Posts Tagged ‘Fidel Castro’

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

| January 29th, 2015 | No Comments »
BBC

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

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

Obama should help Cubans, not Castro

| January 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
AEI

Touted as a historic shift in US-Cuba relations, ironically, the Obama administration’s latest initiatives serve to reinforce the status quo — legitimizing and benefiting a regime that has a 55-year track record of opposing change.

President Obama’s new Cuba policy is taking shape this week as his administration announced high-level talks on diplomatic recognition of the Castro regime and released new regulations to liberalize travel to and transactions with the island. Touted as a historic shift in US-Cuba relations, ironically, all of these initiatives serve to reinforce the status quo — legitimizing and benefiting a regime that has a 55-year track record of opposing change. Accepting that this is not what the president intended, he must get serious about engaging the 11 million people of Cuba rather than placating the regime that torments them.

The State Department has announced that Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson will travel ... Read More

Administration details eased travel, trade restrictions on Cuba

| January 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Hill

By Justin Sink

The Obama administration on Thursday announced the details of sweeping new regulations that will ease travel and trade restrictions with Cuba as part of President Obama’s bid to normalize relations with the communist nation for the first time in a half century.

The rules, announced by the Treasury and Commerce departments, will take effect on Friday.

Under the new policies, travelers who qualify under a dozen broad categories of authorized travel will be able to visit the country without applying for a license. Travelers visiting Cuba won’t be limited in how much money they can spend while on the island, and they’ll be allowed to use their U.S. credit and debit cards.

Travelers can also bring back up to $400 worth of goods, including $100 in alcohol and tobacco products. And travel agents and airlines will be allowed to provide service to the island without the need of ... Read More

Cuban dissident ‘titan’ slams normalization while in Tampa

| January 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Tampa Tribune

By Paul Guzzo

TAMPA — There was more at stake than a photo op when Mayor Bob Buckhorn met Cuban opposition leader Jorge Luis García Pérez in Tampa on Tuesday.

To hear the man who arranged the meeting, it was meant to help preserve the safety of this leader known in Cuba as Antúnez.

 If the Cuban government knows the 50-year-old Antúnez, who continues to live on the island nation, has friends in high places in the United States, it may be less likely to punish him for what he says, said Ralph Fernandez, a Tampa lawyer long active in the movement to overthrow the Castro regime.

 “This is a protective measure,” Fernandez said. “And it might not be enough.”

Antúnez’s visit comes as the U.S. moves toward normalizing relations with Cuba, with the announcement last month by President Barack Obama that he will reopen an embassy in ... Read More

Reconstruyendo Venezuela

| January 12th, 2015 | 1 Comment »
Maria Corina Machado

[Traducción por IASW]

Venezuela está colapsando. El viaje de Nicolás Maduro a China, donde pidió fondos para sobrevivir, fue un fracaso humillante; filas de casi un kilometro para conseguir alimentos se pueden apreciar en las calles de Caracas y otras ciudades; cubanos que manipulaban el gobierno de Maduro están abandonando un barco que ayudaron a hundir; y los militares están considerando el reto de suprimir a manifestantes enojados y desesperados para regalarle tiempo a un régimen incompetente e impopular.

Maduro está luchando con el descontento popular, la escasez de alimentos, una tasa de inflación real del 90 por ciento, apagones, una infraestructura en ruinas y otros desafíos domésticos. Políticas desastrosas implementadas por el fallecido Hugo Chávez intencionalmente estrangularon al sector privado, que es parte de la fórmula de Cuba para que los venezolanos tengan que depender del estado a tal grado que no puedan resistir su voluntad.

La caída del 40% en los ... Read More

Rebuilding Venezuela

| January 12th, 2015 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

Venezuela is collapsing. President Nicolas Maduro’s dash-for-cash to Beijing last week was a humiliating failure. Half-mile food lines wind through the streets of Caracas and other cities. Maduro’s Cuban handlers are abandoning a ship they helped sink, while Venezuelan military officers are pondering the challenge of how to suppress angry, desperate protesters to buy time for an unpopular, incompetent regime.

Maduro is wrestling with popular unrest, food shortages, a real inflation rate of 90 percent, blackouts, crumbling infrastructure, and other domestic challenges. Ruinous policies ushered in by the late Hugo Chavez intentionally strangled the private sector — part of the Cuban formula to make Venezuelans too dependent on the state to resist its will.

The 40 percent drop in global oil prices has hit Venezuela hard, because Caracas relies on petrodollars to provide 96 percent of its export earnings and 45 percent of Venezuelan government revenues. The productivity of Venezuela’s state-run oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, ... Read More

Cuba: More Political Prisoners, But the New U.S. Policy Marches Onward

| January 8th, 2015 | No Comments »
Council on Foreign Relations

By Elliott Abrams 

There are more Cuban political prisoners  today than on the day President Obama announced his deal with the Castro brothers, December 17.

