Posts Tagged ‘Raul Castro’

Colombia arrests captain of arms-trafficking ship bound for Cuba

| March 4th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Guardian UK

The captain of a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship has been arrested in the Colombian port city of Cartagena, charged with arms trafficking for transporting undocumented large-caliber munitions, reportedly bound for Cuba.

The captain of the Da Dan Xia, a Chinese national identified as Wu Hong, was captured after authorities found 100 tonnes of gunpowder and 3,000 artillery shells among other munitions, an official from the Attorney General’s office told reporters.

The vessel was stopped on Saturday after authorities discovered the unregistered materials in eight shipping containers during inspection.

“Around 100 tonnes of gunpowder, 2.6m detonators, 99 projectiles and around 3,000 cannon shells were found,” the national director of the attorney general’s office, Luis González, said.

The documentation presented by the ship’s crew made no mention of the ammunition on board and instead listed the contents as chemicals and spare parts. “The documentation that the captain had in regards to the merchandise that was being transported ... Read More

For Obama, Castro Has A Ship Of Fools

| March 4th, 2015 | No Comments »
IBD

Diplomacy: As Paris Hilton whooped it up with Havana’s princelings to applaud U.S.-Cuba ties, Colombia detained a Chinese ship full of illegal weapons bound for Cuba in what may be a new violation of U.N. sanctions. Castro is playing us for fools.

Even though tourism remains illegal for Americans in Cuba, it doesn’t stop B-List celebrities from going to Havana, partying hearty, snapping and posting selfies, popping flashbulbs, swigging mojitos and buying cigars by the cartload, as Hilton’s Instagram pictures showed.

Communism-ravaged Cuba is about as poor as Ethiopia or Zimbabwe. So it wasn’t the locals partying down, but the communist elites — such as Fidel’s son, Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, with whom Hilton and model Naomi Campbell posed for selfies.

This is a preview of who will benefit from the opening to Cuba — its wealthy Communist Party elites, not ordinary folks.

But in this grotesque fantasyland of vulgar Third World dictators and equally vulgar ... Read More

Red flags in Cuba slow investment

| March 2nd, 2015 | No Comments »
USA TODAY

By Alan Gomez and Rick Jervis

MIAMI — After an initial wave of enthusiasm following President Obama’s decision to re-establish relations and expand trade with Cuba, American businesses are hitting the brakes.

Although companies such as MasterCard, American Express, Netflix and Twitter have announced plans to expand operations in Cuba, they can’t flourish on the island until two essential U.S. industries get on board: banking and telecommunications. And so far, officials in those fields are hesitant to jump into the risky Cuban market.

“Capital doesn’t like to go where there’s risk,” said Alex Sanchez, president and CEO of the Florida Bankers Association. “It’s not going to Iran, it’s not going to Iraq and it probably won’t go to Cuba for a while because of the risk.”

Ever since Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro made their historic announcement in December that they would end 50 years of estrangement, diplomats in both countries have been working to formalize ... Read More

Reality sinks in for many Cubans on eve of talks with US

| February 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
UT San Diego

By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN

HAVANA (AP) — The jubilation that greeted the announcement of U.S.-Cuban detente two months ago has faded to resignation for many Cubans who are realizing they’re at the start of a long process unlikely to ease their daily struggles anytime soon.

Dreams of U.S. products flooding Havana stores and easy visits to family members in Florida have dissipated, in part because of a coordinated campaign by Cuban state media and officials to lower expectations and remind people that the main planks of the half-century-old U.S. trade embargo remain in place.

As Cuban officials head to Washington for a second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations Friday, many working-class islanders say they no longer expect immediate changes in their lives regardless of what emerges from the negotiations.

“The great expectations that surged with the news ... Read More

Dissidents Say as Many as 200 Arrested in Cuba

| February 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

Cuban dissidents say that more than 100 anti-government activists have been arrested and they are awaiting word Monday on how many have been released.

Berta Soler, leaders of the group Ladies in White, said that 53 members of her group and 36 other dissidents were arrested Sunday during the group’s traditional march through Havana after Sunday Mass.

Elizardo Sanchez, head Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, one of the country’s largest human rights groups, said that between 150 and 200 dissidents had been arrested across the country Sunday.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson said on Twitter that the U.S. is “concerned about violent silencing of peaceful voices for change.” She meets with Cuban officials Friday for the second round of talks on re-establishing diplomatic relations.

