Tuesday, September 21, 2010

LPP News...


"Oscar's Cuba" Screening in Congress

Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Cuba's revolving door for political prisoners
Setting the record straight through the story of one of Cuba's most prominent political prisoners: Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet
We invite you to join us on Wednesday, September 22nd from 12:00pm to 1:00pm in 2253 Rayburn as we host the 14th annual Cuba Day on the Hill. This year we will be accompanied by filmmaker Jordan Allott. Jordan directed the new documentary Oscar's Cuba. It is an unflinching and honest look at Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet who has been imprisoned since 2003 for his beliefs. Jordan will also lead a discussion and answer any questions on Dr. Biscet and the larger context of all those imprisoned in Castro's gulag. As we hear voices calling for a softer gentler relationship with Cuba, we must not be blind to the reality that Dr. Biscet and others face day-in and day-out. Cuba not only imprisons those who simply disagree with the regime, but they force into exile those they release in order manipulate public opinion.

Sincerely,

Hon. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Hon. Lincoln Diaz-Balart
Hon. Mario Diaz-Balart
Hon. Albio Sires
Hon. Dan Burton
Hon. Connie Mack
Hon. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Hon. Mike Pence
Hon. Eliot Engel
Hon. Shelley Berkley
Hon. Theodore E. Deutch
Hon. Gus M. Bilirakis
Hon. Steven R. Rothman
Hon. Christopher H. Smith
Hon. Edward R. Royce
Hon. Joe Wilson
Hon. Vern Buchanan
Hon. Alcee L. Hastings
Hon. Kendrick B. Meek
Hon. Ron Klein

Cuba Loses Another Great Talent

Monday, September 20, 2010
There are those that build and those that destroy.

Unfortunately, those that destroy remain in power in Cuba. Meanwhile, we've just lost one of the greatest that builds.

Last week, Ysrael A. Seinuk passed away in New York.

Seinuk, a worldwide authority on the design and construction of high-rise concrete and steel buildings, was a native of Cuba and a graduate of the University of Havana before going into exile in 1960.

Amongst his most notable New York projects are the Trump World Tower, Bear Stearns World Headquarters, Time Warner Centre at Columbus Circle, Trump's Riverside South apartments, the New York Mercantile Exchange, Four Time Square, 515 Park Avenue, the "Lipstick" Building, Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, the Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium in Flushing Meadows, 7 World Trade Center, The Galleria and the landmark 450 Lexington Avenue.

And those were just his New York projects. From Mexico City to Dubai, his work remains a testament to his unique talent.

Yet, Cuba always remained prominently in his heart.

During a 2005 interview with the BBC, Seinuk was asked:

If you had the opportunity to return to Cuba tomorrow and were free to build something, what type of building would you erect and where?

His answer:

"Well, the key word in your question is freedom. Assuming things would take a normal path, towards democracy, I would go to Cuba even if it were to only build a small hut."


May he rest in peace.

LPP Archive...

Venezuela oil 'may double Saudi Arabia'

An oil pump in Venezuela
Venezuela holds the largest oil reserves outside the Middle East
A new US assessment of Venezuela's oil reserves could give the country double the supplies of Saudi Arabia.

Scientists working for the US Geological Survey say Venezuela's Orinoco belt region holds twice as much petroleum as previously thought.
The geologists estimate the area could yield more than 500bn barrels of crude oil.
This assessment is far more optimistic than even the best case scenario put forward by President Hugo Chavez.
The USGS team gave a mean estimate of 513bn barrels of "technically recoverable" oil in the Orinoco belt.
Chris Schenk of the USGS said the estimate was based on oil recovery rates of 40% to 45%.
Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), Venezuela's state oil company, has not commented on the news.
However, Venezuelan oil geologist and former PDVSA board member Gustavo Coronel was sceptical.
"I doubt the recovery factor could go much higher than 25% and much of that oil would not be economic to produce", he told Associated Press news agency.
Venezuela holds the largest oil reserves of any Opec country outside the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has proven reserves of 260bn barrels.
S:BBC News

Venezuela ...

