Archive for the ‘Cuba’ Category

N. Korea used complex network to evade sanctions: U.N. report

| February 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Global Post

North Korea went to great lengths to defy sanctions by using a global network, including companies based in China and Singapore, to evade detection of a cargo ship that was discovered to be smuggling weapons last summer in waters off Panama, an unpublished U.N. report showed.

“The employment of so many role-players in support of the trip suggests a network of entities centrally managed working together to deflect scrutiny in order to evade sanctions by minimizing the DPRK’s visibility in transactions,” according to the 59 page annual report by the Panel of Experts that was seen Wednesday by Kyodo News.

The DPRK is an acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea.

While Chongchongang Shipping Co. is listed as the owner-operator of the vessel, the panel found that the actual operator-manager was Ocean Maritime Management Co., which is headquartered in Pyongyang, but also has offices in Vladivostok, ... Read More

New York Times unmasks selfish motives behind Castro’s ‘reforms’

| February 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
AEI

To the uninitiated, occasional news of “Cuban reforms” is received with some sense of hope that the Castro regime might be loosening its stranglehold on the economy to create new opportunity for the island’s 11 million people.

Such false expectations are raised by professional Castropologists, who peddle the narrative that Raul Castro is a frustrated reformer who would spread his wings once he assumed power from his brother Fidel. That dynastic transition happened six years ago, and the Castro stranglehold on the economy is barely loosened. Yet every hint of “reform” is still trumpeted as a new birth of freedom. Of course, that is rubbish.

The latest evidence of the Castro regime’s single-minded agenda can be found in the New York Times, in an article entitled, “Cuba’s Reward for the Dutiful:  Gated Housing.” Although one might expect from the NYTimes an homage to Raul the Reformer, this piece reveals that the regime’s ... Read More

Latin America has democracy, but lacks democrats

| February 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Hill

BY MAURICIO CLAVER-CARONE

Latin America’s democratically elected leaders paraded through the last remaining dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere and paid homage to its totalitarian rulers.

They were in Havana for a summit last week of the Community of Latin American States (CELAC, in Spanish), an anti-U.S. concoction of deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Currently the organization’s rotating presidency is held by Cuban dictator, Gen. Raul Castro.

Seemingly these elected leaders were neither interested nor concerned that Cuba’s government had threatened, beaten and arrested hundreds of the island’s democracy advocates who had tried to plan and hold a parallel summit to discuss the lack of freedom and human rights in Cuba.

In regards to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, this would seem to be particularly unfortunate. Both were once themselves victims of military dictatorships and scorned dignitaries who coddled their repressors.

So why would Latin America’s democratically elected leaders willingly participate in ... Read More

Panama releases North Korean ship after Cuban weapons find

| February 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Deutsche Welle

Panama has released a North Korean ship seized after it was found to be transporting weapons from Cuba. The ship’s owner was forced to pay an almost $700,000 fine. Three crew members face weapons trafficking charges.

The North Korean ship was granted free passage on Saturday after its representatives paid the $693,333 fine to the Panama Canal Authority.

The fine was imposed for violating navigation regulations by not reporting that the Chong Chon Gang was transporting weapons, the authority added in a statement.

The vessel was detained in July after a search revealed it was carrying smuggling Soviet-era arms from Cuba. The weapons, which included two MiG-21 aircraft, 15 MiG engines and nine anti-aircraft missiles, were hidden under 10,000 tonnes of sugar.

Panamanian officials said the ship was smuggling weapons in perfect condition, contradicting Cuban claims that the cargo included “obsolete defensive weapons.”

Three of the vessel’s highest-ranking crew members, including the captain are being charged with weapons ... Read More

Brazil Tries to Borrow Its Way to Prosperity

| February 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

A five-year credit spree by state banks threatens the country’s competitiveness.

BY MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff traveled to Davos, Switzerland, last month with a message for international investors: Brazil is about to become more competitive. “I want to emphasize that we will not be weak on inflation,” Mrs. Rousseff said. “Fiscal responsibility is a basic principle of our vision for economic and social development.”

