Citizens’ Reasons 2

razones ciudadanas 2 from Yoani Sanchez on Vimeo.


21 thoughts on “Citizens’ Reasons 2

  1. Chicago, I like your Aikido analogy, maybe we should have sent Steven Seagal down to Cuba instead of Carter :)
    Here’s my thinking: All of Cuba’s allies are now capitalist and many like Iran and China, far more aggressively imperialistic than the USA, so if Raul or Fidel had any anti-imperialist feeling they would have made peace and allied themselves with the USA a long time ago. Especially since they are now embracing capitalism. I would be curious to find out how aware Raul is of his country and the world. Do we know if it’s all a cynical act or delusion or a bit of both?

  2. Love Cuba: You mention China, but China is too big, with a four thousand year old culture. They will eventually change, but very slowly.

    My suggestion below in dealing with the Castro-fascist dynasty may sounds simplistic, but if you look at really sharp and experienced politicians like Richard Nixon, while you may not be impressed by his domestic politics, he was a master at international strategy and dealing with opponents from any quarter. By engaging China, he managed to save the world from the communist jaggernut that was spreading like wildfire. The Soviets at the time really feared him. The North Vietnamese begged and sued for peace in Paris by the time he left office. Egypt switched sides and away from the Soviet block. Now that’s really knowing how to play the game. It was only during Ford and Carter that some dominoes started falling.

  3. Love Cuba: I think the small brother is scared to see all the crumbling going on around him. That’s why he called Carter. This may all be a skit or montage leading to something bigger. Carter who’s taking all the heat from the right wing, is just a prop being used as a bridge to cover up the real goings on behind the scenes. These people are inflated with false pride and have to raise some kind of curtain to hide as best they can to look constructive or busy and hide their real motives, which is getting something from the U.S. government while giving as little as possible.

    No doubt they’re desperate, as the post by Sandokan below shows, where they can’t even grow coffee. What exactly is about to take place, no one can say. There is always the strong possibility that Carter is being used and nothing whatsoever will happen.

    In playing with them I would encourage the U.S. government the use the techique practiced in the Japanese martial art of Aikido – i.e. your opponent wants to throw you a punch, kick, or push, you encourage him then take it and flow with it, dance around it, and use it’s kinetic force to turn it against him and effectively beat him using his own exertion.

  4. On 1956 the island exported 20,000 MT of coffee valued at over $20 million. In 1957 it produced 43,600 MT of coffee beans and exported only 11,200 tons due to the guerrilla war in the main coffee growing area. In 2004 the coffee production was 13,440 MT and in 2009 only 6,000 MT. Coffee per capita in 1958 with a population of 6.6 million was 14.5 lb, in 2009 with a population of 11.3 million only 1.2 lb.

  5. THE TELEGRAM: Cuba says it spent $9.5M to update coffee industry, but low harvest numbers force it to import-April 7, 2011

    HAVANA – Cuba has spent $9.5 million the past five years to modernize coffee production, but meagre harvests mean this java-loving nation must still import to cover domestic consumption, the director of the state-run coffee company said Thursday.

    The money went toward improving coffee mills, roasters and packaging in an effort to produce the 18,000 tons needed to meet local demand, said Antonio Aleman, director of the company, Cubacafe.

    Cuba’s annual coffee harvest currently stands at 6,000 tons, and Aleman confirmed the island is buying 12,000 tons of beans to make up the shortfall.

    Some of Cuba’s beans go to subsidized coffee sold for $0.20 per 115-gram bag under Cubans’ ration cards, and some supplies pricier stores that cater to tourists and others with access to the island’s convertible currency. Cuba maintains a dual currency system in which one peso is used for subsidized items available to all Cubans and a convertible peso worth $1 is used for imported goods and some services, plus in the tourism industry.

    Like rum and cigars, coffee is an iconic product in Cuba. In the early 1960s, annual production reached 60,000 tons and Cuba was a net exporter.

    “Cubans are coffee lovers,” Aleman said. “Wherever you go, they greet you with a cup of coffee.”

    In recent years, however, harvests have fallen off dramatically.

    Aleman blamed the drop on abandoned farms due to migration to cities, limited resources and lack of investment.

    He repeated that authorities plan to begin mixing coffee with peas to make the domestic supply go further. He did not give a date.

    Cubans are accustomed to the coffee-pea blend, which was sold here until 2005. In fact, some complained when they started getting pure coffee five years ago that it tasted funny.

    President Raul Castro announced in December that the coffee-pea blend would be making a comeback. At the same time, he said Cuba pays $47 million a year on coffee imports.

