Thursday, August 11, 2011

LPP First Draft...

Caught on Tape: Female Activist Brutalized

Thursday, August 11, 2011
Two weeks ago, Cuban pro-democracy activist Ivonne Mayesa Galano courageously stood on the steps of the Capitol building ("Capitolio") in Havana with a sign that read:

"Cambios en Cuba Sin Dictadura" ("Change in Cuba Without Dictatorship")

She was violently arrested and interrogated.

Since then, she has led various other peaceful acts of civil disobedience.

As a result, plain-clothed state security officials confronted her at her home and consequently dragged her away.

But they were caught on tape:

Here's a close-up picture of Ivonne marching with the Ladies in White:

August 08, 2011

Cuban blogger Luis Felipe Rojas: I am not afraid

This appeared on Pedazos de la Isla on Aug. 5, 2011.

This Friday August 5th is the Day of Resistance in Cuba, and as is expected the regime has started a crackdown on dissidents who have participated in events commemorating this day or who are planning to take part within the next couple of days.  The day before the resistance celebration, on August 4th, the activist/blogger/independent journalist Luis Felipe Rojas informed through his Twitter account that he had been cited by the political police for that same night in the police unit of his town, San German, in Holguin.  “I’m expecting an arrest“, ended his Tweet.   Hours after, Rojas was released but not before being threatened.
“They told me that they would apply all measures within their reach to impede any sort of actions which to us are peaceful activities but which they classify as ‘provocations’“, explains the dissident from Holguin.  The detainment, according to Rojas, was “arbitrary” and its purpose was to prevent any intentions by the dissident to report and/or participate in events taking place on the 5th.
Among Cuban opposition members, the Day of Resistance was designated for the fifth of August in commemoration of ‘El Maleconazo’ which occurred on this day in 1994.  On that day hundreds of everyday Cubans spontaneously took to the streets in Havana to demand their rights.  Many believe that the dictatorship was shaking during that moment, in ways that perhaps they had not before.
17 years later the Cuban people continue demanding their inalienable rights.  “(All throughout the island) there will be protest activities“, declares Luis Felipe, “What I mainly do is independent journalism, my work mainly consists of informing and denouncing what happens to dissidents and the Cuban people in general“.  Rojas, author of the blog ‘Crossing the Barbed Wire‘, has suffered firsthand under the strict censorship of a regime which does not tolerate any form of dissent.  In one of his most recent posts he details the long, difficult, and costly process which he, and most Cubans, must undergo to access the internet for just a few minutes.  Regardless, he assures that he will be Tweeting and reporting during the Day of Resistance, also affirming that, “I will be in the streets as well, where I belong and and where my brothers in struggle have called me to be."
Read the rest, here.
Uncommon Sense

Another Cuban woman who is not afraid of the Castro regime ...

