Posted: February 27, 2017 Filed under: Diplomacy, Global, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: Barack Obama, Communist Party, Cuba, Cuba–United States relations, Dictatorship, Donald Trump, Fidel Castro, Havana, Marxism, Miami, President of Cuba, Raúl Castro
Mimi Whitfield and Nora Gámez Torres report: A year from now — on Feb. 24 — something is expected to occur in Cuba that hasn’t happened in more than 40 years: a non-Castro will occupy the presidency.
The coming year will be one of definitions in Cuba. But right now there is only uncertainty — not only about how the transition will proceed but also about the future of Cuba’s relationship with the United States with President Donald Trump at the helm.
In 2013, Raúl Castro told Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power, the parliament, that he planned to retire from the presidency of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers on Feb. 24, 2018. His heir apparent became Miguel Díaz-Canel, a party stalwart who at the time was promoted to first vice president of both councils.
When Castro retires as president, the Cuban Constitution also calls for him to relinquish his post of commander in chief of Cuba’s armed forces. A Cuba without a khaki-clad Castro commanding the Revolutionary Armed Forces is something many younger Cubans have never experienced.
Díaz-Canel’s ascension next Feb. 24 — a date that has long had resonance in Cuba history — is not assured, but most observers believe that a new National Assembly that will be seated then will rubber stamp him as Cuba’s next president and he will replace the 85-year-old Castro.
Even with a successor, Castro is still expected to retain consider clout. He has said nothing about stepping down as chief of Cuba’s powerful Communist Party and Cuba’s military leaders are solid Raúlistas. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 27, 2016 Filed under: Mediasphere | Tags: Barack Obama, Cold War, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Fidel Castro, Havana, Little Havana, Miami, President of Cuba, Raúl Castro
North Korea and Cuba maintained close ties throughout the Cold War era. Havana has remained one of Pyongyang’s strongest international allies for over half of the century.
Vasudevan Sridharan reports: North Korea has declared three days of mourning beginning on Monday, 28 November to mark the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Hailing the Cuban revolutionary as a “comrade and close friend” of North Korean people, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has also penned a condolence letter to President Raul Castro.
“He was the close friend and comrade of the Korean people who made all efforts to strengthen the friendly and cooperative relations between the two parties, governments and peoples of our two countries and extended firm support and encouragement to our efforts for national reunification and just cause with the invariable revolutionary principle and obligation for over half a century.”
The ruling party’s central seat of power – the presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the cabinet had jointly decided that there will be a three-day mourning period – Pyongyang’s state-run mouthpieces say. According to the regime-backed Rodong Sinmun, the North Korea’s top political bodies have decided to “hoist flags at half-mast at major organisations and designated places”.
“Though he passed away, the precious feats he performed will remain forever in the hearts of the peoples of our two countries and the hearts of progressive mankind.”
The death of Castro, who came to power in 1959 ushering in a communist revolution, was announced on Friday, 25 November. Cuba had declared nine days of mourning to commemorate the 90-year-old. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 27, 2016 Filed under: Mediasphere | Tags: Barack Obama, Bay of Pigs Invasion, Central Intelligence Agency, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, Havana, Little Havana, Miami, President of Cuba, Raúl Castro, Soviet Union, United States
Maldonado had reportedly begun to spray-paint the words ‘he’s gone’ along the streets of Havana. Police are reportedly stationed outside his door, preventing anyone from entering the apartment. Maldonado’s mother fears police are planting evidence in his house to keep him detained on false charges.
Frances Martel reports: Cuban secret police have abducted the anti-communist artist Danilo Maldonado, according to his mother, who told the Spain-based Diario de Cuba that he had taken to the streets late Friday to celebrate the death of dictator Fidel Castro.
“They asked the landlady for his key, they broke into his house and took him away. We don’t know where,” María Victoria Machado González said of her son, calling his arrest an “abduction.” “He went out last night to celebrate Fidel Castro’s death, to place signs all over Havana,” she noted.
