Dog Brothers Public Forum

DBMA Espanol => Espanol Discussion => Topic started by: Crafty_Dog on December 31, 2005, 06:23:25 PM

Title: Cuba
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 31, 2005, 06:23:25 PM
Hijole, otra vez en ingles :oops:

Counting Castro's Victims

December 30, 2005; Page A17

"On May 27, [1966,] 166 Cubans -- civilians and members of the military -- were executed and submitted to medical procedures of blood extraction of an average of seven pints per person. This blood is sold to Communist Vietnam at a rate of $50 per pint with the dual purpose of obtaining hard currency and contributing to the Vietcong Communist aggression.

"A pint of blood is equivalent to half a liter. Extracting this amount of blood from a person sentenced to death produces cerebral anemia and a state of unconsciousness and paralysis. Once the blood is extracted, the person is taken by two militiamen on a stretcher to the location where the execution takes place."

-- InterAmerican Human Rights Commission, April 7, 1967

This weekend marks the 47th anniversary of the triumph of the "26th of July Movement," which many Cubans expected would return their country to a constitutional government. Fidel Castro had other ideas of course, and within weeks he hijacked the victory, converting the country into one of the most repressive states in modern history.

Waiting for Fidel to die has become a way of life in Cuba in the past decade. Conventional wisdom holds that the totalitarian regime will hang on even after the old man kicks the bucket. But that hasn't stopped millions from dreaming big about life in a Fidel-free Cuba.

Cuban reconciliation won't come easy, even if Fidel's ruthless, money-grubbing little brother Raul is somehow pushed aside. One painful step in the process will require facing the truth of all that has gone on in the name of social justice. As the report cited above shows, it is bound to be a gruesome tale.

The Cuba Archive project ( has already begun the heavy lifting by attempting to document the loss of life attributable to revolutionary zealotry. The project, based in Chatham, N.J., covers the period from May 1952 -- when the constitutional government fell to Gen. Fulgencio Batista -- to the present. It has so far verified the names of 9,240 victims of the Castro regime and the circumstances of their deaths. Archive researchers meticulously insist on confirming stories of official murder from two independent sources.

Cuba Archive President Maria Werlau says the total number of victims could be higher by a factor of 10. Project Vice President Armando Lago, a Harvard-trained economist, has spent years studying the cost of the revolution and he estimates that almost 78,000 innocents may have died trying to flee the dictatorship. Another 5,300 are known to have lost their lives fighting communism in the Escambray Mountains (mostly peasant farmers and their children) and at the Bay of Pigs. An estimated 14,000 Cubans were killed in Fidel's revolutionary adventures abroad, most notably his dispatch of 50,000 soldiers to Angola in the 1980s to help the Soviet-backed regime fight off the Unita insurgency.

The archive project can be likened to the 1999 "Black Book of Communism," which documented the world-wide cost of communism, noting that "wherever the millenarian ideology of Communism was established it quickly led to crime, terror and repression." The Castro methodology, Cuba Archive finds, was much like that used in Poland and East Germany, less lethal than Stalin's purges, but equally effective in suppressing opposition.

In the earliest days of the revolution, summary executions established a culture of fear that quickly eliminated most resistance. In the decades that followed, inhumane prison conditions often leading to death, unspeakable torture and privation were enough to keep Cubans cowed.

Cuba Archive finds that some 5,600 Cubans have died in front of firing squads and another 1,200 in "extrajudicial assassinations." Che Guevara was a gleeful executioner at the infamous La Caba?a Fortress in 1959 where, under his orders, at least 151 Cubans were lined up and shot. Children have not been spared. Of the 94 minors whose deaths have been documented by Cuba Archive, 22 died by firing squad and 32 in extrajudicial assassinations.

Fifteen-year-old Owen Delgado Temprana was beaten to death in 1981 when security agents stormed the embassy of Ecuador where his family had taken refuge. In 1995, 17-year-old Junior Flores D?az died after being locked in a punishment cell in a Havana province prison and denied medical attention. He was found in a pool of vomit and blood. Many prison deaths are officially marked as "heart attacks," but witnesses tell another story. The project has documented 2,199 prison deaths, mostly political prisoners.

The revolution boasts of its gender equality, and that's certainly true for its victims. Women have not fared much better than men. In 1961, 25-year-old Lydia P?rez L?pez was eight months pregnant when a prison guard kicked her in the stomach. She lost her baby and, without medical attention, bled to death. A 70-year-old woman named Edmunda Serrat Barrios was beaten to death in 1981 in a Cuban jail. Cuba Archive has documented 219 female deaths including 11 firing squad executions and 20 extrajudicial assassinations.

The heftiest death toll is among those trying to flee. Many have been killed by state security. Three Lazo children drowned in 1971 when a Cuban navy vessel rammed their boat; their mother, Mrs. Alberto Lazo Pastrana, was eaten by sharks. Twelve children -- ages six months to 11 years -- drowned along with 33 others when the Cuban coast guard sank their boat in 1994. Four children -- ages three to 17 -- drowned in the famous Canimar River massacre along with 52 others when the Cuban navy and a Cuban air force plane attacked a hijacked excursion boat headed for Florida in 1980.

The horror of that event cost one more life: After visiting survivors in the Matanzas hospitals, the famous revolutionary guerrilla Hayd?e Santamar?a, already in despair over the massive, inhumane boat exodus from the Port of Mariel, killed herself. That was a tragic admission of both the cost and failure of the revolution. The only riddle left is how, 25 years later, so-called "human rights" advocates like Argentine President Nestor Kirchner still embrace the Castro regime.
Title: Cuba
Post by: LazMartinez on January 02, 2006, 04:54:07 PM
   Vente mil gracias por esto.   Pero debes tener cuidado, vives en California y me imagino que los "pul?veres" (Camisetas) con el imagen de Che Guevara son muy muy popular por ah?.  Lo voy a tener que encontrar otra vez pero hay una compa??a que vende camisetas de el mismo imagen, dentro de un c?rculo con una raya, como los que se usan para decir "No fume"  

Title: Cuba
Post by: LazMartinez on January 02, 2006, 05:00:57 PM
Y aqu? est? el enlace para la camiseta:

Title: Cuba
Post by: LazMartinez on January 02, 2006, 05:14:07 PM
Y una cosa mas.  :D

Si alguien quiere ver un documental buenisimo sobre la gente que se han escapado de Cuba en lanchas, deben ver/alquilar/comprar "Balseros"  Fue hecho por una compania de Cataluna entonces debe ser facil conseguir para los espanoles.  


  Desculpeme por no usar diacriticos, estoy aprendiendo la sistema de operacion nueva que tengo, y no he eoncontrado una manera facil.
Title: Cuba
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 02, 2006, 05:30:26 PM

1) ?Que quiere decir "diacritico"?

2) Por pura coincidencia me la compre' la camiseta de Reagan que se ve en esa pagina dos horas antes de que se murio.
Title: Cuba
Post by: LazMartinez on January 03, 2006, 12:14:54 AM
Un diacritico es un "accent mark".  Tambien se conoce en ingles como un "Diacritic".  

Title: Cuba
Post by: LazMartinez on August 01, 2006, 05:28:09 AM
Bueno, que dice la gente sobre lo que esta pasando con Fidel y Raul?  

Title: Cuba
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 04, 2006, 08:12:58 PM
Cuba: Where's Raul?

Five days have passed since Cuban leader Fidel Castro handed power to his younger brother Raul. But Raul is nowhere to be seen, and rumors are flying about the fate of the Communist regime. Raul's mysterious absence could simply be a trial period to flush out dissidents and smooth out the succession.


Revolutionary Cuban leader Fidel Castro shook the world when he announced July 30 that his younger brother, Raul Castro, who also is head of the Cuban armed forces, would run the island nation while Fidel underwent major surgery for intestinal bleeding. "Raul is firmly at the helm of the nation and the armed forces," Granma, the Communist Party newspaper in Cuba, reported Aug. 4; yet the 75-year-old brother has yet to give a public address to the nation.

The absence of the brothers has led to speculation that a military coup could be under way in Havana. While Raul, the muscle behind the Castro regime, has done an exemplary job of purging it of potential threats, there exist a number of dissidents who have been anxiously waiting for the Cuban dictator to pass away so they can obtain control of the country at long last. The Cuban military has mobilized, and communications between the island and the outside world have been shut down. Though the eerie silence in Cuba has led many observers to believe the Castro regime has been overthrown, the strong backing Raul receives from the Cuban army contradicts this theory.

This would not be the first time in history that an ailing leader has been propped up for an extensive period of time while a political transition takes place. Fidel is already dead or likely close to death -- gastrointestinal bleeding is no joke, especially for a nearly 80-year-old man whose diet for most of his life has consisted of Cohiba cigars and fine rum. While "El Comandante" approaches death, Raul's disappearance may be meant to create the illusion of a leadership vacuum as the Cuban regime waits to see if anyone moves to fill it. Only a limited number in the Cuban hierarchy are privy to the plans for succession, and when those in charge detect who is and isn't loyal to the post-Fidel regime, a major crackdown will ensue. The Cubans are particularly implacable against those who they suspect are traitors -- witness the 1989 trial and execution of legendary Cuban Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa Sanchez. When the coast is clear, Raul may very well come out and address the nation to announce the death of his brother and take up the leadership mantle.

The United States, meanwhile, will quietly wish for a peaceful transition under Raul's command. The last thing Washington needs is for chaos to erupt in Cuba and spread to Miami during election season. A concern running through many minds in Washington is whether or not the U.S. government will be able to handle the repercussions of Cuban exiles making a run for Guantanamo Bay, where a number of al Qaeda detainees are locked up.

Raul may be camera shy, but pressure is building for him to make an appearance. Meanwhile, we will be keeping an eye on Fidel's revolutionary buddy, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who would be exhibiting unusual behavior if the Castro regime were truly dealing with an internal rebellion. So far, Chavez has been giving off an air of tranquility, which raises the question: When will Raul finish his dirty work and come out of hiding?
Title: Re: Cuba
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 08, 2006, 03:13:23 PM
Cuba After Castro
By George Friedman

It is now apparent that Fidel Castro is dying. He is 80 years old, so that should not be surprising. The Cubans are managing his death as if it were a state secret -- hiding the self-evident -- but that is the nature of the regime, as it is the nature of many governments. The question on the table is whether the Cuban government can survive Castro's death -- and in either case, what course Cuba will follow.

