Extremist Today, Democrat Tomorrow

Journalist Jose Ramirez Pantoja. (Facebook)

Journalist Jose Ramirez Pantoja. (Facebook)

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 31 August 2016 – In the nineties, this student was one of the most militant in his university classroom, until he managed to get a fellowship in Spain, and today he writes asking me, “Why do you put up with so much and not rebel?” From a rabid militant of the Young Communist Union (UJC) he went on to carve out a history as a clandestine fighter for the democracy he had to escape to because on this island “little could be done.”

The story of this colleague, who overturned his ideology at breakneck speed, came to mind lately on reading the intense controversy over the work sanction against the Radio Holguin journalist Jose Ramirez Pantoja. The young reporter published on his digital diary a statement by Karina Marron, deputy director for the newspaper Granma, where she defined the current economic and social conditions as the basis for “a perfect storm.”

Along with the disciplinary measure, which consisted in permanent separation from his job at the station, Pantoja had to undergo a process of public disqualification that reached its climax in a text signed by Aixa Hevia, vice president of the Cuban Journalists Union (UPEC). The official accused him of wanting to “create a history that allows him to cross to the Miami media.” Perhaps a projection of what she herself would do if the opportunity presented itself.

It would not be the first time that a well-known face from Cuba’s official journalism ended up “crossing the pond” and declaring on the other side that it was because “at that time I believed, but not any more.” The greatest extremists I have met in my life have ended up this way: burying their red or olive-green attire, without intoning the self-criticism that would give some relief to the victims they caused with their outbursts.

Over time, if ever, the instruments of censorship such as Aixa Hevia undergo a process of selective amnesia and forget all the damage they did to those who demonstrated greater honesty and consistency. They leave behind a trail of colleagues they have betrayed and helped to depose, without even sending them a short note of apology or condolences.

It is not Pantoja, in this case, who is carving out a “history,” but the sectarians like the vice president of UPEC, who is capable of lashing out against someone she should defend. As a representative of the journalists’ union, she should protect her colleague, instead of helping to sink him. But she has preferred to act in harmony with the censors rather than in solidarity with a professional who simply defended freedom of the press, information transparency and the right of his readers to be informed about what journalists think.

This is not about speculating whether Pantoja will exercise his right to perform as a journalist in another country because he is prohibited from doing so in his own. It seems more likely that someday it will be Aixa Hevia who will shed her chameleon skin to change her color in turn, to the dictates of the next power for whom she wants to behave as a mere instrument.

24 thoughts on “Extremist Today, Democrat Tomorrow

  1. THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY ALWAYS PUTS THE BLAME ON THEIR DISASTROUS MANAGEMENT OF THE CUBAN ECONOMY AND THEIR BLATANT CORRUPTION! THE U.S.A. HAS BEEN ONE OF THE TOP EXPORTERS OF FOOD AND OTHER ITEMS TO CUBA FOR THE PAST 25 YEARS! THE ISSUE OF THE EMBARGO ONLY CAME OUT AFTER THE SOVIET UNION COLLAPSED AND THE SUBSIDIES TO THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY DRIED OUT!

    WASHINGTON POST : Cuba says Obama’s easing of embargo hasn’t helped economy – By Michael Weissenstein

    HAVANA — President Barack Obama’s easing of the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba has had virtually no positive effect on the island’s economy, Cuba’s top diplomat asserted Friday. Presenting Cuba’s annual report ahead of a U.N. vote on condemning the embargo, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said the sanctions cost his country $4.6 billion last year. The total cost of the 55-year-old embargo now stands at $125.9 billion, he added.

    The presentation of Cuba’s update on the embargo is an annual ritual driving home to a mostly domestic audience Havana’s message that U.S. sanctions are to blame for most of the country’s problems. The report contains a detailed accounting of both specific damage from the embargo, such as U.S. government fines on Cuba’s business partners, and scenarios in which Cuba faults the U.S. for the loss of hypothetical business.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/cuba-says-obamas-easing-of-embargo-hasnt-helped-economy/2016/09/09/55210bac-76fa-11e6-9781-49e591781754_story.html

  2. THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY IS DESPERATE FOR MONEY! EVEN THOUGH THEY MAKE TRAVELERS TO CUBA BUY MANDATORY HEALTH INSURANCE THIS HAPPENS WHEN THE CARRIER REFUSES TO PAY! THE “FREE HEALTHCARE” IN CUBA IS NOT SO FREE NOW IS IT!

