with the Israelis.

“They said they got an email from the immigration department in Tunisia stating Israelis were not allowed to get off the ship. They were not given any reason why Israelis were not allowed off the ship—they indicated that in previous months when they had been to Tunisia, Israelis were allowed to get off—and that they didn’t know why this was happening,” Glina said, the Canadian National Post newspaper reported.

In a press statement released Tuesday and provided to, the Norwegian Cruise Line expressed outrage over the incident.

“We want to send a strong message to Tunisia and ports around the world that we will not tolerate such random acts of discrimination against our guests,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s CEO. “We are outraged by this act and the fact that we were not notified in advance of this practice. We apologize sincerely to our guests who were affected and want them to know that we have taken the appropriate action in response.”

Newsmax Prime Interview: On Carnival's Discriminatory Cuba Cruises

CHC Editor Mauricio Claver-Carone discusses Carnival's discriminatory Cuba cruises on Newsmax Prime.

Click below (or here) to watch:

Do Carnival's Cuba Cruises Violate the Civil Rights Act?

A good analysis by Frances Martel in Breitbart:

A Carnival Cruises line has announced a “very intensely cultural experience” on their inaugural voyage to Cuba for all interested Americans — except Cuban-Americans, whom the Cuban government has banned from purchasing a ticket.

Carnival’s decision to abide by discriminatory Cuban law could place it in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, though courts have been hesitant to address whether American cruise ships in international waters are still beholden to American civil rights law.

Carnival’s “Fathom” line will be sailing to the cities of Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba beginning May 1 after coming to an agreement with the communist Cuban regime. Its website promises an authentic experience: “If you’re serious in your desire to see the real Cuba from the inside, through the eyes of the Cuban people themselves.” For those concerned the experience in an impoverished communist country will be too authentic, however, Fathom promises:

"Every night, you’ll return to the comforts of the MV Adonia, where are all the details of getting from location to location in Cuba are taken care of. Enjoy the sights, the sounds, tastes and rhythms of everyday life and relax knowing that virtually all the costs, including meals, lodging, and daytime shore excursions, are already planned for you and covered in the price of your Fathom journey."

The cruise line has also published a video advertisement promising guests will experience “the culture, cuisine, and historic sights through its people.”

Journalist Fabiola Santiago of Miami’s El Nuevo Herald, noting that nowhere in Carnival’s advertising is the ban on Cuban-Americans mentioned, attempted to book a trip to Cuba for October. Her ticket was immediately canceled when Carnival required her to show them her passport, which revealed she had been born in Cuba. Her U.S. citizenship did not override her place of birth.

A Carnival spokesman issued Santiago a boilerplate statement: “Current Cuban law prohibits Cuban-born individuals from entering Cuba via ship or other sea vessel, regardless of U.S. citizenship status. For that reason, at the present time, Fathom cannot accommodate Cuban-born individuals.” When challenged, the Carnival representative appeared to suggest that the company would be content to follow any discriminatory international law should negotiating with the country in question prove profitable:

"I ask him if Carnival would have been willing to take cruise ships to South Africa during the apartheid era and not carry black people because that was the law.

He repeats that Carnival follows the laws of the countries it travels to. I guess that means the answer is yes."

When Carnival first announced its new trips — shortly after President Barack Obama’s trip to Cuba in March — reports noted that the company was “working closely” with the Cuban government, though executives expressed more concern with “infrastructure” in dilapidated Havana than the many human rights violations the Castro regime has been accused of and the possibility that Cuba would should similar disregard for the rights of its American clients.

The Cuba trip, the Miami Herald notes, costs “more than twice the price of a cruise on one of the three major cruise lines” to anywhere else in the Caribbean Sea.

Abiding by Cuba’s law banning Cuban-Americans from entering the island by sea may be a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Title II of the act prohibits American “places of public accommodation” from discriminating on the basis of “race, color, religion, or national origin.” Place of birth, naturally, would fall under “national origin.” A successful lawsuit against Carnival for its discriminatory policy would hinge on proving that a cruise ship is a place of public accommodation.

The Civil Rights Act defines places of public accommodation as “any inn, hotel, motel, or other establishment which provides lodging to transient guests.” It also includes a business that “serves or offers to serve interstate travelers or a substantial portion of the food which it serves” as well as one that “customarily presents films, performances, athletic teams, exhibitions, or other sources of entertainment which move in commerce.” As cruise ships dock, allowing passengers to seek food and entertainment elsewhere, defense attorneys may argue that a cruise ship does not fit the definition.

The highest-profile discrimination cases against cruises have not involved the Civil Rights Act, but the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In 2005, a Norwegian Cruise Lines passenger sued the cruise line alleging he was “treated as a nuisance” and unable to use many of the ship’s functions due to his wheelchair. The court found that the ADA did apply to cruise ships, and in deliberating the case, Justices raised the issue of racial discrimination:

"'During the argument, the justices voiced concern over the effect of a ruling that limited the reach of U.S. civil rights laws. If cruise ships were found to be free to discriminate against disabled persons, could they also discriminate against blacks? No sooner had the lawyer for the cruise ship industry stepped to the lectern than he was hit with such a question.'

'Are they [cruise ships] free to discriminate based on race or to practice racial segregation?' Ginsburg asked.

When the lawyer dodged the question, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor pressed the point.

'Could the ship engage in racial discrimination in selling its tickets?' she asked."

A decade later, Carnival Cruise lines settled a disability discrimination case against them for $350,000 in damages as well as a civil penalty of $55,000, the first time such a penalty was applied in the aftermath of Spector v. Norwegian Cruise Line Ltd.

In a similar, more recent case of common carrier ethnic discrimination, Kuwait Airways chose to cancel flights out of New York rather than abide by anti-discrimination law after it was sued for prohibiting Israeli nationals from purchasing tickets for its flights to London. The airway insisted that not recognizing Israeli passports as legitimate was necessary to abide by Kuwaiti law, an argument the Department of Transportation dismissed. Kuwaiti Airways still flies from New York to Kuwait City, as Israeli nationals are not allowed to enter Kuwait and as such do not pose a legal problem for them in that case.