Venezuela officially veto Ambassador Larry Palmer
Ambassador in Washington sent a note to the Department of State (AP)
  
EL UNIVERSAL
Tuesday September 21, 2010  12:00 AM
 
Washington .- The Government of Venezuela on Friday sent a note to the State Department, which officially informed its refusal to accept Larry Palmer as U.S. ambassador in Caracas.

"Venezuela rejects U.S. candidate for the statements he made in a hearing before the Foreign Relations Committee U.S. Senate in which he said that the morale of the Venezuelan military was" fairly low, particularly due to targeted political appointments' " , prayed the diplomatic note, as Telesur.

Venezuela's ambassador in Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, confirmed yesterday the information and added that his government is open to the United States "send another candidate to be considered by Venezuela."

On Friday, Venezuela also called for U.S. cooperation in the case of the Venezuelan Raul Diaz, who fled to America where he requested political asylum. Diaz was sentenced for his involvement in the attacks against the Embassy of Spain and the Consulate of Colombia in Caracas in 2003. 
s: eluniversal.com / Front Line LPPNEWS results



A Change of Course in Cuba and Venezuela?

STRATFOR has a prominent analytical piece on Cuba and Venezuela’s economic and security interdependence, and their relations with the United States in its Geopolitical Weekly column written by the company’s founder and CEO George Friedman:
Strange statements are coming out of Cuba these days. Fidel Castro, in the course of a five-hour interview in late August, reportedly told Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Julia Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relations that “the Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.”
Once that statement hit the headlines, Castro backtracked. Dressed in military uniform for the first time in four years (which we suspect was his way of signaling that he was not abandoning the revolution), he delivered a rare, 35-minute speech Sept. 3 to students at the University of Havana. In addition to spending several minutes on STRATFOR’s Iran analysis, Castro addressed his earlier statement on the Cuban model, saying he was “accurately quoted but misinterpreted” and suggesting that the economic model doesn’t work anymore but that the revolution lives on.
Castro, now 84, may be old, but he still seems to have his wits about him. We don’t know whether he was grossly misinterpreted by the reporter during the earlier interview, was acknowledging the futility of the Cuban model and/or was dropping hints of a policy shift. Regardless of what he did or did not say, Castro’s reported statement on the weakness of the revolution was by no means revolutionary.
Read the rest of this entry »
The transportation division of hotel chain corporation Gaviota (managed by Cuba’s Armed Forces Ministry—MINFAR) is also reducing its labor force by laying off 153 drivers, who are retired military. [CUBANET] (H/T @emilioichikawa)
20 September 2010 at 1538 by Armando F. Mastrapa 3d | No comments
Mark Galeotti, academic chairman of NYU’s Center for Global Affairs and an expert in transnational organized crime, wrote an article on organized crime in Cuba entitled “Forward to the Past: Organized Crime and Cuba’s History, Present and Future,” for the journal Trends in Organized Crime (Volume 9, Number 3, 45-60).
Take notice of Galeotti’s point on the effect of a regime collapse:
Cuba is also beginning to suffer from both domestic drug abuse and the first indications of organized criminality at home. This is very limited compared with the strength of Cuban-American organized crime in the United States, but does open up the prospect of these groups exploiting any weaknesses in Cuba to reestablish operations on the island. Although it is possible that the revolutionary regime might survive Castro, at the very least it will experience a turbulent transition, one in which power politics will divert attention from the problem of growing crime. Were the Cuban Communist Party to fall, either to a democratic revolution or a military coup, then either way this would probably generate increased domestic organized crime and open up the country even more rapidly to international criminal influences. Perhaps the final tragedy of the revolutionary regime, born out of a rejection of authoritarian rule and rampant organized crime, is that it will have proven to lay the foundations for an even more dynamic and voracious criminalization of Cuba.
His analysis also includes Cuba’s trafficking nexus, criminal market, and offshore criminal zone.
Galeotti’s aptly describes the future of criminalization on the island:
Castro’s death could open up Cuba once again to become a “free criminal zone,” run either by corrupted descendants of the present regime or a new, post-revolutionary one. This could have a far more dangerous impact on the United States. Just as during the Cold War, the island’s proximity meant that it was regarded as a potential military and ideological beachhead for communist in the Western hemisphere, so to the presence of a criminalized Cuba could represent a serious law-enforcement and security challenge.
[...]
Almost any scenario for the future carries with it severe dangers. It may collapse and be replaced by a democratizing regime—while a welcome development, this is likely to mean a rapid and uncontrolled marketization, throwing open great opportunities for organized crime.
S: CUBAPOLIDATA

