Strictly Prohibited: Drinking alcohol, Animals, Ball games, Skimpy clothing

It’s difficult for a cell to maintain its health inside a sick organism. In an inefficient society the bubble of functionality bursts. In the same way, certain ethical values — selected and filtered — cannot be strengthened in the midst of a debacle of moral integrity. Rescuing codes of social conduct implies also accepting those that clash with the prevailing ideology.

We are now being called upon by the official media to recover lost values. According to the version put forth by the commentators on TV, responsibility for the deterioration falls mainly on the family, a portion on the schools… but not at all on the government. They talk about bad manners, rudeness, lack of solidarity and the extent of bad habits such as stealing, lying and laziness. In a country where for half a century the educational system, the entire press, and all the mechanisms of cultural production and distribution have been monopolized by a single party, one can only ask: what is the source of such impoverishment?

I remember that when I was a little girl no one dared to address another person as “señor” — mister — because it was a bourgeois throwback. As the use of “compañero” — comrade — is associated with an ideological position, many of us began to adopt new forms: “cousin,” “young man,” “hey you,” “Pop”… along with a long list of phrases derived from vulgar speech. Now they complain on TV that when we address others we are insulting, but… who started this deterioration?

The Cuban system opted for social engineering, and toyed with individual and collective alchemy. The most perfect example of this failed laboratory was the so-called “New Man.” This Homus Cubanis would supposedly come of age in sacrifice, obedience and loyalty. His uniformity was incompatible with the particular ethics of each home. So to achieve him, millions of Cuban children were removed — as much as they could be — from the family environment.

We went to daycare centers just 45 days after we were born; the Pioneer Camps took us in right after we learned our first letters; we went to schools in the countryside as soon as we left childhood, and spent our adolescence in high schools in the middle of nowhere. The State believed it could take over the formative role of our parents, thought it could exchange the values we brought from home for the new communist moral code. But the resulting creature deviated greatly from the one they had planned. We didn’t even manage to convert ourselves into the “New Man.”

They also launched themselves against religion, ignoring that dissimilar creeds transmit a share of the ethic and moral values that molded human civilization and our own national customs. They made us denigrate those who were different, we insulted the presidents of other countries with obscenities, mocked historic figures from the past, stuck our tongues out or blew raspberries when passing a foreign embassy.

They instilled in us the “Revolutionary promiscuity” that they themselves had already practiced in the Sierra Maestra, and incited us to laugh at those who spoke well, were deeply cultured, or showed any kind of refinement. This was carried out with such intensity that many of us faked speaking vulgarly, left off syllables when we talked, or shut up about our reading, so no one would notice that we were “weirdos” or potentially “counterrevolutionaries.”

One man — from the podium — screamed at us for fifty years. His diatribes, his hatred, his inability to listen calmly to an opposing argument, were the “exemplary” postures we learned in school. He instilled in us the gibberish, the constant tension, and the authoritarian index finger when we address others. He — who thought he knew everything but in reality knew very little — conveyed to us the pride of never asking forgiveness and of lying, that deception of rogues and scam artists that he was so good at.

Now, when the ethical picture of the nation looks like a mirror shattered against the floor, they call on the family to fix it. They ask us to shape values at home and to pass on order and discipline to our children. But how can we do it? If we ourselves were shaped to disrespect every code? How can we do it? If there’s no process for the powers-to-be to criticize themselves, for those who played at social engineering with our lives to recognize what they did?

Ethical codes are not so easily reassembled. A morality devalued by public discourse can’t be put back together overnight. And now, how are we going to fix this disaster?


144 thoughts on “Devaluation

  1. Nick,

    There was considerably more fascist power in the Ukraine and Hungary under Soviet rule.

    Anti-semitism was extremely harsh under Soviet rule. Especially in the Ukraine, where the Communist authorities tried to get popular approval through whipping up anti-Semitism and publishing explicitly racist propaganda.

    Most of those who were executed by Soviet authorities in the early 1960s show trials were Jewish. Of all Soviet minorities, the Jews were by far the most harshly persecuted, in every possible respect. You should read a bit of (non-Soviet approved) history.

    The only known acts of violent anti-Semitism in Cuban history occurred under Fidel Castro. Some Arab terrorists he welcomed to study in Cuba damaged a Synagogue in Havana while on one of their anti-Israel marches organized by Fidel.

    Chavez and Maduro have also played the anti-Jewish card with great success. Anti-semitic attacks soared under Chavez.

    In Europe now, the vast majority of anti-Semitic attacks come from Islamists. You should read the statistics, Nick. Lots of leftists approve of this scapegoating.

    I have heard European socialists openly blame the Jews for being the victims of violence. Obviously, they want to get the racist Islamist vote, and try not to get blown up the same Islamists.

    Lots of leftists also support the genocidal anti-Semitic middle east states, from Palestine to Iran. Here they actually did round up Jews and expel or exterminate them, over 99% of them at least. Very similar to what Hitler had in mind.

    Finally, one reason why Alan Gross was chosen as Castro’s hostage is because he is Jewish. That’s what many Cubans think, at least.

    So Nick, I have no idea where your “right-wing is racist” fantasies come from, but they have nothing to do with history or current reality.

    Right-wing fascists and racists are no different than left-wing fascists and racists. In fact, they are often friends when they find a common scapegoat. That’s why Castro and Maduro are buddies with the Ayatollahs.

    A thug is a thug by any other name.

    None of this has anything to do with why I mentioned Adolf Hitler.

    You said Alan Gross knew what he was getting into and that laws of a sovereign country should be respected.

    I asked you if the laws of Adolf Hitler should be respected too, and you refused to answer.

    How about the laws of Apartheid South Africa? Or the laws of Saudi Arabia?

    It is your argument, not mine.

    And I do not buy into the “blame the victim” argument, ever.

    Even if a women knows the risks of wearing a skirt, she does not deserve to be raped. Or would you say that “she knew what she was getting into”?

    And no, Alan Gross had no idea what he was getting into. You think he enjoys being locked up in a Cuban jail for 15 years?


    L.A. TIMES: Amid unrest, Venezuela is accused of owing airlines $3.7 billion – BY MERY MOGOLLON AND CHRIS KRAUL

    CARACAS, Venezuela — President Nicolas Maduro’s government Thursday faced accusations of owing international airlines more than $3.7 billion and violating treaties, while separately officials said the number of deaths from violence related to antigovernment protests continued to rise. In a sign of Venezuela’s deepening economic problems, the International Air Transport Assn. this week accused the Maduro government of failing to “repatriate” $3.7 billion in air ticket revenue owed to foreign carriers. IATA director Tony Tyler said he had written to Maduro to complain.

    “It is a major sum of money. And it is unacceptable that the Venezuelan government is not playing by the rules to which it is treaty-bound,” Tyler said in a statement Wednesday.

    The Venezuelan government acts as intermediary in all foreign financial transactions and is holding up payments to a broad spectrum of foreign vendors, which economists say illustrates its dire cash shortage.

    Half a dozen airlines have suspended ticket sales in Venezuela, and Colombia’s Avianca on Wednesday announced it was scaling back scheduled flights. Its highly popular Bogota-Caracas route will drop from the current 21 flights a week to seven as of Sunday, the carrier said.

    Avianca Chief Executive Fabio Villegas said in a statement March 3 that at that point, Venezuela owed the airline $300 million.

