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[AUDIO] Dangerous sound? What Americans heard in Cuba attacks

WASHINGTON (AP) — It sounds sort of like a mass of crickets. A high-pitched whine, but from what? It seems to undulate, even writhe. Listen closely: There are multiple, distinct tones that sound to some like they’re colliding in a nails-on-the-chalkboard effect.

The Associated Press has obtained a recording of what some U.S. Embassy workers heard in Havana in a series of unnerving incidents later deemed to be deliberate attacks. The recording, released Thursday by the AP, is the first disseminated publicly of the many taken in Cuba of mysterious sounds that led investigators initially to suspect a sonic weapon.

The recordings themselves are not believed to be dangerous to those who listen. Sound experts and physicians say they know of no sound that can cause physical damage when played for short durations at normal levels through standard equipment like a cellphone or computer.

What device produced the original sound remains unknown. Americans affected in Havana reported the sounds hit them at extreme volumes.

Whether there’s a direct relationship between the sound and the physical damage suffered by the victims is also unclear. The U.S. says that in general the attacks caused hearing, cognitive, visual, balance, sleep and other problems.

The recordings from Havana have been sent for analysis to the U.S. Navy, which has advanced capabilities for analyzing acoustic signals, and to the intelligence services, the AP has learned. But the recordings have not significantly advanced U.S. knowledge about what is harming diplomats.

The Navy did not respond to requests for comment on the recording. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert wouldn’t comment on the tape’s authenticity.

Cuba has denied involvement or knowledge of the attacks. The U.S. hasn’t blamed anyone and says it still doesn’t know what or who is responsible. But the government has faulted President Raul Castro’s government for failing to protect American personnel, and Nauert said Thursday that Cuba “may have more information than we are aware of right now.”

[Read the full story here, at apnews.com]

“We believe that the Cuban government could stop the attacks on our diplomats,” said White House chief of staff John Kelly.

Not all Americans injured in Cuba heard sounds. Of those who did, it’s not clear they heard precisely the same thing.

Yet the AP has reviewed several recordings from Havana taken under different circumstances, and all have variations of the same high-pitched sound. Individuals who have heard the noise in Havana confirm the recordings are generally consistent with what they heard.

“That’s the sound,” one of them said.

The recording being released by the AP has been digitally enhanced to increase volume and reduce background noise, but has not been otherwise altered.

The sound seemed to manifest in pulses of varying lengths — seven seconds, 12 seconds, two seconds — with some sustained periods of several minutes or more. Then there would be silence for a second, or 13 seconds, or four seconds, before the sound abruptly started again. Read the rest of this entry »

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Qué Lástima! Countdown Begins a Year Out from Raúl Castro’s Retirement 

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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.

File photo of then Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro attending manoeuvres during the 19th anniversary of his and his fellow revolutionaries arrival on the yacht Granma, in Havana

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 »


As Socialism Shattered Venezuela, the Useful Idiots Applauded 

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Venezuela this Christmas is sunk in misery, as it was last Christmas, and the Christmas before that.

 writes: When the Cold War ended 25 years ago, the Soviet Union vanished into the ash heap of history. That left the West’s “useful idiots” — Lenin’s term for the ideologues and toadies who could always be relied on to justify or praise whatever Moscow did — in search of other socialist thugs to fawn over. Many found a new heartthrob in Hugo Chavez, the anti-Yanqui rabble-rouser who was elected president of Venezuela in 1998 and in short order had transformed the country from a successful social democracy into a grim and corrupt autocracy.

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“Violent crime is out of control. Shoppers are forced to stand in lines for hours outside drugstores and supermarkets — lines that routinely lead to empty shelves, or that break down in fistfights, muggings, and mob looting. Just last week the government deployed 3,000 troops to restore order after frantic rioters rampaged through shops and homes in the southeastern state of Bolivar.”

An avowed Marxist and protégé of Fidel Castro, Chavez gradually seized control of every lever of state power in Venezuela. The constitution was rewritten to strip the legislature and judiciary of their independence, authorize censorship of the press, and allow Chavez to legislate by decree. Before long, the government acquired a stranglehold over the economy, including the huge and profitable energy sector. (Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world.)

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“In the beautiful country that used to boast the highest standard of living in Latin America, patients now die in hospitals for lack of basic health care staples: soap, gloves, oxygen, drugs. In some medical wards, there isn’t even water to wash the blood from operating tables.”

With petrodollars pouring in, Chavez had free rein to put his statist prescriptions into effect. The so-called Bolivarian revolution over which he — and later his handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro — presided, was an unfettered, real-world example of anticapitalist socialism in action.

[Read the full story here, at The Boston Globe]

Venezuela since at least the 1970s had been Latin America’s most affluent nation. Now it was a showpiece for command-and-control economics: price and currency controls, wealth redistribution, ramped-up government spending, expropriation of land, and the nationalization of private banks, mines, and oil companies.

And the useful idiots ate it up.

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In a Salon piece titled “Hugo Chavez’s economic miracle,” David Sirota declared that the Venezuelan ruler, with his “full-throated advocacy of socialism,” had “racked up an economic record that . . . American president[s] could only dream of achieving.” The Guardian offered “Three cheers for Chavez.” Moviemaker Oliver Stone filmed a documentary gushing over “the positive changes that have happened economically in all of South America” because of Venezuela’s socialist government. And when Chavez died in 2013, Jimmy Carter extolled the strongman for “improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.”

