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Daily Archives: March 2, 2010

Cuba’s other face

Cuba's other face From Tuesday's Globe and Mail Published on Tuesday, Mar. 02, 201012:00AM EST Last updated on Tuesday, Mar. 02, 2010 3:41AM EST

Canadians vacationing in Cuba may be too busy sipping mojitos andfrolicking in the ocean to consider last week's tragic death of a Cubanpolitical . But it is a powerful reminder of the island'srepressive underbelly, and illustrates the Cuban government's continuedand blatant disregard for and civil liberties.

Orlando Tamayo, a 42-year-old carpenter and plumber, stoppedeating Dec. 3 to protest the conditions of his detention, and died in a in Havana last Tuesday. He is the first political prisoner tostarve himself to death since 1972, when Pedro Luis Boitel, a studentleader and poet, suffered the same fatal end.

Mr. Zapata was detained in a 2003 crackdown known as "Black Spring",alongside 75 other opposition activists, who advocate peaceful politicalchange but are seen by the Cuban government as U.S. mercenaries. He wasinitially jailed for three years for "disrespecting authority"; however,this sentence was increased to 25 years in subsequent trials, after hewas charged with disobedience and disorder in a penal establishment.

Amnesty International called Mr. Zapata's death a "terrible illustrationof the despair facing prisoners of conscience who see no hope of beingfreed from their unfair and prolonged incarceration." The human rightsgroup called for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience,and said a full investigation must be carried out to establish whetherill treatment played a role in the case of Mr. Zapata.

Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, and officials from theEuropean Union also condemned Mr. Zapata's death, with Spanish PrimeMinister Jose Luis Rodriguez calling for the release of allpolitical prisoners. accused the Cuban government ofmurdering her son.

, the Cuban president, took the unusual step of expressingpublic regret for Mr. Zapata's death. But he used the occasion not toannounce a political opening, but to deny that the deceased wasmistreated and to attack the U.S. The only torture taking place on theisland, Mr. Castro said, is at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay,where terror suspects are held.

It is clear that he does not intend to heed the international demand tofree all dissidents, or to permit peaceful opposition voices in thiscountry of 11 million.

In fact, Mr. Zapata's death provoked another act of repression, withdozens of his supporters locked up last week to prevent them fromattending his funeral in Banes, his home town in the east.

Cuba's opposition believes, however, that the tragedy will galvanizeresistance against the government. "I think there is going to be a'before' and an 'after' in the murder of Tamayo," said Marta BeatrizRoque, a Havana also jailed in 2003 and later released for reasons.

Historically, the Cuban dissident movement has been weak and fraughtwith internal conflict. Government control of all media – and thelimited access Cubans have to the -has made it difficult foropposition groups to mobilize.

But the movement may find strength and unity from Mr. Zapata's decisionto starve himself to death. On Friday, five dissidents, four behindbars, announced they had begun hunger strikes aimed at forcing thegovernment to free all political prisoners. Mr. Zapata was a poor, blackman from the countryside – the very sector of society the CubanRevolution was supposed to help.

As Canadians book their all-inclusive Veradero getaways this March breakthey would do well to remember that for many, Cuba is no island paradise.

Cuba's other face – The Globe and Mail (2 March 2010)http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/editorials/cubas-other-face/article1486306/

Cuba offers payback plan for frozen bank accounts

Cuba offers payback plan for frozen bank accountsTue Mar 2, 2010 12:13pm ESTBy Marc Frank

HAVANA, March 2 (Reuters) – Cuba is offering foreign businesses 2percent annual interest over five years as part of a plan to repayhundreds of millions of dollars in bank accounts frozen by thecash-strapped government, diplomatic and business sources said this week.

The government is hoping the interest payments will encourage companiesto keep doing business with import-dependent Cuba while the countrygradually unblocks the frozen accounts. The aim is to do this withoutdepleting communist-led Cuba's financial reserves.

The offer from the state-run banks consists of monthly payments overfive years at 2 percent interest, with the proviso that payments can bemissed without penalty when money is not available.

"Some people are taking the deal. At least the funds go from anonperforming asset at no interest to a performing certificate ofdeposit," one western commercial officer said.

"The alternative seems to be nothing. It's an offer you can't refuse,"he told Reuters.

Cuban banks first informed depositors in November 2008 that they had noforeign exchange to back up the convertible peso, or CUC, in which manywere doing business.

At the time many traders sold their wares in exchange for CUCs, whichbanks honored at an exchange rate of $1.08 per unit, handing over cashor transferring funds out of the country.

But the banks told them that devastation from three 2008 hurricanes,wild price swings for imports and the country's main export, nickel, andthe international financial crisis so depleted Cuba of cash that"temporary" holds had to be placed on their accounts.

FROZEN ACCOUNTS

At one point, in February 2009, hundreds of suppliers, joint venturesand other companies had an estimated $1 billion frozen in Cuba's banks.

In August 2009, the government released part of the blocked money socompanies would continue selling to the country.

Suppliers since then have sought payments either offshore or withletters of credit stamped "CL," instructing banks to clear the funds.

Upon receiving Cuba's payment plan offer, some companies have asked forsome of the blocked funds up front, and others for a higher interestrate, sources said.

But attempts to bargain over the offer are met with a shrug, a "we willget back to you" and an explanation that it is not up to the banks, saidthe sources, all of whom wished to remain anonymous for fear ofretaliation by the government.

