U.S.-Cuba Clinical Drug Trial (Scam) is Not the First

Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Last week, in an article entitled, "In a first, U.S. trial to test Cuban lung-cancer vaccine," The Washington Post's health reporter wrote:

"The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first clinical trial to test a Cuban drug in the United States — a lung-cancer vaccine developed in Havana."

Obama, the Castro regime and its lobbyists also celebrated and sensationalized the story.

But facts matter: Not only is this cancer drug not a vaccine -- but this U.S.-Cuba clinical trial is not a first.

These bio-scams -- courtesy of Castro's regime -- have long been authorized by U.S. law.

For example, in 2004, another one of Castro's cancer "vaccines" was licensed to U.S.-based CancerVax.

Pursuant to intense lobbying, the Treasury Department caved and authorized U.S. trials for the cancer vaccine.

Two years later, the scam was on us -- Castro's cancer vaccine was some sort of placebo.

And, in 1999, there was a similar scam with one of Castro's meningitis "drugs."

Don't believe us?

Here's The New York Times reporting on July 15, 2004:

U.S. Permits 3 Cancer Drugs From Cuba

The federal government is permitting a California biotechnology company to license three experimental cancer drugs from Cuba, making an exception to the policy of tightly restricting trade with that country.

The company, CancerVax, had said late last year that it was trying to license the drugs and had been awaiting needed permission from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. That permission has been granted, and CancerVax is expected to announce it today.

CancerVax executives said that it was the first time an American biotechnology company had obtained permission to license a drug from Cuba, a country that some industry executives and scientists say is surprisingly strong in biotechnology for a developing nation. In 1999, SmithKline Beecham, a large conventional pharmaceutical company now known as GlaxoSmithKline, licensed a Cuban vaccine for meningitis B that it is testing in clinical trials.

U.S. Companies See Grim Outlook in Cuba

A policy that stems from extortion (the taking of American hostage Alan Gross) will never shake it loose.

Hence, the Castro regime is extorting U.S. companies today, in the same manner as it extorted Obama in 2014 and the farm lobby since 2001.

Moreover, no matter how much kowtowing Obama and the U.S. Chamber do -- it will never curry sufficient favor with the Castro regime, nor alter its abusive behavior.

From AP:

US companies see grim outlook in Cuba despite Obama opening

For a while Saul Berenthal and Horace Clemmons were the 70-something poster boys of U.S.-Cuba detente.

The retired software entrepreneurs made worldwide headlines by winning Obama administration permission to build the first U.S. factory in Cuba since 1959. Cuban officials lauded their plans to build small tractors in the Mariel free-trade zone west of Havana. But after more than a year of courtship, the Cuban government told Berenthal and Clemmons to drop their plans to build tractors in Cuba, without explanation, Berenthal said Monday.

A month-and-a-half ago, their first tractors started rolling off the assembly line -- in the town of Fyffe, Alabama, population about 1,000.

“Producing the tractors in Mariel was not going to happen,” Berenthal said.

He said the company is already selling tractors to customers in the U.S. and Australia, and has had inquiries from Peru, Mexico and Ethiopia. He also still hopes to sell to Cuba.

Two years into President Barack Obama’s campaign to normalize relations with Cuba, his push to expand economic ties is showing few results. Apart from a few marquee deals for big U.S. brands, formal trade between the two countries remains at a trickle.

The mood was subdued among U.S. companies exhibiting Monday at the International Fair of Havana, the island’s biggest general-interest trade fair. As Cuba trumpeted new deals with Russia and Japan, U.S. corporate representatives staffing stands at a pavilion shared with Puerto Rico said they saw little immediate prospect for doing business with Cuba.

“We know we have to be here, to show our willingness to be here,” said Diego Aldunate, Latin America director for Illinois-based Rust-Oleum paints.

He and a colleague, Oscar Rubio, said they were waiting for potential clients from Cuba’s small worker-owned cooperative sector to stop by their stand, but by midafternoon no one had appeared.

The Cuban government maintains a monopoly on importing, exporting and on virtually all sales of products inside the country, making the state bureaucracy the final arbiter of what business gets done.

Some see the stagnant state of official trade with the U.S. as a conscious decision by the Cuban government to limit commerce to a few high-profile bites of the apple while funneling most business toward European and Asian companies, in order to keep the U.S. business community hungry for more and pushing Congress to do away with the embargo.

"The Cuban government is using the interest by U.S. companies as bait to entice the interest of companies in other countries," said John Kavulich of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, a private group that produces mostly skeptical analyses of the prospects of U.S.-Cuba trade. "The Cuban government is saying, 'Let's not give any more than absolutely necessary to U.S. companies,' so that the companies will continue to salivate toward illusory potential opportunities. There's far more inspiration and aspiration than reality."

Castro's War on 'Paladares' is Just the Beginning

The "experts" assured us that Castro's latest "reforms" were "irreversible" -- unlike those in the 1990s.