The Communist regime, as we have known it, cannot possibly survive Castro's death. To be sure, Fidel's brother Raul will take over leadership; the Cuban Communist Party, the military and intelligence system, and the government ministries will continue to rule. But the regime that Castro created will be dead. It will be dead because Castro will be dead, and whatever survives him cannot be called the same regime. It will have been fundamentally transformed.

Fidel Castro's departure from the stage, then, leads to two questions. First, what will the future hold for Cuba? And second, will that matter to anyone other than the Cubans?

The Death of a Dream

Under Fidel, the Cuban regime had an end beyond itself. Fidel believed -- and, much more significantly, enough of his citizens and international supporters believed -- that the purpose of the regime was not only to transform life in Cuba but, more important, to revolutionize Latin America and the rest of the Third World and confront American imperialism with the mobilized masses of the globe. Fidel did not rule for the sake of ruling. He ruled for the sake of revolution.

Raul was a functionary of the Castro regime, as were the others who now will step into the tremendous vacuum that Fidel will leave. For Raul and others of his class, the Cuban regime was an end in itself. Their goal was to keep it functioning. Fidel dreamed of using the regime to reshape the world. His minions, including his brother, may once have had dreams, but for a very long time their focus has been on preserving the regime and their power, come what may.

Therefore, on the day that Fidel Castro dies, the regime he created will die with him and a new regime of functionaries will come into existence. That regime will not be able to claim the imaginations of the disaffected and the politically ambitious around the world. The difference between the old and the new in Cuba is the difference between Josef Stalin and Leonid Brezhnev. It is not a difference in moral character but of imagination. Stalin was far more than a functionary. He was, in his own way, a visionary -- and was seen by his followers around the world as a visionary. When the Soviet Union fell into the hands of Brezhnev, it fell into the hands of a functionary. Stalin served a vision; Brezhnev served the regime. Stalin ruled absolutely; Brezhnev ruled by committee and consensus. Stalin was far more than the state and party apparatus; Brezhnev was far less.

Brezhnev's goal was preserving the Soviet state. There were many reasons for the fall of the Soviet Union, but at the core, the fact that mere survival had become its highest aim was what killed it. The Soviets still repeated lifelessly the Leninist and Stalinist slogans, but no one believed them -- and no one thought for one moment that Brezhnev believed them.

It has been many years since Fidel's vision had any real possibility of coming true. Certainly, it has had little meaning since the fall of the Soviet Union. In some ways, the death of Che Guevara in Bolivia was the end. But regardless of when the practical possibilities of Cuba had dissolved, Fidel Castro continued to believe that the original vision was still possible. More important, his followers believed that he believed, and therefore, they believed. No one can believe in Raul Castro's vision. Thus, the era that began in 1959 is ending.

The ascent of Raul raises the question of what hope there is for Cuba.

Fidel promised tremendous economic improvements, along with Cuba's place in the vanguard of the revolution. The vanguard now has disintegrated, and the economic improvements never came in the ways promised. When Fidel took power, he argued that it was economic relations with the imperialists that impoverished Cuba. By the end of his rule, he had come to argue that it was the lack of economic relations with the imperialists that impoverished Cuba -- that the American embargo had strangled the country. That was absurd: Cuba could trade with Canada, the rest of Latin America, Europe, Asia and wherever it wanted. It was not locked out of the world. It wasn't even locked out of the United States, since third parties would facilitate trade. But then, Fidel was always persuasive, even when completely incoherent. That was the foundation of his strength: He believed deeply in what he said, and those who listened believed as well. Fidel was writing poems, not economic analysis, and that kept anyone from looking too closely at the details.

Now, the poetry is ending, and the detail men and bean-counters are in charge. They don't know any poems -- and while they can charge the United States with bearing the blame for all of the revolution's failures, it is not the same as if Fidel were doing it. Regimes do not survive by simple brute strength. There have to be those who believe. Stalin had his believers, as did Hitler and Saddam Hussein. But who believes in Raul and his committees? Certainly, the instruments of power are in their hands, as they were in the hands of other communist rulers whose regimes collapsed. But holding the instruments of power is not, over time, enough. It is difficult to imagine the regime of functionaries surviving very long. Without Fidel, there is little to hope for.

A Question of Control

The future of Cuba once meant a great deal to the international system. Once, there was nearly a global thermonuclear war over Cuba. But that was more than 40 years ago, and the world has changed. The question now is whether the future of Cuba matters to anyone but the Cubans.

Geopolitically, the most important point about Cuba is that it is an island situated 90 miles from the coast of the United States -- now the world's only superpower. Cuba was a Spanish colony until the Spanish-American war, and then was either occupied or dominated by the United States and American interests until the rise of Castro. Its history, therefore, is defined first by its relationship with Spain and then by its relationship to the United States.

From the U.S. standpoint, Cuba is always a geographical threat. If the Mississippi River is the great highway of American agriculture and New Orleans its great port to the world, then Cuba sits directly athwart New Orleans' access to the world. There is no way for ships from New Orleans to exit the Gulf of Mexico into the Atlantic Ocean but to traverse two narrow channels on either side of Cuba -- the Yucatan channel, between Cuba's western coast and the Yucatan; or the Straits of Florida, between the island's northern coast and Florida. If these two channels were closed, U.S. agricultural and mineral exports and imports would crumble. Not only New Orleans, but all of the Gulf Coast ports like Houston, would be shut in.

Cuba does not have the size or strength in and of itself to close those channels. But should another superpower control Cuba, the threat would become real and intolerable. The occupation of Cuba by a foreign power -- whether Spain, Germany, Russia or others -- would pose a direct geopolitical threat to the United States. Add to that the possibility that missiles could be fired from Cuba to the United States, and we can see what Washington sees there. It is not Cuba that is a threat, but rather a Cuba that is allied with or dominated by a foreign power challenging the United States globally. Therefore, the Americans don't much care who runs Cuba, so long as Cuba is not in a politico-military alliance with another power.

Under Spain, there was a minor threat. But prior to World War II, German influence in Cuba was a real concern. And Castro's Communist revolution and alliance with the Soviet Union were seen by the United States as a mortal threat. It was not Cuban ideology (though that was an irritant) nearly so much as Cuba's geopolitical position and the way it could be exploited by other great powers that obsessed the United States. When the Soviet Union went away, so did the American obsession. Now, Washington's Cuba policy is merely a vestige from a past era.

Without a foreign sponsor, Cuba is geopolitically impotent. It cannot threaten U.S. sea-lanes. It cannot be a base for nuclear weapons to be used against the United States. Its regime cannot be legitimized by the fact that the international system is focused on it. That means that since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Cubans, under Castro, have been trying to make themselves useful to major powers. Havana approached the Chinese, and they didn't bite. The Russians may be interested in the future, but they have their hands full in their own neighborhood right now. Countries like North Korea and Iran are in no position to exploit the opportunity.

The Cubans have had to content themselves with playing midwife to the leftist movements in Venezuela and Bolivia. The Latin American left in general continues to take its inspiration from Fidel's Cuba. Now, this does not create a new geopolitical reality, but it does create the possibility of one, which is what Fidel has been working on. If Fidel dies, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia are not going to turn to Raul for inspiration and legitimacy. Rather, Raul is going to be looking to Venezuela for cheap oil, while Chavez claims the place of Fidel as the leader of the Latin American left.

So, if Cuba is no longer to be the center of the Latin American revolutionary left, then what is it? It will become an island of occasional strategic importance -- though not important at the moment -- with a regime of functionaries as inspiring as a Bulgarian Party Congress in 1985. Cuba with Fidel was the hope of the Latin American left. Cuba without Fidel is tedious method, a state with a glorious past and a dubious future.

Past as Prologue

Certainly, Raul and his colleagues have superb instruments with which to stabilize Cuban security, but these are no better than the instruments that Romania and East Germany had. Those instruments will work for a while, but not permanently. For the regime to survive, Cuba must transform its economic life, but to do that, it risks the survival of the regime -- for the regime's control of the economy is one of the instruments of stability. Raul is not a man who is about to redefine the country, but he must try.

We are, therefore, pessimistic about the regime's ability to survive. Or more precisely, we do not believe that the successor regime -- communism without Fidel -- can hold on for very long. Raul Castro now is reaching out to the United States, but contrary to the Cuban mythology, the United States cannot solve Cuba's problems by ending the trade embargo. The embargo is a political gesture, not a functioning reality. End it or keep it, the Cuban problem is Cuba -- and without Fidel, the Cubans will have to face that fact.
Title: Re: Cuba
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 26, 2006, 08:39:49 AM
Pues, con la ausencia de contribuciones en espanol, sigo con lo que tengo en ingles:

Che, Cuba and Christmas
Target becomes a target of the Guevara myth.

Monday, December 25, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

Until last Thursday Christmas shoppers at Target department stores could purchase a 24-CD carrying case decorated with the image of Che Guevara. When I heard about it, I wondered why the retailer would want to promote the memory of a mass murderer. What's next, I asked, when I spoke with a representative of the company on Wednesday, Pol Pot pajamas?

Late Wednesday evening Target sent me this statement: "It is never our intent to offend any of our guests through the merchandise we carry. We have made the decision to remove this item from our shelves and we sincerely apologize for any discomfort this situation may have caused our guests."

That it took only a day for Target to make that admirable decision suggests that at least someone at the company knows who Guevara was and what Cuba is today thanks in part to him. The misstep, though, probably occurred because others at the company allowed Target to become a target itself of the Che myth.

