The Independents of the Independents

ADSL cables

ADSL cables

Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 8 February 2015 — “Do not talk about politics or religion,” says the number one rule of the most extensive illegal data network in Havana. Those who join the network of routers and antennas that make up SNET accept such guidelines as a matter of survival. Plugging into the service allows them to form a part of a brotherhood that every member protects and keeps “low profile.” Despite such strict limitations, it’s worth experiencing this chance to connect ourselves to others, to use the internal chat service, and to experience the vertigo of being online… even though we know we are sadly offline. An illusion of Internet that is maintained as long as the WiFi receptor on our computers is lit up.

The audiovisual “packets” are the same. Among their dozens of folders filled with TV shows and movies, some news and magazines slip in. One click us enough to see that few want to make problems for themselves with the government by distributing critical materials. Such that the sharers of the so-called “combo,” pay the toll of including copies of the government newspaper Granma, materials from Cuban television news, and backups of digital sites belonging to the provincial newspapers. But… as they say of a character in a film, “among the fallen leaves shine nuggets of gold.” Circulating in this compendium are several independent publications dedicated to music, celebrities, and the private sector, whose audience looks forward to every new number.

Those who would project Cuba’s future would do well to dive into this Cuba of the present

Attention! One way to write and to convey ideas to a great number of Cubans is being incubated in the “packet,” which includes glossy magazines – the independents of the independents – aimed at an audience that on reading them is already imagining a different country. So these abound in vivid colors, careful design, images of scrumptious dishes served up in exclusive restaurants, or interviews with well-known singers. None of these articles talk about politics, and yet every published text is a rejection of the ideology in power. From compendiums about how to be an entrepreneur, to success in business manuals, to simple workshops on cooking the most delicious stuffed churros in the neighborhood, it all makes up part of the publication offerings that are gaining space in the “packet.”

Those who would project Cuba’s future would do well to dive into this Cuba of the present. A reality contained in the more than one terabyte of data that passes from door to door. A passage through not what we claim to be, but what we are.

95 thoughts on “The Independents of the Independents


    REUTERS: Congressional delegation meets Cuba’s heir apparent – By Daniel Trotta

    Nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives met Cuban Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Thursday, marking the first time Cuba’s heir apparent to power has received an official American delegation.

    Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and eight other House Democrats concluded their two-day visit by meeting Diaz-Canel, 54, who is first in line to the seat of power held by brothers Fidel and Raul Castro since 1959.

    The meeting came two months after the United States and Cuba announced a rapprochement and plans to restore diplomatic relations after more than 50 years of hostilities.

    The nine Democrats, all supporters of U.S. President Barack Obama’s policy change on the Communist-led island, were due to be escorted directly to the airport after the meeting.

    Diaz-Canel and the Americans talked about Cuba’s market-style economic reforms, bilateral relations and prospects of the U.S. Congress lifting the country’s 53-year-old trade embargo of Cuba, official Cuban media reported.

    It was the first time Diaz-Canel has met any American officials since he became first vice-president two years ago, Cuban officials said. As president, Raul Castro has received American delegations led by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy.

    Diaz-Canel, who is most likely to become president when Castro steps down in 2018, has generally kept a low profile but occasionally speaks publicly of Cuba’s need for a more dynamic and critical press and for a more open Internet.



    BBC NEWS: Venezuela police raid arrests Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma – 19 February 2015 Last updated at 21:29 ET
    he mayor of Venezuela’s capital, Antonio Ledezma, has been arrested amid accusations of a coup attempt.

    President Nicolas Maduro said the opposition leader must answer “for all the crimes committed against the country’s peace and security”.

    Camouflaged police smashed into the mayor’s office and carried him away.

    The arrest comes on the anniversary of the start of months of protests against Mr Maduro’s rule that left dozens of people dead.

    The Human Rights Watch group has called for Mr Ledezma’s immediate release.

    Hundreds of people gathered at the intelligence agency’s HQ in Caracas to protest at the arrest.

    Mr Maduro said: “Mr Ledezma, who today by order of the prosecution was captured, must be processed by Venezuelan justice to answer for all the crimes committed against the country’s peace, security, constitution.”
    ‘Like a dog’

    Mr Ledezma was on a list of people and foreign powers named by Mr Maduro last week as attempting to bring down his administration.


    CAPITOL HILL CUBANS: Why Pelosi Didn’t Meet With Any Cuban Dissidents

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) just concluded her Congressional delegation to Cuba.

    There were plenty of meetings with Castro regime officials.

    But U.S. officials have confirmed that Pelosi and her delegation did not meet with any Cuban dissidents.
    To ensure such dissident meetings did not become a constant, the Castro regime threatened to put a halt to all Congressional delegations visiting the island — including Pelosi’s.

    The condition for these Congressional trips to resume was that they don’t meet with dissidents — and Pelosi happily complied.

  4. “We didn’t want anything in return.” And this is smart diplomacy? This explain why they kept Senator Menendez, outgoing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the others Cuban-American members of Congress, ordinary Cuban-Americans as well as Cuban dissidents out of the loop.


