Archive for the ‘Cuba’ Category

US GENERAL TO SENATE: TERROR GROUPS BENEFITING FROM LATIN AMERICAN DRUG TRADE

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Breibart

WASHINGTON, DC — The Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah is among the terrorist organizations that are benefiting from the illegal drug trade in Latin America, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Tovo, deputy commander of the U.S. Southern Command (Southcom), told lawmakers.

Illegal drug trafficking in Latin American generates at least “tens of millions” for Hezbollah, which uses the funds to fuel its operations in the Middle East, explained the Southcom general.

During a hearing this afternoon held by the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee, Ron Johnson (R-WI), the panel’s chairman, asked the general to comment on the nexus between drug traffickers and terrorist organizations in Latin America.

“Mr. Chairman certainly in a classified setting we can give you a lot more detail. Suffice it to say from open source, I think we know that in at least several occasions over the past decade and a half, terrorists have attempted ... Read More

Cleaning up Latin American democracy

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Economist

During the multitudinous demonstration against Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, in São Paulo on March 15th, a lunatic fringe chanted for a return to military rule. That was sad more than worrying. The rightists were shouted down. Their isolation served to underline how routine democracy has become in many Latin American countries in the third of a century or so since the generals returned to barracks.

That outcome was not inevitable. Compared with Europe or North America, democracy in Latin America must struggle against big obstacles, including poverty, gaping income inequality and corruption. Another is poor institutional design. Latin America combines directly elected presidents, as in the United States, with multiparty legislatures chosen by proportional representation, in the manner of many European parliamentary systems. The result has often been gridlock: weak governments have lacked majorities in legislatures unthreatened by dissolution, which induces consensus in parliamentary regimes.

These ... Read More

5 Facts Obama Must Reconcile on Cuba’s Terrorism Designation

| March 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Huffington Post

By Mauricio Claver-Carone

Cuba’s Raul Castro regime has made it clear in recent weeks that “normalizing” relations with the United States hinges on removing the designation of that island nation from the U.S. list of “state-sponsors of terrorism.” Iran, Sudan and Syria are the only other nations currently on the list, which is compiled by the State Department.

Last December, as President Obama announced his intent to re-establish formal diplomatic relations with Cuba, he also publicly instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to review Cuba’s status. The review, the President added, should be “guided by the facts and the law.” In the weeks since, there have been reports of the White House pressuring the State Department and intelligence community to accelerate the review so that the President and Castro can shake hands at the April “Summit of the Americas” in Panama City.

That provokes serious concerns about whether the review is, indeed, being “guided by the facts and the law” or become ... Read More

Questions over US-Cuba talks amid Venezuela dispute

| March 19th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

By PETER ORSI and ANDREA RODRIGUEZ

HAVANA (AP) — It has been a strange few days for U.S.-Cuba relations that are meant to be on the mend.

First, the two sides emerged from surprise talks in Havana on Monday with nothing to say about progress toward reopening embassies after more than a half-century hiatus. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson returned to Washington as quietly as she arrived.

Cuban President Raul Castro, meanwhile, jetted off to a summit of leftist leaders in Venezuela on Tuesday to lambast U.S. policy toward Venezuela, his island’s top ally. The U.S. recently declared the South American nation a threat to its national security and levied sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials.

The whole thing had some observers scratching their heads, wondering whether there is now an obstacle blocking the road to detente.

The two countries announced their intent to ... Read More

Communiqué from the Venezuelan Student Movement

| March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
Movimiento_Estudiantil

Dear representatives of the Member States of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR),

The Venezuelan Student Movement takes this opportunity to address the UNASUR and express our rejection to the resolutions issued on Saturday March 14 by this organization regarding the sanctions implemented by the United States against officials from the government of Nicolas Maduro, and the classification of our nation as a threat to the national security of the United States.

These biased resolutions make us question the assumption that UNASUR is a privileged mechanism for dialogue. In the resolutions the systematic violations of our rights are not recognized, which include repression, persecution, imprisonment and unfortunately the loss of 44 lives so far, adding to the latter the death of the student Kluiberth Roa, who was murdered by state security forces protected by Decree 8610. Isn’t this precisely the sort of political persecution that UNASUR should condemn? Isn’t the mission ... Read More

How Obama’s Cuba Deal Is Strengthening Its Military

| March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
Politico

In the hit 1992 movie A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson’s fictional Colonel Jessup famously declares: “I eat breakfast 300 yards from 4,000 Cubans who are trained to kill me.” The Cuban officers I met never gave me that impression. As the State Department’s former representative to negotiations with Cuba’s military, I can tell you that our discussions were typically convivial and constructive. And today, President Barack Obama’s initiative to normalize relations with Havana has presented the United States with a truly mind-boggling prospect: Our most reliable partner on that long-isolated island is probably going to be the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias, Cuba’s military establishment.

