Posts Tagged ‘Raul Castro’

Letter from Cuba: To Embargo or Not

| April 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
World Affairs

By Michael J. Totten

Aside from the Arab boycott against Israel, American sanctions against Cuba have lasted longer than any other embargo in the modern era.

The sanctions were imposed in stages in the early 1960s after Fidel Castro began economic warfare against the United States by nationalizing private US property on the island. Cuban communism survived the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, so in 1993 the purpose of the embargo was modified by the Cuban Democracy Act, stating that it will not be lifted unless and until the government in Havana respects the “internationally accepted standards of human rights” and “democratic values.”

For years now, the embargo has appeared to me as outdated as it has been ineffective. The Chinese government, while less repressive nowadays than Cuba’s, likewise defies internationally accepted standards of human rights, yet it’s one of America’s biggest trading partners. And the embargo ... Read More

Why The United States Has Done Nothing About Venezuela

| April 11th, 2014 | 3 Comments »
Business Insider


Forty-one people are dead in Venezuela, political leaders are thrown in jail for leading demonstrators through road-blocked streets, food shortages worsen, and inflation continues to rise. Yet the regional power to the north, The United States, says little and does less.

There’s a reason for this, and Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, outed it in an interview with The Guardian this month. He said:

“Is 100 years of intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean not enough: against Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chile, Grenada, Brazil? Is the coup attempt against President Chávez by the Bush administration not enough? Why does the US have 2,000 military bases in the world? To dominate it. I have told President Obama: we are not your backyard anymore.”

The United States is led by devils, according to Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez. It is trying to overthrow a Bolivarian revolution hundreds of years in the making. The ideology of the ... Read More

USAID Defends ‘Cuban Twitter’ Program

| April 7th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
The Washington Free Beacon

Former and current U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) officials are defending the agency’s controversial social media program in Cuba as a legitimate tool for promoting freedom of expression in the communist country.

The Associated Press reported last week that USAID oversaw the creation of a “Cuban Twitter” known as ZunZuneo—slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet.

The program was designed to facilitate “non-controversial” conversations before eventually organizing “smart mobs” against the government, according to documents quoted by the Associated Press.

The social media platform gained more than 40,000 subscribers between 2010 and 2012 before running out of funding.

The report raised an outcry from some lawmakers who said they were not briefed on the social networking program.

However, both former and current USAID officials say the program was not covert. Lawmakers had the opportunity to receive briefings on the program, which was reviewed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Jose Cardenas, former USAID acting assistant administrator for Latin ... Read More

Ignoring our Venezuelan Friends of Freedom

| March 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
Joe Kauffman

By Joe Kaufman

It can be argued that, in 2009, had President Barack Obama aided the Iranians demonstrating against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs, there would be no need for talk of the possibility of a nuclear armed Iran today. Iran’s leaders had dedicated much of their existence to hatred of America, referring to the U.S. as “Satan” and supporting anti-U.S. terror. But instead of assisting those calling for regime change, Obama turned his back on the protesters and ignored their pleas.

This was not the case in other parts of the Middle East, where Obama announced his full support to rebels looking to overthrow their respective governments – in Egypt, Libya and Syria. Each of these revolutions, though, were led by Islamists, who unlike the overtly pro-U.S. Iranian demonstrators, have much enmity for the United States and her allies.

Now, in a reprise of his attitude toward Iran, President Obama has chosen ... Read More

BERMAN: Russia pivots toward Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua

| March 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times


With all eyes on Ukraine, where Russia’s neo-imperial efforts have raised the specter of a new Cold War between Moscow and the West, another alarming facet of the Kremlin’s contemporary foreign policy has gone largely unnoticed; namely, its growing military presence in, and strategic designs on, the Western Hemisphere.

On Feb. 26, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu formally announced his government’s plan to expand its overseas military presence. Russia, Mr. Shoigu outlined, intends to establish new military bases in eight foreign countries. The candidates include five Asian nations and three Latin American ones: Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Negotiations are underway to allow port visits to each, and to open refueling sites there for Russian long-range aircraft.

