Posts Tagged ‘Raul Castro’

El poder de un cártel de la droga en Venezuela

| May 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

Por Jackson Diehl

[Traducción IASW]

Venezuela sufre de la inflación más alta del mundo, es el segundo país con más homicidios y tiene una escasez paralizante de alimentos, medicinas y bienes de consumo básico. Su gobierno autoritario tiene preso a 70 políticos, entre ellos al alcalde de Caracas y al líder de la oposición Leopoldo López. A Venezuela también se le acusa de violaciones a los derechos humanos, de tortura, de detenciones ilegales y de represión contra los medios de comunicación independientes.

Todo esto es bien conocido y finalmente está comenzando a ganar un poco de atención por parte de líderes latinoamericanos que durante años hicieron todo lo posible para apaciguar o ignorar a Hugo Chávez y a su “Revolución Bolivariana”. Lo que se entiende menos es el factor que hará mucho más difícil que se implementen cambios políticos o económicos: El régimen de Chávez, dirigido desde su muerte por Nicolás Maduro, no ... Read More

U.S. willing to change pro-democracy programs in Cuba

| May 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY LESLEY WROUGHTON

The United States on Tuesday indicated its willingness to change pro-democracy programs which it organizes in Cuba and which are condemned by Havana, removing one of the biggest impediments to restoring diplomatic ties.

A senior State Department official, speaking to reporters before talks with Cuban representatives on Thursday, said the sides had narrowed differences over reopening embassies since an agreement was reached in December to renew diplomatic relations.

The official said another obstacle had been removed after Cuba found a U.S. bank that would handle the accounts of a restored Cuban embassy in Washington. The official declined to name the bank.

M&T Bank Corp canceled its services with Cuba’s Interests Section in Washington in 2013 and Havana blamed the move on U.S. sanctions.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the democracy programs “have changed over time, and they will continue to change over time to reflect a reality, whether ... Read More

Cuba’s Currency Crisis

| May 19th, 2015 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Patrick Symmes

The biggest change to the island’s economy is the way people will pay for stuff The currency crisis starts about 75 feet into Cuba. I land in the late afternoon and, after clearing customs, step into the busy arrivals hall of Havana’s airport looking for help. I ask a woman in a grey, military-like uniform where I can change money. “Follow me,” she says. But she doesn’t turn left, toward the airport’s exchange kiosk. Called cadecas, these government-run currency shops are the only legal way, along with banks, to swap your foreign money for Cuba’s tourist tender, the CUC. Instead, my guide turns right and only comes clean when we reach a quiet area at the top of an escalator. “The official rate is 87 for a hundred,” she whispers, meaning CUCs to dollars. “I’m giving you 90. So it’s a good deal for you.”

I want to convert ... Read More

Susan Kaufman Purcell: The New Normal in Latin America

| May 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
Latin American Herald Tribune

By Susan Kaufman Purcell

At the recent Summit of the Americas in Panama, the topic that received the most attention was the U.S. decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. This allowed the historic handshake and the official talks between Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro that ended half a century of diplomatic isolation.

Various polls have shown, however, that that the diplomatic problems between the United States and Cuba have not been a major concern of Latin Americans. Why then were the Latins so enthusiastic about this particular change in U.S. policy toward the region?

The answer was not that normalization would bring an end to the Castro dictatorship, since Latin America has not cared whether Cuba remained a dictatorship. Nor were Latin American governments preoccupied that the inflow of dollars to Cuba following the normalization of relations would mainly benefit Cuba’s unelected and wealthy rulers, especially the military, which controls the ... Read More

Frustration with Latin America’s left on the rise as leaders hit by economic slowdown, scandal

| May 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
Star Tribune

By JOSHUA GOODMAN

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s socialist government is struggling to put food on the shelves amid runaway inflation. Brazil’s president is facing calls for impeachment. And even Cuba’s communist government, an iconic touchstone for generations of leftists, is embracing closer ties with the U.S.

Whether it’s because of corruption scandals or stagnant growth, the popularity of the crop of leftist Latin American governments that have been running the region since the start of the millennium appears to be waning. Voters that embraced what became known as the pink tide that swept away the pro-Washington, free-market policies dominant in the 1990s are increasingly tuning hostile against the populist firebrands they once rallied behind.

Across the region, polling numbers are tanking and street protests are on the rise.

Triggering the growing disenchantment are some serious economic headwinds. Most leaders came into power just as China’s economy was ... Read More

“Tremendous Yearning for Change” in Cuba

| May 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
WJCT

By MELISSA ROSS

As the U.S. and Cuba edge closer to an agreement to restore full diplomatic ties, a retired State Department official who served as the senior diplomat in Cuba says Florida is well-positioned to take advantage of the historic changes.

