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prentice crawford
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« on: September 13, 2010, 09:48:59 PM »

 As we take the yellow brick road to socialism we pass by those coming the other way who now know better.

Cuba to eliminate 500,000 state jobs and spur's private sector.


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« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2010, 11:01:29 PM »

When next we meet ask me about my trip to Cuba , , , in January 1980 IIRC. (For the record folks, the trip was entirely legal and above board-- it was during a brief opening under Carter and was organized by my law school.  It turned out to be about 2 months before the Port Mariel exodus.
prentice crawford
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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2010, 11:10:56 PM »

Woof Guro Craftydog,
 You have got to be kidding me. You never cease to amaze me with your adventures! cool I was in the Corps at the time and felt lucky that I wasn't sent down to Florida to help with that mess.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2010, 11:16:44 PM by prentice crawford » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2010, 03:04:41 AM »

I was there for about ten days and because of my comfort level in Spanish and my general way of going about things, most days I was able to escape the Potemkin tours (for those of you educated by progressives, google the term Potemkin Village) and wound up running with a bunch of musicians.  One of them, Roberto, a dancer in the national folklore company, escaped during the Mariel exodus and looked me up in NYC.  He asked me if there were any decent salsa clubs in NY.  I said why yes, we had a few and took him to one.  The band playing was Ticpica 73 with Alfredo de la Fey on electric violin and Nicky Marreror on timbales.  We walked in and they knew my friend from when they toured Cuba on a cultural exchange a few years prior!  Roberto chose the hottest chick dancing on the floor and began to dance with her.  It was like a movie; he was so good the whole floor cleared for the two of them.  Then the band invited us backstage to hang out and thus began an interesting chapter in my life.
prentice crawford
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Posts: 784

« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2010, 03:31:46 AM »

 That's very cool, I had a similar musical stint in my life but involving the Texas Two Step and my two boneheaded cousins that are country music stars today. Of course being from Kentucky I speak fluent country wink and when they were still playing the bars, I would show the ladies how to Two Step and occasionally I'd get up on stage, play a flat top and sing Long Haired County Boy. cheesy "People say I'm no good and crazy as a loon, cause I get stoned in the mornin(g) and get drunk in the afternoon."  
 Ah, the good ole days! grin
« Last Edit: September 14, 2010, 05:18:29 AM by prentice crawford » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2011, 12:48:42 PM »
prentice crawford
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Posts: 784

« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2011, 03:59:55 AM »


Carta de Cuba, la escritura de la libertad


Foreword By
Haim Shaked, Director
Middle East Studies Institute
July, 1999




After a close relationship with Middle Eastern groups and countries for forty years, Cuba enjoys today an exceptional position in the region with embassies in almost all countries, and with a wide variety of political connections within the ruling elites. Castro is engaged in a growing process of enlarging bilateral trade, financial assistance, involvement in joint ventures, and cooperation projects, as well as in diplomatic cooperation in the international system.

The context has changed over the years. While the priorities are not to channel weapons to groups within the region, there are still some specialized military assistance, training and cooperation, especially with the PLO. Yet Cuba's priorities now are to obtain investments, economic cooperation, and trade opportunities from Iran, Algeria, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, and others.

For U.S. interests, the closeness of the relationship with Iraq and some of the more militant terrorist groups in the Middle East is troublesome. Can Cuba be used to carry out terrorist acts against U.S. targets? Is there any cooperation between Sadam Hussein and Castro in the development of chemical and bacteriological weapons? What remains from the close cooperation between Castro and the more militant terrorist groups in the region? These and other questions are of critical importance to the security of the United States. Cuba's proximity to the U.S., the continuous flow of immigrants from the island and the increased travel from and to Cuba should make Castro's relationships a troublesome and worrysome issue to U.S. policymakers.

The Middle East and North Africa have been extremely important to Castro's foreign policy since 1959. It remains today as a region of special priority in Castro's redesign of his foreign policy after the collapse of Cuba's alliance with the former Soviet Union. Actually, there is not one single aspect of Castro's foreign policy in which the Middle East does not become important as:

1) A region connected to Cuba's non-aligned interests and policies.

2) An area where Cuba laid the foundations for the deployment of regular military forces and the establishment of military cooperation over the last 40 years.

3) A region from where to gain knowledge/connections/influence with "liberation movements" throughout Africa and the Middle East.

4) A base for triangular operations in connection with Intelligence/subversive activities in Latin America.

5) A source of influence with Arab communities in Latin America and the Caribbean.

6) A region in which trade, loans, cooperation, and diplomatic support has become very important, especially in the 1990's.

7) After Vietnam, a virtual laboratory, in the military field, in particular since the Six Day War (1967), for updating and upgrading Cuba's military capabilities, including technological and operational capacities.

Cool A region where the Arab-Islamic states are extremely important due to their voting power within the UN system for Cuba's multilateral diplomacy.

It is within such a context that the relevance of the Middle East for Cuba's foreign policy should be understood. The following chronology is only meant to be illustrative of the depth and closesness of Cuba’s long-standing relationships with states, leaders, and groups in this troubled region.



* Relations developed with Gamal Abdel Nasser; Cuba joined the Non-Aligned Movement, sponsored by India, Yugoslavia, and Egypt. Efforts to buy weapons from Egypt failed.

* The Cuban government sent Captain José Ramón Fernández (currently vicepresident of the Cuban government) to Israel in the summer of 1959 to negotiate the purchase of light weaponry and artillery, but no agreement was reached. Instead, significant civilian assistance was granted by Israel to Cuba for more than 10 years in the field of citrus cultivation and diplomatic relations were normal until 1973.

* Raúl Castro and Che Guevara visited Cairo and established contacts with African liberation movements stationed in and supported by Cairo. Both Cuban leaders visited Gaza and expressed support for the Palestinian cause.

* Initial relations established with Baghdad under Karim Kassem. The Cuban government sent Commander William Galvez to purchase light weaponry, tanks and artillery. No agreement was reached.

* Castro established relations with the Algerian FLN through Paris and Rabat; official and public support was extended, large quantities of weapons were shipped to the FLN through Morocco (1960-1961); provided shelter, medical and educational services were provided in Cuba for wounded Algerians; political and military cooperation in the fields of counter-intelligence and intelligence were initiated. First Cuban deployment of regular military forces in support of the Algerian government against the Moroccan aggression of 1963. These forces remain to train the Algerian army for more than a year.


* With considerable hesitation and reluctance, Nasser cooperated with Che Guevara during his guerrilla operation in Congo-Kinshasa (former Zaire) in 1965.

* Cuba welcomed the founding of the PLO. First contacts with Palestinian FATAH between 1965 (Algiers) and 1966-67 (Damascus).

* The Tricontinental Conference was held in Havana in January, 1966 to adopt a common political strategy against colonialism, neocolonialism, and imperialism.

* Cuba sent weapons via Cairo, to the NLF in Southern Yemen. Cuban agents were sent on fact-finding missions to North and South Yemen (1967- 1968);

* Fidel Castro and other Cuban officials privately criticized in very harsh terms the shameful performance of the Egyptian leadership during the Six Day War in 1967. The war, as such, was thoroughly studied by the Cuban Armed Forces;

* Cuba and Syria developed a close alliance and supported FATAH and the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF).