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In the real world, however, socialism has transformed Venezuela into a Third World dystopia.

Venezuela this Christmas is sunk in misery, as it was last Christmas, and the Christmas before that. Venezuelans, their economy wrecked by statism, face crippling shortages of everything from food and medicine to toilet paper and electricity. Read the rest of this entry »


Crackdown in Cuba: Hammer Comes Down Hard on Dissidents After Castro Death

In the first such anti-dissident operation since Fidel Castro’s death last month, President Raul Castro seemed to indicate the Americas’ only one-party communist state was in no mood for dissent.

Havana (AFP) – Authorities across Cuba have cracked down on dissidents, arresting dozens, keeping others from marching in Havana, and detaining an American human rights lawyer, activists said Sunday.

“There was a joint operation at 6:00 am in Santiago and Palma Soriano. They searched four homes, and so far we have 42 reported arrests — 20 in Santiago, 12 in Palma and 10 in Havana…They threatened me, and said by calling the demonstration I was facilitating public disorder…. disobedience and espionage.”

— Jose Daniel Ferrer, head of the Patriotic Union of Cuba

In the first such anti-dissident operation since Fidel Castro’s death last month, President Raul Castro seemed to indicate the Americas’ only one-party communist state was in no mood for dissent.

A roundup in the country’s east snared dozens and derailed street protests planned to demand that political prisoners be freed.

“There was a joint operation at 6:00 am in Santiago and Palma Soriano. They searched four homes, and so far we have 42 reported arrests — 20 in Santiago, 12 in Palma and 10 in Havana,” Jose Daniel Ferrer told AFP by phone.

The 46-year-old, who heads the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), had called the demonstrations to demand that political prisoners be set free. Castro insists there are no political prisoners, just lawbreakers.

Raul Castro, Michelle Obama, Barack Obama

Ferrer said he was detained in Santiago, Cuba‘s second biggest city, at a police unit known as Micro 9.

“They threatened me, and said by calling the demonstration I was facilitating public disorder…. disobedience and espionage,” Ferrer said.

Most arrests of dissidents in roundups are brief. Sometimes, the authorities prevent them from leaving their homes to attend a protest or march.

Ladies in White, shut in

In Havana, the award-winning Ladies in White group, which presses for the release of jailed dissidents who are their relatives, said that at least 20 of its activists were “under siege,” kept from attending their weekly march. Read the rest of this entry »


Carlos Eire: Requiem for a Despot

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Slavery is what Fidel’s revolution was about. Brooking no dissent, he enslaved a nation in the name of eternal class warfare, creating a new elite dedicated to suppressing their neighbors’ rights.

Carlos Eire writes: Dead at last, dead at last. Fidel Castro has shuffled off this mortal coil, at the age of ninety. Unfortunately, his death comes a bit too late—about sixty years too late. Millions of his people had been awaiting this moment for well over half a century. And as we Cubans rejoice, we weep. Our losses over the past six decades have been far too great, and so our glee is far from unbridled.

“Fidel justified his repressive policies by insisting that the Cuban people were incapable of achieving social justice by any other means.”

Slavery is what Fidel’s revolution was about. Brooking no dissent, he enslaved a nation in the name of eternal class warfare, creating a new elite dedicated to suppressing their neighbors’ rights. He pitted Cubans against one another, replacing all civil discourse with invective and intimidation.

“Likewise, many of Fidel’s First-World admirers view Cubans as postmodern equivalents of Rousseau’s noble savage—as primitives who are uncorrupted by civilization and incapable of comprehending Enlightenment notions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—or perhaps as swarthier versions of Mussolini’s unruly Italians, that is, hot-blooded Latin rustics in need of a strong leader who can make their trains run on time.”

Fidel boasted that he was loved by the Cuban people and spoke for us, that he was our very embodiment. But these were some of the boldest of his many big lies. The Cuban people he spoke for were but a monstrous abstraction, a figment that he projected onto the world stage. Flesh-and-blood Cubans had to be forced to attend his interminable speeches, or, as now, his funeral.

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“Fidel portrayed those who fled his dystopia as selfish troglodytes. These nonconformists were vilified not just by Fidel but by all those around the world who believed his lies, including many eminent intellectuals, artists, and journalists in free, affluent nations.”

Dissenters were demonized. If you objected to his self-anointing as Maximum Leader or disdained his dystopian vision, two painful choices were open to you. Just two.

You could oppose him. But if you dared, even by murmuring in the dark, you faced imprisonment, torture, or death. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans were brave enough to suffer these consequences, but the world beyond the island’s shores ignored them, even denied their existence.

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“Why does the First World display so little indignation over Fidel’s labor camps and prisons, his torture chambers, and the summary executions with which he purchased his shamefully inadequate healthcare and indoctrination programs?” 

The other option was to beg for the privilege of banishment. Nearly two million Cubans chose that route, but millions more never got the chance. No one knows how many have died trying to escape by sea without his magnanimous permission.

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“Why do so many well-heeled tourists flock to the ruin Cuba has become? Why are so few of them offended by Cuba’s endemic racism, or the apartheid laws that deny ordinary Cubans access to the finest beaches and hotels in their own homeland?”