    A New U.S.-Cuba Policy: Did Cuba Win?
    THURSDAY, FEB 26, 2015@ 5:00PM
    701 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004
    President Obama’s surprise announcement in December of his intention to reestablish formal diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba has stirred vigorous debate. Supporters justify the move by arguing that 50-plus years of diplomatic stalemate and sanctions have failed to bring freedom to the Cuban people. They believe it was past time for a new policy that would give Cubans greater exposure to the United States and lead to more liberalization on the island. Such a policy would also advance American interests in the Western Hemisphere more broadly given the unpopularity of U.S. sanctions against the Castro regime. Opponents of the change argue that the Castro dictatorship has been handed a victory — formal recognition by the United States — in exchange for very little. Democratic opponents of the regime did not benefit, while the regime’s stranglehold on human freedom persists and the U.S. has relinquished key leverage for political change on the island. On February 26, the McCain Institute will continue its Debate and Decision Series as leading experts tackle the question: A New U.S.-Cuba Policy: Did Cuba Win?

    Team 1:
    Julia Sweig – Senior Research Fellow, The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at University of Texas, Austin

    Myron Brilliant – Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    Team 2:

    Mauricio Claver-Carone – Executive Director, Cuba Democracy Advocates

    Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo – Columnist, Diario de Cuba, Sampsonia Way Magazine and El Nacional

    Moderator: Jon Decker – White House Correspondent, Fox News Radio

  6. That’s so disgusting, that so man people come to see the Biennale and give a lot of foreign currency to the Castristas. They should all take a walk in the sreets of Havana and learn what Cuban reality really is…


    NEW YORK, Feb. 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Absolut Elyx and Vogue Italia proudly present “Women of Integrity” – an exhibition of photography by Johan Lindeberg, Creative Director of Absolut’s new luxury vodka. The photography exhibition which will debut during New York Fashion Week features portraits of 16 inspiring women from 16 different countries. Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief – Franca Sozzani will host the evening exhibition along with Lindeberg. The subjects span from Cuban activist, Yoani Sanchez to Dr. Bahija Jallal – Executive Vice President, MedImmune, responsible for biologics research, development and clinical activities and Elif Safak – one of Turkey’s most distinctive voices, who is also the country’s bestselling female writer.
    The women featured in the exhibition include: Hiam Abass – Palestinian actress, Iris Berben – German actress, Dora Bouchoucha – Tunisian film producer, Staceyann Chin – Jamaican poet and LGBT activist, Melanie De Basio – Belgian musician, Sandra Den Hamer – Dutch museum director, Bahija Jallal – Moroccan cancer research executive, Nadine Labaki – Lebanese actress and director, Blanca Li – Spanish choreographer, Ofelia Medina – Mexican actress, singer and screenwriter, Shirin Neshat – Iranian artist, Prune Nourry – French artist, Patricia Pillar – Brazilian actress, Princess Rym of Jordan, Yoani Sanchez – Cuban activist and Elif Shafak – Turkish author.


    1. Expand Citizen Rights
    2. Secure a more pluralistic debate
    3. Access to information
    4. Foster and secure spaces for debate within the official institutions


    1. Public and private opportunities to support human rights and fundamental freedoms of Cuba.
    2. Funds for:
    a. Exercise of political and civil liberties in Cuba
    b. Facilitate free flow of information
    c. Humanitarian assistance

    Cuba is working on Expanding Citizens Rights by agreeing to a debate of Human Rights. Cuba is also fostering and securing spaces for debate within the official institutions by the Cultural and Educational exchanges that are taking place between the two countries. Cuba now has Google and is buying communication products from the United States. The United States is funding exercises in political and civil liberties in Cuba through dissidents and providing Humanitarian assistance by the Food exports to Cuba. I think opening the embassy by April should be a slam dunk. But, I don’t think the President can lift the embargo by announcing that “Cuba is in the process of transition to democracy” any time soon as it is required by the law and the lifting of the embargo will require Congressional approval.


    ART NET NEWS: Why Is the Havana Biennial Afraid of Tania Bruguera and is she the Cuban Ai Wei Wei? – by Christian Viveros-Fauné, – Wednesday, February 18, 2015

    For artist Tania Bruguera, there’s no mistaking the illegal and arbitrary nature of her current plight. After being arrested by the Castro regime on December 30 for staging a pro-democracy art performance in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolucion—in which she invited passersby to speak into a microphone for “1 minute free of censorship per speaker”—the prominent Cuban artist has had her passport seized, she faces criminal charges that range from disturbing the peace to inciting to riot, and finds herself mired in a Kafkaesque legal limbo, where she cannot find a lawyer to represent her, since all attorneys in Cuba work de facto for the state.

    Yet the artist is also clear that her problems are unfortunately familiar to many of her countryfolk. “There are two Cubas,” she told this writer last week. “There’s one that’s exported ideologically to other countries, and then there’s the one that Cubans have to live with.”
    The parallels between Bruguera’s case and Ai Weiwei’s four-year-old standoff with the Chinese government are obvious. Both instances involve visual artists whose highly symbolic artworks have exposed the brutal hypocrisies of a repressive regime. But in Bruguera’s case, it appears a reckoning is fast approaching. With the Havana Biennial, Cuba’s premiere art event, only a few months away (it’s set to open on May 22), it’s entirely likely that Cuba’s best-known artist may still be held on the island facing trumped up criminal charges when the festivities kick off.
    “When I was first arrested, the prosecutor asked for 60 days to officially file charges,” Bruguera told me over a very scratchy phone line last week (she claims the terrible connection may be due to a large antenna being pointed in the direction of her home since her release on January 2), “but then they explained to me that that period can be extended three times, that is to say, for another 180 days.” That, of course, puts the terms of Bruguera’s retention in Cuba in direct conflict with the biennial dates. This coincidence could prove a PR disaster for the scrappy biennial, which has ironically chosen to highlight “community engagement” and display work throughout Havana’s streets this year, in anticipation of thousands of dollar-bearing visitors—among them important American collectors, curators, and museum directors.


