Many Happy Returns!

Happy Blog-Birthday Generation Y!

At seven I had an incomplete smile. I was losing my baby teeth and also I read every sign I came across in the street. It was a time of learning and scraped knees from falls during games. Today, I once again blow out the same number of candles on an imaginary cake. This time it isn’t for me, but for the virtual creature that was born on 9 April 2007, and which in this time has experienced dentition, fevers, laughs and stumbles.

Generation Y is celebrating its birthday with almost one thousand published posts, about a million and a half comments, several friends lost, and others gained.

In this time, I have never suffered the horror of a blank page. Rather I feel that neither time nor Internet connectivity have sufficed to tell all that the Cuban reality has offered to my eyes. This blog now has a life of its own. It breathes in its readers and has a parallel existence where I can’t reach it, hide it, protect it. It has stood the tests of my initial fear, official demonization, the distrust of many, technological collapses and even the survival instinct that more than once told me to abandon it. Here it is with the bruises and experience of its seven years.

A new era will begin soon. Generation Y will move to its new home within a digital, collective and modern press. On the next birthday cake there will be other faces to include in the photo. Let’s blow out the candles for them now!


43 thoughts on “Many Happy Returns!

  1. a belated ‘happy birthday’ from the uk yoani.

    the bbc and the ‘cuba solidarity campaign’ have long given us a picture of cuba as being a workers’ paradise. your blog has provided a different reality… that of an honest, authentic voice of someone who lives in cuba, who speaks of her country with love tinged with despair and exasperation.

    you’ve made me stare at my screen in disbelief at the overbearing control freakery of the cuban system and also smile when describing the absurd inanity and kafkaesque rules and routines of daily life.

    i’m so glad this blog was recommended to me. keep letting the world know what cuba is really like and keep us smiling. you are truly courageous and inspirational.

    Reporters Without Borders has sent a letter about freedom of information in Cuba to French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who is about to make the first official visit to the Caribbean island by a member of the French government since 1983.

    Cuba’s violations of freedom of information must not be ignored during this visit. Improvement in relations between the European Union and Cuba must not be at the expense of Cuba’s journalists and bloggers.

    Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    37 Quai d’Orsay
    75351 Paris

    Paris, 10 April 2014

    Dear Foreign Minister,

    Reporters Without Borders, an international organization that defends freedom of information, would like to draw your attention to the plight of professional and non-professional journalists in Cuba.

    All independent media, both traditional and online, are censored in Cuba, which is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in our 2014 press freedom index. Even defending the right to information is obstructed by President Raúl Castro’s government, which refuses to recognize NGOs, automatically treating them as accomplices to US hegemony.

    Three Cuban journalists and bloggers are currently detained for disseminating information regarded as “counterrevolutionary” or defamatory of the Castro regime. Although the mass roundups of the 2003 Black Spring are over, arbitrary arrest has never ceased to be part of the daily life of journalists in Cuba.

    More than a decade after the arrests of 75 journalists, librarians and human rights defenders, there has been no real improvement in the situation of these categories of people, as evidenced by the detention of Angel Santiesteban-Prats, a blogger held for the past 13 months, and José Antonio Torres, a former journalist with the official newspaper Granma, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison in July 2012. Since the start of 2014, more than 15 journalists have been arrested for short periods, supposedly for identity checks.

    Reporters Without Borders was recently outraged to learn of several arbitrary arrests and acts of intimidation by Cuban officials affecting two journalists and their families.


  3. Hank,

    Good posts. It is a full time job trying to talk to the insane. They never deal with facts, do they?

    The way posters like Pacifist Nick play out their blood lust is to support dictators and terrorists who kill innocent people, and fantasize that dictators and terrorists are really victims of a CIA conspiracy.

    On the other side, they fantasize that the victims of terrorists and dictators are all CIA agents or terrorists themselves.

    Once in a while they can’t help revealing their violent psychopathic urges, as when Nick praises the blowing up of US civilians by Cuban MIGs over international airspace.

    For the record, Fidel Castro is a world-renowned terrorist.

    But if his son Fidelito, who I’m sure shares his father’s revolting ideas and is part of the dictator’s oppressive machinery, ever took his Cessna out for a spin over the Gulf of Mexico, I would never want an F-16 to blow him up.

    Yet Nick thinks that if you know somebody who knows somebody who might be an anti-Castro terrorist, you deserve to be blown out of the sky over international waters by Castro.

    For the record, Brothers to the Rescue were trying to rescue Cuban boat people in international waters. That was their big crime.

    They deserve to be murdered, says Nick, Without warning, over international waters.

    But every terrorist in Guantanamo, with a mountain of evidence against him, is innocent, says Nick, and the bad ole USA should let him out to blow up a few buses in London.

  4. P.S.


    You have your chronology wrong.

    Helms-Burton was passed in Congress AFTER the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down.

    Accordingly, there was no state of war between the U.S. and Cuba under your theory.

    On February 24, 1996, Cuban fighter jets shot down two private planes operated by the Brothers to the Rescue

    The law was passed on March 12, 1996 by the 104th United States Congress.

  5. Things I learned today reading the comments section of Yoani’s blog.

    From Nick I learned:

    Although he professes to “instinctively dislike violence” he has no problem seeing people he has never met or spoken to being “blown out of the sky” in whatever airplane they may be in.

    What about the other innocent people that may be in those planes, Nick? Do they deserve to die also in your fantasy?

    Wow. You are one sick puppy, Nick.

    I’m not sure if I pity Nick or just feel sorry for him. Ok, it is both. I pity Nick and I feel sorry for Nick and his fantasies of killing people he doesn’t know.

    Why? Because Nick advocates killing people. Just like the dictators he adores.

    You need help, Nick.

    This is a good opportunity for you to consult with that psychologist friend you have to explore the origins of this homicidal tendency you have. Get help, Nick. Really.

    From Socialist Worker I learned:

    The incursion a few days ago into restricted airspace over Washington, DC that caused F-16 fighter jets to escort the offending aircraft out of that airspace was not a real incursion. The whole thing was fake.

    Socialist Worker informs us that it was actually just “a training exercise, an official government, or corporate flight. Otherwise federal officials would be releasing all sorts of press releases and tripping all over themselves taking credit for stopping a potential attack.”

    Wow. What an insight! Thank you, Socialist Worker, for pointing out this conspiracy! I never would have guessed! Has the Washington Post picked up your story?

    From Omar Fundora I learned:

    Cuba and the United States exist in a state of war because of the Helms-Burton Act.