    TORONTO SUN : Toronto man ‘scarred for life’ in robbery at Cuban resort – By Chris Doucette

    A violent robbery at a Cuban resort ended Paul Sampalean’s dream vacation before it even started. The 33-year-old construction worker also had to pay a $3,000 hospital bill before he could return to Toronto with a nasty gash on his head. “He’s scarred for life,” Antonia Sampalean told the Toronto Sun on Friday — hours before her brother was expected to arrive back in the city.

    She said the Toronto resident enjoyed his first visit to Cuba last year and decided to return to the popular vacation destination for Canadians.

    “Obviously he won’t be going back there — ever again,” Antonia said.

    Paul Sampalean landed in the communist country on Sept. 2 to learn his luggage was lost.

    “Air Transit told him to go wait in the lobby of his hotel and his luggage would be dropped off,” Antonia said, recalling her brother’s version of events.

    She said Paul remembers chatting with locals in the lobby of Sol Sirenas Coral, a four-star all-inclusive resort in Veradero.

    “The locals tried to grab his wallet,” Antonia said. “There were three of them and he was alone, but he fought back.

    “I wish he would have given them his wallet, but he’s not like that,” she said, adding her brother is about 5-foot-8 and 135 pounds.

    Paul was knocked unconscious, but witnesses later helped him piece together some of the ordeal.

    “Hotel security staff intervened,” Antonia said, adding the crooks took off with the $100 or so Paul had in his wallet.

    http://www.torontosun.com/2016/09/09/toronto-man-scarred-for-life–in-robbery-at-cuban-resort

  3. FOX NEWS : Cuban military expands its economic empire under detente — The military’s long-standing business wing, GAESA, assumed a higher profile after Gen. Raul Castro became president in 2008, positioning the armed forces as perhaps the prime beneficiary of a post-detente boom in tourism. Gaviota, the military’s tourism arm, is in the midst of a hotel building spree that outpaces projects under control of nominally civilian agencies like the Ministry of Tourism. The military-run Mariel port west of Havana has seen double-digit growth fueled largely by demand in the tourism sector. The armed forces this year took over the bank that does business with foreign companies, assuming control of most of Cuba’s day-to-day international financial transactions, according to a bank official.

    “GAESA is wisely investing in the more international — and more lucrative — segments of the Cuban economy. This gives the military technocrats a strong stake in a more outwardly oriented and internationally competitive Cuba deeply integrated into global markets,” said Richard Feinberg, author of “Open for Business: The New Cuban Economy.”

    Castro has never publicly explained his reasoning for giving so much economic power to the military, but the armed forces are widely seen in Cuba as efficient, fast-moving and relatively unscathed by the low-level payoffs and pilferage that plague so much of the government. Economic disruption also is viewed as a crucial national security issue while the government slowly loosens its once-total hold on economic activity and renews ties with its former Cold War enemy 90 miles to the north.

    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/09/09/cuban-military-expands-its-economic-empire-under-detente.html

  4. WORLD AFFAIRS JOURNAL :Cuba’s Walled Garden -by Michael J. Totten

    Americans who sport Che Guevara T-shirts can rest assured that Cuba is still as oppressive and backward as ever. A tiny percentage of Cubans have cell phones now, but text messages that contain words like “democracy,” “protest” and “human rights” are being swallowed up by the state. If you send a text with one of those words or phrases in it, your phone will say the message was sent, but it goes straight into the bit bucket. Your intended recipient will never see it. The Spanish-language blog 14ymedio first reported this, and Reuters reporters confirmed it by sending test messages from their own phones.

    “We always thought texts were vanishing because the provider is so incompetent, then we decided to check using words that bothered the government,” Eliecer Avila, the leader of the dissident group Somos Mas, said to Reuters. “We discovered not just us, but the entire country is being censored. It just shows how insecure and paranoid the government is.”