    Aleman said there is a plan to stimulate coffee farming, but did not give specifics.—World/Business/2011-04-07/article-2410772/Cuba-says-it-spent-$9.5M-to-update-coffee-industry,-but-low-harvest-numbers-force-it-to-import/1

  6. @8 “The very small brother is advertising and claiming that he’s gonna make all kind of reforms at the upcoming Communist Party meeting”

    Chicago, that’s the million dollar question. Does he suffer the same delusions as his brother and think it will stop at those few reforms? Even if he is that deluded, his successors certainly won’t be. It could be a sort of semi-delusion, where if capitalism is introduced at a slow enough pace, he can keep telling himself and the people that it’s just socialism going through periodic updates. Look at where a few small updates took China over the last few decades.

    What do you think?

  7. Carlos Hernando, director de “Fariñas: el mulato indomable”

    Detenido en #cuba el periodista espanol Carlos Hernando quien realizo documental sobre Guillermo Farinas about 3 hours ago via txt – YOANI SANCHEZ TWITTER
    Carlos Hernando, 35 años, colaborador de Intereconomía, ha sido liberado tras haber pasado cinco horas detenido. El periodista nos cuenta que el arresto se produjo a las 07.00 (hora local) cuando cuatro agentes del régimen castrista le llevaron a dependencias policiales tras personarse en su casa en El Vedado. Hernando, autor de un cortometraje sobre el disidente Guillermo Fariñas, asegura que “está bien” y que no le “han hecho nada grave”.

    Hernando relata que los agentes le han mostrado un informe en el que se detallaba cada uno de los pasos dados desde que llegó a la isla, y le han interrogado por su trabajo en Intereconomía y si tenía alguna relación con el ex presidente José María Aznar. Las autoridades cubanas le han acusado de “contrarrevolucionario” y le han dado un límite de 48 horas para que abandone la isla.

    Claudia Cadelo, conocida bloguera cubana, daba hoy a conocer la noticia a través de un SMS. Según el mensaje, Hernando fue detenido esta mañana en la casa donde estaba alojado. Tras el arresto, fue trasladado a un lugar desconocido con todas sus pertenencias.

    Carlos Hernando realizaba su sexta visita a Cuba. Se encontraba embarcado en su nuevo proyecto, la grabación de un disco a la memoria de su padre, un eminente neurocirujano madrileño, y deseaba filmar un documental sobre los trovadores en la isla, porque considera ese lugar “el mejor lugar del mundo para grabar un disco”.

    Desde su estancia en la isla, Hernando ha mantenido siempre un estrecho contacto con el disidente Guillermo Fariñas. En septiembre de 2010, dos meses después del fin de una huelga de hambre de 135 días que puso en varias ocasiones en peligro su vida, Hernando logró entrevistarlo y realizar un cortometraje sobre el disidente, estrenado el año pasado en Madrid.


    FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE: The bells ring for change in Cuba-By Risa Grais-Targow

    By all rational measures, Cuba is effectively irrelevant to the United States. The island is small, its economy is about the size of New Hampshire’s, and since the collapse of the USSR it poses no strategic threat. Yet the Castros have a habit of popping up in the headlines. In part, that is because of the inevitable fascination with a small country that has been a foreign policy irritant for the United States since 1959 and, more recently, its outsized role in Florida politics. But change is coming to Cuba, slowly but surely, and with change comes the possibility of unexpected volatility.

    Cuba is gearing up for the first Cuban Communist Party (CCP) congress in 14 years, to be held April 16-19. Much of the event will be focused on formalizing Raul Castro’s small steps toward economic liberalization (e.g., trimming the state’s workforce and allowing more room for entrepreneurs) outlined in a November 2010 wish-list of 300 reforms. Another, perhaps more important, development will be the identification of the next generation of leaders, including the appointment of a new second-in-command for the CCP (the second most powerful position in Cuba). The long delay since the previous CCP congress suggests that there has been much internal wrangling over that issue.

    The Castros are clearly on the way out (Fidel is 84 and Raul is 79), and the CCP has promised that the congress will usher in a new generation of leaders. Just how new and young they will be remains to be seen. On March 25, Raul Castro announced that the 50-year-old Economy and Planning Minister Marino Murillo, who has been the architect of much of the economic reform agenda, would now oversee its implementation as a sort of economic czar, signaling Raul’s devotion to the reform process. The CCP may, however, simply shuffle senior party members into new positions rather than appoint younger reformers.

    Such developments could also be important for the U.S. and perhaps trade with Cuba. Unless Congress decides to revisit the issue, the Helms-Burton Act of 1996 stipulates that the Cuban embargo cannot be lifted while the Castro regime is still in power. A shift in the leadership could also open the way to dealing with other potential concerns. For example, Cuba is actively exploring for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, raising U.S. concerns about how it would handle disasters similar to the 2010 Macondo well blowout.

