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Daily Archives: January 27, 2006

Coast Guard continues search for 15 migrants on boat in Fla. Straits

Coast Guard continues search for 15 migrants on boat in Fla. Straitssun-sentinel.comJanuary 26, 2006, 2:30 PM EST

MIAMI: A search has been launched for 15 Cubans aboard a homemade woodenvessel that was spotted in the Florida Straits a day earlier, the CoastGuard said on Thursday.

Coast Guard personnel in a helicopter spotted the migrants about 46 milessoutheast of Marathon in the Florida Keys at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday.

The Blackhawk crew lost contact with the vessel at 7 p.m. due to poorvisibility and bad weather. The boat has not been located since.

The helicopter crew reported the wooden vessel had no engine and wasapproximately 15 feet to 20 feet in length. The sea-state at the time was 4to 6 foot seas and getting worse. It also reported all people on the vesselappeared to be wearing life jackets.

Search efforts through the night included aircrews from Miami andIslamorada.

At first light, a jet, a helicopter and a Hercules aircraft were launched toassist in the search.

Also, the crew of the cutter Matagorda searched last night and this morningand the crew of the cutter Reliance is en route to the search area.

So far, Coast Guard units have searched a combine area of more than 1,400square miles in the Florida Straits.

Anyone with information that can help with locating the migrants should callthe Seventh District Command Center at 305-415-6800.

Copyright 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinelhttp://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/cuba/sfl-126cubanmigrants,0,357946.story?coll=sfla-news-cuba

Cuba quiere tapar cartel de la sede de EEUU en La Habana

Posted on Thu, Jan. 26, 2006Cuba quiere tapar cartel de la sede de EEUU en La HabanaANDREA RODRIGUEZ / APLA HABANA

Trabajadores comenzaron ayer a realizar labores de construcción al costadode la Tribuna Antiimperialista ”José Martí” y a metros de la Oficina deIntereses de , que instaló un cartel desde el cual transmitemensaje sobre .Cavadoras forradas con banderas cubanas, camiones y personal realizaronperforaciones y actividades desde la madrugada en la angosta calle quesepara a la representación estadounidense del foro cubano, constató la AP.Varias avenidas a la redonda permanecían cortadas.Un comunicado de prensa de la Oficina de Intereses indicó que lasautoridades cubanas les enviaron el martes un mensaje diciendo que nopodrían usar el parque ubicado al frente del edificio hasta nuevo aviso.Poco después comenzaron las labores de remoción de tierra.”El régimen parece construir una estructura permanente que, creemos, buscaobstruir la vista de los cubanos a los mensajes y la información nocensurada puesta en nuestra cartelera. La reacción del régimen no nossorprende: edificar paredes para aislar a los cubanos del resto del mundo eslo que el régimen mejor sabe”, dijo el mensaje.Los obreros sólo comentaron que se trataba de una ampliación de la Tribuna,un escenario con un fuerte valor simbólico pues desde allí se realizan casitodas las protestas contra Washington y el gobernante Fidel Castro pronunciaencendidos discursos.No se informó oficialmente si la ”ampliación” está relacionada con lainstalación por parte de la sede del cartel lumínico.Castro apareció ayer por sorpresa para visitar las obras. Al preguntarle ungrupo de corresponsales extranjeros, evitó concretar en qué consisten lostrabajos. ”He preguntado y no me lo han dicho”, bromeó con la prensaextranjera que acudió a la zona.En ocasiones anteriores Cuba respondió a pancartas de la Oficina deIntereses poniendo a su vez otros mensajes recordando los escándalos porsupuestas torturas estadounidenses en Irak y Guantánamo.La semana pasada, mientras se festejaba el aniversario del natalicio deMartin Luther King, Jr. la sede diplomática desplegó el lumínico paratransmitir pensamientos de líderes anticomunistas y mensajes sobre derechoshumanos, calificados de ”provocación” por Castro. También noticiasmundiales y citas célebres de King.La prensa oficial isleña difundió el miércoles los comentarios del portavozdel Departamento de Estado, Sean McCormack, quien consideró ”irónico” queCuba organizara una protesta contra la emisión de citas del pastornorteamericano.La información fue publicada ayer en el periódico Granma, órgano del Partido Comunista, bajo un titular que reza: “¡Qué descarados!”.

