Archive for the ‘Cuba’ Category

Prosecutors in Brazil investigate Lula for alleged influence peddling

| May 4th, 2015 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Samantha Pearson

Brazil’s federal prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into the country’s wildly popular former leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for illicit influence peddling in Cuba, among other countries, putting further pressure on his embattled protégée President Dilma Rousseff.

The prosecutors’ office in Brazil’s capital Brasília confirmed late on Sunday reports by a local magazine that Mr Lula da Silva is being questioned by their anti-corruption unit over claims he helped construction conglomerate Odebrecht win contracts overseas between 2011 and 2014.

Weekly magazine Época alleged on Friday that Mr Lula da Silva improperly used his influence to obtain loans from Brazil’s state development bank BNDES for Odebrecht’s dealings in Cuba and the Dominican Republic, often travelling to meet the countries’ leaders at the company’s expense. The magazine also accused Mr Lula da Silva, one of the founders of the ruling Workers’ Party (PT), of similar influence peddling in ... Read More

Texans visiting Cuba say they see little change in trade

| May 4th, 2015 | No Comments »
Dallas News

By Alfredo Corchado

HAVANA — At a restaurant in Old Havana, Ben Scholz waited anxiously for his plate of lobster, rice and beans, trying to choose the right words to describe the takeaway from his first visit to the communist-run island.

He and 12 other Texans had just spent two long days meeting with Cuban bureaucrats and visiting a farm and a port undergoing a massive expansion. It was the first trip to Cuba for a Texas trade group since Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro signaled a thaw in their countries’ complicated relationship. And yet Scholz, a plainspoken wheat farmer from Lavon, just east of Dallas, struggled for words.

“I wouldn’t say I’m more or less excited,” Scholz said, referring to prospects for improved trade ties. “I’m more informed.”

The Texans say they came with open minds to talk about the price of soybeans, wheat ... Read More

Inside Fidel Castro’s double life as a drug kingpin

| May 4th, 2015 | No Comments »
New York Post

For 17 years, Juan Reinaldo Sanchez served as a bodyguard to Fidel Castro. But when he became disillusioned with the Cuban dictator’s hypocrisy and tried to retire in 1994, Castro had him thrown in prison. Sanchez made 10 attempts to escape the island, finally making it to Mexico by boat, then across the Texas border in 2008. Now he reveals all in his new book, “The Double Life of Fidel Castro.” In this excerpt, Sanchez explains how he lost faith in the revolution — and “El Jefe.”

The end of 1988. A day like any other was coming to a close in Havana. In a few minutes, my life would be overturned.

Fidel had spent his afternoon reading and working in his office when he stuck his head through the door to the anteroom, where I was, to warn me that ... Read More

Cuba: China’s western toehold

| April 30th, 2015 | No Comments »
Florida Trend By Jason Garcia

When Americans think of Havana, many immediately imagine classic, American-made cars. What they should picture are modern, Chinese-made buses.

The streets of Havana are filled with them: Blue, white and red buses operated by Transtur, a Cuban government company that ferries tourists between attractions. The vehicles are all built by the Yutong Group, an industrial conglomerate based in China’s Henan province. All are stamped on the back with the Yutong logo and a short sequence of Chinese characters.

In the absence of American trade with Cuba, the Chinese have stepped into the void. China today is Cuba’s largest creditor and its second-largest trading partner after Venezuela. China sells more than $1.1 billion a year in goods to Cuba and buys more than $500 million a year, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Observatory of Economic Complexity.

Yutong itself has sold more than 5,000 buses to Cuba – for use by ... Read More

Former State Department Official says he expects White House to take steps to return Guantanamo

| April 29th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY MIMI WHITEFIELD

Former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega says he thinks the United States will renew diplomatic relations with Cuba soon and that the president will take steps to end the lease on the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay before the end of his term.

But that doesn’t mean he agrees with President Barack Obama’s new policy of engagement with Cuba. “I sincerely pray that President Obama is right in this risky venture. I don’t think he is,” said Noriega, now a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

During a panel Tuesday on the new Cuba policy at the University of Miami Center for Hemispheric Policy’s 10th Latin America Conference, attitudes ranged from Noriega’s doubtful support for engagement to outright condemnation.

