Thursday, August 19, 2010

LPP Top News...

Is Repsol-Spain-Cuba Another BP-Scotland-Libya?

Thursday, August 19, 2010
Ros-Lehtinen: Is Repsol-Spain-Cuba Another BP-Scotland-Libya?

Considers reports of new Repsol deal as two more Cuban political prisoners arrive in Spain
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today questioned if Spain's interest in helping the Spanish oil company Repsol to profit from doing business with the Cuban regime is behind the Spanish government's recent actions involving the Cuban regime and relating to its policy toward Cuba.

Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

"With Spain's Repsol already drilling for oil off the Cuban coast, I am concerned that a desire to help sweeten big-money deals between Repsol and the Cuban regime could be influencing the Spanish government's policy toward Cuba.

We've seen before how corporate considerations can lead to bad policy moves. BP has admitted that it lobbied the British government for the transfer of Lockerbie bomber Megrahi from Scotland to Libya. I think most of us would be unable to keep a straight face if someone suggested that BP's $900 million contract to explore Libya's oil reserves had nothing to do with the horrendous decision to release Megrahi.

Similarly, one can't help but wonder if Spain's role in negotiating and facilitating the release and forced departure of a small number of Cuban prisoners of conscience, which was a superficial public relations coup for the regime, curried Spanish interests a lot of favor in Havana.
Two more political prisoners arrived in Spain today, bringing the number of prisoners sent to Spain under this deal with the Cuban dictatorship to 25. One of the 25 said just this week that 'I think we have been freed because the regime needs to clean up its image internationally.'

Spain came to Cuba's aid when the regime desperately needed to 'clean up its image,' particularly after the tragic death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo. One can't help but wonder whether Repsol will be making a few extra bucks as a result."

Note: Repsol began drilling off of the Cuban coast in 2004. According to news reports, Cuba has current plans to drill seven exploratory wells, at least one of which is expected to be drilled by Repsol.

Is the Obama Administration Listening, Pt. 2?

Earlier this week, three Cuban political prisoners banished to Spain sent the international community an important message.

Today, two more banished political prisoners sent the exact same message.

Is anyone listening?
According to the AFP:

Two more political prisoners from Cuba arrived in Spain on Thursday, where they accused the island's communist government of harassing the mother of a dissident who died in a hunger strike.

Herrera and Acosta charged Castro's regime had been harassing [Orlando] Zapata's mother, Reina Luisa Tamayo, since his death.

"They won't allow her to walk to church ... to pray for her son," Herrera said.

"That's why we call on the world, the European Union, and the community of democratic nations to speak out against this outrage, this barbarism."

Tamayo told Spain's Europa Press news agency she had only been able to visit her son's grave four times as security services had prevented her "by force" from leaving her home.

Both the journalists also accused Havana of using the release of dissidents to hide the repression of its opponents.

"No one should hope that the Castros are going to make changes," said Herrera.

"The regime will remain the same, corrupt and military," added Prieto.

He said the release of dissidents was merely aimed "easing international pressure" on the regime.

August 18, 2010

CNN looks at Cuba's Muslim community

There are about 1,500 Muslims in Cuba but no mosques, CNN's Shasta Darlington reports from Havana. That is why, every Friday, Pedro Lazo Torres – known to fellow Muslims as Imam Yahya (fot2) – welcomes people for prayer in his second-floor apartment.
The women sit inside, on the living room floor, while the men kneel on the balcony.
Most Muslims in Cuba are college students from countries like Pakistan and Indonesia, CNN notes. Three students from Guyana were recently among Lazo's visitors.
Many Muslim countries have offered to donate the money for a mosque, but Lazo would like the gesture to come from the Cuban government, CNN says. Cuba inaugurated its first Russian Orthodox church in 2008.
"I think we could see something similar for Muslims in the near future," Lazo said.
For an interesting look at a religious aspect of Cuba, click here for the CNN article and accompanying video.
Posted by Renato Perez at 02:22 PM in Religion
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Ex-inmates are being lodged at Madrid spa to placate complaints about original hostel

