Archive for the ‘Cuba’ Category

The Iran-Cuba-Venezuela Nexus

| November 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY Oranjestad, Aruba

Regular readers of this column will remember that in July the U.S. asked local officials here to arrest Venezuelan Gen. Hugo Carvajal and to extradite him on suspicion of drug trafficking with Colombian guerrillas. He was detained but the Netherlands stepped in, refused the extradition request and let him go.

The general had been sent here to become Venezuelan consul and spread Bolivarian propaganda. He would have been an important intelligence grab for the U.S. So it wasn’t too surprising that Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua and Cilia Flores, the wife of Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro, celebrated the Dutch decision by meeting his plane when he returned to Caracas.

The third person in the high-level greeting party at the airport—the governor of the state of Aragua, Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah—seemed out of place because he is not in the national government. That is until you consider his résumé: ... Read More

Las FARC reconocen que el general Alzate está en su poder

| November 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC Madrid-01

POR ALEJANDRA DE VENGOECHEA

La confesión de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) de que habían hecho «prisionero de guerra» al general Rubén Darío Alzate, a un soldado y una funcionaria que lo acompañaba, cayó como un jarro de agua fría entre los negociadores que desde hace dos años intentan firmar la paz con esta guerrilla en Cuba.

Aunque el secuestro se ha usado desde hace más de 50 años como método de financiación y presión política, en febrero de 2012, cuando se inició la fase exploratoria de los diálogos de La Habana, las FARC anunciaron la entrega de todos los secuestrados políticos que todavía tenía en su poder y, simultáneamente, la abolición del secuestro con fines financieros.

Reducción del 80%

Consciente de que el secuestro ha disminuido un 80%, el presidente Juan Manuel Santos fue enfático: los diálogos con las FARC se descongelan, siempre y cuando liberen al general de 55 años y a dos soldados que fueron ... Read More

Fate of peace talks in FARC hands: Colombian president

| November 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
From AFP

By Alina Dieste

Bogota (AFP) – The fate of Colombia’s peace talks is in the hands of the FARC rebels, the president has warned, after halting negotiations designed to end Latin America’s longest-running conflict.

The Marxist guerrillas are under increasing pressure at home and abroad to free a general whose kidnapping prompted President Juan Manuel Santos to stop the talks, throwing the most promising effort yet to end Colombia’s 50-year-old conflict into fresh crisis.

The two-year-old negotiations were derailed Sunday when General Ruben Alzate disappeared in a remote region on the Pacific coast in what the government denounced as a kidnapping by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

After an emergency meeting with top army brass, Santos called off the talks — which had been due to resume Monday in Cuba — and sent his defense minister to the isolated department of Choco to ... Read More

Most of Latin America Has Adopted Democracy. Will Cuba?

| November 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Huffington Post

By Michel Kelly-Gagnon

Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the greatest writers of our time, whose collection of novels earned him the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature.

He’s also someone with the curiosity and the intellectual courage to change his mind when faced with evidence that contradicts his beliefs, as detailed in a new trilingual booklet entitled My Intellectual Journey: From Marxism to Liberalism that has just been released in bookstores across the province of Quebec.

This booklet is based on a very moving and fascinating talk Mr. Vargas Llosa gave in Montreal last year at an MEI gala event, in which he explained how he came to be an admirer at one time of Fidel Castro’s Cuban experiment, as were many Latin American and other intellectuals of his generation. Understandably, though, his enthusiasm began to wane somewhat when he learned of the concentration camps to which were sent a mix of dissidents, common criminals, and ... Read More

Cuba’s Slave Trade in Doctors

| November 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY

Western cultures don’t approve of human trafficking, which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited.” Yet it’s hard to find any journalist, politician, development bureaucrat or labor activist anywhere in the world who has so much as batted an eye at the extensive human-trafficking racket now being run out of Havana. This is worth more attention as Cuban doctors are being celebrated for their work in Africa during the Ebola crisis.

Cuba is winning accolades for its international “doctor diplomacy,” in which it sends temporary medical professionals abroad—ostensibly to help poor countries battle disease and improve health care. But the doctors are not a gift from Cuba. Havana is paid for its medical missions by either the host country, in the case of Venezuela, or by donor countries that send funds to the World Health ... Read More

Republicans Should Signal Leadership, at Home and Abroad

| November 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Roll Call

The 2014 midterm elections were a rejection of the policies of President Barack Obama. And the Republican takeover of the Senate is a repudiation of the gridlock in Congress symbolized by the bare-knuckles tactics of outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The new Republican Senate leadership should move swiftly to seize the high ground and signal it is ready to do the peoples’ business. Quick action on several international issues — the Keystone XL pipeline, trade promotion authority and long-delayed ambassadorial nominations — are bipartisan actions that Republicans should put on the table even before they take over in January.

