Summer Vacation

playa_bandera
Hundreds of thousands of Cubans are on summer vacation, among them students who enjoy almost two months until September comes around. The summer break happens at the time of the highest temperatures and all analysts believe that the social pot reaches its maximum pressure point at the beginning of August. The combination of heat, scarcity and the school break, especially irritates those adults who dream of keeping their family cool, fed and quiet. Many parents are forced to stop working because they have no one to leave their children with and in most workplaces productivity declines during July and August.

In summer the beach is inviting, especially on a narrow island where the coast — even at the widest point — is less than 60 miles away. But swimming in the sea also involves some difficulties, particularly with regards to transportation and because once we are lying on the sand next to the ocean, we discover that nearly all the food on offer must be paid for in convertible pesos. This goes for the umbrellas, too.

Sooner or later boredom leads us to the corners of the house that need repair. The chair that wobbles, the sink’s half-clogged drain, the outlet that sparks, the old clothesline that no longer supports the weight of the laundry, and the toilet tank that has sprung a leak. In short, the many corners that deteriorate over time and to which we must dedicate hours when we have some days of leisure. Thus, by the end of the vacation, talking among our colleagues we hear more about the difficulties of repairing the kitchen light than of the warm Caribbean waters.

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28 thoughts on “Summer Vacation

  1. Imaginary leter to:
    fidel/raul:
    Over fifty years ago you told me I was oppressed, iliterate & poor; you told me the “giant from the north” only wanted to exploit me & abuse me.
    You asked me to join in your vision of the future, for our indepencence & our freedom.
    You told me I would no longer be ignorant, my children would learn to write & read, I’ll have medical care, food & clothes, you promised me that if worked hard I’ll have no want & our Cuba would free.
    You told me, promised me Cuba would be no one’s colony, no one would use her
    You told me how evil the giant was, how we were his colony & the colour of my skin would not matter when the revolution won.
    Then you told me you were a communist, you told me everything will be ours, all cubans, you told me in those long speeches how if we worked hard things will be better, how a better world was ahead … if I only work a little harder, a little longer.
    Yet no matter how hard I worked … things did not get better & my beloved passed form hard work & privation, it is the giant’s fault you said, it is the traitors fault you said, it is the counter revolutionaries fault you said.
    The USSR you said will help us, so you let them put nuclear weapons in our land.
    You didn’t tell me that you agreed to send my children to a far away battle field as payment … when they didn’t return home, dead in a foreign land … you said they were heroes of the revolution, but they were my children … they were Cubans … they were dead because you agreed to do what you were told.
    You said the USSR is our friend, they support us, help us because we are brothers, because we share the same cause.
    You didn’t tell me the USSR and the giant from the north are not that much different, they used us & you let them.
    One day you send people to my home, you accused me of being a counter revolutionary, you let your people beat me, incarcerated me, tortured me … all because I said to you: you told me things will be different … why are things worse?
    Today … I in my old age I remember something … I was born in a free Cuba, from free parents I was once a free man.
    Today I remember my children, their bones lay in a foreign land forgoten but for me;
    you don’t even remember their names … yet you used them as if you owned them.
    Your promises all but broken, I am poorer than before you came into my life, I am a slave of your system & I am still been judged in you Cuba by the colour of my skin.
    Nothing has changed … but the names … Batista, Castro … things are just the same …

  2. The sad thing is that the 5 are human beings, perhaps the collateral damage they caused by their blind obedience is not felt yet … but their “users” are fat at home while they are in jail; nothing has changed by their actions, they are called martyrs by some delincuents by others … al confortable while their loss is what gets them used …
    While I agree on their punishment I blame their brainwashed actions on their masters.
    Their day of judgement is comming & no amount of rethoric will change or pospone their end.
    The regime claims no belief in God … yet deep down inside the fear festers … What if we are wrong & God exists? would He accept my last act of contrition? even if no one hears it?
    Fear & tremble castros & their lackies the time of God’s judjement is comming.

  3. The 5 Cuban Spies in US jailes got their day in court and aided by excellent attorneys. They were found guilty and should serve their sentance in full. ALAN GROSS was not a US SPY and any talk of a trade supports the opressive CASTRO thugs. Alan Gross should have a trial in Cuba and let all the evidence be known. Cuba does not play fair, so to “deal” with them is a loosing proposition. I personly feel the 5 spies should have been hung from tall trees. Cuba also holds roughly 79 US FELONES some accussed of killing US LAW ENFORCEMENT officers. In Cuba they are celebrated and able to roam the streets, and one even a professor in a Cuban University. Many Farmers in the USA get government subsiduaries $$$$, to sell that food to Cuba, so it ends up in a Hotel for tourist, would be a great victory for the Castro Government. We need to promote change not maintain the disaster that crushes the people. The 5 are spies and convicted as such. So fuck them. I wish they can be kept in the same conditions Cuban jails are.

  4. WELL BOYS AND GIRLS! THE SWAP IS COMING! THE 5 CUBAN SPIES FOR ALAN GROSS!

    CNN: Castro accuses U.S. of torturing spy- Shasta Darlington, CNN Correspondent -July 31, 2010

    Havana, Cuba (CNN) — Fidel Castro on Friday accused the United States of “torturing” a Cuban agent imprisoned there, saying Cuba is being pressured to release its spies.
    The former Cuban president made the comments at a meeting of Cuba’s Union of Communist Youth in his eighth public appearance in recent weeks after almost four years of virtual seclusion, state-run website CubaDebate.cu said.

    Castro said U.S. authorities have put Gerardo Hernandez, one of five Cuban agents imprisoned in 1998, in an isolation “hole,” even though Hernandez is ill.

    “Not only is he in a high-security prison, which in itself is a deep hole, but he’s in a hole inside the hole,” Castro said. “He needs medical assistance.”