http://www.miami.com/mld/elnuevo/news/world/cuba/13712673.htm

Castro Visits Construction Site at Night

Castro Visits Construction Site at NightBy ANDREA RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press WriterWed Jan 25, 10:59 PM ET

visited a mysterious new construction site outside the U.S.Interests Section on Wednesday night, but kept mum over what was being builtin front of the mission – a growing flashpoint for U.S.-Cuba relations.Dressed in his olive green uniform and surrounded by security men, Castromade the nighttime visit one day after directing a massive march past thebuilding to protest recent U.S. actions aimed at Cuba, including a newelectronic sign streaming news and messages.“If I tell you, it will ruin the surprise,” Castro told reporters who askedwhat workers were building. The Cuban said he was there primarily“to greet the workers.”Castro indicated he had no intention of breaking already limited relationsbetween the two countries. “It is (the Americans) who will decide whathappens to this Interests Section,” he said.The American mission irked Castro last week when it installed the electronicsign on the facade of its main building with streaming text of sayings about and excerpts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, towhich Cuba is a signatory.The American mission said in a statement that it was informed by the Cubangovernment after the march Tuesday that the parking lot in front of thebuilding could no longer be used until further notice.“The regime appears to be building a permanent structure that, we believe,seeks to obstruct Cubans’ view of the uncensored messages and informationposted on our streaming billboard,” the U.S. statement said. “The regime’sreaction is not surprising: building walls to isolate Cubans from the restof the world is what the regime knows best.“Why cannot the regime allow Cubans to make up their own minds as to whatthey want to think, read and say publicly?”The plaza includes a stage used for music concerts and political eventsattended by Castro and other Communist Party leaders.Castro characterized the new U.S. messages as “provocations” and said theyappeared to be aimed at breaking off the limited contact between the twogovernments, which have been without diplomatic relations for 45 years.The U.S. has an interests section under the Swiss Embassy in Havana tohandle consular affairs such as visa processing. Cuba has a similar officein Washington.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060126/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/cuba_us_1

Supermodel with a cause falls foul of police

Supermodel with a cause falls foul of January 27, 2006Czech supermodel Helena Houdova took a break from the catwalk to visit communist Cuba and was for taking photo graphs in a slum.

The former Miss Czech Republic 1999 runs a foun dation in New York that supports dis advantaged children and wanted to see what she could do to help in Cuba.But on Monday, Cuban security police detained Houdova and her companion, Czech psychologist Mariana Kroftova, while they were taking photographs in the poor Havana area of Arroyo Naranjo.They were released 11 hours later after signing a let ter saying they would not engage in “counter-revolutionary” activities.“We were afraid,” Houdova said. “We grew up under communism and know what it is like.”- Reuters

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2006/01/27/1138066929460.html

U.S., Cubans wage flashy war of words

Posted on Wed, Jan. 25, 2006CUBAU.S., Cubans wage flashy war of wordsThe Cuban government staged a massive protest in Havana outside the U.S.diplomatic mission, which displayed its own messages to the protesters on abillboard.BY FRANCES [email protected]

Havana’s billboard war saw more salvos fired Tuesday as the U.S. and Cubangovernments stoked their decades-old confrontation with competing messages.Cuban leader shepherded about one million people to a protestoutside the U.S. diplomatic mission in the Cuban capital in one of hisgovernment’s periodic immense protests against Washington.But just as the 79-year-old leader was about to speak to the masses,American diplomats couldn’t resist taking advantage of a captive audienceand lit up the electronic ticker-tape billboard recently erected on the sideof the building.”To those who may want to be here, we respect your protest. To those whodon’t want to be here, excuse the bother,” the sign declared in a referenceto strong government pressures that ensure attendance at such protests ishigh.The sign was the latest in a public relations battle between Cuba and thediplomatic mission, officially known as the U.S. Interests Section, eachusing billboards and displays to mock the other.”To help Cubans shuck off their propaganda strait jacket, we havecreatively used new measures to dialogue with them — and the streaming,electronic billboard is just our latest initiative,” U.S. Interests Sectionchief Michael Parmly said in an e-mail to The Miami Herald. “Our goal is toshow Cubans that other long-repressed people have realized their democraticaspirations.”Another of the billboard’s messages Tuesday read, “Only in totalitariansocieties do governments talk and talk at their people and never listen.”