The complaints voiced by several Cuban ex-prisoners about the austere lodgings provided by the Spanish government seem to have worked, the daily El Mundo reported Wednesday.
(pic1) The three most recently arrived émigrés – Efrén Fernández, Regis Iglesias, Marcelo Cano – and their 18 relatives are being housed at the Spa La Princesa, a three-star hotel in Móstoles, 7 miles southwest of Madrid, where the cheapest room costs 61 euros (78 dollars) a day.
The Spanish Red Cross arranged the new accommodations.
Cubans who had arrived in Madrid earlier had complained that the hostel assigned to them did not provide enough creature comforts and gave them no privacy.
Three more ex-inmates are scheduled to arrive in Madrid Thursday or Friday and presumably will also be lodged at the Spa La Princesa.
To read more about the spa, click here for its website. For a report from the Spanish daily ABC, click here.
[UPDATE: Spain has given shelter to 136 relatives of the 23 Cubans released from prison, says Europa Press, citing diplomatic sources. One ex-inmate and his seven relatives have moved to Chile since the migration began.]
Posted by Renato Perez at 10:51 AM in Dissidents, human rights, The World
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S: Cuban Colada 

Cuban dissidents arrive new to Madrid, denouncing repression

By: Agency | Source : AP | 2010-08-19
  • Llegan nuevos disidentes cubanos a Madrid; denuncian represión
    Photo : EFE
Source : AP

Fabio Prieto and Juan Carlos Herrera , two more dissidents Cubans landed in Madrid , so the amount to 25 expatriate prisoners to Spain denounced the government crackdown Raul Castro

MADRID ,  Spain , ago. 19, 2010 .- Two new Cuban dissidents arrived this Madrid Thursday denounced a government crackdown Raul Castro against the island's internal opposition .
Those released are Fabio Prieto and Juan Carlos Herrera, who landed  in the Spanish capital accompanied by about 16 relatives . With its arrival , rise to 25 expatriate prisoners to Spain , almost half of the 52 that Havana promised to release under According to the Catholic Church on the island.
Herrera said he has unleashed a " cycle of violence "against dissidents in Cuba since the beginning of the releases in July. In  particular, reported the case of Reina Luisa Tamayo, who, according to Herrera,  is continually harassed by the mere fact of trying to visit every Sunday the tomb of his son.
Tamayo is the mother of Orlando Zapata dissident , jailed in 2003 and  died last February after a prolonged hunger strike. The Tuesday , Amnesty International called on the authorities to treat  to stop the "harassment "to Tamayo.
"There is a spiral of violence and repression against many dissidents, who are detained continuously, " said Herrera. "With Castro will not  democracy, there will be nothing . "
" Dictatorship is deceased and it is time to sign her death certificate , "he added .
In the same vein , Prieto recalled the case of Tamayo and stated that alleged economic opening that has been talking about will not help nothing, if not accompanied by political changes. In this regard , requested  not alleviate the international pressure on Cuba in order not to Castro's government .
" The system remains closed , corrupt and military , "said Prieto. "I feel a mixture of joy and sadness to be free , because Cuba has not changed anything. "
Both Herrera and Prieto , along with their families, were transferred Red Cross at a hotel in the Madrid suburb of Mostoles , where  live temporarily to resolve their legal status.
The families of some of the first 20 dissidents who came to in Spain in July and remain lodged in the hotel received  his two new teammates shouting " Viva Cuba libre! " .
"We are treated like terrorists , when our only crime is defend freedom and human rights , "said Herrera. "We been tortured. It is state terrorism that is in our homeland. "
The two released , which have spent more than seven years in prison after be condemned in Cuba, are part of the list of six dissidents whose release was announced by the Cuban church last Friday.
Three Marcelo Cano Rodríguez, Regis Fernandez Efren Fernandez Iglesias Ramírez arrived in Madrid on Tuesday. While it is expected that  Juan Adolfo Fernández landing on Friday , completing the second phase of releases .
Once complete, will be 26 Cuban prisoners released and expatriates in Spain between July and August under agreement between the Cuban government and the Church of the island.
In total, more than 150 people are accommodated in the European country , including dissidents and relatives.
The release , which agreed to leave Cuba and travel to Spain, add half the group of 52 dissidents who promised to Havana release . All are part of the " Group of 75 " convicted in 2003 on charges of receiving money and guidance foreign governments , especially the United States to undermine the revolution.
The first 20 dissidents arrived in mid-July. Some remain in the Spanish capital, but the three social organizations  in charge of hosting and maintenance have begun to place them in different cities.
One of them, José Ubaldo Izquierdo , moved to Chile.
Some of the dissidents have expressed their willingness emigrate to the United States. This is the case of Arturo Pérez de Alejo , who explained that she has a visa in order to travel to Miami to meet with  his family within 15 days .
Moreover, six of the former prisoners have hired services of a law firm to seek political asylum , and considering that the crimes for which they were tried and sentenced make them prisoners of conscience.
In principle , the Spanish government is offering all status assisted international protection , a figure that gives them access  a residence permit and work in Spain, but that does not recognize as political refugees.
S: Noticiero Televisa / translate LPPNEWS Front Line

