Archive for the ‘Cuba’ Category

U.S. reaffirms opposition to Cuba attending Americas Summit

| September 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

NEW YORK –  The United States reaffirmed Friday its opposition to Cuba’s participation in the Americas Summit, on grounds that only “democratic” countries should attend, but did not specify whether it would skip the regional conference if Panama goes forward with its intention to invite the Cuban government.

The U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roberta Jacobson, made the U.S. position known the day after Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said at the United Nations that he is making an effort to have all the region’s heads of state attend the 2015 Americas Summit to be held in his country.

Panama is the host country of the summit, Jacobson said at a press conference in New York, and as such it will decide who to invite.

She did not specify whether the United States would refuse to attend in case Cuba is there, because that is still a hypothetical situation.

But ... Read More

Will Latin American leaders give Obama an ‘earful’ on Cuba at Americas summit?

| September 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Nick Miroff

For the United States, the last Summit of the Americas was a fairly regrettable experience.

That 2012 event is probably best remembered for the prostitution scandal that embarrassed the Secret Service, its agents’ reputation for steely discipline wilted by the tropical heat of host city Cartagena, Colombia.

Things didn’t go much better for President Obama inside the conference hall. The region’s heads of state dog-piled on Washington over its Cuba policies, saying there should be no further meetings if the United States insisted on excluding Havana.

With the next summit scheduled for April 2015 in Panama, the Cuba issue is once more giving the administration some sweats.

Earlier this month, Panama’s foreign minister flew to Havana to personally invite Cuban leader Raul Castro to participate, even though the island was kicked out of the Organization of American States (OAS), which sponsors the events, in 1962.

Panama’s new president, Juan Carlos Varela, said at ... Read More

Cuba hands down 15-year sentence to Canadian executive

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

A court in Cuba has sentenced the president of a Canadian transport company to 15 years in jail for bribery.

Cy Tokmakjian, 74, was detained in Cuba in 2011 as part an anti-corruption operation. He denies the charges.

The Tokmakjian Group said the court had seized its assets in Cuba, worth about $100m (£62m).

The company said the ruling was a worrying development for potential investors on the Communist-run island.

“Lack of due process doesn’t begin to describe the travesty of justice that is being suffered by foreign businessmen in Cuba,” the company said in a statement.

Two other executives from the Tokmakjian Group – fellow Canadian citizens Claudio Vetere and Marco Puche – were sentenced to eight and 12 years in prison.

The Ontario-based company sold transportation, mining and construction equipment to Cuba for more than 20 years.

There has been no comment on the case from the Cuban authorities.

Claims

Its ... Read More

American Aid Props Up a Castro Ally

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By Mary Anastasia O’Grady

A French court has upheld an earlier arbitration court ruling that obliges El Salvador to honor a contract it signed in 2002 with the Italian renewable-energy company Enel Green Power (EGP). The contract, which designated the French court to handle disputes, allows EGP to gain majority ownership of the Salvadoran thermoelectric private-public partnership La Geo by increasing its investment in the company.

In other words, the court told El Salvador that it may not stop EGP from bringing more technical know-how to the impoverished country and adding some $127 million to a $100 million investment in its electricity infrastructure. The Sept. 18 ruling in Paris exhausts El Salvador’s legal pathways for halting the investment, which it has been doing since 2008. But it doesn’t necessarily alter the circumstances on the ground.

A poor country devoted to blocking an infusion of capital sounds crazy until you learn that El ... Read More

Almagro: Cuba should attend summit

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Andres Oppenheimer

Uruguay, Peru and Guatemala have nominated candidates to replace Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the 34-country Organization of American States. In the first of a three-part occasional series leading up to January’s vote, columnist Andres Oppenheimer interviews the candidates. Today, he asked Foreign Minister Luis Almagro of Uruguay five questions about his plans for the OAS and attacks from critics. Excerpts:

Which specific changes would you make at the OAS if elected Secretary General?

The OAS must regain credibility and relevance, and become a political convergence mechanism that complements and articulates other (regional) integration processes. In that context, it’s key that the strengthening of democracy and its institutions goes hand-in-hand with an unrestricted defense of human rights and inter-American (human rights) mechanisms, and that their independence be respected by all….

At the same time, it would have to address issues of this century, such as the lack of security among ... Read More

Obama’s Cuba Problem

| September 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

The last time President Obama met with his Latin American and Caribbean counterparts was not a particularly memorable affair.  The 2012 Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, was overshadowed by an embarrassing Secret Service scandal that saw members of his advance team soaking in a little bit too much of the historical city’s Caribbean nightlife.

