Posts Tagged ‘Raul Castro’

Texans visiting Cuba say they see little change in trade

| May 4th, 2015 | No Comments »
Dallas News

By Alfredo Corchado

HAVANA — At a restaurant in Old Havana, Ben Scholz waited anxiously for his plate of lobster, rice and beans, trying to choose the right words to describe the takeaway from his first visit to the communist-run island.

He and 12 other Texans had just spent two long days meeting with Cuban bureaucrats and visiting a farm and a port undergoing a massive expansion. It was the first trip to Cuba for a Texas trade group since Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro signaled a thaw in their countries’ complicated relationship. And yet Scholz, a plainspoken wheat farmer from Lavon, just east of Dallas, struggled for words.

“I wouldn’t say I’m more or less excited,” Scholz said, referring to prospects for improved trade ties. “I’m more informed.”

The Texans say they came with open minds to talk about the price of soybeans, wheat ... Read More

Inside Fidel Castro’s double life as a drug kingpin

| May 4th, 2015 | No Comments »
New York Post

For 17 years, Juan Reinaldo Sanchez served as a bodyguard to Fidel Castro. But when he became disillusioned with the Cuban dictator’s hypocrisy and tried to retire in 1994, Castro had him thrown in prison. Sanchez made 10 attempts to escape the island, finally making it to Mexico by boat, then across the Texas border in 2008. Now he reveals all in his new book, “The Double Life of Fidel Castro.” In this excerpt, Sanchez explains how he lost faith in the revolution — and “El Jefe.”

The end of 1988. A day like any other was coming to a close in Havana. In a few minutes, my life would be overturned.

Fidel had spent his afternoon reading and working in his office when he stuck his head through the door to the anteroom, where I was, to warn me that ... Read More

Cuba: China’s western toehold

| April 30th, 2015 | No Comments »
Florida Trend By Jason Garcia

When Americans think of Havana, many immediately imagine classic, American-made cars. What they should picture are modern, Chinese-made buses.

The streets of Havana are filled with them: Blue, white and red buses operated by Transtur, a Cuban government company that ferries tourists between attractions. The vehicles are all built by the Yutong Group, an industrial conglomerate based in China’s Henan province. All are stamped on the back with the Yutong logo and a short sequence of Chinese characters.

In the absence of American trade with Cuba, the Chinese have stepped into the void. China today is Cuba’s largest creditor and its second-largest trading partner after Venezuela. China sells more than $1.1 billion a year in goods to Cuba and buys more than $500 million a year, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Observatory of Economic Complexity.

Yutong itself has sold more than 5,000 buses to Cuba – for use by ... Read More

House GOP bill blocks new air flights, cruise ship travel to Cuba

| April 29th, 2015 | No Comments »
US News & World Report

By ANDREW TAYLOR

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans unveiled legislation on Tuesday to sharply curb the Obama administration’s recent moves to ease restrictions on travel to Cuba.

The provision by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American from Florida, would block new flights and cruise ship travel to Cuba. The provision was attached to a must-pass transportation spending bill that the House will consider next month.

Diaz-Balart’s move comes in response to new rules issued by the administration in January that would significantly ease travel restrictions to Cuba and permit regularly scheduled flights for the first time, the result of a rapprochement after a half century of Cold War animosity.

Diaz-Balart said that the Obama administration is skirting U.S. law, which bans tourist travel to Cuba.

“The expansion of regularly scheduled flights to Cuba is an obvious attempt to circumvent the tourism ban,” Diaz-Balart said in a ... Read More

Take Cuba off the State Sponsors of Terrorism List?

| April 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
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By George Phillips

Let us not give Castro the resources he needs to continue his regime’s 56-year reign of terror on his own people, and his continued support for terrorists and terrorist states.

To enrich and solidify that dictatorship at this time only prevents the Cuban people from being able to forge a better life through elections in a few years, now that they are finally “on the one-yard line,” when the Castro brothers, now in their eighties, could simply be left to their natural, un-bankrolled, ends. In a dictatorship such as this, only the dictators benefit.

As Sonia Alvarez Campillo was leaving Catholic Mass on July 14, 2013 with fellow members of Ladies in White, her pro-democracy organization, she was assaulted by Raul Castro’s agents.