And soon they’re going to be making a lot of money.

The Communist Party of Cuba may constitute the country’s political leadership, but it is seen increasingly as an anachronism by the population, and after Fidel Castro, 88, ... Read More

Cuba’s wrongdoing goes unchallenged

| March 11th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY FRANK CALZON

A few days after American negotiators met with Cuban officials to continue talks to reestablish formal diplomatic relations, a Chinese ship bound for Cuba was intercepted near Colombia’s Port of Cartagena carrying 100 tons of gunpowder, almost 3 million detonators and some 3,000 cannon shells to Cuba.

On Monday, a Colombian judge ordered that the Chinese captain of the Hong Kong-registered Da Dan Xia be placed under house arrest.

It’s not yet known whether President Obama has been alerted to Havana’s arms purchase. If he has, he’s not likely to say anything in this new era of aggressive niceness. He didn’t say anything about Cuba’s attempt in 2013 to smuggle two warplanes, missile parts and 240 metric tons of war materiél from Cuba into North Korea. Certainly, he wouldn’t say anything resembling his negative response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.

... Read More

Colombia arrests captain of arms-trafficking ship bound for Cuba

| March 4th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Guardian UK

The captain of a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship has been arrested in the Colombian port city of Cartagena, charged with arms trafficking for transporting undocumented large-caliber munitions, reportedly bound for Cuba.

The captain of the Da Dan Xia, a Chinese national identified as Wu Hong, was captured after authorities found 100 tonnes of gunpowder and 3,000 artillery shells among other munitions, an official from the Attorney General’s office told reporters.

The vessel was stopped on Saturday after authorities discovered the unregistered materials in eight shipping containers during inspection.

“Around 100 tonnes of gunpowder, 2.6m detonators, 99 projectiles and around 3,000 cannon shells were found,” the national director of the attorney general’s office, Luis González, said.

The documentation presented by the ship’s crew made no mention of the ammunition on board and instead listed the contents as chemicals and spare parts. “The documentation that the captain had in regards to the merchandise that was being transported ... Read More

For Obama, Castro Has A Ship Of Fools

| March 4th, 2015 | No Comments »
IBD

Diplomacy: As Paris Hilton whooped it up with Havana’s princelings to applaud U.S.-Cuba ties, Colombia detained a Chinese ship full of illegal weapons bound for Cuba in what may be a new violation of U.N. sanctions. Castro is playing us for fools.

Even though tourism remains illegal for Americans in Cuba, it doesn’t stop B-List celebrities from going to Havana, partying hearty, snapping and posting selfies, popping flashbulbs, swigging mojitos and buying cigars by the cartload, as Hilton’s Instagram pictures showed.

Communism-ravaged Cuba is about as poor as Ethiopia or Zimbabwe. So it wasn’t the locals partying down, but the communist elites — such as Fidel’s son, Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, with whom Hilton and model Naomi Campbell posed for selfies.

This is a preview of who will benefit from the opening to Cuba — its wealthy Communist Party elites, not ordinary folks.

But in this grotesque fantasyland of vulgar Third World dictators and equally vulgar ... Read More

Decomisan munición en buque que iba para Cuba

| March 2nd, 2015 | No Comments »
El Tiempo-01

Un buque con bandera de China que el pasado viernes llegó a Cartagena está siendo inspeccionado por la Policía Antinarcóticos en el puerto de esa ciudad.

El primer reporte arrojó que en 7 de los 14 contenedores hay abundante munición para artillería pesada, que hasta ahora no cuenta con la documentación correcta para ser transportada.

La Policía detectó el buque luego de que este llegara a Cartagena para desembarcar tubos para una firma petrolera, pero con información de inteligencia se alertó de la munición.

Inicialmente la información de inteligencia señalaba que eran armas que llegarían al país. Al revisar la documentación se estableció que el armamento, a nombre de una empresa comercial, tenía como destino a Cuba.