Meanwhile, in the absence of any substantive agenda, President Obama spent most of the summit being hectored by his counterparts with the incongruous assertion that undemocratic outlier Cuba must be part of the next meeting of all the popularly elected governments in the Americas.

It was clear the president wasn’t pleased with the badgering, complaining that, “Sometimes I feel as if in some of these discussions … we’re caught in a time warp, going back to the 1950s and gunboat diplomacy.”

Fast forward two years: Preparations for the 2015 Summit are well underway ... Read More

FBI: Cuban Intelligence Aggressively Recruiting Leftist American Academics as Spies, Influence Agents

| September 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Washington Free Beacon

BY BILL GETZ

Cuba’s communist-led intelligence services are aggressively recruiting leftist American academics and university professors as spies and influence agents, according to an internal FBI report published this week.

Cuban intelligence services “have perfected the work of placing agents, that includes aggressively targeting U.S. universities under the assumption that a percentage of students will eventually move on to positions within the U.S. government that can provide access to information of use to the [Cuban intelligence service],” the five-page unclassified FBI report says. It notes that the Cubans “devote a significant amount of resources to targeting and exploiting U.S. academia.”

“Academia has been and remains a key target of foreign intelligence services, including the [Cuban intelligence service],” the report concludes.

One recruitment method used by the Cubans is to appeal to American leftists’ ideology. “For instance, someone who is allied with communist or leftist ideology may assist the ... Read More

En libertad “Popeye”, jefe de sicarios de Pablo Escobar

| August 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
marti-noticias-logo

Ejecutó 300 asesinatos y coordinó 3.000, pero por colaboración, estudios y buena conducta cumplió 22 años de 30. Testigo excepcional de la participación de los Castro en el narcotráfico.

Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez , el temible exjefe de sicarios del fallecido capo del narcotráfico Pablo Escobar recobró el martes la libertad tras permanecer encarcelado más de 22 años por cargos relacionados con homicidios, secuestros y concierto para delinquir, se informó oficialmente.

“La caravana que salió de la prisión de Cómbita (Boyacá) era la de Popeye. Ya Popeye está en libertad”, señaló a la AFP una fuente del Instituto Nacional Penitenciario y Carcelario (Inpec).

Alias Popeye, abandonó la prisión escoltado por una comitiva de varios vehículos sin que su imagen pudiera ser captada directamente por las cámaras de los medios que aguardaban su salida.

Con paradero desconocido, la caravana de vehículos estaba conformada por autos de la Defensoría del Pueblo, el ... Read More

Maduro prepara mecanismo óptimo de control social: el racionamiento electrónico

| August 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

Se anunció como un instrumento para combatir el contrabando, pero la instauración de un sistema de identificación biométrico en los supermercados venezolanos podría terminar convirtiéndose en un asfixiante mecanismo de intimidación y control social que aumentaría la dependencia del ciudadano al régimen bolivariano y sofocaría en muchos la disposición a protestar.

Analistas consultados dijeron que los polémicos planes de instaurar un sistema de identificación en los supermercados no es nada más que los primeros pasos para establecer un sistema de racionamiento computarizado, inspirado en la experiencia cubana, que terminará siendo utilizado para doblegar la voluntad de disentir de los venezolanos.

“En Venezuela están imitando muchas de las cosas que han hecho Cuba. La influencia cubana, la asesoría cubana, es crítica dentro del chavismo”, comentó Jaime Suchlicki, director del Instituto de Estudios Cubano y Cubano Americanos.

En este caso, se estarían uniendo la experiencia en represión ... Read More

US Sees Surge in Cuban Rafters Aiming for Florida

| August 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

One early morning this April, Dairon Morera climbed onto a raft of aluminum tanks with 22 other people, revved up a Volvo car motor and pushed off the Cuban shore, joining a never-ending stream of islanders desperate to reach the United States.

“The biggest dream a Cuban has is to leave,” said Morera, who was frustrated by government limits on his pizza business. He had no money for airplane tickets or smugglers, so decided to risk his life at sea.

Morera’s journey was so turbulent that many people vomited, but all made it alive in just 20 hours. They ran ashore in the Florida Keys, hugging each other and shouting “Libertad!”

The number of Cubans trying this perilous journey is up sharply this year, with nearly 3,000 picked up by U.S. authorities so far, double last year’s pace.