    By virtue of this U.S. law, the Cuban dictatorship has the right to shoot down any aircraft that flies into Cuban airspace, including unarmed civilian Cessnas, which Castro did when he shot down the Brothers to the Rescue planes and killed everyone in those planes.

    Omar informs us that the Helms-Burton law “is an act of War….which means anybody that flies into Cuban air space is fair game…”

    Wow again. That is a breathtaking assertion. Are you serious, Omar?


    Don Omar (born William Omar Landrón Rivera; February 10, 1978), is a Puerto Rican reggaeton singer-songwriter, recording artist and actor. He is sometimes referred to by his nickname El Rey (Spanish: “The King”).

  7. WASHINGTON — A majority of the immigrants who were deported last year were Mexican citizens, male and in their twenties or thirties, according to a report released on Thursday. MEXICO, ANOTHER SUCCESS STORY OF FREE MARKET ECONOMY AND RIGHT WING DICTATORSHIP….

    The report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, based on data obtained from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, showed a more detailed picture of the nearly 370,000 removals from the country last year than previously-released ICE data.

    Men were deported at far higher rates than women — 93 percent of ICE deportees were male, according to TRAC’s findings. The highest proportion came from 20- to 29-year-olds, who accounted for nearly 155,000 of the removals in 2013, while close to 124,300 deportations were of people between the ages of 30 and 39.

    Nearly half of those deported overall were under the age of 30. About 19,800 of those deported were under the age of 20, most of them between 15 and 19 years old.

    The age of those deported is notable due to the Obama administration’s policy to stop deporting some undocumented young people through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The policy allows undocumented immigrants to apply to stay and work legally if they are under the age of 31 and have been in the U.S. since before they were 16. To qualify for DACA, Dreamers must meet a number of other requirements, meaning that not all of those deported were necessarily eligible for the program.

    Overall, deportations were down from the previous year. While removals hit a record of nearly 410,000 in the 2012 fiscal year, they dropped to about 370,000 in 2013. That meant removals of a number of nationalities went down. The largest group of those removed in 2013 were Mexican citizens — about 241,500 removals were of Mexican nationals, a drop from about 284,900 the previous year.

    Deportation of citizens from some countries went up from 2012 to 2013, TRAC found. Deportations of Chinese nationals went from 512 to 815 — a nearly 60 percent increase. Removal of Canadians increased from 580 to 646 from 2012 to 2013, an increase of about 11 percent.

    The Obama administration is currently reviewing its deportation policies to make them more humane, but contends it has already made improvements in targeting more border-crossers and people who have committed crimes.



    Under the Bolivarian government, migrants’ rights have significantly improved. “Foreigners in the territory of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will have the same rights as nationals, without any limitations,” reads article 13 of the migration law, passed by the Chavez government in 2003.

    Further, in February 2004, Chavez issued Presidential Decree 2,823, which began a national campaign to pay what he called “Venezuela’s historical debt to migrants”. Foreigners residing in Venezuela without documents could legalise their stay and become “indefinite residents”. They had to obtain a certificate of legalisation and an ID card, and were then granted the resident visa for five years. A few people had bureaucratic problems though with the process and in 2009 the identification and migration office, SAIME, renewed the process, seeing many of those last people finally able to get their visa. That year, every Monday- the day assigned to the process-, hundreds of people were seen queuing up outside the various SAIME offices.

    “I married a Venezuelan after five years here, and that’s how I eventually got citizenship. But I didn’t get it until 2004, when I was naturalised, thanks to Chavez. I’d been living here 31 years. Before that it was very complicated, they didn’t give out citizenship,” Gomez said.

    “Colombians are now attended to in hospitals, schools, there’s no problems studying. A lot of Colombians also work on farms; in the Sur del Lago area, in Caño Amarillo, and things have improved for them since Chavez came to power, especially as the land relationships have changed. Colombians without documents were exploited; they lived in informal housing and were paid badly. It used to be common, now it still happens, but not as much. I recently met a young woman who was working on a farm, she was treated very well and she was happy. She was paid Bs 4,000 every fortnight,” she explained.

    “Before, the police would harass the youth, and if they didn’t have documents, they were sent to jail. It was very repressive, but now with Chavez it’s not like that,” Gomez added.

    Now, having documentation and identification is a right, with the SAIME holding mobile cedulacion (ID card) stalls around the country, and police obliged to help children without documents to get identification. The few cases of undocumented or documented migrants being expelled from Venezuela over the last decade involve US diplomats allegedly conspiring against the government, people wanted with red alerts by Interpol, and in 2009, some people who were illegally extracting national resources, specifically gold and coltan.

    Venezuelanalysis also talked to Alejandro Carrizo, an Argentinean who came to Venezuela 4.5 years ago. SIMILAR RESPONSE FROM ALEJANDRO TOO….

  10. N.Y. REVIEW OF BOOKS BLOG: The Real Threat to Venezuela’s Democracy – by Daniel Wilkinson

    In his Times opinion piece, Maduro acknowledged abuses by security forces, but insisted that these have been “very small” in number, and that his government “has responded by arresting those suspected.” The government has indeed arrested more than a dozen security force members in recent weeks (though only after video footage surfaced showing the use of live ammunition on protesters). Its first response to the February 12 killings, however, was to arrest leaders of the opposition.

    The initial target was Leopoldo López, head of the political party Popular Will, who has been a leading voice calling for la salida. Foreign Minister Elías Jaua accused López of being the “intellectual author” of the February 12 violence, and the Attorney General’s office promptly obtained an arrest warrant for him on a range of charges, including homicide. It also obtained arrest warrants for Carlos Vecchio, another Popular Will leader, and two other opposition figures. After several days in hiding, López turned himself in and was taken to a military prison, where he has been held for more than a month. Vecchio and the others are now in hiding. The government has yet to present any credible evidence linking López or the others to the violence—or to any other criminal activity.

    In March, the authorities also began pursuing local politicians affiliated with the opposition. On March 19, they arrested Daniel Ceballos, the mayor of the city in Táchira where the first protests began, who had denounced the government’s use of force against demonstrators; and Enzo Scarano, mayor of a municipality in the city of Valencia where protests have also taken place. The same day as the arrests, the Supreme Court sentenced Mayor Scarano to more than ten months in jail for failing to heed a court order to remove barricades set up by protesters; and the following week, it gave Mayor Ceballos a one-year sentence for the same offense. The Court has since issued arrest warrants for four other mayors, and upheld a vote by the pro-government majority of the National Assembly to impeach the lawmaker María Corina Machado, a close López ally, so that she too can face criminal prosecutions.