El comandante del buque se opuso en un principio a la inspección, pero la falta de documentación obligó a que la diligencia se realizara.

EL TIEMPO ... Read More

Ammunition was seized from ship headed to Cuba

| March 2nd, 2015 | No Comments »
El Tiempo-01

 A China-flagged ship that arrived to the port of Cartagena in Colombia is being inspected by the narcotics police of that city.

The first report showed that there is plenty of ammunition for heavy artillery, which so far does not have the correct documentation to be carried in 7 of the 14 containers.

Police detected the ship after it arrived in Cartagena to deliver tubes for an oil company, but intelligence alerted of the presence of ammunition.

Initially, intelligence information indicated that weapons were coming to the country. After reviewing the ship’s documentation it was established that the weapons, shipped by a trading company, were bound to Cuba.

Initially the captain of the ship tried to avoid the inspection, but the lack of documentation forced the latter.

Colombian newspaper El Tiempo established that the ship was also scheduled to arrive at Barranquilla and finally Cuba.

Official sources said the Ministry of Defense is handling the case.

Click ... Read More

Red flags in Cuba slow investment

| March 2nd, 2015 | No Comments »
USA TODAY

By Alan Gomez and Rick Jervis

MIAMI — After an initial wave of enthusiasm following President Obama’s decision to re-establish relations and expand trade with Cuba, American businesses are hitting the brakes.

Although companies such as MasterCard, American Express, Netflix and Twitter have announced plans to expand operations in Cuba, they can’t flourish on the island until two essential U.S. industries get on board: banking and telecommunications. And so far, officials in those fields are hesitant to jump into the risky Cuban market.

“Capital doesn’t like to go where there’s risk,” said Alex Sanchez, president and CEO of the Florida Bankers Association. “It’s not going to Iran, it’s not going to Iraq and it probably won’t go to Cuba for a while because of the risk.”

Ever since Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro made their historic announcement in December that they would end 50 years of estrangement, diplomats in both countries have been working to formalize ... Read More

US pressures Cuba to turn over fugitives

| February 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Sun Sentinel

By William E. Gibson

U.S. officials will continue this week to pressure Cuba to turn over fugitives wanted for Medicare fraud and other crimes in the United States.

Closer cooperation between the two old adversaries could disrupt a criminal pipeline that has funneled ill-gotten gains from Florida to Cuba, an organized crime network disclosed last month by the Sun Sentinel after a year-long investigation.

Some members of Congress are demanding the return of fugitives, hoping to halt Cuban crime rings and discourage scams.

“I would hope that if those who wish to violate American law understand that they can’t hide from prosecution in Cuba, it would help to deter people from ripping off American taxpayers,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat who represents parts of Palm Beach and Broward counties.

The issue will be raised Thursday when Cuba’s alleged links to terrorist groups are discussed at a House subcommittee hearing.

Chairman Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., said Cuban spying ... Read More

Reality sinks in for many Cubans on eve of talks with US

| February 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
UT San Diego

By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN

HAVANA (AP) — The jubilation that greeted the announcement of U.S.-Cuban detente two months ago has faded to resignation for many Cubans who are realizing they’re at the start of a long process unlikely to ease their daily struggles anytime soon.

Dreams of U.S. products flooding Havana stores and easy visits to family members in Florida have dissipated, in part because of a coordinated campaign by Cuban state media and officials to lower expectations and remind people that the main planks of the half-century-old U.S. trade embargo remain in place.

As Cuban officials head to Washington for a second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations Friday, many working-class islanders say they no longer expect immediate changes in their lives regardless of what emerges from the negotiations.

“The great expectations that surged with the news ... Read More

Migrants’ remittances to Latin America grew 4 pct. in 2014

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

Expatriates’ remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean increased 4 percent in 2014 to $62.3 billion, the biggest jump since the global economic crisis in 2009, the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think-tank, said Tuesday.

The largest gains went to Mexico and Central America, while several South American countries saw a decrease in remittances, due largely to the persistent economic crisis in Spain.

The overall advance in remittances to Latin America reflects improvements in the U.S. labor market, new migration patterns and the proliferation of new ways to transfer money, according to the report.

Remittances to Mexico increased 8.8 percent over 2013, while funds sent to Honduras increased 12.5 percent, and to Guatemala, 9 percent.