* Cuba continued its military and political support for FATAH after the Syrians broke with the latter, and, later on, Cuban support was granted to other Palestinian organizations (Popular and Democratic fronts).

* Cuba sent military instructors and advisors into Palestinian bases in Jordan to train Palestinian fedayeen (1968); first high-level delegation from FATAH-PLO visited Cuba (1970).

* Several missions sent to Southern Yemen to support NLF / FATAH Ismail internally and externally, both politically and militarily.

* The Soviet Union and Cuba increased military and civilian cooperation with Southern Yemen (PDRY).

* Cuba commenced political and military cooperation with Somalia's Siad Barre (1969).

* Economic cooperation began with Libya in 1974, after serious bilateral tensions between 1969 and 1973.

* Closer connections with FATAH-PLO and other Palestinian organizations were reinforced, including training of Latin American guerrillas in Lebanon;
military support included counter-intelligence and intelligence training.

* Arafat visited Cuba in 1974.

* Arab and Non-Aligned countries pressured Cuba to break relations with Israel in 1973 and sponsor U.N. Resolution on Zionism "as a form of racial discrimination."

* Cuba provided military support and personnel to Syria during the Yom Kippur War (1973-1975).

* Cuba joined with Algeria and Libya on a diplomatic/political offensive in support of Frente POLISARIO (People's Front for the Liberation of Western Sahara and Río del Oro); later on provided military cooperation , medical services, and other forms of assistance.


* Cuba avoided any public condemnation of Syria's military intervention in Lebanon, although privately they did so in strong terms.

* Cuba supported the so-called "Steadfastness Front" against the U.S. backed Camp David accord.

* Additional military and political support provided to the Palestinian cause; Arafat attended the 6th Non-Aligned Conference in Havana (1979).

* At this stage, significant hard currency loans (tens of million) had been facilitated by Arafat-PLO to the Cuban government under very soft terms; Cuba granted diplomatic and political support to Arafat during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. In the 1980s, Cuban universities were graduating hundreds of Palestinian students in various fields, especially from medical schools.

* The Aden (South Yemen) regime decided to support the Ethiopian radical officers commanded by Mengistu Haile Mariam, sending Yemeni military units in support of the latter against Somali aggression, and asking the Cubans to do the same. Cuba joined in, first with a group of officers headed by General Arnaldo Ochoa, a move that was followed later on by the deployment of large Cuban forces against the Somali invasion. Also as part of the alliance with the Aden regime, Cuba granted some small-scale support to the Dhofaris in their armed struggle against the monarchy in Oman until the late 1970s.

* As part of Cuba's alliance with Mengistu Haile Mariam's regime in Ethiopia, the Cuban leadership decided to engage in active political and military support for more than 10 years to the Liberation Movement of Southern Sudan headed by John Garang against the Arab-Muslim regime in Khartoum (until today there are no diplomatic relations between Khartoum and Havana).

* Cuba developed closer ties with Iraq in various areas (medical services, construction projects, grants and loans).

* Cuban military advisory to Iraq in different fields began in the mid 1970s (it was cancelled after the Iraq invasion of Iran in late 1980).

* Cuba cooperated with Libya in the political founding of the World MATHABA in Tripoli, to provide political support and coordinate revolutionary movements throughout the world. Cuba supported also Lybia's stand on Chad and in its support to the FRENTE POLISARIO.

* Despite its close links with Baghdad, Cuba recognized and praised the Iranian Revolution, although with no significant increase in bilateral ties. Once Iraq attacked Iran, Cuba withdrew its military advisors from Baghdad and adopted a position of official impartiality, though more sympathetic to Baghdad, due to its past relations.

* Castro granted political recognition to the revolution in Afghanistan in 1978, but internecine conflict and civil war prevented any strengthening of bilateral relations. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 disrupted Cuba's Non-Aligned policies at a time when Castro was chairman of the NL Movement. While publicly supporting Moscow, Fidel Castro was very critical of the Soviet invasion, something that was bitterly discussed with Soviet officials.


* Declining economic cooperation between Cuba and Libya.

* New ties of alliance between Algeria and Libya with Morocco cut-off any further direct support from Cuba to FPOLISARIO.

* Libyan support to Latin American revolutionary movements, especially in Central America and the whole of the World MATHABA project, declined rapidly after the U.S.bombing of Tripoli in 1986; Cubans increasingly distant until MATHABA's last meeting in 1990 in Tripoli, where the termination of the Libyan project was pretty obvious for all the participants, including the Cuban delegation.

* The Palestinian Intifada increases Cuba’s support for Arafat and the PLO, both diplomatic and military.

* Cuba starts exploring other possibilities for increased diplomatic recognition and economic ties in the region, including Saudi Arabia (two Cuban ambassadors were sent for that purpose, but with no significant success); the Gulf States, Jordan, Turkey (with much better results: embassies were finally established in Kuwait, Turkey, Qatar, and Jordan); and even Israel (with no official success, but with promising inroads within the private sector and some political/religious forces).

* After the violent collapse of the Aden regime, the death of Fatah Ismail, andthe reunification with North Yemen, Cuban authorities negotiated with the government of Sanaa from which bilateral relations continued to develop, including areas of economic and political cooperation.

* After the negotiations leading to the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority, Cuban-Palestinian military cooperation was enhanced, including the areas of counter-intelligence and intelligence.

* Cuba condemned Iraq for its invasion and annexation of Kuwait, supporting the latter's sovereignty; it also condemned U.S. military operations in the Gulf and abstained from supporting the bulk of the sanctions imposed on Baghdad. A Cuban military delegation was sent to Iraq to learn and share what was considered vital information and experiences from U.S. combat operations in Kuwait and Iraq.


* Embassies were opened in Qatar, Turkey, Tunisia and Jordan; trade and joint ventures were developed. Diplomatic ties and trade relationships have increased discreetly with Egypt and Libya; Qatar supported Cuba in the 1999 sessions on Human Rights at Geneva.

* A high-level PLO military delegation including the new head of Intelligence paid a non-public visit to Cuba.

* Israeli firms provided capital, technology and markets to Cuba in the field of citrus cultivation and exports; religious and political delegations visited were exchanged..

* Lebanon's normalization in the 1990's allowed Cuba to reach important financial and trade agreements, including Lebanese participation in joint ventures and in establishing a branch of the Fransabank in Havana. Nabih Berri, in 1998, the Chairman of the Lebanese parliament paid a long and successful, visit to Cuba during the month of Ramadan, and more recently Adnan Kassar, president of the Fransabank and the International Chamber of Commerce paid an official visit to Havana.

* Iranian-Cuban relations have increased after several high-ranking delegations from Iran visited Cuba: the Vice-President, the Minister of Foreign Relations, the Minister of Public Health, and the Minister of Social Assistance. The Cuban Minister of Public Health visited Iran in 1998. In the last two years the number of Cuban doctors, paramedics, and medical services hired by Teheran have increased, together with additional purchases of Cuban pharmaceuticals and biotechnology products. A recent agreement (1999) was signed, establishing Cuba's assistance in setting up social security/social assistance networks in Iran.

* The recent election of Abdelaziz Bouteflika (April 1999) as President of Algeria, opens new opportunities for Cuba, given Bouteflika's close relationship with the Cuban government for more than 40 years.