"The message is that the suppliers have had a good business with highmargins over the years, and might have them again if they stick it out,"a European commercial attache said.

The government has provided no information about the number and amountsof the frozen accounts, but said in a Decemberspeech, "The amount of blocked funds has been reduced by more than a third."

"We ratify our firm willingness to honor to the last penny our debts, inrelation to the possibilities of the ," he told the CubanNational Assembly.

The offer does not extend to joint venture partners and foreigncompanies administering hotels and banks. They also have had moneydifficulties with the Cuban government, but are said to be working outtheir own arrangements to recover funds.

Cuban officials told the National Assembly in December the country'seconomic crisis had stabilized, but government spending would be limitedin 2010. (Editing by Jeff Franks and Andrew Hay)

Cuba offers payback plan for frozen bank accounts | Reuters (2 March 2010)http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0215925320100302

Che Guevara serves as false example

Che Guevara serves as false exampleEric ReedIssue date: 3/3/10 Section: Opinion

The face of Che Guevara has become an icon for the spirit of revolution;however, his actions prove that he was anything but the stoic, selflessand idealistic leader that many think he was.

Before you buy a T-shirt with his face printed on the front and stareboldly into the distance shouting, "Viva la revolucion," let me bring afew of his less attractive qualities to light.

It's important that you first know Che was aggressively anti-American,and spoke out violently against capitalism and democracy. He called us"Yankee imperialists." In fact, Che just about cried when Russia removednuclear weapons from Cuba. As quoted in "The Nuclear Deception" byServando Gonzalez, he stated: "If the missiles had remained, we wouldhave used them against the very heart of America including New York. Wemust never establish peaceful coexistence. "

For a man touted as an "idealistic ruler," Che had no concept ofjustice. In "The Cuban Revolution: Years of Promise" by Teo A. Babun, heis quoted as saying: "We don't need proof to execute a man. Arevolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate."

Che supposedly renounced material possessions and wealth, yet he lived apampered lifestyle with privileges incomprehensible to most Cubans. Infact, upon gaining power in Cuba, Che ran a wealthy family out of theirhome under the pretext that they were traitors. Their home, a beachsidemansion in Havana, was among the most luxurious in Cuba.Che is idolized by those who wish to transcend political partisanshipdespite his famous statement: "My friends are friends only so long asthey think as I do politically."

Despite a reputation for being a successful socialist, Che was a failureas an economist. As Cuba's minister of and minister ofindustries he transformed what was one of the most prosperous countriesat the time into a third world country. Within the first year of hisadministration the Cuban peso, which had historically been comparable tothe U.S. dollar, was worth almost nothing. Cuba's industry was crippled,and as a result the lower class was left starving.

The bloodiest revolutions in Cuban history weren't led by Che, butagainst him. Peasants, disillusioned with Che, staged a revolt againstthe government in the Escambray Rebellion, an event similar to the Bayof Pigs.

The consequences were extreme for everybody who lived in the rural areawhere the rebellion was staged. Cuban militia units burned down homesacross the countryside, and imprisoned hundreds of thousands of ruralresidents in concentration camps. More than 70 percent of the guerrillasfighting against Prime Minister 's totalitarian regime wereexecuted upon capture. The " fighter" is better known throughoutCuba as "the butcher," a man who suppressed any attempt at revolutionwith .

Che continued his murderous agenda as the overseer of La Cabanafortress, a Cuban military . In his book "Che Guevara: ABiography" Daniel James wrote Che willingly admitted to several thousandexecutions during the first year of Castro's regime. Che performed manyof these executions personally. When he couldn't fire the shot himselfhe watched from his office where he had a wall knocked out to overlookthe execution yard.

Many Americans are blindly devoted to this seemingly heroic character,but their enthusiasm may unknowingly promote ideas and philosophies thatthey themselves find unethical. Che was a terrorist, murderer, socialistand at heart. Those who proudly wear the face of Che are makingone of two statements. The first is that they support violence,injustice and tyranny. The second is a blatant announcement of their ownignorance.

Che Guevara serves as false example – Opinion (2 March 2010)http://media.www.dixiesunlink.com/media/storage/paper1365/news/2010/03/03/Opinion/Che-Guevara.Serves.As.False.Example-3882535.shtml

Cuba swoops on mourners

Cuba swoops on mourners5:40 AM Wednesday Mar 3, 2010

The Cuban Government detained at least 126 people, including blogger Yoani Sanchez, in a crackdown after the hunger strike death of Orlando Tamayo, a group saidyesterday.

Many were attending or en route to Zapata's funeral on Friday in theeastern city of Banes when they were detained, most for less than 24hours, said Elizardo Sanchez, spokesman for the independent Cuban HumanRights Commission.

He said the Government was attempting to prevent protests over Zapata'sdeath, which was condemned internationally and prompted calls from theUnited States and Europe for Cuba to release its estimated 200 politicalprisoners.

Cuba swoops on mourners – World – NZ Herald News (2 March 2010)http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10629552

Cuban dissident died because nobody listened, laments Paya

Cuban died because nobody listened, laments Paya

Havana, Cuba, Mar 2, 2010 / 02:53 pm (CNA).- The founder and leader ofthe Christian Liberation Movement, , said this weekend thatthe death of Cuban dissident Orlando was due to the lazy reactionof the political world to warnings of his arrest and the abuse hereceived in .