    Of course, none of this will be easy. If I am right, and our new policy succeeds in empowering the Cuban people to shape their political destiny, then the Cuban government may respond by cracking down harder in the short run but the Cuban people will have the best opportunity in more than half a century to freely determine their own future in the long run.

    None of us can say what will happen next. Some of Cuba’s bravest dissidents – voices we profoundly respect – believe that we’ve made a mistake and that nothing good is likely to come from these changes. I hope critics of our policy will acknowledge that others in Cuba who have sacrificed for the cause of democracy believe just as strongly that we have done the right thing. There are many different views on this question, because the future is uncertain.

    I’ll close by suggesting that this sudden uncertainty, after decades of absolute, depressing certainty that nothing can change, constitutes progress. It carries with it a sense of possibility; an opportunity for debate. This is what most of the Cubans we’ve heard from in recent days are saying; they don’t know if the changes we’ve announced will bring better days or not, but they feel that something better is at least possible now.

    Reinaldo Escobar, a journalist who began his career writing for official Cuban government media and now writes for the independent Cuban news outlet 14ymedio, summed up this feeling in an essay he titled “A New Dawn:”

    The entire world, he wrote, now “has its eyes set on the government of Cuba . . . They know it and will have to choose between loosening the repression or letting the world down. I am betting that they will let the world down, but I am hoping to lose the bet. All the signs and accumulated experience clearly say that this is only a new maneuver to win some time and to allow them to get away with their schemes, but this is also an unprecedented move and things can always turn out differently. The most important thing is that the domino game has been shaken up and it is time to move the pieces.”

    Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, having shaken up the game, we have a chance now to help things turn out differently for the Cuban people. I hope we can work together to seize that chance.

  11. President Obama has also made it clear that the U.S. government will continue programs that promote the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms such as freedoms of peaceful expression, association, and assembly in Cuba, just as we do in 95 countries around the world. These programs are a fundamental part of our human rights policy and national security interests around the world. The Cuban government may continue to object to these efforts, and to try to crack down on those involved with their implementation. But it will find it harder to treat contacts with the U.S. government and with international NGOs as criminal when Cubans see their own leaders engaging in diplomatic relations with us. In any case, we will continue to manage our programs in Cuba with appropriate discretion to protect human rights activists from further reprisal, even as we ask the Cuban government to stop punishing its citizens for activities considered a normal part of life in most other countries. We greatly value the input and coordination of this Committee on our programs and we look forward to further conversations.

    The Cuban government has proposed bilateral talks on human rights, and I look forward to leading the U.S. team to these talks. Our objective in such talks will be to develop an agenda of specific reforms that will bring about concrete improvements in compliance with applicable international human rights obligations and commitments. The Cuban side will of course raise its usual allegations about problems in the United States, and I will be proud to defend our record. But we are not interested in an abstract debate; we will continue such talks only if they chart a course for concrete progress on human rights and democratic principles in Cuba. And we will insist that the most important dialogue the Cuban government should have on human rights is with its own people.

  13. ART FORUM INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE NYC: Tania Bruguera – 02.18.15

    Bruguera cannot leave Cuba until her passport is released by Cuban authorities, which will not occur until after she stands trial for inciting public disorder and is proven not guilty. The prosecution on the case has just extended discovery from ten days to sixty and is capable, under Cuban law, to extend it up to six months.I AM A PANGAEA-IST. I have never agreed with the categories of “expat,” “Cuban-American,” or “authentic Cuban” art; they were decided upon by politicians to create a false sense of superiority and by gallerists to profit from politics.Cuba is an island. It is also a utopia—a place people have consistently looked to political inspiration. With the apparently imminent arrival of American tourists and capitalists, Cuba is now once again susceptible to change. This is a moment that strongly challenges the image we Cubans have had of our country for more than half a century. It could be an opportunity to transform Cuba into a global nation, with a government inclusive of people from many different countries—to become a beacon for global citizenship. But given the current situation, it appears that this reestablishment of Cuban-US relations will instead just be another exercise in formalism based in economic gain. I don’t want to see Jeff Koons in Cuba; I want to see the Guerrilla Girls, Hans Haacke, and Gulf Labor, as well as art that is not a product but that offers a space to generate justice.‪#‎YoTambiénExijo‬ (I Also Demand) is a collective effort that proposed restaging a previous artwork of mine—Tatlin’s Whisper #6—under new political circumstances. The work is part of a series, also called “Tatlin’s Whisper,” wherein I take a recurrent image or incident in the press and I bring it alive for an audience that has no direct relationship with the reported original event. I create a firsthand experience that can replace the anesthetization created by the media with a sense of responsibility, to call forth an emotional reaction to something that has not happened to you (solidarity) or that could happen to you one day (rehearsal). The work aims to transform audience members into active citizens.#YoTambiénExijo has two simultaneous public


    I talked with my Cuban counterpart about several elements that presently inhibit the work of our U.S. Interests Section, including travel restrictions on our diplomats, limits on staffing and local access to the mission, and problems receiving timely shipments to the mission. The successful resolution of these issues will enable a future U.S. Embassy to provide services commensurate with our other diplomatic missions around the world and on a par with the many foreign diplomatic missions in Cuba. We began a useful discussion and intend to meet again this month.