    But the CCP faces deeper challenges than this round of leadership refreshment. Most young Cubans are disenchanted with the regime. They have spent most of their lives in post-Soviet Cuba dealing with grinding economic hardship. Finding true believers among that generation is likely a difficult task and the regime’s ability to implement meaningful reforms will affect the stability of Cuban politics further down the line.

    Risa Grais-Targow is an analyst in Eurasia Group’s Latin America practice.

  9. BBC NEWS: Spain to welcome Cuban dissidents
    Spain has said that some 37 former Cuban political prisoners and their family members are expected to arrive in the country on Friday.

    The former prisoners, along with some 200 relatives, are due to fly from Havana to Madrid on a plane chartered by the Spanish government.

    It will be the largest such group to arrive since Spain reached a deal with the Cuban authorities last summer.

    A Spanish minister said it would be a moment of pride for the country.



    HUFFINGTON POST:Bureaucracy: A Week of Enduring the Cuban System – by Christopher Reeve

    The customs officer at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport weighed my bags and asked me about their contents. He didn’t need to ask. All of the Miami Cubans on my flight brought the same items: food and medicine in one bag, and clothes and hygienic products in another. This is what the Cuban government allows.

    Because basic goods of any quality are difficult to find in Cuba, it isn’t enough to bring money to family members. You have to carry the actual goods.

    I told the man what I was bringing. He then asked me what I had paid for the “gifts.” After I told him, he wrote the number on a piece of paper, and sent me to a cashier who added a third of that figure to the amount. She then asked that I pay her the new figure–cash only.

    Welcome to Cuba.

    After eight years and new U.S. legislation allowing me to visit my family, I was back on the island of my father’s birth.

    I hadn’t planned on going to Cuba, but went to accompany my cousin who was visiting her sick grandmother.

    By the end of our trip, I concluded that the Cuban system made life unnecessarily difficult.

    Why did it take two hours to find fish in a coastal neighborhood? Why did it take another two hours to change money at a bank? Why couldn’t we find fruit at the market? Why did arranging transportation take days? Why did the most mundane of tasks require going from place to place and person to person, and waiting in numerous lines?

    Very few people have phones, fewer have computers, and only a handful have “intranet,” which allows for emailing only through the state-run account of the computer’s owner. Internet is available in tourist spots for about $12 an hour, the equivalent of a Cuban professional’s monthly wages, effectively keeping Cubans from accessing it.

    To make calls, I had to use a neighbor’s phone. When she overheard my difficulty arranging transportation, she smiled at me, threw her arms in the air, and proclaimed, “Cuba is socialist!”

    Throughout my trip, I thought of her words frequently.

    Near the center of Havana, I asked two actors about their government.

    “This is shit, buddy,” one replied in Spanish.

    I would also recall his words throughout my trip.

    I told them about a play I saw my first time on the island. An actor in the play referred to Cubans as butterflies with no wings, saying they spend their lives getting educated, but can never leave the island to see the world for themselves.

    I asked my new friends if any of their work criticized the system. “Are you crazy?” the second actor responded. “That would be my last act. You wouldn’t see me again.”

    We spoke about the role of a free press.

    The second actor acknowledged that the media’s role is to challenge government and corporate actions (one in the same in Cuba), so Cuba’s media–an extension of the regime–is worthless. He looked down as he spoke and appeared embarrassed by his summation.

    I told them that I thought it a contradiction to educate a population on the one hand, and deny them the ability to communicate with the world and access information via the internet on the other. They nodded in silence.

    We talked about Cuba’s ludicrous dual currency system. One currency, the Cuban peso, is the currency used to pay employees. The other currency, the “convertible” peso, is tied to the U.S. dollar and was created in response to remittances from Miami. Cubans receiving U.S. dollars buy convertible pesos for a fee. Those pesos can then be used to purchase higher quality goods only sold in that currency.

    Cubans with no access to dollars are left wanting, since buying a convertible peso costs 25 Cuban pesos.

    The irony here is that Cubans whose families defected get to live more comfortably than Cubans whose families remained loyal to the revolution and stayed.

    “This is shit, buddy,” the first actor repeated.

    Throughout my trip, I noticed that most cigarette smokers smoked a harsh filterless cigarette. I told them that I was surprised that a government that touts its medical accomplishments would permit the sale of such cigarettes that must certainly result in costly health care for aging smokers. Everyone admitted to knowing the dangers.

    My aunt said it didn’t matter. When given a cigarette with a filter, she breaks off the filter before smoking. I couldn’t help but think that this mentality was telling of Cuban society. Generally, if people have hopes and dreams and believe that the future will be bright, they tend to care for their health. They don’t tear filters off cigarettes before smoking them.