“They asked the landlady for his key, they broke into his house and took him away. We don’t know where… He went out last night to celebrate Fidel Castro’s death, to place signs all over Havana.”
— María Victoria Machado González
Maldonado had reportedly begun to spray-paint the words “he’s gone” along the streets of Havana. “The images are already circulating” in Cuba, his mother alleged. Police are reportedly stationed outside his door, preventing anyone from entering the apartment. Maldonado’s mother fears police are planting evidence in his house to keep him detained on false charges.
[Read the full story here, at Breitbart ]
Even if they do not plant any evidence, Maldonado’s mother says the artist kept a collection of about 30 political works, all of which could be punishable under communist law.
Maldonado became famous in Havana for his anti-communist street art and served time in prison in 2015 following an attempted art installation in public. In October 2015, Maldonado was arrested carrying two pigs painted with the names “Fidel” and “Raúl” on their backs, in an homage to the novel 1984. He planned to set them loose in a Havana square. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 27, 2016 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Diplomacy, Global, History, Politics, Russia, Terrorism, War Room | Tags: Bay of Pigs Invasion, Che Guevara, Cold War, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Cuban Revolution, Cubans, Fidel Castro, Florida, Havana, Little Havana, Miami, President of Cuba, Raúl Castro, Soviet Union, United States
‘Pointing out to such believers that Castro imprisoned, tortured and murdered thousands more of his own people than any other Latin American dictator was usually futile. His well-documented cruelty made little difference, even when acknowledged, for he was judged according to some aberrant ethical code that defied logic.’
Carlos Eire writes: One of the most brutal dictators in modern history has just died. Oddly enough, some will mourn his passing, and many an obituary will praise him. Millions of Cubans who have been waiting impatiently for this moment for more than half a century will simply ponder his crimes and recall the pain and suffering he caused.
“According to Castro and to his propagandists, the so-called revolution was not about creating a repressive totalitarian state and securing his rule as an absolute monarch, but rather about eliminating illiteracy, poverty, racism, class differences and every other ill known to humankind.”
Why this discrepancy? Because deceit was one of Fidel Castro’s greatest talents, and gullibility is one of the world’s greatest frailties. A genius at myth-making, Castro relied on the human thirst for myths and heroes.
[Read the full text here, at the Washington Post]
His lies were beautiful, and so appealing. According to Castro and to his propagandists, the so-called revolution was not about creating a repressive totalitarian state and securing his rule as an absolute monarch, but rather about eliminating illiteracy, poverty, racism, class differences and every other ill known to humankind. This bold lie became believable, thanks largely to Castro’s incessant boasting about free schools and medical care, which made his myth of the benevolent utopian revolution irresistible to many of the world’s poor.
Many intellectuals, journalists and educated people in the First World fell for this myth, too — though they would have been among the first to be jailed or killed by Castro in his own realm — and their assumptions acquired an intensity similar to that of religious convictions.
[ALSO SEE – Fidel Castro and dead utopianism]
[What Fidel Castro Taught Me About the Radical Left]
Pointing out to such believers that Castro imprisoned, tortured and murdered thousands more of his own people than any other Latin American dictator was usually futile. His well-documented cruelty made little difference, even when acknowledged, for he was judged according to some aberrant ethical code that defied logic.
If this were a just world, 13 facts would be etched on Castro’s tombstone and highlighted in every obituary, as bullet points — a fitting metaphor for someone who used firing squads to murder thousands of his own people.
●He turned Cuba into a colony of the Soviet Union and nearly caused a nuclear holocaust.
●He sponsored terrorism wherever he could and allied himself with many of the worst dictators on earth.
●He was responsible for so many thousands of executions and disappearances in Cuba that a precise number is hard to reckon.
●He brooked no dissent and built concentration camps and prisons at an unprecedented rate, filling them to capacity, incarcerating a higher percentage of his own people than most other modern dictators, including Stalin.
●He condoned and encouraged torture and extrajudicial killings.
[Read the full story here, at the Washington Post]
●He forced nearly 20 percent of his people into exile, and prompted thousands to meet their deaths at sea, unseen and uncounted, while fleeing from him in crude vessels.