Guevara is not just a dead white guy from a well-to-do family who terrorized a racially mixed nation and executed hundreds of innocents in the late 1950s and 1960s. He is also a symbol of the totalitarian regime that persists in Cuba, which still practices his ideology of intolerance, hatred and repression. It is not the torture and killing alone that make the tragedy. That only describes the methodology. Guevara's wider goal--to forcibly strip a population of its soul and spirit--is what is truly frightening and deplorable. Christians, who celebrate the birth of their Savior today, have particularly suffered under Guevara's dream of revolution, which has lasted since 1959.
The fear under which Cubans have lived for 48 years was fathered by the merciless Che Guevara. The unhappy Argentine Marxist met Fidel Castro in Mexico in 1955 and later became a rebel commander. "The Black Book of Communism," published in 1999 by Harvard University Press, notes that early in his career Guevara earned a "reputation for ruthlessness; a child in his guerrilla unit who had stolen a little food was immediately shot without trial." In his will, the book says, "this graduate of the school of terror praised the 'extremely useful hatred that turns men into effective, violent, merciless and cold killing machines.' "

Peruvian-born Alvaro Vargas Llosa penned his own book this year titled "The Che Guevara Myth." Mr. Vargas Llosa documents a twisted life, such as when Che shot a comrade and made the following entry in his diary: "I ended the problem with a .32 caliber pistol, in the right side of his brain. . . . His belongings were now mine." After that, Mr. Vargas Llosa says, Guevara shot "a peasant who expressed the desire to leave whenever the rebels moved on." Guevara also liked to simulate executions, as a form of torture. "At every stage of his adult life, his megalomania manifested itself in the predatory urge to take over other people's lives and property, and to abolish their free will."

Guevara was an architect of Cuba's forced labor camps, which by 1965 were transformed into concentration camps for dissidents, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Cubans of other religious sects, homosexuals and later people with AIDS,.

All independent thought that refused to worship the communist state was an affront to Guevara. Christians were an especially difficult lot. From the earliest days after Castro took power, Che sent hundreds of men to face firing squads at the Havana prison known as La Cabaña. His victims could be heard at dawn loudly crying "Long live Christ the King, down with communism," just before the rifle shots rang out.

Thousands of Cubans have perished in daring attempts to get off the island because they preferred the risks of flight to a life in which Christianity has been forbidden, children are the property of the state, thought is policed, and spying on your neighbor is one of the few ways to earn a living. During the Mariel boatlift in 1980, witnesses told of families arriving at the pier together only to be separated by Cuban guards who enjoyed watching their misery. Weeping mothers faced the point of a gun while their distraught sons and daughters were forced to board ships. This Christmas thousands of Cuban-Americans will remember their loved ones who didn't make it out or died trying.

Defenders of Guevara can't even claim that his cruelty brought about equality. Today state policy makes it a crime for the raggedly dressed, malnourished and mostly black Cuban people to visit the beaches, museums and amply stocked stores of their own country, while well-fed tourists in fashionable cruise-wear go where they like. This amounts to de facto apartheid.

Amazingly, hope is still alive in Cuba. One reason is because although Guevara was able to kill a lot of Christians, neither he nor his successors succeeded in wiping out Christianity. The struggling Christian community, which takes seriously the religious teaching to reject fear in the face of evil, is playing a key role in the island's dissident movement.
An icon of the Christian resistance is Oscar Elias Biscet, a black physician who is serving a 25-year sentence for his peaceful activism against the regime. He has been arrested more than 26 times since he began to express his dissent; he has been beaten, tortured and locked in tiny windowless cells for days on end. Hundreds of other prisoners of conscience are in jail, under atrocious conditions; many are also devout Christians.

The Christian faith has survived Che and Fidel and decades of brainwashing. It is battered but has not been defeated. Raul Castro fears it--which is why he takes Bibles away from his unbreakable prisoners. The moral of the story seems to be that even the all-powerful regime cannot stop Christmas from coming to Cuba.

Ms. O'Grady edits the Americas column, which appears in The Wall Street Journal Fridays.

Title: Re: Cuba
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 13, 2007, 07:00:58 AM
Lo siguiente es del WSJ Online de hoy 
Reach Out To Cuba's People
January 13, 2007; Page A13

With Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting Venezuela today, it might be a good time to consider another "change in course" for U.S. policy. The isolation of Cuba, a legacy of the Cold War, is pushing that country closer to America's most dangerous enemies.

In a recent open letter to President Bush, several major Cuban dissident groups called for an end to U.S. restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba. Now joining their call is the Miami-based Cuban Consensus, a coalition of 20 pro-democracy groups including the "hard-line" Cuban-American National Foundation. The advocates for the current policy -- chiefly three intransigent Cuban-American representatives in Congress -- are increasingly alone.

If we don't lift the travel and remittance restrictions now, it is not just the Cuban people who stand to suffer. Allowing Cuba to slip further under the influence of Venezuela's newly reelected Hugo Chávez, the proud new ally of Iran, would be terrible for the U.S.

These restrictions are regulatory, which means that the president could eliminate them tomorrow. But the Helms-Burton law freezes the larger economic embargo in place until the communist regime dismantles its security apparatus and calls for free elections -- and until both Raúl and Fidel Castro are gone. With the changing of the guard in Havana, there will be opportunities for incremental reform. The new Congress must amend Helms-Burton to give the president the flexibility he will need to seize them.

Any major opening -- such as diplomatic talks or relaxation of the embargo -- should be conditioned on Cuba's release of political prisoners, economic reforms, freedom of speech and a dismantling of the neighborhood spy system that has driven Cuban society into such a heartbreaking state of paranoia. But Helms-Burton's rigid, all-or-nothing approach creates no incentive for Cuba's communists to undertake even the most minor reform.

For many supporters of the current policy, isolating Cuba has become almost an end in itself. Nothing could be more perverse. If Cuban culture is exposed to globalization, it will fuel yearning for the freedoms of modernity. If we expand diplomatic contact, we will begin to discover allies within the regime. Allowing Cuba to join the international trade and finance system (which U.S. law largely prevents) will multiply the incentives to liberalize. By isolating Cuba and driving it into the arms of Hugo Chávez, the only real beneficiaries are communist hard-liners -- and their patrons.

Cuba's communist regime has two conflicting needs -- isolation and money. Ending isolation will rebuild the bridges between Cubans and their most natural allies -- the American people. It would also likely expose Cubans to the political and commercial culture of one of the most spectacularly successful immigrant communities in the U.S. -- that of their exiled family members in Miami.

Relaxing the flow of funds from the U.S. would also turn a communist need to our advantage. The more Cuba depends financially on the U.S., the more leverage we will gain in pushing for economic and political reform. Cutting the regime off from sources of financing may have made sense after the fall of the Soviet Union, when Cuba had nowhere else to turn. But now it has Venezuela.

With Fidel Castro's removal from power and imminent demise, the key obstacle to reform within the regime has disappeared. A new generation of bureaucrats now has a chance to gain influence. Many of today's younger "communists" are less interested in the Revolution than in maintaining stability -- and much less interested in Venezuela's patronage than in normalizing relations with the U.S. For Cuba's proud armed forces, the prospect of becoming servants to Mr. Chávez is not attractive. Unfortunately, U.S. stubbornness leaves them little choice.

Cuba's increasing dependence on Mr. Chávez is dangerous for the U.S. Venezuela uses oil money to fuel a global campaign against America. Venezuelan intelligence services set up shop wherever they can in Latin America to eradicate government officials educated in the U.S. or suspected of pro-American sympathies. Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua are falling firmly into Venezuela's orbit. And throughout the Non-Aligned Movement, Mr. Chávez trades oil money for diplomatic support against the U.S. in a new kind of Cold War. Worse, after his recent election victory, Mr. Chávez seems to be claiming a mandate for an even more stridently Castroist and anti-American position -- all of which will influence the direction of the Cuban regime.

Looming on the horizon is an even greater threat. Iran's intelligence services -- perhaps the most prolific and sophisticated terrorist organization in the world -- use diplomatic channels to build their network. And there are clear indications of a renewed Hezbollah effort in South America. Thus Venezuela's new alliance with Iran represents a grave danger to the whole hemisphere. Venezuela is already putting enormous pressure on Cuba to expand its ties with Iran; an Iranian foothold just 90 miles from our own shores would be a catastrophic setback in the war on terror.

Relaxing Cuba's isolation would help diminish a gathering threat to national security, and bring hope to Cubans everywhere that the long tragedy of communism and exile may finally be coming to an end.

Mr. Loyola is a Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Title: Posada
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 20, 2007, 06:55:32 AM
El New York Times de hoy:

A 79-year-old anti-Castro Cuban exile and former C.I.A. operative linked to the bombing of a Cuban airliner was released on bail yesterday and immediately returned to Miami to await trial on immigration fraud charges.

A billboard in Havana bears a likeness of Luis Posada Carriles and reads, “Cuba declares him guilty” in the bombing of a Cuban jetliner in 1976.
The man, Luis Posada Carriles, was released from the Otero County Prison in Chaparral, N.M., after posting a $350,000 bond on the immigration charges.

His release infuriated the authorities in Cuba and Venezuela, who have been trying to extradite him to stand trial over the 1976 airliner bombing, which killed 73 people, including several teenage members of Cuba’s national fencing team.

The United States Justice Department had tried unsuccessfully to prevent his release, arguing that his escape from a Venezuelan prison in 1985 increased the risk that he might flee before the scheduled start of his trial on immigration charges on May 11.

The court rejected the Justice Department’s argument, but it increased security measures by ordering Mr. Posada to be fitted with an ankle bracelet to track his whereabouts. He was ordered to remain under house detention with his wife in Miami until the immigration trial begins.

Mr. Posada, a gray-haired former intelligence operative and United States Army officer, has been detained since May 2005, when he entered the United States illegally.

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela said Thursday in Caracas, “We demand that they extradite that terrorist and murderer to Venezuela, instead of protecting him.”

Dagoberto Rodríguez Barrera, the chief of the Cuban Interests Section, Cuba’s diplomatic representation in Washington, told Agence France-Presse yesterday, “Cuba forcefully condemns this decision and holds the government of the United States totally responsible for the fact that Posada Carriles is free in Miami.”

Prensa Latina, the Cuban news agency, reported last night that 50,000 people had gathered at a demonstration in Bayamo, a city in southeastern Cuba, to protest the release of Mr. Posada and to demand that he be tried for the jetliner bombing.

