Thursday, December 18, 2014

Local Polls Support New U.S.-Cuba Policy

Above is a sample of polls conducted by South Florida news websites in response to Wednesday's announcement of a new U.S. policy towards Cuba. The majority of the polls show strong support (above 60 percent) for the new policy.

Despite the local media's false presentation of a divided Miami, and constantly refocusing the debate around the opinion of the minority hard-line, the poll results above reflect the more accurate view of a rational Miami. Unfortunately, for as long as I've been monitoring the local media, the news stations have yet to center their reporting (and analysis) on this accurate widespread belief. 

Polls Results shown above (clockwise): Do you agree with the U.S. and Cuba re-establishing diplomatic relations? (Yes, 54%) Do you believe re-establishing relations between the U.S. and Cuba will benefit Cubans on the island? (Yes, 68%) Do you think vacation travel should be permitted to Cuba? (Yes, 66%) Do you agree with the U.S. trying to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba (Yes, 68%)

[The poll results also support the findings of the more recent Atlantic Council poll on U.S.-Cuba policy, and the FIU Cuba Poll.]

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Alan Gross is Free

Alan Gross: "I also feel compelled to share with you my utmost respect for and fondness for the people of Cuba... It pains me to see them treated so unjustly as a consequence of two governments' mutually belligerent policies. Five and a half decades of history shows us that such belligerence inhibits better judgement. Two wrongs never make a right."

- Video and transcript available at C-Span website.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Manuel Alzugaray's Provocation Plan

Recent reports of four Miami men arrested in Cuba have also implicated some prominent Cuban exiles in the alleged terrorist plot against Cuban military installations (Miami Herald report). One of those prominent Cuban exiles is Dr. Manuel A. Alzugaray who has denied his involvement with the arrested Miami men. But five years ago Alzugaray mentioned a secret plan to provoke the Cuban government in certain vulnerable areas, possibly through divisions in the military. 

The Cuban government has yet to publicly present any evidence that Alzugaray or any Cuban exile was behind this recent terrorist plot. And we should assume all men allegedly involved are innocent until proven guilty.

Back in 2009, Dr. Manuel Alzugaray, then re-elected as President of the Municipios de Cuba en El Exilio boasted of a secret plan to "provoke" the Cuban government and create the conditions where the Cuban people would "throw themselves [onto the streets]."

What is interesting about the comments in the video above are the details Alzugaray mentions. Alzugaray, as past and current president of the Miami Medical Team (MMT), spoke of plans to use MMT links with dissident groups inside Cuba to cause the provocation. "We have information of where we have to make the provocation," he said. According to the MMT, they have established links with dissident groups inside Cuba through their "Cuba Project" which sends humanitarian packages and provides humanitarian training (more information here). Another detail is Alzugaray mentioning that "we are going to provoke them because inside their military there is a division."

The Cuban government in 2011 accused Manuel A. Alzugaray of being a provocateur which he had also denied. His accuser, a Cuban spy, had infiltrated the MMT and its "Cuba Project."

[Transcript for video above.]

"The youth committee, the labor committee that will work on some programs inside Cuba which shall be with the Miami Medical Team [or] Doctors Without Borders creating what are known as the independent medical clinics.

"We are going to provoke them. And we know where we are going to provoke them because we have information of where they are weak [or vulnerable]. We have information of where we have to make the provocation.

"And, we are going to provoke them because inside their military there is a division. But, that division there that wants to throw itself [onto the streets] needs for the people to throw themselves [out into the streets] so that they can [finally] throw themselves [onto the streets]. They [the military] are not going to throw themselves first. The people need to throw themselves [first].

"We are going to provoke them. Yes, we are going make a humanitarian provocation and with humanitarian things [or actions] because we can't do anything else, but we know how to do what must be done well.

"We have been preparing these last two years since I left the presidency, methodically preparing [to] now begin the provocation against the [Castro] regime. If they accept the provocation they are going to look bad. If they don't accept it, then they are going to look bad as well."

Friday, April 18, 2014

Today in 1961...

If you go to the new Cuban (Exile) Memorial in Sweetwater you will notice a specific series of plaques. Those plaques identify tragic events such as the "Rastra de la Muerte" ("Cargo Container of Death" where nine captured Brigade 2506 soldiers died by asphyxiation) and the 1994 sinking of "El Remolcador 13 de Marzo." But, among those plaques, is the historic tragedy of the Bay of Pigs invasion.

The Bay of Pigs (namely its failure) seems to be one of the origins of the Cuban exile narrative focused on tragedy and suffering.

[Correction: I just recalled that the Cuban Memorial has a plaque for the anti-Castro guerrillas who operated in the Escambray Mountains. This event occurred before the Bay of Pigs and forms the earliest part of the Cuban exile narrative. These guerrillas were formed after the 1959 Cuban Revolution from "disgruntled officers from the revolutionary army" and formed an early potential operating area for the Bay of Pigs invasion. These guerrillas received weapons from the U.S. which were dropped by air. But, the guerrillas suffered from low numbers (around a thousand), lack of support (from nearby residents), and resources (such as food, and weapons would often be intercepted). American William A. Morgan was among the early leaders of the Escambray counter-revolution, but soon arrested and executed on March 11, 1961. Sources: here, here and here.]