    According to Cubadebate, Castro said Cuba is being pressured to release spies “who would never be put in one of those prisons, they would never be tortured.” He did not identify who he was referring to.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/07/30/cuba.castro/#fbid=G1IMP6FFdkN

    Alan Gross, an American contractor, has been held in a Havana jail for the last eight months on suspicion of spying, although no charges have been brought against him.

    President Raul Castro said Gross was illegally distributing satellite communications to dissidents.

    U.S. officials have called for Gross¹s release. His arrest last December stalled efforts at rapprochement between the two governments.

  5. REUTERS: U.S. urges Cuba to free “unwell” detained contractor-By Linda Hutchinson-July 30, 2010

    PORT OF SPAIN (Reuters) – The United States urged Cuba on Friday to free a U.S. contractor held in Havana for nearly eight months on suspicion of espionage and subversion, saying he was unwell and had still not been formally charged.

    The arrest of Alan Gross, 60, at Havana’s airport in December has added another bone of contention between the U.S. government and communist-ruled Cuba, obstructing moves to thaw half a century of confrontation and hostility.

    Havana says Gross, who worked for a Washington-area company contracted under a U.S.-funded program to promote democracy in Cuba, committed “serious crimes” in aiding U.S. efforts to destabilize the Cuban government.

    Cuban officials said Gross gave restricted satellite communications equipment to local dissidents. U.S. officials say he was providing Internet access to Jewish groups after entering Cuba on a tourist visa.

    “We consider the arrest of Alan Gross … to be an unacceptable act. He was not violating any laws and has not been charged as far as I know,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Arturo Valenzuela, told a news conference in Trinidad and Tobago, where he was visiting.

    “He is not well, he has lost 80 pounds (36 kg), it’s been more than six months (since his arrest) and we’re encouraging the Cuban government to release him,” he said.

    Gross has been held at Villa Marista state security headquarters in Havana. Cuban officials say he has been assured defense counsel, has received consular assistance from U.S. diplomats and has been able to communicate with his family.

    Cuban President Raul Castro’s government has started releasing the first of 52 Cuban political prisoners to be freed under a recent deal struck with the Roman Catholic Church.

    The United States, along with many other foreign governments, has cautiously welcomed this move, but has demanded the release of all political detainees.

    President Barack Obama’s administration has made clear that its modest efforts so far to improve U.S.-Cuban ties will be put on hold as long as Gross remains detained.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this month that Washington was working “every single day through every channel” to obtain Gross’ release and safe return home.

    Some analysts have speculated that Cuba may want to use the detained U.S. contractor as a bargaining chip to try to secure release of five convicted Cuban intelligence agents serving long U.S. sentences for espionage.

    The U.S. government linked the five to Havana’s 1996 shoot-down of private planes piloted by Cuban exiles near Cuba.

    (Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Xavier Briand)

    http://www.whtc.com/news/articles/2010/jul/30/us-urges-cuba-to-free-unwell-detained-contractor/

  6. IN CUBA-Clearly, there was nothing new to say-By MARIFELI PEREZ-STABLE-Jul. 30, 2010

    It was a memorable July 26 after all. For the first time ever, neither Fidel nor Raul Castro addressed the nation. The nondescript Jose Ramon Machado Ventura – Raul’s second in command – delivered the main speech, reminding Cubans that the “economic battle” is the “principal task.”

    Machado echoed Raul’s words in April and also his call to proceed cautiously, step by step, without rush.

    So went the 57th anniversary of the Moncada Barracks assault that marked Fidel Castro’s debut into national politics. On July 26, 2007, Raul had raised expectations by calling for structural changes. Three years later, Cubans are still waiting.

    What’s unforgettable is the leadership’s blind spot on the economy. Fidel never had anything but disdain for markets and the right of ordinary Cubans to make a living. On economic matters, Raul has always been more pragmatic but shunned confronting his brother when push came to shove.

    Prior to July 26, Havana had been awash in rumors that a big announcement would be made.

    Raul, alas, acted like a politician by letting Machado deliver the bad news. All the same, speculation continues that the president will make a major speech before the end of the year on the economy.

    On July 7, the Comandante made his first public appearance in four years. More followed. Whether or not he’s in charge, he’s back.

    While his columns reminded Cubans that he is still alive, it’s doubtful these were read by many outside the political elite. Seeing him in the flesh is another matter altogether.

    Even if he hasn’t railed against markets, Castro is sending a clear message about his legacy. Be wary of the United States even when it puts on a pleasant face. The Obama administration and Israel are planning a nuclear strike against Iran anytime now. If it hasn’t happened, it’s because the BP disaster turned Washington’s attention elsewhere. Even under Obama the United States is humanity’s greatest enemy.

    At the same time, Fidel is focusing on the armed struggle against Batista in the late 1950s. On July 27, he wrote a column on “the strategic victory,” that is, the Rebel Army’s defeat of Batista’s army. His book bearing the same title will appear in August and a sequel titled “The Final Counteroffensive Strategy” soon thereafter.

    Castro has a military understanding of politics. Consequently, Havana is always ready to face down an invasion but needs ever more time to enact the economic reforms that would allow ordinary Cubans to improve their lives. Cubans are “masses,” not citizens, and have historic destinies defined for them. Citizens have inalienable rights to be exercised here and now as each sees fit under the rule of law.

    As official Cuba wades through in slow motion, Cuba’s youth is on the move. More than 70 percent of today’s population was either a child in 1959 or born after the revolution.

    In “The Grandchildren of the Cuban Revolution,” a documentary directed by Carlos Montaner and produced by George Plinio Montalvan, we meet a group of young women and men, some of them well known like the blogger Yoani Sanchez and the Catholic intellectual Dagoberto Valdes.