“There is this tremendous yearning in Cuba for changes to happen to allow people to have more opportunities,” says John Caulfield, who served as Chief of Mission of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana from 2011-2014.

Now retired, Caulfield lives in Jacksonville. During a foreign service career that spanned decades, he held posts across Latin America. Caulfield is watching closely and advising business delegations from the Sunshine State who are planning outreach in the coming months to the Communist island nation.

“For several years now, U.S. citizens have been able to do business in Cuba with the sale of agricultural commodities, telecommunications equipment and services, and in pharmaceuticals. Now though, trade is ... Read More

Cuba’s Twisted Definition Of Terrorism

| May 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
Forbes

By Alejandro Chafuen

The communists celebrated after President Obama announced his decision to remove Cuba from the list of countries that support terrorism. Josefina Vidal, head of the North American section of the Cuban Foreign Ministry and Havana’s leader of the current negotiations with the United States, praised the “just decision” and stated that “Cuba condemns, rather than supports, terrorism.”

Cubans have a talent to twist the meaning of words. They label Carlos Alberto Montaner, the noted writer and freedom champion, as a terrorist for his student activism—confronting the communists at age 17. The same Cubans honor the FARC, a Colombian terrorist military organization as the “Colombian People’s Army.” For General Raul Castro’s regime speaking and writing in favor of the free society is terrorism. Supporting a group who kills soldiers of a democratic Colombia is combatting terrorism.

Nevertheless, one can make a case that to accomplish its strategic goals Cuba is spending ... Read More

In Cuba the transformation of the economy needs to happen much faster

| May 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Economist

It has been five months since Cuba and the United States announced that they would end their long cold war, but Cuba’s president, Raúl Castro, is still basking in the afterglow. On his way home from Russia this week he stopped off at the Vatican to see the pope, and said he might return to the Catholic faith. Later François Hollande paid the first-ever visit to Cuba by a French president; he was granted an audience with Fidel Castro, Raúl’s ailing brother, who led the revolution in 1959 and ruled until 2008.

But beneath the bonhomie lies unease. Cuba’s creaky revolutionaries spent half a century blaming the American embargo for all the island’s woes. Now they resist American capitalism for fear of being overrun. The result for most ordinary Cubans is not too much change but too little (see article). The island is poorer than many of its ... Read More

Picturesque, but doing poorly

| May 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Economist

By day grey-haired Americans trundle through the streets of Havana in pink 1957 Chevy convertibles, klaxons blaring. By night they recline over rum and cigars, tipping generously, listening to hotel salsa and reminiscing about the cold war. Many of the new American visitors to Cuba, whose numbers have surged since a diplomatic detente in December, are old enough to remember life before the internet and relish a few days in one of the world’s last Facebook-unfriendly bastions. What tourists find quaint seems stifling to many Cubans themselves.

For a lucky minority life has improved since “D17” (December 17th), the day Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raúl Castro, announced that they would seek to end five decades of hostility. Mr Obama’s decision to relax some restrictions on American visitors is expected to push tourism to Cuba up by 17% this year, bolstering foreign exchange by around $500m, or ... Read More

Springtime for Dictators

| May 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

BY DANIEL HENNINGER

Not everyone gets an hour-long audience with the pope, as Raúl Castro did this past Sunday at the Vatican. But Raúl Castro isn’t everyone. Raúl is the president of Cuba and the heir to his brother’s half-century-old Communist dictatorship. And right now, Raúl is hot.

Raúl Castro is taking meetings with everyone from President Barack Obama in Panama last month to Pope Francis in Rome last weekend. Then he returned to Havana for a meeting with President François Hollande of France, who flew in to see him and Fidel. How good can it get?

“President” Castro is in some sense an honorific title. When Raúl ran for president of Cuba for the first time in 2008, he was the only candidate. And while the Communist Party isn’t the only party in Cuba, the others can’t campaign, and political speech is forbidden. One might argue that the Castros’ Cuba is the model for how Vladimir Putinhas reset ... Read More

How Obama Became the Castros’ New Patron

| May 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
National Review

BY JAMES KIRCHICKHavana — I’ve visited more than my fair share of dictatorships, but Cuba is the only one where travelers at the airport must pass through a metal detector upon entering, in addition to leaving, the country. Immediately after clearing customs at José Marti International Airport, visitors line up for a security check. Anyone found carrying contraband — counterrevolutionary books, say, or a spare laptop that might be given to a Cuban citizen — could find himself susceptible to deportation.Contrary to popular conception, traveling to Cuba as an American was not difficult before President Barack Obama’s announcement last December of “the most significant changes in our policy in more than 50 years.” All anyone had to do was transit through a third country and not disclose his visit to Cuba upon reentering through U.S. customs. It was the aura of the embargo that dissuaded Americans. Moreover, there have long ... Read More

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 | 1 Comment »
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

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