Human Rights / Enforcement...

Dissidents reported harassment on the streets of Cuba

 Reina Luisa Tamayo reported that tens of Communist government supporters will arrive on Sunday to prevent cemetery where her son is buried Orlando Zapata , an opponent died in February after 85 days of hunger strike to demand better conditions of detention.

Caracas, August 18 / El Universal / Cuba continued releasing this week to half a hundred political prisoners , but keeps the pressure on dissidents expressing their discontent in the streets island, opponents said Wednesday .
Reina Luisa Tamayo reported that dozens of government supporters Communist Sunday prevent it from reaching the cemetery where Orlando Zapata buried his son , an opponent dead in February after 85 day hunger strike to demand better prison conditions, Reuters noted .
Amnesty International called this week the government of President Raúl Castro to end the harassment of women of 61 years.
"What bothers the regime is that we go to church and then to cry out three times íZapata Vive! . Why? Because they  know who killed him , "Tamayo said by telephone from Banes , about 800 kilometers east of Havana.
" Everywhere we go we are persecuted by the State Security and the police, " he added.
Zapata 's death triggered international criticism against Cuba.
The pressure fell after President Raul Castro promised the Catholic Church in July it would release 52 imprisoned dissidents . In this  group, 23 were released on condition they leave to  Spain. Three more would follow in his footsteps in the coming hours.
Castro described it as an act of generosity and said that Cuba still sees dissidents as "counter "in the service United States its enemy .
"No one should be deceived . The defense of our sacred conquests  our streets and plazas, will remain the primary duty of revolutionaries who can not be deprived of that right, " said August 1st president to Parliament.
And according to the dissidents , that's what seems to be happening in Banes .
A video posted on YouTube by  the Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez shows how police and supporters Government block the passage of Tamayo and other women dressed white when addressing a church and cemetery.
"Reina Luisa Tamayo is simply paying tribute to his son died in tragic circumstances and that should be respected by authorities, "said Kerrie Howard, deputy director of Amnesty International for the Americas, in a statement.
Elizardo Sanchez of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights , talks about increased " police muscle . "
"We are in the midst of a true metamorphosis in proceedings  of political repression. Before it was basically prison sentences. Now  are short-term detentions , acts of repudiation, and other threats forms of harassment, " he said.
Sanchez said , for example, that many opponents were arrested on Monday following a peaceful protest on the steps the University of Havana, a symbolic place where the leader revolutionary Fidel Castro delivered his first speeches in the 1950s.
"They're accused of public disorder , which did not. Them only read a statement and shouted a few slogans , "said activist.
S: / Front Line LPPNEWS simultaneous translation

Negotiation and Change in Cuba...

By Rafael Rojas - Tribuna - El Pais - Spain
RafaelRojas-zThe  conversations between the Cuban government , the Catholic Church and Spanish Foreign Ministry gave an important result , which should not underestimated: the promise of peaceful liberation of 52 opponents , arrested in the spring of 2003. Although so far it has come less than half in the coming weeks should be vacated 75  activists expanding civil and political rights , unfair and " summarily " sentenced to up to 28 years for crimes expression and association. The value of that amnesty should not be lowered in understandable through the discomfort of an opposition, a diaspora and international community for such releases , accompanied by exiles, are insufficient.  The  release of 75 is also important because it reveals the injustice of those processes and laws that allowed . As much as Raul Castro regime and advertisers opponents insist that these were not prosecuted for their ideas but because they are "agents" of a foreign power , who worked for the  "Overthrow" of the insular government , the records of the trials themselves against them , several of them available on the Internet, deny . None of the dissidents was part of the apparatus U.S. intelligence , or send secret information about the Cuban state, or practicing any form of subversion or violent change in Cuba.