The Cuban government has also accused Mr. Posada, an avowed opponent of the island’s Communist rule, of plotting to assassinate the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, in Panama in 2000, and of planning a series of explosions in tourist hotels in Havana in 1997.

Mr. Posada was jailed in Panama in connection with the attempt on Mr. Castro’s life but was later pardoned by Panamanian officials. He admitted, then later denied, that he had directed the wave of hotel bombings in 1997.

He has also repeatedly denied responsibility for the bombing of the plane, known as Cubana Airlines Flight 455. The jet blew apart and crashed off the coast of Barbados on Oct. 6, 1976.

Investigators in Venezuela, where Mr. Posada had been chief of operations in the secret intelligence police, traced at least one of the bombs to the plane’s luggage compartment. The investigators found that two Venezuelans had checked bags through to Havana but got off the plane at a scheduled stop in Barbados.

The men had worked for Mr. Posada, who was arrested in Venezuela and charged with the bombing. He escaped from prison in 1985 dressed as a priest after associates bribed a guard.

Cuban officials have accused the United States of hypocrisy in battling terrorists by not prosecuting Mr. Posada or deporting him to stand trial on terrorism charges in another country. They routinely refer to Mr. Posada as “the bin Laden of the Americas.”

Mr. Posada’s shadowy past as a Central Intelligence Agency operative put the United States in a politically delicate position. In his early years, he had received military training in the United States and worked for the C.I.A. to bring down the Castro government. He participated in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Later he was involved in supplying arms to rebels in Nicaragua.

The United States has acknowledged his long record of violent acts. In court papers filed in his immigration fraud case, the Justice Department described him as “an unrepentant criminal and admitted mastermind of terrorist plots.”

Mr. Posada was detained in 2005 after he entered the United States on false pretenses. According to an indictment unsealed this year, he lied when he told border officials he had paid a smuggler to drive him from Mexico to Texas. He actually entered the country on a small boat. He also lied about using an alias.

An immigration judge has blocked Mr. Posada’s extradition to Cuba or Venezuela, ruling that he could be subject to torture in those countries. Efforts to deport him to another country have failed because so far no other country has been willing to take him.

His arrival in Miami yesterday afternoon set off mixed reactions among the area’s many Cuban exiles, who see him as both a patriot and an embarrassment.

“We have been fighting this war on terror, and here we are releasing a man who has a history of terrorist acts and is a fugitive of justice in other countries,” said Elena Freyre, executive director of the Cuban-American Defense League, a moderate exile group in Miami. “It’s absolutely appalling.”

But Miguel Saavedra, president of Vigilia Mambisa, a small, hard-line anti-Castro exile group, said he felt vindicated by Mr. Posada’s release on bail.

“The only ones accusing him are the governments of Cuba and Venezuela,” Mr. Saavedra said. “They can only accuse him because they haven’t been able to prove anything. If he is sent to Cuba or Venezuela, it would be the equivalent of executing him.”

Terry Aguayo contributed reporting from Miami.
Title: Re: Cuba
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 30, 2007, 08:06:16 AM
Cuban Tremors
July 30, 2007; Page A12

Cuba is not an island known for earthquakes, but "temporary" dictator Raúl Castro's speech to the nation last Thursday provides the clearest evidence yet that the tectonic plates underpinning the political status quo are shifting and perhaps even colliding.

Even the best Cuba experts who follow its politics closely caution against making predictions. But what seems evident from Raúl's language is that the government can no longer ignore the enormous suffering caused by a deteriorating economy. This crisis, together with the loss of Fidel Castro's charismatic political leadership, has left the regime in uncharted waters and perhaps even fearful.

Thursday's event was the annual celebration of the July 26 Movement, which commemorates the first armed assault on the Batista dictatorship by rebels in 1953. Normally Fidel gives this speech, but he hasn't been seen in public in about a year -- though he has been videotaped -- and there is speculation that the absences are due largely to a decline in his mental capacity. Whatever the truth, Raúl, who hasn't a shred of his older brother's charisma, has had to pick up the slack in public appearances before an increasingly dissatisfied population. At the same time he has had to run the secretive totalitarian machine, which may be beginning to experience its own internal strife.

In many ways the speech, delivered in the east-central city of Camagüey, was standard-fare Castrista rambling about the glories of the Revolution and the need to defend it forever, the ugliness and injustices of the "empire" (the U.S.) and its embargo, and the wonders of El Maximo Lider and socialism. But on matters of the economy Raúl seemed to break ranks and signal that he knows things cannot go on the way they are. A less sympathetic view is that the speech was crafted to calm down a population at the breaking point due to privation.

As he has done before, Raúl complained about the low productivity of the Cuban worker and tried hard to stir national pride toward improving the record. Yet there were moments when he seemed to be acknowledging that the system doesn't work. "We are duty-bound," he proclaimed, "to question everything we do as we strive to materialize our will more and more perfectly, to change concepts and methods which were appropriate at one point but have been surpassed by life itself." In other words, which were surpassed by reality.

He also recognized the problem of low wages, linking them to low productivity. He noted that the average Cuban salary, less than $20 a month, is "clearly insufficient to meet all the needs, so that it practically ceased to fulfill the socialist principle that each contribute according to his abilities and receive according to his work." Whether intentional or not, that reference to Marx is not quite right. The father of communism called for each to receive according to his "need" while Raúl suggests it should be according to his input. He also contemplated "incentives" for producers. Somebody is wandering off the reservation.

It is not insignificant that he said that Cuba has "not yet come out of the Special Period." That term was supposed to apply to "temporary" adjustments in policy designed in 1992 to help the country overcome the hardship caused by the end of Soviet financing. This included inviting foreign investment, allowing the operation of farmers' markets and some small businesses and the legalization of the U.S. dollar. It is widely agreed that Raúl and his friends in the military championed these changes while Fidel went along grudgingly. Fidel Castro subsequently withdrew many of those privileges, and more than 16 years later the dire economic circumstances continue. Even Venezuelan financing to the tune of $1 billion-$2 billion a year has not reversed the decline.

This is why Raúl's references to foreign investment on Thursday are intriguing. "We are currently studying the possibility of securing more foreign investment, of the kind that can provide us with capital, technology or markets," he told the nation. This is a clear reference to the China model of economic liberalization, which Raúl has long advocated for Cuba.

None of this is to suggest that Fidel's little brother, known for his ruthlessness, dreams of a freer Cuba. As the regime's most bloodthirsty enforcer, he has been at the forefront of a renewed wave of repression -- some say orchestrated in anticipation of Fidel's passing -- that began in March-April 2003 with a nationwide crackdown on dissidents. Seventy-five of those arrested were handed sentences averaging more than 20 years; state security attacks on government critics have since escalated, according to the Cuban Directorio in Miami, which tracks such incidents.

But the man is desperate. He cannot put the whole island in jail, and with food and milk shortages growing, it may become increasingly difficult to keep the lid on things. As Armando Valladares, a former political prisoner who spent 22 years in Castro gulags told me in an interview last month, terror as a way to control people has its limits. In Mr. Valladares's view, the Cuban people are very near if not over that limit, suggesting that even a small spark could ignite a massive rebellion -- not unlike what happened in Romania. Directorio says that the number and size of public acts of dissent have been rising every year despite the brutality of Raúl's goons. Last month 70 people marched in Camagüey in an unprecedented display of support for a political prisoner.

Raúl is also facing his legacy within the military. Having carried out Fidel's dirty work, such as the execution of popular Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa, he's garnered a lot of enemies over the years. If rumors of rumblings in the barracks are true, he could be the counterrevolution's first victim. To avoid that fate, he has to get the economy going, and he now seems to be pinning his hopes on a new U.S. administration that might end the embargo. On Thursday he repeated Cuba's "willingness to discuss on equal footing" its "dispute with the U.S."

Lifting the embargo might give Raúl some breathing room, but he can't do much until big brother passes. "The problem for Raúl is that Fidel won't die," says Ernesto Betancourt who represented the July 26 Movement in Washington in 1957 and 1958 and probably understands the regime as well or better than any Cuban exile. "He might want to make changes but Fidel won't allow them." Ironically, once Fidel is no longer around to hold together the depraved and nihilistic regime, Raúl's chances of survival may be even grimmer.
Title: Mala Leche
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 17, 2007, 03:14:52 PM
Cubans Say 'Show Us the Moneda'

Cuba's acting leader Raul Castro has been accused of being paranoid, but he does have few things to worry about. Take the hot new release by one of Cuba's most popular bands, Moneda Dura. The song is called Mala Leche, which in Cuban slang means "evil intentions." Does it denounce Fidel or embrace the Miami exile community or capitalism? Nothing of the sort. It merely recites, in upbeat rap, a litany of problems that are driving everyday Cubans to despair: long bus lines, blackouts, uncollected garbage everywhere. "The role of the artist is to be aware of the situation he is living in," songwriter Nassiry Lugo told an MSNBC reporter.

That apparently is not how the Castro regime sees things. It has banned Mala Leche, without bothering to explain why. But as Mr. Lugo knows, anyone in Cuba can be thrown in the slammer for "dangerousness," a subjective judgment by the regime about what a person might be thinking. Mr. Lugo is willing to flirt with "dangerousness." He told his American interviewer: "If an idea is not dangerous, it doesn't deserve to be an idea."

Cuba already has the highest suicide rate in the hemisphere and the whole island, as the Castro regime drags itself on and on, seems to be nearing the end of its psychic rope. As one Havana commentator told MSNBC, perhaps the reason the government banned the song is that it is too "fatalistic."

And too popular. Word has it that Mala Leche is being downloaded to the Cuban underground and spreading like wildfire. What the government may still not understand is that the song is a symptom and not a cause of Cuban

political journal WSJ
Title: Re: Cuba
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 24, 2007, 07:21:53 AM
Bush Touting Cuban Life After Castro

By BEN FELLER – 38 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush, ever pushing for a Cuba without Fidel Castro, wants allies around the world to offer money and political support so the island can be ready to transform itself.
It is Bush's vision for Cuban regime change: providing help on the outside, prodding change on the inside.

