Thursday, January 6, 2011

LPP NEWS First Draft...

Castro's U.S. Business "Guru" Defects

Thursday, January 6, 2011
Pedro Alvarez, who until recently was head of the Castro regime's foreign trade monopoly, Alimport, has defected to the United States.

Alimport is the Castro regime's official counter-party for every single agricultural sales transaction from the U.S. to Cuba.

As president of Alimport, Alvarez was considered Castro's business "guru" behind agricultural purchases from the U.S., and has wined and dined dozens of U.S. Governors, Members of Congress and hundreds of American business executives.

As U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) gleefully stated during a March 2010 hearing of the House Agriculture Committee:

"I, too, have been down there, Mr. Presidents (of the American Farm Bureau and National Farmers Union), both of you. I appreciate that but assume that you know who Mr. Alvarez is. I spent a lot of time with him. I spent quite a bit of time with Mr. Castro. Sometimes we would be entertained. I can tell you about that a little bit."

In November, Alvarez was detained and questioned in a "corruption" probe by the Castro regime.

In other words, he either stopped producing for the Castro brothers, or dipped his hand into their (absolute and whimsical) cut.

Now, it appears Alvarez is in the U.S., where he can surely be a source of valuable information regarding the Castro regime's shady business practices -- not to mention about the "entertainment" Congressman Boswell is talking about.
Here's Alvarez sharing a "moment" with Idaho Governor Butch Otter and former U.S. Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho):

A Powerful Lesson in Democracy

May the world's autocrats take note.
From yesterday's opening session of the 112th Congress:

"Recognizing our roles under the Constitution, united in our love of country, we now engage in a strong symbol of American democracy: the peaceful and respectful exchange of power. I will now pass on this gavel - and the sacred trust that goes with it - to the new Speaker."

-- Outgoing Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

"The American people have humbled us. They have refreshed our memories as to just how temporary the privilege to serve is. They have reminded us that everything here is on loan from them. That includes this gavel, which I accept cheerfully and gratefully, knowing I am but its caretaker. After all, this is the people's House. This is their Congress. It's about them, not us. What they want is a government that is honest, accountable and responsive to their needs. A government that respects individual liberty, honors our heritage, and bows before the public it serves."

-- Incoming Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)

Is Pedro around?

Pedro Alvarez, the former head of Cuba’s food importing agency Alimport, is reported to be in the United States. The Economist reported November 11 that he had been arrested in September and was being questioned. Today’s reports offer no details or proof and all stem from one blogger’s claim that an anonymous source told him Alvarez has reached U.S. territory. We’ll see; by tomorrow I’m sure Miami media will have dug up more.
Alvarez is known to virtually every American who visited Cuba in recent years with even the slightest interest in agricultural sales. Given the number of those contacts and the number of political figures connected to them – and given the chilly state of bilateral relations – one would have to say he is a prominent figure in recent U.S.-Cuba relations even though he did not work in the foreign ministry.
Alvarez lost his wife last November in the AeroCaribbean crash in Sancti Spiritus.

January 05, 2011

Human rights group: Almost 1,500 political arrests in Cuba in 2010

As the world was distracted by so-called economic "reforms" and the release and forced exile of some 50 political prisoners, the Castro dictatorship's secret police stayed busy in 2010, making at least 1,499 politically motivated arrests, according to a Cuban human rights group.
A good portion of those arrests — 181 — happened in December, as the regime moved to neutralize activities to commemorate International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10. It was the second-highest monthly total, behind the 228 arrests in October.
In most instances, those arrested were released after a few hours or a few days of detention, but not before the police threatened them with harsher punishment if they continued with their activities.
The annual total, according to the CIHPRESS news agency, was just "the tip of the iceberg" of the regime's actions against the opposition. There were also at least 292 beatings of activists, 57 attacks on the homes of opponents and 173 arrests of or threats against independent journalists.
If you think the total of 1,499 undercounts the reality of repression in Cuba — which it probably does — consider this: If the same annual rate of arrests occurred in the United States, it would total more than 41,500.
Hopefully, the world would notice that.
For more, including details of the 181 arrests in December, go here.
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S:Uncommon Sense

US, Cuba to meet next week on migration

US, Cuba to meet next week on migration AFP/File – A Cuban flag flutters above Revolution Square in Havana. The United States and Cuba will hold new talks …

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States and Cuba will hold new talks on migration issues next week, almost exactly 50 years to the day since the US severed diplomatic ties with the island, a US official said Thursday.
Officially this would be the fourth round of talks on the issue, with the last discussions having been held on June 18 in Washington.
The meetings are focused on implementation of the US-Cuba Migration Accords, and have been organized since President Barack Obama's administration decided to resume talks on the issue in 2009.
The United States and Cuba have not had formal diplomatic ties since January 1961, although Washington is represented by a US interest section in Havana.
During the latest round of meetings, the Obama administration raised the case of Alan Gross, a US citizen held in Cuba since December 2009, and has called for his immediate release.
"We made it clear to the Cuban authorities that is very difficult to move to greater engagement in the context where they continue to hold Alan Gross," said assistant secretary of state for Latin America affairs Arturo Valenzuela.
"The holding of an American citizen without charges for over a year, that is something that makes for us very difficult having a conversation," he added during a speech to the Brookings Institution in Washington.
US officials say Gross worked for a non-government organization contracted by the State Department to supply computer and communications equipment to opposition groups on the island.
Cuba suspects Gross is a spy.
On Monday, Cuba marked 50 years since the United States snapped relations with the communist-run Caribbean island, following the revolution led by Fidel Castro.