Fidel portrayed those who fled his dystopia as selfish troglodytes. These nonconformists were vilified not just by Fidel but by all those around the world who believed his lies, including many eminent intellectuals, artists, and journalists in free, affluent nations. Lately, the tyrant even seemed to gain approval from His Holiness, Pope Francis, who paid him a very cordial visit.

[Read the full story here, at First Things]

For the millions of Cubans who remained in Fidel’s kingdom, the losses were even more profound. As they waved tiny Cuban flags at mass rallies and waited in line for necessities with their ration books in hand, as they listened to Fidel’s promises of a very distant glorious future, these Cubans watched others leave by the hundreds of thousands. When nearly two million refugees flee from a small island nation, everyone who remains is touched by loss. The exodus is all the more galling when those who have fled prosper in exile and those who remain become ever more destitute. Read the rest of this entry »


Comunismo Funciona! The Jeep with Fidel Castro’s Ashes Breaks Down, Has to be Pushed

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Incident during farewell acts dictator Fidel Castro in Cuba. The jeep carrying the ashes of the Cuban leader, who died last November 25, is broken during the official procession to Santiago de Cuba. The soldiers guarding the vehicle had to push him, creating an unusual image. [Note: Translated from Spanish, Original source here]

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The snapshot for the story is a story in acts of remembrance of former prime minister (1959-1976) and President of the Republic of Cuba (1976-2008), which will conclude on Monday with a private and family farewell at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery .

Before the funeral procession, renamed Freedom Ride, it has traveled over a thousand kilometers across the Caribbean island, including the Moncada Barracks, the starting point of the Cuban Revolution that triumphed in 1959.

funeral-fidel-2 Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Cruz: A Dictator is Dead, But His Repressive Legacy Will Not Follow Him to the Grave

“Cuba’s longtime oppressive dictator Fidel Castro is dead. Let me be absolutely clear: We are not mourning the death of some revolutionary romantic, or a distinguished statesman.”

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“We’re not grieving for the protector of peace or a judicious steward of his people. Today we are thankful. We are thankful that a man who has imprisoned, and tortured, and degraded the lives of so many is no longer with us. He has departed for warmer climes.”

See more here.

 


[VIDEO] 3 Ways Bitcoin Is Promoting Freedom in Latin America

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How bitcoin is allowing Venezuelans to circumvent capital controls, Brazilians to get around tariffs—and might one day improve Latin America‘s overall business climate.


[VIDEO] American University Students Prefer Castro Over Trump, ‘Made Endless Possibilities for the Cuban People’

Justin Holcomb reports: Some students at American University would prefer Fidel Castro over President-elect Donald Trump and were not afraid to let their voice be heard on at the liberal elite school.

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Fidel Castro’s firing squad, fatally enforcing long-term favorability

“I mean, right now I don’t think Donald Trump is very good, and I know that Fidel Castro has done some good things for the world so I’d say he’s proven himself at least in the long term to be more favorable.”

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Raud Castro, preparing a Cuban citizen for a personal introduction to Marxist utopia

“I mean, right now I don’t think Donald Trump is very good, and I know that Fidel Castro has done some good things for the world so I’d say he’s proven himself at least in the long term to be more favorable,” one student said…(read more)

Revolutionary communist leader Fidel Castro, displaying his instrument for enforcing endless possibilities.

Social justice warrior Fidel Castro, displaying his instrument for enforcing endless possibilities.

American University students. Risk of being shot by Trump firing squad: 0%

American University students. Risk of being shot by Trump firing squad: 0%

Read the rest of this entry »


Covert CIA Plot to Wait Until Fidel Castro Dies of Old Age Successful

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Langley, VA – A decades-long plot to get Cuban dictator Fidel Castro to pass away peacefully in his sleep has come to fruition, according to a statement from the CIA. “We are proud to announce that our 53 years of patience have finally paid off,” said CIA spokesperson Ryan Trimarchi. “It seems silly in retrospect…(read more)

Source: The Beaverton


James G. Zumwalt: How The New York Times Used Fake News to Help Fidel Castro

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There is irony in the convergence of two story lines this month.

James Zumwalt writes: In the aftermath of a contentious U.S. presidential campaign, the first involved concerns over the rise of fake news stories online. As one critic notes, they “proliferate on social media… often shared more than real news is.”

That critic suggests, “To remove the appeal of fake news, people need to value debate and discussion with those who hold opposing views.” Sadly, as the presidential campaign demonstrated, the public leaves its education to the Internet and not debate.

“During a triumphant 1959 visit to New York City, Castro claimed his ‘greatest ploy’ was fooling Matthews. Castro said he only had twenty men left at the time but convinced Matthews he had control of a huge army.”

But such fake news stories are not an evolutionary evil of the Internet. The rise of fake news stories to manipulate public sentiment existed long before the Internet became a gleam in Al Gore’s eye. Late 19thcentury America bore witness to “yellow journalism”—the practice of sensationalizing stories to stir up public sentiment and newspaper sales.

New York Times reporter Herbert Lionel Matthews with Fidel Castro

New York Times reporter Herbert Lionel Matthews with Fidel Castro

“When questions surfaced in early 1957 regarding whether Castro was even alive, Fidel agreed to a NYT interview, at his mountain hideout, with reporter Herbert Matthews. Matthews’ article gleefully reported Castro was still alive and the Cuban government was fighting a ‘losing battle’ against him. Matthews described an abundance of activity and troop movements in and out of Castro’s hideout.”

