Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cuba wants churches' help in stopping corruption

A person holds a palm frond bended into the shape of a cross 
during Palm Sunday mass at the Cathedral in Havana, Sunday, March 28, 
2010. Palm Sunday c AP – A person holds a palm frond bended into the shape of a cross during Palm Sunday mass at the Cathedral …
HAVANACuba's Communist Party is asking the island's churches and religious associations to help it stamp out the small-time corruption, petty theft and apathy that plague daily life, state media reported Friday. President Raul Castro and other top officials met privately with non-Catholic religious leaders this week, imploring them to back the government's announced efforts to crack down on graft and inefficiency. "Together we should broaden what we do so that all of us Cubans become better, more honest, principled workers," said Caridad Diego, the Communist Party's head of religious affairs. Cubans get free health care and education, as well as heavily subsidized food, housing, utilities and transportation, but the government controls well over 90 percent of the economy and pays employees an average of about $20 per month. Salaries are so low that absenteeism is common, and there is little incentive to excel at work. Many state workers steal food, office supplies and all manner of other goods and sell them on the black market. "We have a responsibility to keep working for respect and legality, to allow Cuban believers to be part of our efforts against vagrancy, lazy people, corrupt activities or those who facilitate social indiscipline, corruption," Diego said. She addressed her remarks Tuesday to Protestant and Jewish elders as well as top priests of Santeria, which mixes Roman Catholicism with the traditional African Yoruba faith and is Cuba's most-followed religion. A transcript of the speech was published Friday in the Communist Party newspaper Granma, which did not specify exactly what kind of help the government is asking of the leaders. The event was held on the 20th anniversary of Fidel Castro's 1990 meeting with religious leaders, after which he began to soften his government's hard-line stance against religion. Two years later, Cuba removed references to atheism from its constitution and allowed believers of all faiths to become members of the Communist Party.

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US: air services shouldn't pay Cuba legal judgment

MIAMI – Declaring U.S.-to-Cuba charter flights a vital national interest, the Justice Department is opposing a Cuban-American woman's attempt to make air charter companies pay a $27 million judgment she won against Cuba's communist government. The woman, Ana Margarita Martinez, was awarded the money in 2001 after claiming in a lawsuit that she was tricked into marrying a Cuban spy so he could infiltrate Miami's large exile community. In an attempt to satisfy the judgment, her lawyers sought earlier this year to collect fees that eight air charter companies pay to Cuban tour companies for permission to land there. The charter companies asked a federal judge to intervene, and late Wednesday the Justice Department filed papers siding with the companies. Chief U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno, who has not yet issued a final decision, had asked for the U.S. position. The U.S. filing concludes that Martinez has no legal right to the fees and that the charter services are key to U.S. goals of easing family travel between the two countries, improving the flow of information across the Florida Straits and promoting such things as religious, artistic and sporting events and exchanges. "The direct flights they provide are vital for maintaining contacts that are in the national interest," Ricardo Zuniga, the State Department's acting coordinator for Cuban affairs, said in an affidavit. "A disruption in licensed air charter service would cause serious harm to U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba." The Justice Department filing also carefully notes that its position "in no way condones the acts of the Cuban government or its agents" that triggered Martinez's lawsuit. Martinez has collected about $200,000 in frozen Cuban assets in the U.S. but continues to push for the full $27 million. She has repeatedly said her goal is not to halt travel between the two countries. Martinez, a public relations consultant in Miami, said she met Juan Pablo Roque at church in 1992, and he became a father figure to her young children during the four years they were together — at one point even offering to adopt them before he returned to the island in 1996. Roque claimed he had defected from Cuba but was later accused by U.S. authorities of being part of a large spy ring. The Cuban government never responded to Martinez's allegations. Its policy is to ignore lawsuits brought in U.S. courts. Roque left Miami just after the Cuban military in 1996 shot down planes flown by Brothers to the Rescue, a Cuban exile group that dropped pro-democracy pamphlets over the island and assisted Cuban migrants attempting to reach U.S. shores. Four members of the group were killed.

