31 January 2007

Party Hardy-Not

Apparently there were a lot of people in Miami who didn’t like the idea of a city-sponsored party to celebrate the death of the tyrant, including the Mayor, Manny Diaz.

This from Today’s Herald:


Responding to an international media blitz and outrage from some members of the Cuban-American community, Miami city leaders Tuesday vowed to tone down a proposed large-scale, city-organized public event in the Orange Bowl when Fidel Castro dies.

I believe that the party–planning was a way to control the possible celebrations so as not tarnish the City’s already “banana republic”- like reputation. As a reader commented yesterday the party was a condescension to Cuban – Americans by hand-wringing politicos worried about tourist dollars.

The city’s prophylactic party appeared to have backfired, however:


But the very idea that Miami would mark the death of Castro with a celebratory
event prompted ample criticism -- and coverage by the 24-hour cable news networks and international press following an article in Monday's Miami Herald.


''Miami Plans Castro Death Party in Orange Bowl,'' proclaimed Fox News Channel on Monday.

''When Castro dies, Miami will party like it's 1959,'' chimed in CNN.

So, basically, by forming the planning committee for the party, the Miami politicos caused what they were trying to avoid in the first place.

Personally I don’t think it’s appropriate to attend government-sponsored political rallies. That’s crossing a line that we crossed the Florida Straights to avoid crossing in our country. But that’s me.

The Gusano says he’s going to open a bottle of Cava he has saved up and toast. Later he’ll open a bottle of rum and cry in his Cuba Libre.

No “Castropaloozas” for La Contra Revolución.

Maybe this whole episode will have a sobering effect on the Cuban population of South Florida.

Castro’s death, if it ever comes, will just be a bump on the long road toward Cuba’s freedom. No sense starting the journey drunk.




Alright, Maybe just one drink ................................

The Shadow

Seen in a video, a shadow of his former self, Fidel also hangs like a nefarious shadow over Raul and his new regime.

Raul and his cronies know that they need to make some changes since they have gone out on a limb and publicly raised the expectations that economic reforms are in the making.

The Miami Herald today reads the tea leaves under the shadow and points to Lage, the once sidelined reformer, who is expected to take on a more prominent role.

..... experts agree that Lage's heightened profile is a sign of a Cuba to come: one under Raúl, where an economic overhaul could be welcomed.
Once on the edges of the Cuban limelight, Lage has represented Cuba at most international gatherings, from presidential summits to inaugurations, and recently headed a top-level delegation to Caracas to sign a string of agreements with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Cuba's top ally and financial backer.

''Lage is key in all this,'' said Wayne Smith, a former chief of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana and critic of U.S. Cuba policy. ``Lage had been sort of put in the back seat, because he wanted to move ahead with economic reforms and Fidel didn't. Raúl comes in and makes Lage his right-hand man. He's been brought out of the closet, so to speak.''

...hahaha Raul "out of the closet, so to speak.'' in the same sentence. Wayne made a funny.

Cuba watchers have been pointing to Lage's new found prominence for some time.

The articles touches on the Ramiro Valdes/Raul Castro "partnership" saying that although they are rivals, they were forced to come together in these uncertain times.

``The fact that . . . these two hated guys could come together and hold hands tells you something: in a moment of uncertainty, they will come together.''

I agree with other analysts who believe that it is more of a partnership due to a power struggle where Raul gave Valdes a share of the power to keep him close. Mobsters keep their friends close and their enemies closer.


Although experts wonder whether Raúl Castro named Valdés so he could keep his enemies close, they note that it nevertheless is a sign of closing ranks.


Interestingly, the "Tropical Taliban" appears to be losing influence.


The lower profile is important, because Pérez Roque is a key member of Fidel's inner circle. He's among the hard-liners dubbed Talibans for their strict allegiance to communism.


''He was like a son to Fidel,'' said Susan Kaufman Purcell, director of the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami. ``He has apparently been pushed aside. Raúl doesn't want totally devoted protégés of Fidel.''

Also playing lesser roles in the past few months have been Ricardo Alarcón, president of the National Assembly, and Young Communists leaders Hassan Pérez and Otto Rivero, Cuba watchers said.

One thing is certain, though, nothing is going to happen until the shadow is gone and that might take a while.

Read Article

30 January 2007

A Day in the Life

I read the news today, oh boy . . .
About a lucky man who made the grade;
And though the news was rather sad,
Well, I just had to laugh—
I saw the photograph . . .


He blew his guts out in a car;
He didn't notice that the times had changed.
A crowd of people stood and stared;
They'd seen his face before;
Nobody was really sure
If he was from the Communist Party.

I saw a film today, oh boy;
The Cuban Army had just won the war.
A crowd of people turned away;
But I just had to look,
Having read the book.
I'd love to turn you on . . .

Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head;
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup;
And looking up,
I noticed I was late.
Found my coat and grabbed my hat,
Made the bus in seconds flat;
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke;
Somebody spoke and I went into a dream . . .

I read the news today, oh boy;
Four operations and the prick is still here;
And though the holes were rather small,
They had to count them all.
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Carl Marx Hall.
I'd love to turn you on . . .





Falling Flake?


Jeff Flake continues to make a name for himself, or rather, living up to his name in congress.

His attitudes towards immigration and Cuba are being questioned by those in his home state of Arizona.

What those in the eco-system inside the beltway consider “gutsy” those in his home state consider …well…flaky.

Flake’s views have certainly not endeared him to the Republican Party who removed him from his Judiciary Committee position.

Here are some excerpts from an article by J. James Estrada in American Daily.com:

Immigration challenge: Flake-ing out?
By J. James Estrada (01/30/07)



Jeff Flake began his fourth term in Congress this month representing Arizona's 6th Congressional District, just as he's starting to gain a name for himself in Washington. He was named as the "gutsiest" member of Congress by congressional staff members last year. …

Is Flake considered “gutsy” by his own constituents? Not really. …

On Cuba:


….While the populace here in Arizona is living a daily battle to control illegal immigration and its effects on local crime, monetary costs and strain on educational resources, Flake is working hard to secure a more open relationship with Cuba. Here’s what he said in a press release last month: “It is time for the United States to enter a dialogue with Cuba. America has important interests in Cuba and strong disagreements with the Cuban government. At a time when Cuba is changing and the opportunities to advance our interests and values in Cuba are not known, we unanimously believe that the United States should respond positively to the proposal made by Raul Castro…”




Raul Castro is said to be more radical and leftist than his older brother, Fidel Castro, the ailing dictator of Cuba. Why would Flake take the word of someone like Raul Castro to heart? Before the Castro brothers placed Cuba in their iron communist fist nearly 50 years ago, it was Raul who made contact with the Soviet KGB to aid in their efforts to do so. When they did assume power, it was to the detriment of all Cuban citizens, who paid with both blood and money to satisfy the power hungry brothers appetite for control. Raul was responsible for overseeing the execution of soldiers loyal to the overthrown government. And here we are now, with Flake forgetting the lessons of the last century. Dictators are not to be trusted.




Read the Whole Article Here

Morning PATATUN


Wow. Por Nada me da un Patatatun.

The following was written by a student at the University of Texas. Perhaps all is not lost.