The second storyline this month involved the death of Cuba’s nonagenarian former president and dictator, 51gkkq7htll-_sl250_Fidel Castro, 90, who unabashedly took credit for having long ago fed the New York Times (NYT) fake news.

[Order Armando Valladares‘ book “Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro’s Gulag” from Amazon.com]

In 1952, a coup by General Fulgencio Batista overthrew the democratically elected Cuban government. The following year, Castro and a small group of followers formed “the Movement.” The group undertook sporadic guerrilla operations against Batista.

[Read the full story here, at Breitbart]

By 1957, the Cuban Revolution had stalled. The NYT began publishing a series of pro-Castro articles portraying him as a freedom fighter seeking to restore democracy to the island nation.

Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. holds up four fingers to indicate the four Pulitzer Prizes won by the New York Times, as winners for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize are announced at The New York Times newsroom in New York April 15, 2013. Also pictured are (from L-R): CEO Mark Thompson, Sulzberger, Assistant Managing Editor Susan Chira, Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal (obscured by Chira) and Executive Editor Jill Abramson. REUTERS/Ruth Fremson/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: MEDIA SOCIETY) - RTXYN1U

Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. holds up four fingers to indicate the four Pulitzer Prizes won by the New York Times, as winners for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize are announced at The New York Times newsroom in New York April 15, 2013. Also pictured are (from L-R): CEO Mark Thompson, Sulzberger, Assistant Managing Editor Susan Chira, Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal (obscured by Chira) and Executive Editor Jill Abramson. REUTERS/Ruth Fremson/Pool

“Despite the NYT’s post-U.S. presidential election demands for more responsibility monitoring fake news, in writing about Castro, its reporting staff failed to get the word. The newspaper pays tribute to the brutal dictator as ‘the fiery apostle of revolution’ who ‘bedeviled 11 American presidents…’ Only buried deep therein is any reference made Castro wielded power ‘like a tyrant.’”

When questions surfaced in early 1957 regarding whether Castro was even alive, Fidel agreed to a NYT interview, at his mountain hideout, with reporter Herbert Matthews. Matthews’ article gleefully reported Castro was still alive and the Cuban government was fighting a “losing battle” against him. Matthews described an abundance of activity and troop movements in and out of Castro’s hideout.

“This salute stands in stark contrast to a book written by the ‘Cuban Solzhenitsyn,’ as Armando Valladares is known, who spent 22 years in the country’s dungeons. Titled ‘Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro’s Gulag’, his book is credited with revealing Cuba’s communist tyranny to the same extent Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago revealed Soviet despotism.”

The articles elevated Castro’s profile, giving him credibility both at home and abroad and helping propel his rise to power. In January 1959, the Batista government fell—and Fidel, the avowed democratic leader, established a revolutionary socialist state. In 1965, the Movement revealed its true colors, becoming the Communist Party.

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 “His legacy in Cuba and elsewhere has been a mixed record of social progress and abject poverty, of racial equality and political persecution, of medical advances and a degree of misery comparable to the conditions that existed in Cuba when he entered Havana as a victorious guerrilla commander in 1959.”

— The New York Times’ final Castro salute to Fidel Castro

During a triumphant 1959 visit to New York City, Castro claimed his “greatest ploy” was fooling Matthews. Castro said he only had twenty men left at the time but convinced Matthews he had control of a huge army. Matthews’ observations supported this as he wrote, “From the look of things, General Batista cannot possibly hope to suppress the Castro revolt.”

Castro accomplished this ploy by marching “the same group past Matthews several times and also stag(ing) the arrival of ‘messengers’ reporting the movement of other (nonexistent) units.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REWIND January 11, 1959: Rebel Leader Fidel Castro on CBS ‘Face the Nation’

Shortly after leading rebel forces in overthrowing Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, Fidel Castro appeared on the Jan. 11, 1959 edition of Face the Nation.

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[VIDEO] Montage: American Media Grieve Castro’s Death

In an almost unbelievable video, American members of the media praise ruthless dictator Fidel Castro in the wake of his death.

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Castro, Chavez, and ‘Bad Luck’

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Castro and his ilk showed us that under socialism, the powerful grow rich — and everyone else grows poor.

Robert Heinlein once wrote:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.em

This is known as “bad luck.”

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Glenn Reynolds writes: I thought about this statement this weekend, reading two news stories. The first was about the tide of Venezuelans taking to boats to escape Venezuela’s economic collapse. As The New York Times reported, “Venezuela was once one of Latin America’s richest countries, flush with oil wealth that attracted immigrants from places as varied as Europe and the Middle East.”

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“Although many among Western political and entertainment elites still think of Fidel Castro fondly, such people are, at best, what Lenin called ‘useful idiots.'”

“But after President Hugo Chávez vowed to break the country’s economic elite and redistribute wealth to the poor, the rich and middle class fled to more welcoming countries in droves, creating what demographers describe as Venezuela’s first diaspora.”

[Read the full story here, at USAToday]

Now, in their absence, things have gotten worse, and it’s poorer Venezuelans — the very ones that Chavez’s revolution was allegedly intended to help — who are starving. Many are even taking to boats, echoing, as the Times notes, “an image so symbolic of the perilous journeys to escape Cuba or Haiti — but not oil-rich Venezuela.”