Just one day later, in a throwback to Cold War military cooperation between the Soviet Union and client state Cuba, a Russian warship docked in Havana. As of yet, neither Moscow nor Havana has issued a formal explanation as to why the Viktor Leonov, a Meridian-class intelligence vessel, ... Read More

Southern Command: Venezuela on the brink of a catastrophe

| March 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald



WASHINGTON – The Commander of the United States Southern Command, General John Kelly, testified Thursday that it is necessary that Venezuelans resolve the internal conflict before it gets out of control and violence escalates.

“It’s a situation that obviously is falling apart in front of us,” Kelly said during in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Unless there is some kind of miracle in which the opposition or Maduro’s government pull back, this will turn into a catastrophe in terms of the economy and democracy.”

To a question from Sen. Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Kelly expressed his hope that “somehow Venezuelans resolve this themselves, without [the situation] spiraling out of control with much more violence.”

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz asked if Southern Command may limit the possible Iranian and Cuban assistance to Caracas to “use cyber tools against Venezuelan citizens,” but Kelly did not answer the question ... Read More

Cuba Transition Project: Cuba Investors Beware

| March 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Focus on Cuba

Since the 2006 announcement by the Cuban government that octogenarian Fidel Castro had transferred power to his brother Raul, there has been increasing speculation regarding political and economic changes in Cuba. More recently, some potential investors seem to have bought the narrative that the Cuban government has embarked on a process of genuine political and economic reforms. But investors beware.

In its 2014 “Index of Economic Freedom” report, the Heritage Foundation ranks Cuba as one of the world’s least free economies with a score of 28.7 compared to a world average of 60.3, and an average of 84.1 for the free economies of the world. Cuba’s economic milieu continues to deteriorate in terms of most of the factors considered in the Heritage Foundation methodology such as trade freedom, fiscal freedom, monetary freedom, and particularly freedom from corruption.

One implication for enterprises seeking to do business with Cuba is that this legacy manifests ... Read More

Country struggling with Chávez’s legacy

| March 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


Thousands of red-shirted supporters and heavily armed soldiers marched in unison Wednesday to kick off 10 days of commemorations to mark the anniversary of President Hugo Chávez’s death. But just beneath the fanfare and choreography were the simmering tensions that El Comandante’s 14-year rule left behind.

As memorial fireworks burst over the city, throngs of protesters threw stones at police in eastern Caracas and President Nicolás Maduro admitted that he was “battling” to preserve the legacy of his mentor and predecessor who succumbed to cancer a year ago.

During a graveside speech that was part memorial, part saber-rattling, Maduro announced the country was breaking diplomatic ties with Panama over an alleged “conspiracy” and said authorities had thwarted plans to blow up bridges and tunnels.

Maduro provided few details, but he has often accused foreign countries, including the United States, of being behind a plot to topple him and routinely calls protesters “fascists” and ... Read More

A Miami Congressman Adamantly Defends Isolating Cuba

| March 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times


As more Cuban-Americans find ways to engage with Cuba — through travel, helping families with new businesses, and now business training — they have increasingly come into conflict with Cuban-American lawmakers who insist that isolation, through the United States trade embargo, is the best and only acceptable approach when dealing with Cuba.

Representative Mario Díaz-Balart, the Republican congressman from Miami, has been a leader among the pro-embargo constituency for years, serving in Congress since 2003. His aunt, Mirta, was Fidel Castro’s first wife, leading many to argue that the divide between Cuba and the United States over the embargo is, at its roots, a family dispute. But Mr. Díaz-Balart argues that his position is steeped in principle, and that despite the recent changes in Cuba — allowing for more private enterprise and travel — American policy should remain focused on politics ... Read More

La OEA ausente en Venezuela

| March 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
The American

La Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) se mantiene inerte en Venezuela, y la inestabilidad política, la crisis económica y la violencia del gobierno contra los manifestantes estudiantiles son hechos que están apunto de colapsar al país sudamericano. Desde hace años la OEA fue secuestrada por la petro-diplomacia de Venezuela y ha sido atada y amordazada.

El “consejo permanente”, compuesto por los embajadores de la región, tenía previsto reunirse la semana pasada para revisar los eventos en Venezuela a solicitud del presidente de Panamá, Ricardo Martinelli. La reunión fue abruptamente “pospuesta” después de que el presidente de la Republica Dominicana, Danilo Medina,  le pidiera a su representante ante la OEA, quien preside el consejo permanente, que no regresara a Washington para postergar la reunión. Medina siguió las instrucciones de Venezuela. El embajador dominicano regresó a Washington ayer y convocará al consejo con la venia del gobierno venezolano.