In an article published on his website www.oswaldopaya.org, theChristian Liberation Movement (CLM) leader said, "Before theheartbreaking death of Orlando, we made repeated calls on this websiteand other media sources to save the life of Orlando Zapata."

"Other Cuban democracy supporters, in Cuba and abroad, did the same."He added that "Reina, Orlando's mother, even showed the t-shirt of herson bloodied from abuse in prison, and almost nobody listened."

"This was just like when Pedro Luis Boitel went on a hunger strike in1972, or when many years before, Che ordered executions by firing squadat La Cabana. In short, over the last 51 years…almost nobody haslistened to the Cubans," Paya lamented.

Paya said that he has been inundated with requests by the media forinterviews about the Zapata case, but he wondered: "How long before theyagain forget about the suffering of the Cubans? Will another brotherhave to die for them to listen?"

He then called on the media and nations around the world to act now tosecure the release of all political prisoners and thus avoid anothertragedy.

Cuban dissident died because nobody listened, laments Paya :: CatholicNews Agency (CNA) (2 March 2010)http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/cuban_dissident_died_because_nobody_listened_laments_paya/

Cuban crimes and U.S. apologists

Cuban crimes and U.S. apologistsPosted By José R. Cárdenas Tuesday, March 2, 2010 – 6:12 PM Share

As if the world needed further reminding, in recent weeks there havebeen two events that underscore the unremitting brutality of the Castroregime in Cuba. Just last week, human rights activists reported on thedeath of political Orlando Zapata Tamayo after an 83-day hungerstrike. An Amnesty International , Zapata Tamayowas a 42-year-old Afro-Cuban who was serving a 36-yearsentence for the Orwellian crime of "dangerousness." Amnesty lamented,"Faced with a prolonged prison sentence, the fact that Orlando ZapataTamayo felt he had no other avenue available to him but to starvehimself in protest is a terrible indictment of the continuing repressionof political dissidents in Cuba." Indeed.

In the second incident, last December, American citizen Alan wasjumped by Cuban state security agents as he attempted to leave Cubaafter providing communications equipment to help apolitical Cuban Jewishgroups access the . He has been held since in a cell in thenotorious Villa Marista state security headquarters in Havana.

One would think that decent people everywhere would be appalled at theseoutrageous assaults on and human dignity, and thankfully mostare. (A searing Washington Post editorial here on the death of ZapataTamayo.) Unfortunately, that doesn't include the dogged legions ofcritics of U.S.-Cuba policy who can find no criminal act by the Castroregime that cannot be explained or excused.

Even an action as heinous as the death of a political prisoner won'tdissuade them. The incessantly critical Center for Democracy in theAmericas (!) "laments" the death of Zapata Tamayo, but "joins…othersin urging changes in Cuba policy as the right response."

Not to be outdone in bad taste, another critic, Phil Peters of theLexington Institute, points visitors to his to a Cuban governmentstatement on medical attention given to Orlando Zapata before his death,before, er, chiding the Castro regime that it is responsible for thewell-being of prisoners in its custody, just as the United States is"for prisoners it holds at Guantanamo or anywhere else." Mr. Petersapparently fails to see the obscenity of comparing captured terroriststo a Cuban prisoner of conscience.

In the case of arrested American Alan Gross, the twisted perspective isequally contemptible. Gross was in Cuba under a USAID program that beganduring the Clinton Administration to provide material support tofamilies of Cuban political prisoners and human rights activists. Theprogram was expanded by the U.S. Congress during the Bush Administrationto encompass "New Media" technology — including Internet access andcell phones — for Cubans wishing to carve out some semblance ofindependent space on the island.

One would think that a fellow American jailed by a totalitarian regimefor trying to help its people would cause these commentators to closeranks behind the unfortunate individual, but they are perfectly willingto throw him to the wolves. Julia Sweig of the Council on ForeignRelations helpfully echoes the regime's rationale in the WashingtonPost, "I believe the Cubans arrested him to force the U.S. government tofocus on the provocative nature of these aid programs, which aredesigned to push for regime change."

The dean of Castro apologists, Wayne Smith of the Center forInternational Policy, throws Mr. Gross an anchor when he intones to theMiami Herald, "Maybe he was up to something he shouldn't have been up to."

An anti- blog, The Havana Note, offers this message of solidarity:

"The issue is not only the US magnifying the importance and sayingnice things about marginal political opponents of a government everyoneelse in the world but we recognize, but also that it subsidizes themwhile maintaining a harsh embargo on and trade."

It is a wonder the Castro regime pays anyone to write its propagandawhen there are so many outside Cuba so willing to carry the regime's water.

Finally, elsewhere on this site the ubiquitous Mr. Peters is back at it,penning the equivalent of a Castro ransom note for the unfortunate Mr.Gross: "It would be far better if a long-overdue review [of U.S.-Cubapolicy] were prompted by something other than Gross's arrest" (althoughhe is willing to allow it to be prompted by just that). He says Obama "would do well to slash or scrap USAID's Cuba program"because "current policies play naively and directly into the hands ofCuban state security." Not only is he oblivious to the irony of his ownrecommendation playing precisely into Havana's hands — arrest anAmerican, shut down the aid program — but he appears unconcerned aboutthe dangerous signal that would send around the world about America'swillingness to stand by oppressed peoples seeking respect for theirinalienable rights.

