Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hey Castro! Free Them Now!

The worrying situation of the recently detained Cuban dissidents remains the same. Of the women arrested after a peaceful march through the streets of Rio Verde, Havana, very little is known, except that they have been severely beaten and the majority of them are disappeared, with unknown whereabouts.

Among them, one of the most worrying cases is that of Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera, who has various serious health complications. According to her husband, prominent dissident leader Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’, “various activists who witnessed the repression last weekend on September 24th (during the march marking the Day of the Resistance, held every 24th of the month) have affirmed that my wife Yris received a brutal beating and many kicks all over her arms and head“. The same occurred to Donaida Perez Paceiro and Yaimara Reyes Mesa, both of whom together with Yris are part of the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights. “I am denouncing that these women are still arrested/disappeared and I am directly accusing the Castro dictatorship and its political police of this brutal repression and of everything that could occur“, declares Antunez, adding that, “the authorities of the country have been incapable of even informing the relatives of those jailed about their condition or their whereabouts“.

Yris Tamara Aguilera
Antunez took the moment to also express gratitude for all the “signs of solidarity received from different parts of the world” and also emphasized that many dissidents within the island have also joined in solidarity. He mentioned protests which demanded the release of these dissidents in places like Palmarito de Cauto, Palma Soriano, and a hunger strike “being carried out right now by members of the Central Cuban Coalition, a group headed by Idania Yanez Contreras“. Up to the moment, the hunger strikers are Guillermo del Sol Perez, Michel Oliva López, Rolando Ferrer Espinosa, Alcides Rivera Rodríguez, and Julio Columbie Batista.

On the afternoon of Thursday, September 29th it was also reported that Eriberto Liranza Romero (detained on the previous day and released that same night) was once again arrested while he demanded to know the situation of Sara Marta Fonseca and her husband Julio Ignacio Leon, both detained. During night hours of that same day, Antunez published a Twitter message in which he informed that ‘Julito’ Leon Fonseca, son of Sara and Julio Ignacio, was finally able to see his mother for a few minutes after he protested for hours in the 4th Police Unit of El Cerro. According to Antunez, ‘Julito’ denounced that his mother has clear marks of a severe beating and was in a poor state of health. He also learned that his father had been checked in to the Carlos Finlay Hospital of Marianao in the Prisoners Unit. The information comes from an audio accompanying Antunez’s Tweet, which can be heard in Spanish here.

Source: Pedazos de la Isla

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  • Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Cuban Hip-Hop Artists Arrested along with other activists

    Activists marching at Río Verde. Photo courtesy of Hablemos Press.

    Cuban hip-hop artists Julio León Fonseca (Julito) and Rodolfo Ramírez Hernández (El Primario) were arrested last Monday during a protest at Río Verde, Boyeros, Havana.

    They were beaten and arrested along with other activists, including Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, Yaimara Pérez Mesa, Donaida Pérez Paseiro, René Ramón González Bonelli, Rances Camejo Miranda, Rodolfo Ramírez Cardoso and Yoani García Martínez, when they attempted to march to demand the release of Sara Martha Fonseca, her husband, Julio Ignacio León, and another activist arrested on Saturday.

    Video of the protest in Río Verde

    El Primario and Julito NO INTENTEN

    El Primario y Julito Website

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  • Monday, September 26, 2011

    Arab rebellions worrying dictators elsewhere

    These are scary times for tyrants. Some of the world's most enduring dictatorships, the ones that looked as though they would never end, have met their demise in recent months. For now, the popular revolts have spread only through the Middle East. Unelected governments in other parts of the world are trying to make sure they're not next.

    In countries such as Cuba, North Korea and Burma (renamed Myanmar), unelected regimes are raising the walls as they try to keep themselves safe from the very people they claim have nothing but love for their longtime rulers.

    When Egyptian protesters, fed up with 30 years of rule by Hosni Mubarak, forced the president out of power, Cuba's Fidel Castro explained the events as a revolt against America. In his column in the Communist Party daily Granma, the iconic former Cuban president wrote, "After 18 days of harsh battling, the Egyptian people attained an important objective: to defeat the United States' principal ally in the heart of the Arab countries."

    Castro defended Libya's Moammar Gadhafi until the end, painting the uprising as a brutal NATO onslaught against the defenseless Libyan people, an example of colonialist Western aggression aimed at grabbing Libyan oil.

    Most Cubans have little if any access to the Internet or other sources of nongovernment-controlled media. An American contractor, 62-year-old Alan Gross, was sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison after he was found to have brought equipment to allow Internet access for members of the country's tiny Jewish community.

    Information is even more tightly controlled in other dictatorships. In North Korea, televisions come factory-tuned to government propaganda channels, and there is essentially no Internet and virtually no cellphone service. Even so, a report by South Korea's Institute for National Unification says the North reacted to Arab rebellions with a number of urgent measures to prevent contagion. Police stations reportedly were ordered to intensify their ideological indoctrination programs, as additional security forces were deployed to prevent any trouble.

    If any significant uprising happened to occur, there's little doubt that Pyongyang, with more than a million soldiers receiving privileges from their loyalty to the state, would quickly use force to suppress it.

    Burma's rulers have also shown a willingness to use force to stop protests. Long before the Arab uprisings, young Burmese took to the streets to demand democracy. It happened on Aug. 8, 1988 (8-8-88). The military killed thousands of demonstrators and imprisoned their leaders. Buddhist monks launched another protest in 2007. The government again responded with violence.

    Still, the Burmese opposition lives on, and the regime has put on a democracy charade. Fraudulent elections produced a new, supposedly civilian, parliament in fact dominated by the military. The new prime minister is a former general. But opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, after years under arrest, has been freed.

    In an interview with the BBC, she told Egyptian demonstrators, "We're all with you." But the government says 0.8 percent of the country has Internet access. Local newspapers offer a parody of the news. Stories from Egypt during the January uprising, for example, included news of secret chambers discovered in the pyramids.

    The real news, of course, is that tyrants can be toppled.

    No dictatorship lasts forever. For the people who have struggled against all odds, facing imprisonment and worse for demanding democracy, the truth about what is happening to Middle Eastern dictators will slowly filter in. Their rulers already know the truth. They are watching closely, and they are not sleeping well at night.