    These prosecutions highlight one of the most glaring deficiencies of Venezuelan democracy today: the lack of an independent judiciary. After 2004, when the Supreme Court was packed with Chávez supporters, its justices openly rejected the notion of separation of powers and publicly committed to supporting the president’s political program. Lower-court judges have been under intense pressure to avoid rulings that go against the government’s interests. If they uphold the legal rights of López and the other opposition leaders, they risk being summarily fired by the Supreme Court—or worse. In 2009, when the judge María Lourdes Afiuni complied with a UN recommendation (and with Venezuelan law) to grant conditional liberty to a government opponent, an enraged President Chávez called for her to be locked up. She spent over a year in prison, followed by two more under house arrest.

    President Maduro and his justice minster have repeatedly said that it is up to the justice system to determine whether the arrested politicians remain behind bars. But in view of the government’s control of the courts, these assurances ring hollow—as does Maduro’s claim that state agents who have committed abuses will be held accountable.

    The government’s efforts to control public opinion about the protests have been equally troubling. On February 11, before any killings occurred, the director of the state broadcasting authority warned news outlets that their coverage of violence at the protests could get them in trouble with the law. It was a valid warning. Under Chávez, laws were put in place that prohibit the dissemination of messages that “foment anxiety in the public” or “offend” government officials, and authorize the government to shut down TV and radio stations whenever “convenient for the interests of the nation.”



    CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Can Venezuela’s televised peace talks end the street protests? President Nicolás Maduro will meet today with opposition leaders in the presence of foreign mediators to seek a political solution to two months of often violent antigovernment protests. – by Andrew Rosati,

    “It’s certainly a positive first step,” says Dimitris Pantoulas, a Caracas-based political consultant. “Yet the question remains whether the MUD can convince protesters to accept dialogue, let alone any agreements that come from the negotiations.”

    So far, strident opposition activists and students – the backbone of the protest movement – remain on the sidelines. Notably, the opposition’s Popular Will party has refused to participate unless the government releases detained protesters. Hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested since February. About 170 people, including security personnel, have been charged in connection to the unrest.

    The most prominent detainee is Leopoldo López, the Popular Will’s firebrand leader jailed in February on charges of inciting violence after he called for nation-wide demonstrations. His party isn’t represented at the peace talks.


    Ahead of today’s meeting, opposition leaders laid down four preconditions for President Maduro: amnesty for alleged political prisoners; creation of an independent truth commission; disarmament of pro-government paramilitary groups; and an end to alleged government interference in independent institutions, such as the Supreme Court and National Electoral Council. They also insisted that the meeting be broadcast on television.

    “We must tell the truth in the midst of these lies, no one can remain silent,” Mr. Capriles, a state governor, said yesterday, confirming his participation. “I am open to dialogue in favor of peace and nation building.”

    Elsa Cardozo, a professor of international relations at the Central University of Venezuela, cautions that even with international mediation, the two side are far apart. Protesters’ demands to tackle issues such as rampant crime, spiraling inflation, and shortages of basic consumer goods would necessitate sweeping changes to government policies.

    “Both sides will focus their efforts on easing the current tensions, but will probably do little in terms of solving the country’s fundamental problems,” she says.


  12. Nick… You forgot to include in your list a well known terrorist, pathological killer and international subversive, admired by the Left and glorified by the Cuban Stalinist regime… I CHE GUEVARA.

  13. Not only is Jose Basulto (head honcho of ‘brothers to the rescue’) a miserable little individual,
    he is also a miserable failure.
    He seems to have a reverse midas touch.
    He was trained up by the CIA.
    He has a history of terrorist activities against Cuba
    against Nicaragua.
    He is a supporter and accomplice of another known terrorist Jose Posada Carriles.
    He was involved in the smutty and bloodthirsty failure of an invasion attempt at Bay of Pigs.
    He has a history of bloodthirsty terrorist activity.
    Although I instinctively dislike violence, if this sick individual, with his terrorist pedigree, commanded aircraft to fly over my country I would want his sorry butt to be blown out of the sky.
    Not the 25th time he did it, but the first.
    End of.


    NBC NEWS: American jailed in Cuba wants US to sign ‘non-belligerency pact’ to speed release – By Michael Isikoff

    Kornbluh, who has advocated closer U.S.-Cuba dialogue, was in Havana last week to attend a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis. He was granted permission to visit Gross by Cuban officials. (The Cubans so far have denied all news media requests to meet with him.) He said Gross was most upset about being unable to return home to see members of his family who are ill, especially his 90-year-old mother in Texas who has cancer.


    N.Y. TIMES: Senators Urge Castro to Release American – By JONATHAN WEISMAN – February 24, 2012

    Mr. Gross, a Maryland resident, was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison after his arrest in 2009 while serving on a democracy-building project financed by the United States Agency for International Development. Mr. Gross, who was accused of bringing satellite and other communications equipment to Cuba, was convicted of crimes against the state, not espionage. Cuban authorities “do not consider Alan Gross a spy,” Mr. Leahy said.

    Mr. Gross had traveled to Cuba five times in 2009 under his own name before his arrest.


  16. “Neutral” observer: Your attempt at making an analogy of what I wrote….fails miserably from a literary point of view or from context…..admit that Mr. Alan Gross is a mercenary for our side that got caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar…..then you can continue using your internet handle of Neutral observer…otherwise I suggest you change it to THE BIAS OBSERVER….:) :) it fits what your comments are better ….really…better……:) :)

  17. Omar,

    Here you are, trying to execute regime change in the USA, free to do so at your heart’s content.

    Here you are enjoying full internet access and freedom of speech.

    Should the person who gave you internet access be sentenced to 15 years in prison?

    That would be fair, since you support the jailing of Alan Gross.

    Should your internet access be taken away from you.

    That would be fair, since you are against internet access for Cubans.

    And so on, with your infinite hypocrisy.


    In a statement at his trial, Gross professed his innocence and apologized.

    “I have never, would never and will never purposefully or knowingly do anything personally or professionally to subvert a government,” he said. “I am deeply sorry for being a trusting fool. I was duped. I was used.”

  19. WASHINGTON (AP) — Piece by piece, in backpacks and carry-on bags, American aid contractor Alan Gross made sure laptops, smartphones, hard drives and networking equipment were secreted into Cuba. The most sensitive item, according to official trip reports, was the last one: a specialized mobile phone chip that experts say is often used by the Pentagon and the CIA to make satellite signals virtually impossible to track.

