Posts Tagged ‘Raul Castro’

Cuba releases American Alan Gross in prisoner swap

| December 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
From CNN

By Elise Labott

Washington (CNN) – U.S. contractor Alan Gross, held by the Cuban government since 2009, was freed Wednesday as part of a landmark deal with Cuba that paves the way for a major overhaul in U.S. policy toward the island, senior administration officials tell CNN.

President Obama is expected to announce Gross’ release at noon.

Gross’ “humanitarian” release by Cuba was accompanied by a separate spy swap, the officials said. Cuba also freed a U.S. intelligence source who has been jailed in Cuba for more than 20 years, although authorities did not identify that person for security reasons. The U.S. released three Cuban intelligence agents convicted of espionage in 2001.

President Barack Obama is also set to announce a broad range of diplomatic and regulatory measures in what officials called the most sweeping change in U.S. policy toward Cuba since the 1961 embargo was imposed.

... Read More

The Dark Side of Cuba’s Ebola Economy

| December 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Daily Beast

By James Bloodworth

The communist government’s medical missionaries win praise for the regime, but they are victims, too.

If you ask most people what Cuba is famous for they probably will name two things: rum and cigars. But if you ask leftists what Cuba is famous for they will usually say something altogether different: healthcare and education.

Despite all the government oppression and poverty and the endless speeches by el líder maximo and his sibling, the Cuban healthcare and education systems are still held up as justification for the 1959 Cuban revolution in and of themselves.

So good is the healthcare system on the island supposed to be, and such is the abundance of skilled doctors, that Cuba can even afford to export medical personnel to disease- and crisis-stricken parts of the world in a gesture of international solidarity that the capitalist West does not begin to rival.

Estimates suggest ... Read More

Most of Latin America Has Adopted Democracy. Will Cuba?

| November 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Huffington Post

By Michel Kelly-Gagnon

Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the greatest writers of our time, whose collection of novels earned him the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature.

He’s also someone with the curiosity and the intellectual courage to change his mind when faced with evidence that contradicts his beliefs, as detailed in a new trilingual booklet entitled My Intellectual Journey: From Marxism to Liberalism that has just been released in bookstores across the province of Quebec.

This booklet is based on a very moving and fascinating talk Mr. Vargas Llosa gave in Montreal last year at an MEI gala event, in which he explained how he came to be an admirer at one time of Fidel Castro’s Cuban experiment, as were many Latin American and other intellectuals of his generation. Understandably, though, his enthusiasm began to wane somewhat when he learned of the concentration camps to which were sent a mix of dissidents, common criminals, and ... Read More

Cuba’s Slave Trade in Doctors

| November 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY

Western cultures don’t approve of human trafficking, which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited.” Yet it’s hard to find any journalist, politician, development bureaucrat or labor activist anywhere in the world who has so much as batted an eye at the extensive human-trafficking racket now being run out of Havana. This is worth more attention as Cuban doctors are being celebrated for their work in Africa during the Ebola crisis.

Cuba is winning accolades for its international “doctor diplomacy,” in which it sends temporary medical professionals abroad—ostensibly to help poor countries battle disease and improve health care. But the doctors are not a gift from Cuba. Havana is paid for its medical missions by either the host country, in the case of Venezuela, or by donor countries that send funds to the World Health ... Read More

Brazil prosecutor blasts ‘More Doctors’ program

| November 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

SAO PAULO — A federal prosecutors’ office has alleged irregularities in the way Brazil pays Cuban doctors participating in a program set up to provide health care in remote areas, and is urging the country to pay the physicians directly rather than through their government.

In a statement issued late Monday, prosecutor Luciana Loureiro Oliveira blasted as “frankly illegal” an agreement among the Cuban and Brazilian governments and the World Health Organization. Under the setup, the program’s Cuban doctors are paid about a fourth of what Brazil gives the Cuban government through the World Health Organization for their services.

While Brazil pays about $4,000 per month for each of the around 11,000 Cuban doctors in the program, Oliveira said it found a contract in which at least one of those doctors was getting only $1,000 a month.

The statement urged Brazil to pay the Cubans directly, instead of going through the WHO and ... Read More

Las Naciones ‘Sumergidas’ de Latinoamérica

| November 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
Folha de Sao Paulo

Líderes políticos y diplomáticos de América Latina y el Caribe saben más sobre Cuba y Venezuela que incluso los observadores más astutos en Washington. Por lo tanto, deberían saber lo que le conviene más a su región ¿no?

