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Daily Archives: March 10, 2010

Ailing Cuban hunger striker refuses treatment again

10 March 2010 – 19H55Ailing Cuban hunger striker refuses treatment again

AFP – A Cuban on a hunger strike for two weeks was diagnosed as suffering from heart arrhythmia and severe dehydration but again refused hospitalization, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Guillermo Farinas, 48, rejected a recommendation for his hospitalization made by physicians sent by the state, said Ismel Iglesias, a doctor who has been aiding the dissident told AFP by telephone from the city of Santa Clara.

Iglesias siad the two doctors sent by the government said Farinas was suffering from "heart arrhythmia and advanced dehydration."

But Iglesias said that Farinas "insists he will only (accept treatment) when he becomes unconscious."

The journalist has lost 13 kilos (28 pounds) since going on the hunger strike to seek the release of 26 political prisoners who are seeking medical treatment, Iglesias said.

"He is very fragile, dehydration is quite marked, his skin is dry and scaly and his eyes sunken," added Iglesias.

Farinas was hospitalized a week ago after losing consciousness due to hypoglycemia.

He has vowed to press ahead "to the end" with his protest fast, which he began the day after Orlando died on the 85th day of his own hunger strike.

Meanwhile, former political Felix Bonne, 70, who has been a member of the dissident "Democratic Cuban Alliance," said he would start his own hunger strike if Farinas dies.

The Cuban government earlier this week denounced the hunger strike as "blackmail" and rejected his demand to free 26 political prisoners needing medical care, according to the official Communist Party newspaper Granma.

France24 – Ailing Cuban hunger striker refuses treatment again (10 March 2010)

Inter RAO UES will open a mission in the Republic of Cuba

Inter RAO UES will open a mission in the Republic of Cuba09.03.2010, 23.53

MOSCOW, March 9 (Itar-Tass) — Russia's electricity export-import operator Inter RAO UES will open a mission in the Republic of Cuba, an official at the Russian company told Itar-Tass, summing up results of Tuesday's meeting of the Inter RAO UES Board of Directors.

"The mission will be set up to support the company's activities and efficient development of Inter RAO UES business presence in Cuba and in Latin American countries, as well as to take part in the creation of a joint venture," the official said.

"The joint venture will be set up by Inter RAO UES and Cuba's state-owned business company Union Electrica on the parity basis," the official added.

In his words, the joint venture's pilot project will focus on the upgrading and extending of the existing facilities of the Maximo Gomes Thermal Power Plant (capacity 600 megawatts) in the town of Mariel.

The main tasks of the joint venture embraces the power plant's management, upgrading of existing and construction of new electricity-generating units, as well as supply of equipment and required materials, the official said.

The Maximo Gomes TPP project is of strategic priority for the Cuban .

"It will be implemented in the format of the interstate agreements on the enhancement of Russian-Cuban energy cooperation," the Inter RAO UES official said.

"That is the long-term and infrastructure project, which envisages upgrading of four existing 100-megawatt power units and construction of two 100-megawatt power units," the official said.

Inter RAO UES is a Russian trans-national energy company, which controls several generation, distribution and trading assets in Russia and abroad.

The aggregate capacity of the power plants controlled by the company is about 18,000 megawatts. Inter RAO UES is a Russian electricity trading and holding company.

The present-day company, incorporated in 2008 as an open type corporation, is a successor to the eponymous company, which was established by RAO UES in May 1997 with the purpose to consolidate energy generation and sales on foreign markets.

As of July 2008, Inter RAO UES is owned by the state-run Russian Atomic Energy Agency (60 percent) and Russian Nuclear Energy Producer Energoatom (40 percent), but the company statute allows divestment of non-controlling shares to private investors.

The mission of Inter RAO UES is to organize cross-border deliveries of electricity, provide it to consumers in this country and abroad, make effective investments, and expand the range of services provided. The company consistently implements Russia's energy strategy as regards the Russian power industry reform by improving the performance of its trading operations and expanding its target markets and the scope of its activities.

Inter RAO UES is a fast growing transnational company. Currently, Inter RAO UES heads a group of more than 20 companies based in fourteen countries. By acquiring foreign assets, the company significantly consolidates its position in commercially attractive electricity markets in Europe, the South Caucasus, the Far East and Central Asia, fuelling the growth of the Russian economy.