* PLO leaders continue to have close relations with the Cuban leadership, having access to specialized military and intelligence training, either in Cuba or Palestinian territory, and in the sharing of intelligence.

* Cuba continues to actively undermine U.S. policies in the Middle East and North Africa in primarily three ways: a) Portraying U.S. actions and diplomacy in the region as those of an aggressor, seeking to impose hegemony by force such as the recurrent attacks on Iraq, violation of sovereign rights (no-fly zones), the perpetuation of unjustified economic sanctions to countries in the region (Iraq, Iran, Syria), open political intervention and the use of brutal force as acts of retaliation (the Bin Laden case/Yugoslavia); b) portraying the U.S. as the main obstacle to a peaceful settlement of the Israel/Palestine and the Gulf conflicts, and c) discrediting U.S. policies, especially by gaining support for Cuba's agenda at the U.N. These Anti-American views and policies are conveyed as a systematic message through a network of Cuban embassies in most countries of the region, at the U.N. and its multilateral system plus Cuban embassies and missions throughout the Western Hemisphere and other significant non-governmental political and cultural channels.


1. FLN. Front de Libération National, the political and military organization that led the war of national liberation against French colonial rule between 1954 and 1962. Ruling political party until the 1980s in Algeria.

2. PLO. Palestine Liberation Organization, founded in Cairo, in 1964, under the auspices of Egypt (then known as the United Arab Republic) to serve Nasser's manipulations of the Palestinian cause, composed mostly of conservative Palestinian intellectuals and bureaucrats serving Arab governments. An instrument of Nasser's foreign policy until the June War of 1967, when the old PLO leadership collapsed to be replaced by FATEH's leadership headed by Arafat.

3. FATEH. Acronym for Palestine National Liberation Movement, founded in 1959 by younger generations of Palestinians that had experienced the defeats of 1948 and 1956, strongly committed to a radical nationalist platform to fight for Palestine and against Arab intervention and manipulations of the Palestinian problem. Mostly an underground and not legally recognized organization until the June War in 1967; it transformed itself into the most powerful and influential party inside Palestinian and Arab politics, controlling the PLO effectively since 1969, when Arafat becomes its chairman.

4. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The most important branch of the Arab Nationalist Movement (known as the ANM, created in the 1950s as radical followers of Nasser). After the June War of 1967 splitting away from Nasser and focusing on building a more radical alternative within the Palestinians under the name of Popular Front, led by George Habash; a later off-spring, in 1969, was the Democratic Front led by Nayef Hawatmeh. Strongly based in Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, and the Gulf, until 1970 heavily engaged in terrorist methods. After 1970 dropped such tactics, became more active and open across the occupied territories and southern Lebanon, adopting Marxist-Leninist ideology.

5. Frente POLISARIO. Frente Popular de Liberación del Sagía el Hamra y Río del Oro, inspired by the ANM tradition and the Algerian FLN, created to fight against the Spanish-Morrocan-Mauritinian arrangements to split the former colony of Saguía el Hamra/Río del Oro (known as Western Sahara) between the two African states. Enjoyed active support from Algeria and Libya together with a considerable number of African states until the 1980s.

6. NFL. National Front for the Liberation of South Yemen, another important, and successful, branch of the Arab Nationalist Movement. Created in 1962 in the course of the revolution in North Yemen, against the monarchy and supported by Nasser. Expanded to the south of Yemen and began armed struggle against British colonial occupation and local feudal lords (sultans and sheikhs). Broke with Nasser in 1966-1967 and finally forced the British to negotiate and evacuate Aden, followed by the defeat of the local feudal lords. Since 1965 it has had very close relations with Cuba. Main leader was Abdel Fatah Ismail. Internecine conflicts sine the late 1970s eventually led to open civil war in 1990 and the collapse of the regime, the death of Fatah Ismail, and integration with the north under the control of the government in Sanaa.

7. World MATHABA. A Libyan project from the late 1970s to promote political, financial, and military support for revolutionary movements throughout the world. Ghaddafi called on other "revolutionary governments" to support this project, which Cuba did although with extreme caution and distrust. Cuba could not refuse to join due to the fact that its major allies in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and even the Soviet Union had accepted to participate and that many of them were benefitting from Libya's abundant financial support. Although governments -like the case of Cuba- took part at the level of political deliberations and to coordinate common actions in the diplomatic and political fields, MATHABA was something else: essentially a tool in the hands of the Libyans to project their individual goals and agenda (Ghaddafi's Green Book, to reward his supporters, and to undermine his enemies). Financial and military assistance was never a collective decision, but responded for the most part to bilateral arrangements between Ghaddafi's regime and individual organizations, some of which resorted, at different stages, to terrorist methods like the IRA and ETA. Insurgencies in Central America, like the Sandinistas and others, were privileged beneficiaries along with the African National Congress, FRENTE POLISARIO, and others. Cuban leaders were always anxious to counterbalance Libyan attempts for unilateral actions, to influence Cuban allies or about Ghaddafi's hostility toward well-known Cuban allies such as Arafat. The dominant perception among Cuban leaders was that Ghaddafi posed too many unnecessary security risks the U.S. and too many complications within Cuban alliances.

8. People's Liberation Movement of Southern Sudan. The final outcome of different secessionist movements in southern Sudan during the 1960s and early 1970s (like the Anya-Nyas) fighting against Arab-Islamic control of the central government, allocation of resources, and religious, political, and ethnic intolerance.

9. Eritrean Liberation Front. The most influential Eritrean organization fighting for secession from Ethiopia in the 1960s, actively supported by the Syrian regime since 1965. Various internal divisions developed later on until the late 1970s, when a new front was built based on very different domestic and external alliances and, eventually led the Eritreans to victory. Cuba's support to Mengistu Haile Mariam's regime in 1978 meant the cessation of previous Cuban backing to the Eritrean cause.

10. PDRY. People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, official name adopted by the Southern Yemeni independent republic.

11. Gamal Abdel Nasser. A colonel in the Egyptian army, member of the Free Officers Movement formed after the defeat in 1948 at the hands of the newly-born state of Israel. Led the revolution that overthrew the monarchy in 1952. Undertook signficant economic, social, and political transformations, setting much of the basic tenets and role-model of Arab nationalsm after WWII. Co-founder of the Neutralist countries in 1956 and of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961. Defeated by Israel in 1948, 1956, and 1967.

12. Karim Kassem. A colonel in the Iraqi army and, at the beginning, a follower of Nasser. Led the revolution against the monarchy in 1958. A rival of Nasser later on, a bloody military coup inspired and mostly led by the Arab BAATH party, a strong and influential inter-Arab nationalist movement in the Middle East, overthrew him in 1963.



1. Anderson, Jon Lee (1997). Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, New York, Grove Press.

2. Baez, Luis (1996). Secreto de Generales, Ciudad de La Habana, Ediciones SI-MAR, S.A.

3. B'nai B'rith (1982). "PLO Activities in Latin America," New York, Anti-Defamation League.

4. Campbell, John C. "Soviet Policy in the Middle East." Current History Num.80 (January 1981).

5. Durch, William J. ""The Cuban Military in Africa and the Middle East: From Algeria to Angola."

Studies in Comparative Communism, Num. XI (Spring-Summer 1978).