Entonces, ¿por qué el Grupo de América Latina y el Caribe en la ONU le dio su apoyo a Venezuela para ser el próximo representante de la región ante el Consejo de Seguridad? Y, ¿por qué están determinados en invitar a el déspota cubano Raúl Castro a la Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá en la primavera?; haciendo caso omiso de las objeciones por parte de sus socios comerciales más importantes, como Estados Unidos y Canadá.

Para muchas generaciones de latinoamericanos, Cuba fue el hogar de algunas de las mejores editoriales de lengua española en el mundo, cientos de periódicos y estaciones de radio de calidad, derechos laborales progresistas, altos niveles de alfabetización y ... Read More

Latin America’s ‘submerging nations’

| November 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
Folha de Sao Paulo

The political leaders and diplomats of Latin America and the Caribbean know more about Cuba and Venezuela than even the keenest observers in Washington. So, they should know better, right?

Then why did the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean at the UN designate Venezuela to take the region’s non-permanent Security Council seat?

And, why are they determined to invite Cuban despot Raúl Castro to the Summit of the Americas in Panama next spring, ignoring the objections of the leaders of the consequential trade partners in the United States and Canada?

For generations of Latin Americans, Cuba was home to some of the world’s best Spanish-language publishing houses, hundreds of quality newspapers and radio stations, progressive labor rights, the region’s highest rates of literacy and nutrition, and a robust middle class.

Then came the Castro revolution. Although some may have been caught up ... Read More

Cuba seeks over $8 billion in foreign investment

| November 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN and ANDREA RODRIGUEZ

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba asked international companies on Monday to invest more than $8 billion in the island as it attempts to kick-start a centrally planned economy starved for cash and hamstrung by inefficiency.

Foreign Commerce Minister Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz announced a list of 246 potential projects that would cost $8.7 billion to build, from a pig farm to an auto plant. The menu of possible investments is a key step in a push for foreign capital that includes the relaxation of investment restrictions and the creation of a special trade zone around a new deep-water port west of Havana.

“Cuba is pushing strongly to take advantage of the benefits associated with foreign investment to stimulate development,” Malmierca said.

Despite the push, foreigners at Havana’s International Fair, the country’s main economic promotional event, described Cuba as a place ... Read More

Cuba hasn’t earned embargo’s end

| October 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

In October of 1960, the United States imposed an embargo on exports to Cuba covering all commodities except medical supplies and certain food products. That was the beginning of a trade embargo that still endures and still inspires heated debate.

The anniversary of the embargo, plus this week’s upcoming vote in the United Nations condemning it — which the United States will lose, as usual — have prompted calls for a reassessment. Dropping the embargo altogether would require action by Congress. Meanwhile, anti-embargo advocates say, there’s a lot the president can do to soften or minimize its effects and open the door to restoring full ties with Cuba.

We disagree. Such a move would be premature and utterly lacking in justification at this time.

Granted, Raúl Castro has loosened the reins on the tightly controlled economy to permit more individual businesses. Some citizens can own property, and new rules are designed to encourage ... Read More

Venezuelan victory is bad news for Washington

| October 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Star

By Oakland Ross

This month’s election of socialist Venezuela to a two-year term on the UN Security Council is one more sign of dwindling U.S. influence in Latin America, a part of the world once regarded as Washington’s “backyard,” according to some experts on the region.

“Latin America has become a dead star (for Washington),” said Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a somewhat left-tilting think tank based in Washington. “It is simply not in the administration’s workbook.”

In the past — most recently in 2006 — the U.S. government has resorted to determined diplomatic arm-twisting to prevent Venezuela from joining the UN’s powerful inner sanctum.

This time, Washington mounted only a muted opposition, but even that campaign was roundly ignored by UN member states on Oct. 16 when 181 of 193 countries voted to vault Venezuela into a two-year term as one of the Security Council’s 10 non-permanent members.

One ballot ... Read More

No change by Castro, no change in trade embargo

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

BY JAIME SUCHLICKI

There’s an eagerness among many in this country to begin a process of normalizing relations with Cuba. The belief persists that economic considerations could influence Raúl Castro’s policy decisions and that Cuba’s difficult economic situation will force Cuba’s leader to move toward a market economy and closer ties to the United States.