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Well, Venezuela was once rich. But mismanagement and kleptocracy can make any country poor and Venezuela — as is typical with countries whose leaders promise to soak the rich for the benefit of the poor — has had plenty of both.  Read the rest of this entry »


Kim Jong-un Declares 3-Day Mourning for Death of North Korea’s ‘Close Friend and Comrade’ Fidel Castro

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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.

 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 »


Artista Cubano Arrested for ‘He’s Gone’ Graffiti Following Fidel Castro’s Death

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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 Martelcontributor-80x100-fmartel 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 »


13 Facts About Fidel Castro’s Cruelty Should Be Etched into His Tombstone

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‘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 findel-castro-rolex-gigarfor 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.

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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.

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“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 »


DO-OVER? Trudeau Humiliated for Statement of Condolences in Which He called Mass Murderer Fidel Castro a ‘Remarkable Leader’

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Fidel Castro was a dictator and he did not intend to minimize the former Cuban leader’s human rights abuses…but then goes on to double down on his statements of heartfelt sympathy and enduring affection for Cuba’s murderous totalitarian dictator.

The prime minister came under fire Saturday after issuing a statement of condolences for Castro in which he described the former president as “a remarkable leader” and family friend.  Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, as well as a number of Conservative leadership hopefuls and U.S. Republican senators, lambasted Trudeau for his choice of words.

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“On the passing of his death I expressed a statement that highlighted the deep connection between the people of Canada and the people of Cuba.”

— Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Trudeau did not back down from the statement when pressed by reporters Sunday in Madagascar, where he is attending la Francophonie summit of French-speaking nations.

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“Yes, his accomplishments will be in various tones of grey — some white, some black — but historians will have to decide this. I see no controversy in describing him as a giant of the 20th century.”

— Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard

“There are people who have many memories and who experienced a great deal of difficulty because of what happened in Cuba, and I am not minimizing any of that,” Trudeau said.

Asked by CBC News senior parliamentary reporter Catherine Cullen whether he believes Castro was a dictator, Trudeau replied: “Yes.”

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“The fact is Fidel Castro had a deep and lasting impact on the Cuban people. He certainly was a polarizing figure and there certainly were concerns around human rights. That’s something that I’m open about and that I’ve highlighted,” he added.

“But on the passing of his death I expressed a statement that highlighted the deep connection between the people of Canada and the people of Cuba.”

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, who is also at the summit, defended Trudeau, calling his statement about Castro’s death “well-balanced.” Read the rest of this entry »


Michael J. Totten: A Visit to the Dystopian Havana that Tourists Never See

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Michael J. Totten continues:

…I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba—not because I’m nostalgic for a botched utopian fantasy but because I wanted to experience Communism firsthand. When I finally got my chance several months ago, I was startled to discover how much the Cuban reality lines up with Blomkamp’s dystopia. In Cuba, as in Elysium, a small group of economic and political elites live in a rarefied world high above the impoverished masses. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of The 51cayyoticl-_sl250_Communist Manifesto, would be appalled by the misery endured by Cuba’s ordinary citizens and shocked by the relatively luxurious lifestyles of those who keep the poor down by force

[Order Cuban exile Humberto Fontova’s bookExposing the Real Che Guevara: And the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him” from Amazon.com

Many tourists return home convinced that the Cuban model succeeds where the Soviet model failed. But that’s because they never left Cuba’s Elysium.

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“Outside its small tourist sector, the rest of the city looks as though it suffered a catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina or the Indonesian tsunami. Roofs have collapsed. Walls are splitting apart. Window glass is missing. Paint has long vanished. It’s eerily dark at night, almost entirely free of automobile traffic.”

had to lie to get into the country. Customs and immigration officials at Havana’s tiny, dreary José Martí International Airport would have evicted me had they known I was a journalist. But not even a total-surveillance police state can keep track of everything and everyone all the time, so I slipped through. It felt like a victory. Havana, the capital, is clean and safe, but there’s nothing to buy.

[Read the full story here, at City Journal]

It feels less natural and organic than any city I’ve ever visited. Initially, I found Havana pleasant, partly because I wasn’t supposed to be there and partly because I felt as though I had journeyed backward in time. But the city wasn’t pleasant for long, and it certainly isn’t pleasant for the people living there. It hasn’t been so for decades.

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“The revolutionaries promised liberal democracy, but Castro secured absolute power and flattened the country with a Marxist-Leninist battering ram. The objectives were total equality and the abolition of money; the methods were total surveillance and political prisons. The state slogan, then and now, is ‘socialism or death.'”

Outside its small tourist sector, the rest of the city looks as though it suffered a catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina or the Indonesian tsunami. Roofs have collapsed. Walls are splitting apart. Window glass is missing. Paint has long vanished. It’s eerily dark at night, almost entirely free of automobile traffic. I walked for miles through an enormous swath of destruction without seeing a single tourist. Most foreigners don’t know that this other Havana exists, though it makes up most of the city—tourist buses avoid it, as do taxis arriving from the airport. It is filled with people struggling to eke out a life in the ruins.

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“Communism destroyed Cuba’s prosperity, but the country experienced unprecedented pain and deprivation when Moscow cut off its subsidies after the fall of the Soviet Union.”

Marxists have ruled Cuba for more than a half-century now. Fidel Castro, Argentine guerrilla 51sbtklpshl-_sl250_Che Guevara, and their 26th of July Movement forced Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959 and replaced his standard-issue authoritarian regime with a Communist one.