    What’s striking are the underlying themes expressed in different ways by all interviewees: the need for change even if most don’t hold out hope that it will come any time soon; their wish to travel abroad; their longing for freedom; and, especially, their yearning to be able to plan their lives to find personal and professional fulfillment.

    I was particularly impressed by lawyer Laritza Diversent, whose blog (http://jurisconsultocuba.wordpress.com/) comments on Cuban laws. In a recent posting, Diversent calls on the government to recognize the Cuban Juridical Association as a registered association, which it has not. The AJC has sued the justice minister.

    Whether rappers, punk rockers, lawyers, bloggers or students, the Cubans in this documentary are lost to official Cuba.

    The longer the leadership delays meaningful economic reforms, the more young Cubans it loses. The male seniors who are in charge are running out of time, though rushing is a no-no.

    In the meantime, Cubans under 35 can’t dream as young people everywhere do or dream only of leaving.

    ABOUT THE WRITER

    Marifeli Perez-Stable (www.marifeliperezstable.com) is senior non-resident fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, a professor at Florida International University and a columnist for the Miami Herald.

    http://www.sacbee.com/2010/07/30/2925378/clearly-there-was-nothing-new.html

  7. Will Senate vote to ease Cuba embargo?-by: William Gibson-July 30, 2010

    A bill that would ease the process of selling food to Cuba is heading toward the Senate floor.

    The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday added the Cuba provision to a broader financial services spending bill for next fiscal year. It would slightly weaken the embargo by making it easier to finance food sales. Cuba would no longer be required to pay cash in advance before acquiring American farm goods.

    “This provision would allow America’s farmers to compete on a more equal playing field with farmers from the rest of the world who are able to sell to Cuba, and do, without their government putting up roadblocks in their way,” said Senator Byron Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota.
    Dorgan sponsored legislation in 2000 that opened up agricultural trade with Cuba, which led to more than $2.5 billion of sales. The former George W. Bush administration, which wanted to restrict trade with Cuba and strictly enforce the embargo, imposed rules in 2005 to require cash in advance.

    Embargo proponents — led by Cuban-American members of Congress from South Florida and New Jersey — have blocked past attempts to ease food sales. This year’s attempt may be successful because of pressure to expand markets for American goods and because the Obama administration is moving slowly and cautiously toward a less confrontational policy toward Cuba.

    Cuba’s recent decision to release some political prisoners may improve the chances for Dorgan’s amendment.

    Many members of the House and Senate are pushing to remove the ban on American tourist travel to Cuba. But the Obama administration has stopped short of seeking such a substantial change until Cuba shows signs of moving toward democratic reforms.

  8. Concubino, gracias asere, good to hear from you. Humberto, terrific article by Castaneda, he is a rare example of a former “communist intellectual” (oxymoron) who finally saw the light. To his credit, Castaneda a past Mexican foreign minister, is one of the few political figures in Mexico who sees the castro regime for what it is. His analysis and stance on the situation in cuba is not tainted nor skewed by traditional Mexican anti-Americanism.

  9. MIAMI HERALD:The Castros blink-BY JORGE G. CASTANEDA- 07.30.10

    Finally, someone in Cuba went eyeball to eyeball with the Castro brothers, and they blinked.

    On July 7, Guillermo Fariñas, a dissident on a hunger strike for more than four months, achieved what no one has done before. Through a combination of careful confrontation, personal fortitude and international support, Fariñas forced Raúl Castro to negotiate with Cuba’s Roman Catholic Church — which led to the immediate release of five political prisoners, with 47 more to follow over the next four months.

    Of course, this is not the first time that the Cuban regime has freed political prisoners. The many other instances were almost always in exchange for political and economic concessions.

    In 1978, Fidel Castro allowed more than 3,000 jailed dissidents to leave for the United States after a group of exiled Cubans from Miami visited Havana. Many in the Miami group subsequently advocated for ending the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

    In 1984, Castro freed 26 prisoners; in 1996, three; and in 1998, more than 80, after visits from, respectively, Jesse Jackson, Bill Richardson and Pope John Paul II, according to The Miami Herald’s Andres Oppenheimer.

    Spain’s Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos desperately tried to play a role in the Fariñas case. But this time, the circumstances were different. Fariñas was willing to die for his demands; he saw how they were, in a sense, reinforced by the death of another hunger striker, Orlando Zapata, last February.

    The Castros knew that Fariñas would die, too, if they didn’t accept his demands, and that his death would make any improvement in relations with the European Union or President Obama even more difficult to acheive.

    The island’s economic situation has gone from dire to worse in recent times. Raúl Castro recognized that, without a rapprochement, he couldn’t achieve whatever changes he might hope to make — hence the dialogue with the church and the release of the prisoners.

    Despite Fariñas’ courage and political skill, the significance of the agreement between Cuba’s Cardinal Jaime Ortega and Raúl Castro is modest.

    • First, circumstances may change during the four months that will pass before all the prisoners on the list are freed. Meanwhile, the remaining prisoners are still hostage to the Castros’ dealings with the church and possibly the European Union.

    • Second, an additional 100 political prisoners in Cuba, and perhaps many more, are not included in the agreement. [The government has since indicated it may free all political prisoners, but that has not been confirmed.]

    • Third, articles 72 and 73 of the Cuban criminal code, which establish the notion of “dangerousness” — an outrageously inexplicit word that has been denounced by Human Rights Watch — are still on the books.

    According to Cuban law, anybody can be jailed at any time, even before committing a crime, if they are perceived to have a penchant for doing so. And political opposition to the regime is a crime.

    • Finally, it is unclear whether the 52 dissidents will be freed in Cuba or deported to Spain and elsewhere. Fidel Castro has used expulsion from his homeland as a political instrument for more than half a century, with great success.

    Whether the church and Spain should lend themselves to this ploy is debatable. Even “voluntary” exile is a non sequitur: Asking political prisoners in poor health to sign a statement that they will willingly accept exile is hardly magnanimous or ethical.