    In a statement Thursday, German airline Lufthansa said its financial results were being affected by the “dozens of millions of euros” owed it by the Venezuelan government.

    Venezuela announced this month that China was providing Caracas with an additional $5 billion in loans secured by future oil deliveries. The loans bring to $42 billion such advances from China over the last five years, although Venezuela has paid some of the balance down.

    Critics have said the loans in effect mortgage the country’s future oil revenue.



    FOX NEWS LATINO: Bipartisan Senate Legislation Seeks Funding For Anti-Government Protesters In Venezuela

    – By Elizabeth Llorente

    Senators Robert Menendez and Marco Rubio introduced a bill aimed at supporting anti-government groups in Venezuela.

    The bill by Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and Rubio, a Florida Republican, authorizes $15 million for help “to defend human rights, support democratic civil society organizations, [and] assist independent media,” according to a statement by Rubio’s office.

    The measure, called the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, also calls for sanctions against Venezuelan officials deemed responsible for human rights abuses and violent treatment of anti-government protestors. Those sanctions would include exclusion from the United States and revoking visas, and blocking access to assets.

    On Wednesday night, the Senate approved a bipartisan resolution – also sponsored by Rubio and Menendez – mirroring the main points of the Venezuela measure.

    “The full U.S. Congress has spoken loudly and clearly that we stand with the Venezuelan people as they exercise their fundamental rights, and we condemn the [President Nicolas] Maduro regime’s deadly wave of repression,” said Rubio. “Now it’s time for actions that name, shame and punish the Maduro regime’s murderers and thugs who are responsible for the crackdown against innocent Venezuelans.

    “Now is the time to stand with the Venezuelan people and increase pressure on the Maduro regime,” added Rubio. “I hope we can begin to move quickly to consider this legislation when the Senate reconvenes on March 24.”


  4. Mr Observer,
    I would like to congratulate you on finally managing to get through a whole comment without resorting to calling someone a liar.

    I have no particular thoughts regarding Sean Penn or at least none that I ever thought would be of particular relevance here.
    But since you ask:
    I think he’s a pretty good actor and director.
    I think that he and Madonna were a mis-match.
    I am also aware that he takes an interest in world affairs and has spoken out against certain of the more bloodthirsty aspects of U.S. foreign policy.

    Regarding his visits to Haiti, I was not aware of this.
    Regarding the history of Haiti itself, I am aware of the fact that it was the first country in the Americas to have a slaves revolt. I understand that it was then choked off economically.
    The USA (amongst others) certainly didn’t want a slaves revolt to prove successful during that era as it may have had ramifications for the large section of the US economy which was slavery-based at that time.
    Re USAID: I am aware that the USA spends a considerable amount of money on overseas aid.
    It is a well known fact that overseas aid (and certainly not just U.S aid) often comes with certain caveats or ulterior motives.
    However I certainly wouldn’t state that USAID is involved exclusively with attempts at regime change.
    Where the USA does attempt to effect regime change, I would condemn it outright for many reasons including the fact that it usually ends in bloody slaughter and failure.

    Re Alan Gross. I certainly don’t ever recall saying he was a spy. I have mentioned this gentleman on many occasions, but if you can find one single example of me calling him a spy then I will congratulate you again.
    I have said that he knew exactly what he was doing, he knew exactly which laws he was breaking and he knew exactly how much dollar he was going to get paid. He knew the amount he had coming to him and the extent to which this would boost his retirement fund.
    This man was inept and extremely naïve to think that he was never going to caught.
    I can see that the Cubans don’t want to let him go yet as there seems to be a hope that he can be exchanged for the three Cuban Agents that remain jailed (wrongly according to many including UN convention on human rights, Amnesty International, Various Nobel Prize-winners and I think I am correct in saying…….Sean Penn).
    However my own personal opinion which I have never veered from, is that Mr Gross should be set free on moral and humanitarian grounds and this should be done unilaterally and done asap.

    Re your typically hysterical references to Adolf Hitler.
    I really do find these types of comments too ridiculous to respond too.
    You’re probably fine in Canada. Just a sprinkling of fascists who are no doubt regarded as cranks.
    Here in Europe however, fascism is rising once again.
    There is now considerable fascist power in Ukraine, Hungary and Greece to name but three countries.
    We are talking of people with positions in government who advocate the rounding up and ghettoization of certain ethnic minorities such as Jews, Muslims, and Gypsies.
    And this would be just the start of their plans.
    Within this, sadly only too real context, these throwaway remarks about Hitler really are unnecessary.

    From time to time I do try to answer what you call your ‘simple questions’ at length.
    So please do not imply that I don’t.

  5. Nick,

    When are you going to answer a simple question?

    The only thing Alan Gross did in Cuba was hook a few people up to the internet. Not even Castro suggests anything else.

    Should that be against the law?

    That may be against the laws of Castro, but Castro should have warned Alan Gross when Castro let him through customs with his internet equipment, all declared lawfully by Alan Gross.

    Alan Gross was not accused of spying. Alan Gross was not accused of smuggling. Alan Gross was not even accused of showing subversive sites to Cubans. Because he didn’t. Apparently he showed a few religious Jews a few pictures of Jerusalem on the Internet.

    Is that a crime in your book? If you respect Castro’s laws, why not respect Adolf Hitler’s?

    Yet you have written that Alan Gross is a spy because he works for a USAID that champions democracy, which you and Castro like to call “regime change” when innocent people are jailed.

    Guess what, Nick. Regime change is a part of democracy. It’s called elections. It’s called freedom of speech. It’s called freedom of the press. It’s called freedom to protest and freedom of association. None of which exist in Cuba.

    Now Sean Penn works for the same USAID as Alan Gross. Sean Penn is trying to effect regime change in Haiti.

    That’s what activists do, Nick, they try to change things.

    Is Sean Penn a squalid little right-wing CIA spy because he works for USAID?

    Should Sean Penn be kicked out of Haiti?

  6. I’ll give you a simple little example Mr Observer,

    You clearly state that Alan Gross has been imprisoned for 15 years for ‘hooking people up to the internet’.
    It is my understanding that he has been in jail for 6 years for breaking the law in a sovereign country whilst being paid by a U.S. government fund that is dedicated to bringing about ‘regime change’ in this same sovereign country.
    What you say here is:
    a) quite clearly inaccurate
    b) something I would strongly disagree with.

    But does that mean I am going to call you a liar ????


    And incidentally I will reiterate what I have said on many occasions:
    I think the Cuban Government should allow this Mr Gross out of jail and kick his butt out of Cuba on humanitarian grounds.

  7. Mr Observer,
    Your comment is 100% nonsensical.
    And for the umpteenth time you prove yourself utterly incapable of entering into any degree of reasoned or rational debate.
    All you ever seem able to do is label anyone who disagrees with you a liar.
    Then when someone turns these petty insults back on you…
    you just get ever further into a petulant little strop.
    It’s bit pathetic.
    If you have something rational to say, then say it.
    If you disagree with someone, then explain why.
    But can’t you manage to do this without this sad little resort to petty labelling an childish insult??

  8. So Nick,

    When the people of Chile elected a non-leftist last time, did it represent a snub to Cuba’s squalid little attempt to strangle Chilean democracy in 1973?

    I notice you still haven’t been able to answer a single one of my questions.

    And then you talk about a losing side of a debate?