Uncritical advocates of the system also emphasize that those dissidents received money from Washington and  one of the Cuban security agents infiltrated one states  to confiscate  who came to around $ 100,000 , which is not from the records available. Imagine that each of the 75 and had $ 2,000 and the figure exceeds the officers claiming  counterintelligence . The sum is ridiculous as a budget band of " mercenaries " and " terrorists "who , under the orders of the House White conspired to "destroy the Revolution " and annex Cuba to the USA.
Amnesty, generally understood as a gesture of goodwill towards the Church or search for a change in European and American policy toward the island , has a eigenvalue : to highlight the legal structure totalitarian Cuban socialism. In nature, the 52 opponents may  testifying before international public opinion on arbitrary processes that were submitted and the conditions in that must survive a political prisoner in Cuban jails . That structure, by which a citizen who defends peaceful otraidea  Government can be tried and punished as " enemies of the fatherland " not a defensive mechanism or a response to any aggression , but a rationally adopted the institutional system to concentrate and preserve  power.
But even if the amnesty is understood as negotiation is not without value. For half a century, Cuban leaders have acted as subjects that do not trade because never wrong or because their problems are the responsibility of others. Holders of all truth and all the reasons, these leaders have accustomed to the exercise of exuberant pride , which relations with Cuba amounts to bless his social system or affirm the  goodness of the regime.

The fact that after 50 years as follow concerned about the legitimacy is evidence of the fragile institutions and of the totalitarian nature of Cuban socialism.
The government of Raul Castro took over the migration talks with the United States in which they are traded more issues than immigration , and , through the mediation of Church, just negotiated with the Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, with the European Union and, of course , also in Washington,  to relax the travel of U.S. citizens to Cuba.
The scheme has been negotiated by despair, interest or both, without denying that negotiation or accompany the usual waste of intransigence. insular citizenship has not been duly informed the negotiating process and as compensation has received ideological reappearance of an apocalyptic Fidel Castro.
What is willing to offer such Government in its negotiation is before they do in the accumulation of economic, political and social Cuba. Only release of 52 and , perhaps, of some political prisoners . Nothing related with its own promises of " structural and conceptual changes "and expectations of reform that has a majority of Cubans.

However, the offer of free all political prisoners not involved in violence , reiterated by the president of the National Assembly , Ricardo Alarcon , no  should be neglected. The release of all peaceful opposition prison is not the first step towards democratic transition , but is an act of justice.
As we saw in the last sessions National Assembly , the Cuban inertia manifests itself as fear certain words. Since the nineties, the power elite stigmatized  the term "transition "because, from the experiences of Europe East and Latin America, had been incorporated into language Washington. Now it's the same with the word "reform." Minister  Economy , Marino Murillo , said it most clearly : "You can not talk about reform. " However, the " updates "or "adjustments" State 's economy that Raul Castro , trying to amend the ambivalence of his early years in Government , presented as " structural and conceptual changes "promised and not go beyond permit self-employment or self employment .
But "structural change "under any theoretical paradigm , it means conversion of a structure and  economic structure , let alone of politics- system Cuba relies on state control . If no change in that principle , why then speak of "structural changes" . It evident that Raul Castro rhetorical formula that attempted to create a expectation of reforms that would allow the current lead negotiation, without committing to the implementation of any reform . By it now says that " structural change " means the opposite : keep intact the economic structure of the system.
The partners of Raul Castro the Church in Spain, Europe and the United States , who want democratic transition, should limit their expectations while negotiate. An ongoing negotiation may be the best way to pass the limited supply of Havana , if not endorse the immobility. The leadership seems determined to remain unchanged until the death of Fidel , but to be seen whether the citizenship of the island  and the diaspora, one's opponents and reformers within the permit system .
Tuesday, August 17, 2010 7:12 
S: La Nueva Cuba _ The first independent Cuban newspaper  in the Internet / translate LPPNEWS Front Line