    A government employee tried to charge me five convertible pesos to enter the Colon Cemetery to lay flowers on my grandfather’s grave. “I don’t make the rules. I just follow them,” the woman said.

    I thought this was the epitome of the system’s insensitivity and greed. But it got worse.

    About two hours before my flight to Miami was scheduled to depart, I was told that I had the wrong visa and would not be permitted to leave Cuba.

    I spent the next two hours trying to find someone to help me resolve the issue (that I still don’t comprehend since I’ve gone to Cuba with the same visa in the past).

    I spoke with immigration officials, employees of the state-run travel agency dealing with the flights, and anyone else in the airport who would listen to me.

    Those who didn’t walk away while I was talking to them told me that there was nothing anyone could do.

    I offered to pay for a new visa and any fine to get on my flight. Not possible, they said.

    Knowing that my family would be waiting for me in Miami and that I still needed to get to New York, I desperately asked to be deported. Not possible, they repeated.

    I was told that although my problem was common, there was no mechanism to solve it.

    I heard the same response repeatedly: “I don’t make the rules. I just follow them.”

    I would simply have to wait until the next day to go to the immigration office.

    I left the airport, took a shared car to the Centro Habana neighborhood, and walked through its dark streets between the decaying buildings, remembering the words of my new friends: “Cuba is socialist!” and “This is shit, buddy.” I walked along the famed malecon seawall until I reached my uncle’s house.

    Anger and uncertainty prevented me from sleeping that night.

    The next morning, my uncle took me to the address an airport employee had given me the night before.

    It was the wrong immigration office.

    Meeting the requirements of the visa process meant spending hours driving around Havana on a scavenger hunt.

    Back at the airport, I spent the day begging people to check if there were any seats available on any of the overbooked flights to Miami.

    I learned that my frantic mother had not gone to work and was going to wait at Miami’s airport until I arrived.

    I was finally able to get on a flight, but only after paying more than $300, the fee the state-run agency charges for a seat on any airline.

    I later found out that they had sold my seat from the night before as well.

    These earnings plus the $46 for the visa process meant that keeping me from making my flight was excellent business for the Cuban government.

    Now back in New York, I keep reminding myself to focus on the beautiful memories I made with my family while in Cuba, and not on the inefficiency, ineptitude, indifference, and hunger for money of the bureaucratic apparatus that is the Cuban government.

  11. THE WASHINGTON POST: We support democratic uprisings in the Middle East. Why not in Cuba?-By Andres Martinez, Thursday, April 7,

    The world has been transfixed recently by the struggles of people living under atrophied dictatorships, who, empowered by new forms of communication, have risen up and collectively said “no mas” — or the Arabic equivalent. Individuals such as Wael Ghonim, the 30-year-old Google marketing executive who galvanized the Egyptian opposition on Facebook and spent a couple of weeks in prison for his efforts, have been lionized on American newscasts.

    So what happens when, amid all this, one of the world’s most atrophied military dictatorships sentences an American to 15 years in prison for handing out communications equipment to religious groups so that they might connect to the outside world? Should we expect outrage? A cable-news drumbeat on behalf of the imprisoned American? Might Anderson Cooper himself lead the rescue operation?

    Not quite. U.S. Agency for International Development contractor Alan Gross has indeed been convicted by a kangaroo court for providing satellite phones to Jewish groups — a “crime” that in the legal parlance of totalitarian regimes translates into “acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the state.” But Gross hasn’t much ruffled the Anderson Coopers of the world because the atrophied military dictatorship is not in the Middle East, but closer to home, in Cuba.

    Now, Cuba is no Egypt. Cuba’s disdain for basic human rights and democratic norms is far more startling a departure from the prevailing conditions in its part of the world. And Cuba is far more shut off from the outside world than Egypt is. There can be no heroic Google employees or Twitteratis or Facebookers in Havana precisely because the communist regime has been so successful at keeping Cuba sealed off from the outside world and the 21st century. The “Arab Spring” may yet inspire Cubans to demand more freedoms, but the fact that they are not on the grid in any meaningful way makes that less likely.

    It’s appalling, meanwhile, how the Castro brothers, who have ruled the island for more than half a century, continue to get a pass for their behavior, as if they have a license to preside over a tropical gulag in perpetuity.

    It would be difficult to overstate the isolation of Cubans trapped on that island. The spread of democracy throughout Latin America has been one of the more auspicious global developments of the past 30 years, yet even the region’s most principled democratic leaders — former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva comes to mind — embrace the Castros and are willing to exempt them from regional democratic norms enshrined in a series of treaties.

    The American left is no friend of the Cuban people either, so eager are liberals to atone (or to make Cubans pay) for our government’s past imperial overreach in the region. It’s one thing to cheer attempts to bypass totalitarian regimes’ “master switch” in the Middle East, but it is decidedly declasse in enlightened circles in this country to dwell on the lack of freedoms in Cuba.