6. The Economist Foreign Report. "Castro's First Middle East Adventure: Part II."15 March, 1978.

7. Erisman, Michael H. (1985). Cuba's International Relations: The Anatomy of a Nationalistic Foreign Policy,Boulder, Westview.

8. Eran, Oded. "Soviet Middle East Policy: 1967-1973,"Rabinovich, Itamar and Haim Shaked, eds. (1978). From June to October: The Middle East Between 1967 and 1973, New Brunswick, Transaction Books.

9. Falk, Pamela S. (1986). Cuban Foreign Policy: Caribbean Tempest, Massanchussets/Toronto,

D.C. Heath and Company.

10. Fernández, Damián (1988). Cuba's Foreign Policy in the Middle East, Boulder, Westview Press. 11. Karol, K.S. (1971). Guerrillas in Power, London, Jonathan Cape.

12. Legum, Colim and Haim Shaked, eds. (1977-1980). The Middle East Contemporary Survey. Vols. IIII, New York, Holmes and Meir.

13. "Relations Between the palestinian Terrorists and Cuba." Reprinted from  Lebanon: Selected Documents. Israeli, Raphael, ed., London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1983.

14. Siljander, Mark. "The Palestine Liberation Organization in Central America."Mmeo., October 1983.

15. U.S. Department of State. "The Sandinistas and the Middle Eastern Radicals."Washington D.C., August 1985.

16. Viotti, Paul R. "Politics in the Yemens and the Horn of Africa: Constraints on a Super Power."Mark V. Kauppi and R. craig Nations, eds. The Soviet Union and the Middle east in the 1980s. Lexington, D.C. Heath, 1983.

[1] Mr. Amuchastegui is a research associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies and a Doctoral candidate at the School of International Studies, University of Miami. He was a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana; Guest Professor at the Cuban National Defense College; Senior Researcher at Cuba's Center for Studies of Africa and the Middle East; and Intelligence Analyst and Head of the Organization Department at the Tricontinental Organization in the 1960s and 1970s. He traveled extensively through North Africa and the Middle East. He edited Palestine: Crisis and Revolution (Havana, 1970); Palestine: Dimensions of a Conflict Sociology and Politics in Israel Contemporary History of Asia and Africa (Four Volumes, Havana, 1984-1988), together with several other books and articles. He was a direct or indirect participant in most of the developments described herein until 1993.

Arriba (up)
English Articles 2005
Open Letter to Fidel Castro
Juragua: Fallout Threat
Castro and the Middle East
Castro and Terrorism
Proposed Sentences for Human Rights Activists
RSF Protests in Paris against Cuban Repression
RSF Denounces Repression
Oswaldo Paya's Speech
Purpose and History
Daily Life in Cuba
On the Case of Elin
English News


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« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2012, 07:53:06 PM »

Will the Pope Absolve Fidel Castro?
Posted By Humberto Fontova On February 10, 2012
Pope Benedict XVI will visit Cuba in March. Two of Italys top newspapers are reporting that Fidel Castro will avail himself of the visit to confess his sins and be accepted back into the Catholic Church, which excommunicated him in 1962.
During this last period, Fidel has come closer to religion, says Castros estranged daughter Alina who lives in Miami. He has rediscovered Jesus at the end of his life. It doesnt surprise me because dad was raised by Jesuits.
A baptized and confirmed Catholic, but lifelong layman, I dont claim expertise in ecclesiastical matters. But before granting absolution the Catholic Church, Im fairly sure, still requires contritionsincere contrition.
On his 1998 visit to Cuba, Pope John Paul II remarked that he was reserving judgment on Che Guevara who had served the poor. Upon greeting the Cuban ambassador to the Holy See in 2005, this same pontiff hailed Cubas gains in health care and education. The above makes patently obvious that, on matters Cuban, the Vatican references the same media and academic sources gleefully bestowed Havana bureaus and visas by the Castro regime. Heaven knows the Vatican is not alone on this.
So if the Italian papers are rightand with all due respect to whomever has been tasked with hearing Fidel Castros confession and granting his absolutionI offer the following educational items regarding Castros historical record of sincerity:
Cuban mothers let me assure you that I will solve all Cubas problems without spilling a drop of blood. Fidel Castro broadcast that promise into a phalanx of microphones upon entering Havana on January 7, 1959. As the jubilant crowd erupted with joy, Castro continued: Cuban mothers let me assure you that because of me you will never have to cry.
The following day, just below San Juan Hill in eastern Cuba, a bulldozer rumbled to a start, clanked into position, and pushed dirt into a huge pit with blood pooling at the bottom from the still-twitching bodies of almost a hundred men and boys whod been machine-gunned without trial on the Castro brothers orders. Many of the victims mothers, wives and mothers wept hysterically from a nearby road as their loved ones were thus buried, some still alive.
Thousands upon thousands more Cuban men and boys (along with some girls) crumpled before Castro and Ches firing squads in the days and months and years to come.
Viva Cristo Rey!  (Long Live Christ the King) were the last words of many of the martyrs.   Catholic youth groups were among the first to mount resistance to Castro and Che Guevaras Stalinization of Cuba. Tragically for them, in the early 60s the Castro regimes KGB mentors were still flush from massacring thousands of Catholic (among many other) freedom-fighters during the Polish, Ukrainian and recent Hungarian rebellions against Soviet rule. Denied U.S. help  (from 90 miles away) while the Soviets (6,000 miles away) lavished their Caribbean satraps with massive firepower and 40,000 advisors, Cubas anti-Communist rebels fared no better than did those in Eastern Europe.
In the process of extinguishing the freedom-fighters, Castro and Che Guevaras regime jailed more political prisoners as a percentage of population than Stalins and executed more people (out of a population of 6.4 million) in its first three years in power than Hitlers executed (out of a population of 65 million) in its first six. These figures come from the human rights group Freedom House and from the Black Book of Communism, authored by French scholars and translated into English by Harvard University Press, not exactly headquarters for the vast-right wing conspiracy, much less of right-wing Cuban exile crackpots.
The defiant yells [Viva Cristo Rey!Viva Cuba Libre!] from the bound and staked martyrs would make the walls of La Cabana prison tremble, wrote eyewitness to the slaughter, Armando Valladares, who suffered 22 torture-filled years in Castros prisons and was later appointed by Ronald Reagan as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Modern history records few U.S. diplomatic tweaks as slick, or U.S. ambassadors as effective.
Given their defiance even during their last seconds alive, by mid-1961 the mere binding and blindfolding of Castro and Ches murder victims wasnt enough. The Lefts premier poster-boys began ordering that the freedom-fighters be also gagged. The shaken firing-squads demanded it. The yells were badly unnerving to the trigger-pullers, you see.
Rigoberto Hernandez was 17 when Che Guevaras henchmen dragged him from his cell, jerked his head back to gag him, and started dragging him to the stake. Little Rigo pleaded his innocence to the very bloody end. But his pleas were garbled and difficult to understand. His struggles while being gagged and bound to the stake were also awkward. The boy had been a janitor in a Havana high school and was mentally retarded. His single mother had pleaded his case with hysterical sobs. She had begged and finally proven to his prosecutors that it was a case of mistaken identity. Her only son, a boy in such a condition, couldnt possibly have been a CIA agent planting bombs.
FUEGO!  The firing squad volley shattered Rigos little bent body as he moaned and struggled awkwardly against his bounds, blindfold and gag. Remember the gallant Che Guevaras instructions to his revolutionary courts: judicial evidence is an archaic bourgeois detail. And remember Harvard Law Schools invitation and rollicking ovation to Fidel Castro during the very midst of this appalling bloodbath. We greeted each other as old friends, gushed Jimmy Carter upon visiting Fidel Castro last year.
But back to Castros sincerity:
And let me be very clearVERY clear! stressed Fidel Castro during his delirious reception by the cream of Americas media at the National Press Club on April 17, 1959. We are not communists! And communists will never have influence in my country!
Just a few things to keep in mind, Vatican officials, in the event of hearing Fidel Castros confession, and accepting his contrition.
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2013, 11:08:15 AM »
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2013, 11:48:02 AM »
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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2013, 08:54:47 AM »