ITAR-TASS (10 March 2010)

US to resume software exports to Cuba

US to resume software exports to CubaPublished on Wednesday, March 10, 2010By Mark Drajem

WASHINGTON, USA (Bloomberg) — The Treasury Department has changed its sanctions rules to let US companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. resume instant messaging, e-mail and social networking services in Cuba, Iran and Sudan.

The US issued new general licenses authorizing exports to the sanctioned nations of "software related to the exchange of personal communications over the " following a State Department request, the Treasury said in a statement today. The change is immediate and includes software publicly available at no cost to the user, according to the regulations.

"This software will foster and support the free flow of information — a basic human right," Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin said in the statement.

Microsoft and Google last year cut off the use of instant messages by citizens of Iran, Syria, Cuba and Sudan, saying US regulations prohibited the required downloads. The State Department made a public appeal to ease rules on software in December, saying people worldwide should have unfettered access to information, which is "essential to the national interest of the United States."

The new rules also allow the use of software for Web browsing, blogging, chat rooms and photo and movie sharing, according to the Treasury. The department's statement made no mention of Syria.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, ended access to Windows Live Messenger, its instant-messaging application, last year to meet obligations to not do business with markets on the US sanctions list.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, doesn't permit the download of Google Talk, its instant messaging and voice chat service, or of Google Earth, Google Desktop and other services in sanctioned nations.

"It makes sense" to ease the rules, Thomas Crocker, a lawyer at Alston & Bird LLP, said in an interview before the announcement. "What you are doing is undoing years of wanting to ban all commerce with Iran."

Caribbean Net News: US to resume software exports to Cuba (10 March 2010)

Cuba’s sugar industry hit by low productivity

Cuba's sugar industry hit by low productivityBy PAUL HAVENHAVANA

Production at Cuba's sugar plants has been hit hard this year by inefficiency, a spate of breakdowns and other technical problems, state-media reported Wednesday, adding to sobering news for the Communist-run island's crisis-addled .

Breakdowns and other interruptions have idled plants nearly 19 percent of the time so far in 2010, the Communist Party newspaper Granma said. A further 11 percent of production reportedly has been lost due to a lack of sugar cane.

The paper said problems were worst in the key sugar-growing region of Las Tunas, 360 miles (600 kilometers) east of the capital.

It also blamed poor planning and "a lack of discipline."

"Overcoming delays and meeting our goals require that those production centers in crisis eradicate their deficiencies and that the rest maintain their production levels or increase them," the paper said. "We must defeat a powerful enemy: lost industrial time."

The harvest and milling season begins each year in January and usually ends around April or May.

Sugar — once the be-all and end-all of Cuba's economy — now ranks no higher than third behind nickel production and , contributing about $600 million a year.

Never a juggernaut, Cuba's economy has been battered by the global economic crisis, a dip in world nickel prices and the effects of three devastating hurricanes that hit in 2008. The government controls 90 percent of the economy, paying low wages but heavily subsidizing , , and care.

has warned that the government will no longer be able to sustain such subsidies unless production increases dramatically.

Non-sugar agricultural production has also failed to meet targets this year in many parts of the country. In January and February, production around the capital was 40 percent below target, despite a major drive by the government to put more fallow land in the hands of individual farmers.

The tourism industry held up reasonably well in 2009 despite the economic crisis, with the number of visitors rising slightly but revenues falling 11 percent.

But 2010 has gotten off to a poor start: About 5 percent fewer tourists came to Cuba in January than during the same month last year.

Cuba's sugar industry hit by low productivity – BusinessWeek (10 March 2010)

Cuba experiments with private retail enterprise

Cuba experiments with private retail enterpriseBy Marc Frank, ReutersMarch 10, 2010 4:02 PM

Cuba's minister is pushing for less state intervention in one of the world's last Soviet-style economies, saying the government can no longer afford its all-encompassing control and paternalism, Communist Party sources say.

A man waits for clients at a watch repair shop in Havana March 10, 2010. Cuba's economy minister is pushing for less state intervention in one of the world's last Soviet-style economies, saying the government can no longer afford its all-encompassing control and paternalism, Communist Party sources say.Photograph by: Desmond Boylan, Reuters

HAVANA – Cuba nationalized all retail business in 1968, down to the shoe-shine shops, but in an attempt to stimulate the stagnant economy and reduce bureaucracy, it is experimenting with giving some of it back in a form of legal private enterprise.

