Sunday, July 31, 2011 ...

In many vacation destination countries such as Cuba and China, human rights violations are the order of the day. These countries nevertheless enjoy great popularity among package vacation tourists...
Capitol Hill Cubans TV

LPP Archive...

Commies, Cops, and Cubans

At Sixth and Pine, Pedro Fights the Power, Makes the Man Listen

Alice Wheeler

You've probably seen him. He hollers from the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue into westbound traffic stalled along the Pike/Pine corridor. He's also been haranguing passengers on the #7 downtown bus with his nearly incomprehensible rant for a year and a half now. His voice is shot and he has no upper teeth. His eyes are jaundiced but intense. The worn cardboard sign propped under his chin reads: "Frye Apt and Seattle police is Communist! You Communist are damn liar! Stop you devil stop!"
For the record, his name is Pedro. He's a slight, wiry, 57-year-old Cuban refugee dressed perennially in a red flannel shirt, brown slacks, and a yellow ball cap on which is inscribed, in neon blue ink, "Yes God so loved Yes." And here, phonetically, is what Pedro's rant sounds like:
"Seattle police gibby moh-ney. Ebry-bohdey in Seattle for righta Red China a poppy for gibbah meh trio-bley for meh. For me, dey tohkey a people de Seattle police is communist!"
He repeats this, over and over, with an apostolic zeal. It's hard not to stare. The diatribe, once you get a handle on it, contains all the information you need in order to understand the bent anger that drives Pedro. It's getting a handle, though, that's difficult; all day you can see people straining to understand what the hell he's saying. From across the street folks stop and gawk; drivers roll down their windows and crane their necks.
"Seattle police are killing me," Pedro tells me, making a rapid slashing gesture across his throat with his right hand. He gives himself three or four months, tops. (When I ask him how the cops are killing him, he gives me a look that says, "You are an idiot.") The elements of the alleged conspiracy that have resulted in Pedro's homelessness and the perceived threat to his existence are vast, though they do contain something of a thematic consistency: the Seattle police, Jesus Christ, Cuba and Castro, Mexico and immigration, Catholicism and atheism, Kennedy and Vietnam, and, of course, communists and communism. "I no like communists," says Pedro, adding that "in this city, many, many, many people like the Cuban president."
(By the way, the back of his sign, which he never shows, reads: "Jesus of Nazareth. Power of God. Jesus is. Yes he is. I am the Son of God.")
Here is a stitched-together synopsis of Pedro's concerns: Seattle police officers are taking money from Castro, which makes them--along with all Catholics--de facto communists. Some time back, these same police officers were given money by an unspecified source as a bribe to evict Pedro from his apartment. By a leap of logic that is eminently clear to Pedro, everyone in Seattle is suspected of composing and signing a document ("ebry-bohdey in Seattle for righta Red China a poppy" translates to "everybody in Seattle for writing and signing a paper") that got him booted from his home, sent to prison, and thus unjustly stigmatized.
It's uncertain whether Pedro believes that everyone in Seattle qualifies as either a victim or perpetrator of communist chicanery; he does demand, however, that every last person in the city be compelled to appear before the high court of the United Nations in order to be tried as such.
Speaking to Pedro is difficult; he's irascible and grouchy, alternating between displays of warmth and disgust. He yells at me occasionally, or stomps off dismissively, waving his hand to shoo me away. "Leave me alone!" he barks. "I no have time for this!" Sometimes, when I repeat back to him what I think he's said in an attempt to verify a word or a phrase, Pedro gets up in my face and growls, "You no LISTEN!" Other times he brings me right into his confidence, eyes blazing.
When I explain to Pedro that people don't understand what he's saying, he gets really pissed. "People understand!" he yells. I tell him I'm a reporter, and that I only want to clarify his message. His eyes widen. "I no have time for you," he says and walks away.
Dan Boule, a manager at the Pottery Barn on Sixth and Pine, claims that Pedro has caused very little disruption to business. Boule says that, for customers and employees both, Pedro's rant is "more of a conversation piece than anything else." As with so many others, Boule is curious about the meaning of Pedro's message. "I don't have a clue what he's talking about," he says. "I just wish I knew."
When I finally get Kirby Brown, the current manager of Frye Apartments (after the cops, Pedro's least favorite "communists") on the phone, he says that, yes, he's aware of Pedro's allegations, though he will neither confirm nor deny whether Pedro was ever a resident of Frye's subsidized housing. "I've seen him there," says Brown. "He's had that sign and that message... for quite a few years."