The Challenges of a U.S.-Cuba Reconciliation
January 8, 2013 | 0731 GMT

During U.S. President Barack Obama's second term, the United States will have an opportunity to reconsider its hands-off approach to Latin America, and the next four years could even yield an end to the embargo on Cuba. Since before the election, discussion has been growing in Washington about the potential for the Obama administration to walk away from the decades-long embargo. Monday's nomination of Senator John Kerry to the position of secretary of state makes such a possibility even more concrete. Kerry has long opposed the embargo, and the Democratic Party now has a chance to dispose of a divisive domestic issue. For Cuba, however, the end of the embargo would be far more complicated.
To understand this issue, it is important to start with the fact that while the U.S. embargo has at least threatened a great deal of economic exchange with Cuba, its deterrent effect has been limited. Indeed, despite the island's stubborn adherence to the fundamentals of communism, Italian hotels grace Cuba's beaches and serve imported Mexican Coca Cola to thousands of European tourists annually. Even in trade with the United States, Cuba is not as isolated as may initially appear. A 2000 amendment to the embargo signed into law by the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush allows U.S. agricultural producers to export certain products to Cuba. Although Cuba initially refused to take advantage of the changes, exports -- mostly of corn and poultry -- began in 2002 and totaled more than $350 million in 2011.

What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman explains.
The biggest restriction on Cuba's foreign economic interchange is not the embargo, but its own policies and limited resources. Restrictive government attitudes toward foreign companies limit the kinds of investments those companies can make. And although changes have been made in recent years to gradually implement liberalization measures, they have been incremental even at their most ambitious. Cuba's fundamental economic problem is that it lacks industrialization to produce high-value goods for export; even its agricultural sector has fallen into disrepair. The island's growing reliance on tourism has injected additional foreign exchange into the economy, but has simultaneously introduced social stresses along class and racial lines.
Regime survival has been Cuba's overriding concern since leader Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. No longer caught between the Soviet Union and the United States, the Castro government is still very concerned about maintaining a firm hold on power. The embargo has for decades been used to confirm the view that the U.S. government is the enemy of Cuba's political order. As in many countries whose foreign policy centers on vilifying an outside power, Cuba has used the embargo as a political justification for a range of challenges faced by Cubans, from goods shortages to poor overall economic conditions. Travel restrictions also make it easier for the Cuban government to isolate its population, a policy that helps to control influence from U.S. policy groups seeking to promote democratic change in Cuba through social organization. One such accused American social organizer, Alan Gross, remains jailed in Cuba, an unmistakable message to the United States that Cuba is not yet ready to mend relations.
Nevertheless, there are dangers ahead that may push the island nation to consider reconciliation. Though Cuba lost the sponsorship of the Soviet Union, Venezuela's provision of around 100,000 barrels per day of subsidized petroleum products is an allotment that, if lost suddenly as a result of Venezuelan instability, would leave Cuba scrambling for billions of dollars in foreign currency to keep the island economy afloat. Efforts to boost domestic production through offshore exploration have so far yielded no results, leaving the country highly vulnerable to what happens in Venezuela. As a result, Cuba remains heavily involved in Venezuelan politics and is playing a critical role in negotiating a political settlement to deal with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's deteriorating health.
Venezuelan subsidies have made it possible for Cuba to remain economically isolated from the United States. Though a political shift now, while Venezuela is in crisis, may be impractical, there is a real danger that a Venezuelan government without Chavez will suddenly or gradually cease oil deliveries to Cuba. So despite the social dangers to the Cuban regime, an alternative economic management strategy is almost certainly under consideration.
It would therefore not be surprising if Cuba began to approach the United States far more seriously than it has in the past about reconciliation. But the United States will have to be willing to offer assurances that it will respect the pace of Cuba's careful economic opening and help protect Cuba from the political influence of expatriates wishing to return to the island. If common ground can be reached, Cuba could see an influx of investment -- in the tourism sector, but also potentially in ethanol -- and a spike in tourists that may help provide the surge in foreign exchange that Cuba would need to balance out a decline in Venezuelan assistance

Read more: The Challenges of a U.S.-Cuba Reconciliation | Stratfor
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« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2013, 01:07:35 PM »

When someone is killed in a civilized country and police slap around a witness and suppress evidence it is known as a cover-up. In Cuba it's called "reform." Viva Orwell.

Cuba's "ministry of truth" wants the world to believe that the Castro brothers are abandoning the use of state repression to maintain power. The Jay-Z-Beyonc glam-tour of Old Havana last week was designed to help with the effort. But new details of the events surrounding theJuly 2012 deaths of prominent pacifist Oswaldo Paythe winner of the European Parliament's 2002 Sakarov prizeand another dissident, Harold Cepero, suggest the opposite.

The U.S. press has reported on the March testimony of ngel Carromero, the Spaniard who was driving the car that the two dissidents were riding in just before they died. Mr. Carromero was released from a Cuban prison in December and returned to Spain. He says that a red Lada had been tailing him and that the crash occurred because their car was rammed by another vehicle. He also claims that when he told this to Cuban authorities, they struck him, more than once.

But that's not the half of it. In an interview on Thursday at the Journal's offices, Pay's daughter, Rosa Maria, told me: "I must say that when I talked to ngel, I didn't learn anything new. He confirmed things we already knew. We had the text message. We already knew that a car hit them from behind intentionally."

What she knew came straight from the mouth of Cuban police Capt. Fulgencio Medina, who took testimony from witnesses and read it aloud at the hospital in the eastern city of Bayamo where the victims were brought from the crash. Pay family friends were there, identified themselves as the family's representatives and reported by telephone back to Havana.

But the family was then denied access to that police report. The family was also denied the right to an independent autopsy, and they were told that all refrigeration chambers at all the hospitals in the area had broken down, so an autopsy had to be done immediately.

Doctors who were friends of the family were not allowed into the Bayamo hospital to inspect the body. The Pay family was denied a request for seats on a flight from Havana to Bayamo. The family has also been denied a copy of the autopsy report.

Putting Mr. Carromero on trial and hushing up the rest seemed like a tidy resolution. But the problem for the regime, says 24-year-old Ms. Pay, is "that in Cuba everyone talks."