The Spanish economic crisis, with high levels of unemployment and falling pay, is largely responsible for decreases in remittances to Bolivia, 2.4 percent; Peru, 2.3 percent, and Colombia, which saw ... Read More

Dissidents Say as Many as 200 Arrested in Cuba

| February 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

Cuban dissidents say that more than 100 anti-government activists have been arrested and they are awaiting word Monday on how many have been released.

Berta Soler, leaders of the group Ladies in White, said that 53 members of her group and 36 other dissidents were arrested Sunday during the group’s traditional march through Havana after Sunday Mass.

Elizardo Sanchez, head Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, one of the country’s largest human rights groups, said that between 150 and 200 dissidents had been arrested across the country Sunday.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson said on Twitter that the U.S. is “concerned about violent silencing of peaceful voices for change.” She meets with Cuban officials Friday for the second round of talks on re-establishing diplomatic relations.

Click here for original ... Read More

Venezuela and Cuba: Partners in repression

| February 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Editorial Board

Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro paid a visit to Havana and met with Raúl and Fidel Castro, who have been his patrons and who helped to install him in power after the death of Hugo Chávez. Mr. Maduro’s political situation is desperate: As Venezuelans suffer severe shortages of staple goods and soaring inflation, his approval rating has dropped to 22 percent — and that’s before the full impact of falling oil prices hits a country dependent on petroleum for 96 percent of its hard-currency revenue.

On his return from Havana, Mr. Maduro turned to a familiar tactic. Intelligence agents stormed the residence of the elected opposition mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, and took him away to a military prison. Mr. Maduro then delivered a three-hour rant on television in which he accused the opposition leader of plotting a coup against him with the help of the Obama administration. Needless to say, he had no evidence to support this ludicrous charge.

If this ... Read More

Self-Inflicted Misery and Tyranny among Latin America’s Left

| February 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
Mexi Data

By Jerry Brewer

It is astonishing that with so much focus and dialogue on demands for world freedom, self-expression and human rights, many tend to ignore or simply fail to do their homework on repressive dictatorial-like regimes floundering throughout Latin America and oppressing their citizens.

It was certainly no secret that the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s 14 years in office was a tired precursor to a near failed state in Venezuela today. Chavez spent his entire rule in office working to recruit and support leftist presidential candidates throughout the hemisphere, touting his Bolivarian Revolution – that is quite simply the more exhausted Cuban Revolution that remains in Venezuelan to this very day.

Chavez demolished independence in Venezuela’s institutions, seized control of the economy, militarized the government, and virtually destroyed private enterprise. Death, destruction and insufficiencies in Venezuela remain rampant.

If there was even a modicum of value to add to the history of Venezuela from ... Read More

The Truth About ‘Tourist Apartheid’ in Cuba

| February 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

By Kim-Marie Evans

Contrary to recent headlines, Cuba is not flinging open its doors for tourist travel. Although there have been recent changes in U.S. regulations, it is still technically illegal for an American to be a tourist in Cuba. In fact, during a recent art-buying trip I took to Cuba, I learned there is a term used to describe the visitor situation in the country: “tourist apartheid.” In other words, travelers still remain separate from the general population.

The purpose of my trip was to buy art, but the visit also allowed me to learn more about the lives of “real” Cubans — which is very different from what tourists see and experience. The people I interviewed whispered their answers while glancing over their shoulders. “Who could possibly be listening?” I asked.

The truth is that anyone can be listening.

I took a similar trip ... Read More

Rough Seas for Venezuela

| February 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
The New York Times

BY ENRIQUE KRAUZE

MEXICO CITY — At the University of Havana in 1999, President Hugo Chávez assailed those who would “ask Cuba to follow the path of false democracy” and declared that Venezuela was “moving toward the same ocean as the Cuban people, an ocean of happiness, of true social justice, of peace.” But the recent steep plunge in oil prices has thrown both Cuba and the Venezuela that supplies its oil into a much more turbulent ocean than Mr. Chávez ever imagined.

To emulate Cuba politically was an inexcusable choice, but Mr. Chávez began carefully to do so. In order to distance Venezuela from “false democracy,” he accumulated control over the organs of government and over much of the information media: radio, television and the press. His successor, Nicolás Maduro, has remained on that road but much more crudely — with little attention to nuance or pragmatic pressures. He took over the rest ... Read More

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