Seizing on Castro's fading health as a rare opening, Bush was to ask other nations Wednesday to help Cuba become a free society.
In remarks prepared for delivery at the State Department — his first standalone address on Cuba in four years — Bush looks to the day when Castro is gone. Bush describes a nation in which Cuban people choose a representative government and enjoy basic freedoms, with support from a broad international coalition.

For now, though, Castro is still the island's unchallenged leader, as he has been for almost 50 years. And he remains a nemesis to Bush, whom he accuses of being obsessed with Cuba and of threatening humanity with nuclear war. At the age of 81, Castro is ailing and rarely seen in public. But life has changed little on the island under the authority of his brother, 76-year-old Raul Castro, who has been his elder brother's hand-picked successor for decades.

Bush was expected to tout peaceful, pro-democracy movements in Cuba and call on other countries to get behind them. In a direct appeal to ordinary citizens in Cuba, he was to tell them they have the power to change their country, but the White House says that is not meant to be a call for armed rebellion.

Bush proposes at least three initiatives: the creation of an international "freedom fund" to help Cuba's potential rebuilding of its country one day; a U.S. licensing of private groups to provide Internet access to Cuban students, and an invitation to Cuban youth to join a scholarship program.

The latter two offerings help the Bush administration underscore the kind of real-life limitations that Cubans now face, from blocked Internet access to restricted information about their leaders to denial of legal protections. The creation of the international fund is meant to speed up societal transformation.

"We all know that Cuba is going to face very significant requirements to rebuild itself," said a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting the president. "There's a whole set of challenges that Cuba is going to face. The United States will clearly want to help the Cubans as they define what it is they need, but we think the international community should be thinking that way as well."

Washington's decades-old economic embargo on Cuba prohibits U.S. tourists from visiting the island and chokes off nearly all trade between both countries. Bush will ask Congress to maintain the embargo, which has come under scrutiny and calls for reassessment from some lawmakers.

Cuba staged municipal elections on Sunday, the first step in a process that will determine whether Fidel Castro is re-elected or replaced next year. The Communist Party is the only one allowed, and while candidates do not have to be members, critics claim they are the only ones who ever win.

Bush, increasingly, is speaking of a Castro-free Cuba. As he put it earlier this month: "In Havana, the long rule of a cruel dictator is nearing an end."
Title: Re: Cuba
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 05, 2007, 08:20:19 AM
A Cuban Hero
November 5, 2007; Page A18

Cuban physician Oscar Elías Biscet and seven others will be awarded the presidential medal of freedom by George W. Bush in a White House ceremony today. But Dr. Biscet will not be there to accept his honor in person. Today, like most days for the better part of the past eight years, he is locked away in a dungeon on Fidel Castro's island paradise.

Americas columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady discusses the bold radical maneuvers of a Cuban doctor who is now in prison.
Tales of totalitarian gulags may strike some readers as ancient history, something that happened during Europe's 20th-century experiments in fascism, communism and Nazism. Yet in Cuba, the gulag and its suffering have not ended. Dr. Biscet's medal serves to remind us of this fact. By raising the profile of his struggle for a free Cuba, the award also highlights what Castro's regime fears most. It is not the guns and tanks of some imperial invader, but rather the faith, courage and nonconformity of the country's own people.

Dr. Biscet, 46, is a renowned pacifist and devout Christian. He has said that he is inspired by the examples of Martin Luther King, Gandhi and the Dalai Lama. We know this and much more about his life thanks to the Coalition of Cuban-American Women, which says it documents all the facts it publishes about political prisoners through live testimonies from Cuba.

While practicing medicine in Cuban hospitals for more than a decade, Dr. Biscet became increasingly concerned about the government's abortion practices. In 1998, at a Havana hospital, he took the risk of engaging in a clandestine study on the administration of a drug called rivanol to abort advanced pregnancies. The drug was being widely used, particularly on girls as young as 12, who, having been forced to leave their parents and work in rural areas as part of their schooling, found themselves "in trouble."

The study concluded that rivanol resulted in viable fetuses being born alive. What often happened next horrified Dr. Biscet, who later wrote that, "the umbilical cord was cut and they were allowed to bleed to death or they were wrapped in paper and asphyxiated."

As a result of his vocal opposition to these abortion practices he lost his job, his family lost their home and Castro's goons were sent to beat him up. But the bullying didn't work. By now he was actively engaged in resistance against the regime and, as he has written, his conscience would not allow him to back down. Those familiar with Dr. Biscet's work say that he was instrumental in building -- at the grassroots level -- on the impact of Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba in January 1998. The regime took notice. Dr. Biscet became one of the few dissidents that Castro has ever attacked by name in a speech to the nation. As a proponent of Cuban democracy told me, "It proves that Biscet really got under Castro's skin."

From July 1998 until November 1999, Dr. Biscet was jailed 26 times. During those detentions, he was held for days in windowless cells or thrown in with populations of violent criminals and the mentally ill. In February 2000, he was tried and sentenced to three years in prison for holding a press conference to announce a peaceful march during the 1999 Ibero-American Summit in Havana. The backdrop at the press conference was two Cuban flags hung upside down to protest the state's violations of human rights. He was convicted for "dishonoring national symbols, public disorder and inciting delinquent behavior" and sent to a maximum security prison 450 miles east of Havana, making family visits difficult.

Cuba's political prison system is structured not only to punish dissent, but also to force the "rehabilitation" of the prisoner. Captives who give in, admit the error of their political ways and beg forgiveness sometimes can get out of jail. But Dr. Biscet is no such prisoner. While serving his three-year sentence, he increased his resistance, carrying out fasts and pushing for the release of political prisoners. The regime responded by putting him again in a squalid, solitary confinement cell or among dangerous inmates. He was denied visitors and medical treatment, and his Bible was confiscated.

In late October 2002, Dr. Biscet was released from prison only to be arrested 36 days later as he was preparing to meet with fellow Cuban human-rights advocates. In April 2003, he was convicted, as were 75 others who had been rounded up in the now-infamous March 2003 crackdown on dissent. He received a 25-year sentence for "serving as a mercenary to a foreign state." The Coalition of Cuban-American Women reports that, from November 2003-January 2004, he was held in "an underground dungeon with a common criminal and lost 40 pounds."

His time in solitary has been no less inhumane. Dr. Biscet has described his 3-foot-by-6-foot cell as having no windows or running water. It has a hole in the floor for a toilet and is infested with vermin. One of his confinement periods there lasted 42 days. Dr. Biscet says that "the Cuban government has tortured me during eight years, trying to drive me insane." Perhaps most painfully for the prisoner, his wife has been fired from her job as a nurse and is harassed by the state.

Dr. Biscet says that the regime has offered to let him go if he agrees to leave Cuba. He will not. In an April letter to his wife Elsa, he explained why: "My suffering is much, much less since I began to seek after my dream of being free, but not only for me personally. If I thought only of myself, you know that I would have been free a long time ago, and I would have been rid of these unsettling anxieties. But I want to see my friend's son, my adversary's son, or any citizen laughing happily from the satisfaction in their lives and enjoying a wealth of freedom because it is the only way human talent reaches its maximum splendor. . . ."

Reading those words, it is difficult to think of anyone more deserving of a medal honoring those who serve the cause of freedom.

• Write to O'
Title: Re: Cuba
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 23, 2007, 09:12:52 PM
La pugna en Cuba es, para Carlos Alberto Montaner en su columna de 
este domingo en “El Nuevo Herald“, entre los principistas, que son 
sólo Fidel y un pequeño grupo, y los pragmáticos con Raúl a la cabeza.

Esta es su columna:

Apresuradamente, hace unos días, Fidel Castro envió una nota 
enigmática a la Mesa Redonda, un programa de televisión que manejan 
sus discípulos más fanáticos. La frase que desató el furor de la 
prensa internacional podía interpretarse como su retiro definitivo: 
“Mi deber fundamental no es aferrarme a cargos y mucho menos obstruir 
el paso a personas más jóvenes sino aportar experiencias e ideas cuyo 
modesto valor proviene de la época excepcional que me tocó vivir”.

Title: Re: Cuba
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 10, 2008, 06:20:30 AM
Cuba's Transition Begins
January 7, 2008; Page A12

Without a hint of irony, Fidel Castro asserted twice last month in columns in Cuba's Granma newspaper, that he is not one "to cling to power." The truth is that few world leaders in modern times have ruled as long as he has. On New Year's Day he began the 50th year of his dictatorship.

But now, at the age of 81, handicapped and incapable of providing coherent leadership, the end of his historic reign is imminent. He has not been seen in public for more than 17 months after ceding authority "provisionally" to his brother Raúl, Cuba's defense minister.

During his incapacitation there have been no reports of Communist Party officials seeking his counsel, carrying out his directives, or even taking initiatives in his name. When pressed to comment on Fidel's condition and role in the leadership, Cuban officials lately have been saying mainly that he continues to inspire them and provide ideas.

So it seems all but certain that, voluntarily or not, he'll vacate the Cuban presidency early this year, though he may symbolically hold onto some new, wholly honorific title.

The transition at the top will probably set in motion cascading reassignments of civilian and military officials. Raúl Castro will call the shots, but mostly from behind the scenes. With his own bases of support in the armed forces that he has run since 1959, the security services he has controlled since 1989, and the Communist Party he manages, he has the power and legitimacy to preside over the succession. He has been the designated heir since January 1959. And at the age of 76, with many years of hard drinking under his belt, he is probably viewed by most in the leadership as a transitional figure, better to be courted than challenged.

Raúl's style guarantees that Cuba will be governed differently. He'll rule more collegially than his brother, consulting trusted subordinates and delegating more. During the interregnum he has worked with officials of different generations and pedigrees, even promoting one long-time archrival to create a united front after his brother's initial withdrawal.

On his watch, Raúl has broken some previously sacred crockery as well. He has admitted that Cuba's many problems are systemic. In his disarmingly accurate view, it is not the American embargo or "imperialism" that are the cause of problems on the island, as his brother always insisted, but rather the regime's own mistakes and mindsets. He has called on Cubans, especially the youth, to "debate fearlessly" and help devise solutions for the failures. Candid discussions at the grassroots level have proliferated.