The family has many friends in the Bayamo area and a few of those friends managed to get inside the hospital before the military locked it down; other sources who told them things seem to work there. "Our friends in the hospital talked a lot with the police in those first moments."

Ms. Pay says that the government never officially notified her family of the death of her father. But at the hospital Capt. Medina read the witness statements "in front of my friends and other cops and nurses, doctors."

The witnesses told of a red Lada, the same make and color of a suspicious car that Mr. Carromero described. They described seeing the occupants of the red Lada taking the foreigners [Mr. Carromero and Swedish politician Aaron Modig] out of their car almost immediately. The Spaniard was saying "Who are you? Why are you doing this to us?"

The statements did not say if Ms. Pay's father was "dead or alive," Ms. Pay told me. "But the witnesses said Harold [Cepero] was asking for help. I don't know if out loud or with his hands but they said he was touching his chest. So we know he was alive and conscious." Why then, Ms. Pay wants to know, did hospital personnel tell her family's friends that he was "brain dead," when they saw him lying on a gurney in a general area not receiving any form of intensive trauma care?

There is something else interesting about Capt. Medina's report of witness testimony, according to those who heard him read it: There was no mention of the car being smashed against a tree. This jibes with the testimony of the foreigners, who both have said that there was no crash with a tree.

Ms. Pay says that a journalist permitted to observe the trial on closed-circuit television told her that Capt. Medina testified against Mr. Carromero and never mentioned the red Lada or the questions witnesses had heard him ask as he was taken from the car.

This was supposed to be an open and shut case, with the emphasis on the shut. But now that the contradictions have become public knowledge, the regime's story is taking on a distinct odor. This is bad for the ministry of truth. Eight U.S. senators led by Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) have called for an investigation. Ms. Pay, who will return to Cuba next week, is worried about the safety of her family, and probably for good reason.

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« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2013, 03:16:16 PM »

The Cuban Spy Network in the U.S. Government
May 2, 2013 | 1246 GMT
By Scott Stewart
Vice President of Analysis

On April 25, the U.S. government announced that it was unsealing an indictment charging Marta Rita Velazquez with conspiracy to commit espionage on behalf of the Cuban government. Velazquez, a former attorney adviser at the U.S. Department of Transportation and a legal officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development, fled the United States for Sweden in 2002 and was indicted in 2004. Velazquez apparently selected Sweden because the country considers espionage to be a political offense, therefore it is not covered under its extradition treaty with the United States. She and her husband also lived in Sweden from 1998 to 2000, so the country was familiar to them.

Though the Velazquez indictment is several years old, it provides a detailed and fascinating account of Cuban espionage activity inside the United States. It also raises some significant implications about the daunting challenges facing American counterintelligence agencies.
The Story

According to the indictment, Velazquez was born in Puerto Rico. She graduated from Princeton University in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in political science and Latin American studies, obtained a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1982 and then received a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington in 1984. She was hired by the U.S. Department of Transportation in August 1984.

The U.S. government alleges that Velazquez was first recruited by the Cuban intelligence service in 1983 while a student at Johns Hopkins. She reportedly traveled from Washington to Mexico City where she met with a Cuban intelligence officer and was formally recruited as an agent. During her studies at Johns Hopkins, the government claims that Velazquez served as a spotter agent who helped the Cuban intelligence service identify, assess and recruit people who occupied sensitive national security positions or who had the potential to move into such positions in the future.

The indictment asserts that in this role, Velazquez identified and befriended Ana Belen Montes, a fellow student at Johns Hopkins, in 1984. In addition to their Puerto Rican heritage, the two students reportedly shared a strong disdain for the Reagan administration's policy toward Nicaragua's Sandinista regime. Velazquez reportedly told Montes that she had friends (the Cubans) who could help Montes in her desire to help the Nicaraguan people.

During the early 1980s, a left-wing movement developed in many American universities. The movement opposed Reagan's Central American policies, such as opposition to the Sandinistas, support for the Contra rebels and support of the regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala. This movement was perhaps most readily seen in one of its larger and more active organizations, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador. The movement radicalized some students who went on to work with Marxist groups in Latin America, such as Christine Lamont, who joined the Salvadoran Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, and Lori Berenson, who moved to Peru to join the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. According to the FBI, the Cuban intelligence service also recruited students like Velazquez and Montes from within this movement.

The indictment alleges that in the fall of 1984, while Montes was working as a clerk at the Department of Justice, Velazquez took her to New York to meet a friend who Velazquez said could provide Montes an opportunity to help the Nicaraguan people. The friend was an intelligence officer assigned to the Cuban mission to the United Nations. The women again traveled to New York together in early 1985 and met the Cuban intelligence officer a second time. He arranged for the two women to secretly travel together to Cuba via Spain.

In March of 1985, Velazquez and Montes traveled to Madrid, Spain, where they were met by a Cuban intelligence officer, who provided them with false passports and other documents. They then used these documents to travel to Prague in what was then Czechoslovakia. Once in Prague they were met by another Cuban intelligence officer who provided them with yet another set of false documents, as well as new sets of clothing. The Cuban officer they met in Prague then traveled with the women to Havana.

Once in Havana, the women reportedly received training in espionage tradecraft subjects, such as operational security and secure communications, including receiving and encrypting high frequency radio transmissions. The women were also allegedly subjected to practice polygraph examinations and taught methods to deceive polygraph operators.

Upon completion of their training, the women then returned to Madrid via Prague using their assumed identities. Once in Madrid they took tourist photographs of each other to support the story that they had been in Spain and then returned to Washington.

Upon returning to Washington, Montes applied for a job at the Defense Intelligence Agency using Velazquez as a character reference. She was hired by the Defense Intelligence Agency as an analyst in September 1985. Montes would excel at the agency and eventually became the Defense Intelligence Agency's most senior Cuba analyst. She served at that agency until the FBI arrested her in September 2001. Montes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage charges in March 2002 and is currently serving a 25-year sentence.

Velazquez's trip to Havana with Montes occurred after she had been hired by the U.S. Department of Transportation in August 1984 and had been granted a Secret clearance in September 1984. In March 1989, Velazquez took a position as a legal adviser for Central America with the U.S. Agency for International Development. She was a regional legal adviser for the agency in Managua, Nicaragua, from 1990 to 1994, in Washington from 1994 to 1998 and in Guatemala City, Guatemala, from 2000 to 2002.

In June 2002, when it was announced that Montes had pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the U.S. government, Velazquez resigned from her position at the U.S. Agency for International Development and moved to Sweden, where she remains.
Cuban Intelligence

The Velazquez case, when studied in conjunction with those of Montes and Walter and Gwendolyn Myers, provides a fascinating window into the scope and nature of Cuban intelligence efforts inside the United States. With Velazquez at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Montes at the Defense Intelligence Agency and Myers in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the Cubans had incredible coverage of the American government's foreign policy and intelligence community. Even after Montes was arrested and Velazquez fled to Sweden, Myers remained at the State Department until his retirement in 2007.