Cuba without the Che brand
Claire Harlin

Posted: 1/30/07


He's a teen heartthrob, a rock star icon and a blessing to money-hungry T-shirt company owners worldwide. Millions tout his image in the name of passion, rebellion and leadership. But Ernesto "Che" Guevara, a communist idol who worked alongside Fidel Castro to kill capitalism, has become a classic archetype and a capitalist brand.

And as Castro remains in a serious state of illness, many, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, are comparing the Cuban dictator to Che, saying he "will never die."

Let's just hope we don't see Castro's face pop up on stylish T-shirts 40 years from now.

Along with Castro, Guevara managed to inspire tens of thousands of Latin Americans to quit working or drop out of universities to form guerrilla insurgencies almost 50 years ago. Once a leader of Castro's firing squads, Che's cause was to join the Soviets and crush any and all U.S. capitalism and imperialism.

Many Che loyalists today are liberals who believe in his rebellious attitude and opposition to the ruling class (hasta la victoria!), but it makes little sense that these two-fold peaceful anti-war activists tout his representation. It's a clash of ideals to be against armed war in Iraq, but a fan of someone who once wrote, "hatred is an element of struggle ... which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective and cold-blooded killing machine."

the rest Here

Bless her. Her Parents must be SO proud.

Harlin is a Latin American studies and journalism senior. (there's hope)

29 January 2007

Amnesty International & Cuba

Amnesty international just published its "Human Rights Concerns for Cuba".

It's a long, depressing list.

Marc at Uncommon Sense has More. Complete with links to the individuals mentioned in the report so can learn more.

And, in case you're thinking that Amnesty international is a right-wing Miami-Mafia Mouthpiece, here's the link to the Human Rights Concerns for the USA.
por si las moscas........

Celebrate or Protest?


One of the reasons my father decided to stick me on a boat and risk my young life in the shark-infested waters of the Florida Straights was so that I didn't have to go to forced demonstrations at the Plaza de la Revolucion.


Today in The Miami Herald we learn that the City of Miami is planning a party at the plaza of the Contrarrevolucion, The Orange Bowl.


You see, we hot headded Cubans can't be trusted to celebrate the demise of the tyrant is an acceptable way. The City wants us to celebrate in a politicaly correct-controlled way. In a way that won't offend the sensitivities of the the rest of America.




The city of Miami plans to respond to Fidel Castro's death -- whenever that may be -- with a celebration at the Orange Bowl.


Some quotes:


The city created the citizens committee that is planning the event earlier this month. When the still-unnamed panel met for the first time last week, Castro's death was nowhere to be found on the meeting agenda. The meeting was officially -- and ambiguously -- advertised under the title, ``Committee Meeting for an Event at the Orange Bowl.''

At that meeting, committee member and former state Rep. Luis Morse stressed the need for an uplifting, forward-looking theme for the party -- one not preoccupied with a human being's passing. The committee discussed including such a theme on T-shirts that would be made by private vendors for the event.
And before printing themed T-shirts, Miami has to actually decide what the theme
is. It's still working on that one.
''That has to be done with a lot of sensitivity,'' Morse said. ``Somebody needs to be a very good wordsmith.''
Ramón Saúl Sánchez, leader of the Miami-based Democracy Movement organization, worries about how a party would be perceived by those outside the exile community. He stressed that Castro's death will prompt a whole range of emotions among Cubans -- not just joy.

''The notion of a big party, I think, should be removed from all this,'' Sánchez said. ``Although everybody will be very happy that the dictator cannot continue to oppress us himself, I think everybody is still very sad because there are still prisons full of prisoners, many people executed, and families divided.''

Rather than partying, Sánchez would rather see the post-Castro focus be on improving conditions for those still on the island. If an Orange Bowl event must happen, Sánchez would like to see it in the form of a ''protest concert'' heavy on positive messages.
The city of Miami is suffering from what the Gusano likes to call Cubanophobia. It is afraid that its "third world country" image is going to be tarnished at the sight of a bunch of Cubans whooping it up over the death of Fidel.

Personally, the "protest concert" idea sounds good. But we all came here tobe able to be free to express ourselves. To attend government sponsered political events, kind of defeats the purpose.



Z

28 January 2007

Los niños son la esperanza del mundo

Cuba's much touted free health care system is starting to be exposed as the propaganda myth that it is.

It's nothing against he doctors. Cuban doctors seem to be excellent. But that's a tradition that existed well before the "revolution".

The biggest blow to the health care system came when Cuban doctors had to bring in a Spanish doctor to save Fidel's life.

Today The Miami Herald, under new management, tackles Cuba's infant mortality rate.

Ironically, the article comes out on the birthday of the Apostle, who said:
"Los niños son la esperanza del mundo"
Excerpts:
The one health statistic Cuba gives the most publicity to -- and appears to spend the most resources on -- is its infant mortality rate.

On Jan. 3, the official Communist Party newspaper Gramna boasted the country had reduced its infant mortality rate in 2006 to 5.3 per 1,000 live births, considerably below the U.S. rate of 6.0, from 2004, and leading all of Latin America.

Quote from a Cuban Dissident Physician!:

Darsi Ferrer, a dissident physician in Havana, doesn't doubt the Granma report. ''That number is indeed low,'' he told The Miami Herald by telephone. ''That program takes a large amount of resources'' out of the system. ``They don't care about 1- to 5-year-olds.''

''If there was any malformation in the fetus, they would interrupt the pregnancy,'' said Monzón, now a lab technician at Mercy Hospital in Miami. A heart murmur or other serious problems required an abortion. This was ''automatic,'' he said. If the mother objected, a team from the hospital would persuade her an abortion was necessary.
Other sources also say abortion is a tool used to keep infant mortality low, including Andy Gomez at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami, and Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a retired University of Pittsburgh economics professor who has spent decades studying Cuba.

Recent Cuba abortion data is not available, but a study by the Pan American Health Organization from 1998 states Cuba had 70 abortions per 100 deliveries in 1992 and 59.4 in 1996, far higher than the 34 to 38 abortions per 100 live births reported during that time in the United States.


Rest of the Article Here

El Hombre Sincero


27 January 2007

More of The Castro Interview


More on Maria Elvira Salazar's Cubanita's interview with Castro.

Here the Tyrant tells why he's a communist and a gutless wonder.


Thanks to Asha Nair at Castrianism for the link.

Dissidents Tell of Lack of Chages

There are no signs that the new Cuban leader, Raul Castro, is going to ease up on the repression and human rights violation.

Cuban dissidents don’t perceive any noticeable changes in the Cuba since Fidel handed power over to his brother.

In statements to the French Press Agency, some dissidents shared their views on the Regime in the last six months:



Marta Beatriz Roque said that new Cuban regime is a continuation of the same Totalitarian Regime under Fidel.








Héctor Palacios and Vladimiro Roca, ex political prisoners say that not a single thing has changed.




For his part, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, from Arco Progresista, feels that there had been a slight easing of repression in the Island.


Dissident Elizardo Sánchez considers that so far Raúl Castro has done nothing to improve fundamental rights and that thing could get worse unless “ a real political miracle were to happen”

26 January 2007

"Arbeit Macht Frei"


Everybody from South Florida, to Madrid, to China, to Washington have their eyes on Havana.

They are hoping that once Fidel is buried, that the island’s doors will open.