    Nor is the American right a friend to Cubans; the Cuban American exile community in Florida has long been the Havana regime’s co-conspirator in keeping their brethren on the island trapped in the past. The U.S. embargo on Cuba is a stark departure from the American belief that more, rather than less, commercial and cultural engagement is key to loosening totalitarian regimes’ grip on power. Our trade embargo and travel ban empower the Castros by helping the regime keep the island hermetically sealed and provide the regime a permanent license to deprive people of their liberties: Claiming that they are besieged by “el imperio” gives the Castro brothers the perfect alibi at home and throughout Latin America.

    Former president Jimmy Carter traveled to Havana last week on a goodwill mission that many mistakenly believed would culminate in Gross’s release. He referred to Fidel Castro, now retired but still looking over his generalissimo brother’s shoulder, as an “old friend,” echoing the widely held view of Fidel as a charmingly roguish uncle who can’t bring himself to abandon his adolescent enthusiasms (which include depriving Cubans of essential freedoms).

    Carter suggested that releasing Gross would be one of several measures that could improve relations between Cuba and the United States. But that is not what the Castros want, and they must want it even less given what is happening in the Middle East. Why would they crack open the door to the connectivity that inspires a networked identity among people, encourages free speech and accelerates demands for generational change? Havana has no need for the Googles and Facebooks of the world, and keeping the 61-year-old Gross in prison guarantees that Barack Obama cannot loosen the embargo anytime soon. In a sense, Carter was counseling parties with no interest in reconciling.

    Against this backdrop, it is easy to second-guess the wisdom or effectiveness of official U.S.-sponsored efforts to strengthen civil society groups in Cuba and introduce the rudimentary equipment needed to get them on the global grid. But we should cheer Gross’s larger cause, as we did Wael Ghonim’s cause, because they are one and the same.

    The writer directs the Bernard Schwartz Fellows Program at the New America Foundation.

  12. With regards to Humberto here is a little something I would like to contribute to his archive of information on the visit of our former President Jimmy Carter to Yoani this past week…

    FONTOVA: Jimmy Carter does Havana
    Ex-president sympathizes more with Castro thugs than their murdered victims
    By Humberto Fontova
    The Washington Times
    7:27 p.m., Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Embracing a recent invitation by the Castro brothers, Jimmy Carter visited Cuba last week. “We greeted each other as old friends,” gushed the former president after his meeting with Fidel Castro.
    “In 2002, we received him warmly,” Fidel reciprocated. “Now, I reiterated to him our respect and esteem.”
    “Jimmy Carter was the best of all U.S. presidents,” gushed Raul Castro while personally seeing off his American guest.
    Jimmy Carter earned all this warmth, esteem and joviality from Cuba’s Stalinist rulers by doing everything within his power to dismantle the so-called embargo against them. “The embargo of Cuba is the stupidest law ever passed in the U.S.”, he said in 2002. And yet, as president, Mr. Carter imposed more economic sanctions against more nations than any other American president in modern history. These sanctions were against Chile, Iran, Rhodesia, Nicaragua, South Africa, Paraguay and Uruguay. Mr. Carter was extremely selective in imposing his sanctions – let’s give him that. He was careful to punish only U.S. allies.

    In Cuba, Mr. Carter also took time to visit and console some bereaved Cuban families. According to the “Black Book of Communism” (no tome of the vast, right-wing conspiracy, much less of the “Miami Mafia”) Mr. Carter’s Cuban hosts murdered 12,000 to 14,000 Cubans by firing squad. According to Freedom House, more than half a million Cubans have suffered in the Castros’ various gulags, dungeons and torture chambers, an incarceration rate higher than Josef Stalin’s. According to the scholars and researchers at the Cuba Archive, the Castro regime’s total death toll – from torture, prison beatings, firing squads, machine-gunning of escapees, drownings, etc.-approaches 100,000.

    So Mr. Carter would seem to have little trouble in finding bereaved Cuban families to meet. And he did meet the grieving families of some Cuban-born prisoners. But these prisoners were serving time in U.S. prisons, after being convicted by U.S. juries for espionage against the nation that elected Jimmy Carter president and for conspiracy to murder fellow citizens. These Cubans, you see, are the ones who tugged at Mr. Carter’s heartstrings.

    Some background: On Sept. 14, 1998, the FBI uncovered a Castro spy ring in Miami and arrested 10 people. Five were convicted by U.S. juries (from which Cuban-Americans were scrupulously excluded) and became known as “the Cuban Five” in Castroite parlance.