We argued that they were indeed reversible -- and that Obama's sanctions relief would stifle any real or further reforms. (Click here to read more.)

We were right. 

By Orlando Freire Santana in Diario de Cuba:

The war on paladares may be just the beginning

The recent announcement by the Council of the Provincial Administration of Havana (CAP), which contains a number of provisions governing the operation of Cuba's paladares (private restaurants), speaks of order and the discipline that should prevail at these businesses. A detailed analysis of some of these directives, however, reveals that their true aim is to prevent these establishments from becoming too successful, and escaping the authorities' control.

For example, if a musician who entertains customers is very popular, but does not belong to an Institute of Music company, he may not be hired by a paladar. And not allowing these establishments to acquire "illegal goods" could greatly their numbers. In the absence of a wholesale market, they would be limited to buying at retail stores, which suffer from severe shortages.

Another provision imposes a ban on importing goods for commercial purposes, as these transactions are not permitted by the General Customs Administration of the Republic. The measure, which would also affect the options the paladares are able to offer their customers, is consonant with the regime's desire to suppress the emerging private sector on the Island, thereby frustrating President Barack Obama and his desire to see it flourish.

Finally, the refusal to allow paladares to expand and, without abandoning their primary mission, also function as clubs or discos, is perhaps the clearest sign of the authorities' intentions.

The Government's actions against the paladares cannot be seen as an isolated incident against just one form of self-employment. Rather, it comes within the context of a counteroffensive recently unleashed against private activities that those in power consider "more lucrative". In this way the wave of repression against the paladares constitutes the second chapter in a script that began with the campaign against Cuba's almendrones, or private taxis.

Despite denials in the official rhetoric, at heart Castroism is antagonistic to private activity, and only allows it when it deems it expedient. No one should forget what happened back in 1996: after using certain market mechanisms, including expanding self-employment, to mitigate the economic collapse from the "Special Period," the Government halted reform and almost suspended all self-employment, all under the logic that “in a socialist country, most workers should be State employees.”

This counteroffensive against the self-employed cannot be separated from the famous section 104 of the "Conceptualisation of the Cuban Economic and Social Model of Socialist Development," which states that "The concentration of property and wealth in non-State natural or legal persons is not permitted, in accordance with legislation and consistent with the principles of our socialism." This statement, after being approved at the VII Congress of the Communist Party (PCC), has been echoed at subsequent meetings by high-ranking hardliners in the Castro regime.

As already stated, the containment of the self-employed by preventing them from importing or exporting products, seeks to counter the measures that President Obama may adopt to support Cuban entrepreneurs. The US president has backed this type of support ever since reaching the White House, and did so again during his visit to the Island, and now in his policies governing relations with Cuba.

Wisdom tells us that when they go after your neighbor, they can go after you too, such that landlords renting out homes and rooms ought to be on their guard. They, along with drivers and those running paladares, form a trio that has always remained in the crosshairs of the tax authorities. Renters may well be the next targets.

How Obama Was (Again) Outmaneuvered by Cuba's Regime #UNGA

Sunday, October 30, 2016
This week, the Obama Administration (literally) celebrated its abstention from a resolution presented at the United Nations General Assembly ("UNGA") by Cuba's dictatorship condemning a U.S. law.

In remarks explaining away the Obama Administration's shameful (and unconstitutional) unwillingness to defend U.S. law at an international organization, the U.S.'s Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, spent most of her time apologizing for the U.S.'s "imperfections."

The very next day, the same UNGA voted overwhelmingly to elect Cuba to the U.N.'s Human Rights Council.

For further perspective (and farce), Cuba's dictatorship received 160 votes for a seat at the Human Rights Council, while the United States received 175. Cuba received the most votes in Latin America -- beating out Brazil (137) and Guatemala (82). And, of course, China beat out both Cuba and the United States with 180 votes.

In other words, thanks to the U.S.'s lack of leadership -- and despite its endless kowtowing and apologizing -- the overwhelming majority of nations in the UNGA feel that there is a certain equivalency between the United States and Cuba on the issue human rights. An equivalency between the world's beacon of freedom and one of the worst violators of human rights.

Predictably, the Castro dictatorship heralded these UNGA votes as "international recognition" of Cuba as a champion of human rights.

Meanwhile -- in practice -- human rights violations in Cuba continue to dramatically deteriorate.

And thanks to the Obama Administration's immoral policy, the Cuban people find themselves more abandoned than ever.

Cuba Violates Convention Against Torture

By Marlene Azor Hernandez in The Havana Times:

Cuba Violates Convention Against Torture

Today, October 28th, Cuba hopes to be chosen once again for the UN Human Rights Council. However, the Cuban government still hasn’t ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social, Cultural, Civil and Political Rights that it signed back in 2008.

The Cuban government has ratified several related conventions on child protection, against racial discrimination, in favor of protecting people with disabilities and on women’s rights. Within this context, it also joined and ratified the UN’s Convention against Torture in May 1995.