Although opinion polls show voters favor Republican positions on the economy, foreign policy and security, the party’s brand needs burnishing. As Obama hints at a more confrontational tone that could undermine any hope of making Washington work, Republicans can rise above Obama’s blame game by working with Democrats on tangible initiatives to bolster America’s ... Read More

Brazil prosecutor blasts ‘More Doctors’ program

| November 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

SAO PAULO — A federal prosecutors’ office has alleged irregularities in the way Brazil pays Cuban doctors participating in a program set up to provide health care in remote areas, and is urging the country to pay the physicians directly rather than through their government.

In a statement issued late Monday, prosecutor Luciana Loureiro Oliveira blasted as “frankly illegal” an agreement among the Cuban and Brazilian governments and the World Health Organization. Under the setup, the program’s Cuban doctors are paid about a fourth of what Brazil gives the Cuban government through the World Health Organization for their services.

While Brazil pays about $4,000 per month for each of the around 11,000 Cuban doctors in the program, Oliveira said it found a contract in which at least one of those doctors was getting only $1,000 a month.

The statement urged Brazil to pay the Cubans directly, instead of going through the WHO and ... Read More

Las Naciones ‘Sumergidas’ de Latinoamérica

| November 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
Folha de Sao Paulo

Líderes políticos y diplomáticos de América Latina y el Caribe saben más sobre Cuba y Venezuela que incluso los observadores más astutos en Washington. Por lo tanto, deberían saber lo que le conviene más a su región ¿no?

Entonces, ¿por qué el Grupo de América Latina y el Caribe en la ONU le dio su apoyo a Venezuela para ser el próximo representante de la región ante el Consejo de Seguridad? Y, ¿por qué están determinados en invitar a el déspota cubano Raúl Castro a la Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá en la primavera?; haciendo caso omiso de las objeciones por parte de sus socios comerciales más importantes, como Estados Unidos y Canadá.

Para muchas generaciones de latinoamericanos, Cuba fue el hogar de algunas de las mejores editoriales de lengua española en el mundo, cientos de periódicos y estaciones de radio de calidad, derechos laborales progresistas, altos niveles de alfabetización y ... Read More

Latin America’s ‘submerging nations’

| November 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
Folha de Sao Paulo

The political leaders and diplomats of Latin America and the Caribbean know more about Cuba and Venezuela than even the keenest observers in Washington. So, they should know better, right?

Then why did the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean at the UN designate Venezuela to take the region’s non-permanent Security Council seat?

And, why are they determined to invite Cuban despot Raúl Castro to the Summit of the Americas in Panama next spring, ignoring the objections of the leaders of the consequential trade partners in the United States and Canada?

For generations of Latin Americans, Cuba was home to some of the world’s best Spanish-language publishing houses, hundreds of quality newspapers and radio stations, progressive labor rights, the region’s highest rates of literacy and nutrition, and a robust middle class.

Then came the Castro revolution. Although some may have been caught up ... Read More

Cuba seeks over $8 billion in foreign investment

| November 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN and ANDREA RODRIGUEZ

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba asked international companies on Monday to invest more than $8 billion in the island as it attempts to kick-start a centrally planned economy starved for cash and hamstrung by inefficiency.

Foreign Commerce Minister Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz announced a list of 246 potential projects that would cost $8.7 billion to build, from a pig farm to an auto plant. The menu of possible investments is a key step in a push for foreign capital that includes the relaxation of investment restrictions and the creation of a special trade zone around a new deep-water port west of Havana.

“Cuba is pushing strongly to take advantage of the benefits associated with foreign investment to stimulate development,” Malmierca said.

Despite the push, foreigners at Havana’s International Fair, the country’s main economic promotional event, described Cuba as a place ... Read More

House Republican blasts U.S. attendance at Ebola meeting in Cuba

| October 31st, 2014 | No Comments »
The Hill

By Cristina Marcos

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) on Thursday said the U.S. should not have sent representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to an Ebola conference in Cuba.