Yes, despite economic difficulties, Castro does not seem ready to provide meaningful and irreversible concessions for a U.S.-Cuba normalization. He may release and exile some political prisoners. He may offer limited economic changes to tranquilize the Cuban population, but not major structural reforms that would open the Cuban economy. Cuba is not moving to a market economy. In Cuba, political considerations dictate economic decisions.

Raúl’s legitimacy is based on his closeness to Fidel Castro’s policies of economic centralization, control and opposition to U.S. policies. Raúl cannot reject Fidel’s legacy and move closer ... Read More

Cuba should not be rewarded for denying freedom to its people

| October 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By the Editorial Board

THE OTHER day, Fidel Castro wrote an opinion column for Cuba’s state-run newspaper, Granma, as he has done periodically from retirement. He lavished praise on an editorial in the New York Times that called for an end to the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. But Mr. Castro had one complaint: The Times mentioned the harassment of dissidents and the still-unexplained death of a leading exponent of democracy, Oswaldo Payá, and a younger activist, Harold Cepero, in a car wreck two years ago.

The assertion that Cuba’s authoritarian government had yet to explain the deaths was “slanderous and [a] cheap accusation,” Mr. Castro sputtered.

So why has Cuba done nothing to dispel the fog of suspicion that still lingers over the deaths? If the charge is slanderous, then it is long past time for Mr. Castro to order a thorough investigation of what happened on an isolated Cuban road ... Read More

Carromero llega a Miami para demostrar cómo Cuba manipuló la muerte de Payá

| October 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

El dirigente de Nuevas Generaciones del Partido Popular de Madrid, Ángel Carromero, viajó el jueves a Miami para, entre otras cosas, reunirse con congresistas y senadores de Estados Unidos que apoyarán su intento de demostrar que el Gobierno cubano manipuló las pruebas del accidente en el que murieron Oswaldo Payá y Harold Cepero.

Carromero, que actualmente cumple condena en España por un delito de homicidio —conducía el vehículo en el que viajaban los disidentes cubanos fallecidos—, disfruta del tercer grado desde el 18 de febrero de 2013 aunque con seguimiento por medios telemáticos, pero ha conseguido un permiso para viajar fuera del país durante una semana.

Según ha explicado Carromero en una entrevista, hasta el 16 de octubre tiene previsto reunirse en Miami con la familia de Payá, con distintas organizaciones de derechos humanos y con los políticos estadounidenses, además de promocionar en el país su libro “Muerte bajo sospecha”.

Carromero se presentará ... Read More

US Official Downplays Cuba’s Invitation to Summit

| October 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

By Kathia Martinez

A senior State Department official said Wednesday that the U.S. is prepared to welcome Cuba for the first time to a region-wide summit but wants heads of state to focus attention on the communist government’s human rights record.

At the urging of Latin American leaders, host country Panama plans to invite Cuban President Raul Castro to the Summit of the Americas in April. Cuba was excluded from six previous summits because Washington said it didn’t meet the region’s standards for democracy and U.S. lawmakers, led by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, are urging Panama to reconsider its invitation this time around.

The deputy assistant secretary of state for Latin America, John Feeley, played down the significance of Cuba’s likely participation. Speaking to journalists in Spanish during a stop in Panama on Wednesday, Feeley said that “it’s not so important the guests at the table but the meal that’s served.”

Ecuadorean ... Read More

Summit missing a strong agenda

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY DAN RESTREPO

With the ink not yet dry on the invitations, the April 2015 Summit of the Americas is perilously close to failure.

Failure rooted in the simple fact that a summit must be about more than its invite list.

And to date, summit host Panama and leaders across the Americas have done little to prepare other than obsessing about inviting Cuba and waiting to see how Washington responds.

That is not the basis for a mature, modern relationship, and it can’t make for anything but a missed opportunity in Panama.

This is particularly true when one considers the enormous shared opportunities and challenges that stand before the hemisphere and President Obama’s commitment to working as a good partner in the Americas.