    Cuba is one of the least free countries in the entire world, and it’s among the least connected to the Internet. Most citizens have no access to the worldwide web whatsoever for a number of reasons.
    http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/michael-j-totten/cuba%E2%80%99s-walled-garden

  5. In this context, the demand for transparency will be a key concern if the consolidation of an
    “uncivil economy” is to be avoided. A more solid legal foundation for the new market actors and
    for equality of access should be supported. International actors can and should contribute knowhow
    and material support for credit or supply markets. Measures aimed at achieving a sustainable
    social security system and countering the erosion of quality in the education and healthcare
    systems are also needed. The substantial decline in state employment and subsidized welfare,
    combined with the new money-making options provided by the growing market sector, has already
    led to new dimensions of social inequality.
    Much will depend on the ability of the reform process to bring tangible benefits in compensation
    for the loss of old securities. As the new market actors will depend on the state’s goodwill, an
    alliance between the ruling state elite, the Communist Party, the military and the winners of the
    market-based reform process may become a feasible model enabling the retention of power. The
    great unknown is whether the people’s reaction to this process will remain as passive as in the
    past. The high rate of emigration plus new business opportunities on the island certainly have a
    significant potential to divert energies from the disaffected away from political contestation.
    As long as the government feels 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 if the de facto toleration of
    oppositional voices extends, both could contribute to the eventual foundation of a more farreaching
    democratization of the country at large. This could expand the options for nonconformist
    voting in National Assembly elections, perhaps by applying to these elections the same rule that
    already applies to municipal elections: two candidates per post. 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.

  6. OIL DEAL WITH RUSSIA AND IRAN. SOCIAL SECURITY TAX FOR CUBANS THAT MAKE MORE THAN 500.00 PER MONTH
    The deal’s terms for the purchase of crude and fuels was not made public. Cuba has seen its provision from leading supplier Venezuela drastically cut because of the country’s social situation and mismanagement of the economy. A Kremlin source quoted by Interfax said that even Venezuela is being forced to import refined products.
    The Castro regime has also asked other allies to help with the difficult situation. Venezuela supply was generous in volume but mainly in payment conditions.
    The Russian news agency reports that last month Cuba received the visit of Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who highlighted the desire of his country to strengthen bilateral relations and discussed specific issues of economic cooperation in areas such as agriculture, petroleum, petrochemicals, mining, medicine and engineering.
    In related news it was announced that Cuba is reviewing its tax and social security model with around 1.5 million public employees now having to pay new contributions to the state. Granma reported that government workers making over 500 pesos (about 20 U.S. dollars) a month, will face a new 5% social security tax, named the Special Contribution to Social Security (CESS).
    Workers making over 2,500 pesos (100 U.S. dollars) a month will pay the CESS and an income tax of between 3 and 5%, known as the Tax on Personal Income (IsIP).
    Meisi Bolanos, the deputy finance minister, explained that the taxes would be discounted directly from employees’ paychecks, starting his month.
    Guillermo Sarmiento, director of the labor and salaries department of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, added that the CESS would help extend Cuba’s social security network, which covers almost 1.7 million pensioners.
    After taxes were scrapped following the 1959 revolution, Cuba has started a progressive tax reform, as part of the economic reforms proposed by Raul Castro when he was named president by his brother Fidel.

  7. Yeah, they go a-whorin’, anything to make another buck, in cahoots with the brethren of Che.
    That’s the same theme as my complaints about superficial CNN. To be fair to CNN though, CNN en español has some good programs about Latin America.

  8. THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY HAS FOUND ANOTHER SUGAR DADDY! OR SHOULD I SAY “PETROL DADDY”
    In the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, 53 per cent of poor people live in rural areas and about 23 per cent of the population lives below the national poverty line. On average, poor rural households are larger than urban households and have a higher incidence of unemployment.

    THE DAILY MAIL : Algeria to send oil to Cuba to offset falling Venezuelan supplies – LONDON, Sept 7 (Reuters) – Algeria is sending crude to Cuba for the first time to help offset lower supplies from Venezuela, hit by production problems due to low oil prices, sources with direct knowledge said. Algeria’s state-owned Sonatrach will send a cargo of crude oil to Cuba in October, the sources said, to supplement falling Venezuelan supplies.