    Most important, however, is whether small gestures like the new agreement alter the human-rights situation in Cuba and represent the beginning of a transition in Cuban politics.

    Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director of Human Rights Watch, hit the mark when he said that he could not congratulate a government for freeing people who should never have been jailed.

    The real issue is whether there is any justification for the survival of a regime that acknowledges the existence of political prisoners, uses them as bargaining chips and needs to be forced by dead or dying hunger strikers to liberate any of them. Little can be done to change this situation until the Cuban people decide they have had enough. Meanwhile, voters should question their leaders’ having any dealings with the Cuban regime.

    Jorge G. Castaneda is Mexico’s former foreign minister, Global Distinguished Professor at New York University and fellow at the New America Foundation.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/07/30/1753014/the-castros-blink.html

  10. New Revolution,

    No problem in my book to beign a “lefty”. I have many “lefty”, “righty” and everything in the middle friends. What I have a problem with is with those who dont want TO SEE and maybe admit their admiration for Fidel and The Revolution was based on lies by the Castrofacist!

  11. Lots of new accounts in the current news about Cuban jail conditions and punishment administrated by the institutions. Cuban born Coco Farinas and ARIEL SIGLER AMAYA recenty freed from Cuban Jails are getting better health care now and have some interesting conversation.I hope we get an interview from the Canadian Rental Car incident family. We need to get to the truth and promote change WHERE EVER NEEDED, a NEW REVOLUTION . The Catholic Church and Spain just gave FACE for the Regime.Cuba has not had much say publicly. We all need to recognize the sacrifice of ORLANDO ZAPATA TAMAYO. I read here all the time, and first time posting. I have also noticed the RATS have fled. I’m a lefty, but what happens at the TOP LEVEL of Cuban Government has no excuse. CUBANS NEED TO TAKE THIS TO THE STREETS.

  12. Yubano

    Asere, I was missing you.Welcome back!.Hope you had a nice vacation.BTW the rats are gone.

  13. Where have all my foils gone? I’ve returned from vacation and see that I have no one to skewer. Have they turned tail or only pausing to return with new pseudonyms.

  14. Concubino! Funny about that video! I DOES NOT FEEL AND LOOK LIKE THE REAL FIDEL! Fidel’s style was always “staccato”, meaning with pauses! This LOOKS DIFFERENT! WHY NOT LIVE! SO WE CAN LOOK AT YOUR PRETTY FACE (YUCK!!)!!

  15. EVERYTHING AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH! HA HA HA! SMOKE AND MIRROR BOYS AND GIRLS! TRYING TO HIDE THE TRUTH! IF WE ARE GOING THRU AN ECONOMIC SLUMP, CUBA IS GOING THRU AN “ECONOMIC AVALANCHE”!! THUS MY NICK NAME!

    ASSOCIATE PRESS: Cuba: Deficit lower than expected for 2010

    HAVANA — Cuba says its budget deficit came in far below forecasts in the first half of 2010, evidence that tax increases and deep spending cuts on food imports may be helping the communist government weather a severe economic crunch.
    Cuba reported on Thursday a deficit of nearly $410 million for the six-month period, less than a quarter of the $1.7 billion that central planners originally predicted.

    Lina Pedraza, minister of finances and prices, said Cuba generated a bit more than $21.2 billion. Over the same period, it spent $21.6 billion — creating the smaller-than-expected shortfall.

    The figures were made public in the Communist-party newspaper Granma. They were approved by the nation’s Economic Affairs Commission, a slate of lawmakers that huddled prior to a full session of parliament Sunday.

    Cuba has slashed imports to deal with its economic problems, particularly in the areas of food and agriculture.

    But Pedraza attributed the lower deficit to higher taxes and improved collection methods, as well as a new law that pushed back the retirement age from state jobs while upping the amount government employees contribute to, and receive from, state pension funds.

    The government controls well over 90 percent of the economy and pays employees about $20 per month, but also provides free education through college and health care. Subsidies also are provided for housing, transportation and some food through monthly ration books.

    The outlook remained unexpectedly rosy, according to Pedraza, despite a roughly $198 million deficit created by ordinary Cubans, who have fallen behind on payment plans to reimburse the state for refrigerators, air conditioning units and other appliances authorities have distributed in homes.

    The government provided them as part of an effort to save energy and relieve strain on the island’s creaking electric grid, but requires that Cubans pay back the costs of the appliances over time. But many consumers have been unable to keep up with their payments, pushing state budgets further into the red.

    Sales also were weak for Cuba’s world-famous cigars and the domestic consumption of industrial goods, beer and eggs.

    President Raul Castro is expected to preside over a twice-annual parliament session. The 79-year-old often uses the session to announce new policies, and many are expecting him to make a speech since he did not do so at Monday’s Revolution Day commemoration — the top event on Cuba’s official calendar.

    His brother Fidel, who turns 84 on Aug. 13, has made a spate of recent public appearances, but has refrained from talking about Cuban current events, and it was not clear if he would attend parliament.

    The gray-bearded Fidel gave up Cuba’s presidency, first temporarily, then permanently, after a health crisis in July 2006. He remains head of the island’s Communist Party and is a parliament deputy, however, though he has not attended a session since December 2005.

    (This version corrects that the deficit was created in part by Cubans who have been unable to pay for state-distributed appliances, and not by any reduced by sales of appliances in state stores.))

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gnxmDmB1PoMmhcd0OmQuStOTBrPgD9H8S2F00

  16. THE GUARDIAN U.K. : Fidel Castro will take his secrets to the grave-Stephen Kinzer – 29 July 2010

    Few people know as many explosive geopolitical secrets as Fidel Castro – but don’t expect to find them in his memoirs

    At the end of the 1980s, when the Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega had emerged as an international figure, he cast around for someone to ghost-write his autobiography.