Los estados miembros de la OEA ... Read More

The Roots of Venezuela’s Disorder

| March 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal


On Wednesday, as Venezuelan strongman Nicólas Maduro was promising more repression to crush relentless student protests, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told reporters that Moscow plans to put military bases in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. A few days later a Russian spy ship arrived in Havana harbor unannounced.

The usual Cold War suspects are back. More accurately, they never left. Former KGB officer Vladimir Putin is warning President Obama that Russia can make trouble in the Americas if the U.S. insists on solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Meanwhile, Latin America’s aging Marxists are lining up behind Mr. Maduro, successor to the late Hugo Chávez.

Russia and Cuba are finally reaping the benefits of the revolution they have long sown in Latin America. Any chance of defeating them requires setting the record straight about how Venezuela got so poor.

Venezuelan politicians sold left-wing populism like snake oil for decades before Chávez came to power in ... Read More

Lining a Dictator’s Pockets: No good would come of lifting the embargo on Cuba

| February 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
US News & World Report


Based on a new poll it commissioned on U.S. relations with Cuba, the Atlantic Council issued a report recently calling for a “policy shift” that would end the U.S. embargo on the Castro regime. But when asked to respond to the statement that “after more than 50 years of no U.S. relations with Cuba the Castro regime remains in power,” 51 percent of those polled want to keep the current policy in place.

Nevertheless, the key issue is not whether the embargo is popular. Rather, the main question is, would dropping the embargo better serve the interests of the United States? The answer to this question remains a strong “no,” because ending the embargo would be bad business, strengthen an oppressive government and abandon American values.

The U.S. should not normalize trade with the Castro regime for the plain and simple reasons that his ventures lose money and his government is ... Read More

The Venezuelan Crisis: Implications for Cuba; Options for the U.S.

| February 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
University of Miami

If you were not able to attend the panel discussion, “The Venezuelan Crisis: Implications for Cuba; Options for the U.S.,” held at the Institute for Cuban & Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami, on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 you can now view the video.

Jaime Suchlicki

Dr. Brian Latell

Pedro Roig

Jose Azel

Dr. Susan Kaufman Purcell


Read More

Cuban Strategy in Venezuela

| February 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
University of Miami


Last Sunday Raul Castro set out the essence of Cuban policy toward the increasingly volatile situation in Venezuela. Speaking to the Cuban labor confederation he described it as “a complex crisis,” indicating considerable alarm in Havana about how Cuba’s vital economic and security interests might be affected.

Memories of the outcomes of three earlier crises in Caribbean and Latin American countries tightly allied with Cuba must be worrying Raul and others in the leadership.

In September 1973 Salvador Allende was overthrown in Chile in a savage military coup as the Marxist upheaval that he led for three years in a partnership with Fidel Castro ended. Allende’s death in the coup was a devastating blow to Cuban prestige and a significant personal loss for Castro. Allende was wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a submachine gun Fidel had given him when he committed suicide in the presidential residence. Ten years later in ... Read More

Russian spy ship docked in Havana

| February 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
From AFP

Havana – A Russian warship was docked in Havana Wednesday, without explanation from Communist Cuba or its state media.

The Viktor Leonov CCB-175 boat, measuring 91.5 meters (300 feet) long and 14.5 meters wide, was docked at the port of Havana’s cruise ship area, near the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.

The Vishnya, or Meridian-class intelligence ship, which has a crew of around 200, went into service in the Black Sea in 1988 before it was transferred seven years later to the northern fleet, Russian media sources said.

Neither Cuban authorities nor state media have mentioned the ship’s visit, unlike on previous tours by Russian warships.

The former Soviet Union was Cuba’s sponsor state through three decades of Cold War. After a period of some distancing under former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, the countries renewed their political, economic and military cooperation.

The ship is reportedly armed with 30mm guns and anti-aircraft missiles.