    I ask questions, you evade them and respond with insults and lies, then when I mention you constantly lie, you get offended.

    Is this Castro’s fabled Battle of Ideas?

    I am not responding to your personal insults and attacks on my person.

    I am responding to you because of your personal insults and attacks on courageous resisters to fascism in Cuba. Like the Ladies in White, for example.

    I am also responding to your lies upon the person of Alan Gross, who has been imprisoned for 15 years for the crime of hooking some Cubans up to the internet. You see he is a stupid CIA agent because he works for USAID.

    Sean Penn also works for USAID. Is Sean Penn a stupid squalid CIA agent?

  9. On a positive note:

    It’s good to see that Chile have elected Michelle Bachalet with a resounding 62% of the vote.
    Each time a socialist is elected in this country it, amongst other things, represents a big snub from the people of Chile towards the USA’s squalid little plot to strangle democracy in that country and install that ultra right wing scum as they did on 9/11 1973.

    Well done the people of Chile.

  10. The U.N. Security Council detail report has concluded that the Castroit regime concealed tons of armaments under sacks of sugar on the North Korean ship Chong Chon Gang, and that all the weapons were in full working order, in violation of the sanctions.

    Some of the recent executions and purges in North Korea leadership were punishment for getting caught smuggling weapons from Cuba. Cuba’s air force chief, General Pedro Mendiondo, was “killed” in a mysterious car crash in August 25 after a team of UN experts doing the investigation had requested permission to question the general. In August 29, North Korea’s Army Chief General Kim Kyok-sik who led the North Korean delegation to Havana early in July, where the illegal weapons smuggling deal was arranged and met with Raul Castro, was purged from his post and killed, and the former North Korea ambassador to Cuba, Jang Yong-chol, also has been put to death by the North Korea tyrant Kim Jong Un. Obviously, a conspiracy to conceal the true nature of the weapons smuggling.

    Photo of Raul Castro greeting General Kim Kyok-sik in Havana in July 2013

  11. Mr Observer,
    You insult people on here quite readily.
    This is your only answer when you find yourself quite obviously the losing side of a debate.
    However it seems that when someone bounces a few insults back at you…
    You get all shirty about it.
    If you don’t like being insulted,
    then stop insulting others.
    And good luck with this ‘helping the poor and oppressed’ business that you mention that you are involved with…….

  12. Good articles, Humberto.

    Feeding the poor and hungry is a crime in Cuba. This has been my experience too.

    In the past, even personal charity could get you into trouble, unless the recipient was a Communist or associate.

    They now welcome personal charity, it is a major part of the economy.

    On an organized level, however, the Cuban government does not permit charity, except to a very limited extent by organizations such as the Church.

    1) Organized charity means a larger amount of goods, a more visible target, which the Castro mafia always wants to divert into their pocket. Unless the organization is a willing accomplice to this theft, it is illegal.

    2) Organized charity means embarrassing Castro’s socialist system with the reality of large-scale hunger and homelessness in Cuba.

    I hope these Good Samaritans resist the persecution and keep on feeding the hungry.

    It is ironic that all socialist countries outlawed helping the poor. All socialist countries outlawed labor unions, too.

    It is legal to talk about justice for the poor and oppressed in the USA, however. That will make you welcome in Cuba.

  13. Incident report (partial) by panel assigned to investigate the arms shipment to North Korea for the United Nations…the Cuban incident is only a small portion of the violations by North Korea. North Korea is more under scrutiny then Cuba on this one….

    On 16 July, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba released a statement
    acknowledging ownership of the arms and related materiel and stating that they
    were being shipped to be repaired and returned. Cuba argued later to the Panel and
    in a report to the Committee that there was no “supply, sale or transfer” (as required
    by para. 8 (a) of resolution 1718 (2006)) since Cuba retained “ownership” of the
    cargo. Furthermore, it argued that “maintenance”, as set out in paragraph 8 (c) of
    resolution 1718, was distinct from “repair”, which Cuba claimed was the basis of its
    contract with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Cuba also invited the
    Panel to visit Havana for consultations with the Panel, when it stated that all arms
    and related materiel were being sent for “evaluation, diagnosis and repair”.

    The shipment was in violation of paragraphs 8 (a) (i) of resolution 1718 (2006)
    as modified by paragraph 10 of resolution 1874 (2009) prohibiting the direct
    or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the Democratic People’s Republic of
    Korea of all arms and related materiel.
    • The transaction between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Cuba
    was in violation of paragraph 8 (c) of resolution 1718 (2006) and paragraph 9
    of resolution 1874 (2009), as clarified by paragraph 7 of resolution 2094
    (2013), adopted to prevent the provision of technical training, advice, services
    or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of such
    arms or materiel by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, its nationals
    or from its territory.
    • The Panel is unconvinced by Cuba’s rationale to distinguish “maintenance”
    and “repair.” Both are services or assistance related to the provision,
    manufacture, maintenance and use of arms and related materiel that the
    Democratic People’s Republic of Korea shall not provide under paragraph 8
    (c) of resolution 1718 (2006) and paragraph 9 of resolution 1874 (2009).
    Similarly, introducing an alternative interpretation of ownership relating to
    transfer, would permit the loan or lease of arms and related materiel, thereby
    crippling the arms-related and weapons of mass destruction-related embargoes
    imposed by the resolutions.
    The actions taken by the Government of Panama were in full compliance with
    relevant resolutions and set a sound precedent for future interdictions. With respect
    to the future of the cargo, the Government of Panama is obligated to dispose of
    prohibited items in a manner that precludes the transfer of arms and related materiel
    to originating or destination States (para. 14 of resolution 1874 (2009) and para. 8 of
    resolution 2087 (2013)). At the time of preparation of the present report, the Panel
    understands that the ship, crew and cargo remain in Panama, although Panama has
    announced the release of 32 members of the crew and that the ship may be released
    upon payment of a fine.
    80. The extraordinary and extensive efforts to conceal the cargo of arms and
    related materiel (see figure XIII and para. 124), and the contingency instructions
    (annexes IX to XII) found onboard the vessel for preparing a false declaration for
    entering the Panama Canal (annexes XIV to XVIII), if required for transit, point to a
    clear and conscious intention to circumvent the resolutions.
    The concealment methods employed also flouted international regulations and
    safety practices and Canal regulations. The transportation of undeclared weapons
    and explosives in this manner posed a significant danger to all persons and facilities
    in proximity to the ship and should be a cause of concern among shippers, port
    authorities, the international maritime community and insurers.
    82. While the Chongchongang Shipping Company is listed43 as the
    owner/operator of the vessel, the Panel found the actual operator/manager, Ocean
    Maritime Management Company, Ltd, (OMM) played a key role in arranging the
    shipment of the concealed cargo of arms and related materiel (see figure XIV).
    Despite the ship not being listed as part of its fleet,44 OMM operated the Chong
    Chon Gang on this voyage via its headquarters in Pyongyang and its regional branch
    office in Vladivostok, Russian Federation, while its Dalian office arranged for
    spares. OMM also made use of the Singapore-based Chinpo Shipping Company,
    Pte., Ltd for the payment of costs related to the voyage (see annex XIII). The
    employment of so many role-players in support of the ship suggests a network of
    entities, centrally managed, working together to deflect scrutiny in order to evade
    sanctions by minimizing the visibility of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
    in transactions.

