Archive for the ‘Cuba’ Category

Groups, States Supported by Cuba Continue to Spread Terror

| February 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Washington Free Beacon

By Daniel Wiser

U.S. officials are considering removing Cuba from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, even as Cuban allies continue to launch military attacks and trade for weapons.

As part of President Barack Obama’s announcement in December that he would normalize relations with Cuba, Obama instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to review Cuba’s terror designation and issue a report in six months.

While reports indicate that the administration is leaning toward removing Cuba from the terror list, such an action would conflict with the Cuban regime’s support for Colombian militants, Iran, and North Korea.

Cuban President Raul Castro and his government have been hosting peace talks since 2012 between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a communist insurgency that has battled the Colombian military since the 1960s in a conflict claiming 200,000 deaths. U.S. diplomatic cables leaked in 2010 revealed that Cuba had harbored ... Read More

For relatives of terror victims, Cuba detente revives painful memories

| February 10th, 2015 | No Comments »

By James Rosen

Joe Connor was just a few days past his ninth birthday when the news hit on January 24, 1975: His father, Frank, a financial executive, had been killed that afternoon by a bomb blast at a lower Manhattan restaurant.

He had taken some out-of-town clients to lunch at Fraunces Tavern – the Revolutionary War-era watering hole where George Washington bade farewell to his troops – when someone who has never been identified placed a knapsack with a bomb in it just behind Frank’s chair. He died instantly in the blast, as did one of his out-of-town clients.

That day, the militant Puerto Rican nationalist group FALN issued a communique to the news wire services claiming responsibility for the attack, which killed four and injured five dozen others. The group said it chose the tavern – which was popular with Wall Street types – in order ... Read More

US-Funded News Station Wants to Bring Free Press to Cuba. But Raúl Castro Wants to Shut It Down.

| February 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
Daily Signal-01

By Josh Siegel

MIAMI—Carlos García-Pérez, who heads the U.S. government’s Office of Cuba Broadcasting, is used to his news station being a target.

The Miami headquarters of Radio and TV Martí is protected as if it is one. Located randomly off the side of an expressway, the building is guarded by a barbed-wire gate.

Signage outside confirms the news station as U.S. government property, and visitors are asked by a uniformed guard to not bring their cell phones into the building.

The federal government launched Radio Martí in 1983 and TV Martí in 1990 with the hope to combat communism by exposing Cubans to freedom and democracy, providing uncensored information from Miami to Cuba.

Since the beginning, the Castro regime, notorious suppressors of free press, has worked hard to block the station’s programs.

Today, the Cuban government sometimes successfully jams its transmissions, especially in ... Read More

So How’s That Cuba Deal Going?

| February 9th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY Less than two months after his “historic” outreach to Havana with a promise to “normalize relations,” the U.S. commander in chief is getting the back of Raúl Castro ’s hand.

On Dec. 17, President Obama floated his plan to revise a half-century-old U.S.-Cuba policy by promising engagement. “We intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people,” he said. The trouble is that as his statements in recent weeks have shown, Raúl Castro has no interest in doing things differently.

The message from Havana is that if Mr. Obama wants a Cuba legacy it will have to be on Cuba’s terms. That means he will have to go down in history as the U.S. president who prolonged the longest-running military dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere.

Days before Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs Roberta Jacobson arrived in Havana on Jan. 21 for talks, the Cuban state newspaper ... Read More

A Tally of What Cuba Owes the World

| February 6th, 2015 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01


Cuban leader Raul Castro has presented to U.S. President Barack Obama a set of conditions to re-establish diplomatic relations. Among those conditions, Castro demands compensation for the damages caused to Cuba by the U.S. commercial embargo.

How much are the damages? According to the punctilious economists in the Cuban government, the figure is exactly $116.86 billion. I have no idea how they arrived at such a considerable, but for the purposes of this column, we will accept it as accurate.

This leads us to an inevitable question: How much have the incompetence and the interference of the Cuban revolution cost the world? After all, Cuba’s claim carries an implicit acknowledgment that there exist rights of property and lost profits, and that punitive damages should be levied against those who violate those rights or harm innocent victims.

Let me jot some hurried notes.