    The purpose, according to an Associated Press review of Gross’ reports, was to set up uncensored satellite Internet service for Cuba’s small Jewish community.

    The operation was funded as democracy promotion for the U.S. Agency for International Development, established in 1961 to provide economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. Gross, however, identified himself as a member of a Jewish humanitarian group, not a representative of the U.S. government.

    Cuban President Raul Castro called him a spy, and Gross was sentenced last March to 15 years in prison for seeking to “undermine the integrity and independence” of Cuba. U.S. officials say he did nothing wrong and was just carrying out the normal mission of USAID.

    Gross said at his trial in Cuba that he was a “trusting fool” who was duped. But his trip reports indicate that he knew his activities were illegal in Cuba and that he worried about the danger, including possible expulsion.

    One report says a community leader “made it abundantly clear that we are all ‘playing with fire.'”

    Another time Gross said: “This is very risky business in no uncertain terms.”

    And finally: “Detection of satellite signals will be catastrophic.”

    The case has heightened frictions in the decades-long political struggle between the United States and its communist neighbor to the south, and raises questions about how far democracy-building programs have gone — and whether cloak-and-dagger work is better left to intelligence operatives.

    Gross’ company, JBDC Inc., which specializes in setting up Internet access in remote locations like Iraq and Afghanistan, had been hired by Development Alternatives Inc., or DAI, of Bethesda, Maryland, which had a multimillion-dollar contract with USAID to break Cuba’s information blockade by “technological outreach through phone banks, satellite Internet and cell phones.”

    USAID officials reviewed Gross’ trip reports and received regular briefings on his progress, according to DAI spokesman Steven O’Connor. The reports were made available to the AP by a person familiar with the case who insisted on anonymity because of the documents’ sensitivity.

    The reports cover four visits over a five-month period in 2009. Another report, written by a representative of Gross’ company, covered his fifth and final trip, the one that ended with his arrest on Dec. 3, 2009.

    Together, the reports detail the lengths to which Gross went to escape Cuban authorities’ detection.

    To avoid airport scrutiny, Gross enlisted the help of other American Jews to bring in electronic equipment a piece at a time. He instructed his helpers to pack items, some of them banned in Cuba, in carry-on luggage, not checked bags.

    He once drove seven hours after clearing security and customs rather than risk airport searches.

    On his final trip, he brought in a “discreet” SIM card — or subscriber identity module card — intended to keep satellite phone transmissions from being pinpointed within 250 miles (400 kilometers), if they were detected at all.

    The type of SIM card used by Gross is not available on the open market and is distributed only to governments, according to an official at a satellite telephone company familiar with the technology and a former U.S. intelligence official who has used such a chip. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the technology, said the chips are provided most frequently to the Defense Department and the CIA, but also can be obtained by the State Department, which oversees USAID.

    Asked how Gross obtained the card, USAID spokesman Drew Bailey said only that the agency played no role in helping Gross acquire equipment. “We are a development agency, not an intelligence agency,” he said.

    Cuba’s communist government considers all USAID democracy promotion activities to be illegal and a national security threat. USAID denies that any of its work is covert.

    Gross’ American lawyer, Peter J. Kahn, declined comment but has said in the past that Gross’ actions were not aimed at subverting the Cuban government.

    Cuban authorities consider Internet access to be a matter of national security and block some sites that are critical of the government, as well as pages with content that they deem as counterrevolutionary. Most Cubans have access only to a severely restricted island-wide Intranet service.

    Proponents of providing Internet access say it can undermine authoritarian governments that control the flow of information to their people. Critics say the practice not only endangers contractors like Gross, but all American aid workers, even those not involved in secret activities.

    “All too often, the outside perception is that these USAID people are intelligence officers,” said Philip Giraldi, an ex-CIA officer. “That makes it bad for USAID, it makes it bad for the CIA and for any other intelligence agency who like to fly underneath the radar.”

    Even before he delivered the special SIM card, Gross noted in a trip report that use of Internet satellite phones would be “problematic if exposed.” He was aware that authorities were using sophisticated detection equipment and said he saw workers for the government-owned telecommunications service provider conduct a radio frequency “sniff” the day before he was to set up a community’s Wi-Fi operation.

    U.S. diplomats say they believe Gross was arrested to pressure the Obama administration to roll back its democracy-promotion programs. The Cuban government has alleged without citing any evidence that the programs, funded under a 1996 law calling for regime change in Cuba, are run by the CIA as part of an intelligence plan to topple the government in Havana.

    While the U.S. government broadly outlines the goals of its aid programs in publicly available documents, the work in Cuba could not exist without secrecy because it is illegal there. Citing security concerns, U.S. agencies have refused to provide operational details even to congressional committees overseeing the programs.

    “The reason there is less disclosure on these programs in totalitarian countries is because the people are already risking their lives to exercise their fundamental rights,” said Mauricio Claver-Carone, who runs the Washington-based Cuba Democracy Advocates.

    USAID rejected the notion that its contractors perform covert work.

    “Nothing about USAID’s Cuba programs is covert or classified in any way,” says Mark Lopes, a deputy assistant administrator. “We simply carry out activities in a discreet manner to ensure the greatest possible safety of all those involved.”

    The U.S. National Security Act defines “covert” as government activities aimed at influencing conditions abroad “where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly.”

    USAID’s democracy promotion work in Cuba was spurred by a large boost in funding under the Bush administration and a new focus on providing communications technology to Cubans. U.S. funding for Cuban aid multiplied from $3.5 million in 2000 to $45 million in 2008. It’s now $20 million.

    Gross was paid a half-million dollars as a USAID subcontractor, according to U.S. officials familiar with the contract. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the case.

    USAID head Raj Shah said democracy promotion is “absolutely central” to his agency’s work. The Obama administration says its Cuba programs aim to help politically repressed citizens enjoy fundamental rights by providing humanitarian support, encouraging democratic development and aiding the free flow of information.

    U.S. officials say Gross’ work was not subversion because he was setting up connections for Cuba’s Jewish community, not for dissidents. Jewish leaders have said that they were unaware of Gross’ connections to the U.S. government and that they already were provided limited Internet access. USAID has not said why it thought the community needed such sensitive technology.

    Asked if such programs are meant to challenge existing leaders, Lopes said, “For USAID, our democracy programs in Cuba are not about changing a particular regime. That’s for the Cuban people to decide, and we believe they should be afforded that choice.”

    Others disagree.

    “Of course, this is covert work,” said Robert Pastor, President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser for Latin America and now director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University in Washington. “It’s about regime change.”