From these morally bankrupt perspectives, the problem in Cuba is not abrutal, unrepentant, and unreformed Stalinist regime, but a U.S. policythat attempts to help Cubans connect with the outside world beyondregime control or claim their essential freedoms. America should countits blessings such a mindset never prevailed during the Cold War, lestthe Berlin Wall still be standing.

The double standard regarding Cuba has been a source of enduringfrustration for Cuba democracy advocates. Just last year, regionalleaders invited Cuba back into the fold of the Organization of AmericanStates, despite its five decades of rigged one-party "elections," yetcontinue to shun democratic and peaceful Honduras. The world rightlyhonors a long-serving political prisoner like Nelson Mandela, butcouldn't name one of several Cuban political prisoners who served longersentences in the Cuban gulag than Mandela's 27 years in South Africanprisons. Activists demanded U.S. intervention in Pinochet's tosupport regime change there, but any such effort to support democraticforces in Cuba is deemed "illegitimate."

Of course, international human rights organizations have been forced toconfront the regime's systematic abuse of human rights, but they alsoinsist on getting their licks in on the United States, as if U.S. policyforces the regime to assault dissidents in the streets or deny Cubanstheir fundamental freedoms.

It is a sad state of affairs, and one that show no signs of abating.Obviously, activists are in a state of panic as they see their dreams ofan Obama Administration unilaterally and unconditionally normalizingrelations with the Castro regime evaporating into thin air. Clearly, noU.S. President is going to risk the dignity of his office reaching hishand out to a thug regime that demonstrates no willingness to abide byany elementary norms of civilized behavior.

No question there are some sincere critics of current policy thatbelieve opening up Cuba to U.S. trade and travel will transform Cubainto a Jeffersonian democracy. But they fail to understand the truenature of the Castro brothers' regime. A unilateral reversal of U.S.policy at this point would accomplish nothing but making the UnitedStates an accomplice in the Castro regime's continued crimes again theCuban people.

Cuban crimes and U.S. apologists | Shadow Government (2 March 2010)http://shadow.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/03/02/cuban_crimes_and_us_apologists

Cuba: Fatal hunger strike creates a martyr

Cuba: Fatal hunger strike creates a martyrA bricklayer has electrified the community and dimmedprospects of changing international Cuba policies.By Nick MiroffPublished: March 2, 2010 11:12 ET

HAVANA, Cuba — Orlando Tamayo wasn't a prominent voice in Cuba'ssmall opposition movement. He wasn't one of the dissident activists whomforeign reporters often call for quotes, and he didn't have a or anacademic degree.

But when the 42-year-old bricklayer died Feb. 23 after an 85-day hungerstrike in prison, he made a powerful protest statement that haselectrified the island's fragmented dissident community and brought aflood of fresh criticism to Cuba's record.

For the Cuban government, Zapata's death has been a public relationsdisaster, particularly in Europe, where Spanish newspapers have devotedextensive coverage to the story. 's influential daily El Paispublished nearly 20 articles and editorials on Zapata's death in the sixdays following his death, and several leading U.S. papers have alsocondemned the Castro government.

The cascade of negative press comes at a particularly bad time forHavana, as Spain's socialist government has been pushing to change the's common position on Cuba, which calls for human rightsimprovements as a condition for better relations. Now, analysts say theuproar in Europe over Zapata's death will make changes to Cuba-EUrelations unlikely.

The episode has also further dimmed the prospects of changes to U.Spolicy at a time when tensions were already high following the Dec. 3arrest of a U.S. contractor, Alan Gross, working on behalf of the U.S.Agency for International Development. The 60-year-old Maryland residentwas for distributing satellite equipment on the islandand is being held in a maximum-security prison, though he has not beenformally charged.

With Gross' arrest, and now Zapata's death, the new effort in Congressto lift the ban on American travel to Cuba and ease restrictions on sales to the island will also likely face intensified opposition.

Even Rep. Jim McGovern, the Massachusetts Democrat who has been aleading voice for Cuba policy reform in Congress, told the Miami Heraldthat the Castro government "should have intervened earlier to preventthis tragedy," adding "his death is on their conscience."

Cuba has been slow to respond to the criticism, though in recent days,it has increasingly challenged the version of events — and the versionof Zapata's character — put forth by dissident activists and foreigneditorials.

On Monday evening, Cuban state television broadcast a lengthy reportthat featured interviews with several doctors who treated Zapata,detailing the medical care he received and the problems thatensued from his staunch refusal to eat. The report was the first mentionof Zapata on Cuban television since his death, and for many ordinaryCubans, it was likely to be the first time they'd ever heard of him.

The television report also included what appeared to be secretly tapedfootage of Zapata's mother, Reina Tamayo, who has accused the Cubangovernment of "murdering" her son. In the footage, she appears inmeetings with Zapata's doctors, thanking them effusively for their care,while the confidentiality of the meeting vanishes through a hidden lensfilming from somewhere inside the doctor's desk.

"Our relations with his family were cordial," one of Zapata's physicianssays in the report, which goes on to use more secretly taped recordingsto allege that anti-Castro groups in Miami had plotted to manipulateZapata's hunger strike for political gain, showing little concern forhis health.

Cuba's communist party newspaper Granma also tried to undercut Zapata'shallowed image over the weekend with an article describing him as a"common criminal" who had been manipulated by anti-Castro "mercenaries"in the service of U.S. foreign policy. It listed several prior criminalconvictions on Zapata's record, including an assault conviction in 2000after he fractured another man's skull with a machete.