Yet like his brother, Raúl has no intention of opening Cuba to free political speech or participation. While the number of Cubans willing to voice their discontent publicly is on the increase, so too is the brutality of government reprisals against would-be leaders of the dissident movement. By acknowledging state failures, Raúl is playing with fire, and if the lid is going to be kept on, those challenging the regime have to pay a price. As to his own future, in the leadership realignments he plans, he will probably move up one rank and assume command of the Communist Party as first secretary.

In an address last July dedicated primarily to massive failures in agriculture, Raúl called for "structural and conceptual" change. Given his past sympathetic references to the laws of supply and demand, his advocacy of liberalizing economic reforms in the 1990s, and the many for-profit enterprises his military officers have been encouraged to run, he probably plans to introduce market incentives in the countryside. That might prove the first step toward adopting something akin to the Chinese or Vietnamese economic development models.

It has been Raúl's preference since the earliest days of his partnership with Fidel to work inconspicuously in the background. As they have been doing since Fidel's confinement, others will represent Cuba abroad and preside at holiday events. Someone who is not named Castro will likely become Cuba's next president. There has never been a "third man" in the running for leadership. But legitimizing the longer-term succession is surely now one of Raúl's highest priorities. Politburo member and Vice President Carlos Lage is the leading candidate. A medical doctor 20 years younger than Raúl, Mr. Lage is widely considered an advocate of economic reform.

After nearly a half century of Fidel's suffocating control, the transition will be daunting. His successors are inheriting a bankrupt and broken system, a profoundly disgruntled populace, and acute economic problems. The worst of these are the dysfunctional public transportation and agricultural sectors, a housing shortage, decrepit infrastructure, unemployment and the widening gap in living standards between Cubans with access to hard currency and the more numerous poor who must subsist on worthless pesos.

And there is Hugo Chávez. Unlike Fidel, Raúl has no personal rapport with the mercurial Venezuelan president, and surely no desire to be subordinated to another narcissistic potentate just as he is finally close to escaping his brother's grip. But Cuba has become highly dependent economically on Venezuela. The value of the Chávez dole, mostly oil, reached between $3 billion and $4 billion last year, approaching the amounts once provided by the Soviet Union. Raúl would be loath to provoke the Venezuelan. Without his support, the Cuban economy would soon plunge into deep recession.

There is no way to know how skillfully Raúl Castro will lead and deal with inevitable crises once his brother is gone. He clearly wants to begin rectifying economic problems but knows that, for some time at least, he cannot broadly repudiate his brother's legacy. A powerful backlash could come from fidelista hard-liners in the leadership -- and perhaps from Mr. Chávez. In the end, however, it is the gamble Raúl will have to take.

Mr. Latell served as national intelligence officer for Latin America from 1990-1994 and is author of "After Fidel," (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).
Title: Stratfor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 11, 2009, 06:51:47 AM
La Base Nacional, norteamericana y cubana (CANF) publicó un libro blanco el jueves temprano, llamando para una vuelta en relaciones de EEUU con Cuba. Según el comunicado, CANF ha abandonado su apoyo para políticas separatistas y ahora partidarios que levantan restricciones en la ayuda y el viaje a Cuba, y ayudan abiertamente y activamente los grupos civiles de la sociedad allí. Esto es un cambio importante de un EEUU influyente que presiona el grupo que ha tomado históricamente una postura inflexible el gobierno cubano — Y especialmente hacia Presidente anterior Fidel Castro.

CANF fue fundado por vehementemente exilios de ANTI Castro cubano. Quizás el mejor conocido fue Jorge Mas Canosa, que tomó parte en la Bahía infortunada de Puercos ataca en 1961. Mas Canosa tomó un enfoque abiertamente militante a EEUU-política de Cuba, recomendando y patrocinando correrías armadas en la tierra cubana. ¿En 1978, él dijo al Heraldo de Miami, “Soy yo pacífico? No, soy profesional-violencia. Pienso que Castro debe ser derrocado por una revolución.”

Frustrado en sus tentativas para inspirar una rebelión armada en Cuba, Mas Canosa giró hacia la política de Washington y fundó CANF en 1981. Por financiamiento privado, el público que financia y aliados políticos poderosos, CANF llegó a ser rápidamente una voz poderosa en Washington — Apoyar el más separatista de políticas hacia Cuba. Fue un partidario especialmente fuerte para el Acto de Timones-Burton de 1996, que (entre otras estipulaciones polémicas) requirió que la prohibición de comercio es levantada por un acto de Congreso, en vez de por decreta del presidente. El acto también hizo una transición cubana a la democracia una condición previa para quitar la prohibición.

Después de la caída de la Unión Soviética, la lógica para mantener la prohibición en Cuba fue dictada enteramente por política doméstica de EEUU. Sin el apoyo del poder global con intenciones hostiles hacia Estados Unidos, ha habido muy poco que cualquier gobierno en La Habana podría hacer realmente amenazar Estados Unidos. Aunque la ubicación de Cuba, en la boca del Caribe, teóricamente lo posiciona para intervenir con rutas críticas de comercio, la superioridad de aire y mar de EEUU anula cualquier amenaza que Cuba podría congregar por sí mismo.

La política de EEUU hacia Cuba por lo tanto ha sido determinada por que podría prometer cuál votos, y cuando: El electorado de Florida fue clave para Presidentes Factura Clinton y a George W. Arbusto. Aunque Clinton tomara una postura moderada en Cuba, la preocupación que él perdería apoyo crítico de la comunidad cubano-norteamericano en Florida lo incitó a firmar el Acto de Timones-Burton. El arbusto tomó acción adicional en 2004 con una serie de movimientos para limitar viaje legal a Cuba y restringir remesas.
Pero los tiempos han cambiado.

Las fracturas en CANF (y la comunidad cubano-norteamericano en total) comenzó a surgir en el final de la década del noventa. Llegaba a ser cada vez más evidente por el fin de la década que la prohibición de EEUU no hacía nada terminar la regla de Castro, sin embargo — Y con la muerte de Mas Canosa en 1997, la división entre partidarios de línea dura extremos y modera dentro del grupo comenzó a crecer. Pero la separación no fue suficientemente profunda ni aparente de afectar campaña presidencial de Bush en Florida ni, más tarde, las políticas de su administración hacia Iberoamérica.

Las fracturas entre el Miami cubanos moderado y los partidarios de línea dura han ampliado durante los últimos ocho años, con un número creciente de cubano-norteamericanos que llaman para el cambio. Al mismo tiempo, las llamadas para un cambio de política de EEUU Congreso han crecido más insistente. No sólo eso, pero Barack Obama ganaron Florida — Con facilidad.

Dado el radical de CANF arraiga y la influencia política que lo esgrimió durante los años ochenta y años noventa, el anuncio del jueves es un desarrollo significativo para la política de EEUU. Aunque cubano-norteamericanos con posturas políticas extremistas hacia el Castros todavía se queden fuera del grupo de cabildeo, el cambio de CANF señala una nueva fase en la política doméstica — Uno que permitirá Estados Unidos tratar Cuba como un país normal.

Pero el sendero preciso EEUU-relaciones cubanas tomarán es todavía no vacía. La Habana tiene un interés fuerte a limitar la tasa en que Cuba abre a fuera de influencias, y abriga preocupaciones legítimas acerca de mantener stability. Además, es todavía no obvio qué estrategia Estados Unidos seguirá — Las tentativas para apoyar organizaciones del nivel local dentro de Cuba directamente (como CANF propone) podría ser visto por La Habana como una amenaza directa a la estabilidad del gobierno. Las opciones de Washington ahora han ampliado, pero la administración de Obama todavía quizás necesite para esperar Cuba para tomar pasos hacia la democracia antes que pueda completamente eliminar la prohibición de EEUU.

Hay muchos pasos adelante antes que una reanudación llena de relaciones pueda ocurrir, pero la escritura está en la pared.

Title: La Educación en Cuba
Post by: captainccs on August 19, 2009, 04:55:22 PM
Este es el sistema de educación que Chávez pretende implantar en Venezuela:


Title: Che Guevarra
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 09, 2010, 07:44:47 AM
en ingles;_guerrilla_doofus_and_murdering_coward/page/full/
Title: Re: Che Guevarra
Post by: captainccs on October 09, 2010, 08:08:19 AM
en ingles;_guerrilla_doofus_and_murdering_coward/page/full/

Para Hugo Chávez, el Ché es un heroe revolucionario. Chávez obligó a las FFAA de Venezuela adoptar el lema cubano de "Patria, Socialismo o Muerte." Los venezolanos le contestamos, "Pana, amamos la vida!" A Chavez. al igual que al Ché, le gusta el hedor de la muerte.
Title: Re: Cuba
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 09, 2010, 08:42:09 AM
Parece que hoy es el anniversario de la muerte de Che!  :-D
Title: Re: Cuba
Post by: captainccs on October 09, 2010, 10:23:46 AM
El 9 de octubre de 1967 el ejército de Bolivia nos hizo el gran favor de salir de esa alimaña. Según tengo entendido la CIA ayudó en descubrirlo y capturarlo. Los americanos quisieron llevarselo para los EEUU pero el presidente de Bolivia solo les concedió unas horas para interrogralo después de lo cual lo fusilarían. El pelotón de fusilamiento recibió ordenes de disparar del cuello para abajo para que se viera como una baja de combate.