    Gross, of Potomac, Maryland, was a gregarious man, about 6 feet (1.8 meters) and 250 pounds (113 kilograms). He was hard to miss. He had bought a Rosetta Stone language course to improve his rudimentary Spanish and had scant knowledge of Cuba. But he knew technology. His company specialized in installing communications gear in remote parts of the world.

    Gross’ first trip for DAI, which ended in early April 2009, focused on getting equipment in and setting up the first of three facilities with Wi-Fi hotspots that would give unrestricted Internet access to hundreds of Cubans, especially the island’s small Jewish community of 1,500.

    To get the materials in, Gross relied on American Jewish humanitarian groups doing missions on the island. He traveled with the groups, relying on individuals to help bring in the equipment, according to the trip reports.

    Three people briefed on Gross’ work say he told contacts in Cuba he represented a Jewish organization, not the U.S. government. USAID says it now expects people carrying out its programs to disclose their U.S. government funding to the people they are helping — if asked.

    One of Gross’ reports suggests he represented himself as a member of one of the groups and that he traveled with them so he could intercede with Cuban authorities if questions arose.

    The helpers were supposed to pack single pieces of equipment in their carry-on luggage. That way, Gross wrote, any questions could best be handled during the X-ray process at security, rather than at a customs check. The material was delivered to Gross later at a Havana hotel, according to the trip reports.

    USAID has long relied on visitors willing to carry in prohibited material, such as books and shortwave radios, U.S. officials briefed on the programs say. And USAID officials have acknowledged in congressional briefings that they have used contractors to bring in software to send encrypted messages over the Internet, according to participants in the briefings.

    An alarm sounded on one of Gross’ trips when one of his associates tried to leave the airport terminal; the courier had placed his cargo — a device that can extend the range of a wireless network — into his checked bag.

    Gross intervened, saying the device was for personal use and was not a computer hard drive or a radio.

    According to the trip reports, customs officials wanted to charge a 100 percent tax on the value of the item, but Gross bargained them down and was allowed to leave with it.

    “On that day, it was better to be lucky than smart,” Gross wrote.

    Much of the equipment Gross helped bring in is legal in Cuba, but the volume of the goods could have given Cuban authorities a good idea of what he was up to.

    “Total equipment” listed on his fourth trip included 12 iPods, 11 BlackBerry Curve smartphones, three MacBooks, six 500-gigabyte external drives, three Internet satellite phones known as BGANs, three routers, three controllers, 18 wireless access points, 13 memory sticks, three phones to make calls over the Internet, and networking switches. Some pieces, such as the networking and satellite equipment, are explicitly forbidden in Cuba.

    Gross wrote that he smuggled the BGANs in a backpack. He had hoped to fool authorities by taping over the identifying words on the equipment: “Hughes,” the manufacturer, and “Inmarsat,” the company providing the satellite Internet service.

    The BGANs were crucial because they provide not only satellite telephone capacity but an Internet signal that can establish a Wi-Fi hotspot for multiple users. The appeal of using satellite Internet connections is that data goes straight up, never passing through government-controlled servers.

    There was always the chance of being discovered.

    Last year, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked about clandestine methods used to hide the programs and reports that some of them had been penetrated.

    “Possible counterintelligence penetration is a known risk in Cuba,” the State Department said in a written response to AP. “Those who carry out our assistance are aware of such risks.”

    Gross’ first trip to Cuba ended in early April 2009 with establishment of a communications site in Havana.

    He went back later that month and stayed about 10 days while a site was set up in Santiago, Cuba’s second-largest city.

    On his third trip, for two weeks in June 2009, Gross traveled to a city in the middle of the island identified by a U.S. official as Camaguey. He rented a car in Havana and drove seven hours rather than risk another encounter with airport authorities.

    Gross wrote that BGANs should not be used outside Havana, where there were enough radio frequency devices to hide the emissions.

    The report for Gross’s fourth trip, which ended early that August, was marked final and summarized his successes: wireless networks established in three communities; about 325 users; “communications to and from the U.S. have improved and used on a regular basis.” He again concluded the operation was “very risky business.”

    Gross would have been fine if he had stopped there.

    In late November 2009, however, he went back to Cuba for a fifth time. This time he didn’t return. He was arrested 11 days later.

    An additional report was written afterward on the letterhead of Gross’ company. It was prepared with assistance from DAI to fulfill a contract requirement for a summary of his work, and so everyone could get paid, according to officials familiar with the document.

    The report said Gross had planned to improve security of the Havana site by installing an “alternative sim card” on the satellite equipment.

    The card would mask the signal of the BGAN as it transmitted to a satellite, making it difficult to track where the device was located.

    The document concluded that the site’s security had been increased.

    It is unclear how DAI confirmed Gross’ work for the report on the final trip, though a document, also on Gross’ company letterhead, states that a representative for Gross contacted the Jewish community in Cuba five times after his arrest.

    In a statement at his trial, Gross professed his innocence and apologized.

    “I have never, would never and will never purposefully or knowingly do anything personally or professionally to subvert a government,” he said. “I am deeply sorry for being a trusting fool. I was duped. I was used.”

    In an interview with AP, his wife, Judy, blamed DAI, the company that sent him to Cuba, for misleading him on the risks. DAI spokesman O’Connor said in a statement that Gross “designed, proposed, and implemented this work” for the company.

    Meanwhile, the 62-year-old Gross sits in a military prison hospital. His family says he has lost about 100 pounds (45 kilograms) and they express concern about his health. All the U.S. diplomatic attempts to win his freedom have come up empty and there is no sign that Cuba is prepared to act on appeals for a humanitarian release.

  20. Neutral observer….what you keep forgetting is what the Helms-Burton Law means to Cuba…This is an act of War….which means anybody that flies into Cuban air space is fair game…my understanding is that any unauthorized airplane that is even heading towards Cuban air space can be treated as a hostile and dealt with accordingly….thanks to the blockade…it makes it legal to shut down any aircraft heading for Cuba that has not being authorized to do so…

  21. Hank: our government of “The People by the People” do not want our citizens to know what the charges are against Alan Gross…..I was blocked, again, with the facts about his case that I wanted to share with you….from Cuba’s government point of view….he is a mercenary working for our government executing our law of regime change in Cuba ….(Helms-Burton Law)…Social Worker is right on target….

  22. Contrast flying MIGs into US territory without incident,

    with the Brothers to the Rescue who were flying small private craft searching for Cuban boat people in international waters.

    The record shows they were shot down without warning over international airspace.

    The record shows that the Cuban 5 took part in this cold blooded murder.