[Order Humberto Fontova’s book The Longest Romance: The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro” from Amazon.com

The revolutionaries promised liberal democracy, but Castro secured absolute power and flattened the country with a Marxist-Leninist battering ram. The objectives were total equality and the abolition of money; the methods were total surveillance and political prisons. The state slogan, then and now, is “socialism or death.”

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“Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of The Communist Manifesto, would be appalled by the misery endured by Cuba’s ordinary citizens and shocked by the relatively luxurious lifestyles of those who keep the poor down by force.”

Cuba was one of the world’s richest countries before Castro destroyed it—and the wealth wasn’t just in the hands of a tiny elite. “Contrary to the myth spread by the revolution,” wrote Alfred Cuzan, a professor of political science at the University of West Florida, “Cuba’s wealth before 1959 was not the purview of a privileged few. . . . Cuban society was as much of a middle-class society as Argentina and Chile.” In 1958, Cuba had a higher per-capita income than much of Europe. “More Americans lived in Cuba prior to Castro than Cubans lived in the United States,” Cuban exile Humberto Fontova, author of a series of books about Castro and Guevara, tells me.

[Read the full text here, at City Journal]

“This was at a time when Cubans were perfectly free to leave the country with all their property. In the 1940s and 1950s, my parents could get a visa for the United States just by asking. They visited the United States and voluntarily returned to Cuba. More Cubans vacationed in the U.S. in 1955 than Americans vacationed in Cuba. Americans considered Cuba a tourist playground, but even more Cubans considered the U.S. a tourist playground.” Havana was home to a lot of that prosperity, as is evident in the extraordinary classical European architecture that still fills the city. Poor nations do not—cannot—build such grand or elegant cities.

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“Between 1960 and 1976, Cuba’s per capita GNP in constant dollars declined at an average annual rate of almost half a percent. The country thus has the tragic distinction of being the only one in Latin America to have experienced a drop in living standards over the period.”

But rather than raise the poor up, Castro and Guevara shoved the rich and the middle class down. The result was collapse. “Between 1960 and 1976,” Cuzan says, “Cuba’s per capita GNP in constant dollars declined at an average annual rate of almost half a percent. The country thus has the tragic distinction of being the only one in Latin America to have experienced a drop in living standards over the period.”

“By the 1990s, Cuba needed economic reform as much as a gunshot victim needs an ambulance. Castro wasn’t about to reform himself and his ideology out of existence, but he had to open up at least a small piece of the country to the global economy. “

Communism destroyed Cuba’s prosperity, but the country experienced unprecedented pain and deprivation when Moscow cut off its subsidies after the fall of the Soviet Union. Journalist and 51pumxdqs8l-_sl250_longtime Cuba resident Mark Frank writes vividly about this period in his book Cuban Revelations.

[Order Mark Frank’s bookCuban Revelations: Behind the Scenes in Havana” from Amazon.com]

“The lights were off more than they were on, and so too was the water. . . . Food was scarce and other consumer goods almost nonexistent. . . . Doctors set broken bones without anesthesia. . . . Worm dung was the only fertilizer.” He quotes a nurse who tells him that Cubans “used to make hamburgers out of grapefruit rinds and banana peels; we cleaned with lime and bitter orange and used the black powder in batteries for hair dye and makeup.” “It was a haunting time,” Frank wrote, “that still sends shivers down Cubans’ collective spines.”

By the 1990s, Cuba needed economic reform as much as a gunshot victim needs an ambulance. Read the rest of this entry »


Heartache for the Global Left: The Great Man Progressives Loved to Love 

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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:

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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.

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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 »


Journalists Hail Castro’s Achievements, ‘George Washington,’ ‘Folk Hero to Most of Us’

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Brent Baker 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 and MSNBC – 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.”

Jeff Fager (L), chairman CBS News and executive producer '60 Minutes', Scott Pelley, anchor and managing editor CBS Evening News and David Rhodes (R) president CBS News, speak at the CBS Television Network's 2011 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour in Beverly Hills, California August 3, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS) - RTR2PL1B

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 network-declinesaw 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 »


Fidel Castro Inspired Millions with His Promises of Justice and Progress but Presided Over an Oppressive State

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With Fidel now dead, many believe Raul will move more quickly toward reforms.

Fidel Castro burst on the world scene in 1959, spawning the very image of a revolutionary with his scruffy beard, rifle and cigar, ruling Cuba for a half-century while rankling 11 U.S. presidents and helping bring the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Mr. Castro, who was suffering from undisclosed illnesses, died at 90 years old, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced Friday.

Mr. Castro, nicknamed the “guerrilla prince” by one of his many biographers, animated millions in Cuba and across the world with his promises of democracy, social justice and economic progress. Early in his reign, Mr. Castro forged an anti-Washington stance, allying with the Soviet Union and supporting guerrilla movements from Latin America to Africa.

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But by the time he formally resigned in 2008 as Cuba’s president and handed power to his younger brother, Raúl, he had come to embody all the contradictions of his movement.

Mr. Castro pursued egalitarian ideals of free health care, housing and education, while outlawing free speech, jailing dissidents and banning fair elections. He played world politics with the skill of a grandmaster, but embraced an ideology that ultimately failed. He overthrew one dictator in 1959 only to become Latin America’s longest-ruling one, 49 years.