These “security” agents broke Alvarez Campillo’s wrist as well as her husband’s ribs in their attack on her and other members of ... Read More

Florida’s Ros-Lehtinen says Republicans won’t challenge removing Cuba from terror sponsors list

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

Republican congressional leaders have admitted defeat in their effort to thwart President Barack Obama’s plan to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen met with a number of her fellow lawmakers last week to strategize way to prevent the de-listing of Cuba in a bill she planned to introduce this week, but the lawmaker was told that Congress legally can’t prevent the White House from removing Cuba from the list.

“We can’t undo it. We just got the word from the parliamentarian: It’s a no-go,” Ros-Lehtinen said, according to the Miami Herald. She added that her draft legislation already had 35 co-sponsors before the decision was made not to proceed.

The lack of action in attempting to prevent the White House from removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism has angered some opponents of normalizing ... Read More

Obama Dances Alone

| April 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

After assuring his top diplomat, John Kerry, that Cuba lately has been behaving well of late, U.S. President Barack Obama scratched the island nation off the list of countries that abet terrorism.

That was foreseeable.

Obama had already announced in Panama that his government would not seek regime change in Cuba. Havana’s presence on the list of sponsors of terrorism was part of a regime change strategy – a political dunce cap meant to malign its adversary on the long road to displacement.

Nevertheless, it was a fair description. For decades, the Castro regime worked hand-in-hand with the nastiest people on the planet, from Carlos the Jackal to the adipose royal dynasty in North Korea, as well as Libyan leader Moammar Ghaddafi and the Colombian narcoguerrillas. Obama’s clear wish is to forget such grievances and open a new chapter.

Obama will soon return ... Read More

Voices: Cubans impatient to see benefits from thaw with U.S.

| April 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »
USA TODAY

By Alan Gomez

HAVANA – When I last came to Cuba in late December, I detected a sentiment among the island’s people that I had never encountered before: optimism.

President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro had just announced their historic pact to re-establish diplomatic relations between the two countries, and every Cuban I encountered ticked off ways they felt the new opening could foster their economic well-being.

Now, four months later, I’ve run into something else: impatience.

As the two governments slowly work through their respective bureaucracies to enact sweeping changes, the impact on the daily lives of Cubans has so far been non-existent. The only segment of the population that has seen any benefit is the tourism industry, as more American business people, government officials and curious travelers have come to the island in the months since the announcement.

“At first, it was euphoria,” Ricardo Torres Pérez, an economist at the Havana-based Center for Studies ... Read More

As U.S. And Cuba Explore a Renewal Of Diplomacy, What Becomes Of Victor Gerena, Other Notorious Fugitives?

| April 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
CT Now

BY EDMUND H. MAHONY

There is probably no one with a greater interest than Victor M. Gerena in the talks underway between the U.S. and Cuba about re-establishing diplomatic relations.

In 1983, he and other members of a group of Puerto Rican nationalists — a group armed, advised and financed by the Cuban government — stole $7 million from a West Hartford armored car depot in what was then the biggest cash robbery in U.S. history.

The Cubans sneaked Gerena into Mexico City. They stashed him in a safe house, lightened the color of his hair and gave him a phony diplomatic identity. Eventually, they put him and much of the money on a plane to Havana, where Gerena disappeared into the shadowy community of murderers, bombers, robbers and hijackers Cuba has sheltered from prosecution in the U.S and other countries since the 1960s.

For decades, the ... Read More

Why Is Obama Parroting Castro Talking Points?

| April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
National Review

BY MONA CHARENTwo relatively recent photos of Barack Obama with foreign leaders reveal much about his deep-dyed leftism. The first features President Obama and democratically-elected prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of one of America’s most loyal friends. Obama looks strained. His face is stiff, and his eyes are veiled. The second is a snap of Obama at the recent Summit of the Americas in Panama. He’s seated with “President” Raul Castro, leader of a bitter enemy, who has never received a single free vote. Obama is grinning, his eyes dancing with pleasure.In contrast to the bitterness with which Obama addresses Netanyahu, he is all honey with Castro. “So I want to thank President Castro for the spirit of openness and courtesy that he has shown during our interactions . . . President Castro earlier today spoke about the significant hardships that the people of Cuba have undergone over many decades. I can say with ... Read More

Obama: Cuba No Longer Terror Sponsor, Though It Harbors Anti-U.S. Terrorists

| April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
IBD

Foreign Policy: By removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, President Obama is letting Castro get away with harboring and pampering anti-American terrorists on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List.