    The record shows that Cuban spies sent death threats to other US citizens in Florida. And presumably would have killed them.

    The record shows the Cuban 5 attempted to infiltrate US military installations and steal military secrets.

    Compare this to the evil USAID, which has openly and unsuccessfully tried to provide a few Cubans with internet access.

    The record shows that the tin foil brigade who post here enjoy the internet, but don’t want Cubans to access the internet.

  23. The tin foil ignoramuses just keep on spamming.

    As Hank said, flying into restricted US airspace is an everyday occurrence, by both domestic and foreign pilots.

    I personally know of someone who accidentally landed his private airplane at a restricted US military air base. He was taken into custody, questioned and released shortly afterwards.

    Armed Cuban MIGs have flown into US airspace. None have ever been shot down or forced down by the US air force.

    In fact, Cuban military personnel fly into US territory and land their MIGs on US military bases ever time they get a chance to escape.

    Here’s a story of two Cuban defectors who landed their MIGs at a US naval base. Amazingly, the first wasn’t even picked up on radar.

  24. Alan Gross was a USAID contractor who brought in electronic equipment without revealing that he and the equipment were paid for by the US government. The US continues its internationally condemned blockade of Cuba which is an internationally recognized act of war. He was arrested, tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison for this act of war. His wife has launched a legal suit against USAID seeking damages from USAID for not fully explaining the risks involved. Shortly after Gross’s arrest USAID secretly financed and set up the now defunct Cuban ZunZuneo network. Congress is currently holding hearings on covert activities by USAID which is supposedly an agency for International Development not a CIA type covert action agency.

    Anyone who understands the speed at which aircraft can go and distance would find this and the report from NBC 4 in Washington, DC strange. The SFRA extends 60 miles around Reagan International Airport. “In order to fly in the SFRA, pilots are required to file a special flight plan, obtain a specific transponder code, and remain in contact with air traffic control at all times.” “…NORAD jets from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado intercepted and visually identified the plane.” Given that no other information was released one might very well speculate that this was a training exercise, an official government, or corporate flight and not a real incursion. Otherwise federal officials would be releasing all sorts of press releases and tripping all over themselves taking credit for stopping a potential attack.

  26. In other words,

    What is it exactly that Alan Gross did that has you idiots all in a tizzy?

    What did he do?

  27. What is Alan Gross guilty of, Omar?

    Why does he deserve to be in the Cuban gulag for 15 years?


    This guy took large sums of money from the CIA (USAID) to take internet and computer technology into Cuba. Alan chose to ignore the law in Cuba and participated in clandestine operations to promote dissent in the Island. Alan acted as a mercenary for U.S. Intelligence Services to foment insurrection in Cuba. Alan’s only hope is a prisoner swap with the U.S. He may be allowed to die from his hunger strike because he threaten National Security. He would not be the first counter-revolutionary agent to do so.

  29. Happy Birthday, GenY and Congratulations!

    I wonder what your teens will be like!


    Kudos to CaféFuerte, which published a sentencing document today that gives details of Cuba’s case against American subcontractor Alan Gross. Download 15 MB document here.

    CaféFuerte’s story by journalist Wilfredo Cancio Isla says that Cuban intelligence agents knew of Gross’s work since mid-2004 when he traveled to Cuba to deliver a video camera and medicine to José Manuel Collera Vento, former head of the Freemasons fraternal organization in Cuba.

    The document said Gross delivered the package on behalf of Marc Wachtenheim, director of the Cuba Development Initiative at the Pan American Development Foundation, or PADF, which receives funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

  31. Not true, Socialist Worker.

    Incursions over restricted Washington, DC air space occur all the time, whether deliberate or not. The U.S. government has never shot down an unarmed civilian aircraft when that has happened. Not once.

    In fact, such an incursion occurred over DC just three days ago. Instead of blowing the offending unarmed airplane into oblivion, the U.S. government escorted the plane out of the restricted airspace.

    That’s not what the murderers who run the Cuban dictatorship do.

    The dictators you support blew the unarmed, harmless, Brothers to the Rescue planes into oblivion, killing everyone on board.

    Not surprising, really, when you consider that Castro, Inc. has been murdering and extra judicially executing people for more than 50 years.

    That’s what they do. That’s what they are good at. And it is probably something they enjoy.

    April 06, 2014
    NORAD fighter jets intercept plane over DC

    Two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled Sunday afternoon to intercept a plane flying in restricted airspace over Washington, D.C., according to NORAD.

    NORAD directed the mission around 12:30 p.m. after the plane entered the Special Flight Rules Area over the capital and was deemed out of communications with air traffic controllers.

    By the time the jets intercepted and visually identified the aircraft, it was leaving the restricted flight area and resumed communication with controllers, NORAD said.

    “The aircraft was already on its way out of restricted airspace when our jets got up there,” said Capt. Jennifer Stadnyk of NORAD’s public affairs division.

    It was not immediately clear who was piloting the aircraft or whether it had intended to stray into restricted airspace.

    “Normally that would be an accidental violation,” Stadnyk said. “It didn’t seem malicious at all.”

    NORAD, a bi-national Canadian and American command, is tasked with preventing air attacks against North America and protecting sovereign airspace of the United States and Canada.

    The Federal Aviation Administration also investigates any time “a pilot busts any of the restricted areas,” FAA spokesman Les Dorr said.

    “The pilot could be subject to some kind of enforcement action,” Dorr said, adding that it would be up to local authorities, the FBI or the Secret Service to determine whether the pilot’s actions were intentional.

    Here’s the link

  32. MIAMI HERALD: Cuban spymaster now claims Brothers to the Rescue shooting was outside Cuban airspace-Imprisoned spymaster Gerardo Hernandez has broken ranks with the Castro government, asserting that Havana’s shoot-down of U.S. civilian planes happened in international airspace.-BY JAY WEAVER

    Since Cuban Air Force pilots obliterated two planes ferrying four Miami men in 1996, Cuba’s leaders have strongly disputed U.S. and United Nations findings that the fatal shoot-downs happened in international airspace.

    Aiming to place the controversial killings in Cuban territory was a linchpin of the defense at the trial of five Cuban spies, one of whom was convicted of murder conspiracy.

    But now, spymaster Gerardo Hernandez, serving a life sentence, has made a startling about-face: In a last-ditch appeal, he suddenly agrees that the Feb. 24, 1996, MiG assaults on two Brothers to the Rescue planes happened over international waters.

    With that argument, Hernandez is fundamentally contradicting the stand of the regime he has sworn his loyalty to, and which has declared him a modern-day hero of the revolution.