The UN General Assembly, who is responsible for verifying if the Convention against Torture is being met and for proposing suggestions for its application from the Convention’s articles, highlighted a series of breaches in June 2012. Even today, Human Rights activists in Cuba continue to report the same abuses that were outlined in this report.

There aren’t any procedural safeguards for Cuban citizens as the habeas corpus is not respected on the island: the necessary medical exam, notifying relatives, and having the right to be accompanied by a defense attorney from the very moment they’re arrested. Those arrested are also not told what their rights are, why they were arrested in the first place and are not taken before a judge immediately afterwards. Meanwhile, detainees don’t have an effective procedure to appeal the legality of their arrest.

The report confirms overcrowding in Cuban prisons, malnutrition of detainees, a lack of hygiene and poor health as well as inadequate healthcare services. Unjustified limitations on family visits, being moved to prison facilities that are far from the prisoner’s family and social environment, being held in solitary confinement in demeaning conditions and physical as well as verbal abuse to prisoners have all been reported.

Arbitrary arrests, “express” kidnappings of artists, Human Rights activists, independent journalists and political opponents of all stripes and colors, have increased during the 2012-2016 period. In 2012, there were 6,602 arbitrary arrests; in 2016, until September alone, there have been 8,805 arrests in similar conditions of vulnerability and legal and penal powerlessness.

The report doesn’t include detailing the illegal and violent raids of independent lawyers, independent journalists and political activist associations. There isn’t any legal warrant to raid homes, to rob the victims of their work equipment, client records and personal belongings, without any legal channel to recover these “thefts”, carried out by the police and State security bodies.

Recent cases include the Cubalex legal assistance center, the Pinar del Rio Legal Aid Center and the confiscation of the belongings of opposition activist from the UNPACU, Carlos Amel’s at the airport, which led to Amel staging a hunger strike which lasted several weeks.

Meanwhile, the report does include cases of extended precautionary arrests and arrests of an indefinite nature based on what is stipulated in Article 107 of the Cuban Penal Code, which especially affects people whose liberties have been taken away for political reasons. The UN General Assembly regrets the lack of information there is regarding the number and situation of people who have had their freedom taken away and are charged with a crime against National Security, under Article 243 of the Cuban Penal Code.

Last but not least, the UN Council is also concerned by the ambiguity of the legal status of former inmates under “conditional discharge”, as well as information received about arbitrary restrictions on their personal freedoms and freedom of movement. The Council has especially expressed its concern in the case of Jose Daniel Ferrer and Oscar Elias Biscet. This arbitrariness remains up until today.

In short, the Cuban government hasn’t changed its penal laws to include the crime of torture in its penal code, it hasn’t changed police protocol, State security and courts with regard to conditions of arrest, or conditions in prisons. Does the Cuban government really have the right to be selected at the UN’s Human Rights Council again?

Freedom House: Cuban Agents Ransack Human Rights Offices

Cuba: Police Ransack Human Rights Offices

In response to Cuban authorities’ illegal raid of the Consejería Jurídica de Abogados Independientes de la Corriente Agramontista, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“Police targeted human rights defenders by unlawfully raiding four homes serving as offices for the Consejería Jurídica de Abogados Independientes de la Corriente Agramontista,” said Carlos Ponce, director for Latin America programs. “The lack of a warrant and the arrest of the organization’s director, Dianelys Rodriguez Morejon, shows their utter disregard for fundamental human rights.”

Background:

With a staff of six lawyers, Consejería Jurídica de Abogados Independientes de la Corriente Agramontista offers pro bono legal advice, workshops on human rights and present cases before international bodies. The group works closely with the Instituto Cubano por la Libertad de Expresión y Prensa.

Cuba is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2016, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2016, and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2015.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Cuban Pastor on House Arrest for Worshipping Too Loud

From CBN News:

Cuban Pastor on House Arrest for Worshipping Too Loud

A pastor was sentenced to one year of house arrest by a Cuban civil court for hosting loud worship services.

Juan Carlos Nuñez leads a congregation of some 550 people, a risky job under Cuba's communist government.

Morning Star News reports that Nuñez was tried and convicted of "disturbing the peace" before his lawyer had the opportunity to defend him.

With no legal defense, Nuñez stood little chance against a state committed to persecuting Christians. However, the pastor says he will appeal the sentence and continue to preach the gospel.

"Our mission is to preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we are suffering for that cause," Nuñez told Morning Star. "We were treated as criminals and enemies of the government. We are children of God unjustly accused and convicted."

Nuñez said problems like these could be solved if the government would simply allow Christians to build more churches to accommodate the growing number of believers in the communist state.

"The government will not issue us a building permit," he said. "We could avoid this whole problem entirely if they would let us have our own meeting place."

The government is very strict about issuing building permits to churches, forcing many Christians to attend house churches and host secret worship services.

But the persecution has not stopped Christians from worshipping and spreading the light of the gospel in darkness.