September 21, 2010

Cabrisas, a top minister, goes to China

Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, Vice President of the Council of Ministers, (rcr2) will visit China from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, at the invitation of the Chinese government, the news agency Xinhua reported from Beijing.
The two-sentence announcement contained no specifics.
Cabrisas was elevated to the Council of Ministers in October 2008 to oversee and coordinate the work of the ministries of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment.
The latest senior Cuban official to visit China was Interior Minister Abelardo Colomé Ibarra. See our blog items "China to advise Cuba on law enforcement..." (Aug. 31) and "Security and law-enforcement cooperation are topics..." (Aug. 30)
Posted by Renato Perez at 08:35 AM in Personalities, The World
Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. views on Havana and Hanoi compared

"Twenty years passed between the end of the war in Vietnam and establishment of normal relations by President Bill Clinton. [...] (fot) Yet today we are Vietnam's largest export market, a major source of foreign investment and second only to China as a source of tourists," writes John McAuliff in The Huffington Post.
In contrast, "we have carried a grudge against Cuba for five decades, insisting that even the potential of change in our relationship requires first modification in their form of governance and domestic acts like the release of political prisoners."
"Cuba has called our bluff," writes McAuliff, executive director of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development. "It has begun release of all its 150 prisoners considered by international human rights agencies to be political."
It is time for the Obama administration "to undo restrictions on non-tourist travel by Americans that were imposed by [President Bush] in 2004," restrictions that affect "travel for educational, cultural, humanitarian, dialogue, professional exchange, religious or humanitarian purposes," McAuliff concludes.
Expanded travel, he says, "is the most likely inducement to real reform within Cuba, as it was within Vietnam." To read his argument in full, click here.
[RELATED STORY: Advocates of easing restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba have not given up on legislation this year, Representative Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Reuters news service. Click here.]
S:Cuban Colada

LPP Latest News...

FBI overstepped terror link probes after 9/11

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The FBI overstepped its authority in investigating left-wing domestic groups after the September 11, 2001 attacks and then misled Congress about its actions, an inspector general's report has said.
The report said the FBI improperly used the cover of "terrorism" to investigate a number of domestic activist groups from 2001 to 2006 including Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the pacifist Thomas Merton Center.
The Justice Department inspector general's report, requested by Congress four years ago, said the FBI classified these investigations as "domestic terrorism cases" but had little to back this up.
It said this was based on "potential crimes" including trespassing and vandalism "that could alternatively have been classified differently."
The report also said the FBI "made false and misleading statements to Congress" about the investigations including surveillance of an anti-war rally, and said that the agency should review whether "administrative or other action is warranted" for this.
The inspector general concluded that these were a number of specific cases rather than a bureau-wide policy.
"The evidence did not indicate that the FBI targeted any of the groups for investigation on the basis of their First Amendment activities" or expressed political beliefs, the report said.
"We concluded that in several cases, the FBI predication was factually weak and in several cases, there was little indication of any possible federal crime as opposed to local crime."
It said that the FBI went to observe a 2002 protest by the Merton Center, a group based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that says it is dedicated to peace and social justice.
"We found no evidence that the assignment was made pursuant to a particular investigation or in response to any information suggesting that any particular terrorism subject might be present at the rally," the inspector general stated.
"The FBI stated in a press response and (FBI) Director (Robert) Mueller stated in congressional testimony that the FBI's surveillance at the event was based on specific information from an ongoing investigation and conducted to identify a particular individual. These statements were not true."
The American Civil Liberties Union said the report showed the FBI "improperly spied on American activists involved in First Amendment-protected activities and mischaracterized nonviolent civil disobedience as terrorism."
ACLU policy counsel Michael German said the FBI "has a long history of abusing its national security surveillance powers, reaching back to the smear campaign waged by the American government against Dr Martin Luther King."
He added that "we are all in danger of being spied on and added to terrorist watch lists for doing nothing more than attending a rally or holding up a sign."
FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said however that the lengthy review "did not uncover even a single instance where the FBI targeted any group or any individual based on the exercise of a First Amendment right."
Bresson added that the report "disagreed with a handful of the FBI's investigative determinations over the course of six years, (but) it has not recommended any significant modifications to the FBI's authority to investigate criminal conduct or national security threats."