Still, it was unclear why Cuban authorities — who often complain ofunfair coverage in the foreign press — had allowed so much time to passbefore providing information about Zapata that would contrast with whathis supporters were saying. Their efforts at damage control are probablytoo late to alter the heroic image of Zapata that was erected by Cubandissidents in the days following his death.

They have depicted him as a humble, courageous everyman who facednumerous beatings and abuses in prison, ultimately turning to the hungerstrike as a last-resort form of protest. His refusal to wear a uniformand frequent clashes with prison guards stretched a three-year prisonterm — for crimes that included "resistance" and "disrespectingauthority"— into a 25-year sentence.

He was considered a " of conscience" by Amnesty International —one of about 200 political prisoners currently held in Cuban jails,according to rights activists and Western governments.

The island's dissident community, meanwhile, has been galvanized byZapata's death. Scattered groups of bloggers, reformers, human rightsactivists, hardliners and others say their differences have beensmoothed over with Zapata's emergence as a martyr.

"It's had a catalyzing effect," said human rights activist ElizardoSanchez. "We've all speaking with one voice." Sanchez said severaldissidents have launched their own hunger strikes since Zapata's death,and that symbolic acts of protest would continue from opposition membersinside and outside prison. What's not clear is how many ordinary Cubanswill notice.

Cuba dissident death | Orlando Zapata Tamayo (2 March 2010)http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/cuba/100302/hunger-strike-dissident-death

Cuba TV report denies gov’t let hunger striker die

Posted on Monday, 03.01.10Cuba TV report denies gov't let hunger striker dieBy WILL WEISSERTAssociated Press Writer

HAVANA, Cuba — Cuba devoted nearly a third of its official newscastMonday night to denying that state doctors purposely let a jailed die from a hunger strike.

It claimed the case, which sparked an international outcry, beganbecause the victim wanted television and other comforts in his cell.

Orlando Tamayo died Feb. 23 after refusing food since December,the first Cuban victim of a hunger strike in 40 years. Imprisoned in2003 for disrespecting authority, he was sentenced to 25 years foractivism behind bars and was considered a " of conscience" byAmnesty International.

A wide range of figures, from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary RodhamClinton to socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez ofSpain, decried the death. They called on Cuba to free all its politicalprisoners, which groups say number around 200.

On Monday, state-controlled television aired a report that stretchednearly 10 minutes during the half-hour news program, which is broadcastsimultaneously on three of Cuba's five national TV channels.

Doctors who treated Zapata Tamayo, a 42-year-old construction worker,said they tried to get him to eat.

"We explained to him the consequences of his decision at every turn andhow much he was endangering his life with this. But he kept it up," saidMaria Ester Hernandez, identified as a doctor for Interior Ministryofficials.

There was also footage of his mother, , thanking "thebest doctors for trying to give Orlando life." It seemed to have beenshot with a hidden camera as she spoke inside a doctor's office.

The afternoon of her son's death, Tamayo did interviews with radiostations in Florida shouting that Cuba's government had let her son diebecause he dared oppose the Castro government.

The TV report even included an interview with a nutritionist whoexplained the effects of a hunger strike on the body.

Human rights groups say Zapata Tamayo was refusing food to drawattention to Cuba's human rights record and its treatment of politicalprisoners. The newscast contended he refused food because authoritieswouldn't put a TV set, a stove and a phone in his cell.

Zapata Tamayo was jailed in his native Banes – the same eastern townwhere married his first wife – but was eventuallytransferred to Havana. The night before he died, he was taken to a .

Raul Castro took the unprecedented step last week ofexpressing public regret about the death. He said Zapata Tamayo wastreated by top doctors and denied he was tortured.

State newspapers, meanwhile, have described Zapata Tamayo as a commoncriminal falsely elevated to martyr status.

Also Monday, Fidel Castro released an opinion column that was read onthe same newscast. He made no mention of Zapata Tamayo by name, butdefended Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who some havecriticized for visiting Cuba as part of a trip that began hours afterZapata Tamayo died.

"Lula has know for many years that our country has never torturedanyone, never ordered the murder of an adversary, never lied to itspeople," Castro wrote.

Cuba dismisses dissidents as paid agents of Washington, out to topplethe government.

Shortly before the newscast, the Cuban Commission on Human Rights andNational Reconciliation – which the government does not recognize butlargely allows to operate – released a statement saying 115 oppositionactivists and other Zapata Tamayo supporters were detained following hisdeath and held long enough to miss his funeral in Banes.

Most of those hailed from eastern Cuba and were released aftera short time, the commission said.

Cuba TV report denies gov't let hunger striker die – Americas AP -MiamiHerald.com (1 March 2010)http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/03/01/1507501/cuba-tv-report-denies-govt-let.html

They lack any vestige of decency

Posted on Tuesday, 03.02.10`They lack any vestige of decency'BY CARLOS ALBERTO MONTANERwww.firmaspress.com

`Today, Feb. 25, we're burying him,'' shouted Reina, the distraughtmother, in an interview with a European TV network.

She was like a wounded beast. “It was premeditated murder,'' shecharged as she wept. She is a black, humble woman, like her son, asimple mason who wanted to be free. Reina wanted to carry her son in herarms to the cemetery, accompanied by a few distraught friends, all ofthem opposition democrats.