    One of his aides casually asked me if I might be interested. I told him no – not because Ortega didn’t have a fascinating life story, but because he was certainly not going to tell it honestly in a book.

    Ortega never produced an autobiography, but now, according to reports from Havana, Fidel Castro is about to publish a memoir. It is no more likely to be candid than Ortega’s would have been. Few living figures could contribute as much as Castro to our understanding of the second half of the 20th century. Don’t expect him to do it, though.

    Castro has lived almost his entire life as a clandestine revolutionary. To such figures, truth is always malleable, always subservient to political goals.

    Whatever Castro’s goal now, it is certainly not confronting difficult and complex truths or reflecting deeply on the course of his life. Castro’s career has been about myth-making; there is no reason to believe his memoir will be any different.

    Presumably Castro will describe his revolutionary war in the 1950s as intense and full of heroics, as no doubt it was. Some historians, however, marvel at how little fighting Castro’s men actually had to do and how easily the old dictatorship collapsed. Nor are we likely to find new insights into Castro’s relationship with his brother, Raúl; with their highly popular comrade Camilo Cienfuegos, who died in a plane crash that Castro described as an accident but that some Cubans suspect was a political assassination; or with Che Guevara, who by many accounts broke with him over his decision to lead Cuba into the Soviet bloc.

    Castro cannot be reasonably expected to renounce his beliefs or implicate himself in killings or atrocities. Nonetheless it would be fascinating to learn whether he still believes it was necessary to execute hundreds of his countrymen without trial in the first weeks after his victory in 1959; whether he wishes the Soviet Union had taken his advice and launched a nuclear first strike against the United States; and whether he regrets the repression and mass imprisonment of gay people, other “lifestyle dissidents”, and intellectuals who supported his cause but broke with him after his first years in power.

    Was Castro sincere when, during his guerrilla war, he swore that he was not a Communist? If so, when did he change, and why? Looking back, does he believe he might have chosen a better course?

    Although Castro is built on a larger-than-life scale, he has never been known as reflective or self-aware. His ideology has evidently not changed in half a century. For much of that time he was widely said to hold more direct personal control over his people than any leader in the world. How did that feel? Was it necessary? Don’t buy Castro’s memoir expecting insightful reflection on questions like these.

    Revolutionaries who come to power by force of arms usually have great crimes in their background. Leaders who survive campaigns by great powers to destroy them do not survive because they observe the niceties of law. Subversives who shape world events by covert action and violence work in shadows and detest the light of day.

    Few people in the world know as many explosive geopolitical secrets as Castro. Within him he is carrying a blockbuster best-seller. He is unlikely ever to write it. Like the disciplined militant he is, he will take his trove of secrets to the grave.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/jul/29/fidel-castro-memoirs

  17. El cantante “cubano”: Silvio Rodrigues, descarado de doble rostro o sin el.

  18. That Toronto Star link was mine,

    I am so sick of how the Canadian Government handled this. About 10 dyas ago as the mother was running out of credit cards she made her voice heard through various outlets, especially radio talk shows. We are lucky to have some of the best radio talk show hosts who phone in Governemt officials and demand that they act on behalf of Canadians who are in trouble.

  19. SHAKEDOWN! CASTROFASCIST MAFIA! NOW CANADIANS YOU LEARN BY THIS LESSON! CODY GOT OFF EASY RELATIVE TO THE NATIVE CUBANS!!

    Canadian Cody LeCompte will soon be allowed to return home, after being held in Cuba since April.

    The 19-year-old has been trapped at his Cuban resort, as police investigated a car crash he was involved in.

    Accommodation was reached with the Cuban government on Tuesday, with LaCompte’s family posting $2200 bail, and a confirmation that if Cuba required LeCompte to return at some future date to address the accident he would comply.

    The meeting came after comments made in Ottawa by the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Peter Kent, hinting that holding a Canadian for this long could have repercussions on Canadians deciding on Cuba as a vacation destination.