The new policy announced Dec. 17 by Cuba and the United States includes renewing ... Read More

House GOP bill blocks new air flights, cruise ship travel to Cuba

| April 29th, 2015 | No Comments »
US News & World Report

By ANDREW TAYLOR

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans unveiled legislation on Tuesday to sharply curb the Obama administration’s recent moves to ease restrictions on travel to Cuba.

The provision by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American from Florida, would block new flights and cruise ship travel to Cuba. The provision was attached to a must-pass transportation spending bill that the House will consider next month.

Diaz-Balart’s move comes in response to new rules issued by the administration in January that would significantly ease travel restrictions to Cuba and permit regularly scheduled flights for the first time, the result of a rapprochement after a half century of Cold War animosity.

Diaz-Balart said that the Obama administration is skirting U.S. law, which bans tourist travel to Cuba.

“The expansion of regularly scheduled flights to Cuba is an obvious attempt to circumvent the tourism ban,” Diaz-Balart said in a ... Read More

Take Cuba off the State Sponsors of Terrorism List?

| April 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
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By George Phillips

Let us not give Castro the resources he needs to continue his regime’s 56-year reign of terror on his own people, and his continued support for terrorists and terrorist states.

To enrich and solidify that dictatorship at this time only prevents the Cuban people from being able to forge a better life through elections in a few years, now that they are finally “on the one-yard line,” when the Castro brothers, now in their eighties, could simply be left to their natural, un-bankrolled, ends. In a dictatorship such as this, only the dictators benefit.

As Sonia Alvarez Campillo was leaving Catholic Mass on July 14, 2013 with fellow members of Ladies in White, her pro-democracy organization, she was assaulted by Raul Castro’s agents.

These “security” agents broke Alvarez Campillo’s wrist as well as her husband’s ribs in their attack on her and other members of ... Read More

Devilish Dealmaking in Colombia

| April 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 BY MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY

The predawn execution of 11 Colombian soldiers in the province of Cauca by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on April 15 is shaping up as a defining moment for President Juan Manuel Santos. Mr. Santos has staked his presidency on peace negotiations with the FARC. But the talks, now in their fourth year, have polarized a nation that was once united against the rebels.

With the massacre in Cauca, the divide has deepened, and simmering public resentment of what some see as their commander in chief’s deference to the guerrillas has exploded. At a Bogotá road race to honor fallen military heroes days after the killings, the president faced a barrage of jeering and booing.

Days later the government denied rumors that Mr. Santos will now seek special powers, via a referendum, to negotiate and seal a deal without congressional or public review. Colombians I talked to expect the president ... Read More

Florida’s Ros-Lehtinen says Republicans won’t challenge removing Cuba from terror sponsors list

| April 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

Republican congressional leaders have admitted defeat in their effort to thwart President Barack Obama’s plan to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen met with a number of her fellow lawmakers last week to strategize way to prevent the de-listing of Cuba in a bill she planned to introduce this week, but the lawmaker was told that Congress legally can’t prevent the White House from removing Cuba from the list.

“We can’t undo it. We just got the word from the parliamentarian: It’s a no-go,” Ros-Lehtinen said, according to the Miami Herald. She added that her draft legislation already had 35 co-sponsors before the decision was made not to proceed.

The lack of action in attempting to prevent the White House from removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism has angered some opponents of normalizing ... Read More

Obama Dances Alone

| April 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

After assuring his top diplomat, John Kerry, that Cuba lately has been behaving well of late, U.S. President Barack Obama scratched the island nation off the list of countries that abet terrorism.

That was foreseeable.

Obama had already announced in Panama that his government would not seek regime change in Cuba. Havana’s presence on the list of sponsors of terrorism was part of a regime change strategy – a political dunce cap meant to malign its adversary on the long road to displacement.

Nevertheless, it was a fair description. For decades, the Castro regime worked hand-in-hand with the nastiest people on the planet, from Carlos the Jackal to the adipose royal dynasty in North Korea, as well as Libyan leader Moammar Ghaddafi and the Colombian narcoguerrillas. Obama’s clear wish is to forget such grievances and open a new chapter.