She couldn't. The political refused. Always the political ,intimidating, punishing, browbeating society so it may obey in silence.They're like the dogs that herd the sheep.

Poor mothers! Some weeks ago, a mother like Reina — though older andwhite — died in Cuba, Gloria Amaya. Three of her sons went to .One of them, Ariel Sigler Amaya, is being killed for being a rebel, sameas happened to Orlando Tamayo. He entered prison weighing 90kilos. Today, he weighs 50 and needs a wheelchair. He doesn't have longto live, his brother tells me.

Doña Gloria, a fragile, small elderly woman, had two ribs broken by thepolitical police, who kicked her in the chest. She had protested becausethey were mistreating her son, a political , and was almostkilled for her efforts. From the floor, twisting in agony, she continuedto beg for her son's release. Yet Raúl Castro says that no one istortured in Cuba. Liar!

Zapata Tamayo's death has three serious internal consequences for thedictatorship of the brothers Castro. For the opposition democrats inthat country, that sacrifice reinforces the commitment to fight. Perhapsit's a feature of our culture: Loyalty to those who gave up their livesis never betrayed.

But Zapata Tamayo's blood has another internal effect. It shames thecommunists. It demoralizes and weakens them. It places them on the sideof the murderers. Some years ago, when the political police exterminatedby drowning 32 persons who were trying to flee aboard a boat called the13 de Marzo, most of them women and children, many militants quit theParty, filled with repugnance. That was too much.

Outside Cuba, this new crime galvanizes the exiles in support of a justcause. The day Orlando died, the news most widely diseminated by Twitterwas that. A wave of anger and solidarity surged through a dispersedcommunity that numbers close to three million, descendants included.

Newspapers 'round the world gave front-page treatment to the grim newscoming from Havana. Many television stations began their newscasts byreporting what had happened in words filled with consternation. Theimage of the dictatorship crashed loudly to the ground and that noise,of course, had a deep political repercussion.

It is expected that Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos willend his absurd campaign to demolish the 's common stancetoward the Cuban dictatorship. No greater stubbornness has ever beenseen in the defense of a dishonorable cause than Moratinos' effort tobenefit the Castros' tyranny.

The Cuban apparatus of defamation is preparing its counterattack, ofcourse. One of its minor pawns began by saying that those who condemnedthis horrendous death wept crocodile tears. Others will say that ZapataTamayo was a common criminal or a terrorist in the service of the CIA.

They lack any vestige of decency. They'll say anything. But theunassailable truth is something else, as his mother, Reina, shoutedthrough tears — Orlando was murdered with premeditation because heasked for for himself and his people. His example will weigh fora long time on the history of Cuba.

`They lack any vestige of decency' – Other Views – MiamiHerald.com (2March 2010)http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/03/02/1507492/they-lack-any-vestige-of-decency.html

Cuba obtains domestic cabbage seed for the first time

Cuba obtains domestic cabbage seed for the first time

The species was created by specialists of the Institute NationalFundamental Research Tropical Agriculture and cultivated by framer ArielGonzalez Molerio of the Jose Marti Credit and Services Cooperative.

Adolfo Nodals Rodriguez, head of urban and suburban agriculture, toldACN news agency, in a recent visit to Ciego de Avila, this result ispart of a program to reduce imports of vegetable seeds and at the sametime aims at greater production per area.

He said that Cuba purchases abroad two-thirds of the seed that theannual demand to fill horticulture and it is necessary to substitutethis import entirely with local productions.

The cabbage harvested by Gonzalez Molerio reached at 65 days of itsplanting, its maximum development with profits of over eight tons peracre, a 20 percent higher than other varieties, said the Gonzalez inmeeting with other farmers.

This initiative will be extended to other cooperatives Ciego de Avilaand state farms, said José Manuel León, Agriculture specialist in thiscentral province.

Cabbage is rich in vitamins A, B, C, E and minerals, it helps fightbreast, lung, stomach, ovary and colon cancers, counteracts obesity andis effective in those have osteoporosis, according to studies.

Source: escambray.cu

Publication date: 3/2/2010

Cuba obtains domestic cabbage seed for the first time (2 March 2010)http://www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=59770

One-Quarter of Americans Now Believe Cuba is an Enemy of the U.S

One-Quarter of Americans Now Believe Cuba is an Enemy of the U.S.

Public divided on policy towards Cuba, but many say Obamashould visit Cuba

Press Release Source: Harris Interactive On Tuesday March 2, 2010, 5:00am EST

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Almost fifty years ago the eyes of the worldwere on the interplay between the United States and Cuba during the Bayof Pigs and then the Cuban Missile Crisis. Luckily, those thirteen dayspassed with no major escalation, but the stage was set for ice-coldrelations between the two countries for most of the next five decades.

Now, almost one-quarter of Americans (23%) still say that the governmentof Cuba is unfriendly and an enemy of the United States while almosttwo-thirds (63%) say Cuba's government is not friendly, but not anenemy. Just one in ten (12%) say Cuba is a friend but not a close allywhile 2% believe Cuba is a close ally. There is an age difference inattitude towards Cuba. Over one-third (35%) of those 55 and older saythat Cuba is unfriendly and an enemy while just one in ten (10%) ofthose 18-34 say the same.

These are some of the results of BBC World News America/Harris Poll of2,050 adults surveyed online between January 13 and 15, 2010 by HarrisInteractive.