Its visit ... Read More

La desmemoriada izquierda latinoamericana

| February 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Pais

La crisis de Venezuela sorprende a una izquierda desmemoriada, conceptualmente perdida, desconectada de su propia historia y normativamente a la deriva


A mediados de los setenta, buena parte de América Latina estaba bajo regímenes militares. Según decían, era para combatir a la subversión armada que buscaba tomar el poder. Para los jerarcas militares no era una guerra fría ni convencional, donde se ve los colores del enemigo enfrente de uno; esa era una guerra “sucia”. La estrategia marxista era confundirse con la población civil, había que operar en la clandestinidad como ellos. Así justificaron la represión ilegal e indiscriminada. Ocurría generalmente por las noches, para atemorizar a la población. Estaba a cargo de personas sin uniforme en vehículos sin identificación, con los que llevaban a los detenidos a centros de reclusión clandestinos. Allí algunos de ellos eran legalizados y trasladados a prisiones oficiales. Otros, la mayoría, eran ejecutados. Desaparecían, ... Read More

The Castro Caucus

| February 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
National Review


Even in liberal democracies, there are people friendly to dictators, and that is of course true in the United States. And it’s especially true when it comes to Castro (either of them, but especially Big Brother).

Who are the Castro-friendliest people in the U.S. Congress? Well, you can probably call the roll as well as I can: Charlie Rangel, José Serrano, Jim McGovern, Maxine Waters, Sam Farr, Barbara Lee. That’s on the House side. And in the Senate, the two Vermonters: Pat Leahy and Bernie Sanders. And Iowa’s Tom Harkin. And probably some others.

My apologies to those in either chamber I’ve left out.

There are alumni who deserve mention too, of course — former congressmen. First and foremost, Ron Dellums (Barbara Lee’s mentor). Well, actually, maybe Bill Delahunt should be called “first and foremost.” He was indefatigable. In addition to being Castro-friendly, he was extremely friendly to Chávez, the would-be ... Read More

Venezuela’s violence, Cuba’s ‘farce,’ and Marco Rubio’s milestone speech

| February 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


The U.S. senator from Florida had listened patiently to Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa speak favorably about his recent trip to Cuba, all the while omitting any real references to the oppression of the totalitarian government there.

To Rubio, like many Cuban exiles and their descendants, it was too much to bear.

“Let me tell you what the Cubans are really good at,” Rubio said Monday when he took to the Senate floor. “What they are really good at is repression…. They have exported repression in real time, in our hemisphere, right now.”

This wasn’t some Cold War-era fulmination about Castro’s regime.

Rubio’s speech was about current events: the protests in Venezuela, the Maduro government and the ties it has with the Castros, who repress their own people and helped inspire the suppression in Caracas.

Venezuela is becoming the new Cuba.

For 14 minutes and 16 seconds, Rubio gave the best oration of his ... Read More

The Only Way Out is Exile

| February 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
World Affairs


If Cuba needed a Berlin Wall, Fidel Castro would have built one. Fortunately for him—though not for his much-abused subjects—one of the world’s last communist regimes is surrounded on all sides by water, cruelly trapping its people. Thus Castro’s totalitarian state, Cuban exile Humberto Fontova wrote, “gave rise to psychic cripples beyond the imagining of even Orwell or Huxley: people who hate the sight of the sea.”

But the sea can’t restrain all of them. Thousands have shoved off into the water on devices as small as inner tubes, desperately seeking refuge in the United States. One in three die attempting to cross the Florida Straits, either from drowning, thirst, shark attacks, or exposure.

Until recently, possessing anything that might float could get a person thrown into prison. Things are slightly more relaxed now, so the likes of bicycle tires aren’t contraband, but Cubans still aren’t allowed to use boats. Only ... Read More

The Cuban Model versus a Burgeoning Opposition in Venezuela

| February 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Mexi Data


Much like the frustrations faced by citizens of Cuba opposing and wanting to unseat the oppressive Castro regime in their homeland, Venezuelans went much further last week in a bold and aggressive display of unity to demonstrate their desire for immediate change.

Unlike most true democracies and transparent governments, President Nicolas Maduro’s leftist regimen was quick to borrow a page out of Fidel Castro’s nearly 50 year iron-fisted repertoire of closing down the media and communications to censor violent enforcement actions from an inquiring free world.

Yet those archaic, sinister and tyrannical methods were not enough to silence thousands of youthful students and other once proud Venezuelans from demanding a full redress of their grievances.  Moreover, the Maduro administration’s suppression did not escape the social media and some news services.

Serious violence, beatings and killings were graphically demonstrated, some showing a barbaric cadre of police and other security officials retaliating in lieu ... Read More

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