    The cargo would be the OPEC member’s first crude delivery to Cuba, sources who monitor its exports said.

    Algeria’s main export grade is light sweet Saharan Blend. An 80,000 tonne cargo will be loaded in October. One of the sources said there may be another cargo for November or December loading.

    Cuba relies almost exclusively on Venezuela, also an OPEC member, for its crude supplies but Caracas has been struggling to maintain a 15-year-old assistance programme for its closest ally as power cuts slash its crude output.

    The collapse of global oil prices has undermined Venezuela’s economy and basic goods are in short supply.

    A trade source with knowledge of the oil deal said state-owned PDVSA would be mediating the sale to Cuba’s Cienfuegos refinery in which it holds a 49 percent stake.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3778378/Algeria-send-oil-Cuba-offset-falling-Venezuelan-supplies.html

  9. AND JETBLUE HAD THE AUDACITY AND BAD TASTE TO PUT AN IMAGE OF CHE GUEVARA ON THE CELEBRATION CAKE!
    REUTERS : U.S. lawmakers want moratorium on commercial flights to Cuba – Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, both Cuban-American opponents of Obama’s Cuba policy, introduced the Cuban Airport Security Act. The measure would stop commercial flights until after a study of security measures and equipment at airports in Cuba. The U.S. government has granted several U.S. airlines permission to begin scheduled flights to Cuba, opening another chapter in the Obama administration’s efforts to improve ties and increase trade and travel with the former Cold War foe. A JetBlue Airways Corp passenger jet flew to Santa Clara, Cuba, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Aug. 31. It was the first scheduled commercial passenger flight from the United States to Cuba in more than half a century.

    Commercial flights to the capital, Havana, are expected to begin later this year.

    Obama’s Cuba policy sharply divides the U.S. Congress. Opponents, mostly Republicans but also a few Democrats, say he is moving too quickly to ease restrictions on travel and trade, given continuing human rights violations by its Communist government.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-cuba-usa-flights-congress-idUSKCN11D21O

  10. Oil not going from Venezuela to Cuba, and that being a big problem for Cuba, is more significant proof that both countries are in big trouble.
    At the same time, Loretta Lynch isn’t happy about the Colombian FARC farce like Prez BHO is,because the FARC criminals sre going to get queeky clean records and can get US visas.

  11. ENGADGET : Cuba has been filtering texts containing political dissent – Text messages including ‘human rights’ and ‘hunger strike’ never reached their recipients – by Timothy J. Seppala

    Cuba’s struggles with modern telecommunications have been many. Now, it looks as though the Communist country has another problem on its hands: text message censorship. SMS sent with words including “human rights,” “hunger strike” and the name of dissident José Daniel Ferrer García aren’t reaching their intended recipients according to Reuters and Cuban blog 14ymedio (Spanish). The news came to light when some Cubans noticed they were being charged for messages that never were delivered.

    Reuters also tested sending messages containing “democracy” and the name of opposition youth group Somos Mas and had the same results — texts appearing delivered, but not showing up on the recipients’ phone. Apparently, there are at least 30 flagged words, but that could be a low estimate.

    “We always thought texts were vanishing because the provider is so incompetent, then we decided to check using words that bothered the government,” Somos Mas leader Eliecer Avila says. “We discovered not just bus, but the entire country is being censored. It just shows how insecure and paranoid the government is.”

    https://www.engadget.com/2016/09/06/cuba-has-been-filtering-texts-containing-political-dissent/

  12. ON THIS LABOR DAY!! LET’S NOT FORGET THE WORKER’S PARADISE KNOW AS CUBA! WITH THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY WHO ARE THE GREAT “LEADERS” OF THE WORKERS & UNIONS! NOT!!

    Background to Labor Rights in Cuba – World Movement for Democracy. — Independent unions, workers’ rights to collective bargaining, and the right to strike are not recognized by the Cuban government. Individuals associated with independent unions are often fired, harassed, arrested, threatened with sanctions, physically attacked, and imprisoned for long periods of time. According to the International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICFTU), “Anyone who engages in independent trade union activity runs the risk of being persecuted and losing their job. Workers are required to keep an eye on their colleagues and report any ‘dissident’ activity.”