●He claimed all property for himself and his henchmen, strangled food production and impoverished the vast majority of his people.
●He outlawed private enterprise and labor unions, wiped out Cuba’s large middle class and turned Cubans into slaves of the state.
●He persecuted gay people and tried to eradicate religion.
●He censored all means of expression and communication.
●He established a fraudulent school system that provided indoctrination rather than education, and created a two-tier health-care system, with inferior medical care for the majority of Cubans and superior care for himself and his oligarchy, and then claimed that all his repressive measures were absolutely necessary to ensure the survival of these two ostensibly “free” social welfare projects.
●He turned Cuba into a labyrinth of ruins and established an apartheid society in which millions of foreign visitors enjoyed rights and privileges forbidden to his people.
●He never apologized for any of his crimes and never stood trial for them.
“This bold lie became believable, thanks largely to Castro’s incessant boasting about free schools and medical care, which made his myth of the benevolent utopian revolution irresistible to many of the world’s poor.”
This Kafkaesque moral disequilibrium had a touch of magical realism, for sure, as outrageously implausible as anything that Castro’s close friend Gabriel García Márquez could dream up. For instance, in 1998, around the same time that Chile’s ruler Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London for his crimes against humanity, Cuba’s self-anointed “maximum leader” visited Spain with ample fanfare, unmolested, even though his human rights abuses dwarfed those of Pinochet.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 26, 2016 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, History, Humor, Mediasphere, Politics, White House | Tags: Belgium, Canada, Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, Cuba, Cuba–United States relations, Cuban exile, Cuban Missile Crisis, Cuban Revolution, Donald Tusk, European Union, Fidel Castro, Havana, Jean-Claude Juncker, Jeremy Corbyn, Justin Trudeau, Miami, President of Cuba, President of the European Commission, Prime Minister of Canada, Raúl Castro
CNN mourns: Fidel Castro Ruz, the political personality, has died. Fidel Castro, the historical persona, has been born. He passes from the present into the past, to serve as an enduring historical subject of debate and dispute, about whom dispassion will be impossible for years to come. Fidel Castro was not a man about whom one is likely to be neutral.
NRO‘s Andrew Stuttaford writes:
Fidel is a metaphor. He is a Rorschach blot upon which to project fears or hopes. A prism in which the spectrum of colors refracted out has to do with light that went in. He is a point of view, loaded with ideological purport and political meaning. A David who survived Goliath. A symbol of Third World intransigence against First World domination.
But it is also possible to discuss the historical “essences” of Fidel Castro. He emerged out of a history shaped by a century of Cuban national frustration, heir to a legacy of unfulfilled hopes for national sovereignty and self-determination, aspirations that put Cuba on a collision course with the United States. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 26, 2016 Filed under: Breaking News, Crime & Corruption, Mediasphere, Politics, U.S. News | Tags: Andrea Mitchell, CNN, Cuba, Fidel Castro, Fulgencio Batista, Little Havana, Miami, MSNBC, President of Cuba, Raúl Castro, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Chronicle
reports: Fidel Castro, who died late Friday night, was a tyrant who oppressed Cubans and brought misery to many for several decades and while much of the breaking news coverage emphasized that reality, journalists on ABC, CNN
– matching how too much of the media approached Castro for decades – couldn’t resist crediting him for supposed great advancements in education, literacy and health care.
“Castro ‘was considered, even to this day, the George Washington of his country among those who remain in Cuba’.”
On MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell
insisted in a stock bio that Castro “gave his people better health care and education.” Appearing live by phone, she soon trumpted how Castro “will be revered” for “education and social services and medical care to all of his people.”
Along a similar theme, in an ABC Special Report during Nightline, Jim Avila maintained that “even Castro’s critics praised his advances in health care and in education.”
In a relatively tough report on Castro’s abuses, CNN’s Martin Savidge, in a pre-recorded bio piece, highlighted how “many saw positives, education and health care for all, racial integration.”