Obama will soon return ... Read More

Voices: Cubans impatient to see benefits from thaw with U.S.

| April 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »
USA TODAY

By Alan Gomez

HAVANA – When I last came to Cuba in late December, I detected a sentiment among the island’s people that I had never encountered before: optimism.

President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro had just announced their historic pact to re-establish diplomatic relations between the two countries, and every Cuban I encountered ticked off ways they felt the new opening could foster their economic well-being.

Now, four months later, I’ve run into something else: impatience.

As the two governments slowly work through their respective bureaucracies to enact sweeping changes, the impact on the daily lives of Cubans has so far been non-existent. The only segment of the population that has seen any benefit is the tourism industry, as more American business people, government officials and curious travelers have come to the island in the months since the announcement.

“At first, it was euphoria,” Ricardo Torres Pérez, an economist at the Havana-based Center for Studies ... Read More

Dirigentes chavistas añadieron votos falsos «para robar las elecciones» en 2013

| April 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
ABC Madrid-01

Por Emili J. Blasco

Las computadoras secretas de los chavistas lo indicaban bien claro. A las seis de tarde, la hora en que el 14 de abril de 2013 debían cerrar los centros electorales en Venezuela, las presidenciales las había ganado Henrique Capriles Radonski. Suya era la banda tricolor que, no obstante, al final de un proceso amañado, se acabaría poniendo Nicolás Maduro. Un sistema informático paralelo al oficial permitía al chavismo saber en tiempo real a lo largo del día la evolución del voto, así como el número de votos falsos que debía producir para girar el resultado. Eso ocurría en el marco de un proceso completamente electrónico, como es habitual en Venezuela, y con la complicidad del Centro Nacional Electoral (CNE). Gran parte de la trampa se gestionó desde Cuba.

A las diez de la mañana, Diosdado Cabello se personó en la sede ... Read More

As U.S. And Cuba Explore a Renewal Of Diplomacy, What Becomes Of Victor Gerena, Other Notorious Fugitives?

| April 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
CT Now

BY EDMUND H. MAHONY

There is probably no one with a greater interest than Victor M. Gerena in the talks underway between the U.S. and Cuba about re-establishing diplomatic relations.

In 1983, he and other members of a group of Puerto Rican nationalists — a group armed, advised and financed by the Cuban government — stole $7 million from a West Hartford armored car depot in what was then the biggest cash robbery in U.S. history.

The Cubans sneaked Gerena into Mexico City. They stashed him in a safe house, lightened the color of his hair and gave him a phony diplomatic identity. Eventually, they put him and much of the money on a plane to Havana, where Gerena disappeared into the shadowy community of murderers, bombers, robbers and hijackers Cuba has sheltered from prosecution in the U.S and other countries since the 1960s.

For decades, the ... Read More

Why Is Obama Parroting Castro Talking Points?

| April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
National Review

BY MONA CHARENTwo relatively recent photos of Barack Obama with foreign leaders reveal much about his deep-dyed leftism. The first features President Obama and democratically-elected prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of one of America’s most loyal friends. Obama looks strained. His face is stiff, and his eyes are veiled. The second is a snap of Obama at the recent Summit of the Americas in Panama. He’s seated with “President” Raul Castro, leader of a bitter enemy, who has never received a single free vote. Obama is grinning, his eyes dancing with pleasure.In contrast to the bitterness with which Obama addresses Netanyahu, he is all honey with Castro. “So I want to thank President Castro for the spirit of openness and courtesy that he has shown during our interactions . . . President Castro earlier today spoke about the significant hardships that the people of Cuba have undergone over many decades. I can say with ... Read More

Obama: Cuba No Longer Terror Sponsor, Though It Harbors Anti-U.S. Terrorists

| April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
IBD

Foreign Policy: By removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, President Obama is letting Castro get away with harboring and pampering anti-American terrorists on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List.

Earlier this week, Obama removed Cuba from the State Department’s blacklist — even though State documents Cuba’s long history of sponsoring terrorists. And even though Havana shelters and refuses to turn over American fugitives.