    http://www.am770chqr.com/News/Local/Story.aspx?ID=1258280

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Cuba: List of prisoners of conscience declared by Amnesty International
    NAME DATE ARREST CHARGE SENTENCE
    1 AGUIAR RAMIREZ, Nelson Alberto 20.03.2003 Art.6.1 (Law 88) 13 yrs
    2 ARGUELLES MORAN, Pedro 19.03.2003 Art Law 88 20 yrs
    3 ARROYO CARMONA, Víctor Rolando 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 26 yrs
    4 BARZAGA LUGO, Mijail 20.03.2003 Arts Law 88 15 yrs
    5 BISCET GONZALEZ, Oscar Elías 06.12.2002 Art 91 Penal Code 25 yrs
    6 CANO RODRIGUEZ, Marcelo 22.03.2003 Art 91 Pen Code & Arts Law 88 18 yrs
    7 CORRALES ALONSO, Rafael 28.02.2002 Disrespect, public disorder & resistance 4/5 yrs
    8 DIAZ FLEITAS, Eduardo 18.03.2003 Arts of Law 88 21 yrs
    9 DIAZ SANCHEZ, Antonio Ramón 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 20 yrs
    10 DOMINGUEZ BATISTA,Alfredo Rodolfo 19.03.2003 Arts Law 88 14 yrs
    11 FELIPE FUENTES, Alfredo 20.03.2003 26 yrs
    12 FERNANDEZ FERNANDEZ, Efren 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 12 yrs
    13 FERNANDEZ SAINZ, Juan Adolfo 18.03.2003 Arts Law 88 15 yrs
    14 FERRER GARCIA, José Daniel 19.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 25 yrs
    15 FERRER GARCIA, Luis Enrique 19.03.2003 Arts Law 88 28 yrs
    16 GAINZA AGUERO, Próspero 19.03.2003 Arts Law 88 25 yrs
    17 GALVAN GUTIERREZ, Miguel 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code & Law 88 26 yrs
    18 GALVEZ RODRIGUEZ, Julio César 19.03.2003 Arts Law 88 15 yrs
    19 GARCIA PANEQUE, José Luis 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code & Law 88 24 yrs
    20 GONZALEZ ALFONSO, Ricardo Severino 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 20 yrs
    21 GONZALEZ MARRERO, Diosdado 18.03.2003 Arts Law 88 20 yrs
    22 GONZALEZ PENTON, Lester 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 20 yrs
    23 GONZALEZ TANQUERO, Jorge Luis 19.03.2003 Arts Law 88 20 yrs
    24 GRAVE DE PERALTA ALMENARES, Leonel 19.03.2003 Arts Law 88 20 yrs
    25 HERNANDEZ CARRILLO, Ivan 18.03.2003 Arts Law 88 25 yrs
    26 HERNANDEZ GONZALEZ, Normando 24.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 25 yrs
    27 HERRERA ACOSTA, Juan Carlos 19.03.2003 Arts Law 88 20 yrs
    28 IGLESIAS RAMIREZ, Regis 19.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 18 yrs
    29 IZQUIERO HERNANDEZ, Jose Ubaldo 20.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 16 yrs
    30 JIMENEZ POSADA, Rolando 25.04.2003 disrespecting authority and revealing secrets about state security police 12 yrs
    31 LABRADA PEÑA, Reinaldo Miguel 19.03.2003 Arts Law 88 6 yrs
    32 LINARES GARCIA, Librado Ricardo 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 20 yrs
    33 MARTINEZ HERNANDEZ, José Miguel 20.03.2003 Arts Law 88 13 yrs
    34 MASEDA GUTIERREZ, Hector Fernando 19.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code & Law 88 20 yrs
    35 MILAN FERNANDEZ, Luis 18.03.2003 Arts Law 88 13 yrs
    36 MOLINET ESPINO, Nelson 20.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 20 yrs
    37 MOYA ACOSTA, Angel Juan 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 20 yrs
    38 MUSTAFA FELIPE, Jesús Miguel 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 25 yrs
    39 NAVARRO RODRIGUEZ, Felix 18.03.2003 Arts Law 88 25 yrs
    40 PACHECO AVILA, Pablo 18.03.2003 Arts Law 88 20 yrs
    41 PEREZ DE ALEJO RODRIGUEZ, Arturo 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 20 yrs
    42 PIÑA BORREGO, Horacio Julio 19.03.2003 Arts Law 88 20 yrs
    43 PRIETO LLORENTE, Fabio 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 20 yrs
    44 PULIDO LOPEZ, Alfredo Manuel 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 14 yrs
    45 RAMOS LAUZERIQUE, Arnaldo 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 18 yrs
    46 REYES RODRIGUEZ, Blas Giraldo 19.03.2003 Arts Law 88 25 yrs
    47 RODRIGUEZ FERNANDEZ, Alexis 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 15 yrs
    48 RODRIGUEZ SALUDES, Omar 19.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 27 yrs
    49 RUIZ HERNANDEZ, Omar Moisés 19.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 18 yrs
    50 SANCHEZ ALTARRIBA, Claro 19.03.2003 Arts Law 88 15 yrs
    51 SIGLER AMAYA, Ariel 18.03.2003 Arts Law 88 20 yrs
    52 SIGLER AMAYA, Guido 18.03.2003 Arts Law 88 20 yrs
    53 SILVA GUAL, Ricardo 20.03.2003 Arts Law 88 10 yrs
    54 SUAREZ CRUZ, Fidel 18.03.2003 Arts Law 88 20 yrs
    55 UBALS GONZALEZ, Manuel 18.03.2003 Arts Law 88 20 yrs
    56 VALLE HERNANDEZ, Héctor Raúl 18.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 12 yrs
    57 VILLAREAL ACOSTA, Antonio Augusto 19.03.2003 Art 91 Penal Code 15 yrs
    58 ZAPATA TAMAYO, Orlando 20.03.2003 Disrespect, public disorder & resistance 25 yrs 6 mo

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/cuba-list-prisoners-of-conscience

  20. Thanks Concubino & Freedom! Remember though that I have to pick up the slack since our dear friends Damierda and CuleroDeFidel are not here! THEY ARE MISSED!!

    AFP: Canada presses Cuba on cases of detained Canadians

    OTTAWA — Canada has called in Cuba’s envoy to voice concern at the detention of seven Canadians in the Caribbean nation, warning Havana it could lose tourists its economy needs, the foreign affairs ministry said.
    Peter Kent, Canada’s top diplomat for the Americas, said Ottawa called in Havana’s representative in Ottawa to a meeting Tuesday on Canadians now detained in Cuba, including Cody LeCompte, a 19-year-old Canadian man who has been unable to leave after a car accident in April.

    Seven Canadians at the moment are either detained or unable to depart from Cuba, a diplomatic source said.

    “While aware that Cuban law allows for a lengthy period of investigation, Canadian officials expressed their concern that the investigation into this matter is taking so long,” Kent said.

    “Canadians have long appreciated Cuba as a tourist destination. The delays faced by Canadians awaiting resolution of such cases could affect the choice by fellow Canadians of Cuba as a tourist destination in the future,” he also warned.

    Canada is the chief source of tourists in Cuba, ahead of Italy and France. Tourism is Cuba’s top hard-currency earner.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j3hXTq_iBBBfrjdfSWb07lEEn0_Q

  21. The Toronto Star
    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/841514–cuban-official-summoned-on-cody-lecompte-s-detention?bn=1

    Cuban official summoned on Cody LeCompte’s detention108 Canadians arrested or detained in Cuba in last five yearsPublished On Wed Jul 28 2010Email Nineteen-year-old Cody LeCompte has been held in Cuba since April 29 when the rental car he was driving was involved in an accident. He has to stay in the country until the case is dealt with in court.
    Nicholas Keung

    Ottawa has summoned a Cuban diplomat to account for Cuba’s lengthy detention of Canadians who visit the communist country, including an Ontario teen currently barred from leaving.