    By Frida Ghitis

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  • Friday, September 23, 2011

    Yoani Sanchez issues plea to We Have A Dream summit of dissidents

    Yoani Sanchez

    Yoani Sanchez, the Cuban dissident and world-renowned blogger, called on the phone from Havana today to address the We Have A Dream: Global Summit Against Discrimination and Persecution:

    Fortunately for me and many Cubans, technology has permitted us to project our voice both inside and outside the island, to be able to reach those places where our government does not permit us to travel.

    But the path to end the censorship and the state monopoly over information is still a very long one for us. Precisely on that topic I want to speak to you today — of the personal civic drama that signifies not being able to significantly access the new technologies and especially the internet.

    We are a nation locked in the 20th century; we are still unable today to navigate in cyberspace. We need to pass through an ideological filter, or pay a very high price that is inaccessible for our salaries. Only the very reliable functionaries, the foreigners in our country, or the communicators from our official sector, can have access to internet from their homes. The rest of the Cuban citizens are condemned to an information blockade.

    And for that reason, today, at this forum, I want to denounce the crimes against connectivity that the Cubans are suffering, in not permitting us to gain access to other information…the citizens of this country are being victimized by a crime against journalism and mafia.

    It is a violation of our rights to be denied knowledge of what happens outside and inside of our national frontiers. Nevertheless, despite these restrictions, human rights activists, non-conformist citizens, and non-conformist artists are finding the way to express and spread their voice.

    The magnificent tool of blogs and Twitter have served us as a substitute to the free press that we do not have. From the small country in the east of the country, from the places where no one has ever seen a computer connected to the internet, through cell phones, Cubans are able to tell our story. Messages going out through Twitter are like an SOS, a call for help that is able to leap over the wall of control.

    Technology has protected us. We have avoided in many cases that the repression would be excessively harsh with us. Each minute that passes that we Cubans are not permitted the massive access to the technologies, are years and years that we remain behind professionally and as citizens.

    International community: please, pressure Cuba, so we could feel like individuals of this millennium, and interact with the citizens of the world on an equal basis. To get information today is to get democracy for tomorrow.

    Source: UN Watch

    Speech by cuban blogger @yoanisanchez from #Cuba


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  • Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Jackie Kennedy Held American Marxists Responsible for Castro

    JFK and Jackie -1960 

    While most of the media have focused on the Jackie Kennedy tapes as they pertain to such figures as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon Baines Johnson, there are fascinating parts of the conversations that demonstrate the anti-communism of President John F. Kennedy. In this context, Jackie singles out The New York Times for criticism for helping bring Castro to power.

    One reason for the lack of attention to these excerpts may be that they shed light on one of the worst performances of the liberal media in the history of journalism. Partly as a result of the coverage of the Castro revolution by Herbert Matthews, the Times correspondent in Cuba, the Cuban people have been saddled with the Castro regime, which once hosted Soviet nuclear missiles targeting the U.S., for over 50 years.

    National Review had published a caricature of Castro over the caption, “I got my job through the New York Times,” alluding to how the paper tried to promote classified advertising to job-seekers.

    A book by Anthony DePalma, described as the dramatic story of “how a New York Times reporter helped Castro come to power,” referred to Matthews as “The Man Who Invented Fidel.”

    Humberto Fontova’s book Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant explains how Matthews’ coverage helped Castro. “This is not a Communist revolution in any sense of the word,” Matthews wrote in 1959. “In Cuba there are no Communists in positions of control.” Matthews added, “Fidel Castro is not only not a Communist, he’s decidedly anti-Communist.”

    Jackie indicates that the Kennedys accepted the view of one of their family friends, Ambassador Earl E.T. Smith, that The New York Times and the State Department were largely responsible for Castro’s rise to power and the fall of Fulgencio Batista.

    Smith said that the U.S. government facilitated Batista’s downfall by withdrawing support for his government. But Smith also said that “Until certain portions of the American press began to write derogatory articles against the Batista government, the Castro revolution never got off first base.”

    Smith said that Matthews’ columns “eulogized Fidel Castro, portrayed him as a political Robin Hood, and compared him to Abraham Lincoln.”

    While JFK had no sympathy for Batista, he thought it was “awful” that President Eisenhower, a Republican, had permitted Castro to visit the U.S. after his seizure of power in Havana, said Jackie, going on to cite Smith’s book, The Fourth Floor, on how the U.S. State Department had paved the way for Castro’s takeover. The title is a reference to the officials responsible for Cuba policy who were on the fourth floor of the State Department.

    Smith wrote that the Fourth Floor had a “close association” with the Times’ Matthews, “who gave the impression by his editorial conduct of advocating Batista’s downfall.”

    Smith, ambassador to Cuba when Castro took over, spoke at an Accuracy in Media conference in 1979 when Castro’s communist comrades in Nicaragua, the Sandinistas, were threatening a takeover of that country. Nicaragua was Cuba all over again, Smith said.

    He signed a copy of his book to this columnist by saying, “To Cliff Kincaid in memory of ‘Accuracy in Media.’” It was a commentary on the failure of the Times to accurately depict Castro as the communist he was and the continuing failure by the media to factually describe the nature of communism and its adherents.

    “We knew Earl Smith then, who’d been Eisenhower’s ambassador at the time,” said Jackie in the tapes featured in the book Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy. “When we were in Florida—that’s all Earl could talk about. Yeah, then Jack was really sort of sick that the Eisenhower administration had let him [Castro] come in and then The New York Times—what was his name, Herbert Matthews?” Jackie adds, “I can remember a lot of talk about it and wasn’t—didn’t even Norman Mailer write something?”

    Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who was interviewing Jackie, interjects, “Norman Mailer was very pro-Castro, yeah.”

    When Schlesinger noted that Smith had written a book about Castro being a communist and working with the communists, Jackie replied, “Yeah—The Fourth Floor? Well, he was always saying his troubles with the State Department—I remember there was a man named Mr. Rubottom he kept talking about. And how hard it was—warning against Castro and how just it was like, I don’t know, dropping pennies down an endless well. He just never could get through to the State Department. So, I suppose he thought he was a Communist, yeah.”

    Roy Rubottom was the Assistant Secretary of State at the time of Castro’s seizure of power.

    Smith wrote in his book, “It cannot be maintained that the government of the United States was unaware that Raul Castro and Che Guevara, the top men of the 26th of July movement, are Communists, affiliated with international communism. There was ample evidence to that effect. I have shown in this book that it was impossible for Assistant Secretary of State Roy Rubottom, his associate William Wieland, and the Fourth Floor not to be aware of Fidel Castro’s communist affiliations.”