Lo lamentable es que se haya vuelto mito y heroe de muchos adolecscentes mal informados.
Title: Hezbollah en Cuba
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 02, 2011, 10:49:24 AM
Title: Cuban Spy Network in US Govt.
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 06, 2013, 01:14:05 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
Title: Travelogue
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 23, 2014, 03:22:39 PM
Title: Krauthammer
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 02, 2015, 06:36:50 AM
Title: Re: Cuba
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 15, 2015, 08:09:21 AM
U.S. Easing Decades-Old Restrictions on Travel to Cuba
The United States government on Friday will begin making it easier for Americans to travel to Cuba than it has been for more than half a century, opening the door to a new era of contact between neighbors that have been estranged longer than most of their citizens have been alive.
The Obama administration announced on Thursday a set of new regulations to take effect on Friday easing decades-old restrictions on travel, business and remittances, putting into reality some of the changes promised by President Obama last month when he announced plans to resume normal diplomatic relations with Havana.
Under the new regulations, Americans will now be allowed to travel to Cuba for any of a dozen specific reasons without first obtaining a special license from the government. Airlines and travel agents will be allowed to provide service to Cuba without a specific license. And travelers will be permitted to use credit cards and spend money while in the country and bring back up to $400 in souvenirs, including up to $100 in alcohol or tobacco.
The new regulations will also make it easier for American telecommunications providers and financial institutions to do business with Cuba. Americans will be allowed to send more money to Cubans, up to $2,000 every three months instead of the $500 currently permitted.
“These changes will have a direct impact in further engaging and empowering the Cuban people, promoting positive change for Cuba’s citizens,” Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, whose department oversees sanctions policy, said in a statement.

Title: Stratfor: The Geopolitics of US-Cuba Relations
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 01, 2015, 05:33:38 PM
 The Geopolitics of U.S.-Cuba Relations
Geopolitical Weekly
December 23, 2014 | 09:00 GMT
Text Size

By George Friedman

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed to an exchange of prisoners being held on espionage charges. In addition, Washington and Havana agreed to hold discussions with the goal of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. No agreement was reached on ending the U.S. embargo on Cuba, a step that requires congressional approval.

It was a modest agreement, striking only because there was any agreement at all. U.S.-Cuba relations had been frozen for decades, with neither side prepared to make significant concessions or even first moves. The cause was partly the domestic politics of each country that made it easier to leave the relationship frozen. On the American side, a coalition of Cuban-Americans, conservatives and human rights advocates decrying Cuba's record of human rights violations blocked the effort. On the Cuban side, enmity with the United States plays a pivotal role in legitimizing the communist regime. Not only was the government born out of opposition to American imperialism, but Havana also uses the ongoing U.S. embargo to explain Cuban economic failures. There was no external pressure compelling either side to accommodate the other, and there were substantial internal reasons to let the situation stay as it is.

The Cubans are now under some pressure to shift their policies. They have managed to survive the fall of the Soviet Union with some difficulty. They now face a more immediate problem: uncertainty in Venezuela. Caracas supplies oil to Cuba at deeply discounted prices. It is hard to tell just how close Cuba's economy is to the edge, but there is no question that Venezuelan oil makes a significant difference. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government is facing mounting unrest over economic failures. If the Venezuelan government falls, Cuba would lose one of its structural supports. Venezuela's fate is far from certain, but Cuba must face the possibility of a worst-case scenario and shape openings. Opening to the United States makes sense in terms of regime preservation.

The U.S. reason for the shift is less clear. It makes political sense from Obama's standpoint. First, ideologically, ending the embargo appeals to him. Second, he has few foreign policy successes to his credit. Normalizing relations with Cuba is something he might be able to achieve, since groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce favor normalization and will provide political cover in the Republican Party. But finally, and perhaps most important, the geopolitical foundations behind the American obsession with Cuba have for the most part evaporated, if not permanently than at least for the foreseeable future. Normalization of relations with Cuba no longer poses a strategic threat. To understand the U.S. response to Cuba in the past half century, understanding Cuba's geopolitical challenge to the United States is important.
Cuba's Strategic Value

The challenge dates back to the completion of the Louisiana Purchase by President Thomas Jefferson in 1803. The Territory of Louisiana had been owned by Spain for most of its history until it was ceded to France a few years before Napoleon sold it to the United States to help fund his war with the British. Jefferson saw Louisiana as essential to American national security in two ways: First, the U.S. population at the time was located primarily east of the Appalachians in a long strip running from New England to the Georgia-Florida border. It was extremely vulnerable to invasion with little room to retreat, as became evident in the War of 1812. Second, Jefferson had a vision of American prosperity built around farmers owning their own land, living as entrepreneurs rather than as serfs. Louisiana's rich land, in the hands of immigrants to the United States, would generate the wealth that would build the country and provide the strategic depth to secure it.

What made Louisiana valuable was its river structure that would allow Midwestern farmers to ship their produce in barges to the Mississippi River and onward down to New Orleans. There the grain would be transferred to oceangoing vessels and shipped to Europe. This grain would make the Industrial Revolution possible in Britain, because the imports of mass quantities of food freed British farmers to work in urban industries.

In order for this to work, the United States needed to control the Ohio-Missouri-Mississippi river complex (including numerous other rivers), the mouth of the Mississippi, the Gulf of Mexico, and the exits into the Atlantic that ran between Cuba and Florida and between Cuba and Mexico. If this supply chain were broken at any point, the global consequences — and particularly the consequences for the United States — would be substantial. New Orleans remains the largest port for bulk shipments in the United States, still shipping grain to Europe and importing steel for American production.

For the Spaniards, the Louisiana Territory was a shield against U.S. incursions into Mexico and its rich silver mines, which provided a substantial portion of Spanish wealth. With Louisiana in American hands, these critical holdings were threatened. From the American point of view, Spain's concern raised the possibility of Spanish interference with American trade. With Florida, Cuba and the Yucatan in Spanish hands, the Spaniards had the potential to interdict the flow of produce down the Mississippi.

Former President Andrew Jackson played the key role in Jeffersonian strategy. As a general, he waged the wars against the Seminole Indians in Florida and seized the territory from Spanish rule — and from the Seminoles. He defended New Orleans from British attack in 1814. When he became president, he saw that Mexico, now independent from Spain, represented the primary threat to the entire enterprise of mid-America. The border of Mexican Texas was on the Sabine River, only 193 kilometers (120 miles) from the Mississippi. Jackson, through his agent Sam Houston, encouraged a rising in Texas against the Mexicans that set the stage for annexation.

But Spanish Cuba remained the thorn in the side of the United States. The Florida and Yucatan straits were narrow. Although the Spaniards, even in their weakened state, might have been able to block U.S. trade routes, it was the British who worried the Americans most. Based in the Bahamas, near Cuba, the British, of many conflicting minds on the United States, could seize Cuba and impose an almost impregnable blockade, crippling the U.S. economy. The British depended on American grain, and it couldn't be ruled out that they would seek to gain control over exports from the Midwest in order to guarantee their own economic security. The fear of British power helped define the Civil War and the decades afterward.

Cuba was the key. In the hands of a hostile foreign power, it was as effective a plug to the Mississippi as taking New Orleans. The weakness of the Spaniards frightened the Americans. Any powerful European power — the British or, after 1871, the Germans — could easily knock the Spaniards out of Cuba. And the United States, lacking a powerful navy, would not be able to cope. Seizing Cuba became an imperative of U.S. strategy. Theodore Roosevelt, who as president would oversee America's emergence as a major naval power — and who helped ensure the construction of the Panama Canal, which was critical to a two-ocean navy — became the symbol of the U.S. seizure of Cuba in the Spanish-American War of 1898-1900.

With that seizure, New Orleans-Atlantic transit was secured. The United States maintained effective control over Cuba until the rise of Fidel Castro. But the United States remained anxious about Cuba's security. By itself, the island could not threaten the supply lines. In the hands of a significant hostile power, however, Cuba could become a base for strangling the United States. Before World War II, when there were some rumblings of German influence in Cuba, the United States did what it could to assure the rise of former Cuban leader Fulgencio Batista, considered an American ally or puppet, depending on how you looked at it. But this is the key: Whenever a major foreign power showed interest in Cuba, the United States had to react, which it did effectively until Castro seized power in 1959.
The Soviet Influence

If the Soviets were looking for a single point from which they could threaten American interests, they would find no place more attractive than Cuba. Therefore, whether Fidel Castro was a communist prior to seizing power, it would seem that he would wind up a communist ally of the Soviets in the end. I suspect he had become a communist years before he took power but wisely hid this, knowing that an openly communist ruler in Cuba would revive America's old fears. Alternatively, he might not have been a communist but turned to the Soviets out of fear of U.S. intervention. The United States, unable to read the revolution, automatically moved toward increasing its control. Castro, as a communist or agrarian reformer or whatever he was, needed an ally against U.S. involvement. Whether the arrangement was planned for years, as I suspect, or in a sudden rush, the Soviets saw it as a marriage made in heaven.

Had the Soviets never placed nuclear weapons in Cuba, the United States still would have opposed a Soviet ally in control of Cuba during the Cold War. This was hardwired into American geopolitics. But the Soviets did place missiles there, which is a story that must be touched on as well.

The Soviet air force lacked long-range strategic bombardment aircraft. In World War II, they had focused on shorter range, close air support aircraft to assist ground operations. The United States, engaging both Germany and Japan from the air at long range, had extensive experience with long-range bombing. Therefore, during the 1950s, the United States based aircraft in Europe, and then, with the B-52 in the continental United States, was able to attack the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons. The Soviets, lacking a long-range bomber fleet, could not retaliate against the United States. The balance of power completely favored the United States.

The Soviets planned to leapfrog the difficult construction of a manned bomber fleet by moving to intercontinental ballistic missiles. By the early 1960s, the design of these missiles had advanced, but their deployment had not. The Soviets had no effective deterrent against a U.S. nuclear attack except for their still-underdeveloped submarine fleet. The atmosphere between the United States and the Soviet Union was venomous, and Moscow could not assume that Washington would not use its dwindling window of opportunity to strike safely against the Soviets.

The Soviets did have effective intermediate range ballistic missiles. Though they could not reach the United States from the Soviet Union, they could cover almost all of the United States from Cuba. The Russians needed to buy just a little time to deploy a massive intercontinental ballistic missile and submarine force. Cuba was the perfect spot from which to deploy it. Had they succeeded, the Soviets would have closed the U.S. window of opportunity by placing a deterrent force in Cuba. They were caught before they were ready. The United States threatened invasion, and the Soviets had to assume that the Americans also were threatening an overwhelming nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. They had to back down. As it happened, the United States intended no such attack, but the Soviets could not know that.