    The meeting Tuesday comes almost three months after Cody LeCompte of Norfolk County was involved in a car accident in Santa Lucia in April. The 19-year-old is prohibited from leaving until the case is resolved.

    According to the department of foreign affairs, 108 Canadians have been arrested or detained in Cuba since 2005; about 10 per cent of the cases are “vehicle-related.”

    Currently, about 10 Canadians, including LeCompte, are being held there. Last year, almost a million Canadians visited Cuba.

    “While aware that Cuban law allows for a period of lengthy investigation, Canadian officials expressed their concern that the investigation into this matter is taking so long,” Peter Kent, minister of state for foreign affairs of the Americas, said Wednesday.

    “The delay faced by Canadians awaiting resolution of such cases could affect fellow Canadians’ choice of Cuba as a tourist destination in the future.”

    Staff at the Cuban embassy in Ottawa declined to comment.

    LeCompte has been held since April 29 when the rental car he was driving was involved in a serious accident near Camaguey that sent him, his mother, uncle and a female Cuban friend to hospital. All have recovered from their injuries.

    Although LeCompte has not been charged, Cuban law dictates foreigners involved in car accidents remain in the country until the matter is dealt with in court.

    “Cody is trying to put up a strong face, but he’s cracking,” his mother, Danette LeCompte, told the Star in an earlier interview. She has taken leave from work to be with her son in Cuba.

    According to foreign affairs, traffic accidents are a “frequent cause of arrest and detention” for Canadians in Cuba. One can be held for up to 18 months.

    “In most cases, the driver will not be allowed to leave Cuba until the trial has taken place. In some cases, the driver will be imprisoned during this delay,” said its travel report for Cuba, which advises against driving in Cuba due to its hazardous road conditions.

    At the African Union Summit in Uganda last week, both Kent and his parliamentary secretary, Deepak Obhrai, met with senior Cuban officials and raised LeCompte’s case. A diplomatic note was also delivered to Havana.

    Kent said Canadian consular officials have called both the LeCompte family and Cuban officials, seeking expeditious treatment of this case, and will continue to offer assistance to the family.

    Liberal MP Dan McTeague, an opposition consular affairs critic, said Canadian officials must meet face-to-face with the family and assure them all that can be done is being done.

    He also said Ottawa needs to do more to educate Canadians about travel warnings on the foreign affairs website before going abroad.

  22. Thanks Humberto. As your nick suggests, you are an avalanche of patriotic news, top rated *****. Thanks again.

  23. ALL IN A DAYS’ WORK! (El Avalanchito) with a BIG E.A.I.T.O blazen across his chest!

  24. OUT WITH THE OLD FACIST SO CALLED “HEROES” AND IN WITH THE REAL HEROES!

    ASSOCIATED PRESS: Paralyzed Cuban political prisoner arrives in US- SUZETTE LABOY

    Ex preso político cubano parapléjico, Ariel Sigler Amaya, llegó refugiado a Miami

    MIAMI — A recently freed Cuban political prisoner arrived in the United States on Wednesday, where he greeted 100 well-wishers who cheered as the paralyzed former boxer called for the overthrow of the Castro government.
    Ariel Sigler, 44, addressed the crowd at Miami International Airport after arriving on a charter flight from Cuba. He had been released from a Cuban prison last month as part of a deal between the communist government and the island’s Roman Catholic Church after serving seven years of a 25-year sentence for treason. He obtained a U.S. visa quickly, and subsequently was given permission to leave the island by Cuban authorities.

    Gaunt and sitting in a wheelchair, Sigler wore boxing gloves adorned with the Cuban flag as he addressed the crowd, which often interrupted with chants of “down with dictatorship.” He is paralyzed below the waist.

    “I feel a mix of happiness and hurt,” Sigler said in Spanish. “Happiness because this is a free country. A country where in reality human rights are respected. Happiness because this beautiful country has taken me in to try to re-establish my health. And hurt because in reality I am a patriot.”

    “Down with the dictatorship. Down with the Castro tyranny. Down with the assassins Castro,” he yelled as the crowd echoed him. Many in the crowd held Cuban flags and signs that read “Welcome to Miami” and “Human rights for the Cuban community.”

    After his speech, he was given a check for an undisclosed amount by leaders of a local Cuban-American group and taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital. He was listed in stable condition, but doctors were continuing to evaluate him. Sigler did not answer questions at the airport, and it is not clear how he became paralyzed.

    Mercedes Cubas, president of the Cuba Corps, which supports the Cuban opposition, said she was cheered by Sigler’s release.

    “At least he will have a chance to regain his strength and his health and continue to fight for freedom,” Cubas said. “Because if you see his image, it looks like a man who had just been released from a Nazi concentration camp.”

    Sigler was among 75 opposition activists rounded up in March 2003 and charged with taking money from Washington to destabilize the Castro government. Those imprisoned denied that, as did U.S. officials.

    Before leaving Havana, Sigler told reporters Wednesday that he planned to return to Cuba “because this government’s days are numbered.”

    “This dictatorship has very little time left,” he said, “and I think this will be a temporary departure.”

    Sigler’s release came shortly before Cuba agreed on July 7 to release 52 more political prisoners, a landmark deal that, if completed, would empty island jails of all 75 Cubans arrested during the crackdown seven years ago.