By leasing some retail services to state employees, the government is testing cautious change in how the communist country operates small-scale business.

"We have begun experiments and are working on others to ease the burden on the state of some services it provides," Economy Minister Marino Murillo told the National Assembly at the close of 2009, without elaborating further.

Authorities have remained mum about their efforts, but a number of experiments are under way or about to be launched in Havana, a source with knowledge of local government activities, said.

The CubaTaxi office on Palatino Street in the Cerro municipality of the capital is home to one such experiment.

Thirty of the more than 2,000 state taxi drivers in the capital are leasing their vehicles rather than working for a wage, a small percentage of the tips and whatever they can pocket on the sly.

"You pay 595 convertible pesos for the car and then after a month 39 convertible pesos plus 40 pesos a day," said Elio, one of the drivers.

"You are responsible for maintaining the taxi and gas, but can buy parts and services from the state," he said.

The government pegs the convertible peso at $1.11 Cdn or 24 pesos.

"Overall the drivers are happy. There is still control over what we charge, but we are freer and earning more," Elio, who began driving a cab in 1986, said.

"I think this system is also better for the state which is guaranteed a net income with few headaches," he added.

The project will be evaluated in June, before being applied to other dispatch offices.


has fostered debate on what to do with the retail sector since taking over from brother two years ago, but has ruled out a shift back to capitalism.

The debate has spilled over into the official media with exposes over irregular supplies, low wages, employees jacking up prices and pocketing proceeds, all the while delivering poor service despite layers of bureaucracy designed to control such activities.

"The government is simply accepting what already exists, adopting new structures to legalize what was before viewed as theft and instead of spending a fortune on useless bureaucrats has begun collecting taxes," a local economist said, asking his name not be used.

In Central Havana and 10 de Octubre municipalities, beauty parlor employees were recently called to meetings and informed they would be leased their shops as cooperatives on an experimental basis.

"They said the hairdressers would be leased the premises without the administration and service employees," a participant said.

"You have to pay rent for the shop, costs such as water, electricity, materials and the wages of anyone you contract, for example a receptionist or to clean up," she said.

"You can charge whatever on the basis of supply and demand and have to pay taxes on your profits," she added.

The project was scheduled to begin this month but was postponed in part to consider objections and proposals put forward by the beauticians, she said.

State-subsidized materials arrive sporadically at the parlors and services cost anywhere from the equivalent of $0.20 Cdn (five pesos) for a shampoo to between $1.02 and $2.05 Cdn (25 pesos to 50 pesos) for hair-dyeing.

"We buy shampoo, conditioner, dye or what have you at state foreign exchange shops with a 240 per cent mark up, or get our friends to bring it in from Miami or Madrid," another beautician, who also asked her name not be used, said.

"Then we tell our clients there are no state supplies, but we bought them ourselves and will have to charge accordingly," she said.

Cuba experiments with private retail enterprise (10 March 2010)

Cuba says Sherritt nickel venture at record output

Cuba says Sherritt nickel venture at record outputWed Mar 10, 2010 8:41am EST

*Sherritt venture at 106 tonnes mixed sulfides per day*Cuban plant below capacity at 76 tonnes daily*Output at third plant unknown

HAVANA, March 10 (Reuters) – Canadian mining company Sherritt International's (S.TO) joint nickel venture in Cuba broke production records in February, while a second plant's output was 2 percent above plan, official media reported Wednesday.

"The Pedro Soto Alba plant produced 106 tonnes of mineral daily while the Ernesto Che Guevara plant reached 76 tonnes daily," Holguin province's television Cristal reported.

The two plants are located in Moa, Holguin province, the home of the industry.

Pedro Soto Alba is a joint venture between state monopoly Cubaniquel and Sherritt International.

The Che Guevara plant is owned by Cubaniquel, as is a third plant in neighboring Nicaro, the Rene Ramos Latourt plant.

At current production rates, the Pedro Soto Alba appeared on track toward output of around 38,000 tonnes of unrefined nickel plus cobalt, while the Che Guevara would weigh in at around 28,000 tonnes, well below its 32,000 tonne capacity.

There was no information on the Rene Ramos Latourt, the oldest plant with a capacity of 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes, which operated below capacity at various times last year.

Cuba's unrefined nickel plus cobalt production weighed in at 70,100 tonnes last year, according to the government.