    Having just seen our U.S. diplomats in Havana in action, I would like to take this opportunity to salute their tireless work to advance U.S. interests on the island by conducting educational and cultural diplomacy, monitoring significant political and economic developments, and promoting respect for democracy and human rights, including engaging with Cuba’s independent civil society. These dedicated public servants have done their jobs under often very difficult circumstances. Our diplomats unite families through our immigration processing, provide American citizen services, and issue visas for qualified visitors to the United States. Our Refugee Processing Center provides assistance to victims of political repression. Our public diplomacy officers work in partnership with a range of journalists, including those from civil society, and provide hundreds of Cubans each week with uncensored internet access through our three Information Resource Centers. Our consular officers issue tens of thousands of travel documents annually to Cubans traveling to the United States for the purposes of emigrating or visiting friends and family. These efforts will continue and expand once we establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.

    We have only begun the official talks on normalizing relations – which will take considerably longer than the first step, which is the re-establishment of diplomatic relations. But even while we do so, we will continue, both directly and through diplomatic channels, to encourage our allies to take every public and private opportunity to support increased respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba. We will continue to use funds appropriated by Congress to support the exercise of political and civil liberties in Cuba, facilitate the free flow of information, and provide humanitarian assistance. We also look forward to increased engagement to empower the Cuban people through authorized contact with Members of Congress, U.S. government officials, and American travelers. We encourage Members visiting Cuba to expand their engagement with the independent voices in Cuban civil society and, whenever possible, to engage effectively on human rights and democracy with the Cuban government.

    We will continue our discussions with our oversight and appropriations committees as we move toward a new relationship. We appreciate that there is a diversity of views in the U.S. Congress on the new direction towards Cuba. However, we hope that we can also work together to find common ground towards our shared goal of enabling the Cuban people to freely determine their own future.

    The US Government does not do enough to hold Cuban extremists based in the USA accountable to the rule of law. Completely apart from Cuban exiles managed and funded by the CIA, and still a major problem, the Cuban exile zealots in Florida and New Orleans — are a force that is dying but dangerous. What many do not realize is that Venezuela is the “other” major aggregation of right-wing Cuban zealots prepared to do anything they can to bring down the legitimate government in Venezuela, with or without CIA funding and encouragement. The US Government loves all 40 plus dictators with two exceptions: North Korea and Cuba. In Venezuela the US Government is largely dishonest about its positions, which are paid for by US oil interests.

  16. A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Thursday to lift the Cuba trade embargo – which was great timing for this week’s Loop Congressional Research Service Report pick!

    President Obama began the process of “normalizing relations with Cuba, but he can’t go it alone. To completely open up Cuba to U.S. business and vice versa would require congressional action. The president, per law, could only eliminate the embargo if he says”a transition government is in power in Cuba” or “if he determines that a democratically elected government is in power,” according to a CRS report on Cuba sanctions.

    The CRS Report lists Cuba trade restrictions in law that can be waived or lifted – for instance there’s a prohibition on ships entering U.S. ports carrying goods or passengers benefiting Cuba, but the Treasury Secretary has discretion to issue licenses on a limited case-by-case basis. But to fully end the embargo would take an act of Congress.

    That’s what Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and a group of senators, Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), are seeking to do.

    The bipartisan bill rolls back the section of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 that established “a total embargo upon all trade between the United States and Cuba” and the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 (Helms–Burton Act) that strengthened and codified the trade embargo. It does not, however, address foreign aid to Cuba, which is also currently prohibited.

    “It’s time to the turn the page on our Cuba policy,” Klobuchar said. “Fifty years of the embargo have not secured our interests in Cuba and have disadvantaged American businesses by restricting commerce with a market of 11 million people just 90 miles from our shores.”

    As we’ve reported before, there remains plenty of opposition to opening up trade and travel to Cuba, so it probably won’t be anytime too soon that Cuban goods start filling the shelves of U.S stores.

    (Reminder: We are offering this new weekly service because the average person can’t access the reports. This week’s CRS report number is R43888, and can be requested from a congressional office.)

  17. THE ECONOMIST: Cuba and the internet – Wired, at last – Mar 3rd 2011
    ACCORDING to government figures, only 3% of Cubans frequently use the internet, making the communist island the least connected place in the Americas. Those that do require patience: according to an industry survey, Cuba’s dial-up internet access is the world’s second-slowest, after Mayotte, a French territory in the Indian Ocean. Under the guise of rationing the use of bandwidth, internet access is banned in most private homes and censored in offices. In 2009 Barack Obama authorised American companies to provide internet services to the island. But Cuba showed no interest in exploring the possibility. Instead it turned to its ally and benefactor, Venezuela.

    GLOBAL VOICES: Cuba Announces New IT Policy and Does Not Mention Internet Access – February 18, 2015

    Specialists in the IT and telecommunications sectors will discuss an IT policy in Havana that is intended to be “inclusive, modern, and facilitate sustainable processes over time,” said Ailyn Febles Estrada, Vice Chancellor of the University of Information Science, to Cubadebate.

    According to Febles, “all opinions from professionals linked to the sector are important” in defining and executing the new policy.

    Nevertheless, this vision excludes—at least initially—those who are not considered “industry experts,” in a context where ICT use and access is of interest to all of society, and is even one of the talking points in the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States. Febles did not allude to Internet access either, which should be a central topic in any discussion on information and communication policies.