First, ... Read More

Cuban dissidents tell Congress they reject Obama-Castro plan to normalize relations

| February 6th, 2015 | No Comments »

A portion of the Cuban dissident movement, speaking before Congress on Thursday, rejected the agreement between Washington and Havana to resume bilateral relations and said that as they as they were not included in the dialogue to reestablish diplomatic ties they would not endorse the talks.

Appearing before the House Subcommittee on Human Rights were Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, known as “Antunez,” Berta Soler, the head of the Ladies in White, and another member of that group, Sara Fonseca.

“We’re not going to accept the Cuban opposition being ignored,” said Antunez.

The three dissidents are representatives of a sector of the Cuban opposition that does not view favorably the political about-face toward Cuba by the Barack Obama administration, although within the dissident movement as a whole there is a group that has come out in favor of the reestablishment of ties.

Antunez told lawmakers ... Read More

House members question how new Cuba policy will improve human rights

| February 5th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


In an at-times combative hearing, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday questioned whether the United States’ new relationship with Cuba would improve Cuba’s human rights record.

During the hearing on the Obama administration’s “sudden shift” in Cuba policy, Committee Chairman Ed Royce, a Republican from California, said, “This could have been used to leverage meaningful concessions on human rights in Cuba.”

Other members of the committee, including some who favor the new Cuba policy, also pressed Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson on what the United States was doing to get Cuba to respect human rights.

Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, noted that last year the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, an independent organization, reported 8,899 short-term detentions on the island. That was a 39 percent increase over 2013.

In recent years, there has been a shift in Cuba from long-term detentions to many short-term detentions. But Jacobson said the strategy of short-term detentions ... Read More

Diplomat: US won’t return Guantanamo to improve ties with Cuba

| February 5th, 2015 | No Comments »

The Obama administration on Wednesday ruled out handing over the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, rejecting a central demand of Cuban President Raul Castro for restoring normal relations between the two countries.

Roberta Jacobson, the top U.S. diplomat for Latin America, also said the U.S. would continue transmitting radio and television broadcasts into Cuba that are opposed by Castro’s government.

While Guantanamo and the broadcasts are irritants, Washington believes neither is likely to stand in the way of U.S. and Cuban embassies being re-established after a half-century interruption. The U.S. is hoping to clinch an agreement with Cuba on embassies in the coming months.

Jacobson’s testimony before a largely hostile House Foreign Affairs Committee came as an Associated Press-GfK poll found broad support in the United States for warmer ties with Cuba.

Forty-five percent of those surveyed supported full diplomatic relations between the ... Read More

Diplomat vows US won’t curb support for activists in Cuba despite Castro demands

| February 4th, 2015 | No Comments »

The Obama administration will not stop supporting Cuban human rights and democracy activists as part of any deal to restore embassies between the two countries, a top U.S. diplomat said Tuesday.

“I can’t imagine that we would go to the next stage of our diplomatic relationship without an agreement” to see democracy activists, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson testified during a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing.

Her response came after vigorous questioning from Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, chairing his first Senate hearing. Rubio read from an interview Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s top negotiator, gave The Associated Press in which she tied the establishment of embassies to reduced U.S. support for Cuban dissidents.

Jacobson, the highest-level American official to visit Havana in several decades, said more talks on re-establishing full diplomatic relations are planned for later this month. Besides embassies, the ... Read More

Cuban dissidents, divided on U.S. outreach, call for more consultation

| February 4th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Karen DeYoung

Visiting Cuban dissidents told Congress on Tuesday that while they might disagree on the wisdom of President Obama’s new policy toward Cuba, they were united in believing that further U.S. engagement with Havana should be based on consultation with political activists on the island.

“There is now a unique opportunity to assist the people of Cuba, and it must not be wasted,” independent journalist Miriam Leiva said at a subcommittee hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Berta Soler, head of the Ladies in White movement, said that even their disagreements were a step forward for the dissidents. “For us, they represent a complete exercise of politics,” she said. The group represents relatives of political prisoners in Cuba.

“The Cuban government is not a sovereign government; it has not been elected,” Soler said. “It has rejected the opinions of the Cuban people. They are the ones who own Cuba’s sovereignty; it’s very important to ... Read More

Sanctions Experts Warn Against Cuba ‘Irrational Exuberance’

| February 3rd, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By Joel Schectman

Companies shouldn’t get too excited yet about Cuba, sanctions experts say.