It is also quite interesting that all three of these cases are linked to the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Velazquez and Montes were students in the program in the early 1980s, and Myers taught there until 1977, after receiving a Ph.D. from the school in 1972. He returned to the school following his retirement in 2007 and worked as a professor of European Studies until his arrest in June 2009. The school is a high-profile institution that has a proven track record of placing graduates in the American foreign affairs and intelligence communities -- and of hiring former government personnel to serve as professors. Still, it is not the only program with such a profile, and the Cubans would almost certainly have recruited a promising agent from Georgetown's Walsh School, Harvard's Kennedy School or any other program if provided the opportunity. The fact that there were three high-profile Cuban agents who penetrated the U.S. government and who were all associated with the School of Advanced International Studies would seem to be an incredible coincidence. The FBI is probably still looking for potential agents who Myers could have spotted for recruitment when they studied there from 2007 to 2009.

When considering espionage cases, we often refer to an old Soviet KGB Cold War acronym -- MICE -- to explain the motivations of spies. MICE stands for money, ideology, compromise and ego. Traditionally, money has proved to be the top motivation for Americans arrested for espionage, but as seen in the Velazquez, Montes and Myers cases, the Cubans were very successful in recruiting American agents using ideology. Like the Montes and Myers complaints, there is no indication in the Velazquez complaint that she had ever sought or accepted money from the Cuban intelligence service for her espionage activities. While Velazquez and Montes were both of Puerto Rican descent, Myers' recruitment shows that Cuban intelligence officers did not just confine their recruitment activity to Hispanics.

In addition to the Cuban preference for ideologically motivated agents, this case also shows that the Cuban intelligence service is very patient and is willing to wait years for the agents it recruits to move into sensitive positions within the U.S. government rather than just focus on immediate results. It took several years for Velazquez to get a job with access to Top Secret information. Although it must be recognized that this is often the case with ideologically motivated agents who are commonly recruited while students. It is also clear that Cuban espionage efforts against the United States did not end with the Cold War and continue to this day.   

Perhaps the most disturbing revelation from the Velazquez case for American counterintelligence officials, though, is the fact that Velazquez was not caught due to some operational mistake or intelligence coup. The only reason she was discovered is because of Montes' arrest and confession, which uncovered her activities. This means that her espionage tradecraft was solid for the nearly 18 years that she worked as a Cuban agent within the U.S. government. Furthermore, the background investigations conducted for the security clearances she held with the Department of Transportation and the Agency for International Development did not pick up on her anti-American sentiments -- even the "full field" investigation that would have been conducted prior to her being granted a Top Secret clearance. 

It is not surprising that the background investigations failed to uncover Velazquez's espionage activities. Background investigations often are seen as mundane tasks, and thus are not given high priority -- especially when there are so many other "real" cases to investigate. Furthermore, these investigations are most often done by contract investigators whose bureaucratic bosses emphasize speed over substance, meaning important leads are often ignored because of a case deadline. In fact, contractors who do attempt to dig deep are sometimes accused of trying to milk the system in an effort to acquire more points (the basis upon which contract investigators are paid) by running additional leads and interviewing additional people.

Quite frankly, when it comes to background investigations, the prevalent attitude is to do the minimum work necessary to check off the prerequisite boxes and get the investigation over as quickly -- and as superficially -- as possible. Background investigations have become perfunctory bureaucratic processes that lack the ability to uncover the type of information required to catch a spy who does not want to be caught. 

Velazquez would not have been required to pass a polygraph at the U.S. Agency for International Development like Montes had to at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Nevertheless, the portion of the indictment that discussed the training in deceiving the polygraph that Velazquez and Montes received during their first trip to Cuba underscores the limitation of polygraph examinations - they only work really well on honest people.

Finally, it is interesting to look at these Cuban cases in light of what they may tell us about the larger challenges facing U.S. counterintelligence officials. If a small, poor nation like Cuba can successfully recruit so many agents and place them in critical positions within the U.S. government for so long, what does this portend about the efforts and successes of larger or richer countries with aggressive intelligence agencies like China, Russia, Israel and India?

Read more: The Cuban Spy Network in the U.S. Government | Stratfor
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« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2014, 05:23:17 PM »
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« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2014, 05:32:26 PM »

 Unusual Social Unrest in Cuba
January 30, 2014 | 0532 Print Text Size
Unusual But Manageable Protests in Cuba
Fruit and vegetable vendors at a market in Havana in August 2013. (ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)

Two unusual instances of protests by private vendors in Cuba are a security concern for the island's leaders. The demonstrations likely occurred because Cuba began enforcing recently approved laws to regulate the island's nascent small businesses. The government cannot suppress these protests as easily as those instigated by political groups because the protesters seemingly do not have an organizational structure that authorities can simply infiltrate.

For now, it is unclear whether established political dissidents will be able to co-opt growing economic frustration. However, as the government continues to manage a complex campaign to slowly incorporate private economic activity into the economic system, there will continue to be pressure on the relationship between private entrepreneurs and the government. This natural tension will create further opportunities for public unrest, but the Cuban government will be proactive in its efforts to prevent a repeat of recent protests.


Several reports from media outside Cuba suggest that two notable instances of social unrest occurred when private vendors marched in separate protests in the Cuban cities of Holguin and Santa Clara. In Holguin, at least 100 vendors protested Jan. 21 near the municipal headquarters after municipal employees reportedly seized unspecified goods the vendors were selling in a public plaza. The Miami Herald claimed that the protesters threw rocks at police officers who came to disperse them. Marti Noticias reported Jan. 24 that 50 vendors selling wares near a hospital protested after being given 24 hours' notice to vacate an open-air market. Additionally, news site Cubanet released an unconfirmed report in October 2013 that claimed that vendors intended to hold a similar protest in Havana last November but that the government's security services thwarted it.

The reported protests are unusual because they involve vendors from the country's small businesses instead of the political opposition. Members of Cuba's anti-government political organizations frequently protest across the country, but protests that seemingly do not involve political dissidents are rare. However, Cuba's evolving economic management strategy is creating new social tensions, and though they were small, these two protests may herald a larger shift in public support for Cuban authorities.
The Cause of the Protests

The reason behind the protests seems to be the Cuban government's push to regulate the country's growing small businesses. Such enterprises expanded after Cuban President Raul Castro approved economic reforms in 2010 that allowed Cubans to legally own small businesses. Much of Cuba's previously illicit informal economy of private restaurants, small hotels and vendors registered with government authorities after Castro's decision. However, the rapid reform also created extensive areas of unregulated economic activity outside the state's control.

At the same time, however, illicit businesses have arisen alongside the newly licit. Local media reports have documented increased smuggling of goods from abroad for sale in Cuba. Others are reselling goods bought in state stores, and still others have continued to operate without government licenses and paying no taxes. Some firms were authorized to perform one specific economic activity but used the license to sell other services altogether -- licensed restaurants showing movies, for example. To counter this behavior, the government passed several laws regulating all private entrepreneurs legalized in the 2010 reforms.

New regulatory legislation that took effect in January sanctions most of the offenses reportedly committed by private businesses. The laws list the types of economic activity permitted by the state and the punishments for engaging in outlawed forms of business. The punishments prescribed by the laws range from verbal warnings to fines or imprisonment. According to Marti Noticias, municipal authorities enforcing some sanctions in these reforms sparked the Santa Clara protest.
Security Response

The protests present an unusual challenge for the Cuban government. Unlike the country's political groups, which tend to protest because of ideological opposition to the Castro government, private sector workers likely protested because the new laws threaten their livelihood. With these policies being enforced countrywide, there is a good chance that new sources of tensions between the public and the government are occurring throughout the island. Even when faced with the possibility of more unrest, the government cannot simply halt its enforcement of the laws and allow the private sector to grow unchecked. This dynamic is likely to cause further protests, and the government will use all its tools, including propaganda, intelligence assets and security forces, against them.