Great, you say. Freedom at last for the long suffering Cubans. Think again. It’s not about the Biscets or the Fariñas or the Roques in Cuba, it’s about the Benjamins.

There’s money to be made. Plain and simple. And those who would like to put things like freedom, multi-party elections and human rights before profits are cast aside as hard-line reactionary political hacks.

The Cult of the Absurd is alive and well and getting more converts everyday.

The Economist has two articles on Cuba and what the opening of trade with Cuba would mean.

This articles examines the trade between the Gulf States of the US and Cuba.

Some excerpts:

The state port authority's director, James Lyons, hopes this will change. “We're trading with Vietnam, we're trading with China. These are both communist states,” he says. “It's silly to have tense relations with a neighbour that close.”

In 2005 Alabaman companies did roughly $140m in trade with Cuba, according to Ron Sparks, the state's agricultural commissioner, who is aggressively pursuing Cuban business. “We've sold cotton, we've sold cookies, crackers, fruit juice, mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressing—a lot of processed foods,” says Mr Sparks.
Even if the embargo were to be lifted tomorrow, Mr Lyons cautions that trade would not boom immediately. “They don't have the currency to buy what they need,” he says. But trade works both ways—so how about some Cuban cigars and rum for America?

Whole Article here

Pressure is growing for a re-think of policy towards the island

This article’s premise is that with the newly seated 110th Congress with Castro sympathizing leftists and amoral capitalists in key positions, will ram Cuban policy changes down the throats of the deaf George W bush and his allies in la Calle Ocho.

Some Excerpts:
…The relevant committees in the 110th Congress are now headed by longstanding critics of the embargo. These include Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Max Baucus, who heads the Senate Finance Committee. In the Senate Joe Biden of Delaware, a liberal and non-ideologue, has taken over the Foreign Relations Committee.
William Delahunt, the Democrat who now heads the oversight panel of the International Relations Committee in the House, has already announced that he will hold hearings shortly into Cuban aid programmes. Other hearings could be held on scandal-plagued Radio and TV Martí, the Miami-based government broadcasting outlets directed at Cuba. A government report has already exposed flaws in aid to Cuba's tiny dissident movement, as well as in funding for anti-Castro projects in the United States.

Critics say all these programmes have done a good job of fuelling the anti-Castro industry in Miami, while having little impact in Cuba. That, of course, has long been the dirty secret of America's Cuba policy. “The administration is not interested in Cuba, it is interested in Calle Ocho,” says Philip Peters, vice-president of the Virginia-based Lexington Institute, referring to the main avenue that cuts through Miami's Little Havana district. Miami's Cuban-American electorate and campaign contributions have long been seen as politically vital, less because of their actual size than because of Florida's perennial importance as a big presidential swing state.

But the travel and money limits, while popular with some hardliners, are disliked by many Cuban-Americans, especially those who have arrived in the past two decades and still have ties to family on the island. Many now advocate personal contacts as a useful vehicle for change.

Last month, a group of Cuban exile organisations in Miami echoed the call for easing restrictions on travel and remittances. Consenso Cubano issued a report saying that the policy violated “fundamental rights of Cubans”. It was endorsed by the influential, and extremely conservative, Cuban-American National Foundation. Four prominent dissidents in Cuba also signed a statement in late November asking America to lift its travel restrictions. American laws “in no way help” their struggle, they said. Will George Bush listen? It's not what he's best known for.

Whole Article here

Like a commenter added to the previous post, lets get ready to say good bye to Radio/TV Marti and for the easement of Travel Restrictions and remittances soon. And maybe even for what is left of the embargo to come down.

The Cubans on the island will of course, get no benefits from this whatsoever, they will just be forced to be more efficient and produce more while they only get about 4 cents out of every dollar that the regime receives from the fruits of their labor.

Cuba will continue to be a concentration/work camp and its captive population slaves.

That’s OK with some people. As long as some farmer is selling more rice and some yuppy in Boston can smoke a Cohiba, it’s all good.

Might as well hang a sign in every street proclaiming:

"Arbeit Macht Frei"

Just like Fidel’s hero did.

Flake's at it again


Flake pushes to lift travel restrictions to Cuba
The aptly named Jeff Flake has teamed up with one of Fidel Castro’s biggest cheerleaders, Charlie Rangel, to introduce H.R.654, a bill to lift the prohibition on Americans traveling to Cuba.

Flake stated:

"A new approach is long overdue”

"For nearly fifty years our current Cuba policy has done little to bring democracy to Cuba,"

"Far from hastening democratic reforms, our current policy has given Fidel Castro a convenient scapegoat for his own regime's failures. With the Cuban government taking new shape, we shouldn't give the new leader the same excuses we've given the old one,"

Flake has long said that he believes that the most effective way to hasten democratic reforms in Cuba is to ease trade and travel restrictions currently imposed by the U.S.


Rest Here

So pack your bags, kiddies and let’s go to Havana and sip some mojitos.

But bring lots of cash because Raul needs it to continue oppress your relatives…err.. I mean to make democratic reforms.


25 January 2007

Friday Fast For Political Prisoners In Cuba

Friday Fast For Fariñas

Put down that pastelito. Don't eat that donut. Don't touch that pan con mantequilla. Don't even think about a torreja. Feel your stomach grumble a little. Feel your tripas bacias. And think. Piensalo bien. The guy in the picture, Gaunt and Gandhiesque but with eyes full of fire and hope did it for SEVEN months, Siete Meses. You can do it for a couple of hours. Let him know his sacrifice wasn't forgotten or in vain.

Cult of the Absurd

Fidel, (barely visible in white cap), Jogs with Cuban youths along the Malecon Thursday morning.



Fidel Castro has made a remarkable recovery.

According to his protégée, Hugo Chavez, Castro is doing so well, he is “almost jogging”

Chavez is also quoted in the Miami Herald as saying:


“We will have Fidel and we will have Raúl for a lot more time.''



''Lage told me that Fidel walked I don't know how many minutes yesterday,''



“He's walking more than me, almost jogging. Maybe he's walking while watching us.''


Just Last week Chavez told us that Castro was “battling for his life”

-----------------------


Growing up in Cuba, the thing that used to amaze me the most was that the true measure of a good revolutionary was his ability to swallow the lies hook line and sinker.

To a real revolutionary the truth was of no consequence. The truth was something to be overcome with revolutionary zeal and spirit. The truth was what Fidel said it was. What your intellect and your senses told you was wrong for only what Fidel told you was real.

Cuba became a cult, built on lies and absurdity where those who believed were told to believe some more and those who didn’t were eliminated, exiled or caged.

Then, you’re lucky enough to scape and come to a country where everyone is encouraged to find their own truth. But the Cult Leaders are still preaching. They come after our children with the false Gods and Icons of their demented cult of lies and hatred seeking even more converts. They come to you city, to your school.

It’s enough to make you puke.

Rats Abandon Sinking Ship?


Are the Rats abandoning the sinking ship?

First we get word that Fidel’s eldest son, Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, is looking to jump ship to Chile. Fidelito, as he’s is known, was allowed to travel out of Cuba WITH his wife for the first time for a visit to Chile. I guess he was a flight risk. It has been reported that during the trip, he scouted out properties in Chile for a possible move.

But it gets interesting. CNN is reporting that Basque Separatists Terrorists, ETA, are looking to relocate their operations to Morales’ Bolivia from Havana.
Do they know all know something we don't or is it something simpler?