President Barack Obama  moved to normalize relations with Cuba after half a century last December, and began relaxing the embargo on business with the Communist state.

U.S. companies are excited about taking advantage of new openings so close to home.

But it will be years before the thaw in relations materializes into large-scale opportunities for U.S. firms, say attorneys that specialize in sanctions law. “There is a lot of what I’d call ‘irrational exuberance about Cuba right now,” said Jason Poblete, a trade attorney at Poblete Tamargo LLP.

On one hand, the relaxing of prohibitions against Cuba is a historic policy change. For the first time in decades, companies will be allowed to export some telecommunications equipment to Cuba without first seeking licenses. This includes Internet technology like cloud storage ... Read More

Cuba wants the US to stop diplomats from supporting political opposition

| February 3rd, 2015 | No Comments »
Business Insider


Cuba warned the United States on Monday that it wants American diplomats to scale back aid for Cuban dissidents before the two countries can reopen embassies in each other’s capitals.

The long-time adversaries are negotiating the restoration of diplomatic relations as a first step toward reversing more than five decades of confrontation. Officials for both governments met in Havana in January and a second round of talks is expected to be held in Washington this month.

But Cuba’s lead negotiator said in an interview broadcast on state television that if the United States wants free movement for its diplomats in Cuba, it must stop using them to support the political opposition.

“The way those (U.S.) diplomats act should change in terms of stimulating, organizing, training, supplying and financing elements within our country that act against the interests of … the government of the ... Read More

Investing in Cuba can be a risky business

| January 30th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce holds its annual South Florida Economic Summit today. This is what businessmen should know about doing business with Cuba:

From a business perspective, commercially engaging with Havana is different than doing business in most countries. Until now the American companies that have exported hundreds of millions of dollars in products to the island have benefited from American restrictions that required a cash and carry basis for American exports to Cuba.

Those restrictions have saved U.S. taxpayers millions because Havana is well-known for not paying its bills.

In 1986, Cuba stopped paying principal and interest to the Paris Club, to whom it owed billions of dollars to governments, banks, and foreign companies. Since then, Havana has restructured some debt. Some creditors forgave part of it due to the regime’s near bankruptcy.

The Heritage Foundation 2015 Index of ... Read More

Why Castro’s demand for reparations from US could backfire

| January 30th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor

By Howard LaFranchi

WASHINGTON — Cuban President Raúl Castro had a surprise for the Obama administration when he issued a new and considerably tougher set of demands this week for reaching normalized relations with the United States.

Return of the Guantánamo Bay naval base to Cuban sovereignty was perhaps the most stop-and-take-notice condition Mr. Castro set in a speech Wednesday. But it was the brother of Fidel Castro’s demand concerning reparations that could end up stirring the bitterest pot and posing the highest obstacle to normalization.

Castro said United States payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in economic reparations for damages caused by the five-decade-old embargo, and indeed a lifting of the embargo Cuba considers a “blockade,” would also have to take place before the two adversaries can renew relations that were severed soon after the Cuban revolution of 1959.

But Castro’s reparation demands also carry a risk. That’s because ... Read More

Castro demands Guantanamo Bay in return for US-Cuba diplomatic deal

| January 29th, 2015 | No Comments »

In a speech, President Raul Castro also called for the lifting of the US trade embargo and Cuba’s removal from a terror list.

Last month the two countries announced a thaw in relations, agreeing to restore diplomatic ties. They were severed in 1961.

High-level talks were held last week.

A Congressional delegation arrived in Havana to begin negotiations aimed at reopening embassies in the two countries’ capitals.

Meanwhile, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro appeared to signal his approval for the political rapprochement.

Cuba’s state-run newspaper published a letter on Tuesday in which he wrote: “We will always defend co-operation and friendship with all the people of the world, including with our political adversaries.”

He wrote that although he did not “trust the policy of the US”, it did not mean he rejected a “peaceful solution to conflicts”.

‘Illegally occupied’

His brother Raul, who succeeded him as president in 2008, made his demands at the summit of Community of ... Read More

Fear of immigration policy change triggers new wave of Cuban migrants

| January 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Nick Miroff

HAVANA — President Obama’s opening to Cuba has accelerated a surge in Cuban migration to the United States, the latest U.S. statistics show, as many on the island grow worried that America’s long-standing immigration benefits for Cubans are now in jeopardy.