    Wieland, the State Department’s chief of Caribbean affairs and a friend of Herbert Matthews, was accused of being a communist agent. Citing Nathaniel Weyl’s book, Red Star Over Cuba, Fontova says Wieland, who had partly grown up in Cuba, had been active in the Cuban Communist Party in the 1930s and had used the name “Guillermo Arturo Montenegro,” an alias he kept secret when he filled out a national security disclosure form. Wieland resigned in disgrace.

    Analyzing U.S. policy, Smith wrote, “To make my point clear, let me say that we helped to overthrow the Batista dictatorship, which was pro-American and anti-communist, only to install the Castro dictatorship which was Communist and anti-American.”

    Smith noted that, in a national broadcast on December 2, 1962, Castro declared, “I am a Marxist-Leninist and will be one until the day I die.”

    Although JFK authorized an invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961, Jackie alludes to the failure to follow through with adequate military force. “I mean,” she said, “the invasion in the beginning and then no air strike—half doing it and not doing it all the way…” The result was a slaughter of anti-communist Cubans in the invasion force and a victory for the Castro regime.

    By Cliff Kincaid

    Source: Gulag Bound

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  • Monday, September 19, 2011

    Corruption: Cuba shuts Canadian company

    Cuba has shut down one of the most important western trading companies in the country as an investigation into alleged corrupt import-export practices broadened to a second Canadian firm, foreign business sources said on Friday.

    State security agents on Friday watched who entered the building in Havana's Miramar Trade Center where Ontario-based Tokmakjian Group, one of the top Canadian companies doing business on the communist-run island, has its offices.

    The company offices on the fourth floor were sealed with a notice that it had been closed by Cuban State Security.

    "We received notice on Monday from the foreign ministry and the Council of State, which is the procedure in such cases, to stop all dealings with the Tokmakjian Group," said an employee of a Cuban company that does business with the firm.

    Like other people who spoke to Reuters about the clampdown on the company, she asked that her name not be used.

    Tokmakjian Group is estimated to do around $80 million in business annually with the Caribbean island, mainly selling transportation, mining and construction equipment.

    The company is the exclusive Cuba distributor of Hyundai, among other brands, and a partner in two joint ventures replacing the motors of Soviet-era transportation equipment.

    Company officials were not immediately available for comment.

    Cuban authorities shut down Canadian firm Tri-Star Caribbean on July 15 and arrested company president Sarkis Yacoubian. The company, considered a competitor of Tokmakjian Group, did around $30 million in business with Cuba.

    "Apparently Tri-Star Caribbean was just the beginning. They brought in more than 50 state purchasers for questioning, arrested some of them and broadened the investigation from there," a western businessman said.

    "As far as I know up to now just Canadian firms are involved, but you can bet every state importer and foreign trading company in the country is on edge," he said.


    Cuban President Raul Castro has made fighting corruption a top priority since taking over for his ailing brother Fidel in 2008, and in the past year a number of Cuban officials and foreign businessmen have been charged in graft cases.

    Tri-Star Caribbean did business with around half of the 35 Cuban state companies authorized to import, from tourism, transportation and construction to the nickel and oil industries, communications and public health.

    The whereabouts of the man who founded the family business, Cy Tokmakjian, of Armenian heritage, born in Syria and educated in Canada, was not clear on Friday.

    He was last seen by Reuters a week ago, the day after his offices were sealed, but another western businessman said he had been detained by Cuban authorities.

    "They picked up Cy on Saturday and I heard his wife and at least one of his kids flew in to see what they could do," he said.

    Cuba's state-run media rarely reports on corruption related investigations until they are concluded and those charged are sentenced.

    Tokmakjian, a former mechanic, is a self-made millionaire with interests in Canada and other countries besides Cuba, where he is a well known figure. He made his first deal with the Caribbean island in 1988.

    President Castro, a general who headed Cuba's Defense Ministry for 49 years, has cracked down on corruption as part of his efforts to revive the country's sagging economy, but to date has done little to change the conditions that foster it, such as low salaries and lack of transparency.

    There is no open bidding in Cuba's import-export sector and state purchasers who handle multimillion-dollar contracts earn anywhere from $50 to $100 per month.

    Castro has moved military officers into key political positions, ministries and export-import businesses and in 2009 established the Comptroller General's Office with a seat on the Council of State.

    A source close to the Tri-Star Caribbean case said the Comptroller General's Office had been brought into the investigation, indicating it most likely was targeting high level officials.

    Castro's crackdown has resulted in the breaking up of high-level organized graft in the civil aviation, cigar and nickel industries, at least two ministries and one provincial government. An investigation into the communications sector and another into shipping are also under way.

    By Marc Frank

    Source: The Gazette (Reuters)

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  • Saturday, September 17, 2011

    Cuba After Castro

    Social networks and media outlets have been spreading rumors on Fidel Castro's alleged death the past few weeks.. The speculations started in early August after an infected virus-email depicted the Cuban leader lying in a coffin. The fact that Castro has not appeared in public since the Communist party meeting in April 2011, and that he has stopped writing his editorials in the Cuban paper Granma elicited further suspicions about the status of his health. According to an op-ed in the Venezuelan paper El Universal, Castro's health situation is deteriorating; this could be the reason why Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez decided not to go back to Cuba to continue receiving chemotherapy, and instead decided to go to Hospital Militar Carlos Arvelo in Caracas for treatment.

    The Venezuelan state-run media, however, assured everyone that Castro is alive and healthy. On September 7, the program La Hojilla, run on Venezuelan Television, aired an interview with a Fidel Castro looking in good shape, putting to rest rumors about his health. "Those who are at this moment enjoying and believing that Comandante Fidel had a stroke, I'm sorry to inform you that he is alive and kicking," said Mario Silva, the program's host. In the interview, Castro joked about the rumors about his death: "They've killed me off any number of times," he said. "The guys who make these predictions make me laugh, as if for me death would be bad news."

    Future Scenarios

    After the revolutions in the Arab world, some opinion makers have wondered whether Cuba could be also hit by a spontaneous uprising against the regime, in which the economic crisis might deepen, despite policies of liberalization.

    The Spanish political magazine Atenea argued that after the death of the Comandante, a possible scenario for Cuba could be the continuation of market liberalization's reforms while at the same time trying to keep alive the ideology of Catroism. Last April 2011, during the 6th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, Raul Castro took further steps towards economic reform and political liberalization. Reuters reports that Castro's brother "in public statements… has accused government cadres of laziness, corruption, neglect and ideological rigidity and has repeatedly urged them to reject old revolutionary dogma and embrace new ways of thinking."