    According to the FBI’s affidavit, these Castro agents were engaged in, among other acts:
    1. Gathering intelligence against the Boca Chica Air Naval Station in Key West, the McDill Air Force Base in Tampa and the headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command in Homestead, Fla.
    2. Compiling the names, home addresses and medical files of the U.S. Southern Command’s top officers, along with those of hundreds of officers stationed at Boca Chica.
    3. Infiltrating the headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command.
    4. Sending letter bombs to Cuban-Americans.
    5. Spying on McDill Air Force Base, the U.S. armed forces’ worldwide headquarters for fighting “low-intensity” conflicts.
    6. Locating entry points into Florida for smuggling explosive material.

    One of these Castro agents, Gerardo Hernandez, also infiltrated the Cuban-exile group Brothers to the Rescue, who flew unarmed Cessnas to rescue Cuban rafters in the Florida straits, also known as “the cemetery without crosses.” Estimates of the number of Cubans who have died horribly there run from 30,000 to 50,000. Brothers to the Rescue often would drop flowers into the sea for those they had been unable to rescue.

    These pilots risked their lives almost daily, flying over the straits, alerting and guiding the Coast Guard to any rafters and saving thousands of these desperate people from joining that terrible tally. Before the Castro Revolution, Cuba was deluged with more immigrants per capita than the United States.

    In February 1996, Castro agent Gerardo Hernandez fulfilled his mission by passing the flight plan to Castro for one of the Brothers’ humanitarian flights. With this information in hand, Cuba’s top guns saluted and sprang to action. They jumped into their MiGs, took off and valiantly blasted apart (in international air space) the utterly defenseless Cessnas. Four members of the humanitarian flights were thus murdered in cold blood. MiGs against Cessnas, cannons and rockets against flowers.

    Three of these murdered men were U.S. citizens, one a decorated Vietnam veteran. The other was a legal U.S. resident. No record exists of Jimmy Carter ever meeting with their families. But in Havana, Jimmy Carter smilingly met with the families of the man convicted in U.S. courts of helping murder them, and with Raul Castro himself, who personally gave the order to shoot down the defenseless planes.

    “I had the opportunity to meet the families of the five Cuban patriots” (Hernandez’s among them), Mr. Carter said during an interview with Castro media apparatchiks, “with their wives and with their mothers. … I’m well aware of the shortcomings of the U.S. judicial system [but apparently not the Cuban] but hope that President Obama will grant their pardon. He knows my opinion on this matter, that the trial of the Cuban Five was very dubious, that many norms were violated.”
    In the Castros’ fiefdom, people are sent to the firing squad and prison based on Che Guevara’s famous legal dictum: “Judicial evidence is an archaic bourgeois detail. We prosecute and execute from revolutionary conviction.”

    So during an interview in Havana, Jimmy Carter saw fit to castigate “the shortcomings of the U.S. judicial system,” and hailed the Castros’ KGB-trained and U.S. convicted spies as “patriots.”
    No wonder P.J. O’Rourke famously dubbed Jimmy Carter, “that most ex of America’s ex-presidents.”

    Humberto Fontova is author of “Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant” (Regnery, 2005).
    © Copyright 2011 The Washington Times, LLC

  13. Been busy, chicago :) although I have something to write now:

    Here’s what Yoani was referring to in one of her twitters:

    The “composed” conversation is at the beginning of the following.

    I wonder what the boys are thinking back at Minint now? Someone better keep that video going on youtube in case the Minint boys pull it off. It is a testament to the “war of ideas”

  14. Where did all the opinionated people go? Come on let it rip. The very small brother is advertising and claiming that he’s gonna make all kind of reforms at the upcoming Communist Party meeting which reputedly meets every ten to fifteen year or so, and no one has anything to say about it?

    Maybe english subtitles might help get the Citizen Reason’s show better ratings.

    This is getting boring with just Humberto dutifully doing his cut and paste work, and I writting to myself.

    Is there some kind of silent protest going on?


    NPR: ‘We Cut The Head,’ But ‘The Animal Is Still Alive,’ Tunisian Activist Says
    So much has happened in the five months since, that it sometimes gets forgotten that the changes sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East began last December in Tunisia.

    It was there that protests against the regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali left more than 200 people dead before he gave up power in January. Protesters in Egypt and elsewhere say they were inspired in part by what they saw happen in Tunisia.

    All Things Considered host Robert Siegel and producer Art Silverman are in Tunisia following up on the story of what happened in that nation and where things stand now.

    On the show today, Robert speaks with activist Sihem Bensedrine, a spokeswoman for one of the groups pushing for reform and the force behind Kalima (“the word”), an independent Internet radio station broadcasting from Tunis.

    Robert says that Bensedrine, “an elfin woman of 61,” knows well “the abuses of liberty.” She has been jailed. Her offices have been raided. The government has tried to keep the station from reporting about repression.