Click here for original ... Read More

Venezuela and Cuba: Partners in repression

| February 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Editorial Board

Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro paid a visit to Havana and met with Raúl and Fidel Castro, who have been his patrons and who helped to install him in power after the death of Hugo Chávez. Mr. Maduro’s political situation is desperate: As Venezuelans suffer severe shortages of staple goods and soaring inflation, his approval rating has dropped to 22 percent — and that’s before the full impact of falling oil prices hits a country dependent on petroleum for 96 percent of its hard-currency revenue.

On his return from Havana, Mr. Maduro turned to a familiar tactic. Intelligence agents stormed the residence of the elected opposition mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, and took him away to a military prison. Mr. Maduro then delivered a three-hour rant on television in which he accused the opposition leader of plotting a coup against him with the help of the Obama administration. Needless to say, he had no evidence to support this ludicrous charge.

If this ... Read More

Self-Inflicted Misery and Tyranny among Latin America’s Left

| February 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
Mexi Data

By Jerry Brewer

It is astonishing that with so much focus and dialogue on demands for world freedom, self-expression and human rights, many tend to ignore or simply fail to do their homework on repressive dictatorial-like regimes floundering throughout Latin America and oppressing their citizens.

It was certainly no secret that the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s 14 years in office was a tired precursor to a near failed state in Venezuela today. Chavez spent his entire rule in office working to recruit and support leftist presidential candidates throughout the hemisphere, touting his Bolivarian Revolution – that is quite simply the more exhausted Cuban Revolution that remains in Venezuelan to this very day.

Chavez demolished independence in Venezuela’s institutions, seized control of the economy, militarized the government, and virtually destroyed private enterprise. Death, destruction and insufficiencies in Venezuela remain rampant.

If there was even a modicum of value to add to the history of Venezuela from ... Read More

The Truth About ‘Tourist Apartheid’ in Cuba

| February 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

By Kim-Marie Evans

Contrary to recent headlines, Cuba is not flinging open its doors for tourist travel. Although there have been recent changes in U.S. regulations, it is still technically illegal for an American to be a tourist in Cuba. In fact, during a recent art-buying trip I took to Cuba, I learned there is a term used to describe the visitor situation in the country: “tourist apartheid.” In other words, travelers still remain separate from the general population.

The purpose of my trip was to buy art, but the visit also allowed me to learn more about the lives of “real” Cubans — which is very different from what tourists see and experience. The people I interviewed whispered their answers while glancing over their shoulders. “Who could possibly be listening?” I asked.

The truth is that anyone can be listening.

I took a similar trip ... Read More

4 Cuba Experts Have Differing Views on Island’s Future

| February 12th, 2015 | No Comments »
Daily Signal-01

BY JOSH SIEGEL

MIAMI—When Sebastian Arcos steps back to evaluate President Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba, he tries to forget his own experiences with the Castro regime.

But it’s difficult for Arcos to have a clean perspective because the Cuban government’s imprints are all over his life—he spent a year in prison, and was kicked out of school, for trying to escape repression.

“My experiences have everything to do with the way I feel about it,” said Arcos, now the associate director of the Cuban Research Institute.

“I feel like I have a better grasp of the nature of the regime than the people changing the policy. They don’t know Cuba the way I do. They can look at it more objectively.”

Arcos was one of four experts on Cuba to speak at Florida International University last week at an event hosted by The Heritage Foundation. ... Read More

Obama’s gambit misunderstands Cuban reality

| February 12th, 2015 | No Comments »
AEI

Key Points

President Obama’s new push to normalize relations with Cuba neglects the Cuban dictatorship’s internal oppression, relentless hostility to US interests, and implacable opposition to change. The Obama administration has rushed to facilitate new travel and trade with Cuba, but the Castro regime controls virtually every aspect of the economy, benefits from cash remittances and tourism, and stifles the country’s potential growth. While the Obama administration struggles to justify its unilateral concessions and has yet to press for international help on Cuba, the Castro regime has rejected calls for change and is making new demands to put the administration on the defensive. For Obama to salvage his new Cuba approach, his team will have to develop and implement an actual strategy that measures up to his rhetoric without letting down American interests and ideals.