    The death of a charismatic leader such as Fidel Castro, along with the pursuit of economic liberalization, could, however, lead to the disappearance of Castroism, and with it, the dictatorial regime -- but not without a price to pay. Raul Castro lacks charisma, historical legitimacy and the needed consensus among the government's elite. This is why the after-Fidel time could be characterized by a power vacuum and instability, followed by uprisings and infighting. If such a situation emerged, there is a risk that Cuba could become a failed state if the international community would not help its transition. Of course, that would totally depend on who did the helping. A failed state in Cuba would be am extremely dangerous scenario: drug cartels could take advantage of the instability on such a strategically-situated island.

    According to Atenea, a possible political scenario for the post-Castro-era in Cuba would be a negotiated transition. If Raul Castro will not manage to continue his rule on the island, the Cuban economic and military elite – pressured by the socio-economic crisis – could be willing to share power-quotas with other sector of the society. Following the example of South Africa, where a negotiated transition was led by Nelson Mandela, Atenea suggests that a Cuban dissident could be the means of democratizing the country. Again, the success of that, for Cuba and for the world, would depend on which dissident.

    The path thorough democratization will not be easy for Cuba, a country for five decades under the grip of a dictatorship. Unless the Cuban people suddenly start an uprising against the regime, however, the Castro brothers have no intention of giving up power. As Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said, Fidel Castro is more alive than ever, and willing to continue the fight against "Imperialism." Any popular revolt would be instantly repressed by the powerful Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, who now control 60% of the economy. In order to avoid giving up to this privileges, they will defend Castor's regime to the death.

    Economic Liberalization

    The fake news about Castro's death succeeded in bringing back the question of whether the ideology of Castroism can survive after Castro. Many analysts argue that Catroism is doomed to disappear: the island has no other choice but to liberalize its economy to overcome its current economic crisis. Some cautious measure towards the openness of the market has already taken place in Cuba under the presidency of Fidel Castro's brother Raul. Even Fidel Castro himself admitted that the Communist economic model failed: "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore," he confessed last September, 2010.

    As pointed out by a University of New Mexico paper by Mario Rivera, Cuba found it necessary long ago "to put into effect market-oriented policies," especially to address the severe economic crisis triggered by the loss of Soviet support after 1989 that left the country with nothing to sustain it. However, "even the most spontaneous and forceful change is occurring within revolutionary bounds, and… the fits and starts of liberalization policy have simply manifested the tactical agility of Cuban leaders. In this view, the cyclical nature of economic policymaking in Cuba is not cause for concern so much as a corollary of pluralism—of a plurality of intersecting and competing interests within the confines of a socialist civil society. The creation of mixed enterprises, joint ventures, and other hybrid forms of commerce, and the rise of managerial, entrepreneurial, and other social networks in the economy, is an indication of a potential for the development of capable institutions, both public and private, in a democratic direction," the paper noted.

    by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

    Source: Hudson New York 

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  • Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Why we're not seeing a "Cuban Autumn"

    A dissident signs the letter "L" for the Spanish word "libertad" or freedom as he is detained by police during a procession celebrating Cuba's patron saint in Havana, Cuba, Thursday Sept. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano).

    Dissidents took heart at the successes of the Arab Spring, but pro-democracy protests aren't gaining traction.

    The uprisings that have rocked the Middle East this year appear to be inspiring a new wave of protests on this island.

    But while the Arab Spring is still in full effect in many countries, opponents of the Castro government have gained little momentum for a "Cuban Autumn."

    In recent weeks, anti-government activists have staged several public demonstrations in Havana and eastern Cuba. News and video clips of the events were posted on social-networking sites and broadcast on Miami television channels.

    They show small groups of activists banging cookware, chanting anti-Castro slogans and "Freedom!" until police and state-security agents arrive to whisk them away.

    In some of the videos, larger crowds of Cubans stand around watching the protesters, but they do not join in.

    The incidents come after a period of relative calm that followed the Castro government's move last year to release scores of imprisoned political prisoners, with the Catholic Church playing a mediating role. The amnesty briefly ameliorated criticisms by Western governments and human-rights groups of Cuba's one-party socialist system and its treatment of non-violent dissenters.

    Now activists are once more testing Raul Castro's tolerance for public protest -- and whether the tactics used by tweeting insurgents in the Middle East could spread anti-government sentiment here.

    So far: not so much.

    One disadvantage often cited by Cuban activists is that they operate at a significant technology deficit. The island is one of the least-connected countries in the world, and though many young people have mobile phones, most lack access to Facebook, Twitter and video-sharing sites because of internet restrictions and scarce bandwidth.

    Anti-Castro activists on the island are also viewed suspiciously or with outright hostility by many Cubans, even those who have lost faith in Cuba's socialist model. State media broadcasts frequently show them meeting with U.S. diplomatic officials, depicting them as "counterrevolutionaries," "mercenaries" and "opportunists" who are out to make a buck or get political asylum abroad.

    Many others here remain committed to Cuba's system and its revolutionary ideals, even as the free health care, education and other benefits the government provides continue to diminish.

    But dissidents also say Cuban authorities are escalating their attacks to intimidate others from joining their pro-democracy efforts. In August, police violence against peaceful protesters reached its highest level in recent years, according to the Havana-based Cuban Commission on Human Rights and Reconciliation, an anti-Castro group that the tracks political arrests and detentions. Nearly twice as many activists have been detained so far this year compared to the same period in 2010, the group said, including 130 short-term detentions over the weekend.

    The Cuban government has challenged those charges, accusing the group of padding its lists with fake names.

    Castro opponents do not claim the Cuban government stoops to the type of methods that have been used by regimes in the Arab world, where activists are raped, tortured and murdered, and where protests are commonly met by volleys of police gunfire.

    But state-security officials can plainly be seen coordinating counter-protests by government loyalists, who often surround dissidents and shout epithets at them for hours on end, sometimes accosting them physically. Security agents typically stand between the two sides to keep things from getting too rough.

    When Cubans protest in public spontaneously, as some of the recent videos show, police quickly swoop in to arrest the demonstrators and haul them away, though the activists are often released several hours later.

    Cuba's Catholic church, which played a central role in securing the release of more than 100 jailed activists over the past year, issued a carefully worded statement last week that condemned violence against "defenseless" people.