Brown would rather discuss the crisis presently confronting low-income housing than Pedro's accusations, citing recent cuts in social services and funding for mental health in the King County area. Frye Apartments, which has offered subsidized housing since the early '70s, offers 234 units for very low-income people at a cost of one-third of their income. Frye currently has about 600 names on its waiting list. "The demand we have here is tremendous," says Brown.
When I bring our conversation back around to Pedro, Brown pauses. "I've been asked about him a number of times," he says. "I see him as a person with some critical unmet needs. I wish he could be helped somehow."
Pedro, for his part, insists that all he wants is "an apartment or a room." He's adamant about not being characterized as a panhandler. "Me no want the money," he says, shaking his head, "no want it." When asked where he lives now, Pedro doesn't answer, but gives me a hostile glare. And whenever the light turns red, he immediately turns away from me to take up his rant. "Seattle police gibby moh-ney," he starts in.
At one point in our conversation, a pair of beat cops stroll past on the sidewalk behind us. "Hi!" one of them yells jauntily over to Pedro. "Have a nice day!" Pedro spins and stands frozen for a second, then hunches himself as though for a fight. "Why for you kill me?" he asks. "Why for you kill me?" The cops just walk away.
Pedro watches them round the corner, then he turns back to face me. He comes in close. "You hear?" he says, grinning. "I said, 'Why for you killing me?'"
The history of Cuba through the pages of Diario de la Marina
July 29 - Diario de la Marina was Cuba's oldest and most prestigious newspaper.
It was founded by Don Nicolás Rivero in 1832 and lasted 128 years, until Fidel Castro closed it in May of 1960, just 16 month after coming to power.
Armed militiamen and G2 agents entered the offices of the newspaper, fired all the employees who were not in favor of the new regime and took over its publication.
Jose Ignacio Rivero, who was editor at the time and who was a fierce critic of the dictator, had to take refuge at the Peruvian Embassy in Havana.
Diario de la Marina published for about a year in exile, until it finally closed.
If you have the time and understand Spanish, you can read the articles that show the betrayal of the Cuban Revolution, beginning in January of 1959, the false assurances and empty promises of Fidel and Raul Castro and the beginning of the enslavement of the Cuban people in general. Diario de la Marina
Kerry lifts hold on cash promoting Cuba democracy
July 28 - A senior U.S. senator says the Obama administration has agreed to review its democracy promotion programs in communist Cuba.
Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts had been blocking $20 million in funding for the programs. Frederick Jones, who is Kerry's spokesman, says Kerry on Wednesday lifted his hold. But the funds still face a hold from fellow Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
Jones has said the State Department and USAID have agreed to report results of their review to lawmakers.
Kerry has said he was seeking to ensure the effectiveness of the program to promote human rights and basic freedoms. Established in 1996, the Cuba Program has been beset with reports that some grantees misused funds and the government provided little oversight.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who was born in Havana and fled with her parents following the Cuban Revolution, praised Kerry and expressed disappointment with Leahy.
"The people of Cuba certainly don't deserve to be victims of this type of political wrangling or manipulation," Ros Lehtinen said. "Each day this hold remains is another day that those seeking freedom and democracy on the island are denied the critical assistance these programs would provide." Read more
Cuba: A Pretend Paradise
July 28 - Article in the Toronto Sun: Nobody travels more to Cuba than Canadians — about 600,000 of us head there every year. With affordable non-stop flights and unbeatable all-inclusive packages, even middle-class families can afford to play in paradise.
But beyond the shoreline, the oasis turns mirage.
As we casually sip our mojitos and work on our tans, dissident journalists are silenced and jailed every day for speaking out against Castro’s island “utopia.”
Popular Cuban author and blogger, Yoani Sanchez, is the most recent victim to endure Castro’s silent treatment.
Her crime? Publishing a tell-all book that dispels the fantasy of Cuba as a model for socialized government. Her shipment of books from the publisher were seized by the government and never made it into the country.
For her practice of free speech, she is also prohibited from leaving Cuba.
Through telephone interviews and her blog site, Generation Y, she manages to find ways to loosen the invisible chains of communism that bind her.
Others like Sanchez convicted of dissidence are sentenced anywhere from five to 25 years in prison — many of them locked up with violent criminals, subject to the worst possible treatment. All this is happening just miles from our sheltered sandy resorts.
For the adventurous traveler who dares to enter into the “real Havana,” the charming portrait belies the truth, as no local will ever speak of the reality of their circumstances.
Despite his failing health, Castro’s grip on public perception remains as powerful as ever. Read more