The Cuban government will direct its powerful security organizations against individuals and groups planning future protests. Its Intelligence Directorate maintains tight surveillance over opponents in the country, and the Interior Ministry and police forces traditionally have not hesitated to break up protests. Cuba appears in recent weeks to have relied on these security bodies to disrupt any planned demonstrations by private workers, and it will continue to do so. According to an opposition news site, police arrested 19 dissidents in Holguin after the Jan. 21 protest. Dozens of political opponents were also detained in Havana prior to a Latin American leaders' summit held Jan. 25-29. These measures will likely avert any widespread protest activity but cannot completely eliminate outbreaks of dissent.

The protests are not an immediate threat to the Cuban government, but it cannot afford to ignore them. With the country gradually preparing for a political transition, the leadership will attempt to forestall any complications, including domestic unrest. Because the protests involved only a few hundred people, they are unlikely to overwhelm Cuba's security apparatus. Therefore, further crackdowns on political groups and potential protesters can be expected.

Read more: Unusual Social Unrest in Cuba | Stratfor

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« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2014, 02:05:06 PM »

See #387 et seq
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« Reply #16 on: Today at 04:58:34 AM »
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« Reply #17 on: Today at 05:39:46 AM »

Peggy Noonan

 Dec. 18, 2014 6:49 p.m. ET

If a change in policy is in the American national interest, then it is a good idea. If it is not, then it is a bad idea, and something we should not do.

In another era that would be so obvious as not to bear repeating. But seeing to our national interests (just as we expect other nations to see to theirs) has been rather lost along the way by our leaders the past dozen years, and now sounds almost touchingly quaint.

But with that guiding principle, some questions on establishing new and closer ties with Cuba:

Was it ever in our nations interests to have, 90 miles off our shore, an avowed and active enemy?
Is it now in our nations interests to have, 90 miles off our shore, an avowed and active enemy?
Is it in the national interest to attempt to change this circumstance, if only gradually and hopefully, but with a sense that breaking the status quo might yield rewards?

Yes. If the new policy succeeds and leaves an old foe less active and avowed we will be better off, and its always possible, life being surprising, that well be much better off. If the policy fails well be no worse off than we were and can revert back to the old order, yanking out our embassy and re-erecting old barriers.

Great nations are like people. We get in habits of affection and enmity. What is needed is a practice of detached realism. Sometimes those for whom you have affection are disappointing. Sometimes those toward whom you feel enmity are, you realize, an essentially defeated foe, and a new attitude might be constructive. The key is to keep eyes sharp for changed situations, and adapt.

Fidel Castro is a bad man who took an almost-paradise and turned it into a floating prison. In replacing a dictatorship whose corruption was happily leavened by incompetence, he created a communist totalitarian state that made everything in his country worse. He robbed it of wealth, beauty and potential freedom. He was also a thorn and a threat to the United States, which he hated and moved against in myriad ways. He did all this for more than half a century.

Soon he will die, and his brother supposedly has taken his place. That is a changed situation.
Normalizing relations with Cuba will not, as Sen. Marco Rubio passionately put it in these pages, grant the Castro regime legitimacy.

Nothing can grant it legitimacy.

Fidel Castro ruined his country for a dead ideology and the whole world knows it. It may be closer to the truth to see the Castro brothers eagerness for normalization as an admission that theyre run out their string. Theyve lost everything that kept them alive, from the Soviet Union to once-oil-rich Venezuela. The Castro government is stuck. Their economy is nothing. They have no strength. They enjoy vestigial respect from certain quarters, but only vestigial. Theyve lost and they know it.
So why not move now?

Nothing magical will immediately follow normalization. The Castro brothers will not say, I cant believe it, free markets and democracy really are better, I had no idea! Nothing will make Cuba democratic overnight. But American involvement and presenceAmerican tourists and businessmen, American diplomats, American money, American ways and technologywill likely in time have a freeing effect. With increased contact a certain amount of good feeling will build. And that could make Cuba, within a generation or even less, a friend.
And that would be good for the American national interest, because its better to have a friend 90 miles away than an active and avowed enemy.

The opening to Cuba may also spark a re-Christianizing effect among a people whove been denied freedom of religious worship for generations. That would be good too, for them and us.
There is no reason to believe increased engagement between America and Cuba would encourage a post-Castro government to be more antagonistic or aggressive toward the U.S. More movement and commerce, including media presence, will not give that government more motive to embarrass itself by abusing and oppressing its people. As for the military, it wouldnt be long, with lifted embargoes, before captains in the Cuban army found out what managers in the new Hilton were making, and jumped into hotel services.
With a real opening, including lifted embargoes, all the pressure year by year would be toward more back-and-forth, greater prosperity, and more freedom squeaking in by Internet and television.

In a rising Cuba all the pressure will be toward freedom. It will not be toward dictatorship.

In America, attention has rightly been paid to the Cuban-Americans of Florida and their reaction. They were cruelly displaced by the communist regime and forced to flee Cuba. They lost everything, came here penniless, and through gifts and guts rose to economic and political power. The oldest, who came in 1960, feel bitternessand are loyal to that bitterness. Their children, a little less so, and the next generation less still. Because everything changes. You cant let a foreign policy be governed by bitterness even when that bitterness is legitimate. Advice to the U.S. government: Attempt in time to create some kind of U.S.-Cuban framework whereby those whose property was expropriated can reclaim it.

President Obamas opening seems so far cleverly done and well wired. He has major cover from the involvement of the most popular pope in recorded history, and also from the government of Canada, an ever-popular country whose prime minister, the sturdy, steady Stephen Harper , is the most quietly effective head of government in the Northern Hemisphere.
It is to be stipulated that the particulars of the deal will prove, on inspection, to be unimpressive, because Mr Obama was the negotiator. Fair enough, but he said when he first ran for president, in 2008, that he hoped for a new kind of engagement with Cuba, and he is producing it.

Something to watch out for: When an administration goes all in on a controversial policy it tends to spend most of its follow-up time not making sure the policy works but proving, through occasionally specious data and assertions, that it was the right policy. All who judge how the new opening proceeds will have to factor that in and see past it.

A closing note: I always thought, life often being unfair, that Fidel Castro would die the death of a happy monster, old, in bed, a cigar jutting out from the pillows, a brandy on the bedside table. My dream the past few years was that this tranquil end would be disturbed by this scene: American tourists jumping up and down outside his window, snapping pictures on their smartphones. American tourists flooding the island, befriending his people, doing business with them, showing in their attitude and through a million conversations which system is, actually, preferable. Castro sees them through the window. He grits his teeth so hard the cigar snaps off. Money and sentiment defeat his lifes work. He leaves the world knowing that in historys great game, he lost.
Open the doors, let America flood the zone and snap those pictures. Fidel! Look this way! Snap. Flash. Gone.
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