Bolivia's Morales denies ties to ETA

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) --
Bolivian President Evo Morales denied Tuesday that his government has any ties with the Basque separatist group ETA following a Spanish news report that the militant organization is seeking sanctuary in Bolivia.

A leading member of Morales' political party did, however, acknowledge meeting in June with Basque politicians who were reported to be members of ETA's banned
political wing.

"In institutional terms, in party terms, there is no relation with ETA," Morales told a group of international reporters Tuesday.

The Spanish newspaper El Correo had reported that a lawmaker from Morales' Movement Toward Socialism party visited the Basque heartland in June and met with members of Batasuna, ETA's political arm.

The lawmaker, Feliciano Vegamonte, did not respond to repeated attempts to reach him Tuesday.

El Correo said that with Cuban leader Fidel Castro ailing, ETA fears it could lose the lone country that offers it sanctuary. So it is looking toward Bolivia as a possible alternative. The paper quoted unnamed Spanish security officials as its sources.

While Morales and other members of his party have visited the Basque country "in the culture of dialogue," he said, "I don't believe that ETA was there at the meetings. No. Practically, I've got no relation."

One of the stumbling blocks in any formalization of relations between Cuba and the United States is Cuba’s open support for ETA, which landed on the US’s list of Terrorist Sponsor Nations.

If ETA is looking to leave, it’s not because they “fear” anything. These guys are terrorists. They instill fear for a living. It’s most likely because the Cuban regime has made it clear to them that they are no longer welcome.
Severing ties to ETA formally, will remove a stumbling block for any possible future negotiations with Washington.

24 January 2007

Economic "Debate" in Cuba

Now that I predict that changes in Cuba are inevitable, here’s the totally opposite perspective.
It seems that the Cuban military who has been “running” the tourist industry under the direction of Raul since the 90’s has other ideas for Cuba’s (their) economy.

Of course, since they get to pilfer and skim the people’s money, they want no part of any privatization that would cut into their take, you know how mobsters are about things like that.

Cuban army weighs in on economic policy debate



HAVANA, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Cuba's armed forces, which run the Communist
country's most efficient companies, joined a nascent public debate on future economic policy on Tuesday and appeared to take a stance opposed to full free-market reforms.
Col. Amando Perez Betancourt, the head of the Cuban military's effort to make state-run companies more profitable, said profits, wages and productivity had been raised in more than 800 companies by applying methods known in Cuba as "perfeccionamiento empresarial" -- roughly translated as perfecting of the (state) company system.
"If you ask me what the most important task facing the state companies is, I would say it is better organization and the way to do that is through perfecting the state company system," Perez told the Communist Party newspaper Granma.


Col. Perez's comments contrasted with those of more reform-minded Cuban economists who believe greater opportunity for private initiative is the way
forward for Cuba as Fidel Castro fades slowly into the background.


Some Cuban economists believe that only by adopting China's model of a capitalist market under Communist political control, or at a minimum by decentralizing and developing private cooperatives in nonstrategic sectors, can internal production be improved.



'Perfeccionamiento empresarial' is not a free-market reform and it is not privatization. But it would benefit Cuba's economy to carry out the process fully," said Phil Peters, an expert on Cuba at the Lexington Institute in Virginia.



Col. Perez said productivity at more than 800 companies under the new anagement
system was 42.4 percent above that of other state companies and wages were 22.5
percent higher than average. Only 7 percent operated at a loss in 2006 compared with 38 percent in the economy as a whole.

"There is no question Raul wants improvements, but that does not mean he will go outside the existing system if he thinks it can work better," a Cuban economist said, asking not to be named.

Read Article Here

While it probably sounds like there is a “debate” about economic policy in Cuba, there isn’t.
There’s no way that the Cuban regime is going to privatize any of its bread and butter industries like tourism or agriculture. The two debate points are not mutually exclusive. The government will continue to run everything only more efficiently, and it will add small private businesses.

They will allow small family business to take economic pressure off society and give people a chance to make some convertible pesos. And these efforts will be taxed, so the government will get their cut.

The regime wins, the people stay the same.

Is Easing of Sanctions and Travel Restrictions In the Near Future?

Is America missing an opportunity to influence the outcome of the Cuban transition by continuing to isolate the island through travel restrictions and economic sanctions?

The congressmen that make up the House Cuba working group think so and said on Tuesday that they would propose legislation to do so, according to The Financial Times via MSNBC.

They claim that this is a “mainstream view” in congress which means the legislation would become law. If it does, the President would probably use his veto.

Crucial to the pending legislation, is the health of former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Castro delegated power to a group of rulers lead by his brother Raul.

The mood in Cuba is one of anxiey and desperation but there is always an expectation that there will be changes once Fidel dies. These expectations have been fueled in part by statements from Raul Castro saying among other things that he was fed up with excuses about the food and transportation situation on the island.

The new regime, by its own actions, has put itself in a position where it is going to have to deliver on some changes in order to gain some level of credibility and support from the population, especially the youth.

This is a dynamic that has never existed before in the US’ dealings with Cuba since they were dealing with Fidel, who didn’t care about the welfare of his people and would only negotiate to further his revolutionary delusions without the pressure of having to get some benefits for the Cuban people.

This time around , things are different, since the new regime needs to make some changes.

So it should be interesting.

The administration , like me , is holding out hope of some kind of a mass social upheaval to force some changes:

John Negroponte, director of national intelligence, said the Cuban "regime" was trying to create a "soft landing" while transitioning power to Raúl Castro. "We don't want to see that happen," he told the Senate intelligence committee. "But what is not known is whether people are holding back. Maybe we're not seeing the kind of ferment yet that one might expect to see once Mr Castro has definitively departed the scene."
This is not likely to happen.

Havana Radio Bemba


Havana’s Radio Bemba is broadcasting at Mega Watts lately, the signal is so strong that even tourist and the foreign press are getting the signal.

A sample of some of the Programming via Yahoo News:

"Some people have even said he has died, that they are conserving him and waiting for I don't know what, but I don't believe that," said Felix Perez, a 35-year-old waiter.
A 28-year old nurse, who would only identify herself as Josefina said rumors circulating in a Havana hospital say "he is very thin, but is alright and spending his time on the telephone, giving orders and driving the doctors crazy."
Even the name of the radio station is getting a mention in the American press:
In the absence of news, many Cubans rely on what is known here as Radio Bemba --
word-of-mouth that circulates in the streets.
"There are many stories going around, some people say Castro doesn't show himself because he has lost his beard," said Jorge Torres, a visitor from Guatemala.
What I’ve been able to garner from the Miami Radio Bemba is that Fidel is bed ridden and emaciated. He’s not able to speak because he’s heavily sedated and continues to receive nutrients intravenously.

A couple of physicians have said that once a person is in this condition its only of matter of time until major organs start to fail.

23 January 2007

"A Laugher of A Eulogy."


I was expecting to GAG when reading this "Eulogy "from Castro biographer,Georgie Ann Geyer. I wound up laughing.

The Title, EVEN ON HIS WAY OUT, CASTRO IMPOSES HIS SINGULAR WILL, suggest the common tune that Fidel fans have been humming lately. Basically that he had the last laugh on the evil empire and the Miami Mafia by thwarting their plans to rebuild Cuba in their “own image”.