Cuba summons workers to explain coming layoffs

**  ADDS PLACE WHERE WORKERS PREPARE SANDWICHS  ** Workers prepare sandwichs  at a snack bar in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010. After the annou AP – ** ADDS PLACE WHERE WORKERS PREPARE SANDWICHS ** Workers prepare sandwichs at a snack bar in Havana, …
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HAVANA – Cuba is calling workers across the island to special meetings so labor leaders can brief them on half a million government layoffs coming in the next six months and suggest ways that those fired can make a living.
The "workers' assemblies" that began on Sept. 15 include hundreds of meetings with state employees in union halls, government auditoriums and even basements or garages of state-run companies, according to reports Monday in the state-run labor union newspaper Trabajadores.
The proceedings are closed and attendees so far have been tight-lipped about what is being discussed. But Salvador Valdes Mesa, head of the nearly 3 million-member Cuban Workers Confederation, said they are designed to tell workers about "the labor policies that will govern the country in order to achieve the structural changes the economy needs."
"We are confronting the need to make our economy more efficient, better organize production, increase worker productivity and identify the reserves we have," Valdes Mesa was quoted as telling a weekend gathering of transportation and port employees.
Two separate stories in Trabajadores, or Workers, quoted Mesa Valdes at a conference in Havana as well as addressing a similar group of state employees in the eastern province of Holguin, making it tough to tell where exactly his quotes were made.
Cuba announced Sept. 13 that it would lay off 500,000 workers by March and loosen state controls on private enterprise so that many of those fired can find new jobs. It said it would also beef up the tax code and revamp state pay scales to better reward high job performance.
President Raul Castro warned in April that as many as 1 million Cuban state employees — a fifth of a total island work force of 5.1 million — may be superfluous. In a subsequent speech in August, he warned job cuts were coming.
Trabjadores quoted Valdes Mesa as saying that "a political process of reflection and analysis with the workers in the assemblies is already under way to study and debate" past Raul Castro speeches, including the one in August.
During such meetings, Cuban workers generally are asked to endorse what reforms the government plans — sometimes there are votes by cheers and sometimes by a show of hands.
For example, state employees gathered in special meetings in 2008 to discuss a parliamentary proposal to raise Cuba's retirement age, and officially 99.1 percent of attendees supported the measure.
In this case, employee layoffs will be supported by some of the very Cubans who may lose their jobs.
The president has not commented publicly since the reforms were announced, though he has said authorities have no intention of abandoning the socialist state they spent decades building.
Instead, preparing workers for what's to come has fallen to Valdes Mesa's union, which is allied with the Communist Party and the only one the government allows.
Some of the meetings include just a few employees from a single office. Others involve hundreds from a whole city neighborhood.
An internal Communist Party document detailing the unprecedented overhaul envisions a radically reshaped economy, freshly legalized private cooperatives and a state payroll trimmed of many idle or unproductive workers.
The document says many laid-off workers will be urged to form private cooperatives. Others will go to work for foreign-run companies or set up their own small businesses in fields such as transportation, food and house rental.
Already, 144,000 Cubans work for themselves and 823,000 overall are part of the private sector, though that includes vast farm cooperatives run in accord with state administrative decisions. The government still employs the other 84 percent of the official work force.
Government workers take home an average of about $20 per month, though the state provides free education and health care and subsidizes housing, utilities, transportation and food. The layoffs will affect all corners of the government except those considered "indispensable."