    Independent labor groups have had their property and belongings confiscated, and the state security has infiltrated the movement with state agents. In March 2003, 75 human rights activists, including seven leaders of independent trade unions, suffered harassment and imprisonment and were charged with “treason and conspiracy.” The recent crackdown represented a violation of these workers’ universal rights to freedom of expression and association.

    The Cuban government only recognizes one official governmental trade union, the Central de Trabajadores Cubanos (Cuban Worker’s Confederation- CTC). During recent years, several labor leaders have broken with the CTC and formed independent unions. In February 2001, one of these groups, in alliance with several other individual independent labor leaders, formed the Confederacion Obrera Nacional Independeiente de Cuba (International Confederation of Free Labor Organizations- CONIC), which is represented in exile by Federacion de Plantas Eléctricas, Gas y Agua en Exilio (Federation of Electric, Gas and Water Plants in Exile)and composed of representatives from various sectors of society. Federacion is an example of a group working in exile that focuses on raising awareness of Cuban labor rights violations in the international community. Federacion recently produced the Violations of Social and Labor Rights in Cuba report and presented it to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

    http://www.cubasindical.org/docs/d122104.htm

  13. ON THIS LABOR DAY!! LET’S NOT FORGET THE WORKER’S PARADISE KNOW AS CUBA! WITH THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY WHO ARE THE GREAT “LEADERS” OF THE WORKERS & UNIONS! NOT!!

    YOUTUBE: DOCUMENTARY “Under Cuban Skies” — Workers and Their RIghts – Under Cuban Skies Workers and Their Rights is an account of the systematic violation of human and labor rights committed by Fidel and Raul Castro since they took power fifty years ago, supposedly on behalf of the Cuban worker. Their revolutionary government, as the film shows, is the only hiring entity and, as such, is guilty of discrimination in employment, of confiscating 97% of the salaries paid by foreign investors, and of prohibiting the workers right to organize representative unions, or to conduct collective bargaining. Interviews with hotel workers the privileged class of the Cuban labor force and with independent labor leaders and dissident journalists, were conducted in Cuba, while counterpart interviews were filmed in Spain, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Miami. The two sets of interviews make clear the stark contrast between the labor conditions in hotels operated by multinational corporations in Cuba and hotels run by those same corporations abroad.

  14. THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY OIL BOOB FROM VENEZUELA IS DRYING UP! TIME TO HIT UPON THEIR OLD SUGAR DADDY, THE RUSSIANS! WHAT PART OF CUBA WILL THE CASTRO GIVE AWAY THIS TIME!

    HAVANA TIMES – Cuban President Raul Castro has asked Russia to once begin supplying Cuba with oil. Before the Soviet Union’s disintegration in 1991, it was Cuba’s main supplier under favorable trade terms. The Russian RT news network reports today that General/President Raul Castro asked Russian President Vladimir Putin, to start oil supplies to the island. According to the news item, Castro has asked the Russian president to explore the possibility of supplying Cuba regularly with oil and other products. The terms Castro requested for the purchases was not mentioned in the article.

    The Cuban government, affected oil production problems suffered by Venezuela, has been forced to seek other international suppliers to help meet domestic demand, said a Kremlin source quoted by Interfax.

    In late August, Cuba received the visit of Foreign Minister of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who highlighted the desire of his country to strengthen bilateral relations and discussed specific issues of economic cooperation in areas such as agriculture, petroleum, petrochemicals, mining, medicine and engineering.

    http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=120863

  15. The Venezuelan people has had it. They’ve become a relentless, unstoppable force. The Chavista looters can only try to run away. I’d be very surprised if this goes on for much longer!

  16. LETS CHASE ALL THE FASCIST, COMMUNISTS OUT OF LATIN AMERICA! LET THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA BE NEXT!