But…..

WASHINGTON -- There is little question that Fidel Castro, the "immortal revolutionary," is dying. But being Fidel, he is not doing it in the way most people would expect.

He is not doing it on time. Since he is now 80, Cuban-Americans in Miami have had years to await his ascension to revolutionary communist heaven. Surely his 80th birthday in August would have been a neat time to say, "Adios, companeros!"

Neither is he doing it on the fair and square. The "renowned Spanish surgeon" rushed to Cuba in the last few weeks, Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, an intestinal specialist, turns out to be a personal friend of the Castro family. He was called in to give an upbeat report -- Castro does not have cancer, he attested -- apparently to buy some time for the transition to Raul Castro.

Once Fidel does die, there will be plenty of time to look forward. But for now, as he hovers in that half light that often incongruously clarifies, let us take a last look at this exceptional, ultimately destructive man.


There’s this:
As his biographer, I think of the man I interviewed five times and knew many years ago, in 1966 in Cuba. Oh, Fidel is surely the big, earthy, sensual, cold, authoritarian man that most people think of, but he is much more. Essentially, Fidel is incoherent. In my many long interviews with him (they would start at midnight and end at 9 in the morning), in Spanish, he never moved rationally from one subject to another. One minute it was Soviet aid, the next minute his new yogurt, the next his new brand of cows, the next the revolutions in Africa and Central America. Afterward, I'd always wonder, "Where's the lead?"

He tried all kinds of environmental changes, believing himself to be, along with everything else, a kind of rainmaker. He mixed breeds of cows, but the new breed failed. He planted coffee trees all around Havana, and they failed, too, because the soil was wrong for them. He built pyramids for special crops, and they withered. Behind his back, they called him the "dictator of the cows."
And this:
But at one thing, Fidel -- this angry son of an angry Gallego from Galicia in the north of Spain who came to Cuba to fight for Spain in 1898 -- was unusually adept. All things military were like second breaths to him. He had an uncanny instinct for danger, a polished personal radar for enemies closing in, and a hatred so ferocious it burned like a banshee's flame against the United States, whom he saw always and ever as Cuba's colonizer.

Concluding in this:
Today's world looks to pragmatic leaders, to economists, to men and women who know what to do. Doubtless, Cuba will fall to less interesting and more bourgeois people like this when Fidel finally does die -- if, of course, he does.

And that’s from a fan , someone who relishes Castro’s blind hatred for Americans and his 50 year crusade to “stick it to the man”.

So the pattern appears to be Fidel, the firebrand, the revolutionary, the genius who failed at everything but he was a thorn on the side of the US to the end...gotta love that in a dictator.
I was expecting a little more.

Spanish Government Not Waiting on Fidel To Recover


The Spanish Secretary of State for Latin America, Trinidad Jiménez, is on a Central American tour which will take her to Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama.

In an interview with Europa Press, Jiménez said that she is not waiting for Fidel Castro’s health to improve to visit the island.

She pointed out that Raúl Castro is the new leader of Cuba and that Span was waiting to see how things would evolve.

She added that with the succession, the power had been “delegated” and that it was up to the Cuban People to determine its own future.

Obviously if Fidel “delegates” his “omnipotence” to a group of his choosing, it is not the Cuban people who chose their ruler, but Fidel.

The Socialist Spanish government’s position is based more on the profits for Spanish firms that are heavily invested on the Island than by some ultraistic self-determination of Nations philosophy.

Late last year when the Spanish opposition Party , Partido Popular, introduced a resolution that would work towards supporting the democratization of Cuba. The Zapatero Government opposed it.

At the time Trinidad Jiménez said that the important thing in Cuba was to prevent “instability, clashes and insure the changes come about in the agreed manner”


She reiterated that Spanish firms had been doing business in Cuba for years and that if the new Cuban leader would open up the country to the outside , it would mean new business opportunities for these firms and others in the future.---PROFITS

22 January 2007

PSA

Be careful.

There's an e-mail circulating around with "Fidel Castro Dead" as a subject that's spreading a virus.

Via Drudge Report:

A spam e-mail with messages including "Fidel Castro dead" and "Saddam Hussein safe and sound" contains a virus which has infected thousands of computers, Spain's Association of Internauts has said.

With speculation rife about the Cuban leader's health, the association said that a computer would be infected by the virus if the recipient opened the message.

"The virus is affecting thousands of computers," the association said Monday.

The first thing that comes to mind when reading this is:

Why don't WE have an Association of Internauts?!?!?

Vamos A Cuba

South Florida is ready to invade Cuba.

No, not Alpha 66, Not Brigada 2506 not even Commando F-4.

It's the Capitalists.

The Miami Herald has a series of articles informing us of just some of the different plans in the works to go South and make a buck.

Firms small and large prepare for business with Cuba


One industry that the Cuban government is already pushing is oil and gas exploration. Cuba boasts untapped reserves of both oil and natural gas, and both
commodities could be big revenue earners for the cash-strapped island. But they
also require significant capital investment and technical know-how, which foreign companies have.

Housing is another sector that is in dire need of investment, both to rehabilitate existing stocks and build new housing. Experts estimate Cubans need some 50,000 new homes.

U.S. tourism operators are also eyeing a brand new market that is physically easy and cheap for Americans to access, especially from South Florida.

More

Trio of architects draft plan to preserve flavor of old Havana


If Cuba's economy opens up, it is widely expected that private developers will descend en masse -- not only to try to make a financial killing but to address an acute lack of housing in Cuba. Last year the National Housing Institute report said the country needs to build 50,000 houses for a decade to meet its housing shortage.

In the process, a city admired for quaint neighborhoods and inspired architecture could be radically changed for the worse.

More


Wealth of talent has foreigners eager to pounce on unknown artists


Most well-known Cuban artists already have representation deals with overseas art galleries and record labels, but that doesn't mean U.S.-based entrepreneurs aren't preparing to storm the island to hunt for undiscovered talent and works in the event of an end to the embargo.

''The potential transformation is huge,'' he says


More

Florida Keys tourism officials prepare for the day Cuba opens

From concerns of a clogged A1A highway as tourists flock to Havana-bound ferries to the use of Cuban migrants to alleviate the Keys' labor shortage, the island chain predicts big changes should Washington open up commerce with the communist nation.

Virginia Panico, president of the Key West Chamber of Commerce, met with government tourism officials in Havana in May 2005. Joined by a delegation of Chamber members (the group delivered medical supplies under an exclusion of
the travel ban for humanitarian missions), Panico said they discussed luring vacationers to both destinations.

''We told them we are prepared to do pre- and post-packaging -- three nights here, two nights there, or vice versa,'' she said.

The Keys' plan for an open Cuba also envisions piggy-backing on the island's newfound popularity. Among the ideas: a ''Keys Plus Cuba'' section on the website, tours of historic homes in both Key West and Havana and marketing joint fishing tournaments under the slogan ``So Much to Catch Up On.''

More



Castro II is probably hitting the bottle already. The Chinese model maybe...More like the Hong Kong Model.

Silence

The Post Fidel US strategy is apparently not shaping up quite as the US had hoped.

It has been my belief that once Castro dies and Castro II formally takes the reigns, there would be an international US lead effort to refuse to accept a royal succession and call for democratic changes on the island.