Last month the Coast Guard intercepted 481 Cubans in rickety boats and rafts, a 117 percent increase from December 2013. But the boaters account for only a fraction of those attempting to reach the United States. At the Miami airport and ports of entry along the Mexican border, the number of Cubans who arrived seeking refuge jumped to 8,624 during the last three months of 2014, a 65 percent increase from the previous year.

Many Cubans have heard warnings for years that their unique immigration privileges — which essentially treat anyone from the island who sets foot on U.S. terra firma as a political refugee — would not last forever.

And they have seen ... Read More

U.S. Pushes Energy Exports to Undermine Venezuela

| January 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
Oil Price

By Nick Cunningham

The United States is seeking to dislodge Venezuela’s energy influence in the Caribbean, capitalizing on the collapse in oil prices.

Vice President Joe Biden hosted the first ever Caribbean Energy Security Summit in Washington DC on January 26. The summit, attended by leaders of Caribbean nations, was intended to find cleaner and more affordable sources of energy. As island nations with few indigenous sources of energy (save natural gas in Trinidad and Tobago), many rely on costly oil and gas imports.

But beyond providing sustainable alternatives, the energy summit appears to be an attempt to peel off Caribbean nations from Venezuelan influence.

Since 2005, Venezuela has provided very generous support to ideological allies in the western hemisphere. Using its abundant oil reserves – Venezuela is sitting on an estimated 298 billion barrels of oil, according to the EIA, arguably the largest reserves in the world – the ... Read More

Cuba digs in heels on concessions as part of better US ties

| January 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press


HAVANA (AP) – The start of talks on repairing 50 years of broken relations appears to have left President Raul Castro’s government focused on winning additional concessions without giving in to U.S. demands for greater freedoms, despite the seeming benefits that warmer ties could have for the country’s struggling economy.

Following the highest-level open talks in three decades between the two nations, Cuban officials remained firm in rejecting significant reforms pushed by the United States as part of President Barack Obama’s surprise move to re-establish ties and rebuild economic relations with the Communist-led country.

“One can’t think that in order to improve and normalize relations with the U.S., Cuba has to give up the principles it believes in,” Cuba’s top diplomat for U.S. affairs, Josefina Vidal, told The Associated Press after the end of the talks. “Changes in Cuba aren’t negotiable.”

... Read More

Mr. Maduro in His Labyrinth

| January 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
The New York Times

Framed portraits of the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez were propped up at various stops of President Nicolás Maduro’s recent whirlwind trip abroad, as the man at the helm of the nation with the world’s largest oil reserves begged for bailouts.

Posters of his predecessor also abounded when Mr. Maduro, a former bus driver, arrived home to a carnival-like welcome, as he drove the lead coach of a convoy that snaked through crowds of supporters.

Last week, in a speech before lawmakers, Mr. Maduro, whose approval rating has slipped to 22 percent as the Venezuelan economy teeters on the brink of collapse, again invoked his mentor in predicting a landslide victory in upcoming parliamentary elections. “I have no doubt that Chávez’s nation will deliver a great victory in the memory of Hugo Chávez in elections that are being held this year,” he said.

... Read More

Remarks of Ambassador Roger F. Noriega on “Promoting Human Rights and Democratic Reforms in Cuba”

| January 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »
By Roger Noriega

Remarks of Ambassador Roger F. Noriega

Visiting Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

Forum on “Promoting Human Rights and Democratic Reforms in Cuba”

At the Heritage Foundation, Friday, January 23, 2015

Those of us who are critics of President Obama’s new initiatives on Cuba do not oppose them because we hope he’s wrong, but because we know he’s wrong.

We know that the single biggest obstacle to economic and political freedom in Cuba for 55 years has been and still is the Castro regime. We know that a courageous, quiet, Christian, Oswaldo Payá, who sought a plebiscite under the rules of Castro’s own constitution, was killed when police ran his car off the road in southeastern Cuba in July 2012.

We know that an American aid worker, Alan Gross, who tried simply to offer Cuba’s small Jewish community Internet access on the island was held hostage for five years for his efforts. We know that while the Obama ... Read More

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