Cuba was seared into the U.S. strategic mentality in two layers. It was never a threat by itself. Under the control of a foreign naval power, it could strangle the United States. After the Soviet Union tried to deploy intermediate range ballistic missiles there, a new layer was created in which Cuba was a potential threat to the American mainland, as well as to trade routes. The agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union included American guarantees not to invade Cuba and Soviet guarantees not to base nuclear weapons there. But Cuba remained a problem for the United States. If there were a war in Europe, Cuba would be a base from which to threaten American control of the Caribbean, and with it, the ability to transit ships from the U.S. Pacific Fleet to the Atlantic. The United States never relieved pressure on Cuba, the Soviets used it as a base for many things aside from nuclear weapons (we assume), and the Castro regime clung to the Soviets for security while supporting wars of national liberation, as they were called, in Latin America and Africa that served Soviet strategic interests.
Post-Soviet Cuba

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Castro lost his patron and strategic guarantor. On the other hand, Cuba no longer threatened the United States. There was an implicit compromise. Since Cuba was no longer a threat to the United States but could still theoretically become one, Washington would not end its hostility toward Havana but would not actively try to overthrow it. The Cuban government, for its part, promised not to do what it could not truly do anyway: become a strategic threat to the United States. Cuba remained a nuisance in places like Venezuela, but a nuisance is not a strategic threat. Thus, the relationship remained frozen.

Since the Louisiana Purchase, Cuba has been a potential threat to the United States when held by or aligned with a major European power. The United States therefore constantly tried to shape Cuba's policies, and therefore, its internal politics. Fidel Castro's goal was to end American influence, but he could only achieve that by aligning with a major power: the Soviets. Cuban independence from the United States required a dependence on the Soviets. And that, like all relationships, carried a price.

The exchange of prisoners is interesting. The opening of embassies is important. But the major question remains unanswered. For the moment, there are no major powers able to exploit Cuba's geographical location (including China, for now). There are, therefore, no critical issues. But no one knows the future. Cuba wants to preserve its government and is seeking a release of pressure from the United States. At the moment, Cuba really does not matter. But moments pass, and no one can guarantee that it will not become important again. Therefore, the U.S. policy has been to insist on regime change before releasing pressure. With Cuba set on regime survival, what do the Cubans have to offer? They can promise permanent neutrality, but such pledges are of limited value.

Cuba needs better relations with the United States, particularly if the Venezuelan government falls. Venezuela's poor economy could, theoretically, force regime change in Cuba from internal pressure. Moreover, Raul Castro is old and Fidel Castro is very old. If the Cuban government is to be preserved, it must be secured now, because it is not clear what will succeed the Castros. But the United States has time, and its concern about Cuba is part of its DNA. Having no interest now, maintaining pressure makes no sense. But neither is there an urgency for Washington to let up on Havana. Obama may want a legacy, but the logic of the situation is that the Cubans need this more than the Americans, and the American price for normalization will be higher than it appears at this moment, whether set by Obama or his successor.

We are far from settling a strategic dispute rooted in Cuba's location and the fact that its location could threaten U.S. interests. Therefore, opening moves are opening moves. There is a long way to go on this issue.
Title: No somos comunistas
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 29, 2016, 08:23:49 PM
Title: Ataques con sonido
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 16, 2017, 03:55:00 PM
Title: Cuba: ?Venono?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 08, 2017, 01:04:40 PM
Title: Castro did not give Cuba literacy or better health care
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 25, 2020, 11:56:35 AM
Title: Se Vende Cuba
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 15, 2021, 04:28:53 AM
Cuba Is on the Clock
The island is in dire need of a new patron.
By: Allison Fedirka
Cuba may be a geostrategically valuable country, but its value far outweighs its actual power. The island’s proximity to the rest of North America’s coastlines, as well as its position in the Gulf of Mexico, which gives it influence over all maritime traffic in the northern part of the Western Hemisphere, has made it both a prize and a power broker for anyone with interest in this region of the world. Yet, its small size and limited resources prevent Cuba from projecting much power on its own.

(click to enlarge)

Havana’s solution to this historic dilemma has been to offer itself to a patron who in return can offer economic prosperity and security guarantees. The Spanish first established this client-patron relationship in the 15th century, using Cuba as a critical resupply station between the Old World and the New. As the Spanish Empire faded, so too did Cuba’s economic prosperity. Tired of sacrificing for a patron that could no longer meet their needs, the Cubans rose up against the Spanish and allied with the United States. The new relationship was a boon to the Cuban economy, but Washington’s heavy-handed political control led to another revolution, after which the Cuban government, then led by Fidel Castro, quickly aligned with the Soviet Union. After it collapsed, the Cuban economy again fell into disrepair. (Unlike Cuba's break from Spain and the U.S., the split with the Soviets was not initiated by Havana, which was therefore unprepared for it.) Foreign aid, strong security forces and state-sponsored initiatives to promote tourism allowed the Castro government to remain in power until a new patron could be found.

Cuba, a communist country in a post-Cold War world, didn’t have a lot of options. Enter Hugo Chavez. His rise to power in oil-rich Venezuela in 1999 made Caracas a viable patron for Havana. Chavez had the Bolivarian ideology that meshed nicely with Cuba’s. Venezuela gave Cuba subsidized oil, and in return Cuba supported Venezuela with intelligence and security cooperation. Their partnership, however, was short-lived. Chavez died in 2013, leaving Venezuela’s government accounts distorted with high social spending bills and a population dependent on government services. Oil prices tanked in 2014. Since then, Venezuela’s ability to lend support to Cuba has dramatically declined. Caracas can no longer feed its own population, let alone prop up a foreign government. Russia has attempted to fill the void by canceling Cuba’s debt, initiating a railway modernization project and giving Cuba modest grain exports. These efforts were enough to forestall a crisis but not to fundamentally change the direction in which Cuba was heading.

It's now 2021, and Cuba’s behavior over the past few months leads only to one conclusion: that the economy is reaching a breaking point and the government is therefore looking for a patron to ensure its survival. For over a year, there have been anecdotal reports of fuel shortages. Economic problems in the agriculture sector have compromised domestic production and led to shortages. (President Miguel Diaz-Canel has even acknowledged the situation publicly.) Between reduced Venezuelan oil shipments and the high price of alternative oil imports, transportation on the island is also breaking down. The brief influx of U.S. dollars after travel restrictions for Americans were lifted in 2015 ended in 2017, when the Trump administration reinstated past restrictions and introduced more severe sanctions against Cuba. The COVID-19 pandemic killed international travel to the island and thus its lucrative and crucial tourism industry.

The government is looking for answers. It put in a request with the Paris Club for a two-year moratorium on paying its debt; the club granted it a one-year reprieve last month. It has accelerated a raft of economic reforms meant to spark economic activity by reducing distortions and attracting investment. In July, the government made U.S. dollars more accessible so that they can be used to buy a wider range of basic goods. In November, it streamlined the process by which foreign investment was approved and started to experiment with expanding digital services to further reduce processing times. The next month, the Foreign Trade and Investment Ministry announced that the government would no longer be required to have a majority share in joint business projects in the areas of tourism, biotechnology and wholesale trade. This was followed by the end of select subsidy programs and the convertible Cuban peso. More recently, in early February, Cuba announced that it would expand opportunities for private businesses to operate, lifting restrictions on private enterprise in 1,873 of 2,000 sectors. The government also increased fines for those that engage in price speculation.

Mounting social pressure has amplified the government’s sense of urgency. Last November, there was the first of many protests staged by artists who spoke against the government by occupying the palace plaza and going on a hunger strike. The government intervened, made some arrests and offered an empty invitation to engage in dialogue. Since then, supporters and sympathizers have come together to form the San Isidro and 27N movements. Their most high-profile activity so far was the Feb. 9 delivery of a letter intended for President Joe Biden to the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, in which they asked him for help ending some of the recent sanctions placed on the island.

Havana subtly broadcast last week that it was in the market for a new patron. It came in the form of a letter from the Cuban Embassy in Bogota warning the Colombian government of a possible upcoming attack by the National Liberation Army, the paramilitary organization better known as the ELN. The ambassador submitted a document saying outright that the Cuban Embassy had received the information but had not verified it. Given Cuba’s long-standing relationship with the group, the announcement was interpreted as Cuba looking for a political opening.

Among the leading candidates are the U.S. and China. The Biden administration has put nearly all foreign relations under review, and many expect it to revitalize President Barack Obama’s efforts to normalize ties with Cuba. Through executive powers, a U.S. president can unilaterally control, to a degree, anyway, the extent to which the U.S. opens to the island. But it remains a highly contentious issue in U.S. politics; these kinds of changes require a lot of political capital, and Biden is currently in short supply. Cuba-watchers – those for and against closer ties with the island, and those inside and outside elected office – have already started mobilizing to get their way. For now, though, the U.S. government does not appear positioned to make any significant changes to its Cuba policy.

China, meanwhile, has been slowly gaining economic influence in Latin America over the past decade and recognizes Cuba’s strategic position relative to the United States. China needs some leverage against the U.S. similar to the kind Washington has against Beijing in the South China Sea. Improved ties with Cuba would go some way toward getting that leverage. Beijing has certainly used shared ideological beliefs to politically align with the Cuban government, and on the economic front, China is now Cuba’s second-largest trading partner. Important advances have also been made in Cuba’s telecommunications systems. Huawei helped establish public Wi-Fi hot spots throughout the island and is now helping increase household connectivity. China’s Haier now assembles laptops and tablets in Cuba, and the China Communications Construction Company operates in Cuba’s Mariel Special Development Zone.

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A U.S. Homeland Security report indicated that China’s telecommunications presence on the island already impedes U.S. firms from entering the Cuban market. Chinese financing now supports port modernization projects in Santiago, and investments are planned in pharmaceuticals and tourism. Cuban officials have also highlighted renewable energy, cybersecurity, technology and biotechnology as areas in which they’d like to work more closely with China. These projects help Cuba, of course, but more will be needed to stabilize the economy, let alone change its current trajectory. How much China comes through will depend in part on how secure its foothold is in Cuba – and how well it will be able to keep the U.S. on edge.

Cuba has made overtures, and though the U.S. and China are the leading options for Cuba, both face constraints in terms of how they can respond. Either way, Havana is on the clock.