    The Panel made the following two recommendations in its incident report:

    • The Committee draws the attention of Member States authorities and members
    of the shipping industry to the concealment techniques that were employed in
    this case, the extent of which demonstrates the importance of applying
    rigorous due diligence to verify the content of cargo originating from or
    destined to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the validity of
    documents presented and the identities of all entities and individuals involved.

    • The Committee encourages Member States to review their agreements with the
    Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, particularly those involving militaryto-
    military cooperation and signed before 2006, as they might contain terms or
    elements inconsistent with the arms and related materiel measures imposed by
    the relevant Security Council resolutions.

    ALJAZEERA NEWS: Panama demands Venezuela pay $1bn debt
    President Martinelli asks Caracas not to use decision to cut diplomatic ties with Panama as “excuse” to not pay debt.

    Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli has called on Venezuela not to use its decision to break ties with his country as an excuse not to pay back a debt that tops $1bn.

    “Venezuela is, it appears, practically bankrupt and this shouldn’t be because it is a rich country,” Martinelli said, in a speech expressing dismay at the recent diplomatic rupture.

    On Wednesday, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced that he was breaking diplomatic relations with Panama over its push for an Organization of American States-sponsored mediation in the country’s crisis.

    Maduro accused Panama’s president of conspiring with the United States to intervene in Venezuela’s affairs. During a rally on Thursday, he gave the Panamanian ambassador and three other diplomats in Venezuela 48 hours to leave the country.

    Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Venezuela had also suspended debt negotiations over $1bn owed to Panamanian exporters.

    “We want to express and reiterate the astonishment caused to the government of Panama by the decision of the Venezuelan government of breaking diplomatic relations with Panama. As we have shown, we find this measure lamentable and disproportionate,” said Panama’s Foreign Minister Francisco Alvarez de Soto.

    “We don’t accept accusations of interference. We find them inadequate and not based on reality,” he added.


    VOXXI: How to feed homeless in Cuba despite setbacks – by Carmen Sesin

    It was a picture on twitter of homeless people sleeping in a kiosk on top of newspapers and covered with old rags, in her hometown of Colon that caught the attention of Maria Cama, 12 years after she left Cuba.

    “It impacted me so much,” said Cama from her small office in Miami where she teaches piano lessons.

    For Cama, it was evident the amount of people begging on the streets had increased in Colon – a town of about 72,000 in the province of Matanzas.

    In fact, the Cuban government has acknowledged in the past the island has a deficit of 600,000 homes.

    “I’m sure it’s much more than that… . there is a crisis with housing and this has been the case for a long time,” said Ian Vasquez, Director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

    She contacted opposition activists in Colon who agreed to work with her. The first meal, held on April 27, 2012, in the house of Caridad Burunate, a member of the opposition group Ladies in White, was a success. Those who attended were surprised.

    “They were so happy and also shocked, asking who was organizing this and why,” Burunate said by phone from her home in Colon where the dinners are held weekly.

    As the project grew, they not only fed homeless, but also needy members of the community who don’t have enough to eat on a daily basis, including mentally ill, elderly, children, and handicapped.

    Originally the dinners were scheduled for each Saturday. But according to Burunate members of State Security would wait at the corner and detain people as they walked to her house.

    The individuals, many of whom are considered social outcasts, feel at home in Burunate’s house and stay for a good part of the day. “We treat them with a lot of love and affection,” she explained.

    According to Burunate, she has faced acts of repudiation since the project began, with government supporters throwing asphalt, excrement, eggs, and rocks at her house. She said the opposition activists involved in the project have been temporarily detained and freed in remote areas each weekend since the project began.

    “Project Tondique,” as it is called, is feeding around 50 people with donations from individuals in the US and Spain. Also, some farmers in Cuba donate fruits and vegetables they cultivate on their land.


  16. I think the dictator and mafia-run anti-American UN wants to avoid a nuclear war.

    A nuclear war would be very bad for business, especially as these dictator and mafia guys regularly meet up in New York,

    So, the final conclusion of the UN is that Castro shipped 240 tons of weaponry to North Korea, in violation of UN sanctions and international shipping law.

    And that Castro lied about everything to do with the shipment, except for the sugar.

    Now why would a guy who threatened to start a nuclear war with the USA in the past, ever want to ship weapons to another guy who is now threatening to start a nuclear war with the USA?

    I wonder if Castro lies about anything else?

  17. NOTES FROM THE CUBAN EXILE QUARTER: Celia Cruz still banned in Cuba but International media remains silent – Thursday, August 23, 2012

    On August 8, 2012 BBC News reported that Cuba’s ban on anti-Castro musicians had been quietly lifted and on August 10 the BBC correspondent in Cuba, Sarah Rainsford, tweeted that she had been given names of forbidden artists by the central committee and the internet was a buzz that the ban on anti-Castro musicians had been quietly lifted.

    Their is only one problem. It is not true. Diario de Cuba reported on August 21, 2012 that Tony Pinelli, a well known musician and radio producer, distributed an e-mail in which Rolando Álvarez, the national director of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television Instituto Cubano de Radio y Televisión (ICRT) confirmed that the music of the late Celia Cruz would continue to be banned. The e-mail clearly stated: “All those who had allied with the enemy, who acted against our families, like Celia Cruz, who went to sing at the Guantanamo Base, the ICRT arrogated to itself the right, quite properly, not to disseminate them on Cuban radio ”

  18. YOUTUBE: Film Clip – Celia Cruz from “Affair in Havana” 1957

    Affair in Havana (1957) is a crime, film noir directed by Laszlo Benedek and written by Maurice Zimm. It stars Raymond Burr and John Cassavetes.The film is about a screenwriter who falls in love with a crippled man’s wife.
    SYNOPSIS: In this suspenseful crime drama the trouble begins when the healthy wife of a crippled plantation owner prepares to leave with her handsome lover. Just before she does, her ailing husband tells her that he will only live a few months more, and if she remains with him she will inherit $20 million. She then dumps her lover and returns to her husband. Time passes and he is still alive. She grows impatiant and pushes her husband and his wheelchair into the swimming pool and gets her money. Afterward, she murders a snoopy servant, but in the end one of her late husbands’ servants avenges his death and kills the conniving wife. Meanwhile, the lover returns to the piano bar where he met the woman. The film was shot in oppulent Havana, Cuba before Castro came to power. …Affair in Havana

  19. The Apollo Theater marks its 80th Anniversary Season
    Tribute to La Guarachera de Cuba: The Queen Celia Cruz
    Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 8pm
    Featuring: Anissa Gathers, Cita Rodriguez, Amma McKen
    With Jose Alberto “El Canario” & Orchestra and Special Guest Lucrecia
    Hosted By Felipe Luciano and Malin Falu
    253 West 125th Street, New York, NY, USA 10027

  20. I’ve been listening to Celia Cruz’s music.

    Why on Earth would the Castro dictators ban her music in Cuba?

    It is so good!