While Cuba may no longer be considered an enemy by a majority ofAmericans, it does not mean people are ready to embrace the governmentcompletely. More than two in five U.S. adults (44%) believe it is toosoon for normal relations to be restored with Cuba while 38% disagreewith that idea. One issue that is also splitting Americans is the as two in five (40%) say the towards Cuba should remainin effect and 36% say it should not remain in effect any longer. With no longer in power, two in five U.S. adults (39%) agreethat Cuba has changed for the better while 29% disagree and one-third(32%) are not at all sure.

Looking at who would like to visit Cuba confirms that most people arenot ready to embrace the country yet. While two in five (38%) say theywould like to visit Cuba if possible almost half of Americans (49%) saythey would not. And, again, there is an age difference here as three inten of those 55 and older (30%) say they would want to visit Cuba ifpossible compared to 43% of those 18-34 and 46% of those 35-44. There isalso a gender difference on visiting Cuba. Almost half of men (47%)would like to visit Cuba if possible compared to just 30% of women.

Relationship with Cuba

Three-quarters of Americans (75%) say the relationship with Cuba isimportant while 25% say it is not important. And one reason for thisimportance could be the possible business possibilities. Some haveargued that there is a large business potential for Americancorporations in Cuba that is lacking because of the trade embargo. Overhalf of U.S. adults (57%) say there are missed opportunities for U.S.businesses and 17% say there are not. One quarter of Americans (25%) arenot at all sure.

When he took office, President Obama said he was going to make overturesto Cuba and attempt to better relations between the two countries. Sofar he has lifted some restrictions for Cuban Americans to visitthe island. Three in ten Americans (29%) say this is not enough of anoverture while 35% believe it is enough of one and 10% say it is too much.

While almost half of Americans do not want to visit Cuba, the samenumber (49%) believe President Obama should visit Cuba at some pointduring his presidency while one-quarter (25%) say maybe he should visitwhen Fidel Castro dies and 26% say no, he should not ever visit Cuba.Again, age matters as 35% of those 55 and older say President Obamashould not visit Cuba while 54% of those 18-34 say he should visit Cubaduring his presidency.

So what?

Fifty years is a long time but these findings suggest that, at least forolder people, memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis last. Attitudes onmany issues on Cuba are very different depending on if one is over orunder 55 years old. And, even though he isn't in power any longer, FidelCastro is still a presence. Once he is no longer there, attitudes maychange further.

TABLE 1CUBA'S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE US"Thinking of the government of Cuba, do you believe it is a close allyof the United States, a friend but not a close ally, is not friendly butnot an enemy, or is unfriendly and an enemy of the United States?"Base: All Adults Total Age 18-34 35-44 45-54 55+ % % % % %A close ally 2 3 1 1 1A friend, but not a close ally 12 19 13 12 6Not friendly, but not an enemy 63 68 66 59 58Unfriendly and an enemy 23 10 20 28 35

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 2PERCEPTIONS OF CUBA"How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?"(Strongly/Somewhat Agree)Base: All Adults AGREE (NET) Strongly agree Somewhat agree DISAGREE (NET) Strongly disagree Somewhat disagree Not atall sureIt is too soon for normal relations to be restored with Cuba % 44 19 25 38 21 16 19The embargo towards Cuba should remain in effect % 40 17 23 36 19 17 24Now that Fidel Castro is no longer in power, Cuba has changed for thebetter % 39 7 32 29 17 13 32If possible, I would like to visit Cuba % 38 17 21 49 15 34 12

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 3PERCEPTIONS OF CUBA – BY AGE AND GENDER"How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?"(Strongly/Somewhat Agree)Base: All Adults Total Age Gender18-34 35-44 45-54 55+ Male Female% % % % % % %It is too soon for normal relations to be restored with Cuba. 4436 43 47 49 41 46The embargo towards Cuba should remain in effect. 40 28 39 47 49 40 40Now that Fidel Castro is no longer in power, Cuba has changed for thebetter. 39 44 43 36 33 41 37If possible, I would like to visit Cuba. 38 43 46 39 30 47 30

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 4IMPORTANCE OF RELATIONSHIP WITH CUBA"How important is the relationship between the United States and Cuba?"Base: All Adults Total Age Gender 18-34 35-44 45-54 55+ Male Female % % % % % % %Very/Somewhat Important (NET) 75 74 80 72 76 70 80Very important 19 19 18 20 20 21 18Somewhat important 56 55 63 52 56 50 62Not At All/Not That Important (NET) 25 26 20 28 24 30 20Not that important 19 22 18 20 17 22 17Not at all important 5 4 2 8 7 7 3

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 5US TO CUBA OVERTURES"President Obama said he was going to make overtures to Cuba and attemptto better relations between the two countries. So far he has lifted sometravel restrictions for Cuban Americans to visit the island. Do youthink this is enough or not enough of an overture?"Base: All Adults

Total Age Gender 18-34 35-44 45-54 55+ Male Female % % % % % % %Too much 10 4 6 13 14 12 7Enough 35 33 36 35 35 32 38Not enough 29 31 27 30 30 37 22Not at all sure 26 32 31 21 21 19 33