    N.Y. TIMES : Venezuelan President Is Chased by Angry Protesters – By NICHOLAS CASEY

    CARACAS, Venezuela — President Nicolás Maduro was chased at a routine political event by a crowd of angry protesters banging on pots and yelling that they were hungry, just days after thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets to call for his ouster, local news media reported on Saturday. Scenes from the confrontation late Friday, which also appeared in videos uploaded to social media, captured the attention of Venezuelans, many of whom blame the unpopular president for the country’s food shortages. In one video, Mr. Maduro tries to calm the pot-bangers by walking among them, only to be surrounded as the furious crowd yells obscenities. “What is this?” an astounded voice behind the camera asks in one of the video clips.

    Mr. Maduro had traveled from the capital, Caracas, to Margarita Island off Venezuela’s northern coast to inaugurate a number of new public housing units and give a televised address.

    During the speech, he denounced his opponents’ calls for his removal from office, calling them “vampires” and saying they were preparing for violence.

    Foro Penal, a Venezuelan human rights group, said 20 people had been arrested after the protest in the island town of Villa Rosa. Mr. Maduro’s office made no statement about the episode.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/04/world/americas/venezuelan-president-is-chased-by-angry-protesters.html

  17. So how many people for personal ambitions betray their principles and believes to get what they want. It is obvious that this man realized that the old way is over and Cuba is evolving into a different type of country than the one that shape in his mind what he was going to do with his life to be successful. I don’t think that we should be cynical about his decision, Yoani. The beautiful thing about Man is its ability to adjust and change to survive in new environments. He who does not change will not survive. However, you should still be true to yourself and hold on to the values that make you who you are. There is nothing wrong with being a leftist. We believe in the true inclusive World, not the hypocricy of the Right

  18. THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY HAS TAXED THE CUBAN PEOPLE ALL THESE YEARS! GETTING PAID $20/MONTH IN PESOS RATHER THAN DOLLARS CONSTITUTES A HUGE TAX! TO ADD INSULT TO INJURY, WHEN A CUBAN WORKER NEEDS TO BUY PRODUCTS ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE “CUBAN DOLLAR STORES” HE/SHE HAS TO CONVERT THE PESOS TO THESE “CUBAN DOLLARS (CUC)” FOR A FEE! TALK ABOUT MAFIA EXTORTION!

    REUTERS : In Cuba the tax man cometh, slowly – By Marc Frank – Some 1.5 million more Cuban state workers will contribute to social security next month, with some paying income tax for the first time since the 1959 revolution as a law passed as part of efforts to modernize the economy gradually goes into effect. The workers, mainly in industry, will pay a 5 percent social security tax on income over 500 pesos per month and income tax of 3 percent to 5 percent on earnings over 2,500 pesos per month, Cuban state media said on Friday.

    Deputy Finance Minister Meisi Bolanos Weis said the tax would be deducted from workers’ pay checks by their employers, the Communist Party daily, Granma, reported.

    With an eye to the increasing inequality that was sure to come after President Raul Castro began implementing cautious market-oriented reforms and reducing the role of the state in the economy, the Communist-run island passed its first comprehensive tax code in 2012.

    Cuba had abolished taxes after Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, when everyone began working for the state at low wages. The government then subsidized everything from health, education, sports and culture to food, utilities, transportation and social security.

    The Caribbean nation’s average monthly wage last year was 687 pesos, or about $25 at the official exchange rate. There were 5 million in the labor force, of which 80 percent worked for the state.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-cuba-reform-taxes-idUSKCN1182GS

  19. REUTERS : Venezuelan opposition floods Caracas in vast anti-Maduro protest – By Diego Oré and Brian Ellsworth – Sep 1, 2016 — CARACAS – Dressed in white and chanting “this government will fall,” hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters flooded Venezuela’s capital on Thursday to press for an end to socialist leader Nicolas Maduro’s rule. Protesters streamed into Caracas from the Amazon jungle to the western Andes. The opposition coalition estimated at least one million people took part in rallies to demand a recall referendum against Maduro and decry the deep economic crisis. “We are going to bring down Maduro!” said Naty Gutierrez, 53, whose 75-mile (120 km) drive from Maracay into Caracas took three times longer than usual due to soldiers’ roadblocks.