  21. In “Washington’s Missed Opportunities: Cuba Successfully Engaging the World,” Lauren Foiles (Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs) discusses Cuba’s strengthening of old ties and exploration of news ones. Foiles writes:

    On February 10, 2014 European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton chaired a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. The meeting concluded with EU officials agreeing to talks with the Cuban government to increase trade, investment and dialogue on human rights and the EU negotiators aim to pass the so-called “Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement” by the end of 2015…

    The Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement: The accord has been in the works since January, 2013 when the head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, traveled to Chile to attend the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and European Union (CELAC-UE). Gianni Pittella, vice-president of the European Parliament, stated that “the decision to seek negotiations with Cuba had been a long process that gathered pace in Chile. Europe’s strategy is to encourage change.” … Cuba’s reforms, it was reported in 2014 that the private sector had expanded to represent about 20 percent of Cuba’s workforce. Additionally, the government aims to slash 20 percent of the state labor force (nearly one million jobs) by 2016. According to EU officials, the proposed accord would give Brussels a bigger role in Havana’s market-oriented reforms, position European companies in an optimal situation to profit from Cuba’s ongoing transition to a more open economy and allow Europe to press for an expansion of political freedoms on the island. [. . .] Both the EU and Cuba are acting with pragmatism as each party recognizes the colossal economic benefits that increased trade and investment could bring about. [. . .]

    France Taking Advantage of Untapped Markets: The most recent accord is not the only sign of the EU warming up to Cuba, as more than half of the 28 member states have bilateral relations with Havana despite the Common Position. On February 12, Truffle Capital, a French biotechnology investment company, announced the creation of ABIVAX in collaboration with the Cuban Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB). ABIVAX specializes in therapeutic vaccines and antivirals, combining the technologies and the product portfolios of three French biotech companies. An exclusive partnership agreement with the CIGB has been approved by the Cuban government and is predicted to further enrich the portfolio. In addition to the creation of a hepatitis B vaccine that could positively impact millions of people worldwide, this is the first ever start-up launched on the basis of a Euro-Cuban R&D collaboration. ABIVAX also signifies the first French company to sign an exclusive partnering agreement with Cuba in healthcare. Philippe Pouletty, president of the Administrative Council of the French firm stated that “Cuba is known for the excellence of its physicians and the quality of its vaccines. This is a project of international importance to put France foremost in this matter.”

    Truffle stated in a press release that under the agreement, CIGB will manufacture the hepatitis B vaccine in Cuba, for sale in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, once it receives approval. The licensing agreement will undoubtedly generate massive profits for ABIVAX, but perhaps more importantly, the Paris-based company has stated that the goal of ABIVAX is to become a global leader in therapeutic vaccines and antivirals, with the expectation of many more cooperative efforts involving Cuba in the future.

    France, like many other countries, recognizes the significant potential in Cuba’s healthcare system despite ideological differences that the two countries traditionally may have had. With healthcare being one of the top items on the Obama administration’s agenda, one would think that Washington would be more open to working with one of the most distinguished healthcare systems in the world today. Fortunately, for those affected by hepatitis B in the licensed regions of Europe and Asia, France and Cuba were able to set ideological differences aside to produce a medical advancement while forging a landmark partnership in healthcare.

    Non-EU Countries Warming to Cuba As Well: Several other countries outside of the EU have also made efforts to engage with Cuba recently. While all the engagements may not have the potential to expand Cuba’s export market to include 500 million European consumers, the interactions still demonstrate the propensity of countries like Canada, several African nations, and China to aggressively seek a warmer stance towards Cuba.

    See full article (including the footnotes that were omitted here) at

  22. CANADIAN BUSINESS NEWS: Cuban trade plunges 34 percent in latest sign of island’s economic woes-By Paul Haven-June 3, 2010

    HAVANA (AP) – Cuba’s foreign trade plunged by more than a third in 2009, with imports from traditional allies including Venezuela and China down sharply, the latest sign that the island is wrestling with a deep financial crisis.

    Trade for 2009 totaled $12.7 billion, down 34 percent from the $19.3 billion registered the previous year, according to statistics released Thursday by the government’s National Statistics Office.

    The sobering figures are in line with previous disclosures that showed trade to major trading partners down by about a third.

    Cuba’s economy is weak in the best of times, but its condition has worsened considerably due to the global economic crisis, a drop in the global price of raw materials such as nickel, and the fallout from three devastating 2008 hurricanes.

    The government has been forced to cut back on deep subsidies that Cubans rely on to make ends meet. Under Cuba’s communist system, workers make a tiny salary of about $20 a month, but the state provides free education and health care, virtually free housing and transportation, and ration cards that can be used to purchase a limited amount of heavily subsidized food.

    President Raul Castro has warned repeatedly that some of the subsidies must be phased out and that belt-tightening is in order. He has urged his countrymen to increase production and cut out waste. The government has also been on an anti-corruption drive, firing a number of senior officials.

    The statistics released Thursday show imports were down the sharpest, falling 37 percent to $9.6 billion, from $15.4 billion in 2008. Exports for 2009 fell 21 percent to $3.1 billion.

    The larger drop in imports brought a silver lining: Cuba reduced its trade imbalance for the year to $6.5 billion, down from $11.4 billion in 2008.

    Imports of fuel and related products fell to $2.9 billion, down 42 percent from the $4.9 billion registered in 2008. Cuba has urged its citizens to use less fuel, and has clamped strict controls on the use of air conditioners and gasoline in offices and by state workers.

    Food imports were also down, dropping to $1.6 billion from the $2.4 billion registered in 2008.

    The news follows reports from China and the United States showing a severe drop in Cuban imports.

    The United States has maintained a trade embargo on Cuba for 48 years, but an exception allows Cuba to purchase food products from its northern neighbor. America is the top provider of food to the island, despite the countries’ political differences.

    The Cuban statistics office said trade with the United States totaled $729 million in 2009, down 30 percent from the year before.

    Trade with Venezuela, Cuba’s main trading partner, plunged even more, down 36 percent to $3.4 billion. And trade with China, the island’s second-biggest partner, was down 21 percent to $1.8 billion.

    Figures released this week by China’s ambassador to Cuba showed a drop of 31 percent. It was not clear what caused the discrepancy, but the two governments have historically had different ways of measuring bilateral trade.

  23. MIAMI HERALD: After 50 years, Cuba has little to show – By ANDRES OPPENHEIMER

    When it comes to personal income or standard of living statistics, the U.N. Human Development Report — the Cuban government’s favorite statistical source — lists the island’s per capita income at $6,000 a year, although the figure is accompanied by an asterisk indicating that it’s a Cuban government estimate, and that “efforts to produce a more accurate estimate are ongoing.”

    In fact, Cuba refuses to calculate its per capita income according to international standards. The same thing happens with its poverty rates. Cuba agrees to use world-accepted statistical methods in those areas where it does well, such as heath and education, but refuses to do so in those areas where it may not do that well. The U.N. report’s world poverty rates table leaves Cuba’s line blank.

    ”Neither the United Nations nor any other international institution have the foggiest idea what Cuba’s per capita income or poverty rates really are because Fidel ordered that the country use its own methodology,” said Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a retired University of Pittsburgh economics professor who has long been one of the most serious analysts of the Cuban economy.

    ”The Cuban government’s figures are not credible, which forces everybody else to use them with an asterisk or not to use them at all,” he added.

    What is known is that Cubans’ average wage is nearly $20 a month, as recognized by the official media, which would translate to an average income of $240 a year.

  24. MIAMI HERALD: After 50 years, Cuba has little to show – By ANDRES OPPENHEIMER

    Read more here:

    When it comes to personal income or standard of living statistics, the U.N. Human Development Report — the Cuban government’s favorite statistical source — lists the island’s per capita income at $6,000 a year, although the figure is accompanied by an asterisk indicating that it’s a Cuban government estimate, and that “efforts to produce a more accurate estimate are ongoing.”