The special status Cuban migrants have thanks to U.S. efforts undermine their communist government is a ... Read More

Human Rights NGOs dispute AP report on Cuba Democracy Program

| August 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Washington Free Beacon

Group says AP “manipulated” information about the program to fit preconceived narrative

BY DANIEL WISER

A Costa Rican human rights organization is disputing a report by the Associated Press (AP) this week that its activities in Cuba were covertly designed to foment a revolution against the communist government.

Fernando Murillo, founder and CEO of Fundacion Operacion GAYA Internacional (FundaOGI), accused the AP in a statement of “manipulat[ing]” information about the group’s HIV-prevention workshop in Cuba. The AP reported on Monday that the workshop was part of a “clandestine operation” overseen by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with the goal of “ginning up rebellion” on the island.

“[The AP] manipulated information in order to make it look like FundaOGI had instructions to set up cultural and artistic activities in an undercover way for destabilizing ends, which is totally false,” Murillo said.

Additionally, other defenders of the USAID program have raised concerns about ... Read More

Don’t Believe Everything You Read About the United States’ Cuba Democracy Program

| August 8th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Foreign Policy

For the second time in four months, the Associated Press has published a gross distortion of USAID’s Cuba Democracy Program that has made it the subject of unjust derision from the legions of U.S.-Cuba policy critics. The news agency evidently believes it has stumbled upon a vast, sinister U.S. conspiracy to overthrow the Castro regime, calling to mind those halcyon days of exploding cigars and poisoned wetsuits. It is nothing of the sort.

Previously, AP reported that USAID sought to foment an uprising in Cuba by introducing a rudimentary Twitter service for Cubans to utilize free of regime snooping. Now, we are told that USAID sent hapless youths from Latin America to Cuba to recruit agents to lead that national uprising.

Such assertions are ridiculous on their face. Moreover, it is distressing to see how easily people can apparently accept the notion that their government would involve itself in such lunacy.

The ... Read More

Cuba escapes UN sanctions in North Korean weapons transport scheme

| July 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

But it puts a North Korea ship-operating company on its sanctions list.

BY JUAN O. TAMAYO

The United Nations has sanctioned a North Korean shipping company but spared Cuban entities in connection with a Cuban weapons shipment seized aboard a Pyongyang-bound freighter in violation of a U.N. arms embargo.

Ocean Maritime Management Company, Ltd., a North Korean company that managed the freighter Chong Chon Gang when it was seized in Panama last summer, was added Monday to the list of violators of the embargo.

The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) committee that enforces the embargo said the company “played a key role in arranging the shipment of concealed cargo of arms and related materiel from Cuba.” Inclusion in the list carries banking and travel sanctions.

But the committee did not add to the list any of the Cuban enterprises or individuals involved in the shipment of 240 tons of Cuban MiG ... Read More

Everything We Know About The Huge Spy Base In Cuba That Russia Is Reopening

| July 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Business Insider

BY COREY ADWAR

Moscow and Havana have agreed to reopen a Cold War-era signals intelligence (SIGINT) base in Lourdes, Cuba. An agreement was reached during Putin’s visit to Cuba last week to reopen the base, Russia business daily Kommersant reported last week. That was confirmed by a Russian security source who told Reuters: “A framework agreement has been agreed.”

The base was set up in 1964 after the Cuban missile crisis had brought the U.S. and Soviet Union close to confrontation over Moscow’s proposal to place nuclear weapons on Cuban soil.

Havana shut it down in 2001 because of financial issues and American pressure.

Located south of Cuba’s capital Havana and just 150 miles from the U.S. coast, the base left many parts of the U.S. vulnerable to Soviet communication intercepts, including exchanges between Florida space centers and U.S. spacecraft.

Here’s what a Congressional report from 2000 said about the facility:

• The Secretary of Defense formally ... Read More

Editorial: Oswaldo Payá’s death in Cuba two years ago still awaits a proper investigation.

| July 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

Two years ago Tuesday, a blue rental car was wrecked off a deserted road in eastern Cuba. In the back seat was Oswaldo Payá, one of Cuba’s best-known dissidents, who had championed the idea of a democratic referendum on the nation’s future. Mr. Payá’s voice was not the loudest against the Castro dictatorship, but it was one of the most committed and determined. On the day of the car crash, he had been trying for more than a decade to bring about a peaceful revolution, one that would empower Cubans to decide their own fate and end the half-century of misrule by Fidel and Raúl Castro.