[More, media’s worst from the MRC archive as collected by Rich Noyes: “Fidel’s Flatterers: The U.S. Media’s Decades of Cheering Castro’s Communism”]
A meandering Brian Williams popped up by phone on MSNBC to ruminate and recalled how in his last visit to Cuba, in 2015: “You see the medicine system they are very proud of.”
ABC’s Avila went so far as to tout how Castro “was considered, even to this day, the George Washington of his country among those who remain in Cuba.”
Reminiscing about his high school years, via phone on MSNBC, Chris Matthews asserted that Castro was Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 19, 2015 Filed under: History, Mediasphere, Politics, War Room, White House | Tags: ABC News, Barack Obama, Cuba, Havana, José Martí International Airport, Pope, President of Cuba, Raúl Castro, United States
The horrors of the Cuban system are perhaps best illustrated in Armando Valladares‘ “Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro’s Gulag,” which was published in 1986.
“While today’s Cuba may be less totalitarian, judging by the grim depiction of life in the island’s largest city, Havana, from this 2014 City Journal article, one imagines that tragically, things are not altogether different from the Cuba Valladares left behind.”
First, a note of warning: For those made squeamish by the contents of the recently released so-called “torture report” from the Senate Intelligence Committee, you will likely not be able to make it through this book, describing Valladares’ experiences as a political prisoner, or “enemy of the regime,” for 22 years from 1960 to 1982.
Here is the conclusion of “Against All Hope,” describing Valladares’ thoughts the day he was set free:
The hour of my departure arrived. The procession of several cars headed down Rancho Boyeros Avenue toward José Martí International Airport. The plane was scheduled for seven in the evening. The setting sun dyed the afternoon pomegranate-red. My heart sent up a hymn of thanks to God, and I prayed for my family, who hadn’t been allowed to come to say goodbye, and for my friends remaining behind in the eternal night of the Cuban political prisons.
As the cars sped along, a flood of memories rushed over me. Twenty-two years in jail. I recalled the two sergeants, Porfirio and Matanzas, plunging their bayonets into Ernesto Díaz Madruga’s body; Roberto López Chávez dying in a cell, calling for water, the guards urinating over his face and in his gasping mouth; Boitel, denied water too, after more than fifty days on hunger strike, because Castro wanted him dead; Clara, Boitel’s poor mother, beaten by Lieutenant Abad in a Political Police station just because she wanted to find out where her son was buried. I remembered Carrión, shot in the leg, telling Jagüey not to shoot, and Jagüey mercilessly, heartlessly, shooting him in the back; the officers who threatened family members if they cried at a funeral.
I remembered Estebita and Piri dying in blackout cells, the victims of biological experimentation; Diosdado Aquit, Chino Tan, Eddy Molina, and so many others murdered in the forced-labor fields, quarries, and camps. A legion of specters, naked, crippled, hobbling and crawling through my mind, and the hundreds of men wounded and mutilated in the horrifying searches. Dynamite. Drawer cells. Eduardo Capote’s fingers chopped off by a machete. Concentration camps, tortures, women beaten, soldiers pushing prisoners’ heads into a lake of shi#, the beatings of Eloy and Izaguirre. Martín Pérez with his testicles destroyed by bullets. Robertico weeping for his mother. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 14, 2015 Filed under: Diplomacy, Economics, Politics, The Butcher's Notebook | Tags: Barack Obama, Cold War, Cuba, Cuba–United States relations, Diplomacy, Havana, Panama, Parody, President of Cuba, Pundit Planet, Raúl Castro, satire, Summits of the Americas, United States Department of State, White House
“In its current state, Cuba can barely sponsor a roll of toilet paper, or replace a broken headlight on a 1957 Chevy, much less sponsor actual terrorism. It’s time our foreign policy recognizes this.”
— President Barack Obama
WASHINGTON (PunditPlanet) The White House announces President Barack Obama is removing Cuba from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, and adding it to the new list of “state suggesters of terrorism”, whey they say reflects Cuba’s lack of resources to be a meaningful threat to neighboring nations.