From tackling the plague of violence in the Americas; to making good on energy and climate cooperation championed by President Obama at the ... Read More

Menendez: Cuba attendance undermines Summit of Americas

| October 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Hill

By Ramsey Cox

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) blasted Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela for saying he’ll invite Cuba to the 2015 Summit of the Americas.

Menendez wrote a letter to Varela on Wednesday to express his “dismay” over Varela’s intent to invite Cuba to the summit in April.

“Cuba’s participation would undermine the spirit and authority of the Summit of the Americas,” Menendez wrote. “The Government of Cuba remains this hemisphere’s must enduring dictatorship, having deprived the people of Cuba of democratic rule for more than a half century.

“The Government of Cuba fails to meet even the most minimal standard of democratic governance required for its participation at the Summit of the Americas.”

Menendez said the Cuban government denies its citizens “their most fundamental political and human rights” by criminalizing free expression and dissent. He said one purpose of the summit is to reaffirm the principles in the Charter of the United Nations, which ... Read More

U.S. must raise stakes to get hostage Alan Gross returned by Cuba

| October 1st, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Frank Calzon

Confronted with the barbaric beheadings of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by the terrorists of the Islamic State, President Obama has rightly changed course and announced a new strategy.

After six lackluster and bewildering years, the president would do well to reappraise his strategy for dealing with Cuba and North Korea, as well. Cuba is still holding hostage a USAID contractor. Alan Gross is ill and has lost 100 pounds in harsh Cuban prisons.

Havana wants “to exchange” Gross for release of Cuban spies in U.S. prisons who have been convicted of “conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, destruction of aircraft, and murder.” They not only infiltrated Florida military bases, but also set up the killing of four Miami men, members of Brothers to the Rescue, who were flying unarmed civilian aircraft over the Florida Straits to spot fleeing Cubans aboard rafts in need of help.

Raúl Castro, now president of ... Read More

U.S. reaffirms opposition to Cuba attending Americas Summit

| September 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

NEW YORK –  The United States reaffirmed Friday its opposition to Cuba’s participation in the Americas Summit, on grounds that only “democratic” countries should attend, but did not specify whether it would skip the regional conference if Panama goes forward with its intention to invite the Cuban government.

The U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roberta Jacobson, made the U.S. position known the day after Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said at the United Nations that he is making an effort to have all the region’s heads of state attend the 2015 Americas Summit to be held in his country.

Panama is the host country of the summit, Jacobson said at a press conference in New York, and as such it will decide who to invite.

She did not specify whether the United States would refuse to attend in case Cuba is there, because that is still a hypothetical situation.

But ... Read More

Will Latin American leaders give Obama an ‘earful’ on Cuba at Americas summit?

| September 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Nick Miroff

For the United States, the last Summit of the Americas was a fairly regrettable experience.

That 2012 event is probably best remembered for the prostitution scandal that embarrassed the Secret Service, its agents’ reputation for steely discipline wilted by the tropical heat of host city Cartagena, Colombia.

Things didn’t go much better for President Obama inside the conference hall. The region’s heads of state dog-piled on Washington over its Cuba policies, saying there should be no further meetings if the United States insisted on excluding Havana.

With the next summit scheduled for April 2015 in Panama, the Cuba issue is once more giving the administration some sweats.

Earlier this month, Panama’s foreign minister flew to Havana to personally invite Cuban leader Raul Castro to participate, even though the island was kicked out of the Organization of American States (OAS), which sponsors the events, in 1962.

Panama’s new president, Juan Carlos Varela, said at ... Read More

Cuba hands down 15-year sentence to Canadian executive

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

A court in Cuba has sentenced the president of a Canadian transport company to 15 years in jail for bribery.

Cy Tokmakjian, 74, was detained in Cuba in 2011 as part an anti-corruption operation. He denies the charges.

The Tokmakjian Group said the court had seized its assets in Cuba, worth about $100m (£62m).

The company said the ruling was a worrying development for potential investors on the Communist-run island.

“Lack of due process doesn’t begin to describe the travesty of justice that is being suffered by foreign businessmen in Cuba,” the company said in a statement.

Two other executives from the Tokmakjian Group – fellow Canadian citizens Claudio Vetere and Marco Puche – were sentenced to eight and 12 years in prison.

The Ontario-based company sold transportation, mining and construction equipment to Cuba for more than 20 years.

There has been no comment on the case from the Cuban authorities.

Claims

Its ... Read More

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