Production at the Pedro Soto Alba plant was a record 37,328 tonnes, Sherritt International reported.

Hurricane Ike, a Category 3 storm, hit Cuba in September 2008 at Holguin's northern coast, where the nickel industry's three processing plants are located, damaging the two Cubaniquel plants, infrastructure, and buildings and swamping the area with torrential rains and a storm surge.

Output had averaged between 74,000 and 75,000 tonnes of unrefined nickel plus cobalt for much of the decade before that storm hit.

Nickel is essential in the production of stainless steel and other corrosion-resistant alloys. Cobalt is critical in production of super alloys used for such products as aircraft engines.

Cuban nickel is considered to be Class II, with an average 90 percent nickel content.

Cuba's National Minerals Resource Center reported that eastern Holguin province accounted for more than 30 percent of the world's known nickel reserves, with lesser reserves in other parts of the country. (Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by John Picinich)

Cuba says Sherritt nickel venture at record output | Reuters (10 March 2010)

UN torture expert hopes to visit Cuba this summer

UN torture expert hopes to visit Cuba this summerAssociated Press2010-03-10 11:12 PM

Manfred Nowak says he is negotiating dates with the Communist government. Cuba's foreign minister said last week that it wanted conditions on Nowak's visit.

Nowak told reporters in Geneva on Wednesday he was confident now, after several fruitless attempts to visit the island since 2005.

Cuba has blocked several proposed visits by U.N. Council investigators.

Nowak also slammed attempts by council members to suppress a report he co-authored on secret prisons. Russia, Pakistan and others said the report breached guidelines they have set for human rights experts.

Nowak says "I don't need a code of conduct."

UN torture expert hopes to visit Cuba this summer – Taiwan News Online (10 March 2010)

US loosens payment rules for food sales to Cuba

US loosens payment rules for sales to CubaPublished: 9:08PM Wednesday March 10, 2010Source: Reuters

The United States is easing rules for cash payments of agricultural sales to Cuba through September 2010, according to a document posted on the US Treasury Department's website.

The move is at least a temporary victory for US farmers whose trade with Cuba was complicated by payment rules issued by Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) during the administration of George Bush.

The loosening was approved by Congress in December in a provision added to a spending bill funding federal agencies for the rest of the 2010 fiscal year.

It will disappoint those in Congress who oppose any easing of trade sanctions against Cuba's communist government and see the move as ill-timed after the recent death of political Orlando Tamayo from a hunger strike.

The rule change can be found on OFAC's website at and is labeled a final rule, although the effective date is not given.

Farm sales were exempted in 2000 from the long-standing US on Cuba so long as Havana pays in advance for the goods and the money is handled by a third-country bank.

The Bush administration interpreted payment of cash in advance to mean Cuban buyers had to pay for the US farm goods before they left port for Cuba.Advertisement

OFAC's new regulations, which it said only covered the remainder of fiscal 2010, reinterprets payment of cash in advance to mean before title and control of the farm goods are transferred to the Cuban buyer.

That would allow Cuban buyers to pay for the goods just before they are unloaded in Cuba, lowering the financial cost of the transactions that are paid through third-country banks.

John Kavulich, a senior policy advisor at the US-Cuban Trade and Economic Council, said he doubted the rule change would lead to a big increase in US farm exports to Cuba.

"From a strictly commercial viewpoint, it's going to have very little benefit for Cuba," Kavulich said.

Even though Cuba decried the rule change in 2005, they continued to buy US farm goods with purchases reaching a record $710 million in 2008.

Purchases fell in 2009 to $528 million, but the decline reflected Cuba's dire economic situation much more than the OFAC rule, Kavulich said.

The House of Representatives Agriculture Committee has scheduled a hearing on Thursday on farm trade with Cuba.

Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, a Republican from Minnesota, has offered legislation to further ease food sales by allowing direct payments between US and Cuban banks and lifting restrictions on to Cuba by US citizens.