President Obama’s decision to normalize diplomatic relations with the Castro government after 54 years is certainly ... Read More

For relatives of terror victims, Cuba detente revives painful memories

| February 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
FoxNews.com

By James Rosen

Joe Connor was just a few days past his ninth birthday when the news hit on January 24, 1975: His father, Frank, a financial executive, had been killed that afternoon by a bomb blast at a lower Manhattan restaurant.

He had taken some out-of-town clients to lunch at Fraunces Tavern – the Revolutionary War-era watering hole where George Washington bade farewell to his troops – when someone who has never been identified placed a knapsack with a bomb in it just behind Frank’s chair. He died instantly in the blast, as did one of his out-of-town clients.

That day, the militant Puerto Rican nationalist group FALN issued a communique to the news wire services claiming responsibility for the attack, which killed four and injured five dozen others. The group said it chose the tavern – which was popular with Wall Street types – in order ... Read More

US-Funded News Station Wants to Bring Free Press to Cuba. But Raúl Castro Wants to Shut It Down.

| February 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
Daily Signal-01

By Josh Siegel

MIAMI—Carlos García-Pérez, who heads the U.S. government’s Office of Cuba Broadcasting, is used to his news station being a target.

The Miami headquarters of Radio and TV Martí is protected as if it is one. Located randomly off the side of an expressway, the building is guarded by a barbed-wire gate.

Signage outside confirms the news station as U.S. government property, and visitors are asked by a uniformed guard to not bring their cell phones into the building.

The federal government launched Radio Martí in 1983 and TV Martí in 1990 with the hope to combat communism by exposing Cubans to freedom and democracy, providing uncensored information from Miami to Cuba.

Since the beginning, the Castro regime, notorious suppressors of free press, has worked hard to block the station’s programs.

Today, the Cuban government sometimes successfully jams its transmissions, especially in ... Read More

So How’s That Cuba Deal Going?

| February 9th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY Less than two months after his “historic” outreach to Havana with a promise to “normalize relations,” the U.S. commander in chief is getting the back of Raúl Castro ’s hand.

On Dec. 17, President Obama floated his plan to revise a half-century-old U.S.-Cuba policy by promising engagement. “We intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people,” he said. The trouble is that as his statements in recent weeks have shown, Raúl Castro has no interest in doing things differently.

The message from Havana is that if Mr. Obama wants a Cuba legacy it will have to be on Cuba’s terms. That means he will have to go down in history as the U.S. president who prolonged the longest-running military dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere.

Days before Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs Roberta Jacobson arrived in Havana on Jan. 21 for talks, the Cuban state newspaper ... Read More

A Tally of What Cuba Owes the World

| February 6th, 2015 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

By CARLOS ALBERTO MONTANER

Cuban leader Raul Castro has presented to U.S. President Barack Obama a set of conditions to re-establish diplomatic relations. Among those conditions, Castro demands compensation for the damages caused to Cuba by the U.S. commercial embargo.

How much are the damages? According to the punctilious economists in the Cuban government, the figure is exactly $116.86 billion. I have no idea how they arrived at such a considerable, but for the purposes of this column, we will accept it as accurate.

This leads us to an inevitable question: How much have the incompetence and the interference of the Cuban revolution cost the world? After all, Cuba’s claim carries an implicit acknowledgment that there exist rights of property and lost profits, and that punitive damages should be levied against those who violate those rights or harm innocent victims.

Let me jot some hurried notes.

First, ... Read More

Diplomat: US won’t return Guantanamo to improve ties with Cuba

| February 5th, 2015 | No Comments »
FoxNews.com

The Obama administration on Wednesday ruled out handing over the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, rejecting a central demand of Cuban President Raul Castro for restoring normal relations between the two countries.

Roberta Jacobson, the top U.S. diplomat for Latin America, also said the U.S. would continue transmitting radio and television broadcasts into Cuba that are opposed by Castro’s government.

While Guantanamo and the broadcasts are irritants, Washington believes neither is likely to stand in the way of U.S. and Cuban embassies being re-established after a half-century interruption. The U.S. is hoping to clinch an agreement with Cuba on embassies in the coming months.

Jacobson’s testimony before a largely hostile House Foreign Affairs Committee came as an Associated Press-GfK poll found broad support in the United States for warmer ties with Cuba.