CASTRO IRRITATEDCastro was clearly irked by the billboard, calling it another”provocation” aimed at forcing a total break in U.S.-Cuba relations.”They turned on the little sign. How brave the cockroaches are,” Castroretorted. ‘Looks like `Bushecito’ gave the order.”Castro called for the ”March of the People” two days ago to protest theU.S. refusal to extradite Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban exile accused in a1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73. Lasting seven hours and ledby former Nicaraguan Daniel Ortega, it was one of the largest suchmarches in recent years.”They are beaten. Injustice is on its knees,” Cuba’s government newspaperGranma quoted Castro as telling the crowd. “Nobody believes in theempire.”Organized by , work and military groups, the marchers waved littlered, white and blue Cuban flags and signs showing Posada’s face in atriangle above the words ”Danger: Murderer,” news agencies reported fromHavana. They chanted “Bush: fascist! Condemn the terrorist!”Posada was acquitted by a Venezuelan court in the Cuban airliner explosion,but escaped from while awaiting a government appeal. He was capturedin Miami last year and is being held in Texas by an immigration court;Tuesday was the last day for evidence to be presented in his efforts to winhis .”We don’t want revenge, we just want justice,” marcher Lucia Roja, aretired educator, told the Associated Press.Marchers like Roja were able to see the U.S. billboard messages, includingthe news that the U.S. Treasury Department had decided to allow Cuba to playin the upcoming World Baseball Classic tournament. They also saw quotes fromLech Walesa, Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln.”Only such regimes would be outraged by the sayings of Martin Luther King,Vaclav Havel and Gandhi,” Parmly said.REACHING PEOPLEA U.S. official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to bequoted by name, said Tuesday’s use of the sign was common sense: “If thepoint is to reach people, why not turn it on when a million people arecruising by?”The official said the messages deliberately include bad news about theUnited States in an attempt to show Cuban people that the U.S. governmentdoes not censor the media.The U.S. Interests Section would not say how much the billboard cost.The billboard follows a large sign bearing the number ”75,” hung last yearfrom the building’s facade as a reference to the 75 Cuban dissidents jailedin 2003.The Cuban government retaliated with enormous murals, displayed near theU.S. diplomatic center, of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners.Other billboards set up around the American mission showed bloody brassknuckles, bullets and meat hooks stamped with ”Posada & Bush Company.”Another poster showed the faces of Bush and Hitler with an equal signpointing to Posada’s face, the AP said.According to an AP report, the prison abuse sign — including one with aswastika bearing a ”Made in the U.S.A.” stamp — were removed this weekand replaced with what appeared to be a movie poster showing Bush and Posadawith vampire teeth and blood in their mouths.The sign purported to advertise an upcoming film dubbed The Murderer,“coming soon to American courts.”

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/world/cuba/13704325.htm

Supermodel nabbed by Cuban police

Supermodel nabbed by Cuban From correspondents in Havana26-01-2006

CZECH supermodel Helena Houdova took a break from the catwalk to visit communist Cuba and was for taking photographs in a slum, she said today.The former Miss Czech Republic 1999 runs a foundation in New York that supports disadvantaged children in nine countries, and she wanted to see what she could do to help in Cuba.But on Monday, Cuban security police detained Houdova and her companion, Czech psychologist Mariana Kroftova, while they were taking photographs in the poor Havana neighbourhood of Arroyo Naranjo.The two women were held overnight in police custody and not allowed to call the Czech Embassy.They were released 11 hours later after signing a letter vowing not to engage in “counter-revolutionary” activities, the model said.Police confiscated photographic film, but Houdova said she managed to hide the memory card from her digital camera in her bra.“They screamed at us. We were afraid,” Houdova said. “We grew up under communism and know what it is like.”“Something needs to change here,” Kroftova said.The two women were told not to leave Havana until their departure from Cuba on Sunday.

http://www.news.com.au/story/print/0,10119,17944619,00.html

U.S. sign may be blocked

Posted on Thu, Jan. 26, 2006CUBAU.S. sign may be blocked

By FRANCES [email protected]

The electronic billboard that displays news and human-rights messages fromthe U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana may be losing its audience: The Cubangovernment Wednesday began building a structure that will block it fromview.The Cuban government marched more than one million people past the U.S.Interests Section in a protest against the Bush administration Tuesday. Justas leader began to speak, American diplomats turned on theticker-tape machine.Castro called the Americans “cockroaches.”On Wednesday, Cuban authorities told U.S. diplomats they would no longer beallowed to use the parking lot in front of the building on Havana’s seafrontMalecon avenue, according to a U.S. Interests Section statement.Construction work started on the adjoining property soon afterwards, thestatement said.‘The regime appears to be building a permanent structure that, we believe,seeks to obstruct Cubans’ view of the uncensored messages and informationposted on our streaming billboard,” the statement read. “The regime’sreaction is not surprising: building walls to isolate Cubans from the restof the world is what the regime knows best.”News agencies reported bulldozers emblazoned with Cuban flags arrived earlyWednesday at the area, officially known as the José Marti Anti-ImperialistPlaza.