    So, Robert asked, is Tunisia now “on the road to democracy?”

    “Yes, we are,” said Bensedrine. “But it’s very, very difficult. … We cut the head, but the body of the animal is still alive.” Regime holdouts, still “run the country.”


  16. ASSOCIATED PRESS: Cuba reports sugar production to be akin to 2010

    CALIMETE, Cuba — Cuba’s 2011 sugar production will be similar to or slightly higher than last year’s total, which was the worst in more than a century, officials said Wednesday.

    The December-April harvest is nearly complete and should be slightly above forecasts, Sugar Ministry expert Osiris Quintero said. He did not give an exact figure but said it would be in the ballpark of the 1.1 million tons produced in 2010.

    “This year is undoubtedly going better,” Quintero said. “It is not going to be a harvest much greater than last year’s. … But that was a modest harvest” because of drought.

    He said Cuba’s refineries hope to take in a similar amount of sugarcane this year but process it more efficiently and produce slightly more sugar.

    Cuba ousted its then-sugar minister last May as the government reported that the 2010 harvest was the island’s least productive since 1905.

    According to census reports from the 1905-06 season, 1.23 million tons of sugar were harvested that year.

    Cuba used to be a world leader in sugar, annually producing 6 million to 7 million tons. The communist government made the annual harvest a point of revolutionary pride, regularly sending brigades of office workers from the cities out into the countryside to boost output.

    The collapse of the Soviet bloc combined with a continuing U.S. trade embargo to erase the island’s biggest guaranteed markets and low global commercial prices undermined the industry, which also has been short on investment.

    Today the island has just 60 refineries, compared to 156 a decade ago.

    The sugar business elsewhere in the Caribbean also has suffered in recent years.

    But rising prices in recent years have led Cuban officials to turn back to sugar, which today trails tourism and nickel as the country’s top revenue producers.

    President Raul Castro and other officials are pushing for improved productivity, saying it is the key to boosting the sluggish Cuban economy.

    Quintero led reporters Wednesday on a tour of sugarcane fields, a growers’ cooperative and a refinery in the central province of Matanzas, where officials showed off modern combines from Brazil that strip the cane as it is picked — avoiding the need to haul it to a special center for cleaning.

    More than 60 such machines have been deployed as part of an effert to update and streamline the chain of production, he said.

    Quintero also said Cuba is open to foreign investment in the sugar industry, but he did not say from where or give other details.


    THE CANADIAN PRESS: Reuters strongly rejects Cuban claim its journalist was collaborating with US intelligence-By Paul Haven, The Associated Press
    HAVANA — The Reuters news agency on Tuesday vehemently denied an accusation made on Cuban state television that one of its journalists helped arrange a meeting between an undercover Cuban agent and a U.S. diplomat who the program described as a CIA operative.

    The allegations against former Reuters bureau chief Anthony Boadle were made on a Monday evening program called “Cuba’s Reasons,” which featured a previously little-known dissident named Raul Capote who said he was in fact “Agent Daniel,” working for Cuban intelligence.

    There was no way to independently establish the veracity of the accusation. The show, dedicated to uncovering plots against Cuba, is shot in the style of a real-crime drama, with a mix of grainy secret footage, tense music and stylized dramatizations.

    “Reuters refutes the allegations of the report, and stands firmly on its 160 years of accurate and unbiased reporting in Cuba and around the world,” said Erin Kurtz, a spokesperson for Thomson Reuters, in a statement sent to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

    While Cuba’s official media often denounce the foreign press as being biased, it is unusual for it to make such a serious accusation, and it gave ambiguous evidence to back it up.

    On the program, Capote says that he was invited by Boadle to attend a reception at the German Embassy, without giving a date. The two left the party by foot after two hours and walked through the dark Havana night, he said.

    “We walked I don’t know how many blocks, until we arrived at a dark place where a car was parked. There was a shadow inside, a man,” Capote said. He said it was Mark Sullivan, who worked at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana from 2006-2008.

    Capote says he did not know Sullivan at the time, but that he later revealed himself to be a CIA agent.

    He said that at some point after the meeting with Sullivan, he began working with the CIA himself, though he was in fact a double agent. U.S. officials he took to be intelligence agents asked him his opinion on Cuban politics and eventually gave him a code name and satellite phone to use to communicate, he said.

    Gloria Berbena, a spokeswoman at the American diplomatic mission, had no comment.

    The program showed a picture of Boadle and accused him of serving as a “liaison” between Capote and the CIA. It gave no evidence other than Capote’s account, nor did it mention any other alleged rendezvous involving Boadle during his roughly six years in Cuba.

    It also accused Boadle of lacking journalistic balance, saying that during his “stay in Cuba from March 2002 through 2008 he published reports favouring local counterrevolutionaries and the interests of the United States and the European Union.”