Obama chose not to seek their extradition from Havana in exchange for his latest gift to the communist thug. One of the terrorists sits on the FBI’s list — right alongside al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Joanne Deborah Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur, has a $1 million bounty on her after escaping from a New Jersey prison while serving a life sentence for murdering a state trooper and shooting another with two comrades.

“One trooper was wounded and the other was shot and killed execution-style at point-blank range,” the FBI ... Read More

Where Does U.S. Policy Toward Cuba Go From Here?

| April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

With this week’s perfunctory delisting of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, it is clear President Obama can’t give away the store fast enough. The apparently antiquated diplomatic notion that when engaging an adversary you use your leverage to try and exact concessions that get you closer to your objective is evidently not for him. Instead, as the Wall Street Journal put it, “Mr. Obama’s Cuban diplomacy has been one unreciprocated offering after another.”

Even worse than that, the administration now finds itself in the humiliating position where the Castro regime is placing conditions on the United States to upgrade diplomatic relations: i.e., ending the terrorism designation, returning the Guantánamo naval base, ending support for dissidents, and so on.

What we are witnessing is a truly remarkable, perhaps unprecedented, piece of statecraft. Give your adversary everything he wants and then see what happens, historical experience be damned. In his own ... Read More

Cuba human rights bill introduced; State says Cuba will talk about return of fugitives

| April 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY MIMI WHITEFIELD

A House bill was introduced Wednesday that would tie an improvement in Cuba’s human rights record to any further removal of sanctions, and the State Department said the United States and Cuba planned to start a dialogue about U.S. fugitives living on the island.

The developments came a day after President Barack Obama informed Congress that there was no longer a justification for keeping Cuba on a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

But in the 45 days until his directive takes effect, Congress may seek to block the president’s action by enacting a joint resolution, which Obama could, in turn, veto.

South Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen met late Wednesday with other members of Congress to discuss strategies about how to reverse “Obama’s unwarranted delisting of Cuba,” her office said.

Also coming on the heels of the delisting was a bill ... Read More

President Obama’s use of farce on Cuba

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
AEI

President Obama issued a “certification” yesterday under US law that Cuba should no longer be listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. He states, in part, “the Government of Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.” Of course, Cuba has insisted for 30 years that it does not support terrorism, despite reams of evidence to the contrary, i.e. support for Colombian and Basque terror groups in addition to US cop-killers. So, yesterday, the president of the United States essentially certified his own gullibility.

Let’s just say that Obama’s White House is not a stickler for facts or the law. On March 9th, the president issued a detailed, formal declaration that the lawlessness in Venezuela “constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States. Less than a month later, White House advisor Ben Rhodes flatly contradicted the president’s declaration. A State Department official ... Read More

Obama’s Move to Drop Cuba From Terror List Sets Up Showdown With Congress

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Time

BY KARL VICK

President Obama formally moved on Tuesday to remove Cuba from the short, brutish list of states supporting terrorism. The technical finding — that Havana had not offered material support to terrorists in the previous six months — is likely to trigger the first substantial political challenge to Obama’s decision to end the half-century of U.S. efforts to isolate the regime that has ruled Cuba since 1962. By law Congress has 45 days to pass a joint resolution blocking the change, a challenge that anti-Castro lawmakers and Republican critics indicated they would take up. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen promptly declared, “This unwise decision to remove Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list illustrates that the Obama Administration is willing to concede to the demands of the Castro brothers in order to set up an embassy in Cuba.”

Indeed, if the removal stands, Havana and ... Read More

Another Gift for Castro

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

President Obama continued his so far unrequited courtship of Fidel and Raúl Castro on Tuesday by removing Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The decision, following Mr. Obama’s weekend meeting with Raúl in Panama, certifies that Cuba had provided no support for international terrorism for the past six months. The certification adds that “the Government of Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.” Well, that’s certainly reassuring.

The reality is that Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Cuba was never in doubt. The State Department review was going through the motions. Raúl has made delisting a condition of normal diplomatic ties, as well as the presidential visit to Havana that Mr. Obama covets before he leaves office in 2017.

However, that doesn’t erase such realities as last month’s request by Spain’s foreign minister that the U.S. use its opening to Havana to obtain the extradition ... Read More

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