“The last thing I sponsored was a medianoche sandwich, on a paper plate, and a bottle of Fanta. That was in 1989. We’re broke. Sponsoring terrorism is just not an option.”
— Raul Castro
This is a critical step in President Barack Obama’s effort to normalize relations between the two countries, and provide much-needed economic relief to the impoverished nation, suffering from years of decay under communist dictatorship.
“I have tried to get a volunteer terror projects going on Twitter, and Facebook, but they keep deleting my accounts. I can ‘suggest’ terror, I just can’t finance it.”
— Raul Castro
The new designation reflecting President Obama’s pledge to help support Marxist regimes, regardless of their ongoing human rights violations. According to biographers, policy advisors, and fellow sympathizers on the academic left, this fulfills a long-held personal ambition for the president.
“Even if I did have a few thousand pesos for a car bomb, or some black market Korean bio-weapons, I’d probably save it for a dentist appointment, or just buy some new sandals, and a pack of gum.”
— Raul Castro, lamenting Cuba’s economic misfortunes
Since his college days a Columbia University, Obama has explored various ways to try give economic and ideological support to murderous communist regimes and militant Marxist dictatorships in Latin America, but, as one insider complained, “U.S. foreign policy was always a barrier,” adding “Obama always hated the Truman and Kennedy tradition of pro-American, anticommunist rhetoric.”
“America is a strong and prosperous nation. It’s our obligation to help restore Cuba’s economic vitality, so that the modest resources required to be a credible sponsor of terrorism can once again be an achievable goal for the Castro regime.”
— President Barack Obama
“Obama has always viewed this as a tragic error, out of sync with the sympathies of the modern left, leaving a stain on the Democratic party’s post-war trajectory.” Now that he’s president, the insider concluded, “Obama is finally in a position to promote Marxist ideology, both rhetorically, and materially”.
“Getting off this ‘terror sponsor’ list may piss off a bunch of elderly Cuban-Americans in Florida, but who cares? We can still torture their friends and relatives left behind in Cuba. A pair of pliers, a blow torch, a car battery. It doesn’t cost much to have a few laughs, and keep our opponents in line. Obama understand this.”
— Spokesman for Committee for the Defense of the Revolution
“In its current state, Cuba can barely sponsor a roll of toilet paper, or replace a broken headlight on a 1957 Chevy, much less sponsor actual terrorism. It’s time our foreign policy recognizes this. It’s our obligation to help restore Cuba’s economic vitality, so that the modest resources required to be a credible sponsor terrorism can once again be an achievable goal for the Castro regime,” the president said this morning from the rose garden, in a brief statement to the press.
“Obama always hated the Truman and Kennedy tradition of pro-American, anticommunist rhetoric. Obama has always viewed this as a tragic error, out of sync with the sympathies of the modern left, leaving a stain on the Democratic party’s post-war trajectory.”
— White House insider
“Sponsor terrorism, are you kidding? The last thing I sponsored was a medianoche sandwich, on a paper plate, and a bottle of Fanta. That was in 1989. Sponsor terrorism? I wish! Even if I did have a few thousand pesos for a car bomb, or some black market Korean bio-weapons, I’d probably save it for a dentist appointment, or just buy some new sandals”, said Raul Castro. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 20, 2014 Filed under: Diplomacy, Global, Mediasphere, Politics, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Cuba, Cuban Revolution, Havana, John Kerry, Josh Earnest, President of Cuba, Raúl Castro, United States, Washington State
HAVANA — President Raúl Castro declared victory for the Cuban Revolution on Saturday in a wide-ranging speech, thanking President Obama for “a new chapter,” while also reaffirming that restored relations with the United States did not mean the end of Communist rule in Cuba.
“I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result.”
In a televised speech that lasted less than an hour at the end of Cuba’s legislative session, Mr. Castro alternated between conciliatory and combative statements against the United States and the rest of the world.
He emphasized that Cuba would accelerate its economic reform, prioritizing an end to the country’s dual-currency system. But he also said that changes needed to be gradual to create a system of “prosperous and sustainable communism.” Read the rest of this entry »