US loosens payment rules for food sales to Cuba | WORLD News (10 March 2010)

Castros Forever

Castros ForeverAnn Louise Bardach, the Western who's probably spent more time with the Castro family than any other, sounds off on life under Raúl, Cuba's growing dependence on , and why there's no end in sight to the Castro era.INTERVIEW BY ELIZABETH DICKINSON | MARCH 10, 2010

When stepped down in 2008, handing over power officially to his brother Raúl, few were surprised. But the effortless manner of the transition caught everyone off guard: After nearly a half-century as Cuba's strongman leader, Fidel largely disappeared from view, popping up only occasionally to prove his good or comment on international developments. Ann Louise Bardach, a journalist who has spent the last two decades following the ins and outs of Cuban politics, spending hours with the Castro family over that time, may have been the person best-placed in the world to chronicle the transition, which Fidel himself had prophesied to her years earlier in an interview.

Bardach's recently released Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana, and Washington is now the authoritative book about Cuba under Raúl. She spoke to Foreign Policy about how the two brothers differ, Cuba's dependence on Venezuelan Hugo Chávez, and why there's no end in sight to the Castro era.

Foreign Policy: I want to start by asking about Raúl Castro. What distinguishes his leadership from that of his brother?

Ann Louise Bardach: He is a below-the-radar guy. As much as Fidel craved the limelight, Raúl eschews the limelight. After the revolution, Fidel told Raúl that he wasn't much of a speaker, and so Fidel got [his brother] a speech teacher. But it never took. Raúl sort of delights in having almost a charisma deficit. It may be for the Cuban people that they've had too much charisma, so I can't say that it's to his [detriment]. The Cuban people may have heard all they need to hear for quite a while.

FP: What was the motivation behind the "purge" that happened last year, in which several prominent members of the government were removed?

ALB: A lot of people don't realize that there's been a purge of the government about every 10 years since the revolution. They always say [that] these purges are being done for corruption, but the people who are expelled are always regarded as "insufficiently revolutionary," which means there are doubts about their loyalty to the Castros.

With this one last March, they took out 20 of the top members of the Cuban government in one fell swoop, including [cabinet secretary] Carlos Lage and [head of the Communist Party's foreign-relations department] Fernando Remírez de Estenoz, who was the point man on Elián González. These were huge figures. They took them down with the stroke of a pen, and they had them under surveillance for over a year. Two of these men – Lage and Felipe Pérez Roque, who was the foreign minister — were forced to write these letters apologizing to Raúl and apologizing for their sins against the government. It was truly a Stalinist moment.

FP: Let's talk about Ramiro Valdés, whom you mention in your book as an important figure.

ALB: Valdés is one of the last of the original Moncadistas [the small group of revolutionaries who began the Cuban Revolution with an attack on the Moncada barracks], but it's more than that. Valdés quickly ascended to the top by becoming in charge of seguridad — what we would think of in our country as the secret . And particularly, he took over an arm called G-2 for domestic surveillance. He was very notorious for his ruthlessness against civilians and for a program he started called UMAP in the 60s. Thousands of people were rounded up and sent to rehabilitation camps. It was one of the darkest periods in Cuban history, and it was the first time the international intelligentsia turned against Cuba. Valdés then went on to become hugely powerful and feared in Cuba in all intelligence matters and [later served as] minister of the interior. I've been in rooms in Cuba where you say the name "Ramiro Valdés" and it will literally clear the room. It's a name to be feared.

Valdés was supposed to have fallen from power [after Fidel retired]. [But] he came back, and now he's been given a slot in the Council of Ministers and the Council of State. I would say he's the third-most powerful man in Cuba. In Cuba, whoever serves as No. 3 has a history of going to the pokey. My advice to Valdés would be cuidado: Be careful. You may have history, you may have 55 years with the brothers, but you would be the first to survive being No. 3.

Raúl [recently sent Valdés] to Hugo Chávez to serve as Chávez's Cuban baby sitter and make sure he doesn't lose control in Caracas. Because if Chávez does lose control, then Cuba is toast. Cuba is surviving on the 100,000 barrels of oil they get every day from Chávez. That's how important Valdés is. He's there to tell Chávez how to run an authoritarian state and get rid of these pesky democratic intuitions, people who want to run against you, banks that want to own their own banks, and these companies that want to own their own companies.

FP: There's been so much stuff about a Cuban infiltration of the Chávez government. What's going on here?

ALB: The relationship between Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro is one of the rare authentic, personal relationships in politics. Chávez has a personal, deeply felt self-devotion to Castro. He's referred to him as a surrogate father. And that's Fidel's favorite role: the patriarch of the country. Castro once told me that if he'd made any mistakes — and he said that he hadn't — it would be that he had been too patriarchal.