    But Church spokesman Orlando Marquez also said in the statement that the Cuban government told the church "no one at the national level" had ordered attacks on protesters.

    Cuban state television has aired footage of the protests, claiming the incidents were part of a "media campaign" against the island. It called the demonstrations acts of "public disorder" that were organized by U.S.-supported "mercenaries" and planned in coordination with American officials.

    "The goal is to create a climate of tension that will justify aggressions against Cuba," the report said.

    While Cuba's economy continues to struggle, there has not been the kind of broader unrest on the island that sparked street protests during the post-Soviet crisis of the 1990s.

    Raul Castro has eased state control over the economy since taking over for his older brother in 2006, allowing for new private businesses and pending reforms that would permit Cubans to buy and sell homes and cars for the first time in half a century.

    Castro has also encouraged Cubans to vent their frustrations -- within limits -- through established channels like workplace forums and neighborhood meetings. Criticizing state institutions and government bureaucracy is no longer taboo, but organized opposition and public protests -- like the recent demonstrations -- remain out of bounds.

    Since most of the dissidents freed over the past year opted to leave Cuba for Spain as part of an arrangement with the Madrid government, the latest rounds of protests may also be an effort by activists to remain visible, particularly to supporters abroad.

    Cuba's most famous online anti-government activist, Yoani Sanchez, sends out cascades of tweets from her mobile phone, including information about protests. Her blog, Generation Y, is no longer blocked on the island by the government, but many young Cubans who manage to get online aren't necessarily inclined to use their precious bytes on political sites.

    A high-speed undersea data link to Venezuela completed this summer with much fanfare is supposed to come online in the next few months, increasing Cuba's bandwidth by a factor of 3,000. Its debut has been repeatedly delayed, adding to perceptions that Cuban authorities are wary of its power, even though they have already announced it will not be used to deliver private internet access to Cuban homes.

    U.S. officials appear to view communication technology as the key to sparking political change on the island. In a leaked 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable that recently surfaced, the top American official in Havana, Jonathan Farrar, urged the lifting of restrictions on software downloads in Cuba, where Microsoft and other American companies have blocked access to comply with anti-terrorism statutes. Such restrictions, Farrar argued, work "directly against U.S. goals to advance people-to-people interaction."

    Bringing more technology, wrote Farrar at the time, could "help facilitate Iran-style democratic ferment in Cuba."

    By Nick Miroff

    Source: GlobalPost

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  • Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Cuba: Situation created at Havana church as dangerous as Waco

    The church has been surrounded by a tight cordon of police forces.

    A top Cuban church official told CBS News the situation created by a Pentecostal pastor who has barricaded himself along with an unspecified number of followers in his former Havana church is "as dangerous as Waco," the 1993 FBI siege and assault on the "Branch Davidian" sect in Texas.

    The Cuban government on Sunday issued a statement on what it called "the unusual situation" in the Pentecostal Church in Centro Habana. The statement said more than 60 people, including 19 children and four pregnant women, were voluntarily locked in the building on a "spiritual retreat."

    Authorities were able to convince those inside to allow doctors in to check on the pregnant women, the statement said, but expressed concern over their condition should they remain in the church for a prolonged period. The statement also expressed concern for the children who are missing classes.

    The statement was the second news item on state-run television's evening newscast Sunday. It said the Pentecostal Church that had relieved the church's pastor, Braulio Herrera Tito, of his duties.

    The Rev. Marcial Hernandez, President of Cuba's Council of Churches and himself a pastor of an Evangelical Pentecostal Church, says he doesn't know the exact number of people inside with Pastor Braulio, but other sources put the number at 62.

    The building, which houses the Assembly of God Pentecostal Evangelical Church of Cuba, has been surrounded by a tight cordon of police forces since Friday evening. All traffic and including bus routes have been diverted and only those people who can show proof that they live in that area are allowed through police lines.

    Residents of the heavily populated and rundown neighborhood of Centro Habana where the church stands say the pastor told his followers the end of the world is coming and only by locking themselves into the church with him could they be saved.

    The leader of another cult, who did not want to be identified, said that he and his congregation had been allowed to share the space of this church for their activities until two weeks ago when the pastor threw them out. Neighbors reported that large quantities of food and water were taken into the church before the doors were locked from the inside.

    Hernandez says Braulio "regrettably" wandered from the canons set by his church and for the past year disobeyed orders from the National Assembly of Pentecostal Churches to return to doctrine leading to his dismissal.

    Braulio has refused to leave the building, which belongs to the Pentecostal Church from which he was expelled. The National Assembly of Pentecostal Churches took the case to the Cuban courts which ruled in their favor.

    Hernandez took Braulio to task for "not wanting to respect either the laws of his Church or of Cuba." He suggested the man was arbitrarily acting on impulse and because the Pentecostal churches are organized by congregations, Braulio has his followers who he convinced to lock themselves in with him.

    The Council of Churches, Hernandez says, has not had any contact with Braulio, respecting the jurisdiction of the National Assembly of Pentecostal Churches to handle the situation. However, he said the Council would step in if that body asked for help, which it hasn't yet done. He voiced the opinion that Braulio needed psychiatric help.

    All denominations of churches in Cuba have swelled since the economic crisis of the 1990s. The number of evangelicals in Cuba has grown from roughly 70,000 to more than 800,000 today, out of a population of 11 million, according to church sources.

    Analysts say that modern evangelical Christianity with its boisterous music and passionate sermons is more appealing to Cubans, particularly poorer ones, than the more conservative practices of the Catholic Church and traditional Protestant denominations. Santeria and other Afro-Cuban religions also retain a strong hold over the population.
    By Portia Siegelbaum

    Source: CBS

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  • Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Medicare fraud pays for Cuban spy activities against U.S.

    The Communist Cuban dictatorship is draining hundreds of millions of dollars from America's already financially strapped Medicare program and using the money to finance its military and espionage services, according to one counterintelligence expert specializing in Cuban affairs.

    In an exclusive interview with International News Analysis Today, Christopher Simmons not only ties in the Cuban dictatorship with the rampant Medicare fraud, but draws a stunning conclusion about the erosion of American sovereignty in south Florida.

    Simmons is a retired Counterintelligence Special Agent with 28 years service in the Army, Army Reserve, and the Defense Intelligence Agency with a specialty in Cuban intelligence affairs. Simmons was part of the team that identified, arrested, and convicted former Defense Intelligence Agency senior analyst, Ana Belen Montes, Cuba's highest-ranking spy captured to date. Simmons has appeared on radio and television, and has given testimony before committees of Congress.