Forty-five percent of those surveyed supported full diplomatic relations between the ... Read More

Diplomat vows US won’t curb support for activists in Cuba despite Castro demands

| February 4th, 2015 | No Comments »
FoxNews.com

The Obama administration will not stop supporting Cuban human rights and democracy activists as part of any deal to restore embassies between the two countries, a top U.S. diplomat said Tuesday.

“I can’t imagine that we would go to the next stage of our diplomatic relationship without an agreement” to see democracy activists, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson testified during a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing.

Her response came after vigorous questioning from Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, chairing his first Senate hearing. Rubio read from an interview Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s top negotiator, gave The Associated Press in which she tied the establishment of embassies to reduced U.S. support for Cuban dissidents.

Jacobson, the highest-level American official to visit Havana in several decades, said more talks on re-establishing full diplomatic relations are planned for later this month. Besides embassies, the ... Read More

Sanctions Experts Warn Against Cuba ‘Irrational Exuberance’

| February 3rd, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By Joel Schectman

Companies shouldn’t get too excited yet about Cuba, sanctions experts say.

President Barack Obama  moved to normalize relations with Cuba after half a century last December, and began relaxing the embargo on business with the Communist state.

U.S. companies are excited about taking advantage of new openings so close to home.

But it will be years before the thaw in relations materializes into large-scale opportunities for U.S. firms, say attorneys that specialize in sanctions law. “There is a lot of what I’d call ‘irrational exuberance about Cuba right now,” said Jason Poblete, a trade attorney at Poblete Tamargo LLP.

On one hand, the relaxing of prohibitions against Cuba is a historic policy change. For the first time in decades, companies will be allowed to export some telecommunications equipment to Cuba without first seeking licenses. This includes Internet technology like cloud storage ... Read More

Cuba wants the US to stop diplomats from supporting political opposition

| February 3rd, 2015 | No Comments »
Business Insider

BY DANIEL TROTTA

Cuba warned the United States on Monday that it wants American diplomats to scale back aid for Cuban dissidents before the two countries can reopen embassies in each other’s capitals.

The long-time adversaries are negotiating the restoration of diplomatic relations as a first step toward reversing more than five decades of confrontation. Officials for both governments met in Havana in January and a second round of talks is expected to be held in Washington this month.

But Cuba’s lead negotiator said in an interview broadcast on state television that if the United States wants free movement for its diplomats in Cuba, it must stop using them to support the political opposition.

“The way those (U.S.) diplomats act should change in terms of stimulating, organizing, training, supplying and financing elements within our country that act against the interests of … the government of the ... Read More

Investing in Cuba can be a risky business

| January 30th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By FRANK CALZON

The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce holds its annual South Florida Economic Summit today. This is what businessmen should know about doing business with Cuba:

From a business perspective, commercially engaging with Havana is different than doing business in most countries. Until now the American companies that have exported hundreds of millions of dollars in products to the island have benefited from American restrictions that required a cash and carry basis for American exports to Cuba.

Those restrictions have saved U.S. taxpayers millions because Havana is well-known for not paying its bills.

In 1986, Cuba stopped paying principal and interest to the Paris Club, to whom it owed billions of dollars to governments, banks, and foreign companies. Since then, Havana has restructured some debt. Some creditors forgave part of it due to the regime’s near bankruptcy.

The Heritage Foundation 2015 Index of ... Read More

Why Castro’s demand for reparations from US could backfire

| January 30th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor

By Howard LaFranchi

WASHINGTON — Cuban President Raúl Castro had a surprise for the Obama administration when he issued a new and considerably tougher set of demands this week for reaching normalized relations with the United States.

Return of the Guantánamo Bay naval base to Cuban sovereignty was perhaps the most stop-and-take-notice condition Mr. Castro set in a speech Wednesday. But it was the brother of Fidel Castro’s demand concerning reparations that could end up stirring the bitterest pot and posing the highest obstacle to normalization.

Castro said United States payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in economic reparations for damages caused by the five-decade-old embargo, and indeed a lifting of the embargo Cuba considers a “blockade,” would also have to take place before the two adversaries can renew relations that were severed soon after the Cuban revolution of 1959.

But Castro’s reparation demands also carry a risk. That’s because ... Read More

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