Fidel truly saved Chávez's bacon during the attempted coup [against the latter in 2002]. Chávez owes a lot to Fidel, but that said, he's paying for it through the nose, and it's not making him popular in Venezuela. He's providing oil on terms that would rival Santa Claus. But on the other hand, Chávez entirely trusts Fidel and is willing to let him dispatch Ramiro Valdés to Caracas to basically supervise him and teach him the lessons — the perils — of playing with democratic reform.

Clearly, I think Raúl and the [Cuban] are a little worried about Chávez. I think they regard him as a man who lacks discipline. I don't want to say that they think he's bipolar, but there are concerns about his mood swings. If his mood swings the wrong way, what does that mean for Cuba?

FP: You have reported on Cuba for such a long time. How do you see it changing? What direction do you see things moving for the everyday Cuban?

ALB: Raúl and his men, with Fidel serving as the "convalescent in chief," are digging in. They're in a tight spot because the country is bankrupt. It has not been paying its bill to its foreign investors. It has eliminated the ration cards, workers' lunches … and many Cubans have really depended on these to survive. We're in a global economic recession, and it's just harder on Third World countries, much less a country that already had a failed economic system like Cuba. [But] the government has decided, rather than to provide more openings, to ratchet down. You can see that in the rhetoric with [U.S. President Barack] Obama. It started out very warm and fuzzy. Obama offered the olive branch. Next thing you know, the foreign minister is calling him "arrogant."

That's not to say that this is like a Stalinist gulag. It's a very repressive, authoritarian country. There are some openings. You can always complain in Cuba. And you can always have a lot of sex. Sex, baseball, and complaining are the national pastimes of Cuba. And they encourage these things in a very personal, private way — except of course, baseball — which gives Cubans just enough space to let off enough steam. The problem is when you start complaining publicly, [and then] you go to the pokey.

FP: You talk in your book about how meticulously planned the succession from Fidel to Raúl was.

ALB: Fidel told me himself. When I first interviewed him in 1993 for Vanity Fair, he told me — and I don't know if I paid attention to it at the time — he said, "Never doubt for a moment that the government will stop. The transition is planned and it will be seamless." And he's absolutely right. Of course, he didn't come out and say, "It will be my brother."

FP: What about after Raúl and [Fidel] Castro are both gone? Is there a plan for who might be a possible successor?

ALB: I'm banking on more Castros. I know a lot [of] people don't want to hear this, but I'm looking at Alejandro Castro Espín, Raúl's son. He's got two portfolios — intelligence and — and those are major portfolios. And I'm looking at the son-[in]-law of Raúl [his daughter Déborah's husband], Col. Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas. He's a hugely powerful man.

And then you have Mariela Castro, who would of course be the great white hope. All democrats and progressives are pining for Mariela because she is the bohemian. She has talked about opening up, about democracy. She's instituted rights for homosexuals; she's provided for free transgendered sex surgery. You can't get an aspirin in Cuba, but thanks to Mariela, you can get free transgender surgery. God help you if you're looking for a Band-Aid.

Castros ForeverJournalist Anne Louise Bardach on Raúl Castro's Cuba — Interview by Elizabeth Dickinson | Foreign Policy (10 March 2010)

Cuba’s Healthcare Horror

Cuba's Healthcare HorrorPosted by Humberto Fontova on Mar 10th, 2010 and filed under FrontPage.

"My nation is hardly perfect in . A very large number of our citizens are incarcerated in , and there is little doubt that the death penalty is imposed most harshly on those who are poor, black, or mentally ill. For more than a quarter century, we have struggled unsuccessfully to guarantee the basic right of universal care for our people. …but Cuba has superb systems of health care and universal ."

Thus did Jimmy Carter, in a May 2002 speech at the of Havana that was broadcast throughout Cuba, prostrate himself before a regime that has jailed and tortured political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin and murdered (in absolute numbers) more political prisoners in its first three years in power (out of a population of 6.4 million) than Hitler murdered in its first six years (out of a population of 70 million.) Not to mention that Carter's host, , insulted his nation as "a vulture preying on humanity" and came within a hair of nuking it.