BUT as we learn today from this article from The Mercury News, some democracies around the globe are balking at chance of helping another nation join the club.

Spain with its vast investments in Cuba, is reluctant to side with the US and use its influence within the EU to call for change in Cuba:

With Havana seemingly on the edge of change, Rice hoped the European Union would issue a statement urging Cuba to adopt democratic reforms. As the leader on Latin American affairs within the EU, Madrid had the clout to make such a declaration happen, diplomats familiar with the outreach say.

The Spaniards declined.


Why? World leaders are scared to anger Havana! So they are waiting on the sidelines.

We are not without friends in the European Union, however:


The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the three Baltic states are pushing for a EU pronouncement, the diplomats say.


Hungary's ambassador to Washington, Andras Simonyi, said Europe is "edging" towards a common position on Cuba, which he said is a "special case" because of its
history and its "present situation."

"Hungary has a clear view that we have been through a democratic change and, of course, we would like to see as many countries as possible" take a democratic path.


The two newest members to the EU, Bulgaria and Romania will also be expected to join in any democratization efforts for Cuba , since they too suffered through totalitarian communist tyrannies.

In our hemisphere, things are more complicated. Other than Costa Rica, all other countries that are already aligned to Havana are keeping quiet. Canada is viewed as a possible negotiator between Washington and Havana. Brazil, whose president, Lula, is a Castro groupie has recently shocked me with statements indicating its offer to possibly help in a transition towards democracy in Cuba.


In Latin America, most big democracies like Argentina and Brazil have long held that they cannot interfere in the internal affairs of another country. Mexico's new conservative President Felipe Calderon has said he will seek to promote democracy in the region, but so far has not mentioned Cuba.

....

It’s baffling how the World’s most successful democracies, which of course have all signed every Human Rights treaty known to man, don’t comment on the lack of freedom in Cuba and remain silently and conspicuously neutral out of fear.

The only time they use human rights and Cuba in the same sentence is when they are whining about the imprisoned terrorists at Guantanamo.


“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality”

21 January 2007

Economic Reforms "Debated" In Cuba


The Cuban regime realizes that if it doesn’t make some changes soon, things are going to get ugly.

The population is young and disenchanted in their parent’s “revolution”. All they have ever known is sacrifice, misery and empty speeches and slogans.

The Regime needs to make some reforms to alleviate some of the social pressures.

The Miami Herald has a piece on the “debate” supposedly occurring within the regime.

Obviously, the decisions have already been made and they’re just waiting until after the funeral to announce the reforms.


''There is a debate,'' said Rafael Hernández, the editor of the quarterly Cuban magazine Temas, or Issues, and one of the country's leading intellectuals.

Hernández said the debate taking place at different levels of Cuba's government and society focuses on proposals such as decentralizing the highly centralized economy, forming cooperatives in areas outside of agriculture, and creating openings for more small and medium-size private enterprises.

''In Cuba, no IMF formula is foreseeable,'' said Hernández, referring to the international Monetary Fund and its free-market economic policies.

The primary concern for the regime is to keep political control of the society so any changes will be gradual at first and will have built-in mechanisms to guarantee that the regime gets its cut of the profits.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal had an article on the expected economic reforms on the island.
Another proponent of reforms, prominent Cuban economist Pedro Monreal, recently told The Wall Street Journal that Cuba needs an overhaul to inject motivation and innovation into the economy although the direction of the debate is difficult to follow. ''It's a kind of black-box process,'' he said

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba flirted with free market reforms, (out of necessity), by allowing the use of Dollars and for small family businesses that could employ workers. These steps, "created a bifurcated economy that gives some people access to hard currency and others not” according to Philip Peters, Cuba analyst at the Lexington Institute, a think tank in Arlington, Va.

This infuriated Fidel, the egalitarian, who put and end to fledging businesses as soon as he was able.

Article Here

Remittances


You send cash to Cuba?

Well, here’s some facts and conjecture on remittances.

I say conjecture because when it comes to Cuba, analysis most times becomes educated guesswork.

Here’s an article from the L.A.Times that wades into the murky waters of remittances:

Cuba's dependence on dollars leads to a divide, analysts say

Some Excerpts:

By some estimates, such remittances are now more important to the Cuban economy than tourism or sugar. Hard-line opponents of Cuba's Communist government contend that fees and markups on the money are more help to Fidel Castro's regime than it is to its actual recipients, providing the government with a source of easy money and allowing it to avoid market reforms in the 15 lean years since the defeat of its Soviet benefactors.But the truth may not be quite so simple. Experts say dollars sent from abroad also cleave this officially classless society of 11 million people into two parts, those who receive them and those who don't, undermining Castro's regime.
………………………………………………..

Dollarization "created a bifurcated economy that gives some people access to hard currency and others not. And until you get broad-based growth, that inequality won't be solved," said Phil Peters, Cuba analyst at the Lexington Institute, a think tank in Arlington, Va.
…………………………………………………
Two differing theories on the importance of remittances to the Cuban Economy:

But Paolo Spadoni, an expert on the Cuban economy and a political science professor at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., says U.S. visitors to the island routinely circumvent those restrictions. Many send cash via third-country agencies or through an underground network of "mules," or fee-charging couriers.Judging by the booming TRD sales, remittances must have topped $1 billion a year by 2000 and grown to at least $1.3 billion in 2004, Spadoni said. Although it is difficult to determine whether there has been a significant drop-off since then, Spadoni said that dollar-store income rose almost 7% last year."In net terms, remittances are the biggest source of foreign exchange for the country, more than tourism and sugar," he said.

The Cuban government has to invest about 80 cents for every dollar it earns from tourism, now a $2-billion-a-year industry, whereas remittances arrive with minimal state outlays.But John Kavulich, senior policy advisor to the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council in New York, estimates that the value and influence of remittances to Cuba is far lower. A veteran analyst of centralized economies, Kavulich says Havana's economic data are inflated.

He estimates the volume of remittances at no more than $450 million and says their influence on the overall economy is minimal compared with billions in aid from China and Venezuela. But for average Cubans, remittances are far more tangible.


Rest of the Article here

20 January 2007

XXI Century Propaganda


Juventud Rebelde, another of the Regime's propaganda tentacles has taken to imitating the free press by conducting polls and investigative reporting investigations.


The XXI century propaganda is then fed to the free press agencies which eat it up as if it were real journalism.


One such project was an investigatigation of government run businesses, concluding that there's more to the lousy service than the Cuban workers. They wound up blaming the system and said that they were going to have some economists study it.


Of course ,anything that gets published on the island is propaganda, giving the regime cover to make the changes they want to make and pretending that its what the people wanted.


Their gameplan is almost a century old now, and we know all the plays.


Newsweek has taken a poll conducted by "Juventud Rebelde" seriously and build a nice little piece around it.


The regime knows that it needs to make changes. Like we said yesterday, there are 11,000,000 expecting it.


So this "poll" will provide a glimpse as to where the new leadership expects to take Cuba.


It’s a touchingly quaint wish list for a modern world. Freedom to travel. Retail computer stores. A country free from economic hardship—and one that doesn’t give preferential access to those using foreign currency. But for Cuba’s increasingly disaffected and restless youth, this is the stuff of their dreams and aspirations.