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/world/cuba/13713632.htm

Castro says billboard threatens US ties

Castro says billboard threatens US tiesBy Anthony BoadleWed Jan 25, 11:26 PM ET

said on Wednesday the electronic billboard flashing messages from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana threatened the few diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba.But he said Cuba, which has not had formal diplomatic relations with Washington since 1961, had nothing to lose.“The only purpose of this garbage is to provoke the destruction of those tenuous links, as if we needed them,” Castro told foreign reporters.The two governments, bitter enemies since Castro came to power in a 1959 revolution, do not have formal diplomatic relations. Interests offices were opened in each other’s capital during U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s administration. Washington has enforced sanctions against Cuba since 1962.Castro accused U.S. diplomats of breaking the rules of international diplomacy by funding his opponents and “smuggling” tons of equipment into Cuba in diplomatic pouches, including cameras and radios handed to dissidents.Cuba, which buys $400 million a year in imports from the United States under an exception to the U.S. trade , had taken steps to guarantee alternative supplies, Castro said.The Cuban leader spoke to reporters during a nighttime visit to workers building a structure in front of the U.S. Interests Section that will apparently block the view of the electronic billboard.Brigades of workers began the task on Tuesday night, hours after Castro and hundreds of thousands of Cubans marched past the mission to protest the 5-foot-high (1.5-meter) ticker that streams messages across the facade of the Interests Section.U.S. diplomats said Cuba’s communist authorities were building a wall or screen to obstruct the view of the ticker, which displays messages to the Cuban people, news headlines and quotes from Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Lech Walesa.“Building walls to isolate Cubans from the rest of the world is what the regime knows best,” a spokesperson for the Interests Section said.Cuban officials said they were extending an open-air stage that has been the main venue for political rallies against the United States since 2000.TIT-FOR-TAT BILLBOARDSThe ticker across the 25 windows of the fifth floor of the Interests Section on Havana’s Malecon waterfront is a new salvo in a decades-old propaganda war between Washington and Havana.Last year, Cuba set up billboards with pictures of abused Iraqi prisoners at the site in reply to a Christmas decoration displaying the number of dissidents jailed in a political crackdown.On Tuesday, Castro called U.S. diplomats “cockroaches” and accused the administration of President George W. Bush of seeking a new crisis between the United States and Cuba with “perfidious” provocations.As Castro spoke from a podium, the U.S. ticker flashed “Conservatives win elections in ” and other news headlines in bright letters in full view of the marchers.The headlines were followed by quotes from Lincoln, Gandhi and Walesa, founder of the Solidarity movement that toppled Poland’s communist government and helped bring about the collapse of Soviet control over Eastern Europe.The ticker began flashing messages on January 16 with the words “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up” from civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 speech.U.S. diplomats said they wanted to break the “information blockade” or censorship of Cuba’s state-run media.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060126/pl_nm/cuba_usa_dc_4

Cuba appoints captain to command unit around U.S. base

Posted on Thu, Jan. 26, 2006Cuba appoints captain to command unit around U.S. baseBy CAROL ROSENBERG

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — The Cuban general who has been thePentagon’s primary contact with this isolated U.S. Navy base has retired andbeen replaced by a navy captain, the U.S. commander here says.Brig. Gen. José Solar Hernández, commander of the Frontier Brigade deployedaround the base, announced his retirement Jan. 20 at the monthly regularlymeeting held along the fence that separates the Navy facility from Cubaproper.He was replaced by Cuban Navy Capt. Pedro Román Cisneros, U.S. Navy Capt.Mark Leary told The Miami Herald in an interview this week.The United States and Cuba started monthly meetings here a decade ago toavert misunderstandings between U.S. Marines and Cuban soldiers who face offacross a 17.4-mile fence.For example, before the United States opened the 8,000-mile air-bridge thatbrought al Qaeda and Taliban suspects here from Afghanistan in January 2002,the U.S. side used the fence-line meeting to notify the Cuban government ofits intent to hold suspected terrorists on the 45-square-mile base.The job of commanding the Frontier Guard unit is significant because it signals the Cuban government’s trust in a person who regularly meets with U.S. officers.Leary said the new commander, Cisneros, is a veteran navy officer of 37years who served in submarines. Cuba is believed to have retired its threesubmarines nearly a decade ago after the loss of Soviet subsidies to Havana.Cuba had a small, Soviet-supplied naval fleet during the Cold War. Butmilitary analysts describe its navy today as a tiny, short-range force whosepurpose is to defend the coast and intercept civilian vessels onunauthorized trips.Leary reported that so far there has been a seamless transition from Solarto Cisneros, who already has engaged in a routine e-mail exchange with thebase through a special communications link.U.S. officials said they had advance notice from Solar of his retirement, soLeary bought a humidor at the base commissary and had it engraved with acrest as a farewell present.”He seemed genuinely pleased with it,” said Leary.

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/world/cuba/13718003.htm

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