Posts Tagged ‘Raul Castro’

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

Is Nicolás Maduro Latin America’s New Man at the United Nations?

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

Representatives of Latin America and the Caribbean have chosen the troubled government of Venezuela to represent them in the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) as a non-permanent member whose term begins next January. When the U.N. General Assembly elects new UNSC members in mid-October, Latin America’s nominee to debate matters of “peace and security” will be a country that is among the least peaceful and most insecure in the Americas. Although the region’s image may suffer as a result, at least President Nicolás Maduro’s regime will be conspicuous as its economic mismanagement collapses Venezuela’s oil-rich economy and as its repression intensifies in a desperate bid to hold to power.

The Security Council has five permanent members (France, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States) and 10 non-permanent members, elected to represent one of five regional groups of countries. Venezuela seeks to be one of two members representing the ... Read More

Obama’s Cuba Problem

| September 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

The last time President Obama met with his Latin American and Caribbean counterparts was not a particularly memorable affair.  The 2012 Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, was overshadowed by an embarrassing Secret Service scandal that saw members of his advance team soaking in a little bit too much of the historical city’s Caribbean nightlife.

Meanwhile, in the absence of any substantive agenda, President Obama spent most of the summit being hectored by his counterparts with the incongruous assertion that undemocratic outlier Cuba must be part of the next meeting of all the popularly elected governments in the Americas.

It was clear the president wasn’t pleased with the badgering, complaining that, “Sometimes I feel as if in some of these discussions … we’re caught in a time warp, going back to the 1950s and gunboat diplomacy.”

Fast forward two years: Preparations for the 2015 Summit are well underway ... Read More

FBI: Cuban Intelligence Aggressively Recruiting Leftist American Academics as Spies, Influence Agents

| September 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Washington Free Beacon

BY BILL GETZ

Cuba’s communist-led intelligence services are aggressively recruiting leftist American academics and university professors as spies and influence agents, according to an internal FBI report published this week.

Cuban intelligence services “have perfected the work of placing agents, that includes aggressively targeting U.S. universities under the assumption that a percentage of students will eventually move on to positions within the U.S. government that can provide access to information of use to the [Cuban intelligence service],” the five-page unclassified FBI report says. It notes that the Cubans “devote a significant amount of resources to targeting and exploiting U.S. academia.”

“Academia has been and remains a key target of foreign intelligence services, including the [Cuban intelligence service],” the report concludes.

One recruitment method used by the Cubans is to appeal to American leftists’ ideology. “For instance, someone who is allied with communist or leftist ideology may assist the ... Read More

En libertad “Popeye”, jefe de sicarios de Pablo Escobar

| August 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
marti-noticias-logo

Ejecutó 300 asesinatos y coordinó 3.000, pero por colaboración, estudios y buena conducta cumplió 22 años de 30. Testigo excepcional de la participación de los Castro en el narcotráfico.

Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez , el temible exjefe de sicarios del fallecido capo del narcotráfico Pablo Escobar recobró el martes la libertad tras permanecer encarcelado más de 22 años por cargos relacionados con homicidios, secuestros y concierto para delinquir, se informó oficialmente.

“La caravana que salió de la prisión de Cómbita (Boyacá) era la de Popeye. Ya Popeye está en libertad”, señaló a la AFP una fuente del Instituto Nacional Penitenciario y Carcelario (Inpec).

Alias Popeye, abandonó la prisión escoltado por una comitiva de varios vehículos sin que su imagen pudiera ser captada directamente por las cámaras de los medios que aguardaban su salida.

Con paradero desconocido, la caravana de vehículos estaba conformada por autos de la Defensoría del Pueblo, el ... Read More

US Sees Surge in Cuban Rafters Aiming for Florida

| August 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

One early morning this April, Dairon Morera climbed onto a raft of aluminum tanks with 22 other people, revved up a Volvo car motor and pushed off the Cuban shore, joining a never-ending stream of islanders desperate to reach the United States.

“The biggest dream a Cuban has is to leave,” said Morera, who was frustrated by government limits on his pizza business. He had no money for airplane tickets or smugglers, so decided to risk his life at sea.

Morera’s journey was so turbulent that many people vomited, but all made it alive in just 20 hours. They ran ashore in the Florida Keys, hugging each other and shouting “Libertad!”

The number of Cubans trying this perilous journey is up sharply this year, with nearly 3,000 picked up by U.S. authorities so far, double last year’s pace.

The special status Cuban migrants have thanks to U.S. efforts undermine their communist government is a ... Read More

Don’t Believe Everything You Read About the United States’ Cuba Democracy Program

| August 8th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Foreign Policy

For the second time in four months, the Associated Press has published a gross distortion of USAID’s Cuba Democracy Program that has made it the subject of unjust derision from the legions of U.S.-Cuba policy critics. The news agency evidently believes it has stumbled upon a vast, sinister U.S. conspiracy to overthrow the Castro regime, calling to mind those halcyon days of exploding cigars and poisoned wetsuits. It is nothing of the sort.

Previously, AP reported that USAID sought to foment an uprising in Cuba by introducing a rudimentary Twitter service for Cubans to utilize free of regime snooping. Now, we are told that USAID sent hapless youths from Latin America to Cuba to recruit agents to lead that national uprising.

Such assertions are ridiculous on their face. Moreover, it is distressing to see how easily people can apparently accept the notion that their government would involve itself in such lunacy.

The ... Read More

China’s Xi eyes increased investment in Cuba

| July 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

Havana (AFP) – Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting Cuba with hopes of expanding political and economic ties in the fellow communist nation.

The tour of the Americas’ only one-party communist nation is the last leg of a weeklong trip in the region that has already taken Xi to Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, as he reaches out to resource-rich countries often shunned by the United States and Europe.

The Chinese leader arrived in Havana late Monday from Caracas for the two-day official visit.

Xi aims to make his country — already Cuba’s second-largest trading partner after Venezuela and its primary source of credit — a major investor on the Caribbean island.

Coinciding with his trip, about 50 Chinese entrepreneurs traveled to Havana to explore business opportunities, attracted by foreign investment incentives and the future Mariel free trade zone outside the capital.

“We want Chinese businessmen to invest in Cuba and partner with Cuban companies,” said ... Read More

Putin’s hemispheric charm offensive

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
The China Post-01

By John J. Metzler

It’s been a momentous week for Russian President Vladimir Putin. While the major media focused on his trip to Brazil to accept the handover for the next FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in Russia as well as his participation in the Summit of the BRIC economic powers, the real story was the largely overlooked wraparound of his Latin American charm offensive. Here’s the background.

Cuba

Before flying to Brazil for the final soccer match and the FIFA handover for the 2018 World Cup, Putin first stopped in Cuba to renew the spark of the old cold war alliance between Castro’s communists and the Soviet Union. While Russia’s political system has witnessed significant change since 1991 following the formal collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba remains in a kind of tropical torpor time warp. The Castro brothers still run the island but the revolutionary zeal is long gone and replaced ... Read More

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