Earlier this week, Obama removed Cuba from the State Department’s blacklist — even though State documents Cuba’s long history of sponsoring terrorists. And even though Havana shelters and refuses to turn over American fugitives.

Obama chose not to seek their extradition from Havana in exchange for his latest gift to the communist thug. One of the terrorists sits on the FBI’s list — right alongside al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Joanne Deborah Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur, has a $1 million bounty on her after escaping from a New Jersey prison while serving a life sentence for murdering a state trooper and shooting another with two comrades.

“One trooper was wounded and the other was shot and killed execution-style at point-blank range,” the FBI ... Read More

Where Does U.S. Policy Toward Cuba Go From Here?

| April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

With this week’s perfunctory delisting of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, it is clear President Obama can’t give away the store fast enough. The apparently antiquated diplomatic notion that when engaging an adversary you use your leverage to try and exact concessions that get you closer to your objective is evidently not for him. Instead, as the Wall Street Journal put it, “Mr. Obama’s Cuban diplomacy has been one unreciprocated offering after another.”

Even worse than that, the administration now finds itself in the humiliating position where the Castro regime is placing conditions on the United States to upgrade diplomatic relations: i.e., ending the terrorism designation, returning the Guantánamo naval base, ending support for dissidents, and so on.

What we are witnessing is a truly remarkable, perhaps unprecedented, piece of statecraft. Give your adversary everything he wants and then see what happens, historical experience be damned. In his own ... Read More

President Obama’s use of farce on Cuba

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
AEI

President Obama issued a “certification” yesterday under US law that Cuba should no longer be listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. He states, in part, “the Government of Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.” Of course, Cuba has insisted for 30 years that it does not support terrorism, despite reams of evidence to the contrary, i.e. support for Colombian and Basque terror groups in addition to US cop-killers. So, yesterday, the president of the United States essentially certified his own gullibility.

Let’s just say that Obama’s White House is not a stickler for facts or the law. On March 9th, the president issued a detailed, formal declaration that the lawlessness in Venezuela “constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States. Less than a month later, White House advisor Ben Rhodes flatly contradicted the president’s declaration. A State Department official ... Read More

Obama’s Move to Drop Cuba From Terror List Sets Up Showdown With Congress

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Time

BY KARL VICK

President Obama formally moved on Tuesday to remove Cuba from the short, brutish list of states supporting terrorism. The technical finding — that Havana had not offered material support to terrorists in the previous six months — is likely to trigger the first substantial political challenge to Obama’s decision to end the half-century of U.S. efforts to isolate the regime that has ruled Cuba since 1962. By law Congress has 45 days to pass a joint resolution blocking the change, a challenge that anti-Castro lawmakers and Republican critics indicated they would take up. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen promptly declared, “This unwise decision to remove Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list illustrates that the Obama Administration is willing to concede to the demands of the Castro brothers in order to set up an embassy in Cuba.”

Indeed, if the removal stands, Havana and ... Read More

Another Gift for Castro

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

President Obama continued his so far unrequited courtship of Fidel and Raúl Castro on Tuesday by removing Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The decision, following Mr. Obama’s weekend meeting with Raúl in Panama, certifies that Cuba had provided no support for international terrorism for the past six months. The certification adds that “the Government of Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.” Well, that’s certainly reassuring.

The reality is that Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Cuba was never in doubt. The State Department review was going through the motions. Raúl has made delisting a condition of normal diplomatic ties, as well as the presidential visit to Havana that Mr. Obama covets before he leaves office in 2017.

However, that doesn’t erase such realities as last month’s request by Spain’s foreign minister that the U.S. use its opening to Havana to obtain the extradition ... Read More

Normalizing Cuba Ties Doesn’t Erase Castro’s Legacy

| April 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
IBD

Leadership: The sight of President Obama glad-handing Cuban dictator Raul Castro showed just how far American diplomacy has sunk. Far from being a Nixon-goes-to-China moment, this was a craven capitulation.