On the way home, Mrs. Rousseff stopped in Cuba, where she inadvertently signaled the opposite. The Brazilian government’s development bank—known by its Portuguese initials BNDES—has dumped almost $700 million in subsidized credit into Cuba to finance the renovation of the Port of Mariel. On Jan. 27, Mrs. Rousseff cut a ribbon at the project and promised another $200 million in BNDES credits for a second phase of construction. On the same day the Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico reported that Cuba is now the third top destination ... Read More

Cuban’s Asylum Bid Challenges Brazil, U.S.

| February 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

BY JOHN LYONS & MATT COWLEY

SÃO PAULO, Brazil—The defection of a Cuban doctor assigned to work in a remote Amazon town in Brazil threatens to create new political headaches for Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff and to strain the South American nation’s already-troubled relations with the U.S.

The doctor, Ramona Matos Rodríguez, 51, said in an interview Thursday that she fled the Amazon clinic last week. On Monday she went to the U.S. Embassy in Brasília, where she applied for entry to the U.S. under a little-known government program that eases defections by Cuban doctors. U.S. Embassy officials declined to comment.

The Cuban Medical Professional Program went into effect in 2006 to allow Cuban doctors “conscripted” to work or study abroad to enter the U.S., according to a U.S. State Department website.

Ms. Matos arrived in Brazil from Cuba in October as part of a controversial program backed by Ms. Rousseff to staff Brazil’s ... Read More

Cuba: The selling of a nation

| February 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY CARLOS ALBERTO MONTANER

I first heard the concept from a European diplomat who had lived in Cuba. It has since spread. The model created by the Castro brothers is a pimp state.

It’s an uncomfortable designation but in line with the reality that circulates sotto voce among the Cubans on the island. The government has specialized in the extortion of its own citizens. Fifty-five years after the dictatorship was imposed, almost all the significant forms of income that sustain the country come from shady deals made abroad.

The Venezuelan subsidy. Estimated at $13 billion a year by Prof. Carmelo Mesa Lago, dean of Cuban economists on the subject. That includes more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day, half of which are re-exported and sold in Spain. Thirty thousand others apparently go to PetroCaribe, originating a double corruption of political support and illicit enrichment.

The public source of this information is expert Pedro Mantellini, one of ... Read More

Mexico’s Pena Nieto Is for Reform, Just Not in Cuba

| February 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

BY CARLOS PUIG

Last February, Mexico’s former president, Felipe Calderon, posted 22 tweets about Yoani Sanchez, the Cuban dissident blogger. Each tweet was more enthusiastic than the last. “Brave activist for freedom,” Calderon called her.

Ten months earlier, Calderon had been in Havana, on an official trip, dining and smiling with Raul Castro. There was no mention of Yoani or any dissidents and, of course, no visit with them. On the recommendation of the Cuban government, the “activist for freedom” was ignored.

Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico’s current president, should have set a different example during his recent official visit to Havana. He has, after all, styled himself as a bold reformer, as he boasted last week in Davos, showing off a plan that would allow private investment in Mexico’s energy sector for the first time in half a century.

Yet Pena Nieto had little to say about Yoani, or Guillermo Farinas, or “Las Damas de Blanco” (the Ladies in White), all dissidents ... Read More

Web Developers Gather for ‘Hackathon for Cuba’

| January 31st, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

BY CHRISTINE ARMARIO

Technology experts are gathering to brainstorm ways to improve access to the Internet and information in Cuba, considered the one of the least connected countries in the Western hemisphere.

The “Hackathon for Cuba” begins Friday in Miami.

Cuban dissident and online activist Yoani Sanchez is expected to deliver opening remarks at a reception via Skype.

“The primary purpose is to design solutions that help Cubans break down or circumvent barriers they face in communication with each other or with the outside world,” said Natalia Martinez, chief innovation and technology officer at Roots of Hope, the nonprofit organization putting together the event.

“The secondary purpose is to create an inclusive and action-oriented conversation around the impact of technology in Cuba, one that involves Cubans from different waves of immigration, different industries,” she said.

On Saturday, computer programmers and others will develop ideas for smartphone applications that could be used ... Read More

CELAC: Incluyente o excluyente?

| January 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
Felipe Trigos

Por Felipe Trigos

Esta semana, los jefes de Estado de treinta y tres países se reunieron en La Habana, Cuba para la cumbre de la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC). Esta organización, a diferencia de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), excluye a Estados Unidos y Canadá en lo que se supone es un esfuerzo regional para: promover la igualdad, la pluralidad y la diversidad.