Mr. Payá endured harassment and intimidation for his efforts. Many of his friends and allies were jailed. He received threats by phone and other warnings, some violent. But he did not give up. On the day of the crash, Mr. Payá was traveling with a young associate, Harold ... Read More

China’s Xi eyes increased investment in Cuba

| July 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

Havana (AFP) – Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting Cuba with hopes of expanding political and economic ties in the fellow communist nation.

The tour of the Americas’ only one-party communist nation is the last leg of a weeklong trip in the region that has already taken Xi to Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, as he reaches out to resource-rich countries often shunned by the United States and Europe.

The Chinese leader arrived in Havana late Monday from Caracas for the two-day official visit.

Xi aims to make his country — already Cuba’s second-largest trading partner after Venezuela and its primary source of credit — a major investor on the Caribbean island.

Coinciding with his trip, about 50 Chinese entrepreneurs traveled to Havana to explore business opportunities, attracted by foreign investment incentives and the future Mariel free trade zone outside the capital.

“We want Chinese businessmen to invest in Cuba and partner with Cuban companies,” said ... Read More

Putin’s hemispheric charm offensive

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
The China Post-01

By John J. Metzler

It’s been a momentous week for Russian President Vladimir Putin. While the major media focused on his trip to Brazil to accept the handover for the next FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in Russia as well as his participation in the Summit of the BRIC economic powers, the real story was the largely overlooked wraparound of his Latin American charm offensive. Here’s the background.

Cuba

Before flying to Brazil for the final soccer match and the FIFA handover for the 2018 World Cup, Putin first stopped in Cuba to renew the spark of the old cold war alliance between Castro’s communists and the Soviet Union. While Russia’s political system has witnessed significant change since 1991 following the formal collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba remains in a kind of tropical torpor time warp. The Castro brothers still run the island but the revolutionary zeal is long gone and replaced ... Read More

Russia Rejoins Cuba’s Espionage Apparatchik in the Americas

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
Mexi Data

By Jerry Brewer

In order to effectively monitor aggression, hostile intelligence acts, interference, and other forms of insurgency within their homelands, democracies throughout the Americas must immediately address their governments’ counterintelligence missions against those rogue and dictatorial style regimes that pose obvious threats.

Russia’s recent decision to reopen its electronic spying center in Cuba is once again an obvious act that aggressively demonstrates support for the Cuban Castro regime, and a shared dispute versus the United States.

The Lourdes base closed 13 years ago, having been built in 1962. The closing was reportedly due to the economic crisis in Russia, along with repeated requests from the United States.

Lourdes served as a signals’ intelligence (SIGINT) facility, among other applications, located just 100 miles from the United States at Key West, Florida. During what has been described as the Cold War, the Lourdes facility was believed to be staffed “by over 1,500 KGB, GRU, Cuban DGI, and Eastern ... Read More

Putin’s Pirates Of The Caribbean Tour

| July 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
IBD

Geopolitics: Vladimir Putin blew through Latin America last week, handing out goodies to anti-U.S. regimes. But he insists he doesn’t want to reopen an old spy base in Cuba, which we find disingenuous.

The scope of the Russian president’s visit took the U.S. by surprise. Instead of just attending the World Cup final and a summit of BRICS countries, Putin made an unexpected visit to Nicaragua, with talk of a military land base there. He then flew to Argentina, reportedly with promises for two nuclear plants, and on to Venezuela to offer a credit lifeline.

Last but not least, Putin stopped in Cuba to sign deals on everything from electricity output to exploration for oil with Rosneft (the company whose unsavory oligarch, Igor Sechin, was the target of Wednesday’s sanctions over Ukraine). There was also a dramatic announcement that Russia would forgive 90% of Cuba’s $35 billion debt.

But on Thursday, Putin denied that ... Read More

China, Russia leaders seek South American inroads

| July 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By JOSHUA GOODMAN

It’s enough to make an aging U.S. Cold Warrior shudder.

During overlapping visits to Latin America, the leaders of China and Russia have been welcomed with open arms by governments that are among the most hostile to Washington, including Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Together with stops in Argentina and Brazil, which both have distanced themselves from the U.S. in recent years, the tours underscore the mix of ideology and economics that’s allowing the two superpowers to expand their influence in America’s backyard.

“These are all countries the U.S. has some real question marks about,” said Kevin Gallagher, a Boston University economist and expert on Chinese-Latin American ties. “It’s going to require some PR so as not to be interpreted in certain, phobic circles as an overt alignment with left-leaning governments at odds with the U.S.”

Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin said their visits were focused on ... Read More

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