Carter is not the only one to trumpet the supposed glories of Cuban health care. Let's consider the following quotes:

"Health care (in Cuba) was once for the privileged few. Today it is available to every Cuban and it is free….Health and education are the revolution's great success stories." — Peter Jennings, World News Tonight, April 3, 1989

"Castro has brought great health care to his country" — ABC's Barbara Walters, Oct. 11, 2002

"Even today, Cuba has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world." — Katie Couric reporting on NBC's Today, February 13, 1992

"Frankly, to be a poor child in Cuba may in many instances be better than being a poor child in Miami, and I'm not going to condemn their lifestyle so gratuitously."– Newsweek's Eleanor Clift on The McLaughlin Group, April 8, 2000

Contrary to the above "news analysts" and Human Rights spokespersons, Cubans have a drastically different story to tell. And even more unluckily for Castro and his MSM auxiliaries, the internet has pulled a stunning and (to them) infuriating end run around his traditional MSM defenses. Word is getting out about the disastrous state of Cuban health care.

During that cold snap in mid-January, Cuban dissidents snuck out, via internet, a report claiming that over forty patients had somehow frozen to death in Cuba's Mazorra mental hospital — not far from the one featured in Michael Moore's paean to Cuban health care, Sicko. Cuba's Stalinist regime, along with the media courtesans to whom it grants press bureaus and " visas," were utterly mum on the matter, however. It took three days — as the word spread through the mostly Spanish-language web –but finally the Stalinist regime issued a terse and exculpatory press-release on the matter.

But the story did not go away. Just last week, pictures of some of the dead were snuck out of Cuba. They proved that hypothermia alone was not the cause of death, any more than it was the cause of the death for the prisoners at Dachau or Buchenwald. Horrific malnutrition and savage beatings were plain to see for anyone genuinely interested in the causes.

Needless to add, such interested parties do not include Castro's favored members of the press. True to form, they dutifully connived with the regime, as they have for half a century, to hide the catalog of Castroite horrors.

But don't take my word for it. Apparently tormented by their consciences, two Spanish journalists have just released mea-culpa- books (sadly available only in Spanish) about this collusion. "Self-censorship is a very common practice," one writes. "No journalist on the island can write the truth of what happens there." Whatever their faults, at least these Spanish journalists finally came clean. When will Barbara Walters, Dan Rather, Andrea Mitchell, Ted Turner, Herbert Matthews and the rest of the bunch come clean? Don't hold your breath.

The Cuban health stories ignored or buried by the MSM would require an entire 24-hour network broadcasting for five decades to disclose. Senor Marzo Fernandez, an economist who, until defecting in 1996, served as Secretary General of Castro's Ministry of Nutrition gets us started. "The average height of Cubans has decreased by 8 centimeters in the past 25 years," he reported on Miami television. "For the first time in Cuban history, thousands of Macrocepahlic children (abnormally large heads in proportion to their bodies) due to protein (primarily milk) deficiencies have been found in the eastern provinces." This in a country that prior to the glorious revolution enjoyed a lower infant-mortality rate and more doctors and dentists per-capita than half of European countries, plus a larger middle class than Switzerland.

Not everyone welcomes the exposure of Cuba's human rights record. Not so long ago, Alan Colmes on Fox berated me saying: "Oh! Ok, so now 40 years after his death all of a sudden YOU discover all this horrible stuff about Cuba Che Guevara!"

"No, no, no," I patiently explained to Mr. Colmes, "many have been documenting and broadcasting accounts of Castro and Che Guevara's butcheries, imbecilities and cowardice for decades–but the mainstream media was too busy eating out of Castro's hand to pay attention. So these horrors could never make it past the mainstream media filter. Well Alan, I hate to break the news to you, but your side's media monopoly is over."

Cuba's Healthcare Horror | FrontPage Magazine (10 March 2010)

Chesimard’s trooper-killing accomplice denied parole

Chesimard's trooper-killing accomplice denied parolePublished: Wednesday, March 10, 2010By Trentonian Staff

TRENTON — Down in Cuba yesterday, New Jersey's Most Wanted Fugitive, Joanne Chesimard, must have cringed in sadness at the news that old friend Clark Edward Squire — aka Sundiata Acoli — again had been denied parole.

Chesimard — aka Assata Shakur — remains free in the tropical sunshine.

But her old accomplice isn't, having served 36 long years of a life sentence in Jersey's cold, gray state prisons, since both were convicted in the 1973 shootout killing of State Trooper Werner Foerster following a traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike.