The meeting was organized by ALBA (Aliazna Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América), a socialist-affiliated group, in Havana.

Two U.S. officials, including Nelson Arboleda, the CDC’s director for Central America, were in attendance and expressed support for Cuba sending doctors to West Africa to help treat the Ebola outbreak.

But Diaz-Balart said the Cuban medical forces were likely forced labor and that the U.S. shouldn’t ally itself with a group like ALBA.

“It is a disgrace that the United States sent a representative to an ALBA meeting in Havana and praised the Cuban dictatorship for sending forced medical labor to Western Africa,” Diaz-Balart said. “That the U.S. would send a representative to such a meeting is by itself ludicrous.”

The ... Read More

Cuba hasn’t earned embargo’s end

| October 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

In October of 1960, the United States imposed an embargo on exports to Cuba covering all commodities except medical supplies and certain food products. That was the beginning of a trade embargo that still endures and still inspires heated debate.

The anniversary of the embargo, plus this week’s upcoming vote in the United Nations condemning it — which the United States will lose, as usual — have prompted calls for a reassessment. Dropping the embargo altogether would require action by Congress. Meanwhile, anti-embargo advocates say, there’s a lot the president can do to soften or minimize its effects and open the door to restoring full ties with Cuba.

We disagree. Such a move would be premature and utterly lacking in justification at this time.

Granted, Raúl Castro has loosened the reins on the tightly controlled economy to permit more individual businesses. Some citizens can own property, and new rules are designed to encourage ... Read More

No change by Castro, no change in trade embargo

| October 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY JAIME SUCHLICKI

There’s an eagerness among many in this country to begin a process of normalizing relations with Cuba. The belief persists that economic considerations could influence Raúl Castro’s policy decisions and that Cuba’s difficult economic situation will force Cuba’s leader to move toward a market economy and closer ties to the United States.

Yes, despite economic difficulties, Castro does not seem ready to provide meaningful and irreversible concessions for a U.S.-Cuba normalization. He may release and exile some political prisoners. He may offer limited economic changes to tranquilize the Cuban population, but not major structural reforms that would open the Cuban economy. Cuba is not moving to a market economy. In Cuba, political considerations dictate economic decisions.

Raúl’s legitimacy is based on his closeness to Fidel Castro’s policies of economic centralization, control and opposition to U.S. policies. Raúl cannot reject Fidel’s legacy and move closer ... Read More

Cuba should not be rewarded for denying freedom to its people

| October 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By the Editorial Board

THE OTHER day, Fidel Castro wrote an opinion column for Cuba’s state-run newspaper, Granma, as he has done periodically from retirement. He lavished praise on an editorial in the New York Times that called for an end to the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. But Mr. Castro had one complaint: The Times mentioned the harassment of dissidents and the still-unexplained death of a leading exponent of democracy, Oswaldo Payá, and a younger activist, Harold Cepero, in a car wreck two years ago.

The assertion that Cuba’s authoritarian government had yet to explain the deaths was “slanderous and [a] cheap accusation,” Mr. Castro sputtered.

So why has Cuba done nothing to dispel the fog of suspicion that still lingers over the deaths? If the charge is slanderous, then it is long past time for Mr. Castro to order a thorough investigation of what happened on an isolated Cuban road ... Read More

Carromero llega a Miami para demostrar cómo Cuba manipuló la muerte de Payá

| October 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

El dirigente de Nuevas Generaciones del Partido Popular de Madrid, Ángel Carromero, viajó el jueves a Miami para, entre otras cosas, reunirse con congresistas y senadores de Estados Unidos que apoyarán su intento de demostrar que el Gobierno cubano manipuló las pruebas del accidente en el que murieron Oswaldo Payá y Harold Cepero.

Carromero, que actualmente cumple condena en España por un delito de homicidio —conducía el vehículo en el que viajaban los disidentes cubanos fallecidos—, disfruta del tercer grado desde el 18 de febrero de 2013 aunque con seguimiento por medios telemáticos, pero ha conseguido un permiso para viajar fuera del país durante una semana.

Según ha explicado Carromero en una entrevista, hasta el 16 de octubre tiene previsto reunirse en Miami con la familia de Payá, con distintas organizaciones de derechos humanos y con los políticos estadounidenses, además de promocionar en el país su libro “Muerte bajo sospecha”.

