Thursday, October 14, 2010

12 families remain in hotel...

Former Cuban political prisoners denounced the conditions in which they live in Spain

MADRID, 14 Oct.

Ex-prisoners Cuban political and Norman Victor Arroyo Orlando Hernandez reported  the situation where dissidents are reached Spain after the last release, the result of dialogue between the Church  Catholic and the Government of Cuba.
Arroyo, who arrived on September 8 after seven years prison, said at least 12 families still living in the hostel  Wellington to Madrid where they receive medical attention needed, since many of the dissidents have traveled together with  sick people.
"The situation since we have not been fully that expected. Here we have presented many difficulties and not just real, in my opinion are made because the situation has been assessed  each of the prisoners and their families, "said Arroyo Speaking to Europa Press.
In particular, the opposition denounced the conditions in which finds his own family. "My son in diabetic and since we arrived being injected with insulin we brought from Cuba, my daughter is pregnant and about to give birth, no one has seen, attention health has been bad, "he said.
In the same vein, Hernandez, who also remains locked in the said hostel since arriving on July 23, referred to economic problems faced by former political prisoners. "The only resources they receive are of Red Cross and other NGOs such as the Commission  Spanish Refugee Aid (CEAR), we only cover three meals  day per person and accommodation, "he said.
"Today for instance my daughter is in school and has no Bus tickets to travel to the center, which caused the Last week I had to leave several days of school, " Hernández.
Both Arroyo and Hernandez stressed that those released to  in better conditions "are those who have been housed in transitional apartments with kitchen and bathroom, where you can make life family. Meanwhile, others remain in "collective story" where share space with strangers.
Both former political prisoners also referred to the "limbo" legal found in their arrival, because, first, the Cuban government has not yet provided them the document that certifies his release and, second, have not been recognized as asylum seekers  Spain politicians.
"A Cuban authorities could see we asked three  occasions on which conditions were leaving Cuba. We said a colonel who told us we went to a medical parole and that the Government did not provide any documents, he left everything in a question mark, " Arroyo recalled.
The medical parole, said Hernandez, "is a legal trap in Cuba because it only allows people to leave the country a year, two at most and can only be extended on two occasions and for medical reasons. "
While awaiting the arrival of this document, most 39 former political prisoners who have arrived in Spain since releases began last July have applied for political asylum, but have not yet received a response.
"At this point we withdrew the passport and handed us a card. We are waiting to see what happens, "said Arroyo, who explained that "until we decided our legal status, from the point of view of political refugees have no right to employment, so that  we leave the situation where we are. "
Asked about this issue, Hernandez said: "We do not grant political asylum because it would recognize that Cuba has political prisoners, who are human rights violations. " Thus, referred as a last resort to the granting of immigration visas United States that would allow him to reside in this country with his mother.
In total, 21 of the opposition released that have reached Peninsula have requested the visa with the aim of moving there permanently. So far there have been addressed some, although they have been interrogated about their interests in U.S. Embassy in Madrid.
S: EuropaPress / translate LPPNEWS FrontLine Results

October 14, 2010

Mother of late dissident says she and her family have been offered exile to the U.S.

The Cuban government, through the Catholic Church, has offered Reina Luisa Tamayo to (fot)let her leave permanently for the United States with her husband and four children, the woman told El Nuevo Herald on Thursday.
Tamayo is the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died last February after a long hunger strike in prison. She is active in the opposition group Ladies in White.
"I always asked them to let my children leave, but now the offer is for the entire family to leave," Tamayo told a Nuevo Herald reporter. "But I have told them that I'm not leaving the country until I receive my son Orlando's bones or ashes."
She said she received the offer Thursday morning from Msgr. Ramón Suárez Polcari of the Havana Archdiocese. Other members of the opposition received similar offers, she said. Her statements could not be immediately confirmed.
To read the Nuevo Herald report, in Spanish, click here.
Posted by Renato Perez at 05:28 PM
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S: Cuban Colada 

LPP Archive...

Havana Destination "Americans? The world's most expensive Flight

miami-la-habana-wThe  groups call for end to U.S. embargo on Cuba showed welcomed this week by a little legislative progress could  represents a major change in relations between the two countries. The  Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives reported  vote on a bill Wednesday that would allow Americans travel freely to the island for the first time since 1962 and  that would end restrictions on agricultural exports. Many  in this announcement have been the last chance to soften sanctions on Cuba before the Republicans, most supporters of But the Democrats, are made with the parliamentary majority November as polls indicate. Also occurs at a time  growing voices calling Washington a gesture of rapprochement with the Havana in response to the recent release of jailed dissidents and  opening to private.
A passenger flight from Miami to Havana, separated only by 144 miles, you must pay about $ 400 more than what it would cost for a flight to New York, more than 1,700 km (a distance about 12 times higher), or Los Angeles,  more than 3,700 km (a distance 25 times greater).