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 6US BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES IN CUBA"Some have argued that there is a large business potential for Americancorporations in Cuba that they are missing because of the trade embargo.Are there missed opportunities for US businesses?"Base: All Adults Total Age Gender 18-34 35-44 45-54 55+ Male Female % % % % % % %Definitely/Probably Are (NET) 57 55 58 63 56 67 49Definitely are 16 13 14 21 16 22 10Probably are 42 42 44 42 40 45 39Definitely/Probably Are Not (NET) 17 16 13 17 22 17 17Probably are not 11 13 9 10 12 10 12Definitely are not 6 3 4 7 11 7 5Not at all sure 25 29 29 20 22 16 34

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 7PRESIDENT OBAMA VISITING CUBA"Do you think President Obama should visit Cuba?"Base: All Adults Total Age 18-34 35-44 45-54 55+ % % % % %Yes, he should visit Cuba at some point during his Presidency 49 54 52 47 45Maybe, when Fidel Castro dies 25 29 25 25 21No, he should not ever visit Cuba 26 17 23 28 35

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

Methodology

This BBC World News America/Harris Poll was conducted online within theUnited States February 11 and 15, 2010 among 2,050 adults (aged 18 andover). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, , region andhousehold income were weighted where necessary to bring them into linewith their actual proportions in the population. Propensity scoreweighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probabilitysampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most oftennot possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverageerror, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with questionwording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as theyare misleading. All that can be calculated are different possiblesampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted,random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoreticalbecause no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who haveagreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have beenweighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because thesample is based on those who agreed to participate in the HarrisInteractive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can becalculated

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising,marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of HarrisInteractive.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the NationalCouncil on Public Polls.

The Harris Poll® #29, March 2, 2010By Regina A. Corso, Director, The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market researchfirms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transformrelevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the HarrisPoll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offersexpertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare,technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financialservices, insurance, media, retail, , and consumer packagegoods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through ourNorth American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independentmarket research firms, Harris specializes in delivering researchsolutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next.For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

About the BBC AMERICA

BBC AMERICA brings audiences a new generation of award-winningtelevision featuring news with a uniquely global perspective,provocative dramas, razor-sharp comedies and life-changing makeovers.BBC AMERICA pushes the boundaries to deliver high quality, highlyaddictive and eminently watchable programming to viewers who demandmore. BBC AMERICA is distributed by Discovery Networks. It is availableon digital cable and satellite TV in more than 64 million homes. Forup-to-the-minute information on BBC AMERICA, forthcoming U.S. premieres,art work and news from the channel

One-Quarter of Americans Now Believe Cuba is an Enemy of the U.S. -Yahoo! Finance (2 March 2010)http://finance.yahoo.com/news/OneQuarter-of-Americans-Now-bw-2588182627.html?x=0&.v=1

Médicos oficiales recomiendan hospitalizar a periodista cubano en huelga

Publicado el martes, 03.02.10Médicos oficiales recomiendan hospitalizar a periodista cubano en huelgaPor AFPLA HABANA

Dos médicos del Gobierno cubano, que examinaron al periodista Guillermo Fariñas, en huelga de hambre y sed hace seis días en su casa, le recomendaron hospitalización pues está "muy deshidratado'', informó telefónicamente este martes un opositor presente.

"El lunes vinieron dos médicos y una enfermera del Gobierno, lo estuvieron examinando y lo encontraron muy deshidratado, con síntomas de deterioro notable'', dijo a la AFP Francisco Chaviano, quien dirige el movimiento "Agenda para la Transición'' y visita a Fariñas en Santa Clara (280 km al este de La Habana).

"Le recomendaron el ingreso (médico), ponerse sueros de hidratación'', y "le dijeron que se van a mantener al tanto del caso'', añadió Chaviano, quien fue liberado en agosto de 2007 luego de 13 años de cárcel.

Fariñas, un sicólogo de 48 años, que ha realizado más de 20 huelgas de hambre y ha estado tres veces por su actividad opositora, inició la protesta el miércoles pasado, tras las muerte un día antes del también huelguista y preso político Orlando , para exigir la de presos políticos enfermos.

Chaviano lamentó que, pese a la recomendación de los médicos, el periodista ''persiste'' en su protesta. "Diéramos cualquier cosa porque él dejara la huelga, es una gente muy valiosa " y "siempre es un riesgo'' para la vida.

La huelga de Fariñas fue secundada por otros cuatro presos políticos cubanos, dos de los cuales, Diosdado González, de 47 años, y Eduardo Díaz (58), depusieron el lunes la protesta, según dijo el activista Elizardo Sánchez, de la Comisión Cubana de y Reconciliación Nacional.

Sánchez precisó que Fidel Suárez (49) y Nelson Molinet (45), también presos desde 2003 en la región occidental de la isla y considerados "prisioneros de conciencia'' por Amnistía Internacional, continúan la protesta, al igual que Fariñas.

En un informe entregado a la prensa, la Comisión destacó que al menos 126 disidentes fueron detenidos temporalmente por fuerzas de seguridad del Gobierno, tras la muerte de Zapata, y que ya fueron todos liberados excepto Isael Poveda, quien "fue internado en una prisión de alta seguridad'' en Guantánamo (extremo este).

Según la oposición, en Cuba hay unos 200 presos políticos, 65 de ellos reconocidos como presos de conciencia por Amnistía Internacional, aunque el Gobierno cubano los considera "mercenarios'' al servicio de Estados Unidos.

Médicos oficiales recomiendan hospitalizar a periodista cubano en huelga - Cuba – ElNuevoHerald.com (2 March 2010)http://www.elnuevoherald.com/2010/03/02/666179/medicos-oficiales-recomiendan.html

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