    The National Workshop on Informatization and Cybersecurity will bring together over 11,000 computer experts, mostly connected via video conference in 21 sub-sites located across all of the country’s provinces. On February 19 and 20, the event will be held in the Center for Integrated Technology Research at the José Antonio Echeverría Superior Polytechnic Institute, and around 260 experts will participate, analyzing topics such as human and scientific resources, e-government, computer security, the economy and legislation, Cubadebate explains.

    The policy of Internet access in Cuba favors free use in universities and research centers, but limits public access points with high prices in comparison to citizens’ average income. One hour of Internet browsing costs $4.50, and only 60 cents when it is for domestic use. The average monthly salary in Cuba is $25 CUC (roughly convertible to $25 USD).

    During the first round of talks between Cuba and the United States, held in Havana in January 2015, Josefina Vidal said that Cuba was willing “to welcome U.S. telecommunications companies to explore business opportunities in this field (…) that may be beneficial for the country.”



    TIME MAGAZINE: What Nancy Pelosi’s Visit to Havana Means – by Karl Vick

    But Nancy Pelosi’s arrival on the island Tuesday adds a certain weight to the process. Pelosi, the San Francisco Democrat who leads the House minority, has become the most senior congressional leader to visit Cuba, a nominal milestone in every sense of the word but one that nonetheless helps to sustain the momentum begun with the Dec. 17 joint announcements of Presidents Obama and Raul Castro.
    More importantly, the Americans will also meet with what Pelosi’s news release referred to as “members of civil society,” code language for political dissidents who cycle in and out of detention in Cuba, a one-party state that insists that criticism can occur only “inside the system.” Hence the inclusion of Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, co-chair of the congressional Human Rights Commission. Conspicuous demonstrations of support for these lonely dissenters were a key element of the State Department delegation, and will be for all U.S. officials — not only out of principle, but to show skeptics watching on the Hill that renewing ties to Havana does not meaning letting the Castros declare victory. And since the next round of talks is slated to take place in Washington next week, Pelosi’s visit also offers the opportunity to keep the focus on the island in question.


  20. So, the Obama administration concessions to the Castroit regime supposedly were unilateral without asking anything in return. They wanted something in return, except it has nothing to do with the freedom of the Cuban people.

  21. ,b.Former Obama Official on Cuba Talks: “We didn’t want anything in return”,/b.

    by JASON POBLETE on FEBRUARY 12, 2015

    Recent statements by a senior DoD official who served in the Obama administration, if true, further validates that this President is determined to appease rogue regimes such as Iran, Cuba, and North Korea. In the case of Cuba, U.S. interests and the law, be damned:

    “This was not a negotiation … [i]n was in fact, a unilateral decision. We didn’t want anything in return,” Dr. Frank Mora said at a conference in Miami covered by The Daily Signal.

    I wonder what the family members of victims of Cuban terror would say to him? The current and former political prisoners? Or the thousands of Americans owed billions of dollars for unlawful taking of property or holders of judgments against the regime? What about the Cuban resistance and dissident movement? But wait, there is more:

    “Whatever engagement has been in the past, it’s about time we decide on an agenda besides hiding behind isolation and estrangement,” Mora added.

    To his point on “hiding behind isolation and estrangement,” it is, at most, disingenuous. It is the same argument used by the special interest groups that for decades have sought normalization of relations with the regime.

    I sound like a broken record lately on this point: economic sanctions are not U.S. policy. It has been, always will be, a tool. That may have been the case up until the mid-1990s, but it all changed with the passage of two key laws: the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 and the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (Helms-Burton).

    The venerable Senator from North Carolina, Jesse Helms, was a champion for freedom and rule of law around the world. He had many detractors, especially on the Left. When it comes to Cuba, he’s had the last laugh as his name is uttered just about every time folks talk about U.S.-Cuba relations. (Photo Credit: Searching for proper credit. will update).

    Former Senator Jesse Helms (for you younger ones, see the photo), and others who worked on these solid, forward-looking laws, should be proud their handiwork. It advances U.S. interests, liberty, rule of law, order, and all that is good about America.

    For decades the Cuban regime, and those who support them, desperately tried to amending these laws and regulations. They continue to do so today. Why? Because despite that the law was haphazardly enforced, it has worked. It has worked all too well.

    Administration officials will never concede the point that appeasement is not a foreign policy virtue. They made a huge mistake with Cuba, as they have with Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and elsewhere. At least in the Cuba case, Dr. Mora’s clarity and candor is welcome.
    Let’s see if the Congress can put U.S. interests, and law, back in the driver’s seat instead of the trunk.


    As long as the government feels it still is firmly in control, it is likely to continue a careful course of opening space for debate within official institutions, with exemplary yet occasional sanctions for those who cross the line. If these spaces for debate are fostered and secured, they could contribute to the eventual foundation of a more far-reaching democratization of the country at large. With regard to opposition groups, the state will seek to avoid heavy-handed repression that would cause international uproar, instead pursuing a strategy of authoritarian containment. The quest to expand citizen rights on the island, securing a more pluralist debate and access to information, will remain at the center of the political agenda. A key challenge for the current political leadership is the preparation for a generational change of guard. While Raúl Castro’s tenure can be seen as the transition from the “historic generation,” it is still uncertain what generation of leaders may follow. The question of the top leadership position will in all likelihood not be touched upon; however, it will inevitably return to the political agenda toward the end of Raúl’s formal five-year mandate as head of state in 2018.

  23. WASHINGTON TIMES: Senator: Next round of US-Cuba talks next week – By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN
    HAVANA (AP) – A new round of negotiations to restore full diplomatic ties with Cuba will take place next week in Washington, according to a delegation of U.S. senators who said they were hopeful the two sides would reach a deal soon.