    Phil Peters, a Cuba expert who is vice-president of the Arlington, Virginia-based Lexington Institute think-tank , said the accusation that Boadle was helping set up intelligence meetings went much farther than Cuba’s usual complaints against what it considers biased foreign media coverage.

    “It’s one thing that they would yank a journalist’s chain over their coverage … but the allegation that a journalist is working for a foreign government is a completely different type of charge,” he said.

    Cuba has kept up an unusually strong stream of criticism of the foreign press in recent months.

    In February, the Communist Party newspaper Granma carried an article denouncing The Wall Street Journal for an editorial that drew parallels between Cuba and Egypt, where a popular uprising forced former President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

    The editorial was published days after Cuban media lashed out at CNN’s Spanish-language channel for reporting that an opposition demonstration was going to take place in Havana. The protest never occurred.

    Cuban state cable TV providers in January removed CNN’s Spanish service from a package of channels provided mostly to hotels, foreign companies and diplomats on the island, though no reason was given.

  18. Let’s see how what the comandante and the brother do next after this communist gala event. Probably nothing as usual. They’ll just enjoy the euphoria of the applauses and congratulate each other on how much more misery they’ve brought to the cubans the last ten years and how the poor devils took in stride.

  19. I enjoyed watching Razones Ciudadanas. The discussion about the upcoming party congress and the “lineamientos” or lineaments was very informative. Great work by all involved, don’t know who the cameraman was, but he or she did a great job, also with the editing. The intro music by Ciro was powerful and heartfelt.

  20. ・ This Holidays you have to go in a tour Cuba!

    * Cuba?

    ・ Yes man! It’s where they have arrest the American Jew Alan P. Gross, for fighting over civil liberties and human rights.

    * Tour? Holidays? Freedom? Seriously, CUBA??


    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Cuba accuses Reuters journalist of collaborating with US intelligence-By Paul Haven

    HAVANA — Cuban state-television on Monday accused a former bureau chief for the Reuters international news agency of arranging a meeting on a darkened Havana street between an undercover Cuban agent and a U.S. diplomat who the program claimed was really a CIA operative.

    The program, dedicated to uncovering supposed plots against Cuba, featured a professor and little-known dissident named Raul Capote, who described himself as “Agent Daniel,” the Cuban intelligence agent who purportedly took part in the meeting.

    Capote said he attended a reception with Reuters’ then bureau chief, Anthony Boadle, at the German Embassy, without giving a date. The two left the party by foot two hours later, walking through the quiet Havana night, he said.

    “We walked I don’t know how many blocks, until we arrived at a dark place where a car was parked. There was a shadow inside, a man,” Capote said. He said it was Mark Sullivan, a diplomat at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana in 2006-2008 who the program accused of being a CIA agent.

    The program showed a picture of Boadle and said he served as a liaison between Capote and the CIA. It added that during Boadle’s “stay in Cuba from March 2002 through 2008 he published reports favouring local counterrevolutionaries and the interests of the United States and the European Union.”

    Capote said that in time he began working with the CIA himself — though he was in fact a double agent. U.S. officials he took to be members of the CIA asked him his opinion on Cuban politics and eventually gave him a satellite phone to use to communicate, he said.

    The Reuters office in Havana had no immediate comment, nor was there any reaction from the U.S. Interests Section, which Washington maintains instead of an embassy. Cold War enemies Cuba and the United States have had no formal diplomatic relations for a half century. The Cuban government also declined to comment.

    Boadle currently works for Reuters as an editor in Washington.

    The program, called “Cuba’s Reasons,” is shot in the style of a real-crime drama, with a mix of grainy secret footage, creepy music and stylized dramatizations. Cuba has been broadcasting episodes of it focusing on what it considers Washington’s “cyberwar” against the island since shortly before the trial of U.S. government contractor Alan Gross.

    Gross was given a 15-year sentence in March after being convicted of illegally bringing communications equipment into Cuba while working on a USAID-funded democracy program.

    While Cuban state-run media often denounce the foreign press as being biased, it is unusual to single out individuals or make such a serious and public accusation.

    In recent months, Cuba has denied press accreditation for a number of foreign journalists and has pushed for them to stop working on the island.

    In February, the Communist Party newspaper Granma carried an article denouncing The Wall Street Journal for an editorial that drew parallels between Cuba and Egypt, where a popular uprising forced former President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

    The editorial was published days after Cuban media lashed out at CNN’s Spanish-language channel for reporting that an opposition demonstration was going to take place in Havana. The protest never occurred.

    Cuban state cable TV providers in January removed CNN’s Spanish service from a package of channels provided mostly to hotels, foreign companies and diplomats on the island, though no reason was given.

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