In any other country, a survey asking young people what kind of nation they want to see in the year 2020 would hardly be fodder for the pundits. But in a nation that rarely gives its youth a voice—and seldom divulges the results of government opinion polls—the decision to publish a recent survey in the country’s official youth newspaper took on its own significance.

there's this gem:

That has not escaped the attention of the regime’s top leadership. “These young people have more information and more consumer expectations than those at the start of the revolution,” acknowledged Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque in an unusually candid speech in 2005. “Sometimes I am sure that when you speak of free health care and education, many of them say, ‘Oh please, don’t come to me with that same old speech.’”
and this:

“The regime knows it has a time bomb on its hands,” says Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina of the Cuban Democratic Youth Movement. “It has no confidence in a
transfer of power to these young people.”

=

but their is hope for the lefties as evidenced by Castro apologist , Julia Sweig , wishful thinking.

Young Cubans may appear sullen and thoroughly dissatisfied with the status quo in their country. But their political apathy and inaction to date may reflect a frank recognition they would be no match for the repressive machinery of an entrenched totalitarian government on the streets of Cuba. “I don’t really think youth can be a source of major instability,” says the CFR’s Sweig. “Providing young people with a sense that they have a stake in Cuba’s future is a huge challenge on Raúl’s plate, but the regime pretty much has a handle on that.” Perhaps the real test will only come when both Castro brothers are gone and their heirs will have to establish their own claims to legitimacy in the eyes of Cuba’s youth.

Young people in Cuba are brave but not foolish. they bide their time. I would like to remind everyone of the tremendous amount of courage that it takes to set out in the open sea to seek freedom and opportunity. Just because they don't want to commit suicide doesn't mean they aren't going to take a chance. They are willing to wait till after the funeral, but changes need to start or things will get ugly.

Radio Bemba Chávez Dice:

El Presidente de la Republica Socialista Bolivariana Venezolana, Hugo Chávez, ha declarado en un discurso, durante un acto de condecoración en la Asamblea Legislativa de Río de Janeiro, Brasil que su amigo y mentor, el déspota cubano, Fidel Castro Ruz, "está dando una batalla por la vida"

Chávez añadió que "Fidel está de nuevo en la Sierra Masmierda"

Corrección: Sierra Maestra

19 January 2007

Castro Fans Prematurely Celebrate "The Succession"


The leftie fans of the only totally non-free regime in the Americas and the second worst freest economy in the world are gleefully proclaiming Fidel’s final victory over the evil empire and the Miami Mafia:

An uneventful succession from one tyrant to the next.

These rebels without a clue have always admired Castro because he stood up to the big, bad US of A.

Somehow, the fact that Castro was like an annoying mite in the feathers of the Mighty American Eagle, justified 48 years of suffering for the Cuban people.

These leftist intellectuals are now prematurely celebrating the percieved survival of the tropical worker’s paradise and thus the continued enslavement of eleven million people.

Case in point is this AP article by Anita Snow:

Cuba's post-Castro life already begun

By ANITA SNOW, Associated Press

Fidel Castro's enemies in exile have long predicted that the end of his reign in Cuba would bring dancing in the streets, a mass exodus and a rapid transition to a U.S.-style democracy and market economy.

But almost six months after Castro stepped aside due to illness, the transition has occurred — and with none of those changes. Cubans are calmly going about their business, and there has been no northbound rush of migrants, and no signs of impending policy shifts.

Even if Castro recovers fully and returns to public life, officials no longer insist that he will return to power. Why would he? Cuban officials already have pulled off what their enemies have long said would be impossible: They have built a post-Castro communist system.

About the only thing different in Cuba is that its government, instead of being led by a single person, is handled by a group. Raul Castro heads a collective leadership guided by the same Communist Party his older brother extolled during a nearly half-century in power.

"These guys know what they are doing. They are prepared to lead Cuba without Fidel," said Marifeli Perez-Stable of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think tank. "The country, in the short run, is not going to collapse."
And this

But Cubans recognize that any changes will be gradual, and "will be orchestrated by those whom Fidel has long been grooming," Julia E. Sweig of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations wrote in the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine.

"Washington, too, must accept that there is no alternative to those already running post-Fidel Cuba," she wrote.

Whole Article Here

First of all, nothing in Cuba is at seems on the surface. What the Cubans on the street are going to do once Fidel is buried is anybody’s guess. And rest assured that those of us on this side of the Florida Straights are not going to sit around with our arms crossed.

Secondly, If the new collective leadership is so well entrenched in power and the US is a spectator on the sidelines, then why is it that they don’t tell the Cuban people what Castro’s condition and prognosis is?

If “these guys know what they’re doing” why are they acting like a bunch of scared school girls hiding behind Fidel’s Adidas track suit?

Pretending that the Cuban nomenklatura is a cohesive and united entity is wishful thinking for those who would love to see Castrism perpetuated for generations to come.

There are ELEVEN MILLION people in that island that expect change once Fidel meets his maker. They better get it or things are going to get ugly.

Beauty, Brains and Braun


This Cubanita interviewed both Castro and Pinochet and asked the tough questions

Here she asks the Tyrant about Human Rights.

She makes him squirm. Looks like he's going to bust a gut.

Thanks to Asha Nair at Castrianism for the link.

I saw this show live and I couldn't believe my eyes/ears.

``Within the Revolution, Everything. Outside the Revolution, Nothing.''

"Within the Revolution, Everything. Outside the Revolution, Nothing.''

Fidel's infamous totalitarian creed.

The guiding words to his orgy of intolerance and oppression.

Granmierda, which is well "within the revolution", published a letter by The Cuban government's union of writers and artists , also well "within the revolution" on Thursday. In the published statement they backed intellectuals who protested the recent TV , (Cuban TV is also "Within the Revolution"), reappearance of ex- government officials who, for and "Within the Revolution", used to censor intellectuals and artists. BUT they reminded the intellectuals that"Outside the Revolution Nothing", stills stands.

The "intellectuals", (you have to chuckle at a classless society that has a class called "intellectuals"), are upset over the recent TV appearances of Luis Pavon Tamayo, Jorge Serguera and others who are blamed for the "gray five years"('71-'76).

The Intellectuals , who all work well "Within the Revolution" and enjoy perks that the common Cuban on the street doesn't, are afraid that their going to loose their prized perks and relatively comfortable lifestyle . Obviously,if there's a tightening of what's considered "within", it will leave some of them "without".

The farcical "debate" on the pages of Granma is just a staged ploy to show how the "reporters" are writing about the things that affect the average Cuban.

Just, last week Rolando Alfonso Borges , "chief ideologue" of the party, urged "reporters" to do just that.

The farce is being staged "Within the Revolution" to put a more tolerant facade on the regime of CastroII. The international press gushes at covering stories where it "seems" that Cuba is moving towards a "freer" press, while they ignore the regime's responsibility in the death of Miguel Valdés Tamayo .

More in Today's Herald

18 January 2007

Another Triumph of the Revolution

Freedom in the World 2007, a survey of worldwide political rights and civil liberties is out.

..... and.... Survey Says:

Out of the 35 countries in the Americas, 25 are Free (71 percent), 9 are Partly Free (26 percent), and one­ Cuba­ is Not Free (3 percent). In Latin America in particular, the past year was marked by an impressive number of competitive and fair elections in relatively new democracies experiencing social turbulence. Haiti, meanwhile, joined the ranks of electoral democracies, and its score improved from Not Free to Partly Free.