Counsel based in Washington, Tony Martinez, author of the influential United blog States-Cuba Policy & Business calling for an end to the embargo, believes that There are chances of success even though it is little Congress time to complete the session.

If you pass the vote on Wednesday, the text would still have to receive the approval of the full House of Representatives and Senate.
"The committee chairman Affairs, Howard Berman (Democrat) had said that only submit the  law to vote if it had a chance to win, "he told BBC World  Martinez, adding that, however, more than half of the 47 Commission members received donations from lobby though.
But not all the money travels in the same direction. Agriculture and tourism industries U.S. that would clearly benefit from the measure, have intensified their  lobbying campaign.
U.S. would record agricultural sales Additional up to $ 365 million, according to Texas University A & M, if this measure is approved, at a time when the country seeks promote job creation through an increase in exports.
The sale of agricultural products to the island was authorized in 2000, but payments must be make cash and in advance, or through a bank in a third country.
"It is unfortunate that an American can travel to any country except Cuba, which is only 144 kilometers"
Tony Martinez, author of the blog U.S. Cuba Policy and Business.
In addition,  surveys indicate that the rejection of the embargo between U.S. amounts to over 70%, higher than any other time, and for the first time Cubans are not the majority of South Florida  supporting it.

"It is unfortunate that an American can  travel to any country except Cuba, which is only 144 kilometers, "Martinez said." This policy of isolation and blockade Economic growth has been a failure that has hurt both countries. "
President Barack Obama took 2009 some measures to ease the embargo. Raised restrictions on travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens Cuban origin and with relatives on the island, and removed the limit on the sending remittances to Haiti.
See also: Cuban Dissidents support travel and trade with Cuba
A new competitor
Supporters of continuing the embargo argue that U.S. Cuba should not strengthen the money from tourists.
Professor of History University of Miami, Jaime Suchlicki, believes that any smoothing would be a unilateral concession.
"Cuba has not taken any step towards democracy, "Suchlicki told the BBC." prisoners who have banished were innocent and the dismissal of half a million workers is not a change enough to the market economy. "
Recently, the Cuban government estimated at U.S. $ 751,000 million for damage caused by the sanctions in  economy from 1961 to December 2009.
The opening of Cuba to visitors Americans would be a major economic boost for island, as noted Suchlicki, harm to other countries Caribbean region.
"Puerto Rico, Jamaica or even state of Florida are concerned about how they would be affected by the into play a new competitor, "he says." Tourists New York or California could change their vacation plans Miami and Havana. "
S: La Nueva Cuba / translate LPPNEWS FrontLine Results

Heavy rains hit Cuba as Hurricane Paula approaches

Students in Pinar del Rio cover themselves from the rain  
Rain heralded Paula's imminent arrival in Cuba
People in Cuba are on alert as Hurricane Paula nears the island, bringing heavy rainfall. 

At 0500GMT, Paula was 50km (30 miles) north-west of the western tip of Cuba, the US National Hurricane Center said.
The hurricane, with winds of up to 130km/h (80mph), is weakening and Cuban officials said their main concern was prolonged rain.
Paula headed towards Cuba after brushing Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula with strong winds and downpours.
Cuba's civil defence authorities put people living in the western Pinar del Rio province on alert for Paula, which is set to be the first hurricane to hit the island during this year's hurricane season.
The country's chief meteorologist, Jose Rubiera, said the hurricane was expected to weaken.
"The rains at times could be strong or intense in some areas of Pinar del Rio, but the truth is they shouldn't be that strong," he told the Associated Press.
"They could be prolonged, however, and that could lead to heavy accumulation."
Paula, which at one point intensified to a category-two storm with winds of up to 160km/h (100 mph), came close to Mexico's Yucatan peninsula but did not cause any damage.
The storm also brought strong winds and heavy rain to north-east Honduras, where some 19 houses were damaged.
Mexico and Central America have been hit by a series of floods and landslides in recent weeks, with thousands of people left homeless.
S:BBC News

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cuba frees 17th journalist jailed in Black Spring

New York, October 12, 2010 -- Cuban journalist Alfredo Felipe Fuentes, left, was freed from prison on Friday and exiled to Spain as part of a July agreement between the Havana government and the Catholic Church. Seventeen journalists jailed in the 2003 Black Spring crackdown have now been freed and exiled as part of the agreement. "I feel as if I was born again, trying to get used to cell phones, personal computers and emails, all things that were barely known in Cuba before I was jailed," Fuentes told CPJ in a telephone interview.

Fuentes said that he never wanted to leave Cuba, but seven years of incarceration made it too hard to stay. "It was a difficult decision, but even more difficult was to turn down the offer and remain in jail," he explained.