A Cuban Song ...

Cuba, past and present.

Havana annual trade show ...


By Angelica Mora
 Notes from a Reporter
New York - - What a way to spread rumors all over Venezuela   the issue of cancer Chavez!
The most discussed is the statement released today   Globovisión Candelaria in Arroyo, a clairvoyant who says he "does   four years in a prayer wheel, showed me a revelation   cancer now have the ...." But President Hugo Chavez   explained that the President's security body never allowed   approached. Then the seer decided to continue praying.
That is, the fault lies with the cancer   Cuban bodyguards who did not leave the visionary approach the president   to warn the disease four years ago and floated on   your head! Unforgivable, as a thing-this stubbornness closed   and blindness, can change the destiny of a person.
The strange thing is that this woman then statement in the same interview-   their rapprochement with Chavez, "who helped set up a   business selling bags in the market in La Hoyada and gave a   furnished house. Since then they became comrades in politics   and prayer by the groups participating   Chavez when time permitted ... "Even this   called "Candela" ...
And do not you Candela spoke all these opportunities   your sign? Bizarre, weird.
Then "Candela" is set to "Candela"   when he says Chavez is ready for the Hereafter:
-It will not reach the loss of an election   even for a coup. No government will by the power of man,   but by God's design.
The clairvoyant said that Hugo Chávez Frías   come out of the way to the cemetery office for an appointment   of God. The cancer will metastasize in the body.
She is praying for him, because he says that he is a   very good and simple, but not any more details.
Creepy !!!!... like all   other stories from the Crypt Venezuelan and we are used   to tell us for 12 years.
July 27, 2011 /Ilustra

Cuba approves flights from 9 more American cities

HAVANA (Reuters) - Air travel between the United States and Cuba will become easier with the opening of charter flights to the forbidden island from an additional nine U.S. cities announced by Cuba authorities on Friday.
Cuban travel agency Havanatur Celimar said it added the cities of Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Baltimore, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston and San Juan, Puerto Rico, to the list from where charter flights would be accepted.
Cuba is preparing for an increase in visitors from its long-time ideological foe under a recent loosening of travel restrictions by the Obama administration.
The United States, which maintains comprehensive sanctions on the communist-run island and bans tourism to Cuba, does not allow regular commercial flights between the two countries.
But the Obama administration has lifted all restrictions on Cuban Americans visiting their homeland and allowed religious, academic and other professional travel by Americans to Cuba.
Havana Celimar has a monopoly on the Cuban end of U.S. charter flights and already receives travelers on flights from Miami, New York and Los Angeles.
The number of U.S. citizens visiting Cuba increased last year by 20 percent, to 63,000, according to Cuban statistics.
Some 350,000 Cuban Americans visited Cuba in 2010 after the Obama administration lifted all restrictions on their travel.
The travel opening annoyed Cuban American lawmakers who have introduced legislation in Congress that would reimpose a Bush-era restriction on Cuban American travel to the island of only one visit every three years and more strictly enforce the ban on U.S. travel to Cuba.
The lawmakers argue that the Obama administration is helping prop up the Cuban government, while the White House counters more people-to-people contact is the best way to undermine the island's communist system.
President Barack Obama has threatened to veto any move to undercut his people-to-people policy toward Cuba.
Cuba has said it had 2.53 million tourists in 2010, with Canada the largest provider at nearly 945,000, followed by Britain at 174,000 and Italy at 112,000.
Tourism is one of Cuba's most important earners of foreign exchange, with revenues of $2.2 billion last year, and an important provider of jobs.
(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Anthony Boadle)

Cuba renews appliance sales amid economic changes

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba is renewing sales of energy-sucking appliances, reversing a pillar of Fidel Castro's "energy revolution" in response to popular demand and to support the growing ranks of independent workers under an economic overhaul launched by President Raul Castro.
The measure covers appliances such as air conditioners, electric stoves, coffee makers, grills and sandwich makers. The appliances will begin going on sale gradually as they become available, according to a notice published in the Official Gazette and dated Friday.
It said the action was aimed at "supplying products to the population and independent workers."
Appliance sales have been largely restricted since 2003, and they were key targets of former President Fidel Castro's "energy revolution."
That initiative sought to replace aging, inefficient kitchen appliances that taxed Cuba's shaky electrical grid and contributed to frequent summer blackouts that lasted for hours.
The former leader regularly appeared on television to push conservation measures and flog less-power-hungry rice steamers and pressure cookers. Government workers went door to door in many neighborhoods to replace incandescent light bulbs with more-efficient alternatives. Officials also overhauled the antiquated electrical grid.
Blackouts are not as frequent or severe today, though officials still urge conservation. While most of Cuba's electricity is generated by crude oil, there have been efforts to increase renewable sources like solar.
Raul Castro launched an economic overhaul last year that aims to rescue Cuba's perennially weak economy by including a taste of the private sector, though Castro stresses that the government is "updating" its socialist model, not embracing capitalism.
The state is planning to slash expenses, subsidies and payroll, while allowing more islanders to open their own businesses and hire employees. Many of the independent business licenses are for restaurants, cafeterias and home-based snack bars, where something like a sandwich maker or an electric coffee pot could come in handy.
Friday's note in the Gazette specifically mentions the needs of the small business owners, and says the appliances will be available on the domestic retail market.