CUBA | Letter to MEP 'popular' Carlos Iturgaiz...

Payá 's opposition joins calls for no change in the common position

Oswaldo Payá (c) muestra el premio del Parlamento Europeo en 2002. | ApOswaldo Payá ( c ) shows the award of the European Parliament in 2002. | Ap
The European Union should not change the Common position with Cuba because it "supports the rights and peaceful change themselves Cubans want and need and we make ourselves. " This  is the message that the activist José Payá Olwaldo Sarina has been transmitted through a letter to MEP 'popular' Carlos Iturgaiz, Who will read the letter in a statement to the plenary on Monday.
The Common Position is a work of the Aznar government document in 1996 that  calls for democratic transition and encourages dialogue with dissidents .
The Cuban dissident , leader of the Christian Liberation Movement and in 2002 received the Sakharov Prize Freedom of Conscience for the European Parliament says the EU should support civic initiatives , such as your ' Varela Project ', "Being consistent with the common position . "
Week one was a group of former Cuban political prisoners who asked the European Parliament to the EU do not listen to the Spanish Government, although he had contributed to their liberation.
Sarina Payá reiterated in his letter that the people of Cuba want changes, entered peacefully into a new stage of life , and remember that such changes are not made by decree. " But we need to respect for civil and political rights of citizens who have  free and democratic elections , there is freedom of expression and association, freedom to travel, work and participate in life economic, political and cultural life , without exception , "he adds .
Opposition leader in 2010 was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize,  says that " changes are lacking rights and those rights in Cuba. " In the text acknowledges that the EU target is to improve the process transition to pluralist democracy and respect for rights human rights and freedoms , but insists that the transition will be peaceful " if the present regime were itself to initiate or permit such a process. "
Spain is committed to overcome this common position replaced by a bilateral relationship conducive to dialogue with all sectors of society Cuban dissidents including , without renouncing to require democratization of the island.
The next Council of Foreign Ministers of the EU, which held in October, could be on the agenda continued debate on relations with Cuba , which has been postponed several times ,  said earlier this month the EU high representative , Catherine Ashton, Efe reported .
S: Office elmundo.es / Front Line LPPNEWS results
The UN Summit will hear today on Iran , Venezuela and Cuba

United Nations , Sep 21 ( EFE ) .- The UN Summit today celebrates the second day of discussions on the Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs ), with the most important interventions in Iran , Venezuela and Cuba.
Leaders around the world participate in this summit convened by the United Nations from 20 to 22 September to review and expedite implementation of the commitments made ten years ago to among other objectives , to eradicate extreme poverty and seek innovative solutions to development aid .
Beyond the Summit is also held Tuesday a meeting of the Middle East Quartet , comprising the United States , United Nations, European Union and Russia , to address the ongoing direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
The speech of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Of particular interest to the United Nations after the international community last June impose a fourth round of sanctions on Tehran for continuing to pursue its nuclear program , which they suspect could lead to use clandestine military .
Admadineyad recently invited the U.S. president , Barack Obama, to a direct encounter in the framework of the UN to discuss nuclear dispute , but has not yet been an official response from Washington.
The intervention of the Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro is also one of the most anticipated in the absence of the president, Hugo Chavez, who decided to stay at home while campaigning for next Sunday's parliamentary elections , considered a test for the Bolivarian socialist project .
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, shall represent their country in this summit which is also the Head of State , Raul Castro , who rarely attend international meetings.
The president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, announced Monday he will not go to the UN and instead will Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Samuel Santos.
Interventions planned for today also those of Russia, Germany , Afghanistan and Haiti.
On Monday in New York held a special meeting on the reconstruction of Haiti, which was attended by UN special envoy , Bill Clinton, and a dozen foreign ministers to assess the financial assistance to the country devastated by the earthquake of January.
MDG Summit precedes the annual debate of the UN General Assembly from 23 to 30 September, which brings together heads of state and government and foreign ministers of 192 countries, and serves as a framework to discuss current international events.
The UN Summit will hear today on Iran , Venezuela and Cuba
F: Agencies / LPPNEWS results