Part of that deal was supposed to see 53 Cuban political prisoners released, but now it’s three weeks later and they have not been released. Nor have they even been identified. As the Washington Post put it in a headline, “Mystery surrounds 53 Cuban political prisoners supposed to be set free.” Instead of releasing them, the Cuban regime has in fact arrested more dissidents, two weeks after the Obama speech and just before New Year’s.

How are we to know if the regime is ever going to meet its commitment to the Obama White House? How can we track the liberation of these prisoners?

We can’t. Nor will Cuban refusal to release them slow down the Obama policy. The next step is for our ... Read More

Obama says he’ll press Cuba on human rights

| January 7th, 2015 | No Comments »
McClatchy

BY LESLEY CLARK

The U.S. will enter into talks with Cuba even if it hasn’t released all of the 53 political prisoners it pledged it would when President Barack Obama announced plans to normalize relations with the island.

The White House said Tuesday that Cuba has released “some” of the prisoners, but White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he couldn’t discuss specific numbers.

“We’ve been careful about talking about the number of prisoners and who they are because we don’t want to put an even bigger target on their back as political dissidents,” Earnest said, noting that the White House hopes to see all the prisoners released “in the near future.”

He said the Cuban government made the pledge not only to the U.S., but to the Vatican, which played a role in brokering talks between the U.S. and Cuba after more than 50 years of icy relations.

“The expectation right now is that ... Read More

Nylons for nothing in Cuba

| January 2nd, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Charles Krauthammer

There’s an old Cold War joke — pre-pantyhose — that to defeat communism we should empty our B-52 bombers of nuclear weapons and instead drop nylons over the Soviet Union. Flood the Russians with the soft consumer culture of capitalism, seduce them with Western contact and commerce, love-bomb them into freedom.

We did win the Cold War, but differently. We contained, constrained, squeezed and eventually exhausted the Soviets into giving up. The dissidents inside subsequently told us how much they were sustained by our support for them and our implacable pressure on their oppressors.

The logic behind President Obama’s Cuba normalization, assuming there is one, is the nylon strategy. We tried 50 years of containment and that didn’t bring democracy. So let’s try inundating them with American goods, visitors, culture, contact, commerce.

It’s not a crazy argument. But it does have its weaknesses. Normalization has not advanced democracy in China or Vietnam. Indeed, it ... Read More

Cuba ‘normalization’: Euphoria meets reality

| December 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Hill

By Gardner Peckham

Media reports last week trumpeted the “normalization” of US-Cuba relations but in the light of day this widespread euphoria crashes headlong into the reality of the limited running room available to the Obama administration and it supporters in Congress.

From the early 1960’s until the 1990’s, nearly all U.S. economic sanctions aimed at Cuba were imposed by Executive Order under the “Cuban Assets Control Regulations issued by the U.S. Treasury Department. But, with enactment of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, and even more so with the “Helms/Burton” legislation in 1996, the economic embargo was strengthened and codified into legal statute, that is law. As a result, the only way the economic embargo on Cuba can be meaningfully lifted is with the advent of Jeffersonian democracy in Cuba or, in lieu of that, Congress repealing or changing the law. Since the Administration’s negotiators appear to have ... Read More

Obama’s Cuba mistake: A Q&A with Roger Noriega

| December 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »
AEI

By Roger F. Noriega

On Wednesday, President Obama announced that he would take steps to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, reversing a policy of isolation that has stood for over a half-century and through 10 presidential administrations. Below, AEI scholar Roger Noriega answers several important questions that have arisen in the wake of Obama’s dramatic move.

People refer to the Cuba sanctions as an anachronism.  After all, we trade and work with many dictatorships. For example, what’s the difference between Cuba and Communist China?

Cuba is in our neighborhood—in a region whose governments have committed themselves to representative democracy and respect for human rights. Yes, we should expect more from that government, particularly in justifying a dramatic policy change. By relaxing these standards to accommodate a totalitarian regime, other governments will find it easier to justify undemocratic behavior that hurts their people and undermines stability in the region.

... Read More

Cuba Says It Has a Right to Grant Asylum to US Fugitives

| December 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN and ANDREA RODRIGUEZ Associated Press

Cuba said Monday that it has a right to grant asylum to U.S. fugitives, the clearest sign yet that the communist government has no intention of extraditing America’s most-wanted woman despite the warming of bilateral ties.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has urged President Barack Obama to demand the return of fugitive Joanne Chesimard before restoring full relations under a historic detente announced by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro last week.

Chesimard was granted asylum by Fidel Castro after she escaped from the prison where she was serving a sentence for killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 during a gunbattle after being stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Asked if returning fugitives was open to negotiation, Cuba’s head of North American affairs, Josefina Vidal, told The Associated Press that “every nation has sovereign and legitimate rights to grant political asylum to people it considers to ... Read More

Obama’s Grand Reset

| December 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Article appeared in The Weekly Standard

By LEE SMITH

Last week’s announcement that the White House intends to restore normal diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba is part of Barack Obama’s larger project to overturn what he perceives to be wrongheaded, or at least outdated, foreign policies. From Obama’s perspective, the Cold War ended nearly a quarter of a century ago, so let’s catch up to the new reality.