Carromero se presentará ... Read More

‘Timochenko’ habría ido a La Habana: Ministro de Defensa

| October 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Tiempo-01

‘Timochenko’, el máximo jefe de la guerrilla de las FARC, ha estado en Cuba, donde se desarrollan las negociaciones de paz con el gobierno colombiano, dijo este jueves el ministro de Defensa de Colombia, Juan Carlos Pinzón.

“Sí ha habido información alrededor de ese tipo de situaciones. Hay información de que ha hecho presencia en distintos momentos”, dijo Pinzón en una entrevista con Caracol Radio, al ser preguntado sobre si ‘Timochenko’ ha viajado a La Habana en el marco de las pláticas que avanzan desde noviembre de 2012.

El ministro dijo sin embargo que prefiere “guardar prudencia” al referirse a esos viajes. “Son temas fuera del país y hay personas (dentro del gobierno) que tienen la responsabilidad de manejar eso”, dijo y agregó que en el marco del proceso de paz “obviamente el gobierno tiene un equipo negociador que tiene una autoridad para permitir o facilitar ... Read More

US Official Downplays Cuba’s Invitation to Summit

| October 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

By Kathia Martinez

A senior State Department official said Wednesday that the U.S. is prepared to welcome Cuba for the first time to a region-wide summit but wants heads of state to focus attention on the communist government’s human rights record.

At the urging of Latin American leaders, host country Panama plans to invite Cuban President Raul Castro to the Summit of the Americas in April. Cuba was excluded from six previous summits because Washington said it didn’t meet the region’s standards for democracy and U.S. lawmakers, led by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, are urging Panama to reconsider its invitation this time around.

The deputy assistant secretary of state for Latin America, John Feeley, played down the significance of Cuba’s likely participation. Speaking to journalists in Spanish during a stop in Panama on Wednesday, Feeley said that “it’s not so important the guests at the table but the meal that’s served.”

Ecuadorean ... Read More

Summit missing a strong agenda

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY DAN RESTREPO

With the ink not yet dry on the invitations, the April 2015 Summit of the Americas is perilously close to failure.

Failure rooted in the simple fact that a summit must be about more than its invite list.

And to date, summit host Panama and leaders across the Americas have done little to prepare other than obsessing about inviting Cuba and waiting to see how Washington responds.

That is not the basis for a mature, modern relationship, and it can’t make for anything but a missed opportunity in Panama.

This is particularly true when one considers the enormous shared opportunities and challenges that stand before the hemisphere and President Obama’s commitment to working as a good partner in the Americas.

From tackling the plague of violence in the Americas; to making good on energy and climate cooperation championed by President Obama at the ... Read More

Menendez: Cuba attendance undermines Summit of Americas

| October 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Hill

By Ramsey Cox

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) blasted Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela for saying he’ll invite Cuba to the 2015 Summit of the Americas.

Menendez wrote a letter to Varela on Wednesday to express his “dismay” over Varela’s intent to invite Cuba to the summit in April.

“Cuba’s participation would undermine the spirit and authority of the Summit of the Americas,” Menendez wrote. “The Government of Cuba remains this hemisphere’s must enduring dictatorship, having deprived the people of Cuba of democratic rule for more than a half century.

“The Government of Cuba fails to meet even the most minimal standard of democratic governance required for its participation at the Summit of the Americas.”

Menendez said the Cuban government denies its citizens “their most fundamental political and human rights” by criminalizing free expression and dissent. He said one purpose of the summit is to reaffirm the principles in the Charter of the United Nations, which ... Read More

Single point of failure: Venezuela’s financing programme leaves many Caribbean countries vulnerable

| October 2nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

“THAT’S how Chávez earned a place in heaven,” said Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s president, on a visit to New York last month. Mr Maduro was lauding a programme begun by his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, to supply heating oil to 150,000 low-income families in the United States. Yet such generosity pales next to PetroCaribe, a Venezuelan energy-assistance programme for the Caribbean and Central America that Chávez launched in 2005.

Under the PetroCaribe programme, ten members of the Caribbean Community, along with the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and El Salvador, buy oil from Venezuela. (St Lucia is preparing to receive its first shipment.) How much they pay upfront depends on market prices. The more expensive oil is, the more of the cost is loaned on very lenient terms: in the past, loans have been extended for 25 years at interest rates as low as 1%. The cash saved is earmarked for many purposes: energy subsidies, ... Read More

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