[Cuban American Bar Association's 2011 Anniversary Issue on the Bay of Pigs (PDF)]
[ Link to the full April 18, 1961 St. Petersburg Times edition from above]

Monday, April 1, 2013

Yoani Sanchez Live in Miami [Updated Interviews]

If you can't make it in person, here's where you can see Yoani Sanchez in her two public appearances today in Miami.

Her first appearance will be at the Freedom Tower at 2:00 pm and streamed by Miami-Dade College. Click here to view.

Her second appearance will be at Florida International University at 7:30 pm and streamed here.

Locally, some television and radio stations will broadcast her speeches. Any recorded video and audio will later be posted here.

--- [Update] ---

Thanks to The Miami Herald for posting video of Yoani Sanchez at the Freedom Tower [update - thanks to the Generacion Asere blog and Miami Ready Studio, you can view Sanchez receive accolades from local leaders after this event]:

[English translation]

[In Spanish click here]

And, thanks to Florida International University for posting video of Yoani Sanchez later that evening:

[English translation]

[In Spanish click here]

[Additional audio and video interviews with Yoani Sanchez in Miami updated below.]

- Interview with Oscar Haza on Radio Mambi click here.
- Interview with The Miami Herald editorial board click here.
- Sanchez at the Roots of Hope/Knight Foundation "Tweet Up" click here.
- Interview with reporters from Diario Las Americas click here.
- Sanchez on 'A Mano Limpia' (AmericaTeVe) click here.
- Interview with Jaime Bayly on MegaTV click here.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Radio Mambi Attacks Yoani Sanchez, Unknowingly Puts Foot in Mouth

As famed Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez gets closer and closer to her Miami visit, militant and hard-line Cuban exiles are going through an interesting phase of introspection: How much respect or support should they show Sanchez during her internationally publicized trip around the world, while withholding their deep displeasure by her public opposition to the U.S. embargo towards Cuba and the presence of the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo. This is how Radio Mambi responded.


On Monday, the day before Yoani Sanchez's historic visit to Washington D.C., Radio Mambi's Armando Perez-Roura (founder and programming director) decided to make his position clear on the famous Cuban blogger. Some weeks ago, Perez-Roura admitted he thought about it carefully, especially after Sanchez's public comments in Brazil. He debated the issue with his group Unidad Cubana one Saturday, where he described the discussion as very divisive. I recall years ago Perez-Roura showing much admiration for Yoani Sanchez.

But, given her recent comments against U.S. policy, it seems that Perez-Roura can no longer give Yoani Sanchez his full support. Instead, on Monday Perez-Roura invited Tito Rodriguez Oltmans to his two-hour show "Tome Nota" to reflect their displeasure with Sanchez, and cast doubt on her motives.


Tito Rodriguez Oltmans, former exile militant of the group Salva a Cuba (Save Cuba) and Unidad Revolucionaria (Revolutionary Unity), is the long-time host of Radio Mambi's show "Puntos de Vista" (Points of View) which airs every Saturday at 8pm. In his two-hour show, Rodriguez talks about all sorts of conspiracies related to international communism, the infiltration of communists in the U.S., and his deep distrust of some dissidents inside Cuba. According to Rodriguez, Cuba's Ministry of the Interior has such complete control of communications inside the island that any regular mention of dissident activities in the international media is actually being permitted by the Cuban government. In other words, behind Yoani Sanchez lurks a communist plot in the shadows.

Armando Perez-Roura said he invited Rodriguez to his show because he had heard Rodriguez's previous show on Yoani Sanchez. Clearly, Perez-Roura had approved of those comments, as he approves of most guests who appear on his show, and continues to ban others he disapproves of, namely Democrats.

But, Tito Rodriguez Oltmans unknowingly made a huge error on Monday. As Rodriguez raised several questions about Yoani Sanchez and her blog, calling into question her motives for visiting Miami, and making absurd allegations, he was actually relying on questions being raised by Cuban government supporters who also oppose the famous dissident blogger. In other words, Tito Rodriguez Oltmans on Monday did a huge favor for his long-time enemy, the Cuban government.

If you listen carefully to the audio excerpts above, you'll notice that Rodriguez raised some of the same questions mentioned in Salim Lamrani's recent article titled "40 Questions for Yoani Sanchez" (If you were lucky to hear the entire show, Rodriguez relied heavily on this document). Lamrani is a journalist who writes frequently on several topics related to Cuba. To get an idea where he stands on U.S. policy towards Cuba, then check out his edited volume titled "Superpower Principles: U.S. Terrorism Against Cuba." He's written several other books about U.S. policy towards Cuba, which have been published in Spanish by Editorial Jose Marti, a publisher based in Havana. Lamrani has also been a long-time critic of Yoani Sanchez.]

I find it hard to believe that Tito Rodriguez Oltmans would use this material if he knew the author, especially given Lamrani's political stance on U.S. policy and support of the Cuban government. Most likely, Rodriguez was unconcerned about who wrote these questions, and more interested in his own agenda to defame Yoani Sanchez.


In their paranoid world, Rodriguez and Perez-Roura believe that Sanchez's message being transmitted throughout the world is another attack against their militant cause. They don't like the division and introspection that Sanchez's messages provoke. They prefer the unity of mind that exile militants are used to, where friend and enemy are easily recognized, and where the right solution for Cuba is clear: a political transition through righteous violence.

For those militants, Yoani Sanchez doesn't fit.