For President Obama, amelioriating this country’s relations with Russia, Iran, and now Cuba amounts to a Grand Reset, a reevaluation of America’s position in a post-Cold War world. However, it’s not clear that either the president or his administration really understands what the Cold War was all about.

According to the White House press release last week: “Decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our objective of empowering Cubans to build an open and democratic country.” That is true, ... Read More

Cuba’s Castro On The Ropes, Obama Throws Him A Lifeline

| December 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Investor's Business Daily

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN

The celebrations in Havana and the sullen silence in Miami tell you all you need to know about who won this round with Castro’s Cuba. In JFK’s metaphor, Obama traded a horse for a rabbit.

We got back Alan Gross before his Communist jailers killed him, along with an American spy, in exchange for three members of a Cuban espionage ring. Had we left it at that, the deal would have been fine.

But Obama threw in an admission that all nine presidents before him pursued a “failed policy.” Calling for recognition of the Castro regime as the legitimate government of Cuba, Obama said, “Isolation has not worked.”

“Not worked”? What’s he talking about? Isolating Cuba the last 30 years of the Cold War helped bankrupt and bring down the Soviet Empire, which had to carry Cuba on its back.

Obama’s admission is being seen in Cuba as vindication of half a ... Read More

Who Benefits if the Embargo Is Lifted?

| December 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY

On a trip to Havana in the late 1990s, I toured the restoration of a 17th century convent with a Cuban architect. He told me the project was having trouble getting replacement floor tiles because of the U.S. embargo. I smiled and told him there was no blockade of the island and that the tiles could be sourced in Mexico. He grinned back at me.

“Well, OK,” he said. “The real problem is that we don’t have any money to buy them.”

Cubans are programmed from an early age to complain to anyone who will listen that “el bloqueo” is the cause of the island’s dire poverty. They know it’s a lie. But obediently repeating it is a survival skill. It raises the odds that the demented dictator won’t suspect you of having counterrevolutionary thoughts, boot you from your job, kick your children out of school and haul you off ... Read More

Cuban migrant missing after Cuban coast guard sinks boat

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

By Brenda Medina and Enrique Flor

Cuba’s Coast Guard sank a boat carrying 32 Cubans who were trying to reach the Florida coast, according to a woman who survived and whose husband is missing.Masiel González Castellano told reporters in a telephone conversation from Matanzas, Cuba, that her husband, Leosbel Díaz Beoto, is missing after falling from the boat that was repeatedly charged and hit by a boat manned by the Cuban Coast Guard.

“We were screaming and crying for help as the boat was sinking. But they ignored us. Instead, they continued charging against our boat. Some people dove in the water and others stayed aboard as the boat sank,” said González, who was contacted during a press conference hosted in Miami by the Democracy Movement. “They knew there were children aboard, but continued to charge against us. They didn’t care.”

The boat, said González, was carrying 32 people, including seven women and ... Read More

The Real Cost of Castro Inc.

| December 19th, 2014 | No Comments »
FoxNews.com

By Elizabeth MacDonald 

There is a price that the Cuban regime will exact from American companies to do business there if U.S.-Cuba relations are fully normalized, a price that likely won’t benefit the country’s lower classes, but will instead line the pockets of Castro & Co., experts on Cuba warn.

Because of its tight grip, the Castro regime has kept Cuba’s GDP hamstrung. It’s economy is now at a tiny $72.3 billion, less than half that of the state of Iowa, notes Richard J. Peterson, senior director at S&P Capital IQ. In fact, the average worker earns less than $25 a month.

Cuba is in crisis, it needs a bailout. Its crony communism has failed, it is steeped in debt, and its money is running low. Historically, Cuba has enjoyed lifelines in the form of money and oil from Venezuela, which had been generously ... Read More

Bush Commerce Secretary Says Obama Gave Cuba ‘a Major Political Win

| December 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Time

By Eliza Gray

“The U.S. has given so many concessions and not received anything in return,” Carlos Gutierrez tells TIME

Former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez told TIME Thursday that the U.S “will have egg on our face” following President Barack Obama’s move to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time in half-a-century. Gutierrez, a Cuban-born former Kellogg CEO who worked in the administration of President George W. Bush, is now a consultant at the Albright Stonebridge Group.

Here’s his Q&A with TIME, lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

How much flexibility will businesses have if Congress doesn’t actually act to lift the embargo?

How much flexibility there will be for U.S. businesses will depend on how much flexibility the Cuban regime gives to U.S. businesses. That’s the aspect of this that has brought down these agreements. At the end of day, ... Read More

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