Mariela Castro asks US congressmen to help Obama's reelection
August 11 - Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban dictator Raul Castro, asked three US congressmen who are currently visiting Cuba, to support Barack Obama for a second term to allow him the "opportunity to make things better," according to a statement posted at her website on Thursday.
Mariela Castro "expressed the view that President Obama should be excused the failures of his first term and support him for a second term, which would give him the opportunity to make things better," said a statement from the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), which she leads, on its website
Castro also asked the three pro-Castro congressmen visiting Cuba, Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey and Sam Farr to "make a bigger effort" to obtain the freedom of the five Cuban spies who are currently in US jails. You can read the whole thing here (Spanish)
Cuba’s Debt Crisis: Foreign Debt, Unemployment, and Migration
August 11 -  A decade ago the influential British journal The Economist described Cuba’s foreign debt -- then estimated at $12 billion – as “slippery, shapeless and slow to be repaid” (1). Today, the approximately $72 billion in foreign debts and claims against the Cuban government (Table I) amount to an unbearable burden and surreal sum to repay for a country with an economic output barely one-fifth the size of Greece’s own bankrupt economy, and an unemployment rate far higher than Europe’s worst, Spain (Table II). Yet Cuba’s silent crisis has received virtually no media attention in the U.S. or Europe by comparison with the EU’s debt debacle, even though the predominantly European members of the Paris Club collectively hold over $30 billion in Cuban debt, virtually all of it in default or arrears. (2) Separately, Havana owes the Russian Federation some $27 billion in outstanding trade credits and loans granted by the Soviet Union and now claimed by Russia. While Russia has refused to forgive its Soviet-era debts it has, nonetheless, extended more than $1 billion in new government-guaranteed financing for trade with Cuba since the 1990s.  Read more
The Narrow Width
August 11 - I felt a shock on learning that Diana Nyad would make an attempt to swim across the Florida Straits. I recalled the days in 1994, when my neighborhood of San Leopoldo was swarming with people building improvised rafts on which to launch themselves into the sea. I especially remember one group that left, during that period in which the Cuban authorities stopped preventing illegal departures. A craft armed with pieces of wood, plastic tanks serving as floats, the image of the Virgin of Charity, and a patched flag that no longer knew to which nation it belonged. But the most striking thing turned out to be that on that flimsy raft were only the elderly. There was a very black lady with a colorful straw hat, a flowered dress and a smile, thanking in both Spanish and English the boys who helped her to set sail. I never knew if that rickety expedition made it to its destination, if all those seniors disposed to start again got the opportunity.
Seventeen years later, I hear the news that an American wants to try the same route, but this time protected by divers, a pair of kayaks and even a medical team. Her laudable intention was to highlight the closeness between the Island and its neighbor to the north, to help reconcile both shores. But the Straits of Florida is also part of our national cemetery, the graveyard where lie thousands of our compatriots. The omission by the athlete of such an important characteristic did not appeal to me. Nor the fact that with her nautical feat she would highlight the twentieth anniversary of a most exclusive club, the Hemingway Marina, where a Cuban, even today, cannot board a vessel and may not enter — on his own — such a beautiful landing. I would have preferred that the Gulf currents would be swum by someone who knew the pain sheltered in these waters and who would dedicate their gesture to the “unknown rafter” who died in the mouth of so many possible sharks.
When I learned, on Tuesday, that after a 29-hour effort the swimmer was unable to achieve her objective, my superstitions were confirmed. There are certain spaces, I thought, that need more than strokes or sports records to seem less sad. State television said succinctly that “insurmountable obstacles had emerged, among them winds of more than 12 miles per hour.” I can imagine Diana fighting against the waves, the sun gaining strength overheard, the intensely salty sea flowing into her mouth. I am going to go further and fantasize about the inexplicable detail of a straw hat, the colorful sombrero of woman who passed close to her, making her think herself delirious in the middle of the Florida Straits.  Generation Y
More crooks being arrested, by orders of the two crooks-in-chief
August 9 - Cuba arrested senior executives at state-run telephone company ETECSA in an anti-corruption sweep at one of the communist-run country's top businesses, according to sources with knowledge of the scandal.
Several executives at Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba SA were arrested in July while the company's president Maimir Mesa and most of its vice presidents have been suspended at least temporarily and sent home, the sources said.
ETECSA, which is owned by Cuban state and military companies, is one of the 10 largest enterprises in the country, with annual revenues well over $500 million.
"Five or six department directors and deputy directors, and maybe a vice president, have been arrested so far and the vice president of logistics, who was in Panama when the investigation began, decided not to return," one source said.
"But the investigation has just begun and many more people might be involved," the source said, adding that a retired company vice president was brought to Havana for questioning.
The sources said two separate investigations underway at ETECSA, one involving its booming cellular phone business and the other into a submarine fiber optic cable financed largely by Venezuela that links Cuba to that country.
The $70 million cable project, designed to circumvent U.S. efforts to deprive the island of a ground-based connection to the Internet, was supposed to be activated in July, but has reportedly run into technical difficulties.
The number of cellphones in use in Cuba trebled between 2008 and 2010 to more than one million, according to the government's statistics office. Mobile phone cards can sometimes be purchased on the black market. Read more
U.S. company suspends Cuba tours
August 7 - One of the first travel companies to jump into the Cuba trips allowed by a new Obama administration policy has suspended the tours amid questions that trouble both opponents and supporters of increased travel to the island.
The luxury travel firm Abercrombie & Kent advertised its tours for non-Cuban Americans, which included salsa dancing and rum-laced mojitos, under the “people to people” travel policy unveiled Jan. 28.
It quickly sold out 13 tours organized in conjunction with the Foundation for Caribbean Studies, holder of one of the licenses to organize people to people trips issued by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC).
But an OFAC statement on July 25 pointed at problems with A&K’s arrangement with the Foundation, and sparked questions about the California-based group.
As a result of the OFAC statement, the company “suspended all Cuba-related travel bookings until it can ensure it is fully compliant with this new guidance,” A&K media relations manager Jean Fawcett wrote in an email to El Nuevo Herald.
People to people travel started under President Clinton to allow non-Cuban U.S. residents to engage in “meaningful interaction” with everyday Cubans in "support of their desire to freely determine their country’s future.’’ Cuban Americans travel for family reunifications, but all tourist visits are illegal. The Miami Herald
Chávez pays Castro $200,000/year for each doctor, Castro pays his slaves $7,000/year
August 7 - The Venezuelan government would be paying to the Castro regime more than $200,000 a year for each of the 29,300 doctors, technicians and nurses participating in the Barrio Adentro health program, a figure that is 34 times greater than what the Cuban and Venezuelan health professionals directly receive to perform the service.
The amount, which represents about $16,666 a month, contrasts to the $500 to $600 a month that the health professionals are receiving directly.
According to experts, the exorbitant fees paid by Venezuela amount to a subsidy of the Castro regime.
"This is a total grant [to the Cuban regime]," said Maria Werlau, executive director of Cuba Archive, an organization that has been assessing the volumes of foreign exchange earned by Havana.
Another evaluation prepared by the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE) places the amount paid by Caracas at $220,000 a year per person, which would raise the monthly amount being paid by Chávez to over $18,333.
The calculation is based on the latest information supplied by the Cuban government on income received from abroad for its services, said Werlau.
According to the latest figures available, the Cuban regime received approximately $6,500 million in 2008 for foreign medical missions, the majority of them in Venezuela. El Nuevo Herald (Spanish)
The Castro brothers refuse to free Alan Gross
August 5 - The Castro brothers have refused to free American contractor Alan Gross.
Gross had appealed his conviction to Cuba's "supreme court," which is nothing more than a bunch of puppets who can only do what they are told.
Watch now for pressure to build for Obama to free the 5 spies in exchange for Gross BBC News