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Cuba flights now part of WestJet flight schedule

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WestJet began regularly scheduled service to Cuba from Toronto on Thursday. The Canadian low-cost carrier, of course, has been in the news this week for its apparent codeshare alliance waffling between Delta and Southwest.  Previously, the WestJet offered only charter service to Cuba. WestJet will operate regularly scheduled flights from Toronto Pearson to the Cuban destinations of Varadero, Cayo Coco and Holguin.
"The response to our WestJet Vacations' charters has been tremendous," Hugh Dunleavy, WestJet EVP of Strategy and Planning, says in a press release. "Now, by offering scheduled service to Cuba, our guests can book a flight directly on, through their preferred travel agent or by calling our Sales Super Centre."
RELATED POST: Low-cost feud brewing? Southwest responds to WestJet/Delta rumors
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Pruebas de la conexión de "Saturno" (Cuba) con ETA y Chávez
Pese a que Putin negó en Caracas que haya pruebas de una colaboración entre 
Venezuela y ETA, el juez Grande Marlaska halló nuevos datos de la conexión
etarra con Chávez y los Castro.
3 de abril de 2010

Marlaska acusa al abogado Agudo Mancisidor de ser el enlace con los etarras en Venezuela y Cuba. 
 El juez de la Audiencia Nacional ha ordenado el ingreso en prisión incondicional de Joseba Agudo Mancisidor, abogado habitual de miembros de ETA, al que acusa de ser el enlace entre la cúpula terrorista y los etarras "refugiados" en países como
Cuba -denominada por la banda terrorista
como "Saturno"-, Venezuela, Cabo Verde, México, Suiza, Portugal y Bélgica.

El magistrado le imputó a instancias de la Fiscalía un delito de integración en
organización terrorista tras tomarle declaración en la sede de la Audiencia Nacional.
Agudo Mancisidor fue detenido en octubre pasado en Hendaya, al sur de Francia,

país que lo entregó a España el jueves.

Todas las acusaciones que pesan sobre él se desprende de la información incautada
al que fuera máximo dirigente de ETA, Francisco Javier López Peña,
alias "Thierry", arrestado en Burdeos (Francia) el 20 de mayo de 2008.
Entre los documentos, los agentes encontraron una "comunicación orgánica",
fechada en febrero de 2008, y remitida a los órganos de dirección de ETA
por Agudo Mancisidor, quien emplea el alias "Pagoa".

Los documentos demuestran el amplio conocimiento y control que
Agudo Mancisidor tiene sobre los etarras que se encuentran fuera
de España y Francia. En los escritos incautados, el detenido informa
a la banda de la situación de los etarras establecidos en Cabo Verde,
Suiza y Cuba. Sobre el país caribeño, el abogado señala que ha tenido
que posponer un viaje previsto en febrero de 2008 a "Saturno",
nombre en clave empleado para referirse a Cuba, atendiendo a una
petición realizada por el Gobierno de ese país. El viaje se realizó finalmente
en la primera quincena del mes de abril. Agudo Mancisidor también dice
estar al corriente de la situación de José Luís Tellechea, miembro de ETA
establecido en Portugal.

Repatriación de un etarra fallecido

Los papeles de "Thierry" también revelaron que el detenido estuvo en
Cabo Verde entre los días 21 y 27 de enero de 2008, haciéndose cargo,
entre otros asuntos, de los trámites necesarios para la repatriación
del cadáver de Endika Iztueta, etarra fallecido en el país africano
el día 24 de ese mismo mes.

El juez Grande-Marlaska también acusa a Agudo Mancisidor de ejercer
de enlace con los etarras afincados en Venezuela, país que aparece
codificado en las comunicaciones etarras como "Urano". De hecho,
el arrestado viajó hasta ocho veces al país sudamericano entre los años 2006 y 2009.

En otros de los documentos encontrados en la operación de Burdeos,
se acusa a Agudo Mancisidor de haber provocado la detención del etarra
Miguel María Ibáñez Oteiza, que tuvo lugar el 9 de enero de 2007
en el aeropuerto Charles De Gaulle de París cuando el terrorista aterrizaba
procedente de Uruguay. El auto de la comunicación indica que el abogado
no realizó su trabajo de manera correcta ya que no informó a Ibáñez Oteiza
de que tenía causas pendientes por las que podía ser detenido.

Grande-Marlaska argumenta su decisión de enviar a Agudo Mancisidor a
prisión en la gravedad de los hechos objeto de imputación, la potencialidad
de los indicios racionales de criminalidad y el riesgo de fuga. La causa se mantiene
bajo secreto