BP accused of withholding 'critical' spill data

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WASHINGTON – The company that owned the oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico is accusing BP of withholding critical evidence needed to investigate the cause of the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, according to a confidential document obtained by The Associated Press.
The new complaint by Transocean follows similar complaints by U.S. lawmakers about difficulties obtaining necessary information from BP in their investigations.
In a sternly worded letter to BP's attorneys, Transocean said the oil giant has in its sole possession information key to identifying the cause "of the tragic loss of eleven lives and the pollution in the Gulf of Mexico."
BP's refusal to turn over the documents has hampered Transocean's investigation and hindered what it has been able to tell families of the dead and state and federal investigators about the accident, the letter said.
BP and Transocean appear likely to face off in court over how much each should pay out for the tragedy. Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon, the rig that exploded and sank, killing 11 workers and unleashing millions of gallons of oil. BP was the operator and majority owner of the well.
BP spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford said Transocean's accusations were misleading and misguided.
"We have been at the forefront of cooperating with various investigations commissioned by the U. S. government and others into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy," Ashford said. "Our commitment to cooperate with these investigations has been and remains unequivocal and steadfast."
In other spill developments Thursday:
_The U.S. government said the final plugging of BP's blown-out Gulf well will begin sometime after Labor Day. First, engineers plan a potentially risky maneuver to replace a massive failed piece of equipment on the sea floor. The equipment, called a blowout preventer, is a prime source of interest for investigators. BP senior vice Kent Wells said the company will preserve it intact so it can be analyzed by the government.
"Clearly, I think all of us want to absolutely understand what the root causes are of this," Wells said.
_A new scientific study provided the first conclusive evidence of an underwater plume from the BP spill, and researchers said it could take months for the oil to break down.
In the dispute over documents, Transocean said that BP released limited records only after the company agreed to sign a confidentiality agreement at BP's request.
"This is troubling, both in light of BP's frequently stated public commitment to openness and a fair investigation, and because it appears that BP is withholding evidence in an attempt to prevent any entity other than BP from investigating the cause of the April 20 incident and the resulting spill," the letter said.
Copies of the letter were also sent to government agencies, commissions and lawmakers investigating the spill's cause.
Aides for some of those lawmakers told the AP on Thursday that they, too, have had trouble obtaining information from BP.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee had a "stare down" with BP over some of the data it was seeking, said Bill Wicker, a spokesman for committee chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.
BP requested that congressional staffers sign a nondisclosure agreement. The committee refused, telling the company that it would send all BP's information back. Since then, BP has been forthcoming with data, Wicker said.
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass, chair of the House's energy and environment subcommittee, said his staff has also had difficulty "prying information" out of BP.
"I am not surprised Transocean — which may end up in litigation against BP in the future — is encountering similar difficulties," Markey said.
Markey said it was important that Congress, the presidential commission investigating the accident, and the public have full access to the information.
BP's outgoing chief executive, Tony Hayward, personally assured the presidential commission of full cooperation, said David Cohen, a spokesman for the commission. The panel recently received new information from the company and is now reviewing whether it matches what they asked for.
President Barack Obama warned months ago that companies involved in the accident needed to work together and with the government on the investigation, saying: "I will not tolerate more finger-pointing or irresponsibility."
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government's point man on the Gulf oil spill, told the AP during a conference call with reporters Thursday that he was not aware of Transocean's letter and could not comment on it.
Asked if BP has withheld any information vital to the government, Allen said, "None that I am aware of."
According to Transocean, BP has rebuffed at least seven of its requests for information. And while BP has turned over some documents, it has not provided Transocean with any information since June 21, and has not even acknowledged the company's requests since August 3, the letter said.
Transocean said that the limited information it has retrieved from BP came only after the company reluctantly signed a confidentiality agreement.
"Despite our reservations, we agreed to BP's condition of secrecy because there is no other source of key well data," the letter said.
Transocean wants 16 pieces of technical information from BP, including pressure tests, logs and other data.
Weber reported from New Orleans.