    Brothers co-founder Jose Basulto finds the move ironic. Now, he said, Hernandez “wants to distance himself from the Cuban government — to save himself.”

    In his appeal, Hernandez, 45, contends that his trial attorney, Paul McKenna, mishandled his defense at a 2001 Miami federal trial by focusing so much on the shoot-down location.

    That strategy overshadowed evidence that Hernandez purportedly did not know in advance about the deadly Cuban plot over the Florida Straits, the appeal asserts. Evidence of his advance knowledge was crucial to proving his role in the murder conspiracy.


    “In short, Hernandez’s lawyer was his worst enemy in the courtroom,” his appellate attorneys wrote in a habeas corpus petition filed in Miami federal court.

    Maggie Khuly, whose brother Armando Alejandre Jr. was killed and who sat through the six-month spy trial, scoffed at the notion that McKenna was not an effective lawyer for Hernandez. She noted that McKenna traveled to Cuba several times to talk with the government about the defense.

    “The way I looked at it, McKenna was following what he was told to do,” Khuly said. “You could say this was the party line. And now Gerardo Hernandez has a different party line.” .

    Hernandez’s appellate attorneys said the overwhelming evidence showed that the shoot-down occurred outside Cuban airspace, raising serious questions about McKenna’s overall strategy refuting that fact.

    One key piece: A June 1996 report by the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal. The agency used the known coordinates of the U.S. cruise liner Majesty of the Seas and the fishing boat Tri-Liner, whose crews witnessed the attacks, to locate the incidents at 10.3 to 11.5 miles outside Cuba’s 12-mile limit.

    The U.N.’s finding jibed with radar data provided by the United States, but not information supplied by the Cuban government, which continues to insist that the Brothers planes provoked the attacks by invading sovereign territory.

    Regarding Hernandez’s knowledge of the shoot-down plot, Hernandez’s appellate lawyers say that while trial evidence showed that Cuba’s intelligence agency contacted Hernandez to warn his colleagues against flying with Brothers in February 1996, Cuban radio transmissions to Hernandez suggest he was not clued in to his government’s specific military plan to shoot down the group’s planes. “He didn’t know anything about the shoot-down,” Miami attorney Richard Klugh said. “This was a major injustice.”

    The U.S. attorney’s office, which plans to respond to Hernandez’s petition by the end of January, declined comment. McKenna also declined to comment. He could end up as a witness in the appeal, filed with U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard, who presided over the trial.

    Hernandez and other intelligence agents were indicted in 1998 on espionage conspiracy charges. Five of the original defendants pleaded guilty. Others were presumed to have returned to Cuba. The remaining spies, who became known as the Cuban Five, were convicted.

    Khuly said that Hernandez’s new strategy is flawed. She said his trial attorney delved into evidence on the Cuban government’s warnings to its spymaster to avoid certain Brothers’ flights.

    “He did spend a lot of time talking about the transcripts of the radio communications to try to prove there was no prior knowledge” on Hernandez’s part of the shoot-down, she said.


  33. I’m sure that if I purposely flew over restricted Washington, DC air space I would not get second chances and warnings and allowed return to International airspace something the Brothers to the Rescue planes and pilots had received on numerous occasions. The Cuban Government complained to US FAA repeatedly about these flights and nothing changed. While the Brothers to the Rescue criminals continually filed false FAA flight plans and the US FAA continually winked.

    US law allows for moving trials if the defendants can not get a fair trial in which the District where the alleged crime occurred. They didn’t need Cuban-Americans on a Miami jury all they needed to do is threaten the jurors. In fact the jurors complained yet once again nothing was done.

    But even that was not enough so the Government through its admitted propaganda outfit Radio Marti under the control of the Bureau of Broadcast Governors paid Miami journalists to ‘write about the trial.’ for the Miami Herald and broadcast throughout the Miami area via a commercial radio repeater of Radio Marti. When this was called into question the first response by the Government was to try and stonewall.

    Do I need to remind the honest people who read these post that the terrorists have fired bazooka’s at the UN in New York, engaged in a Miami bombing campaign setting off over 40 bombs against those Cuban-Americans considered soft on communism and Castro. That Alpha 73, Omega 7 and CORU are terrorist organization who trained in the swamps of Florida, in clear violation of the US neutrality act, are now mascaraing nonviolent nonprofit humanitarian organizations.

    That that also includes downing a Cuban civilian airliner killing all seventy three people on board and statements by leading terrorists that anyone is fair game for their bombs or bullets should they judge them as “pro Castro”. The two of the planners of the downing of Cubana 455 which the US government knew about in advance lived in Miami one has passed away, Orlando Boshe, while the other walks free do to US concern that if he was sent to Venezuela to complete his sentence he would face ‘torture’.



    Five agents of the Cuban Directorate of Intelligence who were members of La Red Avispa (in English, “The Wasp Network”) challenge their convictions and sentences for their espionage against the military of the United States and Cuban exiles in southern Florida. A special mission of the Cuban network, Operacion Escorpion, lead to the murder of four men when Cuban military jets shot down two private aircraft over international waters in 1996. Each Cuban agent was convicted of espionage charges, and one agent was convicted of conspiracy to murder, following a trial in Miami that lasted more than six months. Our Court, en banc, affirmed the denial of the Cuban agents’ motions for a change of venue and a new trial and remanded this appeal to this panel for consideration of the remaining issues. United States v. Campa, 459 F.3d 1121, 1154–55 (11th Cir. 2006) (enbanc).
    The Cuban agents raise a host of issues on appeal. The Cuban agents challenge rulings about the suppression of evidence from searches conducted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, sovereign immunity, discovery of information under the Classified Information Procedures Act, the exercise of peremptory challenges, alleged prosecutorial and witness misconduct, jury instructions, the sufficiency of the evidence in support of their convictions, and several sentencing issues. We conclude that the arguments about the suppression of evidence, sovereign immunity, discovery, jury selection, and the trial are meritless, and sufficient evidence supports each conviction. We also affirm the sentences of two defendants, but we remand in part for resentencing of the other three defendants.


    NOT “5″ BUT 14 CUBAN SPIES: The “Five Cuban Heroes” proclaimed by the Cuban regime were actually part of a network of 12 spies that infiltrated the U.S. In addition to the five spies who maintained their innocence but were convicted in a jury trial (with no Cuban-American jurors), five pleaded guilty to charges of spying in exchange for reduced sentences, one was deported, and one fled to Cuba to escape arrest. The trials cost U.S. taxpayers one million dollars to provide the defendants with a free legal representation. An appeals court is reviewing the five spies’ conviction.