    So far, 20 political prisoners have been released as part of the government’s second agreement with the church, and all have flown into exile in Spain with their families.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gRpOB3Bpyb1FNio1OpqfLsgLWfjAD9H8B3BO2

  25. GREAT ARTICLE!
    DEUTCH WELLE: Rebellious Spain stands firm in pursuit of change to EU Cuba policy -28.07.2010 Officially, the European Union has a Common Position on relations with Cuba. In reality, Spain has deviated from that position to such an extent that it sees itself as a lone force pushing for change in the EU’s stance.
    How does one solve a problem like Cuba? Even the United States, which has had a very clear Cuba policy for the past 50 years, finds it increasingly difficult to understand the real motives behind the contradictory actions and words coming from the regime in Havana. The political climate seems to change daily; strong hints of democratic reform and the upholding of human rights are often followed by a return to bellicose anti-capitalist statements and crackdowns.
    Despite the ambiguous nature of Cuba’s current international persona, the US position remains clear. Since April 2009, President Barack Obama has been implementing a less strict policy toward Cuba and has stated that he is open to dialogue with Havana. Some economic sanctions and travel restrictions have since been eased but the trade embargo, which has stood since 1960, will only end when Cuba shows real political change.

    If only the European Union’s stance was as clearly defined. Until recently, it looked as though it was. But in the last few months, divisions have started to appear and the bedrock on which Europe’s Cuba policy is built has started to show some cracks.

    Complicated bloc agrees on Cuba position in 1996

    While the US has the luxury of speaking with one voice, the EU has 27 which have to be singing from the same song sheet for anything of any consequence and credibility to be unanimously agreed upon. It looked as though the EU choir was on the same page when, in 1996, the member states all agreed on the Common Position in regard to relations with Cuba.

    Before the US under Obama came to the same decision, the EU agreed that the best way to encourage a change in political direction in Cuba would be through offering incentives. The EU would normalize relations with Havana if there was progress on human rights and democratization. The EU would not inflict sanctions as such but its constructive engagement with Cuba would be implemented as part of its third world aid policy which would benefit the population, not the regime.
    “The EU seeks to assist the people of Cuba to develop their society and the EU believes that democratic values, respect for human rights and economic freedom are part of this development,” Dr. Juan Diaz, the director of the CSS Project for Integrative Mediation, a Berlin-based conflict resolution project financed by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Deutsche Welle. “The EU does not necessarily believe that sanctions are the most appropriate ways of achieving these goals.”

    The Common Position survived two rounds of EU enlargement in 2004 and 2007, with the new eastern states signing up to the 1996 agreement. However, EU solidarity on Cuba began wavering when Spain elected a socialist government in 2004 and then took a substantial blow when that same government took over the EU presidency at the start of this year.

    Spain pushes own case for Cuba dialogue

    As holder of the rotating EU Council presidency, Spain tried to massively influence the EU position on Cuba by pushing for increased dialogue and a normalization of relations despite Cuba not yet meeting the benchmarks set out in the Common Position.

    “The relationship between the EU and Cuba has always been superficial,” Thiago de Aragao, Latin American senior research associate at the Foreign Policy Center, a London-based European think-tank, told Deutsche Welle.

    “The only difference has been the relationship between Cuba and Spain, which due to history has been deeper. Spain has always had closer ties with Cuba. Spain has always been the most active EU state in encouraging talks between the countries in the hope of democratic openings.”

    Spain’s argument that a more relaxed EU position would actually help achieve the human rights and democratic reform it sought took a massive blow in February with the tragic death of Cuban dissident Orlando Zapata, who died as a result of a hunger strike while in prison. Spain was forced to condemn Cuba along with the rest of Europe and the international community and reinforce the EU position on standing firm until human rights abuses ended.

    Moratinos strikes blow for Spanish policy with prisoner release

    However, the struggle around the Common Position went on. Outside of EU structures, Spanish Foreign Secretary Miguel Angel Moratinos continued to pursue his own Cuba policy, much to the annoyance of fellow EU members, particularly Germany, France and Sweden.

    “Germany holds strong to the Common Position and has been quite critical to the Spanish efforts to change it,” Professor Guenther Maihold, the deputy director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, told Deutsche Welle.

    “German Chancellor Merkel has been quite clear that she wants to see changes in the human rights record on the island before Germany would accept discussing a change in the European politics with respect to the Castro regime.”

    The criticism from fellow EU member states toward Spain became more muted in early July, however, when Moratinos, working with Cuba’s Catholic Church, managed to get the Cuban government to agree to the release of 52 political prisoners.

    Despite the apparent breakthrough brought about by Spain’s brokering of the deal, and the acceptance of a number of the released dissidents by Madrid, the release did not get universal praise. Some of the dissidents, forced to leave Cuba as part of the release deal, accused the Cuban government of a shallow act to gain temporary favor.

    They also called on the EU to remain firm in its Common Position to withhold support to Cuba until human rights and democracy were respected; a slap in the face to Spain which was hoping to promote its own approach to Havana through its successful negotiations.

    “While Spain seems to see in the release of the prisoners a moment of change in the Cuban regime, many observers see heavy economic problems as a future trigger to some opening of the economic system of the island,” Professor Maihold said. “After the release of prisoners we have always seen the arrest of new people and no change in the general politics of the regime.”

    It seems likely that the debate over the EU’s Cuba policy will continue once the bloc’s political summer break is over. Many in the EU see the release of the political prisoners by Cuba as a step toward Havana meeting the criteria Europe has set for the normalization of relations but not as a justification for increased dialogue or ties.

    Author: Nick Amies-Editor: Rob Mudge
    http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5844471,00.html

  26. ***
    What a beautiful beach! Too bad that most Cubans are second class citizens. The convertible peso is terrible. I hope to visit Cuba one day–when it is legal to do so.
    ***
    Que hermosa playa! Que lastima que la mayorea de los Cubanos son ciudanos de segunda clase. El peso convertible es terrible. Espero visitar Cuba una dia–cuando es legal hacerlo.
    ***
    John bibb
    ***

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