    In fact, Cuba refuses to calculate its per capita income according to international standards. The same thing happens with its poverty rates. Cuba agrees to use world-accepted statistical methods in those areas where it does well, such as heath and education, but refuses to do so in those areas where it may not do that well. The U.N. report’s world poverty rates table leaves Cuba’s line blank.

    ”Neither the United Nations nor any other international institution have the foggiest idea what Cuba’s per capita income or poverty rates really are because Fidel ordered that the country use its own methodology,” said Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a retired University of Pittsburgh economics professor who has long been one of the most serious analysts of the Cuban economy.

    ”The Cuban government’s figures are not credible, which forces everybody else to use them with an asterisk or not to use them at all,” he added.

    What is known is that Cubans’ average wage is nearly $20 a month, as recognized by the official media, which would translate to an average income of $240 a year.

    Read more here:


    BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: The New Cuban Economy: What Roles for Foreign Investment? – By: Richard Feinberg

    For revolutionary Cuba, foreign investment has been about more than dollars and cents. It’s about cultural identity and national sovereignty. It’s also about a model of socialist planning, a hybrid of Marxist-Leninism and Fidelismo, which has jealously guarded its domination over all aspects of the economy. During its five decades of rule, the regime’s political and social goals always dominated economic policy; security of the revolution trumped productivity.

    The most unusual characteristic of the Cuban FDI regime is the labor contract system . FDI firms are not generally allowed to directly hire labor . Rather, a state employment agency—typically a dependency of the relevant sectoral ministry (e .g ., tourism, light industry)—hires, fires, settles labor disputes, establishes wage scales, and pays the wages directly to the workers . The FDI pays the wage bill to the state employment agency which in turn pays the workers . But there is a very special twist to the Cuban system: the FDI pays wages to the employment agency in hard currency and the employment agency turns around and compensates the workers in local currency, an effective devaluation or tax of 24-to-1 . Thus, if the firm pays the employment agency $500 a month and the employment agency pays the workers 500 pesos, over 90 percent of the wage payment disappears in the currency conversion; the effective compensation is instantly deflated to $21 per month . This could be the world’s heaviest labor tax . It provoked one Cuban worker to remark to the author: “In Cuba, it’s a great myth that we live off the state . In fact, it’s the state that lives off of us .”

    This labor system, which also authorizes only one national union (the Confederation of Cuban Workers, which is closely allied with the Communist Party), violates many principles of the International Labor Organization, of which Cuba is a charter member . It also freezes Cuba into a low-wage, low-productivity trap .


  26. Transition news……Cuban Agriculture ….

    Serious economic difficulties of Venezuela’s government increase the need for survival mechanisms. Indeed, Cuba’s accumulation of external financial assets in major international banks has been explained as a policy or survival mechanism to ameliorate consequences of such negative external shocks. Cuba’s economic path this decade will be determined by whether ongoing reforms operate as building blocks to subsequent ones or as survival mechanisms to compensate for absence of subsidies from foreign patrons. Time will tell… The Cuban government is prepare for worst in Venezuela…


    Last year(2013), Cuba spent over $1.6bn (£1bn) on food imports, an unsustainable amount for an economy that has been struggling since the end of the cold war and the collapse of its trading partner, the Soviet Union, through which it also lost 80% of its pesticide and fertilizer imports.
    Today, Cuba still imports about 60% of its domestic food requirement, making it highly vulnerable to price increases, changes in food supply and the impacts of natural disasters.
    Since 2007, President Raul Castro, noting its connection with national security, has made food security a priority. State farms hold over 70% of Cuba’s agricultural land; about 6.7m hectares. In 2007, 45% of this land was sitting idle. In 2008 Castro allowed private farmers and co-operatives to lease unused land with decentralized decision-making, and loosened regulations on farmers selling directly to consumers. Since 2010, Cubans with small garden plots, and small farmers, have been allowed to sell produce directly to consumers.
    However, agriculture in Cuba remains in crisis. A government report issued in July 2013 showed that productivity had not increased. But there have been some successes and valuable lessons in the past few years that can help foreign aid organizations target resources and support.
    Learning from successful co-operatives or farming initiatives is key, according to Christina Polzot, Cuban country representative for Care International.
    “I think the greatest contribution is capacity building, especially as it relates to building management capacity at the local level,” she said.
    One successful example comes from Cuba’s ‘urban’ agriculture. Urban farms are now thought to supply around 70% of fruits and vegetables consumed in cities such as Havana and Santa Clara. Vivero Alamar is an urban co-op just outside Havana that has sustained growth for 15 years. Co-op president Miguel Angel Salcines believes that the key to achieving food security in Cuba is to train agricultural workers with a ‘vocation’ for farming, and continuous upgrading of equipment.
    The Cuban agricultural sector remains highly de-capitalized, but aid organizations can to some degree support it with agricultural materials and appropriate technologies. They can also boost the capacity of private farmers by training local farmers in sustainable agricultural practices, and helping co-ops develop modern business practices.
    Canada, one of Cuba’s biggest donors, provides technical training in planning, environmental sustainability, and also gender equality for effective management of farming. It also helped increase Cuba’s forest cover by 1%, by planting 106,000 hectares of new seedlings.
    Researchers can identify inefficiencies in the supply chain and where possible make recommendations.
    Care in Canada also helped improve dairy production (pdf) – which has been a huge challenge for the country – by building and furnishing milk collection and conservation centres in co-ops, and advising on the supply chain. They also made infrastructure improvements for individual farms and created an exchange programme for Canadian and Cuban farmers.
    In 2007, Castro had called the milk collection and distribution system “absurd” after finding that in Mantua in the west of Cuba, a few bottles of locally produced milk would make a long journey, but then return and be delivered to the house next door.
    But Cuba has other challenges beyond the production system; it suffers from salinity, erosion, poor drainage, low fertility, acidity, low organic material content, poor retention of humidity, and desertification. One obstacle to increasing productivity has been a lack of knowledge among farmers about improving and conserving agricultural resources.
    A pilot progamme implemented by Cuba’s Soil Institute and supported by the United Nations Development Programme, to improve the conservation of soil, water and forest land, gives 35 agricultural units training, technical assistance, and supplies – targeted at their own specific challenges. It includes planting forest trees on farms, searching new sources of water; no-till farming; live barriers to erosion made of plants and rocks, and using organic fertilisers.
    Aid organisations in the country should also support agricultural initiatives in Cuba’s easternmost – and poorest – provinces, which are most vulnerable to coastal flooding.
    Although the reform in agriculture has gone further than in many other sections of economic life, it may still be too early to gauge the effects. Polzot says it is possible that the reforms will increase autonomy because, for example, the more recent reforms have allowed private co-operatives to handle their own commercialisation.
    But as yet, farmers are not allowed to import supplies or purchase produce at will. Armando Nova, a Cuban economist, suggested in a paper last year that the system would be more efficient if farmers did not have to wait for supplies to be assigned and delivered by the state; there are still delays in transport and a lot of spoilage.