    In 1995, after obtaining FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Court approval, the FBI obtained warrants to surreptitiously search apartments and monitor telephone communications by a group of Cubans who were Cuban intelligence operatives. The group, through its principal agents or illegal officers, communicated directly with the Cuban Government about its activities and received specific missions and taskings from the Cuban Government. The instructions were subsequently relayed to the other members of the spy ring as appropriate.

    During the searches, the FBI uncovered and read the contents of the communications from and to the Cuban Government. This information was concealed in hidden files on computer floppy diskettes kept in the residences of three of the principal agents.

    At Cuban Government direction, the Cuban spy ring collected and reported information on domestic, political, and humanitarian activity of anti-Castro organizations in the Miami-Dade county area; the operation of US military installations; and other US Government functions, including law enforcement activity. The spy ring also carried out tasks in the United States as directed by the Cuban Government, which included attempted penetration of US military installations, duplicitous participation in and manipulation of anti-Castro organizations, and attempted manipulation of US political institutions and government entities through disinformation and pretended cooperation. The spy ring received financial support from the Cuban Government to carry out its tasks


  36. WND NEWS: ‘Wasp Network’ stung in Miami Cuban spies ‘wage war against the people of the U.S.’ – by Toby Westerman – Published: 01/09/2001

    Five members of a 14-member espionage team called “La Red Avispa” — the Wasp Network — are on trial in a Miami federal courtroom following an exhaustive FBI investigation
    Five members of a 14-member espionage team called “La Red Avispa” — the Wasp Network — are on trial in a Miami federal courtroom following an exhaustive FBI investigation
    After breaking up the network’s operations in September 1998, the FBI amassed some 10,000 pages of information on the Cuban espionage cell. Federal agents discovered that, among other projects, the members of the spy network counted planes outside a military base, attempted to send a letter-bomb to an anti-Castro activist, and placed one of their number — employed as a custodian — at the Boca Chica base of the Southern Command to observe military activity there. Of the original 14, four fled and are believed to be in Cuba, five pleaded guilty and five have declared their innocence. Those pleading innocent said they were only keeping an eye on the anti-communist Cuban exiles. Although the ring was engaged in classic acts of espionage, those who pleaded guilty, as well as the defendants standing trial, are not facing charges of spying, but rather are being charged as “unregistered foreign agents.

  37. Cut the crap Socialist “Worker”… For many decades the Cuban regime has supported in the past terrorists armed actions parading as “revolutionary struggles” in the Americas, Asia , Africa as a proxy of Soviet Imperialism.
    Even today Che Guevarra, a pathologic killer, is “sanctified” in Cuba and by the so-called Left all over the world.
    How many Cubans have be executed by the Cuban regime…?. God knows..
    The USA have in deed many skeletons in their cupboards and so have many other countries.
    To pretend today that the Cuban regime is whiter than white in the field of human rights is just a sad and sordid joke parroted by the likes of Socialist Worker”.

  38. Felicidades Yoani.
    Ha sido muy interesante.
    Te deseo siete mas.
    Que nunca seas sofocada por las limitaciones naturales de tus aficionados.
    Y que tengas mucha suerte en todo lo que haces.

  39. The only real crime committed by the Cuban Five was to derail actions by the anti Cuba terrorists allowed and financed by the US government in Miami. GW Bush said, “No Country has the right to harbor terrorists” the so called Bush doctrine. Invoking this reasoning to Invade Afghanistan. Of course like all US government policy it doesn’t apply to the US government itself. Do as I say not do as I do.

    You will notice that the long time anti Cuban government commenters have to shout, slander and throw mud because they are unable to make any real arguments for their views. Yoani has put that admonition “Please be courteous” to remind her supporters not to act like the wild beasts they are. She wants bourgeois statesmen commenting not the bourgeois goons.

    Her “act of cowardice” which she defines her blog as is just that. It is easy to align oneself with the greatest empire in history and for that action you get to meet with US Vice President Joe Bidden. Of course if you were a political activist who was not aligned within the acceptable zone of US Cuban policy Bidden wouldn’t give you the time of day. That is the same policy today as it was 50 years ago overthrow the legitimate Cuban Government and replace it corrupt oligarchs. Return property ownership to the pre 1959 owners like United Fruit and AT&T. Privatize education and health care making them privileged commodities available for cash on demand as they are in the rest of Latin America.



    NOT “5″ BUT 12 CUBAN SPIES: The “Five Cuban Heroes” proclaimed by the Cuban regime were actually part of a network of 12 spies that infiltrated the U.S. In addition to the five spies who maintained their innocence but were convicted in a jury trial (with no Cuban-American jurors), five pleaded guilty to charges of spying in exchange for reduced sentences, one was deported, and one fled to Cuba to escape arrest. The trials cost U.S. taxpayers one million dollars to provide the defendants with a free legal representation.
    At Cuban Government direction, the Cuban spy ring collected and reported information on domestic, political, and humanitarian activity of anti-Castro organizations in the Miami-Dade county area; the operation of US military installations; and other US Government functions, including law enforcement activity. The spy ring also carried out tasks in the United States as directed by the Cuban Government, which included attempted penetration of US military installations, duplicitous participation in and manipulation of anti-Castro organizations, and attempted manipulation of US political institutions and government entities through disinformation and pretended cooperation. The spy ring received financial support from the Cuban Government to carry out its tasks
    MIAMI HERALD: Cuba ‘concerned’ over American’s hunger strike – by Peter Orsi

    Read more here:

    HAVANA — The Cuban government said Wednesday it is concerned about a jailed U.S. government subcontractor’s hunger strike, which he began last week to protest both Havana’s and Washington’s handling of his case.

    Josefina Vidal, the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s top official for U.S. affairs, said in a statement that Alan Gross, a 64-year-old from Maryland, is in good physical health. He has been serving his 15-year sentence at a military hospital in Havana.

    “The Cuban government reiterates its willingness to seek, together with the U.S. government, a solution to Mr. Gross’ case … that takes into account the humanitarian concerns of Cuba related to the case of the three Cubans from the group of the Five,” her statement read.

    The “Cuban Five” are intelligence agents sentenced to long prison terms in the United States. Two have completed their sentences, and three are still behind bars.

    They were convicted on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents, but Cuba calls them heroes who were trying to foil terror plots against the island by militant exile groups.





  42. Happy Birthday ….and continued success ….thanks to your work, there are more “cracks” to see through inside Cuba today then at any time before….

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