There’s a reason 10 presidents of both parties kept Cuba’s Castros on America’s bad-guys’ list for more than 50 years. Each leader understood a basic truth: Totalitarian Cuba is a sworn enemy of the U.S., a violent threat to the Western Hemisphere’s peace and prosperity and an ally of our worst enemies — including the former USSR.

Hearing an American president now apologize — as Obama did over the weekend at the Summit of the Americas — for past U.S. efforts to protect our homeland and our militarily weak neighbors from Cuba’s aggression is bizarre and disgraceful.

No move to repair ties with the Castro regime should have been made until that country agreed to real, major reforms — including the release of all ... Read More

Obama’s deceptions on Iran and Cuba

| April 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Marc A. Thiessen

Remember Jonathan Gruber, the Obamacare architect who as caught on tape boasting how the president had taken advantage of the “stupidity” of American voters to pass his health-care law?

Well it seems, Obama is applying the “Gruber Doctrine” once again — this time to foreign policy.

The Gruber Doctrine is based on the premise that, in the words of the now infamous MIT professor, “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” and that the “basic exploitation of the lack of . . . understanding of the American voter” is “really, really critical” for enacting your preferred policies.

That is precisely what Obama is doing when it comes to Iran and Cuba.

With Iran, the administration is once again relying on a “lack of transparency” to ram through its nuclear deal. Even Iran’s foreign minister dismissed the administration’s talking points describing the framework ... Read More

Summiting With Raúl

| April 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

President Obama arrived in Panama on Thursday for the 7th Summit of the Americas, where he will share the limelight and probably some public interaction with Raúl Castro. Mark it down as another legacy moment for the U.S. President, whose predecessors since 1959 have refused to legitimize the Cuban regime. So many dictators, so little time left before Jan. 20, 2017.

The meet-and-greet continues Mr. Obama’s attempt to reconcile with Cuba’s Communist regime, though the Castros are proving to be hard negotiators—like, you know, the Iranians. Mr. Obama has offered an economic lifeline and the promise of diplomatic recognition, while asking nothing in return. Raúl has responded by raising his demands.

Fidel’s little brother now says he won’t move on normalization until Mr. Obama hands over Guantanamo and takes Cuba off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Mr. Obama is waiting for a review of a State Department analysis on the terror list, but he’s ... Read More

Castro’s Trunk Monkeys

| April 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
IBD

Diplomacy: The dawn of U.S.-Cuba rapprochement has come with a dreary reminder of what we’re dealing with — as Cuban agents beat up dissidents at a hemispheric summit in Panama, just as they do back home in Havana.

Just before the grand opening of the Summit of the Americas in Panama this year, hemispheric leaders were treated to an unseemly spectacle:

Cuban agents — including a top intelligence official, according to the Capitol Hill Cubans blog — massed near a peaceful protest of dissident groups, also from Cuba, in Panama City. There, they showed how they treat dissenters back home — hurling objects, screaming “counterrevolutionary,” “mercenary” and “imperialist,” and beating the civil society participants with their fists — all to send a message.

In Havana, it’s what’s known as “an act of repudiation.” Incredibly, they got away with it. Anyplace else, they’d be charged with assault.

Perhaps that’s because this is the summit where Cuba’s ... Read More

Cuba still provides sanctuary for wanted terrorists

| April 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
USA TODAY

BY ALAN GOMEZ

MIAMI — President Obama says he will soon decide on removing Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism even as the island nation maintains ties with countries such as North Korea and continues to provide a sanctuary for militants.

Obama plans to meet Cuban President Raúl Castroat a summit of the Americas in Panama on Friday and Saturday. Obama told reporters in Jamaica on Thursday that the State Department completed its review on the issue but he has yet to receive their recommendation.

Removal from the list after 33 years would allow American banks and businesses to operate in Cuba and remove an impediment to full diplomatic relations with the United States.

To remove Cuba from the list, U.S. officials must find that Cuba has not engaged in acts of terrorism in the previous six months and has made assurances it will not do so in the future. If Obama decides to remove Cuba from the list, he ... Read More

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