La Habana se preparó para que los visitantes a la cumbre pudieran percibir una visión de “la Cuba real ” y la llamada apertura del régimen de Raúl Castro. La realidad sigue siendo sombría para la mayoría de los cubanos que viven bajo el régimen autoritario de los hermanos Castro. Yoani Sánchez, connotada disidente Cubana, expreso que “No puede ser que invitados a #CumbreCELAC se muestren indiferentes y “desinformados” ante arrestos y amenazas de la #OperacionLimpieza”. La representante permanente de los Estados Unidos ante la ... Read More

US, rights groups condemn Cuban dissident detentions

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

BY JUAN O. TAMAYO

The U.S. State Department, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch joined Tuesday in condemning the Cuban government’s detentions of dozens of dissidents to keep them away from a Havana summit of hemispheric leaders.

Human rights activists in Havana said an estimated 100 pro-democracy activists had been briefly detained or put under house arrest for the two-day Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which ends Wednesday.

About 30 of them were detained when they gathered in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba just as Cuban ruler Raúl Castro was giving his opening address to the summit, according to the dissident Cuban Patriotic Union.

“We condemn such actions and urge the government of Cuba to allow Cuban citizens to express their opinions freely, and allow them to assemble peacefully in the exercise of that right,” said a State Department spokesperson.

“We encourage leaders, including those of international ... Read More

E.U. policy toward Cuba must not overlook its human rights abuses

| January 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

AS AN island nation with a failed socialist economy, Cuba depends for its survival on those beyond its borders. Venezuela has been its principal patron in recent years, but trade with the European Union is also significant. The European Union is Cuba’s second-most important trading partner and biggest external investor; one-third of all tourists to the island each year come from E.U. countries. Outsiders can influence Cuba, at least at the margins, and they should take advantage of that leverage.

On Feb. 10, the foreign ministers of the 28 E.U. member states will meet in Brussels. On their agenda is whether to begin a negotiation toward a new “political and cooperation agreement” with Cuba, which is being pushed by Spain and some others. Before they rush into a new handshake in Havana, this is a good moment for Europe to take a stand for human rights and send a message to Raúl Castro and his ... Read More

Cuba’s CELAC Summit: Masking the Truth of a Failed Diplomacy

| January 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
Mexi Data

BY JERRY BREWER

Havana, the capital of the Castro brother’s Cuba, will play host to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit this January 28-30. The heads of state and government representatives from 32 Latin American and Caribbean nations are scheduled to attend.

Conversely, Cubans who will apparently not be allowed anywhere near the meetings are crying foul, even with strained abilities to communicate to an outside free world. After all, CELAC was created to “deepen Latin American integration.”

Evidently Cuba is disallowing any integration by dissidents, who seek to have a free voice and be heard on their own island, with the leaders of other Latin American nations. Furthermore, it has been claimed by many that some of those who will attend have expressed no intentions to attend any peaceful events organized by the opposition.

Is this snubbing of dissidents and removal from the summit areas indicative solely of the ... Read More

Cuban leading activist Jose Ferrer ‘arrested’ in Havana

| January 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

Pro-democracy activists in Cuba say a leading dissident Jose Ferrer has been arrested after meeting European diplomats in the capital, Havana.

The activists said they did not know where Mr Ferrer had been taken.

They have also reported other arrests and intimidation from the Cuban authorities, ahead of a regional gathering of heads of state next week.

Mr Ferrer was planning to attend an unauthorised meeting of dissidents during the summit.

“He was detained late on Friday near my home, where he had been a guest,” Elizardo Sanchez, the leader of the illegal but tolerated Cuban Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission (CCDHRN), told the AFP news agency.

He said that at least eight other activists had been arrested, most of them temporarily, and that they were being targeted because of the international gathering, which opens on Tuesday.

“We fear that a wave of political repression has started ahead the summit, especially in the west ... Read More

RIP, Inter-American Democratic Charter

| January 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

Next week, leaders from Latin American and the Caribbean will assemble in a jovial atmosphere in undemocratic Cuba to effectively bury the Inter-American Democratic Charter. That historic document, signed by all countries in the Western Hemisphere (excepting, of course, Cuba) on the fateful day of September 11, 2001, set the unprecedented standard that, “The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.”

Today, almost 13 years later, the charter has been rendered meaningless — and, worse, no one seems to care.