    Teams of negotiators led by Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson and Cuba’s top diplomat for U.S. affairs, Josefina Vidal, are working to resolve Cuban demands that include the easing of banking restrictions on its diplomats in the U.S. and limits on U.S. support for dissident groups that Cuba considers illegal.

    The U.S. wants Cuba to eliminate some of the heavy security cordon around its interests section in Havana and allow unrestricted travel for its diplomats in Cuba, among other demands.

    “We look with hope and expectations to the meetings next week in Washington between the Cuban government and the American State Department to make progress,” Warner told reporters in Havana on Tuesday.

    He did not say if he expected the pending issues to all be resolved in the coming round of talks but told a large group of reporters, most from Cuban state media, that diplomats often moved more slowly than politicians want. The next three to six months are a key window for progress in the normalization of ties between Cuba and the U.S., he said.


  24. LITERAL MAGAZINE: Whispers and Silence: Tania Bruguera, Raul Castro and Performance Art in Cuba – by Yvon Grenier
    Three times recently we were reminded that art can still stir the pot in our blasé 21st century: with the censorship and delayed release of the B movie The Interview, the assassination of Charlie Hebdo editors in Paris, and with the censorship of an audacious performance by Cuban artist Tania Bruguera (1968- ) in Havana. Though the event did not capture as much attention in the global village as the other two, Bruguera became a cause célèbre in the confined milieus of highbrow art and Cuba watchers. Big media took notice:The New York Times ran an editorial entitled “Cuba Turns Off Critics’ Open Mic.” The spotlights were already beaming on the island after the epochal Obama-Castro agreement on December 17. For an artist eager to provoke, the timing was perfect.Art as Mirror of PoliticsThe episode began with Bruguera using the social media, under the political hashtag ‪#‎YoTambienExijo‬ (I Also Demand), to announce her intention to stage a provocative performance December 30th on the most famous political site in the country, Revolution Square (Plaza de la Revolución). She flew to Cuba on December 26th, after years of absence from the island (she lives and works mostly in the US). Tatlin’s Whisper‪#‎6features‬ an open mic and an invitation to anyone in the audience to step forward and speak uncensored for one minute. A dove is placed on each speaker’s shoulder in a transparent parody of a famous speech by Fidel Castro in 1959. Two actors in military uniform escort each speaker back into the crowd. Needless to say, such a performance would “perform” very little in a free country. It is a mirror that reflects the political environment where it takes place.Bruguera made clear her intention to stage the performance after she was denied permission to do so, with predictable consequences. She was soon repudiated by the state-run art council, and then detained by the police (three times). Up to 50 artists and dissidents were detained as well (or held under house arrest), many of them before they could even reach the square. So Bruguera’s performance never took place. Or did it? “Everything that happened — from the day that we formed the platform, is a performance,” she said. “And it turned out different from what I expected.” The new script involved the censorship of a Cuban artist of considerable international stature by a pseudo-liberalizing communist regime.
    In Cuba, everything is political, so it’s not difficult for a Cuban artist to present himself or herself as political. Since the 1980s, Cuban art has been somewhat critical of some aspects of Cuban society, as long as it is destined to the happy few (including foreign clientele) and of course, provided it does not question Fidel/La Revolución directly. The 1980s generation of visual artists was particularly bold by Cuban standards, but they left the country en masse during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Bruguera, who is from the more tame 1990s generation, was “trans-generational,” according to art historian and curator Gerardo Mosquera: “she took the critical political spirit of the previous generation that had left the country and developed it within the new one.”


  25. REMEDIOS, VILLA CLARA,Cuba, Feb 3 (acn) The execution of some 11 works for accommodation or recreation is carried out by the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR by its Spanish acronym) for the celebration of 500th anniversary of Remedios, the eighth village founded by the Spaniards in Cuba.

    The works include the adaptation of a two-story house located opposite the main square of the city, which will serve as the Camino del Principe hotel, which will have 25 rooms.

    Regla Dayamí Armenteros, delegate of the entertainment industry in Villa Clara, told ACN that it will soon start the rehabilitation of another old building to become it into a new hosting facility, to which we must add the Mascotte and Barcelona, already in operation in the city.

    Remedios is a town that exhibits a high degree of conservation of properties with architectural and heritage values, so MINTUR intends to contribute to its beautification and improvement of conditions for raising offerings for visitors, she said.

    Armenteros reported concerning the celebration of the town founding on June 24th, they are also working on repairing the tavern El Parrandero where a cellar for wine storage is built, and El Güije, intended for sale drinks and light meals.

    An expansion in Mascotte, 10-room hotel, will include the construction of a specialized store in the sale of rum and cigars, while in the historic center itself a premise will be adapted for the operation of a restaurant with 200 seats, she said.

    Alain Gonzalez, manager of El Parrandero, noted that the attractiveness of the property will grow considerably when repairs were finished because this center has a privileged location, in one corner of the main square of the city.

  26. The Castroit regime ranks 176 out of 177 countries in the world in terms of economic freedom. Only ahead of North Korea. It is one of the most unattractive investments in the world.

    Foreign investors cannot hire, fire, or pay workers directly. They must go through the regime employment agency which selects the workers. Investors pay the regime in hard currency and it pay the workers a miserable 10%.

    “This year we will undertake measures aimed at improving relations with Cuba. We are interested in intensifying relations with Latin American countries to increase the welfare of the people of our country and peoples of Central and South America,” said South Korean Foreign Minister.