    Cuban Government As Criminal Enterprise

    Medicare fraud usually involves money billed for treatment or services never rendered. Most Medicare fraud in the U.S. occurs in southern Florida, and the majority of the fraud perpetrators flee to Cuba. Law enforcement officials publically state, however, that there is no proof of a connection between Medicare fraud and Cuba.
    Ana Belen Montes, 1990.
    Simmons pointedly disagrees and does see a clear connection.

    "There is a huge difference between proof and evidence," observed Simmons.

    "The Cuban government has been a criminal enterprise for 50 years, and has never been reluctant to engage in crime to make money," Simmons declared. Havana has a 50 year history of involvement in breaking international law, from drug trafficking to selling U.S. secrets, Simmons said. He reasons that expansion into a relatively simple scheme as Medicare fraud would be easy for the Communist state.

    The Communist Cuban government's wide experience in breaking U.S. and international laws provides "proof of capability and intent" and a "pattern of behavior," Simmons asserted.

    In seven out of ten cases, he said, the perpetrators are Cuban-born individuals who have come to the United States since the 1990s and who flee back to Cuba when law enforcement uncover their fraudulent activities. In Cuba, they enjoy every available comfort in return for funneling millions of dollars to the Cuban government.

    A report issued by the University of Miami cites statements by a former high-level Cuban intelligence officer indicating that the Cuban government is either directing or assisting the perpetrators to obtain much needed hard currency.

    Cuban Official Claims 'Ludicrous'

    Cuba officially disclaims any knowledge of either the fraud in south Florida or the presence on the island of the perpetrators of the fraud.

    Describing as "ludicrous" Havana's claims of ignorance of the crimes or the criminals. Simmons told INA Today that the newly returned Cuban exiles would have at the very least attracted the attention of members of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, a block-by-block organization of Cuban citizen informers whose job it is to watch other Cuban citizens and report everything they see. Simmons estimates that one out of ten Cubans work for the CDR.

    Simmons' ratio of informers to citizen is corroborated by what we know about the conditions in the now-defunct Communist East German dictatorship. As many as one in six East Germans were informers for the Ministry for State Security, the feared Stasi secret police.

    A returning Cuban exile living the good life in the tropical gulag that is Cuba would certainly attract the attention of the CDR spies across the island.

    Fraud Pays for Espionage

    Based on his knowledge of previous Cuban government criminal schemes, Simmons stated that a large part of the Medicare fraud profits go directly to support Cuba's vast foreign and domestic spy network and the military.

    The United States is Cuba's only important enemy.

    The money taken during Cuba's Medicare fraud scheme has returned to south Florida in the person of well-financed intelligence personnel. Simmons stated that from 150 to 200 Cuban intelligence officers are active in south Florida, vastly outnumbering U.S. spy catchers.
    Carmen Kaeren González, suspected to be in Cuba

    U.S. counterespionage efforts in south Florida are also impeded by the demands of the U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Simmons explained that counterintelligence personnel, because of their experience and training, are often deployed to the Iraq and Afghanistan, because they capable of operating both as intelligence officers — those who seek to obtain restricted or secret information — and in their intended role of counterintelligence personnel — spy catchers.

    Florida as 'Denied' Area — Like North Korea

    As many as 70% of Cuba's spies operate in south Florida, and the limited number of U.S. counterintelligence personnel available in the region spells potential disaster for the United States.

    America's resources available in the struggle against Cuban intelligence are so thin that Simmons regards south Florida as a "denied area," an intelligence designation indicating a place where U.S. intelligence operations "are either difficult or impossible."

    Examples of other "denied areas" are North Korea and Iran, said Simmons

    The FBI and other law enforcement agencies have scored impressive victories against Cuban intelligence services, among them the destruction of the Wasp Network in 1998 and the arrest of Ana Belen Montes in 2001.

    There is much more to do to protect Americas against Cuban espionage activities, but Cuba has become to many influential Americans a politically correct subject. Within the U.S. policy elite there is often a discernible pro-Cuban element.

    The U.S. pro-Cuban lobby includes in its ranks U.S. politicians, Hollywood stars, and think tank experts who regularly support Communist Cuba's agenda.

    Silence also aids the Cuban dictatorship. Little or nothing is ever said in the U.S. media — liberal or conservative — about the struggles of pro-freedom activists in Cuba who face regular beatings and imprisonment.

    Communist Cuba exists because of the relentless oppression carried out by its ruthless secret police for the benefit of the military and the Communist Party. Medicare fraud is just one more crime to add to the many perpetrated against the U.S. and the people of Cuba.

    By Toby Westerman

    Source: RenewAmerica

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  • Friday, September 9, 2011

    Protesters arrested at Cuban religious procession

    Members of the Ladies in White where also arrested and released hours later.

    A religious procession in Havana was marred by the arrests of at least six anti-government protesters on Thursday when they held up signs and shouted slogans against political repression.

    The incident was the latest in a spate of small demonstrations in Havana that have drawn attention from groups overseas who oppose Cuba’s communist government and say the protests reflect growing popular unrest.

    Police closed in quickly to forcibly detain the dissidents, then put them in police cars and drove them away.

    The incident occurred as thousands of people walked through central Havana in the annual procession for Our Lady of Charity, the patron saint of Cuba.

    The processions were banned after Cuba’s 1959 revolution, but re-established after the 1998 visit of Pope John Paul II.

    The detentions attracted bystanders, some of whom complained about the dissidents and others who criticized the police action, but none of whom joined in the protest.

    Down with Fidel,” said one of the onlookers, referring to former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

    “The Cuban people are children of Our Lady of Charity and we are not going to allow these people to show such disrespect,” said another, Maria Gonzalez, who wore a yellow T-shirt, the traditional color of the Lady of Charity.

    The Catholic Church on Monday denounced recent rough treatment of dissidents, including the Ladies in White, Cuba’s best-known opposition group, but said the government assured it that it had not ordered the attacks.

    Cuba, which considers dissidents to be mercenaries for its longtime ideological foe the United States, accused the Ladies in White in a state television report on Thursday of trying to provoke disorder “to justify aggressions” against the country.

    Source: UpdatedNews

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  • Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Castro sics dogs on flower-carrying women

    Among the bravest and most persistent protesters against dictatorial regimes have been, for years, the Ladies in White of Cuba. With Fidel presumably sidelined, his brother Raul carries on the brutish family tradition of crushing dissent, as seen in his attacks against this non-violent group.