Perhaps the Organization of American States (OAS) — which proudly features the charter on its website — would have a comment on the utter incongruity of regional leaders supposedly obligated to promote and defend democracy summiteering in Cuba? Well, to find Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza you would have to ring him up in his hotel in Havana, as he ... Read More

Street protest in Cuba draws at least 500, sparks clash with police

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

BY JUAN O. TAMAYO

At least 500 Cubans staged a rare street protest and clash with police in the eastern city of Holguin after municipal authorities confiscated household goods being sold in an open-air market by the island’s nascent private business owners, according to witnesses.

“This has been something immense. In my 31 years, I never saw anything like this,” said Holguin business owner Wilian Zaldivar Perez, who added that patrons in a restaurant near the protest also threw rocks at the police during the confrontation Tuesday.

Communist-ruled Cuba has not seen street protests of any significant size since 1994, when thousands of people rioted in downtown Havana amid a false rumor that the ferry that takes people across Havana Bay would take anyone to South Florida.

The protest Tuesday was the result of “the dissatisfaction that has been accumulating” with the Raúl Castro regime and his halting economic reforms, said Eduardo Cardet, an ... Read More

Panama accuses Cuba of refusing to cooperate

| January 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY JUAN O. TAMAYO

Panama will send a low-ranking official to a summit of hemispheric leaders in Cuba to signal its displeasure with Havana’s refusal to cooperate over a shipment of Cuban weapons seized aboard a North Korean freighter, sources said Tuesday.

Floreal Garrido, the fifth-ranking official in Panama’s Foreign Ministry, will represent his government at the Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), a knowledgeable ministry source told El Nuevo Herald on Tuesday.

Garrido, whose official title is Director of Foreign Policy, will be attending a Jan. 28-29 gathering where many of the 33 other countries’ delegations will be led by presidents, prime ministers or foreign ministers. The U.S. and Canada are not part of CELAC.

“We will send them our fifth-ranking official to Havana to show our displeasure with their total lack of cooperation on the matter of the North Korean ship,” said the source, who asked to ... Read More

VenEconomy: Venezuela goes the wrong direction

| January 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Petroleum World

The leitmotiv of this past fifteen years has been wrong policymaking from the Venezuelan government in economic and social matters, thought up for developing a country model resembling that of the Castro brothers’ Cuba.

As it has been widely demonstrated before, this has led to a deep economic and social crisis. Unfortunately, the political reasons of both rulers from the pseudo Bolivarian revolution, Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, have resulted in a cure worse than the disease produced by the Castro-communist regime itself, and that other measures that were “kind of right” (those applied when they had no choice due to the crushing social pressure) were not taken promptly and became useless in the end.

One of those cases is that of the foreign exchange controls. The economic meltdown caused by tight foreign currency controls since 2003 has been, among many others, one of the main causes for a high inflation rate, ... Read More

The Future of the Bolivarian Revolution in the Post-Chávez Era

| January 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
University of Miami

BY DOUGLAS FARAH

Throughout his years in power, but particularly beginning in 2004, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez spent a significant amount of political and economic capital creating a structure to carry out his dream of establishing a regional alliance of countries espousing his “Socialism for the 21st Century” doctrine and enmity toward the United States.

Grouped under the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and including Iran as an observer, the alliance was largely sustained by Chávez’s vision and Venezuela’s largess in the form of petroleum and petroleum products at steeply discounted prices, as well as other economic benefits for member nations. In return, Chávez received international solidarity and a platform for launching a new regional defense doctrine in which the United States was identified as the primary external threat.[1]

A key question in the post-Chávez era is what will become of the Bolivarian edifice now under construction and whether ... Read More

Raúl Castro’s unhurried reforms of Cuba economy falter

| January 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

BY JOHN PAUL RATHBONE

In a dusty Havana parking lot, a group of Cubans examine the prices of the modern cars they can now buy from the state for the first time: $263,000 for a 2013 Peugeot saloon that retails in Europe for $30,000, or $20,000 for a 2002 Fiat Uno with over 100,000km on the clock.

“Who are they kidding? At those prices, they have to give a lifetime supply of petrol too,” says taxi driver Antonyne Carrera as he peers through the lot’s wire fencing. “It’s a bad joke,” adds fellow bystander Mauricio, who works in the tourist trade.

The car sale is the latest in a series of reforms introduced by President Raúl Castro that are supposed to improve the country’s economic lot and bolster the government’s popularity but which, in this case, has made the authorities a laughing stock among Cubans who earn an average state wage of $18 a month.

It ... Read More

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