The only country if the Americas that is Not free. Not free. Not free.

US Military Excited About Possible Mass Exodus

Hey, I can mess with Headlines too!

The Sun Sentinel is continuing its Public Service of allaying the Cubanophobia that has gripped South Florida since July 31.

U.S. scouting out Gitmo sites in case of mass exodus after Castro death

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba -- If Cubans flee in droves when Fidel
Castro dies, those intercepted at sea will likely wind up at this base where nearly 400 men captured in the war on terror are held, creating ``an incredible challenge'' for U.S. forces, the base commander said.

Military officials say they have begun planning for a possible mass exodus, scouting potential sites to detain migrants in tents while keeping them far from the prisoners suspected of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.

.... And...

In past periods of turmoil, thousands of Cubans have taken to the sea. The U.S. Coast Guard has tried to intercept them before they reach land. Under the so-called wet-foot-dry-foot policy, Cubans intercepted at sea are generally sent back while those who reach U.S. soil are allowed to stay.

More

The US' primary concern as it relates to Fidel's departure and the ensuing changes in Cuba has been to maintain "stability" and the "status quo".

Chinese Model, Vietnamese Model, Russian Model, Iraqui Bloodbath Model, it's all good as long as there's no Cubans washing on up shore.

Cubanophobia

Reporters Without Clues?

I confess I don’t know how the newspaper business works.

…and most bloggers like to pick on reporters and what they write.

I believe Journalism is an honorable profession, a calling if you will. In a country like ours reporters have the luxury to be a little more frivolous, but when they have to, they hold the elected officials and the bad guys’ feet to the fire.

NOBODY gets away with anything.

That’s great.

BUT

This is the second time this week where the title of an article makes me drop my jaw in disbelief.

Who picks the titles? The Reporter, The editor? I honestly don’t know.

The first article that sent my head spinning was

Cuban seems to urge freer press

That title has absolutely nothing to do with reality and even less to do with what the article was about.

Ok. Today there’s this:

Cubans remain subdued about Castro's health
Cubans know that Fidel Castro may die soon, but they are keeping their reactions private.

No Kidding!
Subdued? You tend to be "subdued" when there's hundreds of AK-47's that can be pointed at you at a second's notice.

What do they think that people in a totalitarian country are going to do? Jump for joy?

The article itself is informative and very objective. It even quotes prominent dissidents, which I applaud, no, I give a standing ovation to:

''In Cuba, lots of people have seen or heard about the news reports, but comments are kept at a whisper,'' Laura Pollán, the wife of a jailed dissident, said in a telephone interview from Havana.

``People realize that [Castro] is in bad shape and wonder what will happen when he dies.''''There is a lot of uncertainty and anxiety but, as of yet, reaction does not go beyond that,'' Pollán said

''The most relevant thing is not the [El País] report itself, but the fact that the government hasn't released a single word,'' said Elizardo Sánchez, a human-rights activist in Havana. ``They don't feel obligated to inform the public.''

So what's with the titles over at the Herald?

Radio Chavez Plays New Tune


Venezuela's Radio Bemba is playing a different tune this morning.



I'm not a doctor. I'm not at Fidel's bedside but he's not in a serious condition as some say, nor does he have cancer,"
He said (to me) it's a slow recovery process not without risk. He's 80 years old,"


Today:

From Bloomberg


Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Cuban President Fidel Castro's health is in a ``delicate situation,'' Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said after a Spanish newspaper reported Castro was in serious condition following three surgeries on his large intestine.
``There was a serious complication,'' Chavez, a key ally, said in a televised speech tonight in Caracas. ``He's been in a delicate situation. We ask God for Fidel's recovery.''

``Some are saying Fidel has died,'' Chavez said. ``Well, everyone dies some day.''

I like the second tune a lot better, but the radio station has got to go.

Cuba Almost Wins Misery Index


The Heritage foundation just came out with its 2007 Index of Economic Freedom.

The index measures and ranks 161 countries across 10 specific freedoms, things like tax rates and property rights.

The socialist paradise created by Fidel ranked 160.

Only North Korea had less economic freedom than Cuba, but Fidel only started destroying Cuba 48 years ago and he had a thriving economy.
For those who like to compare dictators:
Chile, now benefiting from the economic model instituted by Pinochet, lead Latin America in the ranks, coming in at number 11.

17 January 2007

The When?

Back when I was a young student and they were teaching me to write a story, the old professors would always harp on five questions that every article had to answer. What?, Why?, When?, Where, and Who?

Because the Where was in Cuba the four other W’s have been sketchy at best, but now we know more:

Who?: Fidel Castro Ruz, Tyrant, Dictator, Despot.

What?: Impeding Death due to at least 3 failed operations to treat either diverticulitis or Colon Cancer (same procedure)

Where?: Havana, Cuba

Why? He decided not to have a colostomy which caused complications.

When?: We have all assumed the first operation occurred in late July, probably the 27th.

Hmmm.?

Everybody is assuming that Castro had his initial operation on the 26th or 27th of July and handed power over on the evening of the 31st, July.

BUT ( I told you, there’s always a but with Cubans)

Rumors about Castro, started way before the 31st. They actually started around July 11 with a rumor circulated on Wall Street that Castro had died.

Back in July, we were all eagerly awaiting whether Castro would show up as planned at a MERCOSUR meeting in Argentina. He did. He had a confrontation with a Cuban reporter, went back to Cuba and then was felled by the diverticulitis.

Diverticulitis is not a disease that springs up over night to cause near-fatal intestinal bleeding. There are usually other milder symptoms starting at around age 60.

The rumors I’ve heard, albeit 2nd , 3rd …20th , hand, shed light on a possibly different timeline of Castro’s surgeries.

The rumors that he had colon cancer and had a “colostomy” before he went to Argentina sometime in the late spring early summer of 2006 were all over Miami and the internet.

It is possible that Castro’s initial surgery for diverciculitis occurred between April and July 2006.

The surgery that caused Castro to eventually give up power would have been the one that included the peritonitis and could have occurred on 26-28 July. At that time stress was blamed for his intestinal bleeding. Stress could have, in a patient his age, caused the stitches from the original operation to fail.

Smaller operations to clean and drain the wound could have occurred in between.

The third and more serious operation, would have occurred around 19 Dec also coinciding with Sabrido’s visit and more rumors of his death. This is the operation where they removed the intestine and installed the Spanish prosthesis for the bile duct inflammation.

Given the lack of facts about Castro’s condition, we all have to rely on conjecture and assumptions.

So, I’m going to adopt my new proposed timeline.

I choose to. Here’s why:

Castro was well on his way to recovery from his original surgery his colon was firmly attached to his rectum.

The Report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba came out. Stress UP.

He goes to Argentina to get his butt kissed by his leftist cronies.




Castro Killer Quest que cest ?

Then he met Juan Manuel Cao a Cuban born reporter who did what no reporter had ever done before, he called Castro out in public, really stressing him out. So much so that after he gave a couple of speeches on the 26th in his native Oriente, his stitches popped spewing crap all over his innards.

I like that version much better.

It changes the Why? A little bit. The truth did him in.



The Why
(courtesy of Cuban American Blog El Confeti)