    There is concern among farmers that the government will at some point change its mind, scale back the reforms, and seize the land leased to farmers – and that it is unwilling to cede all control of the process.
    In November 2013, the government issued a decree placing the management of food production entirely in non-state hands, to run experimentally in selected districts before going nationwide in 2015. For the moment, it seems the Cuban government is committed to its goal of putting Cuba on the road to food security. Aid organizations can help ensure that these initiatives are successful.
    Alexa van Sickle is assistant editor of publications at International Institute for Strategic Studies

  27. TICO TIMES: Most of Latin America backs Venezuela’s Maduro, but Costa Rica remains a rare critical voice.
    Those quickest to back Maduro were Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua — all countries with leftist governments whose heads of state were close with Maduro’s predecessor, the late Hugo Chávez.

    Bolivian President Evo Morales and Cuba’s Raúl Castro even traveled to Caracas on Wednesday to mark the first anniversary of Chávez’s death

    Carlos Malamud, a senior analyst for Latin America at Spain’s Elcano Royal Institute, told AFP that countries such as Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador “cannot allow the elected government of Venezuela to fall” because they run “the risk of the same medicine being applied to them.”

    The anti-government protests in Venezuela, over rampant crime and widespread shortages of basic goods, have so far left 20 people dead.

    While the United States and the European Union have spoken out for the protection of freedom of expression, very few in Latin America have defended those principles.

    “Only a few critical voices are being raised, timidly, in defense of human rights and freedom of expression,” Malamud said.

    Malamud named Martinelli, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Chile’s Sebastián Pinera as among those who have criticized authorities in Caracas.

    Uruguay — while showing solidarity with Venezuela — has nevertheless defended the right to free expression.



    N.Y. TIMES: Fears Spread That Venezuela Is Approaching Bloody Face-Off – by William Neuman
    CARACAS, Venezuela — The gunmen descended a street on Monday night toward a park taken over by student demonstrators in the western city of San Cristóbal, the crucible of the protests that have shaken Venezuela. They opened fire, and a 23-year-old student leader, Daniel Tinoco, fell. Hit in the upper body, he died before he got to a hospital, fellow protesters said.

    Less than a week earlier, in Caracas, someone opened fire and killed a 25-year-old soldier, Acner López, who was riding on a motorcycle. Residents said he was in a group of soldiers shooting tear gas at demonstrators and apartment buildings. The shot that killed him, investigators believe, came from someone in one of the apartments.

    “We don’t want dialogue if there are dead students,” said Christy Hernández, 21, a protester who saw Mr. Tinoco fall and went to find a car to take him to the hospital. She said demonstrators, many of whom want President Nicolás Maduro out of office, would keep up the pressure on the government despite the cost. “We already lit the fuse,” she said. “It’s now or never, and we’ve decided it should be now.”

    While Mr. Maduro has said he wants dialogue, he often speaks with a fiery anger about the protesters in daily television appearances, labeling them fascists and conspirators. His government has begun holding a series of meetings, often televised, that it terms a national peace conference, but most prominent opposition figures have boycotted them, as have student protest leaders.

    At the same time, his government has continued to clamp down on the rallies and other protests.

    In Caracas on Saturday and on Monday, marches were blocked by hundreds of police officers and soldiers. And in San Cristóbal, where the government held some of its peace conference meetings last week, residents say security forces have continued harsh tactics, entering residential neighborhoods to clear demonstrators’ barricades, arresting protesters and firing tear gas and plastic buckshot.

    Many in the opposition believe that the government uses groups of armed civilian supporters to intimidate protesters, and there have been several episodes around the country in which, protesters say, they were fired on by armed men in civilian clothes. In other cases, protesters have been accused of shooting at government supporters.

    Many details of the nighttime attack remain unclear, but accounts of protesters and residents agreed on several points.

    One woman said that she saw about 10 men arrive in a white pickup and dismount, and that they were accompanied by two motorcycles. Others said a group of men on foot had approached the area controlled by the protesters.

    Ms. Hernández said the student protesters, who have maintained a camp for weeks in a park on a wide avenue, heard three gunshots and saw the men approaching. They shot back with small bags of explosive powder, sometimes used as fireworks, propelled from hand-held metal tubes that the protesters call mortars.

    Ms. Hernández said the men answered with gunfire. She said that one of the protesters had a gun and fired back.

    At that point, she said, “a rain of bullets came down; we couldn’t move.”

    She said that one of the protesters started to move up the street toward the gunfire when another protester pulled him into the shelter of a building. Mr. Tinoco was just behind them, she said, and was hit. “He is in a better place than us,” she said. “We’re not going to give up the fight.”



    MIAMI HERALD: UN: Cuba would not ID those responsible for North Korea arms shipment – by Juan Tamayo

    Cuba’s government refused to identify the people or entities involved in a weapons shipment to North Korea last year that violated a U.N. arms embargo, and might have violated the embargo twice more in 2012, according to a U.N. report made public Tuesday.

    Some of the weapons and equipment that Cuba described as “obsolete” had been calibrated just before they were put aboard the freighter Chong Chon Gang, the document added, and Cuban insignias on two MiG21 warplanes were painted over.

    The report also declared that the shipment intercepted in Panama violated the U.N. embargo on the Asian nation, and that despite Havana’s denials there were indications Cuba intended to turn over the weapons to the Pyongyang government.

    Cuba’s 240-ton shipment was “the largest amount of arms and related materiel” interdicted going to or from North Korea since the Asian nation was hit with an arms embargo in 2006 because of its nuclear weapons program, the document added.

    The public part of the 127-page report makes no recommendations on sanctions for Cuban or North Korean entities involved in the violations. But it mentions a secret annex submitted to the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) committee in charge of banking and travel sanctions on violators.

    The U.S. State Department said it will “pursue appropriate action” based on the report but added, “We do not view this as a bilateral issue between the United States and Cuba. This is about a potential violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea.”

    Cuba declared in July that it sent the weapons to North Korea to be repaired and returned. It later argued to U.N. investigators who visited Havana that they did not violate the U.N. ban on the “supply, sale or transfer” of weapons to Pyongyang because Cuba retained ownership and the embargo covers “maintenance” but not “repairs.”

    Those arguments were rejected in the document Tuesday, the annual report by the panel of U.N. experts that investigates all violations of the North Korea sanctions. It was submitted last month to the UNSC committee that enforces the embargo, and parts of it had leaked to the news media.

    “The Panel is unconvinced by Cuba’s rationale to distinguish ‘maintenance’ and ‘repair,’” the report said, adding flatly that the shipment “violated the sanctions.”

    Although Cuba told the U.N. investigators that the state-run Cubazucar had shipped the 200,018 sacks of sugar that covered and hid the weapons on the Chong Chon Gang, it refused to identify the Cubans involved in the weapons shipment and contract with Pyongyang.


    YOUTUBE: 11/MAR/2014 – REPRESIÓN GNB EN PUEBLO NUEVO SAN CRISTÓBAL TÁCHIRA (10:38AM) – El martes 11/MAR/2014 desde las 10:38AM hasta aproximadamente las 12:00M la GNB arremetió en contra de la comunidad de Pueblo Nuevo en San Cristóbal Estado Táchira. Ingresó por la Av. Ppal. de Pueblo Nuevo intentando derribar las barricadas del sector. En su misión de hacerlo, la GNB lanzó innumerable cantidad de gas tóxico tanto a vecinos y estudiantes que se encontraban en la calle, como directamente al edificio de Conj, Resd. Camino Real.


  32. Nick,

    I see your insults have gone from “pedophile” to “right-wing thuggery”

    That’s right Nick, everyone who criticizes a dictator you admire is a foolish CIA-directed deranged right-wing thug.