    “We are going to defeat hunger, crime, inflation and corruption. They’ve done nothing in 17 years. Their time is finished,” she added, surrounded by thousands of people waving banners and national flags at one gathering point.

    In power since Hugo Chavez’s presidency from 1999, the ruling socialists have hit a low ebb as falling oil prices and a failing state-led economy have left the OPEC nation in turmoil.

    Triple-digit inflation, a third year of recession, shortages of basics, and long lines at shops have exasperated many of Venezuela’s 30 million people. The frustration led to a resounding opposition win in a December legislative vote.

    Maduro, 53, says the opposition-dubbed “Takeover of Caracas” on Thursday is a front for coup plans, akin to a short-lived 2002 putsch against his mentor Chavez, who died of cancer three years ago. Maduro has failed to replicate his charismatic predecessor’s popular appeal, and his ratings in opinion polls have halved to just over 20 percent.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-idUSKCN1173LS

  20. The FARC farce has reached the end of the beginning. The narcoterrorista bosses can move into estrato siete, the ueber-luxury barrio of Bogota and continue their ueber-lucrative cocaine trade and become politicians and try to make meravillosa, hermosisima Colombia into another CubaZuela. Also, thousands of FARCers will be unleashed on the whole country instead of staying out in the forest. All they know is how to commit crime and use weapons. It happened in Ireland and Central America, why not in Colombia?
    Last, but not least, about Prez Santos, who needs friends when you have “enemies” like him?

  21. Again I’ll go for the foreign journalistic angle, again about CNN. I think I got it now, why the Cala/Camilo concept doesn’t work: Maybe the ratings are ok, but the concept is flawed because there’s this weird mix of silly and serious, too much farandula, showbiz. The young and sharp Cala could become an excellent replacement for Oppenheimer, who’s getting long in the tooth.

  22. NPR : Venezuela Turns Away Journalists On Eve Of Planned Anti-Government Rally — As a foreign correspondent based in Colombia, I’ve made dozens of reporting trips to Venezuela. But today’s has been the shortest by far. As soon as I stepped off the plane at the Caracas airport, immigration officials confiscated my passport, then ordered me to take the next flight back to Bogotá. I’m not alone. Alongside me as we wait to board the plane are Marie-Eve Detoeuf of the French daily Le Monde and Cesar Moreno, a reporter for Colombia’s Radio Caracol. A few days ago, an Al-Jazeera TV crew was turned back at the airport. We had all been trying to get into Venezuela to cover a major demonstration planned for Thursday. Opposition leaders hope to put a million people in the streets in a show of rejection for the beleaguered socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro, which is dealing with a collapsing economy, the world’s highest inflation rate and a plunging approval rating.

    http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/08/31/492152387/venezuela-turns-away-journalists-on-eve-of-planned-anti-government-rally?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20160831

  23. KING OBAMA WANTS THAT US/CUBA DEAL TO WORK AT ALL COSTS! EVEN AT THE COST OF DEMOCRACY, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND PRESS! WHAT A PATHETIC LEGACY HE WILL LEAVE ON THESE ISSUES AND ON CUBAN HISTORY!
    CAPITOL HILL CUBANS BLOG : Who Wasn’t on JetBlue’s Cuba Flight – Today, JetBlue inaugurated its commercial flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Santa Clara, Cuba. The flight included more Obama Administration officials and fluff media than actual passengers. starters, a journalist from The Miami Herald, who was denied a visa by the Castro regime to to join the flight. (See tweet #1.) Not on the flight were Cuban-Americans critical of the Castro regime, who were similarly denied visas. (See tweet #2.) Also not on the flight were various Cuban independent journalists, who were arrested as they sought to cover the flights arrival in Santa Clara. Meanwhile, as the Obama Administration was celebrating its latest distraction at one Cuban airport (Santa Clara), the leader of The Ladies in White, Berta Soler, was being beaten, dragged and arrested in public view at another Cuban airport (Havana). Obama’s Cuba flights are not only outsourcing U.S security to the Castro regime, but further ’empowering’ its censorship and repression.
    http://www.capitolhillcubans.com/2016/08/who-wasnt-on-jetblues-cuba-flight.html

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