The state parole board yesterday gave no indication when Sundiata Acoli's next parole hearing might be scheduled. He has had three now in 36 years, the last in 2004. But don't hold your breath. Acoli has a history.

He was a member of the Black Liberation and the Harlem Black Panther Party in the 1960s. In 1969 he and 13 others were in the Panther 21 conspiracy case.

But he was acquitted after two years, only to run into deep trouble in the 1973 shootout with two troopers at a traffic stop on the turnpike. Chesimard was convicted of shooting Foerster to death as he lay on the ground. They both went to here, but Chesimard escaped and fled to Cuba in 1979.

The latest letter from The Sundiata Acoli Campaign to the New Jersey Parole Board, posted on his Web site with photographs of him here in prison and of Chesimard in Cuba, said that Acoli "shot no one but merely managed to survive, but … his passenger, Zayd Shakur, and a New Jersey State Trooper, Werner Foerster, were killed."

The board was told Acoli "expressed remorse for the role he played in the tragedy that led to the shooting death," and at the seasoned age of 73, he was not a terrorist, not a threat to public safety, and had served his sentence with dignity.

The letter concluded, "Sundiata has touched so many lives in more ways than can be expressed in these letters. It is humbling to constantly meet people who share our love and admiration for him.

"Furthermore, a person should not be characterized by one tragedy or one moment in life. Our experiences in life go far deeper than one moment, and Sundiata has much more to offer.

"More than anything, his desire is to return home to watch his grandchildren grow up. We want this for him, and look forward to his return to our community."

Not this year. And maybe not in this lifetime.

Chesimard's trooper-killing accomplice denied parole – The Trentonian News: Serving Trenton and surrounding communities. ( (10 March 2010)

Fariñas rechaza ser hospitalizado tras recomendación oficial

Posted on Wednesday, 03.10.10Fariñas rechaza ser hospitalizado tras recomendación oficialBy AFPLA HABANA

Dos médicos del Gobierno cubano, que examinaron este miércoles al Guillermo Fariñas, en huelga de hambre hace 14 días, recomendaron hospitalizarlo pues está "deshidratado'' y perdió "28 libras'' (13kg) de peso, pero el opositor se negó, dijo su galeno personal.

"Le hicimos un examen físico con los médicos del gobierno y ellos le proponen que ingrese en una sala de terapia, pero él insiste en que sólo lo hará cuando caiga inconsciente'', dijo telefónicamente a la AFP Ismel Iglesias, médico opositor que asiste a Fariñas en su casa de Santa Clara (280 km al este de La Habana).

"Se siente muy delicado, la deshidratación es bastante marcada, tiene la piel seca, escamosa, pliegue cutáneo, los ojos están muy hundidos. Presenta los labios cuarteados, la lengua untosa'', añadió Iglesias.

Desde que inició la protesta el 24 de febrero, en reclamo de la de 26 presos políticos cubanos que asegura están muy enfermos, Fariñas, un sicólogo de 48 años, "ha perdido 28 libras de peso'' (ahora pesa 128 libras, 58kg, y mide 1.83 m)'' y ''podría volver a caer en shock en 48 horas'', apuntó.

Los médicos oficiales declinaron hacer declaraciones a la AFP sobre el opositor, que sufrió el pasado miércoles un shock hipoglucémico y fue hidratado y alimentado por vía intravenosa en dos hospitales de Santa Clara.

Fariñas, quien comenzó la protesta poco después de la muerte del político Orlando tras dos meses y medio de huelga de hambre, rechazó el lunes una propuesta de asilo en España, que le hizo un diplomático español.

También, según Iglesias, pedidos de "diplomáticos europeos, opositores cubanos e incluso de sus familiares'' para que deponga la huelga, que dice llevará hasta "las últimas consecuencias''. Sostiene además que, en caso de muerte, "sus hermanos disidentes'' la continuarán.

En ese sentido, el ingeniero opositor Félix Bonne, de 70 años, declaró a la AFP estar dispuesto a reemplazar a Fariñas en la huelga si este fallece. "Todos mis compañeros de lucha, sin excepción, han tratado de disuadirme (…), pero eso es una decisión mía que pienso llevarla hasta las últimas consecuencias'', dijo Bonne.

"Es lo único que da resultado contra un gobierno totalitario comunista'', añadió.

Fariñas rechaza ser hospitalizado tras recomendación oficial – Cuba en español – (10 March 2010)

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