    Keep up your Battle of Ideas, Nick.

    How is it that you leftists support dictators who outlaw labor unions while us right-wing thugs try to help enslaved workers?

    By the way, I never wrote that I respect Omar’s opinions. That is another figment of your imagination (another of your lies).

    You know, you still haven’t answered any of the hundreds of questions I asked you.

    Like, you said Alan Gross is a foolish spy because he worked for USAID, a great big CIA conspiracy.

    Now, Sean Penn also works for USAID, helping the homeless in Haiti.

    What does that make Sean Penn? And all the others like him who are funded by USAID, helping the poor around the world.

    Or is it just in Cuba where helping the poor and oppressed makes you an evil, foolish, CIA right-wing thug?

  33. Humberto, the series of articles “Havana: The New Art of Making Ruins”, has been published in On each of the videos Humberto (Bert) Corzo make comments about the subjects, providing statistics and establishing comparison before and after the Castroit regime, demonstrating that it has been a failure of great proportion. Take a look at it, it is worthy.

    Havana: The New Art of Making Ruins – Part 6 of 6

    The sixth and last installment in a six part series written exclusively for Babalú by Cuban American engineer, Humberto (Bert) Corzo (Part 1, Part 2, Part , Part 4 , Part 5). If you click the part #, it give you access from part 1 to 5.

  34. Humberto, the film that you make reference in youtube, titled “La Electricidad al Servicio de Cuba”, was filmed in1956 in Cuba. This film is evidence of the prosperity of Cuba during the Republic. You can see the past wealth of the country, and compare it with today ruins. On each of the videos Bert Corzo makes comments about many of the subjects included on them, providing statistics, photos and establishing comparison before and after the Castroit regime, demonstrating that it has been a failure of great proportion.

    It was published by in a four part series.

    A Look Back at Pre-Castro Cuba – Part 4 of 4

    The fourth and final installment in a four part series written by Cuban American engineer, Humberto (Bert) Corzo (Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3). If you click the part #, it give you access from part 1 to 3. Take a look at it, you would like it and recommend its viewing.


    Solidarity and Support of Democratic Institutions, Dialogue, and Peace and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

    (Approved in the March 7th session)

    In relation to recent events in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Permanent Council declares:

    It’s condolences and solidarity with the victims and their relatives, with the people and the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and its commitment to the investigations coming to an expedited and just conclusion.

    It’s respect for the principle of non intervention in the internal affairs of states and its commitment to the defense of democratic institutionalism of the state of law in agreement with the OAS Charter and international law.

    It’s most enthusiastic rejection of all forms of violence and intolerance, and a call to all sectors of peace for tranquility and respect for human rights and fundamental liberties, including the right to freedom of expression, peaceful gatherings, free transit, health and education.

    The recognition, full support and encouragement towards the initiatives and efforts of the democratically elected government of Venezuela, and to all political, economic and social sectors, to continue advancing the process of national dialogue, towards political and social reconciliation, within the framework of deep respect and constitutional guarantees for all and on behalf of the democratic representatives.

    It’s interest is in maintaining itself informed of the situation and the established dialogue in Venezuela.


    The Republic of Panama presents its reservations to the present declaration.
    i. It does not agree with the inclusion of the word solidarity in the title of the Declaration, given that its’ subject matter refers to the support of dialogue, peace and democracy.

    ii. Moreover, it considers the support and encouragement of the initiatives and efforts of the democratically elected government of Venezuela may be interpreted as a partiality towards the Government, above other members of society. The reference to the continued advance of progress in national dialogue could be interpreted as support only of the current dialogue.

    iii. In reference to the last paragraph, the Republic of Panama considers that the OAS should have a more dynamic attitude and monitor the situation and national dialogue in Venezuela, not only declare its interest in maintaining itself informed of the already established dialogue.

    2. The United States supports the call for a peaceful resolution to the situation in Venezuela on the basis of an authentically inclusive dialogue. However, the United States cannot support this declaration given that it does not adequately reflect the Organization’s commitment to promote democracy and human rights in the hemisphere. In fact, the declaration places the OAS in a position of partiality, which is not permitted.

    Specifically, the second paragraph suggests, incorrectly, that the supposed necessity to maintain order and respect for the principle of no intervention has priority over the commitments of all the Member States of the OAS to promote and protect human rights and democracy. This declaration contradicts Article 2 of the Charter of the Organization of American States and the consecrated principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

    Though the fourth paragraph makes reference to dialogue, it lacks a key element to rectify the problems in Venezuela. In order to succeed, dialogue must be genuine and include all parts. The declaration partially supports a government-sponsored dialogue, which has been rejected by important opposition sectors.

    The United States believes that genuine dialogue would require the participation of a third party that has the trust of all parts. It also demands the end of all intent to repress the liberty of expression and the freedom of all political prisoners. Unfortunately, the declaration does not sufficiently promote these objectives. The OAS does not sanction a dialogue in which the majority of the opposition does not have faith nor say. Only the Venezuelans can find solutions to the problems of Venezuela, but the current situation of the country demands a third party of confidence facilitates the debate while Venezuelans seek these solutions.

    Lastly and fundamentally, the United States cannot agree with the call made by the declaration for “full support from the OAS” towards a dialogue in which the process is orchestrated by one sole actor. The OAS has the responsibility to remain neutral, it cannot take sides.

  36. Santa Elena de Uairén, 10th March 2014, ( – The Organization of American States (OAS) approved in last Friday’s summit a statement expressing solidarity and support for the Venezuelan government in light of recent events.

    On 7 March, after two full days of heated debate, 29 states of the OAS voted in favor of a declaration lamenting the victims of protest-related violence in Venezuela, detailing the need for continued dialogue, and decidedly rejecting any notion of intervention or sanctions upon Venezuela’s democratically elected government.

    Only Panama, the United States and Canada voted against the statement. Both Panama and the U.S. made assertions included in the declaration’s footnotes accusing the OAS of partiality, and pointed to diplomatic intervention as an imperative step for protecting human rights and democracy in the region.

    US vice-president Joe Biden made his stark difference of opinion known upon his arrival in Chile this morning, where he will attend Tuesday’s inauguration of President-elect Michelle Bachelet.

    “The situation in Venezuela reminds me of the past, when strongmen ruled through violence and oppression, and human rights, hyperinflation, shortages and extreme poverty caused havoc on the peoples of the hemisphere,” Biden said in an interview with Chilean newspaper El Mercurio. “[Maduro] should listen to the Venezuelan people, and look at the example of those leaders who resisted oppression in the Americas, or risk repeating the injustices against which they fought so bravely.”

    Biden did not specify what exemplary leaders resisted oppression and whose oppression they resisted.

    Maduro responded by arguing that Biden’s remarks are revenge for the OAS’s decision to stand by the Venezuelan government in the face of recent opposition protests and violence.

    “Why did Biden attack Venezuela upon his arrival in Chile?, Maduro asked. “It’s because they know they were defeated in the OAS.”

    Maduro, in turn, praised the OAS declaration as an important show of support for Venezuelan democracy.

    On 12 March, after Bachelet’s inauguration, foreign ministers of the UNASUR bloc (Union of South American Nations) will meet in Santiago to discuss the situation in Venezuela. Maduro’s presence is expected. The summit was organized in part to see where each participating nation might stand if the OAS had approved an intervention.

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