    Ladies in White members are comprised of relatives of caged political prisoners, as well as unyielding Cuban human-rights activists. For an ongoing account of what they have to endure while much of the world – including America – now largely ignores the victims of this ruthless "Revolution," read the account below:

    On Aug. 7, 20 Ladies in White bearing flowers (never weapons) began their march on the streets of the city of Santiago de Cuba after leaving its cathedral.

    Government-organized mobs battered the women and pushed them into buses headed for an unknown destination. More of these hoodlums, also assembled by the Ministry of the Interior, also beat up Ladies in White that day in the city of Palmarito del Cauto. ("Activists With Fractures Are Hospitalized After Brutal Attack," Aug. 7,

    For their "disloyalty" to the Castro regime, six Ladies in White and other human-rights dissidents were hospitalized. And dig this if you have been led to believe that Cuba's rulers have been "humanized" in recent years:

    "By orders of the political police, doctors refused to provide these wounded activists with a medical certificate, which they need in order to accuse Cuban authorities of the violence perpetrated against them." (Raul seems to be becoming more meticulous in denying charges of cruelty.)

    Trapped in Castro's gulag and lived to tell about it – check out Armando Valladares' story of 20 years under dictator's thumb: Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulag

    One of the few U.S. newspapers still covering the Stalinist beat in Cuba is the Miami Herald ("Cuban dissidents say cops again beat women,", Aug. 16). These violently enforced gag rules "marked the fourth weekend in a row that authorities have used physical force and even violence to break up the women's attempt to establish their right to protest in eastern Cuba."

    And this is how utterly insistent on squashing dissent the Castro administration remains after all these bloody decades, as reported by the Miami Herald:

    "Police also detained another seven Ladies in White supporters before they could get to the cathedral (in Santiago), including three who tried to sneak out of their homes around 2 a.m. in hopes of evading the security forces," said Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, a recently freed political prisoner. "One of the women fainted when confronted with a police guard dog."

    Is Raul Castro, shown enlisting combative dogs, becoming insecure?

    Another rare U.S. news source staying on the Castro brothers' revolutionary crusade against free speech is the Wall Street Journal ("On Cuba's Capital Steps," Aug. 27). The week before, there were four Cubans "who took to the steps of the Capitol in Havana ... chanting 'liberty' for 40 minutes" – until dragged into patrol cars by uniformed Castro state security thugs.

    One of them, Sara Marta Fonseca – a member of Cuba's Rosa Parks Feminist Movement for Civil Rights – in a telephone interview with Diario de Cuba, a Spain-based online newspaper, said she was pleased with the results of her arrest "because she heard the crowd crying 'abuser, leave them alone, they are peaceful and they are telling the truth.'"

    Fonseca explained: "I am very happy because in spite of being beaten and dragged, we could see that the people were ready to join us."

    However, she does admit: "Realistically, we do not have the strength and the power to defeat the dictatorship. The strength and the power are to be found in the unity of the people. In this we put all our faith, in that this people will cross the barrier of fear and join the opposition to reclaim freedom."

    These Cuban forces of freedom, however, will continue to get no support from, gosh, the American Library Association (ALA), despite its mantra "The Freedom to Read." The ALA resolutely will not condemn the Castros' attacks on Cuban independent librarians.

    Because I've long reported on this shame of the ALA, the world's largest organization of librarians – by contrast with library associations in other countries rebuking Cuba – I've been scorned by Eliades Costa, the director of the Cuban National Library, where biographies of Martin Luther King Jr. are banned.

    Said Costa: "What does Mr. Hentoff know of the real Cuba?"

    My public answer (The Friends of Cuban Libraries, "Defenders of Intellectual Freedom," Aug. 28, 2011): "I know that if I were a Cuban, I'd be in prison."

    I also damn well know that I'm right about the ALA's silence on Castro courts ordering the burning of books seized from arrested Cuban independent librarians – and that these raids continue. From Friends of Cuban Libraries late-breaking news section, on April 9: "Jose Ramon Rivera, the director of an independent library in Pinar del Rio Province, complains that a State Security major named Rafael and two police agents entered his house at #655 Garmendia St. and, without showing a warrant, took away four boxes of books."

    Now hear this: On April 30, in New York, ALA activist Rhonda Neugebauer, when asked why in 20 years of visits to Cuba she hasn't been able to find any censorship of books, said: "The question does not deserve an answer."

    Fortunately, Americans still find public libraries essential. Next time you're in one, ask the librarian to insist that the American Library Association help Cubans gain their right of freedom to read by speaking the truth about the Castros!

    And why has so much of our online, print and electronic media let the ALA get away with this naked hypocrisy? I can only imagine that the smiling Castro brothers approve of the august ALA's silence.

    by Nat Hentoff

    Source: WND

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  • Sunday, September 4, 2011

    Cuba: 5 Billion Barrels of Undiscovered Oil

    Companies looking for oil in Cuban waters. (Courtesy of Jorge R. Piñon, click on the picture to enlarge)

    US delegates head to Cuba to discuss deepwater ambitions.

    Oil spill commission co-chief Bill Reilly is heading to Cuba next week to help evaluate that country’s plans for developing its oil resources, Dow Jones Newswires has learned.

    The trip represents an important development in a thorny situation that has U.S. lawmakers raising concerns about potential oil spills and oil experts pressing the Obama administration to grant exemptions under the decades-long embargo.

    The trip, which will involve a delegation of U.S. oil-drilling experts and environmentalists, coincides with Cuba’s effort to develop its offshore oil resources as a way to wean itself off imports from Venezuela. U.S. officials believe Cuba’s waters could contain more than 5 billion barrels of undiscovered oil.

    Cuba’s efforts to tap its offshore oil will get off the ground later this year, when a consortium led by Spanish company Repsol YPF S.A. (REPYY, REP.MC) is expected to begin drilling a well in more than 5,500 feet of water off the country’s northern coast. If Repsol finds oil, it could touch off a quick-moving race to set up production in Cuban waters.

    The delegation to Cuba, involving the International Association of Drilling Contractors and the Environmental Defense Fund, is on a fact-finding mission to determine the country’s long-term plans for pursuing its oil resources and identify steps to ensure safety and environmental protection. They’re scheduled to depart Monday.