Fuentes, a freelance reporter originally based in the city of Artemisa, began serving a 26-year prison term in March 2003. He arrived in Madrid shortly after noon on Friday, accompanied by ten members of his family.

In July, the Catholic Church brokered an agreement with Cuban authorities to release 52 political prisoners who were arrested seven years ago, during a massive government crackdown on political dissent and independent journalism. Spanish government officials also participated in the talks.

All 17 of the reporters released so far have been immediately flown to Spain. (One has since relocated to Chile.)

Three journalists arrested in the 2003 crackdown remain in jail, along with another journalist imprisoned at a later time, CPJ research shows. The first three--including CPJ awardee Héctor Maseda--have already expressed their desire to stay in Cuba upon release, the reporters' families told CPJ.

A story published in September by the Madrid-based daily El País quoted Spanish officials as saying that imprisoned reporters who want to stay in Cuba upon release will be freed through a parole program. The Cuban government has not confirmed the existence of such a program.

Below is a capsule report on Fuentes' case from CPJ's annual census of jailed journalists, conducted in December 2009.

Alfredo Felipe Fuentes, freelance
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003

Fuentes, an economist by training, began working for the Cuban independent press in 1991. On March 19, 2003, he was arrested after a raid on his home in the city of Artemisa. The next month, the freelance reporter was convicted of violating Article 91 of the Cuban penal code, which imposes harsh penalties for acting against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." A judge in western Havana province handed him a 26-year prison sentence.

The 60-year-old journalist was being held at the maximum-security Guanajay Prison, his wife, Loyda Valdés González, told CPJ. Valdés González, who is allowed to visit her husband only once every 45 days, said conditions at Guanajay were better than those at other prisons where he had been held. Due to his severe back problems, the reporter did not share a cell with other prisoners. Valdés González said her husband suffered from chronic gastritis that caused him to lose significant amounts of weight.

Valdés González told CPJ that in December 2007, her husband presented an appeal to Cuba's Supreme Tribunal Court. Because Cuban authorities denied Fuentes access to a lawyer, he did so without benefit of counsel. After two years, the court had still not responded to him, Valdés González told CPJ.

Failed socialism: Cubans know it, will Obama, too?...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It takes only 51 years to realize
It's taken 51 years, but the Castro regime has finally figured out what the rest of the world has already learned and what Americans need to be reminded of — that private enterprise creates wealth far better than government ever could.

Cuba's president since 2006, Raúl Castro, recently announced his government will be laying off 500,000 people, one-tenth of the country's work force.

Meanwhile, the Cuban government has opened up hundreds of jobs to self-employment, announced that small businesses can obtain bank loans and hire employees, and decided foreign investors now can purchase Cuban real estate.

Cuba still has a long way to go before it has the kind of free market economy the United States has — well, sort of still has. Cubans now can create a business repairing mattresses but still can't sell them. They can operate beauty parlors and barber shops, but only as long as they have three chairs or fewer. And of course, the country has not had a leader with a name other than "Castro" since 1959.

It's unknown if this opening will forestall Cuban communism's inevitable demise or, like Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika before it, speed it up.

But even the Castro regime can't ignore this: The Revolution is over. The country that was once the world's biggest exporter of coffee can't even satisfy domestic demand. All of Cuba's historical benefactors have rejected communism. Raúl's brother, the dictator Fidel, even told The Atlantic, "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore."

One would hope that folks in Washington would heed that message. The truth is that the Cuban model has never worked at all — not in Cuba, not anywhere. That's why Cuban-Americans in Florida and elsewhere long ago fled their country for the opportunities and freedoms they enjoy here.

And yet with all of the historical evidence to the contrary, this present U.S. administration seems unable to resist the temptation to dip its toe time and again into the quicksand of state control. Taxpayers have watched their government bail out huge corporations at taxpayer expense, nationalize part of the banking and automotive industries, and gain control of part of the nation's health-care system.

The United States continues to have the second-highest corporate tax rate in the world, along with myriad deductions designed to entice private employers to do the government's bidding.

In the midst of the longest economic downturn in recent memory, the Obama administration continues to try to spend our way to prosperity, as if our children and grandchildren will never have to pay the price for our recklessness.

Any U.S. political leader with the guts to cut the work force by 10 percent would get my vote immediately, so in that sense, bravo Raúl.

At the same time, let's not forget that he was at Fidel's side during his long reign over Cuba, when Cubans' personal, political and property rights were violated as a matter of state policy. The long-awaited transformation of Cuba may have begun, but it probably will have to be completed by someone not named Castro.

Regardless of who is in charge, the island Americans have long watched so warily as a potential launching pad could soon be a vacation spot or, for some Cuban-Americans, a place to reunite with families not seen for many years.

Someday Cubans may enjoy the prosperity that comes when the government allows the free market to work.
Let's hope Americans do as well.

S: Sun Sentinel