    These statements are given after US and Cuba announced last December 17, 2014 the resumption of the talks for the normalization of diplomatic relations.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Korea, expressed the hope that this decision will also help improve relations between Seoul and Havana.

    On Tuesday, the state insurance company China trade K-sure, said it signed a memorandum of understanding with Cuba to also facilitate bilateral trade between the two nations.

    The South Korean company disclosed that provide the Central Bank of Cuba (BCC) and the Banco Exterior de Cuba (BEC) a credit line worth 60 million euros (67.9 million), setting a second agreement for insurance payment.

    Previously any South Korean company wishing to trade with Cuba, but had a letter of credit should endorse it by the bank in a third country, delaying the process and now with the new agreement guarantees payments to companies in South Korea for the goods exported to Cuba through a letter of credit issued by the BEC.

  28. A new type of “tourist” is needed: Ones that go to Cuba to see what life is like there.
    Meet nobody, do nothing, and have nothing even remotely suspicious. A walk in Havana to see people living among ruins is enough to know that something is seriously wrong. Then go home and tell the world. Also, find out – discreetly, probably not in Cuba – how to send massive amounts of remittance money…


    YAHOO NEWS: The Truth About ‘Tourist Apartheid’ in Cuba – by Kim-Marie Evans

    In fact, during a recent art-buying trip I took to Cuba, I learned there is a term used to describe the visitor situation in the country: “tourist apartheid.” In other words, travelers still remain separate from the general population. The purpose of my trip was to buy art, but the visit also allowed me to learn more about the lives of “real” Cubans — which is very different from what tourists see and experience. The people I interviewed whispered their answers while glancing over their shoulders. “Who could possibly be listening?” I asked.
    The truth is that anyone can be listening.

    I took a similar trip to Cuba last year. That was when I learned that freedom is still scarce in the country. During that trip, I was followed by a spy who somehow knew that I was carrying a book by a well-known dissident Cuban blogger — even though I hadn’t shown the book to anyone and had not left it in my hotel room. The ministry of tourism contacted my group leader, who made me surrender the “anti-government propaganda.”
    We aren’t imagining that Cuba is an oppressive socialist regime — it is.

    To get a job there, Cubans still need to be able to provide documentation that they are good socialists. Telling an American journalist the story of your life could jeopardize that. So for that reason, most names in this story have been changed. I spent my time on the ground trying to answer my own questions about the current situation in Cuba. Here is what I learned:

    There is a huge financial divide

    During a lunch at a popular tourist restaurant in Havana, a doorman pulled me aside. Under the guise of a “restaurant tour,” he told me his story. After completing six years of medical school and obtaining a prominent position in the hospital, he earns $52 per month — roughly the same amount it costs to eat lunch in the restaurant where he works. He stays in Cuba because he loves what he does. He continues to practice medicine because he loves what he does. When he met his wife’s family, they were disappointed that she was marrying a doctor; her last boyfriend had been a waiter. Right now, waiters and taxi drivers earn more than doctors and engineers, because they cater to tourists, whereas doctors and engineers cater to the general population.

    When you snap photos of locals, be prepared for a “tip” request.

    There are two currencies: one for Cubans and one for tourists. The tourist dollar, the CUC, is worth 25 Cuban pesos and is roughly equivalent to one U.S. dollar. It would be reasonable to think that in a country where the average income is 20 CUCs per month, food and shelter would be inexpensive. Not true, according to my tour guide, Julia, who said “it costs $250 to $300 per month to live.” Those who don’t work full-time in the tourist industry moonlight in it or become creative at making money on the side. One artist told me, “All Cubans are capitalists.”

    There is a huge information gap

    When I needed help carrying a case of water to my hotel room (the same five-star hotel where Jay Z and Beyoncé stayed), my driver was not allowed to help me take it up in the elevator. Until recently, Cubans were not even allowed in hotel lobbies. The rationale? A hotel lobby offers forbidden access to international information. In lobbies, Wi-Fi is free, and U.S. television shows blare in hotel bars.


  30. Violence only breeds more violence. Let the normalization of relations take traction. Protesting now only polarizes the negotiations.

  31. It’s a good thing that huge intl corps can’t just move in and take over. The private sector can grow now like never before…

  32. Under the Castroit regime foreign investors cannot partner with private Cuban citizens. They can only invest in the island through minority joint ventures with the regime enterprises. The regime military, through the dominant enterprise Grupo GAESA, control most of the island economy. Therefore foreign investors will have to partner mostly with the regime military.

  33. CAPITOL HILL CUBANS: Over 65 Cuban Dissidents Arrested Today – Feb. 15, 2015
    Over 65 Cuban democracy activists werearrested today in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba.All of those arrested were members of the opposition groups, Cuban Patriotic Union(UNPACU) and Citizens for Democracy(CxD).Their crime? Trying to attend Mass at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity.They were intercepted by nearly 200 Castro regime agents, who began to beat and arrest them.Among those arrested were Roberto Perdomo, Mileidi Maceo, Mileidi Gómez, Ismaray González, Rubén Alvarado, Graciela Dominguez, Yarisnier Vargas, Maidolis Oribe, Moraima Díaz, Barbaro Tresol, Roberto González, Ricardo Guzmán, Yanny Núñez, Eliezer Quintana, Carlos Oliva, Alexeis Martinez, Ernesto Oliva, Carlos Rafael Torres, José Augusto Fuentes, Lázaro Barrera, Ricardo Torres, Lorenzo Malesu, Ernesto Tamayo, Héctor Velázquez and Onel Nápoles.Note: Ernesto Tamayo had been currently released under the Obama-Castro deal. He’s the second former political prisoner from the “Group of 53” to be re-arrestedthis week alone — Mario Alberto Hernandez was also arrested in a separate incident.