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He sought to free Cuba of its dependence on sugar and make it a wealthy country, only to bankrupt the island and make it dependent first on the largess of the Soviet Union, and then of Venezuela. But Venezuela’s economic crisis has curtailed aid to Cuba.

When Mr. Castro stepped down, many had hoped the more pragmatic Raul would quickly launch economic and political overhauls to ease Cuba into the global economy and introduce a more democratic system. But he has only taken a few hesitant steps in that direction. Instead, the elder Castro developed a second career as a Cassandra-like commentator, raging against the U.S. and frequently predicting an inevitable nuclear war. Read the rest of this entry »


Cuba’s Fidel Castro Dies

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Fidel Castro, Cuba’s former Dictator and leader of the Communist revolution, has died aged 90.

Fidel Castro ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost 50 years before Raul took over in 2008.

Fidel Castro, Cuba’s former president and leader of the Communist revolution, has died aged 90, his brother Raul has announced.

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The Washington Examiner‘s Daniel Chaitin writes:

…The U.S. was among the first to formally recognize his government, cautiously trusting Castro’s early assurances he merely wanted to restore democracy, not install socialism.

Within months, Castro was imposing radical economic reforms. Members of the old government went before summary courts, and at least 582 were shot by firing squads over two years. Independent newspapers were closed and in the early years, homosexuals were herded into camps for “re-education.”

In 1964, Castro acknowledged holding 15,000 political prisoners. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled, including Castro’s daughter Alina Fernandez Revuelta and his younger sister Juana.

Still, the revolution thrilled millions in Cuba and across Latin America who saw it as an example of how the seemingly arrogant Yankees could be defied. And many on the island were happy to see the seizure of property of the landed class, the expulsion of American gangsters and the closure of their casinos.

Castro’s speeches, lasting up to six hours, became the soundtrack of Cuban life and his 269-minute speech to the U.N. General Assembly in 1960 set the world body’s record for length that still stood more than five decades later.

As Castro moved into the Soviet bloc, Washington began working to oust him, cutting U.S. purchases of sugar, the island’s economic mainstay. Castro, in turn, confiscated $1 billion in U.S. assets…(read more)

“The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening,” President Raul Castro said.

Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Betrayed Cuba’s Dissidents

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Is this what Obama Calls Normalization?

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: Fidel Castro turned 90 years old on Saturday, adding plausibility to the popular Cuban theory that even hell doesn’t want him. Meanwhile Cuba’s military dictatorship, now headed by his 83-year-old brother Raúl, is cracking down with renewed brutality on anyone who dares not conform to its totalitarian rule.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

If President Obama’s December 2014 softening of U.S. policy toward Cuba was supposed to elicit some quid pro quo on human rights from Havana, it has so far failed. Independent groups that monitor civil liberties on the island say conditions have deteriorated in the 20 months since the Obama decision to normalize relations and ease Cuba trade and travel restrictions for Americans. Many dissident groups opposed any U.S. thaw without human-rights conditions attached and say they feel abandoned by the U.S., which they had long relied on for moral support.

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“If President Obama’s December 2014 softening of U.S. policy toward Cuba was supposed to elicit some quid pro quo on human rights from Havana, it has so far failed.”

Guillermo Fariñas, a 54-year-old psychologist and winner of the European Parliament’s Andrei Sakharov Prize, is one such disappointed Cuban.

“Independent groups that monitor civil liberties on the island say conditions have deteriorated in the 20 months since the Obama decision to normalize relations and ease Cuba trade and travel restrictions for Americans.”

In a July 20 letter to Gen. Castro, Mr. Fariñas announced “a hunger and thirst strike” until Castro “designate[s]” a vice president to meet with the opposition and declares an end to the state policy of torturing and arresting dissidents and confiscating their property. Mr. Fariñas has been taken to the local hospital in the city of Santa Clara twice for rehydration, but is now at home. He is gravely ill.

Raul Castro, Michelle Obama, Barack Obama

Mr. Amel, who was arrested in July, also sought an end to the state’s policy of beating and arresting dissidents. In his letter to Raúl Castro, Mr. Fariñas wrote that when he went to the police to inquire about charges against the hunger-striking Mr. Amel and another dissident, he was handcuffed and tortured.

Flirting with death is a sign of desperation and it is difficult not to see a connection between that and Mr. Obama’s decision to drop the longstanding U.S. commitment to the democracy movement on the island so that he can be on better terms with the despots. Mr. Fariñas also has personal reasons for feeling betrayed. Read the rest of this entry »


Political Oppression: Dissidents Arrested as Pope Francis Conducts his First Mass in Cuba

Political opponents of President Raul Castro’s Communist regime are regularly subjected to harassment and intimidation.

 reports: Cuban authorities prevented leading dissidents from meeting Pope Francis in Havana on Sunday, in a sign of the Communist regime’s rigid intolerance of political opposition.

“The head of an opposition group called the Ladies in White said that 22 of the 24 members of the group who had hoped to attend a Mass celebrated by the Pope were prevented from doing so by Cuban security officials.”

Two well-known dissidents, Marta Beatriz Roque and Miriam Leiva, had been invited by the Vatican to attend a vespers service led by the Pope’s in Havana’s historic baroque cathedral.

But they said they were detained by security agents and barred from attending the event.

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“They told me that I didn’t have a credential and that I couldn’t go to the Pope’s event that was taking place there in the plaza of the Cathedral,” Ms Roque said.