    The process of oil drilling in thousands of feet of water is “inherently risky,” said Daniel Whittle, Cuba program director at the Environmental Defense Fund and a member of the delegation. “We believe it’s imperative that if and when Cuba drills, they get it right.”

    Reilly, as co-head of President Barack Obama’s oil-spill commission, helped to draft a report earlier this year that recommended U.S. officials work with Cuba and Mexico to develop shared standards for drilling in the Gulf. The oil-spill commission ceased operations in March after completing its work.

    Cuba’s effort to promote drilling in its waters is presenting a thorny situation for U.S. lawmakers, regulators and companies.

    Among the loudest critics of Cuba’s plans are Gulf Coast lawmakers who are raising questions about the country’s ability to respond to oil spills and the risks of crude oil washing on U.S. shores. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Florida Republican whose district faces the Gulf of Mexico, introduced a bill earlier this year to allow the Interior Secretary to deny U.S. oil exploration and development leases to companies that do business with Cuba.

    “The United States is not going to see a drop of that oil,” said Max Goodman, a spokesman for Buchanan. “And we have learned from Deepwater Horizon that an oil spill can devastate a regional economy and pose long-term damage to our natural resources.”

    Repsol will be drilling in waters that are deeper than those in which the Deepwater Horizon rig operated at the time it exploded last year. Repsol will be using a Chinese-built drilling rig that only recently left Singapore for Cuban waters. The rig is expected to arrive in November or December.

    The rig, known as Scarabeo 9, was built to conform with the U.S. embargo and Repsol has said it will be following U.S. safety standards, Repsol representative Kristian Rix said.

    “We are confident that we have the right personnel and materials to drill safely and successfully in the area,” Rix said.

    If oil is discovered, Cuba has a greater chance of becoming less dependent on Venezuela for its energy needs. In 2009, the country produced roughly 50,000 barrels of oil a day from onshore and coastal wells, relying on imports to supply an additional 130,000 barrels to meet consumption levels, according to the Energy Information Administration.

    Given the risks of an oil spill, oil and natural gas experts are urging the Obama administration to grant exemptions under the embargo to allow U.S. companies and experts to respond to a disaster. U.S. companies, such as Helix Energy Solutions, have been particularly aggressive in developing oil spill containment systems in the wake of the BP Plc (BP, BP.LN) spill.

    Allowing U.S. companies and experts to respond to a Cuban spill would be in the U.S.’s best interest, given the proximity of the drilling to U.S. shores, said Jorge Pinon, former president of Amoco Oil Latin America and visiting research fellow at Florida International University.

    “There is an experienced company doing the work [in Cuba]” Pinon said. “What we’re lacking is, in the case of an emergency, Repsol and the other operators will not be able to access the resources” in the U.S.

    By Tennille Tracy
    Source: gCaptain

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  • Friday, September 2, 2011

    Cuba's brave "Ladies in White"

    The Ladies in White walk in 5ta Avenida, Miramar, Havana, the last Sunday 28. Photo Roberto Guerra, Hablemos Press.

    Raul Castro, Cuba's successor to brother Fidel, has recently unleashed his thugs on women peacefully protesting Cuban human rights abuses. The brutal attacks completely undermine Mr. Castro's attempt to appear moderate and will set back his carefully cultivated relationship with the European Union. Ultimately it could lead to a popular uprising.

    The attacks are unconscionable, and betray a realistic fear that the Cuban public is fed up with Castroism and only lacks a spark to rise up against the geriatric dictatorship. The Cuban women's protest movement could supply that needed spark.

    Members and supporters of the "Ladies in White" human rights movement attempting to assemble for protests after church services in Santiago de Cuba have been physically attacked by Cuban government agents every Sunday from July 24 through Aug. 28.

    The women are expected to exercise their right of peaceful protest again this Sunday.

    But don't expect eyewitness reports from the foreign press in Cuba. They are being kept away.

    The most detailed account of the beatings is a report by the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights on what happened Sunday, Aug. 7, in the vicinity of Santiago. It said state security officials and "Castro supporters" attacked women assembling for a protest march using "sticks and other blunt objects" causing "injuries, some considerable," according to The Wall Street Journal.

    The women were forcibly taken by bus to the city outskirts and forced to walk back.

    When some attempted another protest march the same afternoon they were again attacked.

    Government bullies also broke into two homes of recently freed political activists who refused to be sent into exile as a condition of their freedom. The wife and daughter of former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer and four other people were sent to the hospital with contusions and broken bones, the Federation report said.

    According to Cuban dissidents, similar harassments, arrests, beatings and home invasions have been experienced by demonstrators on each of the past six Sundays.

    In Havana on Aug. 18, a government-inspired mob punched, slapped and kicked members of a Ladies in White march, spit on them, pulled their hair and ripped clothes. Several of the 42 marchers reported bruises, according to their spokeswoman, Berta Soler, who spoke with the Miami Herald.

    The Ladies in White harassed by the mob last August the 18th.

    The government tactics could quickly backfire. On Aug. 23, a crowd of Cubans gathered in front of the steps of the capitol building in Havana was recorded on video as it booed, hissed and insulted government agents forcibly dragging away four women protesters.

    One of the women, Sara Marta Fonseca, a member of the Rosa Parks Feminist Movement for Civil Rights, told a Spanish newspaper her hope is that "people will cross the barrier of fear and join the opposition to reclaim freedom."

    Thanks to the Ladies in White and their supporters, the Cuban people are one step closer to realizing that hope.

    Source: The Post and Courier

    Cuba's "Ladies in White" ask Church to help stop violence


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  • Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Report: Hezbollah opens base in Cuba

    Hezbollah flag.

    Shiite terror group to use operations center to launch attack on Israeli target in South America, Italian newspaper reports.

    Hezbollah has established a center of operations in Cuba in order to expand its terrorist activity and facilitate an attack on an Israeli target in South America, Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported.

    According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the attack is meant to avenge the death of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah. The organization alleges that Israel was behind his 2008 assassination.

    According to the report, three Hezbollah members have already arrived in Cuba with the purpose of establishing a terrorist cell there. The cell is to include 23 operatives, hand-picked by Talal Hamia, a senior member tasked with heading the covert operation

    The operation, titled "The Caribbean Case," was reportedly allocated a budget of $1.5 million. The Cuba base is to be initially used for logistics purposes, including intelligence collection, networking and document forgery.

    Hezbollah has been active in South America for quite some time now, primarily in Paraguay, Brazil and Venezuela, the report notes.

    Source: Ynetnews

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