  34. Congratulations to Humberto for an excellent title: CAPITOL HILL CUBANS

    Perfect. This is exactly what those dissidents are: not Havana Cubans, not Holguin Cubans and not Jaruco Cubans. Capitol Hill Cubans they are!

    By the way: would you keep your injured friend watiting 4 hours for the medical assistance or would you bring him to the nearest hospital right away?

    The answer ist not obvious. If the injuries are fake it is better to wait 4 hours to sell some “Cuba News” to the enemy journalists.

  35. CAPITOL HILL CUBANS: Cuban Dissident Nearly Beaten to Death
    Cuban democracy activist, Rolando Diaz Silva, was viciously attacked with a metal pipe inside his home.The attack has been attributed to tactics by Castro’s security forces that seek to intimidate lesser-known dissidents and dissuade them from joining opposition groups.After being beaten nearly to death, it took over four hours for an ambulance to arrive at Diaz Silva’s home.A group of six dissidents who protested the lack of medical attention were subsequently beaten and arrested by the authorities. They include Lourdes Esquivel, a Ladies in White activist, and Mario Alberto Hernandez, a recently released political prisoner from Obama-Castro’s “Group of 53.”Below is an image of Diaz Silva after the attack.

  36. This is a very good point, Viva Cuba!

    Let them keep the embargo. It is not 1992 any more. Let us work on recovering Guantanamo from the thieves.

    I was told there are good beaches in the Guantanamo base. A hotel complex there might bring $200 – $400 million a year. This is what the Yankee steals from Cubans.

  37. Obama didn’t get anything directly from the Castristas, but he got the approval of the Cuban people. Cubans got more hope of change and progress than they ever had before, and the practical efforts that can be made right now. Also, all this would never have happened if CubaZuela wasn’t as close to disaster as it is. That’s the kind of “concession” that happens when reality starts biting…

  38. The fact is that today the embargo does not hurt the cuban people as much as it did unter the previous presidency. In addition to the Bolivarian Initiative, the leadership of Raul Castro managed to forge important aliances with China, Brasil, Russia.

    Maybe it would be the time to say to the Yankee: keep the embargo and give our Guantanamo back?

  39. The US embargo shall continue until set forth in the law are met by the Castroit regime. The Castroit economy has failed because socialism doesn’t work. President Obama has done as much as is politically acceptable in relaxing travel, trade & remittances with Cuba. For his trouble, he got nothing in return from the Castroit regime. It is worth noting, the Cuban-American caucus in congress, which includes both Republican and Democrats, all support continuing the embargo. Only the Congress can end the embargo.

  40. Unlimited remittances, wow, that’s even ‘way much better than the former increase. The Castristas will make a lot of tax money, so we’ll have to see how it all works out…


    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE: Supporting Cuba’s Nascent Private Sector – Office of the Spokesperson – Washington, DC – February 13, 2015

    Empowering the Cuban people and Cuban civil society is central to our approach to Cuba. The President’s December 17, 2014, announcement and the January 16, 2015, regulatory changes issued by the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury create new opportunities for Cuba’s nascent private sector. These measures will help independent Cuban entrepreneurs access the information and resources they need to improve their living standards and gain greater economic independence from the state.

    As of January 16, Americans may send unlimited remittances to individual Cubans in support of private businesses and independent non-governmental organizations, and may engage in certain microfinance activities, entrepreneurial training, and development projects in Cuba under general licenses. U.S. companies are permitted to export items such as building materials, equipment, tools, and supplies for use by the Cuban private sector, without the need for a license. The measures also allow for more engagement by U.S. telecommunications and internet-related companies in Cuba to support better communications and access to information by the Cuban people.

    Today, the State Department published its “Section 515.582 List,” which characterizes goods and services produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs that may be imported into the United States. The list can be found at along with additional information about this provision, which is authorized by the Treasury Department’s Cuban Assets Control Regulations. The State Department will update this list periodically.


    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE: Supporting Cuba’s Nascent Private Sector – Office of the Spokesperson – Washington, DC – February 13, 2015

    Empowering the Cuban people and Cuban civil society is central to our approach to Cuba. The President’s December 17, 2014, announcement and the January 16, 2015, regulatory changes issued by the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury create new opportunities for Cuba’s nascent private sector. These measures will help independent Cuban entrepreneurs access the information and resources they need to improve their living standards and gain greater economic independence from the state.

    As of January 16, Americans may send unlimited remittances to individual Cubans in support of private businesses and independent non-governmental organizations, and may engage in certain microfinance activities, entrepreneurial training, and development projects in Cuba under general licenses. U.S. companies are permitted to export items such as building materials, equipment, tools, and supplies for use by the Cuban private sector, without the need for a license. The measures also allow for more engagement by U.S. telecommunications and internet-related companies in Cuba to support better communications and access to information by the Cuban people.

    Today, the State Department published its “Section 515.582 List,” which characterizes goods and services produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs that may be imported into the United States. The list can be found at, along with additional information about this provision, which is authorized by the Treasury Department’s Cuban Assets Control Regulations. The State Department will update this list periodically.

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