The head of an opposition group called the Ladies in White said that 22 of the 24 members of the group who had hoped to attend a Mass celebrated by the Pope were prevented from doing so by Cuban security officials.

There had been intense speculation about whether the Pope would risk incurring the displeasure of his host, President Raul Castro, by meeting political opponents of the Communist regime.

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The fact that the Vatican invited the women to Sunday’s cathedral service showed Francis’ determination to try to engage with the dissident movement, which has endured years of persecution by the Castro regime.

Earlier in the day, the Pope celebrated Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square in front of tens of thousands of people.

He was driven through the crowds in a white pope-mobile, pausing to kiss children who were held up to him.

As the ceremony got underway, Cuban security officers detained at least three people who appeared to be trying to distribute leaflets in the capital’s Revolution Square, a large open area dominated by a massive likeness of revolutionary hero Che Guevara.

The three people were tackled and dragged away by the officers.

Political opponents of President Raul Castro’s Communist regime are regularly subjected to harassment and intimidation. Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: A Reminder About Life in Communist Cuba Under the Castro Regime, from a Former Political Prisoner of 22 Years 

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 »


BREAKING: Cuba Downgraded from ‘State Sponsor’ to ‘State Suggester’ of Terrorism

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.”

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“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”.

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“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 »


Ouch! Obama’s Approval Rating Higher in Communist Country Than in America

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Cameron Joseph, NY Daily News, reports: President Obama is significantly more popular in Cuba these days than in the United States, according to a new poll conducted for Fusion and The Washington Post.

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About 80% of Cubans have a favorable opinion of Obama in the wake of recent moves toward normalizing relations between the formerly feuding countries, according to the poll.

Obama’s approval rating has been hovering around 45% in the most recent polling — about as popular as President Raul Castro is in Cuba.

 Fox Nation


Zombie Marxism Prevails: Castro Thanks U.S. but Affirms Cuba’s Communist Rule

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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.”

–Barack Obama

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.

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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 »


Reality Check: It’s Not the U.S. Embargo that Keeps Cuba Poor, it’s the Brothers Castro

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Bobby Ghosh writes: Many Americans and Cubans believe that it is the tight noose of the US embargo that keeps the island nation deep in poverty. This narrative suits the regime of Fidel and Raul Castro, because it gives the grim brothers a ready excuse for their inability to give their subjects decent economic opportunities.

“For a microcosm of the Castros’ failure as managers of the Cuban economy, look no further than the tourism industry….for 20 years most tourist services and imported products in Cuba have been priced in an artificial currency created by the regime to bilk foreigners.”

But the noose is pretty loose: Most of the world does business with Havana. Although much is made of Cuba’s special relationship with Russia and Venezuela, it trades with most of the countries that would be considered close US allies. With a halfway competent government, Cuba could be a fairly wealthy nation, able to brush off the American embargo as a minor inconvenience.

For a microcosm of the Castros’ failure as managers of the Cuban economy, look no further than the tourism industry. The island—blessed as it is with gorgeous beaches, warm weather, fantastic music, and terrific rum—gets nearly 3 million foreign tourists a year. Nearly a million come from Canada, with the UK, Italy, Spain, and Germany all accounting for large groups. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. to Start Talks with Cuba to Normalize Full Diplomatic Relations, Open Embassy

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Steps to restore ties with Cuba are certain to meet resistance by some groups, particularly the Cuban community in South Florida that remain staunchly opposed to the communist leadership in Havana

Brian Murphy reports: The United States and Cuba will begin talks to normalize relations, including opening an embassy in Havana and putting to rest one most enduring Cold War standoffs, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

The landmark initiatives appeared to be set in motion by a surprise prisoner swap that freed American contractor Alan Gross after five years in custody in Cuba. In exchange, the United States would release three Cubans jailed for espionage, the Associated Press reported.

President Obama was expected to make a statement on Cuba at noon. At the same time, Cuban President Raul Castro was scheduled to address his nation about relations with the United States, Cuban state television reported.

Possible moves to close the rifts would mark a significant moment in Western Hemisphere politics.

The United State has maintain various sanctions against Cuba for more than five decades and enmity between Washington and Havana has played a role in affairs across the world — from snubs against the United States from Cuba’s allies in Latin America to the hero’s welcome given to then-President Fidel Castro during a visit to Tehran in 2001.

“President Obama’s actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government.”

— Senator Marco Rubio

At the moment, the United States and Cuba do not have full diplomatic relations, but allow interest sections to handle outreach.

The U.S. official said Gross departed Cuba on a U.S. government plane earlier Wednesday. He was released on humanitarian grounds by the Cuban government at the request of the United States, the official said.

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The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

There was no immediate comment from the White House.

Gross, 65, was detained in December 2009 while setting up illegal Internet access as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. It was his fifth trip to Cuba to work with Jewish communities on setting up Internet access that bypassed local censorship. Read the rest of this entry »


Cuban Workers Stage Rare Protest: Dissident Oscar Biscet Arrested

Prominent Cuban dissident Dr. Oscar Biscet was arrested today, according to blogger Yoani Sanchez and other sources. He was reportedly threatened with a return to prison if he failed comply fully with the harsh terms of his house arrest.

In a rare demonstration of public dissent, dozens of Cuban artisans and vendors protested in the city of Holguín this